It had been nearly a week since the crew had arrived.
Instead of fun adventures, exploring the city, and seeing the sights... for the most part everyone was confined to the main governmental palace on Shara with little to do other than stay in their rooms or explore the kitchen. Heram Wazu and Green-Squad seemed to spend most of their time in meetings talking to people.
As it turned out, Diplomacy was very boring.
Right up until it wasn't.
It was night-time, and it would only be a few hours before the sun came up. Frank AKA Green-Horn and Green-Thumb were sleeping at the time, getting their rest in while the rest of the squad watched over Heram elsewhere. It would be Frank that got woken up by a call.
"Hey, just listen for a bit," The voice on the other end of the line would be familiar, it was the customs-agent that Frank had bribed back at the customs checkpoint, "I heard the big fight got moved up, they are starting it at the nearby stadium in about an hour. One of the houses bribed a bunch of guards to keep you guys in your rooms, so you should leave now. It won't be long before they get there."
That was all the warning Frank was going to get.
Frank curses “Green-Thumb we need to go now!” he yelled, getting up from the sleeping area as his back makes several cracking noises. Standing up he walks to grab his jacket and suit realising it stinks from the heat and his sweating so he puts on his armored trench coat.
“The cop I payed off warned me just now that there's another house that moved up the suitor fight and payed of a bunch of other guards to keep us here!”
It would take Green-Thumb a moment to get going, and another moment for what Frank said to sink in. They would need to get moving, and there wasn’t going to be time to worry about who may be left behind. “Go wake the others up, quickly, but quietly. Anyone officially on the crew should be armed. I’ll go get the Echoni. Be in the lobby in 5… wait, lets use the fire exit on the side of the building. Side exit. 5 Minutes”
Green-Thumb was already getting her suit-jacket and sunglasses on as she made her way towards the door, not quite having changed out of her fuzzy green Pajamas.
Frank ended up waking who he could quickly and quietly, knocking on the doors of the various rooms as he headed down the hallway to the fire escape while Green-Thumb went to knock on the door of the Echoni’s room.
And yet, the sound of knocking on the door would cause him to stir from the weak sleep he had been getting that night. A sigh left him as he sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes before he reached for his lab coat.
"Honestly why.....it's so early.." Zenigata groaned in annoyance as he walked over to the door that seperated his room and Quarum's. "Wake up. Something's...going on."
He would knock a few times before slipping his lab coat on. For some reason he felt a tad uncomfortable without the dagger Sonia gave him. But he felt it wise to leave it behind.
"Party intercoms online." Nix taps his sunglasses. "Lieutenant Green-Thumb, do you copy? We have the commander, en route immediately." They cock their pistols as they walk through the hallway. Geiben is sandwiched in the center of the group, Nix and Boomer taking point, Echo securing the flanks, while Snow covers the rear. For the duration of the trip, Ecur squad remains eerily silent, a far-cry from their usual, bantering selves.
It doesn't take long for Geiben and Ecur squad to reach the fire exit. While Boomer and Echo cover the entrances, the commander gestures Nix over to a display projected onto the wall by his data pad. "They've made their first move, sir. We lost the initiative." Geiben shrugs in response. "At least they showed their hand. Fortunately, we did our homework." Indeed they have. While Ecur squad continued practicing urban warfare and close quarters combat in the confines of their rooms, away from the prying eyes of security systems for the past week, the commander has spent a great deal of time mapping out the city they currently reside in. It was through buying out some of the locals at first, before the Gartagen security put a stop to that. Then, it was resorting to deploying their own drones to scout out the city. It was all sketchy, to be sure, but then again, they weren't the ones who were keeping international guests under house arrest. If it really came down to it, the Gartagens were the aggressors from the very beginning, and everything they've done, and will do, can be justified as precaution. Of course, they'll have to get out of this alive before they can talk.
The commander traces out a route outlined in red on the screen, with Nix nodding and memorizing the details. Geiben sends a map to both Ecur squad and Green squad. He then tries to open comms with the Edward Demming. "Green-Screen, this is the commander." He takes a moment to consider the severity of their predicament right now. What they're about to do is, most likely, blast through some guards, then interfere in a ritual that governs the entire species. ...No, they aren't interfering, they're upholding the rules by bringing the champion. "... Code orange. Get Enid on standby. Have her park the shuttle behind cover a few clicks from our position. I've sent you the coordinates."
"Sonia, try to get a read on Mr. Wazu's position. See if you can remote access his comms. I want a live feed of what he's hearing and preferably what he's seeing as well."
Geiben sighs. Hopefully none of that got intercepted; he put a pretty good encryption around the whole thing. He looks at Ecur squad and puts up a wavering smile.
"Sir, are you going to be alright?" Nix remarks. "You don't like ground operations at all, do you?"
"Not at all," Geiben replies. "Joined the Navy to be an armchair general. Still, can't help but feel a little excited to beat some sense into these xenos." He brings his pistol close and inspects it.
Surprised at the statement, Nix and Snow look at each other, confused at Geiben's sudden bloodlust. Echo smirks as he watches the door. "Sir, you're Pacifican, aren't you?"
"Must be awfully mad at the Gartagens for not letting you close to those beaches."
"..." Geiben freezes, then chuckles coldly. "Klugscheißer (Smartass). You're damn right."
Despite being attuned to small spaces and space vessel interiors, Doris outright hated the hotel room. Not being able to purchase equipment on sight was a death sentence for her errant interests, and culled any hope of her sticking to strictly legal forms of entertainment, too...
Ecru squad's encryption attempts were a little out of date for her liking. The Gartagen spy who had hardwired a receiver into the hotel's built-in communications system even more so.
Doris floated amongst this data. A little white will-o-wisp, darting around a glowing blue blueprint with orange active wires. Little notes here and there about potential exploits and security leaks. Easily hacked electronic lock here, a thin wall that light firearms could break through there. A week of researches' worth.
Only when Caxia pinged her internal receiver did she snap back to reality, realising that she personally was being called to action.
A qualified and paid scientist, sitting in her pineapple-print panties at 3am with a VR headset on.
Swivelled the chair, knocked her headset off, fell face-first on the floor.
Right. No freaking legs attached.
Dragged herself over to the second bed and grasped the flight suit that was crumpled up there. Green one with all of the padded internal cooling tubes and spare pockets. A lot quicker to put on than the fancy suit.
Legs came next, turning her butt around to the foot of the bed and snapping the knee-mounted o-rings into their corresponding lower leg sockets. Turned the toggle switches and felt the weighty crunching sensation of being a full person again. Stood up.
Mirror. They looked like shit. That's what happens when you ignore sleep for like two days. Oh well.
Grabbed some yogurt and a granola bar from the fridge. Wrist mounted laser SMG unit. Data pad. Maintenance tool kit.
<"Hold your horses, you irrate fridge unit! I'm coming!"> Transmitted a signal back to Caxia's robotic demands. <"Not everybody is as plug-and-play as you are!">
Out the door...
Green-Thumb would knock on the door to Caxia’s room as urgently as she could with only a minimal amount of ‘keeping it down’. She didn’t want to wake anyone else in the building but that wasn’t a luxury she could afford at the moment.
Caxia would be the first to ‘awake’. The holographic eyes that were projected onto her faceplate turning on as her legs brought her over to the door. Considering how much of the scientist was a machine it was difficult to tell exactly what was happening when her body remained still and unmoving for so long during the night. Her eyes would carefully peak through the door as it was opened slightly.
“We need to go. Now. Guards may have been paid off.”
Caxia would then close the door, and undo the little lock-chain-thing holding it closed.
“444. 515. Awaken and put on your suits”
515 was the first to stumble out of their makeshift fort in the corner of the room, crudely constructed from broken bed parts and a mattress ripped into three pieces. Just the right size for the two Echoni to ball up inside.
The red one didn’t feel like standing up yet, stretching out on their wrists and knees with a rather loud ‘ryyyhhhaaaa~!’ sound. Lots of clicking joints.
Difficult to tell if they were intentionally taking ages to put their feet in the leg-holes of the jump suit, or if it was still mentally a bit difficult for them.
“...Doctor Caxia, I’m not qualified to do this. No training received.” A blank statement, sitting there with a bare chest and a mane of black hair standing up in all the wrong ways. “Echoni unit 515 formally submits a request for assistance.”
444 poked her head out from the fort to have a look around. “It is Dark. Dark is sleep time…” She verbalized, her thoughts broadcast for public consumption along with her conclusion, “I’m going to sleep.” It was only fair that she hadn’t really grasped the concept of doing stuff at night yet. The facility where they were created was lit artificially. Brightness was always a product of what activity was going on at the time. Her short trips outside also adhered to a fast schedule.
Caxia would check her messages, she’d already informed Dorris of the situation, and requested that she awaken. No doubt she would arrive as soon as her squishy-flesh-bits would allow. It frustrated Caxia that she could do so much better… another victim of the circumstances of their birth… though at least she had the good sense to install the appropriate communications hardware. While updating Dorris… Caxia had also updated Heram and the Edward Deming. No doubt that fleshy-elf-captain would be waking up. Heram should respond soon too, since he kept his datapad with him… it was all such a slow process.
~Dorris, what do you think about injecting a communications suite into the crew of this ship while they are asleep? Its been SECONDS since I’ve notified them of the situation and they have yet to respond properly.~
Caxia would also start rendering a design for an injectable transmitter device, something that could be injected, one that might fit in a pill… her body downloading research papers on technology that could be ‘breathed in’... there were so many options here.
Caxia’s body would move between 515 and the fort where 444 was still asleep. Two of her arms extended to grab the bodysuit, holding it in position as another arm grabbed the bodysuit’s leg, extending it outwards as yet another one of her arms reached for 515, taking ahold of her foot and guiding it into place. The lights for the room would also be remotely toggled on as her ‘eyes’ looked over at the fort,
“COME OUT NOW,” Caxia said, using the firm, masculine, voice only to be met with a loud HISSSSS from inside the fort.
"NNgmaa.... What's going on this early?" Quarum asked as she opened her door. The woman was dressed in a large grey shirt and some green pajama pants. Her eyes were barely open, and her hair was a mess. She didn't have any of her electronics on her, and undoubtedly was missing the conversations going on in group chat. She hadn't even managed to get socks or shoes on as she looked around at the solider-types starting to fill the hallway.
"Did Heram kill someone and we have to flee the planet? If not I could go back to bed.... or, OH Midnight snack? Are you hungry Zenigata?" There was an increasing interest in her voice, Quarum starting to find a reason to be awake. "This is supposed to be where their empress lives too right? Their kitchen should be open all hours. I bet we can get cake!"
"Heram and the rest of Green-Squad is already at the Arena. Someone is fuzzing communications in that area so we have not been able to re-establish contact with them." Green-Screen said, sounding a bit startled. She had probably drawn the short straw for keeping track of things at night while the majority of the crew that was still on-board the ship was asleep. She had already raised the alarm there, waking up a very unhappy Somnya.
"I'm going to need a few more minutes," Green-Thumb added, "The Echoni are getting ready." She didn't provide much additional context, but the sound of hissing and shouting could be heard in the background of her transmission.
"We will be ready in 30 seconds." Caxia chimed in, her voice sounding like someone had fed it through a synthesizer, being mechanically monotone as the scientist did the best they could to ready the super-soldiers.
Enid had a room near everyone else, and now her communicator was beeping. Both the standard-issue datapad and the combination throat-mic and earpiece. Green-Screen was trying to reach her from the ship.
"Hey, we got a situation. I've already engaged the remote-start on the shuttle, its stored in the hanger on the other side of the Palace but you should be able to remote-fly it over to your position... the buildings are tightly packed together... your best bet for a landing might be putting it down in the main courtyard or in the streets just outside of the palace gates."
The sleek, blue and red shuttle had been left in its own hanger nearby, a simple arch of metal open on either side. Though unarmed, it had strong shields and was just about the fastest thing around in-atmosphere. The anti-gravity systems also allowed it to hover effortlessly, though they were fast running out of places to do so. The external cameras would show two of the Gartagen guards moving to watch the front entrance of the hanger, and a few more had already gathered in the courtyard.
Doris had finally arrived! She was far more useful than Green-Thumb who was standing around by the door so uselessly. Caxia would have told her to come inside, however her vocal-systems were already relaying commands to the red-skinned Echoni that refused to put on her outfit properly. A full five of Caxia's arms were now engaged in manipulating both the bodysuit and 515 in order to get her limbs properly inserted into the suit itself while the remaining three of her arms were tearing apart the Echoni-blanket-and-pillow-fort that had been constructed in order to expose 444 who was busy hiding under blankets.
"Can you please grab a hold of their equipment bag," Caxia transmitted directly to Dorris, using the projectors on her own body to display a red-dot on one of the bags near the door as the two super-weapons were wrangled.
When Green-Thumb saw Dorris approaching so quickly, she felt compelled to speak up, "Remember, we're here for diplomatic reasons. Please don't destroy anything." She remembered the last time they had worked together, undoubtedly Dorris would insist that some things needed to be destroyed. Or at least, it was inevitable things be destroyed. Green-Thumb decided to add a bit more to her request, "Or at least don't destroy anything too important..."
Outside / Fire Exit
The fire-exit was fairly standard... just a staircase that led outside. The door was designed to only open from the inside. There was a highly-visible security camera above the door as well as security guards patrolling the palace grounds. These ones clearly saw Ecur squad by the door though they didn't seem to react to them. It would be hard to tell exactly which guards had been bribed and which ones were just doing their job.
Near the exit itself was the ornate walls of the main palace, dotted with security checkpoints that controlled access to the city. Each was manned by a half-dozen soldiers in armor with full weapons... much more ready for a fight than the more decorative internal guards that seemed to vary between ceremonial-types with swords, and more subdued types that wore nicer clothing with a bit more ability to blend in.
"Yeah, those xenos aren't marching at us." Echo thumbs towards the lightly armed guards outside. He then points to the better armored soldiers further out, guarding the outer exit ways. "They though, are going to be a pain in the arse."
"Agreed." Nix nodded, then looks back at Geiben. "Seems that we're on an even shorter time table, sir." He messages silently through his HUD. "The xenos have things covered pretty well, no doubt the hangar is compromised as well. Enid's going to have a rough time getting us out of here."
"What's your recommended course of action, Seargant?" Having no ground-combat experience, the commander asks Nix. The temporary drive to kick Gartagen ass has now been once again tempered by reality.
"We do have our rifles with us, and the issued armor can take a few hits." Nix replies, tapping his suitcase. "There's too many of them though. I recommend the Echoni."
Geiben shakes his head. "And risk salting the wound even further? We're already having to fight the Gartagens. They're going to have more munition if we throw bioweapons on them outside of the duels."
The soldier frowns. "Sir, with all due respect, they had us on house arrest for a week. Foreign guests. On house arrest. Granted, I don't give a caressing crat about diplomacy, but it looks like we're beyond playing nice and fair. We might even spare casualties if they just give up after the Echoni throw a couple of them around."
The commander pauses, then nods reluctantly. "Note taken." He pings both Ecur squad and Enid. "Nix and Boomer, you are to cover our pilot. Snow and Echo, you're with me."
"Separating the two lovebirds, I see." Echo smirks amidst the rise in temperature in the room.
Geiben ignores the comment and then pings the Edward Deming with the hardest encryption settings. "Captain, permission to deploy the Echoni in the field?"
'This wall. It's definitely the same color as that ER green-blue.' befitting how sick she felt, Enid, in her pajamas, cuddled a pillow to her face as she stared blankly at the wall, her window view bored her already. Locked in the same building for 7 whole days had driven her mad and back again. First she was berated for not having the paperwork for the flight submitted before take off, theb she left her favorite jacket in the shuttle, now she can't even access any network with how restricted the Gartagens have been. All she has had is the same 100 or so songs she had downloaded already, mostly ones she got stuck in her head a lot and MechCall soundtracks. She was trying to locate some proof of birth for herself but with such a sensitive mission Geiben and everyone onboard the Edward Demming couldn't find the time to deal with it. Her current pair sat against the wall next to the bed, oil helped dampen the noise but they still hitched a lot. As she picked up her PD to check the time she is alarmed by the beeping, finally work to be done. "Green-Screen you beautiful thing you have no Idea how bored I've been." Enid says with the biggest hint of sincerity. Donning her prosthetics she excitedly lines up a course to fly by her room's window in the autopilot, simulation tests it and activates it. Tossing the one bag she has been living out of onto the floor of the cockpit she slides into her seat and recovers her jacket. "Geiben, Ecur, I'm on my way to the courtyard. I might be able to get to you if it gets tight. The alleys are narrow but the shuttle just, and I mean just fits." She moves low and inbetween the structures. Her mind has jumped into a frenzy of activity, so much so she has forgotten she is still wearing short shorts and no bra under her shirt. She was just lazing about though who could fault her?
~Isn’t that a little overcomplicated?~ Doris responded in Caxia’s brain buffer, whilst unit 515 was also busy shooting their default death glare up at the large metallic figure. ~Not only would you need to train people to turn it on and off, it would also be a lot easier to hack… No, it’s only those who seek out ascention for themselves that are truly worth such technology.~
Typical thinking for somebody who taught themselves about cybernetics in a straight-up cult, really… but it wasn’t a view that Caxia shared in its entirety, even if it did give them pause.
“... they do not understand how limited they are. If I fixed their brains, some may gain enough enlightenment to seek the path properly.” Caxia stated this information. She stated it in much the same way a human with fleshy-bits would state something if they were offended. How could Doris not understand the need to improve these creatures around them? How could someone disagree with such a plan? Sure it was morally wrong, but how could those morals be right if they allowed such ineptitude to persist?! “Perhaps you are right, but that doesn’t mean I like it.”
“The application is completed!” 515 remarked merrily, as if Caxia wouldn’t know, twiddling their freshly applied boots in the air.
After that, they got back up, and pranced back over to the edge of the fort, unceremoniously jamming their head back inside.
“Four Four Four, logic states that she wants us to put clothes on so we can leave the room.” The red one’s voice was kind of subtly growly and… Maybe motivated? “If we leave the room, there is also a chance they want us to smash stuff… We are Echoni units and we smash stuff. They created us and brought us here to smash stuff.”
444’s eyes went wide as this new information was presented to her. The time for smashing was upon them. It had been so long WITHOUT smashing that this certainly had to be THE SMASHING TIME. Her eyes then squinted a bit when she realized she’d have to put on the suit. They got wider again when she realized that once the suit was on the smashing would begin. They said it was the tactical suit and it was for wearing when smashing. This had to be smashing time right?! It only made sense to confirm this.
“So it is time to smash things right?!” 444 asked 515, poking her head off to the side to look at Caxia, “We’re going to go smash things right?!”
444 was finally grabbed by the mess of arms tearing the fort apart, Caxia bracing against the floor as 444 was hoisted into the air so that she could be stuffed into the SEER-Tactical-Suit.
“Don’t worry big miss, that was just a problem of causality… Or the lack thereof.” The blonde woman made one of those off putting smiles as they approached, petting Green-Thumb warmly on the bicep as they opened the door for themselves. “Here and now, Doctor Doris Muller considers the undue destruction of property a failure in the mission of not pissing the loopy tentacle-head alien people off!”
It would take Green-Thumb a moment to figure out exactly what was going on. Undoubtedly Dorris and Caxia had their own private conversation going on. Introducing Dorris into the situation with Caxia and the Echoni all seemed like a disaster waiting to happen… but Green-Thumb consoled herself with knowing that she just needed to keep things together until they reached the Colosseum. At that point the disaster could be the Gartagen’s problem.
Upon moving through the doorway, Dorris discreetly picked up the targeted bag, and then made a small bow towards Caxia. It was always going to be hard to tell what sort of formalities the box-scientist appreciated, but Doris probably considered it best to play it safe considering they were not actually a part of SEER.
Took a minute regarding a datapad in their free hand, reminding themselves about the exact data of the Echoni in question. Double-checking neither of them had those crazy trans-dimensional psychic powers they had heard about in a few secret forum whispers.
“Hello there my little darlings!” Their cheer continued, taking up a pretty patronising tone. “Would you like to go on a little mission today?”
515 bolted upright and just stared at them, trying to gauge what this antler-bearing pale lady counted as.
444 meanwhile was held aloft, clawing and scratching as the tactical-suit was applied by Caxia.
“...Bag-person.” The oni concluded out loud, reminded of Dr.Murphy’s cybernetics and glasses. “...444, they are a bag person...”
“I’m more like your mommy is what I am.” Doris coiled her arms and tilted her head as if swooning, but knew well enough to keep a few paces between them. “Humans learned how to make metal-parts on themselves, which let them learn how to make you! Do you understand, my precious girl?”
“No.” The oni responded, with a tone that suggested they were intentionally not going to try.
“How about you?” Didn’t phase Doris. They kind of expected it. “My lime haired cutie? You wanna go outside?”
444 was being held upside down at this point, the tactical suit closing in around her body and neck, “You’re my mom?” 444 asked, This was certainly puzzling new information. How much like her mom was Doris? Was Doris a copy of her mom? Were there more moms?! Did she have a mom in the first place? This was all filed away for later as 444 was unceremoniously dropped on the floor. Her body now clad in the black and grey tactical suit that had just been applied to 515. The Echoni quickly running back to the fort and grabbing a blanket which she cut a small-head-hole in the top of as Caxia made their way towards the door.
“It is time for us to leave, keep pace with me.” Caxia started outloud.
This left 444 to hurry past Doris, putting the blanket over her body like a Poncho though walking in such a way as to keep facing Doris while moving towards the door, “I’m a cutie?” She asked, “You can take us outside? I was told we could smash things and there hasn’t been any smashing since we got here!” 444 reached the doorframe, and came back just enough to grab 515’s hand, practically dragging her along too, “...Does this mean we’re just fancy bags that the bag people made?”
The week that Kala had been stuck waiting in the rooms of the imperial palace wasn’t all that bad. It was quiet. No one was getting shot. Food was provided. Her room had a rather nice balcony that their security team had asked her not to use for some nebulous ‘security reasons’. Her bathroom had a rather opulent shower filled with various harsh soaps and scrubs that the Gartagens had thought were suitable for ‘humans’. These rather abrasive soaps were soft for gartagens, though for a human they could be a little harsh. There was plenty of living space in the form of a rather open living area, kitchen, and sitting area filled with throw pillows and a short table.
There was also a rather large bed, one that Kala was trying to use at the time, as noise from the outside started to bleed into her room. There were people running around outside, someone speaking loudly, her own communicator occasionally beeping as messages were passed around in general chat.
No one had summoned her yet, but it was clear much was going on.
It was (un)fortunate that all her years of practicing medicine had made her a miserably light sleeper- although that didn't mean waking up this way made her any less irritable, it only meant she spent a lot less time being groggy.
Once she was situated she picked up and squinted her eyes at the screen of her communicator.
Normally she would have ignored a couple of messages- but with all the activity that was going on coupled with their current location, she decided it would likely be a bad idea to ignore the messages. The noises outside her room were starting to become concerning as well. All of it was enough to force herself out of bed and into her duty uniform
Once in uniform, she would be able to view the messages coming in from the ship. A group of Gartagens would be there soon to delay them so they couldn’t reach the Colosseum. This would inevitably be bad for Heram’s bid for Vishta’s hand… but the specifics of it seemed less important than the message coming in from Green-Screen onboard the ship itself,
“Kala, are you awake now? We haven’t had time to get everyone up. Ecur squad and Geiben are already heading out the fire-escape and the Echoni should be joining them soon. Any chance you’ll be ready to join them in the next few seconds?! We’re just about out of time.”
Sure enough, there were loud stomping sounds outside. Caxia’s mechanical body was unmistakable on this floor, their three heavy legs stomping down the corridor followed by the rather ‘unprofessional’ sounds of what had to be the two Echoni, their movements lacking any kind of real rythm as if two people were just constantly falling down while moving towards the fire exit… this was followed by yet another pair of stompy feet.
Inside the Palace
The sounds of Gartagen security guards could be heard approaching from down the hallway. Quarum and Zenigata seemed to be happy just standing there, while Green-Thumb turned towards the sound. She would head towards the small entry-way into the living area they had been provided.
“No one break anything, don’t escalate this to shooting.” She said over the all-hands channel as she turned into the problem at hand. The rather firm sounds of a Gartagen security guard asking her to return to her room could easily be heard down the hallway.
The shuttle nearly soundlessly zipp’d past, the oblong shape easily cutting through the air, complex forcefields around the hull of the shuttle helping to break apart and reform the air-currents to make the shuttle’s passage as quiet as a whisper. The shuttle certainly had enough space to set down in the courtyard, the landing prongs extending to allow it to come to rest on the rather nice stone decoration that made up this side of the courtyard. The large, circular, area extended outforward for quite some distance, providing ample space for other shuttles, security guards, even a few Gartagen mecha that provided security. The larger humanoid mecha seemed to notice the shuttle’s arrival, though aside from some slight motion they didn’t bother to approach and the small weapon-turrets ontop didn’t turn to take aim at Enid.
There was, however, A Gartagen fairly close by who would immediately get on his communicator as the shuttle approached. Whoever was looking to delay their arrival would soon know where Enid and the Shuttle had arrived.
At the very least, it was a straight-shot from the small alleyway where Ecur squad was to the courtyard where Enid had landed the shuttle.
“Hey! It’s boring just watching from space too! I’ve played through the latest Lots Of Shooty for the 6th time… you guys get to at least stretch your legs a little.” Green-Screen froze up after saying that. Was that offensive? Should she have commented about legs to someone who doesn't have real legs? Was she ableist for just considering these things?!
Oh well…. Too late now.
“We’re getting some calls from Gartagen Traffic control. I’ll smooth things out with them. You should be clear to head right to the coliseum without interruption….ugh… I was just about ready to go off shift and nap too!.. One sec.”
Green-Screen would flip over to the channel to talk to Ecur squad,
“Hey! Somnya isn’t in the CIC yet. She’s gonna be a little while and I can’t get Heram on right now either so uh… Green-Thumb is in charge of that I guess? Or is it Geiben? I’m totally not the person to ask about that kinda thing. But don’t shoot them! Somnya and Heram were very clear about that! I uh.. I also can’t drop anything from orbit. Well, I can but I have to clear it with Gartagen Traffic Control first and that’s a whole process.”
“Of course they haven’t.” Geiben growls low. “Shooting first is all it takes to become the villain.”
“So what, we saunter out there and hope they don’t?”
“A good question, sergeant, one that I wish I had the answer to.” The commander bites his lips. Any movement on their part can be waved off as aggression, a reason for pre-emptive self defense. They could just go out there unarmed, but that’d be awfully idiotic. Or would it? How violent are the Gartagens, actually?
Geiben’s heart skips a beat. He puts his pistol away on his belt. Nix raises an eyebrow. “Sir?”
“I’m going to try and talk to them. Maybe they’ll listen to reason.”
“With all due respect, sir, you’re being a caressing idiot right now.” Nix doesn’t get to speak before Echo pipes up.
“We don’t have much of a choice. If the Gartagens shoot first, it’s war. If we shoot first, it’s war. If Heram Wazu dies by ceremonial combat, well, we can’t let that happen either, can we?”
“I don’t know, the man’s a pompous asshole based on what I saw.” Boomer shrugs and Echo nods in agreement.
The commander frowns and ignores the two soldiers. “Lieutenant Green Thumb, if I become compromised, you are to take command of Ecur Squad and see to Mr. Wazu’s eventual safety, understood?”
“Bullshit! You can’t do that to us!”
“Shut the crass up and follow your damn orders, soldier!” Nix growls at his squad mates.
It would be Green-Screen that spoke up over the comms, “Green-Thumb has her hands full right now dealing with the Gartagens inside of the Palace… Can’t imagine she’ll delay them more than a minute or two like that!”
Geiben only nods, adjusting his uniform. In response, the rest of Ecur squad ready their weapons nervously behind the fire exit, adjusting their grip periodically as the commander steps through the door. Walking forward along the patterned pavement, the commander’s steps are stiff and quite apparently methodical. He gulps, before bringing up one hand, with the other next to his wait, clearly visible. In broken Gartagen dialect, he speaks up. “We… seek passage. … To send the true champion… to the arena.”
Geiben would end up near two of the guards patrolling the palace grounds, the two which were the most ‘between’ everyone and the shuttle that Enid had brought to a landing. The first Gartagen looking at his companion for a moment before elbowing him in the side.
“OH He doesn’t speak ape.” The Gartagen said, pointing to his CO. The soldier looking at Geiben, and then responding in kind, “HE… NO….SPEAK….APE….” He repeated, slowly, giving ample time for Geiben to understand. The old looking ape looked like he was high or something, talking all slow like, just all… randomly running up to people. The two Gartagens certainly had a conversation amongst themselves about this, while at the same time Green-Thumb was doing her best to delay the far more aggressive guards still inside the palace. He also had no real idea of what Geiben meant… it was probably some weird Ape thing, “YOU GO… MANY LUCK... “
The commander raises an eyebrow, trying to piece together what the two soldiers are talking about. Then, slowly, with uncertainty, he nods, replying again in whatever Gartagen vocabulary he can muster. “Thank… you.” He then messages Ecur squad and Green Thumb. “We seem to have been granted passage to the shuttle. Get the Echoni on board before the Gartagens change their minds.” As he does so, Geiben himself makes his way towards the shuttle.
Perhaps that was why these two early models were chosen?...
"We are going outside now, my lime haired darling!" The doctor broke away from the visual example to smile warmly back at 444. "But trust us, these robots are way bigger and worse than those security robots back at your house. They'll squish you like nothing... So don't do anything just yet, please. Do as your boss, Miss Caxia says."
Nearly to the exit now. Just one more corridor.
"...And... Well, what you are wearing now is kind of like a bag, isn't it?" Another patient smile. "There is no such thing as a 'bag person'... We are all just people. We just made you *better* people, understand?... You girls aren't like monsters or robots... You got your souls from us... You're still humans..."
"No." 515 again responded bluntly, pulling 444 slightly closer, almost as if putting physical distance between them and the idea. "This is not a bag... It is very tight. It's going in my belly button... We are not bag people."
Doris's eyes seemed to loose some of their sharpness over this answer. They felt a little sorry for the thing.
Not much else left their lips whilst opening the fire exit door. The four of them were whipped by flying dust and cold air. The air-ionizing smell of a dozen gravatic and magnetic devices energising in their vehicle hulls. Surprisingly quiet, but brooding with a violent potential energy.
The scientist typed something idly on their pad, and the holographic rings around each Echoni's wrist buzzed and flashed for a split second. Some kind of letters, but weird, totally new and unreadable ones.
Caxia could decode it though their monitoring signal, of course.
It was a dead man's switch. If both of the scientists died, the material transition system would activate on it's own.
Yet another smile. But this one was directly towards the machine-doctor, and was the most sharp and vulpine expression humanly possible.
"Echoni units. We are going for a wee ride now! Please get on the shuttle with the other nice humans!"
Some of these felt familiar.
These bag-people had the weapons too. 444 was familiar with them as well, even without one of her own she could smash those bag people. She could smash those noodle-hair-things too, they were short and probably extra-smashable. They wore metal like on the robots, which meant they were really worried about being smashed. There were the big robots too. The thought of smashing those provided a great deal of excitement to 444.
But there were other things to consider too.
The noodle-headed ones didn't seem to like the bag people. Perhaps they could be used to get rid of Caxia? It would be difficult to figure out... she knew her arm was spying on her. She couldn't trust it. There were so many things going on in her head that it was difficult to nail down any one particular line of thought. The Echoni finally was able to confirm for the group that, "I'm not a bag-person." Her arms holding onto 515 as they entered the shuttle, her eyes locked on the horned scientist, "And the big robots can't smash me. I'll smash them first!"
The shuttle was a tight fit, it was meant for only a few people to travel comfortably, but it currently contained Geiben, Ecur squad, the Echoni, the medic Kala, Dorris and Caxia with Enid up front in the cockpit.
Luckily they would not have to go far
Approaching the Coliseum,
Their destination was only a short journey from the palace by shuttle. Its sleek shape and powerful engines allowed it to quickly hit high mach, while complex force-field systems redirected the shock-waves of the shuttle's passing so it could move over the city silently.
The Coliseum itself was a large dome, sprawling parking lots surrounded it, filled with tent-towns and other shanty-constructions. The dome looked to be made from a single piece of metal, with some small service areas around the sides that held air-conditioning and ventilation. There was a single loading area on the back side of the structure, though it looked like that door had been sealed off completely.
This left only a single main-entry way with an open door. Nearby were several landed shuttles, two Gartagen walkers designed for lifting heavy cargo, and an assortment of what looked to be local police armed with batons.
"Get the Echoni in there." Somnya said over the group's radio, the Captain of the Edward Deming was finally awake and had reached the CIC. "Fight your way in if you have to, but don't escalate to guns. Roughing up a few Gartagens can be swept under the rug. A shootout can't be."
“No kidding.” Boomer spares no subtlety and lets out a small hiss in protest, baring his teeth before he goes silent as the shuttle gently bobs beneath him. The soldier eyes Snow and Nix, bringing his glasses down to search for consensus. He found it, with Snow and Nix maintaining poker faces, hiding their expressions behind the sunglasses, and with no message to tell him to shut up. They’ve all been through hell fighting lab experiments, becoming lab experiments on a tin can floating in the void. Having to sit besides the Echoni, the same type of creature that have been the bane of their lives, it wasn’t a great feeling, to say the least. Boomer gives a quick glare at the Echoni, before shoving his glasses back up.
Meanwhile, as Geiben enters the cockpit, he sits besides Enid, taking out his datapad to pull up a holo-map of the colosseum. “We’ve identified only one available entrance, but there’s quite a few heat signatures down there; could get hot. Plenty of armed guards, what seems to be two mechs, and a few landed shuttles. No idea how many more guards they’re holding.” He messages his nose bridge, then rotates the figure. “There’s this back entrance that our drones picked up, but it’s sealed shut. Either way, it’s going to be trouble. You know more about this shuttle than I do. What is it capable of?”
"The Gleasman? No real weapons, but some damn fancy shields. Smoothest ride I've ever flown, sir," Enid spoke with a vague confidence. Shifting in her seat she pulled an LP2966/C from just under the seat. "I however am always equipped," She turns and poses with the pistol. "But yeah, the ship has nothing in the line of weapons other than ramming it into the mechs maybe. Those damn glorious mechs." Enid has a sarcastic tone in an attempt to play with Geiben but it was obvious she had a legitimate appreciation for them.
Nix decided to change the topic to break the tension in the crew hold, announcing out loud. “We got our orders from the captain. No firearms.” Snow nods, taking out a metal baton out of her suitcase, mag-locking it to her right forearm. She then grabs a riot shield and sets it leaning on her knees. “What of stun bolts? Surely we can use those?”
"Woah! We weren't using stun already? Jeez" Enid speaks wide eyed to the cabin.
Geiben shrugs his shoulders. “Captain’s orders. She and the higher-ups don’t want a shoot out to happen. I’m going to make an executive order though: as soon as you see the Garts drawing their own firearms, you’re free to shoot first.” He pauses, then amends his statement. “With stun. Make sure you have your body cams on in case they start bullcrap once this is all over.” He then gently pushes on Enid’s pistol to lower it. “How close can you get us to the entrance?”
"Okay... I can put us through the entrance if I push the shields, maybe. But I don't have a body cam Gabe, I have booty shorts and no bra." Enid looks at her attire and back to Geiben.
All of Ecur squad go silent, leaning forward to look at the pilot. The commander himself freezes, raising an eyebrow at her. Alas, he opens his mouth. “Uhmm… that won’t be necessary. I mean the body cam; you’re staying on the shuttle.” Geiben brings his hand to his beard, then speaks up again. “No, we aren’t barging in there. Besides the structural damage, we could unintentionally cause casualties with this stunt. Just get us as close to the entrance as possible.”
Enid seemed visibly upset about being left behind on another mission, her disgruntled attitude extending into her tone. "I can sit us down in that loading bay, you'll be inside with no damage to the structure."
“I meant the colosseum and everyone inside it.” Geiben’s tone grows firm in response. “And if you an issue with your assignment, Enid, know that you’re our gateway out of here. I’m not putting a pilot on a ground game.”
Enid changed her posture to impose a challenging energy onto Geiben. "You don't know what I can do. Deploy me a drone if I gotta sit in here, but let me help dammit!" She had had enough of all the sitting and waiting that this trip had lead to.
“Oh boy…” Boomer mutters as he and Echo snicker under their breaths. Nix and Snow lean back, removing their eye contact from Geiben and Enid. Oh forefathers--- Geiben squeezes on Enid’s seat, his face torquing in frustration. “I don’t, but I do know you do piloting best and that’s what you’re here for. My orders aside, I need you to remain vigilant at all times if we need evac. If you want to bullcrap, do it after we get out of this unscathed.” He checks his datapad, monitoring the shuttle’s approach on the colosseum, then turns to the crew hold. “Get ready for drop.”
Ecur squad nods, standing up, grabbing onto the ceiling handles.
Enid turns back to the controls making a mixture of expressions, on the one hand she wants to go with Geiben, on the other she seeks his approval. However she promised herself to follow orders more directly, putting that in her head she takes hold of the joystick and places her foot on the pedals. Her line of descent is close to a skewed J shaped as she flies the shuttle past the loader mechs and other crafts, putting the side door of the shuttle towards a door in the loading bay. While she moves with a slow caution it far to obvious that the Alliance shuttle is not on the landing schedule.
Geiben walks into the crew hold as his pilot lands the shuttle and opens the doors, nodding to Ecur squad, throwing a heavy jacket over himself and switching his commander cap for a helmet. “Alright team, time to show the Garts your training.”
“Yes sir!” Ecur squad stomp their feet once, then stand up, grabbing their shields and jumping off the shuttle, moving into a diamond formation around Geiben as he tries to open comms to both Somnya and Mr. Wazu. “This is Geiben. Ecur squad and Echoni are in position to enter the colosseum.” He gestures to Ecur squad to march forward, then glances at the Echoni. “Alright. 444 and 515, is it? Clear a path… non-lethally.”
444 would have to wait.
Waiting was something she didn't like.
It was just as uncomfortable as this SEER tactical-suit that was shrink-wrapped to her body.
While this was going on, the bright-red shuttle cut right past the crowd that had assembled outside of the Colosseum in order to stop them. The narrow profile of the shuttle also slid right past the guards at the entryway, right through the access hallway, and right into the loading area near the center of the Colosseum itself.
The crowd outside was now stuck trying to get through the guards at the front gate which did not seem interested in just letting them past. While it seemed a number of Garts were looking to delay them, there were still plenty of others that were just doing their jobs or may even be actively helping them.
This left just a short path between the shuttle and the main floor of the Colosseum itself. The shuttle was too large to turn and fly through it thanks to the shuttle's long profile and the rather short amount of space for turning in the loading area. While there were a few workers here that were understandably upset that someone had just landed a shuttle where they were working. These workers didn't seem interested in fighting the passengers of the shuttle as they disembarked, but that wasn't the case for the two Gartagens standing in that final pathway.
"GET BACK IN THAT SHUTTLE AND LEAVE!"
The two Garts in their way towered over the shorter workers. Each was about 6 feet tall and BULKY. It looked like they had been guzzling muscle-enhancements since birth and spent most of their time in a gym. Their bodies clad in an odd black bodysuit with silver sparkles, their face covered by green and black masks with ornate silver patterning on them. They were standing shoulder to shoulder, ready to block anyone trying to enter into the main floor of the Colosseum. This had to be the last line of defense their opponents had, as there goal was just up that ramp.
"WE WON'T LET A NON-GARTAGEN TRY TO TAKE THE THRONE!" The other Lucha-gart shouted, fully committed to bombastic, over-the-top shouting even when it wasn't appropriate, "YOU'LL NEVER GET PAST US, THE CREAM OF THE CROP, THE GREATEST OF WARRIORS, HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONS OF THE GARTAGEN WRESTLING UNION!"
444 looked downright excited, gripping 515 tightly, eyes wide as she looked at the Gartagen Wrestlers, then at Caxia as the refrigerator-looking scientist disembarked.
Caxia examined the situation, these Gartagens were probably a minor problem, but it seemed their escorts wanted the Echoni to handle the situation. Of course, there was responsibility for delivering at least one of the Echoni completely intact to Heram Wazu for this fight. Luckily she had two Echoni, just in case a spare was required. "Very well. 444, please smash these two."
Before Caxia could say anything about 515 remaining behind, 444 had already grabbed the other Echoni by the arm as she jumped ontop of the shuttle, dragging the Red Echoni along behind her. "GET WRECKED!" she shouted, the communication device implanted into her arm automatically opening up a channel to Enid as it detected her intention to talk to the shuttle pilot. The Echoni requesting a battle plan that made sense to someone who's seen certain cartoons...
By the time the Lucha-Garts figured out what was going on, they only really had time to brace for impact. 444 had timed her jump along with Enid’s shuttle fling to send her body towards the Gartagens like a missile, her arms already reaching out with an unrestrained enthusiasm for smashing something in the face.
444 Impacted one of the Lucha-Garts hard. The sounds of bones breaking were unmistakable, followed by the heavy, wet, ‘THUCK’ of bodies slamming down into the concrete hallway. 444 herself ended up splattered along the floor, though it was hard to tell exactly who’s blood had been splattered about, her arms were certainly bending in more places than they should, and her body was sprawled out on the floor after skidding to a stop, her hand having torn off the Lucha-Gart’s mask as she crashed through him.
The Lucha-Gart that had been hit was now on the floor, face down, having been pushed along the floor quite a good distance thanks to the sheer inertia of the hit. He didn’t seem to be moving either.
The OTHER Lucha-Gart just looked shocked, his gaze moving from his partner, to 444, then back over to the shuttle. He ended up shouting at them in what could most easily be translated as: “What the fuck?!”
“Was zu Hölle (What the hell)?!”, Geiben growls under his own breath as he staggers upwards, recovering from his own head almost planting into Enid’s. He quickly rushes down out of the cockpit and joins Ecur squad on the ground and starts barking orders. “Snow, get on making sure the Gart’s not dead. Dr. Caxia, see to 444’s well being.” The commander then points to the dumb-founded Lucha-Gart. “Nix, Boomer, take him out. NON-LETHALLY.”
“Roger that.” Snow taps her HUD to pull up any relevant information on Gartagen physiology as she moves to the downed Gartagen, getting besides them to check their pulse and breathing. Next to her, Nix surges forward, glancing at Boomer, making a few hand gestures to plan their attack. Within a few seconds, they come upon the Gartagen. Nix holds his riot shield forward, charging into the Gartagen with his entire body weight, then brings his baton down low to strike at their knees. Boomer ducks under the Gartagen’s arms, getting behind them, raises his baton, furiously bringing it down on their shoulders to incapacitate the Gartagen’s working upper limbs.
Meanwhile, Geiben brings his right arm in front of 515, looking up at the Echoni. “You are
Scattering to reset her controls Enid afterwords stands to look back into the cabin. "Geiben do I really have to sit here? Please, I'm super bored." Enid called back to her commander with a grimace, and a feeling of butterflies in her stomach. Her posture was pulled close to her own self.
Geiben scans the stadium, coldly remarking back at the pilot without looking at her. “You just turned one of our win conditions into a bloody, mangled mess. Boredom is that last thing I’d be feeling right now.” It wasn’t her fault entirely. He was the one who ordered the deployment of the Echoni, after all. … This is going to be one hell of a report to write. That is, if any of us don’t get court martialed for incompetence.
staying next to me.” Not going to lose another Echoni.
“This IS why I brought a spare,” Caxia stated calmly as she waited her turn to disembark, being sure to keep herself within arms-reach of 515.
515 themselves seemed to just menacingly gaze back at each of them in turn, ironically not quite as hot-blooded as their comrade despite the deep red colour scheme of their skin. “That was the mission, was it not? Smashing on specific command?” Their tone was bare-bones, matter-of-fact. Still, just a hint of concern did seem to pass their expression, attempting to look around the larger male human-person in order to ascertain what damage 444 had ended up with. “I’m an Echoni. I’m doing what I am told.”
Never mind that the green-haired one had kind of made a habit of making that sentence pretty darn untrue…
“...Mind if I get some cover, to go out there and check on our humanoid projectile?” Another voice, the more human blonde-haired doctor that had accompanied Caxia. That ‘Doris’ person. “The damage may not be as bad as it looks. These things were designed to self-repair pretty fast… And, I mean, that’s why you brought us too?”
“... Yes, please do.” Geiben snaps out of his introspection as he looks at the Doctor. “Dr. Doris, is it? Echo, see to her safety. You’re clear to go check on 444.” He points to the Echoni’s bloodied body. Echo, the soldier, winks at the blonde as he lightly knocks his riot shield with his baton. “Let’s be on our way, ma’am.”
The remaining Lucha-gart was still a bit shell-shocked from watching his partner get smashed into the ground by the fleshy-missile, but years of cage and ladder matches had honed his ability to deal with opponents armed with large, mostly flat, objects. As Nix approached, the Gartagen took a step back, his hands grabbing either-side of the Riot shield and yanking the whole thing forward in one smooth motion. The Luchador put all of his weight, all of the twisting of his upper body, and all of his momentum into it, pulling the shield along with Nix right past him and flinging them both further down the hallway towards the main floor of the coliseum.
Boomer was easily able to bring his baton down on the Gartagen’s shoulders with a heavy ‘THUNK’ but it was hard to tell exactly how much damage that did. The rather large gart returning the favor with a heavy right-hook.
Meanwhile his partner was bleeding all over the floor. The impact of 444 had certainly broken bones in the creature’s chest. There was also a deep gash on the back of their head where they hit the ground, as well as further cuts on their chest and face where 444 had claw’d off the Luchagart’s mask on impact. Despite the thick layers of muscle that allowed him to survive the impact, he would need some medical treatment for the injuries to his chest if he was to survive. At the very least the gurgling from his mouth would need to be attended to, as the creature’s lungs weren’t working quite right at the moment.
Not too much further in was where 444 had landed. Dorris was easily able to get past the remaining Lucha-gart as it fought with Nix and Boomer. 444’s jaw had been damaged pretty badly, and the sensor-data from her suit showed numerous fractures and breaks along her arms… but all that had happened seconds ago. 444 coughed loudly, spitting up a large amount of blood as she flailed her arms about, the suit’s compression systems helping somewhat in her attempts to align her bones so they could heal correctly. 444 did recognize Dorris, and tried to communicate… ending up spraying a bit of blood out of her mouth with a, “PFfftttttffff…..” then a loud *POP* as she pushed her jaw back in using her shoulder. “FHASSsssMASHED EM!”
“Lie still! Lie still!” Doris motioned with both of their arms outwards. Even after all they had seen, it was still pretty startling to see somebody who looked so human crumpled into such a story state. “You’re body is all broken because of that! If you don’t lay straight, it’s going to have trouble healing right!”
Their augmented black-gloved hands fumbled with the cylindrical applicator for an anesthetic, then plugged it into a read-made socket on 444’s suit. Straightening out the limbs was a messy business, and she feared yanking them back into the right position was only going to worsen the pain; But the green-haired thing had a rapid healing ability, according to the file, which of course just made things more complicated… Mentally, Doris’ finger was on the trigger of that built-in Echoni body disabling mechanism, already picturing in her head how much worse things could get…
“Nearly there, Geiben…” A quick snap back over the radio. The renewed brawl happening just a few feet away was not helping the woman’s nerves. “Should be able to move them back to the shuttle soon…”
As Caxia and 515 observed from a distance, the multi-limbed-cyborg-doctor would take steps to clarify the nature of the mission, “You are to smash only what I tell you to smash. This means you are not to smash yourself unless told to. Please be sure 444 understands this for next time,” Caxia said, using their stern, more masculine voice to convey this information.
The red oni only stared back at this statement broodingly. They were probably a little annoyed that they couldn’t go out and help their sister in person. Though the other crew on the shuttle got the distinct taste that 515 was not massively fond of Caxia in general.
*THUD.* Boomer gets thrown to the side of the entrance way with the right hook, fortunately deflecting the blow from his body with his shield. He exchanges eye contact with Nix who charges up behind the Gartagen undeterred. Steadying himself, he readies his shield, now only loosely holding onto it, then runs forward at the goliath, repeating the same maneuver as Nix did earlier: attempt a shield bash, then swooping down to go for the knees with his baton. The sergeant, meanwhile, gets behind the Gartagen, plants his boots on the ground, shield raised, then goes for a sideways blow to the back of the skull.
As her teammates battled against the xeno twice their size, Snow pulls out an emergency respirator, securing it onto the downed Gartagen’s mouth. Punctured lung, most likely. Typical. “Hold still for me.” She pulls out metal zip ties and bring them around their wrists. For extra security, Snow injects the Gartagen with a full syringe’s worth of anesthetics to numb them. After wrapping their head with bandages to stop the bleeding, she takes a closer look at the chest wound. Alright, if the bones broke here… with a medical drill, Snow opens up a hole in the Gartagen’s chest, reaching its lungs, then quickly pushes in a chest tube with a syringe attached to it. That’ll have to do. She draws air from the syringe several times, then pushes the Gartagen’s upper body straight against a wall.
“We can’t wait for them to finish up, Dr. Caxia.” Geiben starts moving forward. “Echo, whenever Dr. Doris is done with 414, join us.” “Copy that, Sir.” He responds as the commander walks past them. The soldier glances at the synth. Eww. Echo steps side to side, before alas asking Dorris reluctantly. “Do you need help bringing her back into the shuttle?”
“I’m sorry, but is there a stretcher in there?” Doris gave the man a discouraged look, then stood up to their full height in order to make sure the crowd of Gartagen workers from before were still keeping their distance. It didn’t really matter how justified they were, or how cleanly they did this. The entire team were outsiders here. “Unit 444 should heal soon, but I might have to immobilize them before then… Mister Echo, was it?... One of the seats, or a long floor panel might suffice…”
“I’ll have to ask our pilot.” Echo opens his comms up to Enid. “Oi, rookie, do we have a stretcher on board?”
'Oh my god,' Enid really couldn't believe her own actions. She had some vague idea that Echoni were indestructible. "Uhhm," she left a long pause as her thoughts spun in her head ", check the overhead medical station. Some military shuttles are equipped with them. I kinda doubt it thought since you really couldn't fit one in the doorway." Enid left another long silence as her anxious thoughts crept over her to seed unmet depths of guilt.
“Got it.” The soldier turns back to the doctor, making sure his gloves are fully secured, maglocking his riot shield to his back. “Here’s what’s going to happen, ma’am. I’m going to start dragging this syn--- I mean 444, back to the shuttle. You go check if there’s a stretcher or something we can use on board.” He then leans down and takes the Echoni from under their armpits.
444 spit a fine mist of blood at the soldier trying to secure her. She had been told to smash the LuchaGarts and she wasn’t going to leave until she smashed some garts! Slight blood loss, broken limbs, and a bit of a concussion weren’t going to slow her down much longer. As the soldier hoisted her up she was able to get purchase on the ground using her legs, quickly pushing off and sending herself right towards the Lucha-Gart with unrestrained glee.
The Lucha-Gart himself wasn’t about to get himself caught between Nix and Boomer, pivoting so his back was towards the wall, arms raised to better defend himself against the oncoming attacks, able to block the blow to his head with his arms, as well as better-manage the impact of the shield bashes. The hit to the leg would drop him down to one knee, and before he could respond, the Green-Hair’d Echoni would leap over the two humans, smashing her already bloody face into the Gart’s forehead, her arms kinda flopping about as she tried to grab on, tearing at the Gart’s Luchador mask with her teeth.
From her raised position, Dorris could easily see that the other Gartagens in the loading area wanted nothing to do with what was going on here.
By this point, 515 was staring at the commotion with an unmatched intensity, clearly not comfortable with missing out on the fight any longer. Doris gave them a wary look from their position half way back to the shuttle, before looking backwards, only to find that 444 had gotten away from Echo already in the meantime.
A shrug. Thundering forward at a surprising pace, Doris cracked several of the concrete slabs with their metal stride. Their antler-like antennae twitched as a new signal was sent out, a bodily shut-down transmission that made its way to the control collar on 444’s suit, sending her flopping down onto the ground and giving off angry shouts of, “LET ME SMASH ‘EM!”
Next, a small quad-barrelled multilaser popped out from a compartment on the not-quite-human scientist’s, aiming directly at the massive Gartagen’s face with intent to stall.
“Obese green fucker. Halt your shenanigans.” They were a civilian that had no authority, perhaps, but that also meant that the alliance couldn’t technically be blamed for their personal use of excessive force, if the situation really went any more south… “Mister Echo… It doesn’t look like there is anything wrong with her spine… Maybe forget the stretcher?…”
…Then again, it wasn’t like he had any reason to listen to her orders, either…
Echo merely shrugs, following the doctor over to the Gartagens, even less fazed by her sudden show of force. At both 444 and Dorris' presence, Boomer and Nix cease their assault on the Gartagens, but still keep their shields raised and their batons winded back, ready to strike.
Geiben's face twists into one of disapproval at Dorris. "Stand down, doctor." He simply orders, before coming a few feet in front of the Gartagen. "This is your last chance to yield." He States in broken Gartagen vocabulary. The commander points to the immobilized 444 on the ground. "We will take our passage now, and if you resist, we will have to employ… extraordinary force." Snow walks over from the downed Gartagen, having secured them to the wall. Now the entirety of Ecur squad surrounds this last one, with a menacing neutrality on their face.
The Gartagen seemed quite subdued for the moment, covering his face with his hands as 444 lay on the floor nearby, spitting out the pieces of mask she had pulled off with her teeth.
The path into the Colosseum was now open.
Doris reluctantly moved back from the small group as Geiben ordered, and started back towards the shuttle… Only to find the intact red-horned backup weapon staring them into the ground with those piercing green eyes. It took a quick scan with her echoni brain diagnostic tool to get a confirmation on the constantly scowling creature’s emotional status… But yeah, that was unbridled rage alright. Probably because Doris disabled 444’s body…
This could be very bad.
-”...Say, Doctor Caxia…”- An internal transmission. They didn’t want the precarious nature of the situation to get out to Ecru squad. -”...Unit 515 still has a behavioral suppression system installed in their brain from an early date, though it has been disabled for a while now… Do you think you could use your personal expertise to, erm, carefully just make them a little hungry, please?... I might have an idea…”-
“We would expect you to name your champion, if you’re unwilling to fight for yourself,” Taunted a gartagen woman as she stood on the other side of the arena from where Wazu and the few members of Green Squad were standing. The woman’s blue and gold outfit really helped her own status stand out among the other competitors, her own son in tow who looked to be barely 18. A number of other competitors were around, warriors festooned with overly colorful outfits, slick corporate types with jet black bodysuits covered in logos over their muscular enhancements, and a few hundred various soldiers, government workers, and others who were in the stadium stands. Though there were plenty of people here, the event was still invite only so only a small portion of the Colosseum seats were in use.
“I would be willing to fight you one on one,” Wazu replied, still trying to buy time. He could delay for much longer, but it looked like the Echoni had made good time...
“Dr. Caxia, Dr. Dorris, our path is clear now. How long will it take to get 515 ready?” Geiben interrupts the two’s private transmissions as he stares through the entrance to the colosseum.
“Yeah, and what do you want us to do with 444?” Nix chimes in, standing a good 10 feet away from the Echoni’s paralyzed body.
“Please get them back to the shuttlecraft.” Doris responded, a little despondent about the current still-crumpled shape of 444’s arms. She wondered if leaving the medical treatment up to Caxia would just result in the metal mushroom-spider shaped cyborg cutting those limbs off… Plus they were the person who actually worked for SEER and thus Echoni development. Doris was just a glorified consultant. “Doctor Caxia, would you please record the combat information for 515’s encounter?... I think it is best that I maintain 444 as a backup unit, in case they are needed… And, well, your eyesight is superior.”
“Of course,” Caxia responded, raising up on their tripod legs to give the lenses a better field of view on the arena itself. She would also take a 3d rendering of the area using lidar, and stream all that information on to Dorris in case she also wanted a copy.
The blonde woman adjusted their glasses just to make a point, and then turned towards the red, devilish unit 515.
“Eat this, then go into the area and fight Wazu’s challenger.” The scientist walked back up the shuttle ramp, obtained a kukri knife and a granola bar, and then turned around and handed them to the oni. “Just keep your distance and don’t underestimate them. They might try and trick you, or disobey the rules… Oh, and don’t outright kill them without asking Wazu. I’m not exactly sure what the rules are either.”
“You must either incapacitate the challenger, or throw them from the arena.” Caxia stated, considering the emotional state that 515 appeared to be in. The connection to 444 seemed apparent. Certainly it would be a good area for study at a later time. “If you do well in this task I will restore 444 for you.”
444 just sorta… breathed loudly, making some weird noises with her mouth as she tried to communicate in any way she could through the ‘disable’ feature that had been turned on.
Still looking just as brooding and angry as ever, 515 wolfed down the food whilst Doris petted their twin braided hair loops. They then walked towards Geiben restlessly, and entered the area… Muscles strained, eyes narrowed, fully prepared for a fight.
Along one side of the Arena was Heram and a few members of Green-Squad, all looking quite pleased to see Geiben and the rest arriving. Along the other side of the arena were several groups of Gartagens discussing amongst themselves who would go first. This group also included a Gartagen woman that Geiben would remember from the customs checkpoint.
After a bit of deliberation, two of the Gartagens would step forward.
The first stood about 5 and a half feet tall, a muted grey-purple tone to his skin, and he had been given a knife similar to the one 515 was holding. He was wearing what looked like simple boxer’s shorts, with various corporate logos emblazoned on his outer arms and legs. It was clear some modifications had taken place, his skin looked a bit rougher with barely noticeable crosshatched lines in it. The muscles in his arms and legs also looked a bit more defined, bulging in thick strands that made them look more like cords than flesh.
“Fight me yourself Heram!” The Gartagen shouted in his best English, refusing to even look at the Echoni as he stepped into the arena. The Gartagen clutching the knife so hard you could see his hand turning a bit white.
The woman who followed him up to the edge of the Arena had a more traditionally blue skin. She only stood 5 feet tall, making the man next to her seem a bit larger even if he was quite small compared to the humans. She was clearly not a warrior, dressed in a black suit, blue tie that matched her skin tone, white undershirt, a conservative knee-length black skirt, and a winning smile: “Good Morning Heram and Associates. I would love to get to know your names afterward. I am representing Stellar in this matter, and I am excited to be able to showcase our line of physical enhancements here. This challenger, Dies A’soongao, has muscle tensile-strength modifications that are best in class. We are also especially proud of the new skin compositing technology used in his dermis. If you are interested in what you see, I would love to be able to setup a private demonstration for you. I hope you do not take our involvement with this contestant personally Mr. Wazu. He is not a member of Stellar, and his views and opinions do not necessarily reflect those of Stellar Products and its associated holdings.”
“What’s up with the angry one?” Boomer nonchalantly remarked on his HUD as he walked into the arena, staying on Geiben’s flank as he escorted the commander. “Oh, you know… Wazu probably screwed his wife or something.” Echo smirked as he replied back in text. Snow chimes into the chat. “Heram killed his father during the uprising against Vishta’s family, he was named Vishta’s champion and killed the offending general with a spear. I understand it was quite the unexpected victory.” Caxia stated, the cyborg staying apprised of the communications going on nearby. “I’m more curious about all the corporate sponsorship. Is this still a political mission we’re on, or did we just have to beat up two xenos for no reason just to get into a martial arts tournament?”
“Well, you’ll learn how corporations and governments work.” Geiben sighs, taking off his helmet and putting his cap back on. “They do like to intermingle with each other. Double-edged swords. Sometimes the relationship progresses us leaps and bounds, other times it keeps us back decades. Anyways, eyes open people, our job isn’t done yet.” He made the last comment out loud as he walked over to Mr. Wazu. With a brief salute, Geiben greets the man. “Glad to see you still in one piece.” He then turns his sight to the saleswoman and the pissed off Gartagen. “Good day.” He remarks to the saleswoman. “Commander Geiben Folami of the IAS Edward Deming, representing the Alliance Navy here.” Geiben brings a hand up in the direction of Dies. “I assume he’s the Gartagen challenger for this ritual?”
“One of many, however he is the only one that will be showcasing our line of enhancements.” The suited woman replied.
“I can speak for myself.” Dies raised his voice, trying to assert himself as best he could, “...So lets get on with it.”
515 observed the Gartagen with the modifications quite thoroughly, evidently not bothered about the talk, but trying to figure out exactly what they were. The arena also contained probably the most amount of people they had ever seen in one place, too.
Watched Wazu and Geiben next, narrow green eyes stabbing into them just as much as their enemy combatant for the ritual... What were they doing all of those fancy respect hand signals to each other for? They weren’t even doing anything!
“Uso is right. Bag people are dumb!” They actively said out loud, the lynx’s voice high pitched and growly, a bit cat-like. Moreover, they were apparently saying it to the modified alien with the corporate logos. “We should just smash them all. They are useless. Can’t do anything for themselves.”
This seemed quite surprising for the Gartagen! He looked over the Red Echoni for a moment, sizing her up. “Smash them and I’ll make you a Hero of the Gartagen Union! Whatever you want… Fame, Riches, even a fleet to smash more of those ‘Bag People’!”
Geiben nodded at the two Gartagens, but underneath his glasses he was frantically messaging the two doctors and Ecur squad. “Nix, get ready to take place as our champion by my orders. Dr. Caxia, Dr. Dorris, do whatever you can to get the Echoni in line.”
“Roger that, sir.” Nix responded back. “Knew the synth’s were a bad idea.” One could almost hear Boomer snarl.
Heram was left to make a determination. Go with the Echoni? Or move to a backup plan? He had a bit of understanding of what the Echoni had gone through, he knew Caxia might not be the best person to work with… that Dorris could be a bit eccentric… that they didn’t get to live normal lives and that there were a number of hardships associated with their lot in life. It was unfair to be sure, and likely the cause of the current problem. It was also unlikely that he could convey how important this all was in a short amount of time. However, he would lose nothing for trying. He decided to make an attempt, and if that did not work he would do it himself.
“Tsuguka, Thank you for coming.” Heram said, directly addressing the Echoni, “And I am sorry I have to ask this of you, but I do need your help. The politics are… well. If he wins, things are going to get a lot worse for a lot of people. Not just the Gartagens and the Humans.”
Tsuguka kind of sneered at Wazu, not really trusting them all that much. Then again, the words that came out of her opponent’s mouth didn’t really agree with them either.
“You’re not gonna help me?... I don’t even know what a gurtangyun onion is.” The oni didn’t like the fact that all this talk was going over their heads, but wasn’t about to make wild new deals either. “Fine, I guess you are just a bag person too, then.”
The fact that 444 was still injured, and they could use that against her, probably had a lot to do with the Echoni’s answer.
After another pace, and a slight buzzing sound, the oni looked down at their wrist, which now had a transparent orange ring floating around it. The message was from Doris.
“This person is just a bag-person with bits stuck to them, like me, 515…” It read. “Beat them and I’ll take you out for a day trip in the city. SEER will be in your debt, do you understand?...”
Without answering, the Echoni looked back up and just glared at their opponent blankly. They’d already made their decision. They were only really good at fighting, and this meat-thing wasn’t going to help them anyway.
Heram nodded, there didn’t seem to be much else he could do. The Echoni’s handlers seemed to have the situation in hand. “Thank you, I will make sure you don’t regret this.”
“The first two combatants have been chosen. The fight is to incapacitation or Ring-out with no time limit. Will both fighters please enter the Arena.” The announcer was loud, but fairly clinical. This wasn’t a spectator sport where the goal was to entertain. This was a fight to determine who would be allowed to marry the current empress. The square matt on the ground was slightly rubberized to give a good grip to those standing on it, and right as the announcement was made, Dies would enter the ring, knife held blade down, ready to fight.
Looking up and around for the source of the voice, Tsuguka eventually just settled on copying what her given enemy was doing. They didn’t really care about all of the reasons, but were now determined to win this fight just because it was the one thing they did.
Both arms braced ahead of them, recalling the defensive poses that their caretaker had taught them about. The matt under their feet reminded them of those training rooms, so that was something, at least. Legs coiled, one ahead, one angled a bit to the right. The knife was upwards and forwards, intending to threaten with a crude jab, but actually there defensively.
Silent. Brooding. Those predatory green eyes fixed on their target, and would remain there until the task was completed.
“I’ll be frank, I thought they were actually going to turn on us back there.” Geiben silently messaged Mr. Wazu while standing besides him, watching the conflict that was about to unfold, his arms folded behind his back. “I hope you can figure out a way to actually keep them under control without physical or psychological manipulation. I don’t know how long those will last.”
“This just needs to work for today,” Heram responded, “After that, we have all the time we need to make things right.”
“BEGIN!” The announcer shouted, 515’s opponent wasting no time in moving forward. His own deep blue eyes were fixated on Tsuguka, locking with her own as he approached at walking pace, doing his best to watch her shoulders to try and anticipate when she would move. Despite a certainty that his body was more than a match for hers, the Echoni were still an unknown factor which was cause for some caution.
The red one didn’t move at all apart from their head tracking him, daring him to make the first move. She wanted as much time as possible to gather information on this new body type, and moreover, the exact speed of his reflexes… Visualising, in her mind, all of the possible counters.
“You attacking or not?”
“I’ll attack when I’m ready.” He said sternly, pausing only a pair of steps away from the Echoni and looking somewhat flustered. He would slowly bring his knife up in his right hand, while his left arm was held out in front of him intending to absorb a strike from Tsuguka. “Which when I do attack it will be because I wanted to attack, not because you goaded me into it! I won’t fall for your mindgames!”
“Mind… games?” The oni simply parroted, having never heard the word before. “This is not in the mind. It is real. We are not playing a game.”
Immediately after finishing the sentence, they made a quick jab forwards; Though it was a feint, rapidly followed by her hopping backwards a good two paces, and snapping back to their solid defensive footing.