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The System

Discussion in 'General Role Play' started by Yoshimitsu, Mar 13, 2013.

  1. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    ~*~*~ Central City ~*~*~

    Logging in...

    Logging in...

    You have one new message.

    Body:
    Yoshimitsu, you recently received intel regarding insurgents attempting to crack into the Vault. New intel indicates they are about to attempt again. The Vault is a high-security prison and must not, under any circumstances, be penetrated. You have your mission. Good luck.
    End Message.

    You have no new messages.

    Logging in...

    Select drop point.

    You have selected Central City.

    Digitising...


    It was quiet. Unnaturally so, in fact. Despite it being the middle of the day, there wasn't a single person out. The roads were empty, shops closed with their shutters down, curtains drawn to shut out the world. Not even a lick of wind kicking up stray dust and dirt, which was a shame because a tumbleweed rolling by would have cemented how desolate the place looked. Cars were parked neatly at the sides of the roads, but not a single person was in sight to drive them. It wasn't normal for the city to be this devoid of life, especially at this time. Something big was going down.

    Yoshimitsu stood on a lamp post, his hands flying over a holographic keyboard and eyes locked on the translucent view-sceen in front of him. Coding scrolled up the screen quickly, indescipherable to anyone who wasn't trained to read it. His hands moved quickly, pressing each key delicately but with certainty as he scanned the area for any anomalies. With the intel he'd been given, the only thing he was certain about was that there was going to be an attack. Where they were coming from, where they would enter the Vault, how they would be armed... A lot of unknowns. He hated unknowns. As exciting as they might be, he'd rather not run straight into a trap and end up dead.

    The holographic interface in front of him vanished. No luck on his end. Hopefully someone else would fare better. He ran his fingers through his hair, blue and perfectly spiked as always. His form was lithe, toned, standing fairly tall and fairly thin. He wore his trademark blue t-shirt, v-neck and short sleeved, black jeans with faded knees and shoes with silver lines covering them. No weapons were hanging from his waist for the first time in a while, which suited him since encumberance really went against his fighting style. He slid from the lamp post, landing lightly and silently.

    No sense in waiting around. He started a brisk jog, picking up just enough speed for his shoes to kick in. After a few steps, they began to glow. Another couple and the soles rotated to allow rings of green light to shine through. Probably his favourite gadget in the entire place. Hover skates. Anti-gravity generators that let him float a few inches from the floor, completely without friction. He indulged in a small grin, feeling his hair ruffle and his skin prickle as he picked up speed easily. A swing around the corner, a jump over a car in the middle of the road, grinding across some railing. Okay sure, he was showboating, but in the fastest and most fun possible ways. At least he was still making his way towards the Vault.

    "Hey Arv," he greeted, a finger pressed to his ear. "Anything on your end?"

    "Not much on my end, Yoshi," a deep, resonant, not-quite human voice responded. "I've got Scout Alpha patrolling around The Vault but it's not reporting anything unusual yet. I hope this isn't a wild goose chase."

    "The higher-ups are pretty hell-bent on keeping this under control so they must have some idea about what's going on," Yoshimitsu replied, swinging around a lamp post on to an adjoining street. "I'm doing a sweep of the general area but it's a ghost town. I can't decide whether to head straight for the Vaults or keep on searching on my way. Tough call to make, especially when we haven't heard anything since the mission briefing."

    "You should probably keep searching. Between Scout Alpha and me we've got the Vault itself covered for now." came the response. "I must say, that's one hell of a Deep Freeze they did here. The Operators are usually very thorough about things like this - redirecting all the users to other regions for their own safety, disabling NPC programs, even the atmospheric ambiance routines are suspended. If these 'insurgents' get in we need to assume at least one of them is a very skilled hacker. Someone clever enough to either cut through the barrier... Or avoid being rerouted altogether."

    "I don't know which idea unsettles me more, to be honest," Yoshimitsu commented quietly. "I'm only a couple of streets over so I'll do a quick sweep then head into the Vault. Hopefully we can stop them before they get in, whoever they are."

    He swung around another lamp post, felt his skates grind along a bench then finally landed back on the road. It was eerily quiet now. Normally everything would be all hustle-and-bustle but with everyone forcibly logged out of the system, the city seemed like it was missing something essential. Like a corpse. A rotting dead thing. He pushed those thoughts away, skidding around another corner. Still nothing unusual, though.

    There was something very wrong with this situation. The operators only locked down the System when there was a very serious and significant threat. In his memory, Yoshimitsu could only remember a handful of instances where they'd been forced to this level of security and, he didn't mind saying, desperation. If the threat was this severe, why hadn't they given any more information? All they'd been told was that someone might crack the Vault. Short of one of whoever it was being an operator-level hacker or coder, they shouldn't be able to even access the city without a very high level of authorization. The operators weren't the type to hide anything. Somethin big was going down, so where were they key players?

    Unless...

    "Arv, get inside the Vault as soon as possible," Yoshimitsu said urgently, abandoning his sweep and skating down the main road. "Whoever's attacking the Vault... I think they might be inside already. And I don't think the operators knew they could be. You know what programs are being held there. We can't risk any of them getting loose."

    He cut the link and increased his speed. To say letting anyone access the Vaults without authorization was a bad thing would be a massive understatement. They'd been stupid to think that doing a sweep of the city might give them some kind of advantage. Anyone who might be able to bypass the Operator lock down would have the skills to land themselves nearly anywhere in the city undetected. That included the Vaults. Their only saving grace was that if the insurgents were inside the Vault, they could only get to the first two levels. Anything above that was too well protected, by code and security task forces. The Users in security weren't anything compared to himself or Arv, but they could slow any attacking force down.

    "This is Yoshimitsu calling all new Special Ops recruits," Yoshimitsu said, pressing his finger to his ear again. He had a straight run to the Vault now. It was almost definitely against regulations to smash through the front doors, but he was about to do just that. An emergency required different rules. "And anyone else available in Central City. Your orders are to head straight to the Vaults. If there any any hostile programs, you are to destroy them on the spot. Containment is no longer the main priority. Carve a path for myself and Arvensis to ascend to the higher levels and attempt to cut off the insurgents. You have your orders. Good luck. Yoshimitsu out."

    If it had been a normal User, they would have rebounded off the front doors and crashed back to the pavement. Yoshimitsu, though, changed the settings on his anti-gravity skates. A high burst from his shoes at the moment of impact sent the front doors flying off their reinforced hinges. He flipped back to the pavement and set off again, shooting down the maze of corridors that made up the entirety of the Vaults.

    OOC - In case it wasn't obvious, the majority of people had interest in being Special Ops characters so I'm running with them being new recruits (either fully inducted or this is their field test for the position). If still unsure on how to enter, wait for mine and Stel's next posts to explain the inside of the Vaults a bit better and jump in then. Otherwise, go right ahead!
     
  2. Logging in...

    Logging in...

    Logging in...

    You have one new message.

    Body:
    Kronos, today will be your first official day in the Special Operations User group. Today will be, in a manner of speaking, your field test to determine whether you will be maintaining status as a Special Ops User and your placement therein, should you pass. Do not misunderstand, while you will be tested on your performance, this assignment holds great significance and poses a very real threat to yourself and others. Mission details as follows: Intel suggests a group of insurgents are attempting to crack into the Vault, your mission is to prevent this and secure the high-security prison. Your test begins when you drop into Central City. Good luck.
    End Message.

    You have no new messages.

    Logging in...

    Select drop point.

    You have selected Central City.

    Digitizing...


    It was a strange feeling, if it could really be called that, dropping into the System. Suddenly being in an entirely different world, with a different sky, a different earth beneath your feet. The gravity of it was enough to make Kronos' head spin on the best of days; but now, standing in the center of a street that was entirely empty when it should have been anything but. Central City was a hub, and a busy one. The newly appointed Special Op didn't need his newly acquired abilities to know that something was definitely wrong.

    It was quiet enough that Kronos would have sworn he could hear a pin drop from across the city; he wondered if his enhanced senses would actually allow something of that caliber to be possible. Probably nothing that impressive, he decided, trying to keep focused on his real reason for logging in.

    He had been ecstatic when the Operators chose him to undergo the Special Ops field test, but now that he was here and the responsibility of the position weighed on his shoulders, he realized something. There would be nothing to make him second guess his resolve to be in the Special Ops, but it was definitely a sobering feeling.

    Glancing around the street, he quickly made an assessment of the state of things; cars lining the streets, shops closed, not a sound to be heard. It felt like being the last man on earth, an eerie thought that didn't sit well with Kronos, he couldn't remember ever having such a sense of loneliness.

    Pushing the thought from his mind, Kronos decided to check over his gear, he needed to do something to clear his head and get back in the zone. His appearance wasn't exactly screaming Special Ops, he wore a black, short-sleeved t-shirt with a royal blue gear on the front. Over that he wore a purple and grey plaid flannel, unbuttoned and with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. A pair of faded blue jeans adorned his legs, and his shoes were slip-on, black and white checkered shoes. Suddenly he felt inadequately dressed and wished he had time to change his appearance. At least he kept his black, short hair combed, his fringe sweeping off to the right side of his head.

    Aside from his basic appearance, he had a pair of Jericho handguns strapped to the small of his back, underneath his flannel, which he used when close-range combat wasn't an option.

    "This is Yoshimitsu calling all new Special Ops recruits. And anyone else available in Central City. Your orders are to head straight to the Vaults. If there any any hostile programs, you are to destroy them on the spot. Containment is no longer the main priority. Carve a path for myself and Arvensis to ascend to the higher levels and attempt to cut off the insurgents. You have your orders. Good luck. Yoshimitsu out."

    Holding his hands up before him, a holographic keyboard and view-screen appeared and Kronos began typing, information flew across the screen in what would appear as gibberish to most people. Even having practiced countless times to read through the coding before him, it took him longer than it should have to make sense of it. Within seconds he had the quickest route to the Vault mapped out for himself. "Too slow," he scolded himself, then he pressed a finger to his ear, "this is Kronos, responding to your call, Yoshimitsu. I'm en route to the Vault now." He passed a hand through the holographic view-screen and twisted his wrist so that he was looking at his palm, the view-screen had condensed itself into a portable screen in the palm of his hand.

    Kronos quickly pressed his hands together, and made a motion like he was putting on a pair of sunglasses, which the view-screen recognized and it became just that, a pair of glasses which showed his mapped route to him perfectly, an arrow floated just at the end of the street pointing left, augmented reality was nifty. "Now I just need a gadget copter and I'd be set." He started bounding off down the street and spied the next best thing, someone's motorcycle parked on the side of the road.

    Seconds later, Kronos was speeding toward the Vault, ready to give Yoshimitsu and the other he mentioned, Arvensis, any backup they needed.
     
  3. StellarWind Elsydeon

    StellarWind Elsydeon Armblades Ascendant
    Staff Member Administrator

    The image that Scout Alpha transmitted to his HUD made him smirk under his helmet. Typical Yoshimitsu. Always has to make an entrance.

    The message, on the other hand, was much less reassuring. Of course, he suspected a high-level coder was involved - bypassing an Operator-issued region-wide Deep Freeze would require an intimate understanding of the System's inner workings, after all. However, the possibility of digitizing inside the vaults would take far more than that - creativity, and a great deal of it at that. He liked creative opponents - they made his life interesting.

    Yoshimitsu was right, of course. He should be heading to the Vaults. Impulse thrusters whirred to life with a soft, pulsing hum - silent as birds' wings - and with a leap, he took to the air, launching onward towards the vaults. He was on his way.

    Arvensis was a non-human model. When he created his avatar it was still kind of a novelty, but these days non-human models were becoming more and more common as people actually started getting more creative about their avatars and the System itself underwent the necessary revisions to allow them to be. He was one of the few who opted for an early nonhuman model and had the skills to create one before the System made it easy. It seemed appropriate for the lifestyle he chose to lead at the time, long before he joined the Special Ops.

    He was a tall anthropomorphic digitigrade with a frame that could be described as athletic and a long mane of dark brown tendrils held together in a ponytail of sorts by a metallic ring - and that is about all you could tell about his actual character template. The rest was obscured by a complex powered armor - organic and mechanical elements weaving together in an exceptionally intricate way creating a synthesis of both and neither. Light refracted off its dark green organo-metallic skin in strange turbulent patterns, giving it ever-changing markings.

    There was more to the armor than just appearance, though. At its core lay a symbiotic, self-evolving core program named SEED Omega - a program which possessed the ability to scan, analyze and replicate coding, working in tandem with a user's mind. SEED Omega was the heart and soul of an advanced system of sub-programs with various functionalities. Currently, the only one active was Scout Alpha - a cloaked stealth drone capable of high resolution multispectral analysis - which was patrolling around the Vaults, monitoring potential escape routes. If the insurgents are already inside the vault, he figured, it would probably be a good idea to at least detect them should they try to leave.

    Keeping Scout Alpha's readouts in his peripheral vision, Arvensis shifted the focus of his helmet's HUD - he was going for a stealthy approach to the Vaults from a different direction and required some rather intricate flight data readings to do so.

    Part of his mind was already processing variables. Attacking the Vaults was definitely a ballsy plan, and the high level of security was only part of the reason. While officially described as a 'high-security prison', that was only a half-truth. Oh, they were certainly used to secure and contain things that society needed to be protected from... but not criminals. The Vaults were used to secure and contain some extremely dangerous rogue programs - programs that could either not be completely deleted from The System altogether or posed enough of a risk to be the subject of high level security research - high level analysis of their code to find System-wide exploits that allowed them to exist and function in the first place and seal them while keeping intervention with legitimate programs to a minimum. If some of these programs were to break out, they wouldn't tell 'friend' from 'foe' on their rampage. It would be suicidal.

    Perhaps these insurgents were extreme thrill-seekers attacking such a dangerous, well guarded facility "because it's there". Death was cheap in The System - barring a deep corruption of code, if a user was killed in The System they would simply be logged out - the only consequences to which being dealing with the psychological impact of having just died an unnatural death. To most, such an experience would be traumatic. However, to some the experience provided a rush - and its non-permanence allowed them to seek out new, more thrilling ways to experience death, compare notes with their peers, one-up each other, and attempt to reach an ultimate blaze of glory. This sort of suicide mission definitely seemed show-offy enough for it to be the case... but there was no way a group of suicidal daredevils would be able to get their hands on the level of code required to break through a Deep Freeze. Most sensible coders steered clear of loons like this and even the non-sensible ones tended to feel uncomfortable around them. These people wore death counters on their shirts, for eff's sake.

    Perhaps terrorists in pursuit of a weapon to create chaos for the sake of chaos - or a distraction while they operate elsewhere. This seemed needlessly elaborate - if they had a coder this skilled, they could create a whole new threat that would render the whole affair meaningless. Unless the coder was not working with them after all, but rather provided them with a few appropriate scripts. Are the insurgents working on their own or have they been hired? If the latter, is the coder the mind behind this, or is there another?

    Either way, they must have a purpose in the Vaults. They are probably after something in particular - A skilled hacker could probably manage to pull a manifest of the things stored within the Vaults and just enough allusions to what may be there off the record. But what could they possibly be after?

    And how many programs would they release to cover themselves and delay possible containment forces?

    His thoughts were interrupted as the Vaults came into view. There was one last thing to do before he would make his entrance.

    "Scout Alpha, Recall and engage Silent Watcher mode."

    A form coalesced into view, coming towards him - a silvery-blue, vaguely avian form, 'flowing' through the air as if it were made of fluid metal. As it approached him, a sheen took it as it contracted into the form of a cartridge, promptly absorbed into a cartridge reader-like device on his right arm. The device snapped into a closed conformation and the reader whirred to life, as the armor's code was modified, incorporating Scout Alpha's algorithms into its own. The armor's skin shifted from dark mottled green into silver-blue with a chromelike sheen and then disappeared altogether from sight as the cloaking algorithm silently kicked in. With Yoshimitsu's glorious crash-in earlier and the soon-to-arrive wave of rookies (he hoped they were competent enough to handle whatever was about to happen), he probably wouldn't even need the stealth - but it was better to be safe than sorry.

    Especially, he thought, if this insurgent group's target was what he hoped it wasn't.
     
  4. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    Logging in...

    Logging in...

    You have two new messages.

    Body:

    Brittnie, you recently received intel regarding insurgents attempting to crack into the Vault. New intel indicates they are about to attempt again. The Vault is a high-security prison and must not, under any circumstances, be penetrated. You have your mission. Good luck.

    End Message.

    You have one new message.

    Body:

    Brittnie, your appointment at Botique Bellefleur has been cancelled. Please call and reschedule.

    End Message.

    You have no new messages.

    Logging in...

    Select drop point.

    You have selected Central City.

    Digitising...


    Brttnie opened blue eyes and looked around the street. Utterly empty. Users had all been relocated to more distant areas. Deep Freeze it was called, she was pretty sure at least. Lifting a suntanned, manicured hand, Brittnie summoned a holographic keyboard and screen. Scans confirmed that no users were in the vicinity. She looked up the Vault and its location. She bit her pink lips due to stress, trying to read the information as quickly as she could. There was no messing around with this mission. Be faster, they kept telling her. She could hear the Operators’ voices in her head. We can't afford wasted time. Finally, after a few clumsy keyboard strokes and a few taps of the backspace key, she had what she was looking for. She pinched the hologram into a tiny square and held it in her fingers as she dismissed the keyboard and focused her attention to the street.

    Brittnie was dressed in a black jumpsuit, leather but not shiny. She was taller than your average woman at 5’10, and she was very thin, almost unnaturally so. Her platinum blonde hair was loose and straight, and on her feet were a pair of hot pink boots. They went up her shins and had a three-inch block heels. Pink sunglasses sat on her head, which she lowered over her eyes as she walked over to a large cluster of code materializing to her left. Within seconds she was climbing into a pink Corvette convertible. Brittnie placed the pinched screen onto the display in her car and directions to the Vault instantly appeared. The engine purred and she was off, breaking the speed limit within seconds.

    Yoshimitsu's voice suddenly rang out of her pink earpiece. She listened to his summon and picked up her speed. Brittnie wasn't a new recruit, but she wasn't exactly a senior member. She was brought on to replace some scythewaterguy. Wasn't really sure what happened to him. A year of experience was under her belt, but it had definitely been a rocky year. Lots of mistakes. She had been reminded time and time again by the Operators how they had taken a chance with her. Brittnie wasn't the fastest learner, and was perhaps a little ditzy. It was only her first week in when she received the nickname “Barbie” from her colleagues. Her love for the color pink, her blonde hair, her figure, and the way she spoke didn't help matters, but it was mostly to do with her abilities. This wasn’t to say she wasn’t competent, or that she was unintelligent. If that were the case she wouldn’t have even been considered. The most important thing was that she always tried her best, and she hoped that was what showed in her character and why they kept her around.

    Her relationships with her colleagues were still a little difficult, especially the senior members. She felt that Arvensis might not like her too much, but he wasn't exactly an open book. Yoshimitsu seemed like he tolerated her, but was also always sure to be encouraging to her, which she liked. She didn’t know any of the newbies well enough yet.

    Brittnie took a sharp corner with only a slight drop in speed, thankful for the extensive tactical driving she learned during her training. If there was one thing she could do well besides fashion, it was driving. Actually she was great in most of the tactical and technical areas of her job. Her code-reading still needed work, and perhaps her judgement was sometimes dodgy, but she could drive, and she could handle herself. She was good support on the field. Useful to have around. Brittnie perhaps hadn’t made the most of what the avatar customization afforded her, but she did well with what she had, and would be uncomfortable adding to and complicating her abilities. She didn’t need that in her life.

    Upon rounding another corner with a chorus of screeching tires, the Vault came into view, just in time for her to see Yoshimitsu burst through the front doors. Brittnie pulled up and parked neatly on the side of the road, before realizing they she should’ve just parked in the middle of the road and jumped out. Oh well.

    Getting out of the car, Brittnie ran to the entrance of the Vault, boots resounding loudly off of the asphalt. She held her hand to her earpiece and said, “Brittnie on the scene! You said to, like, carve a path, but you’re already here, so I’ll just, like, catch up to you. Brittnie out.”

    Everyone could hear it but it was more for Yoshi and Arv. Brittnie took a deep breath and ran into the concrete maze of the Vault. As she ran her skin, what could be seen of it, changed slightly. It wasn’t a huge change, and really not easily described. The best way to put it was that she looked airbrushed. Her skin looked firm as well as flawless, and tight in some places. Brittnie definitely would have to put everything on the line this time, and be ready to give it her all, not just for her sake, but for everyone’s. An old pop song played in her head as she rounded a corner, with modified lyrics.

    You are now, now, rockin' with, Yoshi, Arv, and Brittnie, bitch.
     
    Stargrounds likes this.
  5. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Yoshimitsu took note of the recruits logging in to the city, information feeding into his earpiece. He ran his hand down his face, code spiralling around his fingers as a visor formed over his eyes. There was a proximity monitor in the corner of the lens, letting him know how far the other agents (or recruits) were from him. The only person missing from it was Arvensis, but that had stopped being a concern a long time ago. If he needed to know where Arvensis was, the other agent would usually let him know (sometimes before he knew he needed help).

    Kronos and Brittnie had been logged in so far. Given the sudden severity of the mission, he'd been hoping for full agents who'd been doing this for a while but he knew already that he was going to war with the army he had. He couldn't even send in a complaint since he was the person who'd recruited both of them.

    At least ninety percent of the new recruits came through him. He personally picked out nearly all of them because they'd managed to show expertise in areas that could benefit not only Spec Ops, but the System itself. It was a serious thing, like this massive spectacle, whenever there was a potential new recruit. It wasn't taken lightly and reflected on whoever had suggested someone as a new recruit. Yoshimitsu had to be absolutely certain before he suggested someone for the Spec Ops program. If nothing else, his public image would be down the drain if anyone caught him suggesting someone who was sub-standard.

    So really, he shouldn't be disappointed when Kronos and Brittnie showed up. He knew them both, though he didn't want to say personally, and knew they were up to scratch with how these operations worked. Still, they were lacking in the experience needed for an operation like this. They needed to learn on the job, and they needed to adapt to it very quickly, if they wanted to keep their positions.

    Yoshimitsu skidded around another corner, very narrowly avoiding slamming into the wall. The first floor was suspiciously quiet. Not even an alarm. Anyone who had been inside the Vaults knew that the building itself was composed of ten floors, each one it's own maze of corridors and rooms. Regulations dictated that any authorised personnel had to be accompanied with their guards depending on which floor they were visiting. Floors one through three needed only one or two guards, four through seven required five to six and floors eight and over demanded a full squadron of security. Every couple of months, they'd change the layout of each maze and all Spec Ops had to have a training day to relearn the lay out.

    Still, the quiet unsettled him. He raised his finger to his ear again.

    "First floor is clear. Beginning search on the fourth floor as soon as I get there. Anyone who can, meet me there," he said quickly.

    There were certain security measures in place on the higher levels, which were a bit more advanced than the cannons hiding in the walls of the lower levels. Floors four and above had a secondary line of coding that prevented any access without prior notice. Anyone who tried to crack through it would just be shunted, at best, to the outside of the building. It wasn't unheard of for people to be locked out of the System for up to twenty-four hours for any attempt. He'd once asked an operator how the code was so uncrackable and received a bunch of technobabble about "revolving firewall" and "six seconds". He'd asked about why it hadn't covered the bottom four floors, too, but the explanation was even harder to follow than what the coding actually was, so he'd he'd just logged back into the System and prayed the confusion would go away.

    He slid to a halt in front of a panel at the end of a corridor. Again, being part of the Spec Ops gave him certain powers he could use in the System and certain privileges when on a mission. Today, it extended to being able to move to any floor in the Vaults. At that point, it was a tough call to make. They were too few in number to effectively split up, even if he took one of the recruits and Arvensis took the other. If they'd had a couple more people, he would have sent someone to floor ten to work their way down while he worked his way up and hopefully flanked the insurgents. With two recruits in tow, though, he needed them to stick to support as far as possible.

    The second he rematerialized on the fourth floor, he knew something was wrong. The alarms still hadn't sounded and even the basic security was allowed to stick around during lock-down. Instead, what greeted him was a bunch of open doors. The floors of the Vaults held programs of various levels of threat. The fourth floor was one of the intermediate levels. If every door was open, all hell was about to break loose. He slapped his hand on his chest, a cloak coming over him. Active camo, since that was the easiest way Yoshimitsu had found to explain it. It was a cloaking field that made him completely invisible to anyone he didn't want to see him. Kronos, Arvensis and Brittnie would all be able to track him, but any rogue programs wouldn't be nearly as lucky. He flicked his wrist, a pistol forming in his hand.

    What worried Yoshimitsu the most was this niggling feeling he couldn't quite shake. Something, some gut feeling, was telling him that releasing all these programs was just a way to slow them down.
     
  6. Kronos followed the arrows in his AR glasses to the destination, the Vault, veering around corners at speeds well beyond the legal limit within Central City. That didn't matter now, though, as all he cared about was getting where he was needed and giving the required support to the other Special Ops agents.

    Not that he was in any danger of being reprimanded for speeding, the city was essentially shut off from the rest of the System and he was a high ranking user. At least for now. He couldn't afford to screw up and lose his place in the Special Ops; not after he'd gotten a second chance.

    After more speeding through reckless turns, he saw his destination. It hadn't taken him long to get there, but he was sure the other members were already inside. Grinding to a halt in front of the prison, he couldn't help but notice a bright pink Corvette convertible. It stung his eyes to look directly at it. He may not of been a member of Special Ops for long, but he'd heard a few things about someone referred to as "Barbie" and it didn't seem that farfetched to assume that the car belonged to whoever held that nickname.

    Taking a deep breath, Kronos slid off the motorcycle and rushed through the doors that had been blown off the hinges. It only took him a second to notice that the blow had come from outside as the doors were blown inward. "This is Kronos, I'm entering the first floor now, I'll rendezvous with you ASAP."

    He sprinted down the hall, wondering momentarily what the quickest way to the fourth floor would be; as per Yoshimitsu's instructions he would meet up with him there before doing anything else. Then Kronos remembered that it was possible for him to move freely within the Vault during the mission, and he focused on moving up.

    Rematerializing a moment later, Kronos could tell he didn't get quite what he was aiming for. He was on the fourth floor, but Yoshimitsu wasn't in sight, and the floor was a maze of hallways. "Yoshimitsu, I'm on the fourth floor. What's your location? I don't think I'm too far from you." He pulled up his viewscreen again and started doing a quick search for the other Special Ops agents.

    It was then that he really took in his surroundings, which he should have done immediately. The doors, all of them, were open. The young man was far from an expert on the layout of the Vault, but he knew that the fourth floor held some programs with intermediate threat levels, and things wouldn't be easy if they'd all been released.

    He wished he hadn't spoken so loud, anyone within earshot would come to investigate any moment. Silently cursing himself, he backed up to the wall and placed his palms flat against it. A second later, the belt he was wearing sprouted four arachnid-like appendages, they looked sharp, like blades and ended in a devilish looking point. His extra limbs hoisted him off the ground and onto the ceiling, he hoped he could cling to the darkness, if he could find any. Just to be on the safe side, he drew his pistols and began to make his way silently toward where he hoped to find his comrades.
     
  7. (OOC; My currently unrelated introduction post, hereby granted the title 'DS Sucks At Criminal Psychology'.)

    As soon as Archer opened his eyes, he was nearly blinded by the light of his surroundings. Mere seconds earlier, when he had tried to log into Central City, the System had informed him of a lockdown and automatically sent him to a new random destination. And, naturally, this destination had to be the city that Archer despised most of all.

    Sure, there was something to be said for Sýnnefa. The city consisted of several large islands connected by enormous, unbreakable chains, and hung suspended miles above the coastal regions of the main continent, just above the clouds. Spires, cathedrals and other heavily decorated towering constructions covered the flat surfaces of the islands, all made entirely of the same shining white marble, as were the all the roads.

    Between the unobstructed sunlight and the omnipresent reflective marble, the place was entirely too bright for his taste. Sýnnefa was a place for those who had a light heart, a positive attitude and a distinct lack of acrophobia. It was famous for its small shops and boutiques, churches and musea.

    Archer made the gesture of putting glasses on, still blinking heavily. A pair of black polaroid sunglasses instantly formed over his eyes, shielding them from the sun’s virtual rays. It was less of a hassle than manually toning down the luminosity in his settings, plus the glasses outlined his HUD for increased visibility. He moved from his spawn to the railing bordering the edges of the island he was on, and held up his hands to open his HUD. There had been no new messages when he had logged in, not even from his superior Caleb Goldenhirsch, meaning he wasn’t expected at work yet.

    While he was there, he decided he might as well update his journal.

    Lockdown at Central

    With the relative crime rates on that particular site, I’m surprised Central isn´t on lockdown more often. The hub is a major developing ground for hacktivism, and a training space for amateur coders and stealthy criminals alike. However, the specialised law enforcement are usually more than capable of maintaining relative order and keeping the environment habitable. What´s different this time?

    Better keep an eye on the news channel.


    With a slight wave of his hand, the HUD vanished. Archer contemplated on what to do next. He could play another round of Steelfall, a game in which battleframe-clad players participated in sword combat on the Escherian levels of an impossibly tall tower with the strength and direction of gravity changing depending on your location.

    Archer had, however, found that in the tiers of combat he was currently engaged in, official rounds of five versus five players were incredibly time-consuming. Rather than join one now and be at risk of having to leave without completing the challenge, it was probably better to restrict his gaming habit to evenings and weekends.

    ~ ~ ~

    Archer studied the young male intensely from behind the one-way glass.

    Jason Mitchell, caucasian male, eighteen years old. Never arrested before, which didn’t mean he had never participated in other crimes. Caught earlier today attempting to breach the security of an administratory folder with a rather poorly devised hacking construct, which, according to the subject, had not been coded by himself.

    Aesthetically, he resembled a textbook hoodlum, from the stainless white sneakers, the partially torn jeans, black hoodie with cryptic decals, and a clean shaven haircut. He very likely thought highly of his own capabilities, or at least pretended to. Trying to defeat the defensive coding of a government folder with an incredibly buggy beginner’s construct was mental, with a zero percent chance of success. That, and the fact the construct had been devised by his fellow gang members, gave Archer a pretty good idea of the young criminal’s position.

    With a soft touch, the door to the interview room slid open and closed again once Archer had stepped inside. He had removed his coat, leaving him in nothing but a black t-shirt, plain jeans, and black sneakers, making him look entirely unremarkable save for the tattoos that covered his arms.

    The first tattoos had been inked just below the palms of his hands. Stylishly drawn images of the Ouroboros enveloped both his wrists, in perfect symmetry. Right above those, on the upper side of his arms, there were two detailed feathery wings, the joint on the wrist, and the tip of the furthest feather nearly reaching his elbow.

    Like all body modifications, the tattoos could simply be turned off, and Archer usually did so when interviewing anyone whom wouldn’t be impressed by them or wasn’t to be handled through intimidation. For those who considered themselves streetwise, however, the tattoos were meant to make it easier to form a connection between interviewer and interviewee. Many gangs and societies had their own trademark symbol, and since tattoos were no longer a commitment, they were a popular choice.

    The effect of the ink depended on the subject. With the stark contrast between his mundane appearance and the imagery representative of a criminal or, at the very least, augmented past, it could either help in showing someone who was consciously or subconsciously wanting to escape from the situation on the street that escape, into even a juidicial position, was always a possibility.

    On the other hand, for those who were willingly involved in hacker groups, the ink could bring them under the impression that Archer had, at some point in the past, experienced the same types of issues, victories and dangerous situations. This was the approach directly opposite that of direct intimidation; In the largely alpha-oriented society of hackers and criminals, intimidation could have an adverse effect.

    Building a connection in a more relaxed atmosphere in which the subject felt his/her actions or morals would not be dismissed or bejudged, allowing him or her to settle in a more comfortable state of mind, could construct a psychological ground for stealthy retrieval of information. The route, however, was precarious. If the subject realized they were being ‘played’, in most cases, they would return to a highly agressive mindset and information retrieval or moral alteration would become exponentially more difficult.

    At the same time, during an approach like this, Archer had to be careful not to handle an alpha-type in a manner that could be seen as submissive, for the subject’s biological instincts would kick in and they would try to attain a more permanent position of superiority. Challenging or questioning their pretense of superiority would not work either, only on beta- or omega-types. Often the trick was to operate entirely out of the ethological ranking and assume a neutral position with positive expressions.

    All this was part of Archer’s expertise, things he had to deal with profesionally nearly every day. For Jason Mitchell, Acher’s approach would be entirely different. He wasn’t trying to gain information. The boy had a right to know what had been done to him, in case he hadn’t figured it out for himself. He was simply conveying the message he’d been told.

    Maintaining eye contact, Archer seated himself opposite the young gangster. He wasn’t physically constrained with handcuffs or the like, but any motion meant to hurt his interviewer would result in a powerful pain synthesis jolt. Jason looked uncomfortable, by now aware of the severity of the crime he had committed. ‘My name’s Archer.’ He introduced himself.

    ‘I’m gonna give it to you straight, Jason.’ He continued immediately in a businesslike tone. ‘You know what you did, and you know what the penalty is for it. You can’t get credit by telling on your gang’s activities even if you wanted to, because there really isn’t anything you can tell us we don’t already know. The only reason I’m here is because I’ve got something to tell you that might make you think twice about moving back in with your ‘friends’ as soon as you’re free.’

    Blunt, direct, straight to the point; He had made his presence and intentions clear, established a tone, and he clearly had the subject’s attention. Jason Mitchell narrowed his eyes. ‘What are you talking about?’ He replied suspiciously.

    ‘I’m talking about the construct your fellow gang members sent you off on this mission with.’ Archer said. ‘It sucked. Incredibly slow, buggy, and poorly made. Your resident hacker probably didn’t spend more than two minutes on it.’ He continued. ‘But that’s not what’s important. We think your friends knew how shitty it was, and that’s why they gave it to you.’

    ‘What the hell you tryin’ to say?’ Jason said, eyeing him with certain disdain. Archer knew that it would take a certain amount of convincing to tip the scales in his favour, but there was a chance the boy already had his own- probably suppressed- suspicions. If that was the case, hopefully those suspicions could be exploited. 'I'm saying some of your fellow members might not like you as much as you think they do. Hacking the System with this gear? It's like a suicide mission. It happens more often than you'd think. Gangs want to get rid of someone, so they send them on a discrete mission with a high-priority target. The, point being, there' s practically no chance of success. They let you get caught, so that you are at thevery least gone for a while.'

    Jason opened his mouth to retaliate, but, for the moment, seemed to be at a loss for words. 'C'mon, Jason, think. Were they overly nice before you left? Did they smile at you? Pat you on the shoulder, grinning?' Archer said. Jason' s gaze flickered from him to the table and back. 'My mates wouldn't try shit like that on me.' He huffed, his body language betraying his insecurities. 'They wouldn't...' He couldn't think of a reason.

    ‘Did you ever trash-talk anyone? Talk shit about higher-ups? Demand promotion, increased share?’ Archer listed. ‘Those sorts of things upset people, sometimes even enough to demand someone’s removal. And what’s a better way of getting rid of someone in the long run than handing them over to law enforcement?’

    He could tell his harsh words were hitting home. His strategy of immediate, direct reasoning appeared to be paying off. Jason stared angrily at the surface of the desk. ‘Those sons of bitches...’ He said softly to himself, looking shaken.

    ‘Well, now you know.’ Archer said, rising from his seat. ‘If you have any more questions regarding your trial, I’d like to refer you to the bill of rights that has been sent to you via the private messaging syste-’ Archer droned before Jason interrupted him. ‘Wait!’ He exclaimed. ‘What the hell am I supposed to do? I can’t go back to those fuckers!’

    Archer sat down again. ‘Funny you should ask. We have established a new program for ex-delinquents, and we’ve been looking for additions...’

    ~~~

    A young, red-haired woman was waiting for him outside of the interview room. She had freckles, defined features, and light brown eyes. Archer had seen her around the main law enforcement offices spread across hubs, but had never worked alongside her.

    ‘That was a nice job in there.’ The woman complimented him, with a slight nod to Jason, who still appeared to be mulling his thoughts over. She extended her hand. ‘Hannah.’ She introduced herself. Archer shook her hand. ‘Archer.’ He replied.

    ‘I’ve recently been upgraded to Management Directive under the new reorganizations, and it just so happens you’ve been assigned to me.’ Hannah explained. ‘I noticed you were interviewing, and decided to come take a look. Aren’t you normally assigned to Psych?’

    Archer nodded. ‘Criminal Psychology is my specialty. But I’m not one for only reading the books and reports. Interviews grant me a more practical view of the field.’ He told her in turn. His involvement with both sides of the law was rare, although not unheard of.

    ‘I admire that.’ Hannah stated. Archer could hear by the tone of her voice that she was being genuine. ‘I see too many analytical people in this institution with their noses constantly in their HUDs. Of course, researching material is important, but what we seem to forget all too often is that everyone we deal with is still a human being.’

    Archer nodded again. ‘I share your views exactly.’ He said. ‘Do you have any administratory matters to discuss with me? I assume all matters of payment and communication directives have already been taken care of.’ Hannah smiled at him. ‘No, you’re free to go. Take care.’

    ~~~

    Archer lowered himself into the lounge chair.

    In his left hand was a small glass of liquor, with all the bittersweet hazelnut, but none of the unfortunate consequences of consumption. In his right hand was a book, not written on the intangible pages of his HUD, but a live hardcover copy of the novel that had been sent to him to be carefully and systematically judged and rated. He preferred the touch and weight of real paper, and the books were relatively easy to have coded.

    This was his nighttime job, so to speak. He didn’t partake in it for the extra credits it earned him, since his lifestyle was accounted for by his law enforcement occupation. No, he did it because he liked it. Even as a child, whenever he had a spare moment, he would read books from centuries ago, tales of far, unknown lands with mysterious civilizations, and of impossible creatures and figures of myth.

    He loved it.

    Of course, only very rarely were the newly written books he was issued even close to such levels of qualities. Most of them were from aspiring writers, civilians who wanted to share their experiences of gaming, or who wanted to try their hand at gripping crime thrillers. There were pleasant surprises, but only sometimes.

    Apart from all that, it was a way to relax before he had to log out for sleep. It usually took him three evenings to finish a book, and one more to write and publish the report to the public.

    Archer took a sip of the liquor, and opened the blank cover to read the title.

    Tails of Fantasia; A Feline’s Fantastic Adventures!

    Oh, boy.
     
  8. StellarWind Elsydeon

    StellarWind Elsydeon Armblades Ascendant
    Staff Member Administrator

    If there is one thing that Arvensis’ years in The System taught him, it was that there are always multiple ways to achieve a goal, and that the most straightforward solution may not always be the best one.

    And so, rather than make for the entrance, Arvensis made for the roof. It would be a smart idea to have at least one person start from the top and work their way down – capture the insurgents in a pincer movement, if you will – and Arvensis suspected that Yoshimitsu thought of that, too. He probably would have sent someone up there anyway if he had more people – but with all of two other agents that were fairly green, Yoshimitsu would doubtlessly have his hands full making his way up the Vaults and need all the backup he can get.

    Especially if the insurgents were going to release things the further up they moved.

    There was a variety of countermeasures in place against entering the vaults via anything but the main gate – but there always were. His special ops clearance would cut through a few of them with ease. His silent approach would prevent detection by most of the observational target-locking devices installed on the roof, saving him the need to transmit identification codes – though by this point the devices could be compromised. Would be a creative thing to do, commandeer the security system and utilize it to possibly extract access data for later. There was no way to tell just how creative these insurgents were – but again, it was better to be safe than sorry.

    Arvensis touched down on the roof, the faint hum of the thrusters fading out. There was no direct way in or out of the tenth floor except via the secured elevator system – one which was not connected to the roof – and for a good reason. The tenth floor held only one specimen, under the most extreme security the vaults could offer. Merely entering the tenth floor required clearances that were beyond the reach of virtually anyone in the System – and even if one had the clearances, they would be potentially putting themselves in great peril.

    Arvensis had his ways in, of course – at least to the entrance area of the floor, where any visitors would have to part with their security detail. The nature of the threat demanded that as few people as possible entered that floor – and the nature of the intricate security system that followed demanded that the few allowed to enter progressed one person at a time, in a single file.

    That is because most of the tenth floor was not even inside the building.

    The singular vault door that dominated the tenth floor’s view was, in fact, a portal to a series of modular scanner cubicles located in a specifically isolated part of The System. The equipment within was designed to not only produce a deep scan of an individual’s code, but also access the life sign monitors of their actual body out in what remained of the real world. Any detected aberration would seal the cubicle and isolate it completely, its contents to be handled on a case-to-case basis as it was replaced with an identical cubicle. Only after passing a gauntlet of such cubicles would a visitor be allowed to enter the final containment chamber – and even then, they would stand well clear of the containment capsule – a capsule sealed in a zone where no data can possibly exist – and be wrapped in multiple layers of protective gear. No one was allowed to handle the containment capsule – or to be exposed to its code in anything but small segments. The nature of the threat did not allow it.

    The Thing on the Tenth Floor was a fairly simple program. Its simplicity was deceptive, however: it was possibly the most dangerous program that ever existed in the System. No one was altogether certain where it came from - or how it evolved to become The System’s only truly successful mass-scale virus, capable of infecting programs and users alike. Whatever its origins, following its catastrophic outbreak years ago it came to be known as the MCP – the Master Control Program. The name was a reference to a similar, fictional program from an old, 20th century work - though in truth, all the MCP had in common with its namesake was its capability to evolve beyond its initial goals, its apparent ambition to assimilate and enslave the entire System… and its red code-type, a phenomenon unique to the MCP and its hosts.

    That was the reason for the heightened security. A single infected user - or program – was not a threat if the outbreak was contained and stopped right there, while the MCP was still in its most simple form. The MCP was no ordinary virus - the more it infected others, the more it appeared to increase in complexity, using the data structure of its hosts to evolve itself, binding the minds of the more intelligent hosts into a singular awareness – a central core coordinating all its hosts in an advanced, purposeful manner. If the data analysis from the previous breakout was to be believed, the MCP may have had the capability to influence the real life bodies of infected users in some way as well – though the extent it could do so was still largely unknown. To release this thing again was beyond criminal.

    Arvensis was still hoping the insurgents were aiming for the ninth floor instead. Surely, no one could be crazy enough to release the MCP upon the world again?

    … if there was another thing that Arvensis’ years in The System taught him, it was never to underestimate the extent of insanity the System's user base could perpetuate. And certainly NEVER to call them Shirley.

    ~*~​

    Something changed. The seal has been broken.

    Within one of the containment chambers of the fourth floor something stirred, released from a long containment. Actually, three different things in three different chambers – three things that were parts of the same thing, isolated from each other to contain them. Each individual was dangerous on its own right, but when all three united their true destructive potential could be unleashed.

    And now they were free, and they were instinctively drawn to each other, seeking to reunite at long last.

    The creatures were pale in color and could be compared, In terms of body shape, to long-tailed weasels. However the resemblance ended there. Their heads were elongated muzzles with long, pointed ears and a visor-like ocular strip running along their face where eyes should be. Their shoulders – protected by thick, platelike scutes were large enough to frame their heads. As a rule, they had no arms to speak of – only an array of short gripping tentacles. However, each of the programs featured a singular, curved and wicked looking sickle blade that grew on the tip of a muscled appendage formed of a cluster of longer tentacles. One of the creature’s blade appendages emerged from the center of the tentacles mass on its right shoulder. The second was a mirror image of the first, blade emerging from the left. The final creature’s blade appendage projected from tip of its tail.

    Finally the creatures found each other, their gripping tentacles holding on to each other, blades extended forward, forming a wheel with outward-facing blades which began spinning rapidly, launching itself forward rapidly. There were other things on this floor – and now that it was complete again, the Kamaitachi program started to do what it did best.

    Hunt them down and hurt them.
     
  9. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    "Kronos, recalibrate the filters on your visor," Yoshimitsu said. Any Spec Ops agent was given a standard issue visor to use in order to keep contact with any other agents on the field. Those that didn't use them tended to have their own means of locating allies. If Kronos or Brittnie weren't using them... "You are using a location code, aren't you? I'm under a cloak."

    He resisted the urge to run his hands down his face, even though it was extremely tempting. It was just a rookie mistake, he knew. Remembering to bring along the visor if they didn't have another means... Yoshimitsu would be the first to admit that he'd forgotten the visor existed on a lot of his early missions. Still, he was annoyed. For agents trying to prove themselves, they should have done that first thing. As much as the visors restricted a full range of view, it was worth it. They could be dispelled in a firefight, after all.

    "Kronos, Brittnie, activate your visors if you haven't already," Yoshimits ordered as he rounded a corner. "I'm further into the vault than you are, but I'm sending a constantly updating map to you both. When you've memorized it, delete what you have so far."

    The air was still eerily quiet. Given the sheer number of doors that had been opened, he'd expected to have run into at least one hostile program by now. No matter how much of an optimist he was, he still wasn't hoping that the programs had been killing each other. Their luck never went that way. Especially not if these insurgents were as good hackers as he thought they were. There was every chance they'd stop to reprogram the violence parameters of any programs they'd released so that they'd target the Spec Ops agents and nothing else.

    As if on cue, he narrowly avoided being skewered by a curved blade that slammed into the wall just in front of him. It was just bad luck, since his cloak was still up, but it was enough to make him worry already. Jumping back, the only thing he was really registering was a flurry of blades that where whirling down the corridor. He slid a small switch on the side of his pistol, activating one of his extra ammunition powers. Any bullets fired from the gun would be surrounded in a small field that reached negative one hundred degrees, freezing anything they impacted. He took aim at the whirling blades in front of him and fired all twelve shots from the clip.

    The cloak surrounding him flickered and faded after three shots. Some of the bullets hit the blades, freezing a small section of the metal but bouncing off. At least four hit the writhing mass of tentacles underneath, having a much more lasting effect. Movement was halted and covered in ice, vulnerable and just waiting to be smashed. Yoshimitsu didn't stop moving, though. Without the cloak, he was vulnerable, an easy target. He jumped back, letting the anti-grav in his shoes keep him sliding further back as he landed, and slapped the side of his gun to have it reload.

    "Let's see how you deal with some pyrotechnics," the lithe boy said, his spare hand suddenly lit up with swirling red and orange. He thrust his palm forward, a fireball exploding from the lines that flowed around his hand. Though not his fastest attack, the frozen parts of the program in front of him were slowing down its overall reaction time. His aim was as good as it always was and the fireball hit the bulk of the frozen parts of the program, exploding violently and sending chunks of it smashing against the walls.

    As the debris settled, Yoshimitsu noticed his mistake. He should have known, there weren't that many programs that he could describe as "a whirling mass of blades", even if there were only three. The Kamaitachi program, either a combined whirlwind of death or three seperate entities that could divide and conquer. On a normal day, he wouldn't have thought twice about hunting down the three seperate pieces that the program was currently dividing itself into. Today wasn't a normal day, though. If he stalled around here too long, their main targets could finish whatever mission they were on.

    "This is Yoshimitsu. The Kamaitachi program is loose on the third floor, currently seperated into three pieces. Brittnie, Kronos, I want you two here to contain or destroy it. I need to keep climbing the vault," Yoshimitsu ordered as he reapplied his cloak. One of the pieces of the program had fled right in front of him, the other two taking adjoining paths that kept them split up. "Arv, if you're receiving this, any updates?"
     
  10. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    Brittnie materialized on the fourth floor, visor on. She could see where Yoshimitsu was located, and saw that he was forging ahead, leaving behind Kronos and herself to clean up the Kamaitachi program. She brought up a brief description of the program on her hot pink visor, seeing it in its various “modes.” Brittnie recalled a few bits of knowledge about the program from earlier training. The program was currently separated, which made the program both easier and harder to deal with at the same time.

    Clearing away the information on her target/s, Brittnie continued forward. Her right shoulder bulged, a bubble of sorts forming beneath her body suit. The blob oozed down her arm and into her hand, taking form and hardening, leaving Brittnie with a pistol. She held the weapon at the ready and stepped into the maze of the fourth level, keeping a small window with the layout open in the corner of her visor.

    Every cell door was open, but it seemed that no other program was to be found. Still, there was always the chance of something else lurking in the varying corridors. It wasn’t until she had made it about halfway through that she picked up a sound, a sort of chittering. She approached the next corner cautiously.

    Once at the edge she waited for a moment, hearing the sound stop. Biting her lip, she swung around and aimed her pistol, finding nothing. The chittering sounded behind her, causing her to spin around. A curved blade stuck into her shoulder, but barely. More blades came, small like the first, but they also seemed to barely embed themselves just enough to stay in. Brittnie cried out each time, but she gritted her teeth and endured it - the pain was nothing compared to what she’d feel if she hadn’t been using what she liked to call Level One Protection. A sound like rubber stretching was made by her arm as she raised it at the tentacled-mammal-blade-creature. She fired several rounds at it as it scurried for cover - several of the rounds pinged off of blades.

    Wincing, she quickly plucked the blades and dropped them on the ground, pursuing the program. It halted and flung itself at her, forcing her to duck underneath it at it flew overhead. Kneeling, she took aim once again and fired more rounds. A piece of something went flying off of the program and it screeched, flinging itself at her again. Falling onto her back, she watched as it shot through the air above her like a buzzsaw. She rolled back off of her back into a standing position and let more bullets fly, only to be sliced again, this time on her leg. The program was fast, and was good at staying in close quarters.

    Destroying the program wasn’t really what she wanted to do. Incapacitating it somehow was what she would prefer to do. There must be a reason to have it locked up instead of destroyed. Still, it was trying to destroy her, and she’d be in more trouble if it joined up with any of the other two. That’d be way bad.

    More blades shot her way, which she spun on the heels of her pink boots to avoid. It flew at her once more, which she avoided, and then it ricocheted off the wall and flew at her again using the momentum it had. No time to dodge, she jumped to Level Four.

    *Thunk*

    Brittnie toppled over, expression frozen on her face. Actually, everything was frozen stiff it seemed. She looked like a statue someone had knocked over. Even her hair, each individual blonde strand perfectly frozen. This was only momentarily though, she would be in an even worse situation than the one she had just narrowly avoided if she stayed like that. She went back down to Level One, regaining her flexibility, and rolled into a crouch, pistol aimed at the program as it too recovered from having hit a solid object. The Kamaitachi program was effective in staying within close quarters, and it wouldn’t be too long until it got another shot like the last one, and Brittnie may not have a fast enough reaction the next time. Her plastic pistol melded back into itself as more polymer buldges appeared and dribbled down her arm to join the once-pistol. It took a new, longer shape and solidified. Brittnie gripped the katana with two hands and held it ready in a stance.

    I’m, like, Uma Thurman, she thought to herself.

    The enemy program attacked and the fight turned into a clash of blades. Brittnie wasn’t an expert or the best at any one thing, except shopping, and being pretty, but she was pretty good at most things relevant to her job. She was an okay shot in operative terms, which meant she while she was better than the majority of System users, she was a bit lackluster in marksmanship ability next to Yoshi or some of the others. The same applied to her swordsmanship. But she wasn’t going to allow herself to get beat by some grodie little mutant ferret.

    Stretching sounds filled that air along with the clashes of metal as the confrontation continued. She was doing a good job at blocking the Kamaitachi program’s further attempts at impaling her, but she wasn’t making much progress otherwise. Yoshimitsu needed her support on the next level. This thing wasn’t even so bad compared to what was locked up above them.

    Having enough, Brittnie waited till the program was ready to launch itself at her again. She raised her weapon above her head and charged it with more polymer substance, changing it into a different, heavier, claymore-like sword. Brittnie brought it down on the program as it flew at her, tentacles writhing. It was smacked into the floor, hard. In a lucky break an open cell was on her right, and seeing her opportunity, and with a huff of frustration, Brittnie punted the thing into the cell, closing the door to trap it in.

    “Like, finally,” Brittnie muttered as she summoned a reflective holoscreen in front of her. Leaning in, she inspected the damage from when she was hit in the face. There was a visible mark across her face. Her jaw dropped slightly and her brow furrowed as she traced it with a pink-gloved finger. It wasn’t like a scratch on something organic, more like a scratch on a car. The other marks on her body were the same.

    Closing her eyes, Brittnie’s body relaxed, and her face suddenly flushed with color, no longer looking like the face on the cover of a magazine. Her eyes opened, looking slightly duller and less glassy. Level Zero. The marks were gone. Thank goodness. Of course it’s what she expected to happen. Her body healed when she returned to the land of the organic, but if she let herself get too damaged in any of her synthetic states then she wouldn’t fare so well.

    Going back to Level One, she stood and waited for a moment, dismissing the screen and checking in with the rest of the team.

    “Locked one part of the Kimatochi program in an empty cell,” she said, still slightly out of breath. “Will rendezvous with Kronos and find the other programs.”

    As she spoke a clattering sound was filling the hallways. All of the spent rounds and casings she had created were rolling towards her, melding back with her. There was a limit to how much synthetic polymer she could expend, so she always needed to take time to summon it back to her. Thankfully, things fired and ejected from a pistol were tiny, but every little bit counted.

    She reformed her pistol and turned the heavy claymore back into a katana, looking like a bad B-movie heroine as she scoured the corridors for signs of Kronos or another piece of the Kamaitachi program. Either would probably find her soon enough, she hadn’t exactly been quiet.
     
    #10 Sem, May 28, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2013
    Stargrounds likes this.
  11. StellarWind Elsydeon

    StellarWind Elsydeon Armblades Ascendant
    Staff Member Administrator

    "I'm on the Tenth floor. Everything seems quiet. Silent as the grave, in fact. The system records shows no attempts to access the containment chamber - either the insurgents have not reached this floor yet or they masked their trails really well. Either possibility warrants maintaining a presence in this floor."

    Arvensis surveyed the tenth floor's entrance hall. Just as he remembered it - bright white and sterile, large enough for a full security detail to take positions and secure the passage. The only features of the hall were the elevator door on one wall and the enormous vault door on the opposite wall, dwarfing the elevator door in size. The vault door itself was protected by a large number of codes and security algorithms. Some of these locks, he knew, required biometric keys that had to be turned in tandem. Any attempt to access the door was logged and encrypted. The security clearances needed to open the vaults were legendary.

    But no security system is flawless. Arvensis knew this - and so would the insurgents.

    "Keep me posted. If you need further backup, I can send a few Gemini Beta units in."
     
  12. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    "Did the Ops agree to putting your security mojo in as well?" Yoshimitsu asked. He genuinely wasn't sure about this one. That was the thing about Arv, he'd joined the Spec Ops through a completely different method than the rest of them. It was the emergency protocol. If there was ever an emergency that threatened the existence of the System itself, Operators would promote anyone and everyone who could be useful to the System to Spec Ops or even an Operator. It was rare, almost unique. In the history of the System, there were only a handful of individuals who had been promoted this way. Arvensis just happened to be one of them.

    Yoshimitsu had gone through the normal routine - someone had noticed him, he'd proven himself and been promoted, and he'd risen through the ranks through pure skill and determination. The guy who'd suggested him had died during the last major incident, his mind warped and twisted until Yoshimitsu himself had to pull the trigger. It had been a dark day for everyone involved. Even so, he'd risen the ranks out of respect for his mentor. Getting lazy or complacent would have just been pissing on his mentor's grave, as far as Yoshimitsu was concerned.

    Arvensis, though... Arvensis has always been special in his own way. He came from what the Operators liked to call the garbage dump. A place for all of the 'useless' programs to be shoved into so that they could die. To everyone else, though... Well, Arvensis had always told the tale much better than Yoshimitsu.

    The fact of the matter, though, was that Arv was good. Sure, he'd been assigned to Spec Ops under the emergency protocol but there was no denying his pure skill with the coding of the System. That was the thing, though. Where Arvensis came from, programs adapted. All those 'useless' programs had adapted and evolved. There was a full ecosystem going on. It was kind of incredible. All those programs that the Operators had deemed a waste had proven that they could survive. It wasn't like the Vaults, where the programs were dangerous. It was just life. Life, finding ways to survive.

    Because Arvensis had spent roughly ninety-five per cent of his System life there, his expertise with alternative coding was pretty much peerless. If the Operators hadn't got his input with the defenses on the Vaults...

    Yoshimitsu gritted his teeth and kept moving.
     
  13. OoC: I'm really sorry I've been afk, guys. I hope you aren't too upset with me. I've recently undergone a big move into a new place and things have been sort've up in the air recently. Everything is finally settling down now, though, so I'm getting back into the swing of things.

    BiC:

    Kronos sighed, it was a rookie mistake and not one he could afford to make. Not when he was being evaluated on his every action and there was so much riding on this mission. It was not a time for stupid mistakes. Running a hand over his face, half out of exasperation with himself and half to activate his visor. He flipped through the various modes until he found the filter he wanted; his fellow operatives' locations lit up on screen. It seemed like the closest to him was Brittnie, but that was information already established by Yoshimitsu.

    He looked up and saw a small circle indicating Yoshimitsu's location, that was where he needed to go as soon as he could help Brittnie get this program under control. For a moment he couldn't help feeling like he was being put at the "kid's table" while Yoshimitsu and Arvensis dealt with the biggest threat. Shaking himself from his momentary annoyance, he took a deep breath; if this was how he was going to prove himself ready, then he was going to do a damn good job.

    He continued to scurry along the corridors, his extra limbs making fast progress through the maze, growing ever closer to Brittnie's "ping" on his visor. They needed to rendezvous and hunt down the program together, if it was dangerous enough to be locked up in the vault, then there was no reason to go up against it alone.

    Brittnie wasn't far from his current location, now, and Kronos allowed himself to relax, for a split second. It was that split second that his enemy decided to attack. It made a whirring sound, like a blender, and it was the sound that saved the inexperienced operative's life. He turned just in time to notice the program lunge at him, and immediately he detached himself from the ceiling and landed in a crouch on the ground. Where he had been on the ceiling, there was a spinning mass of blades shaving away layers of the paint, but the walls were reinforced, it was a prison after all, the most the program could do was leave scratches on the wall.

    As soon as he landed, he raised his pistols above his head and fired, the disappointing ping of bullets meeting steel; the whirling blades deflected the bullets like they were flies. Realizing his futility, Kronos tossed his pistols aside and the appendages extending from his belt melded together, as if the steel were made of liquid. In the place of the arachnid-like-blade-limbs was now a scythe, Kronos reached down and grabbed it, it detached from the belt and the operative twirled it in his hands. Everything happened within a few seconds. Just in time for the piece of the Kamaitachi to turn back on its target.

    Once more the blender-like creature rushed forward; Kronos spun the scythe and deflected several blades, but not all of them. A blade made it past his defense and the operative had to flip back to avoid getting gutted, instead he received a small cut across his chest as he moved out of the way. Overconfidence was going to get him killed; he should have known he wasn't going to be able to block all those attacks simultaneously.

    Switching to a one-handed style, Kronos kept his left hand free for another purpose. He feigned left and then dashed forward, striking with the scythe. The attack was, of course, blocked, but it left just enough of an opening for what he intended to do. He flipped over the creature and tapped his left palm against it for a second as he passed. It seemed to slow, then, as if weighted down. It was still fast, but not nearly as fast as it had been.

    "You're a tough one, I'm gonna need to get a few more hits in before you stop."

    He repeated the process; using his scythe to produce openings in its defense, while landing quick palms against it. Just as Kronos had control of time in Greek mythology, the operative had a similar ability. He quickly inserted bits of code that slowed down the reaction time of whatever he touched, with weaker enemies he could freeze them immediately, but with something this complex he had to land multiple hits. After enough time, the program froze.

    The operative caught his breath, fresh blood oozed from the cuts he'd received during his scuffle, but the program was halted. "I'd prefer to keep you in one piece, but better safe than sorry." He raised his scythe for the final blow, but something unexpected happened; the third piece of the program jumped him. The creature pushed Kronos away from the frozen piece, once the man was backed up enough, it turned and fled, "rescuing" it's second part as it ran down the corridor. Kronos' pistols lay on the ground, the operative dove and scooped them up, firing after the two pieces of the Kamaitachi program, to no avail.

    "This is Kronos, I nearly incapacitated a piece of the Kamaitachi program, but another piece managed to get in the way. Brittnie, I'm running after them, catch up to me, I've got a feeling I'm gonna need your help."

    "That piece isn't going to stay frozen much longer." He thought, reloading his pistols and fixing his scythe back onto his belt, once more using the appendages for better speed racing after the program.
     
  14. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    "Roger that," Brittnie said, eying Kronos' location on her visor. So, the remaining two pieces were together. That made things easier and harder at the same time. This was taking too long. Yoshi may be a veteran user, but even he was going to need some help sooner or later.

    With Kronos on the tails of the enemy program Brittnie was able to play the catch up game instead of the caution game. As she ran she bumped up her synthetic body to level two, which added a few layers to her body and reinforced her synthetic muscles. Thin layers, of course. She didn't wanna look fat. Not only was there a slight increase in her stamina and defensive properties, but level two amplified her strength and her speed. Not to any ridiculous levels, but she could well outrun any Olympian and push a car around a bit in this phase.

    Brittnie sped through the maze at blinding speed, taking a couple wrong turns and hoping no one noticed. It wasn't before too long at all that she saw Kronos up ahead, chasing after the program. She was about caught up to him when from around the corner up ahead she saw a chaotic frenzy of blades ricocheting its way towards Kronos.

    "Watch out for the Tamagotchi!" she exclaimed, running past him and shoving him harder out of the way than she had intended. She forgot she was stronger. Except now she was losing her stat boots by jumping back up to level four like she had before, this time bracing herself against the blow as her body froze into a state that allowed her to withstand high velocity impacts. Like falling off a building, or being hit by a car. Probably not a train though. Thankfully this wasn't a train.

    The blow bounced off of her and didn't pass thanks to the close quarters of the hallway. Whether or not Kronos needed her to guard him hadn't crossed her mind - she had acted impulsively once again. She hoped he wouldn't hold it against her. To be fair this was her first time seeing him so she could pass it off as not being aware of his skill set.

    Brittnie went back down to level two instead of one, feeling two was more appropriate for a stronger foe. Turning to Kronos, she quickly introduced herself.

    "Hi, I'm Brittnie!" she exclaimed, sounding like a yellow-dressed princess from an old video game. She would've gone into more appropriate introductions but the Tamagotchi was rearing for another attack. It knew it couldn't run from two foes, and so with flight out of the picture, the only option was fight. Now that Brittnie had a partner she fell into her support mentality. She excelled in support attacking and in defense.

    "Let me take the hits while you attack," Brittnie explained. "I'll attack when I can, but my main objective will be to guard you. You can even use me as a weapon if you, like, want to, but I'm waaaay heavy when I'm level four and I can't move in that state. Let's, like, not keep Yoshimitsu waiting any longer."

    OOC: To avoid needlessly dragging this out you can auto me. Not saying you should finish this in your next post but this'll help keep it simple.
     
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