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Live Fire Testing (Complete)

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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Cynical_Aspie March 19th 2023, 1:49 am

Meanwhile, at the other side of the plant, an explosion sounded out as something blasted its way out of the panic room and to the surface. The squad cars that covered that part of the plant were effortlessly blasted away by a few of the reconfigured GOPPERTs, and right behind them, out of the hole in the wall, rode Doctor Amelia Frey Franz-Bernstein on one of them, the thrusters on the model propelling her well beyond effective pistol range within seconds.

In the panic room lay the corpse of the corrupt executive, Frank Sanchez, his head cleanly blasted off by an energy weapon, surrounded by every single record of transaction between himself and Global Armaments. Amelia could only think "Good riddance to you."

Preoccupied by the massive atomic blast that obliterated every Solarwind in their path, the only thing left was a blasted up torso. Mercury promptly put her foot on the remains of the combat android, rapidly assimilating its matter into her form. Perhaps warned off by the Meta near her, the SWAT team held its fire following an initial burst of bullets that seemed to be fired out of reflex than intent. Fully reconstructed and operational, Mercury looked down at the Meta.

VITAL SIGNS: FAINT

INJURIES: BROKEN SHOULDER, STAB WOUND

BLOOD LOSS: MODERATE

THREAT: ZERO

"Your power levels are low. Near death - you require the energy you expended to function," Mercury observed. "All calculations dictated that the officers would have sought cover in time, yet you deliberately risked death. Illogical."

Her eyes were drawn to the SWAT team that were holding her at gunpoint, but they didn't fire. With one hand, Mercury lifted Stareater with ease, while the other tore a piece of the harness off. Her right arm split an extra limb to fashion a makeshift tourniquet from the piece before she jumped up, Stareater in hand, and phased partway into the rock.

"Logic only carries so far," a Sergeant yelled. "Not that I'd expect a machine to understand."

"A machine," Mercury echoed. "I am whatever the Creator requires me to be."

"Place Stareater down immediately," the SWAT Captain said.

"I am not bound to your orders, but...," Mercury said, looking at the girl in her hand once more before surrounding her hand on Stareater's wrist computer. "My business here is concluded. Styptic and suture kit is the bare minimum to stop her bleeding."

Her liquid metal made contact with the hardware and, by extension, interfaced with the software. The code flew before her optical sensors, integrating into her own code.

Reading and copying the code from Stareater's power monitor into her systems allowed her to immediately track her power levels and current input/output in real-time, alongside her projected power use. Stretching her free hand upwards, she gave a back of the harness a good hit with a precision cutting laser, jumping the levels up a few percentage points before moving Stareater over to the SWAT team. Impassively, she watched as one began to move with a First Aid Kit. Mercury's calculations projected that even with the power boost, Stareater would no longer be combat capable.

Mere nanosecond observation of the surroundings told her there were at least fifty different ways she could dispatch everyone in the room. Still, the termination of all officers and Stareater were discretionary choices she was given rather than orders to carry out. And assimilating the coding from Stareater's computer would be sufficient should their paths cross again. With one last glisten of the moonlight through the blasted out window, Mercury phased the rest of her body out of the room.

"Perimeter! Get medics in!" the captain ordered.

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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Sage March 20th 2023, 10:47 pm

Live Fire Testing (Complete) - Page 2 045667731c434448c7c33322bc8b7a1a

Stareater getting thrown around, feeling too weak to stand up and have her back zapped was too much in too little time. All she could do as the creature hauled her up to the officers was write and squirm and choke back a scream as her broken shoulder was agitated. She wanted to fry it, to render it nothing more than subatomic dust on the wind with another blast, but she was only at 11% after the laser shot to the back. The minimum she needed to fire a projectile was 3%, and that would be too much to ask in her condition. All of the androids were gone, and the SWAT officers weren’t in immediately danger. That was good, but blood was starting to soak through Astrid’s suit. She lit herself on fire to keep others warm, and it was still freezing.

She hated being helpless like this, hated watching her own work be ripped away from her suit right before her eyes and unable to stop it. It made her feel low, in a kind of way that she thought only one person could make her feel, and that person did not exist anymore- Buried under a mountain of fire and rubble. How wrong she was, then, seeing this monster slip away unharmed and able to get around a power that people rarely ever got around. It made a black pit form in Stareater’s chest, and anger filled it. After Mercury vanished into the wall, Stareater dragged herself upwards, swaying under her own weight and leaning against a wall. Blood smeared across the wall as she limped a single step forward and crashed into something that wasn’t nailed down.

”Get. Me. A. Doctor.” She growled, sounding pissed. Being as empty as she was right now, her voice sounded… Different. Normally she sounded like her voice was pitched inhumanly low and reversed. Now it sounded like there was a layer static over it, which sounded worse when she breathed.

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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Cynical_Aspie March 20th 2023, 11:19 pm

"Stop. That tourniquet's all that's keeping you from passing out from blood loss," the SWAT captain remarked sharply, like an order.

Paramedics and more SWAT personnel flooded in. The SWAT personnel went clearing things out room-by-room, with only the occasionally active GOPPERT as resistance. As this was happening, paramedics were trying to seat Stareater on the ground. There was a syrette of morphine injected subcutaneously to combat the pain in the shoulder, but it would only be a temporary fix until a proper surgery could be performed.

If nothing else, the paramedics were thorough about disinfecting and staunching the stab wound. The blade cut through so cleanly that realigning and stitching the blood vessels closed on the scene was a non-issue. Repairing the muscle tissue would be an entirely different issue, and would require time and quite possibly some nanotherapy to accomplish.

"A machine composted entirely of nanotech," the SWAT Sergeant. "Now I've seen everything. Captain, what if this claim about the factory exec being involved in corporate espionage is true?"

"Irrelevant. The fact is that innocents still got caught in the crossfire, and that the mastermind that used this so-called 'nanomorph' to pull it off is still at large," the SWAT Captain said. "And, if the madwoman is correct about having created a new being, that carries bad news. If it resurfaces, it will be smarter and stronger."

"Captain, this is Team 3. Over," he got on a radio call.

"Copy, Team 3. Send traffic," the Captain said.

"We located the exec. I think. The head was incinerated by some energy weapon. Over," the Sergeant from Team 3 said.

The SWAT Captain sighed. "Acknowledged. Cordon off the area and get Crime Scene on it as soon as possible. Out," he radioed.

The SWAT Captain looked to Stareater and said, "They'll get you to Intensive Care. I'll contact you for a formal debrief after you're discharged."
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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Sage March 20th 2023, 11:39 pm

Live Fire Testing (Complete) - Page 2 045667731c434448c7c33322bc8b7a1a

Stareater did not attempt to stand up again, as the medics eventually got to her and carted her off. She had to slowly explain to each of them that she needed anesthetic intravenously, as the helmet didn’t come off. She informed them that oxygen was not necessary as long as they could give her a good shock with the defibrillator before putting her under.

Roughly half an hour after she was put to sleep, she woke up in a hospital, with her hear sat by her in the room. Astrid was left with nothing of her suit on but her helmet, which was a stark contrast to the hospital gown and sling her arm rested in now. Her arm hurt and her other arm stung, but what stung worse was the sting of defeat. Stareater felt disarmed having been tended to like this, and felt demoralized knowing she couldn’t kill a robot even by ripping its atoms apart.

If she were being honest with herself, she wanted to simply open a window and fly out. But the captain wanted to talk to her, so she stayed.

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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Cynical_Aspie March 21st 2023, 12:42 am

It was a few days of recovery before the SWAT Captain arrived. He was a man in his mid-30s, looked every bit as firm as he had sounded before, with a chiseled look, piercing blue eyes and auburn hair. When he came in, it was with the discharge paperwork, with a list of prescriptions, most intramuscular, but a few that were transdermal.

"You're looking better than before," he said. "Captain Matheson; we met the other night. Crime Scene guys are still working details about the executives, but we've had some luck narrowing our list of suspects on the attack."

Matheson sat on a nearby chair and lowered the patient-side table, setting out a list of manila envelopes.

"Crime scene has confirmed one of the details given by the perp's rant," he confirmed. "Corporate bribery and espionage was being done right under the nose of Apollo Systems, by one of their own executives - that stuff's above my jurisdiction if the attacker was hired by another corporation. There are too many competitors to count. However, we do have a pool of individuals that may have a motive for the attack."

Moving the first photo out, it was of a middle-aged man with brown hair. "Steven Matthews. Former Chief Financial Officer who was fired and litigated after skimming money from the company eight years ago. The motive is solid, but he's unlikely, based on his arrest record," Matheson explained. "He's a business graduate with no academic experiences in the sciences to speak of, plus he's serving time in connection to crime families in New York City, which takes him off the list. That brings us to..."

The next photo was of a woman in her thirties, with a brown bob-cut. "Deborah Anne Sinclair, a former researcher and self-described 'innovator of humanity', fired for a breach in contract. She's been known to kidnap people for cybernetic conversion and hold Apollo employees ransom to further fund her research. Her crime sheet is extensive."

The last photo was of a blue-haired woman with amber eyes. "Doctor Amelia Frey Franz-Bernstein, former head of development for the primary product put out by that factory: GOPPERT combat droids. Apollo's press secretary and directors were tight-lipped about why she was fired, but we suspect there was a project they refused to fund for some reason. Her criminal record is completely clean, though, so we have nowhere but here to start working," Captain Matheson concluded.

"Whoever did it was thorough, and wiped all security camera logs as well as did a full purge of the site's database access," Captain Matheson concluded. "Best we can tell, the break-in was done for purposes of payback, rather than espionage. So it could be either of these two; though this whole 'nanomorph' deal has everyone stumped, and it doesn't fit Sinclair's MO. That leaves Franz-Bernstein one of our main leads."
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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Sage March 21st 2023, 11:55 pm

Live Fire Testing (Complete) - Page 2 045667731c434448c7c33322bc8b7a1a

The good thing about no longer being able to articulate facial expectorations is that Matheson wasn’t able to tell by body language that Stareater was feeling demoralized. Staying in the hospital the last few days, no less than three of the nurses congratulated her on a victory she didn’t even have. People were saved, that much was true. But the bad guy got away, and was out there somewhere putting people ignore danger. It was basically catharsis, then, when he pulled out a file full of suspects that Stareater could mull over.


”Yeah. Corps tend to do lots of stuff under the table with each other like this. I’m not surprised.” She said, ”If I had to guess, it’s Bernstein, or Sanchez, but I’m betting it’s both. The thing about inventing things, especially things that think of themselves, is that you can’t do it overnight. Something bad advanced as a self-healing nanotech robot, which can phase through solid matter like it’s not even there, is something that takes entire rooms full of people to pull off, or a few inhumanly gifted geniuses.” That may have been a bit hypocritical coming from the girl who invented a portal to another reality without help, but she didn’t share that part of the details.

”I’d go and track it down, but my suit is damaged. That blocky thing in the corner over there is a backup battery that I use when I’m in fights or when I make a long trip. The Nanomorph busted it open, and now it barely holds any energy. It’s broken, meaning I’m basically stuck staying around here until I can fix it. So… I guess I’ll be around for a week or two, if something happens to come up and one of these maniacs pokes their head out.”

In all honesty, she didn’t know what she was going to do. She had no tools, no lab, and no workshop to tinker in. The only way she could get help, as far as she knew, was to see if there were any tech-gifted heroes in the area that wouldn’t ask many questions. Stareater hadn’t ever met another hero since the lab exploded, so she wasn’t sure where she’d start on that front.

”I guess it’s time for a break.”

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INV ONLY Re: Live Fire Testing (Complete)

Post by Cynical_Aspie March 22nd 2023, 12:45 am

"Sanchez was taking bribes under the table, for certain," Matheson was said. "But it's unlikely he orchestrated this particular attack, considering that he perished in it. If Global Armaments was keen to tie up loose lips, then whoever they chose was a bad call, what with the rant outing Sanchez as a crook."

Matheson made another look at Stareater, he didn't need a facial expression to tell that she must have felt low. He had enough of his assignments go bad that he simply accepted failure as an inevitability at some point. Work long enough in law enforcement, and you're bound to run into a failure at some point. He only hoped the kid was going to be able to bounce back.

"Don't beat yourself up," Matheson said. "Everyone was caught with their pants down against something like this."

A knock on the door caught Matheson's attention, and he looked up as a man simply came in seemingly without care. The man was Japanese, looked to be in his mid-30s.

"Who are you?" Matheson asked. "You're not supposed to be here."

"I'm well-connected. Was on vacation when I heard about the attack a few nights ago," the Japanese man said. "For the introduction, I am Gai Arisawa - the Fourth President of Arisawa Heavy Industries."

"The defense manufacturer? Then-"

"That's right; some genius is out there making some kind of nanotech," Gai said. "So, fight a genius with a genius."

Gai's finger pointed at Franz-Bernstein's photo. "I met her once before; only woman I know with the genius to pull it off," he said. "She's childish and hates to lose."

"And you know this because...?" Matheson added.

"Well, I'm also childish and hate to lose; that's how I know," Gai said before looking at the harness in the corner, then back at Stareater. "How about a trip on me? Let you borrow one of my labs, and give the thing a tune-up. Whaddya say?"

Gai was going to have so much fun with all this...
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