A GLITCH(-Tech) IN TIME: Part 2

A Glitch Techs story / © 2020
by Stephen R. Sobotka

.

Disclaimer! - This is a fanfiction, based on characters, settings and situations from the Nickelodeon-made and Netflix animated series "Glitch Techs"; created by Eric Robles & Dan Milano. This has been written solely for other fans of the series to enjoy, not to gain profit for the author. All characters, with exception of any that I have created for these stories, are TM and Copyrighted by Nickelodeon & Netflix, and are used without their knowledge.

Please don't sue, since this was done as a tribute to the spirit of the original manga and animated show.

.

Author's Note : The action is picking up! Wanted to show what a 'real threat'-level Glitch would be like, so I went back 'old school' for this one. Folks should recognize the video game that I drew inspiration from, and I hope I'm doing the show justice with this big-scale action sequence ahead!

Huge thanks to the fans, and to Dan and Eric for creating this show. With that said, Enjoy! - SRS

.
.

# xOx #

.

Outside Number 23,
West Concorde Street, City of Bailey...

Phil had his eyes fixed to the main view-screen of his command console from the instant the two Tech teams had crossed over the breech threshold, and into the Mapper's artificial environment. So intent was his focus, he missed the arrival of one of the other Techs from beyond the "hazard zone" behind the GT Vans.

"Mr. Phil, Sir," the Tech named Gibbson asked. "Sir, the crowd control teams are all in place, and . . . we've had no break in our perimeter security since you gave the order."

Phil grunted, reaching out to tap a couple of controls while never letting his eyes leave the view-screen. "Techs, report! Situation and status inside the Mapper's field?"

Nix's voice replied in Phil's headset: "All Techs present and accounted for, Sir! We're proceeding deeper into the . . . space, as it were. No contact made with the Glitch or any of its constructs! Yet."

"No doubt the Glitch has a massive set of defenses in place," Mitch's voice pipped up. "If I remember what this old-school game had," he muttered.

"No time for second-guesses, Mitch! Everyone tighten up," Hector's voice said sharply. "We're coming into the main 'game area', right now."

Phil bobbed his head in a small nod. "Maintain your course . . . telemetry is coming in from the scanner array. We've got you all locked in, and Russell has countermeasures ready. Just in case this Glitch decides to monkey with our Tech and systems."

"Understood! Comms are locked in . . . will report anything we find, at once!"

"Good," Phil said. "Stand by." He paused and looked at Gibbson. "Did we bring any further Techs who could double as a reserve team, if needed?"

Gibbson said quickly, "I can assemble a team right away, if you need them, Sir?!"

Phil nodded. "Do it." He glanced back at the view-screen, where eight colored blips were steadily advancing across a black field. "Unless I miss my hunch, We're going to need them!"
.

.
.

Mapper Glitch Environ, Inside Number 23,
West Concorde Street...

.
.

"Wow . . . it's definitely bigger on the inside," Nix said.

"Yeah, talk about min-maxing your inner space," Zahra muttered.

"Try to keep it down! We're not on a sight-seeing trip here," Mitch growled. "Fives, any sign of mobs ahead of us here?"

The four-Tech fighter teams were flying tightly - wing overlapping wing - as they rocketed through the open "space field" of the interior of the Mapper's domain. Around them, a shifting field of bright pinprick-points of light were dotted with clusters of floating asteroids and other "junk". As Mitch led from center-slot on the four star fighters in Mining Team, trailing behind, Hector was in the lead, with the remaining Techs of Fire Team, flying at his wing tips.

"So far, nothing on the scanners," Hector said, his eyes flicking across the instruments in front of him. "No sign of the Glitch or . . . any enemies, at all."

From his headset, the voice of Phil spoke up: "Doesn't mean they aren't out there, Techs. Keep a sharp look out! Russell, anything coming up on your readouts?"

Another voice cut in, saying, "Ne . . . not in immediate range of our teams. Yet, I am picking up a larger asteroid field some fifty meters ahead. If you wish to mine for your cluster bombs, I would begin there."

Looking ahead, Hector could see the massive field of grey, jagged space rocks; all rolling slowly or quickly - depending on their momentum - as they formed a millrace in front of the advancing teams. "I see it; coming up fast!"

"That is a LOT of rocks!" Miko quipped.

"M-More than enough f-for us to get the crystals we need!" Bergy said.

"You will be in for some competition, where that is concerned," Russell stated. "As big as that asteroid field looks, it would make a good place for the Evulstar's minions to start a mining operation of their own!"

"Then, we'd better get started before they do! Techs! Advance on the asteroids, but be cautious." Phil said tersely, "We don't know where the Glitch has set up to build the Evulstar, and anywhere we can find crystals, then it's a sure bet they'll be looking for them there, too!"

"Understood, Sir! We'll move ahead to check if it's safe for the Mining Team." Hector looked over at his left, where Miko's star fighter was flying alongside him. "Miko, you see anything moving out there?"

"Not yet, we're only just coming up on the edge of that asteroi-OHBOY! HEAD'S UP!" She whipped her fighter to the side, just as a flurry of blast-bolts saturated the area where he ship had just been.

Forewarned, the rest of her fellow teammates scattered; arcing away just as an explosion of pixel sprites burst out from behind the cover of the shoal. Another volley of blasts rained out from the small, demon-shaped forms as Mitch's Team was just coming into range.

"Oh Boosh! Drones! We've got Drones, here!" Mitch warned.

As several blasts raced by his fighter, Haneesh said, "A whole LOT of Drones! Watch out, Zahra! Behind you!"

Zahra wheeled her fighter around, avoiding the shots fired by a trio of Drones. "Got them!" She fixed the Drones in her targeting system, and fired off several shots from her blaster cannons. The Drones couldn't avoid the incoming shots, and quickly de-rezzed into so much particles.

Hector boosted his fighter over, coming in alongside Miko's ship. "Team, close up together! We'll clear a path for the others. Mitch!" He gripped his control stick and throttle, looking tense as he eyed his sensor readout. "Get into the asteroids! We'll provide cover while you mine the crystals, and make it fast!"

"Understood, because we can't kill that Glitch without cluster bombs," Mitch fired back. "Just keep those Drones off of us, and away from mining their own-!" A sudden explosion of light and concussive force cut him off; sending his star fighter spinning away from where he original intended to go. "NERTZ! What the-!?"

"Head's up, Techs!" Russell's voice warned. "Those Drones did not come alone! Bandit ships, coming in fast at one-hundred meters and closing!"

Sure enough, a phalanx of larger, far-uglier pixel-forms came soaring from behind a larger asteroid. These crimson fighters were firing off small missiles that streaked towards the Techs' fighters, before blossoming into vivid explosions of heat and energy. The blast force scattered the Techs like so much chaff in the face of a hurricane wind.

"We're not going to get organized, unless we stop running and start fighting smart!" Mitch groused. "Fives! Get on those mobs, so we can start mining crystals! Hurry!"

"I'm on it! Miko, Zahra, Nix! Let's wreck these fools! Form up on me," Hector commanded, as he punched in three breaker switches to boost his fighter's speed. "We're goin' in!"

The quartet of star fighters wheeled around, forming a lop-sided 'wedge' as they raced towards the oncoming Bandits. As the mobs concentrated together to form a mass-wall against them, Hector and the others aimed their 'noses' towards them; targeting computers and sight-recticles lining up with a solid tone of a lock-on.

"Fire!"

Four streams of blaster plasma flared into life, slicing through the enemy formation and leaving scattered Plixel clouds and quickly-evaporating energy behind. As the four fighters raced through the digital remains, Hector craned his head around to look for Mitch's group. "We're clearing the area, Mitch! How's it going on your end?"

"We're on top of a BIG asteroid," Mitch reported. "We're gathering crystals as quick as we can, but these dumb rocks don't seem to have a large amount of them inside!"

"That's par for the course," Phil said. "In the Oh-Gee game, you had to mine a LOT of asteroids to get the requisite bombs to finish off the boss!"

"Right, we're finished with this one . . . only four bombs made!" Mitch said.

"Only FOUR?" Zahra asked.

"That's n-not going to b-be enough!" Bergy stuttered.

"Moving off to another asteroid," Mitch reported. "Looks like we're all going to have to double the effort to get ALL the bombs!"

"Keep it going," Hector said. "We'll keep the bugs off your windshields!" Looking back around, he spied another cluster of Bandits and Drones not too far off. "Come on, Fire Team! We're not done with these mobs yet!"

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

Command Board, Main Lobby,
Glitch Tech HQ Main Level...

Russell had his eyes glued to the main screen, while his hands flew across the various controls and switches to fine-tune the data and readings coming to him. "Maintain your attack patterns, Fire Team. A perimeter of several meters will give the others enough time to finish making bombs," he said. Looking down at a smaller screen, he switched comm-circuits and said, "Phil, Sir! What is your reading, prosim? Do you have any locus on the Boss Glitch?"

"Nothing yet," Phil reported back. "But, at the rate these mobs are going after the Teams, they must be making progress faster than we believed!" There was a pause. "Can you tweak the array a bit? Give us a better readout?"

"Ano. Momentary, please." Russell slid over to an auxiliary panel and thumbed a pair of rheostat controls, before flipping three switches in sequence. "Boosted active sweeps. Will try to probe the center of the Mapper's main center," he said. Rolling back across to the main board, he hit two more buttons, and looked up as the main screen divided into thirds; projecting the Team's locations, a vid-link of the team's lead ships, and a overview of all the interior environ his systems could scan. "Sweeps are scanning . . . scanning . . . and-?!" He sucked in a harsh breath, as his eyes fixed on a HUGE mass revealed on his readout. "Zkurvysyn! Závada! Phil! Team Leaders! Have located the Glitch Boss, and his current locus!"

"That's good news, right!?" Hector asked.

"From the tone of his voice- UGH! That didn't sound good to me!" Mitch snapped, and the howl of engines echoed over his comm-channel.

"Ne, it is not! The Glitch has been very active! The Evulstar is at seventy-percent completion, and . . . is near a large enough cluster of asteroids to finish construction quickly!"

"What's the estimate to completion, Russell?" Phil asked.

Russell looked at a few smaller readouts, and shook his head. "Data indicates Evulstar will be complete in approximately two minutes!"

Phil said tersely, "We're going to have to commit our reserves, then! I'm sending in the Back-Up Team to redevous with your Team, Fives! You're going to have to take the fight to the Evulstar's construction base, and stop them from finishing it."

"What about Mitch and the others? They'll be sitting ducks without our cover-fire!" Nix said.

There was a snort. "We can take care of ourselves! Haneesh and I can run cover for Bergy and Chris," Mitch said. "They can finish harvesting the rest of the bombs."

"Is no time to argue," Russell said. "Fire Team, head for Northwest Quadrant. Reserve Team will meet you partway. Will provide overview when you reach the enemy base!"

"Russell's right," Phil said. "The Reserve Team's already inside! Get moving!"

"Understood, Sir. Zahra, Nix, Miko, let's GO!"

Russell turned to punch in a new command, and looked up to follow the progress of the two star fighter teams as they raced towards the enemy base. "I am with you, Techs. Continue at present speed. One minute and forty-seconds to Evulstar's completion . . . ."

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

"IncoMING!"

The space around the asteroids became a swarm of Bandits, Drones and a few new mobs yet to be faced, as the eight star fighters being led by Hector burst into the clear near a massive lattice-work network of girders; the center of which was dominated by a nearly-complete structure that resembled a spiked ring with an open hole in the center.

Sending a hailstorm of blaster fire out to meet the oncoming enemy, the star fighters arced, swerved, juked, and raced alongside each other, while wiping out scores of the mobs in the process.

Miko was trailing at Hector's left wingtip, keeping well in range to support him as the mobs grew denser and more coordinated. "Fives! Ten more Bandits at nine-o'clock!" She dipped her fighter in concert with her partner, and they raked the space in front of the approaching mobs with concentrated fire.

As the Bandits burst into pixel-shrapnel, the pair sailed through their remains and swung around to join their teams.

"Woo-HOO! Eat that, you-!" Miko yelped as a score of missiles raced past her cockpit. "Yike!" She whipped her head around, watching as the projectiles continued onward; not one turning around to target her ship. "Wait, what just happened?"

"Those were dum-dums," Hector said through her headset. "They're one shot and they just keep going if they miss. Still, we can't let our guard down! The defenses around the base are sure to get harder!"

"We've got this, Fives!" Miko said. "As many Drones as we've Kay-Oh'ed, we've surely slowed down the progress of the Boss being built. Right?"

"Ne," Russell's voice said in her ear. "Evulstar Completion at eighty-five percent. One minute and counting!"

"Auuugh, what does it take to stop them!?" Miko groused.

"Focus, Miko! We've got to do the best we can, until Mitch and the others have the Bombs harvested," Hector told her.

"Here comes the Reserves!" Zahra said, just as another quartet of Tech star fighters raced across another asteroid, into Miko's view field. They started to form up, but suddenly one of the ships spun out of control as a Bandit mob slammed into it.

"Crud! Jake!"

"Quick! Everyone form up on me! We can't let ourselves get exposed to these goons!"

Miko turned to follow Hector, when she saw the edge of her star fighter's wing flicker and de-rezz for a split second. "Huh? What hit me?"

"Miko? Are you alright?"

She blinked, just as the wing reformed again. "I . . . I'm fine! Let's get this Glitch!"

The group swooped through the scattered asteroids; hitting more drones, Bandits and tougher mobs in succession. After a sudden lull, they broke through into a large, clear space . . . and there, in the center was the objective of their attack. The massive structure that looked like a ring of metal, with spikes, horns, and weapons-abound had only a large hole in the center. Over this, several drones were building up new material that appeared to be forming the lower jaw of a giant face!

"Ooooh, Nertz!" Hector muttered. "THAT, is, one BIG-AAAH!" An explosion cut him off short, as a new swarm of Evulstar's defenders raced down upon the attackers.

"Fives!?" Miko swerved to look for him, and shot three mobs in succession before she saw his star fighter being flanked by Zahra's ship. "Fives!"

"I've got him, Miko!" Zahra said, as the sound of her blasters could be heard over the comm. "Lil' suckers are quicker than usual! Got behind us, before we even noticed!"

"Is possible the Glitch senses our intent," Russell's voice cautioned. "Defenses must to being stepped up in response!"

From somewhere else, Nix added, "That's affirmative! Looks like the Glitch just pulled out ALL the stops! I'm detecting several defensive systems coming online all over this area!"

Miko grimaced. "So, what do we do now?"

Zahra said, "We have to clear out some of this trash, and whittle down those defenses, before Mitch and the others get here!"

"Right," Hector said; his ship and Zahra's coming up alongside Miko. "Thanks, Zahra! Everyone! Go for the traps and wipe out as many as you can! Mitch!? What's your status?"

"We're almost done here!" Mitch reported. "A couple more bombs to go!"

Suddenly, Miko heard a warning tone come from her gauntlet. Looking down, she saw the large, Triangle-bracket-and-Exclamation mark and gasped. "Oh no! No, no-no-nonoNO! Fives! Something happened to my gauntlet!" She looked back up, just in time to see the cockpit around her flicker like the Plixel material was being shorted out. "Ooooo, NERTZ! I think I'm gonna lose my star-ship?!"

"Miko! Where are you!?"

Trying to get her bearings, Miko all but shrieked as the sensor readout literally disintegrated under her fingers. "I-I don't know!" She whipped her head around, looking on in horror as more components and parts were disassembling around her. "My ship's breaking up!" She tried to access the app on her gauntlet, but nothing she did worked. "I can't stop it!"

"Does anyone have eyes on her?!" Hector shouted.

"I do! She's about fifty-meters down range of the Evulstar!" Someone reported. "There's a LOT of Drones and Demons between us!"

"Fives! Someone! Help me!" Miko tried to look for something to hold on to, but in the next breath, her star fighter came completely apart; leaving her sailing along on pure momentum. "AAAAHH!" She reflexively tried to summon Ally, but again her gauntlet didn't respond. Out of sheer fright, she kicked off from the last remnants of her Plixel-construct, aiming for a small asteroid nearby. Bracing, she hit and bounced once, before she managed to grap ahold of the space-rock and keep from flying away.

"Miko? Miko!?" Hector's voice was frantic. "Are you all right?"

Catching her breath, Miko tapped her headset's comm-switch. "My fighter's gone, but I'm on one of the smaller asteroids!" She looked around, wincing as several Demons screamed by as they pursued another Tech in their fighter. "I don't think the Evulstar's goons can see me . . . yet!" She looked around, and caught sight of the large, swirling object that was spinning slowly as it appeared to be advancing towards her. "Ummm, guys? Did this game have black holes!?"

"Black holes?!" Phil sounded alarmed.

"That's a Gravity Well!" Nix said urgently. "In the original game, It can suck in player ships to destroy them!"

Miko gave a weak laugh. "Well, that's nice but, right now . . . I'M NOT IN A SHIP!" She shrieked, and tried to kick off another rock fragment to try to distance herself from the encroaching trap. To her horror, the fragment bounced off another, and was caught by the Gravity Well's pull. It was sucked straight inside its maw, where it dissolved into so much pixelated matter and was swallowed whole.

"Guys! Seriously . . . GET ME OUT OF HERE!"

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

". . . we've got to get to her, now!"

Russell's face was filled with alarm, as his fingers froze over the command keys on his console. No . . . Miko!His mind raced for some form of solution, but it didn't look good. From the images on the screen, he knew not the the others would reach her in time!

"Can't get through! GAH! Swarmers, too thick!"

"Watch out! Those Dum-Dums are also getting intense!"

"Can anyone reach her!?"

Blinking, Russell shoved back from the console and raised his gauntlet. "In such desperate times . . . !" He made a single swipe, then stabbed his finger down on a colored icon that looked like a man-shaped object.

As the sound of a revving engine spilled out of his gauntlet's speaker, he turned himself around - just as his chair seemed to unfold around him - and faced one of the remaining Tech Vans.

"Engage Portal Canon!" He ordered. "Initiate Emergency Portal! Location . . . Field Team Command Unit!"

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

"Can anyone get to Miko!?" Phil shouted into his mic.

"Negative! Too many swarmers and demons!"
"We're pinned here, too! Blasted Tank Turrets!"

"Miko! We're coming for you! HOLD ON!"

Phil turned from the console, looking grimly at the aperture in front of them. "Blast it! I'm not going to let a Tech go down. Not this time!" He lifted his gauntlet, and started to key up the star-fighter app.

"W-w-w-WARNING!" BITT cautioned. "An Unscheduled portal i-i-is being activated!"

"What!?" Phil turned, just in time to see a Tech Transport canon pop up from one of the vans, triggering a blue blast of energy that formed a portal right near the aperture. He started to move towards it, when a large, white blur rocketed out from it and surged towards the opening in the Glitch's barrier.

Jerking back, Phil asked, "BITT, what the heck is that!?"

"Object is i-i-i-identified as a Tech Servo-suit, M-M-Mark-One!"

Phil blinked. "I never authorized a call-up for a Servo-suit?!" Before he could voice any objections, the object was through the aperture and soaring through the space environment beyond.

"Danger! Evuls-s-star is now twenty-five s-s-seconds from completion!" BITT warned.

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

Deking from another volley from a swarm of minion drones, Hector growled and rolled his ship; firing a wide spray of blaster bolts. "Madre de Dios! They're not letting us get through!"

From beside him, Zahra added, "It's like they know one of us is in trouble!"

"Well, somebody needs to find a gap and get through to Miko!" Mitch's voice said. "We need a clear shot to take down that Boss, and we can't do that if someone's in the blast-zone!"

"We're trying! We're trying!" Hector said. He suddenly balked as he twisted his controls, barely avoiding a Floating Tank that nearly skewered him with it's lasers. "MIKO!? Don't let go! I'll save you-Huh?!" His words were cut off, as the proximity alarm in his fighter started blaring. "What in the world-!?"

Zahra had clearly seen it too, as she asked, "Um, anyone else seeing this? Major object coming up into the battle zone . . . and it's moving fast!"

"Techs! Be advised," Phil's voice cut through on the circuit. "There's a Servo-Suit coming in hot on your location! I don't know who's flying it, but-!"

"A . . . Servo-Suit?" Hector twisted his head around; just in time to catch the fast-flying blur that was knifing through the mobs, leaving a trail of explosions in its wake. "Anyone else got eyes on it!?"

"Affirmative!" Nix said. "It . . . wait! It's not going after the Evulstar, it-!"

A sudden, thundering, vocalized voice cut through the comm-channel, saying just one, simple, terrifying phrase:

"BEWARE! I, AM, ONLINE!"

Hector felt his heart drop into his stomach. "Oh . . . nertz!" he said meekly, before he drew in a deep breath at the sight of the massive, moon-sized construct that suddenly loomed into view. With massive spikes, ventilators and bristling with weapons, the Evulstar's huge, robotic skull-face seemed to stare right at each Tech with specific malice and hate.

"'WARE, COWARDS! I WILL . . . DELETE YOU!"

"Oh, nertz, nertz, NERTZ!" Hector shouted. "The Evulstar's gone ACTIVE!"

There was a burst of static, then Zarha's voice cut through with a frantic tone: "Mitch! We need you here, NOW!"

"I don't think we have enough bombs!" Bergy replied.

"Everyone just get it together!" Mitch snapped. "We're not going to just let this Glitch roll us over! Form on my wings! We're going after the Evulstar!"

Even as his hands seemed to instinctively turn his fighter around, Hector cried out, "But, wait! What about Miko!?"

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

Feeling the strain of the onset of the Gravity Trap's pull, Miko frantically looked around for any sign of her friends' star fighters. Come-on-come-on-comeoncomeon-Nertz! Where's a repair tech when I need one! She looked down at her gauntlet with a fear-filled expression. She had tried everything and anything to get it to work, but it was as inoperable as it was when her fighter de-rezzed.

"Fives! I hope you're coming, but I really wish you'd get her sooner!" she said into her head-set. She looked back down at the asteroid she clung to; seeing the edges beginning to pixelate and break away as she got closer to the Gravity Well. She scrabbled backwards, trying to put as much of the plixel-rock between her and the irresistible force clawing at it. Peering around the fracturing edge, and seeing how the plixel-matter was being sucked down and destroyed by the trap, Miko turned pale at the thought of herself being pulled inside it.

"Oh man! I could really use a turn of luck right now!" She glanced to her right, and spied another small asteroid slowly drifting by, just out of the Gravity Well's reach. She made a quick mental calculation, then grunted as she crouched down on the shrinking asteroid she rode. "Well, better hope this works!" She drew in a deep breath, then bounced once and sent herself soaring away from the trap. Her momentum seemed to be enough to send her clear to the safety of the passing asteroid . . . but to her despair, the Gravity Well suddenly surged in power and caught her just as surely as it had the hunk of space rock behind her.

"Oooo, NERTZ! AAAAH!"

As the pull on her body intensified, Miko flailed her arms and legs to attempt to slow herself. She was so focused on not being sucked down, she didn't notice the sudden roar of engines coming in from the side. Just a few meters away from the maw of the trap, Miko suddenly felt herself hit against something solid. "OOF!" Before she could register the sudden stop, a pair of metal arms enfolded her body in a firm embrace, just before two columns of blue flame flared to life below her. Looking up, she was shocked to see the wide-domed head of a . . . a BITT-unit?

No, wait . . . this doesn't look like BITT! Staring at the chunkier, blockier body and limbs, she though, IT looks like one of those old cyber-suits Phil told us about! But what's it doing out here?

Even as she stared up at it, the head swiveled down to look at her; just a pair of simple eye-icons in the tactile vision-field of its face. "~Do not worry,~" a synthesized voice told her. "~I have you now.~"

"You . . . have me!?" Miko looked around, noticing that it was still struggling against the pull of the Gravity Well. "Who's got you!? We're still-!"

"~A moment, please!~" The construct seemed to hang motionless in the well of the tremendous gravity-force, only to surge forwards as the rocket-pods on its legs blazed even brighter. With increasing thrust, the Servo-Unit arced away from the Gravity Well, carrying her to relative safety.

Clinging to it's arms, Miko looked around frantically for her friends and for the enemy mobs that were certainly milling about.

"~Be not afraid. Sensors report there are no enemies in our immediate vicinity,~" the Unit said calmly.

"I'm not afraid for myself! My friends are the one's who need help!" Miko said. When she saw they were headed back away from the fighting, she said, "Wait! Where are you going?" The Unit turned on it's axis, and looking up from her position it its arms, she could see the battle still raging above. "The fight's back that way!"

"~That is not my priority,~" that synth-voice replied. "~Your safety must be assured.~"

At that, Miko said, "Safe?! No one's gonna be safe if that Glitch somehow breaks out of here!" She twisted around and gave the Unit's shoulder a sound thump with her fist. "Turn around, right now! I've got to help them!"

At that, the Unit's head turned, it's optics regarding her with intense focus. "~You have no gauntlet to fight with, yet you still wish to fight the Evulstar?~"

"True deal! I can't let my friends get hurt because I couldn't or wasn't able to fight!" Miko said, peering up to see if she could pick out her friend's star fighters among the milrace of mobs. "Oh no . . . looks like it's getting intense up there!"

The Unit slowed down, looking upwards as well. "~Sensors report Evulstar is now complete. Tech Units must engage with cluster bombs to defeat it.~"

"Question is, can they do it, with that Boss Glitch complete?" Miko asked.

The Servo-Unit appeared to square itself, before saying, "~We shall see.~" With that, the Servo-Unit shifted Miko around to put her on its back. "~Hold on.~".

Miko scrabbled for something on the Unit to hold onto, only to find a pair of hand grips extending from its shoulders. Taking hold, she gasped when a wide belt extruded from somewhere inside it; securing her firmly against itself. "Woah! What are you-?!"

"~The Evulstar must be stopped, and we will help your friends!~" The Unit said.

"Wait!" Miko ordered. "You can't just go charging in there," she said. "We need a plan!"

The Unit's head turned around, canting forward to peer at her. "~You have a plan?~"

Miko looked askance for a second. Then, she grinned. "Yeah, I have an idea, but . . . can you get us a couple of those cluster bombs?"

The Unit's head bobbed once. "~Affirmative.~" With that, the Servo-Unit changed direction, and raced towards the battlefield above.

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

The clustered fighters of the Techs were skirting a massive wave of drones and demons, which had put itself in front of the Evulstar. Mitch had ordered them to release a cluster of the bombs towards their target, but the bombs had been deflected or destroyed by the millrace of mobs.

"Oh, BOOSH! They're working like a shield to protect the Boss!" he shouted. "We've got to get around them, or get an angle on the target!"

Hector said, "Easier said than done, Mitch! The swarm's too thick, and-UGH!" He snapped his fighter to the side, avoiding a pair of demons as they came screaming by. "I don't think we have enough firepower to cut through them!"

"Well, somebody come up with a plan!" Zahra said. "We can't stay like this! Sooner or later that Boss is going to start coming after us! WOAH!" Her voice pitched up in alarm, as several minions collided with a stream of blaster fire from behind her.

A new star fighter, with BITT socketed to its fuselage roared into view. "Techs! The time for talk is over! We're punching through to take this Glitch out!" Phil said.

"If you've got a way to do that, Sir, I'm sure we're all waiting to hear it," Nix said.

Hector grimly stared ahead; the clusters of defenders, the waiting defensive traps, and the Evulstar itself made him quail in fear. We might not have one . . . but, we've got to do this! He thought. But . . . how-!?

A sudden voice burst over the comm-circuit: "Fives! Get everyone together and information!"

Hector and every Tech in the vanguard looked startled and surprised. "Miko!? Is that you?"

"It isn't Chomp Kitty, partner!" There was the sound of heavy blaster fire filtering through her speech. "I'm still in this fight . . . thanks to a new arrival!"

Phil asked, "The Servo-Unit!? You found it!" There was a pause. "Who's flying it!?"

"Not important right now, Boss! We've got a plan to take out the Glitch, but you need to do whatever you can to keep the Evulstar's focus off of me!" The sound of rockets flaring interrupted her briefly. "Throw everything you've got at it, and don't hold back!"

"But, what are you going to do?" Hector asked.

"What we always do, Fives," she replied. "Make our strategy work! Now, get on the ball! I'm coming in to the zone, and me and my new Bot-Buddy are coming in HOT!"

Hector swerved his fighter around, and caught sight of a bright streak arcing up from down below; the Servo-Unit, with rockets flaring and blasters blazing through the enemy mobs like twin blades of light. Peering closer, he could see Miko - strapped to its back - as she appeared to have a small cluster of the all-important bombs trailing behind them.

"Fives! What are you doing?" Zahra asked.

"I've got eyes on Miko and the Servo! They're cutting through the swarms from below!" He re-focused his attention forward, and with a hitch in his shoulders, he made a decision. "Zahra, Phil, Mitch! Everyone! Form up on me, stick tight and follow my lead! We're going along with Miko's plan," he said.

Phil said, "Woah-woah, waitaminute! Are you sure-?"

"Fives, we're not gonna be able to last long against that Glitch!" Mitch fired back. "Not in a direct, frontal assault!"

"We're not going to beat him," Hector said firmly. "Just keep him focused on us! Everyone, Form up and follow me, NOW!" With that, he jammed his fighter's throttle to the sticking point; engines howling as he shot forward, towards the massive Evulstar.

Behind him, a sporadic sequence of engine firings followed. "Aaaah, BOOSH! Don't let him get incinerated, Techs! Follow Fives, and lets give this crazy strategy a go!" Mitch added under his breath over the circuit, "Just hope this loony scheme does work!"

Hector grinned. "With Miko's plans, things often DO work!"

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

As they cut their way through the swarming drones, demons, and other mobs, Miko looked up and away from their path, spying the multiple flare-trails of a good dozen sources. "Great! Fives got them to go along with the plan!"

Indeed, the sudden concentrated wall of blaster fire - now focused on the Boss Glitch's construct form - had the affect she'd hoped for. Slowly, the Evulstar had shifted to face the incoming fighters, leaving his flank and rear relatively exposed.

Save for a few dozen squadrons of mobs to boil down towards Miko and the Servo-Unit's oncoming charge!

Gripping her hand-hold tighter, Miko leaned in over the Unit's shoulder and asked. "We've got our shot, but, can you get us close enough?"

"~Indeed!~" The Unit's arms suddenly separated along their central axis, before separating into four pieces that reformed into four, powerful-looking blaster canons. As well, two boxy constructs appeared from its side, revealing the hidden launch-arrays that were brimming with a double-score of micro-missles.

Miko grinned. "That's what I like, Buddy-Bot! Now, let's plow the road!" With a gutsy cheer, she held on for dear life as they surged towards the enemy mobs. Canon blazing, the Servo-Unit raked the incoming swarm with heavy fire, and followed up with wave after wave of missiles; tearing up cluster after cluster of mobs with relative ease.

Even with greater numbers, the mobs were systematically whittled down and wiped out of pixelated-existance. As the last drone spun off into a tornado of pixel-dust, Miko and the Servo-Unit raced onward, soaring alongside the massive hulk of the Evulstar's unprotected flank.

"~Approaching the top,~" the Unit's voice said.

"Look for a weak spot! It's the only thing outside of a total bombardment that will-AHAH!" Miko grinned as she spotted a white "X" mark in a red bubble icon; which was surrounded by girders and giant spikes near the top of the Evulstar's head. "That's the target, Buddy!"

"Miko!" Hector called frantically. "What's your 'sitch!? We're getting hammered out here!"

"We've got this, Partner!" Miko slapped the side of the Unit's shoulder. "Go for it! These bombs should do the trick!" As they raced towards their goal, the Evulstar appeared to sense them; as several large, metallic tentacles suddenly sprouted out of its body and reached out to ensnare them. "YIPE!" Miko ducked low, holding fast to the Unit as it deked to get out of the tentacle's reach.

"~Hold fast!~" The Unit whipped up one arm, the pair of canons on that arm blazing away with streams of coherent plasma-light. Two tentacles were sheered away, and a third was ripped apart to expose the inner-mechanisms. Dropping underneath it, the Unit snapped off three more shots, before dashing forwards to get closer to the weak-point. "~Ready the Mines, Miko!~".

Looking up from where she clung to it, Miko blinked and said, "Just hope this works, or Fives and the others aren't going to survive this!"

The Unit boosted itself over another lashing tentacle. "~Get Ready!~" Suddenly, another tentacle smashed it in the side; sending them skidding sideways into a spin.

"WOAH!" Miko nearly lost her grip on both her ride and the mines. Struggling, she only just hung on by her fingertips, keeping in close as the Unit fought to regain control. As the tentacle came back for another swipe, the Unit snapped out another concentrated blast and blew it apart. The resulting backlash gave the Unit enough counter-force to correct itself, and return to their original attack course. "Things are really getting too tentacle-ly around here! Let's blow this sucker up and get clear, Partner!"

"~Affirmative!~"

Suddenly, they were right over the X-mark.

"Bombs away!" Miko shouted, twisting around to launch the three mines at the X-mark. She then clamped both hands down around the hand-grips on the Unit, holding on for dear life as it launched itself upwards; rockets blazing like miniature suns to get clear.

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

Below, the Techs were weaving and whirling, avoiding the majority of the Evulstar's battery of blasters, missile-tubes and other weapons. But with each passing second, they were taking more and more hits as the encroaching swarms of drones and other mobs tightened the noose.

"Sure would like to hear what Miko's doing!" Mitch said tersely. "We're gonna be toast if we don't get clear soon!"

From his own fighter, Phil replied, "If she doesn't pipe up soon, we're gonna have to take the risk and charge in ourselves! Frontal assault or whatever, we've got to stop this Glitch!"

"Yeah, slight problem with that!" Zahra said. "Every time we've launched a mine at that thing, it does something to take it out before it gets hit!"

Suddenly, Bergy shouted, "HEY, I see Miko! She's up there!"

Hector looked up; his eyes traveling up along the heights of the Evulstar, where he saw a white-blue streak of engine fire arcing away from the top of the construct. Split seconds later, three tremendous explosions went off, rocking the superstructure of the Evulstar in its entirety. "Holey Guacamole! They must've did some major damage!" Spinning his fighter around, he asked, "Nix! What's your readings!?"

Nix took a second to reply. "The Evulstar's power level just fell three-quarters!" Another pause, before Nix said excitedly, "What's more, the drones and other defenders just lost the primary control signal! The Evulstar's becoming defenseless!"

Sure enough, outside the mass of drones and defender mobs were no longer moving in a coordinated defense. They were drifting and falling apart in to disorganized clusters and clumps.

Hector grinned. "Now's our chance, Phil!"

"Right! Techs, let's drive this one home!" Phil turned along with his reserve fighters, forming a flanking formation next Mitch's bombers. "Fives! Take the right! We'll hold the Left! Mitch-?!"

"I know!" There was a change in pitch, as all the fighter's engines howled with increased power. "Let's knock the BOOSH out of that oversized-Glitch container!"

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

As they arced back around, Miko and the Servo-Unit could see the Tech's formation racing towards the Evulstar. "Think they can make it?" she asked.

"~Indeed,~" the Unit repled. "~Concentrate enough mines, and the Evulstar will fall apart!~"

Miko grinned, saying "Woohoo! Final Fight mode!" Just then, her face fell into shock, as she looked at what was below them; coming into view over her friend's fighters. "Oh no! There's a cluster of demons coming in above them! They won't be able to get out of their line of fire!" She slapped the Unit's shoulder hard. "Go, Go-Go! We have to help them!"

"~Agreed!~" The Unit wheeled over, diving for the rear of the demon formation with incredible speed.

.

.

# xOx #

.

.

"We're locked in!" Mitch said. "Just hold them off for a few seconds longer!"

Hector and his flankers were picking off strays as they raced towards the vulnerable Boss. He made a quick check around them . . . just in time to hear the proximity alarm scream in his headset. "Woah!" Looking up on reflex, his face went pale at the sight of a double-score of demons diving down on them. "Ooooo, NERTZ! Demons coming down from above! Evade!"

"We can't!" Mitch groused. "We're locked into our bombing run!"

Hector grimaced and swerved his fighter around. "Protect the bombers, everyone!" He started to aim his ship at the mobs, but to his utter shock, they started to explode as a murderous rain of blaster fire came screaming in from behind the attackers. "What the-!?"

As the clouds of Plixel-pixilated mater dispersed, the large, bulky form of the Servo-Unit came blasting through, with a familiar, cheering, purple-haired girl clinging to its back.

"Miko! You made it!" Hector said, the relief apparent in his voice.

"You didn't think I was gonna leave you guys hangin', did ya!?" Miko asked with a laugh. "Now, let's wreck this fool!"

Hector drew his attention back to the rest of the team; already past and arrowing towards the huge skull-face of the Evul star. "Let's do this!" With a shout of encouragement, Hector joined Miko and the Unit as they swooped in to join the others in their final attack.

.
.

# xOx #

.
.

The whole front of the Evulstar's superstructure was wreathed in massive energy discharges. The skull-face itself was twisted and warped, as if it was in extreme pain.

"Aim for the face," Phil ordered. That's got to be the next weak point!"

As if somehow listening in, the Evulstar's face spread wide; its mouth opening as if it let go with a howl of pain. Through the open mouth, the brief appearance of another white X on a red dome-shape could be seen.

"I'd say that's affirmative, Boss," Nix quipped.

"Mitch, think you can make that shot count?" Zahra asked.

With a chuckle, Mitch said, "Just watch me!" He hit two switches on his command panel. "Mining team, link your fire control to mine," he ordered. "We do this, once and we'll finish that Glitch for good!"

"Right with you, Mitch!" Haneesh said. "Weapons locked to your signal."

The flankers cleared the last of the mobs, allowing for the four ships of Team Miner to swoop up and arc towards the Evulstar's face. Sensing their approach, the giant face turned its gaze downwards, and several hidden plasma canons suddenly sprang into view. Before they could fire, a blue-white blur swept across the massive face; raining down a firestorm of blaster bolts and missiles. In rapid sequence, the last of the Evulstar's defenses were wiped away.

"Miko!" Hector exclaimed.

As the Servo-Unit peeled off from its attack, Miko glanced behind herself and said, "You're all clear, Dingleberry! So let's BLOW this thing and go home!"

The Evulstar bellowed; a sound that was filled with pain and anger:

"YOU! CANNOT! WIN!"

With a savage snarl of satisfaction, Mitch lined his aiming system up with the weak point in the Evulstar's mouth. A quick check to see that the rest of his team's mines were linked and ready, he peered up at the massive face. "That's what they ALL say!" With a jerk, he pulled the firing trigger on his flight stick. "FIRE!"

From the phalanx of four fighters, a cluster of ten mines launched themselves towards the Boss' open mouth. The Evul Star started to close it, but it was too late: all of the mines were already inside, just as the titanic jaws slammed shut.

"Break off, now!" Mitch ordered. As all of his team and the remaining Techs did likewise, he skewed back around to watch, as a sudden rippling of purple energy spread out from the Evulstar's center. The massive Boss let out another roar - this one in hopeless anger-tinged fear - before the entire superstructure came apart in a brilliant, energy-fueled explosion! So massive was the blast, it consumed several remaining clumps of asteroids, as well as remaining defensive drones, demons and other sundry.

"Yes! We DID IT!" Phil cheered.

"Aww, YEAH! Glitch Techs do it again!" Zahra crowed.

Sweeping back around, Nix peered into the rapidly fading super-nova of the Evulstar's destruction. "We destroyed the base, all right . . . but, where's the Glitch?!"

"Oh, Boosh!" Mitch cranked his controls to swerve back towards the Evulstar's last locus. "Nix is right! This isn't over until we bag that Mapper Glitch!"

"Hey, I see it!" Hector cautioned. He made a gesture from his sensor readout. "It's there, right in the center of the blast zone!"

"We need to get to it, before it can escape or reform a core for a new Evulstar!" Phil said. "Techs! We-AHH!" A blur whipped by his cockpit, making him flinch.

"Leave this to us, Boss!" Miko said, urging the Servo-Unit from her perch up on its back. They zoomed past tatters of Plixel mater, arrowing in on their final target. "Hey, you have enough memory to contain that slug?" She pointed towards the Glitch; which actually resembled a huge, slow-moving blob with a vestigal skull face on it's center.

The Unit's arms were snapping back into their normal configurations, as it pulled up in range of the floating Glitch. "~I believe I can, Miko.~" Raising one arm, the Unit's hand folded back into itself to form the focusing aperture of a Tech Gauntlet's capture lens. There was a flash, as the purple containment-beam lanced out to encompass the Root-Form Glitch. With a howling shriek, the Plixel construct was vacuumed into the Servo-Unit's arm, before the universal tone of a successful containment alarm echoed throughout the space field.

"/GLITCH CONTAINED\\"

Miko howled with a victory call. "We did it! We bagged that Glitch!"

All of the Techs cheered, and for a brief moment it seemed to be all they could do. Then, as their cheers died down, there was a sudden realization as the entire environ around them wavered, then it quickly started to de-rezz from the point where the Glitch had been.

Miko gulped. "Uh-oh. That's not good."

The Servo-Unit said, "~Warning! Mapper Environ destabilizing!~"

"That's a wrap! Everyone outside now!" Phil ordered.

The assembled Techs turned and raced for the anchored portal, their star fighters pushing along until they barely reached the threshold, before the apps disassembled their Plixel constructs to allow each Tech to exit back into the real world.

As Phil landed on his feet, BITT said, "Alert! Mapper-space is collapsing! All T-T-Techs must exit the area, before it c-collapses completely!"

Skidding to a halt next to Bergy and Nix, Mitch turned around in time to see the others - with Hector coming right behind Zahra and Haneesh - get out as well. "Where's Miko!?"

As everyone else did, Hector turned, looking very worried as the edges of the portal were beginning to fray. "C'mon, Miko! Muevete, Girl!"

Just as the anchors were starting to lose their hold on the opening, the Servo-Unit burst into the clear and sailed over the Tech's heads; sailing over to land just in front of the cluster of Tech Vans with a heavy THUD!. Behind everyone, the last remnants of the Mapper's environ dissolved into nothing, leaving the portal anchors to fall away from the side of the house in a heap.

Rising from its knees, the Servo-Unit appeared to sweep the assembled Techs with its optics, before its joints sighed with a release of steam and waste heat. "~All Techs . . . accounted for.~" it said, just as Miko herself vaulted over its shoulder to land near its feet.

"Wah-HOOO! Now, that, was a RIDE!" She grinned up at the Unit and said, "You were Incredible, Partner!"

The Unit made a small gesture, before nodding to the others - who were all approaching from all sides - and saying, "~It was a team effort . . . and we all did it, Miko.~"

.
.

.
To Be Concluded . . . .

.