SRWQG: The White Sword of Justice(Author protip: I may mess with franchises' canon for the sake of DRAMA/AWESOME. You've been warned.)
Info: The Time Loop
The island nation of Beren has had an interesting dilemma lately: For the past 2187 days, the date has been May 15th, 0015 of the Post Oil calendar, and any action taken during the day is reset at midnight of what would be May 16th. Memories, however, are retained, meaning that those trapped in the time loop know what they did the day before, no matter what they did. Even suicide is not an option, as the victim finds themselves waking up at the crack of dawn the next 'day'.
The cause of this is unknown, but at the same time, the island not only lost a large percentage of it's population, but it was also barricaded in by invisible walls blocking the beaches off for anything other than sight, leading to the event being known as The Walling and the nation at approximately the same size as Florida. At first, people believed it to be nothing more than a cruel prank played on them by the scientists, and carried on with their daily business. After the first month or so, however, people began to realise how futile it was trying to go about day-to-day life as if the time loop had never happened. Some people, however, maintained their routine, mostly because if the time loop were ever to end, their routine involved vital jobs that would otherwise bring the nation to a halt, and possibly kill everyone if not done. Alex Lukles is one of those people.
Chapter 1: Rise, Old Blade.
"Ehhhhhhh-eh... I always hate this part of the day. I do this so close to the end of the day as well, I don't even know why I bother..." Alex put the wrench down and wiped his forehead. Every day for about five years, he's found himself having to perform repairs on his DIVER (Dedicated International Vertan Entity Repeller), a giant machine designed with anti-alien combat in mind. Alex himself wasn't a DIVER pilot before the Walling occurred, but due to all the other possible pilots vanishing, was left to pick up the pieces, owning the last working DIVER. Alex wasn't even much of a mechanic either, having once been nothing more than his DIVER's former pilot's mission support operator. Musing about the past would have to wait though, as a familiar voice echoed from upstairs, on the main level of the complex that Alex called home:
"Al? Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllllllllll? Where are you Al?" The voice was that of his best friend Jil, a self-confessed computer geek who was trying to figure out what exactly could have caused the Walling that had left Harken in such a poor state of affairs.
"Gimme a sec Jil, just finishing up the cleaning." Alex covered the DIVER with a white sheet, heading upstairs to what was once his control room, the sunlight blinding him briefly as he turned to face his visitor. Alex wouldn't strike anyone as being a mechanic or a pilot, being somewhat tall, with an athletic build and red hair that went down to the base of his neck offsetting his green eyes. After a few seconds, Alex's eyes adjusted to the sudden increase in light, and he could finally see Jil without his eyes hurting.
"And I thought I was bad at this time loop thing. I don't know why you bother cleaning this place up, it'll just get messy again tomorrow." Jil didn't look normal by Berenian standards, being rather pale, petite and slim compared to her taller, darker and more muscular peers, not that Alex complained. As soon as he saw her, Alex knew that she was trying a different 'look' today, wearing a red tank top and matching red shorts, her sandy-blonde hair clipped back, as opposed to the usual unkempt mess that she usually left it in, and with a little bit of makeup showcasing her delicately-featured face. "Trying to impress someone, are we?" Alex smirked, Jil was somewhat easy to wind up, but he always did so as a friend, and she understood he never meant any insult to her. Jil immediately blushed, something Alex hadn't seen in a very long time.
"My mother made me do this... I really didn't want to, I hate trying to look like the others." Alex walked over and put his hand on her shoulder, a smile on his face.
"Jil, sometimes parents can be assholes, but they usually mean well." The blush on Jil's face faded, and it was her turn to smile, before a third voice entered the conversation:
"You two flirting again? Why do I never find these things out until after they happen?" An older-looking guy walked in from the opposite side of the room that Alex did. "Now seriously, if you two hooked up, you'd tell ol' Carl about it, right?" Alex sighed, as Carl was always interrupting his private conversations with Jil.
"Figured I should check on you kids... You never really held up well throughout this here Groundhog Day before I suggested you two spent more time together." Carl was Alex's neighbour, a rough 48-year-old ex-mechanic, his former profession showing in his tall, stocky build, short brown beard/goatee combo and greying hair, as well as the mechanic's one-piece overalls he wore. "Listen to me blather on about you two, it's obvious the lady's got a discovery to tell us about." Jil nodded in agreement and sat down, motioning for the two guys to do the same.
"I made a breakthrough in finding out what might've caused the Walling." The surprise made Alex cough, leaving him not only surprised, but speechless. "Remember just before the Walling started, there was that strange DIVER-esque thing that got the pilots under your command-" She looked at Alex whilst saying this, "-killed?" Alex nodded, both he and Carl letting Jil continue: "Well, that thing had a strange power source... I've recently discovered that the power source was based on energies from the fourth infinity. To put that into average people language: the thing was powered by screwing with time and space." Alex couldn't believe what he was taking in, but still let her continue: "My theory right now is that whatever that thing was, it's power source damaged this world's time beyond repair given our level of science. At least, that's what my simulations of the events leading up to this time loop suggest." Alex tried to compose himself, as the information he'd just heard was rather absurd, even by Jil's standards. Carl just kept quiet, wondering what to make of this newfound data.
"So... What you're saying is that UE-01 broke time?" Jil nodded in a way that said 'More or less'. "So you're no closer to actually knowing what the cause was, or solving it?" Another nod. "Alright... Thanks for letting me kn-" An alarm cut off Alex's sentence, as he raced over to the console the alarm was blaring from. "I... I don't believe it... Another UE!" Jil looked at the console herself, and squeaked.
"It's coming from outside the Wall! It shouldn't be able to do that, nothing can get in or out!" Alex's expression turned from surprise to one of rage. "Uh... Al... Tell me you have a plan." Alex looked at her and nodded.
"I have a DIVER." Jil had to do a double-take, as nobody other than Alex knew that there were any working DIVERs. "I'll use it to fight the UE, you can be support." Carl shook his head and interjected, finally speaking for the first time since Jil's theory was described:
"You're crazy boy! I got experience pilotin' the ol' Gems, I'll use the big lug. You kids watch a pro at work." Alex walked over to the old man and slapped him straight across the face, his face looking uncharacteristically stern and worried.
"We don't know if this is from outside the Walls, or even if the time loop is till in effect. I'm the person with the most knowledge about the DIVER, so it should clearly be me who pilots it. Also, I'm the one that owes this place the most." Carl returned the slap, his face also stern.
"That's exactly why you can't go. If you die, we're fucked with regards to that thing, and the city's even more screwed over. If I die, all we lose is a mechanic, and not a terribly good one at that." Alex shook his head in disagreement, his voice becoming even more serious
"I'm the only person who can pilot it. It's tuned for me and me alone. Anyone else who tried to use it would probably be killed by STORM's feedback, even if it is broken." With that remark, Alex ran back down the stairs, Jil and Carl both in hot pursuit, and both arriving just in time to see Alex pulling the cloth off of the DIVER he'd spent years maintaining the same parts of. It had clearly seen better days, but for a one-man job that was repeated many, many times, the mech had been kept in pretty decent condition, its dented white armour's asymmetry skewed in favour of the right-hand side, due to the jagged shoulderpad of the left hand side being missing altogether. Opening the hatch, Alex jumped inside and shut it after him, declaring to the only other people to ever know about the surviving DIVER: "You know what happens if this thing is destroyed. You surrender."
Harken had seen better days, it's main cities trashed from pre-loop Vertan Entity attacks, the towns and villages in a state of disrepair even before the loop, and the mysterious hill near the centre of the island losing it's soil, revealing the fact that it had been hollowed out and used as a secret base. It was in one of the ruined cities that a small, black mech, about 10 metres tall, wielding a rifle, what can best be described as a laser version of an oversized craft knife, and two sets of grenade launchers on the back, was boosting around, attempting to trace the energy spike it had detected, its pilot's monotone voice being the only sound heard from within the mech's cockpit:
"This energy reading... it must mean I am close to my target. Except the margin of error for the tracing equipment exceeds acceptable parameters, and may jeopardise the mission." Something caught the pilot's attention in a brief flash of precognition, causing him to look towards the hill, noticing it opening. "Possible mission objective detected, further investigation required." Stopping near the opening hill, the pilot saw a battered white mech completely unlike his own leaving the hill, the wind lifting it's tattered red cape to the right hand side, the helmeted head not looking unlike that of the EYE4 concept despite the different scale between the two heads, the visor covering the camera eye, making it look like it was wearing some form of sunglasses to cover a scar. The pilot of the black mech was first to speak: "Unidentified unit, state your name and purpose." The white mech's pilot made a 'tch' sound, taking his mech out into the open air.
Never did get around to naming this thing, now that I think about it. "Hauteclere, local defence force." A tone of disappointment was evident in Jil's voice as Alex's radio fizzed into life, using an old civilian frequency that the black mech could hear:
"Hauteclere? As in, 'The Song of Roland' Hauteclere? As usual, no originality..." The black mech's pilot wasted no time in responding to Alex after getting the correct frequency for Jil to hear as well, his monotone voice making the impromptu support operator feel uncomfortable:
"This is Genobee, AC Dual Face, representitive of Crest North Section, on a reconnissance mission. Stand down or be destroyed." His threat was met with silence. "I repeat, stand down or be destroyed." Hauteclere began walking forward towards Dual Face slowly, only performing another action when the AC powered up it's laserblade. "This is your final warning, stand down or be destr--" The elite Raven was cut off by Alex's sudden interjection:
"Go fuck yourself!" The interjection was swiftly followed by Hauteclere's right hook narrowly missing Dual Face due to Genobee's reaction speed allowing him to dodge such a fast attack, even with little more than 2 metres between fighters.
"Negative, now is not the time or place for pleasure." Dual Face brought both of its grenade launchers down, taking off into the sky to avoid Hauteclere's melee attacks whilst acquiring a lock. "Target has commenced hostilities... Permission granted to eliminate." Both of the giant cannons fired their payload at Hauteclere, causing the white mech to turn around, exposing it's battered cape to the high-yield explosives, the ensuing explosion flattening half a square mile of farmland.
"ALEX!" Jil's monitors for Hauteclere went haywire, completely incapable of registering anything to do with the DIVER. Once the smoke cleared, it became apparent that Alex and Hauteclere were still functioning, albeit maybe a little dented. "But... How?" Alex's reassuring tone filled the radio, the screens returning to normal operation:
"The cape doubles as a shield, even in this battered state." Hauteclere turned to face Dual Face again, panels on its left leg sliding aside to reveal a holstered revolver. "I didn't think about replenishing the other revolver's ammo... Only got six shots." Assuming a firing stance, Hauteclere fired a shot at Dual Face, the smaller mech dodging out of the way, doing the same for the following four shots, before the fifth shot clipped it's right arm, completely shattering the upper half of the limb, debris falling onto the farmland below. At about the same time as it's arm shattering, Dual Face fired it's grenade launchers in a staggered manner, forcing Hauteclere to dodge shots at regular intervals, the stress of such rapid movements in different directions starting to cause the DIVER's armour to buckle, as well as pressure from the explosions. "Shit... I don't think I can do this for much longer." Alarms started ringing in Hauteclere's cockpit as Dual Face's final grenade struck the white giant's head, frying a large chunk of the electronics inside it, leaving Alex with only the torso camera to see, depriving him of the majority of Hauteclere's vision, causing Alex to begin to panic. "This is really bad... Jil, what do?".
"David... There's something here about a Hyper Burst." Jil's advice triggered memories in Alex's brain from his days as a support operator.
"Of course... Hyper Burst attacks." Alex pulled four levers to his right and smirked. "You're done for now! Hyper Burst!" Hauteclere rose up to it's full height, arms crossed, signifying that the mech's main weapon was missing. "Ah hell, I forgot to repair Olivier... I guess I'll have to do it the old fashioned way!" Hidden thrusters in the lower half of Hauteclere's legs and torso revealed themselves, firing with enough power to send the giant mech skywards, its arms uncrossing.
Genobee himself was trying to get close enough to use Dual Face's laserblade against Hauteclere, it's Raven estimating his odds of success and survival:
"AP at 15%... Probability of winning conflict: one in twenty-five billion. Probability of surviving conflict: one in five billion. Continuing operation as planned... Hm?" The elite Raven's interest was picqued by Hauteclere's right hand glowing red. "A punch using an overheated arm part... an interesting tactic, but ultimately useless." Dual Face's Overboost kicked in, propelling the black AC beyond the sound barrier. Alex just smiled, the elite had fallen right into his trap by speeding up, reducing the time he had to react.
"Just what I wanted... Now Hauteclere! IMPAAAAAAAAAAAAACT..." Hauteclere's left arm arced back, allowing the right to take the laserblade hit from Dual Face, causing it to fall to the ground, causing Genobee to realise just what he'd fallen into, causing the normally calm pilot to realise he was screwed, whilst Alex continued his frenzied attack call: "PUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUNCH!" The momentum of Hauteclere's torso swinging to the right, bringing the hypercharged left fist into the side of Dual Face, combined with the sheer speed that Dual Face itself had been going at, caused the mech to explode on impact, and the pilot to be reduced to a fine red mist. Jil sighed as she saw the black mech explode, the relief on her face being obvious.
"It's over... Alex, you can come back in now." The smile on the video feed from the cockpit was one of relief as well.
"I'm coming back in now... I think I broke something though." Jil laughed and shook her head, even after such a lengthy battle, Alex was joking around, "Even now, when it's the small hours of the morning and he's undoubtedly ti-- wait, small hours of the morning...?" Carl looked at Jil confusedly, then at her screens, something catching his eye.
"Hey, uh... You're right. It's May 16th."
(TO BE CONTINUED)