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The Storm Is Set To Rise

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ArsenalXA4

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Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2014 9:09 pm

Post Tue May 17, 2016 11:34 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Title: Confrontations Part One
Timestamp: A few days after "Back In the Saddle", and continuing for a few days from there.
Authors: Arsenal, Hyuuint, with special appearance by Skorp
Location: Yokota Air Base, Atsugi Air Force Base
Characters: Ei, Shiori, various NPCs and robots.

---

An old hand was held out to Ei, weary and powerful.

"In light of all that has happened, and who it has affected, I dare say you are faced wtih a choice. Do you accept, young man?"

Ei's eyes hardened, looking downcast as he contemplated. Would he dare take this next step....

---

"You've got a team coming to recover you. Watch for them, do not engage." the operator at Hunter Base said to Hayden. The sniper was polishing off a sandwich made from pilfered provisions.

"Not Army, I take it. Who then?"

"We called in a favor from Sealand. That means we owe them. They've been asked to drop you off walking distance from Yokota Air Base. You'll then proceed under your own power to 28th AI's hangar." Hayden furrowed his brow.

"Who's '28th AI?'" he asked. The Major had declined to keep him in the loop.

"Your platoon's been renamed 28th Armored Infantry platoon. Duty Station is Fort Bliss, Texas. We've dispatched movers to your home off base to-"

"No." Hayden said, cutting the operator off.

"Excuse me?"

"Nothing good comes out of West Texas. You hold your movers back until I get to call my wife." Hayden said, irritated. "I'm going to move them to DFW. I've got family up there."

"We'll talk to Mr. Clancy about that."

"You do that. At least Sakura knows a few people in Dallas. Anything else I should know?"

"Negative. Just wait for pick up. We're sending one of our Black Choppers for CAS just in case. Should be on station in ten minutes."

"Fulton Recovery if something goes bad?"

"Correct. Sturm would be on his own, temporarily."

"Yes, leave the thirty eight ton ninja to his own devices in a foreign land. It will not be like Khyber Pass all over again." Sturm chimed in. "I'd like to get out of here. I'm overdue for an overhaul."

"Duly noted. Hunter base out." Hayden reached over and flipped the switch to turn his comms off, clasping his fingers together.

"You're scheming, aren't you?" Sturm asked.

"Yeah. Remember that time I dug a Burmese tiger pit on the Land Nav course?"

"You almost got Admin Sep'd for it. Do not do it again." Sturm cautioned. Hayden grinned.

"It's too tempting. Too very tempting. I'm gonna do it..." Hayden said, getting out of his seat and popping his hatch.

"This is why we can't have nice things..." Sturm mused as Hayden plucked his e-tool from a stowage bin.

---

"Lads, this is super important. If the Americans have crashed somethin', we want it. And we've gotta get it afore they do. The crash site's over yonder hill, in forest, so watch out." There was a general chorus of approval, and the convoy rolled on; one large truck hauling a pair of stacked trailers, a smaller truck with a crane and a cargo bed, a couple of SUVs as escort, a handful of motorcyclists, and a pair of drones orbiting overhead and keeping watch.

---

Hayden looked on his work, proud of himself. A few pits dug here and there, camouflaged and covered, trip wires strung up over this trail and the other, and a beehive strategically hung up in as obvious a place as possible, if only to hide the real obstacle laid out.

"Sturm, activate your cloak and relocate, but be quiet about it." Hayden said into his radio. "I'm going scouting."

"Jawhol... I take no responsibility for what happens..." Sturm replied, fading from sight then slowly trudged to a new location.

---

"Sir! We found something! Scans are picking up something large and metallic in the forest, and significant ground disruption!"

"Sounds enough like a crash site. Send a pair of scouts in; we need to know what it IS before we pick it up. In the meantime, unship the trailers and form a perimeter."

"Aye, sir!"

---

The scouts zipped off into the forest on dirtbikes. They moved through the forest as if it was nothing, at least until one stopped, pointing to the beehive. "<Dare you to knock that thing down.>"

"<You're on.>"

The beehive was duly knocked from it's perch with a high five, and the triumphant scout landed. Unfortunately for him, he landed on a thin covering of dirt and leaves over a pit, designed to give way under the weight of a man. He passed through it as if it wasn't there, still managing to stick the landing at the bottom. "<Dude. I'm stuck.>"

"<Total bummer.>" Remarked the other scout as he sailed over the pit, turning a graceful mid-air backflip as he did so. "<Next time, check for yourURK!>"

"<My 'urk'? Dude, what's an 'urk'?>"

The second scout waved his arms wildly, legs caught in separate snares, his screams of terror getting higher and higher by the second.

"Two down... Proceeding to next waypoint..." Hayden whispered to himself as he stayed in cover, stealthing to the next position. Maybe he should have put spiders in one of the pits. No, they would have left on their own. It would have been a waste, unlike with Mr. Ise's mailbox.

"Scouts are down, sir. Alive, but one apparently wishes he wasn't."

There was a long-suffering sigh. "Idiots. Do the drones pick up anything else?"

"Not as yet, sir. Should we proceed?"

"We can't risk not getting that wreck. Proceed slowly, avoiding where the scouts fell. Scan with the drones, so we don't get bogged down, and find a path for the truck."

"Aye, sir!"

The convoy moved onwards slowly, a few vehicles picking their way through the undergrowth between the trees, searching for a path. After a short while there was a creaking noise, followed by a log swinging down and knocking the lead vehicle over. The gunner was flung screaming from his perch into a snare trap, which flung him up and over before slam-dunking him into a pit trap.

---

"Convoy stalled... Moving to next waypoint..." Hayden said, observing the convoy from a tree. He climbed down and continued to stealth to position.

---

The vehicle was righted, the gunner retrieved from the hole with the truck-mounted crane, and the convoy set off again, somewhat more carefully. After pits (driven around), logfall traps (cleared with chainsaws), pits (bridged with logs from the fall trap), more snares (SAR called for the biker flung screaming over the treetops), pits (filled in by the 'just in case' dozer blade), beehives in catapults (defeated by closing all the hatches and hiding until they lost interest), and pit traps with spikes in (avoided, only to sink into soft ground which had to be chewed through with the help of winches), the convoy paused in the clearing created by the trees they'd accidentally torn down with the winching.

---

"Contacts nearly on top of Sturm now... Will wait for them to dismount. Might be a few good additions to Mother Base..." Hayden mused, watching the convoy pass through. Sturm's optocam was still active. "Moving to final waypoint."

---

"Sir, we've found something on the scans! It... It doesn't look all that wrecked..."

The officer looked over, his fox ears twitching curiously. "Interesting. That looks kind of like the mech Alexis acquired a while back. Is it moving? Is it active? Can we steal it?"

"Some heat emissions, sir; suspect active but stationary. It feels like a trap, sir."

"The logs, pits, and snares didn't?"

"Uh, no sir. Those used to be fairly common in the city, back when Saeko was still around."

"We're all thankful she's not. We can't pass up the opportunity to capture one of those, however, so we proceed with caution. Any remaining scouts?"

"The first two have caught up, sir."

"Send them out on foot to observe. We don't have the firepower to take it down, so if it's hostile, we retreat. If it's as damaged as intel suggested, then we capture it."

---

"I remember you two..." Hayden said, observing the scouts from earlier. He keyed his radio. "Sturm, still got smoke?"

"No, because you swapped it all out for CS gas before we left." the AI replied.

"Oh yeah... Hold on to it for now. I'm going in." Hayden said, turning his radio off. He packed the binoculars into a pouch on his vest and slinked out of his hide. Two scouts and one sniper watching them. Exactly how many Fulton balloons did he have again? He couldn't remember.

---

"Sir, it's not moving, but I think it's watching us."

"Maybe we can turn the traps against it. You shoot at it, I'll lure it into the soft mud."

"I'm not shooting at something that heavily armed. Wait." The scout stepped out into Sturm's clearing, waving his arms.

---

Hayden duck walked behind the two men, Sig P-226 in hand. They were looking directly at Sturm, in spite of the optocam. Maybe they had a drone with them. The RAM may have degraded since they landed. Hayden rose behind one of the men and clubbed him in the back of the head, taking him out of the picture then rapidly grabbing the other, throwing his arm around his neck then jamming his pistol into his head.

"Talk..."

The scout struggled, reaching up to the arm around his neck. "Urg... Th... The perfect way to make Mac 'n Cheese is to empty out the powdered shit in the box and just dump a block of cheddar in there instead!"

"I think my kids would love that." Hayden said, holstering his sidearm. He took his knife out and pressed it against the man's neck. "Keep going... I'm not done interrogating you."

"If... If you strike me down, I will become more powerful than you can possibly imagine!"

"So you're a Jedi now... Keep talking..."

"Are... Are you a ninja? Oh my god, a real ninja!"

"Sorry, not a ninja, just good at what I do. Keep talking."

"M-more than one waifu will ruin your laifu..."

"I'd have to take that up with the Missus. She may not agree with you. Hang on a sec." Hayden dragged the man over to the first scout, who was stirring. He delivered a swift kick to the head to keep him down. "Alright, let's hear some more."

"There are... Four lights!"

"Alright, now you're startin' to bore me. Say goodnight, Gracie."

"G-goodnight, gracie..." Hayden started to rapidly press the action button, strangling the man until a ring of stars appeared above his head. He dropped him then crouched over him.

"Let's see what you've got..." he mused, patting the man several times. Random ammo mags and ration packs came off him, two stars disappearing. "I don't have weapons for those, but it doesn't mean I can't procure them elsewhere." Hayden took a Fulton Recovery pack from his inventory and attached it to the first scout, stepping back as the ballloon inflated then took him airborne. He repeated the process with the other, turning his radio on.

"Got two for recovery." he said, as the scouts were hoisted upwards, screaming.

---

"We see 'em, let's go!" CW01 Chauncy Maximum replied, giving his Black Chopper power. The modified Pave Low accelerated toward the balloons, the crew chief extending the recovery boom. They hooked both in one pass.

"Tagged and bagged! Wait... I don't recognize those patches..." the crew chief observed as both men were reeled into the aircraft. "Who the hell are these guys?"

The first scout looked blearily up at the crew chief. "What, are you fucking retarded or something? I'm the goddamn Batman!"

The second scout smacked the first upside the head with a sigh. "We're soldiers of the Principality of Sealand. I'm Corporal Jenkins, 5243107412." The crew chief face palmed.

"We gotta let them go..." he said, reversing the reel on the recovery boom and drawing his pistol. "The balloon's self sealing but it won't keep you aloft." Two shots and the scouts began descending.

"The hell happened?" Chauncy asked from his seat.

"Hayden's fucking with us... He's fucking with all of us... AND with a national power..."

"I'm not writing up that report."

---

"Sir! Scouts just got yanked skywards, unidentified hostile in the area! Do I have permission to fire?"

"Non-lethal only; that's an American soldier. Probably that mech's pilot. Killing him could cause a war, and if we capture him alive the boss can trade him back for our boys and some more stuff."

"Roger, sir. Firing net gun."

The net was contained in a small rocket, the casing shedding as it flew to reveal a set of prongs. The prongs were then flung outwards by aerodynamics, closing on Hayden and then around him.

"Target hit, sir! Proceeding with beanbag rounds from the GMG!" There was a distant explosion as the initial grenade was fired off somewhere, before the beanbags were walked up to the netted Hayden, striking him with not inconsiderable force.

"Kinky..." Hayden mused as a beanbag struck him. "...should tell the waifu... to keep those Pen-Prevent I got... for the '870..."

"Should I step in?" Sturm whispered. Hayden rolled over, trying to work his knife on the net.

"Let them... get close... They're our ride out, remember..."

"Ja..."

"Target down, sir. The mech's still not moving."

"Good. Capture both of them, strap them down to the trailers.

"Aye, sir!"

---

A short while later, Sturm and Hayden were back on the road, both strapped to trailers and escorted by the remaining Largoist force. Hayden lay in place, Judas Priest's 'Pain and Pleasure' playing in his head.

Zip ties, zip ties, such fun to play with. he thought, shifting his weight. He was going by feel, something he was used to. Where was it... I know it's...

"...right there..." he said, smiling as he produced a Zippo lighter. He opened and lit it, letting it burn for a a while before putting it out. He held the eyelet to the plastic of the ziptie, pushing the heated element through until he burned his wrist. More shifting brought his hands forward, still bound by the net. He repeated the same thing with the net until he was partially out, free enough that he could undo the lockstrap holding him to the pallet then freed his ankles.

"I'm going to have to tell the Missus about the net thing. She's gonna love it." he said to himself as he walked along the trailer, leaping over onto the one Sturm was secured to,. He checked the chains locking the heavy biped in place.

"He's up and moving!" One of the bike escorts shouted, pulling a shotgun from it's scabbard alongside the bike's fuel tank. He racked the action on the wing mirror before firing a tazer round at Sturn. "Engaging nonlethally, make sure nobody squashes him if he falls." Hayden faltered but kept climbing on Sturm. His target wasn't the cockpit but the stowage bins on the left side of the core. He accessed it and pulled a boxy looking weapon, training it on one of the chains keeping the Lancer's left arm down.

"Sturm, time to wake up!" he shouted as the weapon let off a series of beeps, followed by a thunder crack. The eye hook on the trailer deck was superheated, not to the point of destruction but just enough that Sturm could pull a chain free, allowing his arm up to train the Battle Rifle in that hand.

"It's loose! Repeat, the mech is loose and active!"

The truck's brakes slammed on sharply with a hiss of air pressure and a thunderous racket from the engine brake. The trailers shuddered, the rearmost bouncing around due to lack of weight. "Does anyone have anti-armour weapons? if so, prepare to use them if it acts hostile. Repeat, only if it's hostile!" Sturm sat up, Hayden accessing the dirt bike stowed on his powerpack. The Lancer fired on the eye hook by his left ankle, swinging himself off the trailer and leaving Hayden dangling.

"Give me a break, will you!" Hayden shouted, undoing the last strap, the bike falling to the trailer.

"Can't accomodate. In contact." Sturm replied before lighting off his smoke grenade launchers. Eight CS tear gas rounds flew into an arc, spreading the irritant around the mecha and the trailer, Hayden taking the brunt as he started the dirt bike.

The truck accelerated again, trailers jerking taut as it pulled away from the gas cloud. The escorts scattered, hiding away from Sturm's line of fire apart from one; a modified snowmobile with a pillion passenger aiming a large ATGM launcher. "I have a shot. Preparing to take it if it fires on us."

Sturm didn't fire, instead he fired off his boosters, 'bouncing' over two miles away. Hayden burst out of the gas cloud, going in the opposite direction. No sooner had Sturm landed than he repeated the maneuver, bypassing streets and buildings, and stomping someone's car in the process (don't worry, they're in good hands with All State).

"Mech has escaped! Escorts in pursuit of the pilot; we have a tracker on him. The mech can go fuck itself, we're not equipped to stop anything that size."

The escorts in question peeled off to chase after Hayden, soon joined by a few Largoist vehicles from nearby and the SAR chopper.

"I must be really popular!" Hayden thought aloud as he heard helos joining the chase. He had no way to contact Blackout (the Black Chopper assigned for Fulton recoveries), nor did he have a way to contact Sturm. All he could do was weave through traffic, alleyways, and buildings, breaking numerous laws in the pursuit of freedom. His best bet was to get in range of Yokota Air Base.

The Largoists kept up the pursuit; their orders to capture Hayden non-lethally preventing them from simply shooting the bike out from under him. The chase was long and dogged, featuring many spectacular leaps from ramps and rooftops, near misses with heavy traffic, three exploded fruit carts, and much quoting of Mad Max. In the end, the pursuing Largoists peeled off as Hayden approached the airbase, leaving him with a parting gift of a spray of automatic paintball fire to the back. Hayden grimaced, skidding to a halt at one of the gates, MPs and dismounted mechanized infantry rushing out.

"Top, it's Sarn't Arcturus!" Specialist Switalski said, standing over the sniper.

"What in the hell happened out there? No, on second thought, I don't want to know." Topper said, safing his weapon. The MPs on post did the same.

"That was fun..." Hayden mused as he rose, pulling his BDU jacket off and looking at the paint splotches on it. "Can't say I blame them for that 'gift.'" The Mech Killers from 28th AI and the MPs just looked at the sniper.

"Sarn't... you smell like a riot..." Switalski said, holding his nose and backing away. Hayden raised his arm and sniffed.

"It's only capsaicin." he said. Hayden got back on the bike and made his way to the barracks. More than a few people gave him wide berth when he entered, the smell of BO and tear gas heavy on his person. While he was in the shower Specialist Pyle poked his head in to inform him that the Major wanted to see him, ten minutes ago. Hayden cut his shower short, the smell of tear gas still on his person as he slipped into a fresh pair of ACUs. He had found a little bug on his BDUs when he tossed them into his laundry bag. The sniper kept the bug with him as he got back on the dirt bike, driving to the flightline. Once there he slapped the tracker on the side of a waiting C-130 on his way to the hangar. Sturm was already being stripped for maintenance.

One of the privates nearby noticed Hayden. He whispered with an urgent tone "Oh, crap, sir, don't! Don't go in there! That new lady they brought in is about to rip steel in half she's so pissed! If she finds out it was you who-"

"First, it's not 'sir', it's 'Sergeant.'" Hayden said, hand up. "I work for a living. Does this look like I've got a commission?" Hayden pointed at the Sergeant's chevrons on his uniform. "Second, who's pissed? I know damn well I haven't pissed any lady off. Haven't had a chance to."

"Sorry, Sergeant, but yes, you have! Quick before she sees you, ru-"

"YOU!" That was a new voice to Hayden, and it was NOT a happy one.

"Shit!" Hayden took his maroon beret off, tucking it under his arm.

"Hey, hey, hey, no need to get so worked up." he said, trying to turn on the charm. "What could possibly be so bad that I'm in your crosshairs worse than Army Special Forces in Governor Abbott's sights during Jade Helm?"

"HE'S WHY!" Shiori pointed out to poor Sturm, who was acting as though he was caught for something too. "He was trying to play it off, trying to say he wasn't as bad as I thought, but I KNEW the moment I got a look, hell the moment I got a SNIFF of him, that something was wrong, and what the ever loving crap!" Shiori was almost in soldier mode she was so pissed. "Rust everywhere there shouldn't be, wires that looked like they had been cut for months, rotators shot, two axles on the verge of collapse, almost all of his digits worked to the rebar, and that's just the cursory review! And what's worse is that almost all of this is simple maintenence, or keeping him out of the goddamn rain every so often! I don't care how fricken waterproof they claim to make them, they still leak in places! And then the cockpit! I get it, you sit in there, but you don't LIVE in there! Total pigsty!" Shiori went off on a tangent at this point, pointing out every single thing that was pretty much to the breaking point. She conceded a few times about them being in a hard spot, but when she found the tools necessary to actually fix some of these problems completely untouched, that's when she really went livid. ".....And if I ever, EVER see your partner in such a state again, especially a partner that is supposed to be your utmost backup in a time when you and he could be blown to smithereens, I swear, I'll tape you to his core and let him bounce test till Anie feels he should stop!" Hayden had lit up a cigar in the time it took her to list everything she found and was puffing on it when she finished, despite posted warnings.

"If anyone's to blame, it's the Major." Hayden said, taking a drag on the vanilla cigar. "He's the one that had me deploy without an overhaul, I might add. Then again we didn't have access to the parts we needed."

"Everything that I'm going to be working on is basic maintenance that anyone with any semblence of knowledge about these guys can do. Simple cleaning. THAT is what makes me even more pissed off." She finished. Shiori wasn't yelling any more, but her voice was still dangerous.

"Listen. I was on an op in a sniper perch. Maintenance was at the bottom of my priority list." he said, stubbing his cigar out on his boot sole. He furrowed his brow looking at her. "I didn't know there was a furry convention in town. The ears are kinda cute, though."

That did it. Shiori's left eye twitching in sheer anger, she nabbed the idiot sniper by the waist, lifted him clear over her head like he was nothing, and hauled him back out towards the hangar door.

"Hey, lemme call the waifu! She might like this!" he said, enjoying himself somewhat.

Shiori ignored him, and threw him bodily out of the hangar. She wasn't aiming to hurt (too much anyways), but to make it known he wasn't welcome around her or the hangar for quite some time. "AND STAY OUT! UNTIL I GET STURM BACK TO WORKING ORDER!" And with that, she slammed the hangar doors shut.

"Specialist Doe, exactly what were you doing?" Major Wylder asked, standing in the middle of the hangar. Ei had gone to get him when Hayden started antagonizing her.

"Just dealing with a jerk who doesn't know how to take care of his friends and guardians. Excuse me please." She stomped off past them, focusing solely on Sturm and his many broken bits. She snagged a welder's torch and mask, rather tellingly did not remove her fatigues, and got to work on him in silence.

"I needed to speak with 'that jerk,' Specialist." Jenks said, walking to the door controls and opening the hangar. Hayden was standing outside, hands behind his back in parade rest.

"Major..."

"Sarn't... Exactly what did you do?" Jenks asked.

"Nothing I can think of. But apparently I did everything." Hayden replied. Jenks looked at Shiori then back at Hayden. "Why exactly are you standing at parade rest?"

"Oh, no reason..." Hayden said, bringing a hand up, a pair of women's underwear hanging by his index finger. They were black silk, very nice looking, and if they had been on the body of the person they were supposed to be, extremely flattering. "These aren't mine, by the way."

Shiori took a moment to give that jerk a glare, when she saw...no, wait, that can't be. She patted herself, and when she realized it WAS, she went positively scarlet in embarrassment and rage. Ei, by contrast, had a nosebleed that floored him. Jenks took his glasses off and rubbed his temples.

"Sarn't... give those back... and go to my office..." the Major said, trying to maintain his composure. Hayden walked past the Major, sketching a half assed salute. He dropped the panties atop Ei's chest as he went to the Major's ad hoc office.

To her credit, Shiori kept her cool as best as she could, and simply redoubled her efforts to make Sturm so immaculate that he would think he got reincarnated. If an AI could be reincarnated. The Major joined Hayden in his office, taking a seat and opening a desk drawer. He set an empty bottle of Jameson on the desktop.

"I would have dealt with things my normal way, however I cannot find my seventh spare bottle." he said ,clasping his fingers together. "I must also add that your near incident earlier would have been an absolute pain to deal with, diplomatically."

"Hey, I got here, didn't I?"

"Was it part of your plan to get captured?"

"That was Plan A. What I wasn't counting on was the net launcher and the beanbag gun." Hayden admitted.

"And yet, here you are. I get it, you're an escape artist, but don't you think one of these days you're going to run out of luck?"

"Sir, I make my own luck." Hayden countered. Jenks sighed and opened up a file, setting it on the desktop.

"Do you know what that is?" he asked.

"Is it an Article 15?" An Article 15 in the Uniform Code of Military Justice is considered nonjudicial punishment. It permits an officer to resolve an allegation of minor misconduct against a soldier without resorting to higher forms of discipline, such as a court-martial. The decision to impose an Article 15 is the commander's call to make.

"It's your record, Sarn't." Jenks replied, fingers still clasped. "Tell me, exactly how long have you been a Sergeant First Class? Yeah, you get a little extra pay per year for time in rate, however..." Jenks paused to adjust his seat.

"However, stagnation at a paygrade usually results in eventual separation." Hayden went rigid at that fact. "You know Sergeant Major Mackall has put in a request to transfer out. He's not to particular to all the 'black ops bullshit' we've been subject to."

"That means First Sergeant Khukov is next in line for the role of Command First Sergeant. He's also up for promotion to Sergeant Major."

"You're giving me an ultimatum?" Hayden asked.

"Make rank, Sarn't, or there isn't anything I can do to keep you in this Army. Is that clear?"

"Yessir..." Hayden replied, no longer his usually jovial self.

"Dimissed... Oh, send Specialist Doe in on your way out." Jenks said. Hayden turned to leave, stopping at the door.

"Your seventh bottle is in the right side stowage bin on Sturm's core. Sir..." he said before leaving. On his way out he shouted up to Shiori. "Hey, Hotlips! The Major wants to see you."

It took a few moments to get Shiori to pry herself way from Sturm, but after she made absolutely sure that Joey and the multitude of techs to replace her knew what they were doing, she made her way into the Major's office. "Major."

"Article 91 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice: Any warrant officer or enlisted who strikes a warrant officer, noncommissioned officer, or petty officer, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct." he said, very matter of factly. "I understand you're not really military, however there are rules and regulations to be followed, if only to keep up appearances."

She didn't say or do much at that, save for fighting the urge to twiddle her fingers. Her face betrayed how she felt, if just slightly.

"The Sarn't can get under anyone's skin, very easily, I might add. He is a competent soldier, however, and one of the best snipers I've had the chance to see in action." he mused, adjusting his glasses.

"I, uh, if I may, si-, er, Major?"

"Speak, please." he said, giving her the floor.

She did twiddle this time, if just because she was trying to find the right words. "It wasn't....it wasn't cause he slurred or got under my skin, though that was admittedly what pushed me over the edge."

"Then what was it?" Jenks asked.

"It..." She paused, then steeled herself up. "It was his attitude about Sturm and his well being. Even before he basically blew me off, I could tell that he wasn't giving his partner the respect he deserves. There is ALWAYS time to do maintenance, especially on a machine like them. If you can clean your gun, you can clean his. If you can fix your boot, you can repair a strut." She glowered a bit, aiming her gaze at the floor. "And he had plenty of time to do it. Nothing on Sturm had been touched, even if just to get things patched up." Her gaze back at Jenks now. "Not just a machine, but an AI, a person. A....a partner. And if your partner goes down, you would too. That's what got me so upset."

"I'm going to explain something to you, Shiori. Sometimes we're lucky to get the level of maintenance that we're supposed to get. Other times we have to field expedite repairs." he started. "The problem with Sarn't Arcturus is that he was on an overwatch for the last few weeks. This was before we had a chance to have anything short of a rush job done to Sturm. Adding external magazines and a dirt bike rack took precedent, due to the mission he was given."

"I shudder to think what issues you may find with my Lancer, Armored Convoy, however we are a combat unit. We wear ourselves and our machines down doing our job, which is to fight." Jenks paused to take a sip of water. "If you think it looks bad now, you would have had a coronary during the Troop Surge in '07."

"I will concede to what you see in the AIs, however. They are sometimes all we have." he finished.

"Thanks..." She fidgeted again. "Sorry..."

"Just remember what I said and don't let the Sarn't get to you. Dismissed." Jenks said.

She gave a nod, waited for dismissal, and when it came, she hightailed it back to Sturm to make sure he got the attentions he deserved.

It wasn't till three a.m. the next morning when she finally finished and felt he was complete.

---

Six hours later...

"Dani, you give me back Joey! Right now!"

"Nope. He is my little spider mech masseuse, and there is nothing you people can say or do to change it."

"I don't mind him hanging around, but I need to get to a meeting with some higher ups, and they demanded to see him too! Now come on!"

"Hmmmmmm." Dani posed in a mock-thoughtful manner. "Nope! Still mine!"

This is likely the weirdest thing the techs had ever seen. Dani, an antagonistic, older model mech, arguing with super-soldier (not that many knew that) and sweethearted Shiori. And way up in Dani's cockpit was the subject of their argument: A small, mechanical spidermech, looking around, waving hi to all the people below, and blissfully unaware of the disscussion going on outside.

"Dani, it'll only be for an hour at most. At least it's what they said. By which time I can see if they will grant approval for him staying put and helping you out. But until then, he's under orders to join us."

"And yet, I'd rather keep him here to either work on my servos some more, or just let him have fun riding around in the cockpit. So, no, your side loses, end of line." And with that, Dani turned around and "sat", for a lack of a better term.

Up in the cockpit, Joey chittered around. "Oh, nothing important my little Joey. Just having a talk with that top-heavy creator of yours. We'll be doing more of those bounce tests you like soon enough." Dani replied over her intercom.

In the meantime, Shiori threw her hands up in frustration. "Urghh. Anie, Ei, help me out here? You two know her better than I do."

Ei and Anie couldn't help but chuckle to themselves. They may not have known her long, but they had yet to see Shiori so miffed. Well, except yesterday when Sturm had ended up with far more internal damage than he had claimed, and Shiori worked clear through this morning to get him back to like-new capacity. Voluntarily, mind. As a matter of fact, in the last couple days, Shiori and Joey's combined efforts have pretty much repaired every single mech that they had authorization to touch. Every one of them got a boost in their capabilities in some capacity to boot.

"Shiori, Dani's got her mind made up. You'd be better off draining the sea." Ei said.

"The Soviet Union drained the Aral Sea, so maybe it's not so impossible." Anie replied.

"You know what I mean..."

"Joey is mine now. He belongs to me..." Dani said, looking over her shoulder strut. "End of line..."

"Dani, he's not a pet. I may have made him, but I don't OWN him. He's a real thinker, proper AI and all that." Shiori sighed a bit. "Just one meeting, Dani, and he comes back. I promise." Dani mulled it over before turning to face Shiori.

"I demand tribute..." she said, leaning in close to her.

"What the hell? This isn't the Hunger Games..." Ei mused.

"I think she means tribute as in something to make Shiori dependent on her. Not sure how the hell that'll work..." Anie replied.

"Uhh, what do you have in mind?" Shiori asked back, the hesitancy in her voice not reflected in her stance. The AI weapon leaned in until the front of her core was in Shiori's face. Joey waved harder in the cockpit, practically bouncing in the seat.

"I demand... a shrubbery..." she finally said. All activity within the hangar stopped, technicians and SDI security personnel alike stopping and staring at Dani.

"When the hell did we walk into Monty Python and the Holy Grail?" Anie asked. Ei, in comparison, couldn't even right now.

"Ooookay. I have no idea what you want with one, but....ok. What species?" Shiori responded, the reference completely lost on her.

"Hang on, I didn't think that far ahead..." Dani admitted. Ei still couldn't even. "I guess a little one, to put out front."

"Small shrubbery. Got it." The snow leopard kemonomimi gave a decisive nod. "I will bring one back when I return with Joey."

"Ugh... Fine..." Dani stood upright and popped her hatch. "Joey, sweetie... you gotta go with the fleshbag that created you..." Joey gave a confused chitter, but crawled out anyways, giving Dani the mechanical equivalent of a hug on the way down.

"I never once thought I'd see a combat mecha get attached to a smaller mecha." Anie said, watching the whole exchange. Ei was still beside himself, not sure what to think.

"Thanks, Dani. We'll be back as soon as we can." Joey clambered up Shiori, settling on a shoulder and arm. Shiori turned to Ei with her signature grin. "No need to keep her waiting. Shall we?"

"Yeah... Colonel Segovia isn't someone you want to make wait." he replied, Anie walking with them. The SDI Black Hawk was parked on the tarmac, four armed soldiers standing around it. Their look was generally military, however the demeanor felt more like Private Military Corporation. For all intents and purposes, SDI was a government entity. Like the Army Corps of Engineers they had military leadership and civilian employees. Junior and senior NCOs among the organization were part of the planning teams, the Warfare Development Group. The shooters test the equipment in controlled environments Stateside and in combat zones alongside regular military units. This gave them input from the front on what works, what needs improvement, and what should be taken back to the drawing board. Sometimes they get their hands dirty, engaging hostile elements often with horrific results for the aggressors. Such was the case for a large Taliban force during a recent Hammerheads and Archer deployment to Afghanistan. The attacking force thought it had enough weapons and personnel to overtake the Americans. The reverse became true when they learned the hard way that the usual twenty minute wait for air support did not apply.

[Steam]Hammerhead acted as a Forward Observer, directing the Archers on Close Air Support with [Sledge]Hammerhead calling in bombardments from the Archers deployed as howitzers. In all they killed over a hundred Taliban and proved themselves in a life engagement, further ensuring Colonel Segovia's funding for the AI Weapons Development Team.

"Been a long while since I've been in a Hawk." Shiori noted aloud. Joey, however, looked extremely anxious. He was eyeing the blades, the motors, the whole vehicle. He'd never flown in his life, and the only times he got any airtime were in Dani's cockpit, safe and sound. This thing looked like it would drop any second.

"Welome aboard this SDI Black Hawk, callsign Uber Hawk FIve-Two." the pilot began as he and his copilot began their preflight checks. "As per FAA regulations this is a non-smoking Black Hawk." EI, Anie, and Shiori strapped into their seats as the four men who stood guard entered the aircraft.Two went for the door guns the other two sitting in the passnger bay.

"For those of you who are part of our Frequent Flier program you'll be earning twenty points today." Anie leaned over toward EI.

"Seems we're not the only ones who quote Black Hawk Down." she joked, the helo rising off the tarmac. The helo turned toward Atsugi AIr Base. Already two oft the Archer Lancers were airborne, meeting the Black Hawk to escort them in. "Heeee lookit the Archers! I love how they take off! Landing is always a little tricky, but the takeoff is almost always flawless." Shiori's glittering smile disappeared as she peered harder at one of the two. "Though the right one should have his aft actuator looked at. Very slight wobble."

The craft had barely left the ground when Joey started to shake just a little. He slid off his creator's shoulder, got between her and Ei, and balled himself up as much as he could. It was very apparent that he was not fond of flying. Shiori gave him a comforting pat to the head.

"The Archers are fresh off a deployment to Afghanistan." Anie said to Shiori. " The Marines loved 'em. They like how they're artillery an' air support in one package."

"Oh I don't blame them. Good machines, excellent craftsmanship overall. How did they handle the action over there?" Shiori asked back, trying to keep Joey from panicking too badly all the while.

"Pretty good. No damage taken, at all." Anie replied. "The secret is how they operate. Two in the air, two on the ground, and two on support if one goes down. It really helps that the muj never found where the howitzers had set up for fire missions."

"Very cool." The supersoldier beamed back to Anie, and gave Ei a nudge. "You've been strangely silent. Not just here but in general. What's up?"

"Hmm? Oh, just steeling myself for the meeting." I`m trying to figure out when to tell you how I feel. he didn`t say.

"He`s right. The Colonel can be a very intimidating person" Anie said. "She demands perfection from her staff."

"Hm. So not a physical intimidating like Khukov is supposed to have but a psychological one?"

"Psychological. Mind you, she's a beautiful woman but she is not the kind of person to be crossed. I really wonder what the hell Colonel Lynch saw in her." Anie replied.

"Atsugi Tower, this is Uber Hawk FIfe-Two, requesting permission to land." the pilot said into his radio.

"Uber Hawk FIfe-Two, permission granted. Break, Archer Lead, Archer Two, stand by for landing permission. Got a C-130 trying to leave." the tower replied.

"Archer lead copies." The two Archers hung back as the Black Hawk began it's descent. It was on deck in five minutes.

Joey sprang out of the vehicle the moment it was safe to and pressed himself against the ground like gravity itself was gonna turn off at any moment. Shiori gave a worried-exasperated sigh.

"I had a guy who was like that on our first jump." Ei said, crouching and patting Joey. "Our jump master literally booted him out of the Chinook we were in. Guy panicked so badly he pulled his reserve instead of his main."

"Did he end up ok?" Shiori asked. Joey in the meantime started to get back up onto his many feet, and gave an appreciative chatter to Ei.

"The guy got hit by his weapons case after he hit a tree. Wound up in the hospital with a concussion and a neck stinger." Ei replied as a staff car pulled up to the helo. Once again the four SDI operators took their place around the helo as a tech sergeant ushered them into the car.

"Eesh. Bet that didn't help him with the-" Shiori wasn't paying attention to the car, and when she got in with a bit more force than she should have, the whole damn back end hit pavement. She facepalmed rather mightily. "Oh sweet freaking jeeze." However, this had the benefit of Joey starting to laugh in his own mechanical way, rolling around on the pavement in pure mirth at the sight. Ei facepalmed as well.

"Let's just get going... We'll be late if we continue to tarry..." he said, scooping up Joey and getting in, the little spidermech still howling with laughter. Anie got in on the other side. Nearby a Hercules cargo plane took off, finally allowing Archer Lead and Archer Two to land. Shiori remained redfaced the entire trip, hands on her face, and didn't see the two mechs land. Joey returned her favor on the HELLicopter, and patted her on the head. He also gave a questioning chitter up to Ei every so often.

"I'm sorry, I don't understand you. Dani seems to, though." he replied to the spidermech, the car bouncing as the driver hit a speed bump. A hubcap rolled free from one of the rear wheels.

Joey chittered anyways, and settled on Ei's lap. Shiori perked an ear up at the sound of rolling metal, before it went flat again. Her tail twitched every so often, once accidentally smacking Ei in the face. "Ach, sorry...."

I'm not complaining. he didn't say. The staff car crawled (literally) to a halt in front of one of the admin buildings on base, the Tech Sergeant driving getting out to open the door.

"Looks like they're really taking security seriously." Ei observed, noting the SDI operators posted in the lobby. One had a SCAR-17 with underbarrel EGLM (Enhanced Grenade Launcher Module), EOTech holographic weapons sight, and Chalker sling. The other had an M-60E4 machine gun hanging from a chest rig with an ACOG scope mounted to it.

"Can't say I blame them, what with all the weird things that keep happening around the world lately." Shiori responded. When she finally made her way out of the vehicle, the thing popped back up off the ground, clearing at least a couple inches. At least Anie and Ei made their way out before Shiori did. "Ugh. Sorry." She apologized to the driver. Joey meanwhile had taken residence on Ei's shoulder.

"This was completely unexpected..." Ei said, looking at Joey on his shoulder as they entered. The two operators challenged them, Ei and Anie presenting ID. Shiori's lack of a proper CAC card was explained as being lost in transit when she was assigned to 28th Armored Infantry Platoon. The two operators didn't ask any further questions and let them enter. Colonel Segovia had made her office in one of the board rooms, hammering away at a laptop. There were several empty coffee cups either tipped over or upright on the table around her. Ei and Anie stood at parade rest and waited. Shiori made sure Joey was presentable, then lined up with the other two. Colonel Segovia finished what she was doing before rising and going to the coffee pot.

"Report..." she simply said, pouring herself a cup. "Oh, at ease..." Ei, Anie, and Shiori relaxed their stances.

"Colonel, I brought Specialist Doe to see you, the... 95X that I mentioned to you." Anie said, motioning toward Shiori. Colonel Segovia looked her over before taking a sip of her coffee cup.

"I understand the ears and tail may be a fashion statement, however I would prefer you not wear them in my presence." she began, not having been informed of Shiori being a kemonomimi. "They are a distraction, something I can't have in 'Audit.'"

"Colonel, they're... not a fashion statemtent..." Ei said, Segovia looking at him then at Shiori. The snowleopard girl gave a twitch of an ear, and twitch of the tail too. She also turned her head to prove that she doesn't even have human ears to begin with, pushing hair out of the way in the process. Colonel Segovia looked at her from a distance first before closing the gap, pushing her sunglasses up atop her head to get a better look. Ear twitched again.

"My apologies..." she said, going back to her seat. "I've been told that you conducted maintenance on several worse for wear Lancers, diagnosed faulty joints just by looking at a machine, and you apparently built that tiny spider mech atop the Captain's shoulder." Joey waved hi, then remembered he was waving to a higher up. He then posed in as regal manner he could on Ei's shoulder and saluted.

"Interesting... What I'd like to know is how is it you've slipped below SDI's radar?" she asked Shiori.

"It...kinda helps when you are raised as a part of a project that was so classified that maybe two generals, a very select group of politicians, one immortal thanks to an incident, and a very filtered group of scientists, soldiers and caregivers were chosen to be even aware of the thing. Further helps if, uh, no one could ever make a good name for said project, aaaaaand the files are locked away about as much as the real reason behind the Roswell incident." Colonel Segovia was about to say something when someone knocked on the door.

"Enter." she said, Dr. Burke entering.

"Oh, good, now I don't have to request permission to go to Yoko-why does this woman have snow leopard ears and a tail?" Burke asked, looking at Shiori.

"Kemonomimi." Shiori stated simply enough. Burke looked at Shiori then at Diana, then back again.

"Excuse me, I need to go make sure I wasn't exposed to Agent Orange or something just as bad in 'Nam..." he said, taking his leave.

"For all we know he isn't joking." Diana said. "That aside, I was unaware of any other program other than SDI's NOM project."

"From what I have learned from one of my sisters, there were at least six approved programs, and a few more that were not but were somehow funded anyways." Shiori said back.

"That is very interesting... Very interesting indeed... That aside, you diagnosed an issue on sight, correct?" Diana asked, taking a seat and finishing her coffee.

"Two, actually." Ei said. "One was with the YLM-27's left knee and the other was on... Archer Two, I think."

"Archer Two's aft actuator is dangerously close to a meltdown. There's a slight wobble as it flies, and unchecked could lead to a blow-out mid flight, and soon." Shiori stated simply enough. Colonel Segovia wrote something down on a notepad before rising and picking up a patrol cap and a tablet.

"Let's go to the flightline." she said, plucking a radio from the bank plugged into an outlet on the wall and keying it. "Any station this net, comms check."

"Last Station, this is Sarn't Wilks, comms check sat." Sergeant Wilks replied.

"Check sat. Break, Archer team, download Archer Two's munitions. I want to check his flight systems."

"Archer team copies." a technician replied.

"Ma'am, we might want to take something hardier than a staff car." Ei suggested.

"And why is that?"

Shiori hung her head, shame-faced. "I think I broke the one we came in." Joey started to laugh again, but quickly caught himself and went into an even more dignified pose. Diana cocked her brow as Burke returned to her office.

"Okay, I wasn't exposed to Agent Orange BUT I did get a little exposure to VX in 1981." he said.

"Burke, you can accompany us to the flightline. Our kemonomimi friend here is apparently quite the genius with mecha and AI." Diana explained. Burke looked Shiori over again.

"If that's the case, why hasn't she been picked up by SDI by now?" he asked.

Shiori cleared her throat. "Actually, the mech side of things is what I am good at." She patted Joey on the head. "The AI portion was created by my sister as a data packet that can manufacture the personality and knowledge necessary to make a good worker, and yet make them diverse enough in attitudes that it doesn't seem like cloning." She paused. "That might sound worse than what I mean, but it's designed so that they want to work, willingly, with no punishment for them to NOT want to work if they end up desiring. It's more like a filter to prevent the more....unwanted aspects of personality. Like a lack of empathy, or murderous intent."

"I have a feeling that would be of no use for SFC Arcturus." Burke mused.

"Likely not, but they are diligent little guys, and the students they work around love them to pieces. Can't tell you how often one tries to pull the old 'it was gonna follow me home' routine." Joey gave several ethusiastic nods to that statement. He alone had five counts of near home-takery.

"Right quick, Colonel, I've seen his insides when she opened him up to do maintenance." Anie interjected. "It's absolutely wild the work that went into him."

"I'll take your word for it. Now, let us adjourn to the flight line. I hate burning daylight during working hours." she said, walking past them and out into the hallway. This time a pair of M-1114 Uparmored Humm Vees were waiting for them outside. The car that had originally brought them in blew it's radiator on the way back to the garage and had to be towed back.

Shiori reddened like a tomato when she heard about that. She climbed into the studier Humm Vee, which still lowered slightly, while Joey continued to chitter and chatter at folks. Eventually, he made his way over to peer up at the new lady that everyone kept posing for. He gave an inquisitive chatter up to her, peering with curiosity in his mechanical eyes. The Colonel looked down at Joey, peering at him from behind her aviator's sunglasses.

"If I understood you as well as I do CABAL AI then I would respond to your chatter." she said, facing forward as the driver navigated the base to get to the flightline.

Joey gave his equivalent of a shrug, then settled down on her lap. Shiori perked up a little. "Fun fact. That chatter stuff is something they came up with themselves."

"That is interesting. The CABAL develop their personalities and speech based on imprinting, either from their pilot or another source." Diana explained, talking about the Lancer AIs. "Sergeant Wilks did something similar with his Hammerheads, altering the external stimuli in slight ways to create unique individuals."

"Neat. I may not be able to make one, but I've always found the mech-AI to be very awe-, er, fascinating. I brought Joey here in particular 'cause while he's small he's very determined, and he's not nearly as much of a ham as Archimedes. I think BUBBA would have done well too, buuuuut I didn't fancy folks giving me weird looks for a four-foot-wide spider mech, no matter how docile he is." She patted Joey again. "And when I mean they developed it themselves, I mean it. They weren't built with any real communcation abilities in mind, aside from body language, and one day they just...started up. I tried to install proper vocalizers in a few of them, to help everyone out, but for some odd reason their programming either rejected it, or...." She giggled. "Imagine if you will, a spider a few inches smaller than Joey but sounding uncannily like Kevin Michael Richardson in one of his deeper voice roles Then you'd have Bob."

"One of the guys at Yokota thought Joey was a camel spider and freaked out." Ei said, leaning up so the Colonel could hear him.

"I can see why." the Colonel said, looking Joey over again. "In the report I recieved, he was used to repair much hull damage on... Brawl, an LM-45 Chasmosaurus belli and both combat damage and wear and tear on the YLM-27. Is this correct?"

"Yes ma'am." Shiori answered. Joey gave an enthusiastic nod too. The Humm Vees pulled up to the hangars, the bay doors open to reveal Archer Two sitting inside. Technicians and armorers had downloaded it's weapons, a team waiting nearby to transport the ordnance to the armory.

"Archer Two reports some instability during flight." one of the mechanics said to the Colonel as they dismounted. Diana turned to Shiori.

"Here's your moment. Impress me." she said.

She gave a nervous nod, then looked to the tech. "I suggest you or someone go take a look at that aft actuator." Colonel Segovia looked at two mechanics and motioned for them to do as Shiori suggested. Both men began their inspection of Archer Two. After about three minutes they found the problem.

"Ma'am, if this unit had been airborne for longer than it was then we'd be picking up the pieces from the tarmac." the mechanic said. Diana made an annotation on her tablet.

"I am impressed." she said to Shiori. "Archer Two is OOC until repairs can be effected. ETR?"

"One hour, ma'am." the mechanic replied, his partner already working to take the cover off of the assembly.

Shiori breathed a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness it didn't fly longer than it did then." She wondered though. "Did, uh, you mean for me to go and fix it, or just simply point out that issue?"

"If you wish to earn brownie points then by all means. Get your hands dirty." Diana replied. Ei had to think of other things, given the last time he saw her with her hands dirty.

"OK." Shiori stepped away from the group and towards the folks working on the messed up part. "Hey, guys, step aside. I got this." She grinned widely, removed the top part of her fatigues again, nabbed some tools, and made her way up and to the aft actuator. Joey sat near the Colonel's feet and waited, knowing Shiori got this. Colonel Segovia sat back and watched her work, one of the other Archers waddling past. About fifteen minutes later, Shiori walked back up to the Colonel, tank top and arms slightly stained again.

"Well?"

"And there you go, one actuator fixed and enhanced just a little. Better efficiency." Shiori wiped off a bit of some fluid onto a towel. "Want to check my work with another tech?"

"Archer Two, report." Diana simply said.

"All systems green, verticals clear." the AI reported back.

"Let's take a flight test, for good measure." the Colonel ordered. Archer Two waited for Shiori to clear away before, awkwardly, turning and waddling out onto the tarmac.

Shiori ducked out of the way and made her way back to where Ei and Anie were waiting. "This should be good." Archer Two reached the launching point on the tarmac, unfolding his rotors blades then radioing for permission to do a test flight. Upon recieving permission, the peculiar Lancer spun up his rotors. After lifting off the tarmac Archer Two folded his legs up underneath the airframe then began to go on a simple flight.

"Talk to me -Two, any difference?" Diana asked over her radio.

"That instability is gone. Flyin' on the straight and narrow now." -Two replied.

"Very well. RTB." the Colonel ordered.

"Compliance." -Two came back, deploying his legs before touching down. Once again he waddled back into the hangar, settling in to have his munitions reloaded.

"I really should offer you a job." Diana said to Shiori. "I reward innovation with autonomy."

"Hehe, I appreciate the offer, but I'd have to decline. I have a lot of responsibility waiting for me back home as is. Kinda why they only have me for the week, and why I had to work faster than I'd like on these guys." She gave one of her brilliant grins again. "But I really do appreciate the idea, honest!"

"If you ever change your mind..." Diana said, fishing a card out of her pocket and handing it over. "...feel free to call." She then walked past Shiori and into the hangar.

"Show's over, get back to work!" she shouted, the technicians and mechanics going back to whatever it was they had been doing.

"I think she likes you." Anie said to Shiori. "In more ways than one."

"Eh? How do you mean?" Shiori gave a confused look to that. "But at least I'm making more positive steps in all this. No more scaring people at any rate."

"I'll let you figure that one out. For now, I think-" Anie paused to see Burke still standing next to Ei. "Yanno, I think the doc might have some questions for you. I'mma leave you in his an' Ei's hands. Got a few things I need to do here."

"Hi?" Shiori asked to the doc. Burke strode up, fishing a pack of cigarettes out and plucking one out.

"Let's hit the exchange. I've got a hankering for KFC and it's apparently very big in Japan." the researcher said as he lit up, despite posted warnings on the flight line.

"Uhm. OK?" Shori just blinked. Shrug to Ei?

"Burke likes to talk over food." he said to her, following the doctor. Theirs was a rather leisurely pace, passing regular traffic on the streets, the occasional tank or armored vehicle, and the also occasional group of soldiers running to cadence. Burke had gone through two cigarettes, a chain smoker since 'Nam, putting a fresh third out as soon as they arrived at the exchange.

"There are a lot of questions that I have." he said to Shiori. "Something I'd rather discuss while ingesting the Colonel's eleven herbs and spices."

"Fine, but I'll get the most obvious one out of the way first." She breathed deep. "Yes. They are real."

"I wasn't even about to ask that." he replied, opening the door for her and Ei.

"Good, cause I am getting tired of people asking why I keep wearing my ears and tail." She noted with a huff, but she walked in politely enough, escorting Ei inside.

"Your ears and tail? I was about to say, you were bigger than my first love, Miss October, 1974, Playboy magazine. We had that issue hung up in our barracks at Coronado." Burke admitted. Ei facepalmed.

"WE CAN'T TAKE YOU ANYWHERE!!!" he declared, everyone inside looking at them.

Shiori reddened IMMENSELY. "That is most certainly not where....can...can you not...." She sat very VERY carefully at a booth, trying her damnedest not to break that too.

"I shall return with sustenance. Talk amongst yourselves in the meantime." Burke said, joining the line as Ei sat next to Shiori.

"I think it's the 'old man factor.'" Ei said. "I mean, the older a man gets, the more perveted they get, right? I do not look forward to it myself."

Shiori couldn't say a thing at the moment, too flustered to think of a good response.

"Umm... Shiori... You should be glad Top Khukov isn't here..." Ei pointed out.

She gave a confused look, then noticed where his gaze was. She turned positively scarlet at the realization. "I-I-I....ohh dear." She put her hands onto her face and subconciously covered herself up.

"Yeah, you left your top at the hangar..." he said, sliding out of the booth. "I'll go get a stopgap from the uniform shop... Be right back..." Ei left the food court, going over his most recent observations of her. On one hand, he had certainly seen a lot of her when he Googled her. On the other, she was showing a modest side one would not have expected given her reaction to him noting that she was without her uniform blouse. He also took note of how much fitter she looked compared to the images he saw online. He thought it interesting as he looked over working uniform jackets in the shop. He noted that the ones he was looking at were Navy jackets, intended to be worn with working uniforms and not utilities. Ei continued browsing the uniform racks, finally settling on a bulky looking, ACU pattern cold weather jacket. He thought it was too early in the year for those to be out but then he remembered how it had snowed in July. The staff probably didn't want to bother returning the items to the warehouse and it would probably be time to put it on the shelves in a few months later any way. He paid for the jacket then returned to the food court, holding the jacket to Shiori.

"It might be a tad warm, but it's better than nothing." he said.

She took the jacket, gave a grateful "Thank you", and tried to put it on. Ei sat back down as Burke came back with a large bucket of fried chicken.

"Thing I used to love about the military..." he began, picking up a drumstick and digging into it. "Every meal was a feast, every paycheck a fortune, and every formation a parade..."

"Now you're quoting 'Aliens...'" Ei mused, picking a breast for himself and skeletonizing it.

Shiori picked out a drumstick and nibbled a bit. Her nerves were still a bit shot to eat properly. "So. Uhm. What, uh, what questions do you have for me? Keep in mind I may not be able to answer everything..."

"How large was the program you were part of?" Burke asked, picking up a second drumstick.

"In terms of folks who were involved, not sure. In terms of how many like me came about, uh....I have twenty three sisters." Shiori answered confidently enough.

"All successes, I take it..." Burke said, rather grimly. Ei stopped eating altogether.

Shiori was stymied by the attitude, but answered honestly enough anyways. "Well, for the most part, yes. And no. Yet yes. It's a weird, complicated answer."

"Did you have a candidate list?" Burke asked next.

"Kind of. They chose children who were orphaned, save for two girls that were volunteered by their parents who worked on the project directly. The idea was to RAISE a supersoldier or two dozen, not simply make them. They had acquired some nanotech that was supposed to essentially incubate in the host body, and help boost what they could do over time. But..."

"But... what...?" Burke's eyes narrowed. Ei knew that tone of voice.

"It...It was weird. First, the nanotech refused to bond with boys. As in, period. They'd leave their body completely unharmed, but not a single bit of them bonded to their structure." Shiori picked at her drumstick again. "Then it refused to bond with anyone over a certain age. I was two, one of the youngest to be bonded with, and the oldest was four. Everyone else, regardless of gender, nothing." Burke set the bones he had been picking clean aside and clasped his fingers together, despite the grease on his hands.

"We had a list... Decorated soldiers from Rangers, SEALs, Recon Marines, AFSOC... Of course they didn't call them AFSCO then, they were 'PJs.' Parajumpers." he mused. "Nanomachine rejection went one of a few ways..."

"We had one guy go into seizures, pretty bad ones at that. Another keeled over and died in the most quiet way I've ever seen." Burke explained. "I don't know what they did differently, just that it was before I came onto the program. I came on when they started grafting computers to brains."

"Some of those ones went insane and killed themselves in rather gruesome fashion."

Shiori started to look both apologetic and anxious at the current direction of the conversation.

"I got to know a few of them, personally. Good men, combat veterans. Survivors of Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm... Then they come home and die in New Mexico, and for what?" Burke looked at Shiori then at Ei. "I still don't know what the fuck we did right with him. All I know is that he is incomplete."

"Incomplete?" Ei asked, very curious. Shiori gave an eyebrow to that too.

"The Pentagon was becoming impatient and wanted results, fast. So we merged NOM with the XLM-27 restoration project, Project Dead Clade Walking. I swear, we thought he was going to keel over before the Neural Handshake after we altered him further to synch with the Lancer. We had a betting pool on it." he admitted.

"You were betting I was going to die?" Ei asked.

"Maybe five dollars for an anyuerism. Two hundred on the drill press in the machine shop." Ei was silent, staring daggers at Burke.

"In my defense... In our defense, we weren't very optimistic. Twenty five had died before you. We were ready to hang it up if you failed." Burke replied, lighting a cigarette. Again, it was against posted warnings. "But you lived. You lived and the project ended on an incompletion. A rushed beta, if you will..."

"Doc, if you'd have seen the things Shiori can do... " Ei started then stopped.

"There are a few upgrades in storage that were intended for you. However, they're locked away, likely to never see the light of day." Burker mused.

Shiori fidgeted in her seat. "I'm, uh, I'm sorry if I was bringing up bad memories..." She was once more starting to feel some real anger for the other projects. Seriously, would it have been so bad as to actually show human compassion? "Do, uh, do you want to know anything else, or...?"

"How did the ears and tail come to be? LW-001 through LW-026 didn't have any such physical changes." Burke asked, Ei finally resuming his meal.

"I was born this way." She said with a shrug. "I am part of a people known as kemonomimi. Actually high in population, popularity. And both are growing at a nice enough pace."

"I wonder... is that what we missed...?" Burke thought aloud, tapping his fingertips together. "I wouldn't be able to take that up to Los Alamos. NOM has been shut down for years."

"Before you start thinking that my heritage is the key, keep in mind that only one-third of us are like me. And they are mostly different species to boot. Ok not species, flavors? Styles? Animal bits."

"I almost want to say 'breeds' but that may be off."

"I wonder what flavor Shiori would be..." Ei mused.

"Don't even start. You may have an 'alternative fuel' setting but cannibalism is still cannibalism." Burke said.

Shiori went red yet again. "I'd probably taste too metallic. The nanites bonded with me at a cellular level, remember?"

"How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Shiori?" Ei asked, almost too cheerfully.

"This is why we can't take you anywhere, Cap..."

Aaaand she had gone scarlet yet again. "C-can we get back to the questions, p-please?" Suddenly, Shiori didn't feel so nervous about the interviews anymore.

"You said you were raised. I've seen that movie before, but things turned out rather ugly. Have you seen that movie or do you remember the name of it?" Burke asked.

"I remember Ei mentioning it the other day. Universal something? At any rate, we weren't raised in the manner most folks would think." Shiori pause for a few moments trying to think of how to put it to words. "When we got older were basically told why were given our abilities, but we were raised with care, especially over our well-being as people not things that cost money, and uh....I really don't know how else to explain it."

"Universal... No, no, wrong movie." Ei interjected. "'Universal Soldier was a completely different program. They used corpses to make super soldiers in that one."

"Yeah, the movie I was thinking of was 'Soldier.'" Burke added. "But I do understand where you're coming from. Hard to do that with hardened combat veterans, though."

"I think that's why they started with kids." She tapped the table a little, the one drumstick she took from the bucket pretty much ignored now.

"I couldn't take this back to Los Alamos and get the program restarted that way. Even in secret. It wouldn't sit well with me at all." Burke said, stubbing his cigarette out on his shoe sole. "Another question: do you have a computer grafted to your brain?"

"No, just the nanites in my br-uh...system."

"That might benefit 8th Platoon, but that isn't my call to make." Burke reached for a drumstick and found his hand in Ei's mouth.

"...s'my biece ob bicken..." Ei said, mouth full of chicken and hand.

"I really dont think the stuff that's in me would work for most folks anyways. It takes natural time to cultivate, it only seems to choose young girls, and even then only ones with certain personalities. Really, as helpful as they could be, they uh....they're so unpredictable overall." She seemed to wilt a little. "It's kinda why the project was paused after only 4 years." Ei got to thinking when she said they were unpredictable.

"Sooooo, it's likely that, had the nanomachines not been introduced, then maybe you wouldn't... be... so..."

Shiori covered her face again. "No no they...they were gonna be like that no matter what..." Burke facepalmed, again.

"Again, this is why we can't take you anywhere, Cap..."

"What? It was just a simple hypothesis!"

"Wh-what I meant by random is how they affected, our body, when, and then they continue to do odd things so often...." She said, positively brilliantly red between her fingers. Ei couldn't help but look at her face, seeing the red between her fingers. He then started kicking himself for a few things he had said. Piloting a bipedal weapons platform came second nature to him. Expressing his feelings to another was near impossible.

"So just how random are the effects?" Burke asked.

"Well, first off, those uh, qualifications I mentioned? Didn't know they were gonna happen." Shiori started to calm down a bit, but was still rather pink. "Then they limited themselves automatically when we were young, to prevent hurting ourselves and others when we didn't know what we could do. And then...uh...then came the settling..." She reddened just a hair yet again.

"The settling?"

"When...when we hit puberty, the nanites suddenly decided to settle, for a lack of a better term, in certain parts of our bodies. Some chose places that made sense for us, some didn't. Before then they were evenly distributed, and our abilities matched that." She took a sip of an iced tea that had made it her way. "Some of us got Arm placement, which greatly increased their upper body strength ratios. Some got Leg, which did the same principle and increased their speed and jumping to match. Both of them got enhanced stamina to extreme levels in their respective areas to boot." She sipped again. "Then there were the Head. Only two of us got that, and one got a boost to straight up intelligence while the other is definitely smart but more on the creative thinking side of things. Basic boosts for them overall, but their heads are basically indestructible now. Helps protect their brain, you see." She tapped the table. "Then, uh, then it gets kinda weird..." Ei got a mental image at the word 'weird.' Blood spurted from his nose, some on the table, some on the chicken, and some on Burke.

"Okay, not the first time I've had blood spatter on me... Only last time it was from shooting a man point blank with a forty five..." Burke said as Ei's hands went to his nose. "And no, it wasn't you, Ei, it was back in the Teams..."

There went the scarlet color again, but Shiori pressed on. "Unfortunately, I think his mind was on the right track." She lowered her head in embarrassment but plowed onwards. "The, uh, other areas that got affected were Chest and Torso. Three and one affected respectively. I....I am part of the first one." More blood spurted from between Ei's fingers.

"Jesus Christ, exactly how much blood do you have in you?" Burke asked, wiping blood from his face.

The snow leopard lady forgot about her embarrassment, and nabbed a handful of paper towels. She started very carefully dabbing at his nose, worry etched on her face. Burke rose from the table, looking at his lab coat.

"I've got to change... This was my 'grease inspection' coat too... Gonna take forever to get all this blood out..." he muttered as he left Ei and Shiori alone. Ei's nosebleed tapered off after a while.

Shiori scritched the side of her face. "Ehehe, I hope I didn't irk him too badly..." She gave Ei a nudge. "Your nose better now?"

"A bit better..." Ei admitted, sniffling. He then looked at the bloody chicken. "You gonna eat that?"

"Nah, I had my protein today. All yours."

"More for me, then..." He said before digging back in, finishing off the bucket in very short order, including a drumstick bone.

Shiori waited politely for him to finish up. When he was done, and could answer without risk of choking: "Were you asked to come along to the meeting, or did you volunteer?"

"I volunteered, since Anie was going. I thought I was going to have to report something about the YLM-27 to the Colonel, but I guess not." he replied, wiping his hands with wet wipes.

"Oh, ok. Good to hear." She grinned, but Ei swore he heard the slightest hint of disappointment in her voice. Not that it showed on her face. "I know we have to get back to the base soon, but seeing as I don't have anything left to do, and Khukov banned me from continuing the running parts of things thanks to that...incident...I have a free afternoon. Free couple days, really. Would you like to hang out more, if you could?"

"I would like to, although we are stuck here until either one of us drives, not it, back to Yokota or we hitch a ride on the 'Uber Hawk.'" he replied. "So, yeah, let's see what kind of trouble we can get into."

"I'd like that." She beamed, stood up, and offered a hand. "Shall we? Need to at least check on Joey before we, ah, mill around with each other."

"Yeah, we should check on him. God only knows what the Colonel may be doing with or to him." Ei replied. "I should mention, the Colonel is real big on AI weapons. S'posed to champion their use in combat as a way to mitigate human losses."

---

Meanwhile, back at the hangar, Joey was having oodles of fun showing off what he could do for that nice new lady with the glasses and the other new nice lady who gave Shiori lots of work. He waved over to the next mech, chittering inquisitively.

"You're not touching the Hammerheads, Joey. They're undergoing a simulation. An old favorite of ours." Diana said to the spidermech as she watched a computer monitor. "I realize the war with the Soviets never materialized, however the scenario itself never gets old. Advancements in training simulators allow us to pipe the scenario directly into the cockpits, negating the need for an expensive simulator."

Most of that flew completely over Joey's head. But he understood that they were not fixable right now. So he just gave her a confused look, before skittering over to the next thing he thought she'd like to have fixed.

"I don't see why you can't work on their weapons. Go ahead, show me your mecha magic." Diana said, encouraging him.

Joey gave a happy little dance, and hopped right onto the first bit. Within a few seconds, many scrapes, bumps, and little problems were geting fixed, buffered and filled. Sparks flew from time to time, but it always ended with the material touched being put back to like-new status. Curiously, Diana would notice that he would leave certain things alone, always superficial ones. And always ones the AI she spoke to considered 'battle scars'.

A nearby tech whispered "Is it normal for such a little mech like that to have such a...personality, Colonel?"

"In case you forgot, the big ones have personalities too." she pointed out. "Even Warhead, genocidal maniac that he is."

"But none like...that." He waved. He also noticed the Colonel's expression. "Yes ma'am, sorry ma'am, I think I'll go work over there now ma'am." And he scampered off.

"Pay him no mind, Joey. He doesn't understand. But I do. I see beauty in what you do. In what you are." she mused, watching him work on a GBR-14 Battle Rifle.

He was very much working dilligently, and within the span of ten minutes, he had gotten the whole device back up to newtime specs. Joey skittered over, and chittered up happily at the new friendly lady with the glasses. Diana picked him up, almost as if he was a puppy.

"You are simply amazing, little one... If only I had more of you..." she mused, placing Joey on her shoulder.

He gave her another happy chitter, and settled down as comfortably as he could on her shoulder.

"Umm... Colonel..." a technician was looking at Diana.

"What are you looking at? Shouldn't you be doing something productive?" she asked the man.

"Y-yes, ma'am... I'll... I'll get back to work..." he replied, hurrying off to find something to do.

Joey gave his little mechanical laugh. All sorts of people being funny!

"Well well well, and here I thought he was gonna get into trouble." A familiar voice from behind the pair came about. Diana turned to face Ei and Shiori, smiling at them.

"He's been nothing but a hard worker. Quite marvelous, I must say." she admitted. "Although I had to keep him from trying to work on the Hammerheads while they're running a combat sim."

"Which one?" Ei asked.

"An old favorite, the Fulda Gap." Fulda Gap was the most likely point of attack that the Soviet Union would have taken to invade West Germany during the Cold War, a scenario for which NATO planned and prepared for. It was a historically significant location, having been used by Napoleon to escape back to France and also having been used by the US XII Corps to advance during World War II. Several weapons systems, the A-10 Warthog and AH-64 Apache, had been designed with a major tank battle through the Fulda Gap in mind. Of course such a hypothetical battle never came to pass, instead turned into a combat simulation played through over and over again by AIs, often with new variables to avoid monotony.

"Ooh, good choice. And, hehe, yeah, that...that's IS a common problem for them. They always want to try to fix stuff, even stuff they might think is off limits." She giggled. "Not a BAD qualitiy, I think, but still."

"'They' you say? So there are more where Joey came from?" Diana asked, her curiosity piqued.

"I already have quite a few brothers for him back at the school I work." She thought. "I think I'm at about three dozen now, easily."

"Interesting... Ever considered contracting them out?" Diana asked, scritching Joey.

Joey nuzzled. He always liked being scritched and petted. Shiori hrmed to herself. "I could see if some of them want to come over here and to the base to help. I think I can spare....ten? And still be at the capacity that the school needs. Well, ten then Joey." Shiori giggled mightily, the tracts of land jiggling quite enough, even in that jacket. "Way Dani reacted to just the meeting, I think she practically wants to be betrothed to the little guy." THAT got a confused chitter from Joey.

"D4N1 is attached to this little one? That is very interesting." Diana mused. "She hates me with a passion."

"You tried to collar me..." Ei spoke up, holding Shiori the ACU blouse she had left in the hangar. He'd gone to retrieve it when they arrived.

She gave a quick thanks, and swapped out the jacket for the blouse. "That, uh, that reminds me. I need to get him back to her soon. With a shrub. Never pegged her for a gardener, but there you go."

"A shrub? Did she say 'ni' when she asked for it?" Diana asked. Ei had to suppress a laugh.

"No. Why?"

"No reason." Diana replied before plucking Joey from her shoulder. "Go to her. I'd rather not face down thirty tons of ambulatory death machine."

Joey waved a goodbye as he was returned to Shiori. "No, I wouldn't want that either." She giggled again. "I, uh, I can't drive, and neither can Ei. Could we get a lift back to the base?"

"I supposed I'll allow the use of our helo. After all, you did bring me such a hard worker." the Colonel said, taking her radio from her belt. "CW02 Piaggi, I need you in your bird. You're taking a pair of soldiers back to Yokota."

"Piaggi copies. Give us twenty mikes." the pilot replied.

"Is Anie going back with us?" Shiori asked Ei.

"If the Colonel has her doing something, then no. That simulation prolly has priority." he replied to her.

"Oh. OK!" Her smile seemed slightly brighter at that. Ei led Shiori back to the flightline, arriving as the Black Hawk's flight crew was beginning their preflight checks. As before the four men who had stood guard on it were posted within, one at each door gun and the other two in jump seats. The flight back was a fast and uneventful one, with no aircraft interrupting their touchdown at Yokota. No sooner were Ei and Shiori on deck than the helo took off, heading back to Atsugi.

"Well, that was painless." Ei mused, watching the helo leave. He recalled something Burke told him about Vietnam and helos. That you could tell what kind of person someone was when they got off the helo. If they kept moving after dismounting, heading into the brush to head for the objective then they were certainly someone you wanted at your back. If they stayed to watch the helo, as if they could will it back, then they probably weren't going to last very long in the suck. Ei immediately turned away from the helo, not wanting to be one of the latter, despite being on base. Shiori caught up with him rather quickly. Joey, on the other hand, jumped off her shoulder and went straight to where Dani was likely waiting. He knew she was probably getting pretty antsy.

"Aside from the random blood loss at least." Shiori giggled. She looked left, then right, the leaned over to whisper. "What did you mean by collar?" Ei gave her a quizzical look before he remembered what he had said.

"The Colonel is... well... She's a dominatrix. She wanted to take me under her heel." he replied, blushing a little bit.

"Oh....Ohhhh! Huh." She glanced back at the retreating helo. "Hm. Ya know, I can kinda see that in her."

"It makes me wonder just what the hell Colonel Lynch saw in her." Ei said. "Desolator said he could see the divorce coming miles away but kept his mouth shut because he wanted to be wrong."

"Hmm...I think sometimes folks fall in love with an ideal, then when the mask slips, they don't want to keep trying with who they now know...or something?" She blushed hard again. "I, uh, I wouldn't know. Never been in a...well, not true NOW, but she says it's a friends with benefits thing, but....then again there's some..." She stopped herself there, and just went scarlet, trying to keep her gaze away from Ei.

"You know... I've been keeping it to myself, but... Y-you're kinda... cute... when you're red... like that..." he finally admitted.

That made her fidget quite a bit. Lucky for them, no one else seemed to be around. Ei furrowed his brow then looked away from her.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said anything..." Stupid! That was stupid! Why did you think she'd reciprocate? he asked himself. Ei's eyes widened a bit, when he felt that Shiori had put her hand in his. "Th-thanks." Ei relaxed, feeling her soft palm. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze.

"So...uh...want to do something?" She asked, voice quivering just a bit.

"Well... wasn't much trouble to get into at Atsugi... So... let's see what trouble we can get into here at Yokota." he suggested.

"What do you have in mind?"

"I would say the base club, but that Specialist rank on your blouse clashes with my two, silver bars." he said, considering the 'perception is reality' rule.

"I guess, but I really don't have an official rank." She considered a moment, then had an idea. "Saaaay...."

"You have an idea?"

"Hehe. I've seen you watch me when I work." She griiiinned widely. "Wanna see what I could really do?" Ei blushed a little bit.

"Yeah. If you don't mind, of course."

"You suuuure?" She leaned in reeeeeal close. There was a moment's hesitation.

"Y-yeah... I'm sure..."

"Heeeeee....Excellent!" She pulled him into a quick hug then let him go. "I'll go get into my sparring outfit!"

"Wait... Sparring?" Ei was very surprised now.

"Yeah! You're a super like me, and I need to get back into practice. It's been a full week since my last session! I can always hold back if you feel I need to, and it could be good for you too. And I get to show off the fourth prototype of my sparring outfit." She was beaming throughout.

"Wait, wait, wait... I can't hit you..." he protested. "Besides, you heard Doc... I'm an 'incomplete'..."

"You don't know if you don't try." And she posed dramatically for this bit, hands on her hips. "And screw the whole incomplete thing. Work with what ya got, and get better with it. You have got to have more confidence in yourself!" She huffed. "There is always gonna be someone stronger, faster, smarter, better. The trick is to not let them win instantly."

"Alright... I get it... But I still don't like the thought of trying to hit you." Ei relented his protests.

"It wouldn't be out of hatred, but more like a friendly thing." She looked left, she looked right. Then she leaned over and whispered something. Ei's ears perked up at her little message.

"You're on..." he said with a smile.

"Hehehe! Where do you want to do it?"

"Base gym would be too open. Maybe the hangar after the working day ends." he suggested.

"Hangar it is! Gives me time to get that shrub to Dani. Ok, see you then?"

"Yeah. See you then." Ni... he didn't say, letting the joke continue to perpetuate itself. She gave him a quick peck to the cheek, then set off to get that blasted shrub.

---

TO BE CONTINUED

---

Summary
-A forgotten sniper gets a call.
-Recovery team inbound.
-Or salvagers/looters. Someone didn't word the memo very well.
-Hayden sets multiple traps, for people on foot, motorbike, and in AFV.
-Big Boss Interrogation Technique.
-Boss, Mother Base can't handle any more soldiers!
-Hayden netted and beanbagged.
-Convoy moving out with their prize.
-Hayden wasn't searched well enough.
-Pilot and AI split up. High speed chase ensues.
-Largoists break off contact near the air base.
-Hayden and Sturm have rejoined the party.

-Shiori gives Hayden a scolding. Partners need better care!
-Hayden blows her off.
-Hayden gets tossed out for it.
-Black silk strangely see-through panties? Really Shiori?

-Hayden is given admonishment from the Major for what happened.
-He is given an ultimatum: advance in rank or be discharged.
-Hayden begrudgingly accepts the challenge.
-He also tells Jenks where his eight bottle of Jameson is.

-Jenks talks to Shiori next.
-Don't throw people out of hangars, kthnxbye
-I understand how you feel, just don't do that.
-Sturm gets 12 hours of repair just to himself.

-Next day, Dani and Shiori fight!
-Over Joey?
-Over Joey. Dani has claimed him.
-She demands a shrubbery on his return. Ni.

-Meeting with a Boss.
-And very impressed here too!
-Goodness, Shiori just can't do wrong huh.
-Mech is detailed and repaired.
-Meeting of the minds. Over chicken.
-Lots of info, and lots of nosebleeds.
-Joey is recollected, and they go back home.
-The Colonel will be getting some workers.
-D'aww, early couple awkwardness.
-Shrubs to be found!
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Hyuuint

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 am

Post Tue May 17, 2016 11:41 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Confrontations Part Two
Timestamp: Just after Part One, silly!
Location: A closed-off hangar, and the park.
Authors: Skorpy, Ei, Hyuuint.
Characters: Machariah, Shiori, Ei, Ei's horde of NPCs.


---

Later that night, at a closed off hangar...

"I can't believe you actually got a Shrubbery!" Dani exclaimed, looking at the crete merdle.

"D4N1, this is by far the strangest thing you've gotten someone to bring." Armored Convoy remarked, looking at the shrub.

"See if you can't get another, slightly smaller one to create a two level effect." Sturm suggested. Brawl, Barrage, and Chainlink were out on patrol, their pilots having been pulled to shore up the guard detail on the base. Chainsaw EX was in shutdown, in preparation for his eventual rotation back stateside.

"Do not encourage her." Convoy said, settling back into his position in the hangar before going into stasis mode.

"Suit yourself. This hangar needs more green." the sniper type said before settling in for his own stasis.

"I'll think of something to do with the shrub. Thanks again, I think..." Dani mused before she joined the others in stasis. Joey was curled up in Dani's cockpit once more, long since stasis'd himself.

"Well, we're alone now." Ei said, adjusting his gloves. He was wearing ACU trousers, garrison boots, a crew neck shirt, and weightlifting gloves. "I won't pull my punches, per your suggestion, and I won't ask you to pull yours either."

Shiori grinned. She had arrived pretty much in uniform herself, save for the addition of the leather gloves on her hands. "As you wish my Captain." She then removed her blouse, boots and trousers to reveal her sparring outfit. The effect was far more intense than he expected. She stood before him in what looked like a reinforced training bra, barefoot, and clad in very tight cloth short shorts; made to give her a good chunk of modesty while still allowing her to move as she needed. Tail hole included, of course. Ei let his guard down a little bit, surprised, and excited, by what he saw. He shook his head to get his composure then brought his hands up in a high guard, similar to one he'd seen Hayden use in many sparring sessions the platoon had.

"I'm not a disciplined fighter. I'm a brawler. I use what I know works." he said, psyching himself up. "That includes whatever I get my hands on."

"Well then. Let's see if you can in the first place." She grinned to him, sounding as normal as ever. But within a second, her expression snapped into a different one. She crouched down, getting in a very well trained kick-boxer's pose, but that wasn't what caught Ei's attention. What did it was her eyes.

Here he got to see Shiori the Soldier in action. Ei narrowed his eyes, his HUD displaying a wireframe of her body and comparing it to styles he'd seen before. He cleared it and began a slow approach, keeping his guard up. He led off with a swift kick to her left, the steel toe of his garrison boot leading.

She reached down and swatted his leg away, shifting into a more defensive stance. Just from that one touch he could tell that, despite her demeanor, she was still doing her level best to fight on an even keel with him. Shiori stepped back and to the right slightly before lunging in with a quick rabbit-punch. Ei parried with his elbow, feeling a little more force than if he'd been sparring with his brother, Sosuske.

Sosuske Ramirez-Kisaragi was a First Lieutenant in 4th Infantry Division, following Ei to West Point after his acceptance. The two had done so to honor their grandfather's military service. Although Rodolfo Ramirez would have preferred if if they had gone into the Marines instead of the Army. Ei threw his shoulder into Shiori, intent on opening her up for a follow up, right cross.

She took the hit, but kept an eye out for any follow up attacks. Sure enough, when the right cross came, she was ready, and she bent over backwards to avoid the hit. She used her own momentum to keep going, rolled back, and landed on her feet. Ei went off balance for a moment, getting his equilibrium back and putting some distance between himself and Shiori. He decided for another course of action and took off, running perpendicular to her.

Shiori had a momentary confused look. Why was he running away...? Ei ran up Dani's thigh, finding purchase on the armor plating and hardpoints for additional weapons mounts. He leaped off, bringing his right foot up for an axe kick, intent on striking her from above.

The plan worked. Shiori got a boot to the head, and was crumpled downward. Wait... she nabbed his leg? There was no doubt that she got the hit, pretty solidly too, but in a second Ei suddenly found himself in the air, springboarded by Shiori. Ei felt the weightlessness of the sudden direction change. It was comparable to his first jump out of a CH-47 in 82nd Airborne. Except that fall was a lot longer and his face wasn't impacting the pavement. Ei rolled to put distance between himself and Shiori, his HUD showing an error. It was a wireframe of his jaw, the structure askew. He reached up and popped it back into place.

That was all the time she needed. Right when Ei looked back up, Shiori was right there, on top of him. She had charged the length of her throw, and proceeded to tackle him. They rolled for a moment, ending with Ei on the ground, Shiori above. Ei was panting, locking eyes with her.

"....Goddamn, Shiori. You're...you're beautiful." he blurted out.

She blinked. Her hand remained raised where she had prepared to throw it. A second or two passed, and Shiori blinked again, the soldier slipping out of her eyes. "I...what?"

"You're beautiful" he repeated. "I've never met someone so, so magnificent"

Shiori blushed again, but it wasn't like before. Instead of taking over her whole face, it only permeated her cheeks. Her hand lowered, but she made no move to get off of him, too stunned to do much more than that.

"I won't apologize, Shiori. I've been fighting the notion since we first met. It took me getting my jaw popped out of place to finally decide to say it..." he said, remaining motionless. He steeled himself, just in case a slap across the face was in his immediate future.

It never came. Instead, she very slowly rolled off of his frame, and sat next to him, legs splayed out. The poor snow leopard girl continued to look stunned, trying to process... Ei sat up, leaning on one hand to turn her way.

"Shiori... I didn't mean to...I've been thinking on how to say that for days now. But how you moved, it..." Ei paused a moment, then turned his head as best as he could to miss her gaze. "I'll stop pestering you and... I'll resume being the officer I'm supposed to be..."

She shook her head. "No, it's...I...wow..." She giggled a little, twiddling a couple of her fingers. "I, I really appreciate...you really think...?" She looked to him out of the corner of her eye. "I...I think you're great. I mean, you've been a little perverted from time to time, don't think I didn't notice, but you've been....been very kind." Shiori curled up a bit. "You didn't think I was a freak or just some bimbo, with your first impression. And..." She reddened completely this time. "I...I think you're pretty awesome too." Ei reached over to wrap his arms around her shoulders. She was still for a moment, then leaned into him.

"Acceptance is something I was taught a long time ago. 'Judge not, lest you be judged.'" he said. "On that note, I'm not the best Catholic out there, just wanting to put that out there."

"Heh, that's ok, I'm not that religious to begin with." She giggled just a little, then snuggled into him.

"So, uh, with that in mind." Ei cleared his throat. "Want to, uh, get some dinner? Maybe a movie too? Something not so, uhm, physical?"

"I'd like that." She hesitated again, then asked in a quiet voice. "But what about the whole stations thing?"

"Well, I suppose a Captain could simply be at the same place as a Specialist, but even then, you're not REALLY a specialist or anything like that, so..." Ei tried to think of ways he could get around the system and avoid that damned perception rule.

"I think that'll work, but for now..." She stared, grinned, and pinned him to the ground. And with that, she kissed him, deeply. Ei returned the kiss, reaching up to stroke her cheek with one hand, the only witnesses unseeing statues that were otherwise sentient, multiton weapons platforms. Ei felt alive in a way he hadn't before.

Shiori snuggled with him for a moment, before rolling the both of them around so that he was the one laying atop of her. "More comfortable this way I think." With that, she pulled him into a full on hug, his head even with that of the sports top. Ei settled in, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around her. He didn't want it to end, at all.

The two of them laid there for a few minutes, before Shiori sighed. "Come on, we gotta go. Lest someone catches us like this?"

"I almost wish they would." Ei said, rising then holding his hand out to help her up.

"Hehe, be a bit of trouble, I think." She took his hand, and Ei found out personally just how much she seemed to weigh. "Let me get re-dressed, and I'll meet you outside the base gates? That way we don't leave at the same time."

"I'll slip into something less military. That sound good?" he asked.

"Uh-huh! I'll do the same." She grinned again, and made her way out of the hangar after getting her fatigues back on, a spring in her step and a swish to her tail.

"Let's hit the barracks first. I'll go up and change then leave and wait in the parking lot. Otherwise, some people might get ideas." he cautioned. "Still have to keep up appearances, right?"

"Absolutely." Ei led Shiori back to the barracks, making a beeline for the officer's berthing on the third floor and Shiori to the second. Lieutenant Crowley was sitting at a table and reading John Grisham. Pierce was still posted on the weapons in the ad hoc armory, which seemed to have shrunk. They had finally found room in the base armory for most of their explosives, but the automatic weapons were still stored in the barracks.

"Long day, huh, Cap?" Crowley asked as he turned a page.

"Something like that. Going out tonight." Ei said as he shed his uniform and opened his ditty bag. He pulled on a pair of khaki BDU trousers, his Garrison boots, and a plain, black t-shirt. Over it he put on his Black Water hoodie. While he had been digging for clothes he found his sidearm and looked at it, the M-1911A1 still in it's concealed carry holster. He decided against taking it. Not like he was going to need it off base. Finished, Ei ran downstairs, heading out to the parking lot to wait. He felt nervous about what was to come. Just pre-date jitters, he presumed.

---

After a short while so that Ei had enough time to get ready and out, Shiori came up to meet him. She wasn't dressed TOO fancy, but she definitely looked a lot better in her t-shirt (plain black) and very pretty skirt (matching black). No heels, but very complementing tennis shoes that somehow managed to look right on her. Her tail gave a nervous twitch from time to time. "S-so, you ready?" To add to the effect, Shiori had let her hair down. Way down. Right above the base of her tail down.

"Yeah... I'm ready." he replied, looking her over. "You... didn't borrow that skirt from Corporal Hannigan, did you?"

"Nuh-uh. It's one of my own." She giggled "I know what you are thinking. Sister gave me that knapsack I brought. It uses some sort of British developed technology to fit more stuff. I got all week's clothes and then some in there."

"Huh... Think it could fit more than my ditty bag?" he asked, walking her to the base gate. They'd had to pass the exchange on the way out. A certain sniper saw them as he left the phone center.

"Now this is interesting..." Hayden mused as he walked out to where his dirtbike was parked. He kick started it and rode it out to the hangar where their Lancers were stored, accessing it via the side door.

"Sturm, wake up!" he shouted, walking up to his machine. The AI lit up at the sound of his pilot.

"Ugh... I was dreaming of electric sheep..." the sniper type groaned as Hayden climbed up the machine. He found that Shiori had cleaned every inch of the place, at least of garbage and actual mess. Personal stuff was left alone.

"Whatever... You got links with any drones in the area?" he asked, dropping into the cockpit and flipping a few switches.

"Four Predators and a Keyhole, why?" Hayden used the hatswitch on his left control stick to zoom in on one of Yokota's gates.

"Because our Captain is going out with a certain cat lady."

"Hayden... spying on that sweet 'cat lady' is not a very nice thing to do." Sturm said, admonishing him.

"Since when have either of us been 'nice?'"

"Point taken... Where are they going?"

"Let's find out...." Hayden said, putting a tag on Ei and Shiori so he wouldn't lose track of them.

---

The rest of Shiori's days on base passed without much incident. The mechs ended up completely cleaned, with Shiori and Joey gaining access to a couple of the Hammerheads that absolutely needed work on them. Dani kept a close eye the whole time, to make sure Joey didn't get squished.

Marches were made, orders were barked, the Wii was played, muscles were oiled. Khukov yelled at some people, Ei calmed them down soon after, and Hayden pretty much kept to himself. Sergeant Major Mackall rotated Stateside, just as Major Wylder had said.

In the mean time, the two new lovebirds (lovecats?) went about their supposedly secret dates. Once a night, over the course of three nights, leading up to Shiori's last day.

Ei wanted to pull out all the stops. A really, really nice and productive steak restaraunt that served cuts big enough for the both of them. He kept it a surprise as long as he could, and because of that, he ended up taking her there with her in a very sexy mini-skirt, matching top, and very nice shoes. She had even rolled up her hair to look nice too. Ei, after consulting Pierce and being admonished for the stereotype that all gay men were fashion experts then seeing a stereotype be reinforced, was wearing a pair of khaki slacks, dress sandals, and a powder blue, button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up. The only thing military on him were his dog tags.

"Targets are still in the eatery, say again, targets are still in the eatery." Hayden reported. He had moved Sturm to one of the fighting pits, Sniper Howitzer equipped. When the Major found out what was going on, no thanks to the PFC Underground, he turned the platoon's peep show into extra duty. The platoon had been put on rotation for a Quick Reaction Force in case something went awry while Ei and Shiori were out in town.

"Topp copies." First Sergeant Topper replied over the radio from the back of their Stryker. It had been decided that the Stryker and the MATV-X were to be used to haul the QRF out instead of the Brads. It was easier on the roads and easier on the tracks of the IFVs.

Back with the couple, the pair were leaving at long last, having driven one waiter up the wall with their orders. It wasn't their fault; they happened to get the waiter that didn't like waiting. "Well! That was, hehe, interesting. Did you see how big his eyes got when we ordered the 72s? And two of them?" Shiori gigglefitted mightily "Ohhh, as much attitude as he gave, he kinda deserved that tip, eh?"

"Yeah. Though you really should have let me pay. I'm the one on a Captain's salary." Ei replied, hooking her arm as they walked along, unaware that four RQ-9 Predators and a KH-11 KEENAN "Keyhole" satellite were watching them. And a sniper in a Lancer. And an entire platoon...

"Nuh uh, we agreed, and tonight was my night. And don't you worry about my budget, I am very good on that front, buster." She giggled again, and gave him a slight hug. The two walked in silence for a bit, simply enjoying each other's company. After a short while: "Wanna head to the park, and just walk around? I hear it's pretty nice and calm at night."

"It is. It's almost too perfect." Ei replied, looking up at the sky. Had he been able to then he might have seen...

---

"Oh shit, he's looking at a drone right now..." Hayden reported.

"I hardly think he can actually see it." Jenks chimed in. The Major had been watching from his ad-hoc office in the hangar on a laptop. He had Command First Sergeant Khukov sitting ready alert in Georgi for the night, a full weapons payload fitted to the super heavy war machine.

"Never know with his eyes. I'd rather err on the side of caution." Hayden said. He took a sip of coffee. The first night he'd taken post in a fighting pit a pair of base Utahraptor Lancers had challenged him, the pilots asking why he was out there. He had explained that his boss (Major Wylder) was paranoid and wanted him out in the fighting pits on watch. They never bothered Hayden again.

"Situation still normal. Maintaining overwatch." Hayden reported. "Ah, to be young again..."

---

Arm in arm, the pair made their way to the park, smiling and joking along the way there. "...And did you see the way Dani glared at Sturm? And here I thought she wasn't fond of me!" Shiori giggled mightily, tugging him to the right to get on the park path. "Hooo...least Joey's taking the, ah, new assignment well. Never thought I'd see a warmech dance like that though, even with what I can put them through."

"You should see the dexterity tests at Fort Irwin. They put the kibosh on it when a Ridgeback popped some servomotors doing the Charleston." Ei said with a laugh. "I asked them 'what's next, the foxtrot and the tango?' Sure enough, they were actually considering that."

"Pft, clearly they didn't know what they were doing." Shiori giggled even more.

"I think alcohol was involved. Maybe. I stopped asking what the brains at SDI do a long time ago."

"Pft hehehehehehe!" She was definitely super giggly now. "Not exactly the most indicative of na-"

"Eikeichi Ramirez-Kisaragi." Came a voice from the shadows nearby. Shiori and Ei paused and turned to it. "Prototype of the Advanced Land Warrior program; incomplete. Pilot of a Lancer, also known as Archetype. Abilities known to include implanted HUD and minor regeneration. White boxer briefs with red heart pattern."

"What the hell...?" Ei muttered under his breath. Shiori's eyes narrowed with her ears going flat. Something didn't feel right about this.

There was a pause, and the voice resumed from the other side. "Advanced nanotech colony, currently known as Shiori. Host of a rare reverse-patterning of snow leopard genotype. Known to have been present at the explosion of an oil refinery in Arizona, along with one Lucius Ogilvy and a now-deceased vampire. Currently posing as Specialist Shiori Doe. Abilities known to be enhanced strength, major regeneration, occasional lactation, and theorised telempathy. Cat keyhole bra, white. No panties. Clean shaven."

And with that her bad feeling about the situation was confirmed, with the poor girl going scarlet in the process.

Normally Ei would have been overcome with a nosebleed. However his fight or flight instincts had kicked in, the computer grafted to his brain processing a number of possible courses of action. Not many of which ended very well.

There was a soft whirring/humming noise from the shadows, and a quiet but ominous *click* from multiple places around them.

The way the person spoke. The information, the undertone of threat. Something whizzed through Shiori's mind until the information clicked. She very subtly moved into a defensive position near Ei, determined to keep him safe. "Captain, this is not going to be someone to take lightly." She muttered as low as she could to Ei.

"You're telling me... My computer is telling me to run... and fast..." he replied, slowly taking a step back. Shiori reached back and caught him by the collar before he tripped a mine.

---

Unbeknownst to either, a certain sniper was already privvy to their plight.

"Platoon, Irene, Irene, say again Irene." Hayden called out. They had selected 'Irene' as the codeword for SNAFU. Immediately two fireteams headed for the MATV-X and the Stryker ICV. Agents MacIntyre, Pierce, and Rockwell piled into the MRAP. SFC Argus Donner and Specialist Henrietta Sutton crewed the Styker, with First Sergeant David Topper, Sergeant Rostok Ivanovich Karolinski, Sergeant Shuichi Kurosawa, Corporal Petro SWAT Officer, Corporal Dominic La Pointe, and Specialist Ernesto Switalski piled into the ICV. Both vehicles had fifty cals in the turret, however only the Stryker had a CROWS (Common Remote Operated Weapons System) mount. On the tarmac, Sergeant First Class Mahmoud "Goleb" al Husseini had been sitting in the back of Uber Hawk Five Two (the SDI Black Hawk), seconded as an SAR bird. One of the SDI operators, a former Pararescueman, was with him. The helo was spun up, waiting for clearance to take off.

"Got location, ETA... three mikes." Donner said as Sutton drove out of the air base gate. Most people got out of the way of the armored vehicle, however those that didn't were hit and pushed aside in very short order, the slat armor doing quite a number on car bodies.

"Alpha Raptor copies. Break... Khukov, standby on the flightline." Jenks ordered from his office. He could hear the footfalls of the super heavy weapons platform as it walked out onto the tarmac. Georgi had a full weapons load, especially that nasty GAU-8/B Avenger cannon. Any sensible person would run from it.

---

In the park, the two had frozen, not wanting to trip the mines that had been laid all around them. Ei kept looking to the left and to the right, while Shiori's ears had perked up, and were slowly listening around.

Then, suddenly, to their right, Shiori picked up the faintest noise of metal on metal. Recognizing a blade, Shiori whipped around, grabbed Ei by his waist and threw him skyward as the blade whirred past in mid-air.

"What the fuuuuuuuu-" he screamed as he was hurtled, before Shiori first made a feint towards the sound, and then bounced over the mines right before they exploded. Shiori glanced upwards, turning around as she ran to catcht Ei just before he hit the ground.

"-uuuuck....ow." He remarked as Shiori took a very brief moment to make sure he was alright. What few burns and shrapnel wounds she had sustained in the manuver were already healed or healing.

"Shiori, are you- LOOK OUT!" Ei saw the flash of silver before she did, and shoved her with his right arm. He tried to pull back when he felt the sharpest of pains he'd ever experienced. His HUD displayed a wireframe of his arm, missing the forearm above the elbow and displaying multiple errors and a decrease in combat efficiency. Shiori tried to get back to defend Ei again, only to be blown backward by an explosion at her feet.

Machariah appeared in front of Ei, regarding him with a quizzical expression as he held the polearm backwards; a new blade spinning in the jaws of the accelerator that had taken the place of the grenade launcher. "Fragile, dull-witted, barely above baseline. You made a poor prototype, physically."

"Like I said. Incomplete." Ei replied through gritted teeth, clutching at his wound.

Machariah reached out, lifting Ei by the neck. "Some of the research was of use, however, but technology was further advanced than you were permitted to know." He tossed the serviceman into the air, turning quickly to catch him with the blade of his polearm and twisting. There was a series of cracks as Ei crashed through the top of a tree, followed by an explosion as another blade slammed into him; exploding on impact and propelling him further.

New errors had popped up on Ei's HUD by the time he'd landed: Cracked ribs, a punctured lung, internal bleeding, concussion, neck stinger, dislocated shoulder... He was in poor physical shape by this point, even for a Land Warrior. The Nanomachines already went to work on stemming the flow of blood from the worst of the wounds, the amputated limb being chief among them. Internal bleeding and the collapsed lung were next on the priority list, however the dislocated shoulder would require manual resetting. Ei tried to look up, his vision blurry.

"Sh-shiori..."

Machariah reappeared next to Ei, stabbing the polearm down through his abdomen and twisting. "You're not super. You're barely even a soldier. Louder."

"F-f-fuck... y-you..." Ei managed to snarl.

"Then die." Machariah kicked Ei in the crotch, sending him sliding across the ground and into a nearby tree before vanishing again.

---

"Jesus, need MEDIVAC immediately for Cap, maybe for Doe. He's out of the fight, she was literally blown clear. Wait, I have a visual, standing by." Hayden reported, having watched the exchange between some really roided out guy and the Captain. On the tarmac, Uber Hawk 5-2 had been given permission to take off, the helo heading out with all due expediency. The heaviest they had were a pair of Miniguns. "QRF, what's your ETA?"

"Two mikes." Sergeant Donner replied. Hayden wanted to do something. He really did; however, if he fired that Sniper Howitzer Sturm had, then there was a very high chance that he would hit Ei in the process. All he could do was watch and direct both the ground team and the SAR team.

---

Shiori's return to Ei was hampered once again, this time by a sudden hail of razor-sharp metal discs, and Machariah standing in front of her just as suddenly.

The snow leopard super soldier skidded to a halt, settling into a guarded stance. Her eyes had already shot back to slitted pupils, ears tucked back out of the way. Machariah closed, his polearm thrusting in to meet Shiori's abdomen. It sliced right the way through; the razor-sharp blade barely slowed by various internals. As his momentum carried him forward, Shiori's fists met his chest with a quick fluffy of blows that pattered off his armour. He twisted his weapon, tugging it out; the bleeding hole closed before his eyes. The exchange of blows continued; Machariah's armour became dented and bent by Shiori's fists, and Shiori's nanites healed injuries as fast as Machariah's weapon and fists could inflict them. The exchange ended with Shiori landing a punch to Machariah's face, sending him flying backwards through an innocent bystanding tree. As he left the melee, Shiori stood there stoically, her shirt and skirt torn to ribbons by the blade and discs. The moment she could, she made a beeline for Ei once more.

Hayden managed to catch the exchange, his eyes widening in amazement when he realized what he just saw happen. Shit, I got off lucky. Tear him apart, Hotlips.

---

"WHOAH!!!" Sutton shouted, bringing the Stryker to a halt as something flew quickly across her path. Donner had his eyes glued to the screen for the CROWS mount, panning to the right with the fifty cal. The thermal image was displayed in black, white, and grey.

"Hey, what the hell happened up there? I almost ran into you!" Rockwell said over the radio from the MATV-X.

"Had a fast mover just now." Donner replied. "Give us some room so we can disgorge our passengers." Slater shifted the MRAP into reverse, backing up to give the Stryker the room needed for the infantry to dismount. Pierce was up on the MRAP's fifty cal turret, behind gun shields and a machine gun that had been built in time to see action in Korea. Mac sat in the passenger seat of the MRAP, SOPMOD in hand.

"Alright, get ready to dismount!" Donner shouted, taking his eyes away from the screen.

"Sharde, take point with Kurosawa. Check your fire, we're in a populated area." Topper cautioned.

Support. Again, targets have it, I do not. Time to rectify that, albeit only one side. Machariah climbed to his feet, vanishing from sight as he set off towards the incoming vehicles. He closed the distance swiftly. A stab embedded the blade of his polearm in the front tire of the MRAP, allowing him to use it as a lever to leap on top of it, landing behind the gun mount. He lashed out with a fist as the thermal cloak shut down, steam venting around him as the blade extended from his armour into Pierce's shoulder. His other hand reached down to slice through the soldier's harness in order to haul him bodily out of the vehicle and head-first over the side. Machariah dropped down through the gun mount, twisting to swing himself along the length of the troop compartment, blocking the door as it opened and snapping his polearm back out to length.

---

Back where Ei had landed, Shiori found him lying against a tree, unconcious. She wasn't trained to be a field medic, but she knew enough to help. She pulled off some of her now-ruined clothing to help staunch the bleeding, in the few places he still was. As she was about to reach down to touch his cheek, she heard another explosion and rapid gunfire. Support? That quickly? They musta been watching us. They'll be torn to shreds by that monster.Shiori stood up and started to walk away, pausing just a moment to look at the somewhat stabilized Captain. "I'll be back. Don't give up on me," she whispered, before jetting off towards the battlefield.

---

"CONTACT!" Sharde shouted, firing his machine gun full auto. He'd seen Pierce yanked out of the MRAP as the Stryker's rear ramp lowered and been thrown aside like a ragdoll. Kurosawa was at his side, sighting in his rifle before taking his own shot at Machariah.

"GOD DAMMIT, WE'RE STILL IN HERE!" Mac shouted over the radio as bullets pinged off the MRAP's armor. Rockwell was trying to muscle his door open, with no luck.

"Ah, shit... Mac, he's gonna try an' sashimi us." Slater said, eyeing the polearm.

Machariah grinned, switching sides of his weapon and releasing a burst of the razor-sharp discs into the vehicle, sending them bouncing from the walls before following them up with an explosive one. Chaos sown, he reached up and swung himself around the hatchway, slapping the door control on his way out. A few steps over the top of the MRAP, and he was able to leap towards the Stryker's ramp, firing discs as he went. Sharde took the brunt of the discs, staggering him back before the tip of the polearm penetrated through his armour. A twist flung him aside, trailing blood until he hit the front of the other vehicle.

"You are incidental, and expendable." Machariah commented as he charged, the close confines of the vehicle's interior giving his weaponry a distinct advantage.

"Sutton, drive!" Donner shouted, the Specialist throwing the 8X8 AFV into gear and slamming her foot on the gas. Switaslki, who had been trying to drag Kurosawa in at the time, fell out and into Machariah's path.

"Everyone out!" Donner shouted, Rostok and La Pointe jumping ship while the Stryker was still in motion. Rostok had a bulky looking weapon hanging off his back.

"Switalski, stay down!" Rostok called out as his weapon went cyclic, spewing bullets on automatic. La Pointe, in the meantime, got set up for a grenade shot.

Machariah stepped out, sliding to a halt as the rifle rife struck the vehicle around him. He turned and charged again, ignoring what bounced off his armour and the small wounds caused by what missed it. He closed quickly; grabbing Rostok's M16 from his hands, swinging it and it's wielder into La Pointe by way of the sling. La Pointe's grenade shot went wide, the 40mm HEDP round landing on, and toppling, a tree when it hit. Machariah then turned back to Switalsky and Kurosawa, his polearm swinging down to stab through both of them. After tugging the weapon loose, he fired a pair of explosive discs into the back of the retreating stryker, and another at the remote weapon station on top.

"Got mass casualties, say again, got- SHIT!" Topper ducked as he tried calling the Major, the discs hitting the stryker.

"CROWS is out, heaviest we got is in the MRAP." Donner shouted back.

"Say again, Topper, I lost you." Jenks called back.

"Three dead!" Topper shouted back.

---

Georgi was hooked up and winched skyward, slung under the Chinook Chief they had procured for the off-the-cuff surveillance turned fight for survival. Jenks was hoping Khukov wouldn't have to fire a shot. If he did, then more's the pity.

"Topper, got backup inbound, just hold out."

---

"Hold out, he says... Weapons free guys!" Topper announced. Unfortunately the only guns he had left were his M-4 and Petro's M-16. And...

"Backblast area clear!" Rockwell shouted from atop the MRAP, SMAW on his shoulder. He had extricated himself from the MATV-X through the ring turret, Mac trying to do the same, hindered by a sling getting caught on what was left of the fifty cal.

The Shoulder-fired Multipurpose Assault Weapon was meant to be used on hardened targets, like tanks and bunkers and mecha. Super soldiers were just as fair game, the rocket leaping from the launch tube and screaming Machariah's way.

Machariah simply sidestepped the rocket, his arm matching speed with it briefly to nudge it aside and send it screaming into the MRAP. He then vanished once more shortly before the explosion, heading back to Shiori.

"Oh shit..." Rockwell muttered, falling backwards and knocking Mac back into the crippled MRAP. The rocket struck the bonnet of the truck, tearing armor plating away and igniting engine components, along with Sharde who hadn't moved since being flung there. Rockwell tried pulling himself from the ring turret. "Mac, I hate to say this, but I'm stuck!"

"No shit! Your fat fucking ass is going to get me killed, I can't believe how fucking fat you are, you fucking fat fuck! FUCK!" the former Delta operator shouted as he tried pushing the former Marine out.

"I'm not fat, I'm just big boned!" Mac kept pushing as a helo drew near. Topper looked up and saw the lights of a Black Hawk flying low overhead.

"Petro, deploy strobe! Rostok, La Pointe, report." the First Sergeant shouted out as the helo orbited overhead.

"Rostok landed on my giblets..." La Pointe moaned, the junior sergeant not moving.

"Get me... a can of hash... and vodka... and I'll be fine..." Rostok said. Pierce had finally rejoined the unit. He'd packed his shoulder with gauze and had poured a coagulant pouch into the wound.

"Some support we turned out to be..." he mused, looking at the chaos before him, punctuated by the thump of rotor blades from an approaching helo.

---

Barreling through the park, Shiori made her way to where the explosions and gunfire started. She was brought sharply to a halt as her legs from the knees down parted company from the rest of her, followed shortly afterwards by Machariah appearing behind her. As she slid to a halt, Machariah struck again, neatly severing her arms with his polearm. "It is time to test your regeneration. Prepare yourself." He grinned his pointy-toothed grin again and started to lay into Shiori once more, stabbing and slicing at her torso.

This came to a halt as a foot caught him under the chin. He flipped backwards with the momentum, landing neatly on his feet to see Shiori's arms reform, along with the gashes in her torso.

Shiori clenched her reformed hands, glared at where the assailant had landed, and decided This is gonna be someone I can't hold back against. Time to see what all my training can do.

Machariah caught her look and struck first; slicing through her side. The spray of blood and gore quickly turned into black nanite goo, running back to her along the ground as he readied for another strike. The strike was interrupted, however, as Shiori caught his supporting leg with a snap kick, knocking it out from under him on the soft grass. In the split second that he spun in the air, Shiori whirled around and snapped another megaton force punch square in his chest, collapsing the armor and sending him rocketing through the park. The resulting sonic boom upended yet more innocent trees and a light pole.

Machariah climbed to his feet, reaching out to set a broken arm with a nauseating crunch. All that energy has to come from somewhere. Prolong the fight, and she will run low. However, so will I. Conclusion? He was hit by another punch, sending him sliding backwards as he caught it. Conclusion: Attack first. Keep her healing. PAY ATTENTION. He blocked the next punch with his blade, twisting it slightly to deflect her arm as it was bisected from the knuckles back. He sidestepped the next blow, twitching his blade to sever the limb reforming around it before twirling it around and spraying razor-discs at her. As they sliced through, he struck again, using his superior reach to deflect her strikes as they came, reaching a stalemate as she regrew limbs and threw strikes as fast as he could amputate, a constant flow of black goo returning to her from where they landed.

---

The First Sergeant was about to attempt contact with base when Hayden's voice suddenly blared across the radio.

"Specialist Doe is actively engaging the enemy! Say again, Specialist Doe is actively engaging the enemy!"

"Copy that, Sarn't. We can't spare bodies, got three KIA, one WIA, and another two stuck in a burning MRAP." Gunny Rockwell popped out of the turret at that moment, followed by Mac scrambling out then falling over the side of the crippled truck with a dull thud. "Cancel that last one."

"You misunderstand. She is at even keel with the bastard. Hells, it looks like she's winning!" He squawked back, going silent as he paid witness to the fight, even as it progressed further through the park and away from the smoking vehicles.

---

The stalemate was broken along with his polearm as Shiori headbutted him, snapping it in half. The loss of balance gave her the upper hand, allowing her to drive him back A second flurry of projectiles was cut short by the launcher being broken over Machariah's head, followed by a nearby park bench. The fight continued until Machariah sliced up through Shiori's chest, impaling her heart. with the blade of his truncated polearm. The small window this granted him was enough to tug it out and slice sideways, beheading her neatly. The flow of nanite goo stopped quickly, the streams casting around as if looking for a target.

Machariah grinned again, drop-kicking Shiori's head over a hedgerow before slicing her body into a few pieces and vanishing from sight once more.

---

"'Hawk fife two on station. Get ready to jump!" the Black Hawk pilot shouted, Goleb and the Pararescueman standing by. The crew chief had the ropes kicked out in very short order. They'd used a strobe to find the hot zone.

"Copy that. Get to your overwatch as soon as possible." Topper replied, looking at the MRAP. SFC Donner had brought the Stryker's fire extinguisher out, using it to put Sharde's corpse out before dragging the body off of the still burning MRAP. He looked up at the Black Hawk and saw a pair of ropes dangling from it. Goleb and the Pararescueman quickly fast roping down.

"Where's the worst of 'em?" Goleb asked, the roped disconnecting from the helo and dropping away. The helo quickly peeled away, orbiting the site. Minigunners in the doors swept the ground, AN/PVS-7 night vision goggles displaying the world in green, white, and black to their eyes.

"Three KIA, no idea where the fuck Cap is." Topper replied. The Pararescueman had gone to check Pierce, changing his dressing and cleaning the wound before applying a clean dressing. "Killing Machine, you see where Cap landed?

"I am seeing trees and poles getting tossed around like twigs up here!" The pilot called out over the radio. "What the hell are we engaged with?"

"Uber Hawk 5-2, do not follow, say again, do not follow them." Hayden cautioned the pilot.

"Five two copies." the pilot said, turning back to cover the soldiers as a Chinook Chief arrived on scene. The heavy lift transport hovered over a clearing before disengaging transport and heading to a holding pattern. Georgi moved trees out of his way, flood lights illuminating his path.

"Halfback on station. Establishing perimeter." Khukov reported in. Rostok and La Pointe had finally gotten back to their feet, Goleb seconding them to help look for the missing Captain. They were going by flashlight, scouring the ground and trees for signs of him.

"Oh... merde..." La Pointe stopped where he was and reached into the brush. "I... uh... I found an arm..."

"I found the body it goes to." Rostok said, lighting up Ei's motionless body. He was slumped against a tree, in terrible shape, courtesy of the assailant that had killed Kurosawa, Switalski, and Sharde. The shards of clothing Shiori used glistened in the light.

"Jesus H. Christ." Goleb mused as he crouched over Ei and checked for a pulse. "It's weak but he's alive. Keep the light on him, guys." Goleb went to work. The surprising thing was how little bleeding there was. He couldn't have bled out, not this soon. Five minutes of work and Ei was strapped to a collapsible litter, Rostok and La Pointe carrying the stretcher to a clearing where the Black Hawk had touched down.

"Three KIA, two WIA!" Goleb shouted to the Pararescueman.

"Prep for transport to Yokosuka. Naval Hospital's been warned to expect company." the airman shouted

The radio crackled again. Hayden spoke in a rather subdued voice. "I've lost visual, say again, I have lost visual of Doe and the assailant."

"Right, all we can do for now. We'll wait for transport and fight it out if trouble comes our way." Topper shouted. He arrayed his able bodied soldiers to keep a perimeter. Any direction Khukov and Georgi weren't looking the infantrymen picked up the slack. Within thirty minutes the bodies of Sergeant Shuichi Kurosawa, Corporal Vincent Sharde, and Specialist Ernesto Switalski were loaded up into Uber Hawk 5-2. "Sergeant" Joel Anson Pierce was strapped into a jump seat, his right arm secured in place with a sling. Captain Eikichi Ramirez-Kisaragi had been loaded in on a stretcher, Goleb and his Pararescueman opposite working fervently to stabilize him, not knowing that they had no real need to do so.

---

Across the city, Machariah gave Shiori's head one final kick, her long hair flying behind her like a grotesque ribbon, banking it off a fire escape and a lamppost before catching it and slam-dunking it into a trash can. Unprecedented regeneration. Superhuman strength and speed. Still vulnerable to beheading.

---

"What's going on? Where did Khukov and Georgi go?" D4N1 asked the Major as he fished his eighth reserve bottle of Jameson out of a tool box. Joey had gone to stasis in Dani's cockpit again.

"The Captain is in trouble. I sent a QRF to assist him." Jenks replied, knowing that if Dani pressed him then there was a high probability that she would go for the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique right off the bat.

"I'm going out there. Ei needs me." she said, turning away from the Major and toward the open bay door. Her path was blocked by Armored Convoy.

"I cannot let you do that, D4N1. They're in a populated area. Three dead is already too high of a body count." Convoy cautioned. Jenks had taken the time to leave the hangar, sitting outside with his bottle of whisky.

"I'll go through you, Convoy. Don't stand in my way..."

"If you do this, then one of us shall stand and the other shall fall..." Convoy cautioned. There was a moment of silence, the two AIs sizing eachother up. Without warning Dani brought her laser blades to bear, Convoy grabbing her arms and holding her back.

"GET OUT OF MY WAY!" Dani shouted, pushing against her opponent.

"I... had a feeling you would do this... so I prepared... accordingly." Convoy snarled, Dani pushing him back a little.

"Yeah? Jus' how'd you do that?" Dani snarled back. Convoy said nothing, instead bringing the Typhoon Weapons System on his shoulder mount to bear. The chaingun opened fire, Dani faltering as a round struck her face. Additional rounds stitched down her right arm, disabling the laser blade mounted on the forearm. Joey squeaked in terror at the sounds that bolted him awake.

"I told you once before, D4N1, I'll tell you again." Convoy said, bringing a GBR-14 Battle Rifle with a bayonet mounted to bear. "Super prototype or not, I will put you down if I have to!" Convoy rushed Dani, screaming, and jammed the bayonet into her core, swinging her around and throwing her out of the hangar. She took part of the door with her on her way out, landing and rolling very hard. The poor spider in her cockpit pinballed around, one of his back legs snapping off in the process. Convoy stepped out then broke into a run, charging the fallen Lancer. He fired off his boosters and struck her with a Boost Charge, pushing her further from the hangar.

"This is a stand down order. I will not hold myself back if you get back up." Convoy shouted. Dani heard him but wasn't listening as she struggled to rise. She was trying to bypass the lock on the Firestorm Defense, to no avail. Joey kept squeaking at her, asking what was going on, but he recieved no response.

"I'm... I'm not gonna... not gonna let... let you... stand in my way..." she managed, trying to stay on her feet. Her cockpit displays were showing multiple errors in the gyrostabilizers, a coolant leak, servomotor arrays in the legs and right arm, and the very much shot to shit laser blade in the right arm. Convoy stowed the Battle Rifle on the rotary hangar and walked to a HEMTT crane that was parked on the tarmac. He grabbed then ripped the crane boom free, upending the 8X8 truck and casually strolled toward Dani. She fired up her remaining laser blade, making a very weak attempt to slash at Convoy. He bludgeoned her with the improvised weapon, striking her in the head and core several times until she keeled over. Her unintended passenger was bounced around some more. He tossed the crane boom aside, pacing around her.

"I rise, you fall..." he sneered as her optics went out, her systems shutting down from shock and the coolant leak. Jenks approached the two, Convoy pulling his knife from a scabbard.

"Anie and Shiori are not going to be very happy with you." the Major said, as Convoy dropped to a knee and reached for Dani's head. "Convoy, what the hell are you doing?" Convoy stopped.

"I have this compulsion to take her face..." he said, sheathing his knife. By now base personnel were racing for the tarmac, alerted by the gunfire from Convoy's chaingun.

"Convoy, this is why I don't let you watch Revenge of the Fallen. You wind up wanting to take the faces of enemy mecha that you take down." Jenks said, rubbing his temples. It was now that the tiny spider crawled out of the cockpit, carrying his broken leg. Despite this, his first concern was Dani and what just happened. He kept chittering around quizzically, at everyone around mech or otherwise. The Major regarded Joey, walking up to the fallen weapons platform and reaching out to pick him up.

"This wasn't easy, Joey... She isn't known for holding back, especially when she has a combat load. Fortunately that wasn't the case." he said to the spider bot. Joey simply chittered in confusion. From the look on his face, he just didn't understand what happened. He hopped out of the Major's arms, nabbed his leg and went about repairing himself. Once he finished, he made his way to Dani, clearly intent to start on her next. The moment Joey got to her, he hopped onto her mainframe and started to work.

---

Summary:
Shiori actually obtained a shrubbery.
Killer robots go down for naptime.
Shiori spars with Ei, and accidentally seduces him.
Ei asks Shiori out to, uh, dinner. She accepts! Go Ei! Go Shiori, too!
Mech work in the days, dates in the evenings.

Big Date, with steak and everything.
Out to the park for a Moonlit Walk.
Okay, more of a streetlit walk because major city, but take what you can get.
Spied on by the NPC crew.

Dancing mecha are banned!
Ei's making progress, and then...

EIKEICHI RAMIREZ-KISARAGI. SHIORI. MACHARIAH. FIGHT!
Ei: White boxer-briefs with red hearts on.
Shiori: Cat keyhole bra, white. No panties. (Lewd!) (Blame Lola)
Oh, and there are claymores everywhere.

SCRAMBLE SUPPORT!
Hayden's been spying the whole time, and summons more backup.

The fight begins, with Shiori throwing Ei out of mine blasts.
Machariah taunts Ei a bit, before throwing him around and knocking him around with his new polearm.
It's got a Ripper from Unreal Tournament in the back end, now!
As super-soldiers go, Ei isn't very super, so Machariah stabs him pretty badly and disarms him.
Literally disarms. He seems to like that trick.
Bionic arms are SO going to be in next season.
Ei is left to bleed while Machariah deals with Shiori.
MEDEVAC!

Brief exchange of blows with Shiori, enough for some serious clothing damage.
Ei's support arrives.
Machariah charges it, because that's what you do when caught unawares by vehicles with mounted machineguns.
Shiori stabilises Ei a little.
Machariah does his thing. Both mounted guns disabled, Pierce injured and unconscious, Sharde sliced with razor-discs, Switalski and Kurosawa turned into a shish kebab.
Close range rocket + Land Warrior = dodged rocket and burning MRAP, and Sharde's body blown to bits.

Shiori resumes the fight with Machariah, and gets the upper hand.
Shiori's healing faster than Machariah can damage her.
No support, due to people being dead and injured and on fire.
Shiori snaps the polearm and breaks the Ripper over Machariah's head.
He doesn't like having his toys broken, so he stabs her through the heart and beheads her.
Then kicks her head off like a football. What a jerk.

Helicopters appear, and Machariah disappears. You can't stab air support!
Ei is loaded up for evac.

Machariah plays football, Aztec-style. With Shiori's head. Then slam-dunks her into a bin.

Robots doing robot things.
Dani wants to go avenge, and is stopped.
By being shot and tackled.
<<

Skorpynekomimi

User avatar

Posts: 96

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Sat May 21, 2016 4:46 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Recruitment!
Location: Tokyo, around and about. And the Temple of Ping.
Timestamp: After the attack on Shiori.
Authors: Skorpy, Elle.
Characters: Machariah, Viola, an army of NPCs.


---

Roderic Wolff was, by all acounts, a very foolish man. In fact, foolish didn't really do it justice - it took real talent for a weapons manufacturer and businessman to piss off the yakuza enough to convince them to hire an outside group to deal with (read: kill) him, and get some security-related information off the body and his accounts afterwards. And just in case that wasn't enough, the idiot wasn't even taking any extra precautions to ensure his impressive ability to piss off the yakuza didn't lead to his death. He didn't even have extra guards!

It made Vi's job a lot easier, though. The man ran his life on a strict schedule, and after a week of scoping things out, she knew exactly where and when to strike. This was going to be a piece of cake - and it paid well, too!

"Target approaching, Boss," Em reported over her headset (she'd been tracking the movements of his cell phone, just to be safe), while Vi made herself more comfortable from her little sniper's nest on a rooftop.

"I got him," The Boss reported back, as his car rolled to a stop outside his current mistress' apartment building; she had him in her sights from the moment he stepped out of the vehicle. "Stand ready to move in, Sam."

"Roger," Sam confirmed; it was her job to recover the information from his body, after all - while Vi covered her, obviously, though he hadn't even bothered to bring any guards along on this particular field trip. Likely to make sure his wife didn't find out about it, but really, the man wasn't terribly subtle.

Then, for a brief moment, the world fell away; there was nothing but Viola, her target, and the rifle in her hands as she breathed in, breathed out... and took the shot.

Or rather, she would have, if the guy hadn't just dropped down dead without her help. And without his head, right arm, and a good chunk of his torso as well.

"What the fucking fuck?!" the purple-haired young woman ever so eloquently demanded of the universe. "Sam, stay back, that wasn't me!"

Machariah appeared behind Viola, as if out of nowhere, earning some alarmed shouts from her backup, and three guns pointed at him, even as Viola got to her feet. "Viola Winchester. Leader of the gang known as the Valkyries. Your target was Roderic Wolff; a relatively small bounty. Not worth the Principality of Sealand coming to bear on him except in passing." He dropped the man's head on the roof next to Viola, where it rolled around to stare up at her with an expression of terrified surprise. "Sheer black lace. Matching." He turned and pointed to the other two Valkyries on the rooftop. "Michael Bailey and Daniel Jones. Purple silk boxers, white cotton panties."

"Dude, not cool!" Dan objected, while Michael sniggered at him. All three guns, not to mention three sets of eyes, remained trained on the intruder, however.

"We aren't a gang," Viola coolly refuted, as if she encountered this sort of thing every day - including the creepy guy with cloaking technology and questionable knowledge of peoples underthings. She didn't, of course, but she'd always been an excellent bluffer. "We're a mercenary company. There's a difference. Now would you care to explain why you just stole the fun part of my job tonight?"

"You are not a gang, because you lack territory. I intend to acquire some, but require support and firepower. You would make excellent generals." Machariah stated, standing there as if there weren't guns pointed at him.

Viola let out a snort at that, albeit a quiet one. Why was everyone suddenly so interested in controlling her company? It was hers, damnit! Did the freedom to make your own choices mean nothing to these people? "Thanks, but no thanks," came her ever so polite reply; she was a businesswoman, after all. "We work on a case by case basis, and definitely don't accept long-term contracts. You're welcome to contact us with specific job offers, though."

"Very well. I want you to assist me in killing Skorpion. I believe you already know who he is." Machariah didn't move. "Is that specific enough to qualify?"

"Oh, very nicely specific, I like that," Vi the businesswoman praised. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to turn that one down, though. Sealand is about as crazy as a sack full of cats, and there isn't enough money in the world to get me to go after the maniac running that operation. Did you have any other jobs in mind?" Frankly, this guy seemed even more insane than Skorpion did, but that just meant it would be best not to antagonize him.

As a quick aside, she also used her headset to instruct Sam to move in and get what they needed from the now-headless body, and head back to the car they had waiting.

"Lucius Ogilvy. International terrorist, wanted by various organisations for various incidents, and various acts of meddling with the fabric of reality. He runs an academy nearby, and I wish for you to kill him. Permanently if possible."

Businesswoman or not, Viola really did almost laugh at that one. "Oooh, no, sorry. Do you have any idea how many warnings have been posted against that guy on the network? It's practically suicidal, and I'm really not into that," she apologized, before holstering her gun and setting about searching her pockets for something. "Tell you what," Vi finally added, as she managed to fish out a business card to offer him, "Here's our card. If you can think of any other jobs you might like to hire us for, just give us a call. Make up a whole list of them, if you like, and we can let you know what we'd be up for."

Machariah nodded. "I will contact you with a list. I would also like to offer a retainer to prevent you from being contracted against me." He produced a case from the depths of his cloak, offering it to her. "An energy weapon I acquired. I find ranged combat... Unsporting, so it will do better duty as a bribe."

"Well, I do love new toys," Viola confessed as she accepted the proferred case. There also may have been the faintest hint of a coquettish smile, just to help ensure things ended on a positive note. Because she really, really wasn't into the suicidal stuff, and everything about this guy screamed danger. "Very well, we won't accept any contracts against you."

Machariah nodded. "See that you do not. It will end extremely badly for your enterprise." He bowed, before vanishing again.

Viola promptly handed the case over to Michael to carry, and retrieved the rest of her things from the rooftop (namely, her favourite sniper rifle), acting as though nothing particularly interesting had happened. She even contacted Em, to let her know they were on their way back with the information she needed to hack into Wolff's accounts and finish the job. It was all very cool and businesslike, which meant it couldn't possibly last forever.

"Ahh, fuck," Viola finally complained as they made their way back to the car, earning a grin from Michael. She was going to have to warn Sealand now, wasn't she...

---

"Why yes, I am aware that there's a maniac out to kill me." Skorpion remarked. "Did he tell you to join in, or did he attack you?"

Vi rolled her eyes. Or rather, her image on the screen before him did (same thing, really). "He's recruiting," she informed, that pretty much being the entire point of the warning. Of course Skorpion would already know the guy was looking to kill him. "I'm not stupid enough to take him up on the offer, but there are plenty of others who are." She paused a moment then, before adding, "He also wanted us to kill Lucius Ogilvy. Permanently, if possible." Because of course there would be a connection there, and so long as she was doing the warning thing...

Skorpion rolled his eyes. "Of course he's trying to outsource it. He tried to do it himself once, and didn't succeed." He paused, considering something. "While we're on the subject of warnings, however, I suggest you stay the hell away from that contract. I know there are warnings a mile long about him, but if you attack him or anyone or anyTHING he cares about, you will not survive it. You will risk serious injury just being near him."

"Oh please, like I'm stupid enough to try for that bounty," Viola remarked with more than a little condescension. "You might be a crazy despot, but even you don't have that many warnings surrounding your name - most mercs would rather try going after you first." Of course, most mercs were also idiots, in her book. "My point is, he's recruiting, and not just to get at you. Now can I please get back to my evening?" Michael was waiting to play some co-op Saints Row IV with her, after all - and with a few much needed drinks, too. And she wasn't even getting paid for this, after all (mind you, that was also what kept it from being a direct violation of her agreement with the crazy not-despot).

"One last warning; if I find you're working for him, I'll kill you myself." Skorpion hung up to let that sink in. "Bloody mercenaries these days. What happened to the old days, when you could just buy people out?"

"Boss, we never DID that. We just shot them if they refused to sign exclusive contracts."

"Strider."

"Yes boss?"

"Don't step on my nostalgia."

"... Yes boss."

On the other end of the broken line, Viola was rolling her eyes again. "Please. I don't work for crazy people."

---

"<We must end this menace once and for all! The communist, the jew, the kemonomimi, the metahuman, the otaku, the factionist, and all foreign influences on our culture! This country shall become great again!>"

The crowd roared as the man stepped down from the podium, bowing politely to them and exiting the stage. His entry to his dressing room was blocked, however. He stepped back and frowned at the obstruction. "<What? What is the meaning of this? Do you not know who I am?>"

"<Oh, I know exactly who you are.>" Machariah responded, looking down at the man. "<You are a leader. You have power, you have authority, and most importantly, you have control over the loyalties of many. Yashano-sama, I come to you with an offer.>"

"<An offer?>" Yashano stepped back, closing the door behind him. "<An offer of what?>"

"<A chance to take down what you hate the most.>"

"<Pickled broccoli?>"

"<Factionists. The Kemonomimi Railroad. The Principality of Sealand. The continuing US military occupation of your country.>"

"<You can't do that. Not even the government can touch Sealand.>"

Machariah grinned. It was not a pleasant grin, because it involved a lot of teeth that had been filed to sharpness. "<The Railroad has been shut down. Sealand is in defensive mode; have you not noticed the increased activity? And the Americans will be leaving to lick their wounds.>"

"<... How do you plan on this? You're just one man. Admittedly, you're a very big man with a very big weapon, but you're just one man...>"

"<This is where you are required. You have an army of followers. I have the means and the resources to arm them. Military surplus equipment, liberated from storage. Advanced weapons from fallen factions. All I require is manpower.>"

"<You... You can't seriously be... >" Yashano trailed off, shaking his head. "<That's impossible.>"

"<It IS possible. I merely require your forces be trained and provided to my disposal. I will equip them, I will give orders, and together, we will topple Sealand.>"

"<If you're serious, then we're with you.>"

---

"<Redistribution of wealth?>"

"<From Sealand and the Factions to you, the people. Equality among equals. A true marxist-leninist utopia of the workers.>"

"<How?>"

"<We smash their capitalist system. Attack them where they are most vulnerable. All that equipment was paid for by the corrupt western nations, after all.>"

"<You're on. We'll provide all the forces you need.>"

"<Excellent. There will be some co-operation with other groups, but all for the good of the people.>"

---

"Coikey! That's a right bonza deal you're offerin', mate! Freedom AND new gear?"

Machariah fought the urge to roll his eyes. "Yes. All you have to do is escape."

"Croikey. That's a taller order'n a short stack of american pancakes! But yer on, mate."

"Go to Tokyo Tower when you're free."

"Yew mean the Tokyo Tower Memorial Tower, mate?"

"... Yes. Just get out and get there."

---

"<DIE, cishet white male scum! Check your privilege!>"

"<In the name of feminism, I will strike at you>"

'I've nae idea wha' ye're sayin', an' I donnae even want tae know.' Lucius grumbled at the... The group that surrounded him. That was really the best way to describe them, considering the mishmash of absurd fashions they were wearing, and the haircuts like parasites inhabiting their heads. 'Piss. Off. I'm busy. Classes tae teach, an' legitimate scunners tae hurt.'

"<HE'S TRIGGERING ME! I WAS ONCE ACCENT-RAPED BY A SCOTSMAN!>"

"<SHE'S TRIGGERED! GET THE CISHET SCUM!>"

The mob, minus one collapsed on the floor weeping uncontrollably, set upon Lucius. A short while later, Lucius exited the alley, leaving the fight to continue on it's own as insults and fists flew.

Machariah passed him going the other way, declining the temptation to plant a brick of C4 on the catboy's back. He regarded the mob beating itself up, turned, and walked away. "Some support is best left unacquired."

'Who said tha'?' Lucius asked, looking around.

Machariah continued walking. The Social Justice Warriors were, apparently, less effective than untrained civillians.

---

The Kimiko Fanboy Horde. The Yuki Liberation Front. The Kimiko Army. The Temple of Ping. All had fallen, in the times between one invasion and another. The Church of Miho had simply exploded, leaving behind a crater and a succession of nightclubs and craters and piles of rubble. But that was currently a sushi bar, so it wasn't worth looting. The others, however? The people had left, the idols had lost their lustre, the Story had progressed away from them, and they'd simply chained the doors and left.

Machariah, having intercepted a few containers bound for FGTL HQ, was not going to be stopped by a chained door. And so, he sat in a light tank outside of his first target, fiddling with the sights on the cannon. A few shots later, and the door was in pieces, the remains ending up in a small pile at the far end of the room. Machariah climbed out, continuing on inside. Outside sat a variety of work vans and small cars, emblazoned with various slogans proclaiming that foreigners should get out, or that wealth should be redistributed. He pressed on, ignoring the debates forming amongst them.

Workshops, storage rooms, dormitories... The building fit his purposes just fine. Which was unsurprising, considering it was a former faction headquarters. Soon, the trucks would be unloaded, power and water lines would be tapped, and phase two of his operations could begin.

---

"<SQUEEZE IT! SQUEEZE IT LIKE A NEWBORN KITTEN, DON'T GRAB AT IT LIKE A TEENAGER ON PROM NIGHT SEEING HIS FIRST PAIR OF TITTIES!>" The drill sargeant shouted from the walkway above the improvised firing range.

A second volley rang out, slightly more accurate this time.

"<GODS DAMN IT HARUKO, IF YOU SHUT YOUR EYES ONE MORE TIME I'LL PULL THEM OUT! AND HARANO! IF YOU DON'T GROW SOME FUCKING BALLS AND FIRE THAT FUCKING GUN I'LL CUT OFF WHAT YOU'VE ALREADY GOT AND REPLACE THEM WITH HARUKO'S EYEBALLS! IS THAT CLEAR, MAGGOTS?>"

There was a general terrified murmour of assent, and the third volley was fired. Targets disintegrated and fell apart.

"<BETTER! MAYBE I WON'T USE YOU AS TARGETS FOR THE NEXT BATCH AFTER ALL!>"

---

"<You can't just tap into a mains cable like hotwiring a car! You've gotta do things safely!>"

"<We don't have time for safe. Boss man says he wants it ASAP, and you've SEEN that look in his eyes.>"

There was a sigh, and the grapnel was swung again, this time contacting the power line with a burst of sparks. "<Fine, but if I fry to death up here, I'm haunting you.>"

---

"AARGHARBLGLUBGLUB"

There was a creak, and the flow of water shut off slowly. "<What?>"

"<WARN ME before you do that next time. I'm not a damn fish. Also, slower.>"

"<Oh. Sorry.>" The creaking sounded again, slower this time. The water flowed out slowly, a trickle turning into a steady flow, turning into a stronger flow. "<That enough?>"

"<Yeah, shut it down again and get the supplies. We'll solder on a proper joint there, and we can patch it into the plumbing.>"

---

"<What in the hells IS all this stuff?>"

"<Guns. They used to have a Stargate, after all. I'm guessing all these came from the other side of it.>"

"<Nice. Isn't this from a game or something? I've never seen a barrel this big before...>"

"<Probably. Don't wave it at me; that thing looks dangerous.>"

"<I can probably fit my head down it.>"

"<Dare you.>"

---

"<It's dark in here.>"

"<Well, yeah, why would they light the inside of a gun barrel?>"

"<I... I think it's stuck...>"

"<You idiot.>"

---

"<So Are you ready, men?>" Machariah asked from the podium. He was slightly wary of all the lights and open space, especially while visible.

"<I'm a woman, you sexist pig!>" Shouted someone from the crowd.

"<... People?>" Machariah tried.

"<Bigot!>" Shouted someone else, dressed in a robot costume. "<I mean, uh...> Beep beep beep!"

"Beings?" There was no protest there, and Machariah gave a small involuntary sigh of relief. Humans. "<From now on, your previous identities are invalid. You have no family. No previous life. No names. No friends other than those you make here. No identity. You do not exist, other than to serve the cause. And that cause is to tear down Sealand and the oppressive socio-capitalist regime that allows it to exist.>"

There were shouts of approval from the crowd.

"<We will take down the capitalist despot, and hang him from his towers. We will watch him burn, along with his so-called family. We will return this country to genetic purity! No alterations, no implants, no magical grafts.>"

More cheers and shouts of approval, building in volume.

"<Then... Then we will start on the mage. The magical girl, the witch, they will all burn. Their so-called magic is a blight on this world, and we shall end it!>"

The crowd roared it's approval, surging forward. Machariah held his hands up to calm them.

"<We will tear down the temples to false idols! We will kill their worshippers, if they will not turn to our cause! We will take this country back! It shall be ours once again, as it always should have been!>" He finished, the crowd erupting into a standing ovation, overseen by dark-visored figures holding stun guns around the edges of the hall. Machariah vanished from sight and stepped down, making his way to the cold server room he'd claimed as his own.

---

Devin Grayson. He is the major threat to my progress here, and he must be stopped. We also need more weaponry. I shall send someone to open the JSDF vaults once again.

---

"Hmmm. Large gathering of anti-meta purists, anti-foreign power purists, and anti-factionist purists." Devin pondered, tapping his desk as he watched the feed of people entering the Temple of Ping from a street camera. "Going by the diversity of the groups, I'd say that ironically they're being brought together by an outside source... I'm about eighty-percent sure it's Machariah." He guessed, memorizing every face he can. "Most I can do is rat the location of the hive to Skorpion and compile a hit-list consisting of everyone important. Might give the Valkyries something to make themselves useful..."

---

"Ugh," Viola let out a sound of disgust. This entire city was insane, she was kind of beginning to regret moving into the area. Possibly the entire country. "I need a drink." She promptly snagged one of her preferred beers, even while raising her voice to loudly declare, "WHO WANTS TO GO CLUBBING TONIGHT?!"

The rousing chorus that was the Valkyries' response made the answer pretty clear. Time to get changed, then.

---

Summary:

The Valkyries are on a mission. Aiming for a guy.
Someone else got there first just before Viola takes the shot.
What the fucking fuck? Oh, it's Machariah.
He greets the Valkyries in the usual manner. (Sheer black lace for Viola, Michael in purple silk boxers, and Daniel in white cotton panties.)
He wants to hire them to help take down Sealand.
HELL NO. They refuse to attack Lucius either; he apparently has warnings a mile long against him.
But they also won't take him down.

Yes, Skorp knows about Machariah.
They're staying neutral, dammit. They don't work for crazy people!
Strider, stop stepping on the nostalgia.

Machariah starts to gather forces.
Fascists!
The enemies of Japanese supremacy are Sealand and metas, not pickled broccoli.
The Social Justice Warriors are a step too far, though.

Communists!
Redistribution of wealth, from Sealand to them.

Electric Bruce!?
Just get out and he has work.

The Social Justice Warriors, defenders of minorities and divergent people everywhere!
Actually, no.
They're already busy attacking Lucius, and they're unstable nutcases.

So many old, dead factions. Ripe for the looting.
And he finds one that's just right.

Training montage!
Fixing-the-building montage!
Tapping plumbing and electricals!
Looting!

Machariah gives a Dramatic Speech, aided by thugs with stun-sticks.
Devin's identified as a problem.

Devin finds Machariah gathering forces in the Temple of Ping.

Viola goes clubbing.
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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Hyuuint

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 am

Post Sat May 21, 2016 11:54 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Guardian of the Academy.

Location: Lucius's Office, the Horse and Tabernacle Pub, The Academy (2 weeks later)
Timestamp: Some time after Arella's stabbing from the new Big Bad. Definitely after Bruce's Capture. Then two weeks later, after Johnathan's attacked.
Characters: Lucius, (REDACTED), Nick, JIllian, Tiffaney, Devin, Tali
Authors: Hyuuint, Skorpion, Oblivion, Elle-chan

---

It was a lazy Friday afternoon. The academy was closing down for the day, the spider-mechs were going about and fixing the multitudes of messes made by several of the magical girls. The recent pack of would-be graffiti artists were repainting a wall, having been caught that morning. Shiori was already gone for the day, having given Lucius the rather surprising news that she was being called back into her military forces for about a week, in about a week to boot. She had already set up a substitute of sorts (A Holo-Shiori) for the class so he wouldn't have to worry about the budget, and set up the curriculum for the period that she would be gone (Proper Non-Magical Defenses, and their applications). Arella had called earlier to give Lucius an update on how she was doing, and to vent her frustrations that she couldn't be there to cuddle him to pieces. Katrina finished up her own messes that she created, picked up Arella's slack on the Lucius-cuddling, and headed out for her own mysterious reasons to boot. Frankly put, the school was pretty much empty save for the detentioners, Johnathan guarding the detentioners, the spider-mechs, and of course the principal himself.

Lucius was doing his best to laze about in his office. He'd had a good day. Next to nothing in paperwork, the mess makers were caught and properly punished, no parent or guardian complaints. Arella was recovering smoothly, Sakiko didn't time warp anything, and best of all, no spider shocks to the tail. He still had no idea WHY they kept doing that, but he was starting to at least appreciate the fact that they had started saluting him in a respectful manner when they were able.

Content to simply enjoy the peace of the office before he set off to do his rounds, Lucius kicked back with a sigh. His legs up on the table, arms behind his head, chair leaning back far enough that he was in the perfect angle of comfort and danger of falling over. Yep, the immortal telekinetic catboy was comfortable. And just starting to doze off when something jerked him awake.

RING RING RING!

Lucius groaned, reaching for his phone. After a brief period of squinting and poking at it, he managed to pick up the call. 'Nyaow?'

"Lucius Ogilvy. Good afternoon. I have an urgent matter to discuss with you."

'I'm sure ye dae. I donna hae nae PPI, an' I donnae want tae buy nae insurance. If ye're a debt collector, ye've got the wrong number, an' there's nae an extradition treaty wi' Sealand anyway.'

"I am none of those. Frankly, I am surprised you don't remember my voice, considering the very long chat we had when one of my daughters nearly got disintegrated at that refinery."

Oh shit. Lucius jerked upright, chair teetering even more dangerously from the lack of support from his legs. 'It wasnae my fault!' Lucius protested. 'There was a vampire, an' I didnae ken he'd opened all o' the pipes the day an' filled the place wi' vapours! An' there's still nae extradition treaty wi' Sealand.' Lucius thought briefly, before scrambling under the desk to hide.

"Calm yourself sir. I'm not calling about that incident. I am calling about another, equally serious one that has cropped up recently." The General paused for a moment so that Lucius could indeed calm down. "This is about the new being that has recently emerged, with a penchant for targeting metas."

'Oh. The scunner tha' stabbed Arella an' blew me up?'

"Him indeed. Considering his MO, I and others feel it would be a matter of time before he decides to go not only after your school, but also a rather very noticeable super soldier in your employ."

'Aye, I had considered tha' possiblity.' Lucius replied from under his desk. 'I've been training the girls fer tha'; cooperatin' wi John an' Shiori tae drive him back while some o' the more offensive powers go fer his legs.'

"A good plan. The only problem I foresee is the fact that he already knows the extent of Johnathan's flaws and abilities, what with the sheer documentation that was made on the Land Warrior projects. Shiori would have been a more mysterious target, but save for the full extent of her healing, he may very well have gleaned what she can do as well. The students may not be as well known, but give him a few tries, and he'll likely figure a way around their abilities as well."

'He's weak agains' magic, an' this is a school full o' magical girls.' Lucius pointed out. 'He comes within half a mile o' the wee lassies, an' he's going down in a hail o' magic.' Ah, so that's where that pen went.

"For now. At any rate, we would prefer it if we were to send an extra level of protection for the school, as well as for my daughter there."

Lucius sighed. He knew where this line of reasoning was going. 'An' ye want tae send me another super-soldier tae help protect the girls from the maniac huntin' super-soldiers?'

"Indeed." There was some clicking, and Luicus heard a ding from his computer. "I have sent you an encrypted email about her."

Lucius hauled himself up from under the desk, his tail tugging the still-balanced chair over to him, and poked at the keyboard. It chirped. "You have five hundred and four unread E-mails!" It announced in an annoyingly cheerful voice. 'Ye problae did.'

"It'll be at the top. Short of it is, she'll be another one of the project that Shiori came from. Name's Jillian. Age twenty two, but she was stuck physically at the age of sixteen. If we could have her act as though she was a part of the students, and considering she both lives a very under the radar life and her files, along with her sisters, were never allowed outside of very specific channels...."

'An' I'm stuck wi' another student who knows more'n the staff.' Lucius sighed.

"Likely, but she's not an expert at everything like Devin or Brittany. She could use the interaction, though she may seem dour for a while. At any rate, her extra protection as a secret guard in the school could prove very useful." There's a tense pause. "And I do mean secret. The only beings I want to know about her real mission in the academy are going to be you, her, myself, her appointed handler, and Shiori. Shiori only because she'd recognize her anyways. The more we can keep the element of surprise, both for the maniac causing the problems in your city, as well as any other problems that might crop up like that Bruce character, the better."

'Donnae forget Devin in tha'. I've nae idea how he kens stuff, but ye're better off nae wastin' yer effort tryin' tae make him nae ken.'

"Very well. We can make an exception for him, but it must be stressed that he cannot tell anyone." There was a sigh on the other end. "Do you accept the plan?"

'As long as ye're payin' the school fees fer her, aye.' Lucius rolled his eyes; he may as well change the sign to 'Cute Magical Girls and Super Soldiers of Yuki-Sama Academy' at this rate.

"I will do you one better. As much as you dislike paperwork, her made up record will be added into the system. Name, abilities, all the usual boilerplate you have for your students completed. Further, you will find the school's account significantly buffed. Take a look."

Where was Devin when you needed him? Lucius prodded at the computer some more, his ears flicking up in shock. 'Croikey. I mean, uh, daaaang.' Lucius commented.

"There is another reason for why that amount of funds was added."

Aaaalways a catch. 'Why?'

"Lucius, in spite your history, refinery not withstanding, I and the others that have kept an eye on you through the decades have noticed a particular trend in your actions. You have been doing the best you can to save your parts of the world. A noble act, and one you continue to do. We appreciate your actions, you methodology overall, even if you do strain or even break the idea of legality from time to time. This is a way for us to show that appreciation, and hopefully in a manner that can help you inspire others to continue what you have started. To sum up: Thank you. Cristopher thanks you."

'The wee laddie I landed the UFO on when I stopped Hitler takin' over the world wi' alien technology?'

"Correct. Even with that incident, you saved him and his neighbors from a worse fate. He worked for years with the behind the scenes portion of the military, setting things up to properly show his gratitude. Unfortunately, he passed away about two years ago, but his trust fund was found recently, with explicit instructions. Most of what was added was from there. The rest were from the current group of people I am assisting." Another small pause. "So. Expect Jillian-turned-Felicity to be in your throng during the upcoming week. Shiori will be informed while she is on the nearby base."

'Aye. I'll prepare a cover story fer when the lassies see through the official one.'

"Thank you. So you know, her known abilities are much like her sisters. Strength, speed, endurance. However, there is one thing that is different for her."

'Is she the one wi' the legs?' Lucius asked.

"No. She was the only one to have the nanites settle in her torso. Unofficially titled Stomach placement." He breathed heavily over the phone. "We are unsure as to what specific ability she was granted, but we have noticed that she and two of her sisters, the other two with Chest placement, managed to keep their hammerspace capabilities. But she in particular seems to be the most adept with it. In fact, she seems to not follow the normal rules for the hammerspace, at least in terms of weight limits. Be aware of this."

Lucius chuckled. 'I'm used tae tha', laddie. Ye've nae seen wha' my grandmother keeps in her handbag.'

"I doubt what Jillian carries could compare to what your grandmother does, but then, I've seen enough of the world." Another pause. "Her living arrangements have already been set, to prevent any unwanted problems. Do you have any questions or concerns?"

'Aye. Warn her about Cathal. Wee lad's an accidental sneak-thief, an' controlled by teenager hormones.' Lucius chuckled softly.

"I will. Goodbye Lucius." There was a small pause, then the General Added: "Oh, and half of your bounty for other issues before have been rescinded due to recent events and evidence. Congratulations." The line went dead upon that note.

Lucius raised his hands in mock-triumph. 'Woohoo, half o' my bounty. Nae like anyone' been stupid enough tae try an' claim it fer years anyway.'

---

Across the world, on the outskirts of a small but thriving village in England somewhere near Newcastle, an American government official in his mid-fifties made his way up the path to the Horse and Tabernacle Pub. Right as he reached for the doorknob, a patron suddenly flew through a window, glass flying everywhere. Alarmed, the official hurried over to see if the man was alright.

"Howway, man! Don't go in there, like! She ain't what she looks. Don't mess with 'er, like!" the ex-patron exclaimed, before picking himself up and hightailing it away from the establishment. All the offical could do was sigh. Yep. She's here alright. With a shake of his head, the official turned back to the door and walked inside.

The evidence of a brief brawl was strewn about the room. A tankard smashed here, the bartender scowling as he cleaned up some of his spilled brew, and at the bar itself was a lone patron. Anyone else would have pegged for her to be the age of sixteen at best. A figure that seemed to be at the cusp of blooming, but still thin and slightly lanky. Whatever hair color she was before was eliminated by the shocking pink, teal, and purple coloration that pervaded it. The attire felt more appropriate for a stereotypical grunge rocker than that of the supersolider she was supposed to be, but Jillian didn't care. Nor did she care about the strewn bits of barstool that laid behind her. Jackass deserved to be defenestrated for hitting her with it and that was after he tried to hit her up. Creep.

"Nice to see you in your element, Jillian." The official remarked, taking a seat next to her. "You do know that the police are likely going to be on their way."

"No, no they won't. And if that dick does decide to squeal, I'll just tell them that he was hitting on me BECAUSE I look like a teenage prat."

Another sigh from the official. "You really ought not to be doing this, Jill. Not healthy."

"Pfft, don't give me that shit, we both know I ain't gonna be affected by this crap." She turned to the bartender. "No, no, yer stuff's some of the best I've tasted, figure of speech." The guy just gave her a gruff hrmph and kept cleaning up the bits of broken glass. "So what do you want, Nick? Here to take me in for questioning about Berlin?"

"We already know what happened, and while we appreciate you taking down that ring, there are better ways to-"

"Bite me. I know what ways to do it, and I did it my way cause it was faster. Besides, not a soul out there that doesn't agree that that bitch didn't deserve her fate."

"Ramming her face-first into a woodchipper is still a rather harsh way to go about things."

"Bitch was ringleader of how many people trafficking lines?" Jillian took a long draught from her tankard of beer. "So, yeah, bite me."

Nick could only put his hand on his face, with a lingering sigh. For years he'd been assigned to clean up after her messes, and while Jillian typically kept herself on the down-low, whenever she pulled crap like that and like what just happened, it always made his life more difficult.

"So if ya ain't here to put me in time out, what are you here for then, huh?" Jillian set her tankard down with a hollow thunk. "Barkeep, another one if ya would."

"Howway miss, ye've already had sixteen o'them, like."

"And I ain't had enough yet, so hit me."

The barkeep just gave her a look, then shrugged. She was paying good money, and she seemed to be keeping her word about holding her liquor, so... another tankard.

Nick used this time to pull out the file he got just the other morning. "You have an assignment."

"Pfft. Assignment? Me? The rogue girl, the one with too much of a chip on her shoulder? Seriously? What's it this time, another round of AA? Can't be addicted! It's impossible, no matter how much I try!" She pulled over the file anyways, her striking blue eyes reading slowly.

"It's a bodyguard position. Of a sort."

Jillian looked over the info silently. Her face grew darker with every line, before she set the papers down and massaged the bridge of her nose. "You want me. To go undercover. In a school. As a student."

"Not me. The General."

Jillian paused in her ministrations. It had been a while since she was able to get in contact with their father-figure within the project, but she beared him no ill-will overall. "Him specifically?"

"He was the one to come up with the plan to begin with." Nick tapped the papers again. "Other side has the reasons."

Jillian flipped it over, and read that side too. "....Hm."

"Things are getting bad over there. And if left unchecked, could get bad everywhere." Nick leaned back. "I know, you don't like using your....figure in any capacity, but for a place like this-"

"Yeah, yeah, I know, I'd fit right in, so long as I act like a bubbly headed brat."

"Nnnnot necessarily. Teenagers are far more varied than you give them credit." Nick put his arms on the barside. He knew what Jillian was thinking. She didn't want to use her...deformity, so to speak, but this is something she can't ignore. People who could be in trouble.

".....What's in it for me?" she asked, after several minutes worth of silence.

"We'll get you special permissions for off-campus living, your spending limits would be increased, and we'll see about getting your altercations in Lebanon fixed." Nick listed out.

"And I want an ID that doesn't suck for me to have." Jillian demanded further.

Nick drew a heavy breath through his nose. "Uuunfortunately, we can't do that. To make sure you are as believeable as possible, your ID is going to follow your cover...meaning you are gonna have to go dry for a while."

Jillian slowly turned her head, glaring with intense dislike at those words.

"Don't give me that look, young lady. Japan is a small, crowded area, and if one person were to see you doing your 'normal' activites, your cover would be blown in minutes. Or at the very least, you'd be expelled from the place we need you to keep protected."

"Fuck this. You already got Shiori there, why not-"

"Because Shiori is very likely to be high on this Machariah's hit list." Nick cut her off. "She's a good soul, we both know this, but unlike you, she was never one to keep under the radar, and she's already attracted a lot of attention to herself, good and bad. He seems to target supersoldiers and their friends, and with your project so under-wraps-"

"A target with her abilities and personality with that little info available to him would make her the perfect prey." Jillian finished for him. She sighed with a dramatic UGH and faceplanted onto the bartop. She kept herself the for several moment, her hair falling around her face and obscuring it. "Fine. Fuck it, fine, whatever. What are the rules?"

"They're in th-"

"If yer gonna come from out of nowhere and pull me off my European tour of town pubs, you are gonna waste your breath by repeating them." She responded petulantly.

Nick just gave her an admonishing look, one that she couldn't see anyways, and started.

"Your hair is fine, you'll be in school uniform during their hours, and you are to keep your nose clean. Cover is Felicia Townsend, American transfer student, whose magical abilities include increased strength, speed, healing, and most importantly, a hyper-expanded Hammerspace. You will be arriving at the school itself in two weeks, but you will be transported there as soon as possible to get familiar with your surroundings." Nick paused a moment, then grinned. "Your favorite activities are cheerleading, acrobatics, and tennis."

Without lifting her head, she turned to glare at the official. "You wouldn dare."

"Already been signed up, with the uniforms waiting for you."

"Dick."

"Think of it as taking your lumps for what happened in London."

"Still a dick." She went back to mushing her nose into the wood. "What else?"

"You are to be given the full extent of your armaments back, on the order to not utilize them unless absolutely necessary."

THAT made her perk up. "The whole thing?"

"Every last bullet you have hoarded, and we'll be granting you permission to wield Jackson once more. With a few tweaks and upgrades."

"......DEAL."

"I had a feeling that would cinch the mission." He reached into a jacket pocket, and pulled out a plane ticket. "Your flight leaves tomorrow morning, 9 am. First class. You, however, are going to need to follow the, ah, dress code starting with the flight. So this." He waved over "Is gonna be over for a while."

"Damnit, always a catch." She paused a long while. "....I did not want to be near Shiori again."

Nick put a hand to her shoulder. "I know, I know. But you are going to have to. You are the best person for the job, and the General and I have the full confidence you'll do swimmingly."

Jillian let the hand linger for a few moments before she shrugged it off. "Whatever. She just better not treat me like some kid."

"She'll be treating you like the other students, and she will have to." Nick admonished.

"Yeah, yeah whatever." Jillian scowled. Great, now I have to deal with Miss Perfect Body and Personality, with her lording the teacher position over me. Fuck my life. "Tomorrow morning eh? Will give me enough time to get my stuff-"

"Which has already been located, sorted, packed and stored in their respective locations." Nick said promptly. "You are gonna come with me to the hotel nearest the airport, and stay there for the night."

"Well, fuck, I don't even get to finish my time here?"

"I dare say you have already spent plenty." Nick chuckled.

"Bite me." She said yet again, this time punctuating her remark with a European bird-flip. She had gotten rather fond of the gesture.

Nick chuckled again, and patted her shoulder. "Come on, might as well get going. You're actually staying in a better place than I get. Kinda jealous."

"Pfft, whatever." Internally, Jillian was looking forward to wrecking room service. They won't know what hit them.

Jillian took a moment to pay off the bartender with three times the amount of what was owed, as well as for the cost of the window and stool, and the two walked out of the pub and the village entirely. The bartender just shook his head again. Those two were probably the weirdest patrons he had ever had. But at least she was rudely-polite about things. And Bill finally got what was coming to him for years.

---

It had been two weeks since Nick tracked her down. Two weeks since Jillian recieved her first official mission in years. In that time, she had vistied several hotels, put their room service through their paces, nearly thrown dirty old men out windows, some dirty old women too, checked out the city, saved a random passerby from a mugger, and scoped out every bar in the city only to find them ALL under some form of observation. While she was attempting to bar hop, she caught the news of one of the Largoist super people having been attacked by someone mysteriously bad, and having removed that Largoist's arm. Looks like General Dad was right about the attack happening soon. I'll have to be on guard around the school more than ever. Jillian thought to herself when she heard.

And now? She was in the uniform of the academy, swinging her legs impatiently, waiting on the principal of the place. And waiting. And waiting. Jillian had arrived early to make a good first impression, not an easy feat for her, and now HE was the one who was late. Her kicks got more and more perturbed as the minutes clicked away.

"So... What're you in for?" Asked Kawasaki, who was waiting on the other side of the door.

"Here cause I'm new. He told be be here now, am here now, now he ain't." Jillian frumped. "You?"

"I set fire to Lucius-sensei in cookery class." Kawasaki explained. "And my food, and Yakashima-san's food. And Yakashima-san as well. And I think Arella-sensei was smouldering as well when she put Lucius-sensei out."

"Ugh. Home ec class. I never liked home ec class." the new girl leaned back in her chair. "Always prefered shop." Her left foot tapped impatiently, causing her shoulder-length hair to bob. It was still the striking pink, teal and purple colors that Nick saw.

"That's fun too, but I'm not allowed to use anything with a motor any more. Lucius-sensei says he's sick of trying to heal me from accidents with them." Kawasaki pouted, a faint scar still visible across her cheek from an accident the other day.

"Pft, what fun is there in that? Things need to be bigger! Powerful! Revved up!" She gave a hrmph and glared at the door. "Is he gonna put me down on my fun too?"

"Maybe if you hurt people with it. But you sound like a Largoist..." Kawasaki peered at Jillian. "Are you a Largoist?"

"Nope. I'm just me."

"Aww." Kawasaki pouted. "I want to be a Largoist. It looks super fun, and they have allll the best toys! Robots and drones and tanks and aircraft and guns and explosives..."

"All that you say? Hmmm....maybe I ought to pay them a visit...." and claim a few of their toys for my armory. She grinned to herself, then went back to glaring at the door with enough intensity that it was surprising that it hadn't burst into flames by now.

"They don't take high-schoolers, though. I asked." Kawasaki pouted more, sparkles starting to form in the air as the magical cute common to all magical girls took hold.

'Lassie... Lassies.' Lucius cautioned, pointing at the 'no wibbling' sign on the wall. 'Heed the signs aye? Nae wibblin'.' He gave Kawasaki a Look, then turned to Jillian. 'An' who're ye, lassie? Ye're nae a student o' mine. Transfer?'

"Yeah. The really important transfer. The one that my father had to call you about, for general information." She noted with a bit of a huff.

'Och, aye?' Lucius nodded, before rummaging in the pockets of his jacket for the relevant information. After a short while (accompanied by Kawasaki giggling), he found it and consulted it. 'Ah, Felicia Townsend, aye? Very well, if ye'll follow me intae my office. Kawa-chan, ye go back tae class, y'ken?'

Kawasaki nodded. "Aye, sensei, I ken~"

Lucius smiled, reaching down to pat her on the head briefly. 'An' I'm transferrin' ye tae Arella's class fer cookery. Ye're tae much like a RAZian tae nae hae an extinguisher tae hand.'

Kawasaki pouted again, but stood up and headed off to her class, dragging her feet a little.

---

'So, ye're the top-secret guardian fer the Academy?' Lucius asked, canting his head and ears curiously. 'Undercover work, aye?'

"Yeah. That's me." Jill-, sorry, Felicia said with a slight sulk to her demeanor and voice. "Here to make sure the bimbotastic sister of mine, and yer students, don't get hurt too bad by the jerk who hunts us for sport. And whoever he picks up as cohorts."

'Tha'd problae be the local coppers, whatever prohuman scunners he can get tae ferget about his bein' a super-soldier, an' ultra-nationalist militias.' Lucius sighed, rolling his eyes. 'Ye a fighter, then?'

"Better believe it, fuzzy. I may not jump as high as my sister, or punch as hard as my sister, or run as fast as my sister, or distract people as well as my sister, but I have one thing on her that she can't touch!" She reached behind herself, and started pulling out weapons. One after another, gun after gun after mace after club after cattleprod after sword. Then came the ammo. Felicia only stopped when she figured the desk couldn't handle any more weight. "And this isn't including Jackson. I am a crack shot with these things, big or small, but you better believe I prefer bigger, badder, and more dakka'd explosions."

'Ye've got more crap in yer hammerspace than Arella. I'm impressed.' Lucius stated, raising an eyebrow and a kitty ear. 'Also, 'fuzzy'? Ye'll dae well tae stop wi' that if'n ye donnae want detentions.'

"Yeah, yeah, I know, keep my fecking nose clean when around the teens. But I ain't gonna give up my normal self in private." She hrmphed again, and started gathering up her armaments.

Lucius handed her a backpack stuffed with textbooks, stationery, a fire extinguisher, and a reserve parachute. 'Ye'll need this. Standard survival kit, an' resistance trainin' fer the lassies.'

Felicia took a moment to look through the bag. Her expression hardened, then softened considerably. "This...this is really happening, isn't it." The young woman remarked, softly.

'Aye, lassie. Ye're goin' back tae school, tae help protect my students from the madman super-soldier tha's huntin' my friend, stabbed Arella, blew me up, an' attacked Johnathan, our wrangler.' Lucius summarised.

She banged her head on the desk in front of her. "I really never like using... me as a reason to do this crap. Hate it." She gave herself a few seconds, before standing up out of her chair, and pointing at him threateningly. "You breathe a word of that scene outside of this office, I swear I will make you go through every technique I learned in the last few years."

Lucius nodded, holding up a hand. 'I'll nae tell nobody, lassie. Nae, ye've got English class wi' Arella next. Although Arella's still off sick from the stabbin', so Tiffaney-sensei's standin' in.'

"Right. Ok Anything I should be worried about, or...?"

'Magic. Lots o' magic. Kawa-chan's a danger tae herself, Tali's a wee troublemaker, Whisp's a troublemaker wi' pyromania an' a skeletal eagle, an' Elsie's weapons-grade cuteness.

"Greaaaat, just what I need, more cute people." She sulked harder, got up with Lucius' help (Just like with Shiori, she was heavier than she looked.) and gathered her stuff. "Well. Off to my assignment then. What're you getting out of all of this?"

'Protection fer my students, an' funding.' Lucius replied bluntly. 'I'm nae gonnae lie tae ye; runnin' a school is expensive. Especially when yer students hurl magic an' fly.'

"Gettin' off easy then. Lucky bastard." She glanced at Lucius' admonishing look, and replied "Yeah yeah, I'll keep a lid on the cussing, don't get yer kilt in a bunch." Felicia turned on her heel and walked out, the door clicking rather lightly despite her attitude.

Lucius raised an eyebrow as she left, an ear moving along with it. 'Hmph. Jus' wha' we needed. Another o' them 'sunders.'

---

"<Alright, class. Today we'll be having a new student, so let's not get too excited and keep our questions from being too much like an interrogation.>" Tiffaney said, the only part of her that made it clear she was still in magical form being her hair, ears, tail, and eyes; her outfit having been replaced with something more fit for a teacher.

There was a muttering of agreement from the class, and within a few moments of Tiffaney's announcement, the door swung open. In walked in a very definitely American teenager, who looked about sixteen years old, with striking blue eyes, and even more striking pink-purple-teal hair which clashed horribly wih her school uniform. "Hi. I'm here for the English class?" 'Felicia' asked, using a well-practiced 'younger' tone of her voice to help with the illusion.

"This would be the place." Tiffaney informed, something inside her telling her this was going to be more then the mild bother she initially thought. "Could you briefly introduce yourself to the class?" She asked, gesturing to the spot next to her. "How's your Japanese?"

"<Pretty good actually, my guardians felt it prudent to get me up to speed.>" Felicia responded back. "<I am Felicia Townsend, new girl in town, I specialise in hammerspace management as well as cheerleading and acrobatics, I tend to lift things bigger than I should be able aaaaaand I'd like to get to my seat, thanks.>"

Before Felicia could even take a step to her seat a hand shot up from around the center of the class. "<Where are you from?"> A student asked, that being the least personal question she could think of.

"<Colorado. Well, originally. We moved around a lot.>" Felicia smirked to herself. That was one of the few bits they put in her 'backstory' that was actually pretty true.

Another hand. "<Did you come here with your parents or by yourself?>" Another student asked as Devin watched Jillian from the back left of the class with the immense catlike amusement that he couldn't help but feel. He'd probably need to apologize for that later.

<No no, just me. I don't have parents to speak of, just my guardians back home is all.>" Again, another honest answer. Least they made it easy for her.

"<Are you going to live in the dorms?>" Another student asked.

"<Pft, no, my guardians wanted me AWAY from temptation, so they had me shacked up somewhere else under their supervision.>" She gave a dramatic sigh. "<I swear, it's like they don't trust me or nothin'.>"

"<That doesn't sound fun at all.>"

"<Do... Do you have a boyfriend?>"

"<Nope.>" Was all she said on that matter, and promptly went to her seat where she slung herself in and kicked back.

Tiffaney waited a few seconds before starting class.

As an English speaking person, Felicia was half-bored, half-exasaperated with the whole endeavor, but she at least paid a modicum of attention to what was going on. That said, she did notice a boy a few aisles ahead constantly trying to hide his glances back. But that look of his. That wasn't someone who was getting up the nerve to check her out.

That was the look of a scout.

"Hot headed, probably moreso then Alexis- if that's possible. Given her age, mentioning her appearance must be a landmine." Devin thought to himself, taking advantage of the fact that he didn't need to pay attention to class at all. "Has a colorful history with uniting human traffickers with wood chippers face first. Not that that's particularly upsetting." He continued to think with a smug grin. "This woun't be the best time to poke the sleeping bear, but I will need to introduce myself at some point."

"Likely a little smartass, but a real smart one to boot. Has the look of someone who knows who I really am, and is planning to dangle it over my head. Given his scrawny figure I am gonna say computer hacker, likely former Land Warrior, or a subset of it. Has...two AI in the wait for him, and at least one dedicated girl off to the side. Hmph. If he gives me any trouble, I'll just make him regret it." Felicia thought to herself, giving the boy a very believable confused look on her face.

"Oops. She figured me out. Probably think I'm going to blackmail her or something, though I would if I actually needed to." Devin shrugged before pulling out a notebook to revise his blueprints for the power source for Johnathan's arm. "Looks like I'll need to bug Brit for supplies."

---

The rest of the school day went off without too much hitch. A few awkward questions here or there, some mild stalking from someone with an uncanny resemblance to the headmaster without kitty ears, and a sigh of relief when she found out Shiori was on some military activity (Though Jillian very much looked disgruntled about the Holo-Shiori anyways. Stupid balloon-titted sister expy), and thank whoever is out there that there wasn't cheerleading practice today. Felicia was NOT looking forward to that, but she would act out otherwise.

She waited around the school for a bit, then when she felt near everyone had left, Jillian did her due dilligence and walked around with a great deal more thought into the infrastructure. Her sister's Spider Force had already fixed up a great deal of the foundation and repair issues, but there were still some gaping holes in their defences. Jillian kept a long list of mental notes to work on later, peering rather intently on a specific window in the cafeteria, when she said aloud: "Ya know, it's rather rude to try and follow someone like that, ya little punk."

"Sorry about that. I'm not quite as good as my brother with the sneaking thing." Devin said as he walked up to Felicia without the usual company of Whisp. "I figure you could use my help. My drones are quite a bit burlier then the spider bots, and someone like you could always use more guns."

"Your help, huh? Let me guess, you must be Devin."

"The one and only." Devin said with a smile and a shrug, his tail flickering a bit. "And don't say you don't need it, that route is boring and predictable, and a girl like you enjoys mayhem, explosions, some gunfire peppered in here and there." He said before placing a hand on his chest. "And as an engineer I can help you with such practical problems."

"Yeah yeah, TF2 references, funny." She put a hand on her hip and regarded. "You get told, or did you just 'happen' to find out?"

"The latter before the former. I am to 'bolster your efforts' for the 'greater good' and some-such." Devin said, making a so-so gesture with his right hand. "Point is. I help you, and I get the supplies I need to manufacture a replacement arm for my brother... Don't poke fun at that one, by-the-by it's still a sore subject for me. SO. What can 'I' do for 'you'?" He asked with the grin that'd make the devil himself proud.

"Pft. Stay outta my way, point out what I missed in a non-jackass manner, and keep the other students away from me. Uncomfortable enough as is without them getting all touchy-feely."

"I can do the first and second, though it'd be a waste, but you're on your own with number three." Devin answered honestly. "And it's not quite fair that you get to keep all the jackassery to yourself." He added in before chuckling. "Oh, right. You might want to check in with Sealand for any munitions you may want or need, they're quite liberal with their 'dakka'."

"Maybe later, I got plenty."

"Well that's hardly fun at all..." Devin said before turning around and starting to walk away. "I'd say I've wasted my time, but as long as I'm here it's wasted anyway. Contact me whenever you decide to become interesting, or actually want something." He said, giving a half-assed wave as he walked off.

Jillian just simply rolled her eyes as he left, thinking to herself Great. Another partner for crap I can handle. Jeeze, you sure know how to pick your interns, Brit.

---

The next morning, Felicia was up at the school early. Fortunately no one else seemed to be around, so she took this time to really get to know the school. Where the classes were, where the bathrooms were, best hiding spots, so forth. Clearly she was enjoying the isolation. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, depending on how you looked at it), Tali was not; having already been up and working on one of her latest projects for about four hours, she was quite finished with the alone time, and quite ready for people. And breakfast. And... and holy crap on a cracker, that was Jilli! Though the older girl seemed to be rather lacking her usual buzz of energy and mischief.

Clearly, there could be only one possible solution - and a few seconds later, Jillian suddenly had an unopened bottle of peach schnapps being dangled right in front of her face.

"You look like you need it," a sympathetic Tali informed. "Though maybe at least wait until breakfast before breaking it open, hmm?" This latter bit was teasing, as though they were friends. Albeit really, really weird friends who didn't get to see each other terribly often and weren't even remotely the same age.

"Uhh...why do you have that? Alcohol like that is, ya know, against the rules and stuff." Felicia tried her best to sound like someone who would be concerned with the rules. And it would have worked, if Tali didn't know the future version of her.

As it was, this just earned a decidedly disbelieving snort from the actual-teenager, while Jillian somehow found herself holding the bottle of booze rather than looking at it. "Yes, because we're soooo worried about rules. Relax, Jilli - I got it the last time I went vampire hunting with dad, and we ended up blowing up the bar. Couldn't let all that alcohol go to waste, could I? And it's not like anybody's going to catch you with it now," Tali pointed out. She also seemed to have somehow managed to end up steering them towards the cafeteria and kitchen. Because she wanted breakfast.

Before she could even make it another two steps, Tali heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being clicked out of safety. When she turned her head, she found the eventual-semi-aunt Jillian pointing a rather impressive looking magnum square at her skull. "Who the hell are you and how the fuck do you know that name?"

Tali let out an extremely exasperated sigh, just barely managing to avoid rolling her eyes. Honestly, even her dad had reacted better than this. (Actually, her dad had reacted really well, but you'd think he wouldn't have, at any rate. In which case, technically, Jillian was reacting worse than one might have expected her dad to react. Just to be fair.) "Well, clearly, I'm the worst spy in the whole history of the world, and just blew my cover. Though I'm not entirely sure who I'd be spying for, I'm pretty sure Mach doesn't need any teenagers spying for him, especially when every student's phone is so insanely easy to hack for himself," came her extremely sarcastic and inevitable point. "Or, y'know, I could be Tali, who got pretty thoroughly sliced by him the other day. Either way, what the fsck is the point of time travel if you can't mess with people occasionally?" The fact that that was completely irrelevent to her previous spy scenario was even more irrelevent, by the way.

Jillian gave Tali a once over, studying her. Doesn't seem to be lying, and she does match the description of one of the other victims of the latest attack... "Alright. If you're who you say you are, and potentially when you came from, why would you be as stupid as to say that name out loud?"

"It's five in the morning," came Tali's decidedly duh reply. "There is literally nobody else around to hear me. And seriously, what is the point if I can't mess with somebody occasionally? That's just boring!" On a more serious note, however, "And don't you dare tell anybody I mentioned the slicing thing. It was totally not a big deal." Or at least, she really hated it when people made a big deal out of her getting hurt. Honestly, she got better! But Tali frowned then, as something else occurred to her. "And what the hell else would I call you?"

Nobody had actually bothered to tell her about the whole undercover thing, after all. She'd just recognized her future kinda-sorta-not-really-aunt and friend and decided to mess with her a bit before breakfast. Because she was a teenager. And that was what teenagers did (well, the ones who could function before breakfast, anyway).

Holy crap, she honestly knows who I am but not a single fucking clue WHY I am here! She's nice, but she's gonna ruin the whole fucking thing! Jillian hid the gun back in her Hammerspace, grabbed Tali by the wrist, and before she could even so much as protest, dragged her to the nearest room and locked the door. "What the fs-" Tali started but Jillian cut her off.

"Shut it. I don't really care who you are right now, maybe eventually, but not right now. There's too much at stake." This was one of the few times that Jillian wasn't totally loud. Her voice was low, almost a whisper, but every word she spoke was powerful and commanding. Tali opened her mouth to protest again, but Jillian reached over and clamped it shut. Tali forgot just how strong she was when she was pissed. "I am undercover. My name is FELICIA not Jillian or Jilli or Jill. I am a student, and I am a guard. I am supposed to be a surprise attack if I am needed, up until that Machariah jackass is taken down. It is TANTAMOUNT that this REMAINS secret. So I don't care how empty a place seems, but you will keep that name to yourself, or so help me, I will find a way to make you forget it. Am I understood?" She ended her little speech with a glare. Tali had never seen her this angry before, not like this. Even more importantly, however...

Tali made the sort of disgruntled sound only a true teenager could manage. Much like Dev, she hated to be underestimated, unless she was actively encouraging it herself (like when she was playing bait). And right now, Jilli was talking to her like she was a total idiot, and she didn't appreciate it. So much so, in fact, that she and Jilli were going to be having a Chat when she got back to her own time.

"I'm not an idiot," the blonde teen objected. "I am at least as smart as you are, if not much smarter. I think I can handle calling you Felicia and not announcing your secrets to the world. I daresay I'm even smart enough to warn Elsie about it before she catches sight of you. Now are you gonna keep being all hardass and lame and insulting, or are you gonna come get breakfast with me and say thank you for the schnapps?"

JIllian relented after a moment, then stuck the schnapps in her Hammerspace. "I appreciate the gesture, but I really need to keep my nose clean. Perception is everything." She gave Tali a look. "And if you want to stop being underestimated, you need to act in a manner that deserves it. You could have easily hinted it elsewhere, led me on a bit, waited till we were, I dunno, doing something at your house or something. Not here. All it takes is one ear, any ear, and everything comes crashing down. I know you know that, but you act like you need to be reminded. Feel me?" Sonofabitch I sound like NICK. What the hell???

Still not looking terribly happy (and Jilli totally was sounding like whatshisface, which was not cool), Tali couldn't resist pointing out, "I live in the dorms here. My 'house' doesn't become my 'house' for like four more years." Seriously, did HQ even remotely count as anything as boring as a house? "Also, Mach already knows about me, and Elsie, and just about everyone under the sun, including what underwear they have on, which is fscking creepy - why would I feel a need to wait for further privacy, without knowing you're supposed to be undercover?" The teenager gave a rather displeased sniff, still feeling rather offended by being treated like an idiot, though she was getting over it. A bit. Slowly. "And I bet you fifty bucks you don't last a full week 'keeping your nose clean'." See? She could get over it!

"Heh. You're on, brat." Jillian grinned back. "OK. We're at an agreement at least. Shall we go act like normal teenagers for the rest of 'em?"

"The 'rest of 'em' being the totally empty campus out there?" Tali snarked. It was, like, 5am, after all - everyone else was either at home, or still asleep in the dorms. Other than Sharky happily uprooting shrubbery, but he was on the other side of the school. Her lack of objection to being called a brat was rather telling, however - perhaps more telling than anything else that had yet happened that morning. It wasn't the sort of thing she would usually put up with, after all. Unless, apparently, it was from Jilli. "I do still want breakfast, though. Wanna go get food?"

"Damn straight. I meant later when we actually have to deal with them, you smartass." She grinned despite herself. Bad foot or not, maybe she had found a kindred spirit, age be damned? Nah. Maybe?

Tali just gave her a cheeky grin, and proceeded to lead the way to the kitchen; she was getting her own food this morning, it'd taste better. "Better a smartass than an idiot," she returned, rather smugly.

"Eh, sometimes the only difference between the two is that idiots make the mistakes that smartasses do by mistake, not on purpose. Easier to forgive that way." Jillian snarked back. She used Tali's cooking time to check out the kitchens, to see what needs to be done there too. EVERY place in that school was going to be inspected, damnit.

"The cafeteria's shit for defensive positions, if you're looking. Kitchen's better, provided you don't mind the dangers of stoves and cutlery, which can actually be an asset if you don't," Tali rather idly informed, while poking at the bacon she had sizzling on the stove. "And never take cover in Luc's still closet, that thing can explode all on its own if it feels like it. How hungry are you?"

"Not really, but thanks anyways." Jillian hrm-ed. "Damnit, Shiori, miss perfect, you ought to have seen all these problems before." She muttered to herself.

"We didn't exactly need to be on high alert before now," the blonde teen couldn't help pointing out, Shiori being another kinda-sorta-not-really-aunt, not to mention she had will have been her babysitter. "And Luc is in charge of the actual school, and makes pretty much all the adjustments himself. Unless Skorp decides to add something, and then they have to argue about it for a few hours or days first. Really, it's a school, I don't think defensive capabilities were a big focus in the building." Tali looked thoughtful for a moment, rather like one lost to a daydream. For most 16-year-old girls, it likely would have had to do with boys, but for Tali... "Personally, I'd like to see some big guns around the building. Hidden, of course, until you need them, but when you do, they should be able to take out anything." The possible plans were already laying themselves out in her head, and if she wasn't in the middle of making breakfast, she likely would've had her tablet out already to get some of them down. Maybe set Jarvis to taking care of some of the calculations for her. Of course, a moment later, and the tablet was coming out for an entirely different reason, as she pulled up youtube. "Y'know, something kinda like this, but with better defenses for the shooter, capable of shooting at ground targets as well as air, with aiming assistance capable of taking out much smaller, people-sized targets, and..." Aaaaand there she went, off on a list of all the changes she'd make, and how much more awesome it would be by the time she was done - all while continuing to cook her bacon and eggs and pancakes.

Jillian laughed a bit, grinning rather honestly. "Damn straight we need one of those! All the time!" She pointed out the flaws though, including some bits that Tali had missed. Apparently Jillian was holding out on her in the future. "....And if you replaced that with something a bit better, then the fire rate can be increased a smidge while keeping it cool enought to KEEP firing to begin with."

"I like it," a grinning Tali declared, as though a matter of great import had been settled (because it had); only force of habit saving her breakfast from burning while she was distracted. She had plenty of practice with cooking while talking guns, after all. "Though really, why on earth would we only want one? I'm thinking at least half a dozen, placed at strategic points across campus. Nobody would fsck with us after that - not after they'd seen what those babies could do."

---

Summary
-Lucius is having a nice lazy day after all the crap that's happened.
-Sudden phone call.
-"Hello Lucius. You hurt my daughter. Prepare to-"
-"OH CRAP OH CRAP OH CRAP!"
-"Accept another one into your fold."
-Bribery helps to ease the pain.

-Nick is having to barhop.
-DEFENESTRATION!
-Jillian has a thing against people who hit on her because of her body.
-She also hates missions that utilize her body.
-Brutal methods for brutal people.
-Bit of cajolling, but she takes the job.
-Jerk With a Heart of Gold, really.

-First day!
-And the attitude still bleeds through.
-Devin figures her out.
-She figures HIM out.
-Confrontation about secrets part 1.
-That was painless if snarky.

-Tali spills the beans pretty damn quick.
-And gets a gun to the head for it.
-And just gets pissy about the gun too.
-Want respect? Then act like someone who deserves it not demands it.
-Jillian should heed her own advice.
-Friendship started anyways. How the hell does that happen?

-Not shown: Jillian actually really likes schoolgirl outfits. They make her feel pretty.
<<

Arella

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Posts: 129

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:49 pm

Location: Ontario, Canada

Post Sun May 22, 2016 12:23 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Arella's Training Montage
Kinda.

Location: FGTL HQ
Timestamp: About a week after Arella got stabbed.
Authors: Arella, Skorpy, DarkTan, Oblivion
Characters: Arella, Lucius, Katrina, Skorpion, Alexis, some NPCs, and Bill the door-crane.

Arella was having a bit of an odd day.

It was pretty much the first day in who knows how long that she honestly wasn't horribly exhausted. Her energy was back, her wounds had healed, and all evidence pointed to her body having finally managed to replenish the blood she'd lost. Her emotions were still a bit... flighty, but she was feeling much better. Especially when she wasn't worrying (or just generally thinking) about the crazy not-Skorp.

On the other hand, the last two hours had seen a bucket of water being dumped on her head, several trip wires requiring her to dodge attacks of pepper spray and at least one tazer, and she was pretty sure that had been some sort of pressure plate she'd hopped over a moment ago. And... and she was pretty sure that was Lucius trapped in a door up ahead.

"...Luc?" the very confused magical girl inquired as she continued to (cautiously) approach.

Lucius looked up as the door struck him again, the multiple sets of tazer barbs stuck in his flesh zapping him enough to stop him using telekinesis to stop the door. ''Rella! Help! I'm stuck an' the door's got my tail, an' Kat's nae help!' He winced as the door hit him again, leaving another set of bruises.

Katrina, who was of "nae" help, was doubled over laughing hysterically, "Hahahaha! The door's tryin'a eat him!" The dhampir succumbed to another giggle fit.

Bravely trying to stave off her own case of the giggles (which was entirely Kat's fault, that had been rather adorably hilarious), Arella continued her cautious approach while studying the trap before her; it appeared as though his tail had somehow ended up trapped under the door, and he was now stuck on the pressure plate which caused it to continue opening and closing.

"How..." the now very, very confused magical girl wondered, while giving the door a very cautious prodding to see if it was wired or anything before even thinking about holding it open. "How did this even happen??"

"He glitched!" Katrina blurted as she finally succumbed to the gravity of the situation... wait... no. It was just regular gravity.

Of course, that now had Arella gigglefitting as well, which was hardly productive.

Lucius' annoyed growl was cut into sections by the sound of the door hitting him repeatedly as it swung back and forth on the mechanism. This only served to bring a fresh howl of laughter from Katrina, while Arella tried really, really hard to free him in spite of her own laughter-related problems.

As Lucius' tail was finally freed from the door, he stopped it mid-swing, just shy of hitting Arella. The door was torn from it's mountings with a shriek of metal before being folded into an origami crane, all without touching the ground. 'Tha'll show ye.' Lucius commented, glaring at the door-crane angrily.

Katrina wheezed as she slowly stood up, "I hope that was on the security cams," the dhampir's face was streaked with tears from her laughing.

"Awww, don't be mad," the still giggling to the point of barely being able to stand Arella soothed. "It wasn't Bill's fault." Bill being the door-crane, obviously. Elsie's talent for naming inanimate objects did come from somewhere, after all.

Lucius grumbled, tossing Bill the doorcrane through the nearest wall. 'I think we need tae hae a word wi' Skorp about this.' He turned to head off to do that, before stepping on a tripwire. There was a ]b]*clunk*[/b] and pepper spray flooded the area around him, while Arella somehow managed to throw up a shield with some rather impressive reflexes. Of course, it helped that she'd been dodging traps for the past two hours.

Lucius wiped the pepper spray from his eyes, shaking it off his fingers. 'Cannae be aimed a' me; Skorp knows I'm immune tae tha'.'

"Doesn't work on me either," Katrina pointed out, "Spent too much time around DT's cooking." she paused her laughter for a moment, "Actually, come to think of it, none of the traps we've seen today really effect either of us, Luc."

Lucius rubbed the frayed end of his tail. 'Speak fer yerself. I've been bucketed, shot at, stuck wi' crossbow bolts, an' hit wi' an engine block on a swing.'

"But..." Arella was suddenly looking a bit hurt. Her emotions still hadn't quite settled yet, after all, and pepper spray and tazers and things definitely worked on her, which left her feeling a bit targetted. "But why would dad wanna do all that to me?" Her bottom lip was beginning to tremble rather dangerously with the threat of tears.

Lucius instinctively tugged Arella into a hug.at the first sign of wibbling, which of course did nothing to stop it.

"Training," Katrina said as she also moved to wrap Arella in hugs, "Kinda reminds me of how we met, actually."

"But I didn't like how we first met!" Arella objected, with perhaps the faintest hint of a threatening wail in her voice. "I thought you were mean!"

"Well, I was... kinda," Katrina shruged, "But you got better, right?"

Lucius looked over at Kat, ears tilted curiously, giving a softly questioning 'Nyow?'

"I kicked her ass on a roof top," Katrina replied nonchalantly, "I mean, I didn't know it was Arella, or who Arella even was at the time."

"You hit me with a pole!" Arella further objected, not entirely sensically, seeing as that really had nothing to do with Skorp trying to catch her with pepper spray now, and she had long since gotten over it. It was also the entire reason she'd learned she could use her shield apart from herself, but that totally didn't count, 'cause reasons.

"You eventually blocked it, didn't you?" Katrina asked.

"That's doesn't count," the magical girl rather sulkily insisted, if only because it meant she was automatically going to lose any and all arguments against the traps and stuff.

"Well, I think these lessons are more about dodging than blocking," the dhampir mused, visually tracing a trip wire to a shotgun mounted in the corner.

Lucius followed Kat's gaze and shifted to put himself between the shotgun and Arella, while Arella very much let him.

"But I'm fine at dodging, I was just tired before!" Arella objected, a bit of a whine definitely creeping into her voice now.

"You got stabbed. Twice." Skorpion suddenly pointed out. "Katrina ambushed you on a rooftop. Lucius spotted you in a crowd, then nearly chased you down when you stopped to help at a car accident. You've gotten sloppy, you're shorting yourself on sleep, and let's face it; when did you last go to the gym?" He reached out, prodding her in the side. "You're not even dancing as much as you used to, and your continued denial of your magical nature is cutting you off from your true power level."

"I was tired, and then I was already bleeding out on the ground the second time!" the magical girl (quite reasonably, in her opinion) argued. "And I did get away when Luc spotted me the first time! And-- And--" Arella stomped her foot without even realizing it - a first since the stabbing, and likely a good sign for her mental recovery, really. "And you don't get to tell me how to use my magic, it's mine, I don't have to use it if I don't wanna!" Or rather, she didn't have to acknowledge Elle if she didn't wanna.

"I'm not telling you HOW to use it, I'm simply telling you TO use it." Skorpion sighed, rolling his eyes. "Either use it, or I train you so you don't need to use it. If one thug can get past you just because you're a little tired and stab you, then what'll happen when someone more competent gets at you? Remember that we were only a PETA attack away from being attacked by a super-soldier team. It could easily have been Johnathan in that alley. Or Alexis, and you'd never even have seen her."

"I don't want to use it, and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" Arella finally yelled, before promptly bursting into noisy tears. The magic issue (or, if we're being honest, the Elle issue) was still a touchy one, after all. Even if Elle had promised not to hurt anybody - and Arella still wasn't entirely sure that hadn't been a dream, anyway.

"I don't know; I think it's working pretty well so far." Skorpion pointed out, pointing to the shotgun trap on the other side of Lucius.

'Tha's a wee bit tae much. Firearms, against 'Rella? An' all the crossbows on the way here, tae.' Lucius pointed out, stroking Arella's hair reassuringly.

Skorpion shrugged. "The shotgun's loaded with beanbag rounds on a low charge, and a motor in the magazine to cycle the action. The crossbows aren't my doing."

'Yer makin' her cry.' Lucius pointed out. 'Don' make me point her at ye.'

"Pretty sure I had thrown knives that first time," Katrina's mind was in three places at once and also, as always, hardly useful.

"The traps will stop once you accept the training or use your magic, Arella. And they'll get harder until you do. Don't come crying to me when you're trapped in a cage."

Very thoroughly upset, and not at all taking to being told what to do with her magic well, Arella finally attempted to storm off, angrily declaring (around continuing tears), "I'M GOING HOME!" Those rather flighty emotions were clearly getting the better of her.

"Where?" Skorpion asked. "The OCSB that's still crawling with TPCD and infested with DT's cooking? The apartment that's probably been trapped by Machariah? The Academy to sleep under your desk? You ARE home."

"Actually, the apartment is probably on fire," Katrina chimed in, "Kor said something about that. I wasn't paying a lot of attention, since the door was eating Luc."

"I'M--" Arella was forced to hesitate a second, because she had meant her apartment, but that was obviously a stupid thing to say now. "I'M GOING TO MY RAVEN'S NEST!" she finally decided instead, resuming her storming off to do exactly that.

"Arella," Katrina said, trying to give a stern motherly look. (It actually ended up more of a sultry MILF look. She's not good at this.) "You should really consider at least a bit of it. I mean, who doesn't need extra training? Look at... look... Immortal, Scottish, badass catboy. Getting his ass... kicked... by..." She couldn't finish due to the sudden resurgence of giggling. "Bill!" the dhampir finally blurted out, laughing hysterically.

But even with such hilarity on Kat's side (not to mention a reasonable argument), the magical girl kept going. She was mad and she didn't want to talk about it, and she could storm off in high dudgeon if she wanted to!

Lucius sighed, picking Arella up off the floor as she continued to storm off, leaving her walking in mid-air. 'Hoy.' He said, stepping over to hug her again. 'Calm down, 'Rella. Skorp's bein' a scunner 'bout it, but he's a fair pointer, y'ken? Ye dae need trainin'. We're trainin' the students, so why d'ye nae take some yerself? Even a few lessons wi' Shiori'd dae it, even wi'out Skorp's VR.'

"I said I would do training!" the very upset and still more than a little tearful (though they were at least as much angry tears as anything else, now) Arella protested. "I didn't say you could try to make me be a magical girl again! I'm not a magical girl anymore, I'm just me, and I don't have to--" She suddenly seemed to be having trouble getting enough air in, she was just that upset. "I don't-- I--" Gasping down a good lungful of air, she finally managed to get out, "I DON'T HAVE TO BE ANYTHING ELSE IF I DON'T WANT TO!" And then she gave her boyfriend a good few whacks in an attempt to get him to let her down so she could escape, preferably before she started outright bawling again.

"So don't be a magical girl," Katrina said, "Be a badass ninja-like vigilante with super powers," the dhampir shrugged.

Lucius nodded. 'Aye, like Raven is already. Jus' better trained, an' nae so tired.' He plucked her out the air, holding her close to him and stroking her hair tenderly.

"But I can't use more magic as Raven," Arella was rather sulkily forced to admit, her struggles to escape growing increasingly less convincing as they continued to outright fail (though she wasn't about to stop entirely, as that would mean admitting defeat). "I've just got the shield. Everything else requires being..." Well, being the Warrior Angel again. And how much of the Warrior Angel had ever really been her in the first place? Had those ever really been her powers, or had they just been Elle's all along? Who... what was she, when you got right down to it?

"You've used that shield in some interesting ways before," Katrina pointed out. "Like trapping me inside it. Who's to say you can't do more stuff with it?"

'Aye, ye can do a fair amount wi' just a shield. If'n ye can get more powers wi'out Elle, ye might be able tae try telekinesis like me. An' ye've got the bow an' the wings.'

"You're not dropping her off the building to teach her to fly." Skorpion cautioned. "I know you've been doing that with your students, since it's how you learned to."

"He is not," Arella objected, impatiently swiping at the tears that stained her cheeks while continuing to try very hard not to add to them further; her struggles were also nearly non-existant at that point. Curse Luc and his cuddliness. Cuddleability? Cuddle... well, he was really good at cuddles. Also, comfy. The point was, she'd very definitely put a stop to dropping the girls off buildings to teach them to fly.

"I'm there to catch them in case it's doesn't work out," Katrina reverted to her previous role of not helping whatsoever.

"There's a mat, but they don't know about it until they hit it." Skorpion explained. "I did tell him it was a bad idea. Shoiri and Tiffaney did too, but it works annoyingly well."

Lucius nodded, chuckling softly. 'Aye. An' it's only fer special cases anyways; most o' the initial flyin' comes from the diving boards. The old school had a fair decent divin' team, an' we use their pool fer flyin' trainin' a'well.'

Arella let out a long-suffering sigh, and didn't even bother to smack the catboy this time - it clearly didn't actually help, unless you counted it making her feel a bit better. Which she usually did. "No more dropping the girls, please. Even with mats, that's emotionally scarring and totally traumatizing. Or were you planning on covering their therapy bills?" A bit of her old snark seemed to come back for the latter, though it was perhaps a little halfhearted.

'It builds character.' Lucius replied. 'At least, tha's wha' granddad used tae say about stuff like tha'.'

"Broderline-deranged roleplay characters," Katrina muttered, giving the fourth wall a disapproving look.

"You're stopping it, and I'm hitting your grandfather when I meet him," the magical-girl-in-denial informed.

'Ye'll hae a job thar. He's old, but he's crafty an' surprisin'ly fast.' Lucius grinned.

"Well, he WAS a Howling Commando back in the day." Skorpion said by way of explanation. "Y'know, back when Nick Fury was white and had hair. I'm not entirely sure when that changed, but I'm sure your time-travel shenanigans at the time didn't help."

"I'm still gonna hit him," Arella muttered stubbornly.

"Just make sure you clear it with his wife. She's... She's kinda scary." Skorpion admitted.

Lucius nodded emphatically in agreement. 'Ye donnae mess wi' Granny. Firs' rule o' the clan, tha'.'

"Well, maybe I'll get her to help me, then." Said the Stubborn Magical Girl.

"She'll probably lend you the rolling pin." Skorpion chuckled, reaching over to pat Arella's head gently. "Now, training. Meet me in the VR room after lunch. We'll start simple, and go from there."

Arella gave him a wary look at that, before firmly stating, "No magic stuff." Her tone was almost downright warning - which was almost cute, considering who she was using it on.

Skorpion raised his hands placatingly. "Hey, you know me. I don't DO magic, remember? No good at it. Talk to Tiffaney about THAT; I'm going to train you in the conventional stuff. Hand to hand, weapons, and so forth."

"Fine," the magical girl accepted, before promptly wanting to know, "What's for lunch?" Emotions could make a girl hungry, after all.

"Now you're starting to sound like Lexi." Skorpion grinned. "Eating out is dangerous with Mickey about, so pizza."

"With extra cheese? And pepperoni? And green peppers? And... and bacon, and all those little meat-ey bits and stuff?" a hopeful Arella immediately had to know; seriously, she was suddenly starving, and that sounded amazing.

Skorpion gave her a Look. "Please. Would I REALLY make a pizza WITHOUT ridiculous amounts of toppings on it?"

"No mushrooms, though," she insisted.

No one was quite sure when or how it had happened, but Arella was somehow no longer in Luc's arms, and was quite happily following after her adopted father instead, looking more than a little excited by the prospect of pizza for lunch. Seriously, she was starving all of a sudden!

---

"So!" Skorpion clapped his hands together, producing the usual thud of his armoured gauntlets and a few sparks from the fingertips. "Training!" He snapped his fingers, and the VR room changed from the VR room to a fairly generic shooter setting. Space streamed past around them as they stood on the top of a spaceship littered with gadgets and widgets and antennae for cover, while a few large inexplicable towers rose up from the hull. "Basic tactics, for starters."

"No guns," the stubborn totally-a-magical girl demanded, right out the gate. Hey, even Batman refused to use guns, it was allowed!

Skorpion handed her a multi-barreled rocket launcher instead. "It's not a gun."

Arella frowned down at the rocket launcher for a moment. (Damn, but she loved rocket launchers, they were so cool!) "...But just on scary not-Skorps, right?" she finally had to confirm. Because generally speaking, blowing people up with rocket launchers was bad.

"Basic tactics, not super-soldier ambushes." Skorpion explained, as targets started to pop up around the arena. "Shoot them. Remember your projectiles move fairly slowly, so account for that."

"How slowly?" Arella then wanted to know.

Skorpion took the weapon from her, took aim at a target, and fired. He'd handed the weapon back to her before the rocket had picked up speed and hit the target. "That slowly. I'll move you up to faster stuff and laser guns once you get the basics down."

A very quiet "wheeee~" ultimately ended up escaping her after she managed to hit her first intended target. Hey, she was a gamer too, and even Buffy had used a rocket launcher against the Judge! (And clearly, if Buffy did it, it was okay.)

Skorpion chuckled as the target exploded into shards and vanished. "Good, now keep on with the rest." He instructed as they started moving slowly. "Account for the movement, aim where they're going to be when the rocket reaches them."

"So, like playing Mass Effect," Arella pointed out, quickly taking aim at another target. The rocket launcher itself was a bit big and unwieldy to her mind, but video games had apparently helped a lot with figuring out how to actually hit her target. Though it was a bit trickier when not on her computer screen, with all those handy zoom features the game took care of for her.

"Yeah, pretty much." Skorpion agreed, as the targets moved faster; shifting betwen patches of cover with some staying there and not coming out. "Try moving around to root them out?"

Arella responded to this by cautiously shifting over to the side. Then shifting a bit more. Then trying to peer around the cover one of the targets wasn't popping out of while almost-nervously aiming the rocket launcher along with her.

In games, this was usually the part where they suddenly jumped up, scared her half to death, and she almost died 'cause she'd jerked her hands away from the keyboard while jumping about a foot off her chair.

The targets in cover stubbornly refused to come out. A few peeked out over their cover before ducking back down, with some starting to cover-hop closer to Arella. "They're coming for you. You can't camp there forever; take control."

"But what if I like camping here?" the magical girl pouted. "I could set up a little campfire, roast some marshmallows... we could even sing some camp songs together." Aaaand there was the Raven snark.

"They'll flank you." Skorpion replied, as a few of the targets started to fire small rockets of their own at her. "Or just snipe you when you put your head up."

Arella muttered something about that being no way to fight a lady (and rude, besides), while obediently moving to find better cover, at an angle she could better take out the other campers from.

The other campers moved in response, a few poking their heads up to launch grenades at Arella.

"OI! Rude!" the magical girl scolded, even as she fired rockets at them in retaliation (and picked up her own pace in relocating, because she wasn't an idiot).

The firefight continued for a while; rockets and grenades flying until the last target vanished in a puff of logic and explosion. "Good; you're learning. Now." Skorpion tossed her a beam rifle, grinning. "Laser gun. Instant hit, but weak, or the rocket launcher that's slow but powerful." More targets appeared, moving around, finding cover, and the like. "You've also got a few snipers to deal with." He explained, as a puff of inexplicable dirt appeared next to Arella. "Keep moving, keep shooting, and take them out."

Letting out an alarmed squeak, Arella practically flattened herself on the ground while simultaneously trying to move for better cover that she hadn't almost been shot behind. She did, however, manage to follow it up with some snark. "So when do I get to play the sniper? Or at least get some good area of effect spells?" Those were her preferences when gaming, after all.

"No guns, no magic, wasn't it?" Skorpion asked, chuckling. "You HAVE a rocket launcher, though, and an instant-hit laser gun. Use them as you will."

Arella made a great show of pouting. "Well, sure, if you're gonna go and bring logic into it," she grumbled. Albeit while shooting one of her targets with the laser gun she'd managed to forget she was holding - and immediately concluding that the rocket launcher was way more fun.

Skorpion conjoured up an armchair to settle in, hovering around to watch Arella.

"So, just out of curiosity," Arella began, shooting a few more fake people with the laser gun before ultimately abandoning it to return to the way more awesome rocket launcher, "how does playing a story-less video game in VR help me against scary not-Skorps?" There was definitely more than a little snark in her tone, but it was also a valid point.

"As I said, you start with the basics. Cover, movement, trajectory, timing, deflection. This is just a warm-up until we get to the real training." Skorpion explained.

"Can't I just play some Mass Effect, then?" she wanted to know. Being Commander Shepard was a lot more exciting than being plain old Arella, after all.

"No. We're training YOU, not Shepard. You need to be comfortable with it in your own body, not someone else's."

"But it technically is my body, just with cool N7 armour on top," Arella pointed out, while blowing up some more targets she was pretty much imagining as Collectors at this point. "So we could just load it up without the armour, and it works out the same."

"No, because you've memorised every pixel of that game. You need to think outside the box." Skorpion snapped his fingers, the shipscape dissolving into a small arena, Arella's weapons doing so shortly afterwards. "So let's skip to what you really need to learn."

"Awww, can't I at least keep the rocket launcher?" the cutegirl pouted. "Or is that not allowed in the Hunger Games?" Because arena, obviously. Snark, snark, snark - she certainly sounded like she was still playing a video game, at any rate.

Skorpion drew a pair of swords out of nowhere, tossing one to Arella. "You get this. En guarde."

"Ooooooh~" the magical girl squee~d; she'd only ever used a sword as a magical girl, and then certainly not in any duels or anything. Really, it had mostly just served as a focus for her magic, or a prop for warning hoodlums and thugs back onto the straight and narrow. So of course, she had to give it an enthusiastic bit of swishing.

At least she managed to avoid making any lightsaber noises. So far.

Skorpion chuckled as he watched her, before charging, swinging his sword down at her.

Arella, of course, ended up letting out an alarmed squeak that was entirely too adorable to be allowed; rather more impressively, she also managed to bring up her own sword in a well-executed block that could only have been instinct. Or perhaps some kind of magical girl thing she was unaware of, and luckily didn't think of now.

Skorpion grinned, swinging back before going for a lower strike. "Very good!"

The magical girl danced back a few paces, even as she swept her own sword down to deflect; she was suddenly smiling, as she discovered something she was apparently naturally good at. And it continued to be a good thing that it didn't occur to her that it might be more a magical girl thing than her own natural ability, because that would have absolutely ruined her current good mood.

Skorpion grinned, attacking harder and faster; his strikes coming in with his enhanced strength and speed, the sword light in his hands. Amazingly, Arella continued to block every strike, only occasionally bothering to dance away in a ridiculously graceful dodge, her look of intense concentration every so often broken by brief moments of clearly being rather mystified as to how she was doing it. Luckily, the possible Elle factor continued to fail to occur to her, so she mostly just ended up feeling awesome.

Skorpion backed off after a few minutes of exchanging strikes, his blade morphing into a long polearm. And just as quickly as it had come, Arella's skill seemed to disappear as she jerked away from the familiar weapon with all the panic of one who hadn't really gotten over being stabbed yet, her own weapon seemingly forgotten. She did, however, manage to draw her shield up around her in an instinctive need to, y'know, not be stabbed again.

Much as she might hate to admit it, or acknowledge it in any way, Arella was genuinely afraid of the other Land Warrior. It was likely to be something of a problem.

Skorpion stuck the blade into the ground, frowning. "That's something we need to get past, then."

"What is?" the magical girl rather weakly tried to deny via feigned ignorance. Her posture had her rather shrinking in on herself, and she was looking more than a little embarrassed and possibly even a little ashamed of herself for it - but he had been scary, and mean, and had caught her at her absolute worst and taken advantage of it, and she couldn't quite seem to help it.

Skorpion grabbed the polearm again, swinging it over and down towards her. But Arella just went flinching away from the blade again, drawing that spherical black shield around herself with an actually impressive amount of strength (not that she noticed), even as a rather panicked little sound escaped her. She also seemed to have eyes only for the weapon itself, from the moment it had first appeared - not terribly surprising, given how much it had hurt before.

"That." Skorpion announced smugly, setting the weapon down again.

Arella fidgetted - an act that somehow managed to make her look about eight years old - while rather studiously avoiding meeting Skorp's eyes. "It hurt," she admitted, so softly if was barely audible even with his superior senses.

"Being stabbed tends to." Skorpion replied, stepping over to tug his daughter into a hug. "And you did nearly die. However, you can't be paralysed with fear in combat, or it'll happen again."

The magical girl nodded, albeit while continuing to avoid her dad's eyes. And continuing to fidget. She was feeling a bit pathetic, which also seemed to have the side-effect of making her increasingly adorable. He was right, of course, but that didn't mean she knew how to magically stop being afraid. Machariah was scary. And she knew she was likely going to end up throwing herself between him and someone else sooner or later, which didn't exactly help.

"We'll deal with that later; as long as he uses one, you'll need to learn to defend against them." Skorpion sighed. "I'm not good at the mental emotional stuff. I can fix your bike, and your wings, but not your brain."

He rather suddenly found himself being rewarded with a hug, then. "You try, though," she told him, gently. "That helps."

"I'm sorry I'm no good at it."

---

"Think fast!" Skorpion hurled the spear at Arella, the head of the weapon shining and sparkling.

Letting out an alarmed squeak, Arella dropped to the ground before her eyes could even finish widening in alarm. She then, of course, had to know, "Why is it sparkling??"

Skorpion shrugged. "It sort of happens in here. I've yet to nail that down in the code, but I blame Ash."

Arella couldn't help smiling fondly (if a bit sadly) at that. God, but she missed Ash - she'd made everything better. "Keep it, then," she requested, anything related to her friend clearly needing to be preserved.

Skorpion shrugged, and threw another spear at her.

Letting out a rather undignified eep!, the magical girl quickly scrambled out of the way or the sharp, pointy stick while complaining, "No fair, I don't have anything to throw back!"

"You're learning to dodge, not throw!" Skorpion replied, punctuating that with another spear.

"I know how to dodge!" she objected yet again, even as she obediently did so.

Skorpion replied with yet another spear, charging behind it, while the magical girl spun gracefully out of the way of both. Skorpion turned surprisingly quickly for someone of his size and weight, swinging for Arella, only to have her partially block it with a half-formed shield as she continued to dance out of the way.

Skorpion continued the dance, turning, striking, and chasing her, steering her around towards where the spears had lodged in the ground. Something which Arella, of course, failed to notice, seeing as she was a bit busy with the dodging at present. Still, she was doing a good job of the dodging, with an occasional bit of help in the form of her shield.

Skorpion went for a low strike as Arella backed into the makeshift wall of spears. grinning triumphantly.

The magical girl then let out an alarmed squeak as her attempt to jump backwards and out of the way was hindered by spears, and somehow (not even she could have said how) ended up floating about three feet off the ground in one of her shield-orbs, looking more than a little surprised.

Skorpion stepped back to gloat. "Situational awareness."

Arella just stuck her tongue out at him, still safely ensconced in her shield. Which she could apparently use to make herself kinda-sorta float.

"No, seriously. Lack of it is part of why you got hurt, and you need to work on it." Skorpion explained.

Arella let out a sigh of what might have been defeat. "Fiiiine," she allowed. "But can't we do that tomorrow? I'm tired, and I want some ice cream." They had been at it for a good few hours, after all, and it was likely getting close to dinner time.

"Fine. You're still recovering, after all." Skorpion snapped his fingers, and the arena vanished. The spears also vanished, leaving him standing and Arella floating in the empty VR room.

And Arella suddenly looked a little nervous; she wasn't sure how to let herself down in a way that wouldn't mean falling those few feet to the floor, and she didn't really fancy that. After so much training, she likely had plenty of bruises to complain about later already.

Skorpion chuckled, stepping over and holding his arms out. "If you fall, I'll catch you."

Looking a bit stubborn, and no doubt determined to prove that she could totally manage without any help, the magical girl tried shifting around within her shield, as if she could perhaps make it so that she was more just planting her feet on the ground and standing up than falling. It wasn't looking terribly likely, though. Arella then frowned, about a second from smacking herself in the head for being an idiot - she could move the sphere if she wanted. Rolling blue eyes to the heavens at her own stupidity, she finally did exactly that, ultimately managing to land gracefully on her own two feet. "Ice cream now?" the magical girl finally requested, still looking more than a little sheepish about the whole thing.

Skorpion nodded. "Ice cream now." He smiled, leading the way back to the canteen for a magical girl-sized tub.

---

Day 3

"So." Skorpion led Arella into the VR room, which was set displaying a typical small Japanese house. "Time to put your training to the test. I want you to bust in, rescue the hostages, neutralise anyone hostile, and not get hurt. Got it?"

Arella's brain just about snapped under the weight of entirely too many '80s action movie references that inspired, including an inquiry as to whether or not she was to finish by getting to "da choppa." She managed to pass her willsave, however, and instead merely asked, "Who's holding the people hostage?"

"Probably the hostage takers," Katrina chimed in from her seat in a lounge chair.

"Terrorists." Skorpion explained. "Really bad guys. Now, breach and clear like I taught you yesterday."

"What kinda terrorists, though?" the magical girl had to know. Even if she was pretending not to be a magical girl. "What do they want? Maybe I can just talk to them, and we can work things out without anybody getting hurt." Because magical girl.

"BAD terrorists. They want unreasonable things, like lots of money and worse terrorists released from prison. They've threatened to shoot the hostages and blow up the building if they don't get it. Oh, and they want cheese pizzas, but they shot the delivery boy so they can't have any."

Arella gaped at him. "Why would they shoot the delivery boy?" Because that was just uncalled for.

"Those bastards," the uninvited dhampir said between bites of pizza.

"And I want some, too!" the magical girl further objected, because that was totally unfair.

"Have to save the hostages then," Katrina stuck out her tongue and finished the slice.

"But you'll eat it allllllll!" the younger girl almost-whined, pouting at her girlfriend.

"Because they're terrorists, that's why!" Skorpion threw his arms up in frustration. "You can have pizza if you get the terrorists and secure the hostages without being killed. In you go."

"But where in the house are the hostages, so I can make sure they don't get shot?" Arella quite reasonably (to her mind, anyway) wanted to know, even as she was being propelled forward by her dad. Also, that pizza smelled really good, she really wanted some now.

"We don't know that. You'll have to find them and tell them apart from the terrorists." Skorpion gave her another push towards the door. "Time's a ticking."

"Promise there'll still be pizza when I get back?" the magical girl requested with some impressive wibbles. "And it'll still be hot?"

"I'll make sure there's fresh pizza for you if you succeed." Skorpion promised.

"<Get on with it!>" a female voice shouted from inside the house in Japanese.

Of course, that didn't help, because now the magical girl was thinking about Monty Python, and had descended into a fit of giggles which ended up taking several minutes to subside. But she did, ultimately, manage to make her way into the house, using the tactics Skorp had drilled into her the day before. She really wished she knew where the hostages were, though - she'd feel much better if she could just safely ensconce them within her shield, so she didn't have to worry about any of them getting shot.

As she entered, a handful of terrorists looked around in alarm before being stunned by the grenades thrown in by the magical girl. As Arella stepped in, one of them reached for an AK left on a nearby table, only to be swiftly smoked in the face by some blunt object that hadn't been present a moment ago (and had no doubt been pulled out of hammerspace). His terrorist buddies were then promptly greeted and incapacitated in a similar fashion.

"<Help!>" the previously heard female's voice could again be heard in the next room. Her acting skills were remarkable, as the snark had been completely replaced with what sounded like genuine terror.

"<I'm coming!>" Arella promised, unknowingly sounding very much like Elsie (or was it Elsie who sounded like her?) in that moment. She also, y'know, went rushing off to help, though she didn't completely abandon Skorp's tactical training. That was kind of the point of the whole exercise, after all.

The next room was full of terrorists, quite rightly angry from being flashbanged. At least, the ones who hadn't been affected by it, anyway. Weapons were pointed, things were shouted, and hostages were kicked - at least until they all found themselves safely snug within the black orb of Arella's shield. The magical girl, meanwhile, set about whacking the terrorists with blunt, heavy objects, because she obviously wasn't about to shoot them. And she couldn't use a rocket launcher indoors.

The terrorists went down angry and shouting and brandishing weapons; any shots fired managed to miss the magical girl entirely, with one burst destroying an entire wall of expensive-looking glass cabinets and vases. It was, after all, only the first level.

"<Please get us out of here!>" the foxgirl, for that is who had been yelling thus far, yelled from within the group of real and virtual hostages.

After a quick check to ensure all the terrorists had been dealt with, Arella finally let her shield drop, thereby freeing the hostages. "<The coast is clear, everybody - head on out the front in a nice, orderly fashion, please~>" the magical girl requested, even as she moved among them to check for injuries and see if anyone needed help walking or anything.

The fox girl, having been "rescued," dropped the act and exited the house; the rest of the real "hostages" followed while the virtual ones simply vanished. Once the last one had exited, there was a sudden yell from another room. "Oh god, he's gonna shoot!"

The cry was followed by a spray of gunfire and a wave of screaming, along with maniacal laughter.

A harsh mechanical voice was heard after the gunfire, "Welcome to Megaton. Please enjoy your stay," followed by the sound of a laser rifle firing.

And Arella immediately forgot about her previous training and went bursting into the room, shield at the ready, to keep everybody from getting shot.

A Protectron robot waddled around the room, firing lasers at hostages and terrorists alike. The hostages had taken refuge behind upturned tables at one side of the room, while the terrorists were clumped behind a barricade of other assorted office furniture. As Arella entered the room, terrorists and robot alike turned to open fire on her.

The magical girl pulled up her shield in a show of excellent reflexes, all while loudly complaining, "Daaaad! You said I was fighting terrorists, not robots!" Seriously, that was cheating!

"The robot's not my fault!" Skorpion replied. "Legacy code; someone's been playing Fallout 3 in here again, and bits of code stick."

"Sorry," Katrina mumbled in the corner, "But those HD mods are amazing."

"But I don't wanna fight a robot!" Arella complained some more, rather dangerously close to whining.

"Ya’ll be careful with that thar weapon, ya hear?" The robot offered helpfully as a barrage of laser fire struck literally every surface around Arella.

"It doesn't matter what you WANT to fight." Skorpion pointed out. "If it's there and threatening innocents, you have to deal with it. And if you start complaining, there'll be tentacle monsters as well. The lure of 3D full-immersion hentai has been too much to resist for some people."

"I plead the fifth!" a certian dhampir blurted, "Wait, can I plead the fifth? Does Japan have a fifth? Wait...no, we're in Sealand now. Skorp, do you have a fifth?"

"I don't think we even have a constitution, let alone amendments to it." Skorpion shrugged. "Any other surprises? If you've coded a Fat Man into this, I'm going to shoot you."

"I can't even spell code let alone do it," Katrina lamented, "I had one of your nerds install stuff for me. Also, you know I'll just heal and then Arella will wibble at you."

"I can make it stick, remember?" Skorpion pointed out. "Or just paste you."

Katrina simply waved her hand dismissively, "And then you'd have even more wibbles to deal with. And Luc would start billing you for someone to clean up all the magical fallout at the academy."

"He was managing it just fine himself until Arella broke him." Skorpion pointed out.

"Right, which means there will be more wibbling at you."

"Wait, what?" Arella suddenly interrupted, having only been half following the conversation while trying to keep people from getting shot (including herself). "I didn't break Luc! I would never do that!" The danger of wibbles may also have gone up a notch.

'Pay attention!" Katrina called out as the robot frenzied and starting firing wildly in all directions.

"The bomb is perfectly safe....perfectly safe...perfectly safe..."

"If I have to fight robots now, I wanna do it as Commander Shepard, while it's got Collector backup or something, this isn't fair!" the magical girl complained from within her shield. Honestly, Skorp wouldn't let her turn this into Mass Effect, but they could make her fight Fallout robots? Not fair!

"It's not even a sentry bot or anything. OR meant to be here." Skorpion commented, glaring accusingly at a wall.

The robot advanced through the room, spraying laser fire as it went, scoring the walls and setting light to the carpets and furniture.

Letting out a frustrated noise, Arella quickly swapped her shield from herself to the robot, trapping it within the sphere where it couldn't attack anything. She then proceeded to toss it back and forth between the walls, every impact serving to severely damage the thing, before it eventually ended up a wreckage of metal and circuitry piled in the middle of the room. "Are we done yet?" she finally wanted to know.

"Next room!" Skorpion directed. "Hostage situations don't stop just because you're bored."

"But I cleared them already, they just got stuck 'cause of the robot!" she protested some more. Honestly, the sword fighting had been way more fun so far, she kinda wished they were doing that instead.

"Quit arguing or I'll add a tentacle monster." Skorpion warned.

"Hah! I've already fought one of those!" Arella countered rather smugly.

"Your boyfriend isn't here to save you from it this time."

"Hey, I totally had that under control before he butted in!" she protested, perhaps rather unwisely. Arella was nothing if not stubborn, though.

"You still have another room to clear. There could be one in there. It could be full of trip-mines. You'll never know unless you stop complaining and go clear it!"

"Fine!" a sulking Arella conceded, already rather carelessly heading for the room. "But then we stop for lunch, 'cause I'm hungry!"

The moment Arella stepped into the room Alexis pressed a VR handgun replica against the side of her head. "Bang. You didn't check your corners."

Arella sighed in a way that pretty clearly stated she'd stopped taking training seriously around the time a robot showed up. "Now that I'm dead, can we all go have lunch?" she simply wanted to know.

Skorpion sighed. "Fine, go eat. I'll set up the next session."

"YAY!" the magical girl enthused, promptly grabbing Lexi's arm to pull her along. "I'm gonna make ribs, c'mon!"

"Ribs! Fuck yeah!" Alexis agrred, tossing the VR pistol over her shoulder as she moved to catch up with Arella.

"C'mon, KitKat, you can have some too!" Arella invited, before disappearing out the door, both girls right on her heels.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Summary:
-Skorp is really bad at letting people know when they're starting training.
-It leads to hilarity, then hurt feelings, then arguing and storming off in high dudgeon.
-Arella's NOT A MAGICAL GIRL, DAMNIT! And you can't make her be one!
-Fine, but you still have to train.
-After lunch?
-Fine.
-Arella's clearly got some Elle issues that still need to be dealt with, and she'd not talking about them, either.
-Weapons training happens! In the VR room!
-Arella is surprisingly really good with a sword, in spite of never having been trained to use one. Of course, she did have one as a magical girl...
-She's also afraid of polearms now, apparently. Hey, the not-Skorp is scary, okay?!
-Dodging practice!
-Arella knows how to dodge, damnit! She could use some work on awareness of her surroundings, however.
-Ice cream time!
-Rescue the hostages! And stop not taking this seriously!
-Coding complications in the form of a robot. No fair!
-No, really, stop not taking this seriously!
-Lexi gets a fake headshot. But that means lunchtime, right?
-Right! The pizza's all gone, though.
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Skorpynekomimi

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Post Sun May 22, 2016 5:10 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Closet Destruction Service
Authors: Skorpy, Elle.
Characters: Arella.
NPCs: Strider, various Largoists who weren't quick enough to escape being assigned.
Location: Arella's apartment, FGTL HQ, and whatever's in between.
Timestamp: After Day One of Arella's training.


---

"SO!" Strider clapped his hands together, causing the nearest Largoists to look up. "I have been given a job to do."

"Yeah, so go DO it." Grumbled one of said Largoists.

Strider continued, ignoring him. "It's a big job, and I'm second in command around here." Realisation dawned on the group, and spread. People started shuffling away, muttering excuses about being on shift soon, or having dentist appointments or guns to polish, sing to, put to bed, or just cuddle.

"It involves Arella." The exodus paused with an interested murmur of voices.

"Or, rather, her apartment." The exodus resumed, faster. They knew a looting job when they heard one, and this wouldn't provide opportunities for things to end up in pockets or pouches.

"Skorpion has personally tasked me with making sure her apartment is emptied and recreated here. Without breaking anything, without LOSING anything, and without demolishing either building." The exodus accelerated, with people starting to outright flee from the back of the group.

Strider waved a remote, and the doors slammed shut; sending one poor late-mover flying as he was hit by one. "And you're all coming with me to help out."

---

The convoy stopped outside a relatively nondescript apartment building. Two large trucks, a few wheeled APCs, and a handful of support and escort vehicles. The street was blocked off in both directions, guns were pointed, and guards posted. A pair of attack helicopters prowled around overhead, patrolling the area.

"Now, this may be a little unusual in scope for us, but this has to be done with the utmost caution. Do you understand this?" Strider shouted from atop one of the trucks, using a megaphone.

The assembled Largoist troops paused, one halfway through kicking in the front door of the building. "We must use the doors PROPERLY. Security has been notified, we are not to empty any other apartments, shoot any residents OR their pets, and we even have a key for the apartment."

The door-kicker sagged in disappointment, and instead jabbed the 'trade' buton on the intercom. The door unlocked, and he opened it very carefully; propping it open with a convenient half-brick pulled from his pack. The troops then set themselves to blocking off the stairways and access to the other apartments. Guards were posted at the elevator on each level, securing one of the two for their exclusive use by the simple expedient of throwing out anyone riding in it and posting an armed guard inside. The big hairy dog held by the security guard was given a treat and scritched behind the ears, and Arella's door was carefully unlocked, with guards posted either side.

The first Largoist inside crept through the door, lighting the apartment with a torch attached to the end of his rifle, which he pointed into the various rooms as he moved around. The rest of the squad behind him were doing the same, checking rooms, closets, and behind furniture for threats. There was a shout of surprise and a spray of automatic gunfire as someone tripped over the bathroom rug, followed by the sound of flowing water. The squad appeared at the door, dragging him out and covering him with their weapons, getting him clear of the flood as it started to spread, and the neutralised threat of the toilet, now lying in pieces.

The second squad entered on hearing the gunfire, one of them having the forethought to hit the light switch. The lights came on, followed by a series of gunshots, and the lights went out again. There was a *thwack* as someone was hit upside the helmet for shooting the light fitting.

---

A short while later, work lights had been set up, the clearance squads were sitting on Arella's couch eating strawberry shortcake (looted from her fridge), sipping from glasses of wine (looted from her liquor cabinet), and watching her television with their boots up on her coffee table.

"Troops! What are you DOING?" The sargeant shouted as he walked in, observing the scene in front of him.

He was swiftly shushed by the nearest trooper. "Shh! They're about to have the Big Kiss!"

The sargeant growled, rolled his eyes, and walked around to stand in front of the screen. The troops leaned over to see around him, causing more eye-rolling and Angry Sargeant Noises. The screen flicked off a short while later, and he stepped back in front of it, holding the power cable. "GET BACK TO WORK!"

"But sarge, there's still half a bottle left!"

"So finish your drinks, THEN get back to work! And cut me a slice of that shortcake!"

---

Another short while later, the survey had started. Rooms were being measured, furniture moved and measured, and cupboards were being emptied into cardboard boxes. The fridge had been emptied, the small pile of leftovver takeaway had been taken outside and executed, and the shortcake sat on the coffee table in various bowls and the original plate, reduced to crumbs, smears of cream, and drips of sauce. The carpet was covered in muddy, oily bootprints, the door had been taken off it's hinges and used to block the corridor, and there was a sudden scream of shock from the bedroom.

"What... What the hell IS this?"

"It looks like a weapon of some kind..."

"Don't wave it at me! Ugh, it's FLOPPY."

"It has a suction cup on one end; maybe it's a back-scratcher for in the shower?"

"Why is it PINK, though? Maybe it's for magical girling?"

"What, 'in the name of the moon, I punish you', then she hits them with it?"

"Ugh, put that DOWN. Actually, no, don't drop it, give it here." A female trooper marched up, snatching the long, floppy, pink object in question from the hands of the first trooper. "It's a back massager."

"Looks like a OW! Goddamn, that HURT!"

"Shut up or I'll hit you with it again. It's a back massager, and it's going in a box, and I'm relieving you of duty in here. Go clear out the bookshelves."

---

"Aw, look, photos of her... And Lucius... And Katrina..." The Largoist trailed off, peering at the picture he'd taken off the front of a cabinet. "Is... Is that a tentacle monster behind them? About to attack?"

"Yeah, I heard about that incident. Look in the background, you can see that Cathal kid being waved around by it in the background."

"Huh. Good for him; he's annoying, and I'm sure he keeps stealing my beef jerky."

"You sure you're not just putting it down and forgetting about it?"

"Positive. I keep it in my pockets so I don't forget it places."

"Please tell me you at least bag it."

"... Why would I want to do that?"

---

"I found more back massagers! And what looks like restraints for bad guys!" The trooper shouted from under the bed, shoving a box out behind him.

There was a thud as someone tripped over the box, followed by a series of crashes as a wardrobe fell on them. "So many magical girl outfits in here. I thought they all stored them magically?"

"I never thought magical girl costumes were so... Small. And had so much lace, or could be so see-through..."

There was a long pause as things dawned on the Largoists. "I'm gonna kill that catboy."

"Besmirching her honour and purity?"

"And for defiling her! He probably took her first kiss too, the bastard."

"What about Katrina?"

"Yuri is the purest form of love. That's why it's so forbidden and delicious. She can stay; it's that damn scotsman that has to go."

---

"Nonono, stop stop STOP STOP STOOOOP!"

There was a thud, a smashing noise, and the tinkle of glass as it fell to the ground a few floors down.

"You idiot. I said stop."

"I thought you were talking to Smith over there, carrying the fish tank?"

"NO NO NO STOP STOP!"

---

"Who the hell puts claymores in a goddamn fish tank?"

"Who the hell just drops someone's fish tank out the goddamn window?"

There was another explosion from below, and both Largoists pulled their heads back inside to avoid the rising fireball.

"I hope that wasn't the landlord's car."

---

"Bathroom fittings aren't hers, we're not taking those."

"Yeah, but this is a really fancy showerhead. Too fancy for a landlord."

"Huh. It totally is. Well, pack it in the box with the back massagers, then."

"Which one?"

"The first one with space in it, idiot."

---

"Stop poking through her drawers and put them in the box already!"

"So much lace... There's not even any substance to this one!"

There was a pause. A long pause.

"Just shut your eyes and empty it out into the box."

---

"THE BOX, you idiot, not over me!"

"Hard to see with my damn eyes shut..."

"DON'T MAKE ME SEND YOU MOUTHBREATHING MORONS TO GUARD THE FIRE!"

---

"Wow, good thing we brought two trucks. How the hell did you fill an entire pallet with back massagers?"

"She has a lot of them, and Ayama-san took over the labeling after the back-scratcher fight."

"... I don't want to know. I don't want to know. I don't want to know."

---

"I can't believe she sent us to guard the fire."

"SIT! STAY! Gooood fire~"

---

"That's a LOT of rope."

"Well, she has to tie bad guys up so the cops can arrest them!"

"This IS the TPCD we're talking about."

"CAN arrest them. And maybe she builds treehouses as a hobby."

"Treehouses?"

"Yeah. For orphans and stuff."

"It's awfully soft rope for tying things to trees with."

---

"Why is there a big metal pole?"

"Well, it's like a fireman's pole."

"To where?"

"Maybe she couldn't get permission to extend it down yet?"

"Guys, pole-dancing is for fitness, not just for strippers."

"ARELLA-CHAN IS NOT A STRIPPER!"

"That's what I said, doofus. Put the gun down. Nobody's calling your waifu a shit."

"Daughteru."

"What?"

"She's too pure and cute for waifu status. I just want to help her and shower her with hugs and gifts and guide her through life, like a daughter."

"Yeah, you're not going on the next Arella mission."

---

"AAAAAARGH! BAD! BAD FIRE! VERY BAD! DOWN!"

---

"Apartment's empty, boss! We saved you some shortcake, too."

There was a metallic slam as the last container was closed, followed by multiple engines starting. "Good. Put those two idiots out and strap them down; we're heading back to HQ. They can explain to the boss how they broke his daughter's fish tank."

"I thought she had a cat, and not a fish tank?"

"She doesn't have one now. Get that bike of hers mounted as well, and let's head out."

After some more work with straps, the convoy set forth. There were a few pauses as things had to be unstuck from buildings, and once for a small group of magical girls to cross the street.

"Damn, that's some good shortcake..."

---

"Right! Get the bed and furniture in first, everything else after. We'll put the walls back in last."

"Yessir! TEAM! Get moving! Heavy bulky things in first, boxes second! Hut hut hut!"

---

"Can't we just pile everything up?"

"No, that'd crush the delicate stuff at the bottom."

"You mean the back massagers?"

"No, those seem to be fairly durable. I mean the stuff from the kitchen."

"Ohhh. Well, we can set that out to one side. Pile the boxes around the edge, she'll know where everything goes."

"Where do you want this box of back scratchers?"

"Stick it in the bathroom with the massagers."

---

Arella was genuinely touched when she got back to her room to find that it had been expanded and (quite literally) transformed into her apartment. Well, her apartment before proper unpacking, and with the addition of all the stuffed animals she'd left at HQ years before. It was actually really, really sweet, even if she couldn't quite be bothered with all the unpacking right after a training session with her dad.

Although... she did feel a twinge of something that might have been closer to guilt or embarrassment when she wandered into the kitchen and realized just how much alcohol they'd ended up transporting for her. She wasn't drinking like she used to, but really, no magical girl should be keeping that much booze on hand, what must they all be thinking of her?

Superhero, not magical girl. Superheroes can drink. It's not a big deal, Arella tried to convince herself, without much success. She somehow found that she hated the idea of letting the Largoists and their faith in her down in any way, which was ridiculous. But of course, that particular concern only lasted until she found her way to the bathroom during her new apartment inspection.

Then she remembered exactly what sort of things would have needed packing. Like the lingerie (carefully organised by coverage), and props, and... um... other things of a rather personal nature that were currently piled into the boxes before her.

Then she rather wished she could die of embarrassment, because oh God, she was never going to be able to look any of them in the eye ever, EVER again!

...Still, she supposed she would need Luc and Kat to help her christen the new apartment... Preferably sooner, rather than later...

"Ah, there you are." Strider remarked from the open doorway. "How's our little princess doing?"

Arella let out a surprised and more than a little embarrassed squeak as particular... thoughts... were interrupted. And also turned a rather adorable shade of red, because of course she did. "Good?" she finally managed to squeak out.

Strider chuckled softly, stepping over to pat her shoulder gently. "Nice to see you're back with us. If you need anything, feel free to call on us, and we'll make it happen for you."

Everything about the magical girl (in denial or not) seemed to soften at that, from her posture to her eyes to her voice. "Thank you," came her sincere response; she could never quite seem to get used to just how sweet everyone was to her here.

Strider smiled, bowing and doffing his helmet to her. "You ARE our princess, after all, milady." He straightened up, grinning, and held out a felt-covered box to her. "Also, one of the removals team found this, and handed it to me for safekeeping. I assume it's important?"

"Oh." Arella's blue eyes turned unusually serious then, as she accepted the box with all the care of one who half expects it to bite her. Or possibly explode, or something. There might have been a slight tremour in her hands, as well. "Yes, I..." More quickly than she'd accepted it, the magical girl was setting it down nearby, as though she couldn't bear to touch it any longer than necessary. She seemed to be having a bit of trouble taking her eyes off it now, however. "I'll have to find a new spot for that. Thank you." Arella then did her best to force a carefree smile as she snarked, "I'd better remind Skorp he still owes me a tiara~" A nice, sparkly tiara, too! That was supposed to come with being a princess, wasn't it?

Strider bowed again, winking. "I'll make sure to find you a nice safe for it, then. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have reports to make. Oh, and you should expect a visit soon from a pair of troopers, apologising about your fish tank."

Frowning in confusion, it took Arella a moment or two to manage to open her mouth with the intention of asking what fish tank? - only to find that he'd dutifully disappeared in the meantime.

"Mrrr?" Ash inquired, from her newly claimed place in Arella's favourite reading chair, somehow managing to sound amused.

"I... We didn't have a fish tank, did we?" the magical girl rather pointlessly asked of her cat.

Ash just continued to look amused, and set about grooming herself.

---

Summary:
Strider pressgangs some volunteers to empty Arella's apartment.
Largoist troops arrive to empty Arella's apartment. And her fridge.
The toilet is gunned down in cold blood. Bye bye security deposit.
They're NOT there to drink wine, eat shortcake, and watch TV. A-HEM.
So many back scratchers and massage aids.
Since when did Arella have a fish tank?
Whoops. Well, she doesn't now.
Why was it full of boom?
Go guard the fire.
The rope is totally for bad guys.
Not waifu. Daughteru!
ARRRGH! BAD FIRE!

BACK TO HQ.
Everything's back exactly as it was.
Aside from the window. No window for Arella. Unsafe.
Lingerie arranged neatly, back scratchers and massagers packed safely in the bathroom.
Books on shelves, booze set out ready.
Hmm. Maybe...
Whoop, nope, there's Strider.
How's their little princess?


---

"Uhm. Arella? You in?"

"Knock, you idiot."

"What if she's sleeping?"

"We're here to apologise, you dolt!"

"Oh yeah. Sorry."

"To her, not me."

Arella let out a bit of a distracted sigh, her glaring match with the box containing her magical girl pendant having been interrupted by the voices outside her door. Which she dutifully answered, in spite of the lack of actual knocking. "Yes?" the cutegirl then inquired, all big blue eyes and distracted curiosity.

The Largoists outside fidgeted nervously, unused to the Cute being turned directly onto them.

"We, uh, we wanted to apologise."

"About your fish tank!"

"Yeah... We kinda dropped it. Out the window."

"And then it exploded. On a car."

"You didn't own a silver Mercedes convertible, did you? Because that sort of blew up when the tank hit it."

"And, uh, half the cars in the lot."

"Yeah, it was full of Claymores."

"Um, no?" came the magical girl's further distracted response as she was reminded of the supposed fish tank she was fairly certain she hadn't owned. "I don't actually remember owning a fish tank, either," she confessed. Ash would've tried to eat them, after all, and she hadn't had any fish before she got Ash, either.

"Well, there weren't any fish in there. Just mines."

"Wait, you don't even know you had a fish tank? How could you..."

Arella gave a rather adorable little shrug, as Ash appeared at her feet to allow the newcomers to fuss over her. "Well, I never had fish growing up, and Ash would've tried to eat them if I got any now, so I definitely never needed a fish tank..." Seriously, had she owned one?

Ash was duly picked up, set on an armoured shoulder, and given pettings and scritches.

"So, uh, we were gonna go out for some ice cream and tea. Want to come?"

"Kitty~ Aren't you the cutest? Yes you are, yes you are~ You're a kitty~ Kitty!"

Ash purred her approval, while Arella blinked a few times, still rather confused by the whole fish tank thing. Seriously, it was bugging her so much, she hadn't even really noticed the more pressing claymore issue, because she definitely hadn't owned any of those. Suppose Ash had jumped on them? Still, the words "ice cream" definitely penetrated her distraction, and she was then quick to reply, "Yes please! Is there any raspberry and white chocolate ice cream? And maybe some raspberry tea?" Because raspberry tea was the best tea, obviously.

"Um. I think so?" The trooper looked to his companion, who was too engrossed in playing with the cat on his shoulder, and shrugged. This dislodged Ash slightly, but her claws stuck fast in the kevlar. "We'll try ice cream parlours until we find one that does." He promised, smiling broadly. "And we can bring the kitty too, since she seems to have anchored herself there."

"Okay~" the magical girl agreed, all thoughts of fish tanks (and, for that matter, what she was going to do with that bloody pendant, and the fact that she probably wasn't supposed to be going out for ice cream in the first place, with the crazy not-Skorp running around) forgotten. Because ice cream.

---

Summary:
Apology accepted. What fish tank?
KITTY kitty kitty kitty KITTY kitty.
Wanna go for tea and icecream?
Raspberry tea?
We'll find some.
Screw danger!
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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Oblivion

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Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 10:46 pm

Post Mon May 30, 2016 9:47 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Title: Stress Management Demolition
Characters: Skorpion, Tiffaney.
Location: FGTL HQ, Downtown.
Authors: Skorpy, Oblivion
Timestamp: After Shiori's recovery.

---

Tiffaney had been sitting in a chair, waiting for Shiori in the snowleopardgirl's gym for a couple hours now, dressed in her full magical girl apparel as she passively punched a massive punching bag and glared at the door. "I wish..." She started, pausing to smack the bag. "I could..." Another punch. "Stop." Punch. "Being." Punch. "So." Punch. "GODDAMN." Big punch. "WORRIED!" She stood abruptly, reeling back before punching the bag off it's chain and into the wall, where it promptly exploded into a cloud of sand. "First Arella, then Lucius, then Johnathan... Now her too!" She ran up to the wall the sandbag had impacted against and rammed her fist into it. "Kicking!" She yelled slamming her other fist against the wall, creating a large dent. "Her head!" She continued, creating another dent. "Like a fucking SOCCER BALL!" She finished, creating two more dents as she said soccer ball. This wasn't the first time she'd destroyed this room in anger. Most of the room needed to be replaced when Johnathan lost his arm. "Once she shows up I'm gonna give her a piece of my mind. Then I'm letting Skorpion know I'm giving this country two weeks to live." She decided before ramming her fist into the wall one final time. "No one messes with my kids, or my friends." She said before going back to sit in her chair, regretting destroying the bag.

"As much as I appreciate the art of destruction, perhaps destroying an entire island for one person is going too far?" Auger said within her mind.

"Shut up! You've destroyed entire PLANETS! Why should I give a crap about a friggin' island!" Tiffaney argued, looking to the no one next to her.

Auger laughed heartily. "You've changed surprisingly little."

"And you haven't changed a damn bit." Tiffaney retorted, leaning back in her chair.

"Of course I haven't. It's been but a mere twenty years since we last conversed." Auger stated.

"Why are we 'conversing' at all, anyway?" Tiffaney asked with a scowl.

"It is about Johnathan-" Auger started.

"What're you gonna say about my son?" Tiffaney interruped to ask with warning in her tone.

"That thing they put in his head. That... Chip, was it called? It must be removed. It impedes him, holds him back, makes him weak." Auger stated, his frustration evident in his tone. "I do not make contracts with weak charges. I am aware Skorpion intends to fix him, but I cannot suffer him being limited by that accursed thing!"

"You know how dangerous that is. The quack didn't design that thing to be removed." Tiffaney interjected.

"He will be fine. I can feel his strength even with that... Thing. Holding him back. I will leave you to your devices now." Auger said before his voice stopped echoing through her head.

"Tch. That high and mighty crap really pisses me off." Tiffaney said, though in all honesty, talking to him again was actually kind of relaxing.

"He's been bugging me, as well." Skorpion remarked, stepping through a particularly large hole in the wall. "And if it's all the same, I'd rather you not destroy this island. I happen to live on it." He sighed, stepping over to Tiffaney and resting a hand on her shoulder. "I was intending to wait, gather information, and strike once we figure out what his motives are, but he hit Ahab's sub, and sank it." He paused, realising that submarines were meant to sink. "Permanently. Breached the reactor, whole thing's resting on the seabed a couple of hundred miles out. No sign of the cap'n, some of the crew didn't make it either."

"I'm not like her, Skorp." Tiffaney said, her eyes sharp and determined in place of the cheerful gentleness he was used to. "I don't have patience for roundabout methods." She said, standing from her chair. "And I don't particularly care about collateral damage either." She informed, the damage to the room an apparent example of that. "Odd that you'd be against me on this." She crossed her arms, making direct eye contact.

"I just don't want you destroying everything I spent the last decade building, and I wasn't finished." Skorpion smiled, meeting her eyes. "I WAS waiting, but he hit Ahab and took out my main supply line. Word has it the Temple of Ping is under new management; no sign of the dragon, and a load of pro-humans coming and going. Once I'm sure it's him, I say we gather what we have before he takes anything else out, and hit him."

"Or I could go over there and tear them apart right now." Tiffaney stated as she began walking to the hole Skorp had entered through. "Tell me where this 'temple' is and I'll take care of the rest." She said in a way that made it clear where Talitha got her attitude.

"What, without support? You'll be chewed up. Give me a week." Skorpion started after her. "Just a week, then we'll kick his ass big time. Artillery, airstrikes, then we go in hard and take him down."

"A week, huh? I was gonna give you two before you told me about this..." Tiffaney said, trailing off as she pondered. "Fine, but all this waiting around is driving me nuts, and Softy won't stop panicking."

"If you want to hit things, there's plenty of mercenary stuff going. Bounties to collect, vampires to slay. Or there's Bruce in the basements if you want a punching bag that won't break so easily."

"It's not the same. I was put in charge to beat Machariah, and he's the problem. I need to beat HIM." Tiffaney said, stopping her walk to the door to face Skorpion with her hands on her hips. "And it's not just not punching things that's bothering me. I'm worried for them. Arella, Johnathan, Shiori, Alexis, Devin, Evangeline, Rekko, Lucius, Katrina, you... I'm worried about everyone and I can't stop..." She admitted, clenching her fists. "I can't stand having a problem I can't just get rid of."

"We're getting rid of him, don't worry about that. Problem is, we need to get rid of him for GOOD. Find the body, tear the implants out, and make sure the nanite organ isn't intact." Skorpion's eyes narrowed, his voice dropping to a low growl. "I want him dead; nobody threatens my family. Especially not now I actually HAVE one."

"And here I was just gonna pound him into juice." Tiffaney said, sharing his sentiment completely. "I hate to say it, but Softy really did make a nice choice with you. You're kinda hot when you show off murderous intent like that." She said, her scowl turning to a smirk.

Skorpion chuckled softly. "Oh, you haven't seen the half of it yet. Wanna go pulverise some Yakuza scumbags?"

"Hmmm." Tiffaney mused, sounding rather pleased with the thought. "So, Softy isn't the only one you can treat to a good time." She said with a grin, reaching up to take holt of the collar of Skorpion's armour and guide him down to eye level. "Tell you what. I'm meeting Shiori here shortly, but if you meet me at the garage in an hour I'll be glad to see just how murderous you can be." She said in a tone that managed to make it sound sensual, her tail swaying from side to side. She felt a lot less angry now.

Skorpion grinned, leaning in to kiss her, a hand reaching up to scritch her ears. "Baby, let's go blow up a building."

Tiffaney smiled, leaning her head into the scritches. "Oh, you're good~" She said, leaning into him before kissing him back.

"I LIKE this side of you, I think." Skorpion remarked, with relish. "After we're done blowing things up, howsabout we..."

Tiffaney interupted him by placing a finger over his lips. "Spoilers."

---

After about fifteen more minutes of waiting Tiffaney eventually gave up. "Fine. I'll just take a shower and get ready for my evening rampage with Skorpion." She decided, thinking that Shiori probably had a really good reason to not be there on time. "This is why I prefer hunting people down over waiting for them." She sighed before walking to her room to pick up her toiletry bag and towel before going to the shower's changing room, dismissing her magical girl outfit (but not her form) before continuing into the showers. "I hope she's really okay..."

"Tiff?"

Tiffaney's ears perked at the familiar voice. "Shiori?!" She questioned, turning sharply and accidentally causing a good ammount of bounce. "What're you doing here?!" She demanded to know, convering herself with her towel.

Shiori looked a little downcast. Dripping wet and starkers, it's apparent that she had been in the showers a while. Normally she'd be bright red at the circumstances of the meeting, but she wasn't. Heck, she wasn't even trying to cover herself. "Oh...sorry. I was in here for a while, enjoying the water, and I guess I forgot about our...our meeting....sorry...."

Tiffaney paused for a moment. This wasn't like her at all. "Answer me honestly... Are you really okay?" She asked, concern for her friend outweighing any impulses on the subject.

"I'm....I'm fine." Shiori's body language was saying otherwise. Her ears were down, her tail drooping, and one hand was on her other elbow, just holding it. "Was, uh, was there something you wanted to talk to me about?"

Tiffaney walked up to Shiori, her towel dropping to the floor as she pulled the snowleopardgirl into a hug. "Don't lie to me. Just let it out or I'll have to make you... Somehow." She said while thinking to herself. "This is more Softy's strong suit then mine, but I gotta help if I can." Before saying aloud, "Tell me what happened."

Shiori didn't do anything for a few moments. Then she simply raised up her hands and hugged Tiff in close, very close, but not doing anything further after that.

"Softy. I'm gonna need you to pull yourself together here for a few minutes, because I don't think I can do this." Tiffaney thought to herself as she gently stroaked Shiori's hair. "It's okay. You can cry if you need to." She said, doing her best to imitate the gentleness of her other self.

She still didn't say anything, but she did make the hug a bit closer.

After a few moments of silence Tiffaney's hair returned to it's usual brunette as her toned physique became only slightly squishier, the catgirl doing her best not to be over emotional. "Take as long as you need." She said in the sweet motherly tone everyone was used to hearing as she continued to stroke Shiori's hair.

They didn't move for another fifteen minutes, save for the pair of them awkwardly making it back to sit under the shower itself. Eventually, Shiori pulled back a bit, with a small sniff. "Th-thanks." She breathed in, then out, causing a bit of jiggle herself. In moments, she described what happened, in very vivid detail; about the date, the plans she had after the date, the interruption, the fight...and then, the end of it all.

"Last I remember is being thrown into a can... next thing I know, I'm reviving in that room, after hearing my sister tell me point blank that I was safe to do so."

Tiffaney listened intently to Shiori's story, taking in every detail. "I see... You really cared for him didn't you?" She asked, resting a hand on her friend's shoulder. "You told me he's a Land Warrior, right?"

Shiori didn't answer her first bit, looking rather awkward instead. "He-he was...is, a prototype or something."

Tiffaney nodded, cupping her chin between the pointer finger and thumb of her right hand as she tried to remember details from notes she was givin. "Eikichi Ramirez-Kisaragi..." She muttered as she recalled several pages of documents that she really shouldn't know about. "Prototype or not he should still have a relatively high healing rate, and his nanites should be able to keep him alive through a good deal of damage..."

Shiori sniffed again "I-I hope so..b-but he must think that...that...that...."

"You're dead..." Tiffaney looked to Shiori. "But you're not, and if he wasn't either. Then... The smart thing to do would be to let no one know." She pondered before concluding. "He's probably alive, not quite up and about, but alive. He was a volunteer, so it's likely that if he did survive he'd be given upgrades before redeployment... After, he's healed that is."

"Y-yeah. I guess....yeah." She still looked very down about things.

"Shiori, look at me." Tiffaney said before speaking again. "I saw what footage there was. You were giving everything you had out there. You fought him alone and drew him away from Eikichi." She said, pausing a moment. "You didn't fail him, Shiori." She said, giving her another hug. "If he's still alive it's bacuse you were there to help him."

The snow leopard girl gave a small nod, sniffling a little again.

Tiffaney looked to Shiori for a brief time before impulsively pulling the snowleopardgirl onto her lap, noting the unexpected weight as she wrapped her in yet another tender hug before humming Alexis' favourite lullaby from the her childhood. She didn't know if this was the right thing to do or not, but she couldn't not try.

Shiori sat there, a little stunned, for a moment. Eventually, though, she relaxed into Tiff's arms and snuggled in.

Tiffaney continued to hum, gently petting the back of Shiori's head and even slowly rocking from side to side.

Finally the supersoldier relaxed a bit. She allowed herself another fifteen minutes to be cuddled in such a way, when finally she gave Tiff a pat on the back. "I-I-I'm ok now...."

"Are you sure?" Tiffaney asked, in no way keeping her there.

"Well...I could be convinced to stay like this a little longer, maybe?"

"As long as you need."

Shiori grinned, and snuggled up mightily.

---

Skorpion leaned on the side of the Beast, grinning to himself. The various mechanics and drivers milling around gave him a wide berth, along with the path he'd cleared to the exit. Being the boss had privileges, after all. A thought occurred to him, and he reached down, sliding a drawer out from the side of the vehicle and checking the contents.

Not far away Tiffaney walked around a vehicle into sight. "Sorry I took so long!" She semi-shouted, holding her hand up to her mouth after being pretty late. "Had to take care of a few things." She vaguely explained as she approached Skorpion.

"Many new holes in the my walls, then?" Skorpion asked, wrapping an arm around her waist to tug her into him as she approached. "I've got a target picked out. A few high-level targets in the penthouse, and a building full of mooks with enough merchandise in there to be worth stealing." He leaned down to kiss her, grinning. "They think I'm too busy with Machariah to hit them."

Tiffaney rested a hand on his chest as she was pulled in, grinning up to him. "Ooh?" She mused before the kiss, her tail giving an excited flicker. "Sounds like they need to be hit then." She resolved, not at all concerned with passers-by giving the occasional glance. "And to answer the question you almost asked me before we parted ways..." She said, giving a small giggle. "You're definitely on the right track."

Skorpion's grin widened as he broke the kiss. "I'm tempted to demolish the building on the way out, just to make a statement." He stepped back a little, sliding his hands down to Tiffaney's waist to lift her into the Beast before climbing in himself. "Let's go clear the streets."

"Might earn you a few brownie points with me, too." Tiffaney said as she was lifted into the Beast, sliding into her seat before strapping in. "I'm glad she chose a man who isn't all talk." She remarked as he climbed in.

"Not many men can start with nothing but a stolen truck full of stolen guns and end up as a prince." Skorpion quipped, before starting the engine. The wave of noise caused the surrounding vehicles to rock on their suspension as the ignition caught, and he started for the exit, picking up speed. By the time the vehicle hit the ramp out, it was moving fast enough for 7 tonnes of engine and armour plate to get airborne briefly.

Tiffaney grabbed the dashboard, grinning madly as the two drove off to their destination.

---

A rampage of broken speed limits, destroyed cameras, crushed keicars, shortcuts through shopping malls and buildings, and a stop for drive-thru later, Skorpion pulled up near the building in question. "So. Would you rather go in on foot and be an obvious target, or do we smash our way through the door, knock out the lifts, destabilise the building, and disembark into a hail of surprised gunfire?"

"Both." Tiffaney said as she disembarked from the Beast. "I'm gonna walk up, see if I can get one of what I can only imagine are two stupid and large men to lean close enough for me to break his nose with my forehead. After that I'll improvise on the other and let you ram through the front." She planned with a grin. "What do ya think?"

"Both is good." Skorpion returned the grin. "We shouldn't need it, but I've freed up artillery support, so give me a call if you need an explosive distraction other than my driving."

"I won't, but I'll keep it in mind." Tiffaney said, blowing Skorpion a kiss before starting to the front door. "Normally feminine charm wouldn't work with me, but I'm friggin hot now so I'm sure I can get some dumbasasackofbricks bozo to bend down far enough to break his nose. She thought to herself with a grin. "Hell yes for puberty, workouts, and science!"

Skorpion grinned, adjusting the position of the Beast to get the best run at the doors; crabbing it around sideways thanks to all-wheel steering and power.

At the door, the two overfed Yakuza boneheads eyed Tiffaney as she approached, sizing her up.

"<Who's the chick?>"

"<I don't know. Thought you knew?>"

"<I don't know. Don't think anyone ordered a hooker or a strip-o-gram.>"

"<Hey, boys. I heard someone here had a fetish for 'tough girls' and karate clothes.>" Tiffaney said with a confident smile. "This is immediately terrible, but I'm invested." She thought before rolling with it. "<Someone to... Well... You know the profession.>" She said with a wink as she tugged on her chest wraps.

The bouncers looked at each other, eyes rolling in unison. The one with the blond-dyed hair raised his eyebrows, before putting a hand to his ear. "<Boss? Anyone order a call girl? Western-looking chick, wierd-dyed hair like one of those scene girls you have a thing for, wearing a gi?>"

There was a pause, and the other bouncer leaned down to peer at Tiffaney, his red mohawk waving in the wind. "<You don't LOOK like a hooker...>"

"<I think that was the point. Minus the fact that there is not bra under these chest wraps...>" Tiffaney said, passing up her chance to go with to plan to see if she could actually get inside. "Bad comes to worse I'll take them out when they turn me away. It'll be less funny, but getting a chance to waltz right up to the primary target and take him out first is totally worth it. Then I can just fight my way down as Skorpion fights his way up, meet in the middle and wing the rest." She thought to herself while keeping up the act. "<Someone here wanted a 'tough girl' to fuck. A tsundere or whatever, and I'm friggin' cold out here dressed like this.>" She lied. "And if you get any closer I'm going with plan A." She didn't say.

"<Yeah, I can see that.>" The mohawk-ed guard commented, leaning in closer to leer at her. As he did so, the blonde guard straightened up and stepped aside.

"<Boss-man says someone ordered one, so in you go. Conference room, third floor, see the receptionist for a visitor badge.>" The guard waved her in through the door as he stepped aside.

"<You're not gonna develop laser vision anytime soon, bud.>" Tiffaney snarked to the leering man as he straightened up. "<You're free to keep trying though.>" She quipped before entering the building. "Poor sods don't know they're gonna die." She thought as she walked to the elevator. "How long till Skorp gets bored?

---

"<What... Why are you DOING this? You're that Skorpion guy, you could just pay instead of just grabbing me on the way to someone else...>"

Skorpion sighed. "<I'm not stealing you. I'm just stopping you getting in there.>"

"<But WHY?>" The call-girl asked, stomping her foot in irritation as she huddled out of the wind.

"I don't have time for this."

"<What?>"

"<Look. I'm the one that ordered you, okay? That's why the outfit.>"

The girl looked down at her outfit, and giggled. "<Oh, you've got a special fetish for the tsundere types, huh? Well, it's not like I WANT to or anything, I'm only here 'cause you're paying me...>"

"Ugh! <Just go home. You're someone's cover story.>"

"<A girl's gotta eat!>"

Skorpion handed the girl a fistful of cash, turned, and climbed back into the Beast. "<Just GO. Go buy yourself something nice.>"

The girl shrugged and wandered off, counting the money in her hand. A little way off, she paused and turned back to Skorpion, waving it accusingly. "<HEY! I don't take your funny money! Yen or nutnin', honey!>"

"<Sealand Dollars are perfectly legal tender. Pegged to the US dollar.>"

"<But nobody TAKES them! I can't buy b... Food with this! AND you only gave me 20! This is all singles!>"

"<I said something NICE, not something expensive.>" Skorpion sighed as he slammed the door, the vehicle starting forwards a brief moment later, gaining speed as it headed for the building ahead, leaving the girl behind in the tire smoke and dust.

---

Tiffaney's progress upwards was halted as the building shook, followed by the elevator stopping and the lights going out. "That was fast." She remarked before jumping through the roof of the elevator and up the shaft to take hold of the third floor door and pry it open to step through. "<Hello?>"

Her answer was a handful of shots from a panicked-looking man in a suit hunched against the wall down the corridor.

Tiffaney quickly dashed forward, punching the bullets out of the way as she rapidly closed the gap. Once she was in range she kicked the gun from the man's hand. "<Magical girl speech about love and crap!>" She yelled before kicking him through the wall and out of the side of the building.

The man gave a surprised and terrified scream as he sailed out the building, bouncing off the next building over and falling into the street. The crashing summoned more mooks to her, as shooting broke out downstairs.

Tiffaney brought up her fists and dashed into battle, upercutting the closest goon through the ceiling, and roundhouse kicking the man behind him into the wall.

Office buildings being what they were, the walls and ceiling yielded easily, showering the room with plasterboard and crushed ceiling tile. Mooks swarmed in, some firing guns as others charged in with drawn swords. "<GET HER!>"

Tiffaney weaved her way through the oncoming gunfire as she intercepted a man with a sword, catching the blade as it swung down; crushing it before palm-thrusting him into a couple of shooters. "<Get her!>" She mocked in a shrill, nasally voice.

The mooks went down in a tangle of limbs and weapons, the remainder starting to look decidedly reluctant to join the fray. This was not improved by the explosion rocking the building from above them, followed by screams from down the corridor.

"<Sorry, but you really don't have the slightest of chances.>" Tiffaney informed as she cracked her knuckles. "<Now, drop your weapons and get ready to take your lumps.>"

The mooks turned and fled, pushing and shoving in their eagerness to get away from the crazy woman. There was a spray of gunfire, and they stopped outside, bunching together in confusion. This turned into a full-fledged rout past Tiffaney as Skorpion emerged from the corridor, wielding his chainsword and an MP7. "Oh, hello dear. Fancy meeting you here." He remarked, casually spraying a few of the runners with armour-piercing rounds. "I see you managed to get in okay?"

Tiffaney grabbed a man from the crowd as they ran past, punching him in the face and knocking him out before dropping him to the floor like a ragdoll. "Okay enough. Don't look like a hooker, so that's always nice."

"Always good!" Skorpion remarked, stepping on a fallen mook as he reached down to retrieve the man's shotgun. "Ooh, this is a rare one. Folding stock AND a short barrel. Anyway. You'll mostly find low-ranked idiots down here, more tattoos than sense. The type of thugs who can't count to ten without taking off their socks." He held up the man's hand, which was missing a couple of fingers (and had been before Skorpion had broken the rest to relieve him of his shotgun). "<Didn't the first one teach you not to fuck up? Idiot.>"

"Sooo. Go up before a helicopter shows up?" Tiffaney asked.

"Yup. I can probably shoot it down if they DO get out, but missiles are expensive." Skorpion grinned, stepping on another mook to extend his hand to Tiffaney. "We'll have to take the other stairs, though. The ones I used have a serious case of boom going on in there. Not really structurally sound." The building groaned as if to accentuate that. "And I think some of those pillars in the lobby weren't decorative. I asked the receptionist, but he was too busy doing his nails and cowering in terror to answer."

Tiffaney accepted Skorpion's hand and stepped close, hopping up to give him a quick kiss. "Let's go then."

---

Skorpion led the way to the stairwell, leaving the occasional maimed or dead Yakuza thug behind them, some missing parts where his chainsword had chewed them off. As they reached it, he swapped his weapons for a crossbow, aiming for the flight of stairs. "I don't know about you, but I don't want to walk all the way up there."

"Race you up!" Tiffaney announced, hopping on the railing and waiting for Skorpion to take off.

Skorpion grinned, firing the crossbow up and clipping the bow into the rope trailing from it. Once the bolt had achored itself into the ceiling with a *blam*, he winked at Tiffaney and rose upwards, gathering speed quickly.

Once Skorpion was propelled upwards, Tiffaney jumped after him, launching ahead briefly, before Skorpion could catch up due to Tiffaney's lack of constant thrust. The two reached their destination at roughly the same time, Skorpion less than a second ahead. "You win this time." Tiffaney conceded.

Skorpion chuckled as he swung himself over the railing. "What's the use in making superhero toys if you don't get to beef them up and use them yourself? I'm only a few months off a working jetpack; fusion torch using a Stark arc reactor to heat it." He opened the nearest fire door through the simple method of punching through it and operating the pushbar. "Ladies first~"

"Thanks, love." Tiffaney said with a wink as she walked past him and through the door.

On the other side of the door was an oasis of calm, with any panicked fleeing being done quietly and politely and at a swift walking pace rather than a screaming run.

"Uhhhh. Boo?" Tiffaney said, more to bring attention to herself then anything.

The nearest mook held up a hand to excuse himself, and pulled out a suppressed MP5 to open fire at Tiffaney. "<I apologize for the rudeness, but we have an intruder!>"

Tiffaney stood her ground and knocked the bullets away, waiting until the goon emptied his magazine before taking a nearby chair and tossing it into the center of the room, because everyone knows shit goes down when somebody throws a chair.

The mook placed his gun quietly onto an end table before drawing a wakizashi and diving to catch the chair before it hit the thick shag carpeting, gesturing with a slippered foot to the '<Quiet, please>' sign on the wall.

Tiffaney gave the man a soft clap before taking two steps to the right and grabbing a second chair to toss into the far right corner of the room.

The man dove for the second chair, wincing as it hit the carpet with a slight thud. The silence was then shattered as Skorpion opened fire through the wall; a round punching through the wall, the mook, the chair, and the wall on the other side of him, trailing smoke.

"Quality control is slipping. That was labeled as a HESH round, dammit." Skorpion grumbled as he stepped through the door. "But I guess that works too." He leaned down to peer curiously through the hole in the far wall. "Always wondered what'd happen if I fired one of those indoors. Now I know, I guess."

"Ha! Quiet that!" Tiffaney yelled, now that the silence was broken.

"Be hard to; I think it's still accelerating. Half these walls seem to be paper and plywood." Skorpion commented, snapping the cylinders out on his boltgun and rearranging the shells inside. "Looks like I have to make a business trip to the Ukraine soon. Fancy a trip to eastern Europe, dear?"

"Sounds exotic. You'll buy me things, won't you?" Tiffaney asked as she dragged a third chair a small distance away and sat in it to watch Skorpion work.

"Oh, of course!" Skorpion assured her. "After all, I'm a major employer in the region, what with the ammo factory there, and all the equipment I'm moving out of the former Soviet union." He finished his work with the boltgun and set about reloading it. "They have the world's finest borsht there. Real gourmet stuff, only the finest beetroots make it in."

"Oh? We'll have to go once Machariah is destroyed. You can show me around, and we can have all sorts of exotic meals." Tiffaney smiled as she awaited the carnage.

Skorpion snapped the gun closed, spinning the chambers before the motor took over and rotated one into position. He picked his sword up in the other hand, the teeth starting to spin as he gripped it. "Shouldn't take too long to be rid of him. And, frankly, ever since I got this job I've wanted to go raid another faction properly." He grinned, using the sword to slice and tear a hole in the wall he'd just shot through. "If he's intent on occupying one, I'll have to pick up one of the old plans for it." He stepped through the hole, pausing midway. "Wait a minute. Last I heard, there was a dragon inhabiting the place. Filled it full of bunnies, for some reason." He scratched his head with the back of his hand, the sword in said hand chewing a hole through the ceiling as he did so. "Must have moved out or something. Knowing dragons, it probably took up residence at Lola's club to watch the bunnygirls." He shrugged, and carried on through the wall.

Tiffaney shrugged. "Any reason why you're not going through doors, dear?"

"People EXPECT doors." Skorpion pointed out, as if it was obvious. "Nobody expects you to just chew through a wall. Oh, excuse me, am I interrupting something? Terribly sorry." Skorpion swung the sword, producing an array of crackling noises as it demolished the laptop on the desk. "No, put that away, didn't your mother ever tell you not to point guns at people? No? Too bad." There was another swing, a brief grinding noise, and a series of splatters. "There we go. No gun, no..." Skorpion sighed, stepping away from the desk. "Some people have no sense of drama. He just fainted, didn't even let me finish the sentence!"

Tiffaney giggled. "Twenty years, and mooks are still the same."

"Twenty years ago, I was dealing with these assholes in New York." Skorpion sliced through the desk, nudging the wreckage aside so he had room to step away from the hole. "Only thing that's changed is that they're stepping on my business interests, not the other way around."

"Chemnitz." Tiffaney responded, that being the city that she magical girled in back in her time.

"East Germany?" Skorpion asked. "That'd be the Russian mafia out there. They make these guys look like amateurs."

"Yup. You gotta be tough over there." Tiffaney said, posing to resemble the 'We Can Do It!' pinup. "They tend to shoot first."

"Yup. I've found the trick is to beat them to the trigger on that." Skorpion grinned back at her through the wall, before striding across the office to attack the next wall. "Shoot first, shoot more, and with bigger guns. Still nowhere near as bad as the Chechen mafia, though; they're the type to start actual wars to shore up their drug trade. They have more guns than I do!"

"One problem at a time." Tiffaney said, standing up to walk next to Skorpion. "Having fun, dear?"

"Of course." Skorpion remarked, stepping through the freshly-carved hole and opening fire on an ambush set up at the room's door.

"One of them our target? Honestly, I can't tell goons apart most of the time." Tiffaney asked as the room's occupants were mowed down.

Skorpion shrugged, switching guns for his desert eagle. "They'll be the ones in the expensive suits, in the fanciest rooms. Money floats to the top."

Tiffaney nodded. "Then let's wrap up this up. We have bedsprings to test."

Skorpion grinned widely. "Well, if you put it like that..." He set his weapons down to pull out a LAW from his bag, opening it up and aiming it at a seemingly random angle through the wall. It fired with a whoosh of rocket exhaust and a crackle of burning upholstery, carving through a handful of walls before hitting something solid enough to trip the warhead. Skorpion tossed the smoking tube aside, picked up his weapons, and set off after it, enlarging the holes as he went. "Floor plan says the top offices are this way."

Tiffaney gave a pleased grin before setting off after him. "Oh, I won't be able to stay with you for the whole night, though. We'll discuss the rest later." She said to ensure she remembered.

"I'd object, but I don't really have time to sleep a full eight hours anyway." Skorpion replied, pausing to chop bits off a group of mooks. "Busy busy busy, you know how it is these days. Definitely have to take a proper holiday after this, maybe after the shuttle's launched. Not much to do then but watch and wait, and I can do that anywhere I can get an internet connection."

"There's always the Ukraine, maybe France after that?" Tiffaney suggested, now that she had an urge for travel. "Not the United States though. I'm fairly certain we're both wanted to the point where it wouldn't be relaxing."

"France could be nice. Romantic, if you ignore the locals, the government, and the terrorism problem. We've got to visit the original Sealand, too, even if it's an AA tower." He shouldered through a thin wall, not bothering with the sword. "We could even bother Hellsing to see if they'll give me another research grant to go away. Hey, there's a coffee machine in here. Want a cappucino?"

"Sure, I could use a pick-me-up." Tiffaney said, casually.

Skorpion jabbed at the machine, and set about looting the bodies nearby while it groaned and shuddered and squealed. After a few moments, the machine spat out a perfect cappuccino, which Skorpion handed to Tiffaney. "Here you are, dear." He smiled to her, before turning back to the machine and mashing the espresso button like it was an arcade machine, while holding the door shut. A few moments of electronic protests and grinding noises later, he extracted a large cup full of steaming hot jet black liquid, still bubbling as it sat there. "Cheers."

"Cheers!" Tiffaney echoed, tapping her cup against his before sipping at her cappuccino a bit before letting out a small sigh.

Skorpion raised his drink before chugging it in one go. There was a long pause, and he twitched, squeezing the trigger on the sword still clutched in his free hand. "Ohhh, that's some good coffee." He remarked, slapping a label on the machine with a *thud*. "I'm keeping this."

"Tired of nuclear coffee, are we?" Tiffaney teased, placing a hand on her hip and raising an eyebrow with a grin before drinking the rest of her cappucino.

"Oh, no. The heating method is far superior, but I'm definitely taking the workings of this thing and adding them to it. And their coffee, too." Skorpion grinned, placing his empty cup in the hand of one of the bodies. "Here, hold this for me, there's a good fellow. Right! Onwards!" Skorpion gestured with his sword, before drop-kicking a frag grenade clean through the next door.

Tiffaney held out her empty cup as if handing it to someone before letting go to let it drop to the floor, not so much as flinching as the grenade went off. "You think we bring trouble on ourselves by doing things like this?"

"Probably." Skorpion agreed, using one mook's arm to beat another one to death. "But it's not like I can live any other way, is it? What am I supposed to do, hide in a hole in the ground and hope nobody comes to tear it off? Been there, done that, someone shoved a beam sword through the roof to get at me. You've got to take things head on. Take this whole Machariah thing, for example." He continued, slicing another mook in half with his sword. "If I'd known he was still alive, I'd have smashed his head in right there on the slab. I seem to remember I tried to get him killed a few times during training, but it turns out we can survive being fed through jet engines, run over by tanks, and blown up with a brick of C4 in our day packs." He paused, thinking. "In fact, he WAS dead. I woke up, he didn't. He can't have gotten up on his own, not after that long." He turned to Tiffaney, frowning. "Could he? I mean, you've seen the notes. All I know is what I was told."

Tiffaney nodded. "He suffered total brain death. There's no way he could have come back without necromancy, and I didn't sense any on him... Though the nanites did well to preserve his body... You think there could be something piloting him, in a sense?"

"There WAS an AI lab next door. Hateful thing, and I'm pretty sure it's why half the class lost their minds when they first connected to the internet. It wanted to hitch a ride out in my head, but I made sure to plant charges around it's server on my way out." Skorpion sighed, shooting the last of the mooks half-heartedly through the head. "Maybe it just moved in and puppeted him out of there?"

"It's not impossible." Tiffaney considered. "He'd need to be connected at the time though." She thought as a goon charged her, she grabbed his neck and crushed his jugular without really thinking about it. "Do you remember him being hooked up to a machine when you left?"

"Wi-fi." Skorpion pointed out. "He wouldn't need to be plugged in, it could have gotten in over a radio link."

"If we could find evidence, this could be a weakness." Tiffaney stated.

"Maybe Devin could hack him?" Skorpion asked. "I mean, he's tried to do it to me before. Maybe distract him in combat, so he can't use the biological bits to fend off Devin's attack?"

"It could work. I mean that's what we augmented him to do, but I don't want to risk it." Tiffaney said, rather understandably.

"He doesn't need to be nearby, though, just have a high-bandwidth relay nearby. I can probably pack an APC full of computers for that..." Skorpion mused, before snapping back to reality. "Wait, I'm in the middle of a Yakuza office building. Now is not the time for mechanics and plotting. They can wait. This is time for finding and killing the targets before their security arrives in force." Skorpion sighed. "On with the murder!"

"Onward-we're not done talking about this-onward!" Tiffaney stated, pointing forward.

"We'll pick up later." Skorpion assured her, before setting off for the main offices.

"I'll clear a path, you rush through." Tiffaney said with a smirk as she cracked her knuckles in front of a wall.

Skorpion nodded, stepping back a little way and reloading.

Tiffaney planted her feet, slowly bringing her fist back, her aura pooling into it until it flashed white. Then she swung; the power blasting a hole through every wall from her to the side of the building. "Go!"

Skorpion pushed off the opposite wall, picking up speed steadily as he broke into a run; a quarter of a tonne of super-soldier, armour, and weaponry charging through the remains of the walls. His sword swung and flashed as he ran, anything not cut down by it or the large pistol in his other hand being shouldered aside with his momentum.

Tiffaney waited a moment before dashing in behind him to take out any stragglers.

Skorpion emerged into a fancy office, slowing to a halt in the middle of an ornamental fishpond. Or, rather, in the splintered remains of the ornamental bridge over the ornamental fishpond, surrounded by a group of shocked old men in yukatas. "I think I found them!"

"Excellent. We take them out, then continue the night in private." Tiffaney said with a confident grin.

Skorpion grinned, reaching out to grab the nearest one. "After we set the charges, of course."

The resulting fight was more of a butchering. The ornamental fishpond ran red with ornamental blood, the thing that went 'doink' 'doink'ed it's last 'doink' as someone was suplexed through it by Tiffaney, and the decorative panelling was redecorated in the post-brutalist style through the mixed media of blood, gore, and scorchmarks.

"That was fun." Skorpion commented, dropping the last of the ornamental fish into a not-so-ornamental bucket of clean water. "I'm keeping these, by the way. No reason they should die; they haven't done anything wrong. I mean, you're all corrupt scumbags, but these fish are innocent. Also, Arella's getting a new fish tank and needs some fish to go in it." He explained to the bodies around the room. "Who's a good fishy?"

The fish looked at him.

Skorpion looked at the fish.

"Yeah, okay, fine." Skorpion sighed, setting the bucket down on the desk and slapping a label on it. "I'll leave them for the support crew."

"For a second I thought you were going to tell me you intended to eat them." Tiffaney said with raised eyebrows, surprised that the conversation didn't revolve around food.

"Oh, please, I'm not Lucius. And these are koi carp anyway; tasteless and rubbery to a fault." Skorpion replied, waving a hand dismissively at the bucket. "By the time you've gutted and filleted them, maybe two, three bites apiece. Not worth frying."

"Sounds like you've done it." Tiffaney commented in a very Alexis-like fashion, complete with a semi-taunting smirk.

Skorpion shrugged. "When you're on the run from a secret research lab with no money, no memories, and with a collection of other people's stolen uniforms for clothing, you can't exactly wander into Denny's."

"You've certainly come a long way." Tiffaney said as she walked up to him, taking hold of the collar of his armour to guide him down for a kiss.

Skorpion leaned down, returning the kiss with gusto, leaning Tiffaney back. "Mm. Indeed I have. From black lab escapee to a nuclear-armed principality with a space program. And, of course, a beautiful girlfriend who is alternately a gifted scientist or a catgirl magical girl that punches through walls."

"Quite the flatterer too." Tiffaney purred. "Are we about finished here?" She asked, wrapping her arms around his neck. "I'll show you that I can do more then just punch through walls." She teased, her tail swaying from side to side.

Skorpion picked her up in his arms and started off for the staircase. "Just got to stick a few charges on structural elements, then we're done."

Tiffaney's ears perked as she was suddenly lifted into Skorpion's arms, deciding after a short time that she rather liked it. "Shame we live so far away. I wouldn't mind you carrying me to bed like this." She said with a sense of excitement and anticipation. "Though I wouldn't mind some fireworks."

Skorpion paused to slap a brick of C4 onto a pillar. "Fireworks will come when we get back; got to have the support teams finish gutting the place first."

"Alright" Tiffaney agreed. "It wouldn't ruin your image to carry me through HQ, would it?"

Skorpion chuckled softly. "Not at all. It's not like our relationship is secret or anything, after all."

"Good!" Tiffaney said with a big smile in an unmistakably pleased tone.

---

Skorpion handed the Big Red Button to Tiffaney as they lay together. "Would you like to do the honours, dear?"

"My pleasure, darling." Tiffaney said with a smile as she took the button, taking a moment to settle before pushing it.

Across town, the Yakuza building shuddered as charges severed important structural columns. It wavered briefly before collapsing downwards and in on itself. From there, the dust settled briefly before it exploded again, hurling dust and debris over a wide area.

Skorpion chuckled as the screen (linked to an exterior camera) showed the fireball across town, followed shortly afterwards by the building shaking as the shockwave hit. "Did the earth move for you, too?" He quipped to Tiffaney, smirking.

Tiffaney giggled, pulling herself to Skorpion to kiss him passionately.

---

Summary:
Magical Girl Tiffaney is taking out her frustrations on the gym, and resolves to sink Japan in two weeks if Machariah isn't dead by then
Property damage!
Auger and Tiffaney have a small discussion over Johnathan
He's been bugging Skorpion about it too
Skorpion isn't keen on sinking Japan
Skorpion think he may know where Machariah is, but wants to confirm before attacking
Tiffaney disagrees and wants to wipe them out now
Skorpion talks Tiffaney down and the two make arrangements to take out some stress on the Yakuza
Skorpion heads off to prepare while Tiffaney waits for Shiori
Oddly, Shiori doesn't show up so Tiffaney decides to take a shower to prepare for her date
Turns out that Shiori was in the shower
She doesn't seem alright and Magical Girl Tiffaney isn't the best at comforting people, so normal Tiffaney takes over
A lot of hugging before Shiori is comfortable enough to talk
After hearing the story in detail Tiffaney theorizes the Ei may still be alive
Tiffaney does everything she can to let Shiori know that what happened that night wasn't her fault
Comforting shower cuddling
A while later Skorpion is waiting by the Beast and Magical Girl Tiffaney is running a bit late, but feeling much better now that she knew Shiori was feeling better
The two flirt for a bit before headding off to the target of the evening
Skorp asks Tiffaney how she wants things to go down
She decides to try her luck at getting in after a couple of spur-of-the-moment decisions
She actually manages to get inside due by pretending to be a call-girl due to Skorpion paying off the real one
Apparently Sealand money isn't popular
Tiffaney is in the elevator when the Beast crashes into the side of the building, and she jumps up to the third floor where she is met by gunfire
Murder and mayhem from Skorp below as Tiffaney pounds through the third floor
Skorpion fights his way to Tiffaney who is doing well, and is quite pleased that she doesn't look like a hooker
The two are met with a flight of stairs and they race to the top
Skorpion wins this one
Oddly quiet it is up there, all manners and suppressed machineguns
Tiffaney throws a chair to the center of the room, because shit hits the fan when someone throws a chair!
A mook catches the chair before it hit the ground, earing him a small clap from Tiffaney before she throws a second chair out of his reach
The chair hits the ground and Skorpion opens fire
Skorp and Tiff plan a vacation to Eastern Europe
Tiffaney takes a break to watch Skorpion saw through walls and clear rooms
Apparently Tiffaney grew up in the East German city of Chemnitz
Tiffaney wants to wrap up the mission for... Reasons.
Further discussion of vacations before a coffee break
Skorpion's keeping the coffee machine
Coffee break over and the murder streak continues over theorizing about Machariah
Skoprion'll have to get Devin on that
Tiffaney and Skorpion agree to continue that discussion later
Tiffaney punches a shortcut throught several walls so Skorpion can charge ahead to clear rooms faster with her taking out stragglers
Ornamental targets are ornamentally found and ornamentally dealt with in an ornamental fashion
Skorpion's keeping the ornamental fish... For Arella, and not eating
Charge planted and the two head home for... Reasons
Later that evening a romantic firework (demolition) show!
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!"
<<

Arella

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Posts: 129

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:49 pm

Location: Ontario, Canada

Post Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:17 pm

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Just Dance

Location: FGTL HQ, a club in downtown Tokyo, the parking lot
Timestamp: between Shiori and Ei's first and last dates, and after John lost his arm
Characters: Lexi, Arella, Eva, Katrina, Tiffaney, Skorpion, various Largoist NPCs, Mimi, Lola
Guest Appearances By: Viola and the Valkyries, and Korosu
Authors: Oblivion, Arella, DarkTan, Skorpy, Canto

Alexis was sitting alone in her room, laying down on her bed and staring at the ceiling as she listened to music. "I gotta get outta here." She said as she got off her bed. "But if he could get John..." She said, rubbing her left shoulder. "I can't believe he could beat John." She sat back onto her bed and moped with her ears folded back. "But I don't wanna just sit here... Alone." She looked to her phone and took it off her nightstand. "Maybe Arella wouldn't mind hanging out or something." She thought aloud as she selected her friend from her contacts list to call her.

Instead of answering, however, Arella just went ahead and knocked on Lexi's door. She didn't have any hands free for her phone anyway, seeing as she was carrying what looked like clothes, a handful of high heels, and a... makeup bag?

Alexis' ears perked at the sound of knocking. "Rekko?" She guessed from the bedroom before remembering he had a key. She terminated the call and got up, slipping on a tee shirt before going to answer the door wearing blue pyjama bottoms and a wrinkled, inside out yellow shirt that read 'Fun Sized' backwards along the chest due to being inside out. "Arella?"

"We're going out," the totally-not-a-magical-girl-I-swear informed, letting herself inside in that way only a best friend can manage while simultaneously passing over the makeup bag and a few of the shoes to free up her hands a bit. "It's not good, being cooped up all the time, and I think we need some time to unwind and stop caring about things so much, so we're gonna go clubbing, even if dad has to send out a whole squad with us to keep himself happy." Clearly, she was a girl on a mission, and nothing was going to stop her.

"But what about Machariah?" Alexis asked with genuine concern, as she closed the door behind her friend. "I don't know about you, but I can't do close range combat. Going out is really dangerous right now; clubbing even more so." The wolfgirl said, her ears folding back as she walked back to her room to sit on her bed and hug a plushie in her lap.

"He'll just have to deal with us going out, or he can spend the night trapped in a bubble," Arella informed, sounding rather impressively unconcerned as she followed after her friend. "Seriously, fsck him, he can't keep us all trapped in here forever, a girl's gotta get out with her friends every now and then - it'll be good for us. And I can apparently beat dad in a sword fight, we'll be fine." Sometime during all this, the blonde had managed to replace Lexi's music with her own (hers was much better for dancing, and not at all good for moping), unloaded herself of all she'd been carrying, and was now handing Lexi a new dress. "You're wearing this, by the way." Arella then frowned, finally seeming to realize her friend was dressed in her pjs. And the top was inside out. Then Lexi got a little nudge towards the door. "Go wash up, then hurry back here, we've gotta get ready for clubbing. It's gonna be fun!"

Alexis held out the dress as she was slowly but surely nudged off of her bed and into her bathroom. "I can't wear this!" She protested as a blush started to form on her cheeks. "It looks like it won't even make it completely down my thighs."

"Neither does mine!" the (not?) magical girl declared rather happily, as if that was half the fun and, indeed, half the point of the entire enterprise. "Now hurry up, Eva will be here soon, and Kat's joining us later, too." Though the latter wouldn't be joining them until after everyone was dressed and ready, because Arella was aware of how nervous her girlfriend made Lexi at times - and the clubbing prep was supposed to be almost as fun as the clubbing itself!

"Fine! Just don't expect me to wear heels!" Alexis argued adamantly as she stripped down. "If I'm going out I gotta take a quick shower. Make yourself at home while I wash up!" She said loudly as she prepped her shower.

"That's what you think," Arella muttered to herself as she did exactly that, already setting out Lexi's shoe options (all of them high heels, of course), before going ahead and changing into her own dress. The heels she'd be wearing could wait until they were actually ready to head out.

---

"Nope," a very serious Arella was informing Eva when Lexi emerged from the bathroom dressed in a towel some time later. "We're going to a fancy club, you're wearing this." Complete with the not-a-magical girl handing over the preferred dress, which was also somehow the other girl's exact size. Seriously, where was she getting all this dress and shoe size information?

"Okay?" Eva conceded, accepting the dress with no real argument (much to Arella's approval). "How much was it?" She asked as though she was expected to pay for it. "I mean, I don't have a lot on me, but I can't just take it for free."

"Nope, it's yours, you're welcome," the unusually bossy Arella declared. "You can buy me a drink later, if you like." She was then suddenly rounding on the wolfgirl she apparently knew had finished in the bathroom, wanting to know, "Lexi! How confident are you in heels? I can go as low as two inches, but they aren't nearly as cute."

"I don't like heels. I can't run in them." Alexis, who had just finished slipping on a pair of plain white panties, said with her dress in hand. "And do I have to wear this dress? It's embarrassing and it shows my scar."

"You aren't supposed to run in them, you're supposed to dance in them," Arella pointed out, as if it should have been obvious - and already handing Lexi her new pair of heels. "And yes, you do. Nobody's gonna care about a little scar, they'll be too distracted by how hot you are." She then paused a moment, before adding (a bit less bossily), "If if bothers you, though, we could try some coverup."

"Little? The thing's like a foot long!" Alexis protested. "And I'm not gonna cover it." She decided in that moment. "Already have a boyfriend anyway." The wolfgirl muttered as she started putting on the dress. "How do you still remember my sizes anyway?"

Meanwhile, seperate from the two, Eva had already managed to strip down and put on her dress. "Umm. How do I look?" She asked, giving a little twirl.

Arella let out an exaggerated whistle. "Gorgeous," she praised, before rather cheekily adding, "You'll have to model it for Jason later." She also very definitely did not answer Lexi's question. Shh!

Eva blushed with a flattered smile. "You... think he'll like it?" She asked, liking the dress more just from the possibility. "Wait. How do you know about me and Jason?" She asked before another question came to mind. "And how do you know my sizes?"

"My spidey-senses told me," the definitely-not-a-magical girl teased, wiggling her fingers in a way that was clearly meant to somehow demonstrate 'spidey-senses' - before promptly changing the subject on everyone. "Now, we've still gotta do makeup! I think I'm gonna do smokey-eyes, what colours do you guys want for your eyes?" The makeup kit was being unloaded now, demonstrating just how many options they all had. Arella was also going to wear the sparkly mascara, because she could!

"You got better sense for makeup then me." Alexis said with an exasperated sigh, admitting defeat already.

"Smokey-eyes, then!" Arella gleefully declared, already grabbing the necessary equipment and pulling Lexi closer so she could do her makeup. Seriously, it looked awesome, and when else could you really get away with it? Alexis was promptly admonished to sit still! while Arella went to work. "Do you want smokey-eyes too, Eva, or would you prefer a more natural... hmm... pink? Maybe with some liner?"

"Oh, I love pink!" Evangeline said excitedly, it was one of her favourite colours after all. "And eye liner sounds fun, too."

"Do you know how to curl your eyelashes at all?" Arella asked, even as she quite firmly tried to hold Lexi's head still while she set about using the eyelash curler on her. There was an extra curler in the bag, after all, so Eva could get started on her own if she wanted to. And, y'know, knew how to use them. They could be kinda terrifying if you hadn't used them before.

"Uhhhhh." Alexis uhhh-ed nervously as the curler came closer to her eyes than she would have liked, her tough girl disposition not allowing her to say that she was, in fact, nervous.

Arella just petted her hair a bit, as if to reassure her that everything was okay (albeit while continuing to prevent her from moving her head in any way). She totally knew what she was doing, after all. Just so long as Lexi didn't move.

Though the petting did serve to calm Alexis a bit, she continued to fidget until the curler got closer, the fidgeting then being replaced with absolute stillness as she placed her trust in Arella.

"I've used them once or twice before I met Jason." Evangeline admitted as she sat near the other two girls. "Do you have an extra one?"

"It should be near the top of the bag," Arella informed. "Let me know if you need any help though, I know they kinda look like torture devices." Seriously, her first attempt at using them had been hilarious - it had taken her about an hour just to get them close enough to her eye to even try using.

"I will, thank you!" Eva said with a smile as she fished the curler from Arella's bag and borrowed a spot in the mirror to curl her eyelashes well enough that it became doubtful she'd only ever done it once or twice. "I like your dress, Arella. It's got a lot of sex appeal, and compliments your figure."

Arella's cheeks promptly turned a shade of pink the blush she hadn't yet put on could only wish it was; she looked decidedly pleased by the compliment. "Thank you~" came her almost bashful reply. "I was just... I've never really worn anything like..." The bossy-Arella seemed to have been momentarily replaced by a more usual Arella who didn't quite know what to say, and it was rather adorable. "I just thought it might be fun to try something new," she finally managed to get out, paying rather more attention than necessary as she set aside the eyelash curler and instead set about applying the first coat of mascara to Lexi's lashes. And then she was ordering her best friend not to move, and some more of the bossy Arella was back again.

"Hey. Um. Arella." Alexis said, doing her best not to move as she talked. "Thanks. I don't normally like doing girly stuff like this, but I'm glad you want me to come with you." The wolfgirl said with a smile.

"And I'm glad you let me make you do this stuff," Arella admitted, her voice softer than it had been all night thus far. There was also a faint sheen of what might have been tears in her eyes, but they weren't bad tears, if they were tears at all (Arella was firmly of the 'not tears' camp, because she wasn't going to cry, damnit!), and none fell, either way. "Now try really hard not to move, or your eyeshadow won't be even on both sides," she then ordered, trading out the mascara for the powdery eyeshadow. "Eva, the pink by my left elbow would look really pretty on you, if you'd like to try it."

"Okay." Alexis said, far less reluctantly than normal (her tail was even wagging!).

Evangeline leaned forward, examining Arella for a moment before nodding. "I love it! Where did you buy it?" She had to know, because she wanted it now. "Wait, maybe I should actually try it on first?" She said before giggling a bit and retrieving the eyeshadow from the nearby table.

"Try it first," the not-a-magical girl agreed. "And let me know if you want me to do your eyeliner, it can be easier to have someone else do it."

---

All-in-all, it took close to an hour for all three girls to get their makeup done. At which point Arella pulled out a straightener like a weapon, clacked it together a few times, and demanded to know, "How do you girls want your hair~?" She then plugged it in, though, because it needed a chance to heat up first.

"I want to try some curls." Evangeline decided after a bit of thought. "Not too much though."

"Uhhhh." Alexis uhh-ed with the blank expression of someone who knew near nothing about hairstyles. "Brushed?"

"Light curls for Eva~" Arella agreed, handing the elf a hairbrush even as she pulled out some hairspray from her bag. "You brush it out first, while the straightener heats up, then I'll curl it for you." The NOT-a-magical girl's attention then turned to Lexi, with something of a critical eye as she examined the wolfgirl's hair. "Hmm..." Arella pondered. "And maybe something with gentle waves for Lexi..." Yes, that would be very flattering. Lexi was then handed a brush of her own. "Same thing - brush it out while the straightener heats up, please."

The two girls nodded as they accepted their brushes. "Hey, Lexi! Want me to brush your hair for you like after our baths when we were little?" Evangeline asked with a cheerful smile.

"What? Why would bring that up now?" Alexis asked, feeling a little embarrassed.

"I would sing you one of mom's songs and you'd start humming along." Evangeline continued, more to tease her little sister then anything.

"Do what you want!" Alexis said, crossing her arms turning away to hide her blush.

Evangeline giggled before setting about brushing Alexis' hair.

Trying and failing to hide a smile at how adorable that was, Arella just stepped over to Eva and held out a hand in offer of taking the other brush from her. "Want me to do yours?" she offered. Getting your hair brushed always felt amazing, after all.

"Sure!" Evangeline agreed, handing Arella her brush before taking Alexis' to continue her work on the wolfgirl's hair. Arella promptly settled behind her, and set to work brushing Eva's hair at the same time.

"So how are things going with you and Jason?" the definitely-not-a-magical girl asked as she worked.

"Great!" Evangeline was fast to divulge. "He's a massive flirt, but actually quite the gentleman."

Arella gave an approving giggle at that. "Both important traits, really. Flirting makes you feel special, but there's nothing quite like a gentleman." She paused a moment then, thinking. She hadn't actually met the more recent FGTL members yet, but she had heard a bit about them, so... "Maybe it's because he has a little sister? I suppose it would help to know what you would shotgun a guy in the face for, to keep your own behaviour more gentlemanly." Now she was frowning though, as another thought occurred to her. "Hopefully not too gentlemanly, though. You have at least kissed, right?"

Evangeline let out a happy sigh. "Oh, have we." She said with a contented smile. "One time we went to the movies and missed the whole thing." She recounted happily.

More giggling from Arella. "He must be a good kisser, from the sound of that sigh," she cheekily teased.

Evangeline blushed, avoiding nodding due to her hair being brushed. "I'm glad he doesn't mind my height. He's a really good guy, and I can't help but be attracted to just how much he loves his little sister." She said, taking a moment before continuing on. "It makes me feel like he can keep me safe, you know."

"Safe is good," Arella admitted softly. She got the same feeling from Luc and Kat, after all, even if she would throw herself between them and danger without a second thought.

"It is." Alexis agreed, smiling fondly as she thought of Rekko.

Suddenly the door burst open and a very specific dhampir came barging in dressed as such. "Okay ladies, who wants to go...club....ing...Okay. What's with the grooming train?"

"KitKat!" Arella enthused, clearly happy to see her. "C'mon, you can brush my hair~"

Katrina, ever eager for a chance to do something she clearly shouldn't when in polite company, jumped at the offer and was behind Arella almost before the blonde had finished speaking, "Okay~"

Arella promptly handed back an extra hairbrush she hadn't had a minute ago, before returning her attention to Eva's hair - though that hardly kept her from complimenting, "You look all kinds'a sexy, KitKat." In fact, she was almost making Arella's dress look reasonable - but then again, this was Kat.

"Found it in a box buried in a closet. I think it was recovered from one of the explosive Mihoist buildings," Katrina replied as she started to brush the totally-not-a-magical girl's hair with one hand, while the other commenced to the wandering - and was immediately rewarded with a sharp swat that seemed to say behave! "Ow! It's not my fault my hands are Italian," the dhampir pouted.

"Well, behave, or you'll get banished from girl time," Arella warned, albeit more than a little affectionately (and with some giggling). Honestly, the things she let Kat get away with... "For now though, the straightener should have heated up enough, so I'm gonna curl Eva's hair, and you can keep brushing mine in a sec, okay?"

Because she liked having her hair brushed, as did just about every female alive. She just had to retrieve the straightener first, or they were all going to be there all night. Which was quite contrary to her plans.

"Okay," Katrina did her best to put as much pout into those two syllables as possible, and was rewarded with a quick kiss for her trouble as Arella returned with the straightener.

"Do you need me to move at all?" Evangeline asked, looking back to Arella as Alexis sat comfortably still, seemingly lost in thought.

"Nope, you're good right where you are," the definitely-not-a-magical girl assured, settling down once again and setting to work on curling Eva's hair.

---

It was about another 45 minutes later that the four, now rather giggly and excited, girls made their way toward the exit of the FGTL. Eva's hair had been lightly curled, Lexi's now fell in gentle waves, Katrina's was fabulous as always (one of the benefits of being half-vampire), and Arella's own had been coaxed into rather messy curls that made her hair seem a good bit shorter (and wilder) than it actually was. Subtle hints of perfume had been sprayed, money and credit cards and phones and other such things had been tucked into bras and tiny little purses that dangled from their wrists, and of course they were hardly about to manage an escape without anyone noticing.

Especially not The Parents.

"Ohhh? And where are you four off to so late in the evening, dressed like that?" Magical Girl Tiffaney asked, crossing her arms. "You realize that there's a very dangerous psychopath trying to kill us all out there, don't you?"

"Yeah, where do you think you're going like that?" Skorpion asked, placing his hands on his hips and frowning. "I bet Lexi's not even armed."

"We have hammerspace!" Arella rather reflexively defended, looking a teensy bit guilty about the whole thing, but also very stubborn. "And we're going clubbing. For sanity reasons. And we're adults, so we can go if we want to!" Of course, the latter was said so defensively, she didn't sound any older than about 16, but that didn't make it untrue. Technically.

"You're living in my hou-fortress, so you obey my rules." Skorpion replied, channeling the universal Dad Force. "You're taking bodyguards and an armoured vehicle, and you're telling me exactly where you're going so you're not sitting targets waiting in queues."

Arella gave a little shrug that almost seemed to suggest this had been the secret Plan all along, before further 'bartering', "Fine, but we get a bottle of champagne in the back like we would in a fancy limo. And we're going to the newer place downtown, with all the pink and purple lights outside." She couldn't remember the name, on account of having been drunk last time she was there. Obviously.

"Alright. Ex-soviet limo, SUV, or APC?" Skorpion asked. "No daughters of mine will be arriving without style."

"You're the best, dad~" Arella was quick to praise, as though there'd never been any concern about him stopping them from going in the first place (and perhaps there hadn't been). She even rewarded him with a quick peck on the cheek.

Skorpion rolled his eyes. "I'll get the vehicle and the guards lined up for you, and the champagne."

Tiffaney facepalmed. "You're way too easy-going about this, dear."

And Arella was positively beaming in approval because of it.

"They'll just sneak out if I try to stop them, or Arella will wibble if I prevent them properly." Arella could be seen nodding in agreement in the background. "Otherwise, I'm sending that asshole a message. And that message is that he can't stop us from doing our thing." He grinned triumphantly. "Plus, if he does show up, I can hit him with an AGM pretty quickly."

Tiffaney sighed deepely. "Fine, but I'm holding you responsible for everything that goes wrong." She scolded sternly, her eyes locked on Skorpion before she looked over to Alexis. "And Lexi, be mindful about those pills I gave you. They'll inhibit your nanites so you can enjoy alcohol, but you won't be able to heal as well."

"Relax, I have some of our best people on guard duty for them." Skorpion assured Tiffaney.

"Alright, You girls have fun, and stay safe!" Tiffaney said, emphasizing safe.

---

"So, are we taking her out for tea and ice cream again?"

"Nope. Clubbing."

"Awesome! Do we get to club with her then?"

"Uh, no. Boss man says we're guards and chauffeurs tonight."

"Aw, man, they get to go have the fun while we just sit on our arses and wait?"

"Pretty much. We DO get to drive one of the limos, with the mounted gun and the rocket-propelled carpets and the glitter cannons and stuff."

"That's something, at least..."

---

The girls' arrival at the club went off without a hitch, a lot of glitter, and some grumbling about people getting to skip the line which was swiftly silenced by the threat of Largoist guns and the guards wielding them.

It was also quickly followed by the exit of a certain garishly purple-haired young woman dressed in very short shorts and a corset/jacket combo (not to mention very high heels), and her entourage, on account of their new "avoid Sealand at all costs" policy. Even if this was one of her favourite clubs. Falsely-purple eyes met Lexi's as they passed each other by the entrance, and Vi gave the wolfgirl a nod of recognition before they were out the door and off in search of another club.

Alexis nodded back, tipping an imaginary hat to the woman before continuing along with her friends, who were headed straight for the bar.

Or rather, Arella was headed straight for the bar, and everyone else was following her lead.

"<A round of polar shots, please~>" the NOT-a-magical girl promptly ordered for everyone. "<And a porn star cocktail for me, please.>" She'd already had two glasses of champagne in the car on the way over, too, so her inhibitions were very nicely lowered, and only likely to get lower still. Hence, dancing would be next! Well, after she'd made a few requests of the DJ (who objected strenuously until an assistant reminded him who was making the request), that is.

"<One shot of everything,>" Katrina asked, "<In a single glass.>"

Arella made a face, because that sounded disgusting, and gave her girlfriend a gentle swat. "At least have your polar shot first, like a good girl," she admonished.

The dhampir chuckled, "I will, if he pours it in first... or last. Whatever."

"Honestly, I can't take you anywhere," the not-a-magical girl teased, even as she rewarded the dhampir with a kiss for being adorable and silly. And also just 'cause. Which Katrina most certainly reciprocated.

Alexis and Evangeline looked at each other for a moment before tapping their shots against one another's and downing them at the same time, Alexis shuddering a bit at the cold sensation. "That's nice." The wolfgirl said as Evangeline giggled at her.

Katrina downed her glass in a very unladylike chug and slammed it back on the bar, "That was distugsting," the dhampir announced, "<Gimmie th' good stuff next.>"

Arella, having downed her own shot and about half her cocktail already, ended up giggling over that, before ordering herself another porn star. The cocktail, not the person. "What d'you guys want?" she then asked Lexi and Eva, since they hadn't ordered on their own yet.

"Last time I just had a lot of fireball and vodka." Alexis said with a shrug.

"I'll take a strawberry daiquiri." Evangeline said with a smile.

"What's that?" Alexis asked with an ear tilted to the side.

"Ohmigosh! You should have one too!" Evangeline decided.

"Daiquiris for everyone!" Katrina shouted - a bit too loudly, judging by the excited cheers from total strangers, "No, not you guys, get your own."

The cheers died down into something decidedly more pouty.

Arella, meanwhile, was beginning to dance a bit even right there at the bar, totally unable to resist the beat of the music blaring through the club. That didn't mean she was missing any of the conversation, though - hence, she was now gigglefitting and needing to lean on Kat a bit for balance. And further ordering, "<And a round of strawberry daiquiries, please. Only make mine lemon.>" She loved the tart, sweet/sour combo.

By the time they were all making their way out onto to the dance floor, each girl was armed with a daiquiri - and Arella was double fisting with her lemon one, and the latest porn star she'd ordered, and looking quite pleased with herself about it. The totally-not-a-magical girl was also singing along with the music, as they were currently playing Britney Spears' Till the World Ends. Which she apparently knew.

Katrina leaned over to Alexis, "She's lucky she's cute, 'cause I really hate this music."

Alexis shrugged. "I spent most of my life underground, so I don't even know what's good or what's not. Like Metallica, but I feel like we're not gonna hear Some Kinda Monster in this club."

As if to prove her point, the DJ went with something by LMFAO next. Which Arella also seemed to know.

"Actually, I don't mind these guys," the dhampir mused, "Some Manowar would be really nice."

"Sick Puppies, though the name's a bit morbid." Alexis responded, as Evangeline made her way around the two discussing music to actually dance with Arella (something the not-a-magical girl appreciated).

"You guys aren't dancing!" Arella went ahead and complained, promptly swooping in to try to make Lexi and Kat join them properly. Because standing around and talking didn't remotely count.

"Not as bad as Paper Cut Masacre," the dhampir replied as she was dragged to the dance floor.

"How do some of them come up with their names?" Alexis asked as she was pulled with Kat, dancing at a basic level as they stopped. She didn't think she could manage some of the J-pop dances Yakashima and Kawasaki had taught her while wearing heels.

"That's a good question," Katrina mused, vaguely aware of the beat and moving with it, "I mean seriously, how do you pilot a stone temple? What does 'def' even mean and how does it apply to a leopard? And why is there two d's in Puddle of Mudd? Did they melt some designer jeans?" The dhampir was dangerously close to channeling Jerry Seinfeld.

Alexis giggled a bit. "All good points."

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, as this standing around and talking thing was not proper club behaviour), the DJ chose that moment to comply with one of Arella's song requests by putting on Timber, thereby gaining an immediate reaction from the absolutely-definitely-not-a-magical girl.

"Timber dance~!" Arella practically squealed (and when had she even finished that daiquiri? she was going through her drinks fast). Kat suddenly found herself being presented with the younger girl's remaining cocktail, and then the blonde was dancing. She even ended up with a few backup dancers somehow, all of whom were no doubt thankful for the chance to actually show off the dance they'd spent a great deal of time learning, and more than a bit of an audience. Apparently, this was what happened when Arella had a song stuck in her head for too long.

Arella's unfinished porn star ended up on the floor in short order, mixing with the puddle of drool at Katrina's shoes. It was also a good thing there were no tables, mallets or train whistles nearby or the dhampir may have attempted to violate the laws of physics before doing the same to the blonde magical girl.

Alexis stood off to the side of Kat before swiftly clapping her hands together within a few inches of the dhampir's face. "Reality check!"

"Gah!" Katrina shouted in shock as she lurched backwards and landed in an undignified (and nearly pornographic) heap on the floor, "What did you do that for??"

"You were distracted. I had to." Alexis answered honestly. "Also you were drooling... A lot."

"No I wasn't," the dhamphir denied despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

"Pretty sure you were, what with the drool at the corner of your lips." Alexis said, pointing to the drool in question.

"That's...uhh...frosting?" Katrina tried to talk her way out of it, and failed. "Well, look, can you blame me? Just imagine Rekko dancing that."

Alexis snrked at that, putting up a finger as she suppressed laughter. "That'd be. Hilarious."

Arella, meanwhile, rather cluelessly continued to dance, happy as can be - at least until some perv decided to try and make a grab for her ass, and she was obliged to mallet him through a wall. Then she decided she needed more alcohol, and the whole group was being dragged off back to the bar again. At least she'd almost made it through the entire song.

---

At the same time, on a nearby rooftop, Tiffaney was watching over the club the girls were in, when she observed a man geting launched through the wall. "No panic, so it's not him."

---

Meanwhile, a silver-haired loli-goth* was leaning against the bar, downing shots of vodka and generally making the bartender very nervous as she scanned the crowd. She was in a strange mood tonight, and had decided to close up the bar early and go out on the town. It was probably a bit of Saeko that had rubbed off on her, but she was feeling rather... predatory. It was a new feeling, and it had been a while since she'd gone clubbing. Her original destination had been the Catacombs, but with the recent shutdown by the TPCD, the former officer was forced to go elsewhere. And it was invigorating. She truly did miss it. The music could be better, but the environment, the pulsating and gyrating bodies, the energy and emotions - it was almost like the old days. Almost, not quite.

But then she saw her. The blonde that ejected some poor bastard through a wall. There was something familiar about her. Mimi couldn't quite place it, but she decided to investigate further. Who knew, maybe this new feeling would lead somewhere. It was ovbious Saeko rather enjoyed it. The dancers had broken up and the blonde was exiting the circle of attention that had formed around them. Mimi simply stepped out of a reveler's shadow directly in front of the girl, "Nice dance."

"Thank you!" the magical gir--- I mean, NOT A MAGICAL GIRL AT ALL, REALLY, I PROMISE was quick to reply, positively beaming at the compliment as her irritation over the ass grabbing immediately seemed to disappear. Not that that kept her from ordering a porn star shot, and the cocktail to follow; the shot was promptly downed rather expertly.

Then Arella frowned, not in distaste or anger or anything, but at the mystery Mimi presented to her already very drunken mind. "You look familiar," she declared, trying to figure out why.

The silver-haired woman's eyes traveled slowly up and down the blonde in front of her, her gaze so intense it could almost be felt, "As do you," Mimi replied.

"You two have met before," Katrina butted in.

"Oh! You know KitKat!" Arella ultimately decided, that being about all she could currently remember of their meeting in the casino - that, and something about goons being terrified of the fact. And her cute outfit for the mission. And a few things from... after, which lead to some blushing which the lighting luckily did wonders to hide.

"Oh yeah, the casino," Mimi replied, "I never did get my refund. And it's Arella right?"

"Hai~" Arella confirmed, before opening her mouth to respond in kind, only to realize she really couldn't remember what this person's name was and instead turn to Kat a bit desperately for help.

"Mimi," Katrina and Mimi both responded at the same time.

"Saeko's sister right? I see you got better," the former officer said.

Now Arella was frowning again; really, her brain was entirely too intoxicated for this conversation. "Better from what?" she then wanted to know, confused as to just what they were meant to be talking about.

"Didn't you get stabbed?" Mimi raised an eyebrow, "How much did you let this poor girl drink?" she asked Katrina.

"I'm her lover, not her mother."

"Yeah!" Arella agreed, a bit overly enthusiastically. While also blushing some more. "And I did get better!" she further agreed, before muttering something about stupid assholes running around stabbing people and needing to be trapped in a bubble. Or something.

"You haven't seen your sister lately, have you?" Mimi asked looking a little hopeful.

Arella let out what was meant to be a dignified little sniff at that, before informing, "We aren't on speaking terms at the moment." Or in other words, no, she hadn't.

"Ah," Mimi said, sounding a little crestfallen, "Well, your brother," she turned to Katrina, "asked me to tell her about Arella, but I haven't seen either."

"Don't you dare!" a rather horrified Arella was suddenly demanding, thoughts of what Saeko would do to the city if she found out filling her mind. It would be chaos and carnage and innocent people getting killed and just... just BAD!

"She better not dare." Grumbled the sniper hiding in the ceiling above them, stroking the stock of his gun lovingly. The plastic cups attached to his ghillie suit brushed against the foliage as he did so. "Tipped my best friend off a tower block last time she was in town. Now I've gotta make do with you. Not that you're so bad, you're just a bit on the small side, and underpowered outside of a mere few hundred yards."

"Well," Mimi started, "I couldn't if I wanted to."

"Wait..." Arella was frowning yet again, as the conversation began to properly catch up to her. "Do you mean she's missing?" Because mad or not, she did kinda care if her sister was missing.

"Missing? No, I don't think leaving with Aneko and little by way of explanation counts as missing," the Mihoist (let's just admit it) still sounded a bit bitter over that.

"She left with Okaasan?" Was that a faint hint of hurt in her voice, that neither of them had bothered to tell her about this?

"That's what they told me," Mimi replied, "It was a very," the older woman shuddered faintly at the memory of that night, "odd evening."

Speaking of odd evenings, a disheveled foreigner walked by, arms flung across the shoulders of two much younger (slick clothes and slicker haircuts) men--the group chatting animatedly about cats for some reason.

---

Further down the bar (in the club), Alexis was about to order a few shots of fireball with a cola when a mildly intoxicated pink haired girl tapped her shoulder. "<Hey, are you that girl from the magazine a while back? The one who knocked out that pervy duke?>" The girl asked, taking the seat next to the wolfgirl.

"Yeah?" Alexis answered, though it sounded more like a question then anything. "<Why?>"

The girl let out an excited squeal. "<Is it true you knocked him out in one punch?>"

"Uhh. <Yes? He was kinda a wuss.>" Alexis said, ordering her fireball when the barkeep came around.

"<That's so hot.>"

"What, what? No, <I, uhh. Don't swing that way.>" A startled Alexis said, nearly falling out of her seat.

"<Aww, c'mon, it'll be fun~>" The girl continued, making eyes at Alexis.

"<Oh, leave her alone, she said she wasn't interested.>" Lola remarked as she approached from behind Alexis. "So, what's a kemonomimi feminist idol like you doing in a place like this?" She asked of Alexis, smirking. "And what is Arella doing out and about?"

"She wanted to go out, so she took me, Eva, and Kat for a girls' night." Alexis explained as her drink arrived, taking the shot of fireball and chasing it with a bit of cola before turning to face Lola. "And what brings the you to this particular club?"

"The TPCD raided mine, and they're still there." Lola explained. "Ostensibly, I miss the ambience and I'm trying to reconnect with the Tokyo nightlife. Otherwise, I have a plan and I'm trying to find another place to set up, where I won't be under a huge landmark of trouble, and isn't bombarded by your adoptive family whenever DT orders something from them. Oh, and I'm trying to hire their bartenders."

Alexis nodded. "You know. There's actually a way to order our stuff without the artillery. Ya just gotta ask fer snailmail delivery." The wolfgirl pointed out before taking a double shot, and chasing with the coke. "I feel like I'm forgettin' somethin..."

"I try, but DT subscribed to the artillery method, and the airdrops aren't much different." Lola sighed softly, before giggling. "You're swaying."

"Whadoya mean?" Alexis asked, slurping a bit. "I hardly even drank aby thin' and the nanites... Oh. Fuck. I dun. I dunno if I'm gonna be okay." The wolfgirl said as she stood up and stumbled a bit. "Too many dackeries, dacker, dack. Fuckin'-"

Lola moved to support Alexis, guiding her to a barstool. "Just lay off the booze for a while and have some food." She advised, handing the wolfgirl a handful of beef jerky wrapped in paper.

"Awesome." Alexis said as she accepted the offer. "I love this-" She cut herself off and covered her mouth with her hand for a few moments before continuing. "Stuff." She bit into the jerky, her tail wagging with less enthusiasm than normal as she nommed on it.

Lola settled next to Alexis, tail wiggling slightly with curiosity as it stuck through the slit in the back of her short shorts. "You guys should probably tell your bodyguards to back off a little, unless they're acting as a distraction for more subtle ones. If, you know, such a thing can exist." She remarked, leaning over to watch the wagging tail.

"They're like that 'cuz someone's tryin' ta kill us." Alexis said, her tail no longer wagging as her ears drooped a bit. "He took John's arm..." She said in a quiet, sad tone that was hard to hear over the music.

Lola reached out to pat Alexis on the shoulder. "I heard. But you're gonna get him, right?"

"Yeah. I'm gonna make 'em pay fer hurtin' my little brother." Alexis said with clear hostility before covering her mouth to gag again. "Sorry..."

"... I'll get you some water to sip." Lola said, slipping over to the bar to obtain some.

"No feeling sad on girls' night!" Arella could meanwhile be heard declaring as she rather abruptly turned up next to her friend; her spidey-senses (which totally had nothing to do with being a magical girl, 'cause she wasn't one!) had warned her of the changing mood. "Ooooh, Lexi, you don't look so good," she was then forced to observe. "Have you been drinking water? Wait... have I been drinking water?" Short answer: no. No she had not.

Lola returned with a stack of glasses and a big pitcher of water. "You should know better." She admonished Arella, an ear twitching mischeivously.

"I always know better!" Arella rather nonsensically (and enthusiastically) agreed, leaning rather a lot against the nearby bar. Possibly to keep from falling over as that last shot and cocktail began to sink in.

"I forgot about the nanites..." Alexis informed as she took a glass and held it out to be filled. "You seen Eva?" The wolfgirl asked, though the elfgirl was clearly towards the center of the room due to her height making her easy to find.

The totally-not-a-magical girl looked around with some surprise, certain the elf had been right behind them as they left the dance floor - and missing her just as easily as Lexi had done. Finally, she called out loudly enough to be heard over the crowd, "EEEEVAAAA!"

Evangeline's ears twitched at the calling of her name as she looked to the bar to see Alexis, Lola, and Arella over the crowed. It took a little bit for her to 'excuse me' through the crowd. "What's up?" She asked once she reached the rest of the group. "Lexi doesn't look so good..."

"There she is!" Arella meanwhile declared, as though she'd found Eva herself, before adding to the new arrival, "We found you!"

"Alexis got a little eager with the drinks, so we're keeping her company while she sobers up. Hi, by the way." Lola smiled at Eva, extending a hand in greeting.

"Evaaaa, helllllp..." Alexis pleaded, extending a hand to Eavangeline, the sight causing the Elf to snrk a bit.

"Fine, but you're done drinking for the night." Evangeline said with a smile. "Just can't keep yourself outta trouble." She added, placing a hand on the wolfgirl's back and her right eye turning pink as she started using her magic on Alexis. "Drink a lot of water. I'll help rehydrate you and move the alcohol through your system."

Alexis nodded before doing as she was told.

Arella, meanwhile, had descended into a gigglefit as a Monty Python scene popped into her head. It made her declaration of "a witch!" pretty much impossible to understand, even if you were right next to her - not that that did anything to stop her laughter. If anything, it just got louder.

"What?" Alexis asked, between sips of water.

"Who are you building bridges out of?" Katrina asked as she suddenly appeared.

Aaaaand Arella was on the floor, laughing her ass off.

"Isn't she adorable?" the dhampir asked no one in particular.

"Totally." Lola replied, observing the not-a-magical girl carefully. "So, how about we go get food next? It's not a night out without something greasy to soak up the booze."

That got the giggling Arella's attention, and she promptly declared, "I want fries~!" Then attempted to get up. And failed. And failed again. And then again, at which point she descended into giggles again, because it was funny.

---

Outside was a scene of chaos. People looked on in horror at the wreckage of their personal vehicles. Taxis fled the scene in raw panic, and a city bus was currently against the side of a building. Long ways. In the middle of the parking lot stood a lone 4x4 Jeep Commanche parked atop a Largoist LRV with one wheel in the air and a steady stream of some vehicular fluid raining down on the other vehicle, peeling off the camoflage paint. At the sight of the girls, the truck let out an insistent rev and a relieved honk.

The Largoist guards and crew were trying to beat the vehicle away with crowbars and assorted tools and accessories, with one signalling to the girls to run to the limo. Arella just ended up leaning further into Kat, who was the only thing keeping her upright, and almost sent them both tumbling - all while giggling over the silly jeep.

One of the tires spun, sending the tool a Largoist had been recently holding through a concrete power pole before it pulled off the LRV and parked in front of the girls, flashing its lights and honking.

Arella patted it like a faithful hound, while still clinging to her girlfriend.

Lola eyed the vehicle warily, stepping up to it, pointing a finger at it accusingly as she swayed slightly in front of it, her other hand on her hip. "You! Jeep! Where's your human? Why are you out this late on your own, and what have I told you about trying to mate with public transport? These girls have a limo, they don't need ORAZ transport. But if you promise to be good, and you ARE good, and you stop chasing after buses for the night, you'll get to be the honour guard, and maybe I'll let Arella wax your bonnet. Okay?"

"That sound dirty when you say it," Katrina noted.

The Jeep gave a series of revs, honks, belt squeals and a back fire in response.

"What do you mean DT's gone missing?" Katrina demanded.

Arella just patted the jeep again. Because it seemed friendly, and she was drunk.

"Yeah, I haven't seen him since the raid." Lola commented. "I figure he's off moping somewhere rainy and dramatic, indulging his vampire half."

"He was at the bar the other day," Mimi said as she was leaving in the opposite direction; hers was the only vehicle left unmolested in the entire lot.

There was more revving, honking, flashing lights, back fires, windshield wipers wiping, and the the stereo kicked on and off a few times.

"What's that? He's fallen down a well?" Lola replied, canting her head.

Arella almost hit the ground again, laughing so hard she could barely breathe and just barely managing to hang on to Kat.

"No," Mimi said as she opened her car door, "He fought a guy with a halberd and a grenade launcher and then he left." Which the ex-cop then did.

"Where did she learn how to talk to the Jeep?" Katrina leaned over to ask Lola, nearly dropping Arella again, "Wait... Halberd? Son of a bitch!"

"She speaks fluent car. Otherwise, if you mean that absolute madman that's been slicing people up, he's in trouble. If you mean halberd the fifth musketeer, I'm sure nobody will understand the reference." Lola replied, steering the party towards the limo. Because obviously there was a limo laid on for Arella.

"We have to find him," Katrina said, the Jeep honking in agreement.

"Let's go get the not-Skorp, then!" the not-a-magical girl declared with drunken enthusiasm, certain she could totally take him.

"No." Everyone said at once, including a few bystanders.

The Jeep revved in agreement with the not-magical girl, and Arella pouted at everyone's lack of faith in her. Y'know, before being forced to enlist the Jeep's help in keeping her upright. Which the uncanny 4x4 glady did.

It was then that Alexis, supported by Eva, managed to exit the club. "That took forever..." The wolfgirl complained.

"Well, purging all of that alcohol from your body would take a while, you're lucky you didn't get severe alcohol poisoning." Evangeline explained, whilst also mildly scolding.

"'S not my fault! I forgot I nerfed the nanites!" Alexis argued.

"So it's your fault?" Evangeline asked.

"Well, yeah, but... Shut up!" The still a bit drunken Alexis said as though that were the comeback of the century.

"Yeah!" Arella nonsensically agreed, having no idea what they were talking about, but feeling a need to back up Lexi's tone, if nothing else.

"Hi, 'Rella!" Alexis mildly slurred, waving enthusiastically to her friend. "'S goin' on?"

"DT fell down a well!" the definitely-not-a-magical girl giggled in reply. It was a really good thing she had both the Jeep and Kat helping to keep her upright.

"Oh, no! Wait. Can't he like, fly, or jump really high or somethin'?" Alexis asked as Evangeline brought her to the rest of the group, Arella's giggling causing her to giggle too, with Eva ultimately joining in the group giggling as well.

Katrina facepalmed.

Lola succumbed to the cascade, leaning against the Jeep as she started giggling uncontrollably.

Katrina looked to the heavens with the universal look of "why me?" but before she could let out the accompanying sigh, the Jeep sputtered and stalled in agreement.

Arella tried really, really hard to sober up a bit, because her girlfriend's brother going missing was actually serious, and she really shouldn't be gigglefitting with that going on. But it was super hard, and the alcohol ensured that the giggling wasn't entirely under her control anymore. She did try, though, and ultimately managed to get out (albeit amidst suppressed giggles), "Do you think he's okay?"

"He's alive. I know that much for certain," Katrina said, "But you've seen him get injured before, right? There's no way an injury is keeping him somewhere." The dhampir frowned, "Doesn't make sense."

"So... so where is he, then?" the not-a-magical girl asked in genuine confusion, giggles finally starting to wear off on their own. Though she was still a far cry from being able to stand on her own yet.

"M-maybe..." Lola took a deep breath, talking to her feet again. "Maybe a hunter got to him? Silver hurts him; I know that from..." She trailed off, giggling slightly again. "Well, from him encountering some rather intimate jewelry, let's just say."

"Yeah, he had to ask where I got mine after that," Katrina replied, "Unless he was bound with silver, but even then... And we would have heard of a hunter in town."

"Other than your daddy-in-law." Lola pointed out. "But he wouldn't do that to a loyal customer."

"And DT isn't exactly the one who violates his daughter on a regular basis," came Katrina's counter point.

Arella almost fell off her perch against the Jeep after that, looking rather mortified.

Lola sighed, leaning on the Jeep again and sniffling softly. "I hope he's alright, wherever he is."

The totally-not-at-all-a-magical girl attempted to give her a comforting hug, only to finally lose her balance entirely and end up a rather surprised looking heap on the pavement.

"My teeth itch," Katrina declared randomly.

"How?" a wide-eyed and rather mystified Arella inquired, from her new place on the ground. Moving was just too much work at this point, and everything was kinda spinning anyway. Still, she was pretty sure teeth weren't supposed to itch.

"I dunno, my fang itches," Katrina vainly tried to scratch it.

"Maybe you need a snack," Arella rather absently offered. Both the idea and the snack.

"Yeah, that's totally what magical girls are for." Lola giggled, grinning wickedly.

"I am not!" the NOT-a-magical girl rather loudly objected. To being a magical girl, that is, not being a snack - she was totally fine with being a snack.

"Magical girl," the dhampir clarified.

"How do you do that?" Arella asked, still from the ground.

"It's a secret."

And now Arella was gigglefitting again. Because Slayers.***

Summary:
-Lexi is worrying about John and the whole Machariah situation.
-Arella arrives to save the day by insisting on a girls' night out! Because screw Machariah!
-Eva and Kat are coming, too!
-Arella is very bossy about clothes. And shoes. And then they do their hair and makeup, and some bonding happens.
-Skorp provides the girls with an escort. And a fancy car. And champagne for the ride. Tiff doesn't particularly approve, and follows to keep an eye on them.
-Clubbing time!
-Damnit, Vi really likes this club, and now she and her Valkyries have to find somewhere else to party. Because of that whole avoiding Sealand thing. Hmph!
-Drinks!
-Dancing!
-More drinks!
-Arella and Kat run into Mimi.
-Korosu is hanging out by the bar, making the evening weird.
-Lexi runs into a fan, and then Lola.
-Eva's help is needed after Lexi drinks too much.
-Gigglefitting.
-DT's Jeep** shows up, to report him missing! Where could he be?
-Oh, and Arella is TOTALLY NOT A MAGICAL GIRL, damnit!

*image for mental imagery comparison.
**the Jeep gets angry when not capitalized.
***the greatest anime of all time. Go watch it!
****excessive footnote.
Image
<<

DarkTan

User avatar

Posts: 100

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Post Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:49 pm

Bad DT! No Treat!

Location: The Hollows.
TimeStamp: During the last bit of Just Dance
Characters: Bad DT. NPC fodder. Possible recurring NPC
Authors: DarkTan, Oring, Elle-Edits.



The Hollows were not a nice place to be since the invasion. To be honest, it was never a nice place, but after the ANFG towers cordoned off the entire area, it resembled a slum more than anything else. However, it was still their slum. And they were not too pleased to see a particular blue haired individual. "<You got a lot of balls coming here alone,>" a vampire said as he stepped out of an alley way, "<You people are responsible for this shit hole the Hollows have become.>" He stood to block the path of the man with the bloody shirt.

"<And you think you're going to do something about it?>" DarkTan smirked, his voice sounding off. Harsher. Darker.

"No, he isn't," a female said, switching the conversation to English, from a nearby rooftop, aiming a cross bow, "We are. I've got him covered, Thom."

"Better not miss," DarkTan looked up at her with her coal black eyes. Earning a gasp from the woman on the roof.

"What's wrong Tanya?" Thom asked.

"His eyes. They are wrong," she said, her voice shaking.

"Who cares about his eyes," a second male vampire said before jumping from a different roof top and landing behind the dhampir, "We can play baseball with them."

"Not like he can fight us all, right?" Another one appeared, carrying a pipe.

DarkTan laughed. "You know, under normal circumstances, I might find you intimidating. Except for one thing."

"Yeah? What's that?" Pipe asked, mockingly.

"You're not intimidating," With that the leader of ORAZ's arm was buried in Base Ball's chest, the vampire's still beating heart clenched in his fist, which had exited his back. Tanya let her crossbow bolt fly, as Pipe charged. The bolt was plucked out of the air and found itself buried in Thom's chest as Pipe discovered that lead is just not that tasty. The entire ordeal happened in the blink of an eye. Tanya was already running before the bodies hit the ground. She made it across three rooftops before she stopped to listen.

Drip....drip...drip...

She knew that sound. She knew what it was before her vampire senses could smell it. Blood. DarkTan stepped out from behind an HVAC unit, his right arm soaked in blood to the bicep, and his left side covered in spray. The dhampir licked some from his face before fixing his gaze on her. "We can do this the easy way, or the hard, slow and painful way," he said, "Your choice."

Tanya was paralyzed with fear; the crossbow fell from her shaking hands as he approached her. She was terrified. Frozen. She hadn't felt like this since the night she was turned. She had never seen such a monster before that night. Just like now. She thought fear was something that was far behind her. She was wrong. It was an arms length before her. She could feel him reach for her, pull her towards him and she could do nothing. She felt his single fang pierce her neck as the urge to give in washed over her. She thought it was odd at first, only one puncture, but the last thing she felt was a second fang plunging in to her neck.

And then it all went dark.

---

If there was any other place that resembled the CATastrophe, it was in the Hollows, behind the walls of one of the seedier looking buildings. The dilapidated exterior housed an interior that had more in common with a Victorian Era mansion than anything else, well a Victorian era mansion with three stages and half a dozen gold poles running floor to ceiling. The two doormen thralls carried guns and blades in a combination of mundane, blessed, and silver. This was an upper class vampire establishment. Humans and sparkly wannabes were not welcome. In fact, anyone not previously known to them was not welcome. DarkTan was not known to them. This was about to change.

"Hey guys," the blue haired man said as he walked up to them, "How's your health care?" He grinned, flashing a pair of fangs, still stained slightly red. The pair reached for there weapons only to find their large frame 10mm pistols to be pointed directly at their own faces, "I guess it's pretty good." Both guns barked as the guards dropped, leaving behind a red mist and a stain on the wall.

The gunshots were heard inside, and while not a very common occurrence they were still common enough that no one thought to immediately investigate.

"The service here is absolutely terrible," DarkTan said as he strode in, still wearing the dried blood of his earlier kills and now the fresh blood of the doormen. "Who runs this shit hole?"

"The hell did you just say?" The bartender angrily demanded as he moved to confront DarkTan. The leader of ORAZ merely raised his right hand gun and put a round through the bartender's shoulder. The bartender was knocked back against the shelves to the sound of glass breaking.

"Huh," DarkTan said as he noticed the amount of blood splattering the wall. He walked over to the bartender as he checked to see what kind of bullet he just used. Finding them to be a mundane, yet very effective hollow point, he put the magazine back and addressed the bartender. "Shit hole I said. Now, these are normal bullets, so I'm sure that if you look deep in to your heart, which is currently all over that bottle of Patrón, you'll find that you can forgive me." He stood back up and turned to the crowd of angry onlookers, "Now, I do believe I was looking for the owner of this aforementioned shit hole."

Near the back of the establishment a redheaded vampire stood and began heading for the door, she didn't come here for trouble, and it seemed like this guy brought a lot of it.

DarkTan marked the girl's passing and halted it with a shot to the door handle just before she could reach for it, "No one leaves until I get an answer." He put another round in to the bartender as if too punctuate the statement.

The woman grit her teeth, exposing a fang as she moved her hand away from the door. "Fine. You want the boss man? Check behind the staff doors." She said with crossed arms. "I'm a customer, not an employee, and it's not like I'm gonna waste time on police. So, can I leave alive and in one piece now, or do you need me to go with you?" She asked, a few attendants giving her questioning looks.

"Get him, and then you can leave," DarkTan grinned, "I like you." There was nothing amusing or wholesome about his grin or statement. It was a dark mockery of what should have been there,

"... Do you want me to tell him your're here?" She asked as she headed for the bar, slowing her movements as she leaned over the counter to take the staff key from a keyrack underneath it, her skirt giving anyone who was paying attention a panty flash before she slowly stood again, her hands raised to she she didn't get a weapon.

"You can tell him he has a guest torturing his employees," DarkTan replied, keeping his eyes on the rest of the occupants of the club. Almost daring them to add themselves to the list of wounded.

"Who are you?" She dared to ask. "You look like DT, but he doesn't act like this..." She stated, recalling her visits to the CATastrophe club and all the times she saw him there as she walked to the staff door.

"I am NOT that insufferable fucking simpleton," DarkTan growled, "But then again, I suppose I am. A little."

"Oooh?" The woman said with moderate intrigue as she unlocked the door and headed in, returning a short while later with the building owner. "This is him." She said, gesturing to DarkTan before taking a few steps away, her inner sadist really curious as to what was going to happen.

"So, you run this dump?" DarkTan asked, prodding the wounded bartender with his boot.

"That's right, now what quarrel does ORAZ pose with me?" The man asked inquisitively.

"ORAZ? ORAZ is gone," DarkTan said, "For that matter. DarkTan is gone as well." DarkTan's sadistic grin widened, showing his fangs.

"Then what do I call you?" The man asked, the sadistic smile having little effect due to him living in a vampire community where such expressions are common.

"Who I am now is of no consequence," DarkTan said, "But what I intend to do is."

"And where does my bar fit into your plan, Mr. X?" The bar owner asked, tapping his counter top as the redhead attempted moving towards the back of the bar behind DarkTan but was met with a firearm trained to her forehead.

"X, I think I'll use that," X replied, "Good way to separate myself from him. Now, for your bar, you want the short version, or the long?"

The woman stopped moving, holding up her hands in surrender. "I'm not planning anything... Just trying to get out of the way."

"With all the euphemisms, and hints I'd rather you put your gun down and tell me with words." The bar owner said before sighing. "Short's better."

"I am going to murder everyone in here, except for her," X pointed to the redhead, "Then I'm going to drink all of your booze and burn the place to the ground." There was a pause, "Possibly engage with illicit activities with Red over there too."

"Figured as much. Mind telling a far too old vampire why?" The bar owner asked with an odd calm.

"Wait, you're gonna..." The redhead said with a mixture of excitement and fear as a blush spread across her cheeks.

"Shits and giggles," X shrugged.

"Hmmm. Just another animal." The bar owner lamented before drawing a pistol to fire at X.

X grinned ear to ear and-

  Code:
We're sorry. This section has been removed due to graphic violence, excessive gore, oceans of blood and the death if a mime. Actually,  the mime wasn't that big of deal, but using his head like a hand puppet was probably a little over the top. Then there was the copy right infringement from DT singing "I'll Slaughter Your World." Like we need LFG and Disney suing ORAZ right now. Also, seriously, how does one being hold that much blood inside?

Also, I think there is a finger in my drink. *Sigh* This is going to take hours to clean up.


"So," X said, wiping someone else blood from his forehead, only to have an unidentified body part land on his shoulder after falling off a chandelier, "Why didn't you run out the door while I was...," He look around at what could be accurately described as a Corpse Party, "Busy?"

The woman stood there, mouth agape with awe as a blush was visible on her blood spattered cheeks. She looked around the blood soaked bar before cracking a smile. Slowly she approached him with want in her eyes, taking hold of his jacket before exposing her neck to him. "You promised...Illicit activities." She whispered, before trembling with anticipation as she licked some blood from his cheek.

"Hmm," X mused for a moment, "Aren't you a treat. I think I'm going to keep you."

"You can keep calling me Red if you want." Red said, her deep red eyes staring up to him.

"What is your true name?"

Red giggled a for a moment. "Annice."

X paused as is pondering this for a moment before finally speaking, "So Red, you wanna fuck or what?"

  Code:
Summary:
   
    The Hallows is not at nice as it used be.
    Actually it was never nice.
    And now it was covered in blood.
    What we just grow extra teeth now?
   
    Totally stole those lines.
    Author has been pre-occupied with 10mm pistols lately.
    Stole that line too
    Civilians in the crossfire?
    Threats
   
    Yeah, ripped that off too. Bunnies and Kitties yo.
    Red is all hot and bothered.
    Two steal from one or two is plagiarism. 3 or more is research. Ergo, this post is research.
   
a
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.
<<

Hyuuint

Posts: 13

Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:27 am

Post Sat Jul 09, 2016 11:44 am

Re: The Storm Is Set To Rise

Recoveries and Aftermath

Characters: Rekko, Ivan, Jack, Ei, Shiori, Brittany, Skorpion, [REDACTED], Dr. Burke, Tiffaney, [REDACTED]
Locations: Yokosuka Naval Hospital, [REDACTED]
Authors: ArsenalXA4, hyuuint, Skorp
Timestamp: Almost immediately after "Confrontations pt 2", and extending for a few days after.

---

"<Oh Kami, I didn't expect this to be a mop job.>" Rekko remarked as he shovelled more of Shiori's remains into a sack. Well, remains was a poor choice of word. More like 'goo'.

"<This land warrior guy sounds dangerous. Isn't this the third attack?>"

"<Third attack, and...>" Rekko trailed off, counting under his breath. "<I think we're nearly at 10 people hurt by this guy, five confirmed fatalities if the American radio is to be believed. Ugh, that's the last of the tags around here. We can probably make up the weight in biomass, but I don't know why she's not healing.>"

Ivan dumped another shovelful of nanite goo into the bag. "<No head. Scanner says across town.>"

Rekko tilted his head, frowning. "<Jack, spool her up again. We've gotta go find another bit.>"

"<How hard did he HIT her?>"

---

"<Well, there's the head.>" Jack remarked, peering into the can.

Ivan reached in, retrieving the head in question, holding it up to look into Shiori's eyes. "Alas! poor Yorick. I knew her, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; she hath borne me on her back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it!"

Rekko and Jack looked at each other, and shrugged.

"Vhat? Is appropriate quotation. You not learn classics in schooling? Shakespeare, Twain, Steinbeck, Aykroyd."

Jack's eyebrows fought briefly. "Aykroyd?"

Rekko sighed. "Blues Brothers. Ghostbusters. Coneheads?"

"... No?"

Ivan reached out to slap Jack upside the head. "IDIOT. Not learn own culture? >Typical Americanski. Never learn, always make fun. Surprised you put own underpants on right way around in mornings.<" He grumbled, slipping into Russian.

Rekko reached out and took Shiori's head, dropping it into the sack with the rest of her. "<Oh, shut up and let's go. Maybe Tiffaney can put her back together.>" <Wait, did she just LOOK at me? Can't have been.> He shrugged, lifting the sack up onto the helicopter.

"Boy, don't you go talkin' that crazy language o' yours at me."

Ivan climbed into his seat, flicking switches and adjusting controls. "Is hundred and six miles to Chicago. We have... Three quarters tank of aviation fuel, half a ration bar, is dark, and we are wearing helmets. Hit it!"

"Hit whut?"

"<That's it. We've having a movie night next weekend. You're getting Educated.>"

---

Many miles away, at the Yokosuka Naval Hospital...

"Patient admitted at twenty two twenty three, arrived with amputation of right arm above the elbow, dislocated left shoulder, punctured abdomen, and cracked ribs." HMC Sarkodie read off the patient chart, Goleb standing nearby. The Army medic and his SDI opposite had been forced to stabilize Ei on the helo, finishing what his nanomachines had started. The thing they both found remarkable was the lack of blood from the amputation. Chief Sarkodie read off the blood pressure at time of admittance to Goleb, the Combat Medic and his Parajumper opposite had blood on their flak jackets, not from the Captain but from arranging the dead in the helo for the flight. HMC Joshua Sarkodie was originally from Ghana, immigrating to the United States as a teen. When he was of age he felt a desire to give back to his adopted country, enlisting in the US Navy as an undesignated seaman. On his first command he found his calling, striking into the field of the Medical Corpsman. That was eight years ago. Now a Chief, he had a unit under his command at the Yokosuka Naval Hospital, striving for nothing short of excellence in caring for his patients. Such was the case with the Army Captain that had come in during his shift. On the same floor, "Sergeant" Joel Anson Pierce had been admitted to another room, put under after undergoing surgery for his arm wound.

"That's about right." Goleb replied. "Since we were still in an active combat zone we had no choice but to stabilize in flight. Not my first rodeo." Sarkodie closed the patient folder and inserted it into the tray by the door.

"You did good, given the circumstances."

"Here's the x-rays you wanted, Chief." an HM3 remarked, taking a moment to hand over the chart. Sarkodie looked them over, furrowing his brow.

"The images of the ribs have multiple artifacts. Is the machine acting up?" he asked the junior NCO.

"I asked the techs to check it several times. There's nothing wrong with our equipment." she replied. Sarkodie noticed that cracks that were in one image were smaller in the next and gone in the last. He'd never seen anything like it in all his years.

"Thank you, HM3. I will page you if I need you." The petty officer nodded then took her leave, Sarkodie plucking Ei's patient chart from the tray and opening it.

"Uhh, Chief, you still need us or are we free to go?" Goleb asked.

"We have an overnight room. Feel free to make use of it. There should be some changes of clothes you may use if you so desire." Goleb patted Sarkodie's shoulder as he walked past, pausing momentarily.

"Take care of him, Doc. Guy's been there for us a lot in the past. That and... well, this shit shouldn't have happened on this night in particular. Guy had somethin' special goin' on." he said before walking off. Sarkodie nodded then began writing notes in the chart..

Pt was admitted w/cracked ribs. X-Rays showed cracks along bottom most ribs on rt side. Sbsqnt scans show cracks disappearing. Sarkodie closed the chart after making his annotations and returned it to the tray. He took a look inside the hospital room. Inside an SDI soldier stood guard, M-4 SOPMOD hanging from a chest rig. Sarkodie was surprised by that fact. Normally they would have had an MA (Master at Arms) or a Marine posted for this sort of thing. Sarkodie looked the Captain over. He was laying on his side, almost like he was trying to curl up into a ball. It was a sad sight to see. A proud soldier, cut down in such manner.

---

The Largoists had just entered their base when Brittany intercepted the trio, seemingly from out of nowhere. With her hands on her hips and the silvery eyes, she looked rather intimidating right then. "Where is she."

"Uh, we're not sure if we're-" one of them began before Brittany cut him off with a glare.

"<Here.>" Rekko held up the bag with her remains.

Brittany strode over, took the bag carefully, and looked inside. Her face darked, just a little bit, for just a moment. "Thank you. I will dispose of her remains myself." She turned to walk away.

"<Wait, just like that? But->" Rekko started.

"Her head alone is a miracle of science, which means in the wrong hands it becomes a disaster. I'll destroy it myself." She looked to the bag. The Largoists could swear her eyes were watering up "My sister's dead, and there isn't anything I can do about it. You did your jobs, now let me do mine." Brittany strode into the elevator, and let the doors close. Just before they did, she heard one of them mutter "Kinda cold, isn't she?" Brittany allowed herself a small sniff; she hadn't been this scared since the refinery incident. After allowing herself that one moment of weakness, she steeled herself, and punched a sequence on the buttons. The elevator suddenly rocketed downwards, far into the facilities. Into places only Skorpion, Tiffaney, and now she knew existed. Oh, and the vent gnomes, and the ROUS.

Once on the level instructed, Brittany moved through the hallways at a brisk pace. One room was chosen in particular, one that had what materials she needed, and access to the incinerator. She opened the bag once more and pulled out Shiori's head. The goo that remained did not stick to any part of her. The nanites had destroyed themselves and her bodily remains so thoroughly that the goo was utterly useless. Brittany set her head carefully on it's side on a nearby bed, and took a moment to send the bag and it's remaining contents into the incenerator. She gave herself another moment, walking over to Shiori's head and whispering. "You are safe now. Come back to us."

As though on cue, her eyes shifted towards Brittany. They were not controlled by her, but rather the nanites in her system, as evident by the silver that had collected there. Brittany took a few steps back, and watched as her sister slowly but surely reformed.

Bone, sinew, muscle, nerves, everything. The process was tedious and calculated, making sure her systems didn't collapse on themselves. The entire reformation took hours, but Brittany did not so much as blink. She stood vigil, watching. Finally, when the last bit reformed, Shiori sat bolt upright, gasping for air as though she was nearly drowned. Brittany was at her side in a moment, pushing her back down. "Easy. Rest. You still need to collect yourself."

Shiori didn't respond, but merely closed her eyes, which continued to move rapidly under the lids. Brittany pulled a blanket over her sister's rewly remade and nude form.

"Now do you believe that she is a Tier Ten?" Brittany asked aloud, turning to the doorway.

There stood Skorpion and Tiffaney, both looking at their own levels of awestruck.

Brittany ushered them out of the room, herself joining the pair, closing the door behind.

"She's really alive?" Tiffaney asked in her non-magical girl form, hoping to God this was real.

"She is. She will need another hour and twenty minutes to recollect herself mentally, but she is alive." Brittany confirmed.

"Will she... Remember?" Tiffaney then asked, the question itself being a terrifying concept.

"She will. Up till the moment a head would die, she will remember every moment. Even if her brain matter had been harmed any further, with the nanites that retreated into her skull, she would have lost a day or two at most."

"Oh, my." Tiffaney said sadly.

Brittany looked at the door, then back to the pair. "It is vital that no one knows of her revival save for us, Devin, and possibly Arella. No one else can know, to the best of our abilities. This Machariah, he seems to simply know things, even things that he should not logically be able to." She breathed in deep. "I will be making some contacts about this, but until then, I need your help to keep her HERE. She must not leave for any reason. Will you help me with this?"

"Well, yes, but are you okay?" Tiffaney asked. "This must be harder for you then anyone."

"I'll be fine. She is alive, will be properly awake in an hour, and I can make sure she gets better." She breathed out slightly, and pulled out a tablet yet again. "Please keep an eye on her. I will return shortly." And before she got an answer, she walked off.

"I'm worried about them." Tiffaney said to Skorpion, though it was quite obvious.

"I'm sure they'll be fine. They've been through this before, when Lucius blew up that refinery." Skorpion reassured her, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.

---

On the second day, Ei's mood worsened. He refused to take visitors and he wasn't eating. The worst of it began after the Major's first visit, when he broke news of what had happened after Ei blacked out. He had been informed of the deaths of Sergeant Shuichi Kurosawa, Corporal Vincent Sharde, and Specialist Ernesto Switalski. Things only got worse when Jenks told Ei about what had happened to Shiori. About how she went into a berserk state, tore the attacker across the park and damn near won, only to be beheaded and have her head delivered to the Principality of Sealand. Ei became a blubbering mess at that point. The Major did his best console the Captain, but soon took his leave.

---

Skorpion was on his way to the hangar to wait on Tiffaney, who had stayed behind briefly to talk to Shiori. He passed by a door, and paused, waiting patiently until Tiffaney emerged. "Is she doing okay?"

"She's shaken up, and won't say much, but physically it's like nothing ever happened." Tiffaney reported, looking back to the room sadly. "I wish I could've been there to stop it."

"He'd have tried to carve straight through you, though. He killed three American soldiers and torched one of their vehicles, and he's apparently found an old YLF weapon stash."

"I fended him of once! Well. 'She'. Fended him off once." Tiffaney paused, rubbing her arm. "Was too late then too..."

"You made sure he only got away with Johnathan's arm, rather than his head." Skorpion replied, tugging her into a hug. "Damage limitation."

"Do you think he'd still be coming after us if we didn't attack that carrier?" Tiffaney asked, wrapping her arms around him. "I'm worried, Skorpion."

"It's not like I'm that hard to find." Skorpion pointed out, stroking her hair gently. "He'd have found us eventually."

"But..." She started, sobbing a little as her ears folded back and her tail drooped. "I just want my kids to be safe."

"Then help me." Skorpion replied. "Help me build a better world, one where they won't be attacked and persecuted, and where they'll have more protection. Maybe someday we won't even have to go around killing people all the time, either, and not because we've run out."

Tiffaney nodded, holding Skorpion tightly. "I'll do everything I can."

"I'll make sure your effort isn't wasted."

---

On the third day, the Major confronted Sarkodie about the the reports of neglected meals. "I cannot force him to eat, Major. All I can do is maintain the IV fluids and ensure that he is cared for by my staff." Chief Sarkodie said to Major Wylder. By this point the Major's visits had become an exercise in redundancy.

"I don't like seeing him this way. It's bad enough his AI is giving us the silent treatment. Hell, she isn't even reacting to her little spider pal. Look, please let us know if anything changes."

"You will be the first call that I make, Major." Sarkodie said as the Special Forces Officer/CIA Agent left. Agent MacIntyre had been waiting in the staff car, as he had been doing for the last few days. The cut on his face no longer required a bandage.

"Any change?" he asked as the Major slid into the passenger's side.

"Negative. The HMC on duty says he's stopped eating." Jenks replied. Mac started the car and pulled out of the parking lot. "Three days without food, Mac. The only nutrients he's getting are what the IVs he's hooked up to have, and I doubt that's enough to fuel his metabolic furnace."

"No shit. I just wish we could have done more. Maybe if we had heavier weapons, or if we had a gunship on hand..." Mac speculated as they drove off base.

"Woulda, shoulda, coulda, but we didn't. You can't change the past. Only learn from it." Jenks replied. They had requisitioned the Black Gunship from Black Site Fukushima to act as heavy air support. Mr. Clancy had yet to get back to the Major about it. Jenks leaned into his seat and closed his eyes, waking when Mac tapped him to show the gate guards their IDs. Base security had increased their readiness, MPs wearing MCH helmets and IBA flak jacekts instead of simple tac vests and patrol caps. There were even M-1A3 Abrams tanks on post, brought in from the armor detachment posted at Atsugi Air Base. Jenks had come to dread looking at the hangar, especially after the droid deathmatch he had witnessed. Convoy had voluntarily relocated himself to another hangar in the interim, leaving Dani enough space for herself. All of it was very much warranted, as Anie and her technicians had their hands full replacing parts and hardware that had been damaged or destroyed in Dani's fight with Convoy. Joey, bless his mechanical heart, tried his best to help with the clean up. No one could bring themselves to tell him what happened to his creator.

"Anie, any change?" Jenks asked as he and Mac entered the hangar. Anie, who had been stopped over a laptop, looked up.

"Nothin'. We tried to play some music she likes, engage her in conversation, threatened to burn that bush she's been hovering over... Hell, we tried to piss her off! Nothin' at all!" the tech rep replied, looking up at the silent titan. Jenks watched Joey skittering across her frame and noticed that the gouge from where Convoy had shot her in the face was still there.

"Anie, why hasn't Joey touched that 'scar?'"

"That's a funny story." Anie began. "The only time she's spoken since the attack was to tell Joey to leave the scar in place then went back into stasis. You ask me I think she wants it as a reminder of her failure." The scar, while it didn't hit anything vital, was close enough to the right side optics that the components going to the assemblies were exposed.

"All we can do..." Jenks said, patting Anie on the shoulder before heading for his office. At the barracks, Lieutenant Crowley had been placed in charge of the platoon while the Major did his own thing. The loss had been felt especially hard by the members of 28th Armored Infantry. Life since had become a humdrum, half effort put into PT, next to no conversation during chow, and almost nothing getting done on a unit level. The exception to the rule was whenever a fireteam was called up to stand post on the base gates.

During one chow time, a couple members of the 28th heard two privates chatting amongst each other. "I thought the Captain and that girl were a good couple. Pity. He was always a nice guy. Gave me some pointers on my second day here." The second guy nodded. "I remember when she lifted those barriers. I thought my superior was gonna have a coronary." The two shared a private chuckle before they noticed the glares. They shut up and got back to their meals in silence.

---

"Lola!"

"Shiori!"

It was a happy sight, two extremely good friends running to one another and glomping each other. The air was soon filled with chatter between the two about what all was going on, what was missed, what had just happened.

After a while, the babble from Lola's side ceased. "Shori?" The other side continued, until Lola asked again. "Shiori! I don't mean to interrupt but it's a little hard to breathe in here..."

"Oh! Sorry!" Shiori released her, the bunnygirl stepping away from the cleavage she'd been stuffed into by the hug, breathing deeply. "I thought you were dead! They said he cut your head off!"

"Well..." Shiori answered, scratching nevously at an ear, her tail swishing nervously to and fro behind her. "I kind of got better..."

Lola hugged her again, ears brushing against the snowleopardgirl's chin, letting out a muffled sob. "I thought I'd lost you, too..."

"Um... There there?" Shiori managed, patting her friend's back softly. "I'm better now, don't worry." Lola found herself in another hug, just far more careful this time. "Uh, wanna see where we're bunking for a while?"

"Mmph." Lola pulled back again. "Sure."

Shiori nabbed the bunnygirl by the hand and wandered off with her. "Heads up though, apparently we're not staying too long...er, provided you want to come with me, that is."

"Your landlord's been giving me funny looks hanging around your place on my own, and my home's still crawling with TPCD, so why not?"

---

On day four, Dr. Burke dropped by for a visit not long after Major Wylder had come and gone, Agent Pierce leaving with him and returning to the platoon. He nodded to the SDI operator on guard who left the room and closed the door behind him.

"You look worse than Bronski did after his run in with some punji sticks." Burke mused, recalling a memory from Vientam. "Unlike Bronski, you lived. Rather, live. You should be happy about that." Ei said nothing back to Burke as he lay in bed.

"Listen... Cap... I get it. You're beatin' yourself up over a percieved failure. The key word is 'percieved.' You know this is not the end of everything, and it is not your fault things went the way they did. Fortunately for you, some equipment and technicians that I requested came up here, straight from our San Diego lab. We can patch you up, put you back into fighting shape." Still no answer. "Cap, you're not giving me much to work with here... Y'know what, I didn't want to have to do this but you're not leaving me much choice." Burke said, going to the door and opening it.

"I think he's ready to talk. Kinda..."Burke said to a well decorated, general officer who had been waiting outside. The SDI Operator was gone, no doubt caused by the general's intimidating presence.

The General gave the SDI operator a withering study before commanding him to be at ease. It actually took the infantryman a few seconds to register what was said, and had actually tensed up in the process. Despite the general's obvious age (well into his seventies) and short stature (barely hitting 5' 3"), his presence gave off the feeling of his extreme history and experience in the decades it took to get his position (supported by medals that seemed to give him almost every major honor in most of the important conflicts in the last fifty years). He motioned for the SDI Operator to clear off of the floor. The guy did so very quickly.

Ei had, for the most part, maintained his position. The only reason bed sores hadn't set in was because he had been rolling himself over. The Corpsmen had to come in several times to reinsert the pick lines whenever he rolled to his left side. "Good afternoon, Captain. I hear you are denying yourself meals. Not a good thing to do, with the amount of blood you have lost, not to mention the sleep, if I guess correctly." As he spoke, the General gave Burke a glance before moving to the windows. He stared out them, hrming a small bit to himself before he rotated the blinds shut.

"......I didn't even get to tell her how I felt. It was her last day with us...." Ei spoke in barely a whisper. The General turned to him at that, apparently letting him speak further. Burke simply raised an eyebrow and started to reach for his pack of cigarettes.

"...That night.... was s'posed to be... special... Wanted... to give her.... a good send off..." Ei said. The only thing keeping him from crying again was his borderline dehydration. His HUD had been displaying a gas can icon, indicating that he needed to eat, badly. Otherwise his body would shut down and be kept in stasis until sustenance was acquired.

The General studied the man, letting him ruminate for a few moments. "You may still get that chance, Captain."

"S-she's... she's just... a head...." he managed, closing his eyes and trying, and failing, to block the mental image.

"She was. For two days." The decorated old man gave Burke another glance. He got the message, and went to close the door. If Ei had been paying attention, he would have sworn he heard a light hum soon after. "Captain, what I am about to say to you does not leave this room. Her life could depend on it."

"What.... What is it...?"

The General made his way to the foot of Ei's hospital bed. "You were given a small glance into the project that produced Shiori and her sisters. Chief Burke here has already informed me of the conversation you three had approximately one week ago, and I know her. She likely told you all she was allowed in the nights that you two secreted away."

"...how did... how did you know...?"

"She may be a grown woman that can take care of herself and twist steel with her pinkie, but I am still her father figure and I still keep tabs on her and all of my daughters." Burke couldn't help but snort a little at that. Ei had a few seconds to realize what was just said before the General continued. "While the devices that were introduced into their bodies settled in places in essentially the same way per place, each girl had a special difference. Brittany, for example, shares a Head placement with her sister Olivia, but she ended up with direct intelligence to her sister's more creative side. Shiori is no different. She was one of three with Chest, but while the other two held onto their ability to access Hammerspace, Shiori gained something different, something far more powerful than we had ever expected."

"And... and that is...?"

"Thanks to her most noticeable physical attribute, the weight increase from the bonding, as well as the production of their selves within said area, the constant healing of her back and chest muscles hyperaccelerated their healing capabilities. Add to this their strange obsession to keep her body perfectly physically beautiful, soft, and comfortable, despite how trim she gets herself, she reached a point that was thought to be merely theoretical." He paused again, breathing heavily. "She is currently the only known Tier 10 healer in existance."

Burke nearly swallowed his cigarette. He was not expecting that bit of information. Ei didn't seem to care too much about that revelation, but rather in an implied bit of info.

"She is a Tier 10? That's impossible!" Burke exclaimed.

"We thought so too. Then the refinery incident occurred." The General gave Burke another pointed glance.

"A watershed moment, I take it."

"It was. She recovered, at the age of 12 years, from little more than what survived of her torso." The old man spoke to both of them equally. "She lost about two weeks worth of memories in the process, but she survived."

"Worst we ever did to the Captain here was shoot him in his frontal lobe with a .45ACP. Three hours to regenerate lost brain matter and an additional six to regain higher functions." Burke mused. Ei winced when that incident was brought up.

"Once the machines in her body recognized she was in a safe environment, after having been buried for about two days, she recovered in less than four hours. Five including her waking up afterwards."

"That certainly sounds like a Tier 10." Burke said, stubbing his cigarette out on his shoe sole. "As for the Captain himself, we can't leave him in this unacceptable state."

"W-wait... Y-you said... Sh-shiori lost... two weeks... of memories..." Ei managed to say, fearing what may come.

Another pointed look to Burke, but the Chief didn't understand why this time. The General faced Ei directly.

"The two of you seem to be surrounded by massive amounts of luck or are being guided by some very powerful threads of fate. You, of the Land Warriors, meeting up with her of all beings. Her, the only Tier 10, striking up a relationship with the only surviving prototype member of your project. She has ties to Burke, though she does not know it, and it is not my place to explain. You have your own to his, and to me, though you did not know that either." He turned to pace a bit. "I went to check on my daughter within hours after finding out where her head ended up. And when she finally recovered, six hours later, we made yet another discovery about her abilities." The General tapped his skull. "If, by some lucky measure, her head, or likely her brain, remains as intact as possible and she regenerates from that, even though the colony in her system settled in the Chest, she will retain her memories. Right up to the moment of loss, unfortunately, so she remembers every moment that she was disembodied, but she retains them nonetheless." He looked to Ei. "We do not know if Machariah planned on that, or if he simply happened to remove the one part that helped retain her 'self' as a trophy by sheer accident, but she survives whole either way." Ei closed his eyes and shook.

"Then.... then she would remember..."

"Everything. Unfortunately for her, because we believe that Machariah believes that she is truly dead, she has been ordered to stay put and keep out of sight. Period. This is why she hasn't been here to visit you, no matter how much she wants to." He gave a very small smirk. "Which leads us back to you. The person dating my daughter."

"I... I want to s-s-see her..." Ei said, trying to rise but failing to do so.

"I understand that you do, but you are in no condition to do so. Further, it would be a very, very bad move on our part." He started pacing again. "Machariah may think Shiori is dead, but he knows you are not. We have had two attempts on his part to try and get to you in the last four days alone, to finish what he started." Ei stopped trying to rise, weakened by his refusal to eat over the last few days.

"H-how... did you stop... him... He killed... three... three of my guys..."

"We have methods not readily available to the public, but methods we fear will no longer work on him." He nodded to Burke. "Captain. I have a proposal for you, but one I cannot discuss with you here. With your safety compromised, I am going to be moving you out of this facility and into one undisclosed to all but a select few."

"Where...?" Ei asked, Burke approaching the hospital bed.

"A place that I'm very familiar with. You, not so much." Burke replied, placing his hand on the Captain's shoulder.

The old general took a very dented silver pocketwatch out and checked it. It looked nearly as experienced as he was. "Captain, I am going to suggest that you close your eyes for the next few moments..."

"...cuz you're about to leave Kansas, Dorothy." Burke joked, closing his eyes.

The General waited for Ei to do as he requested, until he could wait no longer. And old, strong hand was placed on the Captain's shoulder, and the world twisted into nothingness.

Barely a second after the three and the hospital bed disappeared, a dozen blades sliced through the windows and wall, at an angle that would have turned Ei's head and torso into sliced ham.

Ei wasn't sure how to describe what he had felt. He ached all over, not just from the curbstomping he had recieved days before but from whatever he just went through as well. Burke was a tad better off, sitting against the hospital bed and trying to light up a cigarette, his hand shaking worse than a gerbil in a paper towel tube. The General was the only one out of the three that seemed completely unperturbed by the sudden change in locale. He took his hand away, snapped his fingers, and the extremely clean white walls seemed to melt away. In their place was a large, moonlit field, like Ei had dreamed of a few times in the last week. It was missing a crucial element, but it was the same field nonetheless.

"Hrm. If I had to guess, somewhere in mid-Texas, close to Lubbock?" Ei looked around as best he could. He was having a hard time adjusting to the sudden change.

"T-texas... I... I could... could visit my... my family...?"

"I highly doubt that. Rather unfortunate side effect to this sort of thing." Burke replied.

"Burke is correct. But before I continue on..." The General left the room for a few moments, leaving the Chief and the Captain alone.

"You got questions, now's the time to ask them." Burke mused as he finally took a drag on his cigarette.

"How.... how did you know about all this...?" Ei asked. Burke blew the smoke from his nostrils.

"Unfortunately the only thing I'm allowed to say is 'data expunged.' You know how OPSEC is."

The General returned soon, and handed Ei what looked to be a small ball of peanut butter. "Eat this. It will help." Ei managed to take it, in spite of his weakened state. The Captain examined the small amount of tanned, slghtly oily substance before popping it into his mouth. After a few moments of chewing, he did infact feel a little better, but was still quite hungry.

"Captain. I am going to be putting you through a few life changes in a span of a few minutes. I need you to steel yourself, and let me know when you are ready." He motioned to Burke, and a couple chairs formed out of the moon-touched prairie grass. The former SEAL rose from where he was and took one of the chairs.

"I've... been through a lot of changes... what's one more...?" Ei said.

"Fair bit more than one." The old soldier took a seat himself. "We will start with the easiest. Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi, for your fraternization with an enlisted person and conduct unbecoming of an officer, you are at risk for losing your commission and being discharged from the service." Ei clenched his remaining fist and started shaking.

"But..." The General held up a hand to calm Ei down. Strangely enough, it worked. "In regards to the history that you and I have, whether you know or not, I was able to pull some strings. Your commission will remain intact, but you and D4N1 will no longer be a part of the 28th Armored Infantry Platoon. Rather, you two will be under mine."

"What... What unit is yours?" he asked, worried about his old unit now.

"We are officially known as the NOM Tactical Strike Unit. Unofficially, we are known as the Meta-squad."

"I voted for a different name, but apparently you can't call yourselves 'The Bad Guys Don't Care What We Call Ourselves.'" Burke chimed in. "Besides, kinda hard to say BGDCWWCO."

"Still better than what Shiori's project ended up with. Which was nothing." The General smirked again, then turned back to Ei. "Our rules are a little different. For example, so long as you keep your nose clean, and treat her right, a certain snow-leopard-accessoried superhuman is yours to date, if she so chooses. D4N1 would be relocated as well, and given some long due upgrades. As would you."

"Anie's in for a shock. Seeing as Project: Dead Clade Walking was hers, she comes with. That aside, the first major upgrade is your arm." Burke explained, lighting a new cigarette with his old one. "I've already had a few ideas pop up." The grass shivered as an unfelt wind crossed around them.

"Another few strings I pulled. Burke as well. But, this pales in comparison to your biggest change around the corner, Major."

"That... that quickly...? I thought I'd have to... wait a few years first..." Ei said. He took a breath and closed his eyes. "What are the other changes?"

"I believe Burke mentioned to you about the upgrades to your systems, ones that were locked away?" The General sat up straighter. "My upper command needs to be the best they can be, in as many aspects as possible. After you have recieved your arm and have gotten yourself back into fighting shape, you will be recieving every upgrade your body can handle without destroying your humanity." He breathed deeply. "With what Machariah has displayed, you are going to need them if you are going to be part of the upcoming collaborative effort to take him down." Ei tensed up again.

"That fucker owes me an arm..." Ei half snarled. "I want him to suffer... In fact, I want to turn him over to Dani... Let her have her way with him..."

"Calm yourself Major. I wish nothing but the fires of hell on him myself, but you should not let yourself get so worked up right now. When you are in training, then you can start venting." He gave a wry chuckle. "I was going to save this as a surprise, but after looking into who would be best to get you into shape, it was decided that Shiori is going to be your physical trainer. Once you get your upgrades, you will find that you may be able to handle her a bit better." He held up a declaritve finger. "Do not get me wrong. She is going to outclass you in strength and speed, always, by nature of her unnatural enhancements. But you will have several advantages on her, and you will be recieving a boost in strength and speed nonetheless."

"I've got some upgrades for that computer attached to your brain too. They may come in handy." Burke added.

"But, all of this will have to wait until after you have properly rested up, gotten back to eating again, and otherwise regained your strength. I will see when, or if, I can bring in a certain visitor or two." The General stood up again, making his way to Ei's left side. The unfelt wind picked up again, sending waves across the glittering field.

"Right... Get better first, then get back into the swing of things... I can do that..." Ei replied.

An old hand was held out to Ei, weary and powerful.

"In light of all that has happened, and who it has affected, I dare say you are faced wtih a choice. Do you accept, young man?"

Ei's eyes hardened, looking downcast as he contemplated. Would he dare take this next step....

Ei looked up, extending his good hand.

"I accept..."

---

A short while after Ei had accepted the offer, and subsequently fell asleep properly for the first time in days, the General and Chief Burke were standing outside of the room.

"Maybe, just maybe I can make up for what I did to him all those years ago." Burke mused. "Of course you're not without your own faults."

A heavy sigh escaped his lips. For the first time in a long time, the old man showed his age. "Believe me, I remember them. I owe him plenty myself."

"Y'know, I told Major Wylder and Agent MacIntyre about a slaughter I was involved in. Kids cut down before they could reach their prime." Burke replied. "Talking is supposed to be good for the soul, but it still feels like I've got a deuce and a half tied to mine."

"And mine as well, maybe far more." He took a deep breath. "You remember that day, when you caused this?" The old general pointed up to his nose, which was slightly crooked to the right.

"Probably the best haymaker I ever delivered. I'm just amazed I wasn't locked up in Leavenworth afterwards. Then again, you did deserve it after that suggestion you made." Burke replied, making a fist and popping his knuckles.

"I've regretted it ever since." He smirked to himself. "You recognized her, didn't you?"

"She grew far more than I had imagined, but yeah. I did recognize her..." Burke paused to check his cigarettes. He was out. "I told them I had to make sure I wasn't exposed to Agent Orange or something."

"She has been extremely lucky, likely a result of that terrible night." He glanced at the room. "We owe these young people so much. We've messed with their lives, and we could very well be the ones that caused this mess in the first place."

"I've ruined twenty five lives as it is. Twenty six should be my redemption. I'm just glad number four wasn't my redemption because four is usually death."

"Heh. Lucky you. Imagine trying to figure out twenty four individual birthday gifts to radically different girls. For eighteen years."

"Case in point why I removed myself from the gene pool. I don't even want to know what kind of fucked up CHUD would result were I to procreate." Burke crushed his empty pack of smokes and jammed his hands into his labcoat pockets. "Welp, we've some work ahead of us. Let's come back to it in the morning."

"Indeed. Hopefully this time things can go right." The General reached into his pocket, and pulled out a box. "I had a feeling you would run out. I remembered your favorite brand and flavor."

"Oh good, you didn't do what a coworker did once." Burke said as he took the pack and immediately lit up. Years ago at SDI, Burke had asked a researcher in another section to pick up some Marlboro Reds for him. Somewhere between the exchange and the lab the guy had gotten the number 100 stuck in his head and brough back a box of 100 cigarettes instead.

"And how something like that can happen is beyond me." He plucked out the old pocketwatch again, looking at it's face. "I will return in a few days. Make sure the Major keeps to his routine. He is going to need to bounce back as quickly as he can without hurting himself. Anie will be around to visit tomorrow, but Shiori won't for another three days at best. Tell him if you want, but I don't see how that would help." The General picked himself up, pocketed the watch, and patted Chief Burke on the shoulder as he left. "Till then." The Chief heard the click of his boots after he turned the corner suddenly disappear after a few moments.

"Fortunately if it's one thing a former Chief knows how to dish out, it's busy work." Burke mused, taking a drag on the cancer stick. There was a regimen to hold to, prior to the surgery to install the new limb, upgrades for his computer, and a host of other needs. Coffee was needed. Coffee on a pick line.

---

Summary:
- Largoists deal with the grisly work of....scooping up Shiori Goo. Ick.
- They found her head. Apparently she got dunked on.
- Brittany met them at the entrance. Takes the head and goo away.
- After a moment of weakness, Shiori is taken to secret areas to let her heal up.

- Ei takes the news about as well as can be expected.

- Tiff and Skorpion discuss taking down Machariah.

- Dani is about the same level as Ei with the news-taking.

- Shiori and Lola reunite.

- Ei has gone on a hunger strike of sorts.
- No amount of attempts to comfort help either.
- Burke stops by for a visit.
- Not Just Burke, but also [REDACTED].
- Ei is very quickly relocated, and just in time.

- Upgrades, futures, and plans discussed.
- Ooh, pretty holo room. Who knew that the now-Major had such a thing for moonlit pastures?
- Said now-Major takes on all of the upgrades he can, and rejoices in the idea that his new girlfriend still lives.

-Two old men talk about how they messed things up, and they need to make things right. Somehow.
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