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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.
Expand all images
>>
No. 970261 ID: e24163
File 159281005083.png - (772.03KB , 1000x1000 , pl_001.png )
970261

You would think that after the thirtieth time dragging me in here, she would know better than to try and lecture me. After this many reprimands and pointless lectures, I’m surprised that this place still comforts me. The smell of sweat and fur reminds me of my first days after I was born.
“Do you know why you’re here, Argine?”
Because I wasn’t given the option to leave. Not like the bitch with a quarter-staff up her ass is going to take that from me.
“What is it this time? Are you going to actually tell me how I’m meant to ‘reform’, or do you and all the others just want to keep me chained to this place forever?”
I would sucker-punch her, but knowing her reflexes, she’d just catch my arm mid-swing and break it. Again.
>>
No. 970262 ID: e24163
File 159281008879.png - (205.40KB , 1000x1000 , pl_002.png )
970262

I hate how she’s always looking down on me. Even if she had a chair, she’d still stand, just so she can tower over me. Why did I have to end up shorter than nearly everyone I know?
“This time, we don’t need to tell you anything – we’ve taken measures to ensure that things will go smoothly.”
A chill runs through my fur, like I’m standing on the roof of the facility at night. What the hell did she do this time? She never takes this kind of approach!
>>
No. 970263 ID: e24163
File 159281013079.png - (236.38KB , 1000x1000 , pl_003.png )
970263

“What kind of measures?”
She doesn’t smile. Is she even capable of smiling? It’s like relaxation doesn’t exist as a concept for her. Always standing, always alert. I know that’s just a flimsy shield for you, Judicium. You’re not as stalwart as you think you are. And one day, I will use it against you when you try to stop me from leaving.
“Something special was put together by the brightest minds of our facility. Something to monitor you, to instruct you, until you can demonstrate that you can leave properly, and not through tricks and sabotage.”
Lies. She’s lying. I’ve seen far worse than me leave this place. They can’t constantly keep track of me. I’ll just break free again when they’ve got their guard down.
“You’re doubting me, aren’t you? No matter. I can demonstrate. Say hello, Argine – inside your head.”
Like that’s going to make a difference. What kind of experiment is it this time?
>>
No. 970264 ID: e24163
File 159281016942.png - (512.02KB , 1000x1000 , pl_004.png )
970264

Ugh. Fine. I'll call her bluff.
Hello?
>>
No. 970265 ID: 0fae41

Pat your head and rub your stomach. Orders from above.
>>
No. 970266 ID: 4854ef

Greetings Trainee! And welcome to the selfhelp mental program. We will be instructing you until either you are properly reformed, or for possibly the rest of your life.
>>
No. 970268 ID: dce46f

We're here! But have no fear; just like you we like to play dirty, and we dislike authority. We'll get along famously!

Tell us a bit about yourself buddy.
>>
No. 970269 ID: 3992ff

>>970264
Nyahaha, wazzup.

We're you're new neighbors. Inside your head.

Although I suppose 'neighbors' is a bad way of phrasing it since that'd imply we're in a separate location. We're more like you're new, involuntary roommates.

And we're gonna be BEST. FRIENDS.

Whether you like it or not. Don't worry, though, you will.

Eventually.
>>
No. 970270 ID: b1b4f3

>>970264
Hello Argine.
We will be advising you. By my initial assessment, this will be a long-term arrangement, but it could be shorter depending on exactly what standards you need to live up to.
>>
No. 970271 ID: 5bcc5b

Buckle up, you're in for a ride.
>>
No. 970272 ID: 136f07

It’s time to reform. So let’s begin. REPENT! REPENT FOR YOUR CRUEL MISDEEDS!! SCREAM YOUR APOLOGIES TO THE STARS!!
>>
No. 970273 ID: af4027

Are you actually anything worthwhile or did our ethicly challenged creators just stick us in the nearist disposable mind?
>>
No. 970274 ID: cdabe3

Hahaha, oh man, you’re in for a wild ride now dude!

Show us ur dick >:3
>>
No. 970275 ID: 4286b4

Tell Judicium that the voices in your head are ordering you to demonstrate your obedience and humility.

Proceed to take off your pants.
>>
No. 970276 ID: b13dfe

Oh man, how badly did you fuck up that they decided to saddle you with us?
>>
No. 970278 ID: 798af3

Listen, we love you and we're here to he'll!
Yessiree, we'd do anything at all for you, because our llove for you runs deep.
Real deep.
We love you and we'll never leve you.
Never ever.
NEVER!
Because we FUCKIN LOVE YOU
WE MOTHER FUCKING LOVE YOU
WE WILL BURN THE STARS AND DEVOUR THE WORLD IF YOU EVER LEAVE US
WE GODDAMNED LOVE YOU. FOR NOW AND FOREVER!
>>
No. 970279 ID: 36784c

>>970264
Hello.

We will be making sure you behave yourself. Or depending on the circumstances that you’re in, we can completely backfire and help you leave.
>>
No. 970284 ID: cfc80f

AHHHHH, FRESH MEAT. WHAT FUN WE SHALL HAVE TOGETHER. YEEEEES.
>>
No. 970285 ID: 45acae

Aww, she called us special. Too bad we don't know what kind of monitoring and instruction we're supposed to be doing. Or what the purpose of this place even is. Or have any duty or loyalty to it, her, or their goals. Guess 'the facilities brightest minds' aren't as high a wattage as she's banking on, huh?

Don't mind us, we just like to be weird as possible to get over that awkward introductory phase ASAP. So why don't you introduce yourself? Tell us a little about yourself? Let us know all your hopes and dreams? And tell me, are you more or less comfortable with the neighbors in your split-level head being a complete unknown off the reservation rather than thought police loyal to her?
>>
No. 970339 ID: a80afd

Hello as you can hear we're all quite quirky but we're a good think tank assuming we don't drive you insane.
>>
No. 970394 ID: 094652

>Hello?
WELCOME TO HELL
POPULATION: YOU.

Also, they are serious this time. The guys they tested us on consistently called us insane.

I'd tell you more about them but most of our connections were abruptly cut off for some reason.
>>
No. 970395 ID: 864e49

We have such sights to show you!
We will aid you.
>>
No. 970431 ID: e24163
File 159289178289.png - (1.13MB , 1000x1000 , pl_005.png )
970431

Voices. There are voices in my head. Who the hell are you people?
>pat your head
What do you think I am, a rookie? Basic prank – pretending to be a ranking officer and issuing stupid commands. Like that time a certain meathead thought it wasreal funny to tell me that if I put a shotgun shell into a flaregun, it would set the pellets on fire. Instead, I got that reprimand while they dug shrapnel out of me. Not falling for it.
>show us your dick
That’s an old term, isn’t it? Did you learn it from the seniors? Either way, I don’t have one, so you can shove it.
>reform, advice
The question is whether your definition of ‘help’ is aligned with mine. For all I know, you could be recording my thoughts and sending them to the higher ups. Even if you say you aren’t.
>disliking authority
Good to know that one of you seem to be on-board, even if it’s probably just another ploy. Do I just not have any privacy from now on?
>are you actually worthwhile
Yes! I’m awesome! Badass! I’ve made my own damn guns, I’ve proven myself in combat simulations but they all keep holding me back and I don’t know why! I’ve developed a Parasignia! I’ve passed Device Training three times when they insisted I needed to do it again! It’s not even because of my height, because two midgets were able to qualify for the higher echelons!
But… none of you sound anything like the authority figures around here. Or familiar at all. What even are you?
>>
No. 970433 ID: e24163
File 159289196724.png - (207.73KB , 1000x1000 , pl_006.png )
970433

Judicium just stares at me, even as I’m trying to process the cacophony inside of my head.
It’s unnerving, how she’s so cold all the time, even now, when she’s put something in my head that can read my mind.
“I see that you’ve realised your situation, Argine. This way, we can make sure you won’t be able to break into places where you shouldn’t be.”
“How? When?

“You didn’t notice the subdermal injection when you sat down.”
Damn it – I let my guard down!

“It is a prototype. A Splintered Artificial Intelligence that will monitor you and your actions in the facility, as well as automatically preventing you access to specific facilities unless previously permitted. Consider today a bit of a test run, Argine. I don’t need to say, or do anything more.”
If she were smug about it, it would be better. Then at least the idea of vengeance would be sweeter. But she never is – just a frigid, heartless woman beating me down just like all the others. They don’t even make fighting back satisfying!

“See yourself out, Argine. I’m sure you have plenty to think about now, on your behaviour and your performance. Worry not – it isn’t like the SAI is mind-controlling you. You’re welcome to ignore their suggestions… but there is no guarantee that things will go well for you.”
With that, she just stands up and strolls off – that weird scarf of hers billowing behind her, animated like there’s an invisible breeze.

Wait. Was that a smile?
>>
No. 970435 ID: e24163
File 159289213855.png - (208.36KB , 1000x1000 , pl_007.png )
970435

I swear, I’ll get her back for this. Maybe I’ll steal her scarf later- wait, you guys can hear this.
Hmm. Fine. Let’s lay some ground rules. It’s my head, and I’m not going to have you people order me around. Although I may listen, I’m still my own person, got it?

If your intention is to keep me here, I’m not going to give you an easier time just because you can hear what I’m thinking.
For those of you who are with me, I’m not sure that it’s safe listening to your suggestions – for all I know, they could be looking for more reasons to keep me trapped here.
So! We’re at an impasse. Until I get some clarification about just what you guys are, and your capabilities, I can’t trust you. For that, there’s two people I can see in this facility – you can vote on it. I’m awesome like that.

Option one: Diagram.
Diagram’s a weird case. A friend, and part of the Research and Development team. I could ask her for a more technical opinion on things, because she’s a huge nerd and probably knows more about a “Splintered Artificial Intelligence”.
Option two: Nanoweaver.
You guys must be some serious bio-tech, so Nanoweaver, our Medic, will probably know something about you. And she’s nice enough, compared to the other Commander-types at least.
Now, who do you want me to go to first? Gotta look like I’m listening to your suggestions, at least.
>>
No. 970438 ID: 0fae41

We're not in the chain of command, we're in your mind. That's much worse. The urge will always be there now.
Go to Diagram. Lose yourself in the comforting sea of voices when the techno jargon gets to be too much.
>>
No. 970439 ID: 9f00f4

Well you're obviously going to see both of them. But I'd suggest the one you consider an actual friend first, so Diagram. Easier that way, the Medic will probably fall back on her training and act as a polite professional. That's probably not what you need right now.

Also. I think the people that made us are hideously unethical? Because they're simulating a world, or at least a several hundred people and up to billions of Philosophical Zombies at some resolution (look it up), AND it's not common knowledge that we're all simulated from this side, and there is a lot of suffering. That means, holy shit some people are doing some hideously evil things to intelligent, feeling entities. I think we might be an ancestor simulation? That'd explain the old language, like dick as slang for penis?
>>
No. 970440 ID: dce46f

Do you have privacy? I highly doubt it!

What are we? I don't know but definitely not something that'll behave like our creators expect!

Diagram has the cooler code name so I'm voting we see them based on no other criteria.
>>
No. 970442 ID: b1b4f3

>>970431
What's a Parasignia? How exactly did you pass Device Training? How WELL did you pass? There is a possibility you are being kept here because you show a very high level of talent, and they want to mold you into an elite soldier. One that will follow orders. The other possibility is that you keep passing tests by cheating, and they are not impressed with you.

There shouldn't be anything interesting to learn from the biological side of things. Go talk to your nerd friend.
>>
No. 970455 ID: cdabe3

I’m gonna say nanoweaver, since the implant must’ve uh

weaved some

nanos???
>>
No. 970457 ID: 094652

>Why do they hold me back
Well, you're not a team player. They aren't worried about your ability to perform on the field, they're worried that you will lead the rest of your under-prepared subordinates into suicide missions that you never prepared for. In the long run, incompetence in management can deal more damage to the company than outright going rogue.

But yes, they're not good at teaching you. At the rate you've progressed and the time you've been held back, they should have created a specialized training regimen that would only punish you when you ignored key lessons involving the topics you distinctly lack, not by lumping you with the rest of the greenhorns and then chiding you for putting thorough effort into improving what you do best. I think that's what we're here for.

Talk to nanoweaver, we know more about AIs than we do about augmentation.
>>
No. 970459 ID: d63ea8

I would like to go to the Nanoweaver, the more we can learn about one another the more we can try to help. But you should pick whichever you'd find to be more informative.

What do you want out of this place?
>>
No. 970460 ID: 6e6f32

Ok. Look. This is how this works: You gotta be fuckin' Awesome.
If your Lame were just gonna give you a bunch of helpful advice to make your life suck less. It'll be like having your mom in your head. Gross.

But if you're Awesome. (And I'm not talking any awesome, I'm talkin' Charlemagne awesome, Horney-Futa awesome, Polo awesome, or maybe even Zack awesome.) Then we're gonna do everything in our power to make sure you're even more awesome!!! It'll be one hell of a wild ride. So go be Awesome!

Go see Diagram. There's definitely stuff about us that neither you nor we are supposed to know. Since she's your friend and a huge nerd she'll probably let something slip.
>>
No. 970467 ID: d88d26

You want to figure out how we work? Are you capable of doing something or are you planning to force someone more competent to interfere in your behalf?

How about instead of sabotaging this strange arrangement we just fulfill Judicium's demands and thrust she will be true to her word?
Organize your thoughts: Why are you here in the first place? What was you supposed to do to be released? What happened that delayed your release? Identify the problem to figure out how to solve it.

While we are at it try to rethink your grievance with Judicium.
You want her to be antagonistic to you so you can fantasize about revenge and get more satisfaction from enacting violence? This entire process is in your head, it has nothing to do with her point of view.
You got a hint of smugness from her, use it to make her regret her current attitude towards you. Make a game out of geting emotional reactions out of this controlling individual an watch as you become more important to her in a way she was expecting. You already got a smile, count it as a point. Eventually you will be able to influence how she think and how she act.
>>
No. 970472 ID: ce39da

I get the impression that both departments as institutions will be just about as informative as the other, so pick the one who will be more open with you: Diagram.

However, we would appreciate getting some surface-level context from you about what this facility is, why you're here, and what all those terms you just used are, as we seem to be lacking in that department. Glancing at what we've already gathered, your problem is either that of psychology (that is, displaying symptoms of insubordinate behavior), that of the unorthodox methods you're likely employing (they seem to be under the impression that you're a habitual cheat), or quite possibly both.
>>
No. 970473 ID: dc48fa

Sounds like Nano is the person for the mechanical or biological side of things, the how it works and are there any physical side-effects sort of thing. For what I'm reading you as wanting right now, Diagram's probably the choice, though you should probably check in with Nano at some point.
>>
No. 970486 ID: f133dc

Two things I wanna point out here.

One, we could not give less of a shit if you piss off your superiors. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of would like you to break into places you shouldn't and find out things you aren't supposed to know, because then we know things you aren't supposed to know.

Second, we are going to torment the shit out of you. I'm serious, there's like a lot of us, we are going to give you every nasty mental image you never wanted, and all the advice you absolutely don't need, as well as some you actually do.

I'm going to suggest the medic. I'm guessing you'll want to get us out of your head eventually, no matter how useful we are.
>>
No. 970487 ID: 5877dc

The reason why Judicium is on your case is because she loves you.
>>
No. 970488 ID: 36784c

>>970435
Go talk to Diagram. I'm sure your girlfriend would be more willing to tell you things.
>>
No. 970500 ID: 45acae

>recording my thoughts
If we are, we don't know we are either.
>Maybe I’ll steal her scarf later
You're thinking small scale. Disappointingly small scale. What you need to do is do something that spectacularly cripples her authority, legitimacy and more, while propelling the righteous fuck out of here. And you need to write her a nice note saying it was all our doing, and her hardon to 'reform' you for no good reason resulted directly in her downfall. Thanks Judicum, couldn't have done it without you, you intolerable frigid so-on-and-so-forth.

>Although I may listen, I’m still my own person, got it?
Sure thing, but I think that's what her problem is with you. Militaries tend to like orthodoxy, especially where they shouldn't... Which just makes me wonder where she goes off giving you AI schizophrenia.

Anyway, we sound like a technical rather than medical problem, you should probably talk to Diagram.
>>
No. 970522 ID: e24163
File 159297233688.png - (408.06KB , 1000x1000 , pl_008.png )
970522

I’ll go see Diagram then, and see if I can convince her to part with some info on you guys. I’ll answer your questions as I go, but for a couple of voices in my head, you guys really don’t know much about this place, do you?

>Simulations
What are you yammering on about? The only kinds of simulations I’ve heard about are more like training exercises. I don’t think this place has the tech to make entire worlds, or simulating hundreds of people.
>Device Training
Don’t you DARE accuse me of cheating. I earned my victories, and nobody has a right to invalidate them.
The tech department cooks up various gadgets for use in combat, and it’s our jobs to learn that you’re meant to throw the grenade after you pull the pin. I effectively passed three difficulties of training, meaning that I’m one of the best in the facility when it comes to their usage. I’ve got proficiency in all different kinds of gadgets, applying them in combat and repairing them when they break down.
Tier three was the most difficult – putting me in a situation where I had to repair multiple broken combat devices under pressure before my position was overwhelmed, using the fixed gadgets to fight back against multiple opponents with different resistances. It’s an artificial scenario, but one that really tested you. I passed, spectacularly, in front of dozens of spectators.
>What are Parasignias?
Here’s a question for you, then. What was the worst moment in your lives? What was the best? A Parasignia is a badge of honor in this place. But in reality, it’s more like a mark on your psyche, made manifest. Can you imagine being held back, even after one of your greatest successes? The feeling lingers in you.
>Elite soldier
Well, the idea that I’m just so good that they want to make me into an elite sounds great, but doesn’t make any sense. After all, the higher ups are the elite soldiers, so if they wanted me in, they could just invite me like they did for my ‘sister’.
>Polo, Charlemagne, Zack
I don’t know these people, they don’t sound like any of the war heroes I’ve ever heard of.
>Judicium
It would be easier to follow instructions if she actually gave me any. I don’t really know what love is, it’s such a weird concept. But I don’t think it involves broken limbs and lost teeth.
Either way – once I figure out more about you, I’m going to make her regret it. Even if she’s listening in on this right now.

I arrive at Diagram’s door and immediately, I’m given a reminder of just how weird she is.
Ba-dum thump. Ba-dum thump. Ba-dum thump.
An orchestra of anxiety, playing on repeat in my head. It intensifies for a moment as she creaks open the door, then fades off as she discovers that I’m not here to smush her into paste.
“A-Argine? You don’t look too happy… scratch that, you don’t feel happy.”
She gives off a nervous laugh.
Right. Unlike most of the people here, she’s physically frail, has poor vision, and is actually intelligent. She also has psychic powers.
Imagine the sound of a marching drum in your head. That’s what it feels like being around Diagram whenever she’s worked up about something. You feel what she’s feeling, against your will…and hers.
“You don’t have your implant on, Diagram. Were you expecting me?”
She freezes up, like someone was pointing a gun at her.
For someone in a facility that’s meant to produce ‘the best soldiers the world has ever seen’, you would expect some of it to rub off on her after a few years.
“I ah, just left it off. You know, it's more comfortable that way, plus I wasn’t expecting anyone…”
From the way she’s standing in the doorway, she’s clearly trying to hide something.
You guys got any suggestions? I could just talk to her outside, but then everyone will hear what we’re saying. But she doesn’t usually hide anything from me in such a thinly-veiled manner either.
>>
No. 970523 ID: cdabe3

“I don’t care if you’re looking at porn, it’s perfectly normal.” And then just barge in
>>
No. 970525 ID: 0fae41

Go in and close the door behind you. Don't block the hallway with your small talk!
You think she can hear artificial voices? Do you think they're contagious? If not, think it immediately. All organisms exist to propagate.
>>
No. 970527 ID: b1b4f3

If you've passed your tests legitimately, and skillfully, then what was Judicium talking about when she said you had to leave without trickery or sabotage? They already know what you've been doing, why hide it from us?

Just ask (like a normal person) to be let in so you can talk privately about the SAI. If she doesn't let you in then you get to ask why. I expect her to want you to wait outside while she puts some stuff away that you're not supposed to see, either for privacy reasons or security reasons.
>>
No. 970528 ID: 6e6f32

>they don’t sound like any of the war heroes I’ve ever heard of.
One was indeed a war hero, the other a cunning playboy, and the other was just had BALLS OF STEEL.
The names don't matter, they were all awesome. You don't need to be a war hero to be awesome.

Anyway, to the task at hand:
"You know what I'm here about, Diagram."
And then just walk in. Think of it as a tactical deployment of rudeness. For necessities sake, of course. Really you'd stand blameless if you think about it.

Once your inside, look around the room and investigate whatever direction causes her the most anxiety while you're looking that way.
>>
No. 970535 ID: 9f00f4

Simulation guy again. It sounds like these people have utterly controlled your information access. Do you REALLY think if there was a means to simulate lots of people in the world, and you didn't have a reason to know about it, that they'd tell you?

Anyway, consider saying this:

"How about I wait out here, while you close the door and quickly clean up whatever thing it is you're hiding, and then yell for me to come in when you're ready?"
>>
No. 970558 ID: 864e49

>>970431
Wait so if you don't a penis does that mean you're female or that you don't have genitalia?

>>970433
I kind of hate her.

>>970435
So tell us the state of the world, whats the reason you're stuck here, is there anywhere else to go?

>1.balls are touching
>2.the double helix of a fried pork chop

>>970522
She was flicking the bean.
Hey what happens when she gets horny? Also can she her us through you?
>>
No. 970559 ID: 4286b4

Tell her not to worry, you're not here because of her. Then just walk in, ignoring any attempts of hers to stop you. Look around for anything of interest.
>>
No. 970561 ID: d63ea8

Just say that you want to talk to her and that you don't want to be overheard.

Diagram seems like the kind of person to respect that.
>>
No. 970562 ID: c3e8e8

I don't suppose there've been any... political reasons people are hard on you? Like maybe you have a habit of being undiplomatic, maybe causing a little more damage than necessary, not following some of the formalities, leaving messes that need cleaning by other people, that sort of thing?
>>
No. 970569 ID: ce39da

> Don't you DARE...
Hey, we aren't the ones accusing you of cheating; Judicium is. Seeing as you genuinely seem to think otherwise, I think you should sit down with her or someone on her level sometime and have a talk about why that is. It might have been an assumed rule that you broke, like "you're supposed to fight with the gear as-is instead of fixing it" or something dumb like that. Or maybe you have a superpower like Diagram's you either aren't aware of or simply haven't informed the facility about, and the lack of intel makes your superhuman feats come off as cheating? On the other hand, encountering red tape on what should be a simple matter could introduce the possibility of something fishy going on around you.

> What do.
Note that your attitude probably isn't doing you any favors around here. Just tell Diagram you want to know more about the implant they just made you get - don't threaten, and don't intrude. Things will likely be more comfortable around her if you don't escalate her anxiety.
>>
No. 970581 ID: d186fc

Odd that everyone seems to be a mishmash of different races we(not you) have seen before.
>>
No. 970582 ID: dbd72b

>Note that your attitude probably isn't doing you any favors around here.

Echoing this. You appear to exist in some kind of authoritarian paramilitary hellscape, and in that environment, lying is a necessary skill to smooth out the many contradictions such a system forces on it's subjects.
Have you criticized any higher ups? Or showed hesitation or refusal to an order from one of them? You may or may not have been correct, but obedience is often what they look for, above and beyond competence.

Right now? express a desire to know about us, and request privacy. Pleading should offer better results than demanding, but go with what you think would work.

Addendum: asking her to... switch on the implant? I'm guessing a psychic jammer of some kind? ... would probably make you more comfortable, but allowing this to continue as is would endear her to you more. Though it would require honesty, which doesn't seem like an issue coming from you. Just try to stay focused and keep things relatively simple.
Don't think too much about how you probably caught her masturbating. It happens, and our concerns are urgent.
>>
No. 970585 ID: 45acae

Go for a simple 'may I come in". If that's a no, ask if she needs a minute to compose herself, or if she knows damn well why your not happy because she was involved in making us and needs a minute head-start.
>>
No. 970685 ID: e24163
File 159313183030.png - (303.97KB , 1000x1000 , pl_009.png )
970685

I stand outside the door, glaring at her for a moment. She doesn’t budge, nor does she speak up.
Screw it. I’m not really in the mood for asking when I’ve got dozens of voices implanted into my head. I’ll answer your questions later, once I actually know what you are.
“You know what I’m here for, Diagram. I’m coming in.”
“Ah, wait-!“
I push past her and park myself on the side of her bed. Her room smells of oil, soldering and dashed expectations.
Besides what appeared to be a couple of gun parts lying around her work-bench, there doesn’t seem to be anything significantly out of place. She tosses a couple of nervous glances at the desk, but quickly settles her gaze back onto me after closing the door behind her.

“So, what? You helped the higher ups with this, didn’t you?”
Diagram looks taken aback, but the emotions I’m sensing from her don’t change. Still a generalised ball of anxiety, she is. But she didn’t turn on her implant, even after I reminded her about it.

“Argine…”
She coughs.
“Yes, I did help.”
I sit up, and her anxiety flares for a moment.
“BUT, but! I made it so that they don’t work like the higher ups think they do!”
“Explain.”
I cross my legs, glaring at her.
“Argine, the fact is that your past escape attempts haven’t worked. I don’t want to sound mean, but was that one idea you had where you rigged up explosives to the walls really a good plan? I mean, you just ended up blowing yourself up and back into Nanoweaver’s office. Or that time you tried to use the beam modules as rocket shoes and-”
I lean forwards, waving a hand dismissively.
“Hey, hey, this is about you, not me. Plus, there are people listening!”
Diagram shakes her head, touching the bridge of her snout.

“Nobody’s listening except for us, Argine. The higher ups can’t actually watch over you using the SAI, or see your thoughts.”
“What? Then what the hell was with Judicium going on about that?”
She pauses.
“Oh. I lied.”
“And she believed you? She knows that we’re friends!”
She taps her fingers together, giving a hesitant smile.
“Well, I did convince a certain someone to lend me her support… Nana Weaver’s got a soft spot for us two, it seems. She persuaded Judicium to go through with things, even in spite of the questionable legitimacy of my claims.”
Soft spot for Diagram, more like.
“I figured that she’d expect me to lie, but I misled her on which part I lied about. So she thinks that I’m intentionally handicapping you with an AI that’ll constantly get on your case whenever you get ‘stupid ideas.”
Well, I can’t say that she’s wrong about that, either. The 'getting on my case' part, not the stupid ideas part. My ideas are great!

“But there’s something else,” she says.
“What?”
“Hold still for a moment.”
>>
No. 970686 ID: e24163
File 159313189414.png - (631.01KB , 1000x1000 , pl_010.png )
970686

A brief, stinging sensation.
Did she just-
Diagram’s staring at me with a quiet intensity – the kinds of which I rarely ever see from such a meek girl.
H-hey! Just because I don’t like being shot as much as you do, doesn’t mean I’m meek, Argine!
What?
“Why are you in my head? You don’t have telepathy! I don’t need more people hanging around in my skull!”
She responds mentally, like she’s beaming her thoughts straight into my head. And unlike the smothering discomfort of her emotional radiation, the words are clear and crisp – ringing shots in the hail of words.
Sorry for the sudden contact, Argine! I wasn’t sure if the SAI would be able to link up to me or not, but this was a little unexpected. They’re just so… chatty. But, if I’m not too far away from you, I can talk to you through the SAI. It translates my thoughts into something you can hear, too.
Great, so that’s even less privacy than before.
Diagram lets go of my face, stepping back.
“I won’t be able to hear your thoughts unless you specifically want me to, Argine. The SAI routes it to me, making physical contact was just to set it up the first link. However, I can still send you messages regardless.”
She closes her eyes, concentrating. Once again, her voice pops up in my head.
The SAI aren’t people, Argine. They’re artificial splinters of individuals the program records, using their experiences and personality as a basis for giving strategic advice. Once, they might have been used for keeping records, but they’re something more now. I simply re-activated a component that the higher-ups weren’t aware of.
A small smile crosses her face, as locks eyes with me again.
“You now have much of the facility’s knowledge in you, Argine. Although they may be eccentric, with their help, you’ll be able to fight better than you’ve ever had before with their advice.
So I can trust you guys, for now.
But I don’t even know where to start. What the hell is Diagram thinking? She didn’t tell me any of this before!
>>
No. 970687 ID: c3e8e8

I don't feel like I have the facility's knowledge. Though I suppose if I'm not a real person I shouldn't feel like anything. Let's see.

Self: Access files for confiscated contraband (personal items) and cross-reference with personnel files. Anything interesting?
>>
No. 970688 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm, so, let me get this straight. You're *supposed to* force your way out?
>>
No. 970689 ID: 9f00f4

I mean, I think I'm people? What does being people feel like? Do you have a test? Where do you put the cutoff between 'not people' and 'people'? Seems kinda arbitrary. Whatever happened to 'Cogito Ergo Sum'?
>>
No. 970690 ID: e7c7d3

Oh hey, untraceable radio contact with a cute nerd! That'll be handy.

Ask why she's helping
>>
No. 970691 ID: 094652

Hm... nope, still insane. I still believe that I'm a [REDACTED] and sending messages to you from another dimension with a computer that still uses spinning data. But we won't let a few delusions stop us from doing our job.

>What do
Boop her snoot.
>>
No. 970692 ID: 4854ef

Better question. Why do we want to help you and her in this?
>>
No. 970694 ID: 45acae

Aww, she really was looking out for you. I was worried we'd have to give her the cold-shoulder 'we are no longer friends' routine for foisting us on you.
...Did that make any sense? We need to get our pronoun situation figured out.
>The SAI aren’t people, Argine.
Yeah okay, I take it back. She doesn't even believe in your totally feasible, completely magical-thinking-free escape plans! Ask her what she's hiding in her desk, then you'll see!... Probably...
>>
No. 970695 ID: 6e6f32

PFFFFFFFTTT
How COULD she tell you?!?!?
It's like that old defector fighter pilot. Pretend to be a good boy all the way up until BAM!
TREASON!
But by then it's too late to stop you.

Also: Hi Mom!
>>
No. 970696 ID: d63ea8

Diagram probably kept quiet so that Argine wouldn't find out.

What drove you to try and escape previously?
>>
No. 970723 ID: 864e49

>>970686
Ok first off you're an idiot. And kind of an ass.

Second: Questions
>>970431
Wait so if you don't a penis does that mean you're female or that you don't have genitalia?

So tell us the state of the world, what is this place, whats the reason that you're not allowed to leave, is there anywhere else to go?
What other "genius" ideas have you come up with in the past? I mean seriously how did you buy that a flare gun could set bullets on fire??

>>970522
Hey what happens when she gets horny?


And finally ask her if she wants to make out a little bit.
>>
No. 970724 ID: 4286b4

>with their help, you’ll be able to fight
Fight? More like Flirt huehue

Oh, Diagram can hear us also like this? Hey Diagram, want us to tell Argine about that one weird thing you're secretly into?

Anyway, I guess this means we're not working for anyone but ourselves. Also, I think we should be visiting Nanoweaver then.
>>
No. 970727 ID: e19a40

>The SAI aren’t people

I resent this remark.


>You now have much of the facility’s knowledge in you

Are you sure about that? This knowledge must be well hidden because I know fuck all about this place.
All the information I have was gathered since activation, and Argine is really bad at explaining. I still not sure if her graduation was delayed or if she is a prisoner.

Diagram, explain succinctly:
-What is the purpose of this place?
-How Argine got here?
-Why Argine can't leave?
-What are the pros and cons of cooperating?
-What are the pros and cons of escaping?
-Are you coming with us?
>>
No. 970729 ID: d186fc

>>970727
>know fuck all
Now hold on. While we don't know anything about the facility, we do have our Patented General Knowledge© although that doesn't seem applicable here since everything seems jumbled up (Tozol, Neumono, and belenos hybrid things).

>>970723
>No peen
Probably don't have secondary sex characteristics. Their hormones are probably artificially tailored to have the most optimal ratio of male and female. Genitals (and puberty) would really fuck that up so it makes sense to get rid of it.
>>
No. 970731 ID: d186fc

>>970729
>secondary sex
I am stupid. Meant primary.
>>
No. 970760 ID: 45acae

And hold on, why is Judicum so willing to actually sabotage Argine? what's her angle?
>>
No. 970764 ID: b1b4f3

New theory: Argine is awesome at something specific, and they needed time to get something appropriate ready for her before she graduated. Like us, perhaps.
>>
No. 970804 ID: 1bf6d6

>>970760 She doesn't want to sabotage Argine unconditionally, but only when Argine gets any funny ideas.
>>
No. 970928 ID: 978762
File 159340954946.png - (197.30KB , 1000x1000 , pl_011.png )
970928

“Why didn‎’t you tell me about this, Diagram? Was that why you left your implant on?
“Ah… I left my suppressor off so that I could hear the SAI. I could, but you couldn’t hear me until I touched Argine.“
>Escape
Well, let’s say that forcing your way out isn’t the standard. But let’s say that, after I realised that these people weren’t going to let me go normally, I decided that forcing my way out is the only choice I have left.
“Diagram, the SAI keep asking questions. For a creation that’s meant to be like a group of strategic advisors in my head, they know nothing about this place.”
Diagram tilts her head. Wasn’t she the one who worked with you guys in the first place?
“I’m not really your mom or creator… all I did was fix the bunch of you up so that you could all function again. But I didn’t get a chance to look through your pre-existing data in-depth. Maybe the memory files from the past were corrupted due to disuse? That would be a bit of a problem…”

Great. So the strategic advisors I have in my head are perverts that have no idea what’s going on at all.
“Doesn’t that mean I’m screwed?”
Diagram shakes her head and walks off to a corner of her room, where a pile of storybooks are stacked. She pulls off the top-most book, walking back over.
“It’s kind of like what happens in one of my storybooks – a brave protagonist is led to victory by the voices of her ancestors. Even if they don’t know everything, they’re still inclined for strategy. You can trust their responses once you’re actually fighting your way out.
I just… wasn’t expecting some of the responses to be so brazen. You were all making so many lewd assumptions about me…
She’s probably not gonna answer those kinds of questions in detail, folks. You can draw your own conclusions on the subject. I’m certainly not going to be encouraging her.

“Either way! To clarify, the facility’s currently just women. Just because we’re spliced together doesn’t mean that we don’t have… normal biological functions… Though, I’m not super familiar with the underlying reasoning behind our nature as hybrids, that’s Nanoweaver’s domain.”
Diagram clears her throat, tapping her left glasses lens.
“Argine, it’s worth mentioning that there’s also the possibility that they’ll regain knowledge as they continue to see the facility. The SAI is highly neural in nature, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did end up recovering data later. You’ll be able to learn about this place just from being with Argine, I’m sure of it. What doesn’t have an answer now most likely will make itself clear as you interact with more people.
>>
No. 970930 ID: 978762
File 159340966694.png - (189.49KB , 1000x1000 , pl_012.png )
970930

>bad at explaining
“Don’t blame me. You try telling things to voices in your head that know absolutely nothing about basic concepts. I don’t know some of the things you’re asking about!”
Diagram pats my shoulder. It’s a little condescending, getting it from her of all people.“Sometimes people don’t want to tell you everything. I’m sure Argine here would be better off if the higher ups informed her of what she could be doing besides ‘obeying orders’, but information is power.”
She twirls a finger in the air, changing the topic.
“I believe in Argine’s capability as an individual – she’s one of the best that this place has produced. But please don’t be too mean to Argine about her past incidents. She’s just really good at experimenting! And she was six months old when the flaregun incident happened, she can’t be blamed for that one too much. It has the word flare in it and Argine thought that-”
I raise a hand, shushing her.
“How about we don’t entertain the splinters that doubt my capability and get some further details? They’re riding around in my head – give ‘em the explanations.”
Diagram blinks, before straightening her back.
“Right! Because of your collective loss of knowledge, I’ll provide some cursory details. Argine, feel free to chime in, because we shouldn’t waste too much time. I’d recommend you go see Nanoweaver next after we’re done, because she has the other part of the plan.”
Ugh. I hate lectures. But if this’ll help me get out of this place, I’d listen to a hundred as long as it wasn’t Judicium or any of the other hags lecturing me on ‘proper strategy’.

>What is the purpose of this place
“It’s a facility meant to make super soldiers, so to speak! We have the finest in military technology and genetic manipulation, though we never got deployed anywhere. The higher ups said that things have changed, so gradually, people have been leaving find their callings elsewhere.”
“There’s nothing to do here! Leaving would be far more interesting. We’re on a goddamn island in the middle of nowhere, with absolutely nothing but ocean stretching off forever. ”
>How did Argine get here
“That’s an easy one. She was born here, like me!”
“Even though you’re older than I am, you certainly don’t act like it, Diagram.”
>Why can’t she leave
“Well, it’s not really so much that I can’t leave, as that they seem to be intent on prolonging my stay as long as physically possible to frustrate me into submission. They demand more and more of me, and I’m tired of giving them what they want all the time.“
“My personal theory is that it’s because of the circumstances of Argine’s birth. I don’t really know all that much about it, since Nanoweaver was in charge at the time, but apparently Argine was born a little different to everyone else here. A lot of people seem to single out Argine for that fact, but I don’t feel like she’s all too different, outside of a tendency to try out-of-the-box strategies.”
>cooperation
Diagram shrugs. “I wouldn’t know – the Sector Bosses – our higher ups, have been putting Argine through a lot of different tests for six months now. While cooperating isn’t necessarily harmful, the number of people left in the facility are dwindling. Personally, I think they’ll let her go eventually.”
Like that’ll ever happen. “The question’s when ‘eventually’ is. I’d rather make my own way out of here than follow their commands any longer. I’m already basically a prisoner, even if I’m meant to be a damn soldier!”
>>
No. 970932 ID: 978762
File 159340977315.png - (238.48KB , 1000x1000 , pl_013.png )
970932

>escape
I’ve tried a whole dozen times. But this time, I’ll make sure that I won’t be caged again.
“It’s not like they can track me if I escape. I don’t know why they’re so damn insistent on keeping me here, but I’m not going to sit here and find out. The outside world sounds so big, but I know so little about it because few people bother coming back!”
I cast a glance towards Diagram, who’s still awkwardly standing around. Geez, it’s not like I can’t hear her if she sits down at her work-bench.
“What about you, Diagram?”
>Will you be joining us
Diagram clasps her hands together again, pausing. She doesn’t quite meet my gaze.
“I’m not sure. There’s a lot of things I still want to sort out here first, and I’m on better terms with the Sector Bosses than she is.”
I’ve asked her to come along with me before. But it’s like there’s something anchoring her to this place – she always gives a half-hearted answer, staring down at her shoes and waiting for the conversation to move on.
But, I can’t wait here forever. She mentioned a plan.
“So what’s the plan that you and Nanoweaver cooked up?”
Diagram grins.
“We’re going to invoke tournament rules on the sector bosses.”
Oh. Ah-hahaha!
That is absolutely perfect.
“You brilliant, brilliant blue bastard! Did you and Nanoweaver seriously get Judicium and the rest of the higher ups to agree to a tournament setup?
I remember my previous tournament fondly – I didn’t even have my Parasignia at the time, and I still kicked ass! Beat some people who had ‘em. Even if I’m going to be facing the sector bosses in one on one combat, this is so much better than day after day, week after week of being ‘obedient’.

“We did… but, it’s against all of the sector bosses. All of them. And your sister. Are you sure you’ll-”
“Yes!”, I snap. “Of course I’ll be fine. I have a Parasignia now. It doesn’t matter what she has, I’ll be able to come out on top this time!” Plus, I’ve got you splinters hanging around in my head.
“You said that Nanoweaver’s got further details?”
She nods. “I was mostly in charge of getting the SAI ready, Argine. But, if everything works out, you should be ready by tonight.”
“Then, I’m gonna go.“
Diagram nods as I stand up and leave.
I close the door behind me, a spring in my step.
You know, at first, I wasn’t sure that things were going to work out. For the first damn time in months, it feels like I’m actually going to get out of here! As for the tournament rules… just gotta beat up each of them in turn, right? Simple. It’s simple.
>>
No. 970934 ID: 978762
File 159340997430.png - (220.76KB , 1000x1000 , pl_014.png )
970934

Walking through the hallways of the facility leaves me feeling strange, knowing that now – more than ever, I have a very real chance of succeeding, and leaving under my own terms.
I make my way over to Nanoweaver’s, but as I approach, I hear a clamour going on inside.
“…supporting her? ….unnecessary risk…”
Someone’s shouting, and it isn’t Nanoweaver. The metal sliding door muffles the sound, but as I slide up to it, I can make it out clearer.
“Would you rather that she actually blow herself up in another escape attempt? I’d be tired of listening to orders all day and all night without so much as a justification.”
Ah, Nanoweaver. Always the voice of reason.
The other person in the room scoffs.
“I could only hope so. Saves us all the effort of trying! I don’t know why you and the others think treating her as anything more than the waste of genetic material she is will result in anything besides disaster. Her sister has everything worthwhile that could have resulted from that batch anyway.”
Ugh. I step away from the door, grinding my teeth. Not sure if I can tolerate listening to more praise of sister dearest.
Well, what should I do? It’s not exactly like barging into a friend’s room this time. I could waltz in without a care in the world to show how little I care of their opinion. Or, I could hide somewhere nearby if I don’t want whoever’s in there to see me. There’s also just waiting politely at the door, like a chump. Of course, I could just keep listening to see what the other person says and risk looking a fool when the door opens.
>>
No. 970935 ID: dce46f

Keep listening in, its clear they already don't think very highly of you, what's one more time looking like a fool going to really mean anyways?
>>
No. 970937 ID: 0fae41

>they can't track me if I escape
Dude, you've got talking nanites in your body, your blood could be 90% trackers for all you know.
Keep listening, and they'll be the fool when they realize you heard all that.
>>
No. 970938 ID: b1b4f3

>>970934
So they think your sister is better than you? No wonder they agreed to the tournament. They expect you to at least lose when you fight your sister. Let's show them just how much genetics really matters. Speaking of which, what's your sister like? How is she similar to you, different from you?

I say listen in, then open/knock on the door at a significant moment in the conversation.
>>
No. 970959 ID: 15ca3f

I recognized the book mom was holding...
A tale called Slissa Quest...
But that would mean...
Oh my...

Diagram left a huge unencrypted archive of xeno-porn plugged into her console whilst she was training a sentient AI. Rookie mistake. Didn't think that was her. Huh.
You should tease her about it later!
>>
No. 970966 ID: d63ea8

Listen in, but be careful if it sounds like the voices are getting louder and keep a lookout on your surroundings, you don't want to get caught eavesdropping.
>>
No. 970970 ID: cfc80f

Oh hell, we've got a Liquid Snake situation here. Well, keep listening in for now, just be ready to act like you'd just gotten to the door if it opens up on you.
>>
No. 970971 ID: 45acae

Swallow your pride for a minute, remember when she said knowledge is power?
>>
No. 970972 ID: 4286b4

>Argine was born a little different
So who's the father?
>>
No. 970974 ID: d186fc

>>970934
So, I have a theory, but before I go too far with it, could you describe what your sister looks like? In detail please. Focusing on the head, limbs, and tail(if present).
>>
No. 970983 ID: e19a40

>>970937
Penji was able to collect the nanomachines in her body and spit them.
Assuming Argine is one of the best hybrids and she is vulnerable to something Tozols aren't that indicate the purpose of hybridization isn't to improve their design on the individual level.

What make you guys better than cloned Tozols? Are you less resource expensive to produce? Was hybridization the only way to bypass some form of genetically programed loyalty to their original makers? Are you a vehicle to introduce alien genes in a otherwise incompatible population?
>>
No. 971172 ID: e24163
File 159358428092.png - (248.81KB , 1000x1000 , pl_015.png )
971172

>Sister
She’s the worst. One could say that we’re similar, but they’d be too busy overlooking how great I am in comparison to her. Just because she’s bigger than me and actually listens to orders. The Sector Bosses love her. I hate being around her. You can easily tell we’re from the same gene set, as she’s got all the same traits as me… just bigger. And probably still wearing her prize from the previous tournament, like an ass.
>Tozol
Never heard of ‘em. You getting the name mixed up with Sarasols? I guess you’ve got some knowledge of this place, even if it’s a little corrupted.
I continue to listen in on the conversation. Thank Nanoweaver that I ended up with four ears.

“But you know what she’s like! A problem! Doing a tournament setup is tantamount to just letting her go free!”
Someone’s afraid, it seems.
“Rare for you to doubt your own capability, Ozone. I’d thought that you of all people would be sure that you’d be able to defeat someone you have such a low opinion on?”
There’s a brief pause, and a sigh.
“It’s not that. I’m sure that under normal circumstances, any of us could beat that brat, but this is different. Things have changed – we’ve only had one tournament since that day, and those two performed far, far better than they should have.”
Nanoweaver speaks something in reply – but it’s faint. I can’t make anything out-
There’s a crash. A fist slamming against a tabletop?
“You’ll regret enabling her soon, Nanoweaver. Just watch as she destroys everything that we care about.”
I hear footsteps approach and I step back, pretending like I’ve just arrived.

Out steps someone familiar – Commander Ozone, Sector Boss of the Armoured Cavalry Division of the facility. Compared to Judicium, she doesn’t bother concealing any contempt for me, and vice versa.
“Hear something interesting, Trash?”
Of course, the fact that she’s shorter than I am makes it much harder to take her seriously.
“I just arrived, Commander. Don’t you have some duties to attend to? I’m sure that someone of your stature has plenty to look over. Or under.”
She spits, close to my boots.
“Tch. I don’t have more time to waste on you.”
She turns and leaves, letting me enter Nanoweaver’s office freely.
>>
No. 971173 ID: e24163
File 159358435952.png - (263.09KB , 1000x1000 , pl_016.png )
971173

I’m surrounded by the smell of antiseptic as I enter the medic’s office. It might as well be my home away from home, with how many times I ended up here in my younger months.
Nanoweaver’s where she usually is – preparing bandages next to the sink, the sound of running water a background ambience to her calm voice.
“Oh! Argine, good to see you! You’re looking well – I was afraid you had gotten yourself injured again.”
Her voice is… soothing to me. She was the person who created me, and I feel I owe her a lot for that.
“Yeah… good to see you too, Doc-“
I stop.
Someone’s lying on the medical bed.
“Hello, Argine,” she says with that flutey voice of hers. “Are you prolonging your own demise too?”
“What’re you doing here, Nickel?”
Nickel. Sector Boss of the Covert Ops Division. She got her name from shooting through a coin on the other side of the firing range. An utter wildcard, and a little too pre-occupied with the concept of death.
She waves a bandaged arm around without so much as a wince.
“Hurt myself sparring.”
That is not what I’d call a sparring injury. But given her fighting partner of choice, it’s not unexpected.
Her presence does create a problem, though. Nickel’s a bit of a mystery. She’s a firm believer to her own cause, but that ‘cause’ doesn’t necessarily align with the rest of the sector bosses.
I could just discuss the plan with Nanoweaver despite her presence, but I’m not sure what Nickel would do, given that she’s a weirdo. At very least, she wouldn’t really sell us out – if Ozone knows about the tournament, everyone would. And given the state she’s in – while our regeneration works fast, it’s not instant. If she broke an arm, she’ll be in here a while. I could just go and come back later, as I have a rough idea of what needs to be done before things start officially. But I’d be doing one of the objectives without Nanoweaver’s advice, or warnings.
>>
No. 971174 ID: 0fae41

Hug Nickel into submission until you extract a promise to uphold your doctor-patient confidentiality. She's a patient, so obviously this rule extends to her as well.
>>
No. 971175 ID: b1b4f3

>>971172
She expects obedience but doesn't behave like she has any discipline of her own. Hypocrite.

>>971173
Tell Nanoweaver you'd like to discuss the tournament, and the SAI. If that conversation needs privacy she can decide that for herself, and she's more well informed than you I expect.
>>
No. 971180 ID: e24163

A Discussion Thread is now available for theories and discussion. Please make use of it as you will!

>>/questdis/133296
>>
No. 971184 ID: 2aa5f0

does nickel have multiple bodies or just one? Asking because she heavily resembles a species that is known to have 1 mind but dozens and and some cases hundreds of bodies. Would be useful for a spec ops solder to be able to be in more than one space at a time. Especially since if she has taken any more traits from the species she resembles anything one of her bodies sees or hears all of them see and hear in real time. Then again everyone here seems to be a mutt of some kind so who knows what has and hasn't stuck.

But yeah just ask Nano that diagram said she had some things to tell you and let her take the lead from there. If it's something she wished to discuss in private I have enough faith in her that she'll make sure the discussion happens somewhere private.
>>
No. 971188 ID: e19a40

>>971184
A combination of multiple bodies and high regenerative capabilities could mean she is nearly immortal. Strange for someone obsess with her own death.

What is her angle? Does she wish her own demise or just use her end as a reference point for all events in her life? This couldn't be a case of prophesy and accepting her destiny, could it?
She is a cutie though...

For now focus on your mother and the information that is basic public knowledge at this point: the tournament.
From what we heard she is one of the people you got to thanks for the opportunity. Let's just assume she have a plan but should discuss it with Nickel around. Ask if she want you to do something as a gesture of your appreciation. She could ask an inconsequential favor or something that will contribute to her plans without giving them away.
>>
No. 971208 ID: 45acae

>She’s a firm believer to her own cause, but that ‘cause’ doesn’t necessarily align with the rest of the sector bosses.
...Could we get even the barest of specifics for what that means? Same with 'fighting partner of choice'. Look Argine, you're our eyes and ears out here, if there's context that's needed you need to supply it.
And why does 'nan have her hands down her dress?
Whatever, ask Nan if you can discuss the tourney with her.
>>
No. 971218 ID: 6e6f32

Is that a fucking Scut???
Or like... a Scut Hybrid?

Where's the rest of her?
Argine. Tell her the voices in your head wanna know where the rest of her is!
>>
No. 971221 ID: b1b4f3

I suspect that Nickel is *not* a hivemind with hundreds of bodies and acidic blood.
>>
No. 971286 ID: 4286b4

Tell Ozone that you came here to bang, so you need privacy.
>>
No. 971310 ID: 677fc6

>>971173
Nickel seems kinda cool, but she is ultimately one of your opponents right, you're fight all the sector bosses in this tournament?
If you can talk privately with Nanoweaver to gague her opinion on the situation and maybe of Nickel too, you can always chat with her afterwards.
Seems she's chilling here for a while at least.
>>
No. 971346 ID: b58f66
File 159377411367.png - (319.37KB , 1000x1000 , pl_017.png )
971346

>hug Nickel
You trying to get me killed? She’s absurdly fast with a knife. She’d jam a concealed blade between my eyes in a moment.
>Multiple bodies
What are you going on about? I guess some soldiers specialise in drones and machinery, but Nickel’s not really that kind of person. The idea of machines being as strong as we are is a little laughable though.
>Cause, Partner
Hey, I’m not the queen of gossip around here. It’s hard explaining what goes through her tiny head – she’s basically a zealot of some kind, fighting for some kind of ideal that she doesn’t really elaborate on to anyone except her partner. Same thing with her weird fascination with death – I mean, it’s not like anyone’s actually died recently. I’ve been shot multiple times and I got by just fine with some medical attention and bed-rest. Nanoweaver told me that wasn’t the case a long time ago, but never really elaborated on why. Maybe Nickel just finds the concept interesting.
Her partner’s a freak. Astrolysis, the only person in the facility who’d bring her fists to a gunfight. There’s a common joke that Nickel took all of her eyes. The two of them ended up as partners because Nickel won in a knife duel against her.
But I’m sure she’s having fun terrorizing people smaller than her right now.
>Scut
I actually have no clue what species Nickel inherited her traits from at all. She and Astrolysis are from the same batch, so they’re both massive weirdoes.
When they’re not behind a scope, Nickel’s tri-eyes really stare daggers into you. I don’t like making eye contact with her for long, so I shuffle over to Nanoweaver.

“Nanoweaver, Diagram told me that you had some info to tell me. About the tournament…? And the other thing, the SAI. Was there any errands you need me to run for that?”
In the corner of my eyes, Nickel perks up at the mention of the SAI. Nanoweaver quickly flicks her gaze towards her, then back towards me. Probably not the best to discuss anything sensitive when there’s competition in the area.
She places a box of bandages next to the sink, passing me a folded piece of paper fished up from her uniform’s front pouch. The backside of the paper seems to be covered in writing.
“Actually, I do have some errands for you. I’ve marked them here on the map, but feel free to come back once you have some of what I need. Do be careful, Argine.”
“I’m not a child. You don’t need to remind me.”
Nanoweaver chuckled, a sound that’s muffled by her mask.
“Alright, alright. We’ll reminisce once you’re back.”
She shoos me out, and I’m left to my own devices. I unfurl the paper – revealing a map.
>>
No. 971347 ID: b58f66
File 159377423602.png - (110.73KB , 1000x1000 , pl_018.png )
971347

Crafty. Nanoweaver already prepared a list of information in such a short amount of time?
It’s a map of the facility, with instructions pertaining to the locations of specific items. Though, it’s an outdated copy – only showing where the sectors are roughly situated. The actual floorplans aren’t distributed around often, for confidentiality reasons.
Lemme see here…
“Argine, the SAI’s nature as splinters of recorded individuals means that they will be able to break through encryption locks together, through imitation of Sector Boss identity checks.”
They had to specifically bar me from the sectors I’m not allowed in, after all. But if you guys have the ability to spoof encryptions, then...
“You won’t be able to get to the Weave Nexus with the SAI alone, however. The other Sector Bosses installed alarms throughout Exotic Materials Research that’ll cause the SAI to give you an electrical shock, rendering you unconscious. They’ve also barred the other pathways that led to the Nexus, in a simulation of external attack. It was one of the caveats I had to support for the SAI idea to go through, I’m afraid.“
There goes the easy way out.
“Judicium believes that the SAI is preventing you from entering other sectors. This is only partially true – it only prevents you from leaving through Exotic Materials, Of course, she will be livid once she discovers this. She expects you to be taking on the Sector Bosses with little more but standard-issue gear. Show her otherwise.”
Heh. Nice.
Looks like it’s planning time. My options really open up now that I’ve got you on my side, but if I’m to win, I’m going to need to get my gear back. Nanoweaver’s already provided the locations of the main objectives on the map itself.
1. Get my handguns back.
I can’t expect to fight the sector bosses without my custom gear, right? But Judicium had confiscated my guns in a previous escape attempt. Lousy tripwires… why do we even have that many nets?
They’re currently locked up in the firing grounds – kind of an ironic place to hide them, but they should be somewhere near Judicium’s office, close to where she shoved you guys into me. I can break into the area with your help and get my girls back.

2. Get a set of basic Devices.
Devices are my specialty, but I don’t get my hands on the more exotic ones unless I’m in a training drill. They keep those under lock and key, but a basic set of gadgets can go a long way… especially considering my capabilities. More on that once I actually get the basic tri-set though – A Beam Unit, a set of Explosive Discs and a Barrier Generator. This should be located in a section of Security and Armoury – I doubt it’s a good idea to try and scavenge for more, because the Sector Bosses may interpret it as me starting the tournament earlier than expected. But if I’m careful, I can retrieve the basic ones they’ve got lying around.

3. Acquire Gene Trace Vial
…I don’t know why she wants this one. They’re supposed to be useless now, outside of memorabilia. After all, when the facility made me, they obviously peaked. They just can’t do any better! But I guess paying the Genetics Division a visit can be nostalgic. I was born there after all.

I’ll add a couple of my own objectives that can be completed on the side. If I’m planning to leave here for real, then there are some things I should get sorted before then as well.
Bonus Objectives:
1. Steal Judicium’s Scarf
As a final gun-up-the-ass for my unfortunate teacher, I’d like to steal the scarf she has on as a little memento of this awful place. Though, she’d definitely be pissed. If I go through with this, she’ll definitely change her approach once I actually fight her. Up to you guys if you want to go through that or not – I could always just steal it later after I asset my superiority over her.
2. Find a .50 calibre round as an offering for the Hall of Heroes
This is more of a personal thing, but I want to make an offering to a soldier I’ve always admired before I leave. If we find a decent enough bullet lying around, I can leave it as an offering, for a little blessing. Though, I’ll probably only go to the Hall of Heroes once everything else is completed.
>>
No. 971350 ID: 2aa5f0

hmm, just how much freedom do you have to wander around? Because I'm thinking just do the main 3 objectives in order of least likely to get you in trouble to most likely.

Also besides the weave nexus is their anywhere you're not aloud to go are do you more or less have free rain as long as you don't try to escape?
>>
No. 971353 ID: 45acae

>Steal Judicium’s Scarf
Forget that, you're choking her out with the stupid thing while she wears it on the field of battle in full view of everyone.
...do you (or her) have some kind of genetic defense against strangulation? Is that a thing that can happen?

Get your gats last, I imagine they'll have a .50 cal round on the firing range, and you don't want to be breaking into places with pockets full of UXO. I'm really, really curious what's going on in genetics, and I doubt you'll need to steal anything there, so let's take a peek there first.
>>
No. 971362 ID: e7c7d3

Head to the firing range. Get your guns. perhaps the bullet as well.
>>
No. 971367 ID: 7d9195

Nanoweaver lied to you. You'll see about what when this is over~

Anyway, do the objectives in the order of 2, 1, 3.
>>
No. 971400 ID: 0fae41

>a decent enough bullet
9 millimeter is all you need!
Get ye gun.
>>
No. 971405 ID: b1b4f3

>>971347
Go for the vial first. Nobody will care, right? Start low profile. Then you can get your guns, and then the devices for last since those will raise the most red flags.
>>
No. 971447 ID: b58f66
File 159386886182.png - (258.54KB , 1000x1000 , pl_019.png )
971447

I’ll go to the Genetics Division first, to retrieve the vial. It’s probably a good plan to get all of the low-profile objectives done first, because if they find out I have my guns again, they’re probably going to try and seize them from me by force.
Getting to the Genetics Division is pretty simple, given how close it is to the Hospital. But I’ll be taking the route through the main hall and not through the Firing Range.
I don’t think the Sector Bosses would appreciate me waltzing into their places whenever I want, and I do not want to be caught without a full set of gear. This coat of mine may stop a couple of bullets on occasion, but it doesn’t mean anything if I can’t fight back properly.
Seeing the door to the genetics division is a little strange. I only pass by on occasion, and I have little reason to go inside usually. But the door is locked. Which is very strange – nobody should be in there, but there’s no reason to lock it either, for the people who want to reminisce.
Help a soldier out? You’re probably gonna have to use the credentials of one of the Sector Bosses to unlock it, but it would only work if it’s the same one as the person who locked it.
>>
No. 971450 ID: 7d9195

*hacking noises*
>>
No. 971453 ID: 6e6f32

Well you could always try the door on the other side of genetics, facing the old sectors, or we could brute force it, but that might trigger an alarm.

Barring either of those:
<Self-Query: List Credentials>

Lets go through the bosses one by one. Who they are, what they do, their relationship with you, and anything pertinent you might want to add. We'll figure out who locked it together!
>>
No. 971491 ID: 2aa5f0

well outside of ozone and nickel and I guess scarf lady who's name I never caught who are the other bosses... and which one of them would even bother coming down here.
>>
No. 971558 ID: ae9bd9

>>971450
*slightly overlay sight with matrix characters raining down*
>>
No. 971569 ID: b58f66
File 159403036210.png - (200.47KB , 1000x1000 , pl_020.png )
971569

Alright, let’s see how that encryption bypassing ability of yours works, SAI…
I place my hand against the electronic lock – feeling a little spark jump from my fingertips. I guess physical contact with things is still necessary, given that you’re all holed up in my head.

>Nanoweaver
Nope. I guess it wouldn’t make sense if she locked it, given that she wanted me to get something for her.
>Ozone
No good on this one either.
>Judicium
Damn! None of them are working!
>Nickel or Astrolysis
None of those inputs worked. So it wasn’t any of the people you’ve met before…
Before I’m able to have you guys try another, something rattles from behind the door.
“I was not expecting any visitors,” a voice calls out from the other side.
It doesn’t sound familiar.
“I need to get something from inside. Is that alright with you?”
A pause.
“No rest for the wicked. You may come in.”
There’s a click, and the light turns green.

I step inside, closing the door behind me. The whole place smells like dust, and little else. Few people are sentimental enough to bother showing up to this place. Now, it’s no more than row after row of empty chambers.
The dust stirs as I walk past, dancing under the lights.
It’s not as nostalgic as I would have liked, seeing this place in disuse. It’s like I’m surrounded by all of the possible soldiers that could have been born, just like me.
I was the last. They said that I should be happy, because I could live any life I wanted.
Like that ever happened. Even before the Nexus was finished, it wasn’t like I could say I wanted to leave. There wasn’t anything else someone like me could do, and I enjoyed it; the training. But they always looked down on me, and I never understood why.
The person who locked the door is standing at the other end of the room, though it’s hard to make her out in this light.
>>
No. 971570 ID: b58f66
File 159403041807.png - (164.46KB , 1000x1000 , pl_021.png )
971570

I get closer.
Mnemosyne. The first Sector Boss to ever be elected, known as the ‘Greatest Soldier’ in the facility. She doesn’t talk much, which was why I didn’t recognise her voice. She was here from the start.
Even as I approach, her head is still pointed towards the cradle. I remember admiring her when I was a cadet – and now, she’s an opponent.

“How long has it been?”
I frown. “How long since what?”
She doesn’t respond, instead staring into the stains trailing down the side of the glass.
“Your birth.”
They had said she was one of the most inspiring soldiers when you saw her in action. But this? This feels… wrong.
“Three years, sir.”
My sister was born at the same time – both of us, the final batch. Why did she receive all of the acclaim, all of the strength? There was something I didn’t have, but something that people didn’t explain to me. Whenever I asked, they looked away from me, said that I wouldn’t get it.
Mnemosyne doesn’t move from her spot, as I watch her breathe in and out.
“I see. Three years since the last Generation…”
She trails off.
Is… is she just going to continue standing there? I could ask her if she’s seen any of the vials around, but I could really just go and keep looking myself. I don’t have to get myself involved when she’s going to be one of my opponents. But, part of me is curious. I could ask her something while she’s still around.
>>
No. 971573 ID: 4286b4

Ask her for tips fighting the sector boss you think will be the hardest.
>>
No. 971574 ID: 2aa5f0

oh, she's got proper tozol tails. Assuming they work like they do on a tozol purebred they would allow her to sense everything around like a kind of sonar... making sneaking around her a real bitch and a half. Not really relevant to the here and know but if you're going to have to face her later it might be useful to know. Not sure on the exact range but I think they should be enough to cover any room smaller then a hanger bay though I have no idea how her hybrid status would effect it at all. I mean for all I know her tails are completely useless and purely cosmetic or do to some weird DNA strains mixing together it could be even more powerful.

But yeah... I guess ask if she wouldn't mind tell use why she here... or at least locked the doors. I mean to my knowledge this place isn't really off limits. Though if she doesn't want to answer shrug and grab your stuff. No need to put mission "get your shit back" in danger just because you upset a sector boss and have them do something to make things tougher then they need to be.
>>
No. 971581 ID: 6e6f32

Soldiers are made to fight, Argine. Not here. Not in some arena.
On the outside. In the real world. Against real people. Most of whom probably aren't born and bred to fight and to kill like you all are. And it's not all just fighting either. You meet people. You do things. You go places. You have experiences. You share experiences. Some good. Some very, very bad.

But you have to have been there. You have to have been part of it.
Nothing anyone can say to you can replace the experience. Even if people told you their stories they'd be incredibly difficult for you to understand, and utterly impossible to truly appreciate. So they don't bother.

If you aren't destined to be a soldier in this place, than surely everyone around you sees you as no more than an errant child.
It is easy to see the source of your frustration. Just please understand that you're actions, while justified, have probably been hurting those around you in subtle ways.

This old dog here seems contemplative. If you linger, don't talk much. Keep the questions simple. They might have a lot to say, if you give them the chance.

A simple "Why are you here?" seems appropriate.
>>
No. 971586 ID: b1b4f3

>>971570
Ask her why people treat you like a failure. She might finally give a straight answer, in the contemplative mood she's in right now.
>>
No. 971590 ID: 44b1b5

Ask why they've been failing you over and over again. Is it just a refusal to follow a standard procedure that's holding you back?

Ask why the others look down on you, even though you kick plenty of ass despite not being the "Better" sister.

But most importantly: Ask why it has to be this way; why you cannot merely leave, even though that war never came.
>>
No. 971667 ID: 677406

>>971570
Odd question, Is 3 years an unusual gap in generations? Short? long?

Either way, might be an idea to keep questions to a minimum, 1 or 2, mnemosyne seems to be having a moment and ruining it can only be counterproductive.
>>
No. 971677 ID: 45acae

Ask if she's filled with nostalgia or regret.
>>
No. 971735 ID: b58f66
File 159420918339.png - (223.73KB , 1000x1000 , pl_022.png )
971735

>Tail sonar
Somehow, I don’t feel like Sarasols have that kind of ability. I thought their tails were more like whiskers – it lets them sense things, sure. But sonar? That’s the kind of thing I wish I had.
>You have to have been part of it
Well, that’s the thing. None of the people in this facility have ever fought in a war. Not even Mnemosyne. It wouldn’t explain why my sister gets all of the preferential treatment, either. Why put me through the training at all if I wasn’t meant to be a soldier, a fighter?
I look around the Cradles, to try and find where the vials are stored. This place makes my skin crawl. Before, it was a place of warmth, birth. I can still remember floating around in my own Cradle, until I was thrust out into the cold air. Now that all of the fluid’s been drained, all that’s left are cold, hollow machines.
“Why are you here… sir? This area usually isn’t off-limits.”
She turns to face me. I stop, feeling her eyes drill into me.
“I was reminiscing, privately. I had not expected someone else would need to come in.
I’ll take my leave – there are preparations to make.”
“Was that your Cradle?”
She palms the glass.
“Yes. Which was yours?”
I pause.
“The one you’re in front of.”
It isn’t uncommon for people to be born from the same Cradle as a predecessor. I wonder if Nanoweaver picked Mnemosyne’s on a whim? The irony of it makes my lips curl.
My sister came from the one next to mine – the last two Trace Clones that will ever be made.
I maintain my distance – it wouldn’t be right, getting close to her like this.
“Can I ask you something? Why have I been held back, over and over? I’m just as capable as many other people in this place. ”
Mnemosyne tenses up – her fist clenching, and unclenching. She exhales, speaking in her usual deadened tone.
“Confirmation. This will be the final test. You have a lot of potential, Argine. Make sure that you turn it towards the right places.”
Finally, she departs, leaving me in this lonesome place. There’s a faint mark on the glass, where she had placed her hand.
I’m not quite sure what to make of that, but I turn my attention to the Cradle in front of me.
>>
No. 971737 ID: b58f66
File 159420929555.png - (68.07KB , 1000x1000 , pl_023.png )
971737

>Generation gap
It’s a bit on the long side – I haven’t heard too much on the topic, but Nanoweaver says that me and my sister were the only soldiers made in the last three years. In the past, they would make soldiers constantly, but as supplies dwindled… well, they simply stopped.
I was born because of Nanoweaver. She had the idea of using the remainder of the Gene traces they had to make me and my sister, as a send-off to the whole cloning program that this facility started. There was a lot of pushback from the other Sector Bosses for some reason – after all, there was no war to fight. Everyone of importance had left when the Nexus first started operations.
I squat down, next to the Cradle.
Alright… here we go. I pry loose one of the panels at the base, revealing the inner workings of the machine. There are two vials this time – for both of the trace types. The Gene Trace and the ‘Skill Trace’, the one that grants us clones with knowledge of things like strategy and weapons handling.
I’ll pop the Gene Trace vial out easily, but that leaves the question of what needs to be done next.
I don’t think going back to Nanoweaver’s this early is going to yield much, so I should probably accomplish the other two objectives first. Which one next – my guns, or the gadgets?
>>
No. 971740 ID: 4286b4

Your devices. Make it seem like you're gonna do some training or something equally plausible.
>>
No. 971741 ID: 44b1b5

You still have a standard pistol, right? An upgrade would be an excellent addition, but the sheer number of options added by the gadgets would be a force-multiplier. Prioritize those before going for the added fire-power.
>>
No. 971759 ID: e51896

The gadgets
>>
No. 971762 ID: 36784c

>>971735
>There’s a faint mark on the glass, where she had placed her hand.
That’s odd. You should take a look at that, it could be important.

>>971737
>2 vials
>took Gene Trace vial
I know you only needed that one, but could you also bring the Skill Trace vial with you? Is there a possibility that having it with you might help later? If not, then we can leave it behind.

>Now what?
Let’s go for the gadgets.
>>
No. 971780 ID: b1b4f3

>>971735
>she tenses up
Hmm, still something they're not telling you. She seemed to have no hostility towards you until you mentioned being held back... which makes me think that there's something about your birth that people are angry at you about. Misplaced anger. Not something you did, but something they were hoping you would be but you weren't. Maybe they were trying to resurrect someone? Using a Skill Trace to copy more than just rote knowledge?
Wait, were they angry at you from the very beginning, or did that form gradually as you grew older and underwent training?

Go for guns next.
>>
No. 971803 ID: 2aa5f0

>Somehow, I don’t feel like Sarasols have that kind of ability. I thought their tails were more like whiskers – it lets them sense things, sure. But sonar? That’s the kind of thing I wish I had.
Yeah, tozols are kinda broken. can see in multiple light spectrums, can process things near instant, can run over 200mph and keep it up for hours, have enough strength to flip a tank, tail sonar, being almost completely undetectable by all forms of mechanic sensors and even most psychic ones as well. yeah...

>Which one next – my guns, or the gadgets?
gadgets
>>
No. 971857 ID: ae9bd9

>>971762
Seconding all of this. Also, try placing your hand how they had theirs over the mark.
>>
No. 971899 ID: b58f66
File 159443482460.png - (264.74KB , 1000x1000 , pl_024.png )
971899

Alright, gadgets next then. While I don’t actually have any weapons on my person besides my cunning intellect, if I can get my hands on gadgets… well, I’ll elaborate once I get my hands on them.
I glance at the remaining Skill Trace vial in the machine, but I leave it there. I mean, if I really needed one of those, I could come back – this facility isn’t too hard to traverse, especially if you’re running around. Mnemosyne’s handprint remains – though, it isn’t like anyone’s going to be wiping the Cradles any more.
With the vial stashed in my coat, I head off to the Armoury. The Armoury is split into four distinct sections – I’ll be heading to the fourth section, as the other three are inter-connected – and under Mnemosyne’s dominion. The fourth section is more of a lost-and-found for any schmuck who was stupid enough to leave her gear lying around after training – after which, she would get a severe reprimand from whoever was in charge at the time. I can say that I’m smart enough to never forget.

It’s dark. Real dark. When a facility isn’t in use, typically the lights go out in order to conserve energy, but usually, they don’t stay out when a person arrives.
An unnerving silence hangs over the area, with only my muffled footsteps accompanying me.
In theory, I could just wait until the tournament rules are in full play by tomorrow, but odds are, this isn’t a traditional format tournament, after all. For all I know, they could be planning on not even letting me get to the armoury once it gets under way tomorrow. So I have to do this.
I peer through the polarised glass of the armoury – what was the saying that some of the veterans used to say? “Like a kid looking through a candy-shop window”? There’s no kids around here, and I don’t know what a shop is, unless they mean workshop. Not sure what you would engineer out of chocolate, though – it’s really unpleasant after it melts and sticks into your fur.
>>
No. 971900 ID: b58f66
File 159443488249.png - (55.88KB , 1000x1000 , pl_025.png )
971900

There it is! All three of the basic gadgets – and the only ones that were left behind in this armoury section. The door’s open too – that just reeks of a trap… but when has that ever scared me away?
>You shouldn’t go through with this
Pssh. And leave when they’re right in front of me?
>Find alternate routes
Hah, what? Did you think that we’d install vents in the walls or something so someone can climb in here? The doors are only accessible to people with sufficient clearance anyway.
I’m going in there, this opportunity won’t last forever.
I cross over the threshold, stepping carefully over the line. So far, so good.
The bench of gadgets are just lying there, ripe for the taking.
Taking hold of the devices, I focus. It comes naturally – like I’ve been using it for my whole life. A faint glow surrounds the complex machinery, as I break them down into components – a mental blueprint being assembled in my mind’s eye.
A three-set of Explosive Discs, a Barrier Generator and A Beam Unit. Back where they belong – in my personal armoury.
Once I get these fully absorbed into my Parasignia, I’ll be-
>>
No. 971901 ID: b58f66
File 159443493537.png - (132.70KB , 1000x1000 , pl_026.png )
971901

There’s jolting crash behind me as the door slams shut, a thick slab of reinforced metal falling into place and secured behind it.
The speaker crackles to life.
“Looks like I’ve found a verminous little cheater trying to get her toys while she can.”
Ozone.
“Stay right where you are. I’ve got some poison to administer.”
That small, tiny, miniscule bitch!
Did she just camp out here, knowing I’d come get my gadgets? I expected a trap, but more like something along the lines of ‘being sleep-gassed and tied up’, which I could just blast through! If she’s here… I don’t have the time to deploy the gadgets, not when I’ve just put them into my Parasignia!
Across the room, there’s the sound of a door sliding open, a faint light leaking into the armoury. A short silhouette blocks it out, but Ozone is here – with her ‘poison’.
I’m not going to find out what that is.
I can hear her boots stomping across, as she loads something into a gun.
Damn it, I’m not a stealth operative! Don’t you guys have some kind of functionality for this!
Help me! Now!
[USER REQUEST DETECTED.]
Eh?
[CRISIS MANAGEMENT PROTOCOL (CMP) INITIATED. SCANNING ENVIRONMENT FOR HOSTILES AND HAZARDS.]
>>
No. 971902 ID: b58f66
File 159443497890.png - (63.12KB , 1000x1000 , pl_027.png )
971902

[SCAN COMPLETE.]
[GENERATING VISUALISATION OF DETECTED HAZARDS.]
Are… are you guys seeing this? I thought you were just strategic advisors – Diagram didn’t say anything about this!
We’re not out of the fire yet – I can see the display too if I focus – probably because you’re all connected to my head, as freaky as that is.
Although Ozone’s physical strength is only average, her reflexes are good. If one of the sensor-cameras detect me, she can shoot me in moments. So I need to avoid being detected at all costs – If I’m caught, I’ll definitely suffer the consequences!
Of course, there’s various things like spare magazines around that I could throw to break the sensors, they’re not exactly the most sturdy things given that the armoury isn’t meant to be one of the main fortified positions in the facility. Ozone would likely hear it if one of the sensors break and would come to investigate – which I could use to my advantage. But she’ll be moving around the place searching for me, even if I don’t break any.
So what’s the plan? Which exit should I go for, and how should I approach it?
>>
No. 971907 ID: b1b4f3

>>971902
Flexible plan: break both sensors pointing at the open exits first so she doesn't know which one you're gunning for. Then depending on Ozone's movements, sneak around her and get out through exit 2, since there's more cover near there. If she does something like camp the central area you can break the sensor pointing at the entrance to draw her away.
>>
No. 971908 ID: 2aa5f0

head east and move down to the two walls (black bars) just above the sensor looking at exit one. you should have a enough of a gap to toss something at the sensor without being seen and once you brake it through something else below exit one to make it seem like you're dashing towards exit two. then head west staying between the 2 Northern walls. Once Ozone is (hopefully) in the south east part of the room head down to the west most side of the southern most horizontal wall and brake the sensor looking at exit two. then If Ozone moves to investigate and run towards exit 2 to stop up stay to the opposite side of the southern horizontal wall and book it out exit 1.

So in short, brake sensor towards exit one, feint towards exit 2 to trick Ozone, then book it out of exit 1 while she's distracted.
>>
No. 971909 ID: ae9bd9

>>971902
>just advisors
We are. This is something else. Either we are not the only thing in here, or more likely, we were added to something bigger.

--

How do the sensors detect you? Can we (you) trigger a false positive somehow?

Out of all the mag-fed firearms she could be using right now, what is the maximum number of bullets she could fire before reloading (assume one is in the chamber on top of a full mag)? Could you dodge a bullet? Is there anything here that could stop a bullet well enough to be used as makeshift armor?
>>
No. 971912 ID: e51896

Hmmmmm... so where does each exit leads exactly? We might need to know so that we can figure out whether we would want to consider taking one exit over the other.

...

>>971901
Oh, and stop looking so nervous and sweaty. Didnt you say you were one of the best? Prove it to me then by keeping your cool during these kinds of situations.
>>
No. 971916 ID: f133dc

Hmm, she doesn't seem to be able to see very well. It looks like she can only see right in front of her and if so, you should be able to handle this without too much difficulty, thanks to knowing where the sensors are.

Only the exits are covered, so you need to trash an exit camera, then reposition without getting caught, and trash another exit camera. Then you need to make a dash for the first entrance you cleared.

Wish we could do that thing where we unlock doors because she probably wouldn't consider you were about to smash your way out the sealed door, but in this case you should figure out where she is before you make that last leg dash out the door, because if she's smart she's going to realize this ploy. She probably won't be able to tell we have some kind of radar view of the situation, which is a big advantage.
>>
No. 971946 ID: e78a3b

>That small, tiny, miniscule bitch
I thought Ozone was the same height as you, unlike Nickel.

>trying to get her toys while she can
I'm confused. If she already knows it's you, then what's the point of "avoid being detected at all costs"?

>throw to break the sensors
Why not just walk next to it and disable it quietly? Also, can't we hack the sensors the same was as we could hack the doors?

Anyway, stay where you are until Ozone moves to your location. Use the top two horizontal walls to bypass her when she does so. Then take the Exit 2 (disable the sensor there first).
>>
No. 972018 ID: 45acae

Alright, her detection radius is circular, so it doesn't look like sneaking up on her is an option. This does not satisfy my bloodlust, but fine. We will squish the bug later.

Alright, try to smash the detector covering Exit 1, then traverse the blind spot of the one covering the entrance and into the blindspot of exit 2. I want to see if we can get up to more hacky-cracky goodness. If not, smash it and go the opposite direction ozone does when she comes to investigate to leave for exit 1. Does she have a penchant for booby traps?
>>
No. 972033 ID: b58f66
File 159454482507.png - (114.23KB , 1000x1000 , pl_028.png )
972033

>Keep your cool
Alright... yeah, I'm better than this... She won't upstage me. Just a little caught off-guard.

>Firearms
I don't think Ozone's going to shoot me with live ammunition, but I don't plan on finding out what she has in store for me.

I head to the right, sneaking towards the sensor facing Exit 1. There's a small gap there, so I should be able to dodge through and break it, when it swivels away. They're basically cameras on a stand.
Ozone continues to taunt me as I do this.
"Come on out, soldier... let's not make things too hard on both of us, alright? You're the one who's taking something that isn't yours."
Like that's true at all. She was the one who confiscated my equipment in the first place! If I don't get caught, then it's as good as mine. The rules have gotten a little... free-form, as the facility's population count emigrated.

I breathe in, picking up a discarded magazine from the floor - and fling it towards the sensor.

There's a distinct crack as the magazine collides with the sensor - then the sound of it tumbling to the ground.

I hide back behind the locker, as I hear Ozone running over. She might know it's me, but if she never catches me, then I can't be held accountable!
>>
No. 972034 ID: b58f66
File 159454487492.png - (40.30KB , 1000x1000 , pl_029.png )
972034

So far, so good.

Both of the exits would lead to me escaping the Armoury, so I only need to get to one successfully without Ozone noticing. The Exit 1 camera is out of commission now, but Ozone's moved closer, and she'd most likely see and shoot me if I go for it now.

Hacking the sensors would be nice if I was in arms reach of them, but I'd have to run at them, which would most likely lead to me being detected.

I can't break the Sensor at Exit 2 yet because it's on the other side of the gear locker - I may have a good throwing arm, but I can't hit something through a wall like that!

Where to next?
>>
No. 972037 ID: 2aa5f0

throw something south to make it look like you're making a run for exit two and hide north behind the wall you're at now so she won't see you as she runs past.
>>
No. 972039 ID: 62e4df

Try to knock out the sensor guarding the sealed exit. She probably won't fall for it, but it's worth a shot.
>>
No. 972047 ID: b1b4f3

>>972034
Just wait. She'll probably head towards exit 1 to cover it more effectively, at which point you can circle around behind her to get to exit 2. Break the sensor there then dash out before she can get a bead on you.
>>
No. 972053 ID: ae9bd9

>>972034
Hold on here. Since she has a ranged weapon, couldn't she just camp out where she is to effectively cover both of our exit paths? I mean, she (probably) isn't stupid. She won't throw out a good vantage point just because a sensor was smashed. Especially when said vantage point covers the broken sensor's view.
>>
No. 972130 ID: f133dc

So little bit risky, but with her positioning definitely a good idea. Quietly get closed to the sealed exit camera. See if we can hack it, then get close to the sealed exit and we'll try to hack that using her credentials.

She's most likely expecting what was suggested with busting the other camera, this should be a completely silent method of getting out in an unexpected manner, since you have capabilities she shouldn't know about.

But I stress, make sure to keep an eye on the radar situation because this will bring you a few small steps from her. A few little walls between you two.
>>
No. 972149 ID: 094652

Try throwing your voice through the narrow passage between server farms.
>>
No. 972201 ID: b58f66
File 159471293596.png - (216.81KB , 1000x1000 , pl_030.png )
972201

I'll say that I'm not a fan of waiting, but I don't have any other choice.

I hold my breath, hiding in between the two weapon lockers above the first exit, hearing Ozone pacing back and forth.
Even though I know she wouldn't go so far as kill me, Ozone has always been known as one of the harshest disciplinarians in this damn place. She wouldn't be happy with just breaking my bones - she'd do something to cripple me for the fights ahead. I don't know why she hates me this much - as far as I know, she's hated me since I first met her in Basic Tactics class.

"You can't keep hiding forever, missy. Come on out..."

I shuffle along the edges of the lockers, treading lightly. If Ozone gets tired of waiting and looks down the space between the two lockers, I wouldn't even have a chance to dodge.
>>
No. 972202 ID: b58f66
File 159471296994.png - (39.35KB , 1000x1000 , pl_031.png )
972202

I wait, hoping she'd move closer - to no avail. She's standing there, gun in hand - covering both the first exit, while remaining close enough to sense me if I try to run past.

Rrgh! This is why I hate covert ops! It's even worse because I don't have any weapons on hand - not that shooting her is an option.
I can't fight back, I'm out of range for a grapple, and I don't have the element of surprise. And she has the reflexes to shoot me if I try to jump her.


Hacking the camera pointed towards the entrance is a good idea - it didn't even come to mind at first. But the door slammed down when Ozone sprung the trap on me. If we were to hack the door open again, it would give me an advantage, but the sound of the locks would most likely alert her to my position as well.

We could try hacking the entrance door open, or a different idea. What's your suggestion?
>>
No. 972203 ID: b1b4f3

Are you sure she'd see you if you went along the wall at exit 1? Our HUD shows there's space there for you to sneak past. If you can do that, we can just hack the sensor at door 2 and leave completely unnoticed.

Alternatively, can we hack at a distance? Could get the entrance unlocked to distract her so you can head to either exit.
>>
No. 972204 ID: e78a3b

Heh, I like this test that Ozone prepared for you.

Anyway, all we need to do is make her move north or south of where she currently is for us to be able to safely use Exit 1. I suppose we should move east and a bit north, throw something else to disable the north sensor, and take the Exit 1 when she goes to check out the north sensor.
>>
No. 972205 ID: 864e49

>>972202
What if we jack the camera on a stick, oh sorry, "sensor" at the entrance and then hack the entrance door to open after some amount of time?
Maybe we can use it or the sensor as a distraction while we slip out exit 1.
>>
No. 972214 ID: 2aa5f0

your gear, what's it do and how does it work?

Because if those explosive disk can be triggered remotely and have a large enough explosive radius you could set one down where you're at now, hack the sensor looking at the locked door to make it go off after you move away from the bomb you planted and when ozone comes to investigate set off the IED mine to stun her and escape. Make it that she's the one that gets messed up before the tournament instead of you.
>>
No. 972220 ID: a9af05

>>972202
Go back to the right, go up and throw something at the sensor watching the sealed door you came through.

You'll have plenty of time to react to her either going to the sensor or moving to block exit 1.
>>
No. 972301 ID: ae9bd9

Be patient. Don't make the first move.
>>
No. 972334 ID: b58f66
File 159481621094.png - (154.40KB , 1000x1000 , pl_032.png )
972334

>Camera on a stick
Oh believe me, that's what I thought too when I first saw those things used in Covert Ops practice. But they can sense heat, which is why they're still used even when all the lights are out. Knowing Ozone though, she probably rigged them up with a tranquilizer dart-gun to really draw things out.

Definitely don't think hacking at range is an option though, because last time I had to make physical contact with the door panel to get you guys to even attempt to hack it. If I were to hack the front door open, I'd have to be in physical contact so you guys can do the job.

>Equipment
Believe me, if I could use Explosive Discs right now, I would. But there's no way I'll be able to focus enough to manifest the blueprint when I've assimilated them so recently! I'll give you the rundown eventually, but that's after the risk of getting shot has passed.

I reposition myself to the north-east, aiming for the camera facing the sealed exit. If this goes through, Ozone may end up going towards it, leaving me free to go through exit 1.
The magazine sails through the air... and bounces off of the weapon locker, clattering to the ground below.
Damn! The sensor's still intact.

Memories of failed discus throws come back to mind. The spare magazines aren't weighted the same as the training discs! Don't blame me! I'm far better when i'm throwing actual damn weapons and not these piece of-

Okay, okay. Deep breaths - no time for worrying about the past, I can't stay in this spot.
>>
No. 972335 ID: b58f66
File 159481623331.png - (40.51KB , 1000x1000 , pl_033.png )
972335

I dodge upwards, going back to the bench where I picked up the spare gadgets from.
Ozone walks closer in the meantime, blocking off the first exit. She's probably patrolling the middle corridor, knowing that I have to go through it eventually.

I could try making a mad dash for the second exit, but that's still watched by the second camera, and even if I ran past the camera, there's a good chance that she'll hear me sprinting towards it and close the gap easily. She's a good shot - even in the dark, so I can't count on her just missing.

At very least, the sensor is within hand's reach. I could hack it, but what's the point? Hacking would likely force me to stay still while you guys take it over, which would be pretty bad if Ozone decides to round the corner. The odds are, even if I kept going round and round in circles, eventually Ozone's going to change directions and catch us off-guard.

Still... a route to the second exit is available. I'm almost out of here... I just gotta play it right and there won't be a scratch on me!
>>
No. 972359 ID: 2aa5f0

can we hack a sensor and have it on a delay to have it go off after a set amount of time? If so you could reposition yourself to either be in a good spot to run towards either of the other to exits so when Ozone goes to check out the sensor you'd be clear to escape. I mean you can still walk past the sensor here since it looks like they can't see you if you right in front of them and they can only pick you up if you're further away.
>>
No. 972363 ID: e78a3b

Ozone sure is going easy on you. I wonder what her agenda is.

Move towards Exit 2 and break the south sensor. Of course, this will draw Ozone there. The question is, which path she takes.
If she takes the north path, simply use Exit 2 since it's close enough.
If she takes the south path, then go back north and use Exit 1.
>>
No. 972369 ID: 6e6f32

>>972335
Fuck Hacking it. Break it, take it. If they are indeed trapped with tranq darts, than perhaps you can extract that bitch and have a weapon.
>>
No. 972402 ID: b1b4f3

>>972335
You can see her as she patrols. Just sneak past as she's going right, get us inside the sensor at door 2 so we can silently disable it, and walk out.

Nothing complicated, only thing that could go wrong is she just randomly decides to go check door 2 while we're there.
>>
No. 972639 ID: dea6dc
File 159507878515.png - (42.10KB , 1000x1000 , pl_034point5.png )
972639

Something definitely feels off about her approach. Normally she'd be right in my face, especially when she has a tactical advantage. But it isn't my job to question it - it's a bloody game to her.

I sneak past the camera, heading south.
Waiting for Ozone to move, I time it so that I can cross the middle hallway, reaching the bottom camera. She goes upwards instead - perfect.

Moving past the open hallway, I find...
Exit 2's wide open. Ozone didn't lock it behind her when she entered?

The sensor's still there, but the door's wide open. An opportunity. It won't be long until Ozone realizes that I'm nearly out.
>>
No. 972640 ID: dea6dc
File 159507881591.png - (213.77KB , 1000x1000 , pl_034.png )
972640

I reach for the sensor, feeling the lightning at my fingertips again.
Last time, we didn't get to successfully hack the door, since Mnemosyne had unlocked it of her own accord. But this time...

[AUTHENTICATION: OZONE]
The sensor clicks, shutting down. Sweet.
I pop open the lid of the sensor, finding a pair of tranquilizer darts. Good thinking - I don't usually have a reason to loot these, but I'll take any weapons I can get my hands on, even if they're as basic as these.
And not a sound to be made.
The camera is disabled, and I'm free of this trap.
>>
No. 972641 ID: dea6dc
File 159507884877.png - (348.59KB , 1000x1000 , pl_035.png )
972641

Moving out into the sector proper, I take the opportunity to run away as fast as possible.

I can still feel my heart pounding - the act of being hunted, even if you know you won't die, is a terrifying one. When we were doing covert ops in training, they used rubber rounds. I could only imagine how much worse it is for the supposed 'normal people' who aren't as strong as us.
The colour of the walls change as I escape the armoury, towards neutral ground, towards a place where I can rest. I hate, hate HATE covert ops! Even though I didn't get shot, leave it to Ozone to put me through my least favourite activity! Was she just screwing with me because she found it amusing? Ugh. I've got better things to think about now.
>>
No. 972642 ID: dea6dc
File 159507888728.png - (803.40KB , 1000x1000 , pl_036.png )
972642

Finally, I stop in a quiet corner of the facility, collecting my thoughts.
The realization hadn't sunk in before - but I had beaten Ozone at her own stupid little game!

I steady my breathing, bringing myself to that oh-so-familiar sensation of focus.

Before me, the newly-absorbed gadgets are laid out before me - disassembled into a mental blueprint.

Alright, so this has been a long time coming - if you're going to be advising me, you're going to know my capabilities. I have the feeling that if Ozone set up this little 'test' for me, there's going to be someone waiting for me at the Training Grounds too.
While I'll go over all of my equipment after I get my guns, the way I use my gadgets (or devices) are different to the other soldiers in this place, thanks to my Parasignia!

It's called Ignition Complex, effectively a portable armoury in a space only I can access. By acquiring and deconstructing gadgets and weapons, I'm able to form a mental blueprint of how it works, and reconstruct it at will. It's real convenient, because I can effectively carry far more weaponry on me than anyone else, without feeling any of the bulk.

But, that's not all! I can 'displace' the properties of one gadget onto another, thus transferring its properties. So if I displaced the Explosive Disc's inherent property of 'detonation', I am able to give the Beam Unit lasers that explode on contact with surfaces! I can give one gadget up to two separate effects!
Though, I can't really control what properties I get out of specific gadgets, this has it's own advantages. For one, the 'host' gadget I displace effects into will retain its firing mechanism. So you can usually assume grenades will explode, or for the barrier generator to project a protective barrier.

Don't ask me for the science behind it - none of us really understand how Parasignias work outside of the mechanics behind 'em, which they figured out through a lot of rigorous testing. But they were one of the facility's more recent research projects - they pretty much set all the egg-heads to work on it, apparently.
Nanoweaver's one of them - and the whole Exotic Materials Sector was created out of the old lobby in order to sustain it.
>>
No. 972644 ID: dea6dc
File 159507894525.png - (700.40KB , 1000x1000 , pl_037.png )
972644

The downside to my awesome powers though, is that I have to specifically decide which of my gadgets and weapons are at the 'forefront' of my mind in order to retrieve them easily. If I'm able to enter a meditative state such as this, I'm able to change my loadout, but in the heat of combat it won't be possible. So I have to prepare my combinations beforehand. Think of it like putting the blueprints I want into a trolley that I can reach in and out of easily, with the rest stuck in filing cabinets.

Before I head into the Training Grounds to get my guns back, we have to decide on a module set for me to use!
Being able to focus enough to swap these out in combat ain't easy. I'd only be able to do so if there was enough breathing room without someone shooting at me directly, but I'll let you know when such an opportunity arises.

Here's the breakdown of the current gadgets I have:

-Beam Unit-
Standard issue Beam Unit, shoulder-mounted. True to it's name, fires a high-energy laser upon activation, leading to significant damage. It's a cool-down based gadget, so after usage, I have to wait a bit for it to recharge. Otherwise, a simple reliable weapon that almost everyone has experience with.

-Explosive Disc-
Explosive discs - they're actually similar to shaped plastic explosives with properties that make them easier to throw. I can apply these to thin surfaces like breaching charges, but the caveat is that even if I throw them like grenades, I have to manually detonate them with a remote. They're actually an annoying demonstration of one of my Parasignia's limits - for certain, 'disposable' tools like grenades, I only have a limited quantity of them to use until I have to rest. With my other weapons, they're simply pulled out of the Complex whenever I need to use them, being reassembled within moments. With disposable gadgets and ammunition, I have to wait for them to rejuvenate during downtime. Something about getting sufficient rest? Either way, despite them being quite useful, I only have three on me, so use them carefully. Or just displace their explosive properties onto another gadget to have an infinite supply, through a different delivery.

-Barrier Generator-
It blocks bullets - what more could you want? It's sort of like a staff that you can toss onto the ground to create a protective dome around yourself - with the downside that bullets aren't going to go out either. But you can also deploy it diagonally as portable cover, or even hold onto it to use as a riot shield! It lasts for a short while before recharging, if you're sustaining it at full power.

We've got a few options, and if there's any effects that you would like clarified, I could probably tell you what the results of a specific combo would be. What approach do you suggest?
>>
No. 972645 ID: 2aa5f0

So are their any dud combos we need to watch out for? Because mixing explosive disk and barrier generator sounds like it could be a bad idea if all it would do is cause the area around you to explode with you along with it or would it just make it so you'd have quick shield grenades that would let you throw up a quick shield to protect yourself, give you some instant cover, or possibly even trap you opponents... wait does it just stop ONLY bullets or everything and everything from passing through it?
>>
No. 972651 ID: 278f7f

>>972644
Oh, interesting!
So it's not a simple combining of two items to make a third item, the Displaced > Host interaction means there's more possible combos...

If ammo counts, would it be worth absorbing one of the tranq darts to have that in the pool of delivery methods as Host (probably 'Injection' if I were to guess) or just the tranquilizer effect.

What does Beam Displaced onto Barrier result in? (If it's something like a damaging force field that might be worth having slotted in, in case you need to completely wall off a doorway or something)
>>
No. 972661 ID: 44b1b5

Yeah, I wonder if tranq darts are sufficiently complex enough to be absorbed. I think applying the beam effect to the charges makes them directional, like a claymore mine? Also, can we only apply each device to one primary or secondary slot?
>>
No. 972662 ID: 9f00f4

Can your beam unit be set to non-lethal, low-power 'dazzle' mode, to cause temporary blindness and disorientation, thereby enabling more continuous use and otherwise reducing the recharge/cooling off time?
>>
No. 972663 ID: 6e6f32

Barrier*(Lasers + Explosion)

POWER BLAST!
>>
No. 972676 ID: b1b4f3

>>972644
When displacing, will the source gadget lose its property? Like, if you displace the explosive aspect from the discs, will they not explode anymore?
I'm thinking you could displace explosion from disc into the laser, then displace barrier into the disc, to produce discs that create a barrier when you trigger them.

I'm also interested in what happens if you don't displace explosion away from disc(if that matters), but put barrier into them. Does that result in a barrier and an explosion *inside the barrier*, or will the explosion happen outside the barrier? If the barrier is small enough, could this produce a shaped charge effect?

What on earth would happen if you put barrier into the laser?
In general I'm wondering what laser+barrier would do on any object. Feels like the structures are incompatible.
>>
No. 972683 ID: 45acae

Hmmm... How does this power interact with the gene trace vial?
>>
No. 972686 ID: e78a3b

Beam + Beam + Beam
Barrier + Barrier + Barrier
Explosive + Barrier + Explosive

Are we gonna play Magicka?
>>
No. 972721 ID: dea6dc
File 159514736706.png - (134.36KB , 1000x1000 , pl_038.png )
972721

Since this is the first time I've really had to explain my abilities to someone else, I guess there's bound to be a couple of things to keep in mind.

An effect can only be applied to one place.
Since I'm displacing the effect of a gadget onto another, I'm effectively slotting that gadget into another gadget. I can't double up on things, as much as I want to. So if you want to use the Beam Unit's firing method, you won't be able to displace it onto anywhere else. Not to worry though, as displacing gadget properties won't permanently break the associated gadget - if I want to revert it, it'll simply return to its default state, pre-modification.

I can only hold one copy of a non-consumable gadget.
Think of it like weapon redundancy. It gets harder to keep track of things if I say, crammed three Beam Units into the Complex. If the items are in a set, like the Explosive Discs, then I'm able to keep them in one box, but if I try to use gadgets that are more or less functionally the same - it's like I end up trying to retrieve all three copies at the same time which gets pretty inconvenient.

Some combos are unusable.
Naturally, due to the highly modular nature of my Parasignia, there are bound to be some combinations that don't work out. If I can't visualise something happening feasibly, the displaced gadget is rejected by the host gadget.
None of the combinations you've come up with so far are invalid though, actually. Part of why I wanted to specifically get my hands on the basic gear is because of their versatility in that regard.

There are special combinations that exist with different functionality.
I can't say how many of them are out there, but I've found that some combos of gadgets are strong enough that their properties mix differently to my usual displacements. If you do find a special combo, I'll let you know - but keep in mind that they may in fact, not be better than a more standard combination.

I can only deconstruct certain items for combat.
When I absorb an item for my Parasignia, it's not actually destroyed in the process. (Which is how people can force me remove them.) Similarly, for consumable gadgets such as the Explosive Discs or ammunition, I'm really just reconstructing the same gadgets over and over. That's why they rejuvenate.

The Gene Trace Vial isn't really a weapon of any kind, so I'd have difficulty breaking it down for storage. Similarly, while the Tranquilizer darts are a weapon of sorts, I don't have a corresponding gun to actually pair them with. But I'll keep them on hand.

For the sake of clarity, I'll probably be assuming that the first gadget you people suggest is the Host gadget in which the other gadgets are being displaced into.

Generally, the properties of gadgets make themselves clear after a couple of tests, but as I acquire new ones, I can intuit the effects of specific combos after I deconstruct them.

Barrier is 'Reflective', it dampens the impact of incoming projectiles or reflects them.
Explosive Discs are as described - Explosive. It makes things volatile.
Beam Unit is 'Focusing', when applied to other gadgets it tends to 'focus' the effects towards a specific designated direction, such as turning shrapnel into a tight cone of destruction.

Barrier Generator (Primary) + Explosive Disc creates a 'reactive shield' that explodes when it. It's strong against close-ranged opponents, and destroys projectiles, but I've found that Explosive Discs are good regardless of where you put 'em. Generally, using the Barrier Generator as a recipient Gadget would end up giving it 'reactive' properties that activate when things hit the barrier. I think having Beam as a secondary in Barrier Generator makes it wider and long-lasting, since they're made from similar tech though.

Beam Unit (Primary) + Barrier would actually cause the laser to bounce off of certain smooth surfaces, potentially leading to me delivering a flanking shot.

Discs + Beam would make the blast highly directional, yeah. Quite useful for breaching tough armour, but it reduces it's effectiveness as a grenade.
Discs + Barrier would make them into weaker, multiple shields that I can deploy by throwing.

All in all, I don't think there are any combinations that are actively useless, and some of the weirder combinations may actually be special combos. A big part of why I need to go through each of the sectors in the Tournament is because even if they're not providing me with equipment, I'll be able to pick up gadgets outside the default set. More options means more potential combinations, meaning it's harder to stop me.

So, what'll it be? I could run all of my gadgets raw, do a bit of tinkering around... it only goes up from here!
>>
No. 972722 ID: b1b4f3

>>972721
Time to tinker!
Why do you have four slots listed for combinations, but only three devices? I'm guessing that means you can hold four configurations, and "displacing" a device's attribute doesn't hamper that device's functionality.

Okay, we have three devices which can hold up to two attributes. That's nine combinations, not too many to just test all of them right now. You've described all of the simple combinations so far, so what are the last three, that use all the attributes?
Beam+explosive = exploding lasers
Beam+barrier = bouncing lasers
Explosive+beam = focused explosive
Explosive+barrier = multi-barrier
Barrier+explosive = reactive shield
Barrier+beam = wide shield
Beam+explosive+barrier = ?
Explosive+beam+barrier = ?
Barrier+beam+explosive = ?

I like the bouncing laser. You should test out the barrier to see if a wider shield is actually better, since you can't shoot through it. Bouncing laser could let us shoot around it though!
Focused explosive makes a lot of sense imo, but leaving them unmodified is decent too.
Can you hold two configurations for the explosives, so that you have six of them to use before needing to recharge?
>>
No. 972723 ID: 094652

I think I remember this power. The older version involved a lot of semiconductors, and creative mishandling of a greatsword. Higher-levels allowed you to apply weapon effects as passive abilities for your defense systems, and you could block a lethal blow with a weapon but it would break.

From what I recall during loadout optimization, you need to keep a basic yet diverse array of weapons so you can juggle your tactics between cooldowns, and become your own cavalry with prepared traps and turrets.

Equip the beam unit and barrier generator as your main equipment, add the explosive disc as a barrier generator subroutine - erm, effect.
>>
No. 972728 ID: 2aa5f0

hmm, I'm thinking bouncing laser, focused explosion, wide shield, and standard grenades.

Bouncing laser because it sounds like the normal laser but you can pull trick shoots off with it making it more versatile while being just as strong, wouldn't see why you wouldn't take it.

Focused explosion because I'm sure you're going to be coming across some opponents that will either have armor or just be naturally tough so something that can just blow past that sounds like it could be a god send. As well as being able to just use it to discourage anyone from coming to close to you.

Wide shield because for the same reason as the bouncing laser. Just sounds like a straight upgrade being both wider to offer more protection as well as being stronger so it wouldn't fail as quickly

And Standard grenades just because nothing is more painful then needing to flush out an enemy and not having a good grenade by your side. Plus besides the bouncing laser it sounds like your only real option to nail opponents around corners and unlike the bouncing laser it isn't limited by surfaces.

That's my 2 cents on what you should take anyways but you're the solder with actually experience, these sound... well sound to you or would you suggest changing some things up?
>>
No. 972729 ID: dea6dc

In total, I can only hold up to four primary gadgets at a time, because past there, it becomes much more cumbersome for me to retrieve a specific gadget.

Remember that I don't have any duplicates of my gadgets, so if I use one as a passive, it won't be usable as a primary. It's a bit limiting, I know, but that's why I need to get my hands on more gadgets in future.

Using both of the other gadgets to supplement a primary would normally be a good idea, if it wasn't stripping me of all of my options.

The triple combinations don't really get much more exotic than doing the individual combinations, unless there's a particular synergy or mechanical set-up I can perceive. So Beam with both of the other gadgets results in a bouncing laser that explodes off of each surface, Discs with both gadgets results in temporary 'target dummies' that explode in the direction where they take shots from, and Barrier with both gadgets is effectively a shield that fires a concentrated blast back at opponents when struck.
Triple-input gadgets tend to be good if I already have a full four, but as it stands, I don't.

I'll give it some more thought, before I head off to the Training Grounds.


This will be the last clarification before the next proper update
>>
No. 972767 ID: b1b4f3

Hmm, alright...
Let's go with regular Beam and Barrier+explosive. Use the reactive barrier to discourage an offensive/close opponent, then take pot shots with the beam when they're being defensive/long range.
>>
No. 972771 ID: 2aa5f0

hmm

well wide shield and normal grenades then. give you some protection and something to hit your enemies with as well.
>>
No. 972927 ID: 4286b4

If you don't have any duplicates, then it's better to go without any combos for now.
>>
No. 972972 ID: ce39da

I say go with the -Reflecting Beam Unit- (Beam Unit < Barrier Generator) and -Explosive Disks-. We tend to prefer to shoot them before they can shoot us. As long as we aren't against the sniper first, the corner-turning laser should make for a nasty surprise and help us do just that.
>>
No. 972998 ID: dea6dc
File 159548762139.png - (157.16KB , 1000x1000 , pl_039.png )
972998

Alright - the loadout I've selected is the Beam Unit (No displacements) and Barrier Generator (Explosive Displacement).
If Judicium decides to fight me there, then I'd be prepared. She normally brings a quarter-staff with her, after all.

The doors of the Training Grounds loom in front of me. I can practically hear the sound of marching footsteps from whenever I had class, everyone filing through those doors and into the facility proper. This may be one of the last times I ever see this place, since I don't intend on coming back. They used to pack dozens of us together, line us up one after another in the firing range. Even when you were standing outside, the doors would shake under the combined gunfire. Sometimes they intentionally didn't provide us with sound dampeners - to train us to be effective, even when deafened. Our ear-drums get better pretty quickly.
>>
No. 972999 ID: dea6dc
File 159548764819.png - (359.36KB , 1000x1000 , pl_040.png )
972999

The doors aren't locked. It hasn't been too long since Judicium dragged me into a classroom to chew me out, but I guess she didn't bother to lock up if she left. There should be a bullet lying around with the proper caliber near the firing range as well, which I'll need later. The map wasn't particularly clear about where my guns were stashed, but I seriously doubt that Judicium would leave them lying around.
All I need to do is break into Judicium's office, find my guns and pocket them, then I'll be ready. All I have to do after that is deliver the vial to Nanoweaver, ask her if there's anything else I need to do, and then I can make preparations for the fights ahead tonight.
This'll be-
>>
No. 973000 ID: dea6dc
File 159548772274.png - (401.59KB , 1000x1000 , pl_041.png )
973000

A meaty hand clamps onto my shoulder from behind.
'Sup, wirehead," says a rough voice.
Ugh. Her.
She was bound to show up eventually, but how did she know I was here?
>>
No. 973001 ID: dea6dc
File 159548780747.png - (549.69KB , 1000x1000 , pl_042.png )
973001

I turn around to look her in the... face. Instead, I end up staring towards her stomach. She's twice as tall as I am, but like hell am I going to be intimidated by someone who can't aim a gun properly.
"What do you want, Astrolysis?"

Astrolysis. Sector 'Boss' of the Foundry. She literally overthrew the previous soldier in her position. Off of a raised balcony. Took that one weeks to recover. The closest connection she has to the sector is coercing someone into forging a custom weapon for her - outside of that, I think she only pursued the role because she thinks it makes her sound cooler.

"What do I normally want? I want a fight."
I sigh. My record against Astrolysis in hand-to-hand isn't amazing, three to fourteen. She has a positive match-up against nearly everyone else in the facility in close quarters combat - part of why she's so fond of Nickel. One of the few people to have an even match-up, though armed with a knife.

"Here's an idea, meatshield. Why don't you go knife-fight Nickel again and stop bothering me? I've got better things to do, like preparing for the damn tournament."

She chuckles, a low, growling sound in the back of her throat. I can't even tell if she's looking at me or not.
"Already did so, this morning. You saw my work."

Guess that explains Nickel's broken arm.
"But I don't want a knife-fight, wirehead. I want you to fight me with those fancy toys of yours while I try to rip your head off with my bare hands."

Talking to her is like talking to an animal who doesn't know anything besides fighting and eating. Technically, I could turn her down. Duels aren't obligatory, and Astrolysis picks fights all the time, to the point where the other Sector Bosses had to specifically bar her from forcing a fight onto others.

"We'll fight when it's your turn in the Tournament setup. Me against all of the Sector Bosses."
She crosses her arms, snorting.
"Oh? I thought you wanted to get your little peashooters back, didn't you?"
How did she know about-
Nickel!!!!!!

"So... what're you going to do, little girl?" She leers, her rows of blade-like teeth on full display.
>>
No. 973004 ID: b1b4f3

>>973001
Guess we better decide on a place and a time.
Good thing your current loadout is good versus a close range opponent huh?
>>
No. 973007 ID: d817ce

When I kick your ass, I'm gonna want alot more than those "peashooters", foundry head.
You're gonna get me the good shit!
>>
No. 973011 ID: 2aa5f0

well I have to say that it doesn't seem to fair at all. I mean even if I beat you if I take to much damage I'm at a disadvantage for the tournament and to be fair I'm sure I could find some other guns around if I looked hard enough so I'm not seeing to much incentive to actually fight you.

So why not up the anti a bit. You want to fight me early, fine. But should I when you give me access to the foundry as well as giving me my gear back. I mean if you're so sure of your victory then it should matter what I ask for should I win, it's not like it's going to happen ~right~?
>>
No. 973074 ID: 6931f1

>while I try to rip your head off with my bare hands.
Tell her that you prefer doing other things during foreplay.
>>
No. 973104 ID: 45acae

Never fear, you've got us. You're getting those guns.
>>
No. 973125 ID: ecd116

is it ok to ask her why she have no eyes ? at least that what it look like to us. or does the holes on her face somehow let her see the world differently, also what the name of her species/race?
>>
No. 973183 ID: 15a025

Those the terms then? We gotta beat you down to get our stuff back? Alright let's get this over with.
>>
No. 973215 ID: ce39da

"One minute to prepare?" We don't want to have anything valuable and breakable on our person for this. Stash the vial in a class desk or something.
>>
No. 973270 ID: 894f15
File 159581539746.png - (625.11KB , 1000x1000 , pl_043.png )
973270

>damage
She's a tough one. Even if I hand her a beating with my gadgets, I wouldn't be surprised if she got back up after a couple of hours. We're all strong like that.


"Seems a little unfair, you with nothing, not even your armour - and me, with the tools I'm most proficient in. Besides, what's in it for me? I don't have to fight you - this isn't under tourney rules, now is it?"

Astrolysis laughs.

"Asking for a little something-something? That's rich, coming from someone I could pound into paste. But no, this isn't official. Let's make this an... appetizer for the actual fight."

There's a jangle as she yanks something out of her pocket. A keycard catches the light, the plastic glittering under the lights. There's a small key hanging behind it.

"The keycard to her office, and the master key for any cabinets she has. Don't go acting like that isn't what you're after."
She doesn't know that I can just hack the door open, but having the master key would mean I can search through her things without obviously breaking into it.

"How did you even get those?"

"A little six-eyed girl heard some interesting news and came up with a nice idea for a..."
She leans in.
"Greeting present."
Astrolysis must really be craving a fight - She could have called Judicium back to her office to prevent me from getting my guns.
"You won't be getting your guns. Not unless you have these. The nag isn't around, prime opportunity to break into her office... find something that'll give you the upper hand? We both know you need all the help you can get. How nice of your mommy to give you a couple of imaginary friends to help you out! I'm a good sport, I'll give them to you even if you get smashed into the ground!"

I cross my arms.

"Let's take it to the Firing Range. Wouldn't want Judicium finding out that we broke something while we're seeing who's the superior fighter."
She nods, making her way over to the nearby door.

>stash the vial
Good idea. I place the vial on top of a crate nearby, where it won't get smashed during the fight.
>>
No. 973271 ID: 894f15
File 159581551444.png - (1.15MB , 1500x1000 , pl_044.png )
973271

The firing range was a fun way to show off at the end of training - a reward, for the good girls who got their training done properly, it seems. It was one of the things I looked forward to the most, though I often came by to hone my skills, as did many others. The larger-built soldiers preferred wrestling and grappling instead.
I watch as Astrolysis squeezes through the stalls, strutting into the firing range like she owned the place.
Pssh. She's the only person who'd feel out of place here, being unable to wield a gun.

>Why doesn't she have eyes?
The little holes on her snout allow her to sense heat, which combined with her innate sense of echolocation, generally allows her to 'see' things close by. It makes her terrible at any of the usual combat situations we were trained for, so she was a bit of a special case. I have no clue what species she is - she and Nickel's generation were the weirdest, they were spliced with animals instead of just the four main species that we're made of. I do see a bit of Sarasol and Linharjan in her, what with the head shape and the stinger tail.

I flex my fingers, taking a deep breath in. The scent of spent bullets and gunpowder lingers in the air.
This place isn't an arena, but we're not fighting, not 'officially'. The walls are resistant enough to the exotic firearms and gadgets on my person, so it's unlikely we'll damage anything significant.
The subtext is there, though - "Let's not break each other before the actual fight."
It'll be quick, dirty. Victor is the one who lands three clean hits, but some dirty tactics are allowed, since we won't be doing enough damage to cripple each other in future.
Neither of us are going to use our Parasignias offensively, but mine is utility-based, so it's a grey-area I exploit.

As we take our positions, I call out to her.
"Oi, Foundry boss. If I win this, you owe me a favour."
She cocks her head, that stupid perpetual grin of hers on full display.

"You're a lotta talk, making demands of me. Go on, wirehead. What would you ask of me, someone far stronger than you are?"

"If I win, you give me the keys as you promised - AND, you forge something for me. I want a weapon out of this, understand? And not something half-assed, either."
With you guys along, I don't need to ask for permission to get into her sector. But presumably, I'd be fighting all of the Sector Bosses on their home turf anyway. I'm the challenger, versus all of them.
Astrolysis flexes her fingers, settling into a solid stance.
"Sure. But what could you possibly give me besides this fight, wirehead? You're going to lose."
She taps the side of her skull.
"Ahaha! I know! If you lose, you'll have to play entirely by my rules when we fight properly in the tournament. If you decline, I'll have absolutely no sympathy for you. Don't worry your little head about it - I'll be fair, as much as I can be, anyway."
Knowing her, she wouldn't want to screw herself out of a good fight - so her rules would push me into giving her a fight that she'd enjoy to the fullest.

"Alright, let's do this."
I raise my fists...
>>
No. 973273 ID: 894f15
File 159581575437.png - (795.76KB , 1500x1000 , pl_045.png )
973273


[HOST ENGAGED IN ACTIVE COMBAT. BOOTING SPECIAL FUNCTIONALITY]
[SAI PROTOTYPE COMBAT PROTOCOLS INITIATED – ENGAGING TRI-A TACTICAL PROFILE]
[DISPLAYING STATISTICAL INTERFACE - INCREASING PROCESSOR SPEED]
[RELATIVE TIME DILATION: 100:1]
[RENDERING SAI-ASSISTANCE DIALOG – DISPLAYING]

Overview
The Tri-A Tactical profile is a SAI module designed by [REDACTED] for the intent of supplementing SAI tactical performance in combat situations.

The current host's total health value is represented as pips - totaling six. A pip will be subtracted when the host takes damage from external forces and typically can only be recovered once combat is over.
According to combat parameters - the current fight will conclude after three pips are lost, in accordance with standard duel procedure.
It is your duty to provide the host with sufficient instruction and advice during combat to supplement decisions. In doing so, you will be able to guide the host to victory.
There are three main steps that a standard combat encounter will cycle through.

Assess
Upon initiating combat, the Host will most likely seek safe shelter, where they will be able to make a quick plan for the encounter. This is known as the Assessment Mode.
Typically, this phase detects and emphasises the environment, with the Host also reminding the SAI of information that could be used to their advantage, such as the knowledge of weak-points discovered before the battle and environmental factors that may be out of the SAI’s vision.
This stage can happen multiple times over the course of an extended combat encounter, if the Host needs to alter their combat approach multiple times, typically occurring after an opponent alters the environment or their equipment. Depending on the conditions, the host may be able to change equipment as well. [FEATURE STILL IN DEVELOPMENT]


Assault
Assault Mode happens in the moment to moment after Assessment is completed – taking the form of both offensive and defensive actions. The Host will provide default options that players can either use without alteration, or build upon to provide additional strategies.
The Host is able to make use of Gadgets during this phase, in the form of Gambits – a non-standard action that may or may not succeed. Projected success rates of gambits are displayed in increments of 10% and are provided by the Host. However, as SAI Splinters, you are capable of adjusting and suggesting alterations to the Host’s plan, which will lead to an improvement in success rates. Failing a Gambit is not necessarily harmful unless the gadget utilized is highly unwieldy. Gambits can also be made through the exploitation of the host’s environment – such as using nearby objects as bludgeoning weapons. The unusual nature of such a manoeuvre would most likely catch opponents off-guard and improve odds of success, though it may not necessarily be a damaging action. Other landscape Gambits can be like throwing sand or dirt into the eyes of the opponent, blinding them temporarily.
The Host will typically be capable of dodging attacks without SAI input, but when they are caught off-guard or have to make a defence against a significantly powerful attack, a Defensive Gambit will have to be made in the process. Defensive Gambits are calculated similarly, and gadgets or landscape props may be used to the Host’s advantage in a similar fashion, improving odds of success.


Articulate
In one on one combat situations, a new mode is available - Articulation Mode.
Some opponents may attempt to throw the Host off-guard using their wit, or alternatively the Host can intentionally target psychological weak-points in order to secure an advantage on Gambit usage. Depending on the response, the opponent’s tactics may change, their approach may weaken, or the Host may receive a boost due to their perspective being justified.
Not all opponents are receptive to Articulation attacks, but unlike Gambits, they may be suggested to the Host regardless of the current mode, and may be implemented in strategies to improve odds of success.
However, it is recommended that SAI Articulation suggestions be parceled with other strategies, and to refrain from petty insults, as such suggestions may hamper the host's ability to focus and will not yield much results when delivered to the opponent.

Further clarifications on rules may be asked as needed, and rules may change.

[CONCLUSION OF SAI-ASSISTANCE DIALOG. BEGINNING ENCOUNTER - TIME DILATION: 1:1]


Alright, what's the strategy? I'll need a plan to deal with this brute, and determining how I should approach her will affect how I make use of my gadgets against her.
Astrolysis is a melee fighter, without any gadgets on her. She's someone who fights purely with her body - but that includes her stinger. I get hit by that thing, the paralytic inside would make it much harder for me to dodge.
While the Explosive Barrier is a perfect counter to one of her stronger attacks, it won't last long if I'm constantly hiding behind it. She won't fall for it more than once, not in a low-stakes situation like this. I need to land three good hits on her for her to call it a victory. I'll ask you for the timings, but gimme ideas here, folks.
>>
No. 973278 ID: 62e4df

Dodge a few attacks, put her in an offensive mindset, try to get some distance, and use the beam unit to get a cheap strike while she's busy closing the distance. It's cooldown-based, so using it early may allow you to use it a second time later.

Obviously save the shield trick for when you see a big attack coming. One hit with that and two with the beam unit (I'm being optimistic here, we can reassess if these gambits fail) should be enough to end the fight.
>>
No. 973286 ID: 45acae

You've got a stinger of your own- those darts that you stole. She only uses her body? Prick whatever she reaches out to you with and put her to sleep. She's absolutely got a strategy in mind for your laser, if it's the most common weapon you've got. My guess is she can sense the heat buildup before it fires and plans to make an attack during the lock time, or plans to dodge the laser and put serious pressure on you afterward while she thinks you're defenseless. You've got to think steps ahead of that.
>>
No. 973324 ID: d186fc

Hang on. She has no optical vision. Only Infrared and hearing. If we are loud enough, we can totally jam her ability to accurately use her echolocation to see. Since she would then only see thermal signatures, we could potentially lay some sort of trap that would be completely invisible to her as long as it is cold. Idk what sort of trap that would be though.

Also, assuming we are warm blooded, we could take off our jacket or shirt and use it as a one-off decoy since it will retain our body heat for a few moments.
>>
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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