A call for aid (Tackle, GEAR)

Aug 4, 2018
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Somewhere in the UK
#1
EARTH CRADLE - 11:01pm
January 5th, OE 102


"No, no. Don't say anything, I'll handle this matter personally. Terra Sentinel has our full support as a corporation, of course, and this donation is no exception." Xander hung up with a sigh of disapproval. This just wouldn't do. He was fully willing to support Hyperion in his endeavors for as long as they remained beneficial to him, but this?

This was too far. Their relationship had lines, and while the Sentinels had very definitely crossed this one, to reveal it would expose the strings on which his entire organization danced. More subtle methods were in order.




Encrypted Message sent to: Eris Pseudea.

Text is as follows:

While I understand you've been rather busy with personal projects recently, I may be able to offer you something beneficial for the both of us. A face-to-face discussion would be preferable, however. Payment can be arranged in either currency or other curiosities.

Oh, and bring friends if possible. This is a rather difficult operation, and I am willing to cover expenses for additional personnel.

-X.
Encrypted Message sent to: Vulyn Moses.

Text is as follows:

Congratulations! You have been recommended to Alkahest's Network Operations Division by an associate of ours, and we would like to offer YOU a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Please reply to this message at the earliest convenience with your current schedule and country, and our operatives will do their best to organise an in-person interview and contract.

Depending on the performance of this contract, you may be offered a permanent position within the division, but said offer is entirely separate and acceptance or denial will not affect the compensation given upon completion.

Alkahest does not accept liability for any and all loss of life, criminal charges or other damage taken in the course of contract fulfillment. Extra compensation may be given in the result of damage related to pursual of objectives assigned by members of staff, but this is not guaranteed.

-This is a pregenerated message. All replies to this inbox are reviewed by staff and may be used as training materials in the future.
 

GEAR

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Jun 15, 2018
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#2
Clack, clack, clack.

The sound of a pair of heels clicking away at polished linoleum filled the air, as a figure made their way down the hallways of Alkahest's headquarters, nestled deep in the heart of London, her clean-cut azure tresses bobbing gently with every step. Clad in a black moto jacket, striped black-and-white crew sweater, and a head-turning dark pencil skirt, the red-eyed smuggler cut quite the figure as she walked in silence, her mind turning over her current situation, anxiously.

It wasn't her first time visiting the Earth Cradle... But familiarity made this particular corner of the globe no less unnerving. The way some of its structures appearance seemed to crawl with that strange, silvery surface, the quasi-organic shaping of the towers that held the ceiling overhead in place, the pallid white and silver coloration reminiscent of a spider's web... It was her understanding that it was some of life-preservation facility, for those who could afford such things - an Ark for humanity, if worst came to worst... But, in all honesty?

It felt more like a tomb.

...And what better place, she thought mildly, to store treasure?

Xander Digby wasn't her favorite client per se - the man kept a few too many secrets for her liking, and he'd sent her on more than one elaborate goose chase - but, his checks always cleared... and as a result, she always delivered. He was also influential enough that, when a direct request like this came in... She couldn't turn it down, to the point that it meant leaving Ayatane to her own devices to handle the matter with a personal touch.

At length, she swiped a guest keycard against a holographic lock, and stepped through a pair of tall clear doors into the waiting lobby for Alkahest's CEO... Exactly ten minutes prior to her appointment, on the dot. As she entered the interior, with its cool, comfortable lighting, she reached up to remove a pair of shades from her face, letting her red eyes adjust to the interior... and slowly to scan for any others who might have been invited.
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#3
“Place seems kind of dead, yeah?” Striding down the long empty corridors, the scruffy looking form of a young woman was scanning the walls, looking fairly unimpressed by the decor. She had received the request in the middle of attempting to salvage a Tesla drive from a basically ancient Lion wreck, and had accepted the offer as soon as she possibly could. Work was work, was it not?

Adorned in fairly simple work clothes, overalls over a plain orange tee, she was clearly dressed for the job she wanted, not the one she should have probably dressed up for a bit. Living out of a Cockpit didn’t leave many options truthfully, so having taken a long shower and some fresh deodorant was the best she could do as she was led into the... Office? Conference room? It wasn’t really clear.
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#4
Eris would notice some rather unusual changes to the Cradle had been made since her last visit - automated security cameras and turrets, glistening in that same mysterious fashion as they tracked every movement within the bowels of the structure. The staff were on edge as well, acting as if every shadow held a lurking monster. Something had rattled the cradle recently, even if Xander himself seemed unaffected.

The man himself was waiting in the lobby when Eris arrived, clutching a bizzare steel cane until his knucles went white. Arcane symbols spiralled up and down the 'walking stick', but closer inspection would reveal a trigger concealed in the rather bland handle. It was a modern wizard's staff, but no magic was required to end the life of someone who got on the wrong end of the Alchemist.

"Miss Pseudea. Do come inside." He gave her time to adjust before opening the door to the conference room prepared for them, a room completely empty of any recording or security devices unlike the rest of the facility. Any further conversation would wait until they were inside, however.

"I appreciate you coming at such short notice. Circumstances demand swift action in this case... and the target in question belongs to someone I would consider an ally. Our recruitment agencies found one other pilot suitable for such a job on short notice - do not risk yourself to ensure her survival. Only the target matters." His tone was coldly clinical - the trademark corporate smile and friendly persona only returning once Vulyn was escorted in.

"Greetings, Ms. Moses. Apologies to you both for the security procedures - a string of recent breaches forced us to reconsider internal security. Before I begin, do either of you have any questions? I will do my best to answer, but corporate policy dictates that some things must remain secret."
 
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GEAR

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#5
As Vulyn made her entrance, the azure-haired woman turned her head, earrings jingling slightly as she did so. Her orange-red hued eyes gave her a once over, from her toes to her head... and then looked away, thankfully sparing her of any comment - though it was more out of noticing how high strung Xander appeared, his knuckles practically bleached, out of any kindness.

Were it be, thought Eris in response to his greeting, that I had the luxury of turning it down.

Xander, despite his predilection for keeping secrets, did occupy a place of importance in the woman's heart, having given her first big "break", as it were. Still, despite their working relationship, she had met the man himself in person only a handful of times - his schedule, it seemed, permitted little more, and she was hardly the type of person one wanted to be seen with in public.

Such was the lot of what amounted to a thief, and murderer.

Still... For him to call on such short notice, and the heightened tensions in the Earth Cradle... It was clear that something had ruffled the old vulture's feathers, and amusing as it was to see him off kilter for once... It made her all the more interested to know what was in store.

"A pleasure as always, Mister Digby." She responded to him levelly, her own tone... Strangely reflective of his own, faux-cheer making itself known as she regarded Vulyn once more.

"You know me." She quipped, giving a smile that was easily just as corporate in nature as his own.

"Just point me in the right direction, and I'll get to work."
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#6
Vulyn nodded politely to the two of them as she stepped up to join Eris, trying to keep her head from falling of her shoulders with any wrong moves. The longer she stood there, the more it struck her that she might be out of her depth. As much as she may have regretted it, she was stuck here now, surrounded by pretty much anything that could beat her up.
“Questions? None at the moment, actually. Please continue sir.”
 
Aug 4, 2018
190
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16
Somewhere in the UK
#7
"Very good. Now... what do you know about Elemental lords?" The question was rhetorical, Xander pushing a button on the desk as he spoke. It lit up into a hologram, displaying a sequence of faded images. Jaohm, Cybuster, Granveil... eventually settling on the Zamzeed.

"They're a legend of sorts - ancient machines wielding the power of gods. Alkahest has put a significant amount of effort into reproducing or restoring such machines, but all are limited to a privileged minority of gifted pilots." Xander's voice grew louder as he spoke, a sign of his investment into the subject. He swept his cane through the final image, causing it to fizzle out and be replaced by a map of souther Europe - a red blip marking some hostile force.

"One of my prototype reconstructions was taken from me by... Anti-Directory operatives." His lip curled, the phrase not sitting right with him. Despite his current grievances with Terra Sentinel, they were still valuable allies. Such a valuable project being caught up within other supplies being sent was excusable, but their refusal to return the fruits of his labour had forced him into taking such extreme measures.

"While it is based on one of the lords of legend, the Eleme- the machine itself is powered by a rather unstable form of negative energy. You will be paid the full amount listed if the machine can be disabled and retrieved, or twenty-five percent if it is destroyed upon delivery of all combat data. We will also cover all repairs required on your machines, regardless of the state of the contract. Are these terms aceeptable?" The last question was aimed at Eris more than Vulyn - as if he assumed the newcomer would roll over and take whatever he offered.
 
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GEAR

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#8
Replica Gods, huh?

Eris watched the presentation in silence, absorbing the details methodically, picking out the important ones. More than one eyebrow ought to have been raised at the content of Xander's work, but far be it from she to bite the hand that fed her. Vulyn's wide-eyedness wasn't lost on her - and she briefly found herself wondering how such a person could be of any use, before bringing her complete attention back to the Aklahest CEO, as he mentioned some... lurid details.

Negative energy? She thought briefly; Wasn't that on the news? - When that old General, Rogers, had been speaking about those creatures - those Lamalice. She thought of the damage that they had done to L5... And suppressed a shudder at the memory. Why Xander would dare to tamper with such forces was beyond her... But for the first time in a long while, she felt cold unease sloshing about in the pit of her stomach.

Something about this... Felt off.

A replica of a legendary God-machine, powered by malevolent forces... Sounded like something out of a movie. She almost felt bad for those that had stolen such a thing, for it hardly sounded benevolent. Externally, however, she simply gave a shrug - Xander would already be familiar with her fees and particulars, and likely that she was going to find something to hardball him on. It was only a matter of time.

"When do we start?"
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#9
Elemental... Lords? The name itself seemed... Important, and it definitely rang a bell, but came to mind at the moment. Vulyn simply nodded along with the conversation, making a note to search up more on it later. The rest seemed to line up with a rich guys private collection of military toys being stolen, if that toy sounded like it was capable of going nuclear, or something along those lines.
As he returned to the two women, Moses had pulled out a calculator and was attempting to run through some expenses. “With the complimentary repairs, I think that’s fine with me.”
 
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Aug 4, 2018
190
0
16
Somewhere in the UK
#10
Xander paused for a moment when he noticed Vulyn using a calculator, the sheer unexpectedness of the act momentarily throwing him. He cleared his throat to stall while regaining his composure, then stepped back from the table. "You start as soon as you are both able. I would advise recording all you can during the battle - Alkahest is willing to pay a bonus for combat data, should it prove... resistant. Certain agreements I've agreed to abide by make activating it myself greatly unwise, but... 'off the record' there's still a great deal that can be learned. Do ensure that whatever it does can be analyzed - for the future of our species."

As he spoke, a small alarm could be heard going off in a nearby hallway. The display reactivated by itself, reeling off a string of letters and numbers and causing Xander's frown to only grow.

"I thought we'd fixed that! No matter. Unless there's any more questions, I think this briefing has overstayed its welcome. A group of presumptious, self-centred, cocksure-" He stopped hismelf and took a deep breath - the guardians struck a nerve in a way very little could match. "-It appears some troublemakers have decided to try their hand at bypassing my security. This won't affect our contract at all, do not be worried."
 
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GEAR

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#11
Eris simply blinked slowly at Xander's outburst. Yes, she thought mildly - something had certainly ruffled the old crow's feathers. Amusing as it was to see him flustered for once, she turned her focus to the task at hand. Experience dictated that arrangements for transport were likely already standing by, and the Medius being loaded already. She had been hoping to ask him to examine the "Lasmunamium" alloys that made up its frame... But it seemed he had more pressing matters to attend to.

"Understood. We'll depart immediately." She said, turning and making her way to the door. As she did, she locked eyes with the other woman, calling her by name for the first time:

"Vulyn, let's go."
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#12
Vulyn, thrown off by the outburst, was more than happy to follow Eris out of the room. She looked back at Xander sheepishly as they left, a bit concerned, but so is life.
Presumably heading back towards a hanger, Vulyn decided to walk alongside her new compatriot in an attempt to... Endear herself?
“So, finding a replica of a robot god. Is that normal procedure for working with these people?”
 

GEAR

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#13
Eris flicked her gaze towards Vulyn as they walked, thumbs hooked into the corners of her pockets. Against all previous evidence... She gave a small smile. This one, she thought, at least has a sense of humor.

"This kind of thing happens to me often." Said the mercenary, giving a shrug of her slender shoulders as she did, before continuing:

"You... Haven't worked with Alhakest before?"
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#14
“Never. I think I had a load of burnt out Tesla drives bought by a subsidiary a couple years back, but never with them directly. Truthfully I have no clue what they saw in me. Probably the suit.” A smile from the ice queen, that was a good start. Vulyn shrugged, actually thinking about why she was approached.
“I’m just a junker with a suit.”
 

GEAR

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#15
"Amazing what a nice suit can do."

The response was almost automatic, the azure-haired woman reaching up to brush back her tresses with an errant finger, causing her earrings to jingle gently as she did so. In spite of herself, she smiled, perhaps finding something charming about the woman's seeming earthiness in comparison to her own faux-uptown demeanor.

"Not like men really look beyond the surface, anyway."
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#16
“Ooph, how cruel!” The junker was starting to like this woman, pulling an old fashioned notepad from her pouch, flipping through it. “I think I do trust my suit though. Carried me through more trouble than I should have survived.” Producing a photo stuffed into the fold of some pages, Vulyn flashed it off to her teammate. It was a filthy looking Vulyn standing before an even filthy Wildraubtier, standing. “Took me two years to get them operational.
“Speaking of suits, what are you flying? Pantsuit, tracksuit, swimsuit?”
 

GEAR

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#17
"My Personal Trooper, you mean?" Asked Eris, raising her eyebrows as she took the photo gingerly between thumb and forefinger, nose wrinkling as she did so. Perhaps she was a germaphobe?

"Well..."

...The thought of explaining her trip to the abandoned lab, her encounter with the Flatfish, Ayatane, and the bizarre experiments that were being conducted there caused her features to briefly darken - but she continued speaking regardless, trying to put it as simply as possible.

"It's hard to describe, but it's a derivative of the Gespenst line with some... experimental features. That's... about all I can say, for now."

She brought up an errant thumb, biting the bridge of it in thought as she turned over the puzzle of AI1 in her mind once more. Maybe... Just maybe, she thought, this woman could be of use to her after all.

"...Does the term Lasmunamium ring any bells?"
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#18
“Right, PTs. Sorry, my brain is a bit messed around recently. But from what I’ve seen, Gespensts are pretty adaptable bastards. Any experimental features must be something.”
She looked back to Eris with a raised brow, thinking back a bit. “Lasmunamiun... Well, I can assume it’s some kind of material, or possibly... Well, without going into specifics about entomology, I don’t know it specifically. At least not yet.”
 

GEAR

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#19
"It's a kind of... Regenerating armor, you could say. I don't exactly understand it myself."

Eris gave a slight shrug, hardly seeming surprised. It was a long shot, she thought... But, perhaps a few details would be enough to rouse her interest? She continued, layering her story, as she recalled how swiftly the black PT had repaired itself, even after being almost rent asunder by the Riot B in orbit... Hardly a fight she was eager to relive in any capacity.

"But... Not just armor. It can regrow limbs, electronics... Every single aspect, in moments. I've never seen anything like it, except..."

She trailed off, briefly, tapping her lower lip with an index finger, before pressing it against them, as if sealing her own thoughts with silence. When she continued, her voice was low, and quiet - as if she were worried that someone were listening in.

"The Machine Cells they study here, at the Earth Cradle... surely you've heard of them?"
 
Nov 12, 2018
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#20
“That’s... pretty crazy. Any other person and I’d think you were bullshiting me, but I get the feeling...” Vulyn shook her head a bit, a bit overwhelmed at the concept. Self regenerating PT’s..? The power it would take to even do something like that...

“Machine cells, those I do know. Nanomachine scrubbers, basically... But if you could somehow turn that into a regenerating Trooper...” She looked around to check they were alone before getting a bit closer to Eris. “I’ll take a look later, if you don’t mind...”