Hard Copy 04: 515

Products of a secret government collaboration with the mysterious S.E.E.R. organisation, the Echoni E-4 are a series of sentient bio-weapons built to do one thing; Use military force and exotic new technologies to wipe out a species of alien aggressors infesting the human colony of Planet Hawking.
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Hard Copy 04: 515

Post by uso » Thu Jul 18, 2019 4:00 pm

Concourse Alpha, Echoni Unit Recreational Lounge #6

Lights flickered above the heads of the human workers passing the metal intersection, as a new day’s routine began in earnest. Desaturated pale blue coveralls were the uniforms assigned to this branch, for contact with units past their quarantine period, and determined not to be a biological hazard. What made the support staff rather more nervous was that many of the Echoni were also allowed to roam free during daylight hours.

Not Fang Yin Zhou’s charges. Being a walking mountain of a woman meant, of course, they continued to be handed the problem children. At least the air conditioning was a lot more refreshing here.

Sylphian headquarters was getting impatient for results with the program, Fang had heard. This meant that the training schemes were getting faster and more dense, too.

Fishing the triangular badge from her left chest pocket, she took a brief shrug to prepare herself before casting it over the black-glass sensor panel. The silver door popped open with a heavy clunk, and the lights within the small bedroom slowly illuminated from orange to white.

Unit 515 was already awake, sitting on the floor next to their bed, with desk lamp that was already lit. The room was generally immaculate, but today there were all sorts of circuit components strewn about the floor… Had they disassembled something?...

Had clothes on, though. Khaki shorts and a green tank top. That was actual progress.

“Come on honey!” Fang did their best to ignore the eccentricity and just plow through, standing on some of the parts in the process, before leaning down with her best motherly smile. “Your buddy 444 is going to be escorted here by the E-2s soon! It’s not like you, to forget a scheduled appointment with your best friend!... You weren’t up all night, were you?...”

“Some necessary functional alterations.” 515 answered blankly. They were using a lot longer words lately, and it sounded a bit funny with their oversized fangs. The functional director had decided to remove a bunch of the more experimental cat-like elements and standardize the unit, but ‘Tsuguka’ was still a red-skinned devil with some really fearsome eyebrows. If anything, the simplification made her look even more angular. “After the test was completed, they locked out some of the manual triggers. I’m repairing that oversight.”

A pause. Fang was taken aback by how quickly Tsuguka was starting to talk like an adult now, but at the same time, it felt kind of like a doll projecting something that it wasn’t. A mechanism, or a verbal program, used to communicate with the meat-people.

And what was that?... Hanging from their wrist?...

Wires?... Tsuguka was part of the testing for that ‘material transition’ upgrade, then?...

A strange green glow, and particles began to dance around the space of their tampered-with right arm.

515 stood up as if this was completely normal, just another task that was part of their everyday preparation, and looked up to Fang with the standard inhuman piercing glare.

Then a five-barrelled minigun filled that space, it’s rotary end thudding loudly against the carpet. It had warped directly onto the Echoni’s forearm, trigger grip in hand, wrist encapsulating recoil dampener ready.

Fang’s stoney features made another agape expression for several paces... Then their mouth snapped shut, eyebrows furrowing, taking on that ‘tough love’ body language that regularly appeared seconds before a hefty wrestling move was necessary.

“...Little red darling…” A husky, disapproving whisper. ”...You just gave me so much paperwork to fill out...”

Then the door popped open again. It was the E-2 with the green-haired Unit 444, Uso.

Perfect timing it was not.

“I AM HERE!” 444 declared, surveying 515’s room and placing her hands on her waist. The Echoni was dressed in a make-shift pancho again, a hole having been made in the center of a blanket, with the whole thing just draped over her body. She hadn't quite gotten the hang of clothing as well as Tsuguka had, or the hang of Language quite as well as Tsuguka. 444 certainly seemed to take what she wanted, and discard what she didn’t… this attitude extending to her clothing, her vocabulary, where she spent her time.

Looking into her eyes was like looking right at her soul. Not a single filter between her and herself.

“YOU GOT A NEW PISTOL!” 444 rapidly closed the distance to where the Red Echoni was sitting. She’d place her hands ontop of 515’s shoulders, looking down over at the rotating cannon.

“CARETAKER! THEY CHANGED MY TUGS AGAIN?!” 444 quickly yanked the collar of 515’s shirt to the side, wanting to make sure she was still appropriately marked as her other hand felt her friend’s cheeks, examining what modifications had been made. 444’s stuff had been changed, replaced, or swapped out so often that she had little idea of what it meant for something to he ‘hers’... just that this one was hers, and it didn’t feel right that someone else changed it, but she didn’t quite have a way to internalize that meant amongst an environment where nothing around her was permanent.

Tsuguka reacted by simply splaying their free arm behind them, and rubbing their face on Uso’s hand, glad to be back in direct contact with their impromptu boss and spiritual compass. The slight raised ridge of the bite mark was still there on the right side of their neck, as well as the wordlessly positive feline body language. Despite always giving off the same blank doll-like expression, there was always some new unseen energy that seemed to empower them when 444 was around.

Being completely ignored or misunderstood, however, did not suit Fang’s job description. She knew that just yelling at the young things wasn’t much different from their basic communication, though. 444 wasn’t wearing clothes again, and didn’t seem to understand that this was bad, either.

Their face perfectly expressed how upset they were, but they had to be procedural about this…

“...Uso honey, can you give us two secs, please? Tsuguka just did something really naughty…”

A flip of her communicator, and the drone looked like it was perfectly ready to interfere, gazing straight through the hastily dressed green-haired ragdoll.

One fluent, practiced motion, and Fang picked up the smaller red demon by the shoulders, placing them on one end of the bed, and then sitting down beside them. Tsuguka’s dark eyes shot their usual sinister daggers, but they didn’t resist at all, simply watching Fang place an orange plastic anti-exophage collar around their neck and snap the button closed.

The weapon vanished into thin air once more, which caused the red one to hold up their arm as the weight was suddenly reduced; Fang grabbed the arm and pinched open the wrist connector port a little more, so they could see inside and remove the crude new components Tsuguka had jammed in there herself…

After that was done, Tsuguka just looked at Uso and moved to get up again, thinking the punishment was over.

Nope. Fang yanked backwards on the arm and forced her to sit down again.

“Tsuguka, you are very bad! Guns can kill people, and you can’t just play with them!” A very large and annoyed pointing finger. “Messing with your own internal parts is bad too! You could really mess up your nervous system! You don’t know what you are doing!”

“What if you shot 444 in the head and she just died, like, permanently!? Because that’s like, a real gun, and that’s what happens!”
The tense little devil just darted their eyes towards Uso, and then at Fang again. Clearly they thought it was a physical impossibility, and was rather suspicious about their caretaker’s beliefs otherwise.

444’s attention had been taken up by the aggressive stance of the E-2. She practically jumped off of Tsuguka so that she could turn towards the machine, getting ready to jump at it and take a swing. The Echoni only moments away from shouting ‘Lets go!’ when she overheard what Fang was saying. Her attention would go back to the two of the, getting a good eye-full of the anti-echoni collar. 444 had been put in one of those before, that was the bag-people’s smashing collar… for when they were thinking about smashing a troublesome echoni.

Her attention was now entirely focused on Fang and Tugs.

Maybe she could get ahold of the button-thing that did stuff? Could she even press those buttons without hurting tugs? Why was HER caretaker doing stuff she didn’t want HER caretaker to do? … The bagpeople were behind all this for sure.

And what did she say about guns?!

“Guns can kill me?!” 444 asked, sounding a bit startled, “... Are you sure?”

“And if you’re dead, your dead, that’s it. Over. Gone. People don’t come back like Trinket.” Fang crossed her arms and nodded. “Killing people is actually very easy. That’s why really powerful people are the ones who can control when it does or doesn’t happen. The best, strongest people can get by without shooting or punching a single soul.”

“Yes. I will make the guns appear so that Uso never dies.” Tsuguka answered blankly, as if they already knew about this. “If I can keep them all the time, she is always protected from drones.”

“The drones are protecting you from each other.” The muscular nurse was getting slightly more annoyed again. “They aren’t the ones who just go around punching people for no reason…”

“If somebody is punched and they die…” The oni looked along the floor, looking grim and brooding as always, then back up to Fang’s face. ”...Well… they just should have been stronger...”

The mountain of a woman just made one long exhalation, then pulled Tsuguka onto her lap and grasped both sides of her face.

“Pretty things are fragile, temporary. It’s not what they can kill which makes them good.” They looked really concerned about getting this information through. “And I think you are both pretty, both outside and in your heads... But that means you can die, too. Do you understand? I don’t want you to die.”
A nurturing look did spring out to Uso, too.

Eye contact remained as they gave Tsuguka a full warming embrace, as if to demonstrate the action to the green-haired Echoni. There was more to life than just smashing… something that seemed lost on 444 who was staring wide-eye’d at her hands as she tried to process the informations he had been provided earlier.

She was the strongest people,

But the strongest people get by without punching?

Were there people stronger than her? OR WORSE! WAS SHE NOT THE STRONGEST PERSON?!

“The strongest people don’t punch?” She said outloud, looking over at her caretaker embracing Tsuguka. A sudden realization washing over her as things clicked in to place, “OH! You mean like grappling? And throwing? You still haven’t shown me how you did that thing earlier! The one where you held me down and I couldn’t get out!”

“No, this is about using your head... and your heart.” Fang pointed to those locations, but immediately realised that Uso was just going to take it literally. “I mean, your brain and your emotions. Anybody can carry a really big gun… Well, maybe not like you two, but they can fire it, sure! And it doesn’t make people any more or less dead!”

“So you punch using the brain?” Tsuguka cut in, though still patiently being smothered by the muscular embrace. “And that makes the gun better?”

The large nurse ended the hug and took a moment to think, ending it by stroking the top of the oni’s head.

“Look, just hug her. But don’t try and crush her. And tell me what you feel.”

Tsuguka did as they were told, of course, standing up, and rather mechanically putting their arms around Uso’s shoulders. There was a lot of personal space left, suggesting they fully expected to get punched or headbutted for this.

“She’s smelly.” An immediate diagnosis. Their slightly gruff voice sounded confused. “But I like the smell???... Does that mean I lose?...”

“I’m not smelly! You’re smelly!” 444 Pouted, frowning at Tsuguka really intently, furrowing her brow as much as physically possible as she tried to Punch Tsuguka with her emotions. Her own arms were crossed under her blanket-poncho as she tried to make something happen with her feelings alone.

“I don’t get it, how does this help me smash?”
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