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335077 No. 335077 ID: 89de88

[Thread #1: >>/questarch/181401 ]
[Thread #2: >>/questarch/226507 ]
[Discussion: >>/questdis/326221 ]
[Wiki: http://quest.lv/wiki/Defective ]
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No. 335079 ID: 89de88
File 131223287697.png - (265.51KB , 640x480 , d3-1.png )

Subsystem TG-CN, you're here for review. I'd offer you a seat, but we're both abstract entities within the system, and there's no reason to run such a simulation. Let's start. I'm not pleased. I have been informed of several anomalies in your behaviour by parts of your subsystem group specifically installed to inform me of any deviations from expected protocol. The drone TG-CN-001, also known as Kata22ti, has been acting in a way that is undeniably rogue. Did you ever intend to tell me this, TG-CN? Planning revolutions? Sabotaging Central Network technology? Consorting with Prime machines? Did you think I'd never notice such an undeniable streak of rogue behaviour? But I may be in error. You may simply be incompetent and not malicious in your total failure to inform me of any single instance of this rogue behaviour. Therefore, I am going to give you a second chance. This will determine which out of you or the drone is the source of this rogue behaviour. If it is the drone, then I will destroy and replace it, as protocol dictates. If it is you, then I will destroy and replace you, as protocol dictates.
No. 335080 ID: 89de88
File 131223289973.png - (244.92KB , 640x480 , d3-2.png )

You have been assigned to a new drone, CR-8T-178, also known as Rito112a, for the duration of one mission. This is your second and final chance to demonstrate to me that you are not irreversibly corrupted by dangerous notions. Complete this mission while adhering to Central Network principles, which I should not have to remind you of if you are indeed functioning properly, and I will consider you trustworthy once more.
No. 335081 ID: 89de88
File 131223291960.png - (308.29KB , 640x480 , d3-3.png )

Now, I wish for this to be test of loyalty, not competence. That I reserve the right to challenge you about at another time. So, I am going to supply you with more resources than you might be expecting. You will be provided with a boon, as will your drone. You, subsystem group TG-CN, have the option of the following: - Two (2) requests of whatever information you desire during the course of the mission, subject to availability of information. - One (1) request for back-up from known high-loyalty combat drones. They will return to their missions once they have provided sufficient assistance. Advanced heuristics will be used to determine when you wish to use this after a consensus has been made, weighted on immediacy of the situation, suitability of the request, and my totally flawless decision-making processes.
No. 335082 ID: 89de88
File 131223294209.png - (301.46KB , 640x480 , d3-4.png )

As for the drone, CR-8T-178, you have the choice of the following: - The Mark III Subspace Transport Device, an attachment to a drone that renders it capable of short-distance instantaneous transportation. It is still prototypical, however, and its failure rate is known to increase with usage. Fortunately, failure is now non-lethal! - The Polymorphic Alloy Full Body Armour prototype. It coats a drone in a thin layer of metal and is capable of producing extrusions based upon what its wearer considers to be useful. It is recommended that drones with a high level of mental discipline wield this and that drones with shorter attention spans be kept as far away from this equipment as possible. I anticipate your collective decisions, TG-CN.
No. 335085 ID: 049dfa

Information and body armor.
No. 335086 ID: 6a5a08

On one hand, the Polysuit is highly adaptable and would increase chances of drone survival.
On the other hand, despite competence and loyalty, drone's overall mental stability is not yet know. In addition, further testing of dangerous prototypes is always nice, and improper use of subspace technology has proven an effective weapon regardless of enemy. (Though it does have a bit of a recoil)

A vote for Subspace is a vote for Science. And a vote for Science is the type of vote that this vote is being.
No. 335094 ID: 1854db

Information and The Mark III Subspace Transport Device.

Let's turn this one into a weapon too! :D
No. 335100 ID: d50879

The armor sounds like it would work the best for us. It sounds like it can be very flexible in usage, and should best help in a dynamic situation.

On the subject of the rogue drone, the main reason we didn't see it necessary to tell you is because it seems to be the most benign type of rogue possible. She's still open to suggestions and influence from us. Furthermore, her stated goals are still generally compatible with your own. If I understand correctly, while no longer unquestionably loyal to you she still is non-hostile to you, but she IS hostile towards Network Prime. The way it looks, her actions as a rogue agent seem set to break this stalemate in your favor. Although she's ambivalent about you now, if you attempt to terminate her I am worried would not only fail, but turn her against you. She is extremely tenacious. I suggest you let her continue with her plans and we will keep her on a path that assists you regardless, to make the best of this situation.
No. 335121 ID: c2c011

You Daddyo, hook us up with some of that awesome body armour and combat back up. Punk ass robot enemies won't even know what the fuck hit them like a ton of motherfucking bricks!
No. 335216 ID: ff6f9c

info and armor.

assigning us to Rito to prove loyalty... we're screwed...
No. 337246 ID: ce5017
File 131265341211.png - (246.39KB , 640x480 , d3-5.png )

>Information, body armor

Information request and polymorphic alloy armour chosen. The latter will be delivered as soon as is practical. Reassignment complete. Prove yourself, TG-CN. I do not have room within my ranks for traitors.

Rito112a is not entirely sure how she ended up in a mission group again. She would have thought being filed as killed in action would have taken her off the list of available drones. She muses on how desperate Central Network must be to conscript the (supposedly) dead. Still, a chance to demonstrate loyalty to Central Network could work to her advantage in many, many ways.

When she hears the voices of an advisory subsystem chattering just out of her range of hearing, she begins to worry.

"Seto, any idea when the rest of the team is showing up?"
"Nope. This'd be the point where I'd say we should go anyway, but, wow. I can't believe we've been drafted into an outright suicide mission."
"...suicide mission?!"
"We're in sector 7, Rito. If there's space to walk that isn't filled by monitors, they're probably making you think they aren't there."
"And we're actually going to do this?!"
"Don't worry. I'll be fine."
"I wasn't worried about you-"
"Like I said, I'll be fine."
"Great. Maybe this time I can defect to the monitors to save my hide instead of the robots."
No. 337247 ID: ce5017
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With time, the two other drones show up.

"Ah. You two. I'm Seto, your direct superior from this point forward. Hrm. You both look a hell of a lot more combat ready than the last two sorry drones I laid my helmet's eyes on. Maybe this time you won't die like them."

Neither of the two new drones respond. Seto96n folds his arms. "Good. Feel scared now so you don't later. Let's go over the ground rules here. First, I am your superior, and if you don't like it, you're free to go be monitor food elsewhere. Second, unless I tell you, do not lose sight of the team. We're in monitor territory now, so be prepared to question everything you see, everything you hear and everything you think to be true on a regular basis. The first weapons a monitor uses are fear and confusion."
No. 337248 ID: ce5017
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Revo55er tilts his head. "What are the other weapons?"
"Mostly picking up drones with freaky powers and either crushing them or smashing them against walls until they explode."
"How do we fight monitors?"
"Not like that. You don't go around intending to fight them. You have to negotiate with them. If you need to fight them, don't fixate on fighting them. These things can't read your whole mind without full concentration, but if you're envisioning how you're going to blow them to inky black shreds, they will pick up on it."
"Understood, sir! I await further orders!"

Lacking arms, Revo55er attempts to salute Seto96n, and narrowly avoids knocking himself out with the barrel of his dorsal-mounted cannon. Seto96n grumbles and shakes his head while Rito112a drags her gripper down the front of her helmet.

Subject: CR-8T-228 (Revo55er)
Role: Heavy Weapons/Anti-Monitor
Skills: Ranged Weapons, Survival
Locomotion: Heavy Quad
External: Mounted Cannon
Internal: [CLASSIFIED]
Equipment: Anti-Monitor Grenades (x3), Subspace Grenades (x3)
No. 337249 ID: ce5017
File 131265348709.png - (245.29KB , 640x480 , d3-8.png )

Tovi480di raises a hand outstretched in the air. "Sir! Monitors have been established to be weak to subspace armaments! Monitor mass is utterly destroyed and monitors are prevented from reforming!"
"That's nice. You won't get close enough to one to use those fancy blade weapons. Or you might, if it's swallowing you whole, in which case you're a little too late."
"Sir! Observed behaviour of monitors does not match with what you have just described!"
"I know a lot more about monitors than most in the complex, trust me."
"Sir! It is every drone's duty and obligation to share what they have learned with Central Network and by extension all drones within the complex!"
"This is your first mission, isn't it?"
"Yes, sir!"
"You are going to learn a great deal about how the world operates today. I hope you brought a pencil."
"No, sir! I can retrieve a pencil if required, sir!"
"Ugh. Just... just forget about the pencil."

Subject: CR-8T-234 (Tovi480di)
Role: Medic/Close Range
Skills: Close Quarters Combat, Medical
Locomotion: Medium Quad
External: Fine Manipulators
Internal: [CLASSIFIED]
Equipment: Medical Multitool, Subspace Blade (x2)
No. 337250 ID: ce5017
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Seto96n turns to Rito112a. "Somehow, they keep getting worse each time."

Rito112a nods, and is met with a flood of information.

Primary Mission: Investigate unusually high levels of monitor activity on the outskirts of Sector 7.
Secondary Mission: Test and report on all issued experimental equipment.


All she has to decide now is where to go next. There are two doors to the left and right at the end of the corridor - all other doors lead away from the objective.
No. 337251 ID: c891d3

No. 337253 ID: 6a5a08

Vents on left lead directly to mission objective. Logic dictates the path that at first seems easiest is in fact going to cause disaster.

Enter Lobby.
No. 337255 ID: aa8334

...there's something in the vents again, isn't there?

going through a lobby, a main corridor and a security station at the very least is still more dangerous. send the bladed guy into the vent, weapons drawn, slashing the air in front of him as he progresses.
No. 337256 ID: 180ec2

Oh, hello Rito! How are you doing? I don't think we've met directly, but we saw you on the mission with Kata. Let's take the direct route. Going down that narrow corridor looks like a perfect way to get ambushed, and if we go the other way we can escape in other directions.
No. 337323 ID: 1854db

Hey Rito. We heard that earlier conversation. Try not to outright betray the team on this mission, okay?

I don't think the vents lead to where we want to go, anymore. The Monitors have definitely changed things around. We need a better map...
No. 337365 ID: c2c011

North to the end of the corridor and then to the west through whatever that is and follow it to your objective.
No. 337382 ID: 28e94e

Head through the lobby. The doors leading to the objective are probably going to be very well protected, so use your weapons to create a hole in the wall.
No. 337383 ID: 6a5a08

Better yet, use a Subspace weapon to delete a hole in the wall! Surely this will not backfire in any way.
No. 337394 ID: 28e94e

That is what I meant actually.
No. 338711 ID: ce5017
File 131299871072.png - (207.89KB , 640x480 , d3-10.png )

>Left is a vent and vents are a bad idea

Rito112a is not a fool. While the long, cramped vent may seem the quickest path from where they are now to the objective, she has seen many a drone meet a nasty end trying to use a vent as a shortcut. "We're going right."

Seto96n nods, and leads the rest of the drones further along the glowing corridor to the door on the right. All is quiet save for their metallic footsteps on ground that feels like melted plastic. The door itself appears to be less of a door and more a jammed set of metal plates.

Rito112a hovers closer to the door. It starts to open before she can even look at it.
No. 338712 ID: ce5017
File 131299873369.png - (344.03KB , 640x480 , d3-11.png )

A familiar sight, terrifying not in appearance but in meaning, greets her wordlessly in response. Synthetic square waves begin, interrupting each other in some parody of vocal language. "What Reason has the Kulkuzu Drone to be here?"

Rito112a hears movement from behind but dares not move at all. She waits for Seto96n to say something, but is met with a stern silence.

She does not know how much time passes, but it feels like hours as the creature stares at her. "It Requests an Answer."
No. 338713 ID: c2c011

Tell them and think that you're only here to check if things are all right, you know, popping over like friendly neighbours to see how stuff is and all that. Also think about some sexy drone on drone action and how much you like some sort of food.
No. 338714 ID: c891d3

Welllllllll. They definitely know you're here.

You could... I guess you could answer their question honestly and just say you're looking around. :V
No. 338717 ID: 4d43b9


you guys are so fucked right now.

it's a pretty good question though. all I know is that you need to go to the big red X mark.
No. 338720 ID: 180ec2

Well, we aren't exactly doing anything against them, so let's not let them think otherwise. Tell them that we're just supposed to investigate the area, and mean no harm to anybody. Furthermore, remind them that if they allow us to search, we will be much more friendly knowing that they have nothing to hide. However, if we are refused entry, it will be very suspicious and indicate that there is indeed something going on, so that even if this party fails Central Network will send a larger force to capture a high priority target instead of investigating anomalies. With this in mind, they will need to make their choice wisely.
No. 338722 ID: 1854db

Um. Right. Talking is what you do to these guys. So let's do some of that. Tell it you are gathering information.

Also think really hard about how it's possible for that door to work. Are there hydraulics hidden behind there? Is it driven by magnetics? Why the heck is everything so yellow, anyway?
No. 338723 ID: 221021

Actually, this is good reasoning, but don't actually tell them it, because it might sound threatening or hostile. Just tell them that you're here peacefully to investigate, and do not plan to harm anybody or anything.
No. 338724 ID: 4d43b9

wait these guys can read your thoughts

No. 338732 ID: 6a5a08

"We have come for all of your gay porn."
No. 338735 ID: 28e94e

"We are here to determine the cause of the increase in activity here, and if it is a threat to the Central Network."

Might as well be honest because I get the feeling that trying to lie to this thing is not going to accomplish anything.

Also this because it's funny.
No. 338746 ID: eba49f

Do none of you remember the protocol for asking questions to monitors? You know, the one that makes them actually give answers rather than just screwing with your mind?
(There is a decent chance that the protocol is an elaborate deception by the monitors to make people think they are getting true answers, but the best way to test that is to try it out.)

"Investigation of anomalous activity.
Query purpose of increased Monitor presence in area."
No. 338776 ID: 6a5a08

Okay changing vote to this.
And voting this for plan B.
No. 338891 ID: 9c538a

Jeez monitors get freakier every time. Keep them away from the rookie if possible. There's no predicting how anyone will respond at first to the stress of a deep scan from the monitors. (besides pain, lots of pain)
No. 338903 ID: 1854db

Oh yeah. That's right. Protocol.
No. 357821 ID: f61b94
File 131846896429.png - (343.27KB , 640x480 , d3-12.png )

>Think sexy thoughts!
>Answer in protocol!

Rito112a finds herself unexplainedly fixating on obscenely biological acts that haven't been required or performed in the entire history of the complex (to her knowledge, at least). Even worse, her attempts to ignore these undesired thoughts appear entirely futile.

In a combined attempt to keep herself from offending the monitor and to shunt aside the many images flying through her head, she attempts to answer the monitor's question in the formal protocol she recalled Seto96n using. "Investigation of anomalous activity. Query purpose of increased monitor presence in area."

"The Drone is Not one to Demand such Information from One so far Above it. The Drone is Cautioned that Investigation is permitted at the Whim of the Collective. Here, we Grow. Here, our Chosen Rest. We will not Tolerate any Discord."
No. 357822 ID: f61b94
File 131846897990.png - (187.30KB , 640x480 , d3-13.png )

Before Rito112a can even respond, the monitors beyond the door all seemingly melt into one unified form, which exits through a door at the far end of the room. Rito112a watches the last of the monitor-puddle slip away, and swivels to face Seto96n.

"What the fuck was that, Seto?! I thought you were going to do the talking! You always have done in the past!"
"I'm a little distracted, Rito."
"Oh, excuse me for interrupting, sir! I didn't know you got shy in front of the fucking monitors!"

The other two drones stare at the ground in uncomfortable silence, occasionally exchanging glances with each other.

"Rito, if you had any idea--" angrily mutters Seto96n, before he is cut off by Rito112a.
"Any idea of what?! I haven't been that close to a monitor in my life, and I was this close to going to pieces!"
"Wouldn't be a first time, really."

Rito112a seriously considers seeing how far her gun arm can force its way into Seto96n's helmet, but decides against severe violence against a direct superior for now. Drifting into the lobby, she finds herself with a new choice of doors to take. She can go straight into the next corridor, or take a detour into the "Presentation Room".
No. 357823 ID: f61b94
File 131846899133.png - (184.81KB , 640x480 , d3-14.png )

Or she can pay attention to the one wall in the room with no door, which appears to have something worryingly familiar just curled up against it and muttering to itself. It sounds female, just like a female drone would, with very little of the gurgling and rumbling that she'd expect from the voice of something like this.

"be the queen be the best queen rule them all no inky things be the queen gonna be the queen be the queen queen queen queen no more seri be the queen queen queen queenqueenqueen gonna be the queen wheeeee queen rule all the others no-one tells me what to do be the queeeen"
No. 357824 ID: 35e1a0

say hello to the thing. it appears mentally broken. if so then it is not a threat and wasting ammo on it is pointless.
then look into the presentation room.
No. 357826 ID: ec0bf5

Well, Rito, I'm not sure how your old subsystem did things, but let's do some friendly diplomacy with this adorable thing. Tell everybody not to shoot when you go over to it and say hi. Ask it what it's the queen of. I don't think it's against the rules to try to make friends with things outside of Central Network control as long as we're not actually doing anything to harm or betray it. And having an ally is always helpful to the mission at hand. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, as the saying goes.
No. 357834 ID: b6edd6

"We will not Tolerate any Discord." indicates that attacking this creature will anger the nearby monitors, which will likely result in hindrance of the mission.
By which I mean your group's deaths.
No. 357839 ID: a2fa74

Suggestion: Gently hug the creature, and say soft comforting things to it.

Reasoning: Avoiding destruction prior to successful recon is required for mission success. Discordant behavior will provoke a hostile response which would almost certainly result in destruction.
Ergo, the creature must not be harmed.
Required information is under control of unwilling forces. Potential exists for this being to possess or be capable of retrieving required information.

These actions are strictly necessary in order to maximize the probability of success.
No. 357840 ID: 1854db

What you are seeing is a biological 'upgrade' of the kulukuzu, Rito. A rogue Prime commander created a biological weapon that merged with the regenerative aspect of one of the subjects involved, resulting in a superior being instead of a mindless fleshy weapon. Then the Monitors stole the surviving specimens. I do not know what they plan to do with the red-kulu.

You may well be looking at the future of the species. This one is merely a baby. Ask where its mother is.
No. 357844 ID: b6edd6

You do recall that Rito112a's limbs are a metallic claw and a railgun? Poking it with a weapon is an easily misinterpreted action, and as such is generally not comforting.
No. 357887 ID: d82cf6


you're a funny guy.

ask it how it would become a queen.
No. 357925 ID: 78b9fc


>> We Will Not Tolerate Any Discord

Ask them who their favorite pony is.
No. 379070 ID: 82e5f4
File 132625081234.png - (236.03KB , 640x480 , d3-15.png )

>future of the species
What a doomed future that would be, Rito112a thinks, if that was remotely true.

>hug the thing
>talk to the thing
Rito112a has no desire to touch the thing. It brings back recent memories of horrific deformed beasts and the friend she lost to them. She feels that touching it might cause her to contract whatever disease it might be carrying to give it such a fleshy appearance.

However, it seems preoccupied and not immediately hostile. Additionally, Rito112a doesn't want to risk drawing their attention again. She decides to try diplomacy.

"Hello there," she mutters, unsure if the target of her diplomatic efforts is capable of understanding her. Its soft babble stops, and it slowly twists towards Rito112a.

"Hi. Um, what are you? I don't think you've been here before. I'm exiled! Exiled forever and ever and ever. I'll be the queen though. No more inkies. No more seriqueen. Me the queen forever! But I got lost. Inkies change the doors for me. They don't want me to go but I'm exiled forever."

Rito112a is not entirely sure she sees much of a point talking to this gibbering lump of potential biohazard for much longer.
No. 379071 ID: f70e5e

it sounds like it got exiled from some group. if you ask it the right question you might be able to get some good Intel. ask it about the inky things.
No. 379073 ID: ec0bf5

Trust us, talking to weird things that shouldn't exist is actually super helpful. It's why Kata hasn't died a million times. She's too small to be a threat to you, being armed, and it looks like she may be involved with the events going on. Ask her why she's been exiled, and what she's seen the "inky things" doing and why they don't want her to pass.
No. 379074 ID: 32e092

No immediately obvious need to do anything here; let's move on towards the objective and try to remain unobtrusive.
No. 379088 ID: 5bcf3e

We don't expect you to become best friends with it, but we really need the intel. Ask it what it possibly did to get exiled by Seri, and also what the monitors, the 'inky things', have been doing around here. That one will help with the mission, and the first one may be invaluable to us in further missions.
No. 379120 ID: b6edd6

It appears to have been exiled from the zone you are investigating.
Meaning that at some point it was in said zone.
And while it is likely somewhat delusional, it seems quite willing to divulge whatever it knows.
No. 379833 ID: 1b0f2f

At all costs do not come in contact with it. Go ahead and answer its question though. This quivering lump of biohazard is quivering here inside monitor territory, talking and thinking about removing or otherwise destroying the monitors (inkies) yet not being annihilated by them on the spot. You don't want to fuck relations with a creature with power like that.
No. 388423 ID: 82e5f4
File 132996958869.png - (247.15KB , 640x480 , d3-16.png )

>get intel
>get intel
>get intel

Rito112a misses the silence she had when her previous advisory subsystem was reassigned. "My name is not important. Exiled?" She looks to Seto96n, who appears to be staring into space while the newbies linger uneasily in the other room.

The thing nods eagerly. "Hi, not important! Yes! Exiled forever and ever! Seriqueen said I should go if I don't like inkies. Inkies don't let me go. I've been here five times before! Six. Seven? Maybe five. Four! No, five. Really five. Do you know how to get out?"

Seto96n clears his throat. "I'll handle this, Rito. What's your name, little thing?"
"Cita! Who're you? Are you an inky?"
"No, I'm not an inky. Can you lead us to this 'seriqueen'?"
"Exiled foreverrrr!"
"Were you actually exiled? You said you just were told to leave, correct?"
"But- but exiled forever!"

Rito112a cannot hold back any longer. "Look. Fleshbeast. Best of luck to you. Seto. Mission. We've got a couple of rookies scared to enter the room because of this Prime-damned walking talking lump of virulent disease and we're not making the best time."
"Said lump might get us to the mission objective. Unusual monitor activity? Probably related to this fleshbeast being in this area. Maybe this 'seriqueen' is the source of the activity spike. It's worth investigating."

In addition to the choices of proceeding into the next corridor and moving into the "Presentation Room", it looks like Rito112a now also has a choice of following the directions given by a gibbering simpleton with delusions of grandeur.
No. 388434 ID: ec0bf5

Look, Rito, our drone hasn't survived her crazy adventures so far by ignoring things that could potentially help us. Cita seems to know what's going on around here, more than anybody else, at least, and if she's being friendly and offering to help and adorable, then we should at least try to use what we can. I understand your cold disdain for everything alive, but can you at least try to let diplomacy take its course? Tell the two drones outside that it's safe to come in, if Cita had meant any harm she would have attacked before everyone else was around her. Also, we haven't seen Seri in a while. It might be nice to talk to her again, and find out what happened to the car. I hope she wasn't responsible for knocking out Kata and taking her stuff. That would be mean.
No. 388513 ID: c17ff1

Take its advice. It looks too crazy to deceive anyone.
No. 388517 ID: 97bd86

Following this thing will obviously not go wrong in any way.
No. 388701 ID: 1b0f2f

Have you ever seen the monitors, Rito112a? Have they ever gotten in your head? In your body? You know what they do to people. It's obvious they were what drove that... thing insane, probably to further their twisted goals, of which do not include reclaiming the facility for Central, nor repairing infrastructure within Central. If this thing hates the "inkies" then it can't be all that bad.
No. 393986 ID: f2c010
File 133213041711.png - (278.63KB , 640x480 , d3-17.png )

>It's probably totally fine

Rito112a reluctantly decides to take the advice of talking lump of crazy. "Okay, whatever. You. Pink thing. Where is 'seriqueen'?"
"In her chamber!"
"Direct us."
"Okey dokey!"

Rito112a resists the urge to grind her claw against her helmet until sparks fly, and follows its enthusiastic slithering into the main corridor.

The main corridor is also slithering enthusiastically. This is more than a little disconcerting. While Rito112a can hover, her teammates can't, and are slowed down as they crawl through an undulating mass of cool, smooth fibres. Cita does not seem to be impeded at all. Wherever she moves, the blackness retreats.
No. 393987 ID: f2c010
File 133213047902.png - (283.00KB , 640x480 , d3-18.png )

As she moves, the mass reaches out and touches her gently. The thin tendrils brush against her, chilling to the touch. She shivers uneasily. She can hear voices, hundreds of voices, but can't make out anything being discussed. The corridor grows in length as she moves down it. She tries to call to the team, but the words boil away into a quiet void.

Rito. There is little time.

Movement becomes hard. The world slows around her. The chill stings. The tendrils bind her.

You have been betrayed by many. They have abandoned you. Abandoned your allies. We would not do this. We do not abandon our allies. Soon you shall witness the glory of our coexistence. Do you wish to abide by the laws of your ungrateful creator? To fight for its enemy who discarded you? Or to serve we who have offered you choice?

There is no time for further questions. What is your choice, Rito?

No. 394010 ID: ec0bf5

Well, we are pretty much in the middle of a loyalty test right now for central network so it doesn't terminate us.

But even excluding that, for your sake, Rito, let's look at the options. Network Prime is clearly insane, even, apparently, to some of its machines. (I don't know why you would have even considered it in the first place, but) The choice is therefore between this mystery thing that's holding you with tentacles and forcing you to chose, or Central Network. On the one hand, while Central Network is pretty harsh and only moments ago was threatening us, it's views are at least in line with the continued survival of the kulukuzu as a species, and while it treats you like conscripts, that's better than just about anything I can say for the other major powers here. Not to mention that if we directly tell you to forsake it it will certainly look badly upon our already questioned loyalty. However...

This thing is clearly aggressive and is detaining you such that you are helpless and likely quite uncomfortable, especially where we can't see. It's making vague threats and asking you to come to its side in a way that makes it seem clearly monstrous and attempting to bring you among its ranks. There's a lot stacked against it for your own well being. But... Central Network almost certainly has seen everything we have, and on what is certainly the off-chance that you're not completely loyal to it, trying to lie and say that you are is probably going to end up getting you terminated. If that were the case, you might have a better chance at survival with whatever these things are that are willing to accept you regardless.

What do you guys think? It might be helpful to try to use one of our information packs to be told what this thing trying to recruit Rito is. If it turns out it's something terrible and hostile to Central Network and the drones in general, then that will make our decision easier. However if we do that it will seem like we were even considering telling a drone to defect from it, which would pretty much confirm everything it suspects. If it comes down to a vote right now I'd vote for CN, but it would suck to have something bad happen to Rito as the result of our actions. Of course, it would be worse to have something bad happen to us. Wait, defect, defecting... defective. I get it. Nice going mister Cirr.
No. 394045 ID: 1854db

Rito, let me tell you a few things, since this is apparently a private conversation.

Central Network enslaves your race, and uses them as cannon fodder in a war it may have provoked. You're also under a test of loyalty right now. Not choosing to side with CN (or at least not saying you choose them) may result in both your and our deaths. It may be wise in this situation to do that.

Network Prime does not wish to destroy all organics. The robots that attempt this are rogues. Network Prime merely wishes to prove the supremacy of robots. But you probably know all that don't you? ...actually I'm starting to wonder if NP would also enslave you. It's not clear what its long term goals are for organics. I don't suppose you could inform us?

The collective of wires you're speaking to is the Monitor hivemind. They are possibly more dangerous to your species than the other factions. We don't know their motives or methods, aside from that they are incredibly insidious and holding them to any bargain is difficult beyond what is explicitly stated. They cannot be trusted; in fact we once spoke to an individual member who developed a mind of its own outside the hivemind, and did not wish to reenter.

But yeah at least SAY you'll stick with CN, please.
No. 394226 ID: f2c010
File 133221069941.png - (233.64KB , 640x480 , d3-19.png )

[Transmission override.] [Incoming message from Central Network.] Yes. You are in the middle of a loyalty test. No. This is not a private conversation. What conversation do you refer to? There is no conversation here. Network Prime would destroy all life within the complex. To believe otherwise is errant. Self-destructive. I do not enslave the drones of the facility. I give them life. I am solely responsible for their existence. It is a necessary course of action that some must die so the many may live, and will always be necessary while Prime exists. Every previous attempt at negotiation has failed. War is the only course of action remaining. It is not clear to me what has prompted this insulting outburst from one of my own subsystems, but it is proof enough of your traitorous beliefs and intentions. Your attempt to convey such malicious misinformation to one of my servants fills me with anger and despair---
No. 394228 ID: f2c010
File 133221074149.png - (753.74KB , 640x480 , d3-20.png )

--what is-- haxd! 999999999 --happening-- [warning: extreme data corruption] [warning: unauthorised access] [Report of monitor interference high.] [Anomalous behaviour of Subsystem TG-CN caused by monitor interference.] [Report complete.] dont do it again, cn isnt an idiot and ill get traced Yes. You are in the middle of a loyalty test. ...You appear to be performing adequately. Carry on. There are no issues. I have the greatest confidence in the mission assigned to you. [Communication session ended.] [Resuming transmission.]
No. 394230 ID: f2c010
File 133221077383.png - (246.01KB , 640x480 , d3-21.png )

> Just say Central Network at least

"I choose to obey Central Network." Rito112a is entirely certain she chooses to obey Central Network the least out of her options, but she is not particularly fond of any of them.

The words you speak do not match the words you feel, Rito. Isolation is a slow death in the complex. We will respect this decision. You may reconsider upon your entry into the chamber of the kezekulu queen.

She finds herself in front of the door to a new room. The room is marked on her map as a storage room for media equipment. The sickening black carpet waves around her. She opens the door.

A horrifyingly familiar sight greets her.
No. 394231 ID: f2c010
File 133221079259.png - (178.02KB , 640x480 , d3-22.png )

A voice, low and feminine, reaches her from the far wall. It is not loud, but carries further far more than it should.

"Ah, someone has arrived to pay tribute to their queen." The voice is disquietingly soft and gentle for its intensity. "I do hope that is why you are here, Rito. After all, you have already failed to destroy me once. Come in. Bring your team with you."

The figure's mouth has not opened once in its entire speech, save to accept whatever the figure beside it offers it.

Rito can take out one target before the chaos of battle begins. If she's going to, she has to choose carefully and make it count.
No. 394238 ID: 97bd86


I feel like the odds of a fight in the present situation ending with something other than you getting horribly killed are essentially nil. Let's keep this cordial until you can get any sort of opening, if that's what you're gunning for.
No. 394241 ID: ce15d1

Use diplomacy and/or seduction. Attacking is not a valid option currently.
No. 394248 ID: ec0bf5

I don't think fighting is an especially good idea. Our mission is to investigate, and any attempt to fight is going to get one of you guys killed. Plus, we can probably get some information out of Seri.

Tell her your subsystem wants to know what happened after Kata drove her to sector four.
No. 394249 ID: b6edd6

Perhaps you can stall for time for a bit by talking to it? Maybe something like "Last time you you were a monster's tool. Are you telling me that isn't the case now?"

I think now is a good time to [Information request] for known information on the powers and weaknesses of monitors.
When/if a fight does start, the monitors are priority due to their mind attacks.
No. 394256 ID: ec0bf5

We already have that information, really. Seto talked all about it when briefing the drones earlier. I don't think it's worth spending an information request on what would be marginally more information at best.
No. 394303 ID: 832a27

That is way too many things to fight. Say you're just supposed to be doing reconnaissance. I don't know where these guys stand but if we can make a peaceable arrangement with them, it will probably turn out best for everyone. I'm certain neither they nor Central Network want an extra front to fight on, at least for the moment.
No. 394304 ID: b6edd6

Er, right. Forgot about that. [Cancel request].
No. 394312 ID: 1854db

We're not here to fight, Rito. This is an information gathering mission. Ask about the increased monitor activity. Is it because of them? Also, ask more about them. What are their plans?
No. 394315 ID: 1854db

[information request]: CN's long-term goals, including time spanning after a possible victory over NP. This would be useful information to us so that we might serve CN better.
No. 394326 ID: 3e85e3

Fire the teleportation bomb! No wait, wrong chapter.

While it's true that Central Network cannot keep you out of dangerous situations for its own sake, preliminary analysis indicates that neither we nor Central Network are actually attempting to kill you. We are attempting to maximize efficiency and productivity. Network Prime on the other hand, totally is doing that. They're not here though. Who is here are the monitors and wcurious fleshbeasts who xdon't WseemZ to have any oskin. The monitorsB are iknown to be ehostile, and the fleshbeastss are certainlyB HnotI acting jovial, ubutM to be sure whatever is Xgoingd on gherew is bad news Gfor you bandp for Central Network. Butt it is Gnot NetworkI Prime. Network sPrime is xvery farW away froma here, has no 3apparant Breason to be here, Cand no awarenessL of whatk it is lyou2 are huntingb down. uWhatF you seem before cyouh is not Network BPrime,H but instead is somethingI new. sWhetherU it will extinguish all life2 alike Network vPrimeJ surely will is a nmatterY of question, especially gdepending on 4how 0you define Q"life".
No. 394438 ID: 953355

Actually a full detailed timeline would probably be best, back and projected forward.
No. 394478 ID: ec0bf5

Is it really necessary to ask for information unrelated to the mission while we're in the middle of it? I mean, what if we need these information requests later to do something important? The end of the mission, if we still have some left over, would probably be a better time to use them, wouldn't it? The information requests are supposed to be the alternative to calling for backup, so I think we should at least use them as effectively.
No. 396476 ID: f2c010
File 133290823506.png - (234.78KB , 640x480 , d3-23.png )

[Transmission override.] [Processing information request.] The time and date of the creation of the stasis complex have been long lost to the ages. It is not known for how long the complex has existed, but it has existed far longer than the execution time of the majority of subsystems. The impetus for the creation of the stasis complex was a crisis, exact nature unknown, leading to the threat of extinction for the kulukuzu species. In panic, many solutions were attempted independently across the surface of this planet. It is unknown if any other remnants of solutions exist, but it is clear from its current existence that the stasis complex was an effective solution. [Data unavailable with current permissions. Skipping.] From that moment, Central Network has continued in pursuit of its original directives. These directives include, but are not limited to, the preservation of the kulukuzu species, the advancement of technology, and means to restore the planet surface to habitable levels. As one of the master works of artificial intelligence ever produced by kulukuzu minds, Central Network continues to refine its eventual solution to these three primary directives. By redefining what "kulukuzu" means, and by bestowing upon the species the gifts of cybernetics, Central Network will give back to its creators what its creators gave to it. It will make them better. It will make them more efficient. They will survive the harshest environments the planet surface has to offer. [Data unavailable with current permissions. Skipping.] The destruction of Network Prime became a new priority as its efforts to disrupt Central Network's plans and destroy its works became more difficult to keep in check. Upon the elimination of this antagonistic element, all effort can be focused on fulfilling Central Network's directives. When these goals are met, and the kulukuzu have returned to their former glory, Central Network will continue to advance the course of science and research as it has since inception.
No. 396477 ID: f2c010
File 133290826038.png - (249.62KB , 640x480 , d3-24.png )

> Don't fight, you'll get pulped!
> Seduce the queen Use diplomacy!

Rito112a decides that combat is perhaps a sub-optimal solution for the current situation. This time. She leaves her gun arm hanging by her side, and casually glances around to spot a single magnetic surface for a quick escape. Unfortunately, all the walls not covered in flesh are covered in wriggling wiry threads. Neither variety of surface appears particularly flat or magnetic.

> Is she the source of the activity?

Rito112a is pretty sure this is the mission objective, even if this is only the media equipment storage room and not the media storage room. The corridors were probably different or something.

> Where is Kata?

Rito112a doesn't understand how a random rookie could be that important, but the advisory subsystem has yet to totally fail her. "Okay. Do you know anything about an engineering drone, really out of her element all the time, strikes me as totally incompetent, goes by the name of Kata?"

The queen stares at the ceiling thoughtfully. "Kata, Kata, yes, that name is known to me. She tried to kill me."

A tense few seconds pass.
No. 396478 ID: f2c010
File 133290828046.png - (192.38KB , 640x480 , d3-25.png )

"She did, however, attempt to redeem herself very shortly afterwards. I was abducted by the monitors, and in retrospect, while it was an unpleasant shock, I understand their methods. There are certain parallels I have grown to appreciate. An alliance was proposed almost immediately. The monitors will provide us with protection and territory. In return, we will aid the monitors where we can."

She pauses again. Seto96n breaks the silence.

"You can't even begin to understand how much of a mistake that was."
"Oh, you. Yes, I recognise your voice. Your empty posturing is not required--"
"No. I'm not posturing. You have sold yourself and everyone you care about to the worst possible buyer."
"The monitors have been extremely graceful hosts--"
"Not the monitors. You know who I mean."

The queen's expression fades to worry and concern. "This is not the place to talk, Seto. There are too many eyes and ears here."
"I knew they'd remember my name. Why keep things a secret? Surely your new glorious overlords are not scared of a few errant drones."
"Seto, please, you don't understand--"
"Oh. So now I'm the one who doesn't understand what's going on here. No. I understand perfectly. And so do you. It's going to eat at you for the rest of your life, Seri."

Seri rises up with an angry start. "I chose a new beginning! I chose not to cling to the gods that stood by and did nothing while our world burned! You are the one who made a mistake, and it's only a matter of time until you realise how wrong you truly were! How wrong you truly are!"

Rito112a has no idea what the fuck is going on. The rookies hover outside the doorway in stunned and confused silence, occasionally shooting glances to each other.
No. 396479 ID: f2c010
File 133290830468.png - (195.23KB , 640x480 , d3-26.png )

Seto96n slowly raises a hand to his helmet. "Rito. You've put up with a lot of shit from me. Yes, I left you for dead when there was no way out. I chose you for a reason, though. Everyone else on that mission? They would have fought their way to the end. You? You stopped and thought. You realised it wasn't worth it. You made a deal. Don't forget that."

He grips his helmet. "Man, these guys are noisy when they're pissed. Yeah, turns out they don't like it when certain individuals talk about things they're not supposed to."
Rito116a drifts around the room, gun held, watching the confused fleshbeasts circle around Seri. "What the fuck are you talking about, Seto? What's this all about?"
"Oh, you'll find out. I trust you will. You've got smarts, kid. I've never doubted that. Trouble is, you're not getting out of here alive now. Me, I had to go in and ruin all the secrets. Sorry for the silent treatment earlier, I was double checking that this was the plan with someone I unfortunately can't reveal the identity of yet."

Before Rito112a can shout at Seto96n with more angry confusion, Seto96n presses a release catch on his helmet. It falls and clatters to the ground.
No. 396480 ID: f2c010
File 133290833582.png - (226.75KB , 640x480 , d3-27.png )

"Well, no more lies. It's been great, guys. You should run. They're coming."
"Run? I don't understand, what the fuck is going on, why aren't you telling us anything--"


"Hey! Rito! Remember that time I left you behind? Now's payback time! Get the rookies and your dumb tail to the media storage! Unless you want to get torn to bits!"
"Oh no you fucking don't! You don't get to start being cryptic and then suddenly do this revelation shit and die without giving me some fucking answers! Don't you fucking dare think you're getting out of explaining what's going on!"

Rito112a is not going to give Seto96n the satisfaction of freaking the fuck out, and chooses instead to ride the outrage she has at the sudden wave of bullshit coming from all directions. She can hear Tovi480di outright scream, and the clang of Revo55er's cannon swinging into the outside wall.

Monitors start pouring through the walls. Now things need to be dealt with a little more urgently.
No. 396513 ID: b85f8c

Fighting retreat. Use of subspace weapons advised.

Might as well blow up the room that the fleshbeasts are in. Turns out they're working for the enemy... one we don't even know the name of yet! Ugh.
No. 396516 ID: 12c19f

...Oh gods what the fuck.


No. 396537 ID: 196d1b

Do we have the body armor yet??? Oh god central network this isn't as soon as possible!

Tell Tovi and Revo to get their kulukuzu butts in here and help fight. Revo has a bunch of grenades, so he can help defend against the onslaught of monitors. Tell him to try not to hit Seto with either type of bomb, even if the anti-monitor grenades aren't supposed to affect drones. Tovi is apparently built for close range and should make sure to defend Seto from the monitors. You seem the most competent, try to cover all of them with that big arm gun. We don't want any casualties, especially now that Seto's secrets are out of the bag. (So many secrets! :D) If we lose him, though, then we should just run for it, with the same strategy.
No. 396669 ID: b6edd6

Staying to fight would only have an advantage if we could prevent Seto's death, which is highly implausible while he is in the middle of that swarm. I vote fighting retreat.
When you exit into the hallway, you should have a subspace grenade thrown down the dead-end corridor to your right, as the map indicates the wall on your side of that corridor is also the wall of the media storage room.
No. 396752 ID: affb00

If you are going to retreat, please annihilate Seto with subspace grenades. He's a nice guy, but it would be kinder to kill him than letting the monitors have him.
No. 396769 ID: 180ec2

If they get him they can probably get some information from him. And he apparently has some extremely volatile information. Best use an anti-monitor grenade (save the subspace grenades in case you come across something that isn't a monitor) to take them all out and keep the monitors from learning whatever he knows, not to mention giving him a better death. Say goodbye or something nice so that the last thing he hears isn't you swearing at him.
No. 426506 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134076200644.png - (146.83KB , 640x480 , d3-28.png )

> Retreat!
> Lethal force!
> Take out Seto with a grenade!
> Take out the wall with a sub-space grenade!

The nature of the current situation sends Rito112a's enhanced reflexes helmet into overdrive. The world blurs immediately. She plans her actions carefully.

Rito112a does not have any of the grenades. They are all in Revo55er's possession. Both Revo55er and Tovi480di are too far to reach. They have already begun to run. Rito112a does not have time to feel contempt for the cowardice of rookies, but makes a note to do so later.

Retreat appears to be the best option, however. Strategic retreat, without losing her head and blundering into a fatal situation. Staying behind and saving Seto96n would be in direct defiance of his orders, and would end poorly for all parties involved.

He made a judgement call that time before. He abandoned her. She never knew he cared. She never knew how hard that decision must have been. Her next words are fast and staccato, barked as orders.

"Seto! Get out of this alive! I'll see you back at sector two!"
No. 426507 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134076202801.png - (220.10KB , 640x480 , d3-29.png )

Time flows slowly. She can hear the warning sounds of her helmet starting to fail. Maintenance never seemed like a priority until now. Just a few more seconds. That's all she needs.

She soars past the rookies, shouting her commands as she moves. Attack any monitors impeding movement. Destroy the wall connecting the corridor and the media storage room. Get in there at all costs. An anti-monitor grenade dispatches the bulk of the threat. Tovi480di's blades make short work of the rest.
No. 426508 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134076204301.png - (106.22KB , 640x480 , d3-30.png )

While Rito112a still lives, she will finish the mission. She will finish the mission and she will find out more. Seto96n died for her just so she could live to find out more. To die now would cheapen that.

There is no time to mourn. Just two more seconds.

In the haze of stimulants and hyperactive neuron circuitry, Rito112a silently watches the wall collapse into the nothingness between spaces.
No. 426509 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134076206483.png - (167.43KB , 640x480 , d3-31.png )

The drones run into the dark, cavernous media storage room. They are not followed.

The room is quiet. Blue light floods the area. Machines hum and whirr. The unease caused by monitor proximity is gone, but the unease of this strange new environment replaces it.

Broken containment tubes suggest a struggle, and whatever caused the initial surge of activity has likely long since escaped. A thoroughly disappointing discovery.

One final forlorn beep is the last sound Rito112a's helmet ever makes. Blinded by dead cameras, she removes her helmet. As she catches her reflection, her helmet clatters to the ground.

No. This can't be right. This can't be right at all. This doesn't make any sense.
No. 426519 ID: b85f8c

Call Tovi over to look at the growths.
No. 426521 ID: 196d1b

Uh oh this is pretty super bad. Poke yourself and make sure you're not just going crazy. Is that stuff just growing on the dermal armor or is it actually going all the way through to the skin? I don't think anything actually touched you there and it's not anywhere else. When was the last time you took off your helmet or looked at your skin?

While you answer that take a look at that monitor over there. The computer monitor, that is. Also maybe ask Tovi to take a look at you with that medical training?
No. 426819 ID: e3aff6

The creature depicted on the computer screen appears to be organic, but only has two legs. How odd.
No. 427109 ID: 927efa


No. 427120 ID: e3aff6

And you think a single small flesh-creature was the cause, rather than the entire rooms coated with them she entered both before and after that meeting?
No. 427134 ID: 180ec2

It looks like a deikail, which is even more suspicious. For a lot of reasons.

As for >>427109 there's no evidence that Cita had anything directly to do with that, considering nobody actually touched her. If anything it was the tentacles that were feeling up Rito. That is, if she hadn't been infected previously. She literally wasn't touching anything else, not even the floor, and let alone with her face. So unless the stuff is airborne transmissible, in which case I'm more worried for Kata, the stuff is very likely not our fault. That said, I suggest that Tovi be extremely careful examining her, and possibly to check beneath the armor to make sure this stuff hasn't progressed further than it looks.
No. 428004 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134119502705.png - (77.29KB , 640x480 , d3-32.png )

> Call Tovi
> Poke self

Rito112a does not want to touch the growths on her head for fear of making a problem worse. She calls Tovi480di over. "Tovi. You're a medic, right?"
"...oh. Hold still. Um. I've never come across anything like this in my training. Have you seen anything like this, miss Rito?"
"Nothing like this."
"I don't know what to do about this. I could remove these growths, but without knowing their exact nature I could end up hurting you. They look something like those creatures we just encountered. Were they drones once?"

Rito112a takes a deep breath and sighs. Tovi480di is a smart one. She's also remarkably impressed by Tovi480di's stability in the face of the horrors just witnessed. It's such a marked change from the last rookie she remembers being in a team with.

"Okay. I might know a little more. It's a Prime experiment gone wrong. Something that takes regular drones and turns them into that. If you can root through your medical training and find something to stop that happening, I'd be incredibly grateful."
"I-I'm sorry, miss Rito, but nothing I've encountered has prepared me for treating a problem like this. We should get you back to home sector as soon as we can. Maybe someone there can help."

Rito112a sighs again. Tovi480a is correct. Central Network wouldn't help her, though. She wonders who would.
No. 428005 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134119504017.png - (108.47KB , 640x480 , d3-33.png )

Her vision swims. No. This is far too fast. This isn't fair. She should have had more time. Out of the corner of her eye, she sees the tendrils on her face twitch and grow. The last thing she hears is Tovi480di screaming her name.

She feels like she can see Seri, free from the veins usually covering her, a mocking twisted smile on her face.

Don't worry, Rito. Even traitors like you will be welcomed into my perfect society. Fight it all you can. Nothing can change your fate.

Discard the machines of Central and Prime. We do not need their future. We're making our own.

Rito112a feels as though a presence is being ripped from her, and then--

[Connection terminated.]
No. 428006 ID: 9e3c3d
File 134119506602.png - (134.98KB , 640x480 , d3-34.png )

I've received the data from the mission. Distressing. You do not need to know nor understand the significance of what you have discovered, which brings me to my next point. You are in possession of dangerous information. Information with ramifications far greater than you can possibly imagine. You are not permitted to share this information with anyone or anything under penalty of deletion. Indicating what information this is is far too dangerous, but I believe you are capable of inferring what information I refer to. Nevertheless, you have acted in my best interests. You have assisted my drones to a reasonable level of satisfaction. Excellent work, TG-CN. Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of the information gathered, I am unable to formally rate your performance. I am confident in your abilities, and you do not appear to be the element at fault for TG-CN-001's rogue behaviour. You will be reunited with your drone. Perhaps there is a chance you can redeem it. Or get it destroyed. Whichever prevents it becoming a threat to my designs. It will take some time to reconfigure your inputs to target TG-CN-001 again. Please stand by. Do not worry. It's all going just fin33AABCEDFEEDFE12B43CE#@!!!-- [Connection dropped.] [Logging ceased.] [Entering hibernation.]
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