Hard Copy 02: Z-9

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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uso
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Hard Copy 02: Z-9

Post by uso » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:15 pm

Concourse Alpha, Training Block #4
5th of February, GSC 3019

It was cold in this part of the facility. The floor was made of this porous stone type of grey stuff that kinda scratched up Unit 444’s feet. The only other time the attendants brought her here was for a really boring lecture on how the bag people weren’t allowed to just punch each other, and so Echoni weren’t allowed to do that unless told so, either. Unit 515 was there that time, a long with five or six other units she’d never seen before.

This time it was not so.

Just one of those blue floaty screens that you could put your hand straight through, like it was made of only light somehow. It currently said nothing. Super dark otherwise, so that the sole green-haired girl couldn’t see any other entrance but the hatch they came in through.

Just one chair, metal. She’d been told to sit down, whilst still coming off some kind of knockout gas again. Wearing one of those annoying plastic collars again when she woke up.

Silence. Just a really annoying buzz from that screen. Not much else.

Damn walls must be thick…

“HEY! WHY IS THIS COLLAR ON?!” 444 demanded to know, she hated wearing this thing, feeling like she could just be squished anytime one of those bag people hit a button. That button she swore to find someday and smash completely.

OH it would be SOOO smashed.

She could barely contain her own grin at the thought of smashing that bag-people button.

“I DON’T NEED A COLLAR TO LISTEN TO YOU BAG PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT NOT BEING PUNCHED!”

As they moved around, there was another thing they noticed. Their left arm was weirdly numb. There was also quite a large bandage wrapped around their left wrist.

Then… Sort of just a weird blinking on the inside… A *really* weird electrical feeling.. And then… Some kind of weird blue ring turned on? It hovered at about a thumb’s length around her arm, reading some kind of ghostly squiggles… It said “PLEASE BE CALM. PLEASE REMAIN SEATED. :3” It was exactly like one of those screens…

Seemed to flash and then come back on again, whenever she tensed her wrist in a really particular way.

“I’LL BE NOT CALM IF I WANT ARM!” 444 shouted at her own wrist, pulling at the bandage so that she could see what was under it, “WHERE IS MY CARETAKER! I WANT TO KNOW WHY MY ARM IS TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!”

Double annoyingly, there was nothing. Like, her healing was pretty fast normally, but there was generally at least some blood. They must have cleaned it.

“DON’T WORRY. THEY ONLY PUTS US IN THE BRICKS-PLACE WHEN WE GOING OUT NORMALLY.” The text changed, suddenly. It didn’t make a sound, but, like, a feeling?... And then it did it again. “THIS IS A GOODS THING. IT IS A GOODS THING.”

That flashing. Yeah. It wasn’t on all the time. Uso could totally turn it off and on again… With like… some kind of… Inside finger? Some kind of muscle she never used before?...

444 struggled with figuring out how to give this thing the inside finger. Her face angrily winced and contorted as she struggled to figure it out… like walking for the first time… until she could finally reliably turn the thing off.

“HA!”

Victory!

“Now what about going to the outside? Will I get to use my Pistol again?” It had been a bit of time since she originally learned these words. Saying and using them becoming far more of a refined thing for someone as reactive as 444.

That buzzing feeling… Couldn’t look at the new message with the screen off, though.

“What’s a pastul? :)

Well that was worth the wait.



A heavy clunking noise. The doors were opening. The lit corridor beyond was a little blinding in comparison. At least two of those drones that went flat like a dinner plate. Two bag men, wearing some weird paddy uniforms in a dark green… Actually, apart from the colour, it was a lot like that cool jumpsuit they gave Tsuguka? The one on the left had really short grey hair and was taller, whilst the one on the right was more rotund and had orange-kinda hair bits coming out the wrong end of his head completely. Both had guns.

More clicking and squeaking noises. A female doctor in a white long coat. She had long blonde hair and a badge that said ‘Dr.Gailen’.

Pushing a fourth person in a chair that had wheels on it… Seemed kinda familiar?...

Quite small and thin. Very messy pink hair. Kind of hard to make out all of the details in the gloom, but they were wearing an Echoni robe for sure.

“Thank you for waiting Unit 444! You are a very good girl!” The woman doctor responded a bit patronisingly. Smile was a bit too tired, a bit disingenuous. “We are going to let you out on a special playdate for a day, so please listen to my instructions from here carefully, okay?”

“.... I will listen!” Declared 444, as if she was the one in charge of the situation even though she couldn’t really get out of the chair she was in…

Though it suddenly hit her that she didn’t know if she could get out of the chair or not. She’d slowly sit up, then start scooting forward to see if the collar would stop her.

She was also pretty sure she smashed that pink haired one at some point?

“Well done! I’ll get you a special treat after this is all over!” More of that irritating tone from the woman. They wheeled the chair right up next to 444, and the occupant just kind of sent a shy smile sideways with one green eye. The angle also made it a bit more obvious that this person didn’t have a right arm…

Well, not anymore? Was that because of what Unit 444 did?...

“Hello I’m Unit 549-Z IT LOVELY MEET YOU” The thing buzzed again. “GOING OUTSIDE IS SO COOL IT MAKE! FEEL AMAZI!NG SKY LOVE peace!”

444 scooted forward a bit more until she was on the edge of her seat… she was pretty sure she could stand up too…. But the frown on her face indicated she wasn’t happy with this arrangement, “I’m NOT giving you my arm.” She stated, wondering if it would just grow back? Her hand always seemed to come back after she mangled it? Maybe the rest of her did too? Could she even be mangled? So far only her caretaker had managed to out-smash her.

She still needed those secrets.

She’d get them from her someday. She just had tricks and stuff. Tricks she would learn! Then she’d smash her good!

One of the soldiers approached. He didn’t say anything, but simply put a hand on Uso’s shoulder, suggesting she stay put.
Total moron must have been new here. They must have only just built him today.

“You said you’d listen didn’t you?” The woman doctor grasped 549’s wrist lightly, then gave it a hefty slap. Words flashed for just a moment, then off again. Something about her already having one and it being really cool. “No more messages. Both of you. Behave now. This is super serious stuff you are getting into, okay? So just sit still, listen and don’t mess around!”

The pink haired girl just kind of made a noise… Almost like… “OHKASORHE”?... Or something?

“I AM LISTENING!” Uso shouted, look at her arm that was talking to her again. “NOW DO TALKING! BUT NOT ARM TALKING.” She scowled.

“I don’t want to talk to my arm. It only listens to me not the other way around.”

She’d look over at the guard who put his hand on her shoulder,

“It wants me to smash you.” Her eyes narrowed in the most threatening way possible. She didn’t like this particular bag person.

A shrug. The doctor actually gave her own insulting glare towards the soldier, causing him to finally back off.

“It’s a communicator. We’ve upgraded all of you Echoni models with them now. Please take time to learn to use it… But, erm, not right now.” A small facepalm, followed by a 180 turn towards the screen. She apparently had no such arm-thing, since she had to get out a remote thingy to make that one change. “Yes. Here is your mission.”

A weird image with lots of rippled lines and arrows. A big red dot. Some more lines with weird ladder rungs going through them. A picture of some place that looked super bright and dusty. Had to be one of those ‘map’ things.

“Our information tells us that there is a hidden weapons catch in this area. It’s too hard for the local military to reach in force, and well… A little unsubtle anyways. They could hear those big fat fellas searching and just run away.” They pointed up and around kinda uselessly. It was the soldier’s turn to shrug. “You’ve been told about the Grawla, right? The enemy that we are fighting?... Yeah. We just want some of those weapons for examination. Intact.”

“The leader on this mission will be Unit 549. She won’t have the ability to disable you, 444, so you don’t need to worry about past grudges, but… Yes, we’ll be able to see though her eye.”

“OHATSWHUKNE-UFRIM!!” A new high pitch outburst. Made the doctor look like she was gonna throw that remote.

“Honey…” A very direct scowl. “Shut up now.”

“You have six hours. The dot will be both your drop-off and pick up point. Operational radius is two miles. Turn around if your wrist communicator says so.”

444 would nod. “So I have to take the weapons from them? And if they don’t like that? I can punch them?”

This sounded interesting. Smashing OUTSIDE. She couldn’t hide her excitement even if she wanted to, “But there has to be a catch right? I mean, I have to listen to my arm I GUESS… but like… that’s it? You’re not going to take my arm or anything? Do I get to bring my Pistol? What about my Tsuguka? How do I find my way around without my Caretaker?”

“You will receive additional orders though your communicator. That’s why we gave it to you.” The scientist responded. “But please only attack, kill, or otherwise perform violence on the Grawla. The green furry bastards. You’ll be able to tell them from humans by the smell, I’m sure… Oh, and yes, you will be provided with live firearms for this purpose. But no other support will be provided. Any other questions?”

“Humpf…” 444 seemed unhappy about not being able to bring all of her toys… but she’d make do. All in the name of smashing. “.... I guess not… Wait. The collar. Do I have to wear that too?”

“Come on now honey. We both know you’d just run off and do whatever you want without some precautions…” The smile suddenly became worryingly more genuine. “I’m surprised that 549 doesn’t have it more in for you honestly, but… Well, who knows what is going on inside that head.”

She walked back over and petted the girl on the head as she went past, causing a seizure not of pain, but of the extreme desire to burst out saying things.

“You’ll get guns. And armour. Please follow me to the hangar.”

---

The back of the vehicle they got into was filled with options, alright. They basically had a quarter of the SEER collection, and said Uso could choose about three to take with her. A rather heavy looking suit of green armour was being attached around 549 by a pair of assistants, just as a pair of big spinny blades started making whooshing noises on top of the big flat box.

There were four more soldiers in this vehicle, and the scientist was coming along too, ushering the green-haired punchmaster along.

The wheels on it were tiny, and the blades too high up to slash anybody. What a dumb looking thing.

444 looked over the equipment, her eyes lighting up as she saw the explody-balls. She grabbed one bandoleer of them… then another… then another… then another… then at some point she realized she couldn’t just take all of them. She was already having a bit of a hard time moving around with so many belts.

The belts went back on the wall, and she settled with just taking one.

Then she needed a pistol. She saw the one she was familiar with and grabbed it off the wall along with one of those leather things that held it against her hips. That belt would go on her hips, the other one would go around her chest.

Then her eyes were drawn to what looked like a metal-fist-thing. Some kinda explosion gauntlet used for punching things super-hard.

She took it, and put it on her left hand.

“LETS FUCKING GO!” She shouted, all hyped up now that she had toys!

… maybe she could ask for one of those spinning blades on top for next time?

“You… You really don’t want any armour?” The scientist asked, looking at their notes on 444 as if that would help. “The heavy armour is probably best for your first mission… Though you could start with a pair of boots, honestly.”

“Armor?” 444 asked.

Realising that they might not even know what that word meant, they wrapped a hand on 549’s shoulder pauldron, ringing out a dull ceramic sort of sound.

The girl themselves was just sort of raising their existing arm and allowing the attendants to do their thing, as if this was something as natural for them as getting changed. Pretty soon, they actually stood up from the wheely chair, and the attendants kept on adjusting some weird metal thing sticking out of her spine.

Next came some kind of camera thing? Oh. It was an eye of some kind. It went into the side of head that the girl had just let her hair flow down before. It glowed red from a central slit, making her wince.

Then came the arm. Well, gun. Gun-arm. It screwed directly into her shoulder, and was about four times the size and weight of Uso’s pistol. This only seemed to be met by a look of disappointment from her… the Echoni putting the pistol back on the rack and instead getting a missile launcher which looked more on par with what her counterpart was carrying.

Was this all just part of this ‘armour’ thing?
The whining got louder and louder. Soon enough the thing juddered and actually flew up into the air, not rolling along the ground at all! It kept going up and up, like an elevator, except it wasn’t connected to anything at all.

Up and up and up. The entire complex shrank down to just a big white octagon shape below them, surrounded by a myriad of junkish smaller dwellings. By the time they closed the landing ramp, they were so far into the air that Uso could barely even make out the tiny little bug-like forms of people walking around.

They were off.

*THUNK*

444’s head was pressed up tightly against the window, looking at all the things there were to look at! Sure, most of those things were just jungle but it was all new jungle for her.

She wanted to punch all of it!

“How far away is this room where the grawla are? Is it in the same room we’re in now?”

Despite the hints that she should take something a little more protective, the Echoni didn’t seem all that interested in the ‘armor’. She seemed happy to keep wearing her blanket-poncho along with the belt of grenades she had taken.

“Ninety kilometers.” Dr.Gailen responded disinterestedly, looking out the window herself. Apparently they had no interest in explaining what units of measurement were, either. “If by in the same room, you mean planet, then yes. It’s relatively close to this city. That’s why we are checking it out.”

“And-and-NOW!” 549 suddenly boinged upwards not just verbally, but physically, requiring two soldiers to pin them back into the chair again. “GOTS ALL MY PARTS ON AND I’M DOING A REAAL~ GOOD TIME YES! HAHAHA”

Just as disinterested, the scientist just turned around and then pushed a button a remote, then tucked it away back in her left jacket pocket. The cyborg went mostly down to earth and fatigued, but seemed extremely adamant about being wild and happy, judging by the conflicted expression on their face.

“We will be there in half an hour… About the length of your lunch breaks between lessons. You understand that amount of time?”

444’s attention was focused on 549. The memory of smashing her was returning strongly. She had to wonder if she smashed a little too hard? Was there such a thing?

“Yeah. Go get the things from the place. Will be there in about a lunch break worth of time. The people down there are smashable, not like bag people. And uh… that one has to watch me do it?”

True to their word, it would be about one lunch break before they arrived at the destination.

“OK ARM. WHICH WAY?” Uso shouted holding out her arm and mentally commanding it to show her stuff.

“We should go the BIGGO pile of rockses first! That’s like… A big thing to hide stuff under right?” 549 took this as 444 talking to them, seeing as it was them communicating through the holographic bracelet originally. Or maybe they were just physically incapable of shutting up, squeaking along at breakneck pace. “It’s gonna be so much fun! There is gonna be sand and rocks and lizards and maybe-maybe a cactuz- You know what a cactuz is? They are really spikey and funny and I like them!”

“Do you think you’d-like-a-cactuz-erm… Four Four Four Four YEAH? DO YOU THINK YOU’D LIKE THEM?!?!?” On their feet again, unsteadily. All of the extra green metal apparatus made them look like a grasshopper, with a pair of extra angled legs sticking out of their back. Not being in hugging range of the green Echoni meant they just sort of waved their arm at them instead.

“Just remember the time frame.” The accompanying scientist waited until the exact moment when they hit the ground, then rather unceremoniously guided both of them off the landing ramp. “Remember. Six hours.”

A violent gust of wind and sand. The vehicle rose back up into the air, the whirring sound of it’s blades becoming quieter and quieter.

Then the two of them were alone.

It was hot. The bed of sand was endless, and baked the feet more sternly than any radiator the concourse had to offer. Slight breeze coming from the direction of the city, but otherwise, it was uncomfortably humid.

Hawking plants were strewn about, short green prickly things. Most did not have leaves, but sometimes had odd orange or purple flowers erupting from great tendrils of vines.
Not of those roads or bag-people or buildings or anything.

Ahead, rocks. One giant rock in particular, that 549 somehow knew about. Probably bigger than concourse alpha. It was green at the bottom due to all the plants and underhanging moss-stuff, powdered with loose jagged chips that had fallen off and tumbled down the great thing. Proceeding up to the very top, it got more and more orange, until almost a dull red.

The entire scene, silent, other than the distant wind and the creaking of 549’s roughshod joints.

“I told you… Told you it was good!..”

“Can I eat a cactuz?” 444 asked. They had only 6 hours. That was 12 lunch breaks. That was enough time to eat lunch, then get hungry again and eat another lunch. Maybe they had food at the place where they head the weapons? Regardless, 444 was hungry now.

“ARM! WHICH WAY!” She shouted, her attention snapping back to her arm as she held it up and waved it around. The floating orange display flickered on and off as she tried to manipulate the communicator with her mind… which was mostly just her turning the device on and off repeatedly.

“ARM!... ARM!!”

444 frowned,

“Ok, lets go to the rocks and see what’s up… and how much can you carry? You’re carrying the weapons right? The ones we get? And… “ 444 would dash over to 549, grabbing the arm/leg/things on her back and using them to steady herself as she climbed on, “LETS GO!”

“... and uh, you’ve been out here before right?”

*CREEEKKKK~*

*SKABOOOSH!*

Being far too rear-heavy as it was, 549’s rear legs sunk into the sand the minute 444 climbed on, sending them both rolling to the floor.

“YEEE-AHAHAHAHAHA!” This didn’t seem to get them much down anyway. “MY TURN! MY TURN!-”

Half a sit-up. Then an attempted sideways lurch. Then a dumb failed combination of both.

“Erm… If you help me up, I will tell you that you cannot eat a cactus? :3”

“WELL THEN I DON’T WANT A CACTUS!” 444 shouted, looking down at 549 with great bepuzzlement. 549 wasn’t a transport. She wasn’t a guide. Was she a guide? 444 didn’t give it too much thought but ‘to those rock things’ was as good a direction as any considering how little her arm was telling her.

444 would stand up and dust herself off. She was carrying a lot less weight, and had a far easier time getting back on her feet even with the rocket launchers and grenades strapped to her blanket-poncho thing which was now colored much like the sand was.

“Also I’m not carrying you.”

444 immediately perked up upon the realization 549 was stuck.

“If I get you out of there you have to do what I say ok?”

Perhaps not as good as a 515, but she’d find a way to make it work.

“I… I was ordered to... order you…” The smile on the pink haired girl’s face finally wavered, uncertain emotions rapidly boiling to the surface. It wasn’t like they really expected help, that was not the life that either of them led. But they didn’t really want to bake in the sun either.

More shunting. More rocking back and forth. Their back legs were too long, which is what made it hard to overcome the angle.

“What if… What if I gave you a foods? A sweet foods?”

More belated movement. They didn’t really want to give the sweet foods up. And they wanted to do the mission and not get told off, or punished… Dr.Gailen was probably watching this and getting angry already.

And what if the Grawla came now?

“What food?” 444 asked, trying to hide her excitement… “Wait… if you do what I tell you then I could just order you to tell me where the sweet food is?”

444 didn’t waste much time thinking,

“Are you gonna do my orders or not? We only have 12 lunchtimes to get this done!”

“...I didn’t forget, you know…” A sideways glance, green eye deflecting an emotion 549 didn’t really want to feel. Then, their expression just went totally blank, gazing right up at the sky.

Three...Two...One…

“HUHHF!” A strong jolt with both of their back legs, sending them up in the air, and then flat down on their face. Even after landing, the limbs twitched in disorganized pain.

“...But… I did a bad thing, so..” A breath. Slowly, she got back to her feet, and brushed herself off. “That girl is gone now. I’m Z-9. I’m the opposite… I got… I got all these extra bits now, and I’m not going to be another 549…”

Didn’t even look back after that. They just started walking towards the mountain.

“Forget what?” 444 asked, heading off after her. 549 was apparently not going to follow HER orders and she didn’t like that… she also couldn’t just punch 549 until she agreed to follow. The bag people would likely hate that.

Without much talking, 444 would break into a jog, trying to cover the distance quickly only to find that the faster she moved, the more the rockets and such flopped about. She’d only get a few steps before having to stop and readjust her grenade belt and straps and stuff so that it’d all remain tight up against her body.

Also if Z-9 was going to introduce herself, 444 should too, “Oh, and I’m 444. I’m the greatest.”

“...Surprised they sent you. You ain’t got no metal.” Z-9 responded, sort of sidestepping the first question. Their gait was a little slower than 444’s, peg-like insectoid legs still having trouble with the sand. “What kind of powers you got, 444? You grow back your head, or look at people and make ‘em catch fire, or summint?... Like, you gotta be pretty goods for them to says you are the greatest...”

Once packed away, 444 would resume her jog… getting a bit out infront of Z-9 before having to stop to let her catch up. She was looking intently at Z-9 as she approached… then she looked really REALLY hard at a nearby plant.

“Uh… I can’t set things on fire by looking at them,” She said, reaching for her rocket launcher before deciding against using it to test if her head would grow back.

“I mean. I smash things… I’m just the greatest ok? I don’t need to set you on fire with my eyes… I got a whole belt of fire-things right here!”

Existential crisis averted for the time being.

“You’re slow. You need to be faster.” With just how peggy her legs were, there was little she could do to improve things. Maybe if she had one of those bag-people suits? She quickly looked around for a suitable solution and ended with….


A small cactus.

She’d grab one, the spines pricking her fingers pretty badly, and move it right infront of Z-9, “Put one of your peg things in here. Use it like a boot!”

Z-9 had the advantage of an armoured glove and apparently four extra small robo-arms, which only unfolded to make themselves useful just now. They didn’t really see what 444 was getting at, but did it anyway, making a pretty catastrophic mess of bashing the catus in half against a rock.

It kinda sorta worked.

Maybe Z-9 was just bad at walking?...

“...Thankie three fours.” A timid glance.

The plant-boot lasted at least until they got to a more rocky part, when the hill began to slope upwards, and the plants became larger and more abundant. Some of them even started to look like those big dumb ‘tree’ things, but with odd khaki fuzzy formations hanging down and black chalky protrusions near the top.

Ground was starting to get a little cooler here. The green stuff apparently liked it and moved over.

...Some weird markings, now… Two rows of a weird repeating pattern. One went further into the flat sandy plain, and the other end went somewhere in amongst the overgrown rocks to their left, before becoming obscured from view.

444 would take a moment to observe, getting a feel for her surroundings before deciding to move up towards the rocks on their left. She ended up on all fours, creeping up slowly and doing her best to keep her stuff from jingling or slapping up against the rocks to make more noise. She wanted to get up as high as she could so she could see what was around the rocks.

Plus they had been running for a while and this seemed like a great time to be sneaky anyways.

Most of the surrounding plains were pretty flat, though they could see the slight glimmer of that big mess of people-boxes in the distance. Significantly closer, they could see that the weird lines led kind of through a small sunken valley and then sideways out of sight. The amount of trees was even higher in that direction, and it looked like there was a big rocky cliff structure that began to rise up to overhang some point in the valley out of site.

Z-9 only just about caught up at this point. They stayed off the rocks because even they knew the racket it would make, yet still managed to miss the tracks completely, leaving them staring at 444’s back in confusion.

“Are you sleepy? Why is 444 moving so… low?...”

“I’m being sneaky!” 444 said, looking away for only a moment so she could convey this information to Z-9.

Being up high in a room was better than being down low in a room. It was crazy that they had so much space in here!

“Do you know how to climb? I want to go up there!” 444 would point to the rocky cliff structure, and then point to the rocky cliff parts that they would need to climb to actually get up that structure.

She wouldn’t wait for Z-9 either, immediately moving over to those cliffs and starting to figure out how to climb. As it turned out, being inside of a structure with mostly flat surfaces meant 444 really had no idea how to get a good grip on the rocks so she could move upward, struggling to find places to jam her hands and feet into the surface so she could achieve her goal of ‘up’

The insect girl took a minute to catch up of course, but they did speed up once they got up onto the rocks. From there, Z-9 could just spring on forward. Still super ungainly and disorganized, but with enough limbs to stop them from falling over again at least.

Wrapping their arms around 444 quickly, as if knowing that they wouldn’t like it, the pair then bounced up the mountainside at a slightly quicker pace. At least Uso being on the front made for a far better counterbalance. The pink-haired girl also smelled overwhelmingly more like that juice box stuff at close range… Well, that, mixed in with something with machine-y…

More tracks were ahead. It led under the cliffside alright. There was water down there. That must be what the trees liked. Did plants make lines?

“Whaaaa!” 444 yelped as she was dragged up the cliff, quickly trying to quiet her surprise.

She would stand on the clifftop for a moment before telling Z-9 quite sternly, “Let me know before you do that next time. Also, you have a juice box on you don’t you?”

She tried to split her attention between the pressing need for a juicebox and getting ahold of the things that the bag people wanted.

She waited for a moment, before going to check the space by the cliffside, wanting to examine that before getting a good look at the people-box-things below.
Seemed like there was some kind of hole in the rock. It was pretty darn big. Difficult to tell if the lines went right into it, because the water around this place was pretty densely packed with mucky green stuff. It smelled very fresh compared to the open countryside though.

There was a weird sound, too. Kinda like… Bubbling? Did big water spills do this when they were left alone normally?...

Then, just something faint… Kinda like?... Was that a person talking?...

“I ain’t got no juices ‘cept my bloods I don’t, no surriiieeee!~” Z-9 picked the perfect moment to pipe up, rather spoiling the moment.

“WHO’S IN THERE?” 444 shouted out in perhaps the least stealthy way one could shout something out.

This room sure was messy… and she was wondering if Z-9 was made of juice? This would have to be investigated later!

Silence. The talking seemed to stop entirely.

A loud thud, echoing from the apparently large interior of the rock-depths.

444 would hurry into the rocky depths, there were certainly punchable people in there! They’d know where the bag people’s stuff was. She readied her weapon as she approached, her hands switching between finding hand-holds in the rock, to trying to grab her rocket launcher, and back again!
uso
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Re: Hard Copy 02: Z-9

Post by uso » Fri Apr 26, 2019 7:19 pm

As the sound of the running water reverberated around the cave interior, 444 found their hearing muddied. The fact that they could still hear their voice echoing back was a little disconcerting.

The tunnel opened up with a reasonably large cave of orange rock, then thinned out into something that looked way more like somebody punched or shot right through it. Lots of rubble on the floor, crushed down in two powdery lines. Z-9 struggled to keep up at first, then realized they had a better time just standing on the larger rocks.

Walls curved to the left a little, for about twenty feet, blocking the view until they actually reached the next chamber.

It was bright. Sunlight cast distinct rays through a large hole in the ceiling, making a peaceful little grotto of that green planet-fur and some yellow flowers on the floor below.

“Hey 444, do’ya think we can eat this stuff? It looks nice!” Squeaky tones, a little out of breath. “Or maybe it belongs to th-”

Then, suddenly, a loud bang. It shot around all of the walls, just like her yell did.

Not a gun, but the start of some kind of… Growl?... A vehicle! One of those box-things!

It churned towards them from the tunnel on the far side, a completely sealed box of rusted brown metal, with no windows aside from the tiniest little peep-holes on the front. Instead of wheels it had bands of interlocking plates that went right around the outside, pulverizing the rocks underneath it.

The thing was extremely loud, obviously very heavy, yet still designed to be low enough to fit inside the cavern. It also belched out a black gas from a pipe that stuck upwards out of the middle-left of the hull’s side, rapidly causing the entire room to flood with a choking, caustic fog.

“W-WARNEENG! A HUGE BOX TWINPIPE IS APPROACHING!” Z-9 yelled out, sounding immediately distraught. Were they saying this to the operators in their head, or were they relaying this information to 444? No way to find out. “W-WARNEENG! FOUR FOUR FOURS! W-WARNEENG! WAAAARRRNNNINNNGGG!!! @o@~”

Twin guns focused on the Echoni from a little pod on the left corner, bigger than what either of them were carrying. It was turning towards them, getting ready to fire…

{{ https://i.imgur.com/Y3cSz21.png }}


“SURRENDER!” 444 shouted, wedging her feet into the rocks below as she fired off her first rocket in this very enclosed space the moment enough of that metal box rounded the corner enough for her to hit something. The backblast alone was enough to make her ears ring, sending her tumbling forward as soon as the first rocket was away.

Z9 was of course entirely not expecting this, being knocked onto their back with the same irate expression frozen onto her face.

And then, when the rocket actually impacted with the wall just to the right of the enemy tank, it sent noisy chunks of rock and hyper accelerated pebbles bouncing off every wall around them. The enemy tank was pounded with this shrapnel, but the noise of the engine and turret continued regardless, unaffected.

By the time 444 dropped that launcher and readied her second one, that thick smoke had found its way into her lungs and eyes, making it much harder to see as she listened carefully, trying to find a good sound to shoot at.

The sound that she was met with was accompanied by a dazzling flash somewhere within the dust, twin crude autocannons belting out a rapid hail of fire that snapped through the air above them with a fearsome heat and compression. Somewhere behind them, the wall was engraved with a new, long and winding fissure big enough for several people to crawl inside.

Z-9 was half way to her feet during this, but just immediately fell down onto their face again, and then stayed there, cowering.

But neither one of them had actually been hit?

Was the dust stopping the enemy from getting a clean shot? Or did the little gun-pod just not point down far enough?

They could hear the weird wheel-slats clanking again. The machine was slowly, carefully backing off…

“DIE YOU FUCKWIT!” 444 shouted. Sure she had been knocked around by the auto-cannons, the bursts of light, the flashing. She was pretty sure she had been knocked on her back at some point but that didn’t seem to matter too much. There was rock in-between her and the metal thing, and she needed there to be less metal thing in this cave.

*VOOSH!*

She fired her last rocket at the cave ceiling, aiming just above the tank thing. The backblast of the rocket burning her skin just a bit as it kicked up a large amount of rock and water from right below her thanks to the odd angle of launch. Even so, she was already dropping the empty tube, reaching for the flame grenade belt that was strapped around her chest.

The rocket hit the roof at a high angle, in the meantime… Not actually going off, but violently rebounding along the surface in a terrific shower of sparks. What followed next was not the typical dull thud, but a rippling series of catastrophic shudders which made the ground all around them leap and vibrate. The vehicle in front of them slid sideways uncontrollably.

It didn’t make a sound, because none of them could now hear.

Somewhere within this mayhem, Z-9 stood up and fired off their own weapon, projecting a grenade from their oblong of a fake arm. It hit the side of the tank, mostly because they could hardly miss the wheels now that it was facing them side-on.

Smoke. Fire. Bits of airborne metal. The turret was still turning. Engine still churning the dust behind it.

No follow-up shot from Z-9?...

A new buzzing feeling in Uso’s wrist. But the message was total gibberish.

More movement. Blood?

The pink-haired Echoni was bouncing off the floor, and there was a dark figure moving around them.

At least six foot tall. Body twice as wide as either Echoni. Axe in hand, more like a wooden stick with an assortment of pointed blades and gears on top. Full dust mask with goggles, and a complete set of ragged robes protecting it, apart from some massive green-skinned knuckles.

Another one was behind them.

Grawla. Very well armed and prepared Grawla.

“--- --- ---!” 444 shouted, only to realize she couldn’t hear her own words!

“-----?!” The feeling of betrayal in her voice could be easily heard by anyone who could still actually hear. The thought that her own voice would refuse to do things for her! First her arm had a mind of its own and now her mouth! COULD NOTHING BE TRUSTED?!

There was also the sudden surprise of seeing a Grawla behind her… she should have heard it coming! “--- --- ---!” She shouted, only to realize she could feel word-things in her throat. Maybe it was just her ears that had joined her arm in open rebellion? She’d deliver a quick slap to the side of her head with the grenade, her hand pulling away a rather large amount of blood.

OH

The flash of understanding was sudden, but there was no time to think about that. Or where Z-9 had gone to. Now if only she had some kinda rocket-thing to launch herself at the Grawla with…

444 would throw the grenade in her hand over the first Grawla’s head, aiming for the tank itself with the intent of showering it in flamey-smoke-stuff. Her free arm resting itself in the punch-gauntlet-thing she had gotten earlier. Her hands would slam themselves down against the floor of the cave, springing herself up towards the Grawla in front of her as she readied her first punch.

It was hard to tell what effect the firebomb had on the tank in specific, but it certainly made all that moss and those flowers immediately disappear. Soon, the expanding fireball was so bright that everything in the vicinity was tinted with an all-consuming orange. The heat rapidly went from exhausting to downright vampiric.

Amidst this, the large hairy Grawla blocked 444’s blow, spinning around their weird stick with surprisingly skill.

*CLICK!*

The anti-tank gauntlet thing 444 was wearing just sorta bounced off! The sudden change of momentum was quite surprising! It was the opposite of fighting the robot drones in the facility. Those were stone bodied, but also stone headed. This guy was more like a rippling wall of muscle, taking what Uso threw at them and mindfully overting the attack in a way that put way too much stress on the Echoni’s shoulder and elbow; A lead-in for a counter!

The world was moving at a breakneck pace now. One of those massive hands was moving to entrap 444’s extended arm, whilst the other was moving right for her face, milliseconds away from colliding…

It was far too late for her to escape from being entrapped. She could feel this creature’s arm close around her gauntlet. Her body already committed to throwing it with as much force as it could muster. There didn’t seem to be much of an option for her other than to let go, releasing the gauntlet and just leaving it with the Grawla as she yanked her arm away.

No way she was going to lose to the same tricks HER caretaker used!

Next was the fist coming at her face. Someone more clever might have gotten out of the way… but 444 wasn’t going to back down from the challenge! She tilted her head forward, rushing to meet the challenge head on!

*CRUCK!!!*

There was no telling who’s what was being broken as her forehead smashed against the Grawla’s fist. Even so, her free hand was already reaching for the grenades on her belt, pulling the pin on another one…

The monstrous person-thing didn’t quite expect them to abandon the glove so easily. The punch still connected with the smaller Echoni’s head, knocking them off their feet, but the resulting misplaced inertia also caused him to lumber forwards, stumbling.

Shaking the grit from their slit-eyed desert goggles, it then just growled for a moment before getting it’s axe ready for a two handed strike, arcing it up and around so that it might impact down resoundingly upon 444’s prone body…

444 herself felt like the world was spinning. She sure showed that creature’s hand a thing or two! Her head hurt a little though. Everything around her seemed fuzzy now. She’d also already pulled the pin on her grenade… that had been like… seconds ago. The grenades needed a few seconds before they exploded… 3? 7? Certainly some number below 10 which was ‘all the numbers’. There was also that other Grawla somewhere, but the primary concern for the moment was that giant Axe. She couldn’t headbutt that axe and this grenade was still in her hand.

She yelled something.

She wasn’t quite sure what it was. Her ears were still in open rebellion… but her legs and arms still worked! She dropped the fire-grenade at her feet and ran off! Half-spider-walking up from where she was and kicking the ground to fling herself into more of an upright position!

As the grenade went off, the smoke and heat in the small confined tunnel reached unbearable levels. During the split second flash, she swore she could see the large shrouded figure come completely apart after striking down blindly at nothing.

It was getting painful to breath. She couldn’t even see if there was fire anymore, everything was just an intense swirling orange dust cloud, backlit by the intense sun beaming through that ceiling hole.

But she could see the boxy rectangular form of that tank renewing it’s slow grinding advance towards them... Clearly, with no possibility of a clean shot, it had just decided to trying running them over instead...

Sparks, somewhere to their left. The other Grawla had some kind of power saw in it’s padded gloves, and was making wild swings at Z-9’s huddled form, desperately rolling away.

Had the green beast men considered the cyborg a bigger threat?

This was the hottest anything had ever been, ever. 444 had been quite confident she knew better than her body. She ignored her arm when it beeped at her. When her face was screaming at her and blood was leaving she ignored it. But this heat? Her body was screaming at her to leave and her skin was getting angry. Perhaps it was time to go.

She’d charge right at the other Grawla, looking to slam her fist into the side of its stupid face.

With the buzz-saw focused on Z-9, she figured she could get in close without getting cut in half!
The punch connected with the monster-man’s helmet, but the force still seemed to ring around his head, leaving him dazed, confused, and swinging around wildly with his saw.

Z-9 used the gap in time to raise their gun-arm upwards, but suddenly found it missing, snipped from the elbow by a stray furious swinging motion.

Meanwhile, the tank crawled ever closer. 444 could feel it in the disturbance of the sand around her feet.

THIS WAS UNACCEPTABLE! 444 was outright offended that this creature didn’t respect how much she could smash things. The Echoni would try to grab onto his back with one hand, the other looking to repeatedly smash the thing’s head while hopefully not getting buzz-saw’d.

She’d smash it good.

The tank would have to be smashed later…

The Echoni never quite dented the metal helmet, but there was eventually a hideous crunching feeling coming from somewhere underneath, after which the muscular creature slowly stopped moving around. Several seconds later, they slumped to the floor completely, a dark red-black fluid leaking from inside the makeshift mask.

Z-9’s hand could be felt suddenly on 444’s shoulder, though they were in such an apparent state of panic that they didn’t really impart any information. It was probably about the tank, though.

The grinding machine was mere paces away from them now. Wading through the billowing smoke, and adding it’s own caustic fumes to the mix.

“OUtsIDE” 444’s wrist buzzed, liting up.

*CRUNCH*

444 gave the Grawla one last hit for good measure.

That take was getting close though, and Z-9 seemed quite insistent that they go… but that Grawla had a weapon. 444 was supposed to bring back weapons. She’d grab hold of the buzz saw and run towards the exit of the cave.

Hopefully Z-9 would also be exiting.

While at the cave exit, 444 would try and climb up, wanting to get above the cave entrance with her new buzz-saw for when that weapon-box came out.

Unfortunately, she didn’t find half the strength that she normally would, lungs smoldering with an intense feeling of contamination. They barely got out of the cave with the tank accelerating behind them, barely making a detour around their downed comrades.

It was instead Z-9 who grabbed onto Uso and helped her along, for some reason not quite as affected by the heat and gas…

And now they were back underneath that overhanging rock face, sludge pooling around their feet, vehicle charging out of the depths of some unholy underworld behind them. It slowed down when it got to the water’s edge, steam frothing around it’s great tracks, but it did not stop completely.

There seemed to not be enough time for her first plan… but with all this smoke it might be hard for the vehicle to see them… either way 444 didn’t spend too much time thinking about it. She’d yell out something that sounded like ‘CHARGE!’ to those who still had working ears… the Echoni bringing her newly-liberated-from-the-grawla-buzz-saw-thing up towards the metal of the tank, looking to stay low and close the distance quickly so the vehicle’s gun couldn’t traverse low enough to hit her.

Or at least she was pretty sure she was charging the vehicle.

Things were darker than she remembered. More fuzzy too. Her lungs were now in open rebellion just like her arm and skin. In between breaths she could feel thick, black, something coming out of her throat. She could also feel her feet screaming at her as they pressed against the rocky wet stuff below her.

She needed to smash this box first… Then she’d deal with her feet!

The electric saw impacted, but just dinged off the heavy frontal plate. In order to get through, it seemed like they might have to focus more on the pipe at the side, the hatches, or maybe the small windows above the main hull and gun turret.

At least the confusion over being attacked at such close range was stopping the thing from just running them over.

“DUMB ROBOT!” 444 yelled, smashing the spinning saw against the heavy metal front plate again and again. The more she tried to press down, the more the spinning saw would bounce and buck against her. The spinning motion of the saw was wanting to yank her up towards the top of the vehicle, and by herself she couldn’t put enough force down to cut through the material… so she finally let the saw win. She would jump up, her feet pushing off against the ground, then the tank, as she let the blade roll along the surface towards the top of the machine. 444 looking to place the saw against the top of the turret and jump down on it to try and force it into the metal!
The cumbersome monster under their feet seemed slow to react, barely aware of which direction 444 had gone in. Gave the Echoni enough time to have a quick look around the top, finding a bunch of doors there, just like a room… A little one on the turret, and a large pair of double doors at the back.

Blades of the saw were struggling. But it managed to nick something on the corner, pulling a pin out with a loud ‘twang!’ sound.

“DIE ROBOT!” 444 cried out, slashing at anything she could with the buzz saw.


Without a further pause, another loud creak; The back doors were open.

Bolting upright from the new aperture, a dust-coated Grawla revealed themselves, hoisting a portable automatic cannon upright that was easily the height of 444! A shell casing the size of a flashlight crunched inwards, and the furious creature prepared to open fire with extreme malice in his blood red eyes…

444’s first instinct was to jump on the creature, but there was no time! Luckily her arms were already moving, her entire body twisting to build momentum as she flung the buzz-saw as hard as she could towards the Grawla. She wasted no time in letting the momentum carry her body forward and down, lining up her legs so she could fling herself in the same direction as the buzz saw! Her hand already reaching for another grenade before she even knew what had happened with her improvised buzz-saw-projectile!

The saw deflected along the barrel, resulting in a shower of bright white sparks, before becoming caught in the natural grove that was the middle of the large man-monster’s knuckles holding the pistol grip. An arcing spray of deep crimson fluid spattered the both of them as the Grawla found his hand bisected, dropping the back end of the weapon as it loudly churned into full automatic fire, spinning around and decapitating the green thing soundly.

Now rattling around and still firing upwards from the belly of the vast steel box, countless loose shells and burnt-blood powdered ammo boxes churned and shuffled around under the intense vibration.

The lid of the turret popped open a second later, and a befangled, oil-stained gunner threw up a brick-sized pistol in a last attempt to blow the green haired she-demon off the roof of the tank, but by the time he took aim, that she-demon had already followed through with her attack, diving down into the back of the tank grenade in hand.

*CRACK!*

~FIST TO FACE!~ 444 thought to herself proudly as she gripped her grenade tightly with one hand and brought it right down into the bleeding Grawla’s face, bashing it with the metal device!

There was certainly a lot more blood.

That gun was still firing…

Her Buzz-Saw was still buzzing and possibly sawing.

She needed to keep herself from getting cut open so she used her free hand to grab the buzz saw.

She also needed to capture those Grawla weapons. So she grabbed that large cannon with her other hand.

Wait.


Shit.

How long was the timer on those grenades? Couldn’t be any longer than 10 seconds as that was all the seconds there were. The cannon thing was heavy, and hot to the touch, and her hand already was a bit burnt so she just let go of the thing and put all her strength into leaping out of the back hatch. Her legs slammed against the Grawla she just cut as she leaped out into the smokey-hot area behind the tank!

The explosion that followed split seconds later looked and felt loud, pulverising the muddy water all around with a rippling series of devastating flashes. The only thing it lacked was sound, as unit 444 was now completely robbed of their hearing. Maybe sight too?...Her arm was already trying to tell her what to do, and now her ears were refusing to do their jobs! She’d punch them if she could but everything felt heavy. She honestly couldn’t tell if her eyes were joining in the rebellion, or if things just actually looked like hot… like Orange hot fog. She didn’t think HOT looked like anything, but she was now looking right at it.

And it hurt.

It needed to be smashed… but swinging the buzz-saw at the Orange-hot did nothing!

Oh. The tank had become little more than a lidless box of fire, gusting out a rising vile plume that got caught on the overhanging rock above, boiling the water-like sludge around them.

A vibration in the wrist. Another. A hand?

It was Z-9, though almost unrecognisably doused in a thick layer of black dust. Still their tired mono-eye called out to Uso to urgently get back up and follow them.

Where they even trying to talk?

It was insanely hot, even though it was also damp. That made it crazy hard to breath. Crazy hard to see.

Yet Z-9 could apparently see through it, somehow?...

444 didn’t have time to question, her mind was racing, filling her list of things she would have to come back and smash as soon as her body parts stopped wanting to do things other than what she wanted them to do. Maybe she could smash those parts and get new parts? Z-9 had lots of parts, Maybe hers?

She’d stumble-run towards Z-9, silently swearing vengeance upon the hotorange.

The crackle of the inferno was starting to become audible again now. It was a good thing that 444 wasn’t a squishy bag person, or they’d be a well cooked dinner.

Though the shambling steamscape Z-9 ended up grabbing the green-haired Echoni’s shirt shoulder, dragging them in the right direction of the shore, away from the now quite uninhabitable cave.

Small glimpses backwards. The other Echoni knew full well they might get hit for doing this.

Tired feet found that loose feeling of sand again.

It actually felt kind of refreshingly cool now…

That probably wasn’t good.

444 attempted communication with Z-9 verbally. This was something she knew how to do, and she was quite good at. She could easily convey to the bag people what she was going to smash, or to other Echoni that she was about to smash them. This time, however, she only seemed to be able to push air out and make a pained, “Gjuhghaaaa ghghshsssaaa…” Sound that felt like her inner-air was burning and trying to get out.

The sand felt cool though! She’d reach down into it, laying the buzzsaw and cannon she was carrying on the sand to help make it all less hot and orangey.

It didn’t really seem to help. Maybe it just felt cold in comparison to being literally on fire…

Z-9 continued dragging Uso for a bit longer, until the sky was just about visible, and then pretty much just collapsed into the sand. They went through a shell shocked expression very quickly, but then immediately just started bawling their eyes out, hands gripping uselessly at the messy sand either side.

Another vibration inside Uso’s wrist…

Well, it couldn’t be 549 spamming messages this time.

“WHATGGNDGSDGSD... GHA… WHAT DO YOU WANT HAND?!” 444 shouted, holding up her hand so it would know she was yelling at it, doing her best to try and get the hand to talk to her.

“You need to hide. More will be coming, if they see that smoke.” Their wrist informed them, transparent gold letters flitting into existence, a halo of tiny figures flowing slowly upward into nothing. After an additional pace, a bad, blurry photo appeared, with an arrow pointing to some rocks… Wait, was that the back of 444’s head?...

Yeah. They were in the place that was in the photo. Like, in real life.

The pile of rocks was real, too. About twenty or thirty paces towards the distant city’s general direction.

“We can pick you up early, but you need to move. The landing site needs to be clear.”

“Clear? But there is all this smoke!” 444 snapped at her wrist. Though it seemed pretty clear she needed to go over by the rocks, dragging the weapons she had liberated over there while also trying to cough out all of the smoke that she inhaled earlier. “YOU... GHAGHGg… *Cough* … ZEENINE. Can you use this on those guys shooting at me?”

444 would hold out the cannon she liberated from the back of the vehicle. Upon realizing Z-9 had limited ‘holding things’ abilities 444 would just set it down so that Z-9 could figure it out on her own...
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