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Twitter: https://twitter.com/5th_Comms
Archive: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Shooting+Star
Previous Thread: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/2451895/

You are Meteor Showa, fire-type B-rank Maverick Hunter koi. A week ago a totally cheating Maverick thrashed you to within an inch of your life, undoing all the upgrades and weaponry you so painstakingly accumulated over your career.

Now, less than an hour after recovering from a week-long coma, you’ve learned that 1) Repliforce has been defeated, 2) you were demoted for good institutional reasons, and 3) you’re being put straight back to work.

Nobody ever said this was an easy job, but the need is great. If you don’t fill it, somebody else might get it wrong.
>>
>>2473390
Waiting for you at the teleport pad is Scatter Seelie, “Skittle” if you please, your sparkly fairy moth friend from R&D. They’ll be accompanying you on your first roster mission, and only this one, to monitor just how well you’ve recovered.

“Taking your down time early, are you?” They singsong, impatiently.

“I just took the long way,” you don’t apologize so much as explain. “Helped me think.”

“What about? All the rush rush, wake you up, get you moving?”

“Sort of. I’m fine though,” which is true-ish.

“Good. ‘Cause if you aren’t, my report to old Blinky will have some underlines.”

You step on the pad, which registers your ID immediately. Your roster comes up…

-ARC MORPHO
-SOUNDING HUMPBACK
-CHASER GIRTABOMB
-DEEPWELL ORANGUTANK
-ARBOR ELK
>HELLPIGS THREE
-LIEGE ITERATTON
-FREEZER OSTENOPS

… and you confirm.

The sun just begins threatening to rise over the Atacama Desert. You can tell this immediately by the giant panoramic windows facing your receiving teleport pad. The lowest stars outside evaporate into a slow gradient of purple.

Skittle elbows you. “Heads up.”

You turn around – the windows wrap the room – and meet a tall silver sphynx cat coming up a spiral staircase. Her wine-red and sand-beige armor looks fit for a hunting expedition. This must be your host; you’re here to kill her runaway mechaniloids.

“My my, such prompt service! I’ll have to up this year’s contribution to the Hunters’ general fund.” The cat with the aristocratic affect smiles like new money and shakes your hand like old. “You must be Miss Showa! I just got confirmation that you picked up my request. Corona Sphynx, proprietress, such a pleasure to have you at the Happy Adventurer Hunting Experience.”

You can tell from how small her hand is compared to yours that she had extensive endoconstruction work done. The way her armor fits around her neck suggests it doesn’t stop at her hands, either. The price for it all must have started in the low millions… but she clearly liked keeping her feline head the way it was.

Her pupils dilate at you with interest, awaiting a first impression.


>Be friendly and cordial
>Be professional
>>
>>2473391
>Be friendly and cordial
I think being personal and expressive would be appreciated by someone with extensive endo
>>
Hello again, folks. Last thread taught me the finer points of how /qst/ operates, so I have better grip on how much space I have to use. (This post ID will change when I post from work later on.)

Enjoy the thread and your first-mission bonus of one (1) support moth. You picked an interesting mission for them.
>>
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Bro-op? Bro-op.

>Be friendly and cordial

Within reason--Meteor can be a bit of a chatterbox. Try not to be so open as to have Skittle of all people be the one to chide you.
>>
>>2473391
>Be friendly and cordial
... we've seen Professional Meteor hinted at in the demotion litany.
>>
>>2473448
We are utterly doomed if an engineering subject comes up.
>>
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>>2473395
>>2473421
>>2473448

>>2473395
>>2473421
>>2473448

Knowing how money values courtesy, you clap your other hand over hers and dip your head.

“It’s an honor, ma’am! I’ve heard so much about your fine establishment. It’s a shame my first visit has to be under these circumstances. I’ve never found the time or the money to be one of your customers, to my great regret.”

Sphynx beams, gracefully withdrawing her hand and laying her fingertips on her chest. “And to my great loss, clearly. It’s so refreshing to see a Hunter who knows quality when she sees it.”

“Your mechaniloids must be high-quality, too, to need someone like the Hunters to take care of them.”

“You’ve no idea, dear.”

Sphynx walks – struts – to a terminal by the arrival pad and keys something in. The window right above blinks away from the view to show recorded footage.

“The breakout was just terrible. You see, one of my customers was dissatisfied with the quality of the prey I set out for him and thought he’d be cheeky by freeing all the big game. He was the first they ate.”

“Ate, ma’am?”

The footage switches to the schematic of a monstrous mechaniloid. It’s not exactly a boar; the legs are too long, the mouth is too big. The stomach has an inset graphic that Skittle flies up to scrutinize.

“Their default behavior is the utmost savagery,” says Sphynx. “They were designed for territorial control, basic L-A-D – locate, approach, destroy. The fool who let them loose had no way of setting their friend-or-foe targeting.”

“Or their matter reclamation,” Skittle sounds impressed.

“Their what?”

“Look here,” they point at the inset. “It takes local materials and reintegrates them into the connected system, which in this case is their entire body.”

“I’ve heard that sort of thing is illegal on civilian mechaniloids,” you broach lightly.

“Then it’s a good thing they’re for business,” Sphynx smiles with her eyes. “Reclamation tech is a great savings on energy, and environmentally sound. Every week I have my darling pigs nibble the desert clear of mechaniloid wreckage after the customers are safely gone.”

“Except when the unfortunate customers are still around,” you note.
>>
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>>2473537
“Tragically, regrettably, yes,” her voice lilts briefly into sadness and then right back out. “I’d have calmed them down by now, but their orders to be set manually, and now that they’re loose it’s frankly less hassle to just retire them. I can always construct more.”

Typical.

“Please excuse my forwardness, ma’am,” you clasp your hands, “but if you have to go out of your way to keep such dangerous mechaniloids from killing your customers, then how do you stay in business?”

Sphynx holds her arms out and turns a 180 like she’s on stage.

“The danger IS the business, dear. Who would bother trekking all the way out here for a canned shooting gallery? Now before you object,” she daintily wags a finger, “understand that I’ve had this conversation with the past several years of Hunter leadership, not to mention the Chilean authorities. Every guest signs a liability waiver. Every adventurer enjoying the park must carry a minimum armament – for sale in the lobby, if they lack their own. It’s entirely legal. Why, Halcyon himself once took part! He still holds the time record for… the mission you’re here to undertake, actually, aha-ha.”

Sounds like a political spiderweb to you. Chile does have a reputation for being a “dark Switzerland,” all too ready to be the irresponsible kind of neutral. And if Halcyon was ever involved, it’s best not to pry.

“I’m afraid I don’t see the appeal,” you tactfully reply.

“When you’re on top of the world, dear, you look for thrills where you can.” She flaps a gossipy hand. “Besides, it gets them out of the mansion.”

The rich and their extravagance. Your old career in undersea salvage makes you a little prejudiced against it. Look upon our works, ye mighty…

“With all due respect, ma’am, I should get to work.”

“Of course, of course! Your spotter is welcome to join the fun too, free of charge.”

“Just try and stop me!” Skittle grins, jauntily giving her finger-guns.

“Exquisite! Then I’ll remain here and serve as your guide.”

“Thank you,” you give her the smile of a retail clerk, “but Hunters have our own navigators.”

Sphynx volleys back the smile of a retail customer. “Not out here, dear.”


>And why is that, ma’am?
>You expect me to trust you?
>>
>>2473545
>Do you have the proper training, Ma'am?
>Then I suppose I will acquiesce.
Okay, paranoia is telling me she's going to pull some shit to "test" us. So we shouldn't let her know about Skittle's basic stealth systems until needed.
>>
>>2473545
>And why is that, ma’am?

We don't necessarily have to buy what she's selling, but we may as well act the part.
>>
>>2473545
>>And why is that, ma’am?
We’re totes gonna have to fight her. Get info. Keep guard up, don’t instigate.
>>
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>>2473674
>>2473748

“That seems… a little inadvisable, ma’am. Why exclude us? Or anyone, really?”

“For no other reason than that my clientele treasures their privacy. With the eyes of so many upon them, it simply feels good to shed responsibilities and be out of reach for a few hours. As a result, the best interdiction fields money can buy prevent teleportation except through the pads in this building, and the entire park is quite well defended against Hunter and Interpol wavelengths.” She leans toward you and rubs her hands ingratiatingly. “However, if you like, I can provide a public-tier tightbeam to browse the Internet and post social media updates while you’re afield for just ten zenny, or a high-fidelity tier for a hundred. Up-front, of course.”

“No thank you. My account’s empty.”

“Mine’s not,” Skittle raises a finger.

“I’m on a mission, Skittle, I can live without Spazer.”

“If you call that living!”

You pointedly cough. “I’ll go without, ma’am.”

“Pity.” Sphynx waves goodbye, “Well, off you go, on the clock, but do stop by the gift shop on your way out!”

You give her a noncommittal nod as you head down the stairs.

One heavy security door later, downstairs turns out to be an expansive circular lobby cut into a ring of small stores between the front entrance and a hall to the back. The door you came out of is part of a central shaft covered in ad screens from arms manufacturers and tourist locations. Some shop clerks – Steel Berets, oddly enough – are starting to set up for the day’s business. Sphynx must be expecting clients the minute you’re done with the mission.

You glance over the stores: arms here, armors there, a photo service, model kits, and whole constellations of souvenirs. You walk by the weapon shop and skim the goods, finding them equal to or lesser than your own, and at a considerable markup for brand-name design.

“See anything you like?” Asks a clerk.

“Maybe if—”

“Bourgey shit, my one weakness!” Skittle shouts, fluttering dramatically to the ground. “Bury me in satin,” they croak, “lay me down in a bed of roses…”

“Oh get up, we’re on the clock.” You give the clerk a sorry-about-that grin, then kneel and lift and princess-carry Skittle out the door. As you do, you send them a direct-text comm.

{Can you cut through the jamming?}

“The sharp knife of a short life,” they sing, badly, “well I’ve had just enough time…”

{In my sleep, Meteor.} Their text comes in some florid Elizabethan font in violation of everything you knew about how text comms worked. {But it’s military-tier for some reason. You can’t buy this kind ‘cause it’s not on the market. Smells like favors. I can only slip through for a few seconds without her noticing and probably getting snooty about it.}


>Something about this smells. Narc on her, but fast and quiet.
>Save it for later, don't let her know you can. Mission Start.
>>
>>2473896
>Save it for later, don't let her know you can. Mission Start.

Never play an ace if a two will do.
>>
>>2473896
>Save it for later, don't let her know you can. Mission Start.
>>
>>2473896
>Save it for later, don't let her know you can. Mission Start.
Makes enough sense for her to have it if the likes of Halcyon are her clients
>>
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>>2473925
>>2473968

{Save it, then. Back-pocket special. You’re the best.}

They flit right out of your arms. {I know.}

Outside, as you walk past the rows of cybernetic palm trees and unoccupied VTOL pads, the distance has less sand than you might have expected. It’s barren, absolutely, but just bare dirt out to the edge of a salt flat at the foot of some hills. At the edge of the property, a sign with Sphynx’s face on it reminds all visitors to “Ensure all weapons are Safety-Off at all times.” No problem there.

The immediate pre-dawn environs don’t look as dangerous as advertised. They're actually kind of pretty, especially the salt flat. Way out in the middle of the water, a handful of endangered flamingos sleep perched on a lumpy boulder.

A boulder with tusks.

“Miss Showa,” Sphynx calls in, “can you hear me well enough?”

“Yes ma’am. I think I found the first pig already.”

“Indeed, and you’re in luck. Straw is still in sleep mode.”

“Straw?”

“Why yes. Straw, Stick, and Brick. What else would you name three pigs, dear?”

“Point taken.”

You step into the still and shallow water, no higher than your ankles. Skittle’s ambient sparkles shine off the ripples you make. Your cautious approach takes a minute. By the time you're in what you guess is the very deepest, the water still hasn't reached above your knees.

Straw Hellpig is big – Bee Blader big. And offline, apparently. Its eyes are closed, probably busy digesting victims. You creep as close as you dare, some seven or eight meters out.

You eye its completely unguarded side. Time for a wake-up call.


>Stay put, charge your buster, and open fire.
>Get closer and wake it up with a Meteor Melter grenade.
>Dash right up to it and saber it awake.

And (Special):

>Have Skittle hang back.
>Give Skittle an attack order. (See below)
>>
>>2474172

Special Support Unit: SCATTER SEELIE

>WEAPONRY:

Prismatic Lens:
A laser beam fired from either palm, or both in tandem. Once carried additional traits, but they were abandoned for pure damage on the grounds that “Violence is the only thing Mavericks understand.”

Dazzle Diffractor:
Drastically uptuned light diffractor prism array on weaponized wings. Emits a brief disruptive pulse to nullify any guidance on incoming enemy projectiles, overload enemy optics, and leave a ring of Scatter Scrambler sources (see below).

Salvage Stinger:
A hardpoint device made of a low-phase saber and an energy reclamation system, shaped like a scorpion stinger. Those suffering a continuous-contact sting have their shield battery slowly drained to top off Skittle’s own. The device normally stays fully retracted in their moth-wing “backpack,” making for a nasty surprise weapon.

>ABILITIES:

Scatter Scrambler:
An advanced countersig ability utilized by their dash system and Dazzle Diffractor (see above). Leaves lingering holographic “fairy circle” signal sources which produce false positives and trackers for enemy targeting systems. Friendly units within a given Scrambler are obfuscated and difficult for foes to accurately hit.

Fairy Flit:
An always-on flight system and dash system in one. Dashing leaves behind one Scatter Scrambler circle for every meter dashed. The dash may be charged for longer bursts of distance, zigzagging at will.

Glamer Protocol:
Equal parts glam and glamour, this stealth system (once activated) can be collapsed into a sparkling diffractive burst that negates most other stealth systems in range -- and also temporarily boosts power to the Prismatic Lens beam for a nasty “backstab” effect.

>VWES:

None. They never equipped one, opting instead for physical improvements integrating Maverick DNA where compatible.
>>
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>>2474172
>>2474189
Showatime!
>Stay put, charge your buster, and open fire.
>Give Skittle an attack order.

Have Skittle fly up high and provide overwatch--with luck with Showa closer and on the ground they'll be a glittery afterthought.
>>
>>2474172
>Stay put, charge your buster, and open fire.

Pretty simple, ought to work well.

>Give Skittle an attack order.
I'll actually go with HC's command. Unless the boar can jump good, Scatter'll have the advantage.
>>
>>2474172
>Stay put, charge your buster, and open fire.
and
>Have Skittle hang back.
Just in case we end up having uninvited guests, I'd want Skittle to keep on the lookout.
>>
>>2474172

>Get closer and wake it up with a Meteor Melter grenade.
Get that dot and armor melt up front.
And (Special):

>Give Skittle an attack order. Aerial attack from out of its range.
>>
>Stay put, charge your buster, and open fire.
Let's stay farther away and see how it attacks. Still unsure of just how strong we are in comparison to our previous self.

>>2473391
>The cat with the aristocratic affect smiles like new money and shakes your hand like old.
This is a good sentence. I like this sentence.

Showa is also much more experienced and professional in tone and narration than Anode, and it makes an interesting contrast. It also lends a different light on MHQ's dark themes.
>>
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>>2474239
>>2474283
>>2474356
>>2474457
>>2474594

You ready your buster.

“Skittle. Overwatch.”

“I’ve got you in my sights,” they growl like a grizzled veteran for some reason as they gain some altitude and circle above the hellpig.

You charge up, waiting for the third stage, when you remember you don’t have one anymore. Darn it. You let fly with the streaking green comet of plasma you have instead.

The impact gives Straw an immediate bootup and it practically jumps to its hooves. The flamingos awaken and panic and tumble down and away like a dice cup of drunk dancers, squawking horribly as they escape. Straw ignores them completely and lumbers around toward you. You fire a second charged shot at its face, convincing it at that yes you are in fact a thing that it was put on this earth to destroy.

It opens a mouth full of tusks and charges – fast – but even your bog-standard dash is faster. You evade a loud low snap of jaws with plenty of clearance and feed its face a third charged shot at about four meters away. The only indication that it feels the blow is the speed with which it turns its head and blasts you with a gout of flame.

You almost laugh. This is literally your element. The salt water boils and you register the feeble damage, but your shields don’t even go off. You’d be in trouble if you stood there and took the full flame for a minute or so, however, so you jog out of its path – and the flame follows you to keep you immolated.

You release a -fourth- goshdarned charge shot straight into its mouth, but clearly the flamethrowers are sturdy.

“Ugh. Skittle?”

“SURRENDER TO MY WILL!”

You don’t have time to ask what they’re on about before they rain a pair of Prismatic Lens beams from above. The kaleidoscopic lasers are what rainbows might be if rendered by a bad past-century neural network. The deep scoring finally shuts Straw’s mouth. It looks up, appears to reassess –

And leaps up –

“SHIT—”

— clamping its jaws and aborting the beam. The morning fills with crashing keening stuttering interference as Skittle shoots out of the bite like a watermelon seed, their highest-grade shields strobing like a rave and spitting flashes of energy in every direction for the breathless instant the jaws closed.

Skittle retreats vertically. Straw is on its way down, starting to smoke from its joints.

>Melter.
>Buster.
>Saber.
>>
>>2474943
>Saber.

Find something articulated and disarticulate it.
>>
>>2474594
Thanks! I like that sentence too. And as far as difference in tone, thanks again, as I'm going for exactly that.

Not that there will never be darkness, of course.
>>
>>2474943
>Buster
Melee bad vs beeftank, and buster has been shown to be working fine so far.
>>
>>2474943
>Melter.
I want this thing done before any of its posse show up.
>>
>>2474943
Oh shit, it *can* jump good!

>Saber.
>>
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>>2474952
>>2475018

Nuh-uh.

You light up your lavender lo-beam and time your dash to light into the stupid pig as it splashes back to earth. You carve its shoulder and it thrashes on cue, but it swings such that the arc of that big head misses goring you – it only connects a shove with the mass of its neck. Which you then perforate.

It rears back to stomp, but that only gives you an acre of belly to slice. You drag the blade center-mass as you dash under it and out.

That did it. Straw goes up in flames, blasting apart in a short series of explosions and adding scrap to the salt, seasoning itself forever.

“Barbecue for DAYS you fat ham!” Skittle yells as they flutter down.

“Sorry,” you stow the saber, “it looked too massive to jump like that. You okay?”

“Eh, I’ve gotten clamped in worse. Shields took a real ding, though. You?”

“Suntanned.”

“Thermal systems?”

“Cruising.”

“Then let’s roll.”

You hit the comms. “Sphynx, one down.”

“I saw, most excellent!” You can hear her clap. “Now, Stick and Brick seem to be roughly equidistant from you, the former off in the hills and the latter by a mechaniloid storage barn, but they likely won’t stay there as the sun rises.”

“How far?”

“About five kilometers each.”

“Fiiii~iiiivvve?” Skittle whines, sagging their shoulders. You’re not too hot on jogging all that way either.

“Just how big is this park, ma’am?”

“Well, you wouldn’t want to have to walk in or out, aha-ha. It doubles as a wildlife preserve, you see. Flamingos are so darling.”

… What?

“Isn’t, um, keeping rare wildlife on a hunting range unwise?”

“Mm, no,” she thinks aloud, “they’ve grown desensitized to noise, provided the live fire isn’t too close. At any rate, dear, I’m not suggesting you march all the way. I’m sending a ride. So which target shall it be? You needn’t go in storybook order, of course, I’ll transport you to either.”


>Head to Stick in the hills.
>Head to Brick in the “barn.”
>>
>>2475322
>Head to Stick in the hills.

Strictly speaking, less collateral damage that way, if it wakes up and moves away from the barn while we're contending with Sticks.
>>
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>>2475322
>Head to Stick in the hills.
>>
>>2475322
>Head to Stick in the hills
>>
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Back home. My phone connection's IP was apparently coming off a ban, by the way. Weird how that works.

>>2475449
>>2475365
>>2475940


“No reason not to go in order,” you shrug. “Take us to Stick.”

“As you like. The beetle is on the way now.”

“Beetle?”

“Must you question everything, dear? Relax and let the course take its course. You’ll get fewer wrinkles, but aren’t I one to talk? Aha-ha.”

A twinkle from the top of the distant main building grows fast on the approach. It’s green, yellow, and iridescent all over. After a moment you recognize the silhouette: an old Beetron aerial survey mechaniloid, clearly modified.

“Meteor?” Skittle clasps their hands.

“Yeah?”

“I think I’m in love.”

The Jewel Beetron comes to a stop and hovers in place, boiling the brackish water under its thrusters. Its horn has been clipped, the spinning blades of the base model replaced by a solid aesthetically-appropriate spike. The body is elongated, too, and the upper horn remodeled into a platform. A thin, red-carpeted staircase unfolds down its side, leading up to a snug space behind too-small-to-be-safe safety railings.

“I want ten,” Skittle whispers. “I want a sleigh.”

You ascend the offered stairs. “What happened to your last ride? The one with the cow skull?”

“The Wassailant’s still in storage,” Skittle takes the seat behind you, “and it was a horse skull. Proteus said it didn’t match R&D’s décor, the tasteless git.”

“Hold on tight!” Sphynx comms in as the beetle takes off.

The salt flat leads to barren dirt that rises at its own pace. The sun rises, and right away the temperature does as well. The view is one of magnificent natural desolation, much improved over war-made wastelands you’ve seen. It’s reddish and rocky and empty as heck.

The wasteland rises further and adds bumps. Stick Hellpig is easy to pick out, being the only thing stirring in the morning light. Identical to its fallen family member, it seems to be snuffling around the bottom of a valley.

“Doesn’t look like he sees us,” you note. “Ready for an airdrop?”

“Hold up,” Skittle grabs you by the dorsal fin, “I’m reading more signals than just him, concentrated on his position.”

“Sphynx?” You relay.

“Possibly something he ate,” she guesses. “Or someone. Sometimes it takes them a while to fully digest a LIFE core.”

“Ew.”


>Drop right on top of it.
>Land, approach, and then engage.
>>
>>2475945
>Land, approach, and then engage.

We already know they can jump surprisingly high, no need to risk our ride.
>>
>>2475945
>Land, approach, and then engage.
Hot drops are for single engagements. We have at least one more pig and I suspect those signatures aren't "remains."
>>
>>2475945
>Land, approach, and then engage
>>
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>>2475969
>>2475980
>>2476028

“Set the beetle down here, I’ll walk the rest.”

“Mind your step.”

You hop off once the Beetron reaches a safe height. Up it goes, higher than any pig could possibly fly. You press on.

“Signals, Skittle?”

“Gone. Just the ham-hock now.”

“What were they, Drimoles?”

“Dunno. They’re not really animalish enough for this place. Maybe they really were the undigested.”

You cringe. “Lovely.”

Closing distance on Stick is almost as easy as before. It digs and digs with a front hoof, not noticing you nearing from behind. Just as you get within range to pop it, it unearths what looks like a leg and part of the shell of a Mega Tortoise. Stick bites it, juggles it into its mouth and crunches metal on metal without apparent effort.

That was almost your friend. That might yet be you if you’re not careful.

“I’m moving in.”

“Right behind you,” Skittle assures.

You take two and a half steps before it goes wrong.

The ground rumbles, but not from Stick. The hellpig seems just as confused, scans the ground for something to eat – when a giant set of curved pincers erupting from below closes on either side of its head and drags it down. Shearing metallic horrors emanate from the fresh pit, preceding a rolling explosion flashing smoke and fire into the air.

Um.

“Oh dear,” Sphynx comms.

“Is that a run away ‘oh dear?’” You ask, rhetorically.

“It’s a new parameter ‘oh dear,’” she replies. “Other big game. I’ll work on overriding it, but I suspect you could kill it faster than that. Care to race me?”

The pit erupts again, this time with a monster. A Worm Seeker, a chain of orange orbs and legs and crescent mandibles, extends out for several segments and bends to eye you like a cobra. It seems to have many more legs than the standard model, and all of them are sharp wedges.


>Run.
>Charge and attack.
>Stay put and attack.

And (Special):

>Have Skittle hang back.
>Give Skittle an attack order.
>>
>>2476163
>Stay put and attack.
>Have Skittle hang back.
You have an advantage at range for now, use it.
>>
>>2476163
>Stay put and attack.
Let's not get closer if we don't have to. Maybe even use Meteor Melter

>Have Skittle hang back.
Agreed with having them use their ranged abilities.
>>
>>2476191
>Stay put and attack.
>Have Skittle hang back.

Maybe have them set up some scramblers for us to fall back through. Assuming Glamer Protocol works as it does in MHQgame now, that will also let them build up stealth at the same time to come in with a big whack in a pinch.

For now assume Sticks is going to burst right back out of the ground pissed as hell. Shoot and be ready to circle-strafe.
>>
>>2476163
>>Stay put and attack.
>>Have Skittle hang back.

Begin mission codename "keep away"
>>
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>>2476191
>>2476198
>>2476204
>>2476216

“Skittle, stay back for now.”

“Sorry, what?” They call from what sounds like very high up behind you.

“Nevermind!”

You open fire. Your old jobs both for and before the Hunters let you get very familiar with mechaniloid models, so you know Worm Seekers have famously sensitive heads. You shoot as fast as a non-RF buster allows, but the giant centi-grub just seems to take it…

Until it twists independently at each joint.

The towering single mechaniloid falls apart into four: head, tail, and two body-orbs. Each has two pairs of legs, two deeply recessed eyes, and, quickly emerging, a set of pincers.

“Are you kidding me.

The family of worm pieces fans out, Head coming right for you and the rest circling around.

“Sphynx, strategy?!”

“Aim for the eyes, each segment is armored!”

Good thing your primary weapon doesn’t play nice with armor.

You stand your ground and spit a Meteor Melter grenade on a high arc. It hits the head segment’s forehead and rolls back, spilling thermite all the way. It tries to shake it off. Finds it can’t. It spits a series of bombs bouncing toward you instead, a couple bouncing along on ludicrously high arcs. Would that yours could do the same.

The bombs and their small blast zones are easy enough to avoid, but the Body segments aren’t. They come in from your flanks to sandwich you, so you turn and dash – right where Tail’s longer mandibles await.

“Hi.”

You leap with your forward momentum and splash it on the way down with raw thermite spit. It pinches air everywhere it can, which is nowhere near you. You pour on the buster fire as your special attack cycles back up to readiness, but between the armor-eating and the sustained barrage, Tail goes kaboom.

Body 1 and Body 2 charge in, single-file in front of Head, clawing up the earth. You’re ready for them.

You’re not, however, ready for each goshdarned one lobbing freaking more bouncy-bombs at you.

You dash right, but Body 2 saw you coming. You spit another grenade that it catches on the shell, slowing it enough for Body 1 to barrel in, use it as a vaulting position to leap at you, sharp feet first.

You’re caught out, with your dash and your Meteor Melter both on cycle-down.

>Buster.
>Saber.
>>
>>2476380
>Saber.
Sword time.
>>
>>2476380
>Saber.

Unless that guppy's got a charged shot in the chamber, swing for the fences.
>>
>>2476380
>Saber
>>
>>2476380
>Saber
we need to stay close and have a proper meatshield to block Sticks with
>>
It's neat how Meteor's veterancy and readying of combat flow and dodging as second-nature is there.
Unlike a certain facetanking, inexperienced battery.

Also...
>Saber.
>>
>>2476703
>Anode beats 2 of the pigs by ramming into them with the lance, repeatedly
>The third gets a full capacitor unloading
>>
>>2476724
>Anode still somehow needs 3 limbs and most of his torso repaired by the end of it.
>>
>>2476750
>Look, I don't care that their tusks are longer than my lance, I NEED THIS
>Yes. Just like we need you with all your limbs attached.
>>
>>2476724
>>2476750
>>2476757
I need to have Em and Anode team up again so the former can be aghast at the latter's style.
>>
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>>2476772
Anode's greatest skill rating
>>
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>>2476390
>>2476399
>>2476518
>>2476548
>>2476703

Physics solutions surge through your mind. You grab your saber and thrust just as the bugball lands. The mass behind its pointed legs drives you down, but the pressure also drives your arm into it saber-first to the side of its eyes. Your burdened shields flash as Body 1 explodes on top of you.

In comes Body 2 to try the same leaping trick. You jump upright and drive your saber in, finishing the work your thermite splash started. The second explosion covers for a bouncy-bomb to smack under your chin and burst.

It calls that a bomb?

You inhale and prepare to lob a real one back, but the ground rumbles again.

“Meteor! Below!”

An angry toothy muzzle thrashes out of the pit, but the last Worm Seeker segment is locked onto you. You spy an opportunity.

The Head segment spits two more of its one trick as you dash for it, but you weave around one and dodge clear under the other. Your saber cuts across its right legs and you shove it for all your velocity is worth. It rolls and rolls.

You sink the shot. Stick’s teeth snag on an uneven part of the spherical segment and cleave it. You watch with a little satisfaction as the detonation outshines the sun.

A broken, incomplete Stick Hellpig staggers out of the pit, a tribute to its design’s resilience. You yawn silently, let a Meteor Melter grenade roll out into your hand and toss it up high.
“Sphynx, two-plus-one down.”

“Are you certain? I’m still reading Stick as active.”

The grenade lands, spilling incendiary matter over and into Stick’s injuries. You turn around and let the pig’s LIFE core go off on its own terms.

“… Ah. I stand corrected.”

The Beetron descends with Skittle lounging over the horn, fingers linked behind their head.

“Hurtin’?

You hold your neck and stretch. “Not a lot.”

“Not a little, then.” They flit to you as the stairs unfold again. “You gotta be more careful.”

“Says the one who almost got et’.”

“Eh-hem?” Sphynx interrupts. “So terribly sorry for the worm, but you do have one left?”

Skittle does a passable Sphynx impression. “You suck, Meteor, get on the robot bug.”

You can’t help but laugh, scrapes and all, as you hop aboard. You’ve certainly had worse lately.
>>
>>2476820

The courtesy shuttle takes you out along the hills and to a dry river. Up ahead lies exactly what was advertised: a barn. Red walls, white trim, solar roofing. The doors are broken in.

“Sphynx, land us at the door.”

“My pleasure. Do you like the barn design? It’s wonderfully quaint, isn’t it?”

“It’s nice,” you reply honestly. “Very twenty-first century.”

“Getting a lot of offlined core signals inside, though,” says Skittle.

“That would be the mechaniloid racks, dear. That particular barn is home to the fliers. Brick made his way in while you were busy and now he’s being, well, a greedy little swine.”

“So he’ll be more powerful?” You worry aloud as you hop off the beetle.

“More energetic than the others, perhaps, but his movements should be identical.”

Outstanding.

You approach the barn doors. As you look inside, the lights are off, but with the benefit of increasing sunlight you recognize racks and racks of Bomb Beens and Batton Bones reaching to and across the ceiling. A wide tunnel has been smashed through a narrow central aisle –

Brick stampedes straight down it at you without any for-goodness-sake prelude –


>Dash, then attack (specify).
>Attack (specify), then dash.

And (Special):

>Have Skittle hang back.
>Give Skittle an attack order.
>>
>>2476703
She has had a lot of time getting beaten down. Unlike Anode, though, Showa eventually learned how to get hit only part of the time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvS6zMThiZU
>>
>>2476830
Dash out the barn and leave Melter grenades where we were standing.

>Can we get Skittles to Dazzle Diffractor it too, and leave it blind?
>>
>>2476843
I like this plan.

>>2476830
>Dash, then attack (specify).
Work up a glob o' thermite and spit a meteor behind us.
>Give Skittle an attack order.
Have Skittle weave in and out and across the entrances to leave fairy circles in opportune places. Fighting retreat into a glambush.
>>
>>2476830
>Dash, then attack with Meteor Melter.
Don't burn down the barn!

>Give Skittle an attack order.
>>2476843
>>2476882
Both of these ideas seem sound.
>>
>>2476830
>>Dash, then attack (specify).
Draw them out of the barn; enclosed spaces are it's ally, not yours. Also don't wanna fight all the other bats and stuff.
and
>Give Skittle an attack order.
covering fire on adds. Like the bats we're gonna have to deal with.
>>
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>>2476843
>>2476882
>>2476901
>>2476934

Nope nope nope –

You fire up your dash and spit a grenade straight up on your way out. Burning liquid metal anoints Brick Hellpig’s forehead and upper back, making it thrash as it runs. The momentum of swinging that stupidly big head makes it veer to your right. Jaws madly snap on air and drive you to the left. You stop short and let it charge ahead.

“Skittle! Dazzle me!”

Skittle ticks points on their fingers. “You’re super-skilled, smart, full of heart –”

You know what I mean!

Brick plods to a stop and jerks back around to you, snorting fire.

“Ohhhh. Sure, sure.”

Brick charges you.

Today, Skittle!” You shield your eyes with a forearm.

Skittle swoops in front of you, trailing overlapping circles in a field of sparkling holoform. They throw out their arms and feed the hellpig a blinding photonic pulse. The shadow of your own arm paints a swath of visible light in the shining armageddon.

Brick charges past you again. You turn your head and see yourself turning your head to the corner of the barn just as the mechaniloid crashes through, blasting bright electric arcs out and over the barn walls for half a second. Your shimmering holo-decoy expires and the obfuscation field over you evaporates.

“Oh dear,” says Sphynx.

“Don’t freaking tell me.”

“There may have been a power surge in—”

“I said don’t, ma’am!”

She doesn’t need to. Racks and racks of eyes light up in the barn.

“Skittle?”

“Yeah?”

“Keep them off me. I’ll send Piggy all the way home.”

“Can do, opposite-of-blue. Mind the attack actions. My bet is you’ve seen ‘em all.”

The sun isn’t stopping its rise. Skittle flits into the barn. Brick shakes off some electrocution jitters and sniffs the air, bypassing its ruined eyes. Cheater.

From what you’ve seen, distance makes the Hellpigs charge, mid-range makes them breathe fire, and close proximity makes them thrash. Good. You can use this.

True to pattern, Brick gallops for you.

Select one:
>Favor Melter.
>Favor buster.
>Favor saber.

Select one:
>Favor mobility.
>Favor stability.
>>
>>2477104
>Favor Melter.
>Favor mobility.
>>
>>2477104
>Favor Melter.

>Favor mobility.
>>
>>2477104
>Favor Melter.
>Favor mobility.
>>
>>2477104
>Favor saber.
>Favor mobility.
Matador Showa
>>
>>2477104
>>Favor Melter.
Buster is super slow, and saber would leave us in a bad position for those other mechaniloids.
>>Favor mobility.
>>
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Mornin'. Time enough for this post and another before work, I think.

>>2477156
>>2477200
>>2477256
>>2477292
>>2477307

You lob a Melter grenade and speed to your right, toward the barn where small mechaniloids start to make big noise. Brick takes the thermite burst on the cheek and shoulder and bucks like a bronco, spinning and stomping and kicking until its momentum halts it on the cracked riverbed.

“Olé,” you grin.

Its ear twitches at you. Oops.

Dust from cracked earth swirls under its hooves as it charges for you and the noisy barn. Your back is literally to the wall. Situational awareness would lead most people to dodge to one side or another, but you’ve never ignored the value of surroundings.

You perform a zigzag dash: a jolt forward, a high dash-assisted leap back, and a wall kick out, meaning to overshoot your foe and spit fire on the trip over. The problem, as becomes clear in the process, is that your standard dash doesn’t fire for as long as your old upgraded one.

You snap forward, snap up and back, but the boost cuts out as you kick off the barn. Rather than sending you over, your old nemesis Gravity arcs you right for the hellpig. Heck. Nothing for it but to use it. You spit raw grenadeless thermite just as it cycles back to ready, ignite your saber and follow the glob down.

A lot of things happen inside of a second.

The thermite hits. Your saber joins it, heat to heat, cutting deep in Brick’s hide. Brick crashes into the wall. You’re thrown a few meters. Your saber carves a furrow on its way out. You land. You hurt.

A bat swoops at you, but on instinct you saber it down. A light show of lasers lights up the barn even as Brick extracts itself; Skittle’s ministrations aren’t enough to keep dozens of bats and bugs from swarming into daylight.

Brick smokes from its back and sniffs the air. The Batton Bones swoop low. The Bomb Beens swoop high and start dropping their annoying little mines.

>Prioritize Brick.
>Prioritize the adds.
>>
>>2477673
>Prioritize Brick.
>>
>>2477673
>Prioritize the adds.
Brick will end up killing himself at this rate. We can pop a charged shot at him if we don't find a way to group up the bats, but little guys first.
>>
>>2477673
>Prioritize Brick.

The mechaniloids aren't going to be able to do more than trivial damage, whereas Brick goring us would be a Problem.
>>
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>>2477683
>>2477738

Little guys are little. No matter how much they gnaw, they can’t hurt you like Brick.

Brick drives that point home by sniffing you out and breathing fire. Apparently he didn’t get the memo.

You dash out of the flames and strafe him with buster fire. Being blinded, he keeps the heat on longer than necessary. A wave of bats avoids the flame in a cluster, but you save your charged shot for Brick’s open mouth. He thrashes again, stomping and kicking and snapping at nothing. You give him space to work out his frustration, take some easy potshots at his flank – and step on a Bomb Been mine.

The shock goes up your leg, stunning your dash cycle at a moment when you really wish it didn’t. A wave of bats swoops in and you shoot down two but miss the third. In frustration you sandwich the bat between your fist and the shoulder it bites. Brick hears your commotion and lunges for you, mouth open, but you’re quicker on the draw. A Meteor Melter grenade goes right down its throat; being a mass above zero, the jaws close on it.

You dash-leap over a scattering of bug-dropped bombs just as Brick thrashes again. He makes your own mistake and treads on tiny mine after tiny mine, which only makes him madder. You save a charged shot for another wave of bats; it streaks through them all and tags the giant proto-boar in its side.

Brick falls like a ton of itself and starts exploding.

You glance to the barn as a hot cracking noise you’ve been hearing for a moment starts to get louder. Drunk-rainbow lasers carve through the roof and bring it down on the interior. Skittle flies out ahead of a thousand or more small explosions all popping off at once. That’s your friend, all right – always with the Gordian Knot thinking you’ve tried to emulate. One double-palm Prismatic Beam sweeps the sky and takes down the out-of-the-way Bomb Beens, cancelling any further rain of bombs.

“Wee-wee-wee,” Skittle remarks on Brick’s remains. You hold out a fist, and the bump it on cue.

The Beetron ride descends. “Beautiful work, dear!” Sphynx sounds giddy. “A bit scored and pitted, I’d wager, but you came out of it well above expectation!”

“Right on both counts, ma’am.” At your best, of course, this mission would’ve been more of a stroll, but you’re glad to know you’re still worth your zenny. You head for the beetle. “Thank you for your guidance, and thank you for supporting the Maverick Hunters.”

“Entirely my pleasure.”

The Jewel Beetron’s thrusters tilt… and turn its bulk not broadside for boarding but facing you directly. You stop short, scuffing the dirt.

“After all, in no other organization in the world could I find someone worthy of facing me in battle, my dear Hunter.”
>>
>>2477793

“Dammit,” Skittle sighs.

You take a step back. “Sphynx, what’s going on?”

The beetle’s horn spike cracks in the middle and pops up just enough to let four short beam blades ignite. And then spin. Because for crying out loud this isn’t your morning.

“I don’t believe I stuttered.”

“Yeah, naw.” Skittle dives for the beetle’s head and sticks their surprise stinger in behind its left eye. The spinning sabers stutter and fail, and the lift thrusters power down without a fuss. “You gotta work on your tact, lady.”

“Well aren’t you cheeky.”

You cover your earcap. “Sphynx if the next words you say aren’t ‘this is a misunderstanding,’ you and I are going to have a real problem.”

“That was my intent, dear,” she chuckles.

“Darnit.”

“You’re lucky your spotter is so resourceful,” she says as Skittle practically burrows into the Beetron’s head, tools flying in and out of their expert hands. “You might just make it back here in one piece. I ardently hope you do, dear. The thought of you, battle-scarred, busting down my door with vengeance in your eyes… worth it, so worth it! Aha-ha ha-ha!

“So hey,” Skittle extracts themself from the beetle and kicks a panel back into place, “if she’s a cat, can she still be a bitch?”

“Evidently.” You rub the ample space between your eyes with the heel of your palm. “This is going to be complicated.”

“No it’s not. We hop on my new pet here, you go retire a Maverick, and I clue in HQ as much as I can.” They cross their arms. “Bingo bongo.”

“She’s not my target, Skittle.”

“Uhhhh yes she goddamn is? You don’t honestly think her pets broke out on accident, do you?”

“This isn’t a Maverick incident, this is just some stuck-up one-percenter challenging me to a stupid duel.”

Skittle slaps you. The impact puffs a cloud of glitter that briefly makes you see in UV.

“You have GOT to quit disbelieving people when they tell you they’re Mavericks! That cat-bitch wants to kill YOU, A MAVERICK HUNTER, which means you’re a thousand percent within rights to put her down! I didn’t bring you back from a centimeter shy of a NAME PLAQUE for you to be blasé about this!”
>>
>>2477796

You sullenly rub your face. Skittle flits away in a huff, crossing their arms and turning their back on you.

“I didn’t say I wasn’t going to fight her.”

“You were gonna try a live capture, weren’t you.”

“Maybe.”

“Despite being B-rank now.”

“… Heck.”

“Yeah. ‘Heck.’”

You heave a sigh. “This is so not a B-class mission. Nouveau’s going to get a piece of my mind.”

Skittle tilts their head. “He’s the Mirkwood fella, right?”

“Well, Christchurch, but yes?”

They flit back around, arms still crossed but with a telltale glint in their eyes. “I’ve got glitter-bombs back home. He’ll have to remount his hair roots to get it all out.”

“I’ll think about it.”

“You do that. Come on,” they tap their head, “I’ve got the beetle on a subsidiary remote link.”

You climb aboard. The Beetron’s thrusters take you away.

Which is when you notice the glittering in the sky.

“Incidentally, dear,” says Sphynx, “that barn? One of several.”

A cloud of Batton Bones spreads out between you and the central building several kilometers out. Each of them seems to be carrying a big bomb.


>Plow through.
>Skirt them and shoot manually.
>>
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>>2477798
>Skirt them and shoot manually.

Between melter, buster, and glam fairy, we should be able to get through this just fine.

Also, for what it's worth, 72 continuous hours of attempting to clear the glitter out of a containment cell met with failure. Skittle's CO codelocked the grenade form while on-base the same way Wisent's kinetic missiles were.
>>
>>2477673
>Brick

Need to check twitter more often, nice to see this back so soon.
>>
>Corona Sphynx is a Maverick.
I can't say I didn't expect it a little, but so much for a simple milk run.
>>2477798
>Skirt them and shoot manually
>>
>>2477798
>>2477798
>>Skirt them and shoot manually.
we're not going to get paid a lot of money for this, are we? What with killing a major financer.

May as well get started on hacking a signal to HQ. It'll be fairly obvious, but we've still got Skittle's stealthshank in reserve.
>>
>>2477798
>Skirt and shoot
>>
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>>2477851
>we're not going to get paid a lot of money for this, are we?
Pretty sure this is her will.
>>
>>2478004
Imagine all the upgrades we could get with all that Zenny...
>>
Dammit, I knew she was gonna go Zaroff on us. I hope we're recording this in case we have to prove it later.

>Skirt them and shoot manually.
>>
>>2477798
>>Skirt them and shoot manually.
We're not setup for mass grouped punch through yet aside from a charged shot which is timely.
>>
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>>2477812
>>2477828
>>2477851
>>2477855
>>2478018
>>2478051

“Skittle, you got a handle on driving?”

“Two handles and a saddle.”

“If you gave up one, could you still reach HQ?”

“I’ll work on it.”

“Good. Give me a strafing run.”

The beetle turns. The flock turns with it. You open fire, a charged buster shot and a scattering of basics losing any semblance of accuracy but still hitting enough of the cloud to start low-score chain reactions.

“Did you know I was a Hunter myself, once?” Starts Sphynx’s monologue. “Geneva Ninth. I joined for fun after Sigma went down, but they didn’t appreciate my, aha-ha, lack of deference.” Pop-pop-pop go the bats. “It bothered the upper ranks, the way I made the Hunters seem undisciplined, but what in the world could they do to me?”

“I could give ‘em some ideas,” Skittle grouses aloud.

The bats thin out and overtake your altitude, but the bombs they drop are big and slow and Skittle’s driving jukes them all. Individually they just aren’t fast enough to catch up. The second Jewel Beetron heading for you from the opposite direction, however, is.

“Alas, after Ostrich got away from me, Command found their reason to send me home. Dishonorably.” Sphynx sighs, bothered by the inconvenience of it all. The incoming beetle matches yours, course correction for course correction, spinning its beam blades for a head-on collision even as you fire as fast as you can. Every single shot gets parried. It’s like trying to shoot through a fan.

A familiar shimmer oil-slicks over your eyes. The incoming beetle swings to your left, ramming through a trick of the light. The shimmer vanishes as Skittle throws the biggest middle finger they can over their shoulder.

“Oh, but I landed on my feet, aha-ha,” that snooty cat just keeps talking. “With humans and reploids alike playing warrior, safely distant from an actual war, my private wealth soared. But alas,” you’re really starting to hate her sighs of ennui, “after a while it all felt so empty...”

Your own sensors pick up the near-miss Beetron catching back up on maximum burn.

“Skittle, it's coming back!”

“I know!”

“I filled my lonely days with hunting my own prey stocks, and even some of my fool clients, but there was such little danger...”

“Skittle you don’t seem to be dodging!”

Sphynx genuinely purrs, I needed the thrill…”

“Not gonna bother,” Skittle clings to your back. You can hear the incoming beetle's blades whirr.

“The chance to lose, and to lose everything…!”

“JUMP!”
>>
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>>2478124

You do, just as the first beetle carves into the second. Your temporary ride explodes above you as you fall to the salt flat. You can hear Skittle’s wings working overtime, but you don’t slow until you splash hard.

“Dancing on the edge of death and landing on-point was the one joyous feeling I hadn’t yet wrung from this wretched world,” that unbelievable cat keeps going.

Skittle lets go of you and opens their mouth for commentary, but a high-velocity solid round cracks light off their flashing shields.

“So come, fire fish,” shouts Corona Sphynx from a superior firing position on an empty helipad some thirty meters from you. In the morning light you can see a long rifle barrel on her right arm. Beetron #2 hovers at her side.

“Come and DANCE with your queen!”


>Act.
>>
>>2478132
>>Act.
Oh hey ally has all these things to mess with ranged attacks.
But hrrr. Overlapped advance; between Meteor going back and forth with jukes and unpredictable dashes covered also with Skittle glam path also doing juke and unpredictable dashes - she'll know you're general cone of approach, but wont be able to pick a specific target - or a specific point on that specific target.
>>
>>2478132
Order Skittle to vanish and then fry the bug with a boosted Prismatic Lens. While they're stealthed they can keep working on getting word to HQ.

Combat-wise? Refuse to make it fun. Threaten her with a dull fight and ennui, with any luck it will tilt her enough to get Sphynx off her game.

Prioritize defense, and make sure Skittle does the same. In a perfect world we're both stalling for Skittles to get a message through and getting Sphynx salty enough to make some prime mistakes.
>>
>>2478132
>Act.

Obviously try and juke around her shots with our EAS. Skittle using their abilities to make it hard to shoot us wouldn't hurt either.

Agreed with also getting Skittle to take some shots at that last Beetron if possible.
>>
>>2478157
Personally I'd keep EAS in reserve. Showa's not the fastest and we're going to want to keep it on standby for a quick escape.
>>
>>2478171
Fair enough, I'll retract that.
>>
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>>2478144
>>2478145
>>2478157

Skittle vanishes from sight before you can recommend them to. You two text at the speed of thought, starting with them:

{Order?}

{Beetle.}

{When?}

{Moves.}

{Copy.}

{HQ?}

{Sending. Wait.}

They should be fine with the cloak up. You, on the other hand, can’t be any more caught out than you are right now.

You slosh through the water at a pace best described as moseying, letting your arms swing loose. A bullet grazes your elbow – a precision graze, meant to startle or halt. You do neither, and keep on walking.

“That’s rather the opposite of dancing!” Sphynx taunts.

You know how fast Skittle can fly. They’re completely out of your senses, but they still have space to cover. You silently count the seconds.

You taunt back, “And you’re rather the opposite of a queen."

You dash the instant your last syllable lands, which is the same instant she fires. You fire three plasma rounds before she cracks out another HV bullet – generated ammo? – which scrapes the top of your head. You run, you wait-two-three and duck another – oh yeah, gotta be generated – wait-two and shoot back the charged shot you stored.

The Beetron jerks into the path of your shot and spins up its parry-fan to protect its mistress. Keeping your dash in reserve, you use the cover to run for the helipad. The mechaniloid completely blocks Sphynx’s line of sight as it rockets at you.

Three Scatter Seelies sublimate out of the air in different positions and make it taste the rainbow. Only one, of course, is the genuine article, and by the angle of the bright double-beam piercing the beetle’s head clean through the eyes, you guess it’s the one on the right. You run left, dash held, dodging the exploding hulk and snapping a pair of shots around the false holo, hoping that Sphynx takes your bait as you close in.

She doesn't.

A flaming spherical shield snaps alight around her, eating your basic shots. She levels her left arm – buster! – at Actual-Skittle. The entire corona launches off her body and down her firing lane. The air shimmers, but not from stealth tech as it catches the moth full-on.

“HI-TEMP HI-TEMP!” They cry out, zipping evasive maneuvers and vanishing from sight, their strobing shield flash betraying their direction.

Sphynx’s buster tracks where Skittle flew, but you’re under two seconds from on top of her. Her ear flicks your way.


Showa HP: Two-thirds.
Seelie HP: Half.

>Act.
>>
>>2478517
Ow.

Charge in shooting the buster, then go in with the saber. I suspect she's going to be a decent melee combatant, so juke and go for a point-blank melter when she commits.
>>
>>2478545
>Bodydive them and break out the grapple rules.
>>
>>2478517
>>2478565
Meant to link to this one.
>>
>>2478517
Shoot Sphynx with our buster to disrupt her shot and go in slashing.
>>
>>2478517
think if we used melter grenades we could force her to move? Or hell just shoot out a stream of liquid fire to not only force her to move/burn the bitch but have the flames act as a smoke screen to cover our fairy buddy?

I'm not sure how far away 2 seconds is for us or the range of the non grenade melter attack.
>>
>>2478517
>Grenade or Charge shot, whichever is faster
I wonder if we should try pocket sand, literally throwing a clump of earth at her, just to have something other than fire vs fire.
>>
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Work has its claws deep, but that'll clear up in about an hour.

>>2478545
>>2478588
>>2478737
>>2478834

You need her attention.

You vault onto the helipad and land dashing, your green-comet charged shot leading the way. Sphynx clicks her flame aura back on, but the shot makes it through – and so do you, your left hand full of saber, scoring a cut across her midsection to set off her shields.

You have her attention.

Her fireball corona stays centered on her as she wheels a kick into your armpit. The force is impressive, but you catch yourself on your outside foot and blast a glob of molten aluminum her way. It sticks to her through the shield-flash as she raises her buster. Your emitter meets hers and you both fire at once, the kickback offering some valuable space between you.

She capitalizes on it, bringing up her rifle arm and hopping as she fires. The shot punches a neat hole through you from collar to upper back and the recoil sets her down further away. You’re now separated by a good two meters, into which she levels her buster and washes the bubble of flame over you.

Your sensors don’t like that. You can take it, but she’s not throwing hellpig fire. How fast can she do that again? You lead with your saber to find out, but she backpedal-hops out of the blade’s reach to the corner of the helipad. Smiling.

Is. Is she using the pad as a fighting ring? This really is just life-affirming amusement to her, isn’t it?

You dash. She side-jumps to follow the edge, but you don’t oblige her, instead shooting right off the platform and throwing a charged shot down the perimeter. She takes it on the arm with a surprised growl. You’re not playing her game and it’s clearly an irritant.

You expect her to keep range, but she does the opposite. Her fire aura re-ignites and she dives for you with the advantage of height.


Showa HP: Half.
Sphynx HP: Below three-fourths.

>Act.

And (Special):

>Tell Skittle to stay hidden.
>Give Skittle an attack order.
>>
>>2478906
well if she wants to charge us then I guess we can show her what a real flame thrower is
>Melter spray
it is what I'm calling the non-grenade melter attack
>Tell Skittle to stay hidden.
he keeps trying to patch us through to HQ, plus I don't want him getting shot at any more.
>>
>>2478737
>I'm not sure how far away 2 seconds is for us or the range of the non grenade melter attack.

Rules for Meteor Melter:

Grenade can travel farther and hit with a more concentrated payload than the thermite spit (meaning higher damage, typically), but both run on the same cooldown. The grenade's penalty is a second longer. Better effect, tactical delay. But hey, she'll never run out.

Rules for land speed:

Narrative value! But generally she's not a high-speed runner except when the EAS is fired. She's not an Anode, certainly not a Dodo.
>>
>>2478906
>Melter spray, sabers
we'll probably take a hit, but if we're bursting her down with a backstab we should wear her down more.
>Stay hidden
>>
>>2478906
Try a thermite spray of the indiscriminate nature. Maybe we can burn through the struts on the helipad and punt her off it, if her situational awareness isn't as good as ours.

That said I'm not sure the thermite is doing full damage to her, but it gives us more time to build up another charge shot.

>Tell Skittle to stay hidden.
Ask them about word from HQ.
>>
>>2478906
Time to spray the cat with thermite, she's committed to the jump and can't dodge.

>Tell Skittle to stay hidden.
>>
>>2478922
thanks
>Rules for land speed
I just wasn't sure if we we in range for a melter spray and even if she isn't the fastest around I'm sure she's still faster then a normal person... Plus I suck at telling distances soooo.
>>
>>2478981
Hit them before they have time to DOOOOODGE!
>>
>>2478906
It definitely sounds like Sphynx is resistant to fire too, save burny things for when we need a diversion, to throw off her timing, etc.

>Tell Skittle to stay hidden.
This isn't a good tactical matchup for Skittle. I was sort of wondering from the start if we really needed to take them along just to fight pig mechaniloids
>>
>>2479050
>I was sort of wondering from the start if we really needed to take them along just to fight pig mechaniloids

Well, Skittle was "scripted" to come along on your first mission no matter where the vote led. It just so happened that they landed here. Knowing what I know, the voters picked surprisingly well.

Also, I'm back home now. And writing.
>>
>>2479147
>Well, Skittle was "scripted" to come along on your first mission no matter where the vote led.
So they could die messily.
>>
>>2479155
don't worry, we'll save our little princess.

bonus points if we beam back to HQ with them in a princess carry
>>
>>2478915
>>2478931
>>2478947
>>2478981
>>2479042
>>2479050

You’re not positive what melee tricks she has, but they can’t outweigh the huge opening she just paid you. You flip your saber point-down and brace for impact.

She lands clawing you about the face and neck, engulfing you in her proximity fire. You spray thermite directly against her armor, but it doesn’t eat through like it should. You hammer your saber into her side, but the blade bites shallowly – something in the orb itself is weakening the containment. You wedge your charging-up buster arm between her and you and shove her off, firing a dash against her chest and knocking her for a loop against the edge of the helipad.

{Nice,} Skittle quick-texts.

{Stay,} you reply, as fast as you can think the word.

{Copy.}

{HQ?}

{Spzr.}

“What?” You ask aloud.

A high-velocity round perforates your hip just above your left leg as you get up, sending you back down. Sphynx follows with a strut-step forward and a point of her buster. You can’t afford taking it, so you slam your tail as hard as you can to propel a roll out of its way. The ground bakes in the fire’s passing.

With no shield up to mitigate and no big hit at the ready, Sphynx tries to circle around to your left. You jerk your head with your mouth open ahead of where she’s headed – she eats your bluff and hops back right into your charge shot.

“Ha-hah, AH-haha!” She revels, summoning the fireball shield again. “You wicked thing!”

Her rifle arm swings up as you get back on your feet, but you’re ready for it. You dash to your injured side which, yes, makes your hip sting like heck, but it means her shot destroys one of your decorative fins instead of a limb. She’s expecting you to completely avoid getting hurt – but by this point in your life you know how to balance risk versus reward. You know how to trade one blow for several.

You know how to end this.

Her HV shot is fired, so the probable combo is – yes, here comes the fireball. Her knees bend – jump to which side? Neither, you decide.

You take your internal warning sirens hating the corona bubble’s heat spike and gladly pay them all for the priceless look on her face. Your left-hand saber meets her right-hand gun barrel and keeps going through her elbow and across her chest. Your thermite spray is not a bluff this time. Enough of it lands in the gash you cut to make her yowl in what you really hope is pain.

You punch her in the collar, toppling her into an unfairly graceful splay. Her armor smokes, no amount of endo being enough to resist that much contact heat.

Even now, she laughs. She pushes herself up on her buster arm, her left hand back out in the open, and crosses her legs at the ankle right there on the ground.

“Ha ha. Well, now I’ve gone and done it, haven’t I?”

You watch her in silence for any offensive twitch.

”Deftly done, my dear, deftly done. I yield.”


>You WHAT?
>Way too late, Maverick.
>>
>>2479322
>I lack the authority, and you blocked any chance of REACHING authority.
I don't suppose we could thermite JUST her arms?

Also, I wonder if she's stalling for someone to finish fucking with Skittles. Boss round 3, infected skittles
>>
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>>2479322
>You WHAT?
...Huh?

>>2479339
>Spoiler

Don't even joke about that, I'm still sad about Schwarz
>>
>>2479322
>Sigh.
Make sure she knows how utterly stupid her actions were, then figure out how to contact someone who has clearance to take her in.
>>
>>2479322
>You WHAT?
Mainly because I think killing her would end up being even more of a pain in the long run.
>>
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“… You what.”

“I don’t believe I stuttered. I surrender.” She twitches an ear. “There, the jamming is down. Now call home and take me in so I can buy a few crates of tickets for the Maverick Hunter Charity Ball and enjoy the memories of this hunt.”

You keep your saber lit.

“I’m afraid I can’t, ma’am.”

Her smile freezes, brittle as ice.

“You can’t be serious, darling. Do you have any idea who I am? I probably paid for your bedroom!”

“That may be.” Your exit wounds intermittently crackle with little arcs of energy. “The thing is, B-Ranks aren’t cleared for live capture. And I think the jamming is redundant at this point.”

Skittle gently shimmers out of stealth behind you. “Oh, amazingly so. You were way too busy to notice, daaaahling, but I was ripping that signal weave the whole fight.”

“What’d you send out?” You ask, both eyes on Sphynx.

You have a great ear for voices. You can just hear Skittle’s merriment lightly descending into vengeance before it hits a more precipitous slide somewhere around the comma.

“Well Spazer’s video-hosting service has some great editing options, but I was in a hurry so I just stuck a few sparkles in the background of the recording I made of your rock-humping stupid monologue confession when I flooded Command’s inbox with auto-play mosaic link samples. Which are still playing. Because I’ve been streaming the whole fight. Even right now. Live.”

Sphynx’s smile shows more and more teeth. Her own substantial injuries crackle worse than yours.

“What was that she said about hunting her fool clients?” You ask no one in particular.

Sphynx’s eyes dart. Her ears twitch.

“Halcyon.”

Skittle perches on your upper back, shades their eyes and scans the horizon. “Oh, he’s here, is he? And me without my Sunday finest!”

“Maverick Hunter Commander Halcyon patronized my establishment in the company of—”

She perks her ears. The panic melts from her features. Clearly she just heard good news.

A new comm pings in.

“Lieutenant Meteor Showa.”

You don’t dare blink. All it takes is three words for you to know you’re in over your head. There’s stress in them, and caution. Despite that, you can still hear all the golf and smoky rooms in Halcyon’s voice.

“Commander?”

“There has been a terrible misunderstanding, Lieutenant. Your mission is complete. Return to your headquarters. That is all.”

The comm line cuts out. Sphynx rocks her head back and forth at you behind her winning smile.

Skittle looks positively gobsmacked.

Sphynx reclines on the dirt without a care in the world, despite her stuttering right arm and sparking injuries.

“Ta-ta, dears. Do visit the gift shop, won’t you?”
>>
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>>2479667

You glare at her, but what in the world can you do? She’s one solid hit from destruction. You could end her right here… but darn it, you’re trying to work back to your old self, not go backwards. She’s no longer a threat. Your job is fundamentally to help. Retiring her would help no one, least of all yourself.

You extinguish your saber. Skittle flops over your back. That’s that.

“What a bloody waste.”

“Don’t say that,” you shrug them into your arms and carry them limply face-down. “Nobody had to die today. That’s a win.”

“You’re letting a Maverick off. HALCYON’s letting a Maverick off. What’s this world coming to.”

“A centimeter closer to better.”

“Take me home and drop me on a comfortable floor somewhere,” they mumble.

You head inside. Every clerk at every shop gives you a standing ovation. You blink.

“Almost had her!”

“That’s the boss for you!”

“Nice kick, ma’am!”

“Ooh, ooh, can you sign my saber hilt? Please?”

Skittle looks up at you, makes a disgusted face and lets their head hang.

You sigh and head upstairs to the pad.

A centimeter closer to better.
>>
>>2479674
whew, only a 3 on the How Bad Things Can Get scale!
>>
>>2479674
Please, tell me Skittles streamed that too...
>>
>>2479682
You have no idea. I rewrote quite a bit based on the votes.

Tomorrow in the thread: Upgrades, possibly! Consequences, definitely!
>>
>>2479734
Think could have gotten political if Skittles did the scorpion+laser shank
>>
>>2479741
Oh, I had a number of ways it could have gotten Political. An unexpected turn of events, but votes are votes.
>>
Whatever you do make sure you keep a weapon trained on her just Incase she tries and pull a fast one
>>
Well, I can't say I'm surprised about what happened.

Damn it, Halcyon!
>>
>>2480010
Even when he's about to get the sack, he still manages to fuck justice over.
>>
alright it's been awhile since I've played any magaman game but who the fuck was Halcyon in the games because I don't remember him at all.
>>
>>2480311
Halcyon is a character created for Maverick Hunter Quest, as one of several Commanders of the organization before Signas.
>>
>>2480317
ok thank god, if you google halcyon and megaman you get something in megaman legacy so it left me on the edge of not actually knowing if he was just some OC or just some background character in the megaman X games that never really had much screen time so no one made a bio for him.

That said though, from what I know of Halcyon from the quest threads he's mentioned in he isn't just a bastard to us but to everyone. And with a piece of black mail this juicy I feel that Sphynx isn't going to be getting out of this as scot free as she thinks she is. Granted I still feel that anything short of a blaster to the face is her getting off to easily but like meteor said, centimeter by centimeter. Take your victories where you can.
>>
>>2480311
>>2480326

Yes indeed, on all counts.

I probably don't have time to crank out a post before heading out to work (weekdays = teacher), but there will definitely be more today.
>>
>>2480326
Honestly I'm anticipating Skittle getting lateral with their revenge, especially considering how tilted they are over Meteor's almost-death. Immediately following that with a bored sociopath playing the most dangerous game with political insulation? This is going to be messy.
>>
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>>2479674

You find yourself back in HQ, looking right into Minefield Turtle’s thick arms. She drums her fingers on her forearm plating.

“Lieutenant, I’ll debrief you later. Promptly get yourself repaired, but leave our repair technician here. I need to have Words with them.”

Uh-oh. You heard that capital letter.

“Whatever,” Skittle mopes. “Worthless words wilting will, warriors with wispy wants, why would we wish—”

You set your friend on the floor before they can get any more negative.

“I hate you,” they muffled-mumble into the floor panels. “Actively. I am in hate with you.”

“See you, Skittle.” You straighten up and tap a salute to Turtle. “Ma’am.”

You walk with a limp. You’ve had worse.

The trip across the flat skybridge from one building to another lets you see traffic crossing the Courtyard from one underground ramp to another. Masspro reploids walk the edges; one tends to the plants around a sitting area at the foot of the barracks building across the way. Out to your left, the gently arching skybridges diagonally crossing the width of the Courtyard intersect at a transparent observation deck. A few of 4th’s infantry hang out there, watching for the sake of watching.

Everybody’s got their own morning.

The Lifesavers in the repair building escort you to a slab. Just a week ago there would have been a queue. You wonder how much of it is a shift in workload and how much is Skittle’s influence.

“Bee-twelve, right?” You address the second-generation Lifesaver, recognizable by the lack of tabs on his beard-plate, who busily removes what armor you have.

“Yes ma’am.”

“You catch the stream?”

“Yes ma’am. The floor chief set it on the commons display. It cut out when she mentioned Halcyon’s name the second time.”

… Huh. “Right then? No farther?”

“Yes ma’am.” B-12 rolls their wrists and their hands separate into nightmare spiders of miniature tools. They partially insinuate into your entry wounds and make you feel the reploid equivalent of itching.

“Weird. Sphynx—”

“—I find it best not to ask about Halcyon, Lieutenant. Or to tell. Especially in a politically charged atmosphere.”

He has a point.

“Duly noted.” You study the calming lights of the ceiling. “Hey, do you have a callsign?”

“No ma’am.” He withdraws a few tool-fingers and closes the holes with flash-printed titanium. “Scatter Seelie tends to call me Vitamin, but I understand they do that with every Lifesaver of appropriate designation.”

“Mind if I call you that too?”

“No ma’am,” says Vitamin.

A name is all you need to open your chatterbox. “Well, Vitamin, if you want politics I’m your girl. What’s your leaning? People find out where I was built and make assumptions, but I’m really more of a…”
>>
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>>2480393

Vitamin accelerates his work and lets you talk, only making positive affirmation noises and harmless nods at certain points. You love doctors like that. You don’t hate waiting, you don’t hate repairs, and you don’t even hate silence, but something about lying flat and having someone tinker in your insides makes you want to yammer with them, even one-sidedly.

“… but they’re all oligarchs anyway.”

“Your repairs are done, Lieutenant.”

“Aw, already?”

“I promise. Your LIFE output was below a quarter of optimal, however, so your recharge is incomplete.”

“Nap time it is,” you scoot off the slab. “Thanks, Vitamin.”

“We’re here to serve, ma’am.”

And off you go.


>Get that debriefing done.
>Check out Skittle’s recording.
>Head to your quarters and grab that nap.
>Other (specify)
>>
>>2480394
>Check out Skittle’s recording.
Then go back and MURDER THE CAT. That’s valid, right?
>>
>>2480394
>>Check out Skittle’s recording.
best to see what was shown before we come in and make statements.
>>
>>2480394
>Check out Skittle’s recording.

With our luck Halcyon got ahead of social media, but we may as well see what made it out.
>>
>>2480394
Check out Skittle's recording. How can we not? Probably should debrief after that, though.
>>
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>>2480397
>>2480404
>>2480426
>>2480506

You can’t help yourself. You slip a flexible datapad bar out of your forearm armor and give it a sharp shake to snap it out into a stiff rectangle. Your home screen swims with perky anime fish swimming below app icons on fish hooks. You tap an icon of three wavy lines and cue up the world’s most popular reploid social media platform.

Spazer’s active user numbers rise now that your time zone is waking up. “Halcyon” and “#SkittleSunday” seem to be trending.

Skittle’s user icon is a pile of multicolored candy. You exit to one of the central skybridges, brace yourself, and play their latest video.

It starts with you strafing the cloud of bomber bats. A sparkly corner label reads “Pre-Recorded.”

“Did you know I was a Hunter myself, once?” Sphynx begins. You’ve seen this part, so you tick forward.

“—the opposite of a queen,” you say, far below the camera. The corner reads “Live!!!”. A fast-scrolling chat bar has appeared above it.

The battle plays out. You gasp at the fireball engulfing the camera and Skittle’s panicked alert. Little icons of candles and campfires flood the chat.

You hear earlier dialogue play out as you reach the observation deck. The off-duty (or slacker) third-gens seem to be watching the same video. You return to your own instance of it and skip ahead.

“Halcyon.”

The camera rises and pans over the horizon. “Oh, he’s here, is he? And me without my Sunday finest!”

“Maverick Hunter Commander Halcy—”

[SIGNAL LOST]

The chat floods with a torrent of “WHAT” and “QUE” and rows of little paladin icons for a second before the video ends. The comments on the post itself are similar, interspersed with Repliforce insignias and memetic screenshots from children’s education programs featuring the letter R.

Well then.

“Look, that’s her!”

The slackers and morning wanderers turn to you. Some applaud, some merely smile. You smile back.

“So what HAPPENED?” One leads, triggering the others to burst with questions – “You got her right,” “How hot’s that special,” “Did Halcyon show up,” “Did he tell you to off her,” too many at once.

You smother their fire with a blanket statement. “Classified, sorry.”

They groan and sigh and shake their heads.

“You know Skittle well?” One asks, primarily green in the armor. That’s easy enough.

“A bit too well, really. We were in Geneva Fourth during Doppler, them and me and a couple others.”

“Can you tell them to follow me back? I’m username Butterfly-dash-Net-three-seventy, I re-beam all their posts!”

“I’ll put a word in.”

“And tell them to post more selfies!” They grin.

“I’ll try.”

“And tell them to have their wings in all the shots,” their eyes glaze over and their smile gains some rictus.

“… I’ll definitely talk to them!” About anything else.


>Get that debriefing done.
>Head to your quarters.
>Other (specify)
>>
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>>2480516
>Get that debriefing done.

Bahahaha, the fan.
>>
>>2480516
>Get that debriefing done.

Business before Pleasure, sadly.
>>
>>2480516
>Get that debriefing done
>>
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>>2480530
>>2480533
>>2480534

You hustle down a different skywalk, stow your pad and make your way back down the halls to the command room.

Inside, Turtle fills the backless seat of office and then some. The in-wall screen is divided and sub-divided into maps and live feeds of Overland Veracruz’s operations – and one instance of the familiar Spazer UI.

“All fixed up,” you announce as you step in.

Turtle doesn’t turn her seat. There’s a recessed rail in the floor leading from it to the central holoscreen.

“Commander?”

“Please begin, Lieutenant. I’m recording.”

… All right then. You straighten up.

“Corona Sphynx met Skittle and I at the pad and gave us a summary which included schematics of my targets. She seemed unbothered by the illegality of the pigs’ matter-reclamation tech and freely noted that she was blocking law-enforcement signals as well as our own.”

“Mountains of funding leave safe valleys.”

You pause, meaningfully. “Yes ma’am. After setting out, I engaged the first pig in a…”

You go on, recounting the safari. Every hostile. Every blow given and received. You hate how the historical record leaves things out, so you’re a stickler for these things.

“… Whereupon Skittle, as it has become clear, started recording.”

“Yes, and I’ve bottled that fairy, though the proverbial genie is well and truly out. Skip ahead, Lieutenant. What happened after the recording?”

“Sphynx seemed to be revealing blackmail. She mentioned that Halcyon was at her park ‘in attendance with’ someone else.”

“Who.”

“Unclear, ma’am. She herself stopped short when she seemed to receive a private comm.”

Turtle’s seat finally turns around. “And?”

“And then Commander Halcyon contacted me. His stated opinion was that a misunderstanding had been made, and he summarily declared my mission complete.”

“Did he.”

“Yes ma’am. I then left Sphynx where she… reclined, took Skittle and returned.”

“Did you.”

She’s talking like a wall. Something’s up.

“I know the Combat Analysis team can’t be done already, ma’am, but did any of that contradict their findings?”

“No, Lieutenant.” She taps an armrest and a tiny red LED blips out. “They found Corona Sphynx’s remains scattered on the ground by that salt flat.”

Oh heck.
>>
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>>2480625

“Initial autopsy scans indicated traumatic core failure, high-probability cause being plasma shear in an open chest wound. Did you do it?”

“No, Commander.”

“Did your support unit?”

“No, Commander.”

“How many clerks were at work in the lobby?”

“Eight, Commander.”

“Deco’s team counted seven. And the pad log on-site showed an additional exit use after you returned.”

It’s amazing how you can get a sinking feeling in your stomach without that organ.

“Where to?”

“Geneva.”

Two and two shake hands and make four. The silence between you and Turtle rings with the right answer, but neither of you say it.

“Will Commander Halcyon be making a statement, ma’am?”

“No, Lieutenant. I find it best not to speculate on his actions, especially not in a politically charged environment. Agreed?”

One centimeter at a time…


>Yes ma’am. (Keep quiet about this.)
>No ma’am. (Object.)
>>
>>2480625
WELCOME TO THE FOURTH.

>>2480632
>Yes ma’am. (Keep quiet about this.)

Make sure we've got our ducks in a row as much as possible for this one. And Skittle's.
>>
>>2480632
>Yes ma’am. (Keep quiet about this.)
But we should make sure Skittle is not gonna be in physical danger because of this.
>>
>>2480632
>Yes ma'am.
Problem solved!
>>
>>2480632
>Yes ma’am. (Keep quiet about this.)
Well then.
>>
>>2480632
>Yes ma'am. (Keep quiet about this.)
>>
>Yes ma'am. (Keep quiet about this.)

>Also keep quiet about your suspicions that Skittle did some giftshoplifting on the way out.
>>
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>>2480636
>>2480641
>>2480645
>>2480666
>>2480734

“... Yes ma’am.”

Minefield Turtle stands out of the chair rather than riding it to the center of the room like you’re pretty sure you want to. “I’m glad to hear that, Meteor, for a given value of glad. I’m sure Nouveau would love to apologize to you in person for a rare misreading of parameters, but he’s afield near Rio. On cleanup.”

Ouch. “Conditions improved there, much?”

“Scarcely. I returned from a forty-hour not long before you came back to us.”

You know why. Sky Lagoon’s final death toll was into seven figures, and you doubt if Rio de Janeiro will ever be completely cleaned up. The ruin won’t stop needing help just because the war is over. Nouveau might not be your favorite person, but giving himself a low-paying mission out there shows he’s committed.

“At any rate,” Turtle continues, forcing her mood higher, “all that remains now is your payment. The dispensation came straight from the top with astonishing speed. I sent it when I stopped recording. Check your pad, I think you’ll be pleased.”

You produce your datapad, flap it stiff and check.

MISSION
C O M P L E T E

- B-Rank Mission Parameters Complete: 25k
- Target of Opportunity (Maverick, High-Value): 50k
- Intel Acquisition: 10k
- Outstanding Defense of Public Asset: 10k
TOTAL: 95,000z



They’re crediting you with the kill as a cover-up. Not only that but they made her high-value for nothing – and maybe an A-class at that. You’re never sure about the “high-value” multiplier, but you’re certain that they dumped a boatload of zenny on you to seal your lips.

Not a day back and you’re already mixed up in something unpleasant. Killing Mavericks is one thing; it’s clean, it’s honest, it’s an act of erasing bad to make space for good. But this? You wonder whether the “Public Asset” is the park or Halcyon himself.

… Then again, you were broke just a minute ago. That huge freaking payout really does make the corruption go down easy. You're a little ashamed of how ready you are to accept it. Ugh.
>>
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>>2480877

“Don’t feel sour about taking it,” Turtle advises, apparently reading your mind. “The alternative is not taking it, and then lacking the power to do the most good.”

“True enough.” You wonder how to spend it… “Where’s Skittle? And should I, y'know, worry about them getting disappeared?”

The aura of command briefly melts off the Commander and you spy a hint of your old Team Mom friend underneath. “Oh, don't worry about that. If anyone dares to harm someone in my charge over something as petty as internal politics, they will answer to me and ten thousand explosives. As for where Skittle has gotten to, I gave them a light verbal drubbing and sent them sulking back to the Lifesavers, though I expect they took the scenic route. I also locked their Spazer account until they make an apology video and submit to me codelocking their public and private Internet access when outside this base.”

You shake your head and hum disapprovingly. “You’re a cruel, cruel taskmaster, Minefield Turtle.”

“I could order them to apologize in formal wear if you like,” she grins.

“What, you want to make me an accessory to a war crime now?”

“No, Lieutenant,” she chuckles, “I want you to go do anything but fight until Noon at the earliest. That’s an order.”

“Yes ma’am,” you sound-off with a salute.


>Find Skittle, get upgrades.
>Find quarters, get nap.
>Other (specify)
>>
>>2480882
>Find Skittle, get upgrades.
We can head to our quarters after.
>>
>>2480882
>Delicious upgrades
>>
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>>2480882
>Find Skittle, get upgrades.

They are going to be SO grumpy.
>>
do we get upgrade discounts fpr things we already had on the light it's already been figured out once?
>>
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>Check Halcyon's instagram
>>
>>2480882
>Find Skittle, get upgrades.
>>
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Right, had to square some things away. They are now squared.

>>2480890
>>2480898
>>2480913
>>2481268

There’s only one place you expect to find Skittle in the morning when they’re feeling low.

You head downstairs, and deeper still.

The low-lit bar, the Eighth Hour, rumbles gently as you walk in. Its proximity to a truck ramp lends to its atmosphere. Wall panels and fixtures have a tiered-rectangle motif that becomes more obviously Aztec when you notice the mandalas on the backs of the chairs. It’s cozy, and all but empty this early.

The sole patron is at the bar in a booster seat. They down a highball with ice in it.

“Hey Skittle.”

“I hate you. Actively. I am in hate with you.”

You glance around for the bartender.

“Let myself in,” Skittle explains. “I’m an officer, am I not?”

“It’s not really an officer’s bar. It’s got hours. More than eight, but there’s a story there…”

They pitch the glass over their shoulder. “Not interested.”

“Skittle, this is the opposite of where you should be at this time of morning, come walk with me, get some sun.”

“You let a Maverick go. You walked away. You. Remember when you used to be a tank? Saw somebody die close enough you felt their blast, and you swore—”

“She’s dead, Skittle. Sphynx has been retired.”

They blink.

“Halcyon. Some spook finished her and I got the credit.”

They stare. They slap their forehead and tilt back laughing. “Universe really has a sense of humor, it does! Hoooo wow. And you took it?”

“Well I kinda had to, but yes.”

They pop a clap and flit out of their seat. “Now that almost makes up for your turn of stupid.”

“Leave it there, Scatter Seelie. You want stupid, try broadcasting a first-person Hunter op to the general public! Oh wait.

They make a yappy hand gesture. “Yeah yeah yeah, I got a shellful from Lady Fancyshell already. And Proteus slagged my next quarter’s research fund. So don’t think I’m not hurting from it. Or from you.”

“I really don’t want to get into this here, Skittle. This is… was, Jaguar’s place, and he liked it fun. You want to gripe, do it over upgrades.”

Upgrades, you say?” Skittle’s sparkling takes on new energy and they gleefully rub their hands together, their grouchiness gone in an instant.

“Yeah, I have a few ideas—”

“—No, what you have is items. Things any idiot could staple on your chassis. Ideas are for creators like yours truly. C’mon, let’s bounce.”

You head back to their modified quarantine cell, chatting all the way. Getting your friend’s mind out of the darkness is a bonus.
>>
>>2481320

UPGRADES:

VWES (select one):

>Searing Orb:
The weapon system that put the corona in Corona Sphynx. A spherical, wide-diameter, high-temperature shield nullifies weak weapons fire and deals contact damage until released in a desired direction. It has a slow rate of fire and cannot be used in tandem with other applications of your buster, but its excellent compatibility with your thermal regulation systems gives you a high-quality emulation. 12 shots, with the sustainable duration of each being 32 seconds.

>Hell Streak:
By narrowing the projection matrix of Searing Orb, you may fire a high-temperature vertically-arching stream of solar flame similar to each of the Hellpigs Three. High compatibility with your thermal regulation systems gives you 18 shots. Skittle has offered to rename its registry title “Heck Streak” at no additional cost.

>Prominence:
With Skittle’s enthusiastic help, Corona Sphinx’s DNA can be applied directly to your Meteor Melter instead. Prominence adds a charge ability to your Raw thermite, allowing you to spit an especially hot cohesive stream of molten metal at speed on a third charge level. Improves penetrative ability, i.e. damage.

>Lava Splash:
With Skittle’s enthusiastic help, Corona Sphinx’s DNA can be applied directly to your Meteor Melter instead. Lava Splash adds a charge ability to your Grenade thermite, letting it splash a large area-of-effect on a third charge level. Retains base damage over the full area.

GENERAL:

Meteor Melter:
>Rapid Spray:
Uptunes the generative rate of raw thermite, allowing you to spit it faster. 20k.
>Rocket:
Allows the grenade setting to be charged; on the second charge level, you spit a small unguided missile, greatly increasing effective range. Compatible with Lava Splash. 20k.

Weapons:
>Charge Buster:
Charge Level: Adds a third charge level, good for bosses. 10k.
>Beam Dirk:
High-Phase: Uptunes to a hi-beam. More power, but limited active use. 5k.
Blade Length: Adds 60cm to the blade, making it a “proper” saber. 5k.
Beam Dirk x2: A second stock 30cm lo-beam, 5k. High-Phase and/or Blade Length may be added to this new weapon at the same price. Color optional.
>>
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>>2481325
Frame:

Your chassis may take three upgrades to your Frame. Each new part increases your survivability in a specific way. Each upgrade costs a flat 50,000 zenny, even if it’s a higher Level of the same part.

>Solid Plating:
Level 1: Reduces incoming damage by one fourth, effectively lengthening your health bar by an extra quarter.
Level 2: Reduces incoming damage by one third of base.
Level 3: Reduces incoming damage by one half of base.

>Flex Architecture:
Level 1: Mildly increases reflexes and guards against breakage of major body parts.
Level 2: Moderately increases reflexes and limits breakage of major body parts.
Level 3: Significantly increases reflexes and all but prevents breakage of major body parts.

>Barrier Extender:
Level 1: Lengthens shield flare to 1.5 seconds and mildly hastens its refresh rate, making the invincibility cycle more difficult to thwart.
Level 2: Lengthens shield flare to 2 seconds and moderately hastens its refresh rate.
Level 3: Lengthens shield flare to 2.5 seconds and significantly hastens its refresh rate.

ZENNY:
95,000.

Select your purchase(s).
>>
>>2481325
How does Searing Orb interact with water?
>>
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>>2481327
We know we have a weakness to cutting and chassis damage.

We're also a B-rank, and we hit like one. Let's fix that.

I vote:
>Prominence
>Rapid Spray (-20k)
>Charge Buster (-10k)
>High-Phase+Blade Length on saber (-10k)
>Flex Architecture (-50k)

This gives us long-range punch, and a hellishly strong close-range deterrent and armor-cracker. Flex gives us the reflexes and mitigates some of our cutting weakness. The saber length will let us play to defense and the hibeam will create wounds that thermite will play nicely in.

Expensive but this will solidly put our punch back up.
>>
>>2481325
>>2481327
>Prominence
>Beam Dirk x2 (5k Z)
>Blade Length x2 (10k Z)
>High-Phase x2 (10k Z)

>Flex Architecture Level 1 (50k Z)
>Total: 75k Zenny

I wouldn't mind seeing us getting even better in melee combat.
>>
>>2481325
>Searing Orb

>Rapid Spray 20k
>Charge Buster 10k
>High-Phase, Blade Length 10k
>New Beam Dirk, 5k

>Flex 1
I'm thinking either 3 solid plating or 2 flex 1 solid, and flex shortens the gap a bit between what we can do right now and what experience has taught Showa.

For a grand total of fuck we're broke again.
>>
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>>2481337
If Searing Orb is submerged, the combustion effect will be nulled and the launched range will be diminished (say, from full-screen to less-than-full-screen), but the damaging temperature and limited projectile defense will remain.

There will also be bubbles. Lots and lots of bubbles.
>>
>>2481327
>Prominence
>Rapid Spray (-20k)
>Charge Buster (-10k)
>High-Phase+Blade Length on saber (-10k)
>Flex Architecture (-50k)
>>
>>2481325

How does Rocket synergize with Lava Splash? A missile with a larger payload? Or a multimissile barrage?
>>
>>2481513
A missile with a larger payload for AoE.

Rocket gives range, Splash gives... splash. Two great tastes can go together.
>>
>>2481327
>Solid Plating 1
Tonk Tonk Tonk
>High-Phase Dirk
>Blade Length Dirk
>Charge Buster
>Rapid Spray
>Prominence
>>
Any further votes? As with every other option, majority rules.
>>
>>2481327
>Prominence
>Rocket
>Beam Dirk x2
>Flex Level 1
>>
Damn, everyone but me wants prominence. I guess we're going to melt through battleships again.
>>
>>2481325
Ideas:

Melee build:

Searing Orb
Beam Dirk x2
High Phase x1
Blade Length x2
Flex Architecture
Rapid Spray

Just a suggestion. Haven't read others' suggestions yet.

My real vote is this:

>Lava Splash
>Rapid Spray (-20k)
>Rocket (-20k)
>Solid Plating (-50k)

We didn't get the rapid-fire buster, so I figure we should go for the AoE. Then again, I don't like that I don't get the Charge Buster with this option...
>>
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>>2481347
>>2481350
>>2481354
>>2481373
>>2481543
>>2481672
>>2481745

Outside Skittle’s makeshift lab, you ponder and ponder over your datapad of agreed-upon options (and one ridiculous idea Skittle had of reworking your entire chassis into an elephant because “they’d never expect it”). Your habit of conserving zenny – the very same habit that gave you the larder consumed by your week-ago thrashing – rears its head, but you swiftly stomp it.

“Skittle, I’m dumping my whole payday on this.”

Skittle speaks up over the sounds of arc welding inside. “That’s the way. Spend it before Hal changes his mind.”

“I’ll take the Prominence and Rapid Spray. I want Rocket too, but not at the expense of my other big wants. Maybe next time on that one.”

“Check and check. Next?”

“Up my buster charge, then turn your cheapo saber gift into a real boy and get me a new little one.” You think about that, now that you’ve said it out loud. “No, wait, what am I saying? Just sell me a full-length hi-beam and I’ll keep this one, that’ll be more efficient.”

“Meteor, my piscean pal, I need stuff to do. If I had toes I’d be using them to solve Rubix dodecahedrons right now, I would.”

“No you wouldn’t.”

“I totally would. Look, I’ll boost the little guy and find him a new little brother, efficiency be damned, and I’ll be happy having done it. So that’s forty-five grand, like. What’s the other fifty?”

You hesitate. You liked being a dash-tank. Your old mass was comforting; it let you feel the part you played. But you recall the giant spinning blades, and how little your mass mattered when your limbs started dropping…

“Flex. Gimme flex. First-level, anyway.”

“Nice call. You can always dip twice more in the armor bucket if you want. Or whatever mix. S’your body.”

“I look forward to it. When can you get started?”

Skittle flits back out, lifting their goggles off. “In here, like? Not before your next mish, that’s for sure. I can shoo one of the Lifesavers out of a room and get to work right now if you want.”

“And they call me a hard worker.”

“You are! But that’s cause for you it’s actual work. This?” They gesture at their tool straps. “This is the sound of me living and breathing, it is. Keeps the edge off, keeps me from thinking too long and hard about shit what makes me cross. Y’know.”

You do notice their dialect comes back stronger when they’re happier. It’s just a shame they have such a hard time getting there without being in a state of productive focus.

Getting back to strength is a way of helping them, too, you realize.

“Then let’s go shoo a Lifesaver.”

“Attagirl.”
>>
>>2481878

The upgrades and installs take a few hours. The two of you chat in the meantime about everything and nothing. You come out the other end with a range of movement you didn’t know you wanted this much until you had it, and a nice pair of beam blades to boot.

The long one has a little charm of a cartoon bat dangling from the hilt. “What’s this?”

“Little remembrance of Desmodous, that’s all.”

Plasma Desmodous, one of your old squadmates… “Wait, is he…?”

“Dunno.” Skittle meticulously puts tools away. “Kinda went off and did his own thing, I hear. I didn’t keep up with him. Not enough hours in the day. Ol’ Spotter’s doing well, though. Off in the States, working as one of Roosevelt’s handlers.”

“The Replibrain?”

“No, Zombie Teddy. Yes the Replibrain, obvs. Had a chat with him while you were out, by the way. Sends his love.”

“Aww.”

Skittle clacks a scanner tool into place and pauses.

“You ever wonder where we’d be without the Doppler War? What we’d’ve done with ourselves if it hadn’t shoved us out of PR and into combat?”

“Not really,” you test out your reflexes by tapping your thumb to your fingertips in different sequences as fast as you can. “Because a fair guess is the one that makes you cross.”

“True enough. Guess we’d better make the most of it, like.” Skittle flits out the door. “I’mma go find a bed nobody’s using and dismantle it for parts. You?”


>Test out your new toys on the range.
>Find your bed and use it for its intended purpose.
>Other (specify)
>>
>>2481884
>Test out your new toys on the range.

Ehh, might as well. Get a feel for them real quick.
>>
>>2481884
>Find your bed and use it for its intended purpose.
Let's digest a bit.
>>
>>2481884
>>Find your bed and use it for its intended purpose.
Be up and at em for....whatever.

I guess we shouldn't really be alert for the next game until the statue of liberty starts shooting lasers.
>>
> bed
Short answer because I’m on my phone
>>
>>2481911
I'll change my vote towards
>Find your bed and use it for its intended purpose.

It *has* been a while since we've slept, and we can always test ourselves out the next day.
>>
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>>2481938

Here is a spoiler:

The scope of Shooting Star is more limited than Maverick Hunter Quest proper. While I greatly, greatly respect Hunter Command and CainLabs for starting and then carrying on such a long and involved quest in the absence of new Mega Man X games (and non-crossover content), I am not prepared to dedicate as much of my life to this as they have.

There is an end point to player agency (and therefore the game) in this quest, and that point is "before X5." That's the rule I've set for myself.
>>
>>2481968
That's fair.

Hopefully we can get a lot of fun out of this quest before then!
>>
>>2482001
Yes indeed. Though keeping teacher hours for the next month will make it interesting...
>>
Upgrades stack? Then we missed the obviously optimal option:

Upgrade to high beam 5,000Z
18x Extend Blade Length 90,000Z

A 10 meter highbeam can solve any problem
>>
>>2482110
My god.... The Power......
>>
>>2482110
>Sheath Mantis
>>Has an integrated Saberpack that triples beam length for one slash
>>....that's it. Fucker has some real fast arms, though.
>>
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>>2482110
>>
>>2482110
I'm familiar with this school of Reploid design.
The school OF THE UNDEFEATED OF THE EAST
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhwdPdtQs94
>>
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>>2482203
This ability to harm humans, allowing the deceased Mavericks to keep on resurrecting... I’m positive, this guy has aquired abilities of the Maverick Virus WITH THE HELP OF SIGMA!!!
>>
>>2482110
Shit, it followed me here. Sorry, Scarab.
>>
>>2482606
>Solstrike Orb

By hybridizing the defensive properties of Corona Sphynx with the sheer output of Solstrike Saetos, we can create a Giga Attack that silences the battlefield. When active, a massive spherical shield wraps the wearer in solar fury. Sensitive optics are outright destroyed, while all plasma within a 5 meter radius loses cohesion.

When released, the shield explodes in an expanding wave that can be used for cover. Due to issues of power management and potential self-harm, the shield cannot be launched. 2 uses, 8 seconds.
>>
>>2482110
Yesssss
>>
>>2482592
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XargtseX6cE
>>
>>2482606
>>2482110
Looks like even Build Divers is getting in on this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPoX-M-CGHo#t=20m50s
>>
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>>2481937
>>2481938
>>2481959
>>2481962

“I’ve got my own bed, thanks.”

“Is it fishbowl? ‘Cause I can make it a fishbowl.”

“It’s not a fishbowl.”

“Grill?”

“Take care, Skittle,” you turn and go.

The barracks building is just next door. Your room’s on a corner, still a little Spartan in floor furniture but with walls full of historical value: links to history, shelf by shelf, glass cube by glass cube. A signed hardcover of Terry Pratchett’s “Feet of Clay.” A campaign poster for Japan’s first female Prime Minister, also signed. An empty E-tank with a low serial number. The stand-mounted helmet of a Splash Woman robot master. And so on.

The shelves nearest to your recharge pod are less obviously a museum until one reads the labels: a chunk of concrete from the Berlin Wall, bolts from the fallen Golden Gate Bridge, bricks from underwater Mumbai. You like collecting pieces of lost things, just for yourself, as reminders not to join them.

The bed-pod stands angled against the wall. There’s a portable cooler with a big bottle of strawberry-mango daiquiri in it. Oh right…

“Heh.” You’ll have to explain to Atajo why you didn’t call in for nav support. Then again, he probably saw why you didn’t, same as everybody else.

It’s way too early for drinking, though, so you hop into bed and set it to wake you at Noon.

You wake a few minutes before that to a knock at your door.

“Mimi! You asleep?”

“Yes.”

“Then who’s that talking?” Deco plays along.

You roll neatly out of the pod. “I’m the ghost of Splash Woman dee-six, retired before my time and haunting my descendants!”

“Oh no! What works on ghosts, rosemary?”

You slide the door open and meet Deco’s smile. “That’s demons. Robot mermaid ghosts, you want to use petrol.”

“Darn. Aa~aanyway, wanna walk and talk?”

“Yeah, I should get back to work soon.” The door shuts behind you. “You don’t have to follow up all my ops personally, y’know, that’s what your staff is for.”

Deco laughs as you two set out. “Says the lady whose staff had four-hour days.”

“Hey,” you friend-punch her arm, “that’s just me being a good boss. Was, I mean. I guess I’ll have to find another hobby.”

“You could be a stream host,” she jokes. “Do skits with your fairy buddy.”

“Har har.”

“No, really! You had that segment on that history show, right? You can do it again, I’d host viewing parties!”

She probably would. With banners. And fancy invites sent to Halcyon’s inbox.

“Writing a segment takes longer than you think,” you evade, “and keeping the lines punchy without talking down to the audience is the hardest part. I’d much rather be in the field, and hey speaking of which how’d I do?”
>>
>>2482917

“Pretty well,” Deco changes tack, “considering that definitely wasn’t a B-Rank mission.”

“I know, right?”

“Sphynx wasn’t a good boss, I can tell you that,” Deco’s Summer-sunny demeanor dims to mere on-the-job illumination. “The pigs were border-patrol models from Ukraine, modded on-site in one of the barns. We found trace metal scraps suggesting traumatic ends for no less than six Steel Berets. The Worm Seeker was one of two, as we found out first-hand.”

“Injuries?”

“A few. We wouldn’t be fit for the job if we went unarmed, of course. The segmented model was a straight buy, however, out of a firm in Guangdong.”

“Is that legal?”

“About as legal as anything else going on there.”

“I can believe it. And Sphynx herself?”

“She was an A, but she wasn’t taking you seriously. That buster had a conventional charge to it and her high-vee solids were variable. Imagine your Melter, the size of a thumb, going twenty-one hundred a second. Or exploding rounds.”

“Ouch. Why’s she just use piercers, then?”

“Arrogance? Back-pocket? Fun? Beats me. Her real trick was that shield. You pick it up?”

“No, Skittle meshed it to my Melter. I can spit a lot harder now with a buildup.”

Deco crinkles her nose as you enter the command building. “You sure you want to keep the emitter in your mouth? Not, like, in your hand?”

“Yep. I don’t really care if Mavericks get grossed out. Spare a thought for all the skunks out there before you worry about me.”

“Ugh, I know, right? My ex had an ex who was a honeypot ant.”

“Not from Third, was she?”

“No, a different one, civ. One time when they were…”

In no time at all you’re back in the command room, laughing at the end of Deco’s story.

“Oh gosh, NEVER tell that to Skittle, they’d get ideas.”

“Well I’m going to have to, now, aren’t I?”

“I’m serious, the weaponized glitter is bad enough, don’t let them add epoxy.”

“Aww,” she pouts, “they seem fun, why didn’t you introduce us?”

“Because you’re my friend, and if matter meets antimatter—”

“Ladies?” Turtle threatens, looking over from the monitor wall. “Don’t let me mistake this for a workplace, now.”

“Sorry ma’am,” you chorus. You continue solo, “Ready for my next op.”

“You know the interface,” Turtle resumes monitoring. “Both of you.”

“Yes ma’am.” You and Deco match goodbye nods and find a terminal each. Your roster still has Nouveau’s commentary attached.

Select your next Maverick.
>>
>>2482926

ARC MORPHO (A-class, high)
>Known Weaponry:
Dancing Spark, Shining Spark, Photon Lance, Photon Glare, Falling Glass
>Personality:
Zealous SIGINT specialist, calculating and fond of misdirection.
>Commentary:
I remember her. She served the 0th Unit here until Repliforce poached her like so many others. She and her forces took over an antenna array in the Andes and are using it to intrusively broadcast propaganda on multiple bands while insinuating messages into normal media. Her public slanders are just annoying for now, but her rapid coordination with the rest of Repliforce is going to make battles worse for everyone until you shut her up. Hit her hard and often – she will absolutely see you coming, and I hear she has phenomenal shields.
>Available Support:
2nd Reconnaissance

SOUNDING HUMPBACK (A-class, high)
>Known Weaponry:
Chorus Cannon, Shock Lance, Depth Note, Bubble Net
>Personality:
Protective, which makes her dangerous. She’ll pull no punches because she can’t afford to lose.
>Commentary:
Your old friend in the Sixth whom you had so judiciously refused to discharge despite her controversial socio-political views. Literally the minute that we got word of Final Weapon going down, she and her team dropped all contact. Forty-one hours later they turned up in the company of a pirate crew on an old wave-farm rig in the South Atlantic. They’ve declared it the Free State of Light. Known criminals and ex-Repliforce are gathering there to enjoy her protection, but we can’t simply bombard it because, unbelievably, some of the scum is human. Sink Humpback and any pirates you can so that follow-up teams can save the humans from themselves.
>Available Support:
6th Marine Armada

CHASER GIRTABOMB (A-class)
>Known Weaponry:
Clutch Bomb, Denial Vulcan, Beam Skate, War Tail
>Personality:
Arrogant hotshot with the skill to back his mouth. Loves a good beatdown.
>Commentary:
One of my favorite Battle & Chase competitors, actually, until he turned Repliforce the minute the war started. Six days ago he and a sizable contingent took the Maracaibo Speedway and converted the neighboring automotive plant into a war factory. I have a handful of Hunters chomping at the bit to knock him out – apparently old fans of his too – but I picked you because you’re familiar with all the mechaniloids that place is producing. Air and sea assault is untenable due to the urban proximity and all the guns they put up, so you’re going in on his turf.
>Available Support:
1st Advance
>>
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>>2482928

DEEPWELL ORANGUTANK (A-class)
>Known Weaponry:
Fracture Drills, Well Bore, Hydro Spike
>Personality:
Once a credit to the scientific community, now erratic and dangerously paranoid.
>Commentary:
Last month this renowned geologist sealed himself in his underground lab for fear of Mavericks coming to get him. We tried repeated contacts, even telling him that Repliforce collapsed, but he kept raving about how we’re all Sigma trying to trick him. His assistants swore they could get through to him, but now they’ve stopped responding, which makes us think he killed them all. To make matters worse, his lab is a Venezuelan cave complex where energen deposits are now harvest-ready. We need that resource to help rebuild, and if there’s a mad ape ready to attack anyone who goes down there… we can’t have that.
>Available Support:
None

ARBOR ELK (B-class, high)
>Known Weaponry:
Arbor Wall, Logger Axe, Antlers
>Personality:
Strong, silent type. Clearly cares more for reploids than humans.
>Commentary:
Straightforward, this. Elk managed an artificial forest in the Ouachita Mountains until three weeks ago, when he killed every human worker and started taking in civilian Repliforce sympathizers. We were a little too busy at the time to deal with him, but now it seems he’s harboring Repliforce combatants, which makes him a priority. I nearly put him on my own roster, but you’re better suited to him and to his environment. You’re welcome. Just stay clear of his axe.
>Available Support:
None
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>>2482933

LIEGE ITERATTON (B-class)
>Known Weaponry:
Multiply Plague, Infection Legion, Command Thrall, Incisors
>Personality:
Megalomaniacal lunatic, presumed viral.
>Commentary:
This little freak used to be a C-class sneak thief, but during the war he went all Reploid Freedom Now. With Maverick assistance he incorporated Pararoid tech into his rat drones, which lets him control affected reploid bodies, and used that to take over an arcology and surrounding farm in rural Oklahoma. Every human worker is dead and every reploid and mechaniloid is enthralled. Furthermore, recent atmospheric tests show that the entire property is now unfit for human consumption and will have to be burned and demolished, so don’t hold back your fire.
>Available Support:
None

FREEZER OSTENOPS (B-class)
>Known Weaponry:
Fluid Lockdown, Cold Breath, Fan Cooling
>Personality:
Erudite, likely to go straight for weaknesses.
>Commentary:
Disgraced academic. He was vocally supportive of Repliforce and got himself arrested, but the day Final Weapon fell, leftover Repliforce broke him out. With his help, they captured his old workplace – a deep-freeze bio-vault at the University of Larsen in the South Shetlands – and are holding it ransom in exchange for amnesty for all ex-Repliforce. They haven’t taken human hostages, so some idiot pundits think they’re sincere, but frankly an amnesty is never going to happen. Command wants every one of them retired, ideally with minimal damage to the vault.
>Available Support:
None
>>
I'm inclined towards either Arbor Elk or Freezer Ostenops--the former has an axe and we now have fast-building raw thermite hell.

The latter's an ice type, and to my knowledge we're not vulnerable. We're also likely as minimally destructive as we're going to be, as far as collateral goes.

What do you guys think?
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>>2482110
Upgrades stack, and sabers can be modded. However, Skittle needs time to build up their upgrade lab to even begin to consider Peak Stupid.

And no I am not saying that SWORD will be a thing. Just that creative applications will take time to unlock.
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>>2482606
MHQ is MHQ.
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>>2482937
>Freezer Ostentop
Seems like the weakest remaining.
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>>2482933
>ARBOR ELK

Both because he's likely weak to our Melter, and because I'm curious about him considering he's a template character for the MHQ TT system.
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I'm going to vote for Arbor Elk--he's got actual blood on his hands, whereas Ostenops at least is more political and, so far, contained.
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>Happy Arbor Day
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>>2483142
>>2483331
>>2483453

You pull up Arbor Elk’s file for a closer look. You’ve heard his story before: built to purpose, did his purpose, turned to the dark and made his purpose a problem for everybody. His human workers didn’t deserve what the pictures show his axe and WEAPON system did to them.

Aerial scans show a definite Repliforce presence, well-armed and well-coordinated, using the trees for cover. The major concentration is occupying a logging facility around a river valley. They’ve established an interdiction field, but 1st Advance did forty-five minutes of token work hiding a secure beam-in pad for you. They report that Elk is “at large,” roaming as active defense. When you’re ready to beam out, the pad will take you without alerting him or area forces.

No time like the present. You make your selection.

“Pig hunting in the morning, deer hunting in the afternoon,” you remark.

“You oughta get a camo jacket and a bad hat,” Deco teases.

“I don’t look good in hats.” You head to the beamout pad. “Antlers, maybe…”


--


NEXT TIME, THREAD 3:

Meteor Showa celebrates Arbor Day!

Repliforce tries to prevent forest fires!

Scarab tries to think of more ways to fill /qst/’s ample space after a decade of trying to write concisely!

Bookmark the archive for later viewing and voting: http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=Shooting+Star

And thanks for playing!


Thread is now open to questions and comments and upgrade speculations of any kind. I am here to serve.
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Iteratton, if the whole stage has to be burned to the ground HOO BURN BURN TO THE GROUND BURN TO THE we shouldn't let whatever caused it spread.
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>>2483768
I made a post and another vote snuck in right behind it, isn't that always the way. Still, Elk was the majority favorite. I intend to leave voting on upgrades and boss selection open for longer than other options, so in the future you'll still have a big window through which to toss your choice. Maybe next time!
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>>2483764
Thanks for running! I'll try to brain up some questions but I can't brain so good for the last couple weeks.
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>>2483764
>Thread is now open to questions and comments and upgrade speculations of any kind. I am here to serve.
I have questions. Questions about Roosevelt.
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>>2483764
Important questions:
1. Do we have our own Spazer account
2. If yes, is it full of kitten gifs and Hunter memes
3. If no, when can we start an account and fill it with kittens and memes
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>>2483811

Almost immediately after the advent of the reploids, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proposed modifying the technology into what are now called Replibrains: intelligent self-aware supercomputers with minimal personality and maximum repetitive-task computational power. MIT's proof-of-concept, developed in partnership with CainLabs, was named "Chomsky."

Chomsky's impressive capabilities drove many nations to build (or attempt to build) their own. In a minor domestic scandal at the time, the United States drew from its own defense budget to construct Roosevelt, a Replibrain tasked with increasing the efficiency of the colossal American military apparatus. It succeeded beyond its creators' wildest hopes and was eventually given more and more domestic functions.

The march of technology soon saw Roosevelt lag well behind newer Replibrains such as those produced by the Maverick Hunters' Greek Division. Some called for a second national Replibrain, but the United States's living memories of domestic internecine conflict made legislators and the public reluctant to give up such centralized government computation. Rather than being replaced, the first-generation Roosevelt was expanded and built upon by multiple defense contractors in a regrettably slapdash manner that led to inefficiency and function bloat.

The composite American Replibrain now requires a relatively large team of specialized technicians to guarantee its proper operation: the Office of Replibrain Management under the Department of Energy, Science, and Technology (DEST). One such technician is Spotter Ocelot, coincidentally a former Maverick Hunter and squadmate of Meteor Showa.
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>>2483831

1. Yes.

2. Your public Spazer account is full of interesting historical maps, pictures of underwater ruins, videos of past-century robotics, occasional Hunter memes ("for camaraderie"), pro-Hunter reploid intellectualism reblogs ("rebeams"), and captioned clips from The Walt Disney Company's popular animated film renditions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

3. Your private Spazer account is full of memes and wildlife photos which do occasionally feature kittens.
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>>2484016
>and captioned clips from The Walt Disney Company's popular animated film renditions of Terry Pratchett's Discworld.

No matter what I can definitely say that X has the better world.
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has meteor ever got mad enough that she ever actually swore and if so what led up to that and what were her and everyone else reaction?

Also thanks for the run
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>>2484070
Yes, once, at a teammate who was about to go too far. It was suitably shocking to all involved.
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>>2484038
By 21XX they had also absorbed Dreamworks, Aardman Animations, and Rooster Teeth.
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>>2484108
I take it back.
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>>2484123
NONE SHALL ESCAPE THE HUNGER OF THE MOUSE.
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>>2484131
That brings up an interesting legal question. If someone were to build a Mickey Mouse reploid and activate them in secret, would the reploid be legally forced to get chassis and name changes because of copyright violations?

And now I'm imagining a load of Maverick-built Disney-based reploids being sent to invade DisneyWorld. Great.
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>>2484186
Don't worry, The Mouse has excellent security for its parks in 21xx.
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>>2484244
Get ready for Maverick Hunter Quest: Disney Security Squad edition! Coming never.
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>>2484186
This actually happened, once. A rich sociopath commissioned a Mickey Mouse reploid in order to prompt a legal battle that would, he hoped, finally force the character (and thereby the cornerstone of the Disney empire) into the public domain.

After fourteen months of legal battles, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was not illegal for a reploid simulacrum of an intellectual property character to exist. The reploid, after all, had no say in the matter; they didn't ask to be made.

It was, however, illegal for a reploid to simultaneously possess both the appearance and the name of a character whose copyright was not held by either their builder or they themselves. Only if a reploid's builder or the reploid themself possessed the IP rights to a given character could the reploid both look like and be called by the name of that character.

It was furthermore deemed illegal for anyone to build a reploid version of a fictional character for whom they did not possess the intellectual property rights.

The Court ordered the reploid construction firm that built "Mickey Mouse" to surrender all of his design documents and forward the price they had been paid for him to The Walt Disney Company. They further ruled that the commissioner was liable for one new copyright infringement fine every twenty-four hours for the rest of the reploid's natural life span, which to the best estimates of CainLabs was "in perpetuity."

The Walt Disney Company swiftly hired Mickey Mouse for the position of public performer at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. He still occasionally performs there to this day, though he also serves in a high-level managerial position. Shrewd legal maneuvering awarded him retroactive rights over his own image, which he then sold back to Disney in exchange for a controlling stake in the company.
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>>2484410
well at least the repolid was able to make the best of a shit situation. Wonder if he's still bitter over it or smug that in the end he ended up on top?
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>>2484426
Smug as hell and surrounded by some of the best lawyers in the country, the kind who themselves are celebrities for representing him.
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>>2484438
I'm guessing he was built to be a lawyer himself, designed to look like Mickey Mouse for the sake of irony?
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>>2484451
He wasn't built for any purpose but to look and sound like a cartoon character in order to screw with copyright laws. This left him somewhat resentful, and motivated him to draw as much personal power as he could from his lot in life.
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>>2484464
how much funding does he give to the maverick hunters? I feel that he would be extra opposed to the idea of a virus that forces reploids to do things they never wanted to do in the first place.
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>>2484464
That commissioner really missed out on a golden opportunity then. You just know there'd be multiple lawyer reploids designed like mice, even before Robomickey, just to troll Disney.
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>>2482937
>FREEZER OSTENOPS (B-class)
A biovault sounds like a much bigger problem to leave for several days than a couple reploid combatants and a lot of civilian sympathizers.
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>>2484512
A significant sum. Mavericks do not fit in Disney's requirements for the world.

>>2484545
Votes have been called, sorry! I'll leave the options up for longer next thread.
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>>2484619
Uhh, even if it means my vote doesn't count, I don't think you should leave one up for 9 hours if you don't have to.
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>>2484654
True, but I meant more like overnight if I can time it right.
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>>2484545
I'm definitely voting for that maverick next.
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>>2484669
Found this thread too late.

>>2485365
I'm voting for the butterfly next: That media bombardment is going to worsen things more and more over time. If not her next, get a weapon from someone that can deal with her shields.


Am I right in thinking how each of these reploids' elements work, or would that be too spoilerific?

Morpho - light/shields/decoys
Humpback - sound/water
Girtabomb - bombs/guns
Orangutank - earth/drills
Elk - blades/wood
Iteratton - dark/drones
Ostentops - ice/slow
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>>2485380
My guess is that sound goes through shields.

So searing Orb nosells Ostentops' slow, Ostentops does aoe crowd control to lockdown iteratton, dark drones get rid of morphos decoys and limit her optimal environment, decoys beat the melee axe, axe facetanks humpback and wrecks her, sound remote triggers bombs, and we bait drills into drilling into some bombs.....and drills would armor pen the hellpigs and pierce the shield.
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>>2485380
Morpho's weapon names imply she's got both light and electric elements, and Iteratton might be able to spread actual biological diseases in addition to cybernetic ones.
I'd go ahead and guess Girtabomb's element is speed - it works for Quick Man.

>>2485398
So far I have sphynx's fire burns through elk's forest, forest blocks girtabomb's navigation, morpho shorts out/irradiates iterattion's diseases, ostenops' cooling weathers sphynx's fire.
Girtabomb's gofast might counter ostenops' goslow, but that would make a weakness flowchart with just half of the bosses, though that's happened a few times in the Classic games. An alternative could be Orangutank drilling through cryomer
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>>2485416
Sphynx is defensive though, she didn't have anything that could burn down a forest.

Forest blocks bomb I can believe, and light might work on iteratton if the disease can be overloaded.

I completely disagree with ostenops->sphynx, even ignoring the ice/fire/electric triangle.
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>>2485436
>she didn't have anything that could burn down a forest.
Defensive fire is still fire.
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>>2485437
Fire is actually very slow at spreading through a forest. Trees are too wet. Physically ramming all the trees to set them on fire sounds.....inefficient.

If the forest was dry enough that any little spark will set it off, our thermite would do and would benefit more from a wind-based weapon.
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>>2485380
I think that'd be a good idea. I'm reasonably sure Elk beats Morpho. Also, the longer we wait, the more the public will think Morpho was getting closer to something we didn't want to get out.

According to MMX and MMX3, metal blades have a type advantage against laser/light types. And then in MMX8, Panda's Grass/Explosion beat Optic Sunflower. I bet Morpho beats Iteratton, too.

Of course, it's not safe to rely on that; any of these could be outliers. Shining Firefly/Izzy Glow was weak to electricity, after all.
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test
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>>2485520
0/10. Failed.
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I love this speculation going on.

Here's something else I love: a friend of mine, entirely without my prompting, sketched out our protagonist!

Not pictured are some finer design points I envisioned (such as less color symmetry and some standard reploid kibble), but this rendition matches some main points (such as overall shape) perfectly.
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>>2485525
Neat! I like the look of it so far.
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>>2485525
Now imagine that face making out with someone.
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>>2484619

So they want to build their own magical kingdom

free of mavericks

... after the elf wars, I have a guess who X is gonna hire
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>>2485525
something something, female facial hair jokes.
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>>2485525
...I just realized she's designed to have sandals.
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>>2486958
Koi have them!

>>2486989
The geta sandals weren't something I planned, just a feature that particular artist put in because they felt like it. Artistic license!
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One attempt at Meteor Showa fresh off the press.
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>>2487090
>Koi have them!
won't stop people from making the jokes
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>>2487090
Can't imagine geta are too great when you need to move quickly in sand, though.
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>>2487291
Nice! Art is always welcome.

>>2487414
Perhaps not. She heard 'em all a long time ago.

>>2488648
True. Maybe she stuck them on just for fun.




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