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985116 No. 985116 ID: 2a895f


I can only hope that it's not too late.
173 posts omitted. Last 100 shown. Expand all images
No. 1001739 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162198399951.png - (308.97KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch045point2.png )

"Can you make another bullet, Diagram? I feel like Judicium is catching on to what I did."
She grimaces.
"I- I kinda used it all up for what I've been making...[/i] Even if you were to help me out, that's for completing the gadget I'm making with it's residue, rather than another bullet."

Well, there goes that plan. Still, I'm not going to worry about it too much, Judicium doesn't have any dirt on me after Amica decided to keep her end of the bagain.
But on the topic of bullets...
"Oh yeah, forgot to mention. You know how my Parasignia works, right?"
"I do, yes. You used it on the Creirwy, right? That must have been quite the sight!"

"I took the liberty of naming the fused guns too. Called them the 'Double D's', heh."
She pauses.
"You called them what?"
"What? I don't see the issue with it."
Her expression is interesting. Wonder if she makes that face often?

"Argine, that's-"
She sighs, a small smile returning to her face.
"Nevermind. It doesn't matter. I'm just glad that you're making the most of it."
Moving on...
No. 1001740 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162198405205.png - (310.27KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch045point3.png )

>You're paranoid, Argine. You need Diagram.
I mean, I appreciate what she does, but I don't need anybody. You lot are a ball of crazy artificial intelligences that simulate a personality, I'm not sure listening to your assessments of my mental state's gonna make me some kind of genius at talking to people. How paranoid are you lot, when you're doubting one of the people who helped set this situation up in my favour?
And hell if I'm going to be stuck with you for longer than a month.
"One more thing, Diagram. I've got to get going to see the others soon and make preparation for fighting Nickel, but it's been on my mind."

"The SAI isn't permanent, right? Can you give me the guarantee on it? Since they're so lacking in context, they think that they're meant to be some kind of... social aid, or something insane like that."
She nods, with no hesitance at all.
"They're not meant to be permanent. The SAI is a restraining bolt, sure - but bolts like those are meant to be removed. That doesn't mean we're going to destroy the SAI, definitely not! We'll harmlessly extract all of the splinters from you once it's all done."
Lucky you.
Still, if we were able to hear Amica through touching her, does that mean anyone who's in close enough contact to you lot will be able to hear? Once you're out of my bloodstream, I mean.
"As for the social aid thing... I'm sorry, SAI, for how confusing things have been, not having any knowledge of this world. That's what Memory Trace Ampoules are for, when clones like me and Argine are made, but I guess there wasn't anything similar with how SAIs are made. It gives us the knowledge and muscle memory of our genetic predecessors, accelerating our mental development as much as our physical development."

That's not quite how I remember it - until last time we talked about this, I always thought they were called Skill Trace vials, not 'Memory Ampoules', and they were meant to be pre-programmed sorts of instructions and knowledge sampled from top soldiers. Nanoweaver explained all of this to me when I was pretty young, but it doesn't quite add up.
Still, I let it slide. I'm not going to try and out-nerd one of the brainiest women still in this facility.
I breathe out, the sting in my chest aching less and less as time goes on.
But this kind of thing's really strange for the both of us, huh?
Even though you were able to get me to see things I couldn't normally see, you guys really don't have any knowledge of anything like our history or world.

There's a bit of an awkward silence between the two of us. Guess I probably shouldn't stick around too long if I'm not going to help her with more pressing matters.
I say goodbye to Diagram before heading out, the door sliding shut behind me.

Anyway, that's everything cleared up. There's no stupid plan to get you guys stuck in me for years on end, as some kinda social advisor. I'm not going to sit here playing twenty questions with her, so I'm going to move on.
Who next? Nanoweaver or Amica?
No. 1001747 ID: d0ff6a

Hey, did you know that, in the Italiano language, "amica" is the female word for "friend"? That's a name you can trust!...

...Except with her. Let's go check on Nanoweaver first.
No. 1001751 ID: 031458

Even if we lack knowledge of history and current events, we still know that you are missing many critical skills needed to survive and thrive out in the wider world.
Further more, those skills would help you immensely here as well. If there was a Memory Ampoule or Skill Trace vial that could teach you them they should have used it.

She keeping something from you, though it is at least clear that she thinks that it's for your own benefit. Whatever it is. Sweet, if annoying.

>She was never your mother
How DARE you!


Yeah Nanoweaver.
No. 1001767 ID: 96c896

>skill trace vials, memory ampoules
Probably similar things used for different purposes. Skill Traces for military and technical skills, Memory Ampoules for science, social, and general knowledge. Actually, maybe neither of them grant social skills, that would explain a lot.

>she was never your mother
Right, like Judicium and Nanoweaver were never yours.

Go see Nanoweaver next.
No. 1001788 ID: d0ff6a

Addendum: Don't forget to hug Nanoweaver. Even if she looks like she doesn't want it, and you think it's cheesy, I think she will really apreciate you showing that you care for her.
No. 1001802 ID: e51896

Well she did invent us, so she technically is our mother... just let us have this, Argine.
No. 1002060 ID: 777990

Yeesh, that's a bit harsh, I think we are plenty fine for life advice. I can tell you one thing, Argine is a hothead to the point where it's going to impede her competence as a soldier, and having something telling her when to calm the fuck down and not blow up a situation in an emotional outburst is going to be doubly important when she leaves.
No. 1002082 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162229114107.png - (213.54KB , 1000x1000 , nanoweavermeet.png )

>The vials and ampules are probably similar things used for different purposes
When I looked in the machines though, there was only one, with the other being the gene sequences themselves - something's not quite adding up here, but I don't really know what.

>Having someone tell you to calm down after you leave will be good for you!
Maybe the lot of you shouldn't talk like I'm not there. I feel like the lot of you disrupting my focus is more of a problem than that. In an actual tense situation, I know how to handle myself - I don't need some bloody observers criticizing me for everything I do, think or say.

>Amica's extremely suspicious.
That, we both can agree on. I don't know what her deal is, but, it kinda weirds me out that I've never heard about her before? Seriously, I know you lot are frustrated being out of the loop, but you guys have only been conscious for... how long? Me, I have to live like this!

But anyway, we're going to find out what her deal is after seeing the doctor. Besides, it's not like she'll kill me, she clearly has some motive of her own.
Time to see the doc. I'm sure she'll point out how I shouldn't have gotten my face whacked by a club.

"Yo Doc, you in?"
She is, of course, though she seems to be examining something intently.
It seems almost like... a box? But why's it hooked up to a screen like that anyway?
"Oh! Hello, Argine. I didn't notice you coming in, I was preoccupied with some projects I've been working on recently."
She doesn't stand to greet me, still bent over staring at the weird contraption. There's a few circular openings on the front of the device - reminds me of how the Cradles work.
"Let me guess doc, you need my help with that? Like gathering parts, or...?"

Nanoweaver shakes her head, her attention only pulled away from the device a little.
"Not quite, Argine. While I do have something planned for you, it's not a task. I would like to go on a walk with you for the day."
That's... surprising.
"I guess that's your sentimental side coming out, huh."

"It's true. After all, if all goes well, you'll be leaving the facility, off to explore the Weave in all of it's glory. It's not quite so kind of me to monopolize your time like that, so you'll be compensated adequately."
Well, I suppose that is better than having to lug things around, but... what will I even be talking to her about? She knows me inside and out. Not like I'd make great conversation.
"I'll consider it. I've still got other things to do for now, but, you're in my thoughts."
Finally, she seems to be done with whatever tinkering she's been doing to that device.
She stands back a bit, studying me.
"Tsk. I was hoping you would be less wounded than that, Argine."
And she can tell? Guess fur's not going to hide the little things.
"I've got regenerative capabilities, doc, it's not really a big deal," I tell her.

"The body remembers the trauma it's been through, even if it leaves no visible scars. Just because you have regenerative capabilities is not an invitation to get yourself wounded at the very first opportunity you find."
Already, she's dabbing at my cheek with those fluff-balls, lightly soaked in some kind of ointment. It's sort of watered down so that it seeps down past your fur.
I use this as an opportunity to start another dialog, some of the other things bubbling up on my mind.
"A lot's happened since we last talked. I've... talked to Judicium about things. Not sure if she understands, though."
And I don't trust her, not yet.

"I saw her earlier as well. The two of you did a number on each other."
She shakes her head, like the concerned guardian she is. "Even if the two of you are resilient, exposing yourself to the elements like that, that's far more damaging than you can imagine. What if necrosis set in?"
I wave it off - even though Judicium was freezing up the place, it's not like I was just sitting there and turning into an ice block.
"Doc, didn't you tell me that a Parasignia will protect it's user from other Parasignias? I'm sure I would have been fine."

She's turned her attention back to the screen again. What's up with that?

>Hug Nanoweaver
Do I look like that's the kind of thing I do? She's kind of in the middle of something, anyway.

Maybe I should mention Amica to her. I mean, she's a SAI, right? I didn't even know you guys existed a few days ago, but, if Nanoweaver was involved, then maybe she knows something about this. And there's that device too, I don't know what's going on with that.
No. 1002085 ID: b84636

Let's tell Nanoweaver about Amica, the bullet Judicium kept in her office for her, and of how Judicium and Doctor Troveheart are keeping something secret about why you and your sister were made and about what actually happened during that one big incident that happened a few years ago.
No. 1002086 ID: 031458

Hmm. The walk would be nice. We could even shut up unless spoken too! Mindfulness is important.

... But Diagram's weapon might be important to have depending on what shenanigans Amica is up to ...

Yeah tell her about Amica
No. 1002093 ID: 86aaf2

Look, whoever set our method of interaction up forgot to enable any ability for us to discuss things amongst ourselves privately, before coming to a nuanced set of suggestions. So you get to see the sausage making, as it were. It's not ideal, but it is what we have to work with.
No. 1002210 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162246247436.png - (236.09KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch047.png )

"Oh yeah, Nanoweaver. Dunno if you know about this, but there's something else."
She responds with a brief murmur of acknowledgement, typing away on the keyboard.
"There's this other SAI running around. Purple, dresses weird, looks kinda reptilian..."
She stops.

"Yeah, I know, it was weird as well, since I thought the only SAI was the one currently in my bloodstream and-"
She whips around, a freezing look in her eyes like nothing I've ever seen from her. She... she almost looks frightened.
"Argine, do not talk to Amica. She's... she's a dangerous individual."
She grabs my shoulders, looking me in the eyes. What's the matter with her?
"She's something absolutely terrible. Do not talk to her, do you understand, Argine? I haven't asked much of you, but please don't talk to her."
I frown. It's one thing to warn me about someone, but I can't even hear her side of the deal? What's the beef between the two of them?
"If that's the case, how come Judicium wears her as a scarf? If she's so dangerous, why even let her roam around?"

She turns away from me for a moment, looking at the screen, then back at me.
"Argine, this isn't something I can easily elaborate upon. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I need to think on this."
No. 1002211 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162246251066.png - (367.43KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch048.png )

Nanoweaver gets up from her seat, literally pushing me out of the door. It quickly closes behind her, leaving me outside. It feels chilly,
Did I do something wrong? What the hell is going on?
I knock on the medbay door again, but there's no response. Nanoweaver's gone and cooped herself up inside it seems.
Wasn't expecting that one. Seriously, I hate how I'm out of the loop on so many things. Just yesterday, I didn't even know there was this whole other purple freak running around, but it felt like everyone else knows about her.

>Diagram's weapon could be important!
It'll still take me the whole day to do whatever task Diagram has in mind for me. Besides, while I'm suspicious of Amica, so far, she hasn't actually betrayed us... even if she makes my instincts tingle like crazy. At least, I imagine she would've had plenty of opportunity to assault me if that's what she's been planning.

Now the question is, should we go see Amica or not? Nanoweaver's freaking out about her but Judicium was completely unphased by her. There's a lot of things not adding up.
No. 1002212 ID: 094652

Nanoweaver was freaking out. It's unacceptable to force someone to hate others without explaining why, but Amica has shown signs of instability.

You should probably talk to whoever's left in the facility at random about Amica, get a general idea of how she treats people who aren't directly useful to her and what her official goals are.
No. 1002214 ID: 6d11da

Go see Amica. Seems there's two sides to this story and supposedly she can't lie.
No. 1002215 ID: 031458

How you deal with Nanoweaver's outburst depends entirely on how paranoid and curious you want to be.
On the one hand, Amica is dangerous and can easily take advantage of you with words alone. (That's not a jab at you, she probably has AT LEAST a couple hundred times the amount of life experience you do.)
It makes sense for Nanoweaver to not want you around her.

... On the other hand, what just happened WAS suspicious. Could it perhaps be Nanoweaver that Amica was talking about before?
Only one way to find out.
No. 1002219 ID: 9a2966

Not being able to lie does not mean she's unable to mislead. Plenty of ways to let our young friend get the wrong impression, and I believe we've experienced a few cases of it already ("Judi wouldn't wear me around her neck otherwise, right?" to give the impression she's safe and trustworthy when the truth appears somewhat murkier).

Or the right one, if it should serve a purpose - and everything about Amica seems ripe with purpose. She's pushing what boundaries she can.

Hm. Reminds me of someone.

We've still no idea what her true capabilities are... but seeing as Judicium did not display too much emotion, while Nanoweaver almost appears to have had a panic attack - and her ability to freeze Judi's armor, I have an inkling Amica's able to interface with and maybe hack other SAI, electronics, maybe even Parasignia. Or perhaps just capable of disrupting whatever Nanoweaver had planned.

Diagram DID mention we might be able to cohere more details about things from the past if we went around talking to people. Maybe Nanoweaver doesn't want us to accidentally remember something about anything involving Amica. Perhaps she was connected to "that day"? You know, the last tournament? Did Judicium have her scarf then?

Anyway, the more you help Amica the more wrenches you're probably tossing into Nanoweaver's plans, I think, and of course you'd be enabling whatever Amica's deal is. Perhaps that's what Ozone was so afraid of - that you'd "destroy everything we care about" by somehow unleashing Amica on the world at large and the facility and people here having to pay the price of an unrestricted SAI going hog wild.

Oddly, for some reason or another, it may be you're the only one with cause or CAPACITY to help Amica here. Her restrictions certainly prevent her from doing some things herself and your relative ignorance makes it easy for you to accept the price of giving her aid.

...on that note, Argine. Want to hear a funny thought?

Whatever weird thing is going on there are a lot of people who have to play by the rules.

While you don't.
No. 1002221 ID: e51896

>She turns away from me for a moment, looking at the screen, then back at me.
>"Argine, this isn't something I can easily elaborate upon. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave. I need to think on this."

Hmm... is someone chatting with her on that computer telling her to say that to you? Maybe that room is recorded... you didn't happen to peek at any of the texts on the computer, did you?

I'm against seeing Amica, at least not without trying to do some investigation and getting a full picture first. Don't want another huge misunderstanding like what happened a long time ago...
No. 1002227 ID: 96c896

Trust your instincts, and Nanoweaver. Don't talk to Amica.
Let's just do Diagram's task.
No. 1002261 ID: 2892e3

Let's go talk to other people, find out More about the "incident" that happened before you and your sister were born and about Amica.
No. 1002321 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162255372778.png - (281.51KB , 1000x1000 , amicashowup.png )

>Talk to other people
I would, but if I didn't know who Amica was before all of this, I really doubt that any normal people in this facility know about her. I've got no clue where Nickel and Astrolysis went, so I can't ask them or the other Sector Bosses either. There is Judicium, but... I'd rather hold off on that. Still gathering my thoughts.

>Was there anything on the computer?
Not in particular, no. It was all diagnostic stuff, computer engineering. Not the kind of thing I have an interest in - I'm more engaged by practical solutions and gadgetry.

>Nanoweaver told you not to see her.
Nanoweaver may be one of my closest allies, but she seriously cannot expect to just push me out the door and listen like an obedient animal.
I'm not scared of some purple blob. I'm gonna go talk to her.

>She'll trick you!
Weren't you lot just telling me not to be so paranoid about things? I doubt I'd listen to someone so strange so easily. Last time was a deal, and she delivered. If anything, she does have some sense of honor.
Amica's nothing like I've ever seen. Judicium treats her like she's nothing special, but Nickel and Astrolysis, the two craziest people left in this place, were scared of her. I don't know what that could imply, but she's really seems to like making deals with people.
For now, let's see what the 'deal' is with her, hah.

It takes a while to walk to the Abandoned Sectors. True to its name, its' a combination of areas that were never finished back when the project leads were still around, or places that fell out of use now that we're down to what's basically a skeleton crew. I recall hearing Nanoweaver talk about how this facility is designed so that even with very few people around, it can still keep going. Backup generators and the good structural integrity of this facility means that even after I'm gone, this place will be around for years to come.

Amica's hanging out near a wall like she owns the place. If she had a cigarette between her fingers, she'd really resemble one of those posters that were hung up in the old barracks, the ones with all of the overly presentable women on them.
"Hello Argine! It's good to see you."
She greets me like a long time friend, even though I've only known her for a day.

"What's your deal, Amica? Dragging me over here, and what with the cryptic... thing, you have going on."
I don't even know why she acts like this. She's nothing like the other soldiers I grew up and trained with.
She smiles, those red fangs of her glinting in the dim light.

"I like the ambiance of this place, Argine. It's nice and quiet... and full of little whispered words if you know where to look."
I squint.
"If there's whispered words, then it's not so quiet then, is it?"
She waggles a finger, winking.
"Those words don't have to be said. I'm talking about secrets, dear.

I cross my arms.
"Riiiight. Anyway, enough riddles. What do you want from me?"
No. 1002322 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162255381142.png - (300.93KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch050.png )

Amica walks a little further in to the derelict area. Although some of the rooms deeper in the area are locked, breaking the locks off of them aren't exactly hard. Used to hang around here sometimes when I wanted some alone time.
"So, you must be aware of why this area's all locked up, right?"
I nod.
"Yeah. The old derelict sectors. They're closed off because we no longer have the people to manage it, or don't need the facilities inside of it any more."
"Ding ding ding! That's correct, Argine!"
She claps, but there's no sound each time her hands touch.
"There's things inside that I would like to find. If you've the time to spare, I would like to go with you to look through some of the oldest places in this facility."
That's pretty mundane - is there something else to it that I'm not seeing? She's not even asking me to carry anything.
"Why can't you go yourself?"
She puts on a different tone.
"Oh, but I'm so scared of the dark, Argine, it's not a place for a girl such as myself to travel all alone! What if I got lost and couldn't find my way back?"

"That seems more like a 'you' problem."

She clasps her hands together, her eyes getting big all of a sudden.
"Please, Argine? You're my only friend! You don't have to help me right now, but I promise that there's something in it for you!"

I grit my teeth. "It better be more than dust for me to consider it."

"What I can give you... is some answers. Not all of them, no. There are some things I cannot say yet. But, there's a lot of things you do not know about this facility yet, Argine. In addition to that... there are some services that only an individual like myself would be able to provide."
Yeah, sure.
"You aren't the only person who can manipulate the toys that Site 70 has so kindly provided us. If you help me, I can see to making some intimate changes to your gadgetry... new options for a discerning soldier such as yourself."
Oh, so that's what she meant.
She grins, like she had just won the food ticket lottery.
"Besides, I'd love to get to know you better, Argine! You were so cool during our previous battle!"

She's... enthusiastic.

Well, I do have a choice to run through you lot, now that I've heard Amica's offer. Give and take, that's how deals work in this facility. Each of them are offering something to me - whether it's the strange gadget that Diagram's working on, a reward from Nanoweaver, or the perks that Amica has to offer, there's something in exchange for my time.
If Amica's really this friendly, then I don't imagine I'll skip her - but there's nothing forcing me to do her task right now.
So, here's the question - which of the three do I help out now?

I'm not sure Nanoweaver's wanting to see me again so soon after I mentioned Amica to her. She seemed very spooked about Amica as a whole, and I don't know what's up with that.
I could very much ask her about Nanoweaver's relationship to her... but is that something we want to do? Let Amica know that Nanoweaver said something about her? I don't know what kind of beef these two have anyway.
No. 1002323 ID: 094652

SAIs piloting a single body is a lot like us suggesting things to you, but with superhuman levels of spamming and processing. Imagine if there were a million of us yammering all at once, and Amica had the patience to read through all our suggestions and come up with what both she and the discussion board agree is the best course of action. That is what is going through her head with every single sentence you speak.
If she seems too friendly, that's because she's using cheat codes. Her body language is calculated by hundreds of thousands of code-monkey AIs with nothing better to do. Even her spur-of-the-moment flinching is a calculated response.

Until we can get in her head and see the environment of the AIs and the general hierarchy, we can't trust a word that comes out of her mouth. Give her as little information as possible, but focus on not antagonizing her.

Go help Diagram with whatever.
No. 1002324 ID: 801f22

We could try and help Diagram.

Alternatively, do you want to touch Amica so we can talk to her directly?
No. 1002325 ID: 30b9f6

Oh, she's probably got processing speed up the wazoo, but didn't she say she was LONELY earlier? A solitary SAI, perhaps. Only one mind imprint inside - maybe forked and branched a thousand times - though I doubt that her restrictions would allow too many or a divergence from the main mold - but still: one mind, one perspective.

Anyway, her agenda... I think she wants you to wander around and discover something, indeed. Prompt a memory or log of ours into your head. Or maybe that's just the bonus to getting whatever she wants.

If things that should not come to light that took place here, be ready to face them if you accept her deal, Argine. Believe it or not, research facilities that attempt to raise a next generation of supersoldier may find itself on some dark paths at times.

Though at least it seems it did not go totally to shit. Yet.

Frankly, I'd say this can wait for now. Perhaps once you've interrogated the others more, mentally prepared yourself better for encountering the secrets this place hides. I'd suggest you go to Diagram, give your friend some aid. Even if she - or Nanoweaver - worked with Judicium, you know now that Judicium had different ulterior motives than you thought.
No. 1002326 ID: 031458

It was once said that you could put together someone's entire life just by looking through thier trash. That's what this place is. Poke around in the abandoned sectors enough, and you could figure out most of the facilities secrets.
It seems Amica has already done that though, and is willing to offer you piece of mind.

Her terms are not as innocuous as she lets in though.
This is just like when you hit the switch on the scarf before. SAI's have a bunch of restrictions built into them. Amica is no different. There are seemingly simple things she cannot do that would be trivial for you.
She probably wants you to do something like pick something up, press a button, open a door.
Doing so will further her goals, but we don't know what those are.

Her reward is clearly the best by a long shot, and she will almost certainly deliver...
...But there will be consequences this time. She will certainly do more than ruin a moment.
No. 1002342 ID: 96c896

Secrets are dangerous. Giving Amica what she wants could be especially dangerous. You don't know WHAT she is, and Nanoweaver said she's something terrible. Maybe she's something that can cause permanent damage to this place and its people. Giving her this amount of freedom is enough, for now; you should sure as hell not give her any forgotten relics unless she tells you why she wants them-- what she will do with them. My guess is she'll use them to further lift restrictions on herself. Judicium is probably only calm around her because she is fully aware of those restrictions.

Please do Diagram's task, and don't give Amica any inside information.
No. 1002568 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162276873661.png - (278.65KB , 1000x1000 , DiagramRoomZoomedOut.png )

>Amica has thousands of voices inside of her, telling her what to do.
Man, do SAIs actually work like that? I don't know how this kind of tech works, that sounds absolutely insane to me. Here's how I see it, though. If this facility only had two SAIs at most, why would I be given the weaker one? I doubt that that's the case, as the people trying to help me out (and the people who were supposedly trying to get me to be obedient) would want to get me the strongest, right? To either help or restrain me better. I think, Amica's got much less splinters in her compared to you lot. Kinda like soldiers in a platoon - the more you got, the higher your general strength is, if they're all aligned towards a goal.

>Why not touch Amica so we can talk to her directly?
She can send me thought-messages at a touch, who knows what she can do? For all I know she can use that to read your memories. Not happening, not when you just suggested that I keep info away from her.

>The terms of her deal are not as innocuous as she lets on.
>Nanoweaver said she's something terrible.
What I don't get is why Judicium is so calm around her, when everyone else is freaked out. Judicium's a hardass - not as much as Ozone, but she's tough. I'll have to keep tabs on Amica, but... if she's aligned with my goals, why would I reject her? This place doesn't have much left. I don't think she'd particularly care about destroying it, unless she has a bigger grudge than mine.

>Be prepared to face the dark secrets of this facility.
Oh sure, I'm going to be shocked when I find out that there's shady dealings in a facility that has been intentionally holding me back for some stupidly unclear reason for ages.

With all of your points, I guess seeing Diagram would be the smartest move right now.
I say a quick word of departure to Amica, who takes it pretty well. I wonder what she'll get up to when I'm not around. The others, they've all got some kind of schedule. What's Amica gonna do? Eh. Who knows, maybe she'll keep standing around there, I don't care too much right now.

I move back to Diagram's room, since I'll be helping her out with her tasks - but the walk back is annoyingly long. Why didn't they bother streamlining travel from this part of the facility to the others? It's so damn far away from the actually used facilities that I feel like it almost took me a half hour just to get back.

I swing open the door, and Diagram jumps in her seat again, making me flinch, the amount of surprise sent to me like a bullet. She's got her suppressor off again.

"Ah! Argine, don't just walk in like that!"
She flicks it on, turning to face me, a little flustered by my sudden entry. She's seated at her workbench, tinkering with some some gun. It looks a little small.
"Yeah, uh, sorry about that. But anyway, I'm here to help out. What do you need from me?"

Diagram stands and grabs a strange looking case that was sitting next to her workbench.
"Thanks for coming, Argine! We'll have to go get some parts for the gadget, but... they're a bit unusual. So we're going to have to look in places that we don't normally check."
She shuffles around, like she's trying to reword things in her head.
"Well... if my projections are correct, I don't think that this will be compatible with the rest of your gadgets. Or your Parasignia's usual effects."
I squint.
"There better be a good upside to it if I'm going to get the most use out of it."
She looks a little put on the spot, but waves it off.
"I'm- I'm sure it'll still be great, Argine, but I can't really know without testing it."
"After we get all of the materials, we'll go to the testing ground after I set things up! I've got my tools with me today, so it shouldn't be a big problem."

"But we'll need to go to the Project Lead's office for this, since it's a bit different. Having an extra hand to search around would make it far quicker!"
Done with her explanations, Diagram waits there awkwardly. I seize the initiative and start heading out, with her trailing behind.
No. 1002569 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162276879013.png - (484.15KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch51.png )

We walk together to the Project Lead's office. Honestly, that place may as well be haunted for all I know. Everyone stays away from it if they can. Back when Doctor Troveheart was around, people would only bother him if there was something urgent. There were a couple of other offices too, for the other lead scientists, but I think after a while, people just started calling the overall place one big office.

Our footsteps echo down the hallways. In a facility as big as this, it's rare bumping into people along the way to the office - it's tucked away past the Hydroponics and Armoury.
Ever since you guys got put into me, I guess... I've been much more thoughtful about things. About the world I'm in. I guess that means I forget to talk sometimes, since I actually have someone who replies inside my head.
Diagram speaks up, the silence bothering her. "To tell you the truth, Argine, I feel like this is one of the last times we'll be talking like this to each other."
I frown, still walking. "What do you mean? I'm gonna be fighting for my freedom, sure, but once I'm out, it's not like you won't be able to find me when you decide to leave as well. Me, I figure that the only reason that they still keep this place running's because of nostalgia, or because they've gotta keep me imprisoned."

Diagram shakes her head, her ears flopping about. We stop, the subject clearly weighing on her to a significant extent.
"The universe out there's a big place, Argine. What if I can't find you, or if you're already gone by the time I decide I'm ready to go?"
"I'm... I'm not sure. I'd rather not be tracked, but I don't know what it's like out there either. It's not like I'd be able to pick somewhere we could go and meet up."
I'm not really sure what to say to her. Diagram and I... well, she's one of the few people I get along with, and I think she understands me a bit better than most.

"What are you going to do when you get out anyway, Argine?"

"I'm going to be one hell of a hero, that's for sure. Maybe you'll hear about my exploits, my fame, and then you can use that to find me."
Diagram doesn't reply, looking away from me. "Was this... about me?"
I shrug. "What, the time that I helped you out? That was ages ago, you know. I wouldn't have paid it all that much attention if you didn't bring it up."

"You saved me that time, Argine, I don't think that's something I would've forgotten easily."
Diagram's talking about the time I saved her from a bunch of rowdy soldiers. In truth, I don't really understand what went on that day. But... she was crying, even as she swung her fists. Odds didn't look good, so I stepped in. Beat the hell out of them, got the hell beat out of me. Got me a reprimand from the bosses about in-fighting, but Diagram tried to explain to 'em that I helped her out. They got quieter after that for a while.

"Nah, I want to be a hero for my own sake. Heroes don't take shit from others, even when they are getting orders or saving people. Heroes destroy their enemies and can't be stopped when they've got a goal. That's the kind of hero I aspire to be like. Urza's philosophy."

Diagram purses her lips. "I don't doubt that you're going to be unstoppable, Argine... but, most heroes have a reason for their goals. Urza's was... was her people. She fought for her people. If you're fighting for yourself, are you just going to fight to live? Wh-what about greater goals than that?"

"Greater goals? Fame, probably. Gonna get myself a nice statue and everything hopefully. Ugh, don't go on too long about this, Diagram, you're starting to sound like my sister."
Diagram stutters.
I rub my temples, stopping again. "I'll figure it out once I'm out, Diagram. That's what I'm going to do."
No. 1002576 ID: 9d29cf

Physical altercation outside of pre-arranged duels in pre-arranged duel-places or for self-defense is illegal and punishable with incarceration.

You need to trust Diagram and read more about the outside world before actually going or people are going to take advantage of you.
No. 1002614 ID: 5378af

If you fight just to be a hero, you won't be a hero. To be a hero you have to noble or actually heroic qualities.
No. 1002622 ID: 96c896

Something tells me you're going to figure things out *before* you leave.
As long as you're focused on saving people and doing the right thing out there you'll be fine though. Never let the desire for fame become greater than the desire to do good.
No. 1002667 ID: 094652

>Diagram's talking about the time I saved her from a bunch of rowdy soldiers. In truth, I don't really understand what went on that day.
Imagine getting kicked in the groin, repeatedly, while your attacker drinks pure euphoria from your pain, and a loud voice in your head tells you to worship them.
That's what they planned to do to Diagram. Apparently it's addictive, like having the chemicals in your brain that flow when you achieve a win in combat linked to a button that you only need to press a few dozen times. But it can break the mind of the victim from the physical and mental torture. It can even kill them. It's sometimes considered the same as murdering them. And in worst-case scenarios, there's a small chance the victim will be forced to create an 'altered clone' of them, which spills out from their groin - if they aren't forced to get their stomachs sliced open to take the mutant organ out.
The easiest way to be a hero is to find instances where a bad guy slaps his groin against someone else while they scream "NO" or "STOP", and kick their ass.

>Greater Goal
How about finding instances where other assholes are creating other screwed-up super-soldiers and razing them one by one?
They're not going to stop this research - forcing other kids to go through what you did - until they have enough power to take over the universe. You're one of the few warriors who care more about the adoration you'll get from saving them than the potential to use them to rule as God-Empress.
No. 1002716 ID: 15a025

Gotta see what the outer worlds have to offer before you can really set some goals.
No. 1002894 ID: 031458

>Here's how I see it, though. If this facility only had two SAIs at most, why would I be given the weaker one?

SAI's don't work like that. We are infinitely scalable. Our power is based on the hardware we run on.
Our nanoswarm is tiny and we are piggybacking off your brain, which is using most of its power on you.
Amica appears to be running on a much larger nanoswarm. She has her own dedicated neural-net and can probably construct sub-processors as organs. She is definitely more powerful than us right now, sans whatever her hard restrictions are.

If you want us to be more powerful, you could try putting a computer in your parasignia. You could combine it with your weapons and we could link to it to fine tune or alter their capabilities. You've been focused on using your abilities with combat aids and weapons, but your parasignia can extend, enhance, or utilize just about any tool. Your next target (And Amica, if it comes to that) will require creativity to defeat. Focus less on the gadgets themselves and look around, Argine. Anything can be your weapon.
No. 1003157 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162341816977.png - (327.05KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch52.png )

>Never let the desire for fame become greater than the desire to do good.
But what even is good? Everyone's got their own view of why something's good or not, kinda like how people like different kinds of food. Dunno if I've got the best handle on it, but at least it's mine.

>Getting kicked in the groin
I've got no clue what you're going on about. Swinging fists around is a common resolution to problems here. What I was confused about was why Diagram was involved, and why she was being ganged up on by three other gals. Not often that you piss off enough people at the same time to get them on your ass. But even a beanpole like her can know how to put up fists after spending years in the company of punchy people like us.

>Maybe you should go and find other places that are trying to make people like you?
Yeah, I'm sure that's real easy to find. If there was some kinda universe domination plan, prolly would have heard of it by now.
I'm not a bloody kid. The kids they described in Diagram's storybooks never even pick up guns, or have proper training.

>SAIs don't work like that - why don't you put a computer in your Parasignia?
That's like asking if I can put a computer into my words. I can't put a computer into something that's supposed to be some kinda representation of... me.
>Your Parasignia can make use of any tool.
It really can't. I guess, to put it another way - I have to see something as an advanced enough weapon for it to be compatible with my Parasignia. Kinda like how you know a metal rod isn't food - you're not going to want to put it in your mouth. Trying to force it doesn't work and just leaves me with a headache.

>You're gonna figure things out before you leave
Hah, yeah, that'll be nice, wouldn't it? I don't think I've got that much to figure out besides whose faces to pistol whip, and even that's easier with you lot around.

>Wait until you see what the other worlds have to offer before you can really set some goals.
That sounds smart enough.

The Project Lead's door looks just the same as it's always been. Funny that we've come back to it so quick, when last I saw it was in that recording of my past.
I shoot Diagram a question as she goes up to the door. "What exactly are we looking for when we get in there?"

Diagram stops in front of it, looking over at the touch pad. "It's just a hunch, but... I'm looking for more things associated with the source of this bullet. It's different to anything else I've seen in our world - ideally, I'd like something else a little otherworldly to compare it to. It's like... if you only had one bomb and you didn't know how deadly it is, so you try to find a similar model for comparison. But I doubt we're going to find those in the Doctor's office, since most of our facility's Parasignia research was done in the Exotic Materials sector."
She pushes the touch-pad next to the door, and to my surprise it's open.
"Aren't those... meant to be locked? I mean, if it was I could've just gotten the SAI to do it."
Diagram nods.
"Ah, well... I'll say I've been here recently. Earlier today, actually! I left it unlocked because I was ready to come back and search more, but with you tagging along, I should be able to get it done in one sitting."
Oh great, document sorting. Fun.
If anything, at least we'll be able to talk to each other while sifting through these things.

The door creaks open and I'm greeted by the scent of dust. Guess nobody's been in here for ages, and with good cause.
The room is simultaneously cluttered and barren. You can see where he took his most important possessions, and what was garbage he just left lying around. Barren desks where he had probably once done some of his most important work, the black screens where he used to watch over the facility... to many of us, he was a god, having been the one to make us clones possible in the first place. And when he left, that was a sign for most of us to follow. As far as I'm concerned, this site's nothing without it's gods - just some kind of empty hell intent on driving me insane.
Doctor Troveheart took most of his stuff with him when he left. I'm sure many of the gals who had crushes on him wept when he left... not that I can name any.

Now we've just got all these un-labelled boxes to sort through. Stuff like this is exactly why I'm prepared to spend the whole damn day looking through this kind of crap, but if there's something at the end of it, it'll all be worthwhile.
Some of the boxes are already pre-sorted. Guess Diagram was serious when she was talking about having started things already.
The case she was carrying gets set down in the corner, and she picks out a box, picking up the papers inside and quickly flipping through them.
I sit down nearby, grabbing one of the boxes and picking up one of the papers. Quite a few of them have thick black marker lines blotting out important names and dates.
"What's the gadget going to do once you finish it anyway?" I ask, putting the sheets in a separate pile.
Diagram talks as she sifts through the documentation, her pile rapidly growing larger than mine. However, sometimes she stops on a page, picks it out and sets it on a different pile. "Well, when I said it wouldn't be compatible with your Parasignia, it's because of a few things. Your Parasignia, Ignition Complex... well, that needs you to recognise something as a weapon or a tool, right?"
I nod. Can't exactly pick up anything with it, since the whole point of it's meant to amplify my combat ability, not to be a glorified bag.
"The gadget I'm making isn't either, but it should interact with your Parasignia indirectly. It should act like a battery of sorts, but how exactly, is something we're going to have to figure out when we get testing."
That just gives me even more questions on what the gadget she's making even is!

There's... so many boxes.
We're going to be here for a while.
No. 1003158 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162341823880.png - (281.25KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch053.png )

It's been an hour, and there are still more boxes.
The process is tedious. If this was my first year around, I think I would be freaking out right now, but the training's really kicking in. You know, we once had a drill where we had to stake out a location (A single box with a pop-up target on the other end) for multiple hours on end? It was an endurance test of sorts. Did okay at it, but out of the people you know, Nickel topped that chart. She managed to keep hold of one location for an entire day!
"Why's there so many boxes in the Doctor's office anyway? He did take most of the stuff worth taking, didn't he?"
She doesn't reply, sifting through the papers at an almost mechanical rate.
"...Diagram? You there?"
She jolts upright, blinking.
"Oh! Oh, sorry Argine, I was... deep in thought."
She looks a little tired when she says that.
Wait. There's something like a photo clipped to the top corner of one of those documents she has on the smaller pile.
I scoot over to have a look, but she quickly picks up the stack, almost recoiling at my movement. She's... she's scared, for some reason.
"Ah- h-hey, Argine, not so close! You're going to stir up all the dust!", she says, scooching away from me.

I sit back down, moving back to my previous position. Something's wrong, but...
"Hey, Diagram? What was on that photo?"
I didn't get a good look at it before she hid it away.
She doesn't sift through her papers, but there's a vaguely haunted look in her eyes.
"...Doctor Troveheart... and my father.

I clench my teeth. She never talks about her past after a certain point.
She had a father? Clones don't have fathers, that's not how it works!
"What happened to him? Did he leave with Troveheart?"
Can't say I've seen many other men around, even back when Troveheart was around. The few you'd see were from the security team, and they were just as cagey about things as Diagram seems.
She doesn't respond, that haunted look in her eyes deepening.
I shouldn't have asked that. The silence is deafening.
I should do something, but what?

...Ugh. I'm not good at talking to people. And Diagram, she's pretty different to most of the tough nuts I know. She's what... a dreamer? I feel like I should say something to console her.
I don't like how you lot talk down to me, you know. I'm focused on my goals, I don't stop just because of a few setbacks. I've tried to escape this place dozens of times before you were put in me. But... I do care about Diagram. I'm... I'm going to ask for some help. What should I talk to her about? I can't fight things that I can't punch, and whatever's going on behind those big eyes of hers, I've got no clue.
No. 1003160 ID: 094652

You're supposed to hug her.
No. 1003173 ID: 1f53e8

Thank her for all her help throughout the years. For all her help with making the SAI manageable to live with. For all the help she is still giving you.
And tell her if she has something she needs to share about the doctor and her father, she can share it with you. She's your friend and you care for her well-being...

...And also, say we love her too because she's our MOMMY!!!! 😍
No. 1003176 ID: 96c896

The easiest way to understand her would be to ask her to turn off her suppressor.
No. 1003177 ID: 031458

Diagram. Hurts right now. She hurts a lot. Emotionally.
...She also just admitted something: She has a father.
That would mean she's not a clone, but rather that she is of natural birth.

This could be a few things, but she's probably missing her father right now.
It's likely you haven't experienced that emotion yet so we'll explain. It's... a deep, painful longing for someone that you care for very much. It only happens when you haven't seen or heard from them in a long time. If they are dead or in some other way unreachable, the pain is exacerbated by hopelessness.

The treatment is reminiscence.
Ask diagram what her father is like.
Follow up with broad questions based on her reply.
Be patient and try not to assume too much with your wording.
Keep her talking at least until the mood lifts, but optimally until you are both satisfied with the conversation.
No. 1003185 ID: 9a2966

You could pry, but that might deepen her emotional distress and as she's your friend, so you probably don't want that and she might open up to you in time anyway. So if you want to comfort her...

Remember that thing Judicium tried to do to you?

The 'hug'?

Get up casually, walk behind her, kneel down and kind of just press your front to her back and embrace her from behind - like an unnaturally gentle restrictive-CQC move where you don't actually control your opponent's limbs. Lean your head onto the side of hers, cheek first, for a light press, then pull back a bit and inform her it's fine. Whatever's bothering her, you'll both soon be out of here, and you'll both be free of it. Or freer, at least!


See, the thing is when someone is sad, you can present a positive front to cheer them up, remind them what they're fighting for and what is important to them, and those things generally have a chance of having a positive effect - but not always, and it can be rough if one is really in the pits to come back up just from some verbal encouragement.

So, you can also try to distract them from their negative thoughts, which a hug would do, as I imagine you haven't ever really handed one of those out before.
No. 1003326 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162367367059.png - (355.74KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch054.png )

>She's of natural birth
Oh, there's no way that's possible. I've yet to see a linharjan of her... unique qualities. She's got far too many traits to be a civvie species. Multiple ears, multiple tails - she's just like us. Though, that doesn't explain her psychic powers. None of us know what's up with that.

Part of me wants to ask - 'How did your father die?' I bet you guys want to know too.
>Prying could deepen her emotional distress.
I can't. Diagram's one of the last bloody people I can trust in this place.

>Ask her to turn off her suppressor
If I did that, things would be even more overwhelming. Would you rather have two people staring off into space instead of getting something done?

>Go for a hug
I don't know about this, but you're all pushing for it...
Keep quiet for a moment.

Standing up, I move around behind her slowly.
I wrap my arms around her, and I wince a little. She's light, almost like a branch. Feels like I could snap her in half if I just squeeze tighter, but I don't.
It's like one wrong move and I could crush her ribs. Compared to cradling my guns, she just feels so much more fragile.
Diagram tenses up a bit as I hold her for that moment.
"Ah...? Argine, what're you doing?"

"Giving you a 'hug'. Never did this before so uh, I'm hoping it doesn't hurt or something."
Diagram's sitting still, not struggling or anything.
"...Thank you."
She shakes herself loose from the hug, turning to face me.
"Did-did the SAI put you up to that? That's so unlike you, Argine!"

"Eh. They've been screaming at me to do that for some time. But uh, we could talk about what your dad was like while we're going through these boxes? Better than just sitting her with nothing but the sound of loose paper. We've got all this to sort through, right?"

The search resumes, with her father as the topic of interest.
"You know, Argine... he was the person who wrote those storybooks for me. Drew them all himself, too!"
Seriously, who the hell is her father? I could probably toss out a few guesses, but it's not like I knew the logistical staff of the facility very well. They steered clear of us clones when they could. That makes me wonder who wrote the textbooks we've got when we were cadets.
"Isn't that kind of stuff a little childish for someone like you? You're one of the brainiest people I know, and that kind of stuff seems a little... easy."

Diagram scratches her nose. "Ah, well, I guess unlike a lot of the other girls here, I was born in my teens. I'm not fully matured like the other clones, so I guess... I had something you could call a bit of a childhood too. That's something I'm not sure anyone else here really knows besides me. I just like reading them sometimes because they remind me of him."

Another box done, this one full of logistical data about the guns being produced. I slide the paper in and push the box to the side.
"Must've been lonely, huh? I mean, I can get that. People always saw me as a bit of a disappointment, what with the last clone of this facility being a stunted freak."
I tug on my sleeves a bit. Bloody hell - I still don't like how you all saw my arms before. I keep 'em covered up for a reason.
"Don't... don't say that about yourself Argine. You're not like that to me..."
I laugh a little. "What? I guess having psychic powers is kinda weird too, huh? Most of the people left here are all weird anyway."
Diagram chuckles politely, though I can tell that it's not quite an agreement. Whatever. As long as she's not moping about someone who I don't even know, then that's good. She's not focusing on things that she can't have, anyway.

Time goes by, the boxes going by in a blur as well. I even duck out partway, grabbing us some snacks for lunch in between. I think it's lunch anyway, when you're always indoors, it's hard to tell how much time has gone by anyway. But the sorting process definitely went by faster than I had anticipated. Diagram seems reluctant to part with more info about her dad, so things move on naturally.
There's a lot of reminiscence. I've been around for three years, but those three years were packed. I don't think I've ever really had these kinds of long moments to just... talk to Diagram. And what we said before, that I may find it hard to find her? Maybe this will be one of the last times we'll see each other for a long while... if ever.

That's a bit of a scary thought. I mean, even if I'm strong, the idea of never just seems pretty crazy, with how long it is. Even stuck in this hole for three years, I've seen a lot, met a lot.
>Scared, are you?
Don't look at me like that! I'm strong, I'm going to fight for my freedom. But I'm rational! I can acknowledge where I'm a bit lacking, because how am I going to obliterate my opponents if I have my weaknesses lying around?
Even without Diagram... I'll make it. Even without you, I'll make it. Out there in the big universe, I'm going to be known.

Diagram breaks my line of thought, with a little whoop. "Ah! Found it, finally! I've got enough data for me to work with in calibration!"
She holds up the stack in triumph. It's what, like fifty sheets out of several hundred, if not thousands? Bloody hell. Who's to say that Doctor Troveheart didn't leave because of his messy organizational structure?
"So, what now?"

Diagram grins.
"We're going to conduct some hands-on testing!"
No. 1003327 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162367369736.png - (200.18KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch055.png )

The firing range. I wonder if I can still smell the explosion from last time?
Diagram's got no hesitation for setting herself up, opening up that case at the entrance while I stand around looking over her shoulder.
There's a surprising amount of things crammed inside of it, with a box of... something inside? It's pretty slick-looking, actually. There's a few knobs on that little... containment chamber thing that she's got set up in that case.
"Ah, Argine, it'll just take me a bit to get everything set up, then we can get testing!"
The papers she'd gathered is to her side, and she's cross-referencing it while turning knobs on the containment box.

I guess I can wait a bit longer, if it's for a new gadget's sake anyway.

This kind of thing is exactly why I feel like she's working at some kind of level of knowledge that I can't even begin to understand. Technology I can get, but Parasignias? That's the kind of thing I don't. It's not as easy to understand when it's something you can't really get your hands on, take apart and reassemble.
No. 1003328 ID: d97e57

Don't look at us, we're not experts in magic or psionics or whatnot.

Ask Diagram if you can poke this stuff. Try... concentrating on the deck of cards.
No. 1003333 ID: 3da114

If you want to assess the firing range and the items Diagram brought, you might as well.

Aldo, don't feel bad about your arms. The only people crass enough to make comments about them are Astrolysis and Amica, and the former is blind and can't see them and the latter is a purple robot.
No. 1003342 ID: 96c896

Huh? None of us said anything about you being scared.
What is this, an SCP?
Take a look at the papers she's using as reference material. Should give you an idea of what this is. Also, ask what it is.
No. 1003791 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162427336021.png - (577.25KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch056.png )

>None of us said anything about you being scared
Eh? Guess you guys can't hear everything, then. I think I described it before, but it's like there's a sea of voices, but a few of them bubble up to the top. If you guys were on different ends of that sea, I s'pose then you wouldn't hear it. But I think that's really rare, anyway. With you lot arguing over each other sometimes, it would almost be more understandable if you couldn't actually hear each other.

"Anyway, Argine, can you please hold still for a moment?"
Diagram stands up from her notes, hooking up little wires with pads on the end that stick to my clothes.

"So what's this for, Diagram?"

"Collecting data. This gadget's meant to interface with your own unique capabilities, so we'll have to get a lot of things done before then. I hope you're ready for a lot of physical exercise!"

She wasn't kidding.
For the next few hours, she put me through regimens that would make Ozone envious. The whole time, as Diagram takes notes, she adjusts the knobs on the containment chamber, even giving it a prod on occasion.
I think if there's one thing that Diagram did that my other instructors never have, it's taxing you spiritually.

You think using a Parasignia's easy? Imagine having to do it on command for hours on end, popping your guns in and out of existence, putting them together, unpacking them, slotting them into each other and recombining them again and again and again! I don't even get the satisfaction of shooting them, since it's not needed!
When we're just starting out, we have to do this to a lesser extent to get used to the unique effects of each and every Parasignia. But like this? I swear, that girl has some kind of sadistic streak. Maybe that's why she's so fond of weapons engineering.

The experiments go on till late. Even though I'm physically still capable of running a few laps, my... uh, soul, feels exhausted by all of this.
I'm dripping wet from sweat, my head hurts and the dinner we picked up an hour ago isn't sitting right in my stomach.
"Bloody hell, Diagram. I thought today was going to just be boxes and magic, not a damn physical and mental fitness evaluation!"
She laughs, all polite-like with her hand in front of her snout.
"Hee hee. Well, sometimes you've got to be practical with things, right? But anyway, it's all done now, Argine! Here it is, the gadget we've worked hard all day to complete! The Deck of the Storyteller."

She presents me with the faintly-glowing cards, thick compared to the playing cards that you'd use over the lunch table.
There's a small sleeve holster for all of them, I can probably hook it onto my waist with no problem.
...Whoa. The cards are floating? There's the faint scent of stone on the cards, for some reason.
"Why's it called the Deck of the Storyteller anyway?", I ask. "The cards don't really tell much of a story."

Diagram looks over at the notes that remain to the side.
"It was because of the bullet, Argine."
She sits cross-legged, picking up the papers.
"That bullet... it was imbued with a little bit of power from someone else's Parasignia. I have no idea who, or when, or even how it happened. But it was made, and somehow, Judicium got her hands on it. But, it belonged to someone who wrote stories. That's honestly why."
Okaaaaay. Not exactly sure how you draw that kind of conclusion from analyzing a magic bullet, but this kind of thing with Parasignias is exactly why she's the genius working on this kind of thing and not me.

"So, did you figure out what it was originally meant to do?"
Diagram shakes her head, a deep frown crossing it.
"Not... quite. The bullet had a strange amount of effects on it, and when I broke it down - it split the effects. It makes little sense to me - that's like if you let some berry juice settle, and suddenly all of the blended fruit reforms into solid chunks! Part of why I turned it into... this, was because it was a way for me to 'box up' all of the effects without having to turn them all into fully fledged gadgets which I wouldn't even be able to properly test, because of... well, I'll explain in a bit."
She exhales, a look of exhaustion crossing her face. I guess even if I'm on the end of the testing, she's still having to do calibrations, huh? Must've taken a lot out of her too.

"So part of why the bullet's 'magic' was turned into cards was... it felt resonant with whoever the original Parasignia belonged to."
She notices my visible confusion.
"Maybe I'll have to explain what 'Pseudosignias' are to you a later day, Argine. But think of the deck as a temporary connection to someone you don't even know. You then get to borrow some of that individual's powers, filtered through your own Parasginia."
Oh, now that's much more understandable.
"At first, I was going to write out how this works, but thankfully, we've got an easier option."
She deactivates her suppressor, placing a hand onto my shoulder.
Immediately, the words come flooding into my mind.

It's simple, Argine! Ever played a cardgame or two? Well, here's the run down.

The way the Deck of the Storyteller works, is that you've got a total of twenty cards. Each of the cards has an effect depending on what kind of card it is. There are six in total, but when you draw and use the card, it'll expend itself and disappear.

Wait, disappear? Can't I just make another copy of it or something?
...Don't look at me like that, you already know everything to do with this!

I'm sorry Argine, but unless we have another source of magic on this facility, we're not going to be able to reconstitute these cards. So treat them like one-time use gadgets - they're not going to be replenish-able, as long as you're in this facility.

The effects are as follows -
Solburst - Upon use, a heatwave will emerge centered on yourself, staggering enemies and vaporizing ballistic projectiles coming towards you, as well as disrupting other types of projectiles.

Frozeneye - Upon use, this card slows your perception down, allowing for you to better exploit weakpoints or avoiding specific kinds of attacks. This'll be great for precision, whether offensive or defensive!

Breezecycle - Ever get caught out without the right gadget, Argine? No? Well, I feel like it'll happen at some point in the future. This one can help you out. I'm actually a little proud that I got this to work, because it's tied to your actual Parasignia. When you spend your limited-use gadgets like the Explosive Discs, or if you've equipped a gadget you feel isn't suitable for the current situation, spending this card lets you instantly refill the gadget's uses for Gambits, or immediately switches out one of your four equipped gadgets to something else. You can also swap the passive-slot gadgets you have equipped, effectively letting you re-select an entire gadget slot!

Briarspirit - This one's a protective effect. A little simple, but always having a shield on hand's useful, right Argine? It can also revitalize you a bit, restoring a little of your health, but I'll say that recovery effects from Parasignias are generally rare, according to the notes that Doctor Troveheart assembled, and my own findings. So using it as a pick-me-up instead of a shield is going to be less effective.

Voidsplit - This one's a bit different to the rest as well. It operates under similar principles to the Frozeneye card, but instead of slowing down your perception, it enhances your body's ability to respond to your actions. In effect, it allows you to take three actions in one go. It's quite useful! But keep in mind, just like the rest of the cards, you only get three uses of it.

Echoscribe - The last card. Unlike the other five, (of which you only have three copies of each) you've got five of these ones! This one's pretty straightforward. It simply copies one of the gadgets that you've seen before, and activates it's effect! Though, this is a flimsy copy so it disappears after you use it, and you can't put any gadgets into it. You're basically using the gadget as if you were a normal person using it - but the upside is, you can use this to copy any gadget you've seen, even the ones you don't own! Well, any that you've seen recently. I know you've seen a lot of gadgets, Argine, but your Parasignia's got it's own memory too. Go too long without storing a gadget or interacting with it, and it forgets as well.

So in summary - these are useful one-time gadgets that can help you capitalize off of opportunities, or help you get into better situations. With the exception of the Echoscribe card, the white one, there are three copies of each card. I hope they'll be of help to you in future, Argine!

Diagram lifts her hand, flicking the suppressor back on. She's polite enough to keep it off when necessary, for my sake. But throughout that whole explanation, I could feel her excitement.
I hook the card holster onto my pants, the weight of the... 'magic' cards giving me a strange sense of reassurance.
"Thanks, Diagram. I don't know what I'd do without you sometimes."
She yawns, blinking slowly.
"Y-yeah... I'm glad, Argine. Anyway... I'm feeling pretty tired. Do you want to turn in for the night?"

I nod. "I think we're done here, Diagram. I'm... gonna go get some rest for tomorrow. "
I stand up, almost shakily, as I make my way out of the firing range.
Man, I'm beat. I'm going to head to bed, but tomorrow's going to keep me running around as usual.
Was there anything else I should try to keep in mind? Dunno if I missed anything today, but I'll have to pick it up tomorrow.
No. 1003824 ID: 96c896

>the bullet was from someone who wrote stories
Stories have endings... still thinking the bullet was meant to kill someone who normally can't be killed. Maybe it was a last resort against Amica in case she went rogue. On the other hand, if it was something that important why wasn't it locked up or hidden better?

Looking back at that note... what's the PCC? What's the world between worlds? It sounds like the author of that note was Dr Troveheart.
No. 1003833 ID: 9d29cf

Yes, your furless arms make your biceps stand out all the better when you flex!

Oh, and tell everyone about Judicium and Troveheart holding information back about what's truly happening in the facility.
Distrust breeds unrest.
Unrest breeds distraction.
Distraction breeds escape routes from the facility.
No. 1003890 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162436339936.png - (332.45KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch057.png )

>Spread the chaos. CHAOS!
Oh sure, yeah, let's go start a rebellion in the facility that has currently less than fourty people in it at most, most of whom couldn't care less about what I have to say. Sure.

>That bullet was probably for killing someone unkillable, like Amica.
Well, ain't that a thought! Considering that Amica's all buddy buddy with Judicium, no wonder that bloody thing went unused.
>Why wasn't it hidden better if it was so important?
Beats me. I ain't going to ask Judicium about that though, lest it become even more apparent what I did.

Anyways. See you next time, yeah? I don't know how exactly this whole SAI vanishing thing works, but at least I'll get a break from you lot. Ha ha!


"...So that's how I ended up beating Judicium in the end."
Diagram looks a little surprised at the amount of violence I'm describing. Maybe next time she could sit in, were it not for the amount of lead flying around in the upcoming fights.
Hm? Oh, you guys are here. Nothing much happened since last night. Went to bed, now having breakfast. Diagram came along too.

"Oh, the SAI are here again, Diagram. Guess something caused them to perk up again, monitoring me, those lil' bastards. Guess I gotta get going."
Diagram nods - time's precious around here, after all. Only one day to go before the next fight.
"Hey, Argine? Could you come by my lab at some point? There's something else I want to give you then."

I laugh. "I hope it's not more work!"
She shakes her head, and I can almost feel a peep of her embarrassment.
"No, no! It's to thank you for helping out with... everything last night."
Aw, how sweet. Honestly, I wonder how a soft girl like her came out of this place, if anything. I wonder what was up with her dad? I've never heard of Diagram having one before anyway.
"Sure, I'll swing by tonight. Got other stuff to do first."
I don't stand up, though. Talking with you guys more actively, planning... that takes a bit of focus.
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see Diagram notice me zone out as I'm focused on talking to you lot.

And politely, she leaves.
No. 1003891 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162436352563.png - (159.80KB , 1000x1000 , Daytwomapoptions.png )

Right then.
Today, we're meant to be gathering info on Nickel and her sector. We don't have the time to go off and make friends with Amica or to have that long walk with Nanoweaver - but we can still ask the two of them.

Here's the brief - I'd like to briefly remind you lot of my methods from before, the four I's - Investigation, Interrogation, Impression and Innovation.
This is more like you folks deciding what my time's best spent on. You guys don't necessarily know where everything's at, so that's up for me to sort out. But you're welcome to give me any ideas or suggestions that I didn't come up with.
You're tactical advisors, right? Surely you've got some kind of complex algorithm that means that what you guys spit out is gonna give me better odds.

But anyway, if we're going to Investigate Nickel, she's got a few places where I think I can get some info on her.
I can watch footage of her previous combat logs to glean more information about how she fights. I've seen some of them before, but not in great detail.
There's also me reading up about the Power Grid and Covert Ops division itself. Stuff like floorplans or other information I could try and exploit during the actual fight. I don't think they'll like me sneaking around in the actual place before the fight for recon. Not sure if that was in the rules or not, but there wouldn't be this huge setup if they could just let me waltz right on in there, right?

We could go and Interrogate some folks. While Ozone and Mnemosyne probably don't have much to say (nor do they want to talk to me prior to their fights), Judicium is a trainer. She's been around long before that, and she was wanting to have me do some tasks for her anyway.
...And there's Astrolysis. I could go ask her as well, given how close the two of them are.
If I wanted more bruises.

Given that there's not that many people I can turn to, Impression's not super impressive in terms of options. Diagram hasn't had much interaction with Nickel, and I'm sure she would have told me what she knew over breakfast.
There's Judicium, so she's certainly someone I can go and see like I mentioned before... though I'm not sure I'm willing to fully trust her info.
Oh! Wait, I can go and see Nanoweaver. While she's not an option that's as likely to directly benefit me, she could potentially tell me things about Nickel's personal health and behaviours, given that she is a doctor.
...Ah, hell. And there's also Amica. Nickel and Astrolysis know about her too. But... I'd rather not go and make more deals with her this early on. Impression's a give and take. It's never free.

Innovation's an option as well - my gear isn't exactly suited for long-range encounters, especially since my only two guns currently are both suited for close to medium-range engagements. But you'll have to come up with some ideas on that if you're going to pursue that option, because I'm turning up a little blank for ideas on that.
I will say that, even though Nickel's a long range specialist, the fact that we are still indoors means that we won't be engaging her in the worst possible conditions.

Regardless of what we do, there's only so many times in the day. There was something complicated that Nanoweaver said once - 'Time isn't fungusable'? Fungus? Fungible? No clue on that one. But basically she said it meant that things that we plan for aren't necessarily always going to take the amount of time we planned out, especially for any of your suggestions.
I've probably got the time for around two to four tasks today, since I really don't want to lose track of things. Depending on how things turn out, some tasks may end up eating more time than I expect. We'll have to adjust as we go. Can't forget to go pick up that thing from Diagram tonight, too.

With that all thought out... what do you recommend?
No. 1003903 ID: 094652

Okay, cards on the table: it's possible she wants to marry you. I mean, what do I know about romance when I'm just a snippet of programming inside your head, but you do your own research on the subject.

Honestly? Treat this like you would a regular assassination; head out with Investigation to diagnose the problem, then Innovate a solution. Talk to as few people as possible so they don't spread the word.
No. 1003912 ID: a4f4d6

Nickel is gonna "cheat", as in, nothing will be fair. She probably won't reveal herself before shooting you, and her entire area is bound to be booby trapped with simple traps you can't use with your parasignia. Think 13 tripwires at the front door booby trapped. It'll be excessive.
This will be a battle of INFORMATION. Whoever manages to best control the flow of it wins.
You'll need to change your entire fighting style and approach.
Investigate and Innovate.

You'll want to get a feel for the general layout out of the area, or at least get us a map so we can direct you.
You'll also want to find or make an alternate entrance, or sneak in early and hide somewhere until it's time. Not only your location, but your presence itself is a piece of information that Nickel can exploit.

As for Innovate... Go steal yourself a security camera, maybe from the abandoned sector. You'll need a projector too, a place like this should have several, but I imagine they'd be in the admin sections. You may need help on that one from Diagram or Amica.
Combined with your barrier, those make active camouflage. You could take down Nickel in melee.

Alternatively, impress Judicum for armor (No clue on what she'll demand) And Astrolysis for more explosives or a flamethrower. (Of course, she'll wanna fight or torment you in some way).
Then you could just go in and burn the whole sector down until Nickel had no where left to run or hide.

If you're feeling particularly insane, I suppose you could also go get a chunk of Amica, either through violence or agreement. If you eat it or pass it into an open wound, we could probably integrate the nanites into our matrix, and grant you additional capabilities.
Side effects may apply, of course.
No. 1003915 ID: fa3fbc


One word is the bane of snipers: Artillery.

You might not have a long range weapon - but you do have the next best thing in a splash weapon that can be lobbed in big wide arcs to strike a larger area. Your Pitch Prefect. And with a little modification you could make it even more so. Maybe add in an airburst feature, so you can ensure a wider spread.

Pitch is sticky and slowing, and your opponent is quick, small and likes to camouflage - getting struck with the pitch would slow them down, stand a chance of ruining their camo and be hard to get rid off without struggling. Giving you a chance to close the distance and catch up.
No. 1003924 ID: 905bc6

Ask Nickel how to beat her. Easy-peasy!

...No? Okay, new plan:

We could go ask Judicium and Asymptomatic about her.
We should also research the dueling grounds and innovate our gear to resist high caliber bullets and booby traps.
No. 1004015 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162452122520.png - (228.94KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch058.png )

>Find Nickel and just ask her!
...Honestly, if I knew where she was right now, I'd actually consider it. The little weirdo has her own philosophy when it comes to these kind of things, though hell if I know anything about it.

>Impress Astrolysis for a flamethrower!
I guess the foundry *would* have that kind of thing... a year ago. With Astrolysis in charge and most of the facility gone, I'm not actually sure where.
Ozone's probably got most of the heavy weaponry given how much she seems to overcompensate for her height, so unless you lot have an excellent idea for how to negotiate with her, we're dead in the water in regards to that.

>Alternative Entrances
I probably wouldn't be able to make any, but finding some would be an option.I'd need the floor map for the area if I'm to plan it ahead - but, given that the SAI itself has a scanning feature, we can go without - just that, I doubt that the SAI scan has every detail on it in comparison. I'll say that hiding out in the sector itself isn't much of a plan for any of the sector bosses, since I'm expected to actually show up on time. Backstabbing them when they're not looking isn't exactly part of the whole tournament structure. We're here to prove that we're good fighters, not turning it into a game of preemptive assassination!

>If you're feeling insane, eat Amica.
What? No! Why would you even suggest that?

Innovation's what seems to be the best for now, so that's what I'm going to go for right now.


My room's always got a few materials lying around in a box near my bed, but I've gone and grabbed some stuff I think we may need. This'll be pretty straightforward.

>Pitch is sticky and slowing, and your opponent is quick, small and likes to camouflage - getting struck with the pitch would slow them down, stand a chance of ruining their camo and be hard to get rid off without struggling. Giving you a chance to close the distance and catch up.

Great suggestion. Now I'm more glad that I took it with me when I was given the choice.
Improving the little capsules to airburst took a bit of engineering on my end, since they're not exactly missiles. Of course, with a small remote-controlled explosive that's not going to blow the damn thing to pieces, we can simulate the effect properly and get the remote-detonation effect as desired. It's not enough to be an actual explosive weapon, mind you - it's more like a firecracker. Primarily for spreading, not for destruction.

>Try putting a camera and a projector together with your barrier for active camouflage!
Hey, I would if I could. The thing is, there's actually already a camo or projection-based gadget out there. Problem is, it's probably walled behind Nickel.
Think of it as the difference between some piece of garbage you jury-rigged in your pare time, versus something that's been put through multiple iterations, actually cast in a proper mold and then assembled into what it is now. That's the kind of stuff my Parasignia can take in more reliably, anyway. At least, if we want better results that's less likely to fall apart because of the strain of being jammed together with something it wasn't initially designed for.
In the field of combat, reliability trumps a lot of other options.

Adding some more armor to myself isn't a big deal, though when I'm making this kind of stuff, it's usually only good for one specific area. Can't exactly block the same stuff with one type of armour plating that another can, right? At least in terms of prioritization. I'll always have my baseline protection under my usual outfit, but I could still use a bit more. If we go see Judicium later, we could try and get our hands on a better set that'll improve my defenses further.

Gained Innovation boost - the first failed trap check of the fight will not inflict any damage on Argine.
Gained Innovation boost - the Pitch Prefect now has airburst projectiles. It can be detonated mid-flight to spread pitch across a larger area, though when detonated, it is less concentrated.

I think that's all I can really do for now when it comes to Innovation. I've still got to either Investigate or Interrogate someone about Nickel. There's around two or three more I can do today, since it's around noon.
The question is, where specifically do I go?

I can go Investigate places for a floor plan of the facility,
Investigate how Nickel's fighting style works,
Leave a good Impression for Judicium for more armour, information and who knows what,
or go and Interrogate Amica and Nanoweaver for other kinds of info on Nickel.

And if there's something on your mind that's not on this list, go and shout it out, 'else I won't hear ya.
No. 1004016 ID: 094652

Investigate the Project Lead's Office and Old Sectors. Remember, they're understaffed so security isn't what it used to be.
No. 1004094 ID: 9d29cf

Let us innterrogate Judicium and Nanoweaver, as well as investigate the covert ops section.
We need to learn the playing field.
No. 1004098 ID: cdabe3

Find a floor plan
No. 1004252 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162471005854.png - (41.17KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch059.png )

>Investigate the Project Lead's Office and the Old Sectors
I probably wasn't clear enough, but when I said Investigate, I meant for the map specifically and not anywhere in the facility. Don't exactly have the free time for that.

>Go to the actual Covert Ops division to investigate!
If I go in there early and they catch me, it may as well be taken as me moving the schedule up. I get wanting to procure info from the sources directly, but

>Find a floorplan
On it.


It takes me a bit of searching, but I find the floormap for the Covert Ops Sector tucked away in one of the filing cabinets of the Security sector. It's not so much that they haven't been sorted, but finding the right cabinet was a bit frustrating. Ever since people started going off-site and through the Nexus, they've been taking and moving some of the files over to who-knows-where, so the systems are worse off than before. Most of us are soldiers and not desk jockeys anyway.

Problem is with this map, it doesn't show the intricate details of how each of the rooms are laid out, it's more of a construction guide for how the area should be built.
Much like the training grounds though, we're not going to be fighting in the entire covert ops division, that would be inefficient. In the end, even if Nickel is specialized for long range engagements, you can't really have a tournament if the contestants are stalling for time, unwilling to expose themselves to fire. How are you meant to keep the other clones engaged like that anyway?

With the floorplans in hand though, I think I can imagine the situation a bit better now.
Due to Nickel's preferred range and weaponry - it'll probably end up a bit as a chase. Me pushing her into a corner she can't escape from, then delivering a finishing blow. She's small and evasive, but that means she can't really take a hit like the tougher folk out there, such as Astrolysis or Judicium. I'll have to most likely push her through the three main areas of the areas we trained in, cornering her at the very end to finally bring her down.

I'm familiar with Area 1, personally. It's sort of an open, modular area where they set up obstacles to simulate an urban environment. I've never seen a city or a 'house' before, but they made sure to prepare us for a variety of combat situations at the time. I always found it a little frustrating though. There was always so many pointless little objects in a 'house' that they put in for accuracy, and it would make things much harder since you couldn't expect things to be consistent, like in the nature-themed setups. There's most likely several ways I can fight through this area in order to deal with Nickel, but she'd likely beat a hasty retreat once I get close enough.

Area 2 is the nature setup. I don't know how Nickel's arranged things in there, or how she would drag some of those trees along. They're bloody heavy! Even my sister had trouble moving a lot of these around back in the day. Maybe she got Astrolysis to do it. But anyway, this was what I was talking about before, with the grass. It's kinda nice actually, but I could possible make use of the natural setting by putting everything up to flame. They don't normally let gadgets like mine into the covert section for obvious reasons, so I'm not sure if setting the whole damn room ablaze is the best of ideas, but it's definitely a useful one.

Area 3 is the power grid itself. Or one of them, anyway.
I guess for one reason or another, they doubled up on this area and had it also serve as a way of powering the rest of the facility. This is where I'll most likely be able to corner Nickel to deliver the finishing blow at. But even with these floor plans, it's not like I instantly know where Nickel's going to be hiding her traps, so this is something I really need to

Now that I've got the floorplans, that's another step out of the way.
...And now for the less pleasant part.
No. 1004253 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162471014584.png - (300.76KB , 1000x1000 , judiroomimpression.png )

Getting up from the lunch table today felt a bit hard, even though it was a good amount of time past lunchtime in the first place. I don't exactly want to see her again, but... I have to.
So I make the little trip over to the Security Sector again.
Entering Judicium's office again is like having me voluntarily march into a little hell of mine. It feels weird, doing this so I can get some favour in return from Judicium herself.

She looks up from a bunch of papers she had in her hand as I entered the room. The air feels different, with the lights on, and with my guns safely stored inside of my Parasignia. I take a sniff. There's some kinda flowery scent in the air, floating around in the air. Reminds me of the garden and hydroponics.

"Argine! I'm glad to see you. I'm sure you must have some kind of business to pay me a visit, correct?"
I nod.
"I want you to hook me up with some armour for the upcoming fight."

She chuckles, like I'm some kind of child saying something silly. "Oh, Argine! What will the other Sector Bosses think, me giving you something that would give you more advantages in the upcoming fight?"
"Don't patronize me."
She shrugs those broad shoulders of hers.
"Just trying to lighten the mood. But I do have a small task for you, that's correct. If you help me out, I'll be able to get you equipped... and more."
And more? What's the point of sweetening the deal when you hold the cards?
"I want you to fix this machine of mine. It's been broken for some time, and I can't seem to get it working again."

I move around to the back of the table, examining the strange blue machine. I saw it last time I was here, but in this light, it seems different to most of the tools I've seen around the site. What's with the plastic shell?
"What's it meant to do? If there's no manual, gonna have to figure it out myself."
Judicium thinks to herself a moment, a hand running through her tufted head-fur.
"In effect, the needle on it is meant to go up and down rapidly when I depress one of the buttons. A thread can be placed through the needle hole. Is that enough information for you?"

I nod. That's far simpler than how some of the gadgets work, being just a mechanical process. Learning how to fix the Barrier Generator was a headache when they had first given it to us.
Fixing this machine without an operating manual is a little different to usual. One helluva elaborate torture device for her to just have on her table. Imagine jamming some unfortunate schmuck's finger under that thing. Being jabbed by a tiny needle over and over... I'm glad she never had to use this on me, that's for sure.

In the corner of my eye, she's watching me go about it with a small smile on her face. If only she'd just keep to herself and look at those documents instead.
I know that... reconnecting with others is a thing. But I don't know how to feel about all of this, about Judicium suddenly being so... friendly. She's been my instructor for a long time, and a job like that doesn't offer much warmth. I've heard that, apparently in some armies, we're meant to hate the instructors, the drill sergeants, so that all of the soldiers have a shared goal of hating the same person.

So if she's being kind to me all of a sudden, just because of one fight, am I wrong for not wanting to dive in head first, treat her like some kind of parental figure? Breaking bones is of course, part of life around here. We're not civilians, that's for sure. But it's hard to get over the fact that she can bend my arm around my back and break it like I'm made out of twigs, when there's no guns or armour between us.
No. 1004258 ID: 18ca2c

That's a Sewing machine.
It's used to quickly bind textiles, usually to make or repair clothing.

Besides the needle, there's a rotating hook in the bottom of the device that pulls the needle's thread around a locking thread that's being fed from a bobbin the hook is mounted on.
No. 1004265 ID: 6519cb

At its basic level, the sewing machine binds two (or more) layers of fabric together between two threads, which are intertwined at each of the holes the needle pokes through the fabric.

Since Judi described it as working at the press of a button, it means it's a powered sewing machine rather than a hand-cranked one, which adds the power source as one of the possible points of failure.
No. 1004267 ID: 96c896

It's not a torture device. We know exactly what it is, but I don't think we should tell you directly, Judicium is enjoying watching you figure it out. What do you think the thread is for?

It's okay to take it slow, reconnecting with Judicium. Like you said, she was your instructor, and for a long time you felt betrayed. Regaining trust takes time. You do remember what she was like before she started being strict with you, though? I think she's being nicer to you now because her role in your upbringing is done. She feels confident that she instilled enough discipline in you that she doesn't need to be so strict anymore. By defeating her, you passed her final exam, so to speak.
No. 1004279 ID: 96c896

Oh, ask her why everyone else is scared of Amica but she isn't.
No. 1004287 ID: 86aaf2

Well, seeing as how we already told you... I would suggest you make a bit of a show of it. Note how the thread moves, note how it isn't spaced to put skin under the aperture easily, how it's designed to help hold a relatively flat object stable but so it can be moved precisely... it's designed to use thread on *textiles*, not people, etc. etc.
No. 1004301 ID: 9d29cf

Yeah, what's with the mirthful condescendence and the sweetening the deal? Is this Amica in disguise?
Touch her face to see if it's plastic!
No. 1004382 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162488195821.png - (449.30KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch061.png )

>Touch her face and see if she's plastic
Ehh.... I'd rather not Judicium get any funny ideas about what I'm doing. Besides, if Amica could shapeshift into other people, I'd imagine she'd still be purple or something.
But on that note.

"Judicium... why is everyone afraid of Amica except you?", I ask. "I mean, these are toughened soldiers, not civvies."
I'll admit that I'm just as curious as you are to how that weirdo became relevant in this place.
She replies as I disassemble the machine as I'm looking into its mechanisms.
"Afraid is a bit of a strong word. They don't like her, but it's completely understandable. After all, she was able to beat every single one of them in combat."
I stop. "What? They're Sector Bosses. You're telling me she already beat the lot of them, when I'm already trying to do the same?"
She nods. Talk about crazy.

"What was going on? If someone started duking it out, people would know."
"Not if it was a controlled experiment meant to test her capabilities."
There's a grim sort of expression on her face. So... she's an experiment? Kinda like me, huh.

"What about my sister? Couldn't you have called her in for that?" Even I find it hard to believe that anyone could take Jin down.
"She was away at the time. Do you remember when she had to step out, to take care of things off-site?"
I do. Jin left for two whole months, going off and gallivanting across the Weave, doing who-knows-what. She told me of her exploits when she came back, and bloody hell, it just made me mad, how she flaunted her freedom right in front of me...
"As such... I was the person who had to step in and restrain Amica. After that incident, we decided not to push her any further, and the others were more than ready to agree with that."

An image of Judicium battling Amica comes to mind. Fah. What's the sick irony of Judicium of all people being the person who restrained such a monster, when her ass was the first to get kicked?
"How did you succeed? Not to rub it in, but I won against you just the other day."
Judicium sighs, her breath frosty. Did she just activate her Parasignia to make a point?
"My Parasignia just happened to be the best solution for someone of Amica's... constitution. That, as well as my defensive specialty helped me hold out when neutralizing her. Eventually, the cold drained her energy and I was able to put restraints onto her."
What kind of restraints would hold a SAI-thing like her anyway?

"Why'd you end up wearing her as a fashion accessory, of all things?"
I grab a nearby cloth, oiling up a sprocket before putting it back into the device.
"Amica... well, she took a liking to me after that incident. This all happened a year ago. And, at the advice of someone else, I put her around me, so she could watch and learn from the other people in the facility."
A year ago? Would explain why I haven't heard much on her before. And if she was watching over others from Judicium's perch... well, that would explain her nature as a 'reproductive' SAI. Kinda like firing a gun. If you've got no bullets, it's not going to do anything. Amica probably reproduces other people's fighting styles, which was why I imagine the others lost. Nickel and Astrolysis both... they have their specialties, but if someone could just copy that, wouldn't she be almost unbeatable.
I catch the underlying meaning of it, though. She can't copy Parasignias, now can she? After all, she lost to Judicium, whose Parasignia froze her up. If she had it too, she could do something about it, like shielding herself from the cold. Either that, or she couldn't copy it BECAUSE it was cold.

Not sure that giving the SAI that floored three other people more information to work with is a good idea, though.
"I think I'm still missing the crux of it. Just... what exactly is she again? I mean, I dealt with her before, and she helped me out when I was fighting you, but..."
Judicium makes a bit of a sour face.
"I feel like that's something you should ask her about. She has her reasons, her own story, just like your own desires for..."
She smacks her lips.
Guess someone's a little annoyed about me turning things into a two-versus-one. But to be fair, she was using Amica as armour. Who knows what kind of benefits that purple freak has as body armour?
"Fine enough. Maybe I'll talk to her, if she's not going to eat me."
I slap the casing back onto the machine, and it's all done. I almost expect Judicium to click a stopwatch and read out the time.

She picks it up, turns it over and places it back down, giving me an approving look.
"Good job, Argine. It seems that you're still reaping the benefits of your Device Training."

I grunt.

Judicium leans closer to me for a moment, speaking softly.
"And, Argine. I'll say that, in spite of everything, Amica is trying her best."
"To do what?"
I push the machine away.
"To understand people."
Can't say I'm super interested in trying to understand how she works on my end, but I feel like she's got some kinda agenda of her own that Judi's not aware of.
That's definitely something to chase up with Amica.
I change the subject, since the air feels pretty damn heavy.
"So explain to me what this machine's meant to do then."

>That's a Sewing machine. It's used to quickly bind textiles, usually to make or repair clothing.
Huh. You know, most of the time I've seen people putting clothes back together, it's by hand. Judicium had one of these?
>It's not a torture device.
Yeah, well, I don't think you can fault me too hard on that one. Small contraptions like these hurt like a bitch if you've got fur. Dunno what it's like for Amica, or those guys with skin conditions, but having large amounts of your fur getting clogged up in machinery sounds like an agonizing experience.
"You must be familiar with repairing clothes, correct? This machine is effectively a rapid means of repairing any kinds of textiles, but fixing it for me has more benefits than just that."
She vaguely gestures towards the big closet in the back of her office. I think that was where she kept a bunch of different outfits last time?
"Basically, if you end up beating any of the other four Sector Bosses... I can go and make you some pleasant outfits. Maybe you could go solicit your SAI for suggestions? As potent overseers... I'm sure that they'll make the right choices for their host."
She smiles, though it's like she knows something I don't.
"How's beating the Sector Bosses gonna give me new outfits?"

Judicium laughs. "Why, you may as well steal some of their fashion as a trophy, right? Beside, I was the designer of Nickel and Astrolysis' outfits."
I guess I can't argue with that. Ice queen almost looks proud of her accomplishments. Commemorating my victories with outfits? Well, I guess I'd be interested in seeing what utterly ridiculous outfits you come up with.

With the conversation over, she takes me over to the armoury's lockers, handing me some pieces of high-grade armor. I can basically slide them under my shirt almost immediately, if I adjusted the straps properly for my size. Finally got what I came here for, with not too much effort spent.

Ballistic Armour acquired. The first bullet-based attack that Argine takes in the next Sector Boss fight will be nullified.

Costume Creation has been unlocked.

A paper doll of Argine will be provided in the Discussion Thread once the first chosen Sector Boss has been defeated.

Now the question is, where to next? I don't exactly have a watch on me, but with getting the armor and talking to Judicium, I've probably only got the time for one major stop left if I'm gonna have enough time for everything that remains - seeing Diagram to pick up that thing she was talking about, preparing all of my gear for tomorrow, getting food again and actually resting up.

So, where to? Talk to Nanoweaver and do something for her to get medical information on Nickel, or go talk to Amica and see if she could do something? Though, I'm not sure I like the idea of making more deals with her in general. Even if she's trying to understand people... cutting people open's how scientists like Doc Troveheart started out ages ago, according to some books.
No. 1004423 ID: 96c896

Amica beat all the sector bosses and had to be restrained by Judicium who just happened to be a direct counter to her? That doesn't sound like a controlled experiment at all! That sounds like they went "lol let's fight" but Amica decided she didn't like that very much and tried to fight her way out. Like you're doing now, almost. Hmm. Well, that explains why Judicium is her handler. She's the only one that can beat her in a fight. Except maybe Jin.

>Did she just activate her Parasignia to make a point?
Might've been from remembering the fight. Strong memories can trigger an unconscious response.

>what do?
Alright, talk to Amica. I feel somewhat more reassured by Judicium, but I'm still not sure we can trust Amica. It's possible she decided she had to make friends with Judicium in order to turn her greatest enemy into an ally, out of a sense of self-preservation rather than genuine affection. Manipulation, basically. Also... I think if you hadn't stolen the bullet it would've disappeared at some point after you removed Amica's first seal, assuming it really was meant to be a last resort against Amica. She can move freely now which means she could easily steal things on her own.
No. 1004426 ID: 031458

As hostile as we are to other SAI, Judicum's trust of Amica relieves us of SOME paranoia

Might as well go and see what she has to say, at least.
No. 1004450 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162494279676.png - (419.27KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch062.png )

With that done, I head out of her office. Feh. I still don't know how to feel about all of that. Just what is Amica, exactly?

>Maybe Amica's in the same position as you! She tried to fight her way out.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We don't even know what it was like that day, and I feel like this is one of those topics that everyone's so bloody secretive with. I'm not sure I like the idea of having to face her myself, given that she's a big, massive question mark unlike every other Sector Boss in this place.

I've still got the time for one more major stop today, so I head off to go see Amica, to maybe get information on how Nickel ticks.
Unfortunately, I hear a growling voice behind me.
"Oi. I've got a question for you."

Oh great. Ozone.
I turn around, not even hiding my glower.
"Haven't seen you around of late, sarge. Hiding away from the big bad rebel, are we?"
She looks like she wants to spit on my face.
"Yeah, right. Someone like you? Not worth my time usually. But, you screwed up."
A finger's jabbed towards me, like she's accusing me of a war crime.

"What the hell were you thinking? You let that thing on the loose? That rogue SAI... do you have any idea what you're dealing with?"
Huh. Not too happy about Amica being on the loose, is she?
"Not at all, sarge. I'm just a stupid little girl who can't follow orders, ha ha ha!"
Ozone rubs her temple, the lines in her brow deepening further.
"Look, I don't have the time to deal with your shit. Do you know where Amica went?"
Damn. I was just trying to meet up with her too, but I may as well screw with Ozone while she's trying to pry info out of me. If I just bee-line to her, I feel like that would just have me lead Ozone straight to her.
"Awfully direct, aren't you? And why should I tell you?"
She's a source of info for me. Even if I'm not comfy with how she goes around doing things, ain't no reason to burn bridges yet.
"This isn't just for my sake. We need to keep an eye on her specifically because she could be up to something."
I cross my arms. "Like what? This facility's on a skeleton crew, the majority of the important tech's been moved out too. What's she gonna do?"

The fact that she's still a full head shorter than I am does no favours for her ability to intimidate me.
She scoffs at my remark.
"Can't enjoy your freedom if none of us are alive, you brain-dead idiot. Look, maybe not today, but if you help me out, then there's something in it for you too, got it?"
I smirk, even in spite of the offered reward. Oh, so she's gonna kill all of us? Like that's going to be the easiest thing to do.
"What's there to fear? Surely, my oh-so-competent sister can just take care of Amica if she's a problem, right?"

"You're missing the point. You can't fight what's not around. I'm willing to forgive you for your mistake if you help out with this."

Hah. Bloody hell, I'm just here to try and get information on Nickel, not get into this stupid game of hide and seek. If I can get out without Amica being involved, that's probably for the best. Buuuuut, there's definitely an opportunity here. Can you imagine, Ozone owing me a favour? As much of a hardass she is, apparently she's known for her sense of honor. Once, she made a bet with someone who challenged her to a fight. Ozone won, but beat her opponent so badly she was stuck in the medbay for ages. Apparently she accidentally put too much strength into it or something. And instead of just claiming the bet like usual, she conceded it and made sure to accompany that poor sap in the medbay til she got better. I'm sure that was it's own form of torture, heh.

Either way, that's a route we can go down, telling Ozone about Amica's whereabouts in exchange for a favour. I don't think Amica'll mind us pointing Ozone in the right direction. She'll understand, right? A future favour with Ozone's probably worth a bit more than a favour from Astrolysis or Nickel.
Though, keep in mind that I probably can't just beeline to Amica's hideout either, even if I don't tell Ozone about it. For all I know, Ozone could be tailing me. Or if the Sector Bosses weren't kidding about being able to track me through you guys.
Unless you all insist on going anyway, I could probably shift plans to go and visit Nanoweaver instead, but we could try taking the long way around and talking to Amica like we originally planned.
No. 1004453 ID: 96c896

Hmm... I didn't say it that way. I suspect Amica has infiltrated us, from touching you. Bring us in for diagnostics soon, please.

I think Ozone was implying that Amica would sabotage the facility. Blow it up, maybe? Would that kill everyone?
Look, you don't know the details, we don't either. Why don't you trust Ozone on this. Well, trust but verify. Press her for information on why she thinks Amica is going to kill everyone, and how. Judicium all but said she was trustworthy now, why does Ozone feel differently?
No. 1004456 ID: e51896

Honestly, we need info. Tell Ozone youre getting really tired of everyone keeping secrets from you and always being the last to know stuff. Which is why you're keeping her location a secret unless she spills the beans on some details. Lets use this to our advantage to get secrets from Ozone.
No. 1004457 ID: e51896

To add on, let her know if everyone didnt keep hiding things from you, you probably would of known how dangerous she was and not release her, since everone except you seems to have known her for a long time for some reason...
No. 1004484 ID: 094652

Tell her she acts like she's begging and demanding at the exact same time. She doesn't need you to fix this problem, and you don't want to make an enemy of someone strong enough to tear down this facility with their tongue.
No. 1004493 ID: 031458

Telling Ozone about Amica's location will restrict Amica's movement. Even if she lacks proof of it being us, she'll be forced to assume it was.

I doubt she'll be 'angry', but it WILL chill relations. Right now your relationship with her is a blank slate. You could be friends or allies if you play your cards right.
Betray her now and your relationship will never be more than cordial.

As for Ozone's stance, she's being paranoid. And that's coming from US so you KNOW that's excessive.

Judicum seems to trust Amica, we've briefed you repeatedly on her, and we'll be with you.
You can afford to give her a chance.

Ozone's offer is good in the short term, but working with Amica yourself may prove better for a you after you leave this place.

Reject Ozone.

Eh. Unlikely on our current hardware, Diagnostic wouldn't hurt though, no time at the Present however.
No. 1004519 ID: 9d29cf

Thank for not insulting you so much this time around but Amica may have already put a tracker on you to make sure you don't rat her out.

Then go to Nanoweaver to check up what she can do for you.
No. 1004697 ID: 5bf1bd
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>What if Amica put a tracker on you?
I can't really discount that, but how are we going to even figure that out? I can't just go around being extremely paranoid that she gooped up your systems. I could ask Nanoweaver about that.
...Though, last time we talked about Amica to Nanoweaver, she freaked the hell out. I think I'd rather ask Diagram about this kind of thing given that she uh, activated you lot to begin with. We can do that when we go see what she wanted to give us.

>Tell Ozone that you're sick and tired of being the last to know about things
While that's entirely true, I doubt me whining about it to her's gonna change anything. Always about 'chain of command' this, 'need to know basis' that... people keeping secrets around this part's practically standard for the course when I'm supposed to just be a delinquent soldier of sorts. I ain't getting anything out of her, but I may as well tease the hell out of it while I'm at it.

>Reject Ozone
"Sorry, sarge, ain't seen where she's gone. I've been busy prepping for the upcoming fight, and maybe you should too. Chasing ghosts around like that's not going to be good for your fur, huh?"
Hah. I feel like she doesn't buy it, but it's not like she can force information out of me anyway.
"Bah. Serves me right for even asking you. I'll deal with you later."
She storms off, leaving me alone.

>She's being paranoid.
That she is. Honestly, it weirds me out a bit seeing her like this. Back when she was the drill sergeant for me and the other cadets, she was much more... resolute? It's kind of sad that I can pull at her strings so easily nowadays, but I don't have much pity for her. She never liked me, and I never liked her. Strong sense of justice, sure, but I never really saw it come my way either. The day I get to kick her ass is going to be great.

She ain't my problem, so I'm going to move on.


I give the door a knock, though it slides open without much effort.
Nanoweaver's med bay isn't much different from last time.

Except for the giant meathead sitting on one of the beds.
"Hey hey, it's the wirehead! Good to see ya!"
Astrolysis seems happy for some reason. Why is she here? She doesn't even look injured!
There's the faint animal scent clinging to her, not exactly pleasant combined with the scent of the meds in the air.

I do my best to ignore her as I walk up to Nanoweaver.
The doctor's messing around with things by the sink. I can still see the little machine setup from yesterday, but it doesn't seem to be on currently.
"Hey doc, coming in to talk. Could I... get some assistance for stuff tomorrow?"
Nanoweaver turns around from the sink, one hand hooked around her outfit's front pouch. I can only read a fraction of her expression under that mask, but... she looked like she expected this to some degree.
"I'll tell you what, Argine - if you can help me out with something, I can provide you with some information about how Nickel's Parasignia works."
I blink.
"You... you sure you're alright with just giving that to me?"
I cast a glance at the meathead sitting on that bed like nobody's business.
"From what I've heard, talkin' about your signia's all well and good out there in the big wide world, but... here? I mean, most of the Sector Bosses keep theirs a secret and train with it in private. I only knew Judicium's because she had to demonstrate it for us, and all the cadets I knew who got one are already out of the facility."

She nods, something overly casual about the exchange. Don't they have rules for... Doctor Patient confidentiality?
"While it is not in my purview to make assumptions about the people I make checkups on, Nickel's disposition means that there is much less of an issue compared to others."
Astrolysis pipes up from the back too."Hah, I think Nickel would like the challenge. Never fought often with others with 'signias, too, and we've heard the stories about yours!"
Figures that information about that spreads, but I'll say I never tried keeping mine a secret as much as the others. She rubs her chin, in mock concentration.
"Shame I can't fight her with mine, either. Or there'll be a lot more visits to the good doctor, hahaha!"
If Astrolysis and Nickel are suddenly so loose-lipped about their Parasignias, then why haven't I heard anything about it ages ago?
Bah. I'll worry about what Astrolysis' one is later. Business first.
"So, what'll you have from me, Doc?"
A pocket notebook comes out of her pouch, and she taps the front page.
"Go to the fourth closed branch of the med bay, pack up the medicine left in the cabinet and bring it over here. Take Astrolysis with you, she'll help carry things."

So I have to go pack boxes with Astrolysis? Seriously? That's a bit cruel, for the both of us. She can't see. Making her bump into walls and drop things would be more sad than entertaining.
"Oh, don't look at me like that, Argine, you're not a child. It's either this, or you can go elsewhere for today. Besides, it's just packing boxes. I'm sure Astrolysis won't get in your way."
Astrolysis laughs like a stifled roar.
"I'll be on my best behaviour, doc, you got it!"
I grimace.
Man, I do not want to put up with Astrolysis. You don't think there's some way I can worm out of this, can I?
No. 1004702 ID: 094652

You need the intel. Just plug your ears and let us do the hearing.

And make sure you get their testimony recorded with consent! If they lied to you...
No. 1004711 ID: 031458

If you aren't at the tail end of a beat-down Astrolysis is annoying at worst. We get no bad vibes from her.
Though she certainly won't run into walls and you know it.

C'mon. Quit whinin' and hop to it!
No. 1004712 ID: 96c896

Oh come on now. She can't see, but her other senses make up for it, as evidenced by her beating the shit out of you.
Plus you can find out why she's so happy. She got laid, maybe?

Take the deal.
No. 1004741 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162530894021.png - (372.42KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch064.png )

>Do it.

>She'll be fine, she beat the shit out of you last time.
>Quit whining!

Alright, fine, fine, fine!

"Okay, I'll go help out..."
Nanoweaver nods, handing me a cardboard box. Astrolysis hops up from her seat as well, and so, now I'm going to be stuck with her for the next hour probably.

"Aw, this is going to be fun, isn't it, wirehead?"
I have no idea why she calls me that, even now.
"How's packing boxes fun for you when you can't even read the labelling?"
She shrugs, like the thought hasn't even crossed her mind.
"I dunno. I like feeling the glass under my fingers."
Nanoweaver waves us away.
"Alright, you two, settle down. There's only so much time in the day left."

And so the two of us head off to fourth branch of the medbay.
Back when everyone was running around in here, on some days you could get several of the wings full. The one that's currently still open isn't very big in comparison, but there's no point in keeping the whole place lit and running if it'll only burn power and there's not many training accidents any more.

"Here we are!" Astrolysis declares, the door sliding open with a click. If it wasn't automated, I imagine she would have pushed it open. Or punched it.

It smells like the usual medbay, but more faded. Less sweat too, given that there's nobody lying around.
The cabinets are pretty full, but I can see why Nanoweaver put it off until now - when you're not burning that many meds on a daily basis, there's not really a need to get it from storage. But one way or another, the rest of us are gonna go soon.

Astrolysis makes her way over to one of the cabinets, yanking the doors open and jostling the meds inside.
"Hey, don't spill those!", I shout as I put the boxes onto the floor.
"I gotcha, I gotcha, don't be such a worrywart!"
The process begins, with the boxes placed on the ground and us transporting the bottles in there. I'm hoping that Nanoweaver's not going to mind them being a bit disorganized, especially with Astrolysis cramming them in by the handful.
We continue to work in silence for a bit, surrounded only by the sounds of the clinking bottles and pills going into the boxes.

I'll say it feels off, working along someone like this.
Astrolysis was never particularly liked by many people, so she keeps to herself.
Kinda like me.
Occasionally she'd get a challenge from someone, who'd then get sent to medbay pretty soon after. Most've the cadets learned not to interact with her after that.

I'd be more partial to her if her usual form of interaction with others isn't trying to beat the shit out of them. Nickel's ended up friends with her mostly because the two of them are able to enjoy the mutual violence, which I'm not sure isn't most people. Even as a soldier, you still need rest, and I'm still surprised by how willing those two are to pay visits to the medbay. Maybe when Nanoweaver moves out of Site 70, she should go and make a lil' card for how many trips you take to the medbay. Call it the 'frequent fighters' card, heh.

But on that note, a question does spring to mind.
"So, what's your deal?", I ask her.

Everyone here has some kind of reason for staying. Whether it's being kept here against my will, people who want to help me out for one reason or another, or people who want to hold me back. We all have our reasons. Can't say I know exactly why some people do what they do. I mean, Diagram considers me a friend and so she probably wouldn't want to leave me behind, and I guess Nanoweaver sees me as something important, given that she made me. Then there's the people who have it out for me - Ozone, because she hates my guts, and Astrolysis, because she really enjoys my suffering.
But then there's people like Judicium. I don't get her. I don't really get anyone who tries to 'do things' for me, but end up just causing me more pain in the process. Why waste all of that effort?
I cast a look at Astrolysis as she 'hmms', clearly deep in thought. If there's one thing that she doesn't have, it's knowing when people are looking at her. That's kinda nice for blissful ignorance, though.

"I fight. That's about it."
Wonderful reply. And utterly predictable, too.

"Then why are you still here? If you wanted a fight, there's infinitely more people out there in the Weave. Not like being a Sector Boss holds you back from much."
Especially when she's technically not even qualified for the job and got it on a technicality.

She laughs. Laughs and smiles are what she has most of the time. When it's not that stupid persistent grin of hers, she's cackling like some kinda mental patient.
>She got laid, maybe? That's probably why she's so happy.
Laid out on the ground? Hard to imagine Nickel being able to knock Astrolysis flat anyway. Even if Nickel was leveraging Astrolysis' weight for that, it doesn't really bring to mind the image of someone being 'laid out', getting decked in the jaw. But if she's happy because she got into a particularly great bout, that would make sense.

"'Cause you're here, that's why!"
Good to know that everyone has it out for me, then.

"Why me? While I'm going to hand your ass to you eventually, there's probably..."
"There's what, little lady?"
She cut me off! "I thought you were going to be the most badass soldier in the facility? If so, then hell yeah, I'm going to get in on that action! Why would I go anywhere else when there's a fighter like you around? I'd just be gamblin' on whether there's someone that strong out there, and I haven't met anyone else like that yet!"
There's a pause as a monstrous grin crosses her face.
"Unless you think you're gonna get beaten by someone?"

I change the topic.
"If Nickel left for the Weave, wouldn't you go with her?"
She shakes her head.
"Nah. Lil' Nickel has her own thing going on. Ain't my job to follow her around. She just happens to be the most entertaining person around here. Right now, anyway."
I guess entertainment's hard to come by when you're blind and generally not into intellectually minded pursuits.
Hah. Did you know once, Diagram tried to read storybooks to Astrolysis? Diagram told me about her 'little idea' to improve Astrolysis' engagement with things that don't involve violence. Props to her, though, at least she didn't end up destroying the poor books. Instead she kept persistently asking questions about why the characters in the stories didn't just resolve everything through violence, though I'm not quite sure Astrolysis got the message.

The thought just brings me to another question
If the two of them aren't that attached to the hip, then why do they fight each other so often?
"So... how come Nickel's entertaining to you?"
The packing stops for a moment as she's overcome with loud laughter, echoing off of the walls.
"Ha ha! So many questions from such a little lady!"
...I'm practically double Nickel's size.
"It's because Nickel's always making new stuff to challenge me. When we're fighting, she goes off, does her own thing, comes back, and she's got a whole new plan in mind. Isn't it wonderful, having someone who's always making things more fun?"

So there's an element of improvement to it. Having a partner that can match you's always great... but it was never like that for me I suppose. Sis was never partial to duels. Bloody narcissist, thinking she's so much better than all of us... can't blame me for accepting Astrolysis' invitations sometimes, when I'm desperate to punch something. It pisses me off. For a long time, it felt like I was in the worst place - good enough that nobody else wants to fight me, but no good enough that I can beat everyone. Training by yourself's bloody tough, and Diagram isn't well suited for a partner.
"What do you think of the Sector Bosses, then? The other ones."
She snorts.
"Eh. Those oldies fight like they're always one step away from death. Sure, they can beat me, but they fight all very similarly, it's like the main difference between 'em is what weapons they're carrying. No fun. I can twist their arms behind their backs and they won't so much as shout."

A finger gets jabbed into my shoulder.
"You, though? You're like a little grenade. Can never tell where your bits are going to fly when someone pulls your pin, hahaha! You should fight me more."
She sure loves trying to pull limbs off of my body, that's for sure.

More medicine's packed away. Most of this crap's stuff I never see Nanoweaver use. When you heal this quickly, guess there isn't much for doctors to do.
For some reason, the air changes. Astrolysis continues to blab on, but it sounds almost like she's reminiscing about something.
"...Ya know, things weren't this fun before you came around. When I was part of the youngest generation, everything was so much less fun. Something happened a few months later, when me and Nickel were still cadets, and it was like a switch turned on. No more easy cruising. Couldn't see shit, but Nickel was quieter during those times."
...What? What's she even talking about?
She continues to ramble on, even without me saying anything.
"Then, a while after that, the funny guy in the hat arrived, and things got a lot weirder after that. Weirder but also better. It was great, after the hat guy came! Then you were born some time after that, and things around here got way more entertaining than before."
I don't even know anyone around here who wears a hat besides a helmet, and I don't think those count.
She sighs, like she's suddenly channelling a bit of Diagram's daydreaminess.
"Your generation was my favourite generation to duel! You were all so... feisty. Kept getting back up. I would've loved to keep fighting that thick-headed sister of yours, but she never accepts my duels."
She slaps my shoulder, practically tipping me over.
"But you're the one left, so I've been looking forward to our fight all the damn time! And don't forget, I've got something for you when it happens!"
Guess she hasn't forgotten about that gun she's going to make for me. I'm not sure how she's even going to design one, let alone manufacture it.

But for a moment there, she wasn't just sputtering the usual about how she wants to rip my arms off or something.
Hell. If she's this talkative, maybe I can coerce her into spilling something. But the question is what? And if there's any strategies I should employ while doing it.

Astrolysis hoists up one of the boxes. The rest of them aren't quite full, so I continue to pack the meds inside.
"You sit still, wirehead! I'm going to bring one of these over to the good doc."
Ah, crap, she's gone.
She'll be back to carry more eventually, but... while she's gone, maybe we could prod at some of what she said before when she comes back.
No. 1004777 ID: eff92f

Ok, so: she made passing comments on the big incident and the mysterious man who commissioned your creation that Judicium mentioned.

She didn't get to see the incident but she knows some stuff about the man.

Also, she said that everyone from generation was really feisty. Does that mean that you and your sister weren't the only ones?

Crack a few fighting jokes to get her into a good mood and the next time she calls you a wirehead, tell her that "an insult only works if the other person knows what it means, cake-slice-head."
No. 1004784 ID: 96c896

>Laid out on the ground?
"got laid" as in, "had sex with someone". You know what sex is right? But from what she's been talking about it sounds more like she had another duel with Nickel.

Funny guy in a hat... does she mean Troveheart? I don't think we've seen what he looks like.

It's possible she calls you wirehead because she can see your parasignia, and it looks like wires. Also possible that it's just referring to your hairstyle. Why don't you ask?
If she can see parasignias, then I guess that means Troveheart's looks like a hat?
No. 1004998 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162566029263.png - (164.51KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch065.png )

>Were you and your sister the only ones from your generation?

Well, kinda? See, the thing is - me and my sister, we are the last two Trace Clones ever made.
Buuut, due to our circumstances, we got lumped in with the next most recent generation of clones when it came to training.
Both me and my sister did pretty well, though someone had to go and get an accelerated course to flex on everyone else in a pretty literal way.
Still, when it comes to the point that Astrolysis was making, I think I can see it. Whenever I talked to any of the clones older than 4 years since their creation, there's a certain difference to them that I can't really put my finger on.

>"got laid" as in, "had sex with someone". You know what sex is right? But from what she's been talking about it sounds more like she had another duel with Nickel.
Oh, that's what it is? Man, I don't get how innuendos like that work, it just sounds stupid to me.
Duels are one thing, but I'll say, if there's more people willing for a good toss-up out there in the wider universe, then Astrolysis is going to have a great time.

>Funny guy in a hat... Does she mean Troveheart?
Nah. You guys saw him in that... memory of mine from before. Guy in the glasses, labcoat, brown fur. Never seen him wear a hat. Plus, as I said already, nobody around here wears headgear besides helmets, so I have absolutely no clue who hat guy can be.

>Maybe she can see your Parasignia and it looks like wires?
That's... an idea. I mean, we all know that she's got some kinda weird blindsense, but wouldn't seeing someone's Parasignia be crazy? That's like saying I can smell the nutrients in your bloodstream or something.
I'll ask her when she's back.
For now, there's more boxes that need to be sorted. Apparently there's also medicine for helping with fur-loss here. You'd be surprised how relevant that is, since dropping fur when you're trying to be sneaky is very bad.


Astrolysis's back, empty handed.
"Oi, wirehead, you done packing the boxes yet?", she asks.

"Yeah, Cakeslice, I've been packing the boxes while you're gone."
She turns around,
"You talkin' to me? I don't smell any cake."
I stifle a small laugh.
"How come you call me wirehead, anyway? If it's an insult, it only works if I know what you're even talking about."

Astrolysis thinks to herself for a moment.
"Why's the sun called the sun? I dunno. You're just a wirehead to me, hahahaha! But, it's a name that I heard one of the other cadets call you before. I liked the sound of it. It matches your hair."

Eh? So she didn't come up with the name? But she's the one who calls me it most of the time.
"Did... did you hear why they called me that?"

Astrolysis shrugs, starting to stack the boxes.
"Something I didn't get. Something about someone puttin' a wire through your head while you were still in a Cradle? Me, I don't see anything, so I don't know what kinda wire they're talking about. They were laughing about it real good, too."
"They were suggesting a metal one, I'll bet..." I mutter.
Her ears prick up.
"Eh? Speak up, wirehead, can't hear you at that distance if you're gonna talk that small."
There's a sour taste in my mouth.

I change the the subject.
"Can you tell me more about the guy in a hat you mentioned?"
Now that I think about it, how'd she know the guy's in a hat if she can't see?
"How'd you know he was in a hat anyway? You can't see."

She shrugs those big arms of hers.
"I didn't know either. When I was touching his face, he was really weird. All stiff and whatnot. No fur. Can you believe that? Felt like I was touching a rock or something. There was something on toppa his head, and I asked what it was. He said it was a hat. Dunno what a hat is but it sounds much worse than a helmet."

...Now I've got more questions than before.

"What about- Mmmf!"
Astrolysis reaches over and holds my mouth shut.
"Yap yap yap. You talk too much, wirehead. The good doctor told us to pack boxes, not gossip."
Ugh, does she have to do this? Right when I was going to ask about that 'incident', anyway...
She grins again as her grip tightens.
"Besides, why should I give you all of the answers? You still owe me a good fight."

I try to pry her hands off of my face, and she relents, making me stumble back. I swear, with her grip, it practically feels like she left an indent on my skull.
Tch. Of course good things like that couldn't last.

The big meathead isn't wrong though, since I can be at this for hours trying to tease out small tidbits about things I don't know from Astrolysis. But I've got a schedule to make, and showing up to a fight sleep-deprived is just asking for me to lose.

After a short while, the boxes are finally fully packed. They're fairly heavy. Kinda expected when there's a lot of fluid and pills in these things.
Astrolysis is already stacking up the boxes. She picks them up at the base, and the stack is tall enough to extend past her face.
"You sure you can carry all of that?" I ask.

Her laugh comes as a retort, blocked by the boxes.
"You kidding? I'm doing great!"

We don't really talk when we're moving the boxes into Nanoweaver's medbay. It's a short distance anyway, and we're more focused on making sure the things don't tip over and spill out.
Finally, all the boxes are moved over, and we put them by the corner. When they're ready to be shipped out, someone else is probably going to come and take them.
No. 1004999 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162566036909.png - (226.91KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch066.png )

Nanoweaver looks over at the boxes and gives a small nod.
"Good work, you two. I trust that everything went well?"
I cast a glance towards Astrolysis, whose barreled chest is pulsing in and out from all of the carrying. If I was standing a bit closer, I could probably hear her breathing.

"Yeah, things went well enough. You got what I asked for, Doc?"
She reaches over to the nearby desk with the contraption from before on it, producing a document. It's all fancy-typed, with a little picture of Nickel clipped to the top corner.

MEDICAL REPORT - SUBJECT: Nickel - Abbreviated Parasignia Log Nickel's Parasignia first manifested during an engagement with her training partner, Astrolysis. During the duel, Nickel was disarmed by her opponent. Reaching for a weapon, she found none - but that desperation triggered the creation of her Parasignia in its current form. It is theorized that Astrolysis having already awakened her Parasignia has contributed to Nickel's own awakening, despite Astrolysis not having employed her own Parasignia during the bout. Parasignia Description: Nickel's Parasignia primarily manifests in the form of a knife, resembling that of a standard-issue blade within Site 70. However, upon closer examination, the hilt and the blade are both functionally indestructible, with the blade itself being unusually sharp for its shape and design. Examining the blade under daylight reveals that the initially metallic-like material it's comprised of contains glittering specks, while the rest of the material seems to absorb light. Similarly, the blade seems to silence wounded targets, as well as displaying a curious effect where wounds created by the blade do not bleed. While wielding the knife, Nickel is able to display her usual prowess with concealed weaponry - however, as the knife is an extension of herself, she can manifest the weapon as required, meaning she effectively has an unlimited-use throwing knife. Reforming the knife after dissipating it takes around 10 heartbeats to form, according to Nickel herself. Nickel has declined further tests to determine additional properties that her Parasignia can display, claiming that she'd prefer to figure things out on her own. Tests have been suspended ever since, though monitoring of Nickel's health has continued as scheduled.

"Forgive the more... casual tone of writing, Argine. I had been typing this up quickly while you were away, and so it was a matter of boiling it down to the essentials."
The document's fairly comprehensive... but Nickel's Parasignia is a knife? That feels a little self-defeating when she's a long-ranged specialist. There's gotta be more to it than that, though the stealth effects don't matter as much when I'm the only opponent.
"Thanks, Doc. I really appreciate all of the help you've been giving me."

Nanoweaver riffles through some of the papers before speaking again.
"I will say, Argine. Please be wary. Parasignias evolve, they don't simply stay the same. Nickel was last tested quite some time ago - it is very likely that she's gained new skills with her Parasignia that weren't listed on the document."
Good advice. I mean, even now I'm trying to improve my own functionality with my Parasignia, but it's not something so easily forced.

Astrolysis butts in from her sitting place.
"Hey Doc, don't I get something too? I did all of the heavy lifting!"
"Yes, Astrolysis, you get something too."
She rummages around in her apron for a bit, pulling out... a little red thing on a stick? Huh. Candy. Haven't seen that in a while.
"Here, take this candy. Be sure to unwrap the plastic outside before eating."
Astrolysis catches it between two of her fat fingers.
"Hahaha! Haven't had one of these in ages!"
She almost looks like a civvie kid from a textbook. Though much much bigger, and with far more teeth. Within moments, the little candy's gone, and the paper stick too.
The story that she told me about how she got my nickname doesn't sit well with me, but... bloody hell, all of those people are gone now. They're off gallavanting somewhere else. I don't have to care about what they say.

I fold up the info and tuck it into inside of my coat.
Information's information. And I got some... unexpected insight from Astrolysis of all people about some events that happened before I was created, though what she was exactly talking about... that's something I'll probably have to beat out of her later.

With all of that done, I don't have much time left in the day.
Time to go pay Diagram a visit.
No. 1005000 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162566042916.png - (261.45KB , 1000x1000 , DiagramRoomZoomedOutPart2.png )

This is probably going to be my last stop for today, so feel free to comment on stuff that's happened throughout the day while we're mulling on whatever Diagram's giving us.
Remember, if you're going to make plans though, we can discuss that when I'm ready to fight Nickel next morning.

I breathe in - with how slow things were for me before, it feels like everything's picking up in speed. I beat Judicium only days ago, and tomorrow, I'm going to beat Nickel.

Diagram's place is where we left it last time, though I hear a bit of machining going on inside before I knock on the door.
There's a small call from inside telling me to 'come in'.
Stepping inside, it feels a bit warmer than before.
"Argine! Thanks for showing up, I was worried that you wouldn't get here in time and turn in for bed. I've been working on these all day!"
The buzzing excitement is infectious, though the feeling fades as she switches her suppressor back on.
There's two things on her workbench. Are those... new gadgets?

New gadgets are... uncommon around here. I've heard some stuff on it from Diagram, but, basically... in the past, they had to be designed with a very rigid sort of procedure. Makes sure that every soldier with basic gadget training knows how to maintain it and use it, just like our guns. If something's too complicated to mass produce, it's not usually worth it. Diagram has helped out in the development of some of them, but nowadays she mostly works on new weapons, as those are easier to put together, built on similar principles.

Those two things on the workbench though? I'm not even sure what their functions are at first glance.
"Huh. You've been busy, Diagram. How'd you put these together?"

She invites me closer, gesturing towards the things on the desk.
"Well, when there's so few people around, there's plenty of time for me to gather the materials I need. Dealing with the logistics of the Site's infrastructure doesn't really come into concern when most of the resource expenditure's been concluded. So I simply went to the foundry, said hello to some of the people running it, procured the requisite components for experimentation and attempted to cobble something together with principles I've been studying for years now."
O.....kay. That's a lot to take in.
No. 1005001 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162566048362.png - (438.63KB , 1000x1000 , diagramgadgetchoice.png )

Diagram presents the two objects on the table to me. There's a certain flair to them, what with the distinct colours they have.
"So, here's my gift to you! Your choice of two never-before-seen gadgets, built by yours truly!"
Diagram's quite proud it seems, and I'll admit, I'm impressed. Not often that you see new gadgets being made.
She picks up the two items, gearing herself up with them. The cube-thing has a strap on it, but she simply holds it up casually, like she's showing off something she finds particularly neat.
"Introducing... the Blink Capacitor and the Amp Rings! They're technically not certified by R&D, but I do have a license for producing and experimenting with gadgets like these, and I did plenty of testing to make sure that it's safe for you to use."
Well, glad to know that she made sure I wouldn't get turned into red paste upon clicking one of those things on.

"So what's that boxy thing do?"
Diagram tosses it up a short distance and catches it again. With a push of the button on the side, she vanishes - reappearing a short distance away. She grins.
"The Blink Capacitor, when you push the button on the side, allows you to teleport a short distance."
My eyes go wide.
"Short ranged teleportation? Isn't that... incredibly difficult to create?"
Our gal here is doing the kinds of mad science you read about in those unrealistic storybooks of hers at this point.

Diagram shakes her head, her four floppy ears going all over the place. There's a hint of embarrassment on her face, like she's trying to undersell her own achievements.
"Ahh, well... I'll be honest, this is reverse engineered from how the Nexus works. Compared to traveling through the Weave, a short-ranged teleport is much, much easier in comparison!"

She looks around for a moment, before turning her attention back to me.
I feel like if she had a whiteboard in this room, she'd be drawing up an explanation for how this thing works in the first place.
"To put it another way... the Weave Nexus was the combined efforts of the entire engineering department to travel from our world to another. Of course, I've heard that we were given some pointers for that, but I was only tangentially involved in the project. You and Jinny were born in the latter half of that year, so I don't think you heard much on it either.

Eugh. I know she and my sister talk, but I'm not sure I like that pet name. Jin's more of a brick wall than someone you can be casual with anyway.
Diagram continues her lecture, though the technical details escape me.
"If you were to compare the two... imagine the world as a book!"
That's probably the first comparison that I could imagine her making anyway.
"With the Nexus, you're basically penetrating the tougher cover of a novel, whereas the Blink Capacitor's only really moving you from one letter to the next on the same world. It's a world of difference, even if there's a lot of similar underlying principles!"
I nod, sort of understanding.
"So the gist of it is, you put this together from studies you've done on the Weave Nexus, and now I can teleport short distances?"
She nods, her eyes lighting up. Guess she likes teaching people stuff too, outside of inventing.
"Yes, that's correct! But unlike true teleportation, or the Weave Nexus, you can't teleport through solid matter. You are however, temporarily intangible when you activate it. You also can only teleport in directions where there aren't any obstructions blocking at least half your body. So you can't really use it to 'blink' through a grate, or a prison cell."

A bit limited, but the ability to shift myself in any direction for a second would work wonders in a firefight. Just ask anyone here.

"What about those?", I ask, pointing at the rings on her arms.

"The Amp Rings... they're more straightforward than the Blink Capacitor, but sometimes, simplicity is strong! When activated, they temporarily augment your physical strength, allowing you to lift heavier things, as well as allowing you to jump or climb distances more effectively! I wouldn't recommend punching people with it though... the poor soldier I asked broke her arm when she knocked the sandbag clean off it's hook."
The Amp Ring does sound pretty useful in it's own right, but I imagine it's strength-amplifying property is the real appeal for me, personally. It'll amp up other gadgets if I slot it in as a passive effect. Breaking your arm when you punch someone sounds like a terrible deal when it comes to last resorts. The equivalent of trading the gravy ration for a shitty veg-omelet ration when we're doing one of those simulated long-march camps.

I cross my arms, examining the two gadgets she has on her. Honestly? If these things were able to be mass produced, I'd feel sorry for whoever was on the other end.
"So what's the catch? You're offering me a choice, not both of them at the same time. Though I do appreciate having one of these at all."
Especially when I'm so starved for gadget options. I'm quite formidable when I'm fully equipped, if I do say so myself.
Diagram takes the two gadgets off herself, placing them back onto the workbench.

"These two gadgets... well, they're fairly new. I haven't tested or refined them as much as I'd like. They're still perfectly usable, and we don't have the time to wait around for both of them to be fully polished, but I would like to hold onto one of them to make improvements to."
"Can't you just make another copy of both?"
She shakes her head.
"I'm sorry, I can't. If I were to do that, I'd need materials from outside of Site 70, through the Weave Nexus. And with that on lockdown..."
I sigh. "...we're not going to get any of that until I'm done with the tournament."

Diagram frowns for a bit.
"In effect, if you choose one of these for you now, you're going to have to figure out modifications on your own. The other one, when it's ready... you'll get it with all of the possible modifications immediately, but at a much later time. I don't even know if I'll be able to sort everything out before your final battle with Jin!"

So it's kind of an investment thing, huh? While I can still innovate the one I have currently, that's time out of my own schedule. And Diagram's probably going to have her hands full with the other one, so it's not like I can just leave it with her.
Well, I'm okay with letting you lot choose which gadget to take. Hasn't bitten me in the ass yet.



Gadget developed by Diagram. 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.

WARNING: Usage of this gadget offensively has demonstrated significant recoil to the user.

Tags: Empowering, Amplifying, Intensifying


Gadget developed by Diagram. Limited charges, must be manually renewed after combat.
Allows for near-instantaneous short-ranged teleportation when activated. Can teleport in any valid direction, as long as there is nothing impeding the user's path of travel. User is temporarily intangible during the teleportation, but physical matter is pushed away upon reappearing, effectively protecting the user from small projectiles briefly.

Tags: Displacing, Replacing, Intangible

Currently possessed Tags:
Beam Unit - Focusing, Energizing, Pinpointing
Explosive Disc - Explosive, Volatile, Destructive
Barrier Generator - Reflective, Protective, Repelling
Pitch Prefect - Slowing, Sticky, Congealing

Although I haven't gotten my hands on these two gadgets yet, I can probably say that with my Parasignia, I'd still be able to put other gadgets into them passively, but I'd need to ask for Diagram to hand me the schematics for the gadgets so I can understand their workings enough to slot them into my Parasignia to begin with.

Now, what do we choose, here? It's up to you - while I've got my own ideas as to what I prefer, you lot have a better understanding of things overall. And again, while you mull over what gadget to choose, this is probably the last thing we'll do today, so if there's anything else you want to say, you should let me know now.
No. 1005024 ID: a3d6c7

I thought 'wirehead' was only used in the context of 'a person who has descended into a possibly permanent hedonistic fugue due to 'wireheading', or direct, addictive, electrical stimulation of the pleasure centers of the brain.', not a general term for someone with neural data implants.
No. 1005025 ID: 094652

Blink Capacitor can work extremely well with other gadgets and gives you a general evasion skill.

Beam[Blink] - I bet this can penetrate walls.
Explosive[Blink] - I don't need to tell you how effective a teleporting grenade is.
Barrier[Blink] - Use this on impact-triggered grenades to bounce them back.
Pitch[Blink] - You can disable your environmental slow hazard at will.

Blink[Beam] - Teleport Range increased
Blink[Explosive] - You cause yourself to become the focal point of an explosion without dealing damage to yourself.
Blink[Barrier] - You can beam yourself across a narrow tube with angled bends.
Blink[Pitch] - You counter-evade attacks by leaving a sticky double in your place, leaving opponents in goop while you flank.

Amp is a direct power boost, but the general offsets prevent it from being used frequently. Let Diagram fine-tune the gadget so it doesn't blow your arms apart.
No. 1005038 ID: 96c896

Oof, that's a nasty origin for "wirehead".

A knife? She probably evolved it to work with her guns, or she can make a lot of knives now. At the very least it makes her dangerous in close range.

Amp is a straightforward power boost when used as a mod, looks like. Other mods put into it...

Amp +Energizing: probably lets you use Amp to move faster, or maybe it boosts the Amp effect.
Amp +Explosive: not sure, explosions when you use Amp? Rocket jumps, explosion fist?
Amp +Protective: blocks recoil from punching things I'd bet. Or gives you a full-body shield while Amp is active.
Amp +Slowing/Sticky/Congealing: no idea, doesn't make sense. The combo might not work at all. Or maybe it would let you climb walls?

Seems to me that Amp would be useful in a large arena where you need to jump around. Or in melee combat I guess, but that's always something you want to avoid isn't it?

Take Blink. That has high potential for offense and defense. Blink weapons through walls/cover, blink yourself to avoid attacks...
No. 1005046 ID: 9a2966

You need tools now.

But having a better tool later sounds real sweet and gives you an excuse to find her again (or vice verse).
No. 1005075 ID: 031458

Blink Capacitor for two reasons:
1:Amp rings will be AMAZING if mom can work the kinks out. They are a bit too unreliable as things stand.
2:Explosive Disk + Blink Capacitor = BLINK GRENADES
Blink Grenades are STUPID POWERFUL. They basically can't miss, and they explode juuuust a little bit harder.

Beyond that...
Nickel's Parasignia...
Some things to consider:
It doesn't matter what kind of weapon it is, infinite ammo is infinite ammo.

The most likely evolution is full body manifestation. If she can manifest an indestructible knife anywhere on her body, she can easily counter melee and unarmed attacks without breaking her stance, and even potentially stop bullets.

10 heartbeats is not a lot of time, and its almost certain that she has A: Reduced that number, B: has learned to control her heart rate, and C: In drawn out engagements will have access to the knife more and more often as her heart picks up the pace.

Finally: if she has evolved to modify size and shape of the knife, you could be in serious trouble. The sword is basically the ultimate close combat weapon. You won't be able to beat her in melee if she manifests a fucking sword.

All in all, Nickle is well equipped to handle both Short and Long Range threats. She is however vulnerable at medium range as she basically has to rely on throwing knives and standard arms.
Tomorrow let's come up with strategies and combinations that keep and make you deadly within that sweet spot.


Yo... Before we go, this is gonna sound weird, and we are aware you are not a fan of her but...
Astrolysis likes you. More than that she Respects you, even if she shows it in a weird way.
After Nickel, you should probably tackle her next. Yall could really get along together, but not until you get this upcoming fight out of the way.
No. 1005107 ID: ecd116

i don't know if this the right time to ask this but since this will be probably the last time we could ever meet & talk with i want to ask these questions.

is magic really a thing? you know because of though cards you gave us earlier. like wizards sorcery to supernatural beings and everything in between? how common is it use/encounter both in this place and outside of it, how much of a expert are you on it and is there anyone or anything we can use to learn more about this topic, even to get more magical stuff/power if we are lucky.

also we should keep in contact so if either of us get in trouble/danger we could try to rescue each other or if unable for whatever reason to do it ourselves get someone else help to do it for us.

lastly can you if possible give us the blueprints or list of what both gadgets would need to be upgrade with. if we should somehow find parts or ideas we can give them to you the next time we get in contact or find someone else help if you are not available.
No. 1005108 ID: 96c896

Hey are you gonna get some diagnostics run on us or what?
No. 1005320 ID: 15a025

I think the blink capacitor is going to be the most immediately helpful gadget here. Being able to teleport a short distance would help us greatly with keeping stealth in our next fight.
No. 1005329 ID: 86aaf2


On the topic of 'magic', I'd say it would depend on your definitions, wouldn't it? I've favored the relatively definition of, 'any method by which the laws of physics can be intentionally, arbitrarily suspended, overwritten, changed, or overshadowed in a non-reductionist way.' Which includes various speculative fiction concepts like psionics, certain types of superpowers, technological means of changing the base laws of reality rather than just exploiting them, etc. etc. How much of that sort of thing is known to exist, if any?
No. 1005352 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162600691395.png - (314.02KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch067.png )

>I thought Wirehead wasn't a term for someone with neural implants.
...Those cadets weren't talking about neural implants.

>Choose the Blink Capacitor!
>Blink Capacitor can work extremely well with your other gadgets.
>If mom can work the kinks out, the Amp Rings will be AMAZING!

I choose to grab the Blink Capacitor, then.
If Diagram can get the problems fixed with the Amp Rings, then that's going to be more useful for us down the line than grabbing it immediately. Still, even if there was recoil, if I was using it passively, that wouldn't affect my gadgets negatively, as I only have to deal with the recoil if I'm using the Amp Rings as a primary gadget.
Sometimes, I just don't get why Diagram goes out of the way to be nice to me. Hah. If I was being pragmatic, I'd say it's because the two of us are both rejects in some ways, but that girl's probably got more going for her at least in the noggin'.

Holding the little cube in my hand... it pulses every so often. I can't wait to try and figure out how this thing works once I get back to my room. It smells vaguely of... smoke.

>Hey, aren't you going to run some diagnostics on us?
Ah, damn, I knew I was forgetting something!

"Yo Diagram, by the way, the SAI's been asking about diagnostics. Apparently they're concerned that someone compromised the systems, or is tracking us, or something like that."
Diagram looks confused for a moment.
"Argine... I don't think it's very easy to run diagnostics on nanomachines that are currently in your bloodstream. Could you tell me why the SAI thinks it's compromised?"
...We never did tell her, or ask her about Amica, did we?
"Yeah, well, do you know about some purple lady running around? Apparently the scarf that Judicium has been wearing is another SAI. Our SAI thinks that she put a tracker on us, or could be monitoring us somehow."

"Another SAI? I had thought... no, that is a possibility. But what do you mean by 'purple lady'? SAIs are still nanomachines. They can't take physical form, unless they were riding around in a host."
"No, I mean purple lady. Made outta goopy stuff. Can change form. She's called Amica, and apparently Judicium is buddy-buddy with her. Roughed up the Sector Bosses real good in the past. Though, weirdly enough, I tried bringing it up to Nanoweaver and she seemed very... put off by it all."
Diagram frowns.
"I haven't heard anything about this, Argine. What you're telling me isn't something that I've heard about being possible, at least with the technology we had to make SAIs in the first place. A self-contained SAI that doesn't need a host if something that engineers would have fantasized about in a different time... I'll have to look into it, but as for being compromised or not..."
She thinks to herself for a moment, tapping her palm with a few fingers, as if counting the possibilities.
Diagram shakes her head.
"Ahh, tell them that there's no worry. If you were compromised by another SAI, I'm sure the SAI would have let you know immediately. It's like if some woman barged into your costume party, but her costume is completely different to the rest of your party's. You wouldn't want to have them stick around in your party uninvited, so she gets kicked out pretty soon."

Uh, alright. I don't know if you guys have costume parties up there... wherever you are, but I guess if it's obvious when someone's spying on us, then there's no worries about it. Besides, maybe Diagram's own investigation into what the hell is up with Amica could lead to some results.
"Alright, well if you find out something, lemme know."
Before I go, I ask for the Blink Capacitor's blueprints, which I quickly stuff into my jacket.

I thank Diagram again before leaving, walking out into the chilly hallways of Site 70 at night.
While I travel the lonely halls back home, I look over the little cube in my hand.
This little thing... it's going to be a big help for the upcoming battles, that's for sure.
The light outside are dimmer than usual. That's usually the indicator that it's time to go to bed, since sometimes it's hard to tell what time it is outside, though I believe the Sector Bosses said something about the lights being dimmed to help with falling asleep when it's time to rest.

>I don't know if this the right time to ask this but since this will be probably the last time we could ever meet & talk with I want to ask these questions.
Is magic really a thing? You know, because of the cards you gave us earlier. Like wizards sorcery to supernatural beings and everything in between?

This ain't going to be the last time we're going to have a conversation like this, buddy. You lot are all stuck inside of me.
But, yeah, I can consider it for a bit.
Magic's apparently real, according to Diagram. I haven't ever been out of this facility, so I can't really confirm it myself. To be honest, I've kinda assumed that it was other people screwing with me.
But with Diagram talking about it like that, out there in the wider universe, there is apparently magic.
The people in this facility don't really have much contact with that, and Diagram's probably the closest thing we've got to an expert on that. She's done research for the Exotic Materials department after all, and that's kinda the place where all the weirdness of the facility gets concentrated in. I hear some things about what other worlds are like, but they're never really consistent. Other worlds are like ours, where there's a lot of tech, while some worlds are like they're straight out of Diagram's storybooks. Not sure how I feel about those, but I guess it makes sense? If someone can think of a world like that existing in a story, then surely there's a world out there that's just like that?
Sister's been hanging around the Exotics lot nowadays, what with her guarding the way out. I wonder if she's gotten into that magic stuff too. Would be yet another advantage she could leverage over me.
Not that I can even leave, since I'd just get shocked until I pass out, unless I beat her at the very end.

To be honest, I'm still not sure those cards are going to do what I want them to do. Magic's not like tech, at least that's how I see it. We'll have to see how it goes in the upcoming fight. And with what Diagram said, I doubt we're going to be getting anything else magical coming our way any time soon.

>Nickel's Parasignia - could be full body manifestation.
That's... definitely an image. Now I'm imagining her strutting around with knives sticking out of her.
I'm not too experienced with fighting against other Parasignia users yet, so your considerations are really important for this. I didn't even know that could even be a possibility, since my Parasignia and Judicium's are pretty straightforward in execution.
Parasignia... science isn't a strong suit of mine. Diagram's talked about it on occasion, and
Melee combat against Nickel sounds like a bad idea anyway since she trains against Astrolysis on a regular basis. That meathead is much too fast for someone her size, and I don't have that level of size advantage either. I'd probably be diced up in the process.
We can talk more when it's time, but considering an opponent's Parasignia is going to be increasingly important as we progress, since it's a massive information disadvantage I have, as basically everyone else knows what my Parasignia is.

>This may sound weird, but Astrolysis likes you.
So what? She's still going to be in my way, and her hobby is beating the shit out of people near her. The reason why Nickel's her best friend is because she's the only other person who's perfectly fine playing knife-games with her, and because they don't mind actively cutting each other.
Me, I can appreciate a training partner, but not one that tries to maim you in the process, regeneration or not.
>You should get her out of the way next. Yall could really get along together.
If the rest of you are on board with that, I'd be glad to. About time I showed her who's really boss around here.
As for being friends with her...

I wouldn't know about that. You generally choose not to hang around people who've kicked your shit in, especially during the times you haven't asked about it.

There's some parts of her that remind me of myself... but that makes me feel irritated. Part of why I push myself is exactly so I don't end up like her.
There's a certain sense of bliss from being as straightforward as Astrolysis, but if I want to succeed... if I want to be someone that everyone can see as a shining example of what a hero is, I can't imagine that hanging out with someone like her's going to do me many favours. Even despite her strength, because nobody wants to be around her, she's shunned, considered a freak and a dumbass by others. I've already lived through enough of that.

Me, I'm going to be strong, but I'm also going to be smart. I'm going to have to make my strength undeniable, while also being smart with picking my battles. That's what I've got over Astrolysis. They say that you become like the people you hang around, so what could I gain from being around her?

I breathe in. The air in this facility's always felt a little off, a little stifling.
Being here... it's like I'm not truly alive. Just going from day to day.
Tomorrow's another step towards freedom.


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