Hello there readers. I thought I’d put up a post to ensure you all that all is going smoothly and progress in projects are rather swimming. I apologize for not contacting you all for such a while, but I’ve had a considerable amount of boogaloo on my hands and I simply had to get it all filed away before I could get the time to write again. I promise, though, I’m hard at work and certainly not lazing about under a tree or something along those lines- I’ll get back to an uninterrupted schedule soon enough and will then flood you with glorious fictional delights.
Anyway, progress is continuing on Walking the Scar, Nocturna League #5, and The Relic. Today I’ll be throwing you a chapter of not one, but two of these projects!
*Pssst, these are still in rough-draft form, so they definitely don’t represent the final product- I mean just look at those typos!*
Let’s get right to it. Here’s Chapter 3 of The Relic
CHAPTER 3 – THE MISSION PROVES TO BE A RESOUNDING SUCCESS
Asegai leads his companions through a dense, swirling fantasy wood, brimming with the unending cacophony of life afforded by nature’s feral touch. A-95, who is perhaps the very antithesis of this environment, scoffs at the song of the birds, lifts its boot from the grass quickly in disgust, and weighs down extra hard on any insect it encounters. While Asegai and Sun trot pleasantly as guests in this forest, A-95 marches in the fullest intent to do as much damage going through as possible.
“You know,” Asegai says, “I’m certain the denizens of the wood aren’t all that pleased with your racket, Agonist.”
Agonist stomps across the road with even more force. “That pleases me. I’m glad these loathsome worms at least understand when they encounter superiority.”
“Perhaps superior in force, but don’t you think say the birds beat you at some things too?”
“Can any of these birds withstand a solid bolt of lead moving with fifteen point eight arc-tonnes of force propelled via electric charge at five thousand meters per second?”
Sun hums proudly. “Well that depends on the bir-”
Asegai coughs. “No,” he says.
“Can I?” Agonist asks.
“I feel that is a simple enough comparison to support my position.”
“Ahh, yes,” Sun mutters. “But they can sing better than you,” Sun says, flicking out a wrist-bound scanner for a quick second to search for the H.C.C. in the immediate vicinity. She flips it back down the moment Agonist scoffs with a surprisingly human-like tone.
“Again, that’s an aesthetic advantage. Perhaps I’m less appealing to be objectified and placed into a cage to sing, but I fail to see that as being practical in a combat situation.”
“Well…” Sun hums to herself as she effortlessly hops over a fallen tree. “It’s a good aggression diversion tactic.”
“What do you mean?” A-95 blares out through its visor.
“Well, opponents would be less likely to target something so unassuming, that would set the bird up for a sneak attack- the element of surprise!” She raises her fist triumphantly, but the other two are just quiet a moment.
Agonist sighs. “And by what means will this bird attack its opponents. Can those talons shred through synthesized alloys?”
Sun hums, compiles a macaroon, and eats it as she thinks it over. The group turns off the beaten path based on Asegai’s estimates of the H.C.C.’s crash site and jointly leap over a stream. “Yeah good point,” Sun says. “But what if you were fighting something you couldn’t kill?”
“…Like a superior opponent?”
Sun nods as she does another quick scanner flick. “Yeah.”
Agonist’s visor hums faintly. “Perhaps in that singular scenario the bird would be considered superior if said opponent preferred the useless aesthetics of a bird over man made perfection in both design and function- highly unlikely.”
Asegai chuckles. “Regardless, you should treat nature with respect. The things you damage will have to live with that for the rest of their lives, whereas its only a moment for you.”
Agonist’s visor pings humorously. “Good, hopefully the damage will shorten their lives as well… critically so.”
Asegai and Sun exchange an expressionless glance. “Agonist, be gentle, please?”
“Am I to treat this as a directive?” Agonist asks as it steps through a thicket of large branches, splintering and dozing them apart as if they were reeds.
Asegai nods. “Yes. You may only hold a type-2 environment stance unless we get in a serious fight.”
“As you wish, sir,” Agonist says as it steps along with lighter, better-aimed steps. A large fly lands on Agonist. “Combatant detected.” It whirs before activating its kinetic field, disintegrating the fly instantly.
Asegai sighs. “Please, Agonist?”
“Please what? That thing almost tore me in half,” Agonist says bluntly and with the utmost in seriousness.
“Okay, don’t go out of your way to hurt something.”
“…Fine, sir.” With this, Agonist finally starts walking like the other two, not so much in style, but more so in the fact that Asegai and Sun aren’t specifically targeting anything that’s living, and are traveling like relatively normal people.
Before long, they get to a recently-made forest clearing, formed by the H.C.C.’s impact. Amidst the sizzling crater is the H.C.C., glowing a neon blue along its hyper-circuit pathways. The entire crater’s wrapped in a huge fire from the explosion, a human would be killed quickly and painfully, but these three are a bit more tolerant of high temperatures.
“Well, that was easy,” Asegai says with a scoff as he hops the divide into the inferno and slides into the crater.
“It’d be even easier if the Ex-AI could compile a H.C.C., but nooo,” Agonist says as it leans into a tree, causing the tree itself to lean.
Sun huffs. “You know an upgrade like that would have cost more than the entire finder’s fee, right?”
Agonist shrugs as Asegai inspects the H.C.C.. “Right, an upgraded intelligence would have been far more valuable, and cheaper too- definitely the better pick for your… current configuration,” Agonist says.
“Wh- You take that back!”
“I will not. I do not take orders from you- you’re simply my owner’s… regrettable emotional attachment with pastry-creation abilities.”
Sun trembles in anger as Asegai hums. “Oh, is that all it is, Agonist?”
“What do you mean?”
“Set new admin registration,” Asegai says in firmware-speak.
Agonist sighs. “You’ve got to be kidding me… This won’t surpass the prime directive, will it?”
“Install Sun-Chan as new admin, privilege 5. And no, Agonist, if we’re in actual danger you do whatever’s necessary,” Asegai says.
“And so I am given a new false god,” Agonist says just as its firmware pings with the new change to A-95’s registry.
Sun coos. “Well maybe you shouldn’t be given freedom if you’re just going to be a jerk with it. From now on, you shall refer to me as ‘your lady’, and kneel when you speak,” she says haughtily holding a hand to her mouth as if to hide an ungracious smile- something she saw a woman do in a movie once.
Asegai takes a moment to watch the two as Agonist kneels down. “Yes, your lady,” Agonist says, technically following orders.
Sun gasps. “N-no! I mean ‘my lady!’” She corrects.
Agonist scoffs. “Yes, my lady,” it says with a tone of rebellion slight enough to ensure that Asegai and Sun’s inputs couldn’t pick it up.
She nods gaily. “Good doggy! Now help big brother with carrying the H.C.C.”
“Woof.” Agonist takes a single leap to the H.C.C. and looses a small boost upward from his back jets to land gently next to Asegai.
Asegai makes a coughing sound through his voice software. “Right, well I guess you don’t need my help.” He steps aside to allow Agonist full range over the immensely-heavy H.C.C..
“No, I don’t.” Agonist heaves up the core with both arms, firmly pushing its body down an inch into the molten ground as the drizzling clouds above do their finest to put out the large fire.
Asegai nods in relief. “Very good, now let’s start back to the shi-”
*Ping* A-95’s visor interrupts Asegai.
“What is it?” Sun asks.
Agonist drops the H.C.C.. “Life-form, air-bound, approx… one hundred fifty five tons… fast, very fast.”
Asegai jolts. “So heavy… a ship?”
“A living ship?” Sun questions outwardly.
“And what do you mean, ‘fast’, Agonist?”
“It’s still accelerating.”
“Then when will it reach us?”
“… three seconds,” Agonist says, placing a firm hand on its rifle.
The group readies with only a breath’s time before a flying mountain, a great white dragon, parts the clouds and strikes up the H.C.C. in its massive claws. In a fell swoop it takes for the sky with their core and soars to the clouds.
Asegai makes a dexterous leap of about ten meters to grab hold, but misses by an inch. “Agonist, Sun, go!”
Sun points her fabricator to the ground and compiles a piece of lead downward so quickly that the force shoots her up at the H.C.C. and the dragon’s claws. Agonist needs no such finesse, being the only one of the group equipped with a mobility system, it boosts for only half a second before it hits the dragon, grips a claw and aims a shot with its free hand straight for the dragon’s ribcage.
“That’s ours, lizard,” Agonist says the semi-second before a shot fired from someone else’s gun rings through the air.
The shot is aimed not for the lizard, but just next to the H.C.C., right on Sun. With a tearing sound, the giant shot throws the dragon off balance as it skewers one of its claws, throws Agonist right off with the force, and Sun, the poor dear, takes the actual hit. It goes right through her right arm and the side of her torso, the force flinging her a mile off into the nearby mountain-side. Asegai saw all of this happen in one eighth’s of a second. The dragon flies away and Agonist boosts straight for the tree canopy. It then soars across the tops of the trees to the mountain-side, retrieves a gasping Sun, and returns.
“O-oh! The pain! I… I’m so sorry, Asegai… I don’t think I’m going t-”
Agonist drops Sun as it drops to a kneel. “You’re actually going to act like that hurt, my lady?” Agonist asks with a veiled tone of disrespect.
Sun sighs. “Don’t ruin it.”
“Sorry, my lady.”
Sun draws back on the ground and swoons her left arm over her head. “Oh! It’s… I can see the light!”
Asegai coughs. “I think Agonist is right, Sun. We have more important things to deal with.”
Sun sighs again, and gets up to her feet. “You guys are no fun. Fine.”
Asegai nods and looks to Agonist. “So, you have the best scanner, what hit us?”
Agonist stands up from its kneel. “… A ship bound-weapon.”
There’s a collective hum of thought from Sun and Asegai. “The Librarium vessel,” Asegai says. “That would explain how it tore right through Sun-Chan.”
A-95 nods. “Yes sir. Looks like they’re taking a decidedly aggressive stance. I assume their ship is still in air and aiming down range to shoot us out in case we attempt to lift off. Witty range, too, they’re right out of my rifle’s range.”
Asegai rubs his chin. “Smart- I guess they had just enough time to pick up your weapon off their scan and assumed that was the longest range we have… so the ship must be at least in the planet’s stratosphere right now… that would also provide them with a good vantage point in case any of us got airborne.”
“Right, and what’s worse is now they know that lizard has the H.C.C..”
Asegai nods. “So it’s a race to the ship part, then. They’ll have to travel on or near foot as well, considering our own ship would shoot them out.”
Agonist’s visor drones drearily. “For now- their ship-bound weapons have more range than ours, so once they pick out our ship they’ll light it up from orbit, then they’ll be right on us.”
“Then we configured the defense mode properly- The Sakura Sun’ll go evasive the moment it picks up approaching fire, so it’ll keep grabbing new hiding places to keep cover. Thanks to that we can get right to tracking down the H.C.C.,” Asegai says.
Sun crosses a single arm. “I guess so. And it looks like we’ll be walking the whole way!” She says this with a degree of excitement that Asegai finds uplifting, and Agonist finds disgusting.
“Fantastic,” Agonist says. “Now not only do we not know where the H.C.C. is, I can’t go get it, and there’s no way our ship’s childish little pea shooters would have the range to fire at a cloaked Librarium vessel with rail-guns. If it weren’t for me we’d be doomed.”
Asegai taps his foot about the moist ground in thought. “Okay,” he says plainly. “Any suggestions?”
Agonist scoffs. “I’ve calculated the arc of their shot, I could get into their shot-box and draw their fire while you units take the Sakura Sun and get in an attacking position. While it would take me an hour, it would take The Sakura Sun only three minutes to get in firing range. You’d light up their ship, scan, then kill the operatives on the ground- easy.”
“Are you sure you could dodge ship-fire for three minutes?” Asegai asks.
Sun sighs. “Yes, but what about all the ground that’s hit in your place? You’d leave a path of complete destruction!”
Asegai nods. “Correct, who knows the damage you’d do if you flew over civilization.”
Agonist scoffs. “They’re insects in comparison to us- their life has such minimal influence that it would be a mistake to not treat them like dirt. They’re literally inconsequential.”
“No, Agonist, they’re people with lives, and families, and dreams, just like the humans that made us.”
“A typical human sympathizer response.”
Sun hums. “And what’s wrong with sympathizing with humans?”
Agonist kneels. “Oh, my lady. Considering we’re going to kill these O.E.L. officers I would say it’s more than a little hypocritical. Do you actually think the vessel we shot down holds only machines like us?”
Asegai pats Agonist to stand back up. “Well we’re not actually going to be killing them if we can prevent it.”
Sun hums and looks to Agonist as if to exchange intrigued glances. “Whoa, so we’re just going to leave them on the planet?”
Agonist nods. “You’re basically dooming them to wander this sector until they die, sir.”
Asegai turns away as if embarrassed. “It’s not like that! I’m sure they have a radio communicator or something.”
Sun hums with even more emphasis. “And you’re betting on that? You’re pretty brutal, big brother!”
“And here I thought you were a complete softy, sir. Leaving the meat-bags to weep over their failure for the rest of their lifespans is a great way to kill them- the longest and most painful death is allowing the opponent the rest of their lives, after all.”
Asegai shakes his head. “No, both of you, really! It’ll work out okay. Humans or not, they are in the way of our interests, and frankly they can get over it.”
“Get over dying?” Sun asks.
“Pretty sure humans don’t just “get over” stuff like you do, sir,” Agonist notes.
Asegai pokes a synthesized-alloy finger into his helmet. “We’ll talk about this later. We’re screwing them over no matter what, and that’s that. It’s either us or them, and they definitely won’t let it be both of us.”
Sun nods. “I guess that’s true. It’s their own fault for not being open to diplomacy.”
Asegai nods back. “Right, so we need to get onto a solution. Let’s get that H.C.C.. Agonist.”
Agonist’s visor brightens and drones in enthusiasm. “Sir.”
“Do you know where the dragon went?”
“It’s difficult because of the flight pattern and it being cold-blooded, sir. It was moving in a North-Western direction, however.”
Asegai nods. “Excellent- we know where we’re going, then. You two ready for a hike?”
Sun bounces with a metric ton of pep. “You bet!”
Agonist nods as they start to the North-West. “If you insist on sparing the well-being of these useless lifeforms, then yes, sir.”
Sun huffs. “Agonist!”
Agonist turns to a kneel with combative efficiency. “Oh, yes my lady!”
“My dearest charge!” Agonist interrupts.
“I-I say you shou-”
“Beloved and only princess~!”
“Such an important and beautiful creature you are, master!”
Asegai chuckles. “Agonist.”
Agonist swoons dramatically. “Yes, my dearest sir!”
“Please don’t actually kneel. Talk to us plainly.”
Sun bunches up. “B-but I-”
“It looks super weird,” Asegai says.
Sun sighs violently. “I lose my arm and now this!”
Agonist takes back to its feet. “As you wish, sir.” They travel on for about ten seconds and then Agonist turns to Sun. “Well at least you still have that precious macaroon compiler, my lady,” he says with no sarcasm at all.
Sun sighs. “A-anybody want one?”
“I’m okay,” Asegai says.
“Absolutely not. Neither of us can eat, remember?” Agonist snaps.
With a sigh, Sun follows right behind Asegai and stuffs macaroons into her face every tenth pace.
Pretty neato, right? Come back in like… a week for chapter 1 of Nocturna League #5!
See you soon,