Short Stories: Operation Frost: Frozen Empire Traitors
KLONDIKE, CP Army Headquarters – Welcome back to Short Stories! In the next chapter of Operation Frost, Lotus reveals their troubling past with the Frozen Strikers. Meanwhile, one Frozen Strikers member will turn the tide of the war, all with an appearance of Herbert that changes more than anybody knows. What will the Frozen Strikers member do, and what will Lotus reveal of their past?
“I missed when things were normal,” Alderam sighed, plotting himself down on a log moved next to a bonfire. “No war, no crazy people with magic superpowers, and no frozen island. Just the Club Penguin island and the life: enjoyable and vibrant.” Lotus nodded as they listened, dropping a pile of small logs as firewood in front of them. The fire crackled and danced in the soft air, the scent of cinnamon during the fall. The duo had escaped from Thermal and found themselves in a much nicer area.
The forest was colossal, cleared, and primal. Its canopy was contested by larch, maple, and rhododendron; the plants’ crowns allowed cascading lights to shimmer for scattered shrubs to grow. Quiet tree limbs hung from a couple of trees, and a medley of flowers, which grew all over the place, clashed with the otherwise dark green forest floor. During the day, the wildlife that inhabited the woods could hear a clamor of noises. An orchestra of mating calls, roars, and chirps were audible all day until moonrise.
However, the fluffy white snow that blanketed the whole island overran the lush green, except for the more searing domains like the Thermal or Hot Chocolate territories. Alderam softly shivered from the freezing temperatures, remembering that the island was frozen thanks to Herbert’s machine. It had to be destroyed if it was the key to stopping Herbert. “Herbert’s done one heck of a renovation with Mother Nature,” Lotus said after moments of silence with nothing but the crackling fire. “But there’s no way he’s pulling me back into his stupid team. I didn’t play well by his rules, either.” When the former Coffee Shop and Pizza Parlor waitress stated this, Alderam turned to face them. “What are you talking about?” He asked.
Lotus sighed. They moved closer to Alderam and placed their hand on top of his without knowing. Alderam didn’t pay much attention, anyway. “I used to work for Herbert as one of his best air force soldiers,” Lotus began, staring into the bonfire embers glowing in her hazelnut eyes. “I was already ahead of my kind and others, climbing the ranks weeks after being drafted. Hmph, no surprise my mama quit contactin’ me. I was given the Medal of Honor during Operation: Blackout, yet another foiled plan years ago during the war. Until then, I had realized my mistake of letting myself be controlled by evil, so I deserted just like that. Since then, I’ve been a target for other villains, but Sabertooth was my biggest one. He held grudges against me for sure.”
“Since then, I was hiding in this forest. I had a private laboratory and technology specially designed by me. You see this jetpack here? Thrusters were made using a buncha empty bottles of Hot Sauce, so that’s how you know I made it.” Lotus pointed behind them to their jetpack, sitting next to a tree. It had a mysterious black and white emblem, a spiral with streaks at the top instead of the traditional shape it would have. Above, a label with bold letters read “CHIEF MASTER SGT. LOTUS” on it. This uncovered more concerning how much background the sky fighter had. Alderam finally noticed Lotus’s hand resting on top of his, intertwining their fingers. “You understand it’s essential for us to stick together since we’re at the center of a battlefield, correct?” Alderam asked Lotus, who nodded their head in response.
“Yeah yeah, I gotcha. I’m not the one to make a jester outta myself because of an ego the size of Sabertooth. Still a piece of trash.” They sighed. For some reason, they had some grievance against Sabertooth. Nobody could tell why but a burning hatred for the brute was undoubtedly present. But then, they heard a noise erupt deep inside of the forest. It couldn’t have come from the forest at all. But it sounded like a boom. However, a glow could be seen crossing the towering trees. The orange, yellow, and red swirls got closer, more prominent than the bonfire’s colors. Alderam and Lotus assumed it was Herbert performing deforestation. But it wasn’t. The sound of gunfire broke out alongside the explosions, the sounds of tanks cruising in as the earth shook.
From its sounds, it seemed like the Resistance was about to find themselves in yet another battle with one of the Frozen Strikers members. But how were the two able to help if they were both forbidden from enrolling in any form of resistance? Regardless, they decided to check out what was happening to see a daring sight. Another Frozen Strikers member, just as they predicted. It was just like the attack on the embassy all over again, but this time on open land throughout the Town. What was once a shelter for many during the conflicts was now an all-out struggle to stay alive and evacuate the island on the Migrator if necessary. The ground was littered with motor oil as it oozed out of the lifeless bodies of Herbert’s robot soldiers, breaking into multiple pieces as the war raged.
The kind of toll that this was causing on humanity and everything around them was horrendous and traumatizing. Some soldiers had already succumbed to extreme fear, wholly paralyzed from feeling any emotion other than fear, incoherently trembling. Herbert’s robot squads were finding a fortune of victory in this intense battle in what seemed to be against the Resistance militia that was guarding the town after the war began. But now, they were entirely bombarded by the forces taking over the Town. And the person who stood within all of the destruction was the explosives expert, who decided to come in with a boom: Serenity.
Perhaps she was the one leading the invasion of the Town. So Alderam decided to charge towards her to find out. Some Resistance soldiers felt great relief when they noticed the Card-Jitsu warrior speeding through the town, across flames and destruction, seeking the villain. Lotus flew through the air and swooped down to pick up Alderam as the jetpack thrusters accelerated. Explosions broke out in every direction, forcing the duo to begin dodging flying bullets and debris as they came. However, they noticed another figure standing atop a hill, overviewing the invasion. The silhouette looked familiar. It was shaped like a polar bear, menacingly laughing as he watched his forces conquer the Town.
It was Herbert!
Out of all people who were expected to be present at the Town’s invasion, Herbert had come down to view the destruction. His motive for coming down to this battle when he should’ve been paying attention to his doomsday weapon was unknown. But Lotus’s thoughts were interrupted as they noticed a light speeding down the road from behind into the battlefield. The movement was too quick for them to spot who it was, but it sounded like a motorcycle. As the vehicle wailed down the road, two passengers occupied the motorcycle as they drove through the Town. These occupants could be identified to be Shadow and Zion, soon-to-be-wedded partners now working together to fight in brutal combat. The hacker with a drone and a swordmaster with a katana suddenly found themselves approaching one of the Ucopatrons. They leaped off the motorcycle as it swerved aside, allowing it to crash into the robot and explode.
The couple was in real action, using their weapons to take down Herbert’s never-ending army. “This might be a bad time to say it,” Shadow said, rapidly typing lines of code on a holographic keyboard displayed by his drone as it began emitting a ray of light that shone on a horde of robots as its target for an electromagnetic pulse. “But I was gonna propose to you, but Frosty the Big, Fat Polar Bear had other plans!” Shadow pressed the “Enter” button on the keyboard, initiating the pulse attack on the robot forces, shutting them down. “B-but why didn’t you do it earlier?” Zion responded, spinning in a circle as he swung his katana, slashing robots in half. “Might as well put a ring on it now, given Herbert just loves trashing public property and ruining people’s marriages.” Zion continued as he hacked and slashed through the robot soldiers. But with the Frozen Strikers member present, who was there to confront her?
Lotus landed right behind Serenity and struck her from behind with a leg sweep. “Game over, Junkrat wannabe,” Alderam said, walking directly upon the explosives enthusiast. “We know too damn well you’re a part of the Frozen Strikers, and we’re taking you down!” Suddenly, Serenity pushed Alderam away. “Crikey, where’d you come from? I’m not with the stupid bear’s team. Not anymore,” she said, brushing herself off. Alderam and Lotus stood confused until a deep voice sounded behind them. “I see how it is,” it spoke. The wicked mastermind behind Operation Frost stood behind them. Herbert.
Alderam’s expression turned to anger, and so did Lotus’s. Serenity stepped in front of them and faced Herbert.
“What do you see? The person you put into fighting for your team against their will? Telling me, you’ll kill me if I refused? Go stuff yourself for all that you’ve done!” Herbert chuckled in response and stared dead at the trio. “So not one but two of my best members proceed to betray me? How pathetic, which also includes you, little girl.” The polar bear laughed and softly gasped, pointing at Lotus. Two former members of the Frozen Strikers were now turning their backs to fight for the Resistance. Lotus seemed agitated by Herbert’s presence.
“You have no idea what your best mate, that brute Sabertooth who dares come alive for round two with me, did to me. Months of torture. But enough is enough!” They snapped at Herbert. Alderam and Serenity stepped back as they approached Herbert.
“You took away something from me, which was a strength for the army, and now I’ve taken something of yours: your parents.”
The world around Lotus went dead silent hearing those words. Their parents. Taken? What Herbert said truly crossed a line now. A crime against humanity as they saw it. Now they fumed with rage.
“You could’ve avoided this if you hadn’t fled the Frozen Strikers with the Shadow Sapphire. Give it to me!” Herbert roared, reaching his hand out towards Lotus’s necklace, an oval-shaped sapphire the color of lavender, just like their messy hair.
A diamond border surrounded it as the gem began shining. Just as Herbert reached out to it, a mysterious force suddenly knocked him back. A dark aura grew around Lotus as the gem suddenly broke out from the necklace and began floating in the air. “Lotus, tell me where you got that sapphire!” Alderam demanded. “Shut up!” Lotus replied in anger. The sapphire suddenly disappeared as Lotus was nothing but a silhouette.
But the transformation grew bigger. A pair of bat-like wings extended from behind them, a bony shape that exposed itself. Suddenly, Lotus burst into flames, but the fire didn’t hurt them. Lotus was beyond angered with Herbert’s presence. “You..” they growled. “…Took everything I had. All that I loved, all that I had left, destroyed thanks to your pity parade of a war you decided to start. Bullying smaller powers around the globe to make something out of yourself other than a doormat.” Herbert slowly stepped back as he saw Lotus turning into some creature. Were they an angel or a demon? “W-who are you, Lotus?” The evil mastermind was only able to question their identity. “I’m no longer the mistreated, pushed-to-the-side doormat known as Lotus. Your ego manipulated me into thinking I had to succumb to your tyranny. Turns out I don’t, because I…” Lotus opened their eyes, blank like when Alderam had gone through the Corrupted transformation. But now, they were Herbert’s nightmare.
Zay is presently working at CP Army Headquarters as a Reporter/Columnist. They are the author of the Short Stories column and an active member of the community. They have experience with the media in both CPAH and CPAO respectively. In their free time, they actively make Lo-Fi music with new releases every couple of months. They’re also a Sabertooth hate enjoyer.