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21 days ago
Current Fuh... one of the worst days of my life
9 mos ago
Eager to get back to writing and try something new!
8 yrs ago
Started at work today, expect my replies in 1x1s to slow down considerably. Normal RPs go as usual.
9 yrs ago
Coffee time every time. Be sleepless.


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Location: Training room B
Skills: Armored ground combat
Equipment: Shieldmaiden armor

She growled quietly as Zari attacked a different target. There she goes again, doing her own thing. If Victoria was sad and discombobulated before, Zari was managing to cause those feelings to burn to cinders in righteous anger. She was partly trained by a military man, and had certain expectations on how people behaved on a battlefield, and this attitude has been suffered for far too long. Yelling at her now would only demoralize the rest of them, but if they didn't flunk out in this round, Victoria was shutting them all in the locker room and having a few select words with the lot of them, and maybe the coach too. She was okay with getting feedback when it could be easily acted on, but this was the last time she was getting questioned in the middle of the stars damned fight. Whether they fall in line or decide to give someone else this thankless fucking job. One way or another. No. More.

Refocusing on the battlefield, Victoria quickly analyzed the situation at hand. If Zari could be trusted to at least do what she said to be the best thing to do, she should be attacking the fliers and that meant Jyoti next. She heard Diana call out that she was okay and saw her lob the arrows overhead, meaning she probably was indeed good to go at least for a while, hopefully not being only sustained by adrenalin. Ed did Ed things - Vicky didn't know what he planted on the cage, but she imagined it had to be something along the lines of scorched earth tactics - fine by her, commendable even.

That left the ground targets. Swinging her arm from upwards to the hole in the wall with two targets, she watched in satisfaction as they were dazzled and protected their eyes. Raising her other arm, the MFG on it and her chest fired off concussive shots, but to her bewilderment, the two managed to dodge her attacks somehow. What has happened to my accuracy as of late?! Ugh! I REALLY need to hit the range after this one! Needing to act before they got the dazzled duo regained their wits, she retasked the others on it: "Diana, can you hit that lit up chokepoint? Leah, follow up and either take care of the other or plug those holes! Then everyone to the ground!"

Hopefully that would be enough to halt their progress, preferably the three would end up out cold. She added the last command as she watched the gathering storm clouds. Not willing to hedge her bets on the Asgardian's ability to remember what she said she'd do a minute ago, she raised one arm as a lightning rod and engaged her remaining MFGs in an attempt to attract the lightning. From what she quickly googled in her head, 95% of the natural lightning strikes were negative. Those odds would have to do. Charging the MFGs on her back with a positive charge, she engaged her skin's absorbtion function. In theory, such method was designed into her as an emergency recharge. Victoria hoped the theory was built on good grounds. Most of natural lightning should be directed to her, and on the 5% chance of it having a matching positive charge, hopefully it would be forced to hit outside of her 'sphere of influence' due to matching charges repelling each other. She was certain with their positioning Ed and Diana were covered, although Leah might be pushing it. Zari wasn't grounded in the air, so she should be fine as long as she did not fly into the clouds, although Victoria's vicious side wasn't exactly bothered.

Location: Workshop > Training room B
Skills: Armored ground combat, Armored aerial combat, Unarmored hand to hand combat, Data gathering and analysis, Hacking, Mechatronics
Equipment: Shieldmaiden armor

The last few days have not been kind to Victoria. First, Dunk & Donuts came up with a great plan to get ahead in the contest, and were kind enough to involve her in it. And what did she do? She cheapened out on them and rather than making the bugs herself, or at least properly checking the Alchemex stuff she bought was going to work, she wasted everybody's time, blaming her already large build list for it.

And to what end? The headsets she designed turned out to be abysmal. The only saving grace was that she only made one first and then went to do her 'factory acceptance testing'. IT was a nightmare. Functionality wise it was okay, but the usability was through the floor. Even in her own human limited conditions, the headset kept flying off of her head if she did any acrobatics. When she bent it a bit to increase the friction, it pushed against her head so much that anyone organic would have a massive headache after an hour of wearing it. And the less said about the extendable eyepiece the better - the boom tended to snap under a punch and cause puncture hazards to the eye.

Speaking of training, she has tried, really tried to sway Usagi from her insane regimen. But it was to no avail. She tried reasoning with arguments. She even tried to offer herself as TA instead of Teddy, feeling like a hoe for selling herself out for favors. No joy. The Mad Cat was unmovable. And what limited efforts she could make during the regular training sessions did not seem to awaken any semblance of team spirit in the five of them.

One by one, she considered the problems snags as they came, a setback to be fixed the next time. But yesterday, as she was preparing for the qualifiers and doing a review, it hit her all at once - So many days have gone by, and she achieved absolutely nothing of what she set out to do.

She was a steaming pile of failure.

Failure of a crafter, failure of a leader. Her nerves were already wound up with multiple uncertainties about the VEIL protocol possibly failing, which was forcing her more back into the isolation that she has grown to hate. But this realization was the straw that broke her back. She leaned against the wall of her workshop and slid down, curling up against the vault. As her anxiety spiraled out of control, she broke into dry sobs, heaving air her ventilators did not need, which served to only curse her lot in life further. Couldn't her mimicry routine let her cry, at least this once?

She just wanted to do good in the world. Any amount, whatever was needed at the moment. Put out a fire. Help the granny over the streets. Lower the kitten from the tree. But was she cut out for this? Guiding others to do the same? It seemed like she wasn't. Or maybe that part of her was just a giant lie? Her personality, her wants, her dreams, how could she even know if those were real, or just an extension of the VEIL? All of it was probably fake! Maybe she should stick to what ASTRAs were made to do. Maybe that all she was good for. Fight. Kill. And when told to, die.

She tried to rationalize some way out of those feelings. Did she not make friends? Did she at least not improve the survivability of her teammates? But no matter the logic or evidence to the contrary, she could not get out of the dark pit her mind sunk into. So she sat there gathering dust all night, like the broken machine she knew she was, until her phone buzzed with Leah's text.

She looked at it and nearly threw the phone against the opposing wall. But that would not help her any. So she gathered what remained of her marbles and opened the vault. The suit’s lens glaring back at her were as empty as she felt. At least she managed to do some of the modifications to this thing. Rerouting the powerline for the chest projector was a bust - Her internal skeleton had a solid layer of adamantium in the front, with overlapping plates to allow for mobility, but no holes to route lines through as that would be a weak point. At least she managed to run redundant power lines into all of the generators, so they should not be disabled with a single hit like last time.

Putting the armor on, she bent down and picked up the box of spare parts, the design making for a faraday cage to protect the insides from EMP. She set it on the table and opened it, shoving in the first aid kit from her backpack and also the Powerglove, just in case. Working the gear reminded her that she also went out of her way to try and explain the capabilities of her armor, so that the team would stop treating her like an Iron Man. She laughed out loud when Diana described that in the first session, she tried to stab her thrusters. There were none, ASTRAs flew by creating a repulsor field around them. Hopefully this knowledge at last might be handy to them today, and they would not ask of her something she just could not do.

She closed the box, picked it up under her arm and off she went.

Training room B…

When she arrived, she spotted that at least some of the team were wearing some more padding than usual. Good. This would be pretty much the first time they would be in a real fight, and injuries were bound to happen. Hopefully not too bad, none if she had a say about it. She set the box of her stuff at the edge of the room behind the hostage and nodded towards the judges, signalling she was ready.

Almost immediately, the opposing team beelined for the objective. Victoria positioned herself between the hostage and them. One of the OpFor seemed to also drain power from around her, which immediately put Victoria on alert. That was a problem for her, but fortunately she spent her time fighting a technopath who was even worse. The tactic was clear: Remove them from the game, ASAP. Alright. You want a villain, I’ll give you a villain. Come here little golem, let me just put you immediately into a headlock with a MFG to your head, see what the heroes d- she thought, but was interrupted when Ed and Diana took a hit. She watched in horror as a nasty burn stretched over Diana’s front side. Soon after, Leah went with her own idea, and Vicky could immediately see it was better than hers. Maybe she should just give Earthbender the reins?

Shaking the surprise off, she focused. Time to get a game face on. Leah managed to separate the enemy team, turning this into a 2v5. Two of them were already hit though. They could use the advantage to restore their capability somewhat, 2v3 was still an advantage. “Ed! Help Diana, take cover behind the hostage! First aid kit in the box behind it, there’s hydrogel spray and painkillers! Zari, Leah, that glowing one will turn me into a degustation menu, waste her!” she called out, uncaring if the enemy heard. It would do them no good if they could not do anything about it, and if this team was good at one thing by now, it should be taking people down. If not, they were all a cavalcade of fuck ups.

The birdbrain was hers. She turned herself into an anti-air artillery: All of her sensors scanned for the threat, with the addition of her left hand MFG shining a searchlight into the area, while she set her rear MFGs to her usual redundant electric field defense. She locked on easily, but both of her shots missed, one went wide as hell, and the other at least made him change course away from the hostage. Vicky cursed herself and shuffled back a little, making sure that any of the enemy team would get zapped if they approached the cage. She would have to trust the rest of her team to take care of the two fliers or wait until her weapons cycled.


17:00 - Fri. Oct. 1st, 2038

Diana decided to hit the school's gym she wanted to do a little bit of a workout they usually spent a lot of their training time in the Framework. She was finishing out her workout for the day as Diana pulled out her phone there wasn't any rule for the teams to have some social interactions really. Diana hit send as she grabbed her water bottle and started to head back over towards her dorm.

"Hey, what are you all doing tonight want to hangout or go to the beach or mall?"

Ed was in one of the computer labs on campus, frantically coding away. He had a huge project that he needed to accomplish soon, and it was taking all of his energy to push it to completion. Anything less than perfection was unacceptable. His code wasn't compiling the way that it needed to, and he was going on his fourteenth hour staring away at the screen. His phone buzzed, alerting him to a notification. His team had made a group chat. He mostly lurked in it, not replying very much. He didn't dislike his teammates or anything, he didn't have an issue with them, he just wasn't... well, he wasn't the most social of people.

Ed left the chat on read, and returned to his work. He was so close, he was certain of it...

Vicky almost jumped out of her skin when the phone buzzed, messing up the soldering she was tunnelvisioning on. Setting the tools down, she had a look and nodded to herself.

Sounds good, didn't leave the campus in a while. I don't fancy taking a dip, but this mall has a decent movie theater and a great karaoke bar.
GPS coordinates atached.

Leah, always the machine she was, had been beating the everloving Christ out of a steel fiber punching bag at the moment. There were already tears in the outer sleeve. Her phone buzzed and she demonstrated her eloquent grasp of the English language.


Zari didn't answer she was probably spending some time with her girlfriend or something, and Ed was doing who knows what he rarely ever did reply to their team's group chat. She didn't mind maybe the three of them could have some kind of fun together as she went to leave the gym and pulled out her phone. Diana hit send and started to make her way back towards her dorm and get herself changed into some normal clothes.

Seems like Ed doesn't want to answer and Zari is most likely with her girlfriend so it's the three of us, meet outside of Stark Hall and we can figure out what we want to do then?

En route.

Vicky shot back, packing her work, pocketing the Powerglove and heading to the meeting place with a quick pitstop at the dorm. Once she arrived, she waved the other two over, a little blue that more of them didn't show up. "Hi there. So, what do you feel like doing? I could do with something to make my head stop thinking, I don't care if it's a chill movie or admiring some outdoors."

Diana waited outside of the building when her attention turned towards Vicky and waved at her as she leaned up against the wall slightly as she put her phone away. "Well was thinking either dinner, or maybe hit up an arcade, or go to the beach whichever works for you all i'm open for whatever I can teleport us wherever we need to go to or just take the bus." Diana offered, she was slightly dissapointed that neither Ed or Zari didn't want to go but she didn't say anything about it.

Realistically, Leah didn’t actually care that much about doing anything fancy with the rest of her team. She couldn’t really resonate with most of them, even the maniac supposed to train them was, well, a fucking maniac. But Vicky was also on this team, and she’s be disappointed if Leah didn’t at least try to get along with them. So, she came anyway. Dressed up in her usual Carhart jacket and oversized sweatpants, Leah wasn’t exactly beach-ready. ”Doesn’t really matter to me all that much. As long as it’s not here, and we don’t get split in half if we’re teleported over to it.”

"Well, If you're volunteering yourself for rockmobile duty, I'm not going to complain." Vicky grinned at Leah, "And I don't think beating up Ed any more is in our best inter-oh that's not the arcade hitting you meant. Ugh... this training is frying my brain!" Victoria rubbed her eyes. Was anyone to look closer, they would see bags starting to form under them. She had to both praise and curse her mimicry software. "If it's all the same to you two then, let's not do anything remotely like training. If I go to a VR arcade I might kill someone on accident. I need to vent, not pour more fuel on my funeral pyre. Grabbing some drinks and chatting sounds great. Do... do you guys sing?" she asked, a finger tugging on her collar nervously.

Diana thought for a moment seeing that the two of them weren't really ready for beachwear for the beach she quickly started to think of something else. "We could go out for dinner or something if you two wanted to instead and just hangout. Or we could see a movie to if you want." Diana offered a video arcade then was off the table since Vicky didn't want to do that. "And no I don't do any kind of singing I completely suck at it." Diana said with a slight laugh.

”Food or a movie sound find to me… I don’t really sing. I mean- I could. Probably, anyway. Never really thought of that, though. Why, is that something you do?” If this was a karaoke thing, then maybe Leah wasn’t the right person for it. She didn’t know any kinds of music that weren’t fit for listening to whole slaying gods or going to war. Then again… Maybe that was perfectly fine. Badass Karaoke sounded interesting.

"I do. I like mostly rock or symphonic metal, but if the song is right for the occasion, I'll do any piece. I don't think I'm a particularly praiseworthy artist or anything, but sometimes the lyrics just fit a situation, person or mood so well..." Victoria explained, "Nevermind though. Looks like movies and food it is. What's playing? As long as it is not vintage sci-fi, I'm good. Seen a bit too much of that recently."

"I do like a lot of rock music and metal myself actually." Diana said giving Victoria a slight smile as she thought about what to do and a movie seemed to be good to her. "I think a movie would be pretty good. I'm not sure whats actually playing right now though but i'm sure we can pick something out that we all like when we get there." Diana offered.

"There's always something playing somewhere, won't be hard to find something. So, who's driving? I don't have a car, but I have rocks," Leah offered. The pioneers used to ride those babies for miles.

"I'm with Diana, let's get to a place and pick out what to see there. And no offense to rocks, but I'd rather teleport or fork over a wad of cash for a limo. We're doing this to unwind, not to get sore behinds, am I right?" she said, looking at the teleporter in question, "I trust you if you say you're up for it."

"I don't mind teleporting us on over there it's not that far of a jump, i've done a lot further." Diana said as she gently rested a hand on both Vicky and Leah's shoulders and closed her eyes, using her power to teleport in a bright flash of blue light they were gone. And a second later they were standing on the sidewalk right in front of the movie theater. "Alrighty we are here thank you for using the Novikova's teleporting service. Any and all nausea, dizziness and or lost limbs i'm not responsible for." Diana said jokingly.

When they teleported, Leah was expecting it to be like falling, or to be like they just took a step forward. Instead, it felt more like skydiving; Falling and being inverted through the air suddenly. Leah almost tripped and fell when they arrived. ”Fucking- Holy shit. That’s disorienting. Damn. Okay, are we here, or are we in space or something?” She snarked, looking around.

"Oi! This went rather well, I say." She countered the unpolished gemstone among them, stepping further away from the road she was almost standing in, before looking up at the programme displays. "Okay let's see what's on display. Bunch of haloween themed stuff... romcom... Mission Impossible 7... Oooh, Fast and Furious XX! And... Barbenheimer II?" She named the last one with an air of confusion. What even...? It sounds like a Sucker Punch sequel...

"You'll get used to it after awhile trust me it was disorienting for me to when my power first manifested." Diana said towards Leah giving her a smile, her brother could do the same thing as well to however his teleportation was way different than her's was. "I'll go and buy us the food i'm fine with whatever movie you two decide to pick." Diana said as she grabbed her purse and pulled out her wallet as she headed for the concession stand to buy them all popcorn and drinks.

”Yeah. Cool.” When she walked off, Leah turned around and looked up at the listings. ”I’ve not seen… Any of these. The hell is Barbenheimer? Fuck it. Let’s pick that. It sounds dumb as hell.”

Vicky was already consulting her phone. "Looks to me like pretty chicks lobbing nukes. Gunporn on steroids. This should be fun." She grinned, going for the ticket booth.

Few hours later...

"That... was... Awesome! Dont get me wrong, the story is stupid, but the VFX? And the music? Chef's. Kiss." Victoria was beaming, feeling more energetic now than any time before this week. "This was a great idea, D. Thanks... same time next week?"

Location: Dorm
Skills: N/A

10:10 AM - Wed. Sep. 15th, 2038

Finally, Victoria had done everything she felt she needed to do on this day out of silicone hell. Now perhaps she could get to the things she wanted to do. Namely, go test out her new piece of kit. Thinking of that brought forth the memory of how that started.

Was it really just a day or so ago? It seemed like a few weeks rather than a few days since the carnival with all that happened today. She was so behind on stuff, too - She didn't even finish her review of her audition, still stuck on the collapsed building. That was when she remembered her last thought of asking the first person she met for an idea. Well. Maybe I can kill two birds with one stone? She thought, and decision made, fished out her phone.

From: Vix
To: DD#1, DD#2

Hi, it's Victoria. Are you guys at your room?
I've got results for that handbag utility idea you put in my head, I could drop by if you want to see it?


Dorian had been given the rest of the day off from his classes. After the incident with Nemo and the very real threat of a C4 explosive, his dorm mother had decided they needed some time off. So, he did what any other teenage boy with a free pass to play Hookey and the ability to roam the halls out of sight would do. Tailing behind the classes he was meant to be in to get a good feel for the students he had been assigned with this year and how the teachers were going to be. After all, this was the first year his life had truly been threatened even if Nemo claimed he knew they'd survive. So it was best to see how many other crazies may think junior year was the best time to start cranking up the heat for the students' survivability.

Once all of his classes had ended, some with a few familiar faces in them, he'd decided to head back to his dorm. To say he was exhausted was an understatement. Between the attack by a teacher, the drama with Zelda, and even more so the drama with April followed up by Danni and tied off with a big ol Percy sized bow, he needed a break. He'd hoped that being a fly on the wall would take his mind off of things, but seeing Percy in one of his classrooms made him dread that class even more. He laid in his bed, unable to sleep as he stared up towards his ceiling before decidedly getting up and putting on his VR gear.

No sooner did his gear turn on that he saw a message notification in the top corner of his H.U.D.

From: Dorian
To: Vicky

Yeah, I'm plugged in right now but feel free to stop by and shoot me a text when you're at the door.
I want to see what you came up with for a portable pocket protector.


Well, it was time to check out some of the others' crib. Victoria curiously noted that this was actually the second time she visited some other dorm room in so many years, the other of course being Cassie's. Fixing her necktie, she set off.

Arriving at the door, she instinctively went to knock on the door before she remembered.

From: Vix
To: DD#1


She sent over, and then grinned. Slipping the Powerglove on, she charged the MFG with a tiny little electric charge and placed her hand on the knob, intending to give Dorian a little bit of a zap as he opened the door.

Dorian watched as a new notification came up, opening it before he shut off his headset and began to take it all off. He placed the pieces back onto their display before making his way towards the door. His hand reached for the knob, turning it as he felt the numbing shock course through his hand. Now, most people would've just screamed and let go, but Dorian wasn't most people. Pranking was in his blood, and he'd be damned if he was going to miss out on an opportunity for it. He let out a loud yelp, making sure to have turned the doorknob fully so that Vicky could see it was unlocked just before she'd hear the sound of a body thumping to the ground. He lay there motionless, still.

Seeing the knob open after hearing the yelp, Vicky wasn't exactly worried. Likewise, Agatha said she should not be admitting students with pacemakers, yet Dorian lived through visiting her just fine. The memory of her own visit made her shudder though. Still. Pushing the door open, she saw him sprawled on the ground. Walking over, she could see he was breathing, so she theatrically checked his pulse. "Oh no." She mock cried… And charged the Powerglove up, safely away to prevent any charge jumping between them. The defibrilator sound it made was very real though. "Clear!" She called out, barely able to keep her tone of voice serious.

Danni came around the corner, whistling as he did. Fingers tapping away at his phone, he sent a thumbs up to Vicki and pocketed it shortly after. A new friend at the dorm! He wondered if he could sneak up on her, scare her as a prank. That'd be funny but he always messed it up and using fire in a prank never ended well; he supposed it was a good thing Dee was making friends. Despite how outgoing he'd been this year so far, he was usually a cute little shut in that Danni would drag away from that silly little computer kicking and screaming to socialize until he finally enjoyed himself. And now, here he was making friends and inviting people over.

He felt like a proud parent.

And that's when he saw it. Vicki standing over Dee, something charging up and Dee motionless on the floor. Flames popped in and out around him as he felt his heart start to race, his breath coming quick and short. Was Dee… dead? "OMG DID YOU KILL 'IM?! 'E COULDN'T 'AVE BEEN T'AT AWKWARD, O' GOD! DEE, DEE LISTEN TO ME!" Danni screamed, racing towards his best friend and sliding down next to him. The tears were already falling and he clutched the body as he wailed. "T'IS IS ALL MY FAULT! I SHOULDN'T 'AVE MADE YOU MAKE FRIENDS, I SHOULD 'AVE LET YOU PLAY YOUR STUPID GAMES T'AT YOU IGNORED ME FOR! WHAT KIND OF FRIEND AM I? PLEASE, PLEASE IF YOU JUST WAKE UP, I WON'T DRAG YOU TA ANOT'ER DANCE PARTY AGAIN, I PROMISE!

Dorian popped up immediately, a huge grin plastered across his face as he looked at Danni pleased. "Promise?!"

Well, that escalated quickly. Vicky thought, quickly powering down the MFG before accidents happened. "Mr. Kingston, I am offended that you believe I would kill a friend without a valid cause." she said in a fake hurt tone, but immediately fished a hanky out of her suit's pocket and offered it to Danni as soon as Dorian made it known he was in fact among the living. "So… how was your day? Because I am tired of the one I had." she groaned.

Danni let out an unholy holy screech as Dee popped up, scrambling away and clinging to Vicky. "Dee, you bastard! No, now you're goin' ta go ta every damn t'in' I want as my plus one, forever! Givin' me a 'eart attack." Danni patted Vicky's face. "Mr. Kingston is my pops or papa 'cause ya know, bot' are Kingston. I'm just Danni! Tell me 'bout your day darlin'. What's 'angin' on t'ese shoulders? Why was it so nasty?"

Dorian pouted as Danni took back his promise. "I already am." he replied with a sorrowful tone as he scooted closer towards Vicky, placing one hand on her gauntleted arm and lifting it to inspect what she'd already begun work on. It was clear that neither of the pair knew the term personal space. "Please tell me you made more t'an a glorified joy buzzer?"

Vicky was fighting the urge to shrink away as the DDs seemed to tackle her. At the same time though, she couldn't help but smile at their antics. Dorian could take a joke and dish it back, that was fun. Danni? Danni was a golden retriever made into a human shape, she was sure.

"Well, that lil gadget started on carnival evening, really. After you put the idea into my head, I first thought: Gun. But I can't shoot a gun. So I thought: What do I know? Well, my armor stuff. So this is literally taken from the gauntlet of my armor. But, I designed it with a pistol grip. Fortunately, mom has a connection to my computer, and saw me working on it. Eheh… turns out there is a law in Cali that says I don't get to carry a gun. And as I said, I can't aim a gun. I know how to aim with the palm of my hand tho! What do you know, I wake up, and this is in the mail, along with a letter from mum. She's the best!" she ended qith a fistpump of her armed hand. "Probably not too many shots in this, but enough to make some bees or bozos buzz off."

Did she just say that in one breath? When did she ever say that much? No time came to mind. Why were these two so easy to talk to? … Questions for later. Turning to Danni, she sighed: "That's… about where the good stuff ended. First I'm on a team with roommate, who I am sure we have nothing in common with and so far, I don't like too much. We went to the team training session and, uh, our coach is an alcoholic ball of rage and cat fur, ye olde combat class teacher. What is the first thing she has us do? Go to the Framework and kill each other. Multiple times. Not a great bonding exercise, Diana got so mad at me!" she half vented and half whined.

"Kept messing with us, too! Summoned bosses out of games to hammer us even more. And when I had the advantage, she changed the rules and made it go away!" She paused to take a breath. "Sorry for raging. I hope you had a better day?" She had to admit, airing out her thoughts was helping, although she didn't like putting the blues on the mood in the room.

"Aw, I can't t'ink your roomie won't bond with you over training 'ell! Great way to make friends, ya know?" Danni cooed sympathetically, unrepentant shifting more of his weight onto Vicky as he patted her cheek. "Let's see… our teammate couldn't 'andle 'ow cool Dee and I are so she fled after she messed up once. We chased 'er down t'e 'all for t'e cure-all cuddle pile, but it didn't work, which I t'ink speaks for 'er character if ya know what I mean, and Starry got 'er and t'en gave us the day off once we got t'rough class. So Beanie and Spicy made it aaaaall t'e way ta t'e end, so Dee got inside Spicy, 'ad a good time poppin' them back ta t'e beginnin', and we made it ta the bomb room after crossing a bottomless chasm, climbin' a vine wall, and givin' doors teet'. Then, the C4 went BOOM! And we were in t'e middle of it, but I t'ought it felt like a 'ot stone massage and Dee popped and locked into the ghosty worlds so small good! But then my clot'es were ruined and I had a itsy, bitsy mental breakdown before my shower and pleacing out! Oh and Bear Bear came by and t'en left wit'out sayin' not'in'. Wierd but eh."

Dorian tugged at the edges of the mechanical gauntlet, testing how easy it was to remove off of her in the event a villain tried to disarm her. He cooked his head to the side when Vicky mentioned only getting a couple of shots off with it before inspecting it further. "T'ats odd. What powers t'e glove? Surely you can add some form of solar intake to 'elp charge it while out in t'e field. Or perhaps it would be better to make clips like a magazine in a gun so t'at once you run out of shots you can reload quickly and keep goin'. Personally I'd go for t'e second idea, allows for versatility. Sometimes you don't need shots but could use a grapplin' 'ook or fire retardant, or whatever. T'at way t'e magazine can be swapped around wit' other uses like a utility belt."

Dorian was mostly thinking out loud as he rambled on about possible ideas and attachments, already thinking of ways to improve upon an already impressive design. But that was just how his mind worked, once the first thing was done he was already on to the next, finding ways to keep tweaking it even past the point of perfection. "I say ignore Diana, she can get a bit competitive at times. Just be glad you guys 'ad t'e framework. Ours were real bombs wit' real t'reats. But it's good she kept changin' t'e rules. Keep you on your toes ya know? Villains won't always play by t'e rules, makin' up t'ier own as t'e fight goes on. So 'avin to experience t'at early? A blessin in disguise if you ask me."

Vicky stared at the two of them in bewilderment for a second, most of the things getting filed for later conversation once explosives were mentioned. "What? Are they having a bubble bath? I know of better ways to balance the school budget than offing a few students!" she groaned. Fun times were ahead, it seemed. "That's almost as bad as when I died visiting Agatha! What is wrong with the faculty here? Have you talked to anyone on Nimue's team? Did they also have it this bad?" She did not believe it. Could it be that Usagi was the least mad of the coaches? Preposterous! And yet, it seemed that the guys were right, going to the Framework carried no risk aside from finding out how badly most of your teammates sucked at something so basic as survival.

Her eyes ticking from Dorian to Danni and back, her arms suddenly flew towards them as she gave each of them a one armed hug. "I'm glad you're okay."

"Aw, Vicky! Arent' ya a wittle softie?" Danni laughed as he went easily into the hug, wrapping his arms around her fully. He had decided this was were he was now and Vicky was just gunna have to deal with it. He wiggled a little to make himself comfortable "Princess fought a Questin' Beast and Mot'man!. T'ough, I told 'er what Aggie told me: Nimue is a Sinister clone so I t'ought Beanie could wriggle waggle 'er way into t'e villains brain and give Princess a 'Eads up on what's ta come!"

Dorian yelped as Vicky went to hug him, speaking in wheezes as he tried to adjust himself within the impromptu hug. "Wait, why'd you almost die at Aggies? She's not t'at spooky, and she was super sweet." He asked as he wondered if everyone was going to react this way when they found out about the bomb incident. They were heroes, if they couldn't survive a simple c4 bomb then what good were they? Hell even Sabine and Percy had managed it.

"Err… Who's Princess again? Wait, on Nimue's team… Elder Flynn?" Vicky deduced, none of the others quite fitting such description in her opinion. She fought off a biting remark about how well that checked, though probably for different reasons than Danni gave her that nickname, before the gramophone in her head skipped over a scratch, "Come again? Nimue's a what? You sure the old hag wasn't pulling your leg? Or are you pulling mine?" She eyed Danni with suspicion, before turning to Dorian.

"I don't think I almost died. I was rooming with a wizard until now, you know? I never felt, measured, or otherwise observed any of his spellwork, and you believe me I tried. Yet, the second I walked into Agatha's tent, some defensive spell must have reacted badly to me or something, because I started seeing… runes, and thaumaturgical symbols, and stuff… and not with my eyes! But, like, in my mind. And then just… dark." She tried to explain, her hands leaving the embrace and making undecodable gestures in a vain attempt to aid her description as she spoke.

"I don't have the words for the feeling, but I just know I was gone." Well, the truth is I can't tell you how I know, but good enough. She thought, "I don't know what she had to do to bring me back, and when I asked she told me to ask again when I'm older. But it took some effort, because when I came back to, it was already night, and I swear I could feel magic coursing through me until the next day. I just… I hope that what she pulled back from limbo is still me. All of me. And with nothing extra." She shuddered at the thought, wrapping her arms around herself anxiously. "Anyway, then we had a lovely chat and said our farewells. So yes, Agatha isn't spooky or something, and I would take her as a coach over Usagi in a heartbeat. But she also isn't exactly careful or concerned about one's well being, either."

"Oh! She also gave me a viking shield. Beautiful restored antique! Did you get fortunes told by the way?" She beamed, before her eyes grew serious again as she turned back to Danni. "Speaking of gifts… Did I mention I adore dragons? Are you taking good care of that egg, Danni, or do I need to go CPS on your ass?" She gave him a toothy smile that somehow promised unspecified doom in an unknown future if something terrible happened to the creature.

"No, no, no scouts honor, Nimue's a Sinister clone! Like, listen. I'd 'eard about a Sinister clone slippin' inta t'e school and Aggie just used 'er tarot cards ta confirm it! Nimmie's a clone, we can count on t'at!" Danni insisted, happy to skip over his actual fortune because he really didn't want the negative vibes that the thought of killing everyone he loved and cared about would bring around. "Well, next time ya die, we'll just have Papa bring you back as a ghost and that way you can still 'ang out wit' Dee and me! Might take some gettin' used ta since Dee's t'e only one who can see ya but Uncle Benji did it for a 'ot minute so we'll figure it out!"

At the mention of his egg, Danni waved away her concerns and pointed where he had it all snuggled up in a small pile of clothes and blankets under a lamp. "Nice and toasty, like an egg should be! I've told it every day all.about what's going on in t'e world, or t'is school at least, and it'll be very against Sinister clones when it hatches." Speaking of hatching, he snapped his fingers. "I gotta get wit' Mads 'bout t'e library. 'onestly, t'e number system makes my 'ead all fuzzy and t'en before I know it, all I care 'bout is my bed."

Dorian ignored all the banter about the Sinister Clones, after all his grandpa was always doing some shit with DNA and cloning or something or other. So he wouldn't be surprised if Nimue was a Sinister clone, it just meant they needed to keep a closer eye on April. However Vicky's recount of the whole reading seemed…wrong. Just factually wrong. Bringing people back from the dead was a big no no as far as he'd been told growing up, and even more so… "You went to Limbo? Why t'eir? I've 'eard stories about my fat'ers time in Limbo, 'e didn't die mind you just…ended up t'eir, anyways, How'd you manage to fight off t'e 'ord of demons? T'e Green Eyed One? T'e Red Smoke?" Limbo was a very real horror story. Something Dorian could sink his teeth into but never actually wanted to visit.

"Eit'er way, You may just 'ave a 'yper sensitivity to Magic. Your roommate was probably not as strong, Aggies shit is very potent, could knock you out for a good spell if you're too sensitive to it all." Dorian said nonchalantly. It wasn't as though he didn't believe her, but he felt no such warnings when he'd walked in, and if Aggie wanted to kill a student she wouldn't of brought them back.

Being made at ease about the egg's wellbeing, Vicky listened to Dorian and it took a while until she realized her error. "Oh! No, sorry - lowercase 'el' limbo, not uppercase Limbo. I… don't recall anything from when I was out. Sorry, no afterlife spoilers. Either there is none, or whoever is in charge does not let you keep the memories if someone plucks you out." She smiled sheepishly, looking back at Danni, "I do not want to ghost around though, no thank you. If that happens, tell Cassie I died some heroic death so that I get to one up her one last time and burn all evidence to the contrary." She smirked.

"Anyway! Enough of the gloomy stuff! So yeah, this thing." She tapped the glove, "I like that I can literally have this in my pocket, so hard pass on the grappling hook. As far as carrying spare batteries or, stars forbid, an utility belt goes… Danni back me up here, tactical rigging on a suit would be hideous!" She groaned, "I could put a powerpack into the handbag tho. Say, what did you two do for your auditions? Mine went… okay… but I'd like to show you, if you have some ideas, because I am stuck coming up with better solutions to one of the problems I faced." She admitted.

Danni nodded sagely at her evaluation of tactical rigging on a suit. Sure it may be functional but let's be real - you either needed a high level tech designer to make it really work or suffer the humiliation of bad design. At the mention of audtions, he let out an awkward laugh, rubbing the back of his neck. "Auditions, oh oof. Well, it was fun, but yeah, callin' it a flamin' 'ot mess wouldn't be too far off. I got a little too big for my britches, tried ta set too much on fire, and 'it the judge's table instead. Makes sense that Poisson-Pas's stuff is timey wimey stuff - t'e nut managed ta pack up 'is bag and get out of t'e blast radius wit'out breakin' a sweat! I got a decent amount of 'eight on lift off but t'e finale fell t'rough at t'e end. Was supposed ta be a big 'splosion, Danni added in a sound effect as his arms spread out before sighing in defeat. "But I over extorted myself and all I got was a puff of fire."

"Show us whatcha did! We'll 'elp 'owever we can! T'ough Dee is t'e ones wit' t'e brains; I'm just t'e arm candy." Danni laughed.

"I did a performative number as an 'omage to classic movies two of which involved ghosts t'e t'ird was just for fun. Took a lot of possessin' and flyin' about. 'onestly it went great…save for t'e end when i couldn't make it back from t'e Astral Realm. But let's see what problem you've got." Dorian replied wondering exactly how she planned to show them what it was she needed help with.

Smirking, Victoria tossed her phone up, catching it after it performed a couple of backflips. “You’ve got a VR setup, right? I went in with my armor and I recorded the whole thing. How would you like to be there? Otherwise, widescreen over yonder would do.” she pointed over her shoulder at the guys’ setup.

After the phone was plugged in, Vicky linked it to her computer in the workshop, using it as a relay. As the record of her audition started playing, the DDs would also see that unlike almost everyone else, Victoria did not do a static or fighting demo, but rather a rescue scenario. She commented on her thought processes as the replay progressed.

“With the car crash, it was too late for the drivers and passengers, but I figured out if another fire broke out, things would get a whole lot worse. No offense to the present company. Once I dragged the tanker out, the fuel would have leaked into the sewers, which I suppose is a relatively major enviro burden, but I did not want to waste too much time when other people were in danger. I’m relatively happy with that one.”

“I had to decide whether to go for the people that had the least chance to live first in a hope of rescuing them, or last and give the others a far greater chance to live. I did a search and in the end, the math came out to go rescue people from the flooded area. Any victims in the burning building would have either found a safe spot and would last relatively unscathed for a while longer, or the CO poisoning would have already been setting in. But if I went there on the miniscule chance to help them, people in the flooded area that would have otherwise had a good chance of making it out would have drowned. So, I chose the flooded place. It was a… Cold… decision, but I stand by it. Of course, I almost killed a guy because I stupidly blasted the roof of the ceiling he was trapped in, but it worked out in the end and you can make sure I will not be making that mistake again.”

“Nothing of interest happened at the fire. The classic, people trapped in air pockets and balconies. It is the collapse that I just don’t know how to tackle though. I tried finding the people by noise. I tried running a simulation of putting the rubble into zero-G and digging them out. But no cigar. To top it all off, when I searched afterwards, there is also the hazard of exposed power lines, broken gas pipes and the like. Honestly, I am stumped at what else could I do other than wait for the rescue team with the heavy machinery. Any ideas?”

"Well, ta even consider 'ow ta approach it, do ya 'ave any imagin' equipment, cameras, sonar, etc? Problem wit' t'is is t'at we can't see 'ow the areas under evryt'in' is supported so anyt'in' you did could 'ave potentially made it worse since, ya know, you're runnin' around blind and trigger ot'er t'in's furt'er in, ya know? 'onestly, seems like t'at was the right call ta me." Danni shrugged after watching. Disaster Management was a class he took early on, not so mistakenly considering himself a disaster he'd have to watch out for.

"As Poisson-Pas might say, or at least I imagine he would, "Sometimes, choosing to do nothing is the most heroic choice of all." Causes 'e tried ta be t'at wise old man in hero movies, ya know?" Danni explained, mimicking Poisson-Pas's accent as best as possible.

Dorian put on the VR headset. Deciding it would best help him to help Vicky if he could see all of it from her eyes. She'd mentioned the Collapse was what she was struggling with, but he saw a few areas that he believed could be improved over all. "Danni's right about t'e tech. 'ard to say what could've been done better if we don't know t'e full array. 'owever, Sonar as well as small drones would be t'e best ways to 'andle t'at situation like 'e said. My concern is for t'e ot'er exercises. You let t'e tanker continue to leak, Best solution would-be to have a cryogenic capsule or spray to cover t'e 'ole and stop t'e leak entirely. 'ell you could've also carpet bombed t'e area wit' some sand or ot'er sort of t'ing to bot' abosrb t'e chemical as well as put out the fire while you transported t'e tanker. Aside from t'at bot' in t'e fire rescue and under water rescue you could've benefitted from 'aving an oxygen supply for t'ose you rescued. Maybe somet'ing t'at functions like gills, takin' in the oxygen from t'e water and using it to supply it to t'e rescue. T'at gives t'em less chances of drownin' as well as 'elps wit' t'e smoke inhalation."

Vicky sat down cross legged on the floor, pondering their suggestions. She did not expect to get ideas for the rest of the session, but hey, feedback was always welcome. “I can basically do any electromagnetic field, or use repulsors. Both either as a directed energy or as a deformed spheroid field.” she said, tapping on her chin. “I don’t have any drone units currently installed though that could be arranged. End to beginning… Sonar I don’t think would be overly helpful. There is way too much complexity in such a collapse. To be useful, you’re talking seismology levels, which might cause it to collapse even further in the first place. Radar though… Hm… Concrete does not have good electrical permittivity, and the frequent cavities in the collapse would still cause quite a lot of scattering, but maybe if I took a look from more angles and constructed like a tomograph, I could filter the noise out and create a 3D map of the internal structure, yeah. With some training, interpreting ground penetrating radar signals is still quite a bit skill based.”

She looked at Danni in surprise when he guessed at what Nemo might have said. “That’s pretty much verbatim what was on my evaluation sheet. As far as oxygen supply goes, well, I can’t quite carry a truck trailer of gear with me on every mission just to be ready for whatever. While I knew what I ordered to be in the sim, I wanted to show that I can adapt to the various situations even if I didn't. The tanker… I guess I could have done more, but the question is: Did I have the time? There were people drowning and maybe cooking to death. I think even if I could spread out some sorbent, I'd still choose not to. Same issue with some cryo solution: I'm good, but I am still subject to laws of thermodynamics, and heat only goes from hot to cold places. I can heat stuff up using IR laser well, but there's no such thing as a chill beam, and I can't exactly lug a bottle of LN2 with me.” she reviewed.

"Bah, why are we talkin' about school work? T'at's borin'." Danni declared, jumping up onto his bed. "What we need ta talk about is t'e Contest of Campions. We should tots put your and Dee's scouting power together and spy on t'e other teams for their strats so we can prep ta beat them! It'd be a good way for ya ta develop some mini-drones and test 'em and Dee can practice… idk, ghostie stuff. Ya know, team up wit' each other ta defeat everyone else and t'en we'll go head ta head in the finals!"

Dorian thought Vicky was giving up too quickly on the idea of new gear. Just because something didn't exist didn't mean that it wasn't waiting to be invented. Hell if Stark could make it to space with one of his suits, who's to say the next line of geniuses couldn't perfect it? Solar power already existed, so why couldn't they find a way to extract the oxygen from the air or water to channel it into a funnel used to give an oxygen mask for a victim? "Well…it would be a good idea to keep an eye on t'e ot'er teams strats."

Victoria giggled at the last exchange. "What, you guys are telling me you don't have an intel board? Am I the only one here who made notes on what makes others tick? I'm fairly certain you-" she pointed the Finger of Accusation at Dorian, "-are for whatever reason doing your best to avoid getting physical with me in Combat 301. Even if I fight unarmored at the time, and despite you having a sword against my hand to hand." She noted with a confident smirk. "The carnival was also a treasure trove. That reminds me I need to confirm whether Diana is scared of bees or fire." Vicky grinned savagely.

As the conversation turned to the contest, Vicky’s face drooped: “Fat load of BS the contest is. It’s giving people incorrect motivation. Whoever is here to ‘get on the Avengers’ or ‘Win the contest’ should get their priorities straight. You should be here to learn to help people, period. Feels to me like some on my team get that, that makes me a happy girl.” she smiled, “If only our coach could see that. I swear, I need to make some sort of a deal with the devil to try and sway our training off of that focus for at least on occasion. If all we do is fight each other, we’ll be highly specialized at fighting ourselves. That’s not just bad for the contest, that’s bad for anything. We need to be training how to fight as a team, and preferably not just fight. Who knows what the damn qualifiers are going to be, if they are a rescue scenario, we’ll be hosed!” she complained. “Therefore, if you want to make a cartel deal and play the system, I’m game. And I’m sure Arcade would be too. I suppose the question is: How many privacy laws are you willing to break in the process?” she asked, her eyes squinting in thought. And of course, I’ll be making damn sure I get the intel even if Bassard removes it from my head. Don’t think I wouldn’t be watching you too.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. 'Ere in t'is dorm, we stan the Contest of Champions! I wanna fight and win against all t'ese people 'ere! I don't mind if I get on t'e Avengers or nat; I'll be a 'ero eit'er way, but I def want t'e spotlight. It'd be a shame ta look t'is good and not 'ave a chance ta show myself off." Danni rolled over to send Vicky a smirk and propped his head on his hand. "And no, I don't 'ave an intell board - Dee might but I run on vibes, caffeine, fire power, and pure instinct. Not'in' goin' on behind my pretty eyes but t'at's why I got Princess and Dee!" Danni laughed, beaming at his best friend.

"And 'onestly, privacy is more of a suggestion t'an a rule, right?"

Dorian snickered at Vicky's question about privacy. It felt as if she hadn't even met them yet. "A whole intel board and you 'ave to ask about privacy? My powers invade it on t'e most personal level to begin wit'. If you 'ave to ask t'at you need to expand your Intel to encompass a whole lot more." rarely would Dorian consider himself cocky, but when it came to the Contest of Champions he was fully delulu that the terrific trio could conquer anything put before them. "Besides, it's only day 1, give Usagi a chance to expand your training."

Victoria did her best Mr. Burns impression. “Oh, I am learning more about your limits every second. Well, lack thereof. Well, then as long as we don’t get caught, and I think I might have a plan on how to do that… How about we bug every training area we can think of and just listen in? I would bug the dorms too but… I don’t want to hear too much.” she said, mimicking a gag, “Maybe the teachers’ places though? Get some ideas on what they are planning for us. I already hate the contest, I don’t care if I get disqualified if they find out. I think my team can handle manufacturing and operations, and the ghost over here can probably handle deployment without getting busted. I think Ed would be all aboard with this little idea.” she nodded, pointing to Dorian. “Regarding Usagi… If I didn’t already have two years of combat class with her under the belt, I might be optimistic, but I just don’t see getting it unless I take it. But I am not at the point of challenging her to a Trial of Grievance yet.”

"Ooooh, def bug t'e trainin' rooms! I don't t'ink t'is will disqualify us t'ough; if t'e Avengers knew where t'e base of t'eir enemies were but 'ad ta wait ta kick t'eir asses, buggin' t'eir lair would be t'e least scoutin' t'ey'd do." Danni reasoned. "It's just good recon practice! But t'e teachers' places we probs shouldn't. T'ey probably like, discuss test answers and ot'er borin' teacher stuff and if t'ey t'ink we're cheatin' on tests, t'en t'ey will expel us and if I got expelled, I'd never be able ta show my beautiful face ever again. T'ough, t'e tea in t'e teacher dorms would probs be fuckin' awesome. Ugh, why are bad t'in's so 'ard ta resist?"

"Well we know t'rough our intel board t'at Vicky doesn't 'ave any drones or spy equipment. Which means t'e first 'urdle is makin' or acquirin' some for us to use. T'en after we should totally bug t'e trainin' rooms and if possible t'e framework. 'Ack it to record and show what 'appens inside the virtual field." Couldn't have Vicky's group escape their eye after all. Dorian looked at Vicky pointedly, seeing if she'd know of a way to make undetectable spy gear for this use or if it'd all be a wash.

”I know right!” Victoria exclaimed at Danni. ”Forbidden fruit tastes the best. But, yeah, good point with the test results. Maybe the teacher’s table at the cafeteria though? If you’re looking for Tea, I’d wager that would be the place to listen to.” He had a good point about the scouting being part of preparation for the contest. It made so much sense! The game was already on, and she didn’t even notice. He was right, no one said they only had to prepare for it in the official training sessions.

Turning to dorian, she snickered. ”More like a hastily scribbled on intel napkin. But, drones would be too conspicuous. I’m thinking something far smaller, and I think we can get such a hardware off the shelf, and even if not, building a few button sized bugs to listen to is child's play. Arcade is also up to his elbows in the Framework already, and Usagi spilled the beans that the Young Avengers are there every damn night. You don’t have to go past ‘wiping the floor with Cassie’ to get me on board.” she rubbed her hands, ”I’ll need to open up a build queue though, but this is definitely up there.” Right along telling Ed to delete any records of ours.

"Okay, okay, okay. So Vicky's rockin' t'e bugs, Dee's plantin' t'e bugs, and I'm here just ta look cute and distract people if t'ey catch on. And we're gettin' t'e Frameowrk stuff too. Oh, t'is gunna be so much fun! I can't wait ta tell Princess! Actually ya know what, picture time! Danni decided, hopping off the bed and hauling Dee with him to Vicky. He held his phone up to take a selfie of all of them. "Everyone say Champions!" Danni said as he snapped the picture.

"Champions" Dorian said with a wide smile as he nuzzled up next to Danni for the photo. If Vicky said it was child's play, far be it from him to counter her. So long as she could provide the bugs he could plant them. Of Course he was planning on installing a few extra of his own just to be safe in the event one of hers failed. One could never be too cautious when gathering intel after all and he trusted his handiwork.

”You know it would be better not to tell every other team we’re spying on them, right? I can’t help but think you’re being in denial just which Flynn you are on a team with. Vicky groaned, before being photo op’d. ”Uh! champions?” she managed to squeeze out, only winding up looking confused in the picture. ”Well, I guess it’s a wrap for today? Thanks for all the ideas, this oughta keep me occupied on my insomniac nights. Fill in the rest of your team on the plan and I’ll do the same, and I’ll let you know when I have the stuff. Well. Good night?” she wished them well, waving as she got up to leave.

Danni waved away Vicky's concerns. "Princess won't snitch on us, don't worry! We can tell 'er and it'll be perfectly safe!" Danni insisted. "And no leaving t'e dorm wit'out t'e most important t'in'! 'ugs!" Danni wrapped Vicky up in a big hug, holding on until Dee joined as well.

Dorian joined in on the hug, squeezing them both as their hugs compounded onto Vicky tightly. "Anytime V, if you ever need more ideas you know where we are. We'll usually."

Location: Framework lobby
Skills: Data gathering and analysis
Equipment: N/A

10:10 AM - Wed. Sep. 15th, 2038

The conclusion left her wanting. "Mission failed." Victoria whispered under her breath. Wholesome as the scene was, they had an objective: Be the last one standing. That always left space for only one of them to succeed, but now they all failed, as two of them emerged out as last. She waited for a little while to see if either of them would stab the other in the back, but when the simulation turned off, she sighed, turning away from the screen.

The news of being made a leader of this lot left her indifferent. She did not mind it. Eventually, she was meant to lead the first batch of serial production ASTRAs after all. Best to start getting into such a role. It did feel like she was just given monumental amount of homework though. Besides, who am I kidding? I'm not their leader. They didn't pick me. I'm the commanding officer at best. I'll need to earn the rest first. she looked at the faces of the others.

An excitable child in the body of a goddess. A coward with a brain. An archer with a temper. An earthbender who may not be just an earthbender. The robot in disguise. And then, there was the teacher who seemed like her dream team was a company of murderhobos. Oh boy... The team she could deal with. It was the coach that would be a problem. Whatever Usagi's motivation was, Vicky decided right there and then that even if she ended up getting ground into powder under her paw, she had to try and shield the rest of the team from most of Usagi's insane bloodlust, and do her best to turn the purpose of these sessions from training how to end lives to training how to preserve them.

Speaking of, the first lives they would need to preserve were their own. Something this session shown needed not just improvement, some of them needed the basics. Better strike the iron while it's hot. "Go sluice off and then reassemble here, I want to show you something." She asked, wanting to get this thought over now so that they had time to think of it before the next session.

As the rest of the lot filed out to the changing rooms, Vicky plopped down behind the computers, found the image she needed and maximized it over the screen, waiting for the rest to come back.

"This is called the survival onion. With you in the middle, these are all of the layers of protection that have to fail before you die. I want you all to commit this to memory, because I really don't want to be reporting KIAs on our first real mission.

The first one is easy. Shoot first. Even if you miss, you can now correct your aim off of your first shot, and the other guy... Let's just say that getting shot at is what is known as significant emotional event.

Second, stay out of their sight. Ed, this is what I meant when I said you had the best approach. You were able to remain completely unmolested until you broke cover, good job. I hope you know it will not always be a viable strategy though.

Next, prevent the enemy from making an attempt even if you know where they are. Take cover etc. Leah, fine job with the pillars, although I'll admit I was surprised I punched through one. We'll have to keep the quality of the cover in mind.

If that fails: Dodge. This is what I need to work on. When I'm not in the air I tend to stand around and get hit by boulders like an idiot.

If you can't prevent the enemy from hitting you, kill them before they kill you. Diana, Zarina, this is you. Points for teamwork, and right away for picking incorrect targets. Zari should have rightly been engaging me and I should have checked out immediately. Instead..."
She gave Diana a meaningful look.

"Once you get hit, all may still not be lost. Some of us can resist hits better than others. Diana, Ed, if you want, drop by and let's see if I can give some of your outsits kevlar lining, blast padding and the like.

And if you survive the hit, you need to do damage control - brace a broken leg, stop bleeding - And restore capability, e.g. find a stick to use as a crutch.

I'd like all of you to think on what you could have done better today knowing all of this. Hit me up if you want to talk about it. I think we'll have ample opportunity to practice this."
she said, giving Usagi a nasty side eye, "And hit me up if I can help you figure it out. Also, Diana, when you have time, I'd like to talk to you and to try my hand at preventing that half-teleportation problem. Ed, I'll send you some material on how to communicate in the field. We had a plan, and then you ran out on me without a beep. That gets people killed. Otherwise, I believe we have more classes to be in." she looked at Usagi for confirmation that today's lesson was done, and then finally hit the showers herself, before her hair solidified into a helmet.

Location: Framework lobby
Skills: N/A

Well, that was bound to happen sooner or later. I'll take four to one in my advantage at this time. The ordeal was finally over as the real world came back into view, distorted by the gelatin she was suspended in. If Usagi's goal here was to evaluate what each of them individually had to bring to the table, Victoria believed the bunnycat would be screming right now. Or possibly crying, cursing her team pick. Though I still bet she just wanted to see us kill and die for shits and giggles as well, the damn psycho. The blonde thought bitterly. Well, whether the teacher was worth her salt or not, Victoria had her own assessment to make, though she still wanted to see how the rest of the simulation would play out before writing the after action report for her mentor.

The entire event replayed itself in her mind several times while she reached up with her hand, pulled herself up and stood leaning over the tank, wrenching the bacta out of her hair. Gah, I hate this gunk! And with all the eyes here I can't even have the shell nanites shake it off! she grunted as she gave the sloppy blond mop a final twist, trying to decide whether to immediately go sluice off or stay in case the infernal cat had something of note to say. What are the odds of that! Nevertheless, she only scraped the mess off of her wetsuit back into the tank the best she could before climbing down.

Victoria first decided to give the teacher the benefit of her waning doubt. But, as she reached the floor, turned around and saw that Usagi has put all of their deaths on an instant replay loop, as well as hearing the verbal vomit she graced them with, she was overcome with hopelesness and general dread for their future. Without sparing Usagi as much as a glance or a word, she walked over to the screens. "Well isn't that the pot calling the kettle black?", she snorted at Ed's protest before she settled her gaze on the feed, taking what limited information it provided and quietly rooting for Leah to somehow kick Zarina's ass, despite the odds being stacked against her, making some final notes.

Location: Framework simulation
Skills: Mechatronics, Data analysis, armored aerial combat
Equipment: Shieldmaiden armor

The field seemed to be full of cheating bastards today. At least Zari had the decency to only pull off minor glitches, but this? This could not have possibly been relevant to any concievable purpose this simulation had. She briefly thought of bringing her real body online in the bacta tank and showing these chumps what real hacking looked like, but eventually settled on not lowering herself to their level. Well, it's not like a real battle wouldn't be stacked at times. Soldier on.

A different worry was worming its way into her mind though. Edward obviously screwed with the Framework more than he let on. While she thought it would be perfectly safe for organics since Ed would hopefully not do any modification that was dangerous to himself, could she say the same for herself? She was not interested in catching some cheat enabling virus! Better to try and end this quickly.

For many reasons. A blast from Ed missed her. Not so much some of the others. Judging by the fact that Leah didn't check out immediately, her armor should be able to tank a few hits if push came to shove.

Vicky reviewed her priority list. Zari was still on top, however that fight still required ditching the armor. As there was no guarantee she would have the time to put it back on, Ed had to be dealt with first. And Leah remained an unknown, given that transformation she pulled off earlier.

Pointing her sensors at the mech, she identified what might have been the cockpit. If she could break in, it was over for him. Firing up her remaining generators, she launched herself at the target, jinking to avoid any missiles and such. What she didn't account for was getting swatted away like a fly by one of the arms, taking a tumble throuh the dirt.

Taking a moment to contemplate life's choies (and run diagnostics), she got off of the ground and back to her feet. She needed her ranged capabilities back. That meant taking some of the armor plates off and swapping the generators between mounts.

When Leah started burying Arcade in the ground, Vicky gathered she had two options. Retreat behind the entombed cornucopia and affect repairs, or, hearing Leah call to them to pile on the attack, ride the wave of Leah feeling team spirited. And while Vicky would prefer having weapons she was more comfortable with, having a wider variety of preferably low tech weapons would be far better later.

Time to see is she could manipulate the pawns on the board. "No way to know if that sword will still act as his kryptonite. Drop the shell on the cornucopia, let's rearm and hit him hard!"

While I like good technobabble as the next guy, best writing approach seems to be "as poweryl as needed for the story" in my experience xD

Location: Framework simulation
Equipment: Shieldmaiden armor

As she predicted, Diana could be heard on the horn where Usagi was before. Vicky could not help but feel a smug smile settle on her face as she predicted that correctly, perfectly happy about it being hidden by her helmet. That said, she seemed to be having trouble remembering exactly what happened. So Vicky got on a horn of her own, jacking the speakers on her suit to maximum volume.

"What do you mean? As far as I'm aware, the third time you killed yourself, and the first time it could be argued it was your arrogance that killed you, really. I mean, seriously now? You stopped within punching range to brag about the fact you didn't even do what you set out to do, and then gloated about it being good enough. You better not get into any rap battles, because you'll get laughed out of them." She could not help teasing a bit.

"Still, if food is a required compensation for doing what we were told to do, then I guess a dinner AND breakfast in bed are on me? So long as I'm not obliged to be the one cooking, I don't want to actually kill you for real." She shrugged. Seeing that Leah seemed to have the giant red monster somewhat in hand, she looked at the rest ofthe battlefield.

Having blasted Edward to oblivion rather than Zari was unexpected, but not unwelcome or for that matter unplanned. Victoria's grand strategy was to get herself to a situation where she had the most lives left, and then launch attacks at masse to kill everyone, at the expense of her life if need be. In the end, she would come out on top. That meant killing Edward as soon as Zari was down a heart. Diana merely expedited the effort.

Now, she merely needed to blow herself up twice and- NGHH!!! She groaned in her mind as the Felix Infernal shouted again and she felt herself die twice over. She had to fight down the urge to just take her helmet off and blast a hole through her own head, just so she could be done with this shit! So that's what it is. We're not playing hunger games. We're not playing Zelda. We are in fucking worms. Probably what she thinks of us, too.

Okay, breathe innnnnn... Breathe outttttt... I'm fine, I'm fine. Plan B... Vicky looked around. Diana was dead. Leah was trying to contain the monser. Ed was looking around, disgruntled. Zari was fawning over a blade. And herself, she has done more teaching than learning here. This entire session summed up in a word? Lame. "That's it. Everyone dies." She grumbled for herself and charged up her hand projectors. Two beams of red lasers sliced through the air, only to shut down immediately as the MF generators gave out under the load, as in her bewildered state, she forgot to let them cool down after the boosted attack.

Okay. It's okay. Breathe innnnnnn...



Location: Coruscant, polar orbit

Having finished what scans they could and having little more than the other ships to show for it, the Commander decided to move the Avenger into a low polar orbit over the planet to make it easier to deploy via Skyranger when called. XCOM did not have to wait long.

This time it wasn't Carter on the horn though. "Folding ourselves into their command was a genius idea. I've had the privilege of witnessing some of your council meetings and had to manage the resistance factions before we got you back. I don't envy Carter having to manage all of the multiversal dignitaries." Bradford grunted.

"Hear, hear. Let's see what got filtered through the grapevine. Patch me through... Hammond, Avenger actual. Roger that. AO and objectives, over?" The Commander inquired.

"We have a strategy gor dealing with the target as a whole, however it is critical that we hit as many of them at once, as the enemy may build immunity over multiple exposures to the weapon. Likewise, we will need to confirm the location of the enemy command element, the humanform known as 'sixth'. It was last seen within the Jedi twmple that is the epicenter of the infection. Major Hailey advised that your unit is uniquely equipped and qualified for deployment in high risk areas. Be advised, we may deploy the weapon as soon as you confirm the objective's presence. The blast will take the form of an EM Pulse, sending the waveform specification now. Plan accordingly. Over."

"Understood, Hammond. We'll have a mission update in ten. Avenger out." As the channel clicked off in her ear, the commander turned to her senior staff that has already gathered around the hologlobe. "What have we got?"

Lily took the word first. "The squad will be deploying into a heavily infested area. From the Hammond's records, if they had enough time to replicate, even the floor may be composed of the angry legos. The Major noted that our magnetic weapons will likely have great effect on the block based replicators, although she noted the limited ammunition as a significant issue. I would recommend deploying with autoreloaders. Makes you wish we pursued the grenadier development."

"Wasn't too useful against the enemy at the time. We may want to investigate that now, but that will not affect this mission." Bradford noted, "Likewise, frag grenades are probably better choice than the plasma ones. We still have old stocks form the original war on board, might as well finally get a use out of them. Given that this is a recon mission, I would suggest deploying only a small squad. Outrider is best to take the lead on this one. Given the potential EMP strike, Julian should probably sit this one out."

"For that matter, the Gremlins of our specialists will also need to shut down to survive it. They are hardened, but not to such degree to survive the hit while operational." Shen frowned.

Bradford nodded, "Given the ammo situation, we should also deploy using rifles only. Shotguns and sniper rifles are not going to be of much use, and I would save the psions for a rainy day. Is the Hammond going to deploy the squad via their transporter?"

"I would suggest deploying via Skyranger." Tygan added to the discussion, "As we know from Hammond's brief, the replicators are attracted to two things: Advanced technology and highly energetic events. The transported technology has been known to attract their attention, whereas the Skyranger is relatively primitive in comparison with the other technologies available on the planet. Unless this humanform intervenes directly, the Skyranger could deploy our squad virtually undetected."

"Don't let Firebrand hear you say the words Skyranger and Primitive in one sentence, doctor. Very well. Tell Dragunova, Starke and Trask to suit up. Warden armor, mag rifles and frag grenades only. I'll brief the squad en-route." the commander decided, "Central, let Hammond know when we're ready, I'll get on the horn to request clear path for the Skyranger."

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