Chapter 9 - Holes of the Iron Moles
David stared at the castle that was the Iron Legion's base through his binoculars.
Behind him was the rest of the special squad, assembled to infiltrate the base and to eliminate the threat of the Iron Legion, and the cars that they had ridden in to the edge of the forest.
Suddenly, the ground began to rumble.
David turned around. The rumbling was coming from beneath the squad car that he had driven here.
"Back away!" David yelled as he jumped back.
Suddenly, the ground cracked and a figure burst through - straight through the ground and then the squad car.
The figure landed on top of the car. It was a cyborg, covered in the standard silver armour of the Iron Legion, but with huge claws as hands and a mole-like helmet.
The cyborg stared menacingly at David with its invisible eyes.
Abruptly ending the stare, the cyborg jumped into the air towards David, its claws spinning to form drills.
A few hours ago, the Captain addressed the room in the Justice Knight Headquarters, "Thank you all for assembling here today."
The conference room fell silent, and the people sitting in the rows of chairs turned to the Captain. Besides David, Emma, Catherine, Sasha, and the rest of the Network, twenty of the finest from the local police force were there as well.
Officer Jessica Pink looked around the room nervously. Some of those present were the greatest cops that the city had ever seen.
"Hey, you fought for this, kiddo. Now's not the time to be nervous," whispered the man next to her.
"R-right," Jessica whispered back, "Thanks, Arthur."
Jessica exhaled a little, thankful that her mentor was here with her.
The Captain continued, "We have discovered the location of the Iron Legion's base."
The room burst into murmurs.
"And you are here," the Captain raised his voice to get the room's attention again, "because you have been chosen to partake in an operation to take down the Iron Legion once and for all."
The Captain continued, "According to our intel, the Iron Legion's base is a castle located in a clearing in the middle of the forest just outside of town. The castle is powered by its own generators, so we can't cut off their power remotely. There are approximately a hundred or so cyborgs in that castle, and all of them are combat capable. Beyond that, we don't have much more intel. The squad will ride to the edge of the forest, perform reconnaissance, and then decide on the next course of action. You will each be wearing a camera and a mic, which will stream what you see and hear back to us for information analysis and support."
The Captain gestured to David, "David, who some of you know as Justice Knight Justice will be the field leader, while I will oversee the operation here, along with the rest of the Network as support. Emma and David are the only two that have an exosuit, so leave any generals to them. The rest of you will be equipped with our prototype short swords, which have been proven to be able to hurt the cyborgs."
The Captain paused a little. Now, he was going to have to introduce Catherine. He took a sip of water from his glass, and continued, "Also, Catherine Alber will be part of the squad as well. She is a cyborg."
The room burst into shocked whispers.
The Captain tried to continue, "I know some of you are-"
The room got louder.
"HEY!" the Captain yelled.
The room quieted down.
"I know some of you are surprised by this. But she has been vetted, and she will be treated as an equal member of the team, do you understand?"
Some in the room nodded, while others held their reservations.
The Captain continued, knowing that this was probably the best response he was going to get, "Good. Now follow Dr. Onodera into the lab. She will explain how your prototype short swords work, as well as assign one to each of you."
Catherine sat alone in the empty cafeteria with a cup of coffee.
"I thought all you needed was some feeding tube?" a voice mockingly asked.
Catherine turned to see the voice's owner. It was Emma.
Cathy wanted to say something back - something that was spiteful and mean as well. Instead, she repressed it and said, "I like the taste. I like to feel it as it runs through the only human parts of me left."
Emma rolled her eyes, "Whatever."
"You don't believe me?"
"I don't trust you."
Catherine grimaced, "I guess... that's expected."
"And don't think you're getting off that easily just because you're helping us," Emma said, threateningly, "I will make sure that you get punished for killing all those innocent people!"
Cathy clenched her teeth. Then, she quietly said, "I know you probably won't believe me... But, I've never killed anyone."
"Yeah, like I would believe a cybo-"
Emma stopped. Tears were streaming down Cathy's face.
"And now, I might have to kill my own father and brother," Cathy cried out between sobs.
Emma looked at the crying girl in front of her. Awkwardly, she apologized, "I-I'm sorry, I shouldn't have assumed."
Unsure of what to do or say, Emma sat quietly until Cathy was able to stop crying.
Sasha watched as the squad practiced with their new weapons through the window.
That was all she could do right now. After all, what good was an information analyst without information? She didn't have any plans to make, and she couldn't go into combat. All she could do was wait at the base and hope that she could be helpful in some way.
Davids voice startled Sasha.
"D-David!" Sasha blushed.
"Yeah. It's just that I feel like I'm... useless."
"What?" David replied, surprised, "Of course you aren't. You and the Network have helped out a lot! The support that you guys provide is invaluable."
Sasha smiled a little. Then, she nervously asked, "But... am I useful to you?
"Sasha, I just said that-"
"No..." Sasha looked away, a little embarrassed, "I mean... am I useful to you?"
David looked at Sasha. Suddenly, he realized what she meant and he pulled her into hug.
Sasha gasped a little, surprised.
"Of course you are," David said.
Hearing that, Sasha relaxed and hugged back.
"Sir, it's time," Emma's voice suddenly pierced through the atmosphere.
David and Sasha quickly undid their hug, both a little embarrassed.
"Thank you, Emma," David said.
Emma nodded and walked away.
"Sasha..." David was unsure of what to say.
"Go," Sasha said, "We can talk about this after you've taken care of the Iron Legion."
David nodded and headed out into the battlefield.
A few hours later, David and the rest of the special squad were at the edge of the forest, spying on the Iron Legion's castle when the ground began to rumble.
"Back away!" David yelled as he jumped back from the source of the rumbling.
A mole-like cyborg burst through the ground and through the squad car that David had driven.
The cyborg landed on top of the car and stared at David with its invisible eyes. Then, it lunged at David. In mid-air, it clasped its claws together into drills, which started spinning.
David jumped to the side as the cyborg thrust its drill at the spot that David was standing at only a moment ago.
Quickly pressing a button on the Knight-Former on his belt, David yelled, "Suit up!"
Following suit, Emma also pressed a button on the Knight-Former on her wrist and yelled, "Suit up!"
As the Justice Knight exosuits formed, the rest of the squad drew their short swords.
Reluctantly, Catherine pressed a spot on her arm, causing her Iron Bee armour to burst out from her body, ripping her dress apart, and forming her battle armour. She pulled her bee-like half helmet over her head to finish the transformation.
The Captain's voice yelled out of the squad's earbuds, "They know you're here, charge the castle, now!"
The squad charged towards the castle.
The cyborg snarled and jumped at one of the squad members.
The squad member screamed at the sight of the looming cyborg. He held up his sword in front of him and looked away, scared.
Just before the mole was about to decapitate its prey, three bullet slammed into the cyborg's side, knocking it back.
Justice held up his smoking pistol. To the frightened squad member, he yelled, "Go!"
The squad member gulped, gave Justice a grateful nod, and ran towards the castle.
Pressing a button on his Knight-Former, Justice commanded, "Sword!"
The mole roared and lunged at Justice, pulling its claws back. Then, as soon as it was in range, it slashed the claws at Justice.
Justice's sword finished forming, just in time for him to block the claws with it.
Iron Soldiers began to pour of the castle to meet the oncoming squad.
The ground started to rumble again.
The squad paid no heed to it as they continued charging at the Iron Soldiers.
Suddenly, another mole-like cyborg burst out of the ground, right in the middle of the squad. As it burst from the ground, it plunged its claws into the nearest squad member's chest, killing her.
"What?!" Love yelled out at the sight. She turned to where Justice was and saw that he was still fighting with a mole-like cyborg as well.
Justice kicked the cyborg back, and noticed the other one. "Oh, you have got to be kidding me!"
The cyborg that Justice was fighting laughed. Then, in a female voice, she said, "That's right... There are two of us."
The cyborg in the middle of the squad laughed as well. In a male voice, he said, "We are the Iron Moles. And we..."
The both of them roared, "... are going to kill you!"
The two Iron Moles jumped straight up into air and their claws spun into drills. Their entire bodies then swung upside down, and they headed straight into the ground.
"Damn it," Love yelled, as she ran towards the hole that the male Iron Mole had left behind. To Iron Bee, she said, "Go hide somewhere!"
Sternly, Love said, "Look, you've never killed before, and you don't want to start, right? So just get out of my way!"
Iron Bee nodded and flew off.
Love pressed a button on her Knight-Former and commanded, "Dagger!"
A dagger formed in her hand.
Love held up her dagger and pistol, ready to defend herself as the ground began to rumble.
Suddenly, the male Iron Mole shot out of the ground behind Love and flew straight towards her. Not wasting a moment, the Iron Mole aimed his spinning claws at the crimson knight.
Love barely avoided a direct hit, but the drill still caught her side. She yelled in pain, "Augh!"
Just as quickly as he came out of the ground, the Iron Mole had already disappeared into the ground again.
Back near the edge of the forest, Justice was having the same problem, as the female Iron Mole jumped in and out of the ground quickly, launching surprise attack after surprise attack.
Justice managed to block another attack with his sword. He jumped away as the female Iron Mole disappeared into the ground again.
He landed. Within moments, the female Iron Mole had already located him and dashed out of the ground at him.
"Augh!" Justice yelled as the claws slashed across his abdomen.
Sasha's voice came over the comms, "The Iron Moles can probably feel the vibrations in the ground while they're underground! That's how they knew you were coming and where you are!"
"Keep moving," the Captain said, "and keep your guards up!"
An idea flashed across Justice's mind.
"Thanks, Sasha," he yelled back into the comms.
Back at the headquarters, Sasha blushed a little.
Justice managed to dodge another of the cyborg's attacks by rolling to the side. He rolled towards a huge rock that he had spotted earlier. It was half his height and probably just as heavy as he was.
Justice holstered his gun. Then, using the addition strength that the exosuit had given him, Justice easily picked up the rock and jumped into the air. Before even reaching the apex of his jump, Justice threw the rock in front of him.
Justice continued sailing through the air as the rock landed where Justice estimated that he would land as well.
Within moments, the female Iron Mole shot from the ground towards the rock.
"What?!" the cyborg yelled as soon as she noticed that she was heading towards a rock instead of a Justice Knight.
It was too late. As the cyborg headed towards the rock, Justice was headed towards her with his sword drawn.
Justice swung his sword downwards at the mole-like cyborg.
The female Iron Mole screamed in pain as the sword sliced her armour.
Quickly, Justice unholstered his gun as the female Iron Mole struggled to recover. He began to unload his entire clip into the cyborg.
"Haaaa!" Justice yelled as he pulled the trigger over and over again.
Justice Knight Love grunted as she took another attack from the male Iron Mole.
Over the comms, Sasha yelled, "The Iron Moles can probably feel the vibrations in the ground while they're underground! That's how they knew you were coming and where you are!"
"Keep moving," the Captain said, "and keep your guards up!"
"How does that help?!" Love muttered.
The cyborg shot out of the ground again. Love barely managed to dodge the attack this time.
"Enough of this!" Love yelled. She ran towards the hole that the male Iron Mole had left behind.
"Wait!" Iron Bee yelled from her hiding spot in the trees. Not that Justice Knight Love could hear her from that far away.
Underground, Iron Mole snickered as he felt the vibrations from the crimson knight's footsteps heading towards the hole that he had made. "Foolish girl."
Love neared the hole. Suddenly, the ground around the hole crumbled.
"Wha-" Love yelled as the ground beneath her feet cracked and crumbled. She slipped towards the hole and fell into it. The ground swallowed her legs and left her there, stuck.
Justice Knight Love struggled to get out of the hole.
The ground rumbled.
The male Iron Mole burst from the ground right in front of Love. He pulled back his right claws, which had spun into a drill, ready to thrust his attack through Love's head.
Iron Mole attacked.
Suddenly, Iron Bee landed in front of Justice Knight Love and took Iron Mole's attack with her back.
"Augh!" the bee-like cyborg screamed from the pain.
"I-Iron Bee?!" Iron Mole said, shocked as he took a few steps back.
And that gave enough time for Iron Bee to aim and fire the huge stinger on her back at Iron Mole.
The male Iron Mole yelled in pain as the stinger hit him in the chest. It knocked him off his feet and carried him several meters away before the chain that linked it back to Iron Bee was pulled taut. Iron Mole crashed into the ground.
As her stinger was retracting, Iron Bee quickly began pulling Justice Knight Love out of the trap.
"Traitor!" the male Iron Mole yelled as he charged at the cyborg and the knight with his claws outstretched.
Love pushed Iron Bee away and blocked Iron Mole's attacking claw with her left arm. Quickly, she slashed her dagger down across the male Iron Mole's chest. Without a moment's hesitation, she activated her dagger's superheating function with her right hand, and then she thrust the dagger into the cyborg's chest.
Iron Mole screamed out in pain. He reached out with his other hand and slashed the Justice Knight's back.
Love screamed in pain and kicked the male Iron Mole away.
Iron Mole breathed heavily from the pain in his chest. Angrily, he yelled, "I'll kill you both!"
The mole-like cyborg jumped into the air, ready to dive into the ground again.
Quickly, Iron Bee detached her stinger from her body and threw it at the male Iron Mole. In the middle of the air, tiny rockets in the stinger activated and pushed the stinger towards the mole-like cyborg.
"What? No!" Iron Mole yelled.
The stinger hit the cyborg, and, through some twist of luck, the stinger managed to find its way into the gap in his armour that Love had made when she had stabbed him with her dagger.
The stinger pierced right through Iron Mole's body.
Iron Bee gasped in shock as she witnessed her stinger fly straight through Iron Mole.
Iron Mole looked down in shock at the hole in his body. As he began to fall, electric arcs surged through his body, and he began to recall moments from his life. He recalled being framed. He recalled the day that his beloved, converted into a mole-like cyborg, had broken him out of prison. He recalled the day that he became a mole-like cyborg as well and pledged his life to Iron Lion's cause. Finally, he recalled how happy he was when he found out that his beloved was pregnant, three months ago.
The male Iron Mole crashed into the ground. He struggled up on to his knees as more electric arcs surged throughout his body. With his eyes, he found his beloved - the other Iron Mole. To his horror, his beloved was being fired upon by the blue Justice Knight; he had to save her! He reached out with his hand, struggling to get to her.
Then, the male Iron Mole exploded.
The clip in Justice's pistol ran out of ammo. He had poured all of it into the female Iron Mole's body.
The cyborg fell onto her knees. Pain was surging throughout her body, as well as electric arcs.
Justice Knight Justice holstered his gun, knowing that he had won.
Suddenly, the female Iron Mole screamed. It was a long and wailing scream, full of sadness and anger. Her head turned towards Justice and she cursed at him.
Iron Mole struggled up and, with great difficulty, she removed her helmet and retracted her armour back into her body. The cyborg threw her helmet away. Then, she pressed a spot on her wrist, which caused her abdomen to pop out and open slightly in the middle, as if they were doors.
"Know that you, who claims that your actions are for justice, have killed not one, but two moles!" she angrily yelled, before pulling open her abdomen, showing Justice Knight Justice what was in her womb.
"N-No!" Justice yelled in shock.
Electric arcs surged throughout the female Iron Mole's body, right before she exploded.
"I... I..." was all that Justice could muster before he had to deactivate his exosuit and throw up.
"Retract your stinger," Love said to Iron Bee.
"R-Right." Iron Bee nodded and retracted her stinger.
"Thanks for the save back there," Love said, blushing a little under her helmet.
"Y-You're welcome," Iron Bee said.
Sensing that something was wrong, Love asked, "You alright?"
"I... I just killed someone."
Love looked at Iron Bee. The cyborg was look at her hands anxiously.
"I just killed someone!" Iron Bee repeated.
"It's okay," Love said.
"No, it's not!" Iron Bee dropped down on to her knees and threw off her helmet. Tears were streaming down her face. "I- I mean, I know we're in the middle of a battle here. I know that I had to do it, to protect the city! To protect you! But..."
Love knelt down next to Iron Bee and placed a hand on the sobbing cyborg's shoulder.
"How... how do you keep doing this?" Iron Bee asked.
"I..." Love chose her words carefully, "I learned this from two annoying commanders of mine: never forget that they are still human, and never forget that you're doing this to protect the city and its citizens."
Iron Bee began to stop sobbing.
"You won't feel better anytime soon," Love said, "You won't feel right for a long time. But now is not the time for that. We have to stop the Iron Legion."
"Y-Yes. You're right," Iron Bee stood up. She grabbed her helmet and placed it on her head again.
Love smiled underneath her helmet. "Now, let's go and-"
"Emma, Catherine," the Captain interrupted Love, "get over to David, right now!"
David threw up again.
When he finally stopped, all that David could think of was the last thing that the female Iron Mole had shown him.
"Sir! Are you alright?" Justice Knight Love yelled from a distance.
Justice Knight Love and Iron Bee reached David.
"David?" Iron Bee said.
"I... She was pregnant," David said.
"What?" Love asked.
"That Iron Mole... She was pregnant... And I killed her," David said. "I took an innocent life while calling it justice!"
"You can't blame yourself for this!" Sasha yelled over the comms, "You didn't know that she was pregnant. She was the one who attacked you, even when she knew that she was pregnant. And what could you have done even if you did know that she was pregnant? If you didn't fight back, you would have been killed! And she wouldn't have stopped with you! Other people would have been killed as well!"
"But... Maybe I could have..." David continued muttering his self-doubts.
Love sighed, then, she deactivated her exosuit as well.
"Sorry, sir," Emma said. Then, she slapped David's face.
"What Sasha said... sir," Emma said.
David reached up and felt the cheek that Emma had slapped. He stood up straight, his eyes clear again.
"You guys are right," David said, "And now is not the time for this anyways."
"Good," the Captain said over the comms, "You are back."
"Yes, sir," David said, "Now let's go help the rest of the squad!"
"No," the Captain said, "Now's your chance. You three will sneak into the castle while the others are holding back the Iron Soldiers."
David started to protest, "But-"
"Trust the squad," the Captain said, "They can hold their own."
David paused. Then, he responded, "Yes, sir."
Quickly, David and Emma activated their exosuits, "Suit up!"
Officer Pink stabbed an Iron Soldier in the chest with her short sword. As the electric arcs surged through the cyborg's body, Jessica kicked the cyborg away.
Suddenly, another Iron Soldier charged through the smoke caused by the exploding cyborg. He made his way to a surprised Jessica and was about to punch her.
However, before that could happen, the cyborg's arm had been chopped off, mid-punch.
"I don't think so." It was Arthur.
As suddenly as when he sliced off the cyborg's arm, Arthur slashed his short sword across the Iron Soldier's chest.
Quickly, Jessica followed up by plunging her sword into the cyborg and kicking him back as he exploded.
"Thank you, Arthur," Jessica said between heavy breaths.
"Don't sweat it, kiddo."
Suddenly, the Captain's voice rang out from their earbuds, "Justice, Love, and Iron Bee will be sneaking into the castle! The rest of you, hold your ground and keep the Iron Soldiers at bay!"
Arthur blocked another attack from an Iron Soldier. "You heard the Captain, Pink! We've got work to do!"
"Yes, sir!" Pink yelled as she swung her sword at another cyborg. Softly, she said, "Good luck, Justice Knights."
Justice Knight Justice, Justice Knight Love, and Iron Bee managed to get into the castle undetected.
Or so they thought.
Suddenly, a cyborg landed across the room from them, barring them from progressing any further into the castle.
It was Iron Wolf.