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

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

  1. Eruantien

    Eruantien New Member

    Propped up where Sy had placed him, Leo listened to the broadcast, memories of a time many months ago returning in a haze. He could recall now, out of battle... this woman had been part of the prisoner exchange between the two sides. And yet, it seemed now that she was on neither. Leo's breathing began to stabilize; after the short time he had gone unconscious, he guessed that more blood of 'Natalya Godetzka' was flowing in his veins. She didn't look very stable, though Leo couldn't tell whether the greater injury was physical or mental.

    Turning his head slightly, Leo looked over to where Spider's gristly remains lay scattered, and shuddered. Finally... the mastermind of the Partition was dead. Although, as was evidenced by Raptus' return, they had no way of knowing whether his mind was truly obliterated. Shifting his gaze again, Leo turned to stare at the control room's outer doors, the same ones Ravyn had just left by. So... he hadn't died, all those months ago... Leo's head began to spin, and he brought his palm up to his face for support.

    What happens now?

    From what he could tell, Ravyn and Natalya were here for the same purpose as their own rogue squadron. With Spider dead, and Natalya's command of retreat, the Partition would likely no longer be a threat to the institute -- this day. Still, things could rarely end on such a positive note.

    "What happens now?"
    Leo spoke quietly, though still winded, his question directed to Natalya.

    "It was a damn long time coming, and... he's finally gone, or so I hope. But you -- you, and Ravyn... what are you doing here?"
  2. the_j485

    the_j485 King of the Wicked

    Sy went the same way as Ravyn, looking for where Jerana had gone. He found her in the corner of a room, drinking from a bottle she'd had tucked away, with Ravyn speaking to the girl. He looked at her - damaged, bleeding, crawling, drinking. Pitiful, in so many ways. He understood her zeal, even if he thought it was misplaced. She'd lost so much to the Institute, her life had been spent seeing that or the Partition as the only two ways that this city could be run, much like many of them had not so long ago. If only she could be made to understand... but no, it would take time. She was too stubborn, her parents' death still too raw a wound. Maybe one day, but not today.
    "Don't," Sy said, "she won't listen and she's no harm to us anyway. She may have turned on the squad, but she was still our teammate until a few minutes ago."
    His coilgun was slung back behind him, but his right hand was on his hip, just above where his pistol was holstered. It wasn't even a conscious action, though he wasn't totally sure of how Ravyn would react.
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2017
  3. sgbros1

    sgbros1 New Member

    Downing the rest of the bottle, Jerana shakily stood up to confront Ravyn. "Comply with what, little shit?" Jerana hissed, ice in her voice. "You fucks won, ain't that enough for ya? Or do you want to use me?" Venom spewed out of her, "Greedy little fucks, aren't ya? Kicking a woman when she's down. I've never liked ya at all."

    Jerana swung the empty bottle in front of Ravyn, shattering as it collided with the Revenant. "Get out of my fucking way" was all she muttered as she left.
  4. LivingAngryCheese

    LivingAngryCheese Over-Achiever

    Dan's eyes widened as he realised what had happened. Of course his scan hadn't picked anything up, they had hacked into his system already, he wouldn't find anything because they had already prevented that. "Theystilalive," Dan said, his words stumbling over each other in the rush and panic, "Oursystemshacked, death - illusion." He gestured rapidly as he spoke, willing them to understand. Sensing his emotions, his battle systems booted, giving him time to calm down. He sent them each a message containing what he had meant by that jibberish, then used INA's ability of power redirection to move his strength, half his Firewall and one fifth of his durability to speed, racing forward towards the central hub.

    Sent from my SM-G903F using Tapatalk
  5. lenscas

    lenscas Over-Achiever

    It took a while before Wyatt managed to get the AI to deform, another thing that made him worried about it yet there was nothing he could do about it, at least not now.
    After a quick look at Leo to see if he was needed he ordered the AI to check his systems while he inspected the capacitors. After all, they were far from the best and this was the first time they had to burst out this amount of power.

    Not totally unexpectedly one didn't manage to cope and died, luckily at first glance it didn't seem like it damaged the rest circuit and even without the one that died it should still work. "Guess I need another one" Wyatt mumbled to himself as he tried to carefully remove it which wasn't too difficult as he expected this one to fail while making the circuit and thus kept it relative easy to remove it even without the proper tools.
  6. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    After a moment of extreme tension, it became abundantly clear that their attack had ended. The relative silence that Ina had expected to be shattered by an attack or gunfire remained thick in the air, interrupted by Sayaka and some murmurs from the bewildered mob. Finally, they rushed off further into the Institute where Marquese only echoed and reinforced their suspicions. All of a sudden, he seemed to realize something, and the three of them rushed off.

    "Sir, what is it? What are they after," Ina questioned in worried confusion?
  7. RJS

    RJS New Member


    Natalya sighed. "I'm here because I wanted to see that fucker dead more than anything else. Institute wouldn't help me, not after what I did. But EXODUS would. So I signed up, followed the orders, all of it for this day. And now? Now we wait. Whatever happens next, I don't care. I got what I came for. The fucking city can burn to the ground now." She turned back, watching the monitors. "Just waiting for a signal that may never come."

    The breakneck pace of Marquese never failed to slow, even as he filled the two of them in. "They left you alive, so they aren't here to kill indiscriminately. The level of control over our systems is way too high for them to need to get in here in person to steal data or hack systems. This central building has nothing of value worth sabotaging - in fact only one major Institute asset is in here...the Director. I don't know whether this is kidnap or assassination, but - " The squad rounded a corner, leading to an impressive staircase. "We can't let them succeed. If they get into the Director's Office, then..." The stairs ended at an impressive security door, accompanied by a discreet retinal scanner. Marquese hurled himself in front of the scanner, motioning the two of them to guard the door.

    It seemed like an eternity passed. Then. "Karl Marquese, recognised. Security clearance, insufficient. Entry denied."

    Marquese paled. "Break down the door, break it do-"

    Every display screen crackled into life. Two figures could be seen, both wearing hooded cloaks. One masked with the symbol of the sun, the other with an unmistakable raven mask. Apollo spoke first. "Citizens of ARC-5, or as you have come to know it, Magnopolis. We are representatives of Extraterrestrial Operational Defence via Underground Shelters, the multinational association devoted to fighting for the liberty of our home planet.

    You have been lied to, citizens.

    You have been told that you sit on the surface of a world ravaged by meteor impacts, protected by the shield. Reality is far more terrifying. You are buried deep beneath the surface of your world, hiding from a technologically advanced race of alien invaders. Underground you have developed and advanced your technology, as the other cities have. We have reached a stage where victory is more than a distinct possibility, should we all pull together. Your Director failed in his duty to do so, and has been replaced.

    The war that has gripped this city is not unknown to us. But it ends today."
    The raven masked figure removed the hood and mask. "To my side is Christian Rowlands, leader of the Institute cybersecurity division, here to ratify the acceptance of the Institute."

    Natalya pushed a button and spoke.

    "And on behalf of the Partition,"
    Spider's voice cut in, "I will be sending Natalya Godetska to indicate our acceptance."

    Apollo resumed speaking. "Return to your homes peacefully. We can waste no lives when every man counts. In two days time, we will implement mandatory conscription, as the rest of the cities have done, in order to be ready to meet the alien threat. Details will be released tomorrow. And for those of you who are inclined to disbelieve us..."

    The dome above the city winked out of existence. The neon stars that had shone through many nights were gone, leaving only bare rock walls that outlined a vast cavern.

    "This is how we live now. But there is hope, comrades, if we all stand shoulder to shoulder."

    The broadcast winked out.

    Marquese hurled an impressive array of invective, before seizing his baton. "We're breaking through this door, now." he growled, motioning for the two of them to follow his lead before taking a mighty swing at the doors.

    Ravyn moved like lightning, kicking into the small of Jerana's back. One revolver dropped to train on her body, the other raised covering Sy. "Now you see the stakes of the game that you are caught in." he muttered quietly to Jerana. "One person revealing that Spider is dead and that his decrees are false could plunge this city into war and doom the entirety of humanity. So drop the attitude, drop the self pity, and drop the bullshit. The only reason you're still alive is because I was once like you. Almost dying gives you an incredible change of perspective, though it seems that hasn't sunk in for you yet. So choose. Silence, and hope of once again being able to walk on the surface of the Earth. Or you talk, and doom the entirety of your species." His gaze flicked up to Sy. "Don't interfere. This is too critical."

    Natalya rose from her seat and headed to the exit. "Well, that's that. They pulled it off. Guess I'd better show my face over there, else this whole plan falls apart." She paused by the door. "If any of you were planning on stopping me, now's the time."
    Eruantien likes this.
  8. Eruantien

    Eruantien New Member

    For a moment, you could cut the tension with a blade. Leo lay there, wondering at the sudden world-shifting revelation. And then, he grinned, lopsided and wincing but true. Bracing himself against the wall, Leo stood up shakily. "And speak a death wish? Far from it."

    He cradled his gun at his side, looking over at Wyatt. "I don't know about you, mate, but I'll be joining that conscript. I got what I came for; it's time to get out of this blasted city. There's n- nothing left for me here, now." Leo's voice almost cracked, but he finished the sentence and swallowed hard.

    Addressing Natalya again, Leo took a step forward, testing his legs; not unbearable. "If you'll take me with you... I'm ready now."
  9. sgbros1

    sgbros1 New Member

    Jerana stared right into the eyes of her assailant and uttered, "Yeah, whatever. I'll shut up about this whole piece of shit. Just one condition."

    "All of you? Get the fuck anyway from me. I just wanna be alone for now, away from anyone, and especially from you fucks. And I won't be afraid to expose our little secret if you do look for me."

    "Now, do we have ourselves a deal?"
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2017
  10. the_j485

    the_j485 King of the Wicked

    Sy was about to walk forwards but froze when Ravyn drew his revolver. His eyes widened and his breath hiked, but he didn't say anything for a moment. Jerana's agreement made him breathe a sigh of relief - she wasn't going to doom herself by being as stubborn as she had been. Christ, what kind of idiot breaks a bottle over a man's head just like that?
    "Put your fucking revolvers down, Ravyn," he said, frustration still lingering in his voice. "No one's stupid enough to think outing today's events are a good idea, see? Just let the girl fuck off and we can go finish saving this city from itself."
  11. LivingAngryCheese

    LivingAngryCheese Over-Achiever

    For the first time in months of working in the Institute, Dan found himself hesitating to follow Marquese's orders. Rowlands. His first instinct was that they were lying but... it made sense. Whoever it was had made themselves completely invisible to Dan, INA and Guntram, and even to Dan's scanners, so if they had advanced knowledge of their systems... forced to work for them? No. Dan saw it all in slow motion, neither of them hesitated. Though, Rowlands being a fighter is quite the surprise. As he formed a shotgun he sent a secret message directly to INA. "I know you want to fight for good, you've swapped sides enough for me to know that. It may come as a shock to you that I do too, I just always saw the Institute as better than the Partition. As family, in fact. I could never excuse Guntram, but I believed in the same thing as Tito and Elin. I took a vow to continue her work. But if she was still alive, this would be her work, if what they are saying is true. If they are telling the truth, when they kill Marquese, please, bring him back and I'll cuff him. Even if he has been lying to us, he means a lot to me." Dan finished the message and shot out the door lock.
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2017
  12. lenscas

    lenscas Over-Achiever

    For a while Wyatt wasn't sure what to do but eventually decided to join Leo. It wasn't like he had much of a choice anyway. Wyatt was now pretty convinced that at this point it didn't matter anymore what he choose when it came to his memory and thus he may as well instead try to help the city and with the fake stars gone it was a good guess that helping wouldn't be fighting for either the partition nor the institute.
  13. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    Ina watched the screen with shock. So they were still sticking to that story. Even after all this. What motivation could they possibly have if it were a lie? Why bother sticking to such a lie at this point if it were anything but.... the truth?

    The screen attracted her gaze as it displayed the great caverns above the city. Such things certainly weren't impossible to fake, but... it was her goal all along, staring back at her through a screen: the truth. It felt wrong, but there was a burning desire that far outweighed the order she was given. A desire to get out of the building and see it for herself. To get out of the city and see it for herself.

    "I'm sorry..."

    With that, Ina took off at full speed, soaring through hallways for the nearest exit and straight up to see the world for herself. The real outside world.
  14. RJS

    RJS New Member

    The sound of the shotgun blast masked whatever choice expletive Marquese had used to describe INA's abscondment. "We'll deal with her later." Marquese growled before kicking the door open. "Don't give them any openings, and don't pull any punches. We fail, and the Institute falls." That said, he rushed in, shock baton in hand. Inside the room, Rowlands and Apollo were stood, ready. Rowlands looked genuinely pained to see the Commander. "Karl, does it have to be this way? We need you up there when the real fight begins. We weren't meant to destroy ourselves in a little bubble. We're the only hope of our species!" Karl growled threateningly. "I didn't order my men onto the frontlines time and again in order to dishonour their sacrifice with a spineless capitulation of everything they stood for!" He rushed in, ready for combat.

    Natalya raised her hand to her ear, pausing. "Oh shit. Marquese flipped. We need to go back them up, now!" she shouted at Leo and Wyatt, breaking into a limping half-run.

    Elsewhere, Revenant had turned his attention to Jerana. "We have a deal, provided of course that you keep your side of it. If word gets out..." he casually motioned towards the blinking blue light embedded in her chest, "I'll know where you are. Don't bother trying to remove that chip by the way, it's not an easy process. Nanohooks, or so I'm told." He stiffened. "Sy, with me. We need to get to the Central building, now. Marquese might just be able to stop everything we've worked for!" He broke off into a run.

    [THE 'SKY']
    Unaware of the frantic efforts to change the course of the future below her, INA soared below the cavern ceiling, searching for a way out of the stony prison. The walls, wjile pitted, lacked any obvious openings, bar a large, reinforced doorway, electronically locked shut with no apparent access point by which that might be altered.
  15. LivingAngryCheese

    LivingAngryCheese Over-Achiever

    "No, you didn't Marquese!" Dan shouted in an uncharacteristically loud voice, worked up with panic and emotion. "You think you sent us out there to defend the Institute? NOBODY went to defend the Institute. We went to defend our friends, our families, to stop the Partition from taking over and to KEEP. THE. PEACE. Elin and Tito didn't die for our fucking leader, they died for us and the people! You aren't defending their honour by putting up this unwinnable fight, you're throwing it away. You haven't denied what they've said. It's clearly true. The Institute's support is GONE. Now I know something fishy is going on with the Partition, but you? You're the last real 'family' I've got left, and you want to throw away your life for your imaginary people that died for the Institute? Put down your weapon. Capitulation? It's hard to believe their story, but if it's true, which it appears to be, we are joining with our race and taking back our planet. The Institute doesn't need to be a city, it can be a country. Why fight? I am the last alive member of the Yeta Squadron to never betray it. It is my home. Please, don't make me." Dan concluded his emotional tirade by raising his weapon towards Marquese.

    Sent from my SM-G903F using Tapatalk
  16. RJS

    RJS New Member

    Marquese glared at Dan. "So that's it, is it? They waltz in here, spout a pretty story and you're willing to hand them the city on a plate? To see them round up every adult and march them out to fight? On the promise of a fucking cave interior? I thought you were better than this, Tuite." He turned to Rowlands. "I thought you were all better than this." He swung in with a vicious blow, only for Apollo to step in to intercept the hit, though he was knocked off balance. Rowlands turned away and walked to a large console. "I'm sorry Marquese." he said. "There is no other way."

    "Hand them the city on a plate? What is it that they are capable of doing right here and now that destroys us? Why do we need to fight? Is it that?" Dan said, gesturing at the console. He drew his old taser, unused for a long time, and fired at the console, the end latching on to it. "On your word I fry the console. I also helped design the firewalls here, I can edit the files remotely if you'd rather in milliseconds. WHAT EXACTLY REQUIRES THE LOSS OF MORE LIVES?" Dan shouted the final sentence. Rowlands turned to look at him, raising an eyebrow. "If you honestly think that you can stop me, you're welcome to try. Otherwise, I can only recommend you stay out of this. For your own sake." In the background, Marquese and Apollo exchanged blows, Marquese coming off the worse for wear as Apollo weathered his own hit.

    You can stop me. The phrase reverberated in Dan's head. There was something sinister about that sentence. And 'for your own sake'? It was clear to Dan now that Rowlands was lying about helping humans. "That's not something the great crusader for humanity would say, is it Rowlands? It seems everyone I let myself get attached to at all in that bloody room is a traitor. My own good died with Elin, I'm not adding any more to my list of mistakes." Dan switched the taser to his weaker hand, drew his gun and fired at Rowlands. The bullet struck home, blood flying from Rowlands as he looked down in shock at the hole that had appeared in his torso. Then he looked up, face serious. "I thought you might have known better, Dan. What do I honestly stand to gain from all of this? If this was a powergrab, I needn't have announced it to the city. After all, nobody was informed when the original Director passed away and his son took over. The threat is real. The need to sally out is real." The strength to his voice and the vitality of his movements contrasted heavily with the hole on his chest, still leaking blood. "This is the time to choose again, a second chance. Do not waste it." Behind Dan, Marquese took a heavy blow, Apollo swaying aside from the counterpunch.
    "Yeah, you pretended to die before, Rowlands, I'm not falling for the same trick twice. Though the fact you can bypass my firewall to such levels is extremely impressive, so I doubt I have much of a chance of winning this fight. Just in case you're actually dying, I'll ask INA to come back. Still, I wonder who the new director is." Dan said, then sent an urgent level message to INA. "Have you spent enough time staring at a cavern? Get back here, now. I believe the guys here are lying and are going to somehow take over the city, I can't explain right now, but if I'm wrong then Rowlands is about to die, so either way, get here. Now."

    With the message sent, Dan headed over to the console warily. As he reached it he began to continually form EMP grenades, tossing them behind him just out of range to defend his back, and interfaced with the console. The moment he interfaced, a high pitched whine kicked in. His aural circuits overloaded, Dan could only watch deafly as the world around him slowed. He watched, a prisoner in his own body, as his hands reached out and began to type at blistering speeds, commands that he knew nothing of spilling from his fingers. Even as he typed maniacally, he could see a crow fly in, perching on the top of the console before it let out a disappointed sigh. "I did warn you. I honestly didn't want you involved in this, but you're clearly too stubborn to listen. I set a failsafe on that console, just like I did with Godetzka. This one was a bit more trigger happy though - anybody who wasn't me that accessed the console would complete the work I needed to do. Couldn't risk being caught by a stray bullet - I can change people's vision, not become invulnerable. And so, Daniel Tuite, as it was at the start, so it shall be again. Just like when you hacked the drones, once more you find yourself manipulated to play the role of traitor. I hope this is a learning experience."
    A quick system scan was sufficient to confirm the truth of the words, his firewall had been utterly swamped by the attack code, and most of his systems were now externally controlled. The only hope was to purge the code from his system as quickly as he could.

    Dan sent an emergency message to Marquese. "If I do not stop typing immediately, break my arms. Rowlands is not dead, he's hacked my systems. Whatever he's making me type could be devastating." With the message sent, Dan began purging the code from his system. Though it seemed to take forever to clear the code, in reality it was probably only a second or two until Dan regained full control of his body. Turning, Rowlands was nowhere to be seen. The conflict between Marquese and Apollo continued, both men injured, but Marquese looking definitely the worse for wear. Even as Dan turned, Marquese took another blow to the head, rolling to minimise the force of the punch before retaliating with an uppercut that sailed through the air as Apollo stepped back. The sheer force of the uppercut unbalanced Marquese, leaving him staggering. For the first time since Dan could remember, Marquese looked vulnerable. He looked as if a stiff breeze would knock him over.
    "INA you piece of shit! Get here now, do you want Marquese to die?" Dan sent to Ina. He proceeded to rush towards Apollo and stab down with his knife, but the blade glanced off his armour.

    Meanwhile, above everything they'd ever known, Ina slowly moved her laser around the perimeter of the sealed door, as it sparked on the door like a welding torch. At the first incoming message, she shut her robotic eyes for a moment, dismissing it. This was more important than anything, right? The truth of the world. But then again, this door would take ages to cut open fully, and she knew it. Any sort of threat to life, down there, would fully claim the kill by the time she could return from the other side of this doorway. She made a sighing motion, though no air actually expelled. "Later..." Ina promised herself to the door, racing back the way she'd come. The second message arrived moments before she'd made it back to the door, killing any doubts she had about going in. After all, she'd partially betrayed the two of them; but really, it didn't matter so much. Wandering in, the scene was an absolute mess, with blood dotting the otherwise grey, concrete floor.

    "I guess you weren't lying,"
    she responded to Dan's message out loud, remarking at the sorry state of the two combatants. "I'm here to make sure no one dies, but until I know the truth, that's all I can promise." She stepped aside into an empty corner of the room and watched the battle unfold, cold and silent. "You want the truth? Ha! Don't we all. They're sure as hell not telling it though, what savior of humanity says this?" Dan sent silently to INA, and also sent her his memory of the last few minutes, and his reasoning for why Rowlands was lying. After a few moments of looking over what'd happened, sped up quite a bit for the sake of time, Ina answered Dan out loud. "My goal from the beginning has always been to reach some sort of peace and discern for myself what's real. As far as I'm concerned, I'm with EXODUS. Their story, true or false, has the greatest chance of unifying this city." "Do you have any idea of the power this gives Rowlands?" Dan replied. "He can alter what we see - what we believe. To him, we will simply be ants to control. They claim the meteor strikes were a lie. Perhaps. But who knows what we'll all be believing once he is in control? INA, you're an android. He can, and likely would, completely wipe your personality from you. He could kill you, INA without having to even lift a finger. And you want to trust him with power over the city despite what he could do with that? Once I really considered that, the Partition even would be better in control."

    Dan’s words had a visible impact on Ina, and her plastic face grew disturbed at the concept of altering perception or memory. Eventually, she spoke with some anger, “And what would you have me do about that? Shoot the console? Rowlands is already gone, and it looks like they’ve already completed their goal here. So beyond keeping you two alive, there’s nothing I can do for you.” As if to challenge her resolve, Marquese landed heavily on the floor at her feet. Battered, beaten and bloodied, he struggled to stand, even as the imposing figure of Apollo stalked ever closer. "Do it then!" Dan shouted. "And Rowlands isn't dead!" He stood between Marquese and Apollo, and shot at Apollo as he advanced. Try as she might, Ina was unable to look away from her commander’s broken face. Several thoughts swirled in her mind, faster than she could handle, but they all converged on one train of thought: at this rate, Marquese was likely to keep going until he was beyond any help she could give.

    ”Stop!” She shouted at Apollo, raising her arm towards him as the panel popped up to reveal the barrel of her laser. Even so, she was frozen in indecision, “You have what you want, right?! So there’s no need for this then?!” Her eyes, which ordinarily displayed a sapphire blue, now glowed a menacing red. Apollo's head snapped sideways, the bullet catching the sun mask. The force sent the mask spinning from his face. Underneath was revealed a young, fair haired youth with intense emerald eyes. He would have been quite striking were it not for the fact that his skin was rough and bumpy, grooves clearly showing in a manner that seemed almost...scalelike. One hand came up to rub his cheek where the bullet had hit the mask, before he turned his gaze on them. "This isn't about what we want, it's about what we need. What we all need." Minus the gravelly threat of the voice changer, his voice seemed mellow, calm even. "We need to be united, and we need to form a vast army. Martial law and conscription are the only ways to guarantee that. People are selfish. Who would not hide their child to spare them the horror of war even if the whole world were at stake? Marquese is much the same, except rather than save a child, he would save this whole city that fate. He is a good man. A noble man. But ultimately a man who would damn the entirety of humanity to save those close to him. As such, he must either yield and abandon his dream, or he must be ended." He gestured towards Marquese, who had staggered to his feet and assumed a fighting stance, or something close to it anyway. "As things stand, he does not seem co-operative. Either change his mind or move aside. If you stand in my way I will consider you to be part of his revolt."

    "Conscription? Ah, so that's what Rowlands is for. A united army. A hive mind. That's what you want to create. So you wish to completely destroy the free will of everyone living here, in order to regain the surface? People are selfish? You're the one that's selfish. Why don't you implant a chip in your brain and become a mindless soldier too? Oh, wait, no, you don't want to do that do you? Who cares about the surface? I'd rather not sacrifice an entire city for it - I can live here, so can everyone, and I'd rather die than let their lives be taken away from them." Dan snarled as he finished, and leaped at the man, stabbing at his eyes. Apollo sidestepped, grabbing Dan and throwing him across the room. Dan hit a wheeled chair and rolled the rest of the way, coming to a halt unhurt. "Hive mind? If we were reprogramming the entirety of the city, why would I be so concerned about changing Marquese's mind? Why would we be bringing in forces to supervise conscription? Why would we even have bothered with our earlier announcement? If people could be so easily controlled, why am I allowing you to continue with this farce? And speaking of farces, free will? What freedom exists in this hole is a pitiful mockery of the real thing. People from the Upper Levels have the freedom to do as they will, whilst the people from the Undercity have no choice but to carry the strain or be put down as anarchists. Perhaps your upbringing clouds you to that."

    Meanwhile, outside the room, the groups led by Natalya and Ravyn arrived almost simultaneously. The people within were disturbed by the arrival of the five and the momentary confusion that five armed people bursting into a room can cause. Apollo was amongst the first to recover, staring at Dan and INA even as Marquese ran at him. "It's time to make your choice. He just has." Ducking under Marquese's slow, wide swing, he delivered a crisp jab to Marquese's throat. A cracking sound could be heard, followed by tortured gurgling that replaced the heavy breathing that had been coming from Marquese.

    Recovering from the confusion quickly due to his perception of time, Dan attempted to prevent another five enemies entering the fray. "INA, make sure Marquese is OK! To everyone that just entered," He paused, as emotion temporarily clouded his judgement, but as it cleared he realised what his system was telling him. Ravyn. "Rowlands has been at work for a long time huh?" Dan muttered. "Yes, to EVERYONE that has just entered, even Godetzka, don't trust this guy. He says he just wants to put in forced conscription on this city, but he refuses to explain what Rowlands, the person who can break even my systems so much he seems dead when he is not, is using the computer that has access to everyone in the city's brains for. If you value your life or identity at all, don't fight for him."

    Not waiting for a signal, Leo quickly moved to Marquese's position. He didn't know whether anyone else in the room was friend or foe at this minute, but he knew that he couldn't leave the Director alone to face this assault. Narrowing his eyes at Ina, Leo nevertheless stepped in front of her and Marquese to block the unknown attacker from striking again. "Natalya! What's going on!?"

    Sy listened to everything, eyes taking in every detail of the room. Marquese's injury was... less satisfying than he'd expected. After all the man had done, to him and to the undercity, seeing him choke and suffer like that wasn't even gratifying. He might have expected some sort of sadistic glee, yet all he felt now was pity, even if he was glad the man was finally to be put down. Still, Ina could well heal him still, and Leo had decided to stand between Apollo and the dying man. Sy drew his revolver and began to speak. "This is EXODUS, Leo. I told you there was something bigger before, now you've seen some of the ultimate plan. I don't know what this Institute fuckhead's been hearing, but since he very recently tried to kill our team, I'm not very inclined to listen to the shit he's been spewing." There was a clear line between Sy and Marquese's crouched, spasming form, unblocked by Leo. "If we don't clear out the bastards that have kept over half the city down for so long, then we can't progress. This is just as worthy as we thought the Partition was, except not lead by a power-hungry psychopath this time. Speaking of..." Raising his revolver, Sy aimed it in the direction of Ina and the brown-haired man.
    "Don't either of you dare try anything. You won't be able to save Marquese without the two of you dying in the process, and you won't be able to take us out either. Both of you just stand right there and wait."

    Dan sighed. "God, Velos, you're more stupid than I thought, did dying that one time leave you with brain damage? I have never 'tried to kill your team' as you put it, unless you count self-defence or defending allies. You're the one always on the offensive. And you think Marquese will be capable of fighting after what INA can do? She specifically designed her ability to leave the receiver in agony to prevent further fighting. She can also, disturbingly, control emotions." Sy gave Ina a dirty look. He'd never heard of Ina's ability to do that before, and it served to fuel his hatred of the droid further. Ina gave herself a dirty look. She'd never heard of Ina's ability to do that before either. "Unless your entire drive is based on some kind of revenge, there's no point. The director is dead. His replacement probably is too. You won. So now you're putting all your faith in people you know nothing about? You'd trust them with control over your brain? Even from you, I'd expect greater intelligence. I don't hate you. We want the same thing, you chose to fight for a different power hungry maniac, I tried to influence the power hungry maniac in charge. We will never be friends, but we can at least work together to avoid a repeat of what happened before."

    "You've seen the actions of Wodan for, what... a few hours? But of course, you know for certain he's evil, he's going to control us all and send us all to our deaths outside the city. I know the vision of EXODUS, and it is better than any vision that the Institute or the Partition could have provided. One where we don't live in this shithole, and we've regained the surface for ourselves. I trust Wodan, Apollo and the others over the alternative - people like you, content that they're making such a wonderful difference for the undercity when they're the hundredth one, and never see that by helping the Institute at all you're making it only worse. Trust me when I say I've seen every side, and the Institute is damn ugly when you truly understand what they do. Now shut the fuck up, and wait for us to free the city from the shackles you help keep on them."

    Wincing, Ina watched as Marquese crumpled down from the fatal jab. Instinctively, she began to step forward, but paused for a moment when the old Partition group suddenly burst in. She returned Leo's glare, rushing to get to Marquese's soon-to-be corpse, but once again was forced to stop as Sy's revolver pointed towards her. "I guess at this point, it'd be like stabilizing a man as he burned alive," she droned with a cold tone, reluctantly stepping back as the remainder of the man's life drained away. "It'd be almost more cruel than leaving him to die." It was, as always, hard to tell what Ina was thinking emotionally. If she had to guess herself, she'd probably say it was more regret than sadness or anger. The inability to do what she felt was right, or perhaps the uncertainty, it was all so hard to tell. "Sorry, Dan. It seems you're very much alone here in your paranoia," she finally spoke with some accusation. "Or maybe it's valid worry, I don't know. All I know is that I'm going to find out once and for all." With this said, Ina calmly wandered closer to Sy, seemingly unconcerned with the barrel pointed towards her. "Try not to kill him if you can help it. I'm going to the surface." Having said all she had to say, Ina once again abused her robotic frame to run off at an inordinate pace to the armory, grabbing a few packs of C4 before making her way back to the door. "Then I'll do it myself." Dan snarled, entering INA's system unhindered and swiftly rushing towards Marquese to administer the nanobots. Before he could get to him however, Sy took at shot with his pistol, lightning-fast, aimed at the man's chest. The bullet dug in deep, sending blood flying. However Dan managed to continue his rush towards Marquese. He stepped down to him, and administered the healing nanobots, and raised a middle finger up to Sy behind him.

    Apollo sighed heavily as Marquese began to breath normally again. "You've bought yourself a few more minutes, that's all. You're even more outmatched than you were when you walked in, and nobody else is coming. I don't know what you hoped to accomplish by choosing defiance now. When we last met, you understood the wisdom in backing down when facing insurmountable odds. The you of today is lesser than the you I met before, and you will for that foolishness with your life." He signalled to the rest. "Open fire. Let's close the door on this chapter of failed governance." Apollo punctuated his sentence with a hard left to the jaw of Marquese. The force spun Marquese's head, sending him reeling. As he regained his balance, a shot rang out, knocking him backwards. Hitting the ground heavily, he did not rise, a crimson pool forming around his head. "Sorry, I guess your trump card wasn't all that you hoped it would be." Ravyn said, facing Dan. "Seems like it's curtain call time." Leo closed his eyes for a millisecond. The Director had been merciful to him, but ultimately Leo felt that he was also misdirected. And so, despite Dan's action of trying to save Marquese, Leo whipped his gun into action, firing a precision round. The bullet hit Dan in the shoulder, spinning him.

    Despite all of the vitriol and argument Sy had spewed in Dan's direction, now all that he felt towards the man was pity. There were six of them, now, against one man. In all reality he had been made angrier by the presence of Marquese, a man he greatly hated, but that monster was dead and bleeding out, now. The anger had slowed to a quiet simmer. "You can't win, you know? You won't even be able to take a single one of us out now. Just give up, and you might just live to see how wrong you were." He said to the man. His aggressive tone belied how much he genuinely didn't want the man to die anymore. The anger was giving way to tiredness, and he could feel his very heart rate slowing. This would be over soon, one way or another. "It's too late for that now. He made his choice, just like you did." Natalya's voice carried a hint of the same tiredness Sy felt, though it was undercut with what might be determination, or what might be resignation. Either way, the blood that still flowed freely from her wounds and pooled around her feet launched forwards. "No!" Sy shouted, leaping forwards to stop the spears of blood. He was too late, and it bashed the pistol from his hand. It continued on to skewer Dan across his torso, arms and legs. "I seem to recall advising you to know your own limits once." she said, addressing Dan. "Guess you're as shit at listening as you were at teaching me a lesson."

    Dan coughed blood into his hand and smiled. "Huh, luck can only get you so far it seems. Death caught up to me this time. You didn't need to kill Marquese, you know. He was helpless. Even tactically, that was a stupid decision. You all helped kill a helpless person. I hope that damages at least one of your moral compasses. I always was aware of my limits, Godetzka, but unlike you I realise that risking death is always the correct choice if you would otherwise lose the only remaining reason to live. What do you live for? I don't care, actually. If you really were all telling the truth, I wish you luck. If not, at least let INA keep her personality. I guess we were something like friends once. Anyway, my system is going to go into overdrive now and use the last of my power to give me a few hours before I die. In case you were telling the truth, you'll find my computer unlocked with schematics for my replication system and data on how to copy most people here in their abilities and many more people too. Use it how you please, I don't really care." Dan laughed as he finished his monologue. "I thought I would care more when my time came. Oh well. Wyatt, find out about your past, OK? It may matter more than you think. Ah. Time's up. Goodbye." Dan's eyes closed, and for everyone around, within seconds, he was dead.

    "Fuck, Natalya. If we'd let him live, he could've helped us. We could've shown him the truth first hand. Now he's fucking dead, stinking like shit on the floor." That wasn't something a sniper normally smelt, not from afar. The cloying scent of death, assaulting the nostrils like some strange form of karma.Sy turned to look at Marquese, approaching him with an angry pace. He walked right up to where the body lay, raising one boot above the skull. He stomped, hard, and felt a crunch. He did it again, then a third time, and a fourth time, and several more until the head was a bloody pulp, his boot caked in blood, bone fragments and pink goo. "It doesn't feel any better. Why doesn't it feel any fucking better?" He asked to no one in particular. He looked at Natalya, at how tired she seemed. The usual stream of curses that came from her mouth had been gone since she'd finished off Spider. She looked and sounded tired now, and for once he thought he understood her. With a sigh, he sat, legs in front of him, facing Marquese. He stared at the wrecked body, and waited.

    The AI once again wanted Wyatt to stay out of it but rather than manipulating Wyatt to hold off it decided to instead force it upon him. It fully realized that after doing this Wyatt would surely try to get rid of it but if it worked that became a none issue. Additionally, it also understood that Wyatt had become wary of it and thus the AI knew that manipulation would become impossible. It quickly setup everything it needed and ran a quick test to see if it indeed could control Wyatt's actions in the way it wanted. With the test a success Wyatt quickly found himself frozen in place, every system unresponsive. He quickly started to panic while he quickly tried to find reasons for his problems, reasons that did not involve the AI as he desperately wished the AI would not be the cause. However, he was quickly faced with the reality that it was indeed caused by the AI and he gave up trying to solve it. He understood that if the AI was able to freeze everything he would be at the mercy of it. "Stay normal and do what I say. Then this won't be needed in the future." The AI said to Wyatt after it became clear that Wyatt gave up. After both Dan and Marquese where dead and Wyatt finally was able to move again he walked to Syderis "Sy" he said but the rest of the sentence getting blocked and quickly changed by the AI. "Staring at a dead guy helps no one." Wyatt now said as he reached out his hand. Meanwhile, Wyatt was internally screaming of anger but the AI made sure that this wouldn't be visible from the outside. "Shut the fuck up, Wyatt," Sy growled, his voice weak. He didn't even look to the man as he spoke, but continued staring at Marquese's corpse.

    Leo turned away as Sy approached the Director's body. He winced as he heard the crunch that came afterward, and kept his eyes shut for a little while, not really responsive to anyone else's actions. Everything he'd known so far was now... completely and utterly pointless. There was one path remaining now that seemed obvious, but would it lead to redemption? For himself, or for anyone else here in this damned cavern city? Dan was dead. Marquese was dead. Everything here, Leo had helped make possible. So why didn't he feel as wretched as he thought he ought? Instead, there was only a dull sensation of dread, palling over him inside and out. What lied ahead, no one could make him believe in for sure. But it was happening, and it was happening soon. There was little time to prepare, still less to grieve. Could he even grieve? Was there even a reason to? This was war, after all. War against humanity, against anyone who dared spring up against any of the pillars of power that had once loomed powerful over this city.
    Leo waited, and did nothing, keeping his eyes shut. The only escape now was the surface, or death. Maybe both.
  17. RJS

    RJS New Member

    INA's rush to the doors was successful, and within a couple of minutes she had rigged the doors to blow. She paused, staring at the great portal. What new world lay beyond? Regardless of specifics, she knew what it was that she sought. The truth about life on this world. Was there a thriving world, ripe for reconquest and infested with hostile forces? Was there a blighted wasteland? Was there just more rock, the door itself a massive sham, the final bluff in a long line of bluffs? Whatever it was, the time to find out was now. The detonator beeped, the charges roared, the world shook. And then her vision flooded with static. "I'm sorry." Rowland's voice rang in her head. "I can't let you damage the doors. You'll have to wait a couple more days. I promise, I'll let you out in the first wave if that is what you truly desire." The static clearing, INA saw the truth she had not expected. The C4, bags of flour. The detonator, a cracked egg in her hand. Clearly some sophisticated sensory hacking had occurred, a downside of her having diverted all power from her firewall to provide extra mobility. Should she return to the armoury, she would find it secured, with encryption beyond her.

    Back in the Director's Office, Apollo stared at the group. "It is a shame they had to die. But unity comes at a cost. Our chances of success come with a cost." He reached behind his back, pulling out a small collection of medical equipment from beneath his cloak. "Godetzka, and you," he nodded at Leo, "you need urgent medical care. The rest of you, go home. Rest up. This was just the beginning." As they filed out, Rowlands strode in. "Former Chief Engineer Wyatt!" he cried, heading over to him, extending a hand. Even as the AI reached out to grasp it, Rowlands slammed a datadrive into the auxiliary connectors at the base of Wyatt's skull. "Time to let you out." Rowlands muttered grimly.

    Wyatt and the AI were aware of a deluge of code flooding their system. Wyatt's vision sparked and blurred as firewalls were thrown up, dismantled and rebuilt in a frantic battle between the AI and Rowlands' programming. Despite the AI's best efforts, Rowlands simply worked much faster and soon code was running through every part of Wyatt's implants, carefully partitioning off all data related to the AI. A feral scream echoed around Wyatt's head as the net closed ever tighter on the AI, then a massive rushing sensation as all the quarantined data was extracted to the datadrive. Wyatt slumped, then collapsed on the floor, struck with lightheadedness as his system adjusted to the new reality. Rowlands cooly examined the drive. "Dunno where this thing came from, but I recommend if you ever decide to look into it that you put in on an isolated computer with no network or motility components." He tossed the drive to Wyatt. "Merry Christmas."
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  18. Lumaceon

    Lumaceon Popular Member

    Ina tossed the egg at the wall, shattering it into pieces. "So Dan was right then..." she spoke aloud to herself as she realized in horror what this meant. "I'll never be sure what's real and what isn't." For the second time, she dropped to her knees in defeat.

    "But you know, maybe it doesn't matter so much. I'm not real either am I? Maybe it wouldn't be so bad... just living in a fantasy world again like I used to." She laid down on the rocky surface and curled up, plastic shell scraping on the hard material. "I'm tired of reality anyway."

    She closed her eyes and waited. She wasn't sure what she was waiting for, or how long it'd take, but she'd wait by this door until something happened, or she lost power. Whichever came first.
  19. lenscas

    lenscas Over-Achiever

    Wyatt sat down with and held a hand against his head while he recovered from having the AI forcefully extracted out of him. "Thank you." he said after it began to dawn upon him as to what happened. "Thank you for saving me from that thing."
    Wyatt was still a bit dizzy and thus didn't stand up and instead looked at the drive, trying to think of reasons to not destroy it but quickly concluded that without the source code it wasn't worth the danger of keeping something around that was able to take control of others like it did.

    He took a deep breath and was about to destroy the drive only to stop at the last moment and instead asked Rowlands "How did you figure out it controlled me?"
  20. RJS

    RJS New Member

    Rowlands idly twisted his hands together as he spoke. "Godetzka had told me you were capable of generating an independent digital entity - that was enough to tell me that you had an AI core of some kind embedded inside you. I researched instances of implants that had that functionality, only to find out that any implanted AIs had a nasty habit of optimising their function by hijacking the host. The product lines were discontinued, though they still got passed around in the Undercity. But in the testing phase, the manufacturers built in a 'distress' signal. Any hijacking AI would immediately disable the signal in an attempt to hide its own tracks, and in disabling the signal it alerted the testers to the fact that a hijack had taken place." Rowlands smirked. "AIs may be smart, but they're predictable. Anyway, ever since that I've been checking for that signal. When I lost track of it, that was when I knew." He motioned to the door. "Now, go get some rest. Maybe a drink. Everything will start to move soon."

    The following day, INA was jolted out of her hibernation by a grinding noise. As her sensors flickered into life, she realised that the doors had just slid open, admitting a number of cloaked and hooded figures. Any thoughts of dashing out were scuppered by the sight of another set of doors behind the first, as if the whole system formed a giant airlock. Several of the figures openly stared at her in wonder, though they seemed no less wondrous to her. Some sported multiple limbs, others carried weapons that were beyond her analytical systems, and yet others seemed almost to flicker in and out of existence as they moved. "The elites of EXODUS." remarked Rowlands, whom she had not noticed was stood behind her. "We will train the people, and then we will leave for the real world. All of us. You must be patient a little longer."

    And so it was that the war in ARC-5, or Magnopolis, was brought to its conclusion. With the deaths of the Director, Spider and Marquese there were none who could pose any resistance to EXODUS even should should they have wished to. Areas of the Undercity that had become flashpoints and warzones finally knew peace, and life returned to a modicum of normality. The conscription process had been somewhat fraught, with EXODUS troops combing the city and hunting those who evaded enlistment. After all, who would not seek to spare their child, or their lover from the horrors of war? It is only human to protect that which is closest to you. But EXODUS needed soldiers, and so people were dragged from hiding spots to recruitment desks, and any hint of resistance was dealt with severely. Mornings were given over to training under the firm eye of the EXODUS veterans that had arrived, whilst in the afternoon all the industry of the city was bent towards the preparations for war. It was a stern, uncompromising regime, but a peaceful one. The streets were safe, and some of those who had felt lost and worthless now walked with a confidence and purpose. Many of those from the Upper Levels notably chafed under the regime, but it was to be expected when they had held so much power.

    As the days went by, the training intensified. It did not take long for most citizens to reach an acceptable level of competency, and some of those who had fought in the civil war found themselves promoted to positions of importance. Eventually, the great doors ground open once more, as the 5th Company of the United Earth Forces marched out to rendezvous with the other companies in a bid to reclaim their world. And the neon stars, that had lit the city for so many years, were silent for good.
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