Everything was finally in place… those who were chosen for the project have all finally assembled.
“It’s so good to have fresh Cadets… especially those who hold such great potential, wouldn’t you say so, Irina?” spoke the gray-haired haired, wrinkly and rather thin scientist with a smirk as he looked over the papers.
The woman, whose build was slender yet toned, looked rather unenthusiastic about the old man's words. She was wearing a leather jacket over the shoulders, with her pilot's plugsuit visible underneath. "This batch won't survive a single battle...their statistics are abysmal. I think if we used sockpuppets we would get better results."
The slouching man smirked. “How dull… I’d expect you to at least be a bit livelier in my presence.”
“Just call me Lorenzo, that’s an order,” spoke the scientist as he looked over the ‘thing’ being forced to kneel before them.
“…Lorenzo, are you sure we can be casually discussing things in front of ‘it’?”
“Why not?” grinned Lorenzo as he stared at his prized possession, “I would like to see what it has to say about us. Wouldn’t you like to know that, too?”
The thing kneeling simply continues to hang its ‘head’ as wires and tubes are protruded from… or into its body. From anyone else’s point of view, one would assume that the being is simply dead, but from what was heard from the conversation between Irina and Lorenzo, it is clear that isn’t the case. After bit of silence, Lorenzo simply laughed to himself.
“Nothing as usual… So this is what our little companion sees of us.”
“Come again?” Irina asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Even like this, it still sees us as nothing more than insignificant nuisances.”
“You’re saying that this thing, despite its condition, still believes it can win?”
“No...hee hee...it knows it can win.”
“Really now?” Irina crossed her arms and leaned on one leg as she glanced at the monstrosity with a bored expression.
“We’ve probed it, interrogated it constantly, and done so many unethical things to it that even serial killers of old would be disgusted at… yet this thing hasn’t flinched or winced once in pain. Hell, we’ve wasted so many truth serums that this thing should be a drugged mess, however, you can see that it is perfectly fine, yes?”
“That’s true. It’s still fine, the cheeky bastard... Why is that?”
“Hard to say, Irina my dear… but this is the difference between them and us… We would break easily as human beings were we to be enslaved, they however… I believe they would never break if we were to capture them.”
“So… what’s the point in keeping it alive if we aren’t getting anything from it? It's a bit too costly for target practice...”
“That’s where you are wrong! We are learning from it despite its reluctance to cooperate. They are the perfect soldiers, but their lack of emotions is something that holds them back. They don’t particularly seem to have much of anything that they’re fighting for from what I’ve noticed… they don't seem to have a clear objective. We all have our reasons to fight and that gives us strength.”
“I never thought those words would come from your mouth, sir.”
“I told you to call me Lorenzo.”
“I'll try to remember that… but still, what we learned from them isn’t much."
“I suppose… but we have learned something interesting… and that is that they are capturing humans, and I’m sure that this particular Cruxi has all the answers. I also intend to get those answers out of it one way or another.”
As he finished the sentence, light in the shape of an opened door poured into the dark room, and a hospital bed with a white sheet draped over a hidden body was rolled inside. It was brought before the beast that then immediately started eating the offering. Irina clenched her fist and twisted her mouth, visibly disgusted. "Lorenzo, is that one of the-"
Lorenzo nodded slowly. "Yes...What a failure Alpha was. But at least she can serve some kind of purpose now." Lorenzo observed without a hint of emotion as the bound monster finished its meal. "Now we'll have to see if the rest follow her fate..."
A group including both adults and children were escorted by a group of armed soldiers through the twisting corridors and countless intersections of a military base. While the base did resemble the headquarters of any regular Planetary Defense Force, it was a lot more advanced, with numerous rooms filled with machinery and resembling laboratories among the barracks and mess halls. Engineers and soldiers travelled back and forth in equal measure, and scientists in white coats too, to a lesser extent. The pilots were recently transferred from the facilities they were training at along with their Framewerks, and are only now meeting each other for the first time as their escorts led them to a briefing hall. The pilots were ordered to stand in a row, and inside the hall arrived a woman. The soldiers stood in a separate row from the pilots, saluted, and walked out of the hall.
"Welcome to Solaire, Cadets; home of the Framewerk Project XJ9." The woman in a Framewerk plugsuit spoke in front of the group. "I am Lieutenant Ritsu Kaname, and as of this moment you will be taking orders directly from both myself and-"
"Oho! So these are the Cadets!" blurted another voice as a tall gray-haired scientist practically shoved her aside. "Sorry Ritsu, I didn't notice you were there! I was so excited to see the new Cadets that I could barely contain myself, hee hee!"
"Hrmph...Attention!" Ritsu shouted, and then saluted to the old man as per military conduct. "Prof-mm, Executive Officer, shouldn't you have more pressing matters than to welcome the new Cadets?" The old man smiled. "Not at all... It would be rude of me not to. Besides, I'm interested to see what they can do already."
"I see... Anyway, Cadets, this is Professor Lorenzo, your superior in Solaire, and Executive Officer for the Framewerk Project. Most of his work is classified so don't bother asking about it. Just know that he'll be observing our progress periodically from time to time to see how well we do. You have all completed your pilot training in separate facilities, and now you will move on to developing advanced skills and training to be a single unit.
To achieve the level of squad skills you need to, we will be holding a mock battle between you Cadets in an hour to determine who will take up the role of squad officer among you. The objective of the mock battle is to defeat as many opponents as possible before you are defeated yourself. You will be observed and then evaluated based on how you performed before and during the battle, so I expect each and every one of you to give your all."
Lorenzo pointed to a device with a bunch of red buttons he held in his hands. "Your Framewerk will be remotely disabled once it has taken a certain threshold of damage, so you'll know when to stop before you ruin my precious beauties too much. The battle ends when only one Framewerk is left standing...or I get bored, whichever happens first, hee hee!"
Ritsu hesitantly nodded. "Perform admirably. That is all."
"Hoho, like so," grinned the XO as he looked at the Cadets. "Nonetheless, do well and try to get along, introduce yourselves to each other why don't you? I'm interested to see how this'll go...hee hee..."
With that... the two seniors left you all to yourselves in the hall as the door closed shut. Only an hour before the fight to determine who will be squad leader so might as well get to know one another while you can.
One of the girls, Elora, was trembling in fear, her legs shaking and her arms held close to her chest. She seemed to be out of her element as she desperately attempted to open her mouth and say something, but was unable to. She was like a lost puppy with her big eyes and sniffing nose, looking like she was going to start crying any second.
A...battle? Elora thought to herself. How could we do something like that? I can't fight these other pilots, I won't last a second out there! LG isn't a solo combat unit! Oh no, this is bad. Maybe if I ask someone to...no, they wouldn't want me, why would they? I feel like crying now... The young girl struggled to keep herself from sobbing on the spot.