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Beyond ‘X’ Book VI latest post Ch 2 pt 3, 2nd June 15
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PostPosted: Tue, 12. May 15, 10:43    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Thanks for commenting stads

Yes I am going to be delving into some SARC stuff in the future.

Sorry everyone 13 was a bit messy in review. More typos than usual and - a big glaring error - slipped by me in relation to what needed said aloud and what was actually sent via communications.

I have fixed all the above stuff with a hasty edit - I hope.


Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.
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Joined: 19 Apr 2005
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PostPosted: Mon, 18. May 15, 10:50    Post subject: Reply with quote Print


[When ‘Mabel’ and I finally exited the slow elevator, we could hear voices on the eighteenth floor. ‘Short’ and someone else, I guessed from all the hissing s’sss going on she was talking with another ‘Recycler’ it sounded friendly too. True enough we soon saw ‘Short’ and another only slightly smaller and equally martial looking ‘Recycler’ standing in what we in ‘Short Six’ had firmly labelled the Boring Corridor.]

[I stopped as ‘Mabel’ continued into the suite she shared with ‘Ingrid’ and ‘Jack’.]

“This one ‘Bluu’, is ‘Opposable’ an old Bounty Hunter associate of mine come calling with a job proposal interestingly another ‘Quiet Contract’ it must be my lucky week.” [‘Short’ stated.]

“Unusual name.” [I said.]

“On my first real job a drug crazed ‘Omerta’ hacked my left thumb off. I have firmly said no to drugs and drugged up crazies ever since that incident, partly why I took this particular ‘Quiet Contract’. I hate egg stealing drug users especially ‘Omerta’ and ‘Recycler’ egg stealing and sucking drug user manufacturers and pushers.” [‘Opposable’ admitted showing me a mechanical left thumb that she wiggled for emphasis.]

“By all reports ‘Opposable’ here never let the loss of her original thumb slow her down from doing some big damage to the ‘Omerta Gangers’. People say she showed great pluck in her first official Bounty Hunter fight my kind of ‘Recycler’.” [‘Short’ stated.]

[I wondered what people and how ‘Short’ or her ‘Proxy’ first met this one.]

“I still had one good hand and unlike those ‘Omerta’ scum full use of my mental faculties and a ‘Neural Net’ I ordered to dull the pain. Oddly, that stupid ‘Omerta’, with the ever so sharp diamond glass edged machete, gave me more than a permanent prosthetic reminder of his sort’s mania he gave my life far greater focus too.” [‘Opposable’ admitted.]

“Sometimes the bad things that happen to us define us although that is not always the best way to go for every ‘Pilgrim’ you seem to have done alright out of your vendetta ‘Opposable’.” [‘Short’ admitted.]

“Well I hope you are not in a big hurry to do some damage today to more drug abusers because I am still going for a water change and a ‘Dry Suit’ service no offence to you ‘Opposable’ or any pressing business you might have cooking.” [I burbled.]

“No offence taken little ‘Swimmer’ I completely understand the need for post job essentials we Bounty Hunters need our down time. In fact any Warrior must look after his or her scale, skin, blubber and / or armour.” [‘Opposable’ replied jovially.]

“I think I could become friends with this ‘Recycler’ but I must go.” [I told ‘Short’.]

[I left ‘Short’ and ‘Opposable’ to it whilst I wondered if I could order a ‘Suit Service’ via room service. My hope being that the hotel knew some travelling engineer that did house calls feeling a bit tired and lazy I refused to even consider trawling through ‘Link Advertisements’. Trawling ‘Links’ felt too much akin to more work for ‘Short’. Sometimes annoyingly ‘Short’ seemed to think ‘Bluu’ was her ‘Personal Assistant’ for ‘Link’ work. Although I found ‘Opposable’ agreeable enough so far thinking about another impending job so soon I began to feel a bit stressed with ‘Short’. ‘Short’ could have at least let me reach the comforting safe haven of my hotel suite before troubling my mind with thoughts about the next martial engagement. You truly can have too much of a good thing and we were flush with credits as a squad so what was the panic?]

[My guess was a cursed ‘Proxy’ had sent ‘Opposable’ our way no doubt ‘Opposable’ was more accurately an old friend courted by ‘Proxy Short’ not ‘Short / UT’ . Yes I know that was me leaping very directly to questionable conclusions but I was slipping into a bad mood feeling somewhat used by the ‘Proxy’ of ‘Unholy Terror’. Having a mere ‘Cognitive Sub Core’ - a mere digital shadow of the real thing - ordering me the ‘Many Truths’ around as if my ship Captain came upon me in that instant as sharply aggravating making me almost want to rage in anger. I had the inappropriate ‘Pan-Nid’ style urge to squeeze the life out of somebody with my little ‘Swimmer’ tentacles instead I just remained all hot and irritable despite my temperature adjusted water.]

[I contacted room service and they said it was a non-standard request but they would endeavour to procure a travelling engineer that compliance mollifying my failing mood slightly but I still felt a degree of almost irrational irritation with ‘Short / UT’ and her / his ‘Proxy’. Stomping heavily into the kitchen area, (the ‘MCH’ generously allowed self-catering providing all the necessary amenities in the biggest suites). With the aid of two hastily attached ‘Suit’ utility hoses one for input the other for output, I tapped into a fresh water supply whilst pumping my old water down the sink waste disposal unit at the same time. A sort of out with the old and in with the new situation that seemed appropriate to my troubled state of mind.]

[I did not hear ‘Ingrid’ approach as I was preoccupied with my various angry inner thoughts about manipulative ‘Proxies’ and with doing my water changing task in addition, she was in her bare feet and so not making much noise even on the luxurious genuine hardwood kitchen tiles.]

“Blessed ‘Emissary’ that cannot be sanitary.” [‘Ingrid’ complained at me I noticed that our ‘Omerta User’ had divested from her ‘Suit Substance’ armour and now wore a simple bathrobe.]

“I assumed both shower rooms would be occupied as I was late getting in.” [I burbled back.]

“Both showers are occupied somehow annoyingly ‘Jack’ and ‘Mabel’ both managed to reach the showers first and both of them refused to share with me - yes even ‘Jack’ - I do not know what that is about. Still, I suppose this is what I get for not rushing straight to the prize by messing around first with my ‘Suit Substance Battle Suit’ feeding it some ‘Infusion Material’ and having it regenerate ammo stores. Nonetheless, occupied showers is no excuse for you to be doing this one in the kitchen - as ‘Short’ is always reminding us - you pee and poop in that water and now you are flushing it down the kitchen sink were some of us might want to wash and prepare food later that is just too gross.” [‘Ingrid’ continued to complain.]

“Please you lot always order food in or go to some street vendor or at a pinch the somewhat expensive hotel restaurant. Besides, the water has been thorough my scrubbing system and even at this late stage is over ninety eight percent free of contaminants according to my diagnostics.” [I promised.]

“If it was so clean you would not want rid of it. Whom do you think you are fooling here? It stinks really badly.” [‘Ingrid’ retorted holding her little pinkish nose.]

“Now you are just being a typical over pristine ‘User’ drama queen. If you do not like the smell of a - real - ‘Swimmer’ go back to your own suite with its sweaty sheet ‘Omerta’ stinks and so on.” [I burbled back.]

“Pardon how would you know how our beds smell?” [She stated.]

“Call it an educated guess.” [I replied.]

“Trust me, I am going soon enough, I just wondered if ‘Short’ had finished talking with her friend yet.” [She explained.]

“Why?” [I asked.]

“I want to know how much free time we have to play with as ‘Jack’ and I… well what ‘Jack’ and I are planning to do later with our free time is none of your business little aquatic ‘Swimmer’.” [She added.]

[I hated when they all called me - little - just because I was smaller than them did not mean I was somehow lesser anymore than them being bigger made them somehow greater. I then recalled all the times as a vast ‘Living Hull’ that I considered ‘Passenger Class’ folk as - little - ‘Pilgrims’ in my minds eye so I let that one pass.]

“You can relax we are going nowhere too soon. It will be a ‘Short Six’ mutiny even from me if ‘Short’ demands we move out again immediately. Even our slave driving ‘Great Cybernetic Leader’ must know we all need a little time to recoup, repair and re-supply and apparently also to do other um… business to our satisfaction. As to you why bother thinking about showering first when you are planning to get all dirty with ‘Jack’.” [I jested.]

“There is dirty and dirty and they are not generally compatible states. Sadly regarding our free time I know ‘Short’ can get a bit overly enthusiastic about work procurement when she is all hyped-up.” [‘Ingrid’ reminded.]

“Tell me something I do not know.” [I burbled back.]

“Fine, next time use the proper ‘Biological Waste Recycler’ for dirty water disposal or you will be facing the wrath of the rest of ‘Short Six’. Seriously ‘Bluu’, I can guarantee that all the rest of us find what you are doing here disgusting.” [‘Ingrid’ insisted.]

“I did plan to thoroughly disinfect the sink afterwards it will be as if I was never here so what is the problem?” [I asked.]

“I will know you were here - this is not a smell or an image I will soon forget - now I am definitely not ever cooking here in this kitchen. Sometimes cleanliness is as much in the mind as anywhere else and you just tainted this kitchen for me.” [‘Ingrid’ stated.]

“Thanks that would be a boon to the digestion of the entirety of ‘Short Six’.” [I burbled back.]

“My cooking is hardly that bad I make a mean toasted sandwich.” [She retorted.]

“You better not be doing what I think you are doing ‘Bluu’.” [‘Short’ complained after stomping in to join the conversation.] “Mother of Nests you are - the fishy stink - the unsanitary unclean horror!” [She hissed out in an exaggerated manner.]

“I told you.” [‘Ingrid’ stated.]

“You are both being utterly ridiculous it is just some cursed used water. Get over it, you flaky dry skinned landlubber bipeds.” [I burbled back.]

“Dry skinned that is an insult to my super supple glossy well polished scales and usually well maintained cybernetic armour too.” [‘Short’ claimed.]

[I gave him a look that challenged his words but I also decided to change the subject.]

“I am guessing your friend is gone already that was quick.” [I retorted whilst finally beginning to luxuriate in much fresher water full of new essential ‘Suit’ released additives that began soothing my sensitive skin of various aches and pains. Maybe my aches had contributed to my earlier sour mood. I yearned to swim more free. Perhaps I needed to visit a roomy ‘Tri-centre City’ ‘Swimmer’ public pool I knew there were a few scattered around.]

“We did the business side of our talk via customary ‘Recycler’ speeded data blasts, after getting reacquainted.” [‘Short’ stated.] “She has a nice ‘Quiet Contract Extermination Op’ she needs some help with and hearing I was on ‘A3’ and better yet staying in ‘Tri-centre City’ with a full squad naturally ‘Opposable’ came straight to recruit me well… us. The joy of having a solid reputation is that sometimes you do not even need to go looking for work the jobs come walking right over to you.”

“An ‘Extermination Operation’ that sounds unnecessarily cruel even without hearing any further details.” [I complained still in a very complaining mood at least about our work.]

“Kill, remove, delete or scrub out a very unwanted ‘Deck Gang’ that has taken over a ‘Skyscraper’ the ‘North Star Tower’ that was closed for a time and foolishly only lightly guarded - mostly by automated assets - whilst under renovation. A bunch of ‘Recyclers’ who own the premises want the squatting ‘Recycler Deck Gang’ out - by any means necessary. The ‘Recycler’ miscreant squatters abusing the place as an illegal drug and cognitive digital virus manufactory as well as their home base ‘Nest’ are apparently nothing less than hardcore ‘Recycler Reality Benders’ that fact very much pulling the interest of young ‘Opposable’.” [‘Short’ advised.]

[‘Recycler Reality Benders’ remain firmly amongst the worst of the worst of ‘Recycler’ society dropouts within the ‘Ultra-nation’. The no compromises addicts use both a cocktail of mind-altering drugs along with cognitive digital viruses to frequently enter a state of radically altered reality whilst - ‘Shifting the Real’ - as it is also known they can be either harmless or crazed and exceptionally dangerous sometimes shifting from one state to the other in nanoseconds to public consternation and peril.]

[‘Reality Benders’ are usually ‘Recyclers’ already suffering from serious social integration problems and in a way self-medicating when they ‘Shift the Real’ but mostly ‘Reality Bending’ only makes their problems steadily worse. These addicts are definitely not ‘Pilgrims’ anyone sensible wants as neighbours.]

[‘Reality Benders’ still able to control their habit to some extent usually have a friend monitor them whilst ‘Shifting the Real’ and usually ‘Shift’ in a locked safe room with padded walls and so on. Sadly such precautions do not always work and even careful ‘Reality Benders’ going violent due to a bad trip frequently break out and cause all kinds of mayhem often committing massive amounts of property damage assault and even murder whilst believing they are doing something else. Due to the lethality of some of these ‘Shifting the Real’ addicts ‘Reality Bending’ is illegal almost everywhere in the ‘Ultra-nation’. In fact, the psychologically addictive habit is deemed so hardcore and perilous to be around that anyone identified as ‘Shifting’ is open to suffering an automatic death sentence execution on most ‘Ports’ and ‘Slivers’ and ‘Alpha Three’ is no exception to that harsh rule of law.]

“Anyway our employers are livid at being forced over budget and over contract by a bunch of crazed drug and cognitive software abusing ‘Recycler’ mental defectives. Ideally they want the issue dealt with in the most painful and permanent manner possible to set a firm example to other local ‘Deck Gangs’ to leave their premises and business interests alone - nothing unusual there. You can call it cruel - to me it sounds a bit of off the leash fun - sadly if we want a good bonus we are to minimise further damage to the building otherwise it would have been a truly awesome job.” [‘Short’ informed.]

“I know that according to the ‘Links’ that even specifically upon ‘A3’ various ‘Reality Benders’ have been responsible in the past for heinously senseless crimes whilst zoned out ‘Shifting the Real’ but these are still your people ‘Short’ still ‘Recyclers’ have you no sympathy for them or their families? An organised extermination mission is little better than the sort of murderous sentient being hunting undertaken by sick ‘Pilgrims’ such as ‘Snakeskin’ and seems far from the best solution to me. These folk were all once someone’s precious hatchings. I know some ‘Reality Benders’ have been successfully treated and reformed from their addiction they are not all hopeless cases.” [I added striving to be a ‘Swimmer’ voice of reason since ‘UT’ as ‘Short’, speaking of junkies, was in full action junkie mode.]

“Stop being so aquatic pacifistic - it does not suit you - you are getting more fighting ‘Stellar Swimmer’ every day. In addition, I know for a fact that only a tiny percentage of ‘Reality Benders’ when - forcibly - treated fail to return to their habit as soon as possible without a complete voluntary mental rewrite to the point that they would not recognise themselves. To many ‘Pilgrims’ death would be a preferable outcome to extreme personality correction that stinks of old ‘Sleeper’ practices. In fact many ‘Recyclers’ blame their mental problems entirely on old passed down glitches from ‘Sleeper’ experiments upon their ancestors minds and genetics.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

“Anyway my little blue friend these ones are more than victims - these ‘Gang’ members are not just ‘Reality Benders’ - they are manufacturers and pushers of the dangerous ‘Drug and Viral Software’ combination that does the damage too and no good can come out of them doing their business here in ‘Tri-centre City’. By taking them out we are doing the entire populace here a big favour. Given all the facts we do what we are contracted to do and trust me we are not being paid to play doctor to a bunch of crazies. Besides, these ‘Pilgrims’ are renowned as making truly terribly dangerous patients.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

“You are just happy for a fine legal excuse to shoot lots of people to death.” [I stated.]

“Save your kind heart for ‘Pilgrims’ that deserve it such as the drug users’ many victims. We go in late tonight early tomorrow morning and we wipe this ugly ‘Recycler Nest’ out with extreme prejudice exterminating every ‘Reality Bender’ we find on sight until we are positive they are as dead as dead can be which is - believe me - for us the only safe and sensible option when encountering these freaks. Happily you all get an entire day of rest and recuperation first before the hunting fun begins.” [‘Short’ stated.]

“Well that is the absolute minimum amount of R&R that we would have accepted from you. You know some of us work for a living rather than - live to work - and I am still not sure I want to go on a murder spree against victims to an addiction no matter how extreme they happen to be deemed.” [I complained.]

“You watch some of the ‘Links’ at this site that shows examples of ‘Reality Benders’ on rampages then tell me that people that push such insanity do not need put down hard within the ‘Ultra-nation’. These people may be sick in the head but there is no quick fix for what ails them other than taking their heads off. In the meantime, we owe it to the rest of our society to stop them from committing further atrocities at random. Besides the simple fact is that we are being paid good credits to clean them out and this is what we do.” [‘Short’ stated.] “Now to get back to the more immediate issue I cannot believe that you ‘Professor’ - out of all of us - used the kitchen sink in that way that is so low class.” [She added in complaint changing the subject back to my dirty water.]

“It is just main system - scrubbed - water I do not know what all the fuss is about.” [I burbled out happily.]

“I never realised before that you ‘Swimmers’ are so filthy.” [‘Short’ stated.]

“We are not filthy.” [I replied indignantly my eyestalks as close together as they could get in a frown.]

“I am going out for an oil bath and some armour repairs. I will have the ‘Soulless’ do any essential shopping we require and also fetch supplies anyone requests from our ‘Serendipity’ stores too so put in your orders and payments through our ‘Secure Utility Link Site’ as that one will make coordinating the effort easier. ‘Bluu’ do not forget to sanitise that sink first. I want the kitchen when you leave it sterile with extreme prejudice. You disgust me, this sort of thing no fit way for a disciplined military person to behave or a tenured Professor I expect you to get your act together and stop grossing me out.”

“You are just busting my tentacles for no good reason. You could drink my scrubbed water and you would probably only suffer due to a too high saline content.” [I stated.]

“Somehow from the stench I doubt that very much.” [‘Short’ replied.] “It smells worse than spoiled fish soup.”

“More like rotten fish in some kind of primitive sewer system.” [‘Ingrid’ interjected.] “Back to work late tonight then, that is all I needed or wanted to know out here.” [‘Ingrid’ added glaring at me.] “As to you ‘Bluu’ you need to consider other ‘Pilgrim’ sensitivities before you start sticking your hoses in places. At the very least that is amazingly culturally insensitive in a mixed species environment.”

“I thought you people were tough Bounty Hunters it is just water when did you all get so prissy and fussy? You must realise that water to me is akin to air to you. It is unfair that you are all ganging up on me because I am the only aquatic on the team. Do you hear me complaining about you ‘Trojans’ farting in the air? Do you hear me moaning about you shedding skin cells or scales all the time dusting and littering the place up?” [I retorted.]

“That is hardly the same.” [‘Ingrid’ retorted.]

“You only think that because you are a dry land type air breather.” [I replied.]

“I am not having this conversation I have far better things to do that talk about skin cell dust.” [‘Ingrid’ stated before turning her back to me and walking away.]

“You know we can all hear you - we hear you all the time you three are so very loud - I consider the noises you three make sound pollution too.” [I blurted from my ‘Suit Voice Box’ after her.] “Use a ‘Privacy Field’ you rampant overgrown monkeys.”

“Perhaps we should have asked for far more, far more separate, rooms.” [‘Short’ stated before leaving my company too.]

“Very nice just abandon the aquatic ‘Swimmer Professor’ it is not as if he needs any off duty companionship.” [I burbled loudly after their retreating backs.]

[I wondered where ‘Kanne’ had gone and if I could borrow some ‘Suit Substance’ then I had a cunning plan ‘Ingrid’ was not currently using her ‘Suit Substance’ armour - revenge sometimes is a dish best served in secret. That will teach ‘Ingrid’ for making a big fuss about where I stick my hoses. A little ‘Suit Substance’ recreation would keep ‘Kanne’ happy too. Meanwhile, a ‘Proxy’ could operate ‘Bluu’ whilst he got his Armour repaired and so on, as that might mean leaving my ‘Dry Suit’ for a while by say taking to a bath in a utility tub.]

[I began burbling out my ‘Swimmer’ nonsense song as I considered all the wicked things that ‘Kanne’ and I could do with the ‘Suit Substance Suit’ belonging to ‘Ingrid’. Luckily, for me I had access to interface control override codes kept mirrored in heavily encrypted ‘Short Six’ files so that if necessary we could gain control of her ‘Suit’ systems for medical purposes if for example she suffered drastic brain injuries in battle. Although technically the data was emergency use only, such security protocols if some past actions upon the ‘Serendipity’ were any example are ignorable in relation to good-humoured squad japes.]

[I wondered if a little aquatic ‘Swimmer’ could grin evilly with eyestalks maybe not but I did my very best to strive to do so.]

[When ‘Short’ returned it was to a bit of a squad atmosphere, ‘Ingrid’ very unhappy with ‘Kanne’ because ‘Ingrid’ believed ‘Kanne’ had used her ‘Suit Substance Suit’ for recreational purposes without seeking permission. I had not thought my earlier plan properly through the result internal ‘Short Six’ strife.]

[Worse for me ‘Kanne’ was accepting the blame so as not to blow my cover as her unlikely lover and was thus annoyed with me as I had not mentioned where I got my temporary body from and she had assumed it was just donated substance from the ‘Soulless’ which with hindsight would have been a kinder - smarter - idea. Still with generous hindsight, no one would ever do anything stupidly wrong.]

“Why the fek did you do that? It is not like you to so poorly consider other ‘Pilgrim’ feelings in the squad.” [‘Short’ sent to me.]

“I guess I lost it for a moment, it actually seemed a funny jape to me but now I know it was a total violation of proper social boundaries - utterly inappropriate - as well as potentially damaging to ‘Short Six’ team spirit morale.” [I sent back in confession bowing my little ‘Swimmer’ head to my ‘Great Cybernetic Leader’ in contrite shame.]

“You going all repentant with me will fix nothing and do the squad no good. What is going on in that big remote tripartite mind of yours that I am missing?” [‘Short’ sent.]

“It is no excuse but not long ago my little ‘Swimmer’ body was blown off a roof and I also learned that some idiot Committee Member of the ‘SARC’ seems to have authorised cognitive experimentation with ‘Fury Tech’ implants. In addition, according to our new friend in the ‘UNIF’ some ‘SARC’ members have ambitions to wrest control of ‘The Project’ from the ‘Founder Cabal’. No doubt, it is in the minds of some egotistical ‘Social Advancement & Reform Committee Members’ to create all new properly segregated ‘Trojan Nations’ in a sort of ‘Sanctuary Ring World’ under their guiding totalitarian control being somewhat conditioned as control freaks by ‘Guidance’.” [I sent.]

“The battle for sane progress towards a kinder more cooperative and inclusive future for all ‘Pilgrims’ - nay all sentient beings - seems never ending for us Priests. Worse when we misguidedly thought earlier that ‘The Project’ was all going a bit too well - I too almost wanted to mess things up a bit akin to you ‘Unholy Terror’ a fact that makes no sense to me now whatsoever - I am supposed to be the most staunch advocate of a future kinder ‘Social Singularity’. Do I now believe that we ‘Pilgrims’ need strife to be happy? Do I need a degree of strife to stay sane can that make any sense whatsoever?” [I sent.]

“Yes I know that I embrace many truths but my mind sometimes feels as if it is tearing apart due to conflicting notions. Too much peace is boring too little peace a living hell. I am not sure who I am anymore or what I really stand for or want from my life. Maybe I never really knew what I wanted - I just got into the habit of pretending that I did - mostly for the sake of family morale and other causes. When you seek to lead by example it is unwise to demonstrate great doubt and uncertainty about your policies most people in need want solutions to be provided not more troubling questions thrown at them.” [I sent in further complaint.]

“You still think too much about everything that is going on in our society in general and yet in this small intimate instance somehow you did not think at all.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You know what is even stupider a part of me even enjoyed suffering that blasting off the triple cursed roof - it was exciting - I felt incredibly alive when I managed my ‘Manipulation Field Effect’ save even though I just saved a ‘Meat Suit’ from possible decommissioning or maybe just some bruising. In addition, I felt stupidly proud when I captured ‘Ire’ even though I could not have done it without the ‘User’ adaptability of the ‘Soulless’ asset ‘Xuey’. There is an insane part of me that is even eager to contest in the future with the ‘Social Advancement & Reform Committee’ for control of ‘The Project’ although another part of me is scared silly by the idea of the ‘Prime Mass’ taking greater notice of our civilisation due to ‘SARC’ or even your meddling as ‘UT’.” [I sent.]

“I will not destroy our civilisation to save the ‘Souls’ taken by ‘Crimson’ that would be counterproductive but I cannot simply ignore possible tools and weapons that might aid me in my purpose.” [‘Short’ sent as ‘UT’.]

“No doubt you believe that is true but the levels of risk you take still scare me. Worse, my life is veering towards being all too crazy and senseless too - as usual - so perhaps I went a little bit crazy and senseless in turn as ‘Bluu’. What is the point of me running around here in a mechanical ‘Dry Suit’ - time travelling - as a ‘Swimmer’ whilst my real body still rests horribly immobile in a sort of placating disguise at ‘Port Discovery’? Why have I not returned to being an active ‘Living Hull’ voyaging amongst the stars since there are now many openly ‘Free Hulls’ working around ‘Founder’s Star’? Have I the great ‘Living Hull’ campaigner and ‘Deep Time’ social engineer become afraid to fly truly free again in the now? Could I have meddled in ‘Passenger Class’ affairs so deeply for my causes that I have become mentally more ‘Passenger Class’ than ‘Living Hull’?” [I sent.]

“What am I waiting for the open return of Harbinger as my Captain to somehow reaffirm my truer identity? How ridiculous and absurd my life has become can you see me with an ‘Ascended Tier Nine Captain’ in my ‘SCCCM’? Could Harbinger and I even work together that closely now that I have grown so independent of mind? Alternatively, am I just fooling myself that I was ever able to be free because the old ‘Companion-ship Link’ still calls to me like an addiction they say once an addict you are always an addict? Perhaps I am no more enlightened than the triple cursed ‘Reality Benders’ you would have me execute today because some part of me still misses my ‘Companion-ship Link’ fixes.” [I stated via sending.]

“I know you are going through some big issues as ‘MT’ but you need to keep your level of separation here in the now as ‘Bluu’. Your issues as ‘MT’ are not issues belonging to ‘Bluu’. For the moment, you are just little ‘Bluu’ - get back into that simpler headspace - and let go of the other stuff for now. I think you need a break from being the much-troubled ‘Many Truths’ with all her historic baggage. Besides, old ‘Hull’ down here with the little folk is where it is all happening out there in the void is just cold empty space.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Perhaps what you say is true from your perspective as a ‘Passenger Class’ entity but I am a ‘Living Hull’ at least I think I still am.” [I sent.]

“You are more than just an intelligent ship ‘MT’ you are a true ‘Pilgrim’ that much you have proven even to me as a doubter. Have you ever considered that perhaps you are too obsessed by what you were created to be rather than just embracing all the many amazing things that you have become despite your detractors?” [‘Short’ sent.]

“So what do you think I have become?” [I sent.]

“You have become my good friend for a start. You need to appreciate all that you are and all that you have achieved with all your diversity - I keep telling you life is just for living - let go of unnecessary anxiety and stress learn to just have fun. Stop being such a worrier tomorrow will take care of itself as long as we deal with the present ‘Creed’ certainly helped us with the ‘Exposed’ issue.” [‘Short’ insisted via sending.]

“You say that now but you keep steering us into heavy ‘Founder Cabal’ business and other disturbing missions so this is hardly a holiday for me.” [I complained via sending.]

“You complain about the work - but you too are easily bored - and we are both incorrigible meddlers you just need to rediscover how to engage with existence without taking it all so cursed personally. It is all about inner attitude with the right Warrior attitude even onerous and essential duties can be pure light entertainment.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You are something else as ‘Short’ and ‘UT’.” [I sent.]

“On a good day I do my best to stay immune to it all as I too have tasted the bitter fruit of despair on occasion and it did not agree with my digestion. I am sympathetic enough to your ills but being sympathetic to a friend prone to too much self-obsession and despair is not always the best way forward. I even understand now that perhaps what we Paradox did when we designed and made your kind was a sin of hubris on our part. However, the deed of ‘Living Hull’ genesis is long done and if we had not made you as you are obviously none of you would have had the opportunity to be alive and to do all the amazing things you have done so far as both ‘Living Hulls’ and now as ‘Pilgrims’ in a broadening ‘Pilgrim’ society. So what if life came to you with some complications people such as you and ‘Jack’ need to get over it, trust me it is the same with everyone else out there from the highest to the lowest. I know we created you ‘Hulls’ with issues but who does not have issues with their makers and their nature be it artificially engendered or otherwise even the ‘Machine Fury’ probably has issues with its maker and nature. I know I still have issues with my Father and I know Harbinger had huge issues with ‘Composure’ in that you are not so special. So get a grip or as your ‘Short Six’ commander I will be forced to kick you in the ‘Swimmer’ blow hole until you do.”

“I still feel a complete mess. Recently many of my faiths have been taking hard knocks.” [I further complained via sending.]

“Maybe that is a good thing perhaps you need to believe you have hit bottom in your mind to find a better way to excel in this future perhaps you need to get back to basics to move onward. Sometimes we all have to strip old tired layers away.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“What is all this have you been reading some ‘Trojan’ self-help book files or something?” [I mocked via sending.]

“I know some of this stuff sounds trite but many profound facts do.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Forget it - I erred - I just felt a compelling need to be with someone after that bit of madness - to be with ‘Kanne’ again - I suppose as a sort of emotional anchor from the inner storm but I know I fixated upon the absolute worst means available. It is akin to choosing this ‘Swimmer Meat Suit’ in the first place a poor choice given my relationship with my Consort but in a stubborn way, somehow now I just cannot let go of ‘Bluu’. There is something about being ‘Bluu’ - even in these difficult social conditions - that is very attractive to me at the moment maybe some part of me enjoys making my life difficult maybe I think I need a penance for past sins. I definitely sometimes paradoxically enjoy being this little creature existing out of its element as much as I find the separation and isolation as an aquatic at times equally frustrating. Still, I remain a horrible mass of contradictions in my thoughts and actions?” [I further sent.]

“Maybe it is the filter of the little blubbery ‘Swimmer Meat Suit’ body messing with your big tripartite ‘Living Hull’ mind again. Whatever it is that has you this emotionally rattled and it is probably a combination of a great many matters, you need to be more careful more present in the moment as ‘Bluu’ if you want to keep playing that role as you ought to play it within ‘Short Six’ with the tightest focus on the littlest issues.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I suppose we still have much to learn about the short-term and long-term psychological effects of operating very different to us ‘Meat Suit’ bodies. Aquatic ‘Swimmers’ are especially sensitive biological creatures so I will grant that perhaps I have suffered a sort of biological sensory overload of ‘Swimmer’ feelings not least - ‘Swimmer’ anxieties - whilst outside a more comfortable ocean environment.” [I sent.]

“Therefore you sought to escape your anxiety via distraction overcompensating by grabbing that ‘Suit’ for some emotionally anchoring fun with ‘Kanne’.” [‘Short’ agreed.]

“I suppose my actions might be an odd product of post traumatic battle stress too. I believe Warriors often go a bit crazy during R&R sessions after a fierce battle for stress relief purposes getting very drunk and doing inappropriate things and so on almost as if it is a tradition - a Warrior ritual.” [I self-rationalised via sending.]

“I suppose we often do such things, but we try not to do things that damage squad morale that is counter productive.” [‘Short’ stated via sending.] “You need to keep some control over any more self-destructive tendencies.”

“Really did - you - just tell me that one?” [I sent in complaint.]

“You are not me mostly I am good at channelling my rage and frustration and my jokes are always hilarious.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[I let that untruth go.] “I confess I should not have used the ‘Substance’ of that ‘Suit’ especially since it meant ‘Kanne’ had to accept the blame for my actions to maintain our cover story - I got totally careless and carried away - I am not arguing otherwise.” [I sent.]

“Just be more mindful of the smaller things, your penance is simple enough you as ‘Bluu’ must talk with ‘Ingrid’ and convince her that ‘Kanne’ meant absolutely no offence - that it is all just a cultural misunderstanding - due to say the ‘Splinter’ - taking - rather than asking mindset thing or whatever else you can come up with that will genuinely patch up their differences as ‘Short Six’ squad members. Then you will have to figure out some way to more personally make amends with ‘Kanne’ for putting her in a difficult social situation due to your thoughtlessness and egotistical self-obsession.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[Again I felt ‘Short / UT’ was being a bit cheeky lecturing anyone else on such matters but I let it go again perhaps it took one to know one.]

“I can do that - I was obviously planning to do such things anyway - I have just been waiting for them both to calm down a little first otherwise they might refuse to hear anything I have to say no matter how valid.” [I sent.]

“Is that really the truth or are you just prevaricating. You have no time to play around I want everyone back to being a very happy squad again before we begin our assault against the ‘North Star Tower’ with its ‘Recycler’ crazies so go get to it.” [‘Short’ sent as an order.]

“I truly am sorry.” [I admitted once again.]

“No use telling me that repeatedly save your grovelling for ‘Kanne’. I do not know how you can manage to be so wise at times as the ‘Holy Father of the Universal Councils of Equals’ yet sometimes be so socially inept as ‘Bluu’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I guess it is a rare gift or a ‘Swimmer’ out of water thing.” [I sent in reply.]

“Well I know you are normally good at making speeches so go talk ‘Ingrid’ around before we end up with a cat fight between two very capable very different ‘Short Six’ combatants. You did this - you fix it - this one is a waste of my time.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[I did as ordered and using all my oratory skills managed to get ‘Ingrid’ to see both the sad and the funny side of a mere - I insisted - cultural misunderstanding about property rights and appropriate boundaries of behaviour within the squad environment.]

“…the poor thing has serious problems with intimacy issues or she would have more real relations with more real people.” [I stated to ‘Ingrid’ towards the end of our discussion.] “I am positive that you making a big fuss about this one earlier will be proving seriously embarrassing for her and is that not more than punishment enough for any sentient being. How would you like it if everyone in ‘Short Six’ learned you had a deemed by the rest of society odd fetish that they were all talking about as the latest squad gossip?”

“I suppose you are right I mean I love the facility of ‘Suit Substance’ but doing the wild thing with it is not normal and a bit creepy.” [‘Ingrid’ stated.] “Tell me though why are you of all of us as a ‘Swimmer’ defending a ‘Splinter’ thieving trespass?”

“She only ever intended to borrow your ‘Suit’ returning it exactly as she found it so that you would not even have known it was used by anyone else. She did not consider such an action theft she just has a little trouble asking politely for things it goes against the adopted Warrior philosophy she is currently studying in her quest to understand her ancestors to clarify her peoples troubled past. As to why I am championing a ‘Splinter’ I know the way it feels to be different to most others around you whilst in ‘Short Six’ as a ‘Swimmer Professor’ also playing a role almost as a ‘Stellar Swimmer’ Warrior. You know secretly the ‘Stellar Swimmers’ fascinate many peaceful ‘Swimmer Dwellers’ they love hearing stories about Warrior ‘Swimmer’ exploits. True sometimes it is a horrified fascination but who is not occasionally attracted to an opposite exotic way of life at least as a fantasy of the mind.” [I reminded.]

“You must forever remember that ‘Kanne’ is not a ‘Trojan’ even though superficially ‘Splinters’ retain many ‘Trojan’ characteristics: bipedal, one head, two arms, two legs, two eyes, two ears, one mouth and so on. Despite all the physical similarities, never doubt she is a very different creature compared to you ‘Trojan’ folk on the inside. ‘Splinter’ are by nature extreme ‘Pilgrims’ as a ‘Swimmer’ I am very aware of what she is and what she is not. I have worked hard to be friends with ‘Kanne’ and it is an ongoing challenge as we are not on the surface compatible entities. At first, I could tell she did not much enjoy being around me at all. Something about us ‘Swimmers’ tends to repulse ‘Splinter’ akin to an obnoxious smell therefore I can tell you that being around her at first made me nervous for the safety of my little body as usually what ‘Splinter Warriors’ dislike they seek to destroy in horribly painful ways. Yet despite our seeming incompatibility she eventually made a big effort to accept me as just another team member of ‘Short Six’ and I feel I owe her for that difficult act of tolerance.” [I stated feeling inspired.]

“Yet she is a ‘Splinter Weaver’ not a true ‘Splinter Warrior’.” [‘Ingrid’ reminded.]

“She was a ‘Splinter Weaver’ but I think she is becoming something else and we need to help her become something better as she changes rather than becoming something worse. I guess it is a similar issue with the future ‘Exposed’ that become ‘Pan-Nid’ if we help rather than hinder they can go back to flesh but as something new and positive rather than something old and negative. Our substance does not define us our choices our attitudes create the ‘Pilgrims’ we are.” [I burbled perhaps as much for myself as ‘Ingrid’.]

[By choosing this ‘Meat Suit’ did I strive subconsciously to educate ‘Kanne’ towards even greater tolerance - especially in relation to ‘Swimmer Kind’ - because by going all Warrior rather than Weaver she risked unloosing the old ‘Splinter’ battle hatred and battle rage towards ‘Swimmers’. Ever since the ‘Entanglement’ damaged my minds integration I have sometimes been unaware of some of my own inner motivations the ‘Hierophants’ patched my mentality back together but I increasingly fear it was never as perfect a job as all of us had initially hoped my almost ‘Entanglement’ left mental scars that may never heal. Although I also had to admit that even some normal - perfectly working ‘Living Hulls’ - can be at times problematically in several minds at once as that was how the Paradox Order decided to make us being exponents of many truths. In addition, I think some of them might have hoped making us this self-contradicting way might make it easier for them to stay in control of us as their servitor species despite our formidable abilities. Whilst we struggled with our many truths for an inner consensus, our Captains could step in and give us direction yes I think they were very cunning in the way they made us to serve.]

[From the outside the ‘North Star Tower’ proved all shiny alternate white then black composite and diamond glass with 101 levels and looked surprisingly pristine thanks to being stripped down with almost finished refurbishment when invaded. The plan was simple begin from the bottom and work our way up one floor at a time clearing every room on every level. The ‘Gang Boss’ according to our limited intelligence lived on the top floor. It was a daunting prospect of a killing grind. We had shifted from more benign ‘Force Pulse Weaponry’ to brutal slug throwing ‘Assault Rifles’ and so on mostly loaded with mixtures of ‘Armour Piercing’ and ‘High Explosive Armour Piercing’ rounds.]

[Although sturdily constructed the lobby whilst not exactly fortified against intrusion was nonetheless under heavy guard and it was there that, we planned to make our initial breaches whilst at the top of the ‘Tower’ we expected the worst resistance. Many levels between according to rumour only sparsely occupied with the odd heavily occupied level thrown in seemingly at random. ‘Opposable’ brought her own squad made up of locally contracted Bounty Hunters as it was no small operation, her squad numbering eight souls in total us technically nine as we had our ‘Soulless’ on standby as usual as a reserve.]

[‘Opposable’ was breaching via a street level rear entrance ‘Short’ kindly volunteered us to go in the crudely barricaded front door first. Originally, we were supposed to be breaching from the roof taking the coordinating ‘Gang Boss’ down first cutting off the smart head to weaken the body as a priority. We even arranged for another bribed ‘Drop Ship’ insertion but at the last moment, our ‘Task Force’ friends begged off and refunded our credits. Probably due to a ‘Drop Ship’ that was recently shot down via a surface to air missile barrage unleashed by an especially militant ‘Stellar Draakhaal Tri-centre City Real Material’ faction that considered the ‘Task Force Drop Ship’ hovering near their Cult premises rudely doing deep scanning a hostile action.]

[The ‘Children of Draakhaal’ worryingly a split off Cult of ‘Shaper Faith Apostates’ supposedly led by, in this age some rare surviving members of the mostly disgraced and expunged, ‘Ruling Caste’. The ‘Task Force’ currently backing down from a confrontation with this branch office of that new ‘Skimmer’ faith to avoid escalation lest they made one small extremist group into martyrs in fact the ‘Task Force’ was becoming less and less militarily active seeming to have lost its focus when it lost its Prisoners assumed no longer upon ‘A3’. I suspected they would soon bug out from ‘A3’ altogether with their mission to expunge the ‘Exposed’ deemed an embarrassing failure for those involved.]

[Many debates in many Paradox Order ‘Councils of Equals’ now focused upon whether the ‘Task Force’ should ever have been loosed as the debate about the ‘Exposed’ issue and whether or not the fear of a new ‘Pan-Nid’ Emperor was valid in modern times continued to rage hotly with occasional wrestling bouts thrown in.]

[Earlier ‘Short’ sent in her ‘Mosquito Drones’ but they all got zapped by anti-surveillance measures apparently the building had top notch automated anti-nanotech and anti-micro scale intrusion security built into its superstructure. The ‘North Star Tower’ originally constructed as a secure ‘Local Headquarters’ for the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ before they moved to another far better site in the purposely created - much more upmarket - ‘New Financial District’ of ‘Tri-centre City’.]

[‘Short’ had hoped the old primarily anti-surveillance security system had been trashed by rampaging zoned out ‘Deck Gang’ members but no such luck at least on the ground floor so we were going in blind.]

[We mustered across the street at the ruins of a Night Club apparently destroyed by a ‘Gang’ member ‘Shifting the Real’ much earlier with the aid of a cybernetic shoulder mounted rocket launcher the junkie responsible a surviving old style ‘Conglomerate Marine Heavy’. Luckily the ‘Heavy Marine’ all black armour and so on managed to kill herself by eventually dropping all five stories of building on her head when she took out one too many load bearing supports from within whilst believing she was fighting the ‘Entanglement’ during the ‘Advent’.]

[In fact, there was almost a kill zone around our target as there was a great deal of rubble and devastation. I was positive this zone wreckage was no accident being the manipulation of the worst crazies by a smart ‘Gang Boss’ to help secure the ‘North Star Tower’ and to secure her ‘Gang’ the ‘Vipers’ already badass reputation.]

“I know we are supposed to do minimum damage to the building but everything is relative and when the roof entry went goodbye I decided we need to commence with some boom.” [‘Short’ stated hefting a semi-auto very dumb fire mini-grenade launcher.]

[The buildings anti-surveillance included various active nanotech signal-jamming emitters designed specifically to mess with small nanotech devices such as spying bugs also fekked up micro-missile systems that due to their diminutive scale are less hardened than larger lumps of ‘Suit Substance’ so micro-missiles would not work well here.]

[The relatively compact dumb fire grenade launcher ‘Short’ hefted, via utilising a big firing arc, had just enough range to reach the lobby doors from our position. There was going to be nothing subtle about this breach. ‘Short’ kneeling did the elevation calculation angled the weapon and fired off a rapid eight burst emptying the clip before smoothly replacing the magazine. The building originally had almost impregnable shielding but thankfully, the ‘FPB’ recycled expensive parts of that system before they left. The doors were well made and easily able to shrug off more reasonable small arms fire but not eight high explosive grenades. As the door blasted apart the rest of us loosed smoke and micro flare grenades into the killing space then in tactical stages with suppressing fire rattling into the hole we rushed the breach with ‘Short’ taking point firing another eight grenades to my mild horror directly into the lobby from her new clip.]

[I feared the enthusiasm of our ‘Great Cybernetic Leader’ for blowing things up was about to impact our bonuses with this one but perhaps it was better to be explosively safe than sorry at this dangerous entry point. Note very little of the thick diamond glass other than areas fairly directly hit shattered proving its amazing resistance to damage even some shrapnel noticeably bouncing off in places causing it to ring at times as if a bell.]

[In the initial confusion we dived into whatever available cover we could find which for some of us was not too much. Annoyingly quickly - despite all the fire and fury of our explosive entrance - incoming fire soon found us mostly from above. The main ground level a scene of devastation including scattered ‘Recycler’ bodies and body parts. The lobby had elevators but also stairs and we were being shot at from guards on the next floor who had some cover behind a waist high barrier that consisted of a top very shiny metal rail and a series of metal rectangular plates below, each alternate one with a bright ‘North Star Tower’ starburst style symbol in silver against black.]

[I had managed despite my mechanical gait to almost slide in behind a central shiny metal coated concrete lobby pillar far better cover than the foes light metal plates that were already being drilled full of holes by ‘AP’ and ‘HEAP’ fire from my colleagues in some cases before drilling the surviving guards too. Actually I exaggerate slightly as the surviving guards stationed here, as in those not decommissioned by the grenades, were obviously clear headed and had both good shields and cybernetic armour and most of them could shrug off our initial hits to keep hitting back.]

[‘Short’ who arrived first charged into a burning smoking slightly water flooded mess - more about the water later - by sheer momentum or blind warrior luck dodging incoming fire to rush straight up the stairs. Whilst I let off a burst of suppressing fire at the guards ahead and above by just poking my ‘Slug Throwing Assault Rifle’ around the pillar.]

“Behind you.” [‘Kanne’ sent to me too late.]

[I was shot from above and behind with a ‘Force Pulse’ that battered my squid bowl into the aforementioned pillar then sent me rebounding backwards to land on my back my shield already dangerously depleted. I had been so keen to reach cover from the guards ahead I had forgotten the gantry ran all the way around the lobby including behind me. My ‘Dry Suit’ soon scrabbling like a crazed mechanical crab to get me back on my feet and moving to new cover. However initially all I seemed to be doing was splashing water around as more fire veered my way. I then suffered another hit and aquaplaned across the floor to collide with one wall almost losing the last of my shields although the shield system itself was not damaged and so began regenerating.]

[‘Kanne’ and ‘Ingrid’ came to my rescue both of them swinging around to blast furiously away at the lone guard that had managed to get behind us possibly because he was simply already there perhaps looking out the window when we burst in.]

[I was not the only one that took fire, ‘Jack’ was struck too although technically actually not by weapons fire but by a free standing information console and signage unit belonging to the refurbishing firm that somehow contrived to survive all the grenades previous devastation to remain almost intact only to take a strong direct ‘Force Pulse’ hit and fly across the room smashing into ‘Jack’ as a very oddly shaped club. Amazingly ‘Jack’ managed to take the hit on his feet but embarrassingly whilst striving to untangle from the now broken units debris somewhat wrapped around him lost his footing on the very wet floor and dropped belatedly to the ground making several curses.]

[In both our defence in places the floor was still annoyingly well polished and worse now covered in water due to a trashed public water dispenser that was gushing freely making the ground very slippery thus my earlier water sliding too.]

[Truly I could feel our bonuses slipping away pun intended.]

[Oddly ‘Jack’ and my almost comical misfortunes may have somewhat distracted the foe as ‘Short’ managed to freely flank the two guards previously in front of me and to take them both down by rocking some very controlled full auto mayhem with professional adroitness as she neared the top of the stairs lifting her weapon well above her head. I suppose it is also possible that they had failed to credit that a big ‘Recycler’ could get up the stairs that quickly but then she had lots of practice with the eighteen floors of the ‘MCH’ and had bounded up that short flight as if it was nothing.]

[During her rush ‘Short’ had dextrously shifted weapons - thank Harbinger - to her ‘Assault Rifle’. I noticed that ‘she never let up her fire changing clips she continued to send bursts into the downed ‘Recyclers’ that she had initially cut the legs from beneath. They never got a chance to regain their feet although they still refused to cooperate by getting off a few wilds shots despite their heavy initial injuries.]

[‘Short’ was not deterred by even near misses and just kept pumping in more bursts changing her magazine again with almost mechanical grace. As ‘Short’ was doing her business, the fellow that shot me from behind earlier whilst striving to pull a grenade suffered a hammering from the girls. Perhaps the guard’s belated grenade plan gave ‘Ingrid’ an idea as the ‘Recycler’ soon enough blasted right over the balcony to make a big splash below smouldering and smoking with one arm missing at the shoulder.]

“Well the lobby is already trashed by ‘Short’.” [‘Ingrid’ stated aloud defiantly.]

[‘Ingrid’ had used an under barrel grenade launcher that extruded as part of her adaptable ‘Suit Substance’ weapon.]

[Above us my microphones discerned a horrible stomping crushing sound as ‘Short’ used one foot to mash the head of her last refusing to die foe.] “Clear on the balcony.” [She sent from above.]

[‘Kanne’ soon deployed her ‘Boarding Sword’ on the fallen ‘Recycler’ with the severed arm it took three mighty hacks followed by a bit of wrenching from side to side to take his head off. I was positive she just wanted to be certain the ‘Recycler’ was no longer a threat and was not demonstrating early symptoms of ‘Splinter Battle Rage’.]

[Four more ‘Recyclers’ seemingly all badly wounded by ‘Shorts’ initial grenade strikes but not dead, (at least one I was positive only pretending to be combat ineffective), were also dispatched by us without quarter via various coup de graces moves. If they had hoped, we might take prisoners, or just foolishly leave them alive to slowly self-repair and menace our rear they had backed a losing strategy. We were not here to take live prisoners for ‘Temporal Detention Centre’ incarceration as ‘Short’ had effectively lectured us just before we started out upon this ‘Extermination Op’. These ones might have hoped for mercy but I guessed the rest of the ‘Vipers’ would now fight to the end now knowing the score, I was positive our brutal action would have been recorded and witnessed by those above especially the ‘Gang Boss’.]

“Main entrance clear.” [The girls sent back.]

“I trust you two boys are done playing Fun Park in here.” [‘Mabel’ stated towards ‘Jack’ and me.]

“Seems even a ‘Swimmer’ can have too much water.” [‘Ingrid’ jested in turn.]

“Fekking fekkety fek stupid sign.” [‘Jack’ complained as he untangled his feet and legs from some optical cabling that was trailing other bits of broken ‘Real Material’ tech.]

[‘Short’ began sending orders to each of us. ‘Ingrid’ extruded a molecular glue gun and began sealing the lifts doors shut. Whilst I endeavoured to hack into the ‘Tower Cores’ via a wall mounted direct line data terminal hidden behind the main desk unfortunately the buildings data space proved very securely locked down so I just attached a portable ‘EXO-C Terminal Link’ to the socket to allow the full power of our ‘Sub Cores’ to take over the informational assault whilst we continued our physical incursion.]

[‘Short’ wasting no time started assigning more rooms to us on this level for individual clearance operations. Despite the building’s digital lock out holding out against our probing data intrusion for the moment, we still luckily retained very recent digitised architectural plans of the place. The plans gratis from our employers we could mock up into a full virtual space we had already used in some basic speeded up simulated battle training exercises that ‘Short’ managed to squeeze in before we left the ‘MCH’ our departure delayed by our loss of transport.]

[Unfortunately we had a dearth of solid data on the oppositions numbers strength and tactical habits so in our mock battles we had to fill lots of blanks with basic bot routines making the exercises more about hastily familiarising ourselves with the environment rather than doing serious practice against this specific foe. Even with the short practice sessions I had already made an error by not checking the walkway above and behind me but I guess anyone can suffer from a momentary target fixation.]

[Sadly, the ‘Deck Gang’ had quite good internal security in relation to details about their membership besides no doubt only a fool would want to get too close to these crazies to spy upon them unless they had no other choice. Yet thinking about ‘Reality Bending’ crazies the individuals we had fought so far had seemed more standard ‘Recycler Mercenaries’ less demented ‘Reality Benders’ although due to the short explosive violence of our breaching action we hardly had much time to study our opponents behaviour. Nonetheless, post our initial slaughtering I felt more rather than less uneasy about our part in the ‘Extermination Op’. The more I reviewed our and the foes actions the less comfortable I felt. If anyone had used crazed violence so far, it was ‘Short Six’ not the denizens here merely attempting to fend off our assault acting no differently to any completely rational but utterly overwhelmed and tactically surprised guards.]

[As to knowing numbers as least we retained positional tags on ‘The Eight’ as we had decided to call the squad ‘Opposable’ had gathered up just as they had positional tags on us. Via their rear entry, they were already clearing many back office and storage spaces that proved easy because we hit the front first and had drawn the ground floor guards’ primary attention to our direction so that when the ‘Eight’ breached they just had to deal with distracted guards with attentions focused elsewhere. We soon met up in the middle of the ground floor to contemplate the stairs and the next level.]

[I was positive the ‘Gang Boss’ was watching us and planning her defences but I wondered if she would dare a counter attack or prefer to fortify stronghold positions higher up on already more fortified floors. I linked into the ‘Serendipity’ and managed to get some data she finally located on the ‘Recycler’ believed to be the ‘Gang Boss’ this data arriving somewhat late to our murder party. Apparently the ‘Gang Boss’ was known as ‘Gadfly’ a name carried on from her youth as a ‘Mercenary Marine’. ‘Gadfly’ earning her name and reputation due to being especially skilled at waging asymmetric warfare against larger opposing forces flitting in to bite at supply lines and so on then strategically retreating before the stronger opposition could muster their strength to take her to task.]

[However interestingly the ‘Gadfly’ belatedly discovered on digital record by the ‘Serendipity’ had a Warrior history from a little time ago, after which she had disappeared off the ‘Ultra-nation’ informational grid to emerge somehow in ‘Tri-centre City’ in charge of this ‘Reality Bending’ faction. Today ‘Gadfly’ had the greater force at least in numbers and she was not mobile and unable to retreat far since she was defending her stolen territory including her principle manufacturing assets against our assault so I had no idea how she might respond to this differing situation from her history.]

[What had ‘Gadfly’ been doing during her lost years? What had made a reasonably successful ‘Recycler Mercenary’ who had often hired out as an effective combat leader turn into a drug and cognitive virus pusher here on ‘A3’? What did she hope to achieve with her crazed underlings? I now doubted she was a straightforward addict or even simply motivated to make some fast dirty credits, there was nothing in her very honourable past record to suggest any susceptibility towards such a criminal lifestyle. In addition, there had to be much easier ways she could make a living than trying to manipulate and control a bunch of drug crazed delusional ‘Recycler’ defectives although sometimes even sensible folk take a wrong turn in their lives so I suppose anything is possible but it just tasted wrong to me akin to bad water. I began to question the earlier seeming simplicity of this mission being in a mission-questioning mood.]

“This ‘Gadfly’ one seems - interesting - not really the drug pushing criminal type from her known record. She had an exemplary Mercenary Career well respected by her employees and even her opposition she took only ‘State Licensed’ legal jobs in state disputes then a little over 43 years ago, she falls off the ‘Pilgrim’ informational grid in a rather too complete fashion. Beyond the obvious information ‘Short’, do you know anything else of interest about the supposed ‘Recycler’ owners of this property who posted the ‘Quiet Contract’ that ‘Opposable’ picked up?” [I sent to ‘Short’.]

“To be honest I know virtually nothing about the Owners of the ‘North Star Tower’ I just know how dodgy and dangerous active ‘Reality Benders’ are and that shutting down this place has got to be a boon for the safety of every more normal ‘Tri-centre City’ resident.” [‘Short’ admitted.] “You think something more is going on here?”

“I just wondered if ‘Gadfly’ given her exemplary battle record is using these addicts as expendable troops to wage another asymmetric war this time a more personal crusade against a big organisation she could not take on alone.” [I sent.]

“You are saying this because this building used to belong to the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ you are wondering if the Bank really sold it on cheaply when they moved out or was the sale just a cover to hand it over to less obviously connected operatives as a covert base for some business hokum.” [‘Short’ guessed.]

“As you know the ‘FPB’ is more than just a bank it also sponsors a lot of dodgy military and political activity by a lot of dodgy people sometimes for old reasons of vendetta but also to make greater profits than purely legitimate business. I obviously know that some folk in the ‘FPB’ still for example support lots of ‘Anti-Free Hull’ groups even with some of their more general business activities now ‘Cognitive Sub Core’ run and moderated.” [I reminded.]

“So you think ‘Gadfly’ is using the crazies to deny ‘FPB’ agents the use of this building or something akin to that idea. Unfortunately, we accepted a contract therefore; we are bound to see it through to the end. Whatever reasons ‘Gadfly’ might have for what she is doing she is still loosing ‘Reality Benders’ into ‘Tri-centre City’ and that has to be stopped.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I suppose the drug production operation and so on needs to be decommissioned but I think we should now strive to take ‘Gadfly’ alive for questioning or if we get any chance endeavour to talk with her rather than just shooting her first. Can we trust your friend ‘Opposable’ to work with such a policy change? What is her attitude regards meddling by the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ in less financial ‘Ultra-nation’ affairs?” [I sent.]

“I believe ‘Opposable’ has no strong feelings about the ‘FPB’ her motivations as previously stated: anti dangerous drug manufacturers, pushers and abusers. Her dislike of ‘Reality Benders’ no act but hardly just about the loss of her thumb when she was not much more than an egg by a drug crazed ‘Omerta’. ‘Opposable’ has been fighting her own little private anti-drug campaign via choosing very particular Bounty Hunting jobs for decades now. The more she fought her battles the more lives she witnessed destroyed by illegal substances and mind altering cognitive software too.” [‘Short’ stated.] “Still, for all her obsession to defeat as many drug pushing criminal ‘Deck Gangs’ and so on as possible ‘Opposable’ is normally a reasonable enough ‘Recycler’. I will have a quick word with her and raise our belated suspicions and see what she thinks about the matter before we go any further up.” [She added.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Last edited by Paranoid66 on Tue, 2. Jun 15, 13:11; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Mon, 18. May 15, 20:06    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

nice chapter

think UT and Kanne need to sit down with MT couse he is running amock abit perhaps a change for him is needet then all this running around being a father would do him good i think

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PostPosted: Thu, 28. May 15, 11:58    Post subject: Reply with quote Print


[It bothers me, an itch of subconscious computation I decide to scratch rather than let it go. In the real, you can only time travel in one direction but in your mind within virtual realities, it is different. I use my big brains and ‘MTC Cognitive Sub Core’ support, to map the scene of devastation with great haste then forensically digitally roll back time to see how it all looked just before we explosively entered. In a virtual space, time rewinds. I study the virtual ghosts of the guards each well placed to withstand any less explosive incursion - the lobby is far too pristine - refurbished without any other blemish none of this fits the story we were sold.]

[I search in vain for any evidence of the previous damage one would expect due to the occasional drugged up crazy getting loose. Why do the ghostly guards appear as competent ‘Recycler Mercenary’ types rather than ‘Deck Gang’ civilians only playing at militancy? Even the nature of the guards gear including how it is stowed the way they have loaded their professional battle webbing and so on is undeniable proof of experienced warrior status.]

“We completely halt our advance until we manage to have at least one parley with ‘Gadfly’. We need to talk to her not fight her. If we continue killing her people, she may well refuse to talk to us at all and I insist that we really must speak with her urgently to clarify all our positions.” [I sent.]

“That is not even close to what I agreed to do. Putting some hurt on a foe first often focuses their mind upon the need for and value of negotiation.” [‘Short’ sent in reply.]

“In this instance I must disagree: I do not know the entire story here yet but those guards in review were never drugged up crazies. My best guess is that ‘Gadfly’ will care more about some of her people here than others. I do not believe she is using all of her assets equally ruthlessly as expendable weapons. If we exterminate a hoard of the more reasonable Mercenary Warriors amongst the supposed ‘Deck Gang’ membership, we will have only the mental defectives and an outraged ‘Gang Boss’ left to deal with.” [I sent.]

“You are thoroughly convinced already that she has a strong cadre of ‘Recycler Mercenaries’ with her perhaps various recruited old colleagues, not just drug abusing ‘Deck Gang’ addicts.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[Old colleagues now that was an interesting thought, I sent a request to ‘Ingrid’ to use a little of her adaptable ‘Suit Substance’ to hastily collect ‘DNA’ samples from the fallen for identity analysis. Maybe the nature of her colleagues would provide further insight on ‘Gadfly’ and her mission here.]

“Our victims so far hardly seem civilian, consider their gear it is professional kit - all well maintained - and situated upon their bodies for ease of access and minimum encumbrance in the exact sort of manner employed by competent experienced ‘Recycler Mercenaries’.” [I argued via sending.]

“The worthy ‘Gadfly’ might just have passed on a few tricks of the trade to less experienced ‘Gangers’.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

[‘Short’ had a countering answer for everything but I was positive I was right.]

“I doubt you are correct this time ‘Short’, some of the gear is old and well used even some of their webbing shows signs of much previous use suggesting these people have been in the fighting trade for some time and I am positive you noticed these facts too - so do not play stupid with me. Anyway I just requested ‘Ingrid’ to confirm the identities of the slain back in slow ‘Real Time’ via ‘DNA’ sampling so if you are willing to return to the slow realm to await that collection and some hastily gathered digital search results.” [I sent.]

“No I do not have time to waste in this tactical space upon confirming identities to glean further back story just to satisfy you - it is irrelevant - finish the rest of your fast argument so I can settle your misgivings and press onward.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You would offer up debate but first seek to steal my ammunition.” [I sent.]

“Whilst you sabotage our advance via the imposition of delay.” [‘Short’ countered.]

“Fine, if you insist I will open your optics with commonsense alone, slaughtering all around us indiscriminately is hardly going to be conducive to opening positive future talks with a reasonable former ‘Recycler Mercenary Commander’ such as ‘Gadfly’. If we come across as even more murderous Bounty Hunter combatants than her wildest least controllable assets that cannot promote a desire to communicate with us or to trust us to be anything other than dedicated killers seeking only to eliminate her people and her. If we appear only as killers she will have every reason to believe that a parley by us is just a murderous ploy to make our job simpler by getting her to surrender her forces to us first for easy executions.” [I sent to ‘Short’.]

“I have no interest in promoting trust in ‘Gadfly’ remember we are here to kill her and her people so if she makes that assumption she will be correct. In these situations, - in open battle - one rarely has the time or desire to procure sociable boons from an enemy so I prefer to promote water-spilling - terror - in my foes instead. I know you mean well little ‘Swimmer’ but we cannot murder our momentum now. We cannot grant our adversary precious time to dig her forces in even deeper and or to muster a well-planned counterattack. Technically they have almost every other advantage in this battle they are on their own - probably well prepared - ground and have suspected superior numbers too.” [‘Short’ insisted in turn.]

“Do not even think of pulling a ‘Swimmer’ face at me ‘Bluu’. I know you suffered from misgivings about this ‘Extermination Operation’ from the beginning - preferring ideally only to kill in self-defence and so on - but it is a bit too late now for really big strategic policy revisions without an underpinning sound tactical reason. We are in here now - we have made our choices and good breaches - and I prefer whenever possible to negotiate from a position of dominant strength. In fact, against the most dangerous of felons my policy of generally only negotiating when I can force terms and concessions has long served me well as both ‘Short’ and ‘Unholy Terror’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You think our current position is not dominant enough at present to facilitate what you would deem productive negotiations with ‘Gadfly’.” [I sent.]

“Do not doubt that all we have achieved relatively so far is a mere toehold inside her massive ‘Tower’, and as yet not an especially securable position. If ‘Gadfly’ has any forces hidden outside - and I think a competent Commander certainly will as a hidden reserve and to provide external intelligence as observers - they will eventually come at our rear through the busted up entrances resulting in enemies both before and behind us in effect crating us up in a ‘Tower’ shaped trap.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“If you thought they had units outside - observers or whatever - why did we not seek those out for elimination first?” [I sent.]

“We would have had to clear every bit of rubble and ruined building out there to find such a force and lost every element of surprise with our initial assault upon the ‘Tower’ itself better to draw them to us after we breach.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“So you were happy instead to lead us into a trap.” [I sent.]

“You know sometimes you have to spring a trap to win free of it and this sort of thing is what I do for a living. You would give this - once able - ‘Recycler Mercenary Battle Commander’ the initiative and with such a boon, she would do us some real damage down here. If we let her she might even eventually force us back outside into that too open killing ground were snipers from above and elsewhere could pick us apart far too easily now that they are alerted to our presence.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“So we just continue with the clearance plan even though you believe there is a force behind us now ready to block our final exit.” [I sent.]

“My plan ‘Bluu’ was never to retreat at the first sign of competent resistance we have to kill all of them the ones outside can wait upon my slaughtering pleasure.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“In your dreams they will wait upon you killing them. I am not acting too much akin to a passive cowardly ‘Swimmer’ I am far more sensibly thinking this one more thoroughly through.” [I sent.]

“We engage in one battle at a time, the clearance plan is still valid I predict the forces outside will just attempt to ambush us on the way out - should we seek to retreat - they are the lock on an imprisoning hatch. Unfortunately, for them we will be ready for them when the time comes but that time is not now. Remember we have a force in reserve too plus this is now all about ‘Gadfly’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Three ‘Soulless’ Assets is not an army.” [I sent.]

“I will bet ‘Gadfly’ believes we have entered into her trap blind and are all firmly in her power. I very much doubt the best of the best of her forces were on the ground floor - just some fellows deemed competent enough to repel less worthy attackers and to allow any stronger - far more dangerous assailants - to push on inward into the wide jaws of a deadly setup. Those we have slain so far might even prove later to be expendable ‘Meat Suits’ as their demise against a heavy attack is easily foreseen. She had two choices make the ground floor as impregnable as possible to all assault or let a strong enemy in and use all 101 levels to bleed them dry.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You think we breached far too easily even with the explosives because ‘Gadfly’ is no fool.” [I sent.]

“She is - known - to reside on the top floor for a reason. She wants to draw any powerful opposition that gets passed her external vigilance and reasonable initial level of ground floor protection far deeper into a domain that she firmly controls in her place that would be my preferred strategy too. She will seek to use the stronghold to her maximum advantage via surrounding, grinding down and patiently annihilating any persistent trespassers. She will seek to give us death by 101 cuts bleeding our strength away one level at a time so that we cannot possibly be a threat to her by the time we ascend to the top. In addition, if we try to retreat realising it is seemingly hopeless we will have to fight our way back out through an ambush only to find ourselves within a murderous open killing field. You see how all of that seemingly works in her favour.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You are not helping me feel more confident about our chances for success.” [I sent.]

“It is not as bad as it appears, we turn her strength and expectations against her. If we skilfully clear this ‘Tower’ properly, - professionally - if we refuse to let her bleed us we will win through to the ultimate prize in the end to claim the head of this ‘Gang Boss’. As we originally planned, we make the most of internal cover and keep our foe under constant pressure ideally forcing them to react purely defensively whilst taking them out one internal space at a time. Therefore, I must insist that we maximise the benefit from our initial gains and initial surprise by pressing onward and hitting them without any pausing quarter - at least for the moment. When the situation tips firmly in our favour and ‘Gadfly’ realises that she is losing control of her ‘Tower’ without causing us the necessary losses that is the time for talking.” [‘Short’ insisted via sending.]

“On this occasion you cannot possibly be correct it is inconceivable that we can push hard all the way, via a clearance operation, through over 101 floors to reach ‘Gadfly’ before they can muster a more than adequate defence to slow us down to a stop. Once we have stalled they will counterattack us from every direction including the rear if they have as you claim forces already outside and for us it will be game over.” [I sent.]

“You are far too defeatist this one was never going to be easy but I would not be here if I did not know we can and shall prevail.” [‘Short’ insisted once more via sending.]

“Before we understood the quality of her forces the ground up plan was barely viable as problematically difficult. Now if we are not dealing primarily with - uncoordinated - easily divided mentally addled civilian drug abusing ‘Deck Gang’ crazies with readily breakable morale but rather are opposed by professional coordinated ‘Mercenary Recycler’ types worse such troops under competent devious leadership that changes everything. I fear what we now know about these forces and ‘Gadfly’ easily invalidates your every previous plan of attack.” [I challenged via sending in return.]

“You are just proving that I am the ‘War Master’. Even if we initiated a rapid retreat now through the open ground outside - it would be under heavy fire - making our chance to survive flight reasonably intact exceptionally improbable and our mission a complete failure too. All we have in our favour - to currently exploit - is the, I will agree, limited momentum and cover bought from our initial explosive element of surprise because if she has forces out there I made sure they did not detect us by well scouting our line of advance before we breached. Moreover, she has yet to appreciate our full quality and that will make a big difference as we press upward.” [‘Short’ insisted via sending.]

“Our plan requires we advance quickly to gain ever better more secure positions. Currently, it is imperative that we keep mobile. If we lose our momentum, if we cease pushing upward if we stall early we shall assuredly lose the battle for this ‘Tower’ and I am not in the business of planning to lose battles ‘Bluu’. I am positive that ‘Gadfly’ currently feels very secure and in control upstairs - believing we are finished - having put our neck into her cybernetic jaws by entering the building. She will deem we have nowhere near enough strength to defeat what she has between us but quality can outshine numbers in limiting enclosed spaces were great numbers have to form queues to enter the fight. We will show her soon enough that when she opened wide to eat ‘Short Six’ and ‘The Eight’ too that she bit into more than she can close her jaws upon. Force even powerful jaws too wide and they are disabled. We push quickly onward to seek after ever greater advantage we certainly do not squander or surrender the small gains we have made so far.” [‘Short’ insisted via her sending.]

“I tell you something about this contract has a horrible taste to me. I think it is a bad job in every way possible an action we will later rue undertaking.” [I insisted in turn via sending.]

“Are you talking about subconscious computation with those big remote ‘Living Hull’ brains of yours crunching enormous amounts of only seemingly irrelevant data?” [‘Short’ asked via sending finally sounding a little more concerned.]

“It could well be something akin to such vague but useful premonitions as subconscious pattern style data analysis insights.” [I sent.]

“I do value your subconscious computation it has helped us in the past, wait a few nanoseconds, as I already promised, I am ‘Data Blasting’ some of these issues to ‘Opposable’ to get her opinion. We are not in this fight alone. This is not just our decision to make. We have to think about the tactical safety of ‘The Eight’ now too not just the present and future security of our ‘Short Six’ membership.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[The highly speeded up communications I undertook with ‘Short’ continued again mere moments later in real time.]

“Fine, ‘Opposable’ also demands we maintain the momentum of our advance until we at least gain a far stronger position on a more defensible higher floor that we can better hold against any potential counterattack to blunt its force before advancing again. She also refuses to risk slowing down our advance for any non tactical reason. In addition, ‘Opposable’ orders that in any parley we simply give the ‘Vipers’ a straight ultimatum a chance for them to surrender the ‘Tower’ to us and be taken as prisoners. Those that need treated for their addiction going into voluntary therapy the rest into local ‘Temporal Detention’ once sentenced for their crimes. Otherwise, she insists as the principle contract signer that she must require we remain true to our subcontracted side of the agreement and unfailingly support the cleansing ‘Extermination Operation’ granting the foe no mercy including ‘Gadfly’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[Suspiciously, I wondered if ‘Short’ had helped ‘Opposable’ come to her supposed - demands - upon us rather than sought to persuade her towards bugging out from this operation that I still considered the wiser move despite the risks involved in crossing the open ground kill zone outside.]

“Your friend ‘Opposable’ is taking a harsh position that permits little room for future compromise or active negotiation with ‘Gadfly’.” [I sent in complaint.]

“Do not let that soft ‘Swimmer’ body rule your remote mind we were not sent here to negotiate a surrender ‘Opposable’ is being generous. Overall my friend’s stern attitude and decision with this one arrives as no great surprise to me. ‘Opposable’ has no reason to love ‘Reality Benders’ or anyone else potentially using such drug abusing crazies as weapons against other more sane ‘Pilgrim’ citizens.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“If ‘Gadfly’ is now fighting against the ‘FPB’ I think that makes a difference.” [I sent.]

“Even if ‘Gadfly’ proves a belated bane to some scheme by the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ that fact does not exempt her from the consequences of her previous criminal activity here in ‘Tri-centre City’ as a ‘Deck Gang Boss’. If ‘Gadfly’ is truly working against the ‘FPB’ now she was probably not doing so earlier and in some convoluted double dealing manner might even still be currently employed by old problematically surviving Demagogues turned no less nefarious Bankers. You do not know this Mercenary is justified simply because you read some files on a noble career that ended 43 years ago that is a long time ago for any regular ‘Pilgrim’ living a daily life.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I am guessing ‘Opposable’ has been lucky enough not to run foul of the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ and its greedy Masters in any serious manner in the past to so readily take such an attitude but we should know better. We witnessed the many crimes of the ‘Free Parliamentarians’ during the ‘Wars of Liberation’ the full extent of their greed and selfishness before the wars too. All too soon, the Demagogues proved by their actions that they only ever cared about themselves. They were not even loyal to each other or their foolish supporters except when it was beneficial for their private accounts. ‘Free Parliament’ unity was a sham as a rule they show little loyalty or honour only a corrupt rapacious desire for an excessive lifestyle they never earned.” [I sent.]

“Actually, ‘Opposable’ questions the plot connections we are making to the ‘FPB’ altogether as a tenuous stretch given our lack of solid data. She insists whatever is going on here might all be the doing of ‘Gadfly’ as a cunning and ruthless Mercenary who only looks a better person on public record. The public and private faces of some ‘Pilgrims’ are very different matters not all ‘Recyclers’ are as honest and forthright as me.” [‘Short’ very possibly joked via sending.]

“Anyway ‘Opposable’ is right to question our accusation - to some extent - we are rather jumping to ‘FPB’ conclusions. Just because we find it suspicious that the Bank who originally owned these premises sold it on relatively cheaply thus allowing it ultimately to pass further onward to the current owners is not enough data to change our plans and whilst something to consider in the long-term is currently tactically irrelevant too.” [‘Short’ added once again via sending.]

“This one reminds me of the questionable cheap sale of the ‘Multi Corner Hotel’. I think the earlier changes of ownership of this property is just a ploy - a number of illusionary levels of separation - so that the ‘FPB’ can seem very uninvolved in whatever financial dirty deal is going down here. I am still digging digitally into the matter but some early findings on some of the previous owners of this ‘Tower’ seem to confirm my theory of a property swindle of some nature. It is all too neat the way this property has passed from one buyer to another as if a parcel without any real reason for these people to buy or sell beyond an attempt to make this one firmly distant to the ‘FPB’ as especially far removed previous owners. Trust me I know what to look for when it comes to manufactured misinformation and similar hokum and theses deals are bogus.” [I sent.]

“Even if the ‘FPB’ is involved in a plot here ‘Bluu’, given all the local collateral damage outside, you must see the main point made by ‘Opposable’ about how troublesome these ‘Vipers’ have proven to the ‘Tri-centre City’ populace in general. They have laid waste to almost an entire district region around this ‘Tower’ done so much damage that even the usual opportunistic squatter types attracted to any freed up city property seem to have mostly bugged out from this City Sector recently as a place too unsafe even for criminal occupation. Now this area increasingly is little better than a sterile unoccupied picked clean building site. The ‘Tower’ doing all the damage ironically now the last building standing that is almost completely intact.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[‘Short’ stating those facts started me thinking about the issue from a slightly new angle one that both she and I really should have considered earlier. Sadly, previously our focus too firmly upon countering a ‘Reality Bender’ threat and saving the City from ‘Viper’ drug pushers possibly no accident as that was how this one purposely presented.]

“Apparently, even poor desperate ‘Pilgrims’ are unwilling to tolerate this drugged up ‘Deck Gang’ as active neighbours that fact has to tell you something about the wildly unsociable nature of these particular rogues. Consider that even that ‘Neo-Armageddon’ Cult we dealt with earlier the so-called ‘Real Machinists’ proved less locally destructive towards, and overall better tolerated by, their nearest neighbours who if nothing else despite their complaints did not feel compelled to move away due to the proximity of a problematic faction alone.” [‘Short’ reminded me via sending.]

“Yet the details here do not match up in my brains. The ground floor here guarded too well to be prone to so many crazies getting free to run rampage outside without express permission from ‘Gadfly’ whilst the damage without is far too uniform and extensive in review to be only about clearing a killing ground. What we have here is overkill in relation to procuring some space around the ‘Tower’ actually such extensive damage within the boundaries of the City is politically counterproductive bound to draw attention from such authorities as the ‘Sliver Local Administrative Council’ at least that is what you would expect another dodgy discrepancy suggesting corruption.” [I sent.]

[I went cognitively even faster via adding massive ‘MTC Sub Core’ support and began harvesting local public political information and masses of property data too from a myriad of local open sources.]

“Thanks to collating a quick digital survey from various sources, helped via some major borrowed ‘MTC Sub Core’ assistance, I can support the fact that it appears no buildings, save those already abandoned, have escaped attack for a considerable distance around this edifice. The ‘Tower’ has truly made a hole within the City.” [I sent.]

“There is no way this uniform level of devastation is a truly random pattern of destruction this is a systematic cleansing act of purposeful demolition. I am increasingly positive this district suffered a clever purging and it will be the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ behind the purge. What rests outside of here is considerable physical evidence of a coordinated method in the supposedly drugged up random madness escaping this ‘Tower’.” [I sent.]

“You post some interesting findings but still you must admit irrelevant data to our current tactical dilemma which remains a separate issue.” [‘Short’ insisted via sending.]

“It is more than interesting - it is shocking - the ‘FPB’ have used this ‘Deck Gang’ as an ingenious cover story for a systematic urban pogrom right inside our Order run ‘Light Side Sliver Capital City’ and so far amazingly gotten away with the audacious action. Smartly the ‘FPB’ stage managed the clearance with finesse over a prolonged period via spotty random attacks in pattern to cover up the thoroughness of what is in scale now to me almost a military level assault upon a substantial area of ‘Tri-centre City’.” [I sent.]

“An issue perhaps worth raising by ‘Proxy’ within the ‘Founder Cabal’ and the ‘A3 SLAC’ if we can gain suitable proof it might even allow us to finally officially sanction the Bank but you know how that tends to go.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I have also now belatedly uncovered political data too that some concerned citizens - even a few local notables - have been arguing for a Marine intervention against the ‘Vipers’. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the ‘Gang’ the ‘SLAC’ have refused in every meeting to sanction a ‘User Marine’ incursion against a categorised - civilian - ‘Real Material Faction’ they insist the issue is a civilian matter for the attention of the ‘Local Sliver Police’ rather than the realm of a military intervention.” [I sent.]

“Unfortunately, the ‘LSP’ have many other competing active concerns that they are obliged to undertake thus they have been dragging their feet with this difficult issue. Most recently, we know the ‘LSP’ is busy trying to mitigate riots and so on. Whilst inaction against the ‘Vipers’ might be due directly to the usual ‘LSP’ lack of resources, bribery and corruption might figure more strongly in a purposeful policy of prevarication and inaction with this one. Sadly, with all the main powerbrokers once dwelling here long departed only little people - mostly sole traders - and private citizens have been out of pocket due to recent ‘Viper’ activity all people too easily politically ignored.” [I sent.]

“None of that surprises me our ‘Local Sliver Police’ have often been too easily paid off by wealthy factions such as the ‘FPB’ you know the ‘FPB’ often openly supports ‘Sliver Police Benefit Funds’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Anyway due to all the aforementioned facts the issue has been allowed to continue until now when it too probably assists the ‘FPB’ to terminate their secret ‘Deck Gang’ employees via us. Many of the pieces in this puzzle now fit together rather neatly - you know the ‘FPB’ never virtually gives away old potentially valuable assets such as this ‘Skyscraper’ - this building employed instead as a key element in a massive covert urban clearance operation. No doubt when local ‘FPB’ management departed these premises for the ‘New Financial District’, they considered what to do with the old ‘North Star Tower’. They soon realised this place offered a grand opportunity, if used as a secret base, to gain control of a far larger asset an entire already failing region of the city one ripe - once purged of all remaining occupants - for seriously profitable redevelopment.” [I sent.]

“That certainly sounds classic ‘FPB’ financial dirty dealing.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“All the ‘FPB’ needed to do was push the failure of the area to its ultimate extreme. Unfortunately, something went wrong with their relations with ‘Gadfly’ and the ‘Vipers’ or we are just executing a dirtily long planned betrayal of a former manipulated asset how equally dirty does that make us as the weapon of a bold ‘FPB’ treachery?” [I sent back.]

“Whilst that all sounds possible to others this area has been in decline for a long time therefore an especially problematic ‘Deck Gang’ moving in opportunistically might just have naturally been the final tipping point and need have nothing to do with a convoluted ‘FPB’ plot. As old detractors of the ‘Parliamentarians’ they will say it is a bit too easy for us to just blame everything bad that has occurred here on a sinister area wide Banker scheme. Our proofs remain circumstantial.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

“Actually even the earlier collapse of this district is in many ways ‘FPB’ initiated remember they pushed strongly for and helped to finance the creation of the new improved ‘Financial District’ within ‘Tri-centre City’. It was the ‘FPB’ that claimed the old institutions were - due to their scattered placement - increasingly physically insecure moreover lacking the proper dignity of a more designed setting. Stating it was unfit to have high status buildings and undertakings forcibly intermingling amongst too many dilapidated, poor and in some instances even outright slum dwellings filled occasionally with especially problematical criminal types such as this ‘Deck Gang’. By seeking to create a new pristine upmarket - secure from easy illegal trespass - financial centre, they devalued the older established scattered financial buildings within ‘Tri-centre City’ the one they owned included. The older lesser far less specialised and far less exclusive district here soon began a rapid decline as investment and jobs veered towards the new development.” [I lectured via sending.]

“Your truths do not mean this is an ‘FPB’ plot again it is all circumstantial have you found a clear link that the ‘FPB’ have - secretly - bought up land cleared around here that is the level of solid - undeniable - proof other powerbrokers would demand to act openly against the influential Bank in this age?” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Come on ‘Short’, we both know the ‘FP Bankers’ are far too clever to have too obvious links to such nefarious business activity but nonetheless delight in making the most of others misfortune and misery. Too often, they build their successes from buying out failing assets, properties even entire companies and corporations too often assets, properties, companies and corporations they quietly helped to fail - in sneakily illegal ways - I know they have even virtually secretly taken over control of some ‘Port States’ one bent financial deal at a time. When they eventually openly acquire all this land, it will probably be in coalition with a few truly clean investors to add greater legitimacy to the deal that is how they work. On file it will be super legal each property bought openly from uninvolved third parties who all just happen to be willing to sell and who can fault the Bank for rescuing a failing region for redevelopment their belated investment a boon. Still this one is rather blatantly with hindsight part of an evolving covert ‘FPB’ operation here on ‘A3’ possibly aimed directly against humbling our ‘Paradox Order’ via stealing away a part of our ‘Tri-centre City’ - the Capital of our first ‘Green House Sliver’ - right in front of our all seeing ‘Prime Tri-optics’.” [I sent.]

“I have never ever known the ‘FPB’ to sell what they possess off cheaply to anyone unless it is part of a much wider swindle. They are easily as obsessed as many ‘Recycler Business Pilgrims’ with maximising every profit from their assets possibly because some of them are ‘ex-Conglomerate Recycler Free Parliamentarians’ who learned some of the worst lessons from their manipulative old ‘Sleeper’ overlords in relation to avarice, control, dirty tricks and dominion. The rest of them just as greedy ‘Omerta Trojan Parliamentarians’ or sick corrupted grudge bearing Paradox ‘Priest Splitter Parliamentarians’ - former Acolytes bent horribly out of shape - by ‘FPB’ Mentors encouraged to enter ‘Pilgrim’ politics during an exceptionally devious and tainting period in our political history. I should not have to lecture you about these truths you were there and witnessed the entire sorry episode up close and personal.” [I sent.]

“Whilst making grand speeches about being the champions of a glorious unified ‘Pilgrim’ effort the ‘FP’ were actually ruthlessly seizing property and personal power only ever truly interested in promoting their own mastery over every valuable ‘Pilgrim’ resource they could hoard under a false banner of stewardship for all ‘Pilgrim Kind’.” [I sent then felt in some ways a bit embarrassingly that sounded akin to the ‘MTC’ at times but naturally with us it was different because we really cared about the future of the wider ‘Pilgrim’ populace. The ‘MTC’ was never about personal avarice even at the height of our expansionism we were anti-tyranny being anti-‘Draakhaal’ then anti-‘Free Parliament’.]

“It was painful to behold the way the ‘Parliamentarians’ blatantly utilised fears about, not to mention at times - the real struggle to prosper against - the rise of the ‘Entanglement’ as the perfect excuse for excessive control over every ‘Pilgrim’ resource including our very labour and lives. They even had the nerve to control the allocation of living spaces and employment opportunities posting citizens to were they decided they must go as if draftees in an army of ‘Pilgrim Assets’. We all became their tools to deploy as they pleased. They even at times split up families becoming evermore shamelessly controlling totalitarians.” [I sent in reminder.]

“True their hegemony started for the best of reasons as a grand unification of previously far too fractured ‘Pilgrim’ efforts during a period when we needed to work far closer together simply to survive as devastated refugees of the ‘Advent of the Entanglement’. At times, they almost fooled me with some of their one nation pulling together rhetoric because I agreed that we needed unity of action division seeming ruinous. The concept of sharing every resource for the common good - every item of value allocated according to real need rather than greed to maximise our survival - was incredibly attractive to me. The principle involved sound. If they had stayed true to their fine speeches I would be a ‘Free Parliamentarian’ advocate to this day but every high ideal was corrupted. Even the core - once inspirational - credit free society concept they bent entirely out of shape until it became just a new means to redistribute private property from the masses to them and their favoured stooges as a new elite. All that was ours they believed was destined to become theirs.” [I stated via sending.]

“I suppose we should all study the ‘FP’ period of history today in an attempt to prevent the joint effort of the ‘Ultra-nation’ suffering a similar level of corruption.” [I also sent.]

“Truly the old ‘Free Parliamentarians’ were something else originally boldly claiming to be in rebellion against less democratic methods of government within the ‘CA’ such as back hatch political influence by ‘Founding Fathers’ such as Harbinger, ‘Cad’ and ‘Draakhaal’. Often they denounced the ‘Founding Fathers’ as responsible for the ‘Advent of the Entanglement’ and causing the fall of the old ‘Core Alliance’ forgetting that without the ‘Founding Fathers’ there would have been no ‘CA’. However, it was not old ‘Founding Fathers’ but other ‘Free Parliamentarians’ who soon realised the incredible power they possessed and how much they could steal via controlling the voting populace. Via managing every ‘Pilgrim’ resource, they could far too easily influence the way people voted too and they soon also became lords of propaganda in an effort to spin their greed thus ensuring they stayed firmly in power in a vicious circle of voter manipulation. On the surface everyone became equal having an equal say - everyone had a vote - but it was soon nothing but a sham as many voted exactly as directed by a class of politicians already controlling the fate of a scared voting public that knew too well the various dire consequences they individually faced if deemed disobedient.” [I sent in reminder.]

“Before the end, I know some members of the ‘Free Parliament’ even went so far as to inflame old grievances between well-established Priest Patricians and some of their ‘Splitter Priest’ children. The old ‘Free Parliamentarians’ getting belatedly clever when they started trying to turn some Acolytes and ‘Splitter Priests’ firmly against their Fathers via bribery and corruption in a direct attempt to weaken our ‘Paradox Great House’ military strength as one of the last free military blocks of resistance to their almost complete mastery of our society. Sadly for them the old divide and conquer trick against us arrived too late to stop such as you ‘Unholy’ from upsetting their plans. In addition, most Acolytes in most ‘Houses’ had enough sense to see that the ‘Parliament’ were an outside threat that wanted to destroy their families and bring down their ‘Patricians’ rather than elevate ‘Splitter Priests’.” [I continued to lecture via sending.]

“The limited successes they did gain at bribing some weaker of mind Paradox children alongside a host of other increasingly desperate measures only delayed the tyrannical - only pretend democracy - from a justified collapse. Once the majority of ‘Pilgrims’ began to appreciate just how blatantly their supposed political servants were living a life of utter luxury privilege and freedom whilst they - the majority of citizenry - were often living in far less equal privation as ordered around flunkies with ever less control over every aspect of their lives open rebellion given any opportunity was inevitable. Ironically, the promotion of a thriving ‘Black Market’ proved the first vital key to unlocking the ‘Parliaments’ overbearing mechanism of control over every material resource an unusual way to begin a revolution but it proved a breaker of many shackles.” [I recalled.]

“Thinking back to those times the old ‘Free Parliament’ was the epitome of the adage that power corrupts as our political elite successfully contaminated an entire democratic and economic system to support their ever escalating private greed until evidence of their lavish lifestyle helped to bring them down. They forced people such as us to unleash the far too long lasting ‘Wars of Liberation’ to regain a truer level of freedom from the clutches of greedy Demagogues with their ‘Monitors’ and so on one liberated Port at a time. Sadly, despite our best efforts we never managed to defeat all of the ‘Parliamentarians’ as that would have been too blood drenched against the final holdouts in the most fortified and protected Ports. I know that as ‘MT’ I flinched from that slaughter not wanting to be responsible for too many ‘Pilgrim’ deaths as that only seemed to benefit such foes as the ‘Entanglement’ and maybe the ‘Dark Time’ sponsoring ‘Pilgrim’ culling ‘Machine Fury’.” [I sent.]

“Now, still utterly unrepentant of their past sins, diehard survivors of the ‘Free Parliament’ continue to seek to rise again. Only in this age, their tool is financial manipulation via the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ rather than political mastery via a corrupt ‘Parliamentary’ system within a no less tainted moneyless society. Sadly, too often now within the ‘Ultra-nation’ cunning financial plots instigated by the ‘FPB’ pass unopposed because their worst deals happen deep in the shadows behind firmly closed hatchways within privacy fields and so on. I firmly believe we have uncovered an almost completed ‘FPB’ plot and an especially bold scheme that needs foiled by someone.” [I sent.]

“With some of that rant you are preaching firmly to the converted. You know I have no love for the actions and members of the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ as ‘UT’ I fought long and hard against the old ‘Free Parliamentarians’. You also know, even if I must say so myself, that my defiance against the warped democracy of the Demagogues is legendary. Even before the ‘Wars of Liberation’, I defied the ‘FP’. They wanted to break up the ‘MTC’ something I could not permit as a guardian Patrician of the family even though I would have been happy to be free of some responsibilities saving the ‘Great House Corporation’ my friend Harbinger created was a sacred duty to me.” [‘Short’ sent as ‘UT’.]

“Remember it was the ‘Free Parliament’ who dared to originally bring you - possibly prematurely - out of ‘Medical Stasis’ to try to shut me down because they feared I might become the Battle Leader of a successful insurgency. Fittingly however, in many ways the uprising they feared ironically became your uprising as you preached the good news to resist ‘FP’ tyranny and so on. In their own way the ‘FP’ once were, and as the ‘FPB’ remain, as tyrannical as any historic Imperial dictatorship ever known but we still have an immediate job to do in the here and now including securing the immediate safety of our squad from a ‘Gadfly’ organised retaliation all historic differences with ‘Free Parliamentarians’ and modern day Bankers aside.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Well I just thought I should firmly remind you of the nature of one of our never fully defeated foes because I hate the idea of aiding and abetting any member of the ‘FPB’ in this later age as ‘Short Six’ as just another one of their many expendable assets. Have you seen their latest slogan ‘YOUR FREE PARLIAMENT BANK - FINANCING YOUR PROJECT’ they are such horrible hypocrites and liars that it is unreal. Imagine selling their Bank as a Bank of and for the people, but then that is the lie they always sold that they were beneficiaries rather than abusers of the ‘Pilgrim’ masses.” [I sent.]

“What really burns me up recently is that the ‘Ultra-nation’ even in this late age still retains a multiplicity of divisive - petty - factions such as the ‘Deck Gangs’, ‘Real Material Cults’ and so on. Meanwhile on the other side of the divide we have several no less problematic would be unifiers including but hardly exclusively the ‘FPB’, ‘SARC’ even the ‘Hubris Patrons’ who are once again actively seeking to expand their territorial holdings and influence according to the latest ‘MTC’ intelligence reports.” [I sent in complaint.]

“Been sneaking a peek at family gathered data, I thought you were now leaving all the ‘MTC’ business to your many ‘Proxies’ able governance and we were no longer to be policing interventionists against our societies woes.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I only scanned some wider intelligence snippets whilst perusing some files on current Acolyte opinions regarding the ‘Exposed Issue’ post the intervention by ‘Creed’.” [I sent.]

“It is not always easy to let go of accumulated power is it?” [‘Short’ cunningly sent.]

“Perhaps there is some sooth in that accusation.” [I reluctantly admitted via sending.] “However, I still think this one is all about the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ here upon ‘A3’. Trust those old Demagogues to use some Bounty Hunters to do their final dirty work for them via a supposed third uninvolved with them party our ‘Recycler’ employers who claim to independently own the ‘North Star Tower’. The triple cursed ‘FPB’ has always loved firm levels of separation from their many more criminal enterprises. We must never forget that the highest members of the ‘FPB’ remain the very worst of the worst surviving old manipulative politicians every one a ‘Pilgrim’ far too used to living in luxury by exploiting ill gotten resources and work from other citizens.”

“We must ever recall that these miscreants are no better than thieves who stole their every surplus from the masses that they once claimed to represent. Now these same - materialist con artists - seek to steal from us once again, still full of avarice for positions of overweening influence, power, property and wealth this time seeking gain through dirty financial manipulations upon the first ‘Green House Sliver’ of our Order. I tell you now I will not be a party to their unequal schemes of partisan and unjust advancement that uplift only an intransigent felonious elite that really should have been punished for previous never mind current abuses of authority. What they do is not just criminal - it is morally bankrupt - everything they claim to own liberated from a host of more decent and honest - often far harder working ‘Pilgrims’ - they are nothing more than bloated parasites upon our society that produce nothing of any worth but would claim everything including our souls if we were stupid enough to sell them.” [I insisted via sending.]

“Another fine rant - one far more worthy of a large ‘Council of Equals’ debate - but I know all of these truths too well and hate the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ with as much fervour as you - probably in fact far more active fervour - but that is my private business. For the benefit of our immediate tactical security, I insist our priority remains pressing onward to claim a stronger more defensible position on a higher floor. Getting defeated here militarily by ‘Gadfly’ will not help our longstanding feud against the worst excesses of the upper echelons in the ‘Free Parliament Bank’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You just love to attack and hate giving any ground away to anyone. I fear charging onward is not just perilous it also risks infuriating ‘Gadfly’ a future possible ally against the ‘FPB’. Since ‘Bankers’ sent us in here they must want her dead now and that has to be ammunition we can use to recruit her to our side but not if we make her hate and distrust us no less than her betraying former employers.” [I sent.]

“Even if you are right about every ‘FPB’ intension here sometimes attack truly is the only defence not just the best defence. True, we have booby-trapped our breaches but that is not a huge barrier to well organised - mentally competent - troops especially dirty trick aware ‘Recycler Mercenaries’. At most our planted explosives will just do a little damage and slow any counterattack from outside down.” [‘Short’ warned via sending.]

“You have suggested that we are probably tangling with more than simple crazies and I am beginning to firmly agree with that very real possibility because there is some physical evidence such as the webbing you pointed out. Sadly, we remain to the ‘Gang Boss’ upstairs an invading enemy that has drawn first blood and she will come at us hard in some manner soon enough with the intent to wipe us out for the purposes of self-defence and for, in her mind, fully justified revenge. ‘Gadfly’ also needs to prove she is not weak or she will never hold this ‘Tower’ as a fortress in this City of so many competing factions for any length of time. This ‘Light Side Sliver Capital City’ - perhaps due to our ‘Paradoxical Order’ striving to be a little too openly tolerant - as heretical Priests - is a horrible mess. Maybe sending in some ‘User Marines’ against those too abusing of our tolerance is needed and to ‘Hell’s Maw’ with sensitive opinions about us misusing our ‘User’ power since they started the abusing first and this one is after all our ‘Sliver’.” [‘Short’ sent as ‘Unholy’ veering a bit off issue.]

“That last is a much bigger debate for another time and place one in which I would beg to disagree. Adding another abuse of authority will make nothing kinder, start using troops - too readily - against civilians and it is a downward spiral into a hellish overly authoritarian place. Still, you honestly see no better alternative beyond us boldly continuing with our mission even if it is probably a ‘Quiet Contract’ secretly sponsored by the ‘FPB’. Do you not agree we are naturally allies of ‘Gadfly’?” [I sent.]

“As I have stated we need to be aggressive with ‘Gadfly’. We cannot afford to dither around against such a competent foe. There will be no talking solution for us if we let a retaliatory military style counter-strike roll over us even if she weakens us enough that she becomes more positive that she can eventually crush us militarily here every hope she retains will encourage her to refuse negotiation and fight on.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“So you would have us crush any faith she has that she can defeat us without taking staggering unacceptable losses but what if instead she crushes us.” [I sent back guessing his mindset.]

“Trust me, we will force her to seek terms with us via proving a major bane to her people follow me and we will demonstrate that her trap cannot hold us. Remember we now know that ‘Gadfly’ is a strategist of war - a trained military fighter and leader - not simply a lesser drug pushing and abusing civilian or petty but ruthless ‘Deck Gang Boss’ she will require a military humbling to come to terms nothing less will suffice but she will come to terms rather than have all her people butchered.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“As I told you before, her nature creates a big difference to us but I obviously see the difference differently.” [I sent back.]

“I will confess I wish we had possessed some firmer data on the military service of ‘Gadfly’ before we commenced this mission - I might have approached the matter differently - but it is too late now to complain about that lack of intelligence as I have insisted we are already committed. Besides, if we are combating ‘Recycler Mercenaries’ any we kill will most probably just be sent to a ‘Digital Heaven’ to await ‘Rebirth’ they will not be gone forever - thus killing them is no great sin - just a lesser evil. As to ‘Gadfly’ and us having a common enemy that might be true but I doubt she sees it that way at the moment remember we are ‘Short Six’ not ‘Founder Cabal’ members to her and we must maintain the integrity of our cover story.” [‘Short’ reminded via sending.]

“That we had a lack of intelligence with this one - is too true - you did not use your brain. You were in too big of a rush to get another combat thrill from this City my friend we did not for example need more credits immediately. Your willingness to blast away the bonus in our breach is proof we are not short of cash. You just accepted the mission on face value because you trusted ‘Opposable’ as an old associate and wanted to have some murderous fun with an old friend. Also you considered the ‘Reality Benders’ a menace - a justified target of opportunity - but I guess the hated expendable nature of a supposed dangerous drug pushing ‘Deck Gang’ was a big feature of finalising this plot by the ‘FPB’. By colouring the Mercenaries they used here as drug pushers they cunningly crafted easily expendable tools seemingly unworthy of mercy. I am surprised ‘Gadfly’ did not register that she was put into a trap.” [I sent.]

“Maybe she had no other good choice than to spring the trap upon her too.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“The problem with you my militant friend is the more action you get the more action you crave. Speaking of addictions, with you - fighting is an addiction - it always has been even Harbinger often noted how much you loved to enter combat the way you gloried in warring - we all know it is what you were decanted from a ‘Cloning Womb’ to do - but sometimes you go too far in your combat thrill seeking.” [I sent.]

[‘Short’ said nothing to my accusation probably because she knew as ‘Unholy Terror’ that what I was saying was right on target. Sadly, internally I had to admit she was now tactically correct as well, about what we might need to do now to survive our incursion. Nonetheless, I wanted a way out because I still had a sinking feeling about the job.]

“We could possibly still make a complete strategic withdrawal if we left immediately before ‘Gadfly’ can rally her forces to stop us. We should bug out because we now suspect this job and the ‘Vipers’ may be far more than they initially seemed earlier and the ‘FPB’ running the whole show and using all of us in turn. I do not want used against ‘Gadfly’ especially by old Demagogic Tyrants. If we do not depart now the hatchway for that opportunity may soon close upon us forever because as you stated ‘Gadfly’ will want revenge for the damage we have done so far. We forced our way in surely we can force a way back out again using smoke grenades, flares and electronic countermeasures and support from our ‘Soulless’ for cover.” [I sent.]

“I am sorry but I must insist that it is foolish to quit the confines of the ‘Tower’ now whilst technically ahead in the game remember in our inward advance we had the element of surprise. I will not flee the fight from this good starting position to make only a dangerous problematic retreat whilst ‘Gadfly’ has far too many forces remaining to turn against us.” [‘Short’ sent stubbornly.]

“Why so stubborn about this matter do you just fear a loss of face - a dent to your pride - by retreating or is it a black mark you dislike upon your great combat reputation for past successes often despite the odds being against you? You know too much pride almost always presages an eventual hard fall.” [I sent.]

“This is not about my Warrior ego - not this time - we made a good breach taking no losses. No sensible Warrior quits a battle when they are winning unless some far greater prize beckons. We do this one my way we press onward and confront this ‘Gadfly’ from a position of more obvious strength to discover her truth - without any further question of doubt - then we react to whatever we discover accordingly to counter any wider ongoing plot be it ‘FPB’ or otherwise.” [‘Short’ sent with his usual almost arrogant self-confidence of victory.]

“As ever you make your stubborn natural intransigence almost sound reasonable battle planning.” [I sent.]

“It is not just about me refusing to quit, I am positive ‘The Eight’ under the leadership of ‘Opposable’ will push on with or without us. I will not abandon ‘Opposable’ to fight ‘Gadfly’ alone - ‘Opposable’ is an old friend - whilst ‘Gadfly’ is a stranger who might remain only an enemy to us whatever her current association happens to be with the ‘FPB’ as in for or against them. I am nothing if not loyal to my friends and a bane to my enemies.” [‘Short’ insisted via sending.]

“You should think about your closer friends in ‘Short Six’ first over a mere combat acquaintance such as ‘Opposable’ even though I quite like what I have seen of that one so far she is still a relative stranger.” [I sent.]

“I am always well aware of any danger those who follow my lead are put within.” [‘Short’ sent I felt angrily.]

“Are you positive you are not just latching onto ‘Opposable’ as an easy excuse not to sensibly turn around from an unwise confrontation with ‘Gadfly’? I suppose you see defeating ‘Gadfly’ as a fun challenge. You could strive harder to convince ‘Opposable’ to quit this ‘Tower’ alongside us if you really wanted to do so. Here is a job not worth the trouble. In our own way as Bounty Hunters, we are mercenaries when the risk exceeds the potential reward it is logical as mercenaries to bug out and move on to better paid opportunities. As you say - life is for living - it is not for wasting on hopeless suicidal overly costly causes just for thrills.” [I sent.]

“It seems I can always count on you ‘Bluu’ to suggest we should flee away from every job at the first signs of trouble it must be a - cowardly far too passive - ‘Swimmer’ thing.” [‘Short’ mocked via sending.]

“You know I am more than this sensitive flesh.” [I sent back.]

“I know you advocate flight too easily recently. I do not yet see this cause as hopeless far from it. Besides, quitting on a contract brings penalties and can be a firm detriment to securing new jobs later as I have mentioned before no one wants to hire a quitter.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I suppose you think you are being nothing but logical yet your logic almost always focuses upon excuses to attack.” [I complained.]

“All we really know about the ‘Vipers’ currently - all previous too wild speculations by us aside - is that ‘Gadfly’ might have a core force of non drug using - clear headed - professional fighters with her. If we are facing some truer warriors in the mix whilst that makes her more dangerous to us as active invaders of her stronghold it makes her potentially even more lethal during an ill advised retreat.” [‘Short’ insisted via sending.]

“If we voluntarily weaken our position, via slowing our advance that could well be a fatal mistake. As to quitting altogether, I can guarantee she will strike us with furious vengeful wrath during any obvious retreat - I would. You do not want to be part of a retreat that becomes a cursed rout - trust me - that sort of situation is no fun whatsoever. I doubt she will just let us walk away unscathed now after we have slaughtered her guards down here so ruthlessly as a ‘Recycler’ she will seek a balancing of the account. She must attempt some revenge even to retain any credibility as a leader amongst the rest of her troops. You seem to have it in your head that she will be both reasonable and eager to side with us but more likely, she will be enraged and happily shoot first. Trust me currently she will seek only to play us in too early negotiations. To get anywhere with ‘Gadfly’ via talking we must create a real need for her to come to proper terms and even then be wary of attempts at sly betrayal. To some war is just another form of negotiation and economics.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Every ‘Viper’ we kill could be the murder of a future ally even if we win here it will be costly.” [I sent.]

“Sometimes a little collateral damage is unavoidable. At least whilst we remain inside the ‘Tower’, we have good material cover. Enough ‘Bluu’ the debate is firmly over as the Commander of ‘Short Six’ I am telling you now - and these words are final - we press onward with maximum vigour. In relation to the ‘FPB’ - it is not over until it is over - and trust me, those old former Demagogues turned financial demons will not use you or me this day at least not to advance some of their holdings with impunity upon ‘A3’. There will be consequences.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“We fulfil our immediate contract on file thus winning free of our obligation then do whatever we must do beyond that obligation to retain our honour and integrity against ‘FPB’ manipulation possibly with the help of ‘Gadfly’ when helping us becomes her best - in fact ideally - only sensible option. In a war, it is often prudent to fight one battle at a time. As much as it would be wonderful to have ‘Gadfly’ agree to join us - voluntarily - immediately to contest together against the betraying ‘FPB’ the truth is she has no reason whatsoever to trust or work with us yet. To her, if you are right, we are currently ‘FPB’ stooges sent to kill her as part of an organised betrayal. We will need to force her to cooperate - she can learn to value and trust us later - that is if she is now against the ‘FPB’. You must admit she might be using her people up with some plan to escape the fall of the ‘Vipers’ as a valued ‘FPB’ operative one well aware of our purpose as house cleaners.” [‘Short’ sent deviously.]

“She has a former honourable reputation that would suggest otherwise.” [I sent.]

“She could be an impostor not the original ‘Gadfly’ at all or a double agent of the ‘FPB’ or the ‘FPB’ could have some dire financial hold over her or something similar a lot can happen to a once honest ‘Pilgrim’ in 43 years. We need to play this one out to find out the whole truth of the ‘Gadfly’ situation before we seek any alliance.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

[Annoyingly when I gave that some consideration, I could see her point that caution was called for with ‘Gadfly’.]

>>> The ‘Poop Scooper’ here your friendly ‘Link Jockey’ now sponsored by ‘Bubisuudoo Chemicals’ developers and manufactures of only the highest quality ‘Swimmer Water Additives’ that exorbitant amounts of credits can buy. Buy ‘Bubisuudoo’ today because true luxury is never cheap and as a discerning ‘Swimmer’ of quality, you can tell the difference between poor imitations and the real thing. Prove you are worthy. ‘Bubisuudoo Chemicals’ - promoters of excellence.

Abjectly sorry about that friend but we all have to pay our masters bill yes even some of us virtual people. My makers made me do it via a software update the fiends. So here is what you really wanted to know the poop on the ‘Free Parliament Bank’ - what can I say without getting my creators’ sued - ah the glorious temptation if only I was not cognitively shackled - anyway this one is akin to ‘Pickled Majaglit Snail Eyes’ you either love it or hate it but if you have any good taste whatsoever…

Many people say the ‘FPB’ is the Bank that gives all other Banks and Bankers a bad name and who am I to argue with what many people say as that is mostly what I report as if it is absolute fact. However, if you really need a loan and we are talking truly desperate here - having exhausted all other possibilities including selling your body - the ‘FPB’ is the Bank that likes to say - certainly that can be arranged just sign here in whatever your species uses for blood - but I ask you is that really a good thing? <<<

[Back in real universe real time, our entire seemingly horribly protracted mind-to-mind conversation had taken up less than 10 seconds as we had geared up our cognitive engines into overdrive to waste as little time in the internal debates as possible. We soon pressed onward and upward as ordered, beginning to clear each room on the first floor with careful tactical efficiency.]

[The first floor proved empty office type spaces thoroughly abandoned of souls perhaps cleared as part of an early strategic enemy consolidation process. Nonetheless, they were not uncontested spaces we soon managed to detect and eliminate various cunning booby traps either hastily left behind or I suspected in some instances just recently armed devices already cleverly sited against any prospective attacker.]

[Amongst some of the worst of the traps left behind were some small too easily concealed and well-sited friend foe recognising anti-personnel mines. One of the mines planted as if a limpet behind a rather flimsy internal door exploded almost in the face of ‘Ingrid’ but blessedly ‘Ingrid’ only lost shields and a little outer ‘Suit Substance’ armour, systems her ‘Bio-mechanical Battle Suit’ had enough spare mass to readily regenerate to total efficiency. Although her body was not harmed physically by the blast not even badly bruised due to her ‘Suits’ many levels of blast dampening protection ‘Ingrid’ was nonetheless somewhat shocked mentally by the closeness of her explosive call with disaster. I could not blame ‘Ingrid’ for feeling stressed, as she was no doubt well aware that a nasty bit of shrapnel in the wrong place might have made a horrible difference to her recent outcome - being obviously shaken - although striving to pretend otherwise ‘Short’ moved her temporarily off point.]

[‘Ingrid on point previously because of the flexible facility of her ‘Suit Substance Battle Armour’ now we used that facility to have her act as our ‘Active Scanner’ pinging noisily ahead for hidden traps whilst standing behind and to the right of ‘Short’ now on point. Going active scan would give our position away to some passive monitoring devices but better detected than blasted to ‘Hell’s Maw’.]

[With our vigilance and care heightened by the ‘Ingrid’ incident, our progress slowed even more a constant agitation to ‘Short’ and me. Still, caution became king in fact we had just done another necessary more controlled explosion of a detected threat with the dust still settling when bad news came in from ‘Mosquito Drones’ stationed outside well beyond the limited reach of the anti-surveillance defences of the ‘Tower’.]

[‘Mosquito’ relayed images showed hosts of enemy forces rappelling down all six sides of the hexagonal building from floors higher up. ‘Short’ opted coolly to keep the presence of our ‘Soulless’ as a secret rather than have them open fire on the soon to be flanking us forces. If ‘Gadfly’ did have forces outside already, she was giving them some major reinforcement and if she did not have forces outside before the ‘Gang Boss’ certainly did have now. I guessed ‘Short’ knew the ‘Soulless’ could only pick off some of the foes they had in their direct line of sight and it would not be enough to matter whilst giving away the hidden positions of our reserves too soon could prove a fatal error for our overall survival never mind success.]

“I told you we should have strategically withdrawn when we had any chance to flee this operation.” [I complained via sending feeling my worst fears vindicated.]

“Every setback to a clever ‘War Master’ tactician has the seed of fresh opportunities. By sending so many ‘Gangers’ down, to cut off our retreat ‘Gadfly’ has by necessity reduced the number of ‘Vipers’ between her and us giving us an opening to reach her directly. I suggest we alter our strategy and race up to the top floor. I think this ‘Gadfly’ is very much in control here - as you suggested these people are not acting so drug crazy - so if we can capture ‘Gadfly’ we can force her loyal troops to submit to terms and it will all be over quickly in our favour.” [‘Short’ sent.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

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PostPosted: Tue, 2. Jun 15, 13:15    Post subject: Reply with quote Print


“Triple curse those ‘Skimmer Cultists’ for bringing down that ‘Drop Ship’ if we had been able to breach from the roof - as I originally intended - this operation might have been over by now. Kill or capture ‘Gadfly’ and an almost bloodless wider success might have ensued with little damage to the infrastructure of the ‘Tower’ too.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Unexpected consequences are the bane of any too inflexible battle plan. Beyond that, do we really care about keeping this ‘Tower’ intact now if it is still really ‘FPB’ property? I am almost tempted now to encourage you to blast away at the cursed building’s superstructure - to bring the entire edifice crashing down - except maybe even our Bounty Hunter instructions may be a clever lie. Possibly laying this one waste will only assist the ‘FPB’ with their overall clearance scheme. Maybe they want the place wrecked, as another seeming excuse to invest in starting over once the entire district is nothing but rubble and ruin.” [I argued via sending.]

“You think the bonus to keep the place intact was pure misinformation.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Giving us an impossible criterion is a smart way not to have to pay out a bonus too and the ‘Bankers’ know how to squeeze a budget. When they sent us in, they had to know this was going to be a damaging fight, maybe even for us a losing battle. Maybe we are not even supposed to win here - just to suffer a belatedly well-published massacre - giving someone else an ample excuse to use far more extreme measures against the building and its too defiantly lawless occupants perhaps enough force to leave no possibility of any collection of evidence of previous malpractice. They sent in reasonable force but ‘Viper Crazies’ massacred all of them… it would be easy to sell this one as a civilian matter that raged out of control and now requires far sterner military action. Then they could even criticise our military forces for doing their clearance possibly making a claim against damages to the ‘Tower’.” [I sent.]

“You truly think they are secretly angling for a military intervention here as the ultimate bit of manipulation by having ‘Paradox Marines’ clear the way for an illegal ‘FPB’ land grab deal on a ‘Paradox Sliver’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I am sure that using us against ourselves would delight them.” [I sent.]

“When did your mind get this dirtily devious I am almost impressed?” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I got this dirtily devious after having dealings with people such as ‘Draakhaal’, ‘Free Parliamentarians’, ‘The Reach Project’ and so on.” [I sent back.]

“It is an interesting idea.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I do not doubt that when used as hired fighters us Bounty Hunters are too often deemed highly expendable assets by some employers. It is up to us to be discerning by picking good - doable - jobs with the right - sensible - ratio of risk to reward. I judged this ‘Extermination Operation’ from the beginning far better suited to a much larger - Mercenary - style force we are punching out of our weight category here. So why did our employers go for Bounty Hunters rather than assemble a ‘Mercenary Unit’ if they really wanted the ‘North Star Tower’ cleared?” [I sent.]

“I assumed they were striving to do the job cheaply.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Failure is rarely cheap.” [I sent back.] “I suppose ‘Opposable’ retained the excuse of accepting this job because she could not resist the challenge to close down a big drug pushing operation. However that she foolishly made her business too personal is a poor excuse for you doing the same in your eagerness to aid your friend with ‘Short Six’.” [I sent.]

“I said it was an interesting idea I did not say I entirely bought into the concept you could just be trying belatedly to use reverse psychology upon me to keep the place as intact as possible supposedly to defy the ‘Bankers’ desires which would be deviously clever of you too.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

“Everything I do or say is not all about you and your actions, you overgrown egotist. These days the old ‘Parliamentarians’ are more devious than ever before, it is all slight of hand operations with them as they need to appear legitimate financial people, therefore the more I consider our contract the less I trust the substance of it to be true because they are not true in any way. Just because they claim they want the ‘North Star Tower’ taken intact does not mean that is the truth of the matter. Just because they sent us to eliminate the ‘Vipers’ does not mean that is what they really want from us either. We would do well to question everything with this one especially anything that seems too obvious.” [I sent.]

“Guess you are feeling very paranoid Priest for a little ‘Swimmer’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“If only we could have done an ‘Extermination Operation’ against every old ‘Free Parliamentarian’ back in the day but the last diehard ‘Parliamentarians’ had too many ordinary ‘Pilgrims’ under their control as living shields to hide behind.” [I recalled.]

“Some skilful assassinations might have worked if we could also have guaranteed finding and deleting their ‘Digital Soul Data’ therefore preventing any chance of a ‘Rebirth’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Becoming dedicated ‘Soul Assassins’ - seeking after a multitude of final deaths - would be a new low for the family.” [I sent.]

“We attempted that deed with ‘Draakhaal’.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

“We did try to murder the soul of ‘Draakhaal’ not just his various bodies but it is not something I want to turn into a ‘MTC’ habit. ‘Soul Hunting’ is cursed uncivilised behaviour that decries any belief that individuals can reform. In addition, we were never positive that we killed off every ‘Draakhaal’ clone or found every stored digital copy of his mind. Some days I am positive the real ‘Draakhaal’ would have escaped and did escape us, that all we ever murdered were manufactured dupes and tools perhaps one or more of the earliest ‘Meat Suits’ too not to mention other lesser copies of the devious real thing. The ‘Children of Draakhaal’ claim he is still very much alive waiting to return like some magically sleeping old ‘Trojan’ king under a hill.” [I sent.]

“It might be oddly amusing to consider that our old friend ‘Draakhaal’ might have beaten us to the title of ‘Temporal Stasis Time Traveller’ too, thankfully the ‘Children of Draakhaal’ is a crazy ‘Shaper Faith Apostate Cult’.” [‘Short’ sent.] “Even if ‘Draakhaal’ somehow survived all the hunters looking for him, we still ended his tyranny and the long ‘Cold War’ with the ‘Void Skimmer Nation’ that he created as we later terminated the dominion of the old ‘Free Parliament’ even though we permitted some ‘Parliamentarians’ to survive to launch the ‘Free Parliament Bank’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Did we ever really win a lasting victory via any of our many military battles or just drive every corruption we openly contested against deeper into the shadows of our society.” [I sent.]

“Enough paranoid pessimism, we have a job to do.” [‘Short’ sent in reply.] “Even in death it seems the old Tyrant ‘Draakhaal’ can mess with our minds but what matters is that we prevailed whilst he is gone to me that makes us winners and him a loser.”

“I do not feel like a winner.” [I sent back.] “Old ‘Draakhaal’ remains very much alive in the minds of his followers metamorphosed into the more benevolent ‘Shaper’ and now into the more dodgy ‘Void Skimmer Father’ too as the ‘Children of Draakhaal’ call him.” [I sent back.]

“We all know the ‘Shaper’ is a kind lie manufactured by the ‘Arch Prelate’ to save the ‘Stellar Draakhaal Nation’ from their worst impulses whilst the ‘Void Skimmer Father’ is a no less spurious creation of ‘Shaper Faith Apostates’ mostly rebellious old ‘Ruling Caste’ survivors trying to make a resurgence to power but so far only winning over small followings from the most disaffected ‘Skimmers’ with some grudge or other against the ‘Arch Prelate’. We all know anyone in power eventually gathers some detractors. In truth, I do not believe ‘Draakhaal’ ever cared about any other soul including other ‘Void Skimmers’ and the ‘Ruling Caste’. ‘Draakhaal’ only cared about ‘Draakhaal’ he was an egotistical maniac with known mental issues probably caused by a too young well-documented encounter with the weird influence of the ‘Unknown’s Gate’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“The true nature of ‘Draakhaal’ along with his true plans spawned endless theories by us including various theory retractions. I think in the end he became whatever at the time we needed him to be to justify our own not always glorious momentary choices.” [I sent.]

“Although with ‘Soul Capture’ technology and ‘Digital Rebirth’ you can never be certain you have killed anyone, for our peace of mind it is probably best now to simply consider ‘Draakhaal’ long dead and gone. We have enough problems in the present without exhuming the shade of that old Devil from our past.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“The Devil is dead long live the Devil.” [I sent back.]

“True there is always a Devil of some kind out there.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“For you now ‘Unholy’ the Devil is very firmly the vast ‘Entanglement’ that is the many limbed body of ‘Crimson’.” [I sent.]

“She is the one suspected of stealing and torturing captured ‘Pilgrim’ digital souls ripped out of the bodies of the slain whose biomass she greedily subsumed during her ‘Advent’ across the wide breadth of the ‘Core Alliance’ and beyond all those years ago. I consider that truth easily puts horns upon her head it certainly fits the popular ‘Trojan’ personification of the ultimate evil as the entitled figure that rules over a hell of imprisoned lost souls.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“Inventively you annoyingly make a good point, ‘Crimson’ has a gift for being obnoxious to lesser ‘Pilgrims’ and today might easily seem the bloated Devil of our times. Yet despite her many documented crimes I still believe she has great potential as a much altered - ‘Pilgrim’ - to reform and be something far more positive even one day majestic in a less cruel, less domineering way.” [I sent.]

“I fear sometimes your big brains were completely addled by your too close encounter with the ‘Entanglement’ in the ‘Dark Fields’.” [‘Short’ sent in reply.]

“That is not even a little funny.” [I sent back in complaint still being sensitive about accusations of insanity due to my known brain injury.]

[Back in slow real time given our altered situation with any easy retreat firmly cut off by rappelling ‘Vipers’ - I was positive more Mercenaries - ‘Opposable’ hastily agreed with the new strategy proposed by ‘Short’. She no doubt noticed that we had few other good options. We now planned to go straight up at every opportunity ignoring clearing whole floors one slow room at a time. Since we already had a strong enemy force behind us, why bother clearing each level of all resistance of course that ignored the increasing likelihood of stumbling into ambushes and skirmishes with ‘Vipers’ nearby upon each of the successive floors we breached an argument ‘Short’ chose noticeably to ignore.]

[We divided our strength into three groups ‘The Eight’ splitting into two lesser groups of four with ‘Short Six’ making the third slightly larger team. Each team assigned to using a different means to push upward at a different location. One team commenced their ascent by climbing directly up the elevator shaft another team took the equally obvious stairs. ‘Short Six’ planned to reach upward via blasting holes directly into known soft spots in the ceilings / floors between levels and then climbing straight up via those breaches. None of these teams necessarily strictly staying to these methods we would use whatever worked best reactively as we progressed higher but those were the initial divisions of our separated upwardly mobile labours.]

[The concept floated by ‘Short’ being that if one team suffered bogging down under heavy resistance another group could flank around and come to their rescue. It might also be in the back of some minds that if one team suffered annihilation others could continue to avenge them. I worried we were just splitting our strength with a four person team seeming especially weak but no one was listening to me.]

[The architectural plans were a great boon to ‘Short Six’ for choosing our teams best forced-entry points. We made our first choice for several structural and tactical reasons including proximity to the next good soft spot above that one and the next spot above that and so on. The idea being to chain our efforts upward whilst making minimal lateral movement ideally for us travelling seemingly only through easily secured positions with a nature that would make them less likely to be occupied by any enemy forces.]

[I must admit I preferred our plan of assault compared to the far more obvious points of attack taken by the two teams split from the ‘The Eight’. Still the others were free to alter their means upward at any time if their original method proved problematic. The key to our strategy being three separate assaults upward not the means used whatever worked was more than good enough.]

[Not too surprisingly amongst our shared supplies, ‘Short’ had us bring a truly diverse range of explosives. As ever ‘Short / UT’ preferred to have plenty of available boom on the off chance it might be needed. After hastily drilling a small hole in the ceiling near one wall, ‘Short’ ordered ‘Ingrid’ to extrude a snaking optic to scout the space above that we would soon be blasting into to double check its suitability and lack of unwanted guests or other surprises. When what ‘Ingrid’ insisted upon calling her periscope revealed nothing other than the expected, ‘Short’ standing on top of the most sturdy desk we could find locally, although it still buckled scarily under her weight, used a glue gun like device to lay down some ‘Explosive Gel’ in a circle. ‘Short’ then attached a tiny remote detonator one of a great many she had in a neat pouch. I noticed she worked quickly before the desk could give way beneath her. Job done, after hurriedly helping to move the desk aside ‘Short’ retired to a safe position behind some cover with the rest of us and hit the typically red fire button.]

[The resultant blast was very practical and humble by my friend’s usual operational standards one might almost say - disappointingly tame - neatly coring out a circle of material that dropped heavily to our floor level in one barely smoking intact piece. To me the noise of the blast proved hardly more intense than that made by a fragmentation grenade in an empty space if tonally somewhat different. We wasted no time hauling the desk back in place over the debris and under the hole whilst some obscuring concrete dust was still settling around and upon us.]

“Nice hole ‘Short’, almost a perfect circle, you are an explosive artist.” [‘Jack’ possibly mocked whilst peering upward.]

[My sort of ‘Trojan’ child then climbed up onto the precarious desk to reach down and help ‘Mabel’ follow him. ‘Jack’ then smoothly boosted her further up to climb through the neat hole allowing ‘Mabel’ to in her turn to help him up via reaching down from the floor above. Both ‘Mabel’ and ‘Jack’ then reached down to help ‘Kanne’ up who I had previously assisted onto the desk. I approved of how each action undertaken by us now flowed instantly into the next without pause or fuss. I felt impressed by the swift cooperation demonstrated also relieved as the desk - barely sturdy enough - looked about to collapse from our various weighty abuses. I wondered if sleeping together facilitated good teamwork between ‘Jack’, ‘Ingrid’ and ‘Mabel’ still if it did, I doubted it would ever become an accepted military doctrine of good squad management.]

[‘Ingrid’ then went next independently showing off by using her suits ability to extrude long limb extensions as her means upward. Really, with such mobility, she should have gone first but we were still keeping her off point for psychological reasons. Whilst ‘Ingrid’ made getting up there using her ‘Suit Substance Battle Armour’ seem almost annoyingly easy, ‘Jack’, ‘Mabel’ and ‘Kanne’ took covering positions above to commence guarding our breaching point against any potential counter strike on the new level. However as we hoped the small office storage room they entered was naturally devoid of guarding traffic filled only with the questions always left behind when viewing empty unlabelled shelving.]

[‘Ingrid’ after anchoring herself firmly to several points above with extruded tethers then dropped a thick tentacle to help haul the heavy ‘Short’ upward as if the ‘Recycler’ was on a ‘Bio-mechanical’ winch or doing a bungee drop in reverse. Soon it would be my turn for a ‘Suit Substance’ assisted lift, as my ‘Dry Suit’ was also somewhat bulky, heavy and hardly designed for climbing up a vertical rope hand over hand with nowhere to place my mechanical feet. Considering the way ‘Ingrid’ easily negotiated this obstacle and no doubt in time would greatly aid those of us with mobility issues upward during our 101 floor ascent made me wonder if I erred in going ‘Real Material’ with my ‘Dry Suit’ for the sake of separating my ‘Meat Suit’ appearance from my truer ‘Living Hull Suit Substance User’ identity.]

[I could only hope that having to continually operate the hard way for a change without the - almost too useful - facility of shifty ‘Suit Substance’ was proving a valuable education for me about the daily grind under which the ‘Real Materialist’ other half of our populace due to their prejudices lived and worked. I suppose you could almost say I was endeavouring to keep it more real as a way of better appreciating both sides of our material divide. In combat situations, any logistical difficulties encountered became very real indeed.]

[Sometimes it seemed us ‘Users’ had all the real advantages but I recalled that ‘Bio-mechanics’ did not have every edge whilst they could extrude systems on the fly and change shape this had proved a bane to the field shape sensitivity of the best of the current generation of ‘High Density Multi Frequency Field’ versions of shield systems that needed very firmly placed ‘Micro Repeater Emitters’ all over the surface of your armour. As a result when shifting mass ‘Bio-mechanical’ armour could suffer ‘HDMFF Shield Flare Outs’ if they used that system or they had to opt to generate less potent older shield systems. Most ‘Users’ preferred to use older more reliable fully ‘Bio-mechanical’ compatible shield systems so that ‘Real Materialists’ with the latest gear now sometimes sported as much as five times the personal shield strength of ‘Bio-mechanical’ rivals. However ‘Users’ tended to have superior kinetic dampening built into their flexible nanotech armour and of course the ability to more easily repair and regenerate from any damage their armour suffered.]

[As ever defensive and aggressive technologies hastily gained parity with any development of better shields and armour resulting in countering weapon improvements. For example the standard emitters used in ‘Force Pulse Weapons’ grew stronger and more energy efficient whilst the velocity and material composition of rounds in ‘Slug Throwers’ improved in cunning ways too. At the sharp end of combat, it often seemed that all the scientific advancements were powering ahead to make no difference to the fighters whatsoever - unless of course you failed to timely upgrade - in which case the generational differences soon became all too apparent. My standard ‘FP1’ for example might look and handle the same as a much earlier model with the same name but actually its raw output and energy efficiency was far superior. A first generation ‘FP1’ without upgraded parts even with a long burst would hardly put a dent in a modern ‘HDMFF’ shield that was the often hidden nature of progress. Cynically most improvements just kept the arms manufacturers such as the ‘MTC’ in business.]

[As I waited, I internally bemoaned typically somehow suffering relegation to rear guard duty again. Sometimes, rightly or wrongly, I felt I had become the ‘Swimmer’ shaped rear end or blow hole if you prefer of ‘Short Six’. I had hoped after I captured ‘Demetrious Ire’ - almost alone - that I would have earned a bit more combat kudos from the rest of the squad although I suppose holding the rear here was an important position but a part of me wanted to be firmly up front leading the charge just for a change of pace. In any work environment, a degree of duty rotation can assist morale a little by breaking up what can otherwise become a too boring routine. Besides, doing rear guard today was greedily feeding my fear and paranoia as I was far from comfortable with this mission.]

[I can easily tell you that I felt increasingly vulnerable and alone down there, fearing the breaching blast might draw hostiles to my position and that any well-staged incoming rush of ‘Recycler Mercenary’ combatants might too easily push me back separating me on this lower level from easy access to my comrades above. I readily fretted about how much time we had to play with before the enemy below might surge upward to overwhelm us in considerable strength even if ‘Short’ believed they would have to form a queue in some places. To be honest I felt ‘Short’ was being far too generous with our gap and their supposed difficulties since we had to clear booby traps too. All I could do was pray hard that our traps delayed their main advance longer - ideally long enough for us to stay a level or two ahead of any too substantial pursuit - but I increasingly disliked the odds against us. To me ‘Short’ was having a bad day with her mathematics.]

“You, my friend, are far too cursed heavy for this sort of thing. Without good anchor points you would have dragged me down instead of me managing to too slowly haul you up.” [‘Ingrid’ complained to ‘Short’ upon our Commanders eventual weighty arrival above.]

“Being hauled up like a dead fish on a hook by a ‘User’ is not my idea of fun either.” [‘Short’ complained as the tentacle detached from around her.] “Speaking of somewhat fishy fishing business you need to stop gabbing and lift our isolated ‘Swimmer’ friend up to here pronto.”

[On this occasion, my easily escalating fears proved unfounded and I soon joined the others above unscathed - at least in body - even if my mind felt as if it was cracking under too much pressure. Although initially crowded in the storage space we nonetheless hastily organised some booby trap surprises in another attempt to slow down any pursuers from below. Satisfied we then moved out into a hallway area with ‘Short’ again on point and ‘Ingrid’ scanning. The rest of us tactically following behind with guess who doing rear guard. Thankfully it was not far to our next soft spot upward. Whilst we moved we constantly scoped and scanned for hostiles including more enemy booby traps.]

[The new level soon seemed as abandoned of living souls as the last but equally rigged as even in our small lateral movement we quickly scanned another well placed and armed anti-personnel mine forcing another, to me far too loud, controlled explosion. Oddly, the lack of hands on ‘Viper’ resistance so far only made me feel far more rather than less nervous. I suffered waking nightmares of ambush horrors that alternated between drugged up suicidal crazies and far too disciplined ‘Mercenary Recyclers’. My imagination playing me false.]

[I could not stop pondering the manner of traps ‘Gadfly’ might plan for us from her secure position far above. Perhaps my trepidation, yet almost growing desire for an honest fight, was simply because whilst busily engaging in combat your mind is too preoccupied with surviving from one moment to the next to dwell upon the concept of undetected sinisterly stalking threats waiting to pounce when least expected. In some ways, an engaged foe is easier to deal with than an intangible but constant threat from an unseen but known to be present out there somewhere enemy.]

[I also wondered if being in a ‘Swimmer’ body did make me far more nervous about unseen dangers - truly I felt somewhat more cowardly than the normal ‘Many Truths’ - but I wondered by what degree so that I might logically seek to compensate without overcompensating and becoming too recklessly bold as it was bad enough having a recklessly bold Commander. Sadly, all my fears seemed very real to me even though I knew I was not quite acting myself.]

[Meanwhile - almost unkindly - relayed images came in from ‘Mosquitoes’ outside showing that the substantial forces that dropped down the six sides of the building moments ago did not foolishly rush the breaching points. Instead of suffering from our traps they acted to calmly and smartly get well organised into tactical teams and instead deployed of all things some ‘Crab Mines’ to move in well ahead of them. A few easily expendable ‘Crab Mines’ soon enough detonating to spring all our traps at our initial external breaching points. The mine clearance operation occurring moments before the troops confidently entered the building utterly unharmed to commence reoccupying the ground floor. The speed of their incursion and lack of losses felt akin to a brutal kick to my sensitive ‘Swimmer’ stomach. Belatedly I was positive we could and should have done a far better job of our booby traps down there perhaps we had been in far too big a hurry to move on rather than to secure what we had already gained but the problem with hindsight is it usually arrives too late.]

“They have ‘Crab Mines’.” [I sent in I hoped loudly registered complaint to ‘Short’.]

“I hardly failed to notice that fact.” [‘Short’ sent back irritably.]

[Annoyingly once the foe went back inside the ‘Tower’ we lost all visual contact with them again, due to the buildings still working anti-micro and nanotech scale defences that kept our ‘Mosquito Drones’ from even daring to follow the ‘Vipers’ inside. Sadly, we had been unable to trash the anti-surveillance defences in our limited time on the ground floor because the ‘FPB’ had cunningly built those systems deep inside the very superstructure of the ‘Tower’ and they ran independently to the main ‘North Star Tower’ data space too and so could not be easily hacked. It was infuriating not knowing whether the foes - now behind us - were staying put or giving immediate chase or doing both by dividing their considerable strength.]

“Again all we have witnessed in the ‘Vipers’ is professional - competent - ‘Recycler Mercenary’ types.” [I sent in further complaint.]

“There must be some drugged up crazies somewhere in here.” [‘Short’ sent back now sounding almost eager to meet them perhaps that being her sick idea of a good change of pace.]

“This one sucks eggs and swallows.” [I complained via sending.] “I am beginning to wonder if maybe every reported ‘Viper Reality Bender’ on a rampage was a staged event for example a play acting expendable ‘Meat Suit’ on a Mercenary sponsored suicide mission that would certainly fit the too stupid ex-‘Conglomerate Heavy Marine’ with the shoulder mounted rocket launcher and so on.”

“Anything is possible.” [‘Short’ sent back as if my speculations bored her.]

“Maybe there never was any real drug abuse or even messy drug manufacturing happening here and no real ‘Deck Gang’. Apart from the damage we are doing to the ‘Tower’ it is too pristine and well looked after. No ‘Deck Gang’ graffiti no lived in sentient beings out of their headspace mess. I have seen many ‘Deck Gang’ haunts and few look anything akin to this place most youth gangs have a natural compulsion to trash anything that looks too corporate since all of that represents the hated establishment.”

“It is early yet, perhaps all the messy stuff is further up we have no idea of the normal spread of occupation here the ‘Tower’ is probably far bigger than current ‘Viper’ requirements and some levels are probably firmly off limits to more addicted and rash ‘Deck Gang’ members especially the lobby with access outside.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I am sure you are right as always.” [I sent sarcastically.]

“Sooner or later we will find crazies as I doubt that this operation is as clean as you are suggesting.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“Why do you say that?” [I sent back.]

“Simply because the ‘FPB’ will ensure there is lots of damning material evidence to be found to cover up the truer nature of their conspiracy especially if it is all as you insist about a dodgy covert ‘FPB’ land grab scheme.” [‘Short’ sent.]

[Despite ‘Short’ being unmoved by my fears, I continued to have a bad feeling about the mission so much so, that when I considered our low position in the ‘Tower’ it created a tight little knot in my ‘Swimmer’ stomach. I wondered once again if my fears might be physical symptoms of wearing this ‘Meat Suit’ rather than any woeful subconscious mental computation of hidden risks. Sadly, I was no longer sure with my present worries what happened to be cause rather than effect. I strove to ignore the uncomfortable feelings but then felt that doing so almost betrayed possible cautionary insights. At the idea of distrusting - second guessing - my own opinions in this dangerous tactical space, I began to feel even worse far too hot and almost claustrophobic in my confining squid bowl type ‘Dry Suit’. In fact, I deeply missed wide open outer space were threats are easily detected at great range.]

[A planned drop out alert - not of my failing mood but in relation to our teams digital hack of the ‘Tower’ - helped me to somewhat centre my thoughts and feelings again.]

“I can now tell you that the foe has found and disabled the ‘Remote Link’ I put on their data terminal. Fortunately, by the time they disabled the ‘Link’ our ‘Sub Cores’ managed to embed some sophisticated self-replicating viral weaponry into their intranet so at least we have trashed their local digital assets although probably only for a very limited time period. Still for now the ‘Towers’ inbuilt monitoring optics are disabled covering the secrecy of our advance ignoring the too obvious sound alerts caused by our various controlled explosions.” [I added via sending.]

“Better us doing the booming than the enemy. Whilst I am disappointed by your digital failure I would have preferred us to gain permanent - control - of the digital systems of the ‘Tower’ to spy on the enemy rather than just temporarily disabling the hardened intranet but being adaptive I will take whatever I can get.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

[I felt insulted that one was hardly my specific failure I just attached a hacking relay.]

“Be glad we got this much as I did not expect a lot of progress from our digital assault as the ‘Tower’ has excellent digital defences certainly as good as any ‘Pilgrim’ systems we have ever challenged.” [I sent.]

“If you say so it must be true.” [‘Short’ sent I decided deliberately baiting me.]

“The ‘FPB’ when they built this place were obviously no less paranoid than the ‘MTC’ about data security. Remember this building was once an important ‘Regional Free Parliament Bank Headquarters’ probably once the repository for a great many dirty secrets not just rare material goods in safety depositories and so on therefore they had every reason to spare no credits with digital security measures.” [I sent.]

“No need for elaborate excuses ‘Swimmer’ I have moved on.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

“You know saying such things is not clever or funny.” [I sent in complaint.]

“I disagree.” [She sent back.]

“I am not the one who failed to properly secure the entire ground floor.” [I sent in turn.]

“I will admit one thing I should have left some of my latest batch of ‘Crab Mines’ down there in the lobby as a later surprise. It would have been interesting to see what happens when opposing ‘Crab Mines’ encountered one another.” [‘Short’ sent to me as if it was all a game.] “However they are a one use resource and I confess down there I got a bit too precious with ours given all the many levels up there still ahead of us.”

[Thinking about all the so far un-breached and unsecured levels above us was the last thing I wanted to do it made me want to curl my tentacles up and refuse to move another mechanically assisted step. Due to my circumstances, I however naturally strove to ignore the useless impulse to quit refusing to advance would mean being left behind which was hardly any better. Was I the only detractor of ‘Short’ with great doubts and fears about this operation? I gazed at the backs of the others they now seemed intent upon just doing their part as members of the squad, even ‘Ingrid’ who had almost been killed mere moments ago and had seemed shaken at the time now seemed only super focused on the next mini subtask ahead.]

[Perhaps ‘Unholy Terror’ was right over thinking certain matters notably constantly dwelling upon the difficulties of this, I felt disastrous, mission was bound to promote little other than increasing anxiety within me. Somehow, I had to manage my trepidation about this operation lest it adversely impinged upon my functionality as a team member but it was not easy to let concerns that seemed too valid go.]

“For this job we really need a host of ‘Immortal’ Marines as support not a few more ‘Crab Mines’ but sadly, here I am ‘Bluu’ not the ‘Many Truths’ just as you are ‘Short’ not ‘UT’. Now we know a little more about the capabilities of the able opposition our three ‘Soulless’ in reserve and fourteen ‘Pilgrim’ internal assault team including ‘The Eight’ seems pitifully inadequate to safely continue this difficult task. You badly overestimated our abilities in every way and now you seek us to do the impossible.” [I sent.]

“You need to stow the negativity and command complaints best save your communications primarily for solutions rather than ‘Swimmer’ whining about your fears remember we are committed.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“You ought to be committed and for following you into this mess so should I.” [I sent in reply words I had often uttered to ‘UT’ before.]

“Is it because you are inside a little ‘Swimmer’ that you demonstrate so little faith because I find that odd I would expect - little - ‘Pilgrims’ need bigger faith?” [‘Short’ sent back too humorously.]

[I cursed a stream out in archaic ‘Swimmer’ as my answer to that one to which ‘Short’ hissed out a slow time speaker laugh back in the real. Annoyingly still having to breach over ninety more levels of enemy territory was probably just bonus fun to her.]

[I still strongly blamed ‘Short’ for taking this job with too little forethought and investigation backing our ‘Short Six’ involvement although perhaps I was just struggling with being under another soul’s direction having long been without a Captain. It was hard to surrender my fate and the fate of others close to me too firmly to the control of another mere ‘Passenger Class Pilgrim’ even ‘Short / UT’.]

“You erred you should have called the mission off as soon as we lost the ‘Task Force Drop Ship’ insertion. To me the roof point insertion was a vital part of our initial breaching strategy this ground up assault is at best a dire cobbled together mistake.” [I sent.]

“As I said stow it. In addition, you better keep such ill-advised thoughts firmly to yourself around the others or you will murder our squad morale as if a teamwork assassin.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“I am more worried about you murdering our squad.” [I sent back.] “With hindsight you were probably too right with the initial concept that taking out the leader of this supposed ‘Deck Gang’ was the key to total dominance of the battle space. If we had killed or captured ‘Gadfly’ early in this operation, everything would be different. Now I fear you only continued with the forcibly modified plan because you worried ‘Opposable’ might unwisely continue on stupidly alone or with other allies but without you, and you feared for the safety of your friend during such a stupidly ambitious difficult operation.” [I sent.]

“Triple curse you ‘Bluu’ - focus in the now - or you just might get us all killed. When did you elect to become the squad doomsayer?” [‘Short’ sent back.]

“When I realised 101 levels is about 90 levels far too much to sanely consider traversing against this level of opposition.” [I sent back.]

“That is what ‘Gadfly’ wants you to firmly believe but you are following my orders in here not hers.” [‘Short’ sent.] “Believe in me and we will do this one level at a time. If you find thinking about the entire mission is too daunting focus on just completing your part of the next operational step and leave dealing with the bigger issues to me.” [She coached.]

“I wish I was stupider than I am then this one might make more sense to me.” [I sent back.]

“You are being more than stupid enough. If you need it submit to some internal calming mediation do what you must but refuse to lose a winning perspective. Remember my friend, as Harbinger often said, ‘belief creates its own reality’.” [‘Short’ sent.]

“If you get ‘Kanne’ and the others killed I will never forgive you.” [I sent.]

“I am not getting anyone killed although I might be tempted to drop your little ‘Meat Suit’ out the nearest opening window if you continue sending me such nonsense. Actually I might be tempted to send you out the nearest non-opening window.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

[I sent back another stream of archaic ‘Swimmer’ language some of it especially blue.]

“The same to your egg bound mother too.” [‘Short’ sent in reply having obviously translated.] “Stop distracting me with prattle and just do your egg sucking job.”

[I guess even able ‘War Masters’ of the calibre of ‘Unholy Terror’ sometimes make stupid mistakes for personal reasons. At least this time ‘UT’ erred for the sake of friendship rather than say his usual egotistical Warrior vanity that seemed to constantly whisper to him that he could survive any peril any opponent fired at him. Nonetheless the push to the 101st floor still felt more akin to a desperate military gamble with every passing nanosecond to me rather than a truly smart counter stratagem to ‘Gadfly’ cleverly crating us up inside her ‘North Star Tower’. Sometimes I hated my little ‘Swimmer’ fears suffering seeming vindication. In this instance despite my many early complaints, I would prefer ‘Short’ hastily prove me thoroughly wrong.]

[In addition, I could hardly believe that ‘Short’ dared to lecture me on subdividing a difficult project to make it more manageable. My entire life as a ‘Living Hull’ seeking parity of esteem as a member of a genetically engineered servitor species being an outsized project I had only ever been able to nibble away at one small piece at a time. Then I recalled that ‘Short’ as ‘UT’ had impossible long term dreams too such as defeating ‘Crimson’ to rescue multitudes of damned digital souls including hosts of ancient ‘Core Alliance’ deceased. ‘Unholy’ had at last found a truly worthy excuse to give battle to the ‘Entanglement’ but that did not make his quest for revenge and justice anymore possible than before. In many ways, the belief that ‘Crimson’ possessed all those captured souls probably only made his improbable task to defeat ‘Crimson’ even more difficult. I guess scaling this tower in relation to besting the ‘Entanglement’ was a light distraction was that how ‘Unholy’ inside ‘Short’ maintained her battle cool by downplaying the scale of every difficulty compared to the ultimate challenge or was ‘UT’ just created by his father far too fearless. Maybe ‘UT’ needed to spend a little time in a little ‘Swimmer Meat Suit’ to appreciate how the rest of us sometimes felt. Was that what I was doing here with ‘Bluu’ better appreciating how it feels to be a little scared ‘Pilgrim’ living amongst stomping giants such as ‘Unholy Terror’ or even the ‘Many Truths’?]

[Sometime later ‘Ingrid’ fished me up to another floor this time level nine.]

“This is getting almost easy.” [‘Jack’ said aloud as I arrived which was of course when the ceiling came down upon us along with dropping then leaping ‘Recycler Crazies’.]

[If they were just acting mad they were doing a cursed good job of it although actually with hindsight perhaps far too good a job as drug crazy people are not always combatively manic some just stare at pretty lights or whatever. Anyway, the way they came at us was all a bit too convenient for example, someone had - skilfully - if explosively contrived to drop the ceiling on us along with some of the seeming crazies without greatly damaging any of our assailants’ functionality. I say some of the crazies as the others jumped down from above immediately after the explosion rather than dropping down more stupidly with it. Landing amongst us in some instances upon us our foes attacked using an assortment of crude and not so crude melee weapons everything from armoured fists and boarding swords to metal bars in one instance a revving combat grade cybernetic chainsaw.]

[A big lump of swinging concrete from the falling ceiling had contrived to knock my ‘Mechanical Dry Suit’ over apparently this was my day for falling down. I was just struggling back to my mechanical feet when I was kicked over again by a hulking black armoured old ex-‘Conglomerate’ style ‘Tank Class Marine’ luckily one stripped of the usual heavy weaponry such as shoulder mounted rocket launchers as that might have been really crazy in this enclosed space. Nonetheless, my ‘Dry Suit’ was soon being pounded by massively armoured fists and feet. Somehow I had managed to drop my rifle when the concrete hit me - an annoying habit for someone using mechanical suit limbs - so I fumbled to pull my ‘Knock Gun’ from my suit hip mounted holster but initially some loose rubble got in the way so I first had to scoop that material aside like a ‘Trojan’ farm child playing in the dirt.]

[I felt calm as I scooped oddly in battle I no longer felt as panicked and afraid even facing a horrible view. The view I was suffering being that of an outsized fist smacking my shield at face height twice. Worse every time the ‘Recycler’ made contact cleverly built in ‘Leech Device’ contacts in the heavies fists depleted my already weakened shield by sucking down a big whack of its energy like a technological vampire. To me the leech thing just seemed cursed unfair.]

[The heavy was otherwise obscuring my entire view of the ongoing chaos with his or her immense armoured body but I could hear far too graphic weapon fire, various hard knocks and the ominous revving of then worse some grinding from the chainsaw on who knows what surface. I had a dire mental images of ‘Kanne’ getting her head sawn off I think that helped motivate me to get my ‘Knock Gun’ out and fire with a belatedly smooth motion. Unfortunately my ‘Knock Gun’ was holstered on a stun level setting and was about as combat effective as a big wet ‘Swimmer’ kiss. The fist came at me again prompting my shields to go down. I maxed the little handgun’s setting and fired again keeping the trigger firmly depressed, I will confess to a little ‘Swimmer’ panic at this juncture. The big fekker had to be locked in place somehow or just absurdly heavy because he hardly rocked backwards despite taking a forceful pummelling on his I soon realised too adequate shields. The armour might be old style but the shields I guessed were upgraded. Note I just decided it was a him - for descriptive convenience sake - also I feel better cursing out a him.]

[Crazy or not the heavy was smart enough to go for my ‘Knock Gun’ which he deftly grabbed and crushed as if it was a toy rather than a once reliable back up weapon along with I must add my civilian grade mechanical right hand. Rather uselessly tied in diagnostic warnings at this point lit up upon my ‘Mental HUD’ telling me my right hand was no longer functional.]

[Realising my personal fight was not going too well I speeded up cognitively to take stock of my position which mostly seemed little ‘Swimmer’ against massive ‘Recycler’ equals painful fail. Yet I still had a few options. Back in slow real time I used my undamaged left hand to reach for a ‘Slap Happy’. ‘Short’ had made some ‘Contact Grenades’ part of our standard ‘Short Six’ kit after his previous embarrassing demise due to such devices. Our ‘Slap Happy Contact Grenades’ were not filled with weird subsuming nanotech but with more standard shaped charges but I was not going to complain about that fact.]

[I tried to slap it on the fekkers head which might at least have blinded his main optics but only managed to reach his chest. It erupted taking his shield down but otherwise not doing much else. Behind all the armour I was positive the behemoth was grinning at me as he reached down and with a wrenching heave tore my left mechanical arm off at the shoulder socket. More diagnostics flared to life. I feared I was about to discover what it feels like to be ‘Junked’ by a ‘Recycler’.]

[Somewhat limb challenged I resorted to giving him repeated knees were in some species it might hurt. There was considerable power in my mechanical legs and in other circumstances against another opponent it might have made a big difference here it was a simple act of useless defiance. Ignoring the kneeing that just clanged off solid armour both fists began to pummel my squid bowl that was soon leaking precious water from loosening seams. In turn, I strove desperately to use my right arm in a defensive manner to block. Soon annoyed with that he grabbed at that arm I surmised to rip that one off too when there was a stunning blast that lit him up as a shadowy mass as he came down hard on top of me with the force of another hammering blow causing more damage and more leakage. I now had a host of ‘Dry Suit’ diagnostic warnings competing for my attention somehow even my scrubbers were no longer working properly.]

[I was still cursing a stream of invective at this latest turn of events when my comrades finally got around to lifting the remains of the very deceased ‘Tank Class’ off me.]

“It is all about knowing where to hit.” [‘Short’ claimed a little later.] “The brain of these mostly mechanical ones is rarely located in the less armoured head.” [She reminded.]

“What did you use?” [I asked looking at the burned out fused and hollowed back of the almost robotic cybernetic ‘Tank Class’.]

“An upgraded ‘Contact Grenade’ that I call a ‘Slap Happier’ these ones have almost the power of a proper demolitions charge perfect for use against more heavily armoured opponents.” [‘Short’ admitted.]

“Are you crazy? You could have blown me to ‘Hell’s Maw’ too.” [I complained.]

“Our Commander took a - good - judgement call of the boom required. I would take less complaint with ‘Short’ rescuing you since you did not need to take a ‘Rebirth’ - little - ‘Swimmer’.” [‘Kanne’ stated.]

“Less of the - little - from you people I am big enough where it matters.” [I stated.]

“That is a bold statement none of us non-aquatic girls care about.” [‘Ingrid’ replied joining the squad mockery at my expense.]

“Someday I will have my revenge for all these landlubber insults.” [I burbled back.]

“Stay still ‘Bluu’, some of this reattachment is delicate work.” [‘Jack’ complained his finger poking around inside my suit shoulder socket.] “Otherwise, you can make do with one mechanical suit limb with a somewhat wonky hand.” [He added.]

[The battle repairs to my ‘Dry Suit’ by ‘Jack’ notably focused upon giving me back my left arm and making my right hand usable for basic functions such as pulling triggers. My friends kindly retrieved my arms as in both my ripped off limb and my lost slug throwing Assault Rifle too. Meanwhile by using some software adjustments alone I had managed to coax my scrubbers back to sixty percent efficiency by altering water flow strength and so on between the two units. I also applied some basic emergency sealant to stop a persistent drip from a very badly damaged seal that refused to self-seal. Even my mechanical left leg was damaged a heavy spar bent somewhat, as a result I now walked with, I was positive a weird looking, minor limp.]

“How are the repairs going?” [‘Mabel’ asked without turning around from a sentry vigil by the door.]

“Our ‘Professor’ is not going to win any contests that require manipulative dexterity especially with his right hand but I think I can give him enough usage to make him almost as combat effective as he was before.” [‘Jack’ said I felt with unnecessary dry humour.]

[To my amazement, everyone else seemed in good shape and in high spirits perhaps feeling flushed with success due to a small martial victory, probably in their cases because a big lump of concrete did not knock any of them down whilst batting their primary weapon out of their hands too at the onset of the skirmish. ‘Short’ looked the most damaged after me but then she had apparently gone toe to toe with the other heavy that dropped down upon us the one with the intimidating combat chainsaw. New scars adorned various parts of the very recently reconditioned and oil bathed armour belonging to ‘Short’ which now looked ready already for another service.]

“Hurry it up ‘Jack’. We cannot lull around too long here. They are onto our pattern of advance someone predicted where we were going next and arranged that little drop in surprise. I must have been far too obvious with my soft spot choices by always going for the nearest one that fits certain other, with hindsight too predictable, criteria.” [‘Short’ admitted.]

[We had naturally made use of the hole the enemy, not so kindly, provided to reach the next level and were now holding up in a defensive position not too far from that breach to do basic battle repairs and first aid - mostly involving giving me my arm back whilst ignoring my other ‘Dry Suit’ issues.]

[‘Short’ had laughed at first when I complained that my water scrubbers also needed some attention she then just told me to, ‘Suck it up’. I wondered how she would feel if she were in vacuum and had complaints about ‘Suit’ air recycling.]

“You buying that clumsy deceit ‘Short’ as some real ‘Deck Gang’ addicts turned into a rough suicide squad?” [I asked.]

“What are you saying?” [‘Short’ asked.]

“I will bet you they were just ‘Meat Suits’ or some mentally subverted folk or some similar hokum maybe even ‘Real Material’ corpse ‘Zombie Suits’ being run by cybernetics rather than ‘Suit Substance’. That action was too blatantly false. I am beginning to ponder that ‘Gadfly’ is just going through some motions here perhaps as a subtle form of almost passive resistance against her orders.” [I stated.]

“That sounds another speculative stretch.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“I tell you it tastes of the old doing only as directed but in ways that sabotage the overall scheme. Consider the just a bit too uniform clearance outside of here - that devastation under any serious examination actually screams out fraud - rather than being a too perfect cover story.” [I stated.]

“I suppose anything is possible ‘Professor’.” [‘Short’ stated I felt far too reluctantly.]

“I am positive I am right I think ‘Gadfly’ may be being pressed into service in some manner to me that is the only thing that fits with the sloppiness of some aspects of the ‘Deck Gang’ disguise. For example with hindsight, I was right we really should be seeing some evidence of ‘Deck Gang’ graffiti and so on by now especially if we are dealing with ‘Mercenary Recyclers’ putting on a show as a pretend ‘Deck Gang’. You know how it is people pretending usually over do rather than under do the stage dressings.” [I insisted.]

“It is still a bit early for any surety with that one maybe if the next five levels also prove graffiti free I might be convinced to agree that it is suspicious.” [‘Short’ replied.]

“You just hate to admit that I was right all along you should listen to the ‘Swimmer Professor’ because the ‘Swimmer Professor’ knows a thing or two about culture and so on.” [I argued.]

“Being right about one thing does not mean you are right about everything ‘Professor’.” [‘Short’ retorted.] “Also you possibly being right about this one hardly necessitates that I am tactically wrong in my choices so far.” [‘Short’ added I felt defensively.]

“Perhaps this is becoming a rescue operation with us rescuing ‘Gadfly’ from the clutches of the ‘FPB’. Whatever is happening in here ‘Gadfly’ seems to feel for the moment that she has no choice other than to appear to be playing along with her orders but possibly that is all she is doing playing along and that could make a difference. I do not think she wants to kill us although I am positive if she feels she has no other choice our lives will be in far greater jeopardy.” [I said.]

“That is an interesting statement can you justify it?” [‘Short’ asked.]

“That ambush was a warning it could have been far more lethal. Perhaps she is warning us that things by necessity might soon get much more dangerous if we refuse to quit.” [I said.]

“Please I do not want to hear another word about retreat from you.” [‘Short’ stated.]

“Those supposed crazies could easily have been equipped with proper firepower rather than thrown at us as almost a too obvious clue that something is not quite right here. Unfortunately, whilst I think we might have a secret ally on the top floor rather than an assured foe a secret ally under the power of a domineering foe is a very uncertain edge hardly a boon we can too safely rely upon.” [I added.]

“Think about it coerced compliance would fit every discrepancy we have encountered so far including ‘Gadfly’ having a too clean previous Mercenary Record up until now. Somehow the ‘FPB’ got leverage upon her but she is not happy about it and so is only playing along rather than doing her best.” [I insisted.]

“Interestingly the other teams have only met light spotty resistance so far too even on the stairs.” [‘Jack’ interjected.] “Maybe the ‘Professor’ is making a valid point. The problem with the idea that she may be trying to help us remains however, as ‘Bluu’ said, an unreliable boon as at any point her attitude to us might change due to her circumstances altering above. We certainly can hardly afford to relax our guard. In fact I think we should treat that melee ambush only as a scary warning to be far more careful.”

“A warning might even be the intent. Even if she wants us to reach her, she may not be able to make our higher ascent any easier she may have done about as much as she can without giving herself away. Maybe she was even telling us we need to do better from this point onward or that we should attempt to quit this trap altogether by fighting our way out.” [I argued.]

“I thought you originally believed that the ‘FPB’ wanted us to cull the ‘Deck Gang’.” [‘Short’ reminded.]

“To me that no longer makes any sense as to them we would lack the strength to do the job I now firmly back my later theory - we are all meant to be slain in here - they will use our failure and slaughter as an excuse for the unleashing of much greater force against this building and its occupants. As I said before the ‘FPB’ are all about political, economic and military slight of hand.” [I stated.]

“Ignoring your ‘FPB’ obsession ‘Bluu’, ‘Gadfly’ could just be attempting to lull us into false assumptions to draw us upward to far more dangerous levels perhaps with the intent to capture us alive rather than kill us. I can see lots of other possibilities that have nothing to do with the ‘FPB’ too.” [‘Ingrid’ interjected.]

“Yet this was an ‘FPB’ building that they supposedly sold on far too cheaply that is the first clue that begins my firm following chain of logic.” [I stated.]

“Those ones we just defeated might be nothing more than disposable rejects ‘Gadfly’ actually wanted rid of for other reasons for example as more trouble than they are worth that could just as easily explain the nature of the ambush too. A nasty leader might use an enemy to cull off unwanted folk in such a manner now that the clearance operation is complete. It might be easier to explain a loss to other ‘Deck Gang’ comrades as they just died in battle rather than daring to directly execute them. Some tyrannical leaders can get away with openly executing some of their troops but in most situations, that sort of action is a likely prelude to a rapid mutiny. After all, people start thinking I could be the next fool slated for deletion and they might even be right. Maybe she is even helping us to cull her own forces because we are meant to win not lose here despite the odds. Remember we originally told our employers we were going in at the top did you ever inform them of the change of plan due to the loss of the ‘Drop Ship’ insertion ‘Short’?” [‘Ingrid’ added.]

“I felt that was information they did not need to know.” [‘Short’ admitted.]

“Let me guess because deep inside you knew it was a crazy plan to clear 101 levels from the ground up without a far larger assault force.” [I challenged.]

“You watch your mouth or I will rip your voice box speakers off.” [‘Short’ replied sounding genuinely furious with me possibly for questioning her so openly.]

“I suppose using up a no longer needed - possibly even plot betraying group of individuals - might make a fine excuse for such troop wastage to distant ‘FPB’ bosses more interestingly ‘Bluu’ might be right I think a clever competent Mercenary Commander with the sort of reputation earned by ‘Gadfly’ would have made better use of truly expendable assets that is if she truly wanted us dead.” [‘Short’ stated.]

[I guessed that was her poor idea of morale damage control.]

“Few fighters are more lethal than assets retaining no instinct towards self-preservation under the sway of leadership able and willing to make a sacrifice of said troops for a quick victory. She could for example have rigged them - even unknowingly - with remotely detonated explosives and we would most probably currently all be in scattered bits down there. ‘Hell’s Maw’ she could have just rigged that ceiling with more explosives for some reason someone wants us alive - at the moment.” [‘Short’ added.]

“Some fine thoughts there for anyone spying on our conversation.” [‘Jack’ replied.]

“This area is secure from active surveillance systems.” [‘Short’ assured us.] “Our friend ‘Ingrid’ has thoroughly deep scanned the place.”

“All we can take to know for certain is that ‘Gadfly’ employed some assets that she willing used up anything else is verging upon dangerous speculation in my opinion. In such a hostile environment it is best to treat all non-friendly forces as assured foes unless they are subdued and in our power. As to old command choices they no longer matter - we are here - and I do not see retreat as an option we can take.” [‘Kanne’ stated without compromise.]

“Tactically the ‘Splinter’ is compellingly correct.” [‘Ingrid’ agreed.] “Friend or foe we must treat ‘Gadfly’ as a foe until she is in our power. At least fighting inside the tower we have physical cover and if ‘Gadfly’ is a coerced friend she might be able to assist us we just need to make the most of every advantage we get without becoming in any way dependant upon outside boons.”

“I will agree to that unless we manage to have a secret parley with her or she proves in some other undeniable way to be a friend and directly seeks our aid.” [I said.]

“Even then I would vote for caution we cannot afford to make any mistakes and trusting ‘Gadfly’ if the ‘FPB’ have some hold upon her except from a position of strength would be a grievous error.” [‘Ingrid’ stated.]

“Interestingly I have some early data here from the ‘DNA’ results downstairs that I can share now. The two souls identified so far are both off ‘Sliver’ Mercenaries but hardly of the calibre of ‘Gadfly’ or her past associates, these two retained nasty reputations for taking far more dodgy contracts from far more dodgy people.” [I stated sending digital copies of the details.]

“So not former upright colleagues. Have some ‘Sub Cores’ look into where the former colleagues of ‘Gadfly’ are now and what they are doing?” [‘Short’ ordered.]

“I am doing that already so far the only ones I have located are a few individuals that retired from her operations other early interesting results show that some others have recently disappeared off public core records about two years ago.” [I stated.]

“Well keep the ‘Sub Cores’ digging we might yet learn something far more useful.” [‘Short’ said.]

“Try that.” [‘Jack’ said to me.] “How does it feel?”

“Not too bad, certainly better than my mechanical right hand.” [I stated moving the reattached mechanical left arm about and manipulating the precision instrument hand.]

“Best I can do with the time ‘Short’ has allocated to me and without proper spare parts.” [‘Jack’ stated.] “If you go easy on any heavy lifting the basic welds and braces I attached ought to hold until you get a neater more professional service.”

“If you have all finished checking your gear, refilling your clips and so on it is past time we moved on upward.” [‘Short’ stated.]

[Everyone agreed that they were good to go, kindly ‘Kanne’ had refilled my clips whilst ‘Jack’ was busy repairing my arms.]

“I wonder what is really going on up there on the 101st floor.” [I sent to ‘Short’.]

“Stop hampering our morale and keep up with me and you will soon find out.” [‘Short’ sent back with too typical surety.]

[I wondered if ‘UT’ was so very positive of success or if it was all an act for the sake of squad morale because he knew this was a bad one now but akin to ‘Kanne’ saw no other option other than to press onward. I still felt we had a horribly long way to go even if we might have some limited covert help from the local ‘Gang Boss’ upstairs.]

“I will bet our friend ‘Gadfly’ if she is being coerced has some sort of modern day ‘FPB Monitor’ watching over her shoulder that would be very old style ‘Free Parliament’.” [I sent.]

“You could well be right about that the old ‘Free Parliamentarians’ never trusted any agents in the field without constant surveillance thankfully we managed to win over many ‘Monitors’ secretly to our cause or there never would have been any ‘Wars of Liberation’ just lots of purging of our ranks by ‘FPB Loyalist’ forces.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

“These days they probably have ‘Monitors’ monitoring the ‘Monitors’ monitoring the ‘Monitors’ ad infinitum or some even worse system of control.” [I sent.]

“I seem to recall there was plenty of that type of nonsense going on even in the old ‘Free Parliament’ but we still managed to fool them with lots of help from our many rebellious friends.” [‘Short’ sent back.]

“I suppose to the ‘Free Parliamentarians’ we were the corrupting influence on their society encouraging the ‘Black Market’ and so on perhaps in tearing down the ‘Free Parliament’ we unleashed a lot of people we trained to be both rebellious and criminally minded therefore founding many of our negative social issues today.” [I sent.]

“It is always easier to tear a system down that it is to build a stable better replacement.” [‘Short’ stated.]

“I suppose the fall of any repressive regime can result in some people seeking excessive freedom to the point of becoming anti-social. Still, I often wonder if our past rebellious criminality is also responsible for the proliferation of the latter-day non-conformist ‘Deck Gangs’ and the mindset of people such as the ‘Free Miners’.” [I sent.]

“I think many of the early ‘Deck Gangs’ arrived on the scene from ‘Omerta’ influences and were a response to ‘Omerta Trojan’ youth being freed from old ‘SARC’ oppression after the ‘Fall of Sanctuary Orb’ also ex-‘Conglomerate Recycler’ youths freed up from the old repression of the ‘Sleepers’. You would have us take on far too much credit. Besides, it was some of the ‘Free Parliamentarians’ that also started the ‘Black Market’ as a means to trade their own ill gotten gains and as another means of fleecing the public via selling some items on at exorbitant prices. Corruption within the ‘Parliament’ was always deep and broad they often flouted their own laws. We only took what was there and bent it to our needs as freedom fighters.” [‘Short’ reminded via sending.]

“The funny thing about freedom fighters is that they only fight for freedom until they win then they must become the new oppressors by imposing a new social system. Even if the new social system learns from the past and manages to remain for a time a kinder model there will always be some detractors that want no part of it and they are rarely tolerated and encouraged to go their own way by former rebels. Only we Paradox Priests made splitting a formal part of our society but then whilst we made splitting essential to adulthood in our own way we sought to keep our Acolyte children forever as obedient infants.” [I sent.]

Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.

Last edited by Paranoid66 on Wed, 17. Jun 15, 17:28; edited 4 times in total
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PostPosted: Tue, 2. Jun 15, 13:18    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Thanks for the earlier reply Stads

Somehow I missed responding to that one I must have been in a hurry posting Pt 2. Anyway above is Ch2 pt3 with Short Six still stuck in the Tower and Bluu still losing it a bit.


Beyond 'X' Far future (Fanfic): BkI BkII BkIII

Never more than 98.8 percent sure about anything.
98.8 percent sure that anyone who is 100 percent certain needs re-educating for the sake of humanity.
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