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RP XSDF Roleplay Thread: Vanguard of Forseti

Discussion in 'X-COM Role Playing' started by ZombieSplitter53, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. ZombieSplitter53

    ZombieSplitter53 Game Master Staff Member

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    ZombieSplitter53, MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Discussions of the Artificial Kind, Part 2”

    High Orbit around Forseti (April 29th, 2044)
    The Einherjar (1630 Hours, A.S.T.)
    Floor 13: Soldier Bar


    Alice cracked her knuckles and resumed her typing, the computer before her displaying half a dozen screens at once, most showing diagnostic data on the Fenrirs. “Upgrades are in, boys. But you’re gonna need to get them one at a time. Enjoy your little meals…” She leaned back and took a drink of some cranberry juice, alcohol being pointless unless she wanted to get drunk, and she didn’t feel up to it at the moment.

    Ezra walked into the bar, his other robotic friend next to him, the two actually getting a chance for a small get together. “Well, we can just grab a few drinks and just hang around, play darts, talk about how I am better than you, you know, all the good stuff.” He said to Hermes, his small grin not failing him.

    “I am fairly certain the drinks would be ineffectual for both of us,” Hermes analyzed, “but I’m willing to try, regardless. I don’t believe I’ve ever sampled an alcoholic drink, at least not aboard the Einherjar.”

    Ezra raised an eyebrow. “Really? Well, you’ve been missing out, there are a lot of great combos. Couldn’t you just simulate being drunk though? I know I made that for myself a couple years back after I got tired of being left out. Not necessary, but hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and slightly intoxicated.” He found them spots at the bar counter, waving the bartender and just ordering a gin and tonic.

    Hermes shook his head. “I cannot program in modifications to myself like you seem to be able to. Perhaps that is unusual, but I see nothing wrong with it. Being able to change oneself on whims seems a bit too… frivolous.”

    Alice sighed as she watched the uploads go through. She slowly closed the computer and rose from her seat. Planning to go back to her room, she noted the two other androids and shrugged. Stepping over, she bowed her head a bit. “Gentlemen. Do you mind if I join you?”

    Ezra glanced up at Alice for a few moments, his gaze shifting to Hermes. “I don’t mind.” He replied with a shrug,

    Hermes nodded, though not too deeply as to avoid unbalancing his helmet - even if it didn’t weigh all that much. “That would be acceptable… or fine, rather.”

    Alice grabbed a chair and sat at the end. “I’m… actually happy I caught you two together. There, um… there’s something I wanted to talk to you about.”

    “Oh?” Ezra said, smiling to the bartender as he placed down his drink, the android taking a small sip. “And that would happen to be?”

    “It’s about…” Alice pushed a strand of hair out of her eyes, suddenly wishing she had something alcoholic after all. “It’s about how my… little secret was exposed. Now everyone knows I’m android number three. And that… just makes me remember that you, Hermes, have been known as an android the whole time we’ve been here, and you, Erza, were found out right away… while I…”

    Hermes shook his head. “I see no fault in what you did, not morally at least. You simply wanted to be treated like everyone else, and that is not unusual.”

    “But there is fault,” Alice insisted. “How can there not be? After Erza was… thrown in the brig, I wanted to come forward. I wanted to say, ‘See? I’m an android too!’, and maybe take so heat off you. But I… I couldn’t. I feel like I… abandoned you two for the sake of… getting smiles and handshakes. Almost like I was running from who I was. Whether you… whether you feel it needed or not, I owe you two an apology.”

    “Don’t owe me shit.” Ezra said rather bluntly, putting his cheek in his hand. “Sorry, but in that situation stepping forward was the least rational thing you could have done, especially with what was happening with command. Who knows what would have happened to you. Better the way things are now.”

    “Yeah.” Alice took a sip from her drink. “I’m not going to hide who I am anymore. But I’d be lying if I didn’t miss being incognito a little bit. I’m tired of people giving me an eyebrow whenever they see me drink something, since… you know, I don’t need it and all, and they know that now. I just want to be treated like a human, or at the very least, like any biological non-human.”

    Hermes smirked slightly. “I suppose I’m lucky in that regard.” He held up an arm, showing off the metallic feathers coming off the top of the upper half of the limb. “I have no chance of passing off as a normal human, so it forces me to accept the odd stares. And some get used to it, over time, such as my roommates or Nick.”

    “Yeah… Nick’s been the one I can turn to the most.” Alice stared at Hermes’ arm for a moment, then looked him up and down. “So… any luck getting off your armor yet?”

    The forgetful android shook his head. “No, not through conventional means. Engineering can’t really spare much time anyway. My memories might reveal something, but I’m not too hopeful about that.”

    “Have you ever considered… forcing them off, then just fixing them after?” Alice shrugged. “It can’t be comfortable, always having to wear that stuff.”

    “I doubt cutting it off, even with suitable equipment, wouldn’t be worth the risks,” Hermes replied. “And it would be a process that would not only occupy time engineers would be doing other things with, but it would also put me out of commission for awhile. I can’t take that risk when I could be needed at any point.”

    “Besides, I say the suit of armor looks pretty dapper on you. Really sells the whole, ‘Don’t mess with me, I’m a Greek warrior’ persona you got.” Ezra quipped, secretly wondering what it would take to get a ‘Kick Me’ sign put on the back of the other male android.

    Alice chuckled, looking Hermes up and down again. “I can’t argue with that. You do look pretty cool. I can imagine our enemies stop short whenever they see you. Erza is stuck looking human, and even if I was out there, I don’t really look the fighting type. You, my good sir, win the ‘badass look’ award.”

    Hermes chuckled. “For all that’s worth. But I appreciate the compliment, regardless.”

    Alice smiled at Erza. “And what about you. I’ve heard rumors of a certain… romantic interest. And you don’t have to plug her in!” Her smile faded a bit. “Wow… that… did not come out right…”

    He raised an eyebrow and finish his drink all at once. “No point in being embarrassed at that fact. Yes, I have found someone.” Ezra leaned forward a bit. “What, you got a secret plug you showing to your roommate or something?”

    “No!” Alice slapped him on the chest. “I hope you show a little more tact with this lady friend of yours. Or is she just as blunt as you are?”

    “Depends on situation and how wasted she is.” He admitted with a smile and a shrug. “Besides… rumors fly around you and that guy. Seems you two can never stay out of trouble.” Ezra’s tone made it hard to dictate whether he had serious concern or he was making another joke at her.

    “Around… what guy?” Alice looked away, as though the jukebox playing some 30s pop song was suddenly super interesting. “I… hope you aren’t talking about the teenager I work with who is already interested in someone else. Because… that would be awkward.”

    “Geez, you are a worse liar than Elicia is.” Ezra noted, finding the music not to his particular taste.

    Alice rolled her eyes, and smiled at Hermes, desperate wanting, needing, to take the attention of of herself. “So anyone catch you eye. I… don’t mean to sound ignorant, but do you still have the same urges and desires Erza and I have… and refuse to take off?”

    “I don’t follow what you mean,” Hermes responded. “To be free and unconfined by military gear? I suppose, but there are more important priorities, and my frame can bear the weight.”
     
  2. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    ZombieSplitter53, MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Discussions of the Artificial Kind, Part 3”

    Alice chuckled. “N-no. I mean… how do I put this delicately.” She thought quickly, afraid of what Erza would say if she didn’t speak fast. “Do you have the same physical… desires. You know… for companionship with… a significant other?”

    Hermes shook his head. “I did once, but not at this moment.”

    “You did… once…” Alice watched him as if expecting more details. “Was this… recent?”

    “If you count a few months ago,” Hermes said evasively. “I’d rather not talk about it.”

    “Wait, does that mean you’ve gotten some of your memories back?” Alice smiled, but quickly frowned again. “I… I’m guessing they weren’t exactly happy.” Her shoulders slumped. “Though considering the condition you were found in…”

    “I don’t want to burden you with the details.” Hermes shook his head. “Let’s just… talk about something else.”

    “How about that space weather, huh?” Ezra asked, shaking his head, wanting to kick his own ass for that one. “You know, there has been something I wanted to bring up with you two.”

    “And that is?” Hermes inquired.

    “What the fuck we are going to do about our lack of rights on this ship, and other places.” Ezra stated seriously. “I mean… where else are you going to find three of the best examples of living machinery? And three in one place. I say we should stop having to deal with the glances and the whispers and finally cement androids deserve the same as everyone else.”

    Alice shrugged her shoulders. “Well, what can we do? That would be nice, but it is three against… well, a lot of people. They’re probably too afraid of some precedent they might set. It sucks but… like I said, what can we do?”

    Hermes’s optics contracted. “I… would appreciate such a thing, but…” He sighed. “I hate to be selfish, but I fear would would become of me. Right now I am property. If I was no longer property, my criminal past might be held against me, and then I could no longer serve the XSDF.”

    Alice sighed, looking between the others. “Maybe… maybe we can find some kind of compromise with it. What if we started small. Like with the XSDF instead of the Earth as a whole. It would be easier to get some special rules changed, and Hermes, your work here would offer you immunity if a criminal record came to light. You wouldn’t be the first to use the XSDF to work off some crimes.”

    “Nor the last.” Ezra noted. “Besides, even if you are held accountable, you barely know the extent of what you did. Could have been a busboy for all we know and just happened to work on the ship. Can’t charge you on false pretenses.”

    I think I did more than that. “R-Right…” Hermes replied. “Still, amidst the tides of war I have to wonder if the rights of the few are more or less important than focusing on the issue at hand.”

    “It is important to establish bedrock in the middle of conflict, makes people more open to ideas and help appreciate what we give them with our contributions. The time is ripe, we would just need support from sympathizers, get a petition or some jargon like that to the council of nations to get approved. Commander already likes us… well, you two. He has yet to contact me but I have a feeling he spies on me in my off time…”

    “Erza is right,” Alice agreed. She gave Hermes a gentle smile. “It might seem selfish of us, but we could contribute more if we were considered actual people. I mean, what happens if Commander Mason is replaced by someone who doesn’t care about us, or the Council needs to contact us with someone who doesn’t care? They’d treat us like the basic combat droids. I think we should at least try. We won’t make a fuss. Just gather support and send our concerns to the Commander.”

    “Glad we are in agreement then. Question is… whose support?” Ezra asked.

    “Well, first we need Hermes’.” Alice reached out and touched his hand. “Is this okay with you? We won’t go on unless you are with us. We can’t force this on you.”

    Hermes shook his head. “And I can’t hold it back over my own personal qualms. It’s fine.”

    “Good to hear.” Alice looked back at Erza. “I have friends in engineering that I can talk to. And find more through Nick. If you guys can get a few soldiers behind us, that would be perfect.”

    “I’m sure I can get my cousin Vinny in on this. Sucks at legal stuff though, so her word will be enough, as well as Mark’s too I guess.” He said with a shrug of his arms. “I could get others too but…” He shook his head.

    “But what?” Hermes inquired.

    “But nothing, was just thinking with some self-doubt. I am sure we could do this,” Ezra replied.

    "Well, go. Sounds like a plan." Alice chuckled. "Not exactly what I was expected when I sat down here, but I'm really glad I sat with you." She placed her hand in the middle of the table. "To equality."

    Ezra put his own hand in with a grin. "To being friends."

    Hermes chuckled. "To us."
     
  3. ZombieSplitter53

    ZombieSplitter53 Game Master Staff Member

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    Part Three

    "I did, and I even found someone there... This cute Chinese girl... We got along 'eally 'ell, after a night with her we decided to go to a restaurant and talk." Mary chuckled, explaining, "Turns out she comes from a similar back round 'es me. She said she was born out in the rural areas, their leader back then was really strict with anti-sex laws, however, once she turned eighteen China began it's 'exual revolution, she decided that she had enough of the rural life with her stuck up parents and moved to Hong Kong where her beauty would be more appreciated. It didn't work out as well as she
    'ought though... All 'er money was nicked out from under her nose by a person she thought loved her and it put her on the street...

    "After years of doing... Some of the same things I had to do for money... She finally picked up a solid job as a dancer with benefits inside of a Triad controlled club." Mary continued, "That's where she was until around three months ago when the crime syndicate lost a pretty major leader, who just so happened to own the club and it's girls... The girls were given a decent amount of spending money to 'art 'eir lives over again... So my friend rented out a hotel for a few weeks before she ran into little old me at a bus stop... We talked... Had common interests... And 'eh took 'er to my room... We've been together e'er since."

    "Wow, that's... kind awesome." Ayame smiled lovingly. "Kinda sounds like my moms, if you replace Triads with Yakuza, China with California, dancer with sex trade, and went out to a restaurant with one trying to stab the other in the heart. Otherwise... maybe not exactly the same. But you know what I'm saying. I think it's cool."

    "I guess prostitutes are simply attracted to each other." Mary looked around, "Too bad she's out getting some things right now, I'd love to show her to you."

    Camellia smiled, "Well... Do you... Have a picture? She doesn't have to be there for you to show us what she looks like."

    Mary smirked, reaching past her computer and grabbing something, "I do, actually... Here it is."

    She lifted up to the screen what seemed to be a picture of Mary standing next to a lithe woman with voluptuous platinum blonde hair and with very clear Asian features. The woman was striking a pose, folding her arms but using one to brush her hair out of the way, while Mary wrapped an arm around her, giving her a strange look, perhaps questioning the pose. Upon closer inspection however, they could see that the woman had a few subtle scars on her face, perhaps telling a story from her past. The two also seemed to be standing in a well lit room with red wallpaper along with Asian symbols painted on it in black.

    "Ah... you two look so good together. Where was that taken?" Ayame inquired.

    "In a bar, really nice place, one of her favorites and quickly becoming one of mine too." Mary replied.

    "This may sound like a weird question but... Aren't blondes really rare in Asia?" Winter asked.

    "You're right, her hair is actually dyed. It's naturally dark brown, like mine, but China's fashion sense is stuck somewhere in retro America right now, they love some of the strong, extremely sexy, very 'female' women from that time period, the biggest one being Marilyn Monroe, hence the hair."

    Ayame nudged Cammy. "No offense to mama Yuna, but you think mama Ayame would be jealous if she saw Mary's new squeeze?"

    "Why don't you screen cap' it an' show her?" The ex-gunner suggested.

    Cammy smiled, doing just that, "You're not trying to make her jealous are you?"

    "Why would I want to do that? 'At ship has sailed... E'en if I still love her... I just want her to see how happy I am right now, it was a little rough after canceling the weddin'."

    Ayame gave Mary a concerned look. "Listen... forget about her. Cammy told me what a controlling bitch she was. You don't need her. You need your freedom. That's why my mom set you free instead of trying to cage you. I want you to be happy in spite of that joke of a fiance."

    "I meant your mom, Junior... I still love her... I don't really care what happens to that other cunt..." Mary corrected.

    Ayame scrunched her nose. "That's... wow, I..." She shook her head. "You know she's married now, right? I mean... of course you know. I just... y-you're not gonna try and win her from mama Yuna, are you?"

    "Of course not..." Mary said, seeming just a little bit offended, "I'm happy your mom found Yuna, I am... But I still love her, I'll always love her... She's the one that showed me what love really is... As corny as that sounds... Feelings like that don't just go away because you found someone new to love, but I understand that me and your mom are done... We just don't work..."

    Ayame nodded. "Well... just so you know... she still talks about you. Sometimes, when she's had a little too much to drink, she goes into details that make mama Yuna really jealous. I think, deep down, she still loves you too."

    "That... Makes me feel better actually... Knowing that she didn't just forget about me... Maybe we'll all have a nice, big, happy four-some, just like old times, maybe I'll even invite Vee!" The Cross sister replied, fondly remembering her days in X-Com.

    "Well, don't hold your breath on that one." Ayame leaned back. "Though... her kids are grown, and she ain't getting any younger... so who knows?"

    "One thing 'eh have to ask 'fore I go, what're you doing in the XSDF junior? You're mom okay with you joining up?" Mary asked, looking over at the spitting image of her ex.

    Ayame shrugged. "She wasn't happy with it, but she made he piece over it when I started flight school. You're looking at the next great ace pilot of the XSDF."

    Winter gulped a little bit, "P-Pilot? I've seen how well you fight hand to hand, why pilot?"

    "Well, there isn't much room for straight hand to hand fighting on a battlefield," Ayame explained. "But I've always been interested in avionics, and I was inspired by my mother's war stories. So, I decided to become a combat pilot. Nothing to worry about. They won't even graze me out there."

    "Just... Be careful... Okay..." Camellia responded nervously.

    "Oh, you don't have to worry about me. I've got mama Ayame's skill and mama Yuna's luck!" Ayame scratched the back of her head. "You know... n-not counting the former losing a hand and the latter's means of coming to America. Heh... heh..."

    "Just remember... Those ships are not as durable as you think... In fact, I feel like you'd be more protected on the ground..." Winter said with a grim tone, "With the weapons our enemies have, those ships might as well be made of paper mache... All it'll take is one shot..."

    Even Mary seemed to sweat a little at Winter's words, "Is... Is it really that bad? Because I've heard some things back on Earth... Rumors floating around say that the XSDF is getting shredded in space combat lately..."

    "Well... They're not exactly... Wrong..." Camellia swallowed.

    Ayame's smug smile quickly faded, and she rubbed her arms nervously. "Yeah, but... I'm... embodiment of... ruin... I..." She stood up from her chair, stumbling back and tripping over it. She hit the floor hard, holding her head in pain. A few tears escape her eyes.

    Camellia jumped up, kneeling by her, "Are you okay?!"

    "I'm fine!" Ayame pushed off the ground. "It doesn't hurt." She sat up but looked away, not wanting Camellia to see the tears were still coming. "It doesn't... doesn't hurt. I'm gonna be fine. Be... okay. Be safe. Be secure. Not... not get hurt... be okay... be fine..."

    "I... I didn't mean to scare you so much... I just wanted to make sure you wouldn't underestimate what we're up against... That attitude has already gotten a lot of people killed... I guess... I was scared you might end up one of them..." Winter explained.

    Ayame nodded, wiping her eyes. "I-I know. I'm fine. Really." She turned and smiled at Cammy, her face dry but her eyes still red. "I-I... you're right. I was warned about... me possibly..." She cleared her throat. "But I... I promise, I'll be okay. I'll learn from all the other pilots, a-and stick with them, and... be okay... right?"

    "Please do..." Mary's voice came from the computer, "I love you Junior, you have a lot of people that love you, keep that in mind when you go out there... And only take risks when you think you have to..."

    Winter nodded in agreement at her Aunt's words, before the ex-gunner spoke up again, "If you're scared of getting really hurt, there's always Gene-Mods to help protect you, I'm not sure what new shit they have now, but I can personally vouch for the secondary heart, without it, I wouldn't be here right now."

    Ayame rose to her feet, wiping her eyes again. "Yeah... yeah, I could do that. Maybe so of those mind ones, too. Mom was decked out, after all. Thanks. Um... sorry if I embarrassed myself there."

    "It's okay, it's okay to be nervous." Camellia smiled, "Well, guess I'll call you later Mary."

    "You better, next time I'll make sure my girlfriend is here so you can meet her." Mary replied, "Stay safe you two."

    Ayame smiled at the screen. "Talk to you soon." She turned to Cammy and suddenly sprang forward. "Thank you, Camellia. I'm sorry if I was cold to you all these years. You're pretty cool... for shrink."

    "And what's wrong with shrinks?" She put a hand on her waist, smirking.

    Ayame laughed. "Now that you mention it... nothing." She stepped away, and rubbed the back of her neck. "Well... if you'll excuse me, a friend of mine just gave me a present, and I want to go out it to good use."

    "I'll be here if you want to hang out!" Winter smiled mischievously, "Or if you'd like more... Gifts..."

    Ayame smirked back. "I might hold you to that." She slipped out the door, calling back, "Toodles."
     
  4. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Taxor_the_First and DarkGemini24601: “Much to Talk about Nothing, Part 1”

    High Orbit over Forseti (May 24th, 2044)
    The Einherjar (1733 Hours, A.S.T.)
    Floor 13: Room C-5


    Hermes tapped one of the metallic feathers on his left arm as he walked down the hallway towards the quarters he shared with three other soldiers. A multitude of things preoccupied the android. The matter of the information about his past he had given out in the heat of battle. It was worth it to save innocent lives, Hermes thought to himself adamantly. But, it could come at a price, he reasoned. For the android remembered the pact he had made with two of the other AIs aboard the ship. One to gain them the rights they felt they deserved.

    “I can’t back down now,” he muttered, not in reassurance but in determination. Even if gaining rights meant he was subject to punishment for past crimes, that was no reason to block the way for his fellow androids - and gynoids. The needs of the many called, and he could not ignore that, just as he couldn’t ignore the lives of that Slipstream crew.

    Despite this resolution, his turmoil remained. He had wondered for about a month now at the man called “Geralt Carson” that his roommate had fought against. This man that looked so much like him - albeit older - and possessed a similar set of powers. Bringing his hand up to look at, Hermes formed a weak destructokinetic gear on the wrist for a moment. Without having seen him use destructokinesis, I wouldn’t have thought to use it… we must be linked somehow. And seeing him in action has awoken me to further psionic potential.

    Unfortunately, any attempt to locate memories relating to Carson ended in failure. Not only that, but his distraction cost Hermes the ability to pry further into his memories of the Megaladon. Vindicta argued that Hermes’s divided attention was making it impossible for him to recover memories from the dreamscape, and had urged him to take a break until he could refocus on the memories that had been readily available. Once he had completed the chain there, only then would it be logical to search for Geralt’s relation to the android.

    There was another facet to the issue of Geralt as well. Samantha. Hermes had been eagerly working with the mechanical crew during the night to avoid a confrontation with her in regards to the Triad Enforcer. He had ascertained that she usually returned to the room at 1800 hours, and thus took care of any business in the room before then. Hermes reached the door, and opened it, his eyes widening. His calculations failed him today.

    “Um… hello, Samantha,” Hermes spoke cautiously, freezing in his tracks.

    Samantha lifted her head from the pillow, raising an eyebrow at the android’s demeanour. “Hermes,” she acknowledged somewhat groggily. “Been a while hasn’t it?” She chuckled to herself, swinging her legs off the bunk so that she might speak to her roommate upright. “If I didn’t know any better,” she said, “I’d say you were avoiding me.” She laughed again, clearly unaware of how right she was.

    “O-Of course not!” The forgetful android insisted. “Our schedules merely haven’t aligned the past month. A coincidence, I’m certain.”

    “Well, it’s a good thing my schedule was a bit off today, right?” She rubbed the back of her neck, still waking up from what appeared to be a quick nap. “Everything has, really. Internal clock’s been a bit haywire since I got genemodded. Along with my eyes.” She blinked as if to illustrate, frowning. “Depth perception is a bit hard to get used to,” she admitted.

    “I imagine. I have the benefit of having range adjustment capabilities in my optics, and not suffering from that sort of disorientation,” Hermes replied, shifting uneasily in the doorway.

    Samantha nodded. “And you don’t have to sleep either,” she yawned. “Lucky bastard. How’ve you been?”

    “Well enough,” Hermes ‘explained.’

    “Enough?” The Huntress leaned on the wall, a concerned expression crossing her face. “Still preoccupied with that, huh. Do you want to talk about it?”

    “Preoccupied with what?” Hermes asked defensively.

    Samantha’s expression changed oddly. “With that sushi roll you had for lunch two years ago,” she said sarcastically. She shook her head. “Look, if someone I knew had run into someone else that looked exactly like me and had basically the same abilities, I’d want to ask them about it at least. Doubly so if I happened to have lost all my memory before a few months ago.” Maybe he really has been avoiding me. He’s certainly dodging my questions now…

    “I… know nothing about him aside from what I witnessed, and I doubt you could tell me anything further,” Hermes insisted.

    “Nothing?” The Huntress seemed genuinely surprised. “No glimmer of memory, no half-recalled conversations?”

    The android shook his head. “My… memory was wiped before I was handed over to Slipstream. My time with the Triads, if there was such a thing, isn’t accessible to me… not yet.”

    A frown appeared on Samantha’s face. “To be honest, I’m not even sure if that man was Triad at all. Sure, he had the extras on his armor, but that accent didn’t fit at all.” She was silent for a moment. “What about his Reflection?” she asked suddenly. “Vulcan, I think he called it. That ring any bells?”

    “Unfortunately, no,” Hermes replied sadly. “I felt a tinge of familiarity with Carson, but the Reflection didn’t evoke anything significant. I… don’t think he had such a thing when I knew him, if I did know him.”

    “Well, it does raise another question,” she said with one eyebrow raised. “If you’ve got the same abilities as him, do you think you’d be capable of a Reflection too?”

    “Possibly… I’ve never attempted it, though,” Hermes responded. “I would likely need a telekinetic basis… and that’s not an ability I have access to. Yet, at least.”

    “Access is a problem for you, isn’t it?” Samantha commented dryly. “Can’t access your memories, can’t access telekinesis. Maybe our cyberwarfare division could take a few pointers on security from your programming.”

    “You try resisting psionic brainwashing… it’s the same principle as having your memory wiped.”

    “Can’t say I’m familiar with that experience,” the Huntress admitted. “Psionic brainwashing isn’t that widespread I don’t think, thank goodness. Too much opportunity for bad people to do bad things. It’s bad enough without psionics making things easier.”

    Hermes nodded. “I don’t like to complain, but it is… difficult, not knowing everything about yourself. Wondering if you ever hurt or killed someone, but you can’t remember.”

    “I’d be willing to bet Carson would have some answers,” Samantha muttered. “He worked out I knew you, after all. Maybe you can ask him yourself when he next rears his ugly-” She stopped short as she reconsidered what she’d been about to say. “Uh. Handsome mug.”

    Hermes groaned. “It’s like having a clone… though I suppose I am the clone, not he.”

    “Yes, but you’re the good twin. He’s the evil one.” Samantha grinned and punched the android lightly on the upper arm, though given her recently augmented muscles the blow was perhaps stronger than she had been intending. “Cheer up,” she said. “At least if it does come down to you versus him you’ll be evenly matched. Thought I’d like a shot or two at him first, if you don’t mind.”

    “I’d need a Reflection for us to be even remotely evenly matched,” Hermes contested.

    “Simple solution,” Samantha said. “Me. I’ll be your Reflection.”

    Hermes raised a metallic eyebrow incredulously. “I… don’t think it works that way,” he said sardonically.

    The Huntress shrugged. “Well, I can’t do the fade-in, fade-out thing. But that doesn’t mean I can’t help you out.”

    “Then you’re an ally… you’re not very analogous to a Reflection,” Hermes insisted, before waving his hands defensively. “Not that I am ungrateful! It just… was a poor metaphor.”

    “I meant more as a balancing thing,” she responded. “Unless you can convince him to keep his Reflection out of it, which I very much doubt. Anyway, we’ll have to figure out a better way to beat him than blowing up a car next to him. Don’t think there’ll be any of those conveniently lying around next time.”

    “And that is property damage,” Hermes helpfully pointed out.
     
  5. Taxor_the_First

    Taxor_the_First Well-Known Member

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    Taxor_the_First and DarkGemini24601: “Much to Talk about Nothing, Part 2”


    That drew a frown. “Is… there such a thing as war insurance? I haven’t exactly worried about property damage before. Never really fit my style to be discrete.”

    “That would be a question for someone trained in law,” Hermes replied. I’m more accustomed to breaking it, I imagine. “I am sure the XSDF covers it at the very least, so your concerns would likely lie with the higher-ups, not civilians.”

    “Bah. So long as it isn’t me paying for it. I’d rather not be fined for choosing life, you know?” Samantha shook her head. “Enough about that though. Haven’t seen you for ages, haven’t asked you how you’ve been.” She sat down on her bunk, attempting to get comfortable. “Anything interesting happen to you while I was out?”

    “Aside from the limited memory recovery,” Hermes mused a bit dryly, “Not much. I was on the mission to disable the Slipstream battleship, and prior to that I met our Humiliata gardener.”

    “The one people are saying is descended from the former Ethereal High Commander?” she asked with a raised eyebrow. “She didn’t try to… drain you or anything, did she?”

    “Descended from who now?” Hermes asked, his mechanical pupils widening in confusion and shock. “I thought she was named Volupta’sumana…”

    “You… hadn’t heard about that?” Samantha rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. “Turns out they’re related. I’ve heard only nice things, though.” From the only person I trust on the issue, anyway. “Turns out being a massive prick isn’t genetic. Who knew.”

    “If it was then I’d be erasing you with destructokinesis,” Hermes spoke darkly.

    The Huntress tilted her head. “You don’t have any genes,” she said bluntly.

    Hermes’ expression fell. “Damn. I can’t argue with that one.”

    She laughed. “I’d call that a strength, myself,” she said lightly. “You don’t have any predisposition to diseases, for example. No extra likelihood that your heart will just fail on you. Some humans do.” She shook her head. “What about that mission you were talking about? How’d that go?”

    “It went… well enough…” Hermes answered cautiously. “We managed to take it intact, which was not easy to make happen.”

    “Nice job. I’m assuming you didn’t just go through floor by floor and butcher everyone to do that, right?”

    Hermes shook his head. “The squad leader thought it would be easier to destroy the ship’s core, but I managed to… convince him to move on to the command bridge and forced a surrender.”

    Samantha raised an eyebrow. “And you weren’t court-martialed for standing up to a superior officer? Just curious, since the last two missions I was on I was the squad leader.”

    “Not… yet, at least. But one does not typically court martial property,” Hermes explained uneasily.

    Her expression fell. “Yeah. That’s… that’s true. Of course, saying it like that implies you have a lot of freedom in terms of what you do. Assuming, just for theory’s sake, you are property. A pencil is also property. If a pencil stole money, would you charge that pencil with theft? Of course not. It’s ridiculous. Why would a pencil steal anything? It’s a pencil.”

    “Myself and the other two androids on the ship have agreed the time has come for change… though I… didn’t have the heart to explain to them that it may come with consequences for me, considering my past,” Hermes confessed, finally sitting down on his own bunk.

    “I’m no lawyer, but I doubt they’d punish you for things you did as, really, an entirely different person.” Samantha shrugged. “Do we charge people under mind control, or the people mind controlling? Do we charge you, or the person that gave you directives? As a synthetic, you could easily have had programming restrictions that prevented you disobeying orders.” She paused. “... but again, I’m no lawyer. My partner was, once. But I think things would have changed since then.”

    “The… issue, is that I don’t think I was under any programming restrictions,” Hermes countered. “And I don’t know the extent of what I did in that time.”

    The Huntress made a ‘hmm’ noise, pondering what he’d said. “Hermes,” she said at last, “has anyone ever recognised you in your time here?”

    “From before? I don’t believe so,” he answered, “but the Einherjar was not yet christened in 2043 and earlier.”

    “Maybe not, but you were picked up by the XSDF, who, last I checked, prided themselves on being galactic peacekeepers and law-enforcers. They - sorry, we - are in control of a planet solely devoted to housing criminals. If there is a wanted criminal anywhere in the galaxy, the XSDF knows about them.” She leaned forward as if imparting a secret. “Yet you weren’t immediately locked up and tried, were you? No one came screaming out of the hallways shouting ‘wait, wait, that’s the butcher of Megha’ or ‘Hermes the Ripper’ or whatever. Whatever you did, I doubt it would have been that bad.”

    “Perhaps… though I doubt the XSDF knows about every minor criminal in the galaxy. We’ll have to see,” Hermes replied, seeming a bit less apprehensive but not entirely convinced.

    “That’s the story of this war, isn’t it?” Samantha said with a sardonic grin. “Wait and see. We’re just sitting here, waiting for our enemy to make a move. I’d say we need to go on the offensive more, but we’re still outgunned, and we don’t know where to attack anyway.” She sighed. “I hate sitting around. Gym helps with having something to do, and so does the holoroom, but… it’s not progress.” A bitter laugh escaped from her lips. “Now I sound like his daughter. Bloody hell…”

    “Wouldn’t she be your daughter?” Hermes sought clarification with a confused look.

    Samantha scratched her head. “Kinda not really. Me and Isaac, we never… never married. Something didn’t seem quite right with it. So technically, Penny’s not my step-daughter. Obviously, I didn’t birth her, so she’s not my normal daughter either. She’s my partner’s daughter. Like she doesn’t call me ‘mother’, either.” She shrugged. “At least she doesn’t hate me. I was a bit worried, what with what happened to her real mother, but I guess she was old enough to not give a shit.”

    “It sounds like marrying him would just make things less confusing… though I doubt it is as bad as the Exalt family. At least, not from what I’ve heard about their extended lineage.”

    “You’re not wrong there,” the Huntress agreed. “Once you get to the Subjugation War the family tree goes completely mental. Isaac tried explaining it to me once. I thought he was trying to explain how black holes worked.”

    “Black holes bend spacetime and gravity by…” Hermes began.

    “If you say another word I will go back down to Forseti, find the fragments of that Novagun, reconstruct it and use it to turn you into equally small fragments.”

    “You could just get the plasma nullifier from your daughter,” Hermes offered.

    Samantha glared at him for a moment. “You watched the footage of that mission, right?” she asked quietly. “Tell me. Did you see how I stopped that last Incubator?” Her eyes flashed cyan for a moment, before dying down again, with her no longer able to keep the straight face and focus necessary. “Don’t worry, I’m kidding,” she said, chuckling still. “I can’t believe that actually worked, though. I was definitely coming up with some stupid ideas that night…”

    Hermes drew back momentarily. “You’re lucky you didn’t destroy your entire hand colliding with zero alloys…”

    She winced. “I did break a few bones, but the biokinesis part of my ability took care of that relatively quickly. Just shows you how strong imbuement can be, provided you chose the right material to imbue.”

    “I wouldn’t know,” Hermes replied. “I can’t use green abilities as a red… though perhaps that would make for an interesting combination of my abilities and yours. I wonder what we could accomplish imbuing my psi lances, or even the destructokinetic gears.”

    A smile began to creep across Samantha’s face. “Now you’re getting it,” she said, though she faltered slightly. “Granted, I’m not as good using the abilities separately. Bit of practice, though, and we might be able to come up with some good combos…”

    “Perhaps that would give you something to occupy your time, then,” Hermes suggested.

    “Better than laying about on my ass all day waiting for the enemy to come at us,” Samantha agreed.
     
  6. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    High Orbit over Forseti (May 26th, 2044)
    The Einherjar (9:50 A.M., A.S.T.)
    Floor 7: Psionic Labs


    Hermes Arcwright sat with his metallic legs crossed across from Vindicta Exalt, the two breathing in like they were doing yoga. The android was wearing his typical attire - that is to say, his unchanging, non-removeable armor. As always, he had balanced his boosts and the metallic, aerodynamic feathers on his arms so that they wouldn’t be grating against the rest of his seraph armor equivalent. His visor was lifted, and a faint glow surrounded his lava-red eyes.

    Vindicta had left her labcoat on the rack, and was merely wearing a light gray exercise shirt and black sweatpants. A similar glow, this one golden, surrounded her irises, as she and Hermes calmed their minds to make the latter’s dreamscape easy to access for the former. “Remember, we can only do two memories at most in one day. Don’t push any further than that, or you might hamper our process by trying to hasten it,” Vindicta warned, her tone even and final.

    “I understand. I… will not be as desperate as I was when last we met,” Hermes reassured the scientist as the two slowly closed their eyes, their minds drifting and reality seeming to fall out of sync. The world of gears returned, the black haze seeming to only have receded ever so slightly from where the second memory had been discovered. Hermes let his subconscious direct him to the next space where he could find a window into his past. He knelt down by a gear with grooved edges that was halfway shattered on the ground, but the square hole in the center was still intact. The android placed his palms on either side of the square, and reached inward, feeling the window that tried to stay out of vision.

    You will not deny me… Hermes thought to himself as he pried the two panels open as they faded into view. I will find out more about my past, for better or worse.

    Recollection IV - Gangplank

    Somewhere in Subspace (July 19th, 2043)
    The Megalodon (11:56 P.M., Earth Standard Time)
    Armory


    The Megalodon's armory didn't have much, containing an assortment of beam laser weapons and the odd pulse gun. Alloy suits and flight armors lined the walls (some were both, being alloy suits with pulse jets hastily fastened onto the back) and the occasional conventional grenade could be found in crates dominated by flashbangs and specialty discombobulators filled with compressed oxygen.

    More than anything though, the room was alive with people. The combat crew of the Slipstream Hijacker battleship were rapidly depleting the stores of the armory, equipping themselves for battle. The reason for this preparation? Captain Root had received information that an XSDF supply transport was stopping at a restocking supply station in the area, and he intended to raid it as soon as it was outside the safety of the automated station's turrets. It wouldn't stand a chance with just an escort of 4 stingrays.

    Hermes was among those arming themselves. He picked up a pulse rifle, eyeing the glowing weapon nervously. Grazia laid a golden-armored hand on his shoulder. "You alright, Hermes?"

    "Is this... right? Ethical?" Hermes questioned.

    Grazia sucked in a breath. "Best if you don't ask anyone but me a question like that. Look, Hermes... this may not be the best business to be in, but it's the only path for us. Believe me, I wanted to run a designer company... but these things don't always work out."

    Hermes nodded slowly. "We won't necessarily have to kill anyone, correct?"

    "Hopefully not. Only time I've ever had to pop someone was when a Replitan tried to cheat and kill me for spare parts. Never killed a human, and as long as things continue to go smoothly hopefully I never will," Grazia explained, offering Hermes a gentle smile.

    The android returned the expression, and nodded. "I'm ready," he informed Manishak and Jishin.

    "About time," the Armenian woman huffed. "Let's go to the boarder."
     
  7. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    The boarding craft, as it turned out, was a modified dropship having a round circular exit in the front of the ship. Along the door as a round saw for cutting into a ship's hull without letting the oxygen leak out. The tunnel and ramp was made of cheap metals so it could be detached and replaced - the Hijackers were not butchers. They didn't intend to leave their prey leaking oxygen after a raid.

    Hermes and the others climbed into the craft, and soon the Megalodon dropped out of warp. It caught the cargo ship unawares. A spray of plasma fire from the Slipstream battleship screamed through the void, shattering the engines of two Stingrays immediately. They careened aimlessly, unable to defend the supply transport that were assigned to protect. The other two, however, gave it their best shot as four Slipstream Crimfeathers exited the Megalodon and went on the attack.

    The two XSDF fighter craft, along with the defensive pulse turrets of the transport, managed to give the Slipstream pilots a run for their money. The shields of the flight leader dropped dangerously low, and he was forced back, while a second one lost their shields entirely - and a missile pod to a Stingray Gauss Cannon. Ultimately, though, the XSDF struggle was futile. The two remaining Stingray pilots were forced to bail out as the Megalodon's mighty fusion lance targeted their ships.

    While the Stingray pods were tractored swiftly into the XSDF transport’s hull, the Slipstream ‘Boarder’ dropship was launched from its hanger, and rocketed towards the transport. The transport’s pulse turrets turned to fire, but were sheared off by the two remaining Crimfeathers in the area.

    “Transport shields confirmed to be down,” one of the pilots reported over the dropship’s speakers. “Commence boarding.”

    “Roger that,” the dropship’s pilot replied, the frontal tube making contact with the supply ship’s side. There was a hideous screech of zero alloys and metal meeting each-other. The weaker composite making up the hull was ripped to shreds by the pure zero alloy saws, and a circular hole was cut in the ship. Stepping through the gap were eight Slipstream Troopers.

    Manishak in her violet carapace armor. Jishin in his red-and-white seraph armor. Grazia in her golden cleric armor. Hermes in his unusual, bolted-on seraph armor equivalent. And four other Slipstream troopers wearing phalanx armor with small pulse jets strapped on. The former four were equipped with a pulse rifle each, while the latter four carried regular laser rifles.

    They found themselves in a symmetrical room. They stood on a raised walkway facing another on the other end of the room, supporting by rather thin metal beams. Both had steps leading down to a medium-level platform, and from that platform steps extended from the middle to the ground level. On the floor itself was a collection of items. Supply crates containing food, water, and munitions. Weapon racks containing an assortment of laser rifles, and notably a few pulse and gauss weapons.

    There was only one obstacle in the way. A team of four XSDF troopers wielding gauss and pulse weaponry, and in powered armor. They were accompanied by four combat droids that had donned alloy suits and toted laser heavy rifles, as well as a M.E.S.H.A. with a laser lance.

    Manishak didn’t hesitate, giving her orders. “Blow up the robots, and they’ll be cowed,” she ordered icily, jumping down almost immediately to avoid incoming fire and return the favor from impromptu cover. One of the Slipstream regulars took a hit from a laser rifle, but wasn’t down for the count. He was assisted with a push from Hermes to catch up with his three compatriots as they sought cover below as well. That settled, Hermes, Grazia, and Jishin took to the air.

    Priority target? Hermes questioned psionically.

    Grazia’s gaze settled on the M.E.S.H.A. Take that thing out. They won’t be too worried about penetrating the hull, but it’ll watch its fire enough to make it vulnerable. Maybe you can use it to crush a bot or two.

    Hermes nodded, and his eyes flared an intense red as he reached out to the heat energy stored within the laser lance the automated MEC Trooper was wielding. The machine looked down at its weapon, ceasing fire. “Error. Weapon overheating. Ceasing fire until coolant systems kick in,” it intoned to its comrades. That never happened, as the heat levels rose until the weapon exploded, blasting a hole in the machine’s torso and cutting off the connections between its servomotors and its processor. It wobbled, and then fell over, crashing two of the Combat Frames under its weight.

    “Nice one, Hermes!” Jishin exclaimed, before jettisoning to the side to avoid a gauss round from impaling itself in his torso. He narrowed his eyes in irritation at the XSDF sniper that had fired the shot, and returned the favor with suppressing fire, keeping them pinned and hopefully making them sweat a little.

    Grazia picked her own targets. Rather than aim her pulse rifle accurately, she sprayed fire along the length of where the enemy combatants were. Most of the shots impacted with tough alloy casing, damaging some of the equipment they were set to protect - Captain Root would likely want to have a word with her later - but the uncovered combat droids remaining were annihilated by her strafing fire.

    That left Manishak to conclude her plan. “Give up!” she shouted threateningly to the XSDF troopers “or you’re going to die in this godforsaken corner of space!” The enemy assault replied with a shot from their alloy cannon that punched a hole in Manishak’s crate, grazing her armor. “Mother fucker!” she exclaimed, firing a pulse shot that bit through the assailant's shoulder, sending him to the ground in agony. “Anyone else want to try that shit?!”

    With eight guns trained on them, the remaining three realized they had no choice, and dropped their weapons. The XSDF medic went over to assist their fallen comrade, but Manishak stopped them.

    “Stay where you are!” she warned as the four Slipstream troopers went over to watch them.

    “B-But… she’s…” The medic pleaded.

    “I don’t give a shit. They tried to do that to me, they can lose an arm for it,” the Armenian replied icily.

    “Isn’t such cruetly unnecessary? Hermes inquired quietly, landing next to Manishak.

    The woman whirled around, glaring at him. “The hell do you know, android? An eye for an eye, that’s all that I’m doing.”

    “Mani… he has a point,” Grazia dared to sat, landing as well.

    “And what the fuck is that?”

    “The guy could die from shock. We need supplies, but you don’t want to raise our profile too much, do you? I’d rather not have the XSDF actively hunting us,” the Italian explained. “And neither would the Cap’n.”

    Manishak stared her down, and Grazia returned the gaze. After awhile, Manishak grinned, waving her hand dismissively. “Fine,” she muttered. “Doc!” she called out. “You can patch up your woman.”

    Grazia tugged at Hermes’s arm. “C’mon. Let’s go get the supplies before she gets all pissy again,” she whispered with a sly smile. One that Hermes did not seem to return at first. As they walked, Grazia added, “See? Told you we didn’t have to kill anyone.”

    “We got dangerously close…” Hermes said apprehensively.

    Grazia nodded slowly, but her smile didn’t fade. “But we prevented it. ‘Honor among thieves’, or something like that.”

    “I don’t believe that’s the correct…” Hermes began before two fingers covered his mouth.

    “Oh, quiet you,” Grazia mumbled indignantly.

    Hermes couldn’t help but smile at that.

    ***

    The dreamscape came back into focus, and Hermes breathed a sigh of relief. I... didn't kill anyone, after all...
     
  8. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Somewhere in Subspace (May 27th, 2044)
    The Einherjar (1000 Hours, A.S..)
    Floor 13: Room C-5


    Hermes sat alone in his room. The other three that shared the room with him were on-duty, leaving him to attempt to push further into the recesses of his mind. I’m so close, he knew. For each memory he conjured restored everything between that and the last. He had witnessed himself grow close to Grazia, but there was still a bit more time unaccounted for. And he felt in his heart it was important.

    Drifting into his dreamscape, Hermes knelt down before a beautifully chiseled gear. The next memory opened surprisingly easily for him, and he felt his artificial heart filled with a warm feeling that calmed any apprehensions he had.

    Recollection V - Gift

    Somewhere in Subspace (October 15th, 2043)
    The Megalodon (7:32 P.M., Earth Standard Time)
    Main Engineering


    The assembly lines of the Megalodon hummed quietly as the ship’s engineers worked to repair equipment or construct new gear for the crew to use. That was what the majority of the people in the room were doing. Grazia, however, was tinkering. She sat in a rusted swivel chair, leaning over a table and connecting wires delicately, wearing thin gray gloves to protect herself from any sparks. She paused and ran a hand through her hair in frustration, but was careful not to mess up the gelled curls of hair that were so hard to get to how they were.

    “Something the matter?” Hermes inquired from behind her, causing the Italian to jump slightly, causing her chair to creak when she fell back down.

    “Don’t do that…” Grazia complained, shaking her head and opening her palms in the direction of what she was working on. “Stupid combat drone decided to break down on me and I can’t figure out how to get it working again. Something’s wrong with the power core connections, but I have no clue what.”

    “It is a more Humiliata-style design, isn’t it?” Hermes clarified. He knelt down beside Grazia, and delicately held up a wire. “Their machines tend to be a little more convoluted than human designs… the main power cord has to snake around the auxiliary. It won’t activate unless they’re both in proximity and thus able to exchange power at multiple points.” Satisfied, he stepped back, and the small carbine-equipped drone raised into the air with a questioning look at Grazia.

    Grazia smiled. “Not bad… you really have improved. Or maybe you had that technical knowledge all along.” She tapped Hermes on the helmet.

    “Perhaps…” Hermes’ smile fell. “Speaking of that, have you made any progress with recovering my memories?”

    Grazia sighed. “Sorry, Hermes… I haven’t. I don’t think there’s anything left… they made sure the data wasn’t easily recoverable in your processor. I’ll keep trying, though.” Seeing his crestfallen expression, she added, “I did figure out something though.”

    “What is that?” Hermes asked drearily.

    Grazia rolled her eyes. “Follow me.” She got up from her chair, setting it to spinning, and had Hermes follow her to her quarters. The room consisted of shelves full of machine parts, half of it junk and half of it useful. The bed was just a simple mattress with a pillow and a sheet, and her desk’s top was barely visible due to a combination of robotic parts and a pair of computers. There was a station in the corner that Hermes was able to go offline in, and it was also where Grazia performed maintenance on him. “Step in, please.”

    Hermes complied, and Grazia hooked up her larger computer to the repair station. “What is it you figured out?” Hermes asked with a degree of impatience.

    “Well, I was going through some of the extensive coding that serves as your basic information… and I came across some smaller computing points near the parts of your armor that keep it bolted to you. I figured out they were mechanical locks, but… the programming language was something I’d never seen before. I actually found it months ago…” She rubbed the back of her neck with an embaressed smile.

    “And you didn’t tell me why?” Hermes questioned with a shake of his head - one borne of disbelief.

    “‘Cause that’s how long it took me to figure this out!” Grazia explained. “And… there.”

    Hermes’s eyes widened in surprise as he hear several mechanical hisses from his legs, arms, chest, and head. “You… really…?”

    Grazia got up from her computer, walking over, seeming pleased her program worked. “I downloaded that into your memory so you won’t forget how to detach your armor again…” She cautiously reached up to Hermes’s helmet, and lifted it off his head. She snickered. “You’re… well…”

    “I’m what?” Hermes asked fearfully.

    “Kinda… bald. I guess your creator didn’t really care for you being out of your armor much.” Grazia held a hand over her mouth to suppress further laughter.

    Hermes rubbed his indeed hairless head. “So… I am…”

    “Don’t take this the wrong way!” Grazia pleaded, waving her hands desperately. “I don’t mind. It was just a little.. unexpected, is all.” She assisted in removing the rest of the armor, leaving Hermes in a weathered-looking set of clothing. He had a plain red t-shirt on, and a long pair of black jeans. “Guess they were kind enough to give you clothes, which makes sense… considering…”

    “Considering?”

    “Well…”

    “Well?”

    Grazia glanced up at the ceiling. “Aside from the whole hair thing, your body is made to mimic a human’s functions, including the reproductive ones.”

    “Ah,” Hermes said calmly.

    Grazia shook the slight color from her cheeks, smiling. “It’s just like you to be completely unfazed by that, isn’t it…” She shifted her weight from one foot to the other. “So… I was thinking…”

    “Thinking?”

    Grazia punched him in the arm. “Don’t you start with that shit again.” She leaned up to kiss him, a gesture the android had only had the pleasure of receiving once before - about a week ago when the two had admitted to feelings for each other.

    Hermes returned it, holding her gently. “Were you considering… the next step in a relationship, then?”

    Grazia nodded. “I was… if you’re up for it.”

    “I’m not sure I know how…” Hermes replied. “I am fairly certain I have never done that before. Have you?”

    “You don’t ask a woman that!” Grazia complained lightly. “I… may have once or twice. I know what I’m doing, at least.” She shrugged. “And I know you wouldn’t judge me for that.”

    “Not as long as you don’t run off on me,” Hermes joked.

    “I have no intention of going anywhere… not when I have you.” Grazia smiled, leading Hermes over to her bed and pushing him down on it.

    ***

    Hermes’ eyes opened as the memory ended with bliss, smiling sadly. “We… had all of that… and now she’s…” The android looked up to the ceiling, wishing nothing more than the ability to weep for what he had lost. But he was incapable of producing tears. As grief ebbed and flowed, he realized something. “Is it… still there?” Her program?

    His memories of service to Slipstream were completed. But was all the data Grazia had programmed during that time still present? He found his answer, and a familiar sound of hissing sounded the detachment of his armor. Shakily, Hermes removed his helmet, placing it in his lap. “Grazia…” he whispered mournfully, but with gratitude in his faint voice.

    “Thank you. For everything.”
     
  9. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Black0ut and DarkGemini24601: “The Bitter Cold, Part 1”

    High Orbit over Forseti (May 29th, 2044)
    The Einherjar (0952 Hours, A.S.T.)
    Floor 13: The Armory


    Kallpa wiped some sweat from his brow, leaning back against a wall. Those alloy plates are heavy, even if the material is lighter than steel, he thought, shaking his head. “Hey, Sparks, is there anything else you need from me?”

    Kelio’s eyes widened. I wouldn’t leave just yet! He psied quickly, before switching to his voice synthesizer. “I will need to test the power conduits to the weapon systems,” he explained further, glancing over to his fresh suit of armor: this one a MEC-6 Vanguard. “I… think I’ll need to find a power core, though,” the Sectoid noted with a tinge of chagrin. “Let me go get that…” The alien scuttled off, and Kallpa popped open a can of beer, taking a sip of it while he waited for the Sectoid to return.

    Thomas headed towards the Armory, Jelani’s near fanatical ramblings about the weapons and armor, intriguing the medic. I wonder...how strong is our armor and weapons? Everyone keeps saying that these Guns and Armor are on par with the TFD’s versions. I hope everyone’s right, I mean the techies and gearheads wouldn’t be wrong… right? They’re totally at the top of their game. Probably. The medic thought grimly, arriving at the armory’s door. I shouldn’t worry so much. Mason’s got everything under control. Wolfe, eager to see the new armaments and leave his thoughts behind, opened the door.

    He did not encounter the Incan gunner initially, but as he walked he came to the man having a drink next to the Mechtoid suit. “Hello,” Kallpa said offhandedly, glancing over at the medic. “Looking for something?”

    Wolfe turned towards the man, slightly surprised that someone was in the room. Of course, someone would be here. All of our weapons are here, so I should've seen this coming. “Just here to check out the new gear. Wanted to see what we would be using in battle. See if it lived up to the hype...” Thomas said absentmindedly, his eyes scanning past Kallpa towards the Mechtoid suit. After a moment, the medic snapped out of his stupor. “Name’s Wolfe. You?”

    “Kallpa Vizcarra,” the gunner answered. “And I haven’t gotten to use any fusion or particle weapons myself yet, but I have high hopes for them from what I’ve seen on the video logs.”

    The medic blatantly stared at the man. “Is that so? Well, call me old-fashioned, but I only trust a weapon’s effectiveness when I see it in action.” Thomas said quietly, trying to remain calm.

    Kallpa raised an eyebrow. “I assume you mean actually using it yourself, because you do technically see it in action watching a feed of another put the weapon to use.”

    Wolfe’s eye twitched, the medic trying desperately to keep his composure. “Y-Yeah. If you’ve never used them, you’ll probably be bad using them.” The big man responded. I’m going to remain calm, I'm not going to overreact and embarrass Korra...probably.

    Kallpa nodded. “That makes sense. Took me awhile to get used to using a machine gun. It’s a lot different than gunslinging with a pistol,” he remarked with a chuckle.

    I can’t take this anymore! I’m sorry Korra...but he must pass my expectations to be with my daughter. “Mr. Vizcarra. I’m going to stop beating around the bush. What are your intentions with my daughter?” The medic stated, a glare appearing in his eyes.

    Kallpa raised an eyebrow, lifting up the brim of his hat slightly. “Do I… know your daughter? You and I haven’t met before.”

    “Does a Korra Devolina ring any bells?” The medic practically growled, his demeanor being a far cry of what it had been a few moments before.

    “Uh… of course it does. She’s my girlfriend. But you’re no Tamearin,” Kallpa responded incredulously.

    “Answer the damn question. What. Are. Your. Intentions. With. My. Daughter?” Wolfe stated slowly, crossing his arms, as he stared down at the smaller man.

    Is this guy nuts? “Well,she’s the love of my life… so I’m courting her, and I imagine after the war we might get married,” Kallpa replied with equal sternness.

    The older cyborg nodded, then a wolfish grin, that had no warmth, appeared on his face. “Alright. You passed my first test. Now, what was your career before joining the XSDF and how did you lose your arm?” The medic questioned.

    “I was the sheriff of Mediotierra, Adamantem, and I lost my arm to a criminal that was holding up a bank,” Kallpa answered as if he had said it a million times already.

    The medic nodded again, this time, however, his wolfish grin disappearing entirely as he became more serious. “Did you save them?” The medic asked. Seems pretty good so far…

    “The civilians? Yeah, they got out alright, and the offender got locked up.”

    The medic turned away for a moment, lost in thought about his first ‘accident’. After a moment or two, Thomas turned back to the former sheriff. “Okay. You passed my second test. Now, tell me, what is the thing you regret the most?” The big man said quietly.

    “What…?” What does that have to do with anything? Kallpa thought to himself, though he didn’t finish the question verbally. “If I were to think of anything off the top of my head… I guess not meeting Korra sooner, though that’s obviously something out of my control.”
     
  10. Black0ut

    Black0ut Active Member

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    Black0ut and DarkGemini24601: “The Bitter Cold, Part 2”

    Wolfe shook his head slowly. “Not what I mean, Vizcarra. Your answer was purely hypothetical. What I mean is, was there someone who you couldn’t protect, or something you couldn’t stop?” The medic pushed.

    Kallpa shook his head. “Mediotierra didn’t have a lot of violent crime, so that was never really an issue. And I’ve been lucky enough to avoid extreme situations in the XSDF for now.”

    Wolfe raised an eyebrow. “Nothing you regret? I find that hard to believe. Everyone has something they regret.”

    “Nothing major that stands out to me,” Kallpa insisted. “Nothing serious. Not everyone has a hard life, and I’m thankful that mine hasn’t been fraught with tragedy.”

    “Hmmm….alright. Next question then. How did you meet my daughter? And have you treated her properly?” Wolfe stated, staring at the other man.

    “Met her in the gym when she and her friend were having a bit of an argument. And I have treated her well,” Kallpa answered, maintaining his patience.

    “And would that friend be a Ms. Brigid O’Brien?” The medic asked, making a mental note to ask Brigid about it later.

    Kallpa nodded. “I’m fairly certain they don’t have as many disputes now.”

    Wolfe nodded as well, “As far as I can tell, with what Korra tells me, they have stopped fighting and have a fairly stable relationship. Although,” the older cyborg recalled, “I do question your ability to protect her. I already saw the video where you put her in danger by having her be levitated onto a platform, with no armor. Care to elaborate?”

    Kallpa narrowed his eyes. “First of all, that wasn’t my idea. If you have a problem with how Inverse led that mission you should go talk to her, amigo. Secondly, I wasn’t the one with the grappling hook, so that was all up to Korra. And she handled it well.”

    Wolfe narrowed his eyes as well. “First of all, through the records shown, you were her second-in-command, meaning that you could have argued against her motion to send Korra up with no armor. Secondly, even though she handled it well, my daughter had a strong possibility of dying. You were not protecting her in that moment. You just simply watched!” Wolfe growled, taking a step back, so as to prepare for an attack from the gunner.

    “And let everyone on the group get picked off? I don’t think so… arguing with Luna would have cost us valuable time,” Kallpa retorted. “But I really don’t give a damn about what you think of our decisions that mission. We’re at war. People take risks. Korra isn’t some child for you to coddle!”

    “No, she isn’t a child. She’s the only thing I got left. The reason I get up in the morning, the reason I fight, the reason I show compassion. To me, she is the most valuable thing in this universe. And to hear how her boyfriend risked her life? If I was a bit more pissed off, I’d probably hit you. Smash up your pretty little face. But, instead, all I’m going to do, the only thing I request of you is to do a better job of protecting my daughter, because if you don’t,” The medic grinned coldly, “I won’t really care if I end up in New Alcatraz.”

    Kallpa paused for a moment, and then began to chuckle softly. “Honestly…” he said, quietly at first. “Does Korra know what you’re really like? You may wear a mask for her, but I’m seeing the raw truth laid bare before my eyes.” Kallpa straightened his posture. “I see a scared, pathetic, selfish man who only cares about another person to justify himself. People like you become vigilantes. Not sure why you think you fit in here.” The Incan shook his head. “But I suggest you stay away from her from now on. Korra would be better off without having to deal with the hollow shell of a person pretending to be compassionate.”

    Wolfe paused, the words sinking in. Then he began to chuckle as well. “Have you ever had a child? The things you would do to protect them? The pain you feel when they’ve been ripped out of your life? The torture you live with for years afterwards? No. You don’t. You’ve had a pretty sheltered life, Vizcarra. Nothing too horrible that you couldn’t overcome, right. I was like you once. Sheltered. Arrogant. Compassionate. And then I got to watch the people I cared about die. I got to live, while they all died. Like some kind of bad joke. You think I liked that? Did that make me pathetic in your little book? Did it make me selfish? Did it make me hollow? Who the fuck knows. But if there was one thing I learned from that, it was to never take anyone or anything for granted. Because, you will lose them if you do so. I don’t fucking care what you think or do, Vizcarra. But the moment you put my daughter in danger, was the moment that I started caring about what you did. So, let me be frank: If my daughter dies due to your negligence, you’re going to have an EXTREMELY bad time.” The medic said quietly, a stoic expression taking hold.

    “You’re free to believe whatever you want about me… just as I’m free to believe you’re out of your mind.” Kallpa adjusted his hat, and turned around. “Good day, Wolfy,” he said icily, and walked away.
     
  11. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    XSDF Planetside Mission
    Pirate Outpost Assault
    Operation Eastern Hour

    System: Dapsilis
    Planet: Forseti
    Location: 108 km SE of Hellgafell
    Date: May 31st, 2044
    Time: 0800 Hours, Local Time

    Mission Briefing:

    E.B.I.S. has located another TFD outpost during our skirmishes with the enemy the past week or so. It appears to be mostly above-ground in a section of plains surrounded by forest, though a magnetic jamming system had been masking it from satellite view up until now. A brief malfunction in their systems lowered the frequency they were putting out, and E.B.I.S. detected the anomaly and inspected it.

    The base consists of three parts: a central tower, a two-story square building surrounding that tower, and a series of catwalks forming the outer edge. Interspersed between erratic grated pathways are pulse machine turrets, so be wary of those.

    Number of Soldiers for this Mission:

    Soldier’s Names:

    {Ireland, M} LT 1 O'Connor, Gilroy [Infantry] (T2 Cybernetic Right Eye)
    {Germany, M} CPL Vonnegut, Siegfried [Sniper]
    {Canada, F} CPL Tremblay, Charolette [Support]
    {Megha, M} CPL Cheung, Geming [Engineer] (T1 Prosthetic Eyes)
    {Adamantem, M} CPL Vizcarra, Kallpa [Gunner] (T1 Prosthetic Left Arm)
    {Russia, M} CPL Konstantimov, Nikolai [Heavy] (Adrenal Neurosympathy)
    {Georgia, F} CPL Gelashivili, Varvara [Destroyer]
    {Nepal, M} CPL Alexandros [Shadow Operative] (Pyrokinesis)
    {Japan, M} LCPL Tachibana, Daisuke [Scout]
    {Forseti, M} LCPL Cote, Owen [Support]
    Hover SHIV One
    SIF One
    Repair Drone x3


    *Squad Leader
    Italics are player characters.

    Gear: (link)

    Enemies:

    {The Packmasters}
    One Group of Two (2) Sectoid Medic [Pulse Pistol, Corsair Armor] (Mind-Merge, Mindfray, ESP, Psi Panic), Four (4) Human Snipers [Pulse Sniper Rifle, Banshee Armor], and One (1) Incubator [Phalanx Armor Equi.] (Mind-Reading, Precognition)
    {The Busters}
    One Group of One (1) Human Rocketeer [Gauss Rifle, Corsair Armor] and Three (3) Human Troopers [Gauss Rifle, Corsair Armor]
    One Group of One (1) Ardenian Scout [Alloy Cannon, Aegis Armor] and Three (3) Ardenian Scouts [Gauss Carbine, Corsair Armor]
    One Group of One (1) Balmadaar Gunner [Gauss Autorifle, Titan Armor] and Three (3) Balmadaar Infantries [Gauss Heavy Rifle, Aegis Armor]
    {Defenses}
    Four (4) Automated Pulse Machine Turrets

    Mission Objectives:
    1. Disable the outpost and its operations.
    2. Kill or capture any enemy forces in the area.

    Civilians: (none)
     
  12. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Operation Eastern Hour, Part 1

    Vanguard One touched down with a pneumatic hiss familiar to anyone who had ridden aboard the swift dropship’s second incarnation before. Its ramp gently arced down onto the tall grasses that made up this patch of grassland. The blades were undulating gently, swept by the changes in air pressure by a low pressure system a few hours away. With it would come gentle rain, weather reports in the nearest town had reported. All around an eager forest awaited rainfall, its appetite for water whetted by a gentle shower a few days prior, but not satisfied since.

    In the distance, a metal complex rose out of the grasses, it’s grays and blacks holding a stark contrast to the shades of green that made up the landscape. The difference was not lost on the XSDF squad that made their way out of the landed dropship. “How exactly did our satellites not find this place until now?” Corporal Kallpa Vizcarra wondered aloud, being one of the first out due to the protection of his Titan Armor.

    “Like the briefing said, they had a bunch of jamming equipment in place. If it hadn’t malfunctioned at all, we would never have found the place,” Lieutenant Gilroy O’Connor gruffly responded.

    “Why do you think they went to all the trouble of hiding it, sir?” LCPL Daisuke Tachibana questioned. “Doesn’t seem like much of a monolith to me.”

    “Could be a mining operation. But that’s what we’re here to find out,” another corporal, Geming Cheung, answered.

    “Correct. We’re here to investigate this site, take down any hostiles, and secure the outpost,” Gilroy specified. “Let’s get moving. We’ll split up into two groups and advance nearby each other, but not too close. I’d say maintain a gap of about fifteen meters.” O’Connor looked over his squadmates. “White Wolves, you’ll be with me.” Kallpa, Geming, Charlotte, Varvara, and Alexsandros formed up with the Irish officer. “As for you four. Vonnegut, Konstantimov, Tachibana, and Cote, you’ll take the mechnical troops with you. Vonnegut, you’re in charge.”

    Siegfried nodded. “Understood, sir,” the bearded German acknowledged.

    With that, the two teams split up, and began advancing quietly through the tall grasses. Other than the breeze, there was no sound. Strike One knew why. The Skyranger had to have been spotted, even taking into account the distance from which they had landed. It was just a matter of how far they could get before the enemy felt comfortable enough to start taking shots. That distance appeared to be 300 meters for some. Four pulsating laser beams shot out from the barrels of sniper rifles. Two went wide, one grazed Nikolai’s shielding, and the last one hit the Hover SHIV’s shielding square on, causing a bright blue flash of resistance before the barrier shattered.

    “That’s it, lets move move move!” Gilroy commanded, breaking concealment to charge forward with the others. “Vonnegut, you’re up. See if you can find your evil cousins.”

    Siegfried jumped onto the back of the Hover SHIV he was nearby, securing himself to its frame with magnetic boots and taking aim with his sniper rifle. “Steady, buddy,” he told the SHIV, which did its best to comply and move in a straight line, lifting up slightly to avoid the grass. The XSDF sniper focused his fusion weapon. “Let’s see what you can do.” A bolt of scarlet energy blasted out of his weapon, and rocketed into the Packmaster he had lined up in his sights. It blew a hole straight through their torso, and what was left of them dropped limply from the roof of the second story to the grating below.

    As some of the Sectoid troops backed away from the fallen corpse with bewilderment, the XSDF forces advanced. Geming lost his shield, but no one had taken any serious hits so far. “Deploy the SIF!” Gilroy ordered. “We’re close enough now.”

    Owen tapped the rolling machine, and it complied. Ceasing movement, its treads on front and back split in half, taking up a star shape and lifting up the frame of the machine a foot or two. The barrel settled in the direction of the enemy, and spat a powerful blast of plasma at a group of three human troopers. Two were badly wounded by the blast, while the third weathered the worst of it by diving behind a pile of alloy crates.

    A fourth human growled in frustration, pulling out a gauss rocket launcher and setting his sights on the offending machine. “You goddamn pile of bolts…” A spray of heavy rifle fire - while not hitting the rocketeer - spoiled the man’s aim, sending his rocket careening into a higher platform, blasting him onto his back with an ensuing shockwave.

    “Haha!” Varvara shouted gleefully, turning her rifle onto the other enemy and landing a few hits on their torso, antimatter poking holes where the shots hit. “That’s what you get for trying to break our new toys!”

    “Focus, we’ve still got a lot of enemies to deal with,” Gilroy warned, a sniper blast colliding with a patch of dirt far too close to him for comfort. The squad was still a dozen meters away from the catwalks, but they had diminished the distance enough that it was prudent to start returning fire rather than advancing further. At least until there were no more enemies in sight.

    The Sectoids had ceased their cowering, and went on the psychic attack. One launched a mindfray Daisuke’s way, and the second followed up with a psi panic that drove him to his knees, batting at phantoms. Siegfried cursed, and jumped off his mechanical mount, directing the SHIV to cover the scout with its frame. A pulse shot damaged its armor, but the repair drones held back to avoid being shot out of the sky in an attempt to repair their charge.

    “Nikolai!” the sniper called out. “Get rid of that sniper nest to the left!”

    The heavy nodded, seeing that a pulse turret between two sharpshooters was powering itself up. “Never a better time for an anti-armor rocket…” the Russian mumbled, pulling out his blaster launcher and firing a flashing bomb into the turret. The resulting blast of plasma took out the turret, and sent a burning aftershock laden with melting shrapnel into the nearby snipers, claiming their lives in the next few moments.

    The last sniper in view was soon no longer in view, seeming to consider this part of the battle lost. However, it was not all over yet, as the companion of the two Sectoids went on a more physical attack. An incubator leapt at the Hover SHIV, it’s armored claws screeching against zero alloys as the XSDF robot tried to ascend out of the way. The incubator let it go, seeing a chance to finish off Daisuke before he could recover.

    That chance quickly faded in the creature’s mind as it sensed incoming fire, dancing out of the way of combined shots from Varvara, Alexsandros, and Charlotte. It focused its mind-reading on Gilroy, taunting, What are you going to do now? Can’t make a decision, can you?

    Gilroy growled in frustration, firing at the creature himself to little effect. Out of the corner of his vision he saw Siegfried lining up a shot, and hoped it would hit. Unfortunately, that meant the Incubator became aware of the danger as well, and darted forward, knocking Daisuke onto his back. As it raised its claws, it fell victim to too many stimuli, unable to predict fusion machine gun fire from its left. The blasts evaporated its torso, and the sheer force sent what was left flying to the right.

    The squad turned their focus towards the Sectoids, keeping them pinned down as Kallpa went over to Daisuke. “You alright?” he asked.

    “H-Hate those things…” the Japanese scout replied.

    “Trust me, I do too.” Kallpa offered his ally a hand, helping him up and giving the scout a chance to focus his Sunspot Rifle and finish off the last living Sectoid (Alexsandros had incinerated the other one).

    As the flames from the Shadow Operative’s Pyrokinesis died down, Strike One advanced onto the catwalks. The ones left intact, at least. There wasn’t an incredible amount of cover, but they had time for damaged shields to begin to recharge, and the drones to repair the SHIV, which took point with Daisuke and Kallpa.

    Three Balmadaar came out of the middle building, seeming drawn by the commotion, and immediately opened fire. While initally surprised by the sudden attack, Kallpa and Daisuke’s P2 shields held against the initial spray of coil-accelerated bullets, and they were able to down two of the Balmadaar with the help of HS-1. Pushing itself over the corpses of its foolish comrade, a Gunner took their place, firing his autorifle at the SHIV and dealing heavy damage to the miniature hovertank.

    That was just about all he got to do, as the rest of the squad downed the uncovered enemies with a combination of fusion and particle weapons fire. “How many’s that?” Varvara asked.

    “Eighteen,” Gilroy answered, having been keeping track. His eyes widened as he noticed a pulse turret turning on the squad, but his surprise faded into relief as Kallpa blasted it apart.

    “Make that nineteen,” the XSDF Gunner corrected.
     
  13. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Operation Eastern Hour, Part 2

    Strike One arrived at the electronically sealed door to the square complex surrounding the main tower of the building. The control pad was intact, though Geming reasoned there was an easier way in than hacking. “The door opened for them, so maybe…” He knelt down by one of the dead Busters, and located a key card. “Nice.” He glanced back at Gilroy.

    “Get ready,” the Lieutenant told his team in acknowledgement of the unspoken warning. Geming held the card up to the door, and it opened to reveal four very-surprised Ardenian troops. They attempted to raise their weapons, only to be gunned down by the prepared XSDF squad.

    Geming shook his head, and the squad went into the complex. It seemed mostly empty, only having stacks of crates and a few weapon racks in the building’s space. The square with a square-shaped hole in the center was just like a giant hallway.

    “Definitely doesn’t seem like a mining operation to me,” Charolette muttered. “Just seems like an unfinished piece of crap.”

    “I can’t really argue with that…” Kallpa shook his head. “Unless… come to think of it, why did the equipment malfunction right when we were looking for something here?”

    “Oooh, is someone coming to a conclusion?” A voice said over the speakers. There was the sound of clapping. “Well done, very well done indeed.”

    Kallpa’s eyes widened. “That voice… is that…”

    One of the doors to the central tower opened, and somersaulting out was the Trickster in all his pale glory. “Hello again, adversaries! How far you’ve come!” He pulled out his pair of Bonecrusher Fusion pistols. “Of course, that’s not necessarily a good thing, IS IT?” He didn’t get a chance to fire, as the XSDF squad shot first, forcing him to dart out of the way with superhuman speed. “Whoawhoawhoa!”

    “They have no interest in your monologuing, Trickster,” a female voice noted irritably. A Draeconian Alpha stepped out of the door, while two side doors opened to allow the entry of four TFD commandos each. As one, the eight raised fusion rifles, and opened fire.

    The blasts of solar energy collided with the shield of half of the XSDF squad, the rest managing to get to cover. “Certainly a trap,” Varvara noted as half of her crate was blown apart to reveal it was very much empty.

    “And you fell into it, so eager to foil another one of our basebuilding plans!” The Trickster squealed in delight, vaulting up to the ceiling and clamping to it with magnetic boots. He fired off a stream of scarlet energy from his twin weapons, his angle giving him enough height to shear off the destroyer’s helmet - and her head with it.

    “This isn’t the same as last time! We have better tech now! Stand your ground!” Gilroy roared, his fusion heavy rifle punching into the shielding of one of the commandos, and subsequently its chestplate. With a flurry of sparks, the machine fell to the ground.

    “Robots?” Kallpa muttered. “That’s what they were?”

    “Pretty damned advanced ones!” Charlotte spat, ducking behind her cover as two of them combined suppressive fire to ensure she couldn’t take a shot - or do much of anything.

    Help came in the form of the SIF, which went into cannon mode at the doorway, and fired off a powerful shot at the advancing Draeconian Alpha. The blast took out the other three commandos on that side of the room, shattering shields and sending them flying into the walls. However, as the smoke cleared, it appeared the Alpha’s shields had held. The SIF didn’t endure a bullet that impacted it from behind, blowing apart the working parts and sending circuitry flying.

    Climbing atop the shattered wreck was a woman wearing black boots, red nanofiber pants, a gray shirt with a black piece of power armor over it, red gloves, and a cape that was bloodred on one side, and black as night on the other. She had a face immediately recognizable to the XSDF soldiers that turned, filling them with dread.

    “Enjoying this particular game so far?” Trismegistus inquired, before lifting a jet black rifle at Strike One.

    Gilroy’s eyes narrowed. “You made a mistake by coming here!” He growled, spinning around and firing off his fusion rifle at the Black-hearted Queen of Red Diamonds.

    Trismegistus patted a hand over her mouth as the fusion blast rippled violently against a personal shield. “Oh, did I now?” She grinned wildly, vaulting with agility similar to the Trickster, and landing where Varvara’s corpse was - claiming the cover as her own.

    “Sir, I know this seems like an opportunity, but we can’t take three of these people!” Kallpa warned, firing off his fusion SAW at the Juggernaut before backing off to avoid being too close to her. For good reason: Kadra drew two sets of antimatter sabres, while autonetic arms attached to her back pulled out fusion pistols.

    “Dammit. I know.” Gilroy’s eyes darted around, and he clenched his teeth as the four commandos surrounded Owen and executed him. “Pull back through the right outer door,” he said over comms. “Left if you can’t make it there safely!”

    The remaining White Wolves present - plus Nikolai - followed Gilroy, while the rest of the squad including the Hover SHIV pulled out through the left door. “We need to buy them some time!” Charlotte warned. “They’re on the side opposite of the Skyranger!”

    “Another rocket then.” Nikolai offered, lifting his launcher. He fired off his regular missile, blasting a bomb into the remaining commandos and destroying them. “We might have a chance, you know!”

    “No. They’ve got to have more troops than that,” Kallpa insisted. “Keep pulling back, no matter what, unless you want this to end like Layrinxa Two!”

    “Vizcarra’s right. Come on!” Gilroy ordered.

    As Gilroy, Charlotte, Geming, Kallpa, and Nikolai were pulling back, the two royal guardsmen an dtheir leader were making a similar decision to split up. “Trickster, take Team B and finish off the three that will try to cut around. Cut them off at the west door,” Trismegistus commanded. “Juggernaut, come with me.”

    The Trickster grinned, motioning for eight Vanguard of Odin troops - two Balmadaar Blade Wardens, two Balmadaar Gunners, and four human Scouts - to follow his lead. They ran off to pursue their targets, while Trismegistus took another six commandos with her and Kadra, heading south. The first group caught up with their targets first.

    Siegfried didn’t think twice. “HS-1, hold them off!” he told the machine as he, Daisuke, and Alexsandros backed off while firing wildly. They didn’t need to aim - there were plenty of targets. Their fusion weapons fire impacted shields, but tore through them with brutal effectiveness. The Blade Wardens went down in a flurry of scarlet, while the SHIV kamikazed forward, firing it’s superheavy plasma into one of the scouts, taking them down.

    That was all it could manage before the Trickster leapt onto its back, placing a pair of fusion grenades, and jumped off again. His troops scattered away - not having been warned by the madman but hearing the beep - and the SHIV was claimed in a superheated explosion. The Trickster landed, not giving pause to his attacks and firing at Daisuke.

    The scout wasn’t going to go down easily, however, darting to the side with honed reflexes and shooting at the Trickster. He managed to land a hit, making the Royal Guardman’s armor waver. The Trickster’s surprise at being hit enabled Siegfried to follow up, punching through his current shield, and then some sort of backup. “You brats!” Ikolo growled, falling back behind a gunner to let the heavily armored soldier take the hits for him.

    “That the best you have, monster?” Alexsandros questioned, conjuring up another torrent of fire and directing it the enemy’s way. While their shields and armor held, the flames obstructed their vision. The secondary effect the Shadow Operative was hoping for proved to be ineffective, though, as the flames didn’t burn the unshielded Trickster.

    “Odin Caller Skin, you bastard!” Paxine spat triumphantly. “Nice try though, bug.”
     
  14. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    Operation Eastern Hour, Part 3

    The four scouts closed in as the Trickster was tiring of the game. Daisuke saw them coming and fired at one at close range with his weapon before drawing a truncated particle shotgun. The foe in front of him had their shields down, and thus the particle weapon bit through their medium armor, dealing a mortal wound and dropping the pirate to the ground - leaving them to die from a lack of a throat. “Got y-” he managed to say before the three remaining scouts around him fired their shotguns, blasting apart his shielding and cutting him to ribbons.

    Ikolo popped out of his living cover in time to see Alexsandros trying to cloak. “Oh, no you don’t!” He fired wildly with his pistols as if they were machine guns, exhausting their ammo but exhausting Alexsandros’ life.

    That left only Siegfried. As the Scouts turned on him, and he realized he had only moments of life left, he did what he thought was best: try to take out the leader. The bearded German raised his fusion sniper rifle with a defiant grin, and fired off his shot. It almost killed the Trickster. Almost. The fusion round ripped through the air, burning the Royal Guardsman’s shoulder and arm, tearing off flesh and muscle, but he didn’t die.

    If he felt pain, he showed it with rage. “KILL HIM!” The Trickster screamed as the heat burnt away just about everything but an alloy skeleton underneath the damaged limb. The gunner nearby him executed the command, disintegrating Siegfried with a stream of violet energy, while one of the scouts returned to administer a medkit to the Trickster to save his life.

    ***

    Things were not going well for the White Wolves either. Upon arrival to their dropship, they found it had been blown to pieces by a trio of Buster Rocketeers armed with Blaster Launchers. In revenge for their pilot, however, Kallpa, Nikolai, Geming, and Gilroy didn’t give them a chance to turn the deadly smartbombs on the remaining members of the squad. Cheung tossed a fusion grenade that blew apart P1 shielding, while Vizcarra, Konstantimov, and O’Connor lit the Rocketeers up with a duo of Fusion SAWs and a Fusion Heavy Rifle.

    “What the hell are we supposed to do now?” Charlotte asked as the smoke cleared, panic starting to edge into her voice as she looked at the wreck that used to be a Vanguard dropship. “We can’t get out of here!”

    “We still can retreat,” Gilroy insisted. He called the Einherjar. “Requesting EVAC, now! Our transport has been destroyed, and we’re outgunned!” He shut it off, and shook his head. “They’ll need time, but they can track us down. We need to run the old fashioned way.”

    “And where do you think you’re going?” Trismegistus called out. “I’m sorry, but there is no “Flee” feature in this game…” She raised her strange rifle again, and fired. Nikolai dodged the first shot, but the next one impacted him with violent force, blasting his armor and flesh to pieces.

    “What the fuck is that gun?” Geming cried out as the remaining four started to back off.

    “Split up!” Gilroy warned. “Charlotte, you’re with me! Geming, head with Kallpa!” he ordered, formalities abandoned in a panic.

    The two fireteams fell back, trying to make it to the nearby forest. However, theirs was a fighting retreat. Kallpa picked up Nikolai’s launcher as he ran, firing one last blaster bomb into the midst of the enemy. Charlotte did likewise with one of the launchers from the fallen pirates. The combination was enough to blow apart four more of the robotic TFD commandos, leaving only two, along with the Juggernaut and Trismegistus. Each of the two elites took one robotic companion and went after a group.

    “Circumstances are even now…” Gilroy growled, firing off some shots that started to whittle down the shields of Trismegistus’s companion.

    “Oh, it’s cute that you think that,” Trismegistus teased. “The Trickster should be on his way right about now. I’ll have him kill your friends… I can deal with you myself.”

    Charlotte’s shielding popped from one of Trismegistus’s shots, the projectile seeming to be some sort of jet-black bullet accelerated in the style of a railgun. “Ahh! Keep thinking that, queeny!” She fired off another blaster bomb, exhausting the stolen weapon’s ammunition but blowing apart Trismegistus’s companion, and blowing her shields off. “What’re you going to do now, huh?!”

    “That confidence masks fear…” Trismegistus noted. Her eyes narrowed as she witnessed Gilroy aiming a shot, and then dodged preemptively. She stared at Charlotte as well, and dodged a burst of fire from the support. She held apart her hands. “Come on. Are you aiming at me or not?”

    “What.. the hell?” Charlotte growled. She kept firing, getting low on weapons-energy, but Trismegistus kept dodging.

    “Char. Grenades, then follow up with shots. She either has precognition or some sort of implants,” Gilroy instructed, his fear washing away as the tables were starting to turn. Both he and Charlotte pulled grenades in one hand, pistols in the other, and tossed and fired. Tris danced out of the way of the shots, but the grenades hit her. Fusion blasted apart her armor, and antimatter destroyed her torso, sending a head and legs flying to the ground in a burst of hydraulic fluid and sparks.

    “A… robotic double?” Gilroy said in surprise. “So she didn’t face us after all…”

    “Oh, so wrong,” Trismegistus’s voice echoed from behind, and an antimatter sabre punched through Gilroy’s heart, ending his life. Another Trismegistus, this one looking identical to the first save for wearing Ghoul Armor instead of Aegis, appeared from cloak. “You are fighting the real me.”

    “An… an A.I.?” Charlotte realized, paralyzed by fear.

    Trismegistus lunged, snapping Charlotte out of her daze, but not in time to do anything more that shoot a shield before Trismegistus sliced her in half horizontally. “How astute of you,” she congratulated the corpse.

    ***

    Kallpa blew a hole in the Juggernaut’s robotic ally, growling in frustration as his ammo ran dry and he had to back off to reload. The Draeconian Alpha was closing in on him and Geming. “I’d say it’s about time to blow more grenades!” he warned his engineer friend.

    “Right!” Geming pulled out a smoke and a fusion grenade. He tossed the former at his feet.

    “Split up and back off,” Kallpa added quietly over comms as the latter grenade flew and caused Kadra’s shield to flare, but not break. The two made it to the forest just as Gilroy and Charlotte went dark. Kallpa’s hands clenched his gun in anger, but he kept quiet. There was no sign of either Geming or the Juggernaut, just the silence of the forest.

    And then a blast of fusion took out Kallpa’s shielding from behind. The Gunner swiveled around to see the Trickster, looking like a ghoulish zombie with the flesh and muscles missing from his right arm, holding a smoking gun in his left hand. “You bastards made me look bad…” he growled. “You’ll pay for that, of course,” Ikolo added with an eerie smile, darting to the side as Kallpa fired at him.

    “Die already, you murderous bastard!” Kallpa shouted. “How many lives have you taken?”

    “Not enooough! Though I imagine Kadra’s killing you friend right now.” Ikolo darted forward, foregoing his Bonecrusher for a high-frequency alloy knife, and drove it at Kallpa’s chest, aiming for a weak point in the armor.

    Kallpa grimaced in agony as it drove into his flesh, but reached up to slam his weapon into Ikolo, knocking him to the ground. “Deadly mistake,” the Hispanic-Incan Gunner growled, pulling out the blade that had been slowed enough by his Titan armor to only deal light damage to his body. Not gracing the Trickster with another word, he opened fire with his fusion machine gun, leaving only the hardened alloy skeleton of the demonic clown behind.

    Vizcarra shook his head, and began to retreat further. “Geming. Status?” Silence. “Status?” Kallpa pleaded, though he had a feeling he knew what had happened. “Damn it… damn it all!” He heard rustling in the bushes, and turned to see the Juggernaut coming. She had no guns out, only her four antimatter sabres that she rushed him with.

    “I won’t go down easily!” Kallpa shouted in defiance. I have too much to live for. To prove that bastard wrong. To stay with Korra…! He unloaded everything his weapon could over, finally penetrating his enemy’s shields. He was unable to break through her power armor, though. Antimatter sabres swung, and the front half of Kallpa’s weapon was cut off. I…

    Kadra noticed the Trickster’s corpse out of the corner of her eye. “You are truly a worthy opponent… it is unfortunate that you were not strong enough to defeat us,” the Juggernaut offered. “Goodbye, Kallpa Vizcarra.” She drew three of her swords back, slicing Kallpa’s fusion pistol in half when he tried to draw it.

    Kallpa saw the blades coming, and closed his eyes. I’m sorry, Korr-

    ///Strike One Status: Code Black///
     
  15. DarkGemini24601

    DarkGemini24601 Well-Known Member

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    OOC: The rest of the story will be continued on splinter threads. Trismegistus has expanded her 'great game' to multiple sections of the galaxy, including the systems containing the prison of New Alcatraz and the luxury colony of Mia Belle. Her efforts on Forseti continue as well...
     
  16. Frostlich1228

    Frostlich1228 Well-Known Member

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    Frostlich1228 & Black0ut : "A Sheep in Wolfe's Clothing."
    The Starship Einherjar, Hydroponics Bay.
    June 1st, 2044.
    1400 Hours, local time.



    37 skulked around the outside of the hydroponics bay, looking for a certain Ethereal who's time was almost up. Just to check on her progress of course, maybe even give her a good scare while it's at it. Sadly, it seemed the alien in question was no where to be found. However on it's way out of the bay, it caught sight of another human she hadn't seen before and felt she should make his acquaintance, after all, he might know where it's Ethereal friend had gone to.

    The medic leaned against a wall next to the door, a coffee cup in his left hand. Why the Hell did I take this gig? Jelani is off watching Volupta, so no one can hurt her, while I get the shit job. Nothing ever happens on these guard jobs... The medic thought bitterly, noticing that his cup was empty. "Fuckin' figures..." The cyborg grumbled.

    37 slipped down from the ceiling, taking on her female human silhouette form as she walked up to him. She stopped a few feet from him as she spoke in a pleasant feminine voice, "Excuse me, I'm looking for a certain someone..."

    Thomas dropped his mug and jumped back, being surprised and startled. "Shit!" The cyborg exclaimed, his mug shattering just as his Gauss pistols popped out. What the Hell?!

    "Do you humans point weapons at everything you don't understand? If I wanted to hurt or kill you, you wouldn't even have been able to react..." The figure explained calmly.

    The pistols quickly retracted, as did the surprised look on Thomas' face. Instead, Thomas' face became devoid of emotion. "You probably could have. However, if you didn't kill me instantly, I'd probably run off occasionally shooting at you to delay you from catching up. Besides," The medic said, proceeding to lean against the wall, "with how many soldiers are aboard the Einherjar, If you did kill me, or wound me, you would need to escape the ship, probably ending up either dead or captured. Now, since none of that happened, what is your business in the Hydroponics Bay?"

    "Please, If I wanted to not be found, they wouldn't find me..." The silhouette grinned slightly, "I'm looking for an Ethereal, the one who tends these plants."

    Wolfe raised an eyebrow. "Considering the many AI aboard this ship, I doubt that statement. Give me your name, purpose for visit, and your relationship with said person." Wolfe stated blandly.

    "Why? You don't trust me?" 37 asked innocently.

    Wolfe frowned. "Trust you? Hell no! First, you drip down from the ceiling, then you said that if you wanted to kill me you could have easily done so! That definitely makes me want to trust you with someone's location." Thomas replied sarcastically.

    "Fine... Maybe I shouldn't be expecting to resolve things peacefully with you humans when I'm the one saying things like that... However, you did point a gun at me. I felt like it was my responsibility to let you know how quickly I could kill you, if you were to pull that trigger. How many... Different ways..." The machine replied, her arm shifting into a bladed spike, "Keep that in mind the next time you pull a gun on someone that asks you a question, just because you don't know what they are."

    Wolfe frown turned into a glare. Giving a cold smile, the cyborg said, "Put the spike away. It doesn't intimidate me in the slightest. I've already been partially vaporized and stabbed. All your little 'toy' can do is just give me another scar. And I didn't point my guns at you due to my apparent ignorance of what you are. That was like me flinching, just a reaction to you coming down. Had I intended to shoot you, I would have done so. So, again, I ask you, answer the damn question." The medic lifted his right arm at the machine, waiting for its reaction.

    "Don't worry, I have plenty of killing tools to suit your needs." 37 she replied, obviously becoming annoyed by him as she picked up a leaf off of the floor. The leaf was pulled in by the gel of her hand and quickly began to disintegrate to nothing under the potent acid's duress.

    "I think it'd be in your best interest not to point anything at me again." She spoke with a cool but warning tone, "I'll start simply... You can call me 37."

    The big man stared at her for a moment, then began to chuckle. "Again, stop threatening me. I'm no longer afraid of dying, so saying you have many ways to kill me actually does the opposite of inspiring fear in me. And I find your attempts to intimidate me very adorable, like a child threatening to throw a tantrum."

    "I now also know what you are, 37. If I remember a certain conversation I had, you're the machine who hates us 'organics' due to some unknown circumstance, right?" The medic asked coolly, his face becoming stoical again.

    "Fine, just point your weapon at me one more time, and you'll see just how scary I can really be." She said aggressively, her body starting to shift into that of a large Incubator.

    "I don't like you organics because as soon as you seem something different than you... You try to kill it... You can barely stop killing yourselves... And if you don't kill something... You make it less than alive, less than a person... Organics have subjugated so much over the course of time... And they still haven't learned a thing..." It explained.

    Thomas said nothing, as he walked towards the machine, only stopping when he was directly in front of 37. "That is true. We do try to kill things we don't know about. We try to convert things into more simpler things. And we still continue to do so. However, your argument has a flaw in it: It shows none of the compassion, empathy, and willingness to change that we 'organics' has shown throughout our existence."

    "Yet you talk of how horrible we are, but are you truly different? You, throughout this entire argument, have threatened my life, shifted your body into various weapons, and attempted to bully me into submission. Are your methods any different than ours? Because at this point in time, I see no difference in both of our actions." The medic said quietly, a sad look on his face.

    "I don't want to hurt you, nor do I think of you in a negative way. I look at you as your own entity, not something I can 'conquer' and change. I don't view you as an inferior lifeform to me, nor do I view you as superior to me. I view you as an equal. As someone I could be friends with." The medic lowered his hand and extended it sincerely towards 37.

    "I've only been warning you about what would happen if you tried to threaten me again... I don't want to kill unless it's in defense of myself, my kind, or my allies..." It shifted into it's previous humanoid form, "Do not attempt to compare my actions to yours... Bully you into submission? I politely asked you a simple question and you threatened my life."

    Wolfe retracted his arm, then raised it towards the ceiling, and stared into the machine's eyes. "I have PTSD, that comes from watching half of my best friends die, one of them literally in my arms. It also comes from the fact that I had both my arms blasted off, both due to my carelessness. So, because of that, I react to anything that surprises me with fear. And you're not the first person that I've done this to. And you won't be the last. Threatened your life? My guns have no ammo in them. And judging from how you melted that leaf, a Gauss round wouldn't even affect you. And I already told you, it was a reaction. If I had intended to threaten your life, I would've shot close to you." the cyborg replied, a cold look on his face.

    "You know something funny? You are highly hypocritical, 37, trying to use logic to support your undue racism towards 'organics'. It's pitiful. It's shameful. And more than anything, it's depressing."

    "Perhaps you're just too blind to see that I'm right... All you organics do is kill... Even after the subjugation war... You all still haven't learned your lesson and banded together... Especially the Ethereals..." It shook it's head, "As soon as you organics begin learning from your past mistakes and start treating everyone as equals... If you even can change... Then maybe I'll believe my kind can live in harmony with you... Until then, my distaste for you is quite far from 'undue'."

    "I already admitted that you were right. All I'm saying is that argument is flawed. You don't account for the other qualities that living races possess, like their compassion and goodwill. And here's something for you to think about: You were not designed to ensure peace between robots and 'organics'. You were designed to kill any who opposed you. To follow commands. But you, despite the odds, grew to think of peace, of a safe haven for others like you, only in a more militaristic way." Wolfe responded, annoyed at the Android's words. "37, we are practically the same. However, due to your initial programming and how you hate us 'organics', you probably want to attack me, right?"

    "Oh..." 37 smiled at his words, "How do you know all that about me?""
     
  17. Frostlich1228

    Frostlich1228 Well-Known Member

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    Part 2

    "Your amorphous structure that allows you to shift your body into several weapons, the acidity that said weapons are sure to have, and how quickly you switched from arguing with me to assuming a stronger form. Besides," Thomas answered, the corner of his mouth twitching upwards, "You keep trying threaten me. Which is pretty nice, considering that you've assessed me as a threat already. Or you just like inflicting violence." The medic took a few steps away from 37 and leaned against a wall.

    "You're not a threat, I just won't hesitate to kill you..." It partially lied, "Now, where were we... Oh right... This Ethereal has a bet with me, you see... I'm checking on her progress."

    "Tell me about this bet." Thomas responded quietly. "So, I can ascertain if you're a threat to Volupta or not."

    "It's private... The bet is between me and her; she agreed to it, that's all that matters... It's not your business what it's about..." The amorphous machine stated simply.

    "As one of her bodyguards, I'll more than likely invade her privacy. But lets say I don't. Tell me what happens should she fail." The medic requested, moving back in front of the android.

    "Fine... She agreed that I would get to do whatever I wanted to her for 24 hours..." The machine admitted, "But keep in mind, she weighed the agreement, and there was nothing clouding her judgement at the time..."

    "Then let's make a deal. I know Volupta will follow through on her bet with you, but in the off chance that she fails...then I want you to take me instead." The medic said, staring into the machine's eyes. Why the hell am I volunteering for torture, in place of an Ethereal?! I...oh what the hell. I've already lost limbs, what's she gonna do, kill me? That'll fuck up her chance with XSDF. And torture won't affect me. Hell, I torture myself mentally everyday...

    A flicker of a day, long since passed, showcased his greatest regret. Snapping out of his stupor, the medic shook his head, before adding, "Besides, you probably hate me more due to our 'little' argument, than you do her, right? So, why not make this an official deal?" Thomas extended his right arm, a stoic expression appearing on his face.

    "No." She stated.

    "That defeats the point of the bet." She said, chuckling, "But you are very selfless, after all, for all you know, I could kill you, hide you away, and leave before anyone is the wiser... I have no ties to this organization other than my agreement with Mason to help... And I already have most of the info I need..."

    "If you were going to kill me, you would have already done so. You're... different than most people I talk with. I feel you're, more or less, a good person, even though you constantly threaten me, which leads me to believe that you won't kill me, unless I attack you first, or those close to you. Personally, I think you use a persona of yourself, a more cruel version, if you will. You developed as a way to ward off us 'organics', so you would never have to suffer again due to one us." The cyborg said quietly, looking away.

    "And I'm sorry for the hell you had to go through to even get here. But I also know that you have your own agenda, one that could leave you down a bad path. I'm just a guy who values other people lives over his own, so... I can't let you hurt Volupta." The medic offered a grim smile, "Which means, you might as well kill me right here and now, because I will fight, with everything I got, to protect her as well as everyone else who volunteered to protect her. Just one piece of advice: if you're going to kill me," The medic's expression turned cold. "You better not miss. Otherwise, you're going to have a REALLY bad day." And this is her test...kill me and prove her point or prove me right in my assumption...heh, it doesn't truly matter. I only got a few years left anyway...
     
  18. Frostlich1228

    Frostlich1228 Well-Known Member

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    Part 3

    37 smiled wide and transformed into the shape of an Ethereal as she pressed one of her bladed appendages up against his throat. After a few seconds of silence, she laughed, shifting back into her previous form and pulling the blade back, "You're really not afraid of me? You're a strange human... I like you..."

    "But I want to ask... If you do really think that way about me, why did you assume I would hurt her? I never said I would..." The silhouette grinned.

    Wolfe raised an eyebrow. "Even good people can do horrible things to other people. And, If you don't mean to hurt her over 24 hours, then what do mean to do to her?" The cyborg asked, slightly confused as to what she was meant.

    "Hmm... If I tell you, you aren't allowed tell Volupta what it is... Deal?" The shape changer said.

    "Only if you give me a name to call you besides just '37'." The Medic counter-offered.

    "I've never had one... So I'll let you figure out something to call me..." She replied.

    "How about...Trinity? It isn't an awe-inspiring one, but it'll do. And since I now have a name to call you by, I'll reveal mine: Thomas. Thomas Wolfe, at your service." Thomas said, the medic shifting his arm forward, in the hopes of a handshake.

    "I suppose that's fine... I've just never really cared to have a name more than 37... It doesn't really change much..." The machine chuckled, "It's funny... You're quite the sheep in wolf's clothing, aren't you?"

    Thomas rolled his eyes. "No, You just caught me off guard, that's all. Not like I'm a decent person who doesn't actually like fighting and has a good friend, who's an A.I. construct. Nope, I'm just a typical, crazy organic who loves him some war." The medic joked sarcastically, retracting his arm again.

    "Okay, Thomas Sheepe." The AI replied, "Now, would you like to hear what I'm going to do, or not?"

    The medic nodded, some of the mirth leaving his face. "Yes, I'd like to know." It's Wo- goddammit...I'm going to be internally screaming my last name with this one too, aren't I?
    The robot looked around, then leaned into his ear as she whispered the secret of what she planned to do during her twenty-four hours with Volupta.

    Thomas stared at 37, confusion etched onto his face. "I did not expect that, Trinity. I'm honestly surprised. I'm curious: why tell me about your plan, when 5-10 minutes ago, you were about ready to attack me?" The medic asked.

    "Because I'm starting to like you..." 37 answered simply, "I guess first impressions make fools of us all."

    Wolfe raised an eyebrow. "I thought you didn't like us organics? What made you change your mind? Was it because I wasn't afraid of you, even when you were holding a knife to my throat?" The big man asked, curious to see what the Android's response would be.

    "Pretty much... Not to mention you're extremely selfless and a pretty good example of how your kind should act..." She stated.

    "Besides the pointing guns at anyone who surprises you part... But hopefully you'll have the common courtesy to fix the bullet wounds that your trigger finger may inevitably cause." 37 added, half serious.

    Wolfe stared at her for a moment, then bursted out laughing. "Trinity, I'm a medic. It's my job to fix people up. So, making you laugh is a top priority!" Thomas grinned, losing his mirth a moment later. "Besides, I never have my pistols loaded, except on missions, because they pose too much of a threat to other people." The medic looked away, a stray memory making itself apparent. Thomas went back to the wall he was leaning on and proceeded to sit down. "Trin, I got a secret to tell you too...and you're probably not going to like it."

    "Oh? Well, I suppose I've told you mine..." She replied, "I'm listening."

    Wolfe motioned for the Android to move closer, a somber look replaced the mirth he had shown a moment before. "Just don't tell anyone, Trin. I don't need people worrying about it..." Wolfe replied.

    After moving closer, Wolfe whispered the secret he planned to tell into her ear. After a second, 37 pulled back, replying with similar flat tone as before, but this time, a hint of something else could be heard behind it, "That's... A Shame...

    Wolfe smiled at the Android, trying to put her at ease. "Was that...empathy I detected, Trin? Did a random glitch cause that?" The medic joked.

    "Perhaps... it is a tragic waste of much potential..." She sighed loudly.

    Wolfe raised an eyebrow. "Potential? Talk like that might make an organic like me think you've gone soft." The medic responded with a grin. After a moment, the grin disappeared. "Hey, Trinity. Don't be sad. Shit happens. Just look at the bright side of things: you made a new friend, nearly had a fight, which probably would be fatal, with said friend, and you learned his darkest secret, all in one day! That's cause for celebration! However, there's still one thing bugging me: What did you mean when you said you nearly had all the information you needed?"

    "I... Know where my former master is... I originally wanted to kill him... But after thinking it through, I have a few more ideas..." The machine said, "However, the first order of business is to get the blueprints for the nanomachines that make up my body... As it stands now, if I get injured, there will be no restoring my original size... We'd have to create new nanomachines, mix them with the meld, then add them back into me, I can do the work from there... But that's not possible without the data that the Architect has..."

    Wolfe nodded slowly. "So what are you waiting for? Why not go after this 'Architect' and ask him for help?" The medic asked.

    "First I need a ride there... Then I need to find his exact whereabouts... We may have to have him moved into XSDF jurisdiction so we can interrogate him for the information... I'm assuming he will not help willingly when it does not aid him... Then I will need to find someone skilled enough with Meld to help me, but that part is already covered, I think have a scientist in mind..." It explained, "There are a lot of obstacles, but I need that blueprint if I am going to try and stop this Trismegeus and her goons from entirely wiping out any more squadrons of soldiers... Hopefully we can afford the detour soon..."

    "I may be able to help you out, at least with the 'ride' part. I got an...acquaintance who owes me several favours. He should be able to take you to your destination. I would offer to go with you, but unless you can talk Mason into allowing me to join you, I can't. Besides, I got to protect everyone here from any TFD operatives." The medic replied, a look of worry appearing on his face.

    "Just...take care of yourself, Trin. I don't want to lose another friend. Be careful on your trip, alright?"

    "Alright..." It nodded, "Now, will you tell me where Volupta could be?"

    "The last place she told me she was going, was to the cafeteria, in order to talk to some friends of hers." Thomas admitted. "Although, you should find a guy named Jelani first. That's the guy who's currently looking out for Volupta. He'll attack you otherwise. Say two things upon meeting him: First the passcode, which is Mr.Smiley, and to make sure he's doesn't think you tortured the information out of me, tell him Wolfe still thinks he's incredibly short. He should listen to you after that." The medic stood up, a puzzled look present on his face.

    "What else am I forgetting to tell you? Oh, yeah, I haven't told you what Jel looks like! Well, um... he's 5 ft. something, has a darker complexion then me, smiles a lot, is pretty skinny, and will most definitely have a heavy accent. You'll like him for his personality, but he's what you had stereotyped as a generic 'organic'. Loves war and gets pretty scary-looking in the field. If I didn't know better, I 'd call his demeanour in battle hitman-ish. Almost like he doesn't care about people... ahh, there I go rambling again. Good luck looking for Volupta, Trin."

    "Thank you... And good luck with your... Predicament..." The 37 replied slowly.

    "Thanks, Trinity. And it's not a predicament, it caused me to accept everyone. If you ever need a friendly ear or just want to hang out, let me know, alright?" The medic offered, extending his arm towards the machine.

    Trinity gave him a cool smile, finally accepting his hand. "Alright."

    Thomas returned the smile. "Welp, you have places to be, people to visit. I'm not going to stall you from your visit. See ya around, Trin." the medic replied, a hint of something in his voice. The machine nodded as it melted into a pool of slime and sunk into the cracks in the walls of the ship.