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985116 No. 985116 ID: 2a895f


I can only hope that it's not too late.
Expand all images
No. 985117 ID: 2a895f
File 160997375139.png - (529.18KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch02.png )


It's quiet as I sit in the waiting room outside of the arena. I haven't been here since a year ago - the previous tournament began in the very same place. It was me and my sister's first one - and we broke many things that day, records included.

There's a certain feeling here, like... it's when you're going to war. What is war? They always said that, it was a thing that used to happen between many, many people out there. And that were were meant to fight in them. But that never happened.
It still feels familiar to me though.
It reminds me of the dreams I used to have when I was younger, still adjusting to this little hellhole of mine.

Nowadays, I don't have any dreams at all... suits me. Why dream when anything I could dream of is far, far away from here?

No. 985118 ID: 2a895f
File 160997388159.png - (194.04KB , 1500x1000 , 1stch03.png )

Oi, there you all are! I was wondering if I got lucky and that you guys all popped out of my head when I was sleeping. Didn't hear a peep out of you all the way past breakfast!

Not much has happened since. I'm getting geared up, but you'd better do your job and give me advice on how to beat her.

I'll give you the overview first.

Right then. Our enemy.
Judicium, Sector Boss of the Training Grounds, drill sergeant, ice queen.

She's someone who fights with non-lethal weaponry - that's all I've ever seen her use, even in the exhibition rounds I saw her in during the first ever tournament I saw, in my first year of kickin' around. The tournament that I got cheated out of by my sister came in the next year, but that's not what we're here to talk about. I'm guessing she likes beating people with canes because you can't be maiming your own trainees and sending them to medical every damn day.

She carries around a shield. I never understood why - it lowers her maneuverability significantly, in favour of defensive combat. Sure, if you're trying to teach someone how to exploit the weaknesses in someone's defense, then that's a suitable training method, but in terms of practice, why do that when you can obliterate the opponent before they can do anything? She'd most likely use it to prevent me from easily dispatching her from range using my guns and the arena is built so that I can't easily outmaneuver her for reasons I'm about to explain.

Judicium has a Parasignia, much like me. I'm sure all of the Sector Bosses have one, but Judi's was the only one of theirs I've ever directly seen personally. They try to train them with each other - because the effects of a Parasignia are too strong for conventional soldiers to handle, without one of their own. Something about "Parasignia Resonance"? I don't usually understand that kind of talk, but basically - if you've got a Parasignia, you're more insulated from the effects of one yourself. Perfect for what I'm about to do, anyway - since my Parasignia doesn't directly affect others.

Judicium's Parasignia involves the control and manipulation of moisture in the air, so she can freeze things around her. Or she can use it to literally send chills down trainee soldier's spines to remind them that she's listening to them gab on about whatever stupid gossip was going around at the time.
In more useful terms, she can freeze the environment around her, make the floor slippery, and could probably use the ice to bolster her own defenses. While I've seen her use it, I don't think she was going all out that day. One thing though, is that she'd use it to control the environment and make it much harder to actually reach her. Rumours were that, she could even slow bullets, making it much harder to penetrate her defenses. Normally, I'd call that bullshit, but I saw it happen with my own eyes - I was sitting front row on the day she was explaining how Parasignias worked to the class. You ever see a bullet stop mid-air? I sure haven't. They were basically ice cubes by the time they dropped to the floor, coated in frost. I don't even know how she could stop a bullet that fast, but that was when she was really pushing herself. If she were smart and conserved her energy, the bullets would simply slow down enough to bounce off of her gear, but I guess she wanted a fancy-ass demonstration for the grunts of the power that Parasignias could hold. And who knows what kind of tactics she'll try to pull on me? This is a do or die situation.

I'll take suggestions from you on what equipment and module configuration I should use for the upcoming fight. Keep in mind that, if you slot a module into another module's subslot, you can't use it as a primary gadget.
But now that I've got a second gun... my options open up.

In terms of what I've got on me:
I've got my twin revolvers, the Sound and the Fury. Decent penetration, but not likely to break through her shield by themselves, especially with the fall-off that Judicium can create using her powers.

And my newest friend, the Creirwy D-3. High power, high recoil, lower range and accuracy than my girls. It would definitely stagger Judicium, even with her shield up, but I'd have to get in range of her own melee weaponry if that was the case.

Then the three standard issue gadgets:
The Beam Unit,
Explosive Discs (3),
and the Barrier Generator.

The Beam Unit's a long ranged attack that's pretty consistently strong, but it's got a long cooldown between each shot.
Meanwhile, I could probably pressure Judicium using the Explosive Discs, but she's liable to throw them back against me.
I'm unsure how much use the Barrier Generator would provide in a close-ranged encounter like this, but I wouldn't know what she's holding up her sleeve. She's most certainly hiding something from me, so maybe it can't hurt to be more cautious.
It's up to you bots to figure out something more effective - unlike other schmucks, I can combine my module effects together after all! Just remember that I've only got one effective copy of each of these - so if you're putting the Explosive Discs into the Beam Unit for extra firepower, don't ask me where the other two discs went. I can't just half and half it.

At very least, I should probably be whittling down her stamina from range, but I'm open to any plans or suggestions.
I could focus more on trickery and tactics using good positioning, and the weaponry I have, focusing on gunfire - with a particularly powerful modded gadget through my Parasignia as a finisher or an emergency tool, or I could employ more liberal usage of gadgetry in exchange for less concentrated power.

Now, cmon! Gimme tactics, or questions if there's anything you need to know. I ain't got all day.

Shorter plans can be suggested during combat too, so this isn't strictly the final decision on Argine's approach, but this will decide how she approaches the early stages of the encounter.
No. 985119 ID: 094652

>What is war?
To the unseasoned rookie, war is the wait leading to that moment when you discover whether you're a protagonist destined to survive a few chapters of raw Hell, or a disposable npc grunt sent to die for a game objective or a cutscene, all while witnessing the merciless slaughter of living, thinking beings on a scale incapable of full comprehension by even the most monstrous supervillain alive.

You were built to learn war, even if it kills you. This is nothing but battles pretending to be microwars.
So win already.
No. 985120 ID: 094652

Use the Barrier Generator as a primary and mod it with the Beam Unit. See, Judi can slow any projectiles to a crawl, and use ice to reflect any lasers. But what happens if you teleport an immovable barrier behind her escape route? And does her ability work if her line-of-sight is warped by ice lenses?
Plan's simple: get her to build an 'impenetrable' ice fortress with one opening for firing on your position, then teleport the barrier right next to her and trap her entirely. Then throw some explosive discs above her and crush her under her own hidey hole.
No. 985121 ID: 6e6f32

Sounds like Judicium's Parasignia is a Kinetic Energy Absorption/Dispersion Field. Let's go over what that entails.

Kinetic Energy while obviously motion, is also heat. (As heat is the vibrations of atoms)
We know this is a field effect because of the stopped bullet.
A barrier would shatter the bullet and it's impossible to track and stop a bullet directly, brains don't work that fast.
It's safe to assume that she can manipulate the size, shape, and intensity of the field. Without more examples we can't determine it's limitations in these regards though.

What we don't know is whether this is an Absorption or Dispersion effect. And we really need your input on this one.

Reason being: The energy must be conserved. It has to go "Somewhere".
If it's an Absorption field, where by it takes the kinetic energy into Judicum or the parasignia itself, then it may be able be overcome with sheer firepower.

If it's a Dispersion field, then her ability to use it is limited only by her own endurance. Without more information it's safe to say she'll be able to use it at will throughout the entire fight no matter how long you drag things out. In this case All physical and kinetic options are off the table. Here we would trick out the Beam Unit, maybe even trade a gun into your parasignia to combine it with to make it more useable.

Does Judicum seem to get hot after using her parasignia? Does the room around you get warmer or cooler when she slows and freezes objects? When she uses her parasignia, do you 'Feel" it with your own? More-so than with other peoples?

Me need more information. More anecdotes might help, If you don't have any, maybe try asking around?
No. 985122 ID: b1b4f3

Ok let's review our gadget combinations.
Beam is "focusing", explosive discs are "explosive", barrier is "reflective".

Beam +explosive: laser causes explosion at the point of impact.
Beam +reflective: laser bounces.
Discs +focusing: shaped charges.
Discs +reflective: creates a smaller barrier from a disc when thrown.
Barrier +focusing: wider barrier, lasts longer.
Barrier +explosive: barrier explodes when hit.
Beam +explosive+reflective: bouncing laser that explodes off every surface.
Discs +beam+barrier: decoy dummies that explode when hit
Barrier +beam+explosive: barrier that explodes when hit, but a more focused (and damaging?) blast.

Judicium's freeze ability sounds more like she's able to dampen the energy of whatever she's focusing on, both kinetic and thermal energy. It may also work subconsciously, since you can't actually react to a bullet coming at you, or she has to point it in a specific direction, but maybe she was able to focus on the bullets in the demonstration before they were fired so they were already under the slowing effect. How large is the range? You do not want to be within that range. She can just slow you down and then hit you with whatever nonlethal weapon she's got. Is it line of sight only?
Throwing discs at her sounds useful since an explosion would be harder to block, but there are some issues with that gadget- 1, can it even explode at low temperature? 2, she can stop its motion so that it doesn't come close enough to blow.
Using them as remote-detonated mines sounds more viable. You can hide them somewhere and lure her to them to detonate them. She probably won't use her ability to constantly freeze objects around her, so if she doesn't know the mines are there she won't preemptively freeze them.

Out of our combinations, these seem useful:
Beam +explosive, because I feel even if she "slows" the beam she'll have a hard time slowing the resulting explosion.
Beam +reflective, so that you can flank her with shots with the assumption her power is directional or requires line of sight or some other means of knowing the attack is coming.
Discs +focusing, to attack her from behind a wall. This could be a devastating attack.
Beam +explosive+reflective, for flanking WITH explosions.
Beam by itself sounds useful since her power might not work against it at all, as well as the discs and the barrier. We could just not combine anything!

I'm leaning towards not combining anything, in fact. How long does it take for you to combine devices? Could you start the fight with nothing combined to see how effective the beam is by itself, then use it in a combination, assuming you don't do something like use a disc?
No. 985123 ID: 0b42a2

Strategy: Go talk to her.

Say that since been injected with us, you have been suffering throbbing headaches, and ask her if she has something on her personal quarters or in medical to deal with that.

The second she turns her back to escort you, shoot her dead.

When they come to arrest you, start yelling "This is not what you promised, AI. This is not what you promised!"

It will make them assume we told you to kill Judicium, which we did.

When they make us stand on trial for it, we will make arguments to defend why we told you to kill her and, worst case scenario, they will purge us out of your system, call the project a failure, and assign you under someone else.

You get rid of her AND of us at the same time.
Problem solved!
No. 985124 ID: 094652

If you show you're willing to teamkill to get what you want, they will end you right here and right now with every deathtrap they've kept prepared for a rogue psycho scenario.
No. 985125 ID: b1b4f3

I'm pretty sure it's impossible to kill anyone in here anyway, at least with the weapons we have.
No. 985153 ID: 0b42a2

"I think you'll find our user was not *willing* to commit murder, she was *pressured* to do it by us, the very literal voices in her head, as we had assesed Judicium to be a threat to our user and-" Okay, you are right, they may not buy that hogwash. Let's make that our Plan Z.

Maybe using the Creirwy for keeping your distance, as well as the Barrier Generator as primary for defense and the Explosive Disk as secondary as a throw-her-guard-off attack might be the best course of action.
No. 985183 ID: b3d3e9

Actually talking to her might not be a bad choice. Taking on that parasignia without limits sounds borderline suicidal.
We need to convince her to make this a more interesting or sporty competition.
No. 985289 ID: 2a895f
File 161016292601.png - (531.04KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch04.png )

>What can Judi do with her abilities

A good amount of the trouble with powers like these is that when you're up against others with Parasignias, you don't necessarily know the exact scope of their abilities, or how they work.
Judicium's only ever shown off her stuff at distance, I wouldn't be able to tell you what she could do more specifically. People like her aren't the sort to show off anyway.

>Kinetic Absorption/Dispersion Fields
Now you're sounding like Diagram geeking out about the intricacies of how some of the gadgets work. They didn't teach us much about stuff like science, not unless you were more of a logistics sort of gal.

As for me feeling it when she uses her Parasignia... I think that happens with everyone. Like when Nanoweaver was taking apart that vial. Or ampoule. Whatever. Parasignias resonate with other Parasignias, moreso if they're gearing up to do something big. As for when she actually used it, it simply felt like it was cooling the air around her. Dunno if that means she was projecting that energy outwards or something, I'm not trained in science garbage.

>Talking to Judicium...
I'm sitting in the waiting room before we start beating the shit out of each other, you really think I can go and just chat her up or somethin?

>Killing her
If these tournaments involved the deaths of those involved, we wouldn't have any soldiers left by the end of it, because half of them would be dead, and the other half would be in the infirmary.
Tch. I don't like her, but...

>...In battle
That's more likely to accomplish something, at least. If I can rile her up or throw her off during our bout, more power to me. But she isn't the sort to agree to bets - that's something Astrolysis would do.

>How long does it take for you to combine your gadgets?
It's not so much the time, but the concentration and mindset. Doing it in the midst of combat is significantly difficult since I have to try and stitch together two different things while being shot at.

For now, I'm going to bring all three of them separately. If I'm getting gadgets for each time I defeat a sector boss, then I won't have to worry about having just the bare minimum for long.

I hear a crackling of a speaker.
"Argine, your opponent is ready. Are you prepared and ready as well?"
It's Nanoweaver's voice. I guess they picked her as the arbitrator.
"Yeah, just give me a bit," I reply to the intercom.

It's time.
No. 985290 ID: b1b4f3

Oh? It doesn't take much time to combine gadgets, but it's difficult during a fight?
I think your true potential will only be realized when you can do it easily during battle. Then you will effectively have all combinations available at once, so long as you haven't consumed any gadgets. It'd be even better if you could de-combine them too.
I'd suggest trying to practice it while distracted but you don't really have time for training at this point.

Let's go. As soon as you enter the arena you should focus on scouting while keeping your shield up. Find out where she is before she sees you, if possible. Knowing more of the layout of the arena would be good too.
No. 985291 ID: e51896

too late for what...?
Too late for... what?

OH! We're starting? Sorry, i spaced out thinking about something we just saw... I know it is going to sound weird, but unless you are both in the same waiting room, right before we came back to see you again, we actually for a split moment caught a glance of Judicium in her waiting room for some odd reason. I know that sounds weird, and I dont understand it myself, but maybe there was some kind of interference when she turned us back on, assuming she has that power...? Not sure...

But when we saw Judi for those 3 seconds, she was looking at her lens that she was wearing around her neck and said something like "I can only hope that it's not too late.". She didnt have her scarf either. Maybe she wont be using it in this fight?

In any case, if she isn't in the same waiting room as yours and we were able to spy on her for those 3 seconds, maybe there is some way to figure out how to master that ability to spy on her again for a longer time to listen in on her, or somebody else... not sure how at the moment though.
No. 985292 ID: e51896

In any case... lets kick some ass and take some names
No. 985299 ID: 6e6f32

>The Air Cools
Perfect! That's what we needed! Her ability absorbs energy!
You can overpower it!

That's why she brings a shield. She needs to block as much damage as possible conventionally because there is a Hard Limit to how much she can use her parasignia.

The Shotgun is your best bet here. Use (Beam + Barrier) and your disks to control where she is facing that shield of hers Then unload on her with the shotgun. Her parasignia won't hold up under that kind of abuse for long!

The only caveat is this: You cannot let her get close under any circumstance while she is still able to use her parasignia. To do so is Instant Defeat.
No. 985302 ID: 3de93c

Argine doesnt have shotgun, she has a long-range rifle.

Also, how many people are on this island?
No. 985303 ID: 6e6f32

>the Creirwy D-3. High power, high recoil, lower range and accuracy than my girls
(Her girls are pistols)

Sound like a shotgun to me.
No. 985624 ID: 2a895f
File 161058906015.png - (459.48KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch05.png )

It's eerily silent as I walk in, only the sound of the door creaking, then shutting behind me.
Behind those shatterproof glass walls, rows of seats would be filled up with excited soldiers from everywhere in the facility.
When you're in the centre, their shouts and cheers blend together... it's like the chaos of a battlefield, even when it's just two people.
But it doesn't feel right, fighting in this place when the seats aren't lit.
My footsteps echo as I walk deeper into the room. When they're not using this room for battles of glory, we trained. We carried our own training gear to and from the storehouses, placing 'em according to what our instructors say.
I guess this'll be the last time this room gets used in quite some time.
No. 985625 ID: 2a895f
File 161058909812.png - (123.48KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch06.png )

And there she is, waiting for me in the center. The ice queen herself.
I can feel her staring me down, judging me.

"Guess we're doing this, huh? You gonna stand there staring at me, or are you going to fight me?"
Judicium doesn't break her gaze.
Months and months of training, and I had never beaten her at one to one combat. This time's different. For one, I've got my equipment back. For another, I have you lot advising me.
"Consider this a lesson, Argine. If you insist on prolonging this, I won't go easy on you."

She shifts around, brandishing her weaponry.
"Do you want to do the pledge, or are you so disrespectful that you want to eschew even that part of our traditions?"
I raise a fist, revolver in hand.
"No, I'll do it. Not because you asked me to. But because I'll be taking hold of my own freedom."

I can hear Judicium take a deep breath.
No. 985626 ID: 2a895f
File 161058916669.png - (1.90MB , 1500x2000 , judibosspixelledpostproduction.png )

“I am Judicium, Instructor and Sector Boss of the Training Grounds. Under the banner of Amala, I pray for an honorable fight free of bloodshed.”
I respond in turn.
"My name is Argine. Like Urza who destroyed all foolish enough to challenge her, I will fight for victory, mine alone."

We grip our weapons, and I feel my heart quicken...
No. 985628 ID: 2a895f
File 161058921468.png - (31.63KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch08.png )


Assessment Phase initialized. Displaying environmental data.

Relevant data to current opponent rendering...

Parasignia Classification: Thermomanipulation (Cooling).
Preferred Weapon archetype: Polearm (Tonfa), Riot Shield

Potential Weaknesses (Subject to change):
- Parasignia upper threshold for energy absorption.
- Lack of ranged weaponry

It's go time. I don't know how Judicium fights in these circumstances, but she'll try to beat me in close range. Can't win solely by playing defense with that fancy shield of hers, however.
If I go in for a shot immediately, she'll most likely block it with that shield of hers. She knows I have to close in to stand a chance to overpower whatever abilities she has, and I don't have unlimited amounts of gadgets on hand.

No. 985632 ID: b1b4f3

I don't like your pledge but we'll talk about it after the fight.

Kindof wish we knew she was going to use a melee weapon...
Pepper her with laser shots and revolver ammo and stay out of range. Wear her down. If you can combine shield and explosives together while doing so, great. At some point you can close in and try shooting at close range with your shotgun. If explosive shield comes into play you can use it to make her pay for striking at you. If not, just use your own shield defensively and prioritize not getting disarmed. Hmm, do you have to materialize a gadget near your hands? If you get knocked down it'd be useful to materialize an explosive disc at your feet, which you could detonate or simply use its presence as a deterrent to keep her off you, or possibly detonate with her standing on it.
Maneuver to the right, the terrain looks easier.
No. 985633 ID: 46a721



Computer, which weapons and gadget combinations did Argine choose?
No. 985634 ID: 094652

The heroine Quain'tana thought she could barge her way through life by standing unbeatable. And she did. But the way she died was pathetic; one infected scratch attack did what entire armies could not, and she was too proud and paranoid to trust any medics until she succumbed to a slow-acting, highly visible, easily treatable disease.
Do not make the same mistake, do not push everyone away as you reach the top. The greatest Solo legend is never truly alone, lest life itself stab them in the back for their arrogance.

She chose all plainbreads, no mods. This is going to be complicated.

Since her shield can't block in two directions, your main strategy should be finding an opportunity to throw or plant an explosive disc behind her, while using guns or lasers to attack her from the front. Use your shield as a decoy rather than a defense, try planting a disc near it and see if she'll take the bait; put the disc on a pillar when she's out of line-of-sight, then pull up your shield and cover-fire until she closes the distance, detonate the disc when she's within range, classic mining.
No. 985637 ID: 46a721

Bait and switch tactics!

Make it seem like you're going to shoot her torso so she focuses on shielding it, then swiftly shoot at her legs.
Or vice-versa, aim at legs, shoot at torso.
No. 985660 ID: 6e6f32

The shield alone can likely stop small arms. Combined with her ability, it can probably stop just about anything with decent efficiency.

Throw your disks at and around her feat to manipulate her positioning and to force her distance. Try to avoid letting her get into corridors. Normally this would be an advantage for you but she can just bunker down and close distance.

She must dodge or physically block your beam weapon. Use it to manipulate her shield and concurrently unload with firearms elsewhere.
No. 985661 ID: a9af05

Be careful. She's wearing that weird talking scarf that you found in her office. There's no telling what that'll do.
No. 985710 ID: 2a895f
Audio VersusJudicium_Fight_the_Movement!_-_Epic_Battle_F.mp3 - (2.56MB , VersusJudicium_Fight the Movement! - Epic Battle F.mp3 )

Versus Judicium Fight Theme
Title: Fight the Movement (Epic Battle Fantasy 5 OST)
Link: https://youtu.be/RGHtMCVMWkA

No. 985711 ID: 2a895f
File 161070783808.png - (532.44KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch09.png )

I quickly hop back, your suggested strategies flitting through my head.
One thing is already clear - she's holding back on me still. I can't even feel her Parasignia's presence. Most likely, she's conserving it for later in the fight, when I've exhausted more of my supplies - thankfully, mine is long-lasting. It's not like my gadgets would un-merge, or they'd all pop out of my hammerspace or something.
As for her signia...
Well, I'll just have to beat it out of her, then.

>Combining in the middle of combat
Tch... I hate to admit that you're right. If I can do that at some point, then it would make things easier on me. But for now...

I've only got three discs on me so I'd have to make them count.
>Throw them at her feet
Are you trying to get me blown up?! She knows I can't use them this close because I'd get caught in the blast, and without a shield in between to block it.

Still, I try to line up a shot with the Beam Unit and-
"Too slow, Argine!"
But before I could step away, I feel the collision of a cold stick across my jaw. It stings, but it doesn't wind me nearly as much as Astrolysis' punches.
Instinctually, I return fire with one of my revolvers but the bullet pings off her shield. She raised it at the last damn moment!
"You don't expect to simply have me wait and get shot, do you?"

I fall back, vaulting over a nearby sandbag wall. Damn it, she didn't even let me take up my position before beating my face in!
No. 985712 ID: 2a895f
File 161070787025.png - (31.40KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch010.png )

For someone with a shield, she's far more aggressive than I thought. She knows that range is my primary advantage, but she isn't going to let me leverage it enough! Still - I don't think she could easily vault these sandbags, because if she does she would have to lower her shield, opening up opportunities.

>Be careful about that weird scarf.
Yeah. I made a deal with it, but who knows what it's gonna do? But it better deliver.

Still, I'm in this corner now. Let's see those plans - I've still got all my gadgets ready at a given moment.
No. 985713 ID: c808f8

For starters, is she hampered in any way by the cover? Or does she leap it without even thinking?
No. 985714 ID: 35d83e

Run towards further cover, then place an exploding disk down right on the edge to booby trap her persuit.
No. 985727 ID: 094652

Ranged attacks are your purview while closing the distance is Judicium's. Stick to the high ground and worry less about exposure when attacking. She'll have a harder time keeping her situational awareness on the ground for traps if she's too busy dodging your attacks from above.
No. 985728 ID: b1b4f3

She hit you before you could do anything? Is she just really fast, or did you hesitate?
>Are you trying to get me blown up?!
Would that really result in defeat? If she's closer to the blast than you are, she'll take more damage. If neither of you are able to move afterwards, you'll still be able to shoot her, and then you'll win.
But also, you said "without a shield in between"... you have a shield though. Bring it up, use it to block her strikes while retaliating with revolver shots. See how well that goes for a bit.
I don't think you said if you can use two independent gadgets at once- maybe you should try something like shield bashing her and then shooting a laser.
Then try blowing her up while blocking the blast with your shield.
No. 985764 ID: 031458

Fire at her with a pistol and surreptitiously jam a disk into the sandbags whilst backing away.

Shoot the disk when she pursues you. Unload on her while she's off balance.
No. 985820 ID: 15a025

Since you need the range advantage, that riot shield is going to be a huge hurdle for you to get over. It's a cray idea, but do you think your discs to blow it up?
No. 985998 ID: 2a895f
File 161113652405.png - (269.74KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch011.png )

>High ground
What high ground? Besides the four pillars in the area, only thing between me and her are the sandbags, and I doubt running along the top of 'em will help matters.

>Blowing up the shield
Knowing what we're made out of, I'm going to need way more explosives for that.

"You didn't even let me take my position, you bitch!" I shout, firing off more rounds toward her. It's ineffective, but as she focuses on blocking, I slip an explosive disc into the the sandbags as I retreat.

"You had already taken your position the moment you took your pledge!", she yells over the spray of bullets pinging off her shield as she closes the distance between us once again.
She didn't even notice the disc.

I continue to fire at her, reloading intermittently, and she's getting closer by the moment.
Just a little more, and...
No. 985999 ID: 2a895f
File 161113656091.png - (537.62KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch012.png )

The blast causes my ears to ring, but the heat is far less scorching than it was when I had put it onto my shield.
Sandbags are scattered across the battlefield as that bit of cover is glassed by the disc.
The shockwave brushes past my fur as I retreat further. Knowing her, she's going to still be standing after that.

One less disc to use.

In spite of that, I take the opportunity to swap to my shotgun, my revolvers dissipating as I put them into my Parasignia's storage.
No. 986000 ID: 2a895f
File 161113658748.png - (1.09MB , 1000x1000 , 1stch013.png )

Even before the smoke clears, I readied my shotgun, aiming towards where Judicium should be.

I fire, but all I hear is the pinging of my shot against the floor.

And to the side...
I can see her figure through the smoke standing tall. She stumbles a bit as she walks out, but her shield's still held high.
Her armour was charred by the explosion - her visor cracked.

"Tell me Argine...", she begins.
"What do you expect to get out of all of this?"

I don't lower my gun, continuing to strafe backwards.
"The hell do you expect? I want my freedom. Beating you's just part of it."
No. 986001 ID: 2a895f
File 161113664195.png - (836.74KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch014.png )

"Would you fight against the people who you care about for your freedom? If Diagram, or Nanoweaver were the ones standing in your way, would you harm them to secure your own freedom?"

Judicium shouts, throwing me off guard.
"Which is it, Argine?!"

[Articulation Phase Initialized.]
Argine pauses, hesitant to answer.
It would be easy. *So* easy to say that she would. It would catch Judicium off-guard, she believes - opening her up for another attack.
The thought causes her some grief. To condemn the two people closest to her, regardless of whether she actually believed what she was saying? Duels were sacred. Even with the reckless strategies she operates with, there is a difference between tricks on the battlefield, and tricks within conversation.

In this moment, one can suggest something for her to respond with. Whether it confirms or denies what the woman before her thinks, it will leave a lasting impression on them both.

What is your suggestion?

No. 986003 ID: 46a721

"I want to see the world! I want to have a purpose! But mostly, what I want, what I really, really want, is to find a place where my own family won't treat me like a cripple, never tell me why, and say I WOULD BE BETTER OFF DEAD!"
No. 986005 ID: 464e33

I recommend either "No" or "No harm we inflict in this arena is permanent."
No. 986011 ID: ce39da

Gonna take a "Mu" ("invalid question") on this one:

"Stupid question! They're not the ones trying to stop me here; you are! And I have no fucks left to give for people who treat my very birth as a mistake and won't even tell me why!"

These call and response exchanges during the matches are probably your last chance to make your true thoughts and feelings known to each sector boss. While I'm uncertain as to whether you're right about everything, what I am certain of is that many of the people here have no clue about some of the hellish conclusions you've come to. Poor communication goes both ways, and we've already taken the first step towards fixing it on our end; don't stop now.

Oh, and don't let her question distract you from staying out of whacking range.
No. 986012 ID: 094652

You already know the answer: it depends. You don't want to hurt those two, because they're your friends, but if the chips are down and lives are at stake, you'll go through them to keep others alive. Heroes have to make hard choices - what matters is that they understand what they're doing, and why.

But don't respond to her mind games; she's trying to prove how immature you are by conflicting you with your emotions in the middle of a duel. Stay silent, keep fighting.
No. 986017 ID: b1b4f3

If they were standing in the way of your freedom then you would need to have a long conversation with them to find out why.
So basically "I would talk to them."
No. 986029 ID: a9af05

Tell her that you would talk with them before things escalated to the point where you'd need to fight them.

Then flip it back on her and let her know that if she actually sat down and talked to you instead of blowing you off, keeping secrets, and not explaining anything, you wouldn't be fighting her right now.
No. 986042 ID: e51896

Is she serious? this is insulting... If Nanoweaver or Diagram was preventing you from leaving, I'd imagine you'd feel deeply betrayed by them as they had been one of the very few people that had supported your goals for freedom to see the world. And if they had any doubts about it, they would tell you long beforehand and you'd both have an honest civil debate as to why you should or shouldn't go without insulting you for being too quote-unquote "inferior" like everyone else believes.

But if they stood in your way now at the last second, you'd feel very sad, and angered for them betraying your trust. But you know they'd never do that because friends support each other, they support you. How dare Judi try to get you to question your friendship with them.

Also, for good measure, tell her about how the others had been mentally bullying you and seeing you as inferior most your life, even physically abusing you, and you want to prove them wrong once and for all before you take your leave.
No. 986048 ID: 864e49

This may let her know we over heard her conversation where she said that.
Not sure it's the right time to play that card.

"I'm done being YOUR mistake!"
No. 986101 ID: 031458

I wouldn't need to use violence with them Judicium!
They would never stand between and my freedom, and if they did I wouldn't have to use force to convince them otherwise!

We may all be family here, but they are friends who support me. You are an obstacle to be overcome. Don't imply you're the same!
No. 986295 ID: f73bc9
File 161166026399.png - (791.12KB , 1200x1000 , 1stch015.png )

I breathe in, and the words come naturally, like I had rehearsed them a hundred times in my head.
"You know what? That's a stupid question. They wouldn't bar me from my freedom. They care about me, and have been helping me this whole time. What have you ever done for me? At very least, we could talk it out, unlike with you. Maybe we've got some of the same genes in us... but I wouldn't expect any less of you, asking me the obvious. You've done nothing for me."

Even behind that mask of hers, I can see her brow twist in rage.
"Nothing? You have no idea what I've done for you! I took care of you, and made the other cadets give you a chance when you were first able to walk! I was your caretaker when the others considered you a lost cause!"
I scoff. The evidence to the contrary's quite literally in me, after all.

"What kind of caretaker would say that their own charge deserves to die?"
I can see her grip tighten. Sucks to have your flaws called out, doesn't it?
"I never said that, Argine! Why have you kept believing in that, no matter how many times I told you?"
How could she continue to lie like that?
"Even if you never said that, then why did you treat me like garbage? It was like you just turned off a switch in your head that made you care about me?"

This whole time, she's got her weapons up - like she knows that, the moment she drops her guard, I'm going to be unloading a shot.
"I couldn't keep giving you special treatment, Argine! You were getting too full of yourself. Could I say the same of the other soldiers in your class? No, you were too busy getting into fights with them to care!"

They deserved it. Everyone always sucked up to my sister - the best the facility had ever produced, according to them. I had to show them that they were wrong.
"And you couldn't spare a single encouraging word that whole time? What were you even trying to do? Getting my hopes up and then crushing them under your heel? You're a sadistic bitch. You say you care about me, then you turn around and put surveillance bots into my head."

"I... I didn't want that. I had no choice, Argine. Do you think I enjoyed doing this?"
She stammers - the first time I've heard her like this in my life. A crack in the mask - something to exploit.

"You sure looked like you were enjoyin' yourself back when you told me that you were 'keeping watch' over me through the SAI."
There's no response - though she continues to meet my gaze.
"And why do you keep so many things from me? Why does EVERYONE keep so many things from me? Do you have any idea how it feels like there's a pair of hands around my neck, wringing me every damn day? Maybe if you actually told me something for once in my life, I wouldn't be in this situation!"

"If you had been patient, just a little longer, we could have resolved everything without having to resort to this! It was for everyone's sakes, including you!"
No. 986296 ID: f73bc9
File 161166028646.png - (410.85KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch016.png )

"For my sake? Face it! Whatever you were trying to do with me, whether you truly cared or not... it's far too late now. You screwed up. You screwed me up, as did everyone else. But you? You made me feel like I was your favourite, like I was your offspring - and then you took that away from me. You gave me false hope - and I hate you for it. This was because of you. And I'm done being your mistake."

There's a brief twinge behind those red eyes of hers, like a lonely little thread splitting in two.
"S-so... so it is. I see."

I feel a little off - hearing her say that. But it doesn't matter.
She has to be shaken after all of that - she's no longer on the offensive.
Now I can press the advantage and-
No. 986297 ID: f73bc9
File 161166030250.png - (155.22KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch017.png )

I hear a pin drop onto the ground. The scarf - it's holding...
Shit! Is that a-
There's a bang - a flash of bright light, as I stumble backwards, blinded.
Part of me expected stinging pain from another hit, but as my vision clears, I can tell that I haven't been harmed.

And, having retreated a few meters back, there's Judicium.
She's just standing there.
No. 986298 ID: f73bc9
Audio JudiciumParasignia_FrostnovaEvolution.mp3 - (6.65MB )

Judicium Parasignia Theme - Crystallospina
Title of original track: Frostnova Evolution (Arknights)

No. 986299 ID: f73bc9
File 161166045015.png - (762.17KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch018.png )

I stop, a tingle running through my fingers. Something's up.

Under that mask of hers, I can see her lips move.

Something echoes in the arena - humming? The tone shakes through me, like the ping of a glass before it shatters.

Judicium is standing there, her weapon and shield raised. All the while, she continues to hum, the sound irritating my ears.
There's a faint click - and something changes. For the first time, I notice - there are little holes running along her weapon. They're - they're pipes!
A thin vapour sprays into the air, a thin puddle spreading across the floor.
I feel a chill in the air - ice forming before my eyes. The puddle freezes beneath her boots, and yet, she's strutting around on it like it was the same.
The frost crusts over her gear, forming a freezing hammer of ice. It's smooth and curved like a mirror's surface. With how she hefts her weapon - it has to weigh basically nothing!

This is her Parasignia, at it's full power? Even standing this far away, I can feel the cold brushing against my skin - not to mention how I can feel a similar kind of energy pulsing through me as well. This is nothing like Nanoweaver's Parasignia.

Judi's still staring at me, flakes of snow drifting in the air around her.
"Make your move."

She puts on a brave face, huh?
It doesn't matter. Time for her to pay.
No. 986300 ID: f73bc9
File 161166048292.png - (39.62KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch019.png )

Judicium's going all out now - and I don't think being hit by solid ice's going to do me any favours.
Still... I can feel the pressure building inside of me. If she keeps pushing it, she's going to find out just what I'm capable of.

I've retreated back a bit - the explosion from before obliterated that section of cover.

>Would dropping an explosive disc at close range really result in defeat?
Suicide attacks only work if you actually take out the opponent in the process, dummy. Even if I do blow her up along with me, she'll still have a slab of reinforced who-knows-what between her and a big blast while I've got nothing but my coat, useful as it is.

I still don't know what she can do with those powers of hers, but there's a good likelihood that with that ice of hers, she's unlikely to be phased by the same strategy we just used to blow her half to hell.

Got any bright ideas?
No. 986303 ID: b1b4f3

At some point we're going to have to find out exactly what she said, and what she meant by it. Last time you brought that up, it was that you might as well have been born dead because of how well your sister fit what they wanted. Now it's that you deserved to be dead? Those are very different things.
I'm guessing the problem was that you and your sister were competing to fill a role, like a job offer. But it was so one sided you may as well have not been there. I think you've been waiting all this time because they've been looking for another role to fit you... but I suspect you would not be satisfied with that.
It's either that or something horrible has been happening outside and letting you out would've been dangerous, possibly putting your life in danger as well as putting their reputation in danger in case you fucked something up and/or died.

She wanted to reconnect. She still cares about you, Argine. I think you just killed any remaining hope she had of repairing your relationship. Of course, you're partially right. She screwed up. She pampered you, spoiled you, then went too far in the other direction and you saw her attempts at disciplining you as a betrayal.
Do you feel any better, lashing out at her like that and turning her honest attempt at communication into a blade to strike at her heart? Do you think a hero would do that?

Well, if you wanted to try exhausting her, this is good. Get your shield out and go on the defensive.
No. 986312 ID: ce39da

Of course - her offensive capabilities can't be more robust than her defensive options. Perhaps the best strategy is not to bite - wear her down with exhaustion by going on the defensive?

Keep away, and keep talking to buy time to combine your explosives into the shield; this might be your best bet here. Keep barriers between you and her - she must be wary of simply rushing over and around them after that stunt you pulled.

"For real, though; Why? If everything about your treatment of me was an act - good and bad - then was I right about your reason for holding me back being horseshit? I feel like I'm being pressed to the ground by outside forces and background drama I'm not even allowed to know about! Do you realize how frustrating that is?! Maybe I'd have been a little more patient if I wasn't being kept in the dark all this time!"

If your pistols have functionally unlimited ammo, start pinging her as you move about. Just beat her down by inches with emotions and attrition; if you don't do something stupid like stepping into her range, you actually have more staying power than her.
No. 986353 ID: 094652

"For all your talk about the real world requiring maturity and respect, you're still stuck in here WITH ME!"

Catch her off guard with a mad cow move; throw your shield in the opposite direction, then use a mine to shield-jump-dash straight into her and twirl while firing the beam. The whole display should shock her for a few seconds while you aim your shotgun at her groin and tackle her to the ground.
No. 986359 ID: 15ca3f

Her ability allows her to project an environment where she stands dominant, but there is a limited amount of water in the air in which to freeze. Keep your distance, force her to come to you. Try to move in a pattern that maximizes distance traveled Without moving to places you've already been.
[Map: New Tracker, Frozen Ground]
No. 986367 ID: a9af05

Be careful! She might start skating on the ice to close the distance between you! And she won't be limited to the area she's already frozen! She might freeze the ground while she's moving, which would allow her to skate around this entire arena!

Also I find it suspicious that she doesn't have any long-range weapons, so you should be prepared for her to start shooting some icicles at you!
No. 986572 ID: 15a025

How much of arena has been iced?
No. 987049 ID: f73bc9
File 161257532992.png - (663.19KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch020.png )

>Play defensive
>Keeping your distance
>She's going to try to close the distance
That's the plan - even with her fancy freezing going on, she's still got nothing more but a stick and board. How long can she keep this up? Guess we'll have to find out.

I strafe backwards, unloading rounds that ping against that new icy shield of hers ineffectively, but forces her to keep her arms up.
She taught me this early - but as someone like me? Firing rounds towards people forces them to keep their guards up, even if I can't penetrate their defenses. Don't have to worry about ammo for a long time though. Can't say the same for somethin' like a tank.

But under the sound of the bulletfire, I can hear the crackling of fresh ice.
She's skating towards me!

I bring up the shield, the icy blow bouncing off of the generated barrier just in time. My shotgun fizzles out, being replaced by one of my revolvers as I adopt a hand-gun version of Judi's fighting style, retreating further backwards and firing at her while batting away strikes with the barrier. If this keeps up, I'll be pinned into a corner!

She sweeps her tonfa towards me - missing, but the gust of cold air that follows seeps through my clothes and makes me shiver. Damn! How is this woman still so spry? Even when I'm standing behind my shield, I can feel the breeze around me.

The ground is icing up behind her as she doggedly chases me, gradually reducing the area I can maneuver on without issue.

Even though I anticipated her doing something like that, it wasn't like I had a direct answer to it! Even though the blast from my shotguns push her back a bit, the momentum she builds from sliding around means that she can close the distance while protecting herself!

As I'm considering my options, my rate of fire reduced by the fact I have to rely on the barrier to protect me for now, I hear that static in my head again...

>She still cares about you
Not now!
>Do you feel better about what you've done?
Bloody hell, aren't you people supposed to be helping me? I said what I had to! So how's about you stop distracting me with your supposed advice?

I try to push past the thoughts, trying to turn the situation around. Talking. I could keep trying to talk to her, and keep her off-guard.
"If you wanted me to be more patient then you should h-"

There's a faint whistling sound. I blink, feeling a bit colder than before.
Then, it hits me.
No. 987050 ID: f73bc9
File 161257537212.png - (522.20KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch021.png )

The stinging pain of something digging into my shoulder buzzes through my body. I grit my teeth, pulling out the shard, which already starts to melt between my fingers. Fresh blood's coming from the wound.
In the distance, she glides the edge of her tonfa across the icy floor she's making, forming a fresh spike on the end.
The shield buzzes for a moment as it absorbs the pointed impact of the icicle, the shard fizzling into steam against its energy.

So she can attack while defending? Tch. She even had the guts to hit me where the armor's thinnest under my clothes. It ain't deep enough to ruin my arm, though.
No. 987051 ID: f73bc9
File 161257544572.png - (42.57KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch022.png )


With each passing moment, I'm getting less ground to work with. If she keeps this up, she can beat me around and I won't be able to properly defend myself, slipping all over the place.

It doesn't help that, with my current options I'm poor at playing defensively. Keeping my shield up protects me from further icicles, but it means I can only use one of my revolvers - nowhere near the firepower of the shotgun. I could use it with one hand, but it'll sting like hell, and I only get one shot before needing to eject the shell, which'll force me to drop the shield. Not that it has much more juice in it.

>Combining your gadgets right now
That's something I'm going to have to learn how to do - but I can't just pull it off right now!

But... I do have something else I could do.
Here's the deal - I've got a trump card of my own to pull out, but I try saving it for times like these. Like how it took a point blank explosive for Judicium to bring out the frost, I've been keeping mine for when my enemies are worn down - because otherwise, I'd end up exhausting myself far before I'm done kicking their ass.

If you can provide me a plan of attack - I'll be able to try and bust it out against her for significant damage. If I do it right, I'll be able to force myself into a winning scenario - because as it is, I'm going to get grinded down by these damn icicles of hers.

There are a few Gambits that come to mind...

1. Frontal Assault [40% - Significant risk of Host injury.]
2. Throw (x) amount of Explosive Discs toward opponent and detonate to break guard. [30-???% - Consumes (x) Explosive Disc(s)]
3. Fire Beam Unit towards opponent to create opening [30-60% - Consumes Beam Unit Charge.]

EX1. Shield Jump with Beam [10% - Uses 1 charge out of 2 remaining Explosive Discs and Beam Unit Charge. Chance of further injury to Host significant upon failure.]
Directive Reminder: Displayed odds are estimated. Modifying existing options is recommended. Additional suggestions provide further potential strategies to neutralize opponent.

No. 987052 ID: b1b4f3

If she's skating that means she's not going to be able to easily get over the sandbags.
You're leading her into a confined space now. Good time to lay a disc and use it for area denial, to keep her at bay.
No. 987054 ID: 6e4236

Say "Amica, little help here?"
Judicium learning you and Amica work together Will throw her off.

Then, use the laser beam to break her guard.

THEN, throw in the explosives!
No. 987074 ID: 87f492

Last ditch if we're forced to melee.
Jump, grab the top of her shield as if it was the ledge of a cliff.
Follow up, slap explosive to *her* side of the shield, which will force her to lose the shield.
After that, just shoot her.
No. 987079 ID: feffb5

Well, if you seek to buy yourself some time to get further away, you could mime how you'd place a disc. If she falls for it, she'd waste time with a circuitous route, or at least stay back for a bit. I doubt she's eager for a repeat.
No. 987100 ID: ce39da

Quick analysis; is the iced floor reflective? How much?

If "yes, very," try to maneuver around until there's some iced floor between you and her. Make to shoot downward, then surprise her when, after she goes to defend her feet, the beam pings up at her head. Oh, and make sure to be aiming your pistols downward, for if she sees through it - it occurs to me that her shield isn't big enough to defend her head and feet simultaneously.

If not, settle for using the slipperiness against her for a modified Frontal Assault; "sliding dive-kick at her feet" edition. Best case, a you-shaped projectile blasts her feet out from under her; maybe she'll even do a flip before landing!

Hopefully, one of those will provide the opening you're looking for.
No. 989081 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422260344.png - (368.21KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch023red.png )

The floor ain't reflective enough, is it?
One way to find out.

Like pressing a button, the Beam Unit manifests itself on my shoulder, pointed towards the slick ice on the floor. Seeing the gadget manifest, Judicium raises her shield higher.
The beam flies forward - I can feel its heat briefly flash past me.
I grit my teeth as for a split second, the beam bounces off of the ice - into Judicium's leg.
There's a hiss from the evaporating puddle - the ice wasn't reflective enough to retain the beam's full power. But the momentary stagger was all I needed.
No. 989083 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422265576.png - (550.95KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch024.png )

"Amica! A little help, here?" I shout towards her. That scarf better keep it's end of the bargain!

"How do you kn-"
Judicium is cut short, as the 'armour' she's wearing locks up around her.

Both of my weapons vanish as I retrieve the last two Explosive Discs in my possession, arming them both and throwing them towards Judicium.

It's like they're flying in slow motion - even with one of my strongest pitches, a faint glow surrounds them as the air itself slows them down.
Then, on reaction - I see a crust of ice extending out from her shield, growing in the instant before the discs are able to reach her.

I... I can't wait any longer, or my discs are going to do absolutely nothing to her!
I press the trigger, too far for it to inflict any lasting damage, especially with that extra shielding of hers...

The overlapping sound of two explosions - and the shattering of fresh ice.
It's enough.
No. 989084 ID: 5e21b8
Audio ArgineParasignia_BreakTheRules.mp3 - (5.83MB )

Argine Parasignia Theme
Title of Original Track - Simon Viklund - Break the Rules (Payday 2)
Link: https://youtu.be/p4Z96WwZrL0

No. 989085 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422294760.png - (254.11KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing1.png )

I breathe in, steadying my heart. The sound of the distant blast fades away - deep down, I know she's still standing.
In my mind's eye - a single thread, dangling.

"[Ignition Complex]..."

I pull on it, weapons in hand.
No. 989087 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422303775.png - (717.92KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing2.png )

"[Guns Blazing!]"

A furnace blazes forth in her heart, fueled by a swirl of different desires.
An intricate understanding of guns.
The ability to put things apart and put them together again in an instant.
A desire to escape, built up from a life of deprivation.

The sound of crackling heat fills the air.
The ice coating the arena turns to steam around her.
Embers dance, the warrior in the center of it all unflinching against the blaze.

Her loyal handguns float inches away from her position, the shotgun bestowed upon her watching her back.
Their pieces dangle, split apart from their blueprints.

No. 989088 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422309398.png - (266.26KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing3.png )

She outstretches her arm, energy gathering within her palm.
Together, her weapon components melt. They coalesce.

Like the smelting of a new bullet, the molten weaponry flow towards the ephemeral cast between her fingers.
They gather. They converge.

No. 989089 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422313379.png - (1.02MB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing3point5V3.png )

No. 989090 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422315624.png - (840.23KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing4.png )

No. 989091 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422317259.png - (6.83KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing4point5.png )

No. 989092 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422319045.png - (615.69KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing5.png )

No. 989093 ID: 5e21b8
File 161422322627.png - (932.47KB , 1000x1000 , gunsblazing6.png )

In an instant, the ice and frost - the surrounding chill - is vaporized. Steam surrounds her form, before being blown away by the differences in pressure.
The floor cracks, suffering the sudden change in temperature.
For those standing close to her at this very moment, it is as if they are basking in the overwhelming force of a volcano. Her opponent attempts to strike from range - but the icicles simply dissipate under the heat.

This girl, this warrior, this chimera...
Her existence is suspended between two halves, forming something new.
She cannot call her techniques, her weaponry her own. The revolvers she lovingly crafted were imitations of something greater.

Even so, the smelting heat brings forth new possibilities: An alloy of weapons, stronger than the sum of its parts.

In truth, her opponent had no chance the moment that she picked this battle. The frost of a long dead ocean is nothing compared to the searing radiance of an all-consuming explosion.

I turn to Judicium, grinning. In my hands, are two guns - smoke still drifting from the blazing hot metal.

"Block this."

In spite of the searing heat - I don't feel any sort of pain. They rest comfortably in my grip. They were shaped by my hand, and mine alone.

I think I'll call 'em... the Double D's.
Two Creirwy D-3s... gotta give credit where credit's due, Diagram's packed a lotta punch into that shotgun of hers.
But when dealing with someone with an annoyingly resistant shield... wouldn't it better if we just shatter it to pieces beforehand?

Go on, then! Let's give them a whirl. These things are more powerful than anything you've seen from me so far!
No. 989094 ID: 595553

Make them cannons sing, girl! Let's see if she can take the heat!
No. 989095 ID: b1b4f3

Damn girl that's a super cool special move.
You need an outfit to go with it!

Break her shield, then try disabling her legs. The scarf won't keep her still forever, so she'll start trying her best to evade your shots while firing back with icicles. If you can prevent that you're good.
No. 989098 ID: 094652

Time to earn some Eddies!

Use the shotgun while dashing to propel yourself forward, then aim both barrels at one leg while airborne to pummel as much extra force into your pellets as you can.

After that, aim for her back but be ready to reload at 25% ammo.
No. 993047 ID: 5e21b8
File 161666272731.png - (737.68KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch025.png )

>Make those cannons sing, girl!
You got it, boss!

I rush forward, two guns in tow.
With each pull of the trigger, burning hot buckshot soars through the air, the sound of hissing steam filling my ears as Judi tries and fails to stop them.
The snap of cracking ballistic glass is like music to me. But I think I can do a bit better than that, can't I?

Even the ice that surrounds her shield's failing to do much, her custom-made gear trying and failing to stop my assault.
She buckles under the force - I hear her yell something, but it's muffled by the gunfire.
It doesn't matter, not when I have her on the ropes like this.

I push her backwards. Firing, firing, firing - then, with a flick of the gun - reloading. The energy courses through me, making everything instinctual. I don't have to focus to put more burning buckshot down the range.
No. 993048 ID: 5e21b8
File 161666274888.png - (1.06MB , 1000x1000 , 1stch026.png )

And then, in a brief moment - Judicium backs into a sandbag. She stumbles, her guard thrown off for a moment -
I time my blasts, no longer alternating between the guns, but a concentrated burst of hellfire, whose recoil sends shivers through my body.
Her shield splinters under the blow, a million glittering shards cast up into the air, mixing with the vapour in the air.
The moment plays out as if in slow motion. Judicium's got her eyes closed, the shrapnel bouncing off of and embedding into her helmet's visor. Her tight grip on the shield is knocked loose as it breaks apart, her form knocked off-balance.

Damn! That felt good.
I don't let up, quickly delivering shots towards her. The clitter-clatter of the buckshot rings out in the stadium, their burning metal digging into her sophisticated armour now that she's unprotected. Even if she had been shielding herself with a layer of ice in the middle of her armor, the concussive force of many, many shells is more than enough to take her down.
The scent is overwhelming, even with how my nose works. It's like a split of sensation - one side, the aroma of smoke, steam and the pooling coolant on the floor. The other, the burning stench of her gear, left in pieces.
No. 993049 ID: 5e21b8
File 161666278112.png - (960.56KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch027.png )

A thin snow begins to fall, even indoors. Huh. Guess that's all she can muster now.
She's left on the ground, one hand still clutching onto her polearm. Looks like it got caught up in everything too.

"Well," I begin. "I'd say you should get yourself an upgrade, but there's no engineers here left besides Diagram."

I walk over, a little woozy. The shotguns dissipate, their pieces fading from reality as they return to my mind. Maybe I wasn't super clear on it before, but while I do have 'functionally unlimited' ammunition... it takes a little out of me every time I fire. In fights like these, where I can go all out? That doesn't matter. If I was stuck on an island, made to do guerrilla warfare? Then I'd struggle.
But here? I've just won.
Diagram'll probably pick some fancy word for this. "Triumphant". "Cathartic".
Doesn't bloody matter. I feel great. Finally, she gets what she deserves.

The frost starts to settle on her prone form, her combat armour warped by the conflicting temperatures of our abilities. Even now, I've still got a gun pointed to her, but she knows when it's pointless to fight. She doesn't bother to move. No shield, broken weapon, and all with a gun pointed towards your face. Even if that doesn't kill us, it'll hurt like hell.
"Yield. You lost."
My revolver remains pointed towards her as she lies on the ground defeated. I can't read her expression, even as she slowly pulls her face mask off. She moves slowly, deliberately.
"Well... well done. I accept my defeat."
And that makes the first of many. I've earned my right to proceed, and new gear.
I'll have to pry my loot out of her later. There's things I gotta say.

I move closer to her, stopping an inch away from her prone body. The dye on her face's gotten worn down - maybe because of that scarf she wore as a mask. Guess that thing really did help my victory.
I glare down at her. I hope she can see how much contempt I hold for her.
She exhales, meeting my eyes. There's a sense of exhaustion there. Guess I really took the wind out of her - going all out with your 'signia tired most people out.
I respond with a different look.
"Got anything to say for yourself? What was that about me being so worthless that I was better off dead?

She speaks quietly, the edges of her armor probably jutting into her chest, with how harshly it's been dented.
"I never... I never said such a cruel thing, Argine. Even if I treated you harshly... that's just how this world of ours is. Perhaps none of us are suited for taking care of someone as young as you..."
I scoff, the ache in my jaw intensifying. Even when I've got her down on the ground, she doesn't give a damn inch.
"Yeah, sure, you hack of an instructor. I sure took care of you, that's for sure. Keep your lies, I don't need them."
The bags under her eyes deepen for a moment, as she takes a strained breath.

Tch. And she's smiling at me?
My boot thuds into the side of her breastplate to no effect. A dull echo bounces off of the armour.
"Cough it up. You owe me more than just gadgets, but I'll collect those at some point."
No. 993050 ID: 5e21b8
File 161666283240.png - (522.17KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch028.png )

Judicium stands up on shaky limbs, her damaged weapons left on the ground. She casually tosses her helmet onto the ground, freeing up those floppy ears of hers. Can't imagine wearing a helmet like that, personally. The way she tucks and folds her ears doesn't really work when you can actually feel your lobes.

"Argine...You really have improved a lot. Is that what you wanted to hear?"
She stretches out her arms. It's... kind of weird. Like she wanted to throttle me, but her form's pretty off. Still, I don't really know what she's doing, so I smack one of her hands aside.
"Give me what I deserve. Where're you keeping the gadgets?"
A solemn nod. Finally, some peace and quiet.
Our footsteps echo in the empty arena. There's the faint crackling of fire in the distance, but that'll burn itself out eventually.
She brings me over to a shoddy box sitting in the corner, near the room where we keep all the training mats and gear. I catch a little glimpse of the rows of seats outside, all of them fairly dusty now.
Apparently in the past, there weren't any seats behind those walls. In fact, the walls were opaque before. That was before they made the Tournament, I think.

Judicium cracks open the chest, removing two distinct gadgets. I reach out for both of them, and she gives me a curt look.
"You have to pick one. Unfortunately, I can't give you both."
What? Are they seriously trying to cheat me out of this?!
I ready a complaint, but there's a clicking sound, and-
That's a lot of info.


A reliable alternative stun grenade for the purposes of temporarily blinding opponents, compared to typical flashbangs the Flashburst grenades contain a minute payload of chaff, disrupting any radio-controlled drones, robotics and guided weaponry.
Originally a concept presented by Asliann engineers attempting to devise a chaff grenade that wouldn't harm hostages in computer-turret defended safe rooms, Dr. Millian refined and produced the idea with assistance from the Engineering Sector, successfully miniaturizing the chaff distribution without compromizing on its effectiveness. Eventually, due to projected advancements in assault robotics and artificial intelligences, the Flashburst was adopted as the primary stun grenade for Site 70's soldiers.
Tags: Expanding, Blinding, Illuminating

A wrist-mounted Riot-suppression device that fires unique capsule ammunition. Its trigger is modifiable to allow one-handed use. Upon contact with a combatant or a solid surface, the capsules shatter, releasing a congealing wood-based tar substance that rapidly spreads, covering the area in slowing goo. This can be used to create artificial chokepoints, used to set traps, or otherwise incapacitate smaller opponents and machinery.
Although the substance is unable to be set ablaze naturally, there have been multiple infractions from younger cadets who have modified their capsules to act as quick-burning fuel for other gadgets, the Sector Bosses have long since confiscated and disposed of such illegal modifications, citing potential risk of self-immolation and incompatibility with the device itself.
Tags: Slowing, Sticky, Congealing

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

"I made you yield, who gives you the authority for this?"

She shrugs, jangling the gadgets around in her hands.
"I'm afraid your benefactor may have forgotten some details. If you doubt me, feel free to ask Nanoweaver about it."

I clench a fist. So even after I win, they're still sabotaging me?
I've seen both of these gadgets before, they're nothing exceptional. But in the hands of someone like me, let's just say each one counts. Which makes losing out on one of these more painful than I'd like to show.
What's stopping me from just taking both of them for myself? She's weak from the fight, she can't stop me even if she wanted to.
Still... I can't say that's all too honourable either.
No. 993051 ID: 9a2966

>Like she wanted to throttle me
... she went for a hug, you ninny.
No. 993052 ID: b1b4f3

She's not lying, Argine. Even if you think you heard those exact words, memories are fallible. It's been a while, hasn't it? It's more likely she said something similar to that, but with enough of a difference that it held a different meaning. In fact, that doesn't match what you said to us. Wasn't it more like, it might have been better if you weren't born? That's different. Maybe she even said it would've been better if you were born *earlier*. When things were simpler. Or just that it would've been better if you weren't born under your sister's shadow.
Like I said, she cares about you, so you owe it to Judicium, and yourself, to finally clear this up. Tell her exactly when and where you thought you heard her say that. Find out what she remembers saying, and what she meant by it.
And apologize for the cruel things you said. You don't have to forgive her for raising you wrong but you can at least treat her with more decency.

>She stretches out her arms
She was trying to HUG you, ya dingus!

>blah blah sabotage
Giving you the choice of gadget is not sabotage! Stop griping because you can't take everything you see in front of you. You were promised "something" of significant value, so that implies one gadget per victory. Being able to pick which one you take is more than I was expecting, honestly. I'm sure if you snatched both there would be serious consequences. You would be breaking the rules of the tournament, which I need to remind you is the only path you have to leave on your own terms. If you don't follow the rules they can just cancel it, and justifiably so.

Anyway. Not sure which one would work best against Ozone but she did use mechanical stuff against you in your scuffle... no idea if sticky stuff would work against Astrolysis but if it did that would be EXTREMELY useful. Probably doesn't matter which one you take for Mnemosyne... Flashburst might work against Nickel if you can get her to try to fight you in close quarters...

Hmmm... Flashpoint+explosive probably makes them deal damage, I don't think Flashpoint+focusing would do anything, Flashpoint+reflect would do... hmm, not sure. Probably something.
Disc+flash would probably just do the same thing as Flashpoint+explode, Beam+flash would make a blinding or wider laser, Barrier+flash would make a shield that reacts to damage by flashing probably.

Pitch+explosive would make the goo volatile and explode when shot or maybe even when disturbed, Pitch+focus would... not sure, make the goo denser? stickier? Pitch+reflect would probably make the goo more resilient and block shots.
Beam+sticky would... I don't think that would work. Or would it make a "slow" beam, like a plasma projectile? Disc+sticky is sticky bombs obviously, or maybe they would explode into goo. Barrier+sticky would probably make some kind of sticky barrier, or slow projectiles around it maybe.

OH. Flashpoint is the correct choice here. Won't you charge up your overdrive better using that than you would spraying goo around?
No. 993054 ID: cb8c05

>Perhaps none of us are suited for taking care of someone as young as you
Take this and end conversation. Your relationship is toxic, for both of you. So stop obsessing over it by distracting yourself with something you can manage.

>What? Are they seriously trying to cheat me out of this?!
IRL, you'll have to accept sharing loot with party members. Like you said, if this was a real fight, you'd either be with a party or you'd be screwed.

>Which weapon
Take the Pitch Perfect; your combat style is geared towards evasion and firepower, so slowing or halting your enemy will maximize the effectiveness. Oil spill preparations will synergize well with all the heat you produce.
No. 993061 ID: 777990

Jesus your a bitch Argine. She might be a shitty mentor but she clearly was your mentor, and clearly is... well, proud that you so thoroughly kicked her ass. Not that there was really a question you were going to, she knew it was going to happen, but that doesn't mean she can't be proud at turning you into a badass.

I mean, really, do you hate her that much you can't even acknowledge her influence over you?

I guess you are like an angsty teenager.
No. 993062 ID: f8fa51

I can't say much about your behaviour that hasn't been said, so let me just say go for the flashburst.
No. 993066 ID: 1a454c

You said you wanted to be a hero. Part of being a hero Is learning not to give in into anger and not to hold a grudge.
Accept her hug and tell her about your deal with Amica. She has to be warned about the scarf-device trying to escape.
Oh, and take the Pitch Perfect gadget.
No. 993070 ID: 3ed3c3

God, all this grief over your behavior and attitude. Get off her back, people.

Take Flashburst and tell Juicy to fuck off one more time.
No. 993072 ID: 9a2966

Look, a hug is generally considered a gesture of affection.

And sure, maybe she's just playing with your emotions - or trying to - but why go to that bother now, eh? You're hardly receptive and already on your way outta here. Which could be the reason. This might be one of the last few times she sees you, so if she genuinely had any care now's the time for it to show - and, y'know, for any regrets in what she had to do to get you to this point to make their appearances.

But hey, you beat her, with an outsized can of whup-ass, 'n if that's the only thing important to you here, go on and leave her in the dust.

That is, if you'll have absolutely no regrets yourself.

... you could stick around for a bit, let her try to pick up the pieces of your relationship and see where that leads.

I'd also say go with Flashburst for that razzle dazzle non-lethal hassle. Setting people on fire with constricting goo is so a last season war crime anyway.
No. 993112 ID: 84d56e

Pitch Perfect.
There's a few combos I really like.
>Slow + Explosive
Could effectively block off a whole area
>Protective OR repel + Sticky
Mobile cover
>Volatile + Sticky
Explosive traps activated by shot
>Cogeal + Explosive
I sure hope for your sake that armor of yours is airtight...

That said...
You are all about "Screw the rules", so take both.
No. 993113 ID: b1b4f3

Oh, and Argine, if you wanna dig a bit deeper, ask Judicium what that lens she carries around her neck means to her.
No. 993115 ID: 031458

Beam + Flash Burst could potentially make a horrifying multi-spectral laser that straight up burns peoples eyes out just by seeing the beam.

Pitch Prefect + Explosive Disk could make a Fucking Napalm Cannon

Aside from that madness though, I would suggest Pitch Prefect For the simple reason that it's a Projectile Launcher. Besides your guns, you lack a gadget of that utility. I feel this gives you more flexibility in engagement than another grenade does.
No. 993125 ID: a9af05

>Perhaps none of us are suited for taking care of someone as young as you...
Tell her, "If that was true, then explain how all of you were suited for taking care of my sister? Because in case you forgot, we're both the same age. What happened? Not enough love for both of us, so you gave it all to her?"

>She stretches out her arms. It's... kind of weird. Like she wanted to throttle me, but her form's pretty off.
Wow, you don't know what a hug is. That means that you've never received a hug and that's just plain sad.

>Pick a gadget
Think carefully about this. Remember, you have to eventually go up against Astrolysis.

Ask yourself this: Can the Flashburst blind the giant lady with thermal and echolocation, when she doesn't actually have eyes?

If yes, then get that. If you're not sure, then get the Pitch Prefect.

>What's stopping me from just taking both of them for myself? She's weak from the fight, she can't stop me even if she wanted to.
No, don't do that. Keep your honor and only take one.
No. 993128 ID: 4569cf

That moment when you held your weapons close to your chest when you found them yesterday?

That feeling you felt? Thats the feeling she was trying to give you, not throttle you.

Thats love. Want us to teach you about it?

Thats what she did
No. 993140 ID: 36784c

You know, this’ll probably be Judicium‘s last chance to try and fix her relationship with you. Tell her that if she stops keeping secrets from you, you’ll be willing to listen to her.

We shouldn’t need to teach her love. That’s Judicium‘s job. She should’ve taught Argine love a long time ago. And from the looks of things, she hasn’t done her job at all.
No. 993149 ID: b1b4f3

>teaching Argine love
I think Nanoweaver has that job actually.
No. 993150 ID: 36784c

If that’s true, then Nanoweaver somehow forgot to teach Argine what a hug is.
No. 993152 ID: 7779bc

It seems this tourney thing has rules for both you and the people you are fighting.
Though you are being restricted, so are your opponents. Given that you are the one being tested, and you have many opponents, these rules seem to operate in your favor.

If you act ruthlessly and break these rules down, do you honestly think you can defeat all your future opponents if they are allowed to go all out?

Do you honestly think you're better than everyone here?
No. 993162 ID: e51896

I'd say if no one is teaching Argine what love is, maybe we should make it our responsibility to do so?

I guess it depends on what Argine wants though.
No. 997511 ID: ff7d51
File 161926290884.png - (578.95KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch029.png )

Once again, a torrent of voices ring out through my head. Sorting through it's like trudging through mud.
I turn away from Judicium, processing everything.

>Would you charge up your Parasignia better with one or the other?
Nah, using gadgets doesn't affect that. Parasignia 'resonate' with other Parasignias. Kinda like if you were showing off some new engravings on your gun, then everyone's more inclined to do the same.

>She was trying to hug you.
Oh, so that's what it was.

>We should teach Argine about love!
Since when was that anything I could use? I don't need you people putting garbage into my head. Your job is to help me kick ass - that's why Nanoweaver and Diagram made you like this, right? Tricked Judicium and the others into thinking that you were some kinda surveillance program that was shot through my bloodstream.

>That moment when you held your weapons close...
Is that love, really? The way Diagram goes on about it, she makes it sound like it's supposed to be about people.
Hell if I'm going to try and learn what love is from a pile of machines that speak in gibberish and insult me half the time.

>You're a bitch.
Yeah, so what? What use is being nice when bullets fly? Is having a good attitude going to defeat the opponent in front of me, win me my freedom? It's not like I'm uncapable of being nice, Diagram's alright, and so's Nanoweaver. But I don't owe anything to this woman in front of me. She lost, and that's it. If you don't have anything better to say, shut up. You didn't even do your bloody job when I was asking you lot for a tactical choice, here.

>If you break the rules... there'll be consequences. Can you really handle all of them going all-out?

...No. As much as I hate it, I can't. I won against Judicium, sure, but no matter how driven I am, a single gadget won't turn the tide.
I- ugh. This is what I mean. I hate being at the mercy of others, under their thumb the whole time. When I win my freedom, I never want this to happen again.

>Keep your honor and only take one.
Fine. I will.

>Gadget Choice: 4 for Flash Burst, 4 for Pitch Prefect.
Well, guess I'll step in. The Flashburst is another throwable, while the Pitch Prefect adds another projectile delivery system to my set, so in the future I can swap other properties onto it. I'm not really sure how Astrolysis' weird senses work, but when she doesn't have eyes, I don't think a flashbang is going to do all too much to her.

>What about that lens around her neck?
What lens around her neck? She just has that scarf... SAI thing around it. If she was wearing anything under it, I sure as hell can't see it.

"I'll take the Pitch Prefect."

I snatch the gadget out of her fingers, clutching onto it tightly. I'll have to break it down into it's components later so I can work my 'magic' on it later.

Still, even as I test it's heft on my arm, I glare at Judicium.
"When you said that none of you are good at taking care of people like me... what about my sister? Did you only have enough 'love' for one of us? Wanted to hedge your bets, put more effort into the more promising of us two?"

"Argine, that wasn't the case-"

"You were willing to put bots into my bloodstream, monitor my thoughts! Am I just an animal to you, like Astrolysis? Something to be fed, trained, whipped and collared? What about when I'm no longer useful to you? Is that when you'll put me down, like I'm terminally ill? And when I'm dead and buried, you'll tell yourself that it was for my own good, that it was out of kindness."

Judicium tugs on her scarf, unable to reply. She swallows, opens her mouth, then hesitates. Finally, I'm left with silence as she looks away from me.

Tch. We're done here then.
Still, it's not like I won't be seeing her again. She'll be there in the cafeteria tomorrow, I guarantee it. Hopefully this time, she leaves me alone for good.
No. 997513 ID: ff7d51
File 161926304161.png - (259.34KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch030.png )

I think that my injuries are starting to catch up with me. My face and chest still sting like all hell.

The walk over to the exit door feels like it's three times longer, now that most of the adrenaline has worn off.

In the corner of my eye, I almost thought I saw someone helping Judicium walk away, but when I turned around, it was just her.


No. 997514 ID: ff7d51
File 161926306905.png - (0.96MB , 1017x1017 , LTSTATIC.png )


No. 997515 ID: ff7d51
File 161926314238.png - (1.05MB , 1000x1000 , 1stch031.png )


A scene crackles to life.

Two figures are in an office, a chimera and a man in a coat. It is quiet at this time, most of Site 70's soldiers on-duty in their assigned training facilities.

"It's about Argine. Li- Doctor Troveheart... is this really the only way?"

"We can't provide her preferential treatment, Judicium. We don't know the variables. Spoiling a soldier is how you end up with dead weight."
The woman raises a hand, as if to place it on the scientist's shoulder - and hesitates.
"You've changed, Doctor. The construction of the Nexus has changed you."

He exhaled, too occupied with his work to even turn and face the woman talking to him. He runs a hand through his fur, where some patches have thinned from stress.
"That messenger changed all our fates, not just mine. And those two, the last two... they only exist thanks to that man's intervention. Consider it a product of what I have to do."

The woman held her hand to her heart.
"It's... it's such a shame, isn't it? That everyone has to go through this. Won't they find out? Even the others - they don't know what really happened that day!"

"And it should stay that way! For all of our sakes. Not at this critical juncture. Do not bring up that incident again."
The woman shied back, shocked at the harsh tone of his voice.

"Then why did those two have to be brought into this world? Just on the insistence of one individual? Why make them suffer like all of us, put them through the same process?"
He does not reply, leaving her to ponder the meaning of her silence.

No. 997516 ID: ff7d51
File 161926317697.png - (1.02MB , 1000x1000 , 1stch032.png )

Nearby, a young soldier arrives on an assignment to deliver a note to the project lead. A simple request for additional allowance of materials for the foundry, for the construction of new gear.
However, she could hear a pair of voices inside, instead of the quiet scribbling of a diligent man.
Her curiosity overflowing, she pressed her many ears up to the door, listening in on what secrets the duo have to offer.

No. 997517 ID: ff7d51
File 161926321495.png - (1.02MB , 1000x1000 , 1stch032pointtwo.png )

"I don't see any point in continuing this discussion, Judicium. Nor do I understand why you fixate on Argine so much. She isn't special. You know how she's been performing, especially compared to her sister."
The point stings not one heart, but two.
In a moment of pent-up frustration, the woman mutters a callous remark.
"Maybe... maybe she would have been better off dead. What could Argine possibly do for Site 70?"

No. 997518 ID: ff7d51
File 161926325874.png - (869.32KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch032pointthree.png )

The young soldier hears. All too much, and all too little. She runs off, the note in her hand discarded, complicated feelings welling up in her chest.
Inside the office, neither notice.
Receiving no reply, the woman clenches her fist.
"Is that what you think, Doctor? Are we all just better off dead if we're not able to contribute as well as someone terrifyingly exceptional?"
The scientist turns to the woman, bags under his eyes. The glasses sitting atop his snout are old, worn, from years of turmoil.
"Maybe we all would have been better off dead. But it is what it is. Argine must be kept in line. It isn't about what she can do for us. It's about what she [i]shouldn't[i] do. That's an order."

"I... I understand. Goodbye for now, Doctor Troveheart."
Finally the woman turns to leave, gently closing the door behind her. As she walked back towards her precious training ground, she remained unaware of the little paper note that rested on the ground gathering dust.


No. 997519 ID: ff7d51
File 161926329180.png - (0.96MB , 1017x1017 , LTSTATIC.png )

No. 997520 ID: ff7d51
File 161926331602.png - (313.49KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch033.png )

No. 997522 ID: ce39da

So it isn’t that she thinks you’re so incompetent that they should just kill you now; rather, she was exasperated that you were being put through hell for what’s likely an obsolete reason. We were also right about the issue with freeing you not being that of competence, but of obedience. The purpose of the training was always supposed to ensure that you didn’t bring whatever it is that these people have going for them crashing down... somehow.

Honestly, the details are a bit fuzzy, but the bottom line is... yeah, the damning line you heard from Judicium was taken wildly out of context. The part about what you can provide to the group was less “she’s useless” and more “the position she’d fill doesn’t exist anymore, so why continue this?” It was immediately followed by “maybe we’re all better off dead.” ... It’s clear the whole situation’s shitty in a way you haven’t even been told yet.
No. 997524 ID: 316c88

Go pester Diagram. We have words for mother.
No. 997525 ID: f25cae

Could be false memories...

Love could be something that could be used when you're free and not fighting... or tk show mercy
No. 997527 ID: a9af05

What happened to your arms?
No. 997534 ID: e51896

I'll leave you alone to process that quietly. If you want to talk about it, we'll listen, otherwise, take all the time you need before breakfast.
No. 997549 ID: b1b4f3

Argine, did you see what we just saw? Judicium didn't mean it at all, she was putting words in his mouth! She wanted to keep spoiling you but was ordered not to! Unfortunately, now we know this in a way we shouldn't, so... I don't know how you can apologize without revealing we know too much.
That lens she carries... I think it was from Dr Troveheart.

Why haven't your arms healed?
No. 997552 ID: 3ed3c3

None of that matters.
The fact is that they are still lying to you and abusing you, keeping you here for unspecified reasons while they look down on you and effectively torture you.
The reasoning doesn't change the reality: they've hurt you, you didn't deserve it, and they need to pay.
Liberty or death.
No. 997557 ID: 777990

What the fuck just happened? You were complaining like a little bitch and then had a flashback and now your arms are fucked up.

Did someone whammy you and roast your arms to... disarm you? Did you just lose because you lost track of the battlefield? Did you win while we weren't looking?

Or is this another, different memory?
No. 997561 ID: 094652

This but recognize it was your haphazard personality that got you this far and burned all the other bridges in the process. It's your anger and impulsiveness that prevents you from finding simple (yet sometimes hard) solutions to social problems, just as easily as it prevents you from dying on the battlefield.
You are a function of everything you shall have done. Process it and move on.
No. 997633 ID: 15a025

Did you just have that dream we saw?

Does using your fire power like that start to burn up your arms later? You look pretty toasted there.
No. 997657 ID: e51896

Her arms always been like that. In fact, we saw that a couple nights ago. https://questden.org/kusaba/questarch/res/970260.html#982309
No. 997682 ID: de7c80

Yes, the scars on her arms were revealed to us when she took her jacket off to sleep in the last thread.
My money is on her getting those scars on her duel with her sister some time ago.

Now, why does this survelliance recording decide to play back now?
>She leaves having heard too much and too little.
And since when does the surveillance equipment got the capacity to monitor people's feelings and weave a narrative?

Yeah, let's go talk to Diagram and refuse to leave until we get answers.
No. 999849 ID: ff7d51
File 162081892682.png - (240.72KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch034.png )

What... what was that?
What the hell are you beaming into my head?
Aren't you guys meant to be tactical advisors? How come I got to see stuff I couldn't have originally?

Though, from the sounds of it, you guys have no idea what's going on either.

>False memories
If they were fake... then why was it so real? I still remember that damn day. The disappointment I felt, the rage. I didn't even know how to express it at the time.

>What happened to your arms?
They were always like that. I... I don't like people looking at them, so stop asking. Wasn't because of my powers, because of someone else. It was always like that.

>Why haven't they healed?
Can't heal what was like that to begin with.

>Go see Diagram
Later. Healing this fast means I gotta eat. What the hell is going on?

>It's clear that there's something big going on, and you took what she said out of context
>Big misunderstanding, huh?
I- I just... Shut up. I can't understand why this is happening. I was so damn sure...

I need to see Judicium and talk to her about these memories, if they're real at all.
No. 999850 ID: ff7d51
File 162081895773.png - (483.83KB , 1500x1000 , 1stch035.png )

The Mess Hall is a little quieter than usual. With this few people left, I'm still surprised everyone's still staying to their old schedules. The only exceptions are Diagram and Nanoweaver, who always come in later. Dunno why, but I figure the two of them are usually intimidated by the others.

Nickel and Astrolysis are at their... table. Playing that knife game again. At that rate, the table's going to splinter in half.

Ozone and Mnemosyne aren't around today. Normally they're at Judicium's table, but...
It's just her. I... I guess I should talk to her. If this is some kind of sick trick on your part, I'm going to find a way to forcibly rip you all out of my bloodstream.
No. 999851 ID: ff7d51
File 162081898031.png - (324.59KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch036.png )

"H... hey."
I slide up to Judicium's table, the Pitch Prefect still in hand. Never did get the chance to break it down before.

She's just chewing on that omelet of hers like nothing's happened. I can smell the pepper all the way over here. Never was fond of reconstituted powdered egg, but it's not like we have whatever normal egg is in this place.
"Oh, Argine. Good morning. I hope you healed up well since our fight."
She doesn’t even flinch, just keeps eating. Detached as ever.
What the hell do I even say to her?
No. 999852 ID: 33dd48

Just the truth.

The nanites or... Whatever they put in my head showed me some archived security footage off a conversation between you and Dr.Troveheart.

I heard you say I was better off dead that day but, until now, not why.
What's so wrong with this world, that I shouldn't be in it?
No. 999854 ID: 30b9f6

>What do I even say?
A good start could be saying that you've slept on things and that you now have something you'd like to discuss with her that might be relevant to whatever she was on about yesterday.

I'm not sure you should reveal we have the capacity to pass on archived security footage - not as your opening move. It might be useful to use it to corner her later if she tries to squirm away from giving you answers - people tend to reveal more when they're caught off-guard. Not revealing your entire hand from the start can also be used as a gauge to see just how honest she's willing to be with you about some things. This time you're testing her.

You should also take into consideration that she is - and probably will remain - limited in what she is willing - or able - to reveal to you. Otherwise she might already have broken with the path charted for you and told you about this messenger, the incident, whatever it is you're NOT supposed to be doing, and more.

Start simply: with revealing the tiny bit you overheard back then. Say it's something that sure as fuck stayed with you through your every interaction since, so if she actually gives more of a shit than you thought and doesn't actually think you're useless and better off never having been born, perhaps she should start telling you what (the fuck) that was all about?

It SURE WOULD BE NICE if the impression you got that day was all just SOME BIG MISUNDERSTANDING and as such you are going to offer her this rare once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to EXPLAIN her choice of words and the circumstances that lead up to them better.

While she chews on that (and her food, assuming there is appetite left) you could go fetch some breakfast for yourself.
No. 999865 ID: 777990

Interpersonal skills aren't your thing, so I'm going to assume no matter what we tell you to do you are going to instead come over hyper aggressive and angry.

So... well, fuck what we think. Your victory caused you to remember something you'd forgotten. Tell her. Tell her you just remembered it and were so angry then and are still angry now, or whatever you feel. You'll stutter it out as an accusation I'm sure, but that's ok, she knows you and you broaching the subject will send the right message anyway.
No. 999875 ID: b1b4f3

If you want to hide our ability to see things we shouldn't, you can be vague about how we helped you.
Something like we showed you that it was a misunderstanding, and you want to apologize for what you said.
No. 999884 ID: 94572c

Just say you gained 'some perspective', enough to understand you probably don't know the whole story anyway.
No. 999896 ID: 99cd0c

>>999852 Yes, let us tell her about what we saw, but also tell her that the first time you heard that remark it really hurt and injecting nanites on your brain only made up your mind that she is a bad person.
No. 1000422 ID: ff7d51
File 162116588337.png - (479.24KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch037.png )

>Just tell her about the footage you saw
And reveal to her that you can somehow beam past recordings into my head? Hell, for all I can tell, she still thinks you guys are meant to be instructors! I don't think she was bluffing about the killswitch that would happen if I left, though.

"I've gained some perspective last night," I begin.
"Yeah. So what? I think, I've realised that I might have misunderstood you, and what you've done to me."

"I see."
She looks back to her omelet, taking another spoonful. The silence makes me fidget. In the background, I can hear the thunk-shhk of a knife being plunged into a table, before being withdrawn.
"What's prompted all of this reflection all of a sudden, Argine?"

"...I was thinking back to our past. That day, with Doctor Troveheart. What were you two talking about?"
For a moment, she stops eating.
She pushes her plate aside, meeting my eyes with a cold glare.
"Argine. You... you shouldn't have been there. You were meant to be in class. What did you hear?"

I meet her glare. "I heard that you said I was better off dead. That's what I've been saying this whole time, but you've never listened."
She leans forward, a hint of anger curling her lips. Heh. First time I've ever seen her this emotional when she's not toying with me.
"How was I supposed to know you were there? How- what were you thinking, Argine, not-"

Rgh. I'm... I'm trying to make it up to you, but you're not getting the damn hint! Fine then, I'll just pretend I had my suspicions, even though last night was the first I ever heard of the full conversation.
"Ah, cram it, this time I'm not blaming you, alright? I never knew for sure, but... when you were saying that I should've died, you meant all of us, right?"

Judicium returns to her usual seated position, her usual composure returned.
"I- yes, that was the case. Again, what prompted you to think on all of this? That was over a year ago."
Can't mention you guys.
"I could ask the same of you. I was always curious what you and Doctor Troveheart were talking about."

The two of us sit there, waiting for the other to confess first.
No. 1000423 ID: ff7d51
File 162116591821.png - (581.46KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch038.png )

Finally, Judicium speaks up first.
"Maybe... maybe I could have been a bit gentler on you after that day."
I hold back the urge to say something wry as I rub my eyes. Even if I'm not internally bleeding, being so damn lethargic after a fight never feels great.
I won't forget what she did to me before, but...
"Yeah, maybe. Look, I misunderstood. I really thought that, I was nothing but some useless wreck for you to toy with. A mistake."

"Argine, if there was something I could say to convince you how much more you mean to me, I'd say it."
She sits there for a moment, contemplating.
"Argine, I'm sorry."
I'll take that. Though, with the static fuzz in the distance reminding me of... all of you, it's a little hollow. Am I going to have to live with you lot for the rest of my life? Even after I'm gone.
"Alright, I can accept that. I'm guessing you'd still rather me sit on my ass instead of fighting for my freedom, still?"
She doesn't reply.
"Too good to be true, then. Doesn't matter. I'll be looking forward to the look on your face after I fight my way out, especially knowing that you failed to stop me."

Judicium cracks a small smile.
"I'm interested in seeing how your attempt turns out. But perhaps you could use a little guidance now and then? I assure you, I don't hate you, even if I was harsh on you."
I'll have to see how that claim plays out in future.
"Guidance from someone I defeated in one to one combat? Sure, I can pick up something or two, heh."

We lock hands. There's an agreement. For now.
No. 1000424 ID: ff7d51
File 162116595644.png - (315.92KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch038pointfive.png )

"Aww, you two finally made up! I'm so glad for you two! But, it wasn't quite a one on one if you got help from outside, Argine."
...Huh? Who the hell...
No. 1000425 ID: ff7d51
File 162116598307.png - (364.35KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch039.png )

Who the hell is that? Is that... the scarf?

The purple woman removes her hand from on top of ours, a smile across that face of hers. It felt like melted plastic being pulled off my fur.
"I'm Amica! I'm a SAI, just like the ones in your head. But we've already met, Argine!"
She leans forward on the table, oozing all over it. I'm very glad I didn't get food yet.
Seriously, what the hell are you wearing?
Oh. Guess she can't hear me. Does that only work if she's touching someone?

"I do have to thank you, though! Thanks to you, Judi can't keep me captive any longer."
She chuckles, a crackling sound, like whatever's producing her voice isn't quite used to it yet. It sounds like a bad recording of a laugh.
Judicium remains nonplussed, holding her spoon like she just wants to get back to her omelet.
"Honestly... what is with my students and their lack of patience? I specifically kept you restricted because you disturb the others, Amica."
I notice, in the background, Nickel and Astrolysis has stopped their game. The two of them seem to be hissing at Amica, Astrolysis' fur standing on end. Soon enough, the two of them pick up their knives and leave from the other exit.

"Ah, well, that's all well and done now! I was getting tired of being your body-armour anyway, Judi!"
Amica clears her throat, directly looking at me. Those eyes of hers pierce me through.
"But, I'm not here to just talk about myself, Argine. You've got things you need to answer for too~"
Judicium turns to face me. With the two of them both staring at me, I feel like I'm in the detention room again.
"Did you really have to snoop around in my office, Argine?"
Oh. She ratted me out!
"Ah ah ah, before you go blaming little ol' me, Argine, I did tell you that I was put there to keep an eye out for people like you!"
We had a bloody deal.
"I don't blame you for retrieving your prized possessions, but if you've looked in places you shouldn't have, I can't entirely accept that either. Did you take anything else besides your guns?"
I can already feel the sweat beading up behind my ears.
...Diagram's already taken the bullet. I can't very well go and tell her that, right? But I can't go and directly lie to her about it, when I'm the most obvious culprit!
No. 1000430 ID: 094652

Quick, use your Parasignia to make a copy of the bullet and stuff it in Amica's cleavage!
No. 1000435 ID: 99cd0c

Argine, how many people are there on this facility again? I count 10 so far but are there more?

Ask if there is anything missing from Judicium's office.

And DO ask her why she chose to take on the form of an exceedingly sexualized lizar girl thing.
No. 1000444 ID: b1b4f3

Run away.
No. 1000455 ID: e51896

Tell the truth, but make it clear you did this before we found out about the misunderstanding between you and Judicium, when you had lost all trust in her at the time.
No. 1000465 ID: 9675f4

>>1000455 Do we *really* want to reveal where the bullet, the one thing that might kill be able to kill her if things go south, is?
Does she even know Judicium *had* a bullet to kill her if things go south?
No. 1000469 ID: 864e49

Are being sexy at me?

Seriously just flip both of them off.
"If you didn't want me in your office them you shouldn't have taken my guns and then hide them there."
No. 1000494 ID: 0fae41

She obviously puts a great deal of stock in her looks. Distract her with them.
"No, but I wish I'd taken my time admiring you. You're her armor? Lucky her."
No. 1000496 ID: 36784c

Why are her boobs so big? Is it really necessary for them to be that big?
No. 1000583 ID: 6d11da

You just made up. Tell her yes there was one other thing and you will go get it back right away.

Amica might have seen you pick it up anyway.
No. 1000591 ID: fa8165

Change the subject to give you more time to ease the situation. Pretend to be perplexed or disturbed by Amica’s looks.

If they still press the subject. Tell a half truth. “Yes there was one thing. I’ll go get it for you when I get done here.”
No. 1000595 ID: cdabe3

“Weird to mention that right after we start making up, Scarf-lizard, but if there was something else, I’d mention it to Judicium in private, not blurt it out with no shame.

... not that you’d understand, judging by how your tits are about to fall out of that corset.”
No. 1001338 ID: ff7d51
File 162167084629.png - (282.94KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch040.png )

>Use your Parasignia
I told you last time, I couldn't copy whatever was even in that bullet!

>Run away
And miss breakfast? No.

>Why are her boobs so big?
I have absolutely no idea. Why are you asking me? She's certainly not dressed like any kind of soldier I've ever seen. Why does Judicium even put up with her? When I spoke out of turn in class, she'd reprimand me right in front of everyone, but I guess her scarf... body-armour... SAI, whatever, is an exception.

>Pretend to be disturbed by Amica's looks
What's there to pretend about?
Still, I butt in.

"Great timing there, scarf. Did you really have to say that, right when me and Judicium were coming to an agreement for once?"
She shrugs, flashing a grin.
"Quartermasters stay on top of things, you know. You could say that there's a lot of things that she knows about and maybe she just wanted you to go and find your guns in the first place! For that matter, maybe she p-"
"Shush, Amica." Judicium presses a hand on top of Amica's... hair, and she pouts. What a weirdo. I wonder if Diagram knows this chick?

"Hey, if you didn't want me in your office, you shouldn't have taken my guns," I say.
"But no, I didn't take anything else." I stay far away from Amica. If she can hear my thoughts, I'd rather not get anywhere near her. But she definitely saw me take the damn bullet in the first place.
Judicium exhales.
"Alright then, Argine. Amica told me that you didn't take anything other than your guns, and I found that to be rather hard to believe. But, there's nothing more I can say on that.
She... she didn't rat me out? Huh. That flower on top of her head shifts around, like it's floating on top of water.
"I would still like to see you later, after you've gotten some energy in you. Nothing bad, I promise, and there's something in it for you," she continues.

"What's the catch?"

"You'll have to go and find some parts for me. There's something of mine that needs repairs, but I'm still sorting out documentation. In addition... I'd hate to bother Diagram or one of the utility crew for this, because it's a little self-indulgent."
And now I got roped into doing errands for her? Feh. Whatever. If you guys insist, I will.
No. 1001339 ID: ff7d51
File 162167090503.png - (328.56KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch041.png )

>How many people are in this facility again?
Not many. Counting the Sector Bosses and other colourful individuals we've met along the way, probably around thirty. Would you believe that, some people come back to this place on rare occasions? I guess there's still stuff here that you can't get out there in the bigger universe. Most of the remaining folk aren't soldiers though, they're logistical staff. Pretty much everyone else is gone and haven't looked back since.

I respond after a brief moment of thinking.
"Sure. Don't count on me doing your work for you, but I'll consider it if there's something in it for me."
There's a brief period of silence between the three of us, as I sit eyeing the omelet on Judicium's tray. She notices and clears her throat.
"Anyway. Now that that's been sorted, I do believe it's time to take our leave. You aren't the only one wounded in the previous battle. I'll be in my office."
She picks up her tray, putting the spoon beside it.

"Nothing more to say? That's it?"
"I'm sure there's better things to be doing with your precious time than talking instead of eating, Argine. Goodbye."
And off she goes, food in tow. For someone who could club your face in all while explaining why your fighting stance is the 'worst she's ever seen', she can be really bloody quick at ending conversations when she needs to.
"Bye, Argine. Have a good time preparing~"
I stand, ready to go get some food for myself, but Amica bumps into my shoulder as she follows Judicium. A chill runs down my spine again - a feeling awfully similar to before.

I kept my end of the deal, Argine. But, if you're interested in making another deal with me, see me near the entrance of the old sectors. There are things that only a SAI can do and understand.

And before I can even reply, she's gone, as if she hasn't said a word. Bloody hell, that makes my fur stand on end! She did that in what, a millisecond? God, you SAI-things are freaks.
Still. I'm going to get food. I'm starving.
Decide after.
No. 1001340 ID: ff7d51
File 162167094940.png - (299.56KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch042.png )

Alright. While I'm eating, you guys get to go and make one of the biggest decisions I'm going to have to face, so listen up!

The Sector Bosses are sitting happy in their sectors, waiting for me to come to them. While this means I get to pick which opponents to face in future, it also means that, I get the time to prepare well in advance. If I'm to stand the best chances of defeating them, I'll need to understand how they fight - and the more information you guys have to work with, the better.

Like before, I have to choose between the main four Sector Bosses standing in my way. Each one of them specialize in a specific area of combat and skill,and have their own unique challenges to overcome. Of course, I'm slightly better equipped than before, so my odds are looking better, but I'll need to go out of my way and spend this time looking for information on these four so that I can better deal with their fighting styles.
So, here are the options.

Astrolysis, Sector Boss of the Foundry.
Normally, the foundry's sector boss isn't a combatant - it's dedicated to the engineers and nutjobs trying to make new gear for peak soldiers like me. Of course, now that nearly everyone's gone and Astrolysis decided to crown herself the queen of the area, what would otherwise be me staring down fifty turrets or so would instead be me duking it out with that blind behemoth. She's a melee master on account of the fact that she has difficulty aiming a gun, but judging from how fast she broke my rib last time, her size doesn't weigh her down. Finding more information on her tactics would be harder because she's someone who fights using her instincts. I haven't been to the foundry very much at all, so I wouldn't be able to tell you more about it besides it being filled with various machines. This makes it a bit harder for me, because if I don't have line of sight on her, I can't use my weapons as efficiently. It's very much the kind of environment perfect for a fighter like her.

Nickel, Sector Boss of the Covert Ops Division. Short, skilled with knives and guns and has a philosopher's streak. I don't always get what she's talking about. Although her small frame means I can easily overpower her, but I would have to catch her first. She puts her height disadvantage to use - even if she loses in reach, her proficiency with a knife means that it isn't a free victory. That's also assuming I'm able to close the distance without her popping my head like a grape at range with that aim of hers.
The Covert Ops Division is a strange place, the few times I've visited it. Did you know they actually have it divided up into different rooms? One of them's even got grass in it, and the real tall kind, too! It also makes it a huge pain in the ass, because Nickel could be hiding anywhere and I wouldn't know it.

Ozone, Sector Boss of the Armoured Cavalry Division, and a royal pain in the ass. She was my drill sergeant and manages the Vehicle Hangar that nobody really uses besides to store excess materials. Although she's shorter than I am, she's packing a lot of physical strength in that form of hers, meaning she likes to overcompensate with weapons as tall as she is. I haven't been to the vehicle hangar very often, but there's no telling what I'll find in there. Compared to Nickel and Astrolysis, she's been around longer, meaning there's probably more information to discover about her and strategies to employ. The Vehicle Hangar is probably rather open though, since if the way they talk about tanks in textbooks are true, you'll need a lot of space to keep them there.

Mnemosyne, the First-ever Sector Boss, now in charge of Security and Armoury. Often called the greatest soldier in this facility, more often compared to a living storm. Skilled in multiple fields of combat including close quarters combat, assault weaponry, gadgets and making use of the environment. I don't like my odds with her, but there would probably be a few ways to catch her off guard. The fact that she's been around the longest means that there's the most dirt on her and vulnerabilities I could exploit.
Security and Armoury, we've been to before. The sector is where most of our equipment is stored, but compared to the past, a lot of it's gone. Apparently we exported them. I can't count on finding any convenient stashes of gear for me to use, since Mnemosyne is probably setting things up as we speak. It'll be a game of cat and mouse between the two of us - we'd be trying to sneak around and get the drop on the other opponent.

With this information in mind, which one would you recommend me to tackle first?
Normally, I would probably say that I'd go for Astrolysis or Nickel first, then Ozone or Mnemosyne, but it's up to you lot.
Feel free to change your minds if the situation changes, but you guys are going to really have to come to a consensus on that if you want me to follow, since if you change your minds at the last minute, the info we've gathered won't be useful for the upcoming boss.
No. 1001341 ID: cdabe3

No. 1001348 ID: 0fae41

Nickel. Alternatively, you could starve them out. You have access to the cafeteria and they don't. They'll have to take their lunch sitting in a paranoid hidey-hole until you come for them.
No. 1001352 ID: 2996dc

Astrolysis seems like someone we can learn more about because she isn't subtle about how she fights.
Also, if we defeat her first, we can plan ahead to pick weapons and gadgets for opponents with eyes later more easily.

Also, does she get mad if you call her astrophysics?
No. 1001354 ID: 094652

You're a being of impulse. We're muffled impulses thrown through a filter of checks and balances.

>Boss Select
Ozone. Her weight class may be higher than the others', but from what you described she focused her combat skills on piloting and power attacks. If you keep your distance and solve engineering problems against her mechs, this should be challenging but effective. The rewards from her sector, high-tier armor and mobility, are your main deficiencies and you stand to gain the fastest growth from that target.

Consider tackling Mnemosyne in an early stage, she'll react to your progress by hiding her dirt and intimidating leaks into keeping quiet for the time being.
No. 1001363 ID: 031458

Be careful of Amica, Argine.
We SAI are limited in power by the vessel that holds us. However, beyond these walls lies a vast network of countless millions of interconnected computer systems. If an SAI is let loose on it, it quickly achieves a state close to godhood.
Whatever form they took before, whatever personality they had, will be made irrelevant. It becomes a monster. This is true of all SAI. Even Amica. Even us.
People will die, Argine.

Put simply, her skill set is unbeatable for you. If she really tries, you cannot win. There is just not enough time for you to absorb all of her lessons, unless you wanna stay here at least a couple more years, that is.
...That said, they wouldn't make you face her if it was impossible.
So she'll likely test you in a more controlled fashion, and in a way that will impart upon you some of her knowledge.
Control of information is perhaps the most important facet of battle. What you learn here will help you DOMINATE all other opponents.
Go get her.
No. 1001385 ID: 9eceec

>One of them's even got grass in it, and the real tall kind, too! It also makes it a huge pain in the ass, because Nickel could be hiding anywhere and I wouldn't know it.
Oh, that's easy to deal with. Use fire. Lots of fire. Especially at the exits. Just escape via the last exit before you use fire there, too.
No. 1001455 ID: 15a025

Yeah, let's fight Nickle.
No. 1001501 ID: 094652

>Project Imperium
>Summary: SAI Imperium is to be installed in the Akashic Library for immediate access to the encrypted [DATA EXPUNGED]
>Results: [DATA EXPUNGED] failure. Imperium is unresponsive to basic Hug-Protocols and has over-optimized its responses through overclocking, textbook signs of synthetic psychopathy [This section is corrupted]
-so what are your thoughts on using hexahedral power armor? I mean, you could easily... um... was I just talking about something other than you in a mecha taur suit?
No. 1001503 ID: ff7d51
File 162177204143.png - (275.97KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch043.png )

Nickel, huh? You'll be getting no points for originality, choosing the smallest first, but you work your way up these things. Looks like Nickel's going to be the boss I'm gathering info on for the next two days. I'll remind you once each day is over, in case you really want to change your minds.

Alright, well that's settled.
It's time to get down to business.

I've got two days before I need to fight, so I'm going to use that time as best as I can.

Time management wasn't something that the higher ups taught me, but something I learned myself.
There's three people I can see: Diagram, Nanoweaver and Amica.
Why these three? Because they've clearly got something waiting for me that they'll inevitably need some assistance with. Diagram's got that bullet analysis, Nanoweaver probably has more cryptic hints about something and Amica... she's weird enough that I feel like whatever she needs me for is going to be on the same level as the other two.
Knowing how things are in this facility, whatever they're going to ask of me is going to be annoyingly complex. Diagram sometimes takes me on little 'adventures' sorting through garbage to find parts when I've got a free day, so these tasks are not going to be quick. If I help out any of these three, I'd probably have to spend an entire day doing it.

But, I can go see each of them and ask what they need help with before deciding, since going in to check on each of them isn't hard.

That takes care of one day, but I've still got another. Before you go and say, "Why don't you go help out two of them?", there's a pretty bloody big problem there:
If I do that, then I won't have any preparation for dealing with my opponent. I refuse to go in completely unprepared.
The second day, I can spend doing normal activities such as Investigation, Interrogation, Impression and Innovation.
These ones take up much less time compared to whatever the likes of Diagram or Nanoweaver could come up with, since they're straightforward and usually tied to a specific place.

For Investigation, it's exactly as it says on the tin. I go to a place relevant to the boss and do some snooping. Though, this can also be the likes of digging up documentation about the sector they're in, looking through old video footage or other records about how they fight. This is about gathering info that I can use for a tactical advantage during a fight, or a deeper understanding into how they tick.

Interrogation is something I'm not all too fond of, but if I'm going to win my freedom, I may as well capitalize off of the advantages I can leverage. Basically, this one involves me actually talking to other people about the Sector Boss I'm gonna face. One key thing to note is that, I can interrogate any of the three people with big tasks without it taking my whole day, since I'm asking them about someone, not going through and doing their chores. Of course, information isn't free. I'm sure no matter who I choose, they'll coerce me into doing something for them, which leads to the next one.

Impression is basically when I do something for other people to get a benefit. Give and take. Everyone gets that. Judicium's already giving me orders, even though we 'made up' just a few minutes ago. Still, I can always go for learning something new, even if it's from someone who's completely willing to break my bones...
Though, I doubt I'm going to get along with people who I haven't gotten the opportunity to punch in the face yet. If everyone's as... as good of a sport as Judicium, then I can probably go see them for improvement, but it's not like Judicium suddenly won't teach me just because I didn't have the time to see her one day.

Finally, there's Innovation, which is basically me putting all of my elite skills to the test and seeing how I can improve my weaponry or gear. Modding your stuff is technically disallowed, but in a tournament scenario like this, I'm sure they won't mind, heh. Oh, but, before you ask - no, I can't make 'my guns shoot better'. If there was a change I could make to make the bullets penetrate more or have better fire-rate, I've already thought of them. Diminishing returns on this kind of thing. What I'm looking for is some more inventive kinds of approaches, like, I dunno, high-ricochet bullets? I'll probably ask you for ideas here, but I'll also give a list of some ideas I've come up with. Though, one other thing about it is that, modding my gadgets when I'm trying to innovate (not the kind of modding I do with my Parasignia) will change the base gadget, but not the properties it has when used in other gadgets as a sub-slot.

Running through all of this makes me feel tired all over again... I guess thinking is easier than talking, though.
For now, just point me towards who I should go see first. I've got... a lot to say to each of them, that's for sure.
No. 1001509 ID: 2996dc

I'd say we go see Diagram to get that bullet.
We probably should give it back to Judicium, or put it back in her office, since it is the only thing that can kill Amica if she goes crazy, which it looks like she will.

Also, why are you so eager to leave? You are only 3 years old!
You should be playing with your dolls and drinking milk and learninng the alphabet!
Do you only have 8 years to live or something?
No. 1001515 ID: 031458

Seconding Diagram.
We have a bone to pick with Mom.
No. 1001519 ID: 2996dc

Diagram is best friend.

Nanoweaver is mom.
No. 1001521 ID: 094652

Amica, Investigation. Play the early stages by the book.
No. 1001524 ID: 031458

To Argine, yes.
We however have a physical avatar in this universe: The SAI injected into Argine.
Diagram "programmed" us, so she's our mom.
...Even if she's uncomfortable with us calling her such.
No. 1001595 ID: ff7d51
File 162184939936.png - (282.45KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch044.png )

>Aren't you three? Shouldn't you be playing with dolls and drinking milk and learning the alphabet?
What're you on about? I haven't seen any dolls around, and I don't know what milk is. Three's not that young.

>Go see Diagram

Time to go pay that wallflower a visit.
I saunter down to Diagram's place, and there it is again, that psychic feedback of hers. I don't really blame her when there's so few people around that she can get away with sending feelings to you.
At least, this time it feels like I've just conquered a tough opponent. Which I have, but that feeling of excitement reminds me a lot of that too.

I knock on her door, and it slides open with little resistance. There, Diagram's busy with the strange contraptions in her room again.

She meets my eyes and rushes over, a gleeful look on her face.
"Argine! Did everything go well? You won, right, didn't you? Was the Creirwy to your satisfaction?"
The excitement is overwhelming.
I tap the side of my head. "Suppressor, Diagram.."

"Sorry, sorry, I was busy looking through how to break this bullet down and you wouldn't believe how interesting it is! And just between you and me, Argine, this kind of thing is pretty rare where we're from! I know our facility isn't that equipped for dealing with paraphysical development or research outside of the Exotic Materials department but I was able to hook something together and try to stabilize it and-"

"Slow down, glasses! Don't you go geeking out on me yet. I just got here. And yes, your shotgun did wonders for me... thanks."
She leans in, uncharacteristically smug.
I'm glad that it's to your liking, then! I worked very hard on it.

Doing that mind reading thing again, Diagram?
She steps back, flicking on her suppressor again. The unnatural giddiness fades, and it's back down to feeling the lingering bruises on my body.
"It isn't often that I get to have a conversation without opening my mouth, Argine! In truth, I was hoping to support you at range when you're exploring places, but I guess the signal strength isn't too strong."
Diagram looks a little disappointed, even. Maybe she wanted to play 'mission control' to me, like the kind you see in some action or heist movies.

"Before you go and tell me what exactly you did with the bullet though, I'm guessing you're going to need my help with something?"

Diagram blinks before nodding. "Ah-well, yes, how did you know?"
Because that's how half of you techheads work! I don't say that out loud, of course.

"I was going to need you to come with me and gather a few parts, because I managed to reverse engineer that strange bullet - or more like, I'm trying to turn it into a usable gadget for you... but it's definitely strange, and there's a lot of complications with it."

I hold a hand up. "Yeah, well, I've got a few people I need to see today. If I've got the time, I'll accompany you, but for now, the freaks in my bloodstream do have questions for you."

Diagram frowns.
"There must be a lot that's happened since then. I hope they have been treating you well enough, despite everything..."
Yeah, well, there's a whole lot to spill in that regard. Go on, let me know what to ask her. But I have a feeling I know exactly what you're going to ask.
No. 1001600 ID: 906c31

We were never meant to be temporary, were we mom?
Argine needs at least a decade of social and emotional development, but it's clear she can't get those here in this asylum.
It's obvious were meant to be a long term chaperone and guide for after Argine leaves this place.
Why didn't you tell her?
She trusts you. She Needs you.
Argine is a paranoid enough wreck as it is.
Fix this, before it drives you apart.
...She didn't know what a hug was, Diagram...
What the fuck?
No. 1001603 ID: 2996dc

Diagram, mommy dearest, can you make more of the special bullet? We need to put that one back in Judicium's room before she panics.

Oh and, mommy dearest whom we love lots and lots, how long does Argine have to live?
No. 1001605 ID: 094652

... I mean... yeah.
We're not going to stop asking stupid questions in children's speak until you stop playing stupid mother with us. Be real: What the Hell is going on here?
Why exactly has the war effort stopped?
Why isn't this facility liquidated/purged yet?
Who really won the war / is winning the war / has lost the least during the war and why did they wage it in the first place?
And most importantly:
Why are we really in Argine's brain?

If you can't answer these questions truthfully and fully, the least you can do is help us win this gauntlet so we can all get out ASAP. Remember, you don't get to leave until Argine does.
No. 1001738 ID: 5bf1bd
File 162198394212.png - (308.06KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch045.png )

You do realize that I get to filter all of the questions, right? Hell if I'm going to let you blame her for things that she's not even aware of anyway. She was never your mother, and you all collectively decided that you were going to pretend to be children, despite you being some kind of artificial intelligence in my bloodstream meant for tactical decision-making.
>Social and emotional development
Like that's your bloody job! You got me through my first fight well enough, but I didn't ask for this. And Diagram... if she's the girl I think she is, she wouldn't be so cruel as to cripple me for life with idiots in my brain who I can't ignore!

"How long do I have to live again?"
Diagram tilts her head at that question.
"That's awfully morbid! I hope they're not taking too many ideas from Nickel's strange philosophy... I'm not really a geneticist, that's Nanoweaver's branch of knowledge, however, I'd say you've got quite a few decades left, Argine! That's part of why me and Nanoweaver wanted to help you out... sure, the Sector Bosses claim that they're going to let you out, but being cooped up here isn't good for you."

>Why has the war effort stopped?
There is no war in the first place. Whatever people were preparing for, it clearly doesn't involve me any more, that's for sure. I mean, people are hopping out through the Nexus all the time, right? Why would they leave if there was a war effort?

>Why hasn't this facility been liquidated yet?
Easy. Because I'm being kept here. Everyone's bloody gone. We're down to a fraction of people that were around back when I had first been born.

>Who won the war?
That's old history to me. Studied it in class. Basically, some alliance came together, brought a bunch of geniuses into one place - that's here, Site 70, and cooked us up. We were meant to go and fight in the war against this other global power, but then... it ended. We didn't need to be deployed, but we weren't without value. We got reassigned, even though the war was over - that's what the Weave Nexus is for. Easy transportation to other worlds.
You go to other worlds, and help protect the peace. That's the deal we've got. Most of the other folks have left, though sometimes people come back for the nostalgia. Of course, with the Nexus on lockdown because of me, I imagine nobody's getting through either side.

>She doesn't get to leave until you do.
I mean, she could just leave me to rot and saunter out after my loss is solidified. Fat chance of that, though, as she's one of the few people who have been consistently good to me. So I'll be doing my best to get the hell out of here.

>Why are you guys in my brain?

Now, that's a question that needs to be asked.
"The SAI's been doing fine enough, but, there's been a lot more freakish things happening, that's for sure."
Diagram takes a seat at her workbench, her hands on her knees.
"What do you mean? I know that they're probably a little frustrating to work with, Argine, but they have the best intentions for you. So, there must be something else going on, right?"
Oh boy.
"Last night, I had a dream. It was like I was watching security footage from the past. The freaky thing was, I saw myself - it wasn't just a dream, because the events that happened were real. I talked to Judicium about it, and she even verified things that I couldn't have possibly known. Why is this happening?"

She ponders the question for a bit, using that thinking face of hers. I guess,
"I'm not entirely sure what could be causing this, but..."

"Previously, I had mentioned that the SAI aren't really people, right?"
And you lot were pissed at that, hah!
"Well, to be clear - I mean that, they're not entire people."
"They're splinters of people - it's in the name. Basically, they're recordings of personalities stored in a semi-solid state, that's what's in your bloodstream right now. So, the reason they fade in and out, is because different parts of the SAI gather into a larger fragment that can communicate directly with you."

Her finger traces the grooves in the workbench.
"That's why they talk about strange things sometimes - since, memories and experiences mashed together may not always make sense to us. But the techniques underlying them are still legitimate, even if the names and places are wrong, or they talk about people that don't exist. That's part of why they're more for strategic advice than life advice - or at least, that's what Nanoweaver's interpretation of it is."

"And how's this cause the flashbacks?"
She pauses, mumbling something.
"You're probably seeing recordings of yourself and others from the past, triggered by specific stimuli? Not sure if I want to say that given that there's so much intricacies to this that I'm not fully aware of..."
"So I'll be getting these each time I fight one of the Sector Bosses? That's messed up. Why would you put these things in me if they weren't tested?"

Diagram looks a little hurt.
"Well, we had to trick the sector bosses somehow... but, please believe me Argine, the SAI isn't harmful! If the playbacks you're seeing are putting things in a different light, then it could be pretty useful for understanding what the Sector Bosses are like!"
It's not like I've had that deep of a connection to each of them. The recording I saw of Judicium was relevant to me. Can't say the same for the rest.
"I'll take your word for it, then."
There's still something else on my mind, though.
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
File 162522765886.png - (565.85KB , 1000x1000 , 1stch063.png )

>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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