And Hell Hath Frozen Over...

The snow was really beginning to fall by the time Jhonen and the rest of the team arrived at the outskirts of the Golden Peak mining colony. They had had to move in fast using a V-hawk to get ahead of the incoming storm. Which meant, sadly, that the team's dragons would have to catch up to them. And with the blizzard, it wouldn't be easy for them. However, Jhonen figured dragons wouldn't find a blizzard all that difficult to get through.

As the team made their way towards the settlement they soon found the large shield door was locked tight.

"We expected this." Jhonen said. He looked to his tac-link. "Dragoon authorization. Cross, Jhonen. Authorization code: Echo-one-whisky-two-zero..."

There was a negative buzz as the screen showed the code wasn't accepted.

"Fucking piece of shit..." Jhonen muttered to himself. He reentered the code, to no avail. It was at this point he wished Hilda was here. Though she was on another important assignment involving the Queen at the moment. Luckily, they had another tech expert on hand. "Syn... Care to look into this?"

The mech nodded, it was garbed in a long cloak and wrappings to protect its more vulnerable points from the cold. Plus it looked cool on him. Syn paused, a small digital clicking noise issued from him for a moment then he shook his head. "The whole colony has gone into lockdown due to the blizzard. The lockdown was initiated with a Dragoon code. One Ezra Singh..."

Jhonen nodded. "So Hammond and the others made it. Locked the place down..."

"Overriding the doors would be considered compromising security of the colony, I cannot override it." Syn added.

Jhonen rolled his eyes. "Of course, and our dragons are en route... so I guess that means we'll have to do this the old fashioned way..."

He looked to his bionic arm, he was using the Scorpion arm. With a flick of his wrist the arm extended a large harpoon and fired it up at the security wall. It sailed for a ways until it embedded itself in near the top of the wall.

"Alright people, take it slow. We don't..." The arm yanked Jhonen up suddenly, faster than he expected. He had to stop the winch in the arm from yanking him any further. He shook his head in embarrassment. "God dammit Hilda..." He had to adjust a knob on the arm and the winch began to pull him up more slowly.

He looked to Samuel and Crystal, who were already in the process of readying their own grappling hooks. Meanwhile, Syn, it seemed was far more content climbing the wall without one, digging his metal fingers into the solid concrete wall with his fingers. The sound of him climbing was a distinct metallic klinking noise that would've been loud had it not been for the wind drowning out everything. The whole time the team had been communicating via headsets.


Though Jhonen, Samuel, Syn, and Crystal weren't alone. They were just the first team, team Whiteout. Team Blackout consisted of Anna, Ink, and The Darks. They had been dropped off nearer to the mountain at an old spot where shipments of gold had been ferried out before the colony was fully established. It was part of an old mining trail that served as a back way into the colony.

The air was freezing and Anna still felt the cold bite at her through the winter survival gear. Ink was the one leading Blackout, so she followed him while flanked on either side by their new companions, The Darks. Anna had heard about what Jhonen had done for them. She knew that a part of him felt for Jack and his daughter. And they seemed pretty trustworthy. And from what she heard, they were as tough as they came.

"The trail should lead us to the colony, it's a winding path around the mountain to the site of the refinery and corporate offices." Anna said, consulting the map of the facility. They all pressed on towards the colony as the wind and snow picked up.


Once Jhonen and the others had reached the bottom of the other side of the wall they surveyed the open courtyard that served as the entrance and landing zone for visiting craft. The place was packed with snow-covered spinners and dropships. It was eerie, especially with the wind coming up off the top of the wall with a strange howling sound that echoed into the colony.

Jhonen and the others cleared the landing bay and started making their way into the town proper. It was a posh setting, full of fancy stores and restaurants. The corporations really tried their damnedest to curry favor with the mining guild here. The gold coming out of the mine was precious. Yet without people bustling about, it was just down right unsettling to walk through the snow covered streets.

"She will carry you, and we will live forever..."

The chanting started faintly, and already Jhonen was making sure dragon's bane rounds were loaded. He'd read the message Hammond had sent him, about the 'monster' with red eyes surrounded in black. That sounded like Lanstrom's handiwork, he'd encountered similar creatures in his travels. Her various attempts at perfecting humankind...

"Eyes up. We've been spotted." Jhonen said. He racked his rifle and took a defensive position near a parked spinner.


Anna and the rest had managed to find the back entrance to the settlement. Funny enough, it was just an old chain link fence and gate with an old padlock on it. Easy enough to get in. From there it as a simple matter to enter the processing area and corporate offices. However the buildings were on lockdown. Storm shutters were sealed up tight. No one was getting in.

"We are glorious... we are the wretches lifted up from squalor..."

The chanting began to fill the space...


Jhonen saw a man in nothing but a pair of black slacks. His hair and skin were pale white. He was walking barefoot in the snow, yet it didn't seem to bother him, and he continued to chant.

"We are Her children..." The man stopped in the middle of the street and looked to Jhonen. The voice changed to that of a deeply voiced woman. "Demon Hunter you come at last. Little do you know that here you are The Crimson Puppet. I have broken from The Queen's kingdom, from her inane game of twisted obsession... This is not the arena you and her have agreed to. This is MY domain..."

"I take it you're Lanstrom..." Jhonen said.

"Indeed. And you are Jhonen Cross. The Demon Hunter of Jericho. The Hunter of Crimson..." Lanstrom said through the proxy. "What you do here is a fool's errand... I am the future, and my business is not yours to meddle with... If you so wish, I could give you the location of your beloved daughter. I know where she is, where Lilith is keeping her... I have seen it, and I continue to see it..."

Jhonen froze. The air grew silent.

"That is your true purpose, after all..." Lanstrom said. "You are a father desperate to find your child. You have pushed yourself to the brink of mankind's limits, branded yourself with names that will forever haunt you to the grave, cursed yourself... All for a little girl you haven't even truly known... It is an admirable thing... and I could put an end to it, right now... Your search would be over, your sins finally rewarding..."

Jhonen didn't respond...

"All you need do is turn away. And I can finally put an end to your search..."

"How can I trust you?" Jhonen asked.

"My knowledge is born of my incredible intellect, and my knowledge of Lilith and you. I can predict your every move... I knew you'd come. I knew you'd be standing there. I even know that you kissed your beloved Noriko goodbye before returning to the wrecked ship you call home. I am all knowing..."

Jhonen smirked. "Then you know I won't fucking do it."

He raised his rifle, aimed it at the proxy's head, and squeezed the trigger. The proxy's head exploded into bloody white fragments as the dragon's bane round did its work.

In response, the snow around them shook as massive creatures with twisted forms and tentacles erupted from underneath it. They roared and started to descend upon the team.


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