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The Clans RPG • View topic - (Insert Clever Title Here)
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Arella

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Posts: 129

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 3:49 pm

Location: Ontario, Canada

Post Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:08 am

(Insert Clever Title Here)

*Intro partially stolen from the BozoCat and DarkTan

Megatokyo, The Clans

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

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

1. . This is a world-editable archive of as many characters, groups, plots, places, items, and more. In short, it aims to be a complete reference to the game. How complete it is depends on how much stuff the players add. Go players! Add stuff! The should feature a relatively up-to-date summary of what the world is like.

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

Prohibition

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

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

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

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

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

2. Followers of Great Teacher Largo (FGTL), the one faction that is almost 100% weapons based and has enough fire power to take on the whole country, or so the reports led one to believe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rules

1. Be civil to other authors!

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

3. NO GODMODDING. You cannot write for someone else's character without their express permission.

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

5. Keep it tasteful. Unnecessary and excessive swearing should be avoided (this doesn't mean your character cannot swear, but every other word coming out of their mouth shouldn't be a curse either), and while mature subject matter is not forbidden, let's keep it under an NC-17 rating. If you really need to write some smut, you can use an external link. If there is some mature subject matter in your post, please include the appropriate warnings at the beginning.

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

Formatting

Please read the posted under !

New Players

I highly recommend the new player page of the wiki, linked above. Also, please check out the threads under before joining the game.

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

Many posts are written in realtime on AIM or in IRC.

This Thread

Old characters are coming back together, and new ones are being introduced, while things continue to escalate in our new Prohibition setting. Let's take this opportunity to get a feel for our characters and the setting, and just get everyone interacting again - this is soft-canon for a reason!

Time: Roughly five years after the Demon Invasion.

Soft-Canon: The events in this thread have definitely happened, but the order they happened in or the way they happened is not necessarily what actually happened. This is intended to make posting less work in this thread, and enable people to spontaneously jump in wherever and whenever they find things interesting. Events of world-shattering importance typically don't happen in soft-canon threads, but sometimes we get surprised by what we write.
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DarkTan

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Posts: 100

Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Post Sun Nov 30, 2014 11:20 pm

FIRST!

DarTan: The Unspeakable Cook.
Katrina: Bitch, She Eats People
Mimi: Varying Shades of Gray and A Concerning Amount of Red.
Ahab: Hail, Huntsmaster.
Stone: His Rap Sheet Is Better Than Wrapping Papper.
<<

Skorpynekomimi

User avatar

Posts: 96

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Thu Dec 11, 2014 3:02 pm

Re: (Insert Clever Title Here)

I Want Out!
Location: The Manor, CMGY Academy.
Characters: Cathal, Saeko, Lucius, Arella, Kawasaki and Yakashima, Whisp, and Devin.
Authors: Skorpy, Sareth, Oblivion, Elle-chan.




Cathal opened the door, peeking cautiously around it before stepping through, leaving it open behind him. A door slammed in the distance, accompanied after a short pause by a curse from the teenager. "I just can't win, can I?" He sighed, reaching down to adjust a shoe before trudging to the next door, repeating the process of opening it and peering through the gap.

A splash immediately caught his attention. He'd found a bathroom. It was somewhat luxurious, a bench of vernished and smoothed oak lining one wall. The floor was teak, damp from the mist filling the room from the large, almost pondlike bathing tub sunk into it. Sticks of incense mingled with the damp air to create a heady mixture.

Inside the tub was a woman. She looked like a Japanese woman in her mid to late twenties, with shoulder length black hair and pale skin like porcelain. Her chest was just barely exposed by the water, her arms resting along the sides of the tub, one knee protruding like an ivory island rising from the water.

Black eyes contemplated Cathal, the expression not welcoming, but not hostile either. Lips pursed slightly. After a second she cocked her head a touch to one side and the eyes slipped into a dark grey.

"<His son or his grandson?>" the smooth voice asked, a sound like a smokey whisky aged in the cask for a decade before being sampled.

Cathal blinked, then shook himself out of the boobs-induced trance. "You know him?"

She slipped into English smoothly. "Yes. But does he know you?"

Cathal sighed softly, shaking his head. "Didn't recognise me when he saw me. Not surprising; he left my grandma back in the 80s. Never really got over it..." He paused. "Do you know why he's a cat, now?"

The woman shrugged. "It's the nature of the place. He has those for the same reason I have these." She placed her hands on the edge of the tub and sat up until the water level was around her waist. With a rush of air and a soft "whumf" two gigantic black wings, the highlights red, filled the air behind her. She gave them a shake, then slipped back down in the water as far as the wings would allow her, the water stopping just below full breasts. "It's just what we are now." She picked up a wash cloth and began gently wiping down one of the wings.

Cathal's eyes widened, and he hunched over slightly. "D-do you..." He took a deep breath of steamy air, closing his eyes. "Do you know where I could find him?"

"Maybe." The voice had taken on a slightly amused tone. "But the question is, why would I care to tell you? You seem a bit soft for this world."

"I only arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I've been stuck in this stupid manor pretty much since then." Cathal jumped, wincing slightly as a door slammed in the distance, closer this time. "That, and I've seen you around. You like messing with people. You came through here with his handprint on your arse not a week ago. What could screw with him more than finding out that he not only has an illegitimate daughter he's never met, but a grandson as well?"

"Daughter?" He heard a soft splash. "That would be your mother then?"

Cathal nodded, venturing to open an eye to investigate the splash. "Yes... She never quite got on with not knowing her father, and ended up hanging around musicians in the hope of hearing about him. And that's apparently how I came about."

The woman casually dropped the wash cloth in the bath, then pulled it out and wrung it, creating another splash. She continued to wash her wing, either oblivious or uncaring of what was showing and what was not. "There are worse ways to have a child. But the child is not the product. The child merely starts there." She turned those unnatural eyes back to him. "Why should I tell you where to find him? You can barely even look at me even though it is you who walked in on my bath, and not I intruding in your world?"

Cathal opened his other eye, trying not to ogle too hard, for fear his eyes would fall out. "Because you KNOW. You're holding out on me just because you can, just to be a... Just to be mean." He looked around, eyes settling on the pile of clothing as an idea formed. "Also, because I have itching powder, and your clothes are right there."

Her laugh was clear, sunny, delightful, and somehow poisoned. "You've seen me around. You think that putting itching powder in my clothes would somehow inconvenience me?" The woman stood up in the bath, water running down her body, her arms and legs spread just enough to somehow turn the uncaring into lewdness. "I care little for the mores of others. Look all you want, boy. You'll see no more than half of Tokyo."

She stood there just long enough to sink the point home, then returned to her bathing, slipping into the water and taking a bar of soap to the washcloth. "I am, as you so avoided saying, a bitch. A cold, calloused, uncaring bitch that toys with anything that amuses me. Get used to it or you won't even get the courtesy of my mentioning his name, let alone his location."

Cathal let out a small noise in the back of his throat. After a while, he managed to snap back to reality. "If you want to get petty, fine." He reached out, concentrating. The bar of soap shook slightly, before slipping out of Saeko's grip and towards him, sailing past his outstretched hand to bounce off the door and out into the room beyond. "Enjoy your bath." He turned to step out, only for the door to slam shut in his face. He tried the handle, only to find it locked. "Oh shit."

The woman laughed. He heard water splash onto the wooden floorboards, and the wet slapping of feet approaching him. Black wings folded around him, and wet skin pressed against his back, soaking his clothes. "You are in my world, boy. Don't forget this."

Cathal let out a squeak, stiffening up in more ways than one. Blood trickled from his nose as he started to get light-headed. "Uhm... I'm sorry for opening the wrong door and interrupting your bath?"

The woman snorted. "You really aren't cut out for this world. Go home." The wings slipped away and the soft, wet flesh retreated from his back. He heard footsteps and the splash as she reentered the bath.

Cathal shivered. He'd just touched boobs. Nobody would believe him, since this was straight out of some cheap porn story (other than the wings), but he could die happy now. With nothing to lose, he turned around, grinning widely. "Maybe not, but I did get a Mario Kart visa, and beat a ninja to get it. And I have this to trade for information..." He held up a lanyard, from which dangled a magnetic card. "The catgirl strip club is closed; invite only. However, I managed to sneak in and clone a membership card. All the hot wings and catgirls you can eat, and all you have to tell me is where to find one person." His grin widened. "Of course, if you DON'T want to trade, maybe I can be..." He squinted at the card. "DarkTan Canto, instead..."

She snorted. "You have no idea how bad trying to be him is." She slipped out of the water to sit on the edge of the tub, holding a hand out. "He runs a school for magical girls. You'll find it easily. It's the only place of its kind."

Cathal nodded, holding out the card. "Pleasure doing business with you, miss. And, bonus round. If you can get this manor to let me out, I'll fetch you some more soap and scrub your back?"

She laughed again, and this time there was no sun to lighten the darkness in it. "You are not my type, boy child." She waved an arm languidly towards the roof. "<You've had your fun, let him out.>"

Cathal looked over his shoulder as the door opened, breathing a sigh of relief. He bowed, before sidling out, trying to keep an eye on both Saeko and the door at once.

Once he reached the door, he tossed the soap back in, the bar landing neatly in the sink before he fled; feet pounding down the hallway. "Thank you, creepy lady!"

"Don't thank me." She stood up out of the bath, turning to face him, hand on hip. "I play with things because it amuses me. You are just another toy. Another piece of food on a banquet table. Something to amuse me while in the bath. But for all that, you were safer here, with me toying with you, than you will be there." The smile left her face. "There is nothing more dangerous than a magical girl who is not in control of her power, her mind, and her body. And you are about to go to a school full of them."

She turned her back to Cathal and picked up a towel to begin drying herself off. "Don't die."

---

"Magical girl school... The hell is a magical girl?" Cathal pondered, leafing through Google on his phone with one hand as he stuffed himself with fast food with the other; he hadn't found a kitchen in days, and he was HUNGRY. "Huh. Dangerous? They're just girls. I play chicken with London traffic, they can't be THAT dangerous... Damn that's a ways away."

---

A few hours in an internet cafe doing 'research' on magical girls later, Cathal still couldn't get Saeko out of his head. He sighed, opening Priscilla's throttle up and heading off into the hills. As he arrived, he parked in a space marked 'staff only', next to the foot of a mech that, for some reason, was parked near a school. He clambered over the nearby fence, and proceeded to sneak into the nearest locker room with the aim of stealing a uniform from a PE class.

---

Cathal sighed. He'd forgotten; magical GIRLS. Not a male uniform in sight. Considering his options, he shook his hair out from the ponytail he habitually kept it in, and pulled on the longest skirt he'd found, hoping that the long socks would disguise his legs.

---

"<So, then I took the torch off him, and hit him with it, and I told him to 'lighten up'. He didn't think it was very funny, but what does he know? He's just a pro-human thug. But he didn't laugh, so I hit him again, and told him to 'look on the bright side', because I wasn't Raven and wasn't going to shoot him with an arrow or anything.>" Kawasaki paused to take a breath, before continuing her story. "<So, then the others had caught up by that time, but Yaka-chan had my back, and blasted them for me. I could totally have taken them, but backup is always nice. But then Torch Guy got up, and he had a GUN. I mean, how rude is that? He started shouting at us, so I hit him again, but I couldn't think of a good light pun, and that sort of broke the torch anyway...>"

"<Why didn't you just kick him?>" Whisp wanted to know (not for the first time). "<Or punch him in the face, or something. Oooh, you probably could've broken his nose with the torch.>" She may have sounded a little too excited by the prospect, given that she was at a school for magical girls.

"<I decided I had to enlighten him some more!>" Exclaimed Kawasaki, followed by a brief pause and a facepalm. "<THAT'S what I should have said! 'Let me enlighten you on how guns are bad!', THEN hit him with the torch again. Anyway, that didn't actually stop him, so we were kinda in danger. Then Raven totally hit him with an arrow from nowhere. Foam EVERYWHERE, AND it knocked the gun out of his hand.>"

Whisp just muttered something about how setting him on fire would have been cooler (preferably after breaking his nose with the torch, and kicking him in the shins).

Yakashima sighed. "<Whisp-san, you can't just set people on fire. We're supposed to be fighting for justice, love, and everything that's good in the world. Setting people alight is bad. Blasting them with magic or smacking them with blunt instruments, yes. Fire, no... Who the hell is THAT?>"

Cathal ducked behind a table as Yakashima looked up; he'd been spotted! Damn it, he knew the disguise wouldn't work. Barely any boys here, and the few he HAD seen were way too short.

"<Well, they would stop bothering you if you set them on fire,>" Whisp rather stubbornly insisted, ignoring the distraction in favour of convincing the other girls of the awesomeness of fire.

"<But fire is BAD, Whispy-chan! And you could easily kill someone with it, not to mention set fire to half the city if you're not careful.>" Kawasaki pointed out, also blissfully unaware of Yakashima's comment.

"<No, seriously, I don't recognise them.>" Yakashima stood up to get a better look, before walking over.

Cathal cursed to himself; trying to get up and run, but tangling his legs in the unfamiliar skirt sent him sprawling. His attempts to clamber to his feet were curtailed by Yakashima grabbing his arm, twisting it behind his back and using it to push him to the rest of the group. "Whisp! You know me, right? Tell her to let go!"

Whisp blinked at him. Then blinked again. He did look kinda familiar, but a quick search of her brain didn't reveal anything further, so she just asked, "Who are you?"

Cathal gave her a look of disbelief, before crying out as Yakashima twisted his arm. "Argh! We met a couple of weeks ago... We snuck into a gig, and I introduced you to booze, fast food, and moshing?"

Kawasaki peered at the newcomer closely, leaning in to poke at his cheek. "<I don't think that's even a girl... She doesn't SOUND very girly, anyway.>"

Whisp dutifully gave this some serious thought, before finally just shrugging. "Nope, don't remember," she declared.

"You remember riding on Priscilla, right? The motorbike? Purple? And finding the undead bird?" Cathal clawed at his only hope not to be beaten up by girls.

"Oh yeah! You were there when I got Fred!" Whisp finally (somewhat) remembered. "What are you doing here? And why are you wearing a skirt?"

Cathal sighed. "I needed a disguise, the only uniforms I found were girl ones, and the boys are too short to knock out and steal clothing from. Plus, that'd be kinda gay. And I'm here to look for my grandfather. Apparently he teaches here, or something."

Yakashima gave his arm another vicious twist, causing him to cry out in pain again. "<What did he say? His accent is funny, and he talks too fast.>"

Kawasaki poked him again. "<He looks kinda like Lucius-sensei...>"

"<He said he stole a female's uniform to sneak in, and he's looking for his grandfather that works here... Going by his face I'd say Lucius.>" Devin translated and deducted as he put away his phone. "You know him, Whisp?"

"Kinda?" the Miho-lookalike allowed. "He was there when I got Fred. And he has a cool motor bike. It's purple." Aaaand that was about all she remembered of the encounter; a lot of exciting things had happened since then, after all.

"I see. I would recommend that he cease crossdressing." Devin took a few more seconds to enjoy the boy's pain. "<Yakashima-chan, could you release him please?>"

Yakashima gave a final twist before releasing him.

Cathal winced, rubbing his shoulder as his arm was freed. "Was that really necessary?"

Yakashima nodded. "Yes. Yes it was. <What are we doing about this idiot?>"

"<Part of me wants to watch you hurt him more.>" Devin responded.

"<You could always hit him with something and practice your puns,>" Whisp suggested, her tone making it utterly impossible to tell whether she was being serious or not (though the fact that it might make Devin happy rather increased the chances of her being serious).

Kawasaki grinned, picking up a length of wood from a nearby workbench and waving it menacingly. "<I hope he doesn't enjoy it too much. I mean, you wouldn't want to get wood at a time like this...>"

Yakashima rolled her eyes and sighed. "<Terrible. And do you even understand how boys work?>"

Whisp just looked predictably confused. "<Get wood? What's that mean?>" she asked, glaring at her supposed bird house which wasn't looking anything like it was supposed to and rather wishing she could just set it on fire (that'd teach it). "<Also, it'd need to be in English, or he won't know what you're saying.>"

Kawasaki frowned. "<I don't know how to say that in English!>" She glared at Cathal, who shied away. "Make like tree and get out!"

Cathal blinked a couple of times. "LEAVE. It's 'make like a tree and LEAVE'."

"She also said something about getting wood that didn't make sense," Whisp 'helpfully' provided, still shooting the occasional glare at her bird house.

Cathal rolled his eyes, reaching out to grab the wood as Kawasaki swung it at him, before tugging it neatly out of her grip. "Give me that, I'm not going to hurt anyone, but I will if you keep swinging that around..."

Devin's eyes narrowed on Cathal. "No, you won't. Your life is already in my hands." He threatened in a voice that made it clear he wasn't joking.

Moments later Low Vis appeared behind Cathal with a blade held to the back of the boy's neck. "Greetings, Crossdresser."

"Now. What do you want with Lucius?" Devin asked impatiently.

Whisp, meanwhile, appeared to be seriously considering taking a hammer to her supposed bird house.

Cathal rolled his eyes. How many times did he have to explain this to people? "He's my grandfather. I'm meant to be looking for him. And get your damn metal dog off; it's rude to pull knives on people."

"Don't care what's rude or not. People answer faster under pressure."

"Low Vis." Warned Devin.

Low Vis returned the blade to it's sheath on his hip before vanishing. "I'll be watching." He said as he did so.

"Check the principal's office... And wear proper clothing. " Devin said, eager for Cathal to be gone.

"It might be funnier if he doesn't," Whisp rather absently pointed out, before resorting to something dangerously close to a whine as she demanded help. "Deeeeeev." Because clearly nothing else should be necessary to establish that he needed to fix her bird house before she took a hammer to it. It was beating her, and that was clearly unacceptable.

Cathal cried out in surprise as the wood slipped from his hands. He looked around to be confronted by an entirely-too-familiar catboy.

'Who's this?' Lucius grabbed Cathal by the arm, picking him up for closer examination.

"Your grandson," Whisp once again provided, ever so helpfully.

"A pest." Devin added shortly after Whisp.

Lucius blinked. 'I donnae ha' a grandson, lass. I donnae even ha' kids.'

Cathal squirmed around, struggling to get at his wallet. "You do, and you do! Pumme down and I'll explain!"

Yakashima looked up at Lucius. "<There is quite the resemblance, actually...>"

Kawasaki nodded enthusiastically. "<Although he doesn't have kitty ears. What's up with that?>"

Lucius released Cathal, dropping him onto seemingly nothing a foot off the ground. 'Ye have one minute, laddie, afore I run yer goolies 'cross the bandsaw.'

Cathal paled, scrambling for his wallet. "Y-you had a girlfriend back in the 1980s, but left her in London when you jetted off to Miami. You said you were going to get back but-but-but you never did..." He tugged his wallet out, hastily unfolding it to present Lucius with the picture. "Th-this was the last picture she had of you..."

Lucius examined the picture, wincing slightly. 'Ahh, the 80s. A time fer excess, loud music, an' ridiculous hair.' He sighed wistfully, before unfolding the picture and examining it. 'Tha's Jessie. I remember her... I tried tae get back, but grunge happened an' I couldnae get enough gigs tae pay fer my hotel rooms, let alone a ticket back tae Britain...' He sighed, ears drooping slightly. 'Always meant tae get back tae her, but she'd vanished by the time I got back over there. No forwarding address, nothin'.'

Cathal rubbed his shoulder some more, wincing. "She thought you'd left her on purpose. Then the Irish blew up the building while she was giving birth to the daughter you left her with, so she got moved by the council." He recited, as if he'd been told it a thousand times. "That was Amanda, my mother."

Lucius looked at the picture again, lips moving as he did maths in his head. 'How old are ye, laddie?'

Cathal's eyes widened. "18. Honest."

Lucius raised an eyebrow, a kitty ear following in kind. 'No, y'aint, lad. Nae 'less yer mother gave birth 'fore she was 16.'

Cathal pouted. "I have ID..."

Lucius snagged the wallet, leafing through it. 'Ye're not DarkTan. Tha's fake. License has a C in it. One R in passport...' Lucius tugged a card from the wallet, staring at it dubiously. 'An' tha's mine. 20 years expired, but still.' He pocketed the card, dropping Cathal the rest of the way to the floor before tossing his wallet (bereft of fake and stolen IDs) back to him. 'Get yer clothes back an' head tae my office, lad. I have a class tae teach.'

Cathal nodded, scrambling to his feet and scampering off.

Lucius then looked to Whisp, reaching over and gently taking the hammer out of her hand. 'Nae, lass. Tha's somethin' only fire can fix now.'

Her disgust over having been bested by a bunch of wood was quickly replaced by glee at the prospect of getting to set something on fire at school, especially after being repeatedly told by the other girls that setting fire to things wasn't the answer.

Lucius chuckled softly. 'But nae in the workshop, lass. Sawdust likes tae explode, an' I jus' grew my eyebrows back after las' weeks disaster with yer cookies.'

This, of course, was met by a bit of a sulk from the teen girl, who was very definitely lacking in patience.

Lucius patted her shoulder gently. 'Fer now, learn from your mistakes, lass. Try again, an' I'll see where ye went wrong.'

"Perhaps this time we could actually measure the wood. It takes more time, but offers better results." Devin advised before continuing to build a separate, much more elaborate birdhouse In accordance with a set of blueprints that he had sketched up. His left eye turning a digital green as he worked.

Lucius nodded. 'Aye. Measure twice, cut once, as they sayin' goes.' He pointed up at the wall, where it was painted in big, red letters. He turned to Devin's project, looking between the plans and the birdhouse. 'Ye, on th'other hand, could teach this class, lad."

"I could probably teach most every class this school has to offer." Devin stated in a 'matter-of-fact tone. "Part of being a genius." He said, before realizing that that probably sounded arrogant. "Not that you don't do a good job." He said in an attempt to clarify.

Lucius nodded. 'Ye could, but ye're lacking social skills, which is what ye're here tae learn. At least, according tae yer mam. Plus, ye're minding Whisp...' He trailed off as he caught movement in the corner of his eye, and moved quickly to stop Kawasaki from slicing her fingers off with the bandsaw. '<Use the guard, Kawasaki-san.>'

"Social skills are overrated, but I suppose someone needs to assist Whisp when she needs it." Devin responded as he took a pen drill and began carving decorative details around the entryway.

"I don't need help--" Whisp started to object, only to suddenly end up positively beaming as a thought occured to her and she said instead, "I don't need help growing up, I drink milk." Rather gleefully stolen from RWBY, of course.

Lucius rolled his eyes as he returned. 'Ye do, lass. Yer birdhouse allows birds in, but nae out again. The roof leaks, the floor doesnae drain, an' it'd fall off the pole if a bird ever dared tae land between the spikes. Accept help, an' ye'll learn.'

"Well... well, maybe I meant for it to do that," the teen girl rather stubbornly informed, though the faint blush colouring her cheeks suggested otherwise.

Lucius chuckled softly. 'Birdhouse, lass. Nae bird-trap. Now, do ye want tae make a house fer yer zombie falcon, or nae?' He grinned. 'Donnae try an' explain tha', I've seen it lurking outside o' the gates fer ye.'

Whisp slumped a bit in defeat. "Yes," she admitted.

Lucius reached out, patting her on the shoulder gently. 'Alright. We'll start afresh; we can burn the abomination later.' He turned to Devin, ears cocked questioningly. 'Devin, ye said ye could teach this class, an' ye're nearly done with yer birdhouse ahead of time. Make sure nobody gets hurt while I help Whisp?'

"Aye." Devin said as he rose from his seat to walk around the class and offer helpful advice, occasionally leaning away from the occasional hand trying to make it's way to his ears.

Lucius nodded, and turned back to Whisp. 'So, lass. How big is the bird the house is fer?'

Whisp promptly held out her hands in an approximation of Fred's size, revealing her own attempt to also have ended up too small for him; she was still looking rather decidedly embarrassed by her failure, but she hadn't disappeared to hide in the bathroom yet, so that was a step up.

Lucius nodded, retrieving a chunk of wood a bit larger than the indicated size. 'Alright. Something a bit bigger will do fer a baseboard, as the walls have tae sit on something.' He set it on a workbench, and produced a large sheet of paper from a rack nearby. 'Now, we need tae draw out everythin' first, so ye donnae lose track o' what's going on wi' it. Wi' me so far, lass?'

She nodded; apparently it was going to take some time before she found her voice through the embarrassment again.

Lucius grinned, quickly sketching out a basic birdhouse in the classic three-view method, adding notes in slightly wonky handwriting for dimensions and materials. 'Tha's a basic birdhouse. Anythin' ye want tae add tae it, tae make yer bird more comfortable?'

It took some effort for her to find her voice, but Whisp did finally manage to explain, "It should look cooler, like the Manor. And maybe have a sorta fountain in the front that works as a water dish."

Lucius nodded, his tongue sticking out the side of his mouth as he added to the design, the crispness and straightness of the lines in stark contrast to the handwriting. 'There. Anythin' else?'

"...A bird perched on top of the fountain?" she asked, more than a little hopefully.

Lucius nodded, adding a crude representation of a bird, and labeling it as such. 'There. Now we can get tae the fun part.'

Whisp looked decidedly skeptical at that - fighting with a bunch of wood was not what she considered fun, as her single raised eyebrow suggested.

Lucius grinned. 'I'll help ye with that, lass. Ye do as I guide ye, an' it'll turn out.'

Of course, this merely increased her skepticism, but she was game to try at least.

Lucius winked at her as he collected pieces of wood, using a tape measure to check their dimensions against the drawing. After collecting them, he used a pencil to draw guidelines on the wood. 'This is the main part ye missed, lass. Measure afore ye cut.' He grinned. 'Now, time fer a montage.'

---

'Y'see lass, when ye need tae get fair good fair quick, ye need a montage. Y'ken?' Lucius grinned, patting the birdhouse gently. Said birdhouse was in the shape of the Manor, if the Manor was birdhouse-shaped. An oversized fountain in the front held a water dish, with a small bird perched atop it.

Whisp, of course, was looking positively delighted and more than a little proud of her great improvement, even if she hadn't managed to do it all herself. Plus, she still got to burn the first attempt later. "Can I paint it now?" she wanted to know.

Lucius nodded. 'Aye, lass. Carefully, since the glue's still drying, buy aye, y'can.' He smiled proudly; she'd managed to do a surprising amount herself, especially for a Mihoist.

Smiling in a way that actually didn't have people worrying about what she was planning to do next, the teen girl proceeded to set up the paints and brushes she would need; a few minutes into her new work, and she could also be heard absently humming a Babymetal song under her breath.

Lucius grinned, nodding to Devin to keep an eye on things, and slipped out to head to his office to interrogate Cathal.

---

'So, laddie. Ye came all the way tae Tokyo just tae find me, an' got stuck in the manor for HOW long?'

Cathal sighed. "A few months, I think. It's hard to tell in there, and harder still to get out."

'Aye. Tha's why I ne'er go near th'place.' Lucius nodded.

"And there was this creepy goth chick with wings there. Threatened me when I watched her in the bath, but she said I looked like you and told me how to get out... Do you know her?" Cathal enquired.

Lucius nodded, grinning. 'Aye, tha's Saeko. Donnae approach her, laddie. She's dangerous an' wicked. Sexy, but dangerous.'

Cathal nodded in agreement. "I can see that. So... How did you go from fronting a hair metal band to..." He waved vaguely at the door. "To a headteacher. I mean, isn't that exactly the opposite of fighting The Man?"

Lucius shook his head. 'Nae, laddie. See, The Man is trying tae shut down the factions around here, an' suppress anythin' magical or unusual. Tha'd include my students here.'

Cathal's brow furrowed. "Japanese schoolgirls?"

Lucius shook his head. 'Magical girls, laddie. Fighting for love and justice an' suchlike.'

Cathal gave him a skeptical look. "Magical girls. Really."

Lucius grinned. 'Lad, ye've been threatened by a winged lass, an' confined in a manor with ever-changing rooms fer months. Ye've supposedly hung out wi' Whisp, who's a necromancer. An' ye're questioning magical girls?'

Cathal shrugged. "Gotta draw the line SOMEplace. And magical powers are that place."

Lucius rolled his eyes. 'Ye canne go disbelievin' things because they're magical. Besides.' He grinned as the seat Cathal was sat on rose into the air slowly.

Cathal gave a start, clinging to the chair as it rose under him. "Don't tell me you're magical, as well as a cat... Come to think of it, grandma never said anything about cat ears. Or a tail. What IS up with those?"

Lucius sighed. 'Someone experimented on me. Word of advice, laddie; when someone asks ye tae test somethin' by drinkin' it? Donnae do it.' He released the chair, letting it drop back to the ground and dump Cathal to the floor.

Cathal rubbbed his backside, frowning. "Okay, that hurt. Another experiment?"

Lucius shook his head. 'All natural, laddie. Anyway, time for ye tae answer queries, y'ken?'

"Um. Yes?" Cathal shrugged. He REALLY didn't understand that accent.

'What happened tae yer granny, lad? Las' I saw o' her, I left the braw wee lassie at the airport, an promised tae come back soon as the tour finished.' Lucius nudged the chair upright, and settled in his plush office chair at his desk.

"Uh." Cathal's brow furrowed as he attempted to translate in his head. "Well, she went back home for a while, until you were due back. Then she realised she was pregnant, thanks to you, and had to try and sort out her life while waiting for you to come back." He sighed. "She never got over that, you know. Never stopped waiting for you. Everyone else assumed you'd died in a bus crash, or just met another girl over in America, or just dodged her on the way back."

Lucius leaned back, sighing. 'It was nae my choice, lad. Halfway through the tour, grunge happened. The glam scene fell apart practically overnight. After a few empty an' near-empty gigs, the venues started tae charge us fer lost revenue. We couldnae reinvent our sound tae be trendy; tha'd be nae metal, y'ken? Anyway, wi' that, we could barely make enough from gigs an' merchandise tae eat, let alone get tickets back home. After a while o' tha', the band split. Couldnae handle the pressure o' bein' outta date. I moved tae New York, tried tae find a job an' do the superhero thing, but it was the age o' the antihero. Even Spiderman were wearin' black an' bein' a jerk tae people. I fell in wi' another group o' heroes, tried tae use The Offenders as a cover fer the heroin'; band by day, heroes by night. Didnae work out tae well; SHIELD didnae look kindly 'pon freelance heroics, an' didnae give us any government fundin'. 'Specially wi' me bein' an illegal alien, an' the rest o' the team bein' an actual alien, an alien robot, an' some Superman lookalike.'

Cathal rolled his eyes. "And something put THEM out of business as well, huh?"

Lucius shook his head. 'Nae, lad. They died. Or rather, the alien an' the Superman guy did. Government goons got 'em. The bot may as well be; I didnae have the skills tae put him back together right, an' had tae hand him off tae someone. After that, I went freelance fer a few years; roamin' the US, rightin' wrongs, doin' good, an' doin' less savoury things fer Skorp whenever he had something that wasnae contract killings, or needed force he couldnae apply tae it. That dried up after he moved tae Tokyo, though; got a position w' the FGTL, an' only handed me the odd job here an' there. Then I blew up an oil refinery tryin' tae get a vampire I'd chased there, an' had tae flee tae Tokyo myself; Skorp'd offered me a job here if I needed it, an' I needed it then.'

"I'm seeing a pattern here." Cathal remarked. "You settle somewhere for a while, then everything goes wrong and you wander off again, leaving behind broken hearts and destroyed buildings."

Lucius nodded. 'Aye. 'Tis the curse of the immortal; everythin' ye love dies on ye.'

"So, how old ARE you? Really?" Cathal interrupted.

Lucius chuckled. 'About fifty, lad.'

"Not very old, for an immortal." Cathal raised an eyebrow. "And yet, still with the 'everythin' ye love dies' crap?"

Lucius shrugged. 'It happens. Anyway. I was wi' the Largoists fer a while, 'til the demon invasion an' Arella dyin'. Then I had tae go find Skorp, as I owed him. Then, he helped set this place up, an' I've been workin' here since.' He grinned proudly, patting his desk. 'Somethin; I built an' ran, an' it's still in one piece.'

"Astonishing, considering your habit of destroying things. No wonder the USA wouldn't let me in after I mentioned you. Claimed you were a wanted terrorist or something, and 'in the employ of a rogue state'."

Lucius laughed. 'A 'rogue state', huh? Sounds like Skorp tae me. Anyway, I'm here now. How's ye grandmam doin' these days?'

Cathal sighed. "Living in a council flat with a few cats. Still waiting for her knight in shining armour to return. Still talking about the 80s to anyone who'll listen. Write her a letter, or call her, or something, man. Let her know you're still alive! Even if you moved on, SHE hasn't, and you owe her that much!"

Lucius held up a hand. 'Whoa, laddie, cool yerself. Chill. I'll send her a letter when I've got time tae write one. In the meantime, ye were stayin' at the Manor, aye?'

Cathal nodded. "Ay... Yes. I WAS. Now, I don't know."

Lucius chuckled. 'Ah, like when I was a wee laddie. I'll set ye up with a room here; ye can stay wi' the boarding students, an' attend some classes. When summer comes, ye're goin' home.'

"Why?" Cathal stood up, leaning over on the desk. "There's nothing FOR me there. I grew up on a council estate. Crappy education, no jobs around, no hope of getting out. Here... Maybe I can DO something. Make a difference. Or at least live better. Y'ken?"

Lucius nodded. 'Aye, I ken, laddie. I'll see what I kin do. Maybe get ye a job wi' Skorp, or on the Railroad somewhere."

Just then there was a gentle knocking at the door, followed by said door opening to reveal a young woman dressed in a flattering white blouse and exceedingly girly pink skirt (not to mention an adorable pair of platform sandals), distracted by a file she was carrying.

"Lucius, if you're napping again, I swear... Oh." Arella stopped short at the sight of Lucius wide awake and talking to... a mini Lucius. "Oh God, what'd Skorp do this time? He isn't making clones, is he?"

Lucius looked around, and sighed. 'Nae, lass. Believe it or nae, he's my grandson. Nae cloning here... Yet, at least. Donnae know what the madman is plannin' next.'

Cathal looked around as well, and blushing as he caught sight of Arella. "Um..."

Lucius chuckled. 'Tha'd be Arella, laddie. Aye, the one I told ye about that died.'

Cathal shifted in his seat, blush deepening. "But..."

'She wasnae dead after all. I was gonnae get tae that part, but ye interrupted.' Lucius rolled his eyes, and turned back to Arella. 'What ye after, lass.'

"Well, mostly I wanted to make sure you didn't sleep through your next class, but I also needed you to sign... Hang on." Lucius' words had finally filtered through her distraction. "Since when do you have a grandson?"

Lucius looked at the array of fake IDs in his hand. 'About sixteen years ago, I ken. Or twenty if ye look at these. Or eighteen, or however old DarkTan is.' He offered the sheaf to Arella, not noticing as his own ID slipped from his pocket and into Cathal's.

A quick look at the fake and stolen IDs, of course, earned Cathal a glare from the (not really) ex-magical girl. "Tell me the truth, young man - how old are you, really?"

Cathal looked up at her, before looking down at his feet and mumbling. "Eighteen..."

Arella's glare continued, though she now had both hands on her hips. "Look me in the eye and say that."

Cathal looked up, blushing again as he felt the full force of her glare. "E-Eighteen... 's on the passport..."

Lucius rolled his eyes. 'I know the Civil Service is incompetent, laddie, but they wouldnae spell 'passport' wrong.'

Arella let out a soft sigh - of course her approach wasn't helping, not with a teenager. Losing the glare, she took a seat next to the boy and instead looked at him with all the sincerity of a magical girl. "Please be honest, how old are you really?" she requested kindly.

Cathal squirmed in his seat. 'S-sixteen...'

This earned him a small but geniune smile. "Thank you. And what's your name?" Since Lucius clearly wasn't about to remember that part of etiquette.

"C-Cathal. Cathal Jones." He extended a hand nervously, unused to the force of magical cute before him.

"Pleased to meet you, Cathal," was her quick reply, as she accepted his hand for a shake. "I'm Arella Silverstone, and I teach here." Arella's grin suddenly became almost blindingly brilliant, as it did every time she got to say the next bit (because Harry Potter). "I'm also Deputy Headmistress." A title which also very nearly had her giggling with glee. "Will you be staying here in Japan for a while?"

Cathal nodded. "Y-yes... I hope so, anyway. I mean, I'm in on a Mario Kart visa, so that doesn't expire for a while, even though I was stuck in the Manor for a few months. Lucius says he'll try and put me in boarding here, and try to get me enrolled in classes or find a job somewhere, with that Skorp guy possibly. Although he doesn't sound that nice to work for if he turns people into cats or clones them..." He trailed off, realising he was babbling, and looked back to his feet, blushing again.

"Well, if you're sixteen, I certainly hope we'll be seeing you in classes," Arella said rather casually (though the look she shot Lucius was anything but, and clearly said be would be in Very Big Trouble if he wasn't). She also couldn't help but seek confirmation for a growing suspicion. "Is this the first time you've met your grandfather?"

Cathal nodded. "Yes... I came to Tokyo to find him..."

This time, the look she shot Lucius very clearly said explain yourself, OR ELSE.

Lucius wilted slightly under the force of her Glare. 'Lass, I didnae know I even had a bairn, let alone a grandson. Apparently, his grandmam is a girl I knew way back in the 90s, when I was wi' The Offenders.'

Cathal nodded. "He left her pregnant with my mother, promised to come back to her, but never turned up."

Lucius looked between the two, sighing at the sudden betrayal. 'Och, aye, side wi' the magical girl. I didnae know she was pregnant, an' I TRIED tae get back, I really did. I loved her; I didnae want tae abandon her like tha'. I just couldnae get work tae get the money tae get back there, what wi' the whole grunge thing showing up overnight an' taking the fans...'

"And you never thought to try phoning the poor girl? Or writing her a letter to explain, and make sure she was alright?" Both Arella's eyebrows had gone up in a clear warning that he was in Trouble.

Lucius sighed again. 'Lass, I was broke. DEAD broke, barely able tae afford tae eat. An' back then, international phone calls were costly. That, an' she didnae give me an address tae write tae, or a number. I tried tae find her when they invented the internet, but that didnae help. An' I didnae want Skorp tae know she existed, let alone find the poor lass.' He pointed up at his kitty ears, flicking one for emphasis as his tail lashed anxiously behind him. 'Considerin' I were his friend when he did this, d'ye blame me fer hidin' her from him?'

Arella pointed a finger at Lucius in warning. "You are still in Very Big Trouble, mister, and we will be talking about this again later. But I also have a class to teach in ten minutes, and still need you to sign this," at this, he was presented with the paper she'd been looking over upon entering. "I caught one of the girls cheating in her last test, and this is for her parents. Cathal, would you like to come sit in on a class to see what it's like?"

Cathal nodded quickly, hopping out of his seat. After a couple of seconds, he shuffled behind the desk. "Um. In a bit?"

Lucius sighed, signing the paper with a pen produced from his jacket. 'Trouble ken wait. I have a flight class tae teach, an' I'm due at the club the night.'

"And I've got... other work tonight. And a date," Arella admitted, something in her expression suggesting that she wasn't entirely sure how she was going to manage both, but damned if she wasn't going to try.

Lucius shrugged. 'Cannae be helped, lass. Busy busy, aye?'

Cathal nodded, stepping out from behind the desk. "Which class am I going to?"

"Music," was Arella's cheerful response, as she reclaimed the paper from Lucius and proceeded to lead the way.

Cathal blushed again, before following after her like he was on a leash, eyes fixed firmly on her behind.

---

Summary:
Cathal is lost in the manor, but manages to find Saeko bathing.
Who recognises him as related to Lucius.
He explains things, and she exposes herself to him.
Negotiations. Saeko isn't swayed by trying to mess with Lucius, or itching powder.
Boob squish!
Negotiations finalised: Information on Lucius, in exchange for DarkTan's ID cards for the CATastrophe club.
And he gets out of the manor into the bargain, without having to scrub Saeko's back.

The hell is a magical girl anyway? Can't be worse than London traffic...

'Research' in an internet cafe. Followed by bad parking, and breaking and entering.
Then theft of clothing for a disguise.

Magical girl chattering. Or, at least, Kawasaki talking Whispy-chan's ear off.
Yes, Whispy-chan.
Cathal makes a terrible schoolgirl, and is spotted. And he's also bad at skirts and floppy socks, so Yakashima is able to capture him.
Whisp doesn't recognise him, and has to have her memory jogged a bit. Or a lot.
Devin decides who Cathal is.
Beatings while practicing puns? Sure, why not.
Cathal is forced at knifepoint to explain himself. And slips into colloquialisms.

Lucius spots trouble, and steps in.
Cathal tries to explain himself before his arm is torn off.
And then Lucius remembers. Followed by going through Cathal's wallet.
Cathal is sent off to Lucius' office.

Whisp is TERRIBLE at carpentry. Only fire can save her birdhouse now. NOT INDOORS.
Measure twice, cut once. And don't design it so it kills the birds.
Devin is put in charge of the class while Lucius teaches Whisp how to do wood.

MONTAGE!
Montage!
MONTAAGE!
Birdhouse!
Lucius heads off to his office.

Cathal is questioned some more, and things are explained. Things like the city, and what Lucius has been doing since Cathal's grandmother was abandoned.
Cathal doesn't believe in magic. Despite his own telekinesis. And the undead birds. And Whisp.
Lucius demonstrates some.
BACKSTORY
Maybe Cathal can get a job at the FGTL, or enroll in the Academy?

Arella wanders in for nap enforcement. Cathal has similar tastes in women as his grandfather. @_@
Explaining again.
The Magical Cute is turned on Cathal, and he confesses his real age.
Then the Glare is turned on Lucius, who explains himself. Again.
Arella takes Cathal off to a class; shouting at Lucius can wait.
Teenage male gaze. @_@
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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Oblivion

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Posts: 51

Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 10:46 pm

Post Sat Dec 20, 2014 7:06 pm

World Domination for Beginners

Location: FGTL HQ
Characters: Skorp, Devin.
Authors: Skorpy, Oblivion
Timestamp: Sometime.


Skorpion leaned back, sighing. "Didn't I used to have a secretary to do half of this crap? I swear I remember having one..."

He set the tablet down, tilting his seat back and stretching, his armour groaning a little as the power assist caught up with his movements. "This sucks. I want to get back to shooting people..."

He was cut off by a beep from the tablet screen, which was followed by a similar beep from the phone next to it. Then from the stack of tablets on the corner of the desk, the monitor hooked up in the corner, and an intrusion warning flashing across his vision. After a few seconds of shutting himself off from the network, Skorpion relaxed. Then he looked to the tablet.

The screen was black for a moment before Devin's face appeared. "Greetings Skorpion. I have a business proposition for you, and I see that you have no meetings lined up. You should be receiving a notification from Mary that I have arrived within the minute... And do stop attempting to hack my systems. It's mildly inconvenient." And with that, the screen went black before the network began to act normally again.

"I refuse to stop, just on principle." Skorpion grumbled, pulling a big knife switch on the wall down before heading out to reception.

Devin walked through the double doors at entrance to the lobby and eyed the interior of the room before claiming a seat to await Skorpion's arrival without so much as uttering a word.

Mary gave him a look as he walked in, and shrugged. "I take it you're one of Alexis' siblings, yes?" She paused, waiting for a reply. When one wasn't forthcoming, she carried on regardless. "From the kitty ears, I'm guessing you're Devin? How's school going? Do you want a cookie?" Another pause. "I take it he already knows you're here, then. By the way, he really doesn't like hacking attempts, so he's probably..." She trailed off as Skorpion walked in, looking irritated. "Hi, boss! Cookie?"

Skorpion nodded to her, taking a cookie from the plate before turning to Devin. "You know, hacking someone is not a good way to get them to cut a deal with you."

"Likewise." Was Devin's short response before standing. "Though I succeeded in gaining attention."

"A phone call or E-mail would have worked as well, and I wouldn't have had to cut off outside network access because of it." Skorpion pointed out, before rolling his eyes. Mihoists. "You're spending too much time around Saeko. And don't tell me she isn't there; it's the damn Manor. She can't stay away." Skorpion set off for his office, motioning for Devin to follow, which he did.

"Please don't compare me to her, or him depending." Devin said with a shrug. "Regardless, I hacked you due to a personal vendetta, and I must say. Your network is just as easy as it was a few years back."

"A few... That was YOU, was it?" Skorpion grinned. "That was deliberate. Feeding you false information and dummy servers, so I could backtrace the connection. How do you think all that leaked information got to that low-level flunky to be handed out on the internet?" He waggled his eyebrows, before snapping his fingers. Half a second later, there was a loud scream from down the corridor, punctuated with buzzing electricity. "This time, you caught the network admin napping. Good thing I had his chair modified, really."

"And last time I learned that you can't actually launch your nukes. I kept it a secret from Maxamillion (BGR Director)." Devin said, his tail giving an amused sway at the sound of electricity.

Skorpion scoffed. "True. At the time, I couldn't. Nowadays? I could, if I wanted to. Picked up a few of those new road-mobile launch systems from Russia. Great things; haul a missile over hill and dale, satellite uplink for launch data, erect and launch it without leaving the vehicle, and just drive off again." He stopped in front of a door, looking up at the sensor dubiously. As the door failed to open, he waved his hand at the sensor, and sighed, reaching up to scrape away the coating of paint over the lens of the sensor until the door opened. "Damn paranoids. Anyway, those systems are great. Such a shame to waste them on something you'll never use anyway." He stepped through the door and into a lift, jabbing a button. "So they're deployed in South America, tossing payloads out over the south Atlantic, and earning money while the warheads sit nice and safe here."

"It is the point of nuclear deturrent to not use it, but to have it on hand to prevent others from using it." Devin said, knowing full well that Skorpion was aware of this. "Though speaking of the war machine, I've recently come into possession of my own military grade manufacturing company."

Skorpion raised an eyebrow. "Is that so? That WOULD explain the change in corporate espionage lately. I'm guessing something complicated and electronic, maybe robotics or drone technology?"

"Drones, robotics, AI, androids, firearms, counter-firearms, and a handy little device that suppresses most of the human nervous system." Devin listed off as though such things were trivial. "The problem is, I'm a work force of one. Which is why I come offering an under-the-table alliance. We work together to create new technology, and sell off whatever's five or six generations behind."

Skorpion nodded as the lift slowed to a halt, stepping out into the corridor seemingly the same as the one they'd exited. "So, you want to use my manufacturing system and workforce to produce your products, and get a leg-up with the mechanical things we specialize in here, in exchange for selling sand to the arabs, to coin a phrase."

"In exchange for the products themselves. I have little need for money.. Well, earned money, so I am fine with allowing Sealand to keep sixty percent of all profits. Though that is on one condition. You take me with you when you murder Maximillion. I want to hear him scream." Devin said with angry undertones. "Unless you have a different price."

Skorpion nodded. "Alright, but that may be a long time away. I'm not about to invade the continental US again. Not when he's probably hiding under Cheyenne Mountain, ready to flee through the Stargate should he get wind of me coming for him. Not this soon after losing half my force to demons. Also, eighty percent, and you get to pull the trigger. Did he sign your bones as well?"

"Seventy five and I'll make you your own personal robotic assault canine that I will keep up-to-date at no charge, and you still let me pull the trigger... And yes, he did." Devin said, the rage visible under his emotionless exterior.

Skorpion nodded. "Deal." He extended a hand as they reached his office door. "Although I'd prefer it be a feline. Never was much of a dog person; Alexis aside. And yes, I can see you lurking there." He flipped up the cover of an air vent with his other hand, reaching in to pet the cat lurking inside it. "Good cat. Now get back to work."

"So be it." Devin accepted the hand giving it a firm shake. "How big would you like it, how advanced would you like it's AI, and what kind of equipment?"

"About panther-sized, somewhere between 'independent being' and 'skynet', and stealthy armed recon." Skorpion replied, retrieving his hand from the vent and opening his office door. "Let's get this formalized on paper, then we can tour the facilities you'll be making use of." He stepped inside, picking up his trench coat from the coat rack by the door, and grabbing a tablet from the table.

"Letting you know, if someone other than me kills him, you owe me fifteen percent of my company back." Devin said, taking mental notes of Skorpion's request.

Skorpion nodded. "If it comes down to it, you can push the button to authorise the airstrike. My priority is, HAS to be taking him down and stopping him making more super-soldiers. Every time he runs through a project, he gets closer and closer to something viable. You were only freed, rather than a project failure, after all." He entered the details into the tablet, before handing it to Devin. "Check and sign, if you will. There's a stylus on the underside."

"I was a success, I just didn't let them know." Devin corrected as he read over the contract and signed. "Now then, the tour?"

Skorpion nodded. "The tour. First, meet my nuke. I used to have two, but I used the other to close a portal. There might be more in the basement somewhere, but there's also a few containers of anthrax down there." He grinned. "You know how they couldn't find Saddam's WMDs in Iraq? I tipped him off, bought the lot at a knock-down price, shipped it out ahead of the weapons inspectors." He stepped out the office, leading the way down a corridor. "Now, this way is the materials storage area. We import ores from the South American operation, and store them down here, to be combined with scrap metals for processing."

Devin looked to the nuke with half interest before following Skorpion. "I reserve the right to continue personal projects." He informed as they walked through the hall. Glaring at passers-by with distrust.

Skorpion nodded. "Tinkering is an important part of discovering new technology. After all, that's how I created the..." He was cut off by a *CL4NG* from outside, resonating through the building even underground. "The coffeemaker, as well." He led Devin onto a walkway over storage bins full of ores, most of them empty. "We're a little low at the moment because some asshole sank the ship with the last shipment on it. Still waiting on the insurance payout, and hoping they don't declare it an act of war as an excuse to not pay out."

"Perhaps a deep sea salvage craft in in order. There is a lot of recyclable scrap at the bottom of the sea." Devin said, making a mental note of a few designs that came into his head as he made the suggestion.

Skorpion nodded. "Indeed. Unfortunately, the only one currently in service is still 'performing important scientific research' in the Berents Sea, suspiciously close to a drowned Russian submarine. And it's operated by the CIA, to boot, so it's unlikely THOSE assholes are going to dredge the South China Sea for iron and copper ore, and half the military hardware in South America." He sighed. "Probably going to have to raid Arizona again to replace the jets. Anyway!" He pointed to the ceiling, where augers were moving the ore upwards. "Through there is t'mill. Magnetic induction furnace; efficient AND runs off electricity instead of requiring a gas line."

"When denied, create your own. If you let others hinder your progress you'll never go as far as you desire. I'll make unencoded blueprints for our own sub. By the time I'm done here you'll be buying Russian fighters solely for the sake of collecting them." Devin said as his demeanor changed to that of a business man.

Skorpion nodded. "That was the plan, originally, but the minor issue of a demon invasion required me to go for speed rather than independence. Otherwise, the main issue is getting hold of enough titanium, and the best source of THAT is soviet-era fighter jets. And aluminium is far cheaper to recycle than mine fresh, which leads us onto the next room." He stepped onto a platform, pushing the large button marked 'up', and gesturing outwards as they passed through to the floor above, which was full of piles of scrap metal. Among the piles, small trucks and overall-clad figures scurried to and fro, sorting larger, intact object from them. "The detritus of sixty years of brinksmanship. Fallen rocket stages, worn-out aircraft, cars that were too big, too inefficient, or just too last decade to continue in use. We even have people mining landfills in the US, just to send us a few extra tons of metal on every shipment." He grinned proudly. "When denied, innovate. Adapt. Overcome. Then remind them that they were better off just giving in to you in the first place."

"Indeed. Nothing satisfies me more than seeing the expression of soul crushing defeat on the faces of those who underestimate me." Devin said with a grin that looked completely unnatural. "Regardless, this will do quite nicely."

Skorpion chuckled. "I prefer the expression in their eyes just after you smack the soul-crushing defeat out of them, or the sputtering rage when they realise just what you did. I didn't get The Bomb just to threaten people, after all. I got it so I could swagger around the UN like I owned the place, and remind big countries that my economy's growing far faster than theirs."

"Someone needs to let the world know that we 'freaks' are not a force to be reckoned with, and you do well at keeping that message clear." Devin said as he moved his hands to his pockets. "Humans are so forgetful."

Skorpion nodded. "They tend to be. They create people like us, and then decide they don't want us around when we're done killing for them." The platform continued up, to where piles of scrap metal and iron ore were being loaded into a vast bucket full of semi-molten metal. "Then they turn around and create more when they start another war they can't bear to finish themselves. It's not even a modern thing; they've been doing it back since WW2 at least. Tracking down people with immortal blood to lead squads behind enemy lines. Then experimenting with combat drugs and crude cybernetics." He waved dismissively. "Never once thinking to just improve what they already have. Improve training and recruitment standards, breed out weakness, and so forth. Here, that's what I try and practice. I find the best, and most talented, and I take care of them. Equipment, air support, medevac, and most importantly, food and work. An army in idle turns on it's head, and it marches on it's stomach. Anyway. Speaking of stomachs, here's the mill. Induction furnace, fed by scrap metal with fresh ore to tailor batches."

Devin watched as the furnace worked. "Perhaps AI support as well, I've already produced five units, though one was captured... And necessary I can begin working on powered armor. Surely both would enhance the suitability of your troops."

"Oh, I already have powered armour." Skorpion grinned, tapping the shoulder of his own armour. "It's just too damn heavy for mobile infantry. Weighs down the transports, stops them getting through doors, stops them fitting into cover. So you add armour plating to make up for it, crank up the power support, a bigger power plant to compensate, wheels to make up for the speed, and suddenly you may as well be using light armour instead. So I do, because small mecha are just plain bullet magnets." He rolled his eyes. "Feature creep. Although, how are you with active nanotech? I used to have a mage for that, but I think the demons got him. Your sister jacked a mech off the US Army a while back, and I think you'd have a better idea of some of the toys in it than my techs." He jabbed the button again, and the platform lurched sideways, heading for a walkway attached to the wall.

"I am fluent in nanotechnology and for the mech I suggest deployable support. A smaller unit to tend to any hard to reach targets." Devin said as he thought of places to store one. "Also yes. I do have a better idea on the equipment and systems for that mech."

"E-mail it to me. This American crap gets ungodly complex sometimes, and I have a tour to complete." Skorpion stepped off the platform as it approached the walkway, paying no heed to the long drop under the four foot gap as he stepped over it. "Anyway. Next up, we have the vehicle depot, and then the labs." Skorpion led the way through a corridor and into another lift, pushing buttons. "Also, mind the door sills. I bought up a couple of old warships and tore them down for fittings and armour plate when this place was being built, so the doors tend towards watertight and bulletproof. Expensive and tricky, but it was a great bargain for the anti-aircraft radar systems."

"Generally they ripped the name Lancer from the B-1B bomber. A widely used aircraft from around the Cold War era, but as for actual functionality and design... I may as well write a manual." Devin said with a sigh, hopping over the gap. "Custom work, I'd need to see it so I can write up some blueprints for your engineers."

Skorpion nodded. "We have it laying around in pieces in a storage room somewhere. Classified most of it, but some bits we just can't figure out. Oh, and the AI blew up whatever they plugged into it, and I'm not dumb enough to jack myself into it to smack it down. And our own AI is going through a rebellious teenage phase, and refuses to talk to the damn thing." The lift stopped, a few shell casings on the floor rising up with the suddenness, before clattering down again. Skorpion stepped out, almost directly into the side of a tank. "And here we have vehicle storage. Half of it designed and built here, the rest picked up surplus from around the world and upgraded." He smacked the side of the tank, gaining an annoyed yell from the mechanic upside-down in the engine bay. "Standard package of engine swap, new electronics and optical kit, and replacing the machineguns with a standard model, so we can just order ammunition by the containerload."

Devin examined the vehicles. "Not a bad fleet." He said approvingly. "Though I would like to meet these AI of yours at some point."

Skorpion nodded. "In good time. When he's not so damn moody, and when we've found where his EDS shell has hidden... Ah. Hold still a moment." Skorpion turned slowly, drawing a large pistol as he did so. "Don't panic or make any sudden movements. There's a ROUS eyeing your tail for a snack..."

"Snack?" Devin said, his ear twitching in frustration. "Would you kindly do me the favor of murdering it?"

Skorpion nodded. "Mind your ears, then. This is going to be loud..." He took aim, squeezing the trigger as Devin flattened his ears back. The ROUS, sensing that it'd been discovered, leaped. Skorpion fired, blowing a large hole in it and the floor beyond it, before moving forward and stomping on it as landed. After a few quiet seconds, the ROUS started frantically scrabbling to try and flee, and Skorpion stomped on it again. This continued until it stopped moving; the head under Skorpion's boot leaking onto the floor, as the other flopped limply to the floor. Skorpion removed his foot carefully, before putting another round through the ROUS' remaining head. "Damn things. Rats are bad enough, but they've been eating the WMDs for generations, and only the strongest, meanest mutants survive down there." The remains of the ROUS sizzled slightly, wisps of smoke rising up from where the blood set to work on the flooring.

"Brilliant." Devin commented as he watched the ROUS dissolve into it's own blood. "You have quite the charming collection of oddities don't you?"

Skorpion grinned. "You haven't met the troops yet. Or the techies, for that matter. Let alone the cat." He led the way through the garage, weaving between attack helicopters, tanks, trucks, armoured SUVs, muscle cars, and the occasional Harrier jet. Just before crossing the threshold into the labs, he stopped to examine a tiny sports car with an obviously extended back end. "Ah, I remember this thing. Surprised it's still intact, quite frankly." He grinned at Devin. "We can take her for a spin later. For now, lab time."

"Pass on the car." Devin said, continuing to follow Skorpion while examining the vehicles as they passed.

"Not really an option here; fastest way to show you the production facilities out at the airbase on the other side of the bay." Skorpion ducked under an anti-gravity device as it hummed overhead, dangling a stack of weights from a cargo hook. "Anyway, here are the labs. This is where the research happens, and also most of the explosions. Workshops share space with the labs, because I'm trying to cross-pollinate engineering and science." He stepped over a puddle of molten metal without breaking stride. "Mostly ballistics and metallurgy up here, but the more delicate experiments are further down, where an outbreak or an explosion won't carry as far."

Devin walked around the hover device, eyeing it suspiciously as he passed. "I don't think you can compare engineering and science to flowers." He said as he bypassed the molten metal. "Do avoid digging too deep. The dwarves made that mistake and paid the price."

Skorpion nodded. "I can and I will. Some experiments just aren't suited to be up here with the explosions and the vehicles and the aircraft landing." As if on cue, there was a shriek of jet blast from above, building up before moving rapidly from one side of the room to the other and fading away. "We ARE right below the helipad and a runway, after all."

"It's logical that you would want to keep hazards away from your assets." Devin reasoned. "It helps quell the 'epic fails' of your less intelligent staff." He said as he observed a few different portions of the room with his usual unfaltering expression of absolute disinterest.

Skorpion shrugged, sidestepping as an arrow embedded itself a few inches deep in the floor next to him. "That, and the noise disturbs the scientists. Anyway, while they're clearing this mess up, we'll head to the labs."

A short walk got them to an airlock, leading down again to another airlock. Once that opened up, Skorpion stepped out into a brightly lit white-walled corridor. "Now, if you'll come this way, I'll introduce you to our top scientist."

"I'm already well acquainted with my own mother." Devin said, assuming that Tiffaney was FGTL's top scientist. How could she not be? After all she was responsible for him being who he was.

Skorpion shrugged. "Alright, fair enough. Our second-best scientist then." He walked down the corridor, stepping around small and large craters, scorchmarks, patches of dissolved flooring, and a rather large patch of blood, counting doors as he went. When he reached thirteen, he knocked on the door, before taking cover beside it against the wall, gesturing for Devin to do the same.

Devin sighed and took cover beside Skorpion. "And what Largoist hijinks is this going to turn out to be?"

Skorpion shushed him, before reaching around and tugging the door open. There was a *clunk*, and a wave of compressed air filled the corridor with glitter, other than the space behind the door that Skorpion and Devin were taking cover in.

"Truely the epitome of brilliance..." Devin whispered with heavy sarcasm.

Skorpion nodded, stepping around the door as the dust settled, and stopping the door before it could close. "Fire the second one and I'll fire YOU."

There was an 'awww' from the room, and a diminutive figure stepped out from behind the cannon. Said figure was clad in a pink kitty-eared hat, an oversized white labcoat, and a pair of lurid pink platform boots. "<But...>"

Skorpion held up a finger. "Last time, I said that if you call me that again, I'd shoot you." His other hand tugged his coat aside, showing the array of weapons strapped to his armour and inside the coat. "I meant it. Think before you open your mouth."

"<But Skorpion-san... How else am I to mark intruders?>"

"Call you what?" Devin said as he stepped into the room to stand beside Skorpion, eyeing the hood suspiciously.

The scientist shrugged. "He said that if I said it in his presence again, he'd shoot me. And I don't want to get shot."

"Loophole, write it down." Devin suggested, his expression and tone making it impossible to tell if he has joking or not.

The name was duly scribbled on a sheet of paper and handed over to Devin.

"Oh, this. Is. Brilliant." Devin said with a smirk before pocketing the slip. "I'm keeping this."

Skorpion growled and glowered at the two. "No. No, you are not.

"I've already seen it, the paper is a momento." Devin said with his expression fading to it's usual disinterest. "Photographic memory, though I still take pictures as a hobby. I will refrain from doing so here due to potential classified experiments."

"Oh, we have ways of fixing that, now!" The scientist chirped, bouncing excitedly. "I have a flashy thingy just for that!"

Skorpion nodded. "Go get the flashy thingy."

The scientist squee-ed, scampering off and returning with a laptop. She opened it up, turned it around to face Devin, and leaned in to push a button. The screen lit up in a bright, white, room-filling flash as they did so.

As the flash went off Devin's left eye lit up in responce, fading back to it's usual bright amber as the light subsided. "Neuralyser? Cute."

Skorpion nodded, his eyes fading back to normal from the pure black they'd gone from the flash. "Ripped the code off the servers on my way out of the US military. Mostly good for pranks, since it's blocked by sunglasses and half the city seems to be immune to it.

The scientist blinked, looking at Devin curiously. "Oh, hello! Who're you? Why am I holding this laptop?" They paused, then blinked again, before turning a reproachful look on Skorpion. "You neuralysed me again!"

Skorpion grinned. "See? Comedy gold."

"I saw gold a moment ago. This would be silver." Devin said with a momentary smirk. "Anyway. We haven't been introduced. I'm Devin Greyson, one of Tiffaney Jawoh's children."

The scientist extended a sleeve, a hand just poking out of the end. "Hi, Devin! Your mother does great work. You should be proud of her!"

"Indeed." Devin said as he obseved the hand as though it was a bear trap in disguise for a moment before he returned the gesture and shook the offered hand.

The scientist giggled as Devin set off the the joybuzzer in their hand, eyes flashing with amusement.

Devin's ear and tail fur poofed up before he let go and jumped back, his eyes narrowing on the woman once he realized he'd been had. "Blasted thing!" He said as he rubbed his palm and his fur settling back down.

The scientist giggled some more. "Ah, that never gets old. You wouldn't happen to have an antidote to shrinking potions, would you? Perhaps a slice of cake?" She sighed softly. "I spilled the shrinking potion I was supposed to be analysing..."

"No and no. How much did you shrink by?" Devin asked as he pulled out his phone and tapped out a short message.

"About yay much." The scientist pointed to a nearby patch of floor, with an outline surrounded by splashes, broken glass, and puddles of unidentified liquids. "That's where the shelf laid me out when it gave way."

Devin examined the mark briefly. "You'll be fine... Probably." He said indifferently while he pocketed the phone. "If it bothers you then I would suggest seeing my mother. She's the one with medical degrees, I concern myself more with technology."

The scientist pouted. "I was hoping to avoid that. I was top scientist around here before she was hired on, and now look at me!" She waved her arms at the lab. "Bumped me into a smaller lab, took the best equipment and technicians, and even got personally collected! Nobody came and fetched ME from my previous job! I had to find my own way here. Nobody staged a terrorist attack on MY behalf.." She pouted angrily. "Not fair."

"A little workplace rivalry never hurt anyone, and at the very least I'm not a Largoist. That would put you at third." He stated as though it were nothing more than fact. "I too deplore being underestimated. It certainly puts a damper on negotiations."

The scientist turned to Devin, eyes narrowing. "YOU? You're not even a scientist! You said it yourself; you concern yourself with technology. You're an... An engineer!" She spat the word out like a curse, placing her hands on her hips and frowning at Devin. "You mess around with things, putting them together, with no thought of theory or proper scientific method! No perfection! Always asking if research is USEFUL." She snorted., adopting a mocking tone. "Useful. Practical. Aplicable!" She rolled her eyes, dropping the tone. "Knowledge is power! Even schoolchildren know that! You can't call yourself a scientist if you don't respect that! Besides, engineering is..." She was interrupted as Skorpion shifted his weight, causing his armour to *creak* meaningfully. "Not... Not that there's anything WRONG with engineering, of course... Sorry boss..." She blushed, looking to the floor nervously. "And you're a filthy Mihoist, to boot."

"Engineer, nuclear physicist, AI programmer, Theoretical physicist... The list goes on, but I hardly just 'put things together'. I plot, prepare, create, and perfect." Devin said before pausing breifly. "And if people need to ask if your research is useful, then your research obviously isn't up to par. Good research is always useful, although not always practical, if done right it will be applicable." He stated with no fluctuations in his tone. "And I know that knowledge is power more than you could imagine. After all, I've been using it to indirectly murder people since I was six. If they knew what I was capable of I'm sure I would have been forced into worse... Also, I am no factionist."

"And I've been using it to directly murder people since before you were born. Let's stop the posturing and move along, shall we?" Skorpion sighed, tapping his foot impatiently.

The scientist ignored him, grinning. "So, if you're such a great scientist, prove it. Cure me. Make something, a coffeemaker, maybe."

Skorpion raised a finger. "Nothing nuclear. We have enough trouble with the one we have."

Devin pocketed his hands, his demeanor returning to it's norm. "Tell me, do I look like a chess piece to you?"

The scientist blinked. "No, you look like a somewhat arrogant catboy..."

"If I do not resemble a game piece than what makes you think you can play me like one? I know you are baiting me... Though I suppose I am quite bored. I'll cure you." Devin said as he took a swab from a near counter to sample the potion, his left eye turning green as he examined it. "Give me fifteen minutes and access to your lab as I work."

She gestured to the lab. "Go right ahead, but don't break anything. Especially not that stand in the corner; I'm refining nitroglycerine." She turned and pointed at Skorpion. "Don't even think about asking why. Science is why."
Skorpion raised his hands, stepping away from the stand in question

"No promises." Devin said flatly before setting to work making two different potions. completing both of them within fifteen minutes and emptying one into a spray bottle. "The one in the bottle will fix you and the other is a perfect replica of the lost sample." He said before handing both of them to the scientist.

The scientist shrugged, and squirted the spray bottle on a nearby rat, turning it back into a ROUS. "Impressive. And it didn't even explode." She smirked spraying herself with the bottle, swiftly returning to her normal size.

"If you want it to I can fix it." Devin commented as he bordly examined the ROUS, his left eye returning to it's usual color.

The scientist grinned. "Oh, we have plenty of ways to explode things here. This IS the FGTL, after all."
The ROUS growled and leaped for Devin, interrupted halfway and pinned to the floor by a thrown knife. "Bad rodent. No treat for you." Skorpion sighed. "And you better not have ruined a good knife."

Devin didn't so much as flinch as the large rodent lept for him and was subsequently pinned to the floor by a knife and begin to dissolve into it's own blood. "Charming creature... I think I'll make something to dissway them from any other attempts at attacking me."


Skorpion nodded. "A deterrent would be handy. Failing that, find me more cats." He reached out as a large ginger tomcat leaped from an air vent overhead, landing on his shoulder and sitting neatly on the shoulderpad. "I have a few like this one, but they don't make enough impact., and the feline eugenics program is slow and bloody."
The cat nyowed in agreement, and set about washing itself.

Devin briefly glanced to the cat. "I wouldn't want to deprive them of their primary source of food... Perhaps I can come up with something that would benefit both of you."

Skorpion and the cat nodded. "Other than removing the WMDs. I need those, because of reasons."

"But of course. How will one force the world to it's knees without at least one." Devin commented, his tail giving a brief sway.

Skorpion nodded. "Of course. That is the backup plan, however. Plan A is to make them willingly accept metahumans as superior, and quietly consent to extinct themselves to make way."

"After the discovery of ninty-eight percent of meta-human/human offspring resulting in metas you'd think it would be clear. We are the future of the human race." Devin stated before pulling out his phone to tap out another message.

Skorpion eyed Devin's phone. "So, just who are you messaging on that thing?"

"Hm?" Devin pocketed the phone. "Ordering a few parts online for a project of mine."

"Parts?" Skorpion grinned. "Oh, we can probably just run them off for you. If you'll follow me, I'll show you the pride of Sealand; our manufacturing plant. At least, the small items and prototyping; I had to move the bulky stuff over to the airfield to free up space."
He headed for the door, leaving the scientist behind them.

"I'm currently looking to build a power cell. Nothing too advanced, though I'll be making upgrades regularly." Devin said as he followed after Skorp. The AI's been worked out, hydro systems are functional and the basic frame is complete. Just trying to sort out equipment and other such things."

"Equipment we can do here." Skorpion led the way through a short maze of corridors, and out into a room packed with small-scale automated manufacturing equipment, dominated by a forge in the center. "This is where dreams become reality. Or, at least, CAD output becomes prototypes."

"I could use this. The Manor won't let me use a room big enough for heavy machinery so I've been improvising." Devin stated as he examined the machinery.

Skorpion grinned. "This is only the small stuff. Across the way, we have an assembly line for armoured SUVs, and armour plate fabrication for larger vehicles. The whole thing's set up like a big D printer, though, so you can submit designs remotely and have it spit them out here."
He reached out as a machine *clunk*ed, neatly catching a finned barrel as it rolled out. "This is the main business of Sealand; arms manufacturing. As well as our own needs, we supply various other militaries and security services, and a significant amount of private customers, with both stock and custom orders."

"I'll be doing a lot of custom work, also that AI you stole. I need to purge the contingency for purging all life on the planet from it." Devin said as he remembered that detail.

"I'm keeping that deliberately. It's my backup for my long-term plans; build orbital habitats, and if they try and take us out, have the AI stomp them flat." Skorpion winked.

"I still don't like it. It's a risk and must be fixed." Devin stated flatly.

"Risk schmisk." Skorpion waved a hand dismissively. "It answers to me. Me, and the blocks of plastic explosive buried in it's core." He grinned, tapping his head. "I'm practically an AI myself, remember. I exist in the digital realm as well as the physical, and I still have far more computing power available than any computer system. The only thing limiting me is bandwidth."

"I don't think it will perform to full efficiency if you hold it hostage." Devin said as Johnathan passed by with a large combat hammer.

Skorpion shrugged. "True, but my usual methods of control don't work on an AI." He gestured at the passing wolfboy. "I can't bribe it with toys or food, it has no use for money, and computer programs don't need medevac. So, I resort to the carrot and the stick. The carrot being the satellite downlink, and the stick being the explosives, or simply dropping said core into the geothermal borehole under the base." He paused, ancicipating a question. "And NO, that borehole is NOT responsible for recent earthquakes. It's been there for years, and we had no issues before."

"Not my problem." Devin said indifferently. "Where is it that we are going?" He asked, having neglected remembering that detail.

"Upwards." Skorpion pointed to the ceiling. "A quick dash across the bay to the rest of the manufacturing facilities. Because, really, you can't get the whole picture without seeing them." He grinned, leading Devin up to the surface level, and out onto the courtyard.

The courtyard was littered with equipment; helicopters parked semi-randomly, with clusters of vehicles, carts, and hoses around them. Here and there lay a pallet of munitions, and a pair of Harrier jets sat at one end of a very short runway, facing a ramp out over the approach to the base. "This is where the majority of our operations in the city take place from. Mostly rotary-wing, but with the Harriers as quick-response air support. Slightly outdated these days, but there's nothing else that can take off in such a short space, and support our forces without having to fly in from across the bay." He grinned, leading Devin to a wide, low vehicle nestled between a pair of Hind gunships. "However, they're wholly impractical for moving people around, so we have to be old-fashioned and take a car. And not JUST because I'm too heavy to fly them."

"I do hope the mech will be part of this tour. I'm rather interested in it." Devin stated as he observed his surroundings for Largoist hijinks.

The hijinks happened under the guise of professional conduct. Technicians walked between spinning rotor blades, rockets were tossed hand-to-hand, juggled, and rolled across the ground, and a helicopter nearly landed on the man directing it down. This, however, was ignored by Skorpion as he worked to unlock and open the canopy of the car without tearing it from it's hinges. After a short struggle, it opened with a *hiss* of equalising pressure, revealing a pair of tandem-mounted bucket seats nestled among a spaceframe of carbon fiber and metal struts. "My latest automotive project. Someone crashed a sports car into one of the F-14s I've been rebuilding, so I combined the two." He chuckled as he settled into the front seat. "But you should see the other half of the project. Or, at least, what's left of it. Turns out, you CAN'T mount a pair of turbofans to a car. Or rather, you can, but they don't stay for long. Fun while it lasted, though."

"Brilliant, but I'd rather not enter that vehicle." Devin said as he eyed it cautiously.

"Oh, unfrizz your tail. It's perfectly safe. Besides, you ride around in the SUV your mother uses without question, and, well..." Skorpion gestured over to where an identical SUV lay on it's roof against the side of the building, being pulled upright by ropes attached to an ARV.

"Yes, but my mother is a responsible driver, and you are not." Devin clarified as he looked to the upturned SUV.

Skorpion rolled his eyes. "Your mother drives like a soccer mom, frankly. I have the reflexes to literally dodge bullets, I built the car myself, and even if something DOES hit us, this thing can take being run over by a tank. Literally, because someone backed over it last month." He pointed to the rear seat. "Just get in."

Devin rolled his eyes and sighed. "So be it." He said before sitting in the offered seat and buckling up.climbing

Skorpion grinned, slamming the canopy down and starting the engine. It ignited with a roar as he gunned the throttle, and he grinned widely. "There's handles either side of the cabin back there. I suggest you use them. Please keep your arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times." With that, he dropped the car into gear, shooting away like it had been fired from a gun.

---

Skorpion arrived at the airfield, the car stopping from nearly full speed to a dead stop in the space of a few yards, in the center of a vast but empty armoured hangar. "We have arrived."

Devin lurched forward in his seat as the vehicle came to a sudden halt. "Oh, goodie." Devin said sarcastically before unbuckling and exiting the vehicle.

Skorpion chuckled, clambering out of the driver's seat as the floor shuddered. "Just you wait." He winked as the floor started to descend slowly, leaving the hangar above them.

---

After a while, the elevator stopped in the center of a cavernous space, punctuated by occasional support columns and filled with aircraft. "Welcome to the transport hub of the FGTL, Devin. Mostly 747 freighters and Hercules, but we have our An-124 over there, and the two new An-70s there. Beyond that, we have the smaller aircraft. Below us, however, is where the real fun stuff is."

"Not bad." Devin remarked as he observed the hub. "When you can't expand on the surface there's always downward I suppose."

Skorpion nodded. "Especially when you have huge basements to work with already. This USED to be the Wong Industries campus, but they tried to put the squeeze on us economically. The previous leader decided he'd had enough of that, and had me take the place over." Skorpion waved his arm at the expanse of concrete, lit from above by high-intensity lighting. "And after that, we expanded. Especially after running out of room over at HQ; too many sewer lines and storm drains, and the subway." He set off for the door of a low building nearby. But downstairs, we have the bulky manufacturing, and storage for materials and heavy equipment we don't have room for at HQ."

"Hostile takeovers are always fun." Devin stated with his usual dull tone. "Though I do have a question. How much do you know about the project involving me and my kin?"

Skorpion stepped inside the building, shutting the door behind them as the elevator started to move. "I'd heard rumours of it before meeting Alexis; a team of super-soldiers, actually viable this time. None of the failures that had dogged earlier projects. I think you even got to my target before me, once or twice. Always the talk of ears and tails afterwards. But that's not so new; they tried kemonomimi with a previous project. Nanotech boosts for mech piloting, but that proved too expensive. Ask your self-defense teacher about it sometime; she was one of them. Anyway. Beyond the rumours, I have your mother's notes, and I have what I ripped off the DARPA servers when I was finding your mother." He sighed. "The former is lab notes, and the latter is performance reports. Not the whole story, and no record of anything beyond opinion." He paused thoughtfully. "Why do you ask?"

"Do you know I was designed as your bane?" Devin then asked looking to Skorpion with a curious expression.

Skorpion chuckled. "Not specifically, but it was a little obvious. The only way they could have got to me is digitally; I've spent a decade making sure the direct approach will cost them dearly, and now they can't go around declaring war on sovereign states. Still." He grinned down at Devin. "Nice to know they're still thinking of me from time to time. Quite flattering, really; all I've done is try to forge a life for myself, and resist them. I take it you know all about me, though?" He raised an eyebrow. "Of course, you probably know more about my systems than I do; they didn't come with a manual, and anything related to the interface is locked away."

"Some parts of you are better left unknown, and your body has done well to phase out shortcomings. You don't resembe your original specs anymore, but that's probably due to taking a point blank nuke." Devin said, feeling slightly relieved that that information wouldn't come up later at his expense.

Skorpion nodded. "Not point blank, exactly. Things are... Were... Strange on the other side of that portal. Time and space didn't quite line up properly." He paused. "Wait. You know about that? Ah, nevermind. You can't vanish for a couple of years without people assuming you died in the blast you set off. Besides." Skorpion flexed, winking at Devin. "Better than new. No lowest-bidder soldering jobs, no old scar tissue, and best of all I actually LOST ten kilos in lead that was too deep to fish out."

"Every cloud has a silver lining... Or something like that." Devin said, being not particularly good at paraphrasing.

Skorpion nodded. "Or a copper coating, in this case. I still have the lump somewhere, I think. It's sort of poetic." He opened the door again, revealing another catwalk over another industrial area; this one a mostly-robotic production line producing armoured SUVs, and various sizes of armour plates. "But here, we have the main production facility. The vehicles are mostly for in-faction use; anything that produces enough force to properly wreck one tends to leave it cheaper to just recycle anything damaged beyond a dent. Otherwise, we supply dictators, paranoid police forces, and soccer moms the world over with the ultimate in personal protective vehicles." He waved to a poster framed on the wall. "Or so the advertising claims, anyway. I wouldn't call anything 'ultimate' until it can go head-on with a semi truck at speed and come out on top."

"And the Beast does just that from what I've seen." Devin said as he ran his fingers across the hood of a near SUV. "Quite the creation that is."

Skorpion grinned proudly. "Ayup. Capable of chasing down supercars and battering them to death, while shrugging off autocannon fire, and managing terrain that would make an ATV think twice. All while carrying a full squad of troops and a pallet of cargo on the back." He sighed wistfully. "A little excessive these days, though. Either can't get the speed up while cornering, or someone's brought something it's not equipped to take out. Plus, piston engine technology is peaking again. Even improved with modern technology, it's still a 1940s engine design hauling a few tons of armour."

"Pet projects with be pet projects. I have a few of my own." Devin stated vaguely.

Skorpion nodded. "I think everyone does, somewhere. But, speaking of which..." He waved to the opposite wall as they headed towards it, where a section of wall slid open. "The pet project of my predecessor in this role."

"What is it? A rubber duck that talks back?" Devin asked as a joke though his tone would suggest total seriousness.

Skorpion shook his head. "No, that was just a pet. What I mean is this..." He stepped through the door into darkness. There was a few seconds of electical humming, before the room lit up to reveal a large quadrupedal mech, covered in battte damage and scorchmarks, and surrounded by oil drums. "Sadly, I've not had the time or resources to rebuild it properly, nor enough tritium to restart the reactor."

"Well it's big." Devin said as he approached the mech, his left eye lighting up to a digital green. "Fairly complex... I could fix it with the proper resources, upgrade it if needed. Maybe upgrade the autopilot."

"Having one at all might be an improvement." Skorpion remarked, letting out a nostalgic sigh as he leaned over the railing of the catwalk. "Driving it was a lot of effort, since I had to control the legs and arms while monitoring the reactor, and keeping an eye on the radar." He waved to the large dish mounted atop the mech. "It's an ugly hackjob of a design, but that's all I had time to do with some maniac attacking the factions with gundams. Lots of cut corners; the thruster basically vented drive plasma through a nozzle for thrust, and the plasma cannon spat out so much radiation that the TPCD had to rip most of the topsoil out the area after the battle." He grinned, turning back to Devin. "I bloody won, though. Tank and spank wins over cherry-tapping speedsters every time, if you're a good shot."

"I could do a lot to this thing." Devin remarked as he further examined the mech without getting any closer, his eye relaying everything he wanted to know about it to him.

Skorpion nodded. "With the proper resources, yes. But, alas, demons threatened to invade, and the repairs were sidelined in favour of building up conventional forces. That, and the only feasible source of tritium melted down a while back, and the UN's adopted the ostrich policy to getting all the loose stuff separated from the ground water." He waved a hand vaguely. "Bastards. And I'm not even allowed to shoot them."

"I can work around the tritium. I'm debating reworking the whole thing, but even for me it would take a while to finish something this large."

Skorpion nodded. "That's exactly why I never got back to it. That, and there's no real need for it; conventional weapons are far more effective, pound for pound. And they don't irradiate everything nearby, either."

"I could probably fix that too at some point, find an alternative fuel... Or invent one." Devin pondered, thinking about inventing one for his own project.

"Cold fusion is too low-energy to be practical, though. Thermonuclear is the only way to go, unless you want the thing to be trailing power cables, or screw with local weather systems with a microwave downlink." Skorpion gestured to the barrels surrounding the mech. "And besides; deuterium-deuterium fusion is cheap and simple. The only issue is startup, which requires the tritium I need. Or I build a regular reactor, but the whole war on terror nonsense stops me getting hold of enough uranium for THAT." He sighed, turning back to the mech. "Frankly, I've been considering just scrapping it and rebuilding from the ground up."

"Sometimes the best approach to a problem is to start again." Devin said with a shrug. "I don't have history with it so I can't say it'd be a shame or a waste, but it's ultimately up to you."

Skorpion shrugged. "Well, it's not going anywhere while I decide. It probably needs to be stripped down for an overhaul anyway, so I'll make the final decision when it's in pieces." He snapped his fingers, and the lights shut off abruptly. "I think that concludes the tour, unless there's anything you'd like to see closer, or anything specific?"

"I think being able to see at all would be helpful." Devin said as he stared into the pitch black darkness that had engulfed his vision.

Skorpion paused. "Ah, sorry. I tend to forget other people are limited to the visual spectrum sometimes." He rummaged in a pocket, before producing a small maglight and holding it out to Devin. After a few seconds, he remembered (again) that Devin couldn't see, and switched it on. "Here."

"This will do." He said as he accepted the maglight, his eye returning to normal. "Shall we leave?"

Skorpion nodded, setting off for the surface again. "We'll take a chopper back, I think. Save you getting your tail all frizzed again with the traffic."

Summary:
Devin hacks the FGTL. In order to make an appointment with Skorpion.
Doesn't he have a secretary to deal with this?

Devin shows up, and Mary gets the silent treatment.
The network admin is electrocuted for his failings.
Devin proposes a deal; he's acquired one of the FGTL's competitors in the arms business.
A deal is struck; Skorpion gets 75% of the company, in exchange for Devin being able to use the FGTL's manufacturing capacity to make things.
Oh, and Devin gets to tag along with the raid to kill the US' director of super-soldier projects. And pull the trigger on Maxamillion, the (BGR Director).
Although he gets 15% back if someone else steals the kill.
And Skorp gets a pantherbot for stealthy recon and stuff.

Tour of the facilities.
Discussion of the business.
Largoist hijinx
ROUS.

Introducing Devin to the FGTL's second-from-top scientist.
Since he already knows his own mother.
Glitter cannon!
Shrinking potions are a bitch.
Devin is challenged to fix things.
And does so.

Skorpion crossbred a sports car and an F-14.
Unfrizz your tail, Devin, it's perfectly safe.
Biiiig underground hangar.
With biiig aircraft in it.
Ooh, a mech.
Discussions of the mech.
Devin can't see in the dark. Some cat HE is...
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!"
<<

Skorpynekomimi

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Posts: 96

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Mon Dec 22, 2014 10:25 am

Re: (Insert Clever Title Here)

Going Clubbing, or Don't Piss Off A Largoist.
Location: FGTL HQ, various nightclubs.
Characters: Skorpion, Katrina, Stone, Lucius, Mimi.
Authors: Skorpy, DT.
Timestamp: After Stone stole stuff.


---

"So. You come here empty-handed WHY?" Skorpion placed his hands flat on the desk, leaning over to glare at Katrina.

Katrina leaned back and pointed at the whole and blood stain on her shirt, "Stone turned traitor," She replied, "He tazed Raven, shot me, and made off with the goons and the guns." she was holding her emotions well, but her eyes shone with a blood thirst that would made most mortals wet themselves.

Skorpion was no mere mortal, and simply raised an eyebrow. "Oh, did he now." He growled under his breath. "Nobody steals from me. And NOBODY tazes my d-... My operatives." He paused. "Oh, sod it. Yyou know Raven is Arella, right?"

"Yeah," Katrina said wih a smirk, "I am half vampire, remember?"

Skorpion shrugged. "Just making sure. I DID promise to keep her secret, after all. Anyway!" He leaned forward again, glowering. "NOBODY tazes my daughter. Get in the car, we're going clubbing."

"This is a rather odd time to celebrate, isn't it?" Katrina asked, "And this is your office, where's the car?"

Skorpion pulled a spiked cricket bat from under his desk. "Wrong sort of clubbing. And just follow me; I know just the thing to take."

---

After a few minutes of corridors and lift rides, Skorpion stepped into the motor pool. The Beast sat near the lift door, in pride of place in front of a cleared path through the vehicles. "Get in. Time to go teach someone a lesson." Skorpion opened the door, climbing up into the centrally-mounted driver's seat with a grin.

Katrina tossed a large purple dildo in the back and jumped in, "Got a place in mind or just looking for the first poor bastard to earn your ire?"

Skorpion grinned as he started the engine, the vehicles parked around rocking on their suspension from the sound pressure. "I tracked the guy's phone. Either it's a trap, or he forgot I exist in the digital realm as well as the physical. Either way, we're handling this Largoist style."

"w00t!" Katrina exclaimed, "That means I get to use my normal stuff. Arella gets all mopey about the blades."

Skorpion chuckled. "Yeah, she doesn't like lethal force. Although she doesn't object to my men shooting people when rescuing her, or Lucius slicing people, for some reason." He shrugged, flooring the throttle and accelerating towards the exit ramp with enough force to flatten Katrina back into her seat.

"Wheeee!"

---

Aleksander Stone was not, contrary to popular belief, curently living it up with champagne and whores. He was however cleaning his workspace. He spent that past three hours taking apart, cleaning and re-calibrating each and every one of the directed energy weapons they had liberated from Snow's weapons cache.

It was not a simple task, and as one lakey discovered, neither was it a safe one. Like most of Snow's guns, they were set past "kill" to "wipe out a small village with a single shot." He wouldn't really be missed, no one liked him anyway.

Once all the tools were cleaned and put away and the dust was swept up, Stone prepared for a meeting at one of Ozu's clubs. Seems there was possibly another propaganda job he wanted nothing to do with that needed to be done. He reached in his back pocket for..."Where is my phone?" Stone asked no one in particular and no one seem interested in answering. He groumbled and pulls a spare from his tool box and dialed it, straight to voice mail. "Damnit."

---

Skorpion entered the club in typical Largoist fashion. That, of course, meant bypassing the line, security, the coat check, and the doors. Revelers screamed and ran as the vehicle crashed through the entrance and onto the dance floor, scattering those who hadn't been quick enough on the uptake to move. There was a pause, and Skorpion opened the door, stepping out with chainsword in one hand and an MP7 in the other, his coat swirling the exhaust fumes as they spurted from the exhausts mounted at the front of the vehicle. "<Is there a mister Stone present? I wish to speak with him?>"

"<No stones here, this isn't a jewlery store!>" An angry yet busty barmaid replied as she continued to pour drinks.

"<Not jewlery>," Katrina replied, "<It's his name.>"

"<Ahh, Ozu's new gaijin,>" The barmaid replied, "<Not been in in two days. Hasn't paid his tab either. Bastard.>"

Skorpion sighed. "<Bullshit, wench! His phone says he's here. Which back entrance did he flee through?>"

The barmaid laughed at that one, "<His phone? Which one?>" she reached down and picked up a box labled "yakuza." It was filled with various smart phone and old flip phones. "<They get drunk and leave things laying around.>"

Skorpion sighed, and walked over to take the box from her. "<How convenient. Let's see, is his new number on one? Ah, yes, it is. Also, secure your wi-fi.>" He winked at the barmaid, and walked back to the Beast. "<And I'll be keeping these. Bye now.>" He climbed back into the vehicle, grumbling to himself. "<At least I got some phones out of it.>"

"She's hot," Katrina was already rifling through the pictures on one of the phone, she stuck the phone infront of Skorp.

Skorpion nodded. "Indeed she is. High as a kite, though. I guess she spent all the winnings from that talent show on sugar, judging by the dilation of her pupils. Ah, and that's the new iphone, so that was fairly recent as well. I think we have another target." He stomped on the throttle again, scattering masonry as he crashed through the opposite wall of the club and out into traffic, crushing a small car against a blacked-out SUV.

"Huh, unmarked, for us or someone else?" Katrina looked at the SUV just in time to see the back window shatter and a silver haired loli-goth in the back seat gave a wave. "Never mind, it's Mimi, must be working on that list."

Skorpion waved back, and accelerated away through the traffic. "Good. We need less dirty cops around here."

---

"Please get out of my lap," Stone said to the third girl to attempt to get his attention, "I am trying to enjoy myself," he grabbed another chicken wing from his plate.

This earned laughter from the man sitting scross his table, "I can send for some boys if that suits you better," Ozu said.

Stone glared at him across the table, "Only girl in this town I'm interested in drives a van and would break you in two," She took a drink, "But you've ruined any chance of getting to ask her out."

"ORAZ? FGTL?" Ozu asked.

"Deliveries, but now that everyong thinks I'm a traitor, it doesn't matter."

"Aren't you though?" Ozu chuckled, "Or do you call it something else?"

"I'll it being coerced under threat," Stone muttered as Ozu stood and left.

---

Club #2 felt itself practically immune to people like Skorpion. The dance floors started on the first floor, instead of ground level, and nobody would be able to ram-raid THAT, would they?

Skorpion, however, lived to defy expectations, ramping off a nearby car transporter and into the building's second floor, The Beast's momentum and armoured prow carrying it through the walls and floors to rest axle-deep in the middle of the lowest dance floor. He opened the window, leaning out with a grin. "Stone! I know you're here!"

Stone, having been ORAZ for several years, was completely unfazed by the mammoth, armoured truck comming towards him. He sipped his drink and had another chicken wing as the vehicle's bumper nudged his table. The other yakuza members assigned to work for/keep an eye on him had scattered at the first sign on cracks in the plaster. "j0."

"YOU SON OF A BITCH! YOU SHOT ME!" Katrina yelled as she jumped out the window and on to the roof.

"You got better I take it." Stone replied.

"That's not the point and you know it!" Katrina shouted, "That was my favorite blouse!"

"Was only business Kat," Stone replied calmly, "I didn't have much of a choice."

Skorpion stepped out the door, holding his chainsword and the MP7 once again. "Stone, you know why I'm here. You stole from me. You tazered Ar-Raven. You shot Katrina here. And you made me demolish the wrong club with your lax data security." He raised the gun, firing at and shattering the disco ball, causing a small storm of reflections. "Give it back, right now, and I won't shoot you."

"Technically, you were stealing. Snow was ORAZ, I was ORAZ. Same house." Stone replied, "And I couldn't give it to you anyway."

"Technically, Snow's not going to give a flying frak about what happens to his old stashes. And wasn't he KFH and not ORAZ?" Skorpion swung the gun around, firing an armour-piercing round through Stone's shin. "And why not? Already sold it to pay your bar tabs?"

Stone looked at the hole in his leg, took a swig of vodka and poured some in the wound. Can't be getting an infection now, can we? "I didn't sell it. I was sent for it. And that wasn't polite."

"Hey, watch it, he's ex-Russian," Katrina interrupted, "And DT hasn't fired him yet."

"So, don't drink from him, then. What does being a vodka-drinking masochist have to do with anything?" Skorpion rolled his eyes. "And YET is the operative word. He only hasn't got around to it yet because Lola decided to try out some of the things she saw on the protest signs." He took a step towards Stone, the teeth on his sword spinning up with a whine. "Who sent you for it? Where are they? And I don't care about polite. Fess up, or you'll be carrying your legs to the ER."

"Ozu," Stone shrugged, "And if my legs give up that easily, I don't need them." He stood from his chair. "If it matters, he wanted both of them dead instead of just unconscious."

Skorpion swung the sword, catching Stone in the head with the back of the housing and knocking him sprawling into the table of drinks. "Good boy. Now I won't kill you. However, Yakuza tradition demands you lose a finger if you fail. Having failed ME, I'm going to show you just why you don't cross a super-soldier." He leaned in, grabbing Stone's wrist and holding his arm up.

Stone laughed and swung backwards, forewards and then kicked with a suprising amount of force, pulling his hand free and dislocating nearly every bone in his wrist and hand in th process, "You're grip has nothing on Monster Calamari Skorpion," he landed not so neatly and sprawled across another table. He was now wearing nearly as much alchohol as he had consumed over the course of the day.

"He does have a point," Katrina remaked, "I've yet to see you crush a school bus with just your thumb and forefinger."

"Crush, no. Explode?" Skorpion snapped his fingers, and the 30mm chaingun rose from the roof of the Beast, taking aim at Stone. "Hold very still; this won't hurt a bit."

"Oh come on," Stone complained, "That's hardly fair."

"Fair?" Skorpion laughed as the chaingun fired into the wall behind Stone, blowing a foot-wide hole. "I'm a Largoist, remember. We don't DO 'fair'."

"Good point!" Stone yelled after the sound of the gun firing. He dove to the side, drawing his revolver and firing two shots...That didn't seem to strike anything.

Skorpion advanced, the cannon tracking Stone's movements easily. "Hold still. All I want is your arm." The gun whirred, spitting a series of rounds out, bracketing Stone with explosions.

Stone, however, moved very well for a drunken ex-Russian (what does that even mean? Someone ask Kat!) and avoided the shots, counting down mentally.

The chaingun continued to fire, blowing chunks out of walls, floor, furniture, and decorations. It stuttered as it hit a series of rounds breached by Stone's return fire, but spat them out automatically as it continued firing. Skorpion put his SMG away, tugging a crossbow out from under his coat and taking aim. As Stone dived to avoid a cannon round, he fired, the bolt trailing cable all the way to Stone's shoulder. Skorpion grinned, giving the cable a tug. "Get over here!"

Stone was pulled foreward with a grunt, "How about no?" He raised his gun and fired point blank at the cable. He used the foreward momentum to roll through the debris that used to be his table and retrived his broom. "Skorp, Kat. It's nothing personal, but I really don't have a choice here. Also, you may wish to duck." The former(?) RaZian took his own advice as automatic rifle fire filled the room.

Skorpion sighed as the gunfire pattered off his armour and coat, dropping the crossbow to draw an MP7 and return fire, the cannon on the Beast panning with him.

Katrina sighed and avoided the hail of gun fire, "Boys."

"Bloody Yakuza! Charge!" Skorpion brandished his sword as he leaped over debris to engage the newcomers with his sword, the screams and gunfire merging with the whine of chainsaw teeth.

"He started it!" Stone yelled to Katrina.

Katrina glowered at him, casually throwing a blade at his hand before flipping onto the back of the truck. She grinned fangily, letting blades fly into necks just a second before Skorpion's chainsword would find them, "Now the fun times start!"

Stone yelled in pain as the blade met it's mark in him, then facepalmed at the idiots armed with kitchen knives attacking the cybernetic super soldier and his half vampire side kick. Then he realized he face palmed with the same hand that had a blade stuck through it, and howled in pain once again.

Skorpion ducked a knife swipe, grabbing the arm attached to it and pulling hard, meeting the owner's face with an armoured elbow. This was followed by slicing someone else clean in half with his sword, and emptying half a magazine of armour-piercing rounds clean through one thug and into another. As the goons started to thin out and disengage, he turned back to Stone with a wide grin. "I haven't had fun like this in AGES." He waded through the bodies and debris back to Stone, snapping blood from his sword into a wide arc across the wall. "Kat, you okay? No extra holes anywhere?"

"Nope, all good~" Katrina replied and dropped neatly from the roof of the truck, "Now what?"

"Now, we get what we came for." Skorpion stepped over to Stone. Or, at least, where Stone had been before. Now, there was nothing but a bloodstain, an abandoned phone, and a trail of drips leading to an open fire escape. "Bugger."

"Damnit!" Katrina explaimed and stamped her foot.

Skorpion winced as the floor creaked. "Don't do that. We're embedded in the..." He was cut off by another creak, and the Beast's chaingun tucked itself back into the mounting. "Back in the car. Quickly. I know you're immortal, but Lucius will be PISSED if I drop a building on you."

"Right!" Katrina jumped back in to the Beast.

Skorpion climbed in, slamming the door shut just as the Beast crashed through the floor into the room below. Wheels span and spat debris in wide arcs as he span it around, heading for the clearest route to a wall as the building started to collapse around them, debris and rubble bouncing off the armour and being brushed aside by the wipers. As they exited the building through a wall, Skorpion wiggled the wheel a little to dislodge some of the brickwork from the vehicle's long bonnet. "I think that went well, other than him escaping."

Katrina looked somewhat troubled about that last bit, "He's a better fighter than that," she gnawed her lip, "Something isn't right about this."

"Obviously. Trouble is, we just have to wait until..." He was cut off by a whoosh from outside, as an RPG fired lazily from the back of a van half a block away, trailing smoke as it headed towards them. "Ah, there we go!" Skorpion remarked cheerily, bracing himself as the Beast jinked sideways to avoid the rocket. "Unfortunately, he dented the chain feed, so we'll just have to do this the hard way. Unless you feel like riding in the back for fire support?"

Katrina visibly brigtened at the idea, banishing any concerns she had in lieu of shooting things from the back of a moving truck, "Hell yeah!"


Skorpion grinned. "There's a tray of weaponry under the rear seats. Pick something, and get out there. Take a shovel as well; bed's full of rubble. And don't stand in front of the radar emitters." He swung the wheel again, side-swiping the van as they caught up to it, bodywork being peeled away by the impact to reveal a grinning Russian with a satchel charge. Skorpion's eyes widened as it sailed towards them, before dancing between brake and accelerator to field the blast on the frontal armour. "Just... Quickly, before they try that again?"

Katrina let out a high pitched squeal of glee as she grabed an AK and a bag full of drum magazines, a shovel and kicked the door open before fliping out on to the roof and in the bed of truck. She snapped the rifle up and fired several rounds through the windshield of a car coming in from the right. The bullets found thier mark before the horn sounded and the vehicle slammed in to a telephone pole. She quickly used the shovel to clear out a space to work and kept a sharp eye for hostiles.

Skorpion sped up as vehicles closed on them, dust and bits of brickwork streaming off the Beast as he swerved through traffic. Cars moved aside easily, as they were wont to do in Tokyo, other than one oncoming pickup truck. As it closed, Skorpion moved over to meet it, the Beast hunkering down on it's suspension before impact. The impact itself was a sudden jolt, the pickup disintegrating against the armoured prow with a splintering crunch of sheet metal, followed by a solid *wham* as the engine block met armour. Momentum was equalised, and soon the truck was being shoved backwards down the road, tires trailing smoke and dust, and an electical fire starting from the remote control system strapped into the driver's seat. After a few seconds, the Beast rose up and the wreckage passed underneath to be spat out at the pursuers.

Katrina for her part was peppering persuing vehicles with automatic fun fire...I mean gunfire. That got boring, so trick shots were in order. It was long before two cars pulled in behind them, occupants returning fire from sunroofs, and pulled side by side. "Perrrrfect," Katrina said as she took aim and fired two shots. The front driver's side tire on one vehicle exploded as the passenger side tire on the other vehicle went, cauing them both to swever in to eachother. The front ends locked in to one another and the pair were soon end over end in the middle of the street. "Did you see that?" Katrina yelled, "That was awesome!"

"Indeed it was." Skorpion jinked again, weaving between a salvo of RPGs and diving down into an alleyway, scattering dumpsters and fire escapes in his wake, and leaving a pair of very confused magical girls clinging to one. "Can you operate a Stinger missile? They've got air support." This was backed up as a stream of tracer fire followed them down the alley.

"Ummm....Point and shoot?" Katrina asked with a voice that did little to convey confidence.

Skorpion sighed. Was a little training too much to ask for? "Fine. There's a heavy machinegun stashed in the toolbox back there. You might want to dig out some of the rubble to get at it." He wrenched the wheel sideways, the Beast turning surprisingly nimbly to make a corner into another alleyway.

Katrina set the AK down and set about her new task of unearthing the heavy. "Ooooh shiny~" Katrina hefted the belt fed monster with ease. "Lemme at em!"

Skorpion chuckled, pulling out of the alleyway and onto an expressway ramp to give her a clear shot; filtering through congested traffic to zip past a fender-bender. "Clear enough, or should we find a park?"

"This works!" Katrina called back as she opened fire on the incoming helocopter. Rounds peppered the canopy, taking out the co-pilot first as the craft banked and a door gunner returned fire.

Skorpion jinked from side to side, trying to give Kat a stable firing platform while trying to avoid her (and his truck) being filled with bullets. As he hit clear road, he accelerated, trying to pull ahead of the helicopter or goad it into going too fast.

"This gun has all the accuracy of a bottle rocket!" Katrina complained, "Wasn't there an M79 in there?"

"I have one of the pump-action ones in there somewhere... Ah! Catch!" Skorpion reached out of the window, slinging his bookbag over the roof of the vehicle to Kat. "Take the shotgun, alternate between orange and blue rounds."

Katrina caught the bag, pulled the shotgun out, "Sweet! 40mm shotgun?" Katrina loaded the weaon quickly and took aim. She first two rounds in rappid succesion. Orange first, blue second. The result was several hundred flaming, napalm coated fletchette rounds at the chopper. "DT needs one of these for the show, high speed kabobs!" She re-racked the slide and opened fire again.

Skorpion snickered. "Grenade launcher, actually, but I scaled up shotgun rounds for it. Should be some regular frag around if you want them, maybe some rocket-propelled seekers, but don't use those unless they bring armour. Those are expensive." He swung around an Erika Multinational convoy, reaching out the window to fist-bump one of the drivers before charging over into the opposite lane as the helicopter crashed behind them. "But sure, I'll sell him some. They got anything else following?"

"Looks clear!" Katrina shouted back over the wind and the engine. She put the heavy machine gun back in the case, grabbed the bag and jump back inside the truck. "Now where did that bastard get off to?"

"Some hidey-hole. He'll crop up sooner or later." Skorpion retrieved his bag and turned off the expressway; crashing through the side of the elevated road to land heavily at street level, crushing a robotic street cleaner. "Of course, I don't fancy his chances if he tries to go clubbing again anytime soon."

"He was rather calm when we came through the wall though, wasn't he?" Katrina mused.

"Too calm." Skorpion replied. "Like he knew we were coming." He sighed, looking out the window. "Looks like bad weather's on the way..."

---

'Tha's him, the scunner! Hold me drink, lass. I have tae settle a matter of honour.' Lucius handed his half-empty pint of whisky to the foxgirl at the bar next to him, and started to shoulder his way through the crowd to where he'd seen the aforementioned scunner. 'Aye, lad. Stone, is it?'

Stone turnend with a sigh and facepalmed with the same hand and winced. "Yes...yes it is..."

Lucius grinned, extending a hand to shake. As Stone took it, he pulled sharply, leaning in to headbutt the man to the floor. 'Laddie, tha' is fer shootin' mah bes' girlfriend.'

Stone grabbed his now bleeding nose, "You have more than one?!"

'Aye, I might.' Lucius shitted, kicking Stone viciously in the ribs. 'An' that is fer tazin' Raven, ye scunner.'

Stone groaned and shifted to a sitting position, "If it's any consolation, I was ordered to kill them both." He coughed and spit some blood. "That's gonna hurt in the morning."

Lucius stepped around him, kicking him back down to the ground before stepping on his crotch, leaning down heavily and growling, ears flattened back. 'Let it be known from now on, laddie. The magical girls o' this city are under my protection. If I catch wind of ye, or anyone else hurtin' them, heads are gonnae roll. Ye ken?'

"I've got noting to do with any magical girls," Stone said with a growl, "And if something does happen to them, you'll have to fight be for the heads." Stone shoved his foot off, "Ozu isn't concerned with them or you."

Lucius snarled at him, giving a last kick in the teeth before turning to head back to the foxgirl he was hitting on, his tail flicking dismissively at Stone. 'Scunner.'

---

Summary:
Katrina reports to Skorpion. Empty-handed.
Skorpion is pissed, and decides to take it out on someone.
NOBODY tazes his daughter.
I mean, Raven.
Whatever.
Off to the Beast.

Stone? Champagne and whores? Naw.

Mayhem, bad driving, and tracking Stone's phone to a club.
No Stone, just phone. Yoink.

Stone shrugs off the whores, and drinks vodka. His heart belongs to a delivery girl.

Time to find another club.
Here's one.
INSANE STUNT BONUS
Hello, Stone.
Dakka dakka dakka.
Yakuza take a finger? He'll one-up them.
Stone is, in fact, rather attached to his hand.
He escapes, but not after breaking the chaingun.

Kat rides machinegun.
Hello, Mimi.
Like shotgun, only in the back of the truck, and with a bigger gun.
GRENADE LAUNCHER SHOTGUN ROUNDS
Running battle.
Armoured trucks ftw.
Crunch, screech, vroom, smash, vroom.
Boom.

---

Lucius finds Stone in a bar.
And gives him the glasgow kiss for shooting his best girlfriend.
Wait, more than one?
Stop changing the subject.
Lucius then defends Raven's honour, by kicking Stone in the teeth.
Then in the nuts to press home the point about magical girls being under his protection.
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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Oblivion

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Posts: 51

Joined: Thu May 01, 2014 10:46 pm

Post Fri Dec 26, 2014 4:22 pm

Lovely weather for a sl3igh ride with you... In July!?!

Location: Around the city.
Characters: Skorpion, Tiffaney, various cameos.
Authors: Skorpy, Oblivion.
Timestamp: Right now! GO GO GO!


Skorpion stepped out onto the roof of HQ, looking out at the city. Snow covered everything to a depth ranging from a few inches to a few feet. The streets weren't cleared, snow was still coming down, and two Largoists were climbing the forest of antennae nearby, knocking ice off them. He grinned to himself. "It works! IT WORKS!" He leaned back, before breaking into maniacal laughter.

---

"Okay... Coat, gloves, scarf, kitty-eared hat, flask... I think that's everything." Skorpion nodded to himself, before knocking on the door to the lab.

Behind the door a small explosion could be heard. Moments later Tiffaney opened it with a thin layer of soot on her face. "Did I forget the sign again?" She asked in a confused tone as she checked the wall. "Yup! Forgot the sign. Oh, hi Sweetie~" She said in her usual cheerful manner.

Skorpion smiled. chuckling softly. "Morning. I see you're settling well into Largoism, then?" He reached out, swiping his finger across the soot on her cheek.

"Yup. They weren't kidding about Azidoazide Azide. Slightest noise or movement and bang, though it does have a habit of blowing up regardless." Tiffaney said, placing her pointer finger on her chin.

"That IS why they usually cut it with stabilizers, after all." Skorpion remarked, before holding up the crate. "It's snowing outside. Since your experiment exploded, I was thinking we might find time for a sleigh ride?"

"The stabilizers make it explode." Tiffaney responded before her eyes lit up at the mentioning of snow. "Snow? Already? That's a lovely idea!"

Skorpion nodded. "Unseasonably cold weather, they're calling it. Somehow, a bunch of cloud systems appeared over the Pacific, and steered straight for Japan without becoming a cyclone, and getting colder all the way." He winked. "Funny how that can happen. But anyway; I have a coat, hat, and a scarf for you, there's hot chocolate in the flask, and there's a sleigh ready to cruise the suspiciously un-cleared streets."

---

[A MONTH AGO]

"Roger that, control. We are ten klicks from the designated area. Confirm for operation?" The Largoist pilot adjusted the controls, checking the map on his knee against the view from the window.

The radio crackled, before replying. "Confirm, you have a go for operations."

"Acknowledged." The pilot checked the map again, and frowned before turning it the other way up. He frowned again, and switched his headset to talk to the navigator down in the nose. "Boris! Location check!"

There was a long pause, before a shouted reply came back. "IS STILL OCEAN, CAPTAIN! JUST DROP ALREADY!"

The pilot winced, turning the volume down quickly. He shrugged, and tapped at the screen duct-taped to the console. It beeped, before speaking up in a tinny voice. "In four hundred..."

The pilot sighed. "Damn it, we're not even over LAND. You have one job! How the hell can you get it THAT WRONG?"

"Yards, turn left. Then..." The screen beeped again.

"Useless device. Give me one good reason why I don't toss you out the window?"

"At the roundabout take the..."

The pilot shrugged, and pushed the big red button next to the screen. The aircraft shuddered, and started to stream vapour from the wings.

"Third exit. Then, you have reached your destination."

"This is Seeder One. Drop commencing, over."

---

Skorpion nestled the hat on Tiffaney's head, before turning to start the sleigh's engine. Aside from being made from what resembled the frame of a small convertible, it was a fairly ordinary sleigh. It had an open top. It had runners, even if they were held to the rest of the sleigh by a complex arrangement of struts and springs. And it even had a harness, even if said harness was coupled to a snowmobile with a wooden horse head taped to the fairing. "Your chariot awaits."

"Well that's a bit of a Largoist twist to a sleigh ride." Tiffaney said as she climbed in. "And this hat is adorable."

Skorpion grinned as he settled in next to her. "Well, I'm not much good with horses, or wood for that matter. And I can't have you riding in anything flammable." He stretched, before resting his arm around her shoulders, his other hand gesturing at the 'horse' to spur it into action, tugging them gently out of the courtyard. "As for the hat, it just seemed appropriate."

"Well I was blown up recently, so riding in a non-flammable sled works." She said as she snuggled up to him. "Though I feel like this sudden change of weather could cause some hurricanes..."

"Ah, I'm sure it'll be fine. The cold snap has been paired with suspicious warm spots that are shutting off cyclonic flow and helping steer the cold air." Skorpion cracked an imaginary whip, and the sleigh accelerated down the entrance road. "Besides, it's snowing! You can worry later, just relax and enjoy yourself."

"You cloud seeded didn't you?" She asked as she smiled up to the sky. "I haven't seen snow since I was a little girl."

Skorpion tried to look innocent; at least as innocent as he could manage. "Maybe. I may have been lancing cloud formations with microwaves from the powersats. Isn't this worth it, though?" He grinned, waving his arm out at the snow-covered city.

"Oh, definitely." Tiffaney said as she looked around the snow covered city. "I'd forgotten how pretty snow is... Wait, you didn't do all of this for me did you?" She asked, her cheeks turning red, not just from the cold, but from the thought of something so romantic being done for her.

"I might have done. I don't see anyone else I might have done it for, after all." Skorpion grinned. "Making you happy is worth wrecking weather systems any time."

"You're quite the romantic under all of that armour." Tiffaney said as she attempted a kiss, their height difference mixed with the seat belt making it impossible for her to reach on her own.

Skorpion leaned down, closing his eyes as he kissed her softly.

---

[A MONTH AGO]

"Okay... There's the cold mass there, and that patch of cloud there looks like it's going to divert it. You sure the boss man wants that hitting Tokyo?" The technician raised an eyebrow, the motion causing him to drift a short way away from the window.

"That's what he said. Make sure the cold air hits tokyo, and make sure it's wet. So, those two patches of cloud there, and lance some of the sea in front of it for humidity." Replied the other technician, looking up from the controls. "Hit them."

"Got it." The first tech jabbed at the display next to him, and the dish outside the window moved slightly, altering aim. There was an electrical hum from deep in the station, and the window darkened briefly as the dish glowed a bright orange. "First strike a success. Going for the second... Got it. Now just a bit to get the water warmed up, and..."

---

[A COUPLE OF DAYS AFTER THAT]

"<Captain! The weather's changing!>" The deckhand waved frantically at the bridge, his other hand pointing to the clouds shifting overhead.

"<Boy, so help me, if you don't get back to... What the hell?>" The captain shaded his eyes as he peered out at the clouds, grabbing for a handrail as the fishing boat rocked in the sudden swell. "<That's a storm forming, and it's forming FAST...>" He leaned over for the microphone, pushing the button down firmly. "<Back inside, now! Get below decks!>"

---

"Sandwich?" Skorpion offered the plate to Tiffaney as they sat in the center of a park, the remains of the gate scattered across the snowfield behind them. "I have smoked salmon, turkey, and two types of cheese."

"Smoked salmon please." Tiffaney said cheerfully, choosing to ignore the gate. "I absolutely love fish."

Skorpion handed her a pair of sandwiches and a cup of hot chocolate, decorated with cream and little marshmallows floating in the top. "It is quite nice. They do good fish around here, even if it's been a little hard to get boats in of late."

"I'm sure that once the sudden inexplicable cold front passes everything will be fine... Minus a couple natural disasters." Tiffaney said with unwavering cheerfulness as as she accepted the sandwiches and hot chocolate. "I'm surprised that you and I have been on two dates now, and not a single assassination attempt that I've noticed." The self proclaimed retired magical girl said before taking a bite from a sandwich.

Skorpion chuckled. "Well, being the boss has it's advantages. I can, for example, have people deployed to dissuade potential assassins." He winked, as something exploded halfway across the city. "That must have been one of them."

"Either that or someone attempted to charge Lexi double for a meal." Tiffaney joked as she looked in the general direction of the blast. "She told me that the only thing that stopped her last time was 'some tall guy who turned out to be a ninja' who took her out for ramen instead."

"I dread to think what'd happen now she has more guns and an even bigger appetite." There was another explosion, this one somewhat closer. "I do try to keep food plentiful at HQ; an army marches on it's stomach, after all." Skorpion frowned, turning to look at a nearby building. "Ah, if you'll excuse me, someone seems to not have done their research." He leaned down, kissing Tiffaney again as a bullet whizzed past where his head had been a second ago, burying itself in the snow. Shortly afterwards, the building was hit by a missile from a helicopter that had previously been hiding behind a nearby high-rise. "I do apologize. Distasteful, really, but we can't have people trying to shoot my date, now."

Tiffaney returned the kiss. "That would be quite a shame." She said with perfect composure. "It's quite exciting, but you think after so many casualties they would stop." She said before sipping her cocoa.

Skorpion shrugged. "It's trailed off, but you're attracting a whole new set of inexperienced mooks that think a scientist is an easy target." He paused, wincing and stiffening as something hit him in the back. "Or think that they can shoot THROUGH someone." He released Tiffaney, turning and throwing a grenade into a stand of bushes across the park in one smooth motion. After a few seconds, the bushes exploded, and a figure staggered out, only to be laid flat by a sudden impact. "Really inconsiderate of you." He sighed softly. "I am sorry about this. Do you think you could pick the slug out the back of my coat? The chainmail stopped it, but it's stuck both layers to the armour underneath."

"Of course." Tiffaney said before plucking the slug from the chainmail and flicking it aside. "Thinking a scientist is an easy target. Frankly I'm offended." She teased with a giggle. "I've punched more then a few bullets out of the air in my days as a magical girl."

Skorpion nodded. "And I can believe that. Dealing with a school full of them has been... Educational, if you'll pardon the pun."

Tiffaney giggled again. "It's kinda nostalgic teaching them, though most of them aren't a hot head like I was."

"Most of them. I hear Johnathan has befriended one with the power of the Voice, and an axe you could fell trees with." Skorpion chuckled. "As well as Alexis' sleepover last week."

"From what I heard she had a fun night, though letting teenagers drink earned her a bit of a scolding." Tiffaney said with a sigh. "You probably should instate a legal drinking age."

Skorpion shrugged. "I don't think it did them any harm. And besides; it's not like I let them have anything stronger than vodka and b33r. Not like, say, Lucius' whisky or anything."

"I'm a little upset that Mary saw Alexis in a magical girl outfit and didn't send me a picture." Tiffaney said, prodding her pointer fingers together. "It would have been so cute to have."

Skorpion snickered. "I'm sure it's floating around the network cache somewhere. That, or charm it out of her boyfriend. And besides; I hear the schoolgirl outfit went down well too." He grinned. "No pictures from that, though. Word is she's threatened to kill anyone who took any."

"And here I though she didn't like dressing up." Tiffaney said with a smile. "I may see Rekko about those pictures though... I'll get to it later." She said before drinking more of her cocoa, and taking a bite from her sandwich.

"I think she was merely protesting too much, if you catch my meaning." Skorpion remarked.

---

"<There is no explanation as yet for the unseasonably cold weather. We are expecting highs of just above freezing, and lows of up to fifteen below. Residents are advised to remain in their homes until conditions clear, and to assist elderly neighbours.>" The newsreader sighed softly as the cameras cut off; the week was hard enough before this weather rolled in, and now she was stuck repeating the same stock phrases over and over. "<I'm sure those damned factions are behind this. Remember a few years ago when they destroyed all the snowplows? They're all the damn same.>"

---

Skorpion guided the sleigh through downtown Tokyo, easing it around the lumps in the snowdrift that signified parked cars, smaller buildings, and the occasional mailbox. "I'm guessing you haven't had much chance to go sightseeing since you arrived?"

"Not really. I've spent most of my time in the labs, at school, or in the ER." Tiffaney said with a shrug. "I don't mind it though, I like my jobs."

"Even if you love your work, it's important to get some time off every now and again." Skorpion nodded sagely. "We'd end up doing nothing but working, otherwise, and where's the fun in that?"

"You've got a point, I just never really had a reason to explore the city." Tiffaney said as she observed the sidewalks and buildings that they were passing.

Skorpion grinned, slowing down a little to point things out. "Over there is Tokyo Tower, or at least what was left of it after the demons stole it. That one there is new, the one in the distance there I'm sure was a different shape when I blew it up last month, and..." He slowed sharply, steering around a lump in the snow. "And that, unless I'm mistaken, is a trap." He took a wide berth around it, eyeing it carefully.

"Why did demons steal Tokyo Tower?" Tiffaney asked, also staring at the lump in the snow.

"Well, they were invading, and it was blocking their portal. Beyond that? I have no idea. They seem to have a shortage of landmarks. That, and office equipment." Skorpion shrugged. "Like ants ferrying food, only it was little demons and chairs."

"Odd." Tiffaney said as she observed the remains of Tokyo Tower. "And people blame us for that?" She asked, pointing to it.

"Yup. Despite the fact that kaiju wreck it more often than we ever did, along with major bridges." He spurred the sleigh onwards, the 'horse' kicking up a spray of snow as it shot forwards. After a few seconds, Skorpion wiped tthe snow from his face and sighed. "Noted. Next time, mudguards."

Tiffaney used the snow from her face to make a tiny snowball, and flicked it at Skorpion, giggling as she did. "Got'cha!"

Skorpion blinked, and shook the excess snow off. "I'll have you know, this means war." He scooped a handful from the sleigh, and proceeded to deposit it down the back of her coat.

Tiffaney's giggling turned into a sharp shriek as she felt the snow against the skin on her back. "C-cold!" She said, her body shivering. "D-definitely war!" She said as she scooped snow off the sleigh and tossed it at Skorpion's face.

Skorpion caught the snow just before impact, tossing it back at her with a smirk.

The snowball coated Tiffaney's face with a thin layer of snow. "Okay! Pull over! Were having a real snowball fight!" She wiped the snow from her face and pointed challengingly to Skorpion with a wide grin, taking off her glasses with the other hand and placing them in her coat.

Skorpion grinned, guiding them into a car park nearby. "You're on!" With that, he vaulted over the side of the sleigh and sprinted for cover; moving surprisingly fast for someone wearing so much armour, before diving behind a snow-covered bush. There was a yell of surprise and a brief scuffle, before an assassin was ejected from the bush in an arc, minus his gun and cold weather gear.

Tiffaney unbuckled herself and vaulted over the other side of the sleigh, taking cover behind a mailbox. "You're gonna get it, dear!" She yelled as she balled a snowball and threw it just over the bush at speeds slightly above a professional baseball player.

Skorpion met the ball mid-air with one of his own, before sending a flurry back at her, arcing over the mailbox at various angles to arrive all at once. "Really? For a mere scientist, you're pretty cocky." He taunted, gathering more snow to help fortify his position.

Tiffaney dived from cover with a couple of snowballs, moving in a manner that resembled Johnathan in combat. She skid to a halt and chucked the two snowballs at Skorpion's fortifications, one chipping a corner and the other going straight through. "I'm more than just a scientist sweetie." She said as she prepared another snowball without taking her eyes off of Skorpion's location.

Skorpion snickered quietly as the snowballs shot through the fortifications he'd thrown them up as a decoy while he looped around. Moving swiftly, he gathered snow into a large snowball, sending it on a long, lazy arc upwards as he tossed a pair of swift, small balls directly at the magical girl he faced. "And I'm more than just an engineer, darling."

Tiffaney leapt up to intercept the large snowball and redirect it to Skorpion. She then conjured a magical platform above her, and flipped to push off it with her feet and accelerate to the ground, the impact causing snow to poof away from the point of impact in a large wave.

Skorpion rolled as the large snowball hit him; absorbing the impact and wincing at the pulse of magical energy. "Oh, so that's how it is, huh? Cheating it is, then~" He grinned, running at an angle away from Tiffaney, gathering snow as he went.

"All is fair in love and war, and this is both." Tiffaney said with a grin, before running to a lamp post and packing a couple snowballs. "Where'd you run off to sweetie~" She taunted, keeping an eye out for any movement.

Skorpion's reply was a barrage of snowballs from multiple angles, some cored with gravel striking the lamppost with enough force to raggle it.

Tiffaney dropped her snowballs, punching the snowballs that Skorpion had sent towards her out of the air. "That all you got?" She asked in a way that Alexis would.

Skorpion grinned, reaching up to grab her ankle, tugging sharply as he clung to the post. "No, dear. That was just the distraction."

Tiffaney let out a shriek of surprise as she felt Skorpion's hand around her ankle and was pulled into the snow. "Well you're quite the sneak." She said, waist deep in snow.

Skorpion grinned. "Delta force training. Comes in very handy when people expect you to come down on them like a ton of bricks." He winked, before reaching down and flipping Tiffaney over into the snow. "Also, gotcha~"

Tiffaney stuck her tongue out to Skorpion as she laid on her back in the snow. "I would've gotten you if my illusions worked on machines!"

Skorpion grinned at her as he settled down next to her. "I'm not entirely machine, you know. Not like that poor sod that got possessed by an AI from the next lab over."

"True, but you're just enough to realize when I'm really there or not. Otherwise I'd be invisible right now." Tiffaney said as she brushed hair away from her left eye to show that it was currently purple, though it quickly fadded back to it's original dark brown.

Skorpion raised an eyebrow. "Invisible, huh? That would explain why you were fuzzy around the edges. And that eye... Did they use your DNA to create your children, by any chance?"

"Not create, but modify. I'm sure their birth parents are somewhere. Where, or whether they're alive or not, I don't want to know." Tiffaney let out a sigh. "It may be selfish, but... They're my kids."

Skorpion nodded. "Understandable. They do take after you an awful lot."

Tiffaney smiled warmly. "You think so?" She asked, turning her head to look at Skorpion.

Skorpion nodded. "You were taunting me like Lexi does. You move like Victoria when you're being sneaky, and you have Evangeline's caring nature. Plus, Devin seems to have gotten your talent with science. And I haven't seen you fight yet, but I'm sure you have Johnathan's grace in close combat."

"Johnny hasn't beaten me yet." Tiffaney said with a grin. "But could you help me out? I'm half buried in snow, and I'm getting cold."

Skorpion smiled, standing up before leaning down to pick her up easily and sling her over his shoulder, He patted her thigh with a chuckle, turning back to the sleigh. "How's this? You're not in the snow any longer, after all..."

"There are ups and downs." Tiffaney said before pressing a handful of snow on the back of Skorpion's neck.

Skorpion twitched, nearly dropping her as he snapped bolt upright. After a few seconds, he twitched again, reaching back with his free hand to scrape the snow off. "Don't... Don't do that. The ports back there aren't waterproof." He moved his hair up and out the way, showing her the array of ethernet and USB ports on the back of his neck.

"Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot about those." Tiffaney said in a genuinely apologetic tone. "Are you okay, dear?"

Skorpion sighed. "I should be once I get the water out of there. Still, at least it's clean; I made sure to keep air traffic away from my cloud."

"Is there something I can do to make it up to you?" Tiffaney asked, looking at him with a concerned expression.

"Not unless you have a hair dryer on you to get the water out." Skorpion shivered again, before setting off back to the sleigh.

Taffaney promptly reached into hammerspace and produced one battery powered hair dryer. "Here you go." She said as she offered it to him from her place on his shoulder.

Skorpion chuckled, rolling his eyes. "Trust a magical girl to have one on hand. Mind using it to get the water out the ports? I can't really reach back there."

"You never know when you'll need one." Tiffaney said with a smile before turning it on to dry the water from his ports.

Skorpion shrugged. "True. I suppose it's better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it." He turned to grin at Tiffaney, not breaking stride as he stepped on the would-be assassin he'd thrown out of the bush earlier. "And I can't really talk, with the amount of guns I tend to keep around just in case they come in handy. I mean, I may never need to stop a power-armoured elephant, but if I DO need to, I have enough explosives to finish the job properly. Never mind that the closest thing TO that is kept on retainer so he doesn't accept any hits on me."

"Exactly!" Tiffaney said, now feeling justified for carrying a wide assortment of emergency hair-care products. "It looks dry to me." She said, moving the hair dryer away to look closer.

"It FEELS dry. No short circuits or anything, nothing sloshing about." Skorpion reached the sleigh, leaning down to deposit Tiffaney back into her seat. "And voila. We have arrived. More sightseeing?"

Tiffaney turned off the hair dryer and deposited it into hammerspace. "That sounds lovely." She said with a smile as she strapped herself in.

Skorpion grinned, bowing to her before taking his seat. With a crack of his imaginary whip, they set off again, this time more gently to avoid the spray of snow. Behind them, the trap in the road exploded, scattering snow across the street.

"That was almost close." Tiffaney said as she looked back to the flurry of snow.

Skorpion nodded. "Almost. But someone doesn't know how easy it is to jam cellphone signals, or just spoof them on command. Or that I have one built in." He winked. "The original smartphone. Now, where were we? Ah, yes..."

---

[THAT MORNING]

'What? Close the school? Are ye nuts? Tha's barely any snow! Back home, they donnae close the schools unless ye literally cannae see fer white. What... Aye, they have schools in scotland, ye...' Lucius sighed. ''Then it's an unauthorised absence for ye. I'll be makin' a run wi' the minibus if anyone needs it... Nae, I'm scottish ye bint, I kin drive on a wee bit o' snow.' Lucius growled at the phone, before hanging up. 'What's WRONG wi' these people? I made it fair well, an' on Nicole tae boot!' He threw his arms up in frustration. 'D'ye ken, laddie? Snow is nae reason tae skip school!'

Cathal shrugged. He hadn't understood a word of ANY of that. "Um. Yeah, snow. Right."

Lucius rolled his eyes. 'English, laddie! D'ye speak it?'

Cathal nodded. "Yeah, I speak English just FINE. I do not, however, speak Scottish, or whatever bear wierdass dialect you're using." He sighed. "I don't think I like Japan if it suddenly freezes and snows in the middle of summer."

'That's nae normal fer Tokyo, laddie. I jus' hope Arella ken make it in tae help teach.' He frowned. 'She's usually good wi' foul weather. Or used tae be, at least. Wibble at the snow 'til it melts, or somethin'.'

Cathal nodded, sighing wistfully. He hoped Arella-sensei would make it in as well.

---

"And this is the c4v3 of 3v1l. Formerly a pile of rubble, formerly the Cave of Evil, before that a smoking crater, and before THAT, the Church of Miho." Skorpion grinned. "The Church used to be the big Mihoist faction around here, until one day it just sort of exploded."

"What made it explode?" Tiffaney asked, tilting her head to the side in curiosity.

"The leading theory is drama. It certainly wasn't me; We didn't even have an airforce back then, let alone enough explosives in one place to level a building." Skorpion shrugged. "Besides, with that much magic around, it was kind of inevitable."

"Magic is like chemistry. Mess with it enough and something is bound to explode, so that's pretty believable." Tiffaney said while nodding.

Skorpion nodded. "Much like with computers, in that respect. I've seen a server melt it's way through a concrete floor before. That does remind me, though. Can you ask Devin to stop North Korea trying to hack me?"

"I could, but he seems rather upset about your attempts at hacking him." Tiffaney said with a cheery smile.

Skorpion shrugged. "I couldn't find the password he gave me, and hacking in sounded easier than finding it again. Consider it a security test. Anyway, onward. The Temple of Ping should be around here somewhere. I'm not entirely sure what happened there, but they sort of died out after the madman with the gundams stabbed their building until it fell down."

"That seems rather unnecessary." Tiffaney said as she looked around for the temple. "Is it a conventional temple?"

Skorpion guided the sleigh down a network of side streets, coming out in a mostly empty lot with a large temple in it, topped with a large tower obviously built from the missing sections of the temple. "Mostly. It was a sanctuary for troubled EDS for a while, then some robotic dragon with a rabbit obsession moved in, built the tower, and just sort of went into hibernation after gathering a self-sustaining population of bunnies."

"Strange..." Tiffaney said as she observed the tower. "Who built the robotic dragon?"

"I have no idea. And I'm not about to go wake it up and ask it where it's from, because dragon." Skorpion shrugged. "All it seems to want is vegetables for the bunnies, the occasional cow, and to be left alone."

"Fair enough... Something just dawned on me. I don't think my kids have seen snow." Tiffaney pondered for a moment. "They've been to Russia, but I don't think it was snowing at the time."

"What, you mean there's a time when it ISN'T snowing in Russia?" Skorpion looked at her, mock-incredulously. "That's like saying the Canadians don't tap maple syrup from underground like oil, or that Americans actually speak English!"

---

[MEANWHILE]

Alexis stood in the lobby of FGTL, staring out into the snow. "Mary, what's that?" She asked as she pointed outside to it.

Mary raised an eyebrow. "That's snow, Alexis. Mostly-frozen water. I'm not sure what it's doing there in July, but I've learned to stop questioning things like that."

Alexis nodded. "It's kinda pretty though." She said, turning back to look at the snow, her tail slowly swaying from side to side.

"That's pretty much the point of it. That, and you can build things with it, and throw it at people." Mary grinned, giggling softly to herself. "D'you want to build a snowman?"

"A snow-what?" Alexis asked, the quote going completely over her head.

"I'll show you. The desk can mind itself for a while." Mary took a small turret from under her desk, setting it on top next to a phone before attaching her grenade launcher to the cradle on top. "Something from your brother that should help with that. Anyway." She stepped out, and led Alexis outside, into the snow.

---

"And here's the bay bridge." Skorpion parked the sleigh on the ice in the harbour, stopping next to a cargo ship locked into the pack. "You probably saw it on your way into the city, but that WAS after a long flight, and from inside the Beast. Visibility out the back wasn't really a priority when building that thing. Anyway!" He waved towards the bridge, which was covered with workers steadily shoveling snow off it into the bay. "One of the few bridges in the world that connects to a tunnel halfway across the gap it's there to bridge, for some reason."

"There's a reason for everything I suppose." Tiffaney asked as she watched the workers shovel snow off the bridge.

"Probably shipping, in this case. They're big on exports, here." Skorpion shrugged, then sighed. "So was I, until they sank my ship. Now I'm out of pocket until Devin gets that seabed recovery vehicle sorted out, and I'm still paying a small army of workers to sit around and do nothing."

"Maybe the small army of workers could help Devvie with the construction." Tiffaney suggested with her pointer finger on her chin.

Skorpion nodded. "And they will, when he gets the designs sorted out. Most of the production can be changed around easily enough, so we're just waiting for his girlfriend to finally understand her homework before he's got time for business." He rolled his eyes. "Teenagers."

"Say what you want, I'm still glad my son finally has a girlfriend!" Tiffaney said excitedly with a big smile. "She's nice, cute, and has my complete approval."

"She's a Mihoist, a mage, and has no grasp of science or technology at all. Although she hasn't been put off by Lucius, so she's at least got that going for her." Skorpion chuckled softly. "Of course, neither have you. Most people just seem to miss there being anything other than a super-powered kitty-eared pervert."

"She may be a mage with no concept of science, but Devvie is a scientist with no concept of magic, so it balances out." Tiffaney said with crossed arms, a nod, and a confident smile.

"There's also the necromancy. Although I would like to borrow that bird of hers sometime, to see if it's effective against the ROUS. Maybe help stop them spreading." Skorpion frowned. "I worry that they'll get out of HQ, and start breeding elsewhere."

"Based on my studies, you have a few years before that happens." Tiffaney said with a smile. "By then we should have a solution."

Skorpion nodded. "Hopefully. You've only been here a short while, and you've already made more progress than my science team has since they first became a problem. THEIR efforts weren't much better than the general consensus of using them for target practice. I can't even sell them as pet food, due to the amount of pollutants in them." He sighed. "I'm beginning to wish I'd never picked up those WMDs. Fun as it was to stick two fingers up at Hans Blix, the ROUS problem makes them problematic. And with the arab spring, everyone lost interest in disarming dictators in exchange for aid." He turned back to look at the city, sighing softly. "But it's better than letting those idiot Arabs get hold of them again. They're dumb enough to actually USE the things."

"Indeed. The ROUS are a problem, but not as much of a problem as all-out nuclear warfare." Tiffaney agreed. "We'll find a way to fix them."

"Oh, the nukes are fine. Nice and stable. It's the chemical weapons I was talking about." Skorpion grinned, stepping out of the sleigh. "And yeah. We should do. All else fails, they can be exotic pets for men with something to prove." He took a few steps, before turning to extend a hand to Tiffaney. "So... Ever danced on the ocean?"

"I can't say I have." Tiffaney said as she accepted his hand with a smile.

Skorpion grinned, twirling her into his arms before dipping her low and leaning down to kiss her. "Neither have I. Let's give it a whirl."

Tiffaney returned the kiss. "Lead on."

---

Skorpion guided the sleigh back to HQ, grinning widely despite the chill in the air. His grin faded as he approached the entrance, however, and he stopped the sleigh carefully. "Why is there an army of snowmen."

"Ph34r my l33t 5n0wm4n 4rmy!!!" Alexis said, her fists raised triumphantly in the air with her tail wagging excitedly, as though she had been waiting for someone to ask that.

---

Summary:
It's snowing. In the middle of summer. What?
Oh, Skorpion did it. That explains everything.
He then picks up Tiffaney, to take her on a sleigh ride.
Since her experiment just exploded.

A month ago: Largoist aircraft seeding the clouds.

Kittyhat. And a sl3igh. Made out of a ricemobile.
Hauled by a 'horse'. That's actually a snowmobile with a horse head.
A wooden one!

A month ago, but a bit later: Steering the cloud with blasts of microwaves from a powersat.

A couple of days later: A fishing boat is hit by the storm.

Picnicking in the snow.
Attempted assassination.
Retaliation.
Distribution of explosives.
Pick that bullet out my coat, would you?
Discussion of the sl33p0v3r.

Weather report: IT'S COLD.

Nothing to stop snow splattering the people in the sl3igh. Whoops.
SNOWBALL FIGHT.
After evicting an assassin.
Super-powered snowballs.
Tiffaney shows off her magical girl skillz.
Skorpion is surprisingly fast for someone so big.
Stealthy, too. Diversion and ambush!
Tiffaney gets the last laugh; snow to the back of Skorp's neck.
Shorting out all the interface ports. Oops.
Emergency hairdryer!

IT'S NAE A SNOW DAY YE NINNIES. I made it in on a motorbike, ye can make it in yer cars. I'll take the bus out if'n I need tae.
Hopefully Arella-sensei will make it in.
Cathal agrees. Even if he has trouble understanding his grandfather.

Sightseeing in the city, because Tiffaney never gets time to.
Old faction buildings, mostly. Some backstory.

Alexis has never seen snow before.
Or Frozen.
Mary takes her outside to build a snowman.

Ever danced on the ocean, Tiffaney?
Neither has Skorp. First time for everything!

PH34R LEXI'S 5N0WM4N 4RMY!
http://overkillgi.deviantart.com/art/Al ... illgi&qo=1
"I heard you like bullets. So i put some bullets, in my bullets, so I can shoot'cha... While I shoot'cha!"
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ArsenalXA4

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Post Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:15 am

Re: (Insert Clever Title Here)

Title: reFormatting Part 2
Location: USS George Washington (CVN-73), Black Site Fukushima, Saitama District
Characters: Brigadier General Michael Rosoft, various SDF officers, USN personnel, Major Jenks Wylder, CW01 Anie Sims (USA, ret), Agent Nicholas MacIntyre, Staff Sergeant Howard Wilks, Carbine, the AIs, and lots of POGs.
Timestamp: One week after ReFormatting Part 1.
Authors: ArsenalXA4 and Oblivion


The G-Dub's Combat Information Center is not typically crowded, even during Combat Systems Training Team briefs when all department heads, Leading Chief Petty Officers, and Leading Petty Officers muster to plan for Battle Stations drills. For now ship's company shared elbow room with both US Army personnel from 1st Cavalry and their opposites from the JGSDF.

"Troop realignment's complete, with aviation assets at Yokota, armor and arty at Gotemba, and Marines at Nerima." Rosoft said, looking over a map with force compositions displayed. "Add in bombers in Guam and Alaska and I'd say we've got everything covered."

"Is that supposed to be funny, General?" one of the SDF colonels asked. Brigadier Rosoft looked up from the map and at the officer.

"Unintentional, I assure you. I meant no offense. Any who, with realignment complete the mission has changed from a Joint Exercise to Counter Insurgency. That means door kicking if need be."

"We would prefer our people do the 'door kicking.'" another colonel remarked, the general picking up his coffee cup and taking a sip.

"Oh, by all means, go ahead, but at the least have a QRF nearby, just in case somethin' goes wrong." he said in return, a petty officer bringing him a printout of orders. "Oh, you boys ain't gonna like this."

"Says here one of the groups in the AOR has nuclear capabilities. Now this is just a cautionary measure but this battle group will be growing by one: a Boomer sub." The SDF officers were muttering amongst themselves.

"Now this might just be the Pentagon bein' paranoid but equal force begets equal force."

"General, we must protest. Can you not operate without such measures in place?" a captain asked.

"We could, but I'd really much rather have that, ahh, security blanket on hand. Call it an insurance policy." The SDF officers muttered among themselves before facing Rosoft.

"We wish to protest this move."

"First, not my call but the Pentagon's, so they're the ones to protest to." he countered. "I'm just a shooter. Second, do you really think you can conduct Counter Insurgency on your own?" None of the officers had anything to say.

"My point. Now, let's get to work."

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

Black Site Fukushima
0922, Lima...


"Gentlemen, I'm aware you're well versed in the M-2 Bradley IFV but since we don't have any you'll have to learn our own AFVs instead." Agent Miner said as she led Lieutenant Crowley, Sergeants Durant and Thomas, and Corporals Valdez, Taylor, and Sterling to where a pair of Chevy Suburbans on lift kits were parked. The vehicles looked fairly unassuming and seemed to be better suited to backroads than a CIA motor pool.

"These are AFVs? Wait, don't answer that. Of course they are. The Company has ways, doesn't it." Lieutenant Crowley said as his men looked the vehicles over.

"Yep. We got a couple of these from GM then sent 'em to Skunk Works to be altered." Miner said as she walked past Corporal Sterling and opened the driver's side door. "State of the art nav systems, uparmored to stand up to 25mm rounds, run flat tires, fuel cells."

"What the hell kind of vehicles are you pushing onto us?" Crowley asked, Sterling and Valdez backing away from the SUVs.

"Hey, that's what it says in the manual. That aside, these are not without weapons. Check it out." Miner opened one of the rear doors and reached in, flipping a switch. The roof opened up and a gun turret with an M-61A3 Vulcan cannon popped up.

"Holy shit, is that VADS?" Durant asked. The Vulcan Air Defense System was a 20mm Gatling cannon mated to a radar array that could be fitted to a trailer or mated to an M-113 Armored Personnel carrier (dubbed the M-163).

"Pretty much. But that's not all." Miner flipped another switch and the rearmost portion of the roof opened, revealing a large, empty space. Another panel on the back where the license plate was flipped open, as did a pair of panels disguised as the rear windows. The space was empty there too.. "You've got space for any configuration of guided missiles. Either four AGM-114L Hellfires, sixteen MIM-92 Stingers in pods, or two Hellfires and eight Stingers. Missile exhaust vents out the back here. And you've also got an option for TOW missiles, four total, so you never have to sacrifice anti-armor capabilities."

"I'm impressed. Tank killer and air defense in one package." Thomas said, looking into the cab of the second vehicle. "Does it have power windows?"

"And a lifetime warranty. Now get in." The soldiers looked at her again. "Hey, Mac says you all need to know how to operate them. Especially Valdez."

"Oh, COME ON! You hit one truck an' ninguna persona te deges olvidar!" Valdez shouted, irate about it.

"Well, you do need to know the roads if we're going to send you back out there." she countered, Valdez shrugging then pulling his helmet on. "Oh, one more thing."

"There's an indicator on the dashboard, a green light."

"I see it. Anything special about it?" Lieutenant Crowley asked as he and Valdez strapped in, Durant mounting up in the gunners seat.

"If it ever goes from green to red, abandon truck and run the fuck away." All movement in and around the trucks stopped.

"What kind of chuckwagon horseshit are you tryinna push on us!" Sergeant Moore shouted.

"It's safe, I promise!" Miner replied. "Look, the manual says when it happens you just let it sit for two, three hours. Then it'll be safe again."

"Hey, I do not want to have Foxtrot Lima Kilo when I get hitched!" Corporal Sterling shouted as he struggled to undo the harness that was his seat belt.

"You'll be fine! I- Wait, what's... Foxtrot Lima Kilo..."

"'Funny Looking Kids.'" Sergeant Thomas said, sitting partway in the gunners position in his truck, his legs dangling out the side. "My brother's a Sea Hawk driver in the Navy, tells me that you never piss off an Aegis ship cuz they can point their SPY radar at you and irradiate you so that when you do have kids they'll have three eyes an' four arms. Sorta like a Chernobyl Shiva."

"That's kinda fucked up. But any way, I don't know all the specifics, just that it can happen after extended periods of operation, so no more than forty hours of operation. Kay? Great." Agent Miner turned her back and started to walk away. Lieutenant Crowley hopped down and followed after her.

"Hey, where are you going? Not gonna join us in possibly endangering our lives?" he asked, grabbing her by the shoulder.

"I'll be there, but via drone. And you guys are gonna be fine." she replied, removing his hand from her person. "Oh, do keep buttoned up. The route you're going through is still heavily irradiated." Crowley was about to say something when he saw Agents MacIntyre and Rockwell approach.

"El-Tee, get your rides in order?" Rockwell asked. He had a lit cigarette hanging out of the corner of his mouth.

"Yeah, but I have concerns since I was informed our route is an irradiated one." he replied.

"There's not a lot that isn't irradiated here. Regular decon is part of the job description." MacIntyre said, a Chinook Chief approaching. The group looked up to see one of the heavy lift choppers flying in with a Lancer slung underneath. "Looks like our new arrival's here. El-Tee, it's best to just get it over with and deal with the cards you're given. If anyone is irradiated or starts to sprout extra bits then you'll be compensated."

"If I get any hospital bills then I want them sent to my ex-wife. She got half of everything. I want her to have half my debt." Crowley said before turning away and walking back to the trucks. Rockwell and MacIntyre looked at each other then back at Crowley's receeding form.

"If I needed any other incentive to not be married that's it." Rockwell said.

"It'll just get in the way of the job." MacIntyre replied. "Miner, you think they'll have the road issues ironed out?"

"So long as Valdez gets it right. They said he hit a pickup truck out there. Or was it the other way around. Any who, whatcha got goin' on, boys? Something fun?" she asked the two agents.

"Gonna take the shooters to the California and start weapons familiarization." Slater replied. "Their records indicate them to be decent shots but that's with Army standard. I wanna give 'em some of the more exotic gear and see what they can do."

"I've got to greet that test pilot. I have a lot of misgivings about it." MacIntyre said, looking at the Chinook Chief as it made it's descent. Someone on the ground was guiding the pilot.

"You have misgivings about a lot of things. Lighten up, Mac." Miner said, giving him a pat on the shoulder. "I'mma let you get to it. Ta ta for now." MacIntire and Rockwell watched her go then looked back at the arriving Lancer.

"New model? Doesn't look like any I've seen." the former Marine said as they walked toward it.

"Looks like a T. rex but I could be wrong. I was Dreaded D before SAD. Lancers weren't part of the job description." Mac said, the helo disengaging transport and reeling in it's equipment. The Lancer appeared to be lacking some armor plating, an enlarged power pack, and was lacking a discernable head. Instead it appeared to have a low profile dome.

"Looks like it. Certainly ain't an aegyptiacus or a magniventris." Slater replied. The MLM-66 Spinosaurus aegyptiacus and MLM-72 Ankylosaurus magniventris were lancers used in the United States Marine Corps. Both were comparable to the Army's T. rex in weight class, the major difference being that they were purpose built for deployment from amphibious assault ships, part of which may involve actually wading ashore on special 'ski kits.' The only drawback is that the kits were built from decommissioned AIM-54C Phoenix missiles, complete with the explosive paylods, meaning that once the pilot and Lancer was ashore the ski kits had to be disengaged and allowed to crash into whatever may be in the way, sort of as way to clear a path in conjunction with Naval Gunfire Support.

The new arrival marched forward, marshalled by one of 15th AI's own pilots and Warrant Officer Sims.

"Out of curiosity how did Mr. Clancy take it, having another 'unauthorized body' on site?" Gunny Rockwell asked.

"He said to clear him and 'wipe him' if it doesn't work out." Mac replied, his radio chirping. "This is Mac."

"Mac, gonna take the green boys to the boat. I need Gunny." Agent Pierce said, standing in the hangar. With him was the entirety (minus Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi and Major Wylder) of 15th Armored infantry. They were clad in fatigues and body armor and had standard weapons with them, M-16s and M-9s. The grenadiers and machine gunners among them also had M-203s and either M-249 SAWs or M-240s.

"Gunny's with me." MacIntyre said, looking at Rockwell.

"So much fun. Hey, if we blow up fish out there I'll see if we can bring 'em back. Have a fish bits fry." Rockwell said as he pat MacIntyre's shoulder then started for the hangar. Mac keyed his radio.

"He's en route to your twenty." he replied, walking to the edge of the tarmac and taking a pack of cigarettes out. "Oh, tell 'Firezone' if he buzzes the plant again then I am using him as a training dummy."

CW02 Chauncy 'Firezone' Maximum was one of their pilots, coming to SAD from 160th Special Operations Air Regiment. He flew MH-60 Pave Hawks and switched to the MH-53X Black Chopper upon being brought into SAD. He was a good pilot but had a nasty reputation for being a thrill seeker. Mac wanted Dr. Rutherford to sit down with him to see if maybe something was wrong in that head of his.

"I'll put Gunny in Firezone's bird. Out." Pierce replied. MacIntyre watched the soldiers file out to the two waiting Black Choppers, the Metal Storm boxes looking out of place on the transport birds. He lit up the cigarette as the two birds lifted off, turning and flying toward the sea. The thunder of their blades was unmistakeable and familiar to anyone who ever worked with them.

"Hey, those can kill you." MacIntyre was startled to find one of the Lancers standing over him.

"How the hell did you sneak up on me?" he asked, the mecha cocking it's head at him.

"Helos are loud and your attention was elsewhere." Dani replied, reaching over and dragging a shipping box over before sitting on it.

"I take it you guys don't get to wander at Fort Hood. No 'free roaming mode?'" he asked.

"Nope. Walk out to the gun range, walk back, lock into the platform at the hangar, lather rinse, repeat, unless there's maintenance to be done." she replied, picking up a rock and peering at a horseshoe crab that was under it. "Funny little things... They're called crabs but I don't see claws."

"Crustaceans don't need to have claws to be crustaceans." Mac replied, taking a drag on his cigarette. "Look at Pill Bugs. Roly-Polys. They don't have claws and they're crustaceans." Dani poked the horseshoe crab, the sea creature hunkering down.

"I see your point. So what's your story? Ran down Agents Pierce and Rockwell, got their life story out of 'em. Need to run down a few others, though." she said, putting the rock back on top of the crab.

"Why are you interested?"

"Big Bot says I should become more approachable toward the meat." MacIntyre cocked his brow at her.

"'Meat?' We're 'meat' to you?" Mac was taken aback by Dani's blatant use of the word meat as a derogatory term.

"Well, yeah. You have soft, dangly bits. Ha-hah! Dangly bits..." Had she been in posession of a mouth she would have grinned and giggled. But she didn't have a mouth. Or a face, for that matter. Four optics arrayed symmetrically on an armored head housing sensor packages, a loudspeaker, and radio antenna do not a face make.

"What are you, four? Seriously, that is kind of a harsh term for humans." Mac pointed out.

"I'm twenty tons of ambulatory death machine! What do you expect when I can bring death via a curtain of Depleted Uranium or by breaking someone down on a molecular level with a high powered force field intended to stop kinetic munitions!" she countered. Mac just looked at her.

"Do not talk to me while I try to enjoy what's left of my cigarette, okay." Mac said, taking a drag on the cancer stick. Dani looked at him then picked the rock up to look at hte horseshoe crab again, her attention on it for all of ten seconds before looking up and around at anything that could entertain her while MacIntyre smoked.

"Hey, Mac."

"Still smoking, don't talk to me!" Dani fidgeted, the sound of hydralics and servomotors audible over the cries of seagulls. She was on the verge of overclocking her processor again when MacIntyre finally finished his cigarette, stubbing it out on his boot sole.

"Now can I-"

"MacIntyre, Wyler, what's your twenty?" Major Wylder asked, his voice carried over the radio. Mac keyed it as he started for the hangars.

"Smoke pit, far side of the tarmac. Whatcha need?" he asked.

"I need you in the hangar to indoc the new pilot."

"Roger that, I'm Oscar Mike." Dani watched MacIntyre leave then clenched her fists.

"YOU WILL TELL ME YOUR ORIGIN STORY IF I HAVE TO BEAT IT OUT OF YOU!" she snarled. Mac picked up his pace, not chancing a look back for fear that she might be there.

Like a thirty foot tall, armor plated Slenderman.

He found the Major standing around with Warrant Officer Sims and the new pilot.

"Major, you've gotta do something about the super prototype. She accosted me and tried to ask me about my 'origin story.'" he said. Jenks furrowed his brow then looked past MacIntyre, spotting Dani smashing the container she had been sitting on.

"I'll ask Dr. Rutherford to sit down with her. That aside, this is Staff Sergeant Howard Wilks, the 'insurance policy' for Carbine's new body." MacIntyre and Wilks exchanged handshakes.

"I'm Agent MacIntyre. I was vehemently opposed to your being here but, as the Major says, you're the insurance policy." he said, being up front with Wilks.

"So I was told. That being the case I got a new model freed up just for the occasion." Wilks said, turning to look at the new machine with him. "They designated it the YLM-3 Lythronax arguestes, after that tyrannosaurid they discovered in Utah."

"Where's the head?" Mac asked, walking around it to get a better look.

"By all means it doesn't have one. Just that dome structure." Anie replied. "There's a planned MECHALT for A3 and A4 models of the Acrocanothosaurus and T. rex that replaces the heads with those structures." Mac waved a hand over his head and made a 'whosh' sound.

"The only thing I know about Lancers is that I don't want to be on the ground fighting them without air support."

"We can discuss that later." Jenks interceeded. "First, we need to introduce Carbine with his new 'friend.'"

"Got him on jack stands." Anie said as they walked to the impromptu machine shop where Carbine was kept.

"Oh, hey, hang on..." Mac walked ahead and stood in Wilks' path. "Do you have a smart phone with you?"

"Yeah, why?"

"I need it. We've got to install a few apps to it." he replied. Wilks looked to the Major who nodded.

"I've never tried to understand the inner workings of the CIA and I will not even attempt to do so." he said as he pulled a Samsung from a hip pocket on his pilot's suit and handed it over. MacIntyre inserted it into a mag pouch on his belt. Anie rolled her eyes as she opened the chainlink gate they had hastily erected, Jenks taking point.

"Carbine, wake up. You've got a visitor." Jenks said to get the AI's attention.

Carbine's eyes light up as he stirred and turned to look at Jenks. "Greeting Major Jenks. I am to assume you are reffering to the leash?"

Wilks started laughing. "So I'm the 'ball an' chain' now! Man, oh man, this is gonna be fun." he said, looking at Carbine.

"Yes, he is the leash." the Major said. "You're being uploaded to an experimental model, one which is testing new technologies out. Anie?"

"Yeah, that bein' the case, you're gonna have a 'killswitch' in case you go off the reservation. It's standard for all machines in testing." Anie said, going to her work bench and opening the top drawer.

"The warning to strip you for spare parts still stands, mutt." MacIntyre cautioned.

"I believe this is the part where Dani would call you a meatbag followed by the word crunch." Carbine quipped to attemt satire.

"You watch it. First sign of insubordination is all it takes. No three strikes, no warnings, straight to the trash compactor." Mac said. He was going to hold to that promise.

"Right... Anie, you ready to begin the upload?" Anie looked up from where she was, trying to untangle multiple cables.

"I might need scissors..."

A slot on Carbine's left hip slid open, he used his tail to retrieve a knife he had stored there and offered it to Anie. "I'm going to want it back when you are done."

"No, no, I'm good, thanks." Anie said as she tugged the USB cables loose. "Apparently there's an algorithm that can be used to predict the millions of ways that cables an' cords can tangle."

"If someone's sittin' down an' doin' that math then they prolly need to live a bit more." Wilks commented, sitting atop a stack of parts boxes. "Yeah, I'll sit down an' do a crossword, but all that math?"

"Shit, ain't my department. Ah, here we go." Anie replied as she pulled a cord loose. "Okay, Carbine, I'm gonna upload you to an AI core. Should take no more than an hour. That good for you?"

"Better question. Do I have a choice?" Carbine asked as he placed the blade back into it's slot. "Whenever you are ready."

"Alright, you're gonna 'go cold' for a bit. A lot of the AIs I've interacted with don't like it." Anie explained as she booted up a work station to begin the process, plugging Carbine into it then typing in a few commands.

For a Lancer 'going cold' is akin to being placed in a chemically induced coma. Such had been observed in older AIs, ones that had been in service for five years or more. None enjoyed the experience and expressed a desire to not have it happen again.

"Miner, Mac, do we have any bodies to spare? I wanna post someone for the AI transfer." Mac said into his radio.

"Wait one. Break, Steiner, what's your twenty?" There was a brief series of beeps before another voice came on the line.

"Miner, Steiner, I'm in the armory. Give me five minutes to finish up here. Where do I need to go?"

"Main hangar."

"Roger that. Out."

"Don't fuck with this one, mutt. Rather, don't give him a reason to scrap you." Mac cautioned.

"I'm going into the AI equivelent of a coma and I need to worry about how you humans 'feel'." Carbine let out a audio recording of a sigh. "I'm starting to think you don't appreciate me."

"I don't trust you." Mac replied. "The only person I really trust here is the Major."

"An' I'm chopped liver." Wilks joked. "Startin' to think you need to lighten up." Mac gripped one of his tonfa batons. Jenks put a hand on Mac's shoulder.

"I'll take first watch. Go blow off some steam." he advised. Mac nodded then turned to leave.

"Okay, initiating transfer. Get ready, Carbine." Anie said, finger hovering over the keyboard.

"Initiating drumroll." Carbine said before he began to play a drumroll through his speakers.

"And... Click!" One keystroke initiated the transfer, data streaming from Carbine to the AI core.

"So, now we jus' wait? Watch an' wait?" Wilks asked.

"Just like the army, Staff Sergeant. We just 'hurry up and wait,' like always." Jenks replied. Wilks sighed and got up, arranging a few crates into a bench.

"I'mma get some winks, if ya don't mind. Kinda jet lagged." he said, laying out and settling in. Jenks walked to Anie's side to watch the data transfer.

"A meme comes to mind." he mused.

"Yeah? Which one?"

"It depicts a download status window that reads '39 years to download' and has the 'Wat' lady seated at a computer." he replied.

"Huh... I heard they mighta found her. Say she's livin' in a home in Tennessee." Anie replied, opening Minesweeper. "You believe it?"

"I'm curious but I won't waste resources better suited to dealing with enemies foreign and domestic than to hunt down the Wat Lady." Jenks said, digging into his pockets and producing a pack of cigarettes as another black fatigue clad agent approached.

"Major, I'm here. Anything I need to know?" GMC Howard Steiner, SAD via SEALs, asked as he entered the machine shop.

"Nothing much. Just call me when the download is done." Jenks said, walking out the gate. "If you need me I'll be in the office." Steiner looked at Anie then at Wilks.

"New arrival's already jet lagged. Can't blame him." he said, pulling up a crate and taking a seat.

"No shit. An' here I thought takin' those trips to Iraquistan were bad."

Carbine awoke two hours after the transfer started. "Systems booted. Warning, incompatible host body detected. Sycronizing... System sycronized. Unauthorized program detected. Deleting humanity extinction protocols... Deleted." Carbine's cockpit closed before the mecha stood. "This body will suffice for the time being." He examines his new hud. "I am not programed to be aware of a pilot, I will adapt." He turned his optics to Convoy who was training a battle rifle on him. "Is this a test?"

"This is a precaution." Convoy replied, lowering the 30mm rifle. "Are your systems operating at optimum efficiency?"

"Negative, this body prevents optimum usage of this unit's AI. I will however, act as efficiency as this shell will allow." Carbine stated, ego playing no part in the statement.

"I ain't about to dispute him." Anie said, poring over the data readouts on her computer. The Lancer was, for all intents and purposes, combat ready. "Major, thoughts?"

"He's under lockdown until it is decided otherwise. How long can the product key remain in place?" Jenks asked, observing Carbine in the Lancer. Convoy approached, placing the rifle in the rotary hanger over his shoulder.

"Indefinitely. Just a matter of keeping the key in place." she said.

"Leash, are you comfortable?" Carbine asked as he obsirved his own body. "Anie, could you fashion a slot for my knife in the cockpit? I still want it."

"I been doin' this for fifteen years." Wilks replied to Carbine. "I feel most comfortable in the cockpit than any where."

"Best I can do is request a bayonet for a rifle. Most melee weapons on Lancers are installed, save for a few hand held ones." Anie explained. Stock machines like the LM-19 Acrocanthosaurus atokenses had a built in laser blade on the left arm. Most of the rest used handheld machetes, beam sabers, or clubs made from girders and anything else found on the battlefield.

Then there was the Grind Nightmare. Six mecha sized chainsaws attached to a work fixture and powerplant and mated to a Lancer as an 'Overkill Weapon.' Chainsaw EX had that one mated to it.

"Would a bayonet be good enough?" Anie asked.

"Negative. For my knife." Carbine pointed to his old body. "I don't care what you outfit this shell with, I merely desire a momento from my real body."

"Yeah, I can do that. Ought to be stowage bins free in there." she said. "Major, you okay with all this?"

"No harm done. I can understand where he's coming from with this request." the Major replied. "Convoy, you can stand down."

"Affirmative." Convoy turned away from Carbine and walked outside of the hangar.

"Thank you." Carbine said solemnly as he continued to observe his lifeless body. "I wasn't in it for long... but it was my home... What will happen to it?"

"We'll keep it in storage. I still want to study it." Anie replied, looking at the lifeless husk. "Maybe I could replicate it after some extensive research."

"High goals." Jenks said, plucking a pack of cigarettes from his pocket.

"Humans take life for granted. If I was alive I would do everything in my power to remain so. I cannot comprehend why humans insist on subjecting themselves to products that are hazardous to their own health." Carbine stated as he turned his optics to Jenks.

"We'll die soon enough. Be it in ten years or ten thousand." he said as he lit up, taking a drag on the cigarette, despite the posted warnings in the hangar. "For some of us there are things worse than lung cancer to die from. And for one of us death is not an option. You'll meet him soon enough."

"Death is inevitable so chase it? Life is wasted on the living." Carbine stated as he returned his attention to his old body.

"Not ever'one. Some people are fatalists. Others ain't got nothin' to lose." Wilk said, checking the screens. "Me, I'm jus' happy t'be alive. Dodgin' IEDs does that to a man."

"Anie, if I'm not needed any further I'd like to get back to my work." Jenks said, turning away from Carbine.

"Yeah, you're good. I'm gonna run some diagnostics here before callin' it a day." she replied, typing in a few commands. Jenks nodded then started for the door.

"Have a good day." Carbine said as Jenks left. "Anie, there has been something about humans that has been bothering me. Why do you fight and kill one another? Are you not the same species?"

"We are. But just because we're all humans doesn't mean we all see eye to eye on things." she replied, begining the diagnostic. "See, there's ideologies, religions, etc. that many subscribe to. Look at the shit in the Middle East. Shia an' Sunni Muslims are, by all means, the same faith, but they differ in one thing. I don't really remember what it is exactly, just that it is part of the cause of sectarian violence there."

"Shit, I don' ever wanna set foot in Iraquistan again." Wilk said. "Too many good friends blown up."

"There are many barriers that hinder the unification of humanity. Why do you not unify under one dominant language, or simply tolerate the religious choices of others, share resources for the common good... So many simple solutions to problems that have been plaguing your species for thousands of years." Carbine made a sound that sounded like a slightly auto tuned sigh. "Regardless, thank you for your imput."

"Hey, if the AI Weapons Platform gig don't do it for ya maybe ya could land a gig as a philosophizer." Wilks joked. "Seriously, I like your style. Always got somethin' int'restin' to say."

"I'm kinda glad they picked him up. I really do wanna meet his creator." Anie said, stepping away from the computer and picking up a water bottle. "Okay, Carbine, I think we're done for the day. Wish we could let you free roam but Mac won't allow it."

"I have gone this long without the gift of mobility. I can wait." Carbine said as he kneeled and opened the cockpit, using his hand to form a platform in front of it. "Sleep well."

Wilks made sure the Override key was firmly in place before unbuckling his harness and disengaging the biometrics to his suit. He climbed out and hopped down, first onto the hand then to the ground.

"General Dynamics will get a lot of data from whatever we get to use this machine for. Anything they can use to improve the current series of combat mecha an' protect lives." Anie said, finishing the diagnostic then shutting it down.

---

Several hours later the two Black Choppers with 15th AI's shooters returned, the helos landing under Georgi's watchful gaze. The shock Lancer stood by, Avenger cannon in hand. The helos wound down their engines before lowering the rear ramps, the soldiers filing out.

"Okay, quick review: What have we learned today?" Gunny Rockwell asked, turning and backpedalling away from one of the peculiar helos.

"Pash has no sea legs." Corporal Hannigan replied. PFC Pash had to be helped off the helo by Hayden and looked a shade of green commonly associated with avocado and vomit.

A very good reason why one of the authors of this post avoids avocado and guacamole like the plague, despite his Mexican heritage.

And so the OOC Monster returns and is pointed to roofing tar in a neighbor's backyard, just like the last time.

"Okay, that's a start. What else?"

"La Pointe should not be given any rocket launcher other than an AT-4." Corporal Sharde said, everyone giving La Pointe the stink eye.

"What? I tried to tell the Gunny!" he said, attempting to defend himself. During Mech Killer school there was an accident involving a live M-72 LAW where La Pointe had aimed the wrong end at a target and wound up toppling an observation tower. He did this no less than three times before it was decided to give him something with a discernable front end.

"S'a good start. At least no one died." Pierce said to Gunny.

"Better than nothing. Alright, get your weapons cleaned and returned to the armory. We're going back out tomorrow for some of the more exotic guns. Some fun stuff that may or may not involve caseless ammunition and/or direct energy weapons. Don't ask me how we have them." he beamed.

"Platoon, attention!" Khukov called out. "Dismissed. La Pointe, I want to have a few choice words with you." La Pointe receeded, trying to hide behind Petro SWAT Officer.

"No, you face your fate like a man, bro!" the corporal said, not wanting to stand between the First Sergeant and the target of his ire. The soldiers not being chewed out by the platoon's shaved bear filed into the hangar and past Brawl and Carbine, Barrage stepping in and setting his Vulcans on the deck.

"Hey, they got you a new body! Alright!" he observed, taking a knee. "Feel different from being a quadruped?"

"Indeed. I feel as though my mobility has been significantly impared, which by all means, it has." Carbine responded as he updated the AI core to better suit him. "This thing tried to upload a subroutine to exterminate humanity."

"Ha-hah, you're crazy... Tell 'im, Brawl." Barrage said, turning his head to look at the tank like. The optics array in the head lit up before the turbine engines in the chassis started spinning up.

"Huh? Tell who wat now?" the tank-like asked, having been 'asleep' since he was parked in the hangar.

"Our new friend, Carbine, says we've got a subroutine for exterminating humanity." Barrage replied. Brawl looked at Carbine then at Barrage and back.

"You're crazy. There's no suchmustnotspekofINITIATIVE subroutine."

"Yeah, mustwatchthisone,forthegreatergood that's crazy talk."

"I deleted it." Carbine stated plainly. "It provided no benifit for my operation."

"Yeah, he must be crazy CRZZZZ,mustreporttohigherorder. Gotta be a kink in the system somewhere." Barrage joked as Georgi made his way into the hangar.

"Yeah. Ain't never heard ordermustbemaintained of that before. Is it like... Umm... What's that one meat's name? The conspiracy theorist with a radio show?" Brawl wasn't sure who he was talking about, just that he had an idea of who it might be.

"Alex Jones. He is an idiot." Georgi said as he set the Avenger cannon down and took a knee, favoring the right. On his left shin was a large plate of armor, fitted with Explosive Reactive Armor and reinforced for using Ready Position weapons. "He believed the tornados that ravaged Joplin, Missouri were being controlled by, wait for it, Black Helicopters. Barrage and Georgi looked over their shoulders at the two MH-53X Black Choppers, ground crewmen beginning to service the aircraft.

"Yeah, that's it!" Brawl pointed at Carbine. "You're Alex Jones now!"

"I have been designated as Carbine, and I request that my designated name remain unchanged. As for my AI it has no kinks." Carbine said as he connected to the internet and began playing an online chess game.

"Nope, you're Alex Jones to me now. JONES!" Brawl announced.

"JONES!" Barrage seconded. Georgi shook his head.

"You two are idiots. I would say it reflects your pilots but, for Barrage, his pilot is still very much an FNG." the Shock weapon said. "As for Brawl, he has a three man crew, which could account for his seemingly slow processor speed. He cannot decide which crew member to emulate."

"That's not true! I jus' feel it best to keep it stupid, simple!" Brawl countered, not exactly helping his own defense.

"I rest my case..." Georgi mused.

"So you're basically your pilots in AI format?" Carbine asked as he examined the group. "I was under the assumption you were your own entities before having a pilot."

"I honestly cannot answer that question as it is beyond my own experience." Gerogi admitted, the door from the dormitory/barracks opening into the hangar. "I am a weapons platform, pure and simple. Philosophical and existential debates are beyond me, but if you wish to delve into that further the person to ask is over ther." Georgi raised his arm and pointed at Dr. Rutherford, the psychologist standing next to Dr. Burke.

"What a waste. You have the ability to learn and are self aware, yet you do not ask why." Carbine said as he continued to compile data on everyone in the hanger. "You could become so much more than a mere weapons platform who's subject to obeying without question or choice."

"Because their agorithms dont quite work that way." Dr. Rutherford said. "Yes, they are learning computers. Yes, they can emulate their pilots. However that is their purpose, their primary function. The only exception to the rule is Dani and that's because she want formed like the others."

"And we're off..." Dr. Burke muttered, looking about and spotting a mechanic's chair. He retrived it and rolled it over.

"These AIs are developed over a period of a least nin months until they can be considerd sentient, however even after tha they still have to be further eveloped." she continued. "Tactical movements, Order of Battle, formations, weapons calibrations, etc. There's hardly room for developing anything other than what they designed for."

"Except the older ones." Burke chimed in.

"If my data s correct; excluding waiting on parts shipments... I was constructed in approximately two weeks worth of man hours." Carbine informed after checking his memory. "But what do you mean older ones?"

"AIs older than five years are conidered more of their own individual than at the start. It's led to a conundrum when it comes to how to treat them after the pilot EASes or, worst case scenario, dies while enlisted." she replied.

"Doc, don't say that..." Barrage moaned. "What am I s'posed to do if Pash dies?"

"Well, the only thing they can do is wipe your memory, initate a factory reset, then issue you to another pilot."

"Right... Okay..." Barrage said, collecting his Vulcans then rising. "I'm... going back out... on patrol... yeah..."

"Carbine, Barrage is barely three years old." Georgi said.

"Compare him to our shock weapon. Georgi is nearng eleven years, long enough to be considered an individual by SDI standards." Dr. Rutherford said, pacing between Carbine and Georgi. "But he is a Shock Weapon."

"And good at it. Wish we had things like him when Tet went down." Burke added.

"And what of I? I am hardly over a month old. Am I not an individual by your standards? And if I am; is this justified?" Carbine asked, his optics focusing on Rutherford. "Do you see me as a mere machine? Built to serve a purpose, then be terminated and replaced with future models?"

"To me you are like Dani: unique in your sentience." she replied, lookin up at him. "I'd really like to sit down and chat with you. I'm sure you won't be as hostile toward me as she is."

"So far I see little reason to act hostilly towards you... So be it." Carbine said with brief contemplation.

"Good. Perhaps I could pencil you in for later this afternoon. I've an appointment with one of the soldiers, but after that I'll be free." she said, taking a notepad out of her pocket and flipping the pages. "So exciting!"

"For you, maybe. What I see is a whole lot more people who prolly shouldn't even know abut this place, this Black Site." Burke said, rising and stretching. "OPSEC is compromised as
is but it's gonna be worse now."

"How so? I'm a mere captive. One who will be presumably put into battle at figurative gun point."

"Not because of you. I mean because there's four machines here that Anie can service on her own because she's a Tech Rep for General Dynamics." Burke replied, fishing a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket. "Lancers are maintenance intensive. We'll need mechanics from Lockheed Martin and ArmsTek Warfare Systems if we want to keep you guys going. Then there's the parts... Repair parts don't exactly grow on trees. Nor does ammunition or weapons."

"Sounds like the result of being part of a military. Complaining about a need to keep your war machines active seems unnecissary. Lives cost bullets, bullets cost money; a simple fact of war."

"Fifteenth Armored Infantry isn't military anymore. It's a CIA asset now." Burke said as he lit up, despite the posted warnings. "The Company has a fuckload of it's own resources but to maintain combat mecha? Oh no, that is beyond their ample resources. It's MACV-SOG all over again, but smaller."

"He's right." Georgi said. "Half of us will be due for overhauls soon. I have parts and electrical components coming upon their maintenance dates."

"SDI has its own stores but those are all experimental gear for testing purposes. I wouldn't trust it in an actual combat zone. Except Dani, but that's because we made that machine to be fit for combat out of the gate." Burke said after taking a long drag of the cigarette. "MacIntyre is going to bitch about it. But he is going to have to either compromise or gundeck maintenance."

"This shell will work for practical engagements. It's a shame it cannot be used to repair my body." Carbine said as he shifted his optics back to his origional body.

"Thems the breaks." Burke said, putting the cigarette out on his boot sole. "I do understand where you're coming from, to a point. Oh, one more thing."

"If they do deploy you and if you do wind up in combat, is there anything that might hinder you?"

"There are several individuals who I am programed not to attack, also if I am to discover any BGR assets I am to treat them as hostile and destroy them if possable. Also my creator can override my AI. If I meet him, my loyalties are not guaranteed to lay in your favor."Carbine stated factually.

Burke was silent.

"Did you say 'BGR'?" he asked, walking toward Carbine.

"Indeed. Are you among their personel?" Carbine asked as he created a Twitter account.

"No... I'm a Strategic Defense Initiatie geneticist who was part of the researchers that voted to do our own work instead of relying on the Mengele esque operations of BGR." Burke replied, taking the pack of cigarettes out again and lighting up anew. "We had a candidate list. They wanted to take people off the streets." Dr. Rutherford watched him approach a phone on the wall.

"Burke, is there something we should know?" she asked as he picked up the handset and dialed a number.

"A lot. It's part of why we started and ended N.O.M. with Captain Ramirez-Kisaragi." he said, waiting as the phone rang. "Of course we never got that far, the upgrades are sitting in storage in my office at Los Alamos. He might need them, but first..."

"Wylder." Major Wylder said as he answered.

"Major, Carbine needs to be debrifed, ten minutes ago. He just dropped some intel that may be critical."

"Define 'critical.'" Jenks said.

"Critcal as in SDI wasn't the only one working on deveoping super soldiers, except they were taking people willy nilly instead of using soldiers. That sort of critical, like the plot of a bad cyberpunk drama critcal. The shit you read about on bad fiction sites wile awake at zero dark thirty because insomnia kicked in. That sort of shit, sir." Burke finished, taking a very long drag on his second cigarette.

"Alright, alright, I'll get Mac and Miner. Doc, is it possible they may have fielded their own Land Warriors?" Jenks asked.

"Fuck if I know, sir. We have to presume so. Rogue or not, we have to presume there are."

"Right. What's your twenty?"

"Lancer hangar. I'm here with Dr. Rutherford."

"She stays to take notes. I'm Oscar Mike. Out." Burke hung up the phone then lit up a third cigarette.

"Carbine, you have opened quite a can of worms. One I had hoped we, SDI, sealed." Burke said, walking to the chair he dragged out and plopping down on it.

"One that I was programmed to destroy if possible." Carbine stated as he watched Burke. "Don't be surprised if you find an abnormal ammount of black ink between what you learned today and the full truth."

"Carbine, most of my Naval records are sealed. I'll be surprised to find something I didn't already know."

"Hey, does this mean we're in somethin big?" Brawl asked.

"Yes. Something very big." Georgi replied.

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

Eikichi ran along an alley, keeping a brisk pace. He wasn't doing so in order to pace himself but to allow the computer grafted to his brain the time to update it's maps for navigation. Yet another feature that separated him from run of the mill First Lieutenants when he was first altered. In combat navigation problems tend to tumble to the bottom of the priority list. For a Land Warrior they are never a problem.

Ei rounded a corner, coming to a street. There weren't a lot of people out at this early hour. Then again it was a weekend and most people would be home, sleeping in. At least in America they would. He had no idea how Saturdays were treated in Japan. Forty minutes later he was back at Cousin Ayane's, Shigeru stepping out the front door in a clean, pressed uniform.

<"Duty weekend?"> Ei asked as he did a few cool down stretches.

<"Yeah. My boss is a real monster of an officer, you know that?"> Lieutenant Kusanagi said as he walked out to his car.

<"Burke says that kind of person would've woken up with a claymore mine or a frag on his cot in 'Nam."> Ei replied, touching his toes. <"What kind of sick man calls his work center in on a Saturday? Other than the obvious, of course.">

<"Major Watanabe, of course. From what I've heard of your Major Wylder I'd rather be in your platoon. Well, I'm off."> Kusanagi said, getting into his car and starting it. Ei waved as his cousin-in-law pulled out and drove to Nerima. Upon entering the house he took his running shoes and socks off, sitting down to inspect his toes.

Superior soldier or not, that hangnail is still there and it's bothering me. Ei got to his feet and went to the living room where his bedroll was. The house was small by American standards, which was understandable considering that space is rather lacking in the island nation. Hell, his room growing up was bigger than his cousin's living room and he shared that with his younger brother.

<"Oh, you're back. Did you see Shigeru off?"> Ayane asked as she entered the living room. She had a laundry basket with bedsheets in it.

<"Yeah. Honestly, I live on base. At Fort Hood, I mean. It's cheaper that way."> he replied, pulling his Blackwater hoodie off. His t-shirt was soaked with sweat. Ayane picked the hoodie and his socks up, depositing them in the laundry basket.

<"What's it like? Texas, I mean. Shigeru's gone to Washington state for joint exercises. He says it's like here, but colder."> she mused, sitting across from Ei as he gathered his toiletries.

<"The polar opposite of Saitama. I mean, you've got marshes in the East, rolling plains in Central Texas and the Panhandle in the North, mountains in the West and along the border with Mexico, beautiful beaches on the Gulf Coast, and all manner of weather patterns that makes you wonder why God hates you so."> he replied, peeling the shirt off and handing it over. <"The heat is oppressive, though nothing compared to Iraq and Afghanistan. You get maybe a few days of comfortable weather before the extremes set in and you begin wondering why a loving God hates you so."> Ayane laughed.

<"Maybe one of these days we can visit. Dallas, right?">

<"Yeah. I was deployed when Ike tore Galveston apart. Got sent home on emergency leave because I hadn't heard a word from mom or dad."> Ei replied. The family had been forced to relocate, not just the home but the restaurant as a whole. Hayden helped raise the money to get them back on their feet in the new Dallas location. Business was slow at first but picked up like nothing had happened in very short order. <"I'm gonna grab a shower. Err, bath... Or... yeah, going to scrub down..."> Ayane stepped aside as Ei went to bathe the grime from his run away.

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

Summary
-Interaction between Brigadier Rosoft and SDF Officers.
-A Boomer is joining the battle group.
-Talk of Door Kicking is brought up.
-Meanwhile at Black Site Fukushima, Bradley crews get new wheels.
-More than meets the eye and bristling with weapons.
-Also possibly dangerous.
-Drive time!
-Test Model inbound.
-Gunny and Mac have no mecha experience.
-Gunny goes to take the shooters shooting, Mac goes to smoke.
-Waylaid by Dani.
-Discussion with a psycho AI.
-Dani demands an origin story.
-Mac meets the 'Insurance Policy.'
-Carbine meets the 'Insurance Policy.'
-Carbine is transferred from his body to an AI core.
-Arise Lancer Carbine. Or not...
-Shooters return from the gunshoot.
-La Pointe can't even launch an RPG right.
-Platoon dispersed.
-La Point talks to Brawl and Barrage.
-Subroutines and Skynet.
-Georgi has joined the chat.
-Carbine poses a deep question.
-Dr. Rutherford has joined the chat.
-Dr. Burke has joined the chat.
-Further discussion.
-Carbine drops a bombshell.
-Burke is perturbed and dials Jenks.
-Possible intel bombshell.
-Ei on a morning run.
-Ei talks to his cousins.
-Ei must shower.
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DarkTan

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Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 11:14 pm

Post Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:39 pm

Playing Catch Up or I need an Editor

DarTan: The Unspeakable Cook.
Katrina: Bitch, She Eats People
Mimi: Varying Shades of Gray and A Concerning Amount of Red.
Ahab: Hail, Huntsmaster.
Stone: His Rap Sheet Is Better Than Wrapping Papper.
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Skorpynekomimi

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Posts: 96

Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2014 3:06 pm

Post Sat Jan 24, 2015 8:00 pm

Re: (Insert Clever Title Here)

Just another day at the office...
Location: FGTL HQ, Various.
Characters: Skorpion, Rosa
Authors: Skorpy, Darktan
Timestamp: Just after the Sl3igh Ride.


---

"Pfff anti-tank guns," Rosa muttered as she tugged open the door to the FGTL's HQ and shook snow off of her, "Puta madre it's cold." The hispanic elf girl looked up at the catgirl behind the desk, "Does it always do this?"

Mary shook her head. "Not usually in July, no. Wrong time of year for snow, but it just suddenly blew in last week. Skorp's had people seeding and steering clouds since winter, but I didn't know it would lead to... To THIS." She gestured out the door, shivering. "But please, come in. Shut the door. PLEASE shut the door."

Rosa quickly obliged, slamming the door against the oncoming cold. "Speaking of the resident mad engineer...I'm here to see him," she hung her coat on a conviently placed mounted machine gun, "Is he in?"

Mary nodded. "Indeed he is. I'll have him come get you. Want a cookie while you wait?" She gestured to the plate on her desk, smiling brightly.

"Thankyou~" Rosa accepted the cookie and took a seat as she nibbled on the pastry, "These are really good."

Mary nodded. "Thank you. I've been working on the recipe for a few years now, assisted with the various ingredients we get imported here. I found this stuff that's like liquid sugar, but..." She was interrupted by the elevator door opening with a chime, revealing Johnathan. He paused briefly to take a cookie on his way out the door, eyes still fixed on the tablet he was reading from.

Rosa noticed the tablet reading wolfboy and waved, then waved a little more animatedly, then sulked a little as the door closed behind him. "Absorbed in his reading isn't he?" she asked Mary.

Mary nodded. "He's very focused on the job. Admirable, but a bit rude." She sighed softly. "Pretty, though. At least once you learn to tell him from his sister when they're not wandering around armed." She looked up as the door pinged again, revealing Skorpion in full armour, carrying his BFG over one shoulder, and a bag of rockets dangling on a strap from the other.

Skorpion nodded to Mary as he stepped in, the door staying open behind him. "Thank you, Mary. Now..." He turned to Rosa, smiling and extending a hand to her. "Rosa. So nice to see you again."

Rosa froze for a second as she suppressed a fangirlish squee before standing up and accepting his hand. "S-si, I've got the report you wanted."

Skorpion nodded, before bending down, kissing the back of her hand softly before releasing it. . "Good. It'll have to wait, though; something came up, and I have to get to work. However, if you want to come with, you can explain it on the way." He turned, heading back to the lift. "You'll need a weapon; I have plenty if you don't have one."

"All i have on me is a .380," Rosa replied as she fell in step behind him, "Six in the mag, one in the chamber and an extra mag."

"What, that's it?" Skorpion sighed. "That's not going to be enough. Not enough bullets, either. I have a modified Jackhammer in the car, you can borrow that. Should be a bag of rounds for it as well." He led her back into the lift, the doors shutting just before it started to drop rapidly.

"Jackhammer? I thought those were only prototypes?" Rosa very nearly bounced at the prospect of playing with a new toy and riding in the fabled Beast. It was a lucky thing she hadn't bounced; with the speed of the lift, she would have most likely exited the conveyance.

"Were. Past tense." Skorpion grinned proudly. "I tracked down the creator, and bought the rights, the prototypes, and the plans off him. Then, since he was living in a trailer park, gave him a job in weapons development." Skorpion stepped out of the lift as the doors opened again, starting to weave his way through the chaotic mass of vehicles. Above them, a tank turret dangled from the crane while engineers swarmed over the chassis it had been taken from. Passing a variety of soviet, western, and Largoist designed vehicles, Skorpion finally approached the Beast, which was settled down on it's suspension in front of the exit ramp. "We're hitting up an office building downtown. Someone's late on their protection money."

"Eh?" Rosa looked at him skeptically, "You're not into that too are you?"

"What, protection rackets? Nah." Skorpion waved a hand dismissively as he climbed into the driver's seat. "They stopped paying the Yakuza, now they're contracting us to protect them from the mob. We offer protection contracts, but we don't operate rackets like the mafia do. We actually protect places. Besides." Skorpion grinned viciously. "I have a bone to pick with the local Yakuza anyway. Bastards had someone from ORAZ steal from me, so I'm wrecking their operations until they give it back."

"Ohh, sounds like fun!" Rosa nodded in agreement and then stopped mid-nod, "Wait, from ORAZ?" her expression was a misture of shock and unbelief. One could had told her there was chocolate on Uranus and they would have recieved a similar expression.

Skorpion nodded. "Although I think he won't be ORAZ for long. Hop in, I'll explain on the way."

Rosa did so and buckled her self in on the passenger seat, "This thing is huge."

Skorpion nodded. "Has to be; no other way to fit and counterbalance the engine. Plus, I wanted to carry a full squad and a pallet of cargo with me. No use chasing down supercars if you can't apprehend the driver after you pull them out the wreckage." He jabbed the big red button in the center of the dash, and the engine cranked to life with a roar, buffeting the vehicles around with the exhaust.

Rosa voiced her understanding with a voice that sounded like it was spoken through a fan due to the engine.

Skorpion chuckled, flooring the throttle and sending the vehicle down the tunnel like a rocket.

---

"So, I told him that since he shot Kat, and tazed Arella, that I was going to take his arm. Then the building started collapsing around us, and he escaped." Skorpion pulled up in front of an office building, unremarkable except for the BMP parked in front of it, and the smoke billowing from a few upper windows. "Ah, we're here."

"That doesn't look good," Rosa noted at the sight of the smoke as she exited the mostrous vehicle, shotgun in hand.

Skorpion looked up at it, and sniffed. "Office furniture, cabling, fire-retardant foam. Probably a warning more than anything else, or else someone took potshots at the building." He dismounted after Rosa, hefting his BFG as he approached the tracked vehicle parked blocking the street. "I'm here, you can go in now."

A hand rose from a hatch on the turret, before giving a thumbs-up. This was followed by the vehicle lurching into motion and crashing into the front of the building. Rubble and dust crashed out into the street, accompanied by a series of small explosions and a pair of large ones. A few seconds later, the BMP reversed out of the building; the grey camoflage scheme covered in cement dust.

Skorpion grinned, reaching back into the Beast and retrieving a box from inside and handing it to Rosa. "Here. It's already loaded, spare magazines are in the box with it. They're colour-coded, so don't use the orange ones indoors."

"Whats the orange?" Rosa asked as she checked the round already chambered.

"Incendeary. Napalm and thermite, with a hint of white phosphorous. Nasty stuff; ignites on contact, burns through armour, and water only makes it worse." Skorpion grinned. "I use it for disabling cars. Also, be careful where you fire the green ones; they're flechette rounds. Go right through walls."

"Don't want to hit the clients," Rosa mused, "How about slugs? We'll just use those."

"Purple and pink, for steel penetrators and lead respectively. Buckshot is red, the yellow ones are tungsten buckshot that'll go clean through a car, and black are rocket-propelled explosive penetrators. They'll go through the wall of the next building over, then explode." Skorpion counted off on his fingers as he read them off. "Oh, and breaching rounds are blue, should we encounter a wall that doesn't have the structural integrity of cheese."

"Okay," Rosa nodded, swapped out for pink shells and loaded one in the chamber, "After you."

Skorpion grinned widely and lead on, stepping on a fallen yakuza lookout as he headed through the hole in the wall. As he stepped inside, the elevator pinged; the door opening to reveal a machinegun on a tripod, with a smartphone attached to the top. The phone beeped as it spotted him, and the gun opened fire. Skorpion's response was swift; ignoring the bullets and spraying the area with his BFG. A couple of seconds of twin-barreled 23mm cannon fire later, the elevator was perforated with bulletholes and shrapnel, with the phone punched by one dead center on the camera.

"So...stairs?" Rosa asked and gestured to the stairwell to the right of them.

Skorpion nodded, tugging a crossbow from his jacket as he headed for the stairs. "To hell with climbing the stairs, though. Ain't nobody got time fo' dat." Once in the stairwell, he took careful aim and fired upwards. The bolt shot upwards, trailing a cable, before contacting the ceiling and firing a piton in to secure itself. As the dust and concrete chips settled, he gave the cable a solid tug to make sure it was secure. "If you've broken the lift, make one. That's what I always say."

"I don't think the shotty will do that," Rosa looked up where the cable was secured.

"Nope." Skorpion clamped a small motor onto the cable, and held an arm out to Rosa. "You can either walk, like a peasant, and possibly be shot at on every floor, or you can accept a lift, and ride up there in style."

Rosa did her best to supress another fangirlish squee as she took his arm.

Skorpion tugged her close as he activated the motor, hauling them upwards. A short ride later, and they were dangling a few feet from the ceiling, next to a railing. A few swings, and Skorpion swung them far enough to stand on the railing; perfectly balanced despite the weight of guns, armour, and super-soldier.

"Dios mio, one of hell of a railing," Rosa noted, "And that was fun!"

Skorpion nodded, reaching out to set her down on the floor as the railing started to bend. "Physics? Bitch, I'm a Largoist." He stepped off the railing after her, as it started to shed concrete from around the base.

Rosa turned in time to see the railing give way and clatter down the stair well, "So, which ones are we not shooting?"

"The ones that..." Skorpion trailed off; realising that Rosa didn't have IFF. "Basically, if they're armed, they're fair game. If they're screaming and cowering, just tape them and leave them."

"Okay," Rosa said and snapped the shotgun up to drop a man with an outlandish pompador and a handgun, "Not a lot of recoil."

Skorpion nodded, swinging his BFG up to chew a hole in an office wall, exposing and exploding a pair of suited men with fauxhawks and Uzis. "Floating barrel. Makes them great for use in anti-missile systems for vehicles, if you convert them to a belt feed."

Rosa nodded with appreciation, "So how many are we looking at here?" She fired on another pistol weilding yakuza.

"According to intel 'oh god they've everywhere', so I'm guessing a lot. Either way, we just need to find the guy with the fanciest outfit and the stupidest hair, and deal with him." Skorpion turned to engage a mook charging from the side, smacking him with the BFG's barrels before kicking his knee out. "Probably in the biggest office, knowing these guys." He started off for the other end of the cube farm, turning occasionally to blast holes in walls and mooks.

"Wait...worse than the exaggerated Elvis back there?" Rosa jerked her thumb back to the first guy before ducking as a sword came through the wall. She turned and fired three rounds through the dry wall and was rewarded with a scream. "Good thing I'm short."

"That was restrained by Yakuza standards. They get FAR worse, trust me." Skorpion bent to flip over a desk, before leaning down to duct tape the wrists of the salaryman using it as a hiding place. "And yeah; if you weren't, you would be now. And significantly lighter." He reached over, propping the BFG on a cubicle wall to send a few rounds through the wall Rosa had been attacked through. "Damn cheap materials, though."

"Yeah, back home is a lot more sturdy," Rosa said as she took aim at a man running towards her, she lowered the weapon when she saw he wasn't armed and stepped back to trip him. "There everything is solid concrete, well mostly. Stuff like this would be." She look around and spotted a tape dispensor on a nearby desk and wrapped the man hands and ankles.

"Well, this is Tokyo. You can't have anything too heavy falling down when Godzilla comes back to town, or someone hurls a giant turtle through the block." Skorpion fired a burst through a window for emphasis, knocking chunks from the building next door. "Then, you've just got office buildings in general. All the structure's in the middle or under the floors."

"Or just build 'em so they don't fall down?" Rosa suggested.

"That would be tempting fate. And besides, there's always a bigger monster or mech around to knock it down." Skorpion caught a charging mook as he stood up, bashing him against the ceiling to disarm him before throwing him out a window. "Also, if you see any fallen weapons, try and put them in an open area. The guys downstairs are going to sweep through and loot them after we're done."

Rosa nodded and kicked a few weapons out in to the rapidly expanding hallway. "Strange city this one," she muttered to herself, before leaning back to miss the outstreched hand of another thug. However she didn't lean quite far enough back and the hand landed firmly on her breast. There was a moment of shock and confusion during which the hand gave an experimental squeeze and a face leaned out to join it. The barrel of the jackhammer was thrust against his teeth, knocking him off balance as a tirade of very angry Spanish was directed at him. He was lucky Rosa wanted to walk and talk as she accidentaly pushed him over a railing and down another flight of stairs. There was a posibility he would at least live his days paralyzed, but his right hand would always feel her. Phantom pain was funny that way.

Skorpion paused, eyebrows raised. "Well, dayum girl. Where'd you learn to swear like that? I don't even have translations for some of those..."

"That was probably Maya then," the elf replied with a hurmph, "And he should have kept his hands to himself."

Skorpion nodded in agreement. "If it'd help you feel better, I could amputate them for you."

Rosa looked at the crumpled form a few floors down, "I think the fall broke his neck...but he's still smiling!" She hurled a red Swingline stapler at him.

Skorpion shrugged, and continued up towards the office at the end of the floor. Halfway there, he was interrupted by a bulky form crashing through the wall of a smaller office, charging at him through the cubicles. "And there's the first brute. This is EXACTLY why you do your research before stepping into anywhere." He turned, spraying the aforementioned brute with fire.

"Feo," Rosa muttered before reloading the shotgun, this time with buckshot, "Many more of them?"

"Should be a few, but they've locked down the whole building." There was an explosion from further down the building, and the floor shook. "And the guys are carrying LAWs just for that." He grinned, stepping over the remains of the brute to continue on his way.

"Bueno," Rosa nodded and followed him over the brute.

"Anyway." Skorpion tripped another charging yakuza, before disarming another by blowing his arm off with a cannon shell. "How is the latest batch of migrants settling in over there?"

"Everything beens smooth since Ahab dealt with the smuggler problem," Rosa responded, "The school and hospital are really happy with the teachers and nurses that came over. The ER could use another doctor if you've got one though," she casually opened fire on three charging yakuza.

Skorpion nodded, turning to take out a pair providing covering fire for the charge, firing through their cover to get at them. "I'll ask Lola, see if there's anyone qualified ready to go. In the meantime, we can fly our new doctor out to you for emergencies. She's very talented, and has experience with metahumans to boot."

"Thats good," Rosa paused, "Wait, she's not a mad scientest or anything right?" the elf girl picked up a flashbang from a body and chucked it into the next room. Two yakuza and a hostage fell to the ground as the grenade detonated. She drew her .380 to take care of the thugs, taping up the salaryman when she'd finished with them.

"I wouldn't say 'mad', just... Unconventional." Skorpion grinned, scanning a room on the other side for hostiles, before taping the office ladies hiding behind the desks. "It's not like she goes around creating super-soldiers, or furthering evil plots." He paused as he cleared a supply cupboard with a frag grenade. "At least, not anymore."

Rosa gave him a look and crossed her arms, "Are you sure? She is a Largoists now right?"

"Oh, of course! I just hired her out from under DARPA, as well as the super-soldiers she created and raised." Skorpion winked to Rosa as he exited the office. "Gotta get one up on the US. One of her projects/kids washed up on my doorstep after being rescued from prohuman thugs, so I found her and the rest of the project as well."

"Interesting," Rosa said, "What can they do?"

"Specialised roles, so there's a ranged weapon specialist, a close combat specialist, a medic, an infiltrator, and a hacker, in addition to the good doctor herself. All except the hacker are Largoists now, and he's working with us for a promise of revenge." Skorpion grinned. "Having the largest arms manufacturing operation in Japan has it's merits."

"Infiltrator?" Rosa asked with a questioning look on her face.

"Infiltrator. Spy. Think James Bond as a catgirl, and you're pretty much there. I've got her keeping tabs on the Yakuza, which is where all this lovely intel came from." Skorpion explained, knocking a yakuza mook off his feet with an elbow stroke before catching his ankles as they flew upwards. "For a bunch of bigots, they have a serious thing for catgirls." He shook the mook, using his foot to poke through the shower of Uzi magazines, switchblade knives, drug packages, and wads of cash that emptied from his pockets. "See?" He nodded to an issue of 'Big Fat Cat Tatz' as it fell out of the mook's jacket.

Rosa quirked an eyebrow at that, "Got a prostitution ring with a thing for cat girls too," Rosa said, "Be nice to get rid of them, or at least change thier tastes."

"Now that I didn't know. That makes two reasons to shut these scumbags down." He flung the mook aside, where they bounced off a window to land limply on the floor. "But that can wait. Right now, we have a miniboss to locate and fight..." He trailed off as he spied another magazine in the pile. "Itty Bitty Kitty Titteez V. part two. Of three. Make that THREE reasons; grievous assault on the english language."

Rosa giggled at that one, "Hey, it's not their fault English is so confusing," she picked up the magazine and leafed through it, "Meh."

"My ancestors didn't bodge together latin, french, german, and celtic just so these idiots could ruin it." Skorpion grumbled. before heading back out into the corridor, ducking to avoid the top of the doorframe. "And why 'meh'?"

"Well, i'm not really in to the catgirls, or girls for that matter," Rosa chuckled, "Also, horrible camera work, bad lighting and piss poor makeup." She looked annoyed, "A blind paca could do a better job."

Skorpion chuckled. "Well, tell it to Lola. I'm sure she'll be happy to fill the gap in the market once we shut the yakuza's operations down, and free their whores."

'<No! Not the whores! Please, kill as many of them as you want, but don't take the whores!>' A mook exclaimed from his hiding place around a corner, before leaning out to throw a frag grenade. '<KILL HIM! He's trying to free the whores!>'

Skorpion sighed, shifting his weight as he kicked the grenade back, curling it around the corner and bouncing it off the wall beyond before it detonated.

"What a douche," Rosa grumbled as she rounded a corner and turned three more to paste as they ran up yelling in thier moonspeak.

Skorpion nodded in agreement as he kicked the downed mook, ribs cracking under the impact of his armoured boot. "Yakuza's lousy with them. This one must be particularly bad, though." He held the mook up by his wrist, showing off a hand missing ring and pinky fingers. "He's not even any good at his job."

Rosa made a face of disgust, "Where's the rest of the clients?"

"Apparently, still sleeping off last night's hangover. Yakuza attacked because the high-ups were here, but not many of the front-line staff. No defenders, see?" He gestured around to the mostly-empty office. "Besides, we're here to get rid of the yakuza. Protecting people is a bonus, but something for the cleanup crew." He shrugged, before continuing on towards the big office at the end. As he approached it, a machinegun poked from a bathroom door nearby and opened fire, shots pattering off the floor as Skorpion dived for cover behind a wall.

Rosa jumped back, opening fire on the bathroom doorway and wall. A barrage of buck shot hammered the wall and door way. "Reloading!" she called out as she started to punch in steel penetrators.

Skorpion gave a thumbs-up as he leaned around his cover, laying suppressing fire with his BFG, the explosive rounds knocking chunks from the concrete wall without demolishing it. "Looks like we've hit structure."

"Hey... These shells are from Poland," Rosa noticed before putting the last one in, "Polish Penetrators!" she giggled a little before opening fire.

"Polish steel, but assembled in the Ukraine." Skorpion pulled back as his BFG finally ran dry, hooking fresh belts up to each barrel. "I own a big ammunition factory there."

"Cheap ammo is best ammo," Rosa replied, "Did we get anything?"

Skorpion moved up to the wall, nudging the shredded door open to peer inside. "Half the plumbing, most of the wall, and what looks like a mook in armour." He tossed the aforementioned mook out into the corridor, gaining a wet splat as they hit the now-sodden carpet. "Oh, and we hit a fiber-optic cable as well. Whoops." He stepped out, plucking the machinegun from the water and tossing it to somewhere more dry. "Think we should knock a hole in the floor to drain this out?" He gestured to the water spewing from broken sinks and toilets, which was making it's way to ankle depth.

"Probably, don't want to flood the place out," Rosa nodded in agreement.

Skorpion grinned, pulling an absurdly large pistol from his jacket and twirling the revolver-style cylinder of tube magazines mounted under the barrel before selecting one. He pointed it to the floor with a flourish before opening fire, the gun bucking before the room filled with a bright flare of igniting rocket, and the water soon starting to drain out through a hole neatly punched in the floor. "Cheap ammo is not always the best. Sometimes, you just need something that costs hundreds of dolars a shot."

"I would say something about overkill, but your Largoists don't believe in the word," Rosa rolled her eyes, "Boys."

Skorpion winked. "There is no such thing as overkill. Only 'open fire', and 'I need to reload'." He quoted, before pocketing the pistol again. "Besides, weren't you fangirling over an automatic shotgun earlier?"

"Shhh," Rosa responded and fired a round through the chains locking the door to the large office.

Skorpion kicked the door in as she broke the chains, only for it to stop dead on a barricade of furniture. Swearing under his breath, he reached into a pocket of his jacket and pulled out a lump of plastic explosive. A few seconds of converting it from pocket shape back to brick shape later, he stuck a detonator in and walked away calmly.

Rosa ducked behind a chair, "I hope that doesn't torch the place."

"Ah, it'll be fine." Skorpion waved a hand dismissively as the brick exploded, scattering burning furniture all over, and setting off the fire alarm and sprinklers. "See? Fire suppression." He grinned at Rosa, before the lights suddenly died.

"And explosed power lines," Rosa scolded him, "You just killed the whole building."

Skorpion shrugged, looking a little sheepish. "I'm sure it'll be fine. Anyway, let's go see if anyone survived the blast." He turned, heading back to the door as another series of explosions sounded from downstairs, followed by the building shaking. "That wasn't me, by the way."

Rosa steadied herself with the chair, "So who was it?"

"I think the other team found a couple of brutes." Another explosion echoed through the structure, and the sprinklers cut off. "And severed a water main. Ah, well. Onwards!" He theaded back for the office, kicking through the remains of the barricade to find the room a wreck of scorched and soaked pieces of furniture, stunned yakuza, and one angry man with a foot of pompadour paired with a mullet, wearing a silk suit, and holding an umbrella in one hand and a P90 in the other.

The miniboss gave Skorpion a level stare, gesturing around the room with his PDW. "You blew up my men. The hostages. The building. The computer I was going to steal. And you RUINED my favourite Armani SUIT!"

Rosa rolled her eyes and shot the umbrella to give him something else to whine about.

The man looked at his truncated umbrella in shock, before Skorpion kicked him out the window, following him up with a long burst of cannon fire over the edge. "Right, he can't possibly have survived that. Go get the CEO out from where he's cowering in the executive bathroom, and I'll mop the mooks up out here."

"Okay then," Rosa went tot he bathroom and discovered the CEO handcuffed to the toilet. "This is gonna be loud okay?" She covered one ear and fired at the chain, "Dios mio, still too loud." The CEO was cringing in the corner, possibly from hearing loss, fear, or agreement. Maybe some combination of the three. "Alright, lets go," She dragged then man out by his collar; (Elves are stronger than they look).

Skorpion returned a short while later, wearing a tricornered hat and carrying a Browning M2 in one hand. "Arr, look what I found!"

Rosa looked at him, "Pirate hat?"

Skorpion nodded, setting the machinegun down before transfering his hat to Rosa's head. "That, and a heavy machinegun. Barrel's shot to hell, but the rest of it's just fine."

Rosa squeed a little at being given a hat by Skorpion. Not so much the hat itself but the "given something by Skorp" part. "Ahem," She recovered, "I do look cuter in it."

Skorpion nodded. "Way cuter than the guy I pulled it off, certainly. Your accent needs work, though. Less 'dios mio'" He briefly copied her accent; surprisingly accurately. "And more 'Arrr, mateys, shiver me timbers, splice the mainsail, an' swab the poop deck.'" He switched to Ahab's accent.

"Yo soy latina," Rosa stuck her tongue out and Skorp was suddenly struck from behind by a sandal. Rosa was suspiciously short one sandal as well.

Skorpion looked behind him, rubbing his head and frowning. "Arrr, that be... I mean, that's not a good idea in here. Too much broken glass..." He trailed off, realising something. "Why the hell are you wearing sandals in a gunfight?"

"Chanklas," Rosa corrected and collected her projectile, returning it to her foot, "And por que si."

Skorpion sighed. "Do you WANT to lose toes? Because that's how you lose toes. And 'yes' isn't a reason." He stepped over to the window, peering out at the street below, where the yakuza boss lay surrounded by small craters. "I think that got him. How's the CEO?"

"A little deaf, he was cuffed to the toilet," Rosa replied, Had to shoot 'em off."

Skorpion nodded. "It happens. So long as he's still breathing, contract's satisfied. Now..." He kicked a mook out the remains of a window, before turning to Rosa. "Let's go. We'll have to keep walking and talking, I'm afraid; I have to go rig a street race in Akihabara."

"That reminds me," Rosa followed him, "Have you seen any luchadores in Akihabara?"

"Lucha..." Skorpion scratched his chin thoughtfully. "No, but Johnathan encountered one. With ostriches. Arella did, too. Sorry, Raven did."

Rosa sighed, "I heard he was here. That's the other reason I'm in MegTokyo, to get my kleptomaniac cousin. He hasn't done anything horrible yet has he?"

"Petty theft, assault, unlicensed animal husbandry, and attacking my daughter." Skorpion listed off as he walked through the building back to the stairwell, leaving wet and bloody footprints in the carpet.

"You have a daughter?" Rosa asked.

Skorpion nodded. "That'd be Arella. Adopted, of course, but she needs a parental figure around... At least, one that isn't Saeko."

"Who's Saeko?"

"Mihoist dark magical girl. Dangerous, flirty, and prone to violence and public nudity." Skorpion replied. "Look up 'Sable Princess Saeko' when you get a minute. She's got quite the following online, but she's NOT the sort of role model that's good for an innocent young magical girl."

Rosa quirked her eyebrow, "Didn't know there was Dark Magical Girls." She avoided a soft looking patch of floor. "How bad can a magical girl be? Dark or otherwise, aren't they supposed to be all sunshine and rainbows and magic?"

"Dark magical girls are the ones that feed off emotions, rather than spreading them. That, and they have no issues with simply killing troublemakers."

"Sounds problematic," Rosa mused.

Skorpion nodded. "Very. Especially because she flies; she outmaneuvers helicopters, but she's too slow for fast jets to engage. I'm contemplating just cloning a few WW2 fighters to deal with her and other such issues." He sidestepped an RPG as it sailed down the room, returning fire with his BFG without breaking step. "Modern engines, weaponry, and avionics, but the aerodynamics are fairly sound."

"You lost me at wold war two fighters," Rosa giggled.

Skorpion sighed, rolling his eyes. Women. "Small maneuverable aircraft, but not so fast they'll stall before being able to engage her."

Rosa just blinked at him cutely.

Skorpion threw his hands up in frustration, and carried on to the stairwell, picking up the RPG on his way out and bending it into a U shape.

Rosa giggled as he followed him, "Was it something I said?"

---

Skorpion swung the wheel, plowing into and then over a heavily modified Civic. "See why I made this thing so heavy? Just goes straight through fiberglass." Behind them, the Civic was spat out from under the back of the Beast in a shower of fiberglass and metal scraps.

Rosa turned to look back at the wreckage and nodded, "Comes in handy. Wouldn't fit down most of the streets back home though."

"It's not really suitable for anywhere tight, unless I can just batter through the restrictions." He accelerated, catching the rear of a modified Skyline and stoving it in to match the shape of the ram. "Can't just go destroying houses, though. Street racers, yes." He pulled back, peeling half the rear bumper off the Skyline before smashing into it again, sending it slewing sideways into an oncoming truck. "Houses, not so much."

"Not a fan of the racers, hm?" Rosa laughed, "But dosn't Kat use 'em for deliveries and messengers?"

"Some of them. However, since I'm being paid to rig the race for the guy behind us in the green Camaro, these guys are fair game." Skorpion grinned, pulling in front of a lurid pink NSX. "Although since this is a classic, I'm not going to destroy it." He winked, as the chaingun slid out of the top of the Beast, rotating and putting a single round through the windscreen. The now-uncontrolled car smacked into the back of the Beast, upon which Skorpion slowed it down to a halt. "I'l be back for it later. Maybe I can make another crossbow from the suspension."

"Wait...what?" Rosa blinked at the mention of vehicular crossbow.

Skorpion held up the crossbow he'd used earlier, to bypass the staircase. "I made this thing out of car parts from vehicles I won in pink slip races." He grinned. "Stripping the vehicles for parts makes them cry tears of delicious fanboy rage. Especially if you do it on the spot."

"You are a sadistic man," Rosa noted.

"On occasion." He pulled off again, T-boning a pickup truck barely half an inch from scraping on the ground.

"Okay that truck was just silly," Rosa commented.

"Agreed." Skorpion looped around, taking another pass at the remains of it. "Ridiculous. Those things went out of fashion in the nineties."

"Ha!" Rosa leaned out the window to give the wrecked vehicle the finger.

Skorpion grinned, taking a long powerslide into a crowded street, traffic simply flowing around him other than for a single lime green Celica that got sandwiched between the Beast and a storefront. "Right, that's the last one of them. Onwards!"

"Aww, that one was pretty," Rosa pouted.

"Ah, plenty of them around." Skorpion pulled away from the building, taking out a line of street furniture before heading for the expressway. "So, you were on Ahab's ship when it was sunk?"

"Yeah," Rosa frowned, "That was less than fun."

Skorpion nodded. "I can imagine. Do you know where you were when the attack happened?"

"Right near the bay by Roanapur," Rosa replied, "There was three ship waiting for us there." The elf girl paused for a moment, "They don't make navy boats like they used too. Couple of HEAT rounds and they go right down."

Skorpion nodded. "Arrmour went out of fashion when they invented anti-ship missiles." He paused, thinking briefly. "So, shallow water, close to land?"

"Close enough that dive teams could get to it," was her reply, "Ahab was haggling with them before we left."

Skorpion grinned, swinging the Beast around and onto the opposite carriageway. "This means recovery is viable, and I DON'T have to explain to various governments why their air force is now a navy."

"I dunno," Rosa didn't sound convienced, "There was salvage teams out there before the ship was even under."

"If they've so much as touched my cargo, I'll level their bloody city." Skorpion growled, accelerating steadily.

"Didn't Ahab arrange for half of it to be delivered?" Rosa asked, "And you'll probably be leveling the city then. Though I doubt anyone would miss it much."

"Half of it. That still leaves most of my iron ore, and a good amount of stuff I'm under contract to deliver BACK to people in a few months, intact and upgraded." Skorpion sighed. "Looks like I'm going to occupy the biggest hive of scum and villainy since they closed that bar by the docks."

"How are you going to run a city and a faction?" Rosa asked, thinking him to be completely serious.

"I don't intend to RUN it. Just shut it down long enough to get my cargo from the bottom of their bay." Skorpion grinned, a scheme forming in his head. "I'm working on a system for doing said salvage, so it shouldn't be that hard."

"Might be useful owning a city though," Rosa pointed out, "Bring the Princapality of Sealand into it's colonial age."

"Technically, I already DO own a small city." Skorpion grinned, gesturing to where the towers of the FGTL poked above the nearby buildings. "Only thing missing is growing food, and that's only because there's no damn farmland in Japan.." He snapped his fingers (somehow managing to do so despite them being covered in armour), his grin widening. "That's something we need to expand the South American operation into, I think. Farming!"

"Take over some cartel land," Rosa said, "I know just the one."

Skorpion's grin darkened. "I'll break out the cluster bombs, and ship some armour over once Ahab's got another boat lined up. Maybe some fuel/air bombs, just to clear the trees out before I start to work the land."

"Don't want to do that, the people working the fields are just normal farmers," Rosa said, "Need a little more precision."

"Guided bombs and attack helicopters, then."

"That should do the trick," Rosa nodded.

"All else fails, I'll go all Predator on them myself." Skorpion chuckled, weaving through traffic as he started to break into laughter.

I have a crush on a madman... Rosa thought to herself, "You should come back some time," she grinned.

"Totally, when I'm done with sorting out the minor issue of everyone being at each other's throats here... Whoops." Skorpion stopped laughing abruptly as he hit a patch of ice, the Beast sliding sideways and starting to spin. "Somehow, I don't think freezing the city was such a good idea, now. Even if it impressed Tiffaney..."

"It was your idea?" Rosa looked at him incredulously.

Skorpion nodded, as if it were the most natural thing ever. "Of course. Who else do you know that can seed clouds, and steer weather systems with microwave heating of the ocean?"

"No me gusta el frio," Rosa muttered and glowered at the ice and snow, "And why would you make it snow in the middle of summer anyway?"

"Because everyone expects it to snow in WINTER. Making it snow in the middle of summer, without warning, just as you have a sl3igh ready?" Skorpion grinned.

"A what?"

"A sl3igh. It's like a sleigh, only l33t. I made it from the frame of a Mazda I won off some street racer, a bunch of suspension parts, and a snowmobile instead of a horse." Skorpion waggled his eyebrows as he straightened the spin out. "Totally romantic."

"I wanna see it," Rosa said with a grin and almost a wistful sigh.

Skorpion grinned, swinging the wheel around and crashing through the guardrail, sailing off the expressway and onto a surface street. "Well, let's head back to HQ and take it for a spin, shall we?"

"Really?" Rosa asked then finally let out that fangirl squee, "Yay!~"

Skorpion winced. "Indoor voice! We're not in a damn treehouse here."

---

"And here it is." Skorpion gestured to the assembly of struts and metal bars, clad in sheet metal. "The Sl3igh."

"It looks like a parts store fell into a blender."

Skorpion shrugged. "I worked with what I had. And what I had was tuner parts, and a lightweight chassis."

"And a wood chipper," Rosa snarked.

"Do you want a ride, or do you just want to stand here criticising my handiwork?"

"Both."

"No ride if you're going to complain about the Sl3igh."

"Meanie," Rosa said and stuck her tongue out at him before hopping in to the Sl3igh.

Skorpion rolled his eyes as he climbed up next to her, the horse-headed snowmobile starting up as he sat down. "Anywhere in particular you'd like to see?"

"No sey," Rosa shrugged, "Any suggestions?"

"The Tokyo Tower Memorial Park should be fine. Historical value as well." Skorpion grinned, easing the sl3igh forwards and out of the garage area.

Rosa grinned and then huddled against the snow, tucking her sandaled feet under her, "Coooold."

Skorpion chuckled, tugging a blanket out from behind the seat and handing it to her. "You wouldn't be so cold if you weren't wearing sandals."

"Chanklas," Rosa corrected, ignoring the rest of his sentence before wrapping up in the blanket. Soon all you could was her face and the outline of her ears pushing out the blanket, "Mmmm... Blanket~"

"Did you not look out the window before you stepped outside, or something?" Skorpion enquired as he steered the sl3igh through snow-covered streets.

"Actually, no. I was ORAZ's garage," Rosa looked around.

Skorpion nodded in understanding "Dangerous place to be unescorted, though."

"The garage?" Rosa asked questioningly.

Skorpion nodded. "DarkTan's jeep tends to attack people it doesn't know or like. I'm not entirely sure what he did to it, as it wasn't like that when I sourced it for him." He steered around a stranded bus, shaking his head. "On top of that, they leave tools lying around everywhere, Lola's in the habit of ambushing people, and the sheer amount of strange vehicles there is astounding."

"So that's the car that kept following me like," Rosa replied, "It seemed nice, always shining light where I needed it."

"It likes you, then. Seems to like anything female. Especially if it's motorised; Lucius has to keep Nicole away from it." Skorpion chuckled. "I think perhaps it wants to make little trikes."

Rosa's expresson was one of total and complete confusion, "Que?"

"Nicole's his motorbike."

"No comprendo."

Skorpion sighed, switching to spanish. "[Darktan's jeep likes girls. It also likes feminine machines, like Lucius' motorcycle. Which he's called Nicole. The jeep keeps trying to mate with Nicole.]"

Rosa's blank expression suggested that while she understood what the indiividual words themselves meant, as a whole it still made no sense.

"[The jeep is animate. Enchanted, possibly.]"

"Oh I know the Jeep isn't quite normal and possibly alive," Rosa replied, "And your accent is funny. I'm still trying to figure out the while mating part."

Skorpion shrugged. "I have no idea either. The whole thing makes no sense, but at least the Jeep's smart enough to stay in a corner whenever I'm around." He grinned wickedly. "It seems to know what I do to vehicles."

"I would too if I was a car," Rosa nodded sagely, then giggled at the absudity of the statement.

Skorpion nodded. "Apparently the EDS support society warns people about me, as well. Since I've had a history of stealing Sony tech, and take things apart."

"EDS?" Rosa asked, "Wassat?"

"Basically, robot-girl Playstation accessories. Sold by Sony, for the hikkikomori market. People who can't take care of themselves, and need someone to do it, but don't open up to actual people. She also assists them in pkaying dating sims."Skorpion explained, as the sl3igh turned into a large park.

"Are they...alive? Or something?" Rosa asked.

"They're sentient; they think, they're self-aware, and they feel emotions. Actually being 'alive' is debatable; I'm an engineer, not a philosopher. But I'd say so, otherwise that raises questions as to whether or not I'm alive." Skorpion tapped his head with a finger. "What with half my brain being computers, and all."

Rosa blinked, "Wait...what?" She blinked some more, "How'd that happen?"

Skorpion blinked in surprise. "You... You DO know I'm a super-soldier, right?"

"Si," Rosa nodded, "But Captian America doesn't gave computers in his head."

"Different kind of super-soldier. They made him with a serum, but they lost the formula when the Nazis tried to steal it. I came a lot later, from the lessons learned in the 70s and 80s. I was, simply, meant to be a better soldier. So, they hacked me open and put computers in my head, enhanced pretty much everything, and took away everything that would make me question their motives." Skorpion paused for beeath, stopping the sl3igh near a stand of bushes. "But it didn't work out so well. Of the ones that survived the surgeries, most went insane, orr died in training accidents. Then they shut the program down, and killed all the subjects."

"And you're not dead because why?"

"I got better." Skorpion shrugged. "I woke up with amnesia, but knew I had to get out of there. So I looted the armoury, took off in a truck, and blew up everything I couldn't take with me. Holed up in a motel in the small town where I ran out of gas, and went on from there." He grinned proudly, gesturing over in the direction of HQ. "Now I'm a prince."

"A story worthy of a novella," Rosa giggled.

Skorpion nodded. "And yet, here I am, restricted to collaborative short fiction. But that's getting a little to meta, so I shall change the subject." He winked at Rosa, before pointing to the large memorial where Tokyo Tower should be; looking much like Tokyo Tower. "Here's where the demon invasion happened."

Rosa looked at it in awe, "Purty."

Skorpion grinned, pointing to the gigantic crater next to the tower. "And that's where the blast from my nuke came through the portal while it was closing."

"That was when..you...umm," Rosa stuttered, "Muetro."

Skorpion nodded. "Sort of. I survived the blast, but actually died a while later after I ran out of ammo to fight off the demons. My plan was to go to ground and survive until someone could do a summoning ritual, but they spotted me before I could get out of there."

"That must have been horrible..." Rosa looked down.

Skorpion shrugged. "I don't actually remember it. All my knowledge of it is from notes I took as it was happening. As far as surviving it goes, I restored from an earlier backup."

Rosa blinked and looked at him blankly, "You did what?"

"I restored myself from a backup I took before the demon invasion." Skorpion shrugged again. "I figured I might not survive it, so I made plans. Including having Lucius retrieve my body for the backup to be put into."

Rosa seemed to be requiring a backup herself as she looked at Skorpion with what could only be described as a BSoD. She blinked several times, "Well at least it worked out." It was appearent that she had simply been unable to wrap her head around the idea.

Skorpion nodded. "Pretty well. I seem to have gained weight somewhere, but I lost the crazy." He cracked an imaginary whip, and the Sl3igh jerked into motion, snow spraying over them as it was thrown up by the snowmobile's track. "Oh yeah, that's what I was going to do with this. Mudflap. Snowflap? Whatever."

Rosa squealed and tried to hide from the snow under Skorpion's arm, then realized what she was doing and jumped back, a blush spreading to the tip of her ears.

Skorpion chuckled, brushing snow off the blanket. "Sorry about that. I think I forgot why you usually sit in front of the tracks."

"I wouldn't know," Rosa admitted. "What's next?"

"Well, I figured that..." Skorpion was interrupted by a growl from his stomach. "Or lunch. That would work too."

"Siii, tengo hammmmmbre," Rosa nodded vigiously in agreement.

Skorpion chuckled, steering across the park, scattering a small army of snowmen and breaking a snowball fight into a snowball riot. "I know this great little place down by the docks. Proper portion sizes, and real food. None of that sushi nonsense that's so trendy these days, unless they deep-fry it as an appetiser."

"I like my food cooked," Rosa agreed with a smile and giggled at the riot.

Skorpion grinned. "To the docks it is, then."

---

A while later, Skorpion pulled up in front of a small cafe by the waterfront, parking the sl3igh on the crust of ice covering the street. "And here we are." He waved to the flickering neon sign above the entrance, which depicted a full English breakfast as semi-anthromorphic characters, dancing around a flaming fryer.

Rosa looked at the sign, "That's not creepy at all, nope."

"The food is delicious, though. The chef here can do things with a pig like nobody else outside of Texas." Skorpion grinned, leading the way in. The cafe was dimly lit with harsh overhead strip lighting covered in years of grease stains, with solid metal tables and a counter that looked like a torpedo hammered flat and mounted with feet.

"Oooh, barbecue?" Rosa grinned ear to ear. Quite a feat for a elf girl. Also not for the faint of heart.

Skorpion shook his head, undisturbed by Rosa's grin. "Nope. Traditional british food, mostly fried." He stepped up to the counter, pounding on it to distract the cook from where he was sharpening a knife so long it was almost a sword. "Two of the large platters, a side of chips, two mixed kebabs, and a curry." He then turned to Rosa, indicating the menu scrawled on a greasy whiteboard above the counter. "What do you fancy?"

Rosa blinked, she had thought he was ordering for them both at first, "Umm...you're going eat all of that? And I don't know...what's good?"

"Yes, yes I am. And the mixed grill is pretty good if you're hungry. The kebabs are delicious, though. And they're as british as tea, before you say anything."

"...I have no idea what that means."

Skorpion sighed. "The mixed grill is a bunch of fried meaty things, with potatoes and a tomato. The kebab is strips of chicken and lamb with sauce, and salad on top."

"Kaybob then," Rosa said, pronoucing it oddly.

Skorpion nodded. "And another kebab for the lady. Stick if on my tab like usual."

The chef nodded and grunted, entering the details in a tablet before turning to start frying things.

Skorpion stepped back, leading Rosa to a table. "He doesn't talk much beyond grunts, I'm afraid."

"Not a fan of talking?" Rosa took a seat and looked back towards the kitchen.

"Probably. I asked him, but he just grunted at me and went back to frying things." Skorpion shrugged.

"Hm," Rosa continued to watch, the smell of food making her hungrier, "Can he fry it faster?"

"Probably not without setting fire to the grease on the ceiling, and ruining the ambience." Skorpion swiped a finger across the table, scraping up a crust of grease a few millimeters thick.

"Ewwww!" Rosa lurched back away from the table with a horrified expression on her face, "And people eat here like that??"

"Sure they do. The plates are clean, the food's tasty, and it's probably cleaner than their ships. Plus, no vermin. Roaches can't move through grease, and any rats just have a heart attack after breathing the air." Skorpion grinned. "Plus, ridiculously strong pesticides."

Rosa blinked, a look of concern and apprehension on her face, "Okay...I get that you can appearently live through anything," she paused, "But what about us non-super soldiers?"

Skorpion waved a hand dismissively. "The food is fine. Normal people eat here all the time, when the sea's not frozen solid, and they don't die of it."

Rosa looked unconvinced, "You sure?"

"The chef eats his own cooking, and he looks perfectly alive to me." Skorpion pointed to where the chef was beating out a grease fire with a teatowel.

"But he doesn't talk..."

"Not because of the food. He's just grumpy."

"But what if the food made him that way?" Rosa leaned forward then jumped back from the greasy table.

Skorpion sighed, rolling his eyes. "... Food doesn't do that. And don't lurch around like that, you'll tip the chair over."

"How do you know?" Rosa asked, "It could happen!"

"I eat here a lot. I can still talk. And none of the sailors or dock workers have gone mute."

"Hmm," Rosa looked unconvinced but let the subject drop, "What about a drink?"

"Coffee comes with the meal. Otherwise, this is an uncomplicated place; not much variation on drinks. It's either coffee, coffee, or coffee." Skorpion pointed to the coffee machine behind the counter, which was clattering away and leaking steam from multiple locations. "It's not nuclear-powered, but it's pretty good."

"Nuclear...powered...coffee...?"

Skorpion nodded. "The coffeemaker at HQ is nuclear-powered. Very efficient at heating the water, and also at hiding the reactor."

"Ookay..." Rosa made a mental note to avoid the coffee at FGTL HQ, "Why are you hiding it?"

"UN weapons inspectors. They're okay with the stash of chemical weapons in the basements, the nuke in my office, and the ROUS, but they'd flip a bit if they knew I had a nuclear breeder reactor." Skorpion shrugged. "Crazy."

Rosa blinked at each item listed but before she could say anything, the food was done. "Oooh," the elf girl drooled a little as her food arrived.

Skorpion chuckled at her reaction as the food was set down; half the table being taken up by his order. "See? Clean plates, clean cutlery. Table's only greasy due to the cold."

Rosa looked somewhat concerned, but the sight of the food was quickly winning her over. With out further preamble, she dg in to the fried feast before her. "Sabroso!"

Skorpion nodded. "Sabroso indeed." He grinned as he dug in with gusto, soon making an impact on the array of plates in front of him, washing it down with coffee that was almost too thick to leave the mug.

Rosa stared in awestruck wonder as the man before her tore though the food like a combine harvester through a horde of zombies.

"What?" Skorpion looked up at her. "I'm hungry. I haven't eaten in a few hours."

"Dios mio, you look like you haven't eaten in a few weeks," Rosa giggled and resumed eating her meal.

"May as well have been. I go through a LOT of calories..." Skorpion said around a mouthful of heavily-fried goodness.

"If you didn't you'd be the size of a house," Rusa mused and finished off her kebab.

"It's the damn nanites. Everything runs off blood sugar." Skorpion rearranged plates, stacking empty ones as he continued on, refilling his mug from the coffeepot left on the table.

Rosa poked her coffee with a spoon, which stuck fast, "That what-ites?"

"Nanites. Little machines that fix things in me." Skorpion gestured vaguely with a fork. "Mostly for healing."

"Ah," Rosa nodded and tried to remove the spoon from her coffee.

"Here, let me." Skorpion reached over, taking her mug in one hand and the spoon in the other, and pulling. After a few seconds, the spoon popped free, along with the coffee in a solid lump. "Ah. Oh dear."

"Yeah...about that..."

Skorpion shrugged. "You may need to just lick at it."

"Ummm....no," Rosa replied, "I'll get something on the way back."

"Well, waste not want not." Skorpion leaned over to take a bite from the lump of coffee.

Rosa made a face at that, "Ew."

"It's tasty. Want some?" Skorpion offered the coffeesicle to her, even as it oozed slightly.

"No...just..no."

Skorpion shrugged, taking another bite of the coffee.

---

Skorpion emerged from the cafe, only to find a wheel clamp on the sl3igh. "Oh, fsk this."

"Que es esso?" Rosa said, "Er...what's that?"

Skorpion sighed. "It's a wheel clamp, because I apparently parked in the wrong place." He rummaged in his coat briefly, before bringing out a hammer. "Stand behind me, this could get messy."

Rosa meeped and hid behind a vending machine that was also behind Skorpion, "Messy?"

"Messy. As in, bits of metal everywhere." Skorpion swung at the clamp, which promptly exploded from the tension and the cold, scattering sharp bits of metal everywhere. "See? Messy."

Rosa squeaked as a large bit shattered the glass on the vending machine, spilling out an assortment of random items, "Are those panties?"

"Might well be, this is Japan. Used or fresh?" Skorpion enquired, pocketing the hammer before starting to pick up the parts of the clamp. "They do both."

"Ew," was Rosa's only reply.

"Better than the live schoolgirl vending machines. Those were just plain freaky, until they got shut down."

"Wait...what?" Rosa's face went all out of porportion, as if she was suddenly an emoticon.

"Tokyo is a strange place." Skorpion shrugged, looking around for the traffic warden in question. On spotting a distinctively high-visibility-jacket-clad figure, he took aim and hurled a lump of the clamp. There was a muffled *thud*, and the figure was knocked flailing into the sea. "That'll learn you."

Rosa winced, "That must have hurt."

"He's a traffic warden; he deserves it." Skorpion shrugged, then headed back to start up the sl3igh again. "Now, let's get back to HQ; it's getting darker out here, and I think it's going to snow again. And you don't want to be out here in the snow; you might freeze your ears off."

Rosa looked moderately terrified, "Is that possible in the cold?"

Skorpion nodded. "If it gets cold enough, yes. It's called frostbite. Very dangerous in the arctic."

Rosa let out a squeak of fright and clapped her hands over her ears.

Skorpion chuckled. "You should probably wear earmuffs until this all thaws out." He settled onto the bench seat of the sl3igh, the snowmobile's exhaust leaving a trail of mist from the truncated exhaust pipes.

"I should wear what?" Rosa asked, looking confused.

"Earmuffs. Things that go over your ears to warm them." He pointed to a pedestrian, wrapped in coat, scarf, and earmuffs, huddled up against the cold and trying to stay warm despite having a gap between stockings and skirt. "Like she's wearing."

"Oooh, that looks warm," Rosa noted, "Where can i get some?"

"Plenty of stores around here that stock things like that all year round. Tell you what." Skorpion cracked the imaginary whip again, and the sl3igh jerked into motion with an accompanying shower of snow. "I'll take you shopping for some warm clothes."

"Yay~"

---

After a while of zooming through the snowy streets, they arrived in the middle of a shopping mall, surrounded by slush, snow, and the remains of the doors they'd just crashed through. Skorpion dismounted first, offering Rosa a hand exiting the sl3igh.

Rosa daintily accepted the hand and exited the sleigh, "Oooh!" She instantly dissapeared in to a rack of floofly looking pull overs, "Floofy~"

Skorpion chuckled, following her to stand outside the rack. "Fluffy indeed. Pick out what you like."

It was long before Rosa had an armful of cloting. A matching scarf, earmuffs, fur lined hoody, balacava, fleece pull over, goggles, fleece pants, insulated snowboarding pants and thermal toe socks. "Ready~"

Skorpion chuckled, leading her and the pile to the checkout, where the assistant ran his card. After a while, the terminal bleeped and started to emit smoke.

Rosa blinked, looked at the register, looked at the pile of clothes, "It was the toe socks wasn't it?"

"That, or it just doesn't like foreign banks." Skorpion tapped his code into the machine, which bleeped angrily and smoked some more. "Which is tough, because it's got to put up with it."

"I know just the thing," Rosa slipped off her flip-flop, beaning the machine with it before catching it on the rebound and putting the shoe back on her foot. The machine make a few more beeps and whirs, finally spitting out a reecipt with a ten percent discount.

Skorpion nodded, retrieving his card from the machine. "I suppose that works too. I'll have to try that sometime."

"You need chanklas," Rosa nodded sagely then, taking the clothes to the changing room to get dressed. There seemed to be some faint, rainbow coloured strobing accompanied by ragaeton music before she returned, looking much like the kid from "A Christmas Story" only with toe socks and flip flops. "Mrph!"

"You sure you don't want proper shoes or boots, or anything?" Skorpion enquired, raising an eyebrow.

"These are proper," Rosa replied after adjusting the scarf, completely serious.

Skorpion sighed, rolling his eyes. "You'll change your tune after you step in a snowdrift and get those socks wet. C'mon, there's a shoe store across the way."

"They are water proof, so ha!" Rosa stuck her tongue out at the super soldier.

Skorpion shrugged. "Your toes. Sure you don't want any other shoes while you're here?"

Rosa nodded. After all, who needs shoes when you can chanklas?

Skorpion shrugged again, turning to head back to the sl3igh. When he got there, he found another traffic warden putting another wheel clamp on it. With a sigh, he grabbed the man by the collar and tossed him bodily into the nearest fountain. "Rosa, want to make a wish?"

Rosa tapped her chin thoughtfully, "I wish someone would learn to cook a decent tomale in this town."

Skorpion nodded as the traffic warden hit the water with a splash. "Good luck with that; hard enough finding decent chips here that aren't half raw or burned to a crisp." He started the sl3igh agaiin, nudging it around to point towards the doorway they'd come in from. At the doorway, a team of workmen stood waiting for the sl3igh to make an exit so they could replace the door.

"How do you get raw chips?" Rosa inquired, looking at Skorpion like that was the most ridiculous thing she had ever heard, "Don't they come in a bag?"

Skorpion facepalmed. "No, no, chips. Not crisps. The fried chunks of potato you were eating earlier."

"Fries?"

"That's what the Americans call them, yes." Skorpion sighed. "But that's not proper english. At all."

"That's what everyone, everywhere else calls them," Rosa said, "I think majority rules."

"But, you see, it's the English language. Invented in England. Besides, do you think I CARE about what the majority thinks?" Skorpion grinned, waving out the door to the street. "The majority didn't want snow in July, but to hell with THEM. The majority don't want me running around blowing people up just because some other scumbag put a price on their head, or for me to build a nation from an anti-aircraft platform to a bunch of outposts in Japan and a small navy. We have a bigger GDP than the 'majority' anyway!"

"They are still fries," Rosa giggled.

"Nope. Chips. They're even thick and chunky like chips should be." Skorpion sighed, settling into the sl3igh again. "Now come on, let's see if this thing will even more on this damn polished floor, or if I need to use the emergency propulsion system."

"Emergency propulsion?" Rosa asked curiously.

Skorpion nodded. "Emergency propulsion. I stuck a few solid-fuel rockets onto the chassis in case it gets stuck on ice or something."

"Oooh! Do that!" Rosa bounced in her seat gleefully.

"And I thought you weren't a Largoist." Skorpion remarked as he reached under the seat to yank on a handle. There was a brief moment of nothing happening, before the rockets fired; pushing the sl3igh forwards. It moved slowly at first, but soon accelerated until stores, shoppers, and bits of destroyed door were flying past them. They exited the mall in a cloud of black smoke as the motors burned out, sliding sideways across the snow as the snowmobile struggled to keep up with the rocket-boosted speed.

"Wheeeeee~" Rosa howled in delight, "That was awesome!"

"Are you SURE you're not a Largoist? I mean, you sound a lot like one of my sargeants..." Skorpion commented as he tried to wrestle the sl3igh back to pointing in the direction of travel again, while evading street furniture.

"Never been in any faction," Rosa said, "I'm latina, that's my faction."

"That's more a race than a faction, and even then you're..." Skorpion trailed off, giving up hope of trying to explain it as he ramped the sl3igh off a snow bank. "Nevermind."

Rosa giggled then squee'd with delight, "Maybe I could be a Largoist," she shrugged.

"You practically are already; you have the mindset down, and you're already running most of the operation on the other side..." Skorpion paused, realisation dawning on him. "Wait. If you're here, who's doing your job?"

"Sora, Miguel, Tommy, Waldo, Hernando, Michelle, Steve, Kris," she ticked off each name on her fingers, "Yeah, I think that's all of them."

"All of them to do the job you were managing on your own." Skorpion replied flatly. "Remind me to give you a raise."

"Okay," Rosa grinned ear to ear. Quite a feat for someone with ears like hers.

---

Summary:
Rosa (the hispanic brown elf girl) goes to see Skorpion. She's not used to the cold.
Skorpion is on his way out, to shoot stuff.
Because someone hasn't paid the Yakuza, on account of paying the FGTL to actually protect them.
Rare guns, because Skorp collects patents.
Rosa tries not to squee.
Vroom vroom!

Arrival. With a BMP already there.
Lots of shotgun rounds. Oh, and a BFG.
Lift is broken, because someone mounted a machinegun turret in it.
Take the stairs, Largoist style. With a crossbow grappling hook.
Yakuza with stupid hair.
Dakka dakka dakka.
Crazy banzai charges. Guns. Groping.
Casual discussion of other things while blowing thugs away.
The Yakuza are running kemonomimi porn/prostitution rings.
KABOOM.
And there goes the power.
Rescue the CEO, steal a hat. Hat goes to Rosa. She seems to have a bit of a crush...
Recent events are explained to Rosa. Killer kemonomimi, Arella, and so forth.
Some light looting. And no RPGs for you!
Rosa's looking for a certain luchador. It's her cousin.

---

Street racer takedowns.
Skorp explains what he does with street racers, when he deigns to play by their rules.
To wit, winning their cars and dismantling them on the spot.
Explanation of what happened with the OCS STFU; it's in shallow water, but needs recovery before the locals loot it.
Or Skorp can just occupy Roanupur.
Skorp promises to take out the drug cartels, to take their fields for his empire.
Rosa definitely has a crush.
The sl3igh is mentioned.
Rosa wants to seee~

---

Sl3igh ride!
Some sightseeing.
BLANKET~
Rosa doesn't understand animated vehicles.
Some backstory.
More sightseeing.
Skorp explains how he died, and came back. Backups ftw.
FOOD TIME.

---

Lunch at Skorp's favourite cafe.
Greasiest greasy spoon ever.
Skorp orders enough to feed a large family. For himself.
Silent cook, Rosa suspects the food.
Coffee you can bite.

--

Wheel clamped!
On the sl3igh.
Removed with a hammmer.
Wheel clamp, meet vending machine. Rosa, meet panty vending machine.
Better than the live schoolgirl vending machine!
Rosa has no concept of frostbite. Oh dear.
Clothes shopping?

---

Mall time. Rock star parking, in the middle of the mall.
Floofy warm clothes!
Still sandals, though.
Card machines hate swiss bank accounts.
But hate sandals more.
Emergency propulsion for the sl3igh? ROCKETS.
Fshhhhhh~
Vrooom~
Rosa might join the FGTL?
Skorpion [FGTL]
- Skorpion - Lucius Ogilvy- Lola Usagi- Cathal Jones -
- FGTL/Sealand - CMGY Academy - CATastrophe Club - Kemonomimi Railroad -

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CantoAnathema

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Posts: 24

Joined: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:04 pm

Post Mon Feb 09, 2015 5:18 pm

Re: (Insert Clever Title Here)

Jisei
Location: A ryokan inn outside of the greater Tokyo area
Time: Mid-summer
Character(s): Aneko, Howell, Eloise
Author(s): CantoAnathema, Saeriva

Smoke curled up towards the moon, which was sufficient description to indicate Aneko was involved. In this case, she was laying on her back, an arm propping up her head while the other held a cigarette at its end, looking up at the aforementioned smoke and moon. The rooms were non-smoking for the children but, out on the porch she was free to do as she wished. With a discontented murmur, she placed the cigarette back to her lips.

Behind her, the sliding door opened with an airy thunk and a voice spoke to her above the sound, "I thought I smelled you out here."

Howell stood just outside the newly closed rice paper door, gazing up at the smoke and the moon with her holding a glass in his fingers.

"Enjoy that while you can," he said and inclined his drink at her smoking hand. "You know how my extended family is about smoke."

Aneko blew out a thin jet, "It's impossible to smoke in the city anyway. My beloved Japan is, however, mercifully behind the times." She gestured to the porch-spot next to her, to which Howell obliged and took a seat. "We've been gone awhile this time. How is Aunt Monica holding up?"

"About as well as you'd expect. She calls me almost every single day," he shrugged and paused long enough for a longer drink than wad probably necessary. "It's not like I can really be that upset about it," he admitted, though it wasn't clear if he was directing the admittance to Aneko, the cup or himself. "I know she's worried, and it's not like I don't know how she handles being worried. Not well," he punctuated the thought with a direct glace at Aneko, "in case you managed to miss that."

"I shall try to be a more responsible adult then." Aneko said, with a quick laugh that she quickly shook off with another bit of smoke. "Did she ask about our return plans again?"

"When doesn't she?" he shrugged. "Honestly, I think she'd calm down if I could get Lola to talk to her on the phone."
"It can't be helped. She's worse with phones than you are."

"Yeah, well, I can't say I didn't have the same reaction the first time I was expected to use a telephone. I think I was about her age at the time, too."

It took a bit, but Aneko eventually stopped cackling.

"Sorry, sorry; I just was imagining a little Howell staring blankly at a phone in his hand. It was a little too easy." Waving aside Howell's expression, she added, "Let me know next time she calls. Maybe we can con our little princess into saying a few words near it, at least."

"Well, I can guarantee it'll be sometime tomorrow," he shrugged. "I'm a little hazy on the time difference."

Aneko nodded, in a mental note sort of acknowledgement, and returned to her cigarette. After some contemplative wisps of smoke trailed away from her, she said, "Tell her we'll be home before school starts."

"Are you sure?"

She nodded and, voice calm, explained, "Those responsible for my brother's death are returning to Tokyo soon. I will be bringing the girls to meet them."

"By, 'the girls'," Howell asked as his fingers drummed contemplative against the glass, "you mean Saeko? And, uh... T-the other one. Sayuri?"

"Yes, those two. I'm not sure revenge is really Sayuri's thing but Saeko won't pass it up."

"Do what you have too," he hummed, and drowned the remainder of his thought with an idle shrug and a pull from the glass.
Aneko nodded, casting a sidelong glance at the man sitting next to her. For a moment, they sat in silence. Then she asked, "Did you want me to ask you to come along?"

Howell responded with a laugh that almost sounded real. "No," he chuckled, "god, no. Not unless you actually wanted me around to slow you down."

"Oh, nonsense. I'm sure my brother would appreciate the thought of you wreaking havoc upon his murderers," she laughed but, in contrast to Howell's, it sounded like it was an attempt to make light of sincerity. "Then again, from what he told me, you might scare the girls. It's probably for the best to make it a feminine outing."

The struggle that played out on Howell's face was dramatic. In one part of him, there was a burning curiosity to hear, in detail, what Shiri had said about him. In the other, he was positive he wouldn't like the answer. The show dispelled, eventually, with a hefty rattling of his shoulders and another drink. Curiosity lost.

"I think I'll be more help here," he said, eventually. "One of us should be here and not covered in blood when the little girls wake up, but try to have fun without me.

"I am going to be so very covered in blood when I get back," Aneko agreed with a tad bit too much enthusiasm, "so you're probably right. Still - the offer's there."

"And I appreciate it," he acknowledged, very sincerely. "But I'm not really a 'revenge' kind of guy, and murder isn't really the catharsis for me that it is for you and your girls. Honestly, it'd be a little weird."

"Alcohol then? For the catharsis?"

"I don't think catharsis is the right word," he laughed. "Catharsis is supposed to make you feel better, not just forget that you feel bad for a while."

"Then what might be cathartic?"

"Oh, I don't know," he groaned, and ran a futile hand down his face. "I haven’t really had a chance to think about it. I’ve been too preoccupied.” The sidelong glance backwards into the darkened room and the sleeping figures beyond where clear enough indication of the object of his preoccupation. “I’m not as good at being a calm emotional center as Shiri was,” he continued, “you know, on account of having a full range of feelings and generally knowing what to do with them. I’ve just been trying not to think about it.” He took another drink to accent the point. “But,” he said, “I’m a grown man, and I’ve buried people before. I’ll worry about me when everyone else is doing better.”

"Oh, Howell, when did you become a bastion of masculine stoicism?"

"Pretty much right after your brother died, and didn't leave me much of a choice."

A cricket chirped in the darkness, somewhere deep in the woods. Aneko shook her head.

"It doesn't suit you."

Howell laughed miserably. "No,” he agreed “No, it does not. But what else am I supposed to do?"

"I don't know, honestly. For me, when I think about my brother's death, I just get angry. That sort of hate that twists in your belly until it hurts and you can feel it poisoning every part of your body. So I lash out - I know that - when I am hurt, I hurt back. It's not pretty or mature but it's my catharsis. So I don't know what you need to do, to express the emotions you have, but I am certain that Elosie wouldn't mind if you took the time to do it... and I know I'd rather have someone look lame with me then trying to be something he's not."

Shrugging slightly, Aneko set aside the burnt out remains of her cigarette, only to pick up the box at her side and take out a new one. With the quickly flick of a match, it was lit but she didn't smoke yet; she merely held it at eye level and stared at the calm pulse of the embers, as she quietly added, "Also, nobody is watching right now. Just saying."

Beside her, Howell contemplated the smoldering tip of the cigarette, watching lazy whips of smoke dissipate into the air until Aneko finally took her first drag and his eyes sank to the ground.

“I don’t know if I ever told you this story,” he began, “but I was thirty-three when my father died. He used to volunteer at the medical school, supervising gross anatomy labs and giving lectures. The chemistry lab blew up. I don’t know if I ever got a detailed answer about why. If I did, I wasn’t in a state to remember it, but the explosion burned down half of campus.”
He interrupted himself to empty the remainder of the glass. “My father died in that fire, along with twenty-three other people, including a close family friend who’d known me since I was born.”

“And I tell you all that,” he said and inhaled deeply to cover a wheezing shake at the back of his throat, “because I cried at the funeral. Being a thirty-three year-old man and crying in public… Do you have any idea how humiliating that is?” Howell glanced up at her quickly, a brief flash of a grin before dampening eyes cast back to the ground, and answered his own question; “I guess you wouldn’t.”

“I turned a hundred and forty this year,” he sighed in a shake of his hanging head. “One hundred and forty years old, and I still…” Howell buried his eyes in the palm of his empty hand, bottom lip disappearing under his teeth.

For a good while, that was it. The cricket chirped again, fussily absorbed in its own life, and Aneko stared on ahead, offering the smoke to the sky, and Howell did as a man must at such a time, when he permits himself. To say more would be mere conjecture - as Aneko had promised, nobody was watching. When the time came, the woman quietly set aside her cigarette, brushed the corner of her own eyes, and entered their rooms. She returned a few moments later with a bottle and glass, setting about pouring, one for her and refilling his.

It took a few moments longer of bracing, nasal inhales before Howell moved again. His head rose off his hands, eventually, freeing an appendage to scoop up the refilled glass. Even in the dark, his face looked flushed.

"Why am I such a little girl?" he laughed at himself, in a voice that sounded heavy with damp, before graciously tipping back a drink.

"Oh, it's not that bad," Aneko assured, taking up her smoke and liquor. She tilted her head thoughtfully, before adding, "Honestly, I've seen yakuza less manly than you."

“No need to lie just to make me feel better.”

"Like hell I'm lying. You're the sort of traditional macho idiot who would slice off his pinky if it kept his family safe."

Howell nearly spit his liquor.

"That," he laughed, once he'd stopped choking and the hacking had settled, "that may be the first time anyone has used ever 'macho' to describe me."

"I think it's the people you hang out with," Aneko rationalized, "but me? I know machismo when I see it."

"Right. Well, you know me. Captain macho here."

Aneko gave a grateful salute with her glass, "To your manliness.”

Howell parroted the motion. "To each of our staggering emotional maturity."

With those epithets, they both snickered into their whiskey and drank. Then snickering turned into sensible chuckles, which were awkward and funny enough by their own right that they then dissolved into laughter, smoke, and alcohol. Each with enough abandon, apparently, to draw the door to the little porch open.

"Maman? Tante?" the disheveled but alert little child asked.

"Oh, Lola." Howell abandoned his glass on the wood, freeing his hand to motion the girl to his side. "I'm sorry, chou, did we wake you up?"

The little girl nodded and took her place between the two adults. Once seated, she set about straightening the tie about her waist, as her yukata was disheveled from sleep.

"We're sorry," Aneko assured, putting out her cigarette in the tray at her side.

Eloise shrugged and continued fussing. As she did, Howell started fussing with her hair.

“Were you sleeping alright?” He asked, attempting to gently smooth out the tangles in a largely futile effort. “You look like you were rolling around a lot…”

"Futons are strange," Eloise explained, before yawning.

"Yeah, they kind of are." Howell gave her head one last pat before pushing himself to his feet. "C'mon," he grunted, and with enough effort to be embarrassing in front of an audience, hoisted up the sleepy little party crasher. "Geez," he groaned, settling her weight against his hip, "you're getting so big, Lola. I'm not going to be able to do this much longer..." Once he'd gotten her situated in a comfortable position, Howell touched his forehead to hers. "It's late. Let's go back to bed, okay?"

A short affirmative bit of sound toppled out of the child, as she relaxed, closed her eyes, and generally gave up on being awake. Chuckling softly, Aneko picked up the adults' bits of vice and, all together, they returned inside.


---Summary---
- Aneko smokes, Howell drinks
- They discuss family, plans to depart Japan, and Shiri's death
- More specifically, their reactions to Shiri's death
- Howell is a man of the sort.
- Sort of.
- Long story short, some interesting sides to these two if you're into that sort of thing.
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