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The Storm Is Set To Rise

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Arella

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Posts: 129

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:49 pm

Location: Ontario, Canada

Post Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:21 pm

The Storm Is Set To Rise

*Intro partially stolen from the BozoCat and DarkTan.

Megatokyo, The Clans

Megatokyo, the Clans is what happens when you take the city portrayed in the MegaTokyo comic, make all the main characters gods, and give control of the city to their worshippers. Of course, you also have to add in a certain smattering of evil corporations battling for world domination, alien conspiracies, zombie rampages, holy and unholy interventions, and general popular culture and anime influenced zaniness.

There are two important resources for getting oriented to the world of Megatokyo, the Clans.

1. Megatokyo Clans Wiki. This is a world-editable archive of as many characters, groups, plots, places, items, and more. In short, it aims to be a complete reference to the game. How complete it is depends on how much stuff the players add. Go players! Add stuff!

2. The Megatokyo Clans IRC channel. This is the best way to get yourself up-to-speed in an active, real-time manner where you can communicate with players in real time. irc.irchighway.net is the server, and the channel is rpgclans. Don't be frightened by the outlandish and sometimes frightening topics that sometimes are posted there. We're all nice people. Mostly nice people. People who aren't nice to new players will be hit in the head with a bright green duck.

Prohibition

This new setting will not rely on the comic as much as previous plotlines have. It will not be as grandiose as previous stories.

Summary:
Shortly after the Megatokyo Demon Invasion, Megatokyo passed a law banning certain types of anime and manga. At its core, the law was targeted at the more violent hentai productions; however, some government-employed legal hack saw the potential it had, and worded it vaguely enough that any "violent" or "adult themed" material could be targeted. A large otaku demonstration protesting the new law was met with riot gear, tear gas, and rubber bullets. Things quickly went downhill from there as more and more "violent" and "suggestive" manga and anime were pulled from the shelves, until the final blow was struck with Megatokyo's signing of the "Wasteful Materials Prohibition Act," effectively banning all anime, manga, and video games. The Big Three relocated within the six months before the law went into effect, as well as the larger of the anime production companies; those who could not afford to relocate closed their doors. Many of them, however, went underground and continued to produce.

Though the local law enforcement did not consider the factionists an active threat, the city's large population of super powered individuals gave the police enough of a pause that it kept them from really enforcing the law. Thus, the task fell to the Tokyo Police: Cataclysm Division. Research began in earnest to find ways to neutralize the perceived threat. This effort lead to the invention of the Anime Nullification Field Generator, or ANFG. Preliminary testing showed great success, and they began to research the possibilities of mass producing the devices. An overzealous Inspector Sonoda seized this moment to finally rid his city of the factionists who had plagued them with meaningless skirmishes, fractures in reality, demon invasions, and hellish mutations of culinary madness.

Although not completely successful in removing them, Sonoda was able to keep the factions under control. There were, however, three major thorns in his side:

1. Erika Multinational, the largest corporation the city had ever seen, and owner of the patents for the ANFGs. They are, by and large, uninvolved in the situation, so Sonada gives them their space.

2. Followers of Great Teacher Largo (FGTL), the one faction that is almost 100% weapons based and has enough fire power to take on the whole country, or so the reports lead one to believe. They are also now a sovereign nation, by way of Skorpion buying up the Principality of Sealand, granting them a certain amount of diplomatic immunity.

3. The last and strangest of all was one man: DarkTan Canto. He had become an international icon by way of a tentacle monster on the "Oprah" show. Sonoda didn't dare overtly move against him, for fear of a massive public and international outcry. Just how much longer this can last, however, remains to be seen.

Currently, anime and manga are still being moved underground. The two largest movers of anime and manga are the FGTL and the Order of the Rent-a-Zilla (ORAZ).

Leadership:
The TPCD is lead by Inspector Sonoda. However, as of late he has taken a turn to the darker side. He does this to protect his city, of course. In his mind, the factions have caused no end of trouble for his city, and he has particular animosity towards those who follow Largo and Piro, those two being the original source of his problems.

Anime Nullification Field Generators:
These devices were created to reverse or block the effects of the Laws of Anime, and Magic. There are three different versions of the generators.

First Generation: The first generation ANFGs were large devices that required a building to house them and a tower to project the field. They are not unlike radio towers in appearance or operation. They are heavily guarded with Patlabors, ground troops, and anti-aircraft gun emplacements. These are the most common generators in the city, and they are used to cover the more "high class" areas.

Second Generation: The second generation ANFGs were smaller in size, and use a parabolic antenna. This allows for great range, but only in a straight line. These are used to cordon off certain areas (the Hollows and areas around ORAZ's properties, for example). They can also be used to target a single individual up to 5000m away. Rumor has it that they are mounted on the peak of Tokyo Tower.

Third Generation: These are the smallest of the three; small enough that a mech can carry one with little difficulty. They also have the same range as the tower-based First Gens. These are deployed to combat situations and areas that the Towers do not cover. There are no less than four stationed outside Tokyo Tower and the Cataclysm Division at all times.

There is ongoing research into smaller, highly portable devices that would operate similar to tasers. Such work has just begun field testing, but the devices are fragile, have limited charge, and varied effects. They also have varied designs.

Modified Rules:
One of the most important things to remember is that you are fighting the LAW. Killing cops or government officials will bring that LAW down on your head. Escalate it, and the military will become involved. Nothing you have can stand up against the weight of the CD, Japanese Defense Force, and the United States Armed Forces. Period.

There is a delicate balance of power between the remaining factions and the police, much like real world organized crime. Upset the balance and expect to face the wrath of both sides.

The TPCD, TPD, JDF, and US Forces are NOT NPC cannon fodder. These are soldiers who outnumber you and frequently outgun you.

Rules

1. Be civil to other authors!

2. Characters (and to a lesser extent factions, locations, and gear) belong to their authors. Please be courteous with your use of other people's characters, and remember that sometimes people have abilities and effects on their character that you don't know about. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES CAN YOU KILL ANOTHER PERSON'S CHARACTER WITHOUT THEIR EXPRESS PERMISSION.

3. NO GODMODDING. You cannot write for someone else's character without their express permission, and your characters are not invincible.

4. Have good spelling and grammar. You should ALWAYS read over a post before submitting it.

5. Keep it tasteful. Unnecessary and excessive swearing should be avoided (this doesn't mean your character cannot swear, but every other word coming out of their mouth shouldn't be a curse either), and while mature subject matter is not forbidden, let's keep it tasteful. If there is some mature subject matter in your post, please include the appropriate warnings at the beginning.

6. No double-posting. Let someone else have a turn!

Formatting

Please read the Style Guide posted under Rules and Regulations!

New Players

Welcome! Please check out the threads under Rules and Regulations before joining the game.

In general, I try to keep myself available for new players at all times. Other senior authors are also good resources, as well as faction leaders.

Many posts are written in realtime in IRC, or semi-realtime on our very own pad (thanks DT!).

This Thread

Prohibition is still in full effect, while the tensions between humans and meta-humans continue to rise to a rather alarming degree. A dark figure has been causing havoc throughout the city, and may have something to do with celebrity-chef DarkTan Canto, while a new mercenary from Skorpion's past has arrived in town to hunt down escaped super-soldiers and endanger the people he cares about. Certain American forces and their mechs may no longer be seeing certain things eye-to-eye with Japan, and we can likely expect some fallout from the FGTLs raid on a SHIELD helicarrier.

Timeline: Begins in September, a little over five years after the Demon Invasion.

Hard-Canon: The events in this thread have definitely happened, and in more-or-less the same order they were posted in. Expect events of world-shattering importance, massive character revelations, and just an all-around epic series of events. TIMESTAMP AND LOCATION TAGS ARE ABSOLUTELY REQUIRED AT THE BEGINNING OF EVERY POST - we need to know where your characters are, and when.

Note: The current soft-canon thread will remain open for another month or so, so folks can finish up their current posts and get them up. Don't feel like you have to rush.
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Arella

User avatar

Posts: 129

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:49 pm

Location: Ontario, Canada

Post Fri Mar 18, 2016 10:23 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

I May Fall
But not like this, it won't be by your hand.

Location: a Megatokyo alleyway, and FGTL HQ.
Timestamp: September 4, beginning around 11:30pm; ends in the early hours of the next morning.
Authors: Arella, Skorpy, DarkTan, O-Ring

She felt it when it happened, of course. Even amidst the adrenaline of battle (especially one in close quarters), the blade was not only sharp, but almost definitely serrated, and it hurt. There just wasn't time to worry about it then.

Her reaction times were slowing - no doubt a sign of that lack of sleep thing everyone kept getting after her about, though she wasn't about to admit it. The idiot with the knife or whatever it was should have been easy to dodge, but instead she hadn't even realized he was there, sneaking up behind her, until she felt the white hot pain of the blade slicing into her flesh.

Stupid. That had been a stupid mistake, especially for her. How often was she reminding the girls to be aware of their surroundings, to never let anyone sneak up behind them... Stupid.

There was no one watching, either. With all the fuss people had been making about her needing to get more sleep, she hadn't told Kor she was going out tonight, hadn't brought Kat along, hadn't joined up with Luc or any of the girls. She was alone, and now that the fight was over, her opponents having either fled or been rendered unconscious, she was realizing just how much the wound in her gut hurt.

Oh... was Arella's only thought, before stumbling and reaching out a hand too slowly to actually prevent her from crashing into the brick wall beside her. Rather roughtly sliding down it to rest on the pavement beneath, she remembered another problem with being stabbed, especially when the blade had been removed.

She was losing rather a lot of blood. Quickly. And it was making her dizzy.

A tiny, traitorous little voice in the back of her head was just beginning to wonder if this might not be a good time to start, y'know, worrying, when a familiarly large shadow loomed in the entrance of the alley. A breath of relief left her, and she did her best to offer the shadow's owner a smile.

"So, are you actually developing the sixth sense of a parent, or have you been tagging me to monitor my vitals and stuff again?" Raven snarked, albeit a bit weakly, before adding a much more sincere, "Thanks, Dad."

"Parent? Oh, no." The figure stepped closer, drawing a long polearm. "Arella Silverstone. Age 24. Parents deceased. Two adoptive parents, unrelated. Declared missing six years ago." The figure moved closer, silhouetted against the street lights at the end of the alleyway, revealing a nearly-bald head traced with scar tissue. "Teacher at the Cute Magical Girls of Yuki-sama Academy. Previously barmaid at an unnamed bar. Prior to that, barmaid at Lackey's, which then burned down. Prior, waitress at Piscary's." He paused for breath, prodding her with the butt of his polearm. "Stab wound to abdomen from improperly sharpened blade, despite combat training." He paused again, leaning down to look closely at her. "Raspberry body spray. Black underwear. Lace patterned. Gift from a Lucius Ogilvy, headteacher of the same academy. Gear acquired from... Followers of Great Teacher Largo. Interesting."

For a moment, Arella simply gaped up at him in surprise; she'd never known anyone to recite facts like that except Skorp, and he would certainly never have included anything about her underwear, and how the hell did this guy know what underthings she was wearing, anyway. Every one of her instincts was screaming DANGER at her, but she couldn't quite seem to focus enough on the incredibly creepy and unsettling stranger to figure out why - she just knew that she hurt, and that this wasn't someone she wanted to find her like this, and...

A whimper of pain escaped her before she could stop it.

"He will come for you. When he does, tell him I am here for him. I am here, and I will kill him." He turned the polearm around, stabbing the blade through Arella's thigh, missing the bone and arteries but still causing significant blood loss - and earning a scream of pain for his trouble, the first she'd uttered all night. "This will ensure you remember." He removed the blade from Arella and turned away. "Him, and all the other 'experiments' he protects. Perhaps your boyfriend as well, if he proves to be good sport."

Arella couldn't catch her breath for a moment - the pain was so all-consuming there just wasn't room for anything else. He was threatening people she cared about, she had to protect them, but it hurt so much, and she couldn't breathe, and oh God she was seeing spots, she was going to pass out, and she was alone in an alley with a maniac, and she didn't want to die like this!

Machariah grinned over his shoulder at her as he left the alleyway; it wasn't a grin with much warmth to it. More the grin of a predator leaving a wounded animal as bait.

---

Skorpion stopped dead, midway through moving a container of rocket fuel. "Arella, I thought you were BETTER than that!" He dropped the container, gaining a *clang* as it bounced off the floor by a corner, mist starting to leak out of the side as he ran for the door, grabbing his coat on the way out. The Largoists outside moved aside, one not quite moving fast enough and being barged aside.

"Hey! Boss, you said you weren't gonna do that no more!"

"Emergency!" Skorpion explained, pounding down the corridor at a dead run. "It's Arella! She's hurt and she's down!"

The troopers looked to each other, before running after Skorpion.

---

"Is crew three. State nature of medical emergency?" Ivan rattled off as the radio chirped.

"Arella is down. Coordinates on the system. Priority is absolute, repeat, absolute." The radio operator stated, emotion starting to leak into his voice. "You have approximately half an hour to stabilise."

The helicopter swung sharply, nearly tipping Rekko out the open door as he kept hold of his lunch. His drink, however, was not so lucky, dropping to fall onto some unsuspecting pedestrian below. "Ivan, what the HELL? We being shot at again?"

"Negative! Fallen magic girl!"

Rekko swore, starting to attach himself to the winch. "Close by?"

"Close enough. Screw winch, no time. Jump instead."

Rekko sighed, detaching himself and double-checking his chute. "Tell me when we're close."

---

Skorpion drove hard; overtaking traffic, splitting lanes, running through red lights, even eschewing his usual trips through buildings in favour of pushing the Beast to its limit. The speed climbed, the troops in the back clinging to the handles set into the floor and ceiling for stability as the vehicle rode over kerbs, traffic, and street furniture.

---

Rekko dropped heavily into the alleyway, releasing his chute before it snagged on the fire escapes, and sliding to a halt next to the fallen magical girl. "Okay, okay, I'm here, help's arrived." He started unpacking his medical kit, setting up the light so see what he was doing. As he looked back to Arella, his eyes widened in shock. "<Oh crap.>" He shook himself out of his shock, working faster to apply dressings and a jet injector. "We'll have you fixed up in no time..."

"Dad?" was Arella's concerningly weak request. She was still conscious enough to know Rekko wasn't Skorp, of course - she just wasn't so conscious that she could manage a proper sentence at the moment. Also, talking hurt. As did the hands applying dressings.

Everything hurt, really, and she let the world know with a weak cry of pain as the spots began to overtake her vision again, and darkness began creeping in.

"He's coming. Stay awake, he'll want to see you." Rekko sliced away the front of her Raven costume, peeling the fabric away with a pair of medical scissors - and if it hadn't already been clear her injuries were serious, the fact that she didn't object to this would have proved it, especially since she didn't wear a bra with her Raven costume. Apparently, stab wounds trumped modesty, even for a magical girl like Arella. The blades glowed blue as they sliced through the armoured fabric, allowing him to peel it away from her wound to apply a dressing. "Stay with me, Ella, okay? What were you doing out here on your own?"

Arella tried to give a responding shrug, not wanting to admit aloud that she'd been out working when everyone kept telling her to get some sleep instead - of course, shrugging proved painful as well, causing her to abruptly abandon the gesture, whimpering in pain. She also kept blinking in a desperate attempt to clear away the spots and encroaching darkness, though of course it wasn't really working.

"Talk to me, Ella. Stay awake, and talk to me." Rekko applied pressure to the wound that went right through her thigh, leaning on it as he started to bind it. "Two blades. This one was way bigger and sharper. Who was it?" Come on, damn it, you'd better get here soon.

"Dunno," she admitted, barely above a whisper. Was it cold? She felt cold. And tired. The darkness was calling for her with promises of sweet oblivion, and she really, really wanted to answer.

Rekko sighed, twisting the dressing slightly, wincing as he felt the magical girl tense up under him and heard her responding scream. "Stay WITH me, damn you. Skorpion is coming, and if you just stay awake, the nanites already in you will do their thing."

Arella began to cry silent tears without even realizing it, pain and fear and a frustration over not being allowed to escape either drowning out everything else.

"There. Much better. Now, tell me what happened to you, Ella, and I'll allow you some painkillers." Rekko rolled his eyes; he didn't LIKE having to hurt people in the name of first aid. "I'd give you sugar, but unlike Lexi, that might kill you. And then Skorpion would probably kill ME, if Lexi didn't do it first."

Of course, now that she was a bit more conscious, the magical girl was also rather suddenly remembering the danger to her friends and family, which made her rather panicky. "Is he gone?" she abruptly had to know, the urgency in her voice impossible to ignore. "You have to make sure he's gone, he's gonna hurt Skorp." And then another thought occurred to her. "Where's Lexi? Is she safe? You can't let her come out here!"

"Whoa whoa." Rekko sighed softly. "One thing at once, and Lexi's safe back at HQ. Who? Who'll hurt Skorpion?" And, seriously, who COULD?

"I don't know, but he said he was gonna kill him, and then he stabbed me to make sure I'd remember to tell him, and you have to make sure he's gone!" Oh yeah, she was definitely panicking now - she was even attempting to get up, in spite of being utterly incapable of it, the need to protect others rather overriding her own sense of self-preservation.

Rekko reached over, pushing her back down again. "Stay still. Skorpion will be fine. I've seen him face down dinosaurs and come out unharmed."

"Who's gone?" Skorpion asked from the mouth of the alley, quickly moving over to kneel beside Arella, taking her hand. "Who hurt you?"

But now that Skorp was there, Arella was finally succumbing to a proper cry and just sobbing her little heart out. Which also hurt. A lot. And sent enough blood rushing from her knife wound that it began to seep right through the dressing Rekko had applied, and she was suddenly seeing spots again.

Rekko sighed, changing dressings quickly, catching a spray to the face between applying pressure with the second dressing. "Skorpion! Get her with the injector again, and apply pressure here yourself."

Skorpion nodded, doing as the medic demanded, emptying the injector into the magical girl as he squeezed her wound closed.

Rekko, his hands free, turned to work on attaching a drip to Arella, sliding a needle into her arm to feed fluids through. It should have earned a complaint - she hated IVs, they reminded her of her time in the hospital after her parents died - but instead she barely even seemed to notice."You, back there! Don't just stand there, get a stretcher! You, find a landing zone for my chopper. And you!" Rekko squinted at the trooper, who promptly rolled his sleeve up to display his blood type tattooed on his bicep, along with his name. "Good. You'll do for a match. Down here, slide this into your arm, keep the bag up."

The trooper nodded as he was handed a needle, sliding it into his arm and wincing as the bag attached to it started to fill. "If it'll help her..."

The other troopers scattered to their assigned tasks, the helicopter dropping low over the street, winch dangling from above the door.

Gasping for breath between the sobs she couldn't seem to stop (when had she last slept, anyway?), Arella just barely managed to get out a question of her own. "Can I pass out now?" she more than somewhat begged.

"Later. When you're stable." Rekko stated, tuning a tablet into the medical sensors in her outfit. "Your pressure's still low, and you're going to be very short of breath for a while. You can, however, be moved now. Skorpion?"

Skorpion nodded, scooping Arella up to set her onto the stretcher, another trooper moving to take hold of Arella's drip bag as Rekko started to wheel the stretcher out.

"Just a short trip in the chopper, then we can get you inside." Rekko stroked Arella's forehead gently as his other hand started to hook cables onto the sides of the stretcher, troopers taking over the pushing as he did so. "Got to get you up there first, though, so bear with me." He smiled. "Rawwr."

Arella somehow managed to both snort and choke on a sob at the same time - that had been terrible. It apparently served to stop the sobbing, though. "I'm tired," the magical girl admitted, for the first time in a long while.

"No wonder. You haven't slept in HOW long?" Rekko sighed. "I can smell the fatigue in the blood you sprayed me with. Don't make me tell Tiffaney to prescribe you with sleeping pills. Although, you'd have to give up the alcohol as well. And some of that sugar." He hooked the stretcher to the winch as it descended from the helicopter above, taking hold himself to steady her as they started to rise up.

"No sleeping pills," she protested rather weakly, her eyelids growing very heavy; it was hard to keep them open, but she did try. "They make me see things."

"That's called dreams. Now, stay with me, Ella. You have enough in you for sugar, so don't make me give you what I took off the magical girls I treated earlier." Rekko admonished as he hauled them into the helicopter, clamping the stretcher into place before hammering on the wall with his fist. The chopper lurched, swinging them around for the trip back to HQ.

"They make me see things while still awake," Arella corrected in a murmur. She really was doing her best to stay awake - it was just hard, especially when she still hurt.

"Then you need to get more sleep the natural way. Hot chocolate before bed, whipped cream on top, and maybe some marshmallow chunks. After that, at least five hours of sleep at once." He sighed softly, replacing her drip bag with the one he'd taken from the trooper. "This should help you stay awake, though. Nice and fresh, full of sugars, and hopefully not too much b33r."

Arella giggled; exhaustion, blood loss, and trauma were taking their toll, if that hadn't been obvious already. She was starting to feel a bit loopy. And still tired.

"Skorp?" the magical girl tried, not even sure if he was still there or not.

"He'll meet us later. Too heavy to fly with us, and speed is of the essence. Although..." Rekko looked out the side of the chopper, chuckling softly. "He's following well enough. You can see the trail of destruction behind him."

"Oh. Will you make sure he calls Luc and Kat?" she softly requested.

Rekko nodded. "If he hasn't already, yes. Now, we've got a bed set up for you, and you're going to be just fine soon enough. We've even got a few of your favourite plushies from your room, to keep you company." He chuckled softly. After they've been sterilised and disinfected, at least.

"And somebody needs to pick up Ash," Arella added, because of course her kitty should be with her.

"No animals, but we can move her to HQ for when you're better again." Rekko paused, smirking. "Of course, by THAT logic, we probably shouldn't let your boyfriend in either."

Not seeming to catch a word of what he was saying, Arella turned genuinely worried (almost downright fearful) big blue eyes upon Rekko as she came to the next matter to be addressed. "Am I still gonna be able to dance?"

"Yes. Those nanites are the next best thing to magic, so once everything's kitted back together you'll be back to normal." Rekko reassured her, patting her shoulder softly. "Now, brace yourself; we're about to land, and this could be a little bumpy. Ivan's not quite got the hang of landing slowly, yet."

"Screw you, funny man." Was the response from the cockpit. "Jack, give finger for me."

Jack obliged, reaching across the cockpit to give Ivan the finger.

"Not me, fool." Ivan slapped the hand away, causing the chopper to lurch slightly.

"Hands on the controls!" Rekko cried out, turning to shout at his pilot as he braced himself. As he turned back, he realised that Arella had passed out. "... Shit. SHIT! Screw careful, get us down NOW!"

---

"Arella." Skorpion sat in the chair next to her bed, the seat making protesting noises as he settled into it. "C'mon, wake up, my princess."

The still-slumbering Arella gave a soft sigh, the corner of her mouth curving up into the faintest hint of a smile.

Skorpion smiled back. "Wake up, come on."

Moments later, Tiffaney entered the room, followed shortly by Eva. "How's she doing?" the elder of the two asked, moving in to check Arella's vitals.

"There was no major damage to her organs, veins, or arteries. At her current level of treatment she should be dancing again in a few days," Eva responded.

Skorpion frowned. "Good. Do we have blade profiles on the wounds, or any evidence from her clothing?"

"Judging by the wounds, I've determined that the larger was caused by a weapon matching the description of the one that man you encountered on the helicarrier used, while the smaller one was caused by a poorly kept serrated knife," Tiffaney recounted from her report. "I theorize that a street thug managed to wound her with a knife, due to her overworking herself to the point of exhaustion, then the man you encountered on the carrier found her to deliver the larger wound."

Skorpion nodded. "Makes sense. It looks like he's tracked me to Tokyo, then." He sighed heavily. "Tiffaney, he's probably going to be after me. If this attack is anything to go by, he may well go after you and the kids to get at me. If you want to leave, do so. I won't make you stay with that maniac around." He frowned. "He was none too stable even before he died."

"I can handle myself!" Tiffaney assured, curling her arm upwards and resting her hand on her bicep. "And I don't think the kids would let me move them even if I did want to leave."

Eva giggled a bit. "That's right. As Alexis would say, 'you're stuck with us.'"

Skorpion smiled, tugging Tiffaney over and kissing her. "Good to know. The option remains open, though; you've seen the project notes. You know what he's capable of."

Tiffaney returned the kiss. "And despite my research notes, I'm not entirely sure what my children are capable of yet." She gently placed a hand on his cheek. "Don't worry, dear. No matter what, we're here for you."

Eva rested her cheek in her own hand, letting out a silent "awww" at the sweetness.

"Also, protect the Academy. He might go after the magical girls to lure Lucius or Arella out, and they'd do anything to protect their students. You should be a fairly unknown quantity to him, so hit him with everything you've got."

"Don't worry, dear. I'll protect them." Tiffaney assured with a nod. "I'll have my kids look out for him as well."

---

'Aye, what?' Lucius sighed, setting the rope down. 'Wait, wha'? She WHAT?' His eyes went wide as his tail fluffed up into a brush. 'I'll be right there.' He dropped the phone back into his pocket, and started tugging his jeans back on. 'Lass, I gottae go. Arella's been stabbed.'

"SHE WHAT?!" Katrina remanded, the hotpocket she had been holding exploding across the ceiling, "That's it, everyone dies!" The dhampir started to storm out the door.

'Nae, lass. Jus' the ones who did it. She wouldnae want us tae go on a rampage o' revenge.' Lucius tugged her back with his telekinesis. 'Besides, lass, ye should problae get dressed first.'

"Good point..." Katrina was forced to concede, about the pants at least.

'Aye.' Lucius shrugged into a shirt, wincing slightly as it tore a little more. 'Ach, I need tae get them fixed again. Anyway, lass, c'mon. We're takin' Nicole rather'n borrowing from DT.' He paused, considering. 'An' bring goggles. We may need tae take the subway.'

Katrina already had them in her hand, and had somehow managed to completely dress for combat in the time it took Lucius to don a shirt. "Already got 'em."

Lucius grinned, donning a pair of his own as he hopped out the window, dropping neatly to the ground next to Nicole, as Katrina landed gently on her. He mounted up, starting the engine before zooming off, merging straight into and then through traffic.

A short while later, Nicole sailed out of the subway station by FGTL HQ, ramping off a bus before heading down the path through the minefield. Lucius weaved around the reception area, heading straight down into the garages to stop as close as he could to where he remembered the infirmary being. 'Lass, ye've been here more'n I have lately. He moved it, or nae?'

"I actually haven't been to the infirmary," Katrina grinned sheepishly. "Half vampire and whatnot."

Lucius sighed, dismounting from Nicole and wandering over to the nearest security camera. 'Skorp! Ye know where we wannae go. Directions!'

There was a pause, before a cleaning bot trundled up, looking somewhat like a cross between a combine harvester, a death robot, and a tank. It bleeped once, before setting off. Lucius shrugged, following it.

"Can't it move faster?" the dhampir muttered darkly, as she trudged along behind her catboy.

The bot bleeped again, accelerating sharply, forcing Lucius to run to keep up with it as it sped down the corridors, utilising ramps to get over the raised sills on the doorways.

"Much better," Katrina nodded as she gave chase.

Lucius and Kat arrived in the infirmary a short while later, the cleaning bot in a net slung over the catboy's shoulder. He made a beeline for the bed, pausing only to deposit the bot upside-down next to Skorpion. 'Rella! What happened?'

Arella didn't answer, on account of still being asleep. Really, sleep was far preferable to the alternative, given that everything fscking hurt.

"She's sleeping," Katrina pointed out helpfully. "But I hope she wakes up soon, before I find out the tasty way."

"No." Skorpion stood up, setting his mug of energy juice aside. "She's already lost enough blood. Plus, I don't think you'd get anything but mixed donor memories and a mouthful of nanotech at this point, considering how much she lost. I mean, unless you want to go lick it up from the alleyway or something."

Rekko nodded, but offered Katrina a damp, pinkish-coloured towel. "Is that enough? She was squirting."

Lucius tried valiantly not to snigger.

Skorpion looked down at Arella, then back at Lucius. "I'm sorry, but this is what she would have wanted." He reached out, bitch-slapping Lucius hard enough to knock him off balance.

Katrina, for her part, was trying her absolute best to keep her face as straight as a board as she answered, "No, has to be fresh."

Rekko nodded. "Then you won't get anything. If she hasn't awoken for a few days, then you can try."

"Few days?" Katrina's eye twitched. "I'll have half the city burned down 'in a few days.'"

"No, you won't." Skorpion sighed. "If you want to destroy anything, you can destroy this block here." He held up a tablet with an aerial image of a tower block. "I traced the original stabber. To this complex, somewhere. If you wish, you can be first on the ground after the strike."

'Nae. Tae wrongs donnae make a right, an' the rest o' the residents have nae done anythin'.' Lucius objected, looking over Arella. 'Jus' a small airstrike, and we'll nae kill the scunner.'

"Air strike?" Katrina scoffed. "Just drop me in there."

'Ye WILL kill him, lass. I jus' want tae rip his legs off.'

"You can have his legs, but bring a triage kit," the dhampir replied. "Don't want him bleeding out too fast."

Lucius grinned, holding up a hand as electricity crackled between his fingers.

"Not in the infirmary!" Skorpion objected.

"No killing," Arella rather weakly protested from the bed, before her eyes had even had a chance to open. A pained whimper escaped her then, because oh God, everything hurt.

Lucius turned to her, his ears pricking up as the electricity vanished. 'You're awake! What happened, 'Rella?'

Skorpion raised an eyebrow, turning back to the magical girl. "Indeed she has."

Katrina turned to face the injured magical girl so quickly there was an audible snap (possibly one of her vertebrae); she opened her mouth to speak, before snapping it shut again, realizing that the first thing Arella had heard was her rather murderous intent - ironically, the very thing that had started their friendship.

"S'ok, Kat," the magical girl reassured. "Just don't hurt anybody, please." Because clearly comforting her girlfriend/best friend and making sure the guy that stabbed her didn't end up maimed or killed were more important than the fact that she'd been, y'know, stabbed. Twice.

"I... I won't," Katrina promised quietly, earnestly beginning to study her boots.

Arella made a gentle noise that was meant to gain the dhampir's attention, though it ended up sounding rather more pathetic and pained than intended, as she gave her fingers an inviting little wiggle and Kat a reassuring little smile.

Skorpion stepped back to Arella's side, resting his hand on her forehead. "Do you remember what happened?"

"I was stupid," Arella was then forced to admit, both looking and sounding decidedly embarrassed. "Let that idiot thug sneak up behind me, and didn't even notice 'til the blade went in. I sent him packing, though - don't think he even realized he managed to do it." She paused a moment then, before adding. "The other one... the other one was scary."

"Why didn't you tell us you were going out?" Katrina asked as she reached out for the wiggling fingers, and promptly had her hand claimed by the girl in the bed.

"And you conveniently forgot nearly everything I slipped a tracking device into," wheezed an old man at the door. "You have any idea how many taxi drivers flee from a crazy white man in the middle of the night?" Kor (because what other old man would be crazy enough to run around the FGTL headquarters), tried very hard not to let his emotions run away with what little sanity he had left. Oops. Too late.

"Sorry," came Arella's rather soft and decidedly guilty apology, both for her verbalized offenses and those that had gone unsaid (like overworking herself, and making everyone worry).

"The other one?" Skorpion sighed softly. "If there's someone after you, it's kinda important." He waved to Kor with his free hand.

"I don't think he is after me," the magical girl then admitted, clearly already worrying. "He's after you. He said he was gonna kill you, and... and the other experiments you're protecting. And maybe Luc, too." A few tears were beginning to spill from her blue eyes again, the threat being genuinely upsetting. Plus, she was still running on very little sleep, and tears come so much more easily then.

Skorpion sighed. "You worry about recovering. I can take care of myself."

Had she not already been busy with her tears, Arella would have given him a look for that - one that asked if he knew her at all, because of course she was going to worry about him and Luc and Lexi and everyone else. "Please don't die," she rather tearfully begged instead, unable to stand the thought of losing anyone else.

Skorpion leaned down, taking hold of Arella's free hand. "Arella, I promise you. I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. You, and everyone else. I built this faction up from a bunch of troopers in a warehouse into what it is today. I'm not about to let someone I thought was dead for the last forty years tear it all down just because he never liked me."

"And who's going to keep you safe?" she fretted.

"Me." Skorpion grinned. "Otherwise, do you think I built this place up just out of boredom? This was to protect me from the USA. If it's held them at bay this long, then what hope does one maniac with a polearm and a habit of stabbing fallen magical girls have?"

"At least promise me you'll be careful," Arella pleaded, turning those big blue eyes upon him.

"Well, this just got interesting," Kor mused, "I take it he's from back then, eh?"

"Arella, I promise. I won't let him get near us. Kor, I'll explain later." Not in front of the magical girl!

"Oh, right," Kor nodded sheepishly. "Well, I'm free all day, beat mine sweeper on expert yesterday."

Katrina, possibly sensing something from over the Fourth Wall, chose that moment to sit on the edge of the bed.

Lucius looked warily at the door before joining Katrina on the bed, keeping his tail well away from Arella's stab wounds. 'Sorry lass, but Eva threatened tae amputate it if'n ye got fur on ye. Only barely allowed me intae the room.'

Feeling much better now that she had Skorp's promise, and was being properly kept company on the bed, Arella snuggled up between them, letting her head rest on Kat's shoulder after wiping away some of her tears. "Will you stay?" she rather plaintively asked.

'Long as they'll let me, lassie. Take shifts wi' Kat if I need tae.'

Katrina was a little slower to respond, still fighting the urge to go out and do something, "Y... yes," she finally said. "And no one better try to tell me to leave."

Skorpion shrugged. "I live here. I'll be here if you need me."

Arella yawned, widely and cutely, somehow managing to give off the impression of a sleepy kitten. "'kay. Can I sleep now, without anybody going and killing people? I'm tired."

"You'll heal faster that way anyway." Skorpion smiled. "Rest well, princess."

"Yes, heal faster when nobody's killing people," the magical girl rather nonsensically agreed, eyes already closing as she nestled into the pillow. "And with Ash here. Can I have Ash tomorrow?"

"I'll bring her," Kor volunteered.

Arella smiled at that, already very nearly asleep. "Now everybody be quiet and gimme snuggles," she murmured.

Katrina wrapped her arms around the poor girl and turned to Kor. "Text my brother what happened and get him the pictures."

"I know where he lives. Remember that you promised you wouldn't kill him," Skorpion interjected.

Lucius grinned. 'Aye, time fer the Stallion tae pay him a wee visit.'

"DT won't kill him," Katrina clarified. "He'll pay like for like though. I promised her I wouldn't hurt anyone, but someone needs to know why Luc won't be in to play today."

"Got it," Kor grinned.

---

About 2am...

The Stallion crept catlike up to a nondescript door in a generic apartment block, katana held low. He paused as he reached it, listening against the door. Hearing nothing, he laid a hand against it. The lock clicked, and the door didn't open. With a soft growl of annoyance, he slid the blade of the katana into the door, carving around the lock before slicing up to sever the chain. That done, he opened the door gently, slipping inside and moving towards the bedroom door. He slipped through it carefully, reaching over to switch on the light. As he did so, he gasped involuntarily. The bed was covered in blood and body parts, as was the floor, the walls, the furniture, and even the ceiling.

"Petty vengeance. You're as weak as she was."

The Stallion snapped around, looking for the voice and seeing nothing, sword held at the ready.

The voice came again from the other side of the room. "Quite the fuss you've been making, pony. Attacking airbases, changing weather patterns, brutal vigilante justice, breaking and entering, murder..."

'It was like that when I got here.' The Stallion growled, looking around, horse mask flopping around as he did so. 'I'm neigh a murderer.'

"The puns by themselves deserve the death penalty."

'Got you.' The Stallion lunged, sword swinging and carving a trail of frost through the air. He was brought to a halt as his legs were kicked out from under him; a figure appearing behind him holding a long polearm.

"Lucius Ogilvy."

'The Stallion.'

"Lucius Ogilvy. Born in Scotland, year uncertain. Location uncertain. Date uncertain. Lead 'singer' of The Offenders, and leader of the associated 'superhero' group during their tour of New York State. Technical consultant for Highlander 2. Former agent of SHIELD, fired due to gross misconduct."

'Hold your horses; it's Christmas already?'

The stream of information paused. "What?"

'You're neigh even a ghost. Ghosts are intangible!'

"... Due to gross misconduct. Vanished shortly afterwards, reappearing three months later in Arizona. Suspected involvement in failed HYDRA project to reverse-engineer Skrull spacecraft during WW2."

'Is this the Spanish Inquisition? Because I didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition,' the Stallion baited.

"... Despite schooling records from the 1970s. Suspected involvement of time travel. Subsequent activities unclear, but located across the United States and Canada, culminating in the detonation of an oil refinery in Texas."

The Stallion lunged for the figure, only succeeding in being tripped again and pinned down, the point of the polearm blade pressing into his back.

"Disappeared from system until arrival in Tokyo months later. Association with the Followers of Great Teacher Largo, later the Principality of Sealand. Principal of the Cute Magical Girls of Yuki-sama Academy."

'Mouthful, aye? Blame Arella.'

"Be silent."

'Neigh.'

The polearm was thrust downwards, impaling Lucius to the floor, gaining a yowl of pain. "Abilities include powerful telekinesis, psychokinesis focused through unique sword, and extreme durability. Suspected immortality."

'Suspected my fluffy-tailed arse,' Lucius retorted, coughing.

"Known hazard to air traffic, true extent of traffic and parking violations unknown due to stack overflow errors." The polearm twisted, gaining another yowl. "Known to frequent the CATastrophe Club."

'I'll kill ye if ye dare go...' Another twist, another yowl.

"Silence."

'Nae, ye.' Lucius threw the blade upwards, where it turned and impaled the figure through the abdomen. 'Ye're worse'n Skorp fer the talkin' an' the arrogance. An' ye talk like Devin.' He retrieved his sword, grinning. 'An' now I have a DNA sample.'

"Avoid involvement with official SHIELD business at all costs. Unreliable, uncontrollable, and prone to collateral damage." The figure stepped back, swinging the polearm around to point the butt at Lucius. "Prone to lapses of concentration."

'Aw, shite.'

The room exploded. Broken glass showered the street below, followed by a Lucius. He winced as he pulled himself clear of the car he'd landed in, tugging a shard of glass from his eye socket. 'Tha's gonnae hurt...' He swayed, before starting to stagger away, leaving a trail of blood behind him.

---

'Ow.'

Drip, drip.

'Ow.'

Drip.

'Nae, really, ow..'

*clang*

'Who put tha' there?'

*clang* *thud*

'Where's my phone... Ugh. I'm jus' gonnae lay here an' take a nap...'

Moments after he had stopped moving, a palm was hastily placed on his back and his surroundings changed to the Largoist medical ward. The hand quickly withdrew and whatever it belonged to disappeared before it could so much as be recognised on surveillance.

Lucius twitched in his sleep as blood started to pool under him.

"Wha- Lucius?!" Eva exclaimed, running to his side and resting her hands on his back to immediately start healing him. "What happened? Did you walk all the way here with this wound?"

Lucius opened his eye, an ear twisting around to point at Eva. 'Nae... Fell over'n the street, suddenly 'm here. Tried tae go after th' scunner tha' hurt 'Rella. 's dead, big scunner stabbed me an' shot me wi' a grenade. Went outta window tae get awa'. Los' eyeball.'

"Don't worry. I should be able to heal most of your wounds in the next three minutes, but you still should rest." Eva said, relaxing now that she had things under control. "What brought you here?"

'Nae idea.' Lucius winced. 'Most o' the blood's nae mine. Jus' a wee stab tae the gut, an' glass. Poor scunner was errywhere.'

"Well, I'm glad you made it back." Eva consoled as a treaded stretcher arrived.

'Me tae; donnae wannae deal wi' more Reis.'

---

Lucius groaned as he woke up. He was next to Arella and Kat, but that was about the only good point. No jacket, no sword, and it felt like half his face was covered in bandages. He reached up to check, and found that, indeed, half of his face was covered in bandages. He sat up, rubbing his head, and waved to the nearby nurse. 'Mirror, lass.'

"S- sir, I don't think that's a good--"

'Mirror!' Lucius insisted.

The nurse sighed, and handed him a small hand mirror. Lucius inspected himself in it, before using it to peek under the bandages. After doing so, he started laughing, cackling maniacally.

The nurse rolled her eyes. "Don't you dare."

Lucius continued laughing, and attempted to smash the mirror against the bedside table. He missed. He stopped laughing, trying again, and missing to the side. He then growled, adjusting his aim and swinging harder. This time, his knuckles contacted the edge of the table, causing him to drop the mirror and yowl in pain.

"Serves you right." The nurse snarked as she rescued the mirror before it hit the floor. "And calm down before you wake the magical girl; your eye will grow back sooner or later. Doesn't it always, with you?"

Before Lucius had the chance to answer, the bandaged face in question was struck by a pillow nearing exit velocity. "Shush!" a particular dhampir demanded. "The magical girl is sleeping, and why didn't you tell me you were going out?!" She had apparently already forgotten the whole "sleeping magical girl" part.

Lucius waved at the cloud of feathers, ears (really more ear and stub now) flicking as he tried to clear it. 'Texted ye. An' ye'd hae wanted tae come wi'. Couldnae leave Arella alone, or risk gettin' ye hurt a' well.'

"I heal as fast as you do, and the phone was off 'cause cute sleeping girl!" Katrina's volume still stated she had forgotten what she had literally just said. Surprisingly, Arella was still managing to sleep through it.

'I barely escaped as it was, lass. The guy who stabbed 'Rella was...' He glanced to Arella, sighing softly. 'Was nae more. The second scunner were there, an' invisible. An' tae good wi' a big blade in a small apartment. An' he had a grenade launcher. Escaped outta the windae.'

"So what, the second guy did the first one?" Katrina asked, looking puzzled.

Lucius sighed, offering his wrist to Kat. 'Donnae want tae say it in front o' 'Rella.'

Katring looked over at all the bandages. "I got the gist of it; besides, I think you need that inside you more than me," the dhampir giggled.

Lucius shrugged, flopping back down onto the bed. 'Most o' the blood was nae mine. The firs' scunner was all o'er the apartment.'

"So, who is this asshole anyway?" the dhampir shifted to see Lucius better and hopefully not wake Arella.

'Hell if I ken, lass. Looked a wee bit like a bald Skorp, talked like Devin, knew all sortsa crap about me. Like he'd read a wikipedia page or somethin'. Oh, an' cat eyes.'

Katrina made a face that very closely resembled an emoticon.

'Watch out fer the scunner, y'ken?' Lucius reached out to stroke Kat's hair, not seeming to notice that he was missing a couple of fingertips. 'I donnae want ye or 'Rella tae get hurt.'

Katrina nodded and nuzzled his hand. Well, most of it, anyway. This was obviously not a man to be trifled with, but neither was she. Not the man part of course, that was obvious, but the trifling part.

'No goin' after him.' Lucius warned, knowing what she was thinking.

"I won't," any time soon at least, Katrina replied, a protective hand on Arella.

The magical girl promptly snuggled up against the dhampir in her sleep, a contented sigh escaping her - followed by some sleepy murmurings about Ash and what might have been a Game of Thrones reference.

Katrina reflexively snuggled back. "Oh, did you get her kitty?" she asked Lucius.

Lucius shook his head. 'Didnae want tae risk it in combat. Didnae want tae let it taste human blood after tha'. An' then I sorta passed out, ken?'

"You know she's gonna be pissed." Katrina frowned. "Probably try to mallet you. Then fail. Then ask me to do it."

'I'll hae Cathal dae it. He'll do anythin' fer Arella-sensei, an' cats like him.' He paused. 'More'n jus' a snack, like they dae me.'

At that point, a particular old man arrived with a kitty. And a block of cheese. "I found her wandering about, is she Arella's?"

Katrina looked, then looked closer, then tilted her head sideways, then looked back at the magical girl. "You know, I have no idea," the dhampir replied.

Lucius opened his eye, examining the cat in question carefully. 'Looks like.' He reached out to the cat, trying a few times to get his hand nearby to attempt to pet it. When he finally did, the cat sank its teeth deep into his finger. 'Aye, tha's Arella's. See how it finds me delicious?'

"Good." Kor set the cat next to Arella and Katrina, the dhampir reflexively reaching out to pet the kitty.

Ash, for her part, gave a rather imperious meow, thinking the humans terribly silly for not being able to tell Arella was her human, and curled up in the crook of said human's neck, shifting Kat a bit out of the way as she did so. That was her spot, after all.

Katrina blinked. "Was I just displaced by a kitty?"

Ash proceeded to purr.

"Guess that's a yes," the dhampir shrugged, and pet the kitty.

'Watch out when ye do tha',' Lucius warned as Katrina reached for the cat. 'Donnae if it's her bein' territorial, or if she jus' likes tae bite me.'

"Probably just you," Katrina stuck her tongue out at Lucius, and was promptly rewarded with a friendly lick from the kitty as if to prove the point.

Lucius grumbled, rolling his eye as he reached out to pet Arella, giving the kitty a wide berth. Ash still made a rather threatening sound to let him know how she felt about that, but didn't move from her current spot, lest it be stolen in turn by Kat.

---

"So. You went after the guy who stabbed her. Who was it?"

Lucius sighed. 'Donnae know. He was everywhere.'

"Everywhere how? Fast?" Skorpion asked.

'Nae. Everywhere, as in he'd been sliced tae pieces. Blood o'er the walls an' floor an' ceiling, soaked intae the bed. Bits o' him all over.'

"Needless. That wasn't you?"

Lucius shook his head. 'Nae. I was usin' a katana, an' didnae use telekinesis nearby. Stealthy, y'ken?'

Skorpion nodded thoughtfully. "So, who did? And what's with the eye and the fingers?"

'Y'ken the guy ye met on the carrier? Big guy, glaive or somethin'?'

"Yeah, I know the guy. It was him?"

Lucius nodded. 'Wi' the slicin' an' all. He's got a grenade launcher in the back o' it. Nae afraid tae use it indoors. Even ye were never tha' reckless.'

Skorpion nodded again, chuckling softly. "Healing from that hurts. Speaking of which, how're you holding up?"

Lucius pointed to his missing eye. Or, at least, he tried to; he was missing the finger he'd tried to use. 'Hurts like crazy.'

"Well, if you'd just use the nanites, that'd heal up fine..."

'Nae.' Lucius frowned. 'Nae nanites. I donnae trust 'em, nae after what they did tae tha' wolfgirl o' yers.'

"Alexis?"

'Aye, her.'

"Isolated incident. And she was a super-soldier anyway."

'Donnae trust 'em regardless. It'll heal after a while anyway; always does.'

Skorpion rolled his eyes. "And Eva's healing?"

Lucius shook his head. 'Nae yet. She needs all her energy tae help Arella recover first. I ken get by until things heal on their own, an' the city willnae go wrong if I take a holiday.' He shrugged. 'An' I'm mobile wi' some painkillers, so I donnae need tae take time off teachin'.'

"How noble. Get yourself healed as soon as she can manage it, though. That madman with the polearm? Land Warrior."

'Yer haverin'.'

"Nope. He's meant to be dead, too. Saw him on the slab and everything; braindead from some code screwup. Apparently he was with SHIELD." Skorpion shrugged. "You worked with them; you see him?"

'Nae. Only with them a wee while, remember.'

"Still. He's coming after me, apparently. He's already gone through Arella and you to try and lure me out, and started cutting loose ends. I'm assigning security to the school."

'Nae guns in front o' the students, an' nothing tha'll worry them.' Lucius warned.

"Thought you'd say that. Rapid response unit, with helicopter. Keep a patch of field usable for them, clear the pad on the roof. Also, drill the students in defense of the school."

Lucius considered that. 'Aye, tha's a good idea anyway. I'll call it trainin', an' give extra credit tae nae die.'

"Extra credit to not die?" Skorpion raised an eyebrow. "Not dying should be a reward in itself."

Lucius grinned. 'Aye, but incentives cannae hurt. Also, ye have magical girls on staff, nae?'

"I what?"

Lucius sighed. 'Ye have magical girls here. More'n one, so more'n jus' Tiffaney.'

"You're not just picking up Arella?"

'Nae.' Lucius tapped his nose. 'I'd know her anywhere. Ye've got new ones.'

"And how do you know all this, anyway?" Skorpion asked, sounding skeptical.

'Can smell 'em, kindae. Part smell, part like how I ken sense objects, an' part jus' knowin'.'

"So, magic, then." Skorpion sighed. "I hate magic. It's so... Magical."

'Ye hate magic because it's magical.' Lucius repeated, slightly incredulous.

"Yes. It doesn't make sense, it's not internally consistent even with itself, it appears out of nowhere, it gives me headaches, and..." Skorpion trailed off, realising something. "Oh, shit."

'Oh shit what?'

"He might go after Saeko. Try to get Arella to make me intervene, or set her against me."

'Lad, she's already against ye. Jus' tae Mihoist tae do shit.'

"If you see her, warn her not to listen to him."

'Las' time I saw her, she broke my arms in five places.'

"Oh, you'll heal."

'Piss off. Send her an E-mail or somethin'. I'm nae yer message boy.'

Skorpion shrugged. "Fine. Maybe I'll paint it on the sides of my aircraft in case she messes with them again. Meanwhile, you have a magical girl to comfort, and things to regrow."

'Aye. Get her some raspberries, aye?'

"I'll get some out the hydroponics lab."

'REAL raspberries.'

"Fine, I'll send someone to a farmer's market or something." Skorpion sighed. "Also, get that cat out of the med bay."

'Arella's cat. Does what it pleases, an' I'm nae touchin' the wee scunner. I'm running out o' fingers as it is.' Lucius waved a hand as he wandered off, displaying said lack of fingers.

Skorpion sighed. Great. ANOTHER cat in here. That's all we need.

Summary:
-Arella's been stabbed!
-I mean Raven.
-Oh hell, we all know they're the same person, she isn't fooling anybody.
-The day is saved when Skorp shows up to save her!
-Wait, that's not Skorp...
-Arella get's stabbed again! The second stabber has a message for Skorp - he's going to kill him, and the other experiments he's protecting.
-Now it's Skorp to the rescue!
-And Rekko, 'cause medics tend to be more useful after stabbings than, well, Skorp.
-Arella wants to sleep. She really hasn't been, lately, hence getting stabbed in the first place.
-Rekko won't let her sleep, and neither does Skorp upon arriving. Meanies!
-Back to HQ she goes, for further medical attention!
-And passes out along the way.
-Arella's in the FGTL med ward.
-Skorp discusses the stabbings with Tiff and Eva; he wants everybody to be super careful, 'cause he knows the second guy. Well, knew him. And thought he was dead, but we're pretty sure he isn't a zombie. Or a vampire. Or any of those things.
-Lucius and Kat get the call that Arella's hurt, and hurry to her bedside.
-Discussions about revenge and murder sprees wake the magical girl, and Arella puts a stop to it.
-She also immediately forgives those involved, and comforts Kat in light of her guilt. Because Arella.
-The attack is discussed, and a worried Kor shows up.
-Do you have any idea how many taxi drivers flee from crazy white men in the middle of the night?
-Arella worries about Skorp. And Lexi. And pretty much everyone who isn't her.
-She also wants cuddles and sleep. And her kitty.
-"Can I sleep now, without anybody going and killing people?"
-Cuddles are had, DarkTan is informed of the night's events via text, and Lucius (aka the Stallion) goes to pay the first stabber a visit.
-First stabber is dead. And in pieces. The second stabber, on the other hand, is waiting for Luc.
-Luc gets stabbed and beaten up and exploded. It's a really good thing he's immortal.
-A mysterious hand transports the unconscious catboy to the FGTL med ward, where he gets somewhat fixed up and stuck in a bed next to Arella.
-Lucius is very loud when he wakes up. Kat attacks him with a pillow and reminds him not to wake the magical girl.
-Kor arrives, with kitty-Ash in tow! At least, he thinks it might be Ash, he's not sure.
-Ash finds the humans silly, displays her dislike of Lucius, and semi-displaces Kat to snuggle with her human. Because she's a kitty, and kitties are always boss.
-Skorp and Luc talk about the second stabber, who is revealed to have been part of the Land Warrior project that created Skorp.
-Security measures need to be made to protect the CMGY Academy, in case he should try attacking to lure Skorp out.
-Luc says there are more magical girls at the FGTL than just Arella and Tiff - he can smell 'em.
-Oh shit, what if the Land Warrior guy goes after Saeko? No way that would end well.
-Holy crap, long summary is long.

Summary of Summary:
-Arella's been stabbed twice, oh noes!
-A crazy guy from Skorp's past has appeared, determined to kill Skorp and other ex-government experiments in the area.
-Everybody needs to be super careful, and no going after this guy on their own.
-Also, no running off to kill people, Arella says so. And she's been stabbed, so you totally have to listen to her.
-Cuddles!
-First stabber is dead. Lucius gets stabbed and exploded.
-NO WAKING THE MAGICAL GIRL!
-Kitty! Moar cuddles!

Summary of Summary of Summary:
-STABBINGS!
-CRAZY GOVERNMENT EXPERIMENT DUDE!
-CUDDLES AND KITTIES!
-TYPING IN ALL CAPS!
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ArsenalXA4

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Post Sun Apr 03, 2016 6:14 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Realignment
Characters: 15th Armored Infantry Platoon 28th Armored Infantry Platoon, First Sergeant Nicholas MacIntyre, Sergeant First Class Slater Joshua Rockwell, Sergeant Joel Anson Pierce, Colonel Diana Segovia, Sergeant Howard Wilks, Brigadier General Michael Rosoft, US Navy personnel.
Locations: US Embassy, Yokota Air Base
Authors: ArsenalXA4, Hyuuint, and Oblivion
Timestamp: Concurrent with I May Fall

---

The man looking back at Mac in the mirror was almost unfamiliar to him. It had been almost a year since the former Delta operator turned CIA spook last shaved. He ran his fingers along his freshly shaved face, the feeling almost alien to him. The beard had become an extension of himself, almost a trademark of the man that is Agent Nicholas MacIntyre. Now it lay in tatters in the sink, to be flushed away like so much refuse.

"Glad to see you finally policed that 'moostache.'" Gunny Rockwell said from the door.

"I can't begin to tell you how wrong it looks to see you in Multicam." Mac replied as he began cleaning the sink and stowing his shaving gear.

"You're tellin' me. If any Devil Dog I served with sees me in these duds, I may as well have never gone to Parris Island."

"So wear a mask if you're so concerned for your image." Mac said as he stepped past the Gunny and toward his deployment bag. Set next to it was an M-4 SOPMOD with three point sling, ACOG scope, and a forward grip. "So, what's the score?"

"Pierce is waiting in the helo with Sergeant Karolinski. And one of our two missing laser rifles." Slater said as Mac threw his bag over his shoulder then picked up the SOPMOD.

"Sergeant Arcturus has the other one. He apparently told Rostok they might need them." Mac replied as the two men left the small room, walking down the nondescript hallway of the Embassy. "What else?"

"Fifteenth- No, Twenty Eighth Armored Infantry Platoon is bein' heloed into Yokota Air Base. They got the same Chinook Chiefs to bring 'em in an' the same Apache Longbows to escort 'em." The two entered a ladderwell with signs indicating that it led to the heliport.

"Anything else?"

"The Strategic Defense Initiative is sendin' a team in as part of their AI Weapons Development Team. They call it 'Audit' as a joke." Gunny replied as they ascended the stairs. "One ground team, one hybrid gunship/artillery team, and an AI fighter squadron."

"Did they send any actual humans? Or are they Terminators in disguise?"

"Support staff are human, as is the lady in charge of 'Task Force Toolshed. One Colonel Diana Sevogia, Air Force.'" Mac stopped and looked at Slater. "Hey, I don't come up with the names. Apparently the ground team call themselves the 'Hammerheads.' Sergeant Wilks says it makes sense in context." Mac shook his head and turned back, resuming the upward ascent.

"We also got ourselves a MATV-X from Oshkosh Truck Corporation. Cover is we're an Army Fire Support Team testin' the MATV-X in urban conditions. Of course that also means we may have to direct arty for the platoon as they call for it. Never done that myself, short a' guidin' a Hellfire into a building with my spotter."

"We'll read up on the pertinent training manuals. For now, bullshitting our way through it is going to suffice. Our primary objective is to establish and coordinate the airlift of the metas. Anything that comes inbetween and after we'll have to improvise." Mac said as they exited the stairwell and entered the heliport. There was an SH-60K Knight Hawk on deck, rotors spinning up. Rostok was already in the bird seated across from Agent Pierce. There were weapons cases in the helo with the two men.

"Sarn't, why in God's name are you openly carrying a weapon that is not supposed to exist for another ten years?" Mac asked as he and Slater boarded the helo.

"Just in case." the infantryman replied.

"Sarn't, put that weapon away, now." Rostok said something in Russian before opening one of the weapons cases and trading the laser rifle for his M-16A4. He didn't look happy about the change. The crew chief slid the door closed, the pilot increasing power and leaving the flight deck. The flight was a quick one, compounded slightly by the departure of a C-5M Galaxy loaded with a pair of M-1A2 Abrams tanks bound for Fort Hood, part of the force draw down. The helo loitered for a bit longer before a flight of CH-47D Chinooks and CH-47M Chinook Chiefs arrived on station.

"There's our party... Rostok, ready to return to your platoon?" Mac asked, looking toward the soldier.

"Been waiting for it. Petro an' I never finished our game of Risk."

"He go for Afghanistan?" Pierce asked.

"None of us go for Afghanistan. In fact, fuck Afghanistan."

"You're right. Nothing good comes from that shithole." Pierce said, patting his leg. "Left the real one there, along with a couple friends. But that's okay, Nothing a couple Drone strikes didn't fix."

"Happiness is a Hellfire. A hellfire an' an AT-4."

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Ladies and gentlemen, I can't say I like the fact that we're back at Yokota, but at least here we don't have to constantly take anti-rad pills and check our water for quality." Major Wylder said as he addressed 28th Armored Infantry Platoon. Behind him a transport truck was moving Lancer weapons to a fighting pit. Army engineers had taken time to dig fire pits for Alamosaurus tetrapods to deploy their Sniper Howiters from, just in case. CRAM trailers had also been brought in to augment the MIM-103 Patriot missiles and to provide protection from artillery, mortars, and rockets. It was also done because the Air Force Lancers on site did not have M-61A2 Vulcan Cannons, a necessity for an ad hoc air defense and counter mortar network.

"Come tomorrow morning we go back to the daily grind, however hunting the missing Lancer is no longer on the table."

"Thank God. I think that cop that gave me a ticket is still out there." Vasquez whispered to Lieutenant Crowley.

"We're being relegated to a QRF, to deploy as needed and to investigate events in the city." the Major continued. "Intel suggests nothing is as it seems, however we cannot act. Not yet, at least."

"Until then we sit and we train. We sit and we stand watch. Questions? No? Then dismissed." The soldiers dispersed, Jenks motioning for Mac to join him.

"We need to recover both Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi and Sergeant Arcturus." he said, the two men walking out of the hangar. Already the platoon Lancers were in place, Anie and the pilots conducting daily checks on the ambulatory weapons platforms.

"Do we have a way to contact your XO?"

"All avenues are, unfortunately, unsecured. I've already asked Langley to dig up information on his family, specifically on his father's side."

"Why his father's side?" Mac asked, the two men stopping to wait for an Air Force Utahraptor to pass by.

"His father is Japanese. The Captain said he had family in Saitama, which suggests an uncle or an aunt or some other relation. Other than that he didn't say anything else." Jenks admitted.

"Could take time. Time we don't have." As the two men spoke, a pair of agents at Langley were poring over Daisuke Kisaragi's background, looking at his family tree by less than legal means. They hacked the Koseki, the family registry with the surname 'Kisaragi,' coming back with several, hundred thousand results. They began narrowing their results down by looking for any 'Kisaragi' with a spouse who isn't a Japanese citizen. That narrowed it further. The next step was to find the surname 'Ramirez.'

One hit came back.

Digging into the father's side, they searched for a 'Kisaragi' living in Saitama. It was at this point that they hit a momentary roadblock, as the Koseki requires one to abandon their surname when they get married. They found out that Ayane Kisaragi had taken the surname 'Kusanagi' when she married one First Lieutenant Shigeru Kusanagi. The analysts pored over his file as well, finding nothing out of the ordinary. Model soldier, liked by his men, serving in his father's footsteps. He lived off base, which made sense. That also made finding the Captain that much easier. Once an address had been dug up an order was sent from Hunter Base to Sergeant First Class Hayden Earle "Killing Machine" Arcturus at his sniper hide to find it via a drone to scope out the house in Saitama, to see if that was where Captain Eikichi Ramirez-Kisaragi had gone to ground. Sure enough, the Captain emerged from the house at 1926 Lima, stretching then going on a run through the evening streets.

"Hunter Base, Killing Machine, got positive ID on our HVT." Hayden reported. "On a personal note, I never thought I'd call my XO an HVT."

"Killing Machine, Hunter Base copies. Keep eyes on him. Out." the operator on the Maersk California replied back. The same operator transferred the mic to one of his fellow agents as he got up from his seat. He plucked a smart phone from the bay along the bulkhead on his way out of the ship's radio room, heading up topside to get a signal, listening to the phone ring as the converted cargo ship made a course correction.

"This is Wylder." Jenks said after his phone said 'secure' upon picking up.

"Major, we've found Arsenal. How should we proceed?" Jenks took a moment to walk into the hangar, going to his ad-hoc office and turning on the radio Hayden had fixed back at Black Site Fukushima. AC/DC's 'Thunderstruck' was blasting over the speakers.

"Can you confirm it is him?" the Major asked, wanting a no-bullshit answer.

"Killing Machine confirmed it for Hunter Base. How do we proceed, sir?"

"You do nothing. I'll take care of it on my end." the Major replied before hanging up. He pocketed his phone and left his office, going for his Lancer.

"Major, are we being deployed?" Convoy asked as the Major kickstarted the Lancer.

"No. I need to use the radio. Do you have the frequencies for the carrier?"

"Dialing in... You're connected." Jenks put his headset on and keyed his mic from the right control stick.

"Carrier Command, this is a priority call for Gunsight from callsign Alpha Raptor."

"Switch to UHF secure and wait one." the radioman replied. Jenks reach over and flipped a switch on his comms deck and waited.

"Major, you better have a damn good reason for takin' me away from pizza an' wings on the mess decks." Brigadier General Rosoft said, replying after a ten minute wait.

"We've managed to find Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi. I allowed him to go on leave when 15th AI was disbanded. I told him to join us under his own power, however we've returned to the AOR." Jenks explained. Rosoft asked how they found him, the Major explaining the arduous process.

"Alright, got any plans on pickin' him up?"

"I was considering taking a staff car and Top Khukov. Which brings me to another pickup: Sergeant Arcturus." The platoon sniper was still in his sniper hide.

"Can't send a helo. We already sent a ground team to 'recover' some 'wreckage.' Can't get another Chinook Chief out there. Unless you've got an idea." To fulfill the ruse of a helo experiencing mechnical failures, the Chinook Chief that dropped Hayden and Sturm had broadcast a mayday and reported that they had four souls aboard (pilot, copilot, and door gunners) and cargo. Yokota Tower ordered them to jettison their cargo and they did.

"I have an idea. I'm going to make another phone call after this. Might be a loud extract, though." Jenks mused. "I think we should have them drop him off walking distance from the air base, lest they accidentally cause an alert and the base shift into World War IV mode."

"Point taken. When are you gonna recover him?"

"As soon as I make a phone call. That aside, we're on standby here. I've already got a few things lined up to keep the platoon busy. Regular work ups, PT, that sort of thing."

"Sounds good. Listen, I left a card game where I was winnin'. If you don't mind I'd like to get back to it." Rosoft said, eager to get back to the pizza and wings, despite the heart burn.

"Very well, sir. Enjoy your evening. Out." On the carrier the Brigadier handed the mic back to one of the Cryptographers, standing up and checking his watch.

"Shit... A lot can happen in ten minutes. I'm prolly out this round." he mused.

"General, got flash traffic from Pearl." the CT he handed the mic to said, holding it back to him. Rosoft rolled his eyes and sat back down, taking the handset.

"This is Rosoft."

"Good evening, Brigadier General Michael Rosoft." That was a voice Rosoft had not heard in quite some time.

"Who in the hell is this? You ain't CINCPAC." the general said, snapping his fingers at a CT. He was given a pen and paper then quickly wrote 'Can you trace this?'

"We'll try, sir." the CT replied, quietly.

"If I recall correctly, the 15th Platoon turned 28th had nine off the book ops under their belt in '07."

"What do you want an' how do you know that number." Rosoft said. He and two of his Colonels knew of that particular platoon's extracurricular activities in Iraq during the Troop Surge.of 2007. Two Colonels and no more than three CIA agents.

"I have recieved word of the excursion to take place in a few days time. While you are properly staffed, I would like to make a recommendation of my own. The file should be sent to your secured email soon, complete with the allowed knowledge of my charge. One of twenty four, if you'll remember. This one in particular should be of grand assistance, what with their extensive mech knowledge and current amount of time spent with the types of charges you will be bringing in."

"What kinda recommendation?" the Brigadier asked as two of the CTs tried to trace the call, another bringing him a tablet connected to the ship's Secured LAN. Rosoft logged in with his temporary login. Sure enough there was a file in his email.

"Simply put, someone who can help soothe the minds of those you are bringing, has enough intel to help them tick better, and someone who needs to be in touch with their soldier upbringings. This is merely a recommendation, though, and it is entirely up to you to bring them in or not. Good night, Rosoft. Till we speak again." And with that, the line went dead.

"No dice on the trace, sir." the Chief CT said, one of the Petty Officers tossing his pen aside. Rosoft was poring through the file in his email.

"Nothin' that any of you heard leaves this room." he said, closing his Outlook account then logging off the tablet. "If I hear any of you said somethin' about it then I'm turnin' you over to a Sarn't I know who knows his way 'round the human body with a knife. We clear?"

"Clear, sir." the LCPO (Leading Chief Petty Officer) said. Rosoft took a breath before leaving Radio Central. Instead of returning to the Mess Decks to finish his card game he went to the smoke deck, taking a near empty pack of cigarettes out and lighting up. That night would be a sleepless one, not unlike the nights spent after his trial by fire in October of 1993.

Back at Yokota, five C-17 Globemasters touched down and disgorged their cargo. Two of the cargo planes had carried the QLM-3 Lythronax arguestes Lancers thad made up the Hammerheads. Two more carried the QHL-2 Archers, and the last carried weapons and a UH-60L Black Hawk with SDI Markings. SDI personnel took time reassembling the Archers for flight, checking the rotor assemblies then stepping back as armorers loaded the helicopter Lancers with a self defense load of 200 rounds of 30mm cannon rounds, two AGM-114K Hellfires, one Hydra-70 rocket pod, an ECM pod, and five rounds of 105mm Hotel Echo for their howitzers.

"Alright, let's get moving to Atsugi!" Colonel Segovia called out over her radio from the jumpseat of the Black Hawk.

"Yokota Tower, Archer Lead, requesting permission to take off." Archer Lead reported, his rotors spun up.

"Archer Lead, Yokota Tower, you have permission for takeoff. Have flight plan logged for flight to Atsugi Air Base. Will transfer control to them once you're airborne." the radioman in the tower replied.

"Roger that. Break, Archers, check in."

"Archer two, ready to roll."

"Archer tree, good to go."

"Archer fower, let's go."

"Archer fife, gimme orders."

"Archer six, gettin' bored."

"Archers, to the sky." Archer lead ordered. The AI controlled helos took off, the Black Hawk following along. At the same time, well off the coast, the Yellow Jackets, QF/A-18F Drone Hornets and their EF/A-18G Growler monitoring jet, touched down on the USS George Washington. Already the pilots of the carriers fighter squadrons were discussing amongts themselves as to whether or not they could take the AI controlled warplanes.

"I'm going to want to take a look at Archer Six' processor when we get to Atsugi. This is the fourth time he's done that." Colonel Segovia said to one of her technicians as they flew away from Yokota. back on deck, Sergeant Wilks was introducing Carbine to...

"...my Squad of Ultimate Bad Asses, Carbine. State of the Bad Ass Art!"

"How unfortunate that you would all suffer the same malformation to have 'bad asses'." Carbine snarked with a near audiable grin, knowing full well what he said, but was also prepared to play the 'just a machine' card.

"I see we've got a smart ass on our hands." [Sledge]Hammerhead mused. "I'm [Sledge]Hammerhead, the squad leader. To my left is [Jack]Hammerhead, our Air Defense specialist."

"What goes up, I bring down."

"To my right is [Steam]Hammerhead, our anti-tank sniper."

"They don't feel a thing. Or see it comin' for that matter."

"And the fellow with the oversized arm is [Claw]Hammerhead. He's our breacher/jammer."

"Crush... Crush everything... Crush this, crush that, crush it all..."

"Easy, [Claw.] We're on standby. Go in stasis, or something." [Jack] said, patting his fellow Hammerhead on the shoulder.

"Carbine, I trained these four up at Fort Irwin. Guess you could call 'em my kids." Wilks said, looking up at Carbine. The YLM-3 Lythronax arguestes was originally designed as a bridge between the Medium and Heavy Lancers, sort of a Main Battle Lancer. At some point in development it was decided to turn it into an AI weapons platform instead of a manned machine. For the purposes of their deployment the Hammerheads were being explained as Drone Lancers to the Self Defense Forces. They were still quite bitter about the slaughter.

"I see myself as a drone being limited by a human component. This is not an insult, merely fact." Carbine said, as he scanned the lancers in front of him.

"Sorry to hear that. Were I capable of such then I'd empathize with you." [Sledge] replied.

"Squishies... Squishies squish real good... Fight on ground. Fight in air..." [Claw] muttered.

"The boys do a lot of trainin' with Soldiers an' Marines at Fort Irwin. Most of the time they win. Other times, not so much, but it's a learnin' experience every time." Wilks said. "Were it up to me I'd leave you an' the squad to fight on your own but they tell me I've gotta be in the cockpit. Somethin' 'bout givin' the impression that I'm controllin' these four."

"I can understand why people would feel threatened by advanced AI." Carbine stated factually. "We're a big threats in the hands of those too inept to command us properly, which would account for a large percentage of humanity."

"Man, you'd love to hang out with Desolator. You an' him think a lot a like. Speakin' a which, you like music?" Wilks asked. "The boys like rock. Some classic stuff, some new stuff. You should see what they do when I put Ministry on."

"Hayden familiarized me with 'the classics' and thus I am fairly certain I could 'rock you like a hurricane.'" Carbine said, meaning it in a litteral sense.

[Jack]Hammerhead clapped his servos and laughed. "I see what you did there! I like you already."

"I think so too. Too bad [Ballpeen]Hammerhead and [Air]Hammerhead are gonna miss this." [Steam] said, shaking the armored dome housing sensor equipment and radar that the Hammerheads called a head.

"Yes, it is good to collect as much data on today's allies as possible." Carbine said, he would have nodded, but unfortunately his new body was minus a proper head.

"Welp, I'mma leave you boys to socialize with each other. T'morrow we'll introduce you to the manned Lancers." Wilks paused. "Except for Carbine, cuz he already knows them."

"We can ask Carbine what to expect. He's got one up on us as is." [Sledge] replied.

"You do that. Play nice, y'hear?" Wilks said before turning to head for the barracks.

"Crush...." [Claw] muttered.

"Carbine, [Claw] has issues. We think it's part of his training. I would say 'Nature VS Nurture' but I'm not sure that would apply to an AI." [Sledge] said.

"Depending on the AI some can be programmed to respond to stimuli in manners similar to that of humans. I was designed to adapt to combat situations on the fly with resoursefullness, and efficiency that would surpass an ace." Carbine explained. "However I am not sure if it is a mental illness or a simple design flaw that plagues your ally."

"Prolly a little bit a' Column A an' a little bit of Column B. Who knows." [Steam] said.

---

Summary
-Policing the Moostache. Mac makes himself look like a soldier again. He and agents Pierce and Rockwell are attached to 15th28th AI as a cover.
-Platoon redeploys to Yokota. SDI Assets deployed to both Yokota and Atsugi Air Base. And the carrier.
-Brigadier Rosoft gets a call from someone he hasn't heard from in years.
-It's enough to rattle him to smoke cigarettes instead of his usual pipe.
-Meanwhile, Wilks introduces Carbine to the Hammerheads.
-Carbine can 'rock you like a hurricane.'
-[Carbine] Has joined your party.
-[Claw]Hammerhead has issues.
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Skorpynekomimi

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Posts: 96

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Thu Apr 28, 2016 1:54 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Broken Wings
Location: FGTL HQ
Timestamp: Shortly after 10am, after the stabbing.
Authors: Arella, Skorpy, DarkTan, O-Ring, Hyuuint

---

Lucius winced as he further settled in next to Arella, his bandages still showing red patches from where his healing hadn't quite caught on yet. Katrina stirred slightly; she had opted to stay awake as long as vampirically possible, but even dhampirs need to sleep eventually. The blue haired woman was still conscious of Arella's wounds even while unconscious, and cuddled up to the younger girl without disturbing a single injured area - or, indeed, the kitty likewise curled up in the crook of the magical girl's neck. It was a peaceful scene overall, if one could ignore the fact that it all took place in what was essentially a hospital room.

Some time later, the peace was interrupted by the sound of a certain wolfgirl dashing through the infirmary, before finally bursting into Arella's current room. "Ella, are you okay?!" Alexis asked (loudly), before she'd even finished opening the door.

"Oh for fuck's sake," the now awake Katrina said, far too loudly, "Stop trying to wake up the--! Oh, hiiii Lexi," Katrina gave the wolfgirl a fanged grin, knowing how much it unnerved the poor girl.

Lucius stirred and looked up from the other side of Arella, growling at the newcomer and baring pointy catboy teeth.

Alexis shuddered a bit at the fanged grin before the growling of a catboy led to the customary growling in return as per page seven, article three, sub-section one-point-eight of the canine and feline code of conduct. Which, of course, also meant Ash had to get involved as well.

Arella mumbled something about earthquakes and peeked an eye open.

Katrina turned her head ever so slowly, much like a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar when she hears the clearing of her mother's throat, "M...morning..."

"W'time'sit?" the magical girl wanted to know, after letting out a big (adorable) yawn.

Katrina rolled a will save against going "D'awwwww," and won, "Um... I never wear a watch. Luc? Lexi?"

"I have a pocket watch." Alexis said, ceasing the growling before checking her phone for the time. "Ten-thirty-ish." She answered, moving to the side of the bed. "Are you okay Ella?"

Arella tried to straighten out of her current curled up and snuggly position, only to remember that getting stabbed hurt, and sudden movements after getting stabbed really hurt, and end up freezing mid-straightening while a whimper escaped her. 'Cause owwwwww.

Lucius' attention snapped back to Arella, caressing her gently and nuzzling her neck as he purred reassuringly.

Alexis reached out to help her, only to realize there wasn't much she could do at the moment. She paused to contemplate for a minute before her ears perked with realization. "I got you something!" She remembered, pulling a Raven plushie from her coat. "I thought you would like it, because... Well. You know." She said as she placed the plushie between Arella and Lucius. "Sorry I couldn't have been here faster. I was on the other side of the city when I heard."

"Oh em eff gee that is so freaking adorable," Katrina gushed, momentaily forgetting she's supposed to be a half-vampire badass.

"I know right! I found a bunch of them in some of the piles of plushies in my room and I wanted to give one to Arella." Alexis said excitedly, also forgetting she's not supposed to like cute things. "It even snarks!" Alexis exclaimed, before reclaiming the plushie to give it a small squeeze.

"Don't make me start quoting Shakespeare at you," the plushie snarked, causing Arella to giggle.

Which also hurt, but the act of giggling released endorphins, which rather helped to make up for it.

Katrina let aout a mild squee, "I want three of 'em!"

Lucius snickered. 'Does it throw tantrums if ye ignore it, tae?'

"Kat," Arella promptly requested, her tone clearly asking the dhampir to hit Lucius for her, since moving rather hurt at the moment.

*WHAP*

Lucius swore loudly in Gaelic, clutching at his own stab wound.

"Oops," the dhampir said rather sheepishly, "Forgot about... sowwy."

Alexis practically ignored Lucius in favor of giving Arella her plushie. "I hope you feel better soon."

The magical girl gave her new plushie a hug, and Alexis a smile of thanks, which she was just about to voice when her mind seemed to properly catch up with things. Then her blue eyes went wide with alarm, and she clearly had to work very hard to keep from bolting upright and fussing. "How did Luc get hurt?!" Arella ended up demanding instead.

"Whisky accident!" Katrina blurted out far too quickly and far too loudly for it to even remotely resemble the truth.

Lucius rolled his eye. 'Aye. Still exploded. Glass an' shards of ceramic everywhere.'

"You went after them, didn't you!" was the wounded magical girl's response, thoroughly ignoring the obvious excuses and not even really asking - she knew them, after all.

Katrina wasn't sure what to do or say, so she just wibbled at Alexis instead.

"That's what I was gonna do here in a bit." Alexis answered honestly.

"You're not helping," Katrina muttered under her breath.

Lucius sighed heavily. 'Aye.' He never could lie to Arella like that. 'Firs' scunner was all carved up by the second, an' he tried tae dae it tae me.'

"Ouch." Alexis noted.

Lucius nodded. 'Aye. I escaped out the windae when he tried tae blow me up.'

"And hobbled your way here?" Alexis asked with a perked ear. "You're pretty tough."

'I ken so.' Lucius shrugged. 'I donnae remember gettin' here. Las' I ken was tryin' tae hail a taxi.'

"Maybe the taxi came, or Jason teleported you or something?" Alexis wondered out loud.

Skorpion stepped in, frowning. "NOBODY is going after him alone. Not after what he did to Lucius, and apparently to the guy who first stabbed Arella." He moved over to the bed, stroking Arella's hair tenderly despite the heavy armour he was wearing, and earning an affectionate smile from the girl as he did so. "Least of all you, Alexis. You're a sniper, and he's a stealthy close combat specialist. Right now, my plan is to find him, then we take him down together. He's a Land Warrior." He held up a hand to forestall questions. "And yes, I know, I was the only survivor. The last time I saw him, he was dead on a slab and stone cold, so somehow he got better."

'Ye came back from the dead after tha'.' Lucius pointed out. 'Dragged yer rottin' arse back out from hell itself.'

Skorpion nodded. "I had a backup, though. And even then, I lost a few months, and it was an experiment."

'Ye didnae even ken it'd WORK?' Lucius asked in alarm. 'An' wha'd happen if'n ye didnae come back RIGHT?'

"I left instructions on that, actually." Skorpion replied smugly. "Either the new me would learn from the notes I left for that eventuality, or you'd put him back down and make sure he stayed that way."

'... Ye didnae ask me about any o' tha'...'

"No, because it would only have caused more trouble. Anyway! Lexi, you and your siblings were designed to take me down as a team, yes? Well, I figure we adapt that plan for our new friend here, and even the odds a bit with support."

"Actually, we were designed to take any remaining Land Warriors down," Alexis responded.

"Alll remaining being me, then, unless the bastards knew Mickey is somehow up and about." Skorpion rolled his eyes. "Which wouldn't surprise me in the least, frankly. They're next on the list, by the way. We deal with Mickey, we get Elsie and Tali home, and then we take out those dicks who keep cranking out super soldiers because they won't learn otherwise. Also because I promised Devin."

"Not sure if we should keep that on the backburner for too long, but meh." Alexis shrugged.

"Taking down Mickey has to be a priority." Skorpion pointed out. "Look what he did to Arella, just to send a message. As for Elsie, I don't want her wrapped up in the whole revenge thing, and the launch window for Devin's mission is approaching fast."

"You really get caught up in a lot'a shit all the time don't you?" Alexis asked, crossing her arms with a raised eyebrow.

Skorpion shrugged. "It comes with being a rogue super-soldier. You'd better get used to it."

"Guess it's better than being bored."

"That's the spirit." Skorpion smiled, patting her on the head gently. "So, Lucius. You went after him?"

Lucius nodded. 'Aye. Scunner blew me up.'

"Grenade launcher, was it?"

'Aye. Built intae the back o' his glaive, along wi' a generator o' some sort. Could feel the energy comin' off the thing. An' yeah, he's definitely one o' you. Big, nasty, quotes stuff about ye like he's been readin' yer NSA files. Nae hair, though, an' scars all o'er his head.'

Skorpion sighed. "Alright. Arella, are you okay? Feeling better?"

"Yup!" the magical girl rather blatantly lied, simply because she didn't want anyone to worry about her. Of course, the fact that she still couldn't move without shooting pain kinda spoiled the attempt, but she got points for effort. She also needed to add, because she was still rather upset about it, "He even knew what kinda panties I was wearing, by the way. How on earth did he know what kinda panties I was wearing?" And that Luc gave them to her, but she wasn't about to announce that to her dad.

"Presumably, he's been tracking your cards, and your phone. Maybe even the tr... I mean, the safety stuff built into your Raven outfit." Skorpion frowned. "That's gonna need even more encryption."

"Doesn't that mean he'd be able to track down pretty much anyone here?" Alexis asked.

"And you can say trackers, I know you use them on everything," Arella pointed out.

"Only if he gets hold of the codes, which I'm going to start changing constantly now. Without them, all he can do is tell if someone nearby is emitting signals, and THAT can be disabled by setting everything to passive, if it isn't already." Skorpion sighed. "If he's in the computer system already, then he'll be able to keep track of the codes, though, so all the access codes for THAT need to change. That means all the passwords as well, and I probably need to reset the AI as well."

'On the bright side, at least he cannae hack the ROUS.' Lucius pointed out.

"Not unless he solders a phone to their brain, no."

Arella's mouth suddenly twitched, threatening a grin in spite of the seriousness of the situation, as her life suddenly alligned for a Buffy quote. "I think I speak for everyone here when I say, huh?" she rather cheerily recited, while also somehow managing to retain the quote's proper tone. And also still not moving, because injured.

Skorpion sighed, and turned his head, lifting up his ponytail to show the ports set into the back of his neck. "Implants. If he wires the guts of a phone into a brain, he can use that to interface with it remotely. In theory, at least; I've not tried it, because that's unethical, dangerous, and has this horrible tendency of killing the test subjects, which is why the Land Warriors got canned in the first place."

"Oh," was Arella's rather subdued reply, the reality of the thing rather taking the fun out of her getting to use the line.

Skorpion nodded. "Oh indeed. Just don't plug your phone into your brain, and you should be alright. And don't let it connect to stuff in your house, either, or he might take control of that with a virus. You don't want the toaster ambushing you in the bath, or your curling iron attacking you while you sleep." He paused thoughtfully. "In fact, we probably need to step up security there. Again."

"It'd be easier if she just stayed here for the time being." Alexis casually suggested.

Skorpion nodded. "That was going to be my second suggestion, in fact. Our security is already top-notch, and we've already got a room for her."

"But what about all my stuff?" an understandably concerned Arella wanted to know. "And, y'know, my clothes. And the food in my fridge, that'll go bad! And my-- and--" And a certain pendant she kept hidden beneath some floorboards, which nobody else knew about. She still didn't exactly want to retrieve it, but it couldn't be safe to just leave it there, either.

"I'll send a few guys and a truck to clear the place. Being Largoists, they'll probably take care of your food as well. As for your -" Skorpion managed to somehow vocalise the pause. "When you're better, we can go pick it up."

"...Okay," the magical girl allowed, though she didn't look terribly happy about it. "Can you make sure all my books and things end up in my room here, not in storage? And Ash needs all her kitty things. Actually, the kitty things she could probably use, like, now. She might be hungry. Or need to pee."

Ash's purring suddenly seemed to fill the room in a clear show of approval. Kitties came first, after all.

"I'll get some food for her before she tries eating your boyfriend." Skorpion assured the magical girl. "Might have to extend your room first, though, but it'll all make it there."

Lucius glared at Ash. 'Try it, an' ye'll be more flyin' squirrel'n a cat.'

The grey cat just glared at The Boyfriend while Arella rather absently rewarded her with scritches. If cats were given to sticking their tongues out at people, she no doubt would have followed up with that, secure in the knowledge that her human would kill him first.

---

"Shiori."

"This is her, how can I help you?" Shiori asked, through her flip phone. She was in the middle of some work with other folks at the moment, but she managed to spare a free hand.

"Arella's been hurt. She's in the infirmary at FGTL HQ. Come see her." Skorpion continued.

"She...Ok, gimme a few minutes, I'll be there." Setting her work aside, Shiori made herself more presentable, gave an explanation to her "boss," and made her way there as soon as she could.

---

A short while after Skorpion made his call, the door to Arella and Lucius' room opened up once more, though a fair bit more slowly and respectfully than the last couple times. "Hello?"

Skorpion looked up, and headed over to guide Shiori back outside. "Before you talk to her, I need to have a word."

All he got in response was a raised eyebrow, but she didn't fight his direction.

Skorpion shut the door after them, and sighed. "She wasn't just hurt; she was attacked. By someone trying to send a message to me." He explained. "A very dangerous someone. A Land Warrior like myself, only he was meant to be dead." Skorpion paused, realising something. "And yes, I know I was dead before as well. But he was completely dead, and they didn't have a backup system in place, because I invented that myself. He's apparently hunting super-soldiers, and trying to attack people to draw me out, probably because I know who he is."

The superlady took all that in, contemplating. "Hunts supersoldiers. Meaning I, several students, and many others are on his hitlist." She hrrrmed to herself before asking: "What do you remember about him? Height, weight, personality, weak points, so forth? And have you contacted someone about this? Old allies, new ones? And if there was no backup, could that mean that someone took his place, mentally?"

"Yes. About my height, but lighter and slimmer. Fairly standard template. He was an asshole, but I met him on the SHIELD helicarrier and he was much more controlled. No weak points, other than a constant need for calories. And not yet; it only happened last night. Not many old allies left, and I think he's already gotten to some of them. As for new allies..." He gestured through the door. "Lucius went after him, and got sliced up and blown up. Tiffaney knows, as do her children, and I'm talking to you about this now. " He reeled off, addressing her questions in turn. "Also, I'm giving you the same warning as everyone else; do NOT go after him, especially not alone. He is dangerous, and he'll likely know all about you as well. Strengths, weaknesses, what you ate for breakfast, what underwear you're wearing, the lot. Reports are that he hunts for sport, so he'll probably toy with you before trying to kill you. If he engages you, disengage, retreat, and call for backup."

"Not planning on going after him if I don't know what entirely I am up against. As for taking him on, that would depend on the situation. If I am in a spot where others would be compromised, I'll send a signal, but I will be doing my best to prevent him from using them as a means to 'get at me,' or others for that matter.' Shiori crossed her arms, tilting her hips into a thoughtful stance. "Why not try contacting Brittany? I know she did so recently with you, and that means you have a way of doing so with her. She always leaves trace tech behind for folks she feels confident with. Her brains and connections could help."

"They could, I admit, but I'm unwilling to involve more people that could be potential targets." Skorpion frowned. "Also, he's stealthy. Near-silent, and has some sort of invisibility system. He can even make himself invisible in infra-red, so be careful. You might want to step up bot patrols at the academy, as well. And here." He reached into a pocket, handing her what looked like an old brickphone. "If he attacks, use this to call for backup or support. It's as secure as I can make it, and it should survive anything short of armour-piercing bullets." He tapped the phone on the nearby wall, denting the wall slightly. "Don't use the support options lightly, don't call for artillery or air support indoors unless you want it to become outdoors in a hurry, and there's a laser designator instead of the flashlight. Don't shine it in your eyes, or at anything you don't want a bomb to land on. It also has GPS, standard text messaging, and polyphonic ringtones."

While appreciative, Shiori gave the phone a very odd look. "Hoo. This is gonna take some getting used to. I'm more accustomed to this." She pulled out the old flipphone she used regularly.

"The main difference is security settings, and the lack of a weak hinge in the middle." Skorpion commented. "About the same age, so they should take the same charger. If not, there's a compatible one in the back of a drawer somewhere. There always is."

"Will check." She paused a moment. "Thank you."

Skorpion nodded. "You're welcome. Just don't get yourself killed; you're too useful to the academy, and Arella likes you." He stepped away from the door, allowing her access to it again.

"The killed part is the one that could be near impossible." Shiori remarked, before stepping into the room.

"Hey Shiori." Alexis greeted with a half-wave, while Arella gave a smile and a wave of her own.

"Hey," Shiori greeted in return, before she made her way to the two injured folks. "Now, you two need to tone down the kinky stuff just a smidge, ya know?" She smirked at them before relenting. "I will get my own feelers out for the guy so that we may have some means of defense or something. Get the usual people involved and such. How are you two feeling, so to speak?" Shiori looked between the two, bending down enough to get eye level with them.

'Been better.' Lucius commented. 'Been worse, though. I'm nae dead.' Lucius commented, trying to ogle Shiori's assets as she bent over, while trying not to let Arella notice his doing so. 'But 'Rella's safe, so tha's the importan' part, ken?'

"Oh definitely, no question there." She nodded, not even noticing Lucius' eyes thanks to her keeping her own on Arella.

Alexis on the other hand did notice, though instead of bringing attention to it she made the 'cut it out' jesture to him whilst the others were distracted.

Lucius tried to level a glare at Alexis, hampered somewhat by the lack of an eye and any eyebrows.

Alexis grinned mockingly, closing an eye and bending her pointer finger in the shape of a hook, before lipping 'arrr' at him.

Lucius growled softly as a chair hit Alexis in the back of the knees.

Alexis stumbled for a moment, lightly growling back before she figured she probably deserved that one for mocking an injured person. She placed the palms of her hands together in apology before pointing to her eyes, then pointing to Shiori. The wolfgirl then quietly moved to nudge Katrina (who also couldn't help but stare).

Shiori looked between the folks doing odd movements (her attention was caught with the chair thing) before she got her own chair and sat down wherever she could. "This is all sorts of wrong. Gonna have to keep an eye out for this jerk."

Arella, meanwhile, was quite aware of everything that had been going on, and followed it up with a not-too-hard swat at her boyfriend. Both for the staring, and for the chair thing. Then further followed it up with a bit of blatant lying, to keep people from worrying. "I'm fine, really," the magical girl promised. "So don't worry about me. And I know we can all take him if we work together - power of friendship and all that. And KitKat, do stop staring." The latter bit of chastening was said with entirely too much affection to be remotely effective.

"I tried." Alexis said with a shrug before leaning against a wall.

Lucius grumbled; of course Kat could get away with it.

"I feel I was fair in trying to stop both of you." Alexis had to state.

Shiori simply reddened when she realized who was being stared at, but stayed in her seat nonetheless. "And I am sure we can, but until we get a good idea of who and what we're up against, we had better keep to the defensive." She also leaned over to Arella and sotto whispered "And I understand what ya mean. It's ok." Leaned back, gave both Lucius and Kat a look apiece, then relaxed a small bit.

"We WILL beat him." Skorpion added. "We have to." Mostly because he'll kill us if we don't. He added mentally; avoiding saying it so as not to upset Arella.

---

"Interesting. The rogue has a fortress. Two, since those aircraft came from somewhere." Machariah mused, observing FGTL HQ through binoculars from one of the abandoned houses surrounding it. "I will require one of my own, as well as a force to occupy it."

---

"Elsie, NO!" a familiar voice could be heard rather desperately objecting from somewhere out in the hall. Word of the attack on Raven had trickled down the magical girl gossip vine, and the poor girl had raced off to check on her mother without a second thought.

And Tali was actually really bad at outright stopping her niece from doing something she really, desperately wanted to do, and was likely to outright cry over. Thus, she'd been reduced to merely chasing after the younger girl while ineffectually trying to talk her out of trying to see her not-yet-mother.

"Spoilers and stuff, remember?" the older teen desperately tried to remind her. "What if the reapers show up and destroy everything, then we'll never get home! And... and there could be paradoxes and stuff! What would the Doctor say?" And Elsie was already nearly in tears, and panicked as only a magical girl could be, and there was no way Tali could actually stop her when she was so clearly hurting like that.

Skorpion fielded the magical girls at the door, picking Elsie up in a hug of attempted comfort but also definitely lifting her up off the floor. "Watch the spoilers there. She's mostly okay; your father came off far worse. And you probably don't want to see that." He cautioned, reaching down to hug Tali as well while juggling Elsie to stop her running off.

But the little magical girl just let out a wail the likes of which had probably never before been heard, immediately fighting to escape her grandad's hold in order to get to her mother. Nothing was going to keep her from making sure her mother was going to be okay! Desperate, panicky, and noisy tears immediately followed, while Tali continued to look decidedly unhappy and more than a little distressed by Elsie's obvious distress.

There was also a definite chance the older teen might be willing to take on her not-yet-dad to help get Elsie in there, if that was what the cutegirl really wanted. Because this was Elsie - and an upset Elsie, at that.

Skorpion sighed, managing to keep hold of the wriggling magical girl. "Alright, alright, you can go in. But be gentle, and quiet, okay?" He asked, holding her out at arms length.

Given that she was still rather busy with the crying, Elsie had to settle for nodding her response, even though said crying was pretty obviously already ruining the quiet part. She was also still trying to escape, because someone was preventing her from getting to her mother, and you just didn't do that.

And of course, the rather noisy display hardly managed to go unnoticed from within the room itself, and a decidedly concerned Arella's voice could soon be heard calling, "Dad? What's going on, is somebody hurt?" something about her tone suggesting she might just try and get up to help if that was the case. Seriously, she sucked at self-preservation.

Skorpion stepped through the door, setting Elsie down once he was inside. "Yes, you are. Elsie here heard that Arella-sensei was hurt, so she's come to make sure you're okay. And Tali's here with her, because she attacks anyone who tries to separate them."

Lucius looked over at Elsie as she ran to the bed, swaying a little. 'So upset fer her teacher, aye?'

Sniffling adorably and scrubbing at the tears that stained her face, Elsie turned those biiiiig blue eyes up on Arella and rather tremulously asked, "Are you gonna be okay?" Some small motion, cut off almost at once but still there, seemed to suggest at an instinct or desire to climb up onto the bed for cuddles.

Arella's reassuring smile, meanwhile, seemed somehow softer than usual, though not even she could have said why. "I'll be right as rain in no time, I promise," she assured, holding a hand out in clear invitation; she couldn't stand to see the poor girl so upset, and Elsie was just so adorable, she kinda wanted to keep her.

The next few seconds saw Elsie clambering up onto the bed, shoes and all, and promptly tucking herself into her not-yet-mother's side, while Arella instinctively cuddled the young girl and tried very hard to keep anyone from noticing that she hadn't so much as lifted her head throughout the entire exchange because she was actually getting super tired again.

"Are you okay?" a slowly-calming Elsie finally asked of her not-yet-father.

Lucius nodded. 'Aye, lassie. I'll be fine in a while. Donnae worry about me.' He reached out to pat the girl on the head, taking a few tries to get his hand on target, and earning a tiny giggle from the increasingly calmer magical girl. 'Sorry, lassie; nae depth perception.'

Elsie just about beamed up at him, feeling much better now that she knew her parents were going to be alright, and even more better because of the much-missed cuddles she was getting from Arella. Tali, meanwhile, had been reduced to rather awkwardly skulking about the door, now that her niece no longer needed helping or stopping, and had stopped crying.

Skorpion stepped in to pat Tali's shoulder gently. "They'll be alright. Arella's getting the best medical care I can give her, and Lucius..." Skorpion paused, shrugging. "He's healed from worse. We got the glass and shrapnel out of him, and Eva even managed to pick out a few old bullets, so maybe he won't set off metal detectors."

"That would be awesome," Katrina chimed in, returning with a plate of mostly deep-fried foods and a bag that suspiciously seemed to contain a certain home brew alcohol, at least if the trail of EOD robots trailing the dhampir was any indication. "Who's the... oh, Elsie~ Came to check up on your teachers?"

"Hai~" the cutegirl happily confirmed from Arella's side, looking exceedingly content at the moment.

Lucius reached out to tug one of the deep-fried somethings to him from the plate, only for it to fly over and hit him in his remaining eye with a splash of hot sauce. He winced, narrowly avoiding cursing in front of the three magical girls.

Katrina couldn't help but giggle, but stopped suddenly, studying Arella and Elsie together before leaning over to Skorpion, "They look a lot alike, don't they?" the dhampir whispered to the supersoldier.

Skorpion nodded. "Almost uncanny. Best not mention it, though.." He replied, leaning down to whisper back to Katrina. "Spoilers."

"I knew it!" Katrina hissed, "She's a time traveler, right?"

"Spoilers." Replied Skorpion, tapping his nose. "Incidentally, have you met Tali yet?"

"She's Arella from the past, isn't she?" Katrina bounced, completely ignoring Skorpion.

"What?" Skorpion sighed. "Whatever. Believe what you want."

The dhampir merely suppressed a squee.

"Anyway. Kat, meet Tali; she's another time-traveler. Tali, meet Kat. You already know who she is, I'm sure."

"KitKat," Tali more than a little teasingly acknowledged, knowing full well that only Arella ever called her that, and finding the nickname immensely amusing. Also, mockery could be fun. And she was a teenager.

Katrina just eyed the teenager suspiciously, thereby earning a very self-satisfied grin.

Alexis' ear flickered at the conversation involving time travel. She looked to her sides before moving behind Skorpion and jumping on his back. "That's an interesting thing you just whispered about."

Skorpion reached up to pet Alexis' ears, barely moving from the sudden addition of her weight. "Spoilers! They're transfer students from Kyoto due to a teleporter accident." Skorpion looked around the room, before shrugging. Not like there was anyone around who DIDN'T already know about the time travel thing now. "Unofficially, it was a time travel accident rather than a teleporter, and that's why Devin's going off to chase down an asteroid in a few months."

"And you say I'm a trouble magnet." Alexis said with a grin and a raised eyebrow, her tail wagging.

"Well, you ARE." Skorpion pointed out. "But not, apparently, as much as Lucius."

Lucius shrugged, wiping hot sauce from his eye with the back of his hand. 'Nae my fault stray magical girls arrive there.' He protested, before licking the sauce from his hand.

"Magical girls? Showing up at a Magical Girl school? I'll contact the psychiatric ward, because clearly this is insanity." Alexis snarked with a cocky grin, despite the fact that she was still on Skorpion's back. She was promptly rewarded with a snort of laughter from Tali.

"Unthinkable, I know. But this time machine's an old enemy of Lucius', so I figure it's been attracted by him."

'Nae an enemy, jus' a thorn in my side fer...' Lucius paused, trying to figure out the correct pronouns to use. Eventually, he gave up. 'Fer a long while, until we managed tae get it tae respond tae the controls. Far I'm concerned, we're better off wi'out the scunner; get the girls back, an' send it off tae Mars or somethin'.'

Skorpion sighed. "I assume that's what you tried to do with it last time, and it doesn't appear to have helped much."

"Kinda made things worse, actually," Tali 'helpfully' added.

"I say we blow it up when we're done. If it doesn't exist anymore they can't be sent back by it." Alexis suggested.

"That would cause a paradox, though." Skorpion sighed. "If it's not there in their time, then they can't be sent back here to cause us to get hold of it from out there, so it won't be there in their time for them to be sent back to here." He explained, as if it made perfect sense. "I'll probably just lock it inside a container and stash it in a warehouse labelled as spare pallets or something."

"Brilliant," came the teen's sarcastic reply, establishing that not even Skorp was to be excluded from her sass.

"Unless, of course, that whole 'The Future is Already Written' thing is true; then someone else would just end up building a different time machine, possibly sending them back as older, more experienced time travelers," Katrina pointed out, surprising everyone with theories on things other than killing and bedding strangers. "What? I like Terminator."

'Aye, or some OTHER bastard time machine'd come outta nowhere, problae fulla nazis like tha' one was, an' cause a whole nother string o' adventures an' bein' chased by dinosaurs an' tryin' nae tae cut ourselves on crystal spires in the future.' Lucius grumbled. He REALLY hated time travel. And dinosaurs. He really, really, REALLY hated dinosaurs.

"That would be awesome!" Katrina exclaimed, "Arella could wibble at a pack of velociraptors until they let us ride them!"

"I already have a raptor," Tali rather idly informed, as if this was totally normal.

Lucius shuddered at the mention of raptors.

"We could test that if I get that Nublar cleanup contract. It's down to the final stages now, and I think I'm in with a pretty good chance." Skorpion mused.

"Always wondered what a T-Rex would taste like..." Alexis wondered from her perch on Skorpion's back.

'Gigantic chicken.' Lucius answered with authority. 'The big plant-eaters are better. More like beef, y'ken?'

"Well that's not exciting at all..." Alexis answered.

'Catchin' 'em tae eat 'em is the excitin' part. We only ate it 'cause the scunner beastie ate...' Lucius trailed off, trying to remember a name. 'Well, ate the robot, anyway, an' we got bored o' tailin' it waitin' fer him tae come out the other end.'

"Gross." Alexis replied flatly.

'Aye.'

Meanwhile, Arella had drifted off to sleep again, and the contented little magical girl curled into her side wasn't long in following her. Though it really shouldn't have been possible, the two of them somehow managed to be even cuter while sleeping cuddled up together.

---

Summary:

Lucius/Arella/Kat snuggle time is interrupted by Alexis.
Grrrr.
Grrrr!
Here, have a Raven plushie.
It speaks, too!
Smacking the catboy for snark = PAIN.
Kat can't lie to Arella. Nor can Lucius.
The truth is out! Lucius got hurt avenging Arella!
Skorp lays down the law; no solo attacks.

EXPOSITION!
Machariah is definitely a Land Warrior.
Lexi et al were definitely designed to take him down.
Skorp's backup system is unique and invented by him.
And that's not the guy Skorp knew, so who IS he? Really?

Arella's definitely moving into FGTL HQ now.

Shiori is summoned.

MOAR EXPOSITION!
He's sneaky and invisible sometimes and has a big sharp stick and knows lots of things.

Shiori is allowed into the room, and is ogled by Lucius.
Alexis mocks Lucius, and get chair'd.
Skorp promises that Machariah WILL be defeated.

Machariah observes FGTL HQ. He wants one.

Elsie and Tali appear. Elsie for sympathy cuddles with mama, Tali for spoilers.

Katrina gets the wrong end of the stick regarding Tali.
Aaand now Alexis knows about the time travel because ears.
May as well just announce it. But not WHO they are. Because paradoxes.
Debates on time travel.
Lucius hates time travel, dinosaurs, and nazis. Especially time-travelling nazi dinosaurs.
Also? T-rex tastes awful, and they take ages to pass anyone they eat.
Ewwww, TMI!
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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DarkTan

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Posts: 100

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Post Thu Apr 28, 2016 2:02 pm

Post Title Roulette

Well, THAT escalated quickly.
Location: OCSB
Characters: DT, Lola, TPCD, Shiori.
Authors: Skorpy, DT, Hyuuint.
Timestamp: The day after 'Broke Wings'.


---

Steam rolled over the top of the shower curtain, spilled to the floor as a low (and rather poor) singing voice could be heard. The water shut off as the singing, thankfully, stopped and a particular dhampir stepped out from the shower with a towel over his head. DarkTan finished drying his hair before wiping the fog from the now-cracked bathroom mirror. The seal on his chest holding back the influence of the Sadisticks was virtually gone; while all the injuries he'd sustained during the SHIELD raid had healed, ink didn't. He had managed to keep it hidden, touched up with Sharpies, so Lola didn't know. The ruse was aided by the fact that the leader of ORAZ hadn't had a nightmare since before the raid. In fact, he had been sleeping better than ever since then.

The dhampir sighed as he brushed his teeth and began the mundane tasks of preparing for the day ahead. He was scheduled for a cooking show first thing. American morning show, "Live with Regis and whatever woman was on it this week" or some such. They brought their own security and hazmat teams, so it was sure to be an interesting show. In the afternoon he was going to see a man about a boat; after all, he couldn't keep moving out of Largoist airstrips. Sooner or later, some countries were going to start denying his cargo based on the planes they were on. "The joys of being a business owner and a faction leader," DarkTan mumbled at the mirror, "I bet Asimov didn't have to deal with this."

---

Meanwhile, across town someone else was gearing up to start his day, "Lets move! All trucks ready to go, one hour!" Came the thick Russian accent, "We will reach Akihabara by nine. Team One plants generators and close tunnel. Team two take out towers. Not just offline. I want them ground. Team three puts snipers on perimeter. Teams four and five lock down the Dai building. Non-lethal only. We do not want civillian injuries or death. Everyone gets chance to leave. Disarm all security, use force only when needed!" Stone was shouting his orders to the heavily armed and mostly trained metas turned soldiers. He didn't know what Ozu's plan was, but Akihabara was going to be a safe haven. Weapon caches and mecha counter measures had been planted and stashed around the area.

If everything went according to plan, it would be less than ten minutes from arrival to control. Demands would be issued and personal property would be allowed to leave once the demands were met. As long as everyone complied, it's would be quick and clean. Anti-air and anti-mech guns would be assembled on the rooftop of the Dai Building. Blockades on all roads. The subway tunnel would be sealed.

And the TPCD would be busy elsewhere this morning, or so an imformant had claimed.

---

Kurosawa Ichigo was not having a good day. First he overslept, then the toaster burned his food. This was followed by the hot water heater choosing this morning to cease functioning. His bus was late. And now the train was being held up for maintenance. Something about a chemical spill, no one was allowed off the train yet. There were yellow suits everywhere. And he was pretty sure he caught a glimpse of a catgirl in one of them

Hatanaka Aiko had fallen asleep at her desk for the third time this week. Granted, she had a very comfortable chair in a corner cubicle, but still, it wasn't the sort of thing one should do. The young woman yawned, stretched, and got up to freshen up. "<That's weird,>" Aiko said as she saw the window washers making thier way up the tower. Not only was it well before the usual time for such activities, but every cart was moving up at the same time. And they were carrying a lot of stuff.

---

Lieutenant Daigo Sora was not happy with the orders he had been given last night. He was even less pleased with the minuscule time frame he was given. The thing that he found most irksome, however, was that it was a foreign government applying the pressure that caused all his other problems. Of course, then there was the operation itself. To say that he was displeased with that would be like stating the that surface of the sun was a bit on the warm side. Only a complete fool hell-bent on suicide would be happy about this mission: a raid on ORAZ.

---

Camera crews set up lights and cameras behind lexane barriers around DarkTan's prefered cooking stage. Ingredents were being brought in under armed guard in various locked containers ranging from a simple cooler to something resembling a bank vault. Regis looked more than a little nervouse and slightly overheated in his combat haz-mat suit, "So you're sure this is safe?"

"Of course it is," DarkTan lied smoothly, as he loaded a sawed off ten gauge.

"And the gun?"

"Theatrics," DarkTan gave a grin that would make small children cry for their mothers.

"Oh....kay..." Regis fidgeted, "And how are things with your co-host for today?"

At that moment a large screen turned on displaying Skorpion in his lab with a rocket motor in the background.

Skorpion grinned at the camera, holding an industrial remote in one hand and a cross between a spear and a spatula in the other, and wearing a chef's hat. His grin was the kind that would send ordanance disposal officers fleeing for their lives, and arms dealers reaching for their chequebooks. "Just peachy. Reactor's up to temperature, coolant is flowing nicely, just a little icing problem with the fuel supply."

"Makes a nice garnish," DarkTan grinned, "I've used it myself." Regis wet himself a little bit.

"Insulation breach; the fuel was fine, but the atmosphere in the storage room had condensed. You ever walk through dry ice floating in a layer of liquid oxygen?"

"I did once," DarkTan nodded, "But I don't remember much after that."

Skorpion chuckled. "I came out of it just fine, aside from the ice on my armour. I added a layer of aerogel to the armour just before that snowstorm, and it's worked a treat." He winked to the camera, before turning to the rocket motor behind him. "But she's doing just fine. Thanks for the loan of the cameras, by the way."

"Oh those are NBC's," DarkTan clarified to the mortified exression on Regis' face, "Oh come on, the ratings boost will more than make up for it."

Regis crossed himself and said nothing.

"Okay, we are live in five people!" A camera man announced.

DarkTan put on his apron proudly proclaiming "k!ss t3h c00k," and held his most disturbing smile possible. The camera man held up his hand with five fingers, then four, three, two... "Welcome to Cooking With DarkTan! I'm your host DarkTan and with us today is Regis Philbin and Skorpion of the Principality of Sealand. Say hi, Skorp!"

Skorpion turned to the camera and waved. "Hi, viewers. Today, we're going to learn about nuclear thermal rocketry."

"But Mr. Skorpion," Regis said, "What does that have to do with cooking?"

"Well, you see, the efficiency of a rocket engine is, in part, derived from the temperature of the exhaust." Skorpion pushed a button on his remote, causing the rocket motor to start shaking and vibrating; the nozzle quivering as liquid hydrogen was pumped through it. "For most chemical rockets, this is limited by the combustion of two cryogenic liquids. With a nuclear thermal rocket like this, however? You don't need oxidiser. Running the liquid hydrogen propellant through a nuclear reactor not only cools the reactor, but superheats the hydrogen as it passes through. This, combined with the nozzle, allows you to use that to suck more hydrogen through the system. Like so." Skorpion pushed another button, and the rocket ignited in a spray of superheated plasma. Skorpion grinned widely as the thrust cranked up, the exhaust blasting upwards into a chamber so high the ceiling was invisible. "NOW," Skorpion continued, shouting over the roar of the rocket. "NOW WE CAN MOVE THE FOOD ITEMS INTO THE EXHAUST IN ORDER TO ROAST THEM." He pushed another button, and a large spit was moved into the path of the superheated hydrogen. The multiple turkeys skewered on it rotated at high speed, held together by titanium wire as they cooked in mere seconds; the skin igniting as it was blasted away. "NUCLEAR THERMAL ROCKETS ALSO HAVE LOW THRUST COMPARED TO CHEMICAL ROCKETS, WHICH MAKES THEM IDEALLY SUITED FOR THIS SORT OF COOKERY. HIGH THRUST WOULD SIMPLY BLAST THE FOOD AWAY. THE HIGH SPECIFIC IMPULSE OF THE NUCLEAR FUEL ALSO MEANS LOWER OPERATING COSTS, ONCE YOU GET PAST THE INITIAL EXPENDITURE OF OBTAINING THE ENRICHED NUCLEAR FUEL, AND DODGING ANY UN WEAPONS TESTS."

Skorpion pushed the third button again, the turkeys moving out of the exhaust stream. He poked at them with his spear-tula, causing them to drip burning fat. "HOWEVER, IF YOU WANT HIGHER THRUST FOR, SAY, COOKING AN OMELETTE, WE CAN FEED LIQUID OXYGEN INTO THE EXHAUST, TO MAKE SOMETHING AKIN TO AN AFTERBURNER." He pushed another button, and the flame turned blue. "THIS MEANS YOU CAN SIMPLY THROW YOUR INGREDIENTS INTO THE EXHAUST, AND COLLECT THEM FURTHER DOWN THE LINE, COOKED TO PERFECTION." Skorpion grinned as he picked up a bucket, holding it up to the camera to show the mixture of eggs, milk, and meaty chunks inside it. He then turned, hurling the contents of the bucket into the rocket exhaust. They formed a roughly circular shape as they cooked, the cameras tracking the omelette as it went from liquid to solid and passed down the plume of exhaust. It was caught in a titanium net further up, and handed off to a robotic drone for delivery back to Skorpion.

Another button push, and the rocket shut off, leaving nothing but echoes and a red, glowing exhaust nozzle. "Now, of course, this could also be used to power spacecraft. But, as we all know, that's illegal under the Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963. However, the Principality of Sealand is not a signatory of said treaty, and that's all I'm going to say about THAT." Skorpion winked. "Back to you, DarkTan."

Before DarkTan could say a word, the doorway to the Cathedral exploded in a cloud of splinters. "<TPCD! Everyone down!>" The heavily armed and armoured officer in the lead bellowed. Within the blink of an eye, over a dozen more officers had come through the exploded doorway and newly shattered windows. "<Hands! Hands!>" MP5s were quickly leveled at cameramen and crew. Regis attempted to raise the arms of his hazmat suit, only to be severely restricted in the attempt.

"Warning, breach detected. Initiating lockdown," a computerized female voice said over the intercom, and then repeated in Japanese as blast shields clanged down over the windows and door with enough speed and force to cut a small car in half. "Please do not panic, ORAZ staff will be out to assist you."

"<Stand down!>" An officer leveled an M4 at DarkTan, "<What is happening!?!>"

DarkTan help both hands out in plain view, "<The automatic security protocols your boss required me to install,>" the leader of ORAZ said tersely, "<You blew up the door, they kicked in. Don't you people prepare before a raid?>"

"<The entire building is surrounded by mecha and gunships, nothing is leaving here,>" the officer replied and raised a hand, "<Detain everyone, sweep and clear!>"

"<How about a warrant?>" DarkTan growled, quickly starting to loose his patience.

"<How about a letter from the Health Department, Traffic and Safety, Building Inspector and Sonoda himself?>" The officer handed DarkTan the documents.

It was that moment that DarkTan's pocket loudly proclaimed, "HEY! LISTEN!" and proceded to repeat every second. "<Can I get that or are you going to futilely try to stop me?>" The officer nodded and DarkTan reached for his phone. It was a text from Kor. DarkTan clenched his jaw, his fang cutting his bottom lip. "<Get out.>"

"<What?>" The officer asked, and was echoed by Regis and half the crew.

The leader of ORAZ crushed the phone in his hand and was holding the previously mentioned shotgun at the officer's nose before anyone could even process that it had happened, "I said to get. The fuck. OUT!" He bellowed the last word with such force that one officer actually dropped his gun.

"<Fire!>" someone yelled. It was never determined who gave the order. DarkTan pointed the gun in the direction of the officer that yelled and let loose with both barrels before clubbing the officer in front of him with the empty weapon, ripping the M4 from his grasp. Short bursts of fire dropped three more officers; alive, but out of the fight. A fourth found out that polymer frames will break when swung hard enough at a helmet. "Hel!" the dhampir bellowed, "I'm going outside, make sure no one is there to stop me."

"Activating crowd control."

---

At the top spire of the Cathedral was a statue of the Rent-A-Zilla. Most people thought it was just that, a statue. There were no permits, plans, or even receipts to suggest otherwise. Therefore, when the MegaTokyo Police: Cataclysm Division showed up, not a single one of them even took the statue into consideration, let alone thought to keep an eye on it. This was unfortunate.

The statue emitted an electronically produced roar as the Zilla's head turned, red eyes locking on the nearest TPCD mech. The pilot of said mech did not notice. Nor did he see the burning orange and green glow coming from the statue's mouth. Nor was the faint dimming of the lights for three blocks around noticed. In fact, no one noticed anything until exactly .03 seconds before the burning ball of superheated plasma cannon fire tore through the armoured hull of the Patlabor, melted three feet in to the parking lot, and then exploded into a shower of molten shrapnel.

The response was instantanious; troops opened fire on the statue as automatic turrents poked out of fire ports and returned fire on the TPCD forces. Rockets and negative energy bolts impacted and lanced from the Cathedral walls as squad cars exploded and APCs were abandoned, riddled with holes. With that single command, DarkTan had turned the Cathedral's parking lot into a war zone.

---

"Well, shit. I didn't think they had the balls to actually do that." Skorpion remarked, munching on a turkey leg. He paused as a technician waved frantically at him, shouting something over the gurgle of the rocket's plumbing. "What do you mean, 'we're still live'?" Skorpion turned to look at the nearest camera, leaning in to tap on the lens. "Wait, we're still live? Why didn't anyone TELL me?"

The technician facepalmed hard enough to leave a mark.

Skorpion shrugged. "So, anyway. We may as well continue with the science education, yes? And don't give me that 'this is a cooking show' bollocks. DarkTan couldn't cook if you microwaved him. So, I'll let you in on a little secret. This turkey, that I cooked with a nuclear rocket? Not actually radioactive. Double-bonded hydrogen. The omelette? Probably lousy with it due to the cooking process, and I can't find where the bots left it anyway."

---

DarkTan neared the door and gave a look at the camera near it. The steel blast shield retracted, bringing him face to face with a H&K USP and Lieutenant Daigo behind it. "And that is going to do what, exactly?" DarkTan demanded.

"Stand down Canto, we've already disabled your weapons," the lieutenant said, "And your building is completely surrounded."

No one present saw the sword until it was suddenly pointed outside, covered in blood. One moment, DarkTan was clenching his fist. The next, there it was. A sword. Sticking right outta Daigo's back a good three feet. Daigo looked down at the sword, then back up at DarkTan, eyes wide in shock. DarkTan pulled the sword from the officer with a sound akin to slicing an orange. With a flick of the dhampir's wrist, blood covered the wall as he stepped past Daigo and out into the parking lot. "Give my regards to the Lady Most Kind and the Crooked Warden," DarkTan said as the officer's body hit the floor.

---

As DarkTan was starting his cooking show, Stone was starting a show of his own. At exactly 9:00AM, his teams executed their plan. In the subway, chemical suits were dropped as metas and kenonomimi brandished shotguns loaded with bean bags and locked down the trains, effectively blocking other trains from moving through the tunnel. They would be dealt with once reports came in of the other team's success.

Team two had finished rigging their explosive charges. The maintenance crews were incapacitated and in vans far away from danger. There would be no fatalities here. "Ready?" A foxboy called out over the radio, "Hit it!" Over a dozen explosive charges went off simultaneously, shattering windows on nearby buildings and setting off car alarms as the three ANFG towers blanketing Akihabara fell to the ground.

The explosion at the nearest tower rocked the Dai building. That was the signal for teams four and five. Heavily armed men and woman poured out of stair wells and into offices and conference rooms. With shotguns levelled, the two buildings were secured in a matter of minutes as team three set up their Russian and Japanese anti tank rifles at the top of the towers as well as the other sniper teams on the perimeter of the area. There was a sniper and spotter every other building. No one would be able to approach unseen.

"Okay, clear tunnel!" Stone shouted, "Bring in generators!" The two trains both left in the same direction, under threat of gun fire, as another group of metas pushed in carts of equipment. "Get generators running! Close tunnel!" Stone's commands were being carried out before they were even issued. Charges were being placed on the tunnel wall, enough to fill it with debris but not collapse the streets above, as generators, lights and radio equipment was being set up.

"<Clear!>" The warning came with 30 seconds before the explosion rocked the tunnels. Once the dust cleared, Stone was in complete control of Akihabara.

---

DarkTan walked down the steps of the Cathedral as what felt like an earthquake shook the ground slightly. Reports of the attack on Akihabara started to come in, causing the police to hesitate for just a moment. That moment was all DarkTan needed; smoke grenades were fired from the rooftop, blanketing the parking lot in a dense, impenetrable shroud. There was a sound that could have been a small truck, could have been the curses of one of the old gods, or maybe even the gibbering of a thousand angry demons. It was followed by the unmistakable sound of rubber on asphalt. When the smoke was gone, so was DarkTan.

---

"So, you see, while in a conventional chemical rocket, the fuel and propellant are the same thing, with a nuclear thermal rocket they are NOT. The fuel is actually the nuclear fuel in the reactor providing the heat, and the liquid hydrogen is merely the propellant." Skorpion pointed to the various places on the diagram he'd drawn in marker on the wall. "Now, for a 'lightbulb' engine like this one here, injecting the LOX makes the whole thing a little complicated in terms of naming. But, in practical use, you rarely have time for that anyway; while it increases thrust, it's also less efficient. The only time you want to make THAT tradeoff is when accelerating out of a gravity well with an atmosphere." Skorpion moved to another diagram, pointing to it. "As we visited earlier in the lecture." He grinned, turning to the nearest camera and winking. "But, of course, I wouldn't be intending to DO any of that any time soon. Oh, no. I'm a law-abiding despot."

There was a pause, filled by someone trying to stifle laughter.

"Stop sniggering, or you'll get the UN on my ass. They're already pissy about what happened to their weapons inspectors. It's not MY fault they decided to inspect the minefield without protection." Skorpion rolled his eyes, turning back to his lecture. "Anyway! Now for the fun part; practical applications!"

---

Lola kicked the fallen SWAT trooper again. "GET OUT OF MY BATHROOM, PERVERT! WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING IN HERE ANYWAY?"

The trooper groaned, curling tighter, trying to protect himself from the bunnygirl. "<'Clear the room', they said...>"

"WRONG ROOM!" Lola kicked him again, nudging him towards the door a little. "NEVER bust in on a girl while she's bathing!" Another kick. "You'll never get laid in this town again! Out!"

The trooper uncurled as she backed off, crawling for the door, his back displaying the clear outline of a large dildo in bruises as he went. He paused by the door to grab his trousers.

Lola hmph-ed as the door shut again. "And stay out, asshole. Come back here and I won't just hit you with it. Where's my phone?" She looked around, reaching down to snag her phone from where it was dangling from a miniature blimp. "Now for answers."

---

"DARKTAN OBLIVIOUS CANTO, WHY THE HELL IS THERE A SWAT TEAM IN MY BATHROOM?"

"Sorry Miss Lola, but DarkTan does not have his phone. Also please step away from the doors. The voice of Hel came through the phone and then through the intercoms, "Attention. Please clear the doorways. This is your only warning."

Air-tight security doors slammed down over the normal door for all the living quarters and a sound much akin to the flushing of a giant toilet was heard. This was accompanied by a great deal of banging, shouting and some ineffective (and ultimately harmless) gunfire was heard travelling along with the aforementioned flushing sound as it proceeded through the halls at speed. Watch your step, the floors may be a bit damp. Please proceed to evacuation point D. This is not a drill."

---

"No, but this IS drill!" Jess the delivery bunny grinned as she applied one to the wall she was parked next to, chewing rapidly through the concrete wall. "Come on, little kitty people. Come out and play, someone is paying good money to have you all rescued~"

---

Lola frowned, opening the door via the palm reader once the wave had passed. She peeked out, finding a trail of debris, puddles, ruined carpets, and shell casings. "He's cleaning this up himself." She stepped out, one hand clutching her phone, the other holding a large black dildo. "Hel, anyone around here?"

"All intruders have been ejected from the premises. The perimeter is still surrounded by police forces."

"Ugh, screw that. We need to get OUT of here. How are they armed? Anything that can take out a helicopter? Can I call the Largoists for help?" Lola made her way down the corridor, pausing every so often to check doorways. "Also, where the hell did my clothes go?"

"You left them in the bathroom," Hel answerred helpfully, "Security is already loading at Evacuation Point D in the third sub basement garage. Helicopters are not advised due to the presence of mecha. The FGTL knows of the situation but cannot assist due to political reasons. We have to go to them. "

"I LEFT them in the hamper. The hamper is gone." Lola pouted, detouring into a room to crack open a dryer and rummage through the contents. "Anyone trapped or unaccounted for?"

"The delivery bunny is drilling through a wall and making horrible puns. Seems some children wandered into a utility closet and becamed trapped. I'll open the door for them," Hel did so and there was a resounding "clang" from somewhere far off, "The garage and exit are still secure. I am also picking up reports of hostile action involving metas in Akihabara."

Lola wriggled her way into an oversized T-shirt before tugging on a pair of gym shorts. "I'll make my own way out. Tell security not to wait up for me; I have a few things to grab first. And if DT gets back to you, tell him that I want to speak with him~" Lola smiled sweetly at the nearest camera, before tugging her Beretta out of hammerspace; holding it low in both hands as she stepped out into the corridor. "And inform him that if any of his food has escaped, I'm going to murder him with it."

"The TPCD are actually responsible for that," the AI replied, "I have video."

"I don't want to see it, thank you very much." Lola winced as she stepped around a particularly dirty puddle. "I liked this carpet."

"This is the one hundred and thirty-seventh time this building has been destroyed since the fall of the M$ lab," Hel not so helpfully pointed out.

"Yes, but this time the food ISN'T responsible. Yet." Lola pointed out as she worked her way through the maze of corridors to her office. "Also, send out E-mails to the regulars explaining that the club is closed until further notice, but will be back."

"Done" Hel responded, "Also, I recomend moving quickly, they have brought in cutting tools. Evacuation is 90% complete."

"I'll be done when I'm done!" Lola frowned, opening her safe. "Just... Just shut up and let me finish this." She sighed as she tugged her purse from hammerspace and started emptying the contents of the safe into it. Important papers, photographs, bundles of cash, a case of energy drink concentrate, and portable harddrives. "Hel, is there a clear path to the garage?"

"There is a two man patrol between you and the quickest route," the AI answered.

"Shouldn't be too hard." Lola grinned to herself, shutting the safe. She paused thoughtfully halfway, before removing a grenade from hammerspace, removing the pin, and carefully tucking it into the safe, with the door holding the handle in. "Hel, if they don't try and take everything, remind me about that when I come back."

"Will do."

Lola smiled brightly as she locked the safe again, backing very very carefully away from it before scampering off down the corridor.

---

"<Man, have you SEEN some of the ladies in this place?>"

"<Yeah. Meta or not, I'd so hit me some of that.>"

"<Did you see that FOOD, though?>"

"<What food? I saw a tentacle monster.>"

"<Nah, nah, Taniguchi-san got posted in the kitchen. He says they've got stacks of frozen hot wings there, and literal buckets of bbq sauce for them.>"

"<Well, there IS a strip club in the basement. Best hot wings in Tokyo, they say.>"

"<Man, why'd we get stuck on guard duty in THIS dump?>"

"Because you're disrespectful to women, you'd stick your filthy fingers in my sauces, I'm pretty sure I had YOU thrown out last week, and YOU are a fashion disaster. You're not a sumo wrestler. You can't get away with a hair bun." Came a voice from behind them.

The two TPCD goons turned, spotting the bunnygirl behind them.

"<Hey, baby. Sure I'd stick my fingers in your sauce~>"

The other goon sniggered. "<Yeah, and I bet you'd enjoy it too. C'mere, little bunny, we won't hurt you...>"

"<Much>"

The goons sniggered. Lola stayed put, smiling innocently. "<Mm, I don't quite think so. How about you come over here, and I'll show you something.>"

The goons looked to each other, then back at Lola, before setting off towards her. As they got close, Lola shifted position quickly, kicking one in the crotch hard enough to gain an echoing *crunch* despite the waterlogged carpet. The other goon went for his SMG, only to find the bunny missing. He looked behind him, only to see something large and black and rubber heading for his face.

"If you've dented that, I'll shoot you right here and now." Lola remarked, inspecting her dildo for marks. "Good for you. Not a mark on it!"

One of the goons groaned, grabbing for her leg. Lola stepped away, drawing her pistol and shooting him through the elbow. "<NO. BAD. BAD COP. STAY. SIT and STAY.>"

---

Lola skipped along the corridor happily, ears bouncing, tail wiggling, and the screams of the wounded TPCD grunt behind her. "Hel, anyone in the garage I should know about?"

"Garage is currently clear; there is a breach team on the northwest stairwell," there was a echoing rumble through the walls, "Never mind, they cut the stair supports looking for the hydraulics. Garage is clear."

"How about the exit?" Lola asked as she slid into her car, caressing the bodywork gently as she started the engine; the little V8 roaring into life with a spray of flames from the exhaust.

"Exit is clear, evacuation buses have made it away clear, but CD is closing in on the exit."

"Bastards. Time to show them proper engineering. Open the pod bay doors, Hel." Lola grinned, plugging her phone into the car's stereo. A few skipped tracks, and the garage was treated to 'Kickstart My Heart' accompanying the revving of her engine.

"I'm sorry Lola, I cant let you do that."

Lola sighed. "What's the problem?"

"Oh come on, you make a 2001 reference, but I can't?" It sounded as if Hel was actually pouting as the garage doors opened.

Lola rolled her eyes. "You haven't seen the movie, have you? Anyway. Have fun messing with the cops. I'll be back. Sometime."

"Of course I have," the AI responded, "The Pirate Bay is one of my favourite websites. Also, the kitchen is currently filled with CO2, but I've given a warning that it's a highly toxic gas. You should see the security feeds, it's hilarious."

Lola giggled, before dropping the clutch, flooring the throttle in the same instant. Her car shot forwards, the front wheels lifting off the floor as the rear wheel gripped, firing her out the garage and through the closing line of the TPCD roadblock. "So long, suckers~"

TPCD officers, SWAT team members, and a couple of Labors dived for cover as Lola shot through their blockade, trailing glam metal, engine noise, and un-muffled exhausts.

"Whee~"

---

"Shiori!" Lola shouted, knocking frantically at the aforementioned snowleopardgirl's door. "Let me in they're gonna get me hurry hurry!"

Shiori bolted awake, in seconds was at the door (the table in her way was knocked aside like a styrofoam cup) and she swung the door open.

Lola leaped in as the door was opened, clinging tightly to Shiori. "Shut the door!"

The door shut with a SLAM. It was recently reinforced, along with the wall, to account for Shiori's strength. The building owner had been paid handsomely to do so. With many locks done, Shiori took a few steps back. It was then that she realized that Lola was hugging very very close to the supersoldier. "What's going on?"

Lola let go, stepping back and sniffling. "Th... They raided us... The whole thing, gone. We were due to ship out in a few days, too..."

"Wait who raided?" Shiori led her over to a couch so the bunnygirl could sit and talk. "Lola Take a deep breath, hold it for a few second, then slowly. Tell me what happened."

Lola breathed as instructed, calming down a little. "Th-the TPCD. They must have found something new, 'cause we paid off their informants this month. They raided the club, ORAZ, the railroad, the lot. I'd be surprised if they didn't have the coastguard go after Ahab, too."

"The bas-...Any idea what happened to the folks at the railroad? Was anyone with you at the club?"

"Not much. I was in the bath when it happened. Hel's evacuating people, and I just got out as quick as I could. The bastards even stole my clothes." Lola raised her arms, showing off the oversized and heavily worn T-shirt. "I don't even know what happened to DT..." She trailed off, sniffling again before burying her face in Shiori's chest as she started to cry. "Ev-everything I've been working for, gone. The club, the r-railroad..."

Shiori couldn't do much more than hold her close as Lola cried. A few thoughts passed through her mind, before she swept them away. Any acts to retaliate would only be that, retaliation. Anything rash done now would put more people at risk. "I'm here for you. Whatever I can do, I'll do my best, ok?" Shiori hugged her close. "We'll get through this. I know we will."

Lola sniffled, looking up at Shori. "Can... Can I crash with you for a while? My apartment was in the OCSB, and it's now a crime scene..."

"Absolutely. Don't even need to ask." Was her immediate response. "We'll keep an ear out for DT and the others. You know him well; no way he'd be caught easily, right?"

Lola nodded slowly, still sniffling. "Also, we need to go clothes shopping. Like, today. I got out with these clothes and a dildo and my car, and hammerspace just doesn't work if you run a strip club. And I can't borrow your clothes. At least, unless I want to look like I'm wearing a tent."

Shiori snuggled Lola a bit. "Believe me, I understand. MIght help your nerves too." She took out a bulky new phone and made a few typings. "I...think I just told everyone who needs to know what happened, including a sister of mine. If anyone can find out what happened elsewhere, she could." Shiori kept Lola in their hug a while longer. "I can go when you are ready."

Lola nodded. "Gimme a while."

Shiori nodded, and simply stayed still for Lola. Once again Shiori's strangely comforting 'self' was at work.

---

Meanwhile, Across Town...

DarkTan and the Jeep had violated every known traffic law in the world and at least three that had not yet been invtented before they parked atop a mint condition GT-R34 Skyline. Correction, heavily used condition. The dhampir got out, stalking up the the unmarked door of the unmarked bar and walking in. "Mimi? Where's Saeko?" The dhampir asked, slightly confused as his eyes swept the room.

"Not here," Mimi replied with an expression that suggested that was still a bit of a sore spot. The former officer went back to mopping down the bar top, which had significantly less nicks in it than before.

"Where'd she go?" the dhampir asked, "I have something I need to tell her."

"Did you want a drink, or just come to chat?" The silver-haired woman scowled.

"Well, now it feels like she never left," DarkTan muttered.

"Ah, bartendress, can't you see the poor man is in no shape to be played with," spoke the shifty collection of clothes at the far end of the bar, as it sat up into a mostly human shape. The man (for that is what appeared) looked down the mostly clean stretch of counter top at the two and waved for DarkTan as a man might wave for a friend who hadn't yet noticed him. "Come, if this Saeko isn't around to hear you, I certainly will. A bar is for the pouring out of booze and worries! Come! And Mimimimi, we'll take two more of whatever it was you were having me drink!"

Mimi didn't even bother to look as she reached for several bottles using both hands and shadows, mixing the man the two requested drinks and sliding them down the bar where they came to a rest without so much as a ripple. "You joining him?" the bartender asked.

"Sorry, but I'll have to decline the offer..." DarkTan looked to the pile of garments, pausing as if waiting for a name. The man gave a broad grin in return, teeth pearly amidst the scruffy mass of beard like some sort of exotic Santa.

A moment passed by, awkwardly twiddling its thumbs.

"Oh...kay..." DarkTan studied the man briefly before turning back to Mimi, "Look, tell her to call her sister. She was targeted and stabbed the other night. She's in the FGTL infirmary."

"That the blonde one that doesn't like her too much?" Mimi asked.

"As far as I know, she only has one sister," the leader of ORAZ replied, "But that whole family tree is kind of confusing. I think Sareth was in line to become his own uncle in there somehow."

"Right, I'll pass it along," the silver haired woman replieed, resuming wiping down the bar.

"Thanks," DarkTan said before exiting the bar.

---

"DarkTan Canto, six feet, one inch tall, age undertermined. Leader of The Order of Rent-A-Zilla and head cook. Brother of Katrina Canto, a consort of Arella, daughter of Skorpion," A voice said behind the aforementioned dhampir, "Immortal, healing speed phenomenal. Former member of The Kimiko Fanboy Horde and Tech Supporters of Makoto-rin. Ally to The Followers of Great Teacher Largo and Cute Magical Girls of Yuki-sama. Former ally to The Church of Miho, United Fangirls of Largo-Sama, Temple of Ping, Kimiko Army. Bane of Oprah. Former owner of the cargo ship OCS STFU. Current owner of the shipwreck formerly known as the OCS STFU. Significant other to Lola Usagi, manager of the CATastrophe club; currently closed due to police action. Known antagonist of the MegaTokyo Police Department's Cataclysm Division. Oldest member of the oldest faction remaining."

DarkTan turned to face the spot where the voice had been coming from, only to see nothing. "Typical."

"Prefers Mountain Dew and beef jerky over any other food, tolerance for alcohol and caffeine comparable to reinforced concrete. Cargo pants. Boxers, not briefs. Prefers lingerie that leaves a little to the imagination, commonly in red or black. Heavy metal fan. Despises fake metal bands. Has never won a single game of solitaire. Cooking ability rated between 'none' and 'deadly'." The voice continued on, once again behind the dhampir, "Habitual traffic offender, last valid license expired in 1976. Current vehicle modified Jeep Commanche, engine unknown, but known to have a hunger and perverse lust for other vehicles and vandalism using unspecified vehicular fluids of unknown origin."

DarkTan turned to face the voice again, a smirk on his face., "Ever been punched for talking too much?"

"Single handedly flipped more agents from intelligence divisions than all other intelligence divisions combined. Operator of several extremely illegal enterprises. As yet uncaptured, accused or suspected officially. Minor international celebrity. Participant in the raid against a SHIELD helicarr-" He was cut off by a solid punch to the mouth.

"Any other day, you would have been correct," there was a subtle difference in DarkTan's voice but then he was simply gone.

"Amending data. Eye colour, black. Solid." The voice sounded again, from the other side of DarkTan.

"You're a persistent bastard, aren't ya?" DarkTan grumbled, "I got shit to do. Fuck off."

His answer came in the form of a blade heading for his head, suddenly visible halfway through the strike. The blade was attached to a long polearm, which was wielded by a large, bald-headed figure clad in a grey cloak.

DarkTan gave the most uninterested look anyone in the history of the world has ever given as he swatted the blade away with his left hand, "Seriously, go bother someone else."

The other end of the polearm swung around as the blade was swatted aside, stopping next to DarkTan's face. "Be that way."

"I intend to," DarkTan replied, a pistol pointed directly between the eyes of his assaillant, "Now, like I said. I'm busy."

The figure in front of him moved suddenly, disappearing and reappearing across the street. "Then accept a gift." There was a bang, and the polearm bucked in the figure's hands. The hole in the end dispensed a spray of sharp metal before the figure vanished again, leaving a wisp of steam behind.

DarkTan frowned, the flechettes doing little more than shredding his coat and embedding in his flesh, as flechettes are wont to do. "Asshole." DarkTan muttered as he began to pull the small pointed blades from his body. Once that task was finished, the dhampir returned to the Jeep and with a screech of metal on metal, he backed out of the wreckage of her parking job. He tore off down the road, over the sidewalk, through some street furniture, and into traffic.

"Rude." Machariah stated, watching the retreating jeep. "Clearly, support is required. And perhaps a larger gun."

  Code:

Summary:
   
    Across MT, Five indivialuals are getting ready for the day ahead.
    Most are displeased about this.
    None more so that Regis.
    Don't all cooking shows have shotgun theatrics?
    Or nuclear powered rocket stoves?
    No? Huh.
    Of Science, Turkey and Omlettes.
    A Wild SWAT Team appears!
    It used "Subpoena" but it wasn't very effective.
    DarkTan recieved a text!
    DarkTan used "RAGE!" It was super effective.
    Crowd Control = Plasma Cannon.
    Suddenly, a sword.
   
    DARKTAN OBLIVIOUS CANTO, WHY THE HELL IS THERE A SWAT TEAM IN MY BATHROOM?
    Brutal Dildo Beatings sounds like a punk band.
    Escapes are made, more beatings.
    You get a flesh wound! You get a flesh wound! EVERYONE GETS A FLESH WOUND!
    Hel -> HAL -> IBM. Half Life 3 confirmed.
    Bunny Girl x Snow Leopard Girl snuggles!

    DarkTan arrives at the bar looking for Saeko
    She's not there.
    Or is she? >_>
    Sareth was almost his uncle? What is this, West Virgina?

    More factual recitation.
    DarkTan is unimpressed.
    More recitation.
    Face Punch.
    Error 404: Fucks to give not found.
    Eye collar black? What does that even mean?!
    Grenade to the chest.
    Mild annoyance.
    Gonna need a bigger bo- er...gun.
   
   
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.
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Arella

User avatar

Posts: 129

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:49 pm

Location: Ontario, Canada

Post Sun May 01, 2016 10:48 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

'Glaswiegan Discussion
('Cause they're butting heads, get it?)

Location: FGTL HQ.
Timestamp: Three days after Broken Wings.
Authors: Skorpy, Elle, Oblivion
Characters: Skorp, Lucius. Arella, Eva.

'Nae. Absolutely NAE. She's barely recovered from tha' scunner! An' ye want tae hurt her all o'er again?'

"It's for her own good. She needs to train, to learn to fight PROPERLY." Skorpion explained patiently.

'By hurtin' her more. I've seen yer trainin' programs.' Lucius frowned, leaning closer. 'Nae.'

"You don't speak for her." Skorpion replied, taking a step towards the catboy. "And besides, you've seen YOUR training programs. Ones designed to teach a nigh-unstoppable immortal to THINK in the heat of combat, instead of charging in throwing cars."

'Tha's still tae close tae wha' hurt her in the firs' place!' Lucius objected.

"Sure, and going after the super-soldier in question in revenge worked out SO well, didn't it?" Skorpion replied, raising his voice. "THINK before you ACT. I've been telling you that for years, and getting your liver skewered doesn't seem to have educated you. Nor did the oil refinery explosion, or the demon invasion, or getting smacked around by Thor, nor did meeting your goddamn grandson from a PAST mistake." He sighed. "And you think you know what's best for Arella? You don't even know what's best for YOU."

Lucius growled, his ears flattening back as he stepped closer, glaring at Skorpion as he stood level with the super-soldier, standing on a few inches of nothing to do so. 'And ye DO know wha's best fer her? You, who went intae hell tae pursue a grudge, an' got yeself KILLED? I had tae drag yer rottin' arse fer WEEKS!'

"Different me." Skorpion replied flatly.

'Doesnae seem it tae me. Ye're back tae yer old tricks, just wi' more power an' less restraint.' Lucius leaned in close, jabbing Skorpion in the chest. 'Weather control. Raidin' SHIELD. Takin' over a major island fer a week. Pickin' fights wi' the TPCD. Bargin' intae my school tae interrogate my students an' make 'em cry. An' now ye're plannin' tae blast one o' them off intae space fer some reason, an' now THIS?'

"Put the claws away. Arella needs to learn to FIGHT. Not self-defense. Not flashy magical girl tricks. Not snarking at barely-armed inept thugs. FIGHT. Deal with a superior opponent while not. Getting. Killed." Skorpion sighed, straightening up to look down on Lucius. "You don't seem able to teach her that, so I have to."

'It's nae yer place.'

"I'm her father, I think it IS."

'Adopted.'

"And that's any more valid than having kids YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW ABOUT UNTIL THEIR KIDS SHOW UP LOOKING FOR YOU?" Skorpion shouted, eyes flashing with sudden rage.

'Scunner.'

"Drunkard."

'Maniac.'

"Cattle thief."

'HEY! I didnae steal ANYTHIN'!' Lucius objected.

"And mass credit fraud ISN'T cheating? You probably CAUSED the credit crunch with all those fake IDs and fake loans and fake cards."

'The system was flawed if it let me dae tha' anyway!'

"At least I don't pretend to be something I'm not. Is that accent even real?"

Lucius drew his sword in a smooth motion, snarling at Skorpion. 'Ye take tha' back, or I'll take it outta yer hide.'

"The Stallion seems to speak just fine. Which is suspicious." Skorpion stepped aside as the sword sliced downwards, batting it aside and bringing his chainsword up, teeth spinning inches away from Lucius' chest. "Calm down before I put you back into the infirmary."

"What the hell are you doing?!" a very upset-sounding Arella exclaimed, having wandered into the room at precisely the wrong (or maybe right) moment.

Lucius looked up sharply, the anger draining from him as he turned to Arella. ''Rella! We were jus'...'

"I was TRYING to explain to fuzz-for-brains here that you need to be trained."

'THA'S YER FAULT YE SCUNNER!' Lucius turned back to Skorpion, sword raising again. 'I DIDNAE WANT TAE BE A CATBOY ANY MORE'N I WANTED TAE BE BLOWN UP AN' DRIVEN HERE!'

A sound escaped the magical girl that suggested she was dangerously close to tears; she'd been a bit overly sensitive to things since the stabbing, and this was just too much. "Stop fighting!" she yelled, voice rather dangerously close to a wail.

Lucius looked between the two, before suddenly scooping Arella up in a hug, stroking her hair softly.

"My point stands." Skorpion put his chainsword away, sighing. "You got hurt, you need to learn how to defend yourself properly. We can't protect you constantly, as the attack showed. Not without having a squad follow you around all the time, or you moving in here and giving up being Raven."

A faint hiccough escaped Arella, who was suddenly fighting off tears from within the safety of Lucius' arms. What was wrong with her lately, practically crying at the drop of a hat? The previous yelling and foot stomping had been much easier, and much less exhausting. "Please don't fight," she pleaded, sounding very small.

"... He started it." Skorpion stated, before sitting heavily on a chair. "I'm just trying to keep you safe, okay?"

Lucius purred reassuringly, continuing to hold Arella close.

"Training's fine, I can do training. Just please don't fight with each other," she replied, still in that small voice. She couldn't bear having her family fight. A house divided cannot stand, and all that, after all.

"... Fine. Just make sure HE understands it." Skorpion nodded towards Lucius.

'Ye canne be serious, lassie... Ye've seen his trainin'...'

"It won't kill me," Arella pointed out gently, not making any move to extricate herself from her boyfriend's arms. "And it could help keep me from getting killed." She'd likely be running into the not-Skorp again, after all, especially if he was going to be making a point of going after people she cared about.

Skorpion nodded. "I can stop the training if you get hurt. Lucius, you can be there to make sure, so long as you don't intervene. It's no good trying to train her if you leap to the rescue every time. Oath or no oath, she's got to learn."

Lucius grumbled. He still didn't like it, but he probably wouldn't like ANY solution. '... Fine. Ye can train, if he promises tae stop if ye get hurt.'

"I wouldn't dream of doing otherwise." Skorpion replied.

"So no more fighting?" the magical girl rather plaintively asked, needing to make sure.

"As long as your boyfriend doesn't start another one."

'... Nae more fightin'.'

Arella nodded against his chest, rather mussing up her hair in the process; it was getting a bit longer these days, though she didn't seem to have noticed yet. "Thank you." Seriously though, what was the matter with her?

Lucius stroked her hair back down; he HAD noticed it getting longer, and didn't want to mention it in case she cut it again. 'I was gettin' tired o' arguin' anyways. Wannae go get a milkshake?'

"No alcohol; she's still healing." Skorpion warned.

'An' ye want her tae train like tha', though?'

Skorpion sighed. "No. I was GOING to wait for her to recover before going with the strenuous training. Arella, go scritch his ears or something to calm him down, before he takes it out on a wall."

"Can we get it here?" Arella interrupted, albeit a bit hesitantly, not wanting to outright admit that she was already feeling tired again; her blood count was still a bit low, but the last thing she wanted was to make people worry about her any more than they already did. "Maybe watch some Game of Thrones or something?"

Skorpion grinned. "Sure. I'll stick it into the VR system, and we can watch it in proper 3D."

Lucius facepalmed. 'Nae sensory crap. Nae doin tha' wi' medieval fantasy again.'

Skorpion rolled his eyes. "Not my fault they hadn't invented sewers in the middle ages."

'Ye're the worst DM ever.'

"No bickering, either," Arella half-scolded, half-requested.

"He started it." Skorpion replied, as he headed off to make the milkshakes.

Lucius gave him a Look as he left, before surreptitiously giving the nearest security camera the finger from behind Arella.

"What's the matter?" the magical girl of course wanted to know the minute they were alone. It wasn't like Luc to be picking fights with Skorp, after all. Friendly bickering, yes, but actual fights, no.

'I just donnae want ye tae get hurt again, is all.' Lucius replied, sighing softly.

Arella shook her head, mussing up her hair again; most magical girls had at least a touch of empathic ability, after all, and she could tell there was more to it than that. "What else, though?" she asked softly. "Please tell me what's wrong?"

'There's some scunner huntin' people close tae Skorp, an' I couldnae deal wi' him. Skorp's runnin' scared from the scunner; tha's the kinda threat we're dealin' wi'. Someone like Skorp, but wi' less restraint, a blade, an' nae friends.' He winced, pulling back from Arella a little to check his stomach, bringing up a hand smeared with blood. 'An' I'm bleedin' intae one o' my favourite shirts.'

Arella, of course, made an alarmed little sound and immediately began to fuss over the injury with one hand, while the other fished out her phone. "I'll get Eva, it'll be okay," she assured, at least as much for her benefit as his.

'I'll be fine, lass...' Lucius protested, wincing. 'Worry about gettin' yerself better. I've had worse, an' it's nae like I'll bleed tae death or anythin'...'

"No," Arella objected, tears threatening again as she scrolled through her contact list in search of Eva's number. "You're hurt, and I can't just--" Her voice hitched as she tried to stifle a sudden sob; he was hurt, and it was her fault, even if she wasn't entirely sure how, and she hated it. "I can't--" Oh God, she was really going to cry, this was a losing battle, wasn't it... "I can't--"

On the other end of the line, Eva could dimly be heard answering the call, but Arella couldn't answer; hand firmly clasped over her mouth, she was desperately trying to keep from breaking down into noisy tears.

Lucius took the phone from Arella, sighing softly. "Eva?"

"Hello? Lucius, is that you? Why are you calling from Arella's phone?" Evangeline asked, already jogging to the nearest window she was aware of.

'I pulled somethin' yellin' at Skorp, an' she called ye. She broke down afore ye picked up. Can ye come help her?' Lucius asked, slightly awkwardly.

"I'm already on my way to a window. Does she have her trackers?" Eva asked as she reached the breakroom, taking a chair and throwing it through the window before diving out without losing any momentum.

Lucius looked down at Arella. 'Aye, problae. We're nae far from yer infirmary, tae.'

"Got it." Eva dived a few floors before altering her course to the infirmary break room, folding in her wings and bracing herself as she smashed through the glass, tumbling through a few tables before gaining her footing and sprinting to Lucius and Arella.

Arella, of course, had since succumbed to a crying fit while still rather uselessly fussing over her boyfriend and attempting to use a handkerchief to stop him bleeding.

Lucius waved towards Arella, trying to stop the bleeding himself with a small hand towel. 'She needs help, lass.'

That just earned a rather violent headshake from the magical girl, who was otherwise currently incapable of insisting that Lucius was the one who needed help. On account of all the crying, which she couldn't seem to stop.

Eva's right eye turned pink as she began monitoring their heath. "You both need help." The winged elf said as she tore the left sleeve off of one of her favorite sweaters. "Here. Arella, use this to apply pressure to his wound. I'll treat your fatigue as I close it." She informed as she offered Arella the sleeve.

'Help her first; I can deal wi' this. Had worse.' He frowned, tail swishing as he pressed on the wound.

Gasping for breath around her tears (seriously, she couldn't stop), Arella shook her head again even as she did as directed with Eva's sleeve. She hated that Lucius was hurt, and that she couldn't fix it, and that she couldn't stop crying, God damnit.

"Lucius. You're making it worse for both of you. Please. Just stay quiet and let me work." Eva said in a soft and gentle tone as she placed one hand over Lucius' wound and the other on Arella's shoulder. Her hands began to glow pink as she worked on closing the Scotsman's wounds and infusing her magic into the magical girl to act as blood.

To Eva's credit, Arella did quickly start to feel better. Well, less tired. Unfortunately, that didn't really help with the crying. Seriously, she didn't know what was the matter with her there, but now that she'd started, she couldn't seem to stop.

Lucius sighed softly as the wound in his abdomen closed. As the pain faded from his eyes, he looked down and winced. 'Ach. Tha's gonnae need tae go tae dry cleanin' again.'

Arella finally managed to sob something out about soaking it in cold water to get the blood out.

"You're telling me. I had to take off my sleeve to use as an impromptu bandage." Eva said aloud with a disappointed sigh, looking to Lucius' wound. "He's been transferring Arella's wounds to himself when I'm not looking..." She thought to herself. "I can't blame him... But still..." The elfgirl looked over to Arella. "You don't have to worry anymore. I'll heal him up, good as new, right now." She said with a reassuring smile. Normally she would heal in intervals to avoid stressing herself too much, but this needed to happen.

Lucius, meanwhile, tugged his shirt off to wring the blood from the much-patched and faded fabric. Doing so revealed not only the wound to his gut from Arella, but the stab wound he'd obtained himself, and a patchwork of smaller cuts, grazes, and bruises.

"He's been healing the magical girls too..." Eva though as she observed the wounds closing one by one. "Stupid..." She muttered.

Arella, of course, was now crying harder and rather pointlessly attempting to hide it by covering her face with both hands.

Lucius frowned, ears flicking. 'They have tae focus on learnin', nae dealin' wi' cuts an' grazes.'

"You're right, they need to focus on learning, but you both need to stop trying to do it all alone... It's not fair to the people who want to help you." Eva said, looking to the ground before looking back up to Arella. "Please don't cry."

Arella shook her head again, this time rather helplessly, because she couldn't seem to stop. She was also having more than a little trouble getting enough air in, her occasional gasps for breath starting to sound rather concerningly desperate, and there was a growing possibility that she was going to end up passing out as a result.

Evangeline sighed again, before moving the hand from Arella's shoulder to place her pointer finger against the magical girl's forehead, using her magic to assist in calming her. "Shhhh. Everything's okay now. No one's hurt, no one's mad. Please. Tell me what's bothering you." She said with the type of compassion that only one who's spent most of their life healing people could manage.

"I" sob "don't" gasp for air "know," Arella practically wailed, Eva's influence the only reason she was even able to get words out as magic warred against emotions spiralling out of control.

Eva looked back to Lucius, as the last visable wound closed and finished healing. She took her hand from the Scotsman's chest. "You'll probably be better at making her feel better than me." She said as she stood up, keeping her finger on Arella's forhead until Lucius was ready to act.

Lucius nodded, tugging Arella against him, his tail curling around her waist as she seemed to just sort of collapse against him. 'C'mere, 'rella. 'm still here tae keep ye safe.'

Eva nodded, removing the finger from the girl's forehead and taking a step back before beginning to pluck glass from her hair, feathers, and clothes.

Lucius spared a hand to reach out, waving it a little to attract the glass from her into his palm. 'Least I can do, lass. Wee trick I picked up in New York.'

"Thank you." The elf said, bowing slightly. "But still; from now on both of you need to let us help you more." She said in a well mannered and concerned tone.

Arella just continued to cry as if the world itself were coming to an end, still desperately gasping for breath, still futilely wrestling to get her emotions under control, and still not really understanding what was wrong in the first place. She was scared, she knew that much - scared that she wasn't going to be able to keep the people she loved safe - but this kind of break down had to have more to it than that. She just didn't know what. Which was kind of making things worse.

Lucius tossed the glass out the window before returning his attentions to Arella. 'I'm nae a Largoist nae more, though. Problae stuck livin' here since the TPCD hae shut down the OCSB an' Kat's apartment wi' it, though.' He sighed, stroking Arella's hair softly. 'Calm down, lassie.'

"I'm offended that I need to tell you this... If you need help, call me!" Evangeline said with her hands on her hips, leaning forward. "Largoist or not, I'll come to help. It's the same with Alexis and the others, too. Even mom. Just please... Don't try to do everything alone... It makes us feel like you don't trust us enough to ask." She said, standing straight to look at the floor, her voice sounding sombre as she spoke.

Lucius chuckled softly. 'Lass, wait'll ye see Skorp goin' off th'rails workin' on this. I jus' donnae want anyone tae get hurt on my behalf. I ken deal wi' bein' hurt myself. I'm used tae it. Easier'n tryin' tae watch other people deal wi' it.' He sighed. 'Jus'... Jus' try an' stop that scunner comin' after her again, y'ken?'

"I'm going to say it again. If you need help, ask! We're your friends and we don't care how much you're used to it, we want to help you!" Eva sighed again. "We're doing what we can about her attacker, but we're trying to be careful. The man is dangerous and we're trying to be as safe as we can about it."

'Well, donnae go tryin' tae tank the scunner.' Lucius warned. 'Ye've seen how tha' turned out.'

"Don't worry. We don't plan to take him one on one. If anything, we'll cheat!" Eva said cheerfully with a raised finger.

'Aye, ye'd better. Tha's fer Skorp tae worry about, though. An' fer now, I've bigger things tae worry about, like gettin' 'Rella here calmed down.'

"Remember. If you need us. Call." Eva reminded, bowing to the couple before turning to head to her room to replace her glass torn, and ripped outfit.

'Aye. An' if ye're gettin' yer sweater fixed, go tae that laundry in the Hollows, an' tell them tae put it on my tab.'

"I'll keep that in mind. Thank you." Eva said, turning her head to smile and wave at him, before turning the corner shortly after. "Now for a nice long nap."

Unfortunately for Lucius, calming Arella down didn't really seem to be an option at this point; instead, she just ended up crying herself to exhaustion, until even silent tears seemed like too much work and she had to settle for just resting against her boyfriend, feeling so worn out it was a miracle she hadn't passed out yet.

"Sorry," came her soft (exhausted) apology.

Lucius sighed softly, stroking her hair gently as he guided her to a nearby couch. 'Tha's alright, lassie. Jus' settle fer a while, aye?'

"Will you stay?" the poor magical girl rather plaintively asked, not so much sitting on the couch as practically dissolving into it. She didn't want to be alone; she hated to be alone.

'Aye, o' course I'll stay.' Lucius smiled softly, patting her head. 'Ye stayin' fer Game o' Thrones in the VR room?'

Her blonde head nodded; she would never miss Game of Thrones. Well, except for the latest season, which seemed to have forgotten it was supposed to be based on a book series.

"I'm scared," Arella admitted softly, though there were no further tears. To be honest, she doubted there were any more tears left to cry - she was going to need to do some serious rehydrating later.

Lucius sighed. 'Rella. Ye're in the middle o' a fortress, run by a mad engineer, an' protected by the biggest collection o' super soldiers outside o' a government lab. He'd be insane tae sneak up on ye here.'

"Of course, he's insane already." Skorpion commented from behind Lucius, gaining a surprised yowl and a fluffing of ears and tail. "But there's a difference between insane and bad judgement. And, y'know, it'd be just bad judgement to wander up here, especially after announcing yourself to the local ruler. But then, he'd be expecting me to think that, so he could be ANYWHERE."

Arella smiled a small smile of exasperated and affectionate amusement; she really did have the weirdest family, and she loved them for it. Still, she couldn't help clarifying, "I'm scared because I can't keep everyone I care about in here with me."

"You've got most of them." Skorpion replied, smiling. "Otherwise, he's here to kill ME, not you. They should be safe away from here, and I'll try to do my best to keep EVERYONE safe by killing this guy as soon as possible."

"And how do we keep you safe?" the magical girl then had to ask. Lucius had been right before - this guy was basically Skorp with less restraint and no friends to serve as a moral compass. Suppose he managed to hurt or kill her dad?

"That would be what this whole faction-slash-micronation thing is for." Skorpion replied, gesturing around him. "When it gets right down to it, it's to keep the USA off my back. One madman with a pointy stick isn't going to be much of a threat to me in here. I've modified the security to pick him up even through the stealth gear, and I don't plan on taking him on solo."

"Promise?" Arella had to make sure; she hated the idea of him going after the not-Skorp alone and never coming back.

Skorpion patted Arella on the head softly. "I promise. We'll take him down together; Lexi and her siblings were designed to take me down, so with backup they should be able to get him."

The magical girl gave a rather tired nod, seeming to accept this, at least for now. "Can we watch Game of Thrones now?"

Skorpion nodded. "Okay. You want hot chocolate?"

That earned a great show of pouting, though she still didn't actually make any move to get up from the couch and Lucius. "I want my milkshake," she reminded. "Which you were supposed to be getting. You got distracted, didn't you." It really wasn't a question; Arella already knew the answer.

"Yeah." Skorpion headed off, returning with the milkshakes in question. "You holding up alright?"

More nodding, as she continued to make no effort to get up. Or otherwise move in any way. She was comfy, and tired, and very likely to end up falling asleep during the first episode, but that didn't mean she didn't want to watch it.

It was, however, irritatingly difficult to drink a milkshake while collapsed on a couch, thus earning the confection a frown as a solution that didn't involve moving failed to present itself.

Lucius reached around Arella to hold the milkshake for her, chuckling softly, and earned an approving smile as his reward.

"Are you feeling better?" Arella then inquired of her boyfriend, a hint of worry in her tone - but also something that suggested at an Idea.

'Aye.' Lucius responded, stroking her hair with his free hand as his (still bald in places) tail curled around her waist.

"Wanna carry me to the VR room, then?" she asked, ever so sweetly. Because it meant less moving, more Game of Thrones, and, y'know, snuggly carrying. Obviously.

Lucius nodded, setting the milkshake down on thin air to pick Arella up and head off, snagging the milkshake on his way past and holding it with the straw in reach of her mouth.

Arella let out a decidedly contented sigh, thoroughly enjoying the pampering - especially when it meant Luc carried her around. It made her feel all warm and safe and cared about, and his shoulder made an excellent pillow. "C'mon, dad," she further summoned, not about to let Skorp get out of watching Game of Thrones with them. Everyone had to watch Game of Thrones, it was totally a Rule. Well, the first four seasons, anyway.

Skorpion sighed. "I'm busy trying to avenge you, I'll have you know." He grumbled as he followed them along, resigning himself to doing the work remotely while pretending to watch Game of Thrones with his daughter.

"No avenging," she promptly scolded. "Just protecting and stuff. But you can watch Game of Thrones, first."

---

Skorpion glanced down at the gently snoring magical girl, before looking over to Lucius, who was currently acting as a seat for said magical girl. "I still think you're putting the accent on."

'Keep it up an' I'll kill ye so hard they'll nae find the pieces.'

Arella mumbled something about no killing. And then something about Sean Bean, which likely related to the show she'd made it less than a half hour into.

Summary:
-Lucius and Skorp are arguing about Skorp wanting to put Arella through some training programs.
-It quickly devolves into an outright fight.
-An emotional Arella puts a stop to it, and also agrees to the training.
-She's been kinda... super emotional since the stabbing. Emotionally unstable, even. Fatigue from blood loss and previous lack of sleep isn't helping.
-Milkshakes and Game of Thrones are in order!
-Arella worries about Lucius - it isn't like him to be picking fights with Skorp like that.
-Lucius worries about Arella, for more obvious reasons.
-Injuries and a crying fit lead to Eva being called in for help.
-Luc gets in trouble for not asking for help more often.
-He also gets in trouble for transferring injuries to himself.
-Arella also worries about Skorp, and pretty much everyone else in the city. Because Arella.
-It's decided that Arella will be staying at HQ for a while. Luc and Kat will likely be staying there with her, too. Things will have to be retrieved from her apartment.
-Skorp forgot about the milkshakes, and is sent back to make them.
-Arella doesn't even make it through a single episode of Game of Thrones before falling asleep again.
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Oblivion

User avatar

Posts: 50

Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 10:46 pm

Post Fri May 06, 2016 2:53 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Ambushtation!
Location: Downtown Tokyo.
Timestamp: The day after the raid on ORAZ.
Authors: Skorpy, Oblivion, Elle.
Characters: Machariah, Johnathan, Tali, Elsie, Magical Girls, Tiffaney, Rekko, Skorpion.


---

"Johnathan-san!" Yakashima called out as she approached the gathering point, making sure not to startle the wolfboy super-soldier from up close. She knew he was probably paying attention, but it was just common sense. The same reason, of course, why she had a steadying hand on Kawasaki's shoulder to stop her from tackle-glomping him. "<We're on time. Where are the others? Are they here yet?>"

"<Not yet. Right now it is just the two of you.>" Johnathan stated as he observed his surroundings. "<Though with current circumstances; continuing patrols is unwise.>"

"<We can't just let law and order slide just because there's a few maniacs around!>" Kawasaki exclaimed, waving her arms. "<We'll just have to out-crazy them and keep trying! Besides, we have you, don't we? We'll be TOTALLY safe. You'll kick that guy's ass for sure!>"

"<Technically I am one fifth of the total force necessary to dispatch him, therefore if we do encounter him my odds of victory in a prolonged battle are twenty percent or less.>" Johnathan stated.

Kawsaki blinked, pausing as she parsed the long words. "Uhh..."

There was a long pause, punctuated by Yakashima trying not to giggle.

"<Well, yeah, but you can call for backup, can't you?>" Kawasaki finally answered.

"<Not to mention that we're backup too.>" Miyu (in her fox form) chimed in from around Kawasaki's ankle, causing the magical girl to jump and let out a surprised squeak. "<Isn't that guy meant to be weak against magic?>"

"<I do not know. I am unfamiliar with his specifications; however you do not qualify as backup. If you were to assist, my chances of survival drop to less then ten percent.>" Johnathan said as though it were simple fact. "<And backup would take time to arrive, therefore while engaging him I cannot rely on stall tactics. Do all of you have communicators?>"

"<We have phones, if that's what you mean.>" Yakashima answered, turning to wave to Ayano as she arrived.

"<Argh, hang on.>" Miyu said, padding away from the group a little before changing to a mostly human form, still retaining the fox tail and a set of fluffy ears. As the sparkles settled, she dug in a pocket for her phone, holding it up. "<Yup, got it. And I managed to keep my clothes this time!>"

"<That is good progress.>" Johnathan praised in a Johnathan sort of way. "<Be sure to call HQ for support the moment anything seems too dangerous. Trust your instincts on this matter. Especially you, Miyu.>"

The girls nodded, Miyu's ears flicking. "<Don't worry, I'm not getting kidnapped again. Not after what that aussie guy did.>"

"<I'm referring to your animal instincts. You should be particularly attuned to them, therefore do not ignore them.>" Johnathan advised.

"<Ah!>" Miyu nodded again, saluting. "<I'll make sure to pay extra attention!>"

And then there was a sudden overabundance of sparkles and cuteness as Elsie (as the Sugar Plum Princess) suddenly seemed to appear in their midst. "<Where are the bad guys~?>" she rather enthusiastically wanted to know. She and Tali had stopped for strawberry shortcake along the way!

"<And how to we keep her away from them?>" a grinning Tali teased, never far behind, while wondering if the sugar might not have been such a great idea.

"<You're late.>" Johnathan stated, completely unaffected by the cute. "<I can trust that Skorpion already told you of the primary threat, so let us start your patrols.>"

There was a chorus of 'Haaai~' from the magical girls, as well as a 'Nyaah~' from Miyu, who had turned back into a fox to ride on Ayano's shoulders. The group then split up into pairs to patrol their various areas, accompanied by showers of sparkles, bursts of light, and shouts about love, justice, cuteness, and Odin.

---

"He is nearby. Tasked with guarding the small females." Stated a patch of shadow, almost indistinguishable from the surroundings. "His binding to duty is his weakness."

A nearby thug looked around at the sound, casting an annoyed look at his companion. "<Shut up, Jotaro-kun.>"

"<But I didn't say anything!>" Protested the companion in question as he shied away from the other boy, a short, somewhat cute boy wearing a black hoodie and jeans. "<I thought that was you...>"

"<Just shut up.>" The older boy responded, turning back to watching the street. "<Look; there's our mark. Little old lady with the big handbag.>"

"Bait. Cries of distress should draw the small ones, and a suitable display should draw the target."

"<I told you to shut up!>" The older boy turned, reaching out to strike the smaller boy, only for his hand to be caught in mid-air by seemingly nothing.

There was a shimmer, and the nothing was replaced by a large figure wearing a cloak and a calculating expression, holding the boy's wrist in one hand and a large polearm in the other. "Bait. You are encouraged to scream." There was a crack as the figure's hand moved slightly, bending the boy's hand at an unnatural angle. The scream was helpfully provided by the smaller boy as his companion passed out in shock.

---

Aaaaand Elsie was off like a shot, racing to the rescue without a second thought, and enough speed that not even Tali could quite keep up with her. "<I'm coming!>" the magical girl promised, bounding across a few rooftops towards the origin of the decidedly frightened sound, leaving a trail of sparkles behind her. When she ultimately landed by the entrance to the alleyway, it was even in a perfectly executed ballet position, en pointe and all. "<Hey, you let him go!>" she then immediately objected, upon catching sight of the unconscious boy whose wrist was being held at a decidedly unhealthy angle, clearly genuinely upset about his mistreatment.

Machariah regarded the magical girl in front of him. "Elspeth Ogilvy. Daughter of Lucius Ogilvy and Arella Silverstone. Born April 1st, seven years from now. Age thirteen. Time-traveller." Elsie gaped at him as he gave the boy's arm another twist, gaining a whimper of pain and a crunch from the boy's shoulder, and also helping to draw her back out of the momentary shock of his impossible knowledge. "Empathy for all living things, especially felines. Also known as the Sugar Plum Princess and Elsie Stark." He paused to throw the boy aside like a ragdoll before moving to grab Elsie, holding her up off the floor and clamping her hands behind her back. "Lilac purple."

For a moment, the magical girl was too surprised to respond or, indeed, do much of anything. She was feeling a bit blind-sided, and it was suddenly very obvious that she'd had fewer years of training than the other girls. Finally, instinct kicked in, and she began to struggle to escape while demanding with more than a little alarm, "Let go!"

"Request denied." Machariah stated, turning and reaching out with his polearm to spear the smaller boy as he finally made up his mind to run away, lifting him up and flicking him into a nearby dumpster. "Scream. Call for your friends."

"Stop it!" Elsie cried, genuinely succumbing to some tears over the fate of the poor boy as she continued to struggle, the need to help still impossibly strong, before instinctively screaming for someone she knew she could always count on to save her and make everything okay. "TALI!"

Of course, unlike most magical girls, Tali wasn't prone to giving up the advantage of surprise in the name of fairness, and thus did not announce her presence. Well, unless you counted a shotgun-propelled punch as announcing, in which case she did it very well.

Machariah turned, moving almost as fast as Tali to absorb the force of the blow. He stepped back as Tali rebounded, swinging Elsie at her for a quick distraction, and the older magical girl immediately caught the younger one with instincts likely borne of constant repetition. She also managed a downright impressive amount of gentleness as she did so, and Elsie succumbed to a proper cry, clinging to her aunt and best friend for a good long moment before releasing her in the hope of being able to help the Bad Man's previous victims.

Tali looked about ready to commit murder for making Elsie cry alone, let alone whatever else he'd been up to. Seriously, you just didn't do that! She cocked her shotgun gauntlets, chambering the next rounds, and the sound rang out in the alleyway.

Machariah charged, his polearm swinging around and slicing for Tali's neck with the momentum of a Skorpion-sized super-soldier behind it.

To Tali's credit, she dodged pretty damn nicely, and even managed to fire off a few shots along the way, with only the slightest bit of hesitation due to surprise; she was used to sparring with her dad, after all, she simply hadn't been expecting this guy to be, well, similar. The biggest downside was simply the need to keep herself between him and Elsie, who was still trying to help the boys and clearly trusted her to handle the big bad in the meantime.

Well, that and the fact that blades could work pretty damn well against her, unlike a punch or, say, being hit by a truck (which hurt, yeah, but she could pack a helluva punch after that).

Machariah simply shrugged off the shotgun rounds as they hit him, ignoring the spots of blood soaking through his armour. "Talitha Jawoh. Daughter of Skorpion and Tiffaney Jawoh, four years from now. Age sixteen." He swung the back of his polearm around to deflect a charge from her, jabbing her roughly with the pair of barrels on the end. "Alias Tali Texas. Known abilities: Minor regeneration, kinetic energy transfer." The polearm clicked, the revolver cylinders rotating into place. "Known vulnerability to edged weapons. black boyshorts."

Not being a complete idiot, Tali quickly put all that cheerleading she did to use and flipped back out of the way, taking a few more shots as she went just to see if it got any reaction. Of course, she was also required to engage in the casual danger dialogue she so enjoyed, because this was Megatokyo and that was just how the game worked.

"Are you aware of how incredibly creepy that is?" she almost idly inquired. "I mean, you sound like some deranged stalker who's hoping to get to wear my skin as a suit or something - that kind of thing can really turn a girl off."

"A flag would be more useful." Machariah replied, raising his polearm up and firing a flechette round at Tali. "Regrettably, it will have to be a small flag."

"Will not!" Elsie objected, having apparently (finally) decided to join the fight - in this case by throwing a very sparkly, pink and gold tinted shield around herself and Tali (orb-shaped, liked her mother's tended to be).

Tali just looked rather absurdly proud over her niece showing a willingness to outnumber their opponent; she was usually much more concerned with playing fair. Of course, he was also pretty clearly more dangerous than they were, but still.

"Two flags, then." Machariah responded, firing an explosive grenade as a follow-up. "Or perhaps one large one, to raise above Sealand to mark my victory."

Elsie kept her shield up, though she looked a teensy bit nervous about using it against a grenade - she'd never actually done that before. Tali, meanwhile, had taken offense to the very notion that he might be able to beat her, her dad, and all of Sealand and was quick to respond with a, "Fsck you, dad is going to kick your ass!"

Unfortunately, Elsie's shield proved unable to withstand the blast of an explosive grenade at the present point in time, and ultimately collapsed to drop them a few feet into the crater the explosion had left behind, a bit singed but otherwise largely okay. Not that that kept Tali from a moment of panic. "Elsie?!" the older teen exclaimed, searching for confirmation that the younger girl was alright even as she tried tossing a grenade of her own back in Machariah's direction to buy them a second or two.

"I'm okay!" the younger magical girl promised, clearly more than a little disappointed about her shield; mama wouldn't have had any trouble deflecting that, after all. Not that any of that stopped Tali from needing to physically confirm that her niece was, in fact, unharmed (if a little too shaken to be back up on her feet just yet).

Machariah span his polearm, sending the grenade arcing off over the street with the blade. Before the grenade had time to explode, he had closed the distance between him and Tali, attacking to force her back away from Elsie, only to have her literally drag the younger girl along with her as she retreated. She would literally let him stab her before she let him get between her and her niece. Not that she, y'know, wanted to get stabbed or anything.

He was faster than her dad, her brain noted, amidst a littany of curses that even Elsie would have objected to coming from her if she said them aloud. She also rather found herself wanting her dad - downright unheard of for her, during a fight, but she couldn't properly keep Elsie safe and fight him off at the same time, and she couldn't let him hurt Elsie.

"Your attachment is a weakness." Machariah stated between swipes of his blade. "Let it go, and perhaps you can test your skill properly."

"Fsck you, you overgrown science experiment!" was the teen's rather predictable reply. "Just because you never learned how to make friends, doesn't mean the rest of us should have to suffer to keep you from feeling bad. What, mom didn't care enough to teach you some basic social skills?" Tali could get a bit caustic when her niece and best friend (who was finally on her feet, but was also now clinging to her while hiding behind her slightly larger frame) was in the line of fire. Also, she needed to stall for time while calling John and trusting that whatever he overheard would be enough to bring him running 'cause, much as she hated to admit it, she did need some help.

Machariah vanished, reappearing behind Tali and thrusting his blade towards her. The edge grazed Elsie's cheek before severing a few locks of Tali's hair as she dodged. "Let it go. Conceal, don't feel. Let it go."

Tali saw red. Like, literally, saw red as her purple eyes momentarily flashed the other colour as he dared to HURT ELSIE and MESS WITH HER GODDAMN HAIR. Shoving the younger girl further behind her as she moved (perhaps a bit too roughly, but Elsie would forgive her), the teen pulled up her holo wrist-computer (which she still really shouldn't have even had on her in the past), hit a few keys, and a pair of honest-to-god omniblades sprang from her shotgun gauntlets before she used said shotguns to launch herself at him for an attack.

Machariah moved quickly, grabbing Tali and flinging her bodily into the busy street, following her with an explosive grenade. "Too slow."

A few more shots from her gauntlets sent the teen rocketing back towards him before the grenade could even go off, determined to FSCKING HIT HIM ALREADY, GODDAMNIT. Elsie, meanwhile, had somehow ended up with Tali's phone, and could be heard outright screeching for Johnathan as he picked up.

Machariah sidestepped, his cloak swirling like a matador's as he twirled his polearm, managing a long slice down Tali's side as she passed him. "Innovative, but wasteful."

"TALI!" Elsie screamed, completely losing it as someone actually managed to hurt the older girl, and immediately filling the alleyway with a blinding light from the end of her suddenly-appearing staff as she raced to the apparently not invincible Tali's side, drawing up another shield around them and trying to pull her aunt away.

Of course, Tali wasn't about to actually admit to being hurt, even if the blade did really fscking hurt, and even went so far as to try to escape Elsie's arms and bubble to go after him again. She could take him, damnit!

---

Meanwhile Johnathan was already on the way after hearing more than one explosion from their directions. "Yakashima, call HQ for support, grab the others and fall back." He ordered before hanging up, dashing through alleys towards his not yet family in need.

Yakashima nodded, dialing FGTL HQ on her phone. "H-hello? Johnathan-san said to call for support. We're out on patrol with Elsie-chan and Tali-san, and there's been explosions and I think they're hurt..."

"Acknowledged." Came the voice on the other end of the line, the calm dispatcher voice starting to lose composure at the implication that Elsie may have been hurt. "Support is on the way. ETA five minutes."

"Okay~ Arigatou gozaimasu~" Yakashima responded as the line went dead. "<Wait, how do they know where we are?>"

---

It wasn't long before Johnathan rounded a corner to see Machariah's back. Without a word Johnathan silently dashed at him, swinging his blade for the man's neck.

Machariah shifted slightly, swinging his polearm up and over to block Johnathan's strike without even looking. "Johnathan Havloc. Super-soldier, melee specialist, recently awakened magical boy. Sergeant with the Principality of Sealand, general educational assistant at the Cute Magical Girls of Yuki-sama Academy. White boxers."

Johnathan shifted his attack, thrusting his second sword to pierce through his target's back. "Half of your information is irrelevant for this scenario." He stated indifferently.

Machariah looked down at the sword point protruding from his chest. "Interesting. Painful, but interesting." He stepped forwards, turning and bringing the blade of his polearm up to point at Johnathan. "A worthy target at last."

"Uh oh..." Elsie observed from where she was still hanging onto Tali from within the protection of her shield. She'd just realized something. John had been designed to fight land warriors with all his siblings. And her John was missing an arm.

She'd always kinda wondered how he could have lost it. Now she was fairly certain she didn't want to know.

"I'm... gonna call grandmum," the littlest magical girl decided, already fishing out her phone (she'd tucked Tali's into hammerspace out of habit, it would take ages to find it again now).

As Machariah stepped forward Johnathan leapt back. "Could you tell me your life's story before we begin? I have come to understand that creatures such as yourself enjoy this past time." He asked, his tone making it impossible to tell if he was being a smart ass or not.

"Ask your mother, pup. She knows all about the Land Warriors, and the experimental AI projects run concurrently."

"What is your motivation?" Johnathan asked, buying as many seconds as he could with meaningless conversation as he quickly transformed; his armour far more sleek and lightweight than the version seen during the raid, and the previously seen shield replaced with an offhand sword.

"Your head as a trophy." Machariah stated, before charging with lightning speed. His blade swung up to slice across Johnathan's chest as he moved, twisting to hook his sword with a spike on the back of the blade.

Johnathan brought up his sword to guide the slash from his torso, dismissing it as it was hooked to strike at his foe's arm. He resummoned his other sword before making several high speed slashes aimed at very small openings.

Machariah swatted the slashes aside with his gauntlet as he stepped back to gain distance. "Inefficient." He stated, responding with a rapid series of stabs and slashes, driving the wolfboy back towards a wall and away from the magical girls.

Johnathan responded to the assault by dodging and parrying all that he could, taking mostly minor injuries. He gripped his sword, the blade glowing for a moment before he swung upwards with enough force to stagger his opponent, thrusting his other sword at his opponent's neck in an attempt to cut through Machariah's spine.

Machariah jerked back, turning a backflip that was surprisingly graceful until his boot connected with Johnathan's jaw, sending him flying backwards into the wall. This was followed up by an explosive grenade from the back of his staff, blasting a hole in the wall and showering Johnathan with rubble.This earned an alarmed scream from Elsie as she saw her uncle disappear behind the smoke and dust.

"Elsie, let me go, I can help!" Tali insisted, still ignoring her own injury and the fact that no, she probably couldn't. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this just lead to Elsie tightening her hold on the older teen and strengthening her shield to keep her there.

Soon the smoke cleared, showing Johnathan with his shield raised in front of him and blood running down from the top of his head. "To war." He said, swinging his sword, three Greek phantom warriors charged from his blade to attack Machariah, he himself following up behind his vanguard.

"War? Exermination." Machariah replied, starting to grin widely as he sidestepped the oncoming Johnathan. His blade swung down towards Johnathan's shins in an attempt to trip him with the spike on the back of the blade, whistling smoothly through the air.

Johnathan leapt over the hook, two of his phantoms thrusting their swords at Machariah from both sides as a third slashed at his back.

Machariah dodged between the phantoms, gaining distance and lining them up for a flechette round to slice through the trio. As a few of the sharp metal blades bounced off Elsie's shield, Machariah vanished from sight.

Johnathan scanned his surroundings, taking a defensive stance as he listened intently, ears turning this way and that.

Machariah moved stealthily, almost ninja-like as he circled around behind Johnathan, waiting for his opening.

---

Tiffaney had been overseeing Tomoe and Cathal's patrol when her phone went off, her ears perking as she answered. "Hello?"

"ITHINKJOHN'SGONNALOSEHISARM!" a very panicked Elsie announced, by way of a hello.

"What?!" An alarmed Tiffaney responded. "Where? How? What's happening?" Behind Tiffaney, Cathal and Tomoe struggled to pry Sharky's jaw open to free a thug from him.

"The bad guy who's after grandad was hurting people, and I tried to stop him, and he was really mean, and then Tali went after him, and she got hurt, and the earlier people are dead, and then John came to help, but the bad guy can turn invisible, and I think he's gonna lose him arm, and-- and--" the young magical girl rambled, clearly dangerously close to tears again. And also still holding Tali back, because Tali was absolutely not allowed to get herself killed.

"I'm on my way! Take Tali and hide!" Tiffaney said before turning to her students. "Cathal, Tomoe, Johnathan's under attack, you two run to Lucius!" She ordered before jumping onto a near rooftop.

Cathal nodded. "Hai, Sensei!" He replied, watching her go. As she disappeared from the rooftop, he turned back to Tomoe, who had tempted Sharky off the thug with a treat. "Where the frak is Lucius?"

Tomoe shrugged, tossing the fish she was holding to her familiar. "He's YOUR grandfather. Don't YOU know?"

"Tell me where you are." Tiffaney said, waiting for instruction before dashing in Elsie's direction at top speed.

---

"<So, are we just gonna keep patrolling while Elsie and John are in trouble?>" Yakashima asked, frowning. "<We can't just leave them.>"

"AW, HELL NAW!" Kawasaki responded, shaking her head hard enough for her pigtails to whip around. "<Call the others. He's saved us enough times, we need to save HIM. That's not the way of love and justice.>"

"Verily, we canst not leave our brother in arms!"

"Kyuun!"

---

"Defend." Johnathan stated, four shielded phantoms rushing from the wolfboy's shield to form a defensive perimeter around him.

Machariah watched the phantoms, nodding to himself. He tossed a flashbang grenade before leaping from his perch on a fire escape, his invisibility dropping halfway down as the grenade exploded near Johnathan. The alleyway was filled with blinding white light and noise as he dropped, blade slicing down towards the wolfboy.

As the flashbang went off the phantoms leapt back, scanning in front of them as Johnathan looked upward to see his attacker. He slashed his sword upward, a phantom with a blade of it's own launching from it to swing at Machariah as John readied his shield.

Machariah batted the phantom aside with his weapon as he dropped, shouldering it aside on his way down. As he closed, his polearm made contact with Johnathan's blade, a quick twist allowing the spike to catch it and force it back towards him with the aid of Machariah's weight. The blade itself drove for Johnathan's shoulder as the twin barrels on the rear of the polearm fired for additional thrust; the phantoms being ignored as Machariah focused on his target.

Johnathan slid back from the impact of his sword arm being impaled, his sword dropping to the ground as the tendons were severed. The wolfboy quickly shield-bashed his opponent's head, his augmentations preventing him from feeling the pain that he should.

Machariah stepped back, twisting his polearm viciously as he tugged it back out, grinning widely as he turned to address the phantoms landing around him. There was an explosion from above as the grenade he'd launched on the way down contacted the wall, and he snapped into motion. His blade sang as it sliced and cut through the air and the phantoms, bucking as he fired flechettes, his feet moving rapidly as he dealt with the multiple opponents in the rain of bricks and chunks of fire escape.

Johnathan grit his teeth as his sword arm was cut off, his augmentations rapidly stopping the bleeding as he defended against the rest of Machariah's attack, the phantoms disappearing one by one.

Elsie was screaming without actually realizing it, hands racing to cover her eyes even as she continued to hang on to her aunt to keep her from charging into the fray; Tali, for her part, was looking outright murderous, and the only reason she hadn't yet escaped from Elsie's hold was her utter inability to hurt the younger girl. She really could have done without Elsie screaming in her ear, though, that kinda hurt.

Machariah turned back to Johnathan as the last phantom vanished, kicking the dropped sword aside. He swung his polearm up, taking aim at Johnathan's neck to finish him off. The blade started to move, and a bolt of magic hit him in the side of the head. He winced, the blade wavering and dropping as he turned down the alleyway to regard the threat.

The threat in question was Yakashima, flanked by Kawasaki, Ayano, and Miyu. As Machariah snarled at them, they loosed more bolts of magic, driving him back, away from Johnathan and towards the street as they shouted at him.

"<For love and justice!>"

"<For cuteness and animal ears!>"

"<For Odin and Valhalla!>"

"<For fluffy tail!>"

"<We strike at you, doer of evil!>" The last part was shouted in unison as they charged more bolts, blocking the alleyway.

"Elsie, LET GO!" Tali tried demanding, in the hope that more backup might actually get the younger girl to listen this time.

And then like a flaming semi launched by a railgun from space, Tiffaney impacted against Machariah, slamming him into the concrete as the resistance slowed them to a halt, the smoke clearing to reveal Tiffaney's magical girl form; white karate Gi pants with the top resting on her shoulders, kept there by seemingly nothing as bandages covered her hands, feet, and bust as orange, white and black tiger-striped hair took the place of her usually brunette hair, ears, and tail; the usual gentleness in her eyes replaced with a look of pure determination. She leapt back, landing neatly before slamming her foot to the ground, cracking the concrete. "Now'd be a good time to kill yourself." She advised, spitting on the floor.

"Mother?" Johnathan questioned as her visage was made clear.

The magical girls pulled back to a respectful distance, assuming guard stances to protect Elsie's bubble.

Machariah tensed, flipping himself back onto his feet before wrenching a shoulder back into joint. Blood dripped off him from multiple stab wounds as he stepped back from Tiffaney's aura, twirling his polearm around to point the barrels at her. "Tiffaney Jawoh. Teacher at the Cute Magical Girls of Yuki-sama Academy. Head scientist of the Followers of Great Teacher Largo. Mother of Alexis Havloc, Johnathan Havloc, Devin Greyson, Evangeline Contessa, and Talitha Jawoh. Girlfriend of Skorpion." He stated, not justifying the latter with his official titles. "Former employee of DARPA, creator of multiple super-soldier programs and associated with clean-up from the Advanced Land Warrior project. Extracted from Norfolk, Virginia during a terrorist attack credited to a rogue al-quaeda faction, suspected work of the Principality of Sealand. Red lace thong." He concluded, before firing both barrels at her.

"I did not need to know that!" Tali loudly objected from the sidelines as Johnathan approached the group, summoning his secondary sword in case it was needed.

Tiffaney smirked, ripping up a chunk of concrete to take the brunt of the blast for her, simply tanking the remaining chunks of concrete and shrapnel.

Machariah raised an eyebrow. "Abilities on file do not match with observations. Amending."

"I'm gonna amend your face with my foot, ya two-bit knock-off backstabbin' creepy little beady-eyed stalker, metal coffin-wearin' toothpick-toting smiley overcompensatin' pig-headed heavy-set cyberpunk wannabe..."

Machariah stood there as the insults were reeled off and hurled at him, tapping his foot impatiently as he loaded rounds into his polearm's cylinders.

"... Dairy farmer-fightin' swashbuckled malfunctioning banjaxed sheep-shagging gutter-crawling halitosis-afflicted butt-munching cock-biting ass-kissing warthog-faced pompous... Fotze!" Tiffaney concluded with her middle finger raised to Machariah.

"Are you quite finished?" Machariah asked, the blood having ceased dripping from his armour. He made a mental note to avoid magical girls and their speeches from now on.

"I could go on. You're quite inspiring." Tiffaney retorted.

"That was a bit much, mom," even Tali had to concede. Elsie was just glad she'd stopped trying to join the fight.

The magical girls applauded politely, even as more arrived from around the city to witness the fight.

"I had hoped to engage you at a later point, after presenting you the heads of your children. But this will have to suffice." Machariah continued.

"What a shame. Guess yours'll have to do." Tiffaney remarked. "Well? It's rude to keep a girl waiting, so off with it. You're barely using it, so you might as well, honestly."

"Are you here to fight or to talk?" Machariah asked, before charging at Tiffaney. Halfway there, he vanished, appearing behind her midway through an upward diagonal sweep to her midsection.

Tiffaney turned sharply, grabbing the weapon and bending it as she directed it from her, using her free hand to punch her opponent in the gut.

Machariah wheezed as the air was knocked out of him, grabbing her arm and twisting it sharply in an attempt to dislocate it.

Tiffaney smiled and blushed, letting out a small wince as her arm was dislocated, delivering an uppercut that knocked Machariah off his feet. "Oh, my. You like to play rough, don't you?" She asked as she popped her arm back into place. "But I don't like pushy men." She said, leaning forward before dashing at her foe and swinging for a haymaker.

Machariah stepped smoothly out the way of her punch before stepping back in, redirecting the momentum of her charge towards an oncoming bus.

Tiffaney crashed into the bus, taking a seat and throwing it at Machariah before dashing out to charge him again.

Machariah caught the seat, charging into Tiffaney to hit her with it.

Just before reaching Machariah, Tiffaney stopped abruptly, holding her hand out to the seat as it swung down, all of the energy of the blow disappearing the moment it touched her hand. The woman grinned as she straightened her hand like a dagger and thrusted it into his shoulder with the strength of both herself and Machariah behind it, the hand piercing through armour and bone before being quickly withdrawn. "Do machines fear?"

Tali whooped her applause from her continued place in the background; watching mom fight was always awesome.

"I am not a machine." Machariah stated, stepping back as the nanites started to knit the flesh of his shoulder back together. "Machines do not 'feel'. They simply are." He stepped back again, reaching under his cloak and dropping a grenade at his feet. "I will return for you." He added, before vanishing into the smoke as the grenade went off, spewing thick smoke everywhere. There was a brief silence, punctuated only by the hissing of the smoke grenade.

The silence then was cut by the sudden approach of a helicopter at low level. Rotors nearly grazing the sides of buildings, the helicopter pulled sharply into a hover above Tiffaney, blasting the smoke away, scattering the traffic beneath it, and causing clothing to flutter in the downdraft, revealing a complete lack of Machariah other than a trail of fading drips and bloody footprints that gave out halfway across the street. A door opened in the side and a figure leaped out, landing heavily next to Johnathan and starting to fuss over the wound in his shoulder.

"I do not mean to cause alarm, but I believe I am going into shock." Johnathan informed the figure factually.

"Next time, just call me out. I don't need bait to bite." Tiffaney said before gritting her teeth and walking over to Johnathan. "I should have aimed for his head." She muttered to herself before reaching her son.

Rekko looked up to Tiffaney as he finished bandaging Johnathan's stump. "Ah, good timing. Can you talk to him?" He asked her, as he injected Johathan with nanites. "He's going into shock, so keep him talking and lucid. I'm going to tend to the magical girls over there; one's bleeding for sure."

Once the bandaging had been completed Tiffaney took hold of her son before sitting him down. "I'm sorry I wasn't faster." She said, pulling him into a hug.

"I let him hurt Talitha. I should have been faster as well." Johnathan said with impeccable calm.

"Hey, you did your best, and everyone's alive because of it." Tiffaney informed, smiling gently at Johnathan. "We're gonna fix you. It'll be risky, but we're gonna get that chip outta your head too..." She paused to think for a moment. "Do you remember when you and Alexis were little? You would sneak out to spend the night with me all the time."

"Alexis was having nightmares, and I didn't want to see her unhappy... Why is that?" Johnathan asked, his calm unwavering.

"Because you're a good brother." Tiffaney responded.

"Tali's bleeding!" a worried and still rather traumatized (and thus rather shrill-sounding) Elsie announced to the group in the meantime, once John was no longer in danger of, y'know, bleeding out.

"What are you even talking abou--" the teen in question tried to argue, only to suddenly realize that she was, in fact, bleeding. And it kinda hurt. And also that... "GODDAMNIT, HE SLICED THROUGH MY MAGICAL GIRL OUTFIT!"

"Don't yell." Tiffaney lightly scolded as she tended to Johnathan before thinking to herself. "All this caring. I'd let the other one take over again if I wasn't positive she'd lose it." She let out a sigh. "It's kinda nice though... How do you feel Tali? You aren't hurt too bad, are you?"

Rekko steped over to Tali, crouching down to inspect her wounds. "Yes, he did. Now keep still; I'm going to have to peel it back to see the damage."

"I'm fine," the teen insisted, waving away the injury with the air of one who wouldn't be overly concerned with anything short of an actual mortal wound. Elsie was still fretting, however, so it was rather hard to tell who to listen to.

Tali did let Rekko take a look, though; she knew better than to argue against that. And it did kinda hurt. A bit.

"No, no, you're not fine." Rekko replied as he peeled the edges of her sliced clothing away. "That's quite a lot of blood, and..." He trailed off. frowning. "And you're already healing the worst of it. Elsie, did you give her any nanites?" He turned to look up at the younger magical girl.

That earned a confused bit of blinking from the younger girl decked out in pink and gold. "No?" Elsie provided, something about her tone suggesting that it wasn't something she remotely associated with Tali-injuries, and thus very much hadn't even occurred to her as an option.

"Okay, because that's what it looks like is happening there..." He trailed off again, turning back to Tali. "I've seen this before, with Lexi." He remarked, reaching to the belt around his waist and producing a needle, peeling the wrapping off it before quickly threading it. "This is probably going to hurt, but you'll heal faster." He explained as he started to sew the wound shut. "Just don't move too much until it's closed up, and the nanites will just eat the stitches when they need to." He tied the thread off and stood up, stepping back.

"Spoilers," Tali snarked, making a great show of totally not even noticing the stitching that was happening or that it totally fscking hurt. She did a good job of standing perfectly still, though.

"That's no way to talk to a medical professional." Rekko replied. "I'll be having words with who I suspect is your father as soon as we're back at HQ. Once I've handed Johnathan off to someone who can treat him, anyway." He sighed, reaching to pat Tali on the head but thinking better of it when he saw the mass of curls, deciding to pat her on the shoulder instead. "Good girl for being brave. Do you want a lollipop?"

That earned an outright snort from Tali. "Good luck with that." Her dad was so well known for his listening skills, after all. "And no, I don't need a treat, I'm not a kid." She was looking a bit sulky over the very suggestion.

"Can I have one?" Elsie asked, softly enough that it was actually concerning. She wasn't especially hurt, but it was entirely possible she could end up going into emotional shock after all that had happened. And she was definitely close to tears again.

"Sure." Rekko handed the lollipop to Elsie, stepping over to wrap her in a hug. "Are you hurt at all?"

Aaaaand the youngest of the magical girls was instantly dissolving into noisy tears which were largely for John, and Tali, and those two boys from earlier who were very definitely dead, and she hadn't been able to save. And Rekko rather lost all mobility as she rather firmly attached herself to him; he had been the one to hug her, after all.

Rekko sighed, rubbing the magical girl's back gently. "It's okay, let it all out."

Tali could be heard letting out a very faint sigh. Though she certainly would have done the same herself, had Rekko not managed to provide the hug first, those could be dangerous words when dealing with a genuinely, deeply upset magical girl. Elsie could keep up the crying and clinging for quite some time, after all, and most people (especially in this time) weren't terribly used to dealing with it.

Rekko shifted Elsie a little, picking her up so he could walk over to the helicopter as it landed in the now-cleared street. "Everyone on board, and let's get back to HQ." Hopefully she'll fall asleep or something soon.

Tali, meanwhile, headed over to her not-yet-mom and -brother, to see if they needed any help.

"So, you're my brat from the future?" Tiffaney teased, smiling to the teenager. "I'm proud of you for protecting Elsie."

"I always protect Elsie," Tali replied, rather more gently than intended, and almost looked a bit awkward as she asked, "Is John gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, his life's not in danger, though I'm worried about his arm."

The teen girl opened her mouth as if to say something about that, only to snap it shut again without a word. She didn't actually want to cause a paradox or anything, even if she could totally make him a bionic one. And she was already pretty familiar with the one he had in her time. That would definitely be paradox material.

---

"He lost this." Rekko explained, handing over Johnathan's severed arm to the nearest doctor. The doctor looked at it, swallowed once, and then promptly fainted. Rekko sighed, and looked around at the suddenly-clear room. "Eva? You around? Maybe someone who ISN'T afraid of the sight of blood?"

A few moments later Eva entered the room, already dressed for surgery. "Where are they?"

"The other doctors? Fled." Rekko replied, gesturing with Johnathan's arm. "Johnathan is in the next room, missing this." He offered the arm to Eva. "I know you can stick arms back on some people, but I don't think he's one of them, is he?"

"Well. I could, but it wouldn't be the same. With normal Largoists I can get them somewhat close to how they could use the limb before, but Johnathan requires motor skills that can't be attained with a re-attatched limb." Evangeline informed as she walked to Johnathan's room.

Rekko frowned. "Then he's either going to have to learn to cope, or Skorp will have to make a bionic replacement or something." He shrugged, setting the arm back into the icebox next to Johnathan's bed. "Either way, it's out of my depth. I'm a combat medic, Jim, not a doctor!"

"Johnathan." Evangeline said sitting next to the bed. "I can re-attach your arm, but it won't be feasible to use it in combat." She informed. "So it's up to you. We can re-attach your old arm... Or find a way to make you a new one."

Johnathan looked to the ceiling and thought. "How long for a new arm?"

"I don't know. We'd have to get Skorpion and maybe even Devin to get an estimate." Eva said, turning to Rekko. "Could you get Skorpion for me, please?"

A sudden noise out in the hall went largely unnoticed, as Tali tried reeeeeally super hard to be a good girl and not go rushing into the room already spouting ideas for a new arm.

Rekko nodded, heading off to find the boss.

---

"<Yes, I know.>" Skorpion explained.

"<Wh-what, you KNEW that? That it was hereditary?>" Rekko spluttered as he walked with Skorpion back to the infirmary.

"<Well, no, but I suspected. It's biological, and my genes DO code for it, and Lexi grew one when she synced with the nanites by accident.>" Skorpion shrugged. "<Makes sense to me, so I'm not going to question it.>" He reached out to ruffle Tali's hair as he passed her in the corridor. "You should be resting, not pestering John."

"I'm not pestering!" the teen automatically objected, still clearly itching to get in there and play the mad engineer. "And quit touching the hair!"

"Rest. We can work on the arm when you're healed. I'll probably need your grasp of future tech to get it working." Skorpion replied firmly. "How's Elsie?"

"<Oh, I handed her off to Lucius.>" Rekko chimed in. "<He's the one in charge of the Academy, so I figure it's his problem if nobody else's.>"

Tali bounced - actually bounced - with excitement at the prospect of getting to work on it, immediately insisting, "I'm fiiiiiiine, not bleeding or anything, all nice and stitched up, and I cleaned it and everything!" She'd even changed out of her magical girl outfit, she was totally ready to go. And clearly, Elsie was going to be fine - she had Lucius, and likely Arella as well by now.

"Good. Now go rest while it heals." Skorpion repeated. "If you open it up again bouncing around, I'm not letting you work on it."

The teenager practically wibbled at him at that; she didn't want to go rest, resting was boring, especially when there were more interesting things she could be doing.

"Hey Tali. Givin' your dad a hard time?" The still magical girl formed Tiffaney asked.

"She needs rest. Make sure she actually gets some." Skorpion replied. "Also, hi, dear. Nice outfit."

"Hello, hansome." Tiffaney flirted with a wave. "I gotta say, not a bad choice for softy." She said, looking over Skorpion.

"But you never rest after getting injured or stabbed or dismembered or anything!" the teen argued, aptly using one of the greatest weapons in her arsenal - namely, the ability to point out that dad totally does it! She was also totally ignoring her not-yet-parents flirting, because of course she was.

Skorpion leaned down to kiss Tiffaney, causing her tail to give a content sway. "I'm tougher than you, I heal faster, and I'm an adult. You're still growing. Rest, Tali."

"It wasn't even a real stabbing though, it was just a little cut!" Tali stubbornly protested.

"You got sliced right the way down one side!" Rekko pointed out frustratedly. "Listen to your father, and rest. I'll get you a technical manual and a sketchpad if it'll help."

"Now, now. She's our daughter. She's not gonna do a thing without a bit of bribery, am I right?" Tiffaney said with a grin as she leaned into Skorpion. "If you do what your father says I'll spar with you, and maybe teach you something new."

"After she's healed." Rekko cautioned.

Skorpion wrapped an arm around Tiffaney, holding her close. "That reminds me. Rekko, don't tell anyone we're her parents. Not even Lexi. I don't want to cause any more paradoxes than I already have."

Rekko nodded, saluting. "Patient confidentiality, got it."

Tali was very, very still for a moment, the gears very clearly turning in her head (and quickly, at that). Then she wanted to know, "How long do I have to rest for?"

"Until you're healed." Rekko repeated with a sigh. "Don't make me sedate you."

"But it's already mostly healed," the teen couldn't help insisting, even pulling up her shirt to show off how awesomely efficient her healing was being. "You don't expect me to, like, wait until even any sign of scarring is gone, do you?" Because that would take forever in teenager time.

"Then let's make it until I say you can." Tiffaney offered.

"I do, actually." Rekko pointed out, leaning down to inspect the wound. "It's not knitted together properly yet."

Skorpion sighed, releasing TIffaney and heading in to see Johnathan. "I'll get the design specs worked out, and I'll call you when I get to the fun bit."

"If she gives you trouble, just let me know." Tiffaney said with a smile, waving to Rekko as she followed after Skorpion.

Tali opened her mouth, likely to point out that she already knew the design specs and had totally already taken the thing apart a few times, only to remember that whole paradox issue and close it again. "Fiiiiiine," she conceded.

Rekko straightened up again, looking Tali in the eye. "Tell you what. Let's go get some icecream, then you can talk guns with Lexi."

The teen girl perked up a bit at that, at least enough that she wasn't looking sulky anymore, and requested, "Peach ice cream?"

"Sure. What point is getting injured if you don't get your favourite flavour of icecream?" Rekko asked, chuckling. "You know, this reminds me of how I met Lexi..."

---

Skorpion frowned as he poked at Johnathan's wound, grumbling. "At least it was sharp. A chainsaw would have been hell to clean up after. Anyway. We COULD reattach it, but we don't have a lot of options. We can either try and attach it and risk rejection, and deal with a lengthy rehabilitation as you work out how to use it again. Secondly, we could recreate the accident Lexi had, which might work, and would give a better chance of the arm working again, but I've not tested how that'll work out with actual severed limbs. Thirdly..." He pulled a strand of metal from the wound, leaning in for a closer look. "Thirdly, we can construct and attach a bionic replacement. Modular, so we can upgrade it, but it'll work right away and you'll just have to learn how to use it. It might blunt your magical abilities, though." He explained.

"I apologize for the trouble." Johnathan stated. "I will attempt bionics. Evangiline said that my old arm will not be able to perform at the level I require it to."

"Probably the best option. It's not like it's a reliable procedure to stick nanite organs in people, considering that we're tw... Three successes up, out of a grand total of 50 test subjects. Plus Lexi." Skorpion straightened up, but paused halfway, reaching back in to tug something out from deeper in the shoulder joint. "Flechettes, huh? Looks like we need to X-ray you before anything else, and get them out. Trust me; you do NOT want anything that size stuck in you long-term."

"Very well." Johnathan agreed.

"Maybe we can pinpoint that damn chip while we're at it." Skorpion muttered under his breath as he waved the X-ray machine over on the drone it'd been mounted on. "Stand up over there and raise your arms... Arm." Skorpion directed, pointing to the middle of the machine as it unfolded. "Your mother's just going to stand over there behind the radiation shield, and I'm not because I'm practically immune to radiation anyway, if last week's containment accident with the shuttle engine is anything to go by."

Johnathan nodded before doing as he was instructed to. "What will happen to me if you remove the chip?"

Skorpion groaned inwardly; he kept forgetting about the sensitive kemonomimi hearing. "Well, you'll probably overload for a while, but then you'll be back to normal levels of emotional response. Of course, we'll probably not be able to remove it, per se, but I'm working on a method of bypassing or deactivating it."

"Overload? What do you mean?" Johnathan asked, waiting for the X-ray to finish.

"Think of it like being stuck in a sensory deprivation tank for a month, then being released from it into a packed nightclub." Skorpion explained. "At least, that's how it felt for me when they switched on my implants. It sent half the subjects insane right there and then, just from all the extra stimulation. I'm pretty sure you're strong enough mentally to take it, though." He concluded, trying to reassure the wolfboy. The X-ray machine made a very microwave-like ping as it finished, spitting the X-rays out into a tray. Skorpion picked one up, holding it up to the light and doing a double-take. "My god, you're full of bullets. We need to schedule some surgery to get rid of all of those sometime.

"I am used to them." Johnathan assured as he stepped from the X-Ray.

"Once this nonsense is done, you're getting fixed up. There must be a few pounds of lead and copper in you. You're practically a viable ore by now."

"Understood." Johnathan said as he walked back to sit in his bed.

---

"We can rebuild him! Better! Faster! Stronger!" Skorpion cried, before cackling madly. "Of course, this won't be CHEAP, but it's an investment. We can't have a one-armed swordsman. Also, we got something new to analyse out of the whole thing, even IF Tiffaney bent it into a pretzel." Skorpion gestured to the polearm in question.

"Yes, very good. Can I go back to my anime now?" The AI complained, the icon of a goth foxboy looking decidedly bored.

Skorpion sighed. Teenagers. "Fine. But if I catch you perving on Tali, I'm deleting all your hentai. And don't tell me you don't have any; I built you."

"Copied me."

"I built your hardware."

"Assembled."

"Nope, designed and built it all myself."

The icon vanished in a puff of computer logic, leaving Skorpion alone in his lab.

"Oh, stop sneaking around, I know you're out there. You may as well just come in, but I WILL let Rekko sedate you if you open that up again." Skorpion warned.

"It's science, not a fscking marathon," Tali objected with the hint of a whine (honestly, you'd think she pulled stitches all the time, the way everyone kept fussing), waltzing into the room as if she owned the place.

"Engineering." Skorpion corrected her. "Science is what your mother does, between kicking ass, taking names, and teaching. This is engineering. It has a point, and a result."

"And I just stick them all together," the teen girl quite reasonably pointed out, claiming a spot perched atop a nearby table and making herself comfortable. Not to mention snagging a few things to fiddle with along the way, almost purely out of habit. "Plus magic. How's John doing?"

"He's got enough lead and shrapnel in him to almost be worth mining." Skorpion answered, poking at the screen taking up most of one wall and nudging the icons off into one corner. "So once this psycho is dealt with, I'm going to start doing just that. Pass me his arm, will you?"

With a great show of just how put upon she was (because she had to get back up, not because of what she was delivering), Tali hopped back down and abandoned her fiddling to pass him the requested arm. The arm which she didn't seem remotely bothered by. "I meant more, y'know, psychologically," she quite reasonably pointed out. "Seeing as he just lost his arm."

Skorpion looked over to her, his expression carefully neutral. "I will recover. I will do as ordered."

The teen let out a sigh and rolled her eyes. "Okay, fine, so I'm having trouble getting used to that part." Even with Elsie's constant fretting about what was wrong with him.

Skorpion grinned, feeding the now-frozen arm through a nearby scanner. "Okay. Needs to be about this size so we don't have to make him new clothes. That's the easy part. The real question is how we get all the servos in there." He frowned at the display, calling up a list of parts and starting to resize them; numbers changing as they moved around. "I think we're going to have to go a bit bulkier than before."

Another eye roll. "No, you really don't, especially not by that much. You just need to ditch these," Tali stepped up to the screen, practically nudging Skorp out of the way as she proceeded to swipe a number of the parts off screen and outright draw their replacements (because they didn't exist yet), "and use these instead. Much easier, takes up less space, and they don't add as much weight. He's a swordsman, balance is important."

Skorpion raised an eyebrow as he stepped aside. "It is, but I don't have any of those. The tech isn't there to make THAT, and that's just impossible with the materials I have on hand." He remarked, reaching over to tweak things back to current technology. "I'll upgrade him once I've invented new stuff, but we've got to go for off the shelf here so we can get him armed again."

More eye rolling, as the teen replaced her dad's preferred parts with her own again, albeit not as many of them. "So I'll make these, then. I know you've got the materials for some, at least, I've been using them myself, and it wouldn't be hard to just make the tech to make them." She was totally going to have to take apart her latest project for this, though. Honestly, the things she did for family.

Skorpion adjusted things, hooking the parts together around the skeleton. "Titanium alloy will be perfect for it, which is handy because I just got a deal on a MiG to use for parts. His arm will be safe up to Mach 4 even before we add armour and shielding. Fuel cells for power, which we can recharge with Stirling engines and tapping his bioelectric energy. And I can fab up some synthetic muscle to round things out." Skorpion paused, grinning as he got an idea. "And we can add wrist and elbow spikes, made from the polearm that severed it in the first place, just for irony. Maybe slots for a forearm shield."

"Mhmm," the teen girl allowed, barely even seeming to pay attention (though she was), before pointing to another part of the growing design. "That bit's wrong, by the way." She actually batted his hands out of the way as she made corrections, while rather idly informing, "And I think Dev figures something out for the power, I could never totally figure that part out." Y'know, in spite of having taken the future arm apart a few times. The design had Dev written all over it, though.

"He probably will. In fact, he's probably about to wander in to interfere with it; you know what he's like."

"It probably helps that he sees just about everything on security cameras around the city," Tali noted; odds were good he already knew everything that had happened that night, in which case he would head over to HQ.

Just then, the door opened and Devin entered, using his TK glove to hold the power source from the android he was working on. "I've come to help design Johnathan's arm. I have a power source that we can make small enough to fit, but I haven't begun designs on anything else because I figured you would. Hello Talitha."

"Right on cue." Skorpion remarked. "If you've got the specs, put them on the screen. I need him up and slicing as soon as possible, so we can get this guy quicker."

"And it's Tali, please," the teen girl corrected, her tone suggesting that it was in no way for the first time. Honestly, she only ever got called Talitha when she was in Trouble.

"I like Talitha more. Makes it sound like you're in trouble for something." Devin said, the two apparently thinking along the same lines on that matter. "That aside, I brought the blueprints of the current model, the model itself, and plans for the smaller-scaled version." The catboy listed off as he moved to the table and set down the power source.

Skorpion's eyebrows raised as he looked at the details. "Okay, I'm totally mass-producing these. At the very least, I want one for my chainsword."

"See? I told'ya it was Dev's," Tali merely pointed out, sounding pleased with herself.

"Of course it's mine, Skorpion and energy efficiency go together like gas and water. All you'd get is flaming water." Devin stated plainly.

Skorpion shrugged. "I'm not so limited for space, most of the time."

"Fair enough excuse, I suppose." Devin said with a smirk, making it evident he was only joking.

Skorpion grinned. "Now, let's get Johnathan fixed up."

---

Summary:

Johnathan is out escorting magical girl patrols.
Kawa-chan/Yakashima, Ayano/Miyu, and Tali/Elsie. Who are later.
For love, justice, cuteness, and Odin!

Stalky stalky.
Machariah attacks a couple of thugs in an alleyway, as bait.

Elsie is attracted to the screams, and OMFG BLOOD EVERYWHERE.
Recitation of information. (Lilac purple.)
He knows about the time travel thing!
And proceeds to use Elsie as better bait, making her cry.

Tali arrives, attracted by Elsie crying.
Oh dear, she's vulnerable to blades.
Recitation of information. (Black boyshorts.)
He threatens to turn Tali into a flag. A very small flag. To raise above Sealand.
Disney quotes, and kaboom. He also hurts the Hair.
Tali makes a tactical error, and gets hurt.
Elsie intervenes to save her.
Now he has more bait!

Johnathan's on the way, and has Yakashima call for backup.

Johnathan arrives, by way of sneak attack through the chest.
HE'S JUST SHRUGGING THAT OFF!
What does he want? John's head as a trophy.
Recitation of information. (White boxers.)
Duel ensues, with Elsie and Tali interjecting from behind a shield.
Elsie phones Tiffaney.
Tiffaney zips off to assist.

John's remaining magical girls call for more magical girls and head to back up Johnathan-sempai!
Verily.

John uses his magical powers, Machariah fights harder.
And takes Johnathan's arm off.
Oh shit.
The magical girls arrive, and loose magic to separate Machariah from Johnathan.
Tiffaney arrives! She's... She's a magical girl?
Recitation of information. (Red lace thong. Oh my!)
Tiffaney's dramatic speech is long-winded and full of insults.
Hey, that's where Alexis got her accent from!
Machariah engages, and gets his ass handed to him and his polearm stolen and bent.
Smoke, and a ninja vanish.

Medical support arrives!
It's Rekko! Tokyo's leading expert on both super-soldier and magical girl first aid.
Tali's bleeding too, so Rekko treats both.
Lollipop? No? Elsie wants one though.
Tali's mostly healing on her own...
Elsie gloms onto Rekko as he shifts to taking care of the emotional injuries. Sob sob sob, hug hug cliiiing.

Rekko tries to get medical care for Johnathan, but the doctors have vanished.
Eva's there, though.
Here, he lost this.
Rekko's sent for Skorp.

Discussion of genetics.
STOP TOUCHING THE HAIR.
Rest, Tali.
Hey Tiffaney. Nice outfit. No huge surprise, though.
Tali, GET SOME REST.
Patient confidentiality.
Rekko decides that since Tali won't rest, he'll fill her with icecream and let her talk guns with Lexi.

Skorpion scans Johnathan, and restates his desire to remove the chip.
Also, he needs to see someone to get all the shrapnel and bullets out after the whole thing.

Skorp starts work on a bionic arm; the old one's dead and won't be usable properly.
Tali helps. A great deal, actually.
Oh, that bit's Devin's bit.
Hello Devin. Thank you for the power source.
Skorp is not an energy efficient person.
Family bonding over fixing Johnathan.
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 Fri May 06, 2016 11:05 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Back in the Saddle
Location: Saitama, Yokota Air Base, a sniper hide
Characters Major Wylder, Agent MacIntyre, Shiori, Captain Eikichi Ramirez-Kisaragi, SFC Arcturus, 28th Armored Infantry Platoon, random Yokota Air Base personnel, D4N1
Authors ArsenalXA4, Hyuuint
TimeStamp: A short time after Realignment

---

There was an unusual sight on the street. The people who lived there were quite used to the snowleopard girl jogging around, or just simply walking to and fro as she did her normal work. But now? She was in a set of American military fatigues, though there was no indication as to what branch, boots, and her normally free hair was tied up into a ponytail. Like everything else she wore, she filled out what she was wearing far too well, but in this case, it was simply undermined by the sheer militancy of her dress, as well as her stance. Under her shoulder was a simple tote bag, though people could swear it twitched occassionally.

Looking at her watch, Shiori merely waited for the coming vehicle. It had been four years since her last rendevous with the military, in any aspect. And yet, out of the blue, she recieved orders from a base near the island-nation, to help out with some sort of special procedure. Something about the use of her talents, skills, and the orders of someone from higher than themselves. Shiori thought it was a bit odd, considering how long it had been since she was needed, but she decked herself out nonetheless, and thus she was here. Waiting.

---

The black staff car wove through the streets, it's plates identifying it as a diplomatic vehicle. One that would have to be returned to the Embassy at a later time. Major Wylder felt it to be a more logical choice of conveyance compared to the myriad of Humm Vees and utility trucks at Yokota Air Base. Driving was Major Wylder, clad in ACUs and a green beret. Being an actual Green Beret allowed him that privelige compared to the rest of the platoon, with Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi and Sergeant First Class Arcturus getting the Maroon beret of the Airborne forces. Mac, on the other end of the spectrum, wore Multicam fatigues and a patrol cap. Both men had drop holsters with Sig P-226 pistols at their side. Under Mac's seat was a UTS-15 shotgun, for close encounters should they happen. The car itself was an uparmored model, the suspension altered to accomodate the heavier load.

"Okay, run it by me one more time." Mac said, breaking the silence as Jenks turned down another street.

"We're picking up a late addition to the platoon, per Gunsight." Jenks replied, using Brigadier Rosoft's callsign. "She's been vetted and is apparently on the level."

"She? Any unit affiliations?"

Jenks shook his head. "None. Apparently there were multiple super soldier programs running under the Pentagon's edict. Land Warrior was the only one that I was aware of."

"Because of your XO?"

"Because of my XO, who we will be picking up after this." Jenks replied, slowing down as he saw...

"...huge tracts of land..." Jenks mused upon seeing Shiori.

"I didn't think they made uniforms in that size." Mac added as the Major pulled up, putting the car in park then killing the engine.

"I didn't either. Now, let's go." The two men exited the car and walked up.

Shiori had spotted the car as it rounded the corner, and figured it was her ride. When the two emerged, her suspicions were confirmed. She gave a polite salute to the Major, then held out a hand to them in turn. "Greetings, gentlemen. Shiori of the....well, we never got named, but of one of the projects. You must be Major Jenks Wylder and First Sergeant Nick MacIntyre. Nice to meet you both." As each man gripped her offered hand, they noticed that despite her definitely strong grip, she was rather soft to the touch.

"It's... a pleasure..." Jenks said, distracted. Mac simply coughed. "Let's get back on the road. We've another stop to make on the way back to Yokota."

"Very well then." She gave a brilliant smile to the both of them, and made her way to the car. Her tail swished lightly behind her as she walked. She seated herself, and the car lowered just slightly. Thanks to the extra suspension, it didn't lower nearly as much to a normal car.

"Major, your Captain doesn't have a tail, or ears, right?" Mac whispered as they went back to the car.

"No... I've... seen him enough times to say that for certain." Jenks admitted, taking a moment to get over the discomfort of the answer.

"Not judging you, sir. Can't be helped." Mac replied as the two agents got back into the car. Jenks inserted the key and started the engine, the car taking a moment longer to turn over than it should have.

"We weren't given much to go by when they told us to pick you up." the Major said as he pulled the car around, heading in the direction they had come. "Care to fill us in?" And not as much as you fill in that jacket he didn't say.

"What would you like to know? And would you two mind it if I let Joey out? He's not seen much of the city, but I didn't want to freak folks out." Shiori asked back, with a hand atop the bag she brought with her. It twitched lightly at the name. Mac turned around to look in the backseat.

"Joey? Who's Joey?" he asked.

"Considering who we are to work with, I figured a fellow representative of their kind would be nice. A new face and all that, if a fair bit smaller." She unzipped the bag, and out from the top popped out the "head" of a mechanical spider, build very much like that of a standard issue mech, save much much smaller and far more "cute" looking. It's small robotic eyes looked about and focused on Mac, the former Delta doing his best to keep from pulling the sidearm strapped to his thigh out. Instead he turned back forward, taking a breath.

"Major, you wouldn't happen to have your contraband with you, would you?" he asked, flipping the safety off then on on his sidearm. Jenks waited to pull up to a stoplight before fishing a flask out of one of his pockets and handing it over.

"Don't drink it all. I still haven't found my sixth spare bottle." Jenks said as Mac took a quick swig.

"I bet your SFC has it. That son of a bitch has to have it." Hayden was still out in the field doing God knows what. His surveillance and fire support mission ahd been relegated to the USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) as not only did the Zumwalt class Destroyer have the capabilities to continue a modified sniper overwatch but she also had the ability to deliver a higher volume of fire than a single Lancer sniper hiding out in the woods. There was also it's extreme range with it's 155mm Long Range Land Attack Projectiles.

Shiori watched how Mac reacted, and simply whispered to Joey to "Get back inside for now, sweetie." He gave a small sad chitter, but followed her word. After he was zipped back up, she remarked "My apologies, I didn't figure for arachnaphobia." Another small glittering smile of hers, before she continued. "Mind if I ask who this SFC you are talking about is? And yourselves? And, mind, you did want to know more about me, but I'd like a reference point, if you don't mind?" By this point, they could recognize her mid-western accent, but still had a faint hint of her obvious Japanese heritage.

"Sergeant First Class Hayden Earle 'Killing Machine' Arcturus. He's our platoon's Armored Infantry Sniper." Jenks explained. "We have two other snipers, however their specialty is Mech Killing. As for myself, I was Green Berets before going Armored Infantry." A half-truth. "I was assigned to 15th- Sorry, 28th Armored Infantry Platoon, as it's leader. We've been assigned duties as a QRF while we're here."

"You sound Midwestern. Minnesota, Idaho? What?" Mac asked. He had put the flask into his own pocket, to be returned to the Major at a later time.

"Colorado. Our base, so to speak, was kept there for a great deal of time, before they decided to move from time to time. Grew up with the accent, and it stuck." the snowleopard soldier answered.

"Huh... Nebraska for me. The Major's Texan, but his father's a Brit." Mac said, looking back at her again.

"You'll find our platoon to be a veritable melting pot. Two Russians, a Ukranian, a Japanese Hispanic, several mutts..." Jenks trailed off as he pulled the car over. "Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi doesn't know we're coming. We haven't been able to contact him through secure means."

"I see. Hm. Would you want me to come with you two, or stay in the car? Joey'll stay put either way, so he doesn't spook anyone else." She patted the bag, which wriggled a little.

"I don't see why not. Sure, come along. By the way... What rank are we to use with you?" Jenks asked, Mac already out of the car and looking around.

"I, uh, I really don't know. I wasn't in any particular branch, and there weren't any given ranks overall. By the time I was old enough to be a legal soldier, the project was disbanded." She gave an apologetic smile before letting herself out of the car. "Be good, there." She whispered to the bag, which kept still. When she got out, the car bounced up ever so slightly. "Sorry about that." She got up to the two, and waited behind them.

"I'd say Specialist. For good measure." Mac said as the trio walked up to the house belonging to 1st Lieutenant Shigeru Kusanagi. "It helps if there's a last name."

Shiori opened her mouth, and looked down slightly embarrassed. "Iiiii do not have one."

"Okay, what's a good Midwestern name? Smith, Jones, Still...?" Mac suggested as Jenks knocked on the door.

"Williams, Ogburn, Stephens... Pick and choose."

"'Ogburn?' What kind of name is 'Ogburn?'" Mac asked as they waited.

"Could be worse. Could be like Specialist Ernesto Switalski."

"I have always just used my name overall. But, if you must, I suppose Doe?" She jokingly suggested.

"'Shiori Doe.' Has a nice ring to it." Mac remarked as the door opened, a woman in a robe standing before them.

<"Eikichi, the Army's here to see you!"> Ayane Kusanagi called out. A half minute later Captain Eikichi Ramirez-Kisaragi joined them at the door, clad in PT shorts and a t-shirt with the album cover to Judas Priest's 'Screaming for Vengance' on it. Ayane had insisted they come in for tea, trying to be a good host and all.

"Sooooo, when exactly were you going to call me? I mean, you said to make my way up on my own power." Ei said, trying to keep his gaze on the Major and not at Shiori's assets.

"We had to keep OPSEC in place. Things have changed in the platoon." the Major paused as Ayane brought them tea.

"Cap, does she speak English?" Mac asked, concerned about discussing classified topics in front of a civilian.

"Not a word. She says she wants to learn one of these days." Ei replied. "And speaking of change..." Ei's gaze was now fully on Shiori. He opened his mouth to say something and stopped.

"Specialist Shiori, er, Doe. Nice to meet you." She held out a hand to shake for him as well. "And put bluntly, I get it." Tail twitch. "It's the tail, isn't it." With a half smirk on her face. When the wife passed her a cup of tea: "<Thank you, ma'am, it smells wonderful.>"

<"You're welcome."> Ayane replied as she took her seat. <"Eikichi, aren't you going to introduce me?">

<"Right, right... That's Major Wylder, my CO, that's... umm..."> Ei looked at Mac's rank patch and nametape. <"....First Sarn't MacIntyre. I think he's new....">

"I know he's talking about me..."

"He's simply introducing her to us in Japanese, no worries." Shiori consoled.

"Just making sure..."

<"That's.... Specialist Doe. She's... also new..."> Ei gave Jenks a WTF look for a moment. He had expected maybe First Sergeant Khukov or First Sergeant Topper, not the two stangers sitting with him at his cousin's table.

<"How lovely. I do hope you take care of my cousin.">

"<We will certainly do our best, ma'am.>" Shiori gave yet another one of her very warm smiles to the lady. "I was recently pulled in myself, so I think these two would be better to explain what's happening?" She motioned to the two soldiers nearby.

"You got some 'splainin' to do, Major." Ei said, laying a fake-ish Mexican accent on thick.

"We can fill you in when we get back to Yokota. Which reminds me..." Jenks paused to look at his watch. "If we leave now we ought to miss morning colors. Pity, really."

"Alright. Just let me take a moment to say goodbye and to pack." Jenks, Mac, and Shiori stepped outside to wait for the Captain. He was out in fifteen minutes, clad in Multicam fatigues and maroon beret with his ditty bag over his shoulder. The only thing that made him out of uniform was the growth of facial hair. The bag went into the trunk and the Captain took his seat next to Shiori.

Jenks checked his watch before turning the key. "We missed colors. All the same, the Japan national anthem is quite long compared to the Start Spangled Banner. In short, we can take our time returning to base."

"Hey, there's a Burger King with a drive through I know of." Ei suggested. Mac made a gagging sound.

"Please no, I've seen that video... I want to keep what I eat down, thank you very much..."

"But I want to have it my way!"

"I'm fine. Had a protein shake earlier, and I'm watching what I eat. Though I wouldn't say no to more tea someplace." She leaned over a bit towards Ei. "She made that right? It was quite good."

"That she did. Cousin Ayane does everything she can to be the good housewife Shigeru married." Ei replied. 'That reminds me... Major, do you think we could use my cousin as an asset?" The Major looked over his shoulder briefly then back to the road.

"Potentially. it depends on what he is able to access."

"Might be a good source to exploit. Although that sounded a lot better in my head..." Ei admitted. His gaze shifted to Shiori, first over the obvious then to her ears. He looked at them a little too long.

The snowleopard lady had been gazing out the window, though after a few seconds her tail twitched. "May I help you, Ei?" She turned to focus back on him.

"Can I touch them?" he asked aloud. That earned him a raised eyebrow from the supersoldier.

"Cap, what in the actual depleted uranium fuck!?" Mac shouted, turning around in his seat. "You do not ask a lady to touch her- h-huge tracts of land..."

"'Huge tracts of land?' What are you talking about? I meant her ears! I mean... No, no, not going to finish that thought." Ei stumbled, feeling uncomfortable.

"Right now I'd rather put up with Rostok's fetid dietary problems than whatever this is." Mac said, pointing at Ei.

"Welp. Now I know why you were so stymied before, eh, Mac? As for you, Ei." Her tail twitched over and landed on his lap. "Yes, those are real, you get 5 seconds." With a sigh, she put her hand onto her face. "And please, no more staring at the...tracts of lands, you say? Already get enough attention on them as is, you know?" Ei reached out and gently touched her ears, stroking and scritching them. Shiori leaned in just slightly to the scritchings.

"I can't believe this... Here we have what's supposed to be a super solder Land Warrior scratching kitty ears of another super soldier." Mac mused as he turned his gaze back to the road. "I'm visiting the NCO club when we get back to base. I'm going to see what the hardest they've got is."

"If you give Sergeant Arcturus enough time I'm sure he'll make a still somewhere. He did it in Iraq, I'm sure he'll do it here too." Jenks said, merging into highway traffic.

"Ya'll are lucky you can even get an effect off the stuff." Shiori mentioned her tail twitching out of Ei's lap once his time was up. Ei took a breath and placed his hands in his lap.

"Thank you..." he said to Shiori. "I can't remember the last time I got hammered. Like, truly hammered."

"Lieutenant Crowley is not someone you want to see drunk, Shiori. He gets philosophical. No, that's not the right term." Jenks took a moment to think of what he wanted to say as he wove through traffic. "'Fauxlosophical is a more appropriate term."

"He talks in Ice Cream Koans, duly noted." She gave a small giggle to the idea. "Anything else I should be made aware of?"

"Major, have you warned her about Topper and Muscle March?" Jenks almost hit a panel van, eliciting a few honks from the other drivers around him. "I'll take that as a no..."

Shiori lurched when the car was forcibly realigned into the lines, and in the process landed on Ei a little. "Oof, sorry about that." She got back up, and into her seat. "I am gonna guess that those are two things that do not mix well."

"N-not rilly... It's pretty unsettling. Except for Corporal Hannigan. She'll sit there and watch." Ei replied, knowing he felt more than he bargained for when the car lurched.

"I will have to keep that in mind too." Shiori patted her bag, then asked aloud: "So, does anyone else have a problem with spiders, or spider-looking mechs?"

"As long as it doesn't have tentacles we'll be fine... I hate tentacles... I hate them with a passion..." Ei replied, tensing up.

"No, no tentacles, just eight legs." She gave him a pat to the shoulder to calm him down. To Jenks: "About how long till we arrive?"

"Ten minutes. Base security has changed since a Lancer theft at Camp Nerima. I should be able to get us through with no problem with my credentials." the Major replied. Measures taken included staggering concrete jersey barriers at the entrances to force drivers to swerve, posting armored vehicles at the gates, and the placement of at least one Lancer, either a biped or a tank-like, depending on what's available on the base. Posted as they drove up was a tank-like with dual Autocannons and a pair of Bradley IFVs, dismounted guards coming out to challenge the black staff car.

"See your ID?" the MP said, Jenks taking his wallet out to show his CAC card. The MP looked hard at the picture and at the Major's face before returning the card and saluting him. "Welcome back to base, sir."

"Thank you, Sarn't." Jenks said as he pulled up, taking the first turn around the barricades arrayed at the gate.

"Nice barricades. There someone elsewhere to shift them around so that if someone happens to slip by they end up going in crcles, or simply get trapped?" The snowleopard lady asked as they passed through.

"Anyone that tries to take it at speed gets shot. A lot." Jenks replied. There had been a near incident in which a delivery truck's brakes went out as it appraoched the other gate into Yokota. The Carnotaurus Lancer on post was ready to ventilate it when the driver swerved off the road, upending his vehicle. "If they survive then they're taken into custody and turned over."

"Fat chance of that happeneing. That Tank-like had dual Autocannons." Ei chimed in. "Shiori, you ever see what four, fire linked chainguns can do to a person?"

"I, uh, kinda lived through one accidentally, so I can imagine four would be beyond overkill." Cue a sagenod from the superlady.

"I can relate... They put me through several tests at Los Alamos to see how much I could regenerate." Ei said as the Major passed the Post Exchange. "Vivisection, shot with various caliber firearms, an explosion in an enclosed space... Wouldn't wish that on anyone."

"Jeeze. Was my project the only one who had any sensibility for human rights? Or just plain manners?" She shook her head in disgust. "More I learn about the Land Warrior program, the more I want to give the director of the thing a wedgie from hell."

"I'd hold off on that. One of the researchers is part of our team." Jenks said as he pulled the car into a barracks parking lot. "He's here to monitor and maintain the Captain. Not sure he'll be happy to know there was another super soldier program."

"Then he'll be despondent to learn there were technically over half a dozen different projects that happened. Mine was...uh, different, but something that happened." Shiori was doing her best to stay still, yet trying so hard to look at the stuff moving past.

"It might be best to not tell him anything. He... stabbed the director of a rival program with a pen." Jenks said as he killed the engine.

"We never got tea... or food...." Ei whined from the backseat.

"Base Commissary is walking distance."

"Heh, come on, Ei. Stuff's not so bad once you get used it, ya know?" She gave a grin, and got out of the vehicle again. Once more, there was a slight bounce from the suspensions as she removed herself, and Ei was jostled around just slightly. "Aaand that's why I don't drive. Sorry, Ei."

"At least you aren't barred from driving by not just the Pentagon but also US State Department, Texas Department of Transportation, Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and Texas Department of Public Safety." Ei repleid as he got out. Mac had the trunk open and was pulling Ei's ditty bag out.

"Major, I'll catch up with you guys. Gonna hit up the PX." Ei said as he turned to leave with Shiori.

"We'll still be here when you get back." Jenks replied as Mac closed the trunk. The Captain walked with Shiori, looking around to update his GPS and his HUD. He hadn't visited the PX on 15th Armored Infantry's original deployment to Yokota.

"It's been a while since I had anything from a Commissary." Shiori remarked as she looked about the base herself, committing what she could to memory. Her small tote bag wiggled again.

"Before we eat, I need to visit the barbershop. My hair and face is out of regs." Ei said, feeling the forming beard on his face. He was usually better about maintaining his shave; however IDGAF (I Don't Give A Fuck) went into effect while he was "on leave."

"You do look a little fuzzy. Sure, shouldn't take that long, unless you've got steel strength hair." Shiori giggled at the idea.

"No, I'm not... What's his face... It was a Will Smith Movie..." Ei said, having a brain fart. "Hancock, I'm not Hancock."

"That's the super hero movie right? Never actually seen that. Or, uhm, a lot of movies overall, really. Just recently got to see Star Wars thanks to a friend of mine." She noted to the Captain.

"You've seen all of them, right?"

"We made a night of it, and saw all six."

"Oh, good. I was about to say, Corporal Taylor, one of our Bradley drivers, has them. He has a metric fuckton of movies with him." Corporal Brandon Taylor was their deploymnt entertainment coordinator, scheduling and carrying out movie nights when the platoon had been deployed to Iraq and also during their trips to the National Training Center. "If you tell him a title he might have it. Even if he doesn't have it he'll probably have it by day's end."

"Interesting. Having to keep in mind a lot of things today."

"If I had to guess then they'll probably put you in our Stryker with the Mech Killers. That's three people you'll have to get to know." Ei started as they walked past a darkened administration building. "Then there's the rest of the platoon. In all, you've got twenty or thirty people to meet."

"Quite a bit indeed." She peeked into the building, but shrugged when she couldn't see much. "The mission details were a bit sparse overall. I get the feeling I was a late addition."

"I'm finding out the same, especially First Sergeant MacIntyre. I know we had three First Sergeants when we got here initially. Then I find out we have a fourth. Something is very wrong here." he replied. The Exchange looked like any other retail store from the outside. Standing by an ash tray were a pair of Airmen in fatigues with weapons apparent. "Guess security protocols changed since we got here."

"That, or they are really against kleptomania."

"Wouldn't be surprised." he replied as they entered. The inside resembled a miniature mall, with a food court, uniform shop and tailor, a laundromat, a retail store, and a barber shop. The two made a beeline for the barber, finding a single employee sitting in one of the chairs reading the Washington Post.

Shiori took a seat nearby to wait for the Captain to finish. Just like what happened earlier, she was getting many looks from the people working and shopping about, and typically in the same 'areas of interest' to boot. She seemed to not notice, and simply waited.

"Alright, so what are we doin' today?" the barber asked as Ei took his seat, the man putting a bib over the Ranger, clasping it at the back.

"A shave and a shear. Just got off leave." he said to the civilian contractor. The man nodded then turned around to his table.He turned back around with a shaving mug and a brush, applying shaving cream to Ei's face.

"So, where'd you come from?" he asked, finishing the application.

"Texas. Armored Infantry platoon posted here, actually." Ei replied, trying to avoid giving a unit name because the last time he remembered 15th Armored Infantry Platoon was officially disbanded and he had yet to be told what the unit's new name was.

"You must be with the boys that heloed in the other day." the barber said as he took a straight razor and began removing Ei's facial hair.

"Yeah, I'm their XO. We, ahh... got orders to deploy last minute. Yeah..."

"I believe it. It was like that in '89 when we got word that we had to invade Panama." the barber mused, taking another patch of facial hair off.

"What's a Marine barber doing on an Air Force base?"

"Someone had to 'surround' the 'Chair Force.'" the old salt replied with a laugh. It took another ten minutes before he was done, Ei's face completely clean shaven. "Alright, let's take a look at the top. Medium-low reg or 30/60?"

"The latter, please. We've got new guys in our platoon and I want to make a good impression." Ei said as the barber cleaned up and replaced his straight razor and shaving mug.

"I know how that goes. Alright, here we go." the barber said as he flipped on the vacuum attached to the electric razor and took to the Ranger's head. Contrary to popular belief, the application of the High and Tight is not just running a razor along someone's head and hoping for the best. Every head is different and has it's own topography. Eikichi had seen one of his fellow cadets get a mole sheared off at West Point, the growth spurting blood and causing a panic among the ranks until a Sergeant stepped in. Another ten minutes passed and Ei looked like a model soldier.

"Alright, that'll be... six fity." the barber said, Ei taking his wallet out and handing him cash plus tip.

"I really don't get it." he said to Shiori as they left. "Out in town I'd spend ten dollars for a trim. On post I spend a little over half that."

"Hm. Well, it depends on place to place. Here there's some backing with the government, as well as overall better pay. But out there, it could be the positives like having differing materials, extra help, cost of living for the area, so forth. Then there's just plain simple greed, snootiness, and the inability to figure the worth of a dollar in an area. Dunno what else to say, eh?" She gave a shrug, the looked him over. "And you look considerably better being considerably less fuzzy. Very nice."

"Thanks." he said with a smile. "Longest I ever had my hair was back in high school. I made the change when I got accepted to West Point. About a year later my brother did the same when he got accepted., too."

"Neat." She flipped her hair with a hand. "I'm kinda cheating. Real length is just above the hip." Shiori bounced up onto her feet, and was at the ready. A few more looks from folks, but she continued to 'not notice'. "Shall we hit the Commissary now, or do you have another pit stop?"

"Hang on a sec... I smell something..." Ei said, following his nose. "I smell... vegetable oil... Ground beef... red onions..."

"There's a Burger King nearby..."

"May I ask why you are obsessed with finding a Burger King?" Shiori pondered to the Captain.

"I have a high metabolism, a direct result of what was done to me at SDI. My metabolic furnace requires fuel. Lots of fuel." he replied, finding the fast food joint. Shiori simply followed along and listened. "I get the best results out of things that can kill you. Okay, maybe not you, but..." Ei gestured to a cluster of Airmen picking up a large to go order. "...them. The normals."

"Ah. So you have a junker's metabolism. I've heard of that before, not seen it in action though." She gave a grin. "I just have to keep a high level of protein going, but otherwise I'm ok. No one is exactly sure WHY. Shall I wait for you here?" Shiori gave a motion to a table nearby.

"Yes, please." he replied before joining the line. A few minutes later he joined her with a tray loaded with burgers and two extra large cups filled with french fries. "I told them I wanted it my way. I'm just glad I didn't have to do the knife trick."

"Knife trick?" The supersoldier lady asked with a raised eyebrow. "Do I want to know?"

"Back in... '07, '08, we picked up an HVT in... I wanna say it was Mosul, but it coulda been Fallujah..." he replied before swallowing half a burger, taking a moment to chew before continuing. "I was asked to interrogate because Killing Machine was on overwatch."

"I went into the makeshift interrogation room with my Ka-BAR in hand and he starts laughing. Says 'you won't do it. You're American. You don't believe in torture.'" The remaining half joined the first part of the burger in short order. "I say, 'it's not for you. It's for me.' Then I put my hand on the table and skewer it with the knife. He jumps, of course, not expecting that."

"I then yank my hand out, slicing through bone and sinews. Got him real good and scared by then. So I hold my hand up and let him watch the cut seal itself up, saying 'There's more like me out there. So either you can have normals go after your friends or you can have more of me go after them.' I was lying, of course, but that was before... well, before I learned there were other Land Warrior programs." Ei paused, unwrapping another burger. "You think you're unique, a one of a kind, lone survivor type. Then you find out you're wrong." This time he swallowed the burger whole.

Shiori listened intently through his little story, giving a small smirk. "Fairly brutal, to you and to them." She gave a giggle, then grinned at him mightily. "So, do you always treat your dates to such tales?" Ei paused, right before taking a bite of his third burger.

"W-were... Are we... I mean... We just met..." he managed, turning red.

Her already sparkling grin grew wider. "Hehehe, I'm just teasing. Though considering the settings." Shiori made a small wave. "Escort, ear scritchings, shown around the town, so to speak, freshening up, then a meal with story swapping? Although, I will admit, I haven't actually swapped yet, but I suppose I could fulfill that soon enough. What would you like to know?"

"Y-yeah... Umm... What... What was your last duty station?" Smooth, real smooth. Shoulda started with 'I do think you're cute' instead of that. Idiot... he thought afterward.

"Hm. That'd be right before I, ah, left. Middle of Arizona, undisclosed location but it was within a few dozen miles of Phoenix." She thought for a moment. "Not much was going on at the time, save for a few drills and such. Granted, at that time, there really wasn't much call for me and my sisters."

"Sisters?"

"Yep. All twenty three of them." Ei leaned in close.

"You sure you're not Mexican? Cuz we have big families... But not to that extent..." he said.

"Nope. I am at least half Japanese. And sisters I guess you would consider more of an honorary term, though we really mean it amongst ourselves." She leaned back to him. "Four years, six clusters of girls who were mostly orphans, save for two. All of us imbued with a batch of nanites each, to see if they would work as a means of making supersoldiers. From there, we were raised with a lot of love and care, and on purpose. The idea of the project was to get soldiers raised right, start to finish. Well. It worked. Problem is, the nanites were so unexpected with how they worked in the grand scheme, and took too long to get the, ah, expected results, that the project was canceled but not stopped by the time I was 6."

"I think I've seen that movie... Only the supersoldiers were put into a strict regimen as children." Ei said. "I volunteered for SDI's program. It... kinda messed me up a little bit."

"Oh jeeze, yeah I heard about them. They messed with too many people." Shiori frumped rather hard while saying that.

"There were... twenty five before me. Doc said they never could figure out where they went wrong and why I survived." Ei paused before jamming a fourth burger into his mouth. "Guess that still makes me unique."

Shiori didn't say much for a small while, before flashing him another grin. "Anything else you'd like to know? You have some time after all."

"What's your favorite movie?" he asked after two more burgers. He had to take a moment to get back on track after opening up more to Shiori than he ever had with Dr. Rutherford, the SDI psychologist.

"I haven't seen many so far. Not enough time. I'd have to say....Episode 3, at least the first main starship battle. It was so cool!" Shiori practically beamed when she said that. "Otherwise, I'm kinda even across the board so far."

"We can fix that. Like I said, Corporal Taylor is our movie buff. Especially for 1980's action movies. Ever heard of 'Big Trouble in Little China?'" he asked with a smile.

"Can't say that I have. It's a good movie then?" Shiori asked, her head resting upon her hands.

"It is. We'll have to watch it one of these days. Maybe on a slow work day." he said, picking up one of the cups of fries and emptying it into his mouth. He took a moment to chew and swallow. "Honestly, you get nothing but free time in the regular Army. Especially on deployment. The trick is finding it."

"Heh. Welp, maybe we could find the time, at some point." She sat back in her seat, and gave a massives streeeeetch, tail doing the same, her eyes closing. "Eesh, feels weird to be back in fatigues. I got used to tank tops and stuff."

"Honestly, you make anything look good." There, I said it.

Shiori paused mid-stretch, face reddening just a bit. After a few seconds, she finally giggled a little. "Hehehe, I guess I would, eh? Thanks for the complement." She got back into a relaxed seating position, and flashed another grin to him.

"Gimme a few minutes and I'll be done here. Maybe we can walk around for a bit longer after that." he said before popping his jaw out of the socket.

Shiori blinked at that, and leaned back just a smidge. "Hoo, that's a new one. Special ability, or developed technique?" There's no disgust in her voice, but rather slight curiosity. Ei shovelled the remaining burgers into his now expanded mouth, swalllowing two whole then popping his jaw back into place to chew the other two. Once finished he took a breath. "I've always been able to do that. Not sure how, I just know it increases my intake."

"Hmm..." She leeeeeaned in. "Maybe they messed with your genetics? Added in a little snake? No forked tongue or scales though. Simple elasticity of the jawline then? A side effect of the healing factor?" Shiori studied him for a few moments, then plopped down back into her seat. "But that's neat none the less. A little gross, but it must be helpful to get what you need in you quickly. Though, there is something to be said for taking your time sometimes, ya know?" She grinned yet one more time at the supersoldier.

"Believe it or not but no. I was born that way, I guess. I mean, my brother was born with messed up nerve endings so he doesn't feel pain like most people do. I guess it's just something unique to us." he replied.

"Very cool. A lot more helpful than ears and a tail, believe me." Shiori giggled, and stood up. "Do ya need to wait a few minutes to digest, or are you rarin' to go?"

"I'm good to go." he replied, rising from the table.

"Excellent! Where to?" She bounced over to him (though there wasn't much distance to cross to begin with).

"Maybe just a nice stroll around the base. How's that sound?" he asked as they walked back the way they came.

"Sounds good to me." Thus she walked alongside with the guy. "Any theories as to what we're gonna deal with specifically?" Eikichi shook his head, a C-130 flying into the airfield nearby.

"I've been out of the loop since the slaughter. Your guess is as good as mine." he replied. "Honestly, we were supposed to be here for a joint exercise with the SDF. You can see how that panned out."

"Yeah no kidding." She shook her head. Shiori's ears twitched as the craft went about.

"Yeah. It all went to hell when a Lancer was stolen. We never did find it. Speaking of Lancers, take a look over there." Ei pointed at a pair of Air Force Utahraptor Lancers, both machines armed with chaingun rifles and ballistic shields. The pair were patrolling the perimeter fence, one sweeping high with it's GAR-65A2 Chaingun Rifle, the other sweeping low.

Shiori paused when she saw the Lancers, Ei not noticing for a few seconds. When he turned back to her, Ei noticed a look on Shiori's face that suggested unrepentant glee at the sight. Ei opened his mouth to ask, but Shiori cut him off with a long, LONG detailed list of their attributes, how they worked, the alloys, EVERYTHING there can be to know about those machines, right down to some of their lesser known weaknesses, strengths, and even into certain capabilities he had no idea existed before.

".....And if you hit the thrust just right, you can make a wonderful rendition of the Nutcracker Suite, right down to the movements!" Shiori expoused in sheer fangirlish delight. Ei had to laugh.

"If you ever sit down and talk to Colonel Lynch then I'm sure he'd agree with you. I've never been able to do that just 'driving stick.'" he said, watching the two security Lancers continuing along their patrol path. "However, I might be able to do that through other means."

Shiori gave an embarrassed grin to Captain Ei. "Heee, I went off on a tangent there, sorry. Shall we get back to our little walk?" Ei was about to reply when a Stryker ICV pulled up to them in a screeching halt, the top hatch opening.

"There you are!" Sergeant First Class Argus Donner, 15th28th AI's Stryker commander shouted at Shiori and Ei. "We got our shit in from Hood. Major says to come claim your gear."

"He let you get myself and Specialist Doe in a Stryker?"

"Would you rather Sutton drive a Humm Vee?" It took Ei all of two seconds to come up with a reply.

"Not just no, but hell no, fuck no, and hell the fuck no, I call shenanigans on that bullshit."

"Exactly, now get in, losers, it's Christmas." Donner said as the rear hatch opened. Normally Goleb would have been back there with boxes and boxes of ammunition and explosives, however those were with the armorer.

"Shall we?" Ei asked, holding his hand to Shiori.

Shiori accepted the hand with a grin, and hopped in. Maybe a little too hard; the vehicle wobbled. ".....Not again. Sorry." Shiori reached down, and lifted Ei into the massive vehicle easily. The drive was a quick one, despite Specialist Sutton wanting to make it quicker by forgoing the streets and driving through buildings (which probably wouldn't have been out of the realm of possibilities given how she drives.) At the barracks was a pair of HEMTT trucks with ground crew personnel and the members of 28th AI unloading boxes from the flatbeds.

"Captain, so good of you to join the party." First Sergeant Vlagimir Khukov shouted upon seeing Ei and Shiori disembark the Stryker. "Working Party, that is."

"He's been waitin' all week to say it!" Petro shouted, hauling a box from the trucks to the barracks. Khukov turned and shouted something in Ukranian at the infantryman, Petro running faster.

"Shiori, that's First Sergeant Khukov. He's basically a giant, shaved bear that hates people." Ei said as the giant continued coordinating the working party.

Shiori simply gave the massive soldier a happy wave hello. She also took a moment to lean over to Ei, "How's he manage to fit into the cockpit?"

"Lots and lots of butter. Honestly, the man had his Lancer altered with a larger hatch so he could fit in." Ei replied, walking past the line as Petro came running back, Switalski and Vasquez in tow. "He's one of three First Sergeants in our platoon. The other two are First Sergeant David Topper, our Mech Killer team lead and First Sergeant Ronald Rage, our Tank-Like commander."

"Noted. Anything I should be aware of for either of them?" Shiori was both paying attention to Ei, but also looking for any way the folks around her could use her help. Especially with lifting and carrying.

"Khukov is a by the book authoritarian. He expects perfection in one's military bearing. I think it's because he's not an American. Well, American born, any way." Ei replied, staying out of the way as Gutierrez and Taylor brought a couch past. "He's Ukranian. I think it's his way of giving back to his adopted country."

"Got it, keep on the narrow with him. What about the other two?" She asked before making her way to the TV that seemed to be next. With very little effort, she lifted the bit of technology, balanced it evenly, and carried it like it was nothing to the area the two with the couch went.

"First Sergeant Topper let's Khukov run the show. He acts as the pillar of strength for the Mech Killers. They kinda need a strong leader, given that they do kinda fight mecha on foot." Ei said, following her. "First Sergeant 'Road' Rage, is probably the most laid back individual in the platoon, next to the Command Sergeant Major. Real smart guy too."

"Who got the TV? I was gonna get it!" Sergeant Rostok Carolinski shouted from outside.

"I think you took someone's job." Ei mused to Shiori.

"DEY TOOK YER JERB!" Vasquez bellowed from the second floor.

"DEY TOOK ERR JERBS!" another chimed in, with additional calls ringing out throughout the barracks.

"....Did I err, or is this normal?" Shiori looked nonplussed about all this.

"Naw, it's pretty normal. Welcome to the Infantry, Shiori. I'll be your guide." Ei said, holding his hand out to her again.

"Can we call EOD, I found Topper's Wii..." Pash said as he was unpacking one of the boxes. They'd tried, repeatedly, to destroy and dispose of it because of the First Sergeant's belief regarding the game Muscle March: it must be played the way God intended, wearing only a speedo and a layer of oil on one's exposed skin.

"Pash, run back to the airfield and throw it in a plane, don't care which one, just take it and fucking run!" Petro said to the PFC, trying to usher him out the door.

"Five bucks says it'll be hooked to the television by the end of the night." Shiori smirked, catching on. After puttiing the TV down, she accepted Ei's hand again. "Though, I really wish I could be helping with something already."

"There's about thirty or so people in this platoon. They'll have the trucks unpacked in short order." Ei said, looking to the door as Pash tried to run out, only to run into...

"Hey, they got it! I'm hooking this bitch up tonight!" Topper said as he took the Wii from the now horrified Private. Rostok saw the forced exchange and crossed himself, the blood rushing from his face as he knew what was going to happen. The entire platoon knew what was going to happen.

"Hold off on that, First Sergeant. We need to do a quick muster." Major Wylder said, coming in from behind the infantryman. Outside the trucks were leaving, heading back for the airfield.

"You got it, sir." Topp replied to the Major. To the platoon: "Alright, listen up platoon! Muster in ten mikes! Don't care what you're doing at that time, you get your ass down here to be accounted for, no questions asked! Anyone misses it, then you get to take it up with Top Sarn't Khukov, who I'm sure hasn't tasted human flesh in a long while."

"They serious about the flesh bit, or...?" Shiori asked.

"He's joking. Although implying that Khukov's day isn't complete until he's chewed someone out is enough to get this platoon in gear." Ei replied.

"Duly noted." Shiori pondered a bit then giggled mightily. "I guess whatever it is about Topper playing that game must be pretty bad if they want to fly the Wii of his out to who knows where. Though I'm willing to bet that if I did what he did, the reactions would be WAY different." Shiori giggled even more at the thought. Ei had the mental image pop up in his head, followed by a sudden gush of blood from his nose.

"Ei, you ok there?" Shiori looked over with a bit of concern on her face. Ei squeezed his nose to stop the bloodflow, turning his back to Shiori.

"I'b okay... Jus'... behydateb ib all..." he said, sniffing to try to suck the blood back in. Once he was sure it had stopped he wiped the blood away, rolling his sleeves up to hide the spatter on his jacket. The drawback of the digial patterns was the lack of black and brown which, when the blood dired, would fit in nicely and barely be noticeable.

She doubled checked to make sure he was ok, but let him be soon enough. They chattered for a while, before the time came to get into formation. The platoon mustered up, tallest in the back of the ranks, Ei, Major Wylder, First Lieutenant John Crowley, Sergeant Major Deuce Mackall, and all three First Sergeants, plust "First Sergeant" Nick MacIntyre, standing before the rest of the platoon. The only people not present were SDI personnel. Dr. Burke, Dr. Rutherford, Anie, and Sergeant Wilks had been shuttled to Atsugi Air Force Base, to be with Colonel Segovia's staff. "Sergeant First Class" Rockwell and "Sergeant" Pierce were among the rest of the rank and file. Role call met a snag when it came time to call up Sergeant First Class Arcturus.

"Anyone seen the sniper anywhere or is he hiding in that stupid fucking morph suit and suit and tie, again?" Khukov demanded. Hayden pulled off a Slenderman prank on Admin back at Fort Hood and Fort Irwin, because he could.

"The Sarn't is on overwatch, Top Khukov." Awaiting pickup so he can join us. Jenks didn't add. "Remember Khyber Pass?"

"Yeah, I remember... So we ignore it, for now..." Khukov grumbled as he checked Hayden's name off as 'excused.' The rest of the platoon was accounted for, the Major cutting to the chase.

"Platoon,we'll be getting back into the swing of things soon, and without incident. I hope to keep it that way." he began, pacing before them. "A few of our machines are due for an overhaul, which brings our QRF strength down to a quarter of what it normally is. Anyone who isn't involved in overhauling Lancers will be given busy work. Anyone not on watch will also be given busy work. Just because we're on an Air Force base doesn't mean we stop being United States Army Soldiers. Are there any questions?"

Shiori didn't think of anything relevant, nor did anyone else apparently, so they all kept silent and waited. The Major adjusted his glasses then checked his watch, starting to say something when a hand went up.

"Major, we're packed into the same compartment." Corporal Hannigan pointed out. "What're we doin' about showers?"

"Base maintenance came in and bolted a curtain down the middle of the shower to separate it into male and female sides. In short, put aside any Paul Verhoven's Starship Troopers notions you may have had." Jenks explained. They had done the same to the rest of the barracks facilities in order to maximize the space available on base. "If there are any issues or if anyone decides to cross the 'lavender curtain' then First Sergeant Khukov will get his daily allowance of flesh." Eyes went to the Ukranian giant who immediately took his finger and dragged it across his throat then pointed at the platoon with that same digit.

"Any other questions? Complaints? Nothing? Then you're dismissed."

"Platton, attention!" Khukov called out, the soldiers standing at attention. "At ease..." Several soldiers dispersed, a few unpacking personal effects, others going to make use of the shower. Ei made his way back to Shiori.

"Thoughts about your new friends?" he asked her.

"Feels like the old days. As for the new friends, I've only met a few people outright so far. I just hope I don't cause too much trouble for folks."

"Well, this is a real accepting bunch of-" Ei was cut off as Khukov stepped up to Shiori.

"You, those are not authorized,." he said, pointing at her.

"Eh, what?" Shiori looked about on her person. Aside from the tote-bag, she couldn't find anything she thought would be unauthorized.

"Those. The ears and tail. This is not furry convention. Is US Army." he replied.

"Top, those... Those are part of her. Look closely." Ei said. Khukov looked at him then looked at Shiori, giving her a harder look. Shiori wiggled an ear, then the other, and the tail twitched a few times. He straightened up and cleared his throat.

"My apologies... However you had better get your uniform in order. Specialists Pyle or Sutton ought to have spare rank patches." he pointed out before turning away from them and walking off.

"Dodged a bullet there... A bullet the size of a fucking bear..." Ei mused.

Shiori giggled. "It's ok. There's not many kemonomimi here, so it's understandable that he'd not think of that. No worries." Tail twitch, tail twitch. "Patches, eh? Good chance to meet more people real quick. Just glad he's not trying to get me into a whole new uniform. My...er, size is very special order, eh?" She gave an embarrassed giggle.

"Your size? Do you know how long it took for him to get ACUs in his size? Two years, Shiori. Two years of watching uninformed lieutenants approach him and tell him he's out of uniform because, well after we'd transitioned to ACUs, he was still wearing BDUs." Ei laughed. Usually the hapless lieutenants shrank like the male anatomy upon introduction to cold water as the giant Ukranian towered over them to inform them, very nicely, that no one at Propper had ever thought they'd have to make a uniform for a man who is over eight feet tall. "I do miss it, though."

Shiori giggled even more at the thought, holding back proper laughter though just barely. "Yes, I suppose that is a fair bit worse than me." She grinned, and looked about for the patch givers.

"C'mon, Pyle is easier to find that Sutton. It helps that he's a tad anti-social." Ei said, leading her up the stairs to the second level. There were a few more members of the platoon already up there. Corporal Washington already had a few of her free weights unpacked and was already getting some reps out. Corporal Taylor was sorting through his movie collection, cataloging them according to an inventory sheet he made after someone made off with a few of his DVDs back in '09.

"Shiori, over there in the corner. That's Pyle." Ei said, pointing at a soldier seated in the corner with a laptop and a pair of Beats by Dre on his head.

The snowleopard lady nodded, and headed over. She waited a few moments for Pyle to react, if he does. Ei tapped Pyle's headphones to get his attention, the specialist pulling them off. Industrial music issued forth from the high end headphones as he looked up at the two.

"Did you need something, Cap?" he asked.

"Yeah. You got any spare specialist patches?" Ei asked. Pyle closed his laptop and rose, leading them to his footlocker.

"It's for her, right?" he asked, not looking up.

"Yep, they'd be for me. I, heh, only just now got classified as, well, anything really." She giggled once more.

"Eleven Bravo or Nineteen X-Ray?" Pyle asked as he produced a pair of Specialist patches, one in ACU colors the other in Multicam colors.

"Oh very much Ninetyfive X-ray. Or a Nineteen X-ray. Frankly any X-ray. I am pretty sure that's what I was called in for." Shiori gave a heavy nod to the patch offered. Pyle turned back to close his foot locker then picked up his laptop.

"Thankya much, Pyle." Shiori went about applying the patch to where it needs to go.

"The Major bring you in, like he brought me in?" Pyle asked, walking back to his corner.

"Actually, no, it was the Brigadier himself. Something about a suggest from even higher. I have my suspicions, but nothing conclusive." the supersoldier lady answered.

"You spend time at Leavenworth too?" he asked as he sat down. "The Major got me out of there. Said my talents were being wasted there."

"Er, no, I hadn't. I've actually been off the forces for about 4 years now, having, uh, been discharged." Shiori attempted to explain.

"Greenie weenie gets us all. Got me hard." he said as he put his headphones back on and reopened his laptop.

"Pyle gets along better with the AIs. Can't say I blame him." Ei said, turning to walk away from the EW specialist.

Shiori joined with Ei again. "It's ok. Brittany was kinda the same way, minus the headphones. She always prefered to listen to her music over speakers proper." She looked about, checking out all the folks in the room.

"Brittany? One of your sisters?" Ei asked, stepping aside to allow Rockwell to move his footlocker out of their way. Ei glanced at the soldier, feeling something odd about him then dismissing it.

"Yep. She ended up with the Head location, and became super intelligent because of it." Shiori grinned, stepping lightly around the footlocker. Now that Ei sees it, he noticed that Shiori tends to step intentionally lightly everywhere she goes.

"Hey, you're pretty light on your feet. Something else to do with your abilities?" he asked.

"Pretty much. My, ah, changed physique along with my strength means that if I don't watch how I step, I can and will destroy any pavement, sidewalk, street, or anything else I step upon." Shiori responded, looking embarrassed once more.

"'World of Cardboard,' huh? Honestly, I feel like I got shortchanged. Still, I'll take what abilites I've got."

"Kinda. More like all the stuff I have is governed by the laws of physics, to a certain degree, unlike the magical people of the world." She remarked, slumping just a bit for a moment. "But! Still really awesome what I ended up with, afterall."

"I somewhat believe in magic. I mean, there's a lot out there that is still unexplained and can't be explained, even by science." Ei said, turning to face her. "Some of it's certainly benevolent, some not so much."

"Oh, trust me, hun, there's magic. Especially since I work in a school for magical girls. Anime style magical girls." She stated out right. Ei cocked his brow at her, curiosity piqued.

"A what for magical what now?" he asked.

"Exactly what I said. An academy for magical girls. And a few boys. And a decent stock of kemonomimis like myself." Shiori twitched her ears again. By now the pair had made their way back out into the open areas and were walking about.

"I almost want to say Hogwarts, but I've got a feeling that I'd be wrong." he replied, prepared to say more before Lieutenant Crowley stepped in his path.

"Cap, glad I caught up to you. The Major wants to see you upstairs." the Cav Scout said. He wore his tank crewman's jumpsuit, flak jacket, and had his commander's helmet under his arm.

"Good or bad?" Ei asked. Crowley shrugged.

"Search me. Which reminds me, if you see Sarn't Durant, let him know they delivered our Brads to the tank laager. If you see Corporals Taylor or Sterling before you see Sarn't Durant, tell them to tell Durant." Crowley said.

"If I see any of them." He turned to Shiori. "Think you can remember that, just in case I don't see any of those guys?"

"Tell Sarn't Durant about the Brads in the laager, or if I see Corporals Taylor or Sterling them first to Sarn't. Got it." She gave a hearty nod. "Well, if you are heading off, any chance ya'll could point me in the direction of the special materials being brought in? I'd like to introduce myself."

"Special materials? Listen, I'm just a Cav Scout that kills mecha. Ask the SDI people." Crowley said, backpedalling a second later. "On second thought, they were heloed out to Atsugi..."

"Look for the other pilots. Top Khukov might have a Field Manual with him. If not, ask Pyle to borrow his tablet." Ei suggested. "I'll catch up with you later.

"Roger that. See ya later." Shiori grinned wide again, and when Captain Ei went off to his meeting, Shiori made out to hunt down the location of the mechas. Meanwhile, the Captain made his way to the third floor which was being used as Officer Country and as an ad hoc armory. Sergeant/Agent Pierce was on watch, seated beside several locked weapons cases, reading 'Charlie Wilson's War.' The Major was seated at a table in the compartment going over some paperwork. Ei approached and stood at attention.

"Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi, reporting as ordered." he said.

"You've never been this formal, Captain. Why start now?" the Major asked, taking his eyes away from the papers before him.

"Ehh, I figured protocol was in order." Ei replied before pulling one of the chairs out to sit down. "Whatcha need?"

"I thought I'd ask for you assessment of Shiori."

"Seems to be on the level." he began. "She knows her hardware, Major. We saw a pair of Air Force Utahraptors and she went off, listing their stats, combat loads, powerplant outputs, everything."

"Anything else to note?"

"She has twenty three sisters." Jenks cocked his brow at the Captain.

"The program she was part of had twenty four successful super soldiers. Compare yours, which..." Jenks saw Ei tense up and stopped his train of thought. He relaxed after a moment.

"Here I thought I was unique. Last of my kind. I got cheated, Jenks." Ei said, leaning on the table.

"Cheated? Please tell me you're not suicidal."

"No, far from it. I mean I feel I got cheated out of a lot more because she... Okay, have you watched how she moves? Almost like she's calculating every motion ahead of time." Ei explained. Jenks furrowed his brow, taking his glasses off to clean them.

"Unfortunately, her gait is not something that I noticed off the bat. Let's just say it was... something more prominent that I noticed more readily." Jenks replied.

"Who wouldn't notice them? But seriously, I think she'll be a great addition to the platoon." Jenks nodded and was about to open his mouth to say something when someone knocked on the door. Jenks told the person to enter, Rostok joining them.

"Sir, have you seen our new arrival?" the stocky Russian asked.

"Last I saw her she was supposed to tell Durant, Taylor, or Sterling about their Bradley being delivered." Ei said, sitting back up to look at the Sergeant. "You see her talk to any of them?" Rostok scratched his head, a quizzical look on his face.

"No sir, I did not..." Ei got up with a sigh.

"I'll look for her... She couldn't have gone too far..." he mused, walking past Rostok.

"For the record, it ain't my fault if she got lost." the infantry sergeant said.

"No one is saying it is, Sarn't. Dismissed...." Jenks said, attempting to usher him out. Ei questioned the rest of the platoon, finding that she had, in fact, passed the word on to the Bradley crew of the Jim Adler. However no one had seen where she had gone off to. The Captain quickly set out to find her.

Ei searched, and for a long while was fruitless. Eventually, he noticed two airmen standing before a hangar talking to one another. Nothing was too unusual about that, at least until the airman on the right made a very obvious motion infront of him, thumbing back to the doors, and they left nodding in agreement. Ei knew he had found her and accessed the hangar through the service door. The main doors had been sealed, as a protective measure for the Lancers and also to prevent anyone with a zoom lens from snapping pictures of what was in side. He found her within and stopped dead in his tracks.

Joey was skittering about a mech's frame, sealing off tiny cracks here and there, getting him touched up. The little spider mech chittered every so often, confirming mostly to itself that certain spots had been nice and welded before going to the next problem area.

Way up above on Brawl's outer hull, Shiori was leaned over, focused on the innards she had exposed. By this point, she had removed the top half of the fatigues, leaving her in just a tank top. Slight smudges of grease and oil coated some of her arms and the top itself, as she worked dilligently to get Brawl back up to perfect working order. Hells, even with the short time she had to work on him, Brawl already looked much much better than he had when he was initially brought in.

"What in the actual depleted uranium fuck is going on in here?" Ei asked, his voice echoing in the hangar bay. He knew she liked the mecha but didn't know she liked them THIS much.

Shiori leaned back up, and gave a wave to Ei. "Hey there. I came in here initially to get a good look at the guys, powered down or not, but...But my goodness! The poor things! Cracks here and there, joints that needed work! Brawl here, I saw the tampograph, his left arm was about to fall clear off! One good swing, woosh! There it would have gone!" She bent back down and got back to work. "Now he's nearly fighting shape, and in a little while I'll have him back to nearly showroom goodness. Just need a little love and care, and some high power- Joey! More internal damages in here, so as soon as you finish your quadrant, get in here, ok?" Shiori's voice echoed from within the metal chassis, and Joey gave another affirmative chitter with a small salute. Shiori's tail swished to and fro as her rump remained aimed skyward. Ei just stared then walked over to his machine, the YLM-27. He climbed up the frame of the ambulatory weapons platform and accessed one of the stowage bins, taking out a small weapons case. He opened it and took out a bottle of Patron tequila, taking a quick swig of the alcohol.

"You know... we have tech reps for this sort of thing..." he started, taking another swig. "And the reason... Brawl was in such shape was because we... didn't get a chance to effect repairs... after a really bad fight..."

"I am sure they are, but I have been itching to work on a mech besides my own for quite some time now. And I couldn't help it! He was just begging for some attentions." Shiori remarked back to him. "Hokay, that joint is good again. Lessee, where else...Aha!" She hopped down to the ground, quite a few feet up, and landed like it was nothing, save for the very loud THUD she made when she hit the floor. In moments she had made her way to the tank chassis of the mech and was very quickly tearing them apart, albeit carefully, and getting them reassembled good as new. Actually, slightly better. Everything she was doing was also enhancing their bits overall, and increasing energy efficiency as best as Shiori could muster. Ei returned the bottle of Patron to the stowage rack then climbed back down, approaching her. His HUD was flashing a warning that his motor control and balance was slightly hampered.

"Take... a quick break, okay. Just right quick..." he said, leaning on the tank base of the C. belli.

"Huh? How come?" Shiori looked away from now-finished tank chassis, towards Ei.

"Where did you get your training? You couldn't have gone to the Army's 95X school, that's for damn sure. And I doubt you've been to ArmsTek Warfare System's plant in Oregon." he said, brow furrowed. "Is this all... just self taught?"

"Nope. When I was little, they, my guardians, noticed that I had an affinity for mechs, so they decided to help me get focused. I think I was six when my training began, and I got my first personal mech at 12. It was such a beauty too. It was an LM-19A1 Acrocanthosaurus atokenses." She gave a whistful sigh. "A pity it got obliterated thanks to me being stupid one night. Nearly took me with it."

"I drove stick in those." Ei said, hopping up to sit on the tank-like chassis. "Then I got that thing." Ei pointed at the YLM-27.

"Ooh, what's that one? The parts overall look familiar, but...?" She tilted her head, making her way over to where Ei was leaning. Ei hopped off to lead her to his private machine.

"This, Shiori, is the YLM-27D4, the Dilophosaurus wetherelli. The Archetype from which all Lancers are based. Call it a super prototype." he replied, looking up at D4N1. "Of course it's supercharged, has better armor, and better installed weapons. It has to."

"Ooooooh." Was all she could muster as she stood before the massive machine. Shiori's eyes darted all over, drinking in every detal, and figuring out how things could and would work.

"Dual XM-301 20mm Gatling cannons, SMART armor over Chobham, specialized, high energy shielding, dual laser blades, sonic electronic ball busters, sharp sticks, rocks..." Ei paused to smile at her. "State... of the Badass... Art...." Shiori gushed at the super prototype, asking him what it's power to weight ratio was, combat load, response time, operational range, etc, etc was. Ei had to get her to calm down before telling her the specs, breaking down it's performance to date, both on the test ranges and in actual combat.

"Heeeee that is so cool!" She practically bounced in glee at the information.

"Aint it, though? Only downsides are... remember that shield I mentioned?" he asked her.

"Yeah?"

"There's a lot of restrictions for it's use. See, it's used to... regenerate that SMART armor I mentioned." Ei explained. "It's a reactive armor that is kinda weak against sabots but shines best against HEAT rounds and thermobarics. I know, I know, why install armor that can't stop a sabot?"

"Because when the Firestorm Defense is active anything that touches it is converted into replacement SMART armor."

"Now that's pretty impressive!" Shiori gave a massive approving grin. "Wish I could work on that one, but it looks already perfectly fine." She sighed a bit, then looked over. Joey had finally finished up with his internal work, and was simply waiting for the next order. "Hm...hoo, odd question, what time is it?" Ei checked his HUD, seeing the time on the display.

"I think about thirteen hundred or so. Least that's what my HUD says." he replied.

"Holy cow, really? How....oh, yes, time flies." She giggled. "Heh, oops." She looked herself over, and laughed. "Jeeze, I got all greasy too! I musta really got into it eh?"

"I dunno... I think it's a good look for you." he said, looking her over. "You know, fatigues don't do a whole lot for one's profile. You, though, are the exception."

Shiori laughed a little bit. "You flatter-er you." She gave him a small punch to the shoulder. "Yeah, I got the idea, from what seems to be nearly everyone giving me at least one once over." She giggled even more. "I'm....I'm kinda used to it by now."

"Hey, cheer up. You're beautiful in more ways than one." he said, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Biggest thing you've got going is your technical know how and your strength. That, in my opinion, overshadows the obvious."

"Heh thanks." She gave a more affirming grin, and stood up a bit straighter. "Though seriously, I think I ought to hit the showers. Grease and fur don't mix well."

"There's a lot those don't mix with. C'mon, let's head back. I'm sure the Major's sent a party out looking for us by now." he replied, picking up her jacket and handing it to her.

She started to put the jacket on, then stopped. "I am gonna get this messed up if I put this on." Ei looked around, trying to think of something.

"I got it... There's usually a locker with work coveralls in these things." he said, walking around the Lancers and checking the lockers along the walls. Several lockers contained lube oils, firefighting equipment, tools, and...

"Jackpot. Just like I thought." he said, holding a pair of olive drab coveralls out. "Might be a tight fit, though..."

"Might be better than ruining my only fitting fatigues." Shiori nabbed the coveralls and looked about for some privacy. Once found, she went and got changed. Ei turned his back to let her change, looking up at his machine. He was almost tempted to activate her, if only to see how 'Dani' would react to news of another super soldier. He decided against it, opting to allow her to rest. Or stasis. Or whatever AIs do. For all Ei knew, they dreamed of electric sheep or something. Or being buffed by a mechanism of their desire. Ei didn't know nor did he want to know. Although, the curiosity was beginning to creep up as to what a female robot would look like. Not like his Lancer, though. A real female, with curves and-

"Well, they ALMOST fit right." Shiori stated behind him. When Ei turned around, he saw that, indeed, the coveralls were a lttle too small. The overall effect was 'interesting' to say the least. "Hopefully this won't cause too much issue."

"Y-yah... Just a moment..." Ei said, not turning around. Instead he went back to his Lancer and scaled it, opening a stowage bin and taking out an IBA flak jacket with the groin protector installed. He came down with the body armor on, adjusting it momentarily. "Okay, problem solved..."

Shiori simply gave him a raised eyebrow, shrugged, and headed out the hangar with him once he was ready. Ei walked her back to the barracks, doing his best to avoid any familiar looking Bradley, lest one be crewed by anyone from the platoon. Twice they had to double back because at least one seemingly familiar Brad drove by. They arrived at the barracks to find it relatively empty. Ei went in ahead, to be sure First Sergeant Khukov wasn't around. The last thing he needed was the Ukranian coming down on Shiori for being out of uniform, again. He went back out to retrieve her.

"Alright, Top Khukov isn't around right now. My guess is everyone got some time off, maybe at the base club or something." he said to her. "Let's get inside before the big sumbitch shows up, because I know he will."

"Uhh, Ei..." She made a nudge of her head to the right.

"What, I said I don't see... him..." Ei saw the giant First Sergeant as he turned around, Khukov wearing his impeccably clean ACUs and patrol cap.

"I gave her a very simple warning. This is second time she is out of uniform." Khukov said, his voice menacing. "I have said it many times before, do not disgrace the uniform."

"Listen, Top, I can explain..." Ei said, trying to reason with the most senior of the platoon's three First Sergeants.

"This was a temporary measure, First Sergeant." Shiori undid a shoulder to show off the grease stains on her skin. "I was working on Brawl, one of the mechs, and had removed my fatigues to prevent them from snagging on the metal. By the time I had finished, I had found myself rather dirtied up, and seeing as I only have the one fitting set of fatigues, I was offered to wear this," She made a motion to her whole body, indicating the coveralls. Khukov rubbed the bridge of his nose, ovbiously vexed about Shiori's seeming lack of respect for the uniform regulations. He finally let out a sigh, relenting.

"Very well... But you had better unfuck your uniform situation today." he said to her before turning to Ei. "You, as second in command, must ensure Specialist Doe gets the requisite uniforms. Is that clear?"

"Yes, First Sergeant." Ei said. Khukov walked past them without a word, going into the barracks. Ei let out a deep breath.

"We dodged a bullet there... Last chance to stay on Top Khukov's good side." Ei said, taking the flak jacket off. The awkward need for it had passed as soon as Khukov made his presence known to them.

"Duly noted. Didn't think I'd tick someone off so soon. Hrm." She sighed. "OK, time to get the shower done. But first...." Shiori hunted down a bit of paper, a pen, and jotted something down. The paper was handed over to Ei, with a few numbers on there. Ei took the paper and looked it over.

"Shiori, what are these?" he asked, unable to make sense of the numbers.

"Measurements." She answered simply. Ei turned red upon realizing what they were measurements of.

"Shiori, I... I've never bought women's clothing before!" he said, keeping his voice down so no one would hear him.

"They're bought? I thought they were simply ordered. Huh." She looked a little nonplussed but shrugged. "Maybe I took it a little too literally. I'll get them afterwards then, ok?"

"Yes, please do... We... we can go to the PX again..." he said, holding the flak jacket in front of himself.

"Sounds good to me! I'll be back in a short while." And off she went. Ei relaxed for a moment, leaning against the wall. Once he had regained his composure he went to the officers level to leave his flak jacket on his bunk. He decided to wait on the ground level instead of in the enlisted bay, as someone might take it the wrong way, especially given who he was waiting for. Then again, a lot of protocols had already been broken. What was a few more? Then again, she wasn't actually regular Army, so maybe it was okay. Then again, perception is reality in the military. Thinking about it was giving Ei a headache. He simply lay his head back as he sat on the couch and closed his eyes, trying to focus on something else. Like baseball.

Shiori took her sweet time in the showers. Well, sorta; if she was at home, she would have taken a lot longer. At any rate, about thirty minutes after getting in, Shiori made her way back to where she thought Ei was. Hm. Wonder where the captain went. Maybe he was called away. She made her way downstairs, and lo and behold in the lobby, there he was. Shiori padded over and sat herself on the empty portion of the couch. Guess he fell asleep. Poor guy, musta been through a lot today. I'll leave him to catch up.

She grinned yet again to the captain as he snoozed, then got up and out into the main field again. Now where was that Commissary. I think it was...that way. Shiori thought to herself. She started making her way, getting turned around here and there. After about thirty minutes, she realized she was fairly lost. Iiiii shoulda paid more attention. Oops.

The supersoldier walked to and fro, getting even more lost in the process. Shiori leaned carefully against a hangar bay wall, pondering where to go next, when she heard some shouting near by, as well as some loud mechancal grinding. What in the world is going on over there?

Over there was a group of Army engineers erecting HESCO Barrirers along the perimeter fence. It was a defensive addition after some radicals attempted to breach the fence with a pair of bolt cutters. To that end, HESCO barriers were shipped in from Stateside along with a company of Army Engineers. A company of Army Engineers with malfunctioning equipment.

"How did we fix this thing last time?" a sergeant asked, elbow deep in Wheel Loader engine.

"I don't know! Meaux was the only guy who knew how an' he EAS'd last month!" a coporal replied, looking into the engine compartment with his senior NCO. A few other PFCs had been tasked with filling the barriers manually. To that end, they were picking up shovel fulls of dirt and running them to the HESCO barriers in a human chain. It was very slow going but when your wheel loader decides to break down and you have privates in abundance then you make due, all the while bitching out the equipment.

"Why can't we get a new one?" the corporal asked.

"Because of fuckin' budget cuts. I told you that be- Hey, this is a work site! You're not supposed to be here!" the sergeant shouted at a woman approaching them.

"I heard some shouting, as well as the tell-tale sound of mechanical failure, and was wondering what was going on." She looked to the broken down Wheel Loader, then the barriers that were being dragged over, then back to the gaggle of people hunched over the machine. "Would ya'll like some help with that barrier?"

Seriously with this woman?. "Yeah, sure, whatever, just stay out of the way or grab a shovel or something. Got enough problems as is." The sergeant turned back around to the machine. "So , what, we're just gonna burn fucking manpower until we just happen to have a fucking miracle happen?" He groused to the corporal.

"Well, there ain't a whole fucking lot I can do to fix it now, that component is shot to hell!" The corporal groused back. There was a loud metalic thud over in the distance, but he and the others ignored it. Probably just the barrier just now getting put into place. "We'll do what" THUD "we can but until" THUD "then all we can do is" THUD "For fuck's sakes what the hell is tha-!"

When the NCOs turned around to investigate, they saw the strangest thing ever. All the privates that were working had stopped in their tracks, mesmorized by the sight. That random woman with the ears and tail was systematically lifting up the barrier pieces, at least a ton or so each, off the ground like they were nothing, carefully balancing them, and installing them where they needed to go. In minutes, as they stood in stunned silence, she finished up the last few pieces that were left, and turned to the officers.

"There ya go! That work?" She called out. The sergeant could only nod, flabbergasted.

"Heh, that's good. Say, could ya'll point me to the Commissary? I got a bit lost."

The corporal found his voice first. "T-take the road back, Second left, will be a long ways down on your right...."

"Thank you!" She answed back to him, and went merrily on her way.

The soldiers looked to one another, then back to her retreating form, and once again at each other. "What the hell just happened?" The sergeant mused aloud. Meanwhile, back at the barracks, Eikichi woke up with a start, one hand outstretched as if to defend himself against an attacker, the other going for a pistol that wasn't there. Like his KA-Bar and Tomahawk, his M-1911 was still packed away in his ditty bag. He took a moment to compose himself, doing a little breathing exercise Dr. Rutherford had recommended to him a while back. Once he felt more in control he tried to think of what he was-

"OH FUCK, SHIORI!" he said aloud, seeing what time it was on his HUD. He bolted out of the barracks, nearly plowing through Corporals La Pointe and Guerra on the way out. He felt responsible for her, not just because she was like him, an altered soldier, but also because he was coming to like her.

Unfortunately his enthusiasm and speed were cut short by running face first into what felt like a brick wall.

A brick wall shaped like First Sergeant Vlagimir Khukov. Ei landed on his butt, hands going to his nose.

"Cap, you really have to watch where you are going." the giant said, Ei looking at his hands and seeing blood.

"You boke by dose!" Ei screamed, trying to stop the bloodflow by holding his nose. Khukov crouched down to take a look at Ei's nose, the Captain not wanting him to touch it.

"Come on, let me see..." Khukov said, Ei finally easing up. The giant looked at both sides then placed his index and middle finger on either side of EI's broken nose.

"Bait, I bant Doelb do-"

*SNAP*

Khukov broke Ei's nose back into place without hesitation, despite the Captain's very brief plea to have the platoon's Combat Medic, Sergeant First Class Mahmoud "Goleb" al-Husseini, to look at it. The only thing keeping Ei from screaming was the shock and the fresh waves of pain radiating from his face. His HUD was red, displaying a wireframe model of his nose before the break, after, and again in the lower right hand corner. His heartbeat was racing and his adrenaline levels were spiking. All because Khukov decided to be as straightforward as possible.

"Now, where were you going in such a rush, Kapitan?" Khukov asked.

"I was going... to look for Specialist... Doe... I fell asleep on the couch... and she was gone..." he repied. An indicator on his HUD showed that his nose had resumed it's normal operations. "I was going to get her to the PX... to get her uniforms..." Khukov stood up, extending his bear paw of a hand to Ei and helping him up.

"While that is admirable, I must say it's something you should have delegated to one of your junior soldiers." Khukov suggested.

"Because she's like me. She was altered. That's why I feel responsible." The giant nodded then gestured toward an M-1114 Uparmored HMMWV.

"We've got wheels now. Let's see if we can't find her at least." he suggested. The two soldiers mounted up and pulled away from the barracks, driving toward the PX in silence. At a stoplight Ei decided to break the silence.

"Hey, Top, about earlier..."

"I don't want to hear it." Khukov replied, turning into the intersection as the light turned green. "In this organization perception is reality. I do not want to know what happened nor do I care to know. I'd rather not lose you due to 'conduct unbecomming.'" Ei slumped in his seat as they passed by a group of engineers manually erecting HESCO barriers. He could see a working party running shovels of dirt that had been trucked in, their dozer apparently broken down. An M-1070 Heavy Equipment Tractor with a lowboy trailer was nearby, an M-88A2 Recovery Vehicle hooking up the broken down dozer to tow it onto the trailer.

"Listen, I may not agree with your.... that... thing that..." Khukov stumbled, trying to find the right word.

"Orientation?"

"Yeah, that. I may not agree with it but you are one of my superior officers, and a good one at that." he said as he pulled into the PX parking lot. "You're also the only officer I've had that willingly carries a SAW instead of an M-4."

"Hey, nothing else says 'support' like a belt fed, automatic weapon." Ei replied, cracking a smile. He was of the belief that the best way an officer can support his platoon is with a belt fed weapon, laying down cover fire so the rest can do their jobs. The two soldiers dismounted and entered the Exchange in search of Shiori, heading to the uniform shop first.

When they walked inside, they could hear her talking to the person at the counter. "No, these are not joke numbers. Do I look like joke numbers?"

"I-I'm sorry ma'am, but...I just haven't seen measurements like this since this giant from First Cav made an order a few weeks ago. It might take a little bit for the top, but we have the pants, no issue there. Well, save the....tail." The clerk, a civilian contractor, could be heard.

"Hrm. I shoulda figured. Ah, well, do what you can eh? Need at least something over the next two days, seeing as I can't be here that long." Shiori replied.

"Y-yes ma'am, I'll see what I can do...." the clerk stammered. The two soldiers heard her, making their approach. They would have remained unnoticed had the clerk not seen Khukov and recognized him. "Oh, it's you! Your order is ready for pickup." Ei and Khukov stopped, Shiori looking over her shoulder and at them.

"Oh hi! Just got my order put in, First Sergeant, so I should get them in...er, soonish, right?" She clarified to the clerk, who nodded out of habit before catching themselves. "Hmm? Oh, yeah, we'll put a rush order on it. I can start it right now and have it ready by tomorrow."

"Sounds reasonable..." Ei mused, looking at several orders that were awaiting pickup. There were several Air Force uniforms on the rack: dress uniforms, fatigues, coveralls, working uniforms. There were also a few Army uniforms hanging, no doubt Khukovs. They were hanging lower than the other uniforms on the rack.

"I'd like to pick mine up now, if possible." Khukov said, taking his wallet out and stepping up to the counter.

The clerk gave another nervous nod, headed to where Khukov's uniforms were waiting, and brought them back. "H-here you go s- I mean, First Sergeant."

"Thank you. I work for a living." Khukov replied as he took his uniforms, looking them over. "Is good work. Thank you for your services."

Meanwhile, off to the side, Shiori leans over and asks "Sleep well, Ei?" Ei mulled it over, recalling the nightmare he had had and contemplated telling her.

"Yeah, fairly well... Didn't know how tired I was." he said, opting for a different course of action. He'd have to tell Dr. Rutherford about it later.

"Good. So...you both here simply to pick up his uniform, or were you hunting me again?" Shiori asked with a small smirk.

"Picking up the First Sergeant's uniforms was a side objective, honestly. We had intended to pick you up." he replied, smiling back at her.

"I see. Er, mind if I ask what for?"

"Because I feel responsible for you." Because I like you. he didn't say, yet again.

"Oh. That makes sense, what with being the superior officer and all." She remarked back, waiting on Khukov to finish with his purchase. "Are there any particular orders yet, or....?"

"No, not yet. Only our Bradley crews got orders. They're on gate guard duty until another unit from Fort Bliss comes in. The rest of us will have tasking tomorrow when SDI's people come in to check our Lancers and-" Ei paused, thinking back to what he saw in the hangar. There had been five more Lancers that he didn't recognize in the platoon. "There were five machines I didn't recognize in the hangar... You ever see them before?"

"They looked kinda familiar, in a few bits here and there, but otherwise, nope." Shiori shook her head. She paused a moment, thinking about it. "Though I did notice that they lacked any definitive heads."

"Yeah, I saw that too. Kinda odd building a Lancer without a head. I mean, where do the optics go? How is the pilot supposed to see?" he mused as Khukov joined them.

Shiori gave a polite salute. "First Sergeant." The giant scowled.

"You do not salute an enlisted man nor do you salute indoors." he began. "The former is only ever excused when on post and challenging someone at an Entry Control Point."

"I....sorry."

"Look, I only correct you because... I want you to succeed in the Army." he began, trying to make her feel better. "I was in your shoes once, about... eighteen, nineteen years ago. It took time but I got the swing of things and here I am, a First Sergeant of the United States Army. You'll get into it yourself, if you remember protocol."

"I...thanks. Its just, been about 4 years, and I was raised in, uh, unorthodox conditions and protocols. Kinda hard to get back into the saddle after that bit of time, eh?" She gave another apologetic grin. "So, you've been enlisted pretty long, eh? Mind if I ask what you find the best about the service?" Khukov reached up to rub his chin as he thought about his answer.

"It would have to be the experiences you get. No other organization can offer the same or equivalent experience. Except maybe SDI, but they require prior service." he replied. "It's really what you make of it."

Shiori nodded. "I'd have to agree, really, even if my, ah, experiences might be considered a fair bit different." She beamed to the two of them "Where are we off to next? Or can I go back to that hangar? There was still a lot of work to be done and-" The snowleopard lady paused, then eeped. "I left Joey waiting! Poor thing, must have either finished all the seam work, or is just...sitting there, bored out of his mind."

"What is this 'Joey?'" Khukov asked.

"Joey is an AI representative of my making, brought here on permission, to act as a...talking point? Liason? Someone to connect with the special soldiers that were brought here into that hangar that he's now waiting in." She explained. Khukov just looked at her then at Ei.

"It makes sense in context..." Ei said to the giant. Khukov simply shrugged.

"Well, uh, still the question: Where to now?"

"Let's just go get this... 'Joey' and be done with it..." he sighed.

"Alrighty." She grinned yet more, and followed them into the vehicle. Khukov laid his uniforms in the back of the armored vehicle, Ei hopping into the passenger seat. The giant took his place behind the wheel and flipped the ignition switch. A common prank on FNGs (Fucking New Guys) is to tell them to look for Humm Vee keys. That and Headlight Fluid and Elbow Grease.

"The hangar should be locked down, unless they're short on personnel as I think they are." he commented, pulling out of the parking lot and into the street. Ei turned back in his seat to talk to her.

"So it's all in order? No more wardrobe malfunctions with the uniforms?" he asked.

"Shouldn't be, though by saying so I have activated Murphy's Law, and every single clothing trope that could happen may very well hit in rapid succession." She giggled a little to herself. "But I will do what I can to prevent that."

"Clothing Damage isn't always a bad thing." Ei mused. This got him a glare from Khukov. "Well... Within reason, of course..." Khukov looked back at the road, shaking his head.

Shiori couldn't help but chuckle at the exchange. "How much of that HESCO barrier needs to be set up?" Both men looked at her.

"HESCO Barrier?" Ei asked.

"Those things that they have been erecting all day." She pointed out where the privates left off as they passed. Ei saw the barriers for the first time since coming to Yokota Air Base. He and Khukov both had seen them plenty of times in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"That's an Engineering thing. Not ours to worry about, as Cavalry and Armored Infantry." Ei replied.

"Ah. Ok then." They drove on in silence until arriving at the hangar in short order. Across the tarmac a pair of CH-47M Chinook Chiefs were dropping off munitions for Patriot missiles and CRAM trailers. Much of it had been relocated from Camp Nerima after the bulk of American forces withdrew from Tokyo. The token force left behind could still fight a holding action just long enough for USS Bonhomme Richard's Marines to arrive and, hopefully, turn the tide. In the absolute worst case scenario, the USS Maine was well within striking distance of her Trident D-III nuclear missiles. Each one had five warheads that could be independently targeted to lay down wide swaths of irradiated no man's land.

Of course that was the absolute nightmare scenario. The trio dismounted from the Humm Vee and approached the hangar.

"This'll just be a moment." As she hopped out, the Humm Vee, bouncing a bit. Shiori looked about, found the way she got in last time, and entered without too much fuss. Ei followed her in, Top going to the other side of the building to light up a cigarette on the smoke pit.

"Hey, your spider thing doesn't do things on it's own, does it?" Ei asked her.

"Nothing much more than repair work. That's why I brought him in particular. He's content with doing what he needs to, then powering down." She answered back. And lo, when they entered the hangar proper, there was Joey, sitting in the middle. The rest of the mechs looked like they each got some seam work done in turn, but surprisingly, what looked to be 'battle scars' were left untouched. "Huh. Musta been longer than I thought." Shiori moved to the spidermech, and gave him a pat to the head. "Time to sleep. Get yerself to a charging point, and power down, ok?"

The little spider gave a small salute, chittered an affirmation, and skittered off to find a suitable place to rest. "Like I said, wouldn't take too long, eh?"

"It's cute, in a creepy sort of way." Ei said, watching it skitter off. He looked at the assembled Lancers again, looking for the ones he didn't recognize. Sure enough, they were right where they had been docked, powered down and connected to computers. "Huh... There's... a dome, but.... It's not really a head." he mused, peering at the machines. "Yep, those are ArmsTek machines. They're known for peculiar Lancer designs."

"I really need to start getting back into my research on these guys. Ugh, but with everything going on at home, I barely had enough time to agree to be here for the week..." She groused just a little. "Would love to have more time with these guys."

I'd like more time with you. Ei mused, looking over at his machine. It wasn't normal to see her this quiet. "Anie might like you. Although given that you jumped the gun on repairing Brawl, well... Could go either way."

"Heh, well, I hope I'd get along with her. Always bad to just...start on the wrong foot, ya know?" She wiped off a smudge on one of the mechs, then made her way back to Ei. "Welp, all I can do for now, unless I get permission to be here all night."

"I highly doubt they'd give you permission. Best take the time to relax.." he suggested.

"Hrm. Problem, don't know how to."

"A side effect of your upbringing, I take it." Ei mused.

"Ehhhhh partly-not-really. I've always felt more comfortable doing stuff for folks. But I have come to realization that maybe I need to slow down just a smidge." Shiori answered back, another embarassed grin on her face.

"So we'll work on that. Maybe... After we return everything to it's rightful place we kick back and relax. Somehow..." he said, trying to come up with a way to get her to dial down.

"Ehhhhhh, if you say so. No idea where to begin, but ok. Yer the commanding officer." Shiori replied with a teasing grin on her face. It took Ei a moment to come up with something when a subscreen opened up on the lower right hand corner of his HUD. It was a memory of his trip to a place where the food can and will bite you back. A magical place of Scottish chefs and Haggis.

"I have an idea. But we'll have to go off base for it and you may have to drive." he finally said, the hangar side door opening. Top Khukov was standing there.

"Were Anie here she would call this completely unsat." he said, observing the scattered tools and parts.

"I was just about to put them up. Just needed to put Joey to bed and then got a little sidetracked." Shiori made a wave to the direction of the now-sleeping spiderbot. "I remember where they went, gimme just a few moments." She then started gathering and replacing the tools. The replaced parts were aside in a pile for recycling. Khukov joined Ei's side, the two soldiers watching her.

"What's your assessment, Captian?" the giant asked. Ei gave him a look.

"The Major asked me the same thing. I have to say, she knows her shit. She patched Brawl back together, though, like I told her, I've got a feeling that Anie isn't going to be too happy." Ei replied.

Joey chittered lightly in his "sleep" as Shiori got the last of the tools put up, and as the two men talked amongst themselves. At one point, Shiori realized she left off a decoration from Brawl's "head ". She jumped clear from the ground, landed pretty nicely, put the decoration up, and jumped back down as though the whole process was nothing. Ei and Khukov just stared at her feat.

<"WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST SEE!?"> Khukov demanded, screaming in Ukranian. <"WHAT IN THE ACTUAL DEPLETED URANIUM FUCK!?">

"Yeah, they definitely short changed me at Los Alamos..." Ei lamented.

Shiori jumped back at the screaming. "I-I-I uh...." She stood there, stymied for a few seconds, before she went into a fairly embarrassed pose, hands behind her back. "I....sorry. I just...I got used to the idea of being around peers again, I guess." After the initial shock went away the cleanup of the hangar was a quick affair, The three returned to the barracks, intent on keeping what was seen to themselves. Unfortunately for Eikichi, Dr. Burke had arrived from Atsugi to do a check on his systems. This left Shiori in the hands of Corporal Jamie Guerra and Corporal Reilly Hannigan, the latter taking charge and dragging them both to the base recreational facility. Hannigan grilled Shiori over her story, Guerra remaining mostly silent until Hannigan pointed out two similarities between Shiori and Guerra: their busts. Shiori couldn't help but give an incredulous look to that remark. The night went on, Hannigan drinking more and more until Guerra had to drag her out. It was their good fortune that Sergeant Karolinski had gone to the exchange to buy a new pair of boots, lifting the Jersey native in a fireman's carry. A few times they had to stop to pose Reilly in an innocuous pose while a Bradley or a Humm Vee passed by. Once at the barracks, Rostok broke off to stand watch on the makeshift armory while Guerra enlisted the help of Corporal Washington, who carried Reilly the rest of the way and put her to bed. Jamie kept Shiori company until taps, soldiers filing in and undergoing their own nightly routines. Through the night a few would be woken up to stand fire watch or to stand watch over the '"armory." Revellie came at zero five hundred, Khukov leading the charge to wake the platoon up for morning PT. Hannigan was the slowest to rise, for very obvious reasons. Despite the lack of sun she formed up outside of the barracks with her sunglasses on. Warmup exercises went without a hitch, First Sergeants Topper and Rage leading the pack in counting.

This went on for another ten minutes before the platoon formed up for a five mile run in formation. The officers were in the front with the senior sergeants behind them and the rest bringing up the rear.

"My recruiter told me a lie!" Topper called out.

"My recruiter told me a lie!" the platoon replied.

"Said 'gonna be airborne and jump and fly!'"

"Said 'gonna be airborne and jump and fly!'"

"Signed my name on the dotted line!"

"Signed my name on the dotted line!"

"Now all I do is double time!"

"Now all I do is double time!" Shiori paced herself, measuring her steps so as to not overtake the pack and cause an incident like the previous day. Once back at the barracks it was a scramble to shower and kit up, Topper reminding the platoon that it was a work day and that they had no time to take 'Hollywood Showers.' He further threatened sending Top Khukov in to marshal people out, even on the female side of the curtain. For soldiers who were out of the shower it became a scramble to kit up and get out the door for morning chow. The platoon went out in formation to the chow hall, being rewarded for their morning workout with somehow superior Air Force chow, save for the tray rat sausages which seemed to be the same in every AO.

Shiori seemed to enjoy herself, and was in happy spirits the whole time. She happily chatted with any of the soldiers that were willing to do so, grinning and giggling the whole time. Well, when appropriate anyways. Despite this, she still seemed antsy about getting to work, anticipating more mech repair. The platoon split into two groups. One group, the Mech Killers, were being flown in to the Marine training base at Nerima to use their Killhouse and get their edge back. The other, the Armored Infantry and Cav Scouts, remained on base to do workups on their machines. That group went back to the barracks, to allow the pilots to change from fatigues to pilot's suits.

Except for Khukov. Even with a custom order placed they still didn't make suits in his size. The group was shuttled from the barracks to the hangar, meeting up with SDI personnel. Anie, Dr. Burke, and Sergeant Wilks were already set to work, the Lancers hooked up to diagnostic computers. But first, Anie had a few words for Shiori.

"I heard what happened and I am not very happy." she began, pacing before Shiori and Ei. "Effectin' repairs on these machines requires a protocol. Parts have to be ordered, damage done needs to be cataloged for the manufacturer's stress tests, an' so on an' so forth."

"Brawl here may not be a General Dynamics Land Warfare Systems product, HOWEVER, I am the tech rep responsible for makin' sure the maintenance runs smoothly on all the Lancers assigned to 15th- I mean, 28th Armored Infantry Platoon. That means I gotta be present for major repairs."

"Anie, you were at Atsugi doing god knows what." Ei tried to interject. Anie got in his face, leaning in uncomfortably close.

"You trynna stand up for your girlfriend now? Tell me, Cap, whaddya think woulda happened if she had tried to do maintenance on D4N1, hmm?" Ei didn't want to think about it. "That aside, you did a real bang up job fixin' Brawl. I don't know how you did it without spare parts, but I've been around the block a time or two to know quality work when I see it."

"Where I, uh, got my training, I learned how to flat out repair parts outright. As for the outer armor , I had some help ." Shiori patted her leg twice, and Joey skittered up next to her. The little spider mech stood beside Shiori, and gave a tiny salute to Anie.

"You woudn't mind if I tore it apart, just to see how it works, would you?" Anie asked, looking at Joey then back at Shiori.

"He would. Buuuut I could do a quick fix on Joey, with you witnessing. That could work?" Shiori offered.

"You got a deal." Anie replied before turning her sights on Ei. "Cap, I'm gonna get the system set up for a Neural Handshake test. I'll let you know when I'm ready for you." Anie left the two, walking toward the YLM-27. Already a few technicians were working on affecting repairs and removing munitions in order to maintain the installed weapons.

"Shiori, I... kind of Googled you..." Ei said to her, a little nervous.

"Would you mind if I set Joey to continue his seam work in the meantime?" Shiori asked to Anie, before turning back to Ei. "Ya did?"

"I... saw more than I was expecting..." Ei's face was red, despite his dark complection.

"Ya di- ohhhh. Oh dear." Shiori went red then leaned over to whisper, "Might be a good idea to talk about that later. Suffice to say, those won't last long once I contact someone, hmkay?"

"Eeeehhhh... They're... kinda burned... into my memory..." he said, an SDI Black Hawk touching down nearby and disgorging technicians and what appeared to be PMC soldiers. They were kitted out similar to regular infantrymen, save for the ball caps, rolled up sleeves, beards, and non-standard weapons. "I've seen a lot... and a lot cannot be unseen..."

"Ehhh, don't spread it around at least?" She half-begged. Joey went over to check out the technicians, clicked his approval at the group, and headed to the nearest mech in need of work. Once again , the little spider got to business with easily patching up the armor like new. Battlescars still left untouched, but the dangerous seams and openings fixed up. "Joey, listen to them when they need you to, ok sweetie?" Cue an affirmative chatter, and back to work he goes.

Ei took a moment to regain his composure before checking the leads on his pilot's suit. "So, you ever see a Neural Handshake before?" he asked her.

"Nope. With the stuff in my system, they were worried what would happen." Shiori paused and thought. "Though, with the new tech, maybe I could try. Would need a suit though."

"No you won't. I'm the one doing the 'handshake.'" Ei said, absent mindedly rubbing the back of his head. "I was altered to be able to interface with my machine, to control it like my own body. You ever wondered what it's like to be thirty tons of ambulatory death machine?"

"Yep. Must be kinda awesome."

"The body feels heavy at first. Like you have to measure your movements, plan out every step, every motion. But when you get accustomed to it, nothing can stop you." he said as Anie approached.

"Got a Humm Vee comin' for the test. Strap in, Cap." She then looked at Shiori. "I'm gonna need a number two for this test. You game?"

"Absolutely!" Shiori beamed at Anie. After Anie walked off, Shiori remarked to Ei, "that's kinda how I already feel every day. Especially the measuring thing." Another big grin (she seriously seemed to have forgotten the Google thing), and she practically bounced over to where Anie went. She was positively giddy at the idea of more mechwork.

"Alright, monitoring program is already up and running. AI should be 'waking up' any moment now. Just keep your eyes on that screen, especially when the pilot plugs in." Anie explained as Ei scaled D4N1, popping the hatch then sliding in. Once in the cockpit Ei strapped himself in, securing the harness then placing his 'horseshoe' collar on the back of his neck.

"You never wrote..." 'Dani' said to Ei as he plugged leads into his suit and the collar.

"I didn't have a forwarding address. Major said you went to a Black Site, so it's not like I could have written you any way." he said to her, flipping a number of switches. An automatic system closed the hatch, CPS (Chemical Protection System) kicking in and pressurizing the cockpit. "Anie, how's it look on your end?"

"All green out here. I got Shiori on the number two position." Anie replied over her radio as an M-1114 Uparmored Humm Vee backed into the hangar. An SDI driver was at the helm, one of their PMC operators climbing up to remove the fifty cal in the turret. Anie wouldn't need it for the test.

"Hey, I ain't got ammo. Where are my bullets?" Dani asked as Ei finished his 'kickstart' checklist.

"We're not letting you out with a full load, you know that. Remember White Sands?" Anie countered.

"Shoot down one VIP chopper and no one lets you live it down. They shouldn't have been flying in a weapons range!"

"Things look normal so far. Slightly increased heartrate, but normal. Hrm." Shiori leaned over and sotto whispered "I would love to work on her engine. She could always use an efficiency boost."

"Yeah, not gonna happen. They literally don't make parts for this machine any more. I've had to cannibalize a lot of other machines to keep her runnin', because the few parts we do have for her are locked up, per US DoD." Anie said to Shiori before keying her radio. "Alright, Cap, we're ready for the 'handshake.'"

"Who said anything about new parts? Check out Brawl when ya get a chance." She grinned, then focused back on the screen.

"Alright, ready to initialize neural handshake. Going hot in... three..."

"...two..."

"...one..." Within the cockpit Ei tensed up then went slack. One minute he was in control of his body. The next he was in control of a super prototype weapons platform.

"Talk to me, Cap, what's your status?" Anie asked.

"I can hear bells ringing." he replied over the Lancer's PA system. "All green. No hiccups at all." As far as Anie and Ei were concerned this was one of the more routine handshakes. The first Neural Handshake resulted in Ei's mind getting stuck in the machine for a few days before the techs were able to extract him.

"Still normal readings. Though I wonder what is causing the tinitus..." Shiori noted.

"When we got him back out after the first Neural Handshake he heard a ringing in his ears for a few minutes." Anie replied. "Really he's quoting Grimesy from the movie 'Black Hawk Down.' See, he gets upended by an RPG strikin' a wall near him an William Fichtner, who's portrayin' a Delta Force operator digs him outta the rubble and asks him 'you okay? You alright?'"

"An' Ewan McGregor, who plays Grimesy, calls back 'I can hear bells ringing!' So it's become a little inside joke between us."

"Ohh. Ok, good, was a little worried there. Did not catch the ref cause I haven't seen many movies yet."

"Stick around with this platoon. They have a very healthy collection of movies."

"So I've heard." She said brightly before going back to monitoring

"Alright, let's get the basics out of the way. Turn your head right." Anie ordered. Ei looked to the right. "Alright, now to the left." Ei complied.

"God, I hate the basic checks... Give me something hard." he said as Anie mounted up in the Humm Vee.

Shiori couldn't help it. She leaned over to Anie and whispered: "Drop and give me twenty?" With a barely stifled giggle.

"Shiori, I can hear you...." Ei said. "All the same, I can't do proper push ups because of the core. One armed push ups, however..."

"Last time you tried, you fell over and I had to call for a crane." Anie replied. "Let's get some of the other basics out of the way." The basic checks took a little over five minutes to complete, Ei working the joints in the arms and legs then pivoting in place.

"Alright, we're ready to take a walk. Let's take it at, say, twenty five." Anie said into the radio, the Humm Vee driver putting the utility vehicle into gear and giving it gas. Ei followed closely, looking as though he was jogging after them.

"Still looking ok so far." Shiori noted, though she kept giving pensive looks to some of D4N1's joints.

"Talk to me, Shiori. Any stress on the systems?" Anie asked, looking at the laptop screen.

"Not that the screen is showing....." She hesitated, before continuing. "But look at that knee bit. It is slight , but it keeps shuddering every second step. Watch." Anie gave it a look, concentrating on the knee.

"Good eye... We'll tear it down when we get back." she said, keying her radio. "Cap, let's do a 'bounce test.'"

"Not sure how the Chair Force would like that, but okay." Ei stopped where he was and bent his knees, almost as though he was going to jump in place. Jump jets on the core, legs, and powerpack fired off, providing enough thrust to send the thirty ton weapons platform into the air in a high arc.

"I never get tired of seein' them do that, Shiori. "Anie said to her, watching Ei land almost a football field's distance away.

Shiori nodded absentmindedly, peering hard where he landed. ".....how many more times do they need to do that?"

"Just once." she replied, keying her radio. "Alright, let's take it back."

"Yes, please. I felt some irregularities on landing in the left knee." Ei replied, turning and walking toward the Humm Vee. "Probably from damage taken during that clusterfuck."

"Just be careful walking back, you two."

"Yes, mom..." Ei replied. There were no problems on the way back and the cessation of the neural handshake went without a hitch. Ei climbed dowm from his Lancer, unzipping his suit a little bit. The crew neck shirt that was exposed had a sweat stain from the collar down.

"That left knee needs some work. Might have taken an RPG or small arms fire. I really can't say for certain." he said, giving Anie and Shiori his personal input. "Honestly, I've taken IED hits harder than whatever was thrown at Dani during that little altercation."

"Gotcha." Shiori looked to Anie, "want me an Joey to get started in a minute?"

"Go for it. I do, however, need you to catalogue damage done as you go. They may not make another machine like D4N1, but any data we get helps in the long run."

Shiori gave a thumbs up, then whistled in Joey 's direction. The little spiderbot came a clattering, ducking and weaving around and under people. When he made it over: "Extreme clean up and seamwork. Will need you to be careful, and to come when I need ya. Irreplaceable part protocol."

Joey saluted, and skittered over to D4N1. He gave a questioning chitter up to the mecha to see if she was still concious.

"What the hell are you?" D4N1 asked, looking down at Joey. He chittered and chattered poitely upwards. "I could use some detail work... Left knee's on it's way out. Check the linkages in the arms too. And the rotarty magazines up on the shoulders. I know they get a lot of work when swapping weaps out. I don't much fancy having them malfunction in combat." The little spider hopped with excitment, and clambered up her left leg with ease. In moments, he was working happily, keeping a detailed list of his work in a memory bank for later.

Shiori off to side talked with Anie: "He'll keep good tabs, and be able to get to places I can't. He and his brothers help out a ton where I work."

"I can't begin to tell you how useful that'd be at AWDT's workshop at Fort Irwin. Although a lot of the techs may not share your enthusiasm." Anie replied. "Colonel Segovia might want to-"

"SPIDER! FUCKING SPIDER!" one of the SDI operators shouted, pointing his M-4 at Joey.

"YOU PUT THAT GUN DOWN OR I SWEAR YOU WILL DEAL WITH ME BUSTER!" She pointed. "He is legit equipment, and doing stellar work to boot!"

Shiori gave an embarrassed grin to Anie and. Ei "Iiii am gonna guess that wasn't protocol, but no one threatens my babies. I hand made all of them, one by one."

"It looked like a camel spider! I hate those things!" the operator said, safing his weapon and letting it hang from the Chalker Sling he had it on.

"Yeah, Shiori, google Camel Spiders. You'll find they scare the shit out of any American serviceman who's been to Iraq." Ei said, picking up a water bottle from a cooler. "Rostok and Stromberg tore their room apart trying to find one once."

"I can understand , but he is most decidedly metal and not fuzzy." Shiori noted, but relented. "Joey, be careful with sudden movements." The spidermech gave an absentminded chitter. He was not only focused on his job, but also trying to carry a conversation with the far grandly sized warmech.

"Hey, in his defense, you do kind of look like an oversized camel spider. I've seen them eat small lizards." D4N1 said to Joey as a five ton truck backed into the hangar. Khukov got down from it. Joey chittered that he wasn't too worried, and went back to wanting to know more about what she does and how she does it.

"Top, you bringing us gifts?" Ei asked the giant.

"Wish I was." he replied, the driver and another soldier hopping down. "They need another machine on the perimeter. More presence to dissuade people from trying to breach the fence that hasn't had HESCO barriers erected."

"I think a shock weapon is more than enough to dissuade someone." Ei said as Khukov helped the truck crew unload crates of ammunition from the truck. Loading it took fifteen minutes, for the arm Gatlings, the core mounted howitzer, CIWS on the right shoulder and Hellfires in the left. Instead of his usual GAU-8/B Avenger cannon, Georgi was armed with two battle rifles, a 105mm bazooka, and a GAR-65A4 chaingun. Shiori woulda helped, and nearly did, till she remembered what happened last night.

"Top, remember, nothing they have can scratch you!" Ei shouted up to the giant as he popped his Lancer's hatch.

"Did that stop insurgents from trying to hit me with RPGs?" he asked back before descending into the cockpit. During the platoon's Iraq deployment a group of insergents had attempted to ambush Georgi, striking him with multiple RPGs from several angles, to no avail.

"Point taken. Do watch yourself out there, Top." Ei said as he watched the hatch close. Khukov kickstarted Georgi, the munitions truck pulling out.

"Hey, if you see him, tell Pash he has my patrol in six hours." Khukuov said over the PA. Ei gave a thumbs up as the superheavy biped walked out of the hangar.

Shiori double checked with Anie with what all she wanted done, and proceeded to impress the hell out of her. Joey, meanwhile, worked extra diligently on Dani. It was as though he was trying to impress the warmech.

"Yeah, right there... Felt like there were some burrs in that actuator." Dani mused at Joeys ministrations. He chittered happily, and skuttled around her frame as needed. "Hey, see if you can't get the rotary hangars on my back. They're a bitch for the fleshbags to get to as it is." The Rotarty Hangars were stowage racks for handheld weapons, clamps holding weapons in reserve until an equipped weapon was placed in the open clamp, the reserve weapons rotating into position to be gripped and brought to bear. The original YLM-19, Desolator, lacked the rotary hangars initially. MECHALTs done in the mid nineties installed the device, giving the original mass production machine greater flexibility. The only thing the hangars couldn't accomodate were large weapons like Sniper Howitzers and Autocannons. Most weapons that required a ready positon were too heavy to be hung up on the hangar racks.

Joey skittered around her frame with ease, making his way to those hangars. There was a low mechanical whistle at the sight, but the spiderbot steeled himself up, and got to work yet again. In a few minutes there were some sounds of clanging and whirring as Joey's ministrations finally started to produce results. The data from external stimuli Dani was receiving could have been interpreted as pleasure from Joey's work on her rotary hangars. One could compare it to a massage had she been human.

"Where the hell were you when I had to have my last MECHALT? Coulda used those magical servos of yours..." she mused, feeling more relaxed than she ever had. If a machine could relax. Joey chittered and chattered in response, detailing his and his brothers' work in the school that Shiori worked for as well. Anie coordinated Joey's movements, with Shiori's direction, sending the little spider bot among the rest of 28th AI's Lancers. Barrage receieved repairs to his radar, the array having been damaged during the slaughter by a lucky RPG hit. Chainlink had to undergo an ambulatory systems repair and replacement, something he was long overdue for. Joey was barred from touching the Hammerheads, not just because they were out of Anie's hands but also because Colonel Segovia had ordered them to be taken to Atsugi Air Base for an AI test.

That left Armored Convoy, who had not taken any damage during the slaughter and was up to date on all his maintenance. Anie decided to have Shiori help her load ordnance onto the Lancers in the hangar instead, per Major Wylder's orders. They had recieved an order from the base commander to keep their machines armed up and the Major was just relaying those orders.

----------------------------------------------------------------

"I've lost track of how long I've been out here. Ran out of MREs a while back." Hayden said into his phone, using a recorder app. "Except for one vegetarian omelete MRE. I'm not even going to use it for bait." The sniper sat in a tree, overlooking the houses across the river from his position. Sturm was dug in under camo netting, sniper howitzer folded up. Hayden and Sturm had moved a few times since they had been dropped off, checking in regularly. Hayden's monologuing was merely for dramatic, personal effect.

"I've had to resort to breaking and entering to replenish my stocks. Had I been at the deer lease and on my own then I would have begun eating small animals to sustain myself however that is not a possibility here. A fire could compromise my position and I don't much feel like trying to make squirrel jerky without the proper fixings." Hayden stayed in his perch, watching the goings on. He had been wearing the same, woodlands pattern BDUs since he had been dropped off and no doubt could kill with his aroma. Had he been back in Dallas then he would have been able to blend in with the local homeless population, left alone and overlooked by all.

"On a personal note, I probably shouldn't have read 'Without Remorse' before coming out here. It's been giving me ideas of what to do when I go on leave, nearly all of them ending with random people winding up in body bags and Dallas' finest scratching their heads." Hayden watched a woman sweeping her patio, adjusting the focus on the big eyes. "Were it not for regular check ins I would almost feel that I've been forgotten. Still, I have to keep my spirits up."

"I left a little something in Mr. Ise's mailbox. That's probably not his name, but I had to label him somehow." Hayden said as he shifted his focus again, watching a house down the street as a man came out. He opened his mailbox and jumped, screaming as hundreds of spiders came forth from the mailbox. "Just like clockwork. Wish I had found a tarantula, though. Woulda been funnier." Hayden paused as his watch chirped.

"It's time for me to check in. I will resume my personal overwatch at a later time. Sergeant Arcturus out." he said, turning the recorder app off then climbing down the tree to return to his Lancer. The sniper popped the hatch and slid into his machine, turning his radio on to check in with Hunter Base, leaving out his prank in his report.

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Summary

-A lone figure awaits a pickup.
-She is garnering many odd looks.
-Major Wylder and First Sergeant/Agent MacIntyre go pick up a last minute addition to the platoon.
-"Huge tracks of land" indeed.
-Mac apparently doesn't like spiders. Or spider bots for that matter.
-Second stop: pickup Ei.
-Leave is over.
-Quick trip back to base. Ei wants to touch them.
-The ears, that is.
-Missed Morning colors. What a shame.
-Quick trip for a shave and a trim.
-Meandering with no destination.
-A wild Stryker ICV appears!
-Back to the barracks. It's an early Christmas.
-The presence of a Wii is terrifying to the platoon.
-Platoon Muster
-Coed berthing but separate showers.
-First uniform infraction.
-Shiori goes off on her own.
-First search for the kemonomimi.
-Unauthorized maintenance.
-Fur and machine grease do not mix.
-Coveralls aren't supposed to be flattering.
-Second uniform infraction.
-Shiori showers, Ei sleeps.
-Second meandering. Suddenly, dozer malfunction!
-Shiori is really stronk. She is also hopelessly lost.
-Turned around the right way.
-Ei wakes up. Second search for the kemonomimi.
-Broken noses and Ukrainian bears. Easy fix.
-1SGT Khukov has joined the search.
-Call of the search. Kemonomimi at the uniform shop.
-Return to barracks to end the day.
-Morning PT, chow, and colors.
-Mech Killers go to train in the Killhouse, Armored Infantry do workups, Cav Scouts do whatever it is Cav Scouts do.
-Anie isn't happy about the unauthorized maintenance. Still thinks it was a bang up job.
-Neural Handshake test. Joint damage is apparent.
-D4N1 makes a friend in Joey.

-Meanwhile, near the Kobashi River...
-Hayden has lost track of time.
-Out of MREs, the sniper has started stealing food to sustain himself.
-Evil prank involving spiders.
-Time to check in.
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Hyuuint

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 am

Post Fri May 13, 2016 11:14 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

It IS Rocket Science
Timestamp: Some Time After "Unexpected Interruptions", After the initial Attacks
Location: Skorpion's Lab
Authors: Hyuuint, Skorpynekomimi, O-Ring
Characters: Skorpion, Brittaney, Not-Doctor

---

Skorpion frowned at the rocket engine in front of him. "This could be more efficient, but I can't see how. Dammit, I'm no scientist; I just build stuff. Tiffaney might know, but she's a biologist and not a nuclear physicist..." He trailed off, as something occurred to him. "That Brittaney might know. Let's see, backtrack her IP, find the proxies, and here we are."

---

Skorpion waited and paced as the phone rang. After a few, the line clicked, though there was a small stretch of silence.

"Greetings, Skorpion. What project are you needing assistance with?" There was that slightly cold voice again, just as he heard weeks ago through his tablet.

"Nuclear thermal rocketry." Skorpion answered. "Namely, improving the efficiency of such an engine."

"Range of target location."

"Asteroid belt. I need more DeltaV out of the tank, for a faster transfer. Do you have any experience with pebble-bed Thorium reactors?"

"I do hope you are joking. That sort of reactor would cause a great deal of stress and damage to the infrastructure of any ship, especially those made for interstellar travel of that distance. Radiation alone would kill anyone on board in a matter of days, insulation be damned, and would likely take out half of Tokyo and any surrounding bodies of water to begin with." Skorpion finally heard a bit of emotion with all that, if that of exasperation.

"Shielding is covered just fine. I'm using the reactor to run a forcefield, and I'm having it released over the ocean before igniting the main engine anyway. The problem is that the system needs to be more efficient."

"Hm. I will be the judge of that. You have my IP, hence the call, so if you would simply forward me the blueprints." There's her usual tone of voice again.

Scientists. "Fine. Check your desktop." Skorpion said, as something pinged behind her. "Just dropped them in a folder."

"Good. Now let us see what...this..." She trailed off, the line once again going silent for a few seconds. "This is your blueprint? You have the- and the circuitry- why is there-" She cut herself off again, and Skorpion heard some very furious typing and clicking in the background, and some moments of her muttering to herself.

"The blueprints and a partial prototype were originally stolen from the Yakuza, who got it from who knows where. I've improved and finished it since." Skorpion explained. "Note the switch to Thorium to keep the UN off my ass, at the expense of efficiency, and the improved aerodynamics."

"It is" She hesistated. "Better. I can see what it was. But this." There was a ping on Skorpion's computer now. "That should be better. And that was delivered by your AI this time, so no worries about the integrity of your firewall."

"Hm." Skorpion peered at the files for a little while. "Okay, I think I can get this installed by the new launch window."

"What materials are you using? What is the condition of the ship in its current state? Who are the passengers and what are their weights?"

"Titanium/aluminium alloys for the structure, carbon fiber everywhere I can, and ceramics for the fuel lines to avoid hydrogen embrittlement. It's 90% finished currently, and sat in a hangar waiting for the final engine install and flight tests. Passengers are a pair of teenagers, exact weights undetermined because one of them won't stop moving. I'm probably going to have to restrain her to get her fitted for a pressure suit."

"Teenagers. Hm. If I had to make my guess you are going to send Devin, the smartest in your area that matches the age group you mention, and Whisp, who refuses to be anywhere but his side, likely as a result of her digital ancestry."

"Correct. Devin's the only one qualified to pilot it and operate the cargo being retrieved other than me, and he's far lighter and far less crucial to operations here. Whisp isn't officially on the list, but it's impossible to try and keep her out of wherever she wants to go." He sighed. "I'm heavily editing the on-board library to keep them entertained and prevent the ship coming back with more passengers than it left with."

"You may or may not need to do so, but understandable. Hm." Brittany's side was silent again, as though she was contemplating the blueprints she just drew up for Skorpion.

"I don't like the sound of that silence. Did I miss something in the design?"

"Who is working with you on this project?"

"Nobody. Tiffaney's a biologist and not a nuclear physicist, and there's nobody else I trust to get it right." He sighed. "It was just a pet project until the mission came up, now it's a little more urgent."

"I see." There was a click, and the line went dead.

Skorpion shrugged, cutting his end of the connection and heading over to inspect the engine in question. As he opened the door, however, he noticed (and nearly walked into) someone in front of him. He recoiled, reaching into his coat for a gun to point at them. "Who..." He paused, eyeing them carefully before putting the gun away. "Brittaney?"

Standing at the door was a woman about five feet seven inches, long dirty-blonde hair that was partially knit into a ponytail at the back of her head, a lab coat and turtleneck not unlike what Tiffaney usually wore, high heels, a mid-thigh skirt, and an overall attractive figure. But the most striking thing about her was her eyes. Silver, bright metalic silver, with a constant glitter effect on her irises, as the billions of little nanites went about their job. "It is nice to meet you as well, Skorpion. And that is Brittany, minus the e. Many people say it wrong."

"Sorry; I'm too used to Tiffaney with her E. Also, don't sneak up on people like that, especially around here. Largoists are twitchy, and you might end up getting shot." He paused. "Of course, you may get shot just being in HQ, but that's not really anything personal. Some people insist on carrying around weapons that go through the walls like butter."

"It was a calulated risk. I may not be able to heal near as quick as my sister, but thanks to the gift I was given 20 years ago, I am still a sizeable Tier 7 healer." She looked around the room, then back to Skorpion. "The engine is in another room, is it not?"

"Yes." Skorpion stepped out past Brittany (with no E), leading the way to another room where the engine sat, surrounded by a wall of lead shields, with a geiger counter clicking away merrily just outside them. "Here we go. Running away happily on idle, producing power instead of thrust." He gestured to the cable running out of the shielding, which trailed off into another room. "Tri-modal nuclear thermal rocket; oxygen injection for higher thrust in atmosphere, and run as a regular reactor for power while coasting between burns. The radiation is part of the whole affair, hence the forcefield shielding."

"And it is already leaking heavily, it appears. Hm. You would be better off with a different powersource, both for your facilities and your rocket itself. As it stands, it would not have near enough power to get to the moon, much less the time machine that crash landed on the asteroid belt. Further, the radiation is likely to mess with several of the facility's worker's own personal productivity capabilities."

Brittany pulled up a small tablet that she had under her right arm, and started typing out. Skorpion saw that as she did so, the panels actually lifted off the screen in a holographic projection that reacted to her fingers, almost as though they were made of "hard light". A few typings and swipes that were blazing fast, Brittany held up the tablet for Skorpion to look at a different power source, and a slightly modified engine to make it work.

"It is close to the coldfusion capabilities, but modified so that the energy output is nearly double that of the input. Its been in a protoypical stage for a while now, but without a suitable place to test out what we have, there was little capability to properly run the device. With your permission, we can have that transported here, get it installed, and possibly save Devin and Whisp the pains of infertility. As well as prevent a drastically reduced lifespan that would likely mess with the timeline you are trying to fix." She pulled up the engine as well. "What you have now would need slight modifications here here and here." She pointed to each spot as she spoke. "That way the parts can handle the output, vent as necessary, and otherwise make sure the craft does not have any form of trouble outside of the unforeseen."

Once Skorpion got a good look, Brittany pulled the tablet away, her fingers working furiously fast once more as the blueprints to the engine, rocket, and other devices whirled away.

Skorpion raised an eyebrow. "That'd work fine as an additional power source, and produce enough heat to dispense with some of the fuel..." He grabbed a nearby tablet, starting to sketch on it rapidly. "And there'd be less bulk than thermonuclear fusion due to lower heat levels..." The modified design started to take shape in front of him as a hologram, soon resembling the original engine but with some additions. Brittany's fusion unit ended up in the back of the engine, providing additional heat to propellant as it entered the rocket nozzle, while a smaller reactor, freed from electrical power generation, was able to provide the initial heat and propulsion more efficiently. "This SHOULD provide enough fuel for the return trip just on the internal tankage. That'll let me reduce the ice mining and processing gear and save more mass, since it's just needed to extract the time machine and provide a safety net..." He paused, looking up at Brittany. "So. How do YOU know about that time machine?"

Brittany considered Skorpion for a moment, then held her tablet so he could see it well, flat in her right hand. "A few months ago, while we were were doing our standard temporal safeguard watch, we noticed a massive spike in said energies. Twice, actually. The first ended here in Tokyo with the second following shortly after. We have so many different travelers, and there was no permanent effect on the timestream at the time, so we decided to let the course of things happen. While I was doing my due dilligence with the records of the school that Shiori works at, so I do not worry about the integrity of my technology sent there being compromised, I happened upon two anomalies. Elsie, and Tali."

She typed, and said records floated up to be viewed. "While on the surface they looked reasonable, they ended up with a few holes that could only be explained by the sudden 'appearance' of their existence, and considering Tali was brought in a short while after Elsie, the conclusion was made that they were the ones to have traveled."

"Damn." Skorpion remarked. "I'll have to correct that. Lucius never was good at the whole paperwork thing, so it's a wonder you even had any records to look at."

Brittany pulled up another screen, this time displaying the time machine as it rested in the planetoid that it had ended up in. "At the same time, we have been quite aware of the machine's existence, as well as the travels it made with a certain immortal cat-person. Given that it was in the asteroid belt, we decided we would simply keep an eye on it. It is currently the only known machine to be able to traverse the wires of time and not turn its occupants into plasmatic goo."

She swiped the tablet, and pulled up the record photos of Elsie and Tali. "I was bored one day, and decided to look into the future-history of the girls, starting with facial recognition. Through that, I found out their parents easily enough." Brittany touched the pad, and four more photos appeared. Lucius and Arella connected to Elsie, Skorpion and Tiffaney to Tali. "Figuring that you were going to need to get them back to their timeframe, and that the machine was as far out as it is, I knew it was a matter of time before one of you would start working on your means of transportation to the belt. I also calculated that you would need help, so I had my own means of transport waiting as well."

"Interesting. I figured someone would be keeping an eye on this time-travel nonsense, but I more expected Jean Claude Van Damme rather than you."

"It was not I who looked into the anomalies at first, but I was brought in later through concidental circumstances. Shiori happens to work in the school they ended up in, they just happened to be the daughters of four beings that our group have been keeping an eye on, Lucius especially with his connections to the machine that we have already been keeping watch on. A strange loop, but one that brings us to the present nonetheless." Brittany exposited, as she set her tablet back to where she was working on the rocket model.

"So, you're NOT here to crack down on paradoxes and time loops of varying stability?" Skorpion asked, warily.

"No. I am here to help you gain a means to retrieve the machine." She typed some more. "Which leads me to this: The group as a whole is willing to offer their services, as they are able, including myself and the power source we discussed earlier. However, we would require one week after the retrieval to study the device, before handing it back to you and your future daughter and granddaughter to return home."

"They go first; it's set to send them without sending itself, as evidenced by the fact that it's been stashed in a warehouse for years before they get it. Also, have YOU tried saying no to Elsie?" Skorpion pulled up a picture on his tablet of Elsie giving the full big-eyed pouting wibble.

"I am well aware of her wibble power." She pulled up yet another screen, showing a mathematical chart of 'wibble' power. With Elsie blowing the curve almost entirely. "The only thing stronger than her are a basket of crying kittens. And there would have to be a lot of them."

"They're still going first; you might break it. Also, it's worse if you're related to her, trust me."

Brittany breathed in a bit, and continued. "It is not that I do not want them to go to their home time, far from it. I am simply trying to prevent one of the paradoxes you were worried about." Another few more swipes, and a video appeared before Skorpion. Brittany's face was on the screen, though she looked slightly older, maybe a year at best.

"Greetings. This is a message to my past self and Skorpion. One week after you recieve this, you two will be involved in a collaborative project to, at first, retrieve the time machine lodged into one of the planetoids that comprise the asteroid belt of our star system. Over time, other circumstance will arise, and the two of you will continue to collaborate further in other endeavors. However, you must not send the girls home until one week, precisely, after the retrieval of the machine. By the laws of time, I am unable to explain why, save for the vague warning: The machine must be kept away from them, and him, until the problem has been resolved. There will be catastrophic consequences otherwise. As for you, Skorpion, I have no doubt that you will simply dismiss this communication as simply a ruse. To prove otherwise..." She trailed off, stepped out of her chair, and someone else took her place while Future-Brittany remained in the background.

Skorpion stepped into shot, looking much the same as he did in the past. Present. Whatever. "Skorpion. I am you. Or, rather, you are me. Ignore the pronouns, okay? Anyway. Do NOT send them right away. No, not even to spite me. Just don't. Wait a week and let her study with it. How are you meant to know it's me, or you, you, or I, ask? Simple. She said not to fondle her tail."

Skorpion (the past/present one) frowned. "Nope, I'm doing it anyway. Screw you. Me. Whatever. There's a maniac around that'll try and hurt them."

"I don't care." Said the Skorpion on the video. "He's irrelevant, and so's your petty obstinance. Also, STOP CAUSING PARADOXES. You'll thank yourself for that later."

Brittany on the screen said aloud "Transmission end." and the screen went black. Brittany of the present turned off the video and went back to her blueprints, continuing to fiddle with them while waiting for Skorpion's response.

"Nope, still sending them early. Adventures build character."

"I am certain you will keep that mindset until the time has come. We shall see. At any rate." She tapped her tablet into Skorpion's own holo-projectors, and showed off yet another version of the ship. 'I decided to keep a three-passenger limit in mind, so that if you decide to send an AI on them to keep tabs on their 'activities', you would be able to. Further, if you decide not to do so, the extra weight capacity could be useful for extra provisions or other material deemed fit. Now that the group is involved, you would have access to much better materials, craftsmanship, and production overall for the rocket. With this in mind, and our need to get things crafted and tested, we should be ready in a matter of months if we are lucky, year or so if not. Is this acceptable?"

"You can't get better craftsmanship and production." Skorpion replied, grinning proudly. "Unless you have a technomancer on hand, at least. I USED to, but I think the demons ate him or something; he vanished sometime between the backup I took and when I woke up after being dead. My factory is fully robotic, after all. As for materials, possibly. I can always use more high-grade titanium, especially since my last load of it is STILL at the bottom of the sea. Damn pirates."

"Ah, yes, I had forgotten about your factories. As for the people to be involved." Brittany brought up one more screen, with a list of people who have by now volunteered their services, and their credentials. They range from the standard scientist to meta to even a few awakened AI. "And as for the materials." Yet another screen; this one was likely far more interesting, showing off bits, alloys, and other materials that Skorpion had not even seen before. "I believe this will be a fine substitute for the titanium."

"I'll take the entire pile, if you're offering." Skorpion responded, staring entranced into the screen and maybe even drooling a little. "I'm making myself a new cannon with the leftovers. Maybe a super-strong engine block."

"That can be discussed after the project is completed, and after you and Tiffaney accept your invitations." Brittany noted, having gone back to her blueprints. "Where is the craft, currently?"

"Follow the cable." Skorpion replied, leading the way around the walls of shielding as he did so. After a short walk, he grinned proudly as he gestured to a stubby-winged spaceplane sitting on spindly-looking landing gear, with the cable from the engine running into the gaping hole in the rear. It was surrounded by warning signs and drones of various kinds attending to it.

"Very much in the prototypical stages. Hm. Well, we will have plenty of time for improvements." Brittany typed furiously again, before she paused, and turned her head over towards Skorpion, considering him.

"Prototype? That's pretty much finished. Just a few more tests before I mate it to the dummy engine and begin flight tests." Skorpion explained, meeting her gaze quizically.

"My apologies. I just now realized that some of what I have been saying has been insulting in some measure. I have been doing my best to work on that, and I am used to my significant other hovering about to remind me." Brittany cleared her throat, and gestured back to the rocket. "This is towards the idea that you are wanting to go for, but I recommend keeping this as a secondary. A new one ought to be built from the ground up, for redundancy and potential future use. At the very least, we could do the improvements and modifications to this one as well, to prevent problems, and to make the new power sources and enhanced engine fit properly."

"We don't have time for a new build. Even with the change of transfer window, we still need to launch in the next few weeks. I can make modifications to the second model that's already in production, but we risk missing the window entirely or skipping important tests to make it if something goes wrong with this one." Skorpion sighed. "Fortunately, flight tests are mostly a formality; wind tunnel tests, and mockup flight-tests have been done extensively, so we really just need to certify it for self-powered flight."

"Hm. That does speed things up considerably." More typing. "How would you feel about those people coming in and out, via the method I used, to get this project completed, to the new specifications made? I understand your need for security, and they will honor it as well. Time is of the essence."

"What, with a teleporter? I'll cordon off an area for them to use to avoid telefrags, and any aircraft need to follow the air traffic control absolutely." Skorpion pointed upwards. "There's a bunch of major airports around as well as our airfield, and they don't tend to like anyone making their own flightpath, or even perfectly normal maneuvers for anyone not obsessed with safety and lawfulness."

"Precisely. A cordoned off area would be for the best, so that they can come and go as needed. Considering the sheer amount of materials needed, as well as their own schedules, the teleporter would be best, so as to remove the need for rest areas as well." A few swipes were made on her pad. "They can begin work immediately, with the AI forces agreeing to work around the clock provided they are given access to a charging station in the meantime."

"No shortage of power; we're on geothermal here. Authorities wouldn't let me set up reactors when I built the place, so I resorted to the next best thing and used the one we're standing on." Skorpion grinned. "Otherwise, we have quarters to spare if they need it. We're still a little understaffed after the demon invasion, and I apparently built up a lot of excess capacity before it." He shrugged, before tapping his head with a finger. "Death sort of destroys your memory of events, you see."

"I do. My sister went through that as well. It was a very troubling time." She typed some more, trying to not to react too much to the memory. "Very well, we have your permission to begin? Where will the cordoned area be?"

Skorpion looked around, scratching his chin thoughtfully. "I'll move a few planes around and give you the next hangar over. I'll turn over, say, 10% of manufacturing capacity for you to use, as well. That should be plenty, and it lets me continue running a business in the meantime. After all, there IS a maniac super-soldier trying to kill me and everyone I care about. Did I tell you about that, by the way? Because there's a maniac super-soldier trying to kill me and everyone I care about, apparently hunts super-soldiers, and can shove a blade through two feet of advanced armour with another super-soldier in the middle just to stab the person behind them."

"We are aware." Was all she had to say on the matter. "We can use our own facilities, seeing as some of these materials are not available for the public as of yet. How long till the area will be cleared?"

"Give it a day or so." Skorpion pulled up a camera feed, showing a vast hangar area containing a few jumbo jets with various Soviet fighters clustered around them. "I've got to find room for all of those elsewhere."

"In that case, may I continue to use the room I used to enter? That way some of the AI begin their work with what is here." Brittany had a few photos pop up of the ones she was talking about.

"No, because that's my workshop. You can have the office next door. Just mind the desk; I happen to like it and don't want you teleporting chunks of it accidentally."

More furious typing, with the addendum. "Done. They will be here and begin work within the hour."

"Excellent. Maybe we can get the girls home before Arella makes herself sick with worry." Skorpion gave a soft, concerned sigh. "I don't doubt she'll still do that in 20 years time."

"Very likely. Many of my sisters have the same nervous reactions they did when they were children as they do now. For example, Shiori has always turned beet red when put on the spot." Brittany noted. Meanwhile, there was some clanking from the office. In a few seconds, several bots of shapes and sizes, all of them mostly humanoid, filed out of the room and towards the engine and rocket locations. "They arrived early. Good. We can get started sooner. The other scientists will come and go as they are able."

"I had noticed Shiori doing that. It's kind of cute, really..." Skorpion replied, turning his attention to the robots. "Wait, is that one hovering? Antigravity? How did you get around the twinkie problem?"

Brittany simply typed on her tablet, and held it up for Skorpion to read. "You may look but not utilize. The technology is still in the approval process."

"Ah, HFCS." Skorpion nodded with understanding. "That must be the active ingredient the system was using. I'm sure I have a few barrels of it to use for testing SOMEwhere." He poked at the tablet a few times. "I can probably substitute cane sugar at some point; easier to grow on the farms I'm operating."

"Less efficient, but yes." Brittany typed some more. "And you're right about Shiori. The process is indeed adorable. In fact." She pulled up a screen with tons of stats on her busty sister. From the looks of the file, Brittany has this on all of her sisters. "As far as I can tell, everything about her, from personality to physical make-up, is built upon the idea of motherly care and comfort." Brittany pointed to a few things. "What initially comes off as unusually attractive or attention grabbing eventually turns out to be, as stated, comforting. Also part of the reason why she ends up being hypnotic."

"That would explain why she's so good with the magical girls." Skorpion mused.

"Among other people. I give her a year, barring an incident that would affect her memory, and she will be very infused into the various families of the area. Yours, Tiffaney's, Lucius and Arella's, and others." She swiped, then put the tablet away. "But we are not here to talk about that. Further." She walked over to a nearby chair and sat, legs crossed at the ankles. "We also need to discuss this supersoldier hunter."

"Okay. He's another survivor of the Advanced Land Warrior program. Last I saw him, he was dead; no activity of any sort. He's obviously upgraded himself since then, along with getting hold of some seriously advanced equipment. He's insane, he doesn't seem to be limiting himself to avoid damage, and did I mention he's insane?" Skorpion sighed as he settled into a nearby chair, which was visibly reinforced to take the weight. "He stabbed my daughter to send a message, and then defeated and blew up a good friend of mine when he went to avenge her honour. He's been working with SHIELD, and probably knows everything they know as well as details of all the various super-soldier projects worldwide."

"Hm. Dead you say." Brittany readjusted herself, gave an annoyed look off to the side, then returned her gaze to Skorpion. "In the brief instances of his appearance, did his actions and personality sync up at all with the person that you knew before, if you can remember?"

Skorpion shrugged. "I don't remember a lot from before I died the first time, but I remember he always was an asshole. This is a whole new low for him, though."

"A jerk, but not a sociopathic murderer." Brittany noted. Her face grew grim for a moment, then pulled up that tablet once more, looking through the files she has on the Advanced Land Warrior program, namely on how they were enhanced.

"Not a sociopathic murderer, no. His idea of a prank was machine-gunning a village full of civillians, or pushing unaugmented soldiers out of the aicraft on takeoff. Also, your notes are incomplete unless Tiffaney's given you a copy of hers." Skorpion pointed out.

"We have acquired extensive notes on all former projects, including the Land Warriors. Hm." She looked hard. "At least for the side of the enhancements and abilities. Persons involved are still inconclusive." A moment's worth of thought crossed her face, then Brittany looked up. "It is not the original personality." She said blandly to Skorpion.

"Well, no. You wake up as someone else when you've been properly dead. That's how your notes are incomplete; I've BEEN there." Skorpion explained. "You end up as a sort of gestalt if you overwrite an existing one, as well; that's what I had to do with the scared and confused reactions after my death and regeneration. They're still in the wetware somewhere, refusing to acknowledge my claim on this body."

"Possibly." Brittany typed some more, setting the tablet aside after a few moments. "I will be looking into this." She looked back up to Skorpion. "Be honest. How much danger is my sister in?"

"Moderate. She'll regenerate almost anything he can do, but he will find a way. However, he seems to have gone quiet. Possibly building a force to oppose mine. And I am working on a way to take him down. He won't survive attacking Arella, or me." Skorpion then grinned, holding his hands out sideways, palms upwards. "And besides; I'm the prince of Sealand. I've taken on SHIELD and won. I built this place from a ruined corporate HQ, and built MY headquarters from the ground up. And down, for that matter. I own and run a multinational business, and I'm running a humanitarian operation that the UN could only dream of, and still running the business alongside it. He doesn't stand a chance."

"Hm." Brittany tapped her leg. I can think of at least two dozen ways that this threat could definitely 'stand a chance'. But the most likely is him...hm. I will have to keep an eye on them. No need to tell Skorpion yet, he may react in a manner that would cause more problems. "Very well. At any rate, I am willing to help out, if just because my sister would be involved." Brittany gave a very uncharacteristic smile. "Shiori is the only one of us that has been blatantly obvious of what she is. Even Tasha has been keen to keep her identity secret and separate. And thanks to my diligence on keeping their info as off the grid as I can manage, save for Shiori of course, it is highly unlikely that he even knows of our unnamed project. A nice side effect of how the people involved decided to keep things filed."

"You're doubting me, aren't you. I can see it on your face." Skorpion raised an eyebrow at Brittany.

"I have no doubts that you can hold your own, but I have already come up with at least two dozen ways to get around your empire, based upon what I know." More speedy typing on her part, and she held it over for him to read.

Skorpion's other eyebrow raised to match the first. "You ARE doubting me." He pointed at Brittany, grinning. "Doubter!"

"Maybe a little. A side effect of being pragmatic with a brain that has been modified." She waved to the tablet, wanting him to read through.

Skorpion rolled his eyes as he took the tablet. No fun, this one. No sense of humour. "Yeah, those idiots are starting to become a threat. The Yakuza are right out; I've been weakening them for months now, and they just can't replace people that fast. North Korea can't even feed it's own people, let alone a land warrior, and those guys are just a rock band, not a cult, despite the makeup and the army of followers."

"Tap the joining link I put next to that note."

Skorpion did so, frowning. "That guy's been dead for decades. I killed HIM back in the eighties. He just got replaced by a lookalike so nobody noticed."

"So you think." She let him finish reading, then took back her tablet and put it in one of her pockets. "Again, we get distracted. The rocket will be completed on schedule, with the modifcations you and I have devised, and we should be in good order to send Devin, Whisp, and possibly a chaperone with them into space. Elsie and Tali would be sent home, you and Tiff, as well as Arella and Lucius, can focus on making sure they exist in the first place, and everyone involved can help destroy this new threat before he causes too much harm." She sighed. "In the mean time, I suspect you and I will be seeing a lot more of each other."

"Quite probably. Try not to blow the place up." Skorpion smiled, before getting up and heading for the door. Just before leaving, he paused and pointed to Brittany again. "Doubter."

"Part of my job." She blandly responded. Skorpion could swear he just saw the barest hint of a smirk, just for a moment.

As Skorpion walked off down the corridor, he could hear her giving orders to the AIs in clipped tones. "No, really, don't blow the place up."

---

Brittany was typing away on her tablet once more. She paused, imperceptibly, then continued to type away, before saying aloud: "Is there a reason you are standing so close to me? I know many forms of defense to make you go away, and my significant other knows more."

"Sorry... That's a, uh. Force of habit." Said the man Elsie would call the Doctor before taking three steps back. "Is the-" He paused for a nervous chuckle before continuing. "Ship coming along well, Brit?" He asked, adopting Shiori's manner of addressing her.

"Who are you, how did you get in here, and do not call me Brit. It is Brittany." She turned to him and regarded the lanky man with a cold, calculating eye.

The man responded to the cold look with a friendly smile. "Just flew by and thought I'd ask what's up?" He said, staying true to his oddball method of approach. "I'm, uhhh. Zeit... I guess." He shrugged.

"Hm. I do not have you on my records for volunteer personel, and I do not recall a Zeit on Skorpion's workers manuscripts." She put her tablet aside, with the air of the gentleman about to be thrown out the building. Literally.

"Oh. I don't work for Skorp. Or, uh. You-" He chuckled again. "Either." He continued, before realizing how sketchy that sounded. "Not that I'm particularly dangerous our anything." He had to clarify.

"That is a bad answer, and appearances are decieving." She was getting closer. Brittany may not have ended up as strong as her sisters, but she can still knock folks out with a mean right hook. Or left. She was ambidextrous like that.

"Uhh." Zeit said, taking a few steps back. "You're really not the type to, um. Get violent... Normally." He said, holding his hands up in mock surrender.

"With the problems that have been happening in this city, one must be more careful. If you have some means of placating me before I throw you out the nearest window, now would be the time to produce it." She was less than a foot away, and in spite of her demeanor, obviously giving him one last chance.

"Uhhhh. Elsie calls me Doctor?" Zeit tried, grasping at the only straw that he felt he had at the time.

That earned him a pause. And not much else.

Zeit paused as well before letting out a sigh. " I'm helping Tali and Elsie, though I'm not from their native timeline." He said with composure that broke character. "They're distorting your timeline and we can't fully piece together the sequence of events though our readings are detecting a eighty percent probability of you being wounded by something in the near future. I'm here to prevent that." He said, fixing his posture to appear less oddballish. "And contrary to procedure I have no intent of erasing them."

The superscientist regarded Zeit for a few seconds, drinking in what he was saying, and watching his body language. Brittany crossed her arms, and spoke: "If I were to say that time is a river..."

"Then I would respond that I have a boat and am heading for the falls." Zeit responded, as though this wasn't quite the first time he had to do that.

Brittany regarded him for a moment more, then backed off. "Next time you are a part of the time force that I eventually become a part of, simply show me your ID. I nearly threw you out the building with more force than I care to use, if I can help it." She turned and walked away, scooping up her tablet and typing furiously.

Zeit let out a sigh of relief. "Try is the key word you forgot there." He said before adjusting his glasses. "And I'm not gonna show you my ID. You normally figure things out well enough on your own."

"A risky move, but your well being is your own. Now, seeing as you have answered who you are, and why you are here, the question becomes what do you plan to do. Obviously I have things underway, and while I am certain I can keep our conversation going while continuing to work, you will find it rather disconcerting that I will not be giving you my full attention. Which I can tell you crave from every being you come in contact with, Not-Doctor."

"Ouch, and I'm not the Doctor. What else am I going to do? Rules and regulations aren't quite in line with my approach, and it's not like anyone usually remembers me anyway."

"That is why I said Not-Doctor." She hrmed a bit to herself. "My apologies for offending you, but I really do need to get back to work. So if you would be so kind as to get to the meat of the matter?"

"Already did. Now I'm just waiting." Zeit said with a sigh, sitting on the floor. "I Shoulda just used the passphrase to start. This is too much work."

"Indeed." And with that, she went back to work. She didn't dismiss him, but neither did she pay much attention.

Zeit was quiet, only the sound of the occasional breath making it known that he was still there. This was his element, a time of doing absolutely nothing, and it wasn't even slacking!

This reprieve of his was short lived however as within a minute a violent rumbling sound emitted from the vent before a vent gnome erupted from it towards Brittany. "FLEEEEESH!" It screamed out during it's lunge.

Brittany didn't even look at the thing when she back handed it out of the air. "I will need to talk to Skorpion about his Gnome Infestation."

The gnome hit the ground and tumbled before lunging at Brittany again only to be completely erased by a beam of light before it could so much as leave the ground. "Well, that was underwhelming, and I can't help but feel as though I've wasted both of our time on something like this... Sorry." Zeit apologized.

"Hardly wasted. I now have further confirmation that outside forces are working to fix the timeline as well." She noted curtly.

"Well. At least there's that." Zeit said with a shrug, vanishing without any indications.

"Hm. A curious being." Is all she said, before returning her attention to the tablet once more.

---

- Skorpion needs help.
- Time to cash in that offer.
- Shocker, Brittany saw it coming. Somehow.
- Skorpion puts everything on the table.
- Brittany nearly knocks everything off.
- Ship and engine talk! Finally, Skorpion gets to talk real shop with someone in a long time.
- Brittany figures out where, how, and why they are going. And who.
- Skorpion basically admits he needs physical help. To which Brittany simply hangs up.
- Turns out she can teleport
- And like she told you, it's Brittany minus the 'e'. She can tell.
- Engine and Rocket are shown off. Brittany is almost impressed, but still wants to make a newer, better one.
- AI and People volunteers from all over!
- AI first. They don't need much more than power and a place to charge.
- Skorpion hopes she doesn't blow things up. Brittany does not make him feel better.
- The Not-Doctor shows up, and acts like his usual charming self!
- And nearly gets thrown through a wall because of it.
- After a few failed attempts, he mentions Elsie and her situation.
- He passes with a remembered part of a code phrase that the two use in the future. As given to her by her future self, just not who the recipient is.
- Brittany admonishes him for not simply showing a badge.
-The Not-Doctor hangs around a bit, then gets depressed that Brittany isn't reacting like she will in the future.
- GNOME ATTACKS!
- GNOME FAILS!
- GNOME OBLITERATED FROM EXISTANCE.
- Brittany is one stuffy, work-focused scientist.

---

Some time later Tiffaney was walking down the hall with a cup of coffee, and fully invested in reading a romance novel that caught her eye at a book store not far from base.

Brittany, equally invested in the third tablet of hers that week (the other two died from overuse, even after special making ones for her needs) passed her by with a small, "Morning Tiffaney."

"Morning Brittany." Tiffaney replied with a polite bow of her head.

The fellow superscientist kept right on moving, still trying to get things working right.

"Wait, what?" Tiffaney realized turning to look at Brittany who had already turned a corner. "... Oh. Next time."

---END POST---
<<

DarkTan

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Posts: 100

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Post Mon May 16, 2016 11:38 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Shipwrecked!
Location: Two hundred yards from port, Aogoshima, Tokyo, Japan
Characters: Ahab, the crew, Machariah.
Authors: DT, Skorp.
Timestamp: After 'Ambushtation'. 1300 Hours.


---

"One eighty and closing!" Krystal lowered the range finder and turned to her Captian.

"Ah-head one third, steady on course," came Ahab gravely reply.

"Ahead one third, steady on course, aye sir!" shouted Steve, the navigational officer.

"Let's try a shot, eh?" Ahab grinned rather disturbingly.

Krystal raised her ranger finder once more, "Target are one six zero sir. Five knots in the wind."

"Dilleverrrry seven!" Barked the captain.

"We have a shooting solution," Krystal informed Ahab.

"Farr one!" Ahab shouted as he took a mighty swing with a seven iron, striking a golf ball sitting on a patch of AstroTurf that was duct-taped to the deck of his Typhoon-class submarine. "Arrh! Git up thar ye miserable little puke!"

"<Ow! Son of a bitch!>" An MTPD officer working the docks frantically looked landward for the source of the pain his cranium was experencing.

Krystal let out a low whistle of approval, "That was a fine shot sir."

"Well, why do we pull in so you can out out?" Sauske, Ahab's dive officer and current caddy suggested to the laughter of the currently assembled crew members.

"Krystal, assemble the crew and go ashore, Ah'm gonna check in with Skorp an' DT," Ahab said as he put his golf club away and relieved Sauske of the golf bag.

"And after that?" The wolfgirl asked with a wink.

"Ah'll be sure to come ashore an' join ye,' Ahab replied with a grin, earning more than a few whoops and hollers from the crew and a bit of blush to the first mate's cheeks.

Ahab turned and climbed down in to the sub. He sat down and picked up the radio and keyed up the mic. "Arrh, answer ye damn phone," Ahab said by way of greeting.

Ahab, ORAZ is currently empty and under total lock down, Hel responded over the radio. The AI brought the captain up to speed concerning the raid on ORAZ and attack on Arella. DarkTan's whereabouts currently unknown, Hel continued, Lola is probably the best one to contact. She may still be with the FGTL.

"Well, Ah guess Ole Skorp is my next call, thank ye lassie," Ahab changed frequencies and keyed up, "Arrh, ye Largoist bastards! Pick up ye damn phone!"

"Avast!" Skorpion answered. "What be yer boggle thar, cap'n?"

Ahab audibly rolled his eyes, "Ah 'ear ye've gont yerselves a right proper shitstorm a brewin," the captain replied, "Checkin' in from Aogoshima. Wot's the situation back 'ome?"

"The cops be hittin' the railroad hard, cap'n." Skorpion replied. "Supply lines cannae take it much longer, an' there's a madman on the loose attackin' me people." He sighed, dropping the pirate accent. "The bastard took Johnathan's arm off, he turns invisible, he stabbed Arella, blew up Lucius, stabbed Tali and made Elsie cry. He's gunning for me, and he's probably going to come after you to get at my supply lines."

"E made the cute ones cry?? Ahab demanded, "An' stabbed th' other cute one? Bastard."

"Aye, that he be. And that be why I'm going tae kill him." Skorpion replied.

There was an explosion from behind Ahab, followed by the sound of pouring water. "Well, it seems Ah've a stoway on me boat," The captain stood up slowly, "Ah'll have t' call ye back Skorp."

"He's fast and stealthy; watch out." Skorpion cautioned before the line went dead.

Behind Ahab, there was silence and stillness, other than the water and steam pouring from the pipes lining the walls. This was broken by a second explosion, this one on the boat taking the crew to shore. Water plumed around it before the boat started to break apart; spilling people and sailors into the water.

Ahab jumped out onto the deck of the sub and glared over the surface of the water, the boat was nearly to the dock and some of the crew could be seen surfacing and making thier way to it. Others, however, could not. The captain scowled, turning slowly around and scanning the deck. "Ah know yer on me boat," he growled, "Tis me boat af'er all."

"Leased." Came a deep, raspy voice over the PA system, made slightly tinny by the speakers.

""Ah'm the cap'n. Tis mah boat," Ahab argued, "Semantics be damned!"

"Lease registered to Prince Skorpion of Sealand." The voice clarified. "One 'Captain' Ahab registered as acting captain of vessel. Vessel previously spotted transporting goods for the Followers of Great Teacher Largo, before the acquisition of Sealand. Previously captain of the OCS STFU, abandoned ship due to sinking." There was a long pause. "Subject allegedly present at many historical naval battles, decorated for services in the Battle of the Atlantic and Battle of Midway."

"So, yer one of those," Ahab mused, "Tryin' t' be intimidatin' by listin' information tha' only a select few could possibly know."

"Boxer briefs. Colour undetermined due to age and lack of washing; suspected originally white with pirate theme pattern."

"Well, so farr so good," Ahab muttered and rolled his eyes.

"Multiple historical charges of violent piracy. Wanted in many countries, England in particular. Bounties for live capture exceed cost of a small war. Also wanted by Hellsing organisation for research purposes, and due to association with known dhampirs."

"Most of those bounties arre older 'an you arre," Ahab replied, "An' Ah told Integra Ah'd be happy to oblige 'er if'n she'd send Seras to pick me up."

There was a small explosion from aft, followed by a series of clanging noises before the hatch above Ahab's head slammed shut, locking itself. "Suspected immortal of previous generation, lacking kinesis powers. Prior association with current patriarch of Ogilvy clan, dating back to 1942. Combat prowess too high to engage with current levels of equipment. Ability to breathe water suspected negligible. Amended status of current vessel: Sinking, presumed unintentional. Suspected reactor critical and containment incident."

"So, let me get this all straight," Ahab asked the recently closed hatch, "Knowing Ah'm an immortal pirate, ye decided t' blow up me crew and sink me ship?"

"Boat." The voice corrected. "A submarine is a boat, no matter how many swimming pools it contains." Another explosion, this one closer, and the submarine shifted.

"Ye know, thar's one parrt ye left out 'bout me," Ahab mused, "It's kind o' important too."

"You're actually a mermaid with prosthetic legs?"

"After all of that, ye really don't know why Ah can't die yet?"

"It matters not. You are trapped inside a sinking submarine with a leaking reactor." There was another, larger explosion, accompanied by rushing water.

Ahab stopped. He was in the upper area of the cargo hold, which was rapidly filling with water. The captain sifted through a crate marked "Katrina's New Toys" and pulled out a prototype anti tank gun he'd picked up cheap. The dhampir was looking for designs to inspire a dildo firing sniper rifle and this particular weapons ammunition seemed quite suited to the task: A rocket propelled, depleted uranium spear that worked essentially like a self sharpening drill bit. Too bad there was only one round and the rifle would soon be at the bottom of the ocean. "It actually matters quite a bit laddy," Ahab chuckled, shouldering the weapon and firing in to the ceiling. If his estimate was right, the round would be appearing right between his assailant's boots.

Machariah sidestepped the warhead as it penetrated the deck, moving effortlessly. "More holes will not save you." He stated, dropping a grenade through the hole as the metal streak left through it.

Ahab just laughed, "Ah live for revenge lad," the pirate laughed louder as the grenade went off, causing a fresh rush of water. "Ah'll be seein' ye soon!" Ahab's maniacal laughter only increased as the vessel listed to one side and the deck began to rapidly vanish under the water.

"You must not be competent to have survived so long without it." Machariah stated, walking down the length of the boat towards the cargo crane hanging above it. He reached into his cloak and produced a grappling hook, slinging it over the crane's hook. "Greet the sharks warmly."

The only reply was a blast of water out of the hole Ahab had made as the cargo hold filled with ocean water. The submarine swiftly slipped into the depths, much to the horrified looks of the crew stranded on the shore.

Machariah reeled the line in as the sub sank, another explosion from further back causing the water to bubble and boil as the reactor's containment was breached. As he reached the crane and climbed atop it, he vanished from sight.

---

Ahab was displeased. This may be an understatement. Not only had his favorite ship been sunk by the Japanse Defense Force, his first sub was just sunk by some Wikipedia sounding, bomb hiding, sub sinking, self-entitled little twat. The captain needed some rum. Sadly, it was now part of the ocean as the first explosion had torn through the crew's stash. That was really gonna piss them off.

I'll bet that asshole even bent my seven iron, Ahab mused to himself, his inner monologue sounding decidedly different that his external one, When I get my hands around that pencil neck of his...mmm, there will be monster ballads written about it. The captain was busily making his way through the ruined and sinking boat. He could tell he was close to the bottom. Didn't have much time before she went nose first and closed the torpedo tubes.

*CLONG*

The submarine came to a halt with the sound of the nose impacting the ocean floor. So much for that idea, Ahab thought to himself, Well, I guess I better make myself comfortable. The captain of the former sub began to leaf through some laminated hentai mags that were drifting through the seawater, That doesn't seem sanitary...


  Code:
Summary

Enemy in sight, target closing.
Shooting solution is had.
Fire!
Direct hit.
Shore leave

Checking in with the base.
We're sorry, all your base are belong to the MTPD
Calling Skorp for updates.

Explosioning
Most of the crew is OK
Speak of the devil.
Recitation time.
Someone finally wised up to picking fight properly.
And cheats.

More explosioning.
a bit of Ahab's history revealed.
He literally lives for this shit.
Parting shots, both literal and figurative.
The sub sinks
Macarena departs.

Ahab amuses himself after escape route is cutoff.

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.
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