Beneath the Neon Stars - In Character Thread {MATURE CONTENT}

Discussion in 'Forum Games' started by RJS, Dec 3, 2015.

  1. Eruantien

    Eruantien New Member

    Leopold was quietly wedged behind a corner, the reticles on his gun trained directly at the manhole cover. His mind was a numb void. Ever since that day they'd lost Tito, Leopold had retreated inside himself for the second time in his life and allowed nothing to leak out. This was war, and emotions just complicated things.

    His fingers twitched as he remembered that Ina was also assigned to their squad. It had been some time since the two had crossed paths, and Leopold preferred to keep it that way. Assumedly she was right around the corner, in the same hallway. A small part of him wanted to seek reconciliation, but for what? She'd probably turned back into a mindless machine. Almost subconsciously, Leopold had done the same. He already could remember only the smallest flashes of what seemed to be another life. He'd lost the original spark that had driven him to the Partition so many months ago, the driving force behind his investigations while at the Institute. There was nothing to be found here, and maybe there was nothing after all, outside the walls of the neon city. Leopold no longer cared.

    The silence was heavy. Leopold could feel each of his breaths, feel the creak of his bones. The clock on his ocular implant ticked slower than a bio-fluid drip.
     
  2. lenscas

    lenscas Over-Achiever

    Just like anyone would be Wyatt was getting quite nervous, so far the missions weren't exactly a success anyway and although so far they managed to get out alive each failure that luck wouldn't last forever.

    Wyatt kind of wished he had something "mindless" to do like Syderis to keep away the nervousness but the only things he could do that could get close to it would be inspecting the various components of his equipment which isn't exactly something you would want to do, especially not right now.

    He sighed and looked around, not because there was much to see but because there was nothing else to do besides waiting.
     
  3. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    Ina peered down at the target manhole cover from her favorite vantage point: the humble rooftop position. Of all the places to be, this one allowed for a good view, and from a relatively safe location, especially for a flyer such as herself. Suddenly a little notification popup invaded her vision: a message from Dan. "Set up behind cover nearby the manhole." Well where else would he be set up? She took a short moment to respond with a thumbs up emoji. The emoji were one of her recent finds, and she had been more-or-less-spamming them every chance she got.

    Looking down at the scene, Ina's eye caught Leo, readying himself within his own little corner. It was always the secluded corners with him nowadays. He was even gloomier than usual from the looks of it. In fact, he looked so dead inside, it was almost as if Ina had sapped all the humanity out of him, gaining personality while he lost his. The irony wasn't lost on her, but she wish it was. Focus back on the target, Ina. Just ignore him....
     
  4. sgbros1

    sgbros1 New Member

    The signal pinged inside the communicators of the Partition cell. It was go time. No more time to gather thoughts, prepare. Up the ladder and over the top. Above, it didn't take long for them to take in their opponents, nor for the Institute to spot them. All that was left was to follow orders.

    Focused on her job, Ina's reflexes, if they could be called that, reacted almost instantly, flicking her laser out from her arm and firing towards the first target to surface. The laser struck Jerana in the shoulder, burning a hole.
    Jerana yelped from the searing pain in her shoulder. A burst of adrenaline rushed through her, forgoing her previous thoughts and fired up towards her attacker. Ina swiftly ducked back into cover, the bullet whistling by overhead.
    Sy took a moment to take in his enemies before firing. The first one he didn't recognise. The next looked... haggard. Like the life had been drawn from him... no, Sy recognised him. He was changed but it was definitely none other than Leo Cinder himself. That left the final one... Ina. Sy would be so lucky. He had known that Ina had run, found it likely that she would return to the institute, with Leo following... but how could Leo have turned his back on the Partition like that? Had Ina turned him, or was he really so callous that he'd join them despite all that he knew they did?
    "Leo? What the hell are you doing here?" He shouted from behind cover, bringing his rifle to bear upon the brown-haired man. With an FMJ round, he fired a shot aimed at his chest. The shot punched into Dan's chest, blood spraying heavily as he was knocked off balance.
    Syderissss. The name slithered into Leopold's mind as he activated the 'punch' setting on his weapon. It had been... many months since he'd seen any of his old Partition squadron, besides Ina. He'd assumed they, too, were dead. Guess not. No matter. There was nothing for them here, anyway. There was no point to this war. It was better to finish it all, quickly, before old alliances awoke to cause trouble.
    Focusing blankly, Leopold fired a round toward the male fighter behind Syderis. Wyatt, wasn't it? And the first opponent, a girl of unknown origin. All of them, fools like himself. This, too, would pass.
    He felt, rather than saw, Dan Tuite be overturned nearby, a bullet ripping through his torso. He still had all his vital signs, but it was only a matter of time before worse damage would occur.
    Realizing the danger of their situation, Leopold opened a direct, emergency communication to Director Marquese, presumably occupied at the Institute's mainframe headquarters. He chose to transmit his message vocally: "Operative Leopold Cinder reporting. Hostiles encountered in manhole sector and battle engaged. Please advise." The shot caught Wyatt in the leg, though the damage it dealt was superficial.
    Dan staggered backwards from the shot. In a second, he hacked into INA's files, encountering no defence. His arms weakened as solid blue light began to form around his legs, making him move incredibly quickly. The weight of the gun felt like he had just started going to the gym again. "You shouldn't be surprised Syderis Velos. It is you isn't it? We've met in the past, both you and Wyatt. You shouldn't be surprised when someone switches to our side, after all, you betrayed the Institute yourself. So did Wyatt. So don't act like you didn't expect people to switch sides, hypocrite."
    Sy was surprised for a moment, that Wyatt had worked for them as well - he hadn't told him or the rest of their team. He supposed it didn't matter now, though. "I left the Institute because you bastards are far worse than the Partition could ever be. I refused to slaughter a family, and tried to shoot the man who ordered it. Is that so bad?" he replied, anger tainting his voice. He turned back to Leo, shouting "Leo, why? You were fighting for good before you went after Ina, for the Partition! How could you just change to their side like this? The people we've been trying to stop!"
    "Are you trying to tell me the Partition haven't made you do anything controversial? Don't lie to me. Deep down you know the Partition isn't a force for good." Dan replied.
    "I know it's better than the alternative. I've seen both sides, have you?"
    Wyatt didn't pay much attention to the fact that Leo attacked him. Though it did sadden him to be attacked by an old friend he was much too interested in what the other had to say about him.
    Of course, the claim that he used to side with the Institute could have easily be a lie but what if it wasn't. He simply had to know what this guy knew more about him, if any.
    Wyatt put a shield around himself, more as protection from Leo then from any of the others as he was reasonably sure INA wouldn't just attack him and the other guy seemed to want to talk, at least to Syderis.
    After the shield was deployed Wyatt got out of cover and spoke up "You seem to remember me, at least you know my name and make a claim about my past. What else do you know about me? Or is your claim just a lie to try and stop this fight?"
    Never before was Wyatt so close to knowing more about his past and now that it looked so close to discover it he would be a fool to not try to do so. But at the same time he knew that perhaps he shouldn't trust this guy as after all they were enemies.
    Wyatt turned to INA "Is he speaking the truth? Did I work for the Institute?"
    Ina lept off the rooftop and landed a fair distance away with a burst of wind, her tactical systems still on full alert. Their gear had changed, but this was definitely their group from before. The recognition brought a swift and sudden pain to this encounter. as well as her plastic face. To know the people she needed to kill personally was a whole new level of emotional difficulty. "It's true. You used to work as an engineer for the Institute." Her voice sounded detached, maybe even a little depressed, as if wrestling with two sides of her brain. Meanwhile, she turned on the new, unfamiliar member of the team and fired another attack towards her.
    She replied back to Sy in resignation, "I have seen both sides, and they both break my heart. This war brings out the worst of both, so it's all I can do to assimilate the weaker side by any means necessary." She remained in combat stance, continuing to show the regretful hostility. The laser arced wide, missing Jerana.
    Surging with adrenaline, Jerana shouted to her adversaries in an aggressive voice, "I'll show you who's the weaker side!" She then chased after Leo before attempting to land her knives in his chest. Leo barely twisted away in time, evading the blow.
    "Leo, why are you doing this? I can see Ina was leading us all along, but did she really get to you like that? We're your squad for crying out loud!" Sy shouted across the room, before punctuating the question with a shot at the brown-haired man. The shot flew wide.
    Leopold heard the discourse between forces, but didn't appear to be outwardly affected. Ejecting the spent round, he began to load a second, while simultaneously configuring an electromagnetic pulse to be projected toward the other male Partitioner. Wyatt. The name was dredged up from his memory banks. Leopold had fought with him, in another life. He had been a good man, even if misguided. Syderis, too. So... why the hell were any of them set to battle against one another!?
    At once, it had all became clear to him. This didn't have to happen. As a matter of fact, this was probably all the Institute wanted - constant infighting, continual distress. And here, at the end... the pawns were set to remove each other from the equation.
    Warfare allowed the Institute to remain in power over Magnopolis while absolving themselves from any duty toward the citizens. Even in all the time he'd spent combing their records, Leopold didn't have any explanation for why the Institute wanted supreme power. But he sure as fate knew a way to find out.
    The sentence came from a hoarse yet bold voice. "Gentlemen... it's been a while."
    Powering up his implants, Leo's eyes red-shifted along the spectrum to rest at a cold yellow, and an outdated yet familiar signal began to reach the transponders of the Partition agents. In one blinding motion, Leo turned and fired his EMP cannon against Dan Tuite, levelling his weapon on Ina in the follow-through. He stared her down with a steely gaze, having at last come to consider her as the sole reason for everything that had happened to him.
    Leo heard the pulse crack upon hitting something, but he didn't care to check what. In a deadpan tone, he simply demanded, "Why?"
    Dan was irritated by Leo's betrayal, but not entirely surprised. He sent out a message to Rowlands: "Leopold Cinder of Yeta Squadron has betrayed the Institute, please disconnect him from any important systems." He then sent another message to Marquese:"Leopold Cinder of the Yeta Squadron has betrayed the Institute, requesting backup." He then directed his attention to Leo. "You have made a mistake, Leo. I'll give you a little while to let you think about what you've done, but then I will show you no mercy. I was a criminal once too, I was hoping you could turn your life around. Well, hopes and dreams aren't what matter anymore, are they? Syderis, having a nervous breakdown, left his life behind for crime-"
    "Bullshit!" Sy shouted back at Dan, "You only saw the official report. Your great commander Karl Marquese ordered me to shoot at a child. Would you still take orders from a place that tried to make you do that? Kill a child along with his parents, all off of some vague tip-off? You patronising bastard, your people kidnapped our own non-combatant, and you act like we're so beneath you. She's probably in some dark cell right now, and I bet you don't even bat an eyelid. Do you want to know her name? Tessiana. Maybe you even met, she worked here for a time."
    "This time, you only saw the official report. Tessie... I mean, Tessiana was a traitor to the Institute. She had information about it that we didn't want to get out. Whatever history I... we had with her was clearly just a lie. That Tessiana was a made up disguise. Anyway, that is by far better than what you did to Wyatt here. With no memories of who he used to be you turned him into someone he wasn't, hiding the truth from him. You did have a life, Wyatt. Are these people your friends, or your kidnappers? How much have they told you about who you were? Do you even know why you are fighting? Maybe you should know the truth." With his targeting systems disabled, Dan did not bother attempting to attack, but his machine gun vanished, an RPG appearing on his shoulder. It weighed him down for a second, before adjusting to a smaller size.
    "I would say they are my friends, especially considering that thanks to them I am now talking to someone who apparently knows me. That is an awful lot more then the Institute did so far to help me, all they did was make my life and that of many others a hell. Even you are just teasing with my past right now, probably hoping that the promise of knowledge will make me switch sides thus once again proving how disgusting the Institute really is."
    Wyatt paused for a moment before continuing
    "Now, are you going to answer my earlier question and actually help me or are you just going to try and talk around it like you currently do?"
    With that Wyatt let all his power go to the capacitors and send a message to his team "How much pain it may do me to say this, if he doesn't say anything relevant I see no reason to risk our lives. He may very well know nothing more about me anyway."
    "Did you work for the Institute? Yes, of course. You were a well known and loved engineer, creating miracles of modern engineering. You apparently died in an accident while creating some machine. Clearly the truth is that you suffered severe brain damage, and lost your memories. You know I'm telling the truth, as you must have realised the injury on your head came from somewhere. If they were your friends, wouldn't they have told you?" Dan replied.
    "Then you should be careful, if they are that quick to give up a well known and loved engineer then what makes you think they would care more about you? Meanwhile, I doubt that the partition would give their people up that easily. And when it comes to the partition not telling about my past, you can't tell what you don't know." Wyatt replied, he wasn't at all sure if the last part was true. After all, Syderis had also worked for the Institute and who know what their leaders knew about his past. Then again, even if they knew what would it have changed? He knew what hell living in the undercity was and thus would've chosen to help the Partition anyway, then again, would he have been able to knowing that he would be fighting against old friends? Even if he didn't remember them?
    Suddenly Wyatt remembered the bomb in the factory, how many people that he knew would have been there? A cold shiver ran over Wyatt's spine as he thought of that.
    Ina glared back at Leo, a mix of hurt and outrage bubbling up inside. "How long were you planning on betraying me?" Her voice was cold as ice and considerably more sinister; sounding as if it might explode at any moment. "All these months, you were plotting the perfect moment to murder us....how could I not have seen it? It's these WRETCHED EMOTIONS, isn't it?!" Ina verbally exploded, firing her laser towards Wyatt's shield. "Giving you a free pass as 'harmless' when I should have killed you ages ago," she continued monologuing in rage, almost in madness. "And of course, I haven't forgotten the one who 'fixed' me!" She turned to Wyatt, emphasizing 'fixed' with major sarcasm. "I asked you to REMOVE the program, not add your own! You engineers are all the same: treating me like nothing but some tool to be used!" There was some obvious hurt in her voice, but it was buried underneath the extreme anger that had been boiling up inside for so long. The shot sparked off Wyatt's shield, which thinned noticeably.
    "You're one to talk, freak!" Sy shouted at INA, "you come into our squad, feigning betraying the Institute, and you had the fucking audacity to reveal my own secret, make me feel guilty for doubting you, then try to make our own team mate fight against us. What did you expect, for him to attack us?" Turning to Leo, he continued, "Leo, I'm glad to see you're back on the right side, thank you. Look, we need you to weaken the dickhead with the brown hair, slow him down - he'd going to dodge everything we throw at him otherwise."
    Sy then turned to his radio, selecting the comms channel neurally.
    "This is operative Velos, we've encountered resistance - notably INA herself, and we've found operative Cinder, but he seems to be on our side now. Do not recognise man with brown hair, seems to be a hacker of some sort. Seems like we have the upper hand, will keep you posted HQ."
    None of the words Sy threw at Ina appeared to effect her, aside from a minor twitch at the word 'freak'. She responded with a distant, calm tone, "I know exactly what I did. Throw down your weapons and you won't die. Otherwise, I will fire until there is death or worse."
    The debate flew back and forth, bitter realizations and harsh truths beginning to come to light. Leo's weapon arm spasmed, but he continued to aim it toward Ina. Staring down the sights of his gun, directly into Ina's eyes, Leo searched for something there, and failed to find it. His visage hardened, yet his voice cracked.
    "ENOUGH!!" roared Leo. "I've had ENOUGH!!"
    "You talk of betrayal, but you are the reason all of this has come to pass." The more he thought about it, the more it seemed true. If Ina had never defected in the first place, there would have been a very different story told, these past months.
    "I never planned this. I never had anything but the highest hopes for you, even after the Institute demanded my surrender. Even after that... I never wanted things to turn out this way. Serves me right, for thinking everything was so clearly divided into black or white, good or evil." Leo trembled, gripping the weapon tight with both hands now, and holding it before him as if it were a lifeline.
    "If I hadn't been so blinded by what I thought was the truth--"
    He broke off, unable to continue. Hours seemed to pass.
    "If... if I hadn't been so blinded," Leo continued at last, in a much deeper tone of voice that sounded faintly of heartbreak, "I'd have been able to do this much sooner."
    After the briefest of pauses, Leo drew himself up, and spoke in commanding words. "All of you, listen to me."
    "Wyatt, Sy, I've fought with you,"
    he said, addressing the Partitioners. "I like to think I have an idea of what you're fighting for - but it's time to stop. There's no point anymore."
    "New girl - I don't know what you're here for, but you'd best leave while you can. Things have been set in motion that you have no hope of ever stopping."
    "... Dan."
    His most recent ally, and even newer foe, yet Leo had never found out what made him tick. "Stop putting so much blind faith in the Institute. See for yourself what the world is like."
    "Ina."
    The face of Leopold Cinder, a dual turncoat and a broken man, flickered between something sour and something wretched. "I repeat my question: why?"
    "... Why would you be so heartless?"

    Blankly, Leo charged his super-dermal node-net to activation energies, his skin crackling to life with electric sparks as he held a gun towards Ina's face.
    "But I'm forgetting - you never truly had a real heart."
    "I can't just stop, Leo. If I stop now, forever, then I'll always be left wondering if I could have done more. I will not god damn rest until this city is in safe, fair hands. Please, just help us now, help us take down this data center and we can eventually take down the Institute and put something far better in its place."
    His concentration momentarily broken, Leo's face screwed up, and he began to laugh. It was a hollow, mirthless laughter that bounced dimly off the walls of their awful corridor. Still facing Ina, Leo paused for breath, and gathered himself to reply. He spoke somberly now, the tinge of laughter gone as quick as it had arrived.
    "Sy... it's impossible. Do you really think that a small group of 'freedom fighters', armed as we are, could begin to remove the institution that literally controls this city?" Leo withdrew one of his hands from his gun, taking his eyes off his target for a split second. "Do you truly think these hands can tear down something that's ingrained itself so deeply, so wholly into the structure of this place, that it even is indirectly influencing you to fight against it?"
    "Don't you see the sad irony!?"
    Leo gripped his weapon again, but he was shaking noticeably. "As long as we live here, we can't ever escape from the system... no matter how we push forward, the system itself pushes stronger in reverse...! It's inescapable!" His gun began to waver, and his voice choked. "We've tried, Sy, we've tried as damn well hard as we ever could. But not until the structure itself revolts, not until the house is turned against its own members, can we ever begin to even make a dent in this place."
    "We are the members turned against the house, Leo. The whole of the Partition is with us, many more people than our squad alone. And you make it sound like we aren't making progress. We are. If we can tear this place down, it'll be irrevocable damage against these bastards, and we can set to removing them from this city for good, finally being able to see the truth of it all past the Institute's lies. Even if it doesn't work, if we're more likely to fail... it's worth a god damn try, when the alternative is to give up and be subsumed by the system we're trying to destroy."
    "Funny thing about that, Sy," replied Leo, in a tone that suggested absolutely nothing was humorous in the slightest. "The Partition, the Institute... at the end of the day, what's the difference? It's just another ruling power. Just another group of aristocrats, backed by lethal force and ready to push out their own ideology." He paused for a slight moment, shifting his weapon in his shuddering arms. "It's all part of the same system, Syderis."
    Leo's voice was cold, and hard. "It's all the same structure. Life never gets better on the lower rungs, not even for those of us who have a chance of bringing hope to the masses."
    Leo spoke questioningly, "Did you ever consider why Raptus, or Spider, ever wanted to gain control? We know absolutely nothing about who they are, or why they make us fight. The only logical conclusion is that they want the same power as Marquese, the same power the Institute wields. And from what we do know about the Partition leaders... what do you think might happen, should Spider suddenly accede to the Director's chair?"
    "No."
    With a firm voice, and some of the old vibrance to his speech, Leo stood before Ina, searching her again with his flickering eyes, the reddish scar along his mouth fully visible. Speaking to Sy, but directing his focus towards the entire battleground, Leo stated, "We have another alternative. We do not need to be subsumed by the system. We must not be, and we will not be."
    Sy realised just how right Leo was - he'd seen what had taken EXODUS' intervention for Sy to understand. He wished that he could agree with Leo here verbally, but he had to keep his involvement with them under wraps. Perhaps, though...
    "You have no idea how much I want to agree with you here, but I can't do so in front of everyone else. There is a lot I can tell you, and potentially some very powerful people to meet... we might just do exactly what you're asking. I can't explain fully now, but they're different. More effective, more secretive... and what they can tell you will change how you see this city. But not now. If we can just take down this data center and get away, I can show you. If not, Wolff might finally have his excuse to set his dogs on us."
    All of this Sy sent neurally on a secure line to Leo.
    "We can't just back down now Leo, whatever any of us believe. Just help us now and we can solve this after." He said, using his voice as normal, his tone desperate.
    Ina finally returned Leo's glance, clearly considering something about him. After a short moment, she spoke directly to him, "There is a way this fight can end without anyone dying." Leo, having been beside her for several months, would likely recognize that she was referring to her nanobots. Her eyes shifted back to focus primarily on Wyatt like a cat stalking it's prey.
    Ping. A message. From Sy. Thinking quickly, Leo composed a reply: I'm no friend to the Institute anymore. What the hell.
    I can't promise I'll come back with you, whether this operation succeeds or not. But if what you say is true, maybe there is some hope left after all.

    From what Ina had said, it appeared she was planning to take over the minds of some fighters. Leo blandly told her in return, "Oh, I'm sure. It's just that we're going to do this a different way."
    "It's going that way, whether you fight it or not," Ina replied quickly.
    Jerana eyed both her colleagues and enemies warily, unsure about how to make a next move. She brandished her pistol while spinning a knife with her left index finger, eyeing Ina curiously. "I'm afraid I prefer this fight to end with bloodshed..." she said, while nonchalantly firing a shot at Dan.
    Dan watched the shot fly past him. "You're going to need to focus a little more if you want to hit me." Dan commented. "You see, all of you don't know what you're doing. INA was brought up in war, while essentially still a child,Syderis is convinced that with the Partition in power the world would be perfect, Wyatt can't even remember why he does anything, and Leo thinks we could form our own side. I accepted a long time ago that you had to pick a side. That bringing down our only governing power would not create utopia. I learnt the right thing to do from Elin and Tito. Work with the Institute, climb the ranks, and try to convince the higher powers to better our world from there. With them out of action I have to take on the job myself. Who did you learn the right thing from, Syderis? I was going to shoot an electro-pulse from afar, but all this bullshit has pissed me off, Syderis, Leo." He dropped down, his weapon becoming a rough replicate of the weapon Leo had attacked him with the first time they met. "Times change Leo, if you're going to fight me, why not like the good old days?" The last three words were laced with sarcasm.
    "Please, use high explosives." Sy said dryly. "Save us the bother of blowing this place to shit. Your brain seems to be working poorly enough to do something as dumb as that, what with the shit you're spouting. I never said the Partition would be perfect, but it'll be a damn sight better. We have our share of regrettable allies but we're propped up by the people, disillusioned by the Institute's horrific mistreatment of their citizens. That means that if the Partition were to try to become like the Institute, they'd lose most of their power, and we'd take them down and make our own government. Spider isn't that dim."
    Sy swung his long barrel around an overturned desk that he'd taken for cover, aiming straight for Dan once more as he pulled the trigger after barely a moment's hesitation.
    Ping. Leo sent a note to Syderis: The Institute is stone-silent. I volunteer as tribute - give me anything you've got to eradicate that data center. Keep these fools busy: I just need a few minutes' head-start, then you can take Wyatt and get the hell out of dodge.
    "They probably cut you off," Sy responded, "as to the rest you said, the explosives are in my bag, come over here as safely as I can and you can have them. I hope you know what you're doing."

    "I don't want to fight you, Dan. I don't think Lieutenant Graves would be pleased. But if you plan on blowing us to high heaven, I'm not going to take any chances." Slightly more composed, Leo turned quickly to fire at Dan, hoping to incapacitate him. Ina didn't seem trigger-happy just now, but he was keeping her in his peripheral vision. The shot flew wide.
    "Don't mention Tito you bitch. But if you don't want to fight me then try staying out of the fucking fight." Dan turned to Wyatt, his electronic scans were all over the place, a bit like a more confusing INA. He didn't know what it meant, but it was worrying. "If you'll stay out of it Leo, I guess I'll beat some sense into Wyatt here. Oh, and Syderis, why do you think the areas of the Undercity controlled by Institute drones have better lives?" A machine gun formed in his hand as he began to run towards Wyatt.
     
  5. sgbros1

    sgbros1 New Member

    "As if you actually know what it's like in the Undercity. What the Institute thinks it gives people in terms of security, it viciously takes from their freedom. Unless they're confident that they can take on a lone agent or drone patrol, nobody can truly say anything without having to watch that they don't speak out against the Institute. Just a slight insult to the wrong ears can spell them getting investigated for dissent. It adds up to them being less safe, in the end. That's not an end I ever want." Sy responded, shouting from behind cover.
    After hearing INA complain about software he apparently installed on her Wyatt had a private conversation with his AI about it, wanting to know what software INA was talking about.
    The AI decided that the best course of action would be to tell about the malware it planted inside INA while helping her and why it did so, not telling about the malware that failed. Obviously, Wyatt had mixed feelings about the malware, he was surprised that the AI was able to think like ahead like that while at the same time he felt bad for INA and wished the AI didn't do it and that was not only because it caused more problems.
    This surprise did leave Wyatt not sure what to do but this quickly became clear after the same brainwashed guy that moments ago almost blew everything up with an RPG started to run towards him with a machine gun. Because Wyatt's shield was still active Wyatt felt reasonably safe running towards Dan with his knife, hoping to be able to get him to surrender before his shield would become inactive or at the very least before he would launch an RPG for real or something equally stupid. After that he would look at how to deal with the rightfully so angry INA.
    While Wyatt was running he also stored more energy in the capacitors, as though he didn't like making the AI too strong after hearing about the malware he was well aware that he could very well regret not doing so if things went sour. Dan effortlessly dodged the attack.
    As Wyatt ran up to Dan, Ina's laser finished charging and she fired it on his shield wordlessly. The shot splashed against the shield, though it remained active.
    Jerana noticed Ina firing her laser and charged towards her. Jerana then disabled Ina.
    Sy fired off another desperate shot at the bastard wielding the RPG.
    Leo fired off another shot toward Dan, miffed that he would think of Tito in that way. Then, he weaved between the crossfire and snatched the bag of explosives from Sy's hands. He fastened it to his belt, gave him a quick, solid pat on the shoulder, and then dashed away towards the Institute's data center, not daring to look back.
    A message crackled into the ears of Dan and Ina. Marquese's voice was unmistakable. "New orders. With Cinder's treachery, it's no longer a secure position. We have word of Wolff and the Dogs roaming the battlefield too, and I don't want you getting pounced. Withdraw to location Delta 5-079 and be ready to reinforce other squads if needed. Do not oppose Cinder. I repeat, do not oppose him."
    "Sir! Cinder is heading for the data centre with high explosives, seeking emergency permission to re-engage!"
    "Permission denied. Tuite, you will follow your orders."
    Dan looked on with terror as Leo ran off into the distance. He shouted after him, "Wolff and his dogs are around Leo! I doubt they'll give you time to explain yourself before they kill you!" With one last desperate look over hIs shoulder, Dan signalled at INA to follow and began to retreat to the indicated position. "Retreating now. Data Centre is at serious risk, sir, so unless the situation is far worse than expected I would like to request backup." Dan sent as he headed to the backup position.
    Ina watched with a great deal of anger as Leo took his mad dash into the data center. After everything they'd been through, he had betrayed her in such a massive way....it was unforgivable. All he had to do was move as she told him to move and act as she told him to act. It was a simple, tactical calculation, with chances of success being so high as to render failure nearly impossible. And yet he failed. Like a chess piece that suddenly turned to oppose it's queen.
    Ina nodded back as Dan signaled the retreat and boosted away with the thrusters. Revenge was best planned, not rushed. She'd get it, and when she did, he'll wish he'd not have made that mistake.
    "They're backing off." Sy said, sending a similar message to command as well, as he watched the Institute members leave. "Wyatt, Jerana, let's go! Follow Leo!" He called out to his squad mates, running after Cinder towards the Institute's heart. To save breath, he sent a message to Leo, reading "that arsehole was right. Wolff nearly offed the squad when you and Ina left, he'll be out for your blood until this is done. For now, you have to avoid him as best you can."
    "Ok" Wyatt replied to Syderis and he as well started to run after Leo. Wyatt was surprised,though not unhappy to see that they were backing off, sure with the betrayal of Leo it wasn't exactly going as planned for them but so far they haven't been able to cause much damage. It also hopefully gave him more time to think what to do about INA, though this was perhaps also a bad thing as he had no idea how long the capacitors could hold the charge which meant that if they had to reengage he may need to start at zero with those, which was probably not the best thing to happen right now.
    Jerana ran after the gang, adrenaline still flowing through her veins. She was still in a buzz after she had successfully disabled an enemy, albeit not for long. At last, after that failed operation so many months ago, success was just at her grasp.
     
  6. RJS

    RJS New Member

    [POINT DELTA 0-579]
    Dan and Ina arrived to find the designated location a bloodbath. Partially dismembered corpses of Institute soldiers lay scattered all around the small plaza that had been chosen as a site of mobile reserves. It seems the attackers had blown through like a hurricane, eviscerating the troops in mere seconds. A small distress transponder was blinking in the midst of some crates - activating and hiding it was most likely all that the defenders could have managed.

    Their eyes were drawn away from the scene of the slaughter by the high-pitched whine of a floatcar coming into position above the plaza. As they peered up, the doors opened and a figure leapt through, hitting the ground with a sickening crash and kicking up small fragments of stone, dust and other debris. As the cloud cleared, they could see that whoever had leapt from the car appeared to be unharmed, dusting themselves off casually. The figure turned and moved closer, with the dust clearing enough to reveal the face of Corporal DuVares. Her appearance was much the same as before - the large bulk of the experimental tech still jutting out above her shoulder, though metal exo-bracing covered her legs, and her movements were accompanied by a quiet whine of the motors.

    "You did well to arrive here so quickly," she said as she approached. "It seems that there's more to this assault than we thought at first - apparently Spider added a secondary target onto this main assault. It just so happens that its right behind this point. They are targeting the Broadcasting Control Centre, presumably with the intention of sabotaging it or broadcasting their message across the city. Our orders are to move to neutralise enemy presence at the objective and hold it against any reinforcements." She looked at the carnage in the plaza with a slight curl of disgust in her mouth. "Seems the enemy aren't taking prisoners. Don't take needless risks here." She turned and headed off towards the target, the spire of the communications mast towering high above the surrounding buildings.

    [THE DATA CENTRE]
    Their route to the data centre seemed unusually clear - though the sounds of fighting raged around them, they never once encountered any other forces from either side. Soon the building itself was within sight, the shining chrome walls only marred by the doors hanging broken from the doorway. It seemed as though they had been forced outwards, and the plethora of small items left strewn around the servers seemed to indicate that the evacuation had occurred with no small degree of haste. The servers themselves continued their soft beeping, lights flickering down the long rows of server stacks. The nerve hub of the Institute itself was laid out at their feet, and the bomb that they needed to gut it was resting heavily against Leo's back.
     
  7. Eruantien

    Eruantien New Member

    I'm sorry my actions had dire consequences for the rest of you, but I did what I had to in order to survive another day. Just like what I'm doing now.
    Leo sent a quick reply back to Sy as he tore through the deserted halls of the Institute. He felt a tiny boost of reassurance, knowing that the others were behind him, backing him up.
    But he also felt a pang, since their actions now might backfire terribly upon themselves. This was supposed to have been a solitary mission, to allow Sy, Wyatt and the new girl to escape danger, while throwing himself into the teeth of the machine. Seems the universe planned otherwise.

    Leo adjusted the bomb against his back, and continued to follow the wrecked floor signs and half-dimmed indicator lights to his destination, keeping ahead of the Partitioners.


    Even though he'd turned against the Institute, Dan still seemed as if he'd wanted Leo not to die, not like this. Leo didn't know what Ina thought of him, nor did he care right now. Assumedly, it was intense loathing. Mentally shrugging, Leo ran on.
     
  8. the_j485

    the_j485 King of the Wicked

    Even during his time working for the, Sy had never seen this section of the Institute. Server units sprawled all around the squad as they entered the building, and one could hear the soft sounds of whirring and beeping as they processed all of the Institute's data needs. A whole city, its entire activity reduced to a single room.
    Sy heard the bleep of new message, from Leo again. "I understand," he sent back, "we'll find a way to get you out of this. Call you a double agent, claim you were coerced, something like that."
    Looking around, Sy felt something in the back of his mind. Like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop...
    "Wait." He called out to the others around him, "this isn't right. They wouldn't just let us walk in and take out their entire data system. There has to be some sort of countermeasure. We should search the room first before we set to this. Quickly."
    That said, Sy began moving along the rows of servers. He kept his coilgun ready as he checked along the units for any signs of bombs, EMP devices, or even hidden adversaries. Judging from the size of the room and the number of operatives they had here, it wouldn't take longer than ten minutes. It was impressive how little space such massively powerful servers required.
     
  9. sgbros1

    sgbros1 New Member

    The lack of adversaries at the data center unnerved Jerana. It was not of the Institute not to keep tabs on everything happening under their watch. Or...?

    "Guys, I say we blow this shit up now, " Jerana called to her colleagues, "reinforcements are probably on their way. We should go before they after us."
     
  10. lenscas

    lenscas Over-Achiever

    "If that guy was right then surely you can find here what you seek?" The AI said to Wyatt once they reached the servers. "All it takes is one simple port to plug into and you have exactly what you want."
    Wyatt knew the AI was probably right, even if what he wanted to know was not in this datacenter , it probably was connected to others that have it. However, he was hesitant to plug the AI in the servers knowing what it did to INA.

    "And how do I know you don't screw things up? The earlier this is over the better." Wyatt said in response
    "It was to protect you!" the AI replied "Besides, this thing is getting blown up anyway. What can I possible do that matters? If anything me destroying data would be a good thing."

    Once again, the AI had a point and weren't it for the fact that Jerana's message came in at this point Wyatt probably would have looked for an use able port and plug the AI in. However, Jerana was right, the earlier this was over the better, yet the AI kept going on "Why are you so sure that they don't have backup's? For all you know nothing gets destroyed by blowing it up. Now instead calculate how much damage custom malware would do, not only to the datacenter but also to all systems connected to it."

    "Backups!" Wyatt thought by himself. "That was why the path was so easy and the only ones they had to fight had to flee, they probably just had to distract us long enough to get the data somewhere safe."
    Wyatt quickly send a message to the others: "I fear that us blowing it up won't do much, they probably have the data copied to somewhere else. Either that or Jerana is right and we should get out sooner rather then later."
     
  11. LivingAngryCheese

    LivingAngryCheese Over-Achiever

    Dan looked around at the carnage, a little shocked, and a little sad. It had been a while since he had been given such a visual reminder of the Partition's savagery. Or Guntram's. The thought flashed in his mind, but he dismissed it. It was important to focus on the task at hand. He was even more surprised when Elin came crashing down in a floatcar, seemingly unharmed. She had been recovering well but... oh. She's wearing exo-bracing. She was so close to making a recovery as well. Hearing what she had said, a thought popped into his mind. She's the one who needs to avoid needless risks. Well, I guess it wasn't needless, but I don't want to lose another... never mind, I'm losing focus. He dismissed the thought, and his face grew determined. He had become good at dismissing thoughts. Doubt, and more importantly, the pain of the past only got in the way of the task at hand. Save the city. He followed Corporal DuVares. He had trust in Marquese and DuVares, but he still had to ask: "Is there any protection at the data centre? I understand the importance of this and why we were called here, but surely the data centre is also of high importance?"
     
  12. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    Ina glared at the vile scene around her as she arrived. This was all that moron's fault, with his misguided ideals and meaningless sentiment for his old team. Only one thing mattered, and that was that one side obliterated the other completely. Beyond repair. The moment he had switched to the weaker faction was the moment he had doomed himself to a miserable life or death, and now that she'd calmed down, she resolved herself to do him a mercy and give him a quick death. After all, he had helped her find a bit of humanity, if only marginally. No sense in making him suffer.

    As Corporal DuVares landed, Ina couldn't help but feel a little relieved. It was good to have another ally in all this mess. Following behind them, Ina gave out a small status report. "We were attacked by a group of 3: Wyatt, using shielding technology, Syderis, using standard sniping tactics, and an unidentified young woman, who appears to be their scout. Early into the battle, Cinder turned traitor and attacked us." Ina's resentment showed through a little in these last words. "I believe they're planning on destroying the data center with a bomb. If the entrances could be sealed, we could stall to keep them from retreating to a safe distance for detonation." She made a sighing sound, even though no air came out of her 'mouth'. "It's a terrible plan, but it's the best one I can think of."
     
  13. RJS

    RJS New Member

    [THE BROADCASTING TOWER]
    En route to the broadcasting tower, DuVares had to suppress a smirk at INA's question. "You honestly think Marquese would let them walk in there if he thought they stood a chance at leaving alive? We've known that to be the focus of their attack today for about a month or so - anybody walking into that room is walking into familiar territory." Her face settled back into a serious expression. "It's our location we have to be wary of. We knew nothing about this, and from what we've seen so far I guess that we're facing the most dangerous opponents possible. My guess is a squad of the Dogs has been sent to deal with this one." She paused outside the doors. "Be on your guard at all times. You have authorisation to shoot on sight. Don't even think about live capture." Nodding briefly at them, she slowly eased the doors open and slipped in, leaving Dan and Ina to follow.

    The tower was eerily quiet, though the reason for that was apparent. More bodies and blood lay scattered through the halls as they slowly worked their way up the empty halls. There was no sign of life at all in any of the rooms they checked, and before long they found themselves on the top floor, advancing on the closed door to the broadcast control room. DuVares motioned the two of them to either side of the door, before carefully trying the handle. The door refused to budge, and sounds of movement came from within. Swearing, she wasted no time in blasting through the lock with a burst of fire and kicking the door open to reveal a group of three hooded figures. From the right arm of one, a large claw dangled. A second had arms that seemed to bend oddly, and electrical antennae sprouted from the head of the third. The second one looked at Dan with a mocking smirk. "Well well well, look at this. The brat's still alive. How's that kill-list working out for you?" The three of them darted forwards, not waiting for a response.

    [THE DATA CENTRE]
    The discord between the various members, each with their own opinion on what should be done, lasted only moments. However, to those with sufficient experience, those moments can prove to be ideal. As Sy weaved through the server stacks, he was briefly out of sight of the other three. Unseen by him, a shadow stepped from behind a bank and took aim at his back.

    The first the others knew of the enemy presence was the sound of the gunshot that slammed into Sy's right shoulder, knocking him to the ground. They found him lying there, with no sign of his assailant whatsoever. As they began the search, metal shutters slammed down at all the entrances - entrances that they were now too far away to reach in time. Footsteps now rang out, moving steadily closer. "I believe with that, we're even, Velos." rang out a voice that was unfamiliar to Wyatt and Jerana, but all too well known to the others. "We've both shot the other in the shoulder when they weren't expecting it." Marquese appeared from around the corner, stun baton and pistol already in hand. Behind him strode another figure, carrying a curved longsword. The most striking detail of this individual however, was the vibrant pink of her close-cropped hair. "Now then, I expect you're wanting to plant that bomb you have. I don't want you to plant it - little philosophical difference there, don't you think? It's like one of those conundrums, except it's real easy to solve. I'm sure you're all smart enough - hell, three of you have worked for the Institute for a certain amount of time, which would make me proud if you weren't such a pain in my ass. So then, let's see your little solution."
     
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  14. the_j485

    the_j485 King of the Wicked

    With a pained look on his face, Leo turned to face Marquese fully. "What happens if we surrender the bomb? Will that change our fates, now that you've cornered us? Will it change the fates of any in this godforsaken citadel?"
    "I never took you for a believer in fate, Cinder. The future that people have in this city will be theirs to decide soon enough, once your uprising is dealt with. After all, what you're trying to do is take people who just want to get on with their lives and turn them into soldiers. The big swell in public support. It won't happen. There is only one case where I think fate has a role to play, and that's you and your uprising. You were all fated to fail." Marquese leant nonchalantly on the nearest server. "Did you ever stop to think why you found yourselves mired in difficulties? Why I let one of the most prolific killers out of custody in exchange for someone who was more of a symbol than anything useful? Why, when you chose to start the open war, you did so in an overt manner, moving against us publicly? Why you found us waiting for you, at your entry points, and here? I must say, making this place look like it was emptied in a hurry took a bit of work. Why you, Cinder, never had one of Wolff's Dogs sneak in and murder you at night as revenge for your defection? Indeed, how Graves and I managed to find you faster than Wolff after your defection all the way down in the Undercity?" Marquese paused. "I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out the rest."
    Silently, and without giving off any body language besides aggression towards Marquese, Sy sent an encrypted message:
    "Our team is trapped. We're locked in a room with nowhere to run, and we're staring down Karl Marquese and Sayaka Guntram with nothing but our normal equipment and a bomb they'd have the time to defuse after killing us. I know we aren't very valuable to you, to the Partition... or anyone else, but if you help us, there is a high chance that Karl Marquese will die, and I'll make damn sure that you're the one who slits the bastard's throat. For our sake or our revenge, please, Natalya. Help us."
    "..."
    "We never had a chance, after all," Leo stated, softly. "All this time... all this time, this has been some great show, orchestrated by you, the mastermind. You wanted to crush our spirits, but you were unable to do so yet, and that's the reason we're standing here today." He paused, his mouth twitching. "And now... you've had enough. Our little rebellion is at an end, isn't it? After this, the people in this city will never again be able to raise their heads against the ones who really rule in this place."
    "But, maybe... maybe I was never in this for the people. It's a pity I have such a real martyr complex."
    Leo turned his body so that the bomb was hidden, and raised his weapon directly against Marquese. "I'm sick of all this philosophy. I'm sick of being a party to all these atrocities, said to be in the name of justice and peace. I thought I could escape, but fate kept drawing me back in." His fingers shook on the trigger. "If it weren't for the fact that I'm surely fated to miss, I'd fire this weapon this instant. Yes, fate; all of this, you wrote the story, you moved the pawns, you tied each of us up into nice little bundles and neatly chopped off our heads!"
    "There's no point to this anymore! There's no reason behind my actions! But I'm in so deep, there's no other way out but to charge forward and grab fate for myself! I'm not going to wait any longer!"

    Leo's hand was remarkably steady as he fired the first shot at the director, staring down the reticle of his weapon in cold fury.
    The bullet merely flattened itself against Marquese, who looked more amused than anything else. "Jesus, we wasted your talent when you were with us Cinder. Seems the propaganda team could have made some real use out of your talent for speeches. But I do think you give me too much credit here - I didn't create the Partition. That's all on Spider, and for all that you seem to think I'm a bastard, he's worse. The man got his kicks out of trying to advance implant tech as far as he could - figured young brains are more adaptable, see. Used to grab kids off the streets, stuff them full of experimental tech, see what happened. Unsurprisingly, most of us died. That's the reason I hunted him down, beat him near to death. That's the reason I will go to any length, give any order to stop him. Because if he gets his way, this city will be nothing but a big lab to him. Vitali Magnus - that's his real name by the way - doesn't want to destroy the Institute, he wants to run it. And you're all pawns in his game. He doesn't give two shits about the will of the people, he just knows that saying that will get him support.
    So tell me, all of you. What do you stand to gain from all this? What is it that you truly want, and why do you think Vitali 'Spider' Magnus will give it to you."
    He looked pointedly at the group. "Also, the next person who wants to try pulling a trigger will die. You know my name, you know my reputation - this is not a bluff."
    It was quite something, hearing this from Marquese. Sy had believed EXODUS when they told him about Spider's - or Vitali's - true goal. Marquese confirming it just made it all the more real, and it made him wonder - what was EXODUS doing, now? Did they have no stake in the battle here, when Karl Marquese was willingly opening himself up to them? When would they decide that Sy was no longer useful in the Partition, and allow him to stop the charade of him being a keen member of their ranks still?
    "He's telling the truth, the bastard." Sy messaged to Leo, before messaging all of the squad as a group with "any ideas? I don't like our chances here."
    "I've had my suspicions about Spider for the longest time, director," Leo replied. "But the misinformation on both factions was, and still is, much too great. Let's pose that I believe what you say about Spider, or, well, 'Vitali'. What does that change? I'm not a freedom fighter anymore. I'm in this to get control back over my life. What are you trying to get me to do?"
    "I don't give a shit whether you believe it or not. And what do you mean - "Get back control"? Since when did you have no control over your actions. You chose to join the Partition. You chose to follow orders there. You chose to change sides and follow mine. You then chose to grab a bomb and come here to blow it up. What did you honestly think that would accomplish? This place was being prepared for a possible bomb plant since before you knew it was the objective. Granted, Spider wrong-footed us a bit by ordering a second target at the last second, but we already have troops that should be there. So there's that.
    As for what I'm trying to get you to do, I would have thought some successfully returning operatives might get a chance to be near enough to Spider to have a shot at him, or at the least fire off a tracking ping when you're nearby. You let me know where the bastard is and I'll take care of the rest."

    Leo scoffed, but he appeared to be thinking. "If I'm given a 'choice' between life or death, which one do you suppose I'm going to choose!?" He waved his gun, took a step back and sat on a deactivated server machine. "I've never even seen Spider," Leo stated heavily, "But you seem to think it'll all be so easy... after all, it has been, hasn't it? Everything up to now."
    A message popped up in the Partitioners' HUDs. I don't know what the director plans after Spider's killed. All I know is that if Spider is as Marquese says, the city will only become worse, should Spider gain control of the Institute. What's even worse is that he's conditioned us into fighting against 'evil', and Marquese's explanation makes a hell of a lot of sense.
    "Tell us what's outside the city." The question was sudden. "You probably know already, but I was looking for that information these past months at the Institute. If we remove Spider from power, this conflict will cease. The city won't be perfect, but it will be without division again. Maybe from there, people can work to build a better life again. I don't know; that won't be my problem anymore. What I want is freedom."
    "...Outside the city? What do you mean?" Marquese looked genuinely confused. "Desolate wasteland. That's all that's ever been there. The meteorites dealt so much damage - maybe there are some shattered remnants of cities out there somewhere, but there's nothing else outside the walls. We were the only place to survive. Not sure why you want to know what we've known all along - is that really all that this was about?" Marquese paused. "I can guarantee you can get to meet Spider, but I can't tell you how right now. Not until I know you're in."
    His spirits sinking with each word, Leo didn't really have anything else to say just yet. Marquese either knew more than he was willing to give, or this whole idea of getting beyond the city walls truly was a waste of time. There could still be the potential, if anybody was feeling adventurous, to take a vehicle or two, supplies to last in the wilds, and enough gear to protect themselves for a time. It looked more promising than this city of strife. But... it was a fool's errand. Leo laughed internally. He was a fool. Spider was cruel, much more so than others in the Institute he had met; Leo knew that much if anything. This new plan could yet be a way to end his rancorous plans. There was essentially nothing to lose, either; the thought that the Institute might crack down on the city once the rebellion had been dealt with rose in his mind, but this seemed unfounded. Then, he remembered why he had originally entered the Partition, for a fleeting moment... and just as quickly dismissed it. That was in the past, and nothing could be done. He wasn't angry with the Institute for that reason any longer. Instead, he held more anger against Spider and his web of lies.
    He gestured to the Partitioners from where he sat, asking wordlessly if they wanted to bring up anything. Leo wasn't sure about the new girl, who had been hanging behind the others, but he thought Sy was open enough to the idea of a rebellion within the rebellion, based on his last message. Wyatt, he was unsure of; that AI of his didn't always seem the most moral of companions.
    "So, why would I rebel against Spider or anyone for that matter to help you? After all, it didn't exactly look like you were wanting to help me after I lost everything.
    I know that not joining will get most likely get me killed but as it is right now, what is the difference? Now, if you could tell me why no one of the Institute helped me to recover in all that time then maybe my decision changes."

    Marquese's face creased. "We thought you were dead. The explosion at the lab - you were the only one in there at the time, and we could find no trace of you, only a large amount of blood. Any attempt to send messages via the neural link failed, saying that destination node no longer existed. If we had known, we would be turning the city upside down looking for you, Dr Schroeder."
    "If you had known?" Jerana interjected, "so you didn't give enough of a shit to look for your fallen brethren?" She glared right at Marquese, "These human lives, just collateral damage to prevent the Institute from falling to Great Satan Vitali Spider Magnus? Never once considered the people who care for them? Not once, huh?"
    She seethed with fury, "You've killed just about anyone who got into your way. You've killed my parents for sympathising to the Partition cause. Aren't you all just like Spider, willing to take any precaution to root out all opposition so that you keep onto the throne?
    I'll be fucking frank with you. I never joined this shithole because I liked what they did. Nor do I want to become a martyr out of all of this. Only 3 reasons: food, shelter, and payback for you assholes who killed my parents. Now all 3 of those have been checked off, and I am damn well tempted to blow this shithole off and kill all of us in the process. At least my job here is done, and I get to rejoin my parents up there again.
    So what do you say?"

    "I killed your parents? You don't look old enough for me to have done that." His eyepiece whirred as he looked at her. "Jerana Meroth. Involved in an incident involving Institute droids. Two people confirmed dead, your parents. So, your parents decided to mess with the insides of robots equipped with lethal weaponry and you're surprised about what happened? I'm sorry for your loss, but those droids aren't toys. They should have known better."
    "And in answer to your next point, I don't give two shits about who sits on the throne. As long as the city continues to function. There is no way I am putting the last remnants of humanity into the hands of an amoral psychopath who doesn't give two shits about the lives of others. Yes, I kill people. I send people to their deaths. Every day I look good people in the eye and know it may be the last time I ever do so. I send people out to do dangerous things, and I always remember the responsibility of the lives I have taken, both myself and in sending people to their deaths. But that is a responsibility I accept. Since when did Spider give a shit about you? Since when did he come to look you in the eye and say "good job"? Since when did he come back and see you return and breath a sigh of relief that no matter how tits up your mission went, that you came back safe? Believe me, had I known Schroeder, or Wyatt I guess now, was alive I would have torn apart the city looking for him. The first we knew was when Ina re-encountered him, and he was fighting for the Partition. It was decided,"
    his face took on an ugly cast "that it posed too great a risk to try and re-establish contact with him."
    "Now, you say you don't want to be a martyr for your cause, yet here you are saying you want to blow yourself up? You achieved what you wanted? Great. Now find something else. I think we all agree too many people have died during this fighting already, and none of them are the people that deserved to. If you really want to stay here and sit on the bomb when it goes off, that's your choice, but you have more options than that."

    "Pshh, drones carrying lethal equipment? Nice cover story there," Jerana chided. "I've been working the entire eighteen years of my life on these drones, even longer in the case of my parents. Why would it take until now for them to get in touch with drones carrying lethal equipment, hell, why didn't they do that when I was just a thought in their minds?
    And no way you're gonna put what remains of humanity into some amoral psychopath? I hate to break it to ya, but it seems you are doing just that. You may care about your soldiers' well-being, but do you think the Director gives as much of a shit as you? Spider may be a piece of shit, but you're rooting for what amounts to the same piece of shit as him.
    Now, taking out one of the Institute's top military generals, ain't that a great idea? Won't the Director get so worried that the Partition just took out their finest tactician? Perhaps he could listen to the people to prevent more of his men from falling? Huh?"

    "Oh, it would be indeed. By all means, any of you who think that the best option is killing me, go ahead. We all make choices." Marquese's nonchalant lean, without him ever-shifting position, suddenly appeared to be that of a predator waiting to strike. "Of course, you might well not live through it."
    "Jerana, shut your mouth," Leo cut in abruptly. "We've all lost something in this place. I don't know your story, but from the sound of things, your parents were blind to danger. They're gone. So live with it."
    Wyatt, or 'Schroeder' as Marquese identified him, was oddly quiet. Sy hadn't spoken in some time. Heaving a sigh, Leo stood up again, his weapon cradled in his arms toward the floor.
    "Whatever our views toward the Institute, I think we can all agree on one truth. Spider is unfit to take up power in this city. I never wanted to go back to the Partition, but I don't see a better path ahead of us."
    "Also, I don't want to fight you guys."
    Leo looked at Sy and Wyatt with a pained expression. "I think I understand what your motives are... but maybe... maybe, we were wrong this whole time?"
    Leo took a step toward Marquese, turning his body so the bomb was between himself and the director. He began to unfasten it from its holdings, intending to hand it over if there would be no further discussion.
    "Leo..." Sy said, a pained expression on his face. This went against every fibre of his being, everything he'd been fighting for. Marquese was why he'd left the Institute, and he'd always wanted ever since leaving to finally see the bastard breathe his last. Now, they were handing victory right to him, and it felt so, so wrong.
    The worst part, however... was that it made sense. He knew already that Spider was not the man he appeared to be, and he'd only been acting as a member of Partition since finding out.
    "FUCK!" He shouted, kicking over a server bank in frustration. As its lights blinked out, he spoke, his voice broken and quiet.
    "Just... just do it, Leo. Give him the damn bomb."
    Jerana was still discontented. However, she wouldn't risk alienating the rest of her teammates and whatever's left of the Partition's faith in her. She glared right at Marquese and grunted, "Fine. You win this round. For now."
    Marquese smirked. "Weren't you listening? I don't want the bomb. You need to succeed in your objective to have a chance to get close to Spider." He held out what appeared to be a set of small buttons that looked as if they had fallen off a jacket. "Hide these on your person, then set the bomb. I'll open up the building so we can all get out alive. You report to Wolff and I imagine he'll deal with the rest. Once you're near to Spider, all it takes is one person to snap theirs in two, sending a signal straight to us. I'm not asking you to join the fighting, though I won't say no if you choose to."
    Leo paused. "Ah, of course. Not thinking clearly, yet." He put the bomb back in its holster, then reached forward to take a button, pinning it under a strap. "I want to see Spider taken down, myself; I can't say anything for what happens after that. For the record, Director, I cannot hope to surpass your strategies, but at least to assist in this one."
    Sy walked slowly over to Marquese, and snatched the button from his hand, before jamming it into his pocket and stepping back away.
    "Fuck it, I'll do this, but I'm going to see you fucking rot some day Marquese."
    "I'll be back to see you off to hell," was all Jerana said to Marquese before she grabbed a button and turned towards her teammates.
    Wyatt took his button in silence, stopping just before he grabbed his button and said to Marquese "I get that there is no time for it now, but I hope that after this is over you will tell me who I was." Wyatt then grabbed it and hid the button on him.
    The shutters that had sealed the room rolled back up as Marquese turned and began to walk away. "OK, I'll leave you to it. Carry on as if we never had this little talk, but don't forget when you see Spider. And don't do something stupid like blowing yourselves up before you get out." The two Institute personnel swiftly disappeared from sight.
    After a moment, Leo snapped back out of his thoughts. "No use holding back," he said flatly, once more withdrawing the bomb from its holster. "Where should this go?"
    Jerana turned back at where the two Institute personnel left, still visibly upset. "Up their fucking asses", she grunted.
    Sy smirked very slightly at Jerana's comment, but his expression returned to frustrated anger as he spoke.
    "Just stick it in the centre of the room, and let's get it over with. Everyone out, before Leo's done." He said, turning and moving towards the door they'd come through without another word.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2017
  15. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    Ina glared at the antennae as they brought up bad memories. No doubt every one of these people were ready to die before capture, and clearly they showed no regard for anyone else's life. Precisely the sort of thing that sickened her. Raising her arm she fired her laser at one of the quicker opponents. Her target swiftly ducked under the laser, dashing forwards with lethal speed. Ignoring Ina, he closed in on Dan instead. "Miss me?" he taunted, as his unusual arm sprung out to deliver a lightning fast blow to the side of his head. Dan's head rung from the impact of the weighted end. Elin swiftly swiveled to fire at his attacker, though the mantis-armed fighter danced out of their path, rejoining his companions. Elin's ability to continue was hampered by a vicious rush from the clawed individual, pinning her arms to her side with oppressive force. The third sent out an electrical pulse from his antennae, and all three felt their advanced systems shut down.

    Seeing the people that killed Tito again brought a pain far greater than the one on his head, the memories of all the times they had together and the knowledge of all that could have been were far more hurtful than any wound he had experienced before. There was one thing he was sure of. They must die. With his systems temporarily disabled, he brought his pistol up and shot at the clawed person holding Elin. The shot pinged off from him harmlessly - in fact, it seemed that the clawed attacker didn't even notice the shot.

    Surprised at the opponent's ability to evade her attack, Ina turned her focus on the clawed man pinning Elin and fired on him. The laser scorched through his skin, which seemed to be artificially hardened, leaving a small cauterized wound. The claw holding Elin opened, causing her to drop to the floor. It was at this point that both Dan and Ina could see that the the same electrical pulse that had interfered with their systems had also affected her exoskeletal legs. Any movement from her legs was now weak and sluggish, similar to when she had shifted herself from her wheelchair to an actual chair and back. The mantis-armed attacker darted back in again, aiming at Dan again. "Where's all that tough talk gone? Where are your threats? Is the fact that we killed your friend and took his body making you upset?" he taunted again as another vicious hammer blow swung in. This one lifted Dan clean off his feet and sent him flying across the room - damage sensors flickered on Dan's display as he vomited blood from damaged organs. His plight did not go unnoticed by Elin, who even as she lay immobile on the ground loaded a capsule into her rifle and fired it into his chest. Dan soon felt a warm glow as nanobots began repairing the damaged tissues. She smiled in relief, before her head was smashed into the ground by a blow of the heavy claw. Her smile remained unshaken by the hit, as she sat back up straight away, blinking slightly. A small static burst appeared in the corner of Ina's vision, before spreading across her entire visual feed. Targets jumped around her field of view at random.

    Seeing Elin on the floor helpless heightened his anger even more. "Sick bastards. I don't care what the Institute did to you, this isn't revenge. This isn't for the greater good. Maybe it once was, but now at least, you just enjoy it, don't you." His teeth grated as he said it. He then spoke to his comrades. "We may all die here, but fuck me if I'm turning and running. I'm not religious, but if there's a hell, I'll continue the fight there for you guys. I'm not going to talk tough and pretend this fight is in our favour, but for Tito, you guys and everyone out there, I'll fight until my last breath." The knives at his side unlocked, and he swapped them for his pistol. With a look of burning determination in his eyes, he dashed towards the antenna-using man and slashed at the antennae. The knife bounced off harmlessly. His target looked at him with scorn. "See, there's the problem. You don't care what was done to us. Nobody ever does. I don't suppose you have any idea what it's like to watch everyone you know and care about killed, and then find that nobody else cares - because you were poor, obscure, and their superiors had ordered it done. They tortured my children. Made me watch, as she cut them to ribbons slowly in my house. I can still hear their screams when I try to sleep - 8 years of that. But you don't care. None of them did. So fuck them, fuck you, and fuck her. I don't give two shits what comes from this war, so long as you aren't in control. I'd rather burn the whole city and everyone in it rather than let you have it! Everything I had, gone! Because they thought I knew something about the Partition! I didn't, but I made sure I did afterwards. So insult me all you want, but you made me what I am. I risked my life undergoing experimental augmentation because it was my only shot at changing things. Because once I change this broken world, maybe I won't hear them scream any more."

    Ina couldn't help but feel a bit of pity at the story, but she forced it down. Now wasn't the time for pity, and she wouldn't succumb to this mental warfare. This man was beyond hope. She tried her hardest to home in on the clawed opponent's target and fire on him, despite the system glitch. The laser struck home, scorching through his abdomen and leaving another gaping wound. Dan swiftly found himself face to face with the mantis-armed attacker, whose smirk had twisted even wider. "Daniel Tuite, formerly known as Weave. Duped by Spider, arrested by the Institute, but given a chance because your parents' were important enough. Your friend thought quite highly of you. You pride yourself on your electronic warfare skills, to the detriment of your own physical abilities. In spite of that, Deep Threat ran rings around you, and would have escaped freely were it not for the incompetence of one of our squads. In spite of how much of a colossal fuckup you've been - manipulated, seduced, humiliated - you still hold yourself in a position to talk down to people because you think your position automatically makes you a better person than them. In short, you're an arrogant sunovabitch who thinks he knows what's best for everyone and that," another colossal blow left Dan retching and gasping as his vision swam, "is exactly the sort of shit we don't need." He was forced to step away from Dan by a hail of bullets that flew wide, Elin muttering a faint curse under her breath. The clawed assailant paused, as the clothing on their back stretched, bulged, then tore, revealing large metal plates unfolding and curling around his body. These curved around to produce a cocoon of sorts, completely blocking him from view. Meanwhile, the antenna wielder jolted faintly, before appearing to recover. Their eyes however, seemed oddly distant, whilst those of the mantis wielder seemed sharper than ever.

    "I'm not sure you quite understand my motivation. My family had fuck all reputation, they destroyed it as the colossal fuckups they are, I guess I take after them more than I like to admit. The Institute took me on as it was smart to fix holes in their firewall design, that's all. I've come to realise that I'm not special. But my own incompetence has never haunted me. Even the death of my best friend, the one you killed and can laugh about it now; that makes me sad, the memories of and the thoughts of what could've been hurt worse than these blows that are making me cough up blood. But what really plagues me, what destroys me deep down is the screams of those I've killed. I want to change the Institute. Create a fair world for all as we rebuild. We had two choices. Elin and I chose to climb the ranks and change the Institute from the inside, and now you attack someone who fights for the same cause as you and can barely retaliate. The other option is the one you took. The fast option, sure, but you have to tear down our entire society and kill tens, if not hundreds of innocent men to achieve your goal. I tried, and here, it seems I may have failed. But hell, at least I didn't leave streets and rooms full of bodies. Hate me, kill me even. But please, don't end the lives of hundreds more men and women. I guess it's time to make my last stand like all the people you killed did." With this last word he took the familiar route into INA's systems. With a cry he formed a light-created shell around himself where the arms sharpened into blades. From the outside he now seemed like a strange glass-like hulking form, glowing blue.

    Ina rolled her 'eyes' as best they could roll. All the self-justification for murder was just sick. "Don't bother with them, Dan. You have nothing you need to prove to mass murderers who will soon be dead." She glared specifically at the antenna wielder. "And they're clearly beyond mercy." Having her systems copied was really darn annoying, but all things considered, it was probably best that he did. Ina bolted up to Dan and injected him with a heaping dose of nanobots. The static that had plagued her vision began to clear.

    Dan's primary antagonist looked askew at Dan's new form, down at his arm, then back at Dan. Dashing in rapidly, he sidestepped at the last minute, lashing out at Ina instead. With Ina's physical defence systems left unpowered, the blow smashed in brutally. Ina was lifted off her feet, smashing into the far wall with sufficient force to leave a dent in the polished metal before hitting the floor heavily. Seeing this, Elin paused, before taking a decision. The matrix beneath her skin flared brighter and brighter as the nodes activated. With Elin suppressing a grunt of pain, the matrix spread out, protecting Dan and Ina, whilst leaving a networked pattern of scorch marks on the surface of Elin's skin. The shell around the claw-wielder began to hum with electrical energy, arcs dancing across the surface. The eyes of the antenna wielder seemed to become even more unfocused, as if they could no longer see the world around them.

    Dan couldn't help but wonder what was wrong with the antenna wielder... was he having flashbacks? If he was unable to fight he could certainly be spared at least. With a glance of pity at him that nobody else could see, because of his concern about INA and Elin, he turned his attention away. "INA! Respec for defence! Nobody knows how to perfectly repair you, so make sure to value your life! And guys, ignore the antenna guy, there's clearly something wrong with him, and if he's not a threat he's not a problem!" he shouted out, the case around him creating a strange echo. He turned to the worrying readings from the claw-wielder. He lifted his heavy feet making as quick progress towards him as possible, then stabbed forwards at him with his pointed arm. The arm punched through, eliciting a grunt of pain. Dan's moment of triumph was short-lived however, as the electricity that had been crackling over the plates arced through him instead scorching and burning. The plates retracted back into the claw-wielder's back, revealing the figure within. It seemed that some of the damage dealt by Ina had been healed, with the initial shot throw the shoulder merely a red welt now. However, he was now bleeding from a wound that Dan had inflicted.

    Ina's shell sparked from the vicious attack. Darn he was observant. If it weren't for the danger of the other two, she would ensure her targeting systems could home in and hit him, but no, she'd have to ignore him for now. Taking Dan's advice, Ina adjusted her power flow, focusing on her physical shell's defenses. The mantis wielder chuckled ominously. "Seems like I got you both a little scared, huh? It's ok. I won't hurt you." His gaze flicked to the third member of their team. "Her however..." Elin took the blow clean to the face, blood spurting from a broken nose. Even as she stepped back, her rifle came up, filling the air with lead. Once more however, air was all they hit. "I don't think what's going on is as straightforwards as a malfunction here, Tuite!" she called as the sharpness in the mantis wielder's eyes decreased and the antenna wielder's came back into focus. Anything further she might have said was cut off as the claw once more gripped her tightly. As the claw closed in, the antenna wielder seemed to regain all focus, antennae buzzing ominously. Once again, Dan and Ina felt their advanced systems shutting down - Elin however remained standing and seemingly fully functional.

    Shit, he had been boosting his accuracy somehow, and now they're attacking Elin. "Elin, protect yourself!" he shouted. "Don't hurt yourself any more protecting us!" He swung his spiked arm at the claw-wielder again, trying to force him to drop Elin. His attack missed as his target sidestepped, Elin's legs dragging along the floor as she was pulled along with him.

    Ina made another attack of her own against the claw guy. The shot seared through the shoulder, causing the claw to jerk open and release Elin. As she regained her balance, another heavy blow cracked against her as the mantis-wielder snapped in. The blow struck with savage force, knocking her to the ground. As she lay on the ground, her hands were already moving, grabbing a vial of nanobots and sticking it into her arm. She staggered to her feet as the bots began to work. The claw wielder once again encased himself in his metal shell, hiding away from sight. Once more, the antenna wielder seemed to lose focus, and a sheen appeared around the outside of the shell.

    "Not this time, bastard." Dan said, and swung his heavy arm round to stab the antenna wielder. The blow hit home heavily, the antenna wielder doubling over in pain.

    Ina ran up to the enclosed claw user and attempted to pry it open enough to fire the laser inside. It failed to penetrate the defenses of the shell, reflecting off and being absorbed by the wall. Even as Elin prepared to add her bullets to the attempt, the mantis wielder continued to frustrate her at every turn, striking again at her. She staggered as the blow struck against her ribs. Snapping her rifle round to return fire, she thought better of it, pivoting to shoot at the shell, though again they pinged off harmlessly. The shell once more began to crackle with electrical arcs, sizzling with energy. The antenna wielder spat viciously at Dan, staggering backwards as Dan's vision began to blur and swim.

    "You are this determined to fight until your death. There is no hope for you to stop killing people is there? Well, goodbye. The pain can stop when you die." Dan attempted to focus on the antenna wielder and stabbed in his direction. His blurred vision meant the attack missed, thrusting to the side of his intended target.

    Ina turned her focus away from the claw guy and joined Dan in attacking the support unit. The laser lanced through his ankle, causing him to stumble. Meanwhile, the assault by the mantis wielder on Elin continued apace, though she seemed unharmed by the latest blow and continued to fire on the carapace around the claw wielder. The bullets pinged off the carapace, which began to crackle faster and faster, before emitting a searing electrical pulse across the battlefield. Both Dan and Ina were affected, Dan's advanced firewall protecting him from the damage he would have suffered otherwise. The carapace retracted once more to reveal the claw wielder, healthier than before. As Dan was distracted by this turn of events, his opponent released another electrical pulse directly at him. His firewall was too weakened to sustain against the damage and Dan felt his insides burn as the implants took damage.

    Dan gasped in pain. Even with healing repeated exposure to pain can wreak its toll on someone. Sweating and angry, he swung his spiked arm at the antenna wielder again. His hit was blocked, bounding off his target with no sign of damage. Ina added her own laser fire towards the support, intent on focusing him down. A heavy burn was inflicted, searing through the antenna wielder. Elin came under heavy assault from a veritable barrage of blows, though she once again came out unscathed, shots searing across the claw wielder to little effect. His return move was to, for the third time this battle, grab Elin, crushing her arms to her side. The antenna wielder's sight began to unfocus once more.

    "INA, deal with this guy." Dan said, gesturing with a heavy arm towards the antenna wielder. He then stomped towards the claw user and stabbed at him. His attack missed, flying wide of the mark. Following the order (of her superior?), Ina continued to attack the support. The laser seared in once more, burning into the support. As Elin was held, she had no way to evade the mantis wielder's attack, which struck in with a sickening crunch against the side of her head, leaving her stunned and dazed. The claw began to tighten, and electrical energy began to crackle over the surface as her defence matrix deactivated, ending its protection of all three of them. The antenna wielder targeted Ina again, her optics beginning to blur once more.

    Dan once again stabbed at the claw wielder. His attack once again missed. Ina now found it extremely hard to focus on her target, but tried her hardest to push through and fire anyway. The laser seared into his flesh, inflicting yet more harm. Elin was still held tightly in the claws when the next blow struck in with crushing force from the clubbed arms of her attacker. She tried to wrestle her rifle to shoot at the claw wielder, but the bullets pinged off to no effect. The claw began to glow brighter as it crushed tighter, beginning to buckle her armour. The antenna wielder gathered electrical energy around his head, his eye's refocusing, before firing another pulse, this time at Ina. The energy tore through her systems, and warning lights began to blink warning her of critical damage.

    Looking back and forth between INA and Elin, Dan panicked a little, and swung at the claw wielder. In his panic, the attack swung wide. Ina looked around frantically, twitching from the electrical surge. This was looking hopeless, and the urge to run and fight another day was immense. Still, she pushed through and worked up the courage to at least stall a little while longer. The nanobots began to repair her shell at an astonishing speed, though several warning lights began flashing reminders that power was running dangerously low. The mantis wielder looked at her threateningly, but delivered another hit to Elin instead, her head snapping back from the blow. Even as she began to swing her head back forwards, she injected another vial of nanobot serum, the contents rapidly repairing much of her damage even as the claw continued to tighten. The antenna wielder continued to stagger, though he managed to send a disruptive pulse towards Elin.

    Dan was becoming increasingly frustrated, and swung at the claw wielder again. While he did so, Ina continued firing on the support. Dan's attack swung wide, whilst Ina's struck dead on. The antenna-wielder's eyes unfocused, but this time for good as he collapsed to the floor choking out his last breaths. The mantis wielder chuckled. "Aww man, Fatty's down. Guess I was wrong, wasn't a heart attack after all. Remind me I owe you 20!" he called to his remaining teammate as he viciously clubbed Elin once more. Elin, head ringing, managed to choke out a few words. "Initialising IN-OCX Experimental Neural Overclocker module. Clock speed max. Thermal safety overrides disable. Initialise Projectile Velocity Acceleration."

    Two cables snaked their way down her arm, socketing into her rifle as the fan on her back roared into life. "Complete system bridge in 3, 2, 1, 0." A slight gurgling could be heard from within the confines of the machinery. Elin's damage seemed to fade from her face as her rifle snapped up firing two distinct bursts into the claw wielder. A pattern of red splashes emerged following both shots as the claw gaped open. Though she was freed from the grip, the damage to her armour remained. The claw's two halves swiveled round and fanned out, giving the appearance of an overly large crossbow. He raised it at Ina and a large blast emanated from the centre. With no power directed to her mobility cores, Ina was unable to avoid the huge electrical blast and took significant damage.

    Dan was relieved when Elin broke free of the claw, despite the memory of what had happened last time she activated that machine, but his relief was short lived as INA was slammed back by a huge electrical blast. Dan let his frustration go, and focused. There was no way he was going to win this fight through frustration. He turned to the claw wielder, and stabbed at him again. Ina joined in on the attack with another laser bolt. Both attacks missed, leaving the claw wielder unharmed. Elin's overclocker was insufficient to enable her to dodge the lightning-fast blows of the mantis warrior who struck heavily against her again. Elin coughed out another gout of blood from the force of the hit. "Ina, Tuite, retreat from here." she slurred out, head ringing from the force of the blow. "We can't win this. Not any more. But I, at least, can stop them." Ripping off the sleeve of her jacket, she tapped a complicated sequence into the heavy bulk of the overclocker. "Automatic self-destruct armed." chirped robotic tones. "Initialising thermogenic detonation." Elin turned back to their opponents with a grim look in her eyes. "You don't get to leave here alive." she said, staring directly at them. The claw wielder tried to snatch hold of her, but she danced aside. "What do you think you're doing, you crazy bitch?" he hissed. "You'll die as well as your little brats here."

    "Elin, no!" Dan cried, but as he took a step towards her, he saw the look of grim determination in her eyes. There was no way he could stop her. With a decision which caused him great pain, he sent Elin a final message that she would hear before she died. A voice message sent with a replication of his voice. "Thank you Elin, for everything. You have been a great friend to me, and someone who you now prove is a soldier willing to give up your life for the people, and for your fellow soldiers. I will continue what you started, and peacefully change the Institute for good in every way I can after this war is over. We will remember everything you did for us. Thank you for avenging him, too. Say hello to Tito for me. Goodbye, Elin." With that sent, he hacked into INA's systems, taking the familiar route, and diverted all energy to speed, taking off with inhuman agility, tears flying back as he ran.

    Ina immediately begin re-routing her power to thrusters the moment that ugly truth struck her. Part of her was glad these vile murderers were finally going to be cleansed from the gene-pool, but at what cost? She hadn't known Elin all that well, but of all the people working at the Institute, it was hard to find anyone speaking ill of her. Occasionally, Ina had overheard people calling her the "Institute Dove" when she wasn't looking; maybe because she disliked senseless killing, or maybe just because of her healing proficiency. Ina didn't really know. All she knew was that Elin was someone that really didn't deserve to die. Even more so than herself? No....she wouldn't indulge thoughts like that. The fact still remained: this was the second good person to accept death right in front of her. All because she was a "killer robot" that completely failed the one thing she was supposed to be good at. Maybe this was the result of spending too much time in her simulation wasting time playing the flute....

    "Thrusters stable." - The panel in her mental vision went green, indicating it was now safe to take off. If she had a tear duct, it might've shed a drop for Elin's sake, but such is the life of a girl shoved into a robotic shell that her face remained completely dry. With one last glimpse of Elin for her mind to remember into the future, she launched for the nearest exit, leaving a trail of wind in her wake.

    The pair flew down the steps at high speed, fleeing for their lives with no time to truly grieve. As they ran, they heard a muted boom from upstairs. There could be no mistaking where it had come from.

    Dan's heart wrenched as he heard the explosion, and he came to a halt. With a choked sounding voice, he said to INA, "We should go back and make sure they're dead." He also reported to Marquese. "Elin has self-destructed with her implant. Me and INA will now make sure Wolff's dogs are dead." He ended the transmission before he let out a sob. He headed back to the building he had just come from, where the person who he considered to be like a real mother to him now lay, likely in pieces.

    Nodding, Ina followed along with Dan. She really had no desire to see the carnage, but it might put her mind at ease. Unfortunately, when they'd arrived, no peace of mind came to her....

    The room upstairs seemed less damaged than one would expect. The broadcast equipment appeared to still be fully functional, in part perhaps due to the presence of the mantis wielder slumped in front of it. Shards of metal protruded from his chest and, from the sound of his breathing, he didn't have long to live. The remains of Elin and the other Dog were hard to identify, but there was a scorch mark on the ground around which the metal shards seemed to be strewn. Any organic matter was featureless and formless, obliterated by the force. The mantis wielder raised his eyes, and attempted to raise his arms, before there was a soft beep from the equipment behind him. Letting out a harsh chuckle, he slumped to the floor. The screen behind him had one message on it: "Upload 100% - Upload complete."

    "You see that, bastard?" the survivor wheezed at Dan. "You've lost. Your bitch blew herself up for nothing. It was hard to force her inside the shell before she blew, but I did it. It was even harder to keep standing-" he broke off with a dry wheeze, "standing while my chest filled with metal, but I did it. You lose!" He collapsed into another fit of coughing. "We lived like dogs. Wolff made us proud of it. And at the end of it all, you shitlords can only sit slackjawed while we fuck this place up." Blood began to ooze from his lips and ears as he continued to cough. "I've heard what that bitch can do. The robot one. I ain't giving you any satisfaction from this. Goodnight fuckers!" He roared, raising a middle finger. Mere milliseconds later, his head detonated, obliterating any hope of his revival.

    Ina was at a loss for words. She reprimanded herself for not remaining here and seeing this out to the end, but what could possibly have been uploaded that was such a game changer? You lose? Really? A simple message couldn't do such a thing....

    ....or could it?

    Many wars of the past had begun with a simple message. In fact, this one was no exception. It wasn't propaganda that terrified her though. Modern day computers and implants worked by sending packets of data to each other, effectively carrying instructions for them to do certain things. In this case, the possibilities were numerous. It could shut down communications, falsify orders from a superior....potentially even override command of every drone in the city.

    "We need to destroy this broadcasting station, now!" She shouted frantically, firing on any system that looked important. Every second that mystery broadcast went out meant all the more chaos could strike the city.

    "What?" Dan sounded tired. Fucking propaganda, what did it matter. The little fucking shits, they died, but he wished he could've done it himself. But the words rang in his head. Upload complete. You didn't have to spend time uploading speech, you just turned on the microphone. What could they have uploaded to broadcast? Spider was a notorious hacker after all. A thought rang in his head. Turn off the shields. But no, he would die too, he'd have nothing to gain. Dan thought of the hacking he was most familiar with. Hacking people. No. He was more machine than most, sure, but other than that weird guy who had sent Guntram flying once, everyone had chips in their brains. At that moment, he felt more powerless than he had ever felt since he discovered hacking. His weapons were designed to destroy organic matter, they barely affected anything not living, and with the power reassignment he had stolen from INA, his systems were in no shape to hack anything. He ran around as fast as he could, desperately sawing away at any wires he could find with one of his knives.
     
  16. RJS

    RJS New Member

    [THE BROADCASTING TOWER]
    As the pair frantically tried whatever they could to prevent the broadcast, all the screens in the tower flickered into life. Not just the tower either. Every screen in the the whole of Magnopolis, be it the Upper Levels or the Undercity, were all flickering into life. The face on the screen, as it had been so many times before was that of Gardenia Pirose, the Institute's mouthpiece for so long before her inexplicable disappearance from the screen. The words she spoke however, were rather different to what they were used to.

    "Do you think I had a choice to go to those functions? To lavish balls? No, of course not. I am the daughter of a high ranking official. I have to do those kinds of things, else they won't be happy. They only like to see people starve to death and point and laugh at them. Spider, you know I can't change my past. It was all a delusion to who I really want to be. What do I do with my life now? I'll do anything you want. If you want them dead now, I'll do it."

    An unfamiliar voice took over the narration. "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls...My name is Spider, leader of the Partition forces and committed fighter against the oppression of the Institute's Hegemony. You have heard from the mouths of one of their own what your esteemed 'leaders' think of you. Gardenia saw the truth, and came to speak with me of her own volition. She pledged me her service, and paid the price for it with her life. Make no mistake ladies and gentlemen, Gardenia Pirose was killed for fighting for the basic principles we all deserve and have been denied under their regime! The time is now! As I speak, my agents have assaulted the Upper Levels and are laying waste to Institute forces! Join us! Regain your freedom! Tear down their ivory towers! For freedom! For liberty!"

    The whole city hung in a pregnant pause. It was if the whole city had fallen still, waiting for a sign. In the deafening silence, the sound of a large explosive charge detonating could be heard as the data centre went up in smoke. A great cheer arose from the Undercity, thousands of voices surging in a primal roar that reverberated around the city.

    Marquese cursed as he broke into a run for the main Institute building. "Goddamnit, get me Rowlands! What do you mean, you can't find him? Stopping that signal should have been priority one!" He dialled Dan and Ina. "I'm sending you an emergency floatcar. Get in, and back. NOW!"

    [AN UNKNOWN LOCATION]
    A group of four masked figures sat in front of a screen that had just finished displaying the broadcast. Other screens showed feeds from hijacked cameras where tides of people surged from the Undercity through the Upper Levels, destroying and burning as they moved towards the central installations. Upper Levels residents fled in terror, clutching only what they could grab in the minutes they had.

    "So, Spider has played his hand. The chaos has begun."

    "Indeed, but there is opportunity in chaos. After all, the eyes of the Institute will be on that huge crowd - doubtless what Spider is counting on too. He'll be going all in, and a couple more slipping in won't be noticed."

    "What about Spider?" A female voice, impatient.

    "Well, when a man goes all in, nothing is left behind. As I said, opportunity in chaos. You and Revenant should be enough to deal with him. Apollo and I will have an easier time moving through the Upper Levels anyway."

    One of them arose. "Bout fucking time. Let's go." She stalked towards the exit. The other rose, then paused. "And Sy?"

    "If I know Marquese, I imagine Sy will find his own way to you very shortly. Best of luck."

    The remaining three departed as the screen winked blank.

    [THE UPPER LEVELS]
    Sy, Jerana and Wyatt all recieved a message through their implants. "Hey, whaddaya know, you guys pulled it off!" Wolff's voice sounded eager, almost feverishly so. "And I couldn't have asked for better timing. I'm even inclined to tolerate Leo! Bring yourselves to the location I'm sending you." A location ping, deep within the sewers of the Upper Levels, almost at the very bottom of the Upper Levels themselves. "Make it quick. Bossman's waiting, got a special job for you all."
     
  17. the_j485

    the_j485 King of the Wicked

    Sy paused from walking away as the explosion rocked the air, causing him to sway slightly from the dissipated shockwave. He wasn't willing to look back. He was ashamed. Marquese might well be the man he hated most in the world, and now he was taking his orders again, after so long. He was tempted to throw the transponder away, just to spite the old bastard, but that'd help no one - Spider was dangerous and needed taking down. Now was likely a perfect time to do it, with so many of his forces out in the upper levels, causing chaos.
    The message from Wolff played loud and clear, and he sighed. Marquese wasn't lying when he said the opportunity would present itself. Was... was Wolff the traitor? The Institute had Tessiana, which would be serious leverage over the man... It all fit. He'd have to be wary of what Wolff did and said. It explained why the man appeared to be so... jovial.
    "Leo?" Sy said, turning to his team, "It sounds like you're in the clear. Wolff wants us to report to him.. and Spider. I think Wolff must be Marquese's insider - he has the man's own sister for a bargaining chip, and I don't see why else he'd be suddenly so... generous, with how he's talking to us. We should go, and as much as I hate it, use the transponders when we get there. Let's move."
     
  18. Eruantien

    Eruantien New Member

    Gardenia. Her message was like acid to Leo. But what was worse was the immediate uproar that resounded after Spider's broadcast concluded.
    Well, that's not at all what I'd expected, Leo groaned inwardly. I guess I should have...

    Marquese had vanished into the halls of the Institute, leaving the leaving the turncoat squadron by themselves as a message flickered through.
    Sy informed them of the contents and their next directive, leaving Leo in a state of high alert.
    I don't like this. Wolff himself? And, by all accounts, trying to come off as favorable.

    "What transponders?" Leo gave Syderis a curiously blank look. "I don't have any idea what you're talking about. But, let's make haste then."
    "No sense drawing this out any longer. It sounds as if the city's about to explode. I can't imagine what Wolff and Spider have in store for us, and I don't dare to guess."

    Leo stepped forward, not knowing their destination, but not allowing the rest of the group to linger.

    The city was on the march. And it was thirsty for blood.
     
  19. sgbros1

    sgbros1 New Member

    Jerana almost jolted from the blast of the explosion her colleagues set off. But it was nothing compared to the deafening roar of the Undercity.

    Reminiscing about her carefree days roaming throughout the Undercity, she wondered how many of those in the Undercity had sympathized with the Partition. Judging by the sheer cry from the crowd, it was safe to say that a sizable portion were. Her parents were, most surely, since that was probably why they were killed by the Institute.

    Back to her parents, was generally what most of her thoughts ended up at.

    They've never spoken to her about the Partition. But yet they sympathized with them. Perhaps they were going to tell her about the Partition, perhaps when she was just a bit older.

    But none of them probably expected her to learn about them the hard way.
     
  20. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    Ina glanced at the screen, having evidently done very little to stop the broadcast. Go figure; she didn't understand a thing in this place. Aside from some basic technology of course, but much of it was heavily specialized and foreign to her. Well....of all the things that could've happened, that was pretty darn tame.... is what she wanted to think, but there was a earth-shuddering roar coming from outside. Seriously? Mobbing? Didn't they know a top Institute team could wipe out an entire mob single-handedly? Or maybe they'd been armed? Perhaps even waiting for the moment. That, and it wasn't like they could just go around bombing half of the city to death. No, they needed to be instilled with a feeling of absolute powerlessness, as they had been before. With that gone, well....

    "Understood sir, on my way," Ina responded to Marquese, cautiously moving out through the nearest fire exit. Scanning the skies for the float-car, Ina approached the shape as it appeared, still wary and on-guard. Who knows, maybe the signal from Marquese was faked. At this point, everything was wrong and unreliable. She wasn't about to let them win though, not by a long shot. Whatever it took, she'd find a way to kill Spider, if she had to bomb the entire Undercity to do it. Maybe she'd die in the process, maybe she wouldn't. At this point, she'd seen enough darkness for a whole lifetime anyway. It felt as though it was constantly tugging her to make drastic action, an entirely unhealthy "whatever-it-takes" attitude. She hated herself for it, but it truly seemed the only way to peace at this point in time.
     

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