Howdy All, I want to start by apologizing for the abrupt and sudden end without explanation during the last thread. Both the IPs I use got banned from 4chan for Ban evasion. A special thank you to the Anons who hung around and managed to archive the last thread. The previous threads can be found here:https://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=2ndRatePilotTo account for the long period of absence the first few posts will be long to wrap up the last vote and get things moving on.
>>5302995The Sub-basement sat forgotten, the musty place hadn't seen any real attention in the last hundred or so years. The humble space was spent holding old tools or stray building materials. But without warning it had found life returning. Albeit slowly at first. Forced underground larger rodents than the ones usually present began to infest it. Crude in tongue and attitude, they had brought with them a flag. A thing even far older than the poorly constructed walls. With reverence they hung it. The large heraldry on full display without shame. Olive drab a single red symbol resting in the center. To the eye of a layman the simple bakery that sold adequate meat stuffed pastries hadn't changed. The residents of the level hadn't noticed a sharp influx of foreigners, this far down no one would. Within the belly a cyst began to form. As rusted metal shelves and stray boxes were hauled up from the concealed womb of cement and metal. Just as easily did crates of virulent armaments and equipment of war flow in. Incubating until the time was right. Thick smoke twirls out from between the man's blackened teeth and sour gums. His unintentional smirk leaking the dense gaseous ink, the foul acrid fog mimicking his every breath. His lips were mostly gone, replaced with tight scar tissue; only the far corner allowed him to work the long square cigarette. Face draped in shadow the scarred Pariah wasted no time suckling on the stick. In the corner an old television set flickers rapidly through sepia footage, the dull elysians voices accompanying it indistinctly low and undecipherable for all present. Two others lingered in the cramped space.
>>5302996 The Prodigy and the Prophet, each present equals everyone a bold and sharp point of the triumvirate, such sharp edges keeping their distance. Attempting and failing to restrain the unapologetic contempt they had for one another. "The D Provisional SHELL was secured. We lost a few hands, but it went off without a hitch. Right from under their noses…" The Pariah spoke, jaw glistening with trails of unsupervised saliva, the words bark out interrupting the exercise in exchanging untrustworthy glances. Grinning properly now, his snaggletooth maw grew wide as sickly fumes danced behind his words. "Now personally I think it is enough, I really can't see the logic in either of you being here." The Prodigy scoffs, shaking his head as he sat up straight on the flimsy plastic chair that was his own. Emerging from the cover of shade, the low levels of illumination couldn't hide his youthful appearance. "I'm not here to discuss your opinion. The Captain sent me here to ensure the correct goals are met." The Prophet let out a sigh, unafraid of hiding her clear disappointment and down right hatred of having to be confined to such a forlorn hovel. Her serenely soft voice betrays her rather sharp and regal features. "Perhaps time should be spent on reassuring your perceived victories before gloating of them. I'm yet to see your Prize prove itself. And yes. I have seen the footage, yes before you ask I have seen the uncensored footage as well… Especially when everything is still underway." The Prophet had no time for gloating, the squeal of untended to hinges echoes into the room, drawing the trio's attention. Through the thick miasmic mist the new arrival strode. The light glinting across his heavily augmented body, smudged chrome hands placed a small device onto a nearby table. Wordlessly those metal hands danced along an invisible display. After a short silence a low whine began to be projected from the thing. A cold and cruel voice addressed all present.
>>5302997The morning hangs over you like a dense cloud, your mind and body groggy. Despite having the best sleep in what seemed like half a month it barely helps. Everything was building up, plaque sticking to every surface. Your face felt numb and puffy as if it wasn't your own. Enduring it you work through the plights of the morning and rush to get dressed, trawling through the mud. Only a few more days remained until you would be sent off for further training, so you wanted to get as much done before then as possible. As you play with your tablet over breakfast you find yourself alone, the first pilot to arrive. Strangely enough you found the absence of people soothing, it wasn't the first breakfast you had eaten alone. You knew it wouldn't be the last. The digital clock read out in hot orange that it was only ten past five in the morning. Your old habits were returning as your body spent more energy on recovering than discovering. You let a sigh escape, hoping it would ease the tension between your brows. What few snippets you could remember weighing on you. Opening the notepad app you watched the screen intently, all the unclouded slithers of your life marching passed your eyes one by one. A misstepping troop with only a quarter of its full capacity. You were playing with half of a deck. You only had the low cards, you needed some of the faces. You begin to transcribe what you could remember. First starting with skimpy notes, Mother, Brother. No face. Father. The Interior ministry. The Hole. But as the words stamp the backlit screen you begin to track more recent events. Ones you could remember as if they were yesterday. The rough nuggets of gold that kept you human. Concentrating on the act helped the fog and daze leave. Content with the paragraphs you finish up your food, promising yourself to update it daily. You leave the small recreation room before any other pilots arrive. The route down to the Phobos training area was a familiar one now, you found the small fortitude writing had made the trip slip by. Before you know it you stood before your Phobos, the main training level was still in a lull. Mostly repair and maintenance crewmen were about. Nameless you watched the towering weapon, soaking in the elegance and yet simple design. The Alien masterpiece. Sleek and sharp the body held two spots that stood out on your Phobos. The grey hull possessed silver scars. Fresh Xeno alloys had been produced to fill in the gaps Anastasia had carved into you. Just looking at the wounds made your hip and shoulder twinge, the painful memories hauntingly real. The faint tinge of blood still plaguing your tongue. You swore the core was pulling you closer and closer. It deserves a name. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you name your Phobos? Write in.>Something Wicked?>The Half Soul?>Heartthrob?>Hysteria Madonna? >Name it Later?>Write In?
>>5302998uhwelcome back, i am surprised you returned>What do you do, Pilot?Stretch a bit and say hi to the bros, though ... they might not be here. In that case just stretch, we are going to test our personal murder machine>What do you name your Phobos? Write in.>>The Half Soul?
>>5302998>What do you do, Pilot?>Check out the Anastasia's mech>Something Wicked?>Hysteria Madonna?Welcome back QM. Glad to see curse didn't claimed you.
>>5302998>What do you do, Pilot?Prepare ourselves for the coming "exercise" / practice / screaming session by inspecting the core more closely.>The Half Soul?
>>5302998>What do you do, Pilot?hang out with everyone in the phobos bay.>What do you name your Phobos?Howdy
>>5303389Also happy you are back!Missed the Chiso mech warrior quest.
>>5303138SupportSo glad this is back, I was one of the guys who noticed your post in /qtg/ so I am happy you decided to run again.
>>5302998>>What do you do, Pilot?>>Check out the rest of the 'mechbay>>Something Wickedor>>Fear Itself (Write in)
>>5303943>What do you do, Pilot?>Focus on training. >Something Wicked
>What do you do, Pilot?>Something Wicked>Check out the Mech.
>>5303981>>5303970>>5303943>>5303223Turning from the giant, your eyes fell onto a tarp wrapped Phobos. A shiver ran down your spine to your knees, the pair of joints feeling weak. Far away from the docked units the hunched over weapon was waiting. Anastasia's Phobos hadn't been removed, just relocated away from the main area. You could make out an object protruding from the Phobos and oddly enough you felt a sharp pain in your sternum. You were unsure who'd take the reins on linking with the machine next. But you highly doubted Ana would be climbing back into it. You decide against going near it. You wanted an early start, slipping into a Dive suit you hesitated for a second. Eyeing the fresh and bulky combat one. The new replacement. You had no intention of pushing yourself and instead settled on the light equipment. As you ascended to the Umbral core you took your time admiring Something Wicked as you went. You hoped the name would bring fear to those you face on the battlefield. The forgotten legend living on through your own deeds, sharing what you could with the ghosts. At your touch the machine reacted, the soft core welcoming you without any resistance. Sinking into the cool abyss, the routine of sequencing passes as your eyes open. Treading comfortably you watch the hanger area. Warming up you start going through the common and well practiced rotational and movement exercises. The actions remind you of your forgotten past, repeating the familiar actions as a small child. Along with others from the Theta Project. Row after row of adolescent Pilots stretching and posing. If just for a second you felt like a little boy again, laughing and giggling as your peers lost their balance and stumbled or fell. You promise to record the memory, no matter how small. If not for yourself then for at least them. Passing through all the training you had done up to now cost you less than an hour and other pilots had begun to find their way down. You were getting better at stirring the machine. You could feel it. Tempted to try out your newly acquired ability you found yourself trying to feel out the force that linked all of the Phobos Units around you. You struggle, the world around you and your own wandering thoughts hindering the attempt to hone in on it. What had once been so alien and bizarre was, as you worryingly notice, becoming natural and second nature. As you were about to give up on actively piercing the veil you felt a small thread tug your floating body. The small pulling force repeated, taking all of your attention. It pulls you down into the first layer, submerging your mind as the links between man and machine faded into one. You recognize the source almost immediately, before panic could set in, the thin binding races out from your mental shell and further into the massive facility.
It was Anastasia. You wrapped your hand around the link and pulled back, the small act making the winding roots that were imperceivable suddenly reality. The empty cores echoed back the life from the manned Phobos around you. The other pilots were unaware of your position. You reach out aiming for an inactive Umbral core, from within the void you had no way of telling what type of Unit it was. But you doubted it mattered. Pushing against the boundary within the murky orb, within your very mind you felt the thin translucent veil give way, each finger protruding the fabric of consciousness further and further until it snapped in twain. Projecting yourself along a winding and dark route, the empty core trembles at your intrusion. However it did nothing to reject you. You weren't really there, or so you thought. You assumed you were simply spying on the interior. Which as you had guessed was empty. The stiff and frozen metallic body sends a faint sensation through your own floating form. You experimented, trying to rouse the slumbering core. But it wouldn't react as sequences danced through your thoughts. Intruding on an empty house wasn't very impressive, so you allow the neural tides to usher you back into your own Umbral nerve center and set your eyes on the nearest Phobos. It was one of the other boys from Delta, you weren't familiar with him. Besides occasionally seeing him with his unit. Inquisitively you reach out, ignoring the general chatter over the LO Comms. Delicately and slowly your mind reverted itself outward, slipping through the veil only growing easier and easier. The steady beat of the boy's heart drew you closer and closer along the bright and bold tendon of the hidden system. Down the thin muscular fiber you approached until you found a membranous boundary halting your path. You pressed a hand against it, feeling his words vibrating along your limbs, he was talking to another pilot. Both were counting down as they proceeded to test motion ranges. He was distracted, you took the opportunity and pressed through. Sinking into the cold core. Down within the depth of the first layer you lurk, he was still operating the machine from an arms length. Wary, he had every right to be. After all he could end up like Anastasia for all he knew. You question the safety of your own actions. But the excitement and sheer discovery of the secret connection and exploiting it was too alluring. The Half Soul had shown you it, whether He intended to or not. Gingerly you float closer to the Delta Pilot, reaching out a hand you gingerly poke the base of his foot. Before quickly ejecting yourself. Something Wicked snatches you back intently in time to witness through your own observer lens the Phobos' sudden jolt, the right knee joint buckling for a second. A worried voice stammered across the open LO Comms. "Something touched me!" You grinned fiendishly at the revelation. Giggling to yourself like a little school girl.
>>5304022these are a lot less like Battlemechs and a lot more like EVAs
>>5304026Unsurprisingly you were exhausted from the use of Veil Breach, once crawling free from the heavenly embrace of weightlessness. Gravity made herself clear to be a cruel mistress and to escape her crushing grip you fled to your quarters. Sleep comforts your tired body. You only stir as something warm presses against your curled up form, eyes straining and failing to open. Everything was sore, your skin felt tender and bruised. A pained sigh escapes your lips. The frustration at your predicament is clear. A voice spoke back, one you didn't recognize. A language you failed to understand. " " You feel a pair of warm lips press against your forehead and sleep takes you again. By the time you manage to pry yourself from the mattress it was already after twelve. With your arms and legs still straining to carry you further than a step, forces you to settle on resting for the day. Lounging about in bed you eventually spot the aged book. Resting on your desk, it takes you a little while to retrieve it and fall back onto the bed. Fiddling with your tablet you manage to get the thing to play music, unsure of where to start in the vast collection you picked the first song on the list and put it on random selection. Instruments softly joined in harmony as you opened the book. You didn't know what to expect but held hope anyway."Oh to all you Monsters of the Empire." You delve into the first chapters as they go on to establish the foundation of The Second Order of Eskarrian Principalities, like much of the past. Some of it you knew already, but you give the flowing walls of text the honor of reading. The First order and its fall is left up mostly to interpretation and opinion. The book and most scholars believe the collapse was from infighting after an unreliable inheritance system left many vying for the throne. The book goes on to list many of the factions and local powers, but none of them existed to a degree that you knew about. The daunting lists of names you consider forgotten was a long one. Enjoying the Over-Marshal's choice of music helps you focus further, getting comfortable but then something changes. Without warning and prompted by your choice in random selection the typical calm and soothing classical music suddenly shifts.
>>5304028 The groovy song that took its place stealing all of your attention. It caught you within its rhythm and soon you were humming along with the melancholy tone. You didn't recognize the language, but you repeated the words you heard. The slow pace made the words easy to reproduce and before long you had made the song jump back to the start and were prepared to sing along. "Valentine is done, Here but now they're gone. Romeo and Juliet, Are together in eternity." You nod your head along, fingers drumming to the song as you become absorbed by it. The more you think about it the more you wish to learn about the past. You wondered how old the song was, but it had switched to another classical composition and before long you returned your attention to the yellow pages. The early chapters mostly cover what few morsels of truth could be gleamed in the aftershocks and shade of The Fall. The shattering of the west of Europa, the Red Himalayas and the Silent echoes from space. During the Gap numerous ethnically Eskarrian fiefdoms had banded together to insure the preservation of their people. But even when the book was written much was still left unclear. The rise, the founding of the The New Eskarrian Empire was a deadly one. Bathed in the blood of the Forty Elysian Kings, the Wei Dynasty, the Eastern and Southern collection of Tribes and Techno Cults. The book was written entirely in the alien language. Despite the nagging headache that burrowed into your brain you continued to read through it. A few key quotes striking you deep. "The Blood of Eskarria flows from the mountains and her sons."Small conflicts and the act of entire noble houses being purged from existence were commonplace at the time as conflict grew wild. Law and right becoming untamed. Man became Beast. Much of the writing was about peoples and cities you had never heard of, it took a while before the first instance brought him up. It did little to reveal his past, but painted the world he would have grown up in. At this point in time The Half Soul, a retainer of Young Princess Yugasava, fought in her honor at the reclamation of the city Oynsk . Despite his victory in the duel over the prince Sabatsin. The loyal garrison of troops refused to comply and the situation escalated into a siege. The Era was pitched with endless engagement as various houses and factions vied for power. It was the seizing of Oynsk that would trumpet in the rise of Yugasava Eeska Petoff Romanov to Empress. But a few years remained before she would successfully declare the birth of the Eskarrian Empire and be forced to fight for its very survival.
>>5304033You didn't notice sleep sweep you into her clutches. From the words on the page you fell into an endless pit. The pressure building as you tumble. You were back within the Waking Nightmare. The world trembles as grimy slate clouds above rain down white hot strands of fire and lightning. Greasy pale paint of a sort, a type of rain never witnessed before. The by-product of war. A million falling stars poking polka dot points of nothingness onto the palette of the land. Searing out whatever still lived within the glass towers before you. Back cast like black bile on a pale papyrus, the shadows of souls jig and saunter, squirming themselves into powder, grounded and pounded firmly into a paste as the buildings buckled under direct strikes.A Gilded Phobos lay crumpled at your feet, Umbral Core scattered across the low yellow grass of the valley you stood within, onyx crystals lathered with chunks of matter. Steaming hot meat. A roar went up around you, reflectively you primed your duelling blade. The hypersonic spike thrumbing to life as LO and HI comms alike burst into taunts and screams. Oynsk hadn't seen enough blood, so she demanded more. No matter how blue. "Scream you bastards! Scream and bring them bloody death. True eternal death within the shroud of the machine. Shatter their minds upon the stones that shall build our Imperium. Render their women barren and their land scarred. Butcher their children to feed our own, rip their very roots up whole and carry them home!" The words were hard and coarse. It took you a moment to recognize them as your own. Crawling from your raw gravel laden throat with a roar. A tremendous choir taken up by the warriors around you.
>>5304035 You wake up with a start, a painful jolt spreading down your neck as you do. A knock on your door rouses you further from sleep. With a groan you limp your way over pins and needles, balancing o n sleeping legs. Opening the door you find a fresh faced Haruki watching down at your hunched over shape. Her face was pensive, it earned a sigh from you. The girl was obviously worrying about your condition. "Morty, I was starting to worry… Trouble sleeping?" You squeak out a nod, expecting your head to creak like an ancient door. Thankfully it didn't snap off at the sudden movement. "I may have overdone it during Phobos training…" You reply with a mix of embarrassment and pride. A small smirk spreading across your lips, the tall girl's face shifted. Relief calming her creased brow. Her hands find a way onto her hips as her stance becomes more commanding. "You need to sweat it out. Neural network lethargy is best countered with exercise… so get dressed and let's go!" You balk, not quite feeling up to the challenge. But under the girl's sharp and stalwart eyes you second guess speaking up. Rewarding her with a nod you headed inside to find a loose set of exercising clothes. Practically falling into a Tracksuit the other pilot took your hand and hauled you away. "Shouldn't we eat first?" You protest weakly, the beast of a woman only gives you a sharp grin. "It's better if you don't. Not for what I've got planned anyway…" You gulped in terror, finally at the mercy of Haruki. The day burns. Under the glint of artificial light you keep pace with the lanky pilot, the sweat along her body glistening. Highlighting the shades in her tone, accentuating the ridges and grooves of her right muscular body. You die. Again and again your body wishes to give in but she doesn't let you. On water and electrolytes alone you are fueled a grueling machine of sets and reps. As you are led through a plethora of exercises. She loves every moment, making sure to rub in your lackluster pace, goading you with just how superior she was. "Keep it up Morty!" Haruki jeers as her long legs snap out and meet your forearms. Snatching out you try to grab her. To close the gap against her stupidly long reach. But she danced away, spinning out a heel kick that you smoothly duck under. You'd forgotten just how agile she was. Pressing the attack you sweep low, but your own short limbs lose momentum as they collide with the girl's retreating body. "You telegraph too much, I'm not that little girl anymore Morty. Try pulling those punches and you ought to get hurt!" You roll your eyes in annoyance as she escapes your assault of punches. Hopping away as she does. A devious and animalistic glaze over her eyes. Both focused on you intently, devouring every minute action. She matches you, shifting from foot to foot as you do, trying to throw off any anticipation. "Enough. Let's mix it up!" She declares dropping her hunched over fighting stance and standing tall.
>>5304039 You take the moment to thank the gods and catch a breath or two. Heading right towards your bottle of water, Ruki barely gives you time to swallow two mouthfuls before tossing an object your way. Spotting it just in your peripheral vision, body moving on its own your fingers close around the object deftly and soon your eyes follow. It was a knife, the training weapon dull and spongy. But it was still firm enough to give someone a good walloping with. She wanted to mix it up alright. Springing across the padded floor Haruki came in quick, knife held out it didn't hamper her pace, twisting through the air you back pedaled around her slashes, thrusting in to counter and warn off her own long stabs. She kept you on the back foot as you fought to win the upper hand, you threw in a few kicks to catch her by surprise and instead the girl incorporated her own style further and before long had you backing into the wall. Breathing raggedy like a beast, sweat stings your eyes, ears buzz a full tone as you falter. Haruki moves in for the kill, glee plastered across her face. But you weren't done, without warning your body moves, your mind following just a step behind. Your blades kiss, rolling down until the guards lock. She followed up with her spare hand sending out a straight punch that would have left you reeling. You dodge it, her wrist and forearm simply sliding along your wet face. You hook your left foot around her own as your weight and momentum carries you forward. Your bodies meet next. Your own lower force knocks her tall frame off balance. Taking her to the ground you drive your own spare hand around her throat and pin her neck to the floor. And for a moment you both freeze. Chest drumming a wild haphazard beat as lungs worked the air into your blood. Her eyes were wide in shock. Your whole body felt numb, the final shreds of strength giving away as you fell onto her. Every fiber of your being focusing on fighting to breathe as steam danced up from your boiling body. She was deceivingly soft. "I'm sorry Ruki, I'm sorry I forgot so much. I wish I could remember. I remembered the stretches we did as children, for motion and lateral calibration… I'm working on it…" you mumbled, resting your head against her chest. Unsure if her deafening heartbeat or your own allowed the words to be heard. The girl's arms coil around you tightly as she hugs you. "They are splitting us up again already…" She croaked out, her own voice weak. You enjoyed the moment, the sweat and the strain in your muscles unable to lessen being in her embrace. Unbecoming of your brave display, with arm over shoulder Haruki ends up totting you most of the way back to the Pilot's quarters. "We might have overdone it a little…" The Pilot declared with a smile. You joined her in laughing, the sixth or seventh bout might have crossed the line, but you were making up for missed time.
>>5304041You had almost completely forgotten something, your mind overwhelmed with stimulation that you had forgotten the gift you had gotten the girl. With the shower howling for you, you rushed to pull it from its bag. The stuffed dinosaur, it felt heavier than it had any right to. But it wasn't yours. "Haruki? I've got something for you." The taller pilot was leaning against your desk, tablet in hand as she checked out your new device. The sight of the plushie left the girl rigid. "You bought that for me?" Replying while closing the gap and taking up the small thing you held out. Her lips trembled as she took a deep breath, a sniffle following as she examined the toy. "Yeah, it's just..." You start as a low laugh that warps into a sob, escapes the girl as she crosses the distance and takes you into another hug. Instinctively your hands find a way around her, even if the height difference left you stretching a bit. "Thank you." Haruki whimpers, a kiss on the cheek following her words. Unsure how to react, you simply hug the girl. "God, you smell." She eventually added with another sniffle before pulling away. With a tearless goodbye you rush into the shower. Sitting under the downpour to the best of your current ability. The last day dawned without any fanfare, before you were going to ship off to specialist training you planned on saying your goodbyes to the few people you considered friends and more importantly your brothers in arms. Waking up later than usual you aren't surprised to find the boys eating breakfast. Anthony, Alexander and Dimitri. You exchange nods as you go and grab a tray of food before joining them. "And where have you been all this time? Don't tell me that Girl has something to do with it! You know how your mother feels!" Alex teased. You roll your eyes. "I've been working my ass off getting ready." Dimitri nods his affirmation. "For real, me too man, I'm sure there will be no privacy to bust one out. And I don't want any floating around with me in my core." Tony cringes in disgust, you pause from eating and Alex only chuckles. "Don't give me that look, I'm not gonna wank in some muddy foxhole." You can't help smirking. The idea hadn't crossed your mind, you'd been a little distracted. Between mouthfuls of food the lads catch you up on what they have been up to. Alex and Tony had been practicing further with their Phobos Units. Tentatively testing the link after their exposure to Anastasia's emotional eruption. Reforming the Neurological pathways that had been burned or broken by the sudden exposure. You empathize with the brothers. But strangely enough beside your initial hesitation you couldn't help feeling like the event had solidified the bond between you and the alien battle suit. Oddly enough, it wasn't something you could really explain. The hint of a feeling, the whiff of an epiphany. Dimitri spent himself out in the city living it up. Scrounging up odd bits and ends.
>>5304043A lot of technical tech stuff that you weren't familiar with. "Important stuff!" The Youth clarified. "I need to put things in order, we are getting shipped out tomorrow. I don't have the luxury to spend my days galavanting with pretty girls." Tony rolls his eyes next and you grin smugly. "Well I guess it's a lifestyle for us pretty boys." You rebut nodding sagely at your philosophical deduction. With not much in the way of plans you wander the halls as each boy eventually goes their own separate ways. Dimitri to conduct more of his "Bidniss", Tony had a date with Lucy and Alex was going to spend as much time in his Phobos as possible. Strolling up and down the hallways of the Pilot's floor it didn't take long to find the next batch of comrades. Prince Peter, Duchess Katarina and the Grand Duke are waiting by a service elevator as you approach. "Oh, Corporal Mortimer. What a pleasant surprise, we haven't had the chance to chat since you and the clone girl had that tiff. I'm glad to see you in tip top condition." Kat's cousin didn't waste any time. He let out a haughty chortle. Kat and the Grand Duke watch you. The girl did not bother to hide her disapproval and the younger boy seemed unfazed by your presence. "Corporal I must say. Very impressive display. A damn good showing man, I saw the condition those pilots were in and of course the condition you left her in. You, Theta candidates are made out of some truly stern stuff, now you should have snuffed that little monstrosity out when you had the chance… But alas, hindsight is twenty twenty. How can I be of service today? Or perhaps you were here looking for someone else in particular?" The Prince pivoted and shot the dark haired girl a knowing look, thin eyebrows dancing up and down. The nobility were an odd bunch, but for the moment you put aside any preconceptions to simply survive talking to them. They weren't an easy duo to get along with. However the Duke was an Enigma to you. "I just wanted to touch base, wasn't sure if I'd get the chance tomorrow. Everything is starting to pick up." The young man nodded his understanding. "Ah yes. I did hear you had chosen Espionage and Reconnaissance along with Long Range Engagement training. Very fitting for that Rapier type. I'm sure the institute facility within The Hole has prepared you well for both… How interesting. I myself have been preparing for the coming coronation, I'm sure it is not a shock to you that I will be having quite a key role in the proceedings. I'll be with the Household Guard. Yes, you know the very best Phobos Pilots the empire can offer will see to training me…" You weren't sure what you had expected, the prince obviously wasn't gonna be kicking mud with the rest of you peasants. "Wow, that sounds excellent."
>>5304048The Prince puffed up his chest. "Yes, obviously. So I'm sure you'll be very understanding when I share with you that we will be exceptionally busy today and unfortunately do not have the time to make chit chat like a pair of hens." The Prince faked a sorrowful expression, one that turns to happy surprise as the elevator chime sounds and the doors open. "Until we cross paths again Corporal! I'll be rooting for you!" The Prince declared boldy as he ushered the other two pilots into the elevator. "Yeah, you too." You replied quickly, watching them file in. The barbed tongue of the female one lashes out. "You look like shit Mortimer." You shrug, replying in a calm tone. "Thank you Kat, as charming as always…" The girl flicks you the bird as the elevator doors close, the other two pilots fire off snazzy salutes. You do the same. Unsure what to do, you settle on doing nothing. Absent-mindedly you stroll the hallways, skirting your way around until you are on the outer corridors. Enjoying the vast horizons through the glass paneling. The clouds had rolled in thick today, sparing the city rain or snow but casting the towers and roadways in an impenetrable fog. But thick neon and LED glow of signs and adverts made the haze move and warble. Almost as if some massive monstrosity of capitalism swam among the cloudy ocean. It reminded you of The Hole. Almost a soothing feeling as you stood and reflected upon the twisting stormfront of grey. The rest of the day is spent listening to music as you pack up the small set of belongings you thought would be important to bring along. Besides the clothes and tablet. Your bag was mostly empty. In the midst of singing along to another catchy song you were interrupted by a knock at your door. Ruki regarded you with pursed lips. "Take it!" The young woman declared as she pulled something from a small plastic bag and thrust it into your hands. The girl blushed before pivoting and walking off at a brisk pace. She practically ran away. Leaving you in awe with a small dinosaur plush like the one you had given her. Closing the door you set the plushie down on the desk. It watches over you as you continue and occasionally dance out of time to the music. Hours pass as you finish and without any other plans are about to rest when another knocking comes to your door. Blushing a little, you rush over to let Haruki in. "You didn't have to…" You start as the door opens, but you freeze as your eyes recognize the dour Lady Katerina. "Oh!" You stammered a little unsure by the sudden arrival.
>>5304050The girl pushes you aside as she barges her way into your room and finds a seat on your bed. "What did you want?" She asks pointedly, overflowing with impatience, staring at you coldly. Both arms folded across her meager chest, you know to avoid looking there. "Well I like what I said. I just wanted to say hello before training started." She made you feel uncomfortable, never sure what she might get up to. "I also got you something!" Hurrying over to the small bag from your shopping spree you produce the other stuffed toy you had purchased. The girl keeps her face emotionless as you hand over the hedgehog. She didn't take it so you simply place it on her lap. Katarina let out a sharp exhale before laughing from deep in her throat. "Really? Are you a fucking idiot or something?" The Girl's voice was a mix of joy and hatred. It left you uncertain of how to react. Everything was hard to understand. So you stood there sheepishly. The hedgehog bounces off your face, surprising you once more. "Piss off Morty!" The Duchess declared as she scooped the stuffed toy up off the ground and stormed out of the room. Slamming the door without another word. All in all. It hadn't gone as badly as you had estimated, but it definitely wasn't something you'd consider a win. Releasing a breath you hadn't noticed holding you fall onto the bed and turn to address the Dinosaur council, the patriarch of plastic and the newly sworn in patriarch of plush watch back at you with dead and ruthless eyes. Commonplace for reptilian killing machines like themselves. Three natural born killers exchanged knowing glances. "Well, things are going to get rougher. But we can make it through!" You say, failing to force the words to seem bold. Thankfully the toys didn't respond and you hurried to pack them away.
>>5304052No dreams hound you this night, but the banging on your door comes early. Before the sun you rise. Sleep but a disappointing instant. "I'm coming!" You call out, opening the door to find a monstrosity of an artificial muscular system stretched over a metallic frame. Waking up to a nightmare. Or so you assume, the body that stood before you was a hunched and frightful thing. Coated in a rubber and carbon fiber sheath the human-like creation wore the synthetic skin in a mocking way. Standing tall on free toed feet, digitigrade legs bent upwards and met a hefty swollen body, lined with simple reinforced joints and plating that mimicked a Phobos. Smooth and shiny it lacked the artistic focus you had witnessed on his other bodies before. A simple white skull littered with observation lens encased within a ballistic case regarded you. You gave the mechanical being a weary look. "Ova-Kommanda?" You ask, praying the thing wasn't some enemy government's kill bot. "Guten Morgen Herr Mortimer! My utmost apology for such an ungottly intrusion. Entschuldigen Sie. I only confirmed the time of departure at the last moment and hadn't the time to pass along further information. Excuse my presumption, but I believe you would be ready without my guidance…" The artificial voice was a little different, but shared the same sing-songy accent the man had. The grating tone more than usual, the tinny voice modules seemed far more reinforced than the delicate audio projectors on his more lithe doubles. It reminded you of the external speakers back at The Hole. But you weren't from The Schulz & Wagner Group, you simply assumed that conclusion from the audio quality. The combat doll watches you, lens shifting focus in and out with only the softest whirring sounds. "Ah yes, this body! A sturdy frame suited for more rigorous activities than my display shells. It'll make accompanying you more convenient." You nod your understanding, sleep heavy on your eyelids still. In truth you were almost relieved, falling out of routine was such a drastic change that any slight felt new. The Over-Marshal wasn't wrong and soon you were following the hulking body. Watching the world painted under low light, the sky turning from a dull dark realm and mixing into the faint steel like tone of the ever encroaching sun. Even in the facility life scampered around like mice this early, descending into the ministry's maze. You share your opinion with your superior as you trail along, trying your best to not allow an awkward silence to creep on. But Herr Stumpfegger was always eager to chat, sharing his excessive knowledge about each song. Even after just listening to your poorly hummed tunes. The morning is cold, a blast of wind lashing you as you sink deeper into the base than you had ever been.
>>5304053Far below the streets you had explored and down into the under-city. Right into the heart. A massive cargo bay was littered with men, machines moving long crates and vehicles. Security forces armed and alert. They don't move to stop you, their eyes focusing more on the bipedal death machine that led you. The space was cyclopean, the colossal Interior a overwhelming expanse. Even birds swooped and chirped high above. The walls seemingly climb up above forever, vanishing into gloom. Only sporadically being illuminated by drones or warning lights. It stretched out further, beyond any estimation. You began to wonder just how far down you were. Either end of the station area was open to the elements, cold wind carrying with it the smell of the gutter and putrid chemical exhausts. Railway tracks creep out into Kahva, the silver lines glittering wetly as rain pours in through open bay doors. You were so far under the city the idea of rain seemed unlikely, for all you knew it was more likely to be run off from cooling systems or other industrial machines above. Ten rows of large curved nosed trains sat nestled within the massive space, it was an impressive sight. The station hummed with life as men, women and machines in high visibility jackets worked to load, unload, check, recheck, unsecure and re-secure cargo. Even in The Something Wicked It would take you a few good minutes to run from one end to the other. "Impressive, No? We'll be riding on the Stava Military Line. She is called the Vilhena IV Express. It is the third train along, but first we will have to load your Phobos." As if by some untold fold of luck or perfect planning as the robotic words reach you one of the gargantuan walls nearest to you begins to wail, followed with a loud hiss and numerous pops as the wall begins to slide apart. A long crease suddenly forming in the once seamless material. You saw your weapon, painted a sandy gold by the strobing emergency lighting. Something Wicked was held between multiple docking arms that fastened down onto a towable base. Secure for transportation the Xeno construction was hauled by heavy duty moving vehicles, large eight wheeled haulers. Behind the Rapier type you can only just make out another Phobos waiting its turn in the gloom to be loaded up. The Over-Marshal waves to the drivers and operators as most of the staff come to a halt, waiting and watching the large combat suit move across the station platform. Herr Stumpfegger leads you across a metal walkway and onto the long armoured train. Through multiple hatched doorways you walk, the crew and staff regarding you with salutes.
>>5304056Past numerous bulkheads and various technical stations, eventually you reached the proper interior. The militaristic aesthetic being replaced by aged wood panelling and rich carpets. Men and women dressed with fine suits and bow ties were alre ady tending to the other passengers. Dishing out complimentary drinks and wide smiles by the dozens. High ranking Officers, Ministry agents and their families watch you walk by, whispers sparking at the sight of your beret and Herr Stumpfegger. Before anyone could muster the courage to address you the Over-Marshal gestures for you to enter a cabin. The lacquered wood finish made the small and cozy room resemble something out of a fairy tale. You were almost disappointed after noticing it had no fireplace. Two small beds hugged each wall and a single long window allowed in light, but the curtain had been drawn for privacy. Timidly you put your bag down, unsure of what else to do. You were a fish out of water once again, clamming up. For a moment you wished Mistress Yuga was with you, surprised by your own longing. The strange emotions left you even more off kilter. You had never felt homesick before. However, your commanding officer seemed unbothered by your reserved attitude. Or so his emotionless and downright imposing body conveyed as much standing menacingly in the doorway. You highly doubted he'd be sleeping in the other bed, you made a mental note to inquire further about the synthetic man even needing sleep. Maybe he had a charging pod somewhere on the locomotive or perhaps he could plug into any socket for power. The digital vocalization of Herr Stumpfegger's combat body cut through your wayward thoughts, trying his best to sound sincere. "Before we start, I want to reassure you, Herrr Mortimer, that I have the greatest expectations of you and aim to support your growth as a Pilot. My own research requires us to conquer the boundaries of the Phobos and without any reservations I'm sure we can both agree that you'll play a pivotal role in that act. Gott will es, mein Junge!" You were a little dumbfounded by the rather sudden reveal, but the news didn't leave you with any misbegotten feelings. You nod, overwhelmed by his truth. The lack of sleep is not helping. The smooth head nodded back at you, metal fingers clincing together as they interlock. "Well then, what training course do you wish to proceed with first?">What do you do, Pilot?>Well Pilot, where do you wish to start?>Espionage and Reconnaissance Training?>Long Range Engagement Training?
>>5304058>Current Character Sheet. Name: MortimerRank: CorporalRenown: Prize of the Theta Project.Pilot of the Emperor Class R-Type Phobos "Something Wicked"Current Stats:Mind: 13Body: 21Skill: 36Smarts: 11Sanity: 80Abilities:[Veil Breach!] AP 1Social Standing:Katerina: 15.0 Alexander: 20Anthony: 20Castilla: 10Yiva: 5.0Sophia: 5.0Lucy: 5.0Brigitta: 8.5Anastasia: 25Haruki: 50 Dimitri: 20 Grisha: 12.5 Suranovich: 8 Francheska: 8
>>5304058>>Espionage and Reconnaissance TrainingLet us be nimble like the proverbial mongoose.
>>5304058>What do you do, Pilot?Ask the Over Marshal if it would be a good idea to mingle with the other people on the carriage.>Espionage and Reconnaissance Training?First learn how to look and then one can learn how to find.
>>5304058>>Espionage and Reconnaissance Training?that 80 sanity
>>5304145+1Time to mingle.
>>5304077>>5304145>>5304213>>5305660"Espionage and Reconnaissance Training sounds like a good start." You reply while giving the cabin a closer look. It contained a discrete kettle, and tea tray. Various snacks from chocolates to biscuits were laid out on display. The small room didn't have much in the way of space, but you'd make do. It was your first time on a train and despite the daunting environment you were also excited. You wanted to explore, pulling the curtains aside and the sun shines in through what you thought was a window. Instead of the platform and station staff you were looking out into a scenic valley. In the distance snow capped mountains rose to grasp for the newly rising sun. A field of wild dandelions shone brilliantly under the early morning rays. "Exterior windows would compromise the integrity of the high security carriage. High value personnel such as ourselves are often targets for assinadtion and kidnapping. If you wish to view outside you'd have to transition down into a less secure car" Herr Stumpfegger explained.You weren't sure how to feel about the news, realizing you might be one of those high value targets made you worry. Everything was becoming more and more complicated. "Over-Marshal, am I allowed to explore the rest of the train?" You inquire, the prospect of being stuck inside a cabin for the entire ride was a dark one. Even with the false view. The combat body tilted its head at the words. "Of course Herr Mortimer, you have the clearance. I would allow that, but I'd appreciate it if you avoided drinking any excessive amounts of alcohol or drawing in undue attention. This isn't a holiday." The voice was calm and as nonchalant as an artificial tone could come across as. It didn't help that a death machine was depositing the information. It looked like it would be more natural howling in madness while carving through a battlefield. Your superior leaves you with a Clearance pass and to get settled in, expressing his own interest at seeing the Anti-gravitational Engines in action up close. Once comfortable you regard the pair of dinosaurs to collect your courage. Hugging the plushy before resting it on your bed before pocketing the plastic one and stepping out of the cabin. Looking around the bustling carriage, the long walkway stretched down far beyond a few hundred meters or so. On one side you could recognize the common area you had walked past already. it was littered with passengers now as more flowed in and moved about. Before you have a moment to assess the situation further a woman approaches you. Wearing the matching simple suits as the other train attendants. She speaks, offering you a small mint for some reason. "Can I help you?"
>>5305909Hesitantly you take the sweet, and ask for directions. The possibility of the small treat being a trap did blossom in your mind, you put it aside for the moment. The woman cheerfully explains the four classes of carriage available while also suggesting you stay in first class. Second and third were saved for other military personnel, officers and the lowly troops being ferried from base to base and the fourth was for civilians with cleanrece. Working professionals with government ties. She had described the areas with more kind words, but you manage to deduce her meanings. Then there were forty carriages of cargo and other important materials. The foremost and final were both Anti-gravitational anchoring cars and were highly sensitive. But not entirely off limits. Without anything else to offer the concierge moved onto the next passenger, but not before producing a leaflet that showed a simple diagram of the Vilhena IV Express. >What do you do, Pilot?>Explore the First class Carriages?>Explore the Second class Carriages?>Explore the Third class Carriages?>Explore the Forth class Carriages?>Investigate the Cargo Carriages?>Investigate the first anchor point?>Investigate the last anchor point?>Do something else?
>>5305910>What do you do, Pilot?Ask her which food she recomends.>Explore the First class Carriages?>Explore the Second class Carriages?Learning about important persons and future officers.>Explore the Third class Carriages?Hang out with a few grunts.
>>5305929This sounds good
>>5305929>>5306495>>5306552Before the attendant got too far away you inquired about any recommended food the train serves. The attendant quickly turns to address you, a hand traveling up to her chin and she rubbed it in thought. You got the notion that she already knew what to reply with. "Well the Chicken Caesar salad is always popular, the Romaine lettuce is grown in real clean earth without any trace of chemical pesticides or residual radiation. The Chicken is hand reared and free from any industrial strength steroids. The Parmesan cheese is made by the finest craftsmen of the Roman Empire. Each wheel aged for five years within their marble vaults and you can't forget The chef's secret sauce." The response came off as well practiced, the words flowing elegantly. You thank her before beginning your investigation. The Carriage was settling down as you walked up and down the aisle, before you could react you were hurried down towards the far end. The flow of passengers and their assistants carrying hand luggage propelling you forward against your will. Feeling too shy to speak up you just went with the flow, eavesdropping in on a few fleeting conversations as you went. Yuri was having an affair with his personal trainer, Boris caught the Lunar Plague from some street meat and Burchi Industries was dumping stock. Further down the car was composed of cabins mostly like your own, but as the tide of people thinned you found yourself passing by even larger rooms as the distance between each door grew and grew. You manage to peek into one, holding open the sliding door as an attendant struggles to haul heavy luggage in. The spacious abode was practically ten times the size of your own, a large and golden hewn four poster bed sat in the far end. It was about the same space as your cabin by itself. A long billiards table and various aged wooden furniture were purposefully placed around the room. A bar sat in one corner with a large and historic looking art fixture on the wall behind it. Painted in classical oils it shows a scene of two armies clashing. Finding your way back around to the common area you end up passing by a handful of fanciful dressed men and women. The elaborate and distinct style of the upper echelons of society. You are far from accustomed to seeing them, they stood out like characters from fantasy novels. A few even donned animal fur capes. The designs clashing against the more strict and plain military uniforms.
>>5307014In contrast the dress coats heavy with medals jingle as you make way onwards, meeting the eyes of ancient officers. Scraggly and wizened War-Marshals and the top of the Senior Commissariat, men who had served the empire for decades. The fellows regard you with stern eyes but nod their acknowledgment. Firing off a spiffy salute you wait for them to pass to avoid bumping shoulders. Those within the common area had changed since you last saw it. Most of the passengers were gone, either in other cars or in their cabins you weren't sure. But the amount was fewer as even the attendants began to complete jobs elsewhere. The first person to catch your eye had already noticed you. He was a pilot, you could tell innately. For a moment you thought [spoilers]She[/spoilers] whispered inconceivable words into your ear. Somehow you knew he could tell you were a pilot as well. Your intuition left a hollow feeling growing in your stomach as your eyes aligned. His orbs were grey and cloudy. Blue and red veins raised and noticeable around his eyelids. Distinct against his pale limelike skin. He was a few years older than you, he had forgone his uniform for an unkempt suit. However he had a black beret resting on his lap. Hastily turning away from the young man you spot a pair of young children, loudly they were discussing something you couldn't make out. Wearing simple clothes they sit side by side and while a man with a receding hairline reads a newspaper beside them. In the furthest corner two individuals stuck out just as much as the others. Both are middle aged women, one with dark amber hair and the other black with greying roots. Crows' feet and tired eyes shared equally between the pair. A bottle of dark scotch rests on the table alongside two iconic Vasilisa KV pistols. The Ministry issue firearms for active agents. Topped up glasses were clenched between their black gloved hands, watching out the nearest window the duo were busy talking softly. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you Say? Write in?>Talk to the Blind Pilot?>Talk to the Man and two children?>Talk to the two Ministry agents?>Do something else?
>>5307016>What do you do, Pilot?Calmly scan the area for hostile persons.>Talk to the Blind Pilot?Our traditional Howdy and acquintancing.
>>5307016>>Talk to the Blind Pilot?>>Talk to the Man and two children?
>>5307016>Talk to the Blind Pilot?Black Beret? Coincidence, or former graduate of one of the projects?Either way, it's great to see this on the board again. Hell, if it didn't show up in a bit I was considering taking some of the inspiration and trying to make a spinoff from the distant past, but I'll settle for the real deal!
>>5307068>>5307578>>5307893Grim sensation strums along your flayed nerves, you scan the area watching for any threat. But the source of the discomfort had yet to turn his gaze elsewhere. Throughout your meandering he watches, blinded orbs glistening under the warm interior lights. You settle on approaching the blind pilot, finding your eyes avoiding his own. Yet they meet again and again. It was unbearable, forcing you to speak up and confront him in any way. "How-" You start, hands clenching as just speaking threatens to bring up bile from within. His own words are sharp, cutting yours down mid sentence. "It's Oracle." His voice was deeper than you had expected, coarse against the grim serenity that washed his sallow visage. Stunned, your brain felt like it had been slapped. It took a moment for a reply to escape your lips, just long enough for you to swallow down your sloshing hesitation. "Ah, excuse me?" The other pilot continues to stare you down, the grey portals empty and deep. You shift from foot to foot. "My call sign. I'm the pilot of the Prince Class S-Type Phobos, Bitter Lobo." The Oracle states flatly. Trying to side step his watch you reply "Oh, I see. It is nice to meet you. I don't have a call sign. I'm Corporal Mortimer. Pilot of the Emperor Class R-Type, Something Wicked." You did the boy the same courtesy. Being upfront and exchanging the information freely. The oily surface costing your feelings split apart, the truth clearing the air between you. Or simply sweeping the partial stifled tension under the rug. The boy couldn't hide his shock, it made you grin. You doubted he saw. His curdled eyes follow you without missing a beat anyway, widening desperate to let in a thread of light. "I don't recognize the name, You aren't in service yet? Still in training..." Oracle spoke wistfully as he nodded, those worthless eyes trying desperately to reveal something more. The older pilot taps on the sofa he rests seemingly inviting you. The lack of restraint was a little unsettling. You find a seat, leaving a nice and reasonable amount of space between you both. The sour feeling never left. The older boy starts up before any conversation ideas bloom in your head. "You don't carry yourself as a novice would… You give yourself away. A novice would never have approached me. What do you think of that? Corporal Mortimer." The blind pilot smirks as though he knew something you didn't. His slim face gave away little. As your mind mulls on his words the pilot reaches out, you almost jump at the well conducted movement. Like silk his elegance was frightfully smooth. Expecting a thumbling touch his hand halts just before your beret. "May I?" You nod. Mouth failing to find the words. The Oracle didn't react and you felt even worse. "Go ahead." Delicately he plucks the hat free. Slowly tracing the unit badge with his thumb, with his other hand he offered you his own.
>>5308421The metallic icon displays a twin headed snake coiling around itself to form a braided knot before finally consuming its own twin tails. "Ouroboros Project… Theta?" The young man mumbles softly, toying the hat back and forth. "Sole scion? Protege? Prize Child? I don't recognize your project branch. That's a typical sign of a newly developed integration practice. Well?" The pilot turned his attention finally away from you, staring blankly off into the distance. Eyes you swore had yet to blink still open, just looking at them made your eyeballs itch. The feeling never completely leaves. Being so close left you feeling faintly nauseous. His aura is bleak, you were unsure how else to describe it. Sitting next to him you swore the shadows hardened and the lights dimmed. "Yes. I believe so." Mistress Yuga hadn't explained much, but one thing was clear. She only wanted the best, you just happened to be it. Whether she made you that way or if you had been born with it, well that was up to some contention. "You've been bloodied… didn't you hear me, no novice would have approached me. You've been there haven't you? The Lightless Lake. Can't you taste it? You stink just as bad as I do. Bathed in the black. They are below…" Oracle gnaws his lips as he talks, his words little more than riddles. You feel sick, a cold sweat breaking across your brow. You didn't understand him. Not all of it anyway. You weren't sure what he meant. Thinking how to respond only results in you breathing hard, nostrils flaring as a pressure builds up. Phantoms find their hands on your body, sinking through cloth and flesh. Grasping you by the bones, you jump occasionally without little prompting. The world grows darker and darker. Sinking further and further. Turning to spot the perpetrator you see nothing, fleeting breath on your neck reassuring your assumption. She was watching.
>>5308422"I'm not a novice." You hiss through gritted teeth. The other pilot hummes in thought, drumming his fingers along the leather seat. "The Vilhena IV, what brings you here? Training? An Emperor Class… Rapier type, you must be completing reconnaissance training and development. Correct? Yes, the Hole. I see." You sat contemplating edging further away from the young man as he answered himself. The boy smoothly exchanges the berets, while you sit there thinking about what else to say. You'd spent too long alone. You were accustomed to talking to normal pilots, Oracle wasn't giving off any sort of vibe beyond strange. You felt a kinship with him, the thought, a cold one that burns as it settles into your mind. Sinking into a neuron swamp, thoughts threatening to misfire. "You're right. I'm still in training… I'll be graduating before the upcoming coronation ceremony." The Pilot sucked in air hard, revelations revealed. "She wants some shiny new Emperor Class Pilots to show off. Can't you smell it? The blood and steel, I see it. In my violent dreams, fanatic and wild. Death. Are you ready?" You watch Oracle, trying to read his calm features. >What do you do, Pilot?>Talk to Oracle?Write in? >Talk to someone else?>Do something else?
>>5308424>What do you do, Pilot?Try to take control of the situation or at the very least know what is going on.>Talk to Oracle?Write in?I can see why you sit on your Lonesome.How do you pry all that stuff out of me?It's in the name Oracle isn't it?
>>5308424>Talk to Oracle?Write in?Not the first mind-reader I've run into. You're certainly better than the other one, though.I don't suppose you could dredge up anything past my last couple of years? Can't do it myself, you see.Long shot, but if he can poke deeper than surface thoughts, could be another avenue to explore for keeping hold or retrieving lost memories. I know, there's a good argument that trying to befriend psychics usually ends in a miserable experience, because they can see right through lies and poke into people's deepest secrets.Then again, if he can't peer into repressed memories, we're kind of an open book, lacking pages with secrets. And he could be a potential comrade on the battlefield if we're deployed together, or at least an interesting pen pal if we're not.
>>5308424Howdy OP, good to see you return.>Talk to Oracle?Write in? The lightless lake is likely the fifth layer we went into.Can say something like “Death comes for all, we must be patient.” and try to lighten the mood and ask about him (take control of the conversation) “It’s clear why your call sign is Oracle.” If we’ve seen what symbol is on his beret can we ask more about where/what he trained, where he has been stationed, where he is going etc[Image is AI generated from https://huggingface.co/spaces/dalle-mini/dalle-mini, using prompt “Man in unkempt suit sitting on train holding black beret”. It might not match your intended aesthetic but you can create some weird stuff with horror vibes from it- and similar tools]
>>5308482I support this write in. >>5309457/tv/ has clearly given me terminal brain poisoning, I thought this was CIA getting manhandled until I blew up the thumbnail.
>>5308461>>5308482>>5309752>>5310853If an outsider happened to be watching the convocation unfold they would most likely simply see two young men lounging comfortably within the affluent first class train car. The simple mind of those unbound wouldn't be able to witness the grim miasma clouded space. The dark haze that seemingly blankets over the simple exchange of words.You felt them stir. Both of them. Unsure if they were conscious or simple creatures of instinct. The words rouse them. Your lips grew dry, hairs standing on end. Even the false display across the windows seems to bend to the will of the atmosphere. A light rain passing through the pristine landscape, droplets rolling down the pretend windows. You reply, accepting a constant in all life. “Death comes for all, we must be patient.” With a soft hiss and a jolt, you began to feel motion. The training moves slowly at first and then a voice came across the train. Projected through speakers you couldn't see. Addressing all those onboard, describe the destination and estimated arrival. But you ignore it, Oracle still focuses his attention on you. Your thoughts were uncoordinated. Maybe he could see what you couldn't. "No. It isn't that simple." The Pilot declares, you just watch him quizzically. "I can't help you with your memories." His tone didn't contain any hint of animosity, but the creases in his brow suggests the thought of it might be annoying him. “It’s clear why your call sign is Oracle.” You answer, trying to order your floating thoughts. "Ah. Unfortunately I never chose the name. If I had, I can tell you it would be something less cliche." You felt the pain, the name was surprisingly uninspired. Finally the other pilot looks away, resting back in his seat, those pale orbs turned to the ceiling. The force of motion increased ever so slightly as the train picked up speed, it was a faint feeling until the locomotive took a corner. Then you'd feel yourself lean as the train did. The windows reacted in kind and soon the picturesque scenery blurs.
>>5311884"Let me explain for you Morty. What someone offers is all I can take… It isn't a simple thing. The Mind, that is. Nothing more than a big mess. Six layers of memories, thoughts and emotions. A persistent storm. The tidal ebb and flow. Old treasures resurface with time. Debris breaks open on the shore of your mind and finally you see." His hands fumble with the beret on his lap, fingers tapping the icon of his unit. "Now imagine the mind of someone linked to a Phobos, the new pathways forged. One's own mind or mine cannot comprehend. Beyond biology. Synthetic? Spiritual? Yet it is still there. The foreign complex structure. Those others as well. I know you wouldn't be shocked to know what the storm within can haul to the surface. Places, people or things that aren't your own. Are they all just driftwood? Or something else?" Oracle twists in his seat, arm finding its way along the back of the sofa you shared. His eyes flicker over the duo in the corner, the words that come next are barely audible. Intended just for you. "Child killers, the pair of them. The scotch does nothing to hide the faces of those families they have cleansed. Dissidents from the highest city layers all the way down to those under tribes who have never glimpsed true sunlight. Nothing more than necessary purges." Despite your best effort you find yourself turning with him to watch those others present. From the corner of your eyes you peek, feinting chatting. "The Old man lost his son. His two children have both shown aptitude for Phobos synchronization. Perfect Latency feedback. He is paying a fortune to keep them out of the system, but can't afford both. He is already planning to abandon the girl." The other pilot finally returns his gaze to you, the blind eyes full of rage and hatred. No pity or benevolence can be found. You found yourself a little less certain, you hadn't seen into their minds. But if it was the truth, then you understood why it would be so damning. "If only we were so lucky right? Would you still be in those mountains? Would I be in some Rostovok slum? Maybe I would have my eyes and you, your family?" The words were dark things, blooming in your mind like black flowers on the side of a vast and barred mountain. Against the snow, wind and rain you kept yourself. Grasping tightly with your roots onto the nothing. You contemplate letting go, giving in and just allowing yourself to be cast into the expanse. But then you thought of Haruki and then the others you had met along the way. Your friends. They might not be what you had lost, but they were yours in the end.
>>5311886Oracle chuckles, a soft and sad thing. The emotions fell from his face until it was a blank slate again. Shaking his head the pilot interlocked his fingers together. "Birds of a feather… Learn this to be true Morty. We are all enemies in this world. Fighting to survive one another. In every aspect is battle. For every moment of mankind's existence is war." The older pilot stood up, dusting off imperceivable litter. Without thinking you do the same, placing your cap back into place and straightening it as your fellow did the same. "Some call it the base point. The Null or the Zero point. Those monikers may be less artistic or emotional than our own perceptions. When a mind dies and all synchronization is severed. 0.0 - where we should find nothing but death, some minds come back. Some of us see. Those damned few. What if a mind submerges the great waters? Your Starless Sea or my Lightless Lake. The Veil of individuality. The fetid thing below, the shared system. You are the sixth person I've ever met with the stain. Four of them are dead, one of those deaths I am responsible for." You didn't know how to react, Oracle spoke to the matter of fact. "I would lie if I claim I wasn't already interested in you. You're a strange creature, Child of Theta." He takes a step before motioning for you to follow.>What do you do, Pilot?>What do you Say? Write in?>Follow Oracle?>Stay put?>Talk to someone else?>Do something else?
>>5311889>What do you do, Pilot?Calmly collect ourselves.>Do something else?>Talk to the Man and two children?Try to support the man and his children. We were also taken against our will. Let's talk to them and see which one he has to "give up" has the highest chance of survival.
>>5311950>>5312997You don't move. Instead of being pulled along and swept up within Oracles words you close your eyes. Taking a deep breath, you fought through the lingering foulness. Laying your trembling muscles to rest, you feel the oily coating discarded with a layer of your mind. Raw and clean you return your gaze to the world. The older pilot watches you. His damned orbs impenetrable, you couldn't conceive his thoughts. You turn, watching across the carriage. Your eyes meet the young girl. She would find herself in the same situation you had been. Test after test. Trail and countless days of trauma. Broken long before she ever found herself on the battlefield. The young child never broke your gaze. Even against the boisterous words of her brother. You take another deep breath, through your teeth you try to filter the oxygen. It only left them feeling greasy. You swallow the hard air and advance on the old man and his grandchildren. To your surprise Oracle follows, without hesitating he keeps a slow pace matching your own from a handful of feet away. Observing you, like some wild animal. You wondered just how much he could parse from your mind. The older gentleman glances up as you step before the trio of family members. His eyes cautious. They linger on your face, reading whatever he could before flicking to the beret. Those old eyes harden. You notice them move onto the other pilot, Oracle keeping himself at a safe distance. Clearly unwilling to directly participate in your plan. Nevertheless he was interested in observing. "Hello! Who are you!" The boy cut through the friction. Pivoting on his seat he faced you with wide enamoured eyes, his sister was less certain. You wouldn't assume, but she seemed to understand what you were. Just like her grandfather her eyes focus on your beret. On the grim skull. You would do what you could, to help them. The older man did nothing beyond watching while you move, you take a knee. Addressing the two children face to face. "Howdy. I'm Corporal Mortimer, but you can just call me Morty." You would be lying if you didn't feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. These were normal children, something you once were. Their minds unmolested. You felt embarrassed, as if they had something you could never possess. It pained you to accept the thin sliver of jealousy within you. "Hello Morty, I am Mila. That begins with an M too ya know." The girl spoke up, seemingly coming out of her shell. "I'm Anton!" The boy spoke up loudly, clearly annoyed by his sister's brazen behavior.
>>5313342"Enough children… What do you want!" The older man spoke now, his stiff movement making you jump. The words from his lips harsh and boiling in anger. The children reacted as you would expect. Instantly recoiling from you, their frightened eyes flicking onto their guardian. "You bastard pilots. Get out of here." He hissed, stepping close to you. Reflectively you stood up, the older man was a good few feet taller than you. His worn appearance didn't do much to compensate for his daunting physique. You suddenly second guess your idea. Between the man's lean arms you glimpse the duo of ministry agents. Both pairs of dark cruel orbs had settled on the commotion. The older woman's hand was already finding its way around her issued weapon. You went to speak, unsure of how to calm the situation. But another voice broke the tension. A firm hand gripping your shoulder in support as he steps up beside you.Watching the older gentleman square in his face. "We are here to help Timur. Konsta wouldn't want his children ending up like us monsters. Yeah?" The names cut deep into the man's bluster, each word seemingly deflating him further and further. His heavy and tired eyes watching you both with equal amounts of trepidation and horror. Timur swallows hard, before nodding. His tone softens as his voice gets lower. "What do you mean? How do you know my son-" Oracle fires back without any hesitation, the words striking the man to his very core. Leaving him reeling the man had to sit down. "Komistan. We did a tour, joint rotation. He talked about you all. Mind that nothing good when it came to you, but he knew you wouldn't abandon them." Timur shrunk away, leaning back in the chair as the two children watched on confused. "I promised if I ever got word that his children needed help that I'd do what I could. My friend here has seen it fit to try and do what he can. I personally have no investment in your son's runts being chewed up by the system. Konsta was always an arrogant cunt, no wonder he got himself gutted by some ishala extremist." The old man hardened the words even leaving you with a bad taste. The wrinkled hands creaking into hefty fists. You push the pilot aside, stepping up before things get worse. "Ignore him Sir. I want to help." You declare reiterating your interest. Anger began to flare in his eyes again. "And how can a twisted little monster like you help me? I know what they do to you. I've read the reports." He spat, glaring between the pair of you.
>>5313348The women were both interested now, but none moved to stop you. "I was taken against my will. You can understand I wouldn't want others to suffer the same fate." You glimpse movement. From the shadows this time She watches you, through the Kelpy murk that was her gloomy hair you glimpse something. A proud smile, kind and reserved. With your experience you thought about how to best help the children. You knew all the answers the ministry would be probing them to discover. Simply giving the incorrect results. To halt the early links from forming, slow the processes to master. It might help, but it wouldn't stop intrusive tests. You also know inactive codes, dry docking loops to practice with. If they simply used them instead of the correct sequences they could be spared. That was their best shot, the meager choices was all you had to offer. "You can't help them Morty. They'll both be like us in no time, just a few monsters." Oracle steps back, unwilling to impose himself further. The pilot left it in your hands. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you Say? Write in?>Help the children by giving them incorrect answers?>Help the children by teaching them dry dock sequencing? MIND Test.>Refuse to help the children?>Do something else?
>>5313349>What do you do, Pilot?Calmly look at the intelligence officers.>Do something else?Bring something from your former life and hold onto it. It will be the thread that connects you to being a "normal human".As much that a normal human isn't a monster by forcing children from their parents, stripping them of their childhood and making them into beasts. A not fully kept soul one could say.
>>5313370The something else is something we say.
>>5313349Teach the children dry docking, but leave it vague as to why -- just say "It'll help". The other options sound suspicious like we're undermining the Empire. I bet no one else will know what to make of teaching kids "dry docking"
>>5313523Support this. We really can’t do much in our position, lacking authority or even having competed training ourselves.Hell, we can’t even tell them to look us up if they do get stuck in a core because we don’t know where we’re gonna be stationed.
>>5314029We can get around unknown stationing by directing them to "the Hole" or one of the support staff we knew, which will likely help them track us down.
>>5313349>>5313523Support>Help the children by teaching them dry dock sequencing? MIND Test.Yeah just say it is a technique that could help them be overlooked. I don’t think we want them to look us up, we’re making the assumption they won’t get forced recruited.
>>5313370>>5313523>>5316036You ignore the harsh words of Oracle, keeping your face calm as the older man stares you down. Suspicious of your offer to help. You turn your attention to the others present, the older woman across the carriage watches you back. But neither of the pair move to intervene. Taking a deep breath you focus on the small youths. Speaking softly. "When I was around your age I lived in the mountains. With my family, mother, father and brother. I remember it being windy, in the night it would howl and whistle through small gaps in our brick homes. Snow would fall almost every morning. But no matter what I was never cold. That's what I remember the most. At home I was always warm." You take your time to watch the duo, beside their clear worry they seem to be interested in your words. Their grandfather didn't interrupt so you continue. "But I was taken. The ministry has a need for people like us. Ever since I've been cold, so I'll do my best to stop either of you from ever having to go through the same. But don't worry, I have a friend who will also help. Do you wanna see him?" The older girl nodded her understanding, the boy clearly unsure, eventually doing the same. You retrieve the aged Dinosaur toy from your pocket. Introducing him to the duo, you earn a laugh from the girl as she grows more at ease. The boy smiled but was still very anxious. With the groundwork settled you went in depth, explaining the tests they would likely be exposed to in the assessment process. Simple neurological exercises and activity measuring exposures. You insist the children practice the dry docking sequencing. To condition their minds to regret interferences and additional sequencing. "It'll help." You declare, the use of dry docking could produce a negative or flatten out the initial results and spare them from the clutches of the interior ministry. But it wouldn't be easy. It was up to the hands of luck. "Hopefully we won't ever have to cross paths again." You reassure the youths as you make a game of the mental exercises. The children took to the act, the activity something new enough to steal their attention. !!MIND TEST!!>Roll 3d6+1>Highest of the first three rolls will be used.>Stats give a bonus to relevant tests. Failure: 3-7Partial failure : 8-10Partial success :11-13Success : 14-18Critical Success: 19+
Rolled 1, 2, 3 + 1 = 7 (3d6 + 1)>>53165131, 1, 1
Rolled 5, 6, 5 + 1 = 17 (3d6 + 1)>>5316513
Rolled 1, 5, 3 + 1 = 10 (3d6 + 1)>>5316513Ahem, whoops.
>>5316549>>5316570>>53165937, 17, 10!!TEST PASSED!!You begin with deferral point practices, to get their synapses to stimulate. Baby steps in the act of meditation and internal logic processing. You talk to them for just over an hour. The two opposing forces simply watch on. The young girl Mila is excited as you begin to quiz her further on the hastily learned knowledge. Much of it relied on reaction and intuitive neural pathing and flow. You were impressed with how quickly she fired back reverse sequences. The boy struggled to grasp the strange process of locking off parts of the mind to a probing machine. But as you got more comfortable, so did the others. Even the old man hesitantly gave out an answer. Unjumbling the sequence you had proposed to the children and reorganizing it to impact any repose readings. You were impressed. Some academics believe the ability to link with a Phobos was inheritable genetically.He could have been a pilot in another life. Even Oracle joins in, stepping up beside you he offers up six-perennial codes. Vibrant disorganized numbers that would try to raise the activity within the frontal lobe. Mila smoothly and somewhat smugly replies, dismantling the sequence and reorganizing it the way you had taught her. The boy was just behind. It was the best you could do without any actual activity measuring equipment. But the techniques were the same you had mastered. You remind them to practice as often as possible. You had done what you could. A chirp interrupted the last set of tests as the old man retrieved a slim and thin device from his coat pocket. A holographic display flicked into life as he held the phone to his ear. A short convocation followed, you heard little more than affirmation from the old fellow before he hung up with a sigh. "We must be going children, I have an appointment to attend to." Standing up the man straightened his clothes, you do the same wishing them good luck. The little girl moves suddenly, closing the short distance between the both of you. Wrapping her arms around you waist tightly. "Thank You Morty." Her small warm presence cuts through the clouded filth that existed. You couldn't help praying the children would avoid any service to the interior ministry. "Yes, Thank you Corporal…" Timur added coldly. You return the affection by patting the child on the head.
>>5319729With that done you said your goodbyes and the trio vanish down the train car. Leaving you alone with the older pilot, you notice the Ministry agents had vanished while you were distracted. Oracle had his cold eyes on you once more, speaking just low enough for you to hear. "Do you think they could tell what you were up to? Maybe they were here because of ole Timer's antics. Did you not think a few eyes would be on him? What is the penalty for bribery and corruption? Or treason?" The blind boy gave you a cruel grin. "I wonder…" You felt a black seed settle in your stomach, knots of pain surrounding it. You try to take a step but Oracle intervenes. "It's best if we stay out of any trouble for now. If anything, you might have saved those little runts of the same path as us. Timur however? Your words could do little to erase his sins. Best we leave it as is." The pilot let out a loud sigh before running and hand through his hair. You do the same, focusing on your breathing. Resurfacing against the force of his mere presence, you wondered if others felt this way around you. No one had ever mentioned it. "Don't worry, I'm sure their senses are too dull and rusted to notice the fetid stain." You shake your head at the boy's words, trying to mask your thoughts against his intrusive mind. Oracle laughs. "Well now that you're done, I'll be on my way as well. See you around Corporal." The Pilot turns on his heels and walks away. You grind your teeth watching the pilot leave. As he slips from view you feel the oppressive atmosphere go with him. In the corner of the common area She waited, crouching behind a wooden sofa. >What do you do, Pilot?>Retire to your Cabin?>Explore the Second Class Carriages? >Explore the Third Class Carriages?>Explore the Forth Class Carriages?>Investigate the Cargo Carriages?>Investigate the first anchor point?>Do something else?
>>5319734>Do something else?Investigate the Sofa, "Her" actions are strange; Let's see if she found something of interest.Otherwise we should probably return to our cabin, since we can't always help everyone.
>>5319734Think back- did she hide while oracle was around?>Attempt to address Her, then return to the cabin.Scared of the mind-readers?
>>5319734>>5319900Yeah support this. I think we’ve had enough train adventures. Should head back to our room.
>>5319900>>5320237>>5321814>>5321825You were alone in the first class carriage, but not truly. Doubt fills you at that thought, you never knew if you'd be alone ever again. Your mind, even now, was linked to one far away. Anastasia could feel you, if even faintly. The artificial light stretches long across the ancient and golden fittings. The glossy wooden flooring is silent as no one moves. The phantom trapped within your mind watches the Intricately knotted rings of timber. Her naked body was painted in ink like hair. Wet, slick and greasy with the decay of death. Downcast She keeps her gaze from you. You'd never seen her behave this way before. Suddenly shy. Almost afraid. The world softens without Oracle's stained presence, your heartbeat slowing. Standing over the figure you are left unsure of what to do, your eyes trace a glimpse of tightly healed scars along her back and shoulders. You speak, not really expecting a reply. "What should I do?" Without a sound She flinches and sinks away from your words, merging into the small shadow you cast until nothing of her was left. With Oracle's words leaving your legs feeling weak, you hastily retire to the cabin. The excitement of the train ride wearing thin. Inside your small and temporary abode you pull the curtains and drop into bed. Cutting yourself off from the false landscape of hope and beauty. Seeking refuge in the dark black. The early wake up call was already weighing on your shoulder blades. Like a perched crow, sleep dives down to pluck your wriggling consciousness from the earth and carry it away.The train ride was a short one, but you knew it wouldn't be a long haul. It had only taken a few hours by helicopter, but before you know it training had begun. The Something Wicked had been unloaded and you had been handed off to the officers in charge. Herr Stumpfegger was already busy making small talk with those awaiting your arrival. As you stood about waiting for transportation to arrive you witnessed the train move, shockingly so, the long cylindrical locomotive began to float. Almost without much of a warning, besides a bassy throbbing. A handmade caterpillar body squirming as it grew accustomed to the type of flight. Its slow ascent was halted by numerous shackles that bound it to the thick load bearing railway tracks. A partially visible field ripped along the body projected from the first and last carriages. At each point the field became denser and easier to spot, projected like the steam from boiling water. A mostly invisible mist, only seen because of the odd lancing jagged beams of light that occasionally got caught and twisted around within the Anti-gravitational field. As it slowly began to pull away from the station the rumbling in your body increased, wishing to shake the flesh free from your very bones.
>>5322176Unsure of what propelled it, the Vilhena IV Express impressively zipped along and out of sight. The only way you could describe it was falling in reverse. But even that left you more confused. The Hole welcomes you home. The familiar sights of dull grey and abyss black aren't new to you, the well known feeling of boots meeting smashed black primordial stone sends a shiver down your spine. Scattered around like sand, rocks emerge at odd and unwarranted angles. Cast about by some unseen creator long before man had returned to reclaim the lowly place. The sky littered with an impenetrable foggy haze. You could tell you weren't at the same facility you had grown up in, you had a vague understanding of where it could be. Up above somewhere, clinging to the craggly walls of the massive crater. You were deep. Further than you had ever been, within the womb of the ministry, far beyond any pressing eyes. The Officer who met you did so wearing the common kill team mask. One you might commonly find assigned along with a skin tight combat suit that closely mimicked diving suits. You were given a number, a new name when training at the blacksite. Seven, you were the seventh to arrive. They didn't bother giving you a mask, Herr Stumpfegger reassures you that their cautious behavior was simple to protect themselves. The uneven and gravelly ground of the Hole made the intense exercise regime harder than it has to be. The low valley landscapes keep the cold temperatures low, the sun struggling to reach so far down. Each gust of howling wind threatens to freeze the steaming sweat as it settles on your hot body. Your own breath almost blinded you as you fought for air, like a rampaging bull. Heavy bursts of condensation ploom from your nostrils in great swirling clouds. "Hurry the fuck up Seven!" The lead Officer shouts, you grunt in response, increasing your pace and ignoring the pain that follows as you close the few feet separating you. Without bothering to turn and inspect the other pilots, the sound of Six and Two footsteps reassures you that you weren't alone with the slave driver. Four's whining had stopped, the poor bastard had slipped on the mossy black pebbles further up the moor and had almost broken his ass in the process.
>>5322177You all left him behind, as the Instructor had insisted. After all it was better one of you died than all of you. Your strict upbringing had paid off, shifting from foot to foot you kept pace. Running through the ancient and usual landscape. Doing your best to avoid any slick outcropping stone or ankle eating crevices. Your visibility was pushing the limits around ten feet, but you recognize the well trodden muddy path as your unit began to turn down a meandering slope. Next the river came into view, the calmly flowing waters carrying a procession of small ice blankets. At that moment you begin to hate yourself even more, admonishment taking root in your mind. 'I should have chosen joint exercises.' Taking a slither of a moment only to shift the heavy rucksack from your back, using the same momentum to toss it into the stream of liquid ice before diving in head first after it without any hesitation. The Instructors had warned you all over breakfast, a team had been out here while you were eating, smashing up the frozen banks for your crossing. The icy water guts you, chasing any breath from your lungs like a stiletto. Resurfacing with the grace of a dying cat your arms and legs spasm, muscles fighting against the commands of your brain. "Fuck!" You scream, teeth about to break as they chatter against one another, deafening you. Fingers ready to snap off find their way around your bag as you begin to ford the small gap. Kicking like a fiend, you feel the contact of a few minute icebergs the numb limbs barely acknowledge anything. Still you faintly make out the cries of the other pilots as they join you. Sucking in air hard, you kick stronger. Wishing to kick yourself right out of the water and to take flight into the warm sunlight above. The vibrant warmth on your face. It took you a moment to notice the new glow that surrounded the rushing waves. At first you assumed it was a hallucination from hypothermia readying to kill you, but another flare shot into the fog high above. painting the canvas a second richer sapphire sun. Looks like Four was dead.
>>5322178!!BODY TEST!!>Roll 3d6+2>Highest of the first three rolls will be used.>Stats give a bonus to relevant tests. Failure: 3-7Partial failure : 8-10Partial success :11-13Success : 14-18Critical Success: 19+>Sorry about the slow updates. Been a little bit busy, thank you all for hanging around still!
Rolled 3, 6, 1 + 2 = 12 (3d6 + 2)>>5322180
Rolled 5, 2, 6 + 2 = 15 (3d6 + 2)>>5322180
Rolled 5, 3, 1 + 2 = 11 (3d6 + 2)>>5322180
>>5322184>>5322196>>532226212, 15, 11!!TEST PASSED!!Wrestling against the pulling tides you keep the pace, ignoring the splashing water and focusing entirely on moving and breathing. You end up swallowing a mouthful or two, but use the rehydration to spurn you forward. You couldn't estimate the distance from the flare, but it helped motivate you to keep going. Pressing against the muddy river bank, your soaked through clothes weigh you down. Struggling to stand, you focus on simply crawling up the soily embankment. After a few good feet you escape the water completely before pulling your heavy pack up as well. The Officer had already stripped down and was into his own thermal bodysuit. "Move it Seven!" He hauled you up with an arm, kicking you in the ass and sending you on your way towards the bushy area. A tarp was spread up beside the Officer's rucksack. The wind catches you in the open, chilling your bones and spine to the core. You wanted to collapse but advance instead. Fighting your sleeping digits you struggle to get your own Wind-durable tarp free, the barbed breeze whipping your skin harshly. You shook uncontrollably, wishing to escape the overwhelming storm you try to climb into your shell, it fails. The mental fortress failing to come into being only made you panic further. You were freezing to death. Quickly you construct a plastic bulwark from the buffering cold. Tying and pinning down the sheet in the same way as the officer. With that task done you waste no time stripping out of your wet clothes. Your bare body felt just as numb and frozen, the clothes nothing but dead weight. You squat in the shade of your cover, quickly rooting around your bag. Discovering a small towel you waste no time drying off the best you could. The friction brings back small traces of life. Burning pain spread across skin as nerves began to awaken to nothing but the cold. "Fucking Fuck!" You howl, spotting Six being hauled out next. She had lost her rucksack in the river, luckily for her you each carried spares. But that wasn't your problem just yet. Quickly you race to slip into the neatly folded thermal bodysuit. It was a little wet, your hands having sprinkled water inside the bags proofing. The clinging elastic was a pain to slip up over your pins and needles made flesh, but with a helping hand from Six she managed to pull it up to your waist. The rubber lining digging into every crevice. Zipping it up you toss the naked girl your own towel, any morsel of embarrassment or shyness burned out by the daily routines. She wasn't a girl or a boy. Barely even a human to you. She was just another number. Two showed up next, the tanned lad had saved his own pack. "I'm dying!" He moaned while poorly constructing his own shelter from the wind. Six had pretty much pushed you from your own.
>>5322352While you hastily got the suit to wake up the girl was pulling on your spare. You pull the mask on next as jolts of electricity begin to stir the temperature measurement and maintenance equipment to life. Thankfully the gear stayed on and heat began to seep into your very soul, you just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. But you couldn't. Jogging in a few small circles you eventually rush over to Six, assisting her in getting dressed. Pulling the suit up to her own set of wide hips you move on leaving her to suit up further. Next you begin to pull additional equipment from the rucksack. The Thermal Displacement Coat slipped on next, latching to numerous notches along your thermal dive suit. The matte black material helps to cover you from heat tracking equipment. Next you lock on the Signav unit around your wrist and begin to boot up the small tool. It had been pre programmed with your next destination, you hadn't packed the bags yourself. Each morning and evening you would be fleeing and hunting to unknown coordinates with various equipment. Obviously there were staples, but it wasn't rare for the instructors to mess with you. Escaping the other half of the unit pilots was always the hardest. Five limped from the river next sans bag and huddled by Two, she wasn't looking good. "We gotta move sweet tops." Six called as she finished pulling on her own mask, you only had the one set of additional equipment. Handing them over to the grateful girl, you return to the bag. Resting at the bottom was a small rig, food and weapon. It was yours alone, the ministry was only so generous. Six would have to get by with coarse language, inappropriate gestures and maybe even a dash of frightfully looks. "How far!" Two shouted, his hands busy drying down Five with his towel, Six ran over to help warm the girl back up. You focus your attention on the device on your wrist. One hand slipping the rig over your shoulders. The holographic display spins and twirls reading out the ambient temperature and wind speeds along with geographical bearings. A single point had been recorded on the simple map display. "Ridge D23. About six clicks east." You shake your head, it was up the blood cliff side. An entire two kilometers above you. The device fed you further data. The scenic route would have you clambering up steep gradients, but relatively safe. Well to the machine's best assumption. Or you could try and climb the vast distance. But that idea was madness, the wind was more likely to snap you off and carry you away. "Who has the Brick?" You shout back. Only one of you technically had to survive. "I hope I didn't!" Six laughs before rooting around in Two's sack. The boy was obviously annoyed at the actions, but was busy trying to warm himself back up. One arrived next, little Eight looking even smaller at his side. Both looked waxed and on the edge. But both had their rucks intact.
>>5322359Rushing over you helped them tie up their shelters and get changed. The mass of muscle called One pushes you away, the naked boy speaking up, unabashed by his beefy body on display. "Enough! Seven get the brick and haul it. Don't waste time on us, those cunts. We could hear the dogs." A shiver ran down your body, the bastards were close. "Found it!" Six shouts, pulling free a small black carbon fiber brick from Two's bag." Quickly everyone rushed to get ready, but you couldn't waste anymore time. Shouting for you to go, You, Six and Two head out. Leaving the others to fend for themselves. Following the path the device had kindly provided you with. Your wet boots slosh against the rubber skin of the suit, resounding out from each of your unit's steps as the trio traverses the fog. "Gimme your pistol!" Six moans, badgering Two. "Piss off!" The dark eyed youth answered before increasing his pace to match your own. The flapping of displacement material was annoying you, ignoring the bickering you try to hold the thin material in place. It didn't help much. As you cut through an ancient forest the sky grew another sun, someone else was down. You were making a good distance, hauling ass through overgrown grass and hedges. The brick bounced about, dangling from your rig as branches and seed pods stuck to anything they could. The flare painted the sky a deep maroon, whoever was dead didn't matter, the others had crossed the river. "Shit." Two mutters, facemask painted by the blue hued glow of his own holographic display. "I don't think I can keep this pace up for another handful of kilometers." Six increased her pace after hearing the words and broke ahead of the pack. "Good, give me the gun and go distract them. We'll make it." The boy shook his head. "What? No way, you lost your own idiot." You rolled your eyes as the duo bickered even more. Each suggesting idea after idea. Two contemplated simply ambushing the other pilots and trying to eliminate them. Six called it dumb. Suggesting you should buy her time while she escapes. Two is next to suggest climbing the cliff side, after all. No one would expect that. They'd be chasing ghosts around the lower valleys while you-all simply climb to the extraction site.
>>5322362Six wouldn't let the idea breath for long, reminding the team that none of you had climbing equipment on hand. She had no intentions of climbing a cliff face without any. Two was sure he could make it. A hundred meters at a time would be easy going. Or so he claims. You were skeptical. The pace set could keep you out of their hands, but you were unsure what landscape ahead would slow you down. The map showed a lot of information, but actually advancing was up to you. You weighed the chances of simply letting the hunters pass you, but the dogs were a frightful prospect. You weren't in the mood to have a pooch chewing on you. "We should split up!" Six declares. "Oh just shut up!" Two replies. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Keep on running, follow the generated route?>Try and Ambush the other Pilots? >Try to Scale the cliff face?>Hide from your pursuers?>Split up?>Do something else?Write in?
>>5322363>Split up?Have Two Climb the Direct route (allowing him to both rest, or potentially get behind our pursuers, or scout ahead depending on how quickly he goes and distance / time differences between the routes, though he could attempt to make the fact that he has climbed obvious to invite them to follow)While we take the pre-generated route with the "Brick" and leg it, as best we can. Make it clear we won't be waiting for Two or Six, to continue onwards.Six takes our gun and Ambushes, then fades, the direction and pathing should be up to her. (They should both preference the dogs, then their hander's mobility / joints since if that is what they are relying upon to track us, without it they probably won't have info to act on, and so be reduced to guessing at our movements and otherwise need to slow down to accommodate any casualties Six or Two can inflict).Depending on how well Six does her job, the pursuit should either Split to follow her reducing their numbers, or continue onwards in a direction,Which could either give the high ground to Two if they scale the cliffs to make up time, or time to rest to meet us, or fall in trail of them should he need longer to recover if he decides to do so.Or if they decide that they can't scale the cliffs with the dogs that puts them even further behind, hopefully.
>>5322363I can't imagine there is any way of successfully scaling the cliffs all the way to the top. It's better to take the pre-planned route.The dogs are worrying, but they're limited by the range and exhaustion of their human masters. If we keep going at a good pace we can still outrun them.I suggest sticking together and following the preplanned route.
>>5322363Keep together for now, wait and see how many more flares go up before deciding to split. Maybe those others will be helpful enough to distract and slow down the pursuers and help us increase our lead. If they all get caught quickly we can reassess.Climbing doesn’t seem a great idea due to the cons presented already.
>>5322987Support. Stick together for now, take the longer route. If people can’t keep up because of stamina, they should be dropped and left to try and slow down the pursuit
>>5322805>>5322987>>5323179Shaking your head you increase the pace, leaving the duo a few steps behind. "Stop flirting and save your breath for running." You tell the other pilots, earning a flow of angry grumblings. You focus on following the designated path, the holographic route flowing down the valley. Skirting around a few briar patches and berry bushes. You mind counted the minutes, waiting for another flare to light up the sky at any moment. You hope the others would slow down the Pilots chasing you. Enough for you to make it to the extraction site. Six complains again as the ground starts to turn from soft forest earth into piles of uneven gravel, the girl tripping after running only a few feet into the transitioning area. You slow, not wanting to wound yourself in the unstable section. Thankfully soon after entering the ground began to change again from skittering stones into a steepy rocky incline. The mounds of dusty gravel sinking without warning to bury your boots as you start to ascend. The speedy escape slows down further as everyone begins to clamber up. Large black boulders stuck out from the earth at odd angles, reaching up to the sky above with curved claw-like peaks. Grim slate scales of some great buried behemoth. Another flare went up, illuminating the cracks and crooks of the hillside. The soft forest floor falls away further and further as you scramble up the dangerous slope. Black spires sprouting from the shrinking earth, replacing the gaps with rich emerald mossy felt. Even through the dive suit the chilling wind stabbed at your back, long icicle talons ready to rip you free from the hillside and carry you away. The steep incline increased until for the last few feet you had to free climb from protruding stone to stone. Two yelps in pain, falling a short distance before catching himself. Six starts to laugh as she pulls herself up over the lip alongside you.At the top you take a moment, chest rising and falling quickly while you catch your breath. A cloud of condensation collects around you. Your rest is interrupted by a faint echo. Trying to tune in the sound against Two struggling to climb. The noise came again, echoing out from the dark woods. You could only make out the tips of the trees through the claustrophobic fog. You smile faintly while thinking about how the optical illusion appeared to be a handful of miniscule trees littering a snowy slope. But the noise repeated and the imaginary snow turned crimson, a flare streaking up beyond the treetops. An occasional spark spins out when the flare clips stray branches. You couldn't make out words being shouted, but they were echoing out from the thick timberline. "Oh Shit" Six mutters, watching at your side.
>>5323643Two slowly managed to reach just under you both before cursing, perching precarious on a stone to watch. Under the glow of the flare you spot motion. The size of the shape gave away its identity, it was One, hot on his heels was Eight. A smaller shadow flicking between the trees. You spot the small weapons in their hands, then a beam of light zipped through the brush. Missing the duo by a good distance. A small cloud of condensation floating along its travel path. You felt a painful jolt roll across your hip, the sight of the discharge digging up memories of your own experiences with the stun weapons. Crouching you began to walk on, eyes glued to the action below. Hoping to catch more glimpses of the figures. Eight fires back, a branch of electricity back into the wooded area illuminating his small frame for a second. The barking of hunting dogs shoots a shiver down your legs, even with the suit warming you constantly. Another sound joins the storm of activity, one you weren't expecting. "Let us go! Let's Hunt!" The cybernetic and genetically enhanced guard dogs were excited. You knew they wouldn't unleash the dogs, the Pilots were a little too expensive to get torn apart by the uplifted animals. But another voice spoke up, this one was closer than you had expected. It made you jump. "Hello there, Pilot." The Voice was artificial and high in pitch, yet strangely child-like. A large lizard appears over the grassy edge near to you. Finding stable footing the animal watches you with wide eyes, six slick legs glistening in the light. You freeze, stunned by its arrival. The unit didn't have just Neo-Hounds. The Team also had Neo-Guanas assisting them. You had seen them being trained on the Black Site grounds, they took to the genetic uplifting more than the canines did. "Howdy." You reply nonchalantly, the Neo-Guana was smart enough to not attack you and it appears happy to just watch from a safe distance away. You didn't recognize the voice but you were sure it knew you. "Oh, Fuck off!" Two cries, finally scaling the wall and spotting the Lizard. Unsure of what to do, Six watches back and forth between you and the animal. "Bad word! You said a Bad Word!" The Guana shouts in glee before scampering away as Two gives chase after it. "Little fucker has been tracking us!" You don't let the new arrival slow you down for any longer, breaking into a sprint you start moving again.
>>5323646Glancing down occasionally into the valley below as you steadily climb higher and higher. You still had quite the distance to go. Looking out for developments below. The fog thickens as you advance up the hillside. Through the grey curtains you glimpse lights streaking below as One and Eight obviously didn't bother to try and climb. You could tell they were fighting with their backs to the steep hill. "Where did you guys go?" Six shouted, her voice echoing around the impenetrable fog you had found yourself stumbling through. "Help! I'm lost too!" The Guana answers, breaking into loud giggling before falling silent. "Follow your Signavs!" You shout back into the pearl abyss. Focusing on trying not to walk off a cliff. Then it dawned on you, the captured equipment would be pointing the enemies your way. Time stretches on without any other sounds breaking the usual ambience. The maze-like mist gives you only a couple meters of vision. You tread slowly, not willing to give away your position, when a voice cuts through the obscured surroundings. As low as a whisper it fought against the wind to be heard. "Do you think we cut them off?" The words made your blood curdle. A clang rang out. What you had swore for the last half an hour had been little more than a stray tree branch clashing about in the wind. But now the rhythmic pounding made sense as another voice spoke up. The opposing force was drowning in equipment today, the clanging continues on. The steps from a spider legged ATV somewhere in close proximity sending vibrations out along the ground. "I'm not sure. Spread out and keep your eyes peeled, I can't see shit up here." You stoop low, your small charge pistol slipping free from the holster in one smooth motion. You jump as a hand touches your shoulder, without a word you spin. Two stands there watching with worried eyes, his mask giving away little more expression, Pistol in hand and a finger to his lips. You hear the sound of clattering and cursing out in the fog ahead as the searching party fumbles about. The crackle of a radio joins. "We are advancing toward your position. Sitrep? Over." Another voice replies. "No sign of them, We are searching the area. Over." Two inches closer, mumbling hushed words directly into your ear. "Six is climbing up the bloody rockface. What should we do? Sneak or Shoot?" You weigh the small stun weapon in your hand. You still didn't know how many of the other pilots had made the ascent. But you didn't have time to waste. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Try and Sneak past?>Try and Eliminate the other Pilots? >Try to Scale the Cliff?>Hide from your pursuers?>Do something else?Write in?
>>5323647>Do something else?Write in?Lay in ambush of those men and be ready to steal the spider legged ATV.
>>5323680Support, hijack the ATV when there’s an opening.Then, try and take it at speed up to where Six is. Six has the Brick, that’s what is needed to extract
>>5323680Support.I didn't realize they had spider technology. We're definitely going to lose if we don't yeet that away from them
>>5323680>>5324380>>5324625You doubt your chances of being able to avoid the other pilots. They were just too well prepared, they would catch you eventually. You know if you have to deal with them it has to be piecemeal. They made the mistake of getting in your way. "We are taking that Walker." You say in a commanding tone, more to your own weary body than Two. You rack the charging feed and witness the inert packs meet and begin to react. Two gels mixing and seemingly solidifying into a dense brick around the projector coil. The ground begins to tremble, the clanking of mechanical feet growing nearer. Thankfully the scouting platform probably had no weapons attached to it. But the Pilots were surely packing stun weapons to match your own. "Seven, You're a mad bastard." Two's words were heavy with anxiety and uncertainty. But the Pilot does the same anyway, taking the faintly glowing weapon in both hands. "We'll ambush them. Wait until they are right on top of us and strike swiftly." Each dull thumping punctuates your words as the ATV advances in your direction. "I'll wait for your signal… Have you ever driven one of those things?" Two asks, you simply shake your head before moving into the gloom. How hard could it be anyway? Even with the light beaming down from the sun it was almost impossible to make out shapes from a distance. The swirling fog trying to trick you with every gust of wind. But the size of the spider ATV left much to be desired. Crouching behind a basalt outcropping you took aim at the sound of the approaching search party. As each minute snakes by you expect to hear the voices of the other half of the pilots coming up the way you had. You have no idea where Two was hiding but pray that he was ready, it took the shadows long enough to appear. The ATV walker is the first thing you spot. Its appearance made you jump, a long shadowy limb split the fog and then from nearby the voice of another pilot rang out "What do you see boys?" Leveling your weapon you make out the other shadows one by one. "Shut the fuck up!" Another hissed, his voice being carried far by the breeze. Four neatly lined up, stun pistols scanning the area ahead of them. The ATV slowly lumbering along behind them, the platform a few feet off of the floor. The ground shook as a mechanical leg met a small enough boulder to crush it, showering you with dust and debris. You spot the operator rocking back and forth with each uneven step. The hyper charged material was ready and waiting. It was now or never. Taking a deep breath you level your weapon at a target. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Target the ATV Operator?>Target the Closest Pilot?!!SKILL TEST!!>Roll 3d6+3>Highest of the first three rolls will be used.>Stats give a bonus to relevant tests. Failure: 3-7Partial failure : 8-10Partial success :11-13 Success : 14-18Critical Success: 19+
Rolled 6, 1, 4 + 3 = 14 (3d6 + 3)>>5325885Ah, yes. Time to even the odds>Target the ATV Operator
Rolled 6, 6, 5 + 3 = 20 (3d6 + 3)>>5325885>Target the ATV Operator?
>>5325885> Target the ATV Operator?Not in the shooting range today, but with all these fish in a barrel we might as well be
Rolled 2, 1, 2 + 3 = 8 (3d6 + 3)>>5325885>Target the ATV Operator?>>5326039Morty is a beast.
>>5325908>>5326039>>5326629>>532660314, 20, 8 !!TEST PASSED!!!!CRITICAL SUCCESS!!+1 Skill GainedThe delicate holographic sight lines up with the center mass of the dark shape. Rays of light reach through the haze around you all as the sun escapes the overcast cloud for only a second. The fog turns a golden hue like melting butter. The weapon makes a low whine before releasing a high resounding snap that echoes out as you taste ozone. The flash comes and goes in an instant, a tiny white bolt zips free as your hair stands on end. The jagged beam lances towards the target, cutting through the air Illuminating the misty path as it flies. From the corner of your eye you see the four pilots halt their advance. The closest to you, jumping at the sudden noise. You broke the building tension with your actions. Then Two takes his shot a moment after your own. You see the glint, a thin point, stretching out as it burns a line into your vision. Both strike true and in a second two bodies are crumpled on the floor. "Ambush!" A pilot screams, diving for cover and exchanging unaimed fire. You duck low, skirting around from your previous firing spot avoiding streaks of stunning electricity. Eyes open for enemy movement. You glimpse the shadows clumping up together, uncertainty oozing from them. Desperately they try to get a bead on your positions, firing wildly in any direction as they hide. The stray shots forcing your head down. As soon as your weapon dings and has completed the firing process you start shooting back. "He's over there!" A voice echoes as you notice the pilots start to charge. Heading right for you, leaving cover only for Two to strike them in the rear. Pinned in the open they tried to push further through the kill zone. They fail. You don't give them the chance to close the distance. Leaning out, you fire at the leader, striking him in the chest, his legs buckle and kick out in one warped motion before landing with a thud. Strobing lights dance above your head as the others take wild pot shots at you. Two hits another, leaving only one man standing. The fin pilot hesitates, abandoning the desperate attack for cover instead. But you were already ready, repositioning you to move up close with the weapon. Watching without blinking as the beam arcs and strikes the last of the search party. To the moans of protest and smell of burnt hair you move about identifying your victims.
>>5327428Twelve was nursing his aching muscles, through gritted teeth he spoke in his heavy western accent. "Assholes." Sixteen and Seventeen held their hands up, both reserved to their defeat. "Oh, eat shit." Two taunts, dropping down from a large boulder before swiftly kicking a charge pistol from Twenty's hands. With a swagger the pilot went about grabbing spare equipment. "Get the Walker moving!" He shouts over his shoulder while double checking on the shaky pilots. Encased within a block of invisible ice the eight long legs were unmoving, the mechanical spider stood watch over the scene impartial to the violence. The moaning voice from above was a familiar one, as you ascend the boarding ladder you spot the operator sitting crossed legged. Mask up half his face, blood dripping from a nostril. Thirteen looks up at you in shock. "Ah hid mah shnose!" The pilot mumbles his voice nasally. He was beginning to regain his faculties, gingerly he pulled off the rest of his mask. The pale face boy had tears welling up in his eyes. You give him a pat on the shoulder as you access the control panel. A few boxes of equipment were strapped down. Besides a few riding harnesses neatly resting on the platform, only a simple railing ran around the edge to save anyone from an accident. With a little help Thirteen manages to climb down, just as two red flares shoot up into the sky. "That should slow their pace a little." Two laughs while you inspect the controls further, testing the levers and gears. "This is new to me. So you might want to hold on to something." Strapping into the harnesses you start to test the controls, they aren't exceptionally hard to grasp and with some prodding and suggestions from Two and even a few words of advice from a dazed Thirteen you get the ATV moving. It didn't take long to start climbing the cliff. The legs clinging to the surface, grasping and drilling into the wall with each step. Fighting against the tug of gravity and her eager sister, the wind you and Two cling on. After a few minutes your rather calm ride is interrupted. Through the wall of fog a strand of light snakes, unprompted you halt. Taking cover behind the control station as another comes. "Stop shooting, it is us you idiot!" Two shouts, but another bolt streaks past the ATV. "Stop fucking shooting at us!" You shout. Cranking on the controls the spider climbs the jagged rock face, a crevice approaches and soon you spot her. Six peeks out from an indent. Positioning yourself the best you can, the girl climbs aboard, moving from a leg and up onto the ladder. "And here I was thinking you'd forgotten about me."!!Roll Additional Stat Increases!! 1d4+1 Mind Gained 1d4+1 Skill Gained 1d4+1 Body Gained 1d4+1 Smarts Gained>One roll for each Stat is required.
>>5327429Sitting perched atop the Something Wicked, the sun kisses your skin for what felt like the first time in years, the grand expanse of Hole briefly unveiled before you. A scar across your homeland. A grave of a once great nation, ruins littering the horizon. The burned out and ground up remains of kilometer tall skyscrapers and homes. Metal and stone, the flesh and bone of a city. The cremated souls carried on the low sweeping winds, hiding for a moment and waiting to return. Only a few hours of clear sky remain, turning away from the beautiful sight as you inspect the others of your team. A single Prince Class was at your side, sitting crossed legged on top Nineteen and Three scan a paper map. It noisily flaps as they struggle to keep it weighted down, slate grey clouds bringing with them the smell of wet earth. The other three Phobos were all Knight Class units, tiny against your lanky machine. Every single unit was a Rapier type. "Seven we are lost!" Three shouts over, Nineteen shrugging in capitulation while rolling up the map. "Fucking Corporals!" Eleven adds across the LO-Comms. The Pride of Silbrisk pivots as he reflectively raises a hand to shade his observers. You take a look at your own map and compass. You'd be lying if you weren't a little stumped. A light rain began to pelt the landscape, the shy sun slinking back under the cover of the overcast blanket. You knew it would only be a passing shower. "Don't let the equipment get wet, Take some aerial snaps and we'll use those to help navigate." Folding your own map up, it fits neatly into a waterproof sling. "On it Boss!" Nine replies. The Lance of Yiga ejects two surveillance drones. In a fluid motion you hook the container to your shoulder and scramble down the side of your Phobos slipping right into the exposed core. Immediately sinking into the first layer as the world snaps back into existence. Gingerly you allow three to ride on the palm of your hand, placing him beside Dream Strider. Maxima Dracul stirs at your side, metal joints flexing and creasing as Nineteen transmits across the LO Comms. "We don't have long, at this rate we won't be on site before losing clear skies. We gotta book it." Nomad Swallow saunters out in front of the unit as drone shots begin to feed across the network. "Hauling ass might give us away but it's a risk we have to take, how about we race for it?" Six smugly states, the Swallow squatting on its heels. "It's up to you Boss." Nine cuts in. The shots reveal you had a few kilometers of rubble to circumvent, it was the perfect location for spotters. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Take your time and be careful? >Race to meet the deadline?
Rolled 3 + 1 (1d4 + 1)>>5327429>Roll for MindSweet sweet stat increases>>5327430We've got places to be>Race to meet the deadlineVisibility will decrease as the storm arrives, allowing us to shake any attention we gain from booking it. Also, moving under clear weather hopefully gives us a better chance of picking out landmarks and figuring out where we are.
Rolled 1 + 1 (1d4 + 1)>>5327429skill role>Race to meet the deadlinego fast and they won't see us
Rolled 1 + 1 (1d4 + 1)>>5327429rolling>>5327430>Race to meet the deadline?
Rolled 4 + 1 (1d4 + 1)>>5327430>Race to meet the deadline>>5327429
>>5327430>Race to meet the deadline?
>>5328067>>5327721>>5327503>>5327486>>5327447Weapon of an Empire OST.Track 6 - The River Stonehttps://vocaroo.com/1gabf94wrov6!!Additional Stat Increases!! 4 Mind Gained 2 Skill Gained 2 Body Gained 5 Smarts GainedWithout a breath to share between the team the race began, heading right towards the distant signs of rubble. Taking the lead, setting a hard pace for the others as you feel the world through the nervous system of the Something Wicked. The humid air still settles on your skin wishing to make you sweat, every miniscule droplet of rain drumming along the extraterrestrial metals that coexisted to create your body. Weakness tugs at the mortal within, every muscle aching and sore, your begrudging body floating within the abyss and the landscape of the Hole at the same time. The questionable state of existence that held you flickering like the static of an old television. You smell the empty white noise. Taste it leaking from your mind. You are alone, even with every member of your fire team within eyesight. Their cores are little more than trembling tremors within the vast crust. You were buried deep. Too deep. It hadn't taken long for the other pilots to sense it on you, that stain. The reserved training attitude is reasonably logical, you conclude while dissecting the aversion to comradery amongst pilots. The individualist behavior instilled to save you. You were just as much of a threat to one another as the enemy was. They all stare, when they think you aren't looking. Eyes wide, lips wavering out of fear or anxiety? You had yet to learn. "Just like river stones." Six had said, painted red and black in the low struggling flames of the night. Through the smoke of wet wood, she grinned eager to know why and as the others slept within their sleeping bags she spoke. The intrepid girl lacked the sensibility to stay away. Moss covered, even when rinsed, scrubbed and cleaned. That smell. They all still have it. Crack them open and you know why. All the way to the center it hides. She told you what the others were too shy or afraid to mention. The Training Officers definitely knew too, the senior pilots always pushed you the hardest. You. Your Phobos gave out false readings. Misent signals. The presence of the Emperor Class War machine was unnerving. Oracle had been correct. You catch yourself slipping further down. The second layer is tenderly warm against the world. The earth buckles under the weight that carries you onwards. The lowland valleys and hills grew wild on desolate foundations, throughout the Hole life was blossoming. Deer, foxes and even wild wolves hunted and grazed on the remains of the previous civilization. Watching the striding giants without any hint of understanding, but life hadn't returned to every scarred and battered landscape.
>>5329729Alien systems hiss and sigh as the Something Wicked hops and skips across the shattered highway, it had collapsed crushing upturned and gnarled iron bars and fences. The lighter Phobos bounce around like crickets, nipping at your heels. Soil was quickly replaced with cement dust and sand. The collection of the rubble was so old you barely made out what each individual piece could have once been. Glancing for the drone feed the core instinctively reacts enlarging the additional data, images linking to your display within adjustable windows. Like mechanical birds the views came from perched up high on the strewn sinew of destroyed buildings. Skeletal remains reaching into the sky like a hand seeking support. You were impressed that so many of the aged spires still stood. More joined in the further north east you travel, tightly knitted layers of scrap. Rusty pipes lay in great flowing rows of sickly sausage like links of intestines. You halt, stooping low so not to silhouette yourself too much. "I win." You declare coldly across the LO Comms, rolling within the weightless interior of your machine. "Second!" Nine screams in victory as the thin body of the Lance of Yiga lands with a clatter beside you. Unrolling the waterproof case you examine the map alongside the aerial snaps. One by one the Phobos fall in, naturally Two of the Units break off to take up a light perimeter. Badgering one another over their race results. Eleven blamed his machine for responding sluggishly when you cut him off. Your finger traces along the topographic map. "Zone 768e looks pretty familiar." Eyes darting back and forth you focus on a more prevalent peak. The map marked it as the tallest in the region, the tip casting a long shadow across the apocalyptic locale. You weren't far from your target, finally you had a bearing to work around. But time isn't on your side. Six takes up the reins and leads the way next, her smaller Phobos having an easier time manoeuvring over the cluttered area. What starts as a few scattered walls or beams here and there changes. With the shared scouting snapes you witness the ruins grow like a maze. The main thoroughfares that could fit your size leading down into the belly. "We'll cut through. It's the only way, Boss." Nine responds, the team growing silent as their machines pivot in silence. "Through a fucking tomb?" Eleven whispers, probably not even noticing his comms were on. With no other choice The Knights continue to lead, your lanky frame miniscule within the remains of the city but still too tall to navigate effectively. As they slip through collapsed office buildings and parking lots you climb and crawl. Praying for the weight to hold.
>>5329731Thankfully the support staff and Quartermaster saw fit to designate the Something Wicked with some suitable scouting equipment of your choice. >Equipment Selection. Pick One. >CyclopTech, OI6 "Orion" Long Range Observer Module.The Orion module comes with all the contemporary components of more common modules. Fielded exclusively by E Class Phobos, the well armoured exterior and reinforced interior casing is typically incompatible with smaller classes of units. The intricate mechanisms and systems can be prone to failure when less protected. However the master crafted tool offers up even further ranges of assessment and targeting. Each piece is the pinnacle of long range engagement assistance and surveillance.>Syn Robotics, Mk III.E Scout and Track Drones.The Mk III ST drones are commonly found on the battlefield and for good reason. The reliable and iconic model has been tested across the world. For Emperor Class Phobos the Ten Drone HIVE system is employed to manage and maintain the units without assistance. Allowing for a Pilot to work without worry. Featuring the favored VTOL mode allows unmatched control, evasion and ease of use on the battlefield. The feather weight units each offer up to six hours flight time and come equipped with compact Infrared observers and monitoring equipment.>Kawazaki Antiparticles, #02 "ONI" Terrain and Environment Observation Modules. The ONI TE modules are commonly found protecting forward operating bases across the globe. The complex and single-minded systems of Interlinking and codependent modules work in unison to enact nothing but the most in depth defensive sweeps. The monitoring of ranges within close and far proximity. The ONI modules feature state of the art signal detection devices honed for targeting signals, infrared pings and drone feedback caches. intercepting, decrypting and stealing data caught within its sphere of influence. The Zone mapping technology ensures the security of a site reliably.
>>5329734The further you creep, the more the necropolis increases in complexity. Numerous toppled over skyscrapers resting against one another, littering the skyline as Cranes, Construction vehicles and Tanks skewer them like arrows. Bodies, nothing more than skeletal remains were everywhere. At first you did your best to avoid them, but soon the bleached bones became the cobblestones of the road. You tried not to breathe in the splintered dust clouds, unsure how effective the filters on your intakes were. Next level layer markings began to crop up without sense. For some sick reason Three and Nineteen took turns reading out the fading paint displays. Layer 12 was first, way down almost at the base of the city. Only mud divers and mutants down here. Then Layer 40 came next, a collosal metalic plaque perforating a bus, way into the middle ground and indentured wage slaves. Then you glimpse the sign for Layer 100, a once Intricately woven nest of light and displays now hung gutted a few stories above your heads. The pathfinders don't stop, the route growing more constraining, forcing you to hunch over. Below the clear skies were gone. The upper rigging and tethers keep a few city layers somehow still in the air. No one spoke. The melancholy atmosphere was christened by the choir or cracking and snapping bones. To make things worse the rain returns picking up the song and falling heavily. A white curtain kicking up the disturbed ashes even further. Against the howling wind you swore you could hear cries of pain and anguish. The weeping of hope as she dies. The swelling gusts whip up the rain even more, pouring it down diagonally and seeming at moments horizontally to harass you. Yet you keep advancing lower and lower. Step after step, descending as rivers flow rapidly down the winding tunnel ways. Six's words drumming along your brainpan while you squeeze the Something Wicked between a pile of smashed vehicles and metal poles.As light was rescinded the world grew green. The observers snapping into night vision. Fording the foamy rivers at your feet. The meandering was uneventful until you approximately arrived at the halfway point. Ten Kilometers, approximately. The diameter of the cavern was beyond anything you had ever seen before. A crooked circle dropped from existence and tumbled into the void. Thin bands of light slink down through the messy dome of dishevelled towers above. The crater was an inkwell, nothing but ravenous black. All the rapid streams ran to the lip, ending with noisy waterfalls.
>>5329736The strangest part was easily that some of the ruins were still standing all the way down here, well. Not literally. Propped against a large pile of rubbish or simply lying along the ground. Whole parts of ancient buildings seem to have miraculously survived, while peppered with plants and grime of age the frames held. All were bent, bowing inwards towards the center point. The cavernous hole. A few of the more stable buildings were defiantly upright, leaning out over the massive vacuum like bridges. Inching closer and closer your team witnesses more oddities. Bodies piled on top of one another as some of the pilots claim dark patches were shadows in frightful human shapes. Braving the open area the drones swoop around, sharing additional images and recordings. The unit's range finders fail to ping the bottom as thrown depth measuring pellets continue to count out the length without end. The numbers simply roll higher and higher. You were at the ground zero of something. "Is this on the map?" Six asks, hefting up the rear half of a car before tossing it into the expanse. Your stomach drops as you watch the bisected vehicle get swallowed by the dark after a few seconds. The others weren't approaching the edge as freely. No one answered. "Empress. What is this place?" Three gasps, the maniacal ticking of the depth distance tolling in the background of his broadcast. The fire team stood around basking in uncertainty. "This must be an ordnance test site?" Three proposes, clearly trying to put everyone at ease. Tension began to rouse its head as Nineteen hisses. "In the middle of a city… isn't it obvious? This is...." No one had to say it. None wanted to be responsible for confirming the truth. So no one did. Sometimes questions were better left unanswered. A moment passes as you all soak in the horrific sight. The mission still lay ahead and time was slipping between your fingers. "We aren't gonna reach in time if we have to circle this…" Eleven notes, none of you had time to mourn. "Exactly! Prepare to move out!" You order hauling the pilots from their stupor. Hastily you peruse the scout data. The arching towers rest and almost meet, forming a possible crossing. The massive constructs remind you of Kahva, a twisted mimicry. Aloud you wonder how many tons it could possibly hold, the Knights could surely cross. But you and the Maxima might be pushing it. The Fire Team waits for your word as you think about how to still make the schedule. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Try to cross the fallen buildings?>Take the long way around?>Split up?>Do something else?Write in
>>5329744>Kawazaki Antiparticles, #02 "ONI" Terrain and Environment Observation Modules."Passive" search and tracking capability cannot be understated in usefulness.>Split up?Send The lighter units across; should they feel comfortable doing so, otherwise go the long way. Just means we're going to have to push to make up the time.
>>5329744>>5329770SupportI do like the idea of passively stealing data
>>5329744Passive sensors are great, but hear me out- DronesCover larger area for recon, with some modifications we can use them to set smokescreens or drop bombs on tanks, try to search and rescue downed pilots, and just be useful>Drones>Splitting up
>>5329770>>5329978>>5330250The mission has to take priority. You all knew it wasn't that simple, it would be harder to complete while missing the two most equipped Units. "We have to split up the Fire Team. Nineteen and I will go the long way around. While the rest of you will take the shortcut and head to the mission coordinates." The mood took an even heavier turn as you gesture out to the hunching buildings, mechanical index finger pointing out the route. "That's crazy!" Eleven retorts, looking around the collection of pilots for support. The others don't say anything, instead they wait to see what happened. "Then stay here if you can't keep up." Six tuts as the Nomad Swallow begin the saunter over to where the first building meets the crumbling edge. "You better not keep us waiting for long, just imagine we need your support." With that said the girl began to make the crossing, slowly at first before pushing the Phobos. The lighter unit easily traversing the steep side. "Don't take too long!" Three says along the comms as Nine joins in. "See ya Boss!" Pausing only briefly before subduing his hesitation Eleven joins the others wordlessly. You and Nineteen were just dead weight now the mission always takes priority. Rolling your shoulders, Something Wicked did the same. No time like the present. While the knights cut a path along the dilapidated crossing, the Maxima Dracul and you go the long way around. You didn't have to be psionic to know that everyone wanted to get out of this place as soon as possible. Down here you felt like you were behind god's back. As your eyes linger on the questionable terrain approaching you watch the rapier types glide further up the colossal tower. They are still within LO Comms range and were quickly leaving it. You try not to worry. You try to focus on your own journey. Watching for any hazardous obstacles. Skirting around the edge of the grim pit. The heavy rivers flow with sunbleached refuge and bones, the parades of remains clatter together as they are carried down into the immense hollow below. "Welcome to Acheron… or are we already in Hades?" A voice muffled through the LO Comms, the wavelengths vibrating you though the umbral sphere. You thought it could have been Three or Nineteen. But you weren't sure. "What?" You asked the other pilot, an observer lens zooming in on the Maxima as it kept pace behind you. "Seven?" The Prince Class pilot asked, voice dense with confusion. You hold your tongue and ignore the words.
>>5331986Through the rushing and roaring of waves of water you heard what you at first thought was nothing more than an echo, sounds resounding out from the knight classes. However as the noise persists it only increases in volume, digging, wiggling it's slimy way further into the barrows of your brain. As you and the Maxima sprint on, it grows so bad that you slow to a halt while searching for the source. Looking around, as Nineteen stops at your side he speaks. "I hear it too…" His voice was afraid. Those words were enough to pull aside your own assumptions. What you had convinced yourself was nothing more than a fizzle of excess static from pressure dampeners or the crackle on crushed debris under your feet.In the lull of the motion and commotion you recognize it clearly. In the silence it is clear as day. The sun in the night. Murmuring. Not from the Exterior. Low and fearful. Hushed and chattering. You made out the odd word against the cacophony of countless voices. Wait. Mother. Home. Run. Here. Coming. Death. Life. Deimos. Phobos. The voices were inside the core. From below, above and every side. You start moving again. To escape it, to hide, you had yet to decide. The shadows breathe and weave growing darker around you. Nineteen was on your heels, his comms open. He wasn't speaking, simply breathing hard. Just as ragged as your own. Knowing he was near eased the dark aura, that didn't last long. Your breath catches in your throat, invisible claws rending deep furrows through your esophagus. Your eyes locking on twitching figures. It was no misbent light, no trick of the eye. Figures watch out, peeking from behind demolished windows or empty doorways. As you try to focus on them, observers snapping in to enhance the bodies you find nothing but the dreaming shade. Endless and waiting. The continues, as you see one it retreats from view.
>>5331987The ONI system was active and quiet. Prodding the integral system it lights up, a grid map of the surrounding area flowing out as the sensors send you warm data. Nothing but dust and echoes. Nothing vaguely humanesque. You hoped the system wasn't malfunctioning within the strange zone. "We should hurry up." You were only about a quarter of the way round. "Fuck this place…" Eleven breathlessly adds, you could tell he wasn't having a good time either. He was murmuring to himself over the LO and the others seemingly weren't receiving your signals. Nineteen doesn't wait for you, taking the lead instead, his Phobos kicking up a storm of sand and trash as he pushes the machine hard. As the world slips by giant faces carved from rust and limescale stare out at you, their empty dead eyes tracking the something wicked. Emotions on display ranging from joy and ecstasy to revulsion and rage. Stray coils of pipes and vines dangle from the patchwork ceiling consisting of city structures. Clattering across your taller frame. Like the reeds of a river bank, rain drops trickle down to drip onto the rushing machines. Droplets rolling down the observer's lens and partially blinding you, if only for a second. Betweening the swinging strands of roof reeds you spot an abomination. Blood running cold. Lifeless flesh glistening slick against bold violet veins that bulge out to map the inhuman shape. Scales the shades of amethyst and teal, an uneven spider webbing that copies shattered glass. It moves with a jolty jittery gait, long lean limbs grasping at the hanging vines. Your teeth grind together as it turns to witness your passing, countless eyes and mouths addorn the things underbelly. Flabby lips move without a sound, shaping vowels and syllables unknown to man. "Move it!" you send across the LO Comms to Nineteen. A blink from the ONI systems catches your eye in time to spot The Pride of Silbrisk vanish from your tracker. They had been on the tip of your range for some time. You stare at the other directional pings as the Lance of Yiga disappears next followed by the Dream Strider and then the Nomad Swallow. It was just you and Maxima left. "I'm getting corrupted frequency pings from the west!! It is nothing but an uncompressed Matter Index…" Nineteen stammers not bothering to restrain the shrill fear in his voice.
>>5331988Your cold eyes flicker in the direction, examining collapsed walkways and alleyways. Meshed and layer atop one another like some uneven pile of lunch trays. An amalgamation of storefronts and living rooms. A thousand little cavities stretching out for Empress knows how far. Climbing into your shell you feel numb and distant to the world. Something Wicked reacts instantly, any neural latency dropping off in an instant as you sink further. Falling into the third layer. You inhale blood but focus on the moment at hand, not allowing the machine to tempt you. "Ignore it. I'm getting feedback as well. Who knows what type of shielding metal or suppression thickness is in here, it must be interfering with the signals readings!" You flow like the water, the emperor reacting perfectly. In the core you move, legs reaching out as you feel yourself scramble over, run along and bounce across the crude flooring. Each bent lamppost or old railing bending under your star flesh. "Seven. I unscrambled the index. I'm sending it your way." As he spoke a small pop up arrived through the shared systems. It plays without you prompting. Unfiltered light. Lest it rest upon thy brow. Ignite upon thou untethered and unbound. Thy unchosen. Thy unbranded. Thy unworthy. Thy ungifted. Thy unloved. Thy unwanted. Unfiltered dark. Thy reside. Tumor known to only thou. Transcendent unalloy flesh. Emancipation of the burden soul. Beyond thy. Beyond we. Beyond all. In over a million lost voices the sorrow laden cry out.Woof Woof, little doggy.Your body flinches to the side, instantly you retreat from the depths, climbing back into the safety of the upper layers. You don't hear the words. The empty sounds read into your mind. "Nothing but static right? This trash just maxed out my third sub storage bank. Fucking two hundred year old malware. What cunts…" Nineteen answers, having a one-way conversation with himself. Not bothering to question how an transmission that old could persist for so long. Eyes searching the abyss you float within. They finally spot movement. She is there, like an eel her naked body rolls at impossible angles. Thighs bending, face shimmering as her arms reach for you. Fingers hot as molten metal, the core boils as they sear against your ears. You kick and writhe under her excruciating touch. He watches from afar, the aloof Half Soul not intervening.
>>5331990Fighting the grasp you thrash about. Sitting up suddenly you smack your forehead painfully against something. The telltale feeling over exposed meat told you of a graze. Opening your eyes you cough and sputter next as the pain spreads to your two orbs. A shower of dust peppering your eyes, nose and mouth. Coughing a cruel and gagging fit you hear another sound. One that pulls you from the overwhelming moment. A frightened yelp, soft and sickly. The whimper of terror. Glancing around you panic, in the dark through burning eyes you can make out a few things and a few things only. You were somehow under a bed, wooden in frame and slat the mattress and covers kept any helpful light from creeping under. But through the small gaps amber glows. "Come out!" The hesitant voice demands and to escape the chamber of dust and pain you do so. Crawling against the soft duvet to reveal the new world. A gasping whine rose up again. From on the bed now, you couldn't miss it. Like your short stay on the Vilhena express, the abode was lavish. Your first unhindered sight was that of large regal furnishings. Turning to find the sound you were met by the face of a child. Or what your perception tried to define as a youth. Long bleeding bands of colourful hair leak across the white pallet of the sheets, dripping and coagulating into thick pools on either side. The rainbow stained bed covers pulled up to shield a single pinpoint black hole of nothing, the other eye was replaced by scratches of reality, the headboard and duck lined wallpaper behind warped and bent through the nail points. An angelic porcelain mask of cherubim cheeks and flawless lips. The pomegranate petals open, words tumbling out. "You're a monster aren't you? Something Wicked. I can tell. Why else would you be under my bed? You only look human. I can tell you know. I'm nine." You blink at the thing. !!MIND TEST!!>Roll 3d6+1>Highest of the first three rolls will be used.>Stats give a bonus to relevant tests. Failure: 3-7Partial failure : 8-10Partial success :11-13 Success : 14-18Critical Success: 19+
Rolled 5 + 1 (1d6 + 1)>>5331991
Rolled 3, 5, 2 + 1 = 11 (3d6 + 1)>>5331991
Rolled 6, 5, 3 + 1 = 15 (3d6 + 1)>>5331991
Rolled 2, 5, 3 + 1 = 11 (3d6 + 1)>>5331991Whoops.
>>5332075You saved us
>>5332181The partial succes would also have been acceptable instead of the pain given by a failure
>>5332052>>5332075>>533213411, 15, 11 !!TEST PASSED!!Although the nine year olds claim otherwise you could tell she was afraid. The fracture point and void never daring to leave you. Her angelic lips twist in annoyance awaiting a reply. Repositioning yourself to sit up properly, the girl shuffling away in turn. Exasperated you speak. "I'm not a monster. I'm Mortimer, you can call me Morty if you wish." You are unsure how you know but she squints at you, clearly unconvinced. The girl points to your side, you turn to find a large mirror, the frame beautifully carved into the large double doors of a wardrobe. Seamless the wooden framing seemed to hold no handle or method of opening. Another grotesquity watches back. Your hair was bloody, fibers of iron dark and hard against the blue pallor of your complexion. You were a corpse. Purple lips spread to reveal smashed teeth. The clothes you wore were just as strange, a worn waistcoat was unbuttoned and a foul ruinous gash ran along your sternum. High climbing trousers wet around the ankles with unidentifiable biles. What remains of your shirt speckled with the dirt of your homeland and the blood of the soil. Both pairs of eyes meet in the reflection. For a moment the fear, the pain and the hatred. It shudders throughout you, bitter and cruel. But then it was gone. A relieved sigh whistles out from your perforated lungs. "See…" The little girl insists. You nod, eyes still lingering on the reflection. The child sits up, shifting to her knees to get a better look at you. "What do you want, Morty the monster? Are you hiding from the storm as well? Or do you wish to fete with the rest of them?" You were unsure of everything, mind rattling loudly. Body empty as logic did back flips off the stage into the audience and out into the street beyond. "The Storm?" You inquire words echoing in the room. "I'm Acanthus. You aren't Morty. You're Lost!" The child says with a chuckle, standing up to reveal her ichor matted nightgown. The pulled back duvet unveils nothing but a clotted spectrum. You say nothing. "Ugh fine, I'll show you then. But you have to promise not to eat me!" You nod in agreement.
>>5332343With a clash of thunder the world rumbles, the long brittle bones of your body breaking further. It didn't seem to halt the little monstrosity, hopping down from the bed she wasted no time rushing over to the nearest window. Acanthus ascends a small footstool to reach the straining latches. Colourful droplets paint your body as she passes by. Oily and lumpy it spreads unevenly at your touch, unwilling to leave easily. With some fumbling the child got the latch free. The wind blowing open the large windows with a catastrophic clatter. Acanthus was sent sprawling by the sudden forceful power. Moving quickly you pluck the small creature from the free fall and spare her from a painful landing. Pelted with greasy rain in reward for your bravery. Clutched in your cold arms she burned, body steaming in reaction to your touch. Fighting the pain you seek refuge against the rabid curtains and blinders crouching below the redwood windowsill.Eventually as the curtains rip free and are sucked out you risk rising up from the windowsill lip to look at the outside world. The horizon glows, blisteringly hot streaks of neon whites and reds, yellow crackling arcs cutting through the black and silver clouds. Bulbous and bumpy, cauliflowered they threaten to swallow the distant giants whole. Massive silhouettes throw themselves at one another ripping and tearing, swinging at and pinning one another as an endless melee rages. "It's growing closer!" Acanthus gestures out when she doesn't have to. You couldn't miss the clouds steadily encroaching. The horizon is nowhere near far enough to spare you both. Howling Tracer rounds zip troughs through the night sky as high density beams and explosive rounds detonate thunderously. Against the flashing kaleidoscope of light you feel them all die, Umbral Cores crushed, shot, slashed, eviscerated, exsanguinated, evaporated and eradicated as endless souls did undoing work amongst them very selves. It calls to you, the drums of war, her voice on the rhythm, the ravenous off tempo beat of bloodshed. Copperas vapors fill the air, the stench of lust exuding from heavy liquid. Thick and suffocating. Rich sickness tasting like chocolate. You feel it. The flavours, so metallic. Threateningly fanatic. Both of your hands drive down, tightly gripping the handle of a serrated vibration blade, the warbling blade cracked from overuse but was still wieldable.
>>5332346It takes you a few brutal slams for the Phobos' defensive posture to break as the point inches through the plating, peeling back and away. Revealing, exposing the tender core before plunging in without restraint. You feel your core cave in, the oscillating weapon rend you apart into nothing but pulp and steam. He dies in your hands, before you can react in time a barrel presses against your spine. You pull the trigger, casting scraps and deposits of synthetic guts across the battlefield. You go to move and stumble, legs caught in the wire, monofilament nanite seams bite into your exterior plating, pulling tight and priming the depleted thaxium reserves. The detonation takes with it the side of the mountain and for a millisecond a sun is born in the night. You watch yourself die, striking yourself down one after another. You feel everything. Frozen in awe and terror. Mind little more than a million manic monologues. Final words, bitter curses, sacrificial roars."Mother told me to sleep. But they are all fetting below. She always tells me the monsters below my bed aren't real. But you are. She'd have to believe me after seeing you." You tear your eyes from the sight of carnage. Limbs giving into rigor mortis as you annihilate yourself. Toppling backwards you feel your body return to you, escaping the encompassing allure of the storm. Acanthus helps you up, her small hand leading you towards her bedroom door. "Let's go!" She whines handcrafted facade pleading. You turn back and see the storm closer than before. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Head out into the Storm.>Head down to the Party.
>>5332349>What do you say?Why am I the monster and not the ones who turned me into this?>Head out into the Storm
>>5332349>Head out into the Storm.Sorry girl, but my place is out there. On the battlefield.
>>5332349>Head out into the StormOur duty to complete the mission should give us enough instinct to keep moving
>>5332407>>5332807>>5332898You take a step with the worried child. The cognitive boundaries halt your body, quelling the instincts that urge you to follow on. Your teeth grind as the edges and sharp lines that made up this place vibrate. "Why am I the monster and not the ones who turned me into this?" Tugging against your grip the little girl turns to watch you. Her small hands barely encompass your own. Tears roll from what you consider were her eyes, more foul ink welling up, the horrific visage shifting back to the window you fled from. Back towards the storm. Her lips tremble. "We… live to serve…" The voice is eclipsed by the banshees of the gales. Against all odds the words were heard. But fell on deafened ears. "Sorry girl, but my place is out there. On the battlefield." The letters were hot, each word searing the rain as it whips against your back, the putrid liquid bubbling and spitting as it burns black. The lure rang. The Sirens of Anthemoessa scream and plead. Calling out your name. Demanding you bring them your fair share of blood. You pivot, pulling the girl along against her will. Despite her protests and screams you step up to the window frame, joining the small creature as you scream in defiance of the storm. Against the buffet of invisible hands you move a fluid motion, hefting the small girl to your hip and stepping from the portal. As you do the carnage touches flesh. The mass of air and fury. A million talons, blades of grass, dirt and rain. Devils wishing to carry you to the edge of oblivion until the roots of your soul are split from the earth and dance amongst the clouds. You fall, the core catching you without issue. Feet first you sink into the umbral embrace. The wretched womb of the Something Wicked stirs, she wakes to your touch rousing from her resting spot. You mind links to the machine. Eyes burning against the torrential downpour, through the blinding shower a metallic fist strikes you. Smashing your body into the estate building at your back. Pain lances down your lungs as you feel the metal exterior buckle. The motion carries you through, the walls buckling as you escape another reckless blow. Instinctively your legs kick off as you try to escape. At your side Acanthus screams, enwrapped by throes of pain. Her words burning as the core grew murky with pale and bitter ink. Her filth seeping into you. "Mother!" She howls, the words of your own voice.
>>5336838For a fraction of a moment you were back on that mountain, the snow in your eyes. Arms like steel barring you from escape, her face. You couldn't remember it. You blink, observers moving against your command. Tearing you away just a second too soon. Her dress had been dark blue that day, a long coat held closed by faded green ribbons. The last thing you saw were the pale blonde braids that rested around her neck. Now new life bled into your eyes, a cataract that hides your past. Fresh death. The estate house that was once surely a model of extravagance and nobility lay destitute around you. The blasting rage of the hurricane unending, your sight is burrowed beyond seizing back. Stunned at the revelation you can only witness. The lens focusing in. Shadows of life, haunting masqueraders lay slaughtered. Black beings of shadow masked with elegant ivory veils, long dead before your own arrival. "Mother!" A single body lay in your sight, a gown of stars swimming on a crimson stage. You steal back the controls, sparing the child any further exposure. Looking up in time to save yourself another wound, hips twisting you rolls backwards through the walls that still remain. The spot where your long metal body once rests collapsing in as a foot smashed through. The swirling motion within the core kicks up more pollutants from the girl, the world growing opaque with alien matter. Blinding you as you slid further away, escaping the household back into the rains. But still you glimpse it, against the child's anguished cries. Shadowclad and lacquered in the night. A dark reflection of Something Wicked. Hunched over the ruins on all fours, a beast cloaked in the storm, it glares at you. Contemptuous furiosity oozing from it. You move in unison, hand grasping as your Phobos ejects a high frequency blade. Without explanation it was born into existence. Fending off the mirror was harder than expected, its movement and snapping limbs unnatural and jittery. Struggle within the milky core was no easy task, the world steadily obscured by the haze. Down below Acanthus drifts, the black depths billowing out more white fluid. You fail to grasp the world around you, as skeletal hands find you, creeping from impurities. Hauling you from the Phobos. The pathways are dead, necrotic tissue. But even still they remain. Dead veins, dried and holding nothing but ghosts and nightmares. The false pilot pulls you into himself. His umbral abode spared the mess that was busy cluttering your own. Clear and cold. A being of nothing and something, your hands sink through the figure of shadow.
>>5336840Fighting the being of shade as he tries to wrap his tendril limbs around your neck. His observers blare life, working unhindered by your arrival. Your own Phobos defenseless and pinned. Weakness seeps into you, hope slipping from your fists as they meet nothing but vaporous silk. The incorporeal opponent at a clear advantage. You see it quiver, The Something Wicked lashes out. A knee rises up and throws the copy off balance, without your command it dances. Blurring blade finding footholds as it tends apart the adversary bit by bit. The foreign grip slips free from you, as the copy begins to respond. Breathing deeply within the strange core you muse on what to do next. Uncertainty nipping at your toes. >What do you do, Pilot?>What do you say?Write in?>Try to use Veil Breach to suppress the machine around you? >Try and escape the Strange Core?>Try and wrestle control from the Apparition?>Do Something else?Write in
>>5336841>Try to use Veil Breach to suppress the machine around you? If I understand, we’re fighting an incorporeal being outside our Phobos in a milky/strange core?I’d say we need to get back in our Phobos and out of this situation. Maybe since we now have breathing room we try to attack in an unexpected way. Fighting physically didn’t help us right now.
>>5337288+1Incorporeal? Well, either try to escape or swap to non-physical attacks
>>5337288>>5337520>>5337710Howdy anons, Unfortunately I'm not feeling the quest currently. I've been struggling to write at a consistent pace and level for the current updates and generally with the quest. So I'll put a pause to it. Instead I'll try running some one shot to get creativity flowing again before returning. Sorry for flaking out everyone.