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Lines & Lining (IC)


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AEGIS central command, "The Iceberg", inderneath the Federal Building in Freedom City, NJ, USA.ò


The infirmary. Bed 22.


July 5th 2016

"Mz. Hino."


Sakurako had been floating in darkness for a long time. The voices were pretty frequent, and added variety to the inchoate shapes that slid by. Sometimes they were her parents, sometimes her friends. Once, she had seen and heard Hannah looking down from some white void and whisper that she was coming for her.


"Mz. Hino...time to wake up..." This time, there was the gentle tug at her shoulder. This had happened a few times before, she had woken up and gone home to her happy parents and favourite flying jellyfish with the fifteen finger puppets.


Once, there had been a dog. That was weird.


"Alright Turinsdottir, we do it your way. Fire her up."


Then very suddenly the black void was wrenched away, Sakurako was staring out at a room drenched in red, white and blue, curtains shielding most of it from view. Next to her were two severe, military-looking women in scrubs, hair caps and face masks, one holding a silvery syringe and nonchalantly removing a cylinder of something blue. And wriggling. 


The other looked very apologetic. "Mz. Hino, do you feel any pain? Do you know who you are, what happened before you came here?"


By now the glare was dying down, and the wet, warm feeling she'd had was revealed as submersion in some strange, greenish liquid. Instead of a normal bed, it more resembled a flattened bathtub, covered from her neck down by a pale blue plastic sheet. Her whole body felt like it had been used to beat carpets but otherwise felt fine.

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Sakurako looked at the membrane that allowed her head to poke through... she could feel her body, the pain alone was enough to confirm any neurological damage was more the standard injury response. Although even that was muted. To a dull roar.




One of the nurses looked confused.


"My pain... is a Seven..."


She responded quickly. "Just the after-effect of the healing agent accelerating cell growth. It should die down shortly."


"So I'm in a Bacta Tank? Neat... when do I get to go to Dagobah?"


Her attempt at a joke fell flat as the pain started to subside to about a 2 at this point.


"Obviously, I'm Miss Sakurako Hino, Senior at Claremont High School. I'm currently in some form of US Government facility, and judging by the themed medical curtains that I'm in the custody of AEGIS. So you're also aware I've operated under the callsign of Endeavor, and has had... limited success as a "Superhero" as it were... Are you aware that there is a science terrorist organization using a facility under Bedlam, Michigan for their crimes against humanity and science?"


"Consider yourself starting to be briefed."


She grunted as her antagonized state caused some reaction... "T... There were two others I rescued, a hyperactive electrical metahuman, and another younger gentleman with the ability to take on the properties of any material he comes across... they bailed out over land as I piloted an aircraft to safely explode over the Atlantic... Here's hoping that the flotation device worked and this isn't some last hallucination before I succumb to drowning..."


She leans back. "I honestly should have known that VTOL would have a self-destruct like it did... That and if I would have had a better... sooner crash site... I could have just ejected and happily parachuted to safety."


She looked about. "Ghostworks I think they were called... Wait, I don't think, I know... They're the ones that kidnapped me and the elementalist... Oh, did you recover my suit? I impounded a fascinating teleportation device that I wanted to study..."


She looked at that strange squirming blue thing, quirking an eyebrow... "That doesn't look approved by the AMA..."

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The apologetic-looking doctor(whose nametag read "Lian Rogers") signaled for the other to leave. Adding "Tell Powers" before Turinsdottir vanished into the wider world outside.


"Not to the public," admitted the doctor as she checked a bank of monitors on Sakurako's left "but the wakeworms have been extensively tested, and they don't have any adverse effect on humans. Especially-" glancing at the young superhero, her mouth clicked shut.


Leaning in to examine a drip connected to Endeavor's neck, she went on "Ghostworks is an organization we've suspected to exist for at least ten years, but never found any hard evidence, which was fitting but dangerous. No wonder. Under Bedlam? Jesus. Kidnapped, escaping, somehow befriending that monster Volt, flying a VTOL across the US..."


Rogers shook her head and worked in silence for a while, gently reaching into the membrane to check Sakurako's limbs.


"We did manage to repair your suit, but the other...stuff is in pieces. I'm sorry. If you could make that sonic screwdriver, though, I'm sure you can fix it. But for, just rest and-"


The curtain swept aside to admit a returning Turinsdottir. "He's waiting. Do you feel like you can sit or stand, Mz. Hino?"

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"To be honest considering I nearly drowned out there, and had a massive explosion toss me into the Atlantic... I just feel a bit sore, thanks to your efforts." She smiled, happy for once she wasn't being visited by anyone after another misadventure. "Although I'll need some help getting out of this contraption you got me in."


Sakurako's stomach growled a little... being supported by IV isn't exactly the best way to fill a stomach. "Although I think I am confident in the fact I can handle solid foods."


"Please tell me this sheet can turn into a hospital gown or something... otherwise I'll need... some privacy."


"And yes, I have nothing to hide about the incident. I got a feeling you guys will need all the information I can give." She said, trying to catch up to the world going faster than her waking-up brain. "And you describe Volt as a Monster? My assessment of Volt is he was..." She hesitated from a more impulsive description that a teenager would use. "Volt is a simple being crammed into him a whole lot of power. No wonder he seems a monster. I was amazed he didn't get us killed."


Then she realized she missed something. "Wait... you were about to complete a sentence back there... What was going to be after "Especially...," Doctor?"

Edited by The Sailor
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"Don't worry, Mz. Hino, it's nothing dangerous."


That we can tell said Rogers' awkward silence as she and Dr. Turinsdottir helped Endeavor out of the bed and to a shower, where blessedly hot water and a change into real clothes(and her suit) made an excellent prelude to the meeting with AEGIS' supreme Powers. The doctors handed Sakurako off to short, bubbly agent Elizabeth Nguyen("Please, call me Beth!"), who eagerly chatted about recent super-science news on the way. The hallways were full of agents going this way and that, those who had a second sparing it to smile at or otherwise greet the recovered superhero, a few shouting well-wishes over the hustle and bustle.


The administrative offices, by contrast, were silent as tombs. Agent Nguyen stopped by the door marked

Chief Director

Horatio Powers


Beth knocked twice and opened the door after a gruff voice barked "Just get in!"


Horatio Powers, once the best agent that AEGIS had seen for decades, was a weary, angry-looking middle-aged bald man in a blue suit, an eyepatch over an empty socket spiderwebbed with crow's feet, the old white scar still livid, but flushed red now. Powers was glaring at a manilla envelope on his nearly-empty desk, a good match for the sparse and military-meticulous office. Looking up at the  new arrivals, he rose and marched up to Endeavor, looking her up and down.


"Good to see you on your feet, Mz. Hino. I've already informed your parents of your recovery. Good people, visited often. I'm glad my people got to you before it was too late."


His remaining eye burned like a coal as it swept over to Agent Nguyen "Take that...thing to Meriwether. Then report to Maddox, we're almost ready for Operation Westwitch. Dismissed, agent." Beth nodded, caught the envelope Powers tossed her way, gave Sakurako a comforting shoulder-squeeze and trotted off into the hallway. The door shut behind her automatically, a recording barking "Don't come back 'til the job's done!"


Powers ran a hand over his face. "Don't get in the habit of yelling, please. Just don't. Take a seat, Endeavor. Now, this Ghostworks, what sets them apart from the pack of s***s out there kidnapping people to experiment on them? Do you have any idea why the evaded me for so long?" 


"We have all the time in the world, so omit no detail. Lunch should be here in twenty, you like tuna casserole?"

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"Sounds lovely. Very Minnesotan." Sakurako said, remembering a certain dish she had a while back when her parents visited the state on company business when she was young. She didn't like the peas at the time but now...


"I'm not a very good tactician, Director, but from what I can gather they were using a whole lot of interesting tech. Things like teleporters, a re-purposed Cold-War era underground facility... I wager that is how they avoid detection as the place is pretty much screened to prevent a nuclear EMP from getting inside."


She ended her sidebar thought. "Back to the subject, they were experimenting on someone who could change himself to match a material he was touching. That and that Volt fellow." She sighed as she sat down. "What got my attention was the sheer extent of their operation. Particularly with the types of flight capable vehicles they had in their hold, as well as the fact their guards seemed to lose track of their short-term memory after a regular time period."


She adjusted her repaired suit as she continued. "What disturbed me, was the fact the whole facility was designed not only to contain metahumans, but to experiment on them. That and they had a means to genetically modify individuals to become a mockery of a human being... a sort of troglodyte like monster."


She adjusted the data glasses she had. "To be honest I would have brought the whole place down out of principle... but there was the matter of a populated city above to consider. So I set off an EMP inside the facility to set back their operations for a while. That's how we got out."


She looked at the director. "Seeing that facility made me question my whole approach to how I apply science. I can't any longer think that people would use science in a proper, ethical, and moral manner... at least not by setting an example... It shook my faith in humanity a little before I realized I could do something about it."


"This is me... telling you what I did, and hoping your organization can do more."

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Powers listened intently, nodding along silently until Endeavor came to the close of her story.


Taking a deep breath, the old spy leaned back and regarded the ceiling. "Mz. Hino, last year there was an attack of SHADOW agents in Freedom City. They were in only one small section of the city, but you can understand how terrifying it is to have the enemy you've been shouting into peoples' faces about for decades just walk in. Many of the agents exhibited super-human powers."


The eye rolled ghoulishly down to look at Sakurako "If I was half as obsessed as that fat f*** Senator Bell thinks I am, I'd say this is all a SHADOW gig. But this is different. And different means I can surprise people by giving them a new song and dance. And it has a definite location, we have a witness in you, the shifter and that bastard Volt. This explains the freak power outage in Bedlam, so there's physical evidence of science-terrorists on our soil I can get a hold of. Which means my Service gets a reevaluation of its funding, which means-!"


Slamming his right hand on the table as he leaned across it, Horatio Powers smiled earnestly at the young superheroine, offering his left, glimmering with a small gold band, to her "...you just bought yourself a government agency, lock stock and barrel, a trick supercrooks have been trying for sixty years. I'll help you. And everyone else in AEGIS."


"We don't like people who kidnap or hurt kids, weird hangup."

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Sakurako adjusted her suit again. Seeing that the color was changed to a blue and white motif was expected considering the extensive damage, but then again seeing how quickly AEGIS suddenly offered their hands to a certain marriage. It almost felt presumptuous. "I'll be honest, Director, this is beyond sudden." She said, standing up turning to the wall to the Director's right, a finger on her chin. "One question. That power outage in that city... how many were harmed by that?"


She turned to him. "Because that was also my doing... unintentionally."


"I am 17 years old, going on 18 in January. Yes, I do have the biggest IQ you've probably seen in a teenager, as well as a better developed frontal lobe, but that doesn't excuse the fact that what I did was, while necessary, reckless. I'm sure your rivals in the government will try to bring that up, even with my evidence laid bare like a dinner spread." She was being unjustly harsh, an influence from her instructors at Claremont.


"I'm going to be up front... my plans before this incident was to start setting up an orbital rescue initiative. Being able to get anywhere in the world in 90 minutes, as well as assist the world's space programs to me seems like a good use of my mind power. But now..."


There was something that she's not shown even her closest friend Casey. Rage, tempered by every ounce of her ethical and moral fiber. "...Now I have to focus on a different effort instead."


"I am not where I need to be, Director, not by a long-shot. I've made mistakes. If AEGIS can help refine me, so be it."


She then leaned on her chair, still standing. With a sigh she refocuses. "You're 100% Incorrect, Director. You own me. I'm at a loss how to proceed with my life. You've saved my life twice. Both times plucking me out of the ocean. Once because I fancied myself capable of taking out a robotic crab, and now this. You need help, true. and apparently you've assessed I have that missing piece you need. Never the less, there still is a whole lot of refining that is necessary. Not to mention my testimony, and I wager to a senate hearing."


"There was something my father told me when I was just a little girl... and I think it applies now. I was barely 8 or 9 at the time and still fond of sailor suits. He told me that one day I would be dragged into a far different world than my little library that I would hide in when the storms would rock our yacht. It would be far scarier. Painful. Even violent. And I wouldn't be able to hide from it or have any life vest to help me."


"But as I am now, I am in desperate need of improvement. You help me "be all I can be" to forgive the cliche, and I know full well I can be of benefit. I'm a Scientist, but I feel the world needs something far more than that out of me."


"I'll help with whatever you need from me, and I will do whatever it takes to hold my end of the bargain."


She then looked to the director with a quizzical look. "And one thing I need... your doctors were acting strangely around me... like I had something like something was up. Something happened there that you're not completely telling me, or there was something you found post-incident that happened to me? Is it some sort of injury or contamination I should know about?"


She was hanging on to her cool, but that thought in her head started to push her calm. "If we're gonna have this working relationship, I think I deserve to know what's been found."

Edited by Sailor
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Snorting in faint amusement, Powers seated himself, indicating with a gesture he wanted Sakurako to do the same. "Tone it down a notch, Hino. I used to be that way myself, finding a way to make myself the center of the universe by being the biggest screw-up in need of redemption. Doesn't do any good, no matter how humble it sounds. Let's split it 50/50."


His face grew more solemn "As for...well, there's no easy way to say this, Hino."


There was a short pause.


"Well, it was worth a shot. You're not...entirely human." He raised his hands forestallingly "Nothing bad or dangerous, but your genetics, your inner chemistry, it isn't quite on-level with human variations."


"I'm sorry you had to find out like this." He looked earnestly at Sakurako "You're part alien."


And then the other voice said, crystal clear 


"Got you, sis"


And with a *klk* the room plunged into darkness.

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What he said hit like a brick... her brain tried to suss it out... maybe her genetically engineered state was something that would cause a false positive. Perhaps it was some sort of glitch...


She put an index finger up... "You know, maybe..."


"Got you, sis"


Her eyes widened as she instinctively closes her helmet. "If you have a sidearm, Director... you're gonna need it. There's about to be a family reunion... with the black sheep of my family."


She gulped, but then readied herself. "If you know of a metahuman criminal by the name of Hardwire... she's here. And I need a weapon. I think things are about to get real."


"No, I'm not gonna kill her... but you'd be surprised what I can do with what I have on hand."

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Powers' face reilluminated in the flame of a lighter, his one eye burning to put the feeble thing to shame. 


"I'm alright with following a super's lead here. Not my forte." Like a ghost he slid to the door, capping the lighter as he eased the cedar slab open to glance outside. "Clear, one second." Taking a slim radio from his belt Powers barked "All squads! Defence form Theta! Hasdrubaal only, Hectors standby!" There was no reply, a fact Powers looked a little shaken by. Launching out into the hallways, lit only by dim orange emergency lights, he signaled impatiently for the young heroine to follow him "Armory, this way"


"So I only know a little about this 'Hardwire'. She's got a lot of genetic defects and that's apparently led to some ugly choices to stay alive. She's a science villain of some kind, but that's all we've learned, the 'why' is pretty opaque." Powers glanced at Endeavor as they slipped down a flight of stairs, chaotic shouts and blaring noise echoing from somewhere "Nice to know more. Never seemed to use the same stuff twice."


The armory was on the Iceberg's second floor, which gave plenty of time for explanations.

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Endeavor nodded as the two started to take the side-route. "Your intel is a bit behind. It seems the last encounter I had with Hardwire she had actually managed to get enough genetic material off of me to stabilize her genes. Seems she had some high-grade help from Doc Otaku. Although it seems she might have a debt to pay in the process. Although I wager it's more working as a mercenary for hire, using a combination of her surprising talent as a hacker with her ability to control electricity. She's less an inventor like me, more of someone who uses the stuff she heists or gets given as part of her payment to up what she can do on one of her jobs."


As they went further Sakurako grinned. "She's all about upgrades... Unfortunately her cunning is probably why you don't have a full profile yet. She doesn't do the same thing twice logically to surprise. To be honest some of my assumptions are guesstimates myself, putting myself in her shoes. She's as smart as I am, perhaps... and I hope to God it isn't true... she's smarter."


The thought of the Director's words started to set in. "Alien DNA? Sure that wasn't an anomaly caused by the circumstances of my birth? I know some genetic patching was required for the process that created me to work. It was pretty much trying to create an artificial egg and sperm in order to start the process of conception inside an artificial womb machine."


"Had my parents been here while I was recovering from my injuries? Do they know? Did they say anything?"

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"I only know what the kids tell me, Endeavor, and if they say you're part alien I'm not trying on Miss A's shiny boots to tell them wrong." Leaping off the second-to-last landing, Powers tucked and rolled into a springing leap before the door exiting into the level they needed.


The emergency light was disconcertingly unlit, and the hallway was dark. Horatio frowned briefly in the light of his flashlight(taken belatedly off of his belt), but went in and beckoned Endeavor to follow. Elsewhere, there was commotion, running feet. But the previously teeming hallways were bafflingly empty. It was as if the agents had just gone offstage.


There was a prickling on the back of Sakurako's neck, and Hannah's voice whispered "Sit tight. I'll be there soon."


"Dr. Volk will be in the armory, she was testing something new," arriving without incident at the room duly indicated to be so, Powers reached beside the unresponsive electronic door and with a grunt of effort tugged something free "she'll-whoa! Friend! Powers Rho Quatro Gamma Treis!" with that startled cry and throwing his hands into the air, Powers froze before a short, disheveled woman aiming a gun slender as a finger at him.


Snorting, the lab-coated woman nodded and signaled for the two to come in, peering only briefly at Endeavor with curious amusement. "Shut the door, kid. And take a look around." 


"Endeavour, Dr. Volk, Volk, Endeavour, she knows our enemy. Family in fact." Powers summarized drily, to the woman's taciturn nod.


A switch clicked and the lights came on. It was like being in a well-stocked warehouse of death and incredible genius come together. Suits of powered armor, the famous MAX and SUPER-MAX harnesses, were only the largest pieces of equipment visible. Otherwise the racks of sophisticated firearms and other, less destructive gear dominated. There was enough to bury the three without a trace.


"So" she was out of shape and shorter even than the younger woman, but AEGIS' Archthinker somehow looked completely in command "What do we need?"

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"Grenade launcher, automatic load preferably, with some form of knock-out gas, a gas masks for yourself and the director..." Sakurako's bubble-helmet reconfigures around her head in a more re-enforced manner, as a hexagonal grid lights up on it's skin, then hissing to life her suit vented for a moment from the valves scattered throughout her suit as the life support activated. "...and I will need coiled wire, a high-yield capacitor: Something the size of a folding cell-phone folded up, a copper rod, and a mini-welder."


"If Hardwire can still use her more blatant neuro-hacking, this will backlash on her... pretty much toss it at her feet and cause a feedback loop. If her powers are electromagnetically based, this will ground her... then again it might just set off an EMP from the feedback too... no real time to test out the full effect, but if there is any way to at least shut her down for one key moment, the better."


She gritted her teeth at the next request she was about to make. "And a sidearm. Pistol. Something on the level of a .45 or higher. If she's raiding this place she does have body armor. That will have to be gotten around..."


She looked about seeing the MAX armors. "...and I think we will have to work quickly as I think this is her target!"

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Dr. Volk nodded, following Endeavor easily enough, while Director Powers busied himself with collecting what they needed.


Dumping the eclectic assortment onto a clear table and getting the gear attached and ready for use, Horatio asked dubiously "I don't suppose it'd do much good to get into a MAX suit ourselves? Just make us easier targets for her?" For all that, he glanced longingly at the implacable armors.


"Entirely useless. And too easy to track." Volk shrugged, handing over the small components Sakurako asked for out of her well-stuffed pockets.


Powers sighed, sliding a pistol and ammunition down the table to Endeavor "Oh well. Would be nice if we could use them once when the 'Berg is under attack."


Getting ready seemed to take an eternity of fumbling and sorting. But in minutes the trio wrre ready.


And none too soon.


"Sorry, got held up. But don't worry, none of them stood a chance."


"And you won't either."


The door slowly, begrudgingly, began to open on its own.




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Sakurako completed her work as she Stepped up in front of the two AEGIS agents. At this point the distraction of having her actually well within reach could buy the agents some time to apprehend her... then again what were Hardwire's combat capabilities now? She was so far behind...


"Wait... I'm not intending to leave though.. just defend!" Sakurako said, hastily looking over the lighter MAX suit. "Looks like I can wear this over my suit... how do I boot this thing up and get in?" She said, trying to suss over how to step into the exoskeleton.

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  • 1 month later...



"Boot-up code is on the inside of the helmet, weapon unlock is 'AEGIS defend'" Powers muttered, shouldering into cover behind an imposing barricade of armored boots "Been like that since the 90's, really gotta update that one of these days."


"If only you had a bright young mind to help lighen the workload, Harry?"


"Safety's on, Doctor."


"...Damn it, I actually looked. Next time, Powers, next time I'll-"


Then the door shimmered and a floating hedron passed through.


It was about a foot from tip to...other tip. Dark as obsidian and with some kind of power flow crawling across the surface. A power flow that snapped into a squared cone of light that flashed across the armory. Methodically, visibly separating the room into quadrants, the hedron began to search the armory.


Hardwire's voice called, muffled by the metal barrier


"Hey sis! Sorry it took me so long! But I got you a present: an Eye-dron! Moment it sees you, it zaps! With needle-beams, like in Lensman. And anyone else it sees, really. Besides me. I'm not crazy, I'm not the kind of gal who makes her robots able to attack her. I learned from our parents, you know, like that old saying?


"'children learn from what the parent does, not what the parent says'.


"And Mom and Dad never missed a chance to show what they thought about some useless genetic failure like me. Not you though. You got alien DNA. 'Cause special.


"So enjoy your special, extremely brutal death. Just for you! And anyone trying to help you! Guess that waters it down. Thematically, I think that's-"


The manic chatter didn't conclude. It just stopped. All throughout Doris and Horatio had gone from edgy but confident to increasingly, visibly worried.


And the Eye-dron searched on, each facet emitting a harsh beam that panned to inspect every surface. That part was harmless, at least.

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Sakurako's face was barely lit by a single cursor on the visor of her suit. She opened her eyes realizing this day just went from bad... to ugly.


"Commence operations... One Four Zero Zero Pound Vermillion Gamma Rose Nine Four Pi..." She paused for a moment realizing her Sister's intent. "AEGIS DEFEND."


The screen comes on, lighting her face. "Failure? How could you call that a failure? You do realize our parents were using tech from Doc Otaku they impounded, right? That sort of stuff doesn't come with a user's manual. They were trying to make someone of whole cloth from their own DNA." She said, crossing her arms. "They did everything that they could... You and I were their best shots... By the way... that little extraction of DNA you got off of me when you used that big robotic crab... yeah you got a good dose of that alien DNA and quite honestly I don't know what sort."


She looks around, getting an appraisal of the situation. "Mom and Dad thought you honestly were dead... they left you at a home that could have took care of you and at you could have lived with dignity... what happened that went so wrong?"


"Thing is we're more alike now than ever... but that's beside the point... what's brought you here anyways? This damned rivalry? What? You could at least tell me that before you attempt to kill everyone in here. I doubt you knew about me being here before you started ripping things up."


"Talk to me Hannah..."

Edited by Sailor
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"Well since this is all the conversation I'm getting for the next month or so, sure."


The Eye-dron slid with iron grace around the Armory, the facets' rays humming as they passed mere inches from Sakurako and the others.


"So let's start with the home. What do you think it was like, growing up and slowly figuring out that you weren't wanted, that the reason you were even alive was other people not wanting to think about you? By the time I left, the nurses they'd hired didn't want to think about me either.


"And even better, I had someone in my life I didn't want to think about. But every time I tried to find anything about my family I had to read her name and see her face. The little wünderkind with candy hair. Living the life I couldn't have no matter what.


Very suddenly the Eye-dron swerved, then slowed. It began creeping closer and closer to where Endeavour was partly-hidden, its sweeps faster and tighter.


"So no Saku, I didn't come here for you. But after reading these drooling creeps' files I now know why you're so special. It's the same reason I am. Or could be. So now I have a real simple super-genius plan: kill you and use what's left to fix what's wrong with me.


"I don't know if I'm dying or not, but I know you aren't. Besides, Ghostworks will give a lot for a meta's corpse. They're paying me enough just for a simple smash-grab they could have hired out to Larceny Inc, might as well get a bonus. But don't worry, this is all for science."

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  • 4 months later...

Sakurako measured up her options... a fight here would be disastrous, considering that AEGIS was yet to mount a response. And here she was in a milspec combat suit about to consider engaging that she had zero training in. "And you also know I'm a genius... I can fix you without all this mayhem..."


"This damnable rivalry of ours is starting to draw other people into it... it doesn't take a genius that right now I'm offering you a way out of this. To give you a life..."


She sighed. "I've don't got any family outside of my parents... I'd like to know the sister I've never known didn't get herself killed because she was tilted out of her mind."


"No one cared about you... let someone start." She started to sweep the area with the reticle on her suit... preparing for a war she might not win. Keenly aware of what could happen in the next six seconds... "It's up to us, I've made my decision."

Edited by Sailor
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  • 3 weeks later...



Silence stepped in after Endeavor's final words. Silence and immobility, as the hedron paused in mid-air and its sweeping 'eye' stopped inches from Powers' foot.


The dull thrumming of the armory's fluorescent lights took over, even Sakurako's own breathing sounding like the labouring of a bellows.


A brusque clopping, clicking noise began to sound against the door. Hardwire drumming her nails on the barrier.


Dr. Volk caught Endeavor's eye, darting her own back and forth at the door, the implicit question hanging in the air long before she mouthed "Is this working?" With the Eye-dron still, but still activated, it was impossible to tell if Hardwire was earnestly or mockingly considering the figurative olive branch that had just been extended. She hadn't seemed too interested before, but that was then, before she knew about the common tie beyond blood that set the women apart from the greater number of humanity.


The rattling accelerated, a staccato like dancing spider legs.


On the other hand, she didn't have forever. By the sound of it she was on the clock and her vendetta was cutting into an already tight schedule. Besides which, someone who saw the notorious Dr. Otaku as a viable business partner wouldn't have much of an eye for scruples, to say nothing of Hardwire's open admission of working for the mysterious Ghostworks. The secretive cabal of super-scientists had shown precious little regard for scientific ethics or even those relating to human life. Could be that Hardwire and they had something more than just a mutual love of money.


The tapping stopped, Sakurako felt the passage of some powerful EM signal, and the Eye-dron darted back through the door from whence it came, passing through like a pyramidal ghost. 


"Fine. I'll meet you where Dad took Mom fishing back in 2005. Got a job to do. Later, 'Rako."


More silence happened, infringed with the growing noise of AEGIS rallying outside. Director Powers slid the safety back on, getting slowly to his feet and suppressing a wince, rubbing a calf with his free hand. "Goddamn cramps...Endeavor, thanks for that. Now that she's back on the run, it'll be easier to head her off. Know any way we can track her?"


"Now hold on, Harry!" Dr. Volk struggled back to her feet, hampered by the clumsy armor, her face red and plastered with damp hair as she pulled off the helmet and squinted fiercely at her Director.


"Ms. Hino just got Hardwire to back off with a good-faith offer. If we chase her, we could make that progress evaporate."


"So? Doctor, Hardwire may be Endeavor's relative, but that doesn't exactly outweigh attacking and stealing from a secret government facility. She won't be expecting an attack from her, this is a chance we can't pass up."


"She could very well lead us to Ghostworks! Assist us in that program you want Ms. Hino in!"


"She can do that just as easily from behind bars." Horatio turned his remaining eye, coal-dark and cold, to Endeavor.


"Your thoughts? We're losing time."

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Sakurako opened the visor to her borrowed MAX armor. "This is a trap. She knows I've been a sucker." She looked to Horatio. "She also is not expecting you."


"What is the most valuable thing you guys got here? She's probably coming after that, all I did was take us off the agenda. She's after something bigger."


She then wrote on a piece of paper near her with a pen. "Here is the LAT/LON Coordinates, they're in the Atlantic... Fishing... 2005... I was 7 at the time... I still remember the silly life vest mom and dad made me wear... something of their design too... That's beside the point, I think that is where her client is waiting."


Her eyes widened. "We're gonna need a amphibious operation team. I think she has a ship off-shore. Knowing Ghostworks, possibly a sub. That should be expected."


"I wager she's pulling me there thinking I'm not a swimmer." She grinned. "Times change, and so have I."


"One thing... my usual suit... is it in working condition? If not I'll have to get used to this thing... and can it function out there? unless there's a nautical model I can borrow instead. I think it's safe to say it's gonna get smashed up."


"I'd prefer a capture, if it doesn't risk anyone. Otherwise whatever happens, as far as I'm concerned, happens. I can't just toss that promise away... with her behind bars I can start the healing process while having access to what she knows of Doc Otaku and of Ghostworks. I can start mending her hurt... And maybe have one less supervillain in the world."

Edited by Sailor
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