(Scene: COTS Conference Room)

*The COTSers were sitting around the conference table, waiting for Dark Nexus and Deamon to show up so the early morning meeting could begin. The master of duct tape, Magni, the heavy weapons expert, Thunder, the mage, Kebs, the genius, Whyte, the coward, Bergling and the idiots, the Speds, were all getting quite annoyed at the delay.*

Magni: I don't know why we even have these regular meetings anymore, things have been really quiet in Irvine since Brood War was released.

Thunder: Well, it's better that we keep it up, in case something does happen. At least that's what DN is saying.

Magni: I suppose that makes sense, but the least he could do is let us sleep in!

*Dark Nexus and Deamon entered the conference room and sat down.*

Dark Nexus: Something is happening in Irvine. Since Deamon is the one who first noticed and knows more about it than I do, I'll let him fill you all in.

Deamon: CWAL has become incredibly active. We're not sure why, but they're moving all over the city in small groups. We've also picked up some activity at Blizzard. Yet, there is no indication that the two events are related since CWAL and Blizzard have yet to go near each other. Basically, we know something is going on, but we have no idea what it is.

*Bergling, COTS' resident failed genetics experiment, fodder and all-round wimp tried to bury himself into the back of his chair, while managing to squeak out a response.*

Bergling: So what does this mean, exactly?

Dark Nexus: It means that we have to figure out what is going on. If all of CWAL has mobilized, it has to be something big. Whyte, think you could tap into surveillance systems in Irvine to figure out what's going on?

Whyte: No problem, I'll get right on it.

Dark Nexus: Okay, as for the rest of us, be ready to move out at a moment's notice.

*The rest of COTS nodded understanding as they got up to leave. They all headed to get some rest, with the exception of Whyte. COTS' chief engineer headed deeper and deeper into the undersea complex, until reaching his lab and workshop. He entered the well-stocked work area and sat down at a computer terminal. He activated the satellite up-link to the internet and began his job of hacking into Irvine's surveillance systems. This was going to be a breeze.*

(1 hour later)

*Dark Nexus was in his office, going through reports from various COTS cells around the continent. Nothing exciting so far. Hunt Valley had calmed down, and Redmond was surprisingly quiet. It was boring work, but it was the sort of thing that had to be done and since he was the head of the international and secretive gamers watch dog group, he was the one who had to do it. He was just about to take a break and have a cup of coffee when the intercom went off. Dark Nexus pressed the receive button. In the background he could hear sounds of destruction and laughter.*

Whyte: Uh, DN, we have a bit of a problem. Hey! Get away from that! It's fragile! You'd better all get down here NOW, and come armed. I thought I told you to leave that alone!

*The sound of something big and probably expensive breaking could be heard over the intercom.*

Whyte: Oh, you're going to pay for that! DN, hurry.

*Dark Nexus, sensing the urgency in Whyte's voice, rushed out of the office, grabbing his shotgun on the way out into the common area. The Speds were chasing Bergling around trying to torch him with their flame throwers for entertainment, Thunder was cleaning one of his many assault weapons, Kebs was reading one of her spellbooks to expand her spell base, Magni was playing with a roll of duct tape, and Deamon was watching TV. As soon as Dark Nexus came through the door, Kebs dropped the book, knowing what he was feeling due to the empathic link the two shared.*

Kebs: Whatever Whyte found has you worried.

Dark Nexus: That's just it, I think something found us. Whyte's in trouble, and it might be serious. We've got to get down there as soon as we can.

*Thunder loaded his chain gun. Screams can be heard in the background as the Speds finally caught Bergling and burnt him to a crisp.*

Thunder: Let's rock.

*They all head towards the stairs, making a quick stop at the bathroom door to grab the cowering Bergling.*

(Whyte's Lab)

*Demons are everywhere. They're jumping up and down on delicate equipment, pushing over shelf units covered in spare parts. A number of them have Whyte cornered.*

Whyte: -=Where are they? They'd better get here soon. I've got to buy myself some time.=-

*Whyte looked around him. His eyes came to rest on a shelf to his right. He grabbed the two wires, the heavy-duty battery, the plastic gripped pliers, and the electrical tape sitting on it.*

Whyte(muttering under his breath): This had better work.

*He quickly wrapped the wires around the ends of the pliers, attaching one wire to the end of the battery. He then attached the end of the other wire loosely to the opposite node on the battery, covering it with electrical tape. He put the battery between the handles of the pliers and squeezed, thereby completing the circuit. The demon that had been advancing on him jumped and let out a yelp of pain as electricity lanced out from the makeshift tazer.*

Whyte: HA! Don't like that, do you! Not so cocky now, are you! Back! Back I say!

*Whyte proceeded to jab at the lesser demons surrounding him. They all backed off, giving him some breathing room. Their defenseless prey wasn't so defenseless any more.*

Whyte: Yeah, you'd better back off! Gonna let me leave?

*Whyte was amazed as the ranks of demons parted.*

Whyte: Ha! Good idea! Now, I'm just going to leave now.....

*Whyte turned around to escape out of the group of demons, just to find himself staring into the face of another demon. This one was a bit bigger though. The demon started moving towards Whyte, who did the only thing he could think of and zapped it. The electricity didn't even slow this demon down though.*

Whyte: Eep. I knew this was too good to be true.

*The greater demon swatted the tazer out of Whyte's hand. He then grabbed Whyte and held him up, face to face. Whyte waved a hand back and forth in front of his face.*

Whyte: Ever hear of a breath mint buddy?

*The demon snarled and brought his other hand up for the crushing blow.*

Whyte: Woah, didn't mean to insult you big guy, why don't we settle this like civilized people?

*The demon roared and wound up to take Whyte's head off.*

Whyte: I'll take that as a resounding 'no'.

*Whyte closed his eyes and winced, expecting to experience the feeling of having his head removed from his body. Everything slowed down for Whyte. In the next few moments, he heard a deafening explosion. He opened his eyes just in time to see the demon's head disappear in a haze of flesh and blood. The demon's body went limp, and as Whyte fell to the floor, he turned to see Thunder standing in the haze of the explosion, smoking chain gun in hand.*

Thunder: Hail to the king, baby.

Whyte: About time you guys got here! You sure cut that pretty close.

Dark Nexus: What, you had at least another second and a half. Lot's of time. Duck.

Whyte: Duck? Oh! Duck!

*Whyte ducks as a demon jumps through where his head was a moment before. Dark Nexus unloads an explosive round into the demon, which promptly spreads itself out over a large area.*

Thunder: DN, here come some more of them! These ones are bigger too!

Dark Nexus: Okay, let's take them out!

*A group of lesser demons and a greater demon came around the corner. Thunder opened fire on the greater demon, but this time the bullets bounced harmlessly off it's hide.*

Thunder: This one's got thicker scales, I can't get any penetration!

Deamon: I'll handle this one while Thunder takes the smaller ones. You guys get into that room and try and find out where they're coming from.

*Deamon used the abilities of the doppleganger flenser he possessed, as his arms slowly stretched out, forming long, sharp blades, very much like the T-1000 in Terminator 2. When the blades had fully formed, Deamon charged at the monstrosity. Deamon's new blades smashed against the heavy skin of the demon. It reached out to grab Deamon, but he ducked in between the lumbering demon's legs. Since this breed of demon wasn't particularly intelligent, it wasn't quite sure where Deamon had gone. During it's confusion, Deamon jumped on it's back and thrust his blades through the demon's skull. Being slow to die, the demon began to thrash around, trying to get at this thing on it's back. Deamon jumped off and stood by to watch it die.

*Thunder grinned as the smaller demons started approaching him. He motioned at them with his hand.*

Thunder: Come get some.

*Thunder opened fire, quickly shredding the unarmored demons. Meanwhile, back inside the main workshop the demons were running amok.*

Whyte: I know exactly where they're coming from. They're coming out of the computers, off the internet. If we can shut down the connection, they'll stop coming.

Dark Nexus: Okay, we've got to get the computer terminal. The sooner, the better.

Speds: Dude......

Kebs: DN, turn around.

*Dark Nexus turned around and began pumping explosive shotgun rounds into the approaching line of demons. Magni tossed a duct tape grenade between two greater demons. The grenade exploded, effectively taping the demons together. The Speds ran in and unleashed their massive flame-throwers on a group of lesser demons, frying them to a crisp. Bergling did what he always does and distracted another group of demons by running in a tight circle, waving his hands in the air and screaming at the top of his lungs. Every demon within earshot quickly converged on the fodder to stop his high-pitched squeal. Soon, all that was left of Bergling was a stain on the ground.*

*Kebs and Whyte were making their way towards the computer terminal during the distraction Bergling provided.*

Whyte: They must be finished with Bergling, because here they come!

Kebs: You keep going, I'll hold them off.

*Kebs pulled out her shotgun, pointed it at the demon approaching her, and pulled the trigger.*


Kebs: -=I forgot ammo!=-

*Thinking quickly, she grabbed the gun by the barrel and used it like a golf club, hitting the small demon square between the eyes, crushing it's skull.*

Kebs: Wow, that worked well. Uh-oh.

*Approaching Kebs now was a larger group of demons. She reached into a pouch on her belt and spoke a few words of an ancient and powerful language. In one swift motion she withdrew her hand from the pouch and covered the approaching group of demons with a fine dust. The demons began screaming like banshees and disappeared in a white swirl of magical power. When the magical mist cleared the smaller demons were all gone. In their place was a very large, very mean, very powerful demon.*

Kebs: Big uh-oh. I think that spell backfired on me.

*Across the room, Dark Nexus could feel Kebs' anxiousness as she searched her mind for a spell she could use against this giant hellspawn.*

Dark Nexus: Kebs, need a hand?

Kebs: No, I can handle it! I've got just the spell!

*Before she could finish casting it, however, the demon grabbed her. Because of the break in her concentration, the spell had but a fraction of the power it should have. The massive demon screamed in pain as Kebs was surrounded by a pure white light, but instead of being completely disintegrated like it would have been had she kept her concentration, it's hand was merely burnt. Across the room, Dark Nexus felt panic welling up in Kebs as she didn't have the time or energy to attempt casting the spell again.*

Dark Nexus: KEBS!

*Kebs did the only logical thing. She turned and ran. The demon shook off the pain and chased after her. Dark Nexus turned away from the battle he was waging and began to run towards Kebs and the demon.*

Dark Nexus: Kebs! Faster! It's gaining!

*Knowing that the demon would reach Kebs long before he did, Dark Nexus stopped at the experimental weapons rack he was conveniently running past. He grabbed the one that was labeled 'Anti-Armor Plasma Rifle' and took aim.*

Dark Nexus: Go back to whatever hell you came from, demon.

*The next few moments seemed like an eternity to Dark Nexus, and what he saw in them forever burned into his memory. He pulled the trigger just as the demon reached the fleeing Kebs, the kick of the weapon knocking him to the floor, and the heat of the plasma scorching his skin. He dropped the smoking gun and managed to get to his feet. As soon as he was on his feet again, he began to run towards Kebs. Just as he did, he felt a massive pain wash over him. He staggered forward, then fell to the ground.*

Dark Nexus: -=I must be dying.=-

*Then it dawned on him. His burns weren't that bad - he wasn't the one dying. He looked up and saw Kebs staring at the claw sticking out of her chest with an expression of awe. She looked down at her hands, now covered with her own blood, then looked back up, towards Dark Nexus, her mouth hanging open.*

*Ignoring the pain that now throbbed throughout his body, Dark Nexus managed to get up and stagger to where Kebs was dying, just in time to catch her in his arms as she slowly slid off the claw of the now-dead demon. He held her tight, as tight as he could, in a vain attempt to stop the blood loss from her wound. The pain quickly became more than even Dark Nexus could handle. Then, just as the pain was at it's worst, nothing. The pain left Dark Nexus just as quickly as it had come.*

*Dark Nexus looked down and saw a pair of lifeless eyes staring back at him. He reached down and gently closed them, then closed his own and lowered his head in sorrow. He quickly searched his mind, in hopes of finding her consciousness, like with her first near-death experience that had created their empathic link. After a moment, he knew that there had been no escape for her this time, her mind had died with her body. She was truly dead. Dark Nexus sat there gently holding her limp body in his arms, and though the battle raged on around them, not a single demon dared approach them.*


*A number of CWALers are sitting around after a long night of chasing demons around Irvine, trying to figure out why exactly the demon's weren't under Blizzard's control, and where Blizzard had been trying to get them from. They had made very little progress in this endeavour.*

Pez: For all we know, this could be courtesy of Disney!

*One of the other CWALers quickly jumped up. His head quickly darted back and forth, his eyes searching for any sign of anything that was out of place.*

Paranoid: That's it! It's all a government conspiracy!

*Arcturus was leaning up against the wall, polishing his paintball gun.*

Arcturus: But Pez said Disneyland.

Paranoid: That's the beauty of it! Disneyland is the perfect front! Who would suspect Disney of that?

*The angel in the trenchcoat laughed as he answered.*

Seraph: Everyone!

*CWAL's REAL government expert, the successful experiment by US scientists in genetic engineering, Fearless, chimed in.*

Fearless: It's not a government conspiracy, this isn't their style. So, we aren't any farther than we were 2 hours ago.

*Just as Paranoid CWALer was about to respond to Fearless, Arcturus and Pez tackled him and gagged him. During this scuffle, the last CWALer in the room, who appeared to be deep in thought snapped to attention.*

Grey: Wait, say that again.

Fearless: We aren't any farther than we were 2 hours ago?

Grey: No, the other thing you said.

Fearless : That it isn't the government's style.

Grey: Exactly. What other demon's have we dealt with.....

Pez: Well, there were those lawyers....

Grey: .....that would be able to pull this off?

*The CWALers looked around at each other. Finally, they looked at Grey and shruged.*

Grey: Sephroth.

Fearless: It definitely IS Sephroth's style.

Seraph: So, Sephroth is controlling these demons.

Arcturus: Not completely, I don't think. They're too disorganized. If Sephroth was in control, we would have been attacked by an organized force by now.

Pez: Okay, now we know they're probably lose because of Sephroth, and they're running around the internet. But where did they come from originally? Maybe if we knew that we would have an easier time getting rid of them.

Grey: I think I know.

*By this time Paranoid CWALer had managed to get the gag out of his mouth.*

Paranoid: He knows to much! He's a spy I tell you! A spy sent by Blizzard to mislead us!

*This time Fearless and Seraph tended to him. They grabed him by the arms, draged him to the door, and threw him out.*

Paranoid(distant): It's all a conspiracy I tell you!

*As the sounds of Paranoid CWALer landing in a pile of garbage cans was heard, Grey walked to the nearest computer and sat down. He clicked on the browser icon and typed in www.blizzard.com. Once on the Blizzard web page, he opened the Diablo II page. He then clicked on the Legends link, then the "Anatomy of a Thorned Hulk" link.*

Grey: I thought I recognized one of those demons we fought earlier. That's because it's from Diablo II.

Pez: Oh yeah, I remember that one. It killed Jolt a few times.

Arcturus: So, Blizzard tried to take demons out of Diablo II, but Sephroth messed that up on them.

*The rest of the CWALers present nodded their heads in agreement. Then there was a moment of silence as this revelation sunk in. Pez was the first to voice his thoughts."

Pez: Now how does that help us?

(COTS HQ, the night after the battle)

*Loose wires dangled everywhere. Equipment was smashed, experiments ruined. Magni surveyed the damage. The battle had been won, but at a cost. Whyte's lab was completely totaled. After the battle, Deamon had mysteriously disappeared, Magni could only assume that he would be back soon enough, and of course, Kebs had been killed. They had given Kebs a quick and simple burial at sea, and sealed up her room. Dark Nexus had insisted that it be preserved as-is.*

*Dark Nexus. When the battle had finished, they had found Dark Nexus clinging to Kebs' body protectively. Normally, you couldn't tell what Dark Nexus was feeling, he never let his emotions show on the surface. But this time, any fool could tell that he blamed himself for her death. After the funeral, Dark Nexus had told Magni to take command until he returned. Upon further questioning, Dark Nexus said that he didn't know when he would be back, if ever. They had urged him to stay, but he responded that he couldn't, not after what had happened and then he left.*

*Thunder approached Magni from behind.*

Thunder: So, Magni, you're in charge now. What's the first order of business?

Magni: Huh? Oh, yeah. I think we should get this place repaired first. Also, after what we just went through, I think we should bring in a few redshirts. We could use a few more troops.

Thunder: Good idea, I'll go get on that.

*Thunder walked out of the ruined lab. Magni stood there for a few moments, just taking in the scope of the damage. He then turned around, walked to the door, turned out the emergency lighting and left.*