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

Chapter 1:>>/questarch/985116
Chapter 2:>>/questarch/1007458

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

Things were different before. But now, I'm going to have fun caving her head in.
Expand all images
No. 1034711 ID: 73aaab
File 165486687646.png - (402.71KB , 1000x1000 , ch301altaltalt.png )

>The lone soldier marches grimly onward.
>Day after day, week after week, no answers were ever given. But now there's change. The SAI, Amica and the prototype, the corpse she was handed last night.
>Even though she had wanted it for so long - having grasped that difference herself, she found nothing but a bitter taste in her mouth.
No. 1034712 ID: 73aaab
File 165486689515.png - (181.63KB , 1000x1000 , Chapter3Map.png )

...It's time again, isn't it?
I was... a little worried that whatever happened last night knocked you out of my system for good. Would've had an excuse to sneak away if the Weave Nexus wasn't on full lockdown.
But if we're going to fight, I'd rather have some backup than nothing at all.

I know there's... probably a lot to think about, with what happened last night. But we have to focus on what's ahead of me first.

And so I've got to fight Astrolysis, the so-called Foundry Sector Boss. We didn't exactly get that much gear to use against her, but - this fight's going to be straightforward. I've gotten more skilled - more equipped than I when I had first fought Astrolysis in front of you Sykes.
We do have a primitive floorplan of the area that we can use. Given how it was just a blueprint for the shape of the sector, it probably won't give us much information on what the area actually contains besides the general shape.

...I know there's a lot we haven't accounted for. Her Parasignia, how she fights, what her weaknesses are... but we have to bite the bullet and go in, as prepared as we can be.

We didn't get any standard-issue equipment or sub-items that'll help us out here, so I don't have to list 'em.
Whatever Astrolysis' fighting style is, she's a melee combatant of some sort - she can't aim at all. As such, it's probably a good idea if we stay outside of the rooms where we have the advantage.

My current equipment:
Twin Revolvers - The Sound and The Fury
Shotgun - The Creirwy D-3
Sniper Rifle - Prototype H-ED DSTR
Auxiliary Melee - Silkweave Gauntlets

Deck of the Storyteller:
2 Solburst
3 Frozeneye
3 Breezecycle
2 Briarspirit
2 Voidsplit
4 Echoscribe

If I forget anything or get a number wrong, let me know. It's hard keeping track of everything on me, you know. Part of why I like having my Parasignia is not having to count my ammunition.
No. 1034714 ID: 73aaab
File 165486701957.png - (778.96KB , 1500x1000 , ch302.png )

And here's my gadgets - you know how the drill goes, yeah? Pick some main gadgets, cram the others in the main ones to give 'em extra properties. That's how we get the show on the road.

Oh, almost forgot to mention - I got a bundle of clothes this morning. Apparently you lot made them for me? That's... weirdly nice of you. But I guess Judicium had to actually put whatever crazy designs you've got into reality, huh.
Still, I appreciate it - I'll put it on while you guys figure things out.

Barrier Generator - Projected Forcefield.
Beam Unit - Long-ranged Beam Attack.
Explosive Discs (3) - Throwable plastic explosives.
Pitch Prefect - Wrist-mounted tar launcher.
Blink Capacitor - Short-ranged teleportation and intangibility.
Blade Printer - Aerodynamic disposable knife creation.

Alright, Sykes - let's figure out a loadout using all of this info.
Any recommendations?
No. 1034717 ID: e5709d

Here's the gist of what we learned on our intel review:
This hellhole is not a 'hero factory', it is a Psionics laboratory. They stopped caring about winning the war and obsessed over developing the perfect brainwasher. Good thing that didn't work out. I think.
The two main explanations for why you are all biologically born female are (A)females develop psionics better or something, or (B) someone sabotaged all the male test samples to slow this project to a crawl.
Testemillion became a Machiavellian sociopath due to the war. He got the other project leaders to put a memetic self-destruct in your minds, in case any of you went rouge. The trigger has to do with murdering innocents or betraying allies, or some other war crime.
One of the base's captains was a royal princess. You might want to find her.
Diagram may be a clone of her older sister - apparently, she had Banshee's Grasp. We don't know if she made it.

First off, I'm setting up a challenge for you; try to beat your next opponent without using more than three cards. The fact that you're permanently sacrificing magical artifacts to pass a test is something I am extremely uncomfortable with; even if this is the most important test of your life, the admins are going to look at your conspicuous spending and indirectly grade you by shredding their letters of recommendation. Nobody will trust you with shiny objects if you vore them like aspirin.
>Opponent is a dedicated melee specialist
Hm... that's too good to be true. She's a veteran. She's trained with Nickel. She'll have traps or a drone rig to compensate for ranged attackers. And since you don't have any melee supports beyond your own gauntlets, her best bet is to find ways to outsmart or bypass your defenses and just get in for a spine-breaker 'bear hug'.

My favorite part of our prep sessions; let's customize this Transistor!

General Teleportation For OMGWTFBBQ
* Blink Capacitor
** Barrier Generator
** Beam Unit
You need an exit strategy. If you get cornered in this fight, Astro will take a chunk of your health before you can disengage and can pursue like a killer from then on. You need a few GTFO charges to reset your position. Increase the BC's range so you can teleport across the entire sector and add a barrier so you can bypass any traps in your way.

Torgue's Butterblade Dispenser
* Blade Printer
** Explosive Discs
This is the kind of toaster you'd expect Mister Torgue Flexington to store his knives in. Why does he keep his knives in his toaster? "Why do you not have a grenade launcher?" You'll get less explosive damage from your blades, but you can spam them or make near-unlimited explosive traps. Which can detonate...

* Pitch Perfect
And be sure to spread some goopy cheer. She'll expect you to soup this gadget up with mods to pin her down. Don't fall for it.
No. 1034719 ID: e51896

Oh good. The glitches stopped.

Yeah, when you grabbed that gift from Amicia, our visual got glitched up a bit, making it a little hard to see. maybe we got damaged somehow.

but just to make sure, can you hear us alright? I W̴a̷n̸t̵ ̸t̶o̸ ̵m̷a̷k̴e̷ ̸sure our audio didn't get damaged either.
No. 1034811 ID: c1b6b2

The classic Pitch-Perfect/Explosive Discs burning tar projectiles could help a lot against her heat sense.

Same goes for Beam Unit/Barrier Generator for heat-emanating force fields.

Unless there is a better combination that could throw her off in that fashion.

Before the battle begins, allow us some words of encouragement:

Uhm... what's important is to participate!
No. 1034814 ID: 273c18

Here are the tags again:
Beam Unit - Focusing, Energizing, Pinpointing
Explosive Disc - Explosive, Volatile, Destructive
Barrier Generator - Reflective, Protective, Repelling
Pitch Prefect - Slowing, Sticky, Congealing
Blink Capacitor - Displacing, Replacing, Intangible
Blade Printer - Replicating, Cutting, Aerodynamic

I like this loadout, tbh. We need a strong teleport because we are going to have a lot of trouble keeping away from her, having defense-piercing explosives is a no-brainer, and spreading tar (burning or not) is a great strategy against a melee opponent.

We can ignite the tar with the exploding blades!
No. 1035014 ID: 73aaab
File 165525732724.png - (356.33KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryRoom.png )

>Oh good, the glitches stopped!
Yeah... that thing.
Something still feels different after that. Maybe it's just me. I haven't seen any glitches on my part, but I'll have to keep it in mind.

>Change can be imperceptible. Like cracking a geode - sometimes it is necessary to damage something to uncover the secrets within.

>Intel Review
Huh? Just what kind of things are you seeing while you're not around?
From the sound of it, I guess you're talking about the past Project Leaders. I don't know much about them and I guess the classes about them weren't especially interesting so I'm not sure I'm actually understanding everything you're talking about.
Given that there's only one woman in the Project Leads, you're talking about Leeza, right? Never heard anything about her being a princess sort - and I don't actually know what happened to her, considering she's left her stuff in the locker last we went looking. I'd have to ask Ozone about it, which isn't exactly something I want to do.
All of this... greater stuff, I'm going to have to consider it later. For now, I've got a Sector Boss to defeat. We'll review it when I've got time to look into it.

>Try beating Astrolysis without using more than three cards.
Are you kidding? What's the point of having these things if I don't actually use all of them? I get saving a few for the next fight, but resources are meant to be spent. I'll try, but if I lose because I didn't use enough of 'em, it's on you.

Alright, let's take a look here...

From the suggestions you've provided, I'll be taking this loadout:

Blink Capacitor, with Barrier Generator and Beam Unit integrated into it.
With some quick tests, the effects are clear - when I teleport in to an area, it ends up creating a short-lived barrier around me that means I won't be surprised by anything unpleasant. And the Beam Unit slotted in there means that the teleport's fairly quick to use - so I don't have to wait around all too much.
The Beam Unit's effect doesn't really improve the Blink Capacitor's range however, so we'll still be operating within a similar range as before.

The Blade Printer simply has the Explosive Discs in it so they become timed-detonation knives. No matter how good Astrolysis' defenses are, a point-blank explosion'll do a lot of damage to anything.
I didn't think it would've been this easy getting sticky bombs of a sort, but hey, this'll help teach that beast who's the real boss around here!

Finally, I take the Pitch Prefect (you guys do realize it's Prefect, not Perfect?) since the tar'll help slow Astrolysis down. It would actually be nice to mod it a bit more, but I just don't have the gadgets for this.

Still - with this loadout? I'm sure I've got a good chance behind me of succeeding. So it's go time.

Getting the new gear on - I think it feels pretty good. Easy to move in. Haven't really had a change of clothes in a long time so.... thanks. I don't think I've gotten a present like THIS before.

>Once, heat flowed forth from the doorways leading in and out of the foundry, the war machine fuelled through the production of weapons and equipment.
>Though it lays dormant, the only war machines left are the people who dwell in the facility itself.

Pwah. Feels like a layer of dust's starting to settle now that nobody's around any more. No need to make more weapons on a bigger scale - nowadays all of the new stuff being put together's what you can do yourself. We're lucky there's still enough parts lying around to do stuff with.

And there, in the middle of the Sector... there she is.
Astrolysis... she's all by herself.
She's got a wrapped thing at her side - is that a weapon?

She's all armored up. Guess she's as serious as me.
I warily approach, but she doesn't need to see me to feel me coming.
No. 1035015 ID: 73aaab
File 165525738537.png - (957.31KB , 1000x1000 , AstroKneeling.png )

And there she is.
That bundle by her side. Is that a sword, or a club? It's so big, I'm not sure which it is.
"Yo. Wirehead. So we're doing this, huh?"
It's strange seeing her so calm. Like a sleeping monster.
There's not much desire for smalltalk between us. I guess, in spite of everything, we're on a similar wavelength when it comes to beating the tar out of someone.
I stay a safe distance away, ready to get my guns out at any moment. But first, there's a lot of other stuff to sort through.

"Yeah. We are. You got the weapon for me, like you promised?"
I don't forget what I'm owed.

"Yeah. Right here, take it."
She reaches behind and kicks something over to me - it's long, but - it's not even in a case. It's a leather sheath of some kind.
No. 1035018 ID: 73aaab
File 165525751860.png - (765.58KB , 1000x1000 , swordpickup.png )

I go to pick it up and...
This is... a sword?!

I look up at her.
"I thought you were making me a gun?"

"Did I say that? All I remember's you begging for a weapon made by me. And so I made the thing I'm best at making."

I turn the thing over and back in my hands. It's certainly something - if anything, it is well-made.
Swords... can't say I find the appeal in them, given that guns are so much better in the kinds of engagements we're familiar with, but melee weapon training was included early on in our curriculums as cadets. I can use this thing as competently as anyone else.

"Alright, fine, I'll take it. How'd you make it anyway?"

"Had an idea or two in mind. Took some inspiration from a friend."
I wonder who it is?
"You make this yourself?"

"Yeah. Got a little bit of help, but making it's something I learned from the best."
The metal shines under the light. Interesting colour.
Hard to believe that she put this together mostly by herself though.
No. 1035019 ID: 73aaab
File 165525753176.png - (506.29KB , 1000x1000 , plugacquired.png )

Holding it up to the light - this thing's... it feels right holding it.
A few practice swings, and it's like the sword's already an extension of my arm.
"So... what's it called?"


"The Plug?"

"No, just Plug."

...Somehow I feel like she's telling me to go stick this in an electrical outlet.
"Go on, do your whole magic thing to the sword - I can wait a few more minutes."

I glare at her as I disassemble the sword - but the construction of the sword is fairly simple. Good quality, too. Maybe it's because of how simple its construction is, but I think I can manifest it faster than my other weapons.
Feh. I'm tempted to rename this thing, but that doesn't feel right to me - a name's like a mark you put on the weapons you create, right? I didn't make this, and it would be wrong for me to just rename it, even if it's got a weird one.

Not sure what's going to happen if I start using Guns Blazing to combine my other gear with it - it's been a long time since I've had a sword of this quality.
No. 1035020 ID: 73aaab
File 165525755810.png - (524.86KB , 1000x1000 , AstroChoice.png )

The sword's finally been integrated, so I take a step back.
My revolvers reappear in my hands, but Astrolysis stops me.

"Wait. Before anything else..."

"You've got to make a choice."
I leer.
"A choice? This isn't the cafeteria line, Astrolysis."

Her grin continues.
"Hey, I like my fights like my meals - on time, and prepared to my tastes."

Her armor jangles as she makes a quick flourish. Two options, huh?
"Here's the deal - we can fight each other the cowards' way."
She spits. "Using Parasignias, running and hiding as you try to plink away at me with those peashooters of yours from a distance. The way you probably thought you were going to fight me."

"Or. We can do this the way that these tournaments were MEANT to be fought. Two soldiers, two living weapons armed with nothing but blades and sticks, trying to maul each other."
She's proposing that I fight her in her area of specialty? Get real!

"Yeah? And what's in it for me? My Parasignia's specced for modification of gadgets and weaponry. Why the hell should I agree to your conditions when I'm going to be at a big disadvantage up close?"

She shrugs. "Feh. You can keep your little toy gadgets if you want. I just want to enjoy myself, not chase you in circles as you gradually wear yourself out."
Oh, like you're not going to be the one who's eating facefuls of bullets each time we run around.

"Point is - I want you to fight me with the weapon I just made for you. And if you're not going to agree..."
She leers, showing all her teeth in that signature smile of hers.
"...I'm not going to hold anything back. You'll regret it."

>The rebel stares the behemoth before her down, pondering the possibilities. A duel for the ages, an echo of a past neither know for themselves.
"Don't give me that look. You think I'd really sabotage the best opportunity I have at having a good fight? You can fight however you want, wirehead. But if you're listening to those little voices in your head, then you'd better hope that they give you a decision that you're going to be happy with. "

"What about the sword? Does it still count if I jam something else into it?"
She shrugs. Awfully casual about all this for someone who's setting the rules.
"Eh. You sure you can keep your guns jammed inside a perfectly good sword that long? Still a sword in my book, even if it's got pieces glued on to it."

So, the question is... whether or not I actually take her offer.
I can fight her with just my gadgets and that new sword, or I can actually go at her with my full kit.
Pssh. I mean, she has to be kidding, right? Why the hell would I fight her with just a sword?
No. 1035021 ID: e51896

do it for honor
No. 1035023 ID: e5709d

Strange, I could smell a fortune cookie or something while you were talking about the glitches clearing up...
No really, and I don't know what that was about.

>Blade or Bludgeon
Tanto Markings, rectangular guard, it's wearing a scarf... pretty sure that's a blade. Since it's a long-ass weapon and she covered it in cloth instead of a scabbard, I infer this is probably an Odachi - Lightweight Greatsword, if you can believe those exist.
Their low durability and lower optimization for high-quality materials makes them ineffective in heated fights... when the wielder doesn't have powers. She has powers. This is going to suck. Expect strong, faster-than-average long-range strikes. And according to the datalogs, swordplay schools use Odachi like fast-flying hammers, so expect downward strikes.
Or maybe she just chose this because she thinks you're going to charge like a rabid animal - apparently these were made to cut down tamed beasts.

Dang. Still, we have some blueprints for modernized swords. I told you about Trick Weapons, right?

I dub thee... The Linker Sword!
... It's a joke. You do NOT want to choose The Baiter.

I get the feeling that she's purposely trying to hold back just so beating you up will be sweeter.
But don't take the deal. You don't have secret melee training, and she's physically stronger than you. A straight fight is suicide.
We'll just have to push you to your strategic limits on this one.
No. 1035024 ID: a53150

>The rebel stares the behemoth before her down, pondering the possibilities. A duel for the ages, an echo of a past neither know for themselves.
I'm sorry, who are you again and why are you butting in to say this stuff?

Honor duels are meant to b fought in equal terms. Same weapons, same fighting style, and the one who is most skilled or talented wins.

But I leave it up to you, Argine, do you want to win abbiding to the rules of the duel or abbiding to its spirit?
No. 1035026 ID: 273c18

I think this deal is to your advantage. Considering Nickel's bullets got multiplied, I'd say Astrolysis can clone herself. Force multiplication AND defense multiplication-- you won't be able to win a fight against five of her. You just won't.

Ask her what happens if someone breaks the deal once it's taken. What's stopping her from changing her mind halfway through the fight?
No. 1035058 ID: 5bc683

Heh. She's actually playing into your personality a bit here. So play into hers.
"We could always spar later. Besides, how could I pass up a chance to fight you at full strength? Even better, how could I pass up a chance to beat you at full strength?"
No. 1035179 ID: 73aaab
File 165543284142.png - (539.40KB , 1000x1000 , ArginePush.png )

>Who are you again?
Uh... you sure you're thinking right, Syke?
>Consider me a spectator. I've been here all along, much like you have. The host cannot hear me - and we should hope that she cannot. For when she can - that's a sign of worse things to come.

I ain't hearing anyone else you're talking to. Whatever, moving on.

>Honor duels are meant to b fought in equal terms. Same weapons, same fighting style, and the one who is most skilled or talented wins.
If this was fist-fighting, I think I would be given a couple of handicaps, given how much larger Astrolysis is compared to me.

>You don't have secret melee training, and she's physically stronger than you. A straight fight is suicide.
>We'll just have to push you to your strategic limits on this one.

Actually, I DO have secret melee training. With Nickel, remember?

Break and Blood Circle - respectively, it lets me escape grapples with people larger than me, getting to a safer distance, and lets me take less hits because I'm better at dodging and weaving than I was before.
You're still right though - Astrolysis is at far more of an advantage when at these ranges. I can't take this choice, regardless of how 'honourable' it is.

>Ask her for more details.
"So what happens if one of us breaks the rules after we agree to it?"

"Can't talk for you, but I don't have any other gear I'm planning to use. If you break the rules, then I'll just go all out, like I said."

Feh. She's not exactly being very specific about it at all, is she?

>I think this deal is to your advantage.
I'm not so sure it is.

>Heh. She's actually playing into your personality a bit here. So play into hers.
Time to see how she'd respond to this -
"We could always spar later, if that's what you really want. But we don't get to go full force often - why should I pass you up on that? Better than that - what's better than me beating you at full power, with everything I've got?"

This gets her thinking for a bit - not that she has much going on in that cake-shaped head of hers.
"You really think you can do this, huh?"

She shakes her head, that stupid grin of hers plastered over her face.
"Your funeral. I gave you a choice."

I continue to stare at her, watching for her next move.
"We gonna do the pledge?"
The words are still etched into my mind.


No? First time I've ever heard that.
"Stop clinging onto the past, Argine. We ain't living there. I'm going to be destroying you now, not years ago!"

"Yeah? And how do you expect us to do things if we're not looking at what past heroes have done?"

"It's easy."
She takes a step forward and I raise my guns in response.

"We do things OUR OWN WAY!"
It's like a blur -
I'm knocked back, and there's a throbbing pain in my chest.
How can she move so fast?!
No. 1035180 ID: 73aaab
File 165543286202.png - (698.17KB , 1000x1000 , ArginePushed.png )

I grunt as I push myself off the ground.

"The hell happened to the idea of honor and ceremony?", I shout as she kneels back down like she didn't just shove me a meter away.

"You really think I'M the sort to care about that kind of thing? I'm here for a fight, not talking. You turned down the offer, after I made such a nice sword for you too!"

I'm trying to recover, but wherever she hit me - I feel pretty damn disoriented.

"So, what do you want, Argine? Are you really just fighting to be... some kind of hero? Didn't think you were serious."

I grit my teeth. Now she's asking?
"That's damn right. Me, when I'm getting the hell out of here, I'm going to be a hero. Someday, people are going to look up to me - respect me, because there'll be nobody who can stop me."

My revolver's gone - I can try to reform it, but - if needs be, I can go and re-manifest the sword - it's simple, so getting it back together should be faster than my revolvers.

She laughs, and a chill runs down my spine.
No. 1035184 ID: 73aaab
File CompressedAstroFinalIntro.mp4 - (17.53MB )

(Compressed Videofile attached)
Youtube Link & Full Resolution:
No. 1035185 ID: 73aaab
File 165543343401.png - (105.99KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryMap01.png )


>Assessment Phase initialized. Displaying environmental data.

>Relevant data to current opponent rendering...

>Parasignia Classification: ???
>Preferred Weapon archetype: Bladed (Longswords)

>Potential Weaknesses (Subject to change):
>- Blind - alternative sense of sights in use. Can be exploited.
>- Aggressive - can be baited into attacks.
>- Blade can be disarmed, lowering reach and firepower.

Ghh- what the hell!
Just as I was trying to get a breather.
Options, now!
No. 1035190 ID: 273c18

Blink into a room, use Pitch Prefect to goop up the entrance she's most likely to use. Either hit her with your sword as she's slowed, or use an explosive knife.
Actually, you should prefer to use any tools that boost your Parasignia's charge. You probably won't be able to win without that big burst of damage.

Hmm, you seem pretty decent at blocking with that sword, so maybe you could use its quickdraw advantage to do that with it? You need to get better at manifesting it into your hand... you had to pick it off the ground back there.
No. 1035193 ID: 8483cf

Bait her into attacking and try to tire her out. Buy time!
No. 1035202 ID: e5709d

Hold off on using Blink, or she'll figure out how to subvert it quickly - especially since she's a blind warrior. Save it for a moment when you can cash in on a major sneak attack.

Instead, ask if whoever blinded her stuck their sausages into her eye holes, or if she overcompensates for being a simp to princess jut-out-your-juggling-chainsaws.

Run like hell and squirt brown juice behind you.

This is intentionally offensive. If Astrolysis is reading Argine's thoughts with hypertelepathy, let's creep her out and get her to show a tell of disgust.
No. 1035580 ID: 462c22

I'm going for this strategy.
Bait her into a tar-smeared chokehold and shoot her full of holes.
No. 1035586 ID: 73aaab
File 165581577407.png - (597.64KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineRunning.png )

Even from blocking one swing, my arms feel sorer than they should. What kind of force is she putting behind her attacks?
I turn to run, but I can feel the burning edge of the blade bearing down on me.

>Blink into a room!

I can't blink through solid material!
But I can use it to get some distance!

With a quick swipe of the hand, I activate the Blink Capacitor, teleporting back and into a safe distance. But a quick glance behind me, and Astrolysis is ALREADY sprinting full force towards me, her sword at the ready.
If I were to fire the Pitch Prefect at her now, I'd have to slow down a bit, and that's even MORE liable to get me caught.

>Hold off on using Blink, or she'll figure out how to subvert it quickly.
Too late for that! If I didn't use it, she probably would've cut me in half!
I'm not sure how 'seeing' a blink would look like from her perspective, but I don't have the time to just play around and find out.

I keep running toward the nearest room, but Astrolysis' speed means that she's gaining on me.
Not much time before she's going to try and thrust that thing through my chest!
No. 1035587 ID: 73aaab
File 165581578949.png - (491.19KB , 1000x1000 , closedadoor.png )

I duck inside the room, slamming the 'lock' button.
The doors slam closed and I quickly survey my surroundings, taking a breather.

From the looks of it, this specific room seems to be full of boxes of building materials.

There's boxes of nails, some cans of paint and adhesive tape rolls. Maybe I could go and create a diversion using them? But I won't be able to beat Astrolysis just from running around all day.

>Actually, you should prefer to use any tools that boost your Parasignia's charge. You probably won't be able to win without that big burst of damage.
Good suggestion, but - she hasn't actually USED her Parasignia properly yet, not from the looks of it! I'm going to have to play keepaway as she tires herself out, or at least I figure out WHAT she can do!
So that means ideally, we'd try to -
No. 1035588 ID: 73aaab
File 165581580782.png - (592.87KB , 1000x1000 , closedadoorPENETRATE.png )

There's a sickening crack as her heated blade penetrates through the door.
A muffled shout from behind the thick metal greets me.
"Playing hide and seek, wirehead? I thought you weren't a coward, that you were going to push me over and keep walkin' forwards?"

And there's THAT again. Damn it, I feel like I need to respond to all of that - running her bloody mouth, dissing how I live my life!
She's trying to psyche me out like that - and I hate it.

I can hear her grunting from the other side - whatever the door's made of, it's going to buy me some time at very least.
No. 1035589 ID: 73aaab
File 165581584030.png - (90.59KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryMap02.png )

She's trying to pry the doors open - I've got only a few seconds to come up with something against her - but unless I can turn the flow of battle against her, I'm not going to win this fight.
Being indoors is NOT a good situation - normally, her sword would get caught on the shelves and furniture of the room, but with how that thing gouged a crack into the concrete floor? Yeah, I think that thing's going to go through objects like butter.

A few options come to me -

1. I can try to gum up her sword using the Pitch Prefect's tar while it's stuck in the door. This should buy me some time to reposition elsewhere and try to gain an advantage.

2. I could probably fashion a quick trap out of the materials in this room, but you're going to have to give me the best choice out of what we've got - with paint, nails and tape.

3. I could try to argue with her about what she said before the fight started - trying to buy some time for me to slip out the back as she's explaining what the hell she even means.

4. Maybe you've got an idea that I haven't thought of yet?

Whatever it is, we're going to have to move fast - that door doesn't look like it's going to last much longer!
No. 1035590 ID: e5709d

>I can't blink through solid material!
That would have been nice to remember five minutes ago!

Oh wait, problem solved. This idiot will poke enough holes to induce tryptophobia. Port through those.

>Damn it, I feel like I need to respond to all of that
Mouth shut, eyes open, improvise with what you've got.

For now, grab as much stuff as you can from this room and bug out. I have an idea, but we don't have the time.
No. 1035593 ID: e5709d

Oh right, and hide an explosive knife in the nails.
No. 1035666 ID: 798908

Is there a source of water or something nearby? I imagine that sword would quickly become a hindrance if steam became a factor. Even if she's blind, a significant enough amount of steam and mist should obscure most extra senses.

There should be big water pipes around, foundries use a lot of it.

Use that to slow them down, we may have to resort to a LOT of collateral damage here.
No. 1035673 ID: c5322d

If any of that paint is spray paint, it sure would make your explosive knives more explosive.
Otherwise, nails would make good improvised caltrops.

Though if you really want to go big, why not blow that sword of hers to pieces with your knives?

That's be worse for Argine you dope, she can't shoot what she can't see!
No. 1035675 ID: e35782

Quick clarification:
Tape explosive knives to her blade.
No. 1035680 ID: c1d4af

Let's use the Pitch Per-


the Pitch Prefect on the door and floor, it will give us time to prepare some projectiles to throw at her while she tries to move past the tar.

We should also use the Barrier Generator to ram her out of the way so we can leave the room.
No. 1035697 ID: 30b9f6

Mmm. Hell of a thing going down here. Astrolysis, whatever you hope to get out of this: may it be more than you expected - and twice as funny.

>Another plan
Pull out Plug and a Voidsplit card. Argine, no matter who you are and what you want, you can take Astrolysis' point and impale her with it. Make her have to acknowledge that you drew first blood, just the way she wanted, in the way she wanted it... when she supposedly wasn't even holding back.

>Edge against the edge
Brush the 'unlock' button just as Astro's blade slices through. Yes, it slices unnaturally, but the molecular dividing effect must run along the edge itself, not the whole thing. Just make sure the blade is such that the movement of the door can yank it.

>Singular moment of awe
Activate the card, spend your next act lunging out the opening door, using Plug to draw first blood (however bad a blow you can deliver) and from there - second action - dodge/parry Astro's inevitable counterstrike, kick or elbow. She's a melee monster with blind-sense, I refuse to believe she won't have an interrupt on the way no matter how fast you go. If for whatever reason she does not - draw blood again, but do not be tempted for a third blow. You need your third act to be your getaway.

>Strike and disappear
Run past her and scatter her feet and your line of retreat with explosive knives on short timer. Use those explosions to shift yourself around in directions you weren't going before; make her have to guess where you're headed - make YOURSELF guess where you're headed so she can't read your body language. Even if Astro powers through it all and picks the right way to follow, at least you'll have dinged her or slowed her down.

>Breathing room
Make for another room, another door, and set up a similar-seeming situation. It is only AFTER drawing first blood that you should use Astrolysis' easily riled aggression against her. Maybe with a pitch prefect trap for her to step into. Just don't pop your back against a wall or door - she's not been showing you the full extent of her sensory capabilities - or her wall-busting ones either. I will damn well bet on that.
No. 1035698 ID: 30b9f6

Ugh, and if you wanted to be dead boring you could instead use those three acts to sticky her stuck with the Prefect, step back and fill her and her zone full of quick-timed explosive knives and THEN run like heck and hope she doesn't manage to somehow avoid the 'splosions and stay on your tail.

If it works, I dare say that'd make her flaming mad too - especially if the pitch lights from all them 'sploses.
No. 1036463 ID: 73aaab
File 165651029772.png - (382.11KB , 1000x1000 , AstroSwordStuck.png )

>That would have been nice to remember five minutes ago!

>Find big water pipes, that should slow her down!

Good idea, but there's no pipes in THIS specific room. If we find one, you bet I'm going to use it to my advantage.
Too much of it'll make it harder for me to shoot her, but with enough... I imagine she'd have a tough time figuring out where I am, since I think she 'sees' through heat-detection.

>Tape explosive knives to her blade.
And how to you expect me to do that without my fingers getting chopped off to begin with?

>We should also use the Barrier Generator to ram her out of the way so we can leave the room.
Newsflash, the Barrier Generator's in the Blink Capacitor so that I get shielded when I warp somewhere. Which, incidentally, is still briefly on cooldown, but it should be ready again real soon.

>Brush the unlock button just as Astro's blade slices through.
That'll do it!
The metallic creaking around me grows louder as her sword gradually cleaves it open, Astrolysis chuckling to herself on the other side.

"You got any presents for me, Argine? I'm DYING TO GET SOME!"
I slam the button, right as she's ready to retrieve her sword.
I wince as a horrible grinding noise comes from the door mechanism, now that Astrolysis' sword is caught in the gap.
From the combined force of the door trying to close and the sword trying to cut a big enough hole for it to slide back out - it's stuck for now.
No. 1036464 ID: 73aaab
File 165651038568.png - (822.97KB , 1000x1000 , RGSlash.png )

>Make her have to acknowledge that you drew first blood, just the way she wanted, in the way she wanted it...
Probably too late for changing the rules, but...
Time to put the plan in action.

I draw from the deck - the very card I wanted appearing in my fingertips.
One Voidsplit card has been consumed.
I'm down to my last Voidsplit card. Whether it's in this fight or in the future, you'd BETTER make sure it's used for the right reasons.
Time slows down, and for a moment, it feels like every moment I'm experiencing is as clear as day.

And so I strike.

I run in, sword at the ready - and swing.

Another metal scrape -
She's wearing armor under that robe of hers!
Plug - whatever the hell it's made out of - STILL gouges a cut through the plating, though it feels like I'm grinding it against concrete.

I expected her to yell in anger, but instead, her laughter chases after me as I quickly step back, still empowered by the card's magic.
"Using your sword? Too late to go back now, wirehead!"

She's got a point. Still - I can't believe how well the damn thing cuts.

Time for step two.
No. 1036465 ID: 73aaab
File 165651042475.png - (321.55KB , 1000x1000 , RGKnifethrow.png )

A safe distance away, the next instant I leap back after the strike, I manifest the Blade Printer.
One, two, three.
I gather the blades in my hand, feeling the air rush past me as I'm carried backward by my initial jump.

I only need one arm to throw these.
The aerodynamic blades sail out, the glowing tips a reminder that - these things aren't just a practical joke of a weapon any more.
No. 1036466 ID: 73aaab
File 165651049065.png - (695.90KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineSplosion.png )

And there's the blast.
Feels like I get one of these every fight, but I ain't complaining. I'm starting to really like riding the aftershocks of these things, but i'm careful to land on my feet.

I don't bother watching the smoke clear as I make my escape, but her voice's as loud as usual.
There's a coughing, and a growl.
"What the hell was that?"

Keep guessing, big girl.
No. 1036467 ID: 73aaab
File 165651055015.png - (101.70KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryMap03.png )

I've secured some breathing room for myself - Astrolysis is going to be a LITTLE dazed after that onslaught, right? There's another room above me that seems to be where a lot of the material in-flow exists. Not that we're going to be able to get molten steel or something since there's none of that, but at VERY LEAST, water should be piping through it perfectly.

But I've got a few options for movement here -
1. - I can maneuvre into the next room with the water pipes, in hopes of making use of them against Astrolysis. Her heated edge means that the steam will help disrupt her blindsense, and I could potentially use it as an opportunity for an offensive play.

2. - I instead, go out back into the open and try to use my head start to deal damage to her with my ranged weapons. While the pipes are an option, being stuck indoors with nowhere to run - especially if I get caught by a locked door and I don't have my shotgun out to blast it down - I'm going to be in a pretty bad situation.

3. - Maybe there's another route? Going up on top of a building is possible but these things aren't suited for climbing - I'd have to blink up there. While Astrolysis wouldn't be able to attack me immediately, I have a feeling like she'd be able to do something crazy like using her sword to climb, or being able to actually jump up there. That'll leave me stuck, and it's high up enough that I'd probably get hurt if I tried to jump off.

4. - Something else I haven't thought of yet.

What's the best option?
No. 1036531 ID: 3c6a01

>And how to you expect me to do that without my fingers getting chopped off to begin with?
Probably should have elaborated. Oh well. Still, the insult is too clever to go to waste...
Ever slapped a flat strip of tape to a wall? Like that, except there's a knife on the flat piece of tape, and instead of a wall, it's the blunt side of a blade.
Seriously, it's a sword Argine. Just like your brain, there's a large section that's not sharp. Little late now, though.

Either way, go for the open area, you'll have room to dodge and places to fall back to.
No. 1036539 ID: 8aba56

Er... replace "blunt side" with "flat side"
No. 1036544 ID: 273c18

I'm predicting that if you get in a hot steamy room she'll either refuse to stay there (negating your advantage) or start using her parasignia. In an enclosed space, you don't want any surprises like that. After you find out what her parasignia does, then the steamy room becomes a good idea.

Go out in the open. Don't try to shoot her with bullets, instead see if you can hit her with Pitch Prefect to slow her down, or start covering the floor with it. In the open, you can use your blink to retreat if necessary, like to the other locations you said would be useful.
No. 1036577 ID: e5709d

>Blindness means she doesn't realize those are exploding knives
I have an idea. Her 'echosight' might be a superior form of alternate vision, but it isn't vision. She probably doesn't 'visualize' trajectories so much as witness them in interpolated motion. Which means...
Throw the knives into the walls so they form a path, but take a wildly different one. A standard soldier would see that they stick out in a way and deduce that they're being misled. Astrolysis is literally blind; she'll notice the explosives by echolocation but won't realize they're all planted so that they clearly form a path. She'll think she just needs to follow the knives to catch up to you, and then BOOM.
No. 1038028 ID: 73aaab
File 165775938807.png - (624.83KB , 1000x1000 , arginerockshooter.png )

>Either way, go for the open area, you'll have room to dodge and places to fall back to.
>Go out in the open.

You got it. Staying out's important if we don't know what Astrolysis can do yet.

>In the open, you can use your blink to retreat if necessary, like to the other locations you said would be useful.
Still gotta be aware of the cooldown, but the Beam Unit being slotted into it makes it far more useful in these circumstances. It's still not quite ready yet.

>Don't try to shoot her with bullets, instead see if you can hit her with Pitch Prefect to slow her down, or start covering the floor with it.

For now, I only need two shots - while the Pitch Prefect has a finite amount of ammo, I'm not going to worry about it just yet.

Even without slotting any other gadgets into it, the burst shot modification I made before means it's going to be spreading out real well.
Astrolysis won't see it coming, literally.
No. 1038029 ID: 73aaab
File 165775942115.png - (770.14KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineShowdown.png )

I stand out in the open, pulling out the HED-DSTR and taking aim.

From the smoking doorway, I watch her emerge, her armor a little misshapen from the heat.

"Nice trick, Wirehead. When I'm done with you, they'll have to scrape you off the walls."

The Prototype isn't exactly a rapid-fire weapon, so I'm going to take my sweet time aiming this thing. If I miss... then it's gonna be a while. Even if I've optimized it so I can fire it while standing, this thing creates so much heat that I can't reload it even WITH my Parasignia, and it would take longer to reform it if the gun jams or breaks.
No. 1038030 ID: 73aaab
File 165775944452.png - (867.97KB , 1000x1000 , AstroParaStart.png )

Wait. She stopped?
She stopped before the tar pools, before she stepped in.

Even if she didn't fall for it -
Now's my chance.
I take the shot - and it's like a lightning strike.
A crack sounds through the empty Foundry.

>Like the strike of a hammer against the anvil.

The gun's recoil hammers into my arms and I wince - this thing's NOT easy to deal with.

I lower the gun, and...
The bullet had no effect?!

Astrolysis growls, shouting to me.
"If that's all you have up your sleeve, you're dead!"

I look around, trying to figure out what just happened - and I can see the burnt remains of the round I fired, dropped down to her feet.
She's got an effect just like the Solburst cards I have! My shots can't get through right now!

But instead of rushing forward and into the trap I've splattered over the ground, she lifts her sword, tracing her fingers over the flat end.
"I gave you a chance, but you just had to go and make this fight boring. Nothing but running, hiding, and more running. Where's the fun in any of this?"

There's more important things than fun.
"Like I said, I gave you a choice. So we'll do things the hard way."
No. 1038031 ID: 73aaab
File 165775946389.png - (808.90KB , 1000x1000 , AstroWindupWithIcon.png )

She raises her sword above her head, a glow gathering around her sword.


Damn it, I need to get out of here before she does it! The Blink Capacitor's still on cooldown!

I make a break for it, running for cover away from her.
No. 1038032 ID: 73aaab
File 165775949111.png - (1.97MB , 1400x1220 , AstrolysisSwingFlipped.png )

Even though I can't see it - I feel it.
She swings her sword, and...

Fire. Lots of it.
A cracking shockwave travels through the foundry.

I turn to see what's happening behind me, and -
It's an explosion. Her Parasignia creates EXPLOSIONS.
The tar that I had placed before, it too, catches fire, popping and crackling as it seeps into the cracks before it too, creates another blast.

The heat feels like it's burning my fur off!
I- I can't dodge an attack THIS huge!
No. 1038033 ID: 73aaab
File 165775951087.png - (1.22MB , 1000x1000 , ArgineSplodedAgain.png )

No. 1038034 ID: 73aaab
File 165775953176.png - (748.94KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineCratered.png )

>A most sonorous slam sounds out as the soldier is sent soaring into a slew of supplies.
>Boxes of unforged material cascade down around the soldier. Unforged bullets surrounding an unfired weapon.
>For a second, she wasn't sure she was alive. But the stings and pains of her body anchor her to reality.
>She's still well into the fight. In times long past - fights would end even more quickly, whether through bullets or bruises.
>Perhaps she should thank the universe, for making things more accomodating for her reckless ambitions?

Agh.... ow.
What the hell was that? How the hell does her Parasignia work like that?

Breathe in...
There's a stinging in my back, but it probably won't be worse than some bruising - ain't like I've got broken bones down in there.

Okay, so, we've learned SOMETHING about Astrolysis' Parasignia:
She creates bloody EXPLOSIONS by cutting things.
Those cracks in the floor - a sword can't cut into concrete like that normally, right? So her Parasignia seems to be increasing the effect of cutting edges, to the point where they create explosions?

...I'm not sure if that's how it works, but my sword didn't break when we had clashed earlier. Does that mean it's somehow immune to her effect, or is it because being integrated into my Parasignia makes it resistant?

Fah. But the question is how I'm supposed to approach Astrolysis like that?
Even if I still actually HAD the Barrier Generator to block it with - I'm not sure it could even handle more than one or two of those blasts at all!

Gh... she knocked me INTO one of the sector's rooms. I don't think I'd want to stick around - you know what happens when explosions happen indoors, right? All that explosive force and hot air has to go somewhere. Makes it extra-deadly.

I can't play keepaway forever, so what's the plan? She's going to start using her Signia to blow me up if I just stay here.
Maybe... we have to disarm Astrolysis somehow. If her Parasignia occurs through cutting things - if she can't cut anything, then that means we've removed her main form of protection, AND her main way of attacking me.

The question is... HOW we go about doing that, while making sure I'm not blown to pieces?
No. 1038041 ID: 15c72a

Ah, her parasignia is the concept of "splitting". She is the master of cutting, even atoms! Cut atoms tend to explode, Argine... and because it's "splitting", Nickel's pseudosignia allowed her to "split" her shots. A different interpretation of the concept. The bullet protection... I'm not sure how that happens. It's like she's using a stronger version of Judicium's power, which is just cheating. Also, it didn't protect her from your knives? ...I don't get it.

It's weird that the Blink Capacitor is still on cooldown. It's been kindof a while since you last used it? Oh well. Bait her into using that attack again, and use the Blink Capacitor to GET CLOSER. Remember, it creates a shield around you, which will give you an opening to try the disarm, since that's what you want to do. Perhaps Plug can cut her arms or hands enough to make her drop it, or you can use your explosive knives in the same way?

Why did you use the Pitch Prefect on the ground instead of directly on her like I suggested? And you tried to shoot her despite me advising not to do that?
No. 1038116 ID: 8299f0

...With a power like that, it's surprising she's not damaged by the back-blast of the initial slice...
However, we've just learned it has limitations that could be put to good use.
First, it follows the ground, seemingly in a straight line without going up a wall. Otherwise, the wall would have blasted you towards her, rather than you going through the wall. Which means being on top of a ceiling will limit her ability to hit you with the parasig. She could attempt to collapse the room to put an end to that safety, but that'd probably hurt her too since collapses usually have a zone of collateral damage.
Second, the range is limited, otherwise it would have kept following you into the room, and you'd be *way* worse off. Stay far away as you have the ability to.

Say, if you'd like to defeat her in the most humiliating way, you could fool her into defeating herself. With a power that destructive, all you'd have to do is get her into a room, and get her to hit a load-bearing wall. Her own power would cause the room to collapse on her head! Of course, the issue is how to do so without being in the room when it collapses.
Oh wait, better idea. Lure her into a pool of Pitch Prefect and goad her into using the parasig. She'll cause the Pitch to explode! Just make sure the teleport's cooldown is done so you can actually dodge.

Say, where's the tacmap?
No. 1038120 ID: 15c72a

>lure her into hitting pitch with it
She just did. Totally ineffective, because she's cheating somehow.
No. 1038128 ID: 8fd6c0

...Seems I can't even give you partial credit on that response.
She was not standing *in* the pitch when she used her parasig. One look at the 5th image makes that clear, even if the text was ambiguous. Point blank explosions may differ from ones at a distance. Of course, given that there was no description of the pitch explosion's effect on the hostile, only a description of the explosion itself, the blast wave may have had effects that simply went unnoticed. Especially since the only thing we're sure her defense had an effect on was the round fired, which undoubtedly differs greatly from an explosion and its blast wave.
No. 1038131 ID: 9a2966

>Say, where's the tacmap?
Looks like the structure to the right on the previous map is our most likely location. No corner door evident where it should be, so Argine's dodge must've brought her towards the right, then she got knocked through the whole dang wall by the blast. Unless I'm misreading the perspective here.

>Through a wall
>ain't like I've got broken bones down in there
You might be sturdy, but wall vs meat is not a fight typically won. You could have fractures all over whole dang body, so I'd argue to pop a Briarspirit for the health recovery so you can move properly again, but you be the judge of that - take a moment to actually assess - as we haven't got great analytics of your bodily state.

>I can't dodge a blast this large
Of course you can - it's a cone-shaped strike, right? You just need to be closer to the source so it'd be easier to sidestep - heck, you might even manage it mid-range if you're lucky and can feint out her strike. Long range you're straight screwed unless you've got a Blink ready. Behind a wall you might even be screwed - at least you'd want to hide behind crates to take on shrapnel or have a barrier up in case she takes down something load-bearing and the roof caves in... hm.

>Celestis Cataclysmica
That is, by the way, a spectacular ace for a melee monster in a semi-enclosed space like this. That coupled with her little bullet-eating trick. But... there should be ways to counter both. Nor should we presume she can keep doing this forever. Like most things, there's probably a recharge period, a limited time of effect or a limited number of charges available to her. Same goes for her Solburst-like aura - at some point it's gotta fade.

>Next move?
Probe her a bit. Swap to the Sound & The Fury. Pummel her with rapid fire pistol shots as you try to keep to a mid-to-close distance and circle her - mainly to see if you can spend that solburst thing or see if it has any fluctuations in effect. You do need to be light on your feet for that sort of a direct challenge though, hence the recommendation for the Briarspirit's healing effect (though on second thought, maybe the barrier effect would be better, in case that helps with the heat aura). Also, with S&F you could if need be gunkata her if she chooses to close the range. You also have Break and Blood Circle to get away again in that case.

>Keep her riled
Continue with the smack talk, since you don't mind her knowing where you are at present. Anything like this may do:

"So that's it? Your epic tale is starting to sound like a buncha hot air, 'sis."

"Doesn't look like your parasignia can quite cut it. Or did I need to step into it? Was that what you wanted, trying to get me into a swordfight with that up your sleeve?"

"You keep talking about fun, but remind me again - why should I play things YOUR WAY? If I need to run and hide - I will. If I need to stand and fight - I will. If you say we can do things OUR OWN WAY - I AGREE! But I sure as heck don't need to do things YOURS. Unless you think you can MAKE ME?"

>The plan
>disarm her
>take down something load-beating
More long-term, if you can position yourself so that one of her Celestis strikes will take out one of the structures' walls (the partially destroyed one already might be best), maybe you can then goad her into a melee fight in the half-deconstructed building, then use explosive knives to drop the roof on her. THEN you move to disarm her as she's blast-vaporizing the roof or trying to dig out of the rubble. If you can get your hands on her blade, taking it and Blinking away sounds like the way to go, honestly. Puts some immediate distance between you again... plus if her heat aura's on you don't want to be too close too long.
No. 1038133 ID: 9a2966

It would, incidentally, be way funnier if you made her drop the roof on herself, but that'd mean fighting her in an even more enclosed space.
No. 1038180 ID: cf96b6

Seems we are going to need to fight her with something of lesser speed, like the knives or melee.
Taunting her into attacking you directly, then Blinking behind her (or at least to an angle she can't reach you and makes it less obvious you just used a gadget to evade her), might be the best idea.
Go for the arms with your sword, maybe?
No. 1038569 ID: 73aaab
File 165823199680.png - (117.66KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryMap04.png )

>Hey, where's the tacmap?
Ah, damn, you're right.
I breathe in, trying to focus... and there it is. Guess the blast knocked me a bit dizzy, but I think I have to be actively trying to seek out the map to access it. Remember how it went when I got locked in by Ozone? Same deal there, it popped up when I was trying to get out.

>Why did you use the Pitch Prefect on the ground instead of directly on her like I suggested? And you tried to shoot her despite me advising not to do that?
Hey, I had a chance to set up a trap for her in advance, as well as checking whether she could actually see those tar pools or not. We got info from it - she doesn't seem like she does!

>You got knocked through a wall?
I didn't get knocked through a wall, the door was open to this room. Seems like someone didn't actually take care of her Sector like she was supposed to!
Saved me the pain of having to slam right into a steel door, so I can't complain.

Now that she's used her Parasignia - I can too. And with more weapons than before! Plenty of combinations.
But don't forget that these things are give-and-take! If I use it ineffectually, she'll be refuelled and ready to keep hitting me with bloody huge explosions!

>Astrolysis doesn't seem immune to explosions.
But her sword IS, considering that thing's what makes her Parasignia work.
Considering this, the previous idea we had of sticking explosive knives to the sword wouldn't have broken it at all. I still think that our best bet is getting rid of her sword somehow, because that severely limits her combat effectiveness against me.

>Maybe Plug can force her to drop the sword?
I'm not sure she'd ever actually drop that thing - her pain tolerance is probably something intense, and I wouldn't even be surprised if she glued the sword to her hand.

>Drop the roof on her!
If Diagram or Judicium were here, they'd be lecturing me about the risks of casual explosive use.

I don't have another plan that's as effective for immobilizing her, so we've got to give this a proper shot.
No. 1038570 ID: 73aaab
File 165823202031.png - (869.72KB , 1000x1000 , Arginethonking.png )

First, let's do some quick thinking on what her Parasignia's shown to do so far. At least the whole planning thing means I can sort my thoughts out a bit more quickly, but we don't have all the time in the world.

She can somehow get rid of or nullify the effectiveness of bullets that go toward her - but I'm not sure what extent she can do it yet. It's probably worth testing it out further.

>It's like she's using a stronger version of Judicium's power, which is just cheating. Also, it didn't protect her from your knives? ...I don't get it.

Let's think about this point a bit more. There's no way she literally just has a better version of what Judicium has, right? Their elements are also the opposite of each other - she deals with explosions, Judicium freezes things. Hot and cold.
Judicium, the way her Parasignia works is through SLOWING projectiles coming towards them until they have no more momentum. Literal freezing, right?

Astrolysis though - when I fired that shot, the round was burned to a crisp, basically slag. Which means that something hot, like an explosion, pushed it back and also made it lose momentum. Same end result, different means.
But - it didn't stop the knives. Which means: there's a size cap on the projectiles she CAN stop, which I don't think Judicium would have.
Feh. Of course the only melee fighter in the whole facility ALSO happens to have an ability that lets her nullify her most glaring weakness.
I... don't think it's from her main Parasignia since I didn't see any big explosions. While I said it worked similar to the Solburst cards, the Solburst is still like a big explosive wave - I didn't see anything like that from it.
That means it has to be a Psuedosignia of some kind, right? Which means it has to be the one associated with Nickel's. But how the hell does invisibility do anything to bullets?

I don't have the time to think that out fully, I'll leave that to you, Sykes.
I've got a new plan to put into action.
No. 1038571 ID: 73aaab
File 165823204165.png - (1.12MB , 1000x1000 , ArgineTaunting.png )

With my two guns in hand, I'm ready to put things into action.
I laugh, loud enough that the brute can hear it.
"Hah! Nice Parasignia, chump! Looks like it didn't quite cut it, did it? Ain't got any broken bones here, so it looks like you still can't aim, even if you're a sword! Ha ha ha ha!"

That last part definitely seems to have pissed her off, as she's already walking toward me.
"Oh? Taking a stroll? I thought this was a fight, not a sight-seeing tour. Not that you'd be able to see anything!"

Not my best material, but I'm coming up with a lot of this on the spot.
Astrolysis hefts her sword onto her shoulder, with seemingly no worry about the heated edge being close to her body, nor whatever threat I could pose to her.

"You call that trash talk? You run your mouth like how you fight!"

...The hell's that supposed to mean?
In response, I take a shot or two - but, without even lifting her sword, the bullets drop down, reduced to a flaming lump.

...She's coming closer. But my Blink Capacitor's off cooldown now, so I can hop back whenever I need to.

Instead of coming at me with a strike though, she stops, sneering.
"You really think I'll follow you in there, Wirehead? No wonder why you have that name. Come on then - you've got your little peashooters. I thought you were going to keep scurrying around and poking me like a chump."

...She's not biting.
But she's not advancing any further either.
I don't like this - I feel like if I continue to stand here, she's going to just start swinging - and I think having to deal with an explosion indoors is the exact opposite of what we want right now.
No. 1038572 ID: 73aaab
File 165823205989.png - (95.94KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryMap05.png )

She's closed the distance. I don't have much time to make a decision, but if she's not going into the room so we can collapse the roof on her, we're going to need another plan.
The explosive knives alone probably aren't enough to break the walls, and she'd see it coming from a mile away if I start out like that.

I'm starting to figure out what the hell Astrolysis is doing with that Parasignia of hers to protect herself from my attacks.
Given that she doesn't seem to actually need to swing her sword to protect herself, something automatic's happening that we can't see. That would line up with Nickel's Parasignia being tied to invisibility, yeah? So Astrolysis has some kind of invisible protective force around her, I think. Question is how we're getting past that...

So, a few options come to mind right now -
1. - Using the Pitch Prefect to push the offense. Last time, I wasn't able to shoot at Astrolysis directly since I was setting up a trap - this time, I can try again, especially since she's got her guard down a little.
2. - Switching to the Creirwy and seeing just how resilient her defenses are. As it's multiple pellets, it does mean there's a chance she can't block all of it, or it could be blown away by an invisible shockwave.
3. - Maybe something else comes to mind? Not sure if there is a way to bait her into the room or not, but I can't just sit here and eat more explosions to the face.

Remember, I can make use of my Parasignia right now!
If you're going to suggest using it, give me a weapon combination out of two of the ones I already have and tell me what the plan is. A shiny new weapon means nothing if I can't actually get anything out of it!
It could make for an effective followup for whatever plan we've got cooked up as well, since then we can really hammer her with lead when her defenses are down or negated.
No. 1038573 ID: e5709d

Remember the Elephant Gun I talked about yesterday? Make one now.
Combine your shotgun and sniper rifle. Choose Slug Shells for ammo. Those have enough mass and size to overcome the heatshield.

I remember now. Heat-based mecha was annoying to pilot, but I remember. Do not take any frontal melee opportunities, no matter how stunned Astrolysis looks. If she's using a Scorch kit, she can temporarily set up a hand-held shield with a temperature akin to magma. Keep flanking her, and do not give her enough time to set up gas traps, or power through them so she can't detonate in time.
No. 1038606 ID: 15c72a

>size limit on projectiles
If only you had a rocket launcher. Or shotgun slugs, those might be big enough. Hmm, can you combine the rifle with your shotgun to produce a bigger bullet?

I considered using echoscribe but I don't think either the flash grenade or the holo-cloak would do anything against astrolysis. You COULD use it to get a single-use Explosive Disc though? That could allow you to blow up the room.

Gooping her up directly with Pitch Prefect seems like a good idea. Then when you hit her with more knives it'll do extra damage! The goop might potentially make it harder for her to use her sword, too.

OH, I bet her shield doesn't prevent point-blank shots. If you can stun her with a Solburst then you can get in and unload directly into her face.
No. 1038687 ID: ffa1c0

...So she's effectively immune to firearms and explosions at a distance? Sounds like it beats the pants off of solburst, getting yourself an equivalent would do wonders for survivability in general.

Either way, while the sword may be immune to point-blank explosives (whatever it's made of, get yourself armor made of that material!), the sword's user would probably at least be hurt by them, so covering her in pitch would be a good tactic if the pitch goes through her defense. Even if she realizes the threat, she either has to take the hit to attack outside of close range or not use her parasig, which is nothing but good. Downsides are she may take the hit if she's sure she has a way to finish you off, and that you only have so much pitch to use.

Slighty concerning is her tactics now. She's not rapid firing her parasig at your location, not dashing to melee, she's just slowly closing the distance. However, that may just be because she has nothing else to do while her parasig reloads.

So for now, toss explosive knives followed by heading for the door at the opposite side. Distance is your best ally here.

Overall, despite her aces, you've still got the edge, especially if you avoid parasig usage to maximize her reload and avoid close quarters.
She attempts to close the distance? LOL RUN AND KNIFE SPAMMING
She uses her parasig? LOL PITCH AND BARRIER TP
Perhaps it's a bit dull to just whittle away, but the more you bore her, the more likely she is to give up.
No. 1038721 ID: 36784c

You once mentioned that the little holes on the end of Astrolysis’ snout allow her to sense heat and she has an innate sense of echolocation. This means that it would be impossible to sneak up on her just by turning the lights off.

However, I’m guessing large amounts of heat and lots of noise will disorient her and make it harder for her to “see”. You know what causes large amounts of heat and causes lots of noise? Explosions.

Now, I’m not saying you should try to sneak up behind her, that’s a bad idea when she’s got a stinger on her tail that could stab you. But what I am saying is that creating explosions will give you an opportunity to get away from her if you need it.

>the bullets drop down, reduced to a flaming lump.
Seems to be the opposite of the ice queen, Judicium. Instead of freezing your projectiles, Astrolysis is somehow melting your projectiles.
No. 1038722 ID: 15c72a

Yeah they're melting, but just melting a bullet won't *stop* it, if they were just melting then they'd continue forwards and splatter Astrolysis with slag. So it's melting it AND stopping it.
Huh. An invisible force that stops things while heating them up? Sounds like friction.
No. 1038755 ID: 9a2966

Argine speculated on this - if it's not just melting, but some manner of invisible explosive counterforce, much like the Celestis strike.

>petty trash talk
So she says, but making light of her melee prowess did seem to get a rise. She's felt the sting of something there before.

>"I thought you were going to keep scurrying around and poking me like a chump."
Perhaps the chump pitying the champ will bite her harder. Words to that effect, at least.

Think about it. While she's a superb melee fighter, Astrolysis has a deadly serious handicap in a future that's all but given up on the kind of close quarters battles she seems to prefer. Before Parasignia - heck, maybe after - war was all about ranged firepower. Even if Astrolysis has her 'signias now, previously 'scurrying around' and 'poking her' until she was done for was the strategy to nope out of her medieval gimmick. Given volume of lethal fire, distances guns can be effective at and the likely limited range of whatever blindsenses she's got... Astrolysis is kind of terrible modern soldier material, at her base.

That badass 'I fight to kill,' comment hides a bitter truth - in a modern war she'd probably get killed just trying to get TO the fight. The 'signias make her somewhat more viable for assault actions, but even so. Even still. No matter how hard she trained - how badass her magic swordswings, her armour and her shield...

Would this battle maniac ever have been fielded in the way she'd wish?

She might have stopped caring - war's over, she'll never have that chance anyway - but I suspect the question has a sting to it and may be part of why she's all 'fuck da rules, I make my own'. Why she - rather literally - overthrew the last Sector Boss of the Armoury and got the people here to make her the cool shit she needed to be equipped to do her thing - and why she tried to tempt you into making this a straight melee by offering you Plug and the deal.

It was the only way she could get the sort of battle she really wants.

It's speculation, but Astrolysis comes a teensy bit off as the last knight, the old warrior in a new age, striving to keep themselves relevant still and prove that their way isn't outmoded - or maybe just wanting to prove that she's not all that handicapped after all, when all things are equal (and in a ranged battle they never could be). So yes, if she doesn't want to come closer - poke her with pity and see what kind of fire that lights.

>If I just stand here she might just start swiping explosions again
If that damages the building then this could serve Plan Roof Drop. If need be, use Blink to escape her next Celestis and put yourself in cover by the crates inside the building. Obviously her senses will tell her you've popped back in there, but it won't necessarily give her much details if you rummage around and make noise doing shit, right? She'll just know where you at and making a racket. Probably be wary all the same, now.

>Hidden Demolition
Pop a few crates, dump out crap to make them light enough to be throwable - and at the same time, dump a bunch of timed explosive knives in one or more crates - and then throw crates at Astrolysis when she comes in after you. Those would be big solid objects you could use to test the strength of her explode-melty counterforce - or rather, that's what you'd be trying to look like you'd be doing, when instead that's a distraction to your real goal of making more load-bearing shit go boom. All you need to do is 'fumble' the toss of the explosive knife-crate to where it needs to go.

And if she swipes at it anyway, well, at least you blew her up again. Inside a building you're also inside of. Hm. Maybe save a crate or two for cover? Anyway, if you do lure her in, you might still need something extra to really send that roof tumbling - and you might want to do that at range.

>Possible Weapon combo
An idea. Combine Plug and H-ED DSTR to form a new attack - Cutting Rain - a slicing shot combining the arc of a swordslice with the range and power of a sniper rifle. Is this possible? I dunno, you tell me, it's your 'signia - I just feel something like that COULD probably take a chunk out of something load-bearing. If Astrolysis' armour was like concrete to Plug, actual concrete might be like soft butter to this. Ah, but H-ED DSTR is still on cooldown, right? Maybe you need to delay this until it's ready. Or your other guns could substitute.

>If Astrolysis won't take the bait
She knows you pulled an ambush on her the last time she went through a door, so put yourself in crate cover so you can retreat in either direction in case she just blows more building apart - or cuts through the wall. You mainly want to maneuver so that you can lure her under whatever part of the building's become unstable. Heck, you could still have an explosion go off to reduce structural integrity and just pretend you thought she would've rushed in like an idiot after you - just so long as you can get her in position later.
No. 1039465 ID: 73aaab
File 165905745234.png - (252.47KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineThinking2.png )

The standoff between me and the blind brute continues - I think she knows that I can teleport, so she seems to be holding off for now.

>...So she's effectively immune to firearms and explosions at a distance? Sounds like it beats the pants off of solburst, getting yourself an equivalent would do wonders for survivability in general.

Yeah, sure, let me just twist myself into knots to go and gain that kind of ability. Parasignias are finnicky like that - I'm not going to be able to get an equivalent just because I want to have that kind of power, and I'm pretty sure whatever kind of shields this place can produce won't ever live up to THAT kind of defensive potential. I guess we should consider the deck an extension of what I CAN do - versatility's the name of the game.

>Can you stun her with a Solburst?
Given that it's supposed to be something that works off of light and heat... maybe?

I don't think it'll have the same effect on her that a flashbang would have on a normal soldier though - I'm guessing that it's only going to look like everything's all white for a moment, but not actually 'stun' her because she doesn't have eyes that can be hurt to begin with.

And as for weapon choices...
There's a bit of a split on this then - Elephant Gun or something a little... different. Combining Plug and the H-ED DSTR to make some kinda... sword sniper rifle thing. I've actually got no idea what this'll turn into, since I don't think I've actually had access to a sword AND a sniper rifle of this power at the same time.
...What's an elephant, anyway? Must be pretty big if we're putting a shotgun and a sniper rifle together.

I won't use it now, but these two options have the greatest chance of doing something worth my time.

Speculating on what Astrolysis' powers can do is one thing, but I'm going to take action.

>Pop a few crates, dump out crap to make them light enough to be throwable - and at the same time, dump a bunch of timed explosive knives in one or more crates - and then throw crates at Astrolysis when she comes in after you. Those would be big solid objects you could use to test the strength of her explode-melty counterforce (when actually, it's a distraction to make Plan Roof Drop happen.

This ain't a bad plan, but I feel like moving into the room to start cramming things into a box comes off far too suspicious for Astrolysis not to take a move yet. I'll keep this idea in mind for later.
No. 1039466 ID: 73aaab
File 165905749081.png - (953.73KB , 1000x1000 , pointnlaughgine.png )

>Would this battle maniac ever have been fielded in the way she'd wish?
Good question. Astrolysis talks about how 'things were different before', when people couldn't survive shots to the head. If that's the case, someone like her would be way worse off - a severed finger or two probably couldn't be reattached so easily either, right?

We would have been able to plink her down so much earlier if she didn't have stuff like her Pseudosignia protecting her!

Hm. Gives me some ideas for more insults, actually.

"I feel sorry for you, Astrolysis. You really think you're some kind of fighter? Some badass? You said it yourself - back in a different time, people couldn't just take a shot to the head. And you? You're a blind melee combatant in a world where everyone uses guns. You may as well have been cannon fodder!"

She drops her sword down, the edge cutting a gouge into the floor again.
"Keep talking, Wirehead, I'll separate your head from your body."

She looks mad.

Once she's in range, I'll ready the Pitch Prefect to try and hose her down.

"No wonder why you asked me not to use my Parasignia! It's because you can't fight at all without yours, because little things like BULLETS make you completely useless! Ha ha ha ha ha!"

Before I can continue the stream of insults, Astrolysis shouts at me.

Wait. The hell is she doing?
No. 1039467 ID: 73aaab
File 165905751453.png - (812.75KB , 1000x1000 , AstrolysisBoomJump.png )

Another explosion - this time, centered ON her.
"Thought you were the only one who could do this trick? Nickel told me alllllllll about it!"

No. 1039468 ID: 73aaab
File 165905753778.png - (778.04KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineTeleport.png )

I barely manage to dodge out of the way as she thrusts her blade, causing me to expend the charge on the Blink Capacitor in the process.

She slams against the wall, her sword driving deep into the foundation. What the hell is that sword made of? Cracks are running all along the wall - so Plan Roof Drop can still happen.
I'm still only inches away from a monster with a sword that's nearly as long as I'm tall, so that's just great.
No. 1039469 ID: 73aaab
File 165905757431.png - (115.33KB , 1000x1000 , FoundryMap06.png )

Okay, that's bad, really bad - while outside, she can explosive jump, just like me. What the hell? I thought she wasn't immune to explosions!
...Ah, shit. I think I slept through the class about this, but... I think there's something about how Parasignias protect the user against their own abilities? Isn't that why Judicium is fine even at lower temperatures?

So instead of being able to just whittle Astrolysis down over time, she's now flying at me. This day's just getting better and better, isn't it? But she still isn't immune to MY explosive knives, so she's not invulnerable.

Question is what I can do to deal with her now - she’s much closer in distance than I’d like, and the Blink Capacitor only took me away enough to dodge the attack, which means it’s back on cooldown. I can't just stand here and wait for her to cut me in half!
No. 1039470 ID: e5709d

>What's an elephant, anyway? Must be pretty big if we're putting a shotgun and a sniper rifle together.

Remember, she literally cannot see you blinking.
Too bad your charge is out, because here's the plan:
Slam the door, then blink to the other doorway and sneak your way out of this mess. Repeat multiple times.
Once she catches on and pays more attention to your footsteps, go crazy with sound. Plug your ears and fire your loudest noisemakers. Keep insulting her, add her screams of rage to the cacophony. The more noise you can make, the less she can detect her surroundings.
If you can deafen her, this fight is as good as won.
No. 1039479 ID: 15c72a

She's stuck, now's the best time to load her down with tar. After that, when you get a chance, you can hit her with explosive knives again for a BIG BOOM.
No. 1039513 ID: 34dd50

Also, please be advised. Elephant Guns and Punt Guns and similar are more like... small handheld cannons. There is a reason people don't use them, and instead tend towards emplaced and sandbag supported crew weapons at those recoil levels. The recoil may be injurious, evek if you are correctly braced. People have been knocked over and broken their backs due to recoil from various 'extreme' novelty guns that tend to not be used in military contexts for lots of good reasons. I don't know what you'll do with this knowledge, but good luck. Also an elephant is a quadrupedal land mammal with the mass of a small armored vehicle. Maybe 6 tons or so? Though the word 'ton' means lots of different things in different contexts...
No. 1039518 ID: 118a4e

>let me just twist myself into knots to go and gain that kind of ability
Ha, you say that like you both know the limit of your abilities and that you've already peaked. Or that no gadget you get or gadget combo you make would ever successfully emulate whatever she's doing. Very pessimistic for a person with abilities that break known laws of physics.

>she can explosive jump
Of course, the caveat is she has no ability to change course. Perfect if you have a trap set up behind yourself that she cannot see.

>Question is what I can do to deal with her now
1) Her sword is stuck in a wall. Sounds like a great opportunity to disarm her, quite literally if need be. Her hands will regrow... or at least it seems they should.
2) How many explosive knives can you throw into her exposed back (or head or arms) before she gets her sword free? Once she does, you're right next to a door to escape.
3) Get a holocloak with echoscribe, toss it to a random wall. Have it insult her in creative ways. Smirk as she gets stuck in wall two. However, if this would require prerecording, nevermind.
4) Fire pitch at the corners of the room you're inside. Hit her with pitch too, if you feel it'd help. Goad her into parasigging. Perhaps use your parasig to do extra damage and assure hers is ready to be used. Once you detect she's activating, escape. Laugh as her parasig and the secondary pitch explosions get the roof to fall on her head.
5) Pop a void, combine the previous options however you feel.
No. 1040109 ID: 12b116

How many times are we going to have to shoot at her with no result before we figure out that bullets aren't doing anything against her? It looks like we're going to HAVE to use the sword instead of trying the same thing over and over till we get something important cut off. We need to bait her into charging again and try to get behind her. Trying to stay behind her is probably the best way to get any damage in on her. Might want to cut off her tail tip first though. Definitely toss the tar at her for now, we probably will have to blink behind her because I'm sure she knows how much of a weakness that is.
No. 1040111 ID: 15c72a

can you make a gun that shoots swords?!
No. 1040112 ID: dee951


That only works in settings with a rule of cool based narrative causality, with a very particular definition of 'cool', like bad children's animation!
No. 1040119 ID: e5709d

Make a gun-powered sword, then.
No. 1040239 ID: 15a025

Hear me out. Fuse the sniper rifle with the silk weave gauntlets.

The gauntlets alone might only be able to stop a bullet, but what kind things could we block if that was fused with the power of a sniper rifle shot, or shoot. Maybe even our shotgun? The only downside to this I can see is we might get one hell of a kickback on our shots.
No. 1040561 ID: 9dceff
Audio AstrolysisPart2_SomethingMemorable.mp3 - (5.48MB )

Title: Something Memorable (FURI)
Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpbJJmOJLz8

No. 1040562 ID: 9dceff
File 166020315955.png - (78.33KB , 1000x1000 , DramaticThinking.png )

Only a few moments before she gets her sword unstuck and starts blowing me up again.
We have to choose - NOW.

>Ha, you say that like you both know the limit of your abilities and that you've already peaked. Or that no gadget you get or gadget combo you make would ever successfully emulate whatever she's doing.
No, that's not it - I'm talking about what I have NOW. It doesn't matter if there's gadgets out there that can do what she can with the whole bullet-melty thing, when I don't have anything like that right now!

>can you make a gun that shoots swords?!
Uh, no? Swords aren't exactly good ballistic weaponry, BUT...

>Make a gun-powered sword, then.
Like I said before, I get the feeling that if I jam the sword together with the sniper rifle, I'd get something more akin to a railgun instead.

>Hear me out. Fuse the sniper rifle with the silk weave gauntlets.
...Huh. I didn't consider the gauntlets... but they ARE an option. But not one we'll need right now - the gauntlets protect me against bullets, but not explosions. We'll test it out next time.

>Use this as an opportunity to lay into her with tar and explosive knives.
I get what you're saying, but... this is an opportunity. I'm going to roll with plan Roof Drop from before, with a few caveats. The goal is to disarm her - because without her weapon - she won't be throwing out any explosions.

> Her sword is stuck in a wall. Sounds like a great opportunity to disarm her.
Yeah. Yeah, it is. Even though some of you guys are suggesting stunning her with the tar - but when we've got an opportunity like this, I'm suggesting we enact a previous plan of ours - one we've already been working toward.

>How many times are we going to have to shoot at her with no result before we figure out that bullets aren't doing anything against her?
It's kinda like with armor, really. If a shot isn't strong enough to make it through, then it'll bounce off, doing little-to-no damage at all. So I've got something of my own to propose.

Think about it. If her sword's made outta something that's immune to explosions, more explosions aren't going to break it. It's true that Astrolysis' the one who's actually immune to her own Parasignia - but her equipment is still holding up, even now. By extension, even if we broke through the barrier of hers
It's not going to work if we're just gradually increasing our firepower - we're going to max it out in one go.

We're going to go bigger.
No. 1040563 ID: 9dceff
File 166020320386.png - (370.32KB , 1194x1000 , ArginesBlazing1.png )

I breathe in and both the Creirwy D-3 and the H-ED DSTR appear in my hands. Wielding them like this, they're much too unwieldy to fire.
No. 1040564 ID: 9dceff
File 166020325507.png - (826.65KB , 1194x1000 , ArginesBlazing2.png )

But the weight of both guns in my hand remind me exactly what I'm capable of.
A grin creeps across my face.

"Ignition Complex..."
No. 1040565 ID: 9dceff
File 166020329582.png - (900.40KB , 1194x1000 , ArginesBlazing3.png )

"Guns Blazing!"
No. 1040566 ID: 9dceff
File 166020333746.png - (1.02MB , 1194x1000 , ArginesBlazing3point5psd.png )

No. 1040567 ID: 9dceff
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No. 1040568 ID: 9dceff
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No. 1040569 ID: 9dceff
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No. 1040570 ID: 9dceff
File 166020345613.png - (1.39MB , 1486x1000 , ArgineaphantGun.png )

>With debris scattering over the floor, a deafening roar can be heard.
>The doorway, warped by heat gives way as another blast cracks the building.
>From the flames of possibility, new solutions emerge.

>The bloom of a new crimson flower has been witnessed.

I missed this feeling.

A varnished wood stock and all - this thing's a lot more elegant than I thought it was going to be.
I'm going to call this... the Wallflower. Perfect considering that both of the gals that the composite guns come from are total recluses, right?

You don't need to tell me what to do next, either.
The blast created by my entry's probably going to do it's fair share of disorienting the brute in front of me.

>Also, please be advised. Elephant Guns and Punt Guns and similar are more like... small handheld cannons. There is a reason people don't use them, and instead tend towards emplaced and sandbag supported crew weapons at those recoil levels.

I don't have the time to set up something more! This is my chance to get a killer hit in!
No. 1040571 ID: 9dceff
File 166020351268.png - (510.81KB , 1000x1000 , argineschut.png )

I pull the trigger - and it's like a flashbang's gone off in my face. The damn ringing in my ears, the blindingly bright flash - it takes a moment before the crack of the shot even registers to me.
Then, stinging pain.
I stumble back, the kick from the Wallflower threatening to throw me back out of the room.

>The consequences of ignoring warnings provided by your own advisors.

Ah- ah shit, did I break a bone in my shoulder? I've got no clue but I can't see anything but the blast in front of me. It's so bright that it's basically a bloody flashbang when we're in a darker room like this!
No. 1040572 ID: 9dceff
File 166020353754.png - (566.98KB , 1000x1000 , BLAAAAAST.png )

>Searing heat.
>For a moment, that's all Astrolysis could feel, moments after she freed her sword.
>The blast engulfed her sense of self in that moment.
>Though she had never seen it - she knew that what she was standing in front of was like the sun itself.
>A memory crossed her mind, of when she named herself - a declaration that she would have the strength to split the skies themselves apart. But what could a blind soldier do if she could not see her target?
>But here, now?
>For the first time - she saw the sun.
No. 1040573 ID: 9dceff
File 166020357976.png - (716.78KB , 1000x1000 , ROOFSFALLING.png )

Before I'm even done recovering from the hit to my shoulder or the blinding flash, I can HEAR the cracks running through the walls of the building.
Whether it's the shrapnel, the backblast or something else - the amount of dust being kicked up is absolutely enormous.

Another cracking sound, and a rumble. This thing's going down!
I scamper back, still nursing my arm - dunno if the damn thing's been dislocated or just bruised like hell!
But I'm not giving her a free win by getting crushed under the roof!
No. 1040574 ID: 9dceff
File 166020365570.png - (970.51KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineFaceBlock.png )

The rumbling around me doesn't stop as more debris falls, throwing up plume after plume of smoke. It's like we've got a bonfire here, except much more dusty.

Agh- damn it, I can't see anything in all of this smoke, and my Blink Capacitor's still not ready! I don't even know if Astrolysis was downed by my shot, she got absolutely engulfed in the blast! So until we see her, we're not in the clear yet.
And my arm's still hurting like hell, I can barely move it.

Even if I'm out of the doorway, the sheer amount of dust and debris makes it hard to see where the hell I'm going!
No. 1040575 ID: 15c72a

If you can't see to move, then don't. Surround yourself with tar, so that if Astrolysis shows up before you can see she'll get stuck. At the very least that will give you time to blink, but I kindof want to start setting fires too, so that you can blind her with ambient heat. ...it occurs to me that giant blast might have fucked up her heat sensing anyway. Like a flashbang but for heat pits.

Can you get the map working again?
No. 1040576 ID: 398700

you're probably going to have hearing trouble for a bit after that. Focus on feeling for vibration and movement, this girl's tanky as all fuck and even that wasn't a guaranteed down yet.

It may be salient to crouch down, minimize our profile until things clear up enough to safely move.
No. 1040585 ID: 9a2966

That's one hell of a boomstick... but crouch down, then move forward through the smoke! Slither, scramble, stumble, whatever, towards where she might be!

If anything left Astrolysis distracted it has to be this. Do not waste seconds to see - seize the initiative, or she will have it, to feel and poke around for her. You can use Plug like a walking stick - have it at the ready in your offhand to feel your way forward - and at hand to attack, parry and block in case she is still able to feel or hear your approach and lashes out blindly.

You created this scene - this mess - with the intent to do a thing so don't just stand around waiting! Find her and try to disarm her while you can.

(And take shallow breaths - too much dust ain't good for ya.)
No. 1040604 ID: e5709d

The noise will keep her from hearing you set up traps. Now's your chance to mine the floor with tar and knives!

Bait her one last time. Act like you're aiming but set up a goddamn minefield. When she finally charges, Elephant Gun Jump! Keep firing through the smoke, try to bring down the roof, and don't stop until we tell you the test is over!

... Did you know elephants normally can't jump due to their sheer mass? Oh well...
No. 1040605 ID: c35acc

Wallflower used solarbeam!

...How many walls did that blast through?

Either way, the cape will reduce dust exposure if you use it to cover your mouth. Have a briar at the ready, because if she still has fight in her, you'll probably need the arm healed.

Honestly, I'd usually advise getting a fallback area full of traps, but right now you fully have the initiative. Wasting it would be foolish. Sure, she could be baiting you, but the odds of that seem low.
No. 1040646 ID: dec69d

Find an unassuming corner among the rubble and set up a defense there. Make sure to not move until you actually see movement.
No. 1040779 ID: 15a025

If you're not able to see where you're going, then staying put for now sounds like the best option. Try to listen to your surroundings and watch out for anymore falling debris.
No. 1042291 ID: 73aaab
File 166190863167.png - (885.43KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineBlinded.png )

>Start some fires.
>Surround yourself with tar.

If I surround myself with tar, all I'm going to be doing is spraying it where I can't see it - meaning more likely than not, I'll be stepping right into a puddle myself.

With all this smoke, I'm not sure a tar-fire's going to be all that effective if it's snuffed out in moments.
I'm going to try to watch her movements, or get away while I still can. I ain't sticking around to find out if the beast's down or not.

>Elephant Gun Jump!
Hate to say it, but I'm not firing that thing when I've only got one arm left. If I try to rapid fire that thing, I don't know if my gun or my shoulder would explode first!

>Can you get the map working again?
I'm only inches away from the doorway - a map's redundant at this range.

>Don't just stand around waiting! Try to disarm her while you can!
Ffffffff- I'm not going to be able to disarm anything but myself at this rate!

>If you can't see to move, then don't.
>It may be salient to crouch down, minimize our profile until things clear up enough to safely move. Feel for vibrations and movement.
Are... are you sure about this? Shouldn't I be trying to get away as soon as possible?

...Damn it, I'm going to take your word on this for once. The moment she tries running at me, I'm going to be ready for her.

My body feels stiff. Crouching only makes my arm sting more, so I stay still, watching, trying to keep my breaths shallow.

The dust starts to settle a little, and my vision clears.
No. 1042292 ID: 73aaab
File 166190865749.png - (1.03MB , 1000x1000 , CaughtOut.png )

I'm greeted with an outstretched hand, charred and burnt, soaring toward me.
She's still up!

>With monstrous physicalities - a leap is perfect for closing the distance - all without audible footsteps.

I duck out of the way, ready to form another gun and-

I'm not waiting for her to break my hand - I pop the Briarheart card, feeling the pain in my other arm subside as I go to manifest one of my revolvers and-
No. 1042293 ID: 73aaab
File 166190867392.png - (758.51KB , 1000x1000 , FaceGrab1.png )

Before I'm even able to react to her stopping my arm, the crunching pain of her fist into my chest winds me - and immediately, her other hand reaches out again, her fists moving faster than I can draw my gun.
Her hand clamps right over my mouth, gripping it like she's trying to crunch it into tiny fragments.
I try to spit out an insult, but I can barely pry my lips apart with her tightly she's grabbing my muzzle.

Her thumbclaw digs into my face, tracing a bloody line through it. I can barely feel it before she reaches for my neck and SQUEEZES.
The veins in my arm bulges out as I try to pry her arm off, but her grip's as tight as a vice!
No. 1042294 ID: 73aaab
File 166190870864.png - (0.96MB , 1000x1000 , ASnarl.png )

The scent of burned meat and fur invades my nostrils as Astrolysis leans in.
"Told you that you couldn't run forever, Wirehead. I'm gonna... make you exactly what they call you."
No. 1042295 ID: 73aaab
File 166190872758.png - (947.22KB , 1000x1000 , RAISE.png )

I gasp and choke - my arms are pulling against hers, but it's like trying to move a cement. My nails scratch and dig against her arms, but I can't even make it through the singed fabric.
It's happening again.

>As air is choked out of her lungs, scenes float to the surface of her consciousness. Of that day - of her loss to Jin-R, of her complete humiliation in front of everyone.
>Once again, she's beaten - not through a bullet, but through brutal, indifferent violence.

Why is it happening again?!

I kick out, but her grip's threatening to break my neck!


>But what help can we provide? We are but advisors. We cannot pry those fingers off her neck.
>She tries, once more, to lay out an insult. Our host produces nothing but a pained gurgle, a sound that barely registers to the brute accosting her with her bare hands.

Can't... focus...
>Pieces gather in our host's fingers, only to fall apart in a moment's weakness. Even with her training - to picture the intricate mechanisms of her weaponry in her mind as she's losing consciousness is a skill she's yet to master.
No. 1042296 ID: 73aaab
File 166190875984.png - (771.64KB , 1000x1000 , SLAM.png )

"Oi. We're not done here yet. How about I move you STRAIGHT INTO THE GROUND?"
>With a grunt, the disarmed swordmaster swings her plaything into the ground, shaking the floor around it.
>Barely recovered from her strangulation, a choked gasp rattles through our host's throat.
No. 1042298 ID: 73aaab
File 166190882399.png - (1.05MB , 1000x1000 , FACESLAM.png )

>Her vision was shaky.
>The beast was still looming over her.

Form the damn gun, you... you useless waste of... genetic material...

>Once more, a brutal hand clasps itself around her face, lifting her concussed head from the ground, a small red stain where she used to be.
No. 1042299 ID: 73aaab
File 166190885604.png - (889.06KB , 1000x1000 , Headgrasp1.png )

"Not enough for you? One more time!"
No. 1042300 ID: 73aaab
File 166190888796.png - (1.02MB , 1000x1000 , Headgrasp2.png )

>A cracking sound and a splatter, layered on top of one-another.
>To the swordmaster - she imagined a different life where that sound meant something different. Something final.
>In another time, her opponent would be gone. She would be just, her existence validated.
>But instead - the sound was sickening to the beast's keen ears.
No. 1042301 ID: 73aaab
File 166190890889.png - (1.48MB , 1000x1000 , FACESLAM2.png )

"Go to sleep, runt. Dream of that hero you wanna be."
No. 1042302 ID: 73aaab
File 166190893935.png - (0.96MB , 1017x1017 , LTSTATIC.png )

No. 1042303 ID: 73aaab
File 166190896294.png - (1.73MB , 1000x1000 , THEPAST.png )

>In a different time, two friends sat and watched the sun set in the distance.
>One was missing half her eyes - the other had none at all.

>It was a long day - and one of them had been told to pick a name.
>The blind girl, however she wracked her brain - couldn't find any name that satisfied her. She couldn't write it, she couldn't feel it. A name may as well have been dust to her. Though her friend volunteered to help her come up with ideas - their conversation soon drifted away, to the sensations around them.

>From the grass she felt beneath her paws, to the breeze that ruffled her fur - it was like she was in a different world to the facility she called home. There, people led her around - told her what to do all the time.
>Here... she could be by herself, or be with her friend.
>But there were so many questions in her mind.

>To the blind girl - she couldn't tell where the warmth outside came from, no knowledge of the big ball of burning plasma that gazed down at the little people in the lonely island below.
>"How come it feels warm outside?", she asked.
>Long before she chose to pick up a weapon - she was put in the same category as her dearest friend. Someone who needed to be taken care of, someone to be guided.

>"That's the sun. It's a star, a ball of hot gas really, really far away from us. But this one is special, because it's what makes plants grow, like the grass under our feet, or the trees that give us our favourite fruits."
>The sun. What a weird little thing to put there in the sky. Who was putting the fuel in it to keep everyone warm?
>If someone else was telling her, the blind girl would doubt the truth. But her friend - her friend was smart, even if she felt as light as a blanket whenever they went for a piggy-back ride. Even if her friend was sick, she was so smart - she told the blind girl all she knew, and even if she didn't understand, the blind girl did her best to try - and her friend was grateful.

>"I wish I could touch it. Do you think it would taste spicy?"
>New things were exciting. Whether it was a new toy, or something to stay away from - even if the blind girl was hurt by it, she loved discovering new things - of pushing her boundaries. What you could and couldn't eat, what things could and couldn't be broken... even though she couldn't see like anyone else, she loved being in this world - loved getting to know everything in it.
>Something so far away... something she couldn't touch.
>That was disappointing to the blind girl. How could she feel something so far away? It was just a blurry gradient of heat to her in the distance. How could she get to know it for herself?

>Her friend giggled. The sound made the blind girl perk her ears up. She knew laughter - but she didn't know her friend's laughter all that well.
>"You're pretty funny, you know that? What would you do if you could actually hold the sun?"

>The question prompted the blind girl to think for a moment.
>"I'd cut it in half - so you and I can both taste it, one day when I'm strong enough to do that!"

>This only made her friend laugh harder - before the laughs turned into coughs.
>Her friend did that a lot nowadays, but it was okay. After all, her friend said that it'll be over one day. As long as the blind girl could be with her friend, she didn't care too much if she was coughing or laughing.
>"I mean it! We can share the sun together, like that fruit you named yourself after!"

>There was a shakiness to how her friend responded. The blind girl couldn't see the gentle tears streaking across her friend's pale face.
>"You know... I think I have an idea for what your name should be."
No. 1042304 ID: 73aaab
File 166190900119.png - (0.96MB , 1017x1017 , LTSTATIC.png )

No. 1042305 ID: 73aaab
File 166190902620.png - (448.19KB , 1000x1000 , DiagramWorried.png )

>Numbness. Only numbness.
>The inky void breaks - only for our host to be met with the face of a concerned friend.

"A-Argine? You're awake! I... I'm glad you're okay!"

It hurts. Where am I?
Diagram's over there, so...
Ah... this is...
No. 1042306 ID: 73aaab
File 166190905430.png - (629.61KB , 1000x1000 , REST.png )

"So... I..."

How long has Diagram been watching over me?

I try sitting up, but my body feels bloody sore. It's like I've been here a month.

The realisation dawns on me:
This is my fault, isn't it?
No. 1042310 ID: 8483cf

Absolutely not. You did your best.

How long HAVE you been here, anyway?
No. 1042311 ID: bf1e49

No it's everybody else's fault for repeatedly trying to get you to do the same thing
No. 1042312 ID: 15c72a

Yes. If you had taken the deal, you could've won. Your guns and parasignia were useless; her ability perfectly counters yours.
Also you could've used the tar AND STAYED STILL. She would've gotten caught in it, and then you could've done something, instead of getting your face grabbed.
You could have also summoned Plug when she was holding your face, instead of trying to summon guns, which were proven to be useless.

You seem to have a learning disability, Argine. It will be difficult to become a hero when you can't adapt during combat without our direct advice.
No. 1042314 ID: 8893f0

Maybe... you should consider not being a hero and instead search for a better dream.
No. 1042315 ID: e5709d

I... I don't know what I'm supposed to say.

You know what the worst part is?
You could probably do more for society by progressing it from the shadows, honing your psychic powers to mass-produce emergency food and medical supplies. That's probably why they're forcing you down this path.
Except then the elite will, as usual, corrupt everything you've ever done for one-day genocide delivery and call it heroism.

You didn't have a bad ambition; you just didn't know the full consequences, while they pretend those consequences don't exist.
And you still don't get to have it.
No. 1042319 ID: 9649f0

No, we really should have told to run after the roof collapsed.
Hunkering down turned out to be the wrong choice.
No. 1042325 ID: 85ffab

Even though I opposed staying still, once fog of war hit, every action was risky, so no.

Playing defensive risked her regrouping, as well as failing to disarm her of that pesky blade, making that broken arm gambit a total waste.
Playing offensive risked, well, what happened.

Situations like that, you figure what gives the best odds, then roll the dice. When you get snake eyes, you get snake eyes.

Had we known she was still up (HOW WAS SHE NOT BELOW A TON OF DEBRIS??!?), as well as that she abandoned the blade (which was probably way outside most of our ballparks), we could have had better advice, but we had no way to know. Had we the choice, a solburst while grabbed may have helped, or it may have been futile, no way to find out now.

Worst part about this though? Sorta mad at Nickel, her close quarters advice was useless here!

Still, if you'd like to get a positive out of this, you're now very aware of your weakness at close quarters, so you can find ways to evade or mitigate said weakness.
No. 1042341 ID: 60dc15

Not really? I’m not sure charging in would have made much of a difference if she was still up and if your own and Nickel’s training couldn’t help you break the hold... well. Not much doing.

As far as I can tell the roof plan failed to do as it intended anyway - to disable her for a moment. Astrolysis has her monstrous toughness, now proven, and we now know how bad it would be to ever get in her range without a suitable countermeasure on hand.

Though... weirdly, you did seem to have disarmed her. Maybe she sacrificed her blade to split-counter your blast?

And, perhaps also, advisors of her own? I’m mildly sure when she held you that a couple of those voices weren’t ours. Orrr that could be a side effect of that thing you absorbed.

Though that might be the memories of who ‘you’ used to be. Did you dream that scene or was that just us?
No. 1042342 ID: 15c72a

We couldn't run. We had no map, Argine couldn't see where the walls were, so she was just going to stumble around and smack into things and maybe even get closer to Astrolysis. Our attempt to pin Astrolysis failed because it kicked up a stupid amount of dust and turned off the map. If it hadn't done both of those things, it would've worked. (in other words, the author screwed us over) Then after that, we lost because Argine picked the parts of our advice that worked worst together- staying put but not setting any traps. (in other words, the author screwed us over. I'm pretty sure the author decided we were going to lose as soon as we decided not to take the deal. Everything after that was Argine encouraging bad ideas and taking the worst parts of suggestions, along with a bit of godmoding on Astrolysis's side. but I also think it's clear at this point that the tournament doesn't matter. We're going to uncover some big secret about this place that's going to take over the plot and there's going to be a big confrontation that doesn't involve fighting Astrolysis again)
No. 1042343 ID: 60dc15

Choices and suggestions were made - and followed, to lesser or greater extent, which were all within reason. The final fight to come, if it comes, has been made harder, but we know more now how to counter Astrolysis. This is a setback, a disadvantage, and sometimes you end up with those. No need to be snippy - or guilty. The important thing is to learn, to grow.
No. 1042344 ID: b4f193

Partially, after all you should have the ability to improvise without our advice. Frankly, given how you did without our advice for a short period, you should probably reconsider our future removal. Disabling sure, but removal might be bad for your survival.

However, losing out on our advice at a crucial period was in no way expected.
We had options.
Summoning Plug. Slicing off her hand.
Should she have screwed with the summoning, solbursts.

Should the solburst fail, explosive knives directly to the arm would have no summoning issues, unlike Plug. Even if she kept her grip, you appear to be better at surviving explosions than hits to the head.

Probably had others, too.

Still, it is what it is, too late now.
No. 1042800 ID: 15a025

Whose at fault seems irrelevant. What is relevant is what you learned from this fight, and how you can try to adapt for when we have to fight her again in the finals.

Talk with Diagram a bit, find out about your current condition.
No. 1043138 ID: 73aaab
File 166255953206.png - (646.91KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X01.png )

Since the moment I woke up, my skull's full of noise. I can hardly hear what Diagram's saying, I can hardly hear myself think. I don't know if I want to.

>Yes. If you had taken the deal, you could've won.
I know. I just- her smug look and - ...I blew it. I thought I could take her out in one blow and I ruined my shot. Our shot.

>You did seem to have disarmed her. Maybe she sacrificed her blade to split-counter your blast?
It didn't matter in the end, did it? She beat the hell out of me, just like when you were first injected into me.
I guess even after all these days, I haven't changed at all.

Diagram speaks up, but I don't quite hear what she says. My eyes are on her, but I’m staring straight through her. Reality isn’t registering yet. Maybe it will later, maybe that’ll be worse.

>We had options. Partially, after all you should have the ability to improvise without our advice.
I tried. I tried to solve things my way, but that just got me a broken arm, another wasted card.
And now that we've lost, I’ve got nothing to show for it - I've done nothing but embarrass myself.

>You had so many possible options when you were grabbed. Why didn't you do anything?
I... I don't have an excuse there. She grabbed me, I tried to break free - but then I felt her fingers dig into my neck, I couldn't breathe, and I… wasn't strong enough.

>Frankly, given how you did without our advice for a short period, you should probably reconsider our future removal.
I don’t know. I was told that you were going to be something that corrected my behaviour, but I feel like I've done nothing but get myself into worse and worse situations ever since.

>You seem to have a learning disability, Argine. It will be difficult to become a hero when you can't adapt during combat without our direct advice.
Believe me, I know. What the hell is wrong with me? Screaming out for you to help when I was being dangled in the air like a toy. Why didn't I do anything when I could? I used to be better than this.
No. 1043139 ID: 73aaab
File 166255956684.png - (459.88KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X02.png )

>Maybe... you should consider not being a hero and instead search for a better dream.
What else is there for me?
This is all that I know. All that I’ve ever trained to be. But… I'm not good enough. Everyone else... everyone else here has always known that. Maybe I never had any chance.
Maybe I just haven't caught up.
They always said I was too stupid to understand.

"Why, Argine?"
Diagram. She's still here.

"I'm just... hearing what the SAI have to say. You don't have to listen. I’m alright.."
She turns away, but doesn't move from where she's standing.
Under my headache, I can feel something building.

"So, this is it, then? You're just going to give up?"
Diagram's expression is... different. Have I ever seen her like that before?

I can't even talk properly anymore.

"Did Astrolysis hit you so hard that you can't think? Maybe she's right for calling you a wirehead if you're going to do nothing but cry in bed!"
Her teeth grind against each other, a small creaking noise drifting into the darkness.
Oh. So that feeling... She turned off her suppressor.

"What's the point, Diagram? I lost. Just like last time. There's..."
I trail off. This is tiring.

"What the HELL, Argine? What's wrong with you? Why aren't you fighting back?"
There's... something under that frustration, that anger of hers. Hell if I know what it is though. Her anger's vibrant. It feels like... I've never seen Diagram angry at all before.

She doesn’t get it. It’s over, I’m done.
I let myself believe that I was good enough.
I wasn’t.

You guys were right about me. I should have listened.
No. 1043140 ID: dee951

Hey. Losses suck. And some of us are upset at ourselves, and lashing out at the only one present -- you. But there's hope. Being a hero is important. Not giving up is important. You aren't broken. Wounded in body, mind, and spirit, but not BROKEN. Be the person you want to be, and be your best self! Follow your dreams!
No. 1043143 ID: e51896

Yeah, you can't win them all. Losses are just ways to learn from your mistake, and you got stronger because of it.

What I'm more upset about is how your opponents treats you with disrespect because of your losses. Not cool.

Also, don't take all the blame, a lot of it was our fault too. Really, I think there's been a lot more of us showing up here, and things are getting pretty chaotic of what we're supposed to be doing, sometimes even arguing with each other to the point where there might not be a clear sense with what we're supposed to be doing...

So I propose a way for making things a bit more orderly for us... maybe like getting a voting system programmed in us, giving us a list of some recommended options we can take from A to D or more? of course we'll still talk to you, but I think this can give us a better way to keep things in order and clearer.

Ask Diagram about altering our mode, or upgrading us, tell her about our chaotic energy, and if she can give us some sort of voting system with recommended actions in any situation in place to keep things orderly.
No. 1043144 ID: a92be4

Whose ill-fortuned advice did you take when you stood still in the dust? You were certainly not alone in making a bad call or several there. As one might, in the fog of war, but you’re well within your rights to throw some shade back here.

Take our words with a pinch of salt when we give you a hard time. We’re none of us perfect arbiters of tactics or your suitability as warrior, hero, person, just lingering perspectives. Nor are we all giving you shit.

Are you really prepared to give up everything that motivated you because, oh no, you flinched and lost one match out of three?

You have things to do other than stewing in despair and self-recrimination. For one, it’s clearly driving Diagram up the wall. You owe her a bit of strength, at least, for helping you out this far.

Up and at ‘em, soldier.
No. 1043145 ID: ff3ac5

Looks like Astrolysis didn't just break your body, but also your will. Is it merely the news of being beaten, or does she have some ability to add soul-crushing to her punches?
No. 1043147 ID: e5709d

Well, I don't know what's wrong with you. But I don't know what's wrong with this whole facility either.

The fact is: you can't stop being a loser if you stay here. The way everyone around you has acted shows that any problems you have start with them.
They humiliated you.
They experimented on you.
They act like crushing your skull is manners.
Argine, get this through your head: this facility is Fucked. Up.
Whatever justification they have to keep you here falls short of the constant abuse and violence they tried to normalize in you. Everyone you've fought so far has been, in some way or another, a basket case of PTSD or megalomania. We've seen their memories, we know what we're talking about.
They keep blaming you for the crimes of your biological mother, a mother you've never met or heard about until this week. They created you to take the blame because they can't get over the fact that she's too dead to be punished. Perhaps they can't get over the fact that they created her, genetically and mentally, in the first place.
However you get out of this facility, you need to get out, you deserve to get out.
tl;dr: perhaps the reason you never improve is because this facility is too broken to realize it doesn't want its scapegoat to improve.
No. 1043154 ID: 15c72a

Learn from your mistakes.
No. 1043159 ID: 398700

since fucking when does one failure get to win? jesus CHRIST Argine, success is built on GETTING UP after a failure! Are you so weak you let it defeat you?

So you got cocky, so you couldn't break her choke, so you couldn't this that and the other thing. You KNOW you still could have won that. The cards didn't play in our favor, we fucked up a few times, but we STILL could have won that right up until the end.

Are you really going to give up over such a narrow loss?

Get up, learn from this.
We will win next time.
No. 1043166 ID: 8a0fb8

Okay, I thought of another thing.

Argine, you ARE a good fighter. You've worked a lot on your physical strength and training and made some good moves.

I think while your fighting skills is great, what you are right now havent been taking care of is your mental health. With almost everyone in the facility putting you down all your life here, and not getting any support to get you stronger, I think it has been putting a toll on you, and you've been carrying that weight until it nearly broke you right now.

What you need is support, mental exercises and relief. Unfortunately, there aren't any therapists here... but I think the closest that comes to mind is Nanoweaver. I really think you should talk to her as soon as possible, and talk to her about the mental damage from all the abuse you've been put through from everyone all your life

It's going to be tough to talk to her about it, but believe me, you will be stronger for it.

And yeah, you also got Diagram who wants you to keep moving. So here is what I also suggest: listen to what Diagram has to say to you, talk about what you went through to give her context of what you've been going through, she'll likely understand that all the abuse you went through caused something to break from that.

And then afterwards, it is highly important to ask her if she can bring Nanoweaver over here to talk to you about your mental health.
No. 1043197 ID: 515982

Welp, I guess you should prepare your resume and see if the base cafeteria is hiring.
No. 1043199 ID: deb8aa

>get myself into worse and worse situations ever since.
>I used to be better than this.
That is concerning. Perhaps a visit to Nanoweaver for some brain scans or some therapy is in order, see how things stack up compared to before we were inserted?

>What else is there for me?
Perhaps something to give some thought, once you are in a better headspace? If only so you have a plan for when there is no fighting to be done.

>Why aren't you fighting back?
Fighting back against what, specifically? Perhaps now it is time for some answers.

You'll bounce back soon enough, Argine. You are good at that.
No. 1043201 ID: 12b116

You can't just give up after a failure. You aren't even dead. Reach up and touch diagram's ear and ask why you're not dead. Astrolysis seems to have some genuine hatred for you, why didn't she kill us?
No. 1043214 ID: 2c3366

Hello, Diagram. It's so nice to talk to you finally. Could you please give Argine some ice-cream? She probably needs some positive reinforcement right Noe, more than your further pressure.
No. 1043438 ID: 15a025

You think Urza just gave up after a loss or two? No! Burn the ashes of defeat and rise up stronger from it Argine. Mistakes were made, but you can learn and adapt from them.
No. 1043503 ID: 6abda8

>What else is there for me?
No. 1043750 ID: 73aaab
File 166315790080.png - (1.51MB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X03.png )

>Hey. Losses suck. And some of us are upset at ourselves, and lashing out at the only one present -- you. But there's hope. Being a hero is important.
>Be the person you want to be, and be your best self! Follow your dreams!
Yeah. Like that's as easy as saying it.

To be a hero... the thing is that, losing is one of the worst things you can do. You can’t lose. But I guess that's why I'm not one yet.
If people are to respect me, I need to have that strength. If I don't have strength, then I may as well be worthless. That was always the kind of hero that I needed to be.
Strong, undefeatable. Someone like Urza. That's why I admired her and many other heroes from the past. They had enough respect for people to remember them.

>What I'm more upset about is how your opponents treats you with disrespect because of your losses. Not cool.
They don't treat me with respect because I haven't earned any. Losing to Astrolysis only makes that clearer.

>Looks like Astrolysis didn't just break your body, but also your will.
It wasn't just that. I... I lost just like I did ages ago, to my sister. Picked up, dangled, broken.
This time though, the only audience was you.

>Astrolysis seems to have some genuine hatred for you, why didn't she kill us?
Because she's got her own sense of honour. I guess... people just don't really die any more, not from fights like this. Astrolysis didn't need to kill me, because if I died - she wouldn't get to fight me again. I guess. She’s messed up. Maybe worse than me.

I exhale, the cold air around me making my fur stand on end.
Just, how could I? I screwed up, just failed. I let my pride get in the way, and then my skills just failed me..

>Are you really going to give up over such a narrow loss?
>Learn from your mistakes.
>Get up, learn from this.
>We will win next time.


Diagram speaks up again.
"Argine... Argine, listen to me. You shouldn't do this to yourself - you've still got two more fights. It’s not over, not until the end."

She's not wrong, none of you are, but... I don't think it's getting through my skull. My body's screaming at me to just lie down and forget about it, give up.

But I can't do that, not yet.
No. 1043751 ID: 73aaab
File 166315791845.png - (783.93KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X04.png )

>The fact is: you can't stop being a loser if you stay here. The way everyone around you has acted shows that any problems you have start with them.
...It's true. I can't stay here.
If I... if I just lie here, I won't get anywhere. Even though they told me that they were just going to let me go free… No, I don't believe them.

I don't want to be here forever.

Diagram pulls up a chair, sitting by my bedside. Her expression's different now, and I get the feeling she's sorry for shouting at me.

>You have things to do other than stewing in despair and self-recrimination. For one, it’s clearly driving Diagram up the wall. You owe her a bit of strength, at least, for helping you out this far.

Diagram... she's helped me out so much. I let her down too. I can't blame her for getting angry.
But, in spite of that, she's still supporting me. She didn't just leave in disgust at my weakness.

>Up and at ‘em, soldier.
...Roger that.

My body aches, but I try to sit up a bit straighter. Even if I screwed up, and as much as I hate it - what's done is done. You're right, I can still make a difference.
I just hope I can get strong enough to tear victory from their hands.

Diagram flicks her suppressor on again. I guess she was listening in, for a little moment.
The pounding anger fades - and I'm left with the pain in my body, unfiltered.
"Argine, they're right. This isn't the time to give up." She leans over my bed, hands in her lap.
"For me... there was something that happened a long time ago. I... I gave up on it. Gave up on pursuing it. The circumstances weren't right. And for a long time, I felt like I let someone really close to me down. That I should have done more. But..." She looks off into the darkness.
"I think, lately - I saw something that reminded me of how I felt back then. And I don't want to make the same mistake again I did back then."

I get the feeling like she's keeping something from me - but, this time... she hadn't talked to us in my head. I guess she was worried about me.

"Same with you, Argine. I think - even if you ended up losing this time, it's better that you tried - and to keep trying. Even if there's some things we can't control, or if we made bad decisions, what's important is how we adapt."

Adapt, huh? Heard the same thing in training, but I guess I never really understood. The Combat Handbook might tell you how to win, but it doesn’t include a chapter on living with defeat. I’m gonna have to get used to this feeling. It’ll be hard, going to sleep every night knowing I lost this bad. Twice. It’ll be harder to get out of bed with that on my shoulders. But if I don’t, I’m just another casualty. If I fight, and lose, at least I lose knowing I didn’t curl up and take it.
No. 1043752 ID: 73aaab
File 166315794063.png - (685.90KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X05.png )

>You'll bounce back soon enough, Argine. You are good at that.
We'll see how it goes. Can't say I'm feeling great, but I can’t say I’m dead either.
I can sort through these feelings later.

"Diagram, it's... I feel like the SAI's doing something to me. I don't quite feel like myself any more. It's like something about me's changing the longer I have them in my bloodstream.

She looks surprised. "What? But... I thought the SAI shouldn't be able to do anything like that." A dark expression crosses her face for a moment.
"But..." Her ears flop around as she shakes her head. It's kinda cute.

>Reach up and touch diagram's ear.
What? That's sudden! …maybe later.

She puts on a strained smile.
"I'll look into it Argine. But - no matter what happens, we'll figure it out, alright?"

I'm not sure I feel like myself, getting multiple head injuries probably doesn't help, but... I trust Diagram. I know that she's going to help, however she can.

>I propose a way for making things a bit more orderly for us... maybe like getting a voting system programmed in us, giving us a list of some recommended options we can take from A to D or more? Of course we'll still talk to you, but I think this can give us a better way to keep things in order and clearer.

I don't know how possible that is - I mean, it feels like the stuff housing you is unstable. Should we really be poking around in there? Feels like there's features and functionality we don't even know about, or haven't used again.
I can't deny that you've helped me out a lot, even if you make mistakes. I do too..
There's too many things we don't know about how SAIs work and I get the feeling that Diagram and Nanoweaver don't quite know everything either - but...
What Amica said about Nanoweaver...
No. 1043753 ID: 73aaab
File 166315796087.png - (218.84KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X05point5.png )

>And then afterwards, it is highly important to ask Diagram if she can bring Nanoweaver over here to talk to you about your mental health.

Besides the... things that Amica brought up last time, there's other reasons I don't want to talk to Nanoweaver about this.
I don't want to put that burden on her. I feel like a little brat fresh out of the Cradle whenever I do.
Besides, we just talked a few days ago - it doesn't feel right to go back to her like a crying child. I’m not gonna bother her about it.

>Why not talk to Judicium?

Wh- Judicium? I... I don't know. I guess it's not the worst idea, but - would she even want to hear me out? It's like there was two sides to her. Kindness, and callousness. It's true that she was nice to me to begin with, but... I don't know if I want to seem weak in front of her. She was one of my opponents, even if I won against her.

I don't know if I should turn to her for help or not. Isn't she one of our enemies?
No. 1043762 ID: 8deae4

>She’s messed up. Maybe worse than me.
I do wonder what was going through her head after the end of the fight. Perhaps you can ask her at a later date? Might prove interesting.

>I’m not gonna bother her about it.
I suppose we shall grieve together over this decision at a later date.

>Isn't she one of our enemies?
Did the Combat Handbook say there are only two kinds of people, Argine? Friend or Enemy?
Did your recent talk with Judicium not end on quite amicable terms? With her even delcaring you two were no longer opponents?

Find a moment to speak with Judicium, Argine. It might do you some good.
No. 1043763 ID: 12b116

The world isn't clearly separated into enemies and allies. It's a lot more complex than that. Just because somebody doesn't get along as well doesn't just make them an enemy
No. 1043769 ID: 8483cf

This is an excellent time for character growth. Fighters fight enemies well, but the best soldiers know when enemies can become, if not allies, something different.
No. 1043770 ID: 9a2966

>a hero has to be perfect, unbeatable
That's... one perspective. There's a reason you have an entire hall of heroes, though. More'n one kind.

>I let her down
You'd only let Diagram down by losing your hope and motivation, I think. Don't worry your sleep about it - and further: you didn't lose that hard. If you still doubt yourself, then go get verified just how on the ropes Astrolysis was when she got you. Where was her vaunted blade? Could she really have held up to that much more punishment if you'd been the one to catch her off guard rather than the reverse? From how you described your match with your sister, you hardly scratched her.

Astrolysis, at least, was banged up when she got you.

>Something about me's changing
Hm. Everyone changes, especially when young and learning. Technically though, you have one-and-a-half SAI in you right now. Might be the unborn SAI is doing something to you that Diagram and Nanoweaver did not intend. What do you feel in particular has changed if you try to pin it down? Did it begin yesterday, or earlier?

>aren't we enemies?
People may oppose your wishes, but that does not make them enemies per se - not in the way you imagine, at least. We know something else is going on here. The cryptic remarks and the deadline Ozone mentioned. Nanoweaver's insistence you get to have this tournament in the first place. How everyone's coy or cryptic about the past. It really must be said, many of the people here have a sort-of history with the Trace Clone you originated from - and/or a history with who you are now that seems very informed by that past.

>Visit J
Judicium already (cryptically) told you of her motivation in raising and fighting you - that she wanted to see you grow "in all the ways that matter". She does seem to treat you like your own person, even as someone to take pride in, weirdly, so in that sense going to meet her - and, well, grouse about your loss and that of your costume - makes sense. Maybe ask her if the 'growing' you're doing is heading in the right direction.

>Visit N
There's still Nickel, too. She was your opponent, but she still gave you training and a gun. Might even have things to say about how we messed up against Astrolysis, or what could have been done better. Embarrassing things no doubt, but if they cut true... well. Lessons to learn. And she did have to offer her apologies for the last training mess-up. You coming back for round two might surprise her. Given the results of your match though, you could certainly argue you want more training.

>Visit A
Astrolysis herself gave you a neat sword, and an offer to - sorta - go easy, which is worth thinking about. We can't say whether that was truly sincere - though Astrolysis doesn't really seem the type to go for petty tricks - but you did give her a run for her money despite her well-earned confidence. And you still possess Plug, so... that's a thing you owe her, in a way.

Another thing: for the final match, would your sister be inclined to let you propose a one-on-one duel against Astrolysis, like originally desired? You might be able to split them then, take care of Astrolysis first and not have to deal with both at the same time. You just... actually gotta get good enough to beat her in melee, which is where training more with Nickel might be useful. Yeah. Maybe that's a hard sell. But you could still ask Astro whether she was sincere about her offer - whether she still wants that - when you see her again.

Did you witness a scene with a younger Astrolysis and what I presume must be your sickly Trace Clone? It was a brief glimpse we got, but it seems they were indeed friends when younger. I half suspect it's a trace memory we cohered from that unborn SAI - who knows whose perspectives went into that - since that'd be the first we've seen of them so far, but it may just have been the intense encounter with Astrolysis that dragged it out. Perspective seemed to be from her end, anyway.

If you do remember, perhaps your fears about changing may not be unwarranted. It'd be a perspective shift to recall, say, being another person with any amount of clarity. Though, keep in mind - you're still the you of today. Scattered memories of the past doesn't need to change that - it can inform, but not control. Just like us Sykes, really. I hope you're getting better at filtering us when needed, by the way.

>Diagram is still here
If you care that she's stuck by you, you could offer thanks again, y'know. And hey, get the goss - anybody get up to something worth talking about while you were out?

Ah, and how long WERE you out, actually?
No. 1043792 ID: 15c72a

None of us said anything about Judicium. That was something else. Once more, an anomaly. Talking to Judicium isn't a bad idea though. She is NOT one of your enemies. All the hurt she's caused was because she was following orders. She was ordered to be strict, and so she was. You know that now. Aside from that, she obviously cares about you, and you've defeated her so she's out of the tournament. I'm sure she's still limited in what support she can give, but you can count on her to give you emotional support and guidance.

Also, I don't think we're changing you directly. Your experiences, and the revelations you're uncovering, are what's changing you. Also, the social exposure. We're talking to you, supporting you, debating with you, nudging you into trying new things. Surely at the very least, finding out that Judicium didn't betray you is helping heal some of your trauma, and that kind of healing is a transformative experience for sure.
No. 1043844 ID: dee951


Maybe the anomalies that are also giving suggestions that we aren't, are changing her more directly? Who the fuck knows!
No. 1043883 ID: 30b9f6

All we could do is inform Argine which voices are, well, anomalies... "Anoms?" - anyway, that, and which are "Sykes" and then see if they're actually helpful, or if they carry some specific agenda or whatnot. Don't like that they were throwing poor suggestions during Astrolysis' taking out of Argine, but maybe they're still coming into their own. The suggestion to talk to Judicium wasn't bad in and of itself, note.

It is what it is now unless we can get Diagram and Nanoweaver to intervene, so I don't think we should start long conversations or suggestion wars with them. That'd get annoying fast, but we might ask: Hello! Can you hear and understand us at all? Do you see the difference between your voices and ours, and that of our charge?

If so, welcome to existence, such as it is.
No. 1044045 ID: 15a025

I think talking with Judicium might be a good idea. It might be good to get some thoughts and perspectives from those outside your main friend circle.
No. 1044387 ID: 73aaab
File 166380717144.png - (465.85KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X06.png )

>None of us said anything about Judicium.

What? Then who the hell IS saying that?

>All we could do is inform Argine which voices are, well, anomalies... "Anoms?" - anyway, that, and which are "Sykes" and then see if they're actually helpful, or if they carry some specific agenda or whatnot.

It sounded just like another normal voice to me, guys. It doesn't really matter if someone's got it out for me in your swarm or not - hell, when we first met, a good chunk of you had nothing to say but stupid shit. I don't really see the difference here.

>I'm wounded. After we've had a nice chat, even after I explained myself during the previous fight, the lot of you already forgot my presence? Not that it makes any difference - I'm just another voice in her head.

>Also, I don't think we're changing you directly. Your experiences, and the revelations you're uncovering, are what's changing you. Also, the social exposure.
>Maybe the anomalies that are also giving suggestions that we aren't, are changing her more directly?
I'm not so sure about that.
I get that parts of me ARE changing because of your influence, but that wasn't quite what I was getting at.

I meant... how there's things I shouldn't be forgetting. Feeling like I need to wait for your command. Is all of that just my own weakness, or is there something else going on?
I wouldn't know.
But it doesn't quite feel right.

>I think talking with Judicium might be a good idea.
>Did your recent talk with Judicium not end on quite amicable terms? With her even delcaring you two were no longer opponents?
>The world isn't clearly separated into enemies and allies.
>Fighters fight enemies well, but the best soldiers know when enemies can become, if not allies, something different.
>It might do you some good.

I... yeah. I can't just keep hiding, can I? And with that past scene, after I fought Judicium and found out what she actually said that day...
I don't know how I feel about her. She's technically not an opponent - hell, both Nickel and even Astrolysis, they've talked to me even when I was going to be one of their opponents.

...Even if it’s some kind of weird SAI splinter in the back of my head, I guess it's not a bad idea to talk with her anyway.
There's... something that comes to mind, something I want to talk about. I want to bring it up to her. Nothing's gonna change if I don't see her though.
Finally, I muster up my energy and fire.

"Hey Diagram..."

Diagram looks up, breaking the silence that was starting to settle between us.
"Please... can you go and talk to Judicium? Get her to meet me in four hours, at the Hall of Heroes. I want to talk to her then."

She smiles awkwardly again, standing from her seat. "O-oh! Okay, sure thing, Argine! Just hang on a sec, I'll go get her! But... are you sure you'll be fine?"

I wave it off. "I got better from being shot in the head in less time. I'll be fine, even if I'm hurting right now."
She nods, turning around.

Diagram stops, looking back.
"Could you also... get me something to eat? I'm starving."
There's a pause. "And uh, thanks for watching over me."

Finally - that unsure expression of her's gone, replaced by a genuine smile. There's a nod of acknowledgement and -
With that, Diagram's off.

...I feel like there's something on her mind as well, but unlike her, I can't see how she's feeling when she's got that suppressor of hers on.
No. 1044388 ID: 73aaab
File 166380720055.png - (690.59KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X07ALT.png )

The bed under me's growing a little uncomfortable. I can't wait until I get out of here.
I'm left alone with my thoughts - but there's still things to take into account.

>Another thing: for the final match, would your sister be inclined to let you propose a one-on-one duel against Astrolysis, like originally desired?
Possibly. How did the saying go again? Something about counting birds from eggs? But I’m not sure how birds are supposed to grow from powder… Point is, we don't know what the situation will be until we get there. For all we know, I could screw up and lose again -
But I'm going to try my damnedest to win in all my fights.
It's... all I can do.

>Did you witness a scene with a younger Astrolysis and what I presume must be your sickly Trace Clone?

Yeah... yeah I did.
I don't know who that other person is. Never seen her around before, myself. As far as I know, Astrolysis never hung around anyone but Nickel, so that's kinda weird.
...Shit. We could have asked Diagram about this, couldn't we? She's been around since before I was born, right?
And now she's gone.

Speaking of that... other SAI, I've hidden it away in my own room. I wasn't just going to lug that thing around with me and I didn't have anywhere else to hide it.
So far, all these flashbacks, they're from the perspective of the person who I fought prior, right? But then there's additional scenes that you, Sykes, are seeing that I don't get to. I don't know what's going on, but there has to be a difference to these.

What's more... I'm thinking back to when we first met Amica. In the office.
She told us that one of the people closest to me was lying to me.
We never believed her at the time but... can I really say so confidently that she's wrong now?
Both Diagram and Nanoweaver - they do seem to be hiding something too. Amica said that she was my sister or something - but Nanoweaver never answered me about that.
Ironically, even though I was Judicium's opponent, she's been one of the people who HAS been upfront with me, later than she should have, but still.
Just what's going on in this facility?

>Would you be partial to seeing Astrolysis?
>I do wonder what was going through her head after the end of the fight.
Even if I'm left like this, it's true that she's someone who I could talk to. But what even is there for us to talk about? The best moments of getting my ass kicked?

>If you still doubt yourself, then go get verified just how on the ropes Astrolysis was when she got you.
>Where was her vaunted blade?
Hrm. I don't know what goes on in that head of hers, but... if anything, beating the tar outta each other's kind of a standard bonding exercise around here. I just don't like it when my freedom's on the line. She's not wagering anything of her own - I'm the only person with anything especially significant to lose.

>What about Nickel?
>She was your opponent, but she still gave you training and a gun.
...I've never heard her laugh, but I wouldn't be surprised if she mocks me for screwing up the literal technique she taught me, specifically to break holds made on me by larger opponents.
I feel like Nickel had to develop that technique for herself out of necessity - no matter the magic powers you have, being crushed by someone who's three times larger than you's a ridiculous disadvantage. At least guns make for an effective equalizer.

>You coming back for round two might surprise her. Given the results of your match though, you could certainly argue you want more training.
We'll consider it when I'm deciding who to target next tomorrow.


Time passes. My body aches less. Diagram got me a curvefruit when I was waiting. It'll do. I'll grab dinner for myself later, after I'm done seeing Judicium.
But I'm not going to show up looking like I was crushed under a slab of cement.
No. 1044389 ID: 73aaab
File 166380722257.png - (438.28KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X08.png )

The bandage strips gather in the bowl of the sink, having turned maroon from the time it's been wrapped around my head.
Feels like the scent of antiseptic's gone and made a home for itself in my fur.

Flecks of dried blood float off as I comb through my fur with wet claws. There’s still a ringing in my head, but what’s more immediately apparent is just how sore everything feels.
But even if there's some lingering pain in my body, I'm not going to let that stop me.

I'm going to see this through.
No. 1044390 ID: 15c72a

>Feeling like I need to wait for your command
Okay, that's probably us. Up to you if you think that's a good thing or not. Definitely something to bring up with Judicium, since she was partially responsible for our installation.
The other possibility is that you were designed to take orders, and we're the first thing that you've accepted as tactical command. In that case, it's not that you're changing, it's that hidden parts of you are being revealed.
No. 1044391 ID: e5709d

>I can't see how she's feeling when she's got that suppressor of hers on.
You know, that's actually a good point. How much of her bubbly exterior is really her, and how much is her on suppression steroids?
Long story short, we have memories of someone, a Neumono named Luvi, whose brain was forcefully rewired so thoroughly that they became pure of heart - to the point of sociopathy.
"Isn't life in the ghetto just wonderful?!"
"I got fired, but it's okay! How may I help?"
"Lieutenant, please stop caving Mac's throat in! Let's be friends!"
People talk big about the power of politeness and positive personality, but when it comes down to it, a mind incapable of indulging inner demons is one which enables and serves other people's inner demons instead.
Also, if you ever find Luvi's 'family', please shoot those assholes. Multiple times. (They gots regen.)

>I meant... how there's things I shouldn't be forgetting. Feeling like I need to wait for your command. Is all of that just my own weakness, or is there something else going on?
Honestly, I figured it was the frequent brain damage you put yourself through that is causing all of this.
Did you know that all blunt physical trauma causes brain damage? The only way to perfectly protect your neural structure would be to ward your central nervous system against physical shockwaves - which is a buff you definitely do not have. Professional Athletes and soldiers who constantly smash into other heavy objects on a regular basis can develop serious mental illnesses even if they've never hit their head in their entire lives.
And you had the contents of your skull compromised twice. This week.

You need to take care of yourself, Argine. Tozol regeneration was naturally selected because it kept the species alive. It did not need to keep them sane.

>What do
First up, work with Plug.
Our lack of confidence on what could have been a straight-up swordfight was because of our own hours of combat training. We remember little, but there's something I've learned: if you are armed with just a standard sword with standard skills against an opponent who is physically bigger, has a higher endurance, and knows more about area-of-denial melee skills than you know about making stabs hurt, you're going to die. Repeatedly.

If we got our hands on Plug earlier, experimented with it, maybe this fight could have gone differently. We would have been more willing to unleash a sword in battle if we were certain that you knew more than 'swing and stab the long combat knife'.
No. 1044396 ID: 12b116

Make sure to thank Diagram and maybe sneak a touch of her soft velvety succulent ears
No. 1044428 ID: e51896

Deep breaths, you got this, hero.
No. 1044668 ID: 15a025

Make sure to thank Diagram for helping out.
No. 1044821 ID: 73aaab
File 166419473483.png - (554.80KB , 1000x1000 , CHP3X09.png )

>Make sure to thank Diagram later!
I will.

>Maybe sneak a touch of her soft velvety succulent ears...
...Amica's putting some weird ideas in your heads.

The walk to the Hall of Heroes from the medbay feels a bit different. But it gives me plenty of time to discuss with you, Sykes.

>Just how much of Diagram is really her, and how much of her is being suppressed?
I... hate to say it, but I don't think I actually know as much about Diagram as I once thought I did. It was only a dozen days ago or so that I found out she has a DAD at all! And now there's all this talk about her having a twin sister or whatever, I can't help but feel like I'm only genuinely getting to know her now. I don't know how that makes me feel - I thought we were fairly good friends or something - but am I really that much of a friend to her if she never chose to let me know about things as important as that until I came across something relevant?

>If we got our hands on Plug earlier, experimented with it, maybe this fight could have gone differently.
I'm sure swordfighting's going to be real useful against two people who aren't literally blind. Besides, I already know enough to make it functional - I'd rather flesh out my inventory, or develop skills that have more application - like the skills Nickel taught me that I failed to apply.

>Regeneration keeps you alive - it doesn't keep you sane.
You've got a point there but - is that really the case? Again, I really should be dead by now if things worked like they did 'in the past'. If I can literally survive getting my brain shot through and not forget anything, just what am I losing?

>There's a possibility that you were designed to take orders, and we're the first thing that you've accepted as tactical command. In that case, it's not that you're changing, it's that hidden parts of you are being revealed.
I don't like this idea. If that was the case, then what the hell happens when I DO get rid of you at the end of all of this? Am I just going to be braindead, unable to decide anything for myself? That's awful.

Argh, it's just - I'm going to take matters into my own hands.
Pushing the door open, I'm back in this familiar place. I breathe in and almost sneeze. Dustier and dustier.
Feels like I'm making more and more trips down here of late. I'm usually the one to arrange 'em though, so maybe it's just the state of things and the things I have to say to other people.

It's dark out, so I guess I've been resting for a while. Tomorrow, I'm going to have to get back to business.
What's more is - it's cold. I don't think I've been in the Hall of Heroes this late, though Judicium sitting around probably makes this place even colder. It's the kind of cold that pierces right through your fur. You can't feel it, but, when you're a Trace Clone, all of us have shorter fur. Something about not shedding too much, I don't remember the details. But it means nights like these freeze my tail off.
I pull my jacket up a bit tighter, but it doesn't do me much good. I should just get to Judicium, talk to her and go.
No. 1044822 ID: 73aaab
File 166419479609.png - (517.13KB , 1000x1000 , BenchTogether.png )

And there she is, sitting there. The air grows chillier still, like she's got her Parasignia on just in case.
I notice a case by the bench, a short distance away from where she's sitting - but she doesn't seem to acknowledge it as I walk past.

I take a seat beside her, but she seems fixated on the memorial ahead - Urza's spear. At night, the atmosphere of the hall changes - it's no longer like a sparkling memorial hall of the people who came before, but... something sadder. I don't quite know why.
"Why did you choose this place, Argine?"

There's almost a slight smile on her face. I wonder if she finds me losing amusing. But that wasn't what I was expecting for her first question. Maybe I thought she was going to poke fun at me, for actually losing.
"Because there's things I wanted to ask you about all of this. About... why everyone fights."

Whenever we start a duel in this place, we always declare our allegiance, to one thing or another. But when I fought Astrolysis, she cast that aside. I don't think I've seen anyone else do that before. And that dream I had, about her past - just who even was that other clone? Was she the one Nanoweaver brought up before, the one who I was supposed to take after?

"We all have our own meaning of what a hero is, Argine. We fight to put our ideals into reality. All of us who remain in the facility are the same - we were created to be soldiers, though what we truly idolize are heroes." Her voice floats through the lonely hall - loud enough that all the heroes can hear it, but gentle enough that she isn't shouting.

"We all follow our own ideal of a hero - how they dress, how they fight... even those of us who don't say we admire any of the given heroes, they still have their own ideal of a hero that they pursue. One of the most common reasons people become heroes is because they fight to protect others."

I snort.
"Yeah, right. What about cases like Ozone, or Astrolysis? For all I know, they may as well be crazier than I've ever been. What kind of people do they fight for?"
I say that... but as the words leave my mouth, the image of Astrolysis sitting in that grassy field alongside someone I've never known comes to mind again. Just who was that?

Judicium doesn't seem too unsettled.
"There's no contradiction there. Heroism comes in a lot of different forms, Argine. I thought you'd know, considering your own reasoning for being a hero is fairly unusual."

"Eh. No way - doing things for recognition is one of the most common reasons for being a hero out there. Why all these statues, why the medals? From what I've seen in my textbooks, a lot of the old heroes were paraded around so that the civilians would have something to believe in. How's that not recognition?"

I get the feeling like I struck a nerve - even though her expression doesn't change, Judicium's eyes... change a little. I don't think I'd have caught it, but... like I said before, it feels like there's something changing about me. I'm not sure I like it.

"Even if heroes are often associated with reputation, of good deeds... not everyone desires the spotlight. Some simply wish to live a quiet life after they've done what they have to do."

Some of this feels familiar. I'm taken back to when I first had that argument with my sister here. That felt like ages ago. With how much shit happens every day here, I'm finding it hard to actually keep track of everything.
"But what's the point of a quiet life if what you're good for is fighting? Wouldn't you lose any meaning in your life when that fighting's done?"
Maybe the solution to that is to just keep finding new places to fight in. To make yourself known. That's a long term kind of goal.

"One benefit to leading a quiet life is that you have the time to find something else that means the world to you. Something else to fight for - maybe not with guns and knives, but with new tools altogether." New tools? Something else to fight for? I can't say I can see eye to eye with her.

"I still fight for myself. But I wasn't strong enough to accomplish it... this time." Even though we've just talked through it a few hours ago, the pain of losing is still fresh. It's not going to just vanish after a snack and removing some bandages.

I remember once in class - they told us part of why we get sore after we exercise is because we're actually tearing our muscles in the process. The next day when our body repairs those tears, they come back stronger. That's how you build up strength.
Even then... I'm not sure the fact's gotten through to me yet.

"The question is what you'll do, now that you've lost."
Onto the big topics, huh.
No. 1044823 ID: 73aaab
File 166419485087.png - (718.09KB , 1000x1000 , BenchTalk.png )

I consider bringing up you and the changes to Judicium, but... she's one of the people who put you in me to begin with, even if Diagram and Nanoweaver coordinated some things behind the scenes to ensure that it would actually benefit me. I'm still not sure I have the full picture here. I hate being led around like this, but I can't show my hand now - I don't know if I CAN trust Judicium yet. So we'll keep chatting away.

"Still got two more sector bosses to go before I deal with the big one."
It's what we've already talked about before. I've got a bit more direction than before, but...

"How do you feel about all of this?" She's asking me these questions like she's trying to play therapist.

I shoot her a look. "Frustrated, of course. I'm fighting for my freedom here. Every loss I take is stacking the odds against me in the final fight. But I'm not going to lose any more."

Again, she just crosses her arms like none of this is a surprise to her. "How do you plan on doing that?"

These questions are starting to irritate me. "To change... I guess. Get better gear, plan things out more, train more..."

"You don't sound especially sure of yourself. Are you changing the right parts of yourself, Argine?"

"Hey, I was the one who invited you here. Why am I the one being interrogated?"

"You didn't specify what we were talking about. I figured this may as well be... an exchange of ideas. I'm interested in what you have to say as well, Argine."

All this, we're talking about makes me wonder: is change really something for the best? People can change for the worse, so celebrating it all the time isn't the best choice either.
I feel like there's a lot of changes that ARE happening to me, as I said earlier. Maybe it's just exposing parts of myself that I've never gotten to know until now. But it could also be something much worse, something that people like her hadn't accounted for when I got the SAI put in me to begin with.

I mean, all of you HAVE talked about what I'll be doing if- WHEN I escape this place. Like learning about medicine, or finding some other kind of thing to do besides heroing around the place. Judicium's brought it up just then too. Would I even be able to experience things like that if things keep changing around me? What if one of those changes locks me out of something I want down the line that I don't even know about yet?

I'm not quite sure what to say to her. It feels like all these questions are leading me down somewhere I'm not sure I want to go.
There's questions I don't even want to think about floating in the back of my mind and I'm not sure trusting her with it is something I want to go through with.
No. 1044827 ID: 398700

worth noting, that paralysis of choice is yet another decision you make, and it closes off perhaps the most doors of them all the longer it goes on.

Missed opportunity is an inevitability, but as sad as that is, the inverse is also true. More opportunities for change, positive and negative, will always exist so long as you let them.

All that aside, you're asking us to think for you here, which you do want to avoid. We can offer encouragements, perhaps even argue with your conclusions, but I don't think it's appropriate in this moment to answer for you.
No. 1044843 ID: e5709d

>I'm sure swordfighting's going to be real useful against two people who aren't literally blind.
Argine, most soldiers don't have magic superpowers.
You can merge your sword with guns. You can hide it in your hammerspace. You can attach supernatural mods to it.
Train. In. Swordcraft.

>Whenever we start a duel in this place, we always declare our allegiance, to one thing or another. But when I fought Astrolysis, she cast that aside.
Some people don't have an allegiance. Even to themselves.

>doing things for recognition is one of the most common reasons for being a hero out there
Eh, you're not wrong.
... But those kinds of statues may as well be hollow.

>Quiet life
Argine, some soldiers, they... they've seen too much. Made the wrong choices. Reached a breaking point. Leaped past it.
At that point, the most 'heroic' thing they can do is keep their memetic bomb-omb asses away from the public before they drag civilians into their madness.
Some kill themselves. Some need be locked in the nuthouse. And some... some become Lords.
And then we realize we should have just let the villains win.

>"The question is what you'll do, now that you've lost."
>Onto the big topics, huh.
"Failure is not an option - it is mandatory. The option is whether or not to let failure be the last thing you do."
-Maxim 70 of the [DATA CORRUPTED]

>is change really something for the best?
It's a matter of mixing change with consistence. Some things are meant to stay the same, others are meant to change.
As a paragon, it will be your job to protect the former while encouraging the latter. How you go about this is a matter of creativity.
Corruption has this horrible tendency to change that which is sacred for the purpose of halting the development of that which needs to have been something better two generations ago. It's a force that opposes the flow of change of the common majority for the sake of the elite minority.
Death is what happens when consistency xor change becomes an almighty tyrannical god in your life.
No. 1044855 ID: 8483cf
File 166424183602.png - (5.70KB , 300x300 , Goalllllll.png )

Clean, clear water flows and shifts. Stagnant water is full of toxins, gunk, and disease. Change is natural and keeps the world healthy.

Don't be afraid of change locking you out of something. If a particular goal ends up being important to you later, it'll be obvious sooner rather than later.

Think of it this way: You have a vague idea of what you need to do, and what will help. If you head in the general direction of that goal, great! You won't know what direction to go in to get straight there, but as long as you keep moving forward and adjust course each time, you're a little closer.
No. 1044862 ID: 9a2966

>after I explained myself during the previous fight
>Not that it makes any difference
I recall now. I also remember there may indeed be a difference. 'Worse to come' if heard, no? Though a conversation with Judicium hardly seems it.

If you don't feel like you really know her that well, there's an easy way to fix it: ask her more about her life when you get the chance.

Well... you know for sure Astrolysis wanted that duel. If she still does, you can bait her out into a solo match prior to the main show with your sister, but then you will have to cross blades. Getting good would be useful in that regard, at least.

>regeneration doesn't keep you sane
>is that really true?
Getting killed over and over is unlikely to be healthy for anyone's mental state, but in this case I'd say the risks are low. You're as sane as they come as far as I can see, just frustrated, at times unsure of yourself and afraid of being of no utility (you are and will be, don't worry) and in others' shadow, all pretty normal 'person trying to find their place in the world' stuff. Of course, you being or becoming unstable surely is the fear of some of those around you - harken back to what Ozone said.

As far as those people are concerned, if rather than some last-minute addition, you are instead a state-of-the-art being, the result of the process that has made literal supersoldiers, and also came to produce intelligent SAIs like Amica who could take out those supersoldiers, you might just be considered a sturdy, long-lived individual who will grow in power and potency as you come into your own... while being excessively hard to put in place, and already having evidenced instability. Worry may stem from this, regardless of the actual truths of it all.

>designed to take orders
Tosh. You managed to become an individual before we ever entered the picture, and you're asking the right questions and having concerns re: your own individuality, which is a very good way to prove you still got some. We've also noted that you hear us less when you're comfortably doing your own thing, living, chatting, not being in a tense mood or mode, so that's a promising sign.

>Unusual reason to be a Hero
Judicium may more be getting at that seeking to be a hero for recognition may not be very heroic in and of itself. It can lead to worthy heroic acts, sure, but people who ambitiously are into 'being better known and liked' might take decidedly non-heroic shortcuts to get there. Or get real mad when people don't give them the recognition they feel they deserve. It's a somewhat selfish motivation for a hero - which can still be fine, but it comes more from a place of 'for the good of me' than 'for the good that is needed'.

>hit a nerve
>I don't think I'd caught it before
So are you learning how to be empathetic or is this something else? You could just be getting to know Judicium better.

>wat do if only good at fighting
>maybe the point is to find new fights
Nothing wrong with embracing a new and worthy cause, but you could also find things to do when you're not fighting. Getting 'good' at something is usually a matter of effort invested, after all. How many things have you tried to get good at that weren't fighting or fight-adjacent?

>Is change for the best?
Changes happens and then we deal. All we can do is hope to deal well, and steer our personal transformations towards what we may hope is better.

>Not sure I can trust her
You don't have to open your heart to everyone about all that's going on - but you can peek the door, see what happens. Time is running out, after all.

>Exchange of ideas
Mention one thing you're changing is your approach to others around you. You're seeking out alternative opinions more - other perspectives, not just the SAI voices.

Tell Judy about the battle with Astrolysis - you did so for your fight against Nickel, after all, so do it again here. Describe your approach, warts and all, sans the cards that still remain your hidden ace. And ask: how would she have resisted panicking when met with an unforeseen setback? You had tools at your disposal - the gloves, Nickel's training - to make a go, but... things went the way they did.

>What else
Can Judy go more into how her power works? You know you're not gonna fight her again, it's just more... exchanging ideas. It's pretty cold here, for example - could she reverse that, using her power? You're all about descontructing and reconfiguring stuff with your own power, so it seems weird that she couldn't just opposite day it a bit if she wanted.

>What else
Tidbits you've discovered could be dropped to see how Judicium reacts to it.

- Like how there's a reason Astrolysis calls you wirehead - it's what the techs once called you that; why would they do so? Have you actually got literal wires in your head?
- Like Ozone's interest in trinkets from the past, what with that ceremonial blade you found for her; where did this stem from?
- Like how Nickel seems like she's both got it in for you and somehow not. What reason would she have to lose her cool at you?
- Like Amica's nursing a grudge against Nanoweaver, seems

And finally, there's only one person here you've hardly approached since the start and that's Mnemosyne. At this rate you might not meet her before your fight at all. Shouldn't you?
No. 1044866 ID: 15c72a

Say what you want to say.
No. 1044872 ID: dee951


Yea, I would definitely suggest you learn a few different styles of swordfighting. Or at least learn ABOUT a few, enough to synthesize your own style. Appropriate styles would be anything involving the use of the Dao, Saber, Scimitar, Messer, Cutlass, Tulwar, or Wakizashi. Any short, one handed, curved, single edged swords, to match your actual weapon.

Though it's a pity you got a short sword. To me, you feel like more of a two handed spear kind of person. Those are more a soldier's primary weapon (range is everything! range keeps you alive!), not a pistol-analog like that ludicrously small sword, and better for one on one duels besides. And a Partisan or Boar Spear (anything with lugs or side protrusions) would help keep some of these crazy people away from you. And 'two handed spearfighting' skills would transfer to fighting with a bayonet affixed to a rifle.

Though, hmmm. Maybe you could convert your sword to a Naginata/Guandao/Woldo/Sovnya/Glaive equivalent? You have a lot of weird gear abilities.
No. 1045220 ID: 15a025

We can't always make choices for you Argnie. You gotta work on building yourself up here. I think all we can really do is make suggestions and just do what your heart thinks is best.

Some topics and food for thought-
-You could show her your new sword and ask for some input about. Different ways you could train with or use it with your parasignia.

-Talk about hobbies or work trades with her. Surely there's something out there you enjoy beyond going around guns a blazing.
No. 1045246 ID: ff6659

Truly, asking for advice on how we should have tackled the Astrolysis fight and what to do when we face Judicium's colleagues would be good, though let's save it for the end of the conversation.

We should probably open by telling her how you feel our presence is changing your brain and how you are afraid our continued stay has permanent side-effects.

And we should also ask why. Why we you are being kept here. Why are afraid of you. And why they keep refusing to tell you the reason.

What reaction are they fearing from you? Outrage? Resentment? Mental breakdwn? Ask Judicium to tell you, if not why you can't be let out of the base, at least why they won't explain you the motive.
No. 1045542 ID: 73aaab
File 166501649093.png - (483.22KB , 1000x1000 , ChattintoJudi.png )

>Worth noting, that paralysis of choice is yet another decision you make, and it closes off perhaps the most doors of them all the longer it goes on.
...Yeah. You're right. Whether in battle, or even stuff like this, sitting still and doing nothing is the quickest way to get yourself shelled.

>We can offer encouragements, perhaps even argue with your conclusions, but I don't think it's appropriate in this moment to answer for you.

You're right. At very least, part of why I don't mind your assistance is because - even if I'm not just blindly listening to what you're saying, there's often plenty of ideas that I hadn't even considered in the process. I've already got an idea in mind for what I need to say.

I try to say something to her, but it stops short. Her name hangs in my mouth - it feels weird to say it.

"Please, call me Judi. There's no need to be formal any more, we're not opponents, not now at least."
There's a faint little sparkle in her eyes. Compared to the woman I've known for months - it feels closer to the individual who was kind, but firm with me at the start. I don't know how to feel about this - it doesn't undo all the broken bones or the pain from the past, but at least now, I get the feeling she wasn't doing it out of spite.

"Fine. Judi, then. Just, give me a moment. I'm thinking."
She nods. I guess... I'm glad that people can bear with me. Thinking through this stuff takes time too.

This tournament was set up in a way so that, no matter what happened, Judic- Judi's never been someone who I had to fight twice. Whether I won or lost the first match against her, that would seal the deal. I wonder how intentional that is?

Bah, no use theorizing on THAT part.
There's some other thoughts that come to mind first.

>How there's a reason Astrolysis calls you wirehead - it's what the techs once called you that; why would they do so? Have you actually got literal wires in your head?
One of the other splinters caught it at the time, but - they didn't mean that I've literally got wires in my head. They were sayin' that I shoulda' had a wire stuck through my head while I was in the cradle. I don't think Astrolysis really understood why they called me that.

>Like how Nickel seems like she's both got it in for you and somehow not. What reason would she have to lose her cool at you?
At the time, I was pissed off, but... I don't know. I don't think she IS mad at me. She's not really someone who gets angry at all.
She and Astrolysis are trained to kill people and unlike other people in this facility, those two don't exactly seem to like the whole 'people just don't die now' situation. It's possible that she just... kept going. More than she'd liked that time.

>Ozone's interest in trinkets from the past, what with that ceremonial blade you found for her; where did this stem from?
That thing belonged to one of the Project Leads from the past, Leeza. Ozone pointed out as such. I dunno what happened to her but whatever it was, she's not around any more. I feel like, if anything I should ask Ozone about it.
Hah. Fat chance. I ain't negotiating with that bitch, she’d just drag me into more useless jobs.

>And finally, there's only one person here you've hardly approached since the start and that's Mnemosyne. At this rate you might not meet her before your fight at all. Shouldn't you?
Good point. But no questions immediately come to mind regarding her right now. I'll bring it up when I'm planning out my moves tomorrow.

>Like Amica's nursing a grudge against Nanoweaver, seems.
This, I SHOULD bring up again. Especially with... what we've learned about our, uh, relationship with each other.
...Sisters, huh... not that I really see her like one - but it's probably a good thing that I don't. Only other sister I've had has been nothing but pain.
No. 1045543 ID: 73aaab
File 166501655281.png - (388.86KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineWorries.png )

>You don't have to open your heart to everyone about all that's going on - but you can peek the door, see what happens. Time is running out, after all.
Time's... running out.
It's not something I like to think about, but it's true. Every day, I'm moving closer to the final inevitability - of me having to face my sister in a fight for my freedom.
I don't have the time to keep second-guessing myself.

>Mention one thing you're changing is your approach to others around you. You're seeking out alternative opinions more - other perspectives, not just the SAI voices.
>Tell Judy about the battle with Astrolysis - you did so for your fight against Nickel, after all, so do it again here.

Yeah... I'll start with this.
I start talking - slowly at first, but, the words just seem to keep on coming as I go.
"I screwed up in my fight against Astrolysis. No other way to put it. I had the gear and the training - but I panicked, even when I had the ability to deal with it. The... only other time that happened was when I lost to my sister in the final round of the tournament from before. The fight that changed everything.

"Have you... ever had to deal with something like that?"

There's a contemplative look in her eye.
"Hmm. Perhaps, not in the same way you have, Argine. I've never truly been in an encounter where I've been pushed to the limits so hard, forced to fight with everything on the line. I can't say I can provide you with the answers you're looking for."

Ah... I guess not, then.
But she continues.
"But even though I can't relate to you exactly, it doesn't mean that I won't support you. An old woman like me's better off teaching others how to deal with things in their life - to be the supporting pillar that they can rely on in tough times. And ultimately, the best answers in life are the ones people arrive at themselves."

That's putting it in a way I can get behind. I've always been someone who's liked to find my own solutions to problems. Even if my plans to break outta this place never really worked out, it was through narrowing down the options myself that I grew as a person.

"You've been around for a decade or so, right? I dunno. I know you're part of the earliest generations, but I wouldn't say you're old. Nobody here in this facility's really that old anyway."

"Why, thank you Argine, that's quite kind of you to say! Perhaps the SAI has had a beneficial effect on you after all."

"Hah... yeah, maybe it has."
A ton of different thoughts went through my head when we first met. Getting a bunch of voices in your head isn’t normally a good thing. I like peace and quiet, but I also like gunfire. Talking? Not so much, at least... not in my head, all the time when I'm trying to get stuff done.

I guess I just feel confused about these circumstances. Why did you all get put into me, anyway? The reason given at the time was to monitor me, but... was that REALLY the case?
...Somehow, I don't think it's quite a lie, but I don't think it's the truth either. There's only been one thing so far that's been wrong and that was how apparently, you're supposed to STOP me from getting places I shouldn't, when it's the exact opposite.
I'm not going to say this out loud but, what if you were meant to monitor me in a different way?
The 'seeing what I'm thinking about' kind of way instead of 'seeing where I'm going' kind of way.

It's like this facility sees me like a bomb that could go off at any moment. But, even though we've been together this whole time, people don't seem to actually know what exactly I'm thinking or thought in the past. If they were getting a direct feed of information from you, then they'd be able to tell more directly what I'm thinking, right? No need to worry about a bomb that you can tell has been defused, since people can't hide their thoughts so easily. So if that's the case - whatever data you're gathering from me has to be something else that ISN'T my actual thoughts or physical actions in this facility.

The more I think about this line of logic, the more unsettled I am. Talking to Judi IS making me feel better, but... the SAI was an orchestrated plan, made by Diagram and Nanoweaver, with Judi being the one to actually deliver it straight into my bloodstream.
All three of these people care about me, but... there's all these contradictions. Nanoweaver's hiding Amica from me, Diagram's acting strangely of late and Judi's back to being nice to me, because apparently in the past someone told her not to? And Judi's the person who told me that the SAI was keeping me out of places to begin with, so who's lying and who's just not informed?

I'm jolted out of my thoughts as Judicium continues to talk, noting the sudden silence.
"Argine, the most important thing to keep in mind is that exposure to situations like these WILL make you stronger. You've chosen not to run away from this or other challenges ahead of you. The truth is that even though we try to drill things into our soldiers with training, few things train people as effectively as exposure to harsh conditions. With your current performance, a loss may be a loss, but it's not something you can't recover from."

I nod absent-mindedly.
Stronger, huh. Before I never really thought I would've been stronger for losing like this, for spilling my guts in front of someone who I thought hated me.
Techniques, physical strength, equipment, that's how I'm used to getting stronger.

>I would definitely suggest you learn a few different styles of swordfighting.
I don't have much interest in learning the 'art of the sword' or anything like that right now. I've got bigger things to worry about. And remember - I lost in that fight not BECAUSE of my sword skills, but because of everything else. The few times I did get to take a swing at Astro with the sword, I've landed a few good hits on her.

I feel like one of the main reasons I lost to that big brute was just how little I knew about her capabilities. We got caught off-guard by what she could do MULTIPLE TIMES! We didn't know anything about her fighting style OR her Parasignia and we weren't able to plan around that.
No. 1045544 ID: 73aaab
File 166501657619.png - (362.96KB , 1000x1000 , ChattintoJudiLaugh.png )

>How many things have you tried to get good at that weren't fighting or fight-adjacent?
Well... I have talked about how much I like putting things together and disassemblin' them. Working on gadgets and tech is pretty fun! I'm not really one to enjoy the blueprinting of weapons as much - while I made my gals, The Sound and the Fury, I wouldn't be as capable of making more weapon types like Diagram can. To put it one way, I really like getting to understand a specific set of weapons and how to take care of them. But I dunno if being some kinda gunsmith is in the books for me. I've never worked on other people's gear like that except when I'm bored.

I shouldn't sit here in silence.
A question comes to mind first.

"Judi, can you let me know more about your Parasignia? How did you end up forming it?"

Judi blinks, as if she wasn't expecting me to actually ask about her, specifically. Maybe the air's gone warmer all of a sudden because she's caught off-guard.
We all have our own stories. You know mine - I got my 'Signia right after everything that happened in the previous tournament. Things just got too rough for me - and it happened. Next time I picked up a gadget or two, they got stuffed together.

"Ah... you wish to know about that? It's not much of a story. It makes me feel a little silly, reminiscing on it."
She shakes her head, smiling again.
"Well... I suppose I can discuss mine with you, though be aware I won't tell you too much about the Parasignias of people you've yet to win against."

The implication there is that she's not going to tell me more about how Astrolysis' abilities work since I have to fight her again later.

"I don't know if you're aware of this Argine, but... there's been someone who I keep in contact with out there, in the wider world. The Paracosmic Weave."

I watch her do some kind of wavy hand-motion.
"Of course, he's a bit of a blockhead. His heart's in the right place, but he doesn't know a thing about how to talk to women, ha ha!"
She laughs. She... laughed?
The 'someone' she's referring to's probably Dr. Troveheart. From that... recording we saw back when I fought her.
I have a feeling that it's related to the letter that I found in her room... but I probably shouldn't bring that up right as we're talking from the heart.

"I suppose, I was angry at him at the time. He was leaving the site to go see the worlds outside. I thought that I would be joining him, but... he said that I had a job here, first and foremost. To watch over those who remained. Even though he popped in for a visit or two, he never quite invited me along to stay, nor could I leave for an extended period of time. I still had people to watch over."
She seems awfully cheery even though she's talking about being left behind.
No. 1045545 ID: 73aaab
File 166501661103.png - (228.06KB , 1000x1000 , JudiSigniaScience.png )

"Well, I was torn. I wanted to go with him to see a world that neither of us have heard of before. And that frustration just... added up over time. Soon, one day... I found myself sitting in my office, my pen snapped in half and the desk frosted over. Ruined the pen, I can say that much, ha ha!"

What the hell? If I was the one being left behind like that, I'd be a lot more pissed. Someone's out there, having all the freedom he could want while I'm stuck with the same air, day in, day out.

"And that's how I got my Parasignia. It doesn't always have to be a particularly... noteworthy event for one to form. Apparently in other parts of the Weave, people can develop their first ones because they dropped their icecream, or even because they stubbed their toe."

"You've gotta be kidding. Then what were all of us working toward?"

Judi shakes her head, still sporting a grin.
"It wasn't as if our efforts are in vain, of course. Out there, Parasignias are a natural part of life - though I'll admit that I don't have all the details - as people grow, they actually gain and discard Parasignias at quite a fast speed. For us, because ours are only formed after a while, it means our ones come out a bit more... developed."

Hmm. That means...
"So what you're saying is that, out there, people go through a bunch of different Parasignias over time, but since we got ours differently, we're more likely to keep them?"

"Something to that effect, yes. I suspect our nature as clones makes things a bit different, but I wouldn't know much more."

She sighs.
"Our knowledge from Parasignias came at the same time while we were researching the functionality and implementation of the Weave Nexus. It was part of what made the challenge possible, as the Nexus itself had to be activated with the same kind of resonance you get when multiple people use their Parasignias in close proximity. But Nanoweaver was responsible in part for figuring things out - at least, she's one of the few clones who were involved in the project. I've only been able to tell you the little information I've picked up over the years."

Agh, damn. I was really hoping I'd actually hear something new about this for once. Does Amica only know about this stuff because she's tied to Nanoweaver, then? Maybe Amica originated from Nanoweaver's research when she was assigned to the Exotic Materials Sector.

Something ain't sitting right with me though.
"Wait wait, hold on - what's this about a challenge?"

"To put it one way - we were given an ultimatum by an outside party. Either we figure out how to make the Weave Nexus, or..."

"Or what?"

A pause.
"We'd remain here, until we died. There was a time limit, we were running out of food. Unlike now where we can occasionally grab things from the Weave at large, we were running out of supplies and our hydroponics basin couldn't keep up."

...Just what the hell happened before I was born?
"Harsh. But I guess things worked out."
We wouldn't have that big portal in our backyard if we didn't.

"It did. We survived. Simple as that."
No. 1045546 ID: 73aaab
File 166501664671.png - (1.09MB , 1000x1000 , JudiSitting.png )

"But who was the one to issue the challenge in the first place? And why?"

Things keep getting tied back to that day - the day where things changed. Before that day, we didn't have Parasignias, people died when they got shot and we couldn't recover from injuries in just a day or two. Changes like that... they can't just happen instantly.

"The Paracosmic Continuum Coalition. The easiest way to describe them is that they're enforcers of law and order in the Paracosmic Weave at large, the location our Nexus connects to."

More figures of authority to boss me around. Guess I can't escape from it. Whatever they've got in mind, I'm going to try to make my own rules when I get out of here.

"To put it one way, they saw us and decided to give us an opportunity to prove ourselves. To prove that we have what it takes to exist in the Weave at large. A test of sorts."
They really ARE just like the Sector Bosses if they're giving out unreasonable tests like that just so we can exist.

"But why, though?"

"Because we live in a doomed world."

The static fuzz in the back of my head's getting louder. This supposed to be some kind of revelation for you guys? I'm not really impressed.

"The hell do you mean by doomed? Far as I can tell, we're all still breathing."

"Argine... have you ever thought about why we don't ever try to leave this island?"

I don't reply. The Weave Nexus, to me, was the only way we ever really could have left.
"It's because there's nothing past it. To put it one way, civilisation can't continue. And according to the PCC - that's something that defines this world as doomed. I don't know the mechanics of it but... apparently, when a world reaches this state - something will come along and prune it. And the PCC steps in to try and rescue those who remain."

I don't feel especially shocked at this.
“Figures. I’ve heard about the world being turned into rubble outside but I guess we’re some of the only ones left, then? Makes me wonder if the people talked about in my textbooks really existed. You sure they’re not just a story they tell us to give us a reason to give a damn?”

"No, that's not true. They... used to exist. But they don't any longer."
Knowing how people work, they probably just all killed each other somehow.
But it's hard to really think about it. I've never really known any people elsewhere, outside of this facility. This facility IS the world for me - at least, while I'm trapped here.

"Eh. I guess that's just how it is. People find reasons to fight and then they take each other out. Then they find better ways to do it and sooner or later, they all end up taking each other out. Figured it would happen regardless.”
I've got no interest in learning about WHY everything else is gone. When I was born, it was long gone already. Worrying about something that isn't there's going to get me stuck here when I'm trying to leave in the first place. Focusing on what's ahead, not what's behind is far more important.

"What's important is that we've found a way out. Even if this world's doomed or whatever, you CAN leave whenever the hell you want. I don't have that luxury. And so I'm going to keep fighting for what's important to me."

I stand up. I've talked things out with Judi, tried to get as much out of her when it comes to Parasignias... I feel like I should be getting back to things.
No. 1045547 ID: 73aaab
File 166501668135.png - (518.74KB , 1000x1000 , boxopening.png )

"Thanks for the info, Judi. Dunno if things are green between us, but I need to sort things out. I'm going to head back to my room."

Before I can turn and leave, she grabs my arm.

"Argine, there's something I want to gift to you as well. I was going to call you to my office, but it happened that you brought me over first."

I stop, sitting back down.
"Fine, what is it?"
She passes me the case I saw earlier and I feel the weight of the box press against the top of my thighs.

"What's this? You gonna give me a weapon?"

I dunno if they ever give weapons to people as gifts in other places, but even here, it's a little rare. Maybe my circumstances, this final tournament is a big reason why people are comin' out of the woodwork to get this done and sorted.

"Open the case and you’ll find out."
Feels like I'm opening up a weapon with toxic material in it with how protected this box is. The ribbon makes it a little silly, but it’s in my colour and everything!

So... that's what's inside?
I was expecting a weapon, but...
It's in my colours and everything.

"Oh. Holy hell. I don't know what to say... How long have you been working on this for?"

She couldn't have made it overnight.

"Long enough. But I had it planned for a while before the tournament even began."

THAT long ago? Before we... before I even talked to her...

Feels like some of the weight pressing down on me's evaporating.
"Turn away for a sec, I'm going to put it on."
No. 1045549 ID: 73aaab
File 166501670949.png - (416.81KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineArmCoat.png )

No. 1045550 ID: 73aaab
File 166501671883.png - (182.09KB , 1000x1000 , ArgineArmSleeve.png )

No. 1045551 ID: 73aaab
File 166501674091.png - (0.95MB , 1000x1000 , ArgineMirrored.png )

A new outfit, made in the style of my old clothes.
...It's weird that what I was wearing just moments ago are 'old' now, but... yeah.

I can't deny that these are made better than what I had.
Don't look at me like that. I'm good with weapons, not fabrics.
Went for practicality first, but...

I feel funny.
Not every day you get a personal gift from one of the most important people in this facility.
Let alone someone like her.

“You sure you’re allowed to give this to me? Even compared to the others, you’re one of the most invested in the tournament. Showing favouritism isn’t usually your thing, especially since this is meant to be me proving myself to you all.”

"Well... nobody else is around to get jealous now, are they? In a way, you can consider this your graduation present, before the tournament even happened."

“Pssh. With my skills, I shoulda graduated two years ago! Guess this is a little overdue, but it’s worth the wait.”

Even moving around in it feels great. Whatever Judi’s stuffed into the shoulders helps take the edge off of this room’s chilliness.

"Do you want me to pack up your old clothes?"

I look over at my old jacket. I’ve already shoved my other old clothes into the case, but…

"Nah. I think it'll be fine. Someone'll come to get it eventually, but... as far as I'm concerned, I'm putting the past behind me. Maybe I’ll grab it when I’m ready to leave for real."

“But anyway - thanks for the gift. I… needed something like this.”
No. 1045552 ID: 73aaab
File 166501677135.png - (666.18KB , 1000x1000 , HeadinOut.png )

I focus for a moment, and -
Sweet. The holsters can be stored in my Parasignia too. I guess it's akin to how I can store Plug's sheath or the Pitch Prefect's strap, it's part of the deal. But for now, I'm going to leave it on, see how it feels.

"Alright, I’m heading out. You coming with me?”

She nods.

“Would you be available to visit me in my office later for tea?”
No. 1045553 ID: 73aaab
File 166501679012.png - (847.76KB , 1000x1000 , LeftAtBench.png )

“Yeah. I think I will.”
No. 1045579 ID: e5709d

>the best answers in life are the ones people arrive at themselves
... Hm.
That's a really inspiring answer. Yet here, Judicium is saying her own answer only to tell it to you. So this answer about the best answers not being the ones you're just told isn't your best answer because someone talking about best answers told you. There's an instinctual view of contradiction, here.
Maybe it needs to be refined:
"The worst answers in life are the ones which are parroted without review."
You've reinterpreted what I've said. Frequently. Like, I feel the need to facepalm without a hand when you keep reframing everything instead of asking what I mean.
But then, that means you're thinking about what I've said. And it means you can build your own answers from there, answers I'd never come up with, answers that are important to you and relevant to you.
Some of the most successful villains, Argine, they... they don't have strong muscles, fast reflexes, healthy organs, superior intelligence, or even a long-term plan. They're just good at making other people love them. While not loving back. And when they say something, anything, no matter how stupid or destructive or even traitorous of the very fans who worship them, those fans immediately begin shouting whatever their Dear Leader says without thinking about how it could hurt others, or even how it could hurt themselves. The message isn't criticized, so everyone starts thinking it's normal. They grow a culture of madness where such harmful messages can take root. And then even those who can think for themselves are poisoned by the thoughts they've grown up with.
And even if you do get something that was originally insightful and truly meaningful, thought out by a philosopher who spent their whole life forging it, it still changes based on who hears the message and how it is heard. Stuff gets misinterpreted, or outright re-written. It takes research and effort to bend the design of the idea back into a shape similar to how it was originally meant to form. We don't get that, we get the hypocrisy of traditions that pretend everything is as it has been for thousands of years, when it has shifted and twisted in the interests of power, and still pretends it's sacred because of its 'old' age.
Mortals aren't old-old, no matter how long their lineage is.

>Why are they so obsessed with you?
... Okay, I want you to know I don't believe in this theory, but it has to be said.
They might think you're a reincarnation of the maniac who did the noodle incident that messed this facility up the most.
I doubt it. Just keep your eyes open for intel on your mother, this is tied to her.

>failure makes you stronger
It's... context sensitive. I hate failures that are repeats of what we've seen, things we could have easily predicted. When the same mistakes are made again and again and again.
Discovering new, stranger types of failures... and managing to survive those. That's how to learn.

>Parasignias in regular mortals are discard-and-draw

>This world is doomed. No, literally.
... Argine, do you think your mother was the final straw needed to crush the over-encumbered van?

Brings out your... erm... muscles.

Okay it looks like we're going into standby for now, dunno why, just keep practicing with everything and don't neglect the sword! Bye!
No. 1045588 ID: 15c72a

>who's lying and who's misinformed?
Clearly, Judi is misinformed. She follows orders without question, so it would be very easy to feed her a lie about what we do. That doesn't mean Diagram and Nanoweaver are lying to you, though. More likely they're lying to everyone else, and simply keeping details from you. Nanoweaver and Amica have some kind of conflict, clearly, but I think it's personal-- it has nothing to do with you. Makes sense in a way, as it's likely Nanoweaver was personally involved in the creation of Amica and was most strongly affected emotionally when Amica went wild and had to be restrained by Judicium. If you want to dig for answers, Diagram is the weakest link; you can probably get her riled up enough to spill the beans... but would you want to do that to her? Keep in mind they have their reasons for keeping things from you. Like, perhaps if they tell you the secret, their superiors will know, and they'll get in trouble? We are recording everything, you know... I wonder, perhaps that's what the whole point of this is? Maybe someone realized there was potential to make a new line of soldiers based on YOUR Trace, through us.

>I've got no interest in learning about WHY everything else is gone.
Argine, history is important. It's the only way a civilization can learn from large scale mistakes.

Nice. Looking a bit JoJo there. Do you get to keep the case, too?
No. 1045603 ID: 30b9f6

>New jacket
Suits you. Where to next?

>Paracosmic Continuum Coalition
You really should figure more about this PCC organization and more about what the Paracosmic Weave is. Guess Nanoweaver might be the one to ask - at least for the latter, since she was part of the team that made the Nexus Weave function.

Hm... think she picked her name as part of figuring out the Weave Nexus? Might be a nice segue into asking her more about it.

>World's doomed, and I don't care
So you and your sister, as the last batch, were made after the world went to heck. If that's the case, I wonder why they made you go through all the motions. You've been taught a lot of stuff about a world that's effectively gone and prepped to be a warrior when you could just... not have been. You ruminated on this earlier - clones are made for a purpose, n' all that. What does the PCC actually want from you? What did the people who made you want from you?

Well, some heavy shit being dropped here, but you never had the context to care much outside your own situation and it shows. Having everything you're supposed to care about - every cause you were being literally made to fight for - just up and vanish has the potential to be very traumatic. I suppose that's why the older folks here don't talk much about it, but at least Judi seems to have come to terms.

Mnemosyne might've lost her hubby to whatever it was, which would explain why she's so somber. Even the clones that never left the island at least knew people who'd be deeply affected by the world coming to an end - and many of their inherited memories came from those folks too, with flashbacks, the whole nine yards. That... might be a reason to care to know WHY the world went to heck. To understand its impact on others.

>Static fuzz grows
Speaking of - take it easy there, fellow Sykes and co. We'll figure out more as we go along. Whatever this pruning 'something' is, the PCC at least saved some folks from both it and the world's doom. Who knows how much was recovered? And we've yet to actually find out what occurred. A global war of mutual annihilation seems the obvious answer, but it could just as well come down to something else. A disastrously pandemic, runaway super-technology or just good ol' frickin' meteors, man. Whatever it was, it must've been fairly sudden to leave the secret research facility stranded with limited supplies.

That said, there should at least be some comfort in knowing that the personnel of this base at least made it out and exist somewhere in the Weave. That there was continuity at all, and those who can remember.

I wonder. Is this something the SAI is also supposed to be? To be just a bit more continuity? I know if I'd been left with a stored bunch of personalities and memories from a doomed world and the right know-how, I might put some effort into... putting it back in play, so to speak. As adjuncts to you, as the case may be.
No. 1045664 ID: ea0645
File 166510528351.png - (364.76KB , 1000x1000 , AtTheTable.png )

A new morning... compared to the aches and pains I was in yesterday, I'm feeling much better now. I wasn't out for too long while I was recovering, so it means I'm back on the grind. No rest for the wicked.

Agh, well, some of the questions you've asked me... I want to sort through them. I think you guys might be onto something. I'll get food after.

>"The worst answers in life are the ones which are parroted without review."
>You've reinterpreted what I've said. Frequently. Like, I feel the need to facepalm without a hand when you keep reframing everything instead of asking what I mean.

Hah, you ever consider that the reason I reinterpret some of what you guys say is because I'm trying to squeeze water from a rock? Half the time it's like you're all rambling about people who don't exist.
But the idea of considering the points people make and then deriving your own interpretations from them...

>It means you can build your own answers from there, answers I'd never come up with, answers that are important to you and relevant to you.
Yeah. And that's something that can help me in the long run.

>(The reason they're obsessed with you...) They might think you're a reincarnation of the maniac who did the noodle incident that messed this facility up the most.
That doesn't line up either, right? If Nano made me in the image of some sick girl who could barely fight, then how the hell would she cause things to go sour?

>Just keep your eyes open for intel on your mother, this is tied to her.
Argh, it's just -

>... Argine, do you think your mother was the final straw needed to crush the over-encumbered van?
No, that's ridiculous.
I get what you're saying, it's just - I don't think any of the clones here, not without Parasignias, could have led to the destruction of the world as a whole. We're on an island far away from the mainlands. Getting there's already hard enough, but THEN having us actually do something that can destabilize a country or whatever? I'm sure that our weird-looking genetics wouldn't tip everyone off automatically about us being some kind of freak of science.

>Clearly, Judi is misinformed. She follows orders without question, so it would be very easy to feed her a lie about what we do. That doesn't mean Diagram and Nanoweaver are lying to you, though. More likely they're lying to everyone else, and simply keeping details from you.

Why is it that people in this facility can't be straightforward? Or rather, why is it that the ONLY PEOPLE I'M STUCK HERE WITH are the ones who've got dozens of skeletons in their lockers?
I'm just sick and tired of constantly being told that things are 'for my own good' without being fully explained. I mean, now I'm actually getting SOME answers, but you weren't here for the past three years of my life. This place is like a damn brick wall.
At least one of the bricks that were crushing me before's serving me tea. Heh.

>Argine, history is important. It's the only way a civilization can learn from large scale mistakes.
We're not exactly a 'civilization' any more, are we?
I just don't feel that a lot of history's useful. Like what kinds of bread people made hundreds of years ago. When the Paracosmic Weave is well... a weave of hundreds of worlds, wouldn't all THOSE worlds have their own histories? Getting things sorted out so you can 'learn from their mistakes' sounds like a pain in the ass when there's so many different reasons for why things happened in those histories.

>Do you get to keep the case, too?
Oh yeah, I did. I brought it back to my room-
Ah! Almost forgot to mention the prototype SAI!
Actually, while you were gone, I checked on it again, but it seemed fairly inert. I guess maybe the reason things got so freaky last time was because you were around with me at the time?
We'll figure it out after.

>You really should figure more about this PCC organization and more about what the Paracosmic Weave is. Guess Nanoweaver might be the one to ask - at least for the latter, since she was part of the team that made the Nexus Weave function.

That's a good point, actually. Nanoweaver's secretive, but we've got an actual 'in' to the topic now with what Judi's told us and from what I can tell, the two at least get along well enough, so maybe there's something to find there. I've heard a bit about them before in passing but definitely not anything especially concrete. Apparently they've picked up some of our clones as employees though, so maybe I'll see some familiar faces in the future.

>Hm... think she picked her name as part of figuring out the Weave Nexus? Might be a nice segue into asking her more about it.
I thought she got named that because she could use her Parasignia to turn things into strings and wires, but come to think of it, it would make far more sense for her to be named before she even got her Parasignia. But then...
Wait, Nanoweaver's apparently been around for REALLY long, right? Why would she be named after something that's only started existing a few years ago? Most clones get a callsign and name early on in their lifespan, especially older ones.
Something's not really adding up here, but I doubt a name alone will get us anything super conclusive.

>What does the PCC actually want from you? What did the people who made you want from you?
Since the PCC hired a good number of Trace clones from this facility, there's a chance that I'm just some super glamorous recruit that they're putting through the motions. Hah! Like that's their actual goal. Nanoweaver did make me, but I felt like it was more for sentimental reasons. We're the last clones to ever be made, made from whatever was left at the bottom of the barrel. Jin just came out phenomenally strong, because she's lucky like that.

>Having everything you're supposed to care about - every cause you were being literally made to fight for - just up and vanish has the potential to be very traumatic.

>Mnemosyne might've lost her hubby to whatever it was, which would explain why she's so somber.
I just wonder what happened. The clones aren't supposed to have left the facility yet. Did that person she was with leave early or something and get killed in the war? I feel like asking her directly's going to put me into some hot water though - I SHOULDN'T know about the guy she was with at all. In fact, I only know about it because you've been relaying that info to me.

>That said, there should at least be some comfort in knowing that the personnel of this base at least made it out and exist somewhere in the Weave. That there was continuity at all, and those who can remember.

Yeah. It's mostly clones though, but I guess maybe the PCC's also interested in preserving cultures from dying worlds or something.
>I wonder. Is this something the SAI is also supposed to be? To be just a bit more continuity?

Well, the SAI was always made for recording, right? Something like that.
Just happened that it's ended up being the last remaining recordings of a world gone bust.

There's a growl in my stomach. All that staring at the table and contemplating's got me hungry.

I try to get up from my seat, but before I can even grab any lunch, a certain SOMEONE catches me beforehand. Ugh.

"What the hell do you want? Come to rub my recent loss in my face?"
No. 1045665 ID: ea0645
File 166510530410.png - (356.01KB , 1000x1000 , JinAtTheTable.png )


"Argine, I... I'm here to talk. But I understand you're not fond of me, so you don't have to force yourself to. But I want to talk to you privately."

That's an understatement.

"Look, I'm really busy, why do you pop up now, of all times? You could have visited me while I was in hospital, since then I couldn't run from you. I haven't even gotten food yet, and you're trying to drag me somewhere else."

"I didn't want to disturb you at the time. This seemed like an opportunity for when you're free."

We're on a limited time schedule. Yeah, I know I'm supposed to take more time off, but I am NOT spending it with my sister.

I know you're all going to say that I should make up with everyone I know, but you've already heard my story. I don't have a reason to try to befriend her again, not after what she's done.
I need to get planning who we're targeting next because I'm not getting any closer to escape by negotiating with the person who's literally the thing between me and freedom. She's going to drag me into some damn side journey that I don't need and waste the time I could be using to plan out and explore different options.

If you're going to try and convince me to 'hang out' with her of all people, you'd better give me some good reasons.
No. 1045666 ID: 15c72a

>how the hell would she cause things to go sour?
One does not need a strong body to cause trouble. A strong enough Parasignia can make up for physical shortcomings.

Simple. She wants something from you, which means you can demand something from her. Like information on her Parasignia, or the Parasignia of your next opponent. Or she can get you a new gadget.
No. 1045851 ID: e51896

nuh-uh. I agree with you, Argine. You don't have to make up to her, what she did to you was terrible and she doesn't deserve your respect. It's on HER to find a way to make up with you, not yours or ours. Like you said, if she wants to forgive you, she can help you escape, otherwise, It's on HER to find a way to do something to earn your forgiveness, and it'll have to be the grandest damn thing ever.

But I do want to rant at her for what she's done to you in the past at least, I'm sure that will feel liberating for you! Make it clear to her that things would have been fine if it was just a loss that'd you'd accept, but when she publicly humiliated you after your loss for NO REASON, you were looked down by almost everyone in the facility, seen as the weakest soldier and treated as an outcast because of what she did, being tormented every day because of it. Maybe let her know that whatever she wants from you she can tell you right here in public instead of privately because since she publicly humiliated you, she should have no problem in telling you here right here, not that you'll listen or do anything she wants of course.

Finally, tell her she's no hero, or even a soldier. A hero or soldier would show RESPECT to a fellow ally, maybe help them grow... not treat them like useless garbage, even if somebody told her to treat you that way as an order. She should know she has a looooong way to go if she wants your respect and forgiveness to get any favors from you, let alone make up.

Also, spit at her face and tell her to go away.
No. 1045863 ID: 7f2a90

I don't think you need to make up with her.

However, this is... an unusual track she's taking. It kinda seems like she has something important to say - something she can't speak freely about.

You don't have to like her, but I think hearing her out, if only this specific time, is important.
No. 1045866 ID: 42a284

>I know you're all going to say that I should make up with everyone I know, but you've already heard my story.
True, we would say that. But you don’t have to make up with absolutely everyone. Especially that bitch that blackmailed you into helping her look for that sword.
No. 1045868 ID: e5709d

You know something, Argine? We don't really know much about her. You keep complaining about her but we haven't gotten a handle on how she thinks or how loyal she is to whoever she's loyal to.
Normally, it's not nice to tune people out. The thing is, we're not normal.
So talk as long as you can. Block it out if you need to. We need info.
No. 1045876 ID: 76886a

Maybe full bluntness will finally drive the point home for her:
"Jin-R, I just lost a duel. That was a wake up call that told I should get truly serious, because if I lose the next fight, winninng the tournament will be impossible. I only got a couple days to prepare, I'm on a tight schedule and I hate you very strongly. If you want to tell me something, say right now, in front of everyone. You certainly never had a problem doing things to publicly embarrass me before."
No. 1045890 ID: 9a2966

We're not asking you to become your sister's buddy, Argine. As stated earlier - screw her wishes. You're your own person, you've got a right to get out there and live your own life, and you'll beat her in a proper fight to prove it - or at least give it your all without flinching. It's not gonna be a one-sided beatdown again, you've powered up in gadgets and skills, and you're picking out stuff about this base and its past, stuff that might give you an edge. And you have us.

Jin's reasons for having those wishes though, for letting you beat her to a pulp - you still might want to figure those out.

That aside, this Syke is right. If Jin wants something from you, you now have leverage to demand something in return. There's any number of questions you could ask her - the fuck was that fight and the aftermath all about - or requests you could ask her to honor - like being able to duel Astrolysis without her stepping in during the final match - if you think you can trust her with those.

Or just asking more about what was it like, being out there in the Weave. What did they have her do, actually? Could fall in with gathering some intel on the PCC and such - gonna bet they were the ones she was working for.

Anyway, you did this very thing with Ozone. You can do it here too. It's a maxim of the world - you don't have to like your asshole coworkers, you just have to tolerate them while you get shit done.

Said little binch kept her end of the bargain though, best we can tell. And we got something from that encounter - less hassle, and some insight into what Ozone cares about. If she comes back with such a deal again though, we might have to just pick her as the next fight - just to get her off our damn backs. Or to shut her up from crowing about Argine's loss to Astrolysis - if anyone's gonne be smirk-happy about that, it'll be her.
No. 1045926 ID: 398700

We will have to fight her. A conversation with her can give us something, ANYTHING to work from when devising strategies against her.

Talking to her directly helps us figure out how to destroy her.

There is plenty of empathetic arguments to be made here, but the utilitarian argument is that we simply lose out by letting our frustration blot out opportunities.
No. 1046207 ID: 73aaab
File 166553346743.png - (373.85KB , 1000x1000 , shoutin.png )

>One does not need a strong body to cause trouble. A strong enough Parasignia can make up for physical shortcomings.
Yes, but the world got ruined long before Parasignias were a thing, right? The PCC and the Nexus stuff only happened AFTER everyone died and all that's left were us. If someone had a Parasignia back then, there's no way it would've been something kept secret.

>nuh-uh. I agree with you, Argine. You don't have to make up to her, what she did to you was terrible and she doesn't deserve your respect. It's on HER to find a way to make up with you, not yours or ours.
>I don't think you need to make up with her.
>We're not asking you to become your sister's buddy, Argine.
>You don’t have to make up with absolutely everyone.

...Huh. You know, I thought you were all going to try and convince me into dealing with her.

>Simple. She wants something from you, which means you can demand something from her.
>Talking to her directly helps us figure out how to destroy her.

Yeah. That's true.
I ain't going to start this bloody day dealing with her shit though.
I don't HAVE to be friends with her. This facility's give and take. And if I can take something from that holier-than-you wall of muscle, I'm going to make her pay.

"Look, Jin. The day before yesterday was the first time I've lost this tournament. If you don't have anything that's going to lead to a favor or more information about what you can do, I'm not going to deal with your shit today. I'd even take info on what it's like outside."

"Argine, you know I'm in no pos-"

Of course she's gonna try to worm her way out of this.
If she's already playing defensive now, then I'm not even going to bother negotiating.
"I don't care what you have to say then, even if you're trying to make up with me. Maybe if you wanted to actually make up with me, you'd have talked to me long ago."

I glare at her, though I can't see her eyes through her glasses - or whether she's even making eye contact with me.
"There's a reason for that."

Alright, I'm sick of her shit already.

>I think hearing her out, if only this specific time, is important.
I'm not obligated to hear her out when she's already turning down the offer of doing it in exchange for a favor or even information.

"There's ALWAYS a reason for why you and the other Sector Bosses found reasons to hold me back! So, what's the thing you need to talk about? If it's so serious, then say it right now!"

Jin... looks like she's twisting something behind those glasses of hers. She doesn't say anything and it starts feeling like how conversations normally go between us, as usual.
"If you can't even give me a favor in exchange for my time, then go screw yourself."

My words hang in the air for a bit.
She stands up without saying anything and leaves.

...That was different to how it usually goes. Bloody hell, why did she even bother showing up?
Ah, screw it. At least she took the hint and didn't shout back.
Wait, but she left something on the table.
No. 1046208 ID: 73aaab
File 166553349826.png - (815.64KB , 1000x1000 , ANewNote.png )

...A piece of paper?

The only thing I can see on it's the word... "Pressure." Looks like it was scribbled down pretty quickly.
But what the HELL does that even mean?

The pressure I'm facing? Pressure on her?
Is it a password of some kind?

I'll tuck it away into one of my pockets but this has been a thorough waste of time.
Maybe things have been going better between me and Judi, but I think this just reminds me of how much things haven't changed.

I'm gonna grab food and then plan things out with you.
No. 1046209 ID: 73aaab
File 166553351827.png - (0.96MB , 1000x1000 , HitCount.png )

Mm. This ration would taste nicer if Jin wasn't reminding me of how much she's screwed me over these days. All the other clones get to have a dozen others to call their siblings. I've only got the one and so the comparisons only grow from there. Shit sucks, but I don't have to stay here and deal with her either.

Down to business.
I've got two targets left: Ozone and Mnemosyne.

I'll be real with you, Sykes - I don't actually have a strong preference as to who I should fight first this time. They're both tough in their own way, both of them being long-time veterans of SOME kind of fighting style. I've got more information on them than Nickel and Astrolysis, but the most critical parts of their strategy - their Parasignias and effects that their Pseudosignias would provide are both big question marks. I guess we could assume that they'd have something from Judi, but given that Astrolysis' interpretation of Nickel's 'intangibility' was making an invisible barrier, who the hell knows what their take on 'freezing' is?
In the end, it boils down to which bullet I'd rather get shot by first.

I'll remind you what their specialities are supposed to be.

Ozone's meant to be the heavy duty specialist. High explosives, flamethrowers, heavy machine guns... for someone who's only barely taller than Nickel, it's probably clear that she's compensating for something. She's holed up in the Vehicle Hangar, which probably means she's got a lot of iron plating to hide behind. Not sure if she's got any tanks hidden in there, but you can never know. She's physically powerful even if she's small and I imagine her strategy would compensate for her size by preventing me from approaching her.
If I - WHEN I beat her, the upside is that *I* also get access to some high firepower. That's the trade-off I suppose. Even if she didn't choose to gift me a weapon, knowing how much of a stick she's got up her ass - I could likely grab some heavy duty weapons from her sector in the aftermath, meaning I'm better equipped for Mnemosyne.

Mnemosyne's pretty different to everyone else in this facility. You were right for pointing out that I haven't really gotten to talk to her during this tournament's run, let alone my three years of existing here. Thankfully, what I lack in immediate knowledge is backed up by her significant reputation.
A living storm - that's how they describe her. And given that Parasignias are kinda driven by our personalities, maybe she's got wind powers of some kind? I dunno if it's the same for other people with Parasignias out there, but our facility does seem pretty straightforward. Even my own fire abilities make sense if you think about it: while I'm not literally melting them down, it's like how if you combine two different types of metal together, you get an alloy. For me, I just happen to forge guns and gadgets.
Mnemosyne is a versatile fighter who excels in most categories. But not being a specialist has it's own drawbacks; it means that she's less likely to overwhelm me with the unexpected - besides her Parasignia, that is.
It's a bit of a tossup what I'd end up getting from Mnemosyne - I feel like she'd end up giving me gear that's good for a bunch of situations. Like the gun equivalent of duct-tape.

Besides choosing which of the Sector Bosses we should pursue, give me recommendations on what we should focus on doing.
Since I've already done tasks for Diagram and Nanoweaver, Amica's the only remaining person whose broader task we can solve for her. I did lose my previous match though, so if we wanted to prioritize improving gear, maybe doing something for Judi for more protective gear or errandwork for Nanoweaver to get Parasignia info, I don't mind letting her hang until the fight after the next.
No. 1046212 ID: a03dde

It could be your hint - that your sister’s parasignia involves pressure. Maybe there’s a very good reason you froze up in your match against her - put a few atmos on your shoulders and you’d feel like lead - or maybe the pressure is more metaphorical. What do you remember of the fight?

It’s clear she’s not allowed to tell you stuff, maybe including stuff about what’s outside, though, given her hesitation. So... this all gotta be part of the test that you be kept in the dark, by and large. Everyone here honors that, even your allies, so everyone here must think it’s very important that you be kept ignorant of key facts, annoying as it is.

Take on... Mnemosyne, the unknown quantity. Let Ozone build her tank or whatever she’ll have spent all this time on.

See if you can’t get in touch with Nanoweaver, you have things to ask her and a lack of good parasignia knowledge somewhat hurt you during the last match.
No. 1046214 ID: e5709d

>If someone had a Parasignia back then, there's no way it would've been something kept secret.
Good one!

For someone so strong, she sure doesn't talk about much.
... Hey. Aim for those next time. Literally.

I got no-
Wait a minute. Astrolysis is blind. Also, she's a soldier. So how would she percieve the sun?
Heat? It's too far away for her to truly comprehend that the sun is the source of the heat, not the 'scorching' friction between objects in distant supermasses.
Light? Definitely not - something weird happened, though. We got some kind of message from her augments saying your last attack somehow triggered the concept of light in her brain. I dunno.
No - Astrolysis' comprehension of the sun is pressure. Not to mention PV = nrt; assuming all other factors hold relatively stable, increasing pressure means increasing heat, and the volume of the sun is supermassive. So to create a miniature sun, she'd need pressure. The heatshield is a secondary bonus.

>Next Opponent
Go with Mnemosyne. We have intel on her. More importantly, she learns hecka fast. She'll be busy learning how to counter your strategies - and you're running out of cards.
No. 1046230 ID: d19c41

>I thought you'd want me to make up with her.
Yeah, seeing our favourite heroine get continually blown off and thrown around and then have her head cracked open- twice - kind of made us a tad jaded.

Also, you can't duel either of them. They are out in a costume-wearing festival in the woods.

......Wait, that's in an alternate universe or some such. Man, the weave nexus Is weird.

I suppose Mnemosyne will have to be our first choice.
She is probably the most dangerous of them both, being much more professional in behaviour, but you know the saying: nothing ventured, nothing lost.

Nanoweaver would indeed be best, since Mnemosyne's parasignia and tactical training are her main specialties.

Speaking of, Mnemosyne anda Ozone DID go to actual war for a spell, didn't they?

We could also do Amica's task, but we should also ask her how much collateral damage she will cause once she achieves freedom......
.....while making it abundantly clear that as long as she doesn't harm Diagram and Nanoweaver, we simply.
Do not.
No. 1046231 ID: 15c72a

>Yes, but the world got ruined long before Parasignias were a thing, right?
Well, there's gadgets too. Though, in her case it's probably that she was in a position of authority and managed to do something that caused a domino effect. Or, she hacked into something. Or manipulated someone. Hypothetically, there were weapons of mass destruction that everyone agreed not to use, then she caused one or more to be used, which triggered everyone else to use theirs. Mutually assured destruction.

I think she needed to talk to you where nobody else could hear. Ah well. Do check the other side of the paper.

Let's fight Ozone. You have a sniper rifle now, that should make her strategy a bit less effective. We can set up your gadgets for stealth, misdirection, and stationary defense, then just carefully plink away at her. Tank vs Tank.

Focus on information gathering. We lost last time because we lacked info on our opponent. Let's not make that same mistake here. Be brazen about it, just waltz on into the planned battlefield and do some recon. We can expect her to change things, but you can see what she has to work with at least! You could try sneaking in unnoticed, but her pseudosignia will likely allow her to notice you regardless.

Speaking of which, you REALLY need to find out how to form a pseudosignia! That would be my second priority here.
No. 1046239 ID: aa98c6

Protective gear's always good, gives more leeway if you screw up. Go help Judi for stuff.

Past that, perhaps go see Nickel? Special ops are known for their discipline, so perhaps she has a way to help you with the whole "OH GOD WHAT DO I DO BESIDES SUMMON GUNS?" freeze-up.
Personal bias for her as well as her military professionalism plays no part in that at all. Purely pragmatic reasons, no suspicious denials here!
No. 1046334 ID: 3e63d1

...Huh, perhaps she was pressured to do what she did to you by one of the staff?
Or you're supposed to put pressure on the message?
No. 1046376 ID: e51896

Proud of you Argine. Perhaps she'll stew on her guilt for awhile, and then MAYBE she'll figure out a way to make it up to you. And when that happens, we'll be there as moral support if you decide whether to forgive her or not.

"PRESSURE" might actually be one word from a written sentence from a letter or something. Have we seen any papers or letters in the past that looked like it had been ripped? Maybe we'll come across it.

Fight Ozone.
No. 1046485 ID: dee951

That 'Pressure' bit feels like those stories where the hero is given a cryptic prophecy and through some hackneyed set of circumstances, only makes sense of it mere seconds before they have to actually use the hint to save the day in the climax of the story in a way that absolutely breaks suspension of disbelief and requires supernaturally good powers of observation and intuition on the part of the protagonist.

Ugh. Well... the good news is... we'd probably be decent at figuring out when to use it when the time comes, I suppose??
No. 1046669 ID: 15a025

Ozone next. Especially if you think winning means getting gear that'll help you for your semi-final fight.

Training is important, but I think we should take it a little easy today. Let's run an errand for nanoweaver and try to get Intel on parasignias.

We should certainly make training with Nickle a priority afterwards.
No. 1046898 ID: 1bf0e8
File 166613838607.png - (455.36KB , 1000x1000 , NanoweavinTasks.png )

>Mnemosyne or Ozone?
>Mnemo's an unknown quantity.
>She is probably the most dangerous of them both, being much more professional in behaviour.

Close one, this time, so I'm going with the side that makes a good argument.
Mnemosyne it is. I didn't account for the fact that she'd ABSOLUTELY be the kind of person to specifically set up traps to deal with my abilities. Therefore - getting to deal with her earlier's probably a smart plan. Whatever Ozone's preparing for will have to wait - and given that I do have a sniper rifle that likely addresses her setups, I think even if she bolsters it further, I'll already have a tool at the ready.

It's better to nip unknowns in the bud, especially when she's the kind of person who's going to take an advantage and push it even further.

>You still haven't formed a pseudosignia yet, Argine!
I can't form that kind of thing ON PURPOSE! That's the kind of thing that happens naturally over time! Apparently!
I HAVE to be getting closer... but when is it going to pay off?

>That 'Pressure' bit sounds like something that's going to be useless until it saves the day in a pinch through stupid circumstances.

You're on the same page as me, pal. You think I LIKE having to tote around dozens of useless facts JUST IN CASE they're supposed to be relevant? If that's seriously what my sister wants me to remember while I'm getting shot at, I've got another reason to break those stupid glasses of hers.

I've got a theory on it, though.
I'm not quite sure that 'Pressure' refers to one of Jin's abilities or what she's going through. If she told me that 'I can't talk about it', only to give me a paper telling me that her power's about controlling pressure or something? She's not the kind of person who likes to exploit loopholes - she's very... stiff.

Either way, I don't think this paper's going to be massively lifechanging or anything. She probably gave me it in advance for... some reason. Dunno if she's trying to psych me out by getting me to dedicate brainpower to it but she's more the kind to betray you in the moment, than to play mindgames in the long term.

Turning it over and pressing on it doesn't yield any changes either and like I said: Jin couldn't give a damn about hiding a secret message in this. What she wrote is what I get. The only question is what 'pressure' refers to.
...Can't help but feel like that word feels familiar, somehow. I mean, if it's so important, I could put more time aside to think about the message and what it means?

Eh. First thing's first. I'm going to get in touch with Nanoweaver.
Last time, I got obliterated because I went into Astrolysis' fight knowing almost absolutely nothing about her or her Parasignia.
While it's true that Nickel's Parasignia had more functionality than we realized, since she could use her knife to go invisible - even half-complete information's better than going in blind.


I sense... an aura.

"Argine... you really got yourself into a tough situation this time, haven't you?"
Behind that mask of hers, Nanoweaver's really drilling into me!

"Honestly, do you know how much I worried about you? Even if our Parasignias protect us from dying, there's no shame in surrendering a fight you've already lost."

Not when you've got your freedom on the line, doc.
...Being lectured by one of the Sector bosses is one thing, but being lectured by Nanoweaver feels even worse.

She sighs, though I can't quite tell what expression she's making.
"What's done is done I suppose... I would lecture Astrolysis the same, but knowing her, this is how she responds to the world. I hope you don't blame her for contributing to the situation you're in."

I was the one who lost in the end. Even if Astrolysis has a brick for a brain, I can't really blame her for that. Doesn't mean I actually like her, though.
No. 1046899 ID: 1bf0e8
File 166613860885.png - (471.05KB , 1000x1000 , thebrideisyou.png )

"Doc, I'm going up against Mnemosyne next. Can I do a task for some of her documentation?"

Nanoweaver nods.
"Of course, Argine."

Hah... even after being pummelled by a hulk that's twice my size, I guess I ain't getting any breaks any time soon.
She takes something out of one of the nearby drawers and gives it to me.

...The hell are these? The stuff it's wrapped in crinkles under my fingers and part of me's worried about breaking it.
"The hell are these for?"

"They're flowers, Argine. It's a common expression of appreciation to gift flowers to those you love or worry about."

"I know THAT part, I'm talking about who these are for?"
I don't see many flowers either way - not like I want to hang around the garden that much. Only flower I've been seeing of late is the weird red one on Amica's head. And that one's weird since it floats around instead of being an actual flower hairpin or something.

"I want you to take these outside and put them near the tree."

Holding these... they feel delicate. They'd have to be from the garden, since the Nexus is locked up tight.
"I can't GO outside, doc."
And I get electrocuted if I try. Unless...

"Wait, you mean the little grassy area behind the facility, near the abandoned sectors?"
It's been over a year since I last checked that place out. I considered it briefly as an escape route before all of you got shoved into my bloodstream, but I probably wouldn't survive the drop. Not that you can reach the Weave Nexus by just climbing, anyway. It's not open-air.

"Correct. It's a simple task, so I expect that you won't encounter much trouble."

...Yeah. In fact, it's almost too easy.
"Is there a catch to this?"

"No? It's a simple delivery. If you're wondering why something simple for something so important as Parasignia documentation, Argine... "
I feel like I've been conditioned to suspect 'simple' tasks far more than complicated ones now.
She smiles. At least, her eyes do.
"You deserve a break. I don't want to put you through something strenuous right after your previous fight."

I- I don't really know what to say to that. Nanoweaver's too good for me sometimes. Couldn't even win the previous fight, so she had to bail me out and patch me up.
Argh, why was I even questioning her to begin with? I don't even know how she felt when I was dragged into the medbay - she had to look through all my wounds. Did I put her through something similar to the other time I lost - to Jin?

And yet, even after all that, I've STILL got questions in my mind.
"Can you tell me why, though? Who's even out there anyway?"

"No, nobody's out there. Consider it... a means of paying respects, like offering a bullet to your heroes."
I.... okay.
"Alright, sure thing. I'll report back to you when I'm done."

I breathe out, but only a tiny crumb of stress leaves my body.
The least I could do for her is to get things done quickly.
No. 1046900 ID: 1bf0e8
File 166613868946.png - (923.52KB , 1000x1000 , Openthedoor.png )


Here again, huh.
They don't even bother keeping the door locked here.

It's rusted as hell - it's always been like this, but with a bit of effort, it comes open anyway.
No. 1046901 ID: 1bf0e8
File 166613884774.png - (891.52KB , 1000x1000 , outside.png )

Looks like nothing's changed while I was gone. Dirt, some grass and a tree at the end.
Things're gonna be boring, so, we may as well sort out other stuff.
Whether it's plans, questions or other stuff, I feel like the time it takes for me to actually leave the flowers there means I've got some proper opportunity to discuss things with the lot of you.
Anything come to mind?
No. 1046902 ID: dee951

Hmmm. I wonder who is buried at the base of the tree, or who the tree was planted im memorium of.
No. 1046903 ID: 15c72a

...that looks like a grave. Who died?
Please give us a good look around, this is the first time we've seen outside.
No. 1046904 ID: e5709d

>"Honestly, do you know how much I worried about you? Even if our Parasignias protect us from dying, there's no shame in surrendering a fight you've already lost."
She didn't give us a chance to.

Those are called floweys.
... Okay fine they're called flowers.
Their main purpose is to act as giant calling cards for pollination-type animals, which causes them to morph into standard foodstuffs called foods.
Other species of flowers have powerful medicinal properties, so they're essential for making standard health kits.
Anyways, there's a ritual where you take surplus flowers and put them on graves or statues for respect. I guess you're supposed to put this on the tr-

... And that explains why this planet is doomed. Standard ecosystems depend on plant life. If no plants can grow in the wild anymore, this planet's population will starve without constant supply drops from off-planet. Easier and cheaper to just evac the population.
Sad, really.
No. 1046908 ID: 6c8a73

Dig up under the tree?
Otherwise, maybe meditate.
No. 1046909 ID: dee951

Ah. The biosphere's fucked. Hmmmm.

Something doesn't make sense here.

Even on a planet with a truly fucked ecology, the orbital period and day/night cycle, gravity, atmospheric makeup and crust composition and all that is still *fine*; such a planet should be FAR easier to terraform than any other possible planet that DIDN'T have those things! So 'evacuating the planet' is generally not a good idea unless *orbital habitats* are so much better than *domed habitats* so as to make the cost of spacelift worth it. Or if there's another habitable planet in system. And any civilization capable of true interstellar travel to get to some garden planet ludicrously far away should find setting up some self sufficient paradise arcologies at home for you all trivial!

But even given that... even given an apocalyptic ecological collapse, you all should still be. You know. On the surface. In habitation domes perhaps, maybe having specialized breather masks to go outdome, maybe farming in isolated greenhouses, tending renewable power systems and water purification systems nearby, going off in rovers to loot the remains of the civilization or mine things offbase or whatever. You should still be able to look out the window at what came before! And there should still be extremophile bacteria around even in the worst collapses, those could be modified to mitigate the worst aspects of collapse and speed recovery over the coming centuries!

Still, that's not a reason to keep you all in an underground base! For crying out loud, you are a civilization capable of nuanced and varied forms of nanotechnology! Even if engineering surface fixes is HARD for this sort of thing, it shouldn't be, you know... IMPOSSIBLE with your tech base!

What, are there roving kill-bots and hostile nanoswarms run by rampant transcendent/post singularity AI's everywhere, and you all need to maintain strict comm discipline and stay in a secure shelter except for very short surface jaunts? But that doesn't fit the facts either, if there were hard takeoff post-singularity AI's around that wanted you dead, you'd be DEAD and no implausible skill with rifles would make the slightest difference! And just hiding in a hole and lying to soldier types about the nature of the problem wouldn't help that situation!
No. 1046910 ID: dee951

Ah, right. Please use all of your senses to investigate everything around you. Smell the air, taste the soil and the bark of the tree, see if you can hear anything of note, dig a little bit, look closely at the composition of the soil, and do you have any more subtle or mysterious senses (radio?) that are online now that you can pay attention to, now that you are aboveground? Look in the sky and as far as you can see in all directions -- anything and everything might give us clues!! Is the tree safe to climb?
No. 1046925 ID: 36784c

Argine, ignore anyone telling you to dig up that grave. If that’s the grave of someone important, digging it up will piss off everyone, including the people that are trying to help you.
No. 1046933 ID: e5709d

That's not to say the PCC won't salvage the planet. It's just that terraforming a planet from something strong enough to completely suffocate the ecosystem takes time and money. Time and money the evacuating population of migrants doesn't have.
Even if the planet is eventually terraformed by a third party... well, it no longer belongs to its former inhabitants. Because they're dead. And their descendants might not want to leave their homes and jobs to colonize on some backwater experiment just because their great-etc.-grandparents happened to live on a this formerly dying rock. And all of this assumes the planet doesn't have even more military bunkers and hazardous wastes, which can't be solved with standard terraforming.
No. 1046944 ID: 30b9f6

>Biosphere's fucked
Or it's late autumn or winter season and cloudy overcast, just no frost. Was this field ever green, Argine? Plants work by way of chlorophyll, which allows them to absorb energy from the sun's light, and that's what makes 'em all green. Them not being green means... not a lot of sun for a while.

Hm. Maybe you're some sort of limbo subspace where the PCC tossed you? I feel that's wrong, but maybe not.

Eh, head on over to the tree, look about, put down those flowers by the grave - it's what one does to process grief, offer respects and typically have a moment of remembrance. It might even be this'll trigger something in us Sykes - so can you check out the grave site properly for us? What all is there? Perhaps Nanoweaver hopes this too, in which case this easy task may indeed have a secondary function.

Or maybe this grave has something to do with Mnemosyne's lost love.

>Anything come to mind?
Yeah, what's the deal with your sis - uh, the other one, Jin? She's super-capable, but she's rigid. She has freedoms you don't, but she seems awful stuck to whatever obligations are keeping everyone else's mouths shut on the topic of what's going on with this tournament and you.

She took her name based on yours, indicating a certain lack of initiative, which I find queer in someone that capable. She beat you black and blue, but... because she HAD to? She seemed to want to apologize in the aftermath, and practically let you beat her to death, making you seem like even more of a loose cannon than, frankly, you were.

And if she -isn't- the scheming type, then that moment may have been her actively trying to make amends for all that it made things worse for you. It's strange. I don't get what's up with her. For such an apparently straightforward person she sure makes herself into a mystery when it comes to her motivations and your relationship. I get very 'she knows something you don't and isn't allowed to say' vibes off of her. And being so straightforward... maybe she just clams up so she won't let anything slip.

That said, you implied in your last encounter that you'd had arguments before. Can you reflect on those and the nature of them? Did she ever argue strongly back or seem aggrieved and needled by anything you said? Or was it just jealousy on your end for her capabilities and the perceived comparisons everyone would make of you two, as the last generation of Trace Clones? That'd be an unfair comparison even at the best of times, and these clearly aren't, so you'd be right to feel upset, but did Jin actually ever really actively lord it over you? What really IS your relationship, whatever her motivations? And did it, at some point, change noticeably? Like she was let in on some secret you weren't?

>Anything else?
Mnemosyne. Who in this base would know more about her that you could approach and ask for intel?

You know a little something about a possible weak spot of hers from having access to SAI-based memories - that old love of hers, presumed lost. But, uh, given what happened with Astrolysis perhaps we should be more careful about antagonizing and taunting people. More... distract them during critical moments in the fight, perhaps? Even that's fairly transparent. Hm. Maybe you should talk to them about these things BEFORE the fight, not during.

>Anything else?
Amica, your 'second sis'. You probably need to tell her that whatever she is trying to do - and trying to do to you - you'd like to be your own fucking person and you don't appreciate her shoving random collections of memory fragments down your proverbial throat that makes you feel weirder things than the first collection of Sykes did.

I suggest whatever she wants to show you, you won't do any more tasks for her until she makes some assurances she's gonna tone down whatever vengeance-rivalry she's got going with Nanoweaver, or at least explain what's going on there. If Nanoweaver's both your mother, does that make Jin her sister as well, or was something else done to you that wasn't done to Jin?

>Anything else?
Parasignias - if you're to get one, you should speak more to the people you've had the most to do with so far since this started, and have had strong emotional reactions with or around. The sector bosses you've fought! I'd say Nickel, but that's because I like the cut of her jib and you might need more training. Or you could go to Judicium and... well, admit some things, let on some trust. Like something that happened with Amica. Or the bullet and the cards.

Or you can girl up and face down Astrolysis, admit she beat you good and that you choked in the moment - but that you're gonna come back stronger for it. See what her take about all of that was. Maybe grudge her some respect for being an absolute badass who could tank your literal best shot and half the roof to boot.
No. 1046948 ID: dee951

Oh! When I said to dig, I did NOT mean near the grave, or if near the tree, then just a few inches; nothing that might disturb anything.

Also! Depending on where you are, and the history, there might be competing types of plants -- there might also be purple (retinal, not chlorophyll using) plants, or they might have genegineered plants to use more parts of light, so they might be black, etc. etc.
No. 1047262 ID: 15a025

Pay your respects and offer the flowers over by the grave. Please don't dig up the grave

As for plans, we should try to get more training in with Nickle. It'd be good to get in even some light training to help you get back on your feet here.
No. 1047277 ID: 398700

guys she isn't an idiot, she's not going to dig up somebody's grave
No. 1047348 ID: 2c532d
File 166657752194.png - (0.96MB , 1000x1000 , flowerpatch.png )

>Argine, ignore anyone telling you to dig up that grave. If that’s the grave of someone important, digging it up will piss off everyone, including the people that are trying to help you.
>Ignore everyone telling you to dig up the grave.
>guys she isn't an idiot, she's not going to dig up somebody's grave

Exactly1 I'm already in enough shit already and I've got no interest in looking at bones.

...You guys also have to realize I don't have a shovel or anything to really dig things up with either, right?

>Please give us a good look around, this is the first time we've seen outside.
Are you sure this is the first time you've seen outside? You've talked about past events before, stuff I've never got to see. Do any of you remember anything like that?

Anyway, after I get closer, I realize there's a couple of little red flowers surrounding it.

I'm not actually sure there's anyone buried here at all - the dirt kinda looks... solid.
The grave marker's made out of wood and some kind of twine. Dunno what kind of wood it's made from, but it looks pretty weathered. Must've been here for a while.

The more I look into the horizon, at the dirt and the rock...
The more I wonder if what lies beyond the nexus is gonna be worth it.
It's been a long while since I've been outside and I don't exactly like it here.
...The wind in the distance is all that I can hear around me.
Knowing that there's absolutely nothing else...
...I wonder if that's scarier than being trapped here, being watched over by the Sector Bosses.

>Even if engineering surface fixes (for this destroyed world) is HARD for this sort of thing, it shouldn't be, you know... IMPOSSIBLE with your tech base!

...Can't fix a lack of people, though. Cloning clones is a bad idea, I've asked Nanoweaver about it before. And you need more than... a couple thousand normal people to repopulate a species?
Either option sucks and it's not sustainable to just grab traces from the few non-clones left and keep printing more.

>That's not to say the PCC won't salvage the planet.
I mean... will they? From the way Judi talked about them... I feel like you're not gonna want to salvage something that's going to be 'pruned', you know? I've got a bad feeling about whatever does the pruning in this case, because if the PCC's choice is to evacuate us - that means even them, a literal multidimensional organization, can't stop it.
...Just what the hell is happening out there in the Weave? If anything, the bits and pieces of info I end up overhearing just makes me have more questions.
No. 1047349 ID: 2c532d
File 166657758069.png - (952.04KB , 1000x1000 , flowerpatch2.png )

>Was this field ever green, Argine?

Beats me. You're the ones who've seen events I wasn't around for. But as far as I can tell, this place's always been like this.

>Hm. Maybe you're some sort of limbo subspace where the PCC tossed you? I feel that's wrong, but maybe not.
Nah, can't be. Been here all my life and if they could move a world like that, I'd be a little impressed.
Apparently people DID build a city out there in the Weave, one that's in between the other worlds. I'll have to check it out myself when I break out of here.

>Eh, head on over to the tree, look about, put down those flowers by the grave - it's what one does to process grief, offer respects and typically have a moment of remembrance.

I'll try, but all I can do is offer respect - I don't know who this grave is for.

Aaaaand done.

Is something supposed to happen now?

Nothing does for now, but... I stay crouched down, watching the blank, blue horizon.

>Maybe this grave has something to do with Mnemosyne's lost love.
Yeah, what WAS up with that? I remember hearing you talk about it back when I fought Nickel. Was that guy around here or something?
...Not like Mnemosyne ever talks about her personal life though.

>I wonder who is buried at the base of the tree, or who the tree was planted in memoriam of.

Honestly, looking at that grave? I'm not sure there's ANYONE buried there. I feel like if Site 70 was burying soldiers, we'd run out of land pretty fast. Cremation's usually how it goes.

And it is kind of weird that this is the only tree here...
It even looks different to the trees in the garden.
Even if it doesn't have any leaves, it seems pretty big and sturdy.

I've heard some rumors about it - it had to have grown pretty fast for one reason or another, since it didn't always used to be there.
That's probably possible. I don't care for agriculture but if we can grow a whole clone in a short period of time, speeding up how fast a tree grows is no problem at all!

>Yeah, I've got another question: what's the deal with your sis - uh, the other one, Jin? She's super-capable, but she's rigid.
You could say the same about glass. Sometimes the most rigid people are the most brittle.
Hell if I care if she breaks, though. Not my problem.

>It's strange. I don't get what's up with her. For such an apparently straightforward person she sure makes herself into a mystery when it comes to her motivations and your relationship.

It's as they say - 'why bother telling someone who won't understand?'
She thinks I'm so below her that I'm not even worth the time of day.
She wasn't ever really talkative to anyone, but given that the Sector Bosses and a buncha other clones all admired her for being so strong and capable, she probably thinks a good amount of people are below her.

>That said, you implied in your last encounter that you'd had arguments before. Can you reflect on those and the nature of them?

She's an arrogant bitch, that's what. I remember, when we were young and still learning about the world, she'd always be the one to shut down my plans. Don't they say that your youth is when you should have the most fun?
Lectures, reprimands... she always stuck her nose into my business. I just wanted space but she couldn't even give that to me - just had to remind me how much better she was all the time.
And after she won those stupid glasses, they're never off her face. Feels like she's always looking down on me even behind them.

>Did Jin actually ever really actively lord it over you?

...She did. That day of the tournament. When she humiliated me in front of EVERYONE.

>What really IS your relationship, whatever her motivations? And did it, at some point, change noticeably?

That was the day.
You go most of your life - annoyed with your sister. Maybe she's useful for this or that. But I never chased her off or anything, even despite our conflicts. But then one day - she breaks all of it down. Destroys you in front of anyone you could've made a good first impression on.
You think anyone wanted to know me after that? The worst sister, the worst of the last bunch. A waste of Gene traces.

...It's funny. After this long, I can't really seem to get mad at it in the same way any more. Like I'm just reading the facts off of a cheat sheet.
Even if everything's magically fixed, I'm not getting those months back. Even out there, if I make a name for myself - I bet people are going to bring up how badly I got destroyed.

You think that's hero-worthy?
It's why I NEED to become a hero. To throw that old reputation of mine in the trash.
To become someone who DESERVES to be remembered.

...I'm done reminiscing about her.
No. 1047350 ID: 2c532d
File 166657760162.png - (350.87KB , 1000x1000 , argineplacing.png )

>Who in this base would know more about Mnemosyne that you could approach and ask for intel?
...Judi, Ozone... I GUESS Nanoweaver or maybe even Diagram?
Judi's an option but I feel like she's likely to give me some kind of evasive answer because she only likes helping me in regards to physical gear. It's all hush-hush with whatever info she's got a hold on.
Doing this task for Nanoweaver right now's promising.
Ozone's a no-go. And Diagram's just a guess.
Tough stuff.

>Maybe you should talk to them about these things BEFORE the fight, not during.
Yeah, I guess I could. Mnemosyne didn't strike me as a person who likes to talk during combat anyway, seems too professional for that.

>I suggest whatever Amica wants to show you, you won't do any more tasks for her until she makes some assurances she's gonna tone down whatever vengeance-rivalry she's got going with Nanoweaver, or at least explain what's going on there.

Way ahead of you there, pal. It's weird though - for how scared Nanoweaver seems of Amica... she hasn't attempted attacking Nanoweaver at all yet. Why is that? If I hated someone, I'd at least TRY to hurt them.
...Only times when you stop's when you can't, or if they're stronger than you.
So it has to be either of those two reasons.

>If Nanoweaver's both your mother, does that make Jin her sister as well, or was something else done to you that wasn't done to Jin?
...I'm harboring a guess that she isn't. The way she talked about us... the prototype SAI...
If Jin was part of her plans, she'd have brought her up. When she's open about stuff, she's... REALLY open. Telling us about things we couldn't know otherwise.
What's her agenda? She's even dragged Diagram into this - and Diagram seemed to change her mind about Amica in the end. I guess I didn't ask her about what Amica said to her.
Maybe it has to do with what Nanoweaver said the other day - that I didn't have Memory Traces like a standard clone. That I was supposed to have the memories of someone else, but didn't.

Something about that SAI...She feels familiar to me. But I've never met her before.

>Pseudosignias - if you're to get one, you should speak more to the people you've had the most to do with so far since this started, and have had strong emotional reactions with or around.

Hrmm. I'll admit that it's something I'm struggling with. It's hard to visualize something you've never had before, right?
While I get what you're saying about the other Sector Bosses, I feel that - I should focus on the people who are closer at hand. It was only today that I realized that I know much less about Diagram than I actually should. Maybe that's what's holding me back?
And then there's Nanoweaver and Judi...

Dunno how much I've improved things between me and them but I'll admit...
Things seem a little better than before I met you. Maybe that amounts for something. I HAVE to be on the cusp of awakening my Pseudosignia, right?
No. 1047351 ID: 2c532d
File 166657765382.png - (420.37KB , 1000x1000 , argineplacing2.png )

My thoughts are interrupted by a shadow looming over me.

"Hello, Argine. Is there a reason you're here?"

How did she get behind me without making a sound?
I almost jumped out of my skin!

"I... was leaving some flowers behind."

I haven't seen her for ages - does she know that I've chosen to pursue her next as an opponent? If so, then what the hell is she going to try and say to me?
What if this grave's belonging to someone she knows?
...We could use this opportunity.
The question is, how we can get info out of her?
No. 1047358 ID: 12b116

Is there a reason she's here?
No. 1047367 ID: e5709d

Quick, ask her how long Armintell's hot dogs were

While she's stunned, ask about Parasignias and how they evolve in reaction to extreme emotional stimuli. Also, the psychic powers thing.
No. 1047372 ID: 9a2966

>unlocking a pseudosignia
You might be close with Judi? Or already mostly there, but haven't internalized it properly. Best you can do is reflect on it and keep trying. At least you know she's not got it out for you, even if she still keeps secrets. Well, to be fair, so do you, given that bullet you nicked.

>Enough about my sister
At least consider this: from here it seems you had an annoying "responsible" sister, right up until the tournament. And then she wrecked you. Not before. And not quite since. She even let you maul her back. That speaks to it being an out of character moment - or rather, something that was in character only with the right motivation.

What if that dumbass was ordered to crush you, and told not to explain why or by whom?

She's rigid, so she'd follow such a command if it came down the chain - or from someone who could justify it and whom she respects, maybe. But who'd have the authority, social or otherwise, to give it? And why? This is all speculation, mind you. It's just that her crushing you doesn't seem like the natural progression of your relationship there. That's why the betrayal aspect of it bites hard too, right? You weren't expecting she'd cut you down to size that brutally.

This is not to say you should forgive her for complying, if it happened that way. Forgiveness should be earned. But if it's true, it does point to something - that someone who wasn't Jin wanted it to happen.

>Mnemosyne's lost love
Let's not mention Armintell directly to start with, or with the explicit purpose to goad Mnemosyne.

Now, 'the deal' here was that a bit back as you slept we got to hitch a ride with Nanoweaver while she reconstructed Armintell's memories from earlier SAI recordings. We got some of Nanoweaver's perspective too - there was some stuff she said at the end. She thought there were things you 'didn't need to know'. She regretted Amica's return, said she had to prep security measures and such. Wondered whether she'd be able to sleep free of nightmares. She's definitely keeping some big secrets - from everyone from the sounds of it. Whether this was among them... doesn't quite seem like it. Nanoweaver herself questioned why she was reviewing the data other than to just painfully relive the past. But through that, we can at least tell that Armintell and "Seene" here hit off real well to start with. The final memory ended with a date at this very spot. And smooches.

>Never been green, you know more than me
We didn't know it's not been green across your lifetime. That's significant, because seasonal plants have yearly cycles and you've been around for long enough to spot them. If there's been no change, that means most stuff out here is and has been dead for a while. That may signify dire things about the state of life on the planet at large. From the recollections we know the sky used to be bluer, the sun's light clearer, the plants greener. This was a beautiful spot on a beautiful day when Armintell and Mnemosyne had their date.

Yet despite the state of things, someone has managed to plant a tree and some red flowers here and is tending them well enough that the latter lives - unless they're fake - and that'd likely be Mnemosyne. These red flowers are the very ones seen during the date in Armintell's reconstructed memories and should carry significance to her. Don't mess 'em up, in other words. Or apologize if you've trampled some.

Another thing that is true: this seems like the same date spot as we saw, but there was no tree at the time. Either, as you speculated, that tree grew technologically fast, or it's actually a fake hiding something, or... did someone's para- or pseudosignia do it? Is this an example of a location-based Pseudosignia? Maybe it's a hint at Mnemosyne's Parasignia. If her pseudosignia can make whatever she wants grow... that could explain the tree and the still-alive flowers. This was her dating spot, so may be where she first formed her Parasignia.

>"Is there a reason you're here?"
>How can we get info out of her?
Give her hooks to respond to, and little offense. Ask about the world before, or the flower patch, or anything she'd have a reason to speak about. Keep in mind she's likely to have been more affected by the past than other younger clones. Pry gently at the obvious attachment between her and whatever this marker stands for - probably Armintell, but who knows - but respect any reluctance to speak on the topic at the moment.

Start with telling her you're paying respects on behalf of Nanoweaver and just got stuck in thought, which is all true. You don't even know for sure who this marker is for, as Nanna didn't say. Mention that unlike the hall of heroes, this place feels... anonymous. Personal. Who were they? Somebody thought enough of them to put this up, at least. You can't imagine what it takes to make something grow properly out here.

Give her a meaningful glance and time to come up with a response. Check body language cues - I remember her getting fist-clenchingly frustrated with you back at the cradles when you asked why you hadn't graduated yet. There was something about you, or that cocky attitude, or maybe your situation, that aggravated her.

>Ask about the past
Mention the only real reason you have to care about the past of this world is as something to be inspired by - as stories. But you don't have too many of those outside of your lessons, as most people don't seem too eager to chat. You've been told you're an ugly reminder of something. And maybe you haven't been trying too hard to connect with your origins, either. You prefer to look forward - what use is there in dwelling on a world soon to be gone? But today...

Ask her whether it was rough when whatever happened... happened to the world. How did they pull through?

>Ask about you and your situation
Say that her, Judi, Nanoweaver, Diagram have all said in similar terms that you have potential - which, great, thanks - but that you also gotta turn it to the RIGHT things and places. Thing is, nobody's keen on saying much more, and some seem to suggest the right stuff is whatever you want it to be, which, okay, at least you get to choose your own goals, even if others have zero faith in them, think them shallow or think that this potential is a downright danger to those around you.

But you have no idea what you're being judged on here - what 'the right stuff' really is. And Ozone let slip there's a deadline coming. This entire place, it sounds like, is about ready to be done. So the tournament comes off as sink or swim on your end - you'll have to keep giving it your all, mess-ups or not.

How does SHE feel about that, by the way, as one of the longest-serving people still on this base?
No. 1047521 ID: e5709d

Also, it's possible Jin thought she was protecting you by ensuring you'd be seen as a loser so the governing body would pick you over her to go on a series of increasingly ludicrous suicide missions with the express intent of being used as a deniable scapegoat.
In which case you should punch her harder.
No. 1047718 ID: b708ea
File 166700310580.png - (798.00KB , 1000x1000 , observance.png )

>Let's not mention Armintell directly to start with, or with the explicit purpose to goad Mnemosyne.

>Now, 'the deal' here was that a bit back as you slept we got to hitch a ride with Nanoweaver while she reconstructed Armintell's memories from earlier SAI recordings.

Hmm. So I guess because you're made of memory splinters, Nanoweaver was playing them to look through their contents? I guess that would make sense - stuff like how Judi told me they'd be able to see what I was doing at the start, that wouldn't work if they didn't have any way of putting it in front of them.

From what I remember from what you've told me - Armintell was some normal kinda soldier guy, one of the non-clone soldiers who hung around the place?

...Yeah, he's totally dead. Just look at the grave in front of me.

>We got some of Nanoweaver's perspective too - there was some stuff she said at the end.

>She thought there were things you 'didn't need to know'. She regretted Amica's return, said she had to prep security measures and such. Wondered whether she'd be able to sleep free of nightmares. She's definitely keeping some big secrets - from everyone from the sounds of it.

...I don't like the sound of that. EVERYONE tells me that there's things I don't need to know, that I don't HAVE to be kept in the loop.
Was this what Amica was talking about when she said someone was lying?

I stand up, making eye contact with her.
"So, how come you're here, Mnemosyne?"

No need to tell her that Nanoweaver sent me. I gesture toward the flowers while a gentle gust blows through the area.

"Reminiscing. This used to be my favourite spot in the past. I spent a lot of time here with someone I cared for. But he's gone now."

Yeah she's definitely talking about Armintell here. I'm not going to let slip that I KNOW about this, though.
>Ask her about Parasignias while she's distracted!

I doubt she'd be happy if I interrupted her quiet time with questions that directly hamper her. Gotta play the subtle game, lead her down some lines of talk.

"Ah... so you're visiting his grave?"

She walks closer to the wooden post, reaching out to it.
"This isn't a grave - rather, a grave marker. A few people had died in the past. Because we couldn't bury bodies at Site 70, we opted for a marker, one that can encompass all of their sacrifices."

It's a little small for a grave marker.
I can't ask her directly about this, so... I'll let her talk.
Her hand presses gently on the top of the marker, as if to reassure it that she's here.
"Over time, I planted more flowers. Back in the day, this entire area used to be full of red flowers. And the two of us, we'd spar in the midst of it."

Happy memories, huh.
"What about the tree?"

She glances towards the aged wood.
"That, I do not know about. But it was grown there before the grave was erected. In the past, it used to bear fruit but no longer."

That means the tree would've had to have been grown through technologically accelerated processes. Mnemosyne didn't talk about it like it was there all along.

We linger in silence for a moment and she closes her eyes, as if offering up some kind of prayer.
I hear nothing but the howling of the wind.

"Was it rough when... whatever happened to this place, happened? I've heard stories about the outside looking different in the past."

"I suppose it was hard. But at the time, I was too busy thinking of other things to care. For the others - they at least had the hope to get out of here, to create the Weave Nexus and escape to a different life. Even though I can leave as well, I lost part of myself here - and I doubt I'll ever get it back."
Talking was never my strong suit. But talking to someone like Mnemosyne's even harder than I expected.

I don't know what it feels like to lose something like that. For me, it's a different kind of loss - one that keeps taunting you, because the person still exists. She just isn't someone you can trust any more.
No. 1047719 ID: b708ea
File 166700313225.png - (634.18KB , 1000x1000 , doyoulovethisworld.png )

"Argine, I've been curious about something. If you are to be an opponent of mine, then I wish to learn more about your and your beliefs."

If people would give a damn about me BEFORE I'm trying to shoot them, then I feel like things would be much better off in this facility.

I look away.
"Do you hate this facility, Argine?"

What kind of question is that? I grit my teeth, the question itself bringing back plenty of frustrating memories.
"Of COURSE I do. I've been kept here all my life, told that I'm worthless trash and had machines put into my bloodstream. Why WOULD I like this place?"

I don't bother looking her way. What else can she do but judge me for my opinion?
"I suppose that's fair. I'm sympathetic to you, Argine. Being put through this tournament in which your worth is judged, with vague conditions of success... it must be quite tough."
Talk about it.

She pauses.
"In a way, I hate this facility too."



Her face's stony as ever.
"I was born with nothing, given a name and a purpose. I don't blame you for your own anger - but it's immature. Though I acknowledge your own suffering - it's nothing compared to some of what the other Sector Bosses have gone through, myself included."

The more I get to see and hear from these people, the more I get the feeling like there really is something going on behind the scenes.
But I'd be a lot more sympathetic if whatever they've gone through wasn't also putting me through the wringer.

"Hate's a natural component of our lives, small or large. Directed towards vices that cripple us - it's a form of justice that binds us, as soldiers. Hate for injustice, cruelty, evil. Too much of it, even directed towards deserving topics and it narrows your vision, turning what was once a fine edge of a knife into a blunt, indiscriminate club. We both share a concept we hate - but the nuances of our emotions make all the difference."

So that's part of her philosophy, then?

"I... don't know if I hate you."
If anything - I admired Mnemosyne for how powerful she was. How detached from worldly troubles she seemed.
It was.. her association to the other Sector Bosses. She was part of the problem.
At least, I felt like she was.

"And I do not know if I truly hate you."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I mean what I said. You are an enigma, Argine. I do not know if I truly hate you. It is part of my role to stop you. But I've yet to be given a deep reason to harbor enmity against you."

She's implying that she still does, despite me not having done anything wrong.
Once again, silence. All I can do is think.

>What if that Jin was ordered to crush you, and told not to explain why or by whom?
If Jin was ordered to crush me, then why revel in it? Would the higher ups sincerely WANT to humiliate specifically me in front of everyone and ruin my life?
She celebrated destroying her only sister in front of everyone, and everyone loves her for it.

...It's so strange. The Sector Bosses certainly don't answer to the Project Leads right now and yet I'm still able to talk to, negotiate with and otherwise be around them in this tournament. If they were scared of me, wanted to keep suppressing me, then why would they hang around and even bother to talk to me now?

>It does point to something - that someone who wasn't Jin wanted it to happen.
Yeah, like she's ever going to tell me about it.
If she's under the control of someone, she wouldn't have let herself get destroyed in return.
No. 1047720 ID: b708ea
File 166700315170.png - (657.20KB , 1000x1000 , WalkinAway.png )

"That's enough for now. I wasn't expecting company, nor was I particularly wanting any."

What, does she want me to apologise? I can sense some level of frustration in her voice.

"Goodbye, Argine. When we fight, I hope it's an honourable one. And thank you for leaving those flowers."

She walks off, leaving me alone with the grave again.
...I wasn't sure what I expected from this conversation. What reason does she have for hating me?

I guess my gesture wasn't for nothing though - every damn scrap of info I get is something I can use against her.
Now I have to wonder; did Nanoweaver set this meeting up on purpose?
The timing's a bit too coincidental for that, she showed up only a minute or two AFTER I arrived and placed down the flowers.

Now, here's the question - do we want to investigate this place further, REALLY check out everything around here?
Or should we just get back to Nanoweaver, report in, get the documents and head off to get other tasks done.

As with before - I've got Investigation, Interrogation, Impression and Innovation.

If I spend time here to just... unwind further and investigate in more detail, I'll be able to do one less task for the rest of the day.
Keep in mind that - unless everyone STRONGLY chooses not to see Amica tomorrow, the time we've got left today's all we got.
No. 1047754 ID: 9a2966

>Investigation, Interrogation, Impression and Innovation
Don't forget Intermingling. At least if we want to have a shot at Pseudosignias. Judi, Nickel, Astrolysis and Diagram should be all fair game for this now, and I suggest at least one period be dedicated to it just so we don't slack on it entirely. Nanoweaver could be one to chill down with too, but you need to clear the air about some of HER secrets and motivations first, I think.

... and my sympathies. I hadn't realized that Jin actively revelled in her victory. Or that your one-sided beatdown was noticably well-received amongst the others. That must've been alienating.

But why? Why would they enjoy seeing some clone near to fresh out of the cradle get struck down, unless you were being some kind of uber-obnoxious brat? I think this ties together with Mnemosyne's "not sure I hate you" and Ozone's "your past burden is longer than you think" comments - there's something gone on here in the past that is related to you which affected nearly all of your relationships here. We knew that already, but it seems deep and traumatic if 'hate' is something that was on the menu for Mnemosyne, even if she seems conflicted about it here.

Either your Trace clone origin did something that... really messed things up for everyone, or something else you represent - perhaps something you were made with or by or by whom - did. Could your apparent relation to Amica be the cause?

It can't be universal, though. Judi doesn't treat you like crap any longer and - it's been revealed - never intended to. She's put a clear delineation between whatever happened and you - or she doesn't share in this hostile perspective or the knowledge that prompts it. For many others that delineation seems to be a lot harder to distinguish. Hm. Notably Judi doesn't appear to have her guard up against Amica as hard either. Maybe that's why she was entrusted with her - not just because she beat her - and with your training.

>wat next
Eh, we're here. Investigate this area, see what's to learn - biosphere's fucked up for sure, but maybe there's some conclusion or two we can draw from checking out that mystery fruit tree and the outside for a bit. Peer down at the ocean, see what's up with the waters, stuff like that.

And we can hedge on it, but I lean towards saying balls to Amica's deal tomorrow - her making you lose control of yourself to accept that box? Not cool. You need to spend more time prepping and figuring shit out this time around, anyway. Amica may be a path to that - and investigating the dang box o' sins - but she's surely not the only path to probe. You'll probably have two more opportunities to do her favors regardless, in the fight prep between you and Ozone and you and Jin + whomeever else, so my suggestion is you take some 'you time' away from her whatever schemes are ongoing.

What else... oh, there's one more thing before we settle on what's next.

>One more thing
It's later. Remember that 'Intel Review' in the morning before Astrolysis' fight? It came from a dream sequence we somehow got into. As in, Diagram got hacked to have a SAI memory reconstruction DREAM after your meeting with Amica and somehow we got to participate. Which... I'm worried we're a bit more omnipresent than we strictly should be at this point - although it could've been something prompted by Amica and we just got to piggyback on that. Or a splinter of ours is more active than they should be. (You know who you are.)

Anyway, the contents of that particular perspective was... eugh, it's hard to do justice in a summary, but suffice to say it was from the perspective of Dr. Patz Testemillion when he first arrived on-base and began training us - being the SAI being diffused across the base - and took parts of the prepwork being laid for the clone project. We got a who's who of early important personnel on the base - Patz's initial meetings with Drs. Lirren, Koilo, Teagan and Princess Leeza - basically a bunch of interpersonal information and points of view, as well as information on the clone project and its roots. Even got a bit on the wars that probably led up to this planet getting busted, which, yeah, mostly sounds like politics and resources growing scarce leading to flare-ups of serious fighting - including a prior war that apparently really messed up one of the Alliance species' homelands.

One particular interesting takeaway is that all the clones should have a "pacification trigger" genetically built in. We don't know for sure what is it though - nothing related to fighting, for sure, that'd be counterproductive. Perhaps that's for the best - you winning those fights by fiat will probably be seen as cheap and cheating by whoever's making judgement calls over it. But thinking about it... in light of your sister letting you beat her to hell and back, maybe hers got triggered back then?

Which... uh. Patz suggested the trigger be 'hurting those closest to them'. If that was maintained, it could imply Jin got done in by the realization she hurt you and that you were, in her mind, close. No, that's still not to convince you to forgive her, just laying it out there. So much about that situation sounded abnormal.

Swear we're not making this up. In fact, you could go talk to Diagram about it - she HAD the dream and should be interested in why it happened and the fact we got to tag along and share this with you. In fact, your next move after this, should be to speak to her and mention something else we found out - Dr. Lirren kept tools to remove SAI splinters. Worst case... perhaps she could go dig those out from storage?

Even this aside, maybe she's got her own information on Mnemosyne or could offer some other aid. Though don't forget to drop by Nanoweaver to pick up your spoils from your errand.
No. 1047766 ID: 15c72a

>Would the higher ups sincerely WANT to humiliate specifically me in front of everyone and ruin my life?
Yes, if you were seen as a threat. It could have been meant to break your spirit, so that you wouldn't be able to fight back once you were sent... wherever it is you're being sent. Remember, they lost the war. This place has been taken over by an outside force.
Alternatively, it might have been a last ditch effort to get you to awaken your Parasignia. Would you consider the incident to have been a major factor in its formation?

I don't think she meant she hates you. She dislikes you, perhaps... I'd guess it's something like frustration directed at a child throwing a tantrum over something trivial. Remember, she implied she's suffered far more than you. She probably thinks you're overreacting. Hmm, how old is she again? 10? 15? Even considering she was born fully formed, skipping 15-20 years of a human's younger years, she's got a ways to go before she can truthfully claim to be world weary and wise.

>investigate this area?
Not if it's going to take time away from your other tasks. From the looks of our visual feed I doubt we're allowed to see this place with much detail anyway. We're just getting colors, and it's like we can't see anything past 50 feet. Brown dirt, grave marker, tree, grey-blue sky. Can you describe the area to us? Is this a cliff or something?

Is there any way we can talk to anyone who knows what her- oh wait, Amica knows what everyone's parasignias are. She's fought them all! With that in mind, do some Investigation, check out the arena.
No. 1047768 ID: e5709d

>What reason does she have for hating me?
I can think of one obvious possibility: Maybe your mother murdered Armintell.

I could counter that thought: If your mother took a part of Mnemosyne that she'll never get back, then in turn, your mother forever lost the chance to have a lasting lineage, a lasting family, but Mnemosyne was given the opportunity to take your mother's opportunity by mentoring you. Mnemosyne didn't, and she abused you instead, and that's on Mnemosyne, not your mother.

I think it's going to take a sledgehammer to the pecking order for this facility to realize that, in the end, they had more influence on driving your mother insane than they pretend to admit
and that they aren't fated to do it all over again, even if you're similar in personality (and possibly Parasignia) to her, so their abusive attitude towards you is just defeatist self-pity.

>What do
Practice with your sword. I'm no swordsman, but I've rigged them for years.

In the heat of a melee battle, everything begins and ends with motion. You need to know where you're going, where your opponents are likely to go, and what you plan to do when you get there. Even if you're standing still, your mind needs to be constantly focused on where it's going to move next. Armies do not begin with weapons, they begin with mobility (or the mobility of their weapons, I dunno), and end with ending their enemy's mobility. Possibly forever.

We'll start with Tsushima's four stances: Stone, Water, Moon, and Wind. Don't ask me why fire was replaced by moon, but don't ask me about the absence of the metal stance either.
Stone involves overpowering dexterous opponents. These guys typically have swords in their hands at all times and have a higher parrying rate than you, making mindless automatic strikes suicidal against them. Your best counter is to force them to block attacks that balance out power and speed in careful synchronization. Practice by performing quick, downward swings. You'll need to do this repeatedly until you can swing faster than they can safely dodge, yet stronger than they can safely block. You can also practice thrusting to overwhelm any attempts at parrying, but only do this if you're sure your opponent is off-guard.
Water involves breaking guards and shields. Shields, through the use of decelerating attacks over a short distance, require little focus to block attacks and a relatively low quantity of stamina, allowing them to tire out angrier opponents before they pull out a trick execution. Their weakness is that blocking any attack requires some stamina and can require more to keep the heavy shield in the right balance away from them. Your objective isn't to be the fastest, and definitely not to be the strongest; it's to capitalize on the shield's need for order, formation, and supplies to function properly. Perform lazy strikes meant to push the shield away from the center of mass, forcing your opponent to spend more time and effort keeping the shield stable than your efforts at attacking, eventually tiring them out before you and leaving them at an ironically disadvantageous defense with a useless weight tied to their arm.
Moon involves hitting anyone whose 'strategy' is to be bigger and tougher than everyone. This involves anyone who fights through attrition rather than skill. More importantly, they can draw attention to themselves through their sheer presence and threat, allowing rogues to flank from behind and sneak attack while you're distracted, which can be truly fatal. The counter is ridiculous, but effective (maybe). Spin while holding the sword out; while this is typically stupid in a straight fight, your focus is on downing an opponent with excessive health and defense; this will give a basic counter to any flanking subordinates while conserving enough power to chunk out a pound of flesh from the tank, distracting them in turn. In general, however, I recommend you stick to gadgets when fighting tanks and work on experimenting with what stops them from functioning in battle.
Wind involves countering 2H weapons. Enemies with a longer range than yours can play like a hybrid between a swordsman and a shooter and stay just out of range of your attacks while pummeling you with their weapon. The counter is simple: extend your range. Don't be afraid to kick the opponent, they don't have a weapon dexterous enough to 'parry' your knees. When things get tough, risk it all with jumping strikes; remember, the cost of a long blade is the force needed to move the tip from a larger distance to the fulcrum, so you are capable of jumping faster than they can swing.

Blocking, dodging, and parrying are crucial when facing an opponent who has more training than you. You're going to need to focus on this if you want to stand a chance against Astrolysis in a straight swordfight. Each has their advantages.
Blocking is all about combat focus. While it leaves you hindered, each block gives you time to think. It also gives anyone you're protecting the time they need for their own problems. If someone is swinging angrily at a fast rate, block long enough to remember where you are and maybe they'll tire themselves out by the time you have a plan.
Dodging, if you can pull it off, means you've just negated your opponent's attack and now have new opportunities in a new position to perform different offenses. Dodge correctly, and you can bypass your opponent's shields while in a position that isn't in danger of attack. Dodge faster, and you can attack while your opponent is still swinging at empty air. Dodge power attacks every chance you can get.
Parrying is hard. It takes skill to intentionally hit an opponent's weapon without getting stabbed, and even more to deflect the blow away from you. But the payoff is amazing: your opponent, for a few seconds, is the equivalent of disarmed and defenseless. Stab 'em good. Do not attempt to parry power attacks, you're going to get your ass kicked.
No. 1047771 ID: dee951


What... what is all of that? None of that has anything to do with martial arts, melee combat, how swordfighting works, hand to hand combatives... or anything, really.

Where did you COME UP with this? Video games?? *Which* video games? They sound fun, but it doesn't have anything to do with... yaknow... fighting!
No. 1047845 ID: 15a025

Note sure if there's much else to investigate out here. Let's go report back.
No. 1047940 ID: b708ea
File 166718333371.png - (639.91KB , 1000x1000 , WalkinAway2.png )

>Two count for return, one for staying.

I'll head back. Honestly, I'm not sure there is that much I can get from here. Given that I had lost to Astrolysis for not being prepared enough, I'm going to try and make all the time count.

>Don't forget Intermingling. At least if we want to have a shot at Pseudosignias.
We'll discuss it again when I'm formally planning things out. Gotta deliver the news to Nano and pick up the documents first.

>Why would they enjoy seeing some clone near to fresh out of the cradle get struck down, unless you were being some kind of uber-obnoxious brat?

Hey, I wasn't ever THAT bad. Sure, I mean, back then... I'd pull pranks on other people, but nothing outright dangerous! Stuff like putting glue into people's shoes, that kind of stuff.
...But when it comes to everyone else...
Tell them to have someone, give 'em a show... and they'll have plenty of fun doing it.

>Could your apparent relation to Amica be the cause?
Far as I could tell, Amica's NOT been around before I was. And I got destroyed before she was around, that much was true.
I can't remember when Judi started wearing her in her scarf form, but, Amica couldn't have been here for more than a year.

>And we can hedge on it, but I lean towards saying balls to Amica's deal tomorrow.
Again, I'll save the final decision for when we're formally picking my next move.

>Would you consider the incident with Jin to have been a major factor in the formation of your Parasignia?
It was, but that can't be the only reason why, would it? If anything, it would be detrimental to the Sector bosses if I got a Parasignia, because it makes it harder to contain me.

>Can you describe the area to us? Is this a cliff or something?
Yeah. It's a pretty steep cliff, with white rock. There's the oceans below and the waves are crashing against a beach. I wouldn't mind this place if it didn't feel off, staying out here near a grave.
No. 1047941 ID: b708ea
File 166718336518.png - (559.87KB , 1000x1000 , HandOff.png )

>Remember that 'Intel Review' in the morning before Astrolysis' fight? Diagram got hacked to have a SAI memory reconstruction DREAM after your meeting with Amica and somehow we got to participate.

I start walking. We've got a lot to sort through, it seems.
With how much weird shit's been happening? I'm not even going to question it.
I'm willing to bet it might have something to do with how Diagram's linked up with us before - but her room's pretty far away.
Would it even be possible to... uh, 'bounce' the SAI signal across to her place? Maybe? I don't know!

>Anyway, the contents of that particular perspective was... a bunch of events from the Project Lead's perspective - Patz Testemillion's initial meetings with Drs. Lirren, Koilo, Teagan and Princess Leeza - basically a bunch of interpersonal information and points of view, as well as information on the clone project and its roots.

Whew. Talk about a bunch of old names, huh? I don't really know much about the project overall - I guess the higher ups deemed it unnecessary for us grunts. But I have to admit, I'm getting sucked into hearing about all this stuff. It's more interesting than I thought.

>All the clones should have a "pacification trigger" genetically built in.
Huh. Given how much everyone here likes decking each other in the face, I don't exactly blame the project leads on this. But if you don't know what it is, then neither would I. I don't think I've experienced anything like that besides having a SAI in me.

>Which... uh. Patz suggested the trigger be 'hurting those closest to them'. If that was maintained, it could imply Jin got done in by the realization she hurt you and that you were, in her mind, close.

That still doesn't make sense. People here... we form pretty close bonds to each other. There's been time and time again, of people having a falling-out, or even hurting each other on an extent LIKE what Jin did to me. Maybe not in front of everyone, but...
Shouldn't this be more well-known, if there IS a pacification trigger?

>Swear we're not making this up. In fact, you could go talk to Diagram about it - she HAD the dream. In fact, your next move after this, should be to speak to her and mention something else we found out - Dr. Lirren kept tools to remove SAI splinters. Worst case... perhaps she could go dig those out from storage?

Ah! Diagram' DEFINITELY a good source for this - I hate how everything's being put into question now - but if anything, Diagram CAN dig something else up.
...I mean, she had to have been collaborating with Nanoweaver on this too. If it's too awkward to ask Nanoweaver about some of these topics, then Diagram's our next best bet.
I'll put it on the list.
...Looking for tools to remove SAI splinters...
I'm not sure what we could do with that, but - if worse comes to worst, we can probably extract you Sykes?
Not as our first move though - we don't know what repercussions it could have.

>Practice with your sword!
I said no before. Not interested right now.


Nanoweaver's standing expectantly as I arrive.

"Yo doc. I put the flowers there. Did you end up sending Mnemosyne my way or something?"

She shakes her head, but the files are already in her hand.
"No - you just had the fortunate timing of arriving when she normally pays a visit to the grave marker. But I'm glad you carried things out properly. I've got the files ready for you already."

Huh. Dunno if it's a coincidence or not, but that's convenient.

I'm given the files and I give it a quick glance through - it seems to check out.
"Thanks for the help again, Doc. Got lots to do today, I'm headin' out."

Let's try to keep things moving. I'm going to have to read the contents of the file somewhere more private, so I don't have someone walking in on me.

So I take it back somewhere where I can read it without anyone bothering me: my room.
The Prototype SAI's hidden under my bed, but I guess it's not going to screw with us unless I'm making physical contact.
No. 1047942 ID: b708ea
File 166718339767.png - (501.93KB , 1000x1000 , Documentation.png )

Alright... so THIS is Mnemosyne's documents, huh.
Freshly written by Nanoweaver.
She typed Nickel's report, but this time it's written instead.
Guess she's running out of printer ink or something, heh.
But maybe it's written because it's newer info or something?

MEDICAL REPORT - SUBJECT: Mnemosyne - Abbreviated Parasignia Log It is unknown when Mnemosyne's Parasignia directly manifested - but it seems to be exhibiting properties unseen of in the other subjects with access to the ability. The first known demonstration of her abilities was performed by accident - when Mnemosyne was reaching out for a spare magazine - her powers triggered, bringing the magazine over to her and causing quite a stir. While initially, the exact mechanics of the Parasignia were unknown and misinterpreted as a standard Parasignia - Mnemosyne's Parasignia was instrumental in the activation of the Weave Nexus, serving as an anchor for other, untrained Parasignia usage through the resonance effect that empowers other users in close proximity. Parasignia Description: Mnemosyne's Parasignia demonstrates properties unseen in the facility's known set of Parasignias - but it's most apparent effects is for her to create strong gusts of wind with extreme speed and force. Careful application of this ability allows Mnemosyne to glide above the ground or even temporarily fly through short bursts of air currents. This does not initially come off as unusual for Parasignias - as elemental powers such as Judicium's have already been documented. But the difference for Mnemoyne is in it's use. While certain users are able to create and maintain small spaces where they can store or manifest equipment, such as Argine's Guns Blazing, Mnemosyne possesses the ability to create entryways into that 'void space' - which, for her, seems to host a localized weather event of significant proportion. The byproduct of her abilities - such as being able to levitate objects, angle projectiles and accelerate thrown objects are all derived from her creating openings 'into' her Parasignia on the surfaces of objects nearby. From Mnemosyne's personal accounts - while the technique is focus-intensive, certain mechanical limitations seemed to be accounted for by her own abilities - such as allowing her to fire her guns using her own air currents, which would normally be mechanically unfeasible without significant modification. Considering the impossibilities that other Parasignias present, like Argine's ability to combine disparate weapon types into functioning equipment with superior efficacy to their component parts, this has simply been accepted as another byproduct of Parasignia abilities. Small openings are easy to maintain and seemingly 'automated' subconsciously by Mnemosyne's intended goals, but still need physical contact to create. Finally - despite Mnemosyne's ability to redirect projectiles - due to her inability to create openings in intangible or fluid surfaces such as air and water, Mnemosyne is unable to use her wind as a direct protective barrier - though multiple alternative defensive mechanisms have been proposed such as floating shields, implementing a riot shield into her toolset like Judicium's, or using her gales to assist her dodging - something her subconscious control over her ability supports. According to sources external to this facility - this kind of Parasignia is a rare and documented phenomena, though the PCC's reluctance to introduce relevant knowledge on Parasignias into worlds such as ours means that we do not have the proper terminology to classify it yet. As such, it will still be called a Parasignia - though it seems to be something else altogether. *Will need to update terminology when our research data is synchronized with the PCC's. Unmanned drones have attempted to document the inside of Mnemosyne's Parasignia, but were otherwise unsuccessful, being pushed back by the gale-force winds that the entryways create. While several options were discussed about forcing a way through, the subject voiced concern about damage to the facility and personnel, including herself. Considering the conclusion of the Weave Nexus was in large part assisted by Mnemosyne's presence, further investigation has been suspended at her request.

It's kinda weird reading about yourself in third person.
But given that these are mind powers and everything, it probably could change a lot from person to person - that's what Judi said, right? Outside of here, people's powers change a lot. Maybe for us, things don't change entirely, but we get little extra effects from it? Like how Nickel could turn invisible with her ability.
Either way, we've got some GREAT info this time.
Question is how we'll prepare for it.
No. 1047943 ID: b708ea
File 166718341360.png - (785.18KB , 1000x1000 , Documentation2.png )

Wait. There's a loose piece here - it's behind Mnemosyne's pages.
This page's... different.

It looks like a picture of a body - red markings on it.
This is - a casualty report.

But... whose? Mnemosyne's still alive, so...
This has to be Armintell's.

....A gunshot wound to the superscapular artery...

...You're not going to survive that. Maybe you've got the time to give someone your dying words, but you'll be dying soon.
Armintell got shot and died, huh.
It had to have been IN this facility, wouldn't it? If he died on the battlefield somewhere, it wouldn't be noted down like this.

I don't know how to feel about this. I've heard about plenty of people dying, but... here? In this facility?
I've been shot through the head and I still live. So this all went down in the 'old days'... back when people still died when they were shot.

That means... someone had to have shot him here.

>I can think of one obvious possibility: Maybe your mother murdered Armintell.
That would explain a lot, wouldn't it?
Pff. What happened to the whole idea of, 'don't blame the children for the parent's sins?'

Then again... if they're under the impression that I was MEANT to be a copy of someone, someone who DID do something bad...
Then I'm starting to see where some of these things line up.
But that's -
That's bullshit! I'm my own damn person! This whole time, I haven't GOT any memories of other people and the SAI doesn't count!

Besides, what reasons would people have for murdering each other here? You're in an isolated facility in the middle of the ocean! You're not going to be able to run away from this!

Something's not adding up. Why would Nanoweaver INTENTIONALLY give me a copy of this? She told me that I was meant to be the continuation of someone's memory, but if everyone thinks that it's my predecessor who killed people, then why would she explain that it was a secret?
And is some sickly girl shooting a soldier in the chest meant to be something possible? If we're thinking that girl from that memory of someone with Astrolysis is the sick girl - then frankly, I don't think she could pick up a gun at all.

Just what the hell happened before I was born?
No. 1047945 ID: e5709d

When was the last time your arms got ripped off?
Come to think of it, whatever happened to your predecessor's corpse?
You came out of the vat full-grown. You can survive headshots that would kill any of us. How hard would it be to grow a clone from the comatose parts of a brain-dead corpse?

>sickly girl
Are you serious? Sickly girl protagonists are shoe-ins for mage builds! And you're holding a report saying Mnemosyne has a portal/telekinesis/nature power! In a facility designed to produce psychic supersoldiers! And even if she didn't have a Parasignia, this military base was up to its armpits with advanced automated combat weaponry - anyone could have killed him with that!

>No practicing with the sword ever
... Fine. But I want you to come with an essay on why you don't even cover the basics by the end of the day.
You're procrastinating on this one subject, and I think it's for deeper reasons than you realize.

Okay, let's do some basic prep work.
Your strategy is going to revolve around Pitch Perfect. Not only on the surfaces, but on your gear. Worst-case scenario, she opens portals through your plate armor to a null-matter zone and you're sucked to the ground by the vacuum.
Tinker with Pitch Perfect so you can create various types of viscous tars. Non-flammable and acidic tar composition will help you disarm most of Mnemosyne's flat surface deploy areas.
Enemy portal powers mean your throwable gear is at a disadvantage. You need ambush and vector skills.
So, in short, I recommend you tinker with your gear to work with tar.
No. 1047968 ID: dbf60f

>remove you Sykes
Indeed. Or maybe just particularly anomalous or cheeky-tongued parts of us. Maybe Diagram can run some diagnostics.

>I don't think I've experienced anything like that besides having a SAI in me
Did you not freeze up in a battle fairly recently when we were being particularly unhelpful?

>Shouldn't this be more well-known, if there IS a pacification trigger?
Two options present themselves. One is that people know, they just don’t share with people NOT in the know - it’d be like exposing an Achilles heel, after all. The other... is that nobody was told and the conditions are specific enough to only apply rarely and with effort. You could be among the first clones to really possess this info...

>Would it even be possible to... uh, 'bounce' the SAI signal across to her place?
The SAI was mentioned to have been dispersed throughout the entire base, so in theory, probably yes.

>I can think of one obvious possibility: Maybe your mother murdered Armintell
Maybe, but plenty of things could have lead to Armintell’s death - accidental discharge or infighting among the staff due to the stresses of world events and the base’s relative isolation, for example. Or a fierce argument over the direction of the project and his lover. In this, there could be many culprits, including bad luck. No doubt there is a tragic truth to unveil - and SAI-reconstructed memories could lead to it - but we know little for sure yet and our options for pursuing this lead are few. Even in a worst-case scenario, you are not guilty of the sins of your origin - I stand by that.

Not to mention the reason you are disliked could be different for each individual Boss that has it in for you - or your ‘mother’... which I half feel was intended as a reference to Nanoweaver, not the mystery girl, no? At least that was how Amica referred to her earlier, unless I missed a cue.

That reminds me. Koilo did have a sickly daughter suffering from a particular degenerative disease - the Grasp. Could the girl from Astrolysis’ memories have been her?

>Just what the hell happened before I was born?
This was a secret lab run by an alliance of five species’ best minds fostering psychic hybrid clones to turn into supersoldiers, operating on dwindling resources during an escalating world war that seems to have lead to a planet’s imminent destruction while simultaneously ending up proving the multiverse theory and making first contact. Forgive me the snark this one time, but... LOTS. Lots happened. Worth keeping in mind any time you are tempted to leap to to judgement.

Let’s go find Diagram.
No. 1047972 ID: 15c72a

Dear lord that Parasignia is a monster. Control of air is such a flexible skill, there's basically no weak point you can target in the upcoming fight. Instead, you're going to have to work around it, avoid its strengths. Remote-firing weapons means you're going to have to defend yourself from all sides... you might actually be best off using tar to stick yourself to the ground so she can't blow you off your feet! Also yeah like kome said you need a solution to prevent your weapons and gadgets from being taken from you.
Thankfully she can't directly use it to block projectiles, but she'll probably have a bunch of barriers on hand that she'll be shooting around, like mobile cover. You're going to have to focus on armor penetration and/or bouncing projectiles. Also, thrown gadgets are straight out, she'll just blow them off course.

>continuation of someone's memory, but you don't have those memories
Maybe we're looking at this wrong. Maybe you were supposed to have those memories, and the fact that you *don't* is why people are pissed at you. A failed attempt at bringing back the dead...? Maybe she witnessed his death, but was silenced before she could point out the murderer. Maybe that's what that bullet was for... to kill the murderer if they refused to face justice? Or maybe she claimed his death was accidental, and nobody knows for sure if she was a murderer or not.
Anyway, that would explain why you're being shown this, and why Diagram and Nanoweaver keep looking at the past through us. You're meant to be a link to the past, so they can find justice... and this is meant to jog your memory, or at least prompt us to "aim" correctly at the right memories.
No. 1048025 ID: 72f20b

Well, I think it's alright if we ask Nanoweaver those questions directly before leaving, right?

Worse think that can happen is she will give a generic excuse about being busy and we would have wasted no time.
No. 1048091 ID: b708ea
File 166728448128.png - (322.18KB , 1000x1000 , MOREPLANNIN.png )

>When was the last time your arms got ripped off?
Ah, never? I mean, I've lost a finger or two once, but they grew back.
I've definitely seen someone lose their arm, put it back on the stump and be fine after a few days though.

>You came out of the vat full-grown. You can survive headshots that would kill any of us. How hard would it be to grow a clone from the comatose parts of a brain-dead corpse?
The whole 'surviving headshots' thing seems to be related to whatever causes Parasignias to work, so I don't think that was always the case.
I dunno how cloning works exactly, but using clone parts to make more seems like it would cause problems, the whole 'cloning a clone' issue with gene degradation.

>Your strategy is going to revolve around Pitch Perfect. Not only on the surfaces, but on your gear. Worst-case scenario, she opens portals through your plate armor to a null-matter zone and you're sucked to the ground by the vacuum.

That's a great idea, actually! Mnemosyne can't create portals on surfaces with liquids on them, and the stickiness of tar's perfect for disrupting her!
Wait wait, but that does pose problems for mobility - like if I fell over, I'd find it harder to push myself back up.

New proposal: I cover myself in oil.

Or lubricant, it's not too hard to find a bottle or two of it around and I could put a thin layer on my gear, enough so there's a thick enough film over it that I'm immune to her Parasignia without negatively impacting my movement. Against someone like Mnemosyne, that's pretty damn important.
Tar'll end up gumming up my weapons so I think this is probably the better solution. It shouldn't take long enough to take a timeslot away from me, but I think I'll have to prep it

>Did you not freeze up in a battle fairly recently when we were being particularly unhelpful? That seems kinda like a Pacification trigger.
That's got nothin' to do with the pacification trigger. And no, I don't care about Astrolysis, not enough to consider her someone close to me.

>Plenty of things could have lead to Armintell’s death.
Yeah, but... why give me the files if that's the case?

>Not to mention the reason you are disliked could be different for each individual Boss that has it in for you - or your ‘mother’... which I half feel was intended as a reference to Nanoweaver, not the mystery girl, no?

I'm doubtful it was Nanoweaver. If it was her - then why give me the literal piece of evidence that incriminates her, especially given that we're in knowledge of things that Nanoweaver doesn't even know that we know - namely the flashbacks that I'm not present for?
Something's really not adding up still.

>I think it's alright if we ask Nanoweaver those questions directly before leaving, right?
...I'm already in my room again.
If I read through the damn papers in front of her, then I'd actually be able to directly ask her, but not NOW.

>That reminds me. Koilo did have a sickly daughter suffering from a particular degenerative disease - the Grasp. Could the girl from Astrolysis’ memories have been her?
That's a possibility, yeah. We couldn't see her face though.

Koilo's a Keletzar though, and uh, though the memory's faint, I didn't see any feathers or horns on that girl. Are you sure there's nobody else who matches Koilo's description better? Actually, to be honest, I don't know as much as I would like to on him. What's he like anyway? Maybe I'll ask Diagram about this because she saw the dream too.

>This was a secret lab run by an alliance of five species’ best minds fostering psychic hybrid clones to turn into supersoldiers, operating on dwindling resources during an escalating world war that seems to have lead to a planet’s imminent destruction while simultaneously ending up proving the multiverse theory and making first contact. Forgive me the snark this one time, but... LOTS. Lots happened. Worth keeping in mind any time you are tempted to leap to to judgement.

...Yeah, good point. Just my luck, getting born in the middle of all this.

>Dear lord that Parasignia is a monster. Control of air is such a flexible skill, there's basically no weak point you can target in the upcoming fight.
I doubt it. The report ALREADY pointed out that she doesn't have a barrier. And you know what wind does poorly against? Explosions, fire, lasers. MAYBE she could diffract the laser beams, but that's a level of precision not in her skillset. She makes portals to a wind hellzone, she doesn't MAKE the wind itself. Big difference.
We've got options, she has limitations. We'll be... fine, I think, especially since we're making plans for dealing with her in advance.

>Maybe we're looking at this wrong. Maybe you were supposed to have memories from the past, and the fact that you *don't* is why people are pissed at you.
Yeesh. Bringing someone back as a clone to then pass judgement on them? That sounds like one of the dumb philosophy questions I've heard get floated around before.
But again, Nanoweaver told me that my status as someone with a Memory Trace of a clone instead of a past soldier is a big deal and something to be kept a secret. The other Sector bosses couldn't have known about this.

Besides that, I've put together a list of shit to do.
We've got a few options -

1. See Diagram and ask about various things - checking up on the Amp Ring's development progress, asking her about the dream. She could probably catch me up to speed and point stuff out that you guys didn't notice initially. Dunno if she said anything about it when you were looking at it at the time.

2. Talk to Astrolysis... I guess? If you want me to do this, there'd better be a good reason to do so.

3. Train further with Nickel. I guess it was probably a bit too optimistic to expect me to implement everything I've learnt after one training session, especially one where I got strangled. Not too keen on this but she DID do a decent job of it.

4. Acquire armor from Judicium again. Like before, it can't hurt getting a bit of extra padding and protection, though it'll only be good for the upcoming fight. Should protect me against a good few hits from lower-caliber weaponry.

5. Innovate on my existing gadgets and tools. While one improvement already comes to mind, improving the Pitch Prefect to help prevent Mnemosyne's abilities, other ones can still be suggested. I could try to squeeze in more than one improvement if any come to mind. In this case, while I'll be putting lubricant on my gear to prevent her from using it against me, the Pitch prefect's ability to cover surfaces in tar's advantageous to me.

Other tasks I haven't listed here can also be suggested, like toying with that Prototype SAI again. Knowing how Amica works though, she's probably got it set up so it doesn't do anything unless she wants it to happen.

If any of these decisions don't pan out like someone being too busy or inaccessible, I'll move on to the next option. What's the plan?
No. 1048094 ID: 15c72a

>The other Sector bosses couldn't have known about this.
Shouldn't. They wouldn't know only if the secret was successfully kept.
Still, if they think you were made with a Skill Trace, then they might be annoyed that you didn't come out with the skills they expected you to have...? I wonder what skills those were, exactly.
What philosophy questions have you heard?

>cover myself in oil
Don't get lube on your gloves or shoes, and that could work fine.

>she doesn't make wind itself
That's true, but being able to prep the arena ahead of time means she can set up terrain to optimize her portals, allow her to create wind from any direction she pleases. She could even use it to make a sonic weapon, which means you might consider wearing earplugs... Oh, and while she can't make a true shield against bullets, the wind will still throw your aim off at long distances.

No. 1048098 ID: affa55

3 for how to conceal yourself. She can't hit what she can't see.
OR there's
5 because it feels as if [Barrier] may prove crucial. Her file did not specify how many objects she could influence. Shields work great if lots of sharp objects get tossed.
No. 1048359 ID: b708ea
File 166748236763.png - (783.03KB , 1000x1000 , tinkering.png )

>They wouldn't know only if the secret was successfully kept.
>Still, if they think you were made with a Skill Trace, then they might be annoyed that you didn't come out with the skills they expected you to have...?
Well, Skill Traces don't exist, Nanoweaver just pretended that Memory Traces were them this whole time so I didn't go asking around and make things awkward.
The way Memory Traces are used from how Nanoweaver told me (when I knew them as Skill Traces) was that it was more like the way of shortcutting actually teaching us basic things like language, movement and how to hold a gun. A lot of the more personal memories are jumbled up and the traces are basically using the more ingrained, shared memories that everyone would have so that people weren't just replicas of other people's memories.
Even if I was supposed to be a copy of someone else, I never had any memories like that, but I could still function. Apparently some people do get memories of the past - sometimes as nightmares, sometimes as weird sensations. But I've NEVER had it myself. That's... weird. But I wouldn't know any more about it.

>What kind of Philosophy questions did you hear?
There was this DUMB hypothetical, where - people were asking, if you made a clone with the memories of a criminal and that clone was also physically identical to the criminal - is it then, just, to try the clone for justice if the original isn't available?
There was a few permutations of this but the key point is that it's something that couldn't really happen in reality. If you asked my take on it - well, I'd say that it matters if it's the original or not, even with the memories. Even if the clone's perfect, it's still not... REALLY the original individual, just someone who's near identical.

Down to business. First things first, Innovation.

This time around, I went and borrowed some tools from one of the repair stations in the Amenities section, so I'm going to make some modifications.

First off....

The Pitch prefect has been further improved.
I've already tuned this baby up a few times, but now it's getting pretty damn formidable.
It already has the airburst functionality from before, now it's got Extra Volatility. Shooting any surfaces covered by the tar will now set it on fire even MORE effectively. I figured out a way to combine thermite with the tar for this kind of effect. I didn't really consider myself much of a chemical engineer, but I'm not REALLY doing much of this stuff.
Like how I've got a finite amount of the Explosive Discs, even if I can regenerate them later - now I've only got 5 shots of the Pitch Prefect in total with this improvement added on - adding on from the airburst capsules I made before.
Given that these tarballs can be detonated mid-air, cling to different surfaces AND bullets cause them to burst into fire violently, it's going to be pretty bloody worth it even despite the limited ammunition.

Next, the Barrier Generator has been improved to have a shockwave functionality and stabilizer.
Improving the baseline performance of the Barrier Generator's tough, honestly. It's already something that projects an entire protective, hardlight surface. It's got a lot of complicated pieces in it.
So I focused on improving features - and one way of doing so is having the shield, after being hit - allows me to create a blast that pushes back opponents. It allows me to basically intentionally explode the shield forward after using it as a disruption tool. I was inspired by the combination effect that the Barrier Generator had with the Explosive discs, but this function replicates it to a lesser extent. More importantly, it frees up the Explosive Discs and lets me use them elsewhere. I think if I slotted them in anyway, the blast WOULD get stronger though.
This probably wouldn't hurt much without me putting something like the Blade Printer into the generator, but more functionality on my tools is always appreciated.
No. 1048360 ID: b708ea
File 166748240164.png - (526.77KB , 1000x1000 , NickelJuus.png )

Next.... meeting with HER again.
Heading over to the covert sector's easy, but where am I going to find her?

Through the door... and there she is.
She's on a bench, drinking... something. What is that?

Does she just... normally hang out like this?

"Wanna get some training in?"
To the point.

"So uh, is that..."
I point towards the thing she's holding.
"Juicebox. Found some in the back of the fridge. Turns out it wasn't an ice cube, but a frozen box of juice from the mainland."

The mainland? She's drinking what may as well be a fossil. Didn't even realize they put juice in boxes.
"Damn, how long was that thing in there?"

"Dunno. Expiry date got burned off when I was heating it up."

I'm not going to ask.
"Anyway, I'm here to train more, yeah."

She raises an eyebrow.
"You did a good job at forgetting the one technique that could have helped you against Astrolysis."

Oh, I don't-
"YOU try doing things perfectly after only getting one day of training in and against someone trying to rip your head off."

Nickel shrugs, and all I'm wondering is if it's worth putting up with her again.

"Cover and Concealment and Marksmanship. Those will be your options - reinforcing what you've already learned is something else entirely. I'll make extra sure to stab you with the fundamentals until you learn them properly."

"Don't you mean, 'beat me with the fundamentals?'"


Sounds fun.
Alright, which of these two sound better to you guys?
I see arguments for both - but we're not going to get effective training in, dividing my attention further.
That or we could leave and do anything else. That's an option too.
No. 1048364 ID: e5709d

Concealment. Your next match is going to be about maximizing cover usage, and your Cool stat is clearly abysmal. Figure out how to deceive your opponent into searching in the wrong direction.
No. 1048372 ID: b1ef36

Difficult to say for sure.
Her wind may throw off shots, which marksmanship may help with how to compensate.
Still, would err towards survivability offered by effective stealth. Has offensive uses too.
No. 1048373 ID: 0ecef8

cover and concealment, your marksmanship is fine
No. 1048374 ID: e51896

>which of these two sound better to you guys?

She gave three options, not two, Argine: Cover, Concealment, and Marksmanship.


I'm just teasing, I know cover and concealment are both part of the same thing.

go for the cover and concealment one.
No. 1048383 ID: 30b9f6

>Cover myself in oil or lubricant
Whatever you pick, it can't be easy to dry-blow off. It's gotta have a certain amount of stick to it.

>...why give me the files if that's the case?
Likely Nano thought you might be able to use this fact against Mnemosyne somehow - or maybe she had another reason. Regardless, it is now something you can ask others about.

>What's he like anyway?
Koilo? Wanted to work towards a better future, particularly for his child - Patz made some emotional appeals on the grounds he'd need those, given how he seemed worried about the ethical quandaries involved here. He was also somewhat worried about the potential for abuse of the Memory Trace clone technology "to bring ruin to our homelands", even as he by his geneticist trade had to be pretty interested in embracing it. He was probably extra driven into the research by his daughter's serious condition, let's be fair.

I'm wondering... maybe he DID try to cure his daughter's terminal sickness by cloning her with a Memory Trace. And then that clone got sick too, and was the girl from Astrolysis' memory, and her hybrid nature could explain the lack of feathers? Or, hell, let's just say it: maybe it's Diagram?

The two had that whole father-daughter relationship thing going, didn't they? I'd presumed that he ended up replacing his lost daughter with a clone adoptee of sorts, but he DID have the tools at hand to try something like that and said daughter WAS accessible on this island since Koilo had gotten dispensation to bring his family along. I wonder if that turned out to be a good idea in the end? They could still be out there, all of them, for all we know.

>The other Sector Bosses couldn't have known I was made with Trace Memory of a clone
That's curious, given how often we've gotten the impression by some that they know - or think they know - something about you. If it's not the Trace Memory thing... what then? Or have I just been taken in by a bunch of red herrings?

>Memories and sensations of the past - but I've NEVER had it myself
They could just be well-suppressed... but if what Amica implied can be taken as true - you being 'sisters' made by Nanoweaver, known SAI-fiddler - then... hm. Silly theory time: the starting point for your mind might be made out of well-edited SAI splinters - through some form of advanced machine learning - rather than the more biological Memory Traces. That could explain the difference between you and others here. So... it's not outside the bounds of possibility that you're our 'Syke Sister'! Hee.

But let's also point out out: didn't dream. That sure has changed, hasn't it?

>dumb hypothetical - it's just someone who's near identical
There's cases to be made for the clone taking some rap for potentially being a repeat offender, or if they were cloned intentionally to escape justice. But I tend to agree with this point of view. Can't treat copies alike when they've become individuals.

>Nickel on a bench
Nice jacket. She looks downright civvie.

>wonder if it's worth putting up with her again
Even if it stings, it's the truth, and all you can do is do better, try harder. Besides, Snickel-snark here had her own fatal miscalculation - on how long it would take a certain someone to jump back from a headshot - so you're at least in good 'boy, I screwed up anticipating my enemy' company.

As much as I'd want to go check in with Diagram at this point, continue training with Nickel. Cover and Concealment, while not very you, does sound the more long-term useful, if not always the most applicable. But getting the drop on someone is pretty golden! Heck, you should try that with a blade generated from the Blade Generator at some point, given the supposed piercing effect they have.

>Questions for Nickel
Try coming up with some questions for this reticent little gal in-between the training. Could ask for tactical advice about fighting Mnemosyne, or if she knew Armintell and what happened to him - both seems like obvious queries. Long shot, you could ask if she's ever known someone else to freeze up worse than you did (to see if this pacification trigger is a thing others have ever noticed). Or ask if she's spoken to Astrolysis after the match, get word on how the big gal is taking her victory.

You could also socialize a bit during a break, poke at the past from other angles. Like... mention how that blade generator quickly turned into a real asset for you. There was a surprising amount of utility in it when combined with other gadgets - just as you hoped. It was another invention of Dr. Graph, wasn't it? Funny that she had two prototypes of his on her. Was there a particular reason for that? Both her having them, and he making weapons that'd... well, not be used by ordinary people, to put it that way.

One wonders if he did so to waste his time on things that wouldn't see actual use. He seemed to not be so keen on all the violence and war. Like, he wanted to leave you clones with something more than that.
No. 1048389 ID: 15c72a

Huh? I thought we could only do one thing.
No. 1048390 ID: a7a180

That's three things, technically. Do the former because you need to learn the fine art of running away from a fight.
No. 1048536 ID: 15a025

Let's work on our C&C here. You're already a pretty sharp shooter.
No. 1048557 ID: b708ea
File 166773683632.png - (725.92KB , 1000x1000 , TrainingMontage.png )

>Cover and Concealment makes it three things, technically.
Nickel was talking about the first two as a set, kinda like how I got two techniques from learning about Close Quarters Combat.

>Your marksmanship's already good. C&C.
>Cover and Concealment's going to be important for the next fight.

Cover and Concealment make a lot of sense for me to learn right now with Mnemosyne's fight coming up. Good choice.

"Alright, sign me up for boot camp, then... hit me with the Cover and Concealment training."

"Excellent. I've got a few ideas in mind. Give me a bit to set up."

And she's off to the other room. Wonder what's she's got in store for me?
Time to sort through some of your points.

>Koilo had a sick daughter... maybe he tried to cure her by cloning her and using a Memory Trace? It could be that sickly girl from Astrolysis' memory.
>Maybe it's Diagram?

Yeah, maybe... Diagram mentioned a father, but never actually namedropped him. I guess she would've gotten those picture books from SOMEWHERE, right? Did Koilo mention anything like that?
Damn, I'd really like to catch her for a conversation about this, especially if she's seen the same thing you did.

>Could we use the file against Mnemosyne somehow?
I... GUESS we could bring up Armintell's death during the fight to throw her off? I mean, Sykes, if you feel like that's the best move, I'll take it - and words aren't bullets. But it's only if that's something you actually think would help.

>The starting point for your mind may be made out of well-edited SAI Splinters. Maybe we're your sister!
But, I can't discount that possibility either. If things were so broken up, then maybe that's why I'm so different to everyone else?
But WHY would Nanoweaver make me like this when it's established that both me and my sister were meant to be the final two?

>You never used to (dream of past lives). That sure has changed, hasn't it?
These things are never a good sign if you ask me. Let's say a gun - it functions normally, but one day, it starts making a weird ping sound. You examine it, not finding anything wrong. But it still makes the 'ping' sound. You're not going to want to keep using that gun unless you're attached to it.

"Alright, I'm ready. Come over here!"
Guess we're getting started then.


When she said ideas, I wasn't expecting multiple turrets.

"What are you doing? You're not going to make any progress like that!", she shouts over the crack of gunfire.
"You didn't tell me that there was going to be a whole bloody turret array!"

"Don't be a coward, Argine! They're just rubber bullets!"

That doesn't make them any less painful when there's multiple turrets firing at you at the same time!

"You can't expect yourself to develop good practices if you're relying on your gadgets all the time!
Did she HAVE to get me to remove all the ones I had on me though?

I try peeking out for a moment, and my shoulder's grazed by a stray bullet. Stings like hell!
"If this was a real fight, you'd lose performance in your arm!"

"Stop trying to be Judicium and come fight me!"
No reply.
Guess I'm in this for the long haul...
No. 1048558 ID: b708ea
File 166773687246.png - (87.05KB , 1000x1000 , BenchBuddies.png )


With that... experience, I've learned Hard Cover and Dead Silence.

Hard Cover makes it so that while I'm in cover, I'm able to be protected by it more effectively. What's more is, I can now pick up and use certain environmental features as protection. There's... some pretty creative ways you can make use of tables as cover that I learned today.

Dead Silence taught me how to walk quieter and distribute my weight, ensuring that I won't be discovered from sneaking around alone. It ALSO lets me do some actions like switching weapons or using quieter gadgets undetected.

Break and Blood Circle have been reinforced. I should be able to do them on command now. I am NOT going to make the same mistake I did before.
As a reminder of what they do...
>Break, dirty tricks and good posture allow Argine to escape from pins and grapples with large enemies, and to make distance during a fight. Usable while holding ranged weapons.

>Blood Circle, allows Argine to keep good evasive distance during extended hand-to-hand, reducing number of hits taken and increasing survivability.

Now that it's done, I slip on my jacket and re-absorb my gadgets.
But I've also got a few questions for the little gremlin.
"Nickel, do you have any advice for fighting Mnemosyne?"


"Eh... next question. You know anyone called Armintell?"

"Doesn't sound really familiar."
Great insight. Very glad I asked.

>Ask her if she's ever known someone else who froze up like you did in the Astrolysis fight.
...Uh, no, I'm not going to, especially if it's a long shot. I don't need her breathing down my neck for not doing her techniques right.

>Funny how she had two of Dr. Graph's devices on her.

Yeah. I'm gonna ask about that.

"Say, Nickel - what did Dr. Graph really mean to you? You had two of his inventions on you too."

She ponders this for a moment.
"I suppose he gave me a new outlook on life. Encouraged me to work on my talents. I don't know where he is nowadays - he left with the others. Said he didn't want to work with Dr. Troveheart anymore, so he broke off to do his own thing."

"As for the gadgets - when the tournament was being set up, we were assigned a few to distribute. It was just following a theme. Dr. Graph's gadgets happened to have already be suitable for me, so I had access to them."

I guess that makes sense.

The conversation peters out and I stand up. I've got more to do today - so I say my goodbyes and head out.

Alright, what next?

Training took me longer than I'd like so I've got time for one shorter activity and...
Intermingling. Yeah.

Shorter activities are the ones that don't require me to go out and do tasks for other people. So, simpler stuff like digging through places for some armor, looking for a snack... not much comes to mind at this hour honestly, since most places are closed, but if it's something that sounds short and can benefit my next fight, I'd be happy to put time aside for it. But nothing to do with talking with people - Intermingling's whole point is that.

There's still a few options that come to mind -

- Go to see Nanoweaver again and also spend time with her. I feel like there's a good amount of questions to ask her about the nature of my existence.

- See Judicium, talk about the upcoming fight, maybe ask her for her perspective on Mnemosyne?

- Investigate the Prototype SAI more, see what's up with it. It may not lead to much without Amica around and we COULD be risking some weird brain flashbacks, but it's a solid option.

- Talk to Diagram, but... I can't help but feel like she's going to be more reluctant about things. She's been acting a bit off. I'm not sure she's going to want me barging in this soon and asking about her dead dad. Give me backup suggestions too in case she doesn't take to it.
No. 1048559 ID: e5709d

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, that project launch memory sequence was a doozy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When I finally arrive, I knock on the door.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I pry the thing up with a bit of effort.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Spooky stuff hidden away in the project lead's office?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

>Maybe we're supposed to interrogate them!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blind is based.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever. I'm going to get started.

Tinker time. What'll it be?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, sure.

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

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

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

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

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

"Was he her trainer?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

>Tags: Empowering, Amplifying, Intensifying

Huh. That makes a second device made using exotic technology.
I break the gadget down and absorb it into my Parasignia, giving Diagram a solid thumbs up.
But we can't just talk about the fun stuff forever. We've got shit to do.
No. 1050225 ID: b708ea
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"To change the topic...", I start.
"I think - I know what was on your mind before. It has to do with what the SAI recording was, right?"
She nods.

"Diagram, I-"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Something like that, yes."

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm not sure how to feel about this, but...
Diagram's still willing to support me, even in this case. That has to mean something.
Could this be tied to why the Sector Bosses have kept me in the dark for so long?
On the topic of the SAI...
No. 1050226 ID: b708ea
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One question comes to mind first.
"So here's the thing, Diagram - just what is the SAI meant to be? We're all wondering it. I've had 'em in my bloodstream for more than a week and I can't say that they're JUST for monitoring anymore, can I?"

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

"How so?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If only there was material for our own terminal somewhere in the base that we could locate and use! Or we actually knew how to remote hack the one Nanoweaver had without getting detected. No use crying over that spilt milk, though. We have the options we have - and any we're clever enough to come up with on our own.
No. 1050825 ID: b708ea
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>That would explain the bullet, wouldn't it? it's meant for if you go berserk.
Not entirely. I can see the idea behind that, but if they wanted to get rid of me, there's a lot more effective ways to do it than a magic bullet, right? From what I remember of the note, Judi got it from someone else who told her to use it just in case, but... if it were me they were dealing with, then normal bullets would probably work if you used enough. We can regenerate but I don't think even I could survive having my head turned into sauce.

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

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

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

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

Time to go through 'em with Diagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I... get that. But you should give her a chance, Argine."
We'll see.
We're probably going to have to bump up 'talking to Amica' on our list. Not like I have to show up with my SAI splinter vial, but she DOES have an outgoing, unrelated task that she wants us to help out with anyway.
No. 1050826 ID: b708ea
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"Alright, last question, Diagram. Do you have a Parasignia?"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With that, I say my goodbyes and head out.
No. 1050827 ID: b708ea
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Stepping out from Diagram's room, I can feel the chilly air sweeping by. It's a good thing that Judicium's gotten me this new coat - I feel much warmer than I was before.

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the other side, Sykes.


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