Every game has a story.
RocketSnail Games has partnered with the Miller Brothers to write the Mech Mice story. Later this summer we plan to publish the first in a series of Mech Mice novels.
Read the story, then post your feedback when you are done.
In seven minutes, the world would end. It was the stuff heroes were made for.
Evening’s last light clung desperately to the horizon, unwilling to surrender day’s final breath into the choking grip of night. It was a colorful death. Red gave way to purple and finally to a deep indigo blue, framing the edges of the rugged terrain like an artist frames a masterpiece. Like clockwork, the ancient war between day and night continued on, but this battle belonged to the night.
Beneath the wounded sky a broad meadow stretched out wrapped in a thick forest of ironbark trees. All was still in the meadow. Even the wind seemed to hold its breath in honor of the sacred event.
Silently, the blackened silhouette of a lone field mouse cut across the blood red skyline with determined speed. Having reached the edge of the forest, the mouse pressed itself against a tree and listened. His ears moved like radars in search of any sound of danger. The coast was clear.
He raised his forearm to his face and a backlit screen appeared on his wrist, casting a blue glow over his features and displaying a countdown in big black digits. Six minutes, forty seconds remained; he was running late.
This was no ordinary field mouse. Dressed from claw to collar in black and red battle armor, he was a highly trained commander for the MechMice Guard. It was his sworn duty to protect the citizens of the Colonies from invasion – no matter what the cost.
Ziro was a rugged, young mouse with broad shoulders, reddish fur and nerves of steel. He carried himself with a confidence that others often admired and followed. As a pup this ability had landed him and his schoolmates in trouble on more than one occasion – all in good fun, of course. Here, on the battlefield, things were different. This was no place for fun and games. War was a serious matter. One wrong move could get a good mouse killed – or worse yet, an entire squadron.
As commander of the Genesis Squad, Ziro carried the weight of his responsibility with seriousness. If everything went as planned, today’s mission would prove once and for all that they were capable of being one of the Elite Guards and not just another average squadron.
Surveying the forest before him with a critical eye, Ziro carefully took in his surroundings. Just ahead spilling through the crooked tree line, an un-naturally bright light seemed to emanate from a clearing not more than a few hundred tails from where he now stood.
“Bingo,” Ziro muttered to himself. He retrieved a pair of sonic vision goggles from his utility belt and scanned the area ahead. Nothing showed up which meant they were alone. Satisfied, Ziro turned toward the meadow and waved his paws over his head. As he did, his palm thrusters flashed on and off in a silent signal to alert the others. Seconds later, several black shapes of various sizes zigzagged their way across the meadow to where Ziro stood.
As always, Streak was the first to arrive.
“What took so long, Chief,” Streak asked, “I was beginning to think you were never going to signal.” Streak was the youngest on the team and by far the quickest mouse Ziro had ever met. The only trouble was, he was also impatient. “Next time, why don’t you let me take Point Guard. I’ll cut our mission time in half.”
Ziro didn’t have time to answer; Magenta was the second to arrive with one of her signature comebacks.
“Ha! That will be the day. You’ll cut our mission in half all right…by getting us killed!”
“You’re just jealous because I can run circles around you,” said Streak.
“Listen, kid. You may be quick but you draw more attention than Demo.”
Just then, a beastly mouse lumbered up to the group with booming footsteps and an even louder voice. His battle gear was entirely different than the other mice. For starters, he was fully enclosed in a heavily armored mechanical suit, which measured twice as tall as an average mouse. This particular model had seen better days, its bolts were a bit rusty and at times seemed like it might fall apart.
There was nothing silent about the mouse.
“Did somebody call for me?” the big mouse boomed with a goofy smile on his oversized head.
“Shhhh,” Magenta scolded, “You want to broadcast our position to everyone in the sector.”
“Sorry,” Demo said, “I thought you signaled the coast was clear, Chief.”
Ziro answered with commanding authority, striving to bring focus back to his team. “Even so, we’re not out of the woods yet. Better safe than dead. Remember, we’re a team, so let’s stop arguing and start acting like one.”
“Yeah, yeah, we know. So, what’s the status report?” asked Streak, anxious to get on with it. Ziro tried to keep cool.
“From what I can tell, the last artifact is just up ahead. We’ve only got six minutes left, so let’s make them count. I don’t think I need to remind you of the importance of our success. If we don’t get there first it’s game over for everyone. Got it?” Everyone nodded. “Good, then let’s move out!”
The three soldiers followed their leader through the underbrush on constant lookout for any sign of trouble. The blue light grew brighter as they reached a small clearing in the woods. As the forest thinned, a single orb-shaped gem could be seen ahead. It hovered just above eye level spilling its curious light across the scene and elongating the shadows of various stones that were strewn about the ground.
“There it is,” Ziro said, “the last artifact.”
“Too easy,” Streak replied confidently, eyeing the floating stone with eager claws.
“Precisely what I was thinking,” a steady but unexpected voice replied from behind Streak’s shoulder. The sudden arrival of this phantom voice made Streak jump with fright. With the reflex of a jackrabbit he spun around and fired a blast before the intruder could be seen. His shot deflected back and sent Streak scurrying up a nearby tree to avoid being hit.
“Ah, there you are, NightShade?” Ziro replied, unshaken by the new arrival. A sleek, dark mouse appeared out of nowhere as his cloaking device deactivated. It was NightShade, the fifth and final member of the squad. He was a master of stealth and a student of war. NightShade bowed his head slightly in acknowledgement of his Chief.
“I hate it when he sneaks up like that,” Streak muttered, climbing awkwardly down from the tree. Magenta chuckled.
NightShade didn’t even crack a smile. He often failed to find the humor in situations like this. It wasn’t that he was unfriendly; it’s just that he preferred logic to laughter. He rarely spoke unless there was something important to say. Already he had analyzed the facts of their circumstance and had come up with more than a few concerns of his own. It was time to speak his mind.
“Pardon the disruption, but I fail to see the logic in the placement of this final artifact. Why would the enemy leave it out in the open like this? Without protection?”
“I agree,” Magenta said. “Something doesn’t feel right.”
“Ah, you guys worry too much,” Streak said, still trying to regain his confidence after the embarrassing tree incident. “We don’t have time to overthink this. I can be there and back in no time. Watch!”
Without orders, the overzealous Streak zipped out into the open, anxious to redeem himself. Streak was nearly within grasp of the stone before Ziro had time to call out a warning.
“Streak, wait! It could be a…”
All at once, a laser beam shot out from one of the stones on the ground and dissolved Streak right on the spot. There was nothing left of the reckless mouse. He had disappeared completely.
“...a trap,” Magenta said sadly.
“Oh grubs,” Demo griped. “I was having such a good day too.”
Ziro looked to NightShade as he usually did when he wanted advice. NightShade didn’t’ notice, he was too busy analyzing the situation and typing on his wrist computer. A sound wave danced across the backlit screen.
“Interesting. I’m detecting a high level of ultrasonic waves coming from the area. It seems to be centered on those stones,” Nightshade observed aloud.
“Which means what exactly?” Ziro asked.
“It means those are sentry stones, and they are watching our movements.”
“That’s creepy,” Demo said. “Well, unless any of you knows how ta make yourself invisible, I suggest we blow the things up.”
“Why does everything revolve around blowing stuff up, for you?” Magenta asked, shaking her head.
“I dunno, what else am I supposed to do with all these explosives.”
“Nobody is going to blow anything up. The artifact is too close, we might damage it,” Ziro explained.
“Oh, right.” Demo groaned with more than a hint of disappointment in his voice.
“Actually,” NightShade announced, rather unexpectedly, “I think Demo may be onto something!”
“I am?” Demo said, looking as puzzled as the other two.
“Yes, we need to make ourselves invisible.”
“Of course,” said Magenta, “Your cloaking device.”
“I can’t move when I’m cloaked, and even if I could, I’d still be detectable by the ultrasonic waves.”
“So…how are we going to do it, then?” Magenta asked
“Uh…how exactly are we going to do that?” Magenta asked.
“Science,” NightShade stated. He pressed a few buttons on his wrist communicator and explained in more detail. “By loading the ultrasonic waves into our sonic blasters we can reverse the signal which should allow us to walk right up to the artifact unnoticed.”
NightShade held up his weapon and took aim at the stones. He glanced down at the screen on his wrist and monitored the pattern of the wavelengths. His timing would have to be perfect in order to cancel the signal. When he sensed the time was right, he pressed his trigger. Nothing happened.
“That’s it?” Demo asked, clearly disappointed there hadn’t been a big blast.
NightShade kept his focus and checked the readout on his wrist communicator. The waves had flat-lined.
“All clear,” NightShade stated.
“Well then, I suppose all that’s left to do is for one of us to walk out there and get the stone,” Ziro noted.
They all glanced to the place where their comrade, Streak, had been incinerated only moments earlier. If NightShade’s theory was wrong, stepping out into the open meant the same fate awaited them as well.
“I’ll go,” Ziro decided, removing his backpack and retrieving a metal cylinder marked with their squad logo they had brought to contain the artifact. He checked his wrist communicator once more; three minutes remained. If they wanted to survive this, they'd have to be quick.
“Be careful out there, Chief,” Magenta said.
Ziro nodded and stepped out into the open.
“Here goes nothing.” He murmured to himself.
Step by nervous step, Ziro inched his way across the dangerous clearing toward the hovering gem. Everything was working perfectly. Then, with only a few paw steps to go, their brilliant plan ended with a blast.
A fiery shot singed the ground between Ziro and his prize. His heart raced wildly at the near miss. Stange, Ziro thought to himself, the shot hadn’t come from the stones, it had come from behind.
“Step away from the artifact, or this time I promise I won’t miss,” said a cocky voice from the edge of the clearing. Ziro didn’t have to look, he knew exactly who it belonged to.
“Nitro,” Ziro scowled. There was a short commotion behind him as a squadron of four mice surrounded the three remaining members of the Genesis Squad at gunpoint.
“That’s right,” said a speckled mouse as he stepped out from the safety of the perimeter. His pinkish eyes glistened with childish delight at the situation. “You didn’t think you’d actually beat me to the artifact, did you? Now drop your weapon and back away from the artifact.”
Ziro did as he was told and tried to calm himself. Nitro loved to bristle Ziro’s fur every chance he got. Since the very first day of Academy, the two had gotten off on the wrong paw. Nitro was the captain of the Alpha Squad, the poster child for the MechMice Elite Guard. It seemed, no matter how hard Ziro and his team tried, the Alphas were always one step ahead.
“The gem is ours, Nitro. We beat you fair and square.”
“On the contrary, you led us right to it. The way I figure, why do all the hard work when you can get grunts to do it for you.” Nitro's squad laughed at the derogatory joke. He waltzed across the clearing, closing the gap between himself and Ziro until his nose was right in Ziro’s ear.
“A little advice, Grub,” Nitro muttered, “always watch your back.”
Ziro was unshaken. Inside, he knew Nitro was right but he didn’t want to admit it. He had been so focused on the target he had failed to even consider that they were being followed. It was a mistake he was already regretting.
Nitro stepped casually over to where the artifact hovered always keeping his blaster aimed steadily at Ziro’s chest. With his free paw, he took hold of the artifact. Ziro looked away, he couldn’t stand the sight of Nitro winning again.
“Face it Ziro, you’ll never be one of the Elites. You just don’t have what it takes,” Nitro said smugly. With his left paw now occupied with the artifact, Nitro was forced to lower his weapon for a moment as he fumbled for his own container. Ziro spotted his chance. "Want to bet," Ziro muttered through gritted teeth.
In a rush, Ziro lunged forward and pressed his paws square into Nitro's chest. Before Nitro could react, Ziro's palm thrusters ignited hurling his stunned rival through the air a dozen tails or more. Nitro released his grip on the artifact before he hit the floor letting it sail freely through the air to the far edge of the clearing.
“Nightshade…now!” Ziro shouted as Nitro reached for his weapon and scrambled to his feet. Nightshade dropped his blaster and disappeared behind his cloaking device once more. Immediately, the stone sentries re-activated and honed in on the two intruders. Shots fired wildly in every direction as Nitro and Ziro dodged the attacks in their retreat.
In the midst of the chaos, Demo dropped a detonator, sending both squads scattering for cover. Within seconds, a massive blast lit up the night sky and shook the forest, sending bits of rubble every which direction. Black smoke enveloped the clearing this time silencing the stone sentries for good.
Ziro activated his blaster and stepped into the heart of the smoke curtain in a frantic search for the artifact. It couldn’t have gone far, he thought to himself. The lure of a blue glow captured his eye and he scurried through the hazy clearing to where the artifact lay waiting. This time there would be no stopping him.
Ziro took hold of the prize and celebrated inwardly. He couldn't wait to see the look on Nitro's face when he returned to headquarters with the win. At last, their squad would get the recognition they deserved. He smiled to himself and retrieved his squad's container once more, but as he raised the artifact he realized he’d been horribly mistaken. He wasn’t holding the artifact at all - it was an emergency beacon. He’d been duped again.
The sound of Nitro’s laughter caused Ziro to turn just in time to see the real artifact drop into his opponent’s container. Nitro targeted his blaster at Ziro's chest and without a word took the shot.
A painful blast of electricity surged through Ziro’s limbs. The last thing he heard before everything went black was Nitro’s voice mocking him.
“Better luck next life, loser.”
What has become of the the Genesis Squad? Is this truly the end for Streak and Ziro? Tune in next month for another exciting chapter!