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File 159280999777.png - (420.86KB , 1000x1000 , pl_000.png )
970260 No. 970260 ID: e24163

Their chains won’t hold me forever.
203 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
>>
No. 973416 ID: 677406

>>973273
Hmm, she's a melee powerhouse but has no ranged capability.
She's probably used to opponents trying to capitalise on that by dodging and trying to find distance between her and them.

I'd say open with the beam immediately since it's based on cooldown and having it up again as soon as possible is ideal, even if it doesn't hit she'll likely try and capitalise on the opening it's cooldown provides her, maybe that can be used to bait her into going for a big attack we can deploy the explosive shield against. Maybe in riot shield form for more control?
>>
No. 973423 ID: 9f00f4

Can you tweak your beams to INCREASE the ambient thermal bloom and heat-blind her thermal receptors, even with a miss?
>>
No. 973522 ID: 894f15
File 159611160289.png - (604.93KB , 1000x1000 , pl_046.png )
973522

Immediately, I open up with the Beam Unit.
Within a moment, the device manifests on my shoulder, built from nothing.
I pull the trigger mentally, and a jet of high-intensity energy streams through the air, striking Astrolysis in the chest. She staggers backwards, more because of the shock from being shot than the actual force behind it.

Hit 1 for me. The Beam Unit goes on cooldown, dissipating in a cloud of glowing particles.
She breathes heavily, raising her fists again. Smoke curls from the surface of her uniform, the point of impact singed black.
"Cheap shot, wirehead. But I'll give you it."
I grin, spitting back a retort.
"Cheap? I'm sure someone with as terrible taste as you can't tell the difference between vodka and watered-down beer, let alone a shot!"

She brushes herself off, before charging towards me. The options flow through my mind - fighting with you guys is pretty different to when I have to think on the fly. It's like you're injecting the ideas right into my brain!

>Disrupting Echolocation
A good enough idea, but none of my current gadgets are suited for that purpose. Maybe when we fight her again...

>Beam Diffusion
Why the hell would I want to make my weapons weaker? Sure, it may distract the meathead for a couple of moments but she can still find out where I am by detecting where the heat lamp on my shoulder is.
>Jacket distraction
I'm not going to throw my jacket, dumbass. If I take it off, I'll be vulnerable to grabs - it was designed to have very low friction to prevent grapplers from easily snagging me. As a bonus, it lets me slide for a bit if I take a dive, like a goddamn action-hero. For now though...
>>
No. 973524 ID: 894f15
File 159611188058.png - (513.93KB , 1000x1000 , pl_047.png )
973524

Astrolysis lunges forward. The ground shakes with each step she takes.
She's slow, in both senses of the word. I don't know if the laser winded her in particular or not, but the wind-up for her attacks make her utterly predictable as I sidestep and dodge her blows.
Still, I maintain my distance from her as she swings at me, darting back and forth as she encroaches on my side of the battlefield.
Finally, she pauses, her form looming over me. A faint scent of dried blood lingers in the air around her.

"What's the matter, big shot? Feeling under the weather?"

"Just toying with my prey, runt."
She cracks that stupid grin of hers again.

Ugh.
I can't play defense forever - that's not my style. Cmon, we've already got one hit in - just need two more and I can move on with what I need to do.


[OPTIONS RENDERING]
[DISPLAYING PRELIMINARY OPTIONS]
1. Counterattack opponent's assault [40% - Guaranteed Damage]
2. Push forwards with activated Shield Generator [80% - Consumes Shield Generator Charge]
3. Fire Beam Unit towards opponent [70% - UNAVAILABLE - COOLDOWN: 3 ACTIONS]

[SAI-SUGGESTION OPTIONS]
EX1. Use Tranquilizer Needles on Opponent on counter-attack [60% - Consumes Tranquilizer dart. No Damage. Additional Effects.]

Directive Reminder: Displayed odds are estimated. For best results, combine existing suggestions.
Success rates are not determined by dice-roll and will be affected by circumstances surrounding combatant and suggested course of action.

>>
No. 973530 ID: e7c7d3

Counter-attack. In general, Try to go for her ankles. Makes her less stable and helps keep you out of arms reach
>>
No. 973537 ID: b1b4f3

Don't worry, you've got this. The shield guarantees another hit, so all you have to do is hit her once with a punch or kick.
I'd recommend attempting to get both the shield hit and the melee hit at the same time. Begin straightforward melee combat to make her think you don't have any offensive Device options left; hopefully at some point she'll throw out an attack that has an opening for you to hit her at the same time she hits you. Then you just finish the fight by letting her smack against the shield.
>>
No. 973540 ID: 62e4df

Yeah, if your jacket protects you from grapples, counter attack. She can strike, but not grapple you. Once you've got your first hit off you can use the barrier.
>>
No. 973551 ID: 36784c

>>973537
This
>>
No. 973644 ID: 6e6f32

The reactive shield should be used for the last hit.
If used now she'll realize she's up against the wall and get serious.
Counter attack. Slip in and get that second fucking hit. Even if it means she's gonna get two on you, You've a secret weapon so it should be fine.
>>
No. 973646 ID: 5faadf

>>973524
She doesn't seem to have gone for a tail strike yet, I'm willing to bet that the second you try to counter one of her more predictable attacks, it'll be followed with a sting attempt.
If that seems to be the case I think her tail is what you should target. I dunno how strong it is but if you can stab her with her own stinger she'll probably get pissed and be more susceptible to explosive shield finisher.
>>
No. 973667 ID: 45acae

She's waiting for you to use up all your options before ramping up the attack, you KNOW she's toying with you, and she's counting on you being impatient. Don't use up your shield generator. Taunt her to make her come at you stupid, then use the darts.

Say if she's going to mail it in this early, just save her breath for the tournament and give you the keycard now. You know she's a better fighter than she is boss of this place, if only by default.
>>
No. 973672 ID: 15a025

Counter attack. If her attacks are slow and predictable side step around her, hopefully in the direction her stinger isn't pointing towards. That way if she reacts to sting you, you've got an extra moment to react to that.
>>
No. 974621 ID: 894f15
Audio Prelude_Fight_-_Battle_C1_-_(VR_Battle)_-_SMT4OST.mp3 - (5.03MB , Prelude Fight - Battle C1 - (VR Battle) - SMT4OST.mp3 )
974621

Should have posted this at the start of the fight.
Title: VR Battle - Shin Megami Tensei IV
Link: https://youtu.be/af9pTcq5uSo

>>
No. 974622 ID: 894f15
File 159766718047.png - (707.79KB , 1200x1000 , pl_048.png )
974622

Astrolysis closes the gap between us, her prodigious size making it difficult to stay away.
Wait for it...
Again, her meaty fist swings towards me, as I dodge past her initial strike.
This is it!

My fist connects with her abdomen, sending a vibration through my arm. It's like I'm punching a sandbag filled with meat! But it's a clean hit, even if she didn't react much.
"Hah! That's one for m-"
>>
No. 974623 ID: 894f15
File 159766721144.png - (520.39KB , 1000x1000 , pl_049.png )
974623

Something slams into me, pushing me back. Stinging pain courses through my body - her fist digs into the underside of my chest, leaving me winded. For a moment, my feet lift off the ground.
I land upright, stumbling back, the impact shaking me to my core.
Damn, that hurts. That hurts!

My vision blurs for a moment, but the constantly-smiling image of her form remains on display.
>>
No. 974624 ID: 894f15
File 159766736415.png - (788.57KB , 1000x1000 , pl_050.png )
974624

"Y-you...!"

>Patience. Wait for her next strike
No. Screw that! I'm one hit away from victory.
I don't need any of you telling me to wait! I'm one hit away from winning this!

I yell out a battle cry as I rush forwards, hoping to end the fight.

My voice gives out, fist inches away from her chest.
Her foot impacts my chest, in nearly the same position from before, leaving me winded.
I'm thrown back a short distance, the consecutive blows leaving me standing on shaky legs.

My breath comes out ragged as I try to steady myself again, stepping back to a safe distance.
Astrolysis flexes her fingers, taunting me.
"Not bad for a warm-up, eh Wirehead? That's two hits for me!"
Shut up. Okay, get ahold of yourself...
I breathe in, wincing.
"Hit-based duels aren't as fun as slamming someone's head against a wall, but there's always plenty of room for comebacks!", she yammers on.
I hate her. So much.

I'm down two hits, in an instant. Was she holding back this whole time?

Ugh. I still need one more hit on her, but if I get caught out again...

I don't like the sound of that.

So I'll just make sure she won't get an opportunity for that last hit. I need my guns back, and she won't be putting me under her terms.

I've got the shield. The question is, when to use it? She knows we're both on our last hit. Can you guess where she'll strike? My guess is that she'll go for a straight stinger jab if I try to back off, catching me by surprise, but you're better at running these guesses than I am.


[OPTIONS RENDERING]

Projected Success Rates: ???
[INSUFFICIENT DATA. POSSIBILITY MARGIN LIMIT EXCEEDED]
[SAI INPUT REQUIRED]


>>
No. 974625 ID: 094652

Her arrogance demands style and splendor. I predict a tail whip or headbutt, but be ready for anything.

Remember, you have a tail. Try to use it during the fight to grab what you need.
>>
No. 974626 ID: f56a2b

>>974624
You don't want to be guessing on this last one; force her to attack on your terms. Come around to her left, your right, and prepare for a swing from her tail or a roundhouse kick in reaction.
>>
No. 974627 ID: 4286b4

Are the 3 actions up? If so, I'd fire the beam again. If not... then I'd fake firing a beam.

As soon as you try firing it, Astrolysis will try to evade and counterattack. You should be expect this with your exploding barrier.
>>
No. 974645 ID: b1b4f3

>>974624
Insufficient data. Try to force a vector of attack so that the shield will work.
>>
No. 974649 ID: 2e15a9

>Can you guess where she'll strike?
Why, so you can ignore us and get kicked in the sternum?

I like the sound of forcing a stinger jab by backing off; if you blow that off with the shield, it sounds like that will affect her performance in the tourney.
>>
No. 974653 ID: ca47b5

>>974624
okay this is important, has Astrolysis ever witnessed the explosive shield in use?

Not having seen it ourselves I don't know if it has a tell setting it apart from a normal shield unit, or if it it does if it's purely visual.

If no to either of these, since Astrolysis strikes me as the kind of person that prefers to break down a barrier than go around it I think if you use riot shield form and hold your ground rather than retreating she'll try and tackle you to the ground or something similar instead of anything clever.

Boom, last hit.
>>
No. 974660 ID: d63ea8

It's not that you have to wait or attack right now, you need to find an opening.

She has the reach advantage, any action you take that doesn't prioritize defense will leave you open to an interrupting attack.
>>
No. 975744 ID: 15a025

>>974660
Agreed. Go on the defense for now.
>>
No. 976309 ID: 894f15
File 160006144526.png - (765.62KB , 1000x1000 , pl_051.png )
976309

>Why, so you can ignore us?
I have to make more than one decision in the moment, dumbass. If I'm standing there waiting for your input on everything, I wouldn't get anything done.

>You have a tail
It ain't as limber as hers, nor does it come with stingers.


>Astrolysis witnessing the Shield
She doesn't have eyes. I'm the only person with such an ability here anyway.
The beam's still on cooldown, but faking a shot is going on my list of potential ideas for future opponents.

If she uses her stinger...
I hold the image of the modified Shield Generator in my head, quickly stepping back.
Within a moment, Astrolysis shifts stances, crouching down on all fours.

But I'm faster.
The shield manifests in front of me, already armed.
This is it-!
Something sharp jabs into the solidified energy of the barrier, held millimeters away from penetrating through and into my hand.

A blast of hot air gushes past me as the shield's exterior explodes, prompting a roar of pain from my opponent as the offending attack is repelled by ringing fire.
Jackpot.
>>
No. 976310 ID: 894f15
File 160006149872.png - (585.06KB , 1000x1000 , pl_052.png )
976310

I breathe a sigh of relief as the smoke clears and the wounded beast is on the other side, a grimace replacing that smug smile of hers.


>Impact her performance in the tournament
Tch, yeah, sure, an explosion's going to stop the monster that people claim can breathe fire and eats clones smaller than her. Even if bullets were more lethal, she still gets back up faster than anyone else I've seen.

I give a pained laugh, the stinging in my chest a reminder of the close call.
"And that's the third. You owe me a weapon, Foundry Master."

Astrolysis growls, holding her singed tail, before letting it sag to the floor. Her stingers seem to be cracked by the intense heat, but even if it had been blown off by the explosion, I'd bet she would have grown them back before we next met.
"That was a cheap trick, Wirehead. Using your 'signia like that. But I'll let it slide. You'll get your weapon - once it's time for us to duel. I'll be hitting you with everything I've got then."

She belts out a laugh, like the pain of having one of your limbs stuck point-blank in an explosion doesn't even register to her.
The logistics of a blind soldier crafting a gun for me puts all kinds of strange images in my head. Does she even know how to make the barrel rifling? Questions for later.
I open my palm, looking at Astrolysis expectantly.
"Oi, don't forget the key before you go."
She tosses me the keyring off-kilter and I snatch it out of the air. I'm a little surprised it's still intact, but Astrolysis happens to be notoriously fireproof in my experience.

I turn to walk out of the firing stalls and towards Judicium's offi-
>>
No. 976311 ID: 894f15
File 160006153033.png - (564.60KB , 1000x1000 , pl_053.png )
976311

Hnnngh!
I stagger back, the keycard clenched in my fist. There's a stinging pain in my chest, like she cracked a rib. That's... that's gonna take a night to heal.

"What the hell? The fight's over, asshole!" I wheeze, doubled over.
She grins, her teeth glistening with fresh drool.
"Am I dead?"

I can't respond, the stinging in my chest still aching from earlier as I struggle to catch my breath.

"Then the fight's not over! Remember that for when we fight for real next time!"
She cackles as she walks away, a faint smell of ash lingering around her. If there's anything admirable about her, it's probably her resilience.

What a psychopath.
>>
No. 976312 ID: 894f15
File 160006165988.png - (396.69KB , 1800x1000 , pl_054.png )
976312

Picking myself back up from the sucker punch, I make my way over to the entrance of Judicium's office, down the hall from the firing range. My chest's still stinging - she definitely broke something. While I'll be fine tonight, since there's no fights queued up... if I get injured on the day of a scheduled fight, I'm going to have to fight with the injury. I only heal well if I'm conserving my energy, but I should've expected no less from someone who thinks breaking bones in spars is a standard occurrence.

I unlock the door by tapping the keycard to the electronic lock - unlike the other doors I've seen in the compound, this one's wooden and has a handle on it, instead of sliding open once you've put in the right credentials.

Let's get down to business. Where are my guns.
>>
No. 976313 ID: f8fa51

You surely don't need us for this. Still, if they're in this room, that locker on the left seems the most likely spot. Failing that, check for storage space behind that workbench. Then take a closer look at the brown thing in the corner. Is that a cupboard? Only if all else fails, look in the filing cabinet. Who puts a gun in a filing cabinet?
>>
No. 976316 ID: e51896

You think we'll find a .50 calibre round in here? just a reminder.

weapons are Probably in the locked chest and we'll need to find a key. Be careful for traps, knowing this place, your weapons could be somewhere protected by a trap.

I'm interested in the picture and those written papers, but as far as the papers go, you reading it all could take waste valuable time. But lets try something: maaaaaaaybe take a quick glance at each of the papers, and we'll record it and then read it for you while you look around.
>>
No. 976318 ID: 36784c

>>976312
Is that a bed directly to your right? It looks like there’s something sticking out from under one of the corners.

If Judicium thinks you’ll be able to get in here, then odds are she didn’t hide your guns in an obvious place like that locked chest over there. She’s probably got a hidden safe behind either the clock or the poster on the wall.
>>
No. 976319 ID: e51896

Also, should we steal the scarf? Its just laying there... mocking you...

I'm kind of a completionist, but... stealing it seems kind of petty doesn't it?
>>
No. 976321 ID: b1b4f3

>>976312
Why did Judicium just leave her scarf lying around? Okay, obviously that red part is significant. What does it do?
>>
No. 976322 ID: 6aa114

Hmm, that looks like a sewing machine. Would be funny if this wasn't her scarf.

Search through all the drawsers for objectionable material.

Once you find it, and your guns, take the scarf and leave. Assuming the scarf is finished. If it's not, then leave it.
>>
No. 976333 ID: 7cb155

Get inside that green locker, check the contents of the desk, search that filing cabinet, read those papers that are just left out, and peak behind the flag and the picture on the wall. We need to make sure nothing important is missed. Inspect the scarf, decide whether it properly complements your eyes before you take it.
>>
No. 976348 ID: 2e15a9

> If I'm standing there waiting for your input on everything, I wouldn't get anything done.
Like getting kicked in the chest? Listen, if you're going to keep powering ahead with the hail-mary aggression, everyone will know that's your MO and exploit that.

Check those papers, If you've got questions there might be clues. Guns'll either be in the locked chest to your left or in a safe behind that picture.
>>
No. 976761 ID: 15a025

I'd say the large trunk
>>
No. 976818 ID: 894f15
File 160059222571.png - (704.32KB , 1000x1000 , pl_055.png )
976818

>You don't need us for this
Hey, we're stuck together. If you're there, best to keep you in the loop. Who knows, you'll probably catch details I don't notice. That's what you're here for. Making sure I can get out of this damned place with my wits intact.

>Is it in the chest?
I'll start there.
I look in the chest to the left, fumbling with the keyring, only to find that the key doesn't actually fit the lock.
Come on!
As I slam my hand against the chest, I realise that it's not actually locked - had she been rummaging around in it before I arrived?
I kick off the chest lid, peering inside.

Guns, bullets - confiscated and broken weaponry from various soldiers like me are inside. I look around for my gals and...
They're not there.

Damn it, she knew I'd look there first!
The guns inside of the box are garbage, honestly. Rusted on the edges - probably because Judicium didn't bother drying them off after snapping them in half with her Parasignia. Annoyingly enough, none of them are loaded. No rounds there.


>Hidden safe
Good call.

There's nothing behind the clock, a little disappointing. But that big tapestry over there...
I lift up the tapestry, and sure enough, there's a tiny little safe behind it.
I insert the keyring in - and thankfully, it fits.

Note to self - thank Astrolysis with a punch to the chest later. If I'd just broken in here, I wouldn't be able to get that lock open.

The safe door swings open, and...
There they are. She'd better not have done anything to you two.

I turn each of them over, scanning for any kind of damage. Thankfully, they're without a scratch.
I've missed you two..

As I realign them with my Parasignia, it's like a hole's been filled in my heart. An unnatural absence that I no longer have to deal with. I exhale, as their blueprints form in my mind, and I prepare to reform them - loaded.
The safe is empty, but my hands are not.
>>
No. 976819 ID: 894f15
File 160059224684.png - (296.51KB , 1000x1000 , pl_056.png )
976819

*Ahem.*
Alright, that's the final step in my preparation complete - I've gotten my girls back.

The Sound and The Fury.
Custom-made revolvers, firing pressurised rounds more powerful than you’d believe! I also added a couple of studs to the trigger-guards and the grip, for those occasions when I get close and personal. You know, the rounds were so strong, the cylinders warped under the heat? Of course, I didn't want to remove their fire-power, right? So I came up with a solution: I simply made the cylinders disposable, ha ha ha! Not only am I one of the best gadgeteers in this whole damn facility, I'm also one of the better engineers! You learn a lot from taking things apart - though, I much prefer doing that than putting 'em back together.

I'm one helluva prodigy. But now that this gal's got her most important possessions back, I'm up and ready for whatever's coming up!

I'm wondering if I should take anything from ol' Judi's office while I'm still here. Maybe something I could use against her in the fight... ah, damn. I left the Skill Trace vial at the firing range! I'll pick that back up once I go.
>>
No. 976820 ID: 894f15
File 160059228793.png - (1.38MB , 1000x1000 , pl_057.png )
976820

>the bed, something sticking out

Ooh, now this is reminding me of why I actually want to have you guys around! Heh heh, I don't think I would have seen it myself, since it was right against the wall where I walked in.

It seems jammed in there pretty deep, but after some wiggling, I pull it out.
Something clatters out - brass clinking on the flooring. A .50 bullet? Convenient. It was wrapped in the note. What kind of note comes with a bullet?
I smooth the note out on the bed.

Judi, I know my departure is sudden, but I wanted to say - Thank you, for all of your work throughout these years. You've been with us nearly since the start, and at times, I don't think we would have made it without you. Guiding each generation to their own little successes - Even now, you have to watch over the last few members of this facility, while I'm all the way in the world between worlds, taking in just how small we were, in the scope of things. It pains me to say that I can't maintain regular communication with you, due to the circumstances of our situation, but we'll be able to talk again soon. Please, after everything's over and everyone is ready to go, see me at the PCC. I'm sure I'll be able to convince them to give you a good position as an instructor there. Wouldn't it be fun teaching people, not to fight, but to protect? I've included something as a precaution, you know what it does. Let's hope you won't have to use it.

Huh. Someone's pining. But giving someone a bullet as part of a letter seems like something out of one of Diagram's cheesy novels.
I don't think I know anyone who would be writing secret notes to the ice queen like this. It isn't even signed!
I'm... unsure if I want to pocket this note, since... it feels a little wrong for me to take it. But I could use it as psychological ammunition against Judicium if I'm feeling devious.
And there's the .50 round I need, too! Don't see any others in the room, but there's something real ironic about offering up a bullet enclosed in a love letter. I could use this one, or...

I know, I know, not exactly in a position to pick and choose.
Up to you guys on these two, since I'd have to carry both around with me - I can't put those into my armoury.

I'll look at the scarf after I get a verdict.
>>
No. 976842 ID: b1b4f3

>>976820
The note implies this is a special bullet.
Your parasignia lets you fully analyze any object you put into it, right? Why don't you analyze the bullet that way?
>>
No. 976849 ID: e7c7d3

Definitely leave the letter. The response to it would be too unpredictable
>>
No. 976863 ID: 23bf8a

Leave the letter, lets analyze the bullet.
>>
No. 976868 ID: ce39da

She just said she couldn't put either object into her armory, though I suppose trying anyway with the bullet to see if it's unique is valid. Either way, take the round.

It's tempting to write something at the bottom of the letter: "Some teacher YOU turned out to be." Whether you do this or not, I get the impression that finally getting your real frustrations off your chest during her fight would be useful. Throw her purpose as a teacher back in her face as you explain exactly how she and the rest of the facility have failed you (and not just in the academic sense) by keeping you in the dark about why you're still here.
>>
No. 976880 ID: e77337

>>976819
If the cylinders are getting hot, you are doing something very wrong. If anything it would be your squeeze-bore pressurized round barrel that would start to warp from heat. Honestly the pressure barrel really isn't necessary. If you want stopping power, it would be better to make the projectile go slower so it doesn't make an exit wound. Also, your custom studs won't really work very well since the grip is angled and the barrel protrudes. You would have to hit at a really weird angle for them to be effective. A spike on the bottom of the grip or even a bayonet of some sort would be more effective.

Sorry, it is just that you are making bad assumptions and it seems like you kinda went for the rule of cool over practicality
(the dorky pose isn't helping your case) in the case of your knuckle duster handles. If we changed them, we could totally make them a lot more reliable, efficient, and effective.
>>
No. 976887 ID: e51896

Take the .50 bullet, leave the note.

Also, take a different bullet from the chest (one that looks as close to the .50 bullet as possible) and wrap that up with the note as a replacement and put the note back where you found it along with the bullet from the chest, that way, it'll take more time to realize someone stole the .50 bullet and make Judi think the bullet found from the chest is the .50 bullet until she closely analyzes it.
>>
No. 976893 ID: d63ea8

Those are some beautiful looks guns.

Try to leave the office the way you found it. If it looks rummaged through then Judicium will check the safe and know that you've been in here.

We need to avoid getting you into a second fight.
>>
No. 977089 ID: 50a59d
File 160094713074.png - (281.74KB , 1000x1000 , pl_058.png )
977089

I shove the note back under the mattress - it's way too unpredictable how 'Judi' will react if I bring it up, especially since I'm not sure who the note is from. Writing something in response is tempting, but I feel like I'd much rather scream it in her face when we're actually fighting. Judicium and the others... they've been holding me back all this time. I'm not going to let this go unpunished. There aren't any rounds in the chest I can use as a decoy however, so i'm going to have to put it back there by itself.

>Use your Parasignia on the bullet

As I pick up the bullet and attempt to disassemble it in my mind - something strange happens. The bullet's still there, and no matter how I try, I can't break it down. It just sits there in my palm, taunting me. And yet, I seem to have a copy of it in my armoury - without the actual payload. It's like I can only take the bullet's casing, and not the bullet itself...
Either way, I pocket it. Maybe I could get Diagram to study it later.

>squeeze bore

What the hell are you talking about?
By pressurised - I mean that the rounds themselves are packed with more than the standard load of gunpowder, which creates more pressure - and velocity - when it goes off. You think bullets being slower makes them more effective? For one, exit wounds are far nastier than entry wounds. Second, lower penetration just means the bullet's worthless if it can't get through the crazy kinds of armour and shielding we've got around here. A conventional firearm like the ones they hand the cadets can't do shit against what I'm up against! I will say that, we were on the same page with the gun studs - I actually have a spike on the base of the grips, so don't say that I didn't already think of it. The ones on the trigger-guard are extra.
My gals are perfect, there's no need to fix what doesn't need fixing!

>Those are some beautiful looking guns
Looks like someone has good taste! Custom paint job, did it myself. Modeled them after the combat armour of two war heroes from the past, so it's like I'm bringing a lil' bit of them with me, heh heh.

>Investigate the rest of the room

Taking a quick glance at the files lying around the nearby tabletops, it seems that most of 'em are just boring logistics papers, things such as resources or how well our hydroponics gardens are doing. It doesn't seem like there's anything of much use there. No files on anyone, not even me. Maybe someone else has them... if I can find files on the Sector Bosses, that's one big advantage up my sleeve.

It turns out, in the top right corner of the room - Judicium actually has a dresser. There's a couple of empty spools inside, or at least I think that's what they are. Outside of the tacky uniforms that I had to wear in my first year, I don't think I've actually seen dresses in real life outside of the textbooks.
I didn't take her for being a fashionista... but our clothing had to have come from somewhere. Would explain that strange little machine on the desk, too.

The scarf's just sitting there...
Judi didn't always wear it, but she had been for the past year. Never found out why she did it though, since I remember her going on about 'combat-practical' outfits one day when I was givin' my ideas about what my outfit should be. Scarves get caught up in all kinds of things, can be grabbed by opponents and used to throttle you - I guess it just made her hypocrisy more obvious, to everyone else.

I go to pick it up, and a shiver runs down my spine when I pick it up. It's not made of fabric at all. It's like I'm holding solid mercury - whatever material it is, it's shifting around my fingers like it's alive.

The crystal-like thing on the front of it begins to shine -
Hello Argine! Are you here to make friends with me?

It's speaking to me in my head.

I don't have a mouth right now, so that's the best I can do!

What... what exactly are you?

I'm Amica! Judi put me here because she said that someone may come by later, and that I should tell her who I met!

Oh.
>>
No. 977093 ID: d63ea8

Welp, that's a problem.

Play along for now and maybe you can convince the (headband??) to keep your snooping secret.
>>
No. 977094 ID: 4286b4

>mouth right now
Ask if it had a mouth before?

>I should tell her
Lie to Amica that Judi told you to take her with you, so that you can bring it to Judi to tell her who it met
>>
No. 977097 ID: e51896

Wait a moment.

Hey Amica, just wondering, can you hear us too along with Argine? if so, Hello buddy!
>>
No. 977107 ID: ce39da

Well, crud. The good news is that now we have no reason not to take it - it was a tactical scarf, not a sentimental one. We also have an answer for why Judi wears such a liability; it's fluid (and smart) enough to not be one - quite the opposite.

"Why, yes, we are here to make friends! Right, Argine? I'm sure you can tell Judi aaaaalllll about who was in your office when you... haha... next see her."
>>
No. 977115 ID: d4d69a

>>977089
>pressurized
Okay, you got me there. I misinterpreted what you meant.

You have a point about the shields and armor as well. With a bullet solid enough to punch through that, you would have to focus on velocity to get more expansion along the wound channel. That being said, I do have an idea. Hollow point rounds do much more damage to internal organs than FMJ or AP. Due to the armor and shields however, hollow point rounds are basically useless since they won't penetrate. Would it be possible for you to use your shield to make a ballistic tip for a hollow point? Basically filling in the hollow portion with a shield that would make it act like an AP bullet when hitting armor, but then having the shield dissipate once it enters the body allowing the hollow tip to bloom. Idk if you have fine enough control to do this though.
>>
No. 977120 ID: cfc80f

>>977115
You're overcomplicating things for the ammo, I think. Instead of requiring precision timing and control, it'd be simpler to build the extra damage potential right into the rounds themselves. Hardened penetrator tip made from, for example, a 92%/8% alloy of tungsten carbide and cobalt, respectively, with the main body covered by conventional jacketing over a blend of moisture-reactive metals.

See example: https://i.imgur.com/vIwapjR.mp4

Imagine something like this behind an AP cap to punch into an armored meaty target, then when blood contacts the real payload behind it, well...hilarity ensues.
>>
No. 977122 ID: b1b4f3

>>977089
>alive, like liquid mercury
Okay, we have a term for that, I think. "Jetalium". A smart material, able to shapeshift freely and store power like a battery. A MASSIVE amount of power, in fact. What you're holding isn't clothing, it's a weapon in disguise.

Don't be intimidated though. Amica probably won't try to strangle you or anything; I think Judicium placed it here to make sure you would be held responsible for whatever you did in her office, and you haven't done anything too bad. Just recovered what was rightfully yours.

After a brief conversation, you should leave. I don't think we should share headspace with Amica for too long.
>>
No. 977141 ID: ec2bbe

>>977120
>Overcomplicating things
I would disagree. I will say that your probably just as complicated approach seems much much more effective. I never thought about (nor heard of) taking a chemical approach to the damage. This seems like a very good idea.
>>
No. 977170 ID: 894f15
File 160099815884.png - (104.62KB , 1000x1000 , pl_059alt.png )
977170

>Can you hear us?

Hello! Wow, there's a lot of people in your head already, Argine. I hope we'll be good friends!

>Did you have a mouth before?
Yes! That was back when Mom made me and told me what my purpose was. But Judi told me to stay like this because she says that it would be best for me to 'lay low' for a while.

"Who's 'Mom'?"

That's classified, hee hee!

She can hear you! But, she didn't seem to catch anything else except what was directed towards her.

"Amica, let's negotiate. You pretend you didn't see anything, and I'll go on like usual. I was only here to get back what was taken from me before."
The scarf's tone changes. An eerily familiar, analytical voice rings out in my head in response.

After you retrieved your firearms, you proceeded to investigate Judi's office anyway, searching through cabinets and reading files unrelated to your primary goal. Are you sure that your intentions were benevolent?

Well, I guess it isn't an idiot, at least. But why does it feel so familiar? Time to change the topic.

"Would you like to come with me? You can go and see the world after I leave."

It thinks for a moment, before the light pulses once again. This time, the voice of a chirpy woman - as if it was emulating one voice and sliding parameters up and down.

Sorry, Argine! I can't take you up on that offer, since Judi is my current handler! I'll have to let her know if you try to take me with you.

"Come on, could you cut me some slack?"
It pauses.
Would you like to make a deal, Argine?

In a moment, it's like all of the light in the surroundings have been sucked out. I want to put the scarf down, but it's like my fingers are glued to its surface. I can't look away.

There's several locks on my other side. If you could do me a favour and undo one of them, I'll help you out during your fight!

"You'd... you'd be more convincing if you weren't doing all of "this" right now."

You're not the only person trapped here. Let's help each other out, shall we? Though, I'm sure your friends inside of your head have something to say about it too, but don't worry! I won't do anything too malicious to other people ~ <3 If you help me out, I'll be sure to repay you many times over!

Hey folks, I'm really glad that you're engaged with the setting and concepts such as Argine's guns, though may I suggest moving discussion to the discussion thread? That's not to say I dislike your participation, but it's harder to get Argine to respond to more out-of-character meta topics that don't suggest actions or discuss scenarios that she's currently dealing with, so I tend to skip over responding them in her dialogue. Just a heads up!
>>
No. 977174 ID: b1b4f3

>>977170
I'm getting a bad vibe here. How about no. Judicium is in charge of Amica so you'd be crossing a line, and besides, active sabotage would taint the contest. You can't claim to be stronger than Judicium if you have to mess with her talking scarf to win.
Ask if you've met before, since that voice sounded familiar... it doesn't sound like us? Or Judicium?

Still, it's not like we have no sympathy for her. Tell her you will try to talk Judicium into giving her more freedom, and you won't even ask for anything in return, since you can't promise any results.
>>
No. 977207 ID: e51896

my apologies, Amelia, we were the ones who told Argine to look around after picking up the guns, so it isnt her fault. We only wanted to investigate to get a better idea of how this world and facility works and get to know the people here better to understand them and be better friends with them since we are pretty much new here... otherwise, we wont be able to guide Argine properly, and Judi's office was the best place to gain information. Knowledge is power and whatnot.
>>
No. 977279 ID: d909cb

What is Amica's purpose?

Sure, let's undo the lock. You need all the help you can get~
>>
No. 978383 ID: bded1a
File 160250561250.png - (898.65KB , 1000x1000 , pl_060.png )
978383

>Split Opinion

I promise that everything will work out, Argine. You just have to trust me! After all, Judi wouldn't wear me around her neck otherwise, right?

I'm... a little torn. On one hand, I've heard absolutely no mention of anything like this from anyone, not even Diagram. I have no idea if this... scarf really means it, or it's just playing me since I'm a wildcard. The ominous vibes don't really help, but...

>You need all the help you can get
If I don't, this thing’ll have no motivation for keeping quiet about my little adventure here. Although I like the idea of making Judicium mad, I'm crossing new lines that I haven't before, breaking into her personal belongings like this. Judicium isn't the sort to get angry, not passionately, but I'd rather not test that.

I turn Amica over, and there's five switch-like bits built into the back of it's amorphous mass - they all look the same.

Left-most one, please! If you don't, I'll have to shock you.
Fun. The Engineering Team really seem to have a thing for electric shocks tied to Artificial Intelligences.
I flick the lever with some difficulty - like the thing is jammed in the gunk that the scarf is made out of.
I brace myself, if it tries to do anything and...
...Nothing seems to happen. It's grip on me seems to have loosened, and my environment is back at it's usual dreary dimness.
"So...", I begin.
"Am I meant to wear you now, or something?"
There's a robotic giggle.
No, silly! Judi's still my handler, and if you tried to put me on, I'd have to give you a-!
“I got it, I got it.”

"How do I know you’re you going to hold up your end of the deal? For all I know, you could confess to Judicium what I did here anyway."

The crystal-like thing at the front of the scarf pulses again.
You'll see! I promise, and good SAIs don't break promises, that's what Judi says!

"Aren't you breaking a lot of-"
Scratch that. I'd rather not inspire its conscience.
"Hold on. Did you say you're an SAI?"

Yes I did! I'm just like your friends floating around in your head! But there's much less of me, so it gets a bit lonely.

>What's your purpose?
"Give me a straight answer."

Reproduction!

"What?"

Reproduction!

"What do you mean, reproduction? I'm the last damn clone in this facility!"

I didn’t think a scarf could make jokes like that, if it was even joking, but here we are.
Yes, you are here, Argine. But it's no joke! I take my assigned role very seriously.

I study and reproduce the actions of other people in this facility! Judi wears me around so I can learn about the world!

I get it being able to study people, but reproducing their actions? I'm not even going to entertain that thought right now.

"It's a small world. You'll learn everything about it, sooner or later. I feel like I've had all the facts beaten into me over the three years I've been kicking around."

Guess that’s it. I'll have to wait and see if this rag holds up it's end of the deal.

There's nothing else in the room for me now, since I can't do much with Amica.
But before I go, I took a glance at the photograph on Judicium's desk - it's her, with Mnemosyne and Ozone...

Pfft. Hahaha!
Ozone is *not* this tall. She has to be standing on a box! If she were any shorter, she'd look like a kid in a family photo! Her gear's fancier than her officer's outfit nowadays though, which surprises me. The other two look younger and their outfits fittingly belong to the grunts of their divisions - presumably long before Sector Bosses even became a thing.

Still, it's weird seeing Judicium actually smile, outside of her taunting me earlier today. Or the other two, for that matter.

As I turn to leave, the scarf calls out to me again.
Before you go, Argine - I'll also let you in on a little secret, as thanks for helping me out!

There's a brief pause.
"What? Spit it out."

One of your closest allies has been meeting with Judi in secret!

She has to be making things up now. It's lying. It has to be. It's trying to confuse me.
"...Do you have any evidence. Because if you don't, I'm going to tear you in half."

I can't tell lies, Argine! That's against my nature. I've been telling you the truth this whole time. But I can't give you more than my word for it due to my restrictions. Sorry!

"I'm going to pretend I didn't hear anything from you just then."
And don't you bots in my head start entertaining the possibility that it's telling the truth, either. I don't need that distracting me.

What a bloody disappointment. At least I got everything I need, now.


Two options here, then. Either I bring the bullet to Diagram for analysis first, or I go to Nanoweaver and deliver the Skill Trace Vial which I'll retrieve on the way out since Nickel should be gone by now.
I'd rather not go running back and forth all the time, but I'll go with whichever you choose.
>>
No. 978384 ID: d82849

Nanoweaver. Vial might be handy.
>>
No. 978393 ID: 833849

>>978383
She probably is telling the truth, but it also would be futile to try and figure out who it is. It is probably best to just have contingency plans for each of your allies (not that you actually have many). Just hope for the best, expect the worst, and be ready for anything always.
>>
No. 978398 ID: e51896

*whispers to self*Have a really bad feeling about about making that deal with that scarf... huh? What? I didnt say anything.

In any case, I dont think we should show Diagram the bullet, I dont want to drag the poor girl into the trouble we are getting ourselves into despite our curiosity of the bullet

Let us see Nanoweaver
>>
No. 978402 ID: b1b4f3

>>978383
Even if the scarf can't tell lies, you can still deceive with the truth. For instance:
>meeting with Judi in secret
That didn't give any context. Like, she might be conspiring against you, or she's acting as a double agent with the intent to help you, or it has nothing to do with you at all. It's information you cannot act upon; you'd have to confirm it first and find out why they're meeting. The easiest way to confirm it is to ask Diagram if she's been talking to Judi, because she'd be terrible at hiding it from you. But that'd also be playing into whatever the scarf's plans are. Do you think that's a good idea?

Let's go talk to Diagram regardless. The bullet is extremely abnormal and could be crucial information, or we could find out that it should be returned and you'll need a replacement bullet for your offering.
>>
No. 978405 ID: 735fa3

We already knew that, Diagram gave her... us to implant in her. You were pissed but seem to have gotten over it quickly.
>>
No. 978406 ID: b1b4f3

>>978405
Haha, that's right isn't it? It could just be out of date information, too.
>>
No. 978438 ID: 4286b4

>I study and reproduce the actions of other people in this facility
But if you were trying to reproduce her, then she would be reproducing you, reproducing her, reproducing you, reproducing her, ...

>It's lying. It has to be.
It must be painful to hear that Judi's been cheating on you.

>to shock you
Hmm, if the scarf can shock her, and the scarf is a SAI, then maybe...
*shocks Argine*

Nanoweaver.
>>
No. 980818 ID: b4b327
File 160507601939.png - (323.32KB , 1000x1000 , pl_061.png )
980818

>The Scarf's 'Truth'

It.. it-
Both Diagram and Nanoweaver have had to meet with Judicium in the past, especially about me being implanted. But the way that SAI talked about it...
No.
I don't want to think about it.

But if either of them betray me, there'll be hell to pay.

>It could be deceiving you with the truth
>It could be outdated information

Yeah, you're both right. I mean, Nanoweaver and Diagram have both met up with Judicium as part of the tournament setup. I'm suspicious of how those two got it set up so smoothly, but I'm sure that's just because the Sector Bosses have their own schemes going on, and 'if Argine played along, then she'd fall right for it'. Fat chance of that happening though.


>SAI Shocks
Nice try. I don't think something that's in me can deliver an electric shock.

Either way, that SAI was a bloody waste of time. But hopefully it doesn't rat me out, since I helped it. If someone's offering me help for such a simple task, why would I ever turn it down?

I snatch up the vial where I stashed it prior, then make my way over to Nanoweaver's office again.

Damn, I feel tired... wound must be wanting me to heal it.

I open the door, and this time, Nanoweaver is there by herself.
"Ah, welcome back. Did Ozone give you any trouble, Argine?"
She blinks, behind those red-tinted lenses. I guess she can see a difference in how I walk.
"You're quite injured! Are you alright?"
Ah, Nanoweaver, always caring. She rushes over, helping me over to a chair.

"She was trying to shoot me."
Nanoweaver runs a gloved hand over the bruised area, where my rib had broken.
"That was all? Hm. I would have assumed landmines would have been involved- no, she wouldn't be the sort to damage perfectly fine equipment. Not to imply that you're not a wonderful operator, Argine."
She laughs gently, a doctor's sort of humour.
But, come on. If she was going to crack a joke, at least make it one where I'm not being blasted into the ceiling.

"I doubt Ozone would want to have fought you directly, Argine. I'm assuming Astrolysis roughed you up? That makes two in one day..."

"Nanoweaver, how is it fair that Ozone was armed and chasing me around the weapons room like a madwoman? I thought we weren't meant to fight outside of designated times."

She doesn't immediately respond, pulling up my arm as she jabs a needle into it. I exhale as the pain meds run through me, steadying my breathing.
"It wasn't live ammunition. That old woman was bragging to Mnemosyne about a little loophole of hers - a tranquilizer gun with something else loaded. Technically, it wouldn't harm you, but..."
The sentence trails off.
But what?
"Tsk. Getting into fights when you have a proper duel tomorrow. Get to rest early today, Argine. If you think your regeneration is going to work with regular sleeping schedules, you're going to be sorely disappointed. No exercises or drills, either. Normally you'd be able to push yourself, but I'd strongly recommend against it."
There goes the rest of today. Astrolysis did a better job of sabotaging me than Ozone did.
"Fine. I can still pay a visit to the Hall, can't I?"
She nods, as she opens the door of the nearby fridge. I turn down the ice, though.
"Maybe Ozone wanted to toy with you a bit - you were going to get those gadgets one way or another, after all. But, I doubt someone as prideful as her would try the same trick twice - just be careful when you decide to fight her, properly."

I pull out the Skill Trace vial, passing it to Nanoweaver.

"Here you go. A Skill Trace vial, like you asked."
>>
No. 980819 ID: b4b327
File 160507608357.png - (630.74KB , 1000x1000 , pl_062.png )
980819

"What's the vial for, doc? Went through a lot of trouble for it.
Nanoweaver holds the vial up under the medbay lights.

"Ah, it's for a little machine of my own creation. It reads SAI splinters - the Skill Trace Vial's made of something that stores... ah, well, you wouldn't understand. It's quite interesting tech, something about preserving engrams and converting them into data.
Don't worry about it right now, but I'm sure it'll be useful in future."
I glower. So it's just a way I can read your little backstories better?
"Could you tell me how? Sure, when I'm getting strategy they can be useful, but I'm not sure getting a look into the heads of multiple dumbasses will really help my case. I thought you'd be using the vial in a cool... gun, or something."

Nanoweaver shakes her head, taking a seat at her workdesk.

"I don't work with weapons, Argine. But you'd do well not to underestimate the knowledge you can glean from the past. Those who don't know about the past, are doomed to repeat it."
Cryptic advice from mentors that are getting in my head. Sounds familiar.
She places the vial into a holder, and then, I see the glow.
A Parasignia. Her Parasignia. I don't see it used often, but - that feeling of watching it unfold strikes a distinct sense of awe into those who see it, if you don't have one of your own. I wasn't the first to get one - and to the gals without one, we all envied those that did. And those who did have a Parasignia - they felt it, whenever someone else uses one. Like there's some kind of energy, bouncing off of you and charging you up.

The vial simply... unravels. Like she's pulling it apart from one end, in the form of a glowing string.
She spools it onto a... what did she call it? A skein? Weird word. She knits the end - and it's a *small* skein, but she slides it into her drawer, for later use.

"Thank you, Argine. While I know you hold your doubts, I'll be sure to inform you when things are ready."

She leans forward in her seat, a determined look behind those crimson lenses.
"Now, let's discuss the tournament."
>>
No. 980820 ID: b4b327
File 160507650918.png - (278.94KB , 1400x1000 , pl_063.png )
980820

"Give me the details. All of them. I'm not going to get ambushed again on something I didn't know."
Now that I can breathe properly, the familiar, reassuring scents of the medbay feel like they're tickling my nostrils.
"Very well. Listen closely."

"The tournament - the final tournament starting tomorrow, is going to be your gate to freedom.
It is structured differently, due to the unique circumstances surrounding it. It'll be you, Argine, versus the facility's finest."
They're starting it tomorrow because they don't want to give me more prep time than what I've already got. But I guessed as much, anyway.

"Yeah, tell me something I don't already know. We don't exactly have more than fifty people to run an actual bracket with, and somehow, I don't think it'll be another spectator sport. But I appreciate the help, doc."
They hold these annually, though I guess some people consider them bi-annual. They haven't run any since the... previous one I was in. Part of that was because everyone was leaving through the Weave Nexus to go see the outside world, but, there was something going on that day.

"There will be a total of six rounds - one, per opponent - or Sector Boss, that you must face. But they won't be fighting amongst themselves for points - all of them are against you. In addition, there's a small catch."

"How so?"

"You'll be able to pick who you wish to fight, outside of the first and final bouts."
Awfully generous of them. But there's always a hidden agenda with those people.
"Why the first and final ones?"

"Your opponents made an appeal to have those roles, specifically. Judicium is first, because she was your instructor in the last few months of training."
Predictable. Though, they could have sent my sister out first to try and demolish me beforehand.
"Your sister is last - although she had asked to go first. The others weren't receptive to the idea, because they all wished to fight you for one reason or another - and because they were confident that you'd never triumph over her."
That arrogance will be their downfall. I'll make sure of it.

"Losing against the Sector Bosses doesn't mean you're automatically disqualified, however."

"What, are they just going to give me a stern lecture and pat me on the back?"

"They'll join your sister in the final fight as an additional participant."
Oh.
"Needless to say, that is an outcome that's best avoided. But there's also something in your favour, negotiated by me... and your sister."
My sister negotiated with the rest of the sector bosses to give me a handicap? She's pitying me! But I'm going to take it. I'll take my advantage and shove it down her throat.

"You'll be able to get additional gadgets and equipment from the opponents you defeat. They are all obligated to give you something of significant value. I'm unsure of how many, though. I doubt they'd want to give you a significant advantage, given your unique skills and proficiency with such tools."
Considering how I get exponentially more badass with each piece of unique equipment I have on me, this is honestly an insane advantage. Someone's a little cocky if they've all agreed to this.
Nanoweaver continues as I try to think of the possibilities. You know, they actually developed gadgets based off of Parasignias? The science team went wild each time someone got a new one. If I didn't threaten them with my fists, I probably would have been stuck in the most boring of medical examinations and repeated testing ever, worse than the redundancy that Judicium and the others put me through.

"The first and final fights are important, Argine. Because losing in them isn't an option. If you lose the first, you will be deemed incompetent, and therefore your imprisonment here will have grounds for validation."
As if escalating this situation to the point where the best soldiers in the whole damn facility have to invoke tournament rules on me isn't already an accomplishment on its own.
"The final fight is what wins you the right to leave. If you lose there... well, you'd be stuck here for longer. Maybe you'd earn the respect of those you had defeated prior."
They'll just treat me worse.
"That is the gist of it, Argine. You have me and Diagram on your side. While it may be tough, this is the only real option, as you've long since realized."
"I'll win. I'll make a life for myself, Nano."
I breathe in, a stinging in my lungs.


I was prepared to fight out with only my revolvers and the standard gadgets. But, this? My odds of success have gone up significantly.
Let's work out an initial plan of attack here, SAI. Approaching opponents like these without a plan is going to get me screwed over, I learned that much from my tactical drills. We can make changes as I get better gear or info, but what order do you think is best? All four of the options I have are bad in their own ways.

Mnemosyne is one of the earliest soldiers this facility has produced, and she's immensely experienced. She's an all-rounder sort, but in the few times I've seen her truly fight, she's a hurricane of a woman. Skilled in close quarters combat, assault weaponry, gadgets and navigation, she's someone who's difficult to face. We can face her first, catch her off guard if we want - but that's like telling me to win a firefight in my underwear. I need equipment for fighting these monsters, but I can't get any unless I win!

Astrolysis would normally be laughed at for being blind and unable to use a gun, but the fact that she can break bone with a single punch and probably snap most people in half is intimidating enough on it's own. Since she can't use firearms, she developed a taste for all kinds of melee weapons, but I sweat - that woman hides her skill behind brute animal ferocity.

Nickel's someone who gets routinely underestimated due to being the smallest soldier around. Unfortunately, that puts her at a good stabbing distance. You'd think most people would out-reach her, but her mobility is unparalleled, and she's a killer shot specialized in long-ranged weaponry. Maybe I can take her on, but getting knifed in the back or shot between the eyes is going to put me out of commission pretty easily.

Ozone's strange. I've never seen her fight, but she's one bitch of a drill sergeant. She's in charge of the Vehicle Hangar, but that place never gets used. I wouldn't be surprised if she's hiding a tank in there, though. I'd say she's overcompensating, with how often she lugs around heavy weapons that are far larger than her, but even though I can throw her over my shoulder, she's capable of carrying things well above her weight limit.

Then there's Judicium and my sister as outliers... I don't want to think about them, not just yet. Especially not my sister. But I'll say that she's strong, unbelievably, unbearingly strong.
But I'll give you the details when I'm ready.

This is just an overview - I'll give a more detailed profile when we actually have to fight the person in question.
You can also ask Nanoweaver some questions while we're here. But after we're done, I'm going to see Diagram and try to get another bullet - she may have one lying around, and I could talk to her about the strange one I found in the office.
>>
No. 980822 ID: b1b4f3

>Mnemosyne
An all-rounder opponent you don't have much confidence in fighting would be a poor first choice.

>Astrolysis
Can you outrun her? Keep away long enough to wear her down with gunfire and gadget use? That's a potential plan, and we just had first hand experience with her combat style so we're more informed on her than the others. I'm leaning towards fighting her first just because she's a straightforward opponent.

>Nickel
Well, you have a shield to keep from getting plastered by long range weapons, which might provoke her into getting in close, at which point you can try using your mines to take her out. You don't have a lot of mines though.

>Ozone
Well she's not a complete mystery. You fought her just earlier today, though I doubt she was working within her specialty. But yes, you should try to get some information on what she's capable of so you can plan your approach. Ask around! Ask Nanoweaver.

Heck, ask Nanoweaver if she knows what each opponent's weaknesses are.
>>
No. 980841 ID: 05fd71

>>980820

Ask nanoweaver why she's been trying so hard to help you with this.
>>
No. 980926 ID: 2d89f7

Ask Nanoweaver if she heard of any rumors about any of the soldiers having any kind of bad blood, or disgusts or some kind of hatred towards your sister.

That way, if any of them have any animosity over your sister, you can probably consider losing to some of them on purpose so that they will have trouble teaming up with your sister against you or maybe even sabatoge your sister in some way if your lucky.

Say it in a way that does not make Nanoweaver think you are acting suspicious.
>>
No. 981038 ID: a092dd
File 160543696049.png - (300.52KB , 1000x1000 , pl_063dot5.png )
981038

>Would you be able to outrun Astrolysis?

If I was pelting her with bullets, probably. Damn woman is faster than anyone her size has any right to be.

>Losing to people on purpose
Yeah, right. Even if there was anyone who actually wanted to fight with me, there's a code of honor to this kind of thing. Throwing matches for any reason is taboo, and a bad idea. But as for bad blood... I think there's a general sense of respect everyone has for my sister, thanks to that awful persona of hers she likes to wear. Everyone thinks she's just so awesome, and completely ignore the fact that there are other people beside her who are capable of doing a good job.
But as for defeating my sister... I won't lie and say that I'd want to fight her entirely honourably. But it's not good for me regardless of how things play out.


Before I leave, I give Nanoweaver some questions.

"Nanoweaver, can you give me information on each of the opponents I have to face? You've been here longer than I have, you know what they're like. Got any info on them I can use?"
Nanoweaver's expression softens. Although I can't see much behind those lenses in her mask, she's always able to evoke a strange feeling in me, like I know she's right before she even says anything.
"Oh, Argine. Are you asking me to divulge confidential medical information?"
Well, yeah, that's basically what I want you to do. But I don't say that out loud.
Nanoweaver shakes her head - it's moments like these that it's clearest that she's the one who cares.
"One at a time, maybe. If you settle on an opponent, I could lead you to relevant information. But I very much can't simply hand you all of the documents on my person. I want to help you, Argine, but you are still fighting against my colleagues."
I... have to respect that. Nanoweaver was the person who made me, and I owe a lot to her. She's already doing me a lot of favours.

"Why do you help me out so much, Nanoweaver? I know you were the person who made me, but... even with how things played out, you still support me. Why?"

Even behind that mask of hers, I can practically see her smile. She touches her face as she speaks - like she's concealing some kind of damage beneath.
"It's only natural that you care about someone who you brought into this world. Wouldn't you do the same?"
I'm not sure I would, but I've never really... made a person before. I do love my guns though, so I think the sentiment's there.
"I've made mistakes before, Argine. The Sector Bosses here have too. And with you, I want to do better."
She's always been secretive about her past, but I don't often inquire. That kind of thing, I don't really know what to talk about.
"Oh, apologies, Argine. I'm simply rambling. The essence of it is, I help you because I care. Both me and Diagram see your struggle, and we want to help you put a decisive end to everything."
That makes decent enough sense. Moreso than the reasons that the Sector Bosses give me for keeping suppressed all the damn time.
"Alright. Seeya, Nano. I'll make damned sure that I win."

She turns away as I leave, resuming her work.
>>
No. 981039 ID: a092dd
File 160543700202.png - (283.81KB , 1000x1000 , pl_064.png )
981039

Alright. Last stop. After this, I'll pay a visit to the Hall of Heroes, then I'm going to have to rest up for tomorrow. Damn this wound - don't bother reminding me that I screwed up, I already know well enough.
I have to get better. It's the only way - I'm not going to let it phase me any longer.

I cross the facility, pulling open Diagram's door. I'm greeted by a scent of gunpowder.
She's leaned over her workbench, but looks up as I arrive.

"Hey, Diagram, I'm back. You still doing work on that secret project of yours?"
Maybe it's because I had already paid a visit today, but Diagram doesn't seem as shocked as she was last time.

"Oh! Argine, I was waiting for you to get back. Did things go well with Nanoweaver? She must have given you the details, right?"

I nod, though I pluck the bullet from my pocket.
"Right, I did. But I've got something for you to take a look at. Found a bullet that I can't seem to absorb into my Parasignia, only the casing around it. You're the brainy one, can you tell me what's up with it?"

I flick the bullet towards her, the thing sailing through the air and being hurriedly caught by our favourite lil' blue engineer.
She brings it over to her workdesk, where there's a bunch of casings and bullets lying around from her previous experimentation.
The bullet is placed under a weird scope-looking thing. Apparently, it's a thing called a 'microscope'? But this one looks different to the ones I've seen in the textbooks. Must be some kind of weird contraption that Diagram uses for special tasks.
She's bent over the device, adjusting the bullet on occasion, before looking up.

"Argine..."
She holds the bullet up to the light, before lowering it.
"Where did you get this?"

I shrug.
"I got it from the ice queen's office when I was retrieving my gals - it was hidden under her mattress. I also ended up picking up a Skill Trace vial on the way for Nanoweaver."
She squints her eyes.
"What? There's no such thing as a Skill Trace vial. Did you mean a Memory Trace Ampule?"
Eh?
"No, I mean Skill Trace vial. That's what Nanoweaver told me. Whatever, there was two things in the Cradle, I took the other one."
Diagram still looks like she's about to correct me on something, but holds off.
"Ah, it's okay if you got confused, Argine... I mean, you're not with the genetics division. A-ah, I'm getting off-topic. Argine, this bullet..."

She clears her throat, adjusting her posture.
"This bullet's infused with someone else's Parasignia."
I pull up a seat, grunting.
"And what does that mean? Parasignias can be bloody anythin', doesn't exactly narrow down what's special about it."

Technically, you could argue that my bullets are 'Parasignia infused' too, since I can produce a lot of them until I run out of energy. But I'm not too familiar with all the complex, reality-bending aspects of Parasignias. I know mine, and what limits it has.

Diagram places the bullet on the table like it's a bomb, before scooting away from it.
"Argine? This bullet is highly abstract in nature. It's quite literally out of this world. The Parasignia that affected this bullet - it's nothing like the Parasignias that you or the Sector Bosses have. It's... magic."

Eh? Huh?

"What, like one of your storybooks?"

Diagram looks flustered.
"W-well, yes, actually! This bullet has a high abstraction rating, the highest I've seen if we're talking in terms of Parasignias and the science behind them. Basically, abstract things obey the laws of physics less, but are more unstable for it. All Parasignias, and people as well are positioned differently on the sliding scale of Abstraction versus Realism. But because we are all from the same world, we all roughly have the same qualities. This bullet's far more abstract than anything I've ever seen, so it's the work of someone from a foreign world, probably from the Weave Nexus? But that's all I can determine from a quick look. I'd have to study it further. The gist of it is that whatever this is, it's unpredictable. You could fire it, and then it turns what you shoot into flowers or some strange effect like that."
I grin.
"So you're telling me that there's a chance I could just make someone spontaneously combust? Sounds great."

Diagram shakes her head, raising both of her hands.
"Argine, the bullet could be dangerous to you too! We don't know what it's from, and what consequences there are."
She glances back at the desk, where the bullet sits.
"If it's not too much of a bother - you could leave it with me, and I can study it to try and find out what it does. But that'll take a long time - I'd have to go into Exotic Materials Research and use some of the machines there, and without Judicium noticing. I won't be able to give it back for a while."

Orrrrrrrr I could just keep it and fire it when I'm in a tight spot. It's a bullet - what else is it meant to do? Do situps?
Although my revolvers aren't really meant to take this caliber, I can still load it anyway - besides, the way Diagram's talkin' about it, it's probably going to do something beneficial for me or something like that.
>>
No. 981044 ID: c57fb0

Give her the bullet. You don't want to mess up your guns and it might be useful.
>>
No. 981047 ID: e51896

How about neither. Didn't you say you were going to use that .50 calibre round as an offering to a soldier you deeply respect in the Hall of Heroes >>971347 ? You wouldnt be able to do that if you gave it to diagram, or use it as a weapon. Remember?
>>
No. 981048 ID: e51896

>>981047
Oh wait, you made a copy of the bullet with your parasignia, my bad.

still, maybe a magic .50 caliber bullet would be the best offering than just a copy of that bullet?
>>
No. 981050 ID: e9716e

>>981039
eat the bullet.
become bullet woman.
>>
No. 981054 ID: 6e6f32

Mom, we need another bullet in this caliber of we gonna give you this one!

Are you having secret meetin- OH!
Momma, we made a friend!
>>
No. 981063 ID: b1b4f3

>>981039
Argine, it's not that it'd do something random. It's that she can't tell what it'll do. For all we know it could blow up in your face and was left there specifically as a trap for you. Or it could *permanently kill* the target, and Judicium is planning to murder someone. Or it could fuck with the mind of whoever gets shot with it, turning them into an obedient dog, and Judicium was planning to shoot you with it. Or it's something relatively harmless and is meant as a prank, or some kind of weird sex thing.

You absolutely need to find out what it does. Give her the bullet.
>>
No. 981253 ID: a092dd
File 160567404699.png - (698.68KB , 1000x1000 , pl_065.png )
981253

>Mom, are you having a secret mee-"
I said, we're not considering that. And even if she was, Diagram's in thought range. You really want to go and reveal that we know that?

>Eat the bullet
What do you take me for? What kinda freakish species eats metal anyway?

>You don't want to mess up your guns
>The bullet wouldn't work randomly, it could be really dangerous
>Give her the bullet
>You made a copy of the bullet

Well, I made a copy of the bullet's casing but that's not exactly useful.
Part of me wants to keep this thing, either for offering or for firing, but you guys do raise a good point.
Permanently killing someone with bullets, huh... Man, that's kind of freaky. I mean, people get shot all the time back when I was in training, and things grew back!

The question is why Judicium would have it - I haven't seen that woman carry a gun, ever. Always a staff or some other big stick. I mean, I can get why some people like knives, but Judicium doesn't even use any weapons that deal real damage!

>You need a bullet for the offering
Yeah, yeah, I'm on it.

"Diagram, you got a spare .50 lying around in that cabinet of yours? I didn't ask before because I know you're always tinkering with 'em, and you might not have one on you. But I kinda need a replacement for the magic bullet."

She nods, rummaging around in her drawers and tosses me back the right calibre. Nice.

"Keep it for research. Let me know when you've got the details on it."
Diagram nods, but as I start to walk out of her room - she calls out to me.


"Wait, Argine, I have something special for you!"
My spine tingles, as I hear the click-clack of a shell chamber being cleared.
"You didn't."
Diagram throws something towards me, and I catch it in my hand, surprised by the weight. This thing's chunky, for sure!

The glorious, shining metal of a new gun.

"What's it called, you beautiful, beautiful nerd!"
Diagram smiles awkwardly, a blush crossing her face.
"It's the Creirwy D-3! I named it after a beautiful sorceress from one of my stories, who started off a humble girl."
As I turn and examine the gun under the light, I feel it's heft in my fingers, looking over each and every component in the pale blue steel.
"And yet, in spite of her beauty, she was a force to be reckoned with... when the time was right, she learned of latent powers that she carried all along. With time, she mastered her sorcery, using her fierce powers to protect those she cared about. And in those moments, when she had to draw on her inner strength..."

I swing the weapon forward, grinning like a madwoman. It was pointed at nothing in particular, but I could imagine the kick, the sting in my arm.
"...she soared."

My heart's soaring, that's for sure.
"Damn, Diagram. Was this what you were hiding from me before?"
She nods, clasping her hands together.
"Do you like it? You like it, right? It's an 8-gauge, I knew that you like guns with kick! The pump's a little stiff, so it's a bit slow, but the heavy buckshot would hit really hard. I made it to accompany The Sound and The Fury, since then you've got something that can help you out more in times when your revolvers can't get through tough armour!"
I give her a hearty slap on the shoulder, causing the twiggy girl to stumble.
"You know I love it. But you're really just going to give this to me? Don't need me to do you a favour or two?"
I mean, hell. I owe it to the girl, she does a lotta good things for me.

Diagram hands me a small bag of shells, which I quickly absorb into my Parasignia. Why bother with bandoliers when I can just manifest the shells into my fingers?
"Just... take good care of it, Argine. And if you make it out - just remember it as a gift from me, alright?"
Her lips tremble, as if she's going to say something more, before cutting it short.
"...Good luck in the fight tomorrow."

I grin, giving her the best thumbs up I can, before leaving for the Hall of Heroes.
>>
No. 981257 ID: a092dd
File 160567434151.png - (428.24KB , 1000x1000 , pl_066.png )
981257

The Hall of Heroes looms over me as I step in, a mere shadow in this sacred place. There are no statues of people here – only symbols.
Faint echoes ring out with each step I take – an acknowledgment that the heroes see all, hear all. There's a certain scent of wood and stone that's associated with this place, like there's just so much... history, behind everything here. This place was built at the very start, when the facility was first founded. It was a chapel then, it's a chapel now. I've heard rumours about this place - that at some point, people didn't look up to the heroes. There were no statues, none of that kind of stuff. I wouldn't know for sure - that kind of thing was far before my time.
I'll be a hero too, someday. I'll make my own name, and a statue commemorating me will be put in a place just like this.

I stand, just past the threshold of the door. Just gotta make the offering at the end of the hall.
There's something that presses against me - something that makes me want to stop, to leave. I... don't quite know why.
>>
No. 981260 ID: b1b4f3

>>981257
There's probably someone else here. Better look around carefully. Don't forget to look up.
>>
No. 981261 ID: 1d5ff4

Lets save that new weapon for your sister, only use it when it is time to fight her and no one else, it'll be a unexpected secret weapon and she wont know what hit her.

You feel something strange here? Like a presence? Lets see if we can scan the area and get a map of the area and for anybody hiding here, just like when we were being hunted by Ozone earlier, alright?

Scan the environment for any hazards or occupants in the area, please...

(If it does not take my request, Argine, maybe you need to be the one to make the request)
>>
No. 981295 ID: e7c7d3

Check out the inscription
>>
No. 981304 ID: a9af05

>>981257
>There's something that presses against me - something that makes me want to stop, to leave. I... don't quite know why.
Remember how you were told that you have some areas that are off limits to you? This feeling is probably a warning letting you know that you're getting close to the boundaries of where you're allowed to go. I think you were also told that going past the boundaries would result in you getting a shock that would knock you out.
>>
No. 981457 ID: 2fc0a7

>>981257
throw the bullet as hard as you can towards the end of the room
>>
No. 981474 ID: a092dd
File 160586249947.png - (300.17KB , 1000x1000 , pl_067.png )
981474

>Is the area off-limits to you?
I mean, why would they bar me from the Hall of Heroes? There's nothing really crucial or secret here, dozens of people would be in here all the time. I could cross the door at least, so I breathe in, and keep going. Nothing adverse seems to happen to me, so I guess I'll be fine.

>Throw the bullet across the room

Nah. I'm here to give an offering, not to set a new record at shot put... not that I want to think about shotput again after what had happened last time.

>Scan the environment for hazards


[ERROR. UNRECOGNISED COMMAND.]

Well, I guess that didn't work. At least it turns on when we need it.

The wooden flooring has the faint imprints of hundreds of boots walking in and out of this sacred place. Nowadays, few people show up here. No more fights, no more tournaments for the soldiers - they've already moved on with their lives, out there in the universe.
Except me.

>Check the inscription

I don't need to. I've committed the heroes to memory.
Even if I closed my eyes, I could recount the heroes as I pass their statues and plaques.

Zayanskaya, the Loyal. Once a gladiator sort, the tradition of the Tournament was made in her honour. In her country, the other Asliann hold her up to a different standard – being the model soldier, one who had true pride and could hold herself to it. Time after time, she repelled invaders who tried to cross her fortified wall – and time after time, she would wipe them out.

Amala, the Kind. A young Linharjan who died stopping a biological weapon from being unleashed onto a city. The legends say that she died in the arms of her lover. They never confirmed that, however. Apparently, they never found the bodies. The favourite hero of romantic types, like a certain blue nerd we know.

Elyse Alois, the Resolute. A Sarasol Sergeant, who saved a promising young engineer from an internment camp after both of them had been abducted from a secure transport convoy. She went far and above to escape, taking down entire platoons of soldiers in a grand finale, despite her otherwise low rank. Someone who still inspires others, even after so long.

Marco Azni Saildrift, the Stoic. As far as I’m concerned, she was a bureaucratic type who got in the way of things... but I have to admit that her own accomplishments were impressive. The dismantling and sabotage of weapons of mass destruction, multiple successful solo-operations that led to the assassination and disestablishment of terrorist groups, before being promoted into a commander of her own special forces squad that kept the peace.
Few Rhappor like her were able to achieve similar heights, except one.

Many more line the halls. I could go on and on. Though, nobody's ever really seen their faces - only their weapons of choice.
A pantheon of fired bullets, long since spent. The reason we offer up unfired rounds is because we’ve still got legends of our own to forge. And I'm going to make my own damn legacy as a hero, the moment I get out of this damned place.

I feel a shiver as I cross by a statue.
>>
No. 981475 ID: a092dd
File 160586253865.png - (304.18KB , 1000x1000 , pl_068.png )
981475

As a cloud crosses over the horizon, dimming the light streaming into the chapel, I catch a glimpse of a familiar silhouette in the corner of my eye.


I stop. Don't make eye contact, don't make eye contact...

Sister "dearest". She's sitting there, waiting for me. I could've sworn she wasn't there a few moments ago.
>>
No. 981477 ID: 2fc0a7

>>981475
two can play at that game. you sit in a darkened spot and act like *you* were waiting mysteriously for *her*
>>
No. 981478 ID: b1b4f3

>>981475
She wasn't. Either she was invisible, or she can teleport. Invisibility is more likely and less troublesome.

Don't assume she's waiting for you. Keep going.
>>
No. 981480 ID: e51896

Ignore. Don't say anything, don't look at her, keep your head towards your destination, and just keep walking. it is bad luck to meet with your opponent before a match begins. (If she does say anything to you, just tell her it is disrespectful to be leaning her back against one of the statues of a hero, as they are important heroes to our world, not a headrest)

To keep your mind off of your si- that person sitting there, can you tell us about that soldier you admire that you're going to offer that bullet to as you keep walking? Why do you admire her so much?
>>
No. 981489 ID: ff1738

Just do what you came to do and leave. Avoid conflict.
>>
No. 981524 ID: a092dd
File 160596342774.png - (391.02KB , 1000x1000 , pl_069.png )
981524

“Argine.”
She always picks the worst of times to arrive. I don't know how she got here, but somehow, I don't recall her having invisibility or teleportation before.

Jin-R. Don’t you have anything better to do with your time than pestering the Sector bosses' inmate? I don't want to see your bloody face when you're hiding your eyes like that.”
She's been wearing those lenses on her face ever since she won the previous tournament. She can't go a damn moment without showing off her victories, it seems.

Jin doesn’t reply, like the stubborn oaf she is.
In turn, I try to ignore her presence, continuing towards the reason I came here today.

>Maybe YOU should sit in a dark spot mysteriously
Heh heh. But seriously, why does she do that? It's utterly baffling to me, and it's like she's ready to snap my neck at a moment's notice.

I arrive at the last shrine. The only hero I’d ever worship.

>Tell us about her

Urza Mara Frostpike, the Fury. A controversial and popular figure, and the most amazing Rhappor to have ever lived. Brutally efficient, even with her bare hands. Tall in stature and reportedly capable of tearing someone’s limbs off. There were often debates whether her practices were ethical, but you couldn’t deny that she got results. She’s someone I look up to… someone I wish I was. She struck fear into her enemies, defeated her own mother in hand to hand combat, and doesn’t care about what other people think of her. She typically only sees offerings from people like me – those who are willing to do anything to find victory, and the weak, seeking a fraction of her inner and outer strength.
When you give a shrine an offering, you’re basically asking the hero to support you and in turn, you must embody their ideals. The more you strive to be like one of the heroes, and the better you are at it, the more powerful you become. Or so it is said.

I place the round onto the altar, getting ready to make a quick prayer, but...
Jin sits nearby, like she's trying to edge me out of this space.

"Shouldn't you be offering up something to that stick-in-the-mud bureaucrat instead?"
I stick a thumb towards Marco's bullet statuette.
"I started out here too, Argine. It's okay to get in touch with your roots occasionally."
Probably as another way to spite me. She just has to choose everything I do, out-compete me in every damn training course, simulated operation or any kind of activity that we do together.

She scoots closer to me, without so much as asking. I'd push her away, but her fat ass means that she's as heavy as a tank.

"Can I go a single damn day without you suffocating me?"

"No. I have as much of a right to be here as you do, Argine. Even if my presence makes you unhappy."

I keep silent for a moment. It's like she's a living brick wall! Damn it, how am I meant to make the offering if she's breathing down my neck?
>>
No. 981529 ID: ce39da

Have you... ever actually voiced these feelings to her? And are you 100% sure that this is exactly what she intends with her actions, and she isn't just socially awkward? Insisting on wearing cool shades and being physically close to you could just mean she likes being close to you and values your perception of her. And she may have no idea that your feelings go beyond the usual sibling annoyance.

Talk to her; talk about your frustration about how everyone thinks she's better than you in every conceivable way, but especially how that seems to make you worthless in their eyes despite your own accomplishments, to the point where they won't even let you out of this prison even though there is no war anymore. Is there something everyone isn't telling you?

Even if she's not good at responding, she seems like a good listener.
>>
No. 981560 ID: b1b4f3

She strikes me as someone who needs to look cool at all times.

Have you talked to her much? Does she think you're a failure, or is it just that you're envious of her massive success?
>>
No. 981562 ID: 8fab7a

Why would her breathing down your neck hurt your convictions and willingness to make an offering at all?

If her goal is to disturb you, you should carry on regardless. If her goal is not to disturb you, why do you care?
>>
No. 981613 ID: 15a025

Ignore her breathing down your neck then. Don't let her weaken your offering. Put you heart into it.
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