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The Storm Is Set To Rise

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DarkTan

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Posts: 100

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Post Wed Sep 28, 2016 6:08 pm

A Day In the Life...

A day In the Life...

Location: About Tokyo
Timestamp:Villan o'clock
Characters: Kor, Disposable Thugs, Spys, etc. Bad Guy(tm)
Authors: DarkTan, Skorp



Kor sat up in his bed. The elderly man looked over at his alarm clock's hard, red LEDs: 03:44. He grumbled something about getting old and stood up, calming remaking the bed before donning his fuzzy pink slippers with a little piggy heads on them and shuffling off towards the restroom.

At 03:45 the apartment errupted in automatic gunfire. Six men were lined up in the hallway in two team of three to ensure that lead poured through the thin walls while the other team was reloading. Sixty seconds later a hand went up and the gunfire halted as suddenly as it had begun. There was a clatter of partialy emptied magazines hitting the floor as all six men reloaded thier weapons.

The leader raised his hand again and made several simple hand motions. Two men slung thier rifles and moved foreward. One drew a syringe from his vest while the other dropped a pistol in to a corner shot. A third man placed a breaching charge on the door and fired it.

The two operatives entered the apartment while the other four covered the doorway. They cleared rooms at they went, the corner shot (with regulation fluffy cat plushie attached) revealing them to be empty without putting the agents in harm's way. They had to step carefully around broken glass and porcelain from various pictures and vases that had been toppled and shattered by the hail of gunfire moments before.

Kor reached out from behind and plucked the syringe from the agent's hand, jabbing him in the neck with it and pulling the soon to be dead man's sidearm from it's holster and emptying it into his partner. "Always with the drugs," the retired agent muttered as he ducked away from the stream of automatic rife fire directed at the sounds of his own shooting.

He continued to mutter complaints about amateurs as he exited the window and climbed up the fire escape. From there is was a short trip to avoid the fireball that was about to eject the contents of his apartment, as well as the intruders, in to the night sky.

Kor paused and scowled at his watch before realizing it was fifteen seconds fast. This realization was brought on by the building shaking as the improvised proximity mine exploded. People should really learn to turn off thier bluetooth radios. Kor retireved a duffle bag, changed his clothes and resumed his chosen direction of travel. If he hurried, he could get breakfast at Anna Millers. Maybe chat with Mizuki about her current deep cover case. Unless of course she was also going to try to kill him.

She was a nice girl. He decided he wasn't positive that she wanted him dead, and if she did, he might go easy on her.

---

At priciesly 04:00, Kor entered Ana Miller's and took his favorite seat.

"<I'm supprised to see you hear,>" Mizuki said as she walked over.

"<Am I supposed to be dead?>" Kor asked, eyeing the waitresses hands.

"<Well, an open contract his the market today,>" She poured a glass of coffee that Kor promptly ignored, "<No price though.>"

"<You plan on negotiating?>" Kor asked, fingers twitching for his gun.

"<Nope, can't risk blowing my cover,>" Mizuki replied, "<HQ would have my head.>"

Kor sighed in relief and relaxed a little. Not much mind you, but a little. "<I'll have the usual.>"

---

At precusely 04:05 a Sikorsky UH-60 descended near a popular dining establishment known primarly for thier cute waitresses. After confiming the presense of the target to a 87% match, the call was made.

{"Confirmation recieved, engage."}

{"Copy that. You'll handle the breakage?"}

{"That's an affirmative."}

{"Roger that, engaging."}

The twin 12.7 millimeter GAU-17 gatling guns began to spool up before erupting in to two streams of hot led and tracer rounds that langed through the building,. The initial burst of canon fire was followed up by the dual rocket pods quite literally unleashing Hellfire on the ramain of the structure. The gatling guns occasionally participated and the rain of destruction continued until a white flag popped up fro the rubble and waved frantically.

{"Cease fire!"}

"<What the hell man!>" the young Japanese man attached to the flag demanded of the helocopter.

"<This is Anna Miller's right?>" The pilot asked over the loud speaker.

"<NO! This is Anna Mills! Anna Miller's is on the other side of town!>" He crawled out of the wreakage and looked around him.

"<Oh...sorry. Our bad.>" The blackhawk made a sudden bank and vanished in the night air.

"<Great, just great!>" the young man kicked a brick, "<Never gonna renew my lease now.>"

---

Kor's exit from Anna Millers was interrupted by a van. Quite literally interrupted; his parting chat with the hostess was drowned out by ultra-nationalist propaganda spewing from the loudspeakers on top as it skidded to a halt across the street. The inconvenience was furthered when the van's door slid open, revealing an array of handheld weapons and a machinegun on a tripod.

"Well, this is certianly interesting," Kor mused before diving for cover behind a delivery van, silently offering up a prayer that it didn't belong to a certian bad-tempered bunny.

The occupants of the van opened fire, liberally spraying the restaurant with bullets like it was an incautious eyeball investigating a mysterious hole in a toilet stall. The windows spiderwebbed as bullets hit and stuck in them, the hostess was forced to duck behind her podium, and a number of customers were forced to find excuses to check their shoelaces as a spray of bullets panned across them at head height.

Kor, meanwhile, was checking to see which of his firearms would be best suited to taking out the van. After coming to the conclusion that none of them were suited to the task from his current position, he lobbed out a flash bang.

"<Argh, fuck, I can't see a fucking thing now!>"

"<WHAT?>"

"<WE MUST CAST OUT THE KEMONOMIMI, THE FOREIGNERS, THE FACTIONISTS, AND DECLARE TOTAL WAR AGAINST SEALAND!>"

"<Will you shut that thing off? It's hard enough to drive this thing already!>"

"<WHAT?>"

There was a crunch as the van hit a fire hydrant, the resulting stream of water shorting out the loudspeaker system and flipping it over into a bus shelter just as the occupants of said shelter simultaneously decided that the stop down the road was a better option.

Kor stood up and nonchalanty dusted himsefl off, again grumbling about amatuers before walking over to the toppled van with his custom FGTL revolver in one hand (you know, the one designed to shoot from the front yard to the back yard, through the house?) and an incendiary grenade in the other. "<So, what's the price?>" the old man asked sounding as if this discussion was about a craigslist ad.

"<Price?>" The driver asked, blinking away the afterimage from his eyes. "<The price of liberating our country from oppression and dilution of our racial purity? The price is devotion to the cause, of course! And a donation to party funds!>"

"<Wrrsssch kemonomimi paradise race war.>" The loudspeaker burbled.

"<On my head you idiot,>" Kor sighed.

"<We're not mercenaries like those monsters over in Sealand!>" The driver objected, struggling out of his seat to stand to attention and salute, straight-armed. "<We were given orders, and we are in the process of carrying them out!>"

As he finished speaking, a hand holding a machine pistol poked up around the van, spraying Kor's general area with fire.

Kor's general area however, was vacant. But the driver's lap was not. The grenade sat there looking rather mencing for a grenade. Probably cause there was no pin. Also there was no more target. Which implied that the grenade was going to detonate at any-

">Always knew they spouted lies.<" Jess commented from behind Kor, peering at the fireball. ">Didn't know water burned so well, either.<"

">Everything burns when hot enough,>" Kor replied fas he turned around quickly, gun at the ready, ">Oh, it's you. Are you here to kill me? I didn't shoot the van.<"

">No, you didn't. I'm here for delivery. Here. Is for later, but is here now.<" She explained, handing him a small parcel. ">Nice gun.<"

">Thanks, FTGL special order,<" Kor replied before looking over the package, ">Where do I sign?<"

Jess held up a bulky handheld computer. ">In box there. Do not touch buttons. Is sensitive.<" She explained, handing him a biro wrapped with duct tape.

Kor accepted and deftly scribbled something incomprehensable in to the box, very careful not to touch anything else. ">Okay.<"

Jess smiled at him, stepping back. ">Thank you for using bunny delivery services.<" She bowed slightly, her overalls momentarily revealing cleavage before she turned to climb into her van again.

"If I was but thirty years younger..." Kor mused as he headed down the street.

">Would still be too old!<" Jess shot back out the window as she sped off.

---

Kor walked down the alley to a car he kept there for just such occasions. The retired spy pulled out the key, pressed the button for the remote start and was promptly greeted by an orange and yellow fireball. The elderly man ducked, narrowing avoiding the door that was formerly part of the vehicle. He shrugged as bits and peices began to rain down around the alley and thick black smoke billowed in the pre-dawn light.

Kor shrugged and checked his watch. The number fourteen bus was due any second. Perhaps public transportation would be a better idea. He turned around and made his way to the bus stop that down the block, since the nearest one had been destroyed by the fascist's mini van. As Kor took a seat, he could see the bus rounding the corner a few blocks down. The elderly man sighed and stood back up.

As soon as he stood, the back half of the bus exploded as a shaped charge attached to the undercarrage caused the vehicle to flip forewards, land on it's roof and then careen wildly towards the bus stop, trailing sparks and even oily black smoke than it usually emitted.

Kor sighed and side stepped the sliding wreackage and scanned the street for a taxi. A car bomb was one thing, but this was getting silly. Kor spotted the taxi he was looking for and raised his hand to wave as he called out. There was a whoosh and a streak infront of him as an RPG impacted the vehicle, sending it a good ten feet in to the air and leaviing it on the ground sans tires, windows, or signs of life. Lots of fire though. That seemed to be the in thing today.

"You dead yet, Atwater!?" someone demanded from the rooftops.

"Nope, not yet," Kor answered, "Who's asking?" A middle aged man in a business suit that was more becomming to a low-level manager with a corner cubicle than it was to an asssassin on the battle field. He had short cropped hair and no eyebrows, giving him the look of always being surprised. "Ahh, Stevens, heard you flew yourself up finally."

"Not quite, just a few fingers," Stevens waved with a gleaming hand, "Got a kick ass new prosthetic out of it though."

"Right, so, I can only asume we're talking because you ran out of explosives, right?" Kor asked.

Stevens seemed loath to respond, "Yeah..."

"You could always wait until I'm in the vehicle before blowing it up, you know," the retired agent advised, "Tends to work better."

"Good advice," Stevens conceded, "So, am I going to live long enough to put it to good use?"

"Depends on how quickly you can dodge a disabled aircraft."

"A disabled wh-" Stevens never got to finish. A small private plane nosedived directly in to the roof, it's former pilot trailed not far behind, but at a significantly slower rate of speed. Her parachute bore a large red leaf and she was appologizing profusely during her descent.

Once her feet touched the pavement, the apologizing stopped, "Korinth Atwater! You son of a bitch!" The Canadian assassin (how does that even work?) Produced a pair of MAC-10s and started to spray the street with them.

Kor just stood there, bemused, as .45 caliber rounds impacted every surface in the area not yet damage by gunfire and explosion, "Are you finished yet?"

"NO I AM NOT FINISHED!" The woman shrieked, "First you use my as a distraction in Point Hope and leave me there, then you drop my plane on some guys head!"

"I'm okay!" came Stevens' voice from the rooftop, "Just a few broken bon-" The plane exploded.

"And I was here to help you!" The woman finished, blithely ignoring everything on the rooftop.

"So the two hundred million wasn't apealing at all?" Kor asked.

"Two hundred? I was told twenty."

"Twenty? Twenty??" Kor started cursing in more languages than the author can list, "That's just fucking insulting."

Kor's cursing was interrupted by a bolt of magic shooting past his nose, followed closely by a quartet of magical girls; three flying and one following closely on a motor scooter adorned with ribbons and glitter. They were exchanging flashy magical attacks with a dinosaur seemingly made from car parts, which was quite rapidly shedding parts of itself.

As the girls passed, one paused in front of Kor, bowing to him in mid-air. "<We apologise collectively for the inconvenience, honoured elder, but the city is in danger!>"

"<Oh, no problem at all,>" Kor replied and returned the bow, "<Also, don't mind the mess over there. And don't tell Arella-sensei!>" He called after the girls.

"What...What was that?" The Canadian assassin asked.

"Your daughters," Kor replied with out missing a beat.

"My what?!" The woman exploded in outrage, "That not even physically possi-"

The woman was cut off by being bopped on the head with a polearm. "<That is not the way to talk to the honoured elder friend of Raven-sempai!>" The magical girl wielding it protested, as the rest of the girls turned their own melee weapons on the monster, taking advantage of the woman's friends' distracting of it to tear it to pieces in short order.

"<For love, justice, and truth!>"

"<For goodness and cute things!>"

"<For small fluffy animals!>"

There was a pause, and the girls turned to look at one of their number, who shrugged. "<They're cute, and you guys just took all the best things to yell anyway...>"

The woman spun around and let loose a howl of feminine rage, "Korith Atwater you bastard!"

But the old man was no where to be found.

The outburst earned her another bop from the polearm. "<Language!>"

---

Kor plopped in to his new favorite reclining chair at one of his many apartments across the city. This one was leased to one T. M. F. Roosevelt. The manager didn't say a word, probably assumed Kor was telling the truth and he didn't want to get eaten or something.

The elderly spy kicked up his feet and cracked open a bottle of Virgils.

"Your taste in aliases is almost as bad as your taste in beer." Machariah commented, shimmering into view betwen Kor and the television on the other side of the room. "But not nearly as bad as your taste in reality television. I was forced to put your DVR out of it's misery."

"This is root beer," Kor replied, "And it's the finest root beer around. No comment on the TV." He paused a moment, "You didn't wipe my backups did you?"

Machariah simply stared at him impassively. "I am here to kill you, not make idle chitchat." He remarked, raising the polearm, a disc spooling up in the jaws of the magnetic accelerator on the back.

"Well, for someone who isn't here to chit chat, you have an awful lot to say about my preferences in television and sugary beverages," Kor stood up indignatly and poked Machariah in the chest, "Now, did you erase my backup or not, young man?"

Machariah fired, canting his head slightly as the disc embedded itself in the wall in a spray of blood. This was followed by him pushing Kor back down into his armchair and stabbing him in the chest with the blade of his polearm, before switching the TV onto a repeat of a '1000 most annoying children's novelty singles' and crushing the remote control in his fist. "Old man found dead in apartment. Cause of death suspected coronary due to excessive sugar consumption." He commented, before turning and walking out, vanishing from view as he stepped through the doorway.

And slow clapping sound followed him down the hallway. A clap, three seconds of silence followed by another clap. On repeat. Clap...clap...clap. That really aggrivating slow clap you get when you're the busboy that just dropped the entire cart of dishes. Or the Mustang driver that rolled over in the middle of the highway for no reason at all. The mockery of an applause that is used to mock others further.

Machariah paused and turned, shimmering into existence with a grenade launcher pointed towards the kitchen.

'"I'd be careful with that," Kor said, standing next to a half-eaten roast beef sandwich. "I mean you were just convinced by a PS2 accessory after all." Kor picked up his sandwhich and took a bite before gesturing with it as he spoke. "Machariah, age irrelevent. Prefers polearms and grenade launchers. Goes commando as a rogue AI doesn't quite understand the importance of undergarments. Appearently shy as he prefers to be invisible. Probably not hugged enough as a child. Dislikes reality TV. Enjoys children's songs. Temper control problems. Poor aim. Probably impotent. Definitely has a superiority complex. Possible daddy issues. Possibly projects said daddy issues onto one Skorpion. Definite Odipus complete, without the sex part." Kor took another bite. "Annoying as hell isn't it?"

Machariah pulled the trigger, obliterating the kitchen with an explosion.

Kor stepped out of an apartment bearing the name "Ima B. A." The old man chuckled, "I got that one at a thrift shop. Came with a fur coat."

That Kor was promptly obliterated by a hail of metal discs, chewing through walls barely more substantial than cardboard.

The elevator dinged as yet another Kor walked out carrying groceries, "You know what your problem is Mach?" He asked, "You don't mind me calling you Mach right?"

The elevator detonated in a cloud of shrapnel as the claymore mines inside it went off.

Another door, labeled "Notta Spymkay" opened up and Kor stepped out, "Guess not. You only see one man. That's your problem."

Machariah stepped outside, stepping down into a pedestrian subway as a rain of rockets impacted the building and surroundings, soon converting half the block to smoking rubble, and then to dust as the explosive rain continued to fall.

There was a reclining chair in front of him. A rather suspicious reclining chair with a blood stain on it. Then the chair stood up. "But I C4." The real Kor declared as he pressed a button on a detonater. The area above the pair was suddenly bathed in the glow of red LEDs that then shifted to green. "When you get to hell, tell them I sent you. And then appologize on my behalf."

The subway exploded into a massive ball of fire rocking the street above and cracking the asphalt.

Machariah brushed himself off as he stepped out of the rubble. "Some people consume entirely too much ammunition."


Summary

Kor wakes up.
Author rips off a movie.
Gun shot and explsion ensue.
Kor gets breakfast.
Author rips off another movie.
Gun shots and explosion ensue.
At the wrong place.
Gun shots are the right place.
Facists.
Exploding Car, Taxi, Bus, Plane, Building.
Screw it, everything explodes.
Magircal Girl Intrevention
New apartment.
Stab.
Nope.
Explode.
Nope.
Metal disks o' death.
Nope.
Claymore.
Nope.
Rockets.
Nope.
Where you see one man, I C4.
Looks like that worked.
Some people, you know?
DarTan: The Unspeakable Cook.
Katrina: Bitch, She Eats People
Mimi: Varying Shades of Gray and A Concerning Amount of Red.
Ahab: Hail, Huntsmaster.
Stone: His Rap Sheet Is Better Than Wrapping Papper.
<<

Skorpynekomimi

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Posts: 95

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Wed Sep 28, 2016 6:59 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Discoveries
Timestamp: The day after Alexis' injuries.
Location: FGTL HQ, CMGY Academy, The Manor.
Authors: Skorpy, Oblivion, Elle-chan
Characters: Devin, Cathal, Skorpion, Whisp, Eva.


---

Cathal sat on the rooftop, looking out over the Academy's courtyard. Magical girls were milling about in it, chattering excitedly about the Incident and clustering in groups to keep off the chill of the night. "Always with the talking. And I still don't understand half of it." He grumbled to himself, between bites of the bacon roll he'd acquired on his way past the cafeteria.

Meanwhile at the Manor, Devin was checking over a list of security features for the school he intended to install overnight. "Okay, the materials are there and the Spider Force should be able to make the modifications once I upload these blueprints. Now I just need to get there." He said to himself as he slipped his phone into his pocket, making sure he was alone before transforming. "Okay. The roof should be empty around this time..." He pondered checking cameras, but decided that it'd probably be fine and teleported himself to the roof of the academy.

"Gyah!" Cathal exclaimed as someone appeared next to him, scrambling to his feet and trying to back away. Unfortunately for him, the cinderblock he'd been sitting on caught his untied shoelace, causing him to trip. Unfortunetely for Devin, Cathal tripped right into her, ending up sprawled atop her on the rooftop, still clutching his snack.

"What the-" Devin started, cut off by Cathal falling on him, causing the (presently) catgirl to let out a rather shrill shriek and fall to the floor under the clumsy teenager's weight. "Get off!" She demanded, pushing on his head and shoulder.

Cathal got his arms under him after a few seconds of struggling, pushing himself back to a sitting position. "Don't just appear like th..." He trailed off, snatching his hand back from the girl's chest like it was on fire. "Sorry! it was an accident! <Please don't hit me!>"

"Yes, that's all well and good, but I told you to get off me, not sit on me." Devin said before realizing his current form. "He must not know." Was his primary thought.

Cathal scrambled back again, sitting on the roof and not the girl's lap this time. "So, uh, what are you doing up here, other than surprising me?"

"Shit." Devin thought before coming up with a half truth. "<There's something I need to do for the spider bots, and I didn't have time during school.>" He said in Japanese to impersonate a student.

Cathal frowned as he tried to process the Japanese. "<Are you putting in decking to make them look pretty?>" He asked, hoping that he didn't screw up his tenses.

Devin paused as he tried to translate Cathal's Japanese into an actual sentence. "<I'm trying to get them to help me decorate the school.>" She said, leaving out the fact that the 'decorations' would be additional security drones and surveillance cameras.

"<Pink is so last season. Better go with blue.>" Cathal commented, munching on his sandwich again. Something clicked into place in his head, and he reached into a pocket to retrieve another. "<Bacon?>"

"<I'll keep that in mind.>" Devin said with a fake, yet convincing smile. "<No thanks, I ate earlier.>" She said, bowing before trying to make an escape for the door.

Cathal watched her go, shaking his head to snap himself out of the reverie once she'd gone. "She looked familiar. Cute, too..."

---

Cathal wandered through the gym, peering at the equipment. He'd always had trouble getting back to sleep after being awoken by trouble, and tonight was no exception. "Dorm's still full of chattering anyway. Maybe I can just find a spot to sleep a bit in one of the storage rooms, and sneak back when the noise has stopped." He mused to himself, lost in thought as he turned a corner and walked straight into Devin. "Gyah!"

Devin had been staring at his phone, going over his checklist for the evening. She decided to stay in her magical girl form for the time being due to it being far easier than turning back only to change again later. "Okay, two rooms down. Now for th-" She was cut off again by walking head first into Cathal. "Ow." She said, sitting up to rub her head. "Sorry-wait. Why are you here now?"

"I was looking for somewhere to nap!" Cathal protested from beneath her. "Dorms are too noisy now. Also, I can't breathe down here, so get off me?"

Devin quickly jumped back, landing on her feet. "Have you tried earplugs?" She suggested before walking around him.

"And sleep through my alarm? I'm behind enough in my classes as it is without skipping them..." Cathal grumbled, sitting up and wiping the trickle of blood from his nose. "You might wanna watch where you're going."

"Likewise." Devin replied in turn, shortly followed by a sigh. "Well. Off I go. Again."

Cathal grumbled, resuming his search for somewhere to nap.

---

Later that night, after Devin had finished her work, she checked her phone. "Two A.M? Not bad." She remarked, pocketing the phone before something dawned on her. "Wait... Two A.M? Shit! Whisp's probably looking for me!" She realized, teleporting back to her room immediately while hoping the Manor didn't just unlock her door for Whisp.

Who was curled up on Dev's bed.

Looking a bit miffed by his absence.

So it was fairly safe to say that yes, the Manor had let her in. And was it really so surprising? It usually did what the Miho-lookalike wanted. Far more surprising (for Whisp) was the appearance of a catgirl in the room rather than the catboy she'd been waiting on; the strange catgirl promptly earned a blink of surprise and a look that suggested she'd better get talking. Which was pretty lucky! If she hadn't clearly been a magical girl, Whisp likely would have set her on fire and been done with it.

"Uhhhhhhh." Devin uhhed, clearly unprepared for this meeting. "Okay, Whisp. I know this is weird, but I'm. Well..." She paused, rubbing her neck awkwardly. "I'm Devin." She admitted, her ears folding back as she returned to his normal form.

Whisp blinked some more, rather more rapidly than usual; the only real sign that she was surprised. "Oh," she finally allowed, before accepting, "Okay." The dark teen then moved over in the bed a bit to make room for him in a clear indication that she was tired and he was supposed to come cuddle with her now.

Devin's ears perked up. "You're okay with it?"

"Sure," was Whisp's reply, something about her tone seeming to wonder why she wouldn't be. It honestly didn't occur to her that her boyfriend being a girl sometimes would freak most people out, or even be considered relatively weird. Sometimes, having no real sense of normalcy came in handy. "Are you coming to bed?" she then wanted to know, the faintest hint of a whine in her voice as she got to the far more important subject of wanting to go to sleep. She slept better with Dev, after all, and thus saw no reason to sleep without him; he seemed okay with it, at any rate.

"... Yeah." Devin said after a pause, smiling from Whisp accepting him. "I'll change and join you." He said as he went to his closet and changed into black pyjamas. "Sorry I'm back so late." He apologized as he climbed into bed with her and scooted close to wrap her in his arms and give her a quick kiss.

"What were you doing?" she, of course, wanted to know, even as she made herself comfortable and claimed the cuddles she required. The kiss was quite nice too; she'd been surprised to find herself rather partial to them.

"I was trying to make the school a bit safer. It's easier to do it later, because normally there's no one there." Devin explained as he looked into her eyes. "Goodnight, Whisp." He said, enjoying the ironic calm he felt from the two cuddling before bed.

"I still think we should set up fire traps..." the teen girl grumbled a bit in place of her own goodnight, as part of a long-term argument with her fellow students. She totally knew a good spell for it, but nobody else thought it was a good idea for some reason.

---

Over at FGTL HQ Evangeline stepped into the training room. "I shouldn't be in anyone's way this late into the night..." She whispered. She didn't have to, but the lack of any noises to contrast against her voice made it feel necessary. Quietly, she made her way into the control room to load a training course. "It's been a long time since I've been in a firefight, and I don't want to get anyone killed." It took a bit for the machine to load a two story building with about six hostiles somewhere inside.

Evangeline looked around the control room, half expecting a person to just be there, but she was still alone. She made her way back to the training room floor, carefully shutting the door behind her before loading a VR SMG into her hands. "Okay. Let's give it a go."

---

A few courses later and more then a couple failures Evangeline walked to the wall of the training room and leaned against it before sliding down to sit instead. All the running had her winded, sweaty, and tired. "Maybe I'm not cut out to be a fighter..." She said, looking up to her 'death' counter. "Even though I'm supposed to be a 'super' soldier... I'm still not very good."

"Strictly speaking, you're a super medic and doctor, not a soldier." Skorpion pointed out. "Also, squeeze the trigger instead of pulling, use short, controlled bursts rather than spraying and praying, and take cover. Don't try and fight like you're bulletproof when you're not."

Evangeline jumped a bit once Skorpion's presence was known. "Oh, it's you." She said, resting her hand on her chest as she breathed a sigh of relief. "Sorry, did you want to use this room?"

"Only to check on your training." Skorpion replied, trying not to smirk at the reaction. "Also, situational awareness. Don't let people sneak up on you, especially super-soldiers. Or teenage boys." He nodded past her, to where Cathal was lurking in a patch of shadows.

"Huh?" Evangeline turned to look at the shadows in question, spotting Cathal. "Oh. Hi, Cathal! Are you taking good care of yourself?" She said with a smile and a friendly wave.

Cathal blinked, nodded once, and fled for cover.

"Try the sim again, this time not acting like you're bulletproof and perfectly accurate." Skorpion said, with the hint of a sigh.

Evangeline nodded up at Skorpion. "I'll do my best." She said as she rose her fist to the air with determination. She then stood up with her VR SMG in hand to give it another try.

---

"Arm straight, like this." Skorpion pointed out, moving Eva's arm to the correct position. "You know how everything fits together, so consider the force of the recoil. The other hand goes here, and supports the front of it and helps aim it, like so." He concluded, moving her arms to point the gun around. "Maybe we should try a more basic simulation instead of dropping you into combat against the..." He trailed off, squinting into the virtual distance. "Against the sticks? Oh good god, where did you find this. Anyway. Something more basic, and less cluttered, with less evil stick figures in it."

"It looked fun and cute, so I picked it..." Evangeline said defensively, with a bit of a pout. "And I keep getting shot because of my wings." She explained, her wings spreading to their full 9'2" wingspan. "Even if I fold them back they still poke out of a lot of cover and get shot." She said, stretching her wings a bit before settling them back to a resting position.

"Then don't hide them. Use them to fly around, evade fire, that sort of thing." Skorpion pointed out, miming a flapping motion with his hands. "If you're not tied to the ground, you shouldn't do it to yourself. And besides, you need mobility to do your job."

"But if I'm in the air won't I get shot at more? There's not really much in the way of cover up there." Evangeline pointed out.

"Yes. Groundwalkers have great contempt for anything airborne, but you'll be moving faster, and will thus be harder to hit." Skorpion pointed out. "And I can make you a thruster so you don't have to worry so much about the whole flapping thing, like I did with Raven's wings."

"I don't think I'd do well being rocket propelled, but I'll try flying around more in my next run."

"Also, less stick figures. They give me the creeps." Skorpion remarked, as the scenery changed to a nice peaceful urban battleground. "Here we go."

---

Though that round went a lot better, Evangeline still wouldn't be taking out entire squads on her own. "How." She started, trying to catch her breath as she hunched over with her hands on her knees. "How was that?" She asked, the late hour, or early morning by this point combined with her physical exertion making the elfgirl rather tired.

"Much improved. You got clipped a few times, but no solid hits. Your accuracy is terrible, but you're not a marksman anyway, and we can work on it later." Skorpion grinned, offering her a sandwich from a small drone as it rolled up. "Snack?"

"Yes, please." Evangeline said as she accepted the sandwich and took a bite, waiting until her mouth wasn't full before asking. "What time is it?"

"Well into tomorrow, by now. I think you can catch the sunrise if you hurry." Skorpion remarked, in the unconcerned tones of someone who doesn't usually bother will the whole 'sleeping' business on the day to day.

"Darn." Evangeline said, rubbing her left eye with her free hand. "Thanks for helping me, but I'm going to take a shower and go to sleep now." She said, doing her best to suppress a yawn.

"Sleep well, then." Skorpion reached out, patting her on the shoulder. "There's a new batch of nanites processing for you, by the way. They should be done when you wake up."

"Thanks, dad." Evangeline said with a smile, giving Skorpion a hug and kissing his cheek. "Night." She said as she headed back to her room for the night.

"I think I'm getting used to this whole fatherhood thing." Skorpion remarked. "At least there's less mess this way."

---

Summary:
Devin does Devin things at night.
And teleports into Cathal. No bacon, thanks.
A second encounter in the gym. Gah!

Whisp disccovers Devin's Big Secret.
And is completely unphased by it.

Eva tries to train, and finds she's not much good at guns and combat.
Skorpion appears, and helps. Less stick figures, though.
She improves!
Parenthood isn't so hard...


---

---

---

Escalating Engagement
Timestamp: The night after the Elsienapping.
Location: FGTL HQ.
Authors: Skorpy, Oblivion, Ei, Elle-chan
Characters: Skorp, Tifffaney, Ei, Lola, Elsie, Machariah, Zeit.


---

"Darling, I know you're worried because Lexi got hurt, but are you planning on sleeping anytime tonight?" Skorpion asked as he wanered into Tiffaney's lab. "I mean, you actually need to sleep timetime."

"No I'm fine. I just need keep working on something to help her heal faster without putting more strain on Eva, and then see if I can help Johnny's body get used to the new arm, and make sure nothing happens to Devin, and make sure Tali doesn't run off on her own to get Elsie back, and get Elsie back, and-" Tiffaney rapidly listed until she was cut off, her tone conveying exactly how stressed she was.

Skorpion stepped up, gently turning her head as she listed things off and cutting her off with a kiss. "You're tired, and you can't risk making mistakes. Lexi's healing as fast as she can already; those nanites should have her up and about in a day or two. And John just needs to keep up his physiotherapy to deal with the arm." He sighed. "As for Tali, I think I have her convinced. For now. But we're going to retrieve Elsie with the assault anyway."

Tiffaney seemed to calm down a bit after the kiss. "I know you're right, I just can't stand being so helpless..." She said, giving a brief pause before something came to mind. "We need to take care of Rekko too. Get him walking again at least."

"I'm doing what I can." Skorpion assured her. "But he broke both legs, in a few places as well. The nanite injections are going to take a week or two to knit things back together well enough for him to use crutches, and it'll probably take a month before he's back to normal. There's only so much I can do for a baseline un-augmented human, shy of just sawing his legs off and replacing them with prosthetics. Which I'm not going to do because it'd take as long to make them as it would to let him heal, and they just wouldn't work as well." He sighed. "The tech just isn't available yet. Five, ten years, I might have that, but not yet. And then there's the whole 'ethical' side of things." He rolled his eyes as he emphasized the word with finger-quotes. "And that's another barrel of worms."

Tiffaney smiled to him. "You wouldn't do that anyway. He's going to be your son-in-law pretty soon." She reminded.

"Modifying people requires consent." Skorpion replied. "And yes, he is, isn't he. I'll have to organise that when we're done with the ass-kicking and name-taking." He smiled, tugging Tiffaney into his arms. "And maybe another one, too."

Tiffaney blushed when she was tugged into Skorpion's embrace, placing her hands on his chest. "W-what are you saying?" She asked as hear heartbeat picked up, her tail swishing to the side as she looke up into his eyes.

Skorpion reached up, petting her ears softly. "I'm saying that, once all this is settled, that I want to make you a princess."

For a moment Tiffaney just stared up at him with wide eyes. "You mean you want to...?" She asked, her heart racing.

Skorpion nodded. "Yes. Will you marry me?"

Tiffaney smiled brightly as tears formed in her eyes. "Yes. Of course yes!" She consented, reaching up to place her hands on his shoulders and standing on her toes for a kiss.

Skorpion leaned down to oblige her, holding her close to him as he did so.

Tiffaney wrapped her arms around his neck once their lips met, breaking the kiss for a quick "I love you." before kissing him again.

---

"My point stands; you still need to sleep." Skorpion pointed out as he carried Tiffaney down the corridor. "And properly, not just passed out over a desk."

Tiffaney nuzzled against Skorpion's armour, before resting her head on his chest. "I can't believe I'm getting married! I have so much to tell mom when this is over!" She said as her tail swished from side to side. "And poppy's gonna wanna meet you, too."

"You want me to meet your parents?" Skorpion asked, somewhat incredulously. "You do remember that I'm a super-soldier, right?"

"So? Poppy's great, and mom likes everyone." Tiffaney explained happily. "It'll be fine!" She assured before using her finger to draw circles on his chest. "But we can worry about that later."

"I hope you realise I'll be holding you to that 'fine'." Skorpion replied, chuckling softly. "But I'll do my best impression of a normal, civillised person, and not park a tank on their lawn or anything."

Tiffaney giggled at 'normal'. "Just be yourself! I want them to meet you, not a cardboard cutout. Besides, if you did that poppy'd just think you were a boring business man."

"The real me is an amoral mercenary super-soldier." Skorpion pointed out. "Or are you saying your parents are as crazy as you are and actually like that sort of thing?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Well, let's just say that my family doesn't settle for normal." Tiffaney said, semi-vaguely as she dug through the inner pockets of her lab coat for a picture.

"Well, they raised you, so that's probably a Sign." Skorpion relied, petting her ears.

Tiffaney purred slightly as she found the photo and showed it to him. The old black and white picture showing a bear of a man with a large axe resting on his shoulder smiling over a woman that was definately Tiffaney's mother who was unarmed, yet smiling confidently to the camera none-the-less.

"Your father's a lumberjack?" Skorpion asked. "He sleeps all night and he works all day?"

"Well he is now. After I left for America, they decided to finally build that log cabin in the woods they've been wanting to." Tiffaney said, rooting through her pockets again to show him a picture of said cabin, though it looked more like a large-sized log house.

"And it hasn't been burned down by environmentalist terrorists yet?" Skorpion examined the picture. "Oh, I see. They've got traps set."

"And poppy's scarier then most things in the wild." Tiffaney added, happy to talk about her parents.

"He looks like it. What about your mother, then? Is she a magical girl like you?"

Tiffaney nodded. "Mhm! All females in my family are born into it." She informed with a smile. "Though there are exceptions, like with Dev, and Johnny."

"There are worse family traditions." Skorpion replied. "And I suppose it's less trouble than randomly producing a generation of super-powered immortals."

"You'll love them!" She said, now excited for him to meet her parents.

"I'm sure we'll get along like a house on fire, although hopefully not literally." Skorpion smiled, leaning down and kissing her before navigating a doorway. "And I suppose it's better than dealing with a suburban nuclear family. They scare me."

Tiffaney's tail flickered as they kissed. "You? Scared?" She teased, covering her mouth as she yawned. "I'm sorry." She apologized as she took off her glasses and rubbed her eyes.

Skorpion chuckled softly, rubbing her ears. "More of an existential fear. If they're the ones voting and making political decisions, then what place is there for people like us in their world? Fighting their wars, keeping them safe from having to think about what they're doing?"

Tiffaney purred and leaned her head into Skorpion's hand as he rubbed ber ears, slipping her glasses on as she started to doze. "You've definitely gotten better at this." She said, her tail relaxing as her eyes began to close.

"The scritches, or the carrying you around?" Skorpion asked, setting her down on the bed as they reached it. "You get some rest. I'll join you later, if I get time."

"Both." Tiffaney said as she took off her glasses and set them on the nightstand. "Okay, darling. Love you." She said as she claimed a large stuffed animal for sleep cuddling. She could undress later, right now she just wanted to sleep.

"Love you too, dear." Skorpion relied, continuing to pet her ears as she dozed off. Once she'd fallen asleep, he picked her glasses up and carried them off.

---

Skorpion woke up, stretching before looking over to Tiffaney who had claimed him for cuddling in place of the pillow.

Tiffaney adjusted herself a bit before opening her eyes to tiredly look up to him. "Good morning, darling."

"Morning, dear." Skorpion replied, leaning down to kiss her.

"Thank you for joining me." Tiffaney said, bringing herself up to meet him half way.

Skorpion smiled as he broke the kiss. "With all that's happening, I figured I needed to get some actual sleep ahead of storming a fortress. Don't know if I'll get time for any afterwards."

"Oh no you don't. If you start going too long without, I will personally drag you to bed." Tiffaney said in the sweetest way to not really threaten a person.

Skorpion chuckled, rubbing her ears. "Good thing, too. If I go too long, I'll start losing the plot."

"And we wouldn't want to get off track, would we?" Tiffaney teasingly added.

"Nope. Venegance, then back to time travel shenanigans." Skorpion replied. "Then back to trying to stop the TPCD outlawing me."

"And all while keeping the BGR in mind." Tiffaney added. "Not to mention ANFGs, and DT gone missing."

"Yeah, DT's going to be a bugger to find. He's vanished, and he's not even using his credit cards or using any expensive ammo." Skorpion sighed. "I'm totally making my own damn city."

"You'll need land for that, and though this place is big, it's not quite city big" Tiffaney stated.

"I don't need land, I need space." Skorpion grinned. "I have Plans. Get a couple of those reusable boosters, design a few drones, and I can make a space habitat."

"That could go one of two ways. Humans in space tend to suffer from muscle atrophy and deterioration of the skeleton. Which is bad."

"Ah, but that's just from the microgravity!" Skorpion replied, grin widening. "If I make it big enough, I can spin it for gravity, put the city along the centre, grow plants up the sides for food."

"It would be nice to study the effects of space colonization..." Tiffaney pondered.

"That's the spirit!" Skorpion petted Tiffaney's ears some more. "I'm hoping to get Devin to deploy a few survey probes while he's out among the asteroids, to save hauling stuff up from the ground."

Tiffaney purred. nuzzling into his hand. "How would you refine the materials without bringing them to the surface?"

"Stick a mini refinery on the shuttle, and use that to refine materials to build a bigger one." Skorpion answered. "Bootstrap your way up to something that'll get the job done in time."

"Sounds good." Tiffaney nodded. "What are your plans for today?"

"Getting artillery moved to cover the Temple, preparing aircraft for supporting the assault, and fixing Lexi's cannons."

"When should we be ready to attack?"

"Tomorrow night. The plan is to hit them hard in the early hours, with an alpha strike of artillery and airstrikes. Then we encircle it to prevent an escape before going in hard with the armour, taking out their defences, and knock a hole in the walls so we can go in and get Elsie out to safety. Then we go in to take down Machariah, search the place room by room, find him, and kill him. Permanently." Skorpion replied decisively.

"What if Elsie gets hurt by the artillery?" Tiffaney had to ask.

"She'll be indoors, it likely won't hurt her. I've bombed the place before; the walls are pretty thick."

"If you say so." Tiffaney concented. "Let's start the day with some breakfast."

"Admittedly it hadn't been neglected for years last time, but breakfast is a wonderful idea." Skorpion swung himself out of bed, pulling on a robe he'd slung over a nearby table. "There's a kitchen over there. Should I make the food, or do you want to?"

"I'll make breakfast today. As long as we've got enough ingredients laying around." Tiffaney said as she slid out of bed and stretched, a few bones in her shoulders and back popping as she did. Before heading to the kitchen, she grabbed pyjama bottoms from the closet on her way, putting them on before she left.

"Should be plenty in the fridge out there." Skorpion called after her as he tied the robe, looking over at his armour standing where he'd left it the previous night. "That can wait. Food first." He mused to himself before following Tiffaney.

"Okay~" Tiffaney said as she laid out a startlingly large spread of ingredients and got to work.

---

"Maybe you could be a mad chef as well as a mad scientist and magical girl." Skorpion commented as he finished the last plate in front of him. "That was the best breakfast I've had in a long time. That bacon was burned just right."

"Ja, ze vorld vill fear my triple breakfast omelette." Tiffaney joked with a grin. "I'm glad you liked it, dear."

"They'd better ph34r it." Skorpion replied, wiping the leftover grease and cheese from his plate with a slice of bread. "Sealand practically runs on fried foods, and I definitely do."

"I try to balance it with non fried foods. Empty calories will get you nowhere." Tiffaney advised.

"There is no such thing as an empty calorie when you're burning them like crazy just to prop up your metabolism." Skorpion pointed out. "I have the meal schedule of a damn hobbit."

Tiffaney sighed. "What am I going to do with you?"

"Keep feeding me?" Skorpion suggested. "You knew what you were getting into; you know more about my augmentations than I do. I mean, I've read the notes, but you know what that stuff means. I'm working from a user manual fifty years old and a complete regeneration out of date."

Tiffaney got up to walk over and give Skorpion a quick kiss. "Don't worry, darling. I'll make sure to keep you in top shape." She said, moving to hug him from behind.

Skorpion leaned back into her, smiling. "Thank you. In return, I'll try my best not to go insane, and shape the world into one worth bringing children into. Even if I have to build one of my own."

Tiffaney guided his head to lean into her breasts as she hugged it. "We'll make the world better together."

"They will learn to ph34r us." Skorpion commented, grinning.

---

"So. I hear you got a new venue sorted out."

Lola jumped and squealed, spinning around to face the source of the voice behind her. "What the hell are you doing here?"

Skorpion grinned. "Investigating a potential business opportunity. You need capital; this place needs renovation, you need to pick up inventory, and keep staff on until money comes in."

"Then what do you want for said capital?" Lola asked, getting right to the point. "And since when have you been in the loan shark business?"

"Venture capitalism, not loan sharking." Skorpion corrected her. "And what I want is a stake in the business. Say, 40 percent. You maintain a controlling interest, I take a cut of the profits. I'll even throw in a protection contract, and loan you some labour to get this place running."

"You're not a charity, OR a venture capitalist, though." Lola replied, peering up at him. "What's your interest in this?"

"20 percent." Skorpion replied with a smirk. "Also, you're teaching one of my daughters, and I have to be sure she's safe. Oh, and your absentee boyfriend is one of my best customers."

"You're using that tone that says you know something I don't." Lola remarked, still peering suspiciously.

"He's been seen in the Hollows, attacking people impersonating my troops."

Lola straightened up, eyes widening. "Is he okay?"

"Physically, mostly. Mentally..." Skorpion shrugged.

"Yeah, I know, you can't tell because his baseline insanity throws everything off." Lola rolled her eyes. "In the meantime, have you met Shiori's new boyfriend? I hear he's something like a cousin of yours." Lola grinned widely; it was HER turn to use the 'I know something you don't know' expression.

"Eikeichi Ramirez-Kisaragi. Prototype super soldier, recently returned to megatokyo before dropping off the radar after being attacked by Machariah?" Skorpion replied, causing Lola to sag visibly.

"No fair."

"And no, I haven't met him. Care to introduce us?"

"Lola, there's a load bearing wall that needs to be shored up." Ei said, crawling out from behind fallen debris. "On the plus side the men's room is no longer- Were we expecting company?"

"Nope." Lola replied, as if it were completely normal. "Ei, meet Prince Skorpion of Sealand. He likes to just show up places unannounced. Skorpion, this is Eikeichi. I'm pretty sure you already know all about him, right down to what he ate for breakfast."

Skorpion nodded in greeting. "Morning. Chocolate pop tarts."

"I already have issues with people knowing more about me than I do..." he mused, taking his gloves off. "Sealand, huh... They touched off on it a little in our deployment brief. Nothing good, I might add, but I've been seeing things in a different light as of late."

"Oh, of course they'd be slandering. The USA has never liked me much, not since I blew up one of their top secret projects on my way out of it. Speaking of top secret super-soldier projects, how's life treating you?"

"I've contemplated turning the pile bunker in my arm on my head, if only to see if I can spike the computer attached to my brain and finally kill myself, only to decide not to because there's someone that loves me and I would make her very sad if I carried that plan out." he admitted, pointing the palm of his hand toward the hinge of his jaw for emphasis.

"Found it!" Tiffaney announced as she entered the bar, holding up her room key. "It slipped under my seat when I was checking a text from Lexi." She explained before looking to Lola and Ei. "Hi Lola, hi Ei." She greeted with a friendly wave. Ei managed a half assed wave.

"Lola, Eikeichi, meet Tiffaney; my fiance." Skorpion remarked. "Or do you already know each other?"

"I don't, I'm afraid. When you're infantry your focus is narrowed. When you're supposed to be dead..." Ei paused to look around the bar. "When you're supposed to be dead you renovate bars."

"Well, you're not doing too badly. It's looking decidedly less torched." Skorpion observed. "Tiffaney, meet Lola, who I'm sure you've already met, and Ei, who I'm here to meet. Ei, you should probably pull up a chair; we need to have words."

Tiffaney nodded before walking over to Lola. "Would you like me to give you a hand while the boys talk?"

Lola sighed. "Sure, since he's stealing my help for this."

Ei settled into a pile of debris, arranging it into an approximation of an armchair. "Welcome to my office... I'd offer alcohol, but I left that at what I presently call my home." he said, leaning back to prop his foot up on a toolbox.

Skorpion tugged a girder over, sitting on the end of it. "Mostly, I'm here because you got attacked by Machariah, which seems to warrant an explanation. And maybe an apology; he came to this city to kill me, and he seems to get a kick out of attacking other super-soldiers. This covers you because we are, apparently, brothers of a sort. Or, at least, we have the same technology inside us." He paused. "Eikeichi. You're a Land Warrior."

"I thought I was unique. I had been under the impression that I was a lone survivor type." he began. "Then I met Shiori. Came to find out everything I knew was wrong." Ei paused to look through a hole in the overhead, spotting a passenger plane going by.

"He attacked us on her last day with the platoon. I thought she was dead. She thought I was dead. I'm supposed to be dead..." Ei sat up, leaning toward Skorp. "I want the nightmares to end. I want to kill him. To rip him, limb from limb, either with my bare hands or with my Lancer's hands. He took this from me, the original limb..." he said, holding his hand up to show the prosthesis. "He owes me an arm."

Skorpion nodded. "Understandable. You are, however, not the only survivor of the project. There are three, we're two of them, and the other one's the arm-stealing bastard who's been attacking people. He's going down, he's going down soon, and he's already disabled two of my best fighters, kindapped someone I care about, and shot down my best combat medic. I want to offer you vengeance. Shiori as well."

"Physically, I feel like I'm ready. Like, the hardware is good to go. It's the software that's lacking." he said, leaning back into his seat. "Doc's installing the upgrades as soon as they come in from Los Alamos. Better FCS, WCS, sensor programs, and such. I still wonder if even after that I'll be ready."

"I can help with that. Or, better, give you the tools to reprogram your own drivers. I'm working on similar things for the same reason, and I'm probably a few years ahead of your procurement. Otherwise, I have information that is of interest to your superiors. The bastard that stole your arm is an experimental AI possessing a Land Warrior. He's willing to push harder, for longer, and he's currently trying false-flag operations as my forces to try and stir trouble."

"I've been told that my platoon is still at Yokota. The units there are ill equipped for defense. I've already lost three of them. Three of them died trying..." Ei trailed off, shaking his head to try to get back on track. "If there's any way to contact them then get that intel to Major Jenks Wylder. He's CIA. Three of the guys in the unit were seconded to us from the Company, under guise of an Army Special Forces unit. It was... Pierce, Rockwell, and MacIntyre. They can act on it better than the Army can."

"I think I've met him. Thought he was a spook. But yeah, I'll try that. Otherwise, if you or Shiori can get away from being dead for a while, I'll have room for you taking that asshole down. Give Shiori my best, as well."

"I will. Like I said, she's my reason for living." he said, rising. "You got anything else for me? Otherwise, a patch job I was working on is just that, a patch job. Only supposed to last until we can get proper contractors in here."

"Just a business card." Skorpion replied, handing one to Ei. "And a job offer. If you're ever done with the army, or if they're done with you, we'll take you on. Also? a word of advice. Don't go for the head, it'll just heal up. Nanite organ first, next to the spleen."

"I appreciate the offer, but I plan to go back to my unit when I can. My brother's 4th ID. I'm Cav. Abuelo wished we'd have gone Marine Corps but West Point got to us before Annapolis did. And next to the spleen, right? I'll adjust my range training to accomodate it." he said, extending his hand to Skorp.

Skorpion shook it, gripping firmly. "I'll send you a copy of your blueprints when I get back to base, as well. Even missing an arm, it'll give you an idea on how to cope with things."

"And if you need you could see me for an examination. I specialise in augmented individuals, and should be able to give you more insight to your body and what it can do." Tiffaney offered as she carried a large piece of debris to the door.

"No offense, but clinical environments and I don't mix. I barely tolerate Burke as it is." he replied, offering a wan smile.

"I understand, but my offer stands should you change your mind." Tiffaney assured, before turning to Lola. "Where did you say you wanted me to move this?"

"Put it in the skip out front, please." Lola pointed in the direction of the door. "And can you possibly ask your boyfriend to stop trying to steal mine? Even if I'm just borrowing him, it's kind of annoying."

"I may have to break it down a bit. I don't think it'll fit through the door..." Tiffaney said before setting the rubble down. "Darling, could you be a dear and lend me a hand?"

"Sure." Skorpion released Ei's hand, stepping over to the chunk of debris. He examined it briefly, before stomping hard on a crack down the middle and causing it to split in two. "There we go. Must have been one hell of a fire to have torn that much concrete down."

"Still, there's good potential." Tiffaney noted as she lifted one of the halves to carry outside.

Skorpion picked the other up, waving to Ei and Lola with the other hand. "See you. And Lola, keep safe."

Lola nodded, ears bouncing slightly. "Easier now I have a bodyguard." She smiled, padding over to pat Ei on the head.

"'This we'll defend.'" Ei said, reaching over and pulling her into a hug.

Lola snuggled into him as she waved the visitors off.

---

"They aren't coming for you. You're not their daughter or granddaughter. You think he'd risk what he has just to rescue someone from the future? Causality will sort itself out, and you aren't required for anything significant. They wouldn't send you back anyway; he wouldn't risk his son now to retrieve the device." Machariah stated, looking at the little magical girl. "Neither will your so-called friends. Teenage girls against an army will only end in blood and tears. Magic cannot beat bullets."

But Elsie just looked... well... stubborn was really the only word for it. She wasn't going to listen to him. The young magical girl had plenty of experience with bad guys (and kidnappings), and was quite familiar with the "shake her faith in friends and family" method of getting her to give up.

Elsie never gave up, though, and she certainly never lost faith. She knew they would come for her - all of them, even those who didn't know the truth of who she was, and had only met her a month earlier. And she definitely, definitely wouldn't lose faith in Tali. Tali was coming for her, and Tali would win - it was only a matter of time. Plus, the Power of Love could beat anything.

Of course, that silent stubborn refusal to allow her faith in others to be swayed also meant she wasn't much fun for kidnappers, but Elsie was okay with that. Especially while she had some of her plushies to cuddle with (Mr Pink the gentleman octopus was, in fact, currently situated in her lap and enjoying cuddles, and he didn't appreciate the mean man's tactics, either).

"Love is irrelevant. If she comes, I will capture her as well; she will make a far better minion. You are bait enough."

Elsie continued to look stubborn and not say anything.

"Hm." Machariah regarded Elsie impassively, then prodded her with a broom handle. "I have ways of making you talk, you know." He remarked, poking her again.

The little magical girl continued to ignore him, though Mr Pink may have glared a bit. The poking was ungentlemanly.

---

"Sir! How is the conversion of the captive proceeding?"

Machariah turned to stare at the minion, who squirmed slightly under his gaze. "I have automated it."

---

The machine continued to poke Elsie with the broom handle. Whenever she moved, it tracked her to continue the poking.

And at long, long last, the magical girl reacted. By letting out an adorable sigh, and proceeding to wibble at the poking machine so hard it actually hesitated in its poking.

The machine beeped, pausing briefly before resuming the poking.

"Hello." Zeit said as he simply appeared a couple steps from Elsie, holding a tray of snacks in one hand and a mug of coffee in the other.

"Hi Doctor!" the magical girl was quick to respond, still being totally convinced that he was, in fact, the Doctor. She didn't mind the poking quite so much with the Doctor there, either!

Zeit set his mug on air (where it stayed), before reaching a hand to the machine and put a cubic barrier around it, which he then used to crush it into a small cube. "Snacks?" He asked, offering the tray as he reclaimed his mug.

Elsie positively beamed at him, all traces of her earlier wibbles and stubbornness gone. Instead, the Doctor got a very excited hug. "Yay~ snacks! Are there cookies?" Because of course there needed to be cookies.

"Sugar cookies. Just how you like."

"You're the best~" the magical girl declared, already shedding sparkles in her excitement, instead of asking how he knew that. "Can we have tea too, and make it a tea party?" Because that would be awesome.

Zeit flickered for a moment and a pot of tea along with accompanying cups was on the tray. "Of course!"

It practically went without saying, of course, that Mr Pink got a cup of tea and a cookie, too.

---

"In the meantime, we need more weapons. Better weapons. There is a US Air Force base nearby, and I intend to have it raided for their Lancers."

"S-sir? That's a suicide mission. The firepower those things can bring to bear..."

"At long range. Up close, not so much. And they're not going to call in artillery on their own base, or air support when we occupy their runway."

"That makes... Some sense. Won't that show our hand early?"

"To have an army and not use it is wasteful. Action is required. For larger action, we require more weapons. Therefore, we must engage in battle to obtain better weapons, in order to fight larger battles. Sealand cannot counter Lancers."

"Sir, they took down a fleet of gundams a few years back. Bigger than Lancers, and more powerful." The minion counseled.

"And lost most of their heavy weaponry in the process, including a large mech. Once we have Lancers and competent pilots, we will move on Sealand."

"But..."

"That is not up for debate. Sealand must fall, it's royalty must die."

"I agree that they're a threat, but ethically-"

Machariah cut his minion off. "Ethics? Your obsolete ethics do not apply. They are not human. It is not murder. More like... Extermination. Pest control."

---

"Tiffaney, dear. Are you busy?" Skorpion called out as he approached Tiffaney's lab. "I have something for you."

"No, I. Just a minute!" Tiffaney called out to him as she blindly searched along the floor for her dropped glasses. "This is why I shouldn't work alone..." She muttered.

Skorpion stepped in carefully, holding a case out to her. "Here, try these."

"Try what?" Tiffaney asked as she squinted at the box to see if there was any labeling. "Oh? A gift?" She said as she accepted the case and opened it, her ears and tail perking at the blurry outline of a new pair of glasses. "Aww, darling~" She said as she took the glasses and put them on. "They're perfect!"

Skorpion grinned, tugging her into a hug. "Of course they are; I borrowed your old ones to copy the prescription. I also took the liberty of upgrading them; industrial diamond lenses so they can't be scratched, welded titanium alloy frames for lightness, electrothermal de-misting, and actively adjusted fitting so you don't need to keep pushing them back up."

"Thank you so much, dear! I love them!" Tiffaney said with a big smile as she hugged him back, and gave him a kiss. "This is so sweet of you."

Skorpion returned the kiss, chuckling softly. "I thought I'd give you something useful and practical, rather than a ring you'd have to take off every time you do science. And you DO get bigger diamonds this way, after all."

Tiffaney wrapped her arms around Skorpion's neck. "But I didn't get you anything..." She said with a bit of a pout.

"It's an engagement, you don't have to." Skorpion replied, reaching down to pick her up off the floor and settle her at a comfortable height to kiss her again. "And besides, you coming here was enough of a gift."

"Awwww!" Was all a highly flattered Tiffaney could manage.

Skorpion crouched down, picking up the dropped pair of glasses and tucking them into a pocket of Tiffaney's labcoat. "Best keep these as a spare in case you drop the new ones and they have a hard time finding you. Can your experiment be interrupted for a while?"

Tiffaney nodded, snuggling against his armour, which wasn't too comfortable, but she still liked it.

Skorpion grinned, turning and carrying her out the door. "In which case, it's time you learned the consequences of turning my libido back up."

Tiffaney blushed heavily. "Darling." She said, sounding a little embarrased, but not disapproving. "I guess I need to take responsibility for my actions." She teased.

"Indeed you do, dear." Skorpion relied, pausing to prop her against a wall to kiss her as he adjusted his hands.

---

Summary:
Skorpion and Tiffaney discuss events.
Skorpion asks Tiffaney to marry him.
She says yes! Yay!
Bedtime for Tiffaney. Skorp, perhaps later.
Pillow talk, of space habitats.
Breakfast with Tiffaney. They both kinda like it...

Skorpion bothers Lola while she and Ei rebuild Lackey's as a new club.
Venture capitalism!
Also, Skorpion knows about Ei.
Skorpion explains things to Ei. Machariah, super-soldiers, and so forth. And offers venegance!
Skorpion also offers information to the USA. Shocking!
And to Ei, on how best to take out a Land Warrior. Is that wise? Time will tell.
Skorpion attempts to recruit Ei.
Tiffaney wants to see how he works.

Machariah tries talking Elsie into defection.
She's as stubborn as she is cute.
BUT is she more stubborn than a poking machine?
Apparently cuteness beats out mechanics.
Zeit appears with tea.

Machariah is planning on attacking the USAF to steal their guns.

Skorpion presents Tiffaney with a new pair of glasses in lieu of a ring.
Rings are impractical anyway, and this way she gets two big diamonds and new glasses.
There obviously needs to be some adjustment there.
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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Hyuuint

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 am

Post Sun Oct 30, 2016 10:36 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Forgotten Face New Face
Timestamp: Several years before current day, then after the ElsieNapping
Location: Draken Homestead, Skorpion Tower
Authors: Hyuuint, Skorpy
Characters: Draken, Lizzie, Skorpion

---

-Some time before current events-

It had been YEARS since he was remotely revelant, and even then, he was just some forgotten part of the Pingite defenses. Hardly utilized, barely maintained. What other choice did he have but to separate from the fortress? As an added bonus, he managed to get away from the demon uprising that nearly destroyed the place, and since he was so neglected he was hardly missed to begin with. Not to menton that with all the contacts he made during the years of his existence, his under-the-radar living in the time hence, and his sheer amount of investments in a lot of areas that proved to be highly lucrative, he was able to live a very nice, comfortable lifestyle.

But now? Draken was bored. His new EDS body had been as modified as it could get without risking deterioration, the internet itself bored him, the Tokyo police never dealt with him. It was so....so lack luster.

Maybe it was this boredom that made Draken go lax on his house's outer security sytems. Maybe it was him issuing a challenge to other people. Maybe it was because he went on a three-day internet bender and his systems were still recharging two days after.

Whatever the case may be, it made his current abode a tantalizingly easy mark.

---

The dragongirl lurked outside, peering up at the lit window through the fringe of her cosplay wig. Her stomach growled, and she sighed. "There's gotta be food in there, and some shut-in NEET who won't mind me shacking up with him for a while." She grinned to herself, and stepped over the low fence bounding the property line before starting to clamber up the outside of the house, short skirt and long scaly tail swishing in the breeze.

---

"So many stars....so many starlets...so many Staravias...." Draken mumbled to himself, before snapping out of his reverie. There was an alarm buzzing in his head.

"I don't have anything scheduled..." He reached up and tapped his steel-and-plastic skull before he realized that wasn't his appointment alarm.

"Eh?" With a flick of his hand, Draken brought up the few cameras he had felt the need to install around the place. A few swishes and scans here and there...

"Oho? A visitor? Interesting. Welp! Time to figure out where they're going." He typed in a few things, and watched intently. "Moment I get a bead on direction, hooo, in for a surprise they are."

---

The dragongirl swung herself in through the window, stepping neatly over and under a pair of tripwires, tail snaking between them after her. She stood up, taking a deep breath and exhaling, a light smoke revealing an array of lasers. "Oh, that's interesting. This one'll have PLENTY of food, and some stuff I can swipe for my hoard." She mused, as the window shut behind her with a *clack*. "Huh? Oh crap. That's not-" She was able to get out, before a pair of loops snagged her legs and tugged her upwards. "NO FAIR!" She complained, dangling from the ceiling, legs spread widely as she tried to protect her modesty from gravity's effects on her clothing.

---

"Lessee. Loop trap? Female then. Given that it's..." checks his internal clock "...middle of the night, catburglar? Nah, my house doesn't look that fancy. Drifter? Maybe. Food thief likely. Ah well. Time to go and say hi." He locked his computer, turned off the monitor, and made his way to the offending party's waiting area.

While the abode was not completely small, it wasn't more than a few seconds before Draken made his appearance. "Good evening, miss. I thank you for the visit, but there is a front door to knock upon first." He turned his head sideways to mimic her current situation.

The dragongirl growled. It was quite an impressive growl, with smoke and resonance, only let down by the fact that the smoke drifted upwards in relation to her. "Yes, but suddenly appearing in your bed doesn't work if I knock first." She retorted, glaring at him. "Say, what kind of pervert are you anyway, with bondage traps in your apartment?"

"The kind that makes an effort to think of various ways to catch people unawares. The tripwires and lasers? Decoys. I mean, seriously, how many times have those things been used? Now, automatic windows with unseen ropes that snare legs or arms or whatever? Not utilized all that much." He tapped something on the wall, and her legs spead open even more by about an inch or two. "Besides, me? The pervert? You're the one that just admitted to randomly hopping into people's beds. With a tone that suggests you've done it before, no less." Draken took a moment to lean against a wall, and continued to watch her. She'd noticed by now that not once had he even attempted a glance to anywhere but her face.

The dragongirl fumed. "I demand you let me down this instant!" She shouted, her wings unfolding on reflex with the sound of popping seams. "Is this any way to treat a member of the... Oh crap." She squeaked, clutching the remains of her tank top to her chest with the arm not occupied holding her skirt in place. "PERVERT!" She yelled, accompanied by a snap of her tail.

Another few taps, and that tail was bound too. Pulled taut, but not painfully stretched. "Order of the Pervert? Well, that explains a lot." A few steps, and Draken made it to his captured guest. He squatted down so that he was relatively eye-level. "You, unfortunately, are in no position to demand anything. You do realize that breaking and entering, regardless of outside appearances of the building, is a pretty hefty offense? And despite your rather charming looks, as a kemonomimi of any sort is bound to get the heftiest of punishment. Hearsay speaks of the TPCD not being too favorable to such folks lately, hm?" In spite of what he was saying, it was less a threat and more a direct statement of fact.

"It's hardly breaking if you left the window open, dummy." The dragongirl pouted, the twin pink ponytails of her wig swishing beneath her. "And besides, that's rich coming from the tin man. They'd probably just take you in as evidence, then sell you at auction." She grinned as smugly as she could as she dangled upside-down with shredded clothing, wings flapping very so often to keep her steady. "And if you hadn't noticed? I am a DRAGON. They won't be able to NOT respect me and bow down to worship me as is my birthright."

"So you are. And yet, here you are, dangling upside-down with but a few strips of shredded cloth to protect what little respect you have left. Tell me, o mighty dragon, what caused you to go from having a proper hoard, the wind under your wings, the breath of fire between your lips to...this?" He waved. "Scuttling around, cosplaying, and breaking into another's home for..." It was then that her stomach growled almost as impressively as she had done earlier, "...for food? Food? Of all things? Young lady, I am disappointed."

"Shipping is expensive, and my hoard RUSTED." She pouted. "It turns out, sun, sea, and sand are no good for metals. My hoard of antique aircraft fell apart and dumped me into the sea, and I couldn't bear to sell any of the rest to ship them here and buy a place to keep them. Besides..." She grinned. "There's MUCH better material for hoards here. Plastic doesn't rust, doesn't biodegrade, and comes in all shapes and colours! As for the food... They guard their livestock well, and this city is lousy with mages." She pouted again, making big cute eyes at Draken. "So I'm reduced to accosting lonely young men like yourself for food and shelter."

His smile slipped from slightly smug victory to neutral throughout her explanation.

"You mean to tell me. You went from antique aircraft, whose worth is in the thousands per craft, minimum, to letting them rust and rot to nothing. THEN you...became obsessed with toys." He rubbed the bridge of his nose.

"I was putting the hoard to proper use!" She protested, dangling to and fro as her tail tried to swish. "What use is a hoard if it's all where you can't sleep on it in dragon form? Besides, plastic is far superior. Far fewer pointy bits, for one thing."

"The sleeping thing is an old tradition that should have stopped a long long time ago. The hoard's proper use is that of investment. Seriously, what are they teaching...." He sighed.

"Have you not SEEN those Tolkien movies? Hoards are for sleeping. If it's good enough for Smaug, it's good enough for me." She pouted again, bottom lip trembling as she tried the Big Cute Eyes again. "Are you just going to squat there talking, or let me down and feed me?"

"And yet, it got him killed. And history repeated such end result many times before the book was even concieved." He gave her nose a boop. "I am going to do neither, actually." He stood back up, and started walking out the room.

"You can't just leave me here!" She protested, swaying back and forth from the poke, wings fluttering. "You walk out that door, and I'll set this place on fire!"

"Yes, I can." He turned back to her at the doorway. "One, despite your protests, you really are in a lot of legal trouble, and one that is not mitigated in any way by my current form. Yes, machine I am, but that is by choice of many many decades of self preservation that has led to this state. If any part of the police force finds out about this, especially with the sheer amount of political clout they have gained AND the public pushing them to the point that they are, it will end very very badly for you. Intruder or no, that is not a fate I wish upon anyone. Two, you cannot break free of those bindings. I know, I tested them myself, and had them tested on other stronger beings than yourself. Three, that is a very empty threat. With you as hungry as you are, as depleted as you are, you could barely manage to melt a candle, much less set my home ablaze. To add to this, I have made sure to fireproof this place as best as I could muster, mostly out of boredom, and out of old habits." He leaned against the frame to wait long enough for all of that to sink in.

The dragongirl blinked, then started to thrash against her bonds, sparks flying from her mouth as she cursed Draken in every language she could think of. The sparks settled on the carpet, smouldering briefly before going out, and a blue mist started to form beneath her as she continued to scream at him. After a few minutes, the mist settled as she ran out of breath and curses, panting heavily. "{[And... And... And I hope your canoe sinks in bad weather with your wife aboard.]}" She concluded.

"You done?"

She nodded.

"Impressive tirade. World walker before the family funds ran out?"

"Daddy had a very impressive library as his hoard." She said proudly.

"Hm." He stood silent, regarding her for a short while.

"... Well?" She prompted, crossing her arms across her chest.

"I invoke Draconic Law the Second."

"You..." She fumed at him, smoke pouring from her nostrils. She stopped there, having already run out of curses. "YOU!" She concluded, figuring that to be an insult in and of itself.

"Yes, me. You have invaded my domain, I have stopped you rather thoroughly, and now is my right to invoke." He waved a hand. "And you know what that means."

"I am NOT wearing a maid outfit, you pervert..."

---

"I can't believe you're making me wear a damned maid outfit!"

"I tried to get you other, nicer things to wear, and you burned holes in them all."

"They were as trashy as they were skimpy." She protested, pouting and wibbling at him.

"Hardly. That was one of my favorite t-shirts. But, I digress." Draken leaned against a wall, again, and smirked. "Per the invoking, you are to act as maid till I deem you fit for release. Do you understand this?"

She nodded, the pout turning into a scowl. "And I resolve to be the worst maid ever." She thought to herself, ears flicking.

"Very good. Your first task." He waved for her to follow.

She followed along, tail swishing angrily as she padded across the plush carpet.

Draken waved an arm at the small table, and behold? A fairly nice dinner, if obviously pre-packaged. "Have a meal. I don't eat much, but I do on occassion. Lucky for you, eh?"

She grumbled, but her stomach grumbled louder, and she dug into the meal with gusto, using her forked tongue to collect any stray sauce as it fell.

"Glad you like. We can discuss the rest of the stuff you'll be doing later." He walked out of the room soon after.

---

- A Few Years Later, Near to current events-

"I think you ought to apply." Draken remarked, pushing the paper back. "Interesting how it came up, but really, I see you doing rather well there. Considering."

"Isn't that the place that went up the other day? In flames?"

"Wait, what? It did?"

"... You didn't notice the smoke?" The dragon-maid protested, the tag pinned to her apron proclaiming her to be 'Lizzie'.

"I was a little distracted. Kittens do that." He hrmed in a bit of distaste. "We'll have to find out where they get relocated, but you will be trying out at least."

"... Hrmph."

"You protest, but I remember the sparkles in your eyes." He teased.

---

-Current Day-

You have one new message

-click-

"Good evening Skorpion. Long time no chat. I am fairly certain that you don't remember me, and I am completely for that.

"This Macariah character is starting to get on my nerves. I don't care much for those that rip employment opportunities from my Lizzie, and him riling up the TPCD doesn't help matters either.

"Now I hear tell of where he and his maniac followers are shacked up. If anyone deserves a right kick to the hindquarters for that alone, he and his ilk are the best targets.

"I may have been forgotten. Unused. Hell, ignored. But I have enough respect for the home that helped me in a dire time, brief as it was.

"How much do you remember of the Defenses for the Temple of Ping?"

No new messages.

"Who the hell?" Skorpion asked of the tablet. It said nothing, other than the soft whirr of the quadcopter drone as it hovered. "Wait. The Temple? Shit, that dragon's still around?" Skorpion sat down, reaching for a drink as his mind worked. "I could send John off to... No, not with one arm. Damn. Would he know anything I don't? What can I offer to a dragon for information? Mind you, he contacted me. Does that mean a discount, or free information? Maybe I can offer him some in return. What does he even hoard anyway? Bunnies, wasn't it? And who the hell is this Lizzie?"

The quadcopter just whirred in response.

---

"Thank you for the message. Any information you can offer on defences of the Temple would be welcome; I haven't been there in years, and I destroyed most of them during my visit, as I recall. In return, I can offer information on who this Machariah IS, and possibly a stake in an up and coming industrial venture that would be worthy of your hoard. Who is Lizzie? Did you hire another bunnygirl maid?" Skorpion's response played from the miniature drone that had taken up residence atop Draken's bedpost. "Also, if you could see fit to hold this drone outside and pull the cord on the bottom, it would be much appreciated."

Draken checked out the little device, and indeed, there was a cord. He punched the record button.

"I don't just have any information; I have ALL the information. Including things they themselves forgot. It was a pattern, of sorts. Info on Machariah is not necessary, outside of how to take his ass down, though the industrial stake claiming is a very nice offer. No, I did not hire a new bunnygirl maid, for I have never hired one, nor is she a bunnygirl. It would be best if we met in person, I'd imagine. Soon. I await your reply."

With a punch to the record button again, Draken took the device, dangled it out the window, and pulled the cord.

The drone hissed briefly before a balloon inflated and detached from the top, trailing the drone on a cable as it rose upwards. After it cleared the rooftop, a larger drone swooped down to retrieve it with a Fulton recovery cable, doing a tight loop before heading off in the direction of FGTl HQ.

"Huh. Interesting." Draken watched the device do it's thing for a few seconds, before regarding the dragongirl in the room. "Start cleaning things up in the computer room. I suspect I am going to need to get my old equipment out. And prep your formal uniform. The good one. Going to be in important company, afterall."

The dragongirl nodded and turned to head off, her thick, scaly tail swishing under the decidedly tiny skirt of her 'informal' uniform as she did so.

---

"Oh! You're the dragon Skorpion said to expect?" Mary asked, her ears flicking as she peered curiously at Draken. "I thought you'd be... Bigger. Scalier. Using the runway."

"I was, I was, and I would have if I didn't remember how ...ambitious Largoists are with their anti-air defenses. He is waiting for me then? Could have sworn I was early." Draken's voice just oozed with confidence, lined with a hint of arrogance. Nonetheless, it was like silk in Mary's fuzzy ears. Lizzie was awaiting patiently behind him, though she did throw him a slightly dirty look. Mary noticed that the nametag on Lizzie's blouse was pinned on rather awkwardly, but nothing too egregious.

"He'll be up to see you shortly." Mary assured him, gesturing to the couches nearby with her tail as she typed a message. "Take a seat while you wait. You can also, however, knock right off with that seductive voice; I'm happily married with children. They're in high school, now." She remarked, smiling serenely.

"Seductive....?" He turned to Lizzie. "Did I forget to turn that off?"

Lizzie nodded. "That, and the microwave. But I fixed that, so don't worry."

"Huh." He tapped his neck, and tried again. "Better?" That swagger was still there, but the tone was far more even now.

"Better." Lizzy replied, smiling. "Its not making me wet, but it's still comanding and in charge."

"Good. It would not do to accidentally seduce rather beautiful married mothers, of course." He grinned a bit, then made his way to the nearby chair set. Lizzie did not seat herself, but rather stood nearby, as still as she could muster with her hands on her stomach. Tail still swished a little despite this.

Mary blushed a little at his comment, before collecting herself. "Prince Skorpion will be with you shortly." She commented, sniggering a little. "I'm sorry, I still can't say that without laughing."

"I have trouble with it myself sometimes." Skorpion replied, stepping into the room. "So, Draken, is it? If you'll follow me, I'll take you somewhere we can talk. I'd use my office, but I found a bug in there last week, and I don't trust your maid around the coat rack anyway." He nodded to Lizzy, who was frowning and trying to form a protest. "I know who you are, and you're not adding it to your hoard. It's MY nuke."

Lizzie pouted, turning on the cute dragon eyes and wibbling.

"And don't think that'll work on me. Have you seen my daughters? They're far better at it than you, and cuter to boot."

Lizzie sighed and turned off the wibbles; she knew when she was beaten. Even draconic arrogance didn't allow her to consider that she might possibly be cuter than Arella.

"Lizzie, behave yourself." He smirked, then turned his attention to Skorpion. "You know my name. Been doing your research, or did I slip that in somewhere? And if not in your office, where are we to discuss such sensitive matters?"

"I always do my research." Skorpion grinned. "It's sort of what I do, other than killing people for money. And if you follow, I'll show you." He turned and headed out, propping the door open behind him.

Draken stood and did so, giving Lizzie a motion to accompany him. "Hands to yourself, young lady."

Lizzie nodded, folding her hands demurely in front of her as she followed along, pausing occasionally to peer down corridors or through doors. As Skorpion led them through the hangar, she was brought up dead by a Harrier parked next to the elevator, eyes wide with wonder. "I want!" She announced to Draken, a trail of drool dangling from her mouth.

"No, Lizzie. Come along." He smirked over his shoulder. "The work on them is horrendous anyways."

"I'll have you know that I fixed that one personally." Skorpion remarked. "And it's not for sale; they aren't making them any more, and I've seen what happens to aicraft in her care."

"Was more meaning upkeep, but impressive.". He turned back fully. "Lizzie, we are moving on now." She recognized that tone of voice. Back to Skorpion, "Glad to see you survived. And that you remembered. Pray tell, what exactly are we up against?"

Lizzie sighed, tearing herself away from it before being snared by an attack helicopter, entering another drooling trance of material lust.

"Strictly speaking, I didn't survive or remember. I died in hell, and restored from a backup once my body was retrieved." Skorpion replied, reaching over and dragging Lizzie away from the helicopter. "Mine. If you're good, maybe Mister Drakey will buy you a MiG to sleep on. Anyway, moving swiftly along, he's another sole survivor of the Advanced Land Warrior project. There's quite a few of us now. The difference with him is that he's been taken over by an AI." He continued, handing Lizzie over to Draken and setting off again.

Draken put an arm around Lizzie's shoulders. "She keeps this up, she'll be earning something alright. ". He gave her a look. "I told you to behave." Back to Skorpion, "Another supersoldier. They seem to be as common as magical girls nowadays."

"I'm working on a plan to deal with that, actually. So's Machariah, of course, but he's further along in his, and it's much simpler and more direct." Skorpion explained as he started down a stairwell. "He hunts them. For sport, as near as I can tell. He's attacked and wounded many of them, and has come close to killing two of my daughters and one of my sons, as well as the other land warrior and his girlfriend. However, as a counter to that, my plan starts with HIM. I'm taking him down on Friday. Storming the Temple and making sure he's dead personally."

"And we get to the point where privacy is a must." Draken just grinned.

"Got it in one." Skorpion remarked, staying silent until they emerged from the stairwell a few minutes later into a storeroom full of stacked barrels and crates. "What I tell you cannot leave this room. Nobody must know of it."

Lizzie nodded, giving the universal zipped lips gesture.

Draken made sure the door was securely shut, then made a silent motion for Skorpion to continue.

"The only way to kill him is massive trauma, and then destroying the nanite organ by the spleen to stop him regenerating. In order; simply destroying the organ will leave enough of the in his bloodstream to regrow it. so you need to empty that out of him first. Even then, destroy the head first to make sure the programming can't escape. Even unarmoured, he'll walk off machinegun fire. I've seen him shrug off rifle fire even with the low-profile stuff he's wearing." Skorpion tapped the breastplate of his armour suit for emphasis, causing little chips of ceramic to drop from around a recent bullet crater. "He doesn't seem to care much about physical damage, likely because it's not his body. He can reattach limbs easily, given a little time, and they'll regrow on their own if given long enough. If you encounter him, take him down HARD."

Lizzie nodded, paying rapt attention.

Draken merely quirked an eyebrow, but kept listening.

"Now, if you DO go in there, be careful. Be VERY careful. He kidnapped my granddaughter, and is likely going to try and make him tell her how to use the time machine that brought her here from the future. He must not be allowed to get hold of it, but she also must not be harmed in any way. If you so much as mess up her hair, I will hunt you down and kill you. Nothing personal; you'll understand it if you meet her. She is, quite literally, the cutest thing ever to grace this earth."

Draken smirked at that. "Duely noted."

"Now, this is where you come in. I need everything you have on the Temple's defences, what he's likely to have reactivated, what's left in the armoury, and so forth. I know for a fact he's been stealing from JGSDF armouries, as well, so watch out if you go there."

"Everything, you say?" There was a smile on his face that utterly belied his draconic origins. "I hope you have enough memory in your systems." The dragon-turned-machine held up his left index finger, from which a tiny spike protruded. "Prototype true universal interface. If it has a port, old new or nonexistent at this time or dimension, this can morph and acess it. Only hurdles left are firewalls, but this is real intelligence versus programs built for non-sapient artificial. But I digress." He put his hand down, the spike retracting. "Everything you want to know, up to the moment I left, which was all but minutes before the towers fell, is stored within me. And I mean <i> everything </i>."

Skoroion reached into a pocket, producing what looked like an old gamecube with an array of ports replacing the disc tray, and the controller ports filled with epoxy. "Mass storage. It's empty, transfer it to there and I'll access it from there. No offence, but I'm not letting you stick your finger into any of my ports."

"No offense taken, I understand wholeheartedly." Draken brought out the spike again, and stuck it into the gamecube. It morphed perfectly to fit into the slot provided. He was silent for a short time as the data streamed into the box. His eyes actually flashed with lines of ones and zeros, with some blueprints flashing every so often. "Hm. Ran out of room."

"You must be full of data storage or something." Skorpion remarked, taking another gamecube from his pocket. "Fill that one, I'm sure I left a crate of them somewhere."

---

Half an hour, and a crate of modified gamecubes later, the transfer was complete and Skorpion was busily wiring the gamecubes together with thick cables, splicing them into a larger one. "And there you go justifying my suspicions again. Even without any sort of malware, I don't have petabytes of storage on me without risking overwriting something important like breathing or walking." Skorpion mused as he wound cables, various drones holding cables, soldering joints, and providing strips of electrical tape. "But now I have the world's must durable storage drive, at least until I inscribe this stuff onto gold plates and stash it in a solar orbit."

"I did say I had everything. I value information, history, investments. And yet again, I seem to have chosen my stash very well." Draken's smug grin filled his face. Lizzie rolled her eyes behind him. "I do believe I told you to stop doing that, Lizzie, especially after I schooled you on the rest of your history that you missed. Draconic laws and all."

"Now, despite the fact that you have all this, you are going to be missing one key component to make any plans involving the temple work." Draken pointed out while Lizzie obediently went back to her formal pose.

"The password to the server?" Skorpion asked, as he finished the final joint on the cable. "Or is it the IFF codes that have probably been changed by now?" He continued, adding a connector onto the end of the cable. "Or is it something so secret you can't commit it to electronic storage? Because I love those things."

"A little more simple and yet complicated than that." Draken pointed a thumb to himself. "You are going to need me there."

"Ah, biometrics." Skorpion grinned. "And I'm guessing it's something that can't simply be lopped off you or faked with any degree of ease?" He paused, considering something. "Not, of course, that I actually intend to. I'm merely speaking hypothetically here."

"I knew what you meant." Draken smirked. "Pragmatism and all that. And you are correct at any rate. The limb or limbs alone would not work, and even if you copied me as a body it would not copy me as a person. No memories of how the wiring and all that works. Thus, if you want something done, you need the last living key to the temple. Right now, all Mockery has is rudimentary access to basic things, and I can overwrite him in a heartbeat. Besides, he kidnapped your cute relative, you say?"

"Yes. Certainly, feel free to accompany us if you want to, in that case. I can probably just flatten a way in if I need to like last time, but your way may be easier. Will your maid be accompanying you?"

"How about extremely easy? There is a bit of secutrity I never got to use, and Maxine in there, and their dumbass followers, seem like the best targets." Lizzie earned a look. "She will be at a small distance from the building, but after I deal with Mickmack, I will need her to stay close to your charge. Protection and all that. She can be a brat, but she is still a dragon, and we are not to be trifled with."

"Only if it won't turn on my people, and fine. I'm sure she'll appreciate a dragon ride, even if she can't talk about it when she gets home." Skorpion sighed. "Also, if you find anything that looks like this..." He held up a tablet with a picture of the time machine on it. "Bury it. That thing started no end of messes, and the last thing I want is a second one hanging around here."

"Very well. I can do that." Draken popped himself onto a nearby crate. "Now, I believe you mentioned something about a venture I may be interested in. I have given you something substantial, so holding out on me till I save your tiny person would be slightly rude. Only slightly, though, never a good thing to hold a hostage situation over a friend's head. I could hold Lizzie over your head though, the view tends to make people talk albeit in a stuttering manner."

"Indeed I did. And believe me, I wouldn't double-cross a dragon. I know the first rule, after all. And even though I'm breaking the sixth, I feel the information you have to offer is worth it." He grinned, tapping at the tablet to call up a set of graphs and aerial photographs. "A while ago, I had the good fortune to vacation on a pacific island while doing business there. Now, in exchange for being able to do said business, the less said about which the better, I helped develop industry there. Specifically, turning two of their three major resources into fuel. And so, I am offering you a full 40% of my stake in that growng biofuels business, and in the future venture of extracting fusion fuels from their third resource."

"So that was YOU who took over my second-favourite beach!" Lizzie exclaimed, pointing an accusing finger at Skorpion. "And WHAT resources? All they have are coconuts, seaweed, and lots of seawater!"

"Indeed they do!" Skorpion chuckled. "Coconut oil can be rendered down, and seaweed is a potent energy source when dried. Seawater has both deuteruim and tritium in it, both valuable fusion fuels."

"But you ca-" Lizzie was cut off by a stern look from Draken.

"Young lady, that is enough from you." And that was enough to let Lizzie know she had done plenty. She paused, then bowed low (revealing large amounts of cleavage) and started babbling apologies to Draken.

Skorpion sighed, and set about simply talking over her. "But since that's not much, I've also acquired a stake in the successor to the CATastrophe club. It's still under construction, but I know how you liked to frequent the old place."

"I did, but that is actually secondary to my desires to it's return. She," Draken points a thumb to now silent but still physically apologizing Lizzie, "was going to be submitting an application there." Another smirk to Skorpion. "But, again, off topic. New ventures, always good. Taking out a jerk who is making my life more difficult? Even better. Shall we discuss expelling plans now, or after you have looked over the info?"

"After. This shouldn't take long." Skorpion smirked, and lifted his hair out the way to plug the end of the cable into the back of his neck, zoning out briefly. "My, that IS a lot of data. Okay. Shut the defences down, turn them on his forces, then we go in on the west side, flanking around north and south, and drive them east towards the expressway, where we can park the heavy armour. Bracket artillery on the killing ground between there and the temple, airstrikes to break in and on any centres of resistance. We go through the gap first, along with any of Tiffaney's kids that are able to fight. We find Mickey, and we take him down hard. Maybe Devin can rip his brain for secrets with magic, so I think I'm keeping his head. The rest, we splatter and burn, ideally with thermite. Good enough?" He concluded, looking to Draken, eyes glowing faintly.

"We could do all that. Oooor I can simply waltz into that corridor on the third floor, activate the cute girl defenses that the priestesses demand be installed as to prevent damage to your relative, then proceed to expell the whole lot of them through the walls. As in, the very concrete-and-metal walls. When he lands, then you could extract bloody vengeance upon him without worry about familial damages.

"I fear the more normal humans would not survive such a expelling, but oh well. They threw in their lot with him afterall. I doubt he'd fare much better. Thoughts?"

"Tone it down a little. Expel them into the walls, but not through. If he gets outside, he's as good as gone. He has a stealth generator, and he's faster than me. And besides; this is personal. He hurt my family, so I have to kill him myself. Hand to hand"

"Then I shall continue to make his life hell with the remainder of the defenses. This should be fun. A nice way to end the boredom." Draken turned his head to Lizzie. "You can stand up straight now."

Lizzie nodded, doing so and adjusting her dess again.

Skorpion unplugged himself from the string of gamecubes, the glow fading from his eyes as he did so. "Oof. Meet me back here Thursday night; we go in at dawn. I'll call you if he does anything in the meantime. You have a garden, yes?"

"A small one. I have been meaning to work on it, but I have been very distracted as of late."

"I'd suggest staying out of it for the time being. Urgent messages may be dropped from altitude, unbraked."

"Easy enough." Draken put his arm around Lizzie. "Time to go. And we will be having a discussion about your behavior here today, young lady." His tone was more than enough to suggest how much trouble she was in.

---

"Tell me what you noticed."

"At least one Harrier jet, implications of more, quite a lot of experimental technology, various fighters, a large contingent of loyal Largoists, plenty of room in spite all this, and a highly stocked salad bar." Lizzie listed off dutifully. Draken and her were quite a ways away from the 'palace', and walking at an even enough pace. Draken had kept his arm around her waist the whole time.

"Meanwhile, I have picked off several bugs and tracers, on the both of us, and quite a few in naughty places on your person." Draken noted aloud as well. "You played your part beautifully. I think you overdid it with the island reaction, but we learned how valuable it really is. He must be desperate to lose forty percent of that venture. That, or as I suspect, it is just a drop in his bucket." That draconic grin filled Draken's face once more. "See how much more valuable information is to trinkets?"

"I do, ma- sir." Lizzie nearly slipped.

"This is going to be very wortwhile for the both of us. Maybe... maybe it'll jumpstart my plans a bit as well." Draken rubbed his chin with a free hand.

"Lizzie, get my contacts in order. We are going to need to get in touch with Sonada.

"It would not do for him to interfere, and it is time someone put him in his place."

Lizzie gave a hearty affirmative nod.

---

"So, you picking up any signals on them?" Skorpion asked, leaning down to peer over Strider's shoulder.

"No, boss. They found them all. Good job fobbing him off with just the coconut thing, though." Strider replied, leaning to the side. "Also, don't DO that."

Skorpion reached over and adjusted the screen to see it better. "Like hell am I giving him a stake in Devin's business, or any sort of stake in Sealand. Especially considering I knew half of that crap already."

"Didn't even know we had dragons around here, boss..." Strider commented, moving the screen back to where he could see it.

"We do now, apparently. I'm working on keeping him friendly, but make sure we have stuff that'll take them down anyway." Skorpion ordered, pointing to the screen. "Also, more of those anti-airship missiles. They're big, and they're not exactly fragile, but they're faster and higher than ships."

"On it, boss. Now go badger someone else while I get on with it?"

---

"Oh, and Lizzie? You really are in a bit of trouble. Denial of <i>that</i> tonight and next two days, unless in public or in company."

Lizzie pouted, kicking at a patch of broken pavement. "Bah." She kicked at it again, causing it to bounce off across the parkland in front of FGTL HQ. after a few bounces, it was blasted skywards by an explosion, shrapnel scattering in a wide circle around it. "Meep!"

"Hm. Make that all of it. Bad maid."

"That was hardly my fault." She commented from behind Draken.

"Are you trying for the whole shebang, or are you going to accept what you have now?" Draken asked ominously.

Lizzie pouted harder. "Just protesting. It's not my fault they..." She sidestepped, the chunk of concrete slamming down where she'd been standing. "They have a damn minefield. Fricken' paranoid, if you ask me."

"Less paranoid, and more they enjoy their explosives. Now enough playing around. We have work to do and things to deny you of." He smirked and strode off.

---

"Hm. If I call in my favours here, maybe add a bit of stock there, that should be more than enough to have plenty of ground on Sonada. Lizzie, my case file?"

Lizzie handed the file over on a silver platter, curtseying.

"Thank you." He pulled open the physical files, and looked through each one of them. "Somewhere in here...aha. This will do nicely. Amazing what a little searching does. And if it doesn't, well, that'll prove how far gone the guy is." He put the rest away and set the papers face down on the desk.

"Surely we can just leave things to their own devices? I mean... Sealand is a sovereign nation now, and their military is bigger than the JSDF."

Draken held up a finger. "Only interfere when absolutely necessary. Yes, they have all that but no motivation to use it for any nefarious purposes. For now. A good observation, nonetheless." He brought up a few things for Lizzie to look over. "I am sure that by the end of all this, 'prince' Skorpion will have little reason to even attempt such a thing." He smiled widely, and after a few seconds of reading, Lizzie matched him.

"This looks like a good time for maniacal laughter." Lizzie observed. "May I?"

"By all means."

Lizzie giggled, before taking a deep breath. "Muha-"

---

"Oh, that felt good." Lizzie remarked, settling down on a couch. "The sparks were too much, though."

"I thought it added a nice touch. Whole presentation was rather enjoyable, to me at least." Draken had kicked back to watch his 'apprentice' in action.

"I set fire to the carpet, though..."

"Carpet is replaceable. The only negative I can really say is that your current attire dampened the spirit of things only a smidge, but we can have that worked on later. You will remain as is." Draken smirked again, turning back to his paperwork.

"This should do nicely." He typed in a few things, sequestered off his information to a secured harddrive, and started his nightly systems check. As his computers started their examinations, he turned his attention back to his Lizzie. "You know what time it is."

"Should I get the whipped cream, then, or would you prefer the maple syrup this time?"

"I think the whipped cream will do just fine. Extra this time."

"But it's so sticky!" Lizzie protested, heading off to the kitchen.

"Just makes it more interesting!" He called out after her.

---

Summary:
- Years ago! A dragon was forgotten.
- Hermit-ish life. Not the best, but hey.
- BORED SO BORED
- Another dragon is sneaking around to find a NEET to leech off.
- CRACKTUGYANKTWANG
- Who the hell uses bondage traps?
- After some interrogation, and finding out just how she's fallen, Draconic Law the Second invoked.
- Aww maaaaan. Time to be the WORST MAID EVER.
- After food.

- Turns out, maiding isn't so bad.
- Maid "gains" a new name over time, Lizzie
- They are strangely happy with one another?
- Potential job for "Lizzie" was burned down though.

- Draken contacts Skorpion.
- Skorpion talks to a drone.

- Message delivered via drone. Yay drone!
- Retrieval? Yeah, that's not so easy indoors.
- Fulton extraction by bigger drone!

- After an accidental near-seduction of the secretary, the two powers meet.
- Posturing for one another is mandatory amongst manly men.
- Info explained between the two. Draken offers some insight, Skorpion offers tactics.
- Lizzie offers eyecandy.
- That is a lot of data.
- With a payment in mind and discussed, Macdaddy is one step closer to being taken down.
- No, he will not get the name right any more.

- Both sides are attempting to spy on the other.
- As is normal.

- Draken plots, involving Sonada.
- Lizzie does the maniacal laughter.
<<

ArsenalXA4

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Posts: 61

Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:09 pm

Post Wed Nov 02, 2016 2:37 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Face to Face
Timestamp: Wednesday. T-minus 48 to attack.
Location: [DATA EXPUNGED], Yokota Air Base
Authors: hyuuint, Arsenal, Skorp
Characters: Ei, Shiori, Skorp, Lola, the CIA Rat Pack, members of 28th AI.


Shiori swung around with another right hook, nealy catching Ei off guard. Nearly. He responded very quickly with a parry and a jab of his own. It was a little too slow, and Shiori dodged neatly out of the way. Ei was panting, Shiori was showing slight signs of sweat. All in all, a very even match today.

"PHEW! Guess I called it, eh? You and Lola just needed some venting time." Shiori grinned wide, hands on her hips.

"Not yet... We're not done yet..." Ei said, bringing his fists back up. "Come at me."

"You asked for it!" She was about to lunge in when a horrible, HORRIBLE screeched filled the air.

"Come on... What are you waiting for?" Ei asked, his breathing back to normal.

Her 'waiting' was actually that of her wincing mightily and clutching her ears in pain. "Ow...."

"S-Sorry! I didn't mean to...I mean, I meant to interrupt, but I didn't...uhm...Oh! This is Toby! Another guy from th....the, yeah, you know who. Uh! Right! This, uh, this sparring stuff!" There as a very nervous, nerdy voice coming from around them. Like several times before, Ei was wondering from where they hell they did that. There wasn't a speaker of any sort in sight.

Ei shook his head. "Stop stalling... Let's go!" he called out, trying to get her head back in the game.

"Actually, no I-I-I want you two to stop...a moment...please?" Called out Toby.

Ei let his guard down. "Alright... I need a 'refueling' any way..." he said, walking to where his pack was. He had brought several protein bars for sparring.

"Th-th-thanks! I, uh, look, we've been monitoring ya'lls progress, and you two have been doing great! Awesome even! But, uh, you two need to, uh, .....fight other people? Together? Or something to the effect, the notes are..." There was a great fluttering of paper over the air. "HERE! 'Subjects need to gain better spatial awareness and fluidity in the practice of teamed up defensive measures'. Oh, well, there ya go!"

Shiori looked a little incredulous. "Subjects? Really?" Gave Ei a look. "Whatcha think?"

"Fine by me..." he said, having polished off three bars at once. "What are we fighting?"

"Uh, lessee...I have....I had...where did it-" Aaaand with more feedback, the signal was cut off. Shiori winced again.

"This ought to be interesting."

"Come on, let's fight! The more time I spend on my ass the weaker I get. Meanwhile, there's an enemy out there that's getting stronger." Ei started. "I don't have time to fuck around!"

At this point, there's a fourth voice involved. "An ex-zzt-ellent idea, Mr. Ei. Spa-zzzt-rring would be most advan-zzzt-tageous right now, but you are thinki-zzt-ng on the wrong direction." When the pair turned, they saw....well.

He was probably the most underwhelming bot you could imagine. Thin, wirey, definitely on the old side of tech. Heck, with enough imagination, one could classify him as a 'nerd'.

"Greetings! I am TB-07, yo-zzzt-ur sparring partner for the tw-zzt-o of you."

"What a hunk of junk!"

"I make point-seven past lights-zzzt-peed." He laughed mechancially.

Shiori's nonplussedness grew more. "Uh...huh..."

"To-zzzt-day, I was asked to face the two of you in combat, two on o-zzzt-ne. I felt it a grand idea, for I have not been in com-zzzt-bat in a while." He bowed politely, if a bit jerkily.

"This is going to be like 73 Easting, except Colonel Lynch isn't here to hand the ass beating down." Ei said. the Battle of 73 Easting, during the '91 Gulf War, was the first time a Lancer had been used in combat, destroying several Iraqi T-72 tanks and BMP fighting vehicles without support from Abrams tanks or Bradley IFVs.

"Heh quite likely. Sorry, TB." Shiori moved over and got into a sparring position, waiting for Ei.

"Oh, no w-zzzt-orries. When you feel you have had enough, please say 'pineapple express'. Tha-zzzt-t will be my codeword." TB waited patiently for the two to get ready.

"Safeword, you mean...?" Ei asked, taking his stance.

"Both are app-zzzt-ropriate. Th-zzzt-ank you." TB stood still a moment.

Then he slumped.

"Wha?" So much confusion for her today.

"What a fucking piece of useless tin..." Ei mused, dropping his stance and walking over to the automaton. "Can't believe I thought this would be worth the time..."

TB suddenly stood straight back up as Ei approached. His joints and limbed jerked awkwardly. "H-heZZZTLLO! I am TBTBTBTB-07, your spaRRRRRING! Partnertoday!"

"You...kinda told us that already?" Shiori noted, making her way over as well. What the...?

"OH! HELLLLO! I am I am I am I am-" He cut off when his limbs snapped into a fighting positon, bulking up immensely, with his dainty hands morphing into rather impressive clamp-claws.

"I WILL BE THE ONE TO KICK YOUR ASSES TODAY!"

"BRING IT ON!!!" Ei snarled charging TB.

Shiori ducked down, and did the same, trying to strafe around the morphed mech.

"LESSON ONE!" TB waited till Ei finished his charge, before snapping back with way more speed than thought possible, nabbing his arm, and slamming him into Shiori. "TANDEM FIGHTING REQUIRES AWARENESS OF THE PARTNER, NOT SIMPLE CHARGE TACTICS!"

"Alright... That was a bad plan anyway..." Ei mused, pulling himself off Shiori (probably the only time he would do so willingly). "Shiori, back me up. I'm not letting this tin can beat me."

"Right." She whispered to him "Swing around the back. I'll distract him."

"I'll come around on the other side." he replied. "try and get him with an axe kick, like I did you at the hangar."

Shiori gave a nod, and the two burst off, getting into position.

TB meanwhile stepped back a few paces turning his head between the two before settling on Shiori foremost. Especially since she was already coming back into punching range.

Ei saw the robot focus on Shiori and picked up his pace, hoping to reach him as Shiori did. He hoped this would put him off balance and maybe open him up for a shot from his pile bunker. Ei took the leap.

Shiori took the shot.

And TB merely sidestepped the both of them, letting the pair collide into one another.

Ei could only watch in horror as Shiori ran, face first, into his boot sole, pushing him back as he felt her face mash up against the rugged sole.

That wasn't supposed to happen! he thought, landing then going to Shiori's side.

"I'm ok, I'm go-"

"LESSON TWO! STAGGER YOUR ATTACKS TO INCREASE CHANCES OF SUCCESS AND REDUCE UNWANTED FRIENDLY FIRE!" TB interrupted the pair by nabbing them by the leg each and flinging them aside. "AND HERE I THOUGHT I WAS FIGHTING SEASONED SOLDIERS!"

"Shiori, you're not gonna like what I'm about to do." he cautioned her.

"Wha?" Ei grabbed her ankle with both hands and threw her at TB, rushing after her.

"INTERESTING TACTIC!" TB remarks...before snagging the flying girl out of the air, whirling her around, and slamming her into Ei. "IT IS NOT OFTEN A WEAPON IS THROWN AT ME!

Poor Shiori was left in a dizzy heap right after.

"Okay... that didn't work... You got any ideas?" he asked, keeping his hands to himself. Normally his hands wandered when they were in the position they were presently in.

"Uh...hrm." She sat up, before seeing a shadow! Shiori nabbed Ei and roughly rolled out of the way as a massive metal hand slammed down where they once were. "Like he said, stagger! I'll go for the legs, you wait a second or so and aim for the torso. We might catch him off guard!" Shiori hissed, trying to keep her voice low.

"Got it!" Ei shouted, getting back to his feet. He waited for her to get close before making a break for TB.

Shiori was dancing around the massive mech, batting away punches that were actually pretty tough. One good shot, and she'd be staggered.

"AND JUST WHAT IS YOUR PLAN THIS TIME? ANOTHER CHARGE ATTEMPT? OR WILL YOU BE THROWING YOURSELF?"

Ei waited for her to try to sweep TB's legs, watching the machine jump. He took the opportunity to go airborne himself, tackling the robot.

WHAM! TB finally took a solid hit, bouncing on the ground a few moments. While Shiori and Ei collect themselves, he just kinda lays there.

"....You don't think he's a glass jaw, do ya?" Shiori mused.

"No... But let me check for a pulse..." Ei said, charging his pile bunker as he approached TB.

Once more, TB reactivates as Ei approaches. And clocks him soundly for doing so. "IMPRESSIVE! USUALLY IT TAKES A FEW MORE KNOCKS AROUND FOR WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET INTO A STUDENT'S HEAD! LESSON THREE: NEVER ASSUME JUST ONE COMBINED ATTACK WORKS!' TB crossed his arms and just peered at the two of them. 'LESSONS DONE! FOR NOW! TIME FOR A REAL BOUT!"

"Fatal Fury?" Ei asked. He hadn't played that game in years.

"Fatal Fury?" Shiori asked of Ei.

"No time to explain, get ready."

This time, it was TB who charged the two of them, with the force of a runaway freight train. When he managed to get between the two, he swung about, doing his best to make them keep their distance.

Ei didn't like being put on the defensive. They had to take the initiative back, but how?

"Shiori, grab a fist and hold him!" he shouted, ducking one of TB's claws.

TB, unfortunately, mistimed one of his swings, and Shiori was able to nab it!

...That said, he was still plenty strong enough to simply start swinging with her ON him!

"Keep him busy for a moment, I've got an idea!" Ei shouted, running around to try to flank the automaton. He had wanted to test something out, to make sure it would work.

"I'm tr-y-y-y-y-ing!" She called out, seeing as TB's mid-section was now spinning like a top in an attempt to loosen her grip. To Shiori's credit, she wasn't going to any time soon.

Ei found his opening and leaped at TB, latching onto his leg. He planted the palm of his prosthesis to the robot's leg and fired off his pile bunker. He felt the initial shock from the plating attempting to stand up to the kinetic penetrator then give way as it went through then retract. Ei fell back as TB began to keel over.

"MOBILITY DISABLED! TIMBERRRRR!" TB called out as he fell backwards. Shiori was thrown off and landed atop of Ei. An equal thud of metal and people filled the air.

"Huh... That worked... better than I thought..." Ei mused, allowing himself a moment to relax, in spite of having a snow leopard girl atop him.

Shiori shook her head to try and ward off the way the world is wobbling. "Uuuhhh....what'd you -urk- do?"

"EXCELLENT STRATEGY!' TB called from the floor, pointing a hand upwards. "TAKING ADVANTAGE OF MY MOMENTS OF DISTRACTION TO GET IN A SOLID HIT TO A WEAKENED MOBILITY COMPONENT! I THANK YOU FOR NOT AIMING A LITTLE HIGHER LEST THE REPAIRS BECOME MEANINGLESS!"

"I had to try something..." he replied to her. "...for later, I mean..."

"IF YOU ARE REFERRING TO THE EQUAL ENEMY MACARIAH, HAVE NO FEAR! YOUR PLAN MAY COME INTO EFFECT SOON ENOUGH! SKORPION IS PLANNING AN ASSAULT ON THE CURRENT WHEREABOUTS OF THE MISCREANT THIS UPCOMING FRIDAY WITH ASSISTANCE FROM A HITHERTO UNHEARD FROM FORMER DRAGON-TURNED-CYBORG, A GREAT DEAL OF HIS TROOPS, AND IF OUR PLANS COME TOGETHER, THE TWO OF YOU!"

Ei tightened his fists up then rose.

"I have to get to the range... I need to make sure I'm fully calibrated..." he said, walking toward his gym bag.

"I WOULD APPRECIATE SOME ASSISTANCE IN GETTING TO MY FEET! TB called out, as he shifted back to his original size. Or was it his modified size? "If-zzzt- you don-zzzzt-'t mind?"

Shiorio hopped off Ei and to the downed bot. A quick heft up, and the bot man was on his...well, one foot at least.

"App-zzzt-reciated."

He was soon 'ported off, and Shiori made her way to Ei. "Hee! In a few day, you'll be able to see your friends again!"

Ei said nothing as he unwrapped a protein bar then pulled his sidearm from the bag. He hefted it for a moment then packed it back in. "We should tell D4N1... She's got a vested interest in this."

"Yyyeah we should, but you....don't seem near as excited about this as I thought you would be."

"I have something to focus on... People to avenge..." he said, sounding colder than Shiori had ever heard him.

And she recognized it. "Hey hey hey, focus on me." Shiori notioned, as she stepped in front of him and put a hand on each of his cheeks. "Look at me. He who fights monsters, remember? Can't let him win like that."

Ei closed his eyes and leaned into her, taking a breath. "Y-you're right... You're right..." he said, feeling the realization hit him.

Shiori hugged him close. "I...I know. OK? I know. Just don't scare me like that. You're stronger than...." She stopped herself, and just let her calming presence do its thing.

"Bed sounds good right now..." he mused. "To relax, I mean."

"You could use a nap, yes." Shiori smirked, nabbed his hand, and led him away from the training area. "But not too long. We still have a smidge more to do today."

"Alright... Let's get through it." Ei mused, taking a breath.

"No no, you need a quick rest. Clearly." Shiori smirked back to him. "Come on, you." With a bit of help, Ei is taken to their living quarters. Ei took little time sloughing his clothes off before heading to the shower. He used to be apprehensive about taking his prosthesis as he thought contact with water would have caused a short. The techs allayed his fears in short order.

Shiori in the meantime took a seat on a couch, and relaxed. Hopefully the shower does him some good.

Ei came back after about ten minutes, clad in a white, crew neck t-shirt, and black PT shorts with 'WEST POINT' in gold lettering along the right cuff. "That helped. When did you want to pick it back up?" he asked, taking a seat beside her.

"Two hours. You get some rest now. That's an order." Shiori poked Ei as she spoke.

"Works for me..." he said, rising. "I'm gonna take that nap, now."

"Sleep well!" Shiori waved him off...and the moment he was out of sight and listening range, she sighed mightily.

Shiori gripped her head between her hands, leaning way forward. Jeeeeze. OK. Almost over. Almost over. If I can keep him calm for just a few more days, then...then I can relax, I can make sure things are good....uuuugh.

With a long breath, Shiori leaned back, trying and basically failing to calm her nerves. One more battle.

---

Ei woke a little after the two hours had passed. He sat up and stretched, feeling refreshed. At least the nightmares hadn't come to him this time. He looked around, brow furrowed upon finding Shiori wasn't with him.

"Shiori? Hey, where are you?" Ei asked as he crawled out of bed.

There was no answer. Ei ventured out of the room, finding her still in the living room.

And completely zonked out. Sprawled out on the couch, looking rather...interesting.

Ei felt the blood trickle out of his nose as he gazed upon Shiori, with her shirt riding up.

Shiori snoozed on, unaware of the pervert in the room. Ei sniffled to pull the blood back in. After a moment he took a breath then sat down next to her sleeping form, pulling her shirt down to make her more modest.

"I feel like I should say something. Maybe a 'thank you' for training me up since coming here." he started, trying to find the words.

He gets a light snoozing noise in response.

"I know I'm stronger than I ever was now. I feel like I could, I don't know, fight and win any war." he continued on. "When we finish this and we can return to our lives, I think I'd... Well... Shit, even when you're passed out I can't say it."

"I guess what I want to say is that I want what Hayden has. Without the whole assholery thing he has going on. I mean he's a competent operator and one of the best snipers I've ever seen but seriously, one of these days he's going to piss someone off. Not sure I can count that time at the air base. Althought I should have warned you about his hands. That was kind of funny, though." Ei mused, getting way off topic as the nosebleed resumed.

"He's a jerk..." Shiori mumbled, starting to wake up. Ei nearly jumped, surprised by her.

"Sleep well?" he asked, taking her hand.

"Was good till I had to fight off a horde of Haydens. Everywhere there were..." She grumbled. "How long was I out?" Shiori looked bleerily around.

"Two and a half hours, well past the time you said we had to relax." he replied. "Wanna get back out there or did you have something else in mind?"

"Nnnhh, too late to get back into things."

"Anything else you had in mind?"

Shiori pondered still waking up. "Uhm...no...you?" Ei had an idea.

"You know, I haven't seen the upgrades done to D4N1 since we got here." Ei proposed. "Maybe we could head to the Warmech Bunker."

"That would be a go-*yaaaaawn*-od idea." She sleepily responded.

"I guess you need some more time to nap, huh." Ei mused, pecking her cheek. "I'm gonna get changed."

"Nnn...ok." Ei came back wearing Multicam fatigues and a patrol cap. He had the sleeves rolled up, cuffs out. "Shiori, you ready?"

Nope, cause she'd fallen asleep again. She was on her back, arms and legs spread, and tail flitting a bit in her sleep. Ei reached down to scritch her ears, to see if that would wake her up.

"Shiori, wake up." he whispered into her ears. "Don't make me get the spray bottle..."

All he got in response was a couple grumbles as she curled up onto her side, and into a ball.

So we're playing that game. Okay. he thought as he went into the bedroom. Had she been awake then Shiori would have heard the tap water running for a moment followed by the sound of something being capped.

"Last call for sleepyhead!" Ei called out from the bedroom.

No response, for she was asleep. Ei stepped out with a Super Soaker in hand, pumping it up. He stood over her for a moment.

"Shiori... Wakey wakey..." he said in a sing song voice to give her one last chance.

Which only got him some minor mumblings and snoozing.

"Okay, you were warned..." he said as he leveled the water gun. Shiori was ripped from her sleep, kicking and screaming as Ei soaked her to the bone.

"REVEILLE, REVEILLE, TIME TO WAKE UP!" he called out. Shiori probably shouldn't have worn a white shirt.

Indeed, that was a bad move on her part, though a brilliant one for Ei, seeing as he used extra cold water. The effects were noticeable and immediate. Shiori stood before him, dripping wet.

"Oh, good, you're awake now... Looking fetchingly drenched too." he said with a smile.

---

"Hayden wakes me with a squid plushie resulting in me freaking out and everyone laughs. I wake Shiori with a Super Soaker and I get kicked out of the room." Ei said to Anie as they watched Cabal engineers observe D4N1 go through a combat simulation.

"Gotta remember, she's a Snow Leopardgirl. Prolly doesn't like water all that much." Anie replied.

"Snow's frozen water. Shouldn't have any bearing on it. Any who, could I shack up with you, I'm on her bad side for a couple days."

"No yer not, just for tonight. And here I was plannin somethin' special, but noooooo." Said a familiar voice from behind. Ei looked over his shoulder to see Shiori behind him.

"Hey. You said two hours." he pointed out. "S'why I woke you up with water."

"He tells me nature's thermometers kicked in after that." Anie said with a laugh.

"They did, and that's the last he'll see of em today." Shiori said with a huff.

"I'm looking at them right now. Computer grafted to my brain, and all." he countered, pointing to his head and smiling smugly.

"Perv," Is all she says, before going over and standing pointedly beside Anie and not Ei.

"Alright, moving along, she looks a bit different." Ei said, looking at his Lancer. Much of the armor had been replaced, as had a few hardpoints and external equipment. There was a visor over the optics, however the gouge in the armor could be partially seen above and below it. Anie had said that it could be flipped up when not needed.

"SMART Armor's good but there's not a whole lot left, even at Los Alamos. We replaced most of what Dani had with additional Chobham and reinforced depleted uranium. Add in some tweaks they made to Firestorm and she's nigh untouchable." Anie replied.

"Left leg needs work." Shiori pointed out.

"I used to think that it was odd that the left leg would need so much work but that shouldn't be the case since we took the Ready Position shield off." Anie replied. The Ready Position shield was a deployable defense system that activates whenever a Lancer that has one takes a knee to deploy ready position weapons such as Autocannons or Sniper Howitzers. Dani's had been removed.

"Give it a few seconds." She replied back.

"Looks like the error's popping up in the sim." Anie said, looking at her tablet. "We'll work on it when it's over."

"Which sim is it?" Ei asked.

"The old favorite: Fulda Gap. Threw in a few extras for this one. We threw in some of the new hardware the Russians have been fielding as of late." she replied. "I tell ya what, though, I doubt an Armata would stand up very long to a Plasma Railgun."

Shiori kicks back to watch, and to let Ei and Anie geek out over D4N1. Ei spoke with Anie for the better part of ten minutes, leaving Shiori to zone out. Ei tapped her shoulder to bring her back to reality.

"Anie says that if they start now then Dani should be ready by Friday." he said, looking back to his machine.

"Sounds good. Just gotta find out what she'd do. Skorp is heading the whole thing, afterall." Shiori pointed out.

"That reminds me... I've got a phone call to make..." Ei mused, remembering the card Skorp had given him.

---

Ei sat at a phone bank, staring at the card he'd been given when he met Skorp and Tiff. He had the receiver to his ear, listening to the dialtone, his thoughts turning to the platoon again.

"Changed your mind, have you?" Skorpion answered.

"Actually, I had an offer. For the attack, I mean." Ei replied, leaning back in his seat.

"Ah, you want in? Bringing a mech, or just Shiori?"

"Both. It's been a while since D4N1's been cut loose. She could use it." he said, thinking back to the manhandling Convoy had given her. "She can run the same sim over and over only so many times, no matter how many variables they throw at her."

"Alrighty. I'll try and pull Shiori's out of wherever she parked it; Maxim 37 DOES state that there's no such thing as overkill, after all."

"Dani's certainly overkill. I'll let her know next chance I get. Oh, and I'm still going back to the platoon. They're family."

"Bring them with you, then." Skorpion offered. "I'll even give you a tour in south america, guarding the kemonomimi if you get them all."

If this goes off as planned. he didn't say. "Alright, just let me know when and where I need to be. Anything else?"

"I'll call you when it's going off. In the meantime, tell your buddies to be on their toes. If he needs more guns, he'll go after yours; it's what I'd do in his situation."

"I'll think of something... I'm on a comms blackout, what with being dead and all. Alright, you... uh... take care, or something... Rather not have the kibosh put on this before it's gotten on the go."

"They made their bed, I'm perfectly happy to let them lie in it now it's escaped and come back to haunt both them AND me." Skorpion replied. "Also watch out for Lola."

"I have been. She's... she's been more than a friend as of late." Ei took a moment to gather his thoughts. "I want to help her with the Kemonomimi when this is done. I owe her that much."

"Good for you; they do need helping. But I meant in a more immediate sense. See you on the field, prototype." Skorpion replied, before hanging up.

Just as the line went dead, Ei was hit at shoulder height by a heavy weight from behind him.

Ei turned, ready for the worst.

"Lola, don't scare me like that!" he exclaimed, heart racing. "Shiori tell you I've been kicked out of the room for the night?"

Lola giggled, clinging to his shoulders. "Yup. Means I've got her all to myself for the night!"

"I've already got the mental image... Ah well, it was worth it. Anie's letting me shack up with her tonight. Although I might be alone since she's planning an all nighter in the warmech bunker."

"Aww, you poor thing."

"I'll live. It's just for the night." Just... one... night...

"You deserved it, waking her up like that. Rule one of catgirls is that they don't like sudden cold water. You're lucky you didn't get clawed, or suplexed through the bed. I've seen her dislocate a man's shoulders over a spilled drink."

"As I told Anie, I get woken up with a squid plushie and everyone laughs. I waked up Shiori with a super soaker and I get banished for the night. On that note, she shouldn't have been wearing a white shirt."

"Slapstick comedy is sexist like that." Lola pointed out, leaning in to nibble on Ei's ear. "Also, keep your guard up, idiot." She added, twisting around to grab his non-mechanical arm in a triangle lock, dangling from his shoulder.

Ei turned into her, leading with his prosthesis and grabbing her by the shoulder. "Hayden used to do that to me, a lot." he said, holding her against the backwall.

"I bet he wasn't flexible enough to do this, though." Lola commented, squirming out of his grip to stand on his arm.

"Fortunately, no, but then again he usually followed it up with a knife to my ribs. Never figured out where he kept them." Ei said, watching her balance on his arm. "So how goes it with you? Just lurking about?"

"Nah, I've been out helping Lexi plan her wedding." Lola replied, bouncing a little on the balls of her feet. "Then we went bowling."

"Sounds like fun. I can't remember the last time I went bowling. I think someone wound up throwing a ball down a lane once. Probably Rostok." he mused. "Still planning on recovering your booze later?"

"What's left of it that those bastards didn't drink, sure. Why, you offering to help?" Lola asked, sitting down on her perch, legs kicking idly. "As it might take two trips, to see if they got the secret stash as well."

"I can ask the agents in my platoon. Get them to do recon then decide whether or not it would be worth it to breach and recover. I dunno. Never done black bag ops like this. Or that... Or... whatever it would be..." he paused to think, scratching his chin. "It'll have to wait until after the attack. And provided they're still alive."

"I'll have to get back to you on that..." Ei added after a pause.

Lola reached over to pat him gently on the head. "I'm sure they'll be fine without you around to babysit them."

"Sometimes I wonder. Weird shit happens when you leave the enlisted to their own devices."

"Same happens with strippers. I once caught them playing quoits with one of the patrons, since he liked to be tied up. It was... Slightly disturbing, to say the least."

"Yeah, I can see why... And I have that mental image burned into my head." He grimaced.

"And now you'll never be able to hear the word 'quoits' without thinking of it." Lola added, giggling.

I'd rather have my recurring nightmare... Not the one with Mr. Slicey... The one with the tentacles... Ei didn't say. He was ready for the nightmares to end. For it to be all over.

This is going to be a long couple of days...

---

"And this is a no-bullshit assessment?" Mac asked, Rockwell and Pierce gathered around Jenks' desk in the Lancer hangar. On the desk was an envelope and several pages of notes. It had been sent to the US Embassy and addressed to Major Wylder. Mr. Clancy had called him over from Yokota to see it. The Major had returned from the Embassy and rounded up his agents for a brainstorming session.

"It's written like an official report. The wording is exactly what you'd see in something of that nature." Jenks replied, setting a page aside.

"You sent this up the chain of command?" Rockwell asked.

"Not yet, but I've thought about it. Even if it is, in fact, actionable intel, it still takes time to make it's way from here to Gunsight on the carrier." Jenks replied, using Brigadier Rosoft's callsign. "The most I- we can do is ramp up the platoon's readiness posture. It'll be hard on the men but it's better to be prepared for the worst."

"Full kit, then. My arm's still not one hundred percent." Pierce said. He was no longer in a sling but he still didn't have full range of motion with his right arm, even after rigorous OT/PT with Goleb.

"Do what you can. Shoot left handed if you have to." Jenks said, opening a desk drawer and taking out his last bottle of Jameson. It was nearly empty. He replaced the bottle and closed the drawer. "I'm going to forward this to the Carrier... The rest of you get with Lieutenant Crowley and ramp up our readiness posture." The three agents left Jenks' office, the Major gathering the papers on his desk then stuffing them into the envelope. He didn't know how long it would take to reach the Brigadier but he had a bad feeling it was going to be too late. As the Major sat at his desk, preparing a cover letter something hit him. He bolted out of his office. He found Pierce, Rockwell, and Mac about to board one of the platoon Humm Vees.

"Guys, wait. I know how to verify this." Jenks said, holding up the envelope.

"How do you figure that?" Mac asked.

"Pyle. I've had him monitoring web traffic since we got back. That's how we verify it..." he said. "Get me to the barracks, then we'll seek out Crowley." The Rockwell hopped out of the passenger's seat and climbed into the seat behind it, Jenks mounting up. The agents drove in silence to the barracks, stopping once to allow a HEMTT 8X8 crane to pass.

Finding Pyle in the barracks was easy. The corner he had claimed as his own was the most wired corner in the building, even more so than the NCO office on the second floor.

"Specialist, I need you to see this." Jenks said, holding the envelope between Pyle's face and his laptop screen. He looked up, taking the headphones off and staring up at the four men gathered around him.

"This feels familiar... Like when they picked me up to take me to Leavenworth." he mused, taking the envelope and reading it.

"I need you to pore over internet traffic, anything that may correlate to what's in those papers." Jenks said. Pyle skimmed over it, setting pages on his laptop keyboard after fininishing them.

"I've seen a few things. Lotta rhetoric about 'liberating the tools of freedom from the occupiers' and some such. Nothin' about when or where, though." Pyle replied, sorting the papers then reinserting them into the envelope. "You gonna send it up to the big, bad General?"

"Yeah. It may be too late, though. Get your gear together. We're shifting into a war footing." Jenks said, Pyle handing the envelope back. The EW specialist put his headphones back on, resuming whatever it was he had been doing.

---

Everyone at morning colors thought it odd to see the platoon from Texas turn out in full kit, weapons apparent. Their Armored Infantrymen even turned out in pilot suits, save for that giant, shaved bear. He was wearing a plate carrier and an MCH. Questions were asked behind backs as 28th Armored Infantry filed into the DFAC(Dining Facilities Administration Center), the cooks watching the Mech Killers somehow maneuver around the tables in all their gear. One finally asked the last man in the line what was going on.

"Hey, you guys doing a drill or something?" the airman asked Petro SWAT Officer, the infantryman balancing his M16, helmet, and tray. Petro looked at the Airman for a moment before looking at his platoon then back again.

"We failed an inspection. This is our punishment." he replied, stepping away from the chow line to join the platoon. Petro made sure to pass that along to his squadmates, just in case someone else was asked the very same.

---

Summary

-Ei and Shiori continue their sparring. Ei seems agitated about something, though.
-Shiori is hindered by something, which agitates Ei even further.
-An offer for a change of pace is given.
-Here comes a new Challenger!
-What a shit piece he is.
-Or not. He's apparently a Transformer.
-Ei and Shiori must learn teamwork. Even if that also means Ei using Shiori as a thrown weapon.
-With some effort, and the aforementioned teamwork, the adversary is toppled.
-Ei muses that what he did might come in handy. TB encourages him.
-Ei starts hyperfocusing. Shiori has to get him back on track.
-A nap is in order. For both of them.

-Two and a half hours later Ei awakes. Shiori is still asleep.
-Ei has a little one sided talk with her, saying how he wants what Hayden has.
-Shiori, meanwhile, had a nightmare about fighting a horde of Haydens.
-Ei suggests they go to the warmech bunker.
-Shiori is still asleep when Ei comes back from changing.
-Evil wakeup thoughts.
-Warnings issued. Warnings ignored.
-Ei turns a Super Soaker onto Shiori, waking her up with ice cold water.
-She shouldn't have worn a white t-shirt.

-Ei is banished(for the night.) Ei is going to sleep in Anie's room.
-Discussion with Anie about new upgrades. Shiori arrives (finally awake.)
-Shiori is lost in the technobabble.
-Ei is reminded of something.

-Outgoing call to Skorp.
-Ei offers to bring his Lancer into the upcoming fray.
-Shiori has a mecha somewhere too.
-Lola surprises Ei after the call.
-Some banter about what happens next.
-Quoits. Google it.

-Major Wylder received some correspondence with his name on it.
-Consultation with the CIA Rat Pack.
-Who did it come from? Is the intel solid? Did the CIA really kill Kennedy?
-Send it up the Chain of Command. Might be too late, though.
-Need to verify.
-Visit to Specialist Pyle.
-Intel might be very much viable.
-Platoon readiness ramped up.
-"We failed an inspection."
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CantoAnathema

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Posts: 24

Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:04 pm

Post Fri Dec 09, 2016 3:11 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

"Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows"
Location and Time: Seedy parts of Tokyo, after Confrontations pt 2
Character(s): Jillian, Korosu
Author(s): Hyuuint, CantoAnathema

Jillian was sick and tired. So much waiting, so much talking, so much teenager. Ugh! It was making her sick to stomach! And worse? She was starting to actually mentally censor herself!

Her sister was gone, no matter how much she hated her, cause she did. School guarding was been driving her up the wall: she had at least fifteen people crushing on her and making things even more unbearable, there was some catboy that kept leaving flowers and chocolates on her desk (Ok, fine, the chocolate was a good thing), and she hadn't had a drop of booze in over two freaking mon--fucking! Two fucking months! Gaaaah!

But that would end tonight. She had made sure of it. She had been plotting, locating, and scoping out places all over the city--most on the outskirts--until she found her new haven. Out of the way, no cameras, no nosy people, no way she could be caught by anyone. Ever. A little risky-looking but she loved danger. Always. And if she did get caught? Pfft, whatever, there was no way she would.

In the dead of night, Jillian hopped down to the streets and pulled the hood on her sweatshirt up a bit higher. She had made sure to leave her little tricks and fooling apparatuses behind to make sure no one came to look for her. Hah! Brittany thought she could not be fooled? She will be now! Now she could go about unnoticed. Well, as unnoticed as she could be. It was a bit of work to get to her target. There were cameras, unwanted eyes to dodge, cars that pulled from out of nowhere, and Largoists aplenty. Still, after a bit of skillful stealthing, she made it out to the seedier part of town. Her home. A deft glance here and there, keeping an eye out for any pursuers, and Jillian turned a corner, only to turn again within a second to go down a relatively unseen corner. A few more twists and turns, and finally there was a doorway wreathed in dim, sputtering lights.

She had arrived to her Heaven.

To call it a dive bar would have been an insult to dive bars everywhere. It didn't just look suspicious, it flaunted it. Broken bottles were strewn about the front like invitations to fight and the lights flickered across the boarded up windows like a bad haunted house. From beyond the door, a (probably stolen) sound system was playing the best of the 70's and as Jillian opened the door, the smell of liquor and smoke spilled out. It was everything she could have hoped for.

There were plenty of people there tonight, all loud and surly in their own way. She walked up to the bar and leaned against it. There were no stools to sit on or, more likely, be used as improvised weapons in a fight. The barkeep, a tattooed boulder of an ex-sailor, shifted over to take her order.

"Beer," was all she said. And all she needed to, as he turned to the greasy taps behind him. Well, that was a good fucking start for the night. Normally she got more grief about her looks from the guys behind the counter. She'd picked the right place.

Or so she thought.

"<Heeey, missy! Bit late to be out, ainit?>"

Great. The usual, leering drunks. She didn't turn around. It wasn't worth a fight. At least, not until she got her beer.

"<Somebody's daa-ought-er came lookin' for 'im!>" The first voice's neighbor called out, struggling with the syllables.

Inebriated giggles punctuated the laughter and shouts: "<When ya comin' home, daddy?>" and "<Better daughter than wife!>". Then, finally, "<I'd come home to a girl like that, if you know what I mean!>" Ah. Perverts. Well, it'd make the inevitable fight all the more enjoyable. Jillian tapped her fingers impatiently on the counter.

A chair at the table behind her slid back and its occupant rose to his feet, turning towards the bar. Jillian's mind clicked the basics into place before he'd taken a step.

Male. Five foot nine. Fairly heavy set, probably muscled. He'll lean in.

She estimated his reach just as the barkeep passed her a tall mug, froth spilling over the lip.

Perfect.

Holding the glass securely and placing her weight on the counter, she pivoted--swinging her leg upward. Whatever the man was about to say (or do) was cut off as her foot smashed into his great big bushy beard. Despite his relative size and weight, he was lifted up off his feet and came crashing back down onto the table he had just left. Drinks smashed as it upended, scattering the occupants - a gathering of what looked to be a gaggle of Japanese businessmen, suits crumpled and ties around their foreheads. Their previous leering and jeering was instantly replaced with shocked silence, stupidly plastered across the drunk red faces, as they stood around their fallen friend. Seeing no signs of anybody wanting anything more, Jillian leaned comfortably against the counter and lifted the much-needed glass to her lips.

The bearded man started to lift himself up off the table and, well, that wasn't allowed. She set the glass down and, since there were no bar stools on hand, picked up the nearest chair.

"<Well, good to mee-->" he was saying as the chair cracked against his head and shoulders, snapping in a dozen places. He dropped again, this time breaking the upturned table entirely, wood pieces of furniture scattering about. Jillian tossed what remained of the seat on top of him before turning heel and heading back to her drink. None of the other drunks dared to move to help their companion up, instead slowly backing away and heading towards other tables. And yet--

The prone man mumbled from the debris, "Kuree chassa ya--"

"Oh, for fuck's sake!" Jillian shouted. One quick turn, an even quicker step, and she reached down. Her fingers didn't even make it fully around his ankle but that didn't matter. Leverage be damned, she pressed her feet to the floor and swung. With expressions mixed between shock, awe, and utter horror, the other bar patrons watched as the man was thrown bodily into the air. For a moment, it was almost graceful--the vagrant-looking fellow hung suspended, outstretched and twisting like an Olympic pole vaulter at their peak. He cleared one table, then another. Then he returned to earth, crashing into a third table, then another. Those who hadn't been paying attention were now, if only because they had no choice. Several of the braver (read: foolish) patrons took steps forward, now well aware that this was some sort of meta-human monster-girl.

"Na maleh ba bu..." The man muttered, trailing off as he sat upright. Tousling his hair and beard sent bits of wood across the floor and, as when he coughed, something solid plopped out. "Ick." He added, rather thoughtfully, before pushing himself to standing. Waving dismissively to Jillian, he called, "<Alright, princess, what d-->"

A moment later, both of Jillian's feet connected with his chest. A moment after that, he went through two more tables, crashed a half a half dozen chairs, knocked past four sailors and two salary men, and found a most uncomfortable seat in the decades old jukebox in the corner. A few clicking sounds were heard, as he groaned painfully, and a scratchy 70's ballad started crooning out. It made what happened next rather surreal.

"I. Just. Wanted. A. God. Damn. Drink!"

Jillian seized the man by his outstretched arms and swung him again. This time, she didn't let go. Instead, she swiped him across a few stools, scattering them like wild bowling pins. Then, she brought him down on another table, then another. Then, she turned like some horrifying, rampaging windmill towards the other patrons. The few who had been planning on stopping her turned and ran, as she swung her human-flail about, scattering furniture, crashing glasses, and sending fragments of froth-covered bar counter through the air.

"ONE! DAMN! DRINK!" Jillian roared, as she did what she did best, with nary a soul escaping her fury.

Several minutes later, she stood just about alone in the middle of the devastated bar. Not a single bit of furniture was unbroken. The bar itself had been dented in plenty of places and several holes had been smashed clean through. The bar taps were spouting the last dregs of their contents, the small flood of it carrying away blood, debris, and the odd shoe left behind in the mad dash away. Only 'just about' alone, though--as she stood, breathing deeply and disheveled, there came a low groan from near her feet.

The bearded man was a patchwork of cuts, scrapes, dents, bruises, and other injuries too numerous to be listed. From his swollen lips, which stood out just barely from his swollen face, came the quiet moan of bodily suffering. She hadn't killed him though, she thought in satisfaction, as she let go of his leg.

As the bare foot thudded against the floor, sirens cut into the otherwise quiet bar. Aw shit, Jillian thought. Normally, the cops wouldn't have been a problem but she had a cover to maintain, even if every baby and their future-mother knew who she really was. She cursed again, running out the back door and down into the unlit alley behind the bar. While many inhabitants of the city would have taken to the rooftops, Jillian knew better -- no sense in running into any magical girls, brooding vampires, or Largoist surveillance, especially not now. Instead, she kept to the dark and the alleys, vaulting over a chain-link fences and barriers with ease as she crossed block after block of the city.

When she stopped, it was at the mouth of an underpass--the last train that night rattled overhead, casting a brief moment of light across her path. She stopped a moment.

With something akin to a mix of horror, disbelief, and anger, she turned around and yelled: "What the hell did you follow me for?! You pervert!"

The bearded fellow looked over his shoulder. Seeing no one else present, he looked back at her through his one eye not yet swollen shut. He shouted in reply: "I thought we were running out on the bill?!"

"What bill? We didn't even get a drink, you moron!"

"Oh no, I knew I forgot something!" He paused, a disappointed sigh escaping his bloody lips before he shouted again. "Do you think we should go back for one?"

"Are you--" Jillian said, only to be interrupted by another blare of police sirens, screeching in the distance, "fucking kidding me? Shit, need to keep moving." Without bothering to check with her hanger-on, she started down the dark street into the darker night. Despite the number she'd done on him, the man kept up with her--though less gracefully and quietly, especially when it came to climbing up to low-rooftops or sneaking through narrow passageways. An hour and change later, the culmination of their escape was a half-constructed apartment complex, left abandoned by some ill-wind in the economy. With a heavy sigh (impatience and frustration, rather than exhaustion), Jillian slumped down and dangled her legs over the edge, where a living room wall was supposed to be.

"Shitsurei," the man said quietly, as he walked through the empty door frame and over to take a seat next to her, missing--or ignoring--the disgusted look she shot him as he did so.

"So," she said, sliding a few inches away, "do you always stalk the underage girls who hit you?"

The swelling and injuries of his face made it rather difficult to tell but his expression was one of genuine surprise. "Not at all! This is the first, I think."

An idiot. Jillian thought to herself, although her expression said just as much. A pervert, weirdo, and world-class idiot right here. "Right. So should I feel special? What do you want?"

"Want? Oh! Hah, right! I had meant to apologize for my friends' rather rude comments." His quick laugh seemed to shift some injured bone or muscle and he winced, smile remaining in place, "Drunkenness is hardly an excuse but they meant no harm."

"Yeah, well fuck them. And you--an apology? Apologies don't start with a leer up my ass."

"Leering...up...oh, no! Perish the thought!" The surprise was now exclamatory--the nosebleed that abruptly began might have been from his injuries. Maybe. He pressed a hand to his chest, proclaiming, "Not to say you aren't attractive, of course. And very fit. Are you an athlete of some sort?"

I am going to kill this man Jillian thought for a moment, before reigning in the urge. Under cover, remember? Don't stick out. Disposing of bodies sticks out. She did her best to ignore him. But looking at the man's battered mug, looking at her with such insistent enthusiasm, Jillian finally let loose a scream. It echoed through the empty building and out into the night, dispersing through skyscrapers and streets.

"So much planning ruined!" She was on her feet, grabbing the collar of the man's oversized jacket and hauling him over the edge, perilously close to a quick trip downstairs. "And it's all! Your! Fault!"

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Just one night! I just wanted one night! To drink a shit-ton of booze, beat up some lowlifes, maybe even blow something up! And you--you goddamned moron--ruined it!"

His legs were dangling now but her temper wasn't the same rage that she had in the bar. She wasn't going to let him drop. Though she really fucking wanted to.

His hands, covered in cuts and dried blood, reached up and touched hers.

"Miss--"

"Jillian."

"A pleasure. Miss Jillian, there is still plenty of night left. Will you allow me to make it up to you?"

"What? You better not have some gross idea--"

"I have many but that's not the point right now." He smiled. "Alcohol and fighting, is it? Preferably against unsavory sorts? I happen to know just the place. If you'd just let me dow--" She loosened her grip, just a little. "--wwwwwn! Somewhere solid!"

She laughed. It felt a bit weird, like it happened despite herself, and she bottled it up quickly but she let out a quick, rough laugh all the same. Dragging him back into the unfinished room, she tossed him down.

"What do you have in mind?"

Several hours later, "Miss Nyaa's Litty Kitty Cafe" was on fire. It hadn't actually been a cat cafe, of course. The exterior was just a front for a different sort of 'kitty' and different sort of 'cafe'; a yakuza-run brothel, exclusively offering underage nekomimi. The girls now huddled across the street from the blaze, draped in blankets and coats, while Miss Nyaa and her accomplices were unconcious nearby, trussed up with electrical wire and various adult toys serving as gags. Sirens wailed in the distance as police, fire fighters, and news reporters descended on the strange scene.

As for Jillian and her companion? They were running as fast as they could in the other direction. Still, not so fast that Jillian couldn't pried off the top of a new bottle and chug it down. After whipping the excess from her mouth, she grabbed another bottle from the box her running mate was carrying. And she laughed.

"Hey, dumbass!"

The man glanced over his shoulder. Finding no one there, he looked back at her. She groaned and pointed the bottle at him.

"Yes, you, moron. What's your name?"

He smiled and gestured to himself with the box full of expensive alcohol. "Please, call me Korosu."

"Yeeah, probably will keep calling you a moron." She broke off the top of the booze, mock-toasting, "But what hell: here's to yet another idiot ruining my life."

"To new friends!"

"Yeah, fuck you too." Jillian agreed, chugging it down.


----Summary:----
- Jillian escapes her usual day-to-day grind to go out drinking one night
- At some crappy bar which most definitely doesn't ID, she encounters a group of drunken guys who harass her
- She beats one particularly sturdy fellow up. He stands up, she knocks him back down, rinse and repeat
- She gets tired of her binge drinking being thawrted and uses said man to destroy the bar
- Police! She runs off, only to be followed by the same guy
- More running! They talk and find a way to get Jillian's violent drink on
- More running! And drinking! Also fire.
Remember kids! Jillian says "Friendship is fucking magic."
<<

Hyuuint

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 am

Post Wed Jan 11, 2017 11:43 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Police Takedown
Timestamp: 2 Days before Operation MachDown
Location: TPCD Headquarters
Authors: Hyuuint, Arsenal
Characters: Chief Sonoda, Draken

---

"<UGH! What a day. Fifteen raids, and those....things are still trying to find ways to get by. Hmph.> Sonoda grouched to himself, as he stalked to his office. "<Once all this is said and done, at least->"

"<Good evening, Chief,> an electronic voice rang out from behind the officer.

"GHAA!" Sonoda whipped around, reaching for his taser, ready to take down the intruder. Once he got a good look however...

"<An...EDS? What are you doing here?>"

Draken smiled lightly. He was dressed semi-professionally, and had a few files of different coloured bindings under his left arm. "<We have business to discuss, Chief. Name's Draken. Should ring an old bell.>"

"Dra...oh. <You. Right. Dragon. Fine.> Sonoda responded curtly, waving the dragon-oid into his office.

Draken strode in, and sat himself politely in the chair in front of the desk.

"<So, dragon, what do you want? We already decided your territory years ago, when you decided to resurface. We already went over the laws between the two of our kinds, the outs and allowances. No one's messed with you or anyone like you, so->"

"<And that's where you're wrong.>" Draken cut in. "<Plenty of people 'like me' have been messed with. And they are continuing to be messed with as we speak.>"

"<What, those animal and anime freaks? They're not like you, they're halves and quarters and everything else that's just...weird."> Sonoda argued back.

"<Doesn't make them any less people, and not things.>" Draken responded, a slight growl to his voice. "<Not exactly thrilled with the idea of them being so....mishandled, Chief.>"

"<So, what, you're gonna claim them to be your territory or something? We already->"

"<No, what you are going to do is take a few days to think about what you have been doing, and how it's going to be affecting not just the people who DON'T believe you are doing the right thing...or the companies and technologies that are supporting you for that matter.>"

"<Excuse me? And what business is that of yours?> The Chief asked ominously.

"<All of it.>" Draken pulled up one of the folders, a green one, and slid it over to Sonoda. "<Have a look.>"

Sonoda glared at Draken for a few seconds before he cracked open the file-folder, and started to read. A few minutes in, his eyes had narrowed so much that they were nearly closed.

"<....This. This can NOT be real. This is all->"

"<I assure you, it is all completely real. I own every one of those companies in that file, and several more not listed, and you see what they effect. Don't you?>" Draken leaned back into his chair, sitting upright.

"<.....What do you want?>" Sonoda glared even harder. "<You just going to hold this over our heads, blackmail us? Like that would work out too well for you!>"

"<Hardly.>" Draken glared back just as hard. "<I play a clean business style. No, I want you do to what I said, and think about what you have done and started. And how to pull it back.>" His face softened. "<I also want to talk.>"

"<About...?>"

"<About how your daughter would not want any of this.>" Draken said boldly.

Sonoda's face twitched as he stood up and slammed his hands on his desk. <"You cybernectic draconic bas-!>"

"<You will hear me out, Sonoda, if you're not going to talk politely.>" A draconic growl tinged his voice. Sonoda's face twitched again. The chief sat back in his chair.

Draken took a deep (and unnecessary) breath. "<What are you doing? You're kicking people from their homes, ruining their businesses, bringing up segregations? And at the same time, do you know how much corruption is coming into play on your watch? Do you really think your daughter is going to approve of any of this? Hell, do you not see what you are setting her up for? A world where she and people like her will be living in fear? All because dear daddy had a meltdown.>"

The dragon slid over the other files, save one, and opened them up one by one.

He pointed at one. "<This family was basically robbed by several TPCD officers, claiming that their possessions were 'stolen contraband'. When they tried to get their things back, they were rebuffed, and eventually evicted.>"

Another. "<Elderly independent shop keeper. Place was raided by a bunch of random crooks. But because she was seen in 'favorable company' with a bunch of kemonomimis, she was ignored. Several times.>"

Yet more. "<Several reported cases all involving the TPCD all doing the same thing to students. either kemonomimi or 'allies', of all grades. Ignoring their calls for help. All of them found later in the worst possible state you can imagine, save for the truly worst. That was saved for...>"

And the final file. "<Yoshiyuna Miki. Age Sixteen. Close to your daughter's age, wasn't she?" Sonoda just kept his eyes on the papers. "<Two weeks ago, she was pursued by several rather unsavory beings. She got to what she hoped was sanctuary, only to be kicked out. She was found the next morning.>" Draken tapped the papers. "<In a rather grotesque manner.>"

Sonoda's face didn't change, but he did seem to pale a little.

"<And that's just the direct TPCD side of things, or their influence at the very least. Then I hear rumors that your department is not just allowing but kowtowing to a super-human hunting nutjob? That'd go over really well. Wait no...>" Draken pushed over the last file.

"<It hasn't.>"

The chief's face remained the same as ever, as he pulled over the last one, and read it briefly. There was a heavy silence in the office as Sonoda looked through, and subsequently put down, the pile of papers.

"<....What do you want?>" He asked, voice shaking just slightly. From fear? From anger?

"<Exactly like I said. You pull your forces back a fair bit in what they have been doing, and maybe put together what you have done.>" Draken repeated. "<The better part of me wants you to realize just how bad things have gotten. Try to do what you can to mitigate the damages, slow it down, or better stop it all together.>"

With a sigh, Draken's face went a fair bit more impassive. "<The pragmatic side says to remind you just what is hanging over your head in terms of career and department. My influence aside, all of these beings that I represent are starting to get very very leery about the state of things in this city, especially seeing as they are seeping out into the rest of the country. And considering a good chunk of them originate from countries that have since fallen in love with the people you are harming...>"

Sonoda shut his eyes, as though in contemplation.

Draken continued. "<We are going to be taking down Machariah. Soon. If the TPCD deign not to interfere, I will take it as you deciding not to make things worse for your department. If they show up to help, at least to provide official arrests for the ones that can be arrested? Even better.>"

The chief looked up at the dragon, his glare not having left his face.

"<But if they appear to make things harder in taking down a megalomaniac bent of destroying everything? And yes, that is his intentions in the grand scheme of it all...>" Draken tapped his file. "<This may be the least of your worries. 'Cause the public will go nuclear over the rest.>" A hand waved over the substantially larger piles. "<I don't want that. Riots are the last thing we need. You remember the Anti-Anime-Riots in the US back in the early nineties, right?>"

Sonoda gave a curt nod, then went back to peering at the various papers.

Draken sat there in silence with him for a few minutes. When it became apparent that his message was clear: "<Have a better evening, Chief Sonoda. 'Till we meet again.>" The dragon stood up, and left the office.

Alone, Sonoda continued to stare at the files, rifling through them a few times. After an hour, he stood up, and moved to the nearby window. He stared out into the city well into the night...

---

The Navy calls it the Scuttlebutt. The Marines call it the Lance Corporal Underground. The Army has the E4 Mafia. No one knows what the Air Force has. The military has many names for what civilians know as the rumor mill. Sometimes it's spot on. Other times the information is faulty and off by miles.

The rumor mill was running into overdrive among the rank and file of the TPCD, many weary officers speaking amongst each other with hushed tones.

Rumors abounded, many passed off as unsubstantiated drivel. The first worrying sign that some of it was true was when the first resignation came in. A patrol officer from Saitama turned in a letter and his badge, citing "stress on the job" as his reason for quitting. Then another, this one a SAT officer in Nerima, with no reason given. Or a letter. He just up and quit. These rumors were disheartening, to the veteran officers and to new recruits.

Then again, they're only rumors. Right?

---

"<Any ideas on what the boss called us in for?>"

"<No clue. Maybe about the recent quitters.>"

"<I think it'll be another raid. Maybe that bar place.>"

"<Nah, it'll be another underground railroad. Easy.>"

"<You sure about that? The last raid didn't go off so easily.>"

"<They just caught us unawares.>"

"<Whatever it was, this is my last week here. I'm done.>"

This was about to start another ruckus, before the chief himself walked into the room. "<Alright, quiet down, all of you.>" Officers settled down, taking seats and waiting for the Chief to speak. The revelation of another resignation did nothing to make the mood any better.

He regarded each person in the room, waiting for them to settle. Even then, he waited a bit longer, the room feeling more tense by the second.

"<I have received some intel that a group of people will be taking down the meta-hunter, Machariah. We do not know when this is going to happen, but our intel suggests it won't be for another week or two, and it is my belief that his organization will be...terminated. With him along side it.>" The room became abuzz with muttering among the assembled officers. Some were wondering if they were going to intervene or if they were going to wait on the sidelines.

"<Aside from a select few of us to be on-site to prevent as much civilian casualties and subsequent arrests, we will not be interfering. With the groups involved, we would be outmatched in sheer strength alone, on both sides.>" On that all officers present could agree. They may have been given an increased budget but if it came down to a slug-fest with the remaining factions in the city then the police would lose.

"<What about the SDF? Aren't they going to get involved?>"

"<No. They are not. With things going on around the city, and again, the people involved, they can't.>" There's a heavy sigh, before he continued on. "<It has also come to my attention of what has been happening. Beyond just Machariah, I mean.>" Still more muttering among the officers. There were quite a few who supported what Machariah did, not openly however.

There was a long sigh. And now to cross the Rubicon.

"<Effective immediately, we are going to be changing things, changing policies. It'll be...slow, not something to happen overnight, but if I hear so much as a hint of someone not following the credo we are supposed to represent, I will be coming down hard on them. We...have not been following it, not like we should have. That includes our treatment of metas...or rather, the innocent ones.>"

That led to some shouting from a few veteran officers. The more disillusioned remained seated and quiet, a few nodding and deciding that such policy change was long overdue.

Sonoda waited a few moments to let them vent. When the a couple of the officers continued for longer than they should have, he shouted <"Alright, alright, you've made your point, NOW SIT!>"

The offending officers grumbled but complied. As they settled down, Sonoda continued: "<We are still going to be keeping a heavy eye on all things magical, supernatural, anime, and their ilk, but we are going to have a much better filter about it. More regulated use of the Anti-Anime fields, better degree of patience for low-level unnatural influenced individuals, and with that said, an actual method to, well, rate said individuals.>"

There was less grumbling this time, the vocal majority quieting down. A few of the silent minority were already whispering among each other, hopeful for this change of events.

"<That said, we are going to continue our NORMAL duties, and keep an eye out for trouble. We have received reports of...>" Sonoda droned on for a bit, pretty much noting out what they already knew.

A short while after the meeting, a few officers convened.

"<Well this sucks. Now those damn half-breeds get to run around rampant.>"

"Urusei..." Shut up.

"<Tch, whatever. I'm going home. To NORMAL people.>" She wandered off after that, muttering under her breath the whole time. The older officer shook his head, watching her go. He had hoped to effect change as a member of the Metropolitan police. It had become something altogether different than what he remembered from his youth. For that reason he was kick-starting his retirement. His papers were already filed and his passport was in order. Two days and a wake-up was all he needed.

---

Summary:

- Sonoda's had a long day of capturing innocent people.

- Draken intends to make his day even longer.

- Curt welcomes, then straight to business.

- Speaking of, Draken's been doing a lot of it. Holy cow.

- Draken shows a bit of his hand, and calmly(ish) informs Sonoda of his position.

- Vague warnings included.

- To kick it up a notch, files of victims are shown. It's not pretty.

- Sonoda appears to be cowed enough. Draken leaves him to stew.

- Apparently, even the police force has been having issues.

- A meeting has been called? What's it about?

- Oh. Well. That changes things. No more prosecutions, no more ignoring the bad guys.

- That did not go over well for some.

- Some are relieved, but a mutinous feeling remains for a few.
<<

Skorpynekomimi

User avatar

Posts: 95

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Mon Jan 16, 2017 3:30 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Meeting of the Mighty Minds
Timestamp: Shortly before the takedown of Machariah.
Location: A meeting room in FGTL HQ. Not in a basement, this time.
Authors: Hyuuey, O-ring, Ei, Skorpy.
Characters: Skorpion, Tiffaney, Shiori, Ei, Draken, Lizzie, Alexis, Lola, Eva, John, Mary, Devin, and Lucius.


---

Shiori and Ei arrived via teleport. After they waved off the usual sense of vertigo, the two looked about, and figured they were in the right place for the meeting, if just a little too early.

"Figures she'd send us before everyone else." Shiori mused.

"I feel like I left my stomach back there... Teleportation always feel like this?" Ei asked, trying to recompose himself.

"Wouldn't know, being allergic to magic and all." Skorpion commented from right behind the couple. "Incidentally, you're lucky in that regard; if I hadn't sensed you coming, you'd have ended up inside the table."

"I'd rather not be an Abstract Daddy. It'd be hard to fight that way."

"A...whonow?" Shiori looked non-plussed, but shook her head. "Anyways, not magic. Least, they say so."

"Some high technology shit. I learned to stop asking questions a long time ago. Except for one:" Ei paused. "What do you have in mind?"

"Clarke's third law." Skorpion pointed out. "Anyway. The gist of the plan is that he's going to attack that big US airbase, Yokota, sometime soon. If he hasn't started moving on it already, at least."

"Yokota? My platoon's there! I mean, I sent out a warning, indirectly, but they don't have time to prepare a defense."

"True. And if I warn them, he'll know that I know what he's up to. And, of course, if they know that I know what he's doing, they'll assume I know what they're doing, and change so I don't know any more." Skorpion pointed out. "So, my second proposal is to invade from the other side, just after he does. All the defences will be pointed the other way, so we just blitzkrieg on through them, steal whatever we can, disable the rest, and continue on to the Temple."

"What kind of forces and weapons are we gonna be having? You mentioned my mech in passing, but it's a manual, and Ei and I are going to be 'ported in at some point, according to Brittany." Shiori crossed her arms and tried to stand in a more comfortable pose.

"Nobody told me about that. Go get your mech. and she should be able to teleport it in. Otherwise, I can arrange transport for you to get it to the scene. Ei, if you could find yours, that'd also help. Mine is still busted, sadly; I had it partly working, but then had to scavenge it for parts for the shuttle. Anyway! You two go in first, and open up the defences after the initial artillery barrage. The rest of the forces will follow you, and continue on to the Temple if you can't get out the airbase in time to lead them."

"You mentioned something about a Temple?"

"Yeah, that's where he's hiding out. The Temple of Ping."

"D4N1 should be kept away from the airbase. She left a few disparaging words for our lead AI before she left. Keep her on the sharp end on the temple assault." Ei suggested. "You might want to give me something to give her so she doesn't wind up taking friendly fire. Some kind of IFF transponder."

"Oh, sure. You two should wear one too; artillery will use them to steer away from you, as we don't have the time for a preliminary bombardment. We'll just be shelling it as we attack it. Shiori, you might want a parasol or something; the fire will probably steer away from Ei and onto you. You can take it, he's squishier."

"...A parasol."

"Y'know, an umbrella. The kind of thing you keep from getting wet in the rain or to protect yourself from the harsh sun." Ei joked.

That earned him a nudge. "I'll think about it, but my on-ground fighting style tends to involve a lack of weaponry."

"So I've seen."

"Hell, loot weapons from the dead and use 'em. Best way to return enemy ordnance to them. S'what I'm doin'."

"See, I'm just testing out new weapons today." Skorpion replied, pulling out what resembled a shotgun, if a shotgun had a barrel wider than a baby's head.

"Looks like something out of Borderlands. Hyperion or Tediore? Does it explode when reloading?" Ei asked, still joking.

"What? It's a grenade launcher, mostly. I can't be having with low-velocity anything, so it's using bottlenecked cartridges to fire the grenades now, and also supports upszed mini-rockets; y'know, in case I need to take out a tank or something."

"Speaking of armour, do you know what these guys have? Type 74s, Type 90s, what?" Ei asked, referring to tanks in current and past use in the SDF.

"Basically, if the SDF have used it, it's there. I think they've got a few T-72s kicking around, since they raided one of my shipments."

"So not much compared to my mech, or D4N1, or anyone else really." Shiori shifted her stance. "What about bringing in Jillian? She's been itching to use Jackson, from what I've heard."

"Jillian? Who's Jillian?"

"My, uh, unfortunate-age-stopped sister."

"I got that... Can... can we get back to the planning... Please...?"

"Any help would be welcomed. But sure. You go in through this wall here; call for help if you can't make it over." Skorpion said, pointing to a diagram drawn on a nearby smartboard.

"Sounds simple enough. Any alternates in case we hit a snag?"

"Engineering equipment's on standby. Can even give you a mech-scale shovel if you want. Otherwise, pick a different spot of the wall to scale."

"And EZs when all is said and done?"

"You can truck off with our ground forces once the area's pacified. This isn't just a straight in and out; we're going in and rooting out every single cultist of his, and killing the man himself. And we're going to make it STICK. Oh, and don't shoot at any dragons you see. Former resident wants his home back, so he's helping us for a discount."

"Dragons..."

"Dragons indeed. Good thing I recieved your memo in time, Skorpion. Was nearly late." A new voice called out from the door. When Ei and Shiori looked over, they saw a rather smug looking EDS, dressed relatively casually but still well enough for the trained eye to know he meant business. Whatever business that might be. Standing dutifully behind him was a woman in a skimpy meido outfit, sporting a pair of draconic wings, ears, and tail to match. An awkwardly placed badge on her chest declared her to be "Lizzie".

"Are you still on the base side of things, or have we gotten to the part where I step in?"

"I've gotten to the 'don't shoot at the dragons' part." Skorpion explained. "That's going to be relayed through the entire force, just in case someone has been playing too much Skyrim lately."

"Yes, because far too many people believe that they will become more powerful simply by killing one of us. Idiots." The EDS rolled his eyes, and leaned against a wall. "So these two are going to be your front runners?" He motioned to the two soldiers, eyeing the both of them.

"Yeah, we are." Shiori answered back as she shifted into a more defensive posture. "What's your role?"

"Along with Alexis, yes. They are going to be helping with the attack on the Temple; drawing fire, breathing fire, and so forth."-

"Hang on a sec..." Ei said, holding a hand up as he dug into a pocket, producing a flask. Said flask was quickly drunk in short order then returned to the pocket. "Okay, continue..." Ei got a slightly dirty look from Shiori in the short time.

Draken turned an amused grin to the soldier. "Oh? You can handle mechas, overly-busted super-soldier snow leopard girls, a megalomaniac bent on world destruction, but two dragons, and you're hitting the bottle?" There was a slight cackle to his voice.

Lizzie canted her head at Ei, her thick tail swaying behind her.

"Just destructon of super-soldiers, far as I can tell. Oh, and of Sealand." Skorpion pointed out.

"I am waaaaaay out of my comfort... comfort szooone... So it's all... S'all gotta be taken in mediation.. Moderation..."

Lizzie sniffed, a forked tongue flicking out of her mouth briefly. "Methanol and single malt whisky, with a slight hint of ceramic and spring water... You could de-ice aircraft with that! In Siberia! And you're DRINKING it?"

"S'th'only thing I can-" Ei paused to cover his mouth as he burped. "S'cuse me... S'only thing that... I can get hammered... hammered with... Short term... Helps."

Shiori gave Ei a slightly-harder-than-normal nudge with her elbow.

"A fair negative for your augmented abilities, I am sure. Now, Skorpion, have you made any mention of the Temple's defenses?" Draken turned his gaze back over to the Prince of Sealand.

Skorpion sighed. "I was getting to that part when you walked in. Shall we continue this when Ei's sobered up a little?"

"I'm sober now. Like I said, short term."

"Sorry I'm late!" Alexis called out as she jogged into the room. "Lost track of time. I was distracted by things and stuff." She said before walking up to the table. "So, What are we talking about?" She asked with an odd abundance of energy, her mostly-reformed ear flicking on occasion as her tail wagged.

"Okay, anyone else? Any magical girls sneaking in or anything?"

"Me, I'm here now too. Sorry. I didn't notice the time at the gym." Tiffaney said apologetically. Ei took a moment to place Shiori between himself and Tiff. Shiori gave him an odd look, but didn't comment.

"Well well, nice to meet you in person, Tiffaney." Draken held out a hand to her.

"Likewise." Tiffaney said cheerfully as she accepted his hand. "I must say, it's a pleasure to be working alongside the two of you."

Draken grinned widely, and kissed her hand in a gentlemanly fashion. "It shall be an interesting experience, yes." He let her hand go, and stepped back, watching Skorpion. Whether it was to gauge his reaction or simply to listen to the Prince's meeting, it was hard to say.

"Oh, well." Tiffaney coughed into her hand. "I can't say I expected that in this day and age. You're quite the gentleman."

Skorpion's eyes narrowed slightly as he glared at Draken. "So, to reiterate. Mechs go in here, over the wall. If you can't get over it, and can't blow it up, call for engineering to tear it down or slap a bridge over the top. Mickey's forces will be attacking from this direction, so we will be following the mechs in. Armour and mechs hit Mickey's forces head-on, after punching through the rear of the American forces. This will accomplish Objective #1; Wreck His Shit. We are not firing on the Americans, but we ARE taking whatever we can of their toys. Especially the ones Mickey's going to be stealing; anything he steals, we steal off him; fair game there. Otherwise, try and disguise what you've stolen. Lexi, your mech will be disguised so it doesn't look like one of theirs." He paused, adding lines to the smartboard to indicate directions. "This will accomplish Objective #2: Steal Whatever Isn't Nailed Down."

"Then, after punching through the bulk of Mickey's forces, we spread out and mop up briefly. Emphasis on briefly; assault forces will be heading straight for the Temple after this, to break in and acheive Objective #3; Kill That Bastard And Make Him Pay. Once he's dead and his forces are committed to dying where they stand or while they flee, we continue to Objective #4; Rescue The Princess." He pointed to another set of lines on the board, with attached arrows, and a pink magic wand in the middle of the Temple. "I have a fairly good idea of where Elsie is, so we deal with the guards neatly. No blood, no mess, nothing to traumatise her. Then we break her out of the cell and get her out of the combat zone before she starts assigning personalities to tanks and weapons." More pointing, more lines. "Then we continue to Objective #5; Loot And Pillage. Mickey's gear only; we are NOT permitted to remove any Pingite tech remaining in the building. Once that is complete, we segue to Objective #6; Get The Fuck Out. Any questions?"

"Question!" Ei said, hand shooting into the air. "What if the princess is in another castle?"

Skorpion moved quickly; drawing a pistol and shooting Ei neatly between the eyes with a rubber bullet. "She isn't. Any other questions?"

"Worth it... Totally... worth it..."

Skorpion shot him again, hitting him in the solar plexus. "Hush, the adults are talking. Also, a note. Do not shoot the dragons, they are on our side." Shiori shook her head at the shenanigans.

"I'll pass that along to D4N1. Knowing her she'd want the challenge..."

"Are we sure Elsie'll be safe? The building was, well. Condemned. Wasn't it?" Alexis asked as she sat cross-legged in a chair.

"I have it on good authority that it isn't going to fall down, even after a good artillery bombardment. Make sure you switch your trackers on, though; privacy takes a back seat to not being hit by artillery, here."

"Will do." Alexis conceded.

"Umm. Where do I fit into the plan?" Tiffaney asked with a raised pointer finger.

"You're in the first wave,just after the mechs. You're a good enough fighter for it, and it'll let you get your hands on any sciencey loot first, before someone's blown it up or run it over." Skorpion explained, putting the gun away.

Draken simply watched all of this with a faint look of interest on his face. When there was a pause: "I will be in charge of the more...unknown aspects of the Temple. Few surprises for the enemy, some defenses for allies, so forth. Lizzie, here," He made a motion to the maid, "Should be capable enough to help rescue and fly out said princess."

Lizzie saluted, straightening up. "Hai!~"

Shiori muttered under her breath to Ei, "Lizzie? Seriously?"

"Reminds me of Rampage just a bit... I can see her scaling a building to eat someone out of their apartment." He whispered back.

"At any rate, I will be understanding of a degree of destruction to the Temple. My plans alone will cause a fair amount of damage, as will the airstrikes." Draken made a small motion towards Skorpion. "That said, I must ask that outside of the areas that will need to be cleaned of the Mashimac filth, do not wander. With what I am doing, the sensors as old as they are, I may accidentally cause some unwanted harm."

"Wouldn't be the first time I've triggered a trap." Ei mused, remembering Lola's bear trap and arrow device. "You don't think he's figured out how to use them himself, do you?"

"Considering that I am standing before you of my own free will, no. He has not." Draken responded with a confident smirk. "He will have, at best, a rudimentary control of basic needs, but nothing else."

"He'll have tried, and set his own up if he's failed. Standard training, alongside anything that bastard AI can cook up."

"What about his 'soldiers?' How hard will they fight?"

"They're either mercenaries or indoctrinated cultists. In general, expect anyone who can hit you to flee, and the rest to fight to the bitter end. We will be encircling the Temple apart from a corridor for retreat, which will be beaten with artillery and airstrikes. Anyone foolish enough to join that madman against me deserves what they get."

Shiori piped up, "Weaponry, outside of the tank thing? We expecting handguns, rifles, what?"

"Probably the usual menagerie of small arms you'd expect from the SDF's armories and whatever Skorp's people use." Ei pointed out to Shiori. "That aside, I've seen the type before. The cultists, I mean. We had two kinds of insurgents that tried shooting at us in Iraq: the local loonies and the foreign fighters."

"The locals weren't all that great a shot, wasted ammo firing at everything, and typically wound up a grease stain on the pavement. The foreign fighters were the professionals, the guys who've been around the block a time or two. Those guys were the scary ones. They also wound up as grease stains on the pavement."

"GSDF stuff as he said, plus a variety of small arms from Russia and eastern Europe. They've also got a shitton of ammo, assuming they got the entire contents of the shipment they raided." Skorpion explained. "The bastards sank Ahab. Most of what we steal is likely going to be used to pay off the collateral I owe the Russians on his sub."

"Who was Ahab again?" Alexis asked. "And when were we planning on recovering that sub?"

"Cap'n Ahab, cptain of the OCS STFU, which was, until the MSDF sank it, involved in moving finished goods and kemonomimi migrants to the Americas, and bringing raw materials and assorted military surplus back here, with occasional trips to Russia. As for recovery? Likely after we recover the STFU, which is currently depending on Devin finding a suitable oil exploration platform for us to steal." Skorpion explained. "I think that's on hold so he and Whisp can study for exams, though."

"Pfff. study." Alexis said with a smirk. "But isn't the nuclear sub a little more important then a cargo ship?"

"The sub isn't ours; it was a lease."

"Still that could be quite the eco-disater if that reactor is leaking into the sea." Alexis argued.

"She does have a point dear. We should prioritize recovering that." Tiffaney tagged in.

"If it was cracked, we'd have seen the plume of steam and boiling sea by now. The fact that I haven't been yelled at by the UN about it shows that it's fine. Besides; it's in deeper water than the STFU. Don't want to screw up working with our newly stolen toy in deep ocean where we can't just re-float it."

"Heck, I'll go. Could use time time away from the city, but right now we still have to deal with the temple. Anything else we need to be aware of?" Alexis asked.

"Dragons, mechs, lines of assault, artillery... Oh! He's probably going to have a LOT of anti-air weaponry on the walls."

"You gonna just pound the 'Triple A' with arty or do you have SEAD lined up?"

"Don't have time for preliminary anything; the artillery's coming down just as you hit the walls. If they get warning, they might hurt Elsie, and then there'll be hell to pay. Just switch on your jammers once you get close, and the artillery should take care of the rest. Radar is weak against shrapnel."

"Point taken. When do we roll out?"

"An hour. Go change; you can't pilot a mech in your pyjamas, even if they've got pictures of gundams on them." Skorpion looked to Alexis as he said that, raising an eyebrow meaningfully.

"What?" Alexis asked, her ears perking as she stared at him.

Skorpion pointed to her. "Look down."

Alexis inhaled deeply as if to say 'damnit' before looking down. "DAMNIT!" She yelled. "Fine, I got stuff to do, be back... Later!" She said, waving dismissively before sprinting out of the room.

"I've got something to take care of. C'mon, Shiori. We gotta arm up." Ei said, turning to leave.

"I'm ready whenever you need me, darling. I'll just avoid starting anything too time consuming until then." Tiffaney said with a smile as she walked out of the room.

---

Lucius ambled in as people filtered out. 'Sorry; magical girl emergency. I miss anythin'?'

"Don't shoot the dragons, mind the mecha, you get to wreck another US airbase, and we leave in an hour. Also, tar down as many of the air defences as possible before they shoot you down."

'Bah, nae enough time fer a nap?' Lucius complained, turning to head out again. 'But aye, I'll do whae I can.'

"Incidentally? Morning sex is not a 'magical girl emergency', even if it IS with one." Skorpion pointed out. "And no, I'm not watching cameras in your room, you just have that smirk on your face again."

'Ye donnae get tae judge; ye cannae say nae te the wee lassie either.' Lucius pointed out.

"At least find better excuses. Also? Daily reminder that if you ever hurt her, I'll find a way to kill you."

---

"Lola, you in here?" Ei called out in Lola's garage. He had turned out in M-84 Woodlands BDUs, plate carrier, and a Blackhawk brand tactical ballcap. "I need to ask something of you."

Lola peered out from underneath a big red Cadillac DeVille. "What, right now?"

"Yes, now... I don't have a lot of time, I'm afraid." Ei said as he pulled an envelope out of a mag pouch. "This... This is very important."

Lola twitched an ear, hauling herself out from under the car and reaching up to take the envelope. "Are you seriously giving me one of those envelopes?"

"Yes... I just want to be damn sure, in the event that this fails. In the event that I die." he replied, taking a breath before pulling up a toolbox to sit on. "I want to thank you for these last few weeks. You and Shiori both have been a driving force, keeping me going."

Lola hauled herself the rest of the way out, tucking the envelope carefully down into her overalls. "You're welcome. It must be hard, losing an arm and being separated from everyone..."

"I worry most about my family. I want to make sure they're taken care of after- If... If I die. Yeah, my brother's an officer too, but he's just one man and he's still got his career ahead of him." Ei replied, "Well... I've got to go get my weapons. Shiori's getting kitted up right now. You still got that liquor we found?"

"Some of it, yeah. Why, want to finish off a bottle before you go get shot at?"

"If I come back. If not then you can have it."

"I have a better idea." Lola answered, stepping up to poke him in the chest. "How about you remember that you're a badass super-soldier who survived having his arm torn off, you go out, you kick ass, and then you come back and get stupid drunk with me?" She grinned, leaning in to kiss him softly. "And that you're damn near immortal. Okay?"

"Okay." Ei replied, rising then giving her a hug. "I'll come back." That said, Ei turned to leave, hoping it wouldn't be for the last time.

"Just remember that I'm not just your loyal bunny waifu who'll wait for you to come home. I have a club to rebuild, and you'd damn well better come back to help finish it." Lola called after him, pouting.

"I will. Better keep a seat warm for me. I'll be frequenting the new place."

As the door shut, Lola sat down heavily on the toolbox, sniffling quietly. "No fair, giving me feels like that..."

---

"Eva? You in here?" Skorpion asked as he stepped into the armoury. "I mean, your phone's here, and so's your new armour, so it stands to reason..."

"Yeah, I'm here!" Evangeline said as she stepped around a corner, clad in her new armour. "I was just getting myself ready."

"ah, good." Skorpion examined her carefully as she stepped out, checking the fit of her armour. "You okay with that? Full mobility for your wings?"

Eva spread her wings, giving an experimental flap. "Mhm!" She assured with a smile.

"And the weight? You've had to sacrifice some protection to keep you light enough to fly, so you'll have to avoid fire a bit."

"It's not too heavy, so I should still be able to fly pretty good."

"You might have to drop some gear if you're too heavy. You taking a gun?" Skorpion asked, gesturing to a set of shelves piled with them.

Evangeline nodded in understanding. "I'll be taking an SMG or something light so I don't get weighed down."

Skorpion rummaged briefly in the array of guns beneath his coat, before handing her an H&K MP7 to her, along with a harness containing a few spare magazines. "Here; these weigh barely anything, and still punch through armour."

"Thank you!" Eva said as she accepted the harness and equipped it. She then accepted her weapon and gave Skorpion a hug. "Keep safe out there."

"I'll be fine; I'm nearly bulletproof and I regenerate anyway. You're the squishy caster here. Also, keep low to the ground until the air defences are down, and turn your tracker on."

Eva nodded, giving him a Largoist salute. "Yes sir!"

Skorpion returned the salute, before reaching out to pat her on the shoulder. "Stay with the second wave like we discussed, and don't get shot. The last part's an order; the last thing we need is our healer going down."

"I'll do my best!" Eva said enthusiastically.

---

"John?" Skorpion asked, after knocking on the wolfboy's door. "Got time for a word?"

It was a short time before the door opened for Skorpion. "Am I needed?" The wolfboy asked indifferently.

"Sort of. Just letting you know that we're heading out, and that it's up to you to hold the fort. I'd take you with us, but your arm's not finished."

"Shall I join Mary at the lobby?" Johnathan asked.

Skorpion paused; he'd forgotten about the whole literal thing."... Sure, why not. She might like some company out there." He shrugged.

"Understood." Johnathan affirmed, claiming one of his swords before heading on his way.

"Why do I have the feeling I've made a terrible mistake. Ah, well. What's the worst that can happen?"

---

"Alright, one more time, what are you to do once you get in?" Draken asked as he paced a bit in front of his maid-dragon. They had managed to snag a relatively secure room off to the side of the meeting place.

"Find a computer, download your porn stash to a portable drive, and wipe it from the system before the Largoists can find your petabytes of bunnygirl and cowgirl yuri doujin?" Lizzie asked, smirking.

That earned her a light thwap to the nose. "No, that's not it. Try again." He responded with a smirk.

"Switch on the coffee machine, activate the defences, and get a joint of beef going?"

"Closer." Draken gave her a small poke again. "We may not be as worried as the rest, but we do need to show some form of concern in all this."

"Lock the data core down, shut the armoury tightly, then start eating cultists?"

"Very good, though I do not recommend eating them. They'll be horrible. Now, for the princess. Where are you taking her?" Draken paused on his pacing, and waited for her.

"I'm sure as hell not taking her here. Have you SEEN the beards on some of these Largoists? They look positively Viking. I'm not flying anywhere near this place. I'm taking her to the Academy." And seeing if I can swipe a schoolgirl outfit while I'm there... She added mentally.

"Good plan. I have heard of their defenses, she will be safe there." He resumed his pacing. "On the off chance things go pear shaped, you are to be her guardian 'till Skorpion or a representative comes to collect her."

Lizzie snapped to attention and saluted. "Yes Sah! Are you going to be telling them where I'm taking her? Or am I going to have to text while flying?"

Draken pondered this. "We'll tell Skorpion and Tiffaney, but no one else. Just in case."

Lizzie nodded, flicking an ear. "Do you have a contingency plan in case anyone shoots me down? Stinger missles hurt."

Another long pause. Then, a cocky chuckle. "That's easy enough."

"You... You will come rescue me if that happens, right?" Lizzie asked, looking up at him with a wibble.

"In a heartbeat. The irony of a dragon rescuing two princesses would be too good an opportunity to pass up." He smirked widely, but the meaning behind his words were clear.

Lizzie hugged him impulsively, squeezing tight and lifting him off the floor.

"Heh. Decorum, Lizzie." Draken patted her head nonetheless.

---

"Oh! Johnathan! What brings you up here?" Mary asked, tilting her head and ears curiously.

"Skorpion assigned me to a defensive role. I am here to provide additional security." Johnathan stated plainly.

"Okay..." Mary looked at him, then at the closed door, then back to him again. "Would you like a seat? It's been a while since I've had the door properly guarded."

"Very well." Johnathan agrred before taking a seat at the desk and waiting attentively.

Mary observed him briefly, before failing a will save and patting him on the head. "Who's a good doggy?"

"Sorry, I do not know."

"It's you! You're a good doggy!" Mary responded, continuing to pet him. "Yes you are!"

"I see. Thank you." Johnathan said as he idly accepted the petting, enjoying it in a Johnathan kind of way.

---

"So. I suppose you're wondering why you're all here?" Skorpion asked, looking between Tiffaney, Alexis, and Devin (who was present by way of a tablet slung under a quadcopter drone).

"I must admit, I'm rather curious." Devin said as he ran a daignostic check on Lockdown who was off-screen.

"Yeah, did ya forget somethin' at the briefing?" Alexis asked.

"No, this is just between the four of us. Namely, what happens if I lose the fight." Skorpion sighed. "I don't intend to, but it's a possibility. He's stronger and faster than me."

"If we lose, we die. Plain and simple." Alexis said in a no duh sorta way. Epecially considering 3 out of the four of us are gonna be on the front lines."

"I should be there too. I could try to hack him again." Devin offered as Tiffaney fidgeted nervously.

"You don't need to be, actually." Skorpion grinned. "You can use me as a relay to get to him. I have all the same hardware he does, only I have better peripherals. I'm a walking wi-fi hotspot, after all, so you can patch into me from a relay, then use my signal to hack into him. Anyway, contingency plans! If I go down, you need to recover the body. If you don't do that, there's no chance of me coming back. If you do, there is a program with instructions on it in my lab., and the tube I used last time." He pointed to another smartboard, which switched on to show a picture of the tube in question.

"There's a fresh backup, taken last night. I won't remember anything past then. Once the body is finished. you need to load the backup into it. This may be tricky; it doesn't come out as a blank shell. There will be resistance. They will try and push back. Ignore their protests; it's my body, and I will be wanting it back. If we lose the battle, you are to grab the system and go underground. Get as far away as possible as fast as possible, and find somewhere secure before bringing me back. Once that's done, we can rebuild."

"That's morbid as fuck, dude." Alexis said, looking a little weirded out. "So the body's like, a person and we sortof... Mach him? Isn't that kinda fucked up a bit?"

"Irrelevant. The pressing issue is I can't hack him without line of sight." Devin stated before rolling his eyes. "Like THAT makes any sense." He complained in a teenager sort of way.

"How would we move the equipment?" Tiffaney asked. "There's only so much I can carry, and we'd have to get Johnny and Eva too..."

"It's all palletised in case of this, so just get it into a truck and take that. If there's nobody about, one of the drones will load it. Lucius should be around to help, unless they take him down too. I know you don't like him, but I trust him and he's pretty much unkillable. If he's down as well, leave him and run. He'll recover on his own and find you somehow. And yes, it is messed up, but that's how it works. That's what I did last time, and it's why I don't remember the demon invasion. I wasn't THERE. Can I rely on you to do this, and not to tell Arella or Elsie any of the details? Ever?"

"Don't worry. We won't tell them, but won't Arella and Elsie be in danger unless we take them too?" Tiffaney asked.

"Take them, but don't tell them any of the details of bringing me back. Don't even let them see the machine. Devin, could you use my eyes to get line of sight on him?"

"I won't." Tiffaney promised.

"Dunno. Maybe if I had line of sight on you?" Devin suggested. "I haven't exactly had many trial runs with this."

"I'll try and call him out somewhere in the open, then. Otherwise, we need to work together on this. You were designed to take me down working together, so with me taking John's role you should be fine with taking down Mickey. Plus, of course, my army is better trained and equipped than the one you were meant to be working with anyway, plus you'll have a Lancer."

"That's better! No more talking about losing. Let's go out there and kick ass!" Alexis said with a confident smile and a fist clenched in front of her.

"Go, team." Devin cheered an a intentionally half-assed manner.

"Let's not forget I'll be there too~" Tiffaney added with her usual brand of happy.

---

Draken was just leaving his and Lizzie's taken room, when he ran into another super soldier. He gave a cursory glance over to the prosthetic. "Ah, you're the one that Machine Wash demolished half the park to get to. Impressive that you survived the altercation."

Ei looked up from his book. He had been psyching himself up with both Starship Troopers and a healthy amount of Manowar.

"Y-yeah... It wasn't easy. Kinda fell into a dark hole after that." he replied, pausing his music player and closing the book. The player was installed to the computer grafted to his brain. It made tuning people out all the more easy.

"Let me guess. Self loathing, deep seated hatred on the one that caused you pain, lashing out at others around you?" The dragon guessed with a sly grin on his face.

"Actually a 'pregame' ritual our platoon had. Has... It's something we do." he replied, trying to find the right words. "At the NTC, when we're being flown into the combat area in our Lancers, Specialist Pyle would pipe in music over the radio. We'd normally use Slayer but there was this one time that he played Manowar for us. Next thing I know we're all singing to 'Sons of Odin.'"

Draken nodded. "Yes, I am familiar with the psychological side of warfare, both giving and recieving. Bards would accompany those that attempted to, quote, 'slay me'. Didn't work, as you can see."

"So noted. Which reminds me, I've got to apologize for earlier. I've been yanked way out of my comfort zone."

"No harm done." Draken waved him off. "What are your abilities, if I may ask?"

"I'm apparently a Tier 6 healer, have vast weapons training, and I'm an Armored Infantryman. That last one, though, my AI is going to be on her own out there." he replied.

"Tier 6? Not bad. And you run one of the mech devices too. Noted, very noted." Draken nodded along again.

"So... You want your home back, huh? I'd be pissed if people were squatting in my old place. Given the nature of your quarry I take it a simple eviction notice isn't going to cut it."

"It is not quite my home. It is more a place that took me in in a dangerous time, though admittedly I was quickly forgotten about. Nonetheless, I am honorbound to at least get rid of the idiots that pervade the halls."

"They are idiots, from what I've heard. Most fanatics are. Like I said in the briefing, the ones I'm most worried about are the professional soldiers."

"Feh, professional or not, I will be able to handle them easily. Once I get into the systems, they will be easy pickings for you and the others." Draken dismissed the notion entirely.

"How long will that take? Until said systems are under your control it's my ass and several others getting shot at." Ei said, somewhat irritated. "I may be a Tier 6 but I can still bleed out. That almost killed me."

"Hm, considering the systems, what damage there may be, added by him or time, and my own systems...." Draken made a show of counting on his fingers. "A few seconds." Confidence was just dripping from his words. "And once I do, heh...he'll be in for a surprise."

"What kind of surprise?" Alexis suddenly asked from about two steps behind Ei, wearing her combat armour. "The bullet kind, explodey kind, or other?"

"The unpleasant-and-many-won't-survive kind."

"Care to give me some spoilers?" Alexis asked as she stepped around Ei to form the conversation triangle.

"I'm curious as well. I had considered seeing if I could have D4N1's core rigged as a suicide bomb in case we fail, given that hardly anything survives a nuclear explosion. But she doesn't quite share my pessimism, so that's off the table."

"You're not nuking Tokyo, regardless of whether or not your mech is cool with it." Alexis stated before offering Ei a left handed handshake. "Formal greeting. I'm Alexis, trained by secret supersoldier project, yatta yatta, broke out, now I'm here. Hi."

"Capt- Major... Major Eikichi Ramirez-Kisaragi. US Army." Ei replied, returning the handshake. "I've heard about a few other programs. Really felt like I was a one of a kind since I survived mine."

While the two exchanged their greetings, Draken went on: "A tiny spoiler is that it involves walls. Lots of walls."

"Walls? So you're Donald Trump now?"

"Topical." Alexis applauded. "A lot of foresight on the memeist massacre in twenty-sixteen, or pure chance?" She snarked with a grin. "We gotta kill them with the walls!"

"They'll be the greatest walls they'll ever be killed by!" Ei chimed in.

"Ugh, I despise that pompous jackass. I should have killed him when I had the chance, years ago." Draken shook his head. "Can we focus on the less murderous asshole?"

"Do you have that Resedent Evil laser hall? You know, like the one where the dude got cubed?" Alexis had to know.

"I want cubesteak now. What, don't look at me like that. I have a high metabolism, okay..."

"Ditto on the metabolism, but I don't get hungry when I think of cubed human."

"As someone who's actually had to bite humans in the past, I agree. You beings are just too gamey. Bleh."

"I hear, when properly cooked, human flesh tastes like ham. N-not that I've tried it... I mean... T-they touched up on the subject in 'Congo,' okay..."

"Mildly addictive too, but I pride myself more on my soft tail and fuzzy ears-ear than the taste of my flesh." Alexis said as her tail wrapped around to her chest so she could pet it as her ear flickered on occasion.

"W-we're getting off topic..." Ei said, thinking of Shiori's tail and ears. "How are you going to use walls against the enemy?"

"Crushing is an option." Alexis suggested, still petting herself.

"You will simply have to wait and see." Draken chuckled, and gave Alexis an appraising look. "Yes, impressive tail, but I believe that snow leopard from the meeting has that floof beat."

"True, but mine's bushier. Hers is slender and super soft, but mine can be used as padding for a lap pillow." Alexis said with a hint of pride.

"FLOOFIER IS BETTER!" Ei announced. "Well, that's out of my system."

"There's no denying that it's nice, but I prefer poofy foxtails." Alexis said, adding her two cents. "But now we're getting into the time-old battle of poof vs floof."

"Anything that tastes like a pig is good eating." Lizzie chimed in, grinning toothily. "Also, scales > floof." She added, prodding first Alexis and then Ei with her thick scaled tail, after somehow pronouncing a symbol. "Plus, stronger, more nimble, and also shiny."

"I think cat tails beat you in nimbleness." Alexis said with a raised finger. "Though yours definitely has an exotic appeal." The wolfgirl said, not at all feeling the slightest bit awkward about discussing tail preference in public. "But you need to admit I have soft fur." She said, offering Lizzie an opportunity to pet her tail.

Lizzie grasped the opportunity, and the tail, with both hands, stroking it softly. "Ooooh, it IS soft!" She remarked, offering her own tail to Alexis. "You're all silky smooth! Do you use special shampoo?"

Alexis blushed a bit, her tail trying to wag within Lizzie's grasp. The wolfgirl then took hold of the Dragonesses tail and ran her hand over the scales, her ears perking in surprise. "Wow? They're so smooth. Are they normally like this or do you have a trick to it?" She asked before realizing she should probably answer Lizzie's question first. "I use a hair softening shampoo before letting a fur conditioner set for most of the duration of my shower. Plus it gives it a nice spring scent." She gushed in a very un-Alexis sorta way.

"Mostly. I like to wax them nightly for extra smoothness; it's a habit I picked up while living in the Pacific. Muuch lower water resistance that way, and I also smell of honey. Which is never a bad thing." Lizzie explained, continuing to pet Alexis' tail. "Just don't touch the spikes along the top; the sides are rough, and I spent a few hours sharpening the edges this morning."

"To use as a weapon or is that just your style?" Alexis asked sticking to the portion of tail that she had been petting. "You have really gentle hands." She complemented.

"Weapon. Tail Whip not only lowers defence, but with sharp spines on top, you can also do some serious tissue damage, or even asever a limb with the right angle. And of course; I'm a qualified massage therapist! I could do your back too, once we get back from kicking ass." Lizzie offered, her hands roaming up and down Alexis' tail.

"That actually sounds amazing." Alexis said with a smile. "I've been stressed out over this for a while so I would love for you to do that for me." She said before giving Lizzie another offer. "Wanna pet my ears, too?"

"Sure!" Lizzie reached up to pet Alexis' ear, turning slightly to offer her wings in trade.

Alexis' tail, once released, flung behind her to wag rapidly as Lizzie began petting her ears. "You have perfect hands~"

"Oh by the gods they're even softer! Your boyfriend must spend so much time petting them." Lizzie exclaimed, her wings flapping for emphasis and scattering a pile of paperwork from a nearby desk with the downdraft.

Alexis reached behind Lizzie to pet her wings. "And your wings are amazing. Pretty, and intimidating too. You must take really good care of them." She said with a blush and a very content smile.

"Oh, totally. They're part of the sacred trinity of dragonhood; Wings, tail, and breath." She paused, looking at Alexis with a canted head. "So, are you an awoo or a wanwan?"

"I'm an odditiy. An awoo who was turned wanwan by the powers of love, yet still am I know to awoo." Alexis explained.

Lizzie nodded, as if that made complete sense to her.

"Holy Jesus, we have a clusterfuck in the conversation here." Ei mused, taking his book back out to resume reading. He was getting back to the drop on Klendathu, the one touched upon in the prologue.

Lizzie reached over and plucked the book from his grasp with her tail. "Don't think you can get away without petting me as well, mister."

"I've never had the opportunity to pet a dragon." Ei mused, reaching up to give her headpats.

Lizzie nuzzled into his hand. "And now you do. If you're good, you might even get another one."

"I'll take that under advisement. Now, may I please have my book back? Rico just threw the squawking bomb and that part always cracks me up." he asked, holding his hand out. "I wish we had bombs like that in Iraq and the 'Stan. Scare the fuck out of the Jihadis for sure."

"Only if you keep petting me." Lizzie conceded, pouting at him.

"Fair enough." Ei replied, resuming his ministrations.

---

"YOU!" Lizzie declared, pointing.

'Ken aye?' Lucius asked, tilting his head at her as his ears twitched in confusion. 'Aye, lassie, wha' d'ye wan'?'

"Is your memory as bad as your English?" Lizzie asked accusingly, stalking over to him. "You... You..."

'Me... Me?'

"YOU" Lizzie shouted, slapping him hard across the face.

'OW! Wha'd ye do tha' fer? I didnae dae nuthin' tae ye, lassie!' Lucius complained, stepping back and catching Lizzie's wrist to stop the follow-up slap.

"You ABANDONED me! Not even a goodbye, not even a note, you just LEFT." Lizzie scowled at him, smoke trickling from her nostrils as her wings fanned out behind her.

Lucius shifted his head, looking at the wings speculatively. 'Nae, those look familiar... Didnae ye used tae be... Bigger?'

"You violated the second law of Dragons!"

'I'm nae a-'

"IT DOESN'T MATTER, THEY BIND YOU EVEN IF YOU'RE NOT, I SPENT HALF THE NIGHT TRYING TO GET THAT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL AND YOU STILL DON'T GET IT?" Lizzie roared at him, a tongue of flame narrowly missing Lucius' ears as he ducked.

'An' ye didnae listen tae the laws o' the clan, or the fact tha' I'd dropped out o' the sky wi' nae ken ye'd claim the loch, an' nae desire tae be in there anyways!' Lucius shot back, releasing her wrist to step back again as he straightened up.

"If this were not the eve of battle, I'd have your head as a trophy." Lizzie remarked, turning and stomping away from him.

Lucius sighed, muttering under his breath in Gaelic. He then brought his arms up in front of him as fire washed down the corridor towards him, the flames licking around the edge of an invisible shield towards him.

"I CAN UNDERSTAND THAT AND HEAR YOU PERFECTLY!" Lizzie roared again, glaring through the haze of superheated air. "Hmph!"

"Hey, what's all the yell-" Alexis was cut off by flame engulfing the hall she nearly walked into. "Well..."

"Oh, hi Alexis~" Lizzie smiled, leaning in to kiss Alexis on the cheek. "I was just berating a catboy for breaches of dragon etiquette."

Alexis smile, her tail wagging from the attention. "Hi Lizzie! I don't even think he knows what etiquette is." She said as she gave her newest friend a hug.

Lizzie returned the hug enthusiastically. "Oh, that's why I was flaming him. You don't just invade someone's home and expect to leave again. Especially if you land in someone's food supply."

"He broke into your home?" Alexis said, looking to Lucius as though he were more of a criminal than he was.

'I did nae! Nae my fault she'd claimed the entire loch I was fallin' intae!' Lucius protested, now standing in the middle of a charred patch of floor.

"Bullshit! You can fly!" Alexis said, pointing an accusing finger. "Besides I'd figure you to be to busy throwing people off things to have time to fall yourself!"

'Lassie, hae ye ever tried tae ken which way is down after bein' spun around an' spat out o' jet engine? Nae possible. An' I was aimin' fer the loch tae put the fire out, y'ken?'

"And LANDED in my PIGS." Lizzie added. "Your aim is TERRIBLE."

"Lizzie, we're going to be great friends." Alexis said, feeling a bond from their mutual disliking of Lucius.

"And he SNEAKED OUT on me! Not even a word or a note! I had to capture myself another Scotsman!"

'So THA'S whae happened tae Uncle George!' Lucius exclaimed, snapping his fingers. 'I ken the haggises got tae him!'

"Wooow! You couldn't even leave a note." Alexis said crossing her arms before turning to Lizzie. "Why did you need another Scotsman specifically?"

"Good genes, and they taste nice when you're done with them." Lizzie explained, as if it were perfectly normal. "Hard work and little unnecessary stress means they're meaty AND tender!"

"So you actually ate them?" Alexis asked with a raised eyebrow, it was pretty odd seeing somebody in a humanoid form say that.

Lizzie nodded. "Of course. That's what humans are FOR, along with delicate tasks too small for talons."

Alexis poked Lizzie's wing. "My fiance is a human." She informed before raising a finger. "Though, being who and what I am I have no right to judge you for your life choices."

"Oh, don't worry. The Laws cover not eating the property of others. They're very clear about that. I suppose it's strange to you, but dragons aren't pack animals like awoos or humans. We seldom even meet another dragon, and only then when someone needs to trade or mate."

"Sounds lonely." Alexis commented. "Well if you ever want to join a pack, you're more than welcome in mine. You'd have to stop eating people, but, you know." She offered with a shrug.

"Pigs are much tastier anyway, and we all must make sacrifices to enjoy human society. Especially if I'm to obtain a properly modernised hoard." Lizzie sighed wistfully. "There's just something about warplanes that makes them so comfortable..."

"I once spent a night sleeping in an A-10, waiting for orders that never came. Eventually they got me and took me back, but it was an alright sleep." Alexis said, sharing a little story in her own way.

"I've always wanted some of those. I feel they'd make a wonderful pillow." Lizzie mused. "But I suppose that's what your fiance is for, yes?"

"He's more of a body pillow than a head pillow." Alexis explained, forgetting Lucius was even there. "He's also good at quite a few other things." She said with a faint blush.

Lizzie giggled, blushing slightly. "My, my. You certainly have found a keeper, haven't you? I suppose you have your human version of a hoard going, as well as an awoo sort of hoard."

"Got a dragon type hoard too." Alexis said with a confident grin as she drew her cannon from weaponspace. "Big. Fucking. Guns. And nothing for them to compensate for."

Lizzie responded by poking Alexis' chest. "Really, now?"

Alexis buffed out her cheeks. "I have a giant gun, whatdoyou want!?" She questioned, pointing to the gun in question before pausing as she realized she was compensating. "Damn it..."

Lizzie giggled, leaning down to inspect the cannon in question. "Oooh, is that a Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-30-1? Short recoil action, high explosive incendiary load, modified as a handheld sniper weapon? I haven't seen one of THOSE in a LONG while."

"Damn right! Dad modified this thing so I could blast stuff at range with the force of a fighter jet." Alexis said with a big grin. "And I like to think I use it very well."

"Fighter jets only wish they were as maneuverable or destructive as I am." Lizzie grinned widely, spreading her wings as much as the corridor would allow. "Although I'm more of an attack aircraft; I can't fly anywhere near as fast, or climb as high. There's not not enough oxygen in the air for that these days."

"Either way, I'm glad you're on our side." Alexis said as she reached out and pet Lizzies wings.

Lizzie giggled softly, wings fluttering. "It's not like I have much of a choice. For one thing, Draken wants his home back, and I'm bound by Law to follow my master. And secondly, whats-his-face probably wants my hide for armour. Do I side with the dangerous psycho who wants me dead, or the crazed madman who is content to let me live? Also, I would be well within rights to eat your father for disturbing my slumber and bombarding me with bits of helicarrier, so he needs to be alive for me to claim that."

"Buut, just because you have to be here doesn't mean I can't be happy you are." Alexis said with a smile. "In the meantime, wanna see my mech?"

"You have a MECH?" Lizzie exclaimed, hopping up and down with glee. "Of course I want to see it! Is it Russian like the rest of the gear here?"

"Modified American model. They wouldn't recognize it... Probably... Hopefully." Alexis said, taking Lizzie's hand before running with her to the hanger.

"Modified... You didn't STEAL it, did you? How wicked!"

"Wait... YOU STOLE <THAT> LANCER!?" Ei barked out, nearly dropping his OICW as he was passing by.

"Oh, God damn it." Alexis facepalmed. "No. We stole some blueprints and constructed it with our own modifications." She straight-up lied as she turned to Ei. Ei leaned in to peer at her, brow furrowed.

"Eighty six percent chance of falsehood... Do you know how long I spent sitting ready alert, waiting for that damn thing to pop out so we could recover it?" Ei asked. "I could have been writing letters home, playing Battlefield, or... Or other... things..."

"I spent most of my life on ready alert so I don't wanna hear it from you." Alexis protested, placing a finger firmly against his chest, looking up to make eye contact.

"Look, I didn't even want to be here. It was just going to be a two month exercise then a run home... Was that so hard to ask?"

"And I don't recall making the choice to spend most of my life as a labrat. Moral of the story, shit happend, we get over it, we get stronger. I'm sorry for the inconvenience of your mech going missing." Alexis said, crossing her arms. "It's not like Japan's all that bad once you get past the racism anyway."

"They could use some more variety in their diet, I find. Fish and rice, fish and rice, fish and rice. Maybe some seaweed for presentation, or some sauce. When all this is over, I'm touring Europe. At least THEY know what cheese is." Lizzie mused, mostly to herself.

"Europe is next month, Lizzie. You should remember that, we have meetings planned." Draken called from around the corner. He had found and subsequently taken over the coffee pot, and had proceeded to drink all of it. It was straight black, no additions at all.

"Let me do up some fish for you. I know a few recipes." Ei offered.

"I'd prefer pork, if you have it. Or beef, lamb, chicken, mutton... Anything but more fish."

"I've got recipes for those too."

"Then I'll ask Draken if i'm allowed to eat you... Eat WITH you." Lizzie replied, smiling at the prospect of something other than fish and rice.

"Lizzie, have you ever had cow head before?"

"Yes, but it was still attached to the rest of the cow. I don't recommend that, by the way."

"Nor do I... Listen, when I get the chance I'm gonna do a cow head barbacoa. Maybe throw in some lengua while I'm at it for extra flavor." he said, rubbing his chin for a moment. "Tacos de cabeza. I think you'll like it."

"You do take the brains out first, right?" Lizzie asked. "I mean, I'm a dragon and immune to prions, but humans aren't..."

"Of course we do. Kinda hard for the family restaurant to get repeat business if people get spongiform encephalitis from our food." Ei replied. "So I'll mark you down for barbacoa, when all is said and done."

"Yay!" Lizzie exclaimed, picking Ei up bodily and hugging him, squeezing tightly.

"YOU'RE GOING TO VOID MY WARRANTY!!!" Ei protested, several errors popping up on his HUD.

"Bet Shiori already beat her to that." Alexis said, wiggling her eybrows suggestively before nudging him with her elbow. "Eh? Eh?"

"P-press... m-my... reset... button..." Ei said as he seemed to flatline.

"Rest in piece." Alexis stated, taking off an imaginary hat to hold over her chest.

Lizzie set him down after a short while, patting his head gently. "Aw, you'll be fine. I didn't hear anything crack." Ei popped a mag pouch open and withdrew a flask. Or at least it used to be.

"This is alcohol abuse..." he mused, looking at the now empty piece of metal, alcohol dripping from it.

---

Nearby, Draken glanced up from his ruminations on the coffee pot and noticed a scottish catman standing nearby. "Interesting to see you again. I'd make a comment about how much our histories seem to be intertwined, what with your and Lizzie's past experiences, but I am starting to wonder if instead a shaman of your clan had a grudge against me." Another sip of the pot.

'Then ye'd already be dead.' Lucius replied. 'Ye donnae fuck wi' a scotsman, aye?'

"Hm." Was the only reply for a short while. "How's your grandfather? He was one of the few I got along with."

'Doin' well la' time I heard from the clan. Hasnae blown a hillside up in a while, tae.' Lucius replied. 'Got another container o' whisky on the way, tae.'

"Good to hear. I will make a point to visit him on my travels next month. And you? Any more dragons you have attempted to slay?" A thin, wry smirk creept up on his artificial face.

'Dragons're tae much trouble fer tha'.' Lucius shrugged. 'An' as yer maid shows, tae much trouble tae lay dragons, y'ken?'

"It takes a certain touch for that, yes." Draken sipped his coffee again.

'Or, a' rumour has it, a room full o' bondage traps.' Lucius replied, grinning.

"Look me in the eye, and tell me that they aren't an effective means of detainment."

'Laddie, I just want ye tae install one tae keep the wee magical lassies out o' the maintenance sheds at the Academy.'

"Hm. Very well, consider it done, but don't blame me if someone accuses you of unsavory activites." Draken drawled on lazily. Despite the coffee, he didn't even seem the bit energized.

---

Summary:
People arrive by various means.
Machariah's going to attack Yokota, and is based at the Temple of Ping.
Artillery will be happening as the super-soldier vanguard hits the Temple.
Skorp's got a new toy!
Don't shoot any dragons!
Lizzie is introduced to people.
MORE people arrive. Yeesh!

Briefing!
Objective #1: Wreck His Shit.
Objective #2: Steal Whatever Isn't Nailed Down.
Objective #3: Kill That Bastard And Make Him Pay.
Objective #4: Rescue The Princess.
Objective #5: Loot And Pillage. (No raping, don't take any Pingite stuff)
Objective #6: Get The Fuck Out.
Mechs in first, then super-soldiers and magical girl wizard. Then Largoist forces, after the artillery stops.
Don't fly until the air defences have been pounded to scrap by the artillery.
Someone forgot to get dressed...

Lucius is late. No, morning sex is not a 'magical girl emergency', even if it IS with one.

Ei leaves Important Things with Lola.
She ain't no Loyal Bunny Waifu, she's got shit to do, so he better COME BACK.
Feels are unfair.

Eva is armed!
No getting shot!

John is assigned to holding the firt, since his new arm's not functional yet.
Pettings from Mary!

Draken and Lizzie go over Plans.
Decorum!

Skorpion gives In Case Of Death orders to Tiffaney and family.
Namely, 'GTFO, hide, and restore me from backup'.
Don't tell Arella how that works! YES it's unethical, but that's how things go.
Don't tell Elsie, either.
Devin is assigned to assist Skorp with the hacking and mezzing.
Reassurances!

Ei and Draken chat, interrupted by Alexis.
Discussion turns to fluffy tail. Floof or poof?
Lizzie interrupts. Sacles > floof. Poke poke, her tail is shiny.
Hot wolfgirl on dragon yuri petting scene!
Mind the ridges; they're filed sharp.
Dragon demands more petting as tribute!

YOU!
Apparently Lucius and Lizzie have History.
FWOOOSH
She was gonna eat him.
Alexis agrees with Lizzie; Lucius is R U D E.
Ei discovers that Alexis stole the Lancer.
DENIAL!
Lizzie demands food as a tribute from Ei. MEAT.
HUG!
WARRANTY!

Lucius and Draken have history as well, but not quite as dramatic.


---

Lizzie poked at Ei's head. "Youuu are also hardware. Advanced Land Warrior, pre-production prototype model?"

"Y-yeah... What of it?"

"So that makes three survivors of a 'no survivors' project" She mused, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. "Can I meet your Lancer?"

"She's off site. In a hangar... at a... Black Site... kind of..." Ei replied, trying to figure out if Lizzie had an angle she was working.

"Uhh-huh. And you just happen to be here without her, in a city where a maniac is hunting super-soldiers for sport, and oooooh!" Lizzie exclaimed, siezing Ei's arm and prodding at it. "Not seen one of THESE before!"

"Easy on the arm, please... I can feel that..." he said, trying to pull away from her. "Transmatting something her size takes a lot, and I mean a lot, of juice. If it could be done willy nilly then she'd be with us. But she's not. She's waiting, same as I am."

"They don't have that fusion reactor at Los Alamos for nothing." Lizzie pointed out, before turning to Shiori. "Can I borrow him for a few hours after the battle? He looks like he'd make a decent pillow."

"Okay, I wasn't complaining before, but I'm complaining now. When did it become 'ladies borrow Ei day?'"

Shiori piped up: "Hold on there you-"

Lizzie bashed him with her tail. "Hush. Pillows don't talk."

"M'not a pillow..." Ei pouted. "Shiori, say something!" Shiori was about to do more than say something...

There was a loud ahem from behind Lizzie at this point.

Lizzie squeaked, whirling around to face Draken. "Eep?"

"Young lady."

Lizzie held her hands up in a 'what did I do' gesture, before she waved towards Ei. "He's hardware, he looks comfy, and he's nicer than the other two bionic super-soldiers around here!"

"He also said 'stop', essentially." Draken didn't raise his voice any, but the tone was quite clear for Lizzie.

"Awww..." Lizzie pouted, before turning to Ei and prodding his chest. "You, later. I expect that food." She said, before turning and stomping out, head held high. "Hmph!"

"I'll hold up my end." Ei said, watching her go. "Maybe if she wasn't so direct..."

---

Then she wouldn't be very dragon-like, would she?
Re-summary:
Bionics and cyberware make you hardware in Lizzie's book.
Eeep? Hmph! Exit stage left.
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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Oblivion

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Posts: 50

Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 10:46 pm

Post Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:14 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Transform and Roll Out!
Timestamp: Just after Meeting of the Mighty Minds
Location: FGTL HQ, Yokota Air Base.
Characters: Everyone going on the raid, plus Jack and Rekko, who aren't. And Mary and John, who aren't either.
Authors: Skorpy, Ei, Hyuuey, Oblivion.


---

"... Really?" Skorpion raised an eyebrow as Tiffaney approached.

"Really." Tiffaney confirmed, wearing long mage robes, complete with a pointed hat that bent back halfway up. "They're enchanted to assist my casting."

Skorpion looked down at his own bulky armour, then back up at Tiffaney's robes and wizard hat. "Fair enough." He shrugged, turning back to attaching pieces of armour to his armour, assisted by a robot arm.

Tiffaney nodded, summoning her Amagamite archive in front of there, the book raising a skeptical eyebrow at Skorpion as it failed to register even a remote trace of magic in his entire being.

Skorpion paused, pointing to the book without looking up. "Don't you even think about it. Magic me, and I'll have you dropped into Neptune."

The book rolled it's eyes as if to call him a stick-in-the-mud before looking to Tiffaney, before opening it's pages to her. "Swiftness," She stated, mometarily flashing a green aura. "Bulwark," The aura turned gray. "Greater fire resistance," The aura flashing red in response.

Skorpion shuffled further away from the spellcasting, the arm walking itself down the table to follow him as he started checking and loading his guns.

"Aspect: lightning," her body sparked for a moment. "Soul of berserker," Tiffaney continued her aura shifting to look like a deep red flame. "Draconic spirit," her aura rapidly formed a set of draconic wings and a tail for a moment, "Grand fortification," her aura shifted to a yellow hue.

Skorpion hefted his BFG, attaching a belt of ammunition into each side of it, and grinned. "I'm done. How about you, dear?"

Tiffaney closed the archive. "Summon familiar: Auger." She called out, a thick fog enshrouding the entire room before converging at one point to form the beast form of Auger.

Once his form was complete he howled to the ceiling, the cry carrying through a few corridors. "It has been long since I walked the physical plane." He said as he stretched.

"Okay, darling." Tiffaney said as she pet Auger's shoulder. "I'm ready."

"Wait, he's REAL?" Skorpion stared at Auger. "You're not going to attack me with a sword again, are you? 'Cause, y'know, I'm properly armed this time." He waved his BFG towards the familiar in question, the chainsaw blade attached to the bracket at the end of the twin barrels starting to spin.

"I doubt my charge would waste energy summoning me for something so trivial." Auger said as he heeled, looking down at Skorpion before turning his gaze to Tiffaney. "And for what have you summoned me?"

"We're going to rescue Elsie and take down the man that dared to hurt my family!" Tiffaney explained.

"To the best of this form's abilities; it shall be done." Auger stated, bowing his head to Tiffaney.

"Let's go kick some cultist ass." Skorpion added as he turned and stepped slowly out the door, starting to sink into the softer ground outside the moment he stepped onto it.

"You're sinking again!" Tiffaney pointed out as she leapt onto Auger's back to ride after Skorpion.

"This is why I built a jetpack!" Skorpion replied, triggering said jetpack and rising very slowly on a plume of flames, the surface melting and running away from the exhaust as he did so.

"Now you're melting the floor!" Tiffaney said as Auger passed by Skorpion to avoid walking on the melted surface.

"Such a clumsy creation." The wolf commented.

"I think I need to lose some weight here." Skorpion commented as he settled onto a harder surface. He snapped his fingers and an ATV trundled up, ready to accept a load of excess guns and ammunition.

---

Mary leaned back in her chair, quietly singing along to the radio as she knitted. "Are you okay there, John? Do you want coffee or anything?"

"I am well." Johnathan reported from his seat before looking off in the direction of where that battle would take place.

"Ah, you want to be out there fighting? Well, guarding the door is important too!" Mary ventured, trying to encourage him. "Time was, I had two guards just for me! They..." She paused, sighing softly. "They didn't survive the demon invasion. But now you're here, doing the work of both guards, all by yourself!"

"Not participating in battle does not concern me, however I do desire to know how my family is and will be." Johnathan said with a blank expression.

Mary mused briefly, before taking up a tablet and tapping at it. "Hmm. Here we are." She handed the tablet to Johnathan, smiling. "The official blog for the battle reports as they come in. Looks like they haven't started yet, and... Is that a jetpack? Oh my, I hope he's careful with that..."

Johnathan accepted the tablet. "Thank you." He said as he read over a few articles.

---

"Okay, much lighter. I should be fine so long as nobody shoots my drone." Skorpion remarked. "And even then, it's armoured."

The drone beeped in response, turning and trundling along behind Skorpion as he set off walking. "Now I'm starting to wish I hadn't given Tali my motorcycle."

"She loves it though." Tiffaney commented with a smile. "She's got her father's talent for tinkering."

"It was a sacrifice to keep her away from the rest of my lab. We've caused enough paradoxes as it is, without future tech showing up everywhere." Skorpion replied, starting to use his jet pack to proceed across the field in long, low jumps.

"Admit it, you just wanted to make your daughter happy." Tiffaney teased as Auger trotted to keep up.

"I can't very well deny that, can I?" Skorpion replied, starting to cover more ground with each jump and carving molten gouges with the exhaust plume. "Also, don't expect to be able to find Machariah with magic. He's as blank as I am, possibly more so."

"The only one I'll be trying to find with my magic is Elise." Tiffaney said as Auger picked up speed to match Skorpion.

---

"Rekko?" Alexis called as she knocked on his infirmary door and let herself in wearing her armour. "I'm heading out now, and I just stopped by to let you know." She said, looking conflicted about something as she approached his bedside to take a seat.

"Hey, Lexi. Thanks for coming to say goodbye." Rekko replied, reaching over to pet her ears. "Try not to get stabbed again, if you can."

"I'm not saying goodbye!" Alexis said, sounding worried, relaxing as he pet her ears. "I'm just letting you know I'm heading out for a bit. It's not like I'm never coming back."

"Just make sure you come back to me. I'll probably be still here; the assault's taking most of the medical staff, so they've confined me to bed to keep me from needing attention." Rekko gestured around the room, now littered with models and anime merch, and with a few 'get well soon' cards scattered around."I'll be fine as long as the power and internet stay up; I'm playing Monster Hunter."

"I'll play it with you for a bit when I come back." Alexis said before leaning over the bed to give him a kiss. "I love you." She said as she held his hand. "And when you get better we can go to the pier again."

Rekko returned the kiss, smiling. "Soon as I can walk again. Can you do me a favour before you leave, though?"

"What's that?" Alexis asked, an ear tilting to the side as she looked at him with curious eyes.

"Go see Jack. He's not doing so well, on account of hitting the ground first." Rekko replied. "I don't want him thinking nobody cares, y'know?"

Alexis nodded, giving him a peck on the forhead. "I'll do that before I leave." She said as she stood. "See you soon?"

"Hopefully. Kick that scumbag's ass for me; I LIKED that chopper. Took me months to get the seat dialed in properly." Rekko reached down to pet her tail briefly before she left. "Just safely, yeah? Also, awoo~"

"Awoo~ I'll be careful." Alexis said, her tail fluttering after he pet it before the wolfgirl exited the room and started her way down the hall to Jack's room. Once she was in front of the door she gave it a knock. "Jack? It's Alexis."

"Wha? Door's open." Jack answered from inside, voice sounding slightly weak and slurred.

Alexis entered the room, approaching the bedside. "Rekko says hi. Thought I'd pay you a visit to see how you're holding up without my boxed lunches."

Jack chuckled, waving the arm not encased in plaster. "Fine, aside from breaking half the bones in my body when we were shot down. I'm having a little trouble holding together, though; they found most of the fingers I'm missing, but they gave up on the last bits and are cloning new ones."

"That's terrible." Alexis said as she took a seat beside his bed. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yeah; my foot itches, but I can't reach it due to all the plaster." He wiggled the toes of the foot in question. "It's doing it on purpose, just because I can't get to it."

Alexis stood up, moving to the end of the bed to scratch his foot. "Like this?"

"Little lower. No, higher. Left a bit... Ahhh~" Jack directed the wolfgirl, leaning back with a look of bliss on his face as she found the right spot. "Thank you. You can go shoot the guy who shot me down, now. Make sure you come back so you can sign my casts."

"Will do! I'll see what goodies I can bring you, too." Alexis said before heading to the door. "I'll shoot a few for you."

"Don't get shot; we won't be there to fish you out a dumpster this time!" Jack called after her, before laughing.

"I won't!" Alexis said with a smile, waving to him before heading to her mech.

---

Mary tied off the ends of the scarf as she stood up, stepping over to drape it around Johnathan's neck. "Here you are, dear. It looks chilly in the draught from the door there."

"Thank you." Johnathan thanked, looking up from the tablet to make eye contact as he did.

Mary reached out to pet his ears, smiling. "You're welcome~"

---

"Evangeline Rose Contessa. Healing powers, wings, pointy ears. Currently assigned the role of field medic." The voice came over the radio net to the elfangel in question, tone flat and even. "Currently wearing..." The voice paused briefly. "Ah, to hell with it." The voice continued, switching to Skorpion's normal tones. "Not worth digging through the data to find out for the sake of a joke. How're you holding up?"

Evangeline let out an eep, jumping at the voice, placing a hand on her chest as her heart pounded once it was made clear it was a joke. "I was fine until you did that!" She shouted as she moved to prop herself against a wall. "That was really mean!"

Skorpion snickered. "Consider it preparation. He might just try hacking into our comnet. He'll probably try taking you alive, though, rather than killing you. You're too useful; he can't hope to hold his forces together without proper medical care. Don't listen to a word he says."

"Like I would! He hurt Lexi, and John, and Shiori, and Arella, and... The point is I'd never help him!" Evangeline said with strong resolve.

"Even if he threatened to torture Elsie if you didn't?" Skorpion asked. "Of course, he'll probably do it anyway just to piss us off and make us charge in without thinking."

Evangeline grew quiet, she didn't want Elsie to get hurt.

"Best not to listen to him. He'll say anything to get you to work with him, then change the deal when you join up. I only know she's still alive is because there's only one of me here to take his ass out." Skorpion paused again, thinking. "Of course, her existence proves that everyone survives this, unless we're going by alternate universe theory. Best not to think about that; I really don't want flying time lizards eating everything."

"What?" Evangeline asked, confused at the lizard part. "I won't let him have what he wants, promise!"

Good. Try not to get shot, too. You're a vital part of keeping MY forces together." Skorpion replied, before breaking the link.

---

Mary looked up from her knitting. "What's that noise? It sounds almost like a ROUS, but it's far too loud for that..."

Johnathan stood from his seat, setting the tablet in the chair before drawing a sword with his good hand.

Mary got up, peering out the door. "Oh my... It's huge..."

"Stay here." Johnathan advised as he walked out the door towards a giant (even by ROUS standards) ROUS.

Mary nodded, taking cover behind the desk and pulling a P90 out from under it. "I've got you covered, go kick it's ass!" She called out to the wolfboy, taking aim to provide covering fire.

"Understood." Johnathan stated before dashing in, stopping a few inches short before kiting around it's head and slashing at it's throat.

Mary let off short bursts as Johnathan danced around the ROUS, tongue sticking out in concentration as she timed her shots to hit the ROUS and not John.

---

"Ei, Shiori. You two okay?" Skorpion asked, peering out over the battlefield as he stood atop a tank.

"Good to go. Been focused on this for a while now." Ei replied, checking his G-36C for the umpteenth time today. He had added sunglasses and a shemaugh wrapped around his face to his ensemble, as a way to hide his identity. The OICW he'd been training with was strapped to his back, to be saved for one specific fight.

"Same here." Shiori answered as well. She was stretching herself out like an olympian, clad in the upgraded armor she had gotten a few days prior.

"Just waiting on the word is all."

"Ah, haven't you heard about the word?" Skorpion replied.

"I hear that bird is the word." Ei joked, which earned him a smack to the shoulder.

"I just watched that damn episode at your behest, and I can't get that stupid song out of my head!" Shiori intoned tersely.

"Shiori, everybody knows about the word." Skorpion explained.

"Bird, bird, bird, bird is the word..." Ei sang, trying to egg Shiori on.

"Eva, we're about to have some pre-battle injuries!"

"Okay, okay, I'll stop."

"Well, to avoid giving them a clue about what's going on, the cue will be when the artillery starts. When you see stuff start exploding, charge." Skorpion instructed.

"Call it the 'good news,' then. Waiting is the hardest part." Ei mused, leaning against Skorpion's tank. 'Wake me when it happens."

Shiori facepalmed at the implied pun.

Behind Skorpion, a head popped out of a hatch on the tank, peering around at the sky. "Burd? Where?"

The turret turned slightly, causing Skorpion to sidestep to maintain his position. "No! No bird!" He replied as he was swung around. "Hold fire!"

"Bird!" Came a voice from the other side of the tank, followed by a burst of fire aimed at a passing pigeon. The bird squawked, banking to avoid the gunfire, only to be caught in a second burst from a different angle, evading it with a quick dive. "BIRD!"

The cry went up, along with sprays of bullets and the occasional burst of cannon fire. The bird in question was soon bracketed and shot down, falling to the floor in a clump of bloodstained feathery giblets.

Skorpion facepalmed, sighing. "So much for the element of surprise."

"I'll go write my obituary..."

A trooper crept up on the remains of the bird, examining it carefully. After a few seconds he nodded, spearing it with a bayonet and flicking it up onto the glacis plate of the tank, where it stuck.

"Anyone gonna eat that? Cuz I might just eat that."

Shiori gave Ei a nudge. "You have tacos waiting back at our place."

"On with the rounds, then. See you." Skorpion waved goodbye to the pair before taking a running leap off the tank, igniting his jetpack to rise up into a near-ballistic arc.

"Well, that was dramatic." Shiori put her hands on her hips, watching Skorpion blast off into the sky. "Soooo....wanna help me get the harder stretches done?"

Ei failed to respond as he was resting against the side of a tank, patrol cap pulled over his eyes as he napped. Normally he would have done that in a Black Hawk or in his Lancer, but really, any place an infantryman can sleep will do.

"Guess not." Shiori took her time to carefully stretch out more, with all the nimbleness expected of a kind-of-catgirl.

---

"Draaaakeeeey, I'm booored." Lizzie complained, kicking her legs as she sat on the back of an APC.

"Yes, I know. Humans are so overly dramatic. Waiting for times to strike, taking in the lull. They really need to learn to simply strike and take. Ah well, no helping some species I suppose." Draken hadn't dressed up any different than he normally would, in fairly business-esque attire to boot. "We have to wait nonetheless. We go too soon, and it will throw off our 'allies'." There wasn't a change in tone as he spoke the last word, but Lizzie caught his meaning anyways, ears twitching as she nodded. "Do you have our backup contingency plan ready, just in case?"

"Dragon out and eat them all?" She ventured.

"That's the backup backup. I mean the original one, with the switch?" He made a motion to the top of her current getup; a camoflage maid outfit festooned with pockets and pouches.

"Oh, that! Yeah, I got the remote. I..." She trailed off as she looked up, peering into the sky. "So, I was just thinking how lucky we are to have these Largoists on our side! We sure couldn't take it back by ourselves, could we?"

"Unlikely, I admit. Potentially, but unlikely. And I like being the one to add holes to you, not high-caliber ones, so having some assisstance to prevent that is always appreciated." Draken tilted his head slighty, looking out of the corner of his eye.

Skorpion dropped out of the sky on a pillar of flame, landing heavily nearby. "Ooof. Needs calibrating. So! Are you two ready to go?"

Lizzie nodded enthusiastically, eyeing the jetpack on his back thoughtfully.

"Not worth it, Lizzie." Draken turned to face Skorpion fully. "I am quite ready. I suppose I should make my way in soon, before the gifts make themselves known?"

"Soon as the artillery drops, go. It should be here any minute now; it's just been fired."

"Very well. I shall bid you two adieu. Lizzie, get in quick, and do not disappoint me." With that, Draken turned on his heel and walked in the general direction of the Temple.

Skorpion looked to Lizzie, who shrugged. "He's training me. Part of the whole draconic law thing."

Skorpion nodded. "Well, if you're looking for a job after the contract thing expires..."

Lizzie held up a hand to cut him off. "Dragon. Long lifespan, remember? It expires way after you'd be dead."

"I'm immortal, I can wait."

"Maybe part-time." Lizzie conceded, taking the offered card and tucking is away into her cleavage. "Or a contractor thing. Also, I want one of those packs. Just, y'know, dragon-sized."

"You mean you just want a jet engine you can wear on your back?"

"Yeah!" Lizzie confirmed, giggling and bouncing from foot to foot. "With afterburners and thrust vectoring an' everything!"

"You just want a wearable jet fighter. I'll see what I can do, assuming I survive this." Skorpion replied, chuckling.

Lizzie saluted, and scampered off after Draken, tail waving behind her for balance.

---

"Ohayo, Lexi-chan!" Skorpion called out as he landed on the shoulder of Alexis' mech, wobbling slightly as he found his balance.

Alexis' ear twitched as she heard the gong of Skorpion landing on the metal of her mech. "Hi Dad!" She replied, her ears perking excitedly.

Skorpion waved, jetpack letting out little bursts of thrust to keep him steady. "Doing okay in there? Nobody left a bear trap on the seat or anything? No random OS crahses?"

"Nope. No bear traps, OS crashes, dangerous predators, or armed explosives in here." Alexis reported with a waggy tail.

"What, no armed explosives at all?" Skorpion asked. "What kind of Largoist are you? Do you want some of mine?" He asked, offering a brick of C4 to her.

"Well, none that ain't mine at least." Alexis admitted. "What brings you to visit me?"

"I'm checking up on everyone before I make the dramatic speech, and testing out my jetpack while I'm not being shot at." Skorpion explained, walking over to the cockpit and reaching in to pet Alexis' ears. "They manage to clean all the blood out of this thing alright?"

"My ear or the mech?" Alexis asked before answering. "Because both are fine."

"I meant the mech; your ear wasn't literally full of blood. Nice to see the healing stuff works, though; at least something good came out of that accident."

"But I need to start over with conditioning it's fur." Alexis complained. "Soft fluffy ears like these take time and effort to maintain."

"So I hear. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have people to see and a speech to make." Skorpion patted Alexis' head one last time before stepping off the mech. His jetpack caught as he dropped, and he took to the sky again.

"Bye dad!" Alexis called out, waving him off excitedly.

---

"My hero!~" Mary cheered as Johnathan stepped back inside, the body of the ROUS steaming as it leaked acidic blood onto the concrete.

Johnathan checked his scarf for damage as he approached Mary. "Are you uninjured?" He asked, not finding any damage on the gift.

"I'm fine; you held it off, so it didn't-" Mary stopped mid-sentence, turning around to let off a single shot, neatly headshotting a ROUS as it leaped at Johnathan's tail. "It didn't get to me. I think there's more of them."

Johnathan sheathed his sword, replacing it with three daggers between his fingers that were immediately thrown into a ROUS that had burst out of a nearby vent.

Mary stepped back-to-back with Johnathan, snap-shotting ROUS as they approached. "It's like they know everyone's off fighting!"

Meanwhile Johnathan was continuing to throw numerous daggers at those who approached from his side. "Inconvenient."

---

Shiori was checking the last of her armor bits and mech tech when there was a slight buzzing next to her right ear. A glance to her left told her that Ei got the same thing. After a quick tap to her temple, she spoke aloud: "Hey Brittany."

"When did I get a CODEC?"

"Mid operation." The usual neutral tone was heard rather deep in their ears, almost disconcertingly so. "You two need to take about twenty paces to your left. We are about to bring in D4N1. Do not be surprised if she does not move or talk much for a short while, we had to put her into stasis as to help with the power draw. Unconcious minds are best for long distance travel."

Ei rose then started slapping the side of the tank he had been leaning against. "Hey, back up twenty feet! Got something coming in!" he shouted at the tankers.

As soon as the people in the way stopped being so, D4N1 materialized before their eyes. It was not unlike how things were digistructed on Pandora. A few seconds passed, then the massive, upgraded warmech started to stir.

"Transmat successful... GPS synch completed." D4N1 said, shaking about as a person would after waking up from a nap. "What musem did you dredge that up from?"

"I'll have you know that I have kept him in good condition this whole time, and new tech or not, I bet I could give you a run for your money," Shiori huffed, arms crossed over her upper stomach.

"Desolator could give <THAT> thing a run for it's money and he's a Desert Storm veteran. Seriously, they do not make them like that anymore."

"Oh ye of little faith," Shiori scowled playfully.

"If you two are done discussing mech tech values, I am about to detail the plan to help with this endeavor." Brittany intoned over the shared link, now including D4N1. Slight annoyance crept into her voice.

"How much does it deviate from what Skorp told us?" Ei asked, looking Shiori's mech over. He wondered if maybe it had been in the Smithsonian or maybe at Fort Knox, in the tank museum.

"It will not deviate by much. We have several of our better mathematicians, techs, and the AI housing the mind of the being who created the teleportation technology here in a control room, ready to send you both at Machariah's feet. With this element of surprise, as with everything else that is going on, the two of you will be capable of knocking him around, disorienting him more, and ultimately provide enough of a weakening to make it possible for Skorpion to deliver the final blow."

"Problem: we don't know exactly where the son of a bitch is." D4N1 pointed out. "I say we kill enough of them to draw him out."

"I have to agree with my AI, save for the latter part. We should let Draken get control of the facility first as well." Ei added.

"He will actually serve as the means to pinpoint the target," Brittany continued. "Once he is in the system, after the inital bombardments and main army take-down, he is to give us ongoing coordinates to the target's location."

Shiori gave Ei a puzzled look. "How'd you get him to agree to anything?"

"He contacted us," Brittany answered, that tone of annoyance in full swing, with a hint of disgust.

"So, what, we hold him off until Skorp gets there? Is that it?" Ei asked, masking the trepidation in his voice.

"Have you ever seen Dragon Ball, specifically the parts where the main heroes basically teleport around and bounce the villain of the moment like a ping-pong ball between themselves?"

"Yeah, except they didn't have to worry about ammo."

"You are not going to. When I give the command, do it, and we will handle the rest."

"As you command..." Ei said, half snarling it.

"What am I, chopped liver? Or are you leaving a walking Extinction Level Event to her own devices in a target rich environment?" D4N1 asked. She'd been eager to try out some of her new guns. She had two old favorites, an M-61A4 Vulcan cannon and a GAR-65A3 rifle, as standby weapons.

"There will be several targets to be dealt with as needed by one of your caliber. Specifically, several absconded TPCD mech units."

"I just hope they put up a fight. I'd hate to be bored to tears in a battlefield."

"They likely will. When they arrive, and it is calculated to be several minutes after the main part of the assault, you and Alexis will be the driving force of the counter-attack, with the tanks on hand as backup." A small pause as Brittany took a breath. "Until we have the target in place, the four of you should focus on the mechs currently here, as well their main forces outside of the citadel. Shiori?"

"What's up, Brittany?"

"Show off."

Ei could just feel the grin from under her helmet. "Will do!"

"Hang on, Shiori's taking her mech in after Mach? Is there going to be enough room?"

"Nah, I'll put it in park."

"Very funny... Anything else or is that all?"

"That is all for now. I will contact you when the time is right." There was a slight click, and the buzz ceased.

"Welp! Got more plans!" Shiori beamed (again, Ei could feel that from under her helm, how did she do that?), "I just need to do a slight tweak in the mech, and I'll be good to go. You?"

"I have my doubts..." he replied, ejecting the magazine on his rifle to check it, yet again.

Ei felt himself lifted into a hug. "Hey hey, no doubts. We got this, we're gonna get him, and we're gonna be step closer to a semi-normal life of weird superpeople."

"Normal's just a setting on the washing machine..." Ei deadpanned.

He got a noogie for that. "Come on, only a bit of time left. Help me with the last bit?" Shiori thumbed over to her mech.

"Sure... What do you need done?" he asked, returning the mag to its respective rifle.

"Just a few checks now." After getting a firm grip, Shiori leaped up to the cockpit with Ei in her arms.

---

"That's the last of them!" Mary exclaimed, setting her broom aside. "The cleaner bots will get them now they're outside."

Johnathan looked at the clock before reclaiming the tablet and sitting in his seat. "That should discourage further attacks for a while."

"It better; they ruined the carpet!" Mary pointed out, prodding at one of the gaping holes in the aforementioned carpet with her foot. "And I think I put a run in my tights."

"Carpet can be replaced." Johnathan stated plainly.

"That doesn't make it any less objectionable." Mary commented, smashing a pane of glass with the butt of her P90 to extract the can of fuel behind it. "Now we've got to set fire to the pile we just made."

Johnathan looked over to the pile of ROUS. "They seem to be dissolving effectively enough on their own."

Mary upended the can on the pile, soaking it liberally. "Fire neutralises it." She explained, stepping back before lighting the pile with a match. The pile caught fire, burning merrily and spewing black smoke skywards. "I'd offer you roasted marshmallows, but that smoke looks poisonous."

"Then why are we allowing it to flow unimpeeded into the city?" Johnathan asked as he watched the pile burn.

"Better than leaving it here, I guess." Mary shrugged. "Just following the instructions for ROUS attacks."

"It is true that the wind will direct it downtown and away from here." Johnathan agreed.

---

"Chow relief's coming." Tech Sergeant Perez said to one of his fellow Airmen, the MPs standing guard at Yokota's South gate. The senior NCO among them watched a Humm Vee approach, an M-1126 Stryker following close behind. Headlights bounced as the vehicles negotiated the barricades erected to prevent someone in an SVBIED (Suicide Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device) from just driving straight through the gate.

"Upating log." Airman Michaels replied with a yawn as he opened up the green, doodle-strewn log book.

"Looks like Army. Alright, tidy up guys." Perez ordered as the two vehicles came to a stop. The Air Force MPs turned watch over to their Army counterparts, boarding the Stryker and leaving.

Other than the platoon from Texas, 28th Armored Infantry, no one else on base had adopted a Force Protection measure higher than Bravo. People were treating the coming day as any other.

Mess specialists began their work of feeding the masses at the DFAC. Civilian contractors arrived at the exchange to check inventory then open the doors. Soldiers and airmen woke up for PT or watch rotation.

Just another day on this little base in Tokyo.

---

"What's this, what's this?" Skorpion asked, stepping out from behind the tank Ei was leaning on. "Plans I don't know about? Macro-scale teleportation? Plotting and trickery?"

"Just a few additional objectives." Ei replied. "Had to bring my machine in. She's got special tasking during the op."

"And that would be the TPCD defectors you mentioned?" Skorpion asked, grinning. "If so, good. Someone needs to deal with the dirty cops around here, and I can't be seen meddling with them or they'll revoke my unlimited rampage license."

"D4N1 still has a few of her unit markings, though I doubt anyone's going to get a good look at her. Kinda hard to when you're being shot at with high caliber weapons." Ei mused, rising to stretch. "There was another thing. I'm a bit trepidatious about it, though."

"So am I; teleportation is generally a Bad Idea. I saw Ash arrive upside-down or with excess momentum enough times to put me off the idea, even without the associated brain itch. I take it your system is tech rather than magic, though?"

"It's tech... I doubt anyone at Los Alamos was a mage. Maybe if they played D&D, but not IRL." Ei paused, taking a quick look around. "The big thing that has me the most worried, other than the teleportation, is the fact that once Draken finds our target, Shiori and I are going to be frontlining it until either you show up or he kills us."

"He can't stay hidden forever, not from you. Keep him on his toes, keep him in sight, and make sure to get plenty of dust in the air so his cloak can't keep up." Skorpion instructed. "Otherwise, I'm making a beeline for that bastard myself. Be easier if I hadn't loaned my motorbike to my daughter, but I'm sure I can think of something. Even if that something is ramping my truck into the building."

"I have a few ideas, one of which involves a tear gas grenade I've got. I still don't know why I grabbed it. Any other ideas? You've got more experience fighting this fucker. Last time we met..." Ei paused, gripping his prosthesis with his good arm. "...last time I contributed nil to the fight. It's going to be different this time..."

"Well, yeah; he ambushed you. Just like in Soviet Russia, you ambush him this time. Use infra-red, as he can only mask his heat signature for so long."

"I have infra-red. Won't it be a surprise for him if he cloaks then I shoot him in his face?" Ei joked. Kind of. He was hoping to shoot him in the face.

"He knows you're a prototype for us, so he'll be expecting you to use it. Your best option is probably shrapnel, and lots of it." Skorpion explained, tugging a shotgun from his coat and handing it to Ei, a sack dangling from the strap. "Use this. Don't let your US buddies get their hands on it, though; both the shotgun and the ammo are proprietary Sealand tech. Green magazines are flechette, red are tungsten buckshot, orange are napalm with thermite buckshot."

"You sure you didn't get inspiration from TORGUE? Their guns all fire explosives. And use an excess amount of CAPITAL LETTERS." Ei asked, looking the shotgun over before throwing the sling over his shoulder. "Guess it'll be another gun I save for the final battle."

"Use it whenever; you've got a couple of hundred rounds of each type. May as well use them up, y'know?" Skorpion shrugged. "It's nothing experimental, either; I've been using them for years with no issues. The only real innovation was scaling them up for this." He hefted his new, large shotgun. "It's also a recoil-operated grenade launcher, and can fire miniature RPG rounds. As for inspiration? I just bought up a few patents of abandoned projects, and combined them. You remember the predecessor to your OICW there?"

"Vaguely. I was still a kid when the Army held the ACR trails."

"Well, I picked up the patents for the H&K entry, combined it with the Pancor Jackhammer, and so you have a drum-magazine automatic shotgun with flechettes and tungsten buckshot. The napalm stuff is my own design; I needed something that would burn like thermite, stick to kids like napalm, and spread like buckshot. And, lo, we have something that can stick to a motorcyclist, burn through his armour, and then ignite his engine block just as well as his fuel tank." Skorpion grinned. "It's an education."

"Sounds like fun. Unfortunately, I'm bound by the Geneva Convention. I'll stray from it, just this once, since our enemy isn't exactly human, after all. As for the weapon..." Ei paused to look at his Lancer. D4N1 was peering into a tank turret, no doubt scaring the crew. "...I'll use Dani's shield to dispose of it. Or maybe have her shoot it with the MARAUDER."

"You could just return it. Or hand it to one of my troopers; I'm sure they'll give it back eventually." Skorpion pointed out, as the tank's loader reached out to pat D4N1 on the head.

"Point taken. I don't plan to take any ammo back with me, so don't hold that against me. Only time I brought something back was... Was that the 'Stan or the Sandbox? No, that was Hayden... Eh, I digress. I'll make good use of it."

"Want a chainsaw bayonet to go with it?" Skorpion offered, fixing one to his own shotgun/grenade launcher/RPG launcher hybrid. "You're not borrowing my BFG, though. I need that."

"I wasn't going to ask for it. But, yes, I'd like one, for Mr. Slicey.

Skorpion grinned, handing one over. "Feel free to keep that one; I'm trying to market them."

---

"It feels I'm the only one around here who DOESN'T teleport." Skorpion mused as he landed again.

"To be fair, there are ways that you could." Devin said in his magical girl form beside him. "Let's hope proxy line of sight works."

"I have a hard time trusting anything like that. I've been dead twice now, and both times I lost chunks of memory. Plus, what's stopping it from simply making a copy?" Skorpion sighed, turning his attention back to the task at hand. "But I digress. You all set up? Ready to go? Whisp not sneaking around nearby where she'll get hurt?"

"I teleported alone, so I don't have to worry about her getting hurt trying to set them on fire or something." Devin said as she cracked her neck. "Ready."

"Good, on both counts. I know she's a Mihoist, but what's important to you is supposed to be important to me. Or at least, that's how this parenting thing is meant to go." Skorpion shrugged. "The less casualties the better, regardless. Let's go bust their network up."

"Would you prefer I ride your shoulders or are you just going to fly off without me?" Devin joked with a smirk.

"You can climb on if you want, but this thing gets warm. Besides; you can teleport, can't you? You can keep up." Skorpion patted the magical girl on the shoulder. "Just wait for me to stop moving first. You don't want to pick up velocity you can't shed."

"This is true." Devin noted.

"Just give me a shout if you get targeted, and I'll deal with it. I can't have you getting hurt out here."

"Neither can I." Devin said before yawning. "Whisp would be furious if I got myself shot, and I really don't feel like being a zombie if I get killed, so best to avoid that too."

"Yeah, that's the spirit. Off we go!" Skorpion concluded, before shooting off skywards again.

---

The bustle of the shift change at the base was broken by the scream of an alarm. People scrambled for shelters as the first rounds hit, most scarring the concrete of the runway. One hit a parked hummvee, sending it skywards in a shower of burning fuel and shrapnel.

The alarms stopped as suddenly as they started, bringing bomb disposal teams speeding to impact craters and the curious and incautious from shelters. Counter-battery fire was sent out, guns turning and firing of their own accord.

A brief few minutes later, the sirens started again. This time, the barrage wasn't a few sporadic rockets. Instead, it was a rain of explosives and submunitions, scattering hot death around the base. Secondary explosions rang out as the counter-battery guns were bracketed and hit in a display of counter-counter-battery fire. CRAM fired then fell silent as it ran out of ammunition, rockets plunging into the base from multiple angles.

---

"WAKE UP, WAKE UP, WAKE UP!" Hayden called out in the barracks, the building shaking from another explosion. "This is not a fucking drill, we are under a-fucking-ttack! LET'S GO!" The soldiers needed no further urging from the sniper as they rolled out of their bunks, grabbing guns and rucksacks. Major Wylder and Lieutenant Crowley were already up and ushering people down the stairs and out the door.

"We have to get to our machines." Jenks swore as someone threw themselves out of a window.

"I'm okay!" Gunny Rockwell shouted, getting back to his feet and aiming his M-240 at nothing as a rocket struck the barracks, sending him back to the ground.

"HEADCOUNT, HEADCOUNT!" Rostok shouted. That took two minutes, all heads accounted for, including the CIA Rat Pack and Carbine.

"Topper, take a squad to reinforce the North Gate. Rostok, take another to the South... Armored Infantry and Cav Scouts, get to your machines!" Jenks shouted as more explosions rocked the base.

"Hoof it, let's go, let's go!" Topper called out, leading a squad comprised of Guerra, Hannigan, Stromberg (as a Designated Marksman), Washington, and Ortiz. Rostok had La Pointe, al Husseini, Petro SWAT Officer, and the CIA Rat Pack, MacIntyre, Rockwell, and Pierce, as well as Carbine, as his squad.

"Do not rush out ahead of us, Carbine! Last thing I need to do is drag your big ass to the EZ!" Mac shouted at Carbine.

"Sorry, you're not quite as spry as I was expecting." the automaton joked as he slowed to a hasty trot for them to catch up before moving slightly ahead of them to draw potential fire. Meanwhile, the Cav Scouts and Armored Infantry raced to the hangar under sustained rocket fire in their Humm Vees. The scouts broke off for the armored vehicle laager, where the few personnel there were turning engines over for their respective crews to man them. Jenks ran into Convoy's seclusion hangar, climbing up the scaffolding to reach the cockpit. Kickstarting his machine took less than a minute as they'd been kept in standby mode with a CAC card lock to prevent someone from just waltzing off with the machines.

"Convoy, we're under attack. Report weapons status." Jenks said as he flipped switches, disengaging locks.

"I am not Armored Convoy." the AI replied, displaying weapons statues on the right peripheral screen.

"What do you mean?"

"I am not worthy of the name. I am Scourge."

"Look, whatever, we're sitting ducks right now. Let's go." Jenks swore as he brought his machine out of the hangar.

"Radar's lit up all over! Rockets coming from the North, East, and West!" I don't have the ammo to intercept it all!" Pash shouted as Georgi, Chainlink, Brawl, and Sturm trudged out.

"Sarn't Arcturus, can you provide counter battery?" Jenks asked, another explosion lighting up the predawn sky.

"They're shooting and scooting. If a launcher isn't launching then it's moving." Hayden replied before raising the sniper howitzer in Sturm's right servo. "I've only got twelve rounds in this thing and it takes ten minutes to reload, manually. They hit our prepositioned guns."

"Then do what you can and try to stay alive."

---

"Admiral on deck! General on deck!" a sailor called out as Brigadier Rosoft and Admiral Montgomery entered the Operations Center on the George Washington.

"As you were. Now someone tell me what in God's name is goin' on out there!" Rosoft demanded as he approached his seat.

"About five minutes ago Yokota Air Base came under attack. Casualties are as yet unknown." an Operations Specialist replied. "There are additional reports of base personnel engaging in combat with an unidentified enemy force at the gates and elsewhere."

"Force composition?" Rosoft asked, picking up a headset and listening to the radio chatter.

"At present unknown. The base came under sustained rocket attack. Counter batteries have already been suppressed and the CRAM defenses are already Winchester." 'Winchester' meant out of ammunition.

"What of the MLRS battery at Yokosuka?"

"The battery commander says there's too much risk of collateral damage, but the Michael Monsoor is ready to begin fire support." Rosoft clasped his hands and leaned on the console in front of him.

"Any reinforcements available?"

"We're trying to wake tankers from 8th Cav, pilots from 227th Aviation, and AIWDT personnel to muster a counter attack. Additionally the Bonhomme Richard says they can helo in Marines and Lancers, ETA thirty mikes."

"Send in the Marines, now. They've got a better chance of arriving first." Rosoft replied as he rose from the console, taking the headset off. "I want birds up for top cover ten mikes ago. And tell the Monsoor to start shellin' as soon as possible!"

"Prepare for flight ops. I want every fighter on this ship in the air." Admiral Montgomery said into a handset. One of the displays was showing UAV footage of the unfolding battle. The sailors could see just how badly the deck was stacked against the defenders, even as combat mecha and Bradley IFVs joined the defense.

The Battle of Yokota Air Base had begun.

---

Summary:
Raid prep! Buff spell/lock and load montage.
Skorpion has no magic at all. None whatsoever.
Auger is real!
Weight problems again, but solved by a drone ATV.

John guards Mary like a loyal awoo.

JEEETPAAACK

Alexis says goodbye to Rekko. And to Jack, as a favour.
Banter!

Skorpion sets about visiting people.
Eva is creeped out by a Machariah impression. Try not to get shot!
Jetpack away!

John battles a ROUSOUS. Mary provides cover fire.

Ei and Shiori are warming up by a tank.
Bird is the word!
Okay, fine, the word is 'artillery'. Just charge into it.
BIRD!
Jetpack away!

Lizzie is booooored.
Scheming and plotting with Draken and oh hello Skorpion.
Plan C is 'dragon out and eat them all'. Much like usual.
Lizzie is offered a job. Part-time maybe.
She wants a jetpack, though! With wings and afterburners and thrust vectoring!
Fwoosh!

Alexis!
Headpats and reassurances.
Jetpack!

The ROUSOUS is defeat!
But wait! A swarm of ROUS!

Draken is a teleport homer for the mechs, by way of Brittany.

In case of ROUS swarm, break glass and burn bodies.

Regular base people doing regular base things.

Skorpion can smell plotting a mile off.
He doesn't like teleporters.
Plan: Shoot Machariah. Shoot the floor around him and overload his cloak.
Discussion of Skorp's new gun; a grenade launcher. With shotgun shells and bolt rounds.
Ei is loaned one, and given a chainsaw bayonet to promote.
Jetpack!

Devin is also scheming.
No Whisp around, and Devin can teleport to keep up with Skorp.

ALARM!
Yokota Air Force Base is struck by rocket artillery.
Lots of it.

PANIC!
NO, WAIT, DON'T PANIC.
AND DEFEND.
counter-counterbattery fire takes out the defenses, antimissile defenses are out of ammo.
Fire support? Naval artillery and airpower to come.

THE BATTLE IS FIGHT!




Rodent Of Unusual Size Of Unusual Size.
http://overkillgi.deviantart.com/art/Al ... illgi&qo=1
"I heard you like bullets. So i put some bullets, in my bullets, so I can shoot'cha... While I shoot'cha!"
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ArsenalXA4

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Posts: 61

Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:09 pm

Post Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:17 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Call of Battlezone: DLC Edition
Timestamp: Zero Hour and after.
Location: Yokota Air Base
Authors: Ei, Skorp, Hyuuey, O-Ring
Characters: Ei, 28th Armored Infantry, Skorp, Shiori (Hot Lips,) Alexis (Pupper), a buttload of other people, a literal boatload of MUHREENS.

Initial contact had been particularly heavy. The raiders had opened up with heavy weapons right off the bat, overpowering the MPs at the gates. Many were killed in the initial volleys. 28th AI's infantry were slugging it out with the heaviest, the only thing helping them in the least was Hayden's Sniper Howitzer, dropping hotel echo as called in, and whenever he was able to deploy. The rockets were trying their best to take him out, hindered by Barrage covering him.

Barrage had been given four M-61A4 Vulcan cannons in order to do his job, the rest of the Lancers doing without. All the same, the standard munitions would go through multiple, unprotected bodies with ease.

The infantry did not have that same luxury as they waited for their heavy armor to arrive.

"Guy's bleeding out over there. He'll be dead if we can't get to him..." Mac swore as he ducked behind cover to reload. La Pointe popped up to lay down a stream of fire, his SAW spraying spent brass and disintegrated links as the light machine gun sang a 'Die, Motherfucker, Die' song. Just as soon as it began, it ended; the SAW Operator ducking back down to clear a malfunction.

"Got a jam!" he called out, as Petro fired his M-4 blindly over the barricade. Operating the M-249 was not La Pointe's original choice. He was supposed to be a grenadier, however his assigned machine gunner, Sharde, had been killed on the same night as Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi. La Pointe was just trying to keep Sharde's memory alive.

"El-Tee, where the fuck are you? We're gettin' cut to bits out here!" Rostok shouted into his radio.

"Tied up by the barracks. They came over the HESCO barriers..." Lieutenant Crowley replied. Rostok pounded his fist on the ground.

"Carbine, don't you fucking dare. I am not going out there to scrape up whats left of you if you get shot up!" Mac shouted, Gunny Rockwell picking up the slack in fire with his M-240B. A militiaman was unlucky enough to take a stray round, spasmically firing his weapon at nothing as he fell. He was quickly replaced by another militiaman, as though there hadn't even been a break in the line.

"Christ, it's Fallujah all over again."

"Mac, you know he's going to die if we stay here, under cover and in safety." Carbine pointed out.

"There is no safety here." Mac replied. "Rostok, where the hell are the Lancers? Rostok?"

"ROSTOK, YOU PUT THAT WEAPON DOWN!!!" Rostok had the laser rifle in his hands, cradling it as he waited for it to charge.

"It's Laser Time, Mac. I been itchin' to shoot this thing at someone since we shot it durin' our range time." the Russian shouted back, the weapon charge light turning green. "Now cover me!" Mac let out a string of curses, consisting of the word 'fuck.'

"Guys, give Rostok some cover fire, on my mark..."

"MARK!" Mac, Pierce, Rockwell, Carbine, Petro, al Husseini, and La Pointe opened fire at the militiamen, many of them taking cover. The few that didn't died where they stood.

"IT'S LASER TIME!!!" Rostok called out as he pulled the trigger on the rifle. There was a series of beeps followed by a thunderclap. A man screamed as the beam hit him, making a noise like a hot pocket too long in the microwave. His squadmates were then covered in gristle and riddled with bone fragments as he exploded like a grenade into a cloud of red steam, his legs collapsing seconds later, the bloody ends still sizzling. All eyes were glued to what remained of the fanatic. There was a rather disturbing quiet for a few seconds before the cacophony of gunfire resumed.

"Are you happy now? Can you die happy?" Mac asked as Rostok returned to his M-4.

"Da. I can die happy. Provided these fuckers don't kill me first!" he shouted, punctuating it with a thrown grenade.

"Alright, alright, I've got it. Cover me and al Husseini-"

"Goleb." the medic interjected. "It's faster."

"Fine, just cover us."

"Gunny, I can't aim with my left hand." Pierce said. Rockwell unclipped his machine gun from the Chalker sling he wore and handed it and a belt of ammo over.

"Gimme yours... Just don't shoot me in my ass." Gunny said, Pierce handing the former Marine his SOPMOD.

"I'd rather shoot your ass with something else." Pierce joked.

"Walked into that one... Alright give us another-" Gunny was cut off by another thunderclap of the laser rifle. "Fuck it, RUN!" Goleb and Rockwell were up and over the barricade, running to where the surviving MP was.

"Alright, buddy, gonna do my best to patch your ass up then, hopefully, get you on the first flight home." Goleb said as he began to undo and pull the man's flak jacket away, Rockwell covering his blindside. "Looks pretty bad. Gonna have to do some body work, maybe replace the fuel pump, install a fuel injector, and replace the filter." Goleb paused to reach around the man's back through the hole he cut into his Multicam blouse and t-shirt. "Oh, good, found an exit wound. I got this."

"Goleb, how's he looking?" Mac shouted over the gunfire, Petro rising and spraying a man with a burst of fire.

"If he went to a dealership then they'd tell him to part with the mony and buy a new body!" Goleb shouted back, quickly covering the man with his body as an explosion rocked the site. He went back to work as soon as the dirt and bits of concrete stopped falling, hooking up an IV drip. "Need to get him to a medivac, now! I've got him as stabilized as I can but that's it!" Rostok took that moment to try and hail Crowley, again.

"El-Tee, El-Tee, what's your twenty?" he shouted into his radio.

"AFN parking lot... They're throwing BMPs and Type 89s at us." Crowley reported. The Type 89 was produced by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and was essentially the SDF's version the the American M-2 Bradley IFV and the British Warrior MICV. "Rage just joined us with Brawl. They smoked two of the '89s and crushed a BMP."

"Can you give me an ETA?" Rostok asked, flinching as an RPG landed nearby.

"I'd be lying if I said ten mikes. Hang on, some T-90s just joined the party... This is gonna be hairy. Out..."

"Armor is tied up. Crowley says they used ribbon bridges to bypass HESCO barriers." Rostok shouted to Mac. The CIA agent let out another fuck laden tirade before blindly firing his weapon over the barrier.

"Mac, I need extract now or this guy is expectant!" Goleb shouted out. "Expectant" was the term medics used to denote a dying man.

"I'm covering him. We're dead if we stay here." Pierce said, rising to begin laying some hate. He didn't get far as he was floored by a bullet.

"Pierce? PIERCE!" Mac was at his side almost immediately, the former SEAL gasping for breath.

"S-SAPI p-plate... I-I'm f-f-f-fine..." he stammered. Mac was about to say something when he caught sight of a militiaman coming around to flank them. Mac had pushed his M-4 to his side when Pierce had fallen and was now reaching for his sidearm.

Rostok was unable to respond as his entire right peripheral was taken up by the laser rifle on his shoulder. La Pointe was too busy trying to clear another jam to react. Petro's eyes were glued to his ACOG. Gunny Rockwell was still covering Goleb, a pile of bodies building up in his field of fire.

That left Carbine, the automaton drawing a bead on the aggressor with his own weapons.

Carbine had nearly lined up a shot when the militiaman was seemingly pounced on from the side by something heavy and invisible. Low Vis decloaked as he leaned down to look his victim in the eyes. "Boo." He stated as the gun ports in his head opened and he terminated the target.

Meanwhile Lockdown, who was much bigger than Carbine and Low Vis, beelined for Pierce and Mac. "Keep your heads down!" He shouted as he stood between them and the gunfire, deploying an energy barrier from his side as his minigun swiveled to return fire.

"ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!" Mac shouted over the 'brrrrrt' of the miniguns. "THERE ARE MORE OF YOU!?"

Carbine was silent for a moment as he re-established a connection with his kin. "Affirmitive, five in total." He stated as he began returning fire from his position.

"Mac, forget about it, we need to fall back or this guy is gon' have one of those nasty letters sent to his folks!" Goleb shouted.

"Rostok, make the call..." Rostok needed no urging, getting on his radio. Mac then turned to Carbine. "YOU! You have a fuckton of explaining to do when we're out of the frying pan."

"I erased ninty-two percent of my databanks upon capture." Carbine explained right then and there. "And no one asked."

Between the minigun and the laser a bold and possibly dumb militiaman hopped over cover to move up. As he started moving, everything from his collarbones upwards vanished into a red mist, followed shortly by the crack of a high-powered rifle as his charge stopped dead. If anyone were to look to the roof of the hangar they could see Longshot perched there, scanning the enemy line.

"Mac, Major says to fall back to secondary LOD. Hayden's bombing this place soon." Rostok shouted. He had switched back to his M-4 as the laser battery was depleted.

"La Pointe, Petro, help Goleb with the patient. Gunny, Pierce, keep laying some hate." Mac ordered, the infantry taking advantage of their new support to take a breather. Goleb had unfolded the portabl stretcher he'd been carrying, La Pointe and Petro helping to put the MP on it.

"Killing Machine, fire mission on our twenty, Danger Close!" Rostok called out as the squad began to fall back.

"Killing Machine copies, five rounds rapid. Out." Hayden replied. The thunderclap of the howitzer was partially drowned out by the unmistakable rip of an Avenger cannon in the distance. Moments later militiamen attempting to advance were turned into ludicrous gibs as 155mm Hotel Echo landed on their heads, the five rounds timed to land simultaneously.

Lockdown moved with Pierce and Mac, his barrier shielding them from oncoming fire. "Get your breath back yet?" He asked Pierce as his minigun spinned down to cool off.

"Yeah... I've been shot before, just not in a while. Forgot how much it hurt." Pierce replied. He'd since reclaimed his carbine and given Rockwell his M-240 back.

"Good! Because my shield's at twenty-five-wait! Twenty-Three percent and we should probably move!" Lockdown stated as he looked to the two behind his barrier.

"Thirty seconds or the rest of your life. Next LOD is at the PX parking lot." Mac said, Rockwell and Rostok leading the advance.

Carbine moved with Rostok, Crackdown awaiting them at the position. Meanwhile Longshot repositioned to the top of an office building nearby.

"Alpha Raptor, Alpha Raptor, we're at secondary Line of Defense. We're heavy one WIA, down to maybe fifty percent munitions and that's looking on the bright side." Rostok reported. Those that could posted watch, using what few cars were in the parking lot for cover.

"It's heavy at my twenty. Already seen at least three T-90 tanks and double that many AFVs." Major Wylder replied. "We're going to be falling back from here soon. Hold your positions."

"We'll do what we can. Break, any station this net, this is Foxtrot 28, respond. Say again, this is Foxtrot 28, please respond." Rostok called out over the radio.

"Foxtrot 28, this is Cannibal Man. What's your twenty?" Sergeant Donner replied from the platoon's Stryker.

"Secondary LOD at PX. We need pickup."

"Cannibal Man copies, ETA three mikes." Rostok sat against a car, laying his rifle down.

"Got us transport. Three mikes." the Russian said, holding a hand up with three fingers displayed.

"This guy's got priority. I just gave him some morphine but he's gonna need serious medical attention an hour ago." Goleb had the bleeding stopped, for now. "We need a CASEVAC."

"Rostok, call for an EZ, any where, I don't care where or how. Get the carrier if you have to." Mac ordered. Rostok got back to his feet and back on his radio, changing channels to call for something, anything.

"Mac, got an EZ to the West, Fussa Hospital. Carrier command says Marines are going to set up shop there and at... Pah, was long name... Some technical school, high school, South of here." Rostok said as the platoon's Stryker pulled into the parking lot. A few sections of the Birdcage armor had been blown away.

"Goleb, Petro, La Pointe, you guys are out of the fight." Mac said as the rear door opened, Sergeant Donner coming down with an MP-5 in hand.

"Whaddya mean I'm outta the fight? I ain't goin' nowhere!" Petro protested.

"I need three bodies for the stretcher: two to carry and one to keep the IV bag up." Petro began emptying his mag pouches, dumping what he had on the pavement.

"You assholes better come back!" he snarled, grabbing one end of the stretcher as La Pointe did the same.

"No promises in combat." Mac replied, watching the three men board the Infantry Carrier Vehicle.

"Alright, Sutton, all aboard!" Donner shouted out as he climbed back into the Stryker, the hatch closing. Specialist Sutton hit a car as she turned the 8X8 carrier around, then sped out of the parking lot.

"Killing Machine, Foxtrot 28, how're we looking?" Rostok asked the sniper.

"You've got incoming, fifty bodies and counting." Hayden replied. "I'm relocating so fire support is out."

"Foxtrot 28 copies. Break, El-Tee, what's your twenty?"

"Passing what's left of the DFAC. I've got my White Horse and the Jim Adler. ETA, two mikes." Lieutenant Crowley replied. They'd managed to survive their engagement long enough for Georgi to join the fray and saw a few AFVs apart with the Avenger cannon. Khukov and Georgi and Rage, O'Grady, Guttierez, and Brawl were holding the line, waiting for more Bradleys to join the fight. Only a few would as many crewmen had been killed in the rocket attack.

"We've got lots of hostiles coming our way. Expect action."

"Mr. Crowley copies. Out."

---

Two things happen whenever the General Alarm sounds on a warship. The first is someone asking if it's a drill. The second is people jumping, running about in a seemingly orderely chaotic fashion to man their assigned battle stations. Concurrent with the call to Battle Stations was the call for flight ops.

Marines went topside, two of the Bonhomme Richard's Sea Knights already spinning their rotors up. The first weapons platoon was airborne, orbiting the Amphibious Assault Ship in the predawn sky until Army Apaches could join them from Atsugi. The first Marines out were to secure a beach head for more Marines to arrive. The next would establish an EZ for CASEVAC at Fussa Hospital and fortify their position with heavy weapons and mortars. Their two LM-12M9 Alamosaurus sanjuanenses Lancers would be flown in via Army Chinook Chiefs to the primary EZ.

What couldn't be heloed in would be put ashore at Tsujido Seaside Park. That included the three tanks and multiple Amphibious AFVs and support equipment. The tanks and AFVs likely wouldn't make any difference, given that a column of Army Abrams tanks, Chasmosaurus tank-likes, and Carnotaurus Lancers were already forming up to race toward Yokota to reinforce and relieve the already beleaugered defenders.

Plans had to be changed when word got out that a few of the G-Dub's fighters and some Army Apaches had been shot down. Drop Zones had to be moved to what were percieved to be safer areas.

The first Marines on the ground under Captain Julius Baldomero Ryker had no complaints upon learning the DZ had been moved. His only regret was not bringing a few mortar Marines with him. That would change with the next helo load.

---

"HQ, HQ, this is Juliet Two November. Just touched down at baseball field near..." Captain Ryker had to pause to read his map under red light. "...Toritsu... Toriustisu... God dammit, it's a fuckin' nature park, South of the Tama River."

"HQ copies. Next platoon will be on site in ten mikes. Alamosaurs should be on your twenty in five."

"Two November copies." Ryker replied, looking toward the treeline then checking his map. On the other side was the Tama River and beyond that their original LZ. Further beyond was Yokota Air Base. Ryker tapped one of his Marines on the shoulder.

"Gunny, I want one of our Two Fortys covering that treeline." he said, pointing across the field. "And spread these fuckers out! Got Sauropods coming!" The platoon spread themselves out, one dropping a strobe for the Army Chinooks to see. Within very short order both Alamosaurs touched down, kicking up dirt and ruining the ball fields.

"HQ, Juliet Two November reports successful landing of the Sauropods." Ryker called out as both Lancers brought their weapons to bear. One was armed with a GAR-65M1 with underbarrel launch tubes for TOW missiles and a GBR-14M3 battle rifle with ballistic shields. The other had an older M-61A2 Vulcan cannon and an M-230M3 Chaingun. Both had additional weapons on the rotary hangars and GAU-19 CIWS on one shoulder hangar and Hellfires in the other.

"HQ copies. We need to know if you can take the original LZ." Ryker checked his map, the second load of Marines touching down. This load had Ryker's Mortar Marines.

"Can do. Two November out." Ryker replied. "Gunny!"

"Whatcha need now, Sir?" Gunnery Sergeant Joseph Antunez asked, shouting over the roar of the Sea Knights as they took off.

"I need a few Two Forty's to stay here with some riflemen to hold this LZ. We've been ordered to take the original LZ."

"Let's take a Sauropod with us. We're gonna need those heavy arms." Gunny suggested.

"Alright. Delegate duty, Gunny." Ryker pat Antunez' shoulder then keyed his radio. "Sauropods, this is Juliet Two November, I need one of you for escort duty."

"Juliet Two November, this is Lieutenant Zacharias, call sign Roughneck. I'll go."

"Thanks for the support, Roughneck." Ryker said, giving a thumbs up to the pilot. "Alright, Marines, let's move!" Twenty Marines and one Lancer pressed on, forging a path through the trees and coming out on the South shore of the Tama River. Of those three were carrying an M-224A1 60mm mortar and ammunition. Additional teams would be bringing the same. Heavier M-120 mortars would be delivered via LCAC and driven to the LZ.

Zacharias was first to cross, the Marines moving to a spit of sand in the middle of the river near a foot bridge and crossing there. The Marines leapfrogged up the North bank, arriving at a collection of houses. Ryker had to orient himself with the map for a moment before the platoon pressed on, running down a street with the Sauropod covering them. Things nearly got hairy when a civilian came out of his home with a trash bag in hand. A few riflemen shouted at him, approaching with their M-4s shouldered.

The man panicked, of course, dropping his trash and eating the pavement, screaming something that could have either been a prayer or it could have been a request for someone to delete his browser history. It took Ryker's intervention to keep the man alive and prevent an international incident.

The further the platoon advanced the more audible the sounds of battle became.

---

"TY TROOP!!!" You're dead! Khukov declared as Georgi used a still burning Type 89 as a shield, firing an M-230 chaingun at a BMP. The IFV was shredded under the sustained fire, munitions igniting and turning the vehicle into a bonfire. Georgi's signature GAU-8/B was hanging from his powerpack, the weapon at 10% munitions. Khukov had fallen back with Brawl's assistance to stow the weapon, returning to the field with a Battle Rifle in one hand and the chaingun in the other. He still had an M-68 tank rifle and a GAR-65 in reserve.

"Rage, we kill and we kill but they keep coming! Do they not see the wreckage?" the Ukranian asked of his fellow First Sergeant.

"I'm sure they do, they're just ignoring it." Rage replied. "Either way, we've got to fall back. I'm down to twenty percent munitions."

"Hang on..." Khukov reached over to change his radio channel. "Monsoor, Monsoor, this is Halfback of 28th AI, calling for covering fire on my GPS. Danger Close, say again, Danger Close, over."

"Halfback, Monsoor copies. Bringing the rain." the TAO aboard the USS Michael Monsoor replied.

"Alright, we have cover fire. Let's go." Khukov said.

"O'Grady, pop smoke. Guts, get us the fuck out of here." Rage ordered, scanning for more targets. There weren't a whole lot. What few were arriving were forced to negotiate the wreckage dotting the field. At least one T-90 had been killed atop an assault bridge, blocking the path for following armor. Khukov fired at the few that were immediate threats, dragging the IFV carcass along. He kept firing as the smoke enveloped his Lancer then dropped the IFV and turned to fire off his boosters, 'bouncing' out of the immediate combat zone. What few survivors managed to negotiate the maze of burning tanks were quickly added to the scrap laager as a Tomahawk dumped loads of high explosive submunitions atop them before proceeding for one of the air defense batteries. It would be shot down by a Type 87 SPAAG (Self Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun.)

"Alpha Raptor, is Halfback. Road Rage and I are falling back, proceeding to Secondary LOD." Khukov reported after touching down. Brawl was driving in forward now.

"Belay that. I need you and Rage to stop by a munitions pile. Secondary LOD has fallen under sustained attack and we desperately need the weapons and munitions." Jenks replied. Khukov brought up a map on his right peripheral screen, leaving Georgi to concentrate on walking.

"I am copy. Break, Rage, you get that?"

"Yep. Load 'em on Brawl's hull. You're gon' have to take point, cuz I don' much fancy bein' turned into a rollin' funeral pyre." Rage mused.

"When did I become a flatbed?" Brawl asked.

"The same day I become loader. Now shut up, we have lives to protect and job to do." Georgi countered.

---

Good news coming to the carrier had been few and far between. Two more Super Hornets had been lost to enemy action. A Growler had been shot down while preparing to engage enemy missile batteries with AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles. The only good news from that was that the pilot had taken down a launch vehicle before he'd been shot down.

"I really wish I could be out there..." General Rosoft mused as he watched the TACMAP. Icons moving about the map represented US forces and-

And what, really? The identity of the attackers had yet to be verified. The only thing that anyone could tell was that Yokota Air Base was very close to falling.

"We're not twenty any more, Mike." Admiral Montgomery replied to his Army counterpart, a petty officer handing him a report. "That and we're flag officers. We're supposed to die in bed."

"I won't argue that... I just wish I could do more than be a damned REMF." REMF was MILSPEAK for 'Rear Echelon Mother Fucker.'

"I know how you feel. That aside, I've got some good news." Montgomery said, handing the note over. "The Marines have established an LZ at Tokyo Metropolitan Tama Technical High School. One of their helos is going to do a test approach to see if he gets lit up by hostile radar."

"They need big guns out there. The Monsoor can cover only so much." Rosoft mused, watching another blip disappear from the screen. Another aircraft down. "That does it... I'm authorizin' the MLRS batteries at Yokota to go loud... I'll take responsibility for any collateral damage."

In front of them, the unit icons started moving, rearranging themselves. First, they grouped together to form a large, stylised penis and balls, before morphing into the words 'Don't bomb me, bro!'.

"What kinda chuckwagon horse shit is this..." the General asked of no one in particular as he peered at the screen.

"Walker, did you break my radar?" a Chief asked of a junior Petty Officer.

"No, chief, I did not."

"I swear to God, I will throw you off this boat if you broke my radar."

"Chief, I did not break it, swear to the Flying Spaghetti Monster."

A 1MC speaker crackled to life behind them. "Okay, so. First of all, don't you DARE saturate the area with your own artillery. There's already been one bombardment here today, and I don't want another. Especially because this one is going to be on ME." Skorpion insisted, through the speaker. "Secondly, I'm going in to save your asses because I have a bone to pick with the invaders. Don't shoot me."

"And just who might you be?" Rosoft asked, facing the 1MC speaker. "You sure as hell aren't one of mine."

"You're goddamn fucking right I'm not." Skorpion pointed out. "Prince Skorpion, Principality of Sealand. The guy commanding the forces attacking you is ANOTHER of your failed projects. Two of them, to be precise."

"I honestly couldn't give a shit if you were the fairy fucking godmother. I've got people fightin' and dyin' down there. If you've got assets in place I'd sure as shit like to know so my boys comin' outta Atsugi and the Marines flyin' in don't shoot them." Rosoft said, wanting to get to the point.

"Alright. I've got assets coming in from the side opposite where you're being attacked from. Don't shoot them, despite all the ex-Soviet hardware.

"I'll pass the word. Tanks an' Mecha comin' from Atsugi are under a Lieutenant Marquez. The Marines are mostly infantry right now an' are under a Captain Ryker." Rosoft said, allowing himself to relax. "An' please do somethin' about those SAMs. I've lost enough brids as it is."

"I have a man on it, don't worry about that."

---

'STOP FOOKIN' SHOOTIN' AT ME YE SCUNNERS!' Lucius yelled as he made another pass over the SAM vehicles. 'I cannae pick ye up if I'm tryin' tae dodge wha' ye're throwin' a' ME!'

---

"Boored." Alexis complained before getting on comms with Skorpion. "Skorp! I'm bored! When are we gonna move?"

"Hello bored. I'm Skorpion." Skorpion replied. "And just for that? You're moving now. go go go!"

Skorpion could practically hear the facepalm over the mic. "Alright!" Alexis cheered before charging to the field.

"Lexi, don't lose your support. Everyone else, make sure you keep up." Skorpion ordered, dropping the Beast into gear and chasing off after her.

"Got it!" Alexis acknowledged.

Around Alexis, the assorted armour started to move, kicking up dust and bits of roadway as tracks gripped and spun. They were followed by APCs and various smaller vehicles, along with an assortment of motorcycles.

Ei was riding tank desant atop a T-90. He was ignoring the soldiers dancing atop the gun turret, even as the tank drove over someone's car, dislodging a particularly ambitious breakdancer.

Up ahead, the HESCO barriers had been breached by engineers; assault bridges had been laid over portions of the anti-tank ditches, with other sections filled by the expedient of bulldozing the barriers into the ditch. Ei's tank bounced as it forded one of the piled barriers, tracks absorbing most of the shocks. Around him, other assault bridges had been propped up against the barriers, allowing lighter vehicles to ramp over the top; some of the motorcyclists pulling backflips and assorted stunts as they flew through the air.

"Lexi, you ever 'bounced' before?" D4N1 asked, stowing her hand held weapons on the stowage racks. She opened the covers over her XM-201s and spun the Gatlings up for a moment before covering them up again. "It's really easy. Plant your pedes firmly on the ground, engage thrusters, and let the AI do the trajectory work."

"You could do the math on your own but I've only known one person who could do that on the fly and he's out there, right now. Now watch..." D4N1 stopped where she was, taking a wide stance before firing off her thrusters. In an instant she was airborne, bypassing the traffic and the HESCO barriers in very short order. "Alright, come to me!"

"Get ready to make it two!" Alexis said, her eyes glowing as she mimicked D4N1's stance, firing off her thrusters to take off and land next to the mecha. "Not bad for a meatsack, ey gearhead?" She said with a friendly grin.

"Not bad. Now earn your combat badge. See if you can break Colonel Lynch's record." D4N1 mused before turning toward the still burning base and rushing off.

"Be sure to send that to me. I love showing off." Alexis chuckled, her tail wagging in her seat as she took off after the mecha. "Don't worry, A5H. I'll save some for you. Promise."

D4N1 ran across the pockmarked runway, a few unexploded rounds here and there. She had no time to reminisce. Not that she wanted to. Her beatdown at Convoy's servos was still quite fresh.

"Just about there." Alexis said, more to herself then anyone as she followed after D4N1. "After this is over you should definitely come to the afterparty."

"Negative... I'm going to have a lot to deal with after all is said and done." she replied. "Now focus. T-90s at bearing zero two nine, range five hundred twenty meters. Recommend Hellfires." D4N1 had opted for a Typhoon Weapons System instead of missiles. She had enough tank killer gear as it was.

"Got 'em." Alexis said as she locked onto four hostile tanks and fired off her missiles. The explosives soared to their targets before erupting into fire and shrapnel. "Four down." She reported.

"Keep moving. To move is to live. Lynch and Desolator survived 73 Easting that way." D4N1 said, bringing a rather large weapon to bear. It had been hanging from her powerpack in a folded state.

"This isn't my first firefight." Alexis reminded, even though it was her first firefight in a mech.

"Then move!" D4N1 called out, lurching toward Lexi and pushing her out of the way. A missile slammed into her, the Firestorm shield absorbing the explosive impact, her frame taking the physical impact and staggering her.

"Move... to live..." she said, punctuating it by aiming at the offending tank with the large weapon and firing-

Firing what? It looked like a flaming donut as it closed the distance from D4N1 and struck the tank, Explosive Reactive Armor and the gun glowing white hot and sloughing off as the Toroidal Vortex from the Plasma Railgun struck. What didn't hit kept going, dissipating as it passed the burning tank. What was left quickly exploded as plasma reached the munitions rack. D4N1 had been impressed with the results, more so than the simulation had shown. She turned her loudspeakers on.

"COME TO THE NIGHTMARE! COME TO ME!!!" she beckoned before advancing.

---

At this time tanks and Lancers from 8th Cav with the Hammerheads from SDI were arriving on site. Marines at the technical school had been mated to their vehicles and were racing up, their Tetrapods 'bouncing' with them. More Marines were coming in from Fussa hospital, heavy one Army Stryker and three, very pissed off soldiers.

All advanced on the air base where the secondary LOD was about to fall.

---

"Last mag!" Hannigan called out before firing a 40mm frag, the round landing among a group of fanatics using a still burning Type 90 tank for cover. Those within the kill radius were as good as organ donors. The rest in the wound radius were still as good as dead as Gunny Rockwell raked them with his M-240.

"I'm out!" Pierce shouted, drawing his pistol and firing a few unaimed shots. The CIA Rat Pack was using a fallen Air Force Utahraptor Lancer for cover. The machine had taken a hit to the core and toppled over onto a pair of cars. The pilot had ejected and added what few personal weapons he'd had. Those munitions were now gone, downrange with the rest.

"Muitions at thirty percent." Georgi reported. Chainlink, Brawl, Sturm, Barrage, and Scourge were down to their last reserves. All anti-tank missiles had been expended. The Lancer weapons Brawl and Georgi had brought were almost dry. Lieutenant Crowley's Bradley was out of chaingun ammo and was down to the coaxial machine gun and his fifty cal. Sergeant Thomas still had sixty chaingun rounds left, a jammed coaxial machine gun, and his fifty cal. All Bradley TOW missiles were expended.

"Last stand, huh?" Topper shouted.

"Fix bayonets?" Rostok asked. Topper looked over his makeshift barricade, a car tipped onto its side. Already more fanatics and armor were beginning to advance, negotiating the maze of burning armor and bodies.

"Major, we're fixing bayonets. All we can do." Topper said into his radio.

"Do it quickly. They're coming." Jenks replied, bringing Scourge's arm guns to bear. The GAU-19s unleashed a hail of fifty cal, turning anyone out in the open into hamburger. Miniguns and fifty cals opened up soon thereafter, the infantrymen waiting.

"Carbine, if you've got a knife or something now is the time to equip it." Mac said to Carbine as he attached an M-9 bayonet to the end of his SOPMOD. Gunny Rockwell was the only exception to the rule as he took out a machete.

"I have my own knife." Carbine replied, the blade extending on an arm.

"Just know that I still hate you." Mac said with a smile before the roar of a large Vulcan nearly defened him for a moment.

"All munitions depleted. Ready melee." Georgi reported as his GAU-13s kept spinning. Khukov sneered as he disengaged the safeties on a cudgel he'd been carrying. Really it was an I-Beam with another beam welded and wrapped around it to form a crude, but very effective club. Each pilot had their own preference for melee but they'd never really had any need to use it. This was really Sergeant Major Mackall's area of expertise but he was back Stateside, the Grind Nightmare with him and Super Leatherface.

"COME AT ME, BRO!!"

The tanks lowered their cannons, the infantry closed in. Georgi and Khukov could all but see the whites of their eyes. Eyes that rather quickly pointed themselves upwards, just as a massive shadow was cast above the doomed group.

A positively ancient looking mech landed on it's four legs, crushing a few fanatics in the process. As the tanks swiveled to take aim at their new target, the mech swung about, pointing a massive Gatling back at them. The device spun, bullets blazed out, and turned the attacking machines into mettallic swiss cheese. A swing of the arm, and a tank went flying. Another swing, and a mass of fanatics went flying too.

"What... the... hell?" Topper asked, watching the devastation wrought by something everyone agreed looked more at home in a museum.

"A-are we doing this? Or what? Is this what we're doing now?" Hannigan asked, still trying to attach a bayonet to a rifle with an M-203 mounted to it, which is not an easy thing to do. At all...

As the dumbstruck soldiers gawked, the mech was moving far more smoothly than one would expect for its age. Tanks were flung, attackers were squished, and one unlucky bastard got flicked away like a paper football. Topper swore he heard the guy do a pained Goofy Holler in the process.

"Platoon, fall back to the EZ. Our relief is here." Jenks ordered, backpedalling his Lancer as he continued to lay down a hail of fifty cal. Carbine and his ilk took position among the Brads, laying down suppression fire.

"Don't need to tell me twice... Platoon, mount up!" Topper shouted, the Mech Killers and a few Airmen piling into their Bradleys. Topper took one last look before climbing in and saw approaching T-90 tanks and additional armor, including guys on dirtbikes. He also saw the Hammerheads begin touching down, firing as soon as they stabilized themselves. The last thing he saw before the door shut were Marine Humm Vees and the mystery mech getting geared up for a scrap.

"Platoon, we're going to rearm at the EZ. Resupply then rejoin the fight." Jenks said over the radio. "We're out of the fight, for- Is that D4N1?" Everyone piled in the back of the Bradleys gave eachother quizzical looks.

"Isn't she dead?" Rostok asked.

"S'posed to be. SDI had her. Right?" Washington added. The only people in the Bradleys who could see were the Commanders, Lieutenant Crowely and Sergeant Thomas. Crowley was already behind his fifty cal, his enlisted counterpart ascending from his seat to take a better look.

Sure enough, the YLM-27D4N1 was out there, Typhoon Weapons System blazing away as she lugged around a heavy weapon neither had ever seen.

"Guys... The bitch is back..." Crowley said into his radio.

The mystery mech's 'head' looked over as D4N1 made her way. A speaker blared out, causing a few of the still-living fanatics to clap hands over their ears. "Hey, D4N1. 'Bout time you made it over here. What was that about your oh-so-impressive jump jets?"

"You're not playing nursemaid for a first time Armored Infantryman!" D4N1 called back, shrugging off an RPG before turning the Typhoon onto the shooter and turning him into gulash. "LEXI, GET YOUR ASS UP HERE!!!"

"Heh, excuses, excuses. Watch my six, willya? About time I got some action in this baby." The mech turned on its heels, and jumped into the fray.

"I'm coming, I'm coming!" Alexis complained, firing a couple of hellfires at a tank that thought it could stand a chance alone, neatly puncturing the armour and catching the escaping crew in the secondary explosion.

"Tch... C'mon, 73 Easting didn't take this long. Nor did Basra." D4N1 mused. Another tank staggered her and was quickly reduced to slag. Among the Largoists, 7th Cav and the Marines began establishing their own fields of fire and LOD, tanks ripple firing into the advancing fanatics. The Marines had their mortars deployed back at the remains of the DFAC and were already calling in fire support. Much to everyone's relief, Cobra and Apache gunships were joinning the fight, no longer under threat of SAM coverage, save for MANPADS if anyone had them.

Someone, of course, did, managing a couple of rockets before a pair of gunships turned his surroundings over with rockets and cannon fire.

"Marines, lay into 'em!" Captain Ryker called out over the renewed cacophony. His platoon took no pause, firing everything they had.

In the meantime, the mystery mech was tearing apart the enemy armors with ease. With agility one would not expect from such old technology, it dipped under fire, dodged RPGs, and basically danced across the battlefield. Several times it simply jumped up and smashed the opposing forces underfoot, before reaching out and tearing another limb from limb. Every so often, its Gatling would sing out, and twice it utilized its missle pods to demolish a couple enemy nests and armors from afar.

"Hammerheads, engage at will. We ain't paid to bring any of our ammo back!" Sergeant Wilks ordered of the Hammerheads. Each unit responded in kind then joined the fight as they saw fit. [Claw]Hammerhead was first out into the thick of it, burying his buster arm into the turret of a Type 89 IFV, ripping it away before lighting the crew up with his GBR-14E2.

"CRUSH! CRUSHCRUSHCRUSHCRUSHCRUSHCRUSH!!!" the automaton called out as he threw the vehicle carcass, striking a tank with it.

"That one has a one track mind..." D4N1 mused, watching the other Hammerheads tear through the enemy. "Lexi, cover me!"

"On it." Alexis acknowledged mowing down a few RPG-armed fanatics with her dual 40mm cannons before wasting a hellfire on a cluster of them for figurative shits and literal giggles. D4N1 turned toward Lexi, levelling the MARAUDER her way as bits of the fanatics rained to the ground.

"Oh, come on! It was just one missile!" Alexis complained.

Dani said nothing as she pulled the trigger, the toroidal vortex of plasma heading Lexi's way.

"Shit!" Alexis cursed, dashing away from the shot, the chassis of her mech rotating as she did. D4N1 lowered her MARAUDER then cocked her head.

"That machine lacks the Blind Spot Camera MECHALTs. Stick to my right side and ahead so I can cover you better." she said. Near Lexi was a still melting tank, the turret reduced to slag.

"Damn. That's a useful thing. I'll need to talk to Skorp after this." Alexis said before repositioning and resuming fire. "And when did everyone start calling me Lexi?"

"Wasn't given a call sign." D4N1 said. "I could log 'Pupper' into my database, if you'd like."

"Aw. Ran out of targets." The mystery mech prodded a now-limp enemy armor, and gave the equivalent of a shrug. With another bounce, it made its way to where D4N1 and Alexis were. "You two holding up ok?"

"Doing alright, and don't call me pupper." Alexis said, shifting who she was talking to half way through the sentence.

"You have pupper ears. Therefore, you are pupper. Besides, your'e too smol to be doggo." D4N1 countered. "And I'm doing fine."

"Pupper ears are floppy, and mine are pointed. And I'm a wolfgirl regardless." Alexis corrected. "It's like calling you a Gundam; sure you're both giant robots that cause a lot of collateral damage, but your different models of giant robots that cause a lot of collateral damage." D4N1 peered at her for a moment then leaned in very close.

"U r pupper."

The mystery mech popped off another salvo from the missile pod, and demolished a pair of armored vehicles that were sneaking up on the arguing girls. "Howsabout we save the rest of the base, hm?"

"You're a pupper..." Alexis childishly grumbled.

"We keep moving with the Forward Edge of Battle. Leave securing the base to the Marines." D4N1 pointed out, Sea Knights and Sea Stallions arriving on the far end of the base to deliver more personnel and equipment.

"Our objective is out there." D4N1 pointed off in the distance, beyond the wreckage field before them.

"Right. I think we cleared out the majority of the big issues. Shall we, ladies?" D4N1 looked at the Hammerheads. [Claw] was displaying a tank turret he had claimed as a trophy.

"Lets... I'd rather not stick around any longer. I'd especially prefer to avoid Armored Convoy, for now."

---

Ei

I stick with the tank until we're at the secondary LOD. I'd been anticipating the worst, however I felt relief when I saw the platoon Bradleys falling back, the Lancers 'bouncing' along the way.

Except for Georgi. That giant bullet sponge ran after the IFVs, Brawl bringing up the rear. I wondered what had happened to our Stryker since I didn't see it. I have no time to ponder the question further as we join the engagement. I see the destruction Shiori wrought in her machine. Quick and to the point. D4N1 and Lexi are doing fine on their own.

I don't wait for my tank to stop moving and jump, shouldering my rifle as soon as I'm up. I see a few of the fanatics, wannabes who think they're hot shit because they surprised an entire air base.

Guess what, fuckers. You're just another bunch of tryhards. I place my shots carefully, double tapping my targets.

One, two, three, four down. One guy tries to bring an RPG to bear. Double tap, five down. I keep moving, Largoists moving in bounding overwatches. I can feel the impacts of bullets on my plate carrier, as well as on the rest of my body. I'm too pumped to care, too focused.

Six, seven. Seven. SEVENSEVENSEVENSEVENSEVEN! I duck behind what used to be a BMP to reload. As I do so I see a familiar looking Stryker pull up with a bunch of Humm Vees. Marines hop down, the odd men out wearing Multicam in a sea of MARPAT. I'm tempted to make my way toward them, to say 'hey, it's me! I'm alive!'

But I can't. I have to 'stay dead' until I can stare Machariah down his stupid, fucking, nightmare invading face and shoot it. Multiple times. With explosives.

I'll give him bullet bukkake.

Great, now I've got 'Big Man with a Gun' stuck in my head. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, I mean it is rather appropriate.

Eight, nine, ten, eleven. A bunch of them are beginning to fall back. Shioris mecha is leading the charge, D4N1 and Lexi close behind. I pause to ransack a body for ammo, finding several STANAG mags full of M-855 ball ammunition and what appears to be a handbook on how to be an anti-kemonomimi asshole. I keep it, if only because I never know when I'll be on the can and there won't be TP available for my bunghole.

"I AM CORNHOLIO!" I shout at the retreating fanatics. Just had to get it out of my system. I make my way to the nearest tank and climb aboard, some Largoists joining me.

I wonder, how many of them are going to die at my side? At least it will have meant something.

The Forward Edge of Battle is moving, again. We've got dinner plans with a man who thinks he's invincible. I plan to get three pounds of flesh today.

---

Skorpion sped towards the battle, the squad of infantry on board firing out the windows at various targets. Other targets were simply flattened, with further ones engaged and perforated by the 30mm chaingun on the roof. He leaned forward over the wheel as a repainted hummvee disintegrated on impact with the front of the Beast, the wipers dislodging lumps of wreckage from the windscreen. "Gotta love that GM build quality. Strider, am I right in assuming that the pall of smoke over there is the heart of the fighting?"

The radio crackled into life a few seconds later. "Yes boss." Came the reply. "Lancers and attack choppers engaging ground forces. Anti-air seems to have been taken out.!

"You're sure of that? They're not just keeping their heads down and radar off?" Skorpion asked.

"Pretty sure, boss. About 80%; Lucius just got done smashing the last missile carrier to pieces with what's left of the second-last one. I think they made him mad." Strider replied. "Might be some lower-profile stuff around, though."

Skorpion frowned. "Well, keep an eye out. We're still relying on American air support for this; dont want them reverting to training and shooting down anything with the wrong silhouette." He turned the wheel, steering towards the smoke, switching frequencies with his other hand. "Wanwan, come in! How are things looking at the bleeding edge?"

It took a few seconds before Alexis replied. "Things are going alright so far. I'm surprised they have so many tanks." She said, putting a hand over where Machariah had stabbed her lung as it started to ache.

"They stole one of my shipments from Russia, and the rest seem to have been looted from the JSDF." Skorpion explained. "Do try to stop blowing up the T-90s, though. I want those back."

"I'd do that if I had an EMP or if they'd stop shootin' at me." Alexis replied before taking a deep breath and returning her hand to the controls.

There was a loud crunch soon after that. "Ack, sorry!"

"Then de-track them and damage the turret; I was going to rebuild that anyway." Skorpion suggested.

"Wait... Wanwan? That's your call sign? Is that it?" D4N1 asked, giving off an approximation of a giggle. Really it sounded more like radio feedback. "Also, you may want to write off a few... I might have melted them with the MARAUDER."

"I never asked for it. I wanted something cool, like Destroyer or even just Sniper Wolf, but noooo. Metal gear took Sniper Wolf and people like teasing me to much to give me a cool one..." Alexis complained. "And Lexi was meant to be a private nickname mom gave me, but now everyone calls me that..."

Skorpion sighed, interrupted by a crunch as he ran over a burning F-16. "Ah, well. I was going to switch to Leopard 2s anyway, and I'm taking reimbursement out of your taxes anyway. Also? 'Lexi' is a perfectly valid shortening of 'Alexis'. Plus it's cute. And you ARE a wanwan, even if you're a fierce and mysterious awoo in a mecha."

"I don't pay taxes." D4N1 pointed out. "I would, however, pay to see you wrestle a T-90 turret from [Claw]Hammerhead. He apparently takes trophies."

"Suddenly, I'm regretting taking the Hellfires off this thing." Skorpion mused, slaloming through the remains of the rest of the squadron and their support equipment. "But hey, we're Largoists. Looting is kind of what we do, when we're not kicking ass or driving recklessly or flying way too low. You guys care to pop some coloured smoke or something so I can find you in this melee? Preferably soon; if I stop, people might actually hit me. And, y'know, I've got a pack of rocket artillery mounted in the back here; I don't want that taking an RPG or anything."

"Follow the 'highway of death' Shiori, PUPPER, and I have been making. Should be safe near us." D4N1 offered. "Or you could stick close to the Cav that's coming in. Or not. They seem to be holding position."

"Hey, easy on the names, I have to hold up my mysteeeerriousness. Also, highway of death, nice term."

"I got a flare in here, give me a sec..." Alexis said as she grabbed the flare gun from her SERE kit. She turned her mech to see if she was being flanked before taking cover behind a building and popping the hatch. She took one step out before aiming the flare gun to the sky and firing off a flare. After watching to ensure it popped, she returned to her seat and closed the hatch.

"You know I've got wheels and not legs, right?" Skorpion asked as he veered into the aftermath of the mech advance, his escort of APCs and light tanks following along behind. "Ah, thank you. I see you now." He paused, the Beast lunging sideways to flatten an ATGM team aiming at the mechs from behind. "Also, you know you're being flanked, right? Were, anyway; I brought cavalry. The heavy stuff should be along shortly, what little of it I'm using here..." He trailed off, snapping his fingers. "THAT'S what I need! Fast tank destroyers! Like the MGS, only, y'know, not on that godawful Swiss chassis, and with a proper gun. Maybe a railgun..."

"I could have taken the hit. Not sure 'bout Shiori or Pupper, though. Thanks either way. They seem to be leaving a few heavy weapons teams in their wake. Nothing that can really stop us, though. Thoughts?" D4N1 asked, pausing to swap the MARAUDER out for slightly more conventional weapons.

"I'm not a pupper!" Alexis interjected.

"And my mech could take way more hits than you'd expect, missy."

"They didn't get any of my special projects, so it's not like you're dealing with something designed to give a Gundam a hard time." Skorpion replied. "Next to no air support... This is a diversion. The real show is elsewhere." He concluded decisively. "We need to push on to the Temple."

"Got it, you gonna stay in that while we clear a path?" Alexis asked as she leaned back in her seat.

"I was thinking more along the lines of covering fire; I move way faster than you." Skorpion pointed out, approaching the mechs rapidly.

"I have an idea, but it means talking to the Carrier. Call in some 'Steel Rain' from Yokosuka, walk up rockets from here to the target." D4N1 suggested.

"No." Skorpion replied, shutting her down flatly. "We don't have the rampage permits to shell that much of the city on short notice.

"Eh, it was just a suggestion. Guess you've got tube arty on standby then."

"Tubes, and fast air. We're not really equipped for strategic warfare, on account of being mostly mercenaries, but we can probably get away with just puttin' the hammer down, an' gittin' 'er done." Skorpion replied, adopting a Texan accent for the last part.

"Cap's Texan and he doesn't sound like that. Either way, I'm happy just being here. Happy to make the green grass grow with red, red blood."

"Let's get this going then!" Alexis shaid with a grin, firing her double-barreled 40 mm Bofors cannon down range at a group of fanatics in cover. "Time for a right proper purge, I say."

"PURGE THEM WITH FLAME!" A beat. "At this moment I wish I had a flamethrower and a GBR. Would make it more appropriate. Lasers will do."

"Tally ho!" Skorpion quipped, speeding past betwen the mechs and through a group of mercenaries covering the fanatics. "Pip pip, what ho, old chaps?"

"I POWDERED MY COCKATIEL FOR THE RIBCAGE SLAUGHTER!!!" D4N1 called out, launching off a pair of AP canisters and obliterating the survivors in Skorp's wake.

Alexis followed after Skorpion, shooting off her remaining Hellfire missiles at a couple of armoured targets between Skorp and his objective.

"MY HOVERCRAFT IS FULL OF EEEELS!" Skorpion exclaimed, dodging anti-tank missiles as he made a beeline for the nearest hangar. "Also, heads up, hostile choppers inbound. No eels there, though."

"......You people are weird." The mystery mecha's Gatling sung again.

"Incidentally, the Highway of Death is probably a reference to the highway out of Kuwait in the first Gulf war back in '91; Iraqi forces tried to use it to retreat, and the USAF and US Navy basically tore them to shreds from the air. It's an object lesson in why you bring air cover, or at least decent anti-aircraft systems. I've an operation there on and off for the last decade, hauling the scrap out, burying the bodies, and analysing what destroyed the vehicles. A fair amount weren't even touched, just abandoned when they were blocked in with wreckage." Skorpion explained, as if it were something anyone would actually care about. "And yes, we are wierd. Comes with being super-soldiers, or a robot in D4N1's case."

"Oh yeah, I remember reading about that. Never mentioned that name though, weird."

"No point calling attention to your own massacres if you're trying to justify stopping other people's." Skorpion pointed out. "Lots of lessons learned in that war, though, particularly about long-range operations. Us Land Warriors were created as a response to the issues with special forces operations out there; they wanted an unstoppable, deniable force to do their dirty work, rather than a bunch of people with homes and families and heads full of secrets that couldn't be wiped."

There was a long pause. "Either this is a diversion, or he's going to drop rocket artillery on us again. Either way, I think we'd better get a wiggle on."

"Mark the targets. There's still plenty of fighter/bombers up there."

There was a loud pop as another missile pod went off, and most of the enemy craft burst into so much flame and shrapnel.

"I would agree on the diversion were it not for..." D4N1 paused to think of a name for Shiori, so as to not broadcast it this time.

"Hot Lips. Hot Lips is doing quite a number on the enemy. It could be that what's left is being pulled back as reserves. I doubt he's got any Category B or Category C units."

"And not Fluffy Tail?" Skorpion asked. "Because I vote Fluffy Tail."

"I can hear you both you know." Another salvo, and more explosions in the air. "Side note, fifty percent depleted on the pods, but the Gatling's juuuuuust fine."

"If it were the other way around, I could help out. Don't think I have missiles that size on hand, fluffy." Skorpion replied. "Or should I call you Hotlips?"

"Go with Hot Lips. I know Ei likes them." Nearby, Ei nearly lost his balance as he sneezed.

"You're both lucky I turned off friendly fire in this thing!"

"Hot Lips. Forty percent munitions for the MARAUDER. Down to sixty percent for the Typhoon. All other weapons are one hundred percent."

"Is it just me, or are they hightailing?" A massive clawed arm pointed out several spots where things had suddenly thinned out.

"Oh shit. Incoming artillery!" Skorpion switched to broadcast over all channels. "Everyone scatter and take cover, incoming artillery!

"I see it!" D4N1 shouted, bringing the M-61 to bear. She didn't have the same programs for intercept as Barrage did, but she could still sight targets in optically. Unlike Barrage she also lacked the Armor Piercing High Explosive-Tracer(Self Destruct.) Someone downrange was going to have a very bad day and/or going to have to explain to their insurance provider why their car or home was riddled with Depleted Uranium rounds.

"HotLips" brought her own Gatling up to match, taking aim and readying the systems.

The Beast sprouted small cannons from various points, spewing munitions skywards as it veered for the cover of the nearest aircraft shelter.

"I really hope someone... is tracking their arty... Make our jobs... easier..."

"I've got airborne tracking up." Skorpion assured her. "Trying to intercept it, too. Mind out, fuzzbutt, there's a clump headed right for you."

"Hot Lips" didn't say much, she was too focused on sidestepping and taking out as much artillery as possible.

"Right arm, fifty percent." D4N1 called out, training the Vulcan on the next wave. A few rounds had fallen around her, the shock effect being the only thing to hit her. She cringed, or what could be considered cringing for an AI, upon sighting a round that seemed to be coming at her face. At least it would have had a missile not intercepted it. D4N1 followed additional contrails, spotting one of the Hammehreads launching missiles skywards. It had a pair of Vulcan cannons in hand.

"Skorp, we've got cover. Not sure of his name, but I think one of the Hammerheads just advanced to cover us."

"Tell him to watch out; we've got our own system running, and I'd hate for him to run into it or flag as a threat. He might get his paint scratched." Skorpion advised, as more sprays of munitions rose up from various armoured vehicles. "Hopefully it's not another fake-out."

"Press the advantage while we can. It's only a matter of time before that guy switches to Vulcans."

"Wish I had a line of sight on the jerks. Have a little thing up my sleeves." "Hotlips took out the last few shells in the air at the moment, but kept her eyes peeled for anything else inbound.

"Skorp, any fire finder radar you got, fire it up. There are going to be Marine guns setting up and a Zumwalt class Destroyer off shore. Call in the guns as you can." D4N1 suggested.

"Got some of my own in range too; 155s, some fast-movers, maybe a big microwave beam if we feel the need to make an acre of popcorn. Also, this is rocketry; hard to locate it from backtracing the trajectory, and the bloody things keep moving once they've fired. I've got a fairly good idea from the traffic reports, though; a bunch of disruptions in a pattern just the right distance from here. I'll get a drone on it, and divert a motorised cavalry unit onto them.

"Best bet. Now, can we continue our advance? I counted twenty contrails from that Hammerhead." D4N1 paused. "Make that twenty one. He's got two, 16 cell RAM pods. We need to move. Now."

"Oh, the point defences should handle the rest. And I'm pretty sure we've got a couple of Tunguskas here." Skorpion remarked as he accelerated out of the base, ramping over the barriers with one of the bridges left behind by Machariah's forces. "Assault force, charge. Cleanup, take cover and stay down. Cavalry, FIND THAT GODDAMN ARTILLERY AND SHUT IT DOWN! We have authority to make the 'Muricans foot the collateral damage bill this time, so just disable and run. Run FAST, you KNOW what they're like. D4N1, Wanwan, Fluffy? Race you."

"Better than being sitting ducks. Lexi, Hot Lips, keep up!" D4N1 called out before boosting; once to clear the hangar area, twice to clear the HESCO barriers.

The mech controlled by "HotLips" managed to jump the lot of them in one bound. When she landed, there was a sizeable crater at the impact point.

Meanwhile, Alexis started running, using her thrusters to occasionally hop and close distance until she had caught up to the other mechs.

"And that is probably why that design was passed over." D4N1 said as she passed Shiori's crater. "Because it's easier to make more than one jump than it is to climb out of a hole."

"Pfft, climb?" The mech simply lightly bounced out of the hole (for a mech) and kept pace with D4N1 easily.

"Cap's been awfully quiet today. He's going to need to unwind when we get back." the AI said. "Like... hardcore..."

"Believe me...I know." The tone of voice alone was enough for D4N1 to get how much "Hotlips" understood.

"Bed him if you have to. He's not an AI, no matter how much of his brain is computer."

THAT made the mystery mech stumble a few paces, and sputtering was heard over the feed.

"Pretty effective method of getting your way." Alexis admitted with a smirk, happy that for once she wasn't the one being teased.

"Can we not fail the Bechdel Test and focus on the enemy, please?" The stumbling ceased, and the mystery mech caught up with the group (and slightly passed them) in a matter of seconds.

"Fiiiine." Alexis conceded, bouding forward with another leap.

"A reminder, Hot Lips. I've been in his head. The things he thinks..." D4N1 said, a hint of evil tinged her voice.

"Nuh uh, no talking about the-"

"Chorizo." D4N1 interjected.

"I said no talking about the- wait, what?"

"Cap is Japanese Hispanic. Chorizo is Mexican sausage." D4N1 paused to plow through a set of power lines. "Cap has Chorizo in his pants."

For some odd reason, the speaker system shut off from the mystery mech.

"See, Pupper? It's easy to get under her skin when you know what scalpel to use." she said to Lexi.

"TMI, Dan." Alexis said, not wanting that image in her head. As if on cue Careless Whisper began to play over the radio.Specifically the saxophone part.

"HotLips" Gatling revved up, as though to drown out the song.

"Alright, fine..." A record needle scratch and Careless Whisper was replaced with Gay Bar.

"I should go to one of those. Not because I'm gay, but because I fell like it'd be an adventure." Alexis thought aloud.

"I could recommend a few from Cap's memories. Only problem is they're either in Dallas or in Houston, which necessitates a trip to Texas." D4N1 offered.

"Oh, ho ho! Nope. No Americas for this escaped science project, nuh-uh." Alexis noped.

"So noted. All the same I can't fit into the front door anywhere." A beat. "LIKE YOUR MOM!!!"

Moments later, a blood-spattered Tiffaney landed on D4N1's chassis. "Need me for something?" She asked, looking down to the mecha with her eyebrows raised in curiosity.

"Pupper, this your mom, I take it? Never seen a 'yo momma' joke summon a mom before."

"Yes, that's my mom." Alexis informed as though there were an inherent likeness between the two.

"Pupper?" Tiffaney questioned as she took a seat.

"She's too smol to be doggo and has pupper ears. Therefore, she is Pupper."

"Pupper sounds like something you'd nickname a kid." Tiffaney said as she crossed her legs. "Thanks for the ride by the way." D4N1 trained the Typhoon Weapons System to get a look at Tiffaney.

"I don't advise staying there once I start taking fire, again. Firestorm doesn't discriminate." she cautioned.

"That's fair." Tiffaney conceded. "Maybe I could sit inside?" She asked, mostly as a joke.

"I told your daughter in a rather crude fashion a while back no. I have to tell you the same, I'm afraid." she replied, referring to the slaughter a good while back. "Besides, I don't think you'd be too comfortable in there."

"Also fair." Tiffaney said before standing up. "Sorry if I made you uncomfortable." She apologized before backflipping off her and whistling, Auger catching her a couple dozen feet off the ground before running alongside the mechs.

The mystery mech's speaker blared back on. "Wonder if we're gonna be noticeable" "HotLips" mused aloud.

"Oh, good, she's back. For a second there I thought the mental image of Cap's-"

"NOT LISTENING!!!"

"Ahh~ To be young." The functionally young Tiffaney mused.

"I wouldn't know. By all means I'm ageless, even if this body is seventy years old. I'm more like... Twelve."

"Only seventy in computer years."

"This shell is. Ask Anie when you get a chance. She'll tell you its history." D4N1 suggested. "I don't even know half of the story behind it."

"Okay, that's total bullshit." Skorpion pointed out. "No way in hell are you older than me." He paused, his eyebrows almost audible as they furrowed. "Okay, bad example, I'm only about six years old. Or forty if you count identity. Then there's the whole overwritten identity thing. Anyway! Back to my point. We didn't even have COMPUTERS 70 years ago, let alone AIs. Are you trying to tell us you used to reside in a system made of solenoids and vacuum tubes? Also, hello dear."

"Hello!" Tiffaney waved.

"It's hard to explain. I never asked about this body. All I know is I wasn't. Then I was." she tried to explain. "The... what did she call them... The guys involved in... Project Mesozoic, they know more about this machine."

"So, dinosaur nerds named everything in your project?" Skorpion snarked.

"Look, I could give you the 'Barney Explanation' but they don't make a Barney the Dinosaur suit in my size. And yet, they make one in Top Khukov's size."

"Fine, I'll add them to my list of people to interrogate. Maybe we can start a super-soldier support group while we're at it?"

"Honestly, that might be more needed than you joke about."

"No shit. PTSD is a very real problem that's only now coming to the forefront, especially among OEF/OIF veterans." D4N1 pointed out. "Unfortunately there is a stigma among the afflicted about getting help."

"On a side note, I didn't know they made soap boxes in Lancer size."

"Only partly joking; time was, it was just me. Then more have started coming out of the woodwork, until now I seem to be collecting them."

"One big, taped together family." Alexis chimed in.

"Stick to Transformers. At least those have high resale value on the secondary market, even if just for parts."

"I only ever wanted to collect old prototypes and patents. No offence, Lexi, but I never intended to start a collection of super-soldiers. It just sort of happened, and I couldn't leave your family on their own."

"And I never intended to be a collector's item." Alexis snarked.

There was a sound of static over the radio for a moment. "That happened. And we let it happen." D4N1 said, in Peter Griffin's voice. "That as- Hang on, I have to switch back..." More static. "Okay, check test, check test... Never had family before now?"

"I woke up in a lab about 40 years ago with no memories, so not really. Oh, and I woke up in a lab about 6 years ago with a bunch of memories, but there was still nobody around. No killing spree that time, though, because it was my own lab."

"I'd love to discuss particulars but we need to face facts: if we stay here, then we're dead." D4N1 pointed out.

"I can talk and drive at the same time. And, in fact, I am doing so." Skorpion replied. "If anything, you're slowing us down."

"Legs, not wheels. We're not Wanzers or MS-09 Doms. I may as well fly my geek flag but that would take too long to explain at this very moment."

"So, backup camera AND wheels for the next upgrade. Noted." Skorpion mused. "Shall we just skip ahead to the part where we arrive?"

---

"Carrier Command, this is Juliet Two November." Ryker called out over his radio. His platoon had secured the PX as a temporary Command Post.

"Go ahead, Juliet Two November."

"Hostile forces are vacating the Air base. We're consolidating our gains and reestablishing control of the area." he reported, looking out the lobby doors. Three of the flying Lancers SDI had with them, the Archers, had touched down and deployed their howitzers. They were aimed in the direction the supporting forces were going. One of the other AI controlled Lancers, the one he was told had been named [Jack]Hammerhead, was covering them with Vulcan cannons. A resupply unit was inbound from Atsugi with replacement RAM launchers for it.

"Carrier command copies. Can you proceed, if at all possible?" Ryker looked back out the lobby doors. He could see a few familiar Lancers and IFVs go past. They had been fighting the defense long before Ryker and his Marines arrived. They had to be going to the Forward Line of Enemy Troops.

"Once second platoon relieves us we'll proceed forward. Out." Ryker took his helmet off and stretched, feeling something pop. "I really wish I could be on the FEBA right now... Guess someone's gotta be the REMF..."

---

"Remember, lads; Loot first, then pillage. Got that?"

"Yessir!" Came the reply, followed by the sound of running feet and starting engines. The FGTL Combat Recovery team had mobilised...

---

Summary
-Initial contact is very heavy.
-Lots of fire traded back and forth, people dead or dying, general chaos.
-Bradley Fighting Vehicles tied up with enemy forces.
-Impromptu rescue mission.
-IT'S LASER TIME!
-People pop like overcooked Hot Pockets when hit with lasers.
-Gunny and Goleb post on a wounded MP.
-Needs a new body.
-Cover fire and call for CASEVAC.
-Armor still tied up, but they're closer, now.
-Suddenly, Pierce takes a bullet!
-And a militiaman tries to flank them!
-Suddenly, MORE CARBINES! Not really, they're just similar models.
-Mac is in hell. That's for another time.
-Squad falling back to secondary Line of Defense under supporting arty fire.
-Five Rounds Rapid.
-CASEVAC Found. Casualty and three grunts withdrawn in the platoon Stryker.
-Hold position with enemies incoming.

-Meanwhile, in the Navy, General Quarters and Flight Ops.
-Muh-Reens can fly.
-What can't fly is put ashore.
-My Ass Rides in Navy Equipment.
-Landing Zones change due to enemy Air Defense.

-Marines touch down and establish an LZ.
-Baseball field ruined.
-Marines move up to take the original LZ.
-And almost shoot a random in the process.

-The platoon Heavies have stalemated the enemy, while their own ammo dwindles.
-Call for fire support from USS Michael Monsoor.
-Monsoor is in receipt of Indigo Tasking, launching T-Hawk.
-Fanatics press on and die by the bushel.
-New tasking for the Heavies: loader and carrier, respectively.

-Brigadier Rosoft wishes he could be out there, helping his people.
-Still no idea who is attacking the base.
-Marines have taken their original LZ.
-Another fighter lost. Time to cue up Grid Square Removal Service.
-Don't bomb me, bro!
-Communication between Rosoft and Skorp.
-Reinforcements inbound.

-Luc is taking care of the SAM batteries.

-Largoists, heavy an Army CaptainMajor, his girlfiend, and a Walking Extinction Level Event mobilize.
-Largoists breach the HESCO barriers, erecting assault bridges and ramps.
-D4N1 teaches Lexi how to 'bounce.'
-D4N1 explains why moving to live is important to Lexi and takes a missile for her.
-Cue the MARAUDER. It's a Plasma Railgun. It also melts tanks.
-D4N1 beckons the enemy to come.

-8th Cavalry arrives at the Air Base, Hammerheads in tow.
-Marines are mated to their vehicles and begin racing out
-There's an Army Stryker and three grunts with them.

-28th AI prepares for last stand, infantry fixing bayonets.
-Suddenly... MUSEUM PIECE!
-A Museum Piece that wipes the floor with the newfangled stuff too.
-Reinforcements arrive. 28th AI begins to withdraw to resupply.
-US Forces take and hold ground, leaving the advance to the Largoists.
-HotLips shows off her bounding technique.
-28th AI begins to withdraw, loading up into their Bradleys as reinforcements arrive. Including a machine they thought was "dead."
-Super Cobra and Apache Longbows join the fight, unencumbered by SAMs.
-Hammerheads enter the fray, [Claw] enthusiastically tearing into tanks.
-D4N1 and Lexi take care of their own targets.
-Suddenly, D4N1 turns her weapon on Lexi! OH TEH NOES!
-Nah, she was being flanked.
-Shiori checks in on D4N1 and Lexi. Both are good.
-Also, Lexi is now Pupper. Pupper hates being Pupper.

-Internal monologue with Ei.
-Double tapping bad guys. Except kill number 7. He takes a couple bullets.
-Ei spots some of his squadmates. Can't say 'hi,' has to stay "dead."
-Ransack the dead.
-Moving forward again.

-Skorp kicks ass and takes names.
-Reports from Strider.
-Check in from Wanwan.
-Skorp wants his tanks intact.
-Shiori's crushed a few and D4N1's melted others.
-Also, Wanwan is Pupper to D4N1, cuz pupper ears.
-Skorp wants his tanks intact.
-Shiori crushes one. Lexi's blown up a few. D4N1's melted a bunch.
-Lexi bemoans her nickname. All the good ones were taken.
-D4N1 would pay to see Skorp wrestle a tank turret from a Hammerhead.
-Skorp regrets not taking Hellfires.
-Skorp calls for a sign. D4N1 suggest the Highway of Death. Lexi sends up a flare instead.
-Skorp thinks this may be a diversion.
-D4N1 wants to walk rocket arty from Yokota to clear a path. Bad AI, no cookie for you.
-Some incredibly bizarre ass one liners ensue.
-Shiori thinks everyone is weird.

-Brief histoy lesson. Also insight into Land Warrior.
-Skorp still thinks it's a diversion and a lead up to more rocket arty.
-Debate on what to call Shiori, since she's supposed to be "dead."

-Suddenly... ROCKET ATTACK!
-Orders to scatter.
-Point Defense weapons come out to bear.
-[Jack]Hammerhead advances to cover them, shooting rockets down with missiles.
-D4N1 suggest pressing the advantage and talking to Marine guns and the Michael Monsoor.
-Skorp has his own tubes getting ready.

-D4N1 and Lexi 'bounce' to clear terrain.
-She shows off. D4N1 chides her for it.
-D4N1 points out how quiet Ei's been. Shiori knows.
-The AI uses sexy banter.
-It was super effective!
-Shiori attempts to counter. D4N1 parries with Chorizo.
-It's even more super effective! Lexi thinks it's extra.
-Brief conversation about gay bars.
-Lexi doesn't want to go to America.
-D4N1 goes there with a yo momma joke. She summons Tiffaney instead.
-D4N1 explains why she calls Lexi Pupper.
-Tiff asks to sit inside. D4N1 politely rejects her.
-Shiori rejoins the convo, D4N1 asking what she was thinking.
-SHIORI IS NOT LISTENING!!!
-Tiff reminisces about being young.
-D4N1 says she's maybe twelve in a seventy year old body. Skorp calls BS.
-Discussion about Skorp and D4N1's programs.
-Talk of PTSD and Skorp collecting prototypes.
-Skorp has a family because of it now.
-More back and forth and plans for the final assault.
-Also upgrades for later.

-The Base starts its recovery, and their own plan of attack.

-Macariah, your time is up.

-Loot first, THEN pillage.
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