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    Those Who Fight Further.

    Bad John
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 1223
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Location : A box in the United States.

    Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 24th 2017, 4:27 pm

    "I haven't had the chance to ask, but why'd you pick me for today's mission, ma'am?"

    Etechnia looked up at her partner for the evening's mission; he didn't often make conversation before a drop, but today seemed to be an exception to the rule. The high collar of his SOLDIER uniform was tossed by the wind as he sat across from her in the helicopter. His eyes were fixed on her weapon.

    "For starters, you're one of the few that's formal enough to call me ma'am." The humor in her voice was almost lost due to the constant drumming of chopper blades, but she smiled to reinforce that it was a joke. "Please, dispense with the formalities. You're more of a friend than a subordinate to me, Alken."

    "High praise! Thank you, 'Nia." Alken tensed as they neared the drop zone. "I assume you have Barrier Materia? We might need it; I'm guessing they'll have guns. If they're smart enough to expect us, they're smart enough to bring rifles."

    Etechnia adjusted her helmet, dropping her visor to keep the wind out of her face. "Yes. Did you bring something to help our offense?"

    Popping open the Materia compartment of his standard-issue longsword, Alken displayed the single green orb inside. "Fire Materia. I didn't have the time to pick more than one, so Healing Materia was out. I guess we'll have to avoid getting hit."

    The constant, overpowering sound of the helicopter pounded on her eardrums; Etechnia couldn't wait to abandon it. The vehicle slowly listed over a speeding locomotive as the two SOLDIERs observed their target. Dressed in black uniforms to take advantage of Midgar's low lights, the duo watched their target as it snaked along the winding tracks. The cargo-train was on a run-away course towards Sector One, armed with an explosive device on the main car.

    Their mission was simple; neutralize the bomb, eliminate or apprehend the terrorists responsible. Alken thumped his fist against the pilot's cabin. "Close in on the lead car. If we lose it in the express tunnel, things will get a lot more difficult." Grasping one of the helicopter's rails, he looked away from the train to give the pilot the order. Etechnia kept her eye on the rear car; she saw movement in the back.

    A man slid open the rear car's canopy, aiming a long, black weapon. Even at this distance, in the dark of night Etechnia's glowing eyes locked in on the trooper and his armament. "RPG!" With a gleaming flash of yellow flame, the rocket screamed through the air. The high, baleful whistle of the approaching explosive nearly made Alken jump out of his skin. Unable to stop it at a distance, Etechnia braced herself.

    The pilot rocked the helicopter forward; Alken thumped against the door of the cabin as the helicopter nearly faced nose-down. Despite the daring maneuver, the helicopter failed to avoid the shot. The tail burst, the rear propeller hurtling off. Unstable and sagging towards the ground, the vehicle listed left, tilting away from its course as it began the dance downward, supported only by the top rotor. Etechnia did the only reasonable thing; she jumped.

    The cold air was quite a rush. Extending her boots, she landed on the train. Her weapon raked the train's roof and tore a jagged hole in the metal as Etechnia rolled to her feet. The gunman who fired the rocket stared at the SOLDIER, bewildered. The First-Class SOLDIER grabbed her blade, bringing it around hard. The RPG split in half, and the man fell into the train car with a deep gash across his chest. The weight of her buster-sword alone would have killed him instantly; the razor edge of the five-foot slab of metal was no laughing matter.

    With larger issues to deal with than her dispatched opponent, Etechnia watched the falling helicopter. Alken hadn't managed to bail yet. She watched, horrified for her teammate as the vehicle plummeted. Before it could fall past the tracks, the front window burst open; Alken slashed the glass with his longsword and jumped, holding a bundle on his shoulder that Etechnia couldn't make out; despite her vision, there simply wasn't time to take in the information. The affair had played out in the space of a few seconds.

    Despite his strength, she knew he wouldn't make the jump. Springing off a moving helicopter towards a speeding train wasn't easy, but he was only a few feet off-course. Etechnia could tell he'd miss his mark with the added weight he was carrying. Alken flailed his legs as he fell head-first.

    Thinking quickly, Etechnia extended her sword, gripping the handle with both hands. Tensing her arms, she prepared for her weapon to get a bit heavier.

    Alken landed on it face-flat, his senior officer buckling to her knee as she held his weight; the impact was hell on her shoulders, but holding him up wasn't much of an issue. "OW." Looking up, Alken grinned, nursing a bloody nose under his visor. "...Saved the pilot." The pilot was slung over his shoulder. Etechnia hauled them both onto the train, dumping them off her blade.

    "Nice work, Al. That was a kind thing to do." Etechnia helped the Second-Classer upright. The pilot was unconscious. Broken and in flames, their helicopter fell past the train-tracks and into the empty black space below; it would likely land in the empty development projects below. Not a huge loss, but Etechnia knew her superiors wouldn't be too pleased with such a slip-up.

    "Has your head been on fire this whole time?" As Alken brushed embers off his shoulder pauldrons, Etechnia lifted her gloved hand, wincing as it touched an open flame. Her helmet was starting to feel oddly warm; she yanked it off and tossed it over her shoulder, revealing a head of high, spiked brown hair. Her teammate tried his absolute best not to laugh at her hairstyle. No relaxer in the world could help; it was, and always would be, a jagged mess. "Your hair just doesn't care about gravity, does it?"

    "No time for jokes. Enemy contacts." The duo turned to see the terrorists were onto them. Sporting tan, long-sleeved uniforms and stolen Shinra helmets, the men were moving out of the train's second car with rifles. As his backup climbed onto the roof, the first of them opened fire.

    Bullets were no laughing matter. Etechnia planted her tall, thick blade in the train's roof, staying behind it. Bullets bounced and whizzed off of her weapon as she took cover. Alken stood over the unconscious pilot. He dropped to a knee and held his sword high, using it to deflect any on-target shots, batting away bullets quickly. "Behind me!" Etechnia moved in front of him and channeled her Materia. A domed shield sprouted in front of her palm, bullets curving away from its glassy, blue surface. "Return fire!"

    Alken rolled his glowing brown eyes; he could tell Etechnia was smiling at the pun. "And you said there was no time for jokes." The green orb in his weapon glowed as he pulled some magic from it. With a growl of effort, the Second-Class SOLDIER pointed both hands forward and sent a ball of red, crackling, hungry flame. He swung his hand around, throwing another two. The fireballs killed one of the gunmen; the others stumbled back, their uniforms ignited.

    He can't detonate them yet, but he's improving. Etechnia felt some pride in her younger associate. He wasn't much for magic attacks, but he hadn't stopped practicing. "Now! While they're off balance!"

    Etechnia yanked up her sword, and Alken sheathed his, the two charging. Etechnia let him get ahead of her; this was his time to shine. Close quarters combat was his favorite kind. The SOLDIERs overtook their adversaries. Those who could still fight immediately drew blades and night-sticks. The ones who had been too badly burned stayed down, or rolled off the train due to the constant rattling.

    Alken stayed low, keeping his fists tight. "Military dogs! Cut 'em down!" One of the terrorist troops barked the insult as he rushed forward, eager to strike. The first man to approach him swung a blade down at his head. Alken lightly touched the blade with the back of his knuckles, guiding it down and past him. The cheap blade snapped against the train's roof. Alken swung his leg, giving the man a boot to the neck. Another terrorist lurched forward to stab him, but the SOLDIER sidestepped, planting an elbow in his face, then finishing with a back-fist. The third moved to catch him on the side of the helmet with his night-stick, but Alken stepped in, catching his arm and sweeping his legs, taking him down. Alken finished the man with a straight punch, denting the metal on which they stood and and pulverizing the attacker's face. Drawing his longsword, Alken moved to confront three more opponents who were moving to overwhelm him.

    "DOWN!" Etechnia's order was instantly heeded. Alken dove back and laid flat as her buster-sword passed over him. In a single stroke, Etechnia painted the night air with blood, scattering her opponents. One of the men was blown backwards, his stomach opened. The other two fell off the train, similarly wounded. Still turning due to the weight of her weapon, Etechnia planted her feet and halted it, lifting it onto her shoulder.

    "Gaia's cavity." Alken pulled himself upright. "Good swing, 'Nia." Etechnia smiled at the compliment. She didn't have time to say, but Alken hadn't done bad before her intervention; he would have won out easily, but time was of the essence, and Etechnia was no slouch when it came to crowd control. "DUCK!"

    The train hit a tunnel, and both SOLDIERs sprawled to avoid being peeled off by the tunnel's outer wall. Alken's visor scraped against the metal roof; turning his face and using his Fire Magic to disperse the sparks, he shut his eyes. Etechnia, face forward, felt her jagged pony tail violently whipping against the back of her collar. She twitched as one of her hairs was plucked off. A tear welled up in her eye at the sudden pain. Ow. SOLDIER or not, having hair tugged out stung.

    Soon enough, the tunnel widened and the duo could stand. The yellow lights of the tunnel blurred together, each tube of Mako powered electricity running together in a blinding line. Rushing forward, the two approached the lead car.

    "I'll handle the bomb," Etechnia reported calmly. "If it detonates, try to dispel the heat while I contain the blast."


    Their boots drummed against the third car's roof. They were nearly at their objective before the rules of the game took a sharp change. Etechnia and Alken both halted as the lead car burst; Alken thought they were spent, but Etechnia knew that the blast was too small and concussive to be a nuclear device.

    It was merely a nuclear powered enemy. A massive robot coated in flaking tan paint, the terrorist's trump card rose above them, nearly the size of a two story house. Its lower body remained in the train car, but a pair of bulky, mechanical arms spread out, sporting a wicked blade on each forearm. The robot's grated, knight-like helm leered down at them from the robot's head. 

    Sneering at the robot, Etechnia prepared for a harder fight than she'd expected. The terrorists must have set it to attack small, fast moving Mako signatures. The higher-ups must have added new enemies to the simulation.

    "...I thought we were dealing with a bomb." Alken stared up at their opponent. "Is that thing part of the combatant-droid series? It's way bigger than usual, I know that."

    "It's a Motor-Ball. Shinra technology. It's designed for monster extermination, and has a nuclear core! We can't let it get to the highway, or it could outrun us."

    As Etechnia finished her sentence, the tunnel came to an abrupt end. The duo found themselves in the open air of Midgar's highest district. In the distance was Shinra HQ, and the highest center of authority in Midgar. The robot turned its lower body, further destroying the train and letting itself fall towards the highway.

    "OH NO YOU DON'T!" Alken sprang after it. Grasping onto the automaton's shoulder in midair, he held on tight with his left hand, bringing his sword around and jamming it into the robot's face. "I'm not done impounding your face!" The robot landed on the pavement of the main highway. Cars swerved and mashed their brakes to avoid the robot as the Second-Class SOLDIER attacked its face with his sword.

    With spiked tank-treads for legs, the robot rolled forward, batting at its face to knock off its attacker. Alken ripped his sword free and swung it down. To his horror, the standard-issue blade snapped in half, sparking against his shoulder pauldron. "Ah brother." Alken yelped as the robot reached up and grabbed him by the arm, yanking him off and preparing to throw him away.

    Etechnia intervened in the nick of time. Leaping towards the droid, she somersaulted over it, her blade lashing out as she rolled through the air. Split at the shoulder, the Motor-Ball's arm fell to the ground, dropping Alken with it. The robot turned towards her, deciding she was the more potent threat. Its left arm, and the only one remaining, pistoned down towards her. Etechnia sprang out of the way as a jagged hole was punched in the street.

    A ball of flame whizzed through the air, bursting against the Motor-Ball's face. Alken loosed two fire-spells. The robot protected itself with one arm, the fireball splashing against its forearm mounted blade. The robot rolled towards him at a terrifying speed, threatening to run over him. Alken jumped aside as the Motor-Ball crushed the concrete divider into dust. Lashing out with its blade, the powerful droid missed again as the SOLDIER stumbled out of the way.

    Etechnia's blade came down; thanks to her teammate's distraction, she was able to get on its shoulder. She chopped deep into the Motor-Ball's skull, twisting her blade to wedge its head in half. "AL! Finish it!" As the robot sparked and flailed, its CPU compromised, Alken jumped onto its chest. Driving his fist through the weakened metal, he grasped the robot's "brain" and channeled his fire Materia, toasting and destroying its internal circuitry. The Motor-Ball's last act as a functioning being was to slap him off. Alken landed hard on his back, stunned and breathless but alive.

    To his leader's horror, the robot began slowly rolling forward. Alken turned onto his stomach to run, but his boots scraped against the loose gravel and failed to build traction. It ultimately came down to Etechnia's help. She jumped down, grabbed him by his uniform's turtle-neck and pulled him out of the way. The Motor-Ball rolled on, smashing through the railing and plummeting off the freeway.

    "Thanks. Again. You're getting good at this whole 'heroic save' thing." Alken stood, dusting off his pants and breathing a sigh of relief. "It isn't gonna explode, is it?"

    "No. The components we destroyed are similar to the human medulla oblongata. The core probably initiated emergency shutd-" Etechnia paused as the robot hit the ground, crumpling metal filling the air. "Shutdown. The materials are hazardous, but that's what clean-up crews are for."

    As their objective was completed, the world began to dissolve around them. Concrete, sky, and even air faded into black as the two awoke from the programmed dream.

    A flat-screen on the Vision Room's eastern wall displayed their individual scores.

    Etechnia: 97%

    Alken: 79%

    The end of the simulation was a decent relief to both Alken and Etechnia. Awakening in the Vision Room, the duo sat upright in their metallic bunks.

    "Ugh." Alken wiped his arms, covered in sweat. It always took a moment to recall the mission. Despite being a training exercise, it was still a dream; albeit digitally guided and fabricated. Alken looked up at his score, disgusted. "Ugh. Seventy-nine? I guess I did make a lot of rookie mistakes, but wow. I didn't even break eighty." He rubbed his shoulder, lowering his head with disappointment. "This is gonna bring down my average."

    "It's penalizing you for your magic acuity. You weren't injured, and you fought well on all accounts. I'll be sure to reflect that in my report. Eyewitness testimony matters far more than programmed scores." Etechnia ran a hand through her hair. It was as tall and jagged as usual, though sweatier than she liked it to be. She smiled at her cohort. "I think you did quite well. Rescuing the pilot before the crash was a nice touch. You deserve far more than the simulation credited you for."

    Rubbing the back of his neck, Alken stood and stretched his legs. "Thanks, boss." He had a weakness for flattery, but he was a bit too exhausted to be moved. The muscle memory and exertion stayed with the participants of a simulation, even if their body was in no danger. Etechnia rolled her neck, sore from catching two men on her blade. Alken clapped his hands together, satisfied with the day's training exercise. "I'm going to hit the showers. After that, I'm going to gather anyone who wants to get dinner. Lioke and Gaeira already said yes, and I got a hard maybe from Kydo. Interested?"

    "Sure. I'd like that." Etechnia smiled as the two stepped into the hall and parted ways. It was another uneventful day in Sector Two.

    Last edited by Bad John on April 27th 2017, 10:12 pm; edited 2 times in total
    Bad John
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 1223
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Location : A box in the United States.

    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 24th 2017, 4:57 pm

    Name: Etechnia Nimbos

    Age: 21

    Rank: SOLDIER First-Class

    Appearance: A young woman with green eyes and fair skin. She stands at 5'11", and is known for her spiked hair at the front, the rest being tied back in a short pony-tail.

    Profile: Generous and giving, Etechnia used to struggle with making friends. Having grown up in the SOLDIER program as one of Alalonn's select few trainees, she had a meteoric rise to fame, leaving her mostly isolated from her peers. Her new Second-Class teammates are helping her socialize, and she's found a best friend in Alken, and a lasting support network in the former cadets of Group Eight.

    Specialty: A user of the rare and iconic Buster-Sword, Etechnia moves fast and hits hard. Her preference is to Barrier Materia, using it to defend her teammates. She's known as a Paladin among SOLDIERs for her propensity to selflessly shield her allies and with civilians alike.

    Her fighting style is flowing and graceful, with the terrifying weight of her five-foot blade following her every move.

    Name: Alken de la Vaettir

    Age: 19

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: A dark skinned youth with black hair and brown eyes, Alken stands at 5'11". He's noted for wearing a simple beanie with a golden feather stitched into it underneath his helmet. He has a scar over his left eyebrow.

    Profile: Relaxed and friendly, Alken doesn't sweat the small stuff, unless it relates to battle. Obsessed with stories of the Knights of the Round, he has an eye for antiquity and a strong sense of justice. He's a bit of a talker, and is well liked in his inner circle, considered the "middle child" of his motley crew. He's often noted for his courage in battle, being the first to approach danger on behalf of the common folk. He can also be rather witty at times.

    Specialty: Alken's Materia acuity is lacking, but he has good aim with Fire Materia. He's noted for his skill in close combat, and often uses his bare fists; his blade is often simply regulated to deflecting attacks so he can finish battles with crushing, barehanded strikes and kicks.

    In terms of sheer skill, Alalonn has gone on record to say he's a masterful martial-artist, and may even surpass him barehanded. He's no slouch with a longsword either, boasting a solid mix of offense and defense. Like all his peers in Cadet Group Eight, he draws closer to First-Class by the day.

    I'll make character profiles as the characters appear.

    Thanks for reading!

    Last edited by Bad John on April 26th 2017, 8:47 pm; edited 2 times in total

    Posts : 250
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Age : 26

    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Impanther on April 24th 2017, 8:21 pm

    Bad John wrote:Name: Etechnia Nimbos

    Age: 21

    Rank: SOLDIER First-Class

    Appearance: A young woman with green eyes and fair skin. She stands at 5'11", and is known for her spiked hair at the front, the rest being tied back in a short pony-tail.

    Profile: Generous and giving, Etechnia used to struggle with making friends. Having grown up in the SOLDIER program as one of Alalonn's select few trainees, she had a meteoric rise to fame, leaving her mostly isolated from her peers. Her new Second-Class teammates are helping her socialize, and she's found a best friend in Alken.

    Specialty: A user of the rare and iconic Buster-Sword, Etechnia moves fast and hits hard. Her preference is to Barrier Materia, using it to defend her teammates. She's known as a Paladin among SOLDIERs for her propensity to selflessly shield her teammates.

    Her fighting style is flowing and graceful, with the terrifying weight of her five-foot blade following her every move.

    Name: Alken de la Vaettir

    Age: 19

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: A dark skinned youth with black hair and brown eyes, Alken stands at 5'11". He's noted for wearing a simple beanie with a golden feather stitched into it underneath his helmet. He has a scar over his left eyebrow.

    Profile: Relaxed and friendly, Alken doesn't sweat the small stuff, unless it relates to battle. Obsessed with stories of the Knights of the Round, he has an eye for antiquity and a strong sense of justice. His teammates often call him a dork; this is often regarded as rather likable trait. He's a bit of a talker.

    Specialty: Alken's Materia acuity is lacking, but he has good aim with Fire Materia. He's noted for his skill in close combat, and often uses his bare fists; his blade is often simply regulated to deflecting attacks so he can finish battles with crushing, barehanded strikes and kicks.

    In terms of sheer skill, Alalonn has gone on record to say he's a masterful martial-artist, and may even surpass him barehanded. He's no slouch with a longsword either, boasting a solid mix of offense and defense. Like all his peers in Cadet Group Eight, he draws closer to First-Class by the day.

    I'll make character profiles as the characters appear.

    Thanks for reading!

    Nice, make sure to read the first chapter of my Godzilla fic, I am currently working on the second chapter.
    Bad John
    Freelancer Operative

    Posts : 1223
    Join date : 2013-01-17
    Location : A box in the United States.

    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 25th 2017, 1:39 am

    The training room floor was abuzz with activity. A pair of First-Class SOLDIERs watched as their young proteges sparred, honing their abilities. A giant of a man, their leader was stone faced and proud. As he watched, his eyes were occasionally illuminated by a bolt of magic, his full beard warmed by the heat of passing flame.

    His personal cadres were the pride of Second Class; rising stars among their peers. Alalonn was willing to abide rivalry, fun, or even occasional rule-breaking. However, a day without regular exercise or reflex enhancing training was alien to his alien to his students. The seven Second-Class SOLDIERs under his command would prove their worth, or they would face discipline.

    He likened his young proteges to pages. Unlike their Second-Class peers, he allowed them to wear black uniforms; a marker of their loyalty. All seven of the young adults were vassals of Alalonn, and extensions of his will. Like any limb, he intended to keep them in top shape.

    Alalonn watched the small arena with arms folded, shrugging to adjust his pauldrons as shots of magic flew between the two competitors of the current match. "Excellent. Though bound to Materia, human magic is an expression of the soul. Fight. Express yourselves."

    His half brother watched impassively. Sophron torqued his jaw and rubbed the tan skin of his cheek, occasionally glancing down into a book. When the action heated up, he looked to see how the Second-Classers were doing. It was red versus blue today, a small ginger lass facing off against her azure-haired friend.

    Apatet jerked out of the way as a bolt of lightning passed her freckled cheek. The SOLDIER rolled forward as a bolt pinged off the floor, bouncing up and sparking against the wall. Her sparring partner was in a fine mood, it seemed; she was keeping on defense and waiting for her chance to strike, but her sparring partner kept the pressure on.

    Gaeira, darted from place to place as he tossed bolts from his wrist; he had a unique and dangerous flair for spell-casting. Smirking, he pushed his bangs out of his face, before realizing he'd given Apatet an opening. A splash of flame passed over his shoulder as he rolled underneath the shot. "Whoa. Careful. I might get the wrong idea." Gaeira pointed his finger and returned fire, shooting a bolt from the hip. "Bang. BANG." He popped off several more zaps, imitating a gunman's pistols.

    Eager to impress, Apatet performed a tight backflip, her body arched to avoid a bolt that blew past her stomach. Landing on one knee, she crossed her fingers and loosed a jet of coiling fire. Gaeira tried to dodge, but the flame engulfed the blue-haired young man.

    "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH I'M MELTING! I'M BURNING AWAY! APATET, YOU'VE BETRAYED MEEEEEEEEEEE!" Apatet's heart skipped a beat as Gaeira's slim silhouette flailed, before falling to the ground. "BLURK."

    Alalonn laughed at the apparent carnage. "That's quite enough horseplay, Gaeira. No need to be a sore loser." Despite chiding him, he rather enjoyed the look of horror on Apatet's face; if only for a second, she was worried that she'd killed him. Alalonn did love a good practical joke.

    "Who knows. He might finally be dead." Sophron grinned darkly as he presented the comment, but Gaeira popped to his feet as Apatet dispelled the flames. "Ah. They're using the safe Materia. A pity."

    "Hey now. No need to hate me because I'm beautiful, sir." Gaeira stood, unharmed. Training Materia was mostly benign; if anything, the false flames were pleasantly warm. Without a scratch or burn on his body, the young SOLDIER wiped his brow, clearing off a few beads of sweat. "I believe it's my turn to take a break. Good luck, Apatet." Gaeira loped off, giving his victorious sparring partner a wink as he found a bench to sit on and a bottle of water to swig.

    "Good luck? With what?" Puzzled, Apatet glanced towards her teachers. Alalonn jabbed a thumb towards the western corner of the metallic training hall where her next sparring partner stood. "Oh god."

    An approaching, black haired SOLDIER bore her teeth in a sadistic grin, towering over Apatet. Hybria was huge by a woman's standards; standing a head taller than Apatet, and sporting a few inches on even her male peers. Alalonn's crown jewel, she was the strongest fighter in every physical category. "Unarmed combat. You've got me. Let's see if I can teach ya a thing or two, Red."

    Apatet groaned, setting aside her Training Materia and lifting her fists. She put her left foot forward, staying light on her toes. "Alken taught me a few moves." Apatet jabbed the air, bouncing on her feet.

    "Good. Let's see what you've got." Hybria didn't bother to take a stance. "Go ahead. You get a free sho-" Apatet's fist slashed across the taller woman's mouth, silencing Hybria for a moment. The blow rang out through the corridor.

    Nearby, the other Second-Classers stared, highly interested. Hybria dabbed her bloodied lip, then tied back her waist-length hair. "My turn."

    Before Apatet could step back, a fist sank into her gut, doubling her over. Hybria grasped her opponent by the hair, bringing her boot up and punting Apatet skyward. Sailing into the air, the red headed magician gagged, a wide boot-print on her stomach.

    How high am I going? Where the hell'd she kick me? Heaven?! Absently wondering where she even was, Apatet saw spots when she opened her eyes. She felt something softly touch her back; the ceiling. Apatet flailed, managing to grab hold of one of the rafters.

    "I surrender! I forfeit!" Apatet yelped. "MERCY!"

    Hybria checked her nails, a bored look on her face. "Mmk. Come down, and we'll shake on it."

    "...Can we shake on it verbally? I'm fine up here." Apatet, breathless and frantic, didn't seem too keen on coming down. This was the ultimate result of all Hybria's physical sparring matches; complete victory. Few could last long against her in hand-to-hand. Only Alalonn had the power necessary to put her down.

    "...Eh. Fine. I win, you lose. Go ahead and drop down, ya ginger goose." Hybria waited as Apatet released the metal beam she was clinging to, dropping down onto the training room floor. "See? That wasn't so-"

    Apatet's fist surged forward, nailing Hybria on the forehead this time. Hybria's head snapped back, her glowing eyes oriented up for a moment. Slowly looking down to gaze at her attacker, she found Apatet was grinning, bouncing on her feet. "You didn't think it'd be that easy, did you? Brain over brawn." Apatet stepped back, sticking her tongue out at Hybria.

    Not far away, a blonde SOLDIER cheered the duplicitous stunt. "Apatet's on fire today! She landed two punches!" The young man clapped his hands gleefully. "Is anyone keeping score? If we go by the number of hits, they're tied. It's anyone's game."

    Hybria sighed, popping her knuckles. "Kydo?"

    "Yeah?" The blonde young man, Kydomis, turned away from his free-weight regimen to answer when his pet-name was called.

    "When I'm done with her, you're next." If looks could kill, Hybria's stare would have mummified Kydomis in an instant.

    "Uh oh..." Kydomis groaned. "Try to soften her up, Apatet!" It was more moral support than anything else; everyone knew what was about to happen.

    Hybria stepped in faster than Apatet could react. Snaking the blade of her foot around Apatet's ankle, she yanked back, sweeping the redhead's legs. Before she could stand, Hybria seized her by the calf, lifting her upside down. Apatet thrust her boot, but Hybria caught that leg as well, leaving Apatet dangling feet up. Like a maid beating dust out of a carpet, Hybria swung Apatet up.

    Like a rag-doll, Apatet arced through the air, madly flailing to grab hold of something. "Wait wait wait WAIT-"




    Apatet was slammed against the floor. Hybria knew her helmet would protect her from the shock; even without it, there was Healing Materia for this sort of thing. The redhead laid on her back. Stunned and with no air in her lungs to surrender she made a quiet squeaking sound; if she could talk, this time her forfeit would be genuine. Hybria crouched over her and rained down a few blows as Apatet desperately raised her guard. Beaten into the floor like a drum, Apatet curled into a ball as punches poured down on her.

    "Enough," Alalonn grinned as he halted the match. Apatet cowered, shivering. To her credit, she reached up and lightly tapped Hybria on the chin with her fist. Hybria ignored the tiny strike and stood up, releasing her opponent. "Excellent work on both accounts. Misdirection can be tricky against overwhelming force, Apatet. Next time, pick a ruse that will make your opponent stay down."

    Apatet squeaked in agreement. Though unintelligible, it sounded like a "yes sir." Alalonn shrugged. Good enough.

    "Apatet, crawl over here so I can heal your injuries, then take a lap around the room. Hybria, go see to your appointment with Kydomis." Alalonn waited as Apatet dragged herself towards him.

    Hybria turned, a sly smirk on her face as she locked her intimidating stare on Kydomis. "Kydooooo~."

    "Shit." Kydomis thought Hybria had been joking. Placing down the dum-bell he'd been lifting, he turned to run. "I'm sorry! I was wrong! I didn't mean it!!!"

    "Don't run! You're just making it worse for yourself!" Hybria sprinted after her next victim.

    Sophron watched patiently, refusing to comment. "...Their skill is improving in all areas. Odd that you let the big one antagonize her teammates."

    "It's her way of training them. Hybria wants them to catch up to her. She breaks them down, and I build them back up. The fact that Apatet never truly stopped trying is proof positive." Alalonn watched as Hybria tackled Kydomis to the ground. The two wrestled, and Hybria came out on top, pinning him face forward and yanking up on the bridge of his nose. "...But mostly, it's extra exercise."

    "You just like to watch people beat each-other," Sophron yawned, cupping his hand to his mouth. Apatet finally managed to crawl over to Alalonn's feet. Using the Healing Materia on his belt, Alalonn began repairing the shallow bruises covering the young woman's body.

    Alalonn shrugged "That too. But if my hobby is an effective training method, then what's the harm?"

    Realizing that arguing with his brother was tantamount to beating his head on a brick wall, Sophron merely shrugged and opened his book, thumbing to a new page.

    Last edited by Bad John on May 13th 2017, 12:25 am; edited 1 time in total
    Bad John
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 25th 2017, 2:44 pm

    Name: Apatet Miskat

    Age: 19

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: Sporting bright red hair, green eyes, pale skin and freckles, Apatet is the classic "adorable redhead." She keeps her hair cut in a neat bob. She often has a thoughtful frown on her face, and stands at 5'5".

    Profile: Bright, studious and brisk in manner, Apatet doesn't have time for your shit on a good day. She carries out orders quickly and by-the-books, but has a flair for music and magical studies. A Thaumaturge, she is one of the last of a line of Ancients; something the group keeps under wraps.

    Specialty: Apatet is a powerful Materia User. Unlike her peers, however, she has the ability to cast spells without it. She's a novice when it comes to unassisted magic; she can only cast low-level fire spells. However, with Materia in hand, she can cast powerful projectile and area-of-effect magic.

    She's the weakest in terms of physical combat, but she's still SOLDIER. Her longsword skill is on point, and after a few lessons from Alken, she can box like nobody's business.

    Name: Hybria Dane

    Age: 20

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: Tall, tan, and intimidating, Hybria stands at 6'3". She has waist length, raven black hair, and striking ice-blue eyes. With a strong jaw and a powerful build, she's a rather handsome lady.

    Profile: Hybria is magnanimous defined. Great of mind, body, and intention, she's the unofficial leader of Cadet Group Eight. She gives good advice when asked, and good beat-downs when challenged. Her teammates regard her as a cool but terrifying older sister.

    Specialty: Hybria is the strongest of her peers. When she gets serious, it's almost like fighting a wild animal; she tears enemies limb from limb with her bare hands, lops them apart with her blade, or pounds them flat with her powerful limbs.

    In terms of magic, she tends to default to Ice Materia. Like Alken, she has a little trouble with magic; projectile magic seems to escape her, but she can create spikes of ice that are often lethal to unshielded enemies.

    Name: Gaeira Indiana

    Age: 19

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: Gaeira sports blue hair, blue eyes, and a slim but athletic build. He slicks back his hair and cuts it short to keep it from curling into an afro. He's exactly six feet tall.

    Profile: Gaeira has a high opinion of himself. Hedonistic and self centered, he has pretty much everything he wants in life except a satisfying degree of physical power. He is very neighborly, and has a sense of nobility about him; not nobility in a snobby sense, but in a charitable sense. He often donates time and his considerable savings towards worthy causes, or to help his friends have a good time.

    Specialty: If you asked Gaeira, he'd say his specialty is money; he's bizarrely rich for a SOLDIER. However, in combat, he's an excellent strategist and swordsman.

    He tends to wield his longsword one-handed, and is ambidextrious, switching hands to keep his enemy guessing. He prefers thrusts, maneuvering his arm and blade like a snake to whittle down his opponents or run them through.

    Name: Kydomis Kelley

    Age: 19

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: Kydomis keeps his blonde hair cut short in a simple fade. He has dark blue eyes, and is the tallest of Cadet Group Eight's men at 6'2". He's clean shaven, but his beard grows in rather quickly, often leading to five o'clock shadow when away from base.

    Profile: Kydomis is a happy guy. He's always up for a joke or a good time, and is very passionate. He has a big heart and a solid work-ethic, even outside of training. He loves to learn, and has gone through quite a few technical manuals. Kydomis gets along quite well with Shinra troops, and is a bit of a gun-nut. However, he completely despises Shinra's Automated Combatant series, and has no tolerance for shoddy worksmanship.

    Specialty: A strong and durable SOLDIER, Kydomis can take a truckload of abuse and give it back in spades. He's a competent swordsman, and tends to favor Binding Materia to hold opponents still or pin them down for his counter-attack.

    He's an aspiring smith, and has designed several hybrid weapons, his favorite being the gun-sword. He has solid aim with any fire-arm, and can even aim and operate tanks and artillery if he's familiar, or if he's given a few short minutes to study the manual.

    Name: Alalonn Elérni

    Age: 36

    Rank: SOLDIER First-Class

    Appearance: A giant by any human's standards, Alalonn stands at 7'1". Sporting black hair and a neatly trimmed beard and mustache, Alalonn has a strong jaw, broad shoulders, and sky blue eyes. He has a horizontal scar across the bridge of his nose.

    Profile: A hard worker and a tough coach, Alalonn subjects his cadets to firm but fair training regimines. He is known for being a troll, and has no compunctions with embarassing his students if it makes them stronger (or if it makes him laugh). He takes great pride in molding the next generation of SOLDIER. Despite (or perhaps because of) his loyalty to Midgar and its people, he has doubts about Shinra's intentions.

    Specialty: Herculean in physical strength, Alalonn is noted as literally "The Strongest SOLDIER." He's fought colossal beasts and skilled warriors alike, even slaying a dragon. His physical abilities make him capable of tremendous feats of strength and stamina; his limits are a genuine mystery as nobody has ever seen him give it his all.

    He's a powerful mage as well, using a single Master Materia, distilled and given to him by Sophron. He tends to prefer gravity spells, using them to crush enemies, assist his already impressive speed and jumping height, or uproot the ground to change the terrain in his favor.

    Name: Sophron Glinta

    Age: 29

    Rank: SOLDIER First-Class

    Appearance: Like his elder half brother, Sophron has black hair. That's about where the similarities end. Sophron is clean shaven and has tan skin with red eyes. Standing at 5'11", he has semi-long hair that falls to his neck, with a red bandanna around his forehead. He usually has dark rings under his eyes due to sleep deprivation.

    Personality: Tacit and dutiful, Sophron keeps to his experimentations. Fascinated with the boundary between human beings and true magical mastery, he constantly tries to break the "limit" that prevents him from casting without Materia. He seems cold, but he cares for people that he sees often; the best example being his unofficial student, Apatet. Though loyal to Shinra, he keeps quite a few secrets from them (keeping Apatet's status as an Ancient was his idea), and knows damn well that they're keeping some pressing secrets from him in turn.

    Specialty: Sophron is a master Materia user, and one of a select few capable of performing a Summon without assistance. He has an immense pool of mana to draw from, though he recharges it rather slowly as a result. He has absolutely no preference for elements and will use whatever is necessary to end a fight quickly.

    He's no slouch in close combat either; he uses a pair of spiked gauntlets to beat down his adversaries, and has a concealed, collapsible, double sided trident on the small of his back.

    Forgot to post these. I don't think I missed anyone. 

    I'm going for a more erratic, Metal and Mettle style timeline with these; rather than throwing everything into one story-line for a shitload of time, it'll mostly be drabbles that lead up to major events that change the setting. That lends itself far better to my style; unfocused and noncommittal!

    Stay tuned!

    Changed Alalonn's last name. Elèrni is nicer, and Hungarian is more fitting.

    And yes, Sophron's last name is a reference to Glinda Goodwitch.
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Shad0wChas3r on April 25th 2017, 2:51 pm

    Great reads John. Really nice seeing the cooperative interactions between the team, as well as the brutal skirmishes between them. I think Alalonn and Sophron's moments of dialogue are perfect without a doubt.

    Alalonn being the older and much more aloof when not provoked brother, while Sophron is the much more calculating, serious almost all the time younger brother.



    Thanks for Reading!

    Bad John
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 25th 2017, 3:12 pm

    Thanks, Morgan!

    Part of the reason I've been stalling so much on the series is to perfect the characters. I think Hybria and Etechnia have undergone the most overhauls.

    I want to bring out Hybria's inner Maura, but with some more unique features; in the absence of the First-Classers, she's the team's leader. That meant making her more charismatic and cunning than impulsive. She's still plenty impulsive, but that's more for comedy than anything else.

    I'd never really written much for Nicole, so Etechnia I forged whole-sale, being the protagonist.

    I get the feeling you'll like Etechnia's back and forth with Alalonn; they have quite a bit of history as master and student. Their father-daughter relationship will be the crux of a lot of Alalonn's personal struggle and drama (try not to read as wangst).

    Thanks for readin', bro!
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 26th 2017, 8:44 pm

    As he approached his simulated targets, Kydomis dipped low, a spray of bullets passing over his shoulder. One of the rounds pinged off of his pauldron. The impact sent a chill up his arm, but little more. His uniform's hard points were manufactured by Alalonn's personal armorers; it would take a lot more abuse to dent it.

    Launching himself forward, the SOLDIER cleaved through an insurgent's rifle, slashing off the man's hand as well. Turning and snapping his longsword across the throat of another attacker, he held his ground for a moment, lifting his blade. One of the enemies had a bead on him, but Kydomis easily tracked the gun's trajectory; it would bounce off his blade.

    Before the man could fire, a knife cut across the back of his neck. The insurgent fell limp as the young woman behind him wiped the blood from her blade. "Thanks for the assist, Anai." Kydomis shot his teammate a thumbs up. The girl's red, glowing eyes fixed on Kydomis for a moment; she gave him a firm nod before turning and throwing the blade overhand; the weapon lodged itself in another opponent's chest, finishing him.

    Anaideian gave no answer until she noticed approaching danger. "Incoming." Pointing a gloved finger, she warned Kydomis of an incoming squad. Fighting in an urban, sunlit street, the two moved into an alleyway, narrowly avoiding a hail of lead. "Leave the rest to Apatet; I caught a glimpse of her moving behind them."

    Indeed, Apatet sprang out of cover. "HEY!" The quick shout got their attention. As she planted her feet and channeled some magic, Apatet knew it was do-or-die time. Unless she managed to dispatch them, they'd probably perforate her before she could take a defensive posture. 

    Thrusting forward her hand in a clenched fist, she produced a fireball that shot into the midst of the troopers. Though it failed to connect with any of them, the fireball hung in the air between them. Aaaaand POP!

    The red-haired young woman opened her hand. To her delight, the mote of orange light burst; concussive force sent the enemy hurtling in every direction, singed by the explosion. Where there once was a squad, there was now a crater and several scattered bodies. "Yes!!!"

    Kydomis leaned out of cover, raising his visor. "Nice shooting." Rushing over to her to regroup, he gave his teammate a slap on the arm. "Well...I'm not sure you call it shooting, but-"

    "Actually, it's casting." Apatet corrected him with a serene grin on her face. She was flattered by the compliment. Anai gave her a quick nod and a wave of the hand. "Thank you both for distracting them." She scratched the back of her neck, realizing that she had a question. "Was that the last of them?"

    "I don't think so. Let's keep combing streets until we got 'em all. Simulation troopers aren't like real ones; we'll have to be in range for them to aggro." Kydomis stuffed his hands in his pockets, clicking his teeth. "Makes big environments like these a pain to clear out."

    Anai adjusted and tied back her hair; she'd lost her helmet earlier in the fight when she used it as an improvised weapon. "A lesson in patience and observation. They're not meant to come to us; we're meant to hunt them down."

    "That's pretty grim." Kydomis lodged his blade in the cement. With his hands free, he stretched his arms and stood on his toes, loosening his body for a moment. "But, I guess it makes sense. There'll be times when we have to attack by surprise."

    "Oh. I have another question." Apatet looked between the two, then held out her hands, waving them closer. Kydomis and Anai stared at her, confused.

    After a moment, Anai couldn't help but smile. "...Are you waiting for us to call on you?" Her voice was rakish and mocking, but the laugh that came after was genuine; sympathetic, even. "We're all the same rank. Say whatever you want."

    "This isn't a kid's class. Ask away." Kydomis tucked his helmet underneath his arm, scratching the top of his head.

    "It's a private question, you asses. Get closer so I can whisper." Kydomis and Anai looked at each-other, before leaning in to listen. "Why do you think Etechnia is always running exercises with us, and watching our Vision Room war-games?"

    "...Beats me." Kydomis shrugged. Though she said nothing, Anai raised an eyebrow. Now that Apatet had asked, they were both just as curious as her. "Y'know who would know?"

    Anai thought for a moment. "Alalonn?"

    "No. Well, he would know, but you don't go that high up to answer a simple question. We should ask Gaeira." Kydomis smirked, his hand thoughtfully stroking his chin. "He's a wiz at reading people. If he's looked at Etechnia in the past week, he'll know exactly what she's up to."

    Apatet furrowed her brow. "Ugh. That know-it-all."

    "You're one to talk, miss 'Actually.'" Kydomis rolled his eyes. Suddenly, his mouth dropped open; he had some sort of idea. "Apatactually."

    Anai grinned. "Miskatually." 

    Apatet Miskat resented that. "Laugh all you want, but it's actually rather immature."

    "You did it again," Anai snapped back. Apatet's fair, freckled face reddened with embarrassment. "I'm with Kydomis. We'll finish the exercise, then seek Gaeira's opinion. If you're so curious, set aside your feud and come with us."

    Apatet sighed. "Fine."

    Etechnia walked the hall with a practiced, relaxed poise. Her weapon clipped to a magnetic strip on her back, she kept her head high, the back of her spiked hair pressed against it.

    Alalonn had coached her in many things during her life; one of them was to move with dignity. If she couldn't feel the comforting chill of her buster-sword against her noggin, then she was slouching. As she paced the halls, a pair of Shinra troopers snapped to attention at their post, stepping out of her way. "At ease, men." She stopped out of curiosity, wondering something.

    "What are you men guarding, exactly? Is someone using the conference room?" When the SOLDIER asked the question, turning towards them, the men dropped out of their salute. The man on the right explained quickly and nervously.

    "Well, ma'am, the Turks are using the room for a conference call."

    "Turks?" The word drew a simple image to Etechnia's mind; not a positive one by any means. Men and women in black suits, they were Shinra's last line of defense before deploying their elite SOLDIERs. Every operation was coated in black ink; every letter they sent was sealed with the blood of a victim. The Turks were the ones who did the most inglorious work of Midgar's upper echelons.

    Despite their lofty position as black-ops, everyone knew them to be the lowest of the low. The SOLDIER wrinkled her nose with disgust. "What exactly are they doing here?" While they were allies, their presence was never a good sign.

    "They're setting up a staging area for Doctor Amechanio, ma'am. Apparently the Turks have been tracking an Ancient living in seclusion in the local community."

    Alarms went off in Etechnia's head, but she quieted her panic. Living in the local community. So, they're not looking within SOLDIER.

    If any man of science other than Sophron was allowed to know Apatet's talent, the young woman would be on a metal table within the same day. "How are the Turks tracking the Ancient exactly?"

    "They've already located a suspect. Apparently, bizarre air fluctuations have been going on in Sector Seven for quite a while. At first, they figured it was contraband Materia, but every illicit seller has already been squashed."

    Etechnia almost grinned; she, Sophron, and Alalonn had personally conducted the raids that brought those men to justice. It was a massive part of what fueled her rise to First-Class status. Putting aside her glee at being accidentally praised, she refocused on her questions.

    "So, Amechanio is coming to see this stranger and confirm her status as an Ancient?"

    "Yup. I mean...yes, ma'am." The trooper on the left chimed in. Even if he weren't a young, nervous man, Etechnia would have excused the slip. Formality wasn't her strong-suit. "The Turks are making a lot of calls to have equipment shipped in. Amechanio doesn't want to wait; he's setting up a lab on our base to conduct the tests."

    Nodding, Etechnia saluted the troopers. "Thank you. You've both been quite helpful." The SOLDIER walked away, conflicted. On the one hand, a living Ancient was a rare find; one that scientists could study for the benefit of magical advancement.

    On the other, Sophron already had a living Ancient for a student, and was already learning all he could from her.

    The realization that galvanized Etechnia's resolve was simple; Amechanio's experiments would be inhumane at best, and lethal at worst.

    "Alright, keep your eye on the ball. Just keep your eye on the ball." Cadet Group Eight's roster had few members more persistent than Lioke. The young woman grasped the cups in front of her, shifting them at a blinding speed as Gaeira struggled to keep up. Her glowing blue eyes locked onto Gaeira's, then looked up at the ceiling as she moved the cups like a blur.

    Easy money; the hand was quicker than the eye. Gaeira stared at the cups as they blurred back and forth, one holding a simple ping-pong ball. A silly game with high stakes; Gaeira had sunken a small fortune into this game, and now it was all or nothing.

    He'd tried every trick; he'd listened for the ball, placed his hand on the table to feel the vibration; he'd even tried "eenie meenie miney mo" more than once. Lioke stopped the cups, an unflappable, businesslike look on her face.

    "Go ahead. Guess." Lioke took her hands off the table as her mark poured over his decision.

    "...Think you could pause this and answer our question?" Apatet stood behind him, eyes narrow with annoyance. Kydomis seemed amused; they'd only come in recently and asked. As interested as he was in Etechnia's intentions, he also liked to watch people fail.

    Anai folded her arms, yawning loudly. She was already bored of this, and no longer cared about the question.

    "Give me a second," Gaeira hissed. "Quiet. I need to...focus my chakras."

    "Chakras aren't real," Anai grumbled.

    "Shush." Lioke snapped her fingers at Anai, pointing towards her aggressively before turning back to Gaeira. "Chakras are cheating. Thirty gil fee if you guess right."

    "It's just an expression." Gaeira stayed focused on the cups, desperate for some hint or clue. "Like...I donno, focusing your Chakras is just a way to say 'keep your eye on the ball,' or some other shit that's less relevant but sounds smarter." He was dedicating every ounce of his brain-power to finding which cup would avail him. On a serious losing streak, he had already halved his spending money. Now was the time for a miracle.

    "Actually, it's not." Apatet cringed internally when the word came out of her mouth for the eighth time in a single day. "...Pick the left one."

    Gaeira acted on Apatet's advice. Shutting his eyes, he flipped the cup over. Empty. 

    "FUCK." Heartbroken at the loss, Gaeira slapped down three golden coins. "You can see the future? Why didn't you guess right?"

    "I don't see the exact future. I see the most possible one. It's like lucid guessing." Apatet shrugged her shoulders. "I didn't even use my powers. I just thought it'd be on the left."

    "Then why would you-" Before Gaeira could properly tear into Apatet, the game-master held out her hand. Lioke grinned, rubbing her fingers together; she intended to be paid. "There's your gil, you grifter. Go buy Alken something nice." Wiping his face with agony, the young man groaned at the loss like he'd developed a hernia. "NEXT TIME, I'll get my money back with interest."

    Kydomis kept his mouth shut, but his shoulders rapidly bobbed; he couldn't help but laugh. Apatet felt a little guilty for accidentally ruining his chances. "So," the redhead began, "can you answer our question?"

    "Eh. Fine. Etechnia's teaching us and taking us on missions as a learning exercise." Gaeira leaned against the table as Lioke counted out golden coins, stuffing them into her bag.

    "...She's teaching us so we can learn. Groundbreaking theory." Anai ground her teeth. I can't believe I wasted so much time dicking around with these id-

    "Not for us. For her. She wants to be a better leader. She started with Alken, since he's the easiest to command. Understands and takes orders with no problem." Gaeira gesticulated slightly with each sentence; it helped to keep the group's attention. "She wants to improve on her leadership. Plus, she probably doesn't have any other friends her age besides us. It's kinda obvious; that's part of the reason Alalonn scouted us as Cadets."

    Apatet and Kydomis seemed pleased with the answer. However, Anai seemed rankled. "So we were guinea pigs all along?"

    "Don't get your panties in a twist." Gaeira's spirits seemed to be improving; he was like Apatet in a few regards. He was perceptive, and loved to be right. "Alalonn knew we were hot shit from the start. Besides, he's a good man. He wouldn't use us for ulterior motives unless it was funny, or it made us stronger. We're a real rags-to-riches story."

    Her anger abated, Anai nodded. "In return for this information, I have a hot tip for you." Gaeira listened, wondering what Anai had for him to know. "There was never a ball. Lioke played you, and now she's run off with your money."

    Gaeira turned, and Lioke was gone. He swiped his hand across the cups, battering them aside; indeed, there was no ball. Lioke had moved the lip of one of the cups towards her end of the table, dropping it into her hand and pocketing it. Staring at the empty table, Gaeira slumped forward, grasping handfuls of his slicked-back hair.

    He could hear Lioke cackling in the distance. "Damn. She really booked it. You'll probably never catch up. She's fast as hell." Kydomis patted Gaeira on the shoulder. "Well, play stupid games, get stupid prizes."

    "...Shut up, Kydo."

    Etechnia pressed the doorbell on one of the barracks. The door slid open, Alken standing in front of her. He seemed rather tired, but amiable as always. "Whatcha need, boss?"

    "Your help with something. Think you could come with me? Time is of the essence."

    Author's Note

    This'll be the first "event," before things ebb back into normalcy. I call this arc Attack on Thaumaturge.

    Here's your last two character sheets for Cadet Group Eight. Thanks for reading!

    Name: Anaideian Djanga

    Age: 18

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: Anai sports straight black hair, slightly tanned skin and bright red eyes. She's the youngest and physically smallest of her team, standing at only 5'3". She usually ties back her hair with a silver ribbon.

    Profile: Quiet and brooding, Anai is singularly interested in accruing strength and impressing her peers. She rarely brags, and believes that only deeds can determine value. She's a bit insecure about her standing; she's the smallest of her peers, but makes up for it in tenacity and sheer determination.

    Specialty: Anai is the only Second-Class SOLDIER under Alalonn's command who disobeys the order to only use standard issue weapons; she has a thing for knives, and is insanely skilled with their employment. She moves insanely quietly, and has a natural talent for stealth.

    She tends to use Ice Materia in a nasty way; using physical contact, she freezes certain parts of an enemy solid. The tends to target internal organs, most predominantly the lungs. The use of magic for such purposes almost led to her recruitment by the Turks, but she was completely uninterested in serving them.

    Name: Lioke

    Age: 19

    Rank: SOLDIER Second-Class

    Appearance: Lioke sports dark brown hair, sapphire blue eyes, and fair skin. She stands 5'5", but tends to relax and slouch somewhat, making her seem smaller. She has sharp teeth, and her hair falls to neck level in a messy bob, her bangs often covering her left eye when her hair isn't tied back or under a helmet. She wears a silver chain bracelet on her right arm.

    Profile: Persistent, witty and brutally honest, Lioke prides herself in doing exactly what she wants. Caring little for rules or conventions, she regards herself as a force of nature, only halting her intentions when they might lead to dangerous consequences. Impulsive and fun-loving, she greatly enjoys picking on vulnerable teammates and fleecing Gaeira of his considerable savings. Because of her proclivity towards pranks, she and Hybria often join forces to wreak havoc as a team.

    Specialty: Lioke is FAST. None of her teammates can keep up with her top sprinting speed for long. She can cross long distances in mere moments, and move in short bursts that are so rapid that an untrained eye will lose sight of her. Adding this to her deft swordsmanship, she is a tricky opponent.

    She's also noted for her aim with Lightning Materia, her reflexes, and her eye-sight. She can effectively "snipe" opponents from long range with bolts of lightning if she has a vantage point.
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 27th 2017, 8:35 pm

    "Do you need any help?" Etechnia leaned over Alken's shoulder as he worked in front of a monitor. There was no chair, so he simply hunched over the desk as he alternated between keying in commands and reading a manual.

    "Not really. This is going to take as long as it takes, whether or not you do anything." He raised his eyebrow, copying down a line of simple code. "I can't believe books like this are allowed." Flipping through the pages on Lioke's copy of Hacking for Dummies, he carefully typed another line onto a black screen.

    "I could just use my password to get into the camera system. I'm First-Class. I have the clearance." Etechnia was eager to get a look at their target.

    The Turks had the camera systems in the brig locked off, and the floor was covered by troopers directly under their chain of command. Like it or not, the only way to get a look at the captive Ancient was to either use Etechnia's First-Class access to overrule the Turks' "privacy," or to hack into the camera system.

    "Negative, 'Nia. If we're doing what I think we're doing, then we'll need a really low profile. Doing it this way will leave us open to the Turks closing the line again, but if you override their access, they'll know." Alken stood up, his back popping. "It'd be nice if I had a chair, though. Someone around here has been stealing chairs lately. Once we're done with this, we should start investigating who's pinching all the damn rolling chairs."

    "...What do you think we're doing here, Alken?" Etechnia focused on his words intently, staring at her reflection in the back of his helmet. The room security room, unlit save for the blue glow of the monitor, was washed with a dark blue light, occasionally shifting when Alken changed windows. After a few more moments of typing, he turned to answer.

    "Saving the Ancient. I wouldn't let Amechanio get his hands on Apatet, so whoever this person is, I won't let him visit undue harm on them either." Alken rubbed his eyes. He was low on sleep, but he was in high spirits. "It'll feel good to throw a wrench in his plans. After what he did to me and my friends as cadets, some payback is in order."

    "You could be court-martialed."

    "Calculated risk. I was an accessory the moment I agreed to help." Alken rolled his eyes. "Let's not do this. You're not keeping me out of this, so don't even try."

    "You could face a firing squad." Etechnia grasped his upper arm insistently, but he shrugged her off, continuing the slow, arduous work of copying lines of code and executing computer commands. "I order you to step away from the keyboard and get some sleep."

    "Nope. You're not doing this alone. Besides, I'm not the only one. Lioke is checking the progress of Amechanio's trip, and Hybria took the prison-shift guards out for a night of drinking. Tomorrow night's our best window of opportunity, since they'll be hung-over and sloppy. They'll be push-overs, so you won't have to get too rough."

    Hybria watched with a wry grin on her face as her "new friends" chugged another pint of porter, the dark fluid running down the corners of their mouths.

    All according to plan.

    Etechnia gawked at the confession.

    "We're all behind you on this. When I said I was changing clothes, I was talking with them on our secure chat server. Didn't you wonder why I was wearing the same damn thing?" Alken snorted. "We can't all be Gaeira, or Lioke, but you've gotta work on your situational awareness, boss." Turning back towards her, he raised his eyebrow. "I believe Kydo said it best; the right thing is the right thing is the right fucking thing. Who cares if we get in trouble for it?"

    She wanted to feel betrayed, but the emotion wasn't there. Uncertain what to think, she choked out the first question that came to mind. "So you're all doing this for a person you don't know?"

    "Partially. You're going to save this Ancient with or without our help, aren't you? If we don't help you, what kind of friends are we?" Alken stood up and stepped away from the computer. "Alright, it's done. Wanna do the honors of pressing the enter key?" Folding his arms proudly, the SOLDIER grinned at the screen. "Don't press anything else, or I've got to start all ov-"

    Etechnia stepped forward, wrapping her arms around Alken in a warm hug. "Thank you for being such a good friend to me."

    "S'nothin'." Alken lifted the visor of his helmet. He tried to look her in the eye, but with his chin over her pauldron, he was getting an uncomfortable face-full of buster-sword. "...Don't move forward, or you might break my nose."

    The First-Classer broke off the hug, blushing. "Sorry. That wasn't what you might think; I think of you solely as a friend."

    "...I assumed. Also, owch. I know I'm taken, but I'm still a human. There ought to be at least some basis for attraction."

    "I'm gay, Al."

    "Oh. Wow. Am I the only one who knows that?"

    Etechnia scratched her hair, bending back one of the jagged sprouts. "Hm...probably. You can tell everyone else if you want; it's not exactly a secret. I've just never had the reason to-"

    "Yeah-yeah-yeah. Let's just stop talking and press the thing. Time is of the essence." Alken hoped Etechnia wouldn't begrudge him for being blunt. "The security guard might come back any minute. Gaeira can't keep him distracted for long."

    Gaeira folded his arms, raising his eyebrow. "With all due respect, I don't see how you can lose a chair. Inspection day is coming soon, so if you don't find it, you're fucked."

    The security guard squeezed the bridge of his nose miserably. "Thanks for the help, but I could use less commentary."

    Walking behind the man, Gaeira smirked. He'd taken the chair.

    Nearly fifteen percent of the chairs in the Sector Two base were now on their way out of Midgar and to a Junon boarding school, in a box labeled Arieag Enterprises.

    Easy money.

    "I wonder how he managed to distract the guy." Alken pointed to the keyboard. "Well, time's wastin'. Hit the enter button already." Etechnia stepped towards the keyboard and lifted it like a video-game controller, the wire dangling over the lip of the table as she looked for the key. "...Do you always lift keyboards to use them?"

    "I'm not great with computers. Are you not supposed to?"

    "...Hit the button, 'Nia."

    Mashing the button with her thumb, both SOLDIERs watched the screen. Alken's jerry-rigged code took effect, and the monitor switched to the brig's cameras. Moments later, their stomachs turned in unison with disgust.

    Author's Note

    CLIFFHANGER~! Thanks for reading!
    Bad John
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on April 27th 2017, 9:20 pm

    Mocked up some weapon pictures before writing tonight's chapter.

    Far left are three shots of Alken's future Sweep Blade. It's inspired by a Nagimaki, but with a European, steampunk vibe. It's a very modern design, and has a few solid moving parts. The handle retracts for easy carrying, and the blade pulls back a little for Materia access; when he casts a spell, the Materia slots slide out. They slide back in so people can't steal them while in close quarters and use them against him.

    Next up is Etechnia's buster-sword. It's huge. Alalonn made it for her fairly recently, so it's got that new-sword shine to it. The ribbon is largely meaningless now, but it'll come into play later on.

    The next is Alalonn's longsword. In universe, it's far more worn, having unbuffable dings on it from years of use despite Alalonn's care. He's reforged it completely more than once, but since he fights such powerful foes, the beatings it takes are pretty severe. It's an ancient weapon from a bygone era (like, hundreds of years back), so it has no Materia slots. It's been in his family for ages.

    Last is Hybria's ax. The look was inspired by an ax from Nier: Automata. I love that game. Color scheme is sorta inspired by Pearl's spear from Steven Universe. Love that spear. She chose not to add Materia Slots, since she prefers to keep those on her belt.

    I'll probably make more later.

    Sorry about the shorter chapter. Look forward to more soon!
    Bad John
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on May 6th 2017, 5:17 pm

    The cell was dark and cold. Unsure of the time, or her immediate fate, a young girl huddled in a corner. Her captors had only paid her one kindness; regular meals and water to keep her strength up.

    Pulling her scraped knees to her chest, Adiki wished she'd followed her caretaker's advice; come back to the community center before dark. Now, not even Nemsis could help her. She wasn't even certain that God could see her. For some reason, the lights had been out for hours, despite the guards serving her breakfast. She looked at the plastic watch on her wrist. The clock had just ticked past eight in the morning, but it was pitch black.

    Pressing her forehead down, she shut her eyes and tried to go back to sleep.


    A voice made the girl start, jumping back against the wall and pressing herself there. She saw two motes of light, green and glowing against the darkness, dimly illuminating the bars of her cell. The creature placed a hand on one of the bars as Adiki watched, heart pounding in her chest.

    "I'm here to take you home. Just be quiet and don't move, okay?"

    There was a loud creak as the bar moved, bending in the stranger's grip. Grasping another, the stranger pushed it to the side with a grunt of effort, the metal yielding like foil. Adiki wasn't the least bit relieved; a monster who could bend metal was coming into her cell, whispering promises. "Did they hurt you?"

    Remaining stoically silent, Adiki kept her gaze fixed on the glowing eyes as the stranger stepped through the gap she'd made. "Hold still." The stranger was close enough for the girl to see now; she was wearing a hooded cloak, and held out a hand, palm pointed forward. Suddenly, the room was lit by green mist that snaked across the cell towards Adiki.

    The girl had never seen Materia before, but she raced across the cell to avoid it. The coil of glowing green air chased slowly after her. "Don't try to dodge it. It's just a healing spell."

    Etechnia was growing slightly impatient. The hood itched, and Adiki wasn't being helpful. She coursed more magic through the air as the girl cornered herself. The mint-green stream of restorative magic found its target, washing over her and vanishing into her skin. Adiki felt her soreness vanish. The cuts on her limbs closed, and the bruises from her cuffs were unmade. Adiki remained crouched in the corner as the First-Class SOLDIER stood over her. "There. That was easy, wasn't it?"

    "...Thank you." The gears started turning in the girl's head; the stranger was here to help. Etechnia could see a spur of hope forming in the girl's expression. Standing up straight, Adiki walked towards the elder woman. "Do you know Nemsis? Did she send you to help?"

    "No, but what the people here are doing is wrong. I'm here to take you back to your family. But you can't tell anyone; you never met me. More importantly, I need you to be very quiet, and do everything I say."

    Adiki nodded. Etechnia's view on the girl turned around; she had the look of a survivor, and she was being immediately compliant. Beyond that, she felt an agonizing pang of sympathy for the poor thing; she only seemed to be eight years old, barely coming up to the SOLDIER's waist.

    Footsteps came. "Get under the bed." Etechnia clenched her fists. It felt weird to fight with her hands bare; normally there was a tight, squeaking leather sound when she closed her hands. However, she'd shed any artifact of her SOLDIER uniform, donning a simple disguise that Apatet threw together. Reaching into her cloak, Etechnia yanked on a pair of shades to cover the Mako glow.

    "Who's there?" The lights came on, and two men sluggishly shuffled in. "Is someone in here? You're not to talk to the prisoner." Slinking along the wall towards the cell's bars, Etechnia kept her footsteps quiet. The Shinra guards checked each cell, a groan coming from one of the men.

    "I didn't hear anything. Let's just go stand by the door. My head's killin' me." Hybria's plan to get them wasted before their shift had worked; their inattention to detail had let her slip right past them after pulling rank had failed. When the men went to the bathroom to dry heave, she'd gotten inside. Unfortunately, now she'd have to dispatch the duo from a disadvantageous position.

    "If something happens to the Ancient, how will you explain it to the Doctor? We might end up on one of his cuttin' tables." As one of the men came close to the cell, Etechnia reached out and grasped a handful of his sleeve. "OH SHI-"

    Klong. She yanked him head-first against one of the cell's bars, his helmet bouncing off of it. Falling limp, his gun clattered to the floor. The second guard kept his distance, moving forward and pointing his rifle. "Don't move! Who are you? A spy?!" The guard shouldered his rifle. Keeping herself between the Adiki and the guard, Etechnia quickly thought of a plan of attack. She pulled her leg back. "I said DON'T MOVE!"

    The guard let loose a hail of bulletfire, but Etechnia was faster; flexing her hand, she conjured a barrier. The bullets curved off of it, pocking against the walls. Swinging her foot, Etechnia kicked the downed guard's rifle into the man's face, the butt of the machine gun smashing across his brow and knocking his helmet off. Slumping down, the guard dropped to the floor.

    Despite the sound of gunshots, Adiki didn't move an inch or make a peep, keeping her eyes shut. Etechnia rushed over, stabbed her hand under the bed, and grasped the girl by the hand. "Come." Adiki crawled out, and Etechina lifted her cloak. She wasn't even wearing her boots; she was in a pair of oversized slippers and cloth pants donated by her Second-Class teammates. Adiki crawled into the SOLDIER's cloak, and Etechnia lifted her with one arm. "Arms around my neck, and lock them together. I need you to hang on tight; once we have to move, I'll be going very fast."

    "Okay ma'am."

    "You are a very well mannered girl." Etechnia smiled. "Our chance to get out of here should come in a few seconds." The SOLDIER looked up towards the cell's camera. Lifting her free hand, she gave the signal, lowering her thumb.

    The alarm signals went off. Waiting with baited breath, Etechnia hoped to hear Gaeira's voice soon.

    "This is an emergency." Gaeira came over the intercom, masking his voice. He almost sounded like a woman, keeping the pitch high and lilting. All according to plan. "There are reports of a theft in progress. Several fugitives on base in black suits with white shirts have been sighted stealing Shinra munitions. As their disguises resemble active Turk agents, all Turks are to report to the top level offices. This is to be done immediately, to avoid being caught in the crossfire. Due to the gravity of the theft, any who fail to comply will be viewed as enemy combatants, and are to be detained on sight."

    Elegant in its simplicity, the plan would keep the main threat out of the way. She had a straight shot at a clean getaway, so long as she didn't run into the few other First-Classers on base. Shinra troopers could be non-lethally defeated, but being locked in an unarmed battle with a Turk might prove difficult and time consuming.

    "Hang on." Etechnia stepped through the gap in the bars, moving into the hallway.
    Bad John
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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Bad John on May 24th 2017, 6:01 pm

    The moment she stepped into the hall, Etechnia faced a worst-case scenario. Glowering at her from across the hall, a man in a black suit adjusted his glasses, staring her down intently.

    "Drop the girl and surrender." The man calmly adjusted his tie. He was the absolute picture of a Turk; professional and looming. Etechnia heard a faint, electric hum coming from the inside of his clothes; likely a weapon. "I won't tell you twice."

    Can I handle him barehanded? Tightning her fist, Etechnia adjusted her disguise, swiping at her sleeve to free her arm somewhat. ...Out of the question. I'd be defending the girl as well. Adiki tightened her grip around the SOLDIER's neck when she heard the hostile voice.

    Sighing heavily, the Turk reached into his breast pocket and snapped open a cell phone. "This is Empuso. Put me through to the doctor, tut suite." The Turk lowered his guard somewhat; Etechnia could tell that he wasn't expecting much from her; he'd mistaken her for an average do-gooder. A lucky break. "Amechanio, have your train delayed. Apparently a terrorist cell has infiltrated the SOLDIER compound. One of 'em tried to steal the Ancient. I have the child and the terrorist in custody."

    "Do you, though?" Etechnia broke into a sprint. Empuso dropped his phone out of surprise. When the Turk made a grab for her, the First-Class SOLDIER slipped around and away from his grasp. Despite her evasion, a sharp numbness spread up her leg when his knuckles brushed her. She noticed the sparks too late; the Turk already had his weapon primed.

    A pair of slender gloves lined with electrical nodes. Etechnia held tight to the girl in her arms and pushed forward with her good leg, avoiding Empuso's open hand and dashing away from him. Ignoring the earlier shock, she forced her leg to work as she commanded.

    "Yeah, I do." Empuso dove towards her, intent on finishing the fight quickly. Etechnia, with little time to act, did the only thing that made sense; she dropped Adiki and put herself in front of the Turk, intent on keeping the child out of harm's way.

    Fortunately, the fight was in someone else's hands now. Etechnia could tell it was Alken by the way he moved, despite the anonymity of his SOLDIER helmet and uniform. Colliding with the Turk knee first, he fell on top of the man. The two rolled for a moment before Empuso kicked Alken off, the two standing on opposite sides of the hall. Etechnia grabbed Adiki and ran the moment she had the chance.

    Empuso adjusted his sunglasses and fixed his hair, sighing deeply. "What the hell are you doing, kid?"

    "All Turk agents are to report to the upper levels for clearance. Either you're going directly against Shinra orders, or you're one of the thieves I heard about." Alken unclipped his sword from his back, placing the scabbard against his shoulder. "You can either let me escort you to the elevator, or we'll have a problem."

    The Turk's knuckles sparked as he stepped into a fighting stance, tightening his hands and spacing his feet apart. "I'm under direct orders from the biological science division of Shinra. A fugitive just escaped right under our noses. Move, or I'll move you."

    "What fugitive?" Alken looked around; Etechnia had already made her escape. "I don't see a fugitive. Sounds to me like you're lying."

    "Fine. The hell with it. I'm gonna break your legs." Empuso rolled his neck and started towards the SOLDIER, who doggedly held his ground.

    Who will win?! Find out pretty soon!

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    Re: Those Who Fight Further.

    Post  Sponsored content

      Current date/time is July 19th 2018, 5:19 am