RP XSDF Roleplay Thread: Vanguard of Forseti


Game Master
Staff member
This is the official thread for the main role-playing. Please post all in-character solo and collaborative posts here, while leaving any Out Of Character post on the Think Tank.

Dates should be kept close together, but do not have to be strictly chronological. As long as you do not date a post for before the last mission, and you do not jump significantly before or after the other posts (i.e., if the last post was dated for March 1st, don't date yours for March 15th, suddenly skipping two weeks).

Finally, ZombieSplitter53 and/or DarkGemini24601 will, for the most part, provide the mission briefings to those participating in them ahead of time so the briefings and mission role-playing can go up at the same time. As such, if a mission briefing is posted, please do not post anything until the mission role-playing goes up. Anyone who does will have to delete their post so the briefing and subsequent RP are next to each other.


Game Master
Staff member
Tanaka Sciences, Primary Earth HQ
Yokohama, Japan
January 1st, 2044

“But… b-but are you… are you sure?”

Rei sighed as she finished downloading the last of her documents and notes. “Daniel… you have asked me that question thirteen times. I have been counting.”

Daniel scratched the back of his head nervously. He stood from the office’s couch and began pacing the room, something he had done frequently since the first time Rei had told him. “But… but I’m not sure I…”

“Are you saying you doubt your own capabilities?” Rei looked up at the nervous man. “Do you doubt my capacity to judge the potential of another?”

“No, Ms. Tanaka…”

“Rei, please.”

“No… Rei.” Daniel slowed his pacing ever so slightly. “I… but I’m American. Do you really think all of the Japanese employees…”

“My adopted father is American,” Rei said bluntly. “My mother, Inuit. It is 2044. We have aliens on Earth. We are closer to a global mindset then we have been since the dawn of mankind. If anyone here doubts you because you aren’t of Japanese decent… fire them.” She leaned back, looking up at the ceiling. “Besides… you’ll be traveling between the corporate headquarters a lot. You’ll likely only be on Earth for a quarter of the year.”

“That’s… why you are joining the XSDF, right?” Daniel asked. “So you can try and be assigned to Forseti, and spend time with your family, instead of… constantly traveling away.”

“Yes, it is… though there is a bit more.” Rei stood up, placing the last of the items from her office into her bag. “The XSDF’s predecessor, XCOM… I owe a lot to them. They saved my life, as well as that of my family. My parents worked for XCOM, and met there, and I owe my success to them pushing me. And, of course, XCOM saved the world. I have followed my dream, and succeeded. It is time I give back by lending my expertise to the XSDF.” She smiled ever so slightly as she adjusted her glasses. “Additionally… my contact in the XSDF has promised me a befitting position.”

Daniel smiled, and extended his hand. “Well, then… good luck, Ms… Rei. Your position will be waiting for you should you decide to come back.”

“And good luck to you. I have all the faith in the world in your capabilities.” Rei accepted his hand, shaking it vigorously.


XSDF Battleship Einherjar
Main Engineering
January 8th, 2044

Alice slowly scanned the relatively clean Engineering bay. It lacked the smell of use the Arkbird had, a testament to how new the Einherjar was. She walked amongst the scattered engineers, several smiling and nodding as she walked by. Stepping into the room in the back, she stared up at the GFD reactor core, the bright glow emanating off of it reflected in her eyes.

“Getting adjusted to your new workspace?” Aya said behind her, making her jump a bit. “Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.”

“It’s okay.” Alice smiled back. “Been a while. You don’t look like you’ve aged more than a few years.”

“And you don’t look like you’ve aged at all, though that is to be expected.” Aya approached the android women, reaching out. “May I?” Alice nodded, and extended her arm. Aya ran her hands across it, and smiled. “Remarkable. I… I know you’re a… but I still can’t tell. You’ve perfected it.”

“Sunny perfected it,” Alice corrected, but smiled back. “I only continued what she started. Wasn’t cheap… but she’s never spared any expense for me. A true friend.”

Aya chuckled. “Won’t the others be surprised when they find out you’re an and…” Alice yanked her arm away, and the smile faded from Aya’s face almost as fast as her friend’s. “I… I’m sorry, Alice. If I said something to upset you…”

“No, no, you… i-it’s fine, I just…” Alice shook her head. “Can… can we keep my… artificial nature between us. I…”

Alice placed a hand on Alice’s shoulder. “Of course, Alice. And I understand. You… you’re more human to me then many of the actual humans I’ve met. But I understand that not everyone would treat you like that.” Her eyes darted away. “S… Sunny told me what happened to you a week before you joined the XSDF. I… I’m sorry.”

Alice nodded. “It’s okay. It was ten years ago.” She smiled again. “And the XSDF gave me a fresh start. I’m happy I could help the people that gave Sunny the means to create me. And I just hope I can live up to your expectations on this new ship.”

“I know you will, Alice.” Aya wrapped her arm around Alice, and pulled her to the door. “Come on. Let’s see how advanced those taste buds of yours are. To the mess hall.”


XSDF Battleship Einherjar
Internal Maintenance Conduits (“Baʒir Tubes”)
January 9th, 2044

Bɒkɒ slowly crawled through the conduit, doing his best to look for anything out of the ordinary despite the distraction of the twelve other Baʒir following behind him. As he entered one of the access rooms near engineering, which was large enough for everyone to stand, the strong hand of his Alpha grasped one of his arms. “Kek t’ tek kir veir ki Bɒkɒ xyk cirk t’ ki’? Int ker’k nek...” <What is the matter with you lately, Bɒkɒ? You are hardly speaking...>

Bɒkɒ lowered his head. <I... I do not understand why you had to come.>

Tini looked confused. <Why? Because the Commander dismissed another Sect of Baʒir for unsatisfactory...>

<No, Anati... I mean, why did it have to be you? The twelve of you? You did not need to follow me. I am with the XSDF now. I am not civilian staff any longer.>

Tini slowly pulled her arm away. <I am... we... we are family. We stay together. It... it is my life to keep the Sect as one.>

<But would it not have been better for the Sect if you stayed in the comfort of the Starfield? It is larger, and for eleven years...>

<Sect is more important than comfort. Family is... is more important.> Tini took a step back. <You... do not think so anymore? You would... leave the Sect, and go on your own?>

Bɒkɒ turned towards her, ready to speak his mind. Ready to say he wanted to go off on his own. He looked at his brothers and sisters as they sulked back. Teefa held Nana closely, the latter looking on the verge of tears, causing her large, round eyes to gleam. Tini herself looked particularly upset, and slowly turned away. <N... n-no, Anati,> Bɒkɒ said. <Of course not. I am... happy to have my family with me. I would have it no other way. I was only concerned with your health.>

Tini walked over to him, running a hand across the side of his head, her feelers lightly brushing his. <Such a good brother. I am lucky to have you.> She turned to the others, and said, <Alright. Let us find a place to settle. I suggest we make it close to engineering, as usual.>

Bɒkɒ stepped forward. <I... I have a room, like the humans. And I am alone in it. No others wished to... It has more than enough...>

Several of his brothers and sister’s eyes lit up, but Tini shook her head. <No. You... you are XSDF now, and you must be given you independence.>

Bɒkɒ slowly nodded. <Alright. But... you are all free to stay whenever you wish.>

He watched in silence as everyone waved goodbye and stepped back into the tight tubes. Shaking his head, he stepped out into the ship proper, and made his way towards Engineering.


Game Master
Staff member
XSDF Battleship Einherjar
Holo-Training Room
January 9th, 2044

Brigid dived into cover, a trail of plasma right behind her. "Damn... more realistic then I thought..." She took a deep breath, and dived out again, blasting a Human-looking Replitan. His partner took aim, seemingly having Brigid dead to rights, but Brigid pushed herself off the ground with telekinetic energy. Hovering a few feet in the air, she took out the last opponent before it could react.

"Not bad." Brigid turned to the source of the voice, grinning widely as Aya folded her arms. "Of course, you're supposed to get permission to be here. The Commander wouldn't be happy if..." Brigid shot towards her, wrapping her arms around the older woman and squeezing tightly. Aya hugged her back, muttering, "It's been too long."

"Ten years. I'm sorry I didn't come to see you earlier." Brigid stepped back, looking Aya up and down. "Wow, you... you've barely changed."

Aya shrugged. "I suppose. You've changed a lot, of course. I saw your test results, and I was quite impressed. Though you still look like that little girl I once knew."

A small scowl spread across Brigid's face. After a moment to realize where it was coming from, Aya burst into laughter. "What's so funny?" Brigid asked, angrily tapping her foot.

"Oh, just... irony," Aya answered. "Do you remember Elizabeth Walker?"

Brigid nodded. "Of course. I stayed with her and Mr Des... and Desmond for nearly ten months a few years back while training."

Aya chuckled. "Well, I doubt you ever realized it, but you made the occasional comment on her size when you were a kid. And as much as she obviously liked you, she... well..."

"Wanted to wring my little neck?" Brigid folded her arms and pouted. "Guess I owe her an apology."

"Don't stress over it. You were just a child after..." The pair turned to the sound of loud arguing. Entering the room was a Human woman in a lab coat and an enraged looking Ardenian. At the sight of the first officer, the pair rushed forward. "What seems to be the problem? Everything alright, Terratorra?"

"As a matter of fact, no. No, it isn't?" TT pointed towards Brigid. "I was told if I chose to be a soldier, I would have to fight along side these humans, despite my natural superiority."

Brigid rolled her eyes, having to resist the urge to bite his blue finger. She noted the woman in the lab coat, and smiled brightly. "Hey, Rei! Remember me? Commander O'Brien's daughter?"

Rei studied her face for a moment. With a slight smile, she said, "Good to see you again, Brigid. I regret not being there when you visited Canada."

Brigid shrugged. "It's okay. You look good."

"Thank you. And I am glad to see you grew up looking healthy." Rei looked the short soldier up and down. "Um... figuratively speaking."

Brigid narrowed her eyes, but was silenced by Terratorra stomping his hooves. "Excuse me. I was not finished." He pointed at Rei. "As I was not offered a respectable position as a soldier, I chose to work in the labs, only to have this... Human boss me around and give me a small work station."

"That's because she is your boss," Aya answered flatly, folding her arms.

"Unacceptable." TT folded his own arms. "I demand a position fitting my potential. Or else."

Aya narrowed her eyes. "Or else what?"

TT moved his stalk eyes toward, which Aya knew was a Ardenian sign of intimidation. "Do you know who I am? My parents supply the vast majority of Elerium to my world, and I'm sure a healthy supply of your planet's while you attempt to establish your own inferior mining colony. I am stronger and smarter then practically every Human here. If you do not find me a proper position..."

"You'll what? You'll go crying to mommy and daddy?" Aya stepped directly in front of the displeased Ardenian, noting his twitching tail. "You do realize that your parents had to call in a lot of favors, and practically beg for us to take you. Do you really want to embarrass your family, and your people, by losing your shot at another means of proving yourself? Wanna kiss that position in your company goodbye?"

The two glared at each other for a few moments while Brigid tensed up, slowly reaching for what looked like a flask on her belt. Stoic as always, Rei adjusted her glasses and said, "If I might... make a proposition. How about... a battle of wits with myself. And one of skill with Ms. O'Brien. Beat me, and I will follow your orders. Beat her, and you get an officer's position. Beat us both, and it is your choice. Lose to us both, and you chose to either start as a PFC, or work as a regular lab tech."

Aya shook her head. "No, the odds are completely stacked in his favor. If he fails to beat either of you, he has to do both. He operates as a PFC, and volunteers in the labs."

Terratorra scoffed. "Not a problem, as I will easily win. Name you challenge "

Rei thought for a moment. "Riddles. First to answer three wrong loses. And you may go first."

"Very well." TT grinned. "What is greater than God, more evil than the devil. The poor have it, the rich need it, and if you eat it, you'll die."

"Child's play. The answer is nothing," Rei answered, and the Ardenian's expression told her she was right. "Paul is 1.75 meters in height. He works as a butcher's assistant. He wears a size nine shoe. What does he weigh."

Terratorra thought for a moment, then shook his head. "I do not know, and that is an unfair question. I do not have enough information to..."

"He weighs meat," Brigid answered.

TT snared at her for a moment. "There... there are two sisters. One gives birth to the other, and she, in turn, gives birth to the first. Who are the two sisters?" Rei stood in silence, then shook her head. "Day and night."

Rei nodded in understanding. "Fifty crows land in an apple tree every morning. One day, a frustrated farmer grabs a shotgun and fires both barrels into the tree. Twelve crows fall from the tree, dead. How many crows are left in the tree."

"Pft... the answer is thirty-eight. Did you really think..."

"The answer is zero." Rei gave him a neutral look. "Twelve died. The others flew off in fright."

TT gripped his fists in anger. "The... The more you break me, the more of yourself you'll see in me. What..."

"A mirror." Rei folded her arms. "What is at the beginning of eternity, at the end of time and space. At the beginning of end, at the end of every place."

"Easy," TT responded with a grin. "Chaos." Rei shook her head, and the Ardenian's smile faded. "Then... then what is the answer?!"

Rei pulled out a notepad, wrote out the riddle, and handed it to TT. After a solid minute, he growled angrily, and tossed the paper to the side. "You loo-ost," Brigid said in a sing-song voice.

"And next, you will." Terratorra stomped over to her. " I challange you to a test of strength. First one to force the other to move ten feet from their starting position, loses!"

"Whatever," Brigid muttered, moving in front of TT.

Aya raised an eyebrow. "Um, Brigid? I"m not sure that..."

TT charged, throwing all of his weight forward. Brigid waited until he was a few inches away before leaping forward. Wrapping her arms around his stomach with incredible power, she used his momentum and her deceptive strength to send the 240 lbs alien flying. He landed with a thud, and slowly climbed off the ground, starring at the trio in disbelief. After a few moments, he hung his head in defeat, and made a hasty retreat.

Aya sighed, rubbing the back of her neck. "I hope this didn't some how make things worse."

Brigid chuckled. "Who cares. I had fun."

Rei nodded in agreement, the smallest of smiles appearing on her face.
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Game Master
Staff member
XSDF Battleship Einherjar
The Bridge
January 10th, 2044

Aya sat comfortably in her chair, next to the Commander's chair, taking in the command center of the ship. She noted the nervous 2nd officer approaching out of the corner of her eye, waiting until he was close to finally smile at him.

"Lt. Mason, reporting."

"At ease, Frederick." Aya folded her arms, giving him a gentle look. "What do you have for me?"

Freddy lifted his computer pad, handing it to Aya. "Most of the crew is accounted for. We just have a few stragglers. D... despite the Commander's displeasure with their performance, she only dismissed a dozen soldiers, and we were able to fill in those slots with little trouble. Barracks are full but have enough room should we recruit more from colonies on the way. I shall now work on getting you a list..."

"Where did you grow up?"

Frederick blinked several times. "I... beg your pardon?"

Aya shrugged. "I've known you for a few years, but only know things from your file. You don't talk about yourself much, and I was curious why you don't have a very thick accent."

Fred smiled lightly. "Well, I... I grew up in London, and had a fairly... what non-British blokes would call a "thick accent". Mostly from my grandmother. But I was positioned in and around Novum before you took me under your wing, and I... I guess I lost some of it."

Aya nodded, and gave Frederick a look that told him the first question was an ice braker for a more serious question, something she often did. "What do you think of... this. The... expedition."

Frederick bit his lip, sat in the Commander's chair, and lowered his voice. "It... worries me a tad, to be honest. We are going deep into new territory, some distance away from Earth and back up. It wouldn't worry me so much of not for... for how much green we have in those barracks."

Aya nodded, leaning back. "Well... most of them have military backgrounds. But not all of them. I admit, I could use a few seasoned XSDF soldiers. There's us, Wong, Kirchner. A few others. But mostly newbies. It feels like the days of XCOM all over again..."

Frederick smiled nervously. "At least it means the Commander is confident. And it does seem like a simple, negotiable mistake."

Aya nodded, but didn't smile back. "Hope for the best... but prepare for the worst."

There discussion was interrupted by the growl of a very angry woman stomping off the lift. A voluptuous woman with flowing red her stepped in front of the pair, Aya able to see she was Tamearin by her slightly pointed ears and the tail wrapped around her waist like a belt. She shoved a slightly crumpled sheet of paper into Frederick's face. "What is this bullshit!"

Fred looked the paper over, and Aya leaned over to look, commenting, "It appears to be a notice of final warning. Already about to get kicked out, Ms. Devolina?"

"I... I haven't done anything wrong!" Korra shouted, stomping her foot.

Aya glared at her. "If that is how you speak with your superiors, I am surprised you are just getting a warning," she responded, raising her voice slightly.

Korra's shoulders slumped. Her tone softened, she looked down to the floor. "I... I'm sorry. But... but I..."

"She's right." Frederick handed the notice to Aya. "There is no actual listing of an inciting incident. Maybe... maybe the Commander forgot to put it in. Or... maybe she..."

"Well, I'm going to find out." Korra quickly took the notice back and walked over to the Commander's ready-room. Before she could be stopped, she rushed inside, standing in front of the Commander's desk, the occupant quietly reading a large book. She stared to speak, but was silenced by the Commander's raised hand, the woman having yet to look up.

After a solid three minutes of silence, Astasha finally placed the book down. "There is terribly little time to read lately. It is... troubling when I attempt to do so and I'm interrupted." She folded her hands. "What can I do for you, Ms. Devolina?" Her expression and the way she eyed the paper told Korra she already knew the answer.

Remembering Aya's words, the young Tamearin took a deep breath and spoke as calmly as she could. "Commander... sir... I have done nothing wrong. And this does not say what I've done to deserve a warning. So... why do I have it?"

"Because, Mr. Devolina, I am well aware of your record. Consider this a warning that your past discretions will not be tolerated here."

"So... so you admit I didn't actually do anything to warrant this?" Korra fought to keep her anger at bay, but her voice started to raise. "I... I am not the only person here with a history of..."

"You are not like most people. You are quite different from... my people."

Korra's eyes widened a bit. "You... I... I am not the only Tamearin here. And... and many of them share my... infliction..."

Astasha scoffed, leaning back in her chair. "Yes, Ms. Devolina. I am well aware of the XSDF and the Council's tendency to accept your world's outcasts and unwanted." She narrowed her eyes slightly. "I'll have to give them a similar warning. Might as well give the... 'normal' ones a warning too."


Well-Known Member
ZombieSplitter53 and DarkGemini24601: “Won't Let You Go It Alone, Part 1”

Earth, Sol System (January 9th, 2044)
St. Petersburg, Russia (6:26 P.M.)
Dragomirov Residence

Mikhail knocked vigorously on Sasha's door, his XSDF acceptance letter crumpled in his clenched fist. "Sasha! Sasha, please, open the door. We... we need to talk about this!" He bit his lip so hard he was close to drawing blood.

"What is there to talk about?" Sasha called out from behind the door, the sounds of a suitcase being packed clear as day. "It's just a transfer from military organization to military organization."

"No... it isn't!" Mikhail slammed a fist against the wall, harder than he had intended. "You... the XSDF, they... they go out into space, they fight aliens... they deal with hazardous materials and weapons, and... you'll have to go into space!"

"I can protect myself!" Sasha snapped, shoving a set of light red boxing gloves into her suitcase. "I didn't screw up in the Russian army and I won't in the XSDF either." To herself, she muttered, "I'm not afraid of space anyway."

"I... I-I didn't say you would screw up, I..." Mikhail slammed his fist against the wall again. He sighed, turning and leaning against the same wall. "But it is a lot more intense, and... and I can't... I don't know if... if I can..." He let out another frustrated sigh, and slumped to the floor, looking down.

Is this about her... or me?

"If you can't handle it then you don't have to go," Sasha said quietly, staring down at the ground for a moment. But you're stronger than I am, especially in will. They need you more, even if this is something I have to do, the young Russian-American woman thought privately.

Yeah. Abandon her. Let her go it alone for your own sake. Wouldn't be the first time, right?

Mikhail squeezed his eyes shut. "I... I-I can't, Sasha. You... I need to be there to protect you. Even... even if you don't need me, I... I'm sorry. I'm just... scared. Scared to lose you. And... scared for myself."

Sasha shook her head, opening the door slightly. "You don't need to prove yourself or watch over me. You... you are a good soldier. Me? I need to prove that I'm more than just someone who made it past training solely because she can use a few weak psionic powers." Sasha accented her point by forming a small, faint swirl of orange energy in her right hand.

Mikhail slowly looked up at hs sister. "But... but I know you are more than that. And so does mother. And father. And Irina. You... you don't need to prove yourself to any of us, so... why the XSDF?"

"Because..." Sasha shifted her gray ushanka uncomfortably. "The world is a lot safer now. I'm not going to make a difference outside the XSDF now... and I..." Sasha trembled a little, looking away from Mikhail. "I need to prove to myself that I'm capable of doing more, of being... worth something. Of being worthy of the Dragomirov name."

"You... You're more worthy of it than you think." Mikhail looked away.

More worthy than a brother who...

Mikhail slowly stood up. "I... I want you to find that confidence. That is why I... eventually... agreed to your decision to join the military with me. But... but the XSDF is a big step. It isn't a matter of whether you're good enough. There are so many things that could go wrong. A Balamadaar with an attitude problem. A mechanical malfunction in... s-space. A problem with the weapons." Mikhail shuddered. "If.... i-if I lost you so needlessly...

"This is all about you!" Sasha clenched her fists. "Did it ever occur to you that I don't want to do nothing with my life... just sit around and hope these shitty... pills... would help me be happy on their own?" she screamed, accidentally knocking over a container of her antidepressants and spilling them on the floor with her telekinesis. "That I don't... want to wallow in... uselessness until... I-I..."

Tears rimmed her dark green eyes, and Sasha put her face in her hands, sobbing quietly. Nice job wasting your parents' money...

A few tears ran down Mikhail's cheeks as he stroked his sister's hair. "I.. I know it isn't about me, but... but I want to be there with you. I want to see you prove yourself, and be there to remind you of how truly strong you are. And... if there is one person in this world I could trust to watch my back, it's you."

"I don't know why you put up with me..." Sasha mumbled. "It'd be so much easier if you just looked out for yourself." Even if I need you just to get by. "But... I'm... glad that you do. It means a lot to me."

"Just... doing my job. Siblings are supposed to look out for each other." Mikhail looked at the sheet of paper once more. "And we'll have to now more than ever."

Sasha finally pulled back, nodding and wiping her eyes. "You'd better start packing if you haven't already."

Mikhail nodded. "I... I have. Somehow, I didn't think I was going to convince you." He turned down the hall, but glanced back. "But you did a fine job convincing me, huh?" Sasha just shook her head, returning to her room to finish up getting ready.

Thirty-six Hours Later
Einherjar, Main Hangar

Mikhail practically sprang off the shuttle craft, his face a ghastly white. The larger ship might have been a far cry from Earth, but it felt a lot more like solid land, and he had to resist the urge to kiss the ground. He received a number of confused looks from some of the other recruits, but he ignored them.

Sasha followed out in a more relaxed fashion, avoiding comment on her brother's condition wisely. She had her own worries, though, fearful that if there was a psychological examination she might fail that entirely. I've gotten stronger since six years ago, but still...

Shaking her head, she asked Mikhail, "Where do we go from here?"

"Maybe we should ask her," Mikhail answered, pointing to the recruits lining up in front of an irritable looking woman.

As the siblings hurried to join them, the woman spoke bluntly. "Astasha Streczyk, Commander of the XSDF. You will address me as Commander Streczyk, or simply Commander. I am a woman of few words, so I will make this brief. You all know why you are here. I now need to make sure you deserve to be here. Consider yourself on probation from now until I decide you are worthy. Now... follow me to our training room for a short physical test to make sure we didn't miss anything with our initial recruitment."

Probation... since when are we conscripts? Shifting uneasily, Sasha followed, resting a hand on the right wrist bracelet her mother had given to her as a gift. It was a simple green design with red and pink bands around it, but it offered her comfort, the same as the gray ushanka from her father did.

Leading the group to a large holo-training room, the Commander pointed them to the wall and started calling names one by one. Mikhail leaned against the wall next to his sister, whispering, "You ready? I mean... you'll do fine, just... you know."

"I wouldn't have come here if I wasn't," Sasha replied hesitantly. Right?

Mikhail nodded as the name Dragomirov was called. With no first name, the siblings walked up together, standing next to a man with short black hair and an officer's badge. With a slight British accent, he said, "This is a fairly simply obstacle course with a brief shooting section at the end. Don't let the Commander's warnings intimidate you."

The room lit up as the holograms reset. Mikhail was familiar with such rooms, but had never seen such a large one. "Whoa..."

The British officer smiled softly. "Ready?"

Sasha nodded, the tension leaving her muscles. "Ready."
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Well-Known Member
ZombieSplitter53 and DarkGemini24601: “Won't Let You Go It Alone, Part 2”

Sasha went after him, having a bit of trouble catching up to her brother, but not falling behind too far. The twins reached a wall to climb, Mikhail starting to pull himself up the small outcroppings with a frustrated sigh. His sister, however, closed her eyes, concentrating power carefully but not wanting to waste time. With a burst of orange beneath her feet, the telekinetic boost shot her atop the 6-foot high barrier, enabling her to catch up with Mikhail.''

Despite being overtaken, Mikhail couldn't help but smile. He pushed himself, making it up and over. After a basic tire run, the pair reached the end, Mikhail a few feet behind his sister. He grabbed the practice weapons off the table, taking a moment to marvel at how real they felt, and rushed into cover. He stuck his head over, scanning for anything that moved. Slight movement in a bush made him fire, but other than the simulated flames of the shrubbery, there was no indication that he had hit anything.

Sasha did likewise, grabbing a regular rifle, though she held her fire, waiting for the target to shot itself. Finally, the silhouette appeared, targeting Sasha and forcing her behind cover with a hail of simulated light machine gun fire.

With a grunt, Mikhail looked over again, taking aim at a towering Balmadaar. It roared as soon as it saw him, and his eyes widened. The alien fired, a plasma round punching into the cover just below his head. He fired back, his own round striking the alien's head and downing it.

Sasha grabbed a simulated rock, waiting a few seconds before tossing it. The enemy fire diverted to her side, drawn by the sudden movement and noise, and the Russian shot the machine gunner, downing him as well.

One last enemy rushed forward, this one human. Caught a bit off guard, Mikhail hesitated again, only firing when the opponent turned his weapon towards Sasha's position. A pull of the trigger melted the hologram's chest armor, dropping him to his knees, and Sasha finished him off.

The simulation ended, and the pair walked over to the Commander, standing with the same sour look on her face as before. Next to her was a blonde Japanese woman, making notes on a computer pad. "So," Streczyk started, "How do you think you did?"

Why do I get the feeling we are screwed no matter what we say? Putting on a neutral expression, Sasha responded, "Well enough to complete the course?"

Mikhail hid a surprised look, only saying, "Agreed."

A grin spread across Streczyk's face, one more nerve racking than her scowl. "Good answer." The grin quickly faded. "But you, son, need to work on that trigger finger. That hesitation can, and likely will, get you or a teammate killed in a real battle. And work on that endurance. You were sweating a bit too much for my liking."

"Y... yes, Commander," Mikhail answered.

"And you." The Commander turned to Sasha. "You need to hustle more. And save those psionics. They shouldn't be relied on, and you shouldn't have used them before at least trying that wall. Is that clear?"

Sasha nodded quickly. "Y-Yessir."

Streczyk nodded and walked away, her angry scowl returning in full as she neared a recruit who had failed miserably.

"Um... does that mean we passed?" Mikhail asked, mostly to himself.

"You did," the Japanese woman answered. "As I expected. You both have your father's drive and potential, even if it is harder to see by certain individuals."

Sasha tilted her head to the side, looking over the woman in her apparent thirties. "You know my father?"

"And your mother. I'm first officer Aya Brea. I served with them during the Ethereal Subjugation War." Aya extended her hand, shaking both of the siblings. "And I look forward to working with both of you. I was a little surprised to see your names on the list. But pleasantly so."

"Th... Thank you. We'll do our best." Mikhail smiled, resisting the urge to ask Aya how old she was.

"I promise I will do my best to live up to your expectations," Sasha added, wondering the same thing.

Aya handed them both their room assignments, as well as clearance to get their supplies and uniforms. With a nod, she walked over to the yelling Commander, the twins noting what looked like a roll of her eyes as she went.

Sasha went to the uniform room with MIkhail. As the two waited on their equipment to be taken out of storage, Sasha muttered, "I don't like Streczyk."

"I don't either," Mikhail murmured, smiling as a clerk handed him a uniform. "But let's keep that between us. She might have people that report to her. No need stirring up a hornet's nest if we can avoid it."

"Yeah, yeah." I still don't like her. I don't think anyone does.

One of the guards at the door cleared his throat. "Since you two were due for a checkup in the Russian military soon anyway, would you mind reporting to the medical ward?"

"Um, no, that's fine." Mikhail gathered up his standard issue supplies and motioned for Sasha to follow him. As they went down the basic path laid out in the directions, he said, "This ship is a lot bigger than I thought it would be. Hope I don't get lost again..."

"Just don't go through any double-layered doors," Sasha warned, only partially trying to be teasing. "Those are airlocks."

Mikhail laughed nervously, a forced laugh that shook along with his whole body as they reached the medical bay. "I'll... remember that. Heh heh... or, Lord..."

"Don't think about it too hard. I'm pretty sure they keep the airlocks locked unless you have special permission to leave," Sasha reassured him.

"Yeah... yeah... sorry." Mikhail put on the smile he wore to hide nervousness Sasha was all-too familiar with, and approached someone he believed was medical staff, though he was yet to get used to the different uniforms. "Hi, um... we were told to get a physical. I'm hoping we don't need an appointment, though with how big the ship is..."

The doctor turned around, being a young woman with short black hair that was mostly straight with a slight wave to it. "No, it's-" she began, having a slight French accent, but paused when she saw the twins. "Sasha? Mikhail? You're both part of the XSDF now?" she asked with quiet surprise.

Sasha's eyes immediately lit up. "I could ask you the same thing, Irina," she returned with excitement.

Mikhail scratched his chin. "Small world, huh? Yeah, Sash... we wanted to prove ourselves, and the XSDF seemed the best way. I'd imagine that had something to do with you being here?"

"They asked for me," Irina responded. "Lily was going to request I work for her after my residency, but she seemed content with me joining the XSDF."

"Bet she didn't like losing you, though," Mikhail muttered. Frowning, he quickly said, "I... I meant that... as a compliment, of course."

Irina shook her head. "No offense taken."

Sasha smiled. "Well, while you evaluate us, why don't you tell us how you got here in detail?"

The French doctor nodded slowly. "I guess it isn't too long a story..."


Well-Known Member
ZombieSplitter53 and DarkGemini24601: “Won't Let You Go It Alone, Part 3”

(Flashback Start)

Nova III, Belarus System (January 8th, 2044)
City of Stella, Novum Colony (10:54 A.M.)
Green Spiral Hospital

"What is the problem?" Irina asked simply, walking by another French doctor, a young man who was two years younger than her.

"The patient said something about having cut himself on a kitchen knife. The wound isn't too wide, but it cut pretty badly into his shoulder," her assistant replied in French, seeming a bit panicked and his words coming out too quickly.

Irina shook her head. "It'll be fine, just take me to him," she responded, quickening her pace. The two arrived at a room marked 023, on the second of three floors on the small local hospital. Inside, there was a man with a laceration wound on his shoulder, sweating and seeming more panicked that Irina's assistant. The French woman walked over to him, quickly doing her best to think of the proper English for this situation, Russian and French being her primary languages.

"Remain calm, I will take care of you," Irina decided on and told him, pulling out a small syringe.

"W-What are you going to do?" the man asked, his eyes widening. Irina waved her hands pleadingly, not meaning to scare him, and looked at her assistant for help.

"She's just going to numb the pain so we can seal up the wound," the male doctor said in English, putting on a reassuring smile. The man began to calm down, allowing Irina to apply the local anesthetic.

"The stitching kit," Irina requested, pointing at the wall while looking at the wound to make sure there was no other serious damage that needed to be assessed. Her assistant handed her the kit, and satisfied that the wound had dealt no nerve damage, Irina began applying the Tz6-fiber stitches that helped seal up a wound such as this one in record time, melting away in about 6 hours. The man flinched, but Irina knew what to say here. "You won't feel a thing, I promise."

Relaxing again, the man allowed himself to be patched up, and Irina's assistant informed him to just stay at Green Spiral until the wound was fully healed in six hours. Their work done, the two doctors (out of ten working at the hospital) exited the room. They went to a break room, Irina tapping a few buttons on a drink machine to get a can marked 'Pine Tea', a synthetic flavor invented in 2025.

Her assistant simply got a coke, which he insisted was the 'drink of true intellectuals', whatever that meant. "Wish we had more staff here," he lamented as he sat down with a tired sigh.

Irina just nodded slightly at first, sitting down across from him and opening her can, having a small sip. I'd like to brew real tea, but... I don't have the time today. "I have an extended break today," she informed the younger doctor.

"Like hell you do..." The man responded. "What do you plan on doing with it?"

Irina shrugged. "Take a walk."

"You're a woman of few words, you know."

"I know."

"That's uh... blunt."

"Was I supposed to say something else?"

"...forget it." The assistant doctor got up, pushing in his chair. "See you in two hours then."

Still seeming a little confused by her assistant's actions, Irina just nodded, getting up as well an walking downstairs, exiting through the automatic doors at the front of the building past the front desk. She briefly glanced up at the green double-helix symbol that the hospital used, an old-fashioned neon-lit sign, before heading west to the town's outskirts.

Along the way, she walked among orderly, white-washed buildings, built according to a grid like Salt Lake City or other Utah metropolitan areas. Stella lay in something of a crater, a lowland surrounded by the much more common highlands. The habitable oxygen bubbles that Novum cities were built in were all 'below sea level', valleys or depressions where the oxygen gas heavier than the nitrogen clouds that dominated the planet's surface gathered.

Irina stood on the edge of Stella, looking off from a high wall and fence towards the nitrogen-shrouded plains beyond. The grass there was rather tall, and curved downwards after a few feet, creating a rolling, unique look to the highlands. The French doctor had been out there on occasion, intent on seeing some of the strange but mostly benign wildlife that lived on minimal oxygen.

As she was lost in thought pondering the life forms found on Nova Three, a man in a black suit approached her. "Irina Beaumont?"

The doctor jumped, startled, but quickly seemed to calm down, at least visibly. Turning around, she asked. "Um... who are you?"

"XSDF recruiter," the man answered simply, curtly. He stiffly extended a hand, a letter in it. "Commander Streczyk would like more medical staff members for the expedition she will be going on."

The XSDF wants me? And they are delivering a letter in this old-fashioned manner? The two thoughts conflicted in Irina's hand as she took it the message, reading over the request for transfer quickly.

As if knowing one of those thoughts, the man stated, "It's more confidential that way. Too many people these days can intercept and interfere with email services that aren't encrypted."

Irina nodded. "R-Right... I... Um... I'd love to help, but... Almost done with my residency. I promised-"

"We consulted Miss Lily Exalt, and she agreed to allow you to have your residency completed early on official records and give you this field experience with us. All you need do is accept the offer."

Irina seemed surprised for a moment. That's surprisingly... un-egotistical of Lily. "I... I'd love to, then." Seeing the stars, helping more people than I can in this small scope... This is a chance I've been hoping for awhile now.

(Flashback End)

Einherjar, Three hours later...
Community Communications Room

Mikhail scratched his head as he looked over the computer screen. "So... will there be... delay?"

The technician shook her head. "No. It uses a series of hyperwave relays and zero space communications that allow the signal faster than light travel. There is very little delay across space. Zero with Earth at this range." She typed a bit on the computer, and stepped away. "I'll give you two your privacy. Just let me know when you are done."

Sasha nodded, waiting a bit anxiously as their parents were pulled up on the computer screen. "Got it."

Modya was with his wife in the comms room of the Russian XSDF outpost in his typical attire of a gray coat, black shirt, and tan khakis complete with an ushanka. "How is it up there?" he asked, immediately regretting the choice of words as he glanced at Mikhail.

Mikhail sulked down a bit. "It is... unnerving. But I... will adjust."

Jessica shook her head. "Try looking out a window at how pretty the Earth looks. That'll make you feel better."

Mikhail chuckled. "Yeah... somehow, I doubt that."

Sasha stepped forward a bit. "How are... things going for you two?"

Jessica's smile faltered. "It... it's alright. I admit, though... it's a bit lonely, not having you two here."

Modya nodded in agreement. "I know you two can take care of yourselves. I just don't like being apart for so long."

Mikhail grinned. "Well... we're grown up now. I know we'll always be your children, but we're soldiers now."

Modya sighed, shaking his head. "I know that, but it doesn't make this much easier. Just be careful, both of you." The former rocketeer smiled softly. "And hopefully you can make some friends there."

"Irina works here!" Sasha blurted out in response.

Jessica clapped her hands together. "That's wonderful! Is... is she in good health?"

Sasha nodded slowly, settling down with the remainder of Irina's condition. "She seems to be. Has that... disease countermeasure on a wristband."

"Please send her our love," Jessica added.

"We will." Mikhail smiled. "And... we'll try to call whenever we can. Not sure how often that'll be yet, though."

Modya shrugged. "Just as long as you don't disappear off the face of the galaxy for ten months."

"We'll try... not to do that," Sasha replied with a chuckle, and ended the call.
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Well-Known Member
"The Messenger God, Part 1"

Sihan 2, Sikanah System (December 30th, 2043)
Unnamed Desert, Late Afternoon (4:42 P.M.)
[Note: Sihan 2 only has 18 hour days]

A few bright streaks scattered across Sihan 2's blue sky, debris from orbit. The flaming metal collided piece by piece with the sand below, most of the Zero Alloys not disintegrating by the time they passed through the atmosphere. They created a graveyard of starship fragments sticking out of the ground, twisted and shredded monoliths to a destroyed battleship.

Most of the ruins that came down by that hour were beyond recognition, charred remnants of a custom-built ship. One of the few surviving pieces was an escape pod, cracked nearly in half by the impact with a stone outcropping in the sandy desert. Within the black vessel was a humanoid form, unmoving at the moment. The howling of the wind sounded intermittently, as if the mood of the desert itself was grim.

By about 5 'o clock there was motion from within the escape pod. Only a slight movement of an arm at first, consciousness slowly returning the being within. From the blackness that had shrouded the being's vision, the desert slowly came into view as he opened his eyes, holding a hand out in front of his face, a black and red gauntlet meeting his gaze.

What...? He thought, a million questions running through his head. Where am I? Who am I? How did I get here? Lowering his hand, the survivor pressed both against the ground, pushing himself to a standing position. What knowledge he did have told him the red button on the side of the door would open it, and thus he pressed it, only for nothing to happen.

Trapped... Need to find or make another way out, then. As the survivor considered his dilemma, he saw text forming on his peripheral vision. That is not occurring on the wall or as a hologram... it is in my head?

The words read 'Damaged sustained to processing unit, particularly in the memory banks. Running diagnostic...'

Diagnostic? That raises the question of 'what am I?' A human... with implants, perhaps? The survivor shook his head, wise enough to realize he had more pressing matters than existentialism at the moment. Reaching towards a manual handle on the door, he began to pull. Still, the door would not budge as he applied more and more force, the damaged handle eventually ripping off.

'Warning! Do not attempt to access the upper limits of strength while diagnostic is running! Damage may be too extensive to risk such an action', the text inside his head warned like an automated message.

I wish I had a choice, but I cannot remain here, the survivor thought to himself, noting the pod was cooling down as the sun began to set over the horizon. The desert night might be deadly if he did not find better shelter. Pressing his hands against the door, the survivor pressed with all his might. As he did so, jets flared on the pack on his back, startling him for a moment before he realized this was part of his armor. The extra momentum might be enough with my unusual strength!

Indeed, the door was finally torn loose, and the survivor jettisoned out onto the rocky outcropping in a sea of sand. He managed to slow his speed and came to a standstill on the edge of the stone, looking out across the desert and the graveyard of the crashed ship. Ruins of the... The name of the starship seemed on the verge of his memory. On cue, the text reappeared.

'Diagnostic complete. Severe damage to memory banks, though all other systems seem to be functioning within acceptable parameters. Restoring essential information from the black box containing important data'. The survivor winced, holding his head as a flow of information returned to him. His knowledge of technology returned in full, telling him the composition of the zero alloys, how his jetpack worked, among a flow of other data. One piece in particular stuck out to him though: a name.

"Hermes Arcwright..." the survivor spoke aloud, echoing the name that he now knew. "That is... my name? The Roman Messenger God and a play-on of an English last name to sound more... electric." Hermes felt that there was significance in his name, but he could not remember why in particular.

Analyzing the data further, another truth became apparent to him. "My initial conclusion was incorrect," Hermes concluded, looking at his armored hands again. I am an android designed to look human in some ways, but my purpose is... unclear. The android attempted to remove the gauntlets, but quickly found that they were fastened tight to his frame, perhaps not even separate from his body at all. Perhaps combat is my function then, he surmised.

It was certainly possible. The android looked over himself for the first time in detail. He had streamlined, dark gray legs with dark red kneecaps, shaped as equilateral triangles pointing down. Attached to these were black boots curving sharply inward, with noticeable small, silver wings on either side of his heels, stylized after the god for which he was named. All of it functional zero alloy armor, his restored essential memory helpfully reminded Hermes.

Lifting his arms to gaze at them again, Hermes noticed that his gauntlets were black on the fingers, dark gray rimming around the back of the hand and palm, with red in the center as well as a set of curved protrusions like secondary wings going backwards. The same curiosity could be found on the back of his leg armor.

His chestplate was a little less sleek. The main, armored layer was streamlined as well, and black in color. However, coarse, stylized symbology, mostly deep red latin characters, were pressed slightly forward, creating an ornate main piece of armor. Similar designs could be found on a dark gray set of wings on his back, though they were etched with machinery rather than crafted and attached. The wings were right isosceles, naturally pointing down and out to either side, and were attached to a black, elerium-powered jetpack. Near the engines, a wide red band of color contrasted with the faint, telltale green glow of the E-115.

With his black-gloved fingers, Hermes reached up to his helmet. Covering his face was a shaded gray visor, lowered down from an ancient-style helmet made out of the alien alloys. On the top was a shallow, flat basin where a Roman-esque plume might be placed, but the rest of the helmet was patterned after that of a German knight.

After observing himself in detail, again did Hermes looked around the desert, wide open save for a set of cliffs around a small mesa. That may be my only option for shelter from the weather. Even with my metallic body it may be unsafe to remain in subzero temperatures. The sun has nearly set. Deciding on this course, the android powered up his jetpack again, heading towards the rock formation he guessed was several kilometers away. The protrusions along his arms and legs helped catch the wind and increase his speed, clearly designed made for flight. The visor across his face protected him from the sand and grit of the desert as he flew towards his destination.

After about fifteen minutes, a small fuel warning sign appeared on his peripheral vision, this time on the left rather than the right. Realizing he had failed to take into account his limited fuel in the tumult of learning more about himself, the android only managed to get about ten feet above the ground before the jets gave out, sending him crashing into the sand. Waving away the cloud of dust kicked up by his rough landing, the mostly unharmed machine shook his head, a small smile appearing on his face beneath his helmet.

"I suppose even robots make mistakes then," Hermes said to himself, amused at his own foolishness. I will have to go the rest of the way on foot. Narrowing his pupils and focusing his optics in the direction of the mesa, Hermes did his best to judge the distance he had left to travel. Roughly 3 kilometers. That should be doable.


Well-Known Member
"The Messenger God, Part 2" (Guest: ZombieSplitter53 as Aya Brea)

Two kilometers out, a different danger than the frigid desert night presented itself. Hermes froze as he hear an unearthly sound, a resonating yet grating, stuttering howl. It was soon joined by several other calls, creating a crescendo from the throats of the pack of local creatures. Unknown local fauna, but they communicate like terrestrial wolves, Hermes analyzed, a bit of worry rising in his chest as he quickened his pace.

That pace, however, was quickly arrested by a set of glowing orange eyes in the android's path. Adjusting his vision to be better suited to the gathering dark as the sun finished vanishing beneath the horizon, the creature's form became apparent to Hermes. It had a long, gnarled body, with bristly black fur and a line of spiky spines down its back and sides in three rows. These spikes carried backwards to a long, whiplike tail, and forward along a sleek, toothy visage of the beast.

Rearing back on seven-toed paws, of which it had a total of six, the alien predator growled, not angrily, but eagerly. Ten more sets of luminescent orange eyes attested to the total of eleven creatures surrounding Hermes, boxing him in for the kill. It was anyone's guess if they would still attack, knowing that he wasn't exactly edible, or if they simply enjoyed the hunt.

There's too many of them to fight with my bare hands! Hermes thought anxiously, glancing around in rapid movements at the creatures closing in on him. As if in response, text flashed on the center of his vision for a moment, not as reassurance but as a simple statement by his subconscious systems.

'Battle Mode engaged.'

Unconsciously, Hermes raised his right arm. The top four fingers folded up a few centimeters and then slid backwards, the thumb doing likewise as the palm opened. From within the lower arm a pulse turret extended in a few tightening layers of metal, and charged up with a red light from within the barrel. Firing the built-in weapon, Hermes drew a line of fire around himself with the intense heat of the resonating laser, causing the alien hunters to wince and leap backwards to avoid the terrible flames.

"Stay back..." Hermes muttered in warning, the pulse cannon's layers shuddering as they powered down until it was ready to fire again. The android was aware it would be about twenty-two minutes before it was fully charged again. The turret sunk back into his arm, and his hand returned to normal as Hermes considered his situation. The fire would not last long, being smothered by the sand and newly-formed glass it was smoldering on. What can I do, what can I do...?

As a patch of the fire died off and opened up a hole in Hermes' defensive circle, the alien creatures were emboldened. Their leader along with a chosen member of the pack strode forward through the gap, ready to leap at Hermes. The android stepped back, noting that the fire behind him was dying out as well and the predators were approaching that side. My armor may be able to sustain their attacks for awhile, but I cannot fight that many even with my cybernetic strength. All it would take is them breaking through the gaps in my defenses and damaging something vital, blowing up my jetpack... I need to do something! I can't...

Seeming tired of the games, the alpha beast sprung at Hermes, claws and maw open wide. Several things happened in rapid succession. Hermes raised his hands, trying to fend the creature off. The flames around him suddenly died off completely, the heat energy seemingly vanishing without warning. In truth, the heat traveled towards the threat Hermes wanted to deal with. Power from the android increased the total joules present, and, in short, he killed the animal with sudden and lethal heatstroke.

The other alien wolves backed off fearfully as their leader seemed to be smote by an invisible hand, going limp in midair and sliding past Hermes into the sand. The android didn't have time to consider what he had just done, pointing towards the other immediate threat. The heat energy shifted around that wolf, lighting it on fire.

The beasts howled in fury, running forward now that the flames were dead, though some held back out of continued terror. They were the wise ones, for Hermes turned on the new wolf leading the charge. Red kinetic energy condensed around his right hand, and Hermes shot the psi lance through the animal's chest.

This was the final straw. The other alien creatures turned tail and ran, wanting nothing to do with this supernatural being they had dared to challenge. Feeling halfway exhausted, Hermes let them go. I have psionic abilities? I didn't think it was possible for a machine to generate psionic energy... Nothing in my data suggests it is.

Aya Brea slowly pulled the scope from her eye, handing the rifle back to Sarah Wong. As the sniper looked through it herself, Aya stood up and dusted some sand off her knees. "Interesting... thoughts?"

"I was under the impression that only organics could use psionics," Sarah offered, squinting a bit. "It could be an augmented humanoid, but I have my doubts after the initial display." Watching Hermes continue on his way towards the mesa, she added, "It seems we missed Iudicium only to find something else."

Aya nodded. "Yeah... Of course, we haven't met every alien in the galaxy. Maybe one of them found a way to give psionics to an android." Aya rubbed her hands together. "At any rate, it's alone, probably came from the ship, making it trapped, and if those wolves were any indication, it's at least somewhat vulnerable. We're here. Might as well see if it needs help."

Sarah smiled slightly. "Of course. I have to admit, seeing a pulse cannon like the one in Foulke's old arm brings back memories. And hopefully it means this android can't shoot at us for awhile."

"'Hopefully' is the right word." Aya jumped into the driver's seat of the ATV they brought with them, continuing, "Stay on your guard. Just... looking friendly as you do."

"I'll let you do the talking," the Chinese sniper muttered. She joined Aya in the vehicle, the duo following Hermes to the cliffs.

By the time they got there, the android noticed them approaching. Humanoids...? Are they friendly, or are they planning on destroying me like the ship? Cautiously, he took note of the ATV's engines as a source of heat energy.

Stopping a few feet from him, Aya slowly stepped out and approached the forgetful android. With her right hand hovering over her hip, she raised her left towards her helmet, ready to turn on the translator if need be. "Do you speak English? Anata ga nihongo o hanashimasu ka? Hablas Español?"

"I recognize the first and last languages," Hermes responded, glancing down at Aya's right hand from behind his shaded visor. "You are... human, correct? The ones that show down the..." Arcwright trailed off, the name of the ship still escaping him. "The other battleship, were not, I think."

Aya nodded. "Whether they were or not, it wasn't us. I'm Lt. Commander Aya Brea. This is Sarah Wong. We are members of the XSDF, a peacekeeping organization from Earth. We were in the area when that battleship crashed here. Were you in it? Were there any other survivors? Do you... know who attacked you?"

Hermes shook his head, opening his visor to reveal his pale features and lava-red eyes. He seemingly lacked hair, his eyebrows being lightweight metal imitations. "I cannot remember. Much of my memory is perhaps irrevocably damaged. I know only general knowledge and my name... little else except... fragments. I was on the ship I assume, but the conditions of the crash are vague. I know only that we were shot down by a superior vessel."

"I see." Aya shot Sarah a 'be ready just in case' look, and moved her hand away from her weapon. She approached Hermes, and smiled. "Well... we'd be willing to help you, if you'd like. You... said you remembered your name, right?"

Sarah watched vigilantly, knowing that her suspicions about the deserter Ethereal general being responsible for the attack were seeming more and more correct. Hermes nodded to Aya's question. "Hermes Arcwright. Like the Roman god."

"If you wish... we can take you with us. We have a ship in orbit, and we might be able to help you recover your memories, if they can be." Aya looked around. "Beats staying here to freeze, be eaten, or wait for the ones that shot you down to come back and finish the job."

"That would be preferable," Hermes agreed. "Thank you for your assistance, Lieutenant Commander Brea."

Aya inclined her head, motioning to the ATV. "I... don't suppose I could ask you to take off your armor? It would make us more comfortable, if you know what I mean."

Hermes frowned, reaching to one gauntlet and demonstrating that it would not come off. "It is either locked or welded into place. I'm not sure if it... detaches or not."

Sarah sighed. And we can't exactly rip out his pulse cannon, can we? she psied to Aya.

Aya nodded. Jump in the back seat and... you know, caution. I feel we can trust him... but I've been wrong before. "Alright, Mr. Arcwright. Let's go before those wolves decide to try again." With a faint smile, Hermes nodded in return, joining them on the vehicle as it headed for the dropship.
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Well-Known Member
"The Messenger God, Part 3" (Guest: ZombieSplitter53 as Aya Brea)

XSDF Scout Ship "Xemnas", Engineering Section
Two Hours Later

Aya watched as the engineers looked Hermes up and down, looking over computer readouts she was only half familiar with. "So... what's the word? Is he alright?"

The one directing the scans shrugged. "Define 'alright'. He's functioning completely, though he wasn't lying about the memory loss. None of the data outside of that black box of his is retrievable, and we'll probably have to repair the memory sections of his brain. Long, tiring work, that'll be."

"Armor is pretty much stuck to him," another added. "I see where it may detach, but we're bound to break something if we try to..." he lowered his voice. "You know, cut it off."

Aya raised an eyebrow. "I... think we should try and figure out how it comes off on its own before we whip out the saw, don't you?"

A third engineer named Leonardo Jainery stepped over, shaking his head. He was dressed in a gray work coat, brown pants, and a grimy white shirt like the others, though the brown-haired man had a badge denoting a slightly higher rank than your average grunt. "Think about it though. If we take apart this machine carefully we could learn so much about advanced alien A.I., perhaps even replicate the psionic abilities it displays!" Smiling pleasantly, the expression not reaching his callous green eyes, he added, "If it gets damaged but we can make more, it's no big deal."

Aya scowled, crossing her arms. "This android is showing clear signs of sentience. Until I'm convinced otherwise, he will remain in one piece. I will not take the risk of sacrificing an intelligent being, no matter what we might learn."

"To hell with the fact that it's perfectly legal, I suppose," Leonardo grumbled.

The door opened, Sarah stepping in with an equally irritated expression. "I swear, the less I have to answer to Streczky the better. How does she expect me to tell her the specifications when we're still running tests?"

"Just give her as many details as you can, and she'll be perfectly happy, Wong." Aya shook her head, privately adding, Just give her what details you have, because she's never happy. She turned to the engineers, and said, "You're right. This android has no legal rights. So you can leave and find a company that will dismantle any alien androids they have, because as long as you are here, you'll follow my orders. Is that clear?"

There was a chorus of "Yes, sir!" though Leonardo's was much less enthusiastic. The engineers finished running their diagnostics. "Remarkable internal systems. An elerium power core fore a heart, energy conduits for blood, cybernetics for muscles... whoever built him did a good job replicating the interior of the human body. There's a digestive system, simpler than the human one, but I can't imagine what it's for," the first engineer told Aya.

Aya thought of a certain android from years before, and said, "Maybe it is to replicate eating. Makes others more comfortable around him." She rubbed her chin. "I'd like to speak with him in private."

Sarah just gave the engineers a tired glare when they hesitated. "Come on, or I'll sick Konglinglong on you." Not wanting to deal with the woman's small but fearsome psionic dragon, the engineers undocked Hermes from the repair dock and left Aya alone with him as he booted up completely again.

Aya cleared her throat. "How, uh... how are you feeling?"

Hermes raised an eyebrow. "Not much different than before. I assume they could not... restore my memories."

"No... they couldn't. And... I don't know if you'll have the time to get them back." Aya glanced at Sarah, guarding the door, and gave Hermes a cautious smile. "You need to get a job."

Hermes considered her words for a moment. "Working with the XSDF... I could see that. It might give me a chance to find out more about myself from anyone that might have know me before, and I do... need a purpose."

Aya nodded. "And it'll keep people from trying to... what... what skills do you have? If you can remember, that is." Aya's eyes darted back to Sarah. I don't trust Jainery not to go to the Commander, she said privately. If Hermes has a position, it'll keep that engineer from dismantling him.

Hermes seemed pensive for a moment. "I have knowledge of how to operate several different weapon variants, including pistols, heavy pistols, SMGs, carbines, rifles, heavy rifles, and SAWs... which lends credence to the theory that I was created for a combat role. I have the psionic abilities I used earlier, as well. The psi lance... And I believe I named the ability to control heat energy Thermokinesis in the past."

"Sounds like soldier material to me." Aya stood up straight. "Mr. Arcwright, I, Aya Brea, officially request you to join the eXtra Stellar Defense Force as a soldier. In exchange, we will provide you with the means to try and recover your memories, or at least find out who you are and where you came from."

"I accept your offer. And..." Hermes looked down at his hands with a small smirk. "I do not require armor, so I'm lower cost, I surmise."

Aya extended her hand. "Welcome aboard. I look forward to working with

XSDF Scout Ship Xemnas (January 13th, 2044)
On approach of the XSDF Battleship Einherjar
Bridge, 2:35 A.M. (Terrestrial Time)

Hermes glanced out through the window of the scout ship as it approached the new capital ship built by the Extra-Stellar Defense Force, in a dock aboard the space station headquarters of the organization. The android was awed by the fine craftsmanship that had gone into the large battleship, perhaps five kilometers in length and built in a traditional streamlined fashion. The width was only a quarter of the length in most places.

It was armed with powerful shields, as well as a triple fusion cannon atop the back of the ship and in front of/below the bridge, like that of a naval warship. The Einherjar had other weapons as well. These included eight plasma turrets; two were positioned on the right side, two on the left, two on the bottom, and one for the back with one for the front. They were accompanied by perhaps two dozen small pulse batteries meant for defense against fighter-class starships rather than capital ship vs capital ship combat.

Even the Einherjar would have paled in comparison to the supra-battleship dubbed "The Arkbird", but the city-sized battlecruiser was currently in orbit on the other side of the planet. Hermes had only caught a glimpse of the back a few minutes earlier before it disappeared behind the blue planet below.

"It's impressive, isn't it?" Otto Brietbarth asked, standing beside the android in a dark gray XSDF uniform. He was a stout German trooper in his mid fifties even if he appeared in his mid forties, having a graying mustache and hair to signify his age.

Hermes turned to face the man who had trained him in preparation for his assignment to the new warship, offering a salute. "It is, sir."

The German smiled, chuckling quietly. "At ease. Even if I outrank you as a lieutenant, not like I'm seeing much action. I just want to make sure the newbies don't become mush or spare parts by not being prepared. I'd say you're up to snuff, metal man," he stated, tapping Hermes's German knight helmet with an approving look in his eyes.

Hermes offered a slight smile in return. "Thank you. So what is it like, working under Commander Streczyk?"

Otto leaned in to the recruit's ear, whispering, "Hell on Earth. Try to get on Lieutenant Commander Brea's good side, friend. You'll have a much easier time that way."

The android's eyes widened for a moment, and as the German pulled back he nodded. "Understood... I did meet her on Sihan Two, so with any luck she'll remember me."

"Right, right." Otto cleared his throat. "Alright, let's call in."

The helmsman gave a slight nod, hailing the Einharjar. "This is Scout Ship Xemnas, requesting to dock."

"Roger that, Xemnas," the communications officer aboard the battleship's bridge returned. "Restate your business, please, and the docking code."

"TX-251920, and we are delivering supplies along with PFC Arcwright, Hermes," the helmsman of the Xenmas replied curtly as the ship came near the docking bay. The two pulse batteries on either side of the docking bay ceased aiming in the scout ship's direction, and the solid steel door folded open, allowing the Xenmas to pass through the energy door and land within the battleship.

Upon docking, Otto gave Hermes a brief farewell and then sent Hermes on his way aboard the ship. The android was guided through the hallways to his currently empty and barebones room, where he sat down, pondering the massive ship and the assignment ahead of him. "To travel in this ship among the stars, for little more than rendering military service... I certainly am grateful, Lt. Cmdr Brea," Hermes said, mostly a musing to himself. Only time will tell if this journey will help me understand who I really am.


Well-Known Member
"The Coyote with the Metal Paw, Part 1"

Mars, Sol System (January 8th, 2044)
Mediotierra, Adamantem (11:23 A.M.)
Local Police Station

The station could most easily be described as stepping into a classic western movie. The building stood along the wide center street of the township of Mediotierra, which was admittedly larger than a wild west backwater. The structure was air-conditioned, but the windows were reinforced with steel bars pressed into the red rock bricks that it was build out of, hewed from the familiar stone covering the surface of Mars. Inside there was the sheriff's office and deputy's office, the latter being much more neat and organized than the former.

The deputy was named Tlaloc, a nineteen-year-old aspiring to the position of his superior. His office was lined with a small wooden table, clear save for the latest report, all other information filed away in metal cabinets on the wall. This marked a sharp contrast to the room in which the sheriff presided in, cluttered with disorganized papers and currently an unfinished meal. Across from the two adjacent rooms was a small jail, currently housing a single vagabond that would get out tomorrow morning.

Aside from the vandal, however, the two police officers were not to be found within the police station itself. Rather, they were on its roof, which was set up as an area for target practice. High walls meant that the bullets would collide with stone and metal rather than an unfortunate passerby. The only breach in this defense for the populace was a lowerable wall that could be used as cover, just in case the building became the target of frustrated criminals. It never had, though.

A laser pistol spat out a beam of crimson energy, scorching the middle ring of a target set up on the far left wall of the roof. This earned an approving nod from Kallpa as he praised his deputy's handwork. "Not bad at all, Tlaloc. But can you be a true deputy and do it with this?" With a characteristic grin, Kallpa handed his assistant a six-shooter pistol, archaic these days unless loaded with Zero Alloy rounds that ultimately tore up the barrel over time. For the sake of the target's structural integrity, it merely contained the old-fashioned variety of ammo.

"Always have to make it harder for me, don't you?" Tlaloc muttered, scoffing as he lined up a shot. "Hell if I know why you would ever use this old thing when you can do away with the recoil using a laser weapon."

"Well, what are you going to do when someone manages to knock your standard-issue laser pistol out of reach? Grumble him to death?" Kallpa replied, spinning his own energy weapon around his finger.

"Says the man who could probably talk someone to death." Tlaloc pulled the trigger, and with a decisive 'pow' the bullet collided with one of the outer rings, higher than the Adamantem deputy had wanted it to go. "Damn it..."

"It works well enough in the shoulder as it does the gut," Kallpa offered optimistically, but couldn't resist adding, "Unless they're on one of those Balmadaar stims."

Tlaloc turned to look at his superior with a flat, irked expression. "How would they even buy something like that in Mediotierra? We don't get many Mutons here, in case you haven't noticed."

Kallpa rubbed the stubble on his chin. "I wonder if one of them would make a better deputy than you..."


"I try," the sheriff responded with a nonchalant shrug. He noted a slight change in Tlaloc’s expression, and asked, "Is something bothering you?"

"Are you really planning on leaving?" Tlaloc asked bluntly, crossing his arms.

Kallpa nodded, leaning against the wall and glancing out into the Mesoamerican-style town. Mayan pyramids, Aztec markets, and Incan houses stretched out in a disorganized but beautiful fashion, and the city streets were mostly empty at the moment except for some buyers and sellers. "I've always dreamed of joining the XSDF. And if they do accept my request to join, I'm going. I trust you to keep watch over this town."

"Yeah, yeah... I'm going to have to train some little shit after I take your job," Tlaloc groaned. His eyes widened as he immediately regretted his choice of words.

"So you see what I went through, then," Kallpa speedily returned, smiling widely again.

"At least I won't be a sarcastic jackal," Tlaloc mumbled.

"Coyote. Get it right, man," Kallpa said indignantly, looking over his mechanical arm for a moment. "The Coyote with the Metal Paw that is..."

"You take that title way too seriously, considering its half a joke," the Aztec deputy knowingly cautioned.

"And I'll wear it with pride!" Kallpa pressed, laughing. "Don't care if it’s a partial joke."

"I'll never understand how Jianna put up with you," Tlaloc wondered aloud.

"Practice and patience?" the Incan guessed.

"More than I have, I suppose."

Mars, Sol System (January 9th, 2044)
Mediotierra, Adamantem (3:48 P.M.)
Residence of Bhana Hernandez

Kallpa pulled up his truck to the side of a simple orange-brick apartment, a bit of smoke trailing off of the exhaust. The black cloud mixed with dust from the dirt side road, the building here being a few minutes outside of the town proper of Mediotierra. The sheriff stopped in the parking lot, shifting to park and popping open the door.

His boots hitting up the ground, Kallpa took a deep breath. "Stay calm, Kallpa. You can tell her this. She'll understand... Maybe." The Incan man walked over to a set of stairs on the side of the building, and then ascended them to a room on the third floor, numbered 311. He hit it with a light knock, and then waited.

After a few minutes, the door opened, a woman with long black hair and tan skin opened the door. She was wearing simple blue jeans and a white shirt with a beige overcoat, and had her arms crossed with a serious expression on her face. "Hi, Kallpa."

Shit... Why is she so...? The sheriff wondered as he put on a smile. "What's up, Bhana? How's my girl been?"

"I've been better. Are you really leaving to join the XSDF?" His girlfriend replied bluntly, sighing for a moment.

Kallpa rubbed the back of his neck. "Who told you?" he asked with a mixture of embarrassment and exasperation.

"Tlaloc mentioned you were probably leaving soon. Thanks for telling me yourself, asshole," Bhana growled, tapping her foot.

"I'll be back sometime, though... It's not like I'll have to be away for years... plural," Kallpa defended, holding up his hands.

Bhana put a hand on her forehead, looking down for a moment and shaking her head. "You really think I'm just going to sit around and wait for you to come back? Long distance relationships are bullshit, you know."

Kallpa sighed. "I figured you'd respond that way. Could we at least part on even terms, then?" The door closed in his face, blowing a cold wind his way. "Damn it." The sheriff turned and started walking down the stairs. "Goddamn Tlaloc, screwing up everything..."

Reaching the bottom of the stairs, Kallpa paused, glancing back up at 311 for a moment. "On second thought, thank you Tlaloc. You've freed me from a spiteful harpy." Chuckling for a moment and shaking his head derisively, he re-entered his vehicle and drove off again.

Mars, Sol System (January 9th, 2044)
Mediotierra, Adamantem (7:48 P.M.)
Vizcarra Farm

Having promised to pay his family a visit before he left, Kallpa drove out to his parent's farmstead a few hours later. Rolling his truck up in a narrow dirt road and doing his best to avoid running over any of the potatoes. I doubt destroying the crops would make father happy at all, the sheriff knowingly cautioned himself. Carefully stepping out of his vehicle and hopping in front of it rather than to the side into the fields, Kallpa made his way towards the house.

A small smile crept across the youngest son's face as he noticed his father asleep in an armchair on the porch. Walking past Aaron quietly, Kallpa walked up the wooden steps and entered the house, closing the door behind him. Inside, Qhawa was knitting in a similar chair to the one his father was sitting in, making a quilt matching her graying hair and red wool clothing. Rawul was at the counter, chopping up some freshly harvested potatoes with his strong, calloused hands. "The prodigal son returns, I suppose," Kallpa's older brother said boredly.

"Yup, and ready to hit the sack. I'm shipping out tomorrow," Kallpa said proudly, placing his fists on his hips.

This earned a smile from Qhawa across her crackled lips. "Glad to hear the XSDF recruitment worked out for you," his mother said earnestly. "Just don't let it get to your head. How did your girlfriend take the news?"

Kallpa rubbed the back of his neck, smiling sheepishly. "She broke up with me."


Well-Known Member
"The Coyote with the Metal Paw, Part 2"

Rawul slammed down the handle of the knife onto the counter, his clean-shaven face twisting in frustration. "This is... the second one you've lost in a month." He growled dangerously, trembling a bit in anger. "You aren't Casanova, you know!"

"I know, I know... What can I say? It wasn't meant to be," Kallpa said, holding up his hands defensively and a bit dismissively.

"Still searching for your 'soulmate', huh?" a female voice said, Yulanda stepping out from around the stairs leading to the smaller second story. Brushing off a bit of hay and laying down her hat, she chuckled. "You're out of your mind," the nineteen-year old stated, brushing back some of her coarse black hair and pursing her lips.

A slightly shorter girl with a few freckles and brown hair with dyed spots of blonde smiled as she joined her older sister. With a giggle, Lesli contested, "I think it's cute. Even if it is stupid."

Kallpa sighed. "Never going to let me live that proclamation down, huh?" Even if it is true.

"This isn't a joke, you know... what happens if you can't get a steady girlfriend but you get someone pregnant?" Rawul snapped.

Kallpa's eyes widened. "Hey, hey, I've ne..."

Yulanda's eyebrow seemed to continuously go up. "Go on..."

Kallpa gave her a cold glare. "Thanks for the help, sis."

Qhawa laughed quietly, getting up from her chair and laying a slightly wrinkled hand on Kallpa's shoulder. "You'll find the right one. I know you will."

"Just as long as you take care of yourself," Aaron boomed as he walked in. He paused in his stride, yawning loudly and earning an honest chuckle from everyone in his family. Even Rawul.

Earth, Sol System (January 9th, 2044)
The Einherjar (12:29 P.M.)
High Orbit above the English Channel (currently)

The black, streamlined transport ship shifted its six engines to point downwards, enabling the elerium jets to shift into hover mode. With a satisfied hum from the diminishing power of the thrusters and a sigh formed from kicked up dust, the landing gear of the large dropship touched down in Hangar E. To either side of the long starship, there were dropships and scout craft. Kallpa didn't bother counting the total, however, too busy hopping out onto solid ground again.

"That... what it's like to be on a boat?" Kallpa mumbled, trying to keep his 'seasickness' from making him hurl onto the polished gray floor. He placed his hands on his knees, kneeling down a bit to try and regularize his breathing.

A woman with swirly blonde hair laid a hand on his shoulder, shaking her head. She was wearing the recruit outfit everyone else was, a uniform consisting of a dark blue coat with a simple XSDF badge, a light gray undershirt, and black pants with similar colored boots and white gloves. "You doing alright, Vizcarra?" she asked empathetically, glancing over at an equally dazed man leaning against the dropship.

"Y-Yeah... I'll be alright. Thanks, Leah," Kallpa whispered, lifting one of his hands to shake the woman's weakly. "You think Pavel over there will be alright?"

"He should be... Though I'm less worried about him being spacesick and more so the fact that he's still upset he wasn't allowed to bring his friends to see the Einherjar."

"Well, we can't have him telling people top secret stuff, after all," the Incan responded with a weak grin, though his constitution was fast returning now that he was on a more stable starship.

"I wouldn't tell them anything!" Pavel complained.

A man with dark blonde hair and a strong, bodybuilder frame stepped out of the dropship. He patted Pavel on the back, smiling. "It'll pass."

"Thanks, big guy..." the other man mumbled.

Nodding and walking over, Geoff put an arm around Leah. "Well, I suppose this is farewell for now, Kallpa. Hope we can meet again."

Kallpa smiled widely. "Yep. And I look forward to seeing you in a mech suit, man."

Geoff chuckled heartily, flexing a synthetic arm. "And you with whatever weapon they give you, Coyote."

"The nickname will be here, even..." Kallpa snickered. "Knew I shouldn't have told you what the Aztecs call me."

Leah shrugged. "I guess you'll have to live with a badass title. Poor you."

Offering her a sarcastic grin, Kallpa swiveled around and came face to face with the person waiting to take him to his room that also happened to be his roommate. "Uh... hello," he said to the short, bulbous headed-alien standing before him. The Sectoid had a dull brown left eye that seemed almost like an insect's, and the other was a round, mechanical replacement with a violet iris and gray pupil. He had gray-violet skin, but all his limbs were Zero Alloy replacements, strong tier one cybernetic appendages.

The Sectoid's mechanical eye expanded in surprised, his organic one widening a little. "I-It's you! I can't believe it! It's really you!" he 'said' excitedly through a psychic translator attached to the side of his head near the artificial eye.

Kallpa found his head shifting to the side a bit as he inspected the alien. "Uh... I think I would have met you before, so I'm guessing... A fan?"

The short creature shook his head vehemently. "No, no, we've met before. Well, maybe not 'met' per say, but we did come face to face! You were kind of busy with that dude with the autolaser though so I really don't blame you for not recognizing me... And I did get augmented fully after the whole robbery thing and all..."

Kallpa put his right hand over his forehead. "Alright, alright... slow down. Robbery, autolaser..." The Incan's eyes widened as he realized just what the Sectoid was talking about. "You're that one Sectoid that was in the bank when I got my arm blown off! Even then you had the mechanical left eye."

The Sectoid nodded his large head eagerly, his eyes seeming to light up (and his left indeed did, a little at least). "Yeah! I should probably introduce myself, right? Gotta let my hero know my name after all," he said, almost to himself alone. Extending a cybernetic hand with the mechanical wizz you might hear pushing up a mechanized screen that's meant to be done with the click of a button, the creature continued, "The name's Kelio Sparks. I'm a MEC Trooper for the XSDF. Still a Private First Class, but they said I might make a good Shogun. No, not the samurai from Japan, I'm talking about the mechanized engineers that shoot explosives everywhere... But tactically everywhere!"

Kallpa laughed, shaking Kelio's hand, having to lean down a bit to do so. "You may be a spaz, but I like you. I never thought I'd be someone's hero... though don't hesitate to think of me as a friend." The former sheriff of Mediotierra noted a paper in Kelio's left. "What's that you have there?"

"Room assignment! I was supposed to come here to find whoever had ours, but I never thought I'd be rooming with Kallpa Vizcarra!" Kelio said, buzzing with energy.

Kallpa patted his gray-violet head. "Life is full of surprises, huh? Well, that's fine by me..." he said as he looked over his paper and started walking for the barracks with the Sectoid, keeping his hand on the creature's head to keep it from bouncing up and down. "Just don't get too nutty and we're cool. I'm fine with a little crazy, after all."


Well-Known Member
MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: "The Golden Cloak and the Obsidian Wrench"

Sydney, Australia (January 13th, 2044)
Exalt Primary Headquarters (3:14 P.M.)
Chamber of Psionic Application

"Lights." The room, square and about 5 meters in diameter, lit up as a medium strength, yellow light illuminated the area. In the center stood a woman in a white lab coat, with white pants and a very light gray shirt. She had light blue eyes and white hair that gave her something on an 'ice queen' aura.

"XSDF Video Log 0, Vindicta Exalt." Pausing for a moment, Vindicta grudgingly added, "Second in command of the science department and head of the psionic division." Straightening her coat in a combination of indignation for the former title and pride for the latter, she began the body of the log.

"I am excited to announce that I will soon be joining the eXtra Stellar Defense Force in the aforementioned capacity. I hope, with my extensive knowledge in psionics thanks to years of study, and the work and assistance of Jeanne and Avanix respectively, that I will be of use. Today I will be practicing my abilities to ensure that they are up to my standard."

Stepping back from the camera, Vindicta's eyes glowed a soft golden color that contrasted with her blue eyes, creating a corona of an impossible color. "Demonstrating electrokinesis." Expending a portion of her power, the Exalt charged her hands with electricity, arcing around her in a ring.

Letting the energy faded away after a time, Vindicta continued, "Telekinetic field." She held up a hand, forming a golden half-sphere in front of herself, and a gun turret popped out of the wall. Rubber bullets battered the shield, but barely left a dent.

"And now for the peripheral abilities. First, telekinesis in its unmodified form." On cue, a block of stone, 1x1x1 feet, rose out of the floor before her. The same color glow surrounded the stone, and it was lifted into the air three feet before being gently placed down again. "Blink." With a flash of blue-yellow, the impossible color, Vindicta vanished, reappearing on the other side of the stone block.

"Finally, psi inspiration and imbuing of the green spectrum." A faint yellow glow shined around her head, and Vindicta drew a combat knife from her belt. Charging it with a gold colour, she jabbed the steel into the stone without too much of a struggle.

"As something of a finale, I shall allow you to observe the manifestations of my psyche, my Reflections." Her eyes flared brightly. "Come, Black Bishop, White Bishop!" Electricity crackled on her left, forming into a being currently lacking much form. It was merely a tall figure with crackling blue eyes, entirely composed of lightning.

On her right, however, came a more defined Reflection composed of telekinetic fields. It was a woman with black hair, wearing a combination of medieval armor and military fatigues, a professional yet odd blend. On her head was a helmet with gold goggles, not orange like the person Black Bishop was inspired by. She had orange eyes, however, and a wide, wild smile.

Vindicta panted from the exertion. "And those are my... current abilities. Camera off." Vindicta let White Bishop dissipate and Black Bishop shattered. Vindicta held a hand over her chest for a moment. Need to work on that endurance...

The door to the lab slid open with a soft hiss as a man walked in, his black hair tied back and his reptilian yellow eyes seeming to glow with an eerie light to them. "Not pushing yourself too hard, are you sister?" Mark straightened his lab coat and adjusted his tie tighter, looking around the room briefly before staring back at his sister. "Although you must be rather pleased with yourself, it would be a pain to have to explain to both mother and Avanix why you collapsed."

Vindicta huffed quietly, stiffening her posture. "One such as yourself that cannot use psionics would not understand, naturally. Are you packed yet?"

Mark crossed his arms, looking down at his sister. "Indeed, I would say that I am. Not many things to bring along. And you? Considering how much you talk about leaving for the XSDF, I imagine you did your packing as soon as you could."

"Naturally, I have any personal effects and equipment I need," Vindicta stated, tapping a silver necklace framing a sapphire that hung around her neck. "Don't tell me you have no enthusiasm for joining the only other organization as significant as Exalt Enterprises."

"Lack of enthusiasm would be understating it. I just hope there are fairly decent minds aboard our ship. It would annoy me greatly having to lead the new guys by the hand. Thought I must say I should not worry as my role is not as... big or important as yours." Mark noted passively. "Alas they are the roles I excel in, so there is a minute amount of solace in that fact."

"I assume they have potent enough minds to not bore you. Thinking back on the engineering roster, I believe they have..." Vindicta held her chin for a moment. "Quite a few people interested in A.I., actually."

"Yes, well... for right now, I am shifting my focus away from A.I.s and more towards the increasement of cybernetic and biological symbiosis. Tz6 is a great thing, but we have still only scratched the surface of it. I wonder how far we could go..." Mark mused with a grin.

"As far as XSDF regulations allow," Vindicta said evenly. "Unless you intend to end up imprisoned or worse for malpractice."

"Oh dear sister, if I didn't know any better I would say you think me some sort of heathen. I would never abuse my power as a doctor, though as the expression goes, no pain, no gain."

"I remember someone saying detaching cybernetic limbs was a painful experience. I believe it was our uncle," Vindicta offered helpfully.

"Mayhaps one day we will remedy that. Though we could leave it as a helpful reminder to not stupidly remove your limbs. I would say that design flaw actually makes cybernetics idiot proof. Though on the topic of our uncle have you heard anything from our aunts? I haven't talked with them much these days."

"I believe Vee is running some special operation for mother, and Lily and Emma are hard at work as always. No idea about Elizabeth, however," Vindicta responded with a shrug.

Mark nodded, rubbing his wrist and sighing. "Are you completely sure this whole space thing is what you want to do? If we get there and find out things aren't like we expected, it might be too late to back out. It isn't XCOM after all. It could be nothing like what our mother experienced."

"But new knowledge is what leads to advances in technology! We'd still be tinkering with lunar outposts and experimental laser weapons if we hadn't been boosted along by extraterrestrial technology!" Vindicta argued vehemently. "And we would hardly understand psionics."

"I will not deny our advancements over the years. I am just warranting cautious optimism." Mark walked closer to his sister and put a hand on her shoulder. "I am glad you are excited Vindicta, despite what I might say. It is good that you have your mind set. It is more than some people our age have."

"Such as yourself," Vindicta said matter-of-factly. "You should find a primary focus, even if being multi-talented is useful."

"In time hopefully. Unfortunately broadening my knowledge has left me with... few primaries to turn to. For now however, I am content on furthering mechanical and bio engineering by a couple of years. Who knows, it could prove a challenge."

"I do want to look into the genetics of the Tamearins due to their psionic potential," Vindicta mused, shutting off the lights and walking down the access hallway with her brother. "They have such troublesome... boundaries though."

"Ah, the Tamearins. Well being a race who hates genetic modification with a burning passion, I can see why they are less than willing to help you. My suggestion would be to stroke their ego. Perhaps their own pride will be their greatest weakness for your work." Mark suggested, putting his hands in his coat pockets and looking towards his sister. "Good luck with that one."

"If I can't access their DNA directly I can always study any Humiliata genetic samples the XSDF have," Vindicta replied, sighing. "It's such a shame that mother's DNA samples of the Dagon ended up being lost in an accident. The scientist that dropped them out to be thrown off the Arkbird... Leon Wolfe, was it? The DNA could have provided us such insight into mental psionics..."

"An accident is an accident, though they really should have been more careful with how they handled the specimens." Glancing around, Mark took in the familiar-looking walls and added," You know, one time during a lab experiment during a chemistry class I attended, a guy accidentally put the wrong two chemicals together. Let's just say, he was never seen in class again. Dropped the course a couple of weeks later though. Hated that class. Teacher was incompetent and lazy and most of the people there more so. I did make a few good friends thought."

As they reached the upper levels, Vindicta chuckled. "It still amazes me that you wasted an entry into Harvard. Still not sure how father reacted to that."

Mark shook his head. "He was a little mad at first but he came to understand why. Look where he is and he didn't finish college Though getting chewed out by mother..." Mark visibly shuddered. "For some reason I think she doesn't take me as seriously as you. Seems you got the mother and I the father. Just more things to add to the list that makes us opposites."

"And of course that extends to me being superior and you being inferior."

Mark sighed and put a hand on his older sister's head. "Keep thinking that, squirt."


Well-Known Member
"Unshackled Ego"

Earth, Sol System (January 14th, 2044)
The Einherjar (4:41 A.M.)
High Orbit over the Pacific Ocean (currently)

The bridge of the Einherjar was dim, only soft basic lights and dashboards illuminating the command center of the large battleship. A skeleton crew was keeping the ship running assisted by the ship's basic artificial intelligence. Mainly, they were automatons at this early hour, Legion Frame models modified to serve in this fashion. A few drones drifted about, repairing any errant circuitry and running diagnostics with small appendages. A few humans oversaw this, closer to the middle where the Commander's chair and other important positions were empty or currently operated by the machines.

At the doors, of which there were three, Outsiders (or in reality, K'mitra) guarded the entrances to the bridge. They weren't armed with plasma weaponry like those in service to the Ethereals, even for this important position. As it stood, the XSDF simply didn't have the resources to outfit anyone but their elite troops with plasma weaponry and the organization's most sophisticated armors. And the vast majority of those soldiers were stationed on Earth or one of the Supra-Battleships, the Arbkird and the Starfield, formerly Ethereal battlecruisers prior to the Ethereal Subjugation War. Now, they belonged to humanity, safeguarding her core system beneath the 'bird's wing and protecting her colonies within a defensive 'field'.

The Einherjar was part of the solution to Earth's elerium shortages that accounted for the lack of plasma technology able to be manufactured. It was scheduled to survey colonies and deal with any problems along its way to the planet of Forseti, humanity's elerium mining colony recently established a distance from Earth. The Einherjar would protect that planet from a dispute that had popped up over ownership. It was clear that even if the claim, unlikely as it was, turned out to be valid, that the XSDF's Commander would not easily give up such a valuable stronghold.

Folding his white-gloved hands behind his back, Addington Khumalo was feeling the same way. The South African smiled arrogantly, looking out of the viewport along the front of the bridge, observing the stars beyond Earth rather than the planet itself. He was wearing an officer's uniform, and a special one at that. Over his shoulders was a black jacket, having a collar colored white on the inside. The nineteen-year-old (very young for an officer!) straightened that jacket, and dusted off his dark gray shirt and dark blue jeans, tapping his black boots with eagerness.

That arrogant smile on his face only spread wider as Khumalo thought back to his recruitment to the XSDF. "That damn recruiter said, 'Oh, he's too young. We can't have someone like that as our fleet coordinator! Especially not with that attitude'." Addington sneered. "What an idiot. The minute the others saw my credentials, the scores I got on tests in that worthless military academy on Earth and on Mia Belle, they knew they couldn't pass me up."

Addington clenched a fist triumphantly. "And now I'm in charge of the Einherjar's fighter squadrons. If we are going to have to fight space pirates and some mysterious faction, they'd better be ready to concede inferiority to my stratagems. They don't know what they're going to be up against."

"Uh... sir? Are you talking to yourself?" one of the human members of the skeleton crew asked meekly, sighing quietly to herself.

"Be quiet," Addington snapped, turning his head for only a moment. Brushing back his black hair, the fleet coordinator swiveled around and started walking towards the door. Might as well inspect the fighters one last time before I meet the pilots. Walking confidently down the dimly lit hallways that made his chocolate skin look darker than it actually was, the young officer headed towards Hangar A where some of the finest of the Einherjar's fighter craft were located. He opened a door after coming up a short series of stairs, and walked out onto a balcony overlooking the room.

Below Khumalo were twelve Firestorms, optimized for fighter to fighter combat but also capable of taking on larger ships. In Hangar B were elongated spaceships resembling fighter jets, the Seraphs, and off to either side of the hanger were the spiderlike Shifters. "They might not have fusion cannons, but they'll do," Addington thought aloud, admiring the elerium-powered engines that could be boosted by breaking down the E-115 with Tz6.

Addington shook his head. "Not that they'll need that. Elerium afterburners are such a waste of money, even with Forseti starting to dig up the E-115. Such a wasteful addon..." Turning his nose up at the thought, the young officer instead focused his blue eyes, tinged a bit orange by genetic modification, on the ships again, running a final but simple inspection. "I do hope the pilots are competent enough to be worthy of flying such beautiful machines. The same goes for the Seraphs.”

The Seraphs resembled fighter jets, except these were capable of stellar combat instead of being optimized for aerial dogfights. They had long frames and weak armor, though a Level Two shield made up for that to some extent. Their weaponry included two cannons and two large missile banks with twelve of those rockets each. The Shifters on either side of the hangar were shaped more like the Stingrays in Hangars C and D, but had three cannons and two large missiles.

“The best of our attack craft, though…” Addington mused. Those were destroyer-class fighters called Novahawks, armed with twin plasma cannons, twin pulse cannons, and twin gauss cannons, but the two the Einherjar had were not ready for combat yet. They were still being built, in fact, within Hangar F on the battleships’s underbelly.

"Tch." The thought brought frustration to Addington again. Why couldn't they finish them before our voyage, not during, Khumalo lamented. Sighing, he decided, "As long as they finish them soon I can live with it. And, of course, only the best pilots for these." Folding his hands behind his back again, that familiar grin overtook his sour expression. "Oh, it is good being in charge."


Operator 21O
Staff member
Appleton, Wisconsin
January 10th, 2044
4:57 A.M.

The slight mist that overlaid the forest hung around, giving the scene an eerie and foreboding glow to it, the air cool with moisture. The snow on the ground was slushy with water, a slight breeze blowing through the pines and leafless, dead others. At about a hundred yards, a white tail, ten point buck was walking around looking for the tiniest scrap of food, the animal sticking his nose in the ground where some of the snow was melted and the ground below was muddy.

A shot rang out and the animal fell down, the few birds in the trees flying away into the still dark sky. The forest was still for a brief moment, seconds later the bushes rustling a ways away from the dead deer, two figures stepping out and slinging their rifles on their shoulders.

The first was the older of the two, his hair combed back, a beard and mustache on his facial features. His face had a grizzled and hard look to it, one that made him look naturally tough. He was wearing just plain hoodie with a black vest pulled over top, black jeans and black army boot adorning his lower half. He had a determined look on his face, looking at the second person and nodding his head.

The second looked much younger, his face looking less older but fully matured. He had no facial hair and his hair was cut down short, his last buzz cut finally starting to grow back. He was wearing a heavy winter coat, underneath a jacket, a small pendant dangling from the neck of the man. He also had on a pair of cargo pants and boots, the man looking at the animal he had shot with only a slight grin. “Not bad for a hundred yard shot. Got him right in the head.” He stated, not making it much of a boast but still an achievement for him.

“Next time make it two hundred, and ask me if I am impressed.” The older man responded.

The younger man sighed and looked side ways to the older one. “You are impossible sometimes, Dad.”

Desmond smiled and put a mechanical hand on his son’s shoulder. “Only because I love you Cayden. Now come on, we don’t want to bring back a block of ice.” Cayden’s father began to walk forward and the younger man shook his head, following his father closely behind.


By the time Desmond and Cayden had gotten done in town and their venison done from the butcher shop, the two drove down the main street in an old Chevy truck Desmond had bought when he first came to Wisconsin to hunt. Cayden looked out the window at the sunny day, the few people on the street bundled up as the cold outside and the incoming dark clouds meaning a blizzard was coming.

Desmond glanced at his son for a brief second and spoke up. “Something is bothering you.” He stated.

“Nothing is bothering me.” Cayden simply replied, still looking out the window.

“Don’t lie to me. I have picked up from your mother how to tell when a person isn’t feeling right, and there's no use lying to me, I can tell.”

The younger man sighed and sat back in his seat, putting his arms behind his head. “Just… nervous I guess. I mean, I don’t know if I am ready.”

Desmond tilted his head to the side, looking at Cayden and back at the road. “It has been almost a year Cayden. You need to let go.”

“Like you do?” Cayden asked with an incriminating tone.

Desmond remained silent, letting the sound of old classic country play from the radio.

“Dad, I am not stupid. I know the reason why you travel to D.C. and France occasionally. It has been twenty five years since the war, and I still don’t see you putting that behind you.”

Desmond stopped the truck as he pulled up to the curb, letting the engine run as he put it in park. “Cayden...that is different.”

“How, Dad? How is it in any way different?” Cayden asked in a raised voice.

“I deal with the war, it is behind me.” Desmond said coldly, looking at his son with a hard look. “The military...and everything else...is behind me.”

“Dad, your argument is completely invalid. You have your sisters, and and Mom had Aunt Alex in Russia. Geez...even Brigid lived with us a while. You travel to D.C. to visit your friend’s grave, you go to France for whatever reason you won’t even tell me...hell...you even have that arm…” Cayden shook his head, resting it on his hand with his elbow against the window.

After a few moments of awkward, Desmond finally said, “You done?”


With a sigh, the older man said, “Look...there are reminders of the war everywhere, they will always be here, but I moved past them Cayden. I tolerate the memories because I know they are in the past. There are things…” Desmond’s face turned saddened for a moment but resumed being the same cold stare. “Things I am not proud of, things that haunt me and that I wish...I could have changed or done different but I live with the choices I made, and I live with them. Some of them haunt me, that is true...but there are many things I would never change for anything,”

“I’m not like you Dad...I just can’t...forget. The parts that I remember...they just…”

“It will be like that for a while, but what you are doing is good for you. The XSDF will be the thing you need to get your life back. I don’t know how it will be but just remember you have your family behind you. Hopefully, you will even see a few friendly faces.”

With a nod from Cayden, Desmond put the truck in drive and continued down the street.


Operator 21O
Staff member
Cayden turned on the light of his room in the family cabin, putting his phone on the nightstand as he closed the door and sat down at the desk with the computer on it. He turned it on and brought up the vid-phone, putting in a number and waiting for a response.

The response came and on the screen, his mother sat, her smile wide and her green eyes sparkling behind a pair of glasses. He black hair was hanging loosely and she smiled even wider when she say Cayden. “Hi sweetie, how is the trip going?”

“Good Mom.” Cayden said with a smile of his own, though there was a hint of sadness under it all.

“Have you been taking good care of yourself?”

“Of course.”

“Alright, good. And your father?”

“Dad is being dad like always.” Cayden stated with a sigh.

“Well...that is Desmond after all.” Elizabeth said in a slight murmur. Returning her smile and fixing her hair she asked, “You’re doing alright, right? I mean at least you are having fun?”

Cayden chuckled, nodding his head. “Yeah, I am.”

“Okay...if you say so.” Ellie looked back and said, “Your siblings want to say hello, is that alright?”

Cayden nodded and a moment later, a young man with dark brown hair and blonde highlights complete with brown stubble, next to him a girl with soft features, piercing green eyes and black hair like her mother came on screen, the two smiling, the girl waving her hand excitedly and the man giving only a nod. “Hey Leo, Bethany. How you guys doing?”

“Fine as always.Work is killing me and I feel the life slowly draining out of me but otherwise unharmed.” Leo joked, his smile making Cayden unable to resist a short laugh.

“What about you Beth? How is school going?”

“I am...having a good time. Things have been well ever since...you know…” Bethany gave a small smile and closed her eyes.

“Yeah, well if any other guys try that again, me and Leo will make sure they stay in the hospital permanently next time.” Cayden said in an annoyed tone.

“Still grateful for Dad getting the cops off of us. Who knew he had friends in law?” Leo asked.

“Yeah...well, the guy had it coming. Don;t care if you dated my sister for a few years, you don’t get feely with her if she doesn't want it.”

“Seriously guys, I am fine. I told you nothing happened…” Bethany said in a low voice, the seventeen year old looking away but Leo putting a hand on her head. “Don’t worry sis, you always have us by your side.”

Elizabeth popped back in the screen in the background and said, “Dinner is almost done you guys, I know you guys would talk all day but you should keep it brief!” Vanishing back into the kitchen, the two siblings looked back at Cayden.

“We are going to miss you…” Bethany said, wiping her eyes.

“I am going to miss you too Beth.” The girl gave a brief nod and walked off camera, leaving only Leo watching his sister leave. A moment later he looked back, his face serious. “You better make it back.”

“You know I will Leo. Nothing will happen to me.” Cayden said whole-heartedly.

A few moments passed and Leo nodded, crossing his arms. “Look...just...come back. Mom won’t shut up about you and Bethany...well, she needs her older brother, well, her oldest.”

“You got the homefront okay?” The elder brother asked, leaning forward in his seat a bit.

“Yeah, I always got your back, bro.” Putting his fist against the camera, Cayden did the same and with a nod the screen went dark once more.

Taking a deep breath, Cayden wiped his eyes, turning around as there was a knock on the door and the door opened, Desmond walking in. “You said goodbye?”

Cayden nodded and Desmond sat on the bed, the silence filling the room until Desmond finally said, “You go to New York after this right? Then you go where you were assigned?”

“Yeah. Seems like the days are going by so fast until I ship out.”

Desmond nodded, rubbing his forehead. “If there is one piece of advice I can give you, get on the Commander’s good side. Helped me more times than I can count with Morrigan and I tell you...you will need it. Luckily you have the benefit of Aya. She will most likely be your lifeline through all of this so...make sure you stay on her good side.”

“Alright Dad…” Cayden said somberly.

Desmond sighed and reached behind him, pulling out an object wrapped in clothe. Desmond held it in his hand for a few moment before reaching it out to Cayden.

Cayden took it, unwrapping it and revealing a revolver, with black polished metal, long barrel and black leather grip. The young man picked it up and held it in his hand, looking at Desmond, “Dad, I can’t take this!”

“Take it.” Desmond said, looking at his son with a smile. “Think of it as a way to remember me by. Not sure if Gauss rounds are as effective in battle anymore so just keep it as a momento. Though feel free to go to the range with it.”

Cayden nodded his head, having to wipe his eyes and getting up, embracing his father in a hug. “I love you Dad.”

“I love you too son. I always have, and I always will.”


Operator 21O
Staff member
London, England
January 2nd, 2044
3:34 P.M.
Cauthon Apartment

The taxi crawled along with the mid-afternoon traffic, the sky gray and a light rain coming down over London that had started an hour before. Nick’s plane had touched down earlier that morning; the teen more jet-lagged than he had ever felt after coming in on a transport going from Venus to Earth. It had taken a long while for Nick to get his papers approved and authorized since his parents were not with him, the scientist/engineer duo having to stay behind reluctantly as their work was needed to help maintain the colony.

The sounds of old, smooth jazz coming from Nick’s headphones, he almost didn’t notice the cab driver calling his name that they had arrived at their stop. Reaching into his coat and pulling out some money, he handed it to the cab driver and stepped out into the rain, the driver going around back and grabbing his bags, handing them off to the teen with a nod of his head.

Walking up the steps of the apartment, the engineer growled a bit as he had to put one of his bags down on the wet stoop to grab his key and put it into the lock, shoving the door open with his foot and rushing inside. Closing the door behind him, Nick smiled and pulled the headphones off of his ears and turning off his music, the teen called out, “I’m home!” The teen knew no one was home but the small outburst made him feel all the more at peace as he had gotten a little anxious sitting in the car.

The apartment looked just the way the family had left it, his parents having the place being looked after in case they had ever visited their previous home for a vacation, though they were so few and far between, it made Nick wonder why they didn’t just sell the place and move on, but at the moment he needed it, it was there and he had to be grateful.

Moving into the other room and putting his three bags on the dining room table, the engineer opened one of the zippers and a small cube floated out, looking around with his light blue eye and floating in front of Nick’s face. “That trip was hardly comfortable. Those airport workers were not at all careful with the baggage. I do hope nothing is broken.”

Nick’s eyes widened and he quickly pulled out all the items in his bags, all neatly placed as per the norm for the engineer. Put about the table were a couple of pairs of generally the same looking clothes, a couple of cases of tools that were a nightmare getting through customs, Nick’s laptop, his glasses case and two drones, Buzzer; who was about the size of a baseball, and Ratchet, a drone around a foot long with four propellers that folded onto the outside of the body. At first glance, nothing looked broken but Nick had to make sure.

“Alright…” Clapping his hands together, Nick looked at his little A.I. “Going to connect now Glitch, just...keep an eye out, alright?”

“Police and paramedics are on speed dial.” The A.I. noted.

“Uh, thanks for the confidence boost.” The teen stated a little nervously, shaking his head and looking down at his wrist, his own personal wrist computer on it that was connected into his implant, which in turn connected to his drones. “Powering up one…” Pressing a few commands on his computer, Buzzer popped open and the drone floated up a couple of feet off the table, just floating there and transmitting information into Nick’s head. Making the drone fly around the room, the engineer was satisfied with Buzzer’s performance and powered him down.

“Systems are all good, though reaction time is a bit laggy...might need to tighten up the connection and to try again later. Now...connecting into number two…” Nick looked at Ratchet as his propellers opened up and began to whirl up. Holding his hand outstretched Nick guided the drone around the room.

However, about halfway doing what he was doing, Nick could feel his hand lock up and there was a sharp stabbing pain in the base of his skull. The teen fell to his knees in pain, the drone clattering to the ground and Nick sitting there in pain for a few minutes before it passed. Trying to stand but feeling very nauseous, the teen sat in his chair and covered his face with his hands, his small A.I. hovering near his head. “Are the paramedics required?” It asked simply.

Nick shook his head slowly and he rubbed the piece of metal on the back of his head. “N-No, Glitch...I am...fine…”

A small scanner moved over Nick and the A.I. moved closer. “Biometric scans of your body suggest you are lying, Mr. Cauthon. Medical attention is advised.”

“I said I am fine...I promise.” Nick added a smile to his statement but the numbness in his head remained. “Besides, this implant is still in the experimental stage anyways...bugs are expected.”

“Pesticide, sir?” Glitch asked.

“Ha ha...very funny.” Nick stated sarcastically before smiling.

“What is funny? I merely asked if you wanted help with your bugs.”

“Are...are you serious?”

“Completely, sir.” Glitch affirmed.

Nick raised his eyebrow and shook his head. “I was talking about computer bugs...not...actual bugs you nit.”

“I am sorry, Mr. Cauthon, I will try and fix that problem.”

“No need to be sorry. I named you Glitch for a reason.” His nausea having subsided, Nick stood up and stretched out his tired limbs. “I think I am going to make myself something to calm me down and sleep off this jet-lag. Hopefully after that and some diagnostics, there won’t be any more problems.”

“Tea, sir?”

“Of course. I couldn’t survive without it.” With Nick’s implant, it made caffine very hard to consume and the teen had to constantly watch his energy intake so he didn’t make something overwork and worse case, blow up. Luckily, the engineer had discovered the next best thing.

Taking his time to make a kettle of hot water, taking a few tea bags out of a cabinet with some sugar as well as a little cream, the teen liking his coffee with a bit of sweet taste and creaminess to it. Drinking a few cups, Nick went up the stairs of his apartment and into his old room, smiling at the neatness to it and slowly climbing under the covers, his A.I. hovering down and settling on his nightstand, Glitch powering down and the teen closing his eyes, sleep taking him faster than he thought it would.


Operator 21O
Staff member
London, England
January 3nd, 2044
11:07 A.M.
Cauthon Apartment

By the time Nick’s eyes fluttered open, he looked over to the clock and saw it was almost noon the next day, the engineer quickly scrambling out of bed. Usually he was always the first up early in the morning but it seemed his fatigue had gotten to him. Making his bed neatly and changing out of his dirty clothes and into fresh ones, Nick walked downstairs after grabbing Glitch off of his nightstand and he looked around somberly, remembering that he was all alone.

Slowly entering the living room, Nick smiled widely as he walked up to the big black piano in the living room, Nick running his hands over it with a hint of nostalgia. On the colony, he had not had the opportunity to practice any of his piano skills on anything less than a simulation, and that could not beat the real thing.

Going over to one of the shelves, Nick ran his hand over the sheet music until his hand rested on one of his favorite composers, Chopin, and pulled out the sheet, placing it down on the note stand and flipping open the cover of the keys. Going through the keys to make sure everything was in tune, Nick began to play Chopin’s Nocturne op.9 No.2.

It was obvious as soon as the teen had started how rusty he had gotten but overall, he kept to the notes well and had fun playing the song. About halfway attempting the song a second time, there was a drawn out knock at the door and the teen stopped immediately, the cleaning people not supposed to come until the weekend.

Getting up, Nick cautiously walked to the door and opened it up slowly. Standing on the other side was a girl wearing a tight fitting black leather jacket with a short black and red skirt, the girl giving a wide smirk and shaking her head, her black pigtails moving with her head. “When are you going to learn Gearhead, you can’t escape me forever.”

Nick taking a step back with a scared look, the girl jumped forward and tackled Nick to the ground, wrapping her arm around his neck and rubbing his head hard with her knuckle. “Get it through that thick skull of yours, will ya?”

Nick squirmed against her grip, the teen trying to fight back. “Come on Melinda, cut it out! That hurts!”

“Good. Maybe this will teach you to leave for a good long while without even a single call!” The punky girl yelled, finally releasing the engineer who quickly scrambled away. “Place hasn’t changed a bit, has it?”

“Yeah, it hasn’t.” Nick closed the door and got to his feet, scratching his head. “What are you doing here?”

“I live next door, you ninny. You don’t think I wouldn’t have been able to heard you playing the piano?”

Nick mentally slapped his face. How did I forget that...stupid, stupid, stupid! “Well, look. It was nice seeing you and all, but you need to go.”

Melinda smiled and leaned forward, placing her hands on her hips. “Oh really, and who is going to make me? You?”

Wanting to make a comeback but coming up blank, Nick just scoffed and shook his head.

“That is what I thought. Besides, is that anyway to treat a girl you like so much?”

Nick blushed a bit and pointed put his finger at Melinda. “Used to like, and you know it! We were little kids, what did you expect! Besides, don’t you have a boyfriend already, you little hellspawn?”

“Yeah, you're right, but he isn’t as fun as you are Gearhead.” Melinda smiled wide and let out a little chuckle.

“Shall I alert law enforcement Mr. Cauthon?” Glitch said, the A.I. floating into the room and eyeing Melinda.

“No, Glitch… she is a friend. Though...make sure they are on speed dial…”

“You know they are sir… I stated so yesterday.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa… what in the bloody hell is that thing!” Melinda stepped forward and tried to look at the floating A.I. from all angles, though Glitch quickly hovered over to Nick’s side.

“This is Glitch. He is an artificial intelligence I made.” Nick said a little meekly, growing up on a colony of tech geniuses not really yielding him with a lot of praise.

“No kidding… he is cool.” Melinda noted. “I want one.”

“No!” Both Glitch and Nick stated at the same time, Melinda shrugging her shoulders.

There was another knock at the door and Nick raised another eyebrow, opening the door and seeing a mailman. He nudged his head towards a large crate resting behind him. “This yours?”

“Yeah, just bring it on in.” After bringing in the crate and leaving, Nick rubbed his hands together and smiled. “Awesome…” Knowing it was probably a bad idea, Nick tapped a few commands in his wrist computer and a few moments later, Rachet flew in and hovered near the box.

“What is that!” Melinda exclaimed, looking generally excited at the drone.

“Another invention. Hold on…” A small laser came out of Rachet’s body and it quickly cut the crate at a few key points and the box walls fell apart, packing peanuts falling to the floor revealing a massive, bulky machine from the cascade of teal styrofoam.

“What is that!?”

“Seriously...how are you surprised at this point?” Nick smiled and waved his hand over the big machine. “This is Clunker. A work in progress.” Taking a deep breath, Nick looked worried at the drone and typed into his computer. “Alright… no time better than now to test this…” Activating the drone, it whirled to life for a second but it quickly died and did not start again. “Damn… Ratchet!”

The drone flew off and brought back a screwdriver, Nick taking it and opening a panel on Clunker, shifting some things around, a small smark coming out and burning Nick, causing him to jump back. “Son of a-!” Growling, Nick kicked Clunker and the drone came back to life, lifting up on his legs. “Huh… why is it kicking the tech is always the answer…” The engineer asked to himself, closing the panel and hopping up on the drone’s head, sitting there. He had no idea what he would use Clunker for, but for now he just liked to ride him around.

“Okay… you are amazing Nick!” Melinda noted.

“Uh….” Scratching his head, the boy looked down bashfully. “T-Thanks…”

“So...what is all this?” Melinda asked, raising an eyebrow.

“I… I am joining the XSDF… I am actually here because I ship out in almost a week.”

“WHAT!” Melinda yelled angrily, grabbing Nick’s collar and pulling his close to her face. “You just get home and now you tell me you are shipping out… with the military! You are sixteen, how did you even join!?”

“M-M-My parents! I-I am not going as a soldier, I swear! I am just going to be an engineer, I promise, I promise!”

Melinda gave Nick a stink eye and slowly shoved him back, letting out a saddened sigh. “When will you be back?”

“I don’t know…”

“Just…” Melinda sighed and rubbed her arm, looking at the ground. “Be safe. I don’t want to lose my best friend for good this time…”

“I will be fine Mel…”

“And!” She said in an outburst, raising a finger, “You have to find yourself a girl!”

Nick blushed again and yelled back. “What? How that hell am I supposed to promise you that, you… you…! Besides, I am sixteen going into a military organization, you must be crazy to think I will find someone my age!”

“Of course I am. I became your friend after all.” Melinda gave a girly giggle and once again put her hands on her hips. “Just try to come out of your little metal shell you have… I know how long it took you to do so for me.”

“Well...you are a little rough…”




The two shared a smile together and Nick hopped down from Clunker, wanting to spend some time with one of his closest friends before being thrust into a world he had no idea he was even ready to be apart of.


Operator 21O
Staff member
Tokyo, Japan
January 5th, 2044
10:34 P.M.
Abandoned industrial zone on the outskirts of the city

A motorbike roared down the off ramp of the highway, it’s headlight illuminating the way forward as the glow of the city twinkled in the distance. The black bike made a whining noise as the engine pushed itself at high speeds, the driver on it having to lean forward to grip the handle bars. The sound of music blared not to far off and the screeching of tires indicated how close his target was.

Applying the brakes as he sped into the port area, the bike stopped behind a group of people, other various bikes and cars all spread around, the sound of engines and chatter deafening along with the sound of some singer above it all in Japanese.

Ezra pulled off his helmet, shaking his head revealing his spiky black and red hair, the android smiling and taking in the attraction before him. When Ezra had first told his dad about going to school for real, and better yet overseas, he smiled at how Sora would look if he saw what his son was doing at that moment. Ezra didn’t really care. It was his last few days in Japan, and he was going to make it worth it.

Putting the kickstand of his bike down and putting his helmet on the front of his bike, he stepped away and jogged towards a group of people away from the main crowds, the two people he had grown kind of attached to during his school days smiling as they saw him approach.

Amber Davis, a foreign exchange student much like Ezra, she was the first friend he had made in his new school, Amber having hooked up Ezra with his fake I.D. and papers to get a job. He didn’t really need a job, but if he had to do it to keep his cover, he would. The other was Shinji Fujigara, a tech kid who was more into studying than Ezra had ever been, saying his family expected it of him or something like that. Shinji never really talked about his family much but in contrast, neither did Ezra.

Two cars pulled up to the line and after a girl gave a countdown they were off, the crowd cheering on the drag racers as money changed hands among other things. Ezra never bet or actually participated, he just enjoyed the fast cars, the girls, and the occasional run from the police.

“So...you decided to join us after all?” Amber noted, not looking at Ezra but the question directed at him, She was more than a little pissed about his decision to join the XSDF, Amber having something against military brats for one reason or another.

“I figured might as well. I only have three more days before I ship out. Want to spend it with my best friends.” Ezra assured them.

Amber scoffed. “Yeah...well...” She looked at him up and down with an unapproving look but even she could not hold back a slight smirk. “Took you long enough.”

Shinji nodded his head, not much one for conversation, even with his two friends. He eyeballed the cars as if he was taking them apart with his eyes.

“You could always follow, you know? We could always use more cannon fodder.”

“Your an ass, you know that?” The girl complained.

“Yes, well, this ass is going to miss you. Both of you.” Ezra told his two friends, his playful look fading and turning at least a bit serious.

“I would...but I have business with my family. I have important matters I must attend when I get done with school this year.” Shinji pushed up his glasses and leaned against a barrel, turning his head to look at Ezra and holding out his fist.

The android bumped him back, watching as the next set of cars came up. “I will still call you know.”

“Oh, we know. Else I would go insane with just Spectacles here for company. No offense Shinji.”

“All of it taken.” The nerd noted.

“I will be sure to fire a few rockets on your behalf Amber. Who knows, you might finally pay me back for the ten times I have saved you.” Ezra gave a slick smile, being sure not to let the girl ever forget.

“Nine...times. That festival mishap...doesn’t count.” She said with a slight blush, turning away.

“Oh really? ‘Cause I thought it was really funny when-”

“Not a word!” Amber yelled, interrupting Ezra and crossing her arms.

Chuckling, Ezra walked up to his two friends and gave them both a hug, the two returning the sentiment. “Time will fly. Before you know it, we will be raising hell as a team when I get back. I heard the XSDF are flexible with their tours. Just don’t disappear off the face of the Earth so I can look you guys up.”

“No promises.” Shinji noted in a low tone, Amber just simply nodding her head.

“So what ship will you be serving on?” Shinji asked,this time his voice back to normal and a hidden sparkle his eyes.

“The Einherjar. Just hope I am not bored the whole time. Was a reason I wanted to fight was for some action. Don’t wanna sit around in a spaceship all day. I imagine it would lose its luster after a while.”

“Just...just be sure to keep safe. We still need the leader of our little group.” Amber said, her voice a little embarrassed as she said it.

“You can count on me. Now let’s go. They are starting the next race.” Ezra waved his friends to follow and he walked forward, his two friends sharing a glance at one another and following close behind.


Operator 21O
Staff member
Detroit, Michigan
January 8th, 2044
4:00 A.M.

A lone car rolled down the street in the early morning in the slums of Detroit, the air slightly humid as the rain that had came down all of the previous day had lingered in the city. The headlights illuminated a singular figure walking down the street, a bag slung over his shoulder as he had his head hung low trying to get to his destination without drawing attention to himself.

He stopped abruptly in front of a small building, the man taking out a key and putting it in the lock, opening up the doors of the gym and walking in. Placing his bag down on a bench, the man walked over to the light switches and turned them all on, the lights of the establishment turning on with a loud buzz of the fixtures breaking the silence.

Pulling down his hood, Connor looked around to unsurprisingly not see the owner in. Ever since he had gotten a bad case of pneumonia, he had to stay home, leaving Connor to take care of the place for a while. No one would ever come this early, sometimes people wouldn’t come at all, but Connor needed his time alone. Too much was on his mind to not do so otherwise. It had been two days since his hearing for custody of his daughter, something he had been waiting for since the first time his daughter was taken from him.

Having recently gotten out of rehab for the second time, it was a miracle he was able to get the court date that soon. His lawyer was confident that he could have gotten custody from his fiancee’s parents, the two of them doing everything in their power to keep his daughter away from him, even after the verdict and his attempts to get clean, they still would never forgive him for what had happened to their daughter.

Connor unzipped his bag open and looked at the contents inside, taking out a music player, a towel, and his bottle of water. Unfortunately, Connor shifted around his other jacket that was folded up inside and could see the small, little bag in the bottom of his duffel containing his drug stash. Connor knew the risk if it was ever found, but he couldn’t help himself, it had to at least be close by.

Putting his buds in his ears, Connor walked over to the punching bag in the corner of the gym and put his fist against it, taking a deep breath. Closing his eyes, the ex-UFC fighter took a deep breath as he pressed the play button on his music player and wound up, sending his fist straight into the bag. As he did, he let his mind go.

Connor...would you like to share?


Connor started with a few left hooks and hitting hard with a right jab and taking a step back. Hopping a bit to get pumped up, Connor was back and sent a right kick into the bag.

Connor, would you like to share today?


Connor’s blood began to boil as adrenaline poured into his system, his hits getting more intense as he pressed himself further.






Detroit, Michigan
January 6th, 2044
1:30 P.M.

Connor stood in a suit behind a desk, his lawyer next to him looking confident as always. This was the day that would Connor had been waiting for, the chance to get his daughter back and truly get his life back on track. On the other side of the courtroom, Louise’s parents stood with their lawyer, Tracy behind them sitting on a bench.

Connor glanced at her as Tracy did the same, the ex-fighter giving his daughter a small wave of his hand and she returned it with a big smile. It was everyone’s anticipation that Connor would get his daughter back. A few people come to support him, even Connor’s father had taken a day off to come to the courthouse with him, standing behind Connor wearing a suit of his own.

The judge was sitting in his spot, already beginning the proceedings and looking over some files. “Mr. Karo, what is your current job?”

“Uh...I help with managerial duties at a local gym your honor.” Connor responded.

“Do you have a stable home right now?”

“Yes, a two bedroom apartment your honor.” Connor stated nervously.

“Why is it you think you deserve custody Mr. Karo?” The judge asked bluntly, leaning forward to hear Connor’s answer.

“I...Your honor, I admit my mistakes, I am not a perfect person, but what I am is a loving father, and a hard worker, and I just want the chance to get my life back on track. I would like my daughter to be by my side through it.” For once, Connor’s voice had no hesitation, no hint of nervousness, he was serious about what he had said.

“A very sweet sentiment Mr. Karo. However…” Connor’s heart immediately leapt into his throat. “I believe it in the girl’s best interest she remain with her biological mother’s parents until the plaintiff can properly show he is in the proper bounds to raise a child. The court rules in favor of the defendants.”

Connor’s eyes widened and there was deep silence from the attendants in the court except for the sighs of relief from Louise’s parents.

“Court is dismissed.” The judge slammed down his gavel and Connor balled his fist, turning and walking out of the courtroom steaming, his lawyer close behind as the two entered a private room to talk.

Immediately, Connor slammed his fist down on the table hard. “How did this happen!” He yelled turning to his lawyer and visibly seething. “You said it was a guarantee that I would get Tracy back!”

“I-I’m sorry Connor, things were looking so well, I don’t know why the judge would…”

“Well what help that does!” Connor ran a hand across his face, trying to calm down but failing. Turning around, Connor sent his fist straight into the wall, leaving a hole in it. When Connor pulled his hand away, there was a gash on his knuckle, the wound bleeding profusely.

His lawyer looked scared and Connor turned around, walking out the door and watched as Tracy and her grandparents were walking towards the elevator. “Tracy!”

The girl turned her head but the grip on her arm was strong, “Dad!” Tracy managed to pull free and ran towards her father.

The two embraced, Connor keeping careful to not get blood on his daughter. “I’m so sorry sweetie…”

“Dad, I don’t want to go!”

“I know honey, I won’t stop...I am going to get you back, I promise.”

Tracy’s grandmother grabbed Tracy’s arm again and pulled her away, yanking the two apart.

Connor raised his voice but a security guard was on him, holding him back as his daughter was being dragged away. “I am going to keep fighting sweetie! I am going to get you back, I swear it!”

“Dad, I don’t want to go!” She cried, being dragged into the elevator.

“Keep strong baby girl...please…”

“Dad...Dad...Dad!” Tracy cried out, her pleading fading out as the doors to the elevator closed and Connor fell to his knees sobbing, pushing away the guard and putting his hands on his face. A couple of paramedics came, trying to fix his hand but he didn’t really feel or mind the hurt hand, what ached the most was his heart, and no one would be able to fix that.


Conner stopped his assault on the punching bag, taking deep breaths to help replenish his energy. Suddenly he felt light headed and sat down on the bench, laying his face in his hands, his right one still bandaged from the way he had punched the wall.

Connor still didn't completely recover from the ordeal, and the decision he made afterwards still weighing heavily on him, the ex-fighter wondering if he had made the right choice. Immediately after court, Connor had began walking around trying to calm himself.

It didn't work at all for him so he got even angrier. At the height of his ordeal, he had stumbled onto a recruiting drive for the XSDF. He didn't know why he did it, but he signed up and was screened, given the go ahead and was to be shipped out in a week for some ship, the name Connor had forgotten.

There was little hope for him now, and the only option he had was the military. Perhaps after he did his time, it would bring him closer to Tracy. Squeezing his hand into a fist, Connor laid horizontally onto the bench and laid an arm over his eyes, putting his fist into the air. "I promise Trace...I won't leave you..."