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File 165486684307.png - (732.10KB , 1000x1000 , Chapter3OpeningImageFinal.png )
1034710 No. 1034710 ID: 73aaab

Prelude:>>/questarch/970260
Chapter 1:>>/questarch/985116
Chapter 2:>>/questarch/1007458
Discussion:>>/questdis/133296
Wiki:https://tgchan.org/wiki/Last_Trace

Discord: https://discord.com/invite/x9QHPvzhdD
----------

Things were different before. But now, I'm going to have fun caving her head in.
270 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 1048559 ID: e5709d

Hang on, let me get your virtual space organized...
[
function UploadHUD() {
var d = loadData("Abilities");
append(wiki.lastTrace, d);
var e = loadData("Weapons");
append(wiki.lastTrace, d);
var f = loadData("Gadgets");
append(wiki.lastTrace, f);
}
SUDO UploadHUD();
]

Prototype SAI; let's unlock some @#$%ing lootboxes.
>>
No. 1048576 ID: 9a2966

>After that... experience
You can't say it wasn't exciting. With this you're also two thirds of the way through graduating Nickel's final class! So... not bad, cadet.

>Did Koilo mention anything like that?
Patz mentioned during the flashback that Koilo wrote children's books in his spare time, so they could've been produced on-site by him. Patz was also impressed that he'd be that sort of a guy - clean record, cares for children, wants nothing but the best for the youth of tomorrow. Koilo being allowed to put time and effort into raising a clone - like Diagram - could've been an allowance from project management. Maybe it was framed as an experiment, but it seems like there would've been a real bond there and intent to form it.

It might be worth mentioning that Koilo and Lirren were the main - if accidental - instigators of this entire project, when they discovered their initial chimeric test subjects had psychic potential. Happened before this site was even a thing. Bit grim to be honest, hearing about psychic presences fading from the tanks with their heartbeats. Emphasizes there was a cost - a cost in getting so far as getting someone like you, or Nickel, or Diagram. In that vein I get where Amica is coming from when she's talking about that unborn SAI thing. Similar sins of the past and all that. Fairly recent past at that, if she - and that other SAI - was developed AFTER you were born.

I do wonder though if Koilo in raising Diagram wasn't trying to assuage guilt over - well, everything, but also over the fact of you all have had to effectively skip over your childhoods. It's typically a very formational, interesting and exciting time to exist, a time of unbounded learning. Granted, on several levels you can still be thought of as 'having a youth'. There's so much you don't know after all, and much to experience still! Mistakes to make and learn from - like the flaregun incident, eh?

>Using Armintell's death against Mnemosyne
We don't really know the details of his passing - was it an accident or murder, was it covered up or not? - so it'd be tough to come up with something insightful and disruptive. You'd have to delve deeper. Nanoweaver for sure knows more.

That said... poking at a highly personal loss is far far ruder than poking at a handicap - remember this for a conversation with Diagram if, as you say, Koilo is dead (wait, when and how did HE die?) - and we didn't get too many benefits out of doing that against Astrolysis.

If you'd like to remain cordial-ish with Mnemosyne after the match you should also be careful with what you say - easy to push someone over into 'hate' if they're already wondering about the extent to which they dislike you. Given that she's such a damn good generalist you might want to try for some extracurricular training with her... if that's worth it.

>Why make me like this?
Why NOT try to do something better - or different - if it's the last shot you got? Based on the few clues available, I'd say she wants your existence to... make up for something? Something related to the Memory Trace and the clone it was from, I'd hazard. There does seem to be a plan in place of sorts, one she didn't tell anyone else about. Maybe it's related to something Patz mentioned about the pacification trigger being designated as the 'rogue' gene encoded on the leftovers of the gene traces. If the bothersome flashbacks were a side effect of that, maybe that trigger is what's missing from you. And maybe that's why some people are nervous about you becoming a loose cannon - there'd be no easy way to stop you using said trigger.

Though, was it really the 'last shot' per se? If Amica was made AFTER you were decanted, and Nanoweaver - along with whomever - was intentionally trying to create SAI entities that could do more than just record and advice - they were testing her capability as a weapon against the Parasignia users - then that carries an unfortunate 'this had unforeseen consequences' in direct parallell to what Koilo and Lirren were doing in pursuing the chimeric clones' psychic potential. Nanoweaver's irrational fear of Amica may stem from recognizing that some kind of interaction between you two COULD lead to disaster.

And let's be fair, Amica, as a mass of nanobots that can consider herself a person and kick ten kinds of ass, does represent a rather scary pinnacle of AI technology if she were to become fully independent with no limiters. Then again, that 'too dangerous' logic can be stifling to a developing individual, as you well know.

>Very glad I asked /s
It does indicate Armintell's death couldn't have made that big of a splash - at least not while Nickel was around. Hushed up, maybe? With you saying Diagram's father is dead - if it was Koilo - then how many people HAVE died on this base?

And if you are to really get Nickel engaged in conversation some time, perhaps you'll just have to bite the bullet and ask her about her morbid interest in death and the not dying - and whether she's happy with how hard it is to kick the bucket nowadays. Seems like a pretty polar opposite to Astrolysis' point of view, doesn't it?

>Graph
Speaking of the man, it sounds like him and Troveheart didn't get along in the end, which is interesting. Lirren Gala was the project lead, the main head behind all of this, and it was he and Koilo who discovered the psychic potential in female hybrid clones. There's a lot of responsibility on that guy's shoulders for what went on here, even if he may not have entirely wanted it, or be the only one to bear it. If anything, Patz Testemillion seemed to have been the one who pushed hard for this program to become what it was intended to be - and to put in the pacification trigger - while Lirren was clearly torn, to the point of tears, when admitting his reservations.

Yeah, that project launch memory sequence was a doozy.

>Wat do
Bah, chatting your ears off here - all four! Why not at least try speaking to Diagram? If you think she's having a difficult time with this - she might, good on you for considering that - being there for her is at least nice to offer, even if it isn't needed. You don't have to pry unduly in that case. Could try to make it Intermingling practice in getting someone to focus on less unpleasant things.

Just start off with asking if she's okay, that the SAI didn't intend to spy, but had noticed her having an unpleasant experience, and that if she needs a distraction or a shoulder to lean on it's the least you could do. If the offer isn't taken then say fine, you'll be around and she can call on you if or when she's ready to speak, about this or anything.

So, yeah, just offer support during a potentially tough time and be caeful you don't prod any hurts to make them worse. If it turns out she wants her space... we can go for a chat with Nanoweaver.

As for a shorter activity... have you ever taken a look at the project lead's office? No place is off-limits to you bar the Nexus Weave with us inside you, so we could let you in for a quick poke about, as long as you're not seen (good thing you've trained your sneaking skills with Nickel, eh?). Maybe he had files on personnel you could skim to find something out about Armintell and Mnemosyne.
>>
No. 1048629 ID: 15c72a

>>1048558
>Said he didn't want to work with Dr. Troveheart anymore
Interesting. Is this the first time we've heard of someone having beef with him?

See if you can scrounge up some basic armor, then mess with the Prototype SAI.
>>
No. 1048648 ID: 174e98

Yes, going to talk to Diagram would be a good idea, though you should approach with a sympathetic poise if you want her to open up.

Otherwise, Nanoweaver or Judicium are also good, in that order.

We can even chat with Amica, learn more about what her whole deal is.
>>
No. 1048954 ID: b708ea
File 166807949087.png - (573.89KB , 1000x1000 , DiaDoor.png )
1048954

>If you'd like to remain cordial-ish with Mnemosyne after the match you should also be careful with what you say - easy to push someone over into 'hate'.
When it comes to Mnemosyne's fight, we may have to play it by ear, see how I'm doing. Can't say I like the idea, especially now, but I NEED to win this.


>Patz mentioned during the flashback that Koilo wrote children's books in his spare time.
Whoa whoa WHOA, why didn't any of you mention this earlier?! Did you all just think a bloody military facility imports storybooks or something?

Diagram's father is one of the Project Leads?
I mean, it would make more sense for that to be a thing, but I thought he was just a regular scientist!
I've known Diagram this long, but...
I don't really know what she even thinks of me now. I'm only just learning these things about her and she never brought them up to me before. What am I to her?


>Why not at least try speaking to Diagram? If you think she's having a difficult time with this - she might, good on you for considering that - being there for her is at least nice to offer, even if it isn't needed.

May as well try to see how she's doing, right?
Off to see Diagram.


On the way over there, I scrounge up a spare piece of armor from one of the nearby rooms. Not everyone took all their belongings with them when they left - so I think they won't need it, heh.
I've got a piece of armour that'll protect me from the first shot I take from Mnemosyne.

When I finally arrive, I knock on the door.

There's a shuffling, and-
She... doesn't look especially pleased. And she's got her suppressor on already.

"Sorry, I'm not done with modifying the Amp Ring yet."
Immediately, the door starts sliding closed and I hold it open.
"What? No, I'm not here for that. I'm here to check if things are going alright. Is something up, Diagram?"

Diagram looks at me like I just blew up her latest project.
"There's a lot on my mind, I've got to sort through them on my own. Sorry. Maybe I'll feel up to it tomorrow. It's not your fault, Argine."

What does she mean?
"Wait, Diagram, can you-"
>>
No. 1048955 ID: b708ea
File 166807950582.png - (486.10KB , 1000x1000 , DiaDoor2.png )
1048955

She shut the door on me.
When's she ever been this assertive? Something must really be getting her down, then.

I'm not going to try to bother her more now, but I've gotta say, this doesn't feel great.

And...
Tomorrow night? If I chose to do Amica's request, then I'd be able to put a timeslot aside for Diagram and talking things out with her then, but that's IF we want to see Amica at all.

Amica, huh. Purple weirdo's my sister, supposedly.

Nanoweaver made the both of us - but WHY make the two of us? And why make us LIKE this?

>Why NOT try to do something better - or different - if it's the last shot you got?
I... guess. It's a bit different when it's about someone who's alive though. If I try something new with my girls - my guns, they can't tell me that I screwed up their barrel, right? Kind of messed up if Nanoweaver's been doing this behind my back the whole time.

I don't know if I believe Amica yet. I don't know if I WANT to believe Amica yet. What she's said before, about someone lying to me... that's still eating away at me and I'm not sure I want to find out.
Argh, enough of this! Losing to Astrolysis has gotten all my thoughts in a loop. I CAN'T keep going on like this!
>>
No. 1048956 ID: b708ea
File 166807952830.png - (108.66KB , 1000x1000 , thecuuuuube.png )
1048956

I head back to my room briefly. I kinda want to talk to Nanoweaver still, but I've left the Prototype SAI behind too long, haven't I?

Here's the plan - I'm going to pass on seeing Nanoweaver because this whole situation with the Project Leads? I've... got a feeling. Not a good or a bad one, but a feeling. Plus, with how she probably did make Amica, there's some truth to what she's saying. I want to investigate, bring back more info to use if I want to pry something out of Nanoweaver.

And there's nothing better than the Prototype SAI. Not to bring it to Nanoweaver and freak her out, since she doesn't want me interacting with Amica but to see why Amica gave it to me in the first place.
Picking up this cube again...
It wasn't like when Amica handed it off to me. Everything then... it was unpleasant.

Now, it seems to be... pulsing? Almost like a heart. Weird. When I dumped it under my bed last time, it wasn't doing anything.
With you around, it's probably re-activated itself again somehow.
When I try to move around the room with it, when I take it closer to the door... it pulses more and more.

This thing's trying to lead me somewhere and I'm going to see where it wants to go.
>>
No. 1048957 ID: b708ea
File 166807954510.png - (547.75KB , 1000x1000 , Office1.png )
1048957

Can't say I like the idea that this thing's giving me directions. I mean, Sykes - the lot of you do it, but I can at least EXCHANGE words with you. This thing's... creepy.
A box of dead people or somethin'. Diagram's said that SAI Splinters aren't really full people, so if this thing's meant to be dead, maybe that's why I can't hear anything directly.

I don't know where it's taking me, but I've got a strong guess as to somewhere of relevancy.
And right when I choose to walk in the direction of the Project Lead's office, the pulsing quickens.
Called it.

I barge in, since there's nobody who's going to stop me anyway.

Last time I was in the Project Lead's office was with Diagram. Ironic, since it's where she first told us about her situation with her dad.
We sorted through those documents, so the room's a lot emptier than it used to be now.

I've never really seen the Project Leads at work as much. In fact, they were practically invisible by the time I was around. I never really got to know them like the others.
And for Koilo... I don't think I've heard much about him at all, honestly.

There's... conflicting accounts on what happened. But whatever did happen, he's gone, like Leeza.

>I do wonder though if Koilo in raising Diagram wasn't trying to assuage guilt over - well, everything, but also over the fact of you all have had to effectively skip over your childhoods.

Yeah, I mean... everyone comes out as an adult, since I don't think kids would've been super useful in battle. We still do some learning here and there after we're out, since they can't put everything into our minds with skill traces alone.

>Everyone makes mistakes, ones to learn from - like the flaregun incident, eh?
Har. THAT taught me not to listen to the blind monster who can't even FIRE a gun. I was dumb to even trust her advice when I already knew she couldn't aim for shit.

Scanning around the room for anything suspicious...
The pulsing grows stronger as I get closer to the table - but nothing's on it.
Welp, when in doubt....
I push the table over onto it's side and -
There's a seam in the floor. Fairly hard to notice, actually - the damn thing blends in almost perfectly with the ground, but I guess moving the table across has caused it to shift a little.

I pry the thing up with a bit of effort.

Huh? A case?
I smell secrets.
>>
No. 1048958 ID: b708ea
File 166807955645.png - (351.15KB , 1000x1000 , Office0.png )
1048958

The case's lid snaps open with little effort and I almost drop the bloody thing. Who the hell puts the whole weight of a table on top of a false floor panel?
Under the dim light of the office, I can see a sparkle.

This thing...
I'm getting a similar sensation to when Amica first handed me the Prototype SAI.

Are these SAI fragments?
They're trapped inside this little vial, so I'm not hearing anything, but the Prototype led me here to begin with.

Then there's the question of who hid this thing in the first place. It had to be one of the Project Leads, otherwise it doesn't really make sense for it to be here in this office.

...


It's getting late.
I can sleep on this problem, but...

Do we want to see Amica tomorrow?
This is a pretty important choice, because if we are, I can just get to solving her problems as soon as possible instead of dragging things out.
The alternative is forgoing helping her out and spending the day getting other things done.

Personally, I'm leaning toward helping her since each time I've done something for the people who're most on my side, I get something pretty notable.
Helping Diagram got me the Deck of the Storyteller, helping Nanoweaver got me a new weapon (which, while I didn't get to use it last fight... I get the feeling that being able to block bullets with my arms is going to be useful against someone who can ACTUALLY fire projectiles at me)...
Amica, however weird she is, is still an asset I can make use of. But I also get where everyone's coming from, with not wanting to invest too much time into her in case she decides to up-end this place.

So the question is what we do about her.
>>
No. 1048959 ID: 15c72a

>>1048958
Spooky stuff hidden away in the project lead's office?
INJECT IT INTO YOURSELF

Talk to Amica. She convinced Diagram to unlock her, that's gotta mean something.
>>
No. 1048960 ID: e5709d

>>1048958
We see software glitches when we stare at it.
I think you're supposed to inject this into your bloodstream. We'll interrogate it ourselves.

>See Amica
I think your course is obvious: you need to convince her to fight alongside you during the final exam.
What? Judicium got to equip her during your 'duel'. Ask for clarification of the rules if you need further convincing.
>>
No. 1048962 ID: dee951

Immediately injecting strange substances upon finding them, with no precautions or due diligence? WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?

That thing is causing visual data glitches when we stare at it. It's obviously broadcasting something. You need to seek at least SOME basic analysis of this thing!
>>
No. 1048966 ID: 30b9f6

>The Cuuuuuuube
So our little memory bundle buddy is calling to us from the beyond, eh? Pulling you to the project leads' office was no mistake. That was intent, which Amica claimed it would have little of. Hm. Well, I guess we're necessary for that to happen, and it's not controlling your body like what occurred when Amica did the handover. I guess we're fine for now, but do stay wary.

>Diagram's father was a project lead?! Why didn't you/she tell me?
So it seems, and the significance to you was lost on us. Frankly, for a while I presumed you knew.

But maybe you just shouldn't make too big a deal out of it? Diagram may have appreciated your unvarnished view of her as just... herself and not someone painted by her adoptive father's influence or legacy. Does this even REALLY change anything between you? If you're upset you know so little about her - well... it's not like you asked much about those kinds of things before, right? More interested in ballistics and engineering challenges, as I recall, and we witnessed your attempts at chit-chat during gal-pal night AND your rapid zoning out, so I'm not sure Diagram is entirely to blame here.

If you want to learn more about someone, you do have to have patience for topics outside of your immediate interests.

>Leeza gone
So the Princess is dead too. That's two project leads and one soldier - with a significant love relationship to a Parasigna-using clone. Despite this place being far removed from the war. I think we can shift the hypothesis needle away from Armintell's gunshot being some training accident. It may be better to presume that something went down - a confrontation? an experiment gone wrong? - and that people died as a consequence, including top brass. There was also that memorial you went to. Mnemosyne said it went up for 'a few people who died', which suggests those deaths might've occurred at the same time.

>Diagram's rebuff
At a guess - and it's really only a guess - Diagram's dream-hack may have prompted her to do some digging into the past and she may not be enjoying what she's finding. It would definitely involve people she knows (or knew) and it would be disconcerting to discover that people you've considered friends, colleagues or parents were more involved in... unpleasant things than you'd thought. Or lied to you about them.

Hm. She did admit to Amica that she was staying around for a certain someone (+you). Someone who she said she cared a lot about, although she couldn't exactly express why. A bit weird, wasn't it? Could that be a symptom of the Pacification Trigger at work? I can't imagine the internal conflict that'd cause if you figured out you've been liking and listening to someone because your genes were literally telling you to.

>Integrate SAI splinter!
Ah. I'd suggest that you in no way shape or form integrate unknown SAI splinters into yourself/us without at least someone else around to handle potential repercussions by, say, being ready to remove them again. Among those who probably could, I'd count Nanoweaver, Diagram and - sigh - probably Amica.

That said, we're getting the same static-y vibes from these splinters as we did from the cube, if not as strongly, which suggests something is going on in the background. You might be unintentionally integrating something through sheer proximity - by way of wifi or whatever makes the SAI network function.

Could these splinters have been kept in that specific box for a reason to prevent a bleedover/access effect into the local SAI network? Can you see anything special about that box it was kept in? Would it have served as some sort of faraday cage?

Regardless, you now have hands on secret memory recordings that some project lead kept hidden from others, and it's entirely possible there's upsetting materials within. Also, Lirren had the tools to remove SAI splinters and Patz knew about those, so those two are (for now) the most likely suspects of who could have made this memory dead drop. The real question is what do we do with them? Whoever you hand these off to for analysis - if you don't just leave it be or attempt the probably not great direct absorption idea - sounds like it'd be fairly significant for what comes next. They may deal with what's discovered poorly, or deal with it by hiding it from you. Hmph. If only you had the time and know-how to find one of those SAI memory reconstruction wizards on a computer terminal or something, you could investigate these splinters yourself.

But if you had to turn to someone, then out of all of the SAI-savvy types I'd probably still trust Diagram the most - there is also her having difficulty lying while her suppression is off. Sadly, we don't know how heavily things are affecting her and how long it'll take her to get back into a decent frame of mind. For one, Diagram has a lot more free time she can spend on digging into things than you do, which could end up with her really going down the rabbit hole for a bit. Meanwhile, you have to balance prepping for the tournament with messing about with all of these friggening ssssecretsss.

Time. I would argue you need more of it, just so you can absorb info, pry into the context of all you're discovering AND readying yourself for your match against Mnemosyne.

Which means you should just Avoid Amica entirely. You don't need her feeling you up for info - like she literally did last time. Yes, I'm sure you could get something from her - something significant - but things always come with caveats from her, and it's a real distraction from the tournament. Even Diagram's gotten distracted, possibly thanks to her if she was behind the hack, which could hurt your odds. Like, what if she can't complete the Amp Rings on time?
>>
No. 1048969 ID: e51896

>>1048966
agreed, lets not see Amica right now
>>
No. 1049030 ID: fab065

Yeah, when Diagram she had a father, I had assumed it was one of the higher-tier researchers here, since those are really the only males allowed anywhere near Site-70. Even before the playback confirmed it. I'm surprised you didn't come to the same conclusion.


I suspect helping Amica will bite us in the ass down the line, someway, somehow, but at this juncture, I submiy to that fate.
Let us walk boldly into the trap. Lo que serĂ¡, serĂ¡.

As for the contents of the vial, maybe we should..... try to combine them with the cube?

Also, what was the name of this world? And after all this is over, shouldn't we go searching for survivors so they don't get erased?
>>
No. 1049136 ID: 15a025

Showing this to Diagram is probably our safest bet.
>>
No. 1049249 ID: b708ea
File 166842140025.png - (535.04KB , 1000x1000 , MassiveRegret.png )
1049249

>INJECT THE FRAGMENTS INTO YOURSELF!
>Maybe we're supposed to interrogate them!

...I may have some weird ideas sometimes, but even I can tell injecting things into myself is a terrible idea. And I don't even have a needle.

>You need to seek at least SOME basic analysis of this thing!
>Showing this to Diagram's probably the best bet.
Yeah, I agree. Nanoweaver's acting weird whenever I bring the likes of Amica up and the Prototype SAI led me into finding this, so Diagram's the only real option when it comes to figuring this out.


>So our little memory bundle buddy is calling to us from the beyond, eh? Pulling you to the project leads' office was no mistake. That was intent, which Amica claimed it would have little of.

Yeah, that is a bit weird. This is a guess, but, what if it's like... a ghost, but made outta technology? I'm going off what I've seen from a movie or two, but maybe why the prototype SAI resonated with that area was because it was trying to find more fragments to make itself complete? I've got no clue what makes a SAI 'alive' or 'dead', but it WAS pretty still before we decided to dig further.

>But maybe you just shouldn't make too big a deal out of (Diagram's dad being a Project Lead)?
>Does this even REALLY change anything between you?
Maybe not. It's more that...
She's supposed to have been someone I was on good terms with, but even if she knows what I'm like, everything happening of late shows that I know too little about her.


>You did zone out during that conversation during gal-pal night.
Oy oy oy, that was BECAUSE THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT STUPID THINGS. If there's one thing I don't care about at all, it's interpersonal drama, what soldier did what, who got into a fight with each other... the two of them were talking about that and you could not pay me enough rations to pay attention to those kinds of details.
I'm not really good at talking to other people.
Other people can be weird. It's not like with machines or guns where they all have rules. Follow those rules and they'll perform fine. If not, then they'll jam on you.

>Diagram's dream-hack may have prompted her to do some digging into the past and she may not be enjoying what she's finding.
Yeah. Especially if it's about Koilo's daughter, right? Because I have a feeling he wasn't talking about Diagram if that's the case.

>She did admit to Amica that she was staying around for a certain someone, someone she cares a lot about.
I just... wonder who that's supposed to be. I mean, Diagram gets along decently with a lot of people and she works with Nanoweaver. Nobody's really coming to mind but I don't think she's staying behind just for me, especially since I don't think I've been doing a good job at being friends with her.

>Can you see anything special about the box the SAI Splinters were kept in?
Hrmm... maybe? It does seem a bit heavier than usual for something that's so small, so maybe you're onto something about it blocking signals from the SAI. But if that's the case... was the dead SAI picking it up because of how different it was? Why hadn't Amica gone to grab it earlier?
Point is, it's secret - and the Project Leads wanted to keep it secret. Something Lirren and Patz didn't take with them when they left.

I want to see Diagram and try to smooth things over in future.
But whatever we do will have to wait until tomorrow. I'm not going to see Amica - there's more I have to get done still.


---

If I knew breakfast was going to be like this, I wouldn't have shown up at all.

Before I could even get a single bite in, Astrolysis had to show up, drag up a chair and won't let me leave.

"What's the matter, Wirehead? You haven't even touched your ration yet."
It's... horrible.
I don't have the appetite any more.
>>
No. 1049250 ID: b708ea
File 166842143107.png - (629.16KB , 1000x1000 , DISGUSTANG.png )
1049250

The half-congealed goo's just... splashing all over her. Is this stuff even supposed to be like that? I thought it was meant to be more like jelly.
"That's because ALL of them are on your side! AND I DON'T WANT ANY OF THOSE ANYWAY!"

The infamous omelet rations. The worst the facility ever got. If the inventor of these were still alive, I'd shoot him in the leg for plaguing our facility with an excess stock of this stuff. When we're this late into the project that made us, of course we're going to start running out of the better options.
"Eh. More for me!"

She's squeezing them into her mouth like energy gel packets.
It's... it's getting all over her fur! Does she even care about that?

I can smell it all the way from over here and it only makes it even worse.
"Why do you like those?"

"Whmehrlmkk eezkhuzz eeddayyslokrhk."
I didn't get a word of that.
Be glad that you don't have more senses built into you, Sykes. This is the worst.

Finally, she swallows the... mass and starts speaking in a more understandable way.
>>
No. 1049251 ID: b708ea
File 166842145941.png - (478.15KB , 1000x1000 , moduleproposals.png )
1049251

"So here's the deal, wirehead..."
Little bits of the... jelly-like egg omelet ration are flying out of her mouth as she talks.
It's disturbing.

"You help me break into Creampuff's office so I can take something of hers and I'll hook you up with one of the gadgets you didn't get, 'cuz you lost."

I really don't like how she phrased that.
"Who's Creampuff? Ozone?"

"Yeah, her. I heard that she's got this COOL SWORD that she dug up from somewhere and I wanna get my hands on it. Maybe I'll keep it if I like it enough!"

...Is she talking about that decorative sword that belonged to Leeza before? You told me that she was a princess, so maybe that explains why it was so fancy. I don't think I've ever heard of anyone talking about a Project Lead being a princess though, so it probably was under wraps.


"Look at it this way. If you didn't get your ass kicked, this woulda been free. You helpin' me out, well, that's time you coulda used elsewhere, yeah? So it works out, it's all fair."

I'm not sure that Ozone or the others would have the same kind of logic as Astrolysis, but if she's giving me this opportunity then... ugh.
I don't HAVE to do what she says, though. Provoking Ozone would be pretty fun, but I also wouldn't want her bothering me again in future. Maybe if I could pin the blame on Astrolysis during the heist or somethin', then I'd be able to avoid suspicion.

Whatever we choose, here's how it'll pan out -

If we do end up helping Astrolysis, that's going to be all three timeslots we've approximately got today. We WILL get a new gadget out of this - one of the two that I should've gotten from Astrolysis, if I won last time. But it's pretty likely to also piss off Ozone, which I don't mind but could cause problems for us.
I doubt Astrolysis would cheat me out of the gadget but she's going to be an absolute pain in the ass to work with - planning the theft is going to take a whole timeslot alone, even if it's trivially easy for me to get in and out of places due to our ability to just hack any door open.
The other two timeslots are going to involve us waiting for the right time for when nobody's around to check up on us, breaking, searching and then returning things back to normal so she doesn't immediately figure out that we were the ones who took it. It's going to be a complicated plan, especially since I can't trust Astrolysis not to screw things up in the process.

If we choose to forgo helping Astrolysis, she may just let us help at a different time, but who knows what goes on in her head? This may be the only opportunity we get to obtain one of her gadgets otherwise.
Point is, skipping it also lets us have the rest of today prepping even more for Mnemosyne's fight, in exchange for this opportunity.

What's the call, Sykes?
>>
No. 1049252 ID: 15c72a

>>1049251
Fuck no! What kind of hero helps steal a sword that clearly has so much sentimental value? You don't even have a grudge against Ozone, and Astrolysis doesn't even have a good reason to want it.
Tell Astrolysis if she wants to see the sword so much she can just ask to see it. You know, like a normal person.
>>
No. 1049253 ID: e5709d

>>1049249
Most people don't have enough memory or willpower to comprehend life. That includes us fragments.
Sociopathy is when someone is so emotionally hollow inside that they can't help but stalk every detail until they find the developer tools to society itself. Hence the villainy.

>>1049250
Blind is based.

>>1049251
...
Steal the sword for yourself.
Point the blame on Astrolysis.
Then deconstruct the @#$%er and see if they added any enchantments to it. Enchantments you can use against Ozone.
>>
No. 1049254 ID: dee951

>>1049253

Good lord, are we giving up every semblance of morality and restraint now? Ugh. Devoped tools to society? Ugh, please! Game theory states that a cooperative stance is most optimal in situations where you will continue to meet the other actors over time, and especially if there is a system for punishing defectors. Like, you know... in an insular, closed society withbat least an attempt at military discipline?
>>
No. 1049255 ID: 398700

>>1049251
This is the kind of bad idea that makes people think you're an honorless pratt on top of hating you for less justified reasons. They'll only try harder to destroy us.

Let's not, it undercuts us tactically for comparatively little benefit.
>>
No. 1049266 ID: 30b9f6

>Worst ration
Haha, omelet is at least good protein and the big gal needs her chow - and so probably do you. Choke it down, Argine, some water'll help.

Weird that you're not getting fresher supplies through the Weave Nexus, though. They're at least kicking something through, right? The odd care package from some of the people who already left - if nothing else? About the only thing we've seen for sure that must've come through it he letter and bullet you found in Judi's office.

>table manners
I suppose Astro's don't care about the mess she makes when she can't see the atrocious results. She'd need some friend to care, or a role model, to shape her up on that, but goodness knows if there's anyone left here that'd be up to do that - and whose opinions she'd care to listen to.

At least pass her some tissues. (Or toss them at her.)

>What's the call?
The call... is that Astrolysis needs to work on her pitch. No actual offense - she could at least have informed you what the gadgets were to tempt you, so you know what you'd be missing out on. That's just basic salesmanship.

Plus, YOU know this would get Ozone royally pissed (pun intended) since the blade clearly got sentimental value to her. And you have multiple things to do and could section up your day for that, not just spend the entire thing planning and executing a heist - as, uh, exciting as that prospect sounds, actually. Maybe it'd be worth it if we knew or suspected the blade itself held some kind of special property or secret... but as far as we know, it is 'just' a dead project lead's blade, right?

So, the offer doesn't seem good enough on its own. You'd have to upscale the deal, get some other benefit, or have things change, to consider it again, I'd say. Or use the break-in as an opportunity to gather intel and maybe discreetly sabotage Ozone's own prepwork. She's bound to rely on heavy gear a lot, so sugar in the gas tank and those kinds of fun, hard-to-notice tricks could actually help you out a lot. Not very fair, though.

Anyway, since Astrolysis doesn't seem to be very in the know, you could tell her you were the one to actually find the blade. The COOL SWORD was indeed COOL - straight, fairly long, had that whole spiky Asliann sun-pattern handguard thing going, really big hilt - and you know for sure it used to belong to Leeza Wickerknell. Then... say you're not keen on helping snatch it back, even for a gadget. There was something about the look in Ozone's eyes when you handed it to her - after the teeny tyrant first blackmailed you into helping her find it - that makes you think she's not going to take losing it well.

I'd say this is simply a bad idea that you'll - for once, for now - have to pass on. Frankly, if anything, you can confidently state that Astrolysis' sword was the more badass of the two - Leeza's didn't seem like it could split fucking atoms!

>Redirect Astrolysis
Tell her if she's so keen, why not impose on Ozone and pester her to lend it out for a bit? You doubt she'll say yes immediately, but if Astro's got nothing better to do while waiting for this 'joke tournament' to come to its conclusion... well, as the (sigh) victor of her match, she's not pressed for preptime, is she? So she's got little to lose by going over to ask nicely - and, y'know, threaten Ozone's prep time by imposing.

(Get Astro to bother Ozone using the same tactic used on you. A smidge of turnabout is fair play, isn't it?)
>>
No. 1049272 ID: a2d88b

>>1049251
No way, you're not so desperate as to give up on having standards.
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No. 1049456 ID: b708ea
File 166859601902.png - (532.45KB , 1000x1000 , Sourgine.png )
1049456

>What kind of hero helps steal a sword that clearly has so much sentimental value?
>This is the kind of bad idea that makes people think you're an honorless pratt.
>No way, you're not so desperate as to give up on having standards.


Yeah, you know what? I don't NEED another gadget. Even if I'm desperate to escape this place, I'm not going to play servant to Astrolysis of all people.
I don't need people like Ozone breathing down my neck, or giving them MORE excuses to hate me.

>Astrolysis needs to work on her pitch.
What, you think she's any kind of good negotiator at all? She threw the previous sector boss off a balcony. Heh. I could ask, but there's no point when I'm not going to help her out to begin with.

"Sod off, cheesehead. I don't need to make MORE enemies in this place. I'm not taking your deal."
Astrolysis doesn't change in mood at all and picks up another ration packet.
"Eh. Whatever you say, wirehead."

I stand and leave - I'll go grab breakfast a later time, when she's NOT gorging herself on that slop.

>Weird that you're not getting fresher supplies through the Weave Nexus, though.
Well, we do. That's when it isn't on lockdown because they're trying to stop me from breaking out with your help.

>You could tell her that you were the one to find the blade.
And give her free info? Nah.

>Tell her if she's so keen, why not impose on Ozone and pester her to lend it out for a bit?
Ooh, now THAT'S an idea I can get behind.

I stop, giving her a quick parting blow.
"Hey, if you're really keen on that sword, why not go and pester Ozone about it ? Have her lend it to you. And if she doesn't say yes, you could just keep asking!"

The brute scratches her chin thoughtfully, like her singular braincell is pingponging around in that skull of hers. Her fingers are quickly stained by the goo splattered over her face.
"Yeah, not a bad call, wirehead! I'll go ask, heh heh."

And with that, she goes and continues... 'eating'.

>I suppose Astro's don't care about the mess she makes when she can't see the atrocious results. She'd need some friend to care, or a role model, to shape her up on that, but goodness knows if there's anyone left here that'd be up to do that - and whose opinions she'd care to listen to.
She listens to Nickel's opinions but that's it. I don't think either of 'em care about table manners.

>As far as we know, the sword didn't have any special properties to it, right?
Yeah. I couldn't feel anything THAT special 'bout it when I picked it up. If there were hidden mechanisms inside, it would've been harder for me to break it down as part of my Parasignia.
Point is, I'm getting out of here. I don't want to hear OR smell whatever Astrolysis is doing over there.
>>
No. 1049457 ID: b708ea
File 166859603845.png - (366.23KB , 1000x1000 , PLANNINGUNDEUX.png )
1049457

I'm going to try to get through these as fast as I can, so try to give me multiple options when you're suggesting my next move.

1. Do a task for Judicium for more armour.
Remember, while I've already found a piece of armour - the armor Judi has access to since she's the person who knows where everything's kept, they go OVER any armor I can find. Specialized plating, basically. Means I get to have an extra layer of protection without overencumbering me. As such, another piece of armor will null another instance of damage I would've taken.


2. Talk to Nanoweaver and clear things up for our sake.
There were a LOT of options we considered for talking to Nanoweaver. If we're going to see her again, make it clear what we're going to be asking about. I don't think she's going to take well to us interrogating her - if we're going to do this, tell me which question you'd like for me to focus on prying out from her.

3. Train with Nickel again to complete her set of training. Not much to say here but the only thing she's got left to teach me is Marksmanship.

4. See Judi and ask her for advice against Mnemosyne. Technically this is different to asking her for armor because this is more of a straightforward conversational task. I don't know exactly what it'll take for her to open up on it, but it's a strong option.

5. Tinker with my gadgets again. As far as I can tell, I've pushed the Pitch Prefect and the Barrier Generator pretty far already, so it's going to be difficult to find more applications for it. Alternatively, I could try to improve my actual weaponry as well - particularly my guns. Maybe going up against all these people with friggin' MAGIC SHIELDS has made me realize that armor penetration alone isn't going to cut it. Not that Mnemosyne and Ozone have the same kind of defensive capability as Astrolysis, but I feel that my girls could use a little love and polish. Pick a specific thing for me to improve in this case.

6. Try to learn... SOMETHING from Astrolysis. Dunno if she'd be down for this given that I turned down her plan to take Ozone's sword, but if Nickel offered to train me before, then Astrolysis probably can provide some knowledge herself. I don't like her - not when she pounded me into the concrete last time, but she could let some important info slip if I choose to hang around her.

And... this idea only came up now that I've talked to Astrolysis but...
We COULD sneak into other people's rooms and dig for info ourselves. All of the Sector Bosses gotta be hiding some kind of beef, right? That... includes my sister too. So I'm adding this as an option.

7. Sneak into a given Sector Boss' room for information. We can enter and leave pretty much without being detected and if we just delete the logs of us breaking into their doors and if we don't take anything, then there's no problem!
We've snuck into Judi's office before so it's not like we're heading in there to STEAL things from them. But it could provide valuable info - as long as it's someone WORTH investigating.

Diagram... I'm reserving the slot that would've gone to Intermingling with other people for her this evening. So we'll see her after everything is done.
So which of these options do you feel like would benefit us the most?
>>
No. 1049462 ID: 9a2966

1 - Armor. Do the Judi task. Let's give ourselves some additional slip-up room. (Caveat: if the task is long and complicated you can afford declining here.)

2 - Advice. Get word from Judi. She and Mnemosyne are contemporaries and have known each other long. Draw her into conversation about her colleague by presenting the Armintell file and say you've visited the memorial outside. What was that all about? Did she know the guy? Say Mnemosyne mentioned they were close. Was he her trainer? You can dig into Mnemosyne's fighting style from that angle.

3 - Sneak. Mnemosyne sector. Get a tactical overview, lay of the land, areas to avoid to not get caught off-guard by her Parasignia.

4 -See. Nanoweaver. You don't have to be too confrontational, but ask why she gave you the Armintell file. Then ask... about us. The SAI. If you hadn't mentioned it already, mention lowkey that you're getting visions and you don't like it, or the implications of getting flashbacks when you previously hadn't. Bring up that gun analogy - goes ping all of a sudden, bad sign, right? Get her to explain what makes you different and why bringing the SAI into the picture changed things.

If she's reluctant, you could try to press about Amica instead. Why are the two so hostile to one another, when she made her? You've been informed she's kinda-sorta powered by Nano's Parasignia in the first place - how does that even work? (Diagram's reaction to meeting her - and how unrealistic according to regular science she felt an entity like her was - means we think there's some truth to this.)

It was quite tempting to suggest finishing Nickel's training too - improved Marksmanship while moving IS good, since strong wind can move you whether you want to or not - but I imagine that's going to take up a large time slot, so you might not be able to squeeze in as much. Better to take your time to train properly later - though I won't mind getting outvoted on something on this.
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No. 1049476 ID: e5709d
File 166862727291.jpg - (9.54KB , 250x251 , burial_blade.jpg )
1049476

1) Tinker.
This... is the burial blade. It's one of my favorites; a collapsible scythe modification that can turn your sword into a bent spear. Scythes were once considered the tools of the psychopomps, and the designer of this weapon intended its use for sending the tormented to a long-overdue grave.
One of its stronger features is the extendable range; with the right mechanisms, the blade can shift to a straightened spear mid-swing, increasing the range of your attacks while catching your mid-range opponents off-guard. The original design used blood-based mods to increase its powers, and I suspect that applying gadgets to your trick weapons means you can swap weapon mods with different weapon stances.
Having a four-foot pole is also useful in the long run.

Other than that, do >>1049462
>>
No. 1049486 ID: 15c72a

>>1049457
5. Tinker with your guns, see if you can give them Plug's quickdraw ability, or the knives' penetration. Also, can you experiment to find out what happens if you combine Plug with your guns?
5. Tinker, see if you can get your explosives to make bigger booms or your laser to output more energy.
1. More armor, and also, ask her for advice on how to be a hero, because the fact that you considered Astrolysis's task at all is a big red flag. I need to stress this again, that would have been EXTREMELY unheroic. Committing crimes or causing suffering for personal gain is not what a hero does.
>>
No. 1049544 ID: d4674b

The previous suggestions sound very good, but maybe instead of asking Judicium for armor, we should improve either the capability of our guns to pierce through super powered barriers, their accuracy, or the blink capacitor, so we can move around the battlefield faster.
>>
No. 1049545 ID: 15c72a

Oh shit that's right. If we can extend the range of the blink capacity, or reduce its cooldown, that'll help a lot for maneuverability.
>>
No. 1049663 ID: 15a025

Only thing I feel strongly about is working with Judi to get another piece of armor.
>>
No. 1049750 ID: b708ea
File 166902592463.png - (809.52KB , 1000x1000 , TinkerTrainin.png )
1049750

>The fact that you considered Astrolysis's task at all is a big red flag. I need to stress this again, that would have been EXTREMELY unheroic.
Hey, look, I asked specifically because I wanted to see what some of you splinters had to say.
If there's someone you should go and talk to, then go and sort things out amongst yourselves first.
And I turned her down, alright? Don't get on my case. You haven't been dealing with her for years of your life, only a dozen days at best.

Whatever. I'm going to get started.

Tinker time. What'll it be?


>A collapsible scythe modification that can turn your sword into a bent spear!

...Hate to say it, Syke, but I'm NOT a swordsmith. And doesn't that kinda sound like it's going to absolutely bust whatever weight balances and polish that Astrolysis put into it?

>Tinker with your guns, see if you can give them Plug's quickdraw ability, or the knives' penetration.

Now that's something I can get behind.
What I'm going to work on are my gals - The Sound and the Fury.
Hate to say it, but they've really been falling off considering the increased levels of defense my opponents have been putting up. They did well enough against Judicium, but that was three fights ago. Against Mnemosyne, Ozone and my sister? They need some upgrades. I've already got a few in mind.

I'm surprised Judi ended up making my new outfit with holsters considering I normally haul these two around in my noggin' or wherever my weapons go when they're not manifested. But it does mean I don't have to make 'em myself.
I did some... lateral thinking. If I can bring my weapons to me while fusing them together, then I could do a simpler version of it as a recall method.
Takes me a couple of attempts to train myself to do it right... but soon, my guns are flying right back into my fingers.
So now, I can keep The Sound and the Fury on me at all times, and I've got the capability to draw them back towards me if I'm ever disarmed.
Just those two though, because my other guns - I haven't been around them as much. Moving guns with my mind's tricky, alright?

I've yet to be given an opportunity to even use the damn studs on the grip because most of my opponents aren't just going to let me beat their heads in. But no, I am NOT throwing my guns at people as a strategy. They're guns! THEY SHOOT BULLETS!

Besides... why would I throw 'em when I've also improved bullet velocity as well?
A big issue and part of the reason why my guns have been underperforming was because these few fights have been my honest first few times fighting against other Parasignia users. I know Parasignias are part of why we don't exactly die when we're shot, but that also means whatever physical trauma we receive is lessened. I don't think my head would've been very intact when I got shot by Nickel that one time otherwise.
So by compensating for that and adjusting the output of the bullets, I can at least, give myself SOME extra force behind my shots without having to combine the gals with one of my other weapons. Awesome.

In addition, this change means I now save a slot for my other guns, though given that I only have Plug, the Silkweave Gauntlets, the Creirwy D-3 and the H-ED DSTR, that just means I can have all three of my main guns on me at one time. When I get more guns in future though, it means that I'll always have access to my gals, for Guns Blazing or for general use.
>>
No. 1049751 ID: b708ea
File 166902594330.png - (789.71KB , 1000x1000 , TinkerTwo.png )
1049751

Developing all of this takes time. Grabbed lunch while you weren't looking, since I skipped breakfast because of Astrolysis.
So next up then - nothing said I couldn't fix up more than one item per day, right? I've got a hankering for more improvements and engineering.
It's relaxing to just - figure problems out like this and address them the best I can, especially since the gadgets we use often have a lot of different principles behind them. With the Blink Capacitor, that thing's made with exotic technology - so it took me much longer than I'd like to figure it out.
But I wouldn't be a bloody badass if I couldn't handle it, heh.

Here's the biggest change - I've basically doubled the range on the Blink Capacitor. The tech behind the thing's pretty weird, but Diagram did say she was pulling from tech similar to the Weave Nexus, so I'll consider this a look at understanding similar tech when I'm outta here.

Before, though I've never really measured the Blink Capacitor's raw distance, it was something like... 4 or so meters at most. Enough to get me behind people, through a door, so on.
Now? It's roughly 12 meters. That's much more and to put it into perspective: Before, I was able to teleport behind people and occasionally dodge attacks. I don't have to go the full 12 meters, but it lets me reach the roof of the Foundry's buildings without having to stand right next to a wall. Keep that in mind in future since we can use the Blink Capacitor for more manoeuvres in future. I still can't go though solid matter, but stuff like wider wire meshes, I could probably slip through. Not sure I want to test that theory though.
I think Diagram really meant it when she said that it was unfinished like the Amp Rings - it took me the better part of this afternoon testing and tinkering to get this much mileage out of the teleport.

I wasn't able to improve the cooldowns before - and keep in mind, each time we were using the Blink Capacitor, we were slotting the Beam Unit into it perpetually, which made it have unlimited uses and faster charge. So while I can't improve the cooldown on it much further without the damn thing exploding, I have given it functionally unlimited uses, or at least enough uses to last me a whole fight without any issue. That being said, if I was engaged in some kind of long-term fight with RAPID teleportation usage, I wouldn't be surprised if the thing gave out on my eventually. Slotting the Beam Unit into it will still give improved cooldowns however.

>Also, can you experiment to find out what happens if you combine Plug with your guns?

Yeah, sure.


...
It takes me a bit.
And uh...
Putting the whole thing aside - using Guns Blazing to combine my gals with Plug - I get what seem to be axe guns. THROWING axe guns.
I guess that... that works. I'm still not throwing my NORMAL guns at people, because the idea of someone catching them to disarm me is a pretty real possibility.
Given that I can recall my guns to me through the new recall feature, throwing axes are definitely much more viable. If I was a melee weapon freak like Astrolysis, throwing axes probably would have been my first creation.

But with that, I think I'm good to go for now on the tinkering.
Next up, finding Judi.
>>
No. 1049752 ID: b708ea
File 166902596359.png - (809.73KB , 1000x1000 , LastChatFortheday.png )
1049752

Took me a bit to actually find Judi, but here she is.

"Hey, Judi - question for you. Could you tell me about Armintell? I was doing some tasks and I paid a visit to the memorial outside."
She stops, seemingly happy at being able to chat to me.
Granted, I'm not sure how much Judi knows about the situation with the SAI - but I get the impression she knew a lot more than she initially let on if she's this friendly with me.

"Haven't heard that name in a long while. I didn't get to interact with him much, so there's not much I think I can say, but he was close to Mnemosyne. That much was true."

"Was he her trainer?"

She guffaws.
"If by trainer, you mean throw pillow, then yes, I suppose that would be accurate. We are objectively stronger than most regular people, at least the ones from this world before we got connected to the Weave. Still, Armintell put up a good fight. It's just - our lives were less valuable than the lives of the normal soldiers. We were created to be their replacements. So, forgive me for laughing, but - he was a bit of a funny man in that sense."

I'm changing the topic.
"Does Mnemosyne have any favored ways of approaching the situation when she was training with Armintell? She's good at all kinds of weapons but I've only seen her fight a few times."
And... those were impressive times indeed. If anything, I wonder why she stayed here when she could've easily made a name for herself in the Weave.

"I suppose Mnemosyne did have a strong fondness for CQC despite her proficiency with multiple different weapons. But she's fond of gadgets, much like you are - and she's got the flexibility to adapt to a lot of situations."
She laughs - again. It's so weird, hearing her so cheery. Was she hiding this side of herself this whole time?
But, yeah. It's easy to forget the Sector Bosses DO have gadgets - Judi used a flashburst on me in our fight. Or rather Amica did.

"Maybe after your fight, you could ask her for a tip or two. I'm sure she'd appreciate a new training partner, especially one as resilient as you, Argine."
...Resilient?
"What do you mean?"

"Even despite your circumstances, you've remained determined to see your goal through. I understand that I've played a role in being antagonistic to you - but seeing you grow and improve is a good thing. The SAI must definitely be helping you out plenty. Studying under Mnemosyne could really help further your own progress."
In the past, I'd have agreed. But when I needed to win the most, I still lost out. Am I really resilient at all if I lost my way at such an important time?

"Though I understand why you're hesitant to see her, I think there's some traits in you that she'd appreciate. Armintell - while he was less outspoken than you, he was steadfast. The man had his principles and stuck to them."
There's a look in her eye.
"But he certainly wasn't bad. Few could keep up with us - and yet, he still made the effort to. Their sparring brought the best out of both of them. Maybe you could help her relive some of those memories?"

I change the topic. We can decide what to do AFTER I win my next fight.
"So... what happened to him?"
I don't have to show off his casualty report - playing my whole hand at once when I already have an excuse's just wasting tools I have up my sleeve.

"Ah... it's a sensitive topic, Argine. Soldiers from the younger generation don't talk about it as much because ones from the older generation are hesitant to bring it up. He did die and that's something strangely rare in this place."

She strokes her chin thoughtfully.
"He died fighting off people who attacked the base. Multiple good soldiers died in that attack and things were never quite the same around here ever since."

"How'd this base get attacked? We're in the middle of nowhere."
They'd have to have come by boat if that was the case.

"Infiltration, it seems. The identities of the people involved were kept under wraps but a few people betrayed us. I was never directly involved at the time, so I was left out of the loop on things. I had to get my information afterward."

So we were attacked from within? I've got a bad feeling about this.
"It's a sensitive topic. We lost some good people - and you know how your fellow soldiers can get. Whatever truly happened, information didn't spread around too quickly. A riot wouldn't have fixed the problem at all and the Project Leads didn't want that happening. As such, it's a bit of a taboo talking about it, but..."

She shakes her head.
"There's nobody here to start a riot anyway. It's just something you should know."

The topic definitely doesn't seem to be one she wants to linger on as she changes it herself.
"Will that be all, Argine?"
I was going to ask her for some armor, but to be honest, I don't think I have the time to do a task for her at this rate. I'll pass.

"Yeah, thanks for the info. And thanks again for the outfit."

I walk off, leaving Judi alone.
So now the only thing I've got left in the day is seeing Diagram.

Me... I want to ask about her dad and see her account of things. Maybe not going into everything that you saw then, since I wasn't there for it - but what's the most pressing question to you guys? I wasn't there for it, so I'm having to go off of what info I've heard so far.

That, and I'm concerned about overstepping my bounds. What's the strategy here? I want to know what happened but I'm worried about pushing too much and getting kicked out - not exactly great at reading social cues, so I'll admit I want your help with this.
>>
No. 1049754 ID: 15c72a

>>1049750
If we hadn't been against it, would you still have turned her down? Gone against our advice, for ethical reasons?

>>1049752
>Judicium is acting totally differently now
Huh, she wasn't like that before she was ordered to be strict with you? ...maybe she's more of an actor than I thought.

Diagram? Ask her what we're really made to do. This is a good time to find out exactly how much she's ready to tell you, and us by extension.
>>
No. 1049773 ID: 9a2966

>Badass toolmaker
Crafting for the win - and the fun. Glad you got to enjoy yourself for a bit there.

>Armintell
Persistence is a kind of superpower all of its own, true enough. Though now that I look back, Patz seems to have done a bit of matchmaking between Armintell and Mnemosyne - he planted the seed of fraternization as it were. In hindsight, given Mnemosyne being one of the first clones and there being a secret plan for some sort of psychological pacification trigger, I think that's somewhat suspicious. If it was implemented they would've wanted to test this feature and see it actually work. Possibly to fine-tune it for later generations.

That said, I doubt Armintell would've been involved in the sus direct. From the memories he really was just some regular grunt - if a dedicated one.

>Was she hiding this side of herself this whole time?
Possible, but she was also inhabiting a different role as your teacher and superior officer and with her loss in the tourney and the approaching deadline... the relationship dynamic shifted, no? Don't forget you also figured out she didn't actually hate you and want you dead. When you lowered your hackles, it's not like she'd have any reason to keep up her own guard.

>Why did Mnemosyne stay?
Syne said it herself... kinda. This place is too important to her. The thought of leaving it behind when you've such a history and formed so many significant memories probably hurts, and it's an open question whether that psychological trigger is playing a part. Yet, to be fettered by the past is never something a loved one would want for someone they truly cared for. At some point Mnemosyne will have to deal with that fact and move on. Maybe it's possible to help her there, somehow.

>Attack on the Island
Infiltrators, multiple soldiers dead... yeah, that would've set a bad tone, increased suspicion and paranoia - must be why it got shushed so hard. Feels strange that there was no follow-up sabotage efforts or that the project site wasn't moved after it got outed, though. Either the higher ups must've been pretty confident this was a one-off thing and that they caught most or all the infiltrators or they thought they could defend the site regardless. Or... who knows, maybe something else actually went down.

It might be nothing, but also take note that Judi mentioned multiple soldiers dying in the attack. That MIGHT have included Leeza, but for sure wouldn't have included Koilo, as a scientist and project lead. Could Diagram's father have passed away under different circumstances, or was it all the one incident?

>Mnemosyne training
Would be nice to finish up Nickel's regime first, but if you get through this match while still on Mnemo's good side you should seek her out. You're both gadget-using generalists and she's got far more experience than you. Judi did not suggest this lightly, I think.

>not reveal everything since I wasn't there
Fair, but I feel it's worth commenting the extent to which we - even if we weren't the source - were piggybacking some kind of targeted remote access that fed Diagram a whole bunch of reconstructed memories while she slept. She might be in the process of being manipulated here, so she should be informed there's something a bit iffy went on and that we were involved somehow.

>concerned about overstepping bounds
Just ask if she's feeling better, if you can have a chat, and say you might have some stupid questions but she can freely nix those. Don't get upset at her if she does or the answers don't satisfy. Externalized frustration won't serve much when someone's putting up a wall - they'll typically just fortify harder at that. I do think you're right to be concerned though, this whole business has been ripping into her. Remember when you saved her? She had to be crying and and being bullied for a reason. Remember how sad she looked when she found that photo of Troveheart and her father and you had to give her a hug? There's some genuine trauma here. Whatever happened to Koilo it must've left Diagram hurting, from loss, or worse.

I half suspect you not giving - or knowing - anything about her or her father was part of what made her your easy friend. So whatever else, you're not here to give her grief. If anything you want to clarify you realized how oblivious you've been about her wants, her past, her motivations... and you're wondering whether that's a fault of yours, or something that was okay for her? And whether she actually wants to ever talk about it.

She made the point a while back that the two of you may not have a great deal of time left together, so with this being one of the few times you're gonna sit down - without having to locate each other through the Weave somehow - you should try to keep it good. Start small talk by showing off today's gadget improvements - she might appreciate starting with a familiar sort of topic, get her on more even mental ground.

If the Amp Rings aren't ready just tell her to take her time on them. No need to pull an all-nighter, you're pretty okay prepped for the Mnemosyne encounter anyway.

>pressing questions
Keep the press low, if steady, if she's up for it. Just let her in on some of what you know, given what we've told you. Can she verify she had the dream? Has she figured out how she might've gotten remotely accessed by the SAW while sleeping? Can she prevent it from happening again or is she as much at the mercy of whatever's causing this phenomenon as you/we are?

Going into the dream, what did she think of it? It is a reconstruction, so it's not like all the memories and thoughts were exact matches, right?

Does she know what could cause - or break - that psychological trigger thing? Would ALL the clones have them, or would there be different variants between the generations?

Let on that you found a hidden set of SAI splinters in the project lead office. Would she be willing to show you how to review them safely?
>>
No. 1050169 ID: c96f56

Maybe start off by talking about regular things, ask about her books, play some game, genuinely comingle a litle.

Then, after you feel she is more at ease, ask yourself "why do I want to know about her and her dad?"
If you can word your reasons logically and also show that you don't want to make her feel bad while learning, she will be more willing to chat with you.
>>
No. 1050223 ID: b708ea
File 166945712666.png - (765.16KB , 1000x1000 , onlebed.png )
1050223

>If we hadn't been against helping Astrolysis, would you still have turned her down?
I'm not sure. To be honest, I hate both of them.
You're advisors in my head telling me what the best thing to do is - and usually you're giving me a reason. If there's a logic behind the suggestion, then I'd probably take it.
Ozone, Astrolysis - they're both unpleasant to be around. If something's going to happen to one of them - I wouldn't really be bothered by it that much.
But...

But thinking on it now - maybe it's for the best that I didn't go through with it. Ozone... as much as she's been a pain in the ass, she can be pitiable on her own. At the time, I really thought the rest of you were going to be on board for it - to get a gadget we should've received. If Astrolysis could take the blame, I thought it wouldn't be too much of a problem. But then.. I guess I'd just be helping some blind monster kick a rabid animal in the chest. Both of them aren't great, but I don't think I want any part of that anymore.

>Could Koilo have died in a different incident to the one Armintell died in?

...Though Judi never said it, I doubt it. If someone dies, especially on-site? You bet they're never wanting it to happen again. Things seem like they're lining up too much for that to be a coincidence. Whether it's my circumstances, whatever the hell Amica is doing and how the Sector Bosses are acting - this all adds up to something.

>Remember when you saved her? Diagram had to be crying and and being bullied for a reason.
Come to think of it... I suppose, some people took issue with Diagram in the past. I wasn't always around and if anything, Diagram's only known me for a small fraction of her life since she's been around longer than I have. I think... those clones that day weren't fond of her because they thought that she got too much special treatment for a non-combat Trace Clone. I suppose when the Project Leads started packing up and leaving, they thought that they could push her around more.

>Whatever happened to Koilo it must've left Diagram hurting, from loss, or worse.
Right. It's a touchy topic and well... I'm not especially good with delicate situations like that. But I'll try.


Time to head to Diagram's place.
The door's already open by the time I arrive, so was she expecting me?

I walk on through and -
She's sitting on her bed.
"Hey... Diagram. I let myself in 'cuz the door was open. You doing alright?"

"Ah, hey Argine..."
There's a look of dejection over her - even I can tell that much.

"Do you... want to talk about it? I've got the time to spare and I'm not going to force anything on you. "

"Thank you, Argine. I'm... I'm not as delicate as you think I am. I've been around for longer than you have."
Yeah. Maybe so.
"Even I had my rough times. Just two days ago you helped get my shit together. Maybe I could do the same for you."

She doesn't look so sure.
"Yeah... maybe."
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No. 1050224 ID: b708ea
File 166945714405.png - (475.45KB , 1000x1000 , AmpRingGet.png )
1050224

Let's start small first.
I don't feel comfortable enough to park myself next to her tonight, so I drag her work chair over, sitting down.

"First of all though, I wanted to say thanks. The Blink Capacitor, the Creirwy... your tech's helped me through these fights better than you'd know. Hell, I'm impressed by the quality of work that went into the Blink Capacitor. The thing's unfinished and even then, it was doing so much for me!"

She perks up a little. I guess familiar topics like these... they remind me of when we first started hashing things out. Funny how I never especially wanted to associate with her back then, but her persistence led to this down the line.

"Just today though, I ended up finishing off the work you started. Mind taking a look?"
I hand over the improved Blink Capacitor, telling her about some of the improvements I've made.

Her eyes light up and I find myself smiling in turn.
"Argine, you did all of this yourself? I'm impressed! Especially on the energy source, what did you do for it?"

Hah. At least someone around here knows how badass I am.
"Well - I guess my own Parasignia makes me more aware of how everything's put together. Both fights I had after I got the Blink Capacitor, I had put the Beam Unit into it to give it unlimited usage and faster cooldowns. Really improved my manuvreability for sure. While the energy source you used here wasn't bad - some of the principles behind it I don't understand because it has to do with the same tech used in the Weave Nexus. But I figured that if the Beam Units' energy source worked well through my Parasignia, I could try imitating the melded effect WITHOUT having to slot another gadget into it."

My Parasignia's pretty handy in that sense - if I want to improve my gadgets, sometimes just by studying HOW my Parasignia combined the effects of two gadgets, I can figure out new ways to innovate.
...Hm. You know, Diagram... does she have a Parasignia of her own? She's a non-combatant, but...
My train of thought's interrupted by Diagram.
"Argine, here! I wasn't just sitting doing nothing this whole time."
She tosses me a box, the contents clattering inside.
Wait, this is...
"The Amp Ring? So you DID get it done in the end!"

"Yeah. Mnemosyne is who you'll be facing next, right? You can use all the help you can get, and I didn't want to disappoint you!"

"I appreciate it."
And of course, I strap the rings on and feel the power run through me.
Once again... there's that analysis in the corner of my head.

>[DEVICE ANALYSIS]

>AMP RINGS

>Gadget developed by Diagram, designed to be worn on the user's limbs. Has a limited battery life.
>Allows for the temporary amplification of physical strength. Can be used to pick up and move objects heavier than usual, but is limited by the user's own size and durability. Other physical traits can be amplified, such as jumping distance and height, but this can pose a risk to the user when used without cushioning or ways to slow one's fall if used at maximum potential. Otherwise, a trained user can navigate battlefields much quicker - but natural lack of control mid-air means that careful usage is paramount.

>Previous issues with Physical Recoil to user have been amended, making extended Amp Ring usage safer and with better output.

>DIAGRAM'S NOTE: Reducing the Amp Rings' physical recoil was rather tough compared to working with other gadgets, likely due to how it augments the user's own physical capabilities. While I probably could have tested this faster if there were more volunteers around, that isn't the case. So I had to make sure that I wasn't going to injure myself while working with it. Similar to the Blink Capacitor, the Amp Ring draws on principles from the Weave in terms of how technology interacts with our bodies and Parasignias. Since you're the only one receiving it, Argine, I'll spare you the details. I hope you enjoy it!

>Tags: Empowering, Amplifying, Intensifying

Huh. That makes a second device made using exotic technology.
I break the gadget down and absorb it into my Parasignia, giving Diagram a solid thumbs up.
But we can't just talk about the fun stuff forever. We've got shit to do.
>>
No. 1050225 ID: b708ea
File 166945717227.png - (837.92KB , 1000x1000 , whatdoyousufferfrom.png )
1050225

"To change the topic...", I start.
"I think - I know what was on your mind before. It has to do with what the SAI recording was, right?"
She nods.

"Diagram, I-"

"It's alright, Argine. I know you've got a fight coming up so I should probably talk to you about what had happened, right? You never saw it - the SAI saw it in your place."

That's true - but I've heard enough to have some direction in this.
"I guess - I never expected to see my dad or the Project Leads again. Not like that. Not... what they were talking about."

She can't even look at me. I don't like her... being like this.

"Are you okay with talking about your dad?"
I've got the feeling that asking her how he died's a bad idea.

"Maybe... another time. But there's something I wanted to talk to YOU about, Argine."

She twiddles her fingers, exhaling.
"The pacification gene... that's something I looked into before, but I didn't like where it was going. Seeing this memory again doesn't make me feel especially confident."

Finally, she looks at me and asks a question.
"Do you know what happens when, in AI programming, a condition is met and the AI takes steps to replicate the behaviour but the biases put in place are too powerful?"
I shake my head.
"I'm not sure I get you."

"Ah! Sorry, I went into AI terminology there for a bit... Basically..."

Diagram makes a motion with her finger that looks like a mortar shell dropping onto a bunker.
"Things start to overcorrect. Depending on how our genetics were put together - the conditions for the trigger could be broader than the project leads thought. After all - it's not like this technology had been perfected yet. And once its' triggered... the results of the 'pacification' could be completely wrong. What if it didn't actually do anything like that at all?"

I lean back in my seat, frowning.
"So you're saying that - the thing that the Project Leads put into our heads, it's supposed to suppress us if anything goes wrong, but because the mind's a complicated thing to work with, there's a strong chance it'll go wrong and make us flip out instead?"

"Something like that, yes."

"I've talked to my SAI about it. The Sykes... they think that if that was the case, we'd have seen an incident already. But from what it sounds like, there's nothing like that in this facility's history for the most part."

"Sykes? You mentioned them last time we were here - is that the SAI's name?"
Oh, right. We never officially told Diagram that you got a name.

"Right, yeah. Sorry, I forgot to tell you. Point is, I think it's unlikely that we ALL have this pacification trigger, if at all. If it was put in each and every one of us, then we'd have heard about it ages ago. This facility's been going on for more than a decade, no way something wouldn't have cropped up by then."

"I-I guess. But - I hope I'm not reading into this too much, but the SAI - your Sykes... playbacks like that have to be initiated manually. There has to be a reason SOMEONE showed us the past with the Project Leads. And...

"Are you thinking that I could be the one who has something like that? That part of why we were shown it was so that you were aware of the problem and try to fix it before it gets out of hand?"

"I... well, I can't deny the possibility. If the trigger was actually a gene and intentionally left out of the picture, then... it's possible you could have ended up with it. But that's just a possibility. You're my friend, Argine and I want to get to the bottom of this. If there's actually a problem..."
She looks hesitant for a moment.
"We'll figure it out together."

I'm not sure how to feel about this, but...
Diagram's still willing to support me, even in this case. That has to mean something.
Could this be tied to why the Sector Bosses have kept me in the dark for so long?
On the topic of the SAI...
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No. 1050226 ID: b708ea
File 166945721894.png - (597.45KB , 1000x1000 , SitDownnnn.png )
1050226

One question comes to mind first.
"So here's the thing, Diagram - just what is the SAI meant to be? We're all wondering it. I've had 'em in my bloodstream for more than a week and I can't say that they're JUST for monitoring anymore, can I?"

"To be honest, I'm not sure any more. I initially thought it would be simple, but... what Nanoweaver and Judicium said before wasn't a lie - the SAI monitors people, records the data and makes it accessible through splinters. But I guess there's a few ways that you can use it. I wasn't myself to be involved in all of this."

"How so?"

"To put it one way - the SAI's meant to JUST be a recording of the past. The way the advisory functions work is through reassembling relevant neural data and then beaming it to you. It originated as a spinoff of the ability for the SAI to probe into the thoughts of people at the time, as asking questions and simulating the potential responses would lead to better quality information."

I guess that's kinda like how you pester me with questions so you can get a better insight into my mind.
The recordings are lucky. They don't have to deal with stupid questions in person, 'cuz it's not really them.

"I was able to see some of the past through the SAI. Normally... normally that needs SOME kind of outlet, some way of actually viewing the recorded data properly. I don't have one of those, so the SAI was almost a black box to me when I was looking into it before this tournament. But I was able to see it in my dreams - presumably because of how I connected up to you when we first attempted to communicate mentally. That... means someone would have to intentionally act as a signal receiver between an actual... playback device and my mind. I don't have a long range for the SAI and you definitely weren't hanging around my room, so... something has to be happening behind the scenes. Maybe Amica's intentionally leading us to this."

I nod. Yeah, that makes sense. Weird shit's been happening ever since Amica gave me that cube, so the idea of SAIs bouncing signals off each other makes sense.

"Alright, quick change of topic since she's been brought up. Amica gave me what was supposed to be a dead SAI - which ended up leading me to a set of splinters. I don't know why she didn't go get them herself, but - I have a feeling that it's important."

I fish the vial out of my coat, jiggling it around.
"Would it be a good idea to inject it into my bloodstream too?"
She looks shocked for a moment.
"What? Argine, please tell me you haven't really been considering that!"

I'm glad that I inspire confidence in all my friends and associates.
"No. In fact, I had to talk the SAI down from doing so. Point is - Amica seemed to have been looking for these. But I'd like to take a look on what's on it first, ideally without shoving it into my bloodstream."

Diagram considers this for a moment.
"Well, if we wanted to see what was on it - we'd need access to a proper SAI reader. While injecting it into your body like with the existing SAI is an option, we don't know the actual properties of the splinters inside - and they won't be of much use without something to directly view them."

Okay, so injecting it into my bloodstream WOULD most likely have made things worse. Good to know.
"What about Nanoweaver? She's got a... thinghy in her room. Apparently she used it to go over some of the SAI's splinter recordings before."

"She's got one of those set up? That would work!"

"Problem is... I have a feeling that whoever's setting this thing up doesn't like Nanoweaver. It's almost guaranteed to be Amica, but - do we want to directly ask Nanoweaver about this? She doesn't like Amica and I have the feeling that she's hiding something big from us, even if I know she cares about me."
...What Amica said - about one of the two lying to us... why do I get the feeling that she's not wrong?
People lie to people they care about too. I don't doubt that Nanoweaver cares about me, but... can I really doubt her intentions with this as well?

"I could talk to Amica instead, directly. Have her address this problem at the root instead of us guessing."
But it would mean giving the SAI Splinters over to what amounts to a rogue SAI.

"From my own talks with Amica...I don't think she's a bad person, Argine. But I don't know if it's better to bring it to Amica or Nanoweaver. But we should choose now. You don't have all the time in the world."
I think Diagram has a point. We need to choose what the best way forward is - whether we approach Nanoweaver or Amica with these splinters.
Diagram doesn't know what Nanoweaver's told us - but... there's a chance that Nanoweaver removed those splinters herself. Or that they have something ABOUT her that she'd really not have me find out.
In addition, I have a feeling that Diagram's intentionally avoiding talking about her father. I could definitely press her on that issue but part of me's worried about how things are going to play out. But if we do, we could be getting info that's going to give us much more context for some of the broader-scope issues going on here.

So, here's my question:
Should we bring the Splinters to Nanoweaver or Amica?
We could also take the third route and try to find a solution ourselves, but... I don't like that idea much either. If you needed to hitch a ride out of a warzone and there were two unmarked transports who claim they've got your interests at heart, versus a scooter you found in a ditch that's still functional. We MAY get out of there safely - or we could get screwed even harder.

In addition to that: Should I press Diagram for more info on her dad?
She's... 'warmed up' in conversation now, and she says that she's not that delicate. Maybe being all touchy-feely and overly considerate of her's the opposite of what she'd want, but I wouldn't know. You guys are the social experts, what do you say?
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No. 1050230 ID: 15c72a

>pacification gene might backfire
Well that might explain the bullet. It was meant as a last resort in case you went berserk. They don't even know what might trigger it... heck, maybe that's what happened with your sister- she got pacified because of a too-broad trigger condition, and the rest of the base thought you might have beaten her up because you had gone berserk. I don't think you did, but it might have been on their minds for a while.

If our primary purpose is to record information, maybe we're an additional layer of safety for you? If your trigger goes off, we can see it happen and record it, so that it can be researched and potentially cured.

Ask Diagram about pseudosignias! Specifically, ask if she has a Parasignia, and if the two of you can get a pseudosignia going.

>show splinters to Amica or Nanoweaver?
Amica didn't say to keep them away from Nanoweaver to begin with, and was super vague about whoever's lying, despite that being KINDOF IMPORTANT. I suspect Amica has a contingency plan for if you show them to Nanoweaver...
How about a Fourth option? Have them both in the same room when you show off what you found. Play them off eachother, see what drops off the tree when you shake it real hard.

>talk about her father?
I have no strong feelings one way or another.
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No. 1050290 ID: 15a025

It could be risky, but is there a possibility we could break in to Nanoweaver's office and have Diagram check it out?
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No. 1050307 ID: a2d88b

I think you should go with Diagram to show it to Nanoweaver.
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No. 1050431 ID: 9a2966

>Amp Rings
Sweet! Absolutely an item we should bring for the next match. This Syke approves.

>Press Diagram or not - Not
Since she still hasn't volunteered and we've made clear you were curious, let's leave Diagram's past alone until she's willing to share of her own initiative or the need becomes pressing to know more about her dad. You can tell her you're interested and you'll try to make time for her if she ever wants to talk about it, but it's up to her how 'tough' she wanna try to be around you. You're not here to make her final days in this place unpleasant. She's been a supportive friend and that matters, yeah?

If you wish, you can give her a reassuring pat on the shoulder or a light hug. That might not do much for you, but it probably will for her.

>Choose Nanoweaver or Amica - Nanoweaver, with caveat
What makes Diagram think Amica isn's a bad person? Good people can still justify doing bad things - though same goes for Nana, really - but it would be interesting to figure out a bit more about what motivates Amica here since we still know relatively little about her. People can put up a false front to get others to do what they want - Patz sure did, to lesser or greater extent - though, maybe, not as easily with someone like Diagram. Hm...

I'd be inclined to take these splinters to Nanoweaver just to force the dang veil of secrecy open from her end - or at least expose it for what it is: secrets kept deliberately from you, answers witheld for whatever reason, with no intent to explain until whatever all of this is... is over, or progressed further than it currently has.

That said, if Diagram can put into better words what she thinks makes Amica a not-bad person, perhaps it's worth considering giving the splinters to her instead. Nanoweaver probably will not reveal the full truth, even if you do confront her. She's got something riding on all of this - something that was important enough to lie in the first place, after all. It may even be she'll just destroy the splinters and refuse to talk, or try to take additional steps against making us not speak with Amica. Surely she'll let something slip or be forced to reveal some of her hand in response, but Amica would probably spill more beans, perhaps if only to upset Nana's careful planning.

>Third option - split the delivery
... so there's this possible option. Could Diagram get us a second container and split off some of these splinters so you could deliver half to each of them? Or, I dunno, copy them for later perusal if we're able to get our own terminal? Depends what she's got the tools for. If we have to deliver to one then we have to, but I like the idea here.

>Other options, bike edition
Getting both Amica and Nanoweaver in the same room using the lure of these splinters might lead to disaster, but it depends on the circumstances. I also think leaving each of them with half the splinters could be a move towards forcing them to get together to share their findings if they were both truly unaware of the contents. I do think we at least should find out more about what makes them so estranged before we try to get them together though.

Sneakily getting access to Nanoweaver's terminal may be possible with our accesses, but she said she'd have to set up more security measures now that Amica was wandering about and Nano is the one of the ones who knows we have all those accesses in the first place - and Amica probably has something similar. We'd almost surely be caught or detected unless we get real lucky or clever.

If only there was material for our own terminal somewhere in the base that we could locate and use! Or we actually knew how to remote hack the one Nanoweaver had without getting detected. No use crying over that spilt milk, though. We have the options we have - and any we're clever enough to come up with on our own.
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No. 1050825 ID: b708ea
File 167007876925.png - (524.62KB , 1000x1000 , properconversation.png )
1050825

>That would explain the bullet, wouldn't it? it's meant for if you go berserk.
Not entirely. I can see the idea behind that, but if they wanted to get rid of me, there's a lot more effective ways to do it than a magic bullet, right? From what I remember of the note, Judi got it from someone else who told her to use it just in case, but... if it were me they were dealing with, then normal bullets would probably work if you used enough. We can regenerate but I don't think even I could survive having my head turned into sauce.

>If your berserk trigger goes off, then we can record it and have it cured!
...That's assuming I have one of those in the first place. Also, I have a feeling that 'killing someone else in a berserk rage' isn't something you can just easily come back from.

>Let's leave Diagram's past alone.
Yeah. I would've been fine asking her a little more, but...
Holding back now's probably a better choice.

"What're you thinking about, Argine?"
Diagram chimes in and I quickly respond.

"I'm running through a few options with the SAI right now."

Time to go through 'em with Diagram.

"Do you think we could split the vial's contents in two?"
Diagram shakes her head.
"We'd need tools for that - and Nanoweaver's the only person I know who'd definitely have some. I mainly analysed how the SAI worked, she was the person who posed the idea to begin with."

So that's a bust.
I'm not sure how easy it is to get over the fact that Nanoweaver thought shoving the lot of you inside of my bloodstream was a good idea, but it feels like she's got something riding on this.

Next one.
"Do you think we could make a terminal for ourselves?"
Another shake of the head.
"Unlikely. SAI splinters have a lot of data in them that would make standard computers poorly suited for the process. I lucked out when I realized that I could connect up, but I don't think we'd have the right kind of tech remaining - most of it got moved out as valuable assets when the Project Leads left."

Damn it, SAIs being so specialized they need their own interfacing tools is pretty rough.

"Alright, here's a change of pace."

"What makes you think Amica's a good person? I get that she's helped me out plenty by now - and was probably who led us to these splinters to begin with, but she's clearly... kinda suspicious? What with the switch-flicking and the whole... spooky look thing she does."

Diagram looks bemused.
"Oh, she did that to you as well? I thought she was just, um, hazing me or something like that. That's... that's how it goes, right?"

Just what kind of hazing is Diagram talking about? I feel bad for her.
"No, that's just Amica being weird. Seriously, what did she say to you when I left last time?"

"She... went over some of her personal history. I don't feel like its right for me to tell you someone else's past, but... she's had it rough as well, Argine."

I'm not sure I can buy that from how she acts.
"How so?"

"Well... Amica - right out of the gate, she reminds me of you a lot. Someone who's trapped in circumstances by others and judged for it. I think at the root of it - she wants to be her own person but can't. I think she acts differently to everyone else because she wants to be someone who's remembered, someone different to the clones of this facility."
Someone who's remembered, huh...

"I hope you don't mind me saying this, Argine, but you're like her in that way too. I think... you've both been hurt by this place a lot, for reasons that none of us are fully capable of understanding. So - just like with you, I think I can really understand where she's coming from and I sympathise. A lot of people don't see the good in you, but I do."

...She has a point.
"I don't exactly have much of a reason to show my good side most of the time either, Diagram. But I'm not sure I can buy her being some sympathetic character when she's been acting pretty bloody weird usually."

"I... get that. But you should give her a chance, Argine."
We'll see.
We're probably going to have to bump up 'talking to Amica' on our list. Not like I have to show up with my SAI splinter vial, but she DOES have an outgoing, unrelated task that she wants us to help out with anyway.
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"Alright, last question, Diagram. Do you have a Parasignia?"

She jumps. Hah.
"A-ah! Did the SAI tell you to ask me that?!"
She suddenly looks... flustered? Cmon, it's not like I'm asking about something embarrassing, am I?
"So you do have one. What's its name?"

She mutters something under her breath before speaking up again.
"W-well, it's... it's something embarrassing, so you'll have to forgive me for not telling you its name."

It's probably for the best she has her suppressor on. I don't need to feel second-hand first-hand embarrassment.

With a quick sweep of her hand - something blips into existence.
There's a little humming sound. The heck's that thing floating around her? It looks... uh, like something.

"This... this is my Parasignia."
The little thing flits around her head like its a pet. Diagram lets it land on her finger, like she's some kinda character outta her books.
"It-it's not of much use in all honesty... see, in the Paracosmic Weave, people's first Parasignias can also be pretty small and underwhelming. For most people who don't get involved or interested in training their abiltiies, their Parasignia may as well just be a minor convenience like a portable lighter or a water bottle that's full as long as they have mental energy."

There's something left unsaid here: Diagram went through something to get that Parasignia of hers. And knowing her, it wasn't something good.
And no way that the 'signia's JUST a tiny drone thing. Diagram, someone who's probably suffering from the death of her father?
Parasignias are... they're reflections of some aspect of us. They're stronger if you feel strongly about something.
Just what does it say about her if it looks like THAT?

"So is it a pet or something...?"

The little drone makes a happy buzzing noise.
"Something like that. I call it... Milligram. O-oh, but for clarification, that's just the name I gave the drone, it isn't what my Parasignia is called!"

That's an awfully cute name.
"Do you think I'd be able to form a Pseudosignia with you? Even if... Milligram isn't much on its own, giving my Parasignia some of its properties could be effective."

"You're not wrong about that, Argine, but you can't force these things, even if you really want it to happen!"
There's that sentiment again.

But Diagram doesn't seem like she's putting me down. What's she got in mind?
"Besides, if you've really been talking to people by now, I feel that you've already fulfilled the criteria for obtaining a Pseudosignia already. I'm sure it'll come to you during the upcoming fight! If stress is a motivating factor for why people develop Parasignias in the first place, the principle continues over to Pseudosignias as well."
That's a lot of faith put into someone who hasn't even manifested a Pseudosignia at all yet. But I have a feeling that she's onto something there.

"Thanks for believing in me. We'll see how it goes."

Now, I don't know how exactly Diagram feels about these circumstances, but she's absolutely hiding just how strong her Parasignia is. Whether it's physically strong or not, it has to be something powerful.
...At the same time, I think I don't need to press her on this. Someone like her... I don't think she should be getting herself into fights if she can.

That's everything that comes to mind right now.
As for whether we go see Nanoweaver or Amica...
Hung court. We'll decide later - I've got the opportunity to do so AFTER I fight Mnemosyne. But it's going to be important.

"Thanks for everything again, Diagram. I hope that you feel better soon, but... if you're feeling down again, come and find me. I'll do my best to help out if you need it. And don't worry about paying me back or anything, you've already done a lot for me."

...That's probably the first time I've really offered something like that.
"T-thanks, Argine. It's odd hearing that from you, but I really appreciate it!"

With that, I say my goodbyes and head out.
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Stepping out from Diagram's room, I can feel the chilly air sweeping by. It's a good thing that Judicium's gotten me this new coat - I feel much warmer than I was before.

...There's just so much on my mind, though. What with Diagram, her dad, her Parasignia, the upcoming fight, whether or not I've formed a Psuedosignia with anyone... it's all up in the air. It's hard keeping track of everything when I still have to fight one of this facility's strongest soldiers tomorrow.

I reach into my pocket, pulling out the thing that's the root of my worries.

The vial of Splinters...
This thing had been hidden away for a reason. Hidden under a table in an old office.
Why was it removed at all? Did it belong to you in the first place?

I turn the vial over in my fingers, the thing catching the dim light.
This thing... this thing's gonna be the deciding factor for what's going to happen next, isn't it?

...But it won't determine how my upcoming fight will go. Only I can, with your help.
There's nothing more I can do right now. I've got a fight ahead of me and I need to ready up for that.


See you on the other side, Sykes.

CHAPTER 3: END


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