The Minerva Project
Dawn of the Red Arc

by SethraShnoo

Introduction by the Author

This is a repost of the first two chapters of The Minerva Project, an interactive online story I was writing years ago when the world wide web was still relatively new. The characters are all either named after people I know or are based on ones I just made up. It's kind of amazing to me now how badly-written this is. Not sure why we're even bothering to archive it. Also, some characters had to be renamed/changed because they were based on characters other people in the interactive story had created.


Thunderstorms beat down like a merciless slavedriver, reflecting the turbulence that had plagued Renuldar-Star for over 3 thousand years. The black smoke of the flames that would claim the lives of many a soul, without prejudiced, were indistinguishable from the black clouds of the storms. The fires burned so hotly, that even the fiercest pelting of Mother Nature's tears could not quell it.

In the midst of the anguished cries, there lies the remains of Trespina, once the largest and most beautiful city of Renuldar-Star, there is not barely any evidence of existence as the ever-hungry flames consume its foundations, and the rains wash away its ashes.

Above the roar of the flames, only one sound can be heard. The booming laughter of Elzeas echoes above the bloody battlefield-turned-cemetary.

Elzeas: HAH HA HA HAH HA HA HAH HA HA! This will teach you to defy me! HAH HA HA HAH HAH Ha huh?...?

Elzeas's attention is shifted to the sound of something moving, not 10 feet from where he stands. A pile of smoldering wood planks begins to shake and shudder, then falls over. A small girl, with skin and hair so white she insanely stands out from the darkness that surrounds her. Her eyes glow a strange fire-red hue. Crawling out from under the rubble, she stops short at the foot of Elzeas. She looks up at him with a blank stare, that almost seems to pierce right past him...

Elzeas sneers with a grin of pure evil: hmmmm...

He raises a hand, and the black shadows that surround the scene suddenly start to converge! A thousand tiny glowing red and yellow eyes appear amongst the shadows. As they close in on the helpless child, their demonic forms become more distinguishable. The girl raises her pale-white hands over her face, and screams!

As the demons leap in on her, a sudden blur shoots through the middle of them, scattering their bodies everywhere. The child is tossed aside, too. She scrambles to hide in a pile of wreckage. Elzeas turns and looks in the direction the blur went. He sees the brief figure of a man appear, then disappear, just a split second before feeling something knock him right on the jaw! He feels himself lift into the air on impact and fly backwards. Landing on his rear-end, he quickly recovers and looks up to see the his attacker. A tall, silent man in shoddy-looking black armor, and a torn red cape stands before him, holding a huge poleax that glimmers with silver and gold hues amidst the darkness. The man's long black hair and tattered cape blow wildly in the wind. Elzeas gets to his feet, his shining gold armor and perfect cape a stark contrast to that of the dark stranger's.

Elzeas: Who is this? Who are you?! How dare you?!

Several other figures appear out of the shadows, behind the stranger.

Voice from Shadows: Oh, this one's got spunk, huh, Strykes?! Heh heh heh heh heh heh...

Female Voice from Shadows: Yeah! Wow! Look! He can destroy powerless humans. Ooohooohh! I'm sooo scared!

Another Voice: Yeahhh hehhe heh heh heh! I don't think he'd fare too well against REAL warriors! Ha hahahh hah hah hah!


Several figures move forward and become visible out of the shadows: a sleek young woman, a elf man, and a small monkey-like imp who leaps onto the Stranger's shoulders.

Imp: OHH! We've got a LIVE ONE, Strykes. Can I have him? Can I? Huh? Can I? Can I? heh hehh hehhe HAHA HA HA HAHA!

Woman: Yeah! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! He'd make a great yard ornament! hha ha ha ha ha ha!

Man's Voice: Enough.

The tall stranger steps aside, as an even taller man walks up behind him.

Tall Man: We are the Red Arc.

Elzeas: Red Arc?! What's that?! WHAT IS THAT?! I don't ever want to see you here again! Is that understood?!

The woman, the elf-man, and the imp burst out laughing.

Imp: Oh, come on, Strykes, you HAVE to laugh at that one! heheh hehhehh hehhehh

Strykes is strangely silent and never breaks a smile. It is as though he knows...something...

Tall Man: Are you telling the Red Arc what the Red Arc can and can't do?! Excuse me. (He turns around) Strykes!

Strykes stands up straighter, as if startled.

The tall man turns his back to Elzeas and walks back exactly the way he came, past Strykes and the others.

As he walks away, the others hear him say: Get rid of him.

Elf-Man: Oh, darn! I thought it was MY turn, this time!

Elzeas: Didn't I tell you people to GET OUT?!

Before Elzeas has nearly completed his sentence, Strykes disappears! (The imp tumbles to the ground!)

Imp: HEY!

Strykes reappears far behind Elzeas and lauches a psychic shockwave, nailing Elzeas from behind! As Elzeas is launched into the air, Strykes halts his movement and levitates him in midair. Strykes raises his arms high over his head, then brings them down full force. Elzeas launches headfirst into a pile of rocks!

The imp, elf-man, and woman are laughing hysterically at this point.

Imp: Yeah! Go, Strykes! HAH HA HA! Yeah, boy! HA HAHA HAHA!!!

Elzeas picks himself up out of the rocks. He is fuming!

Elzeas: Now, you will see the destructive power with which I LEVELED THIS CITY!! DEMONS!!

Elzeas searches the battlefield with his eyes, looking for his demons. Instead, his eyes catch sight of a large figure amidst the smoke, rain, and shadows. As he follows it up, he sees that it is some sort of odd demon the likes of which he had never seen. The demon's face, arms, chest, and hands are stained with blood...alot of it fresh. Elzeas becomes enrapt in horror when he once again looks down at the ground surrounding this creature. There lie the remaining body parts of his demon followers. The large demon is still holding a Shadow Demon's arm in it's left hand.

Elf-Man: Oh, yeah, forgot to tell you! Kila took care of your demons while we talked! HAH HAH HAHH HHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!

Elzeas, for the first time in his empty, evil existence, knew fear. He got up, turned and started to run. As he turned he ran smack into Strykes's black armor. Strykes firmly grasped Elzeas's helmet. Elzeas was paralyzed and could not move.


Strykes's whole body was engulfed in a strange blue-and-white swirling light. He let go of the helmet, and Elzeas fell to the ground. His energy was completely drained, and he changed into an old man. His feeble body could not stand up in his heavy golden armor. Without a word, Strykes turn around and walked silently in the same direction the Tall Man had gone. The other three stopped rolling with laughter and ran after him.

Imp: Hey, Strykes, wait up!

Strykes stopped short as something in front of him caught his eye. It was the small, pale child. She had crawled from the rubble, and was kneeled at his feet. The two stood staring at each other, as the rains pelted them both. The child's tears were eclipsed by the pouring raindrops. Without a word, Strykes continued past her. He, his three devilish cronies, and the large demon, Kila, headed towards a large ship of some sorts that was parked amongst the dying rubble of the village. As they approached, a hatch opened up from underneath. Another young woman peered out and waved her arm at them.

Woman #2: Come on, guys. Let's go.

The five strangers headed into the ship.

Woman #2: Where's Brigade?

Meanwhile, Elzeas was struggling to get to his feet. As he stammered to move, he heard the voice of the Tall Man again..

Tall Man: Damn Strykes. Never does finish the job!

Brigade leaps up into the air, concentrates a huge ball of energy that illuminates the whole area for a five-mile radius, and with a booming roar, slams it down on Elzeas with all his might! The young, albino girl, stared blankly at this event. When the lights died down, there was nothing left of Elzeas but a smoldering crater where he had been, and scant pieces of his gold armor. All went dark. The lightning crashed, and the child caught a glimpse of Brigade, still suspended in midair. With the second flash of lightning, Brigade was gone. Suddenly, a brush of wind hit the child from behind, as the ship began to take off! The noise from its engines was deafening. The lights it gave off were blinding. The girl squinted to look up at it, and covered her ears. As it took off, she could see the words "RED ARC" painted in a drippy blood-red color on the underside. The ship pulled in its undercarriage, did a 3/4 turn, and started off into space. The last thing that was seen before it sped away, was a tiny, white bird flying towards it.....

Strykes, sitting silently in a chair inside the ship, watches the tarnished remains of the city get smaller and smaller on a monitor screen as the ship flies away. The rains still beat down mercilessly, as if trying to forever wash away the memories...


Chapter 1

Nina Andante and Brigade Delbrack pilot the Red Arc into the Hangar of the Lokdos Space Station. After the ship lands, the hatch opens. Strykes is sitting in his chair, his elbow is rested on the table, his chin rested in his palm, sound asleep. Kopa the Imp pokes him several times, but he doesn't move.

Kopa: Hey! Strykes! Strykie! Wake up!

Kopa leaps onto Strykes's shoulders and puts his hands over Strykes's face, opening his eyelids.

Kopa: YooHOO! Strykes! Wake Up!

Strykes wakes up and shoos the imp off his shoulders. Kopa leaps to the table in front of Strykes.

Kopa: Time to face the boss....

Strykes and Brigade march down the long hallway leading to Lord Agisuro's Chamber. They are met halfway by a tall, voluptuous woman with blond hair, a red cape, and a very long sword. The blade of her sword is in the floor, and she leans on it with her hands. Upon seeing the two men, she lifts the sword, spins in around, and slides in into the sheath attached to her belt. She walks up to Strykes.

Camira: Well, hello, Beejy Weejy! How was your trip?

She puts her arms around him and practically falls limp. Strykes, sternly pushes her back a bit, and just shakes his head.

Brigade: Baroness, we are on important business. We have no time for talk. Strykes, let's go.

Brigade looks less than happy. Strykes looks at the Baroness one more time, then walks past her and continues down the hall. Brigade follows.

Camira: Hmmph! (She stares at the two men as they continue down the hall.)

When Brigade and Strykes reach the end of the hallway, the doors at the end slowly part. They hear a cold voice: Come in.

They enter the dark room. The door shuts behind them, blocking out all light completely.

Voice: Disappointing. How very...utterly...DISAPPOINTING!!!

At the crack of that final word, two large torches light on both sides of the room. The flames spew forth to the ceiling. Agisuro sits on his throne, with his chin rested in his palm. Chancellor Surge smiles wickedly at the two men.

Surge: heee hee heeheeee! Too bad I won't be around to see this.

Surge picks up his staff, and teleports away in a cloud of blue-gray smoke.

Agisuro: (huge sigh) What am I gonna do..? Do you realize my most profitable corporations were housed in Cordonia? I sent you guys out to do ONE simple task..Destroy that nut Elzeas, and stop him from tearing my city to shreds. And THIS is what I get? What do I do?

Brigade: With all due respect, m'lord, we have destroyed Elzeas, and all his demon followers as we....

Agisuro: WHAT AM I TO DO?!?!?!?

Agisuro stands up suddenly, and roars! The flames in the torches fan and flare, causing Strykes to shield his face and step back.

Agisuro (pointing to the door): Delbrack, leave.

Brigade: But..

Agisuro (more sternly): leave.

Brigade nods, turns around, waits for the doors to open, and walks out. The doors close. Strykes looks at Agisuro with an expression that would almost indicate he knows what's gonna happen next.

Agisuro (turning his eyes on Strykes): I can't risk damaging Delbrack, at least not yet...but someone has to pay for this...mistake (Agisuro hisses his words like a snake.)

Strykes lifts a hand, and opens his mouth slightly, as if to say something, but before he knows what's happening, he feels himself slam into the wall. Before he can even recover, he feels himself getting hit hard in the side by something, causing him to roll across the floor. He staggers to get up, but is struck again by something super hot. He makes an attempt to teleport, but is hit square in the stomach. At this point, he drops to his knees and falls over, face down. Agisuro appears hovering above him.

Agisuro: You are the most worthless piece of trash I have ever picked up off the street in my life!

Strykes coughs a few times and spits blood on the floor.

Strykes: ...Sir....please....not for me....for....

Strykes feels something hit him square on the back, hard. He's frozen for a moment, then falls unconscious...

Voice: Strykes! Oh...Stryyyyyyykkkkeeeeessssss!! WAKE UP!!

Strykes opens his eyes slightly. He is dazed and lying in his bed. Kopa is hanging from the bunk bed above him by his tail. He dangles upside down in front of Strykes.

Kopa: Wake up, buddy. The master has a job for you...

Strykes attempts to move, but he is very weak and sore.

Strykes: I...cannot......

Kopa: You have to. If you don't come in five minutes, he'll come get you himself....

Upon hearing that, Strykes struggles to pull himself up out of the bed, and head once more down the dreaded hallway. Upon entering Lord Agisuro's Chamber, Chancellor Surge is holding a raggedy-looking kid up by the back of his shirt. The kid is struggling to get free, but he is bound by magical ropes.

Surge: He stowed away on one of our Freight Ships. Maybe we can find some use for him...heh heh heh hhehehehehehheehhehh HAHHAHAH!

Agisuro: Enough, Surge, drop him!

Surge lets go of the kid and falls to the floor. Strykes is practically limping into the room.

Agisuro: Ah, Strykes, now's your chance to redeem yourself and prove to me that you're still loyal and worth something. I have a little job for you. Something, I think, only you can handle.

Strykes is silent.

Agisuro: See this little sewer rat? (He points to the kid.) He was caught stealing food and cargo from my ships. I want you to teach him what we do to those who steal from Lord Agisuro.

Strykes: But, Sir!

Agisuro: Don't argue, Strykes. Surge, go!

Surge: Of course, my liege.

Surge dissipates the magical ropes around the boy, and teleports away again. The boy gets up and runs for the doors. He bangs on them, but cannot get them open.

Agisuro: You KNOW what to do, Strykes.

Agisuro fades into the shadows, and disappears. Strykes turns and looks at the kid whose now trying to pry the doors open with his hands. The boy stops what he's doing for one moment, and turns his head to look at Strykes, his hands frozen on the door. Strykes covers his face with his hands, and begins to shake, like he's having a seizure. Within moments, he begins to transform into a huge, green dragon-like creature, with fangs, claws, horns, wings, and a huge tail. The boy turns as white as a sheet, as he watches this horrifying spectacle. Completely weakened with fear, he slides down to his knees. After the transformation, Strykes lets out a deafening roar. The boy covers his ears, then sits frozen in fear against the wall. After finishing his blood-curdling scream, Strykes relaxes, and drops to his knees, still weak from the beating he got earlier. He picks himself up in a few moments and walks toward the boy, his huge tail swaying back and forth.

The boy mutters, barely able to talk: oh, god, no...

When Strykes gets close enough to the boy, he kneels down, and places his hand on his head, like he did to Elzeas.

Suddenly, he hears a voice: No! You can't!

Strykes stops and searches the room with his eyes.

Voice: Don't do this! I know you're not really bad! This is wrong!

Strykes lets go of the boy's head, and turns around to scope out the room. There, high atop Agisuro's throne, at almost the level of the ceiling, is a tiny white bird.

Voice: Please don't.....please...

The shadows and lights caused by the torches flicker on the ceiling. The tiny white bird disappears within a flickering shadow. Strykes shakes his head. He is wondering if he's going crazy. He turns and looks at the boy. It would appear the boy has fainted. Strykes picks him up and slings him over his shoulder. He teleports out of the room.

Strykes staggers down the hallway, carrying the boy over his shoulder. He approaches the Baroness's room, and knocks on the door.

Camira: Come innnnnn!

Strykes opens the door and walks in with the boy. Camira sees him in her mirror, and spins around on her stool to face him.

Camira: Well, hello, handsome. I see you came all dressed up!

Strykes, as if completely ignoring her, carries the boy to her bed and lays him on it.

Strykes: There. Add him to your team.

Camira: What?! WHAT?!?! I don't want that..that...THING!!!

Strykes: He has powers. He'll be able to fight. If you teach him.

He heads out the door, but Camira gets in front of him. Again, she wraps her arms around him.

Camira (whispering): Come back some time in your human form...

Strykes again pushes her away, sternly. Then walks half-limping back to his own quarters. Camira folds her arms.

Camira: Hmpph! What is WITH that guy?! Is it me? Is it my breath? Is it my makeup?! Oh nellies!

She runs back to the mirror, and pulls down her eyelid. Then she looks over at the boy.

Camira: Great! Just my luck! All the men on this bucket and I get stuck with that..kid!!

Strykes returns to his room, crashes into his bed, and falls asleep.

Voice: Thank you!

Strykes: AGGHH! WHAT?!

Strykes gets up so fast, his head hits the top bunk above his bed, which sends him down flat again. The bump also sends Kopa flying out of the top bunk and into the wastebasket in the corner of the room.

Kopa: HeeeyyyyyyYY! (THOOMP!) Leemme outtta here!!

Strykes looks up and sees a pale-white girl with gleaming red eyes standing in front of his bed.

Girl: Thank you.

Strykes, still in Dragon form, looks incredibly confused. He rubs his head.

Strykes: You're're the girl from the city...from

Girl: You're hurt.

She reaches out to touch him, but he backs off quickly, like a cobra.

Strykes: not touch me. Please. Do not...

Girl: Why?

Strykes: Because I'm curs....Hey! Wait a minute...How did you get here?!

Girl: I came aboard your ship.

Strykes: How is that possible?! And why would you follow me anyway!? Do you realize where you are?!

Girl: I stowed away. I had to follow you. My all destroyed...But you saved me. You saved my life from that wicked Elzeas. I have no one else now. Only you.

Strykes: (huge sigh, and he puts his head down) No...I left you to die. You should not thank me. I did nothing. Lord Agisuro sent us to kill Elzeas before he destroyed Cordonia, but we did not arrive in time. And I left you to die.

Girl: I was not dying. But I would have died if you hadn't pulled me away from those demons. Thank you so much. But I have no one now. Only you.

Strykes gets up and roars: STOP SAYING THAT!! If all you have is me, than you truly do have NO ONE!!

He walks over, grabs Kopa by the tail, and yanks him out of the wastebasket. Kopa swings back and forth in Strykes's hands like a pendulum.

Kopa: Oooh. I see stars. Do you see stars, Strykes? Huh? Do ya'?

Strykes lets go of his tail, and Kopa falls to the floor with a thud. He quickly recovers and leaps onto Strykes's shoulders.

Kopa: So...where'd you pick up the albino chick? Isn't she a little young for you?

Strykes just rolls his eyes. He picks the girl up.

Strykes: I have to get rid of you before Agisuro finds out about you. I will take you back to Cordonia.

Girl: NO! I cannot go back there! I will die if I go back there!

Strykes: You will die if you stay here.

Girl: Agisuro....will not know.

Suddenly, the girl is engulfed in a blinding light, right within Strykes's arms. He accidentally lets go of her, but she does not drop to the floor. Kopa and Strykes both shield their eyes. When the light ceases to exist, a tiny white bird is hovering where the light, and the girl, used to be.

Bird: He will not know.

The bird flies over and lands on Strykes's left shoulder.

Kopa: Hey! This shoulder's not big enough for two of us, y'know?!

Strykes: What are you? Who are you..?

Bird: I am Sethra. I am a Shnoo. I am now the last of my kind, that I know of. Cordonia was home to the last few Shnoos in the world, and now they are all gone, except me.

Strykes: My Benjamin...Benjamin can call me BJ...

Sethra: Okay, I will...BJ.

BJ: But you MUST stay hidden!

Sethra: I will.

(Sethra crawls underneath the part of BJ's cape that's connected to his shoulder, so that she cannot be seen.)

Kopa: Strykes, come on! Why are ya' doin' this, man?! Just take her off somewhere and dump her, fer cryin' out loud.

BJ brushes the imp off his shoulder. Kopa leaps to the top bunk.

BJ (walking out the door): Because....I owe's my fault....

And he leaves. Kopa just sits there, looking really confused.

---- END OF CHAPTER 1 ----

Chapter 2

In a far-off region of Renuldar-Star, in the decimated Tarna Valley, two small, cloaked figures walk amongst the tarnished remains of an ancient civilization. There is nothing left but iron-spiked fences, bent with war, leaning columns of a Grecian-like design, and busted statues - some almost completely intact, some with variuous parts broken off. The two cloaked figures approach the foot of Mt. Colvaius - the largest volacano of the night-enshrouded Tarna Valley.

Cloak1: Well, there it is.

Cloak2: Yeah, okay, so let's go home.

Cloak1: Not so fast, ditzhead. I ain't leavin' till we find what we came for.

Cloak2: I've had all I can take of this frickin' place! It gives me the damned creeps!

Cloak1: We have a mission.

Cloak2 (pointing to the top of the volcano): There is no need for us down here, to climb all the way up there. Binoculars.

Cloak1: Binoculars?

Cloak2: Binoculars. (He pulls a pair out of his cloak)

Cloak1: You're sick.

Cloak2 (holding the binoculars up to his eyes): Suit yourself.

Cloak1: So whaddya' see?

Cloak2: Nothin'. Let's go.

While he is still holding the binoculars, the ground suddenly begins to shake.

Cloak2: Knock it off, Daryn.

Cloak1: What?! Oh, yeah, right! Like I can do that!

Cloak2 (takes the binoculars away from his eyes): Then what can?

The ground begins shaking so much, that the two figures lose their balance. Cloak2 drops the binoculars, shattering the lenses.

Cloak2: ShiiIIIiiIiiTtttTT!! IttTTtt'SssSss ttTthHHhhhe VvvvVollLllLCcccaAaAnnnNNnNooOOoOOO!

The ground finally stops shaking, and the two figures fall to their knees. #2 looks at #1.

Cloak1: Shut up! Just shut up! Don't even say it!

Cloak2: What did I...?

Suddenly they hear what sounds like gigantic footsteps!

boom boom Boom Boom BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM!

With each "BOOM" the ground shakes harder and harder. The two people are bounced around, as if on a water bed. When the footsteps stop, they hear some kind of mechanical whirrring sound. The two look up at the top of the volcano. Two gigantic, mechanical hands reach up out of the volcano and grasp the top. Then, the rest of what's attached to those hands slowly rises up. It's a gigantic, mechanical, anubis of some kind. In one swift move, it leaps high into the air, then lands, one foot on each side of the volcano crater. It looks something like a velociraptor with the head of a jackal and giant dragon wings. There are cannons mounted on the beast in several areas. The mechanized creature rears back, spreads its wings, and lets out a deafening SCREECH! The cannons begin firing, sending explosions into the air like enormous fireworks.

Cloak1 & 2: SHIT!

They turn and start running like hell!

Cloak2: Goddammit, Daryn! This is (pant pant) the stupidest (pant pant) mess you've ever (pant pant) gotten me into! When I get my hands on you!!


The mechanical giant takes a humongous, spring-loaded leap, and lands right in front of the two cloaked figures. The tremor caused from the landing causes them to fall back several feet. The remaining columns of the Tarna Valley begin to fall like dominoes. Cloak1 rolls quickly to avoid the falling debris, but one of the columns lands too close, pinning Daryn beneath it. Daryn: CRAP! Lute! I'm stuck!

Cloak2 (Lute) was too dazed from the tremor to be of help. He just sat there, kneeled over shaking his head.


The huge metal beast reaches down with a colossal, clawed hand, and smashes through the column, grabs Daryn, then rears back again. It thrashes about wildly, sreeching and firing the cannons. When it's done, the wings begin to flap, and it slowly lifts off. Lute is now recovering. The hood of his cloak has come off. He has long red hair, and a pale face with strange, paint-like markings on it.

Lute: DARYN!!

Lute tears the rest of his cloak off. Underneath he has strange wings that resemble a dragonfly's wings, only they look feathery instead of insect-like. In one easy move, Lute leaps into the air, rolls into a ball, and when he comes uncurled, he has transformed into some kind of fuzzy, red dragon with wings. He immediately flies after the robot anubis.

Lute: DARYN!!

But the winds caused by the beast's wings is too powerful for the tiny red dragon. He is blown backwards, into the side of a mountain. Unfortunately, it's a steep mountain, and Lute goes rolling headfirst down the side. As he rolls he turns into a giant snowball that gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger as it heads on a collision course down the mountainside..until CRASH!! Right into a crapload of trees! The snowball breaks apart. Lute stumbles out, dazed and dizzy. He falls over, unconscious..

Lute runs happily down the sunny beach. He is chasing women clad scantily in 2-sizes-too-small bikinis. As he merrily prances in the sand, leaping higher with each jump, he runs right for one of the gigglig beach-bimbos. Then run towards each other, with arms outstretched. They get closer..closer..close...WHACK!!


Lute feels like his forehead was just cracked with a whip.

Lute: Heeeyyyyy! *cough* What the hell?

A very tough-looking woman, dressed in the uniform of the Starkrest Police stands next to Lute's bed in the infirmary.

Woman: What happened? Where is Daryn?

Lute (sitting up and rubbing his eyes): Well...I have good news and bad news....

Woman: Spit it out.

Lute: The good news is, we found out what was causing the earthquakes around the Tarna Valley.

Woman: And.

Lute: And the bad news got Daryn.

Woman: Whaddya' mean, "got"? Is she alive? Was she taken hostage?

Lute: Honestly, Valia, I don't know. I really don't know. If it wanted to kill her, why did it not kill me, too. If it kidnapped her, then WHY would it want to kidnap her?

Valia: What IS this "it", you keep talking about? You mean it WASN'T the volcano causing the quakes?

Lute: No. I wish it was. THAT I would've been able to handle...

The large, winged, reptilian robot glides through space towards the Lokdos Space Station, home of Lord Agisuro and the Vicious Circle. It glides with ease into the hangar, uprights itself in midair, then slowly lands on its two feet. The wings fold in and the beast goes limp as it shuts down. A few moments later, a small hatch opens on the outside of the left foot. A strange-looking old man walks out, followed by two odd-looking creatures. The look like miniature ogres, one is almost solid green, the other is solid red.

Old Man (in a very strange accent): Pokin! Modo! This way!

The old man twitches and makes weird facial expressions as he talks and walks. He would appear to be a little mentally unstable. We walks with a strange limping gait, down the hallway to Agisuro's Chamber. The two ogres follow behind him. The red one, Pokin, is carrying an unconscious, cloaked figure. Moments later, they arrive at Agisuro's lair. Agisuro's throne is flanked by Chancellor Surge, and strange woman.

Agisuro: Good evening, Dr. Domaine. It is right for me to assume you have good news. Otherwise, you would not dare show your face here.

Domaine: Oh yeesss! Yes! Yes! Yeessss! My battleoid, the Anubis, has brought you a present! Yeessss!

He raises his left hand up and makes a strange gesture to the ogres behind him. Pokin steps forward, dumps the cloaked figure in front of Agisuro's throne, then once again, takes his place behind Domaine. Domaine hobbles over to the cloaked person and puts it up in a sitting position. Agisuro's glaring eyes impatiently follow his every move.

Domaine: I present to you, sir...heehHEHh...VOILA!!

Domaine pulls the hood off the cloaked figure. Daryn's long, red hair unfurls and falls down around her shoulders.

Agisuro (stands up, infuriated): WHAT IS THIS?!

Domaine (cowering and flinching a little): She is an officer of the Starkrest Police. She is Daryn Versetti, the world's greatest INCOGNITO spy. She is a merciless mercenary, and using my Anubis, I have accomplished what no other terrorist that has ever wanted to get their hands on her could do!

Agisuro: ENOUGH!!!

The gale of Agisuro's roar blows Domaine back a bit. The ogres cower, too.

Agisuro (sitting down): You tell me you have the most powerful battleoid in the universe, and this is what you do to prove it to me? You kidnap a girl? Out of my sight!

Suddenly, the woman on the right side of the throne speaks out.

Woman: Sir, if I may be so bold. Don't let him leave.

Agisuro (turning his head to her with a glare): You have something to add, Heretica?

Heretica (leans and whispers in his ear): Domaine is a fool, but I have seen his battleoid. The Anubis could be a useful weapon. Also, if that..girl..really is a Starkrest Officer, she could be of...special our cause.

Agisuro (leans away): Hmmm...Dr. Domaine, return to the Anubis. Take the girl with you, but DO NOT attempt to leave. I will let you know when I have further need for your..assistance. Begone!

With that, the red ogre Pokin grabs the limp Daryn, slings her over his shoulder, and the three leave the throne room.

Agisuro: Surge.

Surge: Yes, m'lord?

Agisuro: Contact Chief Valia about our...guest.

Surge: Yes, sir. Right away, sir.

Surge grabs his staff and teleports out of the room.

Heretica: I'll work on Strykes.

Agisuro: Good.

---- END OF CHAPTER 2 ----

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