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GM

 

Rita fell to her knees after the first hit. Nicole hadn't managed to draw blood, but a nasty bruise was quickly starting to develop on her forehead. She was almost completely limp as Nicole shook her, her head falling back and forth, seemingly unresponsive. Despite the mouse having let go, and now being nothing but a mark on the floor, the circuitry seemed to still be spreading across Rita's neck. It was moving fast. Some of the circuits had almost reached her ear by now.

 

*BUMP*

 

The sound was louder. The frequency of the bumps had decreased, but the sound was getting ever louder, with each hit. The door was starting to visibly bulge.

 

*BUMP*

 

Another big hit. The doors bent further. A hit or two more of the same power, and the doors would bend, and Nicole would have to choose if she would run, or stay to protect Rita.

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Nicole

 

As the bumps grew into crashes, Nicole stopped shaking Rita and stared at the woman's unresponsive eyes. Nicole waved a hand in front of Rita's face. Lifeless, glazed over. The circuitry crept from her ear into the edges of her face.

 

*BUMP*

 

"Rita?" Nicole said in a whisper, fearing the worst as her hands let go off Rita's arms. Unsuported, Rita sagged down until she looked like a kneeling ragdoll, arms splayed on her sides and head hanging limp.

 

"I'm so so--"

 

*BUMP*

 

Nicole manuevered to the elevator control panel. Her fingers hovered over the open doors button as her other hand gripped the lamppost. She looked to Rita one last time.

 

"I'm sorry."

 

*BUMP*

 

Her fingers smashed the button before the mice could recover and she drove out the elevator, leaving Rita behind.

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GM

 

As Nicole rolled out, the mice streamed into the elevator. If she looked back while she escaped further in, she could see the mice swarming all over Rita, her body rapidly disappearing under the mice's metallic fur. The last thing she saw was Rita's hand slowly moving up from under the mice, before the elevator door closed behind her. 

 

The floor was eerily silent for a short moment. It was if all the mice had disappeared into the elevator. Soon, the lights began to flicker, and Nicole began to hear the bumping noises, coming seemingly from all around her. At first she wasn't quite what sure she had reached. It seemed obvious that the elevator hadn't reached all the way down to the ground floor. After a moment it became clear that she had reached the floor where Rita's team was stationed. The noise of people talking, tools being used and whatever other noise had filled the floor when Nicole was last there.

 

Unlike the other floor, this one was far less open. Long hallways, with numerous laboratories on each side, with different numbers or designations on each. The nanotech laboratory was at the other end of the long, silent hallway. No noise.

 

Aside from the constant bumps.

Edited by RocketLord

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Nicole

 

"Helllloooo!"

 

Nicole drove her wheelchair forward, not daring to stop as the bumps continued. She passed by laboratories, her lamppost held at the ready. She would peeked her head inside only to find an empty room before hurrying to the next laboratory to repeat the process.

 

Nothing and more nothing, and with each empty room her heart sank. As the bumps and flickering lights continued her calls for help turned into whimpers. Her memory threatened to bring her back to the mice swarming over Rita, over the person she abandoned. The hand reaching for help stuck at the back of her mind like an unpleasant afterimage, and though she'd blink away tears she pushed on until she was right before the nanotech laboratory.

 

"Help," she said, barely above a whisper. The bumps quickly drowning it out. "Please."

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GM

 

As Nicole called out and moved further, the sound of the bumps slowly began to fade. At first, the force of the impacts seemed to lessen. Then, the frequency lowered. Finally, they stopped all together. Nicole was all alone in the silent hallway, moving past the laboratories.

 

"In here." 

 

A voice called out, coming from all the way down to the last laboratory. Rita's lab, the one where she had introduced Nicole to the rest of the team, and the discussion that had led them into the basement in the first place. Nicole couldn't quite place the voice.

 

"Quick."

 

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Nicole

 

The hairs at the back of her neck stood on end as the voice finished speaking. There were other sounds beyond that voice, people moving around, but in a way that just seemed off to her, ringing alarm bells in her head. It was her gut telling her to be careful. Two years in the superhero business and she'd couldn't count the times her gut had saved her.

 

"Yeah." Nicole said as she looked around the laboratory for a better weapon than a damned lamppost. "Yeah, coming!"

 

As she looked she waited for Bellios to come. The bumps had stopped, meaning the mice were gone, or just watching and waiting. No witnesses.

 

The lights flickered and this time Nicole gave a small smile. Her hand reached up and activated her glasses, a faint glow of purple in the darkness.

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GM

 

"Quick." The voice repeated from down the hall.

 

The area of the hall between Nicole and Rita's laboratory was rather bare, except for the occassional hallways leading left or right to other laboratories. Not much to use as a weapon. But, of course, Nicole had other options.

 

The darkness didn't bother Nicole anymore, though the short flashes of light might. There was nothing to see. Nothing to hear, aside from the voice down the hall. As Nicole moved forward, past a hallway leading down to some laboratories on the right, now about halfway to the room where the man called out, she noticed it. The Belios armor, great and imposing, ready for use. Appearing from out of nowhere, casting a shadow for the bright seconds where the lights flickered.

 

Surely, nothing could go wrong, as long as Nicole had Belios.

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Nicole

 

Mice streaming from the walls and all around them as she and Rita ran for the elevator.

 

Nicole cracked her knuckles as she approached Bellios, her lips tight in concentration. Yeah, the scientist wanted her to be quick about things and she would be. Getting in and activating the whole armor only took ten seconds max.

 

The desperate fight in the elevator. A mouse biting down on Rita before silver veins spread from her neck.

 

This whole place needed a burning down. One mouse wasn't a threat, but in great numbers they could be, biting and stopping a grown person cold. But to a hero with no chinks in her armor? To Salvo? Irrelevant.

 

Mice swarmed over Rita. Her hand reached out one last time.

 

Nicole's hand reached out as Bellios readied to accept her. Engines thrummed to life at her will. Weapons of war and destruction to be loosed upon its master's enemies. She saw herself reflected in its visor, grinning now a thin slash of a smile.

 

It was time to end this nightmarish charade.

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GM

 

Belios came to life. Nicole fell into the armor's protective shell, and it closed around her.

 

Still, something was wrong. Nicole could feel it immediately, as the armor closed. It was a strange sensation. Like there was something moving inside the armor. Something different, something strange. Something soft, like fur, and yet with a metallic feeling. Brushing against Nicole. Crawling over her, in all the places inside Belios that she couldn't actually see. Her arms, legs. And then, it brushed up against the side of her face. If she turned, she would see a metallic mouse sitting on her shoulder, simply staring at her, without making a sound.

 

She was not alone inside Belios.

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Salvo

 

Nicole turned her head slowly at the touch on her face and her eyes widened as she noticed the mouse on her shoulder. She opened her mouth to scream--

 

And doubled over, head bowed, knees and elbows thunking down on white nothing. Eyes screwed shut, she screamed and screamed where no one could hear until her throat hurt and tears and snot streaming down her face.

 

Trembling, she reached a hand up to her shoulder and grasped at air. There was no mouse waiting for her but that did not reassure her.

 

She was split in two and even wearing Bellios she was not safe. They robbed her of that and she would make them pay. Kill them. Burn them. Right the wrongs. Find Rita's body and lay her to rest.

 

The hand at her shoulder clenched into a fist and Salvo's shoulder exploded in fire and pain.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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GM

 

Fire, pain, then darkness. Nicole's world exploded, then turned dark. When she woke, she was still in the mindscape, still inside Belios. There was a weight on Belios. In the short time that Nicole had been out, the mice been busy. They were crawling all over the armor, a massive pile of fur and metal that surrounded the robot. Could Belios fight its way outof the pile of mice? Probably. They were completely silent as they crawled and skittered, looking for any openings, anywhere they could get in.

 

As Nicole came to, she slowly registered a voice. Someone that had been talking for a while, it seemed. "... -eady inside your grotesque armor once. It is only a matter of time before another finds a way in, and then, you're mine." The voice paused. It was a man. It sounded like one of the scientists. Guy. It was obvious, wasn't it? Of course it would be him. "The nanomachines give me completely control. Bodies that follow my every command, even after they cease to show any life signs. It is quite a feat, really." The mice were crawling all over Belios' visor, it would be a wonder if Nicole could even see anything. "Still, you had to go digging, did you not? And of course, Rita just had to let the little prodigy play. Guess she's regretting that now? But that armor? Now that was a surprise. But don't worry, we'll put it to good use, once you're one of mine."

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Salvo

 

She woke with mice crawling over her armor and the incessant clacking of metal claws against metal plates. They almost drowned out Guy's voice but Nicole heard and hot anger rose up from her chest. She had a target, someone to blame for everything besides a rogue infestation of nano-mice.

 

"Shut up."

 

Her hand rose and slammed against her visor, smearing the mice and their silvery blood across her helmet. One glance at Bellios' vitals painted a somber picture. It was damaged badly and so was her own body, and even directing a small amount of power to any of her systems could push them over the brink. It would have been worrying if she were facing a threat that could harm her, but mice were nothing and so was Guy. Her armor was proofed for underwater, space and many dangerous interdimensional realms.

 

"You aren't getting in." One hand slammed against the ground, squishing more mice, and she pushed herself to a sitting position, mice falling and scurrying over her body. At the back of her mind, something screamed and broke, but she did not care now. She was safe and powerful, even in such a damaged state. "You and your mice? Nothing. And you'll be less than nothing when I strangle you until you stop breathing."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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GM

 

Guy did not react to the threat, as scary as it might have been. He didn't even flinch when she smashed the mice that were crawling all over the armor. Now that she could see him, his face appeared rather neutral. He was standing with his hands behind his back, his eyes staring straight at her. Still wearing the same shirt.

 

"Oh, but there is so much more than just the mice. The mice are just the carriers. They're happy to be slaves."

 

There was something about him that seemed off. It took a moment, but Nicole would see it. Starting from his neck, he was covered in tiny, silver circuits. As he took a further step into the light, the light shining off the circuits just made it even more visible. 

 

"Just like Rita."

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Salvo

 

"Your delusional and a fool. Rita's dead. I saw her go under."

 

Salvo limped around Guy, noticing the silver circuits around his neck. She considered wrapping her hand around the neck but dismissed it almost immediately as an warning alarm rang in her head. Her resistors were leaking and she hurried to patch the problem. Black liquid that looked like blood leaked from her armor in a dozen places. She had broken Bellios with that internal combustion. Too hasty, she hadn't held back and now she feared to fight even an unpowered human and risk her armor falling to pieces.


But Guy did not know that and so she moved past Guy with nothing more than a death glare.

 

"But it doesn't matter. You'll let me leave and when I come back I'll burn this building to the ground. And you can try running, with or without your mice and nanotechnology, but I have many ways of finding you."

 

Then she exited the laboratory and began her slow way towards the elevator for the ground floor, ignoring the mice still clinging to her armor and around her.

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GM

 

Guy slowly turned, keeping his eyes on Nicole as she moved. He held his hands behind his back, making no effort to stop her. 

 

"I'm sure you have."

 

As she lumbered out the door, he remained silent. The hallway, the path to the elevator to the ground floor, was absolutely filled with mice. Crawling all over the walls, the floor, the doors. They semed to move with intent, but what was the plan? At least they stopped when Nicole reached the door, spreading to show the path. Guy moved to the door. The circuits seemed to run all over his skin. He made one final remark.

 

"You are free to leave, but, you are wrong. Rita lives. And perhaps she will even stay like that, if you decide to stay and play along."

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Salvo

 

Salvo stopped in her tracks, held in place by Guy's words. Then slowly, she faced him, body language blank and made more unreadable by her all-concealing armor.

 

"I don't believe you," she said though she did not continue her way out. "Show me."

 

Absently she slapped at a stray mice perched on her shoulder, leaving a silvery smear.

 

She felt herself hold her breathe inside the armor. A small part of her hopped Rita was alive so that she would have a chance to save both of them now.

 

Yet there was always a catch ans she waited for it to drop.

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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GM

 

"But of course. You are, after all, one that believes in what she sees, are you not?"

 

Guy stood still, while a mouse clicked on a button on a computer keyboard. The computer screen came to life, showing Rita in a non-descript room. A single mouse was sitting on her shoulder, circuitry spreading from the point on her neck where she had been bitten. Her eyes were open, she was staring straight ahead at the screen, unblinking.

 

"There is your proof. Alive. Almost unharmed. Exit your armor, and she might stay that way."

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Salvo

 

"No."

 

With painful slowness she shook her head. Then she took a step towards Guy, not to submit as a defeated hero but to question further. Bellios had steeled her heart and where she would have despaired as Nicole now there was only unblinking fire.

 

"And how do I know that what you say and what I see are true?" She gestured at the mice around them. "That you had the video doctored just as quickly as you had all these mice appear when they were so well hidden a few minutes before."

 

She stabbed a finger pointed at Guy's neck. "Those circuitry. Do they spread after the bite? Is the nanite infection irreversible? For all I know about how nanomachines interact with humans, Rita is dead or better off dead. That you won't do to her what you did to yourself or kill her anyway."

 

There was a pause as she stared down the unblinking Guy, as cameras within the building budged an inch to the side or blinked off and on for a second. She searched quickly as she talked, until she found the camera in the basement. Only then did she lower her arm and take a step back from Guy.

 

"No. If I did not believe you before, now I don't believe you and I don't trust you. You don't have the power you think over me. Take me to her so I could determine how salvageable her life is and then we could talk."

Edited by Zeitgeist Blue

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GM

 

"Why should I tell you how all of this work?" Guy shook his head as he spoke, slowly crossing his arms. He seemed uncaring about Salvo jabbing him in the neck with her massive, armored finger, but he gave no indication on whether her line of questioning were right or not. There was something in the corner of his eye, a hint of fear, perhaps? Or maybe he was just impatient?

 

"You are in no position to make demands, are you now? If I lead you to Rita, then you will surely try to rescue her. If you kill me here, then you will never know, will you now?"

 

There was another pause. Unblinking, he stared up at the massive armor. 

 

"But, very well. Follow, but I am afraid that your armor won't fit in the elevator." He turned and started walking towards the elevator, mice parting around him, all watching Salvo's every move.

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