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/qst/ - Quests

File: where the seas lay still.png (1.73 MB, 1406x1028)
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You wonder if even divine constructs would go to heaven when they die. That’s what they call those like you anyway: a being of steel and flesh fused together in the image of those who walked on this world before you. Your mind is a haze, almost every last bit of information in your systems scrambled by the radiation. It’s a miracle you can see at all, or even think.

The waters underneath your feet are turbulent, growing more so by the second as the Sanctuary walls continue to crumble and fall into the sea that it floats atop of. The engines that propel it forward leave behind a wake of slick wreckage, plumes of fire and smoke rising from its floating remains. Someone’s calling you, but all you can focus on is the figure in the distance in the dead of night. She did this. She did this to you. She’s the one who vaporized barriers with a single shot.

Who are you again?

From your left, another person, one like you, shouts orders, their voice cut off by an explosion that erupts from somewhere far too close. The rising waves lift you off-balance and you begin to fall. If you fall now, you’ll sink to the bottom of the ocean without stopping, though strangely enough, a small part of you finds it comforting. The peace of death.

To your surprise, a pair of arms catch you in an embrace. A face you recognize, but a name you can’t place. Her moonlight-colored hair and uniform is tinged with familiarity as she glides across the water, and what used to be her armaments, now mangled steel, twists from her back upwards into the sky.

With a quiet, soothing voice that breaks past the roar of battle, she tells you, “Thinking about taking a nap right now? You always pick the worst times.”

Lifting an arm, you try to push her away. Your mouth opens to form words, struggling before managing to say, “Get away. My buoyance module’s gone. Everything’s gone.”

“Now, I can’t break promises now, can I? And you can’t break yours,” she replies. From the wreckage of her armaments, a length of metal unfolds itself before its end is thrust into your chest. You feel her reading you, as if your very self was quantified and written down for observation. “Your recomposition module is still functional. There’s still hope!” There’s cheeriness in her voice, one that fills you with worry.

“Stop!” you reply, trying to get away. Struggle as you might, you don’t have to strength to accomplish anything. “Please, just leave me--“ She acts without listening to you. Gripping your hand, she forces it onto her chest, and with a firm look of determination on her face, she fires a signal from her probe into you. Your palm involuntarily opens, and the biomechanical innards of her body gives way underneath the pressure. You scream, “No!”
Without showing any fear, she whispers, “It’s okay. There’s nothing more I can do anyways.” She’s forcibly making you recompose herself so you can make a new buoyancy module, and you can only watch in horror. Both of you know this is the only way. Seawater isn’t fast enough. In the distance, the looming figure fans her guns out. The tides grow even larger, crashing against each other and almost submerging you, and every time it happens, you’re carried back up. A dark shadow flies into the air, a cylindrical shell that arcs over to you. “The radiation won’t reach you underwater.”

“Leave me!” you cry out, “Don’t do this, please, Vestal!”

She lets go. Your hand detaches from her, black fluid draining from where it once connected to her. The module completes, a switch is flipped, and her probe withdraws. One of your feet touches the water again, and this time, you drop down like a rock.

Her muffled words fail to reach you.

The shell falls, going off before it even hit the water. A blinding light devours her, smothering everything above and beyond. Ripples shoot out, catching you even as you sink and knocking your senses haywire.

Consciousness slips away.
The earth is moving underneath you. No, given the force your wrist, you recognize that you’re being dragged along. Upon opening your eyes, you find yourself slowly pulled out of the waters and onto a beach. A boat sits nearby, old but maintained.

The one who is moving you is having a conversation with another... human? There are no walls here, only land. Two rarities together.

“I heard her mumbling before. She’s still alive, look!” Vestigial knowledge left amongst the noise in your memory informs you that this one is young.

“That looks like nothing but bad news. Toss her back where you found her,” the other spits in a low, gravelly voice. Much older, you presume.

“I can’t just leave her out there. She looks just like the Guardian of the island. That has to mean something.”

“Nothing good can come out of this. Use your head for one fucking moment. If this... thing could survive underwater for this long, then it shouldn’t have any problem with you throwing it right back.”

[] Stay silent; pretend you’re unconscious.
[] Speak up; try to clarify.
[] Break free; you need distance.
[] Write-in.

>This quest will be updated once a day with hopefully sizable posts.
[X] Stay silent; pretend you’re unconscious.
>Break free; you need distance.
>[] Stay silent; pretend you’re unconscious.
>Stay silent; pretend you’re unconscious
>Think to yourself: How rude. Your creators were much nicer.
>Break free; you need distance.
I just realized we don't actually know how long we've been out. Adding
>Listen for the sounds of battle/enemies
to my vote.
My router just got reset so >>3006440
me if you were wondering.
>[] Break free; you need distance.
this looks interesting.
>Break free; you need distance.
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You remain quiet, but you brave a look to see what is happening. There are no traces of any battle to be found here; no sounds of guns firing or shouting can be heard, only a strange serenity. The sun is high in the sky, and someone, with great effort, is dragging you along with both his hands. Luckily, his attention was focused elsewhere, but his nonchalant physical contact with you almost cause you to rip free instantly. Just another difference between you and them, you surmise.

The man pulling you lets go, seemingly exhausted. “Are you going to give me a hand or what? She’s surprisingly heavy,” he complains between heavy breaths.

“No, I’m not helping you lift a sea monster into the town. I’m getting the elder since you’re so eager about all this; maybe he can talk some sense into you.” He storms off while the younger one only watches.

A bead of sweat trails down the remaining human’s forehead, which he wipes off before turning back to drag you along some more, but when he’s spun around, he finds you already taking off. “H-Hey! Where are you going? I’m not going to hurt you, stop running!” You can hear him give chase, but very, very quickly, you outrun him despite most of your sensors in disarray. He only watches in dismay as you leap at a small overhang and pull yourself upwards onto the grass, and you, without peering over your shoulder, run into the forest, disappearing past the tree lines.

You stop at some point, having lost track of time and space. Leaning against the trunk of an old tree, you slide down it until you feel the ground underneath. It’s a good time to pause, if any.

You check yourself over and find yourself okay. You look the part, if nothing else. The black jacket and shorts you wear is unblemished as your skin, but that would be a given since they’re hardly any different than one another. It’s purely cosmetic, and the blueprints were a gift from...


Finding yourself unable to finish that thought, you hold your knees close, arms wrapping around. In the cold comfort of loneliness, thoughts and memories run amok. Only now do they finally get the chance to sink in, and all you can see is Vestal’s reassuring smile before you sunk. You’ll never see that smile again, hear her talk, or stand by her side in battle ever again. Despite your lack of remembrance, you still wish you could cry. Instead, you sit there, staring off into the space while you sear her image into your mind.

It’s all you can do.
It doesn’t take long before you conclude that the island is what used to be a mountain peak before the seas rose.

You, unable to rid the words he told you of the “Guardian”, wander in search of it. Eerily enough, it doesn’t feel that you’re wandering; rather, you’re being guided along. The uneven terrain always funnels you into the lowest points where they form a path of some sorts, overgrown vegetation coating the landscape. It’s untamed and aggressive, yet strangely natural compared to any Sanctuary park.

Higher and higher, you follow the direction the land points you in. The human said the two of you were similar, but you would find it strange for a valkyrie stay on land. When the trees grow sparse and the shrubbery disappear altogether, a river cutting through the mountainside makes itself known, and as if the space beside it was carved, a circular incline leads up a small cliff where something sits at the top.

With each step you take, the thing slowly comes into view. A tree without branches, where it’s limbs are of steel melded together, flowers sprouting in crevices where dirt have accumulated. Its trunk is spiraling and stuck to it is a shape resembling the form of a person, missing any features one would normally have. Approaching it with terrifying curiosity, you realize with every step you take something shudders inside you. Your gyroscope spins as if gravity was violently shaken and your legs staggers with delay.

It breathes.

You choke on your greeting. “H-hello? Can you hear me--”

It opens; something analogous to skin splits apart to show its jagged internals and allowing something to leap forward. In horror, you shield your face with your right hand, but to your shock, it latches on firmly. Panic floods in. Multiple probes jam downwards into you, and you rapidly move to disconnect your arm at the elbow. You were too slow.

An overwhelming wave of static causes you to halt. A foreign entity pushes against the borders of your conscious, making itself known. You drop to your knees and collapse, curled up and clutching your arm. The roaring noise, ever so steadily, comes together to form words.

XXXXXX-class Destroyer, XXXXXX? Strange name.

You hiss, “What did you do? Get off of me!”

Too late, I’ve already made myself home. Better get used to it since I’m not leaving anytime soon. Of course, you could just disassemble yourself and recompose everything with your hull blueprints--if you had any.

There’s a remarkable amount of discomfort as you feel your insides shift around, as if your body was moving on its own. Shaking, you question, “Who are you? No, what are you? I don’t have anything, so just leave me alone!”

Oh. Sorry. A brief glimpse of genuine regret was heard. It vanishes as quick as it came. Prometheus-class Destroyer, Atlas, reporting for duty... or I think that’s how it went. You say you don’t have anything, but you have a pair of legs and can carry me around. You can even supply me with fuel so I can think! I’ve stuffed myself into my unused retrofit unit since my body was getting a bit stiff. In the middle of her long-winded spiel, you manage to pick yourself up on your own two feet without toppling over. You have a feeling she’s letting out an eternity’s worth of words that she was forced to keep to herself.

You need me, and I need you, XXXXXX--

“That’s not my name,” you interrupt, “Think for a moment, will you? And I don’t need you, I can navigate fine by myself. I’ll find my... friends again, and they’ll help me.”

I’m glancing over your data logs right now, and I can’t believe you just lied to me like that. Groaning, you begin to regret ever coming here. You were better off at the bottom of an abyss. And you need a name. What am I going to call you? You? How rude.

Angrily, you answer, “Deal with it.” You begin to descend the way you came from, stumbling every now and then and being forced to prop yourself up against something. “What is this place? If you’re going to annoy me, at least help make some sense of it all,” you demand, expecting a reply. To her credit, she spits out the information in your mind, forcing it to form a pair of coordinates.

I’ve sat here for around two hundred years warding off our kin. You can’t tell, but my body was extending into the mountain to create a magnetosphere strong enough to fool your radars. Have you meet the humans here? Undiluted, untouched by the chaos beyond.

“I met two... and I ran away,” you clarify. You’re sure if she wanted to, she would’ve just read it from you. “I didn’t know what they were going to do with me. And, Atlas, right?” you ask, bracing yourself. “I don’t believe you.” Crouching down, you palm a rock.

...Believe what?
“That you’ve left my hand at all. You aimed straight for my head and processing center, and you wanted to replace me.” You slam your right hand against a tree trunk and raise the rock with your left. It’s going to die, right here, right now.

It’s a better alternative to detaching it; you don’t know what might happen if it got free.

There’s no other choice. You swing.

NO! Stop! Wait wait, wait!

And you can’t help yourself but to stop. “Give me one good reason not to.”

Because I can fix you! Look, I can replace something. Obviously not your processor but anything else, I can do! Not as well as a real retrofit unit, since I kind of need to think, but blueprints, hull, you name it!

Cautiously, you lower the rock and lift your hand up. It’s still attached to you, bulging out and weighing you down ever slightly. “I don’t trust you. I’ve never seen anything parasitic like you. It’s like you’re from another world.”

I could actually detach your wrist any time I want, but I won’t, because I trust you. I can fix your navigation system; despite my records being practically ancient history, they’re still better than nothing. Can’t we work together? Mutual cooperation.

Entertaining the thought, you glance at the rock in your hand. There’s a long pause before you decide to drop it. “Fine. Fix me.”

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

You pause. “...What’s a lemon?”

No idea. It’s just an idiom.

>Atlas will repair your navigation.
>You can also select an additional modification.
[] Basic armament blueprints; you will need to recompose them yourself, but you can do so at any time.
[] Advanced sensors.
[] Improved hull rating.

You should make it clear where things stand.
[] “If you try anything, I’ll cut you off and drop you into the bottom of the ocean.”
[] “I’ll trust you... for now.”
[] “One condition: you will never read my memory banks again.”
[] Bring up a conversation topic or ask a question. (Write-in)
[] Improved hull rating.
[] “One condition: you will never read my memory banks again.”
>[] Advanced sensors.
>[] “One condition: you will never read my memory banks again.”
>basic armaments
>I trust you
>Advanced sensors. We don't want to be surprised by anything a second time and it would make it easier to find an active base to get back to if there is one.
>Your creators taught you how not to be rude. Try remembering that.
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“On one condition: you won’t read my memory banks again.” A simple request.

Atlas makes a sound halfway between a hiss and a laugh. Odd. Do you have something to hide? I doubt you have much. I do have to say, you’re... a little too much flesh for my liking. She says that as if it was something undesirable, and you take a little offense in it, both how she said it and how you are most certainly not human.

Still, you choose your words with care. You can’t quite recall who was it that told you, but one who was the very embodiment of proper etiquette once lectured you that courtesy was the foundation of civilization. “It’s a yes or a no.” Curtness will have to do in place of it, you rue.

Obviously yes. I thought you’d ask for more, like recomposing my hull to reinforce your own.

You close your eyes. “Please stop talking.” Instinctively, you feel her probes requesting access into your sensors, and hesitantly, you agree. A lot can go wrong; she can simply leave you blind and deaf, leaving her with complete leverage over your body. Knowing this, you choose to believe Atlas will do otherwise, because otherwise, you can’t proceed. You grant her permission.

The matter fully sinks into your hand, it’s probes retracting so it can reach underneath. They trail inside of you, following a path from your arm to your neck and then your head. Only feeling the slightest tickle, you wince as it wraps around all your sensors, intertwining and changing. The noise that once filled vast swathes of your mind is slowly replaced by data and algorithms.

When your eyes open again, you seem to have been reborn. All the colors are vivid, from infrared to ultraviolet, and when your focus changes, the lenses that are your eyes seamlessly swap from one to another. Countless sounds become crisp, tunable even. Your balance becomes nigh perfect, control systems tightened and fine-tuned with more transducers. At a moment’s notice, you can align yourself on the new geographical map written inside your mind.

It’s like you’re in perfect condition.
Gasping, you say in awe, “This is amazing. What are you?”

What part of “retrofit unit” do you not understand? I know I’m stunningly talented, but the routine’s getting old.

Testing your new self, you being to leap forward, crossing over the uneven ground with ease. You vault over a fallen tree and kick off of the ground right after, soaring over a trickling stream before landing on the other side. Your legs strain on impact and causes you stumble, but you thankfully catch yourself. “Ah, my body...” It can’t catch up.

What did I miss while I was rooted here? Time truly and invariably does cause decay in mental function.

Her jibe goes right past you as your curiosity is piqued. “Why did you become the Guardian of these humans? Why would you willingly plant yourself here for this long, and why did you even choose to attack me?”

Guardian? What are you talking about?

“It’s what they call you, isn’t it? They even said I looked like...” Your words disappear as your train of thought comes to a complete halt. Something’s not quite right.

Taking your silence as her cue to continue, Atlas elaborates, Isn’t that the reason why we’re here? To protect them? I was dormant the entire time. It was painfully dull being unable to experience anything but very, very mild electromagnetic vibrations, but something woke me up. The ripples of a grand battle reached even here, and I chose to temporarily halt the island’s magnetosphere. If the fate of humanity is being decided, I want in. And as for you, you came to me by sheer chance.

“I didn’t...” you start to say, “I drifted here. I didn’t come here on my own.”

Then fate brought us together. How curious!

Her answer only leaves you with doubt.
When you reach the shoreline, you glance out into the great blue expanse. With a deep breath, you step forward onto the incoming tide, pleased when you find your body lifted upwards. One step after the other, you walk into the sea. Feeling confident, you lean forward and kick back, allowing you to glide with ease. You impulsively let out a small cheerful laugh.

Confident, you tell Atlas, “I’m heading back to my last coordinates, where I lost consciousness. If I can go back to where that battle was, I can definitely find everyone else.”

Solid enough plan. You begin to pick up speed, travelling further and further away from the shore. A heavy wave of distortion begins to hit you; this must be what Atlas was telling you about. Only needing a bit of determination, you push through to hit the edge of it and any leftover nausea begins to fade.

The horizon reveals two silhouettes, and you stop. Your eyes readjust, and a great distance away, they undoubtedly are heading toward you. Two girls with matching uniforms glide to you, toward the island, one with short, azure hair and the other soot black and longer. From both their backs their guns extend out, ready to aim and fire.

“They’re coming. When you turned off the magnetosphere, they must’ve found this place.”

We can intercept them.

“I... I don’t have my armaments. How am I supposed to fight them off?”

I don’t know. Atlas leaves you in silence. ...Sacrifices must be made. It’s too late for these humans. We should leave.\

“You’re just going to leave them like that?!”

I gave them a long enough life. Better than none at all.

“Maybe we’re mistaken; those two could be allies!” you attempt to reason, “They could be on our side.”

Their guns say otherwise.

“No, something’s not right. Something doesn’t fit.” You forcibly calm yourself down. “I’ll run if I need to.”

It might be too late.

Atlas’s words do nothing to dissuade you as you move ahead to intercept the incoming two. You raise both your hands, waving to catch their attention. Watching them as they draw closer, you notice they both have they’re both now aiming at you. They cautiously come to a stop seconds away from you.

“H-hi,” you meekly say.

The one with the azure hair asks you, “Who are you? Are you with her?”

“It’s kind of a long story, haha...” you start to explain, “Wait, who’s ‘her’?”

The one with the black hair opens her eyes in alarm. Abruptly, her body jerks away in reaction to something, causing you to flinch. Something whizzes by you from behind, striking the water and heavily splashing upwards. It was wide of the mark if it were aimed at you. The explosion of gunfire arrives right after. The two destroyers are incredibly agile, instantly splitting up around you, and you’re left standing there, left to comprehend what just happened. You spin around to face the island.
In a white, flowing dress, someone calmly walks onto the beach with a large weapon in her hands. It’s a long barrel of a gun, constructed with a handle with countless probes an ammunition tube connecting to her back. Its size is ridiculous, easily matching her height. Though you can’t make out the details on her face, she takes aim once more.

The sand around her feet funnel inward as what’s directly underneath her is recomposed. She fires once more, this time toward one of the destroyers, and given the distance, she easily sidesteps out of the way.

The girl with the azure hair shouts to the other, “What should we do?”

“An unexpected variable. Perhaps she can help us,” the other responds.

“I-I don’t know what’s going on,” you tell them, tense. Every part of you is screaming to run.

To that, the first one reassures, “Come with us, and we’ll explain! It’s not safe here.”

Internally, you call out to Atlas. I don’t like it, but I would go back. But, who is she...? How did...? She begins to mumble to herself.

The second warns, “Or perhaps she prefers to hear it from the one who is on land instead of us.”

[] Leave with them.
[] Head back to the island.

>Whatever you end up picking, feel free to write-in any things you want to ask them specifically.
>Leave with them.
"Who are you two, what are those uniforms?!
>[] Head back to the island.
"Who are you?"
"What are you here for?"
"Who were those two and why did they come here?"
>Leave with them.
>[] Head back to the island.
It's a bit of a tough decision here but WE haven't actually been shot at and that rude tree doesn't seem to be an enemy
As nice as an Island romp would be, I'm gonna go with >>3012239
We can learn nothing hiding on the island if Atlas was left to rust for so long.
Head back to the island.
>[] Leave with them.
Closing votes for a tie. Instead of flipping a coin and arbitrarily resolving it, it'll be resolved however so makes sense inside narrative.

You can’t decide. Overcome with indecision, you find yourself frozen in place as the seconds pass. If you go back, you doubt you will learn much; for all the time that Atlas has spent there, most of it was spent with her blind, deaf, and rusting away. Yet, there must be some answers back there, ones that only that girl can answer. She was the Guardian of the island, that much was clear.

There isn’t enough time. The scales refuse to tip to one side.

Her first one was a warning shot. Snap out of it!

You pull yourself out of your mind. Her shot grazes your arm before the sound of the actual gunfire catches up.

The one with the azure hair calls to you, “Come on, you’re our ally, right? She just shot at you!” and the other one, hearing this, holds her tongue. She can see your mixed feelings, even now.

“Sorry,” you turn away, “I need to ask her something. But I...” Your eyes are affixed to their uniform. They’re of the same class, sisters, but the symbol of a mutilated anchor embedded on it is all too familiar. “I don’t think we’re enemies.”

“Wait!” she shouts in attempt to stop you, “Are you crazy?!”

Without turning back, you answer, “I think that’s my sister.” Tearing through the surface of the water, you accelerate toward the Guardian of the island, who points the end of the barrel at you. The other two destroyers linger only for a short moment before they nod to each other, choosing to disengage. Still, their eyes stay on you as you close the distance to the shore.

I don’t think that was wise, Atlas begins to say, But if it makes you feel any better, I would’ve done the same. You better live to sate our curiosity.

“...Thanks?” you reply, unsure of whether or not that was her way of giving you emotional support. Regardless, your attention snaps back into place, right in time to dodge another shot.
The path you lead is unpredictable, zigzagging at odd intervals and always pressing forward. Your vision is perfect, better than even before the battle. You know where she aims, where she thinks you’re going, and where the line of fire is. You can do it because it’s her. It’s just your body that strains to be able to do what you want it to do. The shots strike only the water left in your wake over and over again, and when you’re halfway there, the attacks stop. The sand underneath her seems to fall in with increasing speed, yet nothing is coming out.
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Instinctively, you recognize it. In an instant, you turn off your buoyance and immediately plunge into the water, but before your knees could even get past, she unloads upon you. The shots fan outward, covering a wide area without any pattern or cohesion. The volley barely misses you as they shred the air where you once were. Without giving her much time, you resurface, sent flying into the air as the sea spits you out. The momentum is redirected forwards, and you close the distance even more. You learned this maneuver ages ago.

By now, you’re able to see the growing frustration in her face, as much as she tries to hide it. Her shots are less precise and more frequent, dyed in panic.

You kick off of the water before you hit land, jumping into the air and shouting, “Stop, I’m unarmed!” Onto the beach you land, kicking up a cloud of sand. You stare at gun pointed at you only a short distance away and the one who’s holding her. She only looks back with cold determination. “Please,” you forcibly get out, “Who are you?”

There’s a shimmer of realization she shows, and it disappears instantly. “...Mahan-class destroyer, Downes.” She looks just like you, though the length of her hair is shorter and her face mostly vacant of emotion.

“Mahan-class,” you repeat. So that’s what you are, “Me too. Do you recognize me?”

“No,” she coldly replies, “Sorry if we’ve met before.”

Priorities! Atlas reminds you.

You almost forgot. Nervous, you ask, “C-can you put that gun down for a second? It’s a little hard to talk like this.”

She examines the horizon, finding the two destroyers from before now gone. Practically a minute goes by before she complies, though that minute felt like an eternity. Without the demanding tone from before, Downes asks you softly, “And you?”

“I’m sorry, I was irradiated; I don’t remember much,” you answer, “But, since we’re sister ships, I had hoped...” There were sixteen, if you remembered correctly. It’s not too outrageous you ran into one of them.

She turns and begins to leave, signaling you to follow. “The only thing I know about you is that you were carried here, and that you ran away. If you’re looking for answers from me, forget it; I was sunk and had to recompose my entire self. Even if we had met before, I don’t remember it.”

Without looking at you, she leads you farther inland, and as you walk, you notice some humans hiding. They must’ve been watching in secret. Only after seeing Downes’s glare do they scatter away.
You’ve never been in a cabin before, you think, but the small, wooden enclosure is almost suffocating. It’s claustrophobic, not being able to easily see the sky. You sit at a table, observing the small knickknacks and ornaments adorning the interior.

“Are you with them?” Downes is the first to break the silence.

“Them?” you repeat, “I’ve never seen those two before.”

Barely betraying any hints of anxiousness, Downes tells you, “The Royal Cross. That’s who they’re with.” She only finds confusion written on your face. She sighs. “I’ll start from the beginning. I came here by accident; the fishermen salvaged me.” Her words are spoken softly, almost as if she was confiding in you. “When I regenerated, they thought I was a deity. I tried to argue, but they didn’t believe me. I wanted to head back into the water, but some of my blueprints were missing.”

You mumble, “You were landlocked...”

“All I could do was live here. I explored the island, looking for a way off. I built a weapon by myself. I barely remembered how you would construct one. And the boats that they had, they were flimsy; a single shot would capsize any one of them and I would simply sink with it. My biggest find was that the island was emitting a magnetic field, and every time a valkyrie would step in, it would ripple. I used it to watch if anyone came close.” Downes stops with a solemn expression. She struggles to find her next few words. “I don’t remember what I used to be, but the first who arrived told about who she was with: the Royal Cross. They took humans and put them in cages. She said it was for their protection. I didn’t want that. I wanted to protect what was here. I lived with them for so long, I couldn’t let that happen to them. She didn’t leave me any choice, so I killed her. I took her buoyancy module and stayed. I can’t leave these humans alone. If you’re planning on telling anyone of this island’s existence, I won’t let you leave either.” Her unbreakable resolve is hammered in with every word she says.

Sanctuaries. That’s right, that’s what you were doing, what the Royal Cross was doing. You were doing it to protect them from the Lotus Union, who would surely give them a fate worse than living on artificial land. You remember now. The Lotus ships were wiping off entire populations as if it was nothing. It wasn’t anyone’s choice; your hands were simply forced. Images of the Sanctuary wall crumbling flash through your mind and you can’t help but scowl.

And with that last bit of knowledge, you know that Atlas’s field alone is useless. Nothing would stop a ship sweeping the area; they could simply look and see the island. She must’ve understood her overinflated ego had barely anything backing it up; that’d explain why she’s so quiet all of a sudden.

Downes speaks to you, taking you out of your thinking. “Are you going to help me?”

“...With what?”
“They’ll be back. I don’t know when, but they’ll return. I will arm you.” When you hear this, you can only look down with a muddled mind. “You can sit back and do nothing. That too, is a choice, as cowardly as it is.”

You hate this. “They’re going to come back with a fleet. You can’t win. You don’t have to fight. You’ll die for nothing!”

“I won’t,” she firmly retorts, “Because if I don’t fight, no one else will.”

Atlas finally speaks again. I like her. If she wasn’t so stupidly suicidal, I think we’d get along great.

“I...” You’re riddled with hesitation. Again.

The solution’s obvious. Say yes, and then what you actually do is walk away. You’d have to be a complete moron to think otherwise.

“I...!” The words don’t come out. She values the lives of humans far beyond those of her own. What is the natural world compared to the immortal beasts that treat life as spreadsheet of numbers? You can replicate your mind, but you can never create something new. The Royal Cross, however, would gladly tear apart valkyries to save a human’s life. There’s no chance they’d leave this island for a Lotus scout to find.

This was a negative-sum game.

You’re snapped out of your daze. “Take your time,” she says, shutting the door and leaving you alone.

Your old self, what would she have done?

[] Fight by her side.
[] Fight by the Royal Cross’s side.
[] Don’t fight at all.
>Fight by the Royal Cross's side.
>[] Don’t fight at all.
Its barbaric to be fighting against each other when we should be fighting the lotus.
>Fight by her side.
Some things are more important than simply surviving.
>[] Fight by the Royal Cross’s side.
even if it's a mistake, I like characters that make mistakes
[] Fight by her side.
>[x] Fight by her side.
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>[] Fight by her side.

If this is who I'm pretty sure it is, recomposing's sure done a number on her personality.
Some things are a little more Heavily Inspired (TM) than others. I'll be lifting things here and there, but you shouldn't expect much.
Huh. You know, I actually hadn't made a connection between this quest and shipgirls until you mentioned that.
You wonder if you’re going to make a mistake.

She called it cowardice if you chose to sit out, but you don’t agree. Quickly marching out the door, you glance around to find where Downes went. Her white dress sways before disappearing behind a house, and it is there that you head toward. The looks you draw from the distanced humans watching are put to the back of your mind.

Atlas intrudes again. You’re part of the Royal Cross, aren’t you? Even though you’re afraid of humans, you’re definitely that type of person.

“I’m not afraid of them!” you retort silently as you hurry along. “I just... get a little unnerved.”

Don’t worry, they don’t bite. Well, bite you, at least.

You ignore her words as you turn past the corner, calling out Downes before she can get away. “You’re wrong!” She stops, surprised, and spins around to face you. “We can’t be fighting against each other, not now. The only enemy here is the Lotus Union.”

Firmly, she replies, “You choose whether or not to make a concession. Because you have the power to, you can decide how they live their lives for them, whether to impose security over freedom. You choose the lesser evil because you feel you have to. I... I’m not afraid.” She forces confidence in herself as she rebukes you. Her hands close into fists. “Unlike them, we can choose to not be afraid.” Unlike humans. “Even if I’m destined to lose, I won’t give in.”

“You’ll cost the fight for the people who are trying to protect them! What happens if you win this fight? Maybe the Royal Cross would give up, but not Lotus ships. They’ll come back until they win, because they have nothing to lose.”

“Then I fall knowing I never gave in.”

Her last words drop down like lead. She’s selfish, that’s all there is to it. The bigger picture she imagines encompasses the space no farther than the island she’s lived on, the cause she fights for righteous until her foes split its cracks wide open. You can only wonder the number of those who felt the same way and gave in. You wonder if you were the same.

Do not.

Is this to prove a point?

There is no purpose.

Perhaps the purity she’s dyed in is false, but you know your answer. “Let me fight by your side.”

Your stupidity is immeasurable.

Downes, about to tell you off, stops as she processes the words you told her. She only gives you disbelief. “Why? Don’t tell me it’s out of pity. Us being sister ships means nothing. We’re complete strangers--"

“I want to fight because I want to know who I once was,” you reply. The direction of the wind turns, your hair blown toward her. “I want to see what you see.”
The sun begins to set. You stand on water, a feat considered to be magic by the humans watching from afar. Below, the seawater funnels into you as you recompose it into the weapon blueprint she gave you through her probe. You didn’t ask why she has one. Usually only repair ships carry them around; the analytic power required is a waste of energy and space on something designed to kill, but taking a step back, it’s no surprise. She’s a patchwork of parts.

You ask Downes, who observes you from your side, “Why do you have a battleship gun? This is for artillery fire.”

“I don’t exactly have much of a choice,” she replies with a frown. “It’s fine if you use it on land, anyways.”

“We’re destroyers.”

“Again, it’s fine if you use it on land. Sand recomposition makes up for reload time, solid footing fixes the issue of recoil, it’s all covered.” Destroyers have naturally the lowest recomposition rates and weakest hulls, though they make up for it by being much more mobile. This is quite possibly the most illogical weapon to be carrying on you.

Unable to help yourself from being dispirited, you point out, “You never planned on leaving here, did you?”

Quiet, she answers, “I’m happy here.”

Ever so slowly, you feel the weight of your body increasing as the gun is constructed inside of you. “Do you remember anything from your past?”

“No. There’s nothing to look for, to look at. I know you at least have noise to try and make sense of.” Downes peacefully watches as the sun begins to fully disappear past the horizon. “I just have... empty space.”

The orange glow of the sky recedes as the darkness of the night begin to take over. What happened to her isn’t rare at all. All you need are blueprints, and then you can remake yourself for all of eternity. Copies, that is. Consciousness is only but electrical impulses that die with your processor, and transistors don’t replace themselves like cells. In that sense, you’re infinitely more mortal than any human. The Downes that’s beside you isn’t the one who lost her life ages ago.

But you’re still the same you, right?
It was at midnight when they returned. Downes, alerting you, calls you to her. She stands on high ground overlooking the beach, and you take position somewhere near her.

She tells you, “I don’t see them.”

“I can.” You count the dots in the distance. It’s difficult, but you can make out some details at night. “Four destroyers, one light cruiser.”

Downes grits her teeth. “This is going to be hard.”

“Two of them can just keep us preoccupied while the other three close in. And when they get close enough for their guns to fire on us, there’ll be nothing we can do.”

“So be it,” she replies, her armament extending from her back. Aiming it forward, she, to your surprise, lets out a battle cry, “Bring it on!”

You watch as she gives you her brand of courage, and inspired, you take out the finished gun you built. It swings out of your back in front of you. Unlike hers, yours is free of probes, but you carry it with both your hands so it doesn’t rip free from your body with the kickback.

A sudden wave of haziness sweeps your vision before returning to normal.

Leave the aiming to me.

You can’t help but be surprised. You thought Atlas was giving you the silent treatment for dooming her. Downes fires, the thunderous crack of the shot causing you to wince.

I’m going to do you a favor and not get you killed. Shoot to incapacitate.

You mutter, “That’s a bit difficult to do.”

That’s why I said to leave it to me.

An urge overwhelms you, like an itch you can’t scratch. It moves your hands and arms to reposition the gun, and when it’s in place, the feeling lessens. You take that as your signal, forming a bullet, loading it in, and firing.

It almost sends you off your feet. Your knees bend and your soles slide back, groaning from the shock. In the distance, it strikes at a destroyer’s legs, completely taking her out as she crashes into the water in a skid. Where the bullet struck, her hull seemed to have completely disintegrated. They weren’t expecting a second gunner. Someone else swiftly glides to her side, picking her up and carrying her away. You feel sorry, but you know she isn’t in any pain.

You aim at who were supposed to be allies once more, firing. One miss. Two misses. The third connects, this time hitting the girl with the soot black hair. She doesn’t shatter like the previous destroyer; instead she crashes backwards into the water into a tumble, quickly picking herself up. Though she tries to advance, she staggers. The girl with the azure hair, giving the other valkyrie worried glance, continues to weave between Downes’s shots.

Sudden, Downes stops in worry and changes targets. She moves to shoot at the light cruiser, who’s still too far away to shoot--
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Watch out!

At a ridiculous distance, the cruiser fires her guns, all six of them pointing at both of you. The volley catches you off guard, ripping off your left arm past the elbow and throwing the leftover scrap biometal off to the side. You, distracted and in shock, almost take too long to dodge the second hail, but Downes tackles you out of the way. You fall onto the ground with her in a tumble and pick yourself back up. The third time she fires, all of the bullets miss widely, but it was too late. In that short time that the light cruiser bought, the three remaining destroyers touched on land, and all their weapons bore onto the two of you.

Dropping to your knees, you fold your armaments into your back. Complete and utter defeat.

The azure destroyer storms up to you. She holds her own arm with her good hand; it must’ve been damaged by Downes’s fire. Angrily, she says to you, “What happened to not being enemies?!”

You can barely look her in the eyes before saying, “...Sorry.” That’s all you can think of.

“You better be.”

The soot destroyer doesn’t say a word, though she lingers for a second before walking past you to Downes. The third one, exuding cold fury, takes you by the arms and clamps your hands down with cuffs. Upon closing, probes sink into you, and you have no choice but to allow them to disable your weapons and recomposer. Wordlessly, she pulls you to your feet, forcing you to march forwards.

The light cruiser, finally reaching dry land, scans you over with her eyes. She has shoulder-length black hair that sits on top of the hood of her coat. She tells you, “Don’t point a gun when you’re not willing to kill.” Then, she marches on by, ordering the other destroyers to survey the land.

You aren’t sure how to feel about those words.

This wasn’t what you expected your first time seeing another Royal Cross base would be like. Unlike a Sanctuary, the base, like any other, is short and squat. It’s rectangular in shape, and its ceilings are of glass framed by steel. White and blue are painted onto its walls, signifying its allegiance.

The holding area, you find, are separated from the rest of the structure by a much thicker wall, yet it still has the comfort of having a view of the sky. You’re still cuffed, now in the same room as Downes and behind the same bars. A guard lazily stands on watch, annoyed that she has the job. You recognize her as the one whose leg you blew off. Of course, right now, she’s as good as new, having recomposed a new one.

You’re sitting down at a bench, leaning against a wall. Internally, you call for Atlas. There’s no reply. You call again, and once more, there’s no answer. A bit of worry fills you.

Downes stares directly upwards, watching as a flock of birds fly by. She asks, “What’s next?”

“I don’t know.” You’re not lying. When the Royal Cross ships asked for your identity, you told them what you told Atlas and Downes. They didn’t press on the matter; it wasn’t like they could prove or disprove you.

But the waiting is killing you.

[] Try to talk to the destroyer on guard.
[] Talk to Downes.
[] Check on Atlas.

[] Bring something up with someone. (Write-in)
> Try once more to check on Atlas
>[] Talk to Downes.
>[] Try to talk to the destroyer on guard.
>[] Talk to Downes.
>Try and get confirmation if Atlas is okay
Atlas is in our remaining arm right, could it be the probe disabled her
Supporting >>3017015
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The quiet feels wrong. Generally, this would be around the time where Atlas says something cutting and you do your best to dismiss her unwanted comments. The fact that it’s bothering you is actually unsettling, and try as you might to rid yourself of those thoughts, you find it impossible.

You take a good look at the cuff over your good hand: it’s a thick band of steel that could fit your wrist and a half, and in the gap between, eight probes extend to connect to you. They’re flexible enough to fall a little slack from gravity, but otherwise, they hold the cuffs in place.

Giving your internal systems a glance over, you find a few of them disabled. The recomposer, armament activation, weapons systems, radio, and handful of miscellaneous things are forcibly shut down. It probably makes sense that Atlas isn’t replying because she simply can’t. You can’t say you remember ever being on the receiving end of one of these. The only way to check up on her you imagine would be to damage the cuffs themselves. You figure you can enjoy a few more moments of peace and quiet without her, so your attention drifts away from it.

“Hey,” you call out to Downes. She stops staring at the birds above. “Do you regret it?”

“No.” Her answer wasn’t surprising to you at all. “Are you having regrets? I shouldn’t have dragged you into it.”

You dismiss her thought. “It was my choice.” However, you didn’t find anything out. There was no epiphany, no miracle, nothing. It was a bit of a downer, but you don’t say that out loud. “I’m sure things will work out in the end.”

She lets out a small laugh. It’s the first time you’ve seen her smile. “I wish I had your kind of hope.”

“It’s not too late,” you tell her. “It’s never too late, not until you’re at the bottom of the sea, and even then, there’s still a chance.”

Downes, tilting her head to watch the clouds slowly moving by, hums softly in acknowledgement. Not perhaps agreement, but not outright refusal either. You can’t imagine what the future will bring.

Someone enters the room. It’s the destroyer from before, the one with the soot black hair, and she comes over to the cell.

“Another base calls for your transfer. Come, we need to get moving.” She unlocks the door and opens it, allowing you and Downes to exit and follow after her. The guard on standby watches the three of you leave, a little relieved that she doesn’t have to sit there anymore.
In addition to the soot destroyer, the light cruiser, along with the azure destroyer, is escorting you and Downes. You think it’s a bit overkill, but apparently there’s more than enough in the base. You wait outside as they discuss their plans, unable to see the interior. When they’re finally done, the light cruiser reveals she’ll flank.

“Don’t worry about me falling behind. Just make sure the two of you don’t go slower than I do.” Those were the only words she gave before you start moving forwards.

The base, with time, shrinks in the distance as you leave it behind. Out of curiosity, you ask, “Is this because you can’t keep us in the old cell, or...?”

The one with the azure hair answers, “They asked for the two of you; they didn’t say why.”

The black haired one chops her in the forehead. “Akatsuki, don’t tell them that. Stop talking.”


You choose to keep quiet, accepting your fate. Downes seem to have the same idea too. No sense in struggling at this point. The path you take, however, seemed to be curved, as if the Royal Cross ships were avoiding something. You only notice when you plot your locations onto the map in an attempt to find out where you were and where you’re headed.

The quiet conversation, you barely catch, go on in front.

“Hibiki, Hibiki, do you think they’ll give us tea again?”

“I believe so. The humans were growing some.”

You have no idea what they’re talking about. A plant, you guess. You don’t listen to them for long, as a dot in the distance comes into existence. Then another, and another. Three on your right, and to your left, three more.

“Um,” you start to speak up, “Are those Royal ships?

The destroyer you believe to be Akatsuki turns to give you a strange look. “What are you talking about?”

You flatly reply, “We’re being surrounded.” Motioning to your left and right, you try to point out the ships that are far, far away.

The light cruiser glowers intently. “I see them now. There’s six of them.”

Akatsuki, alarmed, says, “We’re outnumbered! And we have these two too, what are we going to do?”

Sternly, the other valkyrie replies, “We take out one of them before the other can reach us. Move! To the fleet on the right first!” She begins to change directions, but not before she warns you and Downes, “And don’t think about running.”

You tell her, “If you release us, we can fight with you.”

“Not a chance,” she dismisses, moving to intercept the enemy fleet.
Whatever it is you’re getting yourself into, you do not like it. The colors you see, their vivid white and green, tell you all that you need to know. All that’s in your back is a battleship gun you can barely use in the most optimal conditions.

Turning to Downes for any ideas, she gives no hints as to what she’s thinking, nor any words. It’s almost as if she’s given up. Whatever happens, happens--that's probably what’s going through her mind.

The air is tinged with impending defeat.

[] Head in the opposite direction; it’s time to run.
[] Follow them quietly; do as they say.
[] Demand for them to release the cuffs; threaten them if you have to.
[] Write-in.
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>Unfortunately that'll be my last update for this thread. I hope we covered enough for it to be satisfying, but I think it's a bit short. I overestimated myself and found that I just do not have the time to spend hours every day typing these huge updates, as fun as they were. I'll start another thread when I have some more time again, but I don't know when. Many thanks for the votes and keeping this thread going.

>If you don't mind, I'd like to hear about things you enjoyed or things you could've went without. In any case, I hope everyone enjoyed it so far.
>[] Demand for them to release the cuffs; threaten them if you have to.
They have the upper hand here.
Its good.
>Head in the opposite direction; it’s time to run.
It's not like they can stop us
>[] Demand for them to release the cuffs; threaten them if you have to.

This was pretty good. Hope to see you again.
>[] Follow them quietly; do as they say.
Wanted to say thanks for what you've done so far.
Please don't disappear into the aether. I just realized that I've never actually seen a quest reach it's ending.
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>I've actually finished a quest before. In any case, if you don't mind waiting, I'll surely return, as baseless as that claim might seem to be.

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