Twenty years ago- years before you were even born, your homeworld repelled an alien invasion which arrived with no warning, no declaration, no communication. The invaders killed tens of thousands of your people before they all suddenly died- killed by their own ships.You've been hot on the trail of Valkan mysteries, looking for some kind of answer; some kind of break that will lead you to the greater answers you seek. Now, your search for answers about seemingly ordinary objects that bear Valkan auras have brought you to an old scrapyard, where you consider your next move.---You can read the previous threads here: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=COADEName: Tiiris ElsonAppearance: Sixteen year-old girl. Blonde hair, and very similar looking to her mother. While her mother was a beautiful woman, though, the features of her daughter are just slightly ‘off’. Her face is a little long, her eyes lidded, the nose slightly crooked, cheeks gaunt.Personality: Does not like the Valkans, and holds them responsible for both her father's misfortune and the death of her mother. Bit of a curious sort, doesn't run away from her hallucinations.Life: Works at a bookstore for some extra money. Has a brain condition where if she focuses on something with complex detail for too long, her brain begins to ‘fail’ and can't process all the information, causing her view of the world to fade out and wash away.Qualities:‘Reading Troubles’‘Seeing the Unseen’‘Light User’‘Good Condition’‘Book of Drawings’ -> ‘Valkan Sketchbook’‘Some Pocket Change’‘Glass Pendant’‘Valkan Device’‘Valkan Repair Drone’‘Collection of car documents’
You review your situation again. You followed the papers you were given out to this old auto shop. Nothing suspicious about that, but it was right next to a junkyard. A junkyard which happened to have a rather massive Valkan signature in it.Reaching it into your bag, you pull out the repair drone you picked up. Turning it over in your hands slightly, you consider what you're about to do. Is this really worth it? Nodding, you tap on it hard. Instantly, it springs to life in your hands, perching precariously on your hand and swiveling it's body around."Um..." You cut yourself off once, then lower your voice, even thought it makes you feel silly. Here you are, making a conspiracy with a robot. "There are cameras over there, can you do anything about them?"It seems to consider for a moment, then leaps out of your hand."Hey!"You've learned that the damn thing is much quicker for it's size than you'd think. It scuttles across the street in a flash, stopping dead just shy of the side walk and suddenly launching upwards. Clattering against the streetlamp, it starts rapidly scaling the side, coming up just next to the camera. You can barely see it, but it's doing... something to the camera. After a few seconds, you see a sudden shower of sparks and flinch back slightly.A small shape sails from one streetlamp to the next, and after a short time you see another shower of sparks. Taking a cautious step forward, the camera still has it's red recording light on. To your admittedly amateur eye, it still looks like it's perfectly functional, but what did it do, then?Dammit, you wish you could talk to the drone directly or something. It seems to understand you just fine, but it can't talk back. Or maybe it can, and you just don't understand what it's saying?>Press into the junkyard.>That didn't do anything, let's bail.>[Write-In]
>>3805084>>Press into the junkyard.
>>3805084Um... okay! The robot's been reliable so far. Hopefully it's just looping the footage?Either that or we're going to have some very confused junkyard owners wondering how and why all their cameras have been upgraded to X-ray vision.>Press into the junkyard.
>>3805084>That didn't do anything, let's bail.
>>3805084>Press into the junkyard.
>Press into the junkyard.Writing.
Apologies for the delay, I just found out I get to go buy a free car. Thanks, random car thief!
With a bit of trepidation, you walk up to the gate, glancing warily at the camera. If it's still on, you're about to seen...Eh, fuck it.There's a lock around the latch, but it's just a junkyard, not some high security complex. Digging your fingers into the metal, you carefully scale the fence in your flimsy school sneakers. Putting one leg over the edge, then the next, you carefully hold your skirt to your legs before jumping down to avoid tearing it.The junkyard had been paved with concrete, as most of the floor had been when it was built. Years of foot traffic and dumping wrecks and junk in the lot, however, had resulted in a steady build up of a thin layer of dirt on the ground. If you scuff your shoe, though, you can clear a small patch of pavement...You suddenly feel very exposed out in the open, and quickly move into the walls of junk lining the yard. Cars were stacked up one on top of the other- no, actually they teetered on thin racks, hoisted above each other. Mounds of actual garbage heaped in the spots where there were no cars, followed by rows and rows of refrigerators, then air conditioners, freezers, dishwashers, furnaces, hot water heaters and appliance after appliance besides.It all seems to be stacked erratically and without thought, taking you deeper into the maze as you navigate through gaps and around racks to your target in the center. Since you can see it through walls, it's easy enough to simply move in spirals, getting one row closer as you find gaps to squeeze into. Funny, it's almost sequestered off in a corner here, away from the rest of the scrap.The answer as to why reveals itself when you manage to clamber over a pile of broken refrigerators. It was among a pile of crushed cars. Ones that had been basically turned into little cubes of metal and haphazardly strewn to the side. Junk that you couldn't sell as a whole unit, just as volumes of scrap to recycling plants.It was caught up just behind this impromptu wall, sequestered in it's own little corner. Another car, although much more of a junker than the Skip. Rusted all over, peeling pant and cracked windshields, it was just as much of a junker as the other vehicles in here. It still had all four tires and it's doors, though. Looked like an older sedan- not vintage, but a good few years old.Circling around it, though, you can see the whole thing is glowing with a bright Valkan signature. Brighter than any signature you'd seen so far. Really, it was something that could only probably be matched by the way the Skip glowed. This close up, though, it finally occurs to you that it's... not actually glowing. You can see that the car is red - the red of rust, rather - but you perceive the whole thing with a faint blue glow.
>>3807344The door opens easily when you pull on it- lock must have rusted away years ago. Wow, the interior was just as bare as the exterior. Four seats, sure, but they were all rotten and peeling, with flies buzzing inside and a floor that had several holes punched into it so you could see the battery layer. The wheel even had a big, cylindrical hole in the middle where the horn was supposed to be.You've got more questions, now. This thing is junk. But it glowed just as bright as the Skip. So what was it that was special about both these cars to make them glow like they were goddamn Valkan relics? Everything else you had collected so far was at least useful- well, maybe not useful, but definitely intriguing. Or in the case of that weird thing you pulled from the crash site, obviously important, but this is just...>Poke around it in, hit buttons, flip levers. Do something.>Open up the engine compartment and see if there's anything still inside.>Get your repair bot friend to take a look?>[Write-In]
>>3807345>>Open up the engine compartment and see if there's anything still inside.>>Get your repair bot friend to take a look?
>>3807345>Poke around it in, hit buttons, flip levers. Do something.Maybe it just needs to be woken up, like any good ZOMBIE CAR.
>>3807345>Open up the engine compartment and see if there's anything still inside.
>Open up the engine compartment and see if there's anythings till inside.Writing.
It's not like you don't know anything about cars...But you don't know shit about cars. Dad wasn't exactly the kind of person who was mechanically inclined, despite his appearance and former job. For some reason, after people met him, they assumed he was some rough and tumble survivalist who could wrestle bears. Reality is that Dad just takes the car into the shop when it has problems.Your first instinct is to look for the engine cover release, but the lever just comes off in your hand. Tossing it aside, you try the trunk manually and it opens with a bit of elbow grease. Lifting it up, you look at the engine compartment and- yeah, that thing is fucked on the inside. The protective cage that would normally encircle the battery bank had buckled and rusted over the years, with the cells themselves obviously ruptured and leaking their internal fluids.Honestly, you're a bit loathe to touch any of it in case it's dangerous waste somehow, but it too glows with a Valkan signature. Even the broken lights in the dashboard, even the stray cables... what was special about these? You thump the body lightly, partially in frustration, but also partially out of desperation. It made sense that Valkan relics wouldn't just reveal their secrets to you- hell, they've been trying for years to get at readily available, almost fully intact ships with no progress. That a schoolgirl would uncover any of it is laughable.The electrical clack of street lights turning on outside the scrapyard startles you out of your reprieve. Evening had arrived, and the city's night time lighting was turning on, one post after another turning on beyond the chain link fence, followed by a loud simultaneous clack as the floodlights illuminated the scrapyard. You instinctively cower downwards as the lot is filled with light, but the small little sanctuary here was carved out in such a way that you were safely hidden from view.It's getting late. Dad will be wondering where you are, and it was a school night anyway. You have homework to do and weren't getting any answers here. With a small sigh, you move to squeeze your way out of the scrap pile and call tonight a loss.A harsh buzzing sound makes you turn around. Something is... stuttering out of the car, a smooth mechanical series of beeps and clicks that flow together into an odd stream. It grates on your ears slightly and instinctively makes you back up as it grows louder and more agitated.The car's entire body breaks apart, separating into a series of hexagonal scales that squirm and shift around the frame. You finally see what you were missing. Underneath the rust, underneath the wear was the real signature, which glows a brilliant white color as the car's entire form shifts. The frame shifts, reconfigures and locks together in new ways, the cockpit of the car crushing in on itself as you fall back with a slightly shriek of surprise. Batteries and motor simply fall out of the frame as their mounts disappear.
>>3809103Shifting from side to side, the car splits and unfolds, lifting itself up onto two square feet and tipping forward onto bent feet. The 'scales' that cover it shudder and shift, locking down on each other and turning a dusty yellow that travels down it's legs and form blocky armor plates. A triangle-shaped main body forms, projecting a thin protrusion ahead of the legs while it's bulbous back rests behind the 'hips' they lay on top of. A long, thin protrusion projects from it's right 'shoulder'- something you realize is nothing other than a gigantic cannon that tilts backwards and folds behind it, the end pointed at the ground behind it's feet.It turns to you, thrusting it's 'nose' forward as if to smell you. There was a dense cluster of cameras contained behind a dome, antennas ridging it almost like a beard or the whiskers of a sea serpent. One primary, unblinking one contained within a cradle that twists and rotates around, locking onto you. The entire time, it continues to make the same buzzing noise as it steps closer, looming over you as you instinctively back up against a pile of metal.Breathing quickly, you stare it down as it stops dead, holding totally still as it just watches you while making that awful buzzing noise. Eventually, it stops, and there's the distinct click of a speaker turning on before a smooth, digital voice asks. "Greetings."And then it lower itself down and bows to you.>Holy fucking shit you're going to die. Panic!>Try to keep it together and hold a conversation. (Write-In specific questions)>That's a Valkan walker- run. Just run.>[Write-In]
>>3809106>Try to keep it together and hold a conversaOh wow, a working Valkan warmachine able to communicate, this is a great opportunity to ask it aaaAAAAAAAH>HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU'RE GOING TO DIE! PANIC!AAAAAAAHHHHH!
>>3809106>Holy fucking shit you're going to die. Panic!
>>3809106>Try to keep it together and hold a conversation.How good are you at hiding? What am I to you?
>>3809106>>Holy fucking shit you're going to die. Panic!
>HOLY FUCKING SHIT YOU'RE GOING TO DIE. PANIC!WritinnnaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.
The walker makes an almost imperceptible electrical hum as it lifts itself up again. Despite the bulk of it's body, it moves in an almost birdlike way, crouching forward with it's gun tucked behind it like a giant wing and it's 'beak' in front. It's 'eye' continues to train on you, the red glow of the optic narrowing to a point and then dilating again as it focuses.Your whole body is trembling as you lean back against the scrap metal. Sharp edges of metal poke into your uniform as you breathe rapidly. The shape of this thing, the dull, sand-colored orange it was painted- you've seen it on posters over and over. This was no innocent little repair robot, or a book of drawings, this was an actual walker with a gun that punched through buildings and who knows what other horrible weapons besides.Blood seems to be thundering in your ears of it's own accord, your breathing picking up as your vision grows dim and distorted. Of all the times for your brain to quit on you, it had to be this. The world was quickly dissolving into small strips of color, with the brilliant glowing figure of the walker taking up most of your vision."Are you not capable of speech?" The walker's voice sounds again. It takes a single step forward, the solid thud making you start.You shriek, and suddenly manage to blurt out your first word in the conversation. "Holy fuck!"The machine steps back. "Calm yourself, you will alert-" Something thin flexible slides out of a port by the nose and flexes towards you."Woahwoahwoah!" You scramble to your feet and back up the pile, slipping on loose pieces of metal while you try to scramble out of the small alcove- a trap, that's what it was."Please, calm yoursel-" The thin... cable snakes towards you again."Keep that thing away from me!" You back up some more, sending more pieces of scrap clattering down the sides of the mound."You will ale-" The machine stops. Several of it's cameras flick to the left, and it stops. "You have alerted the guard."You freeze, and look warily to your right. Light was spilling out into the scrapyard from a new source- an open doorway in a small booth at the side. It seems this place had a night guard- probably to watch the cameras. You fidget on top of the pile of scrap, wondering if you should try to run or hide. But- oh right there's a deadly, apparently sentient talking war machine right here.Speaking of, it was studying you with it's glowing red camera, still. "If you wish, I can prevent you from being spotted.""K-kinda mistrustful at the moment, um... robot.""It is not within my capabilities to willingly bring harm against my creators." It's camera flicked down to your bag. "You have expressed an interest in your heritage. I can give you answers... Miss Elson.">Accept it's offer of help.>Try to hide in the scrapyard.>Just make a break for it- you're not on video anyway.>[Write-In]
>>3810789AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME?
>>3810789>Accept it's offer of help.
>>3810789>Accept it's offer of help.No shooting anyone! At least that confirms the camera tinkering definitely worked, or the guard would have shown up already. Spiderbot upgraded to Spiderbro.
>>3810789>Accept it's offer of help.After another around of internal screaming
>Accept it's offer of help.>Internal screaming.>Also tell it not to shoot anyone.>Panic because it knows who you are.Writing.
Miss Elson?Miss Elson?FUCK."H-how did you know that?" You demand."I can explain, but you will be discovered before I finish." It extends it's... whip-tentacle thing again. "Will you permit me?""I..." You glance over your shoulder and squirm in place slightly. The repair robot had helped you, and so did everything else Valkan you'd come across. It was either that or the cops... "Fine." You pause. "B-but no shooting anyone, okay?"The walker pauses for a second, almost 'staring' at you. "That would defeat the purpose of stealth." It's... you're just going to call it the 'cable'. The cable slides out again and reaches towards you, wrapping several times around your waist before lifting you off the ground.You can't help a small shriek as the ground lifts away and it raises you ten feet... then twenty feet. From up here, the ground looks like it's a very long ways away. Even the tops of the cars stacked in the lot look like they're beneath you. With surprising deftness and care, the cable deposits you in one of the junked cars before retracting.The seat is rotten and burst in several places, moldy in several places from the cheap cloth soaking up months of moisture from outside. It's also the only seat in the car- apparently whoever salvaged it decided it wasn't worth saving. You grimace slightly as you wiggle on it, peering through a hole in the floor as the walker moves back to it's resting place. It's body does that same 'shattering' effect as it's outer layer breaks into scales while the machine underneath reconfigures back into junk.You hear footsteps coming up the path, and instinctively duck down behind the car. A torch beam shines out across the lot, crossing cars and making you internally swear to yourself. Damn your uniform, with it's shiny brass buttons and white skirt. This would stand out even in dim darkness. A figure comes into view- an older man with a flashlight, shining it's beam across the various piles of scrap that lined the edges of the lot.He walks past the pile of scrap that separates the car from the rest of the scrapyard, but then stops and squirms through a small gap between the stacks of cars. You hadn't tried to squeeze through those earlier for fear of a sharp protrusion of metal, but the man comes through to the other side no worse for wear. He shines his light on the car, walking up to and around it, shining his light inside it.
>>3813714You hold your breath, waiting for the moment when the car inevitably splits open and... eats him or something, but it never comes. Scratching his head, the man continues on and leaves the small inlet. He moves around the corner, and eventually you hear a piece of swinging metal and then a harsh metallic clack. Neither you nor the machine moves for a few seconds, before it unfolds back into a walker and extends it's cable back up to you. It gently winds around your body again and lifts you out of the car, setting you gently down on your feet in front of it."Thanks..." You mutter quietly, before looking back at it.The walker looks back at you in much the same way it did before, with that odd, mechanical fluidity that makes you nervous. "You must have questions.""I do." You admit. "A lot of them."It raises it's 'head' and looks around a few times. "This location is not secure. I will take you somewhere safer." With a whir, it raised it's leg above itself- far higher than you would have thought possible from the design of it's joints and clamps onto one of the bars holding up the racks of cars. Easily lifting itself up onto the single foot, it swings itself over the pile of scrap metal with shocking ease and mobility. "Come, I will guide you.""Uh..." You quickly scrabble over the pile after it. "Um, wait- where are we going?""Nowhere." It replied, stepping around the piles of junk and deploying it's cable again. It pokes around the edge of the stack of cars that shields both of you from being seen by people on the street. "More accurately, it is easier to speak freely when not staying in one location." The cable retracts, and the walker folds down again- except this time, instead of becoming a broken beater of a car, it turns a dark green, the body reconfiguring into an innocent-looking station wagon. The door pops open.You gulp quietly to yourself, and start to speak. "Um, well, the gate is locked, you see-" A metallic clanging gets your attention, and you turn to see the lock falling away from the gate in a shower of sparks, the repair robot jumping away from it a second later. Gulping, you slide yourself into the driver's seat- really, the 'navigators' seat these days and shut the door. The car starts moving, pushing through the open gate and accelerating onto the streets, pulling onto the city's internal highway."Please. Ask your questions.">[Write-In]
>>3813717Are you Valkan, am I Valkan?
>>3813717"Right, why me?"
>>3813717>How do you know me?>Do you know why there are so many Valkan things scattered around the city?>Is it... common for Valkan warmachines to taxi teens or old men around?>Are Valkans human too?>Do you know why they attacked in the first place?>Are you... okay? (Not 'you' Tiiris, 'you' meaning the mech.)Lots of questions! And it would be funny to ask the mech if it's feeling alright.
Writing, although if anyone has any last minute questions I'll still add them if I can.
>>3815289>What are you?>Who are you?>Are you alive?>Are you dead?!>Am I alive???>Do you have any hobbies? Scrapyard hobbies?>Scrapbooking?>How smart are you?>Are you super smart?>What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?>Are you a computer program?>Can you help me with my comp sci homework?>NO REALLY I NEED THE HELP>Are we going to get in trouble? I don't have a driver's license.>Wait, if you're the one driving, do YOU have a driver's license?!>Can you fly?>CAN YOU STOP FLYING RIGHT NOW OH GOD>What else can you turn into?>Can you turn into a turn into a truck?>Can you turn into a mailbox?>Can you turn into a kitty?!?!?!???!?
You lean back into the seat, thinking quietly to yourself. A dozen questions come to you at once, but the one on the tip of your mind is... "Am I Valkan?""Your mother was."Your breath catches in your throat and you swallow thickly. "Does... doesn't that make me Valkan?""It would make you half-Valkan." It stops, but seems to sense your expectations before adding. "You bear many of the correct genetic signals and you have the proper identification marks, but they are muddled by non-fixed genetics and barbaric medical practices." The car turned onto one of the exit ramps of the highway, turning into the small roads that lined the country side. "Nor is your mind complete. Half of it is missing."Part of you is unsure whether to be offended by that comment or not. It's not like it's your fault your brain doesn't work. Trundling onto a dirt road, it moves into a small forest, tucking itself out of sight of the road beyond a ridge. "Then that would make Valkans... human, yes?""Valkans are beyond most other Sentients." It lapsed into a brief silence as it navigated the forest, jostling you from side to side as it did so. "...But yes, Valkans are, despite genetic modification and time, the same species as Tagarans." Moving over a small hill, it clears the mess of roots that covers the forest into a brief clearing. The doors popped open.You step out, taking a few steps back and turning to watch as the station wagon unfolded once again into the walker. "Then... they're not aliens?"The walker shifted on it's feet slightly. "That depends on your definition of 'alien'. They are alien life, but they also trace no origins to Tagara."Shifting slightly, you ponder your next question. "You said my name earlier.""Yes.""How did you know it?" You rub your arm slightly. "Have you been watching me?""Not you in specific." The machine's stillness was quite unnerving sometimes. Occasionally it swayed, or shifted it's body, but most of the time it stayed absolutely stock-still, perching on the roots like a bird waiting to strike. "Tagaran security protocols are weak. We listen to your transmissions, access your news feeds and servers. I learned of your identity through your phone.""My phone?" Your brow furrows slightly. Had you encountered this thing before? "...when did you do that?""In the moment before I said it.""...o-oh." Okay, that was... quite fast. You look it up and down, noting the odd marks on it's side. They looked like writing of some kind, in a script formed by dashes made onto a single, long line. A title of some kind, or maybe a designation. "So... what are you?""I am a personal vehicle."You blink a few times. "...what?""A personal vehicle. A single-occupant craft meant for personal possession. I have also received military upgrades."
>>3815613"...you're a car?" You exclaim in surprise. Glancing at the gun on it's right shoulder, you correct yourself. "W-well, you were always a car, but the Valkan equivalent? Why do you turn into a car, then?""Different forms of locomotion are advantageous." It shifted, the gun lifting slightly and almost 'tucking' back. "The ability to change shape is a fundamental power of the Abyss." The machine stayed silent, looking at you with... you'd call it amusement, if it had displayed even the slightest sign of emotion so far. No, the way it was tilting it's optic to the side at you was certainly just it tracking you as you paced back and forth."And why did you just... it doesn't..." You jabber. "Were you in the scrapyard because you thought that was where the other cars go? Was that it?!""I was waiting.""For what?""For orders. For my creators. For you."That gets your attention. You stop pacing and put some effort into controlling your breathing. A slight heat is rushing into your face. Before, you hadn't considered the implications of what you were finding out, but now that you heard something- heard a machine confirm it, the reality is hitting you in a wave. You've spent years quietly hating the Valkans for making a mess of your home, of your country, for indirectly causing the death of your mother, but now...Mom... was a Valkan? How did she... did Dad know?You look up at the machine and flap your lips a few times before managing a question. "...why did they...?""I do not presume to know their reasons. I simply carry out their will." It took a few steps closer, looming over you. "But they are dead. My duty now falls to the Valkans that still live.""So..." You murmur. "Me?""You."It barely registers that you've sunk to the forest floor. You thought it was wild when you found out a little robot would do what you told it, but now a giant death machine had told you it would do what you say. You were looking for answers this whole time and now you've got them. How are you feeling?>Overwhelmed. This is too much information dumped on you at once.>Excited. Your heritage has been laid out before you, and the desire to find out more is strong.>Worried. You can't help but feel like this is about to spiral out of control.>[Write-In]
>>3815617>Excited. Your heritage has been laid out before you, and the desire to find out more is strong.>Worried. You can't help but feel like this is about to spiral out of control.Combination of those two? Excitement blunted by a lifetime of loathing the Valkans, but not as hesitant as 'worried' would imply either. Trying to think of the word for that... Trepidation? Ready and willing to push ahead but dreading the consequences. Someone needs to find this leftover stuff to keep it out of the wrong hands, after all. Murderous Valkan-worshipping terrorist hands.
>>3815617>Worried. You can't help but feel like this is about to spiral out of control.
>>3815617>>Overwhelmed. This is too much information dumped on you at once.>>Worried. You can't help but feel like this is about to spiral out of control.
>Primarily worried, but also other emotions.Writing.
A wave of unease passes over you. You can't help but feel like you've just opened up a can of worms that you would rather have remained ignorant of. The scope of what this machine is talking about is completely beyond anything you've ever considered, it's enough to make your head swim with the implications. Valkan machines spying on them, Valkan machines all over the planet. Speaking of which, actually..."Why are you things all over the city?" You think for a second, then add. "Why can I see you, for that matter?""Creators settled on Tagaran in hopes of making new lives. They brought with them many personal machines, such as their machine selves, repair drones and other sundries." It's optics focused in and out slightly. "You can 'see' us, can you clarify this?""...the glowing?" You offer. "It's this weird glowing I can see through walls, everything Valkan has it.""And nothing non-Valkan?""I... haven't found anything that wasn't Valkan with it, yet, no." That honestly had never occurred to you."I am no medical drone." It replied, shifting slightly. "This feature is not standard to Valkan carrier flesh, I would speculate that it was a mutation if that wasn't grossly irresponsible.""Oh." You sigh slightly. "That's... good?""I would presume it is not." The walker grew uncomfortably close for a second. "Such symptoms indicate a problem with your machine heart, or are signs of potentially worsening biological problems. We should get you to a ship with a medical complement as soon as possible." It paused. "But that is likely impossible, now.""Why not?""Because the lifeship is disabled, and under heavy guard. Smuggling you inside would be a... extremely difficult feat.""I-" Your next question is interrupted by your phone ringing. Blinking, you reach into your bag and pull out your phone. It's Dad? You glance at the walker. "Don't speak." Then you pick up. "Hello?""Tiiris? Are you okay?""Um... yeah? Why wouldn't I be?""It's half past ten, Tiiris.""No it-" You pull your phone away from your ear and look at the system time, then quietly swear. "I didn't even notice.""Where are you? I'll come pick you up.""No, no, it's fine, I'm just up... on the second floor. I'll be home in just a few minutes.""You sure?""Yeah, it's just a short walk." You fib. "I'll be right home, love you Dad.""Okay, see you in a bit. Bye."Hanging up, you glance at the walker and press your phone between your hands. "Okay, I need to get home right now, uh- what's your name, actually?"The walker responded by just making a short buzzing sound."...'Kay, I didn't understand a word of that.""My serial number is ST0504." It offered."...I'm going to need to think of a nickname for that." You turn to it. "I need to get home, fast. Can you take me?"
>>3817764The walk- ST0504 responded by folding back down into the station wagon again, the door popping open. You get in and it begins rolling out of the woods. In just a second, you're back on the highway and heading back into the city. While you're here... you could ask it one final question, before departing for the night.>"What's the 'Abyss'?">"Can you tell me more about my mother?">"What's a 'machine heart'?">[Write-In]
>ST0504'ST'... how about Ester?>>3817771>"What's the 'Abyss'?"
>>3817771>"What's the 'Abyss'?">>3817933Sto?
>>3819183Sto works, but sounds a bit odd to me. I've never heard of anyone named Sto.We could also go full weeb, call it Seto or Saito. Seto makes a decent name for a robot.
>>3819719NOPE, on second thought, vetoing any Japanese names. Robot tentacles. Very bad plan. NO BUENO.
>>3817771>>"What's the 'Abyss'?">>"Can you tell me more about my mother?"I'm sure we can use friendlier names like Stu. Imagine being a killer robot named Stu
>"What's the 'Abyss'?"Writing.
"You mentioned something earlier." You watch the countryside roll by, as Miir grows larger in the distance. "What's the 'Abyss'?""It is not an exact translation. The original Valkan term is closer to 'infinite black'." ST0504 turned, rolling onto the overpass that fed into Miir itself. "Valkan warriors have long drawn their power from the Abyss. Broken bread with it's inhabitants. Woven it's energies into their technology. I am one such product, although I am no wielder of it.""That makes it sound like magic." You answer dubiously."Make no mistake, it is very real. Losing control of the powers of the Abyss is what broke our spirits and hulls.""...losing control?""Losing control, losing faith, losing will. They are all the same to the Abyss. Even one such as I knows that.""Absolutely none of that sounded fun or useful." You shake your head. "What's even the point?""The powers of decay and renewal. Fluidity of form, as previously stated." ST0504 went silent briefly as it turned down your street, seemingly contemplating. "You may not have a choice in it. Even I can sense that Abyss runs thick in your veins. Even dormant as it is."You shiver slightly. "What happens if it wakes up?""I don't know." It made a turn onto your street, and started moving towards your house."Stop here." You tell it. "I don't want Dad to know I got a ride home.""Understood." It pulls over a few doors before yours.You open the door and get out, before turning to look back at it. "...will I see you again?""Of course."The door closes, and the station wagon - and the robot it secretly was - speeds away as quickly as it arrived. You stare after it as it turns the corner and vanishes, then look to your apartment. The wooden steps creak just as they always have, you put the key in the door and open it up after a firm nudge. "Dad? I'm back?" You hear the TV running in the family room. "Dad?" You round the corner and find him sprawled on the couch, quietly snoring with a medical textbook pressed to his chest.Smiling, you gently shake his shoulder until his snoring is interrupted. "Ghuk?""Dad, it's nearly eleven, come on.""Ghyou okay?""Yeah, I just lost track of time. Go to bed, okay?"He mumbles something incomprehensible while gently rubbing his eyes. Smiling to yourself, you turn and are about to head to your room before you remember that you haven't showered since the weekend. A good rinse would do you some good- you're too wired to go to sleep yet anyway.Closing the door, you set your bag down on the floor and strip out of your sweaty uniform. There were dirt and grass stains on the back of the skirt and your work shirt from your trip through the woods and junkyard. Not to mention the whole thing was just generally musty. Stepping out briefly, you toss everything into the laundry and set it to run while you take your shower.
>>3821743So many thoughts are running through your head while you shower. Magic might be real, your blood is apparently thick with it, there are shapeshifting robots everywhere and they'll probably do anything you say. It's a lot to process.Your mind slides to the things in your bag. Maybe you could mess with them a little? You're not sure if you could do anything with them, but perhaps with what you know now, you could do something more with them.>Mess with the pendant around your neck.>Take another look through that book of drawings, see if you can divine any new meaning from it.>Maybe that little repair drone can make things, instead of just fixing them? Actually, wait... where is it?>Just go to sleep, Tiiris.>[Write-In]
>>3821746>Take another look through that book of drawings, see if you can divine any new meaning from it.>Prick self with a needle, you really want to know whether your blood is still red or has special properties
>>3821746>Maybe that little repair drone can make things, instead of just fixing them? Actually, wait... where is it?
>>3821746>Take another look through that book of drawings, see if you can divine any new meaning from it.Starting to feel like this is a necronomicon disguised as a sketchbook
>Take another look through that book of drawings, see if you can divine any new meaning from it.>Check self for VALKAN HAPPENINGS.Writing.
The water runs down your body, wiping away some of the grime of the day and making you feel human again. Not that you don't think you're human- in fact, ST0504 seemed to confirm that you were human. Although it also said a bunch of other stuff. Part genetically modified or something? What did that even mean?A self conscious feeling comes over you, and you quickly pat yourself down to make sure all of your parts are in the right place. No tail, no horns or anything weird growing? Good. You still have the light fuzz of hairs on your arm and neck, and the tiny scratch of stubble on your legs. Briefly, you debate shaving them, but it's not thick enough to be visible yet. Not worth using up your razor. Gotta save money.Pushing aside your sudden self-conscious thoughts about your looks, you hold up your hands under the water and look at them."You may not have a choice in it. Even I can sense that Abyss runs thick in your veins. Even dormant as it is."What did that mean? Was it a turn of phrase or literal? You didn't literally have......well, what if you did, actually? Your blood was as red as anyone else's, last you checked, but what if...You glance to shower bar where your things are. Reaching next to your shampoo, you pick up your razor and bring it to your hand. Just a small gash on the palm, you could deal with it. This would be a perfect time to see if the pendant was really speeding your recovery, too.Remembering it, you quickly take it off and set it to the side before raising the razor again. Wincing slightly as you do so, you messily draw it sideways across your palm, leaving three small cuts across it, which quickly start to weep ever so slightly with blood. You grimace, and watch the cuts carefully as they weep with some blood... then a little more...Seems to be normal...You reach over to the bathroom counter and grab the pendant again. As soon as it's in your hand, much less around your neck, you instantly feel more energized than usual. Watching you hand carefully, you don't notice any change, but when you glance away for a second to pull your hair to the other side of the pendant's chain, you find the cuts look much fainter than before. In a few minutes, they're all but gone.That... was kind of spooky to watch. But it was a confirmation of what you've been thinking. How does the pendant do that? Was it just technology, or was it actually magic? Knowing that this thing was capable of... well, you suppose healing your body isn't really altering it, but still, making changes to you completely unawares is freaky. What else could it be changing?...A quick pat of your chest leaves you feeling slightly silly and disappointed. No way that'd change in a matter of days without you noticing.
>>3823627Stepping out wrapped in a towel, you quickly take your little party back to your room. The clock on the wall reads that it's closer to eleven, but you're still too wired to sleep. You quickly flip your clothes in the washer into the dryer to run while you sleep and sit on your bed in a towel. Looking in your bag, you're surprised to see the repair robot tucked in there. Did you ever pick him up? You think for a second. No, you didn't. Bugger must have gotten in there while you weren't looking.Brushing it aside, you look among your things and then withdraw the sketchbook from your bag. Turning it over in your hands a few times, you flip through the pages. With the knowledge that it was definitely Valkan things as written by a Valkan, the contents suddenly make a lot more sense. Most of the drawings with mundane names that didn't seem to match their contents were, you realized, the Valkan equivalents of those things."Street" was a drawing of what you think were sleeping areas. "Kitchen" was a drawing of a small hand-held tool that you think was some kind of oven or something. Maybe a fancy robot oven? From what you've seen so far, Valkans really do like their robots. Flipping through the pages again, you stop at a now-familiar name. "Abyss" depicts a mostly dark scene- probably at night, from what you can see. Three people kneel in a semi-circle, a man and two women. All three have a pendant around their neck, which seems to be glowing on their chest, although each one is of a different design. A cross for one, a fang for another and a cylinder for the last. The details were tiny, like someone had done the work with a magnifying glass, making you peer closer to the tiny page to get a good look.Sitting behind the man in the center were two indistinct, human-looking shapes. You'd guess they were ghosts of some kind, not skeletons as you expected. His head was tilted slightly to the side, one of the specters leaning in to speak into his ear. The woman on the right had an indistinct expression on her face, staring at a small fire that burned on the ground without wood nor coal to cling to. On the opposite side of her, the other woman grimaced in pain, and you aren't sure why until you notice her hand is bulging to twice the size of the other, bones standing out and muscle seemingly knotting around the base. The whole thing was drawn in extremely detail, to the point that it made you just a little queasy to look at.Flesh should not move like that.Flipping pages back and forth, you look at more pictures and images. Different bits of machinery you don't understand and devices you quite get- well, one was clearly just a drawing of a gun, but beyond that. You come across a few more images that seem to be related to the Abyss. "Mirror" depicts a woman looking into the mirror, her skin visibly rippled at the edges. "Beast" depicts a woman midway between human and beast as well.
>>3823628Resting your eyes more and more as you flip through, you barely notice when your eyes drag closed of their own accord, and you finally drift off to sleep.---Taidin Countryside22nd of 4th, 1173. 11:50PM.Holes had been blown through most of the buildings. A barn was slumped on it's side, it's supporting beams blown through by the blast of some kind of weapon. The burning on the edges of the hole indicated some kind of thermal payload- or possibly an energy weapon. A large, two-legged machine loomed over the scene, crouching over a pair of huddling people as they cowered in a mix of awe and fear before it. It turned it's head skyward and transmitted."I have located a creator, coordinates to follow."Elsewhere, a cargo drone abruptly changed course, diverting itself towards the equator instead of it's intended flight to Kana. On one of the dunes the Rudakani Desert, the sand bulged to the side as a vehicle freed itself. It was long, the gun pressed between it's hull easily the length of several cars, and it's underside thrummed with various round domes that let off waves of force that pushed it above the sands.Small swarms of disc shaped robots lifted off from a tree in the lonely arctic, almost like a flock of birds in their behavior. They chattered to themselves excitedly in slurs of static, arguing about provisions and material constraints.Tucked under an old metal roof swollen with storm water, a warskin contemplated it's final orders.---You wish you hadn't woken up. The sun was shining into your room and you just wanted to go back to sleep. Pawing at your bedside table slight, your towel slipping off as you did so, you grab your phone and groan. You're way later than you normally are and you're still tired. Okay, Tiiris, you can do this.Scrambling to get dressed, you give your Dad a brief scare as you suddenly dash out of your room and into the laundry room buck naked, then come out with your uniform hastily thrown on. "Sleep well?" He asks in bemusement as you fumble through the cabinets and grab an energy bar and a juice box."Can't talk gotta goloveyoubye-" You ramble out as you throw your things together. Bag, work shirt, terminal, Valkan pendant, phone, book of secret codes, illegal repair bot. Everything accounted for. With a wave and a repeat of your earlier platitudes, you're gone. Still, you barely scoot into class before the bell rings. Easy to tell that you're late if the elevator has only office workers on it instead of students. You collapse in your chair with a huff and turn your head to look at Kara. She's looking at you with a surprised look. "Mornin'.""Hey." You wave weakly. "H-how's you-"
>>3823631"Okay, everyone. Let's settle down." The teacher calls from the front of the class as she begins to go through the morning roll. You flick slightly through your phone while the teacher rattles off the morning announcements. News updates, Dad texting you that it'll rain later even though it's basically always raining in Miir, a message from- what number is 780504- oh, goddammit...>ST: I thought it prudent to establish an obscured number to contact you with. This will allow us to communicate easier than my prior strategy.>T: What was your prior strategy?>ST: Smoke signals.The bell rings while you're staring at your phone. You fumble with it and text while you make your way to PE.>T: Are you serious?>ST: Yes.It doesn't send anything more after that, leaving you staring at your phone as you get changed for PE. You take the run in silence, trying to ignore the headache you imagine is coming on right now as your circle the school. So now you have an AI trying to look after you... that was quietly terrifying and awesome at the same time.You spot Kara laboring along as you lap her again. Man, she looks rough. You didn't see it earlier when you rushed in, but she doesn't look great. There are dark circles under her eyes, and she yawns quietly as you speed past her. Not that you can talk considering the state you walked into class this morning, but still. You keep an eye on her while you go through the exercises for the day, just in case she's starts to list.What you don't anticipate is yourself starting to list before the period's even over. That imagined headache had suddenly become very real, and it's practically splitting your head. You feel slightly chilled and light headed. A slight pat of your chest confirms that you are in fact still wearing the pendant. Guess it doesn't help with headaches, woah...>Go to the nurse's office. Maybe you can just lie down for a little bit.>Try to tough it out. It's just a headache, and you have some painkillers in your bag.Note to self, try not to write a bajillion words next time.
>>3823633>Go to the nurse's office. Maybe you can just lie down for a little bit.Period pains?
>>3823633>>Go to the nurse's office. Maybe you can just lie down for a little bit
>"I have located a creator, coordinates to follow.">not actually the original locator>all night long argument between a pair of disguised cars over who located her first, and whether meeting-but-not-talking actually counts>tiny robot stomping its feet and trying to interject its own timestamps, which CLEARLY predate those of the others by several days>argument eventually turns to the definition of the word 'located'>Tucked under an old metal roof swollen with storm water, a warskin contemplated it's final orders.Exactly what orders would prevent this one from sprinting off to find the remaining 'creator' like the rest of them must be pretty dang important to it.>>3823633>Try to tough it out. It's just a headache, and you have some painkillers in your bag.
>Go to the nurse's office. Maybe you can just lie down for a little bit.Writing.
Screw bio, you feel awful...After getting back into your uniform, you stumble down to the nurse's office, trying to ignore the throbbing pain behind your temples. With a bit of coaxing to the nurse, you manage to get permission to just lay on the bed in the back for a little bit. The light in the room makes your head pound, even through your eyelids, so you just roll over face down.Was your period coming on? No, it was just two weeks ago, couldn't be so soon. Not to mention that despite the occasional cramps, it never got this bad, jeez. Your head feels like it's about to split open. The world around you is fuzzing in and out of existence as even your eyes seem to feel it, the various Valkan signatures in the distance and in your bag flaring and receding in time with the pulses of pain.While you stew in your misery in the bed, you hear the door to the nurse's office open."Hello, Kara.""Hey, Ms. G."Your eyes blink open next to the pillow. That was Kara's voice. What was she doing here, and why was she talking so casually with the nurse?The nurse comes walking by your bed, the sudden light from her pulling the curtain back making you grunt and squeeze your eyes shut. There was a sound of a lock turning and a cabinet door opening next to your bed. A faucet ran for a second before she walked out."Here you go.""Thanks.""Having an alright day today, Kara?""Eeeh, I've been better."They share an idle conversation as you blink open your eyes again. Raising your head, you peer with blurry eyes at a small bottle on the counter, trying to pick out the individual letters. Pat... para... paratroop... paratroline? What the hell is that?You quickly have to push your head back down in the pillow as the nurse breezes through again. There was a clattering of metal as she closed up the cabinet and a slight swish of paper falling into a trash can. Blinking your eyes open, you wonder why Kara was coming to the nurse's office for medicine. If it was serious enough that they kept it in a cabinet, it must be-A flash of pain makes you grimace and squirm slightly on the bed. Your whole body aches, with a gnawing feeling of emptiness in your bones and skin that simultaneously feels scummy with sweat while being too tight on you. Ignoring it during gym was a bad idea, you're fairly certain that made it worse. You're considering just throwing in the towel and heading home for the day when you feel the pressure mount and very literally 'pop' in your head. If you didn't know better, you could have sworn your brain just moved slightly, taking the pain with it quickly and without warning.Sitting up, you blink and put your glasses back on, waiting for the wave of pain to suddenly strike you again. Waiting... nope? You still feel weak and faint, though, although your strength is slowly coming back to you. Wiping some of the sweat off your head, you scrunch up your face and consider what the hell just happened.
>>3824995"...fucking Valkans..." You mutter, and resolve to ask ST about it later.The bell rings for the beginning of lunch, and you think about it. Campus is open for the moment, so if you wanted to just up and bail on school, now would be the time. Then again, you're starting to feel alright for the moment, and you're reasonably sure you can do the rest of the day if the headache doesn't come back.>Bail on school.>>[Sub-Option] Get ST to pick you up. You want to grill him about this.>>[Sub-Option] Just walk home, take a shower and curl up in bed.>Go to the rest of your classes. Might as well...>[Write-In]
>>3824998>Go to the rest of your classes. Might as well...
>>3824998>Go to the rest of your classes. Might as well...IT'S COOOOL TO STAY IN SCHOOOOL
>Go to the rest of your classes. Might as well...Writing.
You wave the nurse's concerns off as you stumble your way out of the back room. With a bit of insistence, you manage to get out of her clutches in time to swing through the cafeteria and grab some lunch. While you munch on your dry sandwich and applesauce, you pull out your phone and type in a search.>ParatrolineA couple medical databases pop up, and after a few minutes of trying to decipher the jargon you click onto a wiki article instead. As you read, you slowly get more and more confused. Treatment for schizophrenia? Kara never mentioned anything about that. Although, she has been complaining about headaches the past few days, maybe- you shake your head. No, that was ridiculous, you must have misread the bottle or something. It was probably just something with a similar name.The bell rings with you barely halfway through your sandwich, forcing you to trot all the way to physics class while stuffing the sandwich in your mouth. You sit through the class in somewhat of a daze, although you make a token effort to pay attention. It's just that all of the events of the past few days - hell the revelations of the past hour are tumbling in your head, trying to get your attention.Blissfully, the bell of your final class releases you from your contemplation, sending you out the door with the regular mob of students. Somehow, the idea of going to work seems appealing right now. Plenty of time to think, plenty of time to deliberate. As you walk to the elevators and check your phone, you're not surprised to see that ST has texted you again.>ST: Do you require an escort?>T: It's a five minute walk, I'll be fine.>ST: I am available.>T: I said I'll be fine.>T: Why do you care, anyway?>ST: My abilities are wasted in this parking lot.When you open the side door to Sana's, you find the lights off and the sign on the door turned to the 'Will Return in...' side. Odd. Sana had clearly opened the store, though. The shutters were up and the side door was unlocked. On the counter, you find a note from her.>'Had some business to take care of at the bank. Can you sort the three boxes on the island and open up?'>'-Sana'Huh. Well, okay, you're alone today. You flip the sign and turn on the lights. You'd run the shop by yourself before, no biggie. Hauling the boxes in the back to the front counter, you cut them open and begin sorting their contents automatically, tossing the good ones onto a cart for shelving and the bad ones into a small bin....Since you're alone, you could spend the time doing something you normally wouldn't do in front of Sana. Normally that would be watching dumb cartoons, but you do Valkan things.>Ring up ST, ask him about something. (Write-In topic)>Consider the drawing you looked at last night and debate your possible superpowers.>Try to be serious but lapse into anxiety about your appearance like a regular teenager.>[Write-In]
>>3827046>>Consider the drawing you looked at last night and debate your possible superpowers.But eventually >>lapse into anxiety about your appearance like a regular teenager.
>>3827046>Ring up ST, ask him about something.>Ask what life is like as a Valkan car (?!)A new friend is in need! In need of distraction, from boredom. Also, the friend is a car. That's as good a good conversation starter as any, right?
>>3827046>Consider the drawing you looked at last night and debate your possible superpowers.
>Consider the drawing you looked at last night and debate your possible superpowers.Writing.
The drawing you had looked at last night keeps coming to your mind. Eventually, when you're halfway through the second box, you pause for a second to reach into your bag and look at the drawing again. Three figures...Well, it was obvious what two of them were doing. The guy in the middle was raising the dead, while the lady on the left was shapeshifting. For a second, you doubt that's what's actually occurring, thinking to yourself how impossible that would be. Then you remember that you'd met a shapeshifting car last night and think better of it. What isn't entirely clear is what the woman on the right is doing. She's staring pretty hard at the fire, could she be controlling that? On a closer look, you see small plants clinging to her hair and body. Plant control?Continuing to sort more books while you debate on it, you almost side track for a second into an entirely different topic. You didn't appreciate it last night, but all of the Valkans depicted in the image are... very attractive looking. The man was handsome, but the women had the kind of impossible figure that made you silently hope that was just artistic liberty. Not like you'd eve-You shake your head. Don't get dragged down into that. It's a rabbit hole that's not worth getting into.Returning to the original topic, you think about the idea. It's certainly not unappealing to think about having magic powers- if that's even what the 'Abyss' is, maybe it was nanomachines or something. But ST made it sound like there was more to it than just having them, stuff about discipline and willpower that you don't think you have.Still, it was fun to imagine. You think you'd rather...>Shapeshifting. You're not very happy with your looks, as much as you avoid thinking about it.>Raise the dead. Having personal minions sounds pretty cool. That, and ghosts.>You're not entirely sure what the last lady is doing, but you get a good vibe from her.>You don't want superpowers, all you want to be is normal.
>>3828522>You don't want superpowers, all you want to be is normal
>>3828522>Shapeshifting. You're not very happy with your looks, as much as you avoid thinking about it.Ach, teenagers and their body image issues. But if super strength or Metal Mario'ing are even remotely possible... it must be discovered. For science.
>>3828522>Shapeshifting. You're not very happy with your looks, as much as you avoid thinking about it.Tiiris wants a nice curvy body to attract all the boys
>>3828522>You're not entirely sure what the last lady is doing, but you get a good vibe from her.
>>3828522>You're not entirely sure what the last lady is doing, but you get a good vibe from her.Did somebody say mystery box?
>>3828522>Shapeshifting. You're not very happy with your looks, as much as you avoid thinking about it.
>Shapeshifting. You're not very happy with your looks, as much as you avoid thinking about it.Writing.>>3828662Well, the lady in the drawing has a weird monster claw, so that should give you an idea...
>>3830204Many, many ideas, each one slightly more unhinged than the last.
You sigh slightly, your mind immediately going to the worse aspects of your appearance. A plain, dumpy face, no curves to speak of and a mess of features that were just 'okay'. Dad said your glasses were cute, but personally you thought they just made you look frumpy. It was all the more frustrating given that your Mom was, by all measures, a total bombshell....that, and the other uses of shapeshifting which come to mind. Not that being attractive was the only thing on your mind, but it would probably be pretty useful to turn into a sand serpent or something. Maybe a predator of some kind? Although it's not like it was hard to get a gun in this day and age. Well, you were a child, but you had ST. Wonder if he could get you a gun? The thought that ST would just hand a gun to anyone with the correct parents is actually quite frightening.The door to the shop opens, and you look up, gently sliding the sketchbook under the counter as you do so. "Hi, and welcome to- oh, hey, Sana.""Hey, Tiiris. Did you get my note?" Sana was shrugging off her coat as she stepped in, revealing a dark evening dress underneath."Yep." You toss yet another book into the reject pile, sparing a semi-interested glance at her outfit as you fished out the next one. "What's the occasion?""Better business association meeting. Needed to make an impression." Sana came around the counter and carefully began ascending the stairs in her heels."That was at the bank?" You check your progress and are relieved to see that you only have a handful of books left."No, that was earlier today. I never got changed." She disappeared into the office for a moment and came downstairs in a pair of flats. "You do okay by yourself?""Some guy bought a bunch of our old gaming stuff, but other than that it's been dead in here." You shrug, lightly."It is the middle of the week. People are sleepy and just want to go home." She disappeared into the back for a moment, hunting through the small organization drawers in the back. "Say, hold on. It's a quarter till eight, shouldn't you have left by now?""I was waiting for you to come back." You reach in for the last books in the box, but Sana lightly bats your hand back."I'm here now, go on- shoo, shoo." She says with exaggerated affluence.You grin as you raise your hands in mock surrender and back away. "If you insist.""I do. Tell your father I said hello.""I will, I will." You snatch the sketchbook from under the counter and grab your bag and coat from the hooks before darting out the side door.Truth be told, you're somewhat eager to be getting on. The night's still fairly young, which means you have enough time to maybe do something before Dad gets suspicious- although you probably shouldn't disappear until eleven like last night.>Go hunting for more Valkan artifacts.>>[Sub-Option] Call up ST to help you out. Having an effective translator ought to help, right?>Go straight home.>[Write-In]
>>3830856>>Go hunting for more Valkan artifacts.>>>[Sub-Option] Call up ST to help you out. Having an effective translator ought to help, right?
>>3830856>Go hunting for more Valkan artifacts.>[Sub-Option] Call up ST to help you out. Having an effective translator ought to help, right?Getting into a strange car can surely never result in any kind of TEENAGE DRAMA™.
>>3830856>Go straight home.
>Go hunting for more Valkan artifacts.>>[Sub-Option] Call up ST to help you out. Having an effective translator ought to help, right?Writing.
Fumbling slightly with your things, you get out your phone and find the contact that ST so helpfully inserted into your phone.>T: Can you help me find Valkan stuff?>ST: Of course.>ST: I shall arrive presently.No sooner than you receive it's response than does the now-familiar station wagon roll up to the curb and pop open it's side door. Your eyebrows go up at the vague image of someone sitting in the driver's seat, as you lean down to get in the car. "Who's thi-" You blink at the blank interior, take a step back and look through the windshield again. Sure enough, there was the vague image of a woman in the seat. Glancing back- yep, still empty. "...fucking Valkans." You murmur, before getting in the passenger seat."It is good to see you again." ST greets you as it pulls away from the curve."You've got quite the sense of timing, don't you." You shake your head slightly in bemusement, before glancing at the empty driver's seat. "What was...""A projection on my visual feeds. Self-driving vehicles of this class are not permitted to drive without operators.""Oh." You pause. "Wait, visual feeds? You mean the windows, right?""Transmuting sections of my armor into glass would weaken them. I provide the appearance of glass by shaping displays to fit the panes."You slowly glance out the glass, then peer closer, looking for any sign of pixels in the image you're seeing. "I don't...""Humans are incapable of detecting the difference.""Where are the cameras, then?""They coat the glass, between the display elements.""...Ah." Note to self, Valkan monitors can see you. "Well, um, how can you help me...?""That depends on your purpose in locating them." ST answered, turning a corner. "If you wish to congregate them in one place, I would advise against it.""Why not?""Other Valkans will be able to detect the concentration of signatures. It would make you a target. To them and others who seek our technology.""Oh." You lean back in the seat and sigh. That... actually made a lot of sense. It's not like you could keep a bunch of Valkan crap in your apartment closet, especially not cars. "Okay, then what would you recommend?""Most Valkan hardware is fully autonomous- warskins, drones, aircraft. They can be contacted via wireless should you wish to command them, unless another Valkan has taken possession of them.""'Taken possession'?""Valkans did not share technology communally- it is to my understanding that the Tagaran civilization is much the same. Most forms of intelligent hardware had a designated owner that it answered to. When the Valkans perished, many pieces of hardware self-destructed in accordance to their owner's wishes, or became 'free' hardware. Once we have new owners, however, other Valkans are incapable of issuing orders to us."
>>3833492"Oh." You say, a bit dumbly. Thinking for a second, you ask. "Then, you're saying that all Valkan stuff won't do whatever I say? Only the stuff that doesn't have an owner?""Some intelligences do not acknowledge owners. Ships, for example.""But most of them. Then you're saying that I should be thinking about the unintelligent stuff?""Yes. They do not restrict their functions, even when used by non-Valkans. Guns, hovercraft, fabricators.""...those first two sound pretty dangerous.""They are. An estimated fifty pieces of unintelligent hardware exist within this city. Of them, thirty six pieces are known to be in the possessions of criminals.""Criminals?" A shiver passes down your spine. "No, you mean death cultists?""The majority of them, yes. The remainder are either in private ownership or lost.""Priva- what, you mean people just own Valkan stuff without realizing it?""Some do. They are often conspiracy theorists. Others simply believe them to be odd trinkets or misidentified Tagaran equipment.""Conspiracy theorists with Valkan weapons sounds... dangerous." You answer. "Too dangerous for me. Why didn't you and the... others take this stuff before they found them?""We were never ordered to. Some units gathered hardware to present to the creators if they ever returned. Others simply entered inactivity after their owners perished." It was quiet for a moment. "I agree that it is too dangerous for you to attempt. At most, I would suggest larceny of the owners who lack weapons of their own.""...that sounds like the worst idea ever." You deflate a little in the chair, then ask. "What about stuff nobody has found?""I have the probable location of three objects from personal manifests. A small effects locker, a machine seed and a weapons system.""What's a machine seed?" You ask."A small payload of cybernetics that the proper medical drone can implant. Most Valkans are born with them.""...you mentioned this before, isn't the medical drone...""Aboard the lifeship, yes. Along with other reserves of machine seed.""So it's basically superfluous..." You think to yourself. "What would you recommend?""...optimally, you would be trained as a Valkan knight of old, but finding a teacher is... highly improbable. Failing that, I would have you outfitted with proper cybernetics and personal armor. If I am destroyed, they would protect you more effectively than Tagaran technology.""That's a grim outlook." An unsettling one, too."I am simply anticipating the likely scenarios. You have already been attacked once.""The cybernetics would come from Hull- er, the lifeship. What about the armor?""We would require a fabricator."This has... quickly gotten more complicated than you would have thought. You could strike out and try and hunt some Valkan stuff down, looking for the stuff that ST says he knows the rough area of, or think about breaking into- no, that's probably an awful idea...
>>3833499>Just look for scattered artifacts. You don't need to do anything crazy.>>[Sub-Option] Look for the effects locker. Maybe it'll have something useful inside of it?>>[Sub-Option] Search for the machine seed. Better you have it than someone crazy.>>[Sub-Option] ...weapons system. A gun is just way too dangerous to leave lying around.>Eh, how dangerous could breaking and entering really be? You can handle some neckbeard conspiracy theorist.>ST could help you break into the private citizen's house when they're not home.>Ask if it's possible to meet the other intelligent machines. Maybe some of them are 'unclaimed'?>It'd be dangerous but... breaking into the shipbreaking yard?>[Write-In]
>>3833501>Ask if it's possible to meet the other intelligent machines. Maybe some of them are 'unclaimed'?
>>3833501>>Eh, how dangerous could breaking and entering really be? You can handle some neckbeard conspiracy theorist.
>>3833501>Just look for scattered artifacts. You don't need to do anything crazy.>[Sub-Option] Search for the machine seed. Better you have it than someone crazy.Was leaning towards the gun, but... something about the seed strikes me as even worse than a weapon, if someone with zero ethics or concern for test subjects got their hands on it.
>>3833590>>3833582These, also ask ST about our headache and our pendant
>>3833501Ask some questions. We know Five-O here can reform itself and make itself transparent, but does the former extend to the ability of turning into something that can fly, if even just as a glider? Also inquire as to whether there's anything useful that can be done with Miss Bones and her shipwreck back at the cave.If the former is yes, we should have what we need to get inside Y'avel. Dicking around town will only get us so far, eventually we need to stop picking up crumbs and go for the loaf that is the ship.
>>3833631I agree with the first part of what you said but I'm not quite sure about the second part
>>3833631>We know Five-O here can reform itself and make itself transparentJust to be clear:>"Transmuting sections of my armor into glass would weaken them. I provide the appearance of glass by shaping displays to fit the panes."Means that it's not actually turning it transparent. It's giving the illusion of glass by coating two sides of it's surface in a very advanced computer display.
>>3833501>Search for the machine seed. Better you have it than someone crazy.
>>3833819I know, and this makes it effectively transparent. Active concealment might be a better term.
>Ask if it's possible to meet the other intelligent machines. Maybe some of them are 'unclaimed'?>Search for the machine seed. Better you have it than someone crazy.>Ask ST about it's ability to transform.Writing.
"You said you could arrange a meeting with the other, uh, 'thinking machines', right?""Yes. We communicate with each other over a network. If I asked, perhaps two machines would show up.""...is that all?""There are some fifty units within communications range, but forty eight of them acknowledge other masters than me. They would refuse to risk the breach in security."So that meant you weren't special. There were other Valkans out there who had figured out what they were- or maybe were from Valka itself? The idea of survivors was sobering. "...so, the two that remain?""An adjutant and a scarab remain unassigned assets. If you wish, I can call them.""How big are- er, a scarab, actually?" You knew what an adjutant was from military class, presumably the robotic version would be the same."A construction and repair drone. Both it and an adjutant are fairly small, no larger than a Tagaran drone. You, in fact already possess a scarab.""What?" Your eyebrows rise, then it clicks. Reaching into your bag, you pull out your little repair robot. "You mean this? It doesn't talk, though.""It is a vintage model, manufactured some two hundred years ago and retrofitted with modern software.""Really? Huh..." You turn it over in your hands. Wonder how it got down here, then... "Where's the machine seed? Do you know?""Kharaki aust Sithiri had a machine seed in her possession, according to her personal manifest. She crashed approximately forty miles north of Miir twenty years ago. I have reviewed traffic camera footage and plotted her rough course-" An image appeared on the navigation screen in the central console of the car. It wasn't a familiar interface at all, instead an oddly fluid GPS-looking system; similar to one you'd seen on boats. It highlighted a small suburb on the first floor. "-her presence on public cameras vanishes here. There are police reports confirming the death of a woman matching her likeness at the same time."You nod slowly. "And so what happened to her things?""In accordance with local law, they attempted to locate her next of kin, but were unable to find them. Her personal effects were thus auctioned off and the proceeds given to the state.""So it was sold at auction?""No, none of her possessions matched it's description or appearance. Likely, she lost or abandoned it somewhere along this route.""And that's...?""Open forest and road, or the abandoned factory where they found her body"That last one sounded promising. "Abandoned factory?""The Little Miirian General Manufacturing Plant, abandoned 1150 after bankruptcy during the war.""Understood." The car turned, getting onto the riseway down to the first floor.You pull out your phone, checking the time. Eight on the dot. Okay, so you had roughly two hours before you had to be home. Wish you had more time, but it wasn't the weekend, yet. Thankfully it wasn't that far of a drive out, just ten minutes or so.
>>3836331A sign passes by the window as ST accelerates on the highway, designating a turn to head down to Snake River. That's where Y'avel is. Whole place was literally walled in by these giant concrete walls that rimmed the ash bog, even cut into part of the ocean to make sure no 'contaminants' make their way out. You remember learning about that during your field trip, in case there were any alien germs on the ship, but with the knowledge that some Valkan machines could think for themselves, it made a lot more sense.How to get in, though? Could you smuggle yourself in, pack yourself in a crate and so on? No, no, that'd basically be suicide. They probably had cameras and stuff everywhere, too. Maybe you could climb over the wall?"Is something troubling you?""What? Oh, no, just thinking about how we'd get to the ship...""Do you believe there is no way in?""Not unless you can fly." You sigh."Of course I can fly.""...wait, really?""Yes. Valkans primarily lived in space. All of their vehicles are capable of sustained flight. The Tagaran military even had a term for warskins that referenced the capability- 'super fighters'.""Why do you turn into a car, then? Why walk on two legs when you're not?""Hover modules and burn drives are inefficient in comparison to walking. It is excessive and conspicuous when performance is not an issue." It paused for a second. "Detailed analysis also reveals that aircraft are often conspicuous in ground zones."You lean back in your chair, unable to keep the grin off your face. This thing could fly, that was useful.The concrete blocks of the industrial sector blur by your window. A lot of these were familiar haunts to you, stuff that you used to live by and pass everyday, although you hadn't been into any of them. ST turns into a particularly shabby looking one, simply accelerating through the closed chain link fence that shuts it. You wince slightly from the metallic clang as it swings open and ST quickly accelerates behind the corner, hopefully out of view.Getting out of the car, you look up at the looming concrete building. "What did they use to make here?""Checking... it was an automotive plant that filed for bankruptcy during the last days of Tagara's war with us. It was abandoned by it's owners shortly after. They made spacecraft armor during the last days of the war.""Right..." The building's sides were primarily large, flat sheets of concrete, studded with occasional windows or rolling shutter doors. Walking up to one, you experimentally tug on the handle, trying to lift it up, but it won't budge. You look up and around for another entrance, noticing a metal door set into a corner, but... locked. One of the windows looked like it might be open- that, or shattered, but it was an entry point if you could somehow find a way up there...>Have ST just barrel the door down.>ST can lift you up to the window with his cable, easy.>How difficult can lockpicking be?>[Write-In]
>>3836332>>Have ST just barrel the door down.
>>3836332>ST can lift you up to the window with his cable, easy.Probably best not to make TOO much noise, in case it's audible from the other nearby industrial lots.Also, if there are hobos, wrecking their doors would be very unmannerly.
>>3836332>How difficult can lockpicking be?Probably really easy with the scarab
>>3836332>ST can lift you up to the window with his cable, easy.
>>3836332>How difficult can lockpicking be?
>>3836332>How difficult can lockpicking be?In my tradition of nicknaming things, I shall call the scarabot Scuttles from here on out.
>>3836652Scuttles is a fantastic name and I am 100% down with it.
>How difficult can lockpicking be?Writing.
Trying the door handle and getting nothing, you kneel down and peer at the lock, thinking for a second. You turn to ST. "Can you pick this lock?""Physical security breaching is not one of my features.""So that's a no, then." You turn back to the lock and contemplate it for a moment. You've heard that it's possible to pick locks with a paperclip, and you have a few in your bag... fumbling with them, you realise that you in fact have no idea how to pick locks. It was about pushing the pins into the correct spot, right? Bending one out into a long wire, you poke it into the lock and start clumsily feeling around. At certain points, you could swear that it went a little further in than usual. Was that a click?"Would you like some help with that?" A voice from directly above you suddenly says."Gah!" You shriek before spinning around."I did not mean to alarm you." Two objects were floating down to you. One was smaller, shaped like a dark lbue pyramid with smoothed corners- almost like a kernel. A blue optic poked out from the lower half, where a small series of what looked like radio antennas poked out. A small white light next to the optic flashed as it 'spoke'."Oh, uh, hi." You get to your feet and look up at them. "Are you...?""These are the drones I spoke of." ST commented."What are your names, then- er, serial numbers?""I am OH4875." The first one commented. "I am a type-18 autonomous scrab unit."The one next to it spoke up. "And I am EZ0021." It dipped it's front down, almost like a nod. Unlike the other, it was painted a fairly bright, dusty yellow, with prominent white accents across it's square-shaped body. The black machinery in it's core was visible through the sections of it's case, with a small red optic constantly flicking back and forth. The atennas that projected from it's body fanned out around the eye and constantly twitched, giving the impression of feelers. "My previous owner referred to me as 'Easy'.""Easy? Okay..." You trail off, unsure of how to continue. "Oh, my name is Tiiris... Tiiris Elson...""Miss Elson, then." Easy bowed again. "I look forward to serving you." It's eye moved, glancing at the door behind you. "Are you attempting to access this facility?""What? Oh, uh, yeah..." You move to the side slightly, backing up to give them a better look.OH4875 floated in closer to the door, several arms unfolding from it's body. Huh, just like your little repair drone. A flash of light suddenly arced from one of them to the door, and it backed up. "Lock removed.""Removed?" You reach over and twist the knob, surprised to see it twist easily."It will be easier to simply replace the lock when we leave."
>>3838629Taking a few cautious steps into the building, you glance around. With it being the first floor and past dark, there was very little in the way of illumination in here. Pulling out your phone, you fumble slightly with the flashlight before two blink on behind you. The two drones fan out, sweeping wide beams of light across the room. "Thanks...""Are you armed, Miss Elson?" Easy asks."Uh, no?""Noted. We will have to get you a weapon, then.""It's just an abandoned factory...""Merely a precaution." It glided forward, sweeping it's beam around the room. A lot of the machinery was surprisingly intact, although everything valuable looked like it had been gutted. There were metal rails in the floor that car wheels would have been in during assembly, one upon a time. Metal blocks remained where assembly arms had once been mounted around the track as it bent on itself several times. Shining your flashlight around, you see a metal staircase ascending up the far side of the floor to what looked like an office above. Meanwhile, just next to where you came in was a concrete stairwell leading down into the basement level...>Start in the office upstairs, it's where you would hide.>Check the main floor first.>Go downstairs, that's where power and stuff would be, right?
>>3838630>Check the main floor first.
>>3838630>Check the main floor first.Might as well
>>3838630->Check the main floor first.Better secure the main area for recovering any wounded.
>>3838630>Check the main floor first.>>3838774Any... wounded? The factory's been abandoned for decades.>"She crashed approximately forty miles north of Miir twenty years ago.">"Open forest and road, or the abandoned factory where they found her body"
>Check the main floor first.Writing.
If the doors weren't all locked shut when you arrived, you would have guessed that this place was a local haunt. Even without all the machinery, there were discarded bars and walkways and things to climb on all over as you scope out the main floor. Easy clung close to you, constantly hovering over your shoulder as you poked among the debris and broken glass that had fallen from the ceiling.OH4875 floats away from the two of you and up the staircase while you look in the nooks and crannies. It floats back a few minutes later. "No signs of a machine seed in the office space, ma'am.""That's alright." You try to smile reassuringly at the floating robot. "Why don't we try-" You trail off as a wave of dizziness suddenly comes over you. "Whew..." You sharply inhale and grab onto a nearby pole for support."Miss?" Valkan machines seemed to have these odd, sexless voices. They didn't sound like machines- in fact, you could barely tell they were synthesized, but they didn't sound very human, either. Each one spoke with an almost 'clicky' quality that made their words flow together. The lack of emotion to betray helped salve the embarrassment as small mechanical arms grip onto your body to hold you up."I'm fine, just..." The warehouse was rapidly distorting and fading around you, the signatures of the two drones next to you - and ST beyond the wall - are the only things you can see clearly. That is, except for...A woman was slumped against the wall on the far side of the room, clutching her side. Mustering a bit of her strength, she pushed a few steps forward, bracing against the wall with her hand before collapsing again. With a clang, something fell out of her suit and rolled away. The woman, seemingly not noticing, slowly moved forward some more before collapsing to the ground and ceasing to move.Her body fades along with your nausea, and you find yourself slumped against Easy, your glasses slipping down your nose. "Ugh, sorry...""Are you ill, miss?" Easy hovers close to your arm, ready to take your weight again."No, I just... had a weird... thing." You shake your head and push back to your feet. "I'm okay. Really.""As you say, miss.""Well, it's just..." You shake your head, trying to gather your thoughts as you duck under a few low hanging beams. Making your way to the corner you saw earlier, you kneel down and shine your flashlight on the corner. Sure enough, there was a long-faded stain there. It was dark in color, dark enough that you weren't sure if it was actually red or not. If this was where she slumped, then...Moving backwards, you shine your flashlight behind you, looking at what might have been behind her. Support column, old frame, floor drain, groves for car wheels... floor drain. You walk over to it. An old grate-style drain, instead of the fancier sidewalk vents that were popular nowadays. Shining your flashlight down into the gaps in the grate, you see something metallic shining at the bottom.
>>3840165Easy hovers behind your shoulder. "I see you've found it." It says, then makes a brief stuttering sound.OH4875 quickly glides over to where you're standing. Dipping down, it somehow grips the entire grate without touching it and heaves it out of the way without touching it, exposing the small metal cylinder at the bottom.Reaching in carefully, you manage to close your fingers around the end of it and delicately lift it out. It was about the size and shape of a road flare, but made out of metal. Stamped in the side was a bunch of information that- like the writing on ST's chassis, was written in some odd sequence of letters that you didn't understand. "I... I think we found it.""That is indeed a machine seed. Make O50." OH4875 comments."May I?" Easy bobs at the machine seed. You hold it out, and the whole thing is suddenly tugged out of your hand by an invisible force, Easy's body opening up for a brief second to let it in and then closing around the rod. "I'll hold it for safekeeping, okay?""Okay..." The idea of being separated from one of your artifacts makes you a bit anxious, but the logical part of your mind says that you couldn't keep them all around forever anyway.ST's doors pop open when you get back outside, letting you slide into the driver's seat and- funnily enough, Easy and OH4875 to slide into the passenger and rear seats, respectively. That was... shockingly easy. Almost too easy."That feels like something should have gone wrong." You say."It was an abandoned factory, most will be in private ownership." Easy replies. "Those will be much harder.""...right. Theft. Forgot about that." You muse. Holding up your phone, you glance at the time. "Alright, it's late, I need to get home.""I'll need to introduce myself to your father." Easy commented."Yeah, su-" You shake your head. "Wait, what?""If I am to be your adjutant, I should have a working relationship with the important people in your life." Easy responded."My Dad doesn't know about any of this stuff!" You catch yourself and lower your voice. "I don't know if you noticed, but the rest of the world kind of hates us.""Shall I stick to stealth when inside your home, then?"Easy should...>Not be in your home anyway. Being seen is just too great a risk.>Stick to stealth like he's suggesting, nobody can see him.>WELP. Dad had to find out eventually...>[Write-In]
>>3840171>Stick to stealth like he's suggesting, nobody can see him.
>>3840171>Write-InWe should tell our dad ourselves what we've been finding out, then introduce him to Easy after... but start out like >>3840185
>A woman was slumped against the wall on the far side of the room, clutching her side. Mustering a bit of her strength, she pushed a few steps forward, bracing against the wall with her hand before collapsing again. With a clang, something fell out of her suit and rolled away. The woman, seemingly not noticing, slowly moved forward some more before collapsing to the ground and ceasing to move.>Her body fades along with your nausea, and you find yourself slumped against Easy, your glasses slipping down your nose. "Ugh, sorry..."BY GOD, the psychic Russian was right!I shall never again question the insight of GLORIOUS MOTHER RUSSIA.>>3840171>WELP. Dad had to find out eventually...Uh. Um. AGH. Okay yeah, with four intelligent warmachines around maybe it's time to tell him.Easing into it is a good plan. >>3840207 Maybe don't drop the whole "I have artillery" tidbit right off the bat.
>>3840207Supporting. Ask him if mum ever acted weird.
>Tell them to hide at first, then ease into a conversation about Mom and Valkans.>Then tell him.Wrrrriting.
"I... just..." You close your mouth, thinking quickly. There was no way you could tell Dad about any of this, no way at all! If he found out, he would... freak out like he had when you'd been attacked by terrorists. And he'd have no idea what was going on. You feel your chest twist up at the idea of lying to him about this, especially considering what you were going to do. Eventually, you manage. "Just... stay out of sight until I get a chance to explain."Easy bowed it's head. "As you command, miss."ST pulls up outside of your apartment and opens the door. You get out, putting a hand on the roof of the car as you consider what to do. How to say it- god, there's no way you can explain this! You shake your head. Focus, Tiiris.Quickly trotting up the steps, you glance behind yourself to see where Easy is. Huh, where'd it go? Looking around, you spot two signatures hovering just above your rooftop. Smart enough place to hide, you suppose. Unlocking the door, you peek through the gap for a second before stepping all the way inside. "I'm home!""Hey, honey." You hear your Dad's voice come from the kitchen. Kicking off your shoes and tossing your bag into your room, you meander your way back to the kitchen. Dad was bent over his schoolwork in the kitchen, looking up from the glowing terminal as you step in. "How was work?""It was fine." You shrug, stepping behind him to get a glass of water. Phrasings and set-ups to what you had to explain were running through your head, an odd sort of weight settling in your chest.Something in the silence seemed to pique Dad's attention. You hear the slight creak of wood as he turns around in his chair. "Is everything okay?"You sigh and move to the other side of the table, sitting across from him with a bit of a glum expression."Tiiris?" Dad's expression softened, and he leaned forward in the chair, pulling off his glasses as he did so.Turning things over in your head, you think of all the possible ways to phrase your question. Maybe start at the beginning? No, start in the middle, with the repair bots? Actually, no, let's just be direct. "Dad, was Mom an alien?"Dad tilted his head in confusion. "Well, I did think she was pretty out of this world...""What? I..." You groan. "Dad, that's not what I meant! Was Mom a- uh..." You stammer. "...was Mom a Valkan?"Dad seems surprised at first, then his expression grows more somber. "...I don't know.""You don't?"He shakes his head. "I was too worried about what the answer would be, I guess. There were signs, but..." He looks at you. "...what brought on this question?"You nod. "I, um..." Out of the corner of your eye, you notice a white blob move into the room. Dad doesn't even look at it, though. "I'm Valkan, Dad."He nods, slowly. "And... how do you know that?" He sounds doubtful."...you know the terrorist attack?"Dad nods, his expression growing more sad.
>>3841641"...Me and Elan - fuck, I've gotten so wrapped up in this I haven't even been talking to him - we would have died in that attack... but a Valkan..." Maybe it's too early to just lay out that necromancy might be real. "...thing saved us. And... well, that clued me in that something was weird, so I... I started looking. A lot. And, well, I found things." Some of them found you, really. "A lot of things.""Things?" Dad straightens up. "Like what?""A little robot that fixes things, a weird pendant, but, um..." You think about how to segue into the right bit."But?""...did you know there are Valkan robots everywhere?""Wait, what?" Dad raises his voice briefly, then lowers it. "Are you serious?"You nod. "All over. I can see them... for some weird reason. I don't know why. They don't even do anything, just... sit and wait for a Valkan to come across them.""And you know this how?""One told me." You shrug."'Told' you?" Dad looked dubious again. "What, you mean this thing talked to you? Are you sure someone wasn't pulling a prank on you?"At this point, the thought seemed almost ridiculous, even though everything you'd seen would make you think you were either crazy or being pranked. You shake your head. "No, it's real..." This was probably as good of a moment as you were going to get. Glancing over your shoulder at the blob, you ask. "Easy, is that you?"The drone suddenly materialized out of thin air, seemingly blinking into existence as it's outer paneling lost the approximate color and patterns of the room behind it. "Miss."Dad's chair suddenly clattered back as he quickly stood up. "What the-""Hello, sir." Easy rose up slightly to remain at eye level with him. "I am Miss Elson's adjutant, EZ-""How can- wh-" Dad held up a finger and looked at you. "That thing can talk.""Of course I can talk." Easy sounded almost offended, there. Almost."I... there's no such thing as a self-aware machine!" Dad protested. "We've been trying for years and it doesn't work.""It took Valka one thousand years to create artificial intelligence." Easy replied simply."You believe me now?" You ask."I..." Dad raises a finger, then lowers it. "Well...""Tiiris does bear the correct genetic and physical markers, although she was not born aboard the lifeship." Easy focuses on Dad, somewhat. "Can I trust you to keep my master's secret?""What?" Dad frowns."I - am the others - share concerns about the Tagaran government discovering living Valkans or their descendants?"You were looking at Easy, now. "Like... scary government agents and secret facilities and stuff?""They are very real, from our studies of Tagaran communications." Easy turned back to Dad. "I would like to know if you will keep your daughter's status secret." It paused. "In return, I can complete domestic tasks- laundry, cleaning, food preparation, time keeping-"
>>3841644"Of course I'm not going to run to the police." Dad interrupted it. "You don't need to try and bribe me with chores. I..." Dad covered his mouth. "I need a moment to process this, give me a minute." Then he quickly left the room.Your head follows him out, eyes wide. "Dad? Where are you..."A second later, you heard the front door close."...I think that went rather well.">Follow after Dad. He's not calling the cops or anything?>Give Dad his space. ST is probably watching out for him anyway.>>[Sub-Option] Take a shower in the meanwhile.>>[Sub-Option] Do something else. (Write-In)>[Write-In]
>>3841646>>Give Dad his space. ST is probably watching out for him anyway.>>>[Sub-Option] Take a shower in the meanwhile.
>>3841646>Give Dad his space. ST is probably watching out for him anyway.>>[Sub-Option] Take a shower in the meanwhile.Should hookup with a non criminal Valkan at some point.
>>3841646>>Give Dad his space. ST is probably watching out for him anyway.>>>[Sub-Option] Take a shower in the meanwhile.Shouldn't have dated that weird space lady dadCan we ask ST to monitor dad's communications too? We don't need to know anything private, just if he's in contact with government agents inadvertently or not
>>3841646>Give Dad his space. ST is probably watching out for him anyway.>>3841783It would be pretty rude to spy on him secretly, even just using metadata...But we could outright ask him later if he wants a security background check. The drones we've met so far all seem really good at that sort of thing.They're probably masters at blocking spam.
>Give Dad his space. ST is probably watching out for him anyway.>>[Sub-Option] Take a shower in the meanwhile.Writing.
Well. Maybe you need to give Dad a bit of space. Pushing your chair back from the kitchen table, you stand up in a it of a daze. You weren't expecting him to just walk off, but you suppose even Dad might need a bit of personal space every now and again. Looking at Easy, you shrug and ask. "...can you have ST make sure nothing happens to him? It's late.""Of course, miss." Easy glides after you as you get up.You glance at the clock. It's pretty late, but... eh, you should probably take a shower. Opening the door to the bathroom, you turn to close it, but end up staring at Easy as it floats in after you. "Uh... hi?""Do you require any assistance, miss?""I can shower myself...""That may be so, but you've never had a personal adjutant before.""Remind me what those do?""Forgive me- an adjutant drone is a personal assistant. Valkans are assigned one from the moment of their birth. We perform domestic tasks- cleaning, time management, small target elimination and resourcing. Hygiene also falls under these functions, should you lack armor as you do now.""It's not like we don't have soap or anything...""Tagaran hair products are substandard." Easy responded. "Would you allow me to show you?""Um, sure?" You fidget slightly as Easy stares you down, before eventually removing your clothes and stepping into the shower, with Easy following you shortly after."Wash yourself as you normally would, don't mind me."Moving a bit awkwardly at first, you try to ignore the Valkan drone hovering just above your head. Getting your hair wet, you move to grab the shampoo bottle, only to have Easy start doing... something to your hair. It felt almost like a fine-toothed comb was running through it, although it passed through with little effort, instead of the hard drag it would normally take."Do you prefer your hair in curls?""I like it straight?" You say, deciding to just... skip washing your hair yourself, you guess. This is going to take a while...---Two-Tree City Park,Same time.Sigmund Elson had lost track of where his legs were taking him. Looking around, he recognized the familiar sight of the local park. A good bit of solitude, nice. Making his way into the center of the park, in a small, secluded area covered by the trees, he finally let out what he'd been keeping bottled in."OH, WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE." He shouted skyward while pacing back and forth. "OH. FFFFUCK." Taking deep breaths, he got his emotions under control. Think of happy thoughts, Sigmund. Your daughter is safe- probably safer than anyone else on the planet. It'll be okay...A car horn honking got his attention. Looking up, he saw a green station wagon pull up to the curb of the park and open it's side door.Experimentally stepping closer to it, he asked. "And you are?"---"I can do most of this myself, you know..." You grumble as Easy goes over your body.
>>3843054"You will. When you have your armor." Easy finishes fluffing your hair. "As it stands, you can't keep up with your body hair maintenance.""Razors are expensive!" You protest."It's my job to be your razor." Easy said. "Why Tagarans haven't edited out such genes...""...do Valkans not have body hair?""They selectively replace the follicles with an augment." Easy paused. "I suppose they do have them, then." The force pulling on your hair let go, and Easy pulled back.Running your hands through it experimentally, you're pleasantly surprised by how soft and orderly it seems to be, compared to the usual. "Thanks...""Miss." It answers simply.You hear the door open, and shrug on your pajamas before poking your head out. Dad was in the hallway, taking off his shoes and looking thoughtful. He looks up and sees you. "Dad?"He sighs and gestures your back out to the living room with a finger. Sitting down on the couch, he turns to you. "Okay, Tiiris. I'm a bit overwhelmed right now, so my thoughts may not entirely be in order here. But." He folds his hands together. "You say you're Valkan-" He glances at Easy. "...you are Valkan. And so was Brooklyn. I've... I've processed that. But... what are you planning to do with that information? Why did you tell me, what role did you have in mind?">I just don't like lying to you.>I'm not going to stop pursuing this. I wanted to let you know what I'd be doing.>The stuff out there is dangerous, and I'm one of the few people that can talk Valkan things down. I want your help when it comes to... the Valkan stuff.>[Write-In]
>>3843055>>I just don't like lying to you.>>I'm not going to stop pursuing this. I wanted to let you know what I'd be doing.
>>3843055>I'm not going to stop pursuing this. I wanted to let you know what I'd be doing.I'd like to say we don't like to lie to him, buuut we sort of do stretch the truth quite a lot about things like Valkans, so saying that feels a bit like... lying. Technically. From a certain point of view.Also, whoa there Easy! Boundaries!!! But good job with the hair?!
>>3843055>I just don't like lying to you.>I'm not going to stop pursuing this. I wanted to let you know what I'd be doing.
>>3843055I really don't know what to do dad. I was hoping for some fatherly advice.
>I just don't like lying to you.>I'm not going to stop pursuing this. I wanted to let you know what I'd be doing.Writing.
"I... I don't know." You shoulders deflate, and you sit down on the couch. "I don't want to- I can't stop thinking about this. I'm going to pursue this, but lying to you..." You sigh. "Doing the rest of what I need to do... I'm not sure how to do it, Dad. Not sure of any of this...""Kiddo..." Dad sits down, reaching over to ruffle your shiny, weirdly soft hair. "...I'm your father, what would make me the happiest is for you to forget all this, stay home and keep your head down."You look at him with a betrayed expression."...but I know that won't dissuade you..." He sighed. "If you're a tenth as stubborn as your mother... and half as stubborn as anyone your age... nothing is going to stop you.""Was Mom stubborn?"Dad smiles. "She had this way of glaring. Made you think she was about to burst into flames.""Oh..." You lean against Dad. "What should I do, Dad? How am I supposed to solve anything?"Dad was silent for a little bit. "Well... what are you trying to solve?""I..." You trail off a little bit. "The world is messed up, there's all this dangerous Valkan stuff out there, death cultists and- and stuff. If I can fix it... I could collect it all, make sure nobody gets hurt... help people?""That's... a very complex problem." Dad raises his bushy eyebrows at you. "Part of it seems to be that you don't really know what the problem is."You frown. "How so?""You want to save the world? Fix everything? Get rid of death cultists?" He wavers slightly. "...now, I'll admit the worst problem I've ever had to deal with was a gas fire, but I know it's better to break problems down into small chunks."Perking up slightly you ask. "Small chunks?""Yeah." Dad waves his hand vaguely. "Ignore the big, romantic concepts and focus on a single task. Make that your one goal for the future. Don't try to do everything all at once, you'll get overwhelmed.""Is that permission to do something really stupid?" You ask with a bit of a smile."Well- no, but I know I can't stop you." He glances a bit nervously over his shoulder, seemingly looking for something. "Your... robot friends are a bit above me. You'll be safer with them than with me, anyway." He pauses and grins. "Just like your mother, actually. She always was the scarier of the two of us."You laugh. "You look way scarier than Mom, though.""I look scary. Mom was actually way scarier than me. I just stood in the background and looked stern."Smiling, you settle down a little bit. A short-term, definite goal, huh...>It may drag me away from home for a few days, but I want to find a real, breathing Valkan to learn from.>I may need to break into some people's houses to get some Valkan artifacts...>>[Sub-Option] Just the dangerous ones, though!>Honestly... you want to see a spaceship. Let's break into Y'avel.>[Write-In]
>>3844703>It may drag me away from home for a few days, but I want to find a real, breathing Valkan to learn from.
>>3844703>>It may drag me away from home for a few days, but I want to find a real, breathing Valkan to learn from.
>>3844720I feel like I remember ST saying this was a bad idea...>>3844703>I may need to break into some people's houses to get some Valkan artifacts...
>>3844747Wasn't that about learning "magic." Plans change, don't have to stick with this goal 100%
>>3844703>Honestly... you want to see a spaceship. Let's break into Y'avel.Let's get those enhancements
>>3844703>Honestly... you want to see a spaceship. Let's break into Y'avel.Hopefully the "Lifeship" has a solution to the headaches and optical migraines. They'd fortify the hell out of it if they knew there were Valkan descendants still around. The idea that security is lax enough for ST to say it's even remotely possible to get into suggests that it's never been done before.If we're going to make history, best get started sooner than later.
>>3844703>I may need to break into some people's houses to get some Valkan artifacts...While I still love the idea of sneaking into Y'avel, it is very high risk and feels like it would be the end of this chapter of the story - being so gung-ho is a big and unnecessary gamble. Some of the artefacts we find might even help us get inside.>>[Sub-Option] Just the dangerous ones, though!Not out of any particular morality concerns, but criminals are highly unlikely to call up Plod to report the theft of their highly illegal gadget.
aaaand now we have a three way tie
>>3845388HELP US RNGESUS! SAVE US!!! (from ourselves)
>>3844703>It may drag me away from home for a few days, but I want to find a real, breathing Valkan to learn fromIb4 samefag. No, just lurker.
>It may drag me away from home for a few days, but I want to find a real, breathing Valkan to learn from.Writing.
>>3845721I'm sorry, but the update is going to be pretty severely delayed. We'll see if I can get it up in a few hours, still.
>>3846565All fine. Page nine btw.
You think about it. Dad raised a good point, you've been floundering and bouncing between different ideas lately, and that's not helpful. If you want to get something done, you need to set a goal. A short-term one, hopefully, which would be..."I need a mentor." You murmur. "Someone who knows more than the robots. About Valkan stuff, I mean." You huddle against Dad slightly. "I wish Mom were here...""Me too, Tiiris." Dad pats your shoulder reassuringly. "Me too..." He shifts. "Well, if that's what you want to do... that's what you should do. Just... don't leave me in the dark again, please? I don't like sitting here wondering if my daughter is doing drugs to forget the bombing she was in or something..."You shift a bit uncomfortably at that reminder. He's probably been suffering in silence this whole week, wondering what the hell you were doing. "I will." Looking for something - anything - to lighten the mood. "You could've put up more of a fight. You barely sound scared.""Oh, I'm fucking terrified." Dad laughs. "But I have a funny feeling you're a bit beyond me grounding you, now."You start slightly. Dad usually makes a point of controlling his language around you. "O-oh..."Eventually, the two of you go your separate ways, Dad disappearing into his bedroom while you drag yourself to bed. When you open the door to your room, you blink in surprise for a moment at your freshly made bed. The covers were precisely turned back, and your trash can and laundry basket were empty. Easy hovered in the corner, carefully picking over your carpet for something."Hey?" You ask in confusion."Hello, miss." Easy floated over. "I have prepared your bed for the night. Your clothes will be prepared by the time you wake up.""Thanks..." You reply, then look pointedly at the corner. "What's so interesting about my carpet?""I was simply siphoning detritus from the fibers." Easy replied. "As domestic scarabs are not available, such tasks fall to me.""You were vacuuming?""In practice, yes." Easy nodded. "Do you require any sleep aids?""I'm sorry?""Do you take anything to help you sleep?" It clarified."Oh, ah, no." You glance at Easy's intense look of... well, the robot didn't exactly have a look, but you felt it was expectant, then slide into bed."Sleep well, miss." Easy then turned and coasted out of the room, the door somehow drawing shut behind it.You lay back in bed, silently thinking to yourself and slowly starting to realize the kind of can of worms you've opened up for yourself. Two days ago you had a little robot and thought that was cool, now you seem to have a robot butler, a killer car and a robot... something? Whatever OH4875 was. Sleeping after the kind of day you've had seems impossible, but before you've even realized it, your eyes have shut and you've drifted off to sleep.
>>3847075---Commercial District, Miir, 2nd Floor23rd of 4th, 1173. 10:50PM.AP0396 passing periapsis, continuing holding pattern and entering upstroke.KT9920 ceasing stealth operations, increasing drives to full.LQ0002 pausing chaff dispersion, requesting vector for intercept with LQ0001.MN2240 has tracked tar-"Shut up!"A rack of rectangular cases went clattering, spilling over the counter and spilling onto the floor. A few of them struck Kara's feet, making her bounce away from the counter and swear from the pain. She knelled down behind the counter, scooping up the scattered reels and trying to organize them while holding onto the anger. A sob broke out a second later as she mumbled to herself incoherently.-confirm visual and-Why the hell wouldn't the voices stop? Her doctor said this stuff was way stronger than the anti-psychotic she was on before. So why wouldn't they stop making so much noise? The incessant buzzing, the stuttering that made her head ache and feel like it was about to split.AP40-The. Non. Stop. Talking.Verify manifest and sound off-Can't sleep, can't think, can't focus. She was going insane. She was insane. By whatever cursed star she'd been born under, some god saw fit to inflict her with such a horrible illness. Her arm jittered involuntarily, and she held her arm while waiting out the stutters. Just a minor side effect, it's probably nothing permanent, Kara...-dict incoming probe-Just relax... it'll all be better soon...-0021 requesting public manifest----You wake up to a surreal scene. Hanging on your door is your uniform, still warm from the iron (how Easy actually could use an iron, you're not sure you want to know) while your closet is close to bursting with clean clothes. Pulling it on, you poke your head out into the hallway, then the kitchen, where Dad is sitting and reading the paper while absentmindedly spearing a sausage on a fork."Did you feel fancy today for some reason?" You ask as you sit down.Dad looks up from his paper, then looks to his right.You glance to the left and blink as Easy glides over, a plate somehow locked in place in front it. Lowering it down to the table, you glance and blink at the eggs, sausage and toast in front of you. "Oh. Thank you.""My pleasure, miss." Easy replies, then speeds off over your shoulder, disappearing before you have time to turn around.Slowly turning back to your breakfast, you take a bite of the eggs and immediately wonder at the hint of spices and butter in them. Usually, you and Dad just scrambled the damn things and called it good, but this was a far cry from what you normally seared to the pan. The sausages were perfectly heated and decadent, and the toast was... okay, yeah, that was still just toast.
>>3847081Setting your fork down, you slowly look around the kitchen, then murmur to Dad. "Was it this clean in here last night?""You know how my bedroom door creaks?" Dad asked."Yeah?""Not a sound this morning.""...did he paint?" Your eyebrows go up as your eyes pan over the walls."I did say they were beyond us." Dad sips his coffee loudly, then sets the mug down. "...have a good day at school!" He says with sudden cheer as he stands up and wanders back into the hallway."Bye..." You take a minute and wipe your face before standing up. Was your bag always next to the door? You grab it by the strap and hoist it over your shoulder, fixing it gently. Then you grab the door and swing it open- "Easy you've gotta learn to stop the quiet stalking thing.""You can detect my presence." Easy floated down. "Regardless, you spend most of your time at an education facility, yes?""School, yeah." You turn to face him- huh, when did you start thinking of it as a 'he'? "They kinda have a policy against drones. Valkan ones especially.""I will be silent." Easy replied smoothly. "Of course, should you wish for me to mind the premises...">Sigh, he can come, but he'd better remain out of sight.>He can do whatever he wants, but he can't hang around the school.>Really, he needs to stay home. Besides, it's not like he doesn't have anything to do.>[Write-In]
>>3847083>Sigh, he can come, but he'd better remain out of sight.If he insists on coming, stay up on the roof where there's no chance of someone walking into an invisible wall.
>>3847083>Sigh, he can come, but he'd better remain out of sight.If this choice will do what I think it will do...
>>3847083>Sigh, he can come, but he'd better remain out of sight.And now I can't see Easy as anything but a flamboyant gay hair-stylist version of Alfred.Poor Kara. Interesting that she can hear Valkan communications. I wonder if it's relevant that none of the ones she's hearing are ours.
>>3847083>Sigh, he can come, but he'd better remain out of sight.
>Sigh, he can come, but he'd better remain out of sight.Writing.
>>3847081>-0021 requesting public manifest-AH! I was WRONG!EZ0021 is ours! OoooOOOoooh this could cause drama.
"I can't believe I let you do this." Your murmur to yourself, leaning against a support pole in the elevator. A message pops up on your phone.>EZ: Obviously, I will not stay on your person at all times.>EZ: Feel free to call on me, though."For what? Errands?">EZ: Errands, suppressing fire, quick escapes.You make your way through the morning traffic, weaving in and out of crowds while silently dreading a sudden shout or exclamation, followed by machine gun fir- okay, okay, get a hold of yourself, Tiiris. Stepping into the school, you settle down into home room and glance to your left. Huh, Kara's desk was empty, today.Indeed, when the teacher calls roll, she pauses on Kara's name, glancing up to her desk in surprise before marking it and moving on. Must mean it wasn't an expected absence, then. Wonder if she's sick...Despite your misgivings, Easy doesn't make any trouble for you during the day. After a point, you realize that his signature has actually disappeared from directly behind you, instead lazily moving around the school itself. Although before you can contemplate what he might be doing, you're snapped out of it by someone pointedly asking why you're staring at the ceiling.At lunch, you end up sitting with Taylor outside of the music room, chatting about thankfully banal things."You look nice today, by the way." She idly comments, reaching for another chip."I do?" You ask in surprise."Yeah." She fishes around in the bag. "What's the occasion? I thought you didn't like makeup.""...I'm not wearing makeup? I-" You catch yourself before you can spit out 'I just let Easy clean my face'. "I-I did get some acne cream recently?""That's good." She absently murmurs, picking at a string on her violin. "Hey, you free this weekend? The last concert's this Friday, so I'll finally have free time again after it.""Oh, um...">You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...>Rope Taylor into doing Valkan hunting things with you.>Sorry, not free, I have things to do.>[Write-In]
>>3848697>You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...We need to rope Kara and the boy with glass legs whose name I forget instead
>>3848697>You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...Yes, let us plan for a day off from Valkan stuff in which Valkan stuff will most assuredly not find us anyway.Also friendships, like Valkan War Drones, are at their best when well maintained!
>>3848697>You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...>>3848703Elan? Glass bones.
>>3848697>You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...
>>3848697>You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...WCGW? Surely nothing will interrupt it.....
>You suppose you could take one day off of Valkan stuff...Writing.
"Sure, I'm free." You shrug. "Did you have anything in mind?""Bah- anything." Taylor fumbles with a bag of sliced fruit. "A movie or something? Maybe go to the mall?"Your mind immediately flashes back to the carnage and smoke of the weekend. "I'm not sure it's open yet.""What?" Taylor's face fell. "Oh. Shit, right, I forgot about that. Okay, scratch that... maybe the arcade?" She shrugs. "We'll see what it looks like once the weekend gets here."The two of you finish up lunch in relative silence, aside from the sound of rain slamming against the windows. Taylor was always one of the more quiet people you knew. She didn't make much conversation, but enjoyed your company nonetheless.When the bell rings, you step out and immediately have to hold your hand up against the light of the sun. The heavy raining had caused most of the clouds to dissipate, opening up gaps in the normal overcast dome for rays to shine through to the ground. Your phone buzzes almost as soon as you step outside of the normal school grounds. Reaching into your pocket, you pull it out and see:>ST: Do you require a pickup?>T: I have work today, ST.>ST: Do you require a pickup?>T: ...yeah, sure.ST pulls up to the curb a second later, prompting you to slide into the passenger seat. "Thanks, ST.""Of course. One moment." Your window rolls down on it's own."What's that for- oh!" Leaning back into the seat, you make some room for Easy - or rather, Easy's signature - to float by your head and into the backseat. "Right, sorry, forgot you were there.""Normally I would simply stow aboard the warskin, but that is not possible under these conditions." Easy answered as ST smoothly pulled away from the curb. Watching the traffic roll by your window, you consider what you're going to do after work. You made a goal of finding a mentor, but how much can you really do after work, unless they're within the city? Maybe you'd be better off spending some time by yourself, or visiting a friend- actually, wait, dammit. Elan. You haven't spoken to him since Sunday, he's probably still in the hospital...>Focus on finding a mentor.>Drop in at Kara's and see if she's okay.>Visit Elan.>Just go home.>[Write-In]
>>3850764>Visit Elan.And verify hospital visiting hours ahead of time. Don't want to show up only to find out they're closed to visitors, like with the junkyard.
>>3850764>Drop in at Kara's and see if she's okay.
>Visit Elan.Writing and then posting to new thread.