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Chapter 19: Their Leader

Disclaimer: I do not own Outcast Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot or any of its characters.
Crash Bandicoot (c) Activision/Vicarious Visions/Traveller's Tales/Naughty Dog.
Outcast Bandicoot (c) Tara McKee.
Please support the official release!

________________________________________________________________________

The first thing Crunch felt as his senses came back to him was a tremendous ache spreading all through his body, followed by the realization that he still could move his everything as he lifted his massive frame from the ground with some difficulty. His eyes opened to find a huge cavernous extension stretching ahead of them and the vaguely familiar ceiling of the cave they were supposed to sleep stretched out before them, though it was a lot higher than it was when they were sleeping there.

...wait a minute.

Why was the ceiling  so much higher than yesterday?!

Oh, right...

The fight, the assassins who somehow had dark magic-charged crystals that acted as explosives, the ground opening beneath them… all of that happened and wasn’t just a dream. And now they were trapped beneath the cave without any way to leap out of the enormous chasm they now found themselves trapped within. “Goddamn it.” the burgundy warrior groaned in frustration with their predicament, proceeding to sit down cross-legged to keep watch on his friends. At the very least they HAD some sleep being unconscious and the fall wasn’t as high as they thought (though climbing up the gap was still not an option).

And thankfully, not a moment later, the rest of the group had managed to regain awareness of the surroundings, each of them looking around in confusion (except Crash, who seemed more content in just snoring on the floor). “Ugh… what hit me?” Slurred Coco as she got up next, noticing Crunch was already up and about, checking around the large tunnel they now found themselves in.

It didn’t take much for him to realize she was awake and rush back to the group, where finally everyone was awake in a rather bizarre sequence of events (apparently Coco had to deliver a little kick to crash’s belly to wake him up, which happened in a startle that woke Pura and Polar, who ended up almost giving Dayne a heart attack). Normally he’d have reacted to that with a laugh or a frustrated groan, but the sheer bombshell of recollecting yesterday was more than enough to make him feel a bit disoriented.

“A dark magic grenade, apparently.” Crunch responded, not a shred of irony on his voice, which was THIS close to a snarl now. “I can’t believe this Ironfang guy would go so low to get his way…”

“whoawhoawhoawhoawhoa!” The now awakened Dayne interjected, his inner skeptic returning to dominance yet again, along with a new tinge of anger “Yer’ tellin’ me those nutjobs not only have guns, but magic?!” the flaring outrage flowing out of him and, for some reason, directly focused on the larger bandicoot was enough to throw even Crunch off-guard. So far, Dayne seemed like a carefree guy out for his own, but now? It was almost as if he was blaming Crunch for this entire thing. “Ya can’t be serious, mate! Like, sure, Magic exists since the Elementals and whatnot, but now Ironfang has shit like that?!”

Coco was the first to reply, shushing Crunch with a rather stern glare that made her seem ages older than she was “Don’t Worry, Dayne. It’s not the end of the world-” but the older barren bandicoot was fast on the trigger to respond

“Nah, it ain’t the end of the world, but it sure is the end of my village!!” he barked out in frustration, causing Coco to take a step back “Sandrock means the world to me and i agreed on helping you guys get to the Fang HQ because  Ethan called me and said you’d be able to stop that freak, but now what’s the point?! they can just blast the whole place to kingdom come and there’s nothing we can do ‘bout it!!”

Silence once again took over the group after that, Crash even hiding behind Polar and Pura, who simply gazed dumbfounded at Dayne moving towards a wall and punching it in an obvious venting gesture. Crunch’s expression, meanwhile, was unreadable, which was reasonable since he didn’t know what to say: on one hand, the last thing they needed now was to get into fight amongst themselves since they were up against an entire army of anthros. But on the other hand, Dayne’s freakout was completely justified: with the revelation that their cybernetic foe had access to magic as well as weapons and manpower, it suddenly became useless to try and fight them head-on without preparation. It also put the village they pledged themselves to help in danger of complete obliteration if their enemy so decided.

The village where his entire family was currently in.

The thought sent a new wave of terror through the burgundy warrior’s mind. Back in the past, no one actually tried going after his family for leverage. and the sheer thought of it threatened to make Crunch run back for the village and get them all off there, never mind his promise to help the village-

Wow, ok! now he felt like the biggest douche in the universe for even entertaining that thought!

Still, that left the matter of the now pissed-off blonde male about to continue running his mouth at them. And since Coco seemed to have nothing to say in fear of making the situation even worse, it was up to Crunch to respond to him…

...which here translated to the burgundy bandicoot standing up and slapping him in the back with enough strength to knock him onto the ground with a loud yelp of pain. “What was that for, ya jerk?!” Dayne shouted back, but the look he got from the taller, buffer and overall more intimidating male immediately made whatever bravado was there inside him vanish as Crunch caught him by the back of his shirt and lifted him without any sort of effort, not snarling or saying anything while he did that, but letting it quite clear he was about to say something  and Dayne would do well to listen.

After what seemed like an eternity of glaring, Crunch deigned to speak, not snarling or raising his voice, but wearing a look that all but screamed he wasn’t taking any more rambling. “You done? Good.” not waiting for a reply, the burgundy bandicoot continued “Just so you know, you’re not the only one with something to lose in there. Almost all of my family is staying there and i promised Ethan and everyone else in there that they we’d help out so i could keep them all safe.” and at that point, Crunch dropped him to the ground unceremoniously, not even bothering to be soft about it.

The next part came with quite the amount of scathing bite to it. Even if Crunch wasn’t expressing anger, the amount of contempt in the sentence made everyone recoil in shock. “So If you really care about the place, i suggest you get your shit together and actually do something to help instead of running like a coward and letting Ironfang do whatever floats his boat. ”

Dayne nodded numbly, too scared to say anything, prompting Crunch to sigh once he realized it and, in a gesture that no one was expecting, laying a hand on his shoulder and, like a parent comforting their young, once again trying to appease the situation “Look, I know it’s not easy for you to be here. You’re no fighter, that much is obvious. But if you really care about Sandrock, you can just help in your own way.” he looked aside to Coco, as if trying to confirm he got the name right and upon the confirming nod, turned his attention back to Dayne, green orbs boring into the younger bandicoot’s own. “We’re not gonna ask you to fight with us, Dayne. Hell, we’re not gonna ask you to stick close to us when we rush into the Fang Soldiers’ H.Q.” that prompted the other male to avert his eyes in a mix of shame and fear “But please, just take us there! We promise we won’t let any of them touch you.”

A long silence ensued after the burgundy marsupial said that, as pretty much everyone was just standing there, waiting for the future native to answer their plea.

During that time, Dayne made sure to take note of how they seemed to not condemn him for being afraid. Instead, their eyes only bore a determination to help like nothing he ever saw. It reminded him of everyone in the village when the Fang rampage began and they were pretty much the only place the armies of the cybernetic menace didn’t claim as their territory: they were all so determined to stay alive, no matter the odds…

He couldn’t-he wouldn’t let all the people from the place he lived simply vanish because of him. He was afraid, of course. Who wouldn’t be afraid of facing an entire army of dogs ready to tear the flesh out of your bones and very likely eat it afterwards?  But these strangers, who supposedly were from another time, were risking their very lives to help people they never met, much less had little to gain by helping still planned to go at it…

And yet here he was, unable to do anything other than guiding the way to them and trusting they would keep their promise. Damn, it made him feel useless!

But maybe… just maybe-

Finally coming to a decision, the blonde barred bandicoot finally sighed. “Well, now ya got me, mate. I can’t even start arguin’ with that.” he looked away “Screw it! i’ll go with you guys. Either way, things can’t get worse anyway.”  Dayne then took a step forward and pointed a finger at Crunch and his sudden glare took the large bandicoot by surprise “But if you go back on yer promise, i’m leavin! No buts or anythin’!”

“I think that’s what we established the first time you agreed to help us out, anyway.” Coco replied in a joking tone, obviously trying to lighten up the mood. “And since we’re on the topic, i’ve some good news too.” As the words left her mouth, everyone’s attention turned to her all of a sudden, everyone’s curiosity roused at what the group’s obviously smarter member had to say. “And if you’re worried, we understand. As Crunch said, you’re no fighter and it’s natural to be feeling that way.” she shot him a comprehensible smile “But don’t worry: we’ll keep you out of this as much as we can.”

Crash’s response was to nod eagerly and pat him on the shoulder, followed by Pura and Polar simply walking closer and-

Rubbing themselves against him?

While the awkward situation managed to dispel the grim nature of their previous discussion, it did trigger some alarm from the newest member of their group. Because, let’s face it, who wouldn’t be weirded out if someone suddenly started rubbing themselves against you. “Uhh, guys?” Dayne said meekly “I don’ swing that way, so uh… could ya please back off?”. The duo of newly evolved Animals tried looking over to Crash and Coco for what to do, clearly confused by the reaction and earning a sigh from the female bandicoot.

“Oh yeah… i forgot about that.” Coco sighed with some embarrassment as to what was happening “Polar, Pura, c’mere.” the beckoning call was enough for both animals to return to her side, with Crash scratching Polar’s head while Pura let Coco do the same to him. Crunch, however, let a snicker finally break his stern demeanor.

Needless to say, Dayne was still trying to wrap his head at what in the heck just happened, standing there with a meekly raised finger pointing towards the commotion at hand. “What’s with them?” he questioned, prompting the Elemental Bearer to answer his question.

“Yeah, remember when we said we traveled in time?” he quipped, prompting Dayne’s reaction to change to a groan, which only made him perk up even more “Polar and Pura weren’t evolved by a scientist like us. The trip here made them grow into Anthros for some reason. Basically they’re still just normal pets for the most part.”  after the explanation, the metal-pawed bandicoot nodded towards Coco and Crash, who were quick to beckon their pets back, much to their fellow eastern-barred bandicoot’s relief and dismay.

“Ya sure love tryin’ my patience, huh…” Dayne groused, too embarrassed to mind the childish pout on his face and earning him a shrug from pretty much everyone.

Coco was the next one to sass the newcomer “You’ll get used to it. Weirdness is routine when it comes to us” taking a breather, the nerd of the group then opened her smile even further for the next announcement “besides, i think you’ll be happy to know that we don’t need to worry about the Fang Soldiers blasting Sandrock to kingdom come just yet.”
The entire attention of the room changed towards Coco as she said that, both Crunch and Dayne throwing her looks of incredulity that she was quick to assuade. “Think about it: those guys who attacked us could’ve used the Crystal much earlier and they’d have actually managed to kill us much more easily. So why didn’t they? Plus, only one of them used it, and only after we whooped their butts… If that was something every soldier had or they had lots of, they’d have used it much sooner.” She then started walking forward, prompting the group to follow her, all the bandicoots in particular paying rapt attention to her musings “The only conclusion i can think of is that those crystals are special. They’re probably something only the higher-ups have and probably something for emergencies only. In short-” she stopped after they’ve got to a split path, arms crossed confidently “We’ve some time to get there without having to worry about them spamming magic on everyone!”

“That… makes a lot of sense, actually.” It was after a good minute after the female bandicoot stopped that Crunch manifested his opinion on Coco’s Reasoning, the rest nodding. “So we have more time to figure out a way to get out of here and into the Fang H.Q. without worrying about any massive assaults any time soon.” he concurred, earning nods from the rest of the group. Suddenly, as if a spark of determination suddenly lit a fire inside the burgundy warrior, he clapped his fist on his palm. “Alright, let’s get to work then. The sooner we get out of here, the more canine butt we can kick!” Crash and the two evolved pets were the ones to cheer the most. and thus, the team set off to explore the cavern they had found themselves in.

_______________________________________________________________

Vyce Vox was not a happy vulpine at the moment. Not in the slightest.

It was a testament to how awful the mission of yesterday had gone… not only did the two incompetent mutts trailing behind him through the Headquarters botched a simple defensive assassination mission in every possible way (Shoot them in the head, they die. Simple as that. was it that difficult to get a few bloody shots right?!), but it went so wrong that he was forced to use his dark Power Crystal, something that was only to be ever CONSIDERED in cases of life and death! Not only that, but it wasn’t even used against at least 3 dozens of hostiles as expected when this weapon was used. Oh nononononono! It was used against 6 BLOODY PEOPLE!!! They were lucky there was a truck of supplies heading towards the H.Q. or they’d take at least 3 more days to get back to their base.

See, this is why he didn’t want to train the new people. If they fucked up, HE’d be the one answering to Ironfang himself for their failure. Which was why the three of them were trudging towards the General’s office through the metallic halls of their compound, Vyce visibly pissed and the other two terrified for what was about to happen.

“Um, Vyce?” Vincent asked meekly, wincing when said canine turned to meet his apprehensive expression with a glare. “What’s gonna happen to us?”

“Honestly?” Responded their senior “I don’t give a shit. I’ll be requesting your reassignment and hoping to dear god the General is in a decent mood, because if he isn’t…”  he trailed off, letting the threat hang in the air and drawing two terrified gulps behind him. Eventually, the trio reached a Blackened glass door, from where the sound of angry grunts, punches and kicks connecting with some kind of training dummy could be heard very clearly.

Taking a deep breath, the leader of the squadron pressed a button near the door, causing a loud buzz to ring inside the room. The sounds of fighting stopped for a moment before a growling voice rang from the inside of the room, not happy in the slightest with the interruption and seemed to bark some inaudible orders to another person inside the room, which was the one to answer the intercom. “Who is it?” spoke someone from the inside, clearly an annoyed female prompting all 3 of them to stand in attention.

“Black Ops Official Vyce Vox, along with Black Ops Trainees Vincent Vulpine and Victoria Fux reporting! Requesting permission to report personally and to discuss a reassignment, Ma’am!” Announced the leader of the group in as formal a tone as he could muster. After a short pause in which a sigh of displeasure could be heard, The door opened to a wide office with modest decorations. At the side of it, sat a Pincher female anthro with as sour an expression as one could imagine, obviously Ironfang’s secretary if one were to take the formal attire into account. She wasn’t exactly beautiful, but nor was ugly. It was a complete and utter average in all senses of the word.

She got up and, without so much as sparing a glance  at the vulpines, entered yet another sliding door, muttering “Come with me” to the group beforehand, ushering them to follow.
The room they just came into was very much different from the other. Besides a desk with many papers and a virtual console atop of it and chairs, there wasn’t any sort of lavish luxury. In fact, it looked more like a gym than an office in every sense of the word. On one side there was a modest desk with a modest holographic communication system and some modest decor, staple office furniture and  a few small commodities, such as a minibar. On the other, Gym equipment shard the space with a small shooting stand for marksmanship training.  It did not, however, help the utter dread that permeated everyone (Even Vyce, but he was better at controlling himself) when a large muscular dingo anthro stomped their way towards them with a VERY angry snarl. Normally one would presume him as a normal soldier since he only wore the usual shorts used by Male Anthros within the Fang Corps, But the key difference between them was threefold: A. his fur was a dirty brown with large burn scars scattered all over his torso; B: and he appeared much older than most in the room; and C: The left side of his jaw, his left arm, all the way to his pectorals and his right leg were completely mechanical, glowing blue due to the energy cells powering them. His face was set in what seemed like a perpetual angry visage and he all but OOZED an aura of killing intent.

Such was the supreme commander of the Fang Soldiers, former military officer and the scariest Anthro each and everyone of them had ever met: General Ironfang.

Not an instant as the Cybernetic commander stepped to meet them, all 3 of them saluted. He eyed them over, noting their abject terror, before frowning even deeper. “Speak.” he commanded before walking to his secretary and fetching a towel to wipe his brow of sweat, as well as clean up his prosthetics.

“Sir!” Complied Vyce before relaying what transpired the night before. “Yesterday, I was assigned to help these newbies on their first Black Ops mission on a set of suspicious elements roaming through Fang Corps territory. Said Elements included a Burgundy bandicoot with a metal hand, three Barred Bandicoots, a Tiger and a Polar Bear who were heading to assault the base!”

He paused when Ironfang rose a hand to stop the report. “And why the hell are you only reporting about this now?” the Large dingo snarled before realizing something which made him growl in barely continued rage. “I hope for your sake this isn’t going where i think this is going...” he warned with a clear threat in his words.

The leader Vulpine shuddered a bit, before taking a deep breath and continuing. “We ambushed them on a cave a few Kilometers from Sandrock and set to snipe them, but these two IDIOTS-” The emphasis given to Vyce at the word caused both of the anthros beside him to glare at him “Couldn’t take the shot. Because of that, we were forced to engage the targets in normal combat. They were able to overpower us and destroyed a sniper rifle and Victoria’s laser whip. They were about to take us captive, so i had to resort to…” Vyce couldn’t even finish the sentence before A Punch connected with his stomach, strong enough to make him cough blood. He barely had time to double over when a kick from Ironfang’s metal leg sent him flying into a wall, leaving a large dent on the metal construct.

“And you wasted your dark Crystal on a bunch of MARSUPIALS?!” Roared the general before delivering yet an uppercut to Vincent right in the Jaw  and following by slapping Victoria with his metal hand, blows that knocked both to the floor and dirtied the metal tiles with warm blood. “You, Fang Soldiers, Canine predators at the top of the food chain, who eat this kind of shit for a snack… used the most powerful weapon in our arsenal- The stuff given to us by our supplier for emergencies - On a bunch of lowly animals?! Do you have any idea how much of a humiliation this is?! We’re Dogs! the most powerful predators inland and you shits dirty our name by being tossed around by a bunch of CRITTERS!!!!”

Neither of them noticed that the female pincher anthro had suddenly gone to Ironfang’s desk after seeing something emerging from the shadow of the desk.

“Sir, we had no choi-” Vincent tried to reason as he got up, but the general silenced him by using his metal leg to stomp him into the ground, yielding a scream of pain from the recruit as his spine was pressed to the point of almost shattering. “I don’t give a damn about excuses! You’re wearing MY uniforms! And any dog wearing my uniforms is supposed to do their job and do it well!!”  Came Ironfang’s roar of frustration before he grabbed him and tossed him at Victoria’s recovering frame, deftly knocking them at Vyce’s feet as he tried to get up.

“Do you know what’s gonna happen now?!” the dingo continued. “Do you know the shitstorm that we’ll have to deal with when i explain to our supplier why we used our best weapons to get rid of a few rodents?!”   their commander continued, completely ignoring the beckoning of his secretary saying “Sir?” as an attempt to call his attention, which was in vain as he stomped his way to the fallen bunch and shifted his metal arm into an energy cannon. “Not only will we risk him finding out we’ve been having trouble dealing with that goddamn village for an entire  year, but we’ll risk him cutting us out of his supply list or even just rattle us out to the Elementals!! Years of conquering and lost men will be lost because you three fucked up!!!”

“Siiir…” the secretary called again, but to no avail.

As he closed in, Ironfang had then aimed the cannon at the group, its energy cells sending a humming noise as the blast charged. “And worse, I’ll have to bear with that bastard not letting me live a moment of this down! I’ll have to put up with a headache out of some pompous asshole teasing and sassing me for DAYS before i have a moment’s peace of mind! So if i have to hear his incessant yapping, THEN I’LL AT LEAST TAKE IT OUT ON YOU!!!!” the cannon seemed ready to shoot as he finished, the trio ready to accept their doom, when yet again the call of “SIR!” resounded through the room, calling Ironfang’s attention.

“WHAT?!” The cybernetic menace roared in frustration, until he noticed how his Secretary’s face seemed to be set on terrified and she pointed to his desk… where a shadowy form (male if one were to assume by build) was sitting nonchalantly with a clear toothy grin at his feature, which was the only clear thing about its appearance, seeing how it was pretty much a mass of shadow given the form of some kind of anthro.

And in that mere instant, the raging Ironfang was now thoroughly terrified out of his wits.

“Oh, go on! please, don’t mind me! I’m just the guy who supplies all your equipment, food and everything else, no one important. keep going, it’s ok!” the figure quipped in what could only be summed up as the most sardonic, mocking, nonchalant and irritatingly condescending tone the general of the Fang Soldiers had ever heard. The atmosphere in the room, if already hostile, suddenly turned even tenser as Ironfang receded his cannon and lowered his arm with a clearly frustrated expression all but plastered in his face.

“What can i help you with, Mr. Bourbon?” the dingo/dog hybrid recited in a vain attempt to regain his calm as their uninvited guest’s shade seemed to get up from the table and and walk towards them with its arms open as if expecting a warm greeting hug. Needless to say, the soldiers who were terrified for their lives moments ago were now completely speechless at the spectacle that was going on before their eyes

"Fangy! my doggo! my pal! Love of my life! hahaha! how's it going, man?” Mr. Bourbon greeted with a noticeable excess of joy. There was also the noticeable presence of an english accent as he spoke, in all of its annoying excessive and pompous nature. Ironfang was about to reply, but the moment he opened his mouth, the figure cut him off by literally clenching the general’s muzzle and closing it for him as he continued with his sass ”Wait, lemme guess… did you fall off your bed? You look like you need to down an entire pot of aspirin, so i’ll just assume you woke up in a bad mood today!" he cast a glance at the mess left by the general’s tantrum before returning his attention to Ironfang. “Did they forget to bring you your coffee or something?”

It was taking every bit of willpower for Ironfang to not whip out the cannon again and blast the bastard to ashes and then blast the ashes for good measure.

“Everything is fine, sir… just punishing some recruits for screwing up their mission, nothing more.” He explained, as if trying to save face, even after the massive screw-up that just happened. If Ironfang were to be honest with himself, that could’ve been the needle in the coffin with anyone else, but to his luck, Mr. Bourbon was much more tolerant than most arms dealers. That, and he unfortunately seemed to enjoy teasing him way too much.

Speaking of him, the shade finally lowered its arms and crossed his arms, deigning fit to circle around the office with the insufferable grin still plastered on his face, complimented by a pair of red eyes gazing at the general as if he was a book wide open for reading

“You sure about that?” Bourbon commented, cocking his head to the side “Geez, then one of your man must’ve seriously screwed  the pooch, since i distinctly remember feeling one of the 10 crystals i handed you being activated yesterday. crystals which, i remind you, i created with my own magic and, therefore, are linked to me so i know when they’re used. Since i instructed you that those were only to be used at emergencies, naturally i assumed that everything must’ve careened down a cliff. ” As Mr. Bourbon paused gaze then fell upon the three soldiers trying their best to get up after Ironfang’s beatdown. “Oh, I see... so it was you who used it, Vyce? Mind giving me some context?” the shadow addressed the vulpine absentmindedly, who, along with Vincent and Victoria, managed to get themselves of the ground.

It was clear said vulpine was still trying his hardest to stay conscious when he leaned on the wall for support. “I was forced to, sir. It was either that or they’d have beaten us and possibly tortured us for information. Had Vincent here actually done his job.” Vyce had to lean off the other Vulpine and manage to stand on his own at that point. “I wouldn’t have had to resort to such extreme measures. Granted, though, our targets seemed quite experienced with fighting…” he attempted a short stride, but his legs failed him, which forced him to lean on his recruits for support. Granted, they weren’t too enthusiastic about it, but at this point they were just trying to survive. Mr. Bourbon nodded and started pondering about the information, pacing around the room as he did so.

“I-If i may, sir…” Vincent intruded with visible fear, earning the shadow’s attention. “I had done everything correctly from the start.” he started, but Ironfang cut him off.

“then why the fuck did Vyce have to use his crystal, you moron?!” the general exclaimed, but was cut off when Mr. Bourbon rose his hand. Immediately, as if forced down by some invisible weight, the general quickly found himself on the ground.  He tried lifting himself, but to no avail: it was as if he was being held down by some sort of magic, which was the best explanation given the dark aura enveloping his body at the moment

“Now, now, Fangy. I want to hear this. Seems like something you forgot to mentioned” the shadow ordered with a sudden interest, his smirk still very much plastered in the obscured features of its form. The dingo/dog anthro snarled for a bit, but acquiesced.

“True, I missed… but that only happened because, somehow, the Burgundy bandicoot of the group apparently heard the shot. Which is something that I never happened before, especially at the distance we were fighting. It should’ve been impossible.”  Suddenly though, realization struck Victoria too, as she also realized something. “Wait…” she soon spoke, causing all eyes in the room to turn to her. “I don’t think you remember, Vyce, but i heard they saying something about  ‘coming from the past’! In fact, one of those bandicoots had to explain the Aku edicts to them!”

“Say that again…” their supreme commander suddenly interjected, anger subsiding as some sort of realization creeped in. There was something to be said there… After all, he HAD just received a report from the latest Sandrock raid informing him that some new suspicious group of anthros arrived and helped them fight off the squad sent to attack them. Could it be that they were the same group?

“Sir!” the female vulpine saluted and continuing “I remember them saying something about ‘coming from the past’ and them not knowing anything about the Aku edicts! I think it was the burgundy bandicoot with the metal paw which subdued us after Vincent missed the shot! We’ve been following them ever since they entered Fang territory from Sandrock’s direction!”  Victoria’s explanation suddenly had everyone in the room silent as if considering something.

“So THAT’S what the commander of the raids was talking about.” Ironfang muttered, hand on his chin as he hurried to his desk and opened the latest report sent to him from the botched ambush that also happened yesterday in the morning. True to what he said, the report included some suspicious elements arriving out of nowhere and turning the tides of the battle dramatically in the village’s favor. This radically changed things. If those were the new arrivals mentioned to him earlier, than he couldn’t fault Vyce for resorting to the last-ditch effort at hand. In fact, this meant they could organize another raid as soon as the next supply of weapons came about to wipe the

Mr. Bourbon was silent as he contemplated everything that was just mentioned to him before his own eyes widened in realization of something. Soon enough, however, his eyes narrowed and a malignant smirk took over his features.

Just what he needed to hear…

“Well, this suddenly just became sad!”  the spectral being commented. “ You STILL haven’t wiped that mere smear off the face of the earth, Fangy? How long has it been, hm? a year that you’ve been complaining about it to me? Sheesh, and here i thought it was just a lack of coffee. This is downright depressing! Guess the christmas list will be a bit shorter this year, after all!” He exclaimed, and on that moment, the smirk had turned into an outright grin, overflowing with the most sadistic glee the General ever thought possible.

And in that moment, all the bravado Ironfang showed so far dimmed into nothingness as the realization of what just happened hit him harder than the debris that destroyed a lot of his body. He just pretty much gave away the very thing that he didn’t want Mr. Bourbon to know! “Mr. Bourbon…” he started, now genuinely terrified of what could happen. “I assure you, i-it’s just a setback… It won’t be long before I take that village down! We have been preparing for one last invasion! Once we get the new batch of weapons you promised we-”

“Shhhhhh” the specter stopped Ironfang mid-sentence “Fangy…” he chided, starting to circle the room, eying the place “You remember what we agreed on when you were begging for someone to save you from that burning building, right? What did you say again?” he tapped his chin in mock thought “Ah, Yes!” he exclaimed and started talking in the most exaggerated imitation of the general’s voice he could muster, so bad that it actually made the recruits actually cringe “I’ll never be stepped on again by a bunch of rats! I’ll show them who stands atop the food chain! I’ll show them all!!!” he shrugged for a moment, proceeding with the monologue, still bearing a very mock-distraught expression“Welp, seems THAT won’t be happening in the foreseeable future with the way things are going. I mean, come on! I’ve given you the best of everything.” He rose his hand and began counting with his fingers “Troops fit to your specifications; the best weapons in the market; Rations and food of the best quality; the very mine you’re using as a hideout; cover from the Elementals… and yet you couldn’t deal with, what, 100 schmucks at most?”  and with a disappointed sigh, out of nowhere, Mr. Bourbon pulled a small device and pressed a button, activating a screen. “From what i see here and considering the dirt-cheap prices i’ve been cutting for you, that is about 10 million dollars of deficit in my portfolio over the last five years! seems like a lot, right?”

“Sir, please…” Ironfang interjected again, voice almost cracking as he realized where the conversation was going. “We can take them down in the next raid! I’m sure of it! Please reconsider! We’ll make up for it, i swear! Give us a week! We’ll raze that place to the ground, i swear!”

Mr. Bourbon’s next action of approaching him and patting the general’s shoulder was enough to raise the dingo/dog’s hopes and earn a relieved sigh from the other four Anthros in the room-

Until their supplier spoke again.

“I’m so sorry, Fangy, buuuuut business is business is business. I love you and all, but continuing to waste time, money and risking my neck AND my wallet for a bunch of incompetents just isn’t my thing, you know… Sad thing too! I was planning to send you all some gift baskets for a work well done this year. Guess it ain’t happening now, huh.” he walked away and shot Ironfang a fake sad face, complete with even wiping a mock tear from his countenance “Wish we could  keep this going, but you know how this goes, right? It simply isn’t working out between us-”

“Y-YOU SON OF A BITCH!!!” The general couldn’t take it anymore at that point. His entire dream of having his own territory where he could prove his views and grant his troops a good life had just vanished before his eyes. Rage didn’t even begin to cover just how furious Ironfang was feeling at this point. And so, in an impulse of rage, Once again, his metal arm shifted into a cannon and it fired a large blue beam at the figure, enough to leave a hand-sized hole in its chest.

A beam which did nothing but phase through as the shade vanished with a smile and a wave. Ironfang’s frustration was visible in his face when his prosthetic arm returned to its normal form and he slumped into his chair.

Silence took over the room. None of the canines dared say anything lest their general decided to take his rage on them. It was a good fifteen minutes of tension until Ironfang finally found the strength to speak again. “Belinda.” he beckoned the secretary, who approached wordlessly. “Start looking for another supplier for us. We’ll need one now that Bourbon left us behind. ” His eyes then turned to the black ops assassins who sparked all this, which managed to get his rage back tenfold. Fortunately, he seemed to be too tired to exact their punishment with deadly force. “You three. Get out of here before i decide to bust your asses too!”

they didn’t need to be told twice…

As he was left alone, Ironfang tapped a few buttons, prompting a holoscreen to appear before him with the voice channels of all his aides and Lieutenants. “Attention all Fang Corps commanders. Gather all troops at the H.Q. as fast as possible… I want the entire force ready for an all-out invasion. The target is going to be the Sandrock village! Dismissed!”

And as soon as the resounding “YES, SIR!” came, he turned off the communicator and went back to slouching on his chair.

“Is this a wise move, sir? We’ll be burning through all of our remaining supplies at this rate. And i have no idea how long it’ll take for us to find another Arms Dealer willing to give us the prices Mr. Bourbon had for us…” Belinda questioned, already searching through the contacts and dark web resources the group had access to. After all, even from the beginning of the operations, one of the rules of Guerilla was that one should always keep options open in cases like this. Ironfang only looked up and muttered in the most threatening tone the woman had ever heard the general use.

“I don’t care at this point…I’ve had enough of this game! If this is gonna be our end, i’ll at least burn that filthy village to kingdom come to the ground once and for all!”

Unbeknownst to him, however, a certain vulpine had heard the entire thing and once silence fell again, vanished without an inkling of evidence he was ever there.
Chapter 18: The Assassins



Disclaimer: I do not own Outcast Bandicoot, Crash Bandicoot or any of its characters.
Crash Bandicoot (c) Activision/Vicarious Visions/Traveller's Tales/Naughty Dog.
Outcast Bandicoot (c) Tara McKee.
Please support the official release!

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Though it could not be argued that any member of the ensemble was out of shape (far from it), It was hard following someone when the track of footprints they had been following for the better part of the day had suddenly vanished (in fact, the sun had just set by now). Though frustrated, the group (particularly Dayne) was not surprised.

"Dayne"  Coco addressed the newcomer, who responded with "Ye, lass?" in a way that did cause a slight pink hue on her cheeks before she continued

"Are hovercars that can carry lots of people a thing around here?"  and elbowing her brother lightly after noticing a slight glare he was giving the other bandicoot, who only let out a whine of protest. Crunch, on his end, could only raise an eyebrow with a teasing smile at that, much to the discomfort of Crash.

It was the one thing they noticed during the walk: Coco seemed to be developing the seeds of a crush for their newest companions, though most of the time, she was discreet enough to shut down any comments with a snippy remark, but even then, there was something there. and Crash didn't like it one bit. In fact, Crunch would probably have to take the bandicoot aside so they'd 'talk' about this before it created unnecessary tension in the group at this very moment, which they did NOT need now that they had to adapt to a completely different world.

Dayne's face grew a bit more skeptical at that. "Ok, you’re really tryin’ hard to sell that 'Time Travel' Schtick, aren't ya? " he snarked, finally prompting Crunch to protest yet again with a frustrated tone.

"We're not lying!" he snarled, letting it clear that his patience with that argument was getting thin, but the smaller bandicoot just rolled his eyes at that.

"Whatever ya say, mate..." he acquiesced, not willing to try the larger bandicoot's goodwill any further and returning his attention to Coco. "So yeah, lass, there’re Hovertrucks around, and i think the Fang Soldiers got their hands on a few. Probably stolen." he finished explaining, prompting the group to pipe down.

"Well, this puts a damper on things... how do we track them now?" Coco groused, prompting her brother to lower his head their Burgundy to lean on a tree to think on what to do. First thing he did was look at Dayne, with a look that said 'you know the way to where they are?', which the other bandicoot immediately caught.

"well, i ain't one to get meself in trouble” he responded “but i could try and lead the rest of the way to their headquarters... but it'd take some time on foot. Like, 'bout a few days' time...", he took a moment to think before coming up with something. "Say, you guys are crashing at the village, right? " he asked, receiving a collective nod from the others. "Well, this makes things harder..." he said with no amount of worry and pointed to a certain tree, which was the largest in the region "That tree is the border between us and Fang territory. We go in and the moment they spot us, they'll be droppin' 'bout five hundred doggos on us faster than we can blink. I dunno if you guys are good at fightin', but i sure ain't up to fight an army with only 5 anthros as my backup..."

Dayne's explanation prompted a scoff from Crunch. "We can take'em. If they're anything like those that invaded the village, then we've got nothing to worry." he responded, conviction in what he just said palpable enough to make the other 4 time travelers behind him exchange a worried look.

"Um, Crunch?" Coco was the one to interject first "I mean, i don't doubt you're strong or anything, but back there, we were facing a small platoon at best and we had lots of backup with weapons to hold them off. i dunno if it's a good idea to just march  into their territory bare-handed and without any firepower." she interjected and Crash nodded upon a glance from his sister, though his expression left it clear quite a bit of what she said was lost to him.

And to that, the burgundy bandicoot rolled his eyes. "Well, what do you suggest we do then, Coco? It's not like we haven't faced worse-" he interjected, but the female eastern-barred bandicoot cut him off immediately

"True, but we don't have Aku Aku this time to help, nor do we have the Elementals either to threaten them into stopping their invasions. Plus, you gotta remember neither crash or I will kill anyone in there. That is the one thing we will never do " she placed her hand on her chin, thinking about the situation whilst Dayne and Crash exchanged a rather confused look, as if they also didn't know what to do and Crunch just huffed at that, easily not exactly keen on going pacifist with a group that attacked them before. “hmm, maybe we should try and camp somewhere at nightfall. I’ll think of something, but i’m pretty sure our first course of action should be getting some information on the enemy first…”

Silence fell as both Dayne shrugged and Crunch stopped himself from saying anything else. Sure, he was pretty sure the lot of them could take care of this with the simple approach, but Coco had a point: maybe it’d be better to know what they were truly up against to figure out the best way of dealing with it without having to resort to killing… though if it came to that, he would be more than inclined to do what needed to be done to stop the bad guys from causing any further harm.

Crash, meanwhile, seemed to have occupied himself with some berries he found on a nearby bush and was eating them with gusto. Polar and Pura soon felt their mouths watering at the sight and so did the rest of the group. It finally came to light that they had barely eaten anything for the last 8 hours due to being busy following the Fang Soldiers without worrying about anything else. Hell, even Crunch had to admit he’d kill for some meat now.

“Guess we really should set camp somewhere near and get food. we’ll figure out something tomorrow, as you said, Coco.” He proposed, to which both his friends nodded “Crash, save some of those berries. we’ll probably need them for later.” the next one he addressed was Dayne, who had been leaning on a tree while the conversation had gone “Dayne, right? you know the forest better than us. Know of any caves or something of the sort we can sleep in?”

“Well” responded Dayne, putting an arm to his chin as he concentrated on remembering the layout of the forest around them “i think there’s one about half an hour from here… though it’ll take us off track for now.”  he pointed out northeast from the spot they were currently on. “Think you guys can keep up?” he teased, to which all of Crunch’s crew were prompted to share that all but screamed “Challenge Accepted!” as they all went along with their guide towards the shelter.

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As the group of anthros headed on, however, none of them noticed they were being observed from above. The shadow of the trees concealed a trio of canine Anthros that seemed to be paying rapt attention to the ones below. Whatever light flicked towards them from the twilight only revealed an “I” symbol on their garments. “Well, whaddya suggest we do, Vyce?” asked one of them (a female by the sound of the voice) in a hushed tone, turning to the side, where one of his companions lay sitting, a pair of curved knives on his hands as ‘Vyce” seemed to pay more attention to playing with them rather than actually pursuing their target, who already seemed to have gone a bit ahead of them.

He sighed “Do i really have to point out the obvious?” with one move, Vyce had deftly and swiftly settled his weapons in their sheathes before continuing “Wait for them to sleep, kill’em and bring the bodies. It’s what the Fang Black Ops do…”  his tone left it clear this was one of many times he had to repeat that. The integrants of the group exchanged worried looks as they once again checked on the direction of the bandicoots and their rather large tiger and polar bear anthro companions.

The worry did not go unnoticed to Vyce…

“Don’t tell me you guys are scared of them.” he sneered, shooting them a glare that was only noticed because of the canines’ night vision. “Oh, grow up! we can take’em all down. It’s not like we have to fight fair and all…” Yet again, he drew one of his knives and with a very fast move, thrust the entire blade into the trunk of the tree he was standing on before pulling it out just as quickly.

“Let’s get going… with some luck, the boss will give us a raise after this” and with one last beckoning from their leader, the rest of the anthros moved on, deftly moving through the canopy as silent as death itself.
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2 hours later…

Crunch was quite happy that his hope about boars not evolving turned out right as he was now carrying a huge one down to the cave after a lucky hunt. Not that he couldn’t just eat the fruit Crash and Dayne had gone off to collect, but right now? he needed all the protein he could get. Plus, the burgundy bandicoot wasn’t the only Carnivore there. Pura and Polar were also anthros now, which meant they also could use some actual food instead of dealing with whatever Crash and Coco fed them beforehand. Fortunately, he was able to catch some Wumpa nearby, so he was sure he’d be able to compensate their discomfort of the meat with the gift. After all, just as he needed meat, he was sure Crash could also use some spoiling too. After all, if anyone really helped him during his entire life, even as much as Tani herself, it was Crash who actually freed him from Cortex and were always. And sure, Tani wasn’t their greatest fan, but he wasn’t her and both the other bandicoot and his sister were certainly more than worth some extra trouble…

Finally, he made it to the cave where they were staying, being greeted with the sight of a small bonfire lighting them all talking (well, Dayne and Coco at least) and laughing together

“Did i miss the punchline?” he said, prompting all of them to look at him with a surprised expression, particularly Crash, who was practically drooling on the floor once his eyes caught sight of the three fruits in Crunch’s other arm which wasn’t holding the boar, which only made said burgundy bandicoot crack a smile as he laid the boar on a nearby rock before tossing the first one to Crash, who only narrowly caught it, and even then stumbled to do it.

“Heh! Easy there, Crash!”  Crunch quipped “we can get some more tomorrow. While i was hunting, i ended up finding a few wumpa trees. we’ll fetch ya before we get back on track.”

"I thought Wumpa Trees were only found in the N.Sanity Archipelago! How did you find these?!" asked Coco as she moved to check on the fruit handed to her by Crunch, who simply smiled in response to how marveled the girl bandicoot was with the discovery.

"Hey" he responded "we never know how much can change in 8000. It's also interesting how the setting changed. I was expecting at least a huge city by the time we got here, but the only thing we found so far is a village." That in particular prompted Dayne to join in after receiving his own Wumpa, which he ate unceremoniously.

"If you really don't know, Wumpa is commonplace 'round Australia and there're huge cities around." Dayne piped in, the annoyance of the how ludicrous their story of time travel was already dimmed, but still there. By the way he spoke, he probably chose to entertain them so as to not cause more problems for himself. "But those are far and few between, and they are mostly there for the filthy rich and industry after the Aku Edict." he explained and after the prompting silence, continued. "I don't remember all the details, but accordin' to history books, Aku Aku, the Mask of Good and spokesman of the elemental gods, called the human leaders after the Great Cataclysms and enforced some rules on 'em. Mostly environment preservation stuff. N' since then, we didn't see many cities formed since those rules were kinda strict."

The reply prompted no visible reaction from Crunch, but on the inside, he was torn. Sure, he could see why humans would name the whole thing "Great Cataclysms", considering most of them died because of his decision (it was for the greater good... it was for the Greater Good... it had to happen!) but on the other hand the few human villagers they've met so far didn't hold any ill will towards him. Heck, they welcomed them with open arms, which probably showed that they were showing just how resourceful the species was when it came to adapting to hard circumstances.

But the fact he still signed the metaphorical death warrant of billions of people still took its toll on him. Particularly because it was something that proved he was exactly the murder machine Cortex built...

Of course, he still tried putting on a brave face before Tani, Crash and Coco, who knew the most about his situation, but there was a lot he still had been handling all by himself. Particularly two things: the fact he still remembered how awful it was to be what equated to a puppet due to that goddamn remote and band on his arm (which was thankfully gone!) and  the fact that, when he tried fighting Cortex for the first time, someone else paid the price for it... sure, he lost his arm...

But Kris Roo lost his LIFE!

He was broken out of his introspective brooding when he took notice on how everyone was staring at him and he was clutching his metal arm kinda tightly "You OK, mate?" questioned Dayne, while the bandicoot siblings gave him a knowing, sympathetic look.

"I'm fine guys, don’t worry." the burgundy bandicoot assured them with a weak smile "just reliving a bad memory, is all... i'll be fine soon."  he then picked the boar and gestured for Pura and Polar to follow him. “We’ll be back soon. C’mon, guys. Let’s eat.”

“Ehh, why are you eating outside?” Dayne interjected curiously

“Well” Crunch replied “I dunno about you, but i don’t think Crash and Coco feel too comfortable with the three of us eating a raw boar. it gets kinda messy.” The explanation ended with him directing a glance towards the two bandicoots in question, who nodded apprehensively.

“Just don’t go too far, OK?” Coco warned them, eliciting a nod from the larger red bandicoot, who got up and gestured for the newly-evolved tiger and polar bear to follow him outside to eat with a hastened “c’mon” and was followed without resistance. When they were finally outside, she sighed heavily and Crash was  the first to go pat her, which she very much appreciated given the grateful smile she shot her brother.

“What’s got into him?” their blonde counterpart inquired, eyeing the entrance of the cave where they left worriedly. He may not be as close to the guys he was accompanying, but one thing Dayne wasn’t was stupid. It was crystal clear that, whatever the elder and larger bandicoot had been reminded of, it wasn’t exactly something small, given how he was clutching his metal arm so tightly without even realizing it…

“Crunch is… Complicated.” She answered, handing Crash a berry for him to eat while she explained the situation “Maybe you don’t believe us and it’s a perfectly reasonable attitude from where you stand, but even if you don’t agree with us being from the past, i’m sure you’d understand if we told you that he’s gone through a lot because of a really bad scientist who’s been nothing but trouble for all of us and his mate, who’s taking care of their children in the village now. And i’m not gonna tell much because it isn’t my place to…” she took a deep breath “But he lost a lot more than his arm because of that horrible man…”

To say silence was thick after that explanation would be a gross understatement. Up until the three bigger Anthros came back, neither Coco, Crash or Dayne said a word, the former two just trying to suppress the situation and the latter taking it all implications of their words.

“I’m back-” the Burgundy anthro greeted until he noticed their crestfallen look as he came around. Naturally, he assumed it was because of his display earlier… what else could it be, stomachache? And so, with a heavy sigh, he addressed the situation “Guys, you know you don’t need to worry about me. I appreciate it, i really do, but this isn’t something you need to get sad about. it’s water under the bridge now. Just a bad memory, is all.”

Coco was about to respond, but when Crunch let out a yawn, she thought better  of it. It was not hard to notice everyone was tired after a whole day of walking, and there was no point in pushing the issue further when it was obvious she wouldn’t get any more information anyway. “Good idea” Dayne yawned too “ Tomorrow, it’ll be even more walking.” he finished as he walked towards the end of the cave and curled himself on a rather sizeable hole on the wall. A brief exchange of looks amongst the other  Anthros  prompted the group to follow suit, taking their time to find comfortable seats at the end of the cave, with Crunch staying behind to put out the small campfire and then following his friends off to sleep too, laying in direction of the cave’s entrance.

Something disturbed the larger bandicoot as he lay on the cold floor barely thirty minutes later; the noise of foliage moving. It wasn’t far away judging by the rustling, and if his limited hunting experience for the last three years and some of the time on Cortex’s space station taught  him something, it was that the noise was far too loud for it to be a small critter, much less a single one.

Whoever it was in the foliage, they had no scent.

Trying to avoid giving away that he was awake, he kept his breathing slow and steady as if deep in slumber as he quickly glanced around by only narrowly opening his eyes, noting that the foliage soon started to move again. This time, however, his instincts kicked in almost immediately after he heard a sound that screamed trouble, courtesy of his superior hearing.

The cocking of a gun.

It may have been a few years since his last unfortunate encounter with a group of human soldiers which ended in an outright slaughter after they decided to push his buttons, but the memory of that sound was still fresh in his mind to this day, in large part due to Pinstripe, on whom he and Tani had once went to visit while he was in the middle of target practice. Despite that specific noise was a bit quieter it still triggered every alarm in his mind.

It was then his eyes finally noticed a faint blue glow amongst the bushes nearing the entrance of the cave and his body sprang into action when said glow intensified a little. Crunch was grateful he woke in time as suddenly a thin blast of light soared right past his ear and impacted the solid rock at the end of the cave leaving a small crater in the rock face. He barely had the time to roll again when another blast was shot in his direction, and though he was able to run out of the way, this one grazed against his shoulder, leaving a nasty burn scar where the beam touched.

“Argh!” Crunch let out. While he could say that the blast was less painful than the Termination Ray it certainly stung. Luckily, his roll had landed him close to a rather large stone, enough to shield himself behind.

Behind him, he heard Coco waking up at his cry of pain.

“Crunch?! What’s happ-” she started, with no small amount of panic in her voice, but was interrupted by another shot fired in her direction, which she was barely able to evade by ducking behind the rock Crunch was hiding behind. And to his growing dismay, it seemed the rest of them was also hearing the ruckus and repeating Coco’s mistake. However, this time, he was ready to deal with it.

“Stay where you are! They’ve got guns!” he barked out, prompting the rest of the group to wake up in alarm to seek out whatever cover they could. There were a few more shots, but thankfully they all missed albeit barely, giving the group a small respite.

‘This is bad’ thought Crunch as he shifted his gaze towards the group behind him and then back to where the shots came from. Normally, they’d be able to get through this with some difficulty at best, but there was the pressing problem none of them had much rest. they had walked the entirety of the day and, even if they were capable fighters for the most part, exhaustion was taking a heavy toll on them. It was only a matter of time before they slipped up and a blast sunk its way into their bodies. And the fact of the matter was that they were cornered into a small cave while their enemies had a sniper in their ranks and hadn’t hesitated to attack while they were sleeping. Talking it out was, therefore, not an option.

“Crap, crap, crap!” Dayne suddenly cursed from his hideout behind one of the holes in the wall of the cave he hid himself into. “I knew it… I just KNEW IT! It’s what i get for helping strangers! Way to go, Dayne!”

Unfortunately for him, that was enough to get Crunch’s temper to flare even more. And when the burgundy anthro let out a “Can it!”, the barred bandicoot was reminded of why he was trying to NOT get on his bad side.
And when Dayne finally did as he was told, Crunch’s eyes detected that something, or rather, someone, had risen from the bushes holding the weapon used to attack them as he slowly poked his head out. Besides it, 2 more figures rose from the bushes to close in on the cave, one wielding what Crunch could only describe as a whip enhanced by electricity and the other holding a pair of twin combat daggers lit up by a laser edge (was all futuristic weaponry this flashy?!).

The faint light allowed him to finally see their assailants. It appeared all 3 of them were vulpine anthros, judging by their slim frame and general appearance. While the sniper and the one holding the knives were males, the whip user’s even slimmer figure and bust indicated an obvious female. Outside of the basic shorts, holsters for their equipment and some form of tight-fit chest armor plate in the female’s case, none of them was wearing anything particularly abnormal to Anthros, but one part of their outfit in particular made the group of heroes scowl.

On their clothing, an ‘I’ symbol could be seen emblazoned into their clothes.

“I think they’re with the Fang Soldiers,” whispered Coco as they approached. The rest of the group (save Dayne, who was doing his best to keep hidden) tensed even more. Crash was the one who seemed mostly unfazed by it, but even he was serious about the situation. Crunch, on his end, had a deep scowl on his face as they expected  to see what the advancing anthros would do.

“Ok, so THAT didn’t work…” one of them said, to the heroes’ surprise.

“Gee, where did you get THAT impression, Vincent?” the female one drawled in annoyance. “Now we’ll have to do it the hard way,  All thanks to your bad aim...” earning her an annoyed growl.

“Well, Victoria, why don’t YOU pick up the rifle, shoot them, and THEN come back to yell at me?!” Vincent spat back with a rather biting tone. Victoria seemed to be at the ready when she prepared her whip to strike at him for the comment.

Finally the last one seemed to sigh in annoyance at their antics and turned to meet his companions’ eyes, to the bandicoots’ bafflement. “Would you two kindly shut up?!” he snapped. “You’re making this harder than it needs to be-” whatever was left of their discussion was lost to Crunch as he signaled for Coco to hand him something, and smirked when a rather sizeable rock was handed to him by the girl.

That moment of banter had saved them!

Not needing to see twice, Crunch took advantage of the banter between the assassins and threw the stone as hard and swiftly as he could. The assailants barely had any time to react when Vincent was struck on his arm by it, forcing him to drop the gun as he doubled over from the pain…

And in that split second, the metal arm bandicoot lunged at them with a yell of “NOW!”, running on all fours and striking Vincent with a swift and very painful punch, which knocked the vulpine into a nearby tree. Victoria was the next to try and act at the brutal assault and cracked her electric whip to strike Crunch, but she was forced to abandon those plans in favor of  jumping away the charging duo of Pura and Polar, who had also lunged at her.

Even though she managed to stop herself from being hit, there was little time as Crunch had grabbed her wrist with his metal arm while she was winding from the  jump and twisted it hard, forcing her to let go of the whip which fell harmlessly on the floor. “It’s not like I like hitting ladies” he quipped “But I don’t like being attacked while sleeping.” She tried to fight back by kicking his groin from behind, but before she could even do anything, Pura delivered a rather scathing bite to her other arm, giving Crunch enough time to grab both the whip and the sniper on the ground and throw both weapons away. It seemed like it wasn’t enough, however, as she tried to use her free arm to deliver a scratch to the Polar bear’s face, forcing him to yelp and stagger back from the pain. Before she could do any more, though, Crunch caught her arm and pulled her towards him before delivering a nasty punch to her gut with his metal arm, knocking the Vulpine out cold.

Meanwhile, the final assassin, Vyce, seemed to do a little better as he deftly swung and thrusted his daggers at Coco multiple times, attempting his best to take advantage of the fact that he had weapons and she didn’t. He had to admit: she was faster than she seemed, avoiding his strikes with some difficulty, but still not getting hit at all. Finally, after avoiding quite a few blows from the knife-wielder, Coco’s luck changed as an opening finally presented itself when he missed a scissor blow with his weapons. And on that brief moment, before he recovered his form, Coco let out a cry of “Hyah!” and delivered a kick to his gut, knocking him back.

“Why you little…” he growled and readied himself to jump at her again, but his instincts told him something was coming and, had he not ducked out of the way in time, he’d have been hit by the spinning orange bandicoot that just missed him.

Ok, THAT was weird...

As he dodged, he landed close  to Vincent, who finally managed to wake up from the blows he took so far. “ugh. what hit me” the black-haired vulpine groaned as he got up only to get a rather cold response from Vyce, who simply replied with a “that.” as the heroes closed in on them, determined to get some answers. Well, most of them. From the back, the Fang Soldier saw that one of their targets was simply hiding in the cave.

“Uh, any ideas, Vyce?” Vincent asked in obvious worry at their situation as the two of them kept retreating slowly, to which said anthro just grunted in anger… and resignation? That particular reaction sent enough alarms through the bandicoot ensemble’s brains. why would their foes be so calm when they had literally been cornered, were outnumbered and had lost one of their own? Crunch could almost SMELL something was fishy on that moment. And true to his feelings, he saw the slimmer canine anthro reaching for his back pocket.

“You better not try anything funny.” he warned them with a threatening intonation, glaring daggers at them. “You’re outnumbered and one of yours is out…” he threatened “So either leave or we’ll have to actually hurt you guys.”

“Guess what, pal… we’re outnumbered, but you’re outgunned!” Vyce replied with a rather malicious smirk, finally revealing what exactly he had in his back pocket and what filled him with such confidence all of a sudden:

A pitch-Black power crystal, the size of a strawberry, rested in his hand.

Before Crunch could act, however, Vyce threw the crystal up and, as the small object caught the group’s attention, he spread his arm and spoke out loud: “AVAVAGO!”

As the word was said, the crystal seemed to float in midair for a moment before emitting a pulse of darkness from it. And out of all people, Crunch seemed to be the one whose rapt attention focused the most at the gem. “Dark Magic?!” he uttered before realizing the crystal’s pulses were getting more and more intense. almost like a-

Oh no!

“Get back to the cave! NOW!!” he barked out and made a run for it, which the group didn’t even question as they followed him inside and the assassins seemed to follow suit, grabbing their companion and dashing away into the forest.

“What the-” Dayne questioned too when he saw the group suddenly running back and he felt the need to follow them. Unfortunately for them, it was not long before a final pulse was emitted from the floating gem, finally fulfilling the function for which it had apparently been designed and, in a flash of darkness, it detonated with the force of a C4 bomb, leaving a huge crater on the entrance of the cave our heroes had sought refuge in. The booming sound, though, was only the beginning. beneath their feet, the entourage could feel the ground giving away, which only served to make the heroes run faster into the recesses of the cave.

But as luck would have it, even their strong bodies were not immune to fatigue, and the single moment it caught up with them and their adrenaline rush stopped, a crumbling sound started assaulting their ears and, to their horror,  the ground beneath them started giving away. In a quick moment, before any of the past anthros or their future companion could escape, a deep crack into the earth soon opened beneath their feet, sending  the screaming group plummeting into a deep abyss.

___________________________________________________________

meanwhile, hundreds of miles away…
Amidst the dark recesses of a living room in a penthouse in Sydney’s heart, a figure stared down at the distance, a malevolent smirk on in its muzzle as it overlooked the town below with a glass of whiskey in its hand.

“Sir?” the sound of sophisticated Moccasins heralded another presence in the room as another male suddenly called the mysterious individual from behind. He seemed to be a tasmanian devil anthro a few sizes shorter than normal for the species, and yet still looked like the prime model for elegance in a black suit with a white shirt beneath and a butterfly tie to complete the obvious butler look.

“Don’t you just love it when things get interesting after a boring day, Gregory?” the voice of the apparent master of the house resounded, youthful and filled with mirth and yet still frightening the butler by how sudden it was. “I… think so? what exactly happened?.” replied the butler with evident confusion, to which a faint chuckle came to answer him.

“One of the Fangy’s little pawns finally used the dark crystals! I felt the detonation a while back.”  explained the other finally getting up from his comfortable position at the huge balcony of the penthouse, features still obscured by the dark “This means they’re finally meeting a threat they can’t handle on their own, which ALSO is a good reason for me to finally start cutting our canine friend off the supply list!”, prompting even more confusion from the butler, though it was not that he didn’t understand what it happened but something else.

“And how exactly is that good, sir? As far as I know, you’ve been investing a lot on the Fang Soldiers to begin with. isn’t it bad to have them go down?” Gregory retorted, finally catching up to what his boss was thinking, which prompted said being to turn around and face him. Even though his features were completely obscured, a pair of yellow eyes, filled with malevolent mirth, was now staring into his own, complementing the eerie toothy grin etched in his face

“True,” the other male started “but on the other hand, I have been investing TOO much in him. And now, i feel there’s no point in keeping this charade going any further. If Ironfang has been dealing with a tiny spec of a village for this long and is still not in control of it, it means this is as far as he can go...” And with that, the master of the house walked away towards the hallway of the residence, no doubt back to his room to retire for the night, but not before addressing his diminutive employee one final time “Tell the driver to get here early tomorrow, will you? I’d like to tend to this matter as soon as possible. Fangy’s at his worst in the morning and i do so LOVE annoying him!” and with that, the butler bowed and headed to the phone, but not before muttering one last “Pompous asshole…”  and preparing to do as instructed.
Outcast Bandicoot 4: Finding a Future(Alternative)
Author’s Note: Welp, hello everyone and welcome to this fan continuation of the original Outcast Bandicoot 4: Finding a Future. As some few of you who i showed this work to should know by now, i have been a  fan of the Outcast Bandicoot series ever since i first played it and it was my initiation into fanfiction. As such, when i learned that OB4 would be canceled and never continued, i was pretty sad. but after many years maturing as a writer, i finally asked the Author herself, Lurking-Leanne, permission to continue from where she left off. Bear in mind, this is my interpretation of the characters and the story from here on out is, for the most part, going to be following a different path from the original OB4. As such, expect some OCs to appear and bear in mind i will also take some liberties of my own. With that being said, i hope you enjoy the story!
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erederiu
Yuri M. Fernandes
Brazil

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:iconitsuya999:
Itsuya999 Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2013
Thanks for all the :+fav:
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erederiu Featured By Owner Jul 27, 2013
You're welcome :)
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StrikingHyena Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the Fave :D
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Thanks for the :+fav:!
May the force be with you.
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Thanks for the fave! ;)
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