Gundam SEED Fan Fiction ❯ Operation Strikeback ❯ The "Distorted Shrine" Gate ( Chapter 17 )

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Chapter 17- The “Distorted Shrine” Gate
As the robot prepared to make its first move, something called out to it, and it ceased all actions.
“Ajim! Cease your actions and return at once!” A robotic voice came from nowhere. The robot “Ajim” teleported away and instead out came Specineff.
“Hey you!” Cagalli yelled, “You're the one who started this mess, and we're gonna take you down now!”
“I'd like to see you try lady!” Specineff gloated in laughter. “By the way, in our Virtual World, the rule is always one-on-one matches. So I'm afraid you gentlemen would have to step aside for now. Having said that, Kira, Athrun and Yzak were separated from Cagalli by an energy barrier.
The surroundings began to change again.
“Welcome to my battlefield, the Ascent Corridor. However, this is as far as you can go from here!” Specineff said.
Making the first move, Cagalli dueled with it in a sword fight. Drawing out the saber, Cagalli swiped hard at the body of Specineff but it shielded the attack with its scythe quickly.
“Not bad for a young lady! But you can't beat me with such simple tricks!”
“Shut up!” Cagalli yelled back.
Both machines hopped back and waited for a moment. Specineff raising its left hand generated a purple sphere and lobbed it away. Cagalli saw the sphere moving so slowly she thought it was another joke. Taking her distraction into advantage, Specineff dashed for the M-1 and slashed at the torso with its beam scythe. The M-1 skidded back with the impact of the blow and Cagalli held on to her chest thinking, “That was too fast… If not for the Phase-Shift armor, I would have been a goner.”
Cagalli now more determined than ever, fought with all her might and skill, exchanging multiple blows with Specineff. Cagalli was so engaged in close combat she forgot all about the purple sphere floating around her. As she was still unaware of her surroundings, the sphere suddenly closed in on her M-1 and exploded, throwing her to the ground.
“Cagalli!” Athrun yelled out to her, feeling helpless.
Specineff jumped for an aerial attack taking its scythe downwards. Cagalli hadn't an idea what to do. In fright she simply raised the saber vertically at Specineff and with dumb luck, blocked the sharp point of the beam scythe. Specineff jumped away with glee, amazed at the stroke of luck she had. It struck the ground with its scythe producing a shockwave and Cagalli jumped away aiming her rifle at Specineff. Holding its right arm up, it shot out an arrow-shaped beam from its palm that flew at high speed towards her M-1. Cagalli taken by surprise took the shot squarely at the chest and collapsed to the ground with her M-1.
“Ugh!!... Damn! And I thought he was a total close combatant… *Gasp*” Cagalli said in complaint.
Specineff dashed towards the M-1 and committed a sliding tackle at it. Having insufficient time to react, she turned to her side and slammed the shield into the ground, hoping to soften the impact. The effort was futile, as the tackle easily sent her M-1 flying and tossing some distance. Specineff was simply too powerful a foe for her. It mocked and taunted her as she struggled to get up. Standing unsteadily and panting, Cagalli was near her limits. She was out of options but to fight with her remaining strength and energy. Drawing the saber, she jumps jet towards Specineff and down-slashed at the Virtuaroid. Again with a swift sidestep, Cagalli missed Specineff by inches and stumbled hard on the ground.
“Let me return the favour young lady!” Specineff hollered. With all his might, Specineff sent the scythe into the waist of the M-1, cutting deeply into the armor. The boys watched in horror as the M-1 slowly split into two from the waist section and both chunks of the machine toppled to the ground, sparking furiously from the cut point. Specineff turned around with a triumphant look and watched poor Cagalli wrenching in pain. As she had lost the fight, her machine started to fade and disappear into bits of data, taking her along with it. Athrun, sweating profusely and tearing, cried out loud her name…
The barrier lowered itself and Yzak took the position to fight Specineff. Still gloating over his victory, Yzak found the chance to attack while he was distracted and with a simple and sudden shot from Specineff's palm, he too was blown off from the impact. Still finding him hard to believe with such power, Yzak refused to give up the fight and was sent to the ground time after time. Still cursing and swearing, Yzak made every attempt to attack the Virtuaroid, with each attempt coming close. The Duel was finally drained of its own energy and had no ability to support its Phase-Shift. Yzak gasped in horror at his energy meter, and Specineff was already in front of him with his scythe raised, slashing though one arm and with a quick change of grip, turned the scythe to slash of a leg. The Duel helplessly collapsed, unable to do a thing. Yzak knew he had met his match, and could only conceit defeat. He thought it was ironic enough, having lost to a machine looking like the Dread Reaper.
Athrun and Kira burnt with anger within; sending death glares at Specineff, while he could still gloat at his second victory.
“Kira, I'm taking this one.” Athrun said firmly. Having no choice and understanding Athrun's sorrow, Kira let him take the lead. But just as the battle was about to begin, a furious orb of energy crashed down into Specineff and the crystalline robot, Ajim appeared again. However, Ajim was tackling with Specineff this time.
“You… you were that machine from before… but why?” Athrun asked.
“No time for questions.” He said and with one hand grappled Specineff and with the other, generated a glowing sphere and brought the barrier down that held Kira in with an explosion. Without hesitation, Ajim brought down a section of the wall, revealing a twisted, ebbing warp gate. “The path to the Distorted Shrine lies before you, then you must challenge and defeat CB-99 Bradtos. GO… NOW! I'll take Specineff down. He plans to use his “Death Mode” against you and by then you won't stand a chance!
“Thank you Ajim!” Kira yelled out.
“AJIM!” Specineff hollered at the top of his voice. “You have let intruders into the gate that I have guarded with my life! What is the meaning of this!?”
“No grudges Specineff… but this… is something I must do…” With that said, he grappled onto Specineff with his other arm. Inducing an energy flux between them, an obliterating explosion followed…
“Athrun… why would… Ajim do that for us…?”
“I don't know… I sensed something different about Ajim the moment he returned. We could have been tricked… but still, this is still our only way.”
The warp zone soon began to end, and floating before them, was a large diamond-shaped crystal surrounded by another six smaller and similar crystals. Kira and Athrun watched as the crystal began to send flashes out and the six orbiting crystals fused into one with the core crystal. Out from two vertically conjured warp holes, two large armor shells bolted into the zone and fused with the crystal core, creating a seemingly invulnerable shell of armor encasing the crystal. The warp zone transformed into a runic shrine, with a center platform on which they were now standing. And before them, stood a gigantic eight-legged monster; four on the ground and ceiling, boasting extremely thick virtual armor and a horde of menacing weapon designs.
“This is the Distorted Shrine… and that … is CB-99 Bradtos…?” Kira was slightly stunned.
“Well Kira… it's either we die…or fight.” Athrun simply said.
“I choose the latter option Athrun.”
“Kira! Let's do it!”
The Freedom and Justice Gundam took their stances… and began the attack on Bradtos…