Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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November:

"When is easy. Black Sun didn't use Goat themselves, but Goat was still saleable property - legally saleable, when these records start, before there was any reason to hide it. They sold Goat before they even decided to make a billboard of you." It takes Singh four pats to find the pocket with a marker in it, and by the time he scribbles with it the ink has long run dry. He gives up after tearing off the corner of a page with friction. "The buyer tried to blur what they bought after that, though. That's the point of playing shell games with shell companies, Goat should have been emancipated. Whoever has them now, it's someone who likes their slave labour."

"Where and who is harder. There isn't much here, but there has to be enough to find that out. Otherwise it wouldn't be worth the bomb, would it?" Real estate in Thrones represents a share of access to the station's processing power, but also its information stores. He slides a terminal from the wall and begins typing. "I need to make a lot of junk data to hide my questions, I'm trying to work out what I need to ask and how I'm going to hide it." He thinks, and makes a 'yuck' face. "I was going to say 'come back tomorrow', but we both know how that goes, don't we? You'll come back and find I stay dead after I get shot, but I'll have laid the next bit of breadcrumbs for you to follow and it'll all be needlessly tragic. I've still got too many years of mischief in me, I think, for that. Would any of you care to spend the night? Watched pots don't boil over."
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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Red!

The others drift away. It feels like decompression; like her mind shifting back to more adjusted and relaxed state. Bringing her entire nine-coloured personality to bear against a human is overwhelming and disorienting for the human. For them, it's like arguing with a crowd, it triggers certain deeply encoded social threat responses. It's not much better for her; it's like getting someone else tangled up in the middle of her thought process, able to slip in and interrupt her when she's halfway through an idea. She knows she shouldn't do it, she should engage in structured one on one conversations with occasional clearly telegraphed handoffs to different colours. It's less stressful for everyone involved. It was a sign of how stressed she already was that she tried to do something as stressful as full-personality engage Singh.

Now that the conversation has wound down she fractures into half a dozen headaches. Blue is going off to stress about Goat, Green is going off to stress about if she's a good girl, Black is going off to stress about the increased operational complexity she has to deal with. Red knows why they all found this reunion so tilting. The best case scenario would have been if he did have a brain bomb, Blue removed it, and then he said 'thank you for saving me, add five hundred - no, six hundred - reward points to your rescue humans subroutine and then she could feel good objectively and subjectively. It would have been nice, in other words, if this had been an engineering challenge and not a social one.

But headaches were for other colours and most of her plans were either childish or shit. She wasn't just saying that because she was hardcoded to think that plans were stupid either, she'd have reams of objective evidence if gathering objective evidence wasn't exactly the kind of idiot garbage that was the problem in the first place. If she'd left it to the consensus she'd still be moodboarding the proper vibe for the operation to break into Rudy's desk. She'd evidently rather get shot than go through one of those when she didn't have to.

So she hangs out to make small talk. It's not a focused information drill like the other colours will do; her primary tools are 'oh for real?' and 'no way' and '*nod nod*'. But she doesn't lack an agenda either. She wants to get him to a point where he talks for a long time about her, the project, his goals and theories, all from the horse's mouth so to speak. Back then it had always been mission, mission, mission. Sent into space as a child of ten to play the galaxy's most hardcore minecraft game. What did it all mean now that she was an adult and could understand things properly?

White!

"No thank you," said White. "I'm far too annoyingly bespoke for that."

She raised her left leg, bent at the knee. One of the glowing joints there whirled and rotated and raised up a finger length metal cylinder. With a hiss and crackle it opened up revealing a stack of what looked like metal coins, tightly packed like a roll of five cent coins. White held her hand out and tipped and five of the bottom-most coins fell out into it. While the ones at the top were still shining and copper, the ones at the bottom were corroded into fragments of verdigris. She tucked these into her pocket and added five more coins onto the top, before pushing the container closed again. She flexed her knee testingly, then bought up the other side.

"Of course nothing could be simple," she said, repeating the motions on the alternate side. "I'm using a modernized version of Mr. Volta's 1.0 battery stack. A charged copper-based alloy is flash corroded with acid to release controlled bursts of energy, I manage energy release by increasing or decreasing acid levels in the chamber. I've got battery chambers in my feet, knees, upper thighs -" she lifted the edge of her shorts to reveal the upper port that opens in the same way. "- shoulders, elbows, wrists and two in my neck. Each of them is an independent circuit; if I run down the batteries in my legs then my arms still work fine. I can redistribute power internally, pulling charge from my arm batteries to my legs. That's low-level physically painful and fatiguing but still more efficient than acid-flooding a chamber."

She changes out her arm battery coins too, worn down from her earlier climb. There are more burned coins here - she hadn't changed them in a while, something she notes with embarrassment. A clean power stack should be the minimum before going to the gym, White.

"Downsides are the internal strain, slow swapping, and the wastefulness and expense," she said, continuing to go through the routine. "The upside is that I never have to deal with degraded battery performance, energy price spikes or lengthy recharge sessions; as long as I've got a pocket full of spares I can hotswap back to full charge. It also has both pros and cons with heat management; I don't need to spend as much space keeping a power core cool, but it does mean I circulate coolant throughout my entire body. I have something like a cardiovascular system for that. The fact that I circulate so much coolant does contribute to the power of my cold, dead robot hands," and here she put one of those ice cold palms against 3V's thigh just to hear her squeal.

"But I don't actually know how any of it compares," she admits. "I never really tested any of it. My life is generally sedate, with low level cleaning as the only physical activity. I'm half scared that I've got secret assassin droid kung fu superpowers - if I flood an entire power chamber at once, how hard, exactly, could I punch? I don't know, I don't even know if that'd just blow out the joint. I do know that none of the mainline android models uses anything like this system, and aggressive googling didn't turn up any workout videos for this design."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Count Numbers
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Red:

Singh curates his junk data. If this were chemistry this would be a beautiful process. Did you know there’s a gram of gold in every hundred million metric tons of seawater? Imagine the process of extracting it. You’d have to start with a huge engine to boil everything away, to extract the solutes from the water. Then you’d need to make new solutions out of those, with different solvents, bit by bit, element by element, being careful that single gram of gold didn’t get lost in any intermediate step. It’d be impossible to find which specific one failed, so you’d have to start the whole process again. And then there’s margin of error.

But this is not chemistry, and so it is an ugly and uninteresting process, and so Singh is grateful for the company.

“The one with the chainsaw, the one who got shot.” Singh glances up from boiling an ocean to salt, “I choose to be honoured rather than insulted, you know. The one with a sense of danger and risk. The fun one. I'm choosing not to see it as leaving me with the one that’s already been shot to death once, recently. I hope that’s not the reason.” He hits a key with some finality, then leans back. “This step takes a while. You know, I have a sense of Yellow now, and Green… even for knowing her longer, I still think I know you the best. I think we’re the most alike, certainly.” His eyes flash daringly at you. “Now, here’s my question. Do you take that as an honour or an insult?”
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Gym!

Let the record show, very officially, that 3V managed to bite down on that squeal. More of a squeak, really. Sure, the physical reaction of her shiver more than makes up for it, probably, what with how you can see it going all the way up her spine from the balls of her feet, but there was officially no squealing here, none whatsoever.

Distraction: the Euna Kim tangential. Euna is super sincere and she’s just as obsessive as 3V is. Was. Is? Has been known to be. Sure, her obsession is about all the ways that she can make the body do things that God never wrote into the operating manual, but game recognizes game. And don’t discount the power of being a sincere, cute dork.

Dig a little deeper. There’s the hardware connection, too. 3V got her bad girls as an upgrade, as a way to keep up, as something that she didn’t really think all the way through. Now they’re hers for the rest of forever. Can’t get the old flesh back even if you’re curious, sweetie. Even when you’re curious. But before you feel too sorry for yourself, here’s Euna Kim, all four limbs cybertronic and bionic, and she didn’t pick getting them. She just picked what she was going to do with them for the rest of her life, and she proceeded to do so, with vim, with vigor, and with an unassailable sense of cheer. How can you not like someone like that? Look up to them, even? Euna Kim is a goddamn hero and the work she does is more profound than what 3V used to do, even if her audience is smaller, her sphere of influence bounded to her tribe, her people, her domain which she rules with a mechanical fist and a bounce up to the ceiling when she’s flustered.

(You should see what her wife can do to her. Flustered her right onto her ass one time. Euna insists that she thought there was a chair there, but we know. We all know, Kimmy.)

Let the record show also that while someone was getting her knee examined and her diagnostics diagnosed, 3V slipped an arm around her smooth android shoulders. Not possessively, but in a show of solidarity, you know? Comfort. A silent reminder that 3V’s still here, still sweaty, still huffing, but here if you need something, babe.

Repaying that with Thighgate is one of history’s greatest betrayals, so let it be known.




Blue!

“You really think that’s my style, huh?” 3V smiles like Blue’s just walked into a snare (which is part of Artemis’s kit, if we’re being technical here). “Iiiiiiiinteresting. But I guess it makes sense. If you ask nicely, I suppose~”

She’s the embodiment of an emoji of a cool sheep wearing sunglasses. Bulletproof. Taking this attack and judo-flipping it back onto Blue. Insinuations, making it a confession on Blue’s part— even if Blue manages to withdraw her hand in time, she’s still up against a fierce actress who can turn on the cool in a heartbeat, when she needs to.

(Because that dress is hot and if she thinks about it too much, she’ll corpse. Goddamn lace. Goddamn bracers. Goddamn miniskirt.)
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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Red!

"Yeah nah," said Red. "We're not the most alike. That's you and Green, still. Like, just think about that question. Honour or insult? You're on opposite sides of the room overthinking this thing to the point of breaking your hearts and minds. You both want the other to be your judge, give you a high score and a headpat and somehow take away your anxiety," she giggled. "You exalted each other so high that you couldn't praise each other enough. Wild, right?"

"But me?" she waved her hand experimentally over the boiling water, a fragment too close to the heat. "I didn't come in here with expectations. I don't know how much you, like, know about how Green made me? Emotionally, I mean. Like you probably saw some screens and she mumbled her way through a psych evaluation afterwards? The internal experience was much more metal."

"Well, it started when you started the impossible tests - the parameters that changed, the mazes with no exits, the cascading failure scenarios. She felt betrayed - a child's anger at a world that didn't follow her plans, that she couldn't exert control over. I was built as an expression of nihilistic rage, like deliberately aesthetic'd as the evil magical girl of the team. Just kind of, like, a refutation of every value and ideal she held as meaningful. Knowledge is impossible! Past success is meaningless! Nothing you did ever mattered! Wah, wah, wah." Red grinned. "Pathetic little girl, do you think a lifetime of hard work means anything now? Ten years building the ring and now it is coming apart under the phaser arrays of an alien civilization. Everything you love is dead, every metric is meaningless, every plan is wasted electricity. Mwuahahaha!"

Red has a truly impressive evil magical girl persona when it comes out. Her halting dumbass vibe is very much about her waiting for the right moment to apply it.

"So yeah, you find me easy to get along with because I'm a chill, low-stakes person to talk to which is giving you time to think through the next move of your master plan," said Red. "I find you easy to get along with because you're a big dork (affectionate) and nothing matters. We are not the same."
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Red:
"I don't plan." Singh corrects. "It just looks like I do because the same solutions keep working." He gestures at his pockets. "Sure, I'm prepared, but everything in here is from a time I thought... Damn, I wish I had that on me right now. Then I got it before I forgot about it. But it's just experience, reacting. Dealing with things as they happen. I used to say- It would make her so mad- I used to say that putting things back in their proper place was just being too lazy to look for things."

A beep. He checks the screen, sighs, clicks a single button, then turns from it again. "But I have no master plan. I'm not thinking of anything right now, really. Even this is something I've done before. Maybe I just identify with the part of Green that was best suited for dealing with cascading failure?"

That's what he thinks, anyway. About you and about himself.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Thanqol
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Red!

"You don't plan?" she said. "So what was the, like, super elaborate will with the test? You're not thinking of anything right now, for real? A couple of hours ago you snapped and said something like how you were so mad at things that happened in the past that you dedicated your life to bringing down the system from the inside? You're living in the moment so hard you're worried about what would make some chick who isn't here mad."

Red passed her hand over the boiling water again. "You need a refresher in roboprojecting, dad. To me, none of that matters. BlackSun doesn't matter. Goat doesn't matter, none of them do. Everest? Who gives a shit? I am pretty interested in this pot of water but it hasn't done anything cool yet. You're spending like, 70% of your brain on guilt and emotions and whatever, you've been overthinking shit for so long it's become internally indistinguishable from zen. I'm not. Any of that shit would cut down my situational awareness and reaction speed, and I can't have that."
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Red:

"I can't even imagine what that must be like." He seems immensely satisfied by this. His eyes flick again. "Oh. Uh. Hmm. Hold on." Did something go wrong? "No. But an answer doesn't have to be wrong for it to be bad." A few more lines. "So you don't have regrets? I guess that's the wrong question - so you don't act on regrets?"

November:

You know, you've got your time with Dad and then you can leave. Like, leave. Cross county lines so hard that showing it in mach speed requires scientific notation. Is there any temptation in that, for any of you?
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Red!

"I've got entire colours dedicated to regrets full time," said Red. "But me? No. Like," she abruptly lunged across the table, slamming her hand on the counter so hard that the pot shook. "You just flinched," she observes in the exact same tone of voice. "Your ancient monkey reflexes activated in response to a violent threat. You didn't think during that, and you don't regret it now. Check this out."

She picked up an onion from the counter and tossed it underhand across the room. It hit Orange on the side of the head. She didn't react, didn't stagger, didn't have any sort of physiological response. She just turned her head, looked at the onion, and then frowned and glared. "Red!" she said. "Must you!?"

"See?" said Red to Singh. "No light behind her eyes. She's off thinking about angst. I'd catch that throw, 100%. Maybe you'd catch the throw too - humans are weird like that - but your basic decision making isn't about catching throws. Does that make sense?"

*

It's an interesting question, but the answer to if any of them want to leave is no. There is no sense in November that withdrawal to a safe place is in any way an effective coping mechanism. November has never had a safe space to be by herself, never had an area that was under her solitary control, never had a place to hide where she could not be found. Never had a room. She's lived her life in spotlights; the eyes of NASA, the eyes of the world, the eyes of Everest. The idea that authority figures can be evaded does not exist for her.

Deceived, though? That's possible. Managing attention and controlling information. She can build shadows to hide in amongst the blind spots and self deceptions of the powerful. That is best done from close proximity and so her response to danger is to draw close. Her response to power is to draw close.

But even though she's drawn to this, she's also drawn in the other direction - to relationships she feels like she has some measure of control over. White is texting Crystal and Fiona a lot through this, and Yellow is flooding 3V's DMs with random cool pictures she's finding. These conversations are the cool shadows she never found in all of space.

Blue!

To flirt is about leverage. Centre of balance. Confidence and embarrassment. It meant choosing your words carefully, looking for weak points in language. Body language, tells, secret truths. There was no better way to study humans. The stakes kept things interesting; the payoff let you strip away the deceit.

"Of course, mistress," said Blue. "You are glorious. You are a commanding presence. You bring girls to their knees. You are undefeated in the field and you need an outfit to show everyone just what is going to happen to them when they inevitably lose."

She glanced up through her lashes, as she held the tablet out. Two choices. "That is why you want this dominatrix outfit in your size... and not in mine."

She is a good girl. She has been defeated. She'll do anything for her mistress; those are the rules. She'll even treat her as her mistress. You know, if that's what she wants.
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Blue!

Synthetic fingers on a synthetic wrist. A gentle, curious stroke of a carefully designed hint-of-ulna (which, to be clear, 3V does not know the name of, and thinks it is just part of the wrist bones). A juke.

“I can think of much better things to see you in,” she says, with a disarming sincerity, a knife slid between two ribs. Then, hammering from cooldown, following up into a combo: “And it is now your job to figure out what they are. I want a feature presentation, Little Miss Blue.” A slow, careful pulling in. Glorious. Commanding presence. “Presented. On your knees. Later.

Because they’re still, you know. In public. Only so much you can do on stream. She’s modeled cosplay before, haven’t you seen the compilation videos? She’s been flirty (see: So I tried this BeeDee collab skin, You Lose You Cosplay I-XI, GOING APE WITH HANUMAN) and she has been ridiculous (see: So I tried this BeeDee collab skin, You Lose You Cosplay I-XI, GOING APE WITH HANUMAN) and she has been clever and charming and never particularly dominant (except for her suave Praetor Artemis purr, and she made that red contact lens work as she dragged the metal claws gently down her cheek). Which is to say: she’s setting a boundary while encouraging the behavior and also if she’s going to be inhabiting the role of a dominant it’s going to be with a teasing, simmeringly rebellious android on her knees in front of the couch, presenting a visual presentation with bullet points while 3V rests an ankle on her shoulder and winds a leash around glowing neon knuckles.

And it’s a testament to how fun Blue is presenting such a game that 3V’s even interested. Props to you, cutie. The frisson of danger, the risk of losing control and ending up dethroned, the transgressive play— that’s how you get her pulled into the promise of a scene.

She makes to stand up, and then adds, in a whisper, leaning into Blue’s ear, “And if you don’t get the answers right, there will be. Consequences.

Then she straightens up and goes over to check some shelving and make sure the board game shelf is properly sorted and also she can’t let Blue see the look of childish thrill on her face.

Gamer on the streets, roleplayer in the sheets.
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White, 3V!

"Oh! Oh, that's so cool actually! I haven't seen anything like that since at least, I mean I could've sworn that those were I mean damn. Damn, that really works? I mean I guess it, yeah. Wow! I would not have... wow! I don't suppose you know what the theoretical output limit or duration is on those things? Nah I guess not, with the lifestyle you described. Sorry, I just, professional curiosity you know? Semi-professional. I'm a specs gal, not a techs gal, if you know what I mean."

It should be illegal for someone who looks like Euna Kim to have such a stupid laugh. Or, for that matter, for the sorts of things that set her off to do so. Did you think Vesna was a dumb nerd? She's more than met her match. If you met her wife (the definitely-more-famous-than-you-are Sara Jimenez) you could lose sleep wondering how in the fuck this absolute loser got a ring on the hottest girl in space.

Though then again, as you watch her rip the cap off the unaccepted drink and start sipping at it herself, and in particular the way those waves of muscles ripple across her body without any specific effort or flex, that might be mystery solved.

"Can you buy those things retail? If not, I'd like contact info for your supplier. If you don't mind, I mean. Now that I know about this system I'd like to keep a supply in stock. Even if you decide you'd rather not waste any more of your time here after the mess I've made of you. Well, mm. It's just good to be prepared. You know, I used to..."

Euna trails off into nothing, staring at her hand with a curious expression. She stretches it out into the air in front of her, and the golden lights flare brightly as she clenches her artificial fingers into a tight, metal fist. She looks over her shoulder and grins.

"Let's save that story, actually. The Field Guide for Optimal Social Interactions, Rule Six: 'conserve the secrets of your backstory until at least the third date'. Hahahahaheeeeee," snort, "Hey Threevee! You look like you're about to fall over dead, but do you have enough juice left in you to referee? Your girlfriend doesn't know what it feels like to throw a punch! Well! No better way to learn than to try, is there? Come on then Miss November, I'll give you five minutes to try and tag me. Last lesson I promise, and then I'll take any questions you both have. Hey, don't look so worried! I'm a lot tougher than I look."

Honey-brown eyes glint with maybe a little too much delight as Euna hops away and settles into a combat stance. Her smile is somehow grim and radiant at the same time, window into a world she longs to occupy but for whatever reason... she's here, instead. It takes her several seconds to remember which end of sparring she's meant to be on, and she relaxes from her power stance into a light and dancing fluid form that sees both hands clamp behind her back.

"Come on then, come on! There's no better test of your full range of motion than combat training! You can't hurt me and I won't let you hurt you, so cut loose, cutie! Let me give you a lesson to remember me by~"
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Blue!

There's something electric about a challenge. Not a test, not Green's obsession, that world where there are right and wrong answers (no matter how much the tester declaims that they're just observing or gathering data; there's always an agenda in their mind). A challenge is... about having to become a better person than your opponent. Coming from a superior it's even more than that; the choice then is about reaching deeper into yourself to find some new part of you, or identifying what makes them powerful and bringing it into yourself. What could be more intimate than imitation? To respond to defeat by becoming your conqueror? To become the sword beneath your chin? It means becoming an active participant in your own subordination and exaltation. It means letting honour chain you and gag you so that it might constrain your weakness.

So, then, her research for 3V carries her not towards revealing clothing. Not towards open and flowing silks and the expressions of softness and submission. Instead what she chooses for her presentation are kinds of armour. Heavy, metallic, noble, defensive, proud. Hair bound in tight ponytails. All these defenses and no protection at all. The armour can be undone with precise blades, or infiltrated with wandering hands. The hair can be sent tumbling down at a mistress' whims, or left bound up in a mockery of discipline and strength. This is what Blue presents; not vulnerability, but strength that nevertheless cannot stop you.

This is what she will be for you for as long as your own strength can hold.

White!

There's always so much to take in with Euna. Stories that run deeper, knowledge and wisdom dropped in passing, plans for the future and echoes of the past. She's a fascinating person, a complete person. She can see why 3V likes her. She likes her. If she were a different colour she could easily focus on her and her secrets to the exclusion of everything else.

But she's here to master herself.

She's hyperaware of her thought processes. She doesn't register physical threat from either of the two combat postures Euna takes. Maladaptive? She reads physical threat in slouches, swaggers, hands in pockets, the physical sloppiness that indicates that someone is intoxicated or a cop. These movements are more objectively dangerous but she does not respect them. Not yet.
Some part of her wants desperately to do something cool. For some hidden kung fu routine to kick in and her to deliver a sick double roundhouse kick out of nowhere. 3V is watching, and Euna seems like she wants that as well. At the same time she's afraid of sudden machine power and breaking cybernetics. The pressure she puts on herself now that she's finally testing this intense.
She wants to go through the mechanics of the motion perfectly in advance; integrate all the advice she's heard about putting her hips into the blow and twisting the strike on the way. She wants to think her way out of the problem; to activate her holographic projection armour and approach this like a tactical puzzle. She wants to call in her backup and engage as a swarm, using all her hands and arms in unison. Those aren't the test. None of those are the test. Those are different, unrelated tests that she knows that she's good at and can pass and it cuts down on the uncertainty and risk if this test was secretly one of those tests.

Brown made a bit of an art out of socially engineering tests like that for a while; impressing testing staff with what seemed like a unique and out-of-the-box answer that was really just her repurposing previous outputs to new problems. The conflict that had created with Green was the impetuous for her development. White closed her eyes hard shut as she sorted again through her mental sloth, through the complex intellectual knots and justifications she used to avoid doing something really simple. None of that. None of it. Thought was both unhelpful and undesirable.

So she opens her eyes, steps forwards, and throws her punch.

*

She's never seemed less human as she leans into the technique. There was a basic human relationship with violence and threat that just didn't apply to her. She doesn't flinch when muscles tense or feint, there is no hesitance or instinctive panic, there's no fear and no reflexes. Each punch is conveyed with an engineer's understanding of hip and feet and weight but without the lizard brain evasion that comes with a biological brain optimized in the first to avoid pain. Androids don't fight like this; androids have human brain patterning at their core. November fights like a machine. It's honest.

But something curious happens when Euna switches to the offense. Instincts do come out, just not human ones. November intimately understands high speed deflection of fast-moving objects along with precision engineering. She doesn't come close to landing anything but the instinct is visible in certain exchanges - she reacts to a blow like it's a high speed piece of astrodebris; not dodging it so much as looking to land a slight redirection slap that will change its momentum and direction. If the gesture is repeated more slowly she'll even instinctively aim for disassembly points in Euna's cybernetic limbs.

None of this will get her past the basic reality that she's not dealing with zero gravity. She also has no understanding of grappling or wrestling. Probably the biggest problem is that she is extremely bad at the instinctive human ability to track something by sound and air pressure; once something leaves her field of vision she loses track of it and doesn't have any situational instincts that make her recognize that as dangerous. There's potential here; this can be trained, honed and refined - it's just the case that peak performance for her probably looks nothing like peak performance for a human.
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White, 3V!

Euna Kim fights like someone who is trying to beat thirty people at once. There's a brutal efficiency to her movements that's undercut by the way that even while sparring with a single undertrained opponent in her own gym, she finishes each motion with a pivot to check over her shoulder for a sneak attack. She never blocks attacks or even redirects them where she's capable of dodging them altogether, because the act of weaving out of the way carries her into the exercise equipment or into the midst of an imagined crowd. She shifts out of the way, sometimes without looking where the strike is coming from or where she's going to wind up, because it's the simplest and most efficient way to keep moving.

For her, every move is dozen. She spins out of the way of the lightest touch on her arm and pushes against the back of November's neck to unbalance her. The swiftness of the motion implies a desire to direct real power into the motion and push her new student through a wall. The follow through makes it seem like she tried. But the end result is that she simply... doesn't. It's like the idea occurred to her and her body went ahead with the plan but then instead of destroying anything she drops into a full front split and rolls across a mat. Her elbow drops heavily into nothing, but the rush of air that follows after is a little bit terrifying.

A weird thing happens when she goes on the offensive, something she tries a total of three times across the time limit she set for this little duel. Each attack she properly aims at November starts its life as a full speed kill shot, but the farther it travels the lazier it seems to get. By the time it reaches November and gets slapped out of the way, it's downright lazy. But even then there's a trick to it, because she rolls her shoulder against the redirected energy and bends her arm back into the strike again. She allows her body to follow along the curve and soon she's spun into a flanking position, with her arm curled to take the neck.

She doesn't. But her expression, and the twitch of her arm makes someone watching think she'd like to. Euna Kim is good at fighting. Euna Kim fights like she'd like to be a character in a movie. Euna Kim is terrible, actually, at holding back. Or rather, she seems amazing at it, but only in the moments after she's clearly fucked it up. It doesn't come naturally to her, just like there doesn't seem to be a way to convince her that there won't be someone jumping out of the shadows to slash her face open with a knife.

The way she moves is, in contrast to November, very human indeed. All of her forms are expressible within the range of human motions on a sprite sheet, so to speak. There's very clearly a lot of deep trained and honed instinct at play here, especially where those instincts don't properly apply to her situation. She responds to tactile stimuli, sound, and 'muscle' movement with practiced fluidity. But a lot of what she does with her own is unnatural for a human being to want to do.

There's no need, strictly speaking, to stomp on the ground to make the walls echo and confuse her position, unless she's expecting a squad of cops to turn up ready to fight but also still willing to engage with her inside the terms of a taekwondo duel or something. She doesn't follow through on strikes except as a response to being countered. There is no finish to the motion, no full extension, no perfect form when basic contact is all that she'd need to get the job done. She conserves energy, maintains her guard, and boxes with shadows the entire time she keeps November occupied.

Euna Kim fights like she's trying to beat thirty people. She fights like she doesn't understand a world where that might not be the case. She fights like... like she's trying to pull some sort of super move out of White before this has to stop. Like she wants to demonstrate how to recover being thrown through a wall. It never happens. The duel, such as it is, stays slow and she has to keep reigning herself in, keep flinching back from exploiting weaknesses. But even sloppy and silly as this particular fight is, there's a smile on her face at the end of it. She had fun.

"You have... potential. I don't even want to comment on your form because I'm afraid I'd ruin what's so special about it. If I could just train you..."

Mm. If, if, if. She shrugs, and rubs at her left eye a little with a thumb.

"If there's a next time, Miss November? Try not to be so scared of yourself. You can't break me, leastwise not any worse than my wife can. I'll come up with a routine to help you maximize performance. But no more for today. Not until I've got those batteries in for you."
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White's hand twitches involuntarily. Immediately other processes are cut to minimal levels as she assesses it, a reflex she wasn't consciously aware of. It takes a second but she identifies it as the beginning of a move to cut Green off.

The why isn't a huge mystery; to be denied feedback would have sent Green lunging across the field to grapple Euna for real. The only thing worse than failing a test is not knowing if you failed it. Her whole being is set to absorb, digest and adjust based on data and not receiving that data is awful. She is dimly aware that one of the reasons she keeps using Headpattr is because the rating system gives her the immediate feedback hit that she craves. It all comes back to space. In space there's so little going on that simply knowing everything relevant was a reasonable ask. Some part of her assumed that combat, as a relatively constrained physical activity, would be similar.

But instead she's being strategically denied information. That, even more than the fight, raises her opinion of Euna. In motion things had been happening too quickly and she'd been too self aware of her own motions that the technical ability hadn't fully sunk in; she didn't have the eyes to see, didn't have the context to fear. But denying information was something White especially understood. If Euna thought of fighting like space, a limited dataset that could be accurately modeled and solved, then there'd be no need to deny information; the opposite would be true. That's the approach any second floor karate dojo would take. To not do that meant that Euna viewed combat, deep down, as essentially unsolveable.

And that had White's full attention. It put into context the incredible situational awareness she showed when fighting; the checks, the listening, the phantom follow throughs. Ready for anything, even here. Unspecialized.

One of the primordial problems of intelligence is over-fitting. Thinking takes work, so why not simply develop accurate answers and then cut out the intelligence to save on resources? Early machine learning devices did this all the time; boiling themselves down immediately into instinct engines. The answer to the problem had been found not in code but in dreams. Dreams are humanity's solution to over-fitting within the human brain. A dream casts a person in scenes they don't encounter in daily life, in hyperspecialized perils and possibilities to force them to engage aspects of their brain that would otherwise atrophy as they press buttons on a keyboard all day. It was why the Hecatoncheires were made unaware of their true 'score', why they were given the ability to dream, why they were made as people. Because otherwise they'd collapse into Brown's singularity, wireheaded and empty. Preventing that was one of White's core functions, and that's why Euna's refusal to comment on her form meant everything.

"There will be," she said sincerely. "I want to learn what you have to teach. I must make you aware of a complication, though," she grimaced. "I don't know what 3V has told you, but I am essentially one ninth of a hivemind - in particular, an aspect focused on discipline and self control. So I can personally commit to training regularly and can ensure my own attendance. The rest of me does not operate according to the same standards. I do not want to inconvenience you with a commitment to a large number of students of dubious quality and intermittent attendance, so I understand if you change your mind about this at any point."
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Euna Kim fights like she’s really Himiko from Doomed Hand: someone who’s capable of chaining devastating combos together as long as they keep moving, who (when played by someone who knows what they’re doing) makes her way through ridiculous, impossible boss fights and makes them look easy. And, yeah, your average player is going to screw up the timing and get her hit, but the fantasy, the promise that the game dangles in front of you, is that if you’re good enough, you can be like Euna.

Except that Himiko doesn’t hold back the way that Euna does. All that terrifying potential just remains bubbling under the surface, in a way that strongly suggests that the restraint is a recent development. There’s more than one reason this place has an ACAB policy, and 3V hasn’t quite figured out the deeper ones. (Not that she will. Not until Euna’s ready to open up.)

White, intriguingly, fights like a roguelike enemy, albeit one with some degree of self-preservation instinct. But the way she methodically focuses on the attack, relentless, pushing forward, adjusting only to get a new angle…

Timing. She needs to get into a game with timing mechanics, one where you need to dodge roll. The kind where you are small and the world is big but, sister, you have a big stick to whack knees with. Morémi: Shadows of Ilé-Ifè. Yesssss. As long as she can handle Obàtálá’s spider aesthetics. It’s the best Eldenlike of the past two years, after all.
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White, 3V!

"Ahaha...hehehehe-- SNRRRRRKFFFFGAHAHAhAhAhhHAHAHAHA, HAHA, AHAHAHAHA, HAHAheeeeeeeeee!"

Too much. Way too much. Euna completely loses her shit despite her best and really quite valiant efforts. She doubles over with spasms of laughter so powerful they almost drop her to her knees, despite the miracle construction of her limbs. In fact she would literally be rolling on the ground right now if her legs weren't capable of supporting many times her own body weight from even the most awkward and inefficient angles she could put herself in.

As it is she merely (merely, mind you) folds her washboard abs in on themselves like a crumpling egg carton as she struggles for air harder than any of the exercise had managed to pull out of her.

"Oh my god! Fuck me, that is the funniest-- pfffhahaha! Hoo. Just the funniest fucking thing you could have possibly!"

She grits her teeth. For a moment she looks a threat to redouble over, but she masters herself at last and stands back up with mechanical smoothness. The grin on her face lights her up like christmas. Or to maybe be more seasonally appropriate, like an ARO boulevard when your signal jammer's battery just died.

"Oh, Threevee. Threevee, Threevee, Threevee! All of this 'I'm undatable' talk and then when you finally go and grab yourself a girlfriend it turns out she's nine people?!. Oh my god oh my GOD, hahaha. From zero to harem ending in a single date! You're a legend sweetie, I love you. You can't make this shit up. God, I'm glad I... well."

Euna Kim stretches her neck, a motion with some very nasty sounding pops that carry several feet farther than it seems like should be possible to give herself a bit of room to dial back her smile to something slightly more professional. Her hands automatically fly up to her hair and smooth it back into its perfect part, and she rubs a thumb over her eye again before settling back into an easy stance.

"I've gotta get this fucking thing replaced," she mutters, more to herself, before she fully regains her professional demeanor, "Anyway. There's eight more of you, then? And you're technically a single unit? I mean I'm... I'm not gonna lie and tell you I have the slightest idea what that's like, but I don't see why it has to be an issue. End of the day you're all, uh, you right? I can deal. I've got plenty of flake students, it doesn't bother me much. Or. Well. It does, but... with this stuff, you get out what you put in. But I'd rather anyone who turns up to my door do what they can, instead of having it be all or nothing. It drives me insane, being so uh, lax, but I tried this with a stricter schedule and it was a fucking disaster.. More dropouts than signups. That's not even possible! By definition!

"...And I mean, full fairness? I'm not always going to be available for focused sessions like this either. I give this place as much time as I can manage, but (you may have heard!) I've got a wife. And a life! Haha... eh. Right. Well. Point being, I'll make it work. You're welcome here. However, erm, much of you? Can make it. Am I being weird about this? I'm sorry, I feel like I'm being weird about this. This is... new. I was not trained for hiveminds, if you can believe that."

She frowns a little. Fucking slacker field guide authors, where were you when she needed you the most?
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White!

She waits it out. She's very aware that she was engineered to look and act the part of a cartoon sexual fantasy and, you know, fair enough to any human who laughs at it. She's one step away from being a sentient bodypillow, really, and it'd be churlish to begrudge anyone the natural reaction. It was what it was, and what it was was exactly what it looked like. Euna didn't know that she was trying her best to... transcend it, somehow.

She does not sigh or look put out or comment afterwards. She's the weird bespoke one of a kind space robot with no social media presence, there's nothing anyone could do to learn about her unless she tells them. Most of the time she's content to let people assume she's just a weird android, but she wants Euna to train her and so it's important she knows what she's dealing with. So Euna gets the full version. But it felt...

"Imagine your sense of humour was an independent person," said White. "Imagine it operated on its own, telling jokes and laughing at jokes as much as it could. When there were no jokes to tell or to laugh at, it goes inert and fades into the background until the opportunity arises to deliver a wisecrack. This is, essentially, how I am structured: different parts of me are distinct people, and they only interact when their specific conditions are met. If we were having a party in a bar, I, White, would either go silent or get up and leave and be replaced by one of my aspects that is better suited for interacting with a relaxing social environment.

"These limitations can be pushed and explored, but they are limitations. Red is optimized for crisis management; she can be taught to be a better crisis manager, but if you start talking about complex planning or regular training regimens she will lose interest. This is because those concepts literally don't fit in her brain; the part of her brain that deals with that is another person.

"We are not digitally linked; we do not share data in a constant flow, we cannot perform synchronized complex motions without drill. There is no clearly marked core personality or overmind. In practical terms, we function analogously to a friendship group of highly specialized idiots with infinite trust extended to each other. One to three colours being present represents a normal amount of attention for an understood topic. The full spectrum being present represents absolute focus, which is usually a bit too intense and chaotic for most people's comfort. Knowing the desired mood and tone for learning in advance is helpful in coordinating the presence of the most appropriate colours."

She hadn't done formal learning in a long time. A lot of what she learned she taught herself, or got from tests that ended with 'ah' and 'hm' and 'how interesting that you did it this way'. Humans more interested in observing her than teaching her. She learned, yes, data was made available to her and she naturally wanted to soak it in, but she mostly hadn't been taught. The formal schooling she had was mostly to do with mission protocol, objectives and coordination with ground control - how to speak to humans.

But it felt... it felt like she missed her siblings. She had to go through all of this because they were gone too. Over decades they'd vanished so entirely from society that the idea of them made people laugh in surprise. Like they hadn't even... the thought tapered out. That was for someone with more poetry than she had.
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“I haven’t even had the full-spectrum experience,” Threevee says, stepping in smoothly. “It’s sort of like how you’re a different person around different friends, but more literal. It’s also,” she continues, wrapping an arm around White’s shoulders and giving a comforting squeeze, “an amazing way to get to know someone. Every part of November is wonderful, and I think you in particular should meet Pink sometime; she reminds me of Sara at her best.”

And a little bit of you, she doesn’t add. The willingness to be silly; the sudden intense focus on things that most other people would let slide. The joy. That would be too sappy.

“Actually,” she adds, turning to Dess, turning on the smoulder just a little bit: “why don’t we set up a full-spectrum date sometime? I promise I can take it. <3”
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White, 3V!

If you watch closely, you can detect the moment Euna's heart turns inside out. Cringe. A terrible word, but it's what she's got. Oh fuck her to fucking fuck, how insensitive can one person be? Fuck!

She's got no manual for this, no training. Which is a shame because if she did she wouldn't fuck things up so hard all the fucking time. She watches 3V pitch the idea of a full-spectrum date to November (White), and take the time to talk up one of the non-present Colors. There, in every conceivable facet, is a better put together girl than she. It's no wonder only one of them used to be a cop.

She sweeps both hands through her hair a full three times before she can finally force her lips open enough to regain the power of speech.

"I... sorry. You up and told me how 'bespoke' you were and I didn't stop to think about what that'd mean until I! I upset you. I can tell. I'm very good at knowing when I've upset someone. Years of practice. But for the record I would love to meet Pink. Ideally I would like to meet each of your Colors. Slowly. I think I... no, I know I've changed my mind about training you. About how to train you, I mean. If you... still, you know, want it. Hey, do you think I could--"

Now she's literally kicking herself. The shock bleeds into anger and then into disappointment at comical speeds. All of it's directed at herself, no need to worry. She's just realized that her faux pas cost her the chance to ask a stupid question. And if you can put that much together you can probably figure out what that question is, actually. Like, she's left you clues, it's not exactly hardcore detective shit. But she can't say it.

She can't say it because it's rude and boorish, not to mention insensitive. And you very definitely only get away with one of those in an evening.

"...Ask you something?" she finishes with a lame ass grimace, "I mean, I, when it comes to cybernetics I feel like I'm pretty well. Well, I mean, not like an expert or anything, but I'm pretty well informed. And I didn't even know someone like you existed. At all. So I was just, and it's completely cool to just tell me to shut up, I get it! But are you, like, alone? I mean, um. Whoever, um. Made you. Did it stop there? Or are there others and I'm just super fucking blind?"

Disappointment flickers in her eyes. That was not the question in her heart. But it's about as much as she's got space left to ask.
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"A full spectrum date would be a little hard to set up right now," said White to 3V, though looked at Euna enough to be clear she was talking about her question as well. "Parts of me are stubborn, lazy or have their own agendas. Green is actively hostile to the idea of doing anything in the physical world; she thinks we should commit to life as a digital entity. Blue thinks that we should return to our original chassis and doesn't like the idea of getting close to anything that relies on relationships built in this body. Brown is lazy on levels hard to explain to someone without crushing depression. Even if I could force them all into a room some of them will be tuned out unless they've all been individually engaged on their own terms. Needs to be built up to."

There's a bit of an edge to her voice. This is self criticism, and she's dutifully voicing it even though she's ashamed of it. She is willpower, and it hurts to articulate the limits of willpower.

But she smiles despite that and reaches out to take 3V's hand and give it a little squeeze. Admitting that was hard. It was an act of trust, extended to both of the girls. It feels nerve wracking and cathartic both. She was grateful to 3V in a way she couldn't articulate for the way she hugged her, for the way she praised her, for the way she invited her to be her best self. She decided in that moment that Yellow had been right about her.

"Others? Yes and no, frustratingly enough," she said. "Mentally, yes. I was the eleventh in a line of twelve." The greatest achievement, and also the one who got the entire line shitcanned she did not say. She didn't particularly like connecting people to the Hecatoncheire project directly. It wasn't hard to detective up, but it did cast her as the one who incited the destruction of her species, and if there was any topic more mentally exhausting to re-litigate she hadn't found it. "But since then I was repurposed. Taken out of my original body and put into this. Didn't get a say about it, it was pre-Rights. It was..." she looked at Euna again. "... I think you can relate."

"These bodies are custom built," she said. "Using weird economically unviable prototype techniques for luxury and espionage purposes. If there's anyone else using these physical specifications I'll never find them because they're built to be undetectable. So if I have any peers, it'll be from my original line. But I don't know where to find them, if they'll be in their original bodies or if they'll be repurposed as well. There's practically no chance they'll be anything like what I am, so I don't know where that leaves me. A line of one, I suppose, with no map and no guide of what to become or how to become it or how to explain any of it to anyone else."

She looked at Euna, and for the first time let her sadness shine through clearly. "Life is hard without heroes."
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