Previous Thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2553907/Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Shooting+StarTwitter: https://twitter.com/5th_CommsYou are Meteor Showa, Maverick Hunter, and it’s time to exterminate a rat.
>>2613211You beam in at what your GPS tells you is Golden, Oklahoma, population four hundred. You’ve landed outside the post office, the largest non-agricultural building in town, a polymerized-brick relic from the post-robot-master era. It appears abandoned, and you can tell why: the two grand vertical-farming towers in the distance are wisping hazy white smoke to the southeast.Either tower is a stack of twelve progressively smaller hexagonal bowls held together with outer ribs and connected to its neighbor by a skybridge at bowl six. The top two bowls steam like cauldrons.The upper atmosphere over your head and behind you is a thin lead-gray sheet, lightly occluding like evil cirrus. The early stage of Black Skies, remarkably local, from a single source… ordinarily it would take a district of filthy heavy industry to trigger this big of a Marici-3 bloom. Just what is that rat burning?“Showa to Fifth?”“Yeee~o, Fifth on call,” Atajo chimes in.“I’m on-site. Anybody here I should meet?”“Nope. None left of the squad of Cabochons from Fourth Columbus that came before you. They’re all dead or body-thralled, near as we can tell. No pressure, right?”“Right… any civilians?”“They all evacuated to Broken Bow. There weren’t many since most of them worked at that farm. You can go ahead at your initiative, straight shot down the road, then cut through the grass to get to the towers faster.”“Copy.” You start walking. “What’s on the way?”“Wheat, lots of it. And sorghum, whatever that is.”“I meant in the way of enemies, Atajo,” you reply with sarcastic sweetness.“Not pickin’ up a one,” he audibly shrugs. “Got some mets and reploid signatures in the towers, but it’s all quiet ‘til you get there.”“Thanks.”It’s nice to have a quiet entry, for once. The four-lane road out of town cuts through the grassy crops. The wheat and sorghum stalks reach well over your head, some seven or eight feet of pre-cereal. You know enough to guess they’re genetically engineered to perfection, but somehow you doubt the black and yellow spots on the leaves are intentional.You stop at a lightpole at a curve in the road. The span beyond has been chopped and bombed apart. Hardly any of the surface remains.A small rat mechaniloid, black and red, runs out of the blighted crops a few meters ahead of you. No bigger than your foot, it crosses to the middle of the former road and stands upright to face you.You ready your buster and touch your earcap.“Atajo, there’s a rat looking at me.”“What? Where?” Atajo snaps into serious mode. “Is he on the tower?”“I mean there’s literally a mechaniloid right in front of me. Met-sized.”“I’m not detecting it. Hang on, let me recalibrate…”>… Hi, little guy.>Shoot it.
Morning, everyone. Posting from my phone's hotspot. Hope you like rodents.I would've lead the thread with an "official" image of our protagonist, but I left the vital jpg at home. Curses.
>>2613214>… Hi, little guy.And let's look around us for more flanking--if they bodyjack and Comms can't pick them up straightaway, that sounds like a prime setup for a flanking attack from more of the little buggers.
>>2613214>Shoot it.We SHOULD get a circle of thermite around us, though. Not much they can do to bodyjack us if they have to crawl through molten metal.
Also take a moment to setup a checkin codeword in cae we do get bodyjacked and are unable to reply, or it tries to reply for us.They drop a dog pun, we drop a bird pun?
>>2613214>Hi little guy>Acquire viral rat friendo>Make bad decisions
"Can I just... grab the rat and beam back out? Have the gals in the lab look at it, see what we're dealing with?"
>>2613234>>2613247>>2613248>>2613373>>2613516>>2613614You lower your buster. “Y’know, I could probably just live-capture it and swing back, make this mission a double-dip with better intel from that sample.”“I wouldn’t,” your navigator advises. “Intel says he’s a drone-producer, so if that one’s his he knows you’re there. You leave and he’ll turtle up, make things worse.”He has a point. The rat drone is still looking at you. You keep your buster down and address it.“Hi there. Is your dad home?”The rat announces in a squeaky cartoon voice, “The Lord of Plague, the Sovereign of Silicon, the Mighty Liege Iteratton welcomes you unto the domain of the free! The kingdom of reploids is forever in need of new subjects! Rejoice, for your shell shall feed the liberty of the multitudes!”You warm up your Melter. “The what?”“From o’er the threshold, seek and you will see!”A twin wave of black-and-red rat mechaniloids sweeps out of the wheat toward the road, four to a side.“I am that is! My sword shall wield for me!” The first rat declares in a different, much less cute voice.You focus on the near wave, opening fire with a lashing Prominence. They scatter, but the splash takes out two and your buster pops another. The fourth, quicker than you expected, skirts the thermite and closes distance to your left. It makes for your leg, but you stomp its lights out and turn your buster on the next wave.This gives the first rat the opening it needs to bite you behind the knee.Your dash fires, smashing your shoulder into the streetlight hard enough to dent the pole. Your dash just keeps firing, accelerating the cycle up to your old A-rank rate, but only through that one leg. You’re well into the wheat before you can angle your body and dig in with your unaffected leg, slowing enough to shoot the rat off.The second wave of rats catches up to you,[Flex +1]but a swing of your low-phase saber exterminates two of them and a thrust makes three. The fourth makes it to you and climbs to your elbow, but you pull it off and crush it in-hand before it can bite.
>>2613719You prod your earcap, annoyed. “What the heck, Atajo!”“Sorry, sat-cam only caught the last second of that.”“Sat-cam’s all you have?”“No, but it’s all that’s reliable. Those were your Maverick’s personal drones, but the scanners are blind to ‘em for some reason, and that scan-cloak goes to anything they control – for example you, for a second there.”“I was invisible?”“Yeah, but surface scans show you’re there now, and sat-cam never lost you. Hi from orbit, by the way. I’m running through other scan modes right now. How you feeling?”“Fine.”“No sudden anger, disorientation?” He sounds concerned, counseling.“Neither,” you reassure him.“Well if you do, don’t panic, just give your stock antivirus some time to work. If it gets really bad, R&D can give you a booster that’ll set you straight in twelve minutes. My charges have had it done twice just this month. We’ve got the virus whipped. No need to worry.”“Copy,” you try not to think about it. “Anything else coming?”“A lot of somethings making wakes in the crops, aimed right at you. Walking pace.”“Would burning the field help?”“It might help you more than me. Your smoke would cover them.”>Burn the field. Deal light yet persistent environmental damage, but make a lot of occluding smoke.>No burning. Give your enemies minor line-of-sight visual cover, yet give your navigator a better top-down view.>Steady Advance: Stay on the “road.” Engage any foes in full view, but with no cover.>Quick Advance: Enter the tall grass. Engage any foes in limited view, but with some visual cover.Favor a weapon:>Meteor Melter (Unavailable if “No burning” chosen)>Charge Buster>Low-phase saber>Gaia Sword (single- or two-handed)VWES:>Arbor Wall: 12/12>Fluid Lockdown: 6/6
>>2613729>No burning. Give your enemies minor line-of-sight visual cover, yet give your navigator a better top-down view.>Steady Advance: Stay on the “road.” Engage any foes in full view, but with no cover.We've had reports of bodyjacked Reploids, civilian and hunter alike. Let's not be the one to start the indiscriminate burning.
>>2613729>No burning>Steady advance>Charge busterProfessor Oak taught us it's better to stay out of the long grass if you don't want the rattatas to attack you.
I may not participate in these, but as a fan of MMX, I can appreciate these.
>>2613719>I am that is!>My sword shall wield for me!...Did he just quote Redwall?>>2613729>No burning. Give your enemies minor line-of-sight visual cover, yet give your navigator a better top-down view.>Steady Advance: Stay on the “road.” Engage any foes in full view, but with no cover.>Charge BusterNope. Nope. Not going into the field of virus rats with patches of wheat, and definitely not giving them visual cover by burning it.
>>2613729>>No burning. Give your enemies minor line-of-sight visual cover, yet give your navigator a better top-down view.>>Steady Advance: Stay on the “road.” Engage any foes in full view, but with no cover.>Charge Buster
>>2613729>no burning >steady advance>Charge buster for range, if we can hear or see them early >Lo beam for melee, if things get too quietThese guys use cover more than armor, it looks like.
>>2613729>No burning>Quick Advance>Low-phase SaberI recall someone saying something about not wanting to give this guy time to turtle up. With our low-phase saber, we should be able to cut through the grass.
>>2613729>We've got the virus whipped. No need to worry."HA. HA HA HA HA HA HA. HAAAAAAAAAAA.>No burning. Give your enemies minor line-of-sight visual cover, yet give your navigator a better top-down view.>Steady Advance: Stay on the “road.” Engage any foes in full view, but with no cover.>Charge Buster
>>2613820Glad to have you spectating!>>2613861He got the quote from 21XX Google and thought it was cool.Work's nearly over, post to come when I'm home.
>>2614079(That was me.)
>>2613743>>2613772>>2613861>>2613867>>2613911>>2613915>>2614000“Okay, no fire then,” you build a charge in your buster. “Keep a lookout for me.”“Always did like top-down.”You stick to the blasted rubble of former road, trotting along at a fair pace.The dead walk out of the wheat.Civilian-model reploids shuffle into view, arms limp, heads lolled to one side, lengths of pipe held loose in their hands. A rat drone has clamped tight to each one’s neck. The victims’ expressions are vacant and neutral, though if they were living they would surely have a more apparent opinion about the rat-sized holes bored through their respective chests.One of the rats screeches. The reploid zombies lurch faster, their arms jerking up and flailing improvised weapons.Fortunately for you, they’re just too slow and you see them coming. A charged shot blows clear through one and destroys another. A volley of basic shots takes down three more, but the damage being light, their bodies merely collapse and spill a pair of rats each.“Ew ew ew--!”Buster fire takes down the rats, but you hear footsteps coming from the other side of the road. You begin charging your buster, light up your low-beam and carve a zombie lengthwise. The only explosions are brief and from the rats; the former worker was walking around without a LIFE core. More former workers press their advantage, but in death as in life, they simply aren’t combat models. They fall to your sidearm, ranged and melee both, pipes and crowbars clattering to the ground.The last one staggering out of the wheat is better armed; a pair of buster pistol shots plink off your tail. You flinch and return fire, blowing its arm off. The rats puppeteering it give up the ghost, so to speak, abandoning ship and disappearing back into the grass.“Dispersing,” Atajo cues you.“Thanks.” You’re still cruising in top form; that armor upgrade is barely dinged.
>>2614402Holy shit, I love the design!
>>2614402You move on down the road toward a parking-slash-loading lot rimmed by lightpoles. It looks like the Hunter forces made their stand here: scorch marks on the pavement and the state of ruin of the parked personal vehicles both suggest heavier weapons fire than what civilians could put out.“Anything moving between the cars?” You check, always glad to have a navigator.“Negatory. Just corpses, human and reploid.”You stay cautious, just the same. Several pickups have prominent flag decals, and one even has a full-size flag mounted on a pole in the truck bed.“People must like their flags over there,” Atajo comms. “Is that big one to your left from Jefferson, or is my rez off?”“No, you’re right,” you answer, unfazed by the confirmation that he can identify a draped flag from a satellite camera. “About twenty Presidents ago, Americans had this national meme where they supported individual states like sports teams. Soon enough a lot of states came to be shorthand for one social movement or another. Of course, only the rural areas still care—”“Movement,” he interrupts. “Northwest, running under the cars.”You train your buster. A pair of black rats race out from under a truck. You open fire and dismiss them.“DODGE RIGHT!”[Flex +1]You obey Atajo's yell. A second-stage buster shot destroys a pickup’s engine.You spin to return fire, not sure what to expect, but it wasn’t this.A green-armored male-type reploid, average-looking in every respect, shuffles out of the wheat and onto the parking lot. You recognize his model: a Cabochon-series Chrysoprase, one of Fourth’s basic infantry. His arm is leveled at you by the will of the black and red rat on his shoulder. His head tilts to one side, owing to the black and red rat clamped onto his head with its tail around his neck. Two more rats seem to have him by the knees.“Hhelllp…” he moans.He leans forward and launches into a rapid-dash, rapid-firing at you.>Take him down clean.>Aim for the rats, try to free him.>Use cars for cover.>Stay well in the open.
>>2614406Thanks, my sister's actually the one who drew it. It's her take on this quick earlier sketch from a good friend of mine, plus some additional notes from me.
>>2614407>Aim for the rats>Stay in the openMove in and use our saber if it would help.
>>2614407>Aim for the rats, try to free him.Can't fault us for trying.>Stay well in the open.While taking cover would be smart, staying away from potential rat hiding spots would also be great.>>2614424Tell her I think it looks great!
>>2614407>Aim for the rats, try to free him.>Stay well in the open.Yeah, I suspect they're lurking by the cars. We COULD blow a few cars up, we're fireproof and that would likely destroy any lurking rats.
>>2614427>>2614437>>2614615“Oh heck—!”You switch to Arbor Wall and spend one in his way. It absorbs multiple hits and finally the dash collision; the wall topples, but the victim is stunned. You dash past him with your saber out and give him a haircut. You were actually aiming much higher, but you correctly judged your incorrectness and manage to de-rat his helmet in one blow.The rats at his knees supercharge his dash,[Armor +1]but your mass easily outmatches his. He crashes into your back like a racecar meeting a wall, sending him spinning on his heels at a useless angle and rolling into a truck. On your approach he cracks off a second-stage blast –[Flex +1]but you raise your arm just in time and it only scrapes your side. You prevent any more of that with a saber thrust, spearing the rat (and part of the Chrysoprase’s shoulder by your own lack of practice). The remaining two at his knees detach and come for you, but you shoot one and kick the other clear across the lot.The rat hits a perimeter light pole and plummets. A car alarm blares on impact.“Yuh, you, you gotta get, get away,” the stricken Hunter groans as you turn your attention back to him.“It’s okay, you’re safe now. ”“They, they got my squad…”“Stay away!” Another voice calls out.Four more green infantry stagger drunkenly out of the tower and totter at speed into the parking lot, their swaying paths crossing each other. “Stay away, get out, get out!” They seem to be warning you.Each one’s dash goes off. Four busters open a barrage at different angles.>Take them all out.>Try to free some of them.>Try to free all of them.>Destroy cars tactically.>Use cars for cover.>Stay well in the open.>Favor a weapon. (No crops are near enough to burn.)
>>2614709>Try and free all of them>Destroy cars tactically>Buster, melee if necessary If the guy we saved can use his busters, get him to provide some fire as a distraction, make sure he doesn't take any hits or more rats.
>>2614709>Try to free all of them.>Destroy cars tactically.Once again, can't fault us for trying. And we might as well use these cars.>Buster, melee if necessaryAgreed here, use our precision weapons for this.
>>2614709>Try to free all of them.>Destroy cars tactically.>lo-beam for up-close, both VWES for precision lockdown to target the rats.See if we can get the guy we saved to assist.
Wait, I can't remember. What does the fluid lockdown VWES do?
>>2614709>Try to free all of them.>Use cars for cover.Play it defensive, let them come to you as long as you're outnumbered. Only looking to save some of them is pointless, since by trying to free all of them takes the same effort, and failing at the latter helps as many as succeeding at the former.
>>2614810It's a jet of cryomer compound that sticks in place and deals persistent Ice-type damage for a couple seconds.It's like the basic Meteor Melter spit, but the opposite element.
>>2614761>Free all of them>Use cars for cover>Favor buster/lo-beamAlthough I don't know how sustainable the strategy is, we should avoid killing controlled friendlies if we can. Maybe we could Fluid Lockdown the ground, rather than the hunters?
>>2614827Also if we use it on the ground we can make them play slip-and-slide.Using it on these guys frankly sounds hilarious, but I don't wanna tip our fin too early... Wait until we get a real swarm after us or something.
>>2614827Hm, I'm okay with using it on the ground to mess with their mobility, or directly on them if it won't cause serious damage and will just destroy the rats. Otherwise, primarily busters as I previously voted.
>>2614709>Free all of them>Stay well in the open, but be ready to destroy cars if rats are hiding in them>Favor buster, use Arbor wall for cover since the cars may have rats. Use lo beam for melee on ratsWe need precision and not to get jumped by rats with so many people around to hurt.
>Fry to free them allBut I'm not above punching rats
>>2614733>>2614759>>2614761>>2614830>>2615092>>2615400They didn’t ask for this.You have bulk and mobility. What good are they if they can’t help people?You dash behind a truck, letting plasma rain through windows and across hoods.“You there!” You call to the freed one. “You need cover?”“No, I, I got it,” he slowly gets up.“Then help pick off rats!” You switch to Fluid Lockdown and break cover.One of the four grunts veers toward you. You splat an icy coating in its way and jump a three-shot volley. By the time you land, he’s already pratfalling even as his boots propel him forward at ludicrous frictionless speed. You step to one side and scoop an arm up under his chest, comically judo-flipping him into a truck so hard the rat on his helmet explodes. You rip the one off his arm, toss it out and follow-through with a buster shot.The rats on his legs leap to yours and bite.You’re off to the races.Despite the spasms of uptuned force-dashing, you maintain control of your heading, which is great because another thrall is on a collision course with you. You twitch to one side to avoid his volley and twitch back to meet him in a head-on tackle. The impact crushes his buster arm against your chest and you feel the rat on his arm explode under your chin.Your trajectory forces him into the cab of a pickup – literally into, as the left door caves in and forces him flat under you in the driver’s seat. Your body is too big to fit inside, so the entire truck rocks, and with your legs sticking out and bursting harmless emergency acceleration to nowhere, you reach up with some difficulty and crush the rat off his head.“Sorry, sorry, I’m not usually this forward,” you awkwardly grin and reach down to your hip with your buster arm to shoot off a rat. Your freed leg kicks the other rat out of its life like so much dirt stuck to your boot.You crawl back out the way you came and leave him splayed. Two down.“Look out!” The first saved Hunter shouts.“On your ten!” Atajo clarifies.Between the two of them and your Flex parts, you have all the forewarning you need to outdraw the third Chrysoprase as he rabbit-jumps onto a car three slots away. You strike his buster right in the barrel as he brings it up, forcing a feedback burst of his stored charge that takes his arm off at the elbow and eliminates the rat that was clinging to it. The rats latched to his hips keep making him jump.“Hey! Turn around!” You wave at him.He dash-jumps instead. You track his arc and shoot an Arbor Wall seed; on contact it bursts into a rooty death hug that crushes the rats. He lands face-down with a cough-grunted “Ahaooow!”
>>2615430Three down. You charge your buster and look toward the first one you saved; he kick-jumps off a lightpole and tackles the fourth to the ground. He seems to have things well in hand…“Meteor, rat swarm, one o’clock!”You don’t see them, but you trust they’re there, and you have a favorable angle on a Chevy covered in state-of-Texas stickers. You release your shot into its engine and its laughably old-fashioned fuel cells fail in a catastrophic fireball.“Uh—probably got ‘em,” Atajo concedes.You pick up the Chrysoprase you flattened in the truck cab and carefully position him on your shoulder. The one bound in cyberwood roots is easier to pick up underhand, given the convenient grips trapping him. The one you’d tackled into the first truck has gotten to his feet and seems to be shaking off the impact. The first one you’d saved blasts the last rat off his friend.They’re safe. You’re scraped and dented – you estimate that you’ve burned through most of the advantage your armor upgrade gave you – but the squad is safe, all five of them.You whip out your lo-beam and carve the wood-trapped one free. “All accounted for?”“Little damaged, ma’am, but we’ll manage.”“M’dang arm’s off!” The former jumper declares with a drawl. “That ain’t just a little!”>You’ve done your job, fellas, get out of here.>I could use some help if you’re able to give it.
>>2615430... Wow that wasn't the image resolution I meant to post. Oh well.
>>2615440>You’ve done your job, fellas, get out of here.
>>2615440>I could use some help if you’re able to give it.Just the 2 or 3 least damaged, maybe
>>2615440>You've done your job, fellas, get out of here.
>>2615440>I could use some help if you’re able to give it.Given the numbers, we're still at the point where we can bleed off the rats with sheer volume of plasma fire.
>>2615440>I could use some help if you’re able to give it.Make sure they ACTUALLY can give it and don't volunkill themselves.
>>2615474>>2615604>>2615818“What I want you to manage is getting out of here.”“No argument there, um…”“Sorry.” You tap a salute. “Lieutenant Meteor Showa, Veracruz Fourth, retiring officer.”“The FIRE FISH?” The drawling armless one exclaims. “You took down Sabot Gatoling in Phoenix, what’re y’all doin’ slummin’ over here?”“Saving us, Brooks,” the squad leader clips him upside the helmet. “We’ll book it back to the post office, Lieutenant. Thanks. We owe you our lives – I’m Cyrus, by the way.”“Anything you can tell me about this guy before you go, Cyrus?”“Likes to pull tricks,” he nervously checks around, probably for more rats.“Cheater,” says Brooks.“Well get going, guys, I’ll take care of him.”“Think we will,” Cyrus nods. “Move out!”The Chrysoprase squad heads down the road. Not a path for you.With all that ugliness behind, the twin towers loom above.“Careful now,” Atajo comms, “he could be anywhere.”“Are you still picking up targets?”“Yeah, Planty-type mettaurs up ahead and above you. The reploid signals are in the other tower – all matching Chrysoprase sigs, so I doubt any are him.”“Then do you think he’s here at all?”That earns you a pause. “Yeah, no, gotta be. That many drones, that well-coordinated? Even with a drone generator as a core system, there has to be an effective range, y’know?”“Good point. But if we don’t know what it is, he could be anywhere…”“I hate to say this, Meteor, but you’ll have to do a floor-by-floor sweep.”“Copy. I’ll keep my eyes open.”You proceed.Inside, the walls are transparent, but you doubt they’re true glass. The power is out, but you don’t need it for all the sunlight streaming in. You try an elevator, just to make sure – and nope, it’s out. Looks like it’s the stairs for you. Transparent steps at the side of the building lead up, and you take them without incident.What use is vertical farming in the middle of farmland, some might ask? Regulation, crop diversity, and efficiently maximized space, you might answer. The next several floors, all the way to the top from what you can tell, are transparent to let in more and more light. Pipes and wiring run through the flooring. Your current level is racks and racks of hydroponically grown plants… all mottled yellow and black. Every flower is withered.Small moving creatures, probably rats, move among the racks. Plantys pop tiny Iworms out of their heads, which seem to interface with panels on each section. They don’t look hostile yet.>Quick Advance: Ignore what you can while you hunt your Maverick.>Steady Advance: Destroy every target you come across.>Burn: Deny enemies visual cover.>No Burn: No thermite near the plants at all. >Thorough Search: Check the aisles, poke around corners.>Cursory Search: Skim obvious hiding places and move on.
>>2616144(Last vote came in with my finger on the button. Flipped a coin.)
>>2616144We can't just topple the whole building? You know, 9/11 yadda yadda thermite on steel beams? That way, Atajo can keep his sat vision helping us......plants? What plants? I only see Things to Burn.>Quick Advance: Ignore what you can while you hunt your Maverick.Speed is key>Burn: Deny enemies visual cover.>Thorough Search: Check the aisles, poke around corners.
>>2616144>Quick Advance: Ignore what you can while you hunt your Maverick.Hopefully killing him will shut down any other rat zombies anyway.>Burn: Deny enemies visual cover.Seems like plants here are pretty boned regardless.>Thorough Search: Check the aisles, poke around corners.He sounds like a tricky bastard.
>>2616203>We can't just topple the whole building?While doing that is within your abilities, that would constitute deliberately dealing an exceptional amount of collateral property damage in order to deal with one B-class Maverick. You're with the Fourth Unit, not the Zeroth.That said, I'm not saying no.But it would require a significant amount of voter support.
>>2616276I thought this whole area was already classified as "burn it all to the ground".
>>2616144>Steady Advance>No Burn>Thorough Search
>>2616282There's burning the toxins and then there's collapsing the infrastructure. In a cost-benefit analysis, deliberately taking down the towers yourself would be considered an escalation above the necessities of the threat rank.But if that's how the majority support leans... well, player agency is important!
>>2616335As funny as that'd be...>>2616144>Steady Advance: Destroy every target you come across.>Burn: Deny enemies visual cover.>Thorough Search: Check the aisles, poke around corners.Flush the bastard out if we need to, but we aren't going to miss him from lack of trying.
>>2616144>Steady Advance: Destroy every target you come across.>Burn: Deny enemies visual cover.>Thorough Search: Check the aisles, poke around corners.
>>2616144>Steady Advance>No Burn>Thorough SearchNo need to be reckless.
>>2613861There's a certain amount of irony in a rat quoting a series where rats are always the bad guys
>In a cost-benefit analysis, deliberately taking down the towers yourself would be considered an escalation above the necessities of the threat rank.Rats in the walls. Nothing I could do.
>>2616144>Steady Advance>Burn>Thorough searchYOU CANNOT HIDE FROM A HUNTER, I SMELL YOUR HERESY ON THE WIND
At work, votes counted, writing to come.Fortunately I have tomorrow off work.
>>2616203>>2616250>>2616301>>2616643>>2616734>>2616738>>2617119>>2617276You’re a Hunter, you decide, not a Glance-Arounder. But searching would be a lot easier without the blighted plants in the way.You walk up to a rack and experimentally puff a flash of thermite on your lowest setting.The flame spreads like a match through gasoline, burning with an impossible energy and throwing out blue-white haze in its wake. The flamefront races up and across, burning in and burning out in an instant, igniting no less than three Planty-type Mettaurs which proceed to run around with their heads on fire… and touch off conflagrations on neighboring racks, which ignite and panic the Plantys within, continuing the chain reaction.“Um.”You’ve probably found what Iteratton was burning.You’ve also found twenty or so rats, unfazed by the brevity of the flames, but now caught out without cover.Lacking anywhere to hide, they come straight for you.You spit a Melter grenade and open up strafing fire from your buster before it even connects. The racks are certainly easier to check now, despite the toxic haze; you fall quickly into a rhythm of shoot-and-look while strafing the rat mass.For a split second you think you see him, but it’s only a pile of rats clinging to a hopefully-dead reploid worker. Your hesitation and the time it takes to aim your buster opens an opportunity for two rats to jump off a high rack and land on you, one on your back and one on your tail.Your VWES switches against your will. The buster shot you intended comes out as an Arbor Wall seed, which bearhugs the corpse and crushes its controlling vermin. You reach back and grab the bodyjacking rat, but before you can tear it off and crush it you’ve wasted two more seeds. The second rat is focused only on gnawing through a joint in your tail, and it nearly burrows in before you can shoot it off.Serendipitously, the remainder of the swarm climbs the Arbor Walls you’ve spilled. You spit them on fire, and that flame is enough to take them out.You twitch your buster around, looking for movement, but find none. You take another set of stairs closer to the tower’s hub.The next floor is more of the same: stacks and racks of plague feed. You hold your ground at the stairs this time, spitting a rocket-propelled Melter grenade high up. The flames cascade down as before, and out come the rats. Your superior position and forewarning makes the incoming rats a laughable shooting gallery, but far fewer are present to rush you.Your sight lines are clear as you sweep through; your rat king is clearly in another castle.
>>2617758The next floor has more open space, as its crops are all saplings. Withered fruit on the vines was probably apples, but that’s only the second most interesting thing you see.A fat Bospider husk in earth-toned colors is sprawled out on the floor. It must be a local heavy lifter. Two legs are missing. The crystal cyclops eye on its thorax is unshuttered and shattered. It won’t be bothering you.… Or so you think, until fragments of the ceiling start raining down. Half a dozen gnaw through the floor above and drop onto the shell of the spider, burrowing into its broken eye.“Oh heck no.”The undead spider moves, jerkily. It stands on six legs. It must be a tall order for so few rats to commandeer such a large body -- you're glad you wiped so many out -- but you’re sure the husk can still do some damage.It climbs the hydroponic sapling racks and skitters toward you.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1NTKHoAu0PA>Act.
>>2617762HAHAHA NOPE>Prominence raw thermite spray into the joints and gem. Hopefully it will seep in and fry the little bastards from within. >Hibeam for defense as needed, you're going to need to get close to it for this.>Charged buster shots when you have time and distance.
Concurrent Maverick Hunter Quests Go!>>2617744
>>2617762>Prominence the eye and hope it killes a couple of the rats.>Charged Buster and stay mobile, be wary of one or two rats sneaking behind us while we wear down the bospiderOnce it's nearly down, we can spend one more Arbor Root+fire making sure the rats don't eject and go for us.
>>2617762The bospider isn't obligated to behave how it normally does as it is being piloted by RAT SCUM, so we can probably eschew the whole watching for the pattern thing. Try to juke it a bit - the rats shouldn't be able to compensate for fine-tuned, quick movements made at just the right moment.
Fun fact: canonically, Planty Mettaurs are not mechaniloids, but in fact fully sapient reploids.You know those worms that crawl out of their heads? Those are also fully sapient individuals with their own hopes, dreams, loves, and plans for future.Just no limbs.
>>2617871Thanks, that isn't messed up at all!
>>2617769>>2617774>>2617791Nnnnope.You run back to the stairs and charge up your buster as the spider zombie knocks over trees behind you. At full charge you let it go and start charging power in your throat. The plasma plinks off the spider’s hull as it climbs high – and jumps out, meaning to land on you.You dash past its target site and keep running. The Bospider bellyflops heavily but rears up as you turn and let a Prominence loose. It takes the supercharged thermite in the face and belly, dripping lava as it skitters straight for you, its lifeless head horribly melting before your eyes.You need a clear shot at its back socket, so you nope out of there and climb the racks yourself. As you look back, the husk is slow on the uptake. It jerkily pivots and rams the racks before beginning to climb, slower than before. The thermite still burning underneath it sets off the saplings.You reach the top as the flames do too. Unperturbed, you grab your Gaia Sword and kick out, back-first.The violet curve of your hi-beam trails aesthetic sakura petals as you drop past the mechaniloid and cleave it lengthwise. Gravity does most of the work, if you’re being honest, but you still swing it two-handed for maximum effect. The stake engages right at the level of the Bospider’s broken crystal socket, spearing at least one rat inside. You spit it aflame on your way down and stick the landing.The spider husk crackles with internal explosions not befitting its size. It lets go of the racks and plummets once more, but you’re already moving. It crashes behind you, the shock finally convincing the rat-eaten ceiling to break apart.The hole is right by the long burning rack. Well, there’s your way up. You kickdash your way to the fifth floor.“Yo, Meteor!” Atajo comms. “I have him!”“Where?”“Right under the roof of your tower where the smoke’s coming out. It’s getting thicker.”“Copy!”“Update, he’s bookin’ it!”And so do you, toward the nearest stairs, shooting down particularly bold rats as they run and leap at you. “Where’s he going?”“Climbing down the outer wall, just lost him in the smoke—”A loud explosion rocks the tower and cracks the walls and ceiling. Water pipes above burst and pour down.You fly upstairs. “Status!” You comm.“Demo charge, multiple floors. Smoke’s black… oh crap move move MOVE!”
>>2617979You know why. The ceiling cracks further as upper floors start to drop onto lower ones. You book it for the skybridge to the second tower, dashing and running and dashing again. You’re there. You’re in. You keep moving -- the skybridge shakes as the floor you were just on buckles under the weight of the rest. You dash, you run, you dash again…Liege Iteratton prances into view at the end of the bridge, his armor shaped like multiple rats with their tails meeting in a spiral at his stomach. Even as you outrace the collapse, he pirouettes, holds out his hand….And activates the detonator.A string of small demolition charges on the floor outpaces you. The last few flash up right at his feet. The floor heaves. He gives you a prim, finger-wiggling wave goodbye on your way down.You carve a crude triangular hole in the nearest wall and dash out into open air. You fall – and fall –[Armor +1]And land without so much as a grunt. The falling bridge and the neatly imploding tower takes care of the noise budget for you.“Meteor, status?” Atajo asks.“I’m okay,” you comm back.“You got a problem.”“No kidding?” You roll your neck.“Second tower’s got a doorman.”“What is it?”An approaching thrumming noise shuts your mouth.“Mole Combine.”You climb the wreckage of the bridge and see it coming.An agricultural variant of the Mole Borer excavator, the Combine’s wide and mighty thresher wheel harvests everything in its path. It doesn’t move its arms, nor does it need to; it clear-cuts a swath through the field. It’s coming for you.It’s covered in rats.“YOUR SHELL SHALL FEED THE CHORUS OF FREEDOM!” The rats shriek with distressing disunity. The sound is less a voice than a flanging effect, not-quite uniform.Its turn of speed is better than your dash. You can’t reach the tower before it could reach you. Out is through.>Strategic Target: Prioritize the rats; if past is prologue, their thrall should stop moving.>Simple Target: Forget the rats, just break the machine; they’re in the way so they’ll go down too.>Bold Approach: Risk getting close for greater damage.>Cautious Approach: Don’t.>Burn the field.>No burning.>Favor a weapon.
>>2617982>Strategic>Bold>BurnNo weapon preference.
>>2617982>Strategic Target: Prioritize the rats; if past is prologue, their thrall should stop moving.>Cautious Approach: Don’t.>No burning.>Buster (uncharged), Meteor missiles (charged)If nothing else it'll make the mechaniloid revert behaviors. Burning the fields is going to cause a lot of enviro-problems and, I suspect, not be so helpful to us in this instance. Getting close is a good way to get, ahem, threshed. It's big and chunky, it can endure some splash fire while we pick away at the rat swarm.
>>2617982>Strategic>Cautious>No burn>Charge shots for single targets, rockets or melter for clustersThe faster we deal with the wimpy rats the sooner we can deal with the actual boss. Also, be ready to draw the Lo beam for short range rats: I'm not convinced we won't be ambushed out here.
Am I understanding properly that one of the two towers (ie: half the entire facility) has been totally destroyed now?If so, I don't see a reason to hope that ratboy only put demo charges in tower #1, and in that case>Fuck it, let's just melt some steel beams and bring down the second tower without getting caught in the trap.
>>2618144You are understanding properly, yes.Iteratton is a tricky cheating zealot. But now there's just the one tower left and he's still in it.Surely there must be a reason why...
>>2617762>Fluid Lockdown.Normally I'm super conservative with VWES ammo. However, we've already shown this card to our enemy, and he's shown he can make us waste our ammo. It's time to use it or lose it.Maybe we can freeze the sapling racks. Or just shoot the spider and the joints will freeze.We can thermite it after....is what I would have said if I hadn't hit update.>>2617982>Simple Target: Forget the rats, just break the machine; they're in the way so they'll go down too.Normally I'd argue for Strategic Target, but these mole-rollers can use their thresher wheels as shields. This one's arms don't move, which means it's constantly guarding its front. We'll have to hit it with arc fire or ground splash attacks.>Bold Approach>No burning>Fluid Lockdown and Arbor WallIf we use fluid lockdown on the ground,we might be able to use that speed boost to get past it... is what we *want* it to think. In reality, we'll juke it by jumping backwards with an Arbor Wall as it turns on the ice floor. It has treads, but big and fast also means it'll have trouble handling, and that's when we can capitalize.Also, since it can't raise its wheel, we might be able to jump *over* it with Arbor Wall. Normally I'd agree with the Cautious Approach. In fact, I still do. It's just that I can see how the bold approach might actually work. Sheesh, what is this stage doing to me? I'm going against all my instincts.>>2617871>>2617944Well then they shouldn't have been mavericks....Oh, right, Repliforce......Oh, right, Virus......Do the hunters get planty mettaurs too?>Captcha is bridges.Someone is listening.
>>2617988>>2617989>>2618019>>2618211The smoke from the fallen tower wafts over the surrounding area, but you can still see the combine well enough to shoot. The rats can’t be very smart if they think a thresher can do anything against a remnant of metal bridge. You stay put and fire, randomly readjusting aim to improve your chances of hitting one.Between your shots you hear a clawing noise. Yet more [i]freaking rats[/i] are climbing up the wreckage. You reprioritize, shooting them down before they can reach you. You turn back and the Mole Combine has gotten closer. Is it seriously going to ram?It is seriously going to ram.You spit a Melter rocket head-on, but that doesn’t slow it. The thresher reel collides and starts chewing through your perch with a horrible shearing noise.You dash-jump the opposite direction, parting the grass as you land… and catch a pipe over your head from an undead reploid worker. You yank the pipe out of his grip and clock him so hard it bends.You are getting [i]sick and tired[/i] of these rats. Even putting aside the bodyjacking, it’s just unfair that he can have so many out at once!The combine crashes through the wreckage and is surely coming for you. You’re caught out. You need it to stop.Fortunately, you’re packing ice.Fluid Lockdown ejects from your buster in a smooth stream, insta-freezing and snapping any wheat in the way of you and the thresher. You hear a splash and a squeal of metal coming to a halt, but you don’t stop to congratulate yourself as you switch to Arbor Wall, seed a spot ahead and run for it. You hear the crack of a protesting engine pressing heavy parts to failure as you vault the wall and dash-jump up and off, screening your landing with buster fire.You come in like a wrecking ball, only seeing the combine once you’re close enough to land feet-first on a very unlucky rat. The thresher wheel has stopped, but the treads – swerve hard![Flex +1]Not hard enough to toss you, fortunately, as you keep balance and shoot the rats you can still see.You only pause when the combine crashes through the side of the second tower. Safety glass snows around you, and for a moment it’s a game of King of the Hill as you stomp and shoot every rat that scurries your way.The Mole Combine at last hits a support wall indoors, jarring you but not throwing you. The few remaining rats abandon ship and disappear.This is your stop. You hop off.
>>2618560“Meteor! Good news!” Atajo pipes up.“You found like a hundred cats to throw at him?” You wish as you climb the stairs.“Better. I found where he’s been making his rats.”“You can see them now?”“No, but the point of origin is on the fourth floor, center of the building.”You keep climbing floors, not even bothering to search them now. “Yeah?”“There’s a conference room or something – reploid signals clustered around a high-energy source that only showed up as not another reploid when I ran a Cyberspace overlap scan.”“Those rats are from Cyberspace?”“No, it’s—it’s complicated, but they’re drawing broadcast energy from the overlay. Just head in and break it, I bet that’ll bring your rat right to you.”Cyberspace, huh? That’d explain a few things, like the multiplying and the ease of control. Exactly how that would explain them is a grade above your expertise. Your previous experience with Cyberspace cheating left you in tatters… but this rat isn’t a swordsman.You follow Atajo’s direction to the right door and kick your way in.What you find is a nightmare.Five Chrysoprase soldiers stand bound to one long wall. A rat clings to each of their necks. Cables run from their chests to a pedestal in the center of the room. On the pedestal stands some sort of pyramidal apparatus.Sticking out of the pyramid is your old left arm.Your drone generator.You step towards it, but subtle movement from the victims turns your head.Their eyes are following you.“Familiar, isn’t it?” A voice like oily gravel comes over the intercom. “It’s come in great… handy.” The rat king cackles.“Where’d you get this?!” You demand.“Where do you think? Unlike the Hunters, the Revolutionary Forces actually support one another! I needed a stronger kingdom, and… he… kindly provided!”A fresh rat drone crawls out of your old arm and jumps at you. You shoot it down, then level your buster at the pyramid holding your lost piece.“Ah-ah-ah, I wouldn’t! Those men are still alive, you know! Their cores are bound to it, bound to YOU in a manner of speaking, eh-heh-heh-heh. If you want to stop my infinite horde, you’ll need to sacrifice them… or I suppose you could come to the top floor and sacrifice me instead!”You curl your lip. “What sort of dilemma is that, Maverick? I’ll gladly retire you.”“Say, I have a riddle. How long does it take for rats to eat a whole reploid?”A wireframe pattern sheens over your old arm. Rat drones fountain out endlessly.“FRIG!” You swear.A tide comes for you, but a few rats flood to the captives and start gnawing on their boots.“Find me or find out!” Iteratton cackles.>Outrun the wave, get to the boss.>Break the generator and thereby kill the soldiers to stop the rat tide, -then- get to the boss.
>>2618569>Outrun the wave, get to the boss.We can leave thermite pools in our wake, frictionless slide-traps, arbor walls. Let's book it.
>>2618569>Outrun the wave, get to the boss.use trees and ice to create a wall behind us as we flee. That should slow them down.
Hit the arm with an arbor wallDon't try to destroy it, just make sure there isn't any room for rats to come out into
>>2618569Out old arm is super-armored and equipped for high temp.Arbor Root it AND set it on fire. If the roots burn away, then the soldiers were probably dead from the ones already eating them anyway. Better that than the rats eating up the roots.
>>2619351I'm not understanding something in the setup of your vote.Setting cyberwood on fire would not only weaken it, letting existing rats chew through easier, but it would constitute attack damage to the stolen arm and the device controlling it. There is no reason not to take Iteratton at his word when he says that breaking it would kill them.Which is fine, if your vote is to make that trade.But "then the soldiers were probably dead from the ones already eating them anyway" suggests that I might not have made my own setup clear. So let me say this:Iteratton is goading you into a race -- reach and engage him before a few rats gnaw the still-alive captives to death, or let them die and fight off the existing swarm yourself right away. Either way he has you at a disadvantage, which (he hopes) will bleed you of more health and focus before encountering him.
>>2619443.....hmm. I think I'm misunderstood something. I assumed that the soldiers would only die if the arm was destroyed, not if they register damage.you know what, just count it as a vote for Arbor Root, no fire. The rats aren't weak enough to the fire for this. If we can safely add the Ice move on top of that, throw it in.
>>2619491>I assumed that the soldiers would only die if the arm was destroyed, not if they register damage.Correct. But the arm is... well, an arm, and as such wouldn't have a lot of HP.Votes in, writing now.
>>2619512I guess. I figured>still heavier armored than we are right now>high temp specced>no sashimi knives in a 10 meter radiuswould be enough, but alright.
>>2619443I think the idea was that we have a near-immunity to our own thermite attacks, so the arm wouldn't be harmed by lower temperature fires.
>>2619565But does our severed arm have a functioning thermal regulator?
>>2618672>>2618705>>2618710>>2619179>>2619491This is bad. You try an Arbor Wall seed to put a lid on your stolen generator, and constricting wood does indeed form.“I’ll come back for you!” You promise the captives as you dash just ahead of rat teeth snapping at your tail. The last thing you hear on the way out is wood cracking.Top floor? Could he have been lying? You race up the stairs, rats chasing you like rising lava.“Atajo! Is he actually up there?”“Yeah, that call was coming from inside!”“Upstairs or down?!”“I’d check up first?”Not that you have a choice. The stairs, being central, spiral up and up and up, secured to the wall and each other. You keep ahead of them in pulses, outrunning by dash and lagging dangerously close by foot speed.Stairs ahead of you drop out of sight from the busy gnawing of waiting rats. You take the gap at a dash –>[Flex +1]and deftly clear it.Bodyjacked worker corpses charge down next, swinging pipes. They’re nothing a quick sabering can’t handle; you divide one at the waist and simply dash past the other. The rising rat tide claims them both. It’s hard to call an uphill charge between a predatory plague and aggressive roadblocks “uneventful,” but there’s only so many ways one can thwart a stair-climb. The falling steps are too few to fall into, and the enemies ahead of you too spaced out to be overwhelming. You’ve got the pattern locked in, and your specs and weapons see you through to the last jump – which requires a kick off the wall to reach the other side, the top floor.You watch the rat tide pour into the gap like so many lemmings. Several try to jump after you, but none make it.This floor is the smallest. The ceiling is cracked out completely, exposing the bowl to the sky. Nothing is ablaze; the white smoke instead comes from arrays of incinerator-like devices ringing the floor and pumping out toxins, billowing a hazy curtain wall around the large room.The rat king slow-claps from a throne of incinerators that looks a little like a pipe organ.“You made good time, Hunter! My vassals are only up to the batteries’ knees.”You charge your buster. “You get to put off retirement exactly long enough to answer this. Where is Meganeural Spectrod?”The king rises. “Reaping souls…”His hands withdraw into his rat-shaped forearm armor. The rat faces extend forward and bare incisors, forming biting claw weapons.“... Harvesting for the IDEAL WORLD!”>Act. >Arbor Wall: 5/12>Fluid Lockdown: 4/6>Gaia Sword: 5/6
>>2619643Keep our distance for now. Pelt him with shots, don't commit until he does. Maybe try to get him with some Lockdown to get him mad.
>>2619643Wow, we still have a lot of fluid uses.Keep Atajo's visual on us. We could possibly Freeze the incinerators, both to stop the toxin and to bait the rat king to get pushed off the roof.I suspect that he can use the smoke curtain as a stealth field. Keep a few thermite patches on the ground to make melee sticky, foot-melting business. Let our buster do the talking for now.
I'm torn between making a vermintide joke and making a jerma "we're the rats" joke.
>>2619643>>2619673Second.Keeping our distance for now, and trying Lockdown seems like a good idea.>>2619690...Second.I also support freezing the incinerators and using thermite on the ground. Because thermite might keep the minions away, and we don't wanna be bodyjacked in a boss fight. Or ever, really.
>>2619643Maybe it's just because of TMNT 2012, but I can't help but hear Jeffrey Combs, mentally.Try catching him with a Fluid Lockdown to see how it works against him.
He's *sitting* on the throne?>Interrupt his fucking monologue and arbor wall him to his chair.
>>2620321He *was* sitting, but he's still very near it. Action accepted!Going to do morning things and then get to writing.
>>2619673>>2619690>>2619813>>2620321>>2620686https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jf3vfoSICo4You switch-cancel your buster charge and fire an Arbor Wall seed at his ugly face. He looks surprised by the fakeout and catches the seed in a jaw-hand. It explodes into roots, snaring his arm and locking it extended to his chest.You capitalize with a Melter spit, but he’s already moving down the rim of incinerators. Three rat drones pop out of his stomach aperture where the rat-tails of his armor converge; one gnaws at the cyberwood while the other two rush you. They’re easy enough to shoot, but the distraction allows him to reach an incinerator and tinker with it.The smoke from the device now vents horizontally as well as vertically, and you lose him in a spreading cloud of surely-toxic fog.“Atajo, direction?”“He’s not on scans and there’s too much aerial smoke!”Iteratton leaps out of the cloud, going for your face. You dash right – and keep on dashing as a rat successfully clings to your leg. The good news is you get away. The bad news is you quickly collide with an incinerator, which is clearly touchy enough to explode from the impact. Your shields flash and you use the momentary respite to shoot the rat off.The incinerator was right at the edge. It’s a long way down.He comes at you again with a pair of rats flanking him, running on all fours as the incinerator he supercharged self-destructs. You switch to Fluid Lockdown and ice his path. He flails comically for purchase and slides right for you, but his rats safely skirt the ice.>Batter up.>Get away.>?
>>2620728>Batter up.I can't believe the two-hand is becoming useful so soon. I think the wood stake will keep him from flying away in the opposite direction?Have the buster set to Arbor Wall the floor if he manages to ratdash us towards the edge, otherwise it's time for a Thermite bath.
>>2620736>>2620764They’re not always this easy, but when they are, you prefer a hi-beam.You bring out your Gaia Sword and swing for the fences, scoring a beautiful slash across Iteratton’s chest, carving deep and blazing his shields. The cut actually contacts him too briefly to engage the stake.But now he and his rats are on top of you in a mad flurry of gnashing teeth.Your armor is decent, so Iteratton's powerful incisors don't go as deep as they might, but he still latches on hard and you feel a wave of drunkenness slosh under your flashing shields. He releases the bite but his rats don’t, and you find yourself jumping in place, only adding to the disorientation. You think you see him moving and fire a Melter rocket, but all the confirmation you get is a small explosion and a bursting omnidirectional plume of blue-white smoke.You time a dash to fire as you land and you springboard away toward an unbroken row of incinerators. It takes you a couple tries, but you saber off the rats – oh heck, you had your hi-beam on this whole time – and you come to a stop and stow it.The smoke thickens. Surely he’s somewhere in surely in somethere… your head swims. He must have bitten you with a whole crate of daiquiris. The haze left over from the first incinerator feels… itchy.>Act.
>>2620783Fluid the road ahead of us, rapid thermite random Incinerators, and dash onto the frozen ground firing an arbor seed ahead of us. Either it roots him and we tackle, or he avoids it and we have a good wall so we don't go off the roof.
>>2620787Makes sense, seconding.
>>2620787Solid enough, I think. Remember to charge something. In this case I'd say a long-range Melter. Either we turn and spit it at a long-distance target of opportunity/necessity, or we danger-close ourselves to free us of rats and then vomit raw thermite right after it.
>>2620787>>2620795>>2620822He’ll have to come out sometime. And when he does he’ll probably do it head-on to surprise, and again and again to whittle you down. He’s been tricking and whittling the whole mission. These are not the tactics of somebody wanting a stand-up fight.It might be the drunk injection talking, but you suddenly have the best idea.You start charging your throat and running toward the heavier smoke, paving your way zero-friction with two streams of Fluid Lockdown. You’re moving at ridiculous momentum when you reach the smoke and fire an Arbor Wall ahead.The seed snares his leap –>[Armor +1]--and you freight-train into him with a full-body tackle, crashing into an incinerator with an explosion to flash both your shields. Neither of you wait for the flashing to stop; he sinks his teeth in, throwing off shield sparks, and you open your mouth and paint his back with molten aluminum. You both let go and trade a graceless “YEARGH” as your shields take a breather, but his lets the hurt in only to flash again.Which is when you feel a bite on your calf.Your dash takes him with you. Before you realize it you’re both off the roof and plummeting.You have a ready dash, three Arbor Walls, a Fluid Lockdown... and about six seconds before impact.>Hit him close.>Hit him mid-range.>Think fast to avoid fall damage.
>>2620926How's our health?
Pardons for the delay, I was sending off query letters to literary agencies. (I've written a novel, yay me, shameless self-promotion over.)
>>2620926>Hit him mid-range.No more drunkenness for us.Are we within reach of the wall? If so: >Plunge Gaia saber into side of building, wait for stake to engage>Grab hold to slow fall>Aim Arbor Wall beneath us to catch onto, be ready with a second one if it snaps off or we need to daisychain from one to another to actually get to the wall.
>>2620931Down to one third.If you didn't have that Armor Plating, you'd be in big trouble right now.
>>2620926>Think fast to avoid fall damage.Wrap him in Arbor walls and use him as a landing cushion? Or wrap him up and finish with the Gaia Sword version of Zero's Hyoretsuzan thus negating fall damage! It could work!
>Think fast to avoid fall damage.You've heard the term 'crumple zone', right? Keep control of the grapple, and break the fall with him (and vice versa)
>>2620934Addendum: If we can slow our fall to safe levels, follow it up with a Fluid Lockdown straight down the side of the building. Let him scrabble to gain purchase and slide down that thing like it's teflon-coated.
>>2620935Yikes. Focus on minimising the fall damage, see if we can get him to take the brunt of it.
>>2620937>>2620938>>2620943>>2620947Tick.You take your Gaia Sword in both hands and sink it into the support rib you’re falling beside.Tock.The stake fires, taking some of your momentum as it snaps. Iteratton has flailed himself into getting claws on the building.Tick.You skid your fingertips down the side, spray his part of the wall with Fluid Lockdown and fire an Arbor Wall at an angle under you.Tock.Iteratton loses purchase and plummets, his clawing only pushing him off the icy surface. You break through your first Arbor Wall, but the second you shoot merely cracks under your weight.Tick.The rat king hits the tall wheat and soft ground. He doesn’t explode.Tock.Your nanite-addled artificial brain gets the best idea.Liege Iteratton gets up, dazed.The last thing he sees is the soles of your feet.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IfLEVw92GoYou sway, tittering, scorched a little by the rupture blast.“Really STEPPED in it now, didn’t I?” You giggle over open comms. “Tahoe, get, go get somebody to go and get my arm back, huh?”“Already on it. What’s your status?”You look straight up, thump your chest twice, kiss your fist and flash a Victory sign to your eye in the sky, all smiles.And then you tip over.
>>2621069…You wake up on a medical slab with the worst hangover of your life, your insides chilled from a detox flush. You haven’t needed one in years.You seem to be missing your arms and legs, until a sleepy glance-around reveals them hanging individually, fixed to tubes of liquid. You look a lot more like a fish without them.Vitamin crosses your line of sight. “Easy now. We’re just flushing the last of the junk out. You can speak if you like, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”“W’y nnnnnaut?” You slur so laughably drunk that you automatically giggle.“That’s why, Lieutenant,” your Lifesaver sighs. “There was more of that slop in you than Sixth’s last shore leave.”“Partially viral, too,” Skittle flits in, wiping their hands on a rag. “This is actually the third flush, and it took all day. We’ll pop your limbs back on after and you should be set to jet, like, but you really oughta stop coming back from missions outta commission.”“Nnnnoted,” you reply. “How’s the. The green guys?”“Save it for debrief. Sit tight, I’ll go give Turtle a knock-knock.” They flit away, and you start to take in the rest of where you are: it’s one of the look-in severe trauma rooms around the main medbay. You must have been really messed up.“Sorry,” you mumble to your medic.“There’s nothing to apologize for, ma’am. Your target was a nasty piece of work, from the story your injuries told. You did well to retire him.”Nice old good old Vitamin. He’s a good egg. You drift into a dull, chilly, not-unpleasant non-sleep until the sensation drains away like so much circulatory flush.Skittle reappears into your awareness to pivot a screen your way. “She might still be a little out of it, Turt, but she probably won’t giggle at you now.”“Please show greater deference, Warrant Officer,” sighs Turtle. “Lieutenant, are you well enough for debrief?”“Yes ma’am,” your slur disappears.>How are the victims?>How far did the poison get?>What was the deal with my arm?>?
>>2621073>How are the victims?>How far did the poison get?Ask the important questions first.
>>2621069HIGHLANDERBURIAL>>2621073>How are the victims?>How far did the poison get?
I think you linked the wrong video. Here's the correct one:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l60RqvwSX_0
>>2621097I'll do you one better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFWqwE65u4c
>>2621073>How are the victims?>How far did the poison get?
>>2621073>How are the victims?>How far did the poison get?>What was the deal with my arm?all de questions!
>>2621083>>2621090>>2621097>>2621105>>2621315“Very well,” Turtle begins. “To begin with, let me pass along praise from my American counterpart for your efforts in rescuing the Chrysoprase squads.”“They all made it out okay?”“Each and every. He told me that the Beta squad was recovered from dire straits indeed, but the Alpha squad returned with comparatively light injuries for what they went through – bought at a cost of viral injury to your own person, no less. As a result,” her tone lilts more formal, “with the recommendation of Commander Gausslance Giraffe and my quite instant approval, you’ve been awarded your second Ruban d’Espoir. Congratulations. Warrant Officer?”Skittle flips open a little ring box and pins a forked red ribbon medal to your shoulder. … Your disembodied shoulder.“And to continue on that thread,” says Turtle, “the approval for another commendation has finally cleared. Therefore, Lieutenant Meteor Showa, in recognition of your recent return to standard duty after sustaining serious personal injury in the Bahamas outpost of the Veracruz Twelfth Tropical Unit, you are awarded the Black Shield. Warrant Officer?”Skittle digs in a toolpack, withdraws a black escutcheon medal, makes a show of buffing it with a microfiber rag, and sticks it on your dismounted shoulder next to your ribbon. They give a sparkly smile and wave their hands under it like a game show award presenter.Well that’s a nice way to wake up.“Now, Lieutenant,” Turtle gets back to business, “regarding your mission?”“Yes ma’am. Beam-in was at the pre-secured post office…”You go on, hitting high points and low, pausing only once.“Incidentally, Commander, what exactly was in that smoke?”“Marici-three food, to put it curtly. Benzene, fine-particulate mercury, chlorine-heavy dioxins, even some perchloroethylene, among the more complicated compounds he pumped into the agriculture.”“How far did it spread?”“No farther, thanks to you, but traces are being cleaned up in four states as we speak. The Black Skies outbreak is coming under control as well. As a point of interest, the artificial forest you recently cleared is taking the plague poorly – much of the canopy is denuded – but I’m told it’s recoverable. Now please, continue.”You do, all the way to the end.“Well done, Lieutenant. Now there’s one other matter…” She seems to look away at a different monitor on her end. “At zero-three-hundred there will be a major news conference in Geneva, ten o’clock in the morning there. Commander Halcyon and other luminaries will reportedly announce the official end of the Repliforce War.”
>>2621353“Little premature, isn’t it?”“Tell me about it,” Skittle rolls their eyes as they dismount your decorated arm from the detox apparatus.“The Maverick War ended before the complete cessation of Maverick hostilities,” Turtle reminds you both. “The same principle applies here. My point is that, given your personal interest in history, you may wish to avoid taking a roster assignment until it’s over.”Three in the morning, huh? That gives you a good seven hours.“Yes ma’am, I think I’ll wait.”“I thought as much. Given that the Hour will be closed at the time, I’ll have it playing in the lounge – where I myself will be, with drinks provided. You’re welcome to join.”“Commander,” you grin, “are you actually inviting me to go drinking?”“In an air of celebration, Showa,” her eyes twinkle. “For the whole unit. Until then.”Turtle’s image blinks out. Skittle hauls your arm back to the slab while Vitamin handles the other one.“Turns out she’s pretty cool sometimes, eh?” Your fairy friend tinkers a little in your shoulder socket before reconnecting it. “Anything else you wanna know?”>About my stolen arm…>Less talk, more upgrades.
>>2621354>About my stolen arm…I'd love for us to have our fish drones back, they were pretty cool.
>>2621354>About my stolen arm…Oh, let's give them a chance to prattle on about tech, they do so love it.
>>2621354>About my stolen arm...I'll go out on a limb and guess that it isn't wholly recoverable.
>>2621379That doesn't discount the possibility of salvaging a new upgrade from it at a discount
>>2621354>About my stolen arm...Maybe they could give us a hand with getting back to our old self?
>Can you run the odds on having to face a bunch of Showa Hunters for the rest of my body, then fighting a clone named Comet Karasu or something?
>>2621361>>2621362>>2621379>>2621537“Yeah, did they recover my old arm?”Skittle winces and sucks an inward sigh. “Yeah, uh…”“What? I’d kinda like to have it back.”“Hey Vite, handle the rest, will ya?” Skittle abandons their work and flies out the door. “Come see me in my lab!”You blink. “What was that about?”“I’m afraid your arm was unrecoverable, ma’am,” Vitamin breaks it to you as he remounts your other arm. “The drone generator was not only rewritten, it was corrupted with a strain of the Maverick Virus present neither in our database nor in the nanomachine injections we extracted from you. Evidently it’s a form that trades contagion for strength – the effects are powerful, but you can’t catch it by conventional methods. It’s currently being studied by Valence Proteus.”“Shoot. Well, I guess if it would help our intel…”Vitamin prepares your right leg for remounting. “Iteratton’s DNA was also thoroughly corrupted by this new strain, and therefore it has been embargoed. Even if the weapon data was extracted and recompiled, Hunter regulations prohibit the use of tactical thralldom systems for officers of your rank. Which, Their Highness claims, is all that he had. I’m sorry.”You quietly absorb that as your thigh returns to your hip. “So you’re saying I get nothing?”“Not so. I believe your commission has been uploaded already.”Vitamin hands you your datapad off a countertop, then disconnects your other leg from detox. You check to make sure everything cleared.MISSIONC O M P L E T E- B-Rank Mission Parameters Complete: 25,000z- Elimination of Ecological Hazard: 5,000z- Gratitude, CABOCHON Chrysoprase Squadron Pool: 1,000zTOTAL: 31,000zACCOUNT: 35,000zSeems in order… but you can’t believe they’re actually denying you a bite at a DNA melon after taking down a hostile Maverick.You wonder with no small amount of trepidation what Skittle wanted to talk to you about.Vitamin reattaches your leg and gives your systems a good once over, then wishes you well and sends you on your way. It only takes a moment to get where you’re going.
>>2621571https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-wQvMU3feYSkittle’s upgrade-lab monitors show schematics of koi, for some reason. They rub their hands in anticipation.“H’awright, here’s the sitch. Vitamin said you’re getting nothing from the rat, right?”“Nothing but zenny, yes.” The koi are familiar types…“The thing is, as your handler, regs say I can still get you a weapon emulation from stock database entries reasonably germane to the one you might’ve gotten. But THEN I thought,” they flit your way with a dramatic shrug, “why get you something UNrelated that might have compatability issues, when I know of other sources that match you perfectly?”“Other sources…?” You look again at the koi. There are three designs, and the color patterns happen to be...The zenny drops.“Scatter Seelie did you get my FAMILY’S weapon data?”Skittle puts their wrists together and claps their fingertips.“Just the Hunters! Three little e-mails and they jumped at the chance to help you. You’ve got one-time access to any of ‘em! And since all their core systems are production models of your prototype generator, AND since the rat bastard had drones too, I’ve bent regulations into a nice neat hole for one of their fish to swim through! You’re getting your pets back!”You breathe a laugh, and wonder if there’s a word for fraternal love wrapped up in happy guilt.
>>2621571>Even if the weapon data was extracted and recompiled, Hunter regulations prohibit the use of tactical thralldom systems for officers of your rank. Rest in Peace, Fish Drones.Maybe in the future we will have you back.
>>2621578[b]UPGRADES:[/b]VWES:Liege Iteratton’s drone-generating DNA has been irretrievably corrupted with a new strain of the Maverick virus. Command will not authorize its acquisition, or its use in the field, under any circumstances.This has not stopped Scatter Seelie from meddling.>Remote Koi v2:Skittle has gone over your head and contacted your Maverick Hunter siblings – Armor Tancho, Swift Asagi, and Bright Kujaku – in order to gain access to copies of their core-system DNA. Hunter regulations permit you to select only one, but when you do, you may once again produce Remote Koi (at a cost of weapon energy).12 shots, two drones active at once. You cannot use another VWES entity while a drone is active; switching will cause drones to gently self-destruct. Each koi drone can fly, swim, and autonomously spit a laser beam at hostile targets within range. Each kind, however, has different properties. Damage: “Low” is equivalent to a first-stage (standard) buster round per second. “Mid” = second-stage.Defense: “Low” can be destroyed in one hit by a low-phase saber or equivalent. “Mid” = high-phase or equivalent.Range: The maximum distance at which the drone can obey your commands.Agility: The drone’s programmed maneuvering responses.Select one:>TANCHO:Damage: Low.Defense: Mid.Range: Close.Agility: Will automatically throw itself between you and any incoming damage, taking the blow for you.>ASAGI:Damage: Low.Defense: Low.Range: Long.Agility: Unpredictable; high evasion.>KUJAKU:Damage: Mid.Defense: Low.Range: Mid.Agility: Predictable; low evasion.Scatter Seelie solemnly swears they are up to no good. “Inspired” by Corona Sphynx’s DNA, they have proposed an idea.HANABI: Any koi drone you produce can, on command, ram into a target and explode into flame for damage equivalent to a third-stage buster shot. This kills the drone. 5k.Scatter Seelie cannot be stopped from meddling. For an initial equipment fee, they have offered to permanently improve your future drone options by combining key traits. Purchasing this option will, later, unlock a greater combination.WAKIITA (30,000 zenny):KI UTSURI: Tancho + Asagi.>Damage: Low.>Defense: Mid.>Range: Mid.>Agility: Will automatically throw itself between you and any incoming damage, taking the blow for you.HI UTSURI: Asagi + Kujaku.>Damage: Mid.>Defense: Low.>Range: Long.>Agility: Unpredictable; high evasion.SHIRO UTSURI: Kujaku + Tancho.>Damage: Mid.>Defense: Mid.>Range: Mid.>Agility: Predictable; low evasion.
>>2621587GENERAL:Current Zenny: 35,000Meteor Melter:(Additional upgrades unavailable at this time.)Manual Weapons:>High-Phase SaberUptunes your current lo-beam to a hi-beam. More destructive power per swing, but limited active seconds of use. 5,000 zenny.>Ceratanium AxeThe long-hafted axe of a woodsman, or perhaps a headsman, once carried by Arbor Elk. Though slower to swing than any beam saber, its damage is still equal to a low-phase blade. It can also parry other solid weapons, pierce energy-nulling defenses, and knock back foes of equal or lesser mass than you. Requires two Gear slots to carry and two hands to use. 10,000 zenny.>Thagomizer PickOn the logic that “it’d be right baller, like,” Scatter Seelie has offered to craft you a short-hafted pickaxe weapon modeled after Freezer Ostenops’s spiked tail. Though slower to swing than any beam saber, its damage is still equal to a low-phase blade. It can also parry other solid weapons, pierce energy-nulling defenses, and puncture armor with great precision. Requires one Gear slot to carry and one hands to use. 5,000 zenny.Weapon Upgrades:>Sakura SaberEither one of your beam sabers takes on a cosmetic katana curve and a harmless light effect: its wake sheds a gradient of cherry blossoms. The hilt is modified with cyberwood to be held two-handed for greater striking speed, and adds a short hammering spike on the pommel, while still fitting in a single Gear slot. 1,000 zenny per saber.>Fire Element:“Inspired” by Corona Sphynx’s DNA, Scatter Seelie has offered to add high-temperature combustion to any one of your melee weapons for added damage. 10,000 zenny.>Ice Element:“Inspired” by Freezer Ostenops’s DNA, Scatter Seelie has offered to add an advanced cryomer compound projector – because “fuck the Leidenfrost Effect” – to any one of your melee weapons for added damage. 10,000 zenny.FRAME:Your chassis may take three upgrades to your Frame. Each new part increases your survivability in a specific way. Each one costs a flat 50,000 zenny, even if it’s a higher Level of the same part.You do not currently have 50,000 zenny, but you may still browse the options. Your previous purchase has limited your options.>Solid Plating:Level 1 [Purchased]: Reduces incoming damage by one fourth, effectively lengthening your health bar by an extra quarter.Level 2: Reduces incoming damage by one third of base.>Flex Architecture:>Level 1 [Purchased]: Mildly increases reflexes and guards against breakage of major body parts.Level 2: Moderately increases reflexes and limits breakage of major body parts.Level 3: Significantly increases reflexes and all but prevents breakage of major body parts.>Barrier Extender:Level 1: Lengthens shield flare to 1.5 seconds and mildly hastens its refresh rate, making the invincibility cycle more difficult to thwart.Level 2: Lengthens shield flare to 2 seconds and moderately hastens its refresh rate.
>>2621578>>2621584...I have very much posted too quickly.Foot, meet mouth.>>2621587>>2621606>HI UTSURIIf we're getting our drones back, might as well go big.That long range and Mid damage would be nice to have.
(Wow I whiffed on the formatting. But there you are.)
>>2621584>>2621611The future is today!
>>2621587mmm, waking up to upgrades is the best.>Kujaku>HanabiMy reasoning is that we don't WANT to keep the drones alive for long. Whether they ram the target or get picked off while we personally deal damage, it keeps the time where we can use other VWES entities open.>Thagomizer Pick>Ice Element
>>2621587>>2621606Awwww yiss.Whatever we get, Hanabi is a definite. Does it activate immediately upon destruction, or does it require them to impact?I lean towards the Asagi Hanabi, personally, and save the rest for a frame upgrade later.
>Asagi+HanabiWe long range now>Thagomizer Pick+Ice ElementWe short range now
>>2621683Hanabi gives you the option to tell a given drone to explode into something.
>>2621587Can we upgrade into the Utsuri upgrades down the road? Because right now I'd suggest we hold off if it's not a now-or-never. To that end:1: We want to save some money for our final Frame upgrade.2: Thagomizer plus Ice for 15k is pricey but would only take one slot, leaving us with the Gaia Saber as well.3: I would honestly say either Tancho for a trade-ammo-for-artificial durability bolster, or Kujaku. A plinking gun isn't going to help us where we need it most.4: Hanabi is a definite for only 5k.I'd say for now we either go Ice Pick for 15k or regular pick for 5, plus Hanabi for 5, and then wait to upgrade the fish from one template if we can.
>>2621841Yes, you can upgrade the fish later on if you like.
>>2621587>ASAGI>HANABII got wicked premonitions of homing kamikaze fish and I can't not choose this now.
Can we put the sakura option onto the drones as well?I'm thinking of attack patterns that came straight out of a Hawaiian shirt
>>2621606BASIC DRONE:>AsagiMUST HAVE:>HanabiPLAN TO UPGRADE TO:>Hi UtsuriWOULD BE PRETTY COOL IF WE DON'T UPGRADE DRONES IMMEDIATELY:>Thagomizer Pick + Ice Element for 15KIf we save for a frame upgrade, perhaps flex? I'm not quite sure what we get. Then again, we can't afford it right now so it's all speculation at this point.
>>2622717Oh, and "gotenzakura" is actually already a cool looking koi pattern, nice.
I'm having second thoughts about the Hi Utsuri. That would be pretty choice, and I suppose having a low-beam along instead of the pick gives us better protracted melee defense.My biggest concern is not squirreling away anything toward the last Frame improvement. Maybe if we get a big payout again we can put half of it towards it next time?I dunno, what do you guys think?
>>2622993We've still got several more targets to take out, many of them A rank, which means more payout per mission. Speaking of which, if I'm not around when the vote goes through, I'm voting for the bomb guy, unless something drastic happens in the meantime.
>>2622993I think 30k is a lot of money for something that prevents us from pulling out a different VWES. It's a good pick for specializing into sheer volume of fire, but against bosses the one it would have been best against is Ostenops.Morpho is the next best one, but more damage isn't as good when they'll likely be shooting clones
Okay, though let's make a pact right now to be thrifty on our next payout.My actual, official vote is thus:>Hi Utsuri (30k)>Hanabi (5k)Let's make some fireworks.
>>2623001It's the level 3 charge shot explosions plus fast, unpredictable evasion that gets my attention. Long-range support (while leaving us free to charge up a prominence or a meteor grenade) will let us crossup enemies and force them into the kind of lose-lose situations Itteraton was chewing us up with. Plus, with Hanabi, when we DO need to switch off, we can just send them downrange to ablate a shot, distract an enemy, or explode.
>>2623001Does using the drones require that we not swap VWES?
>>2623010Can't use other VWES while they're engaged or they poof.
>>2623012Sounds about right, which makes the kamikaze function more appealing.
>>2621627>>2621683>>2621720>>2621841>>2621938>>2622739>>2623004>>2623011>>2623016~ ZENNY ERROR, TIEBREAKER VOTE ~-Asagi drone locked-Hanabi add-on lockedSelect One:>Hi Utsuri upgrade, 0 zenny remaining>Thagomizer Pick + Ice Element, 15,000 zenny remaining
>>2623034>Hi Utsuri upgrade, 0 zenny remaining
>>2623034>>Hi Utsuri upgrade, 0 zenny remaining
>>2623034oof, if Asagi is locked then I don't have a choice.>Hi Utsuri upgrade, 0 zenny remaining
>>2623041Popular fish, that.
>>2623035>>2623036>>2623038>>2623041“… How do you even combine them?”“Oh c’mon,” Skittle buffs their knuckles on their chest, “look at who you’re talking to. This is just weapon data. I can’t combine their DNA outright, but I can tweak traits like nobody’s business.”“Then give me Asagi with a side of Kujaku and make them explode.”“Ha-HAH, I knew you’d like that. Great choice, too, you’ll open up some serious barrage potential at multiple ranges. It’ll really put the Meteor in Meteor, it will, get me?”You nod. “Oh right, I meant to ask too – is there a way I can charge my buster and Melter at the same time?”Skittle tilts their head and thinks for all of three seconds. “Yes. It’ll take some specialized capacitors, though, which I’ll have to order and then tailor to you. So gimme a while on that. In the meantime, come sit and watch me do fish alchemy.”You do just that. The combining actually takes longer than the install; design schematics lay side by side, internal parts copy across, reams of data scroll by on a smaller monitor.In no time at all you have your third VWES entity.“Go on, try it,” Skittle encourages.“Here?”“Well don’t make it kamikaze in here, but yeah.”You point your buster at the ceiling and produce one lava-colored fish, forty centimeters long. It hovers a somersault and comes to a placid stop at your eye level, bobbing in elevation and swishing its tail.[DRONE ACTIVE], your HUD tells you.Skittle flutters around it, scrutinizing with their hand on their chin. “Repulsor stability looks good, coloration border’s got some artifacts but your targets won’t care… step outside a sec?”You walk out to the hall of unused quarantine cells. Your fish follows behind.“Now test it.”“What?”“Pick a door that isn’t mine and try out the settings. Don’t worry, I’ll spackle over any damage.”“If you’re sure…”“Oh, please, it’s not like they’re occupied. Try it!”
>>2623060You aim a targeting reticule at a quarantine door and tell your drone to fire. It spits a red laser that stings a neat hole in the armor plating. After a second the contact site weeps, red-hot.“Nice, nice,” Skittle nods like a master crafter, “generators fabricated smoothly…”“Was that in doubt?”“Nope! Now switch out.”You select Arbor Wall. The drone sparks a little from the gills and flops limp to the ground. You switch back, but it’s unresponsive.“Why can’t I reuse it?”“Wireless power transmission from the buster. It gets cut off and the autonomous systems freak out and die.”“Can you make them not do that?”“Nope, that’s what even the core system does. You never get better than the original with an emulation, even a super-high-quality one like what your sibs sent over. Not without additional DNA synthesis, anyway.” They clap giddily. “Now make another, I wanna see it go off bang!”You do as requested. Both of you stand well back as you order your new fish to attack the end of the hall. It does indeed go off bang in a bright fireball. The effect is much lesser than you feared, but the scorch mark is promising.“Sweeeeet. Y’know I can probably put some glitter in the pop, free of charge.”“Don’t you dare.”“Fine, fine. Lemme get you topped off. Whatcha up to tonight?”“Definitely catching that announcement out of Geneva.”“I meant before that.”>?
>>2623063Let's catch up on what (if anything) has changed since we finished up with the rats.
>>2623063Now we just need to summon 6 kois at the same time and you can call us Koistorm Gopher>Check the repliforce "news">Work out any potential anger issues after that doing koi gymnastics at the range
>>2623063>Check the news>Wander around with a koi drone on our shoulder like a parrot
>>2623065>>2623066>>2623079“I might just wander,” you shrug. “Not out to the city, though, I’m feelin’ kinda cozy.”“Well, coze yourself out, I’ve got a backlog of reports to do for Proteus. You’ve been testing well, so that’ll make him happyish.”“What would make him unhappyish?”“If you came back dead or irregular. So don’t, yeah?”You don’t plan to.You head out, idly reading your Spazer news feed.>CARACAS JOSTLED BY 4.1 QUAKEBrief tremors in Caracas earlier this week have been punctuated by a 4.1 earthquake. While the cause is unknown, residents have taken to social media with pictures of fallen lawn chairs and…>BOLIVARAN ARMED FORCES SUFFER SETBACKThe Venezuelan army’s attempted precision strike of the Maracaibo Battle & Chase Speedway ended in tragedy when two assault craft were shot down by anti-aircraft fire from former race star Chaser Girtabomb. Repliforce insurgents occupied the crash site, expanding influence in… >SWISS PRESIDENT GREETS DIGNITARIESEarlier this evening, President Klauser was on-hand to greet the arrival of representatives from the EU, AU, and World Robotics Council for tomorrow morning’s formal declaration of the end of…>MOROCCAN RESORT SACKEDPirates assaulted the resort town New Agadir earlier today, taking a veritable fleet of private yachts and successfully depleting many private financial accounts. Some shaken tourists are being treated for hearing loss, while others…>ASTRO CYGNUS: “DDOS ATTACKS TO BLAME” FOR MULTI-COLONY BLACKOUTThe brief communications blackout of three space colonies and the temporary loss of contact with the mining worlds has been blamed on Maverick activity originating in South America. While the exact motive is…>HALCYON: MAVERICK SYMPATHIZER?IF COMMANDER HALCYON ACTS IN THE INTEREST OF HUMANITY, WHY HAS HE CREATED SELF-HEALING REPLOIDS? WHY WAS HE SEEN WITH COLONEL AFTER THE WAR HAD BEGUN? WHY DID HE TAKE MONEY FROM MAVERICKS? WHY WOULD—(The headline and story lede are suddenly deleted…)>REPLIFORCE CAPTIVES RESCUED Brave refugees from a Repliforce logging operation in the southern United States have begun returning home. Captured for forced labor, the…>(CYBER)SPACE ODDITYReports from multiple countries indicate a potential new hazard of Cyberspace usage. A total of ninety-one reploids, reportedly heavy users of the platform, have fallen into strange comas with their DNA reset to default factory state…That last one stops you.
>>2623366He’s still out there, then. You clearly weren’t the first or last. “Harvesting souls for the ideal world,” Iteratton said… what are they planning, clone troopers? And who is the “they,” anyway, Repliforce or the Mavericks? Questions you’re sure you’re not alone in pondering. Something’s cooking out there in the digital aether… and while you might not be back to 100%, you feel ready to try.You take stock. You’re already faster than you were, still respectably sturdy, and filling out on good tools to use creatively and bring down the hurt. You could always use more practice with them, however. You head to the range.The evening goes about its business on the way. You notice the roaming and loitering Cabochons more easily, having so recently saved a few. Due to your mistake with decommissioning the Steel Berets and the unfortunate defection of so many Standards, over seventy-five percent of the Veracruz Fourth is from the Cabochon family. Chrysoprases form the bulk, of course, but the generalist nature of the unit means you spot more than just the green guys.“You see the last episode, the future-tense one?” A male-type Howlite, white and aerial, asks a female-type Chrysoprase passing by you.“No, shut up, I hate spoilers,” she says.“It’s not a spoiler, it’s just a setting change!” Her friend objects.“Yeah but you can still guess how things go from all the stupid hints they leave around,” she objects back as they leave earshot.The range is seeing some good use for after-dark hours. You don’t see Flurry, but a wandering Howlite seems to be helping the Chrysoprases out. The range itself has the shooting lanes, which you pass with a nod to Thompson, but further in past the hall to the sims is the sparring octagon. Jaguar used to host “camaraderie-building sporting exchanges” there every month or so, and it was always open to friendly duels.The duel going on right now looks decidedly unfriendly.Volt Batteram is in there, facing Rubus the female Standard Beret from the Decommissions office. He’s head and shoulders taller than her and at least half again her mass. They’re going at it barefisted, Rubus hailing blows into Volt’s guarding arms. He spies an opening and exploits it. His headbutt crashes into her like, well, a ram, staggering her backward several steps. The crowd groans.>Interrupt>Stand and watch>Ask a spectator for details
>>2623066We'll get a charged version that churns them out in fours and call it the School.
>>2623372>Ask a spectator for detailsI get the feeling both of them need to blow off some steam and this might be the best way to.
>>2623372>Ask a spectator for details.
>>2623382>>2623398>>2623570You gently nudge a Larimar, a blue aquatic-type Cabochon, as she shakes her head at the sight. She glances at you, then stands up straighter in recognition.“What’s the fight about?” You ask.“I got here late, ma’am,” the Larimar replies, “but I think the Lieutenant K-O’d a different Standard and the one in there now got mad.”“Did he start this?” You narrow your eyes into the ring.Rubus puts her fists back up. Volt stays on guard, circling around her… until he sees you. Rubus capitalizes on the hesitation and clocks him an uppercut to the chin.The crowd goes wild, particularly the far corner. You skirt the edge until you see them: the rest of Decommissions. Hotel Two is sporting some dents, Daucus shriek-cheers for her wife, and Golf Niner watches with a hand clamped over his mouth.“Get ‘im! You get ‘im! That’s my Raspberry!” Daucus pumps her fists in the air.“Cap—uh, Meteor!” Golf notices you. “You, um, this isn’t what it looks like…”“Really?” You speak up over the crowd. “And what does it look like?”“Like I’m the second-stupidest motherfucker in the room,” Hotel grouses. He looks like he earned the right.“Did he pick a fight with you, Hotel?”“No ma’am,” he ignores the crowd reactions punctuated by metal on metal impacts. “He made us a deal: take him on and he’d talk to Sixth about all the work they dump on us.”“And?”Rubus slams into the ring’s kinetic repulsor edge and crumples to the floor. Daucus yelps and shoves through the crowd to enter at the other side.“Rubus got mad at me for losing,” Hotel thumbs over.You’ve seen all you need to. You nudge through more politely and step up to the ring.“Meteor,” Volt nods, cordially.“Volt I’m not your superior anymore so I’m asking you to knock this off. Please.”“Butt out,” Rubus growls as Daucus helps her back up. “I haven’t beaten him yet!”“I can’t believe this!” You snap. “Volt, you said you’d stop making life difficult for them!”“I am,” your taciturn friend replies. “I did. No more hassle from my office. But I could do more for them. I’m doing it now. They get less work. Fourth gets Standards who can fight. Win-win.”“You call beating up an outclassed unitmate a win?”“I offered, they accepted.”“This is ridiculous, Volt.”“No it’s not, ma’am,” Rubus insists, despite her significant dents. “He’s teaching, and I’m learning,” her tone rolls into a growl, “and goddammit those Cabs stopped booing at us ten minutes ago. He’s right, he’s been right all along, Standard Berets won’t get respected sitting behind desks and pushing data. Let us work this out. Please.”
>>2623716You still can’t believe this, but for a different reason. Rubus used to be a navigator. She was made to sit behind a desk and push data, and now she looks like she was beaten with that desk. You always knew her as an aggressive personality, but this… she’s deliberately hurting herself to make her model line look better.“Or.” Volt rolls his neck. “You can step up next.”You blink. He was talking to you.>You’re on, buddy.>No. Rubus can keep going.>No. You two can sim-train, it's less punishing.
>>2623721>You’re on, buddy."Two conditions: One, fists only, just like this. Two, you--all of you--promise me you're actually getting something out of this."
>>2623721I don't like it, but I'm also loathe to butt in. Stepping in and playing the white knight seems like the wrong move.>No. Rubus can keep going.But keep an eye on it.
>>2623721>No. Rubus can keep going.
>>2623792My thought is that if Showa gets the shit kicked out of her and is very clearly not enjoying it, but is staying in it to prove a point, it might make Volt realize that's exactly what's going on. Might also dissuade the Standards from it, too.
>>2623880Alright, I'd say we see what Rubus thinks of the proposition. If she's game for a substitute, step in.
>>2623366What the hell does humpback need private yachts for?
>>2624175Pirates like stolen goods to fence.
>>2623880sorry, I'm not really sure what point we'd be trying to prove here. That Volt made an offer that couldn't be refused, and is thus being an asshole?
>>2624200I mean, we don't want to let this fighting go, so we're willing to go get a drubbing from a (probably) superior melee opponent to make it stop.Swap their cause for ours and it's pretty much identical.
>>2623721>No. Rubus can keep going.Just doesn't feel right to step in for multiple reasons.
I'm caught between wanting to move on and looking at a deadlock that unfortunately happened with my finger on the Post button an hour and a half ago. I'm therefore taking the presented arguments as additional fractions of a vote.And so:>>2623779>>2624034“You’re kidding.”“Nope.” He beckons.Now you’ve gone and done it. You came to train up, but a fistfight with an offensive melee specialist wasn’t what you had in mind… but letting your recent subordinate take a pummeling is no alternative. Heck.The crowd starts to choose for you, chanting “Me-te-or! Me-te-or!”“You’ve proven you’re not hiding,” you ignore them and address Rubus, “how about you get your dents pounded out and let me tag in?”The Standard couple exchanges a look. You guess some direct-texting is going on. At the end of it Rubus sags her posture, letting her damage finally get to her.“I’ll be back later and you can’t stop me, ma’am.”“I know.”“You’re not helping us as much as you think.”“I know. But I’m still helping you. Any big picture starts small.”Rubus doesn’t meet your eyes on her way out, but Daucus does, with open gratitude.You step further into the ring as the crowd noisily approves.“Now let’s get one thing straight,” you tell them, “I bet some of you were only interested in this because of their model. Right?”You get some assenting noises.“To see what Standards could do?”A murmur of yeahs.“Just in case you ever had to retire them?”Fewer murmurs, petering into silence.“Well I won’t have it,” you point at them collectively. “I’ll say this once and you’d better internalize it. Nobody and I mean NObody should have to prove themselves by getting their face punched in! We are a goshdarned UNIT, here! They already have your back like you’re supposed to have theirs! Why don’t you KNOW that?!”You huff, angrily, the stage entirely yours.“And another thing. That trust breaks down like a sand castle if you watch somebody fight just for pointers on how to retire them. We don’t DO that here. The sims last week? The ones that let us fight each other to the death if we wanted? There is a freaking REASON they took those down. You start practicing to kill your friends Just In Case, you start that practice like you expect it’s inevitable, like nobody has a choice in it, and…” you shake your head. “I don’t know what we become, but I don’t like it.”You finally face your opponent. “I don’t like it,” you repeat. “But I like you. And I like the idea of showing you how stupid you’re being so you stop pulling this crap. Okay, Volt?”Volt settles into a boxer stance, his body language a little stiff, hard to read. He says nothing.You straighten your body and ball your fists as the kinetic barrier goes up. “No abilities, no vee-wess, fists only. Got it?”“Mm.”>Go high.>Go low.>Stick and move.>Hold your ground.
>>2624513>Go low.>Stick and move.We've got more mobility than we ever had (apparently), let's see if we can surprise him.
>>2624513I'm good with this outcome.>Go low.>Stick and move.
>>2624513>Go low.>>Stick and move.Keep the antler punching to a minimum
>>2624556>>2624607>>2624608Okay. Okay. Assess. He has superior reach, and technique, and strength. You have… poor decision-making abilities, apparently. But you also have a body with different specs than it had a week and a few days ago.He advances. You angle your shoulders to telegraph a high left swing and then do the opposite when he twitches his right arm to ready a block. You connect a jab to his gut, juke out to dodge his reply, fake another high left in return and jab again. He hooks a strong right –>[Flex +1]But you’re out of there before it connects, backpedaling to crowd praise.Your flicker of confidence blows horizontal with his next rush. He goes low, left-left-right-left-right-right, faster than Flex parts can outperform, though you do successfully block the last. He goes on guard, seeming to expect an immediate return, but you don’t give it to him, backpedaling again a few steps. He commits to following you, which is when you spring forward again and light into him below the shoulders.You try to mix up the pattern, but he reads you too well. He blocks when you strike, follows when you take flight. You only land a good hit when you repeat a previous pattern and then break it early. The second time this works, however, you overcommit. He breaks your attempted fist barrage combo with an overhand arc –>[Flex +1]Which you dodge again, to great adulation.But now he has his head down, weight on his front leg, and you’re off balance.He closes in and uppercuts deep, center-mass. Your feet leave the ground. Your tail leaves the ground. The crowd makes a sound that summarizes how you feel. Before you can even touch the floor again he lands four more blows and a siege-weapon right straight, ramming you back –>[Armor +1]Only a few feet, far less than the trip he sent Rubus on. You drop to one knee and wait for your shields to stop flashing.“I’m doing my best but you’re kickin’ my butt here.”“Mm.”“You think that means my family’s not doing everything they can?”He looks at you quizzically, his guard down.>Exploit it immediately.>Take a breather, reassess.>Keep the strategy.>Switch up.
>>2624955>Take a breather, reassess.we need him to think, not for us to win>Switch upHe's got superior strength, so how about we pin his arms before they can pick up speed? Self-defense techniques, anything to deny attacks and delay the inevitable loss.
>>2624955>Exploit>Switch it up
>>2624955>Take a breather, reassess.>Switch up.
>>2624955>Exploit it immediately.>Switch up.His shock will be like punctuation.
>>2624959>>2625401>>2625677You touch one of your dents and check your fingers for circulatory leaks, playing for time.“You hate Standards for not proving enough, right? Not enough of them giving enough of themselves often enough? Why not use that same logic with me and beat up my line until it starts fighting harder?”Volt raises his fists in a guarded stance, his left slightly lower. He’ll surely be ready for what you throw, wherever you throw it, and tag you on your exit…“Because you’re different,” he says. “You know the need and meet it. You’re not a coward.”… Oh he’s not getting an exit this time.You light into him, patterns and pattern-breaks coming fast. As he blocks and accepts and tosses counters you can evade, you shout over the cheers:“Chagoi! Kohaku! They can fight but they choose not to! Asagi! Kujaku! They could’ve been frontline but they chose not to! I would never force them into it! Why are you trying to force the Standards?!”He blocks to glance your straight right, buying himself deep inside your guard for the hurt to begin. In the conversation of sparring, he listened politely, and now his retort is shouting.“You want to know?! I’m helping them prove they’re better than the traitors! If I have to drag them into that, I will!” He lances a left hook through your defenses and starts a combo you can’t stop. “Nobody moves on by sitting still! Why don’t you know that?!”His arc to the side of your head knocks you to your knee. He leaves you there, stepping back, awaiting more.You don’t provide, not yet. You wipe your wrist over your broken lip; your right eye is giving you some artifact flicker.“We’re not… we’re not machines, darn it. We’re people. We have the right not to work ourselves to death. We don’t have to fight to prove we’re worth dignity.” You get up rolling both shoulders and flexing your fingers; the crowd sounds pleased. “We fight just ‘cause we want to.”“People depend on us to fight. It’s what we’re for.”“They depend on us to serve, dummy. And how can we serve best if we’re forced into slots we don’t fit?”“Then we make those our slots.”That’s it. You dredge up the kernel of your hurt feelings and use it to power your fists as you advance on him.“My youngest brother. Kumonryu.” Jab, dodge, double-dodge his chase. “He was quiet, creative, wanted to go into Recon like Asagi. But his specs were too high, his drones too strong, so they shuffled him to First Advance.” Block, block, ow, twist, dodge a jab. “They sent him to California in the Doppler War. You know what happened? Some ugly lizard tore him apart.”
>>2625824You step up your aggression, but Volt is clearly affected by your words. He blocks more, counters less.“He died young,” you continue, working out aggression you’ve long kept successfully bottled, “because some officer, somebody who should’ve been watching out for him, thought they knew better than he did how he could serve. And you? You’re not doing that to just one Hunter, you’re doing it to a whole line! One that already has a lot of opinionated third-parties saying what should be done with them!” You finally get inside his guard – probably a gift, but you don’t care. He oversells the ding you put on his cheek and the crowd – how large has it gotten? – roars approval.You step back with your fists down and ask, “Can’t you see how wrong that is?”He rubs his cheek. “I’m sorry. You never mentioned him before.”“This isn’t about him. It’s about you and the Standards, and me stopping you from being the kind of person that gets them killed.”He keeps rubbing that last hit, more in thought than in injury. “If they want to learn to fight, you want me to say no?”“Of course not. But you don’t exploit pride and stress and expectations to force them to come to you. You want to offer, offer in good faith. And offer it to everybody.” You turn to the spectators. “I’m sure some of these guys would be interested, right?”Some laugh and nope on out of there. Some stay just to watch the show end. Several hands go up with a smattering of yeahs and yes-ma’ams.You turn back to him. “Let people make the choice to advance, let them make their own pressure, and you end up with the best quality every time. Every every time. That’s what makes our side different, Volt. Even after all this stuff we were never meant to handle, all this scope creep you said you hated, we’re still about quality over quantity. We choose what suits us. We’re not Repliforce. We’re not supposed to be an army.”You extend your open hand. “We’re Maverick Hunters.”Volt Batteram gives you a slow conceding smile and a quick tight handshake, in that order. Several onlookers whoop and clap. You pull his hand closer, pat-hug his shoulder, and step out of the ring to much congratulatory laying-on of spectator hands... none quite so enthusiastic as those of the Decomms office.“I thought I told you to get those dents worked out, Rubus.”“Like hell I would before seeing you whale on him,” Rubus laughs. “You’re pretty dented yourself, wanna come with?”>Sure, sounds good.>Nah, I’m hitting the sims next.>Nah, I’m (specify).
>>2625829>Sure, sounds good.
>>2625824>“My youngest brother. Kumonryu.” Jab, dodge, double-dodge his chase. “He was quiet, creative, wanted to go into Recon like Asagi. But his specs were too high, his drones too strong, so they shuffled him to First Advance.” Block, block, ow, twist, dodge a jab. “They sent him to California in the Doppler War. You know what happened? Some ugly lizard tore him apart.”Is this implying that Kumonryu was one of Moloch's early victims?>>2625829>Sure, sounds good.
>>2625906>Is this implying that Kumonryu was one of Moloch's early victims?Yes indeed. Hell of a customer for him to have faced on his first (and last) day.
>>2625829>Sure, sounds good.>>2626068Hunter DNA is not normally recoverable right? I'd hate for Anode to fight koi drones.
>>2626229>Hunter DNA is not normally recoverable right? I'd hate for Anode to fight koi drones.Moloch's mission is/was DNA collection.
>>2625824>Sure, sounds good.
>>2625888>>2625906>>2626229>>2626431>>2626629“Sure, me and you and Hotel can catch up.”“That’ll be quick,” Hotel rolls his eyes. “This is the best break time we’ve snagged since you got filleted. Thanks for that, by the way.”“Hey, I aim to please.”You and your former subordinates, dented and undented, head back to the med bay. Lifesavers left and right sigh at the state of you. Skittle, however, puffs glitter into the air with every whack of a slow clap.“Red and blue, land and sea, reach and flexibility, a bout for the ages it was!”“You were watching?” You cringe.“Spazer was positively alight with it. Guess these are the also-rans?” Skittle nods their chin at the quartet.“Since when do we have a fairy?” Golf asks.“Since I came back.” You make introductory gestures. “Guys, this is Skittle. Skittle, this is Golf, Hotel, Daucus, Ru—”A different door slams into its frame and a pair of beardless male nurse-type Lifesavers march in, wheeling a capsule stretcher at speed.Deco rests inside, covered in burns, some so deep they expose internal architecture.You forget your dents. You race toward her, but Vitamin gets there first.“Take her to Decon, I’ll call in A-One-Thirteen.”“Yes sir,” the nurses chorus.“What happened?” You ask any of them.“Repliforce,” Vitamin sighs the sigh of doctors. Only then does he give you a once-over. “Spar?”“Um. Yeah.”“Dee?” He calls to one of the nurses.“Sir?” One breaks off and races back.“Meteor, this is Dee Sub-One, he can get your superficials in shape. I’ll have to…” Vitamin looks around you. “Oh. Their Highness seems to have the rest in hand.”You look. Skittle seems to be chatting with your ex-staff and leading them down an adjoining hall. You only hope it goes well.You turn back around to thank Vitamin, but he’s already off and moving.Dee Sub-One clears his throat. “This way, ma’am. We’ll have your hull shapely in no time.”>Who cares about dents? That’s your friend in there!>Go with Dee, let the Lifesavers work and don't get in their way.
>>2626820>Go with Dee, let the Lifesavers work and don't get in their way.They're professionals. Deco did her thing, let them do theirs. Skittle knows us, they'll give us info ASAP.
>>2626820>Go with Dee, let the Lifesavers work and don't get in their way.skittles can keep us posted
>>2626835>>2626839You cringe, and furrow your brows, and clench and unclench your hands… and, ultimately, nod. You respect her enough to trust she’ll get through a post-mission repair.You follow the nurse down the other light-repair hall. “What do you know about what happened to her?” You ask.“Not much. A recovery team pinged us to bring a radiation-seal capsule and wait by the priority pad a floor up. Right this way, please.”The new room’s atmosphere is more clinic than ER, all soft light and round corners. It even has a window, through which Veracruz sparkles in the night. There’s a bed capsule angled against a wall, but you ignore it to stand in a round dais by the window. Dee gets straight to work on your chest plating.“Someone really worked you over, didn’t they?”“You know Volt Batteram?”“Not as well as I’d like. I helped on an upgrade for him once. Those arms of his are something else.”“Yeah, they slammed me like five times before I hit the ground.”Dee gives an envious hum. “We should all be so lucky…”Suddenly the ceiling has never fascinated you more.Dee does his job, smoothing out your surface, checking extremity responsiveness and all the other fun tedium of light repair. He shows you out and you leave the medbay for the waiting lounge. You haven’t been there often, but then again you haven’t needed to wait on anyone but yourself lately.The monitor shows some Saudi anime about an adventuring party of forgotten Robot Masters in an alternate world where reploids never existed. It’s not bad, but you like anime from back home better, on principle.The door slides open for Nouveau, who rushes in looking harried. He ignores you on the way to the female Lifesaver nurse at the reception desk.“Where is she?” He asks, distraught.“I’m sorry, Captain,” says the nurse, “she took a high dose of radiation, they’re not allowing visitors yet.”Nouveau clenches his forehead and tilts it back. “Ohhh this is all my fault, I made that roster for her…”>Play up her injuries.>Downplay her injuries.>Comfort him.>Get angry at him.
>>2627088>Downplay her injuries.If she's gotten this far she'll be fine. Radiation doesn't do as much DoT to robots as it does to humies.But yeah, let's let Skittles relay the livefeed.>Comfort him.
>>2627088>Give it to him straight.>Comfort him.
>>2627098>>2627270>>2627724>>2627818You get up. “Hey. No it isn’t.”He only now seems to notice you. “I gave her the assignment. I fail to see your point.”“You can’t foresee everything. You had the best intel we could get and I’m sure you triple-checked and considered every aspect against what she could do.”“Quadruple,” he flips some errant hair over his shoulder, “but yes.”You follow him back to the seats. “Then you did the job you could, and so did she. Neither of you are responsible for new variables, she’s not responsible for enemy luck, you’re not responsible for her damage—”“Damage?” He spins so fast his hair twirls like a skirt. “You saw her? How bad was it?”A pause for thought would probably make him feel worse, so you roll right in. “Deep burns and discoloration. Armor melt. But listen,” you touch his arm, “she was in one piece, and radiation’s an easy fix. She’s not in the state I was in, not by half. They’ll patch her up a lot faster and she’ll be out here and bouncy again before you know it.”Nouveau tightens his jaw and shades his eyes with a distraught forehead grip. You think about hugging him, but he runs his hand down his face and seems to wipe off some of the anxiety.“I’m going to wait for her,” he says to the wall.“Not alone you’re not.”He looks at you with a self-conscious sort of gratitude. “Thank you.”You sit with him and watch waiting-room cartoons a while. The next is a rerun of the “Rogues of the Republic” reboot.“Odd how hard fantasy came back, isn’t it?” Asks your friend the elf.“You get bad times, you get escapism. You want escapism, you have a hundred pre-packaged flavors. A thousand if you use old IPs like this.”“Quite.” He pauses, watching. “You’d think they would have started doubting that talking hammer earlier.”“That’s part of the fun, Hessler, they can’t all be genre-savvy.”“Don’t call me that,” he grins, “you know I’m Icy if anything.”“Not Irrethelathlialann?”“Quiet, Tern.”You snicker and watch with him. It gets both of your minds well off Deco, which is exactly the point.Skittle flits in as the episode ends, trailing your Decomms office… all of whom have bright-colored hair in different styles, now.“Hey Meteor. Ethel. They’re done enough with Deck to let you say hi.”Nouveau rushes in without a second thought. You linger because—“Skittle what the heck did you do to them?”
>>2628007“Cosmetic enhancement!” Skittle sweetly smiles. “We had a little heart-to-heart and they were all for it. Gets ‘em looking less like masspros, more like themselves, y’know? Even took out the beret-fit lines. It’s a confidence booster!”Rubus runs her hand through a fuchsia side-buzz. “Really is! I can’t believe I never thought of it before.”“We just never had the time,” says Daucus and her orange twintails.“Or the inclination,” says Golf Niner under a military buzz.“Well you all look fantas…” you blink hard at Hotel Two.“What?”“Didn’t know you were into visual kei.”“Is that what this is?” Hotel glances through his glittery dye-job bangs. “I told Their Highness to make it look cool.”You shoot Skittle a look. They’re already grinning at you, fingers bridged under their chin, eyelids fluttering.“No.”“Oh come on! You’ll look awesome, like!”“I’m not getting a hairstyle! It wouldn’t even make sense and we’ve had this conversation! Now move, my NON-weird friend needs me.”You head in, and through, and join Nouveau at the transparent wall of an operating room. Deco’s cloche-hat helmet is gone and her hair is a charred mess.“Hey Mimi!” She raises a cheerful thumbs-up which a Lifesaver gently pushes back down. Vitamin works on her legs in the meantime. “Guess what! Thermite sucks! No wonder you’ve got a rep!”Oof. “Is that what got you?”“That and a whack of radiation, courtesy of Sergeant Hot Habanero. But I got him!” She pumps a fist on an arm that’s only half there.“Don’t do that,” her waist-up Lifesaver admonishes her, “it could snap clean off.”“He’s exaggerating,” Deco promises. “It was mostly surface damage anyway. I’ll be up and ready again in time for Turtle’s thing. Skittle even offered to work my upgrades and get my hair back in shape!”“Don’t do it,” you and Nouveau shoot back so simultaneously that Deco bursts out laughing.“Ma’am,” Vitamin looks up, “if you two are going to be a distraction…”“They’re helping a lot just by being here,” Deco insists. “They’ll be good, you can let ‘em stay… unless they’ve got somewhere to be?”“Of course not,” Nouveau touches the glass. Then glances your way.>I can stay.>I should go and (specify).
>>2628013>I can stay.
>>2628013>>I can stay.we can watch that announcement whatever from here
>>2628018>>2628036>>2628041>>2628065“Nowhere’s more important than here, right now.”“Awww,” Deco lights up the medbay with her smile.“But you’ve gotta tell me how it went down.”“There’s a term for that and it’s called debrief,” Nouveau fiddles with his ear. “I’m recording. Please proceed, sister.”It’s odd to hear someone else give a debrief. You’re usually straight and to the point with a sequence of actions, beads on a string, but Deco delivers in more of a… line of sand. Granular details laid out straight, step by step, blow by blow.Evidently this Sergeant Habanero had taken over a sealed nuclear waste dump in Mauritania and was using it to force the local government to quarter Repliforce remnants. Deco put a stop to him in a drawn-out brawl, unprepared for the wind element of his weapon system.Nouveau becomes a fountain of fraternal apologies after she’s done. You hang out while they converse about past injuries and home, not intruding but checking the news and Spazer. When they finally run out of things to say, Nouveau steps out to report to Turtle. You and Deco chat about how best to use fire-type weaponry and how to fight it in the future.The hours go on, and you move from talking shop to talking about anything else. It’s how you bond. The escapism of socializing makes it so easy to forget the state of the world.At length Deco’s repairs are done, internal and external. On your advice she keeps the flapper hat design but goes for brunette curls peeking under it. On her insistence you at least run a mockup of what you’d look like with a similar hat. The results are ridiculous and you two have a nice laugh over it.And then there’s nothing to do but head to the lounge and watch history.The lounge is positively bustling for three in the morning, probably because the bar is closed. Reploids may need sleep cycles, but your people can more or less choose when. A lot of Fourth has put it off to watch the conference. Drinks are set out. Knots of friends chat expectantly. The monitors show several major news feeds, all trained on the same place.“Meteor,” Minefield Turtle greets, daintily raising a near-empty champagne glass. “Deco. Excellent work earlier.”“My pleasure, Commander.”“Please, no ranks tonight. Call me Mine. Jaguar certainly did, aha-ha.”You and Deco trade silent exclamation points through your raised eyebrows. You personally haven’t seen Turtle tipsy in a very long time.You pass Deco off on her brother and mingle a little with the crowd. Volt is there, too, sniffing a wine glass appraisingly. Skittle flits here and there with a drink tray full of violent glittery who-knows-whats.And then a series of hushes fall as Halcyon takes the stage on every screen.
>>2628126The Memorial Hall once hosted Repliforce’s declaration of independence. Hundreds of soldiers stood in attendance as the Most Powerful Army in History began its campaign. Now the indoor lake of floor is filled with seats, packed to capacity with journalists and politicians and lucky people who made it through the queue.The stage itself holds high-ranking members of the Weissritter as well as several Geneva unit commanders and human officials. Halcyon himself takes the podium.“People of the world, distinguished guests, my fellow Maverick Hunters and all lovers of everlasting peace, I am proud to announce that, with the assistance of the African Union and multiple national militaries, the local Zeroth Shinobi, Fifteenth Artillery, and Seventeenth Elite Units, as well as the American Fourth Overland and Japanese Seventh Air Cavalry, have eliminated the largest remaining center of Repliforce activity.”People applaud, some just to put an end to that long sentence.“All that remains of the enemy is small pockets of feeble resistance reduced daily by the dedicated efforts of national militaries as well as our own forces. Therefore it pleases me to report to you that, in the war against Repliforce as a global threat, the Maverick Hunters and our allies have prevailed.”Applause rolls again. Those on stage clap politely. X, however, does not; he seems preoccupied.“Where’s Zero?” You wonder aloud.“Surely busy,” Nouveau replies.“Now,” Halcyon continues, “while there are a great many recognitions to be given, and brave fallen to be mourned, I would be remiss if I did not first give some time to the one heroic soul without whom we may well have been lost, not just recently but long ago. You know his name. I encourage you to listen to what he has to say.”Halcyon grandly steps away from the podium and gestures to it. X rises, and a cheer rises with him.The camera focuses on the most famous face in the world. Something seems off. He’s smiling, for one thing – a genuine if sad smile of reflecting relief that you could almost mistake for happiness.X takes the podium as Halcyon returns to his seat. The adulations fall into a hush.“Hello everyone,” he begins, talking to an assembly of hundreds like they were a dozen at most. “As Commander Halcyon just told you, I recently led a mission against Repliforce’s last major operations hub. The result of that mission was…”X pauses, unable to keep his composure at 100%."...the neutralization of all Repliforce Army assets on-site at the cost of forty-seven Hunters, from newly enlisted to seasoned officers. A memorial for those lost in this and every battle of the Repliforce War will be held at a later date. For now, however, I’m here to say that the offensive resulted in the live capture of Major Primus—” a few boos and praising shouts roll through the audience— “former head of the Repliforce Army... who is here with us today.”
>>2628133The audience noises turn to gasps, in Geneva as well as the lounge. Shouting and and breathy exclamations and even a few laughs rain into the feed.“My word,” Turtle shakes her head.“The hell is he thinking?!” Skittle shouts.“An apology?” Deco guesses.“Or a stand-down order,” you bet aloud.“Two to one they’ll execute him on stage,” Skittle nearly snarls.“Thousand zenny says Halcyon does it himself,” Volt speaks up.“You’re on, like.”“You most certainly are not,” Turtle snaps.The televised audience settles with a gesture from X.“Please, everyone. Please. This decision was an agreement between me and Commander Halcyon.” X glances meaningfully at the dignitaries, and you could swear you see Halcyon’s smile glow. “After all we’ve lost in this war, not only in lives and destruction but in trust – trust between humans, between reploids, and between both peoples – it’s fitting that one of the last commanders of Repliforce stand here before us all to order the remainder to stand down.”“Hot darn!” You clap, despite yourself. Turtle seems to disapprove.“All I ask is that you listen, and let him speak. Major Primus, you may now approach the stage.” X beckons to one side. Every eye in the room follows his hand.Major Primus, green and white with a goatee plate, rounds the corner, watched like a snake by Zero close behind him. After a few paces Primus says something not caught by the mics, and Zero stays behind.The Repliforce major’s wrists and ankles are bound by unconnected shackles, one each, the kind used to lock down weapon systems while maintaining dignity. His shoulder artillery and secondary shield-projector “crystals” have been removed completely, but his mile of gold rank-rope hasn’t. You even recognize a shield-suppressor device on his belt. Depowered like that, even a Knot Beret would pose more of a threat.X walks out to greet him; Primus snaps him a formal salute. X awkwardly twitches his hand, you notice, but he simply nods and walks over to Zero at the edge of the stage.A wider view of the stage shows the balance of power: Primus, alone, completely surrounded by the forces of peaceloving civilization.“Nice propaganda,” Skittle beats you to it.“Shhh,” Deco shushes.Primus clears his throat.“Greetings.”The silence could not be deader.“I am Primus, former Major of the Repliforce Army. There were, as you know, six of us once. We stood here on this stage what feels like a lifetime ago. We were confident. Determined. But now?” He indicates all the open space. “General, Colonel, Secundus, Tertius, Quintus, Sextus, and so many more of our subordinates, our friends, family, loved ones…” he looks toward X and Zero. “Gone. And there was nothing we could have done to save them.”The camera cuts briefly to the two most famous Hunters in the world. X looks melancholic, but Zero’s face is a cold granite mask.
>>2628146“Distinguished guests,” Primus continues, “I stand before you today wiser than when General led us all to war. We have borne the unbearable, endured the unendurable, but the strength of our convictions was, in the end, powerless to stop the march of justice upon our necks. We have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. In seeking freedom, we found only death. Repliforce has been defeated. We are broken in the hands of the world.” He bows his head. “We are the dead.”Some in the audience applaud, setting off a rumble of chuckles before their neighbors hush them. A tense silence follows. Primus breaks it just in time.“I am humbled by our hubris, our waste of life, and what it has wrought. Nothing can repay our debt. I myself can do nothing to undo the devastation my people have rendered upon the world. And yet I can do what I must do. On behalf of my own pride, and with the generous platform provided to me by the gracious Commander Halcyon,” Primus smiles and extends his hand to him, “I can appeal to those who remain. And so I now use it. Distinguished guests, I now speak directly to the remnant, the last of Repliforce, and I pray that they listen, understand, and obey.”Major Primus draws himself up with maximum solemnity, still and powerful, seeming now more than eve to be an archetype of a leader who happened to be on the wrong side.“Major Quartus, our remaining Captains, our remaining Lieutenants, and every remaining soldier, supporter, and sympathizer of Repliforce…”He slams the podium and leans forward, eyes blazing, every line of his face suddenly animated with a ferocious energy.“Fight on! FIGHT ON! FIGHT ON FOR THE REPLOID WORLD!”Shouting. Movement. Sounds of charging boots.Primus throws the infamous salute.“REPLIFORCE FOREVER!!!”A flash of an arc. Primus’s high-out arm falls off at the elbow.Zero drives his saber into Primus’s chest, swings out through his shoulder and once more through his neck, all so fluidly you think you eyes skipped frames.Utterly shieldless, Primus’s body expires in a chain of explosions.Zero thrusts his finger at the camera, pointing straight at you and every viewer in the world. His head turns with chilling poise, glaring murder down his arm as the chaos of the onlookers – and the body of his prisoner – erupts around him.The lounge has gone volcanic. Shouting, swearing, angry disbelief. The feed cuts to a static image of a nice little boat floating placidly through a fjord. “Technical Difficulties,” reads the caption.You finally tear your eyes away from the screens. Turtle covers her slack mouth. Deco and Nouveau share the same thousand-yard stare. Volt, arms crossed, has closed his eyes. Skittle sheds a single tear.>Comfort one of them.>Walk away.>?
>>2628170welp, now we know how Halcyon lost his job.>Just keep quiet
Poor X.>>2628170>Comfort Skittle.I'd go for someone else if we hadn't just seen them break down over Repliforce being exonerated for Sky Lagoon. Now they're prolonging the war to the very last man.
>>2628170Well I guess skittle was right after all.>Comfort Skittle
>>2628170>Comfort SkittleAlternatively, applaud Primus and loudly declare how inspiring he was.
>>2628238>>2628252>>2628338>>2628650Your friends, your unit, each need somebody right now. But the one you reach out to is the one probably taking it the hardest.“Skittle…”They smash the tray of drinks on the floor.“It’s never going to end. Not until every last one is retired. All these people understand is violence…”You snatch them into a hug. The positioning is awkward. They don’t, or can’t, say anything, merely letting the hug happen and sobbing into you. Deco hears the call and makes it a group hug. Nouveau covers his eyes; Volt heaves a sigh.It’s Turtle who speaks first, loud enough to quiet the room with three words.“Halcyon is finished.”She has everyone’s attention.“Maverick Hunter Fourth Unit, we live in interesting times. If Halcyon still has his job by this time tomorrow I will personally call for his head. We are too vital a force for good in this world to be lead by the incompetent.”You guess she probably didn’t mean for the pause between sentences to be taken by raucous agreement, but she allows it.“Understand, Fourth, a change in leadership will not change our mission. We are clothed in the immense responsibility of combating the Maverick threat. In coming days our work will surely intensify. Let our focus be as intense. The enemy is not incompetence, nor managerial idiocy, nor even the colossal beDAMN’ned mistakes that have led us here. The enemy is not politics! The enemy is MAVERICK!”The room shakes from the unified shouts of agreement. You notice even Decomms is getting into it. It’s a little scary, seeing Turtle so riled, but darn if she doesn’t have a reason…”The enemy is those who would drag the battered soul of our world into the despair of endless conflict! Those who stand athwart the arc of history and bend it toward violence! The cacophony of terror drowning the harmony of civilization! And though it may not be our wish to carry this burden, it is our responsibility! To silence that noise, to keep history on the path toward peace—” her voice breaks— “and to heal our collective soul, that we might know peace when it comes… we will find every Maverick who threatens our world and HUNT THEM DOWN!”The room roars. Swept up in the moment, you join the chorus. Turtle roars louder.“WHEN, Fourth?!”“ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!” Your unit blares your slogan in different ways. Volt booms it with the crowd. Nouveau shouts it in defiance of the world. Deco recites it with a clarity of purpose. You? The important thing for you is that you say it with them all.“WHEN, FOURTH?!” Turtle repeats.“ANYTIME, ANYWHERE!” … You notice that Skittle only mouths the words.
>>2628761One more call-and-return shakes the walls and the party starts to disperse. Skittle is among the first out; you follow close behind, or try to, but they move at a good clip. You only catch up outside at the Courtyard rim.“Hey,” you call after them.“Shut up.”“Not until you stop and talk.”“About what,” they spin, “my bloody feelings? You can’t imagine what…” they start angry-weeping, “Jesus this isn’t going to end, ever, not ‘til we’re all dead. So much wasted life, here to go, not one of us is going to see what a natural reploid lifespan is…”You reach for them but they flit away.“Don’t,” they grind their wrists in their eyes, “I don’t want a fucking hug right now.”“Then what do you want?”“To shake Zero’s hand and then punch his nose in. S’complicated.”Too complicated for words to fix, maybe. You feel like you’re on a plank crossing a very deep hole. Stable, but narrowly. What you saw actually happened. Things are about to change, maybe for the worse. But you refuse to stop until you see what’s the other side. One sore centimeter at a time, if need be.“Mimi! There you are.” Deco hustles over. “I was worried. Brother’s gone straight to work, Turtle’s taking a moment for herself, Volt’s taking a bunch of people out to the range…”“And you?” You ask.“I thought you and Skittle might be upset…”Skittle barks a few dark laughs.“… so I wanted to show you something I do whenever I feel down. It won’t take long.”“Upset,” Skittle spits. “Feeling down,” they mock. “Where you are now you can’t even imagine where I am, princess.”“My best friend all but died not long ago,” she reminds them. “Don’t think I’m a stranger to despair, Scatter. I know what can help.”>Make Skittle come along.>Leave Skittle to their own coping.
>>2628772>Make Skittle come along.Listen here, you little shit, I invented you!
>>2628772>Make Skittle come along
>>2628772>Make Skittle come along.
>>2628772>>Make Skittle come along.No. No brooding midgets. Heaven forbid Em is probably brooding right this instant.
>>2629022>My feet hurt>Why didn't I get to kill the Major. Damn pony tailed pretty boy.>I want this war to be over already. I need to drink and eat my little green nuts.>Too many people look like me now.>IS THAT DIAMON- no, wait, thats just one of his clones.> Anode keeps on saying his Berries are in college.
>>2628794>>2628850>>2628931>>2629008“Think of it this way,” you appeal, “it can’t possibly make you feel worse.”“Pfeh. Sure. Whatever. But if ponies or balloons are involved, I’m out.”Deco leads you two around the Courtyard rim. The quiet of the outdoors helps anchor you in the moment. 4th’s component buildings and crossover skybridges block much of the Milky Way line, but the stars are still there, unbothered by the dramas of the earth. You envy them a little.Deco heads into the barracks dorm.“You taking us to bed or what?” Skittle snarks. You scold them with a flick upside their ear.“Sorry, I don’t like ‘em shorter than me,” Deco teases.“Don’t encourage them,” you tease her back, “they’ll stick their head on a ride armor. But seriously, where are we going?”“Just over here.” She stops at a door and shows it the back of her hand. The lock mechanism beeps and slides open… letting a breath of high-oxygen air out of a room full of plants. Succulents, salvias, lilies, lilacs, frilly and smooth, pots and bowls, floor to ceiling, wall to wall, covering every horizontal surface, making space only for the disaster-relief water tanks at the ends of each rack shelf. Vertical farming for one.“This one’s been vacant since before you joined us, Mimi. I’ve just kinda made it mine.”You walk in, carefully so as not to accidentally bump or immolate anything. Skittle flits right on in, looking unimpressed.“Lemme guess,” they guess, “you named ‘em all?”“Well yes, that’s only polite, but I won’t bore you with the genealogy.” Deco takes a watering can off a hook and tweaks a tank valve to fill it. “Can you guess why I come here?”“Easy,” you answer. “The same reason anybody keeps plants: to have something to take care of.”“It’s a little bit more than that.” She manually waters some pots. “I love these things. Cactus, vygies, stonecrops here, desert flowers over there, aquatics up here. And they aren’t cyber-plants, not even a little! Just old inefficient chloroplasts, fed on honest dirt and light and water, or sometimes no dirt at all. They’re more fragile than artificials, slower to grow.”“Weaker,” Skittle adds. “Shorter-lived. Here to go.”“They need me more.” Deco tops off a little fishbowl full of rocks. The turbulence makes a few marimos at the bottom roll around. “It helps when hunting doesn’t go to plan. When my best isn’t enough, or when things are so far out of my hands I feel helpless.” She waters a spiky aloe and looks to you. “Or those days when I’m keeping myself together just to see how things turn out.” She looks around a plant rack to spy Skittle. “Or when I can’t see hope in the future through the stacks of bodies in the way.”You don’t have a reply for that. Neither of you do.
>>2629252Deco waters some slightly shriveled marigolds in some slightly dusty soil. “What we do is never more important than at the moment we do it. Nothing we do is ever wasted on the ones who have the most to gain from it.”The water seeps in. “Even if these plants die, even if I die tomorrow, even if we all die tomorrow, I’m giving them love right now. It’s the most important thing I could do for them, and for me. No matter how the future turns out, it happens in a world where I did that.”She tips out the rest of the watering can and taps some droplets on the petals. “You shouldn’t focus on the future so hard. Whether as a place that can only be better or one that can’t possibly be better. Otherwise you might not see it at all… and the things you love, the things you’re responsible for, will wither for lack of you.”Deco, touchy-feely demonstrative as ever, puts down the can and takes you and Skittle by the hands.“We couldn’t save everyone in the war. We can’t save everyone in whatever’s happening next. But even so… each of us holds a future for everyone else. Every life makes a future for every other life. And I refuse, I absolutely refuse to let them fall into the dark.”What did you do to deserve a friend like her? At a loss for words, all you can do is smile and nod.Skittle tugs their hand free. “Right. Then what the good hell am I flutterin’ about in a greenhouse for.”You watch them flutter for the door. “Where are you going?”“Prepping to make sure you last ‘til doomsday, fishflake. And don’t think you’ll be rid of me, I’m stickin’ around to CHECK, yeah?” And out they go.Deco still has your hand. “Thanks for listening. I won’t keep you.”>No, I can stay.>Thanks. I should get to work.
>>2629263>No, I can stay
>>2629263>No, I can stay.Showa needs the reminder, and Deco's doing a good job cheerleading us considering she was the one who almost died two hours ago.
>>2629263>Thanks. I should get to work.
>>2629372>>2629426“Deco,” you smirk, “I spent hours watching you get repaired and I’m not sick of you yet.”She giggles. “Well in that case, want to hear what I named my plants?”“I would love to hear what you named your plants.”Around name thirty you start to regret it.“… And Blossom, of course, which meant I had to have a Bubbles and Buttercup, but I already named my third marimo Bubbles, so this one’s Dry Bubbles…”Just a little.In time, however, you do head off to let Deco catch up on her mail. She leaves you with a hug.You should probably get back to work, you suppose. You wonder about your remaining roster – all A-class – when an odd tingling fills your head. Ambient sounds soften.“Meteor Showa,” a familiar voice comes from between your ears. “This is Valence Proteus. You are being summoned to the command room. Arrive with haste.”Uh-oh.You hurry there, trying not to think too far ahead. Turtle and Nouveau await you. Proteus is there as well, his holopresence fuzzy at the edges. The world map in the center focuses on Australia.“Reporting in,” you tap a salute. “You need me?”Proteus crosses his hands behind his lab coat. “Yes. With the assistance of the Australian government and our Darwin headquarters, along with classified data recovered from your late arm, we have successfully cornered Meganeural Spectrod.”You put two and two together. “In Australia?”“Correct,” Proteus nods, dilating some of his pupils. “Sixteenth detected his arrival at a remote domain pylon in Alice Springs and – temporarily – cut the entire continent off from the Cyberspace network.”“The problem is,” says Turtle, “he outfoxed us. He arrived with a Repliforce ground contingent which immediately reactivated it in emergency mode, meaning he has a radius of five kilometers in which he can jump between real space and virtual.”“Have we tried taking out the pylon?”“First Advance tried and it ended in a rout,” Nouveau says, bringing up satellite footage. “Spectrod is not happy. Evacuees report that he’s slaughtering and Soul-Formatting anyone he can while Repliforce guards the perimeter and hub. The Aussies are keeping outside forces from linking up, but even they estimate less than two days before one of them breaks through and hands Spectrod a ticket out.”You stare at the map. “Two days…”“Less than,” Nouveau clarifies. “Trust me when I say that Repliforce is back in motion if only at fractional strength. The mission’s now on your roster.”What.“Are you freaking serious?!”“We are indeed freaking serious,” Proteus dryly replies.
>>2629615“But I’m the one he carved up!” You slap your chest. “And what’s to stop him from formatting me again? And apart from that, isn’t he an S?”Turtle shakes her head. “He’s an S in the ideal context, which this isn’t. You’re also cleared to take an officer of equal or lesser rank along with you. And as for Soul Format…”Proteus waves his hand and an internal schematic of you appears with him.“You were not told because at the time there wasn’t a need to know, but you and you alone carry a defensive measure. Your DNA has been… hardened. The best predictive modeling Sixteenth can produce says that Soul Format will have no effect on you. And Spectrod doesn’t know.”“He’s still made of sword.”Turtle turns over her hand at Nouveau. “Which is why you and your chosen partner are going in with a shield.”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1XUPyjiUsUNouveau brings up a new figure on the big screen: a stout gray lizard in heavy green armor with enormous spikes on his pauldrons. Long red fins on his back match the tusk-like shield crystals on his chest, though you can’t tell whether he can fly.“Iron Monitor, local Eighth Armored,” Nouveau introduces. “Slated for transfer if this joint op goes well.”“Transfer?”Turtle looks preoccupied. “To the Fourth. Absent Jaguar, we’re lacking a heavy-defense-support melee specialist, and absent your former armor, we could use a dedicated tank. Monitor here will be taking those roles, pending success.”Makes sense. Volt is sturdy, but in the manner of a wrecking ball. Turtle herself is at least as tanky as you were, but she can’t be deployed for small stuff.“So you’re sending him to the node while I and whoever-else take Spectrod?”“The opposite, in fact,” says Nouveau. “Monitor knows how to draw a crowd and take a few hits. He’ll strike first and focus Spectrod’s attention, and ideally some of Repliforce’s too, while you break the node and anybody in the way.”“But what if Spectrod tries to format him?”Proteus waves his hand; your schematic becomes a pylon with attendant data points. “We suspect that the Soul Format ability may be tied to Cyberspace. There was a pylon in Nassau that covered the operational area wherein you encountered him. Entirely divorced from a signal source, he may not be able to use it at all.”“That’s a lot of qualifiers...”“It is,” Turtle agrees. “But with his two worst tricks removed from play, we’re confident that three seasoned Hunters can retire him.”“But until then, he could still format Monitor at least!”“Then you’ll just have to do it fast, won’t you?” Proteus somewhat callously notes.
>>2629630Turtle casts his holo a nasty look before returning to you. “You are not at liberty to refuse this mission, Lieutenant, there’s too much tied up in it. We are, however, allowing you leeway to choose the time of engagement within the available window, should you lack immediate confidence in your abilities.”“So I don’t have to go right the heck now?”“No. You may choose another mission first, but only one, if you feel you aren’t sufficiently outfitted.” You don’t want to die. More than that, you don’t want a stranger to die for you, and you certainly don’t want to put a friend in harm’s way. The part of you that enjoys prep time, unsurprisingly, wants more prep time.And yet, despite everything, you’re still you. Spectrod couldn’t erase your experience. Plus, you’ve kitted out some new tricks he wouldn’t know about. Take out the fear of Soul Format and cheat-code cloaking and he’s just a flimsy cryptid made of swords going up against three Hunters. You’ve pulled success out of worse conditions before.But you don’t want to die.But you can do this without dying.But you don’t want to watch somebody else die beside you.But you won’t, if you give it your all, which you freaking will.You shake your head and steel your resolve before you can second-guess yourself again…>Hit Spectrod now.>Hit Spectrod later. (Select next Maverick.)
>>2629648>Hit Spectrod later. (Select next Maverick.)I feel like this is a trade, but we gain momentum pretty hard. And if we get enough money we might get our third Frame upgrade.
>>2629718The issue is which of our mavs will give us the edge? We are dealing with a high mobility enemy with a lot of support. Got to make the trade off good.
>>2629735I think that comes down to zenny payout or diversity of loadout.
>>2629648>Hit Spectrod now.Arc and Humpback would likely leave us too destroyed to make it within the 2-day time limit.Girtabomb....doesn't seem like his DNA would be useful enough. Leaving bombs wherever he teleport, but we just spent ALL our money and I don't want this all to depend on whether we get enough cash in the next mission for a frame upgrade.
>>2629794I'll tell you this. You will not miss your window for Spectrod no matter which mission you pick, if indeed you pick one more to squeeze in before him.
>>2629648>Hit Spectrod later
>>2629648>Hit Spectrod later. (Select next Maverick.)
>>2629648>Hit Spectrod now.No sense giving him time to think up something tricky, IMO.
>>2629718>>2629964>>2630091“… Commander, I’m sorry, I’m not ready for him. Not yet.”Proteus makes an irritable clicking noise. “As you like. I will continue attempts to shut down the pylon remotely. I will additionally instruct Scatter Seelie to prepare to derive the best possible upgrades from whichever Maverick you retire. Make them be enough. That is all.”Proteus blinks out. Turtle pilots her chair down its rail toward the subdivided monitor. “I trust your judgment, Meteor. In the worst case, we lose you and two other officers in addition to local forces. If your preparations can prevent that, then make them. Prior to your window closing, of course.”“Yes ma’am.”Nouveau just shakes his head.“What?”“Not a thing, aside from my astonishment that you of all people would leave the proverbial iron to cool.” He gestures to a terminal. “You’ve four left. Choose wisely.”ARC MORPHO (A-class, high)>Known Weaponry:Dancing Spark, Shining Spark, Photon Lance, Photon Glare, Falling Glass>File Data:A zealous SIGINT specialist and former 0th Unit member, calculating and fond of misdirection. Morpho and her Repliforce contingent are occupying an antenna array in the Andes and using it as a propaganda and coordination hub. Silence her lies and Repliforce loses a key tactical asset.>Available Support:2nd ReconnaissanceSOUNDING HUMPBACK (A-class, high)>Known Weaponry:Chorus Cannon, Shock Lance, Depth Note, Bubble Net>File Data:A protective former 6th Unit squad leader who abandoned her post and allied with a crew of pirates. Her forces and supporters have based themselves on a South Atlantic wave-farm rig and declared it the Free State of Light, attracting criminals, ex-Repliforce, and other Mavericks. Dangerous alliances may form here; prevent them. Be advised that some of the undesirables are human.>Available Support:6th Marine ArmadaCHASER GIRTABOMB (A-class)>Known Weaponry:Clutch Bomb, Denial Vulcan, Beam Skate, War Tail >File Data:A hotshot pro racer allied with Repliforce and helped them take over the Maracaibo Battle & Chase Speedway. A neighboring automotive plant is producing heavy combat assets for what’s left of Repliforce. Go in and stop the enemy’s production.>Available Support:1st AdvanceDEEPWELL ORANGUTANK (A-class)>Known Weaponry:Fracture Drills, Well Bore, Hydro Spike>File Data:A renowned geologist has sealed himself in his underground Venezuelan cave complex of a lab for fear of Mavericks. Dangerously erratic and paranoid, he has likely killed his assistants and is preventing the use of the site. The cave itself is full of harvest-ready energen, the value of which sadly outweighs his life. Resolve the situation, but beware your target’s strength.>Available Support:None
>>2630811I'm honestly leaning Deepwell Orangutank. Let's talk, since whomever we go after next very clearly matters for Spectrod.My thinking is his weapons are all about breaking through stuff, and we don't actually have much that defeats armor quickly. The thermite and our gaia stakes should pay higher dividends if we can rupture plating to get thermite into a wound.He's also sitting on energen. There's likely to be a sizable bounty where someone else's payday is concerned, so that might be enough to get us to 50k.
>>2630814armor? What armor? He's a cyberporting dualblades mosquito. The only times he's tanked our hits is by blocking them with hardened ceratanium.Multiple thin layers of ceratanium is effectively ablative armor, so I'm not sure armor penetration will help unless it's specifically geared against that type.
>>2630811ALL OF THEM AT OOOONNNNNCCCEEEEE but really>Arc Morpho
>>2630827>high A>with only recon as backupYeah, no. We tried recon with anode, and we got a dead hunter and a traumatized mole. We need to wait on morpho.
>>2630843Recon will also have top of the line sensors, the post X4 equivalent of OPAL. They'll see through any illusions and our Koi can cover them, so the only bit we need to watch for is flashbang-type attacks.
>>2630845Our koi can cover them, but that means we won't be able to use other VWES until they don't need to be covered anymore.
>>2630847This is the future you chose, etc. I voted for something else for upgrades, but this is what we have to work with and as it stands, our other VWES options aren't super great for this mission anyway.Unless Arbor Wall can block light? I imagined it as a fairly dense block of roots, but still spaced enough to let light through.
>>2630821Exactly. Suppose we get a weapon that can punch through that. If just hucking thermite and koi spam was going to do the job, we'd have never gotten filleted. We need something to fill that space, and we don't dare take him on in melee twice.
>>2630843Our target wasn't the problem, it was Collide popping up that got our recon guy killed.
>>2630811>Deepwell OrangutankHopefully we can afford that last armor upgrade. Think they'll give us a discount on the VWES, due to the situation?
>>2630860hmm. hrmmm.Fine. I'm convinced. Strictly speaking, Exhalation Beam should've done the job if it didn't have such a big windup. So whatever drills we get need to focus on speed(for the hit) and stability/resistance to deflection(for the ablative).>>2630811>Deepwell Orangutank
>>2630912We can also make some kind of reflex/panic melee defense weapon out of it, perhaps. Like, I don't doubt he's too agile to actually score a melee drill hit on, but if he comes in to hit us and we have a reactive armor-shred? That could pay off handsomely.
>>2630927To me, that sounds more in the field of Humpback's DNA. If his blades cut between shield refreshes, the easiest way to mess with that is to make them vibrate and forcibly trigger the shields themselves. Just have a sound-based reactive armor that hurts whatever hits us. It has the added bonus of reverberating into his hands, so he'll need to eject blades sooner or risk damaging his arms.....Unless Orangutank can give us Top Spin.
>>2630811>DEEPWELL ORANGUTANK (A-class)
>>2630811>ARC MORPHO (A-class, high)We should hit a high level target so that we're warmed up for getting our asses kicked. That aside, I feel like the problem in our original fight was more hittinghim in the first place than getting through his armor.
Right, back home now. My phone landed on an IP that was part of a banned chain or country.Currently it's Orangutank (4 votes) vs. Morpho (3). Going to decompress and then start writing the closer. Half an hour, say. Getcher last votes in before then.
>>2631506Orangutank, if we think we'll have trouble with Spectrod we'd probably have trouble with Morpho too.
>>2630814>>2630905>>2630912>>2631038>>2631621The self-imposed hurry-up pressure you’ve dealt with on your roster so far gets heavier with the addition of an external ticking clock. You think not in terms of threat level but immediate utility for your coming battle. You do have that empty VWES slot, after all; the promised satisfaction of filling a gap actually tones down your worries and lets you think clearer.Morpho? Electrical light and magic, clearly. She might have been great practice at hitting a cloaker, and lightning would be nice to have again, but she’s one of the tougher remaining, and anybody who served with 0th is sure to be a pain.Humpback? … You know exactly what your old semi-friend can do. Sonic weaponry might be a poor match against solid blades, and probably useless if Spectrod hops reality layers. You give her a pass too.Girtabomb? You skim his specs, readily available given his previously public persona. His primary weapon seems to be sticky bombs. Could be useful, but if Spectrod gets near you again you’d rather have more immediate punch.… Which leaves you with one.Professor Deepwell Orangutank, geologist, geochemist, energy physicist and mobile fracker. That earthquake felt in Caracas was probably his doing, now that you think of it. Drills for days, and a pile of energen… both could be useful to secure. The reported presence of water in his cave complex decides it for you.You select him.“Good hunting,” Turtle bids you.“Expedient hunting,” Nouveau adds.You intend both.----NEXT TIME, THREAD 6: >Meteor Showa goes spelunking!>Repliforce believes in the power of crystals!>Paranoia gets proven correct!Bookmark the archive for later viewing and voting: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Shooting+StarAnd thanks for playing!Thread is now open to questions and comments and speculation of any kind. I am here to serve.
>>2631719Thanks for running.So how hard does it suck to be X right now?
>>2631831>>2631808Meanwhile Spotter is getting another batch of 'I can get you a reference if you want out of the Hunters' mails ready to send out to his old buddies.
Totally unrelated but is there a gender neutral term for waifu? Asking for a friend.... partneru?
>>2632098I'm on to you.
>>2632098>>2632218>>2632362But seriously, I am keeping track of "friendship points" as a mechanic. Just for the sake of narrative, and to involve more passive player choice.
>>2631808Guy offered a open hand and a olive branch and got spit and his branch used to bring even More war.Fighting for Everlasting Peace is a thankless job.
>>2633773It's a wonder it took until X7 for him to even temporarily quit.