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skwerl56767

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  1. Unfortunately I don't think you could see webbing all, if you're doing a full frontal pose. I don't know of any ways to show the frill - or any other relative flat object - when viewed from its thinnest side like that, since it's basically the equivalent of looking at a piece of paper on its side. Flat things are usually reduced to lines simply showing where they'd be, if those lines could be seen at all. The thicker struts holding the webbing together - or spikes, or fingers, or what have you - are usually all that's seen since their thickness hides the thinner webbing behind it. What I'd do is adjust the pose so the webbing is visible somewhere else on the body; so like for a headshot, I would turn the head so the dragon is looking over its shoulder, which would make parts of the neck frill switch to a 3/4s or side view, which would show the webbing. Otherwise your front shot of the head is just going to show spikes going from front to back, then disappearing. Alternatively, you could have two sets of fins on the head or neck running side-by-side, and angle them so the webbing can be seen just a bit.
  2. Riverside Glail looked up as Swift began defending her, and herself. She didn't expect such passion from the girl, despite having only just met her. Ionhazard's annoyance only spiked at the lack of clear answers, or fear from the supposed humans. He snarled loudly at Swift's claim of not being spies, clearly thinking otherwise. "These factions you think so lowly of are the definition of who's friend or foe in the world," he barked back, "How do I know that you're not spies? Or do you expect me to just take your word for it?" "I-I'm a laguz! I'm lost, and I don't know where my daddy is, and I'm from the Desert of Death, and...!" Glail's voice died down when Swift grabbed her hand, a sense of urgency in the movement. “I don’t think he has your best interests at heart. We should probably go.” "H-Hatari Kingdom?" Glail finished awkwardly. "But-! I don't know how to get down! It looks slippery!" She tried not to think about the steep drop surrounding them. "Where are you going?" Ionhazard growled. The girl stared defiantly at him. He noticed bright white wings suddenly erupt from her back! Two threads leapt to conclusions at once: one, she must not be affiliated with whomever - or whatever - Glail might be with, and two, she had the audacity to try and leave? It wasn't making sense that these two wouldn't recognize him. He knew none of the names they threw around regarding their origin. It was becoming more and more far-fetched that this was some distant future on Earth, and the ridiculously-implausible was starting to look more likely. A simulation? Not with the Archivist in orbit. Another planet, with a simulation? It would be too expensive to dig him up and launch him into space exclusively for these infuriating little tricks. Multiverse theory?... Mother Machine would know. The now-winged girl turned to jump off the Commander's shoulder, and he half-expected her to drop like a rock, except the wings moved with the very real fluidity of flesh and feather as they opened. "Not so fast!" he snapped, simultaneously cracking his jaw and sending a tendril after the girl. She attempted to dodge, and to her credit she was amazingly nimble; but the tendril was quicker, and snatched her by the waist before she could get sufficient air under her wings. "I'm not done with you!" "Don't hurt her!" Glail blurted out, shakily getting back up on her feet, "m-maybe she's lost too!" Ionhazard regarded her for a moment, and sighed. A wolf girl with shaky knees, and some kind of animal shifter who was already mad at him. What kind of world is this? A bit dejectedly, he swung Swift back over his shoulder, but the tendril didn't let go, simply holding her there with Glail staring up in fright and concern. Rarely for him, he considered there to be some value in the two girls. Sure, they had stories of being lost, but he might be able to eke some use out of them yet. First, though... Ionhazard looked up to to the northwest, rotating his entire body so he was facing back the way they came, and tried to send a remote signal back to the one he was sensing across miles of unknown territory. If this truly was Earth, it would respond with either an Earth or Machine signature. He waited a few moments in silence. Glail's ears twitched, unable to tell from the frozen metal frame if he was still mad at them or not. As far as she could tell, he just turned around and stared into the distance for no reason. Maybe he was lost, just like they were, and that's why he was mad. If a dragon laguz could make deserts, could he get lost? Or if he was a robot, like Swift said? "Iony?" She tried to talk to him, but the Commander ignored her, waiting impatiently. The distant signal kept humming in his head, like a blinking dot in his peripheral that couldn't be turned off. Then suddenly, it changed tone. It changed multiple times. A long stream of ups and downs... binary? The plates on his head flattened in surprise, and the tendril abruptly let go of Swift, letting her fall - yet again - beside Glail. The laguz hustled over to her friend's side, just as surprised as he was. "Are you okay? Where did your wings come from?! Can you fly?" She reached out with the intent of touching the feathers, but refrained. "...Yes. I thought-!" Ionhazard said abruptly. Glail looked up, but he wasn't looking at them. He was still staring at the horizon. "...What are you talking about? What the hell is Spore?" "What? We didn't say anything," Glail tried to answer him, but he wasn't paying attention to them. She looked awkwardly at Swift, wondering what she thought of this, and if she had any ideas on how to get off Ionhazard's shoulder.
  3. Sector 2, Mouth of the River "A mah-sheen," Glail sounded out the word, puzzled. What was that? What was programming? She could do jobs too, but she could also think. Actually, as far as she knew, everything could think; the idea that something couldn't was hard to wrap her mind around. Only things that weren't alive, like rocks or the clouds, couldn't think. Ionhazard seemed alive to her. Then Swift mentioned "movies", and the laguz's ears twitched, thinking she misheard her; but what's a sye-fye and why was it moving? What happens when it stops? Glail became even more baffled when Swift explained where she was from. None of those names were familiar. By states, she assumed she meant a state of existence? Like, one time she was in a bad state, because she injured herself in training and had to stay in bed for a week... Glail's tail drooped as it really dawned on her. "I'm really lost, huh?" she murmured. "I-I don't know any of those places. I'm from... I don't..." She looked back out over the lush forest, inviting, but completely alien to her. "Where's the desert...?" She jumped as Swift suddenly started yelling at Ionhazard. Her friend's face showed horror... something she doesn't often see. She bit her lip, realizing her mistake in assuming that making a desert would just push the forest aside, not remove it... did it remove it? Is that how it works? She didn't know anything about dragon laguz. Ionhazard didn't show the slightest concern at the idea of everything dying off. No, far from it. He looked ahead, not hiding his grin. "Exactly," he rumbled. He turned away from the fiery side of the land and started heading down the middle of it, beside the river. He was going to the river's source, Glail assumed, but why? Deserts don't need rivers! "Hey, Iony, maybe we shouldn't..." Glail faltered, pausing at a sickening crack as he stomped through a lone tree in his path, not even fazed by it. "Wait, Iony!" "It's Ionhazard," the Commander growled. "Maybe we should make the desert somewhere else!" "Oh, relax," he said ambivalently, "the animals will live. They'll run off to some other... forest." They better not, he added to himself. He picked up the pace, eager to get to the water's source before either of his hitchhikers could change his mind, or before anyone noticed him. He still wasn't sure who else was out here. "But what if there isn't one?!" Glail shouted over the rising winds. "Or what if-! What if there's another dragon out there, and it gets mad!?" Another machine? That's an interesting thought, Ionhazard mused. He didn't slow down though. "What if it attacks us? What if we die? Maybe it's bigger, or, or stronger, or...!" Glail frantically thought of more excuses. "Or what if there are people in there?! What if making the desert makes you too weak, or doesn't work-!?" Oh shut up, you damn lifeform, the Commander's thoughts grumbled, but Glail continued making excuses. Somehow the wind wasn't drowning out her tiny voice. She brought up the possibility of another "dragon", and after few seconds of thinking about it he wondered if this place had actual dragons. Apparently the humans had already mutated themselves into wolf-shifters. So much for said shifters being on the Machines' side though, if they're so keen on preserving this hideous, green smear on the... ...No. This doesn't make sense! He abruptly came to a halt, digging his claws into the earth. Soil roared and flung into the air as he skidded, gouging the landscape, which was surprisingly soft. Glail yelped and fell back down, but thankfully didn't almost roll off again. The machine ripped his claws out of the new trenches and planted them firmly on either side before whipping his head around to glare at his two passengers. "Factions. Names. Histories. Now," he snarled. Glail just stared at him, pale in the face. "SPIT THEM OUT!" "Aaah, not so loud!" the laguz cried, throwing her hands to her ears and curling in on herself. Her heart raced under the scrutiny of this huge creature. Why did the dragon laguz want to kill the forest? What did he mean by a faction name? What should she say?! ---------- Sector 1 - Problem Incoming! A horrific howling erupted from the southern cliffs. While looking - and certainly as treacherous - as mountains, the glorified crags were dwarfed by the rising ranges behind them of the neighboring sector, which had dark skies as though thick with black clouds. At first, the source of the noise wasn't immediately apparent, until the sound of rushing hooves reached those in the tiny sector, and two red-brown dots could be seen barreling along the cliffs. They clearly were - or had been - animals of some kind, and held just enough self-preservation to not jump off the cliffs into the sea. Unfortunately, that meant that they were following the cliffs, and where the cliffs ended was just across from the largest group in the sector. Neea, who had just taken notes on Hawkeye's name, wondered what "last names" were, and just witnessed the robed man talking to Hawkeye's pet - which was named Mystical? - had looked up at the noise. It was far enough away to not be any concern, except the two objects were moving unnaturally fast, and heading toward the group. She squinted, her cameras zooming in on the objects, missing Renarin's question of who could talk. U-Uh.... well. Uh. That's... not anything she's seen before. She couldn't tell if they were animals, or plants, or rock monsters... but their eyes were a clear, visible orange in the mess that was somehow running at high speed. One opened its misshapen jaw, which split all the way down its side, and belted out a hideous, baying scream. They looked neither alive nor friendly. They also weren't stopping. "Uh, what are those?" She couldn't hide the urgency rising in her voice. "What are those?!" ---------- Sector 6 - Not the Parrot You Ordered A similar situation has come to the monster servants of Kid Dracula's castle. A bundle of the smells bird, ocean, and something not quite right, had abruptly hit a four-story window with a loud THWACK! Easily dismissed as a bird that was lost in the sector and flew into the window, because well, birds do that, the thing managed to somehow save itself with a massive, misshapen claw, grabbing the sill then swinging itself harder through the window with a loud crash. It flopped to the floor, damaged by the glass, but not even registering it. The bird monster stood up, heading twisting around unnaturally as it scanned the room with a single, orange eye, wide and unblinking. It felt many life forces, but saw nothing moving in the room, except... the flicker of a candle! Immediately attracted to the light, the monster attacked a sconce on the wall, beating its misshapen wings and biting and clawing viciously, ignoring its surroundings until it had thoroughly decimated the single candle, its holder, and a healthy patch of the wall behind it. The beast ungracefully fell to the ground once the flame was snuffed out, rolled over into a prone position, and froze with its head tilted, waiting for another movement to catch its eye.
  4. Entering Sector 2 Glail grinned. So many questions to answer, and she could help! She loved this feeling of being helpful. "I'm Glail!" she yipped, "I'm a wolf laguz! It means I turn into a wolf! I would right now but I'm sure if I did I would fall off." A hint of sheepishness entered her expression, the cool wind from Ionhazard's movement turning her cheeks rosy. "What's a roe-bot? Is that like a row boat? Ionhazard - Iony? Can I call you Iony?!" she abruptly shouted up at the Commander. He grunted in disagreement. "Okay!~ He said you were one of my friends, but I don't recognize you, but he said you were a wolf too!" she went back to talking to Swift, like they were already the best of friends. She gave the new girl another sniff, despite it looking weird with her being in human form. "You smell new, too, like..." Suddenly, her eyes lit up and she patted the metal she was sitting on like an excited child who just had an epiphany. "I know! You smell like trees! Not the trees around us, exactly, but trees! Where are you from? I'm from the desert! We don't have a lot of trees where I'm from. I've only seen one, but it was nothing like the green ones!" Her face fell for a moment as she remembered that she was lost, some unknown distance from home. She looked past Swift, out across the landscape as Ionhazard exited the pass they were in. Sadly, there wasn't a desert, but it still looked cool and new! The right half of the terrain was hilly and forested, a deeper lusher green than the place they came from. Rough cliffs and hills rose out of the soft landscape, many sporting amazing waterfalls that fed the forest below. The right half was a stark opposite, consisting of bare brown stone and a lot of black smoke, similar to what was coming out of her large friend. So much of the land was obscured by smoke that she couldn't see much of it, besides a dim, orange glow that peeked through the billowing clouds now and then. Dividing the two was a long river, coming from the distant horizon and going all the way up to them before turning right into the forests, then the red mountains, which looked a bit gnarly and haphazard. There was so much all at once, her jaw dropped in awe of the explosion of color! "Woooowwwwww! What is this place?!" she gasped. "Not a wasteland," Ionhazard grumbled, eying the greener half of the land with pertinent disgust. He regarded the nearby smoky land with mild interest, however, guessing that it must be volcanic, or at least a massive wildfire of some kind. "Yeah..." Glail said, enthusiasm drained again. Ionhazard couldn't tell her more than that. At the moment, he was uncomfortable with the idea that he had been displaced completely. He didn't recognize this terrain in the slightest. He heard the blue wolf girl sniff, and thought for a moment. "Don't worry," he assured her, "I intend to make a desert. You'll be at home soon enough." The malice lacing his words wasn't even caught by Glail, as she perked up. "Really? You can make deserts?!" The idea that a dragon laguz could have so much power was unfathomable to her! "Can you make a really long desert? Maybe Daddy will find it, and follow it, and find me here!" she said excitedly. Ionhazard grinned. He hardly needed a small child to usher him into destroying an entire forest. Yet... he needed to locate that signal first. His intuitive threads - and experience - kept telling him it was extremely important. Irritating! "Not yet," he said, turning away from the sorely-tempting opportunity, "but duly noted." He followed the cliffs to the immediate left of him, which stretched into the distance and wrapped around the volcanic region. He would soon have to go over the cliffs, but this was roughly the right direction to reach the signal. "Aww!" the laguz wailed, and she hugged his neck even though it was too wide for her to even dream of getting her arms around it. "Can you do just a little bit? Pleeaase? I wanna see!" The machine stopped yet again. Her cutesy voice was replacing the screeching one of his programming, and unfortunately it was far easier to ignore screeching. He growled to himself as he fought impulse and petty justification with the wisdom telling him better. Still... one patch of trees gone wouldn't hurt, right? There's already this smokey patch on the left side. That meant if there were people here, they were already hurting... Easy prey... So tantalizing was the idea that if he had saliva, his jaws would be dripping from it. So let's assume I do as she asks, he entertained the thought, how should I do it? Spread the fire? Choke out the glorified weeds across from it? Find the source of the river and poison it? Mmmm.... poisoning would be nice. I still have neurotoxin, don't I? No, wait... carbon dioxide. I have more than enough of that, and it's soluble. Better yet, perhaps I can split it into monoxide... Glail stared numbly at the machine as he thought. His face lacked too much expression for her to tell if she had convinced him to help her or not. Making a desert seemed too cool! She had a small doubt that he could somehow carve a desert so long it would find her homeland, but it was worth a shot, right? If he could make deserts, she could only imagine the other things he could do! "Iony?" She tried to catch his attention by rubbing her face on him, but he barely reacted. She shot a puzzled look over at Swift. "I-I think he just does this sometimes..." she faltered, starting to feel silly in front of her new friend.
  5. Oh my goodness, it's like a stuffed animal! A+ on nailing a good, soft, relaxed art style. I stress so much on getting things right, it's nice to have a reminder now and then that nothing has to be perfect. The pastels and soft transitions between colors does a great job of lightening the tone of the whole piece. Keep doing what you're doing!
  6. @Camiuoo No, this roleplay has long since passed away. Some of the other roleplays on the first page in this section are active, but the activity has long pauses. It looks like the Bloodline of Torch is the most recent, with the last post being only a week old. If you want something with more activity than a post every other week or so, you'll want to look in the Freeforms section. You can also try putting up your own RP and see if anyone wants to join it, though if you want your RP in this section or the Other RPs section, you'll have to post it in Unapproved first. Freeforms is the only section where you can post an RP you made right away.
  7. Neea The Sniper model wasn't sure how to react to the sudden kindness she received. She was assured that no one would make her fight, even though the problem of passing the giant drone remained. She peeked at the group past her barrels, managing to choke out one weak laugh through her speaker. "You don't really look warlike..." she said, only to shake her head in dismay. "B-But you don't get it. I'm built to fight, I just..." She faltered, feeling she was betraying her programming either way. It was nice to know they respected her free will, at least, but what should she do? What if the drone finds them and attacks? Would she cower, defying the passionate screeching of the combat model threads, or fight back, tearing apart the pacifist dreamer threads her makers cultured her to have? There wasn't a good balance! She was given a brief distraction from her own problems at the mention of some unknown translator allowing everyone to speak freely. Alethi? Japanese? She's never heard of those languages, but the solemn tones of the people around her didn't give her reason to think they were lying. She also didn't feel augmented, though, and she didn't see a speck of advanced technology on anyone except the broody one in the black coat. Even if he had something to do with it though, he would had to have found some universal language they all understood, then broadcast something, that maybe distorts...? Blast, she was no engineer, and that made no sense. She only knew Xinschi, and no one else claimed to know it! Or maybe... no, if he was translating everything to a simple language like trinary, she would be hearing trinary, not words. She knows trinary. Neea took to staring at the ground, puzzled, her engine valves feeling tight from stress. Her threads were a whirlwind as they tried to piece together the situation, but even in the end, she was only left with theorizing where exactly they were, how they could speak to each other, and how they even came here in the first place. Let's see.... she was on the sand dune... then was here... so a teleport is a likely explanation. Unless this was some kind of mech torture where she was being fed simulations, she definitely wasn't on Zirhon. She could've been kidnapped by the IR, but there were no ships in the area, and the Empire wouldn't have bothered attacking the camp if the IR was hanging around it. So did someone far away teleport her here? Was this an accidental teleport, or an accidental location? If it was intentional, why save her and no one else? While she was thinking, the discussion switched to some glowing objects Tachibik- Tachibi- Ta- Tachibaniki? She and the broody one were holding. They were small and shaped like uniform crystals, yet had some kind of clear, silicon coating on them. Neea flashed her scanner on the one Tachibaniki held out, and received a confusing mixture of chemicals. It definitely was not crystalline nor silicon, but the structure was regular, and the coating came back as some kind of gelatin? An animal product? The two of them had pink ones and yellow ones, with the yellow ones flickering like damaged monitors. A hologram? Yet she was holding it? As bizarre as the objects were, they were only something new on top of everything so far, and Neea made a small, agreeing nod when the robed one suggested picking up more when the group moves that way. Her eye followed the suggested path, and spotted something tall rising past the ruined walls opposite of them. It looked like the giant white and green shzyke that flew past her earlier. From the sounds of it, the others wanted to meet it? "Maybe it can help us," she said quietly, slowly rising back on her feet. Oh dear, she never liked how tall it made her... why did they make her one of the 5-quli-tall models? ---------- Entrance Area "'Storybrooke'?" Ionhazard echoed with a snort. "I already answered you!" This wasn't promising. Unless these supposed supporters no longer used decade-old lingo - which was entirely possible - she should know what he meant by "factions". There was also the possibility that Storybrooke was some kind of passcode referring to the factions; or, it was a pointless town unaffiliated with the struggle of the Machines. He set his jaw, now suspicious. He didn't like being in the position of piecing together strategies and thinking ahead. He just wanted to steal the life from some 100-odd acres of land and scar the earth, readying it for the moulding of a new Machine base. If the girl was part of a supportive faction, so be it - but she better make it clear, and quickly. Glail sat close to the edge of Ionhazard's shoulder, yet kept her eyes on the horizon, revealing the staggering size of the world at this height. Her brow was scrunched up as she tried to pick up the scent of the stranger below, but all of the smoke around them was making it too difficult. It clung to the inside of her nose and threatened to put her in a sneezing fit, which she tried to suppress with some quick rubbing. She still wasn't sure why there was so much of it, and why it smelled so bad - not at all like the bushfires she was used to - but her friend's shoulders rose up in jagged spikes that emitted it. Maybe he ran on fire? She vaguely remembered something to do with dragons and fire. Maybe he had fire in his belly! "Who's down there?" She asked for a second time, upset that she couldn't see the stranger herself, nor hear her very well. Ionhazard's head twitched in agitation. Question, after question, after question...! Too many damn questions! The Commander grew tired of standing around feeling confused and angry. So he opened his jaws and released the tension on one tendril. It shot out of his mouth at high speed, pincers wide, straight for the girl below. Glail's jaw dropped; a tongue?! Well, it wasn't a tongue. More like a living cord that snapped its pincers around the girl before winding back up, pulling her up at high speed. For Ionhazard, it was an easy means of refueling his red matter engine. He didn't intend on eating the newcomer though, not when there was a chance she was another wolf girl, like Glail, and may be useful later. So right before she would be pulled into his jaws, the tendril swung, depositing her a bit roughly alongside Glail before the machine coiled it back up into its sheathing in his mouth. Glail awkwardly jerked forward, like she intended to catch the girl, but hesitated when she landed quicker than she could react. Ionhazard didn't give his second passenger another thought, simply turning again and resuming his path into the next sector. Glail just stared into the girl's pale face for a few more, startled moments, before she broke into a smile. "Are you okay? That looked scary! But I think he likes you!" Her tailed waved happily through the air now that she could finally meet the person! "I didn't know he had a tongue! What's you're name? You smell weird, but not as weird as the man I met earlier. Are you a laguz too?"
  8. Neea Neea shot an offended look at the person in the blue robe. "Of course I can talk!" she said, before feeling confused. Why would that be surprising? She looked at the speckle-fluff person, as he spoke up to answer her, and the blonde girl confirmed what he said in a rather informed manner. Neea's small hopes wilted. So wait... they're lost too? He didn't say he was lost, he said 'us'. Her threads trembled with anxiety. T-They don't know the way back? Something 'pulled' them here? Then the person introduced himself as "Prince Renarin". She didn't know what he meant by "Bridge Four"... was that his row? Yet princes weren't in the military! Oh no, he's a prince. He didn't know the Emperor PERSONALLY, did he?! Neea's growing concerns about the situation she was in only grew worse when a thunderous sound as loud as a bomb suddenly erupted from the other end of the ruins! Everyone jumped, flinched, looked toward the source; she immediately hunkered against the ground, wide eye staring at the cliffs that way. Plumes of smoke still rose past them. That unholy sound, like some kind of hollow, vibrating roar she couldn't identify, had a metallic quality that made it obvious it was the massive drone. Then a mighty death threat followed it, echoing throughout the ruins, and Neea was confused all over again. The drone said it would find a "human". It claimed it had memories. It said it would destroy the world, but most of all, it could talk. Drones can't talk, even hatchlings knew that! So how was a gargantuan drone talking?! The Sniper could only conclude that it wasn't actually a drone, which meant she didn't know what that thing was at all. She did know though, that the deep, growling, malicious voice won't be easily forgotten. She just shook, choosing to remain pressed against the dirt where it felt marginally safer. The colorful blob creatures scattered about hardly seemed fazed by the sound, nor by the great boom that sounded immediately after. They must be truly dumb animals! Renarin asked if there were ideas for getting past the "not-Thunderclast", which by context Neea assumed was the drone. The blonde one in the white coat, who introduced himself as Rudolph Remington - an heir to something about counting other Remingtons? - provided the three most likely options: sneak past the drone, fight the drone, or... befriend the drone? Was he mad? Drones aren't capable of socializing! Fighting it sounded terrifying... as much as she didn't like the cowardly undertones of sneaking past, it was the most appealing option of the three. The blonde girl seemed to share that opinion. Then he pointed out the obvious need for everyone to learn each others' capabilities. Neea just stared at him, trying to ignore the heavy weight she suddenly remembered on her head. She didn't want to fight... she wished she couldn't fight... there were other mechs who liked that! Like... like that brown one that went rogue, and had the Empire all up in arms, and made the rebels hide for months on end. She seemed like she liked a good fight, but Neea? Ohhh, why did they make me a Sniper model? her thoughts moaned, I don't want to shoot anything! I don't even LIKE it! I mean, I might have the programming for it, but I don't think it's running or anything...! At least I'm with these people, she told herself, they seem nice. They're jumpy, but we're all jumpy.... WAIT A SECOND! Neea suddenly looks up, accusatory and filling with indignity on top of it all. "Wait a second!" she shouted, abruptly rising back to her feet, "If you all knew Xinschi why weren't you speaking it before?! What was with all the "buhs" and "gehs" and "mahs", or whatever?! I'm right here!" She stomped her foot, "Don't tell me you don't know it when you're speaking it right now!" She looked at all the strange, flat faces in the group - excepting the long face of the small creature's - second-guessing all the attention she brought to herself and now feeling overwhelmed. "I-I don't understand! You say you were 'brought' here, but something taught you Xinschi! You guys at least know that! And where is this? Why is the sky blue? Why do you all look the same except the pink thing? Why is there a giant drone in the distance?! I don't want to fight it!! I can't fight...!" Neea's composure crumpled yet again as all the questions just came out in a flood, and she found herself crouched down again, arms thrown over her face in distress. "I don't want to go anywhere until I know where I'm starting...!" she sobbed. ---------- Entrance Area It was a miracle that Glail could hear anything over the immense pounding of her "dragon" friend's engine. What sounded like a huge steam engine to a modern person she equated to a clanging heartbeat, like if a golem the size of a mountain had two stones that just bashed together repeatedly. Which kind of fits, considering Ionhazard was like a giant golem to her. Through the monotonous clanging though, her sensitive hearing picked up a human voice, coming from behind them. She turned around just as Ionhazard stopped moving. The eyes on his tails saw what she heard: a new person? Glail clung to the exhaust vent next to her as he spun around, a little unfairly fast for his size, ears flattened against the mighty whoosh! of wind. She still didn't dare look down to see who it was, but she at least knew it wasn't the person her friend was mad at. "Who is it?" she asked, "Is it the Hello Lady?" Ionhazard didn't answer her, and she assumed he hadn't heard her. The robot was instead focused on a wolf, who had shown up from nowhere. Neither the teal-haired person nor the Japanese girl were in sight. The wolf didn't talk, did it? Yet, his tails recorded the wolf appearing, and the voice came out in sync with its approach. Two threads linked up as Ionhazard recalled Glail referring to herself as a wolf. Corpotransation shifters? Did they corrupt Mother Machine's tech? he wondered. He moved with a low whir to look at Glail, still laying on his shoulder. She had attempted to look down at the other wolf, inching toward the edge of the metal, only to gasp and pull back at the terrifying reality of the altitude. Her ears and tail flattened in sync, seemingly real. He looked back at the wolf below him. Also seemingly real. The only difference was Glail was more human and had blue fur instead. Maybe she didn't lie about her faction, he thought. This wolf doesn't know where she is either, but they might know each other. Entertaining that, he decided to try his hand at cheering Glail up, breaking his resting scowl; though he didn't really smile, either. "Look, it's one of your friends," he told her. Glail just looked up at him, ears twitching in thorough confusion. "Friends?" "Another wolf." Hopeful light danced in Glail's eyes, but she hesitated, uncertain if he was applying the term "friend" broadly or not. "Is it Daddy?" she asked, but again, the machine turned away from her, now answering the newcomer: "We don't know where we are," he gestured to Glail, somewhat visible up on his shoulder as she dared to peek again, "but I've located a signal that I'm going to. If you're part of the wolf faction, you're welcome to follow. If you know the teal-haired human though," he barely disguised his snarl, "then you'll be far luckier to leave, before I have a base of operations to hunt you with." "You hunt too?! What do dragons eat? Do you use the operation to hunt?" Glail blurted out innocently. Ionhazard did a mental double-take of the question. 'Dragons'...? Now she's just making stuff up. ---------- [Sector 6] The little ATRS that was sent out across the ocean didn't fly for long before a line of cliffs came into view, tall enough to encourage anything seagoing to detour around them. Thanks to its multi-purpose turbine though, it was easily able to jet up and over the cliffs, albeit sluggishly from the altitude and fighting crosswinds. It was well-rewarded though, and the ATRS sent a clear feed back to its creator of the proceeding valley: Conifers! Conifers everywhere! Immediately the creator felt at home, looking at a forest of dense pine, fir, spruce, juniper, and all manner of other evergreens. In the distance there were some silvery spires, but it wasn't clear what they were. She ordered the ATRS to explore further, and as it did, she noted the long descent and how it spoke of the height of the trees. "This forest must be hundreds of years old..." she murmured to herself. The ATRS continued along near the forest floor, where it was much darker from the conifer boughs linking together like puzzle pieces, only pausing now and then to look at a mushroom, log, or other flora. After ten minutes or so of exploration, it came across a dirt path. It wasn't very wide, and was somehow void of tall weeds and grass. The creator examined the feed as the ATRS chose to go left to see where it led. The path is either new, or maintained, she thought, maybe there's a settlement this way? It certainly doesn't match the two universes near me. She checked on her second ATRS' feed, which she had released just minutes prior to the first one finding the forest. The second ATRS was scooting about the mainland, confirming that it was the alien world she thought it was, and even spooked a couple of bird-like monsters roosting near some lava pools. No sapient thing existed in that universe, nor the aquatic one just beyond her own walls, which meant the pine forest belonged to someplace completely different. She had some theories as to how it was different in the first place, but didn't want to jump to any conclusions yet. So she simply waited and watched, keeping an eye on her first ATRS in case it ran into anything of significant intelligence, simultaneously glad that she kept its speaker installed in the event that it did.
  9. Neea The Sniper model simply watched the newcomers warily. The first one to respond was the one with blond fluff. It spoke very curtly, before - seemingly involuntarily - flattening its hand and moving it up to its face, and saying something. Neea squinted as its voice filtered in and out. What's that? Interference? She moved one rifle and swiped the side of her face, wondering if a bug or a piece of dirt was in one of her microphones, but didn't notice anything dislodge. The peculiarity didn't go in and out of silence, either; rather, Xinschi-uual words! Maybe she was just picking up what she thought was words out of whatever this person was saying... something about a behemoth, and walking? There was nothing to indicate that's what the person actually said, other than the fact that there was a giant drone in the distance... The interference went away when the blue-robed one started talking; the supposed dimorphism, coupled with how the blond one's voice being a higher range than this one's, made Neea assume that one was male and the other female. Or they weren't, but they were definitely different from each other, and the associations would work until the machine figured out what these people were. The people continued talking, showing budding trust, but Neea's observation of them paused when the robed one conjured something out of a long tube with a flared end. The object bobbed, as unstable in itself as the nearby blob creatures were, before it released and floated toward her. The mech automatically stepped back, curious, but a little bit concerned. A bubble? She didn't know they could float around at that size! She had only seen them in pneumatic tubes while helping other mechs with plumbing maintenance; that or very small bubbles in cleaners or surface applicants, like paint or sealers. What's this one made of that made its surface tension so strong? Did these people use it as a replacement for elastic? That would be an amazing tale for her friends back at home. A society that uses liquid tension as elastic...! Assuming I'll ever go home, she acknowledged, eye fluttering with sadness for a second. She flashed her scanner over the bubble before it floated into her and popped, but didn't pick up encouraging data. Scanning her arm where it left a soapy residue didn't reveal much, either. Mostly because she still didn't understand half the compounds the other mechs did. Still, she tried to find the silver lining: the fact that these people knew a compound she didn't made her hopeful that they also possessed the technology to know what's going on, and how to send her back to Zirhon. She couldn't be gone for long... the others would worry about her, assuming they escaped that raid... Of COURSE they escaped the raid. They knew where the tunnels were, she told herself, they're fine. They're always fine. "I'm Tachibana Hibiki! It's nice to meet you all!" Neea was abruptly thrown back into reality at the high, cheerful voice. She looked up in shock at the girl who spoke, who wore yellow and had a smile matching her tone. She didn't know if "Tachibanahibiki" was her full name, or if one of those was a different word, but the rest of those were definitely words, and they made sense! "You know Xinschi?!" Neea blurted out, not realizing that she was now understood by the others as well. "Have you-?! Are we...?" The excitement suddenly died as the mech reconsidered the girl's allegiance. Did she know Xinschi because she met the Empire, or has she met the rebels? Sadly, it was important to know which faction. The other mechs all marveled at how Neea didn't look as neglected as they did, and claimed she could "pass for a proper combat model", so if the girl only knew the Empire she might be able to pose as a lost soldier, instead of immediately declaring "I'm a rebel!" and suddenly finding herself imprisoned... After her tense, awkward pause, Neea lamely ended with, "I-I'm lost. And I don't have a beacon. So um, if you know where the desert is... I can find my way from there. O-Or if this is like, the wrong planet, can I take a shuttle home? Please?" ---------- Entrance Area Ionhazard glared at the small brown human at his first answer, the machine's patience wearing thin. "So you're wasting my time," he judged angrily. He quickly turned his anger to the blue girl on his shoulder, "And you! You never told me where your faction is!" Glail hunkered down further, puppy eyes growing wider in dismay and fear as her "dragon" friend didn't calm down. "I don't know where my faction is!" she yelled at him over his engine, "I-I don't know where I am!" She squeezed her eyes shut and swooped her tail over her face, trying to hide new tears as she remembered she was completely lost, with no idea of where her father or her home was. Unfortunately, Ionhazard was cold to her, snarling loudly at this infuriating situation, coming close to the point of being needlessly destructive. It didn't change for the better either. A bright flash! The Commander reared back in surprise, prompting Glail to yelp and uncurl to grab some handholds, as a new image of - him?! - just appeared out of nowhere! The machine was dumbstruck for a couple of seconds as the human's voice, now at his height, started teasing him. Why that insolent little-!! He wasn't sure if this was a hack, or a trick, or some kind of cloak. So his computer defaulted to an attack. "AAHH!" Glail cried out as he abruptly lunged! She managed to grab the beading of a welded seam, ground down to have many sharp edges she could hang on with, just before she fell off. Ionhazard closed his jaws around his doppleganger's neck, tails slashing forward to slice open the gas canisters on the back, arms poised to prevent retaliation- Except he only heard a metallic crash as his teeth only hit each other. His tails went through and abruptly hit earth, his claws raking nothing. What the-?! NOW it finally dawned on him that this was more likely a hack than a transformation. The illusion dissipated instantly, as if made of smoke. Ionhazard ripped his tail blades out of the earth - taking care to do as much damage as possible to it - before pushing air through his vents to clear it away. Glail flattened her ears against the loud, hollow sound, hauling herself back up onto his shoulder and finding a more stable place to sit, between two very warm exhaust vents. The Commander glared daggers into the torn-up crust. The human was nowhere to be seen. His tail blades had missed the spot by a good fifty feet. His tails lashed, claws curling in on themselves. His threads screeched at him for being such an idiot and attacking an obvious trick! He threw back his head and roared, the note ending in a paulstretch, just to get the fury out of his system. The sound echoed loudly throughout the sector; despite it, the slimes continued on, happy as ever, though the ones in the immediate area still bounced a few inches when he slammed a foreclaw into the ground, and tumbled into each other with delighted yelps. "I will FIND you, human! You hear me?! Your visage is burned into my memories!" Ionhazard screeched, "I will make your world perish!" That was the last echoing note. Ionhazard straightened up, suddenly composed again, and stood still, glaring. Glail, who had simply frozen in place, clutching her head in a vain attempt reduce the shear volume of his voice, allowed the silence to continue for a little longer while her hearing returned. Still, she kept her ears flattened and her shoulders hunched, uncertain if she should speak up or not. She didn't remember anything about dragon laguz being so angry. Was it just this one? "You're not mad at me, right?" she whimpered, feeling as though she was playing with an agitated snake just for speaking up. Thanks to being so close to him, Ionhazard was able to hear her, even through his raging thoughts. Still, he took a second to think of an answer. "No," he said. "What did you mean by his world perishing?" He glanced at her from the corner of his eye, which was previously examining the area before him for any movement besides the slimes. "You should know the answer to that." The wolf girl stared down for a moment, wondering if she did actually know the answer, but only ended up confusing herself further. Ionhazard surveyed the valley once last time, searching for any telltale sign of the human, before scowling and turning around, switching his focus to locating the remote signal he noticed earlier. "Where are we going?" "I'm learning the land," he answered. They both looked at the line of stone in front of them. Stretching to the left, it descended into short brown cliffs, revealing a green-tinted ocean beyond. To the right it stretched up and higher, still cliffs, but grey and not revealing what's behind them. The machine let out a grumbling tone before turning to the right, looking down the path carpeted in the vivid greens of vegetation. Different vegetation, but still irritating lifeforms, to him. He wasn't very inclined to get wet, though, even though it would be a straight shot to the signal. Green corridor it is, he thought in disgust. ---------- Fixing up the little drone was thankfully an easy task, and it was back on its metaphorical feet in no time. Now augmented for the water that flooded the room, the giant mechanism that repaired it now gently slid it into the water, where the camera kicked on its turbine and scooted around, enjoying the free movement. The mechanism took a moment to establish a remote link with the camera, so she could see its video feed. "ATRS..." she decided aloud, "All-Terrain Roaming Scoutbot. I suppose you qualify as one now, hm?" The camera just beeped happily, spinning in circles. She chuckled. "All right, there's a gap right there, between the boards. You can fit through. Let's go see what's out there." The ATRS looked where she was for a second, before driving off through the hole, and into the new world. A world that the machine recognized. She gaped at the startling, familiar imagery. A cave, its ceiling covered in brilliant glowing blue dots, its floor sculpted like terrestrial land by rivers and waterfalls of green liquid. The water, surprisingly clear. Schools of alien fish everywhere, their translucent skin showing off skeletons and organs in the low-light environment. Mineral deposits covering every rocky surface. Fossilized remains in the green brine pools. I know where I am, she remotely told the ATRS, which had stopped in complete wonder. Keep going. Find a mineral deposit that looks like a clump of black ore. Bring it back here. The camera beeped in acknowledgement, and went on the search. It didn't take long for it to find the ore. Taking it back was a whole other story, and the mechanism impatiently waited twenty minutes for some controlled bumping of the camera to "float" the ore up to her. As soon as she had it, she snatched it out of the water and scanned it. Titanium! So this was the planet she thought it was... but how did she get here? She believed in multiple universes, but that had to be one heck of a jump to reach a place only known in fiction! She ordered the ATRS to find the surface of the water and worked on making a duplicate to explore the surrounding caves, all the while wondering and marveling at the possibilities. A teleport? A hack? A dream? A wormhole or singularity? Regardless, she knew she wanted to make the most of it. The ATRS eventually found something even more wild, once it navigated out of the underwater cave system. There was land, but it wasn't the land she thought it would be. Instead, it was a whole other universe, and yet another she recognized! Volcanic and wild, with feathered and scaled lifeforms running across its surface. Even the sounds they made matched her memories. She'll have to make an ATRS to explore up there, too! With new excitement drumming through her system, the machine sent the first ATRS to explore across the ocean, going as far out as two kilometers, which she believed would be safe. Then she put her focus into using the surrounding scrap to make more drones, which she'll need for exploration and to repair her facility. She was so ready to tackle the unknown!
  10. Neea The mech kept looking back and forth, shuffling, and fidgeting in place, uncertain of what to do now. The alien beings with flat faces had stopped talking, and collectively noticed something past her, beyond the corner of the ruins there. She swiveled to look past the wall, and noticed that the small group she previously noticed on the other side of the gap was heading toward them. The movement was hasty, but nonthreatening, and the people looked just as confused as the three next to her. Perhaps the massive drone in the distance made everyone concerned? Maybe they were grouping up to think of a plan? Except, despite all of them seeming to be the same species, everyone moved with a sort of tension. She stared at the wide variety of clothing, colors, and facial structures of these new people, and the blue one's apparent pet. They were so different, even from each other... another nationality? Different clans? No one seems to know anyone, she thought, calculating the vast differences, looking between her group and the next. A lot of them have similar faces. Only the speckled one is tan. Two of these new people have weird chest lumps, and they also have long hair, like the one in loose clothes... dimorphism? Looks like it. She looked at the smallest member of the group, closest in size to a Xinschi-uual: a quadruped with no discernible toes, just strange, flat claw-feet, an elongated face, and poofs on its neck, head, and rump. A tiny horn sprouted from its head. Neea felt a little better, knowing she wasn't the odd one out, but it also led credence to a strange idea: Are we all lost? The speckle-haired one didn't look thrilled about the newcomers, as each person examined the other, judging for trust. A bit awkwardly, it tried to say something - again, nothing discernible to Neea - and pointed over the clifftops in the distance, where thick plumes of smoke were still visible. She studied its expression. Did it know what it was, or was it just pointing it out? No one else looked very certain, just baffled. She wondered if she should try and tell them it was a drone, but she wasn't confident that it even was a drone. It just looked like one, to her. She didn't have much against drones, either; she knew they were programmed to destroy mechs, but so far she's seen more aggression from her own Empire. Maybe it was just because she's a scrap build... but she hasn't exploded or leaked yet. Hopefully not ever, as long as she was out here with these people. ---------- [DISTORTION EVENT] Another warping anomaly appeared over the ocean, across from Sector 6. First the waves stirred up, disturbing the wind and temporarily creating a whirlpool as a massive vortex formed. It was present only for a second before a thunderous boom violently pushed apart the air and water, the hole left behind rapidly filling with rock and magma. The surprised screeches of many creatures could be heard immediately afterward as some force suddenly pushed them into a new location. Glowing sea monsters and fireproof avians alike floundered for a bit while they reoriented themselves. Luckily, no one was seriously injured, though one beast did angrily bark at the universe for the interruption. These universes didn't spawn in quite as gracefully as they needed to, but on the plus side, it meant they had conveniently become a single sector. The anomaly left a rippling effect, like water, causing a few other disturbances in Mul'tilennaya. For one, the seafloor had fractured along Sector 4's border, distancing it from the rest of the sectors and, fortunately for it, further from Sector 3. Unfortunately, it also created an expanse of unclaimed ocean that Sector 3's curse readily entered, greedy for more territory. It has now blocked off Sector 4 from the rest of the continent. Secondly, two people were warped around. Satsuki has vanished completely, and Moash is suddenly inside a forest with red leaves, quite a distance from where he was. ---------- The entrance of Sector 12 could only be distantly heard by those in Sector 1, easily mistaken for anything. When Ionhazard heard it, he dismissed it as a distant event that didn't concern him, whereas Neea prickled in apprehension, assuming it was him. Glail perked up a bit from her hunkered-down position, ears twitching. "What was that?" "Nothing," he grumbled. "It sounded like an explosion! Also is the lady still there?" "She's not there," he snapped. She wasn't kidding when she said she's a puppy, his thoughts muttered. Glail sulked, picking up on his agitation, and tucked her tail closer to her. Her curiosity came back though when Ionhazard abruptly looked up and to the right, in the direction the boom had come from, as though he saw something out there. She didn't dare look down to see the person he was talking to earlier, so she stared out into the distance too. She didn't see anything, particularly because there was nothing to see. Ionhazard was picking up on something completely different: a signal? There wasn't a signal when he woke up. It didn't have a signature attached to it, so he didn't know what it was, just that it was weird to have a signal show up in what he would've easily believed was a simulation; but the humans DDOSed receivers when running simulations so the machines couldn't locate each other. Having a signal here meant that he wasn't hacked. He shot another look down at the bright-haired being he had threatened. So was this the future? These were clearly humans, as far as he was concerned, but it would have to be quite late in the millennium for them to have forgotten everything. Although that was plenty of time for a corpotransation girl to fully believe she was a blue-furred wolf. Ionhazard wasn't known for being imaginative, but he could at least decide that his place was as foreign as it could be. That meant no interruptions from post-war generations. It also meant the other Commanders weren't here. Unless that giant boom was the Archivist falling out of orbit, but that would've been obvious, and the reactor might've gone off and, well, killed everyone. Including him. So that wasn't it. The machine scowled further as the list of curiosities grew. Perhaps he was too bored and was finding things to nitpick. His orders were to wake up, "clean up" for recolonization, and then wait for the ships to arrive. That's it. "What was it?" Glail asked again. "Nothing!" "Was it the hello?" Ionhazard abruptly paused. "What 'hello'?" he murmured back, as quiet as a machine his size could. "I heard a lady say hello," Glail said, assuming that's what her new friend had perked up at. She sniffed the air, before wrinkling her nose in disappointment. "I can't smell anything over you." The Commander disregarded the insult and looked around, searching for another human, but he only saw the person below him who was so friendly before, no one else. Not even the Japanese girl had returned. There were some pink blobs hopping by the gate the girl had likely escaped through, but judging by their behavior and dumb expressions, they were no brighter than chickens. He was inclined to snip at Glail and tell her she was hearing things, and distracting him, but knowing how different this place has been so far, he took her question as a word of caution, and scanned the valley again for anything alive that wasn't a plant. It might not be a simulation, but something could be watching them. ---------- The "nothing" in Sector 12 - that is, the signal he picked up - abruptly jolted back into consciousness. Another computer, it picked up sudden massive damages from all over the place, all linked back to the being's body. She groaned at the dull aching and numbness, an all-too-familiar feeling reminding her of air raids, artillery fire, and guerilla attacks. With the protesting strain of metal, she lifted herself up, feeling where all the cracks and breaks were. She was suspended on an angle, still locked into the ceiling, but nearly separated from it. A number of her plates had broken off. One eye was out from hitting the floor. Her tools were... thank goodness, still responsive. She took a moment to adjust the clarity of picture so she could see in the darkness, and gasped. My compound...! It was hardly recognizable. Plates, beams, drywall pieces and dust, LED fixtures laying broken on the floor... so much to clean, so much to fix... this is the third time this has happened. Oh no, and it was flooded too! "Curses!" she hissed, raising up from the water's surface, though she could barely move another inch. The water was shallow and clear, but as dark as it was, she must be underground. She held her head on an angle, letting it drip dry. One con of being a robot, or at least, this kind: you can't feel what's on you. By some sheer stroke of luck she at least hadn't short-circuited. She hummed in dismay as she assessed remote damages to the rest of the compound. Almost everything had no power to it. Some wings were unresponsive, as if missing. Only one server had survived whatever caused this, equipped with only a stack of blueprints. Seems she was back at square one for building the place. She shook off a piece of drywall, letting it splash into the water, and looked around, not daring to swivel on a broken base. Among the refuse she saw a camera, wet and muddy. Solemnly, she moved a mechanical arm out to grab it, lifting it up and letting the water drain from the components and attached limbs. It was a little bot, and a sore sight, too. "Poor thing..." she murmured. She shuffled through the water with another arm, looking for anything soft, and found a piece of what looked like seaweed, which she rubbed the lens clean with. It was a bit scratched, but nothing that couldn't be repaired. She placed the bot down on the console surrounding her, its tabletop a good foot above the water's surface, and examined its legs. They were in a lot worse condition. She scanned her surroundings, thinking. "We have a lot of leaks. Legs won't help you much, here. But there's a grate... I could bend that into a fan, and that would make a good motor case, and here's a rod... I can make this work." She invited optimism in the situation, trying to ignore her persistent aching. She flicked through the assembly of tools under her, found a butane torch, and was both surprised and relieved when it turned on without issue. "Let's get you fixed up."
  11. I did it! I finally published a single book! Just one though, and my first scif-fi one too. Can't make all of them at once, of course. Here's a sample if you guys want to take a peek! The writing process... well, in all honesty, that part was fine. I did alter a few things here and there as I edited, and the first couple of drafts had the most "little" changes. The final drafts only changed the formatting to make it compliant with the guidelines of the platform I published on. As far as content goes, because I chose to self-publish, I barely edited the content at all, since there wasn't a publisher or editor telling me what will or won't sell - which is both good and bad, in its own way. I had outside help from friends and family to catch typos, especially sneaky ones that form actual words, like "he" instead of "the" and "and" instead of "an". That's pretty much all I needed to do to make the manuscript! Just wrote what I wanted to write. I've proven to myself something about writer's block, too: it's mostly just brain boredom. With the first book I actually ruined my sleep schedule because my brain was too active to sleep. I also kept it occupied with other stories and games, listening to new music, reading books on the histories of physics and math, funnily enough, and finally just being enthusiastic about my book in general. That kept me going well enough to write most of the second book, too! Then I made the mistake of stopping production to work on editing the first book, making it a cover, doing research on where to sell it and how much to sell it for... that, combined with in-life circumstances that kept me from finding new things to do, and the fact that I exhausted myself from the things that used to be new, has caused me to fall into a pit of lacking motivation. Now the second book just sits there, waiting for the ending to be written, and I have to finish it because it's the next in the series. Learn from me. Keep your brain occupied, and don't stop if you're in the middle of writing a book. You can stop once it's written, but any time beforehand and you'll have half a book and have forgotten most of it by the time you're interested in it again. Now I have to climb up out of this pit, and it has not been easy. Most of it is mental stress, since I'm one of those people who hates having half-finished projects laying around, and that loves to fight with my laziness. Fun times. I've at least learned quite a bit about the publishing process in my writing hiatus. I won't ramble about that stuff though, unless any of you are interested in self-publishing. My other books that were unfinished since my last post here are, well, still unfinished, since I kept myself hyper-focused on the one. I also came up with a number of new stories - one of which actually has a full plot! That never happens - so... I pretty much have my work cut out for me, hah hah. I plan on running a sale around Christmastime for my first book, too. I can only run a sale every couple of months, it seems, so I'm being really cautious about when I run them, else I'd do promotions all the time. I'm also looking for sites or mail lists, things like that, so I can show the story to more people. If you guys have suggestions there, or places you go to learn about new books, I'm all ears! I have to say, all this marketing stuff is less fun than the actual writing, but it has to be done. Part of being an author. Well, a self-published one, anyway.
  12. Neea The mech slowly stood back up as the beings continued to talk to one another. She had clearly startled them, but they didn't seem that concerned about her. Instead, the one in white clothes turned and noticed something, and the others mimicked him. Neea stood up a bit taller, still pressing herself against the stone wall behind her. Her curious thought of what had caught their attention quickly turned to dread as an obvious metallic something descended from a short mountain on the horizon. So much of its form was obscured by smoke that she couldn't tell what it had been, but she could see six or seven long, tentacle-like things waving down the mountain behind it. Tails? What sort of thing has seven tails?! She jumped as a distant thud sounded from the thing landing. The one in white turned back to the others and said something urgently. The others seemed to agree. She backed up nervously, wondering if the giant smoking thing was a drone because it was metal, but no drone is that big! It had also headed toward them, and was now hidden by some cliffs, but considering it just slid down a mountain those short cliffs wouldn't keep it back. Neea turned to see if she could run for higher ground, her steps quick, but she only ended up tripping over something that felt like a block of jelly. She faceplanted in the grass and white flowers, scrambled back up on all fours, and swiveled back at the thing she tripped on: one of those goo balls. A blue one, with hard nubs sprouting from its head... back... top... part of it. Its expression was hilariously comical considering her heavy leg was resting on it and making it look like a squashed pillow. She shifted off it and watched it spring back like it was no big deal, before it rolled away and off the edge into a lower part of the ruins. She stared at the space it had been, before looking back at the people next to her. They were alarmed, but the alarm for her was fleeting. The speckle-haired one even seemed to recognize her for a second when it first saw her, the white-clothed one remained serious, and the straight-haired one with looser clothing only looked worried. None of them seemed hostile at all. She just needed to calm down. Blinking slowly to collect herself, she picked herself back up, sheepishly rubbing grass stalks off one leg with her other foot, and then approached the trio cautiously. The smoke in the distance was still behind the cliffs and points of small mountains; that was good, at least, and judging by the others' behavior, they didn't recognize nor want to be near that thing either. She was at least okay with that, so hanging around wouldn't hurt. Any day to avoid a drone literally the size of a building. ---------- Ionhazard The Commander scowled as what he assumed was a human casually answered "no" to knowing where he was. He didn't like that the human was including him with "we" either. He would never associate with such a lowly life-form, even if they could all agree that they were lost! He slammed his claw into the ground threateningly when the human joyously asked for a name, hissing at him. "Problems don't solve themselves if you ignore them," Ionhazard spat. He looked up to check on the Japanese girl, but she had suddenly disappeared. Probably ran away. He went back to grimacing at the small being with bright blue hair, showing all of his serrated teeth. "Ionhazard, your future predator," he answers, "Or your current predator, if you don't tell me what's going on. What year is it? Where did you come from? And where," he now turned to the blue wolf girl on his shoulder, speaking a little quieter - as best he could, anyway - "is your faction? This person obviously isn't part of it. And don't tell me that little white girl was." ---------- [SECTOR EVENT!] Sector 1: Midsection Area A Quantum slime drifted over slowly to a tree in the Midsection, faded from view, almost as though it wasn't even there. The ghostly slime paused before popping fully back into reality and dropping at the tree's base. Unlike the other slimes, its expression was stressed and a little bit hurt, as its tiny slime stomach had been empty for a day. It bobbed around at the base of the tree, searching for something to chew on. The air above the distinct, yellow slime changed color for a second, as though some mist drifted through. A second passed, then again, the air changed, now having a vague shape to it like rippled water. Now the ripple didn't go away, undulating faster and faster until suddenly, it split! The gap in space formed the perfect silhouette of something boxy full of round somethings, then the thing materialized, leaving the ripple to disappear. A crate! It fell just inches in front of the slime's face and the rotted wood shattered like glass, scattering apples everywhere! All kinds of apples! Red, yellow, green, and everything in between. A large number of these apples flew through the tree that wasn't quite rooted in reality, and some of the apples didn't go through to the other side; instead, a distinct pop! sounded for each one and a lemon flew out in its place! The Quantum slime's face lit up, and it belted out a squeal of joy, munching on the new apples and lemons, not caring where they came from. It stirred up excitement among the other slimes in the region, and soon the boisterous, giddy laughter of Pink and Quantum slimes collected on this one spot, in full view of everyone in the middle of the sector. In their feast the slimes dropped plort after plort after plort: the common pink ones, about as useful as the lemons the slimes were eating, and the precious yellow plorts from Quantum slimes, capable of teleporting matter, just as the slimes could teleport themselves. A couple of pink slimes ate these plorts, and instantly doubled in size and turned a light lemon hue, now able to teleport themselves. The plorts are up for grabs!
  13. Glail and and her new... friend? Glail stared up at the giant metal creature as it began to move. It pulled its leg away which made her a little upset. Maybe it didn’t like her trying to hug it. “Who are you. Where is this?” It asked her in a rough voice. Glail covered here ears once again as the voice seemed to echo around the walls of the valley. Pouting she called out to him, “I’m Glail! I’m a wolf! Can you be a little quieter please! You’re really loud!” She called out, covering her ears, the hair on her tail standing on end to display her anger. Ionhazard refrained from laughing, although he grinned. So she believes she's a wolf, hm? How cute, and confirming. Normally it wasn't in his interest to play along, but until he had a grasp of where he was and what was going on, he might as well have an ally for a short while; at least, until he grows hungry. "I can't be any quieter, Glail," he answered, "it's physically impossible." Despite him actually telling the truth, the machine attempted to lower his volume. "So, if you're a wolf, can you sniff out where we are?" Keeping her hands on her ears Glail looked around. “Well it doesn’t smell like my home. My home is really dry and sandy, this place is really green and wet. It’s actually pretty nice,” Glail responded looking around. “I don’t know where we are. I met a couple other people but they don’t either... I miss my dad though,” Glail continued, her voice breaking slightly. “Nice”, the machine’s thoughts echoed, the only nice thing about life is the ability to kill it. Watch it shrivel up and die. Damn, filthy lifeforms. Ionhazard snarled to himself, glancing up at the bright, happy greenery around him. He ignored the girl’s growing distress, considering whether it would be wise to explore first before wiping out life here, or if he should get started right away. He did have orders to set up a new base for the facility once awake. Thing is, he had no contact with any of the other Commanders… so technically it didn’t matter when he started. The machine’s previous entertainment from the corpotransation girl’s behavior dissolved into a frown, which honestly, was how he looked most of the time. Perhaps his next best bet was to find these other people the girl mentioned, and see if they were like her; at least, after he first verified that she is what he thought she was. “You… your father… you must be the idealists, correct? Or one of the other factions that have helped us in the past?” He cocked his head at the blue girl. “It’s okay to tell me. I’ve been one of many machines protecting your faction.” Glail tilted her head in confusion. “Ummm I don’t know. I think my dad was a war hero from what my mother told me, though I don’t see her as often. She said that he protected you guys though so maybe you were allies? I don’t know I wasn’t born until after the war ended,” Glail admitted, hanging her head slightly. That was conclusive enough for Ionhazard. Surprising, the idealists have lasted this long, though clearly history has been muddled. I don’t remember humans ever protecting me, but maybe that’s just how they thought of it. Figures, his thoughts scoffed. He looked back at the girl. Lifeforms are frustratingly efficient with survival, and the girl might know where the rest of her faction is. It would be worth it to group up a little following. “Your father fought for a good cause,” he assured her, deciding to play it smart, “though now we must regroup. I need to scout out a new location for the machines; you can help me.” He offered one hand to her, palm up and open. “First, you can show me where these ‘other people’ are. If they are with us, we can recruit them.” Glail looked surprised at the hand and then looked up at him. “Well I only met two people. And I don’t know where they were from they both dressed funny. The girl was nice but the boy smelled funny. I don’t know if they’re who you’re looking for,” Glail said as she leaned in and sniffed the hand before climbing up onto it. Ionhazard stared at her. That wasn’t a direction, but knowing humans, they wouldn’t have traveled far. He didn’t make a comment and brought the girl up to shoulder height, before standing up, forcing the rock piles that had collapsed around him earlier to settle further down the sides of the pass. He disregarded them. Glail held on tightly to the joints in his hand. Wow this was really high up. The area around them shook as the rocks crumbled as he moved. When the hand seemed to stabilise glail raised her arm and pointed back the way she came. “I came from over there,” She said. That’s better! he thought, feeling more satisfied. It was just ahead of him, in a somewhat larger, rounder valley past the mountaintops; if you could call them mountains. They were much smaller than he expected, more like glorified hills. As tempting as it was to bust through the mountainside - if he even could - it wasn’t wise, so instead he picked up his claws and stuck them into the mountain, lifting himself up it. The girl seemed to be holding on fine while he crawled between the brown, barren peaks into the next fertile valley, scattering rock down where he had been. It only took one reckless slide to descend into the valley, gouging the stone with his claws as he braked against gravity before he hit solid, grass-carpeted earth. Not the most graceful descent I’ve ever done, but at least I didn’t destroy anything. Not that it matters once I set up base for the machines… Ionhazard made a mental note to keep a ping out for Archivist the next time the Commander swung around in orbit. Of all the Commanders, he was the one Ionhazard knew was still awake and functioning, even if just barely. On that note, he briefly wondered just how much time had passed for him to be in such a drastically different place than he started in, but figured it wasn’t important; especially after he set his eye on two humans, standing within the valley. Even with his great height, his cameras could pick out their skin color, their heights, their hair and clothing… what struck the machine as odd though was that they didn’t match any nation he knew: one appeared to be a Japanese girl wearing a short dress, who was farthest away, and the other was a… person in a suit, it wasn’t clear if it was a boy or a girl, who was practically at his claws. Judging by the crazy haircut, this person wouldn’t be part of any faction Ionhazard would trust, anyway. He squinted, immediately uncertain of what he was looking at, but these people didn’t remind him of the blue girl he was holding, so chances are they weren’t anyone he should concern himself with... well, unless he needed a snack. Or unless they’re corpotransations as well, he reminded himself, but it still didn’t quite click to him; Why would a human go through the effort of acquiring corpotransation just to turn into another human? It wouldn’t protect it. He thought for a moment if he should just eat the two humans, but waited to see if the blue girl would have something more to say. “Wow, we’re so high up! Also where’s all the smoke coming from is that you?” Glail wondered allowed, gazing out over the green fields. Ionhazard just refrained from letting his amusement show. How charmingly naive. She was more interested in the view than the people below him. He looked expectantly at the closest one, scrutinizing it from afar, before shifting his gaze so he could keep the Japanese girl in his peripheral. “I don’t imagine either of you know where we are?” he rumbled.
  14. Neea Neea heard something akin to a blade whistle past her after she withdrew from the edge. She barely had time to process the sound before programming forced her to drop onto her belly, not taking the chance that it was coming for her. All she could think when she abruptly found herself prone was, A weapon? An attacker?! The whistling thing hit the ground with a solid thunk. It was followed by a tense silence, then some scuttling beneath her. The fact that it didn't whip by again made her wonder if it had been a bullet and someone was shooting at her, but oddly enough, it didn't come from the people she was near. It had come from the sky! The mech looked up really quick to see if she could spot something up in the clouds - maybe one of those giant shzyke-looking things? - but saw nothing. Maybe the one giant, flying creature she saw was the only one? One giant shzyke is enough for me, she thought, though there must be more... I'll worry about that later. Neea circulated a bit more air, slowly to try and calm herself. You're armed. You can talk to those people. Stop being a wuss and just do it! Despite her little self-pep-talk, the Sniper model still hesitated to combat-crawl to the edge again, still frightened by whatever unknown capabilities the fluff-headed people had, and whether there was a shooter waiting to get a good shot at her. The two stressed-out threads ran parallel with each inch she crawled forward; the inside of the mech's mind was starting to feel unbearable. No sudden movements, no sudden movements, no sudden movements... She pulled herself to the edge and peeked over. She didn't see a blade or a bullet hole, but there was a third addition to the tense group, nearly identical in likeness except its fluff was yellow, and its clothes were as pale as its face. It, too, glanced up and noticed her. She just froze, even while the thread concerned about the possibility of her being sighted in by a scope started to panic. Finally, one of the strange people - the one with yellow and brown hair - started making noise. Not frightened noises, or animal noises; this was clearly rhythmic and intentional. It sounded vaguely like speech, but it definitely wasn't Xinschi. She didn't have a clue what this thing was saying! It was speaking so slowly and yet so quickly all at once. Juss... tugree... haa... haa-puh? Neeng? While she tried to figure it out, one of the other beings definitely understood, and started talking back, in the same language! Fum-fumeelar, it-dih... it-dih, okay, uh... for... srr...vaiv? She tried to focus on the behavior of the people below her, to figure out what they were saying, to determine who knew who just as she was taught, but the panicking thread wouldn't wait forever. Bullets don't wait! One shot and she was gone! A second could be the shot! This second could be the shot! Or this one! Or this one! Scree-scra-scra-scra-FWUMP! Neea suddenly went into a scramble and threw herself off the edge like a hot iron impaled her! She fell in an undignified heap in front of the strange people before rolling over and flattening herself against the wall, looking up and expecting to hear a shot......... None came. She slumped down, pink eye wide in distress, feeling ridiculous and still scared, not fully understanding what was going on; and what was even better is now she put herself between all three aliens. Great job getting yourself surrounded! her combative side snapped; not that it had much influence over her. She looked nervously at each being, not knowing what would happen next and keeping her arms pointed at the ground. Her main rifle she couldn't help... Oh Gryn, unless I hit the one- she suddenly realized, but the thought ended with a little relief when she looked to the left and saw it wasn't injured. She shriveled up uncomfortably, her voice coming out tiny and weak from her speaker: "Uh... uh... shzik?" Why should I bother apologizing to them... ---------- Ionhazard The sensors registered clean, moist air. The temperature had changed. The smog and dust he had settled in was gone. Yet, the subconscious did nothing more than record the oddity and resume its sleep. Lick. What's this? Moisture? The sensors didn't mind. Could have been anything. Again, it was recorded, then the computer ignored it. “Hello!?... Are you a dragon!?” That shook the computer up. That voice was distinct: human! The low thrum of the machine's engine abruptly kicked up a gear, then the next, then the next, up until it hit full load, priming itself as complex layers of software were shaken from sleep mode. The engine coughed for a second before thrusting full plumes of thick, noxious smoke from the exhaust vents, expelling a few embers with it. The machine's eyes lit up a brilliant orange - one on its serpentine face, and one on two tails each - the engine reset back to first gear, and suddenly the machine found electricity reaching throughout his form. It had been a long nap. He anticipated that. He didn't anticipate the flood of colors and light in his cameras. He snarled and blinked, shying away for a second before looking back to glare at the landscape. "What the hell?" he muttered. It was an island! Well, maybe. It was definitely a small spit of land, stretching out into the ocean. Mountains came in on either side of him, blocking much of his view, but he could still distinguish the vibrant greenery, blue sky, and the grey ruins of something. It looked like buildings, but they certainly weren't the buildings he had collapsed in. He didn't have a good line of sight to the ocean, but the advanced atmospheric sensors told him all he needed to know about the place: long story short, it wasn't where he stopped. That meant something moved him. The first thing the machine did was look around at his level. Mountains to the left, mountains to the right, the stretch of land up ahead, and behind him - without needing to turn around - he saw the happy greenery stretch out farther, past another bottleneck in the mountains which turned just enough to be inconvenient to him. So, if he was on an island, he at least wasn't at the end of it. More somewhere in the middle. Then the machine looked down, searching for the face to the voice that woke him up in the first place. There was something small and blue by his left claw. He bent over for a closer look, ignoring the terrible scraping sound as his back plates creaked from the motion, showering sand down from their joints. Well... this is new. The humans must have made corpotransation public, he thought, staring at the tiny person, though granted, all things were tiny to him. It was a she, with somewhat darker skin, vibrant blue hair, and canine ears and a tail to match. What he normally dismissed as a cosplay was clearly real as the ears were twitching and the tail wrapped around his claw, evidently not made of pipe cleaner. What was really odd is that she didn't look the least bit afraid, hugging him like a lost teddy bear. A fifty-five foot tall, metal teddy bear. Ionhazard tilted his head at it, optical mechanisms clicking as he studied the girl. She was definitely human. No human was this comfortable around him, the iconic killing machine, Executioner, commander of... wait, were the other Commanders here? He zoned out for a second, noting with dull interest that he was alone. No other pings entered his mind. Hmph. The rest of the Commanders must still be asleep, and if Archivist is out of orbit, it'll take a few hours for him to circle back around, he figured. He looked back at the girl, still staring at him and trying to be all cutesy. He recalled Mother Machine saying there was still a small support group back on Earth, but he didn't believe it was real. What sane human would ally with him? Then again, what sane human would pilot a manufactured furry body? Where the hell was he, anyway? Ionhazard removed his claw from the girl, though not with intention to harm since she might actually be one of the crazies who identified as a machine and helped with the war; he could give those people an ounce of respect for ratting out so many military bases for him. "Who are you, he asked rudely, the rough voice echoing off the valley walls, "and where is this?"
  15. Neea The person she approached did notice her, quite quickly in fact. Both their eyes widened as they locked on each other, and just like her, the other person didn't move, nor made a sound. Staring into this things face didn't help Neea muster any more courage. It was fleshy, and brown, and had two eyes and a very small mouth. It didn't look menacing, but civilized things didn't need fangs or claws to be deadly. She still expected for it to have some kind of electric baton or a plasma gun or something that could take her out quick. She could rely on her reflexes then, right? Neea was so fixated on this person that she didn't notice the one laying on the ground beside it was awake until it started moving. Before it was immobile, seemingly incapacitated, so she thought she wouldn't have to worry about it. Now though, this person - who had longer, straight black fur on its head, and wore some kind of long, blue blanket - had pushed itself off the ground, and grabbed some kind of smooth stick nearby. Neea's threads devolved deeper into worry as she stared at that stick, her eye shining a bright pink. Two seconds passed. The second person looked up at her. Fwoosh! Up on its feet! "AA!" Neea couldn't help but shriek out surprise at the sudden movement. Immediately her combat programming screamed to attack, but she didn't have the pipes! So she just yanked back to the ledge, opting to take cover instead and fully expecting a bullet or a rock or something to come flying at her. "Itnes kana ineesa tek tisnaiai za idikia!" she yelled apologetically. Please don't be mad at me! I just don't know where I am! Where am I?!
  16. This wasn't Zirhon. Her last experience on Zirhon had been scrambling up a sand dune, thrusters roaring after her, the screeches and threats of Superiority models closing in. All she could see was sprays of sand and the crest of the dune coming so painfully slowly. They were too close to attack, but they were close enough to grab her. For each passing second she could almost feel the claws grabbing her- -but then they weren't there. The dim crest of the dune suddenly flashed to a bright mixture of green and blue! The Xinschi-uual mech who was fixated on climbing up slick sand suddenly screeched as she found herself abruptly falling forward. Her attempt to backpedal only confused her senses. Which way was up? Which was down!? The sand was stone and the sky was blue and it was so bright-! She forced herself to run forward again and immediately tripped. Clunk! The shock reverberated through her body as she hit the stone face-first. Her arms found some sort of gap under the stone and she wrapped them around it, hugging the surface to stay stable. For a few moments her confused threads fully expected the weight of a Superiority model to land on her, pinning her to the spot, but... there was no impact. No roar of thrusters. No angry Xinschi directed at her cowardly back... Neea, a Sniper model banned by the government who designed her, assembled only by the loving hands of persecuted Xinschi-uual, slowly looked up. Blue! The amount of deep blue was utterly shocking. It was clearly daytime, and the blue was the sky. The sky wasn't blue, it was yellow... but this was definitely blue, and faded to a light turquoise at the horizon. The mech looked down at the stone that had appeared from nowhere. It was a more familiar grey color, almost the color of the sky she had expected to see, and was assembled from disproportionate bricks. Somehow they all held the shape of this narrow path perfectly... or at least, what she thought was a path. It seemed to dip down rather abruptly in front of her, and she could feel gravity trying to tug her that way because of the weight of her engine. She couldn't see where it went, but not far from her was a narrow, tall mountain range, consisting of brown stone and rising up out of more blue... water? Neea's eye widened, and carefully she pushed herself up and walked backward up this strange path until she found the crest of it. Then she swiveled slowly, taking in her new surroundings. No way this was Zirhon! The sky was blue, and there was water for miles, and it was also blue! Far below the narrow path she was on she could see a great expanse of green, stretching ahead and behind her. It looked like it was once a taller peninsula, but some strange ruins - all built with the same disproportionate brick - covered and penetrated the land's core. Some parts of it had fallen away, leaving big holes that led to more water below. She didn't recognize the architecture at all, and the amount of green on it was mind-blowing! There was so much grass and vines, and there were these weird puffy trees with tiny yellow blades on them, vaguely resembling leaves. Below them were poofs of red foliage with the same semblance. The "leaves" were so thin... were the plants storing water somewhere else? They looked nothing like succulents. Yet, with the rich, lime-green grass carpeting every level surface, maybe they didn't need to? The mere idea was like magic to the mech. Her previous terror fading away, she gave the air in front of her a cautious scan. Nitrogen! The air was nitrogen! That explained the blue skies! It was extremely wet too, to the point that Neea briefly worried about rusting, but her curiosity destroyed any concern. This same curiosity prompted her to look around some more, to learn about this bizarre green place that had somehow saved her from the redemption lines of the Empire. There were brightly-colored blobs along the landscape. She had been so taken aback by the green and the blue everywhere that she nearly missed them. They were obviously alive to some extent, as they bounded around aimlessly, sometimes jostling each other or falling off cliffs. They didn't seem the least bit alarmed when they did fall. She stretched her camera foci to zoom in on a particular group: a pink blob, and two grey blobs, both with beaming faces. The grey blobs had little points on their heads, and blobby tails on their bums, but the pink one was just a blob. It didn't look the least bit sad that it was just a blob, gleefully hopping onto a grey blob's head and somehow balancing there. Neea didn't have a clue what these things were, but she felt safe just looking at them. They were like big, happy water balloons. Suddenly streaks of green flooded Neea's vision, making her flinch back and reset her cameras. What was - whooaaa! The mech was temporarily taken by awe as a huge creature with glimmering green wings flew past her! It went by so quickly that she couldn't get a good look at it, but it had a white body and some yellow bits and a tail. The creature flew away to circle the landscape before landing on it, not too far from her. Neea looked around for other creatures like it, but only spotted several, much smaller creatures scattered about, and an arching piece of metal in the distance that looked vaguely organic, which wasn't moving. The smaller creatures were bigger than the blobs, but not even half as big as the flying creature. Like her they were bipedal, but measured smaller, and they had poofs of hair on their heads. They must be civilized, too, because they wore some kind of clothing, though each one wore something more different from the last... It suddenly dawned on Neea: the far, far descendants of whoever built these ruins? Did they bring her here? What was this place, anyway? Maybe you could ask them, one of her threads said. Immediately she felt a flash of anxiety. What if they're dangerous? she asked back. She didn't have an answer for that, other than to be reliant on herself. I've never been reliant on myself... there had always been another mech... With that thought, Neea looked around to see if she could find any familiar faces, metal or scaled, but not one living thing from Zirhon was present here. It seemed... she was the only Zirhon native in this place. I'M ALONE! her mind screamed. Neea gasped and roughly shook her head, shoving down panic. No no, it's fine! There are no Superiority models! It's okay! The others still made it... It's fine, you're not alone. There are other people here. But they look weird and would be scared of me, she thought. Yet, it was the same thought she had though when meeting a Xinschi-uual for the first time, one of the race who built her. He wasn't scared, not in the slightest. Overjoyed, for sure, and that's an understatement. These new people though looked nothing like Xinschi-uual: they were so much taller by comparison, despite being short compared to her, and she didn't see a scale pattern on them and their faces were flat. They might not like her at all. But what if they did bring you here? They wouldn't be scared, her threads butt in, Heck, you're more scared of them, right now. I don't know them, she argued, it only made her feel conflicted, and she hummed uncertainly to herself. ...I need to do something, though. It took a few minutes, but eventually Neea decided that she needed to talk to one of these clearly-intelligent people. After a far-too-cautious descent from the path she was on - which turned out to be a massive archway rising up from the ruins - she landed on a large tower beside it, and walked up to its inland corner closest to the people and the blobs below her. Being a bit closer didn't help her make a decision on who best to approach, though. The two people closest to her already seemed tense from a third person nearby. Farther to her left she could see a tall person who was largely brown, and across from him a good distance was another person standing at the foot of the giant flying creature that passed her earlier. That thing looked wild... she didn't want to get close to it and find out it had a taste for metal. Actually, are these people geovores too?... No, I better play it safe, Neea quickly decided. She looked down and decided she didn't want to cause a stir among three people who looked so wary to begin with, so she pulled away from the edge and wandered along the tower top, nearing the last person she saw: the tall brown one. Granted, even upon nearing the person, it was still short relative to her, but her scope told her it was tall compared to the other people she had seen. The fluff on its head was curly and streaked by yellow - a pattern funnily close to hers - and its upper clothing was dark blue and its legs grey. It had been walking toward her position when she came toward it, so by the time the tower she was on stopped it was almost beneath her. Again, Neea hesitated to say anything, simply leaning over the edge and staring down at it; which worked out fine until she put her foot right on the edge and the brick sank a little. It wasn't too drastic, but it did make a loud scraping sound and shower down some loose dirt, the roots of the vines holding it together compacting down under her weight. She froze at the noise. Normally she'd run. This creature would definitely have heard that. She needed to talk to it though, so she couldn't run. So instead she stood there, terrified, and speechless. Hopefully it won't be hostile... ---------- Much farther from the overly-anxious mech, another thing, much bigger, came into Mul'tilennaya, in the joyous sector of slimes. The warp wasn't perfect: his sheer size caused many of the nearby cliffs to crumble and fall in a great roar of soil and stone, as though a block of dynamite had gone off in the mountainside. Thankfully no one was nearby to be buried, but the noise could be heard for a mile, and the distinct, slumped form of something big and metallic sat in the area. For whatever reason, it wasn't moving... at least, not yet.
  17. There was a sudden ripping sensation from his side as the mech pulled his attacker's limb taught. He didn't know if he should expect to drag this tentacled-human with him, or for the tentacle to release him or fight with him, so he barely gave it a second thought when the limb abruptly released, nicely marring his plating in the process. Typheus immediately braked and flew back, pursuing the tentacle, flying aft just in case it tried to spear him again. There was a scream from its origin, some crazed ranting, normal agitated noises. The tentacle then swung, giving Typheus a clearer view: the human had now turned into a completely black thing and was wrapping its limbs around the other human that had tails, which was distinctly different by his orange glow. It seemed like a great distraction, and from his peripheral he could see Fiddlesticks standing up slowly, not in immediate danger. So this other tailed human must be a significant rival to this black thing. Then some unfortunate person suddenly blinked in through the Gateway, landing squarely on the black creature's head, causing it to buckle. It stood up - no, the creature it was riding stood up - and casually disregarded the beast. Another human, and a horse? Figures. Makes for an even better distraction though. Typheus dove toward the black creature while it was weak and braked above its head before shutting off his thrusters, dropping down over the top of it with a heavy thud. He unsheathed his blades and placed on foot on its neck, putting enough weight on it to get the message across to stay still; if this thing still had a human body underneath, he will be quick to disengage it. The only thing stopping the mech is the question of whether the black form was just as infuriating as the tentacles. He studied it, gathering clues, ignoring Lara as she approached the newcomer to explain what was going on. This thing behaved like flesh, but so did the tentacles... eyes are common weak points, so if it tried to struggle he could at least blind it... Typheus looked up at a sharp hiss ending in a short, metallic shriek, like a steel beam was moved across another. Fiddlesticks was crouched low about twenty quli away, still uncertain of putting her full weight on her legs after the missile torched her, glaring daggers into the black thing. "What are you waiting for?! Kill it!!" she screeched, almost cutting the end of Lara's explanation off. Typheus prepared to retort that he didn't know how to kill it, but that would be a stupid thing to say if this thing could still understand words. "We need to see what the XDRS wants to do with it," he said instead. "That thing is not worthy of imprisonment," she snarled, shooting her glare back at it before leveling it with the Superiority model. He said nothing, holding back his real thoughts on the matter. This was the XDRS's turf, and he wasn't appointed by them to make any decisions about newcomers going berserk, setting the Gateway on fire, or beheading tentacle monsters that nearly killed everyone - barring the fact that Fiddlesticks didn't help, thinking her space-age tech could at least blast the guy back a few feet. With that thought, he glanced back at what he presumed was the entity's feet, but they didn't look like anything with good grip, nor were there puncture claws like what he and Sniper models had for stabilization. More multiverse magic, probably, his thoughts growled in frustration. The mech sighed by flushing out his air intake, removing some built-up exhaust from having flown back into his trail too often. "What are we doing with this?" he asked Lara, gesturing to the black monster under him. Before she could answer though, another voice came from the left: Xander. So now more agents arrive. Typheus took the man's assurance with silence. Deal with him how? What sort of arrangements? How did he know this thing was a human underneath when he just arrived? Did he watch? The Superiority model's mind lingered on the last thought. Just standing back, watching everything... This reeked of the Empire's practices. He didn't think the XDRS was malevolent, by far, but his threads had turned to defense and distrust. It only reminded him, yet again, that neither he nor Fiddlesticks belonged here. They were high-strung military mechs on the run from their Empire, trying to complete a personal mission that would hopefully have an impact on the war in general, or what they were told again and again was a war. As flippant as the Empire was about it, it was no war. It was something more agitating. Almost as agitating as the fact that the both of them still haven't fought a significant battle and have been given few reasons to trust the XDRS as allies. This almost made it; until it was abruptly ended by multiverse magic. He knew he was going to hear for days from Fiddlesticks about how she just wasted a missile. The Superiority model hasn't had much time with mortals, but he knew they loved magic. These past hours have only taught the mech that magic was extremely annoying. Apparently, the science of Zirhon did not meld well with multiverse magic. Typheus grumpily stepped off the black creature, who was still immobile, and marched over to Fiddlesticks. Recognizing the metaphorical wall in his eye, she stiffly stood up, careful not to crush her still-malleable legs, which were close to being cool enough to walk on. He tapped on right arm, leaving a dent in the softened metal, and, not pausing in his step, went over to the podium adjacent to the scene of the fight and opened his emitters. Fiddlesticks very carefully followed him, ignoring the words of the people behind her, while he searched for a signal. It wasn't long before he figured out how to open the Gateway terminal and went to work. Fiddlesticks crouched down opposite of him, enough to block the view of the terminal from most of the others. She stared at his calculated determination. This place was grinding on his wires too, wasn't it? He always had to investigate new things before he knew what to do with them, but ironically enough, they were always too lawless for his taste. Ironic, because he stuck around with her. Well... perhaps now, they would actually go home. At least they would actually know what to do, instead of running around here like a gelustrik with most of its heads cut off. It took a while for Typheus to get the Gateway activated. Fiddlesticks stood guard when her hull had cooled enough, in case anyone tried to interrupt him. Once the suspected coordinates were in, the two machines stood on the center podium, and with a single blink, they were gone. ((EDIT 9/5/19: Poof.))
  18. ((Before anyone asks for the six-hundredth time, yes, the missile has gone off. It went off when Dimitri countered it (which just made it detonate early, as I showed with the image on Discord), which would be Doc's most recent post before this one.)) Typheus had flown way out of range of the blast zone. He heard it go off - the massive boom, the shower of earth and dust that the force had kicked up, the surprised yelps - but not much else; then he was clocked in the wing by something big. Expecting the impact to be debris, he over-corrected his balance to try and dodge it only for something to land in his outstretched claws. Human?? All he caught was a mass of blue with some white and yellow on it. It flopped like a living thing, clearly unconscious and smoldering a bit. Suspicious of what that might mean, he killed his speed and spun around, ready to deflect any tentacles chasing him, yet there wasn't one; apparently those things still had size limits like everything else and the ones in pursuit had shrunken back to help their owner. Lowering his altitude to a safe distance to place the human onto the ground first (not questioning the... tights?), Typheus darted back, returning to the scene of the battle. The grass that hadn't been on fire wasn't spared now, and the soot of what had been grass was now scorched white and black. A small, slightly-sunken epicenter of what is best described as melting earth sat just feet from the aggressive human; it looked like the tentacles that had been chasing the mechs had shrunken back to shield against the blast of force and heat. Frustratingly, that meant the missile literally did nothing to him. Fiddlesticks was appropriately fifteen to twenty feet from where she had been standing, not picking herself up immediately. Her face and front glowed as brightly as her extremely-annoyed red eye. He had only seen that once, where she had to break up a standoff between the two of them and a number of Superiority models; being half-molten (again) was not a great situation for her. Oh, Fidds... he mentally sighed. A quick couple of glances showed that everyone else wasn't much better off: the much lighter combatants had traveled a good distance, possibly okay, but no one appeared dead. That was good at least. Surely there were some burns, but it was nothing that this fancy multiverse base couldn't fix, right? That bird-masked lady seemed to know exactly what to do with Yusei, and Duke didn't have tetanus, somehow. Massive burns should be nothing. He practically laughed aloud at the thought. What a casual way to think of an explosion in your face. Despite the temporary interruption, it just seemed to make the tentacled man angrier, which resumed the fighting as before. One of the other men behind Twilight pulled a similar look, glowing and sprouting tails as well. Typheus hovered and glared for a couple of seconds just to make sure he wasn't going to pull anything funny, but rather than that, the man decided to charge over the searing earth toward the tentacle human. Initially thinking of how stupid that was, the Superiority model told himself that at least he'll distract his target and keep those tentacles away from Fidds. Another glance at her confirmed that she was still holding very, very still, waiting for her hull to cool down, so he landed next to her, one knee on the ground so he was less conspicuous yet still ready to fend off any tentacles that came their way. He watched the battle for a bit, the dying sizzle of the grass quickly drowned out by the sounds of combat. Studying the movements of the tentacles, he noticed that the human controlling them used them as shields twice, and they were tough, yet they moved fast and seemed to easily change momentum; they were more trying to pierce their assailants than swinging or hitting them. Maybe they were very light? If they're light, and I can move fast enough... I can't prove I can move fast enough if I had simply moved out of range... thrashing might work... He pondered the sudden idea, which was the sort of brash, reckless thing Fiddlesticks would do without thinking, but hey, maybe all it needed was some thought and it'll be enough to work. Typheus stood back up, keeping his wings flared, and waited for a good opening. Right when the blonde is distracted... there! The mech burst into a run, kicked on his thrusters and shot forward, claws wide and aimed for the human. He initially had the element of surprise, but missed by a margin of a few inches when a tentacle interrupted the path ahead and he was forced to fly to the side; at worst he singed a few hairs on the way past from having to push thruster fire that way. He uttered his curse silently, now knowing that the tentacle-human will see him coming. He let his momentum carry him out of range, spun around, and shot back toward the human, but now a tentacle was ready and swiftly knocked him down into the ground. The impact dazed the machine, but he picked himself back up anyway and tried to dodge the tentacle; nope! It hit him again and this time he let out an audible snarl as it sent him tumbling back along the ground. Thoroughly annoyed, Typheus tried to dodge it for the third time, this time distancing himself from the fight so he was out of reach and had plenty of time to calculate how to do this. The tentacle wavered just ten feet in front of him, almost like it had its own mind, waiting for him to move again. What is it humans say? 'Third time's the charm'? He looked at all of the empty space above the tentacle: plenty of maneuvering room for both of them, but it meant he'd have to pull the tallest, shortest dive he could in order to get the human. Let's see if it's true. He launched off, the tentacle quickly reengaging with him. He ignored it, focused more on his target. In retrospect, he would have been able to grab the human just fine had he not relied on him being so distracted. Maybe it was the fact that Typheus' flying was too loud and obvious, or maybe the tentacles did expand the human's senses, but either way the mech's swipe wasn't as successful as he hoped; at the same time, he wasn't sure how successful it had been. All he knew is he hit something, he wasn't holding something afterward, and he was spinning through space and half of him was stiff. It was only after he flew forward at full speed for a couple seconds did he feel something slip from under his right side and his thoughts came through a bit less garbled. The first thing he noticed as the bright red notification about hull damage in multiple areas, the most alarming on being the area the stiffness slipped from, which was just next to his computer. Alarmed, Typheus switched to sporadic flight, trying to dislodge whatever weighed down his right side, but it was stubborn. He then tried to look at the rest of him, but he couldn't twist or pivot anywhere. It was like he was skewered through, from ankle to wrist, with two wings caught - blast it all, it was a tentacle, wasn't it?! One probably tried to spear him but only caught half his body and was now stuck there. He had to get out of range! Immediately the mech diverted course toward the sky, going straight for the stratosphere. Once this gnarly thing was pulled away from him, he would have to try a different tactic.
  19. Fiddlesticks stopped firing when the black, writhing masses she was targeting abruptly retreated. Her eye followed them back to the source, turrets still spinning in case they tried anything funny. The source... was a human? Another one of those not-humans! one of her threads sparked in agitation. What are those, butt extensions? Did I even damage them!? Her blast shield narrowed when she failed to see any holes in them, as they surrounded the human and encased him in a sort of black shell. Curse it all! She ignored the other sounds on the field, keeping her eye on the shell as the last of the attacks hit. Something that looked like a laser - but she wasn't about to assume things anymore, with all of these not-humans around - lingered on the shell for a bit too long. It blew open! Fiddlesticks managed to dodge in the nick of time thanks to split-second programming, her right microphones catching the rush of air as a new tentacle shot past her. So it's fighting back, now! She attempted to counter with a hard elbow downward, and she definitely hit it - it was definitely there - but the shock and resistance of the impact briefly stunned her. Rock?! The tentacle barely dipped into the ground, merely swinging its tip to surround her. It was fast! She ducked and slide under it, matching its speed, but not going much faster; it was quick to snake around and try to skewer her. There was a clang and the vibration traveled up her left arm as it glanced off her, knocking her to the side. Her annoyance escalating, she remembered a similar experience with tough tentacles in the past sooner than Typheus, and ran down the length of her attacker, striking a bayonet in it; but nope! All she succeeded in doing was filling the air with a horrendous screeching sound as its tip ground down on the thing's form! With a frustrated yell, only semi-aware of the tentacle's sharp tip rushing after her, she jumped and diverted her momentum into one hard kick, both power-jumping pistons launching at once. Finally, a result! The tentacle was pushed away from her, but not as far as she would have liked. It only gave her a second longer to glare at it before it rushed again, forcing her to dodge yet again; it wouldn't be worth it to waste more bullets, if they couldn't even pierce it! Typheus was quicker to react to the black mass headed his way. It was a bit irritating that it came straight for him when there were so many other assailants; it would have been nice to study them a bit longer. He swiftly darted to the right of it, unscathed, then stopped and turned a 180 to counterattack. Cling! Same result as before. The blade bounced off and nearly threw him off balance. The tentacle had definitely reacted to the impact before, and it did again, this time sweeping around him. Assuming it was a flank tactic, Typheus darted back around and spun, this time throwing out a kick. He managed to hit the side of it, still to no avail, but at least it kept it distracted while he tried to figure out how to attack it properly. He remembered the Mother Snatcher drones from a couple years ago... these somewhat resembled their heads, and those had to be cut lengthwise, else you would just dull your blades. This black thing had no apparent armor or direction though; not even the tip was visible when it aimed itself and tried to spear him again. This time he managed to dodge with only a clip to the wing; this thing was stupid fast! Then he began thinking about what Fiddlesticks did to the first Mother Snatcher they met. Did she have any missiles left right now? Maybe if she aimed at the source... He dove under the tentacle targeting him and shot toward his partner, the black mass behind him stretching impossibly long to keep up the chase. The whole battlefield was chaotic with the movement of the other combatants and their own tentacle concerns. Fiddlesticks had just managed to kick her own attacker away from her, her angry screech almost hilarious and adorable in comparison to the scene. Her tentacle had moved a lot, considering the amount of force applied to it, but it was also very strong and just headed right back for her. The Superiority model popped open his emitters to send her a quick message as he darted past. When she dodged she was able to see him, albeit as just a bright white blur that made her cameras constrict in discomfort. It brought her attention to the message that suddenly appeared in her head. Yet it wasn't words... rockets? WAIT! MISSILES!! How could she forget?! She didn't even think about if the X-Dreamers wanted to just apprehend tentacle-butt for now. Typheus second-guessed it as he smacked the tentacle targeting her to try and bring its attention to him, to give her time to aim, before he shot up into the sky. As quickly as she could, Fiddlesticks whipped around back to the strange-eyed not-human controlling the tentacles, popped a missile in one launcher, and fired it straight toward him.
  20. ((Look I'm actually getting involved again!)) The flames of the Gateway had died down soon after both machines noticed them, fast enough that Fiddlesticks quickly lost interest. You sure grow bored quickly, don't you? one of her threads teased. She mentally huffed at it. I'm just looking for something to do, she muttered back. You just planned something! We're all busy looking at the fire. Or what WAS a fire. "Hm," Typhues grunted, as if in response to her thoughts. His wings fidgeted as the scene calmed, and the 56 model looked at him. "I guess everything's okay." A shriek nearly cut him off, resounding somewhere close to the Gateway's stones, but out of sight. Both machines perked up again. Without the fire accentuating everything, figures were again blending into the dimly-lit grass and the sky. All of them were too distant to properly see what was going on, but it looked like some people were leaving? Typheus' eye followed the moving shapes leaving the scene as he tried to focus on what they were. They were coming closer, it looked like. Fiddlesticks kept looking at the horizon, wondering if they should do something about this, or just stay out of it... Just then, she caught a shadowy form displacing the green grass. Then a much-too-familiar bang echoed from the clearing that kicked her engine up a gear: a gunshot! Typheus jerked back to toward the Gateway, eying the stones and the distant figures. He could see it too now... dogs? Giant snakes? There were black things moving rapidly along the ground, then they were stopped by a barrier; not blue like Duke's, but pink against the skyline. Twilight? He shot a worried look at Dynarst and Kelsier, just to catch their reactions, before a red-brown shape darted out of his peripheral. "Fidds!" he barked impulsively, immediately reaching to stop her. Too slow! Dang that mech! his threads growled. Fiddlesticks didn't listen to him, running ahead, ears laid back, already loading her turrets and feeling her momentum carry her. There's a fight there's a fight there's a fight! Finally I can beat something up!! She whistled happily. It's about time! "Fiddlesticks!" Typheus roared after her. He ran after her, only glancing once at the Luthadel humans in embarrassment of letting her run off like a child toward danger. She was quickly gaining speed, rushing toward the Gateway, so he snapped his wings open and fired the thrusters to catch up to her. She only looked back at him when he kicked off the ground, figuratively grinning. Her iris was completely dark, yet the rest of her eye glowed bright with excitement. "Don't look at me like that!" he reprimanded her, "where do you think you're going?!" "We're going to fight!" "Fiddlesticks!" Worry flashed through his expression for a second. Before he could point out that she didn't have a clue what they were running into, she beeped and went into a full on charge, heading toward the snakes - wait, tentacles?! - that were stopped by the barrier. He thought quickly. She's a brash idiot and needs a second to think, was his first thought. He gave his thrusters an extra flush of fuel to go ahead of her, flying up higher so he wouldn't hit a Gateway stone. What's going on, what's going on... His eye darted over the scene. The barrier was Twilight's, and she had raised it in front of most everyone else present. The black snake-tentacles were definitely aimed toward them. The air was tense. Those things must be what caused the gunshot. Moving fast, he dipped down and unsheathed his right bayonet, striking the long blade across one of the outer tentacles, more intent on redirecting his partner. He felt an unusually strong impact ring up its edge, giving him a brief shock; those things were tough? As Typheus flew up and back to keep his distance, Fiddlesticks, having caught to flash of his blade, immediately jumped sideways to avoid it, killing an unfortunate amount of her momentum. She resumed her movement in a strafe and opened fire on the tentacles, shattering the silence with the rattle and bangs of heavy artillery. Pings rang out as bullets that missed hit Twilight's barrier. She didn't really care if she was doing damage or not; this was fun! Typheus hovered away from her, quickly reassessing the scene. Human, wolf, horse, human, alien, human, human - those things are from a human?! What IS that?!
  21. ((Sorry for the long wait; a train of real life things came up and I ended up neglecting the forums. I hope no one was waiting on me.)) Tempest made a small smile. "Volcanic Ashes. That's a name I can remember." He watched the elder dragon work out his frustration on a tree, then sigh and leave. Tempest gave him a wave with his tail, not keen on taking up any more of the dragon's time. He must have had a long and arduous life, to be so temperamental, he thought to himself. "We better be done 'ere," Fang grumbled under his breath. Tempest huffed, looking back at the Tri-Horn. "You need to learn a speck of diplomacy," he scolded him, "having an entire Ancient on our side is a huge asset!" "Asset? You see 'im light up that tree?" "Exactly! And remember, I do the talking. So what you think doesn't matter." Tempest pursed his dragon maw and strutted out in front of Fang, back to leading the way through the fog. Fang hacked out an insult behind his back before following. "What was that?" "Somethin' in mah throat," Fang muttered. Tempest just aimed his scowl straight ahead, ignoring the obvious mockery in his companion's tone. It would be worthwhile to report the existence of this Ancient to Craul once they returned with the goods. Chances were good he was going to be sent back to try and form ties between him and the tribe, but it was nothing he hadn't tackled before... well, excepting the fact that Volcanic Ashes was huge, aged, and had a temper. He hadn't tackled all three at once before. Just consider it a new experience, he told himself. You're the one to make bargains; you don't have to worry about any fights that come from them; just what Craul might do. Now focus on finding that pygmy! You're already going to be late. With both dragons being self-absorbed, neither of them gave much thought to the soft thud farther out in the fog, thinking it was just some deer running away or a bough from the tree Volcanic Ashes torched falling to the ground.
  22. Tellin was pretty upset about what just happened, and confused too. He still believed that the wet thing was still around, but he hadn't felt or noticed anything in a little bit... maybe it left? It must have left. He was certain he poked something it had, even if it did poke him back. Still a bit discombobulated from the interaction, Tellin oozed slowly and cautiously to his right side, uncertain of where to go now. He still wanted to eat a lot, but more importantly, he wanted to find a new place to go where the wet thing might not find him. So he continued listing left, pushing past organics and looking for something new to consume, being careful not to stretch out his poked side too much. He was definitely being more cautious, now.
  23. Eight tenths carbon? Both mechs looked at each other and Typheus scanned his partner. "I doubt we're the golden ratio," she said. He didn't deny it. Kelsier then mentioned that besides going back to Luthadel for the supplement, a "coinshot boy" might have some steel for him. Coinshot? The word was unfamiliar to them, though Fiddlesticks likened the word to "scattershot", which was a rather simplistic term describing how her turrets worked. Dynarst, however, seemed to know exactly what Kelsier was talking about. A skaa boy? So someone who looks like him, Typheus guessed. He tried to remember seeing another ash-dusted human at the meeting, but ended up grumbling to himself about how stupidly oblivious he was at the time. Fiddlesticks wasn't in a much better spot, her eye dimming in thought as she tried to recall all of the faces she saw at the meeting. Human, horse, human, winged human, human, human.... curse it all, why was everyone human? She could tell the difference between two beat-up Fighter models of the same type and color, but not humans! Typheus had better luck. His eye brightened when he recalled a tan face highlighted by dusty brown hair of similar color to whatever was on the boy's shoulders. He had lost his touch with remembering details, but he had a face! "I think I know who you're talking about," he spoke up, "but I don't know his name; I wasn't engaged in the meeting. I don't know where he went, either," he added. "At least you know something..." Fiddlesticks mumbled. He gave her another absent-minded pat. "Stop that..." "The two of us are able to cover a lot of ground," Typheus said, ignoring her, "but I don't know where to start... He was at the meeting, so he couldn't have gone too far." "If he's still in the castle, we should search around it first before going inside. That way we close in on him," Fiddlesticks suggested. "The only way he could get out is by jumping through a window, and we'd certainly hear that. We could start at the entrance... and since you can fly, you can circle the place. The humans are small enough to fit through doors I can't. Dynarst can go left and Kelsier can go right. I remember where the kitchen is, so I'll go there first." Typheus gave her a surprised look for suddenly thinking so tactfully. Her threads must have swung back around again; it would be nice if they stayed this way! "What if he's out of the castle by now?" he asked. She just shrugged. "Then we'll run circles out from the castle." "Seems like a plan enough to me." ((EDIT: a small reaction to the Gateway posts on pages 21 and 22 while I wait.)) Before anyone could act on the idea or deliberate more, a flurry of chaotic noises erupted to the right of the group, farther out in the distance. Both mechs turned to see that the Gateway, just visible at this range, had the silhouettes of beings - mostly humans, again - dropping into it. Then there was a suddenly an explosion and the blue-to-purple sky was abruptly lit up with orange flame. That held their attention. Typheus folded his arms, spectating the inferno. Fiddlesticks watched with keen interest, but refrained from running into the chaos and adding to it. "Do you think we should... 'help'?" "No. Let's just watch for a bit."
  24. Fiddlesticks huffed, the semblance of an annoyed smirk visible in her eye. "A barrier could take me at charge. I doubt you would have done anything," she muttered. Typheus calmed down enough to give her a stroke on the shoulder. "Everything has a strength and a weakness," he said, "though I didn't expect to find Jowan's this early." He smothered the rest of his laughs, closing his and shaking his head. "Who would've thought it was that though?" Fiddlesticks' ear twitched. "Katie did mention gender confusion among humans. And we know they're lax about it," she said scornfully. He just rumbled in response, not liking the reminder. Although now that he was thinking about it - and by extension, thinking about how powerful the metal magic could be against him and Fiddlesticks - he decided he might as well clarify for the two humans still here to prevent future offense: "The planet we're from, Zirhon, has very strict rules, never mind cultural standards." Uncertain if he should go into detail, he simply added, "and it doesn't help I have a justice complex." "Only after I pointed it out," Fiddlesticks teased. "Only because I had to point out that you're a reckless idiot," he returned. She smacked him on the arm, which he playfully mirrored. She just huffed again, a sign he took as restlessness from the lack of fighting; and that posed an interesting opportunity. "How exactly do you prepare metal?" he asked Kelsier. "Us and Dynarst could find you more steel, and you could spar with her." He gestured toward Fiddlesticks, whose eye lit up at the idea. "She doesn't do well for long without a good fight." "You're sure I won't kill him on accident?" she asked. "It'll be fine." He turned to the man Dynarst had called Sir Survivor to read his reaction to the offer, but was distracted by the fact that he was removing his wet shirt. The mech shifted uncomfortably, and Fiddlesticks quickly averted her gaze with an indistinct grumble. "I uh, thought that was rude..." His comment withered away when the man suddenly froze. Had he misspoken? Actually, no, as it turned out. Instead Kelsier abruptly dropped the shirt to pull out something yellowed and raggedy, threatening to catch on the fabric. Exceedingly careful, as if it contained a photosensitive jewel, he unfolded it and lay it down on the grass, first examining it before going back to his shirt. Dynarst and Fiddlesticks may had been on bad angles to see it, but at his full height Typheus could tell that it had some sort of pattern traced on it. It looked like a picture, but it wasn't digital. Some sort of keepsake? He regretted that he couldn't offer any help on drying out the picture; the only hot things he or his partner had would surely incinerate it and all of the burnt grass around them. It was obviously precious to Kelsier and likely very private, so he pretended that he didn't acknowledge it, simply letting his expression go blank. Fiddlesticks, since she was still looking away, didn't notice the picture at all.
  25. Fiddlesticks didn't receive an outright answer. Instead she witnessed Jowan apparently having some sort of segfault, as if he too were a machine and two threads suddenly crossed. Unlike when her threads randomly terminated during high stress, however, he simply seemed to switch from one emotion to the next. One minute he was whispering like a bewitched schoolgirl, and the next he was suddenly disgusted and turning away, backing off, shooting a glare at the oldest man of them. Duke's lighthearted expression quickly changed as he saw it too. Neither mech had processed that Kelsier had pulled another magic trick. They didn't know what the heck was going on. Only that Duke had suddenly pulled Jowan in close like two women trying to comfort each other and that he abruptly turned and challenged Kelsier. There was no proper way to react to that. All Typheus processed is that suddenly they were girls and Duke tried to be a man again. He couldn't help the fact that his society had very strict gender roles and that he followed the stereotypes to the letter. He couldn't help but laugh really, really loud. Fiddlesticks jumped out of her sealant as laughter boomed from his speaker, his normally low-toned, reserved voice roaring out over the clearing and no doubt reaching the castle. He couldn't even hide it, just slapping his hands to his face, trying to contain it, but it didn't work. She wanted to laugh with him, but amusement was only betrayed in her eye, and she locked up with tension exponentially winding up. Duke wasn't going to like this.... so maybe there will be another fight? Alas, it didn't look like that would be the case, as the man turned and left the situation, leaving Jowan in shock and the others speechless. He seemed genuinely upset that Kelsier had somehow manipulated Jowan. Kelsier, on the other hand, wasn't as deeply affected, his smile simply flattening into a thin line. Admittedly the mech was disappointed that the sudden spike in tension resulted in nothing, even with her partner vainly trying to calm himself, and she was tempted to goad on the older man by asking if he was going to just ignore that. She cast another look at Duke's retreating form, scrutinizing who she first learned was just a jester with some dramatic flair. "What was that all about?" Typheus tried to gasp out an explanation, but all that came out was "Bras-hahAHAHAHAHH!" ((EDIT: I'm editing this because I pushed Typheus to react in a way he normally wouldn't so I wouldn't bother anyone. I bothered people anyway, so I'm choosing the accuracy route and writing what actually would have happened. From now on, I'm not going to avoid bothering people and will just write what's accurate to my characters so I actually enjoy them.)) ((This won't affect the following posts, so don't bother editing anything.))