Warriors of Peace (Bio)

GEAR

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#1
August 21st
University of London, Converted Dormitory 5-11A
London
7:18 AM


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Cold.

Eliza Kruger let out a tiny sigh as the first rays of dawn peeked through the blinds, shining directly into her eyes, her platinum-tressed head peeking over the oversized covers in a fashion not unlike a pen in a pocket. How long had it been since she'd been in a university dorm? Terra Sentinel had rapidly converted them for housing its staff and researchers, and her baggage was still strewn about the room in a haphazard fashion. A dorm meant for about six students felt far too large for her... but, what else was new?

Sitting up a little, her fingers snaked down her bare leg to touch gently at her ankle. The swelling had gone down at least, she thought to herself. As harsh a reprimand as she had been expecting, nothing had come down regarding her from Hyperion. Perhaps they were simply glad that she had seen that new unit? As the thought crossed her mind, a beep issued forth from her wristwatch. She fumbled and pulled it from its charging stand - and let out a muted groan.

Looked like she wasn't going to be so lucky after all.

Still, she thought, it wasn't all bad. Her eyes went to the second bed that had been pushed alongside her own, and she felt color flush her cheeks.

That, she knew at least, was new.
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#2
"...nnngh..."

Underscoring the soft whisper of fabric, a low groan emanated from somewhere out-of-sight beneath the sheets. Not that it was difficult to miss the lump in the bedclothes that stirred in conjunction with the noise, mostly thanks to the fact that in terms of scale it could charitably be compared to a mid-sized bear. A hand emerged from the depths, flailing drunkenly for a moment before finding a handful of sheet to yank at. The shape rose into a slouched sitting position, covers sloughing off to reveal a thoroughly disheveled Anastasiya. Draped in an oversized t-shirt, where she'd managed to procure the tent-like garment would forever be a mystery.

She stifled a yawn, bleary eyes first narrowing against the oppressive sun and then turning away altogether. Her gaze instead found Eliza, and the sight brought a soft smile to her lips. Ana sidled close to the smaller figure, slipping one arm gently around her and brushing every-which-way hair our of her own face with the other.

She was slower to come to terms with consciousness than Eliza, but they were getting there.

"Good morning."
 

GEAR

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#3
"Good morning."

Eliza allowed herself to be pulled in, something that would have been borderline unthinkable a year ago, platinum hair bobbing as she nodded along sleepily. Certain parts of herself, she was becoming more comfortable with, she realized. Maybe they were always there, maybe not - it was a slow, often timid process, like groping through a dark, cold room, but it was at least progress. She hadn't said the hard "L-word" yet - either of them, for that matter. Maybe there was a sense that as long as she didn't say it, it couldn't hurt her if it was taken away. "This" was something that she could still distance herself from - even if that became harder every day.

"Looks like we've got work." She said wearily, waving the watch face in Ana's general direction. She gave a quiet sigh, letting her chin dip down onto her chest as her arms wrapped around the larger woman's.

"I don't know how you do it." The scientist mumbled; "Any.... of this."

The pain in her leg shot up once more, and she moved her hands to her ankle, massaging it gently as she spoke.

"I'm not a soldier."

That statement, she felt, also grew less and less true by the day. Hyperion moved them around like chesspieces, and the work she had been doing for these people-

...

She cut that thought off, snipping it like the head of an unwanted dandelion. There was no other choice, she told herself. She had to stay by Anna's side, no matter what. Even if it meant helping these people...
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#4
Futilely attempting to decipher the tiny characters on the watch's screen as Eliza displayed it vaguely in her direction, Ana was forced to stop it swaying with a touch from her free hand before she could scan the message. Something about the way her companion phrased her statement - work - nagged at her ever so slightly. The implication that what they were doing was equitable to some mundane task, perhaps.

But as she had done innumerable times in the past six months, she reminded herself that the scientist was still acclimating to having her entire life upheaved. There was no subtle, concealed meaning behind the term. As the woman herself pointed out, she wasn't a soldier by trade nor training after all. To expect her to leap into the cockpit of a mobile weapon and unflinchingly carry out hazardous missions would be ridiculous.

If anything more serious than a bruised ankle had happened to her, though...

"I know." The arm that was snaked around Eliza constricted just a little, giving her a reassuring squeeze. "This isn't forever, Eliza. The mission, I mean. You understand why we do what we do...that the Directory has to be reigned in." And to pay for Omsk. For a moment a shadow fell over Ana's features at the thought, but she shook it off. She was well aware of how that hot thirst for vengeance would likely unsettle her partner. That rage that burned in her gut even after all these years at the unjust deaths of her comrades in arms.

That, at least, Eliza could be shielded from until the last moment.

"But once that's done...," she trailed off, trying her best to sound optimistic and directing a warm smile down at the other woman. They would make it through this, the both of them, to explore what their mutual future might hold.
 
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GEAR

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#5
"Right."

Eliza felt Ana's squeeze- and put her hand up, holding it in place just a moment longer as the woman spoke. She knew of what burned in Ana's heart. It wasn't something she, or anyone else could change. She wanted to say something, to say so much more... but, she'd also learned the hard way not to pry. All she could do... was stand by her.

The platinum-haired scientist gave her a tiny smile, trying to look reassured.

"...When it's done."



Terra Sentinel Command Center,
University of London
8:00 AM


"The System has performed admirably, Kruger."

There was something about being in Hyperion's "presence" that made Eliza's guts tighten, and she squeezed her hands together from where they were folded behind her back as the two stood in the converted auditorium. The hum of equipment all around her, the constant surveillance... here, they were in the heart of Terra Sentinel's operations. But the man himself was nowhere to be found - ever, as she had become accustomed to, elsewhere.

Unseen, but not unfelt.

She shifted her weight, never quite comfortable in uniform, as the massive monitor at the heart of the command center displayed footage of the Guardian System erasing an entire battalion from existence in the blink of an eye, leaving nothing but a searing, sizzling crater. Unbidden, a bead of cold sweat ran down her neck,

"Soon, the remnants of the Directory will be no more. Nothing but a black stain on the pages of history."

It was a statement, not one that invited her commentary. She waited patiently, Ana at her side, for when they would be addressed.

"How is progress on the Ark Series?"

"Gun Ark has finished testing. The first few units are being deployed as you specified, with more on the way..." - She trailed off, slightly hesitantly.

"Though, I still have some concerns about power overload. Calibrating the satellites to deliver the appropriate volume of power has been more difficult than expected-"

"And the prototype?"

As expected, there were no questions about any difficulties. She was expected to overcome them, whatever the means - this too, she had come to anticipate. Her brow furrowed, as she thought of that last machine, and the curious changes that had been asked of it.

"...The Blood Ark is ready for testing. I made the necessary changes to the Cockpit block, as requested."

"There's no risk of interference with the signal?"

"Not that I'm aware of. It's ready for sortie from RAF Benson at any time. I haven't yet configured it to work with the Guardian System, which will take at least another three days."

"Why the delay?"

"...That's how long it takes to do it right." Said Eliza, slight irritation dripping into her tone.

"Very well."

Eliza raised her eyebrows slightly, as any pushback seemed to vanish. Was he so quick to accept her word already? Had she already managed to prove herself worthy of some trust?

"...Sir."

There was a moment of silence, before Hyperion spoke once more through the speakers present.

"There is a matter that requires our immediate attention." He said, thinly.

"It concerns Omsk... and a traitor."
 

XekuZwei

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Jun 14, 2018
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#6
Standing aside of the diminutive scientist, Anastasiya was looking rather less formal - thumbs hooked in her pockets, her posture relaxed. Relatively speaking, that was. Familiarity bred complacency, but some modicum of respect was still necessitated when addressing their 'boss' despite the fact that the man himself was absent as per the norm. No doubt they were visible and thoroughly recorded from at least half a dozen angles from the moment they'd entered the space.

She hadn't yet received any stern words for her lackadaisical sense of discipline, but it would be nice to keep it that way.

There was little for her to do beyond stand idly by as the two discussed technical matters, knowing full and well that Hyperion would not have called her along as well merely on a whim. The woman did feel a surge of pride in Eliza as her efforts were applauded, but kept her expression carefully neutral for once. It was absolutely vital that the shadowy head of Terra Sentinel came to trust her. Both for the sake of her own continued safety, and...whatever manner of complicated thing their relationship had become at this point.

It should have been, perhaps, somewhat troubling that her reaction to the visual demonstration of the Guardian System was far less visceral than Eliza's. It was not that the summary erasure of those lives brought the woman any sort of joy - no, quite the opposite, as the Directory had seen to that by showing her the tragedy of such things first-hand with their treachery. But such grim business seemed an inevitability. If they didn't wipe out the remnants of that corrupt sham of a government, they themselves would be destroyed in its place and the cycle would march along.

"There is a matter that requires our immediate attention. It concerns Omsk... and a traitor."
Ana's jaw tightened as a grimace rose on her features, and despite the fact that her stance didn't shift an inch there was suddenly a perceptible tenseness to it. Amazing. Hyperion had managed to mention two of her least favorite things within the span of a few words - and he knew it. It was not exactly a sentiment that was uncommon among their members at large, of course...but only so many of them had been at Omsk and lived to tell the tale, and for those few it held a far deeper significance. That number seemed to dwindle every day.

And Anastasiya was among them.

"Just tell me what needs to be done. Sir."
 

GEAR

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#7
A picture flashed up on the closest monitor. A red haired woman with sharp European features, clearly taken from a distance via some fashion of surveillance drone. A second one was laid next to it, a formal military profile picture, the same woman in full uniform, and looking a lot less tawdry.

"This is Sigrid Korppi. A deserter." Explained Hyperion;

"Her family were among the first of our number, and involved in the Omsk Tragedy. In our hour of need, they too... betrayed us."

As the overseer spoke, Eliza had a small notebook out, ostensibly to take notes on what was being said... but, if Ana were to glance over, she would have seen her sketching something thoughtfully, as if from memory. A kind of stylized "A", or an upside down "V", with the center section sliced out. Her brow was furrowed, as if trying to figure out its meaning - but Hyperion's next words snapped her out of it, causing her to look up once more.

"The penalty for desertion is execution. There are no exceptions. We have tracked her to these coordinates."

A dark feeling curdled in the pit of Eliza's stomach. So far she'd been lucky, and hadn't had to kill anyone. Looked like that was about to change.

"Find Korppi... and eliminate her."

Sigrid's picture disappeared from the monitor - and in that moment, Eliza already knew all the relevant information had been uploaded to their personal terminals. Not one moment sooner than when it been officially spoken, and not one second later.

"We are close to the truth of the Omsk incident. Those responsible will be brought to justice. Our suffering will be avenged, at long last.

This, I promise you.

You have your orders. Move out."

The monitors flicked off, and Eliza breathed a tiny sigh of relief. As the two were ushered away, she leaned in to her companion conspiratorially, holding up the drawing such that only the two of them could see it.

"...Ana." She asked quietly, as they moved down the solemn hallways;

"Does the term "System ACE" mean anything to you?"
 
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#8
Hyperion's words served to do little more than deepen the creasing of Ana's brow with rising ire. The man knew that they would incense her - a fury that could be directed, utilized. It was a stark contrast to the woman's usual joviality.

Sigrid Korppi.

How could someone who had experienced Omsk...

How could they turn their back on the cause?

Abandon their brothers and sisters so blithely?

The ultimate price...yes, that was what that woman deserved to pay. Her actions were inexcusable.

"Sir." With that final command acknowledged, the man behind the screen departed as he always did, leaving the pair to be shooed back to a less-restricted portion of the compound. Ana drew in a deep breath, held it; exhaled deeply. Calm, that was what she needed to be. Too many fellows had she seen fall as their rage got the better of them, clouded their judgement. Loathe as she was to think ill of dead comrades-in-arms, it was a mistake that one needed to recognize and avoid making themselves.

At least she needn't worry over Eliza losing her composure, the scientist not harboring the same intense emotional response. Though the mission they had been given may serve to disturb her in other ways...

The smaller woman speaking something tacitly in her ear snapped Ana out of her reverie, giving her a little start. It took her a moment to register the question, and it made her brow furrow in thought as opposed to anger. She wracked her brains, pondering back over the many conversations she had heard bits and snippets of on-base, whether she'd ever caught sight of the emblem Eliza had sketched out, but -

"No...I don't think I've ever even heard of that. Why?"
 

GEAR

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#9
"...It's something that turned up during my research, that's all."

Eliza gave a shrug, folding the drawing and putting it back in her pocket for later. Her expression matched Anna's, and the sight of the two, with their differing statures, caused more than one individual they passed in the halls to glance back quizzically.

"LIOH... The Guardians... all these different systems all seem to lead back to System ACE, whatever it is." She continued, stepping aside for a small crowd to make their way past a pair of double doors.

(Korppi... Why does that name seem familiar?)

There was something nagging her about Hyperion's presentation, and her fingers played with her hair thoughtfully as she turned the name around over and over in her mind, as though it were a rubics cube. The two of them stepped out into the morning gray cold, and she stretched into the air with a high pitched little groan, arms waving in the air like diminutive beanstalks before her hands were shoved back in the longcoat's pockets.

"I remember reading a paper from Omsk once.. That must have been years and years ago."

An armored car trucked by, splashing murky water in their feet. The platinum-haired scientist spied her own reflection in the water, punctuated by the occasional raindrop, as she continued.

"They were doing some work with Valdona Particles-" Eliza seemed to catch herself in mid-jargon for once, holding her hands up to demonstrate to Anna, as if she were parting the red seas;

"...Basically, a way to safely create a pathway between parallel worlds. We looked into it as an application of Dimensional Power, but the underlying principles weren't as similar as we thought, so... nothing ever came of it. Last I heard, that lab was destroyed in the incident, but..."

She trailed off, voice tinged with faint melancholy, as she gave a little sigh. In the distance, a security camera watched the two of them, the same as any other. All were safe beneath the watchful eyes.

"...It's strange that it would resurface now, of all times."
 
Jun 14, 2018
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#10
Content to trundle along in her friend's wake for the moment, Ana kept uncharacteristically quiet as the scientist gave her a miniature lecture as they trod. She'd become so accustomed to the looks - up to and including outright stares - that they got as a pair that anymore it registered almost as little as the constant surveillance devices. Something in the back of her mind idly wondered whether, seeing them together almost universally, the base's denizens thought her simply a bodyguard to Eliza or if they suspected the truth.

Not that they'd figured out precisely what that truth was yet, either.

Ana sucked in a deep, deliberate breath as they emerged into the chill air. The cold felt good in her lungs, and it helped to calm the last vestiges of her earlier temper. Eliza's stretching antics even brought a hint of a smile back to her expression. Valdona Particles were yet another in a long line of things she hadn't the foggiest about, but her companion was at least cognizant enough of that fact to stop herself and offer a vague explanation.

It sounded not unlike some of the functions of System XN, as fickle as they were in cooperating with Anastasiya's wishes at times.

"What do you mean, resurface now? System ACE? Where?"