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File 137622200038.jpg - (178.26KB, 500x705, AE looms in the background.jpg) [iqdb]
Thread One: >>54922

Well, no use just lying around.

As Meiling continues teaching the mechs why it's folly to use guns against her martial arts, you grab the shock-rifle that so recently electrocuted you and pull yourself to your feet, your muscles burning and every breath hard to come by.

"Heads up!" Meiling calls as soon as you're upright, following her words up by kicking a mech your way. You pull back and give it a solid uppercut; your strike aided by both boosted strength and momentum, the hapless machine flies up and clear through one of the windows with a great crash. That dealt with, you sprint into the thick of things. Bullets and electricity both fly your way, but some evasive maneuvering lets you avoid the worst of it.

Meiling sweeps one mech's leg out before dropping a vicious elbow that caves its chest in. Another mech moves to crack her skull, but you interrupt it with an accurate arc of electricity, stunning it long enough for the redhead to spring back to her feet and straight-up tear the stunned bot's head from its shoulders. "Does this happen often when you're around?"

"More than you'd think." You reply, pouring enough volts into a different mech to fry it completely. "So, got any plans after this?

"Like-" Ooh, that's an arm she just ripped off. "What?"

Your fist terminally interrupts a crafty bot taking aim at the redhead. "I was thinking maybe we could get lunch at town?"

Meiling punches clean through the second-to-last one, first with one arm, then the other; with both arms firmly inside, she rips the thing's torso clean in half. "Is now really the best time to be asking me this?"

"Perhaps not." You admit, shrugging off the last machine's desperate bullets as you blitz ahead and crush it to the floor with a great hammer blow.

The room is quiet now, save for the noise of tortured electronics screeching and, eventually, falling silent. You check over your new gun as Meiling wipes her hands free of robot viscera.

Your weapon looks like a crude knockoff of your Arc Thrower, yet you know from experience it's anything but. Still, had your armor been in better shape, you're sure you could have powered through the shock the first mech on the scene gave you.

"So," You say. "Is now a good time?"

That gets a small smile from Meiling. "You do know that the middle of combat is a terrible place to try and make your move, right?"

You shrug. "After that thing at the library, I figured anything goes."

Meiling shuts her eyes and raises a lone finger. "Nah, see, what I did was for a tactical advantage. Anything that disorients your enemy is a good thing!"

"And yet you don't see me running around smothering anyone I can get my lips on." You say. "If I'm that close, I can just headbutt them."

She stares at you, eyes half-lidded and brows risen up into her disheveled hair. "You are the first man I've ever heard of who has complained over being kissed by a pretty girl."

"Who said I was complaining?" You say, eliciting a smirk in response.

Honestly, now that you've got a moment where the two of you aren't busy trying to kill each other, it's nice to be able to appreciate the woman standing ahead.

That scarlet hair, with a pair of braids hanging down the front. The green cap with a star on the front, Chinese letters emblazoned upon it. Her eyes, brilliantly blue, twinkling in wry amusement. Her smile, warm yet sharp. Her green dress, torn from bullets and frayed by electricity, its sides open to expose legs that can crush steel.

It's a damn shame she wears pants.

Meiling's smirk widens. "I can't even see your face, and I can still tell you're staring."

You sigh heavily. "It should be a crime for you to cover up those legs."

She looks down, checks herself out, and glances back up at you. "Unless you feel like taking these pants off, officer, I think I'll hold onto them."

Before you can reply, all the windows in the room crash open as one, sending more glass flying as another wave of bots soar through the windows, trailing exhaust from jetpacks before they touch down. Their weapons rise up as one, right before Meiling rushes into the thick of it and rips a mech's arms off.

"More of them? Really?" She asks, venting her exasperation by bludgeoning the rest of the squad with the first bot's limbs. "Really?"

"Really!" You agree. Bullets and lightning both fly at you, more the latter than the former, as you charge ahead. One quick boost to the legs later, and you jump.

You fly a good twenty feet overhead, sight in on the densest squad, and pull the trigger. Thousands of volts shoot out from your looted weapon, bee-lining for the nearest mech and arcing out on contact to the machines surrounding it. As the machines overload, you land with a mighty crash on another mech, your bodyslam crushing it into so much useless scrap.

You see Meiling out of the corner of your eye, the redhead having a hell of a time tearing another squad to bits. You turn on the recovering squad you just stunned, and blitz into close quarters. You plunge your fist into the first one's torso, fry the second even as you rip out the first's control chip and crush it, and whistle as electricity arcs through the whole squad.

They all collapse as one.

And then, once more, a great surge of electricity flows through you, the volts arcing into you from behind. Your back armor, still in good condition, absorbs the majority of the shock, leaving you feeling little more than a nasty zap as you spin around and return fire at the mech responsible. It seizes up once hit and collapses, twitching as electricity keeps arcing out from it.

A strangled shout of pain jerks your attention to Meiling, rooted in place by a pair of mechs pouring lightning on her. She'd taken out the rest of the squad, but more are already rushing in to lend their guns. You're already bounding towards them when she drops, and you suddenly find a large number of guns pointed your way.

You don't have enough time to get out of the way, so you open fire as a last insult.

They do the same.

When you got shocked the first time, that was just one that dropped you. With the dozen mechs keeping the voltage flowing into you, it's amazing you don't pass out on the spot. You fall once again, twitching helplessly as they relentlessly taze you.

It hurts.

A large flying chunk of rubble bowls into the enemy, turning a majority of them into scrap.


Remilia's up.

The vampire's eyes are narrowed into needle-thin slits as she stalks ahead, blood pouring freely from a multitude of wounds, soaking her ruined dress crimson.

Then she charges.

Meiling was fast.

Remilia is faster.

She darts from machine to machine, ripping out vital parts quickly enough that, by the time the unlucky mech starts to fall, she's already disemboweling the next. Several arcs of electricity surge through her, but the vampire shrugs it off without losing a beat. The machines responsible quickly suffer a painful-looking death.

As you lie on the ground, mostly fried, the sound of metal being utterly destroyed keeps ringing out through the room. It goes on for a solid minute before the noise eventually ceases.


Everything hurts.

You claw your way up to your knees anyway, breathing heavily.

Remilia's kneeling over Meiling now, hands aglow with energy. Her eyes are shut in concentration as red magic flows into the fallen woman. Whatever she's doing ceases once you're on your feet.

"Meiling?" She asks, reaching to shake the redhead's shoulder. "Time to get back up!"

Meiling mumbles something incoherent in reply before Remilia effortlessly hoists the wobbly gatekeeper into sitting upright.

"Feeling better?" Remilia asks, giving the woman a companionable pat on the arm.

"Ugh." Meiling responds, laying back down and covering her face.

"Suppose you need a moment." Remilia wryly admits, leaving Meiling to work out her own problems. The shadow you cast over the two causes the vampire to look up, curiosity evident on her bloodstained face.

"And what about you?" She asks, tilting her head slightly.

"I feel exactly how you look." You say.

Remilia chuckles precisely once, before sitting down and drawing her knees up against her chest. You grunt in response and sit opposite her, resting your arm on a propped knee.

"You know this lot?" She asks, indicating the scrapheap surrounding you.

"Recognize them from back home." You say. "No friends of mine, though."

"I figured as much." Remilia removes her wrecked cap and runs a hand through her hair. "They looked far too shoddy compared to you, at any rate."

You glance towards Meiling, the redhead muttering something incomprehensible underneath her breath.

"Never figured you for the healing type." You say, looking back at Remilia.

Her smile is a weary one. "I may not be the best around, but you'd better believe I've picked a few things up over the years. Enough to get someone kicking again, if need be."

"Huh." You say. "Thanks for the assist."

"I just really wanted to kill something." She admits. "These machines were as good as any."

You both stay quiet for a few moments.

"So." You begin. "We still enemies?"

Remilia snorts, a flash of amusement dancing across her eyes. "Way I see it, we can deal with each other once we've gotten rid of all these metal bastards. Sound good?"

"Sounds good." You concur.

Meiling jolts back up, giving you both quite a start.

"I hate robots so much." She says, deadly serious. "So much."

"I think we all do right now." Remilia says. Her features harden. "What are their numbers outside?"

"In a word? Shitloads."

Remilia's composure falters, a smile crashing through her defenses and firmly entrenching itself. "Blunt as always."

"It's why I'm here." Meiling proudly says. "Anyway, they've got multiple aircraft like the one you sent crashing into the lake. Dedicated troop transports, it seems like. I've taken a few down myself, but they've got a lot of them."

"Speaking of which, I don't think they're here to kill us." You say, jarring the duo from their conversation. You wave a hand at the scrapheap. "Too many stunners, not enough proper rifles. They're looking to capture."

"I could have told you that." Meiling says, a touch bitter. "The maids are putting up a damn good fight, but being able to respawn doesn't help when your enemy just knocks you out and drags you off."

"Well, that won't do." Remilia says, a touch dangerously. "How is everyone holding up out there?"

Meiling grunts, eyes closed in thought. "There's been some heavy action outside the mansion. We've been holding them back, but Sakuya and I can't be everywhere at once. Our numbers are shrinking, and they keep shelling us from a distance."

An explosion rings out from fairly close by.

"Like so." She adds.

"What about Flandre?" Remilia pointedly asks.

Meiling raises a placating hand. "She's been having a hell of a time tearing things up, I'll tell you what. She really wanted to get into it, but I managed to convince her to hang back and send her clones out instead."

"That's... actually pretty good." Remilia says, lightening up. She gives you a knowing look. "I'd ask about Patchy, but-"

"I may have broken her wrist and electrocuted her, yes." You say, unabashed.

"What." Meiling blankly says.

"Now that we've got that figured out, I'm wondering how they got past the border." Remilia says, ignoring the gatekeeper entirely. "You'd think someone would have noticed an army of machine men."

"That's assuming this is the first time they've breached." You say. "If they came in small enough groups, packing materials... Well, it'd certainly be easier than sending an entire army at once."

"Which seems to be what we're facing." Meiling says, having overcome her surprise at Patchouli's status. "Gods above, the buildup for this must have taken months, at least."

You nod. "To get everything running so discreetly that no one noticed? Sounds about right." You lean back, thinking. "Now, if I'm going to be any help, I need to know how many people you've got at your disposal. Alongside that, it'd be great if you had a map of the mansion proper.

"We live here." Remilia blandly says. "Why would we have maps?"

"The library had-" You start, before Meiling chops a hand through the air.

"The library's freakin' huge." She says. "And Patchouli keeps getting it expanded. The situation's a bit different there."

"Still, I can at least give you some numbers." Remilia shuts her eyes in thought. "We've around, oh, three hundred fairies, I'd say?"

"Cut it to maybe half that if we're taking casualties into account." Meiling adds.

Remilia nods. "Tack fifty-ish hobgoblins onto that. They're crafty sorts, I'm sure we could get them to set up some traps."

"So, what are we going to do?" You ask. "Go on a full assault? Fall back somewhere defensible and fortify?"

"They keep coming." Meiling wearily says. "I'm confident I can take a lot of them out, but it only takes one slip-up and, well, you saw what happened."

"The basement is fairly large." Remilia thoughtfully says. "If need be, we could wait this out down there until reinforcements come."

"Assuming we can even make it there." You say. "After all, we've got an unknown number of enemies inside the mansion."

The two women fall quiet at that, but after a few moments they both begin staring at you.

"What?" You ask.

Remilia smirks. "If they could get this many troops past the border, I don't find it too hard to believe your people could do the same."

The room shakes as another explosion sounds off directly overhead.

"This is hardly the time to be stingy." Meiling adds.


[ ] Desperate times, right? Call in a full attack squad.

[ ] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.

[ ] You? Need backup? Hah.


Plan of action?

[ ] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.

[ ] Buckle down and fortify. You'll make them bleed for every inch.

[ ] Screw this, you're outta here the first chance you get.

[ ] [WRITE-IN]
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
-[x] Focus on that damn artillery
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.
-[x] Try to regroup with the big names around here and attack as one.
We call a fighter squad to take down those damn ships and to soften their troop's numbers and then push the advantage with an unified offensive.
As someone wise once said, the best defense is a good kick in the ass.
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.

Fortune favors the bold, right? Let's have some FUN.
[X] Desperate times, right? Call in a full attack squad.
[X] Buckle down and fortify. You'll make them bleed for every inch.

40K Terminators with assault cannons would be perfect for holding the basement. Too bad AE isn't from that timeline.
File 137626176760.jpg - (181.64KB, 936x640, BisonVega Yes.jpg) [iqdb]
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.

Decided to check out this story today and was instantly hooked (haven't been to /sdm/ since Being Meiling ended).

> "Unless you feel like taking these pants off, officer, I think I'll hold onto them."
picture related
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault

I don't mind the tactics on how we attack but the chaos will allow us to take advantage and capture Flandre before getting out. After a successful full defence, chaos is rare. If we defend then we may not get a good chance to get Flandre.

Also, the SDM has enough troops to destroy them. Although saving troops won't actually get us any plus points because the story won't actually continue past the SDM mission (probably) but will strike a balance between trying to go full hero (which may lead to defeat) and getting too much help (a 1 man army will make the company looks stronger).
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
-[x] Focus on that damn artillery
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.
-[x] Try to regroup with the big names around here and attack as one.
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.

I can't be the only one that had this come to mind.
[x] Nothing helps break a siege quite like air support.
-[x] Focus on that damn artillery
[x] If robots can dream, you're going to haunt their nightmares. It's time for a full assault.
-[x] Declare a contest. Highest number of personal robot kills wins.
File 137633865473.jpg - (38.80KB, 440x519, WAR.jpg) [iqdb]
Called! AE and crew will be going on the offensive!

>pic related
File 137841293024.jpg - (650.54KB, 1280x960, air superiority.jpg) [iqdb]

"You know, ladies, a man might feel pressured at being put on the spot like this." You say.

"I didn't hear a no." Remilia says, smirking lightly.

"That you didn't. Give me a moment, I'll see what I can wrangle up."

You walk away; technically, there's no reason you can't do this in front of them, but it's the principle of the thing. A quick tap against your ear gets you locked into your base's comm network.

"AE to base, you copy?" You say, and the line is quiet for a few seconds before it crackles to life.

"Copy." A man says, voice distorted by static. "Our scouts have confirmed sightings of mechanized Pirate forces. They giving you too much trouble?"

"I can handle the ground troops." You say. "It's their artillery that's the problem. I need it destroyed before a shell lands on my head."

A lone cheer is distantly heard on the other end; it seems you've made the pilot's day.

"We'll get our bird in the air." The operator says, stoically ignoring his colleague. "Got any other details for us?"

You glance back at the two women intently watching you. "Mansion forces are currently friendly, so try to limit collateral damage."

"I'll give the ladies a wave when I pass by!" The flyboy says.

"Ignore him." The operator says, no trace of rancor present. "Got anything else?"

"Nothing else. AE out." Another tap disengages comms, and you smack a fist into your palm as you turn back. "We are go for backup."

"So what are they sending our way?" Meiling asks, hopping up to her feet.

"I don't want to ruin the surprise." You say. "But he'll stick out compared to the ships already flying around out there. Don't shoot him down, all right?"

"As long as he doesn't shoot at us, he'll get no trouble." Remilia says, floating upright. "But on that note, I've a question!"

"You're going to ask no matter what I say, aren't you."

"Quite. You seemed surprised when I told you who was really attacking."

"I figured Command might have panicked when my vitals dropped." You say. "But now that I think about it, I'm not sure their reprisal would be so over-the-top."

"Good to know! And, Meiling?"

The redhead blinks. "Huh?"

Remilia smirks. "Now that I have been 'zapped', and multiple times at that, I have to say I'm unimpressed."

Meiling narrows her eyes. "Ya don't say."

"The implication is that you suck."

"So!" Meiling says, pointedly ignoring the teasing vampire. "I'm voting we go outside and turn their insides into outsides. Who's with me?" She raises a fist, and Remilia matches her gesture.

You motion towards yourself. "I'd love to go with you, ladies, but right now I'm critically underequipped. Is my equipment still back where I got knocked out?"

"I don't see why they wouldn't be." Meiling says. "That gonna be your first stop?"

"You know it." You say. "And, while I'm sure the three of us can put up a good fight, we could use any support you two can rally."

Remilia touches a hand to her lips as she looks look up in thought. "I probably could get Patchy ready to go if you led me to her."

"She'd probably try to flay me, so that's a bad idea."


The doors to the throne room are unceremoniously kicked open, and the three of you whirl to face the new intruder. The library's heavily-armored über-fairy strides through, axe clutched firmly in hand. She stops dead when she sees you.

"I, Meiling, Milady, what the hell," She stops, takes a deep breath, and tries again. "Milady Scarlet, why is that man here?"

"I've been recruited." You say.

"It's true." Remilia says, grinning widely at the gobsmacked girl's reaction.

"Seems like you've been doing good work, huh?" Meiling says, peering closely at the fairy's chipped and oil-stained armor.

"Mechanical monstrosities cannot stop me." The fairy says, a smile flashing across her lips and disappearing just as quickly once she glances at you. "Nor mere broken jaws, even if they are incredibly painful."

"We were enemies." You say, shrugging once. She merely glares at you.

Remilia raises a brow. "You're that fairy Patchouli's been messing with, then?"

The fairy snaps to attention, firmly ignoring you. "Yes, Mistress. Captain Karin, at your service."

"Right." You say. "Glad to have you."

"I'm not doing this for you." She says, and you decide to not press your luck.

Meiling clears her throat. "Anyway, we're going on a major push, and we could use all the help we can get. You know where Sakuya is?"

The aforementioned maid flashes into existence in front of you, dress torn but the woman herself in fine shape. She pays you no heed as she curtsies for Remilia. "Apologies for not coming sooner, Mistress. I was delayed."

Remilia claps her hands together, grinning brightly despite Sakuya's state. "Excellent timing! What gave you the idea to check here?"

Sakuya tilts her head. "Besides the explosions in your throne room and Meiling charging in, you mean?"

"Suppose those would draw some attention." You say. "Anyway, good to have you with us."

The ice-cool look she gives you leaves no doubt as to her feelings. "If you take any actions against us, I will stab you directly in the spine."

"Yeah okay that's great." Meiling says. "But I gotta remind everyone that there's this invading army on our doorstep. Let's go beat seven kinds of shit out of them instead of threatening the new guy."

"When you put it like that, I wonder why we're not already doing it." Remilia dryly says.

Sakuya nods, expression impassive. "Let's be off, then."

Karin raises her axe in salute. "Aye!"

After retrieving your equipment, sans bombs (Remilia's exact reasoning was along the lines of 'Any situation that calls for those is one I can handle'), you and yours study the invading forces from atop a convienently placed balcony. Your binoculars prove valuable for scanning the field.

"You really weren't joking." Remilia says, eyes wide, as she studies the entire army swarming around the mansion.

Meiling nods, her expression grim. "When I said there were shitloads, I meant it."

"Not for lack of effort on our ends, mind." Sakuya says.

A trio of dropships fly back and forth across the lake, supplementing the already sizable mechanical horde with every pass. A fourth, markedly larger than the rest, lies at rest at the outskirts of the battle, its main compartment open. So many mechanical figures scurry around on the ground that you can't get a solid number, the army of machines stomping over their fallen comrades and trading fire with scattered remnants of the fairy guard; the girls put up a valiant defense, but there's only so much they can do against such overwhelming numbers. One overly-couragous fairy over-extends herself, and goes down in a storm of electricity. The machines pour more fire on her comrades even as one machine hauls the girl up and sprints for the waiting dropship.

A pair of loud BOOMS sound off from the nearby forest, and while you don't see the artillery shells fly you do see them smash against the mansion, the whole building shaking as masonry goes flying; the machines split up to take advantage of the new entryways.

"So do we have a plan, or are we just charging in screaming?" Karin asks. "I'm all for either approach, just so you all know."

Meiling smirks. "The latter."


"You said Flandre was on the prowl?" You ask, unable to find the excitable blonde anywhere on the field.

"I'm quite certain her clones were forced back." Sakuya says. "Blame the sun."

You're about to respond when movement above the forest catches your eye, and you zoom in on the new aircraft through your binoculars. In direct contrast to the ramshackle dropships on the field, this new gunship is a sleek chrome-varnished machine. A multi-barreled cannon unfolds from the weapons compartment beneath the craft, followed by a pair of missile racks lowering from the wing compartments. "And now we get a demonstration of a Valkyrie's attack capabilities." You say, pointing the ship out.

"Oh?" Remilia says, latching onto the ship immediately. Further conversation is silenced as the craft swoops low, racing mere feet above the treetops in its search for the artillery. Missiles fly once it finds its prey, and you hear the resulting explosions a moment later.

Targets presumably destroyed, the gunship turns towards the mansion.

Meiling leans over the railing, a hand above her eyes. "Is it supposed to be coming our way?"

"Our pilot hasn't had many chances to blow things up as of late." You say. "We may want to take cover."

The ground troops turn their fire on the Valkyrie the moment it's in range, dozens of the machines flying up to get better shots. The gunship smashes through their storm of bullets and lightning, paying them back with missiles that engulf dozens at a time, cannon shells tearing any survivors to sparking pieces.

The dropships open fire, their shots smashing into the Valkyrie and ripping thick chunks of plating out with every hit. The gunship dips and swivels, returning shot for shot, and one dropship's engine explodes as a burst of shells hit just right; the aircraft lurches sideways and dovetails into a death-spin, crashing amidst a cluster of mechs with a great screeching of metal. The remaining pair start dodging with grace unbecoming the behemoths, and the Valkyrie matches them move for move as they trade fire.

Morale bolstered by this sudden display of aerial might, the fairies surge forth in a great shouting mass.

"Whoever has the highest killcount when this is all over wins." You say.

"BLOOD AND THUNDER!" Karin shouts, vaulting over the railing.

"What she said!" Meiling says, grinning brightly as she jumps into the fray.

Sakuya shimmers away, leaving you and Remilia to share a look.

"Ladies first." You say, and she rolls her eyes.

"It's supposed to be the men who sally forth into deadly combat." She says, and then she swoops into the field.

You hop over the rail and land in front of the enemy force, rifle raised; everyone else in your group is already hard at work dismantling anything that made the mistake of being born mechanical. Your shots drill holes in heads with every burst, snapping from target to target the moment the previous one falls. Sakuya flits around the field, leaving decapitated machines in her wake, Meiling is a whirlwind of limb-ripping, robot-punching death, Remilia skewers machines with practised expertise, and even the small horde of fairies brawl with manic glee, paying you no heed in favor of smashing up the mechs.

You settle into the flow of combat quickly. There's something oddly rhythmetic about fighting a massive number of enemies like this. You shoot, run, duck, punch, shoot some more, never pausing to really think for even a second, because the moment you start getting philosophical on the battlefield is the moment your enemy shoots you in the face.

One of the dropships above bursts into pieces mid-flight, shredded by the Valkyrie's constant cannon fire. As its wreckage falls, the other ship lands a series of hits that punch holes clear through the side of the gunship. Smoke lazily rises from the new cavities, and as the gunship jerkily flies upwards your comms crackle to life.

The pilot's breath is ragged. "Heavy damage sustained! I gotta go!"

With the Valkyrie on its way out, you fire a few shots at the remaining dropship to get its attention; the craft swivels on you, its cannon spewing rounds across the landscape. You fire another burst as you run, high-caliber shells exploding around you and sending clods of dirt flying up; you're certain that a single hit would turn you into giblets.

At least your party's orgy of violence has thinned out the enemy's ground troops, leaving you relatively unmolested by the mechs. You skid to a stop as the shells start pounding the ground in front of you, curse the gunner for finally having the brains to start leading its target, and turn to retreat. You catch sight of Meiling ripping a mech's legs off, and an idea hits you with the force of a freight train.

"Meiling!" You shout as you run her way, all too aware of the deadly shots landing behind you. "The ship! Boost me!"

The look on her face is amazingly incredulous. "What?"

"Boost me!"

Comprehension washes over her just as you leap, and she catches you, spins, and pitches you at the aircraft as smoothly as if she'd rehearsed it. You hurtle towards the dropship, its shots whistling through the air around you, and just as you're about to reach it, the craft rises. You smash into the front plating hard enough to make your head spin, and as you tumble down you desperately reach for any handhold you can find. You catch one at the last moment, fingers digging into the last inch of metal between you and a swift, painful fall to hard earth.

After you grow tired of dangling by the metaphorical thread, you sling your rifle over your shoulder and start the painstaking climb upwards.

In any case, you had a plan in mind when you got thrown up here.

[ ] These engines look important! It's a shame you're so clumsy around sensitive machinery.

[ ] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!

[ ] One wonders where they keep pulling all these troops from; you're sure no one will mind if you hitch a ride and find out.

[ ] [WRITE-IN]
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!

We are not stealing this vessel, we are commandeering it. There's a difference.
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!

...Yeah, I'm sold already.
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!

I'm not sure if it's just me getting my fix or not but I'm pretty sure I've grown to like this story and your presentation of the SDM crew more and more with pretty much each update.
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!
[x] One wonders where they keep pulling all these troops from; you're sure no one will mind if you hitch a ride and find out.
Work smarter, not harder.
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year!

"Now I have a machine gundropship. Ho ho ho."
[x] You've always wanted your very own dropship, and Santa's come early this year! Ho, ho, ho!
That's a pretty clear showing! Called!


Aww, stop, you're makin' me blush.


That was precisely what I had in mind.
Since we're going to have Christmas come early this year, try not to stall until Christmas actually comes, okay?
December 23rd here we come!
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Your impromptu ride returns to its behavior prior to your Valkyrie's appearance, giving support to the ground mechs with cannon fire. The prisoner dropship rises, evidently spooked by how the tide of battle has shifted, and takes off across the lake.

As you climb, you rapidly discover that the design of the craft is really not amenable to random people trying to hitch rides, forcing you to punch holes in the side and use those to ascend. You're halfway up when a mech decides to pop its head over the top to investigate, and its eyes burn red as it fires down at you, bullets flying past as you press tightly up against the ship. Several shots ricochet off your helmet and shoulders, only serving to make you to shrink closer to cover. As soon as the mech pauses to reload, you lean out, unsling your rifle, and pop off some return fire; the machine's head explodes in a shower of machinery, and it tumbles over the ledge. You press back up against the ship just in time to avoid the whole mech crashing into you and taking you down with it.

You haul yourself onto solid footing without further incident. An open hatch lies in the center of the ship's roof, and you hop in after a quick check inside reveals nothing lying in wait. You land in the midst of a sizable intersection, four corridors twisting out in the cardinal directions. Since you're aiming for the cockpit, you take an educated guess as to which path leads to the front of the ship and hurry down it. The corridor twists with little reason to its movements, unless its purpose was to confuse any would-be boarders like yourself. You hug the walls as you advance, ears straining past the ship's constant creaking for the sound of any mechs.

The moment you round the next corner is the moment a burst of high-impact shells shatter across your chest with the force of a speeding truck, sending you stumbling back against the wall. The turret responsible is attached to the ceiling at the end of the hallway, and it relentlessly spits fire your way until you hit it with a sustained burst of lead that blows the machinery apart into so much scrap. You wince as you press on, already feeling the new welts swelling up and being welcomed by their many comrades, and silently curse Meiling for wrecking your front plating so thoroughly.

You're a fair deal more cautious in peeking around the next turn, but only see a hatch blocking your way. You wrench it out of the way with a loud CLANG, and six sets of electric eyes turn towards you as one.

Well, looks like you found the spot their troops drop out from!

You slam the hatch shut just in time to block the barrage of bullets and electricity, and press your back up against it as the mechs slam up against the door. The hatch shakes and thumps, and after a moment you lurch forward and beat it down the corridor. After you round the first corner, you spin around and wait in ambush. Their metal feet pound after you, and the first one to make it past the bend gets its head shorn off by a burst of gunfire. The second meets the same fate, but the third is craftier than its brethren, opting to blind-fire around the corner; multiple shots connect, stinging like furious bees as they smash against your weakened armor.

You lob an incendiary grenade down the corridor as you retreat, and it rebounds off the wall and around the corner. More bullets fly as you make another turn, and the sound of burning machinery follows you. You wait for any further footsteps, but after a short while without any activity you cautiously investigate. You're ready to fire the moment you make the turn, but there's no need; the mechs lie in a pile of charred scrap, the grenade having caught them in one tightly-knit group. Satisfied, you double back.

Once back at the ship's main intersection, you cautiously head down one of the other unexplored corridors. Another turret nearly catches you on the next turn, but this time you're ready and take it out before it has a chance to fire.

The passage soon terminates in another hatch, and once again you wrench it aside; the cockpit itself lies in wait, your only opposition a lone mech seated at the controls. The machine spins around in its chair, pistol in hand, before you grab it by the neck and rip its head clean off. Dangling wires spark as you toss the grinning skull aside and pull the mech out of the seat, which you promptly take for yourself.

It's at this point you realize you have no idea what the hell you're doing. You've put time in the flight sims back at base, of course, but your aircraft are comparatively user-friendly in comparison to this Frankensteinian abomination of a control panel. So many displays and levers and switches demand your attention that you're filled with the urge to throttle whoever decided this design was acceptable.

At least you've got a clear three-hundred-and-sixty degrees of vision, thanks to the monitors surrounding you. While you do your level best to figure out the controls, you're also able to get a close look at the chaos outside your ship; the Mansion forces, no longer under constant aerial bombardment, are rallying quite nicely, although the mechs still on the field put up a valiant defense. Not that it does them much good against the combined might of the entire mansion, but it's the thought that counts.

The ship jerks around as you get a hand on what you think is the main joystick, and the ship unsteadily rises. It takes a bit of experimenting to get a modicum of control, but you get things in hand soon enough. You can't find the prisoner dropship anywhere on the field, sadly, but at least you can still give the ground troops a hand. It's probably tied to the joystick with the red button on top, so you give it a push; cannon shells haphazardly smash against the landscape, and you wince as an errant burst blows apart a cadre of fairies.

Now they're shooting back at you. That's... that's great. At least it's only the fairies shooting at you; if you'd gotten the attention of the big names, you're pretty sure you'd be in big trouble.

Almost as if to show that the universe does have a sense of humor, Flandre bursts out of a mansion window, flanked by a lone copy. The duo look none too happy, a fact emphasized by the barrage of magic bullets flying your way. You jerk the ship aside, but the craft's bulk ensures that it's too slow to dodge the brunt of the assault. Your world shakes, several warning displays lighting up on the console, but at least the ship itself still appears to be in working order.

Not that it will be for much longer unless you can deal with this new problem, at any rate.

[ ] Vampires off the port bow! Open fire!

[ ] Blast a few mechs to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command.

[ ] Abscond! Who knows what the techies at base could get out of this ship's computers?

[ ] [WRITE-IN]
[X] Abscond! Who knows what the techies at base could get out of this ship's computers?

Probably for the best. Shooting at the vampires is a terrible idea, but I kinda doubt that just shooting at the mechs will be enough to clue everyone in. Also this is the least likely to end up with the ship broken, so we can still have it later.
[X] Find all the weapons on-ship. FIRE ALL WEAPONS ON-SHIP. TARGET: DROPSHIPS
[x] Blast a few mechs to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command.
[X] Find all the weapons on-ship. FIRE ALL WEAPONS ON-SHIP. TARGET: DROPSHIPS

[X] Find all the weapons on-ship. FIRE ALL WEAPONS ON-SHIP. TARGET: DROPSHIPS

Well, we need to get rid of them eventually. They're pretty essential to the enemy. Maybe if we shock them with their own ship then they'll panic.
[x] Blast a few mechs to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command.
Hate to interrupt, but there were four enemy dropships on field.

The prisoner ship fled the scene while you were breaching your current ship, and two others were taken out by the Valkyrie before it had to retreat. You're currently in control of the last aircraft on the field. Unless I'm horrifically misinterpreting things, the only viable target for that write-in is yourself.

Also, since no one knows you're the pilot, you could probably get away with a spot of betrayal and play it off as the enemy's handiwork. Probably.
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What part of Meiling Route don't you understand?
>Gera gera
I hate that fucking rabbit.

[x] Blast a few mechs (or all of them) to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command.
[x] Blast a few mechs (or all of them) to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command
[x] Blast a few mechs (or all of them) to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command

This is still an infiltration mission. Let's take actions that will be in line with that primary objective.

Alright then.


Change my vote to:

[x] Blast a few mechs (or all of them) to scrap; maybe that will cue everyone else in to the fact that you're the one in command

Really, it's the only really viable thing to do. If we get caught betraying them then we won't get let back into the mansion to capture Flandre.
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Just saiyan.

Anyway, consider it called. However, since I like that write-in quite a bit, I'm going to try and find a way to implement at least some of it.

>pic hopefully related

Don't you see the glorious genius of locking all our gun sights on ourself and opening fire?
It's the last thing anyone would expect, so clearly we'll have the element of surprise!
(And considering the mess this cockpit design apparently is, that's probably what would happen if we try to do anything more advanced than pointing the machineguns at the ground and pushing the red button.)
I just wanted to stop in and let everyone know that the next update is going to be delayed for a little while, as I'm working on something I want to submit to the site's ongoing story contest.

I'm really sorry you guys have to wait, but I hope what I put up there will be worth it. If the next update takes a long time, you'll know what to blame.


Okay, I'll freely admit, that's brilliantly insane.
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Okay, time for a quick situational review.

Two Flandre are spewing out waves of bullets as they fly towards you with ill-intent, fairies are launching droves of fire your way, and you're in an aircraft that, while assuredly quite agile in the hands of its original pilot, is currently in yours.

On the positive side, at least surviving the next few minutes can't be any harder than that one time you were hurtling through space on an asteroid set to collide with an important research station; you ended up having to course-correct it with nothing more than a few strategically-placed high explosives, which was fun in a completely pulse-pounding, not actually fun at all kind of way.

The ship rattles as another barrage of magic smashes against its plating, jarring you back into focus.

Right, time to put this baby through her paces.

You push the control joystick forward as hard as you can, and the ship rumbles in response as it dives through a hailstorm of bullets and, not coincidentally, towards one of the thickest enemy formations. You push an important-looking lever as far as it can go, and through the monitors you see both engines kick into overdrive.

Everything slows down as you burn into reflexes.

You adjust the main gun's aim and slam a thumb down on the joystick's button, high-impact shells spitting out of the cannon and blowing a loose formation of retreating mechs into tiny pieces. You pull up just as the flame from the engines brushes against the grass, setting it alight wherever they meet, and push the ship straight at a group of mechs, utterly melting any too slow to get out of the way.

The ship groans as both Flandres latch on and immediately commence ripping into the ship's plating as if it were made out of brittle wood instead of metal. You jerk the ship into a wild spin, dislodging one of the blondes and sending her crashing straight into the mansion with a great spray of rubble. The other one holds on with all the strength one could pack into her pint-sized form, which turns out to be shitloads.

Without any way to deal with her, you pull up hard and sight in on another grouping of mechs. The moment you unleash a spray of fire, the ceiling finds itself the proud owner of a new fist-sized indentation; Flandre's handiwork, no doubt. This must look completely ridiculous to everyone outside, with how you're spinning rapidly, spraying shells every which way as you try to not crash and explode.

At least the fairies have stopped shooting at you, either convinced by your displays that you're friendly or confident in Flandre's ability to rip and tear, which is exactly what she does by ripping a hole straight out of the ceiling and popping her head in. She comes up short the moment she sees you, but a short glance at the dead mech behind the chair is enough to stop her from immediately murdering you.

"So I'm guessing he was the one who shot up all those fairies?" She asks, paying no heed to such petty things like g-forces from the ship's rapid spinning.

"Right up until I ripped its head off, yes." You say, happy to roll with her misguided conclusion as you blast another grouping of mechs apart. "Is now really the best time for questions, Flandre?"

"Yep!" She says, working on widening the hole with every passing second. "Just lemme get through here and then we can have a nice chat!"

You refocus on the field as Flandre keeps trying to squirm her way into the ship. The mechs are fleeing towards the treeline, trading fire with Mansion forces every step of the way. Meiling, Remilia, and Sakuya seem to be having a grand time of things, given how casually they're tearing apart any stragglers.

"Allez-oup!" Flandre says as she squeezes through a hole half her size, a feat made even more mind-boggling by her impressive wingspan. You lean back the moment she's through, letting the girl fall straight into your lap.

"Heya!" She says, grinning up at you.

You reach around your vampiric passenger, brushing the crystals hanging off her wings out of the way, and latch onto the controls. "Flandre, please go."

"No." She says, languidly stretching out on your lap and dangling her legs over the armrest, using your right arm as a makeshift pillow. It's making piloting the ship rather more awkward than it needs to be.

"For the record, if you distract me and we crash into something and explode, I'm blaming you." You say, punctuating the statement by arresting the ship's spin as hard as you can. The mechs are shooting back now, their bullets pinging off plating and doing precious little else.

"Maybe if you weren't spinning around in a giant metal box of death, that wouldn't be a threat in the first place." She says, unfazed by the rapid stop as she waves a hand at the wrecked robot behind you. "I mean, I understand why that fella would fly this thing, because he's a weird machine guy and who knows what he was thinking, but I don't get why you'd do it."

"Those mechs might have copper wiring to reroute their fear of death, but I've got nerves of steel." You say, tapping a finger against your forehead.

Flandre snorts. "Did you rehearse that one?"


"Six outta ten."

"Only six?" You ask, genuinely offended. You thought it was a good one!

"If you're gonna complain, I'll make it five."

The noise that escapes your lips is somewhere between a growl and a sigh, and you vent your annoyance by annihilating a squad of mechs firing on you.

"So how'd your visit with Sis go?" Flandre asks, watching the monitors with rapt attention."Besides the part where you got punted into the clouds, I mean."

"Thank Meiling for that." You say, adjusting your aim to blast the closest cadre of mechs apart. "And anyway, I managed to take Remilia's arm off."

Your lapwarmer rolls her eyes. "Oh, please, we do that to each other all the time."

"I'm fairly certain that doesn't fall underneath appropriate sisterly conduct." You say, wrestling with the controls as you try to bring the ship to a complete halt; making it spin around was easy enough, but trying to keep everything level? That's another problem entirely.

Flandre pokes you right on the visor. "You don't grow new limbs after your old ones get ripped off."

"You say that as if I never had my legs blown off by a landmine." You say, suppressing the urge to shudder as you recall that particular incident.

Flandre nods knowingly, and then immediately double-takes when your words actually sink in. "Eh? I always thought humans couldn't really get new..." She gestures vaguely, "Y'know, bits. Figured once the leg's off or whatever, you'd just have to put a stick in there and make do."

"The wonders of technology." You dryly say.

Flandre grunts noncommittally, eyes flicking towards the monitors. "I think that's the last of them, by the way."

She's right; the only mechs that can be seen on the field are piles of scrap. The battle-worn fairies are a fraction of their former number, having suffered severe casualties during the fight, but they're paying rapt attention to how Remilia is hovering above the crowd, gesturing grandly as she gives a speech that you can't really hear from inside the ship. Sakuya keeps teleporting around the field, wreckage disappearing in the blink of an eye wherever she goes, Karin the super-fairy is mounting heads on her armor, and Meiling-

"Yo." The redhead says, peeking through the hole in the roof. She blinks several times as your passenger's identity sinks in.

Flandre gives the redhead a lazy wave. "Didja have fun out there, Meiling?"

"For a given value of the word." Meiling says, one eyebrow raised up high as it can go. "You're, ah, in a rather interesting spot there, aren't you?"

"He's surprisingly comfy for a guy covered in metal." Flandre says, patting you companionably on the chest. "Perfect for cuddling!"

"I never asked for this." You say.

"Right." Meiling says, features carefully schooled into neutrality. "So, you got any plans, or are you happy to just keep floating above everyone like a giant eyesore?"

"If I knew how to land this thing, believe me, I would." You say. "Whoever designed these controls should be shot for incompetence."

"Well, if you can't figure it out, Flan and I could probably catch it for you." Meiling says. "If you wanted to just shut off the engines, I mean."

"I don't remember saying I'd help." Flandre says, clinging tightly enough to leave tiny indentations on your arm plating.

"I appreciate the offer, but I'm not done yet." You say. "I'm more concerned by where that last dropship got to. They had to have been retreating to base, and letting them make off with a cargo bay full of fairies is probably a bad thing."

"Ya think." Meiling say, voice flat.

Your comms beep in warning, and you hold up a hand to forestall anything else. "Got an incoming call, hold on."

A tap to your ear engages the comm system. "AE, do you copy? What is your status?" The operator asks, static mingling with every word.

"Copy." You say. "I've hijacked one of the enemy dropships, and I'm piloting it right now. Just for the record, I'll never complain about how ours control ever again."

"How did you-" He sighs. "Never mind how, just try to keep it intact for later study."

"Got it. Now, you wouldn't have called unless it was important; what's come up?"

"A recon unit stationed nearby has spotted a lone enemy dropship retreating from your area. Can you give us any information on it?"

"If that's the same one I'm thinking of, it has a cargo-hold full of captured Mansion troops." You say.

"What." Flandre says, rocketing upright. Meiling's eyebrow almost imperceptibly twitches.

The operator pauses for a moment before he continues. "Whatever they're planning can't be any good. Our man is trailing the ship now, but he's not equipped to clear out an entire enemy base."

"And that's where I come in." You say.


"Can you patch me in to the recon's comms?"

"Give me a moment." He says, and seconds later your comms beep as you switch to the new frequency.

"Bush Monster here, what is it?" A high-pitched voice whispers.

"Bush Monster?" You ask, eyebrows raised. "I'm fairly certain that's not a regulation code-name."

"Look, it's eighty degrees out here and I'm baking in a ghillie suit, I'll call myself whatever the hell I want."

"Okay, then." You say, rather nonplussed. "You got a heading on that dropship?"

"Currently east of the mansion, heading due north. Anything else, mister 'I have an inbuilt cooling unit in my armor'?"

"Keep me posted. Out."

Your comms deactivate with another tap. Meiling clears her throat.

"Your friend's choice of name aside, what'd you learn?" She asks, smirking lightly.

"And what is a bush monster?" Flandre wonders.

"I've got a rough idea of where the mech base might be." You say. "If you're up for helping me clear it out, I won't say no."

"Sounds like-" An alarm goes off on the console, interrupting whatever Meiling were going to say. Your eyes dart up to the monitors, and that is definitely a group of rockets that have just been fired from the mansion windows. Some fly towards you, but most of them are directed towards the congregation of friendlies below.

"Incoming!" You snap, pulling hard on the controls. Meiling clings tightly to the roof, and Flandre pumps a fist as the incoming rockets sail dangerously close by. Everyone scatters the moment Remilia barks out an order, but the explosions that pepper the ground below claim a fair number of the fairy troops despite that.

"That was exciting!" Flandre cheerfully says. "Do it aga-"

The whole ship rattles as a rocket connects with the left engine, and it sputters for a few seconds before kicking back in, outputting notably less exhaust than before. You push the ship into reverse, the better to gain some distance on the rocket teams that must have set up inside the mansion during the main battle. The fairy remnant waste no time in taking flight and charging, Remilia leading the pack as they trade fire with the entrenched rocketeers.

"Okay, maybe we shouldn't do it again." Flandre casually amends.

"I should probably help out here." Meiling says. "But on the other hand, I think Remilia's got it under control."

"If that's the case, how do you feel about hitting up an entire building full of mechs?" You ask, pulling the ship to the side to evade more rocket fire.

Flandre claps her hands together. "Sounds fun! When do we start?"

"I'm up for it. Lemme just tell Remilia what we're doing." Meiling says, disappearing from sight for a moment. "Yo, boss!" She shouts. "We're going after the people we've lost! You got things under control here?"

Remilia spares a glance back and a salute before she returns to shooting all the mechs, which seems to be all the confirmation Meiling needs as she pops back into view to shoot you a thumbs up.

"There's a hatch nearby if you want to come in, you know." You say.

"I'm good." The redhead says. "I'll stay up here in case we run into anything that needs its face kicked in."

"More room for me!' Flandre says, drawing closer to you.

"Then here we go." You say, turning the ship away from the mansion proper and pushing the engines to full throttle. You and Flandre both are pushed back into the seat, and Meiling whoops as the ship rapidly burns away from the mansion.

"Everything okay up there?" You call out.

"Hell yeah!" She says, one hand keeping her cap firmly in place as her hair whips about.


It's a relatively smooth journey across the lake, despite the damaged engine. Everyone is content to remain quiet, and once you're back over solid ground you reactivate your radio.

"Bush Monster?" You say, resisting the urge to roll your eyes. "Still tracking that ship?"

"Shh, shh, shut the fuck up for a second." He whispers. "It's landing right now, and..."

"And?" You prod.

"Okay, tricksy bastards must've set up underground, seeing as this big patch of earth just slid aside for them.”

"Can you mark the location for us?" You ask.

"I've got flares, yeah. Give me a minute, though; don't want to broadcast my presence while they still have a presence topside."

"Roger." You say, disengaging comms.

"What're we looking at?" Meiling asks.

"Do I get to smash something?" Flandre says, teeth bared in an excited grin.

"We're heading underground." You say. "There's probably going to be turrets and guards aplenty, with who knows what else, so we'll need to stay on our toes."

"Sounds fun!" Meiling says. "Where is it?"

A red flare flies up through the treetops, hanging in the sky a solid distance away.

"There's your answer." You say.

"So, fighty time?" Flandre hopefully asks, eyes sparkling.

Plan of action?

[ ] You have one of Gensokyo's most powerful residents on your lap, an insanely strong martial artist on your roof, a base full of mechs to destroy, and full authority to cut loose. KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY

[ ] Set down nearby and commence with a sneaking mission.

[ ] Whoever's down there likely doesn't know you've hijacked this ship; stands to reason you might be able to fly in with them none the wiser.

[ ] [WRITE-IN]
[x] You have one of Gensokyo's most powerful residents on your lap, an insanely strong martial artist on your roof, a base full of mechs to destroy, and full authority to cut loose.
[x] Set down nearby and commence with a sneaking mission.

Holy shit, you're back. I've missed this story and by proxy, you!
[x] You have one of Gensokyo's most powerful residents on your lap, an insanely strong martial artist on your roof, a base full of mechs to destroy, and full authority to cut loose.
[x] You have one of Gensokyo's most powerful residents on your lap, an insanely strong martial artist on your roof, a base full of mechs to destroy, and full authority to cut loose. KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY KILLFRENZY

Kill frenzy? Kill frenzy.
[x] Set down nearby and commence with a sneaking mission.
This is a sneaking mission, make sure nobody's sees you.
[x] Set down nearby and commence with a sneaking mission.
[x] Take Flandre and Meiling and when things go comically wrong, KILL FRENZY.
[X] Set down nearby and commence with a sneaking mission.
[X] Take Flandre and Meiling and when things go comically wrong, KILL FRENZY.

Start as Solid Snake, end as Rambo.
[X] Set down nearby and commence with a sneaking mission.
[X] Take Flandre and Meiling and when things go comically wrong, KILL FRENZY.

I like this write-in.
[x] let the ship disguise get you in, then kill frenzy.

Was thinking of doing all 3 choices but I'm not sure how to word it. I'm not even sure if a sneaking mission would work if you show them the ship on the way in.
Called! Everybody's going METAL GEAR today!


Have faith, friend. I may falter, but I shall never truly fall.


Funny, that's how all my playthroughs of MGS3 end up.
they robots, they have cameras, they know. All three options are the same though, just, which approach do you prefer?

[x] You have one of Gensokyo's most powerful residents on your lap, an insanely strong martial artist on your roof, a base full of mechs to destroy, and full authority to cut loose.
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“I just need to set this thing down, and then we're going in.” You say, warily eying the controls. “Which is easier for me to say than actually do, if I'm being honest.”

Flandre flings her arms up. “Hooray! Fighty time!”

“If it's all the same,” Meiling says. “I'll just hop off right now.”

“Fair enough.” You say. “Keep your distance, though. Don't want to set it down on top of your head.”

“I could take it.” Meiling says, a touch affronted, before kicking off the roof. As you wait for her to clear the area, your comms crackle alive once again.

“Belay your arrival, we've got another ship inbound.” Bush Monster says.

“That's us.”

The recon is silent for a scant moment. “What do you mean, us?

“Hold on, I'll meet you down there. Keep your gun down, please?”

“No, seriously, what do you m-

You disengage comms with another tap, taking a (perhaps unwarranted) bit of pleasure in messing with the recon.

“You know it's rude to keep talking to other people in front of guests, right?” Flandre asks as you very, very gently start bringing the ship down; all goes well until the damaged engine chooses this exact moment to sputter and die, sending the whole craft pitching sideways.

“Now is not the time!” You say, hastily shutting the remaining engine off to stop the ship from flipping over. Bereft of power, gravity pulls you down with all the force expected of a giant hunk of metal, and the thunderous impact with the earth nearly throws you out of your seat; Flandre squeals in delight as she clings to you.

“So many complications!” She cheers, not bothered in the least. “Oh, being around you is fun!

“You really do enjoy our constant peril far too much, you know that?” You say.

Flandre pats you on the cheek. “Aw, he actually thinks I'm in any kind of danger. That's cute.”

You chuff. “Even if you aren't, I am. I'd rather not end my days crushed by wreckage.”

“Everything okay in there?” Meiling calls from outside. “Looked like a pretty rough landing!”

“We're fine!” You shout.

Flandre extricates herself from your lap and hops upright. “Hustle up!” She says, immediately flying to the hole in the ceiling and wriggling through in all logical defiance of her wingspan.

“HQ, copy?” You ask, patching into central command once again as you try to figure out what the console's status displays are trying to tell you.


“Ship is down due to engine damage.” You squint at one particular alarm. “I might be able to get it back up later, but I don't have time to try right now. I'll be hoofing it from here.”

“Understood. We'll send a salvage team to your area once you're clear. HQ out.”

Comms off, you rise from your chair and step over the wrecked mech. It's a short trek back to the main hatch, and you climb upwards with all due speed. The moment you peek your head out the top, you catch an eyeful of toned leg, but you're sadly not given much time to enjoy the sight before Meiling grabs your hand.

“Up and at them, sir!” She says, hauling you upright as easily as you would a small child.

“I didn't know I qualified for sir after what I'd been doing to your mansion.” You say.

“Ah, well, I was hoping the title would take the sting out of what's about to happen.” She says, all too sweetly.

“Wh-” You start, right before she slams a fist into your nose hard enough to knock you sprawling.

That's for ruining my gardens, you jackass.” She says, scowling fiercely down at you.

You shake your head a few times to clear out the cobwebs. “I suppose I deserved that.”

“Damn straight you did.” She says, offering you a hand up that you gratefully accept. “You know how long it takes to get all the colors in harmony, everything flowing together in one perfect display?”

“A long time?” You hesitantly say, dusting yourself off.

“You bet your ass it does!” She says. “And that's not even counting how you broke my foot and electrocuted me and kept killing all the fairies.”

“Are you going to punch me again?”

Annoyance is replaced by a devil-may-care grin. “I worked the urge out of my system the first time. So, whaddya say we go kick some metal ass?”

“If it keeps your fists away from me, then gladly.” You say.

“Meiling!” Flandre shouts. “What's keeping you?”

“We're totally making out!” Meiling says.

What?!” Flandre rockets up in a flash, her excited expression giving way to a vicious pout the moment she sees you. “Oh, you liar!”

“She punched me in the face.” You helpfully say. “Which, for us, is like making out.”

“You know that doesn't count!”


You lead the pack, rifle raised, as your party gingerly picks their way through the woods.

“Why don't we just fly?” Flandre asks, skipping around any obstacles in her path.

“I'm certain they've got something for monitoring activity above-ground.” You say. “How else could the other ship dock?”

“Not sure if you realized this, but we only ever got your end of your conversations with the people in your helmet.” Meiling says, keeping close to Flandre. “Care to elaborate?”

“Right.” You sheepishly say. “Well, it sounded like they've got a hole that opens up for anything that needs to get into their base.”

“And?” Flandre asks.

“I'd wager they've got something keeping an eye up top if we try a direct approach.”

“Which would give us a chance to get 'em all in one big group and squash them flat.” Meiling says, a tad too cheerfully.

“I'd rather not.” You say. “Too many guns ready to blast us apart, for one.”

“That just makes it more exciting!” Meiling says. Flandre stops dead in her tracks, eyebrows creasing.

“Flandre?” You ask, watching her give the air a tentative sniff. “What's going on?”

“I think I smell...” She sniffs again, just for good measure, and thrusts a finger at an unassuming piece of greenery. “Yep, that's human, all right.”

“Ah, shit, how'd you know?” The bush says, causing you and Meiling both to double-take as it unfolds to its full height.

“Don't swear in front of the Mistress.” Meiling primly says, recovering immediately to defend her master.

“Eh, shit don't bother me.” Flandre says, knocking Meiling for a loop; the blonde traipses up to the man twice her size and starts poking at him. “So you're the Bush Monster!”

“Quit it.” He flatly says; if he's intimidated by the girl at all, he's not showing it.


“I said quit it.”


“I will literally shoot you in the face.” He says, drawing a revolver from the depths of his disguise.

Flandre pouts just a little. “Well, that's not very friendly!”

“If you shoot her, I will break you.” Meiling says, scowling.

“Please listen to the punch-happy amazon warrior.” You say. “She is very good at what she does.”

The man takes one long look at Meiling's bulging muscles before putting the gun away. “I see your point.”

“So, Bush Monster?” You ask. “Got anything new to tell us?”

The ghillie-suited operative leans ahead to get a closer look, firmly ignoring how Flandre keeps poking at him. “Jesus, you look like shit.”

“She's got a mean uppercut.” You say, jerking a thumb at Meiling.

She nods, a cocky smirk adorning her lips. “That's my Mountain Breaker! When it comes to launching intruders into lower orbit, accept no substitutes.”

“So why the hell are you two working with him, then?” He asks.

“All kinds of exciting things keep happening when he's around!” Flandre says. “Sure, they're mostly his fault, but still!”

“There's also that army of robots that are trying to kill us all.” Meiling says. “You'd be surprised how quickly you can warm up to someone when you team up and fight for your lives.”

“Also, they keep making out after they're done beating each other up.” Flandre says, grinning widely.

What.” The operative says.

“You're such a kidder, Flan.” Meiling says, stone-faced, as she grabs the jokester of a vampire by the collar and drags her away from the Bush Monster.

“Ignore her.” You smoothly say. “Anyway, we're about to break in and tear things up. You got anything for us?”

“We've got those hidden blast doors about a hundred feet ahead.” He says, pointing over his shoulder. “Besides that? I wasn't able to get close enough to see anything. You're going in blind.”

You sigh. “Figured as much.”

“Is that all?” He says, withdrawing a long-barreled sniper rifle from somewhere on his person.

“How did you even fit that on you?” You ask, both horrified and mildly impressed.

“Ancient wookie secret.” He says, none-too-smugly.

“If you say so.” You say, eying the rifle dubiously. “I don't think I want to know, in any case.”

He snorts. “Oh, like I can just pull a high-impact sniper rifle out of my ass.”

“I didn't say that.”

“You were thinking it.”

“...Yes.” You admit.

“Are you two done?” Flandre asks, having slipped from Meiling's iron grip and now floating out of the redhead's reach. “Cause there's a bunch of guys for me to blow up, and every second we're out here is a second they're not exploding.

“...We're good.” The recon says, a touch worried. “Anyway, how are you even getting down into the base? I don't think they'll open up for you if you knock and ask nicely.”

“I was thinking of letting Flandre handle the entrance, but that would be too loud.” You holster your rifle in favor of the digger. “That's why I've got this.”

“Ooh?” Flandre says, squinting at the tool. "Doesn't look like much."

You shrug. "It got me into your room, didn't it? It'll plow through concrete if it has to, and I'd bet good money that I've got enough power to get us in.”

“Then we punch everyone?” Meiling asks.

“Then we punch everyone.” You agree, resting the tool's barrel on your shoulder.

“Right.” Bush Monster flatly says. “While you do that, I'll stay topside and keep things monitored. If something else comes by, I'll let you know.”

Before any of you can say another word, he rockets up to the branches, trailing exhaust from a previously-concealed jetpack.

“I really wish they had versions that fit my suit.” You mournfully say. “It'd make things so much easier.”

“Pff, who needs those when you got us?” Flandre asks.

"I prefer my flights to not end with me being thrown through windows." You say, flicking the digger on. "All that being said, let's get moving."

“Yeah!” Flandre says, clapping her hands together as you start tunneling. “Let's begin the Righteous Operation!”

“That is, quite frankly, one of the worst names I've ever heard for an op.” You say, doggedly burning through the earth.

“Hey, we need a good name for what we're gonna do, right?” Flandre says, hopping into the hole and sticking close behind you.

“If it were up to me, it'd be Mission: Killfrenzy.” Meiling says from outside.

“Your names are both terrible.” You say. “How about Operation Final Justice?”

“Kinda fitting, but at the same time, I don't think it's gonna work.” Flandre says. “Operation Reach Out And Hurt Someone?”

“Accurate, but unwieldy. How about the Virtuous Mission? Concise and accurate!” Meiling suggests, having joined the group now that there's enough room.

“That-” You pause. “Actually, that's pretty good.”

“I'll vote for it!” Flandre says.

“Right, then.” You say, “Commencing the Virtuous Mission!”

You dig in silence for only a few seconds before Flandre pipes up again. “So is this going to take a while or-”

Yes.” You say.



The earth ahead gives way to concrete a solid few minutes later. Your digger plows through that in short order, leaving its energy reserves dangerously low, and you stick your head out into a dark, moderately-sized room filled with boxes atop boxes. A lone door provides what little light available through a grille at the bottom.

“Odd.” You say, clambering out of the hole and brushing the dirt off your suit, your companions quickly following suit. “Why would mechs need any of this?”

“Reminds me of the Mansion, almost.” Meiling says, inspecting a nearby box. “And I just realized I have no idea what this says.”

“I might be able to translate.” You say, and come up short as Meiling simply tears the lid off.

“Is that... wine?” She says, pulling a bottle out and squinting at the label. You walk up to get a closer look and damn near trip when you make out the brand.

“Holy- that's vintage Antus stock!” You say, nigh-dumbstruck. “How the hell did it get here?”

“That's the good stuff, I'm guessing?” Flandre asks, floating up to get a better look at things.

“A bottle of this would cost me a week's salary.” You say, grabbing the bottle despite Meiling's squawk of protest. “And I get paid a lot, just for the record.”

“Which leaves me wondering why machines would want high-quality drink.” Meiling darkly says.

“Either they plan on treating their captives extraordinarily well, or we've got human personnel on base.” You say. “And since the first one doesn't make any sense...”

“It means I get to punch someone important!” Meiling finishes, the revelation leaving her in much higher spirits.

“I suppose these metal guys could also be booze-powered, but your ideas make more sense.” Flandre says.

You give the bottle a longing glance before you put it back; there's no room for it on you, and it would just be the worst thing if you did bring it along and the bottle got smashed.

“We've learned enough from here.” You say, motioning towards the door. “I'm going to check outside.”

You shuffle past a bucket and open the door a crack, the better to peek outside; the gunmetal gray corridor stretches out in both directions, splitting off into t-sections a short distance away. Providing overwatch for the entire hallway is-

“A surveillance camera?” You hiss, hastily ducking inside before it turns your way again. The last thing you want is for your stealthy entrance to be ruined right out the gate.

“Don't be so dramatic.” Meiling says. “Flandre, if you please?”

“Comin' right up!” Flandre says, shoving you out of the way and leaning past the doorway, hand outstretched. “And a kyuu for you!” Her fist clenches, and there's the sound of delicate machinery shattering to pieces before the blonde gives you a thumbs-up. You release a breath you didn't realize you were holding when no alarms ring; either the cameras aren't set to trigger the alarm if destroyed, or Flandre utterly annihilated anything that could send the alarm in the first place.

“That's remarkably usef- Flandre Scarlet, what the hell are you doing.” You say, having just taken notice of the bottle of wine dangling in her other hand.

“This!” Flandre says, breaking the top off with her bare hand and promptly up-ending the bottle. You and Meiling both watch in utter horror as she drains it all in a single go and slams the bottle atop a crate. The blonde fixes you with an utterly expression.

“You just drank an entire bottle of the rarest wine in the system.” You say, voice tinged with wonder.

“And I expected more from it.” Flandre sadly says.

“I am never drinking you under the table.” Meiling says.

“Second.” You say, still boggling at how Flandre is able to stand straight. “Let's get moving, I'll take point.”

You slink through the door, Meiling and Flandre following close behind you; Flandre theatrically creeps along on her tip-toes, whereas Meiling pads along in a markedly more sensible fashion. This entire area seems to be a set of storage blocks from what you can tell, hallways cutting through and forming intersections at regular intervals. You don't bother with any turns, plowing straight ahead and letting Flandre handle any cameras you see. Once you reach the end of this stretch of hallway, you spot a door around the corner.

“And thataway.” You say, moving as quietly as a man weighed down by massive amounts of armor can move.

The door opens up to the second floor of a large hangar bay, leaving you behind a balcony that rings around the entire room. A set of massive steel blast doors cover the ceiling, offices with computers visible through glass windows are scattered about on this floor, and peering over the railing reveals a hangar bay several stories below. The dropship that so recently entered is suspended from a set of clamps in the ceiling, its cargo bay open and being emptied of the last of its prisoners via a cargo crane. Whenever a payload dips below, a steady stream of mechs cart the bodies out through another door on the ground floor. Turrets dot the area, mean-looking cannons ready to blast anything attempting to interfere with operations, while a mix of men and women in irregular uniform patrol the ground.

“This is quite the set-up they've got.” You whisper, having ducked behind the railing for cover.

“With real flesh-and-blood people, no less.” Meiling says, pulling Flandre's wings down from where they were poking over the rail. “Recognize those guns they're holding?”

“Shotguns, I think.” You say. “Nasty against you and Flandre, I'm sure, but less so against all my armor. Try not to get hit.”

“I fear nothing, for I am fear incarnate.” Flandre mutters, scowling fiercely as she psyches herself up for action. “Now, is this the part where everything explodes? Because I'm really wanting to blow everything up right about now.”

[X] Killfrenzy? Killfrenzy. Killfrenzy!

[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.

[X] Information is power and, while you're no expert hacker, you're sure you could get something good off those computers.

[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.
[X] Killfrenzy? Killfrenzy. Killfrenzy!
[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.

The way I see it, there's no reason not to at least try to find out. When we get caught, THEN we can go killfrenzy. Might as well see what we can find while we still can.
[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.
-[x] Let's leave the killing until we find where they are or until our inevitable discovery.

Since we're all 'METAL GEAR? IT CAN'T BE!' we should go like we usually play those games: take an hour to try to slip in unnoticed, fail, get pissed and start rampaging through the whole area.
>The blonde fixes you with an utterly expression.

It seems that Flandre may have accidentally an adjective.
Low voting turnout this time, eh? Guess it wasn't really much of a choice. Not a problem, though, consider it called!

Also, with regards to >>59497 (and something I caught myself on a reread just before you posted, for that matter!)

>The blonde fixes you with an utterly sober expression.

Emphasis mine because I totally missed putting that bolded part into the update proper! Ahahahaha just kill me now.
[X] Killfrenzy? Killfrenzy. Killfrenzy!
late vote?
[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.
-[x] Let's leave the killing until we find where they are or until our inevitable discovery.
[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.
-[x] Let's leave the killing until we find where they are or until our inevitable discovery.
I know it's already called but I would vote:

[X] This might be the only chance to find where they're keeping the prisoners without everything trying to kill you, although following them without setting off any alarms is going to be tricky.
-[x] Let's leave the killing until we find where they are or until our inevitable discovery.

Sorry, I was moving house so I hardly had the time to read and vote.
File 138379750287.jpg - (21.94KB, 348x260, VAMPIRE WITH A SHOTGUN.jpg) [iqdb]
“We'll need to be quiet for a little while longer.” You whisper, motioning towards the prisoners being hauled away. “It's our best shot to get your people out before everything inevitably goes straight to hell.”

“Inevitably?” Flandre asks, brows raised.

“The moment we burst into the room they're keeping everyone is the moment the whole base is going to fall on our heads and shoot at us.” You say. “Fact of life, no real getting around it.”

Flandre sighs happily. “Good to know I didn't drink all that wine for nothing, then.”

“You actually had a reason?” You ask.

She shoots you a downright offended glare as she folds her arms. “Hey, if I'm gonna be going around blowing people into tiny little bits, I don't really feel like being sober.”

“I'm really sorry to distract you from your conversation about booze,” Meiling says, in a tone suggesting she's really not sorry at all. “but if quiet's what we're aiming for, the last thing we want to do is jump down there. Their patrols are rock solid, and the turrets pick up whatever they miss.”

“I suppose the high road's the best option, then.” You say, looking around for any other doorways on this floor; the closest is still a distance away from the door the mechs are taking, but it'll have to do. You creep towards it, shadowed every step of the way by your oddball compatriots.

“So do we have a plan for when we find them, or are we just winging it?” Flandre asks.

“We'll figure it out when we get there.” You say.

Flandre giggles. “Oh, we are winging it!”

“This has pretty much been his entire game plan from the moment we first met, yes.” Meiling says.

“Shh.” You whisper, gently pushing the door open and peeking inside; with neither sentries nor cameras in sight, you slip through. More storage blocks stretch out a fair distance, and at the far end of the current hallway lies a pair of elevator doors.

“Looks like that's our best bet.” You say, pointing out the elevator. “Might not take us all the way down, but it's our best shot. Flandre, you got the cameras?”

The blonde answers by slapping you on the back, driving you to a knee. “You know it!”

Stop doing that.” You hiss.

You and yours quietly tread through the hallway, letting Flandre handle anything that might prove problematic. Nothing occurs, for once, and you make it almost all the way to the elevator proper before the light at the top of the door pings.

“Oh, that's not good.” Meiling says, right before she turns tail and darts around the nearest corner.

“Back up, back up!” You order, following Meiling's suit; Flandre dives past you just as the elevator's doors open. You peek out and duck back the moment you see a pair of shotgun-toting guards headed your way.

“What've we got?” Meiling whispers. You hold up two fingers, motion at the corner, and then punch a fist into your palm; Meiling moves to take point by your side, but Flandre beats her to the spot, leaving the gatekeeper to fall back with an irritated sigh. The mens' voices and footsteps both echo down the hall.

“Look, all I'm saying is that a lot of this stuff would be improved with some hardcore shots, instead of all the cutaways and censorship.” Guard A says.

“Action movies and porn are different things. You do know that, right?” Guard B asks. “Then again, you're the guy who collects strange alien pornography, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.”

How did you know?

“You watched it on the break room TV, fer chrissakes.”

One time. And it was midnight, anyway! What the hell were you doing up at that hour?”

“Not telling. Anyway, I think I blocked most of what I saw that night out of my memory, but even what I remember is still freakin' nasty.”

“I- Oh, come on! All the hot chicks here have shot me down, man, it's all I've got left!”

You glance over your shoulder; Meiling's expression is torn between amusement and pity, whereas Flandre is grinning wider and wider with each passing word.

Guard B speaks up again. “If you're really that deprived, we got boxes on top of boxes of girls being prepped for shipping, if fairies and slash or maids are what get your rocks off. I'm sure you could sneak one out for personal use.”

“... Did you seriously just tell me to rape the maids?” Guard A asks, disgust coloring his tone.

“Actually, I just wanted to see how you'd react.” A smack echoes through the air. “Ow! Motherfucker, I will end you!”

“That's how I'd react, for the record.”

“Okay, that's it, we're hitting the ping-pong table when our shift is over, and I'm gonna destroy you.”

They're scarcely feet away by this point, and a gesture towards Flandre is all the confirmation she needs before you both charge around the corner.

“Bring it oooooh shit!” The first guard says, trying to bring his shotgun up before you launch him through the air with an uppercut. The second actually succeeds in raising his weapon, but Flandre wrenches it from his grasp, breaks it over her knee, and tackles the guard to the ground, where she leans down so far their noses touch.

“Hi! Can we be friends?” She asks.

The young man spares you a single, wide-eyed glance, before redirecting his attention to the vampire all up in his personal space. “If I say no, what will you do?”

Flandre gives him a bright, toothy smile. “I'll eat your face!”

“Oh god.”

“I'll take that as a yes!” Flandre says, popping upright. “Now that we're best buddies, I got a few questions!”

“Should we interfere?” You quietly ask, looking back at Meiling. She mouths a wordless no back.

“So, pal, where are you taking all my maids?” Flandre asks, tugging at the soldier's cheeks. “And are you still planning on doing nasty things with them?”

“Bottom floor! And, seriously, it was a joke!”

“It was still in really bad taste!” Flandre chides, tapping him on the nose. “Shouldn't you say something about that?”

“Uh, my bad?”

“See, that was easy!” Flandre says, her smile growing dangerously large. “But now that I got what I want, well, there's really no reason for me to not eat your face. Sorry, buddy!”


Meiling clears her throat, bringing everyone's attention to the fact that her arms are swirling with rainbow magic. “Flan? Let me handle this.”

“Have at him!” Flandre says, rolling aside to let Meiling press her fingers to the terrified man's forehead.

“Go to sleep.” Meiling orders; energy flowing from her arm directly into his body. After a few moments of fruitless struggling, he seizes up and goes completely limp.

“What was that?” You ask, as Meiling brushes her hands off and Flandre hops upright.

“Are you familiar with how the principles of chi work?” Meiling asks.


She smirks. “Let's just say I can do a whole lot when I get my hands on someone.”

You glance at the unconscious man. “If it's that effective, I have to wonder why you didn't try it on me at the library.”

She shrugs. “Strangling you was faster. Now shut up, I'm gonna deal with the other guy.”

As Meiling repeats the process, you look over at- “Flandre, put the shotgun down.

Flandre pouts viciously, your words only serving to make her hug her newly-acquired gun close. “No!”

“I thought you wanted to not be killing people?” You ask, gesturing towards her weapon. “Because that is all you're going to do with that thing.”

“I only said I didn't want to be sober if I was going around killing people.”

You blink, go over her last few conversations, and come up short. “Oh. Carry on, then.”

“If you two are done, we've got bodies to hide.” Meiling says, giving Flandre's new toy a bemused look as she effortlessly hoists a man over each shoulder.

“Right, time to stuff them in boxes!” Flandre says. “Preferably in an incredibly embarrassing position for when they wake up!”

It takes a short while to find a door, but once you do, you step inside another room full of crates. As you and Meiling search around for a suitable storage container, Flandre starts ripping lids off of other boxes, presumably in search of more alcohol.

“I think this one'll work.” You say, tearing the top off a particularly large crate that, as it turns out, is filled entirely with smaller boxes. After you upend it, sending the contents scattering across the ground, Meiling unceremoniously dumps the two guards inside. You stack another box on top so they can't escape, and punch a small air-hole so they don't suffocate.

“Well, that's dealt with.” Meiling says, dusting her hands off. “Let's get movi-”

“Aha!” Flandre cheers, pulling a bottle of no-doubt expensive drink from another crate. “Who's with me? Meiling, you with me? How about you, big guy?”

“I don't think now's the best time.” You say, but Meiling shrugs, takes the bottle from Flandre, and downs half the bottle in a single long drag. When she finally breaks for air, she thrusts the bottle at you.

“Screw appropriate timing.” She says, cheeks slightly flushed. “There's a good chance I could get shot in the face in the next few minutes.”

“I don't drink on the job.” You say, waving the bottle off. “And in any case, we've got to get moving while we still have the advantage of surprise. Let's get to that elevator.”

“Oh, you're no fun.” Flandre says, grabbing the wine from Meiling and stowing the glass away in her dress... somewhere, you really don't care to find out. “Anyway, time for some elevator action! And also what is an elevator?

“Stairs for lazy people.” You say. “...Well, actually, no, that's what escalators are, but it's the same principle.”

“Let's try it!”

Nothing else tries to stop you on the way out, and in short order everyone crowds into the elevator. You punch the button to the deepest level, the elevator lurching to life and nearly throwing Flandre off-kilter before Meiling catches her. After releasing her mistress, Meiling leans against the wall, leaving Flandre to fiddle with her new toy.

“Do you even know how to use that thing?” You ask, checking your own gun over. “Otherwise, it might as well just be a club.”

“I saw how that one guy I tackled was holding his!” Flandre says, frowning heavily. “Besides, it can't be that hard.”

“Even so, you do realize you're better with your bare hands, right?”

“I want.” Flandre points at herself. “To shoot.” She points away, and a tiny magical bullet flies from an outstretched finger. “This gun.” She gently caresses the shotgun's barrel. “So I will shoot this gun.”

“That's great and all, Flan, but I'm just gonna punch people.” Meiling says, outwardly composed save for how she's repeatedly clenching her fists.

“Oh, so am I!” Flandre says, grinning widely as she rests the gun on her shoulder. “But I'mma also be a vampire with a shotgun! How often do you get to hear that phrase?”

“I think I saw that movie once.” You say, vague memories resurfacing. “It was incredibly stupid.”

Flandre chuffs. “How could you not like something called that? You got no taste.”

You deign not to answer, and everyone falls into silence once again, getting ready for the inevitable; you idly note the floor indicator is almost at the bottom.

“I'm gonna take out the most people, just so you all know.” Meiling states, popping her knuckles one-by-one.

Flandre, grinning widely, pumps her shotgun. “You are so on.”

You bring your rifle to bear. “Don't forget about me, ladies.”

The elevator doors open with another ping.

Your eyes are inexorably drawn towards the massive centerpiece of a gate in the room ahead, extending a solid fifty feet upwards and sideways both, surrounded by transparent cube-shaped holding cells, each one large enough to stuff a dozen bodies inside, and both mechs and men patrol as cranes work to load the blocks up for transport via conveyor belt. Turrets are scattered about, multi-barreled cannons scanning the area, while snipers patrol the walkways above.

Meiling whistles. ”That's a pretty impressive amount of security they've got. 'Course, more important is that... what is that giant thing, anyway?”

“That's an inactive gate to the Outside." You say, not unimpressed yourself. “We'd best get moving before they open the portal. It's a shame we're probably going to end up destroying it.”

“Oh, who cares about your giant portal through time or whatever?” Flandre says, peeking out the door. “Are we gonna go out and blast them or what?”

“We need a plan, first.” You say.

“Any suggestions?” Meiling asks, arms aglow once more. “Besides, you know, punching everything. That's a given.”

“Far as I see it, we've got three problems, and there's three of us, so, we'll need to divide them between the group.” You say.

“I could send out some copies to pick up the slack.” Flandre suggests.

“Could work, could backfire horribly.” You say. “They're not exactly durable, after all.”


“Anyway, the problems.” You point out each obstacle in turn as you speak. “One, the snipers will wreck us if they're not dealt with. Two, the portal needs to be disabled before it can transport your people out of here. Three, and this one's guaranteed to be nasty, are the ground troops and turrets, since there's so many of them.”

“I'm willing to take on any job.” Meiling says. “I'd prefer to hear what you've got in mind for yourself, though, so we can plan around that.”

“Question!” Flandre asks, raising a hand. “Do we have a way out after we beat everybody up?”

“I haven't thought that far ahead.” You admit. “We'll improvise.”

Flandre claps a hand against her knee, frowning deeply. “Well, that's great thinking!”

“You can complain later, we've got to move soon.” You say.

Loudspeakers blare to life. “Attention, all workers! Gate activation is imminent!”

“And that's our cue.” You say.

Requested level of lethality?

[X] Nice, neat, and clean, just like how the Academy taught you.

[X] Aiming for non-lethal is optimistic, but honestly? People are going to die, and there's not much you can do about that. Go for disabling shots only when it's convenient.



What's the plan of attack?

[X] “I've got enough armor to take anti-tank shells on the chin; let me handle the ground troops.”

[X] “I can figure out... something with the portal, don't worry. It'd be easier if only Remilia hadn't confiscated my explosives.

[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch.”


Finally, depending on your choice above, which assignments should Flandre and Meiling take?

[X] Nice, neat, and clean, just like how the Academy taught you.
[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch.”
[X] Flandre: "Break the gate before they start moving those transport blocks. Then move onto the mechs and turrets."
[X] Meiling: "Still up for punching things? Of course you are. And those troops are bags just asking to be hit."

>“Even so, you do realize you're better with your bare hands, right?”
Glad I'm not the only one who thinks the shotgun's a downgrade for Flandre.
[X] Nice, neat, and clean, just like how the Academy taught you.
[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch.”
[X] Flandre: "Break the gate before they start moving those transport blocks. Then move onto the mechs and turrets."
[X] Meiling: "Still up for punching things? Of course you are. And those troops are bags just asking to be hit."
[X] Nice, neat, and clean, just like how the Academy taught you.
We're so superior in strength that we can afford to be merciful.
-[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch; I'll focus on the troopers.”
Subtlety is our game, not theirs.
-[x] “Meiling: you're an experienced fighter and the one with the most endurance of us all, go in front and handle the ground forces. While we assist you.”
-[x] “Flandre: With your.. gifts, you can blow things up easily, use it on the portal. Afterwards, take down the turrets and armor attacking Meiling.”

So, Meiling engages them, Flandre destroys the portal and helps meiling with turrets and we take out the snipers and help meiling with the troopers. This can't fail.
[X] Aiming for non-lethal is optimistic, but honestly? People are going to die, and there's not much you can do about that. Go for disabling shots only when it's convenient.
[X] “I've got enough armor to take anti-tank shells on the chin; let me handle the ground troops.”
[X] Meiling: "Beat feet to the portal and try to shut it off. Break the power supply or yank out wires until it stops glowing. Then come join me in taking out the big guns."
[X] Flandre: "Fly up to the catwalks, split into clones, and have a nice game of shotgun tag with the snipers. Keep an eye on the portal, if they manage to get it working, blow it up before any prisoners can be pulled through. Afterwards, hop down and join in the battle. Have any remaining clones stay and provide overwatch, their fragility won't be as much of an issue up there.

Flandre wants to use her shotgun, and she's the sort that might just decide to use it if the plan doesn't have a chance for her to. Better to make a plan that lets her use it.

Also, having Meiling rip out a few wires as a first resort means the portal will be easier to salvage if the need arises. I considered having Meiling begin freeing fairies, but unless an escaped fairy could liberate more or there are only a few containers, it's better just to focus on the fight and free them afterwards. Opening dozens of fairy crates individually isn't an effective use of time in the middle of a battle.
[X] Nice, neat, and clean, just like how the Academy taught you.
-[X] If things go south, or in an emergency, sacrifices have to be made - go for kills in that case.

[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch.”
[X] Flandre: "Break the gate before they start moving those transport blocks. Then move onto the mechs and turrets."
[X] Meiling: "Still up for punching things? Of course you are. And those troops are bags just asking to be hit."

I got the impression that AE seemed pretty familiar with the Gate technology, as he recognized it immediately. It's likely he got into Gensokyo using one already - there's no need to salvage it. Flandre can destroy it extremely quickly - we won't lose any of the fairies if she's fast enough.

On the other hand, we have been getting our asses kicked all night by the mansion residents, then started getting shot by mechs and I think we got electrocuted once too. I'm honestly surprised we're still on two feet, much less running around destroying enemy bases. Plus, our supplies have to be running low by this point - how much juice is in our suit, shots for our guns, etc? Of the three of us here, we're probably the most vulnerable, so we should take the (presumably) safest option of overwatch.

As far as I can tell, we seem to be in a hangar-sized room, so if Meiling runs through the middle to gather attention, we'll have the jump on the snipers and Flandre will have the cover to destroy the gate. We'll have to rely on Meiling's endurance until the gate is destroyed for Flandre to provide backup with the automated defenses. Of course, we'll be taking out key targets, but a sniper rifle probably won't help against something mechanical like the turrets.

tl;dr Meiling Tank, Flandre DPS, AE Support.
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A quick situational review, since you were wondering!

Ammunition is in decent supply, grenades of both types are running low, the suit has suffered severe damage to its frontal plating, the back is compromised via stab-hole (so no more GOD OF HELLFIRE shenanigans), and its power-supply is engineered to last for much longer periods of time than how long this operation has lasted. AE himself is definitely hurting, but pressing on regardless through a combination of conditioning, grit, and the suit itself doing its damndest to keep him upright.

As for the room itself, its dimensions need to be large enough to fit the Gate, with room to spare for other equipment. As such, hangar-sized is accurate.
[X] Aiming for non-lethal is optimistic, but honestly? People are going to die, and there's not much you can do about that. Go for disabling shots only when it's convenient.
[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch.”
[X] Flandre: "Break the gate before they start moving those transport blocks. Then move onto the mechs and turrets."
[X] Meiling: "Still up for punching things? Of course you are. And those troops are bags just asking to be hit."

I like this overall plan, it's pretty much what I was thinking after reading the update, but I'm feeling more pragmatic regarding lethality.
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[X] Nice, neat, and clean, just like how the Academy taught you. Well, as neat and clean as you can be when being the distraction.

[X] “I've got enough armor to take anti-tank shells on the chin; let me handle the ground troops.”
-[X] Distract and Suppress.

[X] Have Meiling disable the Snipers.
-[X] Then perform a FALLING EAGLE CRUSHES LION, a quick segue into WILDERBEAST DRINKS ALLIGATOR TEARS, and finish off with a well-placed SPINNING HEDGEHOG FRENZIES MOOSE.

-[X] Smash as much transport machinery as possible on the way there. Just in case.
-[X] But do it real sneaky an' cunnin' like, until you break the chappa'ai.
Best. Flandre. Ever.
Is there any doubt that she's going to drag AE back to the mansion after this is over and do the whole 'brought home a stray, can I keep him?' act by this point?

[X] Aiming for non-lethal is optimistic, but honestly? People are going to die, and there's not much you can do about that. Go for disabling shots only when it's convenient.
[X] “Flandre, toss me up to the catwalks; I'll deal with the snipers, grab a rifle, and give overwatch.”
[X] Flandre: "Break the gate before they start moving those transport blocks. Then move onto the mechs and turrets."
[X] Meiling: "Still up for punching things? Of course you are. And those troops are bags just asking to be hit."

And whatever wins, we should at least tell Flandre that the trigger is what makes the gun work, not to point it at stuff she doesn't want to shoot, and that it's not going to be effective against mechanical stuff.
...You know, as much as I love the XCOM-y aspects of this story, it just makes me miss XCOMmunist more.

[]Quick and clean
[]AE on snipers
[]Flan on gate
[]Meiling on cleanup duty

I figure that Flan would finish quick enough to help Meiling. Not that she needs it.
Called! AE is going to deal with the sniper infestation, while Meiling punches everything on the ground and Flandre works her special brand of destruction on the gate. All the while, they'll do their best to minimize casualties.


Just so you know, your Meiling and Flandre votes are absolutely amazing.
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I'm gonna try for a couple shorter updates as the action unfolds here, leave y'all with more choices.

“All right, here's the plan,” You say, pointing to the snipers above. “Flandre, can you throw me up to the catwalks?”

Flandre's grin stretches out far too wide for comfort. “Oh, yes.

“Good. After you do that, can you handle the gate before they start shipping people out?”

Flandre nods, raising a fist and clenching it.

“And that leaves me with the boys down here, eh?” Meiling asks, teeth bared in a humorless smile. “Heh, sounds like fun.”

“I wouldn't trust anyone else to work the punch magic,” You say. “However!”

“Oh, this oughta be good,” Flandre mutters.

“Fairies discounted, no one has died today, and that's not something I can truthfully say happens often when I'm around,” You say, firmly ignoring Flandre's grumbling. “It would be nice to get through a mission with everybody alive, for once. If you absolutely have to kill someone, though, do it.”

“I wouldn't lose any sleep over these morons, but I suppose it's worth a shot,” Meiling says.

“I do like a challenge!” Flandre says, her eyes lighting up. “And it means I get a danmaku shotgun!” She clasp a hand against her gun, and it glows brightly for a moment.

“Things would be so much easier if I could do that,” You dolefully say. “Anyway, even if your gun's non-lethal, let me give you a few pointers.”

The Gate flares to life as you say that, the portal like a floating wall of shimmering water.

“There's no time! Charge!” Flandre says, grabbing you by the arm and dragging you out of the elevator; you stumble along until the blonde hoists you up in her arms and pitches you towards the ceiling with complete disregard towards your bulk. As you fly, one thought dominates your mind.

Damn it, Flandre.

You coast over one of the catwalks as you hit the top of your arc, and as the half-a-dozen (uniformed and nigh-identical) snipers watch your flight in awe, you grab one of the surprisingly sturdy supports holding the walkways, swing around with a grace entirely at odds with your appearance, and land in front of an awestruck sniper.

“Holy sh-” She exclaims, right before your rifle-butt slams into her face. As she pitches backward, you snatch the ludicrously oversized rifle from her limp hands and bring the scope to your eye. Normally, dual-wielding an assault rifle and a sniper rifle would be manifestly impossible, but for you it's merely damn unwieldy.

“The hell is that?!” Another sniper shouts in panic, bringing her gun up to take a wild shot before you shred it with a well-placed bullet. More reports sound off, and a sidestep allows you to graze lead meant for your skull, leaving the projectile twisting by your eyes in slow-motion. Several more rounds slam into your suit with force monstrous enough to drive you back by inches, but a quick burst of retaliatory fire from your assault rifle sends a majority of the group scrambling away, leaving a lone marksman to blast away at you from a catwalk across.

“Smoke that fuck, boys!” He shouts, but his bravado fails him when you drop your sniper rifle and leap, soaring over the abyss to land directly in front of him. He manages all of a step back before your fist smashes into his helmet, and you follow it up with a swift boot to the knee, bending it backwards with a satisfying crack. As he collapses with a distinctly unmanly shriek, the sniper you disarmed pulls a makeshift digger from her belt and takes a running leap off her catwalk, jetpack boosting the gutsy woman over open air.

“Go down, you son of a bitch!” She roars, rocketing towards you with digger outstretched. You sidestep and twist, narrowly avoiding a stream of particles that would have straight-up melted your armor, and snare a hand around her foot as she flies past.

“FFFFFFF-” is the last thing to come out of her mouth before you swing her back the way she came; she collides with her original catwalk and pirouettes downward, where her fall is broken by a group of men charging Meiling.

Gunfire and shouts resound from below, only to be drowned out by the wailing of alarm klaxons and the crackling of loudspeakers. “Attention, all personnel! There has been a security breach in the Gate chamber! Heavy weapons are authorized!”

The rest of the snipers have scattered in three separate directions, getting as much distance from you as possible; they're well coordinated, two running while the furthest along lays down suppressing fire.

Instead of giving chase, you just grab the nearby sniper rifle and shoot.

One shot annihilates the rifle of the gunman on suppression duty, and you spin around to repeat the process on one of the runners about to return fire. Weapons destroyed, they wisely decide to take their chances by vaulting over the railings and free-falling; their jetpacks burst to life on the way down, and they touch down without any complications. The last gunman dives over the railing just as you take aim, but as he hovers down, Flandre pops out of cover to blast him. Brightly-colored pellets slam into the unlucky man and knock him spiraling into a loading crane, which he bounces off of and into Flandre's eager grasp.

As his screams echo throughout the chamber, you take a look at the carnage below. Meiling, burning bright with magic, is bludgeoning her way through a swarm of troops with gusto, each hit breaking bones or machinery. Troops and turrets out of range are dealt with by bolts of pure chi, which explode with catastrophic force.

Flandre, now that she's done swinging her unlucky prize around like a ragdoll, is avoiding the action as much as possible on her way to the Gate proper. She still indulges herself by grabbing any stray guards on their way to ventilate Meiling for the express purpose of putting the fear of Her into them, alongside sabotaging the conveyor belt wherever it proves convenient.

As they handle their respective jobs, you survey the rest of the room. With this vantage point, you've an excellent view of Meiling's ongoing rampage; she's currently swinging one unfortunate goon around by the legs as an impromptu flail, sending men flying with every hit, before she throws him into a squad and bowls them all over. While she does that, you take note of any useful cover- plenty of crates, other containers, and loading equipment scattered about- problematic targets, and finally the prisoner crates; there's a rough two-dozen, all packed and neatly ordered for pickup by the cranes. Your eyes slide over one cube in particular, but snap back as a discrepancy springs to light; the rest of the bodies in the cube are fairy maids, in generally appropriate dress.

One isn't.

Kyouko?” You whisper, brows furrowing, and barely stifle a curse as Remilia's words come back to you.

That first dropship the vampire destroyed had the surviving mechs take to the woods, also known as the only cover for miles that could be used by a crippled sparrow and the girl who hauled her along. You hurriedly scan the rest of the containers for any sign of Mystia, but there's no sign of her. Hopefully she's still topside; you don't need more complications.

With that distraction out of the way, you burn into reflexes and start picking off anything that could impede your people on the ground. Meiling needs it more than Flandre, as she's dealing with an entire swarm of zealous guards, whereas the blonde is proving to be remarkably good at staying out of sight.

On that heartening note, your rifle clicks dry after you blast a turret's barrel apart, so you shuffle over to the man whose knee you kicked in. He's rocking back and forth, clutching at his wrecked leg and whispering a rapid-fire stream of curses muffled through his helmet.

“What else do I have to break for you to hand me your ammo?” You ask, and he pauses to stare at you; you're unable to make out his expression through his cracked visor, but you're fairly sure it's malignant. He motions towards a pouch at his waist, so you liberate several magazines and slap the new rounds into your sniper rifle. “You've been a great help.”

He flips you off, but you ignore him and return to your perch. You take aim below, inhale deeply, and open fire, shredding weapons, exploding mechanical heads, and ruining turrets with each shot. Meiling doesn't slack off, either, throwing men and machines around like toys; no matter how hard the goons try, the woman is simply too fast for them to hit. Your shots are throwing them into disarray as well, throwing them into further disarray.

Since Meiling's doing a great job of things, you switch to Flandre, now standing in front of the gate proper. She flings her shotgun aside, brings a hand up, clenches it, and a sizable chunk of the machine simply explodes, metal flying everywhere. The portal itself blinks out of existence.

Flandre giddily jumps up and down, clapping her hands as scrap flies past her.

The troops on the ground fly into a frenzy at the sight, and some particularly inventive cursing drifts upwards. As a stream of guards split off to catch the vampire, a large open freight elevator rumbles onto the scene, bearing a dozen troops armored head-to-toe and toting matching heavy weaponry; the centerpiece of their formation is a hulking suit of red armor, easily three times your size, with what appears to be a gatling gun held in its one hand and a flamethrower in the other.

That's not bad at all, no sir.

As the dozen infantrymen fan out, covering each other and leaving the suit to take point, you sight in on the giant mech. It's on a direct course to Meiling, who, bleeding from several grazing shots but otherwise fine, is currently rushing from cover to cover to punch everyone even as bullets fly all around. Instead of letting the mech get to Meiling and potentially eviscerate her, you take several shots at it in rapid succession.

They spark off beautifully, but else do no damage.

“Well, damn,” You say, as the entire squad looks up at you. You fling yourself aside as a hailstorm of lead shreds the supports holding your catwalk aloft; the whole walkway shudders before falling completely.

“Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!” The wounded sniper cries out, as the two of you tumble through the air.

You've only got a few seconds before impact, so you're going to do something really stupid. You let go of your sniper rifle, fly over to the falling gunman, grab him, and spin around to hit the floor with your back.

And then your descent comes to a jarring halt.

You lie, stunned, for several moments, as the man rolls out of your arms and resumes swearing when he hits the floor. After you shake your head a few times and clear out the cobwebs, you jump upright, unsling your assault rifle, and point at the guard. “If you try to kill me after this, I'll break your spine.”

He's too busy cradling his leg to pay much attention, so you move to greet the squad converging on your position. There's enough crates and loading equipment around that leaves everyone with plenty of cover. You duck behind a loading crane and quickly peek around the base, revealing the enemy squad to be around fifty feet out. They're letting the mech lead their formation, and several of the infantry are splitting off to set up overwatch in spots that offer them clear lines of fire.

“Contact!” One calls out, voice distorted through his helmet's modulator, and you duck back just as a stream of bullets collide against your cover. “Surrender or die!”

You check your rifle over one last time, take a deep breath, and steel yourself for the worst.

All right, let's do this.

[X] It's time for a full blitz. Charge in, beat them so hard they'll be lucky to even twitch afterwards, pray to God that the mech doesn't open fire with its own men in the way, and dig straight through it when you get a chance.

[X] Draw them as far away from the rest of your team as possible; you can take these clowns on in a running gunfight any day, and you're fairly certain they don't have reflex boosters, either.


[X] Draw them as far away from the rest of your team as possible; you can take these clowns on in a running gunfight any day, and you're fairly certain they don't have reflex boosters, either.

I'm not sure if this will cause Big Red to follow us, but if possible, we should leave that to Flandre/Meiling and just draw the infantry group towards us. The high-caliber sniper rifle pinged off of its armor. I highly doubt we can do anything, best to leave it to those who can.

That just sounds like a bad idea.
[X] Draw them as far away from the rest of your team as possible; you can take these clowns on in a running gunfight any day, and you're fairly certain they don't have reflex boosters, either.

Let's deal with the enemies we can handle; maybe one of them has a weapon that can work against that mech.
[X] Draw them as far away from the rest of your team as possible; you can take these clowns on in a running gunfight any day, and you're fairly certain they don't have reflex boosters, either.
Are the prisoners in stasis or anything?
If not:
[x]Fire a shot at the container with Kyouko in it. Hopefully her screams can shatter the prison containers, and then not only will the prisoners be free, you'll have a massive cloud of fairies flying around and shooting everywhere you can use to take care of the enemy.
-[X] The makeshift digger the female sniper should also work, but it requires retrieval and proximity so a rifle shot is preferable.

No stasis, but they had been electrocuted repeatedly before being captured. So Kyouko might have had enough time to recover in order to SONIC BOOM everything, but there's just as good a chance she'll simply flop onto the floor and do her best impression of a dead fish.

Your call.

Also, you still have the Heavy Digger on hand, even if it's almost out of energy. It could probably tear through the mech's armor, too, but that involves closing for hand-to-hand with the giant bastard, and the sanity of that maneuver is debatable.
Considering no new votes are coming, I'll call it here and write. Wait warmly!

See you next year!

You gunna let him punk you like that?
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You go over your options as gunfire crashes against the machine standing between you and enough bullet holes to leave you looking like a modern-art piece named 'The Moron Who Was Too Slow To Dodge'. They're keeping their shots staggered, which gives anyone running dry on ammo a chance to reload without leaving you an easy opportunity to break out.

You could charge in, bust heads, and then melt Big Red's face off with the last of your digger's charge, but there's a very large chance the mech would melt you or shred you or just pick you up and break your everything. There's also the idea of giving into their demands and then executing a masterful ruse to leave them all reeling, but the holes in that plan are made evidently clear by just how many bullets are ricocheting off your cover. Even if you could get them to stop, there's no real advantage to exposing yourself to their combined firepower on the chance you could catch them off-guard.

Staying here isn't viable, either, since if they have any idea what they're doing, they've got men moving to flank you. If they send the mech your way instead, that's even worse.

So, you settle for the option least likely to result in your dying a horrible, painful death.

It's a crapshoot whether your flashbangs will work on the grunts; if their helmets are worth anything, they'll neutralize its effects easily enough. Still, the flash itself should at least slow them down for a second, which should be all you need. You unclip a bang, pull the pin, cook the fuse for a moment, and lob it overhead just in time to receive a a reciprocal present, the pineapple grenade bouncing off the top of the crane's base and landing at your feet.

“He's moving!” “Flash!” “Get down!” Several men cry out in rapid succession, as you burst from cover and dive for a line of crates. Multiple bullets slam into your side, and metal shrieks painfully as a gatling round shreds through the armor just above the nape of your neck. You hit the ground right as the flashbang detonates and hastily crawl ahead, taking advantage of the momentary reprieve. The frag grenade goes off a moment later, shrapnel ineffectually cutting against the back of your legs. You scramble up to a low crouch, sight in on a line of large metal boxes, and dash for the one nearest.

You burn into reflexes mid-run, twisting to squeeze bullets off at the squad hounding you; a goon takes the burst full on the chest, pitching back with a shout. One of his comrades drags him to safer ground as the rest ensure the air around you is filled with more bullets than oxygen, but you dive behind cover before catching too many shots.

Even over the bulletstorm smashing against the crate, the mech's voice rings clear.

“I HAVE COME TO DESTROY YOU,” It intones, voice deeper than a malfunctioning garbage disposal. You're already scrambling away when a burst of white-hot flame lances through the box and directly past the spot you'd so recently hidden.

And then it swings your way.

The strangled noise that flees your lips could adequately be summed up as “NYEEEEGH.

You scuttle ahead with the flames of Hell giving chase, hastily pull a flashbang loose, go through the rigmarole of pulling the pin one-handed, and lob it overhead. It detonates the moment you emerge from the other side of this row of crates, knocking into disarray anyone who'd thought to set up overwatch while the mech flushed you out. You spray bullets across the formation even as you bound towards the closest piece of cover; one man takes the brunt of the shots and goes down, while several others reel back from glancing hits.

Big Red, unaffected by such paltry tricks, turns your way, gatling gun whirring. You slide into cover with gatling fire and actual fire hounding you every step of the way. You pull an incendiary and lob it at the mech. It bursts alive mid-flight, but instead of watching, you pull a hard right through several stacks of crates high enough to stand behind, drop into a baseball slide, and skid to a halt at the edge of this row. When you peek out, the mech's almost completely unscathed by the incendiary, scorch marks the only indication it even hit.

What the hell is that thing's deal?

The answer to that question is delayed when one of the goon-squad, having evidently tested his parkour skills, drops from above to land boot-first on your head.

“Surprise, fucker!” He roars as the two of you tumble into a heap, taking advantage of his momentum to smash his rifle-butt into your much-abused helmet. He's pulling back for another hit when you drive a strength-boosted knee into his groin, which even his military-grade body-armor proves useless against. As he huffs in pure agony, you follow it up by grabbing his arm at the crook and giving it one smooth wrench, leaving it bent back at a ninety-degree angle and him screaming murder.

Then you punch him in the face.

He flies off, smashes into the crate he dived from, and collides face-first. You snare a hand around his heavy rifle as you jump to your feet, leaving you with twice the shooting power.

This is about when two more men burst past the same crate, weapons raised.

Everything slows down.

Their fingers tighten around the triggers, but you're already firing. Each man's rifle is blasted in critical positions by a pair of carefully calculated bursts of lead, leaving them with so much dead weight. The second it takes for this to sink in is long enough for you to charge, kick one's kneecap in, and elbow the other directly in the throat.

They crumple satisfactorily.

And then Big Red knocks the metal crate aside like styrofoam, its burning eyes glaring down at you as it raises the flamer.





This shit is stupid.

I like the idea behind the write-in, but I don't think we have any explosives on hand and I'm pretty sure that normal explosives just aren't going to cut it against this beast. I think we'd need something like a shaped charge to even hope to breach through his armor.

With that said, since the digger CAN melt through its armor, we can either use it to disable its mobility or, with considerably more risk, take it down with by applying it to a suitably lethal location. If we target the legs, we can potentially get away, but that's just a big diabolus ex machina waiting to happen if he comes back at the worst time.

Therefore, if it's what I'm thinking it is, my vote is for:
If possible, use the digger while riding the bastard to put him down.

It's proven that we can't escape from it, and with several of his infantry backup incapacitated, now is the best time to take him down for good.

You might say it's time to kick ass and chew bubblegum. What kind? Big Red, of course!

This plan is crazy, which means it will work. Too bad this red bull won't give us wings.
run "rodeobull.exe" -callflandre

Oh, you guys. Anyway, we can all see which way this vote is going, so I'm going to call it here and try to keep the update train a-movin'. Also!

>and collides face-first

Should've been collapses, sorry. (IT TAUNTS ME EVERY TIME I LOOK AT IT)
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Are we fighting a goddamn DREADNOUGHT from 40k?
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Accidentally posted this as a new thread the first time, a-whoops! Thank God for passwords!

As you and Big Red stare each other down, you revise your size-estimate of it from merely three times your size to four, which puts you roughly at its knee. You (very briefly) wonder whether you'd feel your flesh and organs burning away, or if everything would just end in a flash (ha ha) if that flamethrower hit you full-on, and then firmly resolve to not find out.

There's just the tiniest spark, and then white-hot flames lance out at you.

You dive between the mech's legs as fire sweeps overhead, cutting through the metal boxes behind you without any difficulty. As you get back up, the titan takes a long step forward, the better to give its torso room to swivel a full one-eighty and face you.


You're already bounding out of sight when the order comes, and hurtle around a bend just in time to avoid a burst of gatling fire. As the mech's footsteps follow, you haul yourself atop the tallest crate in this maze of boxes and crouch down. You set your heavy rifle aside and stow your compact rifle away in favor of the digger; a quick glance at the power gauge is less than promising, but you're lacking in other options.

Big Red backpedals into view; by the time its weapons track up to your position, you're already airborne, flames and bullets racing each other to grip you in their loving embrace, but you're just fast enough to outpace the turning ability of the mech's arms. Your hand brushes past the titan's face as you fly past, and then you're clinging to its upper back thanks to a helpfully-placed hunk of metal. You firmly brace your legs on its back, jam the digger barrel-first into the base of its neck, and pull the trigger.

“I AM BESET!” The mech says, distress and anger both seeping into its baritone as you start tunneling through its outer plating. The side of the outcropping you're clinging to opens up, and you're just about to flinch back when thin gray smoke explodes out from the compartment. You breathe a sigh of relief as the cloud washes over you, instead of bullets or some other countermeasure, but then a surge of electricity lashes out from the same compartment, dancing through the smoke and zapping the hell out of you.

A wordless groan escapes your lips, your grip faltering, but you force yourself to cling as hard as possible, powering through the copious shocks to keep digging. This state of affairs continues up until the point Big Red turns right and backpedals hard, smashing you against a stack of metal crates. The mech steps forward and slams itself back again, crushing you with devastating force, and sending dull pain ringing through your body; the problem with that is that you're well-accompanied by pain all over at this point, so it's just one more thing on the pile.

Your grim hold on the mech is faltering but, by God and Country, you're not letting go until someone makes you. The outer layer of armor has melted to nothing by this point, leaving you with an internal layer of plating to tunnel through. Multiple sets of feet pound nearby, and as Big Red slams you back again, the rest of the goon-squad arrives on the scene. Three men block the way left, another trio block the way right, and the last man has clambered atop one of the tallest crates for a better vantage point.

“BROTHERS, ASSIST ME!” Big Red says, and seven machine-guns add their power to the titan's cause. You grit your teeth, holding on through the shocks, the slams, and the bullets, as you try and get past those last fucking inches of plating---

“Hah!” You bark, armor giving way to wires that the digger greedily eats through. The mech stops dead, flamer and gatling gun falling from suddenly limp fingers, and it topples on its face with a mighty crash. You tumble off and hit the ground prone, holstering the nearly-drained digger (it wouldn't do to let anyone else get their hands on it) in favor of drawing your rifle free, the better to slap a new magazine into it.

The loss of their mech only serves to make the infantry angrier, their fire not letting up in the slightest. Using the wreck as cover from the four soldiers behind you, the three ahead are dealt hideously accurate return fire; two go down from taking a dozen shots each, and the third is sent reeling as he flees for better cover. The shots from behind you cease, and a quick peek over the titan reveals the rest of the squad to have disappeared. They're no doubt moving to flank at this very moment, so you pull yourself up using the mech as a handhold and step past its head. As you walk, your visor is displaying critically damaged areas of your armor, which is proving to be about every part of-

The mech's giant hand darts forward, wrapping around the whole of your left leg, and a simple tug brings you to the floor. You try to pry your leg free with your off-hand, but it's no good against the hellish strength being exerted.

“I DO NOT DIE SO EASILY, COALITION SCUM.” The mech says, a terrible glare fixed upon you as it rises up, dangling you in its grip like a child's stuffed doll. Lacking many other options, you unleash a full salvo directly into its face.

The bullets do absolutely nothing.

The titan deftly plucks the rifle from your hand and crushes it twixt thumb and forefinger. It glares at you for only a second more, and then it squeezes

everything goes


You hit the ground a few moments later, your entire leg sporting the consistency of finely puréed jelly. Blood leaks out through every part of the ruined mass of armor, spreading across the floor at an alarming rate. Through the pain, you think you can faintly make out the noise of someone screaming.

A few moments later is when you belatedly realize it's you.

The mech raises a foot in preparation to scrape you across the floor, and, without any further ado, the boot drops.

[X] Roll!

[X] Grab!

[X] Die!
[X] DIE!

It's a good day for someone to die. It just won't be us.
[X] Roll!

Today is not a good day to die. Tomorrow would be much better.
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Well shit. Punching those mooks must have made the game decide to hate us now.

Remember, you can't duck-dodge stomps and overheads! Gotta side-step or Roll.

...Our roll does have invincibility frames, right?
[X] Roll!

I don't think grabbing is the best idea right now.
And if we did grab his leg, I highly doubt we'll have the strength to do anything about it.
Hopefully we can buy some time for any reinforcements to arrive.
welp I wonder if he'll need Eirin to fix the leg. All of my kingdom for Flan to 'kuu' it.
[X] Roll!

Man, rolling with a jelly leg sounds AWFUL but seems like the best option among those presented.

I almost want to vote to the third option just to see what happens. Almost.
[X] Die!

I must know what happens in this option.

I'm hoping for a Flandre Interrupt.
[X] Roll!

>Hopefully we can buy some time for any reinforcements to arrive.
The problem is that the enemy might have help on the way as well...

>welp I wonder if he'll need Eirin to fix the leg.
Somehow, I think it's beyond her help at this point.
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Gonna call it here for ACTION ROLL, although DIE got more votes than the zero I was expecting.


>your entire post

>pic related


Remember, any hypothetical Eirin help requires you to actually live long enough to reach her in the first place!

>Gonna call it here for ACTION ROLL, although DIE got more votes than the zero I was expecting.

Put a vote option in spoilers and watch as some Anons vote for it like a moth drawn to the flame.

This post is coming from one of the people who voted for it.
It's like a Zerg Overlord lure.
>>59850 here.

>Remember, any hypothetical Eirin help requires you to actually live long enough to reach her in the first place!

I was thinking more along the lines of: what can Eirin do to fix THIS?
>your entire leg sporting the consistency of finely puréed jelly
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Eirin is the same person who made an elixir of immortality. Don't underestimate her.
It would be so easy to just lie back and let it happen. You've done your job, after all, and no more pain or fighting is starting to sound really appealing.

But at the same time, the prospect of unending blackness, or whatever's waiting for you on the other side, scares the hell out of you.

So you roll onto your belly, even with your ruined leg feeling like it's repeatedly being stabbed everywhere with butcher knives coated in white phosphorous. The titan's boot crashes inches away, shockwaves reverberating through you, and you bite back another scream as you look around for any way out. There's a small gap in the nearest row of crates you could squeeze through, so you crawl towards it as fast as your arms and good leg can push you, fighting through the blinding flashes of pain that accompany every movement. The wreckage of your armor is the only thing holding your ruined leg in its general shape at this point, and even then you're still leaving a slick trail behind you.

You prime an incendiary even as you crawl onward; relying on your land-speed alone is a losing proposition right now, after all. A glance over your shoulder reveals the mech's long arm reaching for you, so you roll onto your back and hurl the grenade up; it explodes right over the mech's head, and you can only assume some of the fire raining down lands within the exposed hole on its back, given how it freezes in its tracks. You don't wait for it to resume functioning as you flop back onto your belly and keep crawling, every inch gained with excruciating effort.

“MINOR DAMAGE SUSTAINED,” The mech says, brushing out the flames. While it's distracted, you keep crawling ahead, trailing blood every inch of the way. The gap to (relative) safety is within reach, now, so you twist atop your good leg, choke down the urge to yell in pain, and squeeze into the hole. The footfalls of the mech rumble behind you, the sound enough to propel you through with renewed vigor.

Once you pull yourself out the other end, you dare to look up; the titan looms above the wall of crates, glaring down at you. It hefts both gatling gun and flamer, but it's running into a bit of difficulty getting them over the crate. You stay very still as it tries to angle its guns downwards, but it finds no success. There's a deep rumble from the machine as its glowing eyes narrow at you.

“NO FIRING SOLUTION, RELOCATING,” It says, and it starts taking the long way around.

The sheer absurdity of the reason you're still alive is enough to make you laugh hard, although you're forced to stop after a moment as your various injuries assert themselves. Your vision is swimming hard and has white encroaching at the edges, you're getting lightheaded and dizzy, nausea is bubbling up your throat, and every little move you take hurts like a sonofabitch, but you're still breathing. As long as you've got even a miniscule chance left, you can't afford to give up.

Your ears prick up at the relative lack of noise; besides Big Red's footsteps, there's only scattered gunfire in the distance. Either Meiling and Flandre have annihilated most enemy resistance, or they've both been taken out. You swiftly dismiss the latter theory, or at least the part where they'd managed to take out Flandre, because it's manifestly ridiculous.

There's also the fact that there's no way you're getting out of here alive without their help, of course.

You shake your head in disapproval at that last thought. No sense being a defeatist about all this; you've had worse and lived, right?

The damned sensible voice in the back of your head points out that in those situations, you hadn't had an entire leg crushed into paste, you had quite a few people on backup, and you hadn't spent all day getting several kinds of shit kicked out of you.

Well, put like that, you're screwed.

“...I'm actually going to die here, aren't I?” You force out, looking up at the ceiling. It's a sobering thought. You knew your luck would run out eventually, but this wasn't at all how you envisioned it'd go down. Insurmountable odds finally take effect? Sure, you can deal with that. Getting your leg crushed by a giant robot, crippling you long enough for it to eviscerate you? Not so much.

Of course, every second you spend thinking about how you're going to bite it is another dozen feet the titan gains on you. Your crawl-speed might win medals at the Snail Olympics, but you're going to need to do a lot better than that if you want to avoid being stomped.

You manage to sort of flop against a crate before your jelly leg puts a definitive stop to your efforts, so you just slump against the box and think. All you're getting from your ruined leg is a lot of lost blood and agony whenever you move it. You're already down and out, but the last thing you need is to pass out from blood-loss.

Of course, that wretched little voice says, a properly applied burst of energy from the digger ought to cauterize the wound, leaving you with a stump that's not spewing blood everywhere.

A glance down reveals you've got the bare minimum amount of energy left in the digger.

Aw, fuck.

Aw, fuck.

You take a deep breath, grit your teeth, and pull the digger free.

Several sets of feet pound the ground nearby, and your field amputation is interrupted by the appearance of the remaining five members of the Goon Squad rounding the near corner as one unit.

“There he is!”

“Hands up!”

Oh, now they want to take you alive.

The squad is moving towards you at a decent pace, keeping their weapons up and formation staggered. You've got at least a few seconds before they reach you; plenty of time to get a surprise ready. Of course, just as you think that, Big Red stomps around the opposite end of this corridor, trapping you in a pincer move.


You shake your head fiercely, trying to dispel some of the fog encroaching in your mind. Now is probably the worst time to pass out.

[X] Pass out.

[X] They've got you cornered but good, so play along with their demands. Hopefully they'll think you're no threat, and it'll buy time for Flandre or Meiling to swoop in.



Blood and Thunder!
Let's show them how a MAN surrenders!
He doesn't.
Hellfire sounds like going out with a bang, a final hail mary with all remaining grenades, or venting superheated plasma from the suit - something that with AE's compromised mobility, is going to catch him as well.

Therefore, it's time for a [x] FLANDRE INTERRUPT

If we die, at least we die well. Hopefully, it won't come to that, though.
[X] They've got you cornered but good, so play along with their demands. Hopefully they'll think you're no threat, and it'll buy time for Flandre or Meiling to swoop in.

We're pretty screwed, and I'd like for us to try to get out of this alive. Let's just hope they want to take us alive for questioning, and that the others will come to the rescue.

May as well burn something while we wait for Flandre.
The suit is shot to hell and back at this point, so any GOD OF HELLFIRE shenanigans are as likely to damage AE as much as they would any enemies in the area. just FYI.

Fire, I'll take you to burn.
Fire, I'll take you to learn.
Fire, to end all you've become.
Fire, I'll watch you burn

Hot damn do I love that song.
the hellfire option might involve trying to trick the mech into firing on its allies.

Though where is everyone else? Hopefully someone gets back soon.
[X] They've got you cornered but good, so play along with their demands. Hopefully they'll think you're no threat, and it'll buy time for Flandre or Meiling to swoop in.
Calling it here for what promised to be an explosive next update!


I was just listening to that song when I went here and saw this post. Imagine my surprise!
[x] Pass Out
Obligatory anemia vote. Traditions must be observed. Not that MJC won't pass out from blood loss soon enough.

Apologies for late voting, even as irrelevant as my vote is.
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What does AE get as a belated Christmas present? MORE PAIN.

You let the digger roll from loose fingers; you won't need it for what you're about to do.

As your enemies approach, you try to conceal how you unclip all your remaining grenades, incendiary and flashes both, and thread your thumbs through each roll of pins. The moment you toss them is the moment everything turns into a blazing, blinding inferno, which just might buy you enough time to make an exit. Failing anything else, hopefully Meiling or Flandre will see it.

Heh. If you're going out, you're going out in style. Hideously painful style, but style nonetheless.

The goon squad reaches you first, the entire squad fanning out around you, but staying just out of reach. “Hands up!” The lead orders, but the only indication you give of hearing him is to list sideways slightly.

“Think he bled out?” Another man nervously ventures.

The lead glances at the speaker. “If he had, I don't think there'd still be more pouring out. Besides, I know I saw the fucker moving before we got here.” He turns back to you, motioning his rifle upwards. “Hey, asshole, hands up! I know you can hear me!”

You sag a little more, just to help complete the illusion.

“I'm pretty sure he's done.” A third man says, moving towards you. The squad lead grabs him by the shoulder as he passes by.

“Or he's fucking with us.” The lead says, not taking his eyes on you. “Watch, the moment you close in on him is when he'll leap up and snap your neck, or he'll explode, or some other bullshit.”

Everyone watches you expectantly, but you refuse to so much as twitch.

“You're sure about that?” The would-be investigator asks.

“I'm not taking the chance,” The lead says. “I mean, Christ! Look at his fingers! He's got them in the grenade pins! What the hell do you think is gonna happen when someone checks him out?”

“He pulls them all and we go up in a storm of fiery death?”

“Exactly! That's why we're going to just back up and shoot him if he tries anything, you got me?”

They're saved from further bickering when Big Red finally stomps into view, stopping to survey the scene before it.

“IS THERE A REASON YOU HAVE FALTERED, BROTHERS?” It asks. The mech's looming presence is drawing most people's attention save for the squad leader, but it's as good a shot as you're going to get.

Several pins hit the floor.

“He's moving!” The lead snaps, punctuating his words with gunfire straight into your ruined leg. You choke back another scream, but the pain isn't enough to stop you from hurling the bundle of grenades up at a carefully-calculated angle. Everything detonates; ear-piercing bangs and blinding flashes fill the air even as fire rains down on man and machine alike, swift and terrible and beautiful, and you snatch the digger even as you hurl yourself away. If you make it out from here, after all, you're going to need it.

“TO ME, BROTHERS!” The mech says, interposing itself between the reeling men and the fire above with alarming speed. As such, it's unable to give chase while you crawl for your life. Adrenaline and the prospect of fiery death propel you onwards, but you're not fast enough to avoid some of the flames raining down on you.

As flames seep into your leg and the hole in your back and through all the cracks in your plating, your entire world becomes pain.

It burns, and it burns, and it doesn't stop.

You don't even try to stop yourself from screaming, this time, but you keep pulling yourself onward, one arm at a time, fighting against the blackness as long as you possibly can.

God damn it, it just hurts









My vision snaps into focus, status reports running across my sight in the span of milliseconds. A swift review of the operation's video-logs stored in my databanks brings me up to speed, allowing me to take note of the allies my user had acquired and formulate a plan of escape based around their aid.

Speaking of my user, he is currently lying in a charred, bleeding heap on the floor, and if he suffers much more damage, his death will be assured. This is unacceptable, and not only because I would be forced to self-destruct if his heart-rate flatlines. As for my user's destroyed leg, the flames have cauterized the worst of the damage, so while it is still dead weight, I am able to save the digger for other purposes.

More pressing at the moment are the enemy forces several dozen yards behind me. My user's gambit served well enough to slow their pursuit, but the titan's swift intervention prevented any casualties. The fire on the ground is fading rapidly, and with the flashbangs wearing off, pursuit is inevitable. Odds of survival if they reach me approach nil.

It is a simple matter to stand upright with the support of a crate, even with one leg destroyed, and I limp along as quickly as I can. I make it several steps before bullets start flying after me, glancing off for the most part. A glance back reveals the entire force giving chase, at a pace that far exceeds my own.


I pull myself around a corner and press up against the wall, calculating my next move, when a weight drops onto my shoulders. Looking up reveals a grinning Flandre with her legs wrapped around my neck.

When did you get there?” I ask, my voice synthesized and distorted.

“After your big fireworks show, how could I not?” She says, rocking left and right without a care as to her balance. “So, how ya doin', big guy?”


She leans ahead to take stock of my condition, and whistles at the sight. “I'll say! How are you even standing with that leg of yours?”

It is not easy.”

Her brows furrow. “Okay, you sound like you really need some cough-drops.”


She pats me on the helmet. “Right! Just hold tight while I deal with the guys about to mulch ya, and then I'll see what I can scrounge up!”

With that, the vampire kicks off my back and flies around the opposite corner. Several seconds later, I peek down the corridor I fled, revealing the pursuit team to be dangerously close.

And Flandre is swooping in from behind them.

“I'm comin' to getcha!” She roars, drop-kicking the giant's back with enough force to send it toppling forward.

“WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?!” The mech booms, catching its fall even as the infantry scramble away from the machine threatening to crush them.

“It's magic, everyone! Magic!” Flandre shouts joyously, flinging her arms and spinning around, red lasers and magical bullets flying everywhere and absolutely coating the entire corridor. The infantry put on an admirable attempt to shoot her down before the waves upon waves of bullets smash them into the floor, but the mech refuses to go down so easily.

“AWAY FROM ME, FOUL WITCH!” The machine boom, rolling over to smash Flandre with its gatling gun. She catches the weapon in both hands, and fixes the machine with an exuberant grin.

“And away you go!” She says, and with a flip sends the entire mech flying dozens of feet through the air as if it were made of styrofoam. It falls out of sight with a massive thud, and Flandre dusts her hands off in satisfaction.

I had not thought it possible for a machine to feel fear.

I stand corrected.

I limp out into the corridor proper, and Flandre touches down in front of me, still grinning widely.

That was... impressive,” I say.

“Haven't lifted something that heavy in years,” Flandre says, swinging her arms back and forth.

What happened to your firearm?” I ask.

“I broke it over some guy's head,” She says, giving a dismissive wave. “So, you wanna throw me at anyone else who needs their faces punched in, because I can totally go do that!”

I look up, buying a few seconds of peace to formulate my next objective as the vampire bounces from foot to foot.

[X] Priority objective: Elimination of enemy command structure.

[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.

[X] Priority objective: Target abduction: Flandre Scarlet.
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.

This is what we came here for, is it not?
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.
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[X] Priority objective: Target abduction: Flandre Scarlet.

Even though this is likely pissing against the tide, we mustn't forget our primary objective all along. It would truly solidify AE as the ultimate next-gen operator.
pic related, this thread in general.
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.
I was wondering when our original objectives were going to become relevant again.
[X] Priority objective: Target abduction: Flandre Scarlet.

go go go go
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.
We're in no condition to accomplish our primary objective. How the fuck is he gonna do that?

Besides, leaving his companions to fend for themselves? That's not our MC.

...maybe later though.
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.

We're in absolutely no condition to do anything else.
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.

That is the main goal above all else, that and if Flandre (or hte rest of the SDM for that matter) Learn that AE's still trying that, it won't end well.
[X] Priority objective: Target abduction: Flandre Scarlet.

fuck yeah
[x] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.
[X] Priority objective: Emergency evacuation of all Mansion forces.

We're not really in any condition to be doing any abducting.
Calling it here for bugging right out, folks. Next update's probably gonna be delayed as I finally get off my lazy ass and work on that story I've got in mind for the Winter Writing Contest, so I'm just gonna apologize ahead of time for that.
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I strongly consider the merits of drawing the Arc Thrower and unloading both remaining charges into the target ahead of me, but that desire is tempered by the fact that attempting it in my current state would likely lead to a swift, violent termination. Perhaps I can organize an ambush via comms once we escape, but until then, I will continue to play the role of staunch ally.

“Prioritizing the rescue of all captured forces seems prudent,” I say, resting my considerable bulk against a stack of crates.

“And you plan on doing that when you're half-dead.” Flandre says, flatly.


“Well, they'll keep for a bit. I promised you some cough drops! Or at least a lozenge.”

With that, Flandre begins tearing through metal crates as if they had all the durability of wet tissues, metal screeching as the girl rends it apart with her bare hands.

I am suddenly very glad I decided against attempting to incapacitate her.

Flandre indulges her whim for a few moments before I note some of the floored soldiers are starting to stir. “Flandre,” I say, gesturing towards them.

“You'd think they'd have something here,” Flandre says, cheerfully ignoring me as shredded metal flies wherever she goes.

“Flandre?” I say, somewhat urgently.

“Yeah, yeah, hold on!” She says, waving a hand back without bothering to look at me.


That gets her to pause in the middle of disemboweling yet another box, the better to shoot me a cross look over her shoulder. “What?”

“I will be fine for now,” I say. “Rescuing your own people before more enemy reinforcements arrive is the more immediate concern.”

“Are you implying you don't think I could take 'em?” Flandre says, eyes narrowing into slits.

“Also I may very well bleed to death if we linger,” I say, knowing full well that it is not the case.

Flandre blinks once, twice, an abashed expression crossing her features. “Oh. Um.”

“That would be bad,” I add, after a few moments pass.

The blonde's face flushes bright red, providing a remarkable contrast with her hair. “Yeah, that would be, wouldn't it?”

“Quite. Now, aerial egress to Meiling is a sound first step towards our retreat,” I say, and Flandre nearly leaps on the chance to make right with me by leaping on me.

“Seriously, who talks like that?” She says, poking me in the visor. I'm not given time enough to answer before she hauls me up by the armpits and takes skyward, or at least ceiling-ward. Bullets fly after us, as befitting the obvious target we make, but Flandre jukes aside and twirls past anything coming close, as if she weren't carrying precisely three-hundred pounds of metal, not counting the man entombed within it.

Not that there are that many bullets flying in the first place, considering the havoc Meiling and Flandre both had wrought that I can clearly see from up here. The few men firing at us are scattered throughout the chamber, and are vastly outnumbered by the bodies, man and machine alike, littering the ground in droves. The giant mech Flandre so easily tossed away is sprawled prone opposite us at the far edge of the chamber, although it is supremely unlikely that monstrous construct will stay down.

Meiling herself stands amongst a veritable pile of bodies near the ring of prisoner cubes, guards groaning and clutching at themselves, mechs sparking. The woman herself has more bullet-holes than she started out with, but they don't seem to be bothering her too much, given how she's punching holes in cell-blocks and pulling their occupants to freedom.

The fairies, dozens upon dozens of them, lurch around unsteadily, but at least they're capable of upright movement. Whether their swift recovery is due to their unique physiology or something else, I am unsure. Still, they have not regained full control over their motor functions, given how they keep flopping over and onto each other.

It's when Meiling has destroyed the last such cell that Flandre touches down behind her, letting me stumble to the ground of my own volition. I grab a rifle and ammunition from the hands of an unconscious soldier as Flandre bounds over to Meiling and jumps atop her back, wrapping her arms around the gatekeeper in a firm hug.

“Meiling! This is so fun!” Flandre says, squeezing Meiling tightly enough to bring her to one knee.

“Fl-ghk,” Meiling chokes out, and Flandre squeaks as what she's doing sinks in, hopping back off before she actually does strangle Meiling.

“If you are done attempting to break your gatekeeper's neck, we have work to do,” I say.

Meiling, free from Flandre's monstrous grip, wipes a trickle of blood out of her eyes. “What's up with your voice?” She asks, raising one brow.

I straighten up as much as I am able, and thump a fist against my chest in salute. “AE-51262 has been incapacitated by his injuries. To ensure our continued survival, I have assumed control until he regains consciousness.”

“And he didn't seem off to you immediately, Flan?” Meiling asks, giving Flandre a sideways look.

Flandre blinks, guilelessly. “I thought he just really needed something for his throat.”

Meiling rolls her eyes, turning her attention back to you.“So just who are you?”

I relax my posture, resting my new rifle atop my shoulder. “My official designation is classified, but I am the suit's onboard A.I.”

“...And?” Flandre says.

“And?” I ask, my poise faltering just slightly.

“Well, we can't just call you 'Suit' or “A.I.' all the time,” Flandre says, frowning. “It's not even a good name!”

“Is a debate over nomenclature absolutely necessary at this juncture?”

Flandre folds her arms in a huff. “I'd say!”

If I had eyes, I would roll them. “If it will stop this idiocy, then referring to me as AE is fine. Now, I recommend a rapid evacuation of all captured forces, followed by swift retreat.”

“Yeah, about that?” Meiling says, gesturing towards all the maids scattered around. “I don't think they're going far on their own feet. Er, wings. Whatever.”

A fairy stumbles against me, and the very first maid my user had met upon breaching the mansion stares up at me, eyes shrinking into tiny pinpricks. “Oh god no why you.”

I put a finger on her forehead and push her away. “Shoo.”

She's all too happy to comply, turning about-face and walking straight into Meiling.

“You see what I mean?” Meiling says, as the fairy collapses.

I ignore her, scanning around for a particular target. The fairies, at least, are managing a better job of locomotion than Kyouko, who lies propped-up against against one of the destroyed cell-blocks. The side of her face is marred by electrical burns, no doubt from the Arc shot that took her down.

In her current state, she would only be a burden, and she is also unimportant to any mission objectives. As such, she could be left behind with no repercussions. However, my user would likely be very displeased with this course of action, considering he has formed a solid working relationship in the short timespan the two have known each other.

In conclusion, leaving her behind would be unacceptable.

I limp over, and she shifts slightly when I reach her.

“AE?” She mumbles, half-focused eyes blinking rapidly as she takes me in. “How did-?”

“Unimportant. I am here,” I say, kneeling down on my good leg. “How were you captured? Where is Mystia?”

Her lips curl upward a fraction of an inch. “They got me. Only me. Managed that much for her.”

“That is good, then,” I say; carrying two people would severely impede my shooting capabilities. “Shall we go?”

Kyouko feebly offers a hand, one I firmly grasp. I rise and pull her up with me, but she collapses against my chest the moment we're both upright, my grip the only thing stopping her legs from giving out beneath her. So, lacking in many other options, I pick her up. There are a few moments of ungainly repositioning before I end up carrying her in such a fashion that I still have my newly-acquired rifle at the ready.

“D'aww,” Flandre says, ineffectually covering a smile with a hand. “You two are so cute together!”

“This is an inappropriate situation for mirth,” I say, flatly.

“Head hurts, noise is bad, hush,” Kyouko grumbles, hugging me with as much strength she can muster.

“Who's your friend?” Meiling asks.

“I will tell you later. Let us move before-”

“VENGEANCE WILL BE MINE!” The giant mech bellows, upright at last, pointing our way in an accusatory fashion. It hefts a series of crates bound together as a makeshift cudgel, and begins stomping our way.

“That happens,” I say, finger slipping past my rifle's trigger guard. ”A word of advice? Run.”

And Flandre just laughs, loud and sharp and unhinged. The fairies all freeze up as one, and back away from the blonde with remarkable alacrity. Meiling does no such thing, although her face grows a great degree paler. Kyouko merely shrinks against my chest.

“Nah, you guys go on ahead, I'll clobber him good,” Flandre says, teeth bared in an extremely wide smile. “Or, y'know, you can stay and gimme a hand, but I don't think I'll be needing that. Like, at all.”

“Um, you really want to take it on alone?” Meiling asks, clearly hoping the answer will be 'Yes.'

“What did I just say?” Flandre asks, tongue darting across her lips in anticipation.

Meiling shoots me a wide-eyed look. “Maybe we should go.”

“Maybe you should!” Flandre says, fingers twitching.

[X] Flandre, do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!

[X] Flandre, do you know what's more important than killing the giant robot? Running away. Everyone, retreat!

[X] If everyone converges on the giant monster robot at once, victory is probably assured. Charge!

[X] Flandre, do you know what's more important than killing the giant robot? Running away. Everyone, retreat!
[X] Flandre, make clones of yourself do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!
[X] Flandre, do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!
[X] Flandre, make clones of yourself do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!

I like this thinking.
[X] Flandre, make clones of yourself do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!

Flandre! It is time to use That!
[X] Flandre, do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!

Don't the individual clones get weaker when she splits up? I mean it is Flandre, but still.
[X] Flandre, make clones of yourself do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!

I don't care how powerful she is, I have a really bad feeling about having Flandre stay down there alone.
[X] Flandre, do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!

Flan mode has been engaged. All personnel, withdraw to minimum safe distance.

[X] Flandre, make clones of yourself do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!
Called! There's going to be some clone action all up in this next update.

There's a safe distance?

[X] Flandre, do the thing! Everyone else? LEG IT!
File 139096212815.jpg - (693.51KB, 950x1100, GUESS WHAT TIME IT IS.jpg) [iqdb]
“Flandre!” I say, a better idea on the tip of my metaphorical tongue. “We need you to safeguard our retreat. Split your clones off to deal with that enemy.”

“I- oh, right, that's a thing I can do. Hm,” Flandre shrugs, her previous instability fleeing in the face of this new idea. “Y'know, it's not quite the same as doing it myself, but I guess you guys do need me.”

Light flashes, and another Flandre bursts free from the original. The clone gives us a perky salute. “Ready for duty!”

“Try not to suck!” The original Flandre says, and the clone kicks off the ground to greet the charging mech.

“I believe I said clones, plural,” I say.

“Look, man, you're not the one splitting off half your power to make another you, all right?” Flandre says, giving me an annoyed look.

“You think she can pull it off alone?” Meiling asks.

Flandre slaps Meiling right on the shoulder sporting a bullet-hole, and cheerfully shakes the woman about. “Meiling, really, you should have more faith in me!”

“I will strangle you,” Meiling hisses.

“This nonsense has lasted long enough,” I say. “Flandre, lead the way. Everyone else, form up behind her. We will ride the freight elevator.”

The swarm of fairies mill about hesitantly for a moment, before Flandre snaps a finger and flashes everyone a thumbs up. “You heard the guy! Stick with me and I'll keep you alive!”

With that, Flandre marches ahead, the groggy mob giving chase. I limp after her, careful not to jostle my passenger too badly, and Meiling falls in step besides me, her stride only slightly hindered by her numerous wounds.

“So, big guy, how'd you get your leg wrecked?” She asks, watching me from the corner of her eye.

“Titan crushed it,” I say. “Blood loss, and AE's ensuing cauterization of the wound, was what incapacitated him.”

Kyouko peels her head from my chest to look up, squinting hard enough that mere slits of eye peer out at me. “Was wondering how he got so messed up, 'A.I.'

“So you overheard my initial conversation with Meiling,” I say.

Kyouko tweaks one of her floppy ears. “Howd'ya figure?”

“Your ears are well designed for-”

Kyouko's limp slap rebounds off my faceplate. “Rhetorical question, genius.”

Flandre stumbles mid-stride, only to spin around on a heel, grinning widely. “Ahahaha, look!” She says, pointing behind us. I look back in time to see the titan swing at the copy Flandre with its improvised club, only for the blonde to catch it and wrestle with the machine for control.

“Wrecka-his-face!” Our Flandre calls out, pumping her fists. “I know you can do it, me!”

“How did you know that was about to happen? I ask, as the titan swings at the clone with its free hand.

“Because she's me, duh.” Flandre says, not taking her eyes off the spectacle. Copy-Flandre meanwhile, has just caught the titan's punch with her other hand, holding both cudgel and fist at bay with equal ease.

“You share a mental link?”

Flandre snaps her fingers. “Ex-freakin-actly!”

“So,” Kyouko says, peering at the battle in the distance. “What would've happened if you went out there and got squashed?”

“Well, first it'd really hurt, but then I'd be back up and ready to go!”

“And then you'd go on a murderous rampage from all the bloodloss,” Meiling says. Flandre glares at her, but the redhead refuses to back down. “What? What? S'true!”

“...Yeah, you're right,” Flandre says, anger rushing out as fast as it came. “Not that I'm against a good rampage every now and again, mind you!”

The creaking of metal redirects everyone's attention back to the fight, where the clone Flandre has given up all pretenses of fair play in favor of swinging the mech around via its club.

“She appears to have it under control,” I say, moving ahead. This galvanizes everyone else into action, and Flandre once again takes the lead. The walk to the elevator is free from complications, leaving me to watch the ongoing brawl. I chose perhaps the best moment to look back, as the clone Flandre had chosen this moment to let the titan fly. It soars through the air once again, crashing through the wreckage of the Gate and tumbling through more shipping material.

“Why has she not destroyed it already?” I ask.

“Because it wouldn't be fun if it was over quick, silly!” Flandre says.

I shake my head. “Foolishness.”

Before I can say more, we reach the elevator. A quick scan reveals no enemies lying in wait, and Flandre immediately begins pulling fairies onto the lift.

“All right, everybody, load up, we're getting out of here in one go or not at all!” She says. Some of the better-off fairies are opting to hover above the rest, allowing Flandre to keep pushing and shoving more aboard, packing them together tightly as circuits inside a computer casing.

Any further musings are interrupted when a rogue soldier erupts from behind a nearby stack of crates.

“Catch this shit, motherfuckers!” He shouts, warcry heralding the arrival of a grenade sailing overhead. Flandre catches it without even bothering to look up, and effortlessly crushes the explosive into scrap. Everyone present stares at the unfortunate trooper, save Flandre, who is content to continue shepherding fairies onto the lift.

“Fuckin' A,” He says, holding his hands up and backing away. “Can I have a mulligan?”

“Unless that means I get to blow you up, no,” Flandre says, entirely focused on the task at hand. “Now go on and shoo, before I really lose my temper!”

The soldier wisely takes this opportunity to flee while Flandre is still busy. She finishes hauling the last of the fairies onto the elevator, leaving the platform almost filled to bursting, and hops aboard herself. While she pushes for the lift controls, Meiling jumps on and pulls me up.

“Please keep all your limbs and wings inside the elevator, people!” Flandre says, and with that she punches the up button so hard it shatters. The elevator rumbles to life, klaxons blaring as it ascends. Flandre floats up until she's head-and-shoulders above the crowd, and showily gestures the way we came. “Now, if you'll just sit back and relax, we've got mid-ride entertainment, courtesy of me!”

On the shrinking ground below, vampire and titan roll around on the ground, crushing all that is unfortunate enough to be in their way. Scattered troopers lend their fire to the titan's aid, too distracted by the vampiric whirlwind of pain to care about us.

Meiling snaps a finger to catch our Flandre's attention. “So, Flan, provided your clone wins, you're gonna just reabsorb her, right?”

Flandre shakes her head excitedly. “Nah, I got a plan for her. It involves explosions!

Damn my ears,” Kyouko mutters, disconsolately. “Damn them straight to hell.”

The ride goes in relative peace while the room below is torn apart by Flandre's brawl. Men scatter whenever either of the combatants draw near, none willing to risk being crushed. The clone flashes brightly, and another Flandre bursts from her, swooping down to deal with the riflemen harassing her.

“Considering we still have alarms going off, what are the odds we've got a bunch of guys waiting at the top of the lift?” Meiling asks.

“Guaranteed,” Flandre says, teeth bared in a self-assured grin.

“Yaaaaaaaaaay,” Kyouko says, waving a hand in the saddest display of enthusiasm I have ever witnessed.

The ride goes on in peace, and the elevator eventually rumbles to a stop in a loading bay. We are immediately greeted by the approximately two-dozen guards entrenched behind tables and boxes and other sundry items piled in front of the elevator as a makeshift barricade, blocking the only doorway out. The bristling array of weaponry pointed our way, consisting of rifles and sub-machine guns and, in one especially foolhardy soldier's case, a rocket-launcher, is enough for all the fairies to back up, leaving Flandre alone at the edge of the lift, arms crossed.

“Sup?” Flandre asks, utterly fearless. “Which one of you's in charge here?”

The rocketeer flips his helmet's visor open, the better to glare at us. “We have enough firepower trained on you to eviscerate anyone wanting to break for it. Put your hands up and get on your knees!”

Flandre squints at the soldier in question. “I should be the one telling you that, you know?”

“I told you to put your hands up!”

“See, here's what I don't get!” Flandre says. “You go through all the trouble of kidnapping a bunch of fairies, but if you shoot us, they'll all just go poof!” She spreads her arms wide. “I dunno, that just seems like a questionable business decision.”

The soldier flips his visor back down. “This is your last warning!”

“All right, all right,” Flandre amicably says, raising her hands above her head. Crimson orbs of magic instantly form in her hands, and she flings them down so quickly her arms are simply up one moment, down the next.

The soldiers don't even get a chance to shoot before the orbs hit the ground.

Everything in front of the elevator explodes with the fury of a cruise missile, men and barricades both flying back and smashing into the walls, in that order. Wood and metal break apart against the soldiers, pulverizing the entire squad, and they all peel off the wall to collapse on their faces.

“...Ow,” One soldier says, the rest echoing agreement.

“Impressive,” I say, limping to Flandre's side. This close, I can make out droplets of sweat forming on her brow.

Kyouko, eyes wide, raises a hand, and Flandre slaps it.

“That was great and all, Flan, but we really oughta keep going,” Meiling says, pulling everyone out of the moment. The fairies move onward with renewed spirits from Flandre's display of might, trampling over wreckage and bodies without a care. Meiling and I fall into step beside Flandre. As we walk, I note the hallway is large enough for the titanic mech to stand in, with room to spare. This works to our advantage, given how many fairies trail behind us.

“So, AE, thoughts?” Flandre asks, breath slightly ragged.

“If my approximations are correct, this corridor should lead us into the hangar bay,” I say. “We will likely face heavy resistance; expect fire support from their dropship, in addition to ground troops.”

“Comes down to it, I'll handle them,” Flandre says, voice tremulous.

Meiling frowns. “How're you holding up, Flan?”

Flandre pauses to wipe her brow before replying. “Splitting power three ways isn't doing me any favors,” Her grin returns, albeit lessened. “Don't worry about it, all right? Even if I was at quarter-strength, these peons got jack on me.”

“All that being said, I don't think barging straight into the room where they have everyone on high alert is the best idea,” Meiling says. “All we have to do is get upstairs and get out the way we came in, right?”

“Considering the size of our party, that is easier to say than do.”

“I really don't want to cap off the day by getting shot,” Kyouko says. “Just, y'know, if anyone was wondering.”

We round a sharp corner, only to find a featureless intersection ahead. A look down each corridor reveals nothing but more turns.

“Geez, I hate blind choices,” Flandre says, scowling fiercely. “For all we know, going left gets us all swallowed up by a pit trap, and going right gets us a giant pile of gold.”

“You forgot the part where going straight gets us all killed,” Kyouko says.

There's a soft clearing of a throat behind us, and a blonde fairy markedly steadier on her feet steps forward. “Begging your pardons, everyone, but I think you've forgotten the rest of us. Me and a few of the girls'll scout ahead, if you'll allow it.”

“You do realize that leaves us stuck here until you come back, right?” Meiling asks. “Not to mention we'll have no way of helping you out if someone catches you off guard.”

“What'chu talkin' about?” Flandre asks; one last clone leaps from her chest, rolling across the ground and springing upright. “You got me on your side! I'll handle this.”

The fairy dips her head. “I can't find any fault in that, Mistress.”

“I can,” I say. “Waiting for our scouts to report back gives the enemy more time to find us.”

“And I just realized I don't care! Everyone shut up and look pretty, we'll be right back,” One Flandre says, and each one takes off down a hallway at a blistering pace. The fairy maid sighs in relief, fading back into the crowd.

It's a quiet half-minute until both Flandres swoop back in, skidding to a halt side-by-side.

“Okay, so, what've you got?” The right one asks, gesturing at her copy.

“You first!” Left Flandre says.

“No, no, you! I insist!” Right Flandre says.

Left nods. “Well, all right! Down there looks like some sort of... well, it looked like the inside of that one ship I jumped into, with all the panels and buttons everywhere. Go ahead, other me!”

Right straightens her posture, folding her hands behind her back. “Flew up some stairs, punched a guy, went on a bit. They've got folks running around up there, but I got a good look at their setup in the hangar before they could see me. It's not too bad yet, but I'm sure they'll get really dug in if we let 'em. If we're taking the direct route, I'll blast everyone from the second floor, let you guys charge in through the front and wreck 'em while I keep their attention.”

“Taking out the majority of the enemy would allow us an easier escape,” I say. “The danger, of course, lies in assaulting an entrenched position.”

“I don't really know what to make of the place I saw,” Left says, shrugging apologetically. “Maybe you could do something there, AE?”

“Possible communications room. Valuable intelligence to be gathered, but the time taken would allow the enemy to fortify.”

“And then there's the stairs,” Meiling says. “Gotta say, I'm all for getting out of here as fast as I can. We won't exactly be stealthy, though, with this many people. Got a recommendation, AE?”

“Insufficient data,” I say. “Calculating...”

“Please let it be the stairs, please let it be the stairs, please let it be the stairs,” Kyouko frantically whispers, squeezing her eyes shut.

[X] Left! (Control room?)


[X] Right! (Stairs!)

I liek Shakespeare.
[X] Right! (Stairs!)

Flandre plans to cause lots of explosions when other her is done down below. That means it's time to HAUL ASS!
[X] Left! (Control room?)
[X] Right! (Stairs!)

Everybody is on their last legs. Some more than others. It is really, really time to get out of dodge.
This is a golden opportunity to get some valuable intel on the guys we're fighting. (as far as I know, this hasn't been adequately explained yet). Plus, if we're lucky, we can find some way to sabotage things, maybe sending false reports to the men in the hangar to get them out of position.
However, nearly everyone is wounded, exhausted or both. It'd be much better to follow Meiling's advice and evacuate ASAP.

[X] Right! (Stairs!)

I might suggest splitting up with everyone going to the stairs but sending AE/AI to the control room (as he'd have a better grasp on their tech and everyone else would be useless) to maybe sabotage things to promote their escape. But if we did that, we'd basically be fucked with no to escape ourselves. I can dig a heroic sacrifice, but it'd probably be a better idea for us to survive to complete our mission objective and capture Flandre later.
[X] Right! (Stairs!) 
I'd have called this earlier, but I was busy. Emergency evacuation is a go.
File 139164907652.png - (235.54KB, 750x750, the rockets are powered by adorableness.png) [iqdb]
“Considering our current health levels, any detour at this juncture proves inadvisable,” I say. “Much as I would prefer to gather intelligence on our enemies, escape takes priority. To the stairs, everyone.”

“Yes.” Kyouko whispers, pumping her fists.

“Roger that,” Right Flandre says. “I'll go cause a ruckus at the front, try to distract them for a little while so everyone can sneak by.”

Left Flandre claps her on the shoulder. “That's both brave and incredibly stupid.”

Right Flandre works her knuckles over. “I'll clobber 'em good. Just gimme a bit to backtrack and get something, all right? You guys'll know when I'm hitting them up.”

“Oh, well, that's not foreboding at all,” Kyouko says.

“You heard the Mistress!” Meiling says, studiously ignoring Kyouko. “Let's get out of here!”

After dipping into a showy curtsy, Right Flandre starts towards the hangar, leaving the rest of us to head for the stairs. We climb them in short order; it is more than awkward hopping up the stairs one at a time, but Meiling is kind enough to aid me with each step. When we reach the top, we meet a soldier leaning against a wall, one hand pressed to his head. He takes one look at our procession and immediately flings his arms up.

“No, we're cool! You don't have to-” He says, only for Flandre to lay him out once again.

“That never gets old,” She says, absently rubbing her fist as everyone continues onward.

The group continues until the corridor pulls a hard turn, and a peek around the corner reveals it opening up into what is presumably the hangar proper. Presumably, because a cadre of soldiers have set up at the spot where the corridor ends. Several men hurriedly wheel tables and crates up to form a makeshift barricade, while the rest keep their weapons trained down the corridor.

“While I must give them credit for such rapid fortification, the route is still blocked,” I say, ducking back.

“No, really?” Kyouko says, flatly.

“Flan, now would be a really good time for you to come through with that distraction,” Meiling asks, laying a hand on Flandre's shoulder. The redhead promptly recoils as the girl's frame is wracked with a sudden fit of giggles.

“Ooh, you devil,” Flandre says, wiping tears of mirth from her eyes. “This is gonna be awesome!”

Before I can ask what she means, an explosion rings out in the hangar, which is promptly reciprocated by a withering amount of gunfire.

“Come get some!” The clone roars, barely audible over all the bullets flying.

“Now's our chance!” Meiling half-whispers, urgently motioning everyone forward. “Flandre, break 'em!”

“Gladly!” Flandre says, barreling around the corner and towards the barricade without missing a beat. I lean out after her just as the guards open fire, several bullets smashing against me and causing Kyouko to yelp, before I unleash a salvo that forces them to duck behind cover. This buys Flandre time enough to reach them, where she tears straight through their wall and immediately begins swinging men around like dolls.

“Move up, move up, move up!” Meiling says, motioning everyone forward as Flandre puts her unique bludgeoning skills to work.

A glance down reveals Kyouko's face to be icy-white. She looks up at me, and a slightly mad giggle escapes her lips as she holds up a strand of freshly-severed hair. “I want to walk.”

“...That would be wise.”

Once I let her down, Kyouko stumbles against a wall and uses it as a support. I walk beside her, two cripples limping along as everyone else vastly outpaces us.

“So, this has been pretty much the worst day ever,” Kyouko says,

I nod. “AE would likely agree with you.”

Kyouko glances at me from the corner of her eye. “Yeah, about him? I really have no idea what you're supposed to be, but...” She closes her eyes. “Don't let him die, all right?”

“I would be forced to self-destruct if his vitals flatline.”

She frowns. “Suppose that gives you plenty of motivation, doesn't it?”


Further conversation is put on hold when the two of us step over the groaning soldiers and reach the hangar. Everyone ahead of us is crouching down, the better to avoid being spotted by the looming dropship, and, more importantly, its cannon. Kyouko and I follow suit, the two of us half-crawling our way to where Flandre and Meiling are peering over the railing. We are just in time to see the Flandre below fire another glowing projectile from a looted rocket launcher, which sends men scattering before it explodes. Rocket fired, the vampire dives from cover to cover, the better to avoid the hanging dropship's efforts to shred her apart. This works until a cadre of soldiers anticipate one of her moves, and greet her with a bulletstorm next time she breaks from cover.

“Sonuva-!” She cries out, reeling. Our Flandre growls, knuckling her forehead, and the clone below surges with light. Freshly bolstered, she whirls on the soldiers responsible, murder in mind. “You wanna play rough? All right, let's play rough!”

Another magical rocket flies from her launcher, slamming into the group with enough force to send men flying. If I had brows, they would be furrowed in thought. “Infinite ammunition via magical boosting? Intriguing.”

Unfortunately, whoever is aiming the dropship cannon finally scores a direct hit, blowing the clone Flandre into literal pieces, her limbs flying away and leaving a sparkling trail as they dissolve.

“Yow,” Our Flandre says, blinking rapidly. Without a target to occupy them, the soldiers below are scanning around for more hostiles, and one of them locks eyes with our party.

Flandre waves.

“We got more up top!” The soldier calls out, pointing at our exposed party. The dropship's gun starts tracking our way, causing the fairies to squeak in fright and scurry back.

“Aw, crap,” Kyouko whispers, watching the cannon's approach with resignation.

“Bring it on!” Flandre says, jumping atop the railing and kicking off towards the dropship. Meiling bites down a curse as she starts to follow suit, but I pull her back. Her head snaps back to glare at me.

“Continue the evacuation,” I say. “I will aid her until everyone has escaped.”

Meiling steps back, scowling deeply. “You'd better make damn sure Flan gets out of here, you hear me?”


Meiling nods, still clearly displeased. “Just so we're clear.”

“Good luck!” Kyouko says, giving me a shaky thumbs up as she falls in unsteady step with the fairy mob, Meiling leading the way. Judging by their current pace, it will take some time to usher everyone out.

So I start buying time.

I pop over the railing and take precise shots, each round disabling an enemy posing a threat to Flandre. Target after target is incapacitated by my fire, but the bullets flying at me are numerous enough I am forced to return to cover. Next time I rise, several bullets slam into my visor, and even as my head rocks back from the force of impact, AE's vitals spike. The man awakes with a ragged, choking gasp.

Damn, that hurt,” He says, as I blast apart the weaponry of those firing on me. “Why the hell is my suit moving on its own?”

“That would be me, User,” I say, switching from target to target even as more bullets ram into me.

AE makes an undignified sound at my words. When next he speaks, his voice is completely flat. “They put an AI in my suit.”


Flandre is currently clinging to the dropship's cannon, punching away with gusto as it whirls around in a desperate attempt to dislodge her.

“They put an AI in my suit,” AE says, outrage seeping into his tone. “The bastards.

“You will have time to complain later,” I say, ducking to reload once again and eliciting a grunt of pain from AE.

He growls. “Give me a sitrep.”

I rise up once more, and spray down a loose grouping of men firing on my position. “Current priority is to give Flandre Scarlet supporting fire until all civilian elements have evacuated.”

“Right. Okay,” AE takes a deep breath. “I'm taking over now, so you can stop pushing my charred flesh against everything, holy fuck.

“User is incapable of positively contributing to the operation.”

“That wasn't a request,” He says, harshly.

I kneecap a soldier drawing a bead on Flandre. “I am aware.”

[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

Hm. I like AE more, but AI is probably more useful.
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

Focus on the mission. This is no time to have a crippled and bleary operator.
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

I like AE.
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

Since when have we gone with the tactically sound choice?
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]
But only if Meiling is going to bridal carry us through this mission.
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

I really do want to focus on AE, but right now, his charred flesh ain't going to help us out any. Once we're in the clear, he can have the go-ahead.
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

Flipped a coin.
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

I only vote this because it says perspective lock which potentially implies a whole lot of things.

>I only vote this because it says perspective lock which potentially implies a whole lot of things.

That just means you should ask for clarification. If you have questions then ask them!

This anon has it right! Don't worry, anyone, locking into one perspective doesn't mean the other is unavailable in the future. Besides that, whoever loses this vote will still stay active to offer commentary and advice as needed.

Hope that cleared things up for you!
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

Relinquishing control at this point would be ill-adviced.

Not to mention that we can go beck to AE later.
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

AI will do a better job. Also Meiling isn't worried about AE at all. How cruel.
She might assume he's super tough
[x] Retain control (AI perspective)

Our target is wounded, weak and next to us. After this is over we can complete the mission he is so reluctant to accomplish
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

I don't particularly like the AI, back to the real protagonist.
[x] Retain control (AI perspective)

Mission first, charred flesh second.
Well, shit, looks like we've got ourselves a tie here! I'm going to sleep right after I post this, and I'll call the vote when I get up in the morning. If it's still tied then, I guess I'll flip a coin or something? In any case, there's gonna be writing on the 'morrow.
[X] Relinquish control. [AE PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]

As much as I like the AI, I like AE better.
[X] Retain control. [AI PERSPECTIVE-LOCK]
How about a compromise?

[X] "Give me two minutes, User. To reduce the probability of you dying."
>3 votes later still tie
>how is this even posible.
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>Oh, cool, three new votes


It's boggling my mind, that's for sure.

Just to get the writing underway, I'm taking >>60292's compromise vote and rolling with it.
There's a tendency to remake ties after they're broken and for this reason, it's usually first vote wins.
>There's a tendency to remake ties after they're broken and for this reason, it's usually first vote wins.

I don't like "first [number] vote(s) after this post wins" because it encourages people to rush their votes without thinking about them. (Especially if that number is 1.)
I'd rather see a broken tie get remade, to be honest.
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“I cannot allow you control at this moment, User.” I say, moving to a different part of the balcony before I pop out and resume shooting.

“You had damn well not screw this up, then,” AE says, seething.

“The key wording was 'this moment'. I require approximately two minutes, and then I shall pass control to you.”

Flandre whoops, tearing the dropship's turret off, sparks flying as she throws it to the ground. She kicks off the neutered ship to land atop an unfortunate soldier, and pile-drives him headfirst into the floor. Several troops draw diggers and blitz the vampire, but my attention is diverted when a grenade sails up at my position; a well-timed swing of my rifle bats it aside, leaving it to explode harmlessly. The next half-dozen grenades are rather more difficult to deal with, so I clamber atop the railing.

“Oh, hell,” AE says, resignation seeping into his tone even as explosives fly past us.

“Brace for impact.” I say, and hurl myself over the ledge.

“You motherfaaaaaaaaaaaargh-” AE says, curse cut off as I land behind a crate and bring my rifle up. Even as more soldiers split fire from Flandre to myself, I snap-fire with agonizing precision, kneecaps and elbows blown apart with quick bursts of gore, men screaming as they fall. Flandre, meanwhile, is jumping from man to man with the same predatory grace as a lioness on the hunt, whipping bodies around like toys with every motion. Our combined assault is whittling their numbers down rapidly, the ground covered in broken men and women even as their comrades refuse to retreat.

A soldier manages to rake Flandre with a burst of fire, bullets punching holes clear through her chest and staggering her mid-charge. Without Flandre jumping around like a flea hopped-up on steroids, the rest of the soldiers with clear shots start pouring fire onto her, bullets piercing flesh and bone, blood spattering across the ground in wide arcs. Flandre's body knits itself back together in mere moments, but the sheer number of rounds being fired are able to outpace even her monstrous regeneration.

Perhaps, at full strength, she would be able to withstand this assault.

But Flandre Scarlet is not at full strength.

And yet, even as a shotgun blast tears her arm off at the shoulder in a shower of gore and bone, even as her legs are shot out from beneath her, even as her body is punctured and shredded, Flandre laughs. Choked, ragged spurts of mad laughter billow up from her throat, despite her limbs being blown off, despite the rounds tearing through her chest, despite even how her guts are spilling out.

The soldiers, for their part, do not relent, constantly pouring new rounds into the vampire even as she collapses on her face. My continued fire causes more men to split their aim towards me, and a salvo slams into my helmet, giving me the opportunity to pitch onto my back as if I had been terminated.

“Target down!” One shouts, turning his attentions towards Flandre.

AE hisses in outrage. “The hell are you doing? Get up!

My timer beeps, informing me that two minutes have elapsed.

“That is for you to handle,” I say, relegating my processing power to internal system maintenance.


It's about damn time you regained control.

The AI feigning death has given you a good chance to plot your next move, but your mouth twists in dismay as you take in the situation. The rough two-dozen left standing have successfully blasted Flandre to literal pieces, and you feel vaguely ill as you take in her ruined form; she's been so mutilated by the barrage she now solely consists of her torso, head, and an arm, blood rapidly pooling around her body. What's left of her starts twitching, and she lifts her head up, teeth bared in a mirthless grin, tears intermingling with blood as they drip down her face.

Her eyes have flooded red, sclerae and irises and all.

“It- it really burns, you know?” She says, trying to keep giggles in check even as her convulsions intensify. “I mean, ahaha, you- have you ever- you know, set your veins on fire? Becahahahaha, oh geez, that's what this feels like!”

Flandre breaks down into a helpless fit of giggling as her body's regeneration kicks into overdrive. A pair of soldiers outside her line of sight swaps rifles for Arc Throwers, and start creeping up behind her in sync, while the rest keep their guns trained on the girl who, despite what all sense should dictate, has just finished regenerating every last inch of lost flesh.

The men stop right behind the prone girl, take aim-

There's a blur of red, and next you blink Flandre has a hand wrapped around each soldier's throat. Everyone else quickly adjusts their aim, though no one dares fire for fear of shooting the captive men.

“But do you know what's really funny?” Flandre says, smiling far, far too widely. “It's how I'm going to make you feel.”

She tightens her grip, and the men go rigid, stunners slipping from their fingers.

Then they slide apart.

It's with horrified fascination that you watch the men fall into piles of meat, as if whatever had been holding them together had simply ceased to exist. There is no blood, no viscera, nothing you'd expect from a person being reduced to their component parts, which, in its own way, only serves to make the sight worse. You've seen more than your share of mutilated corpses, but never were they anything like this.

One of the crowd screams, and they all open fire.

Flandre blurs out of the way once again, completely vanishing from sight. The soldiers are, to a man, frantically looking about, trying to catch any sign of their approaching doom. Crimson flashes near the back of the group, and another man falls to pieces, and another, and another.

Bullets fly at random as the soldiers wildly spray rounds, panicked cries echoing throughout the chamber as their numbers keep dwindling. Blood spurts from thin air as a lucky salvo connects with Flandre, but she isn't slowed in the least, still darting around so quickly all you can see are afterimages.

“Flash!” A soldier warns, spiking the grenade into the floor. Everyone averts their eyes as it detonates, and Flandre screeches to a halt, disoriented for just a moment, before she darts in front of the man responsible and backhands him clear across the room. He slams into a wall hard enough that a web of cracks form on impact.

The man's distraction occupied Flandre long enough for the rest to get clear shots in, but she charges headfirst towards the thickest concentration of troops without so much as flinching at the bullets piercing her. She's on the group in the span of a breath, and her first wild swing cleaves a man in half. As she rips her way through that group, more and more gore coating her with every moment, the few outside her attention lose their courage and break for the exit. A different man, too far away from the exit to easily escape, instead dives behind the crate you'd been using for cover. He hunches down, back pressed up against it, shotgun clutched tightly in his hands.

“I am gonna die, oh, Jesus, no,” He mutters, rocking back and forth.

The men who tried to run for it, meanwhile, make it about twenty feet before Flandre catches up.

They die screaming.

With both the room and herself painted red, Flandre pauses to sniff the air. Once, twice, and then she very slowly, very deliberately, begins walking this way. The hiding soldier has frozen solid, not so much as breathing as Flandre's footsteps squelch across the wet floor.

“Little boy, little boy, where are you hiding?” She says, in a sing-song voice. “Don't you want to play with me?”

The man shakes, ever so slightly.

“Your friends weren't really any good, but I've got a good feeling about you!” Flandre says, folding her hands behind her back as she traipses closer and closer. “Come on, I'm sure you could at least, I dunno, take an arm off? Why don't you come out and try your luck, huh?”

Your hand slowly clenches around your own Arc Thrower, as an emergency measure in case Flandre proves intractable. The soldier, having seen you do this, mouths two simple words.

'Help me.'

Flandre stops, feet away from the man's hiding spot. She flings the crate aside with a casual flick of her wrist, and beams widely as he scrambles away.

“Found you!”


[X] You're not sure about your odds of talking Flandre down, but it's a damn sight better than letting her run rampant.

[X] Don't move, don't breathe, don't even twitch.

[X] Taze her with extreme predjudice, and don't stop until you're either out of charges or dead.

[X] Bullet between his eyes. Make it painless.
The surprise should go some ways to snapping Flan out of her berserk state. Hopefully it will not direct said state at us. Either way we'll have to talk her down.
[x] taze her with extreme prejudice. Don't stop until you're out of charges or dead
I guess this is why our side mission is to capture her. Are we supposed to save others from her or just to save her from herself?
[X] Bullet between his eyes. Make it painless.

Arc thrower's nearly out of juice and staying still would probably make things worse.
[X] Bullet between his eyes. Make it painless.
I don't like any of these choices or the write-in.

On one hand, our mission is indeed to capture Flandre, but I don't even know if we have enough charges in our Arc Thrower to take her down. and if we don't, she'll be mighty cross with us, in her current state, that doesn't bode well for our lifespan.
On the other hand, why exactly are we thinking of helping this guy who, not three minutes earlier, would have gladly shot us in the head?

Normally, I would say let Flandre have her way with him, but something tells me that'd just drive her into more of a frenzy - we need to bring her down somehow before she does something she (or we) will regret. Plus, if we save him, he might be thankful and be willing to aid us with some information or something.

Politely refraining from voting until I or someone else can think of something better.
[X] Get her attention and try to reason with her...from afar.

The Arc Thrower should be used only if she targets AE, sorry trooper, you dug your own grave by attacking her.

This is Stupid choice, but I can't bring myself to kidnap Flandre (or if that could even work at all)
[X] Get her attention and try to reason with her...from afar.
[X] Get her attention and try to reason with her...from afar.

We should abduct her later, and we might be able to use this series of events as some kind of leverage in the long run.
Right, we got a tie between shooting the guy in the face and trying to talk Flandre down while she's still surprised by that, or just straight-up talking to her once you're in a safer position. I'll leave votes open until tomorrow, so if anyone wants to vote but hasn't, that's your window of opportunity.
[X] Get her attention and try to reason with her...from afar.

On one hand, they blasted Flandre apart, so I can't exactly fault her for returning the favor. On the other hand, Flandre needs help. She's probably going to have a total breakdown when she comes to her senses.

Firing a gun in her general direction will just make things worse.
[X] Get her attention and try to reason with her...from afar.

Ended up choosing this because it has the least chance of something going wrong.
Shooting the guy out of mercy might make Flandre angry that we took her prey and make her turn on us, plus, it's possible that she actually plans to feed on him to recover her energy. I'd be fine with this, considering how much we've relied on her to kill these guys lately.

With this option, we have the possibility of getting through to her before she mauls the guy, successfully saving his life. If we fail to reason with her, then all that happens is the one guy gets mauled to death and we still have the Arc Thrower if she, god forbid, turns on us.
Even considering the possibility that Flandre will have some sort of breakdown after she realizes what she just did, considering how she already brutally murdered the rest of the guy's squad, I don't see how one more goon would make much a difference.

Remember, this is one of the guys who have been trying to kill us - he wouldn't have shown us mercy, so while it'd be nice to be a nice guy and manage to save him, if we can't, then it's simply business as usual.
Right, calling it in for the WORDSWORDSWORDS approach. Here's hoping it works, or things are going to get very messy for everyone involved.
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Flandre damn near skips over to the guard, who's clambered upright with a speed that only desperation can bring. As Flandre swings at him, he recoils, reflexively bringing his shotgun up to deflect the first blow. His backpedaling saves his life, as the vampire's strike cleaves the gun in half and passes mere inches from his chest.

“Wow!” Flandre says, pausing to watch the gun's pieces fall to the floor. “You're the first to actually dodge! I like your moxie, mister.”

The guard, for his part, goes for the stunner at his belt, but Flandre closes the distance quick as lightning, locking both his arms at his sides with her ironclad grip.

“Guess what!” she says, eyes shut tight as she beams at the man. “Since you outlasted everyone else, we're gonna make a wish together! I'm not seeing any wishbones around, though, so I guess you'll just have to do.”

“Wha-” he says, before Flandre hooks a foot around one of his and brings him crashing to the floor.

She grabs each leg, spreads them apart, and gives the man a cheery wink. “Ready?”

“No, no no, nononononono-” he gibbers, as Flandre slowly pulls his legs further and further away.

“Flandre, wait!” You say, holding an empty hand up. Flandre freezes in place, and her head slowly tracks over to you. As you pull yourself up to your good knee, her spectacularly wide grin grows even further, threatening to split her face clean in half.

“Cool, you're not dead!” Flandre says, seemingly forgetting what she was about to do.

“Flandre, let him go,” You order, slowly edging back. The man frantically nods agreement.

“But I still haven't made a wish yet!” Flandre whines, her smile briefly giving way to a pout.

“You are literally going to tear him in half, Flandre. That's not you, don't you get it?” You growl, barely keeping your exasperation in check.

Flandre stares blankly at you for several seconds, then breaks into a fit of high-pitched giggles, doubling over and clutching at her sides as her whole body shakes. With her grip on the man relinquished, the lucky man runs for his life; Flandre pays him no heed, trying instead to bring herself back under control. After a scant few moments of breathless laughter, she regains her composure, resting her full attention on you. “Of course this is me, silly! How do you know what I'm like when we've spent a grand total of, like, half an hour together?”

Your retreat ends when you press up against a pillar. “The Flandre I know didn't want to kill anyone, for one thing.” You wave a hand at the carnage the blood-soaked girl left behind her. “I know what they did to you must have hurt like hell, but you slaughtered them to a man, even the wounded. Why?”

Flandre glances over her shoulder, then back to you, her smile wavering so slightly you nearly miss it. “Ah, they had it coming. Hurt me, hurt my friends, hurt my fairies. If they didn't want me to pay it back, they shouldn't have done it in the first place.”

If she has any doubt about what she did, any at all, you've got to press her further. “How does that justify it?”

She doesn't respond for a few seconds, the slightest hint of lucidity flashing across her eyes. A brief chuckle escapes her lips as she shakes her head. “Let me show you why,” She says, pressing a hand against her chest. The blonde inhales sharply and plunges it inside, gore briefly spurting from the wound.

You stare at her, aghast. “What the hell are you doing?”

She rummages around inside her torso, wet noises accompanying every little movement, and when she withdraws her blood-soaked hand, a fistful of bullets are clenched tightly within it. Her next words are breathless, giggles wracking her frame even as tears form in her eyes. “Do you have any idea how much all these hurt?”

“Why would you-”

“Because they hurt a lot!” Flandre says, the wound already sealing up once again as she tosses the shrapnel aside. “And there's so, so many more in me than just these few, don't you get it? I've got 'em in- in my heart, my lungs, all these burning little bits of metal, and it just- it hurts. It hurts so much, and-” She breaks down into another giggling fit, clutching a hand to her mouth.

“Then why are you laughing?” You ask, dreading the answer.

Flandre wipes at her tears, only succeeding in smearing more blood across her face. Her smile takes a sickly edge. “Laughter's the best medicine, isn't it? It's either that or cry, and if I start crying, I don't think I can stop.” She takes an unsteady step your way, hugging herself tightly. “So, if I gotta feel like- like this, you better believe I'm gonna make them feel it too!”

You stand your ground, hand gripped tightly around your Arc Thrower. “Flandre, I can help you, but you've got to come with me. My people have some of the best medical equipment around; if anyone can fix you up, it'd be them.”

Flandre jerks to a stop, her smile flatlining as the two of you lock eyes. “Can't you laugh with me? Please?” she pleads, any traces of mirth gone from her voice. “It's- I can't- just please, please laugh with me.”

“This isn't a laughing situation,” You say gently, extending your free hand. “C'mere. Let me help.”

Tiny pinpricks of blackness appear in the sea of her crimson eyes, brimming as they are with tears. They flick down to your outstretched hand, and then further, until she's staring at the floor.

You wait.

“...I can't do it.” She whispers, so soft and vulnerable you can hardly believe she's responsible for the slaughter behind her.

“Flandre, I-” You begin.

“I can't make you laugh,” She continues, entirely to herself. When she looks up again, the small island of sanity in her eyes has vanished. “But I can make you scream.”

And then she's on you.

Your reflex boosters activate with scant milliseconds to spare as you backstep, and Flandre's swing still rends a huge chunk of metal from your breastplate. You respond with a left hook to her jaw even as she follows up with a punch of her own, and the two of you nail each other in the face at the same time. The blows connect with bone-rattling force, a massive spiderweb of cracks instantly forming upon your visor as your head snaps back hard enough you think it could fly off, while Flandre's chin deforms underneath your fist, shards of bone and teeth flying as she reels back.

This all happens within the span of not even a second.

Then you're flying.

Next thing you know, you're sprawled out on the floor.

On the opposite end of the room. Ow.

Oh, Jesus, that's a big hole you left in a support pillar.

You try to pull yourself up, but your body is still having some trouble comprehending the new and exciting world of anguish and misery it's in, so you're not having much luck with that. Flandre, meanwhile, wrenches her dislocated jaw back into place, and her bright peals of laughter fill the room.

“Good effort!” she says, fists clenching. “Let's see if you can go two-for-two!”

“Bring it, Flandre,” You challenge, voice mildly slurred from what's no doubt a major concussion. Oh, well, you got time to worry later.

“You asked for it!” she says, launching into an eye-wateringly quick dash, crimson afterimages tracing her every movement.

'As I would prefer to not suffer termination, User, I shall briefly assume control,' Your AI informs you, voice confined to internal comms. It's then that your suit lurches up of its own volition.

You meet Flandre several feet from where you started. Once she's close enough to reach you, within a few feet, she kicks off the ground, arrests her momentum mid-air, and dive-bombs you, going for a double-overhand swing.

You retake control.

Flandre may be monstrously strong, but that doesn't change the fact that she's still a small child. Your hands dart up as she closes in, wrapping around her wrists, and you twist aside, using your momentum and hers to send her flying over your shoulder. She slams face-first into the wall, but bounces off to land on all fours. When she looks up at you, blood runs down her face, and she spits a gob onto the floor before hopping upright.

“You know, AE, I think you're growing on me,” She says, one arm folded over her belly, the other propping a hand up against her cheek. Her expression is one of... longing, maybe? You're not really in a state to tell. “You're not even trying to run! I can't tell if it's because you're brave or really, really dumb.”

You grunt, holding your ground. “It is physically impossible for me to feel fear.”

Flandre 'tsk's, shaking her head. “No one likes a liar, AE. Everyone else is afraid of me, after all! Sis, Meiling, Patchy, Sakuya, all the maids, even your little green friend. I've seen how they look at me. I might not be able to see your face, but I know you're not different.”

You shrug, trying to keep your voice steady. “As I said, fear, me, physically impossible, et cetera.”

“Liiii-ar!” Flandre trills, grinning brightly. “Just for that, I'm gonna rip your arms off!”

As Flandre dashes at you once again, you tense, trying to come with something, anything, that will get you through this intact.

Then Meiling's foot slams into the top of Flandre's skull, driving the girl headfirst into the floor.

You waste no time in staring, instead taking the chance to retrieve a nearby rifle from the severed arm of someone who really doesn't need it anymore. Just as you grab it, Flandre tosses Meiling away, and the redhead lands near you in a crouch before she springs upright.

“Not complaining, but why're you back here?” You ask, wiping blood off your new weapon.

Meiling's eyes flick around the room, her expression one of muted horror, before they settle on you. “You were taking too long, so I figured something happened. Looks like I was right.”

Flandre's up yet again, and she claps her head a few times to work out the cobwebs. Once her eyes refocus, she squints at Meiling. “You know, I'd always wondered what it'd feel like to be on the receiving end of one of your kicks!”

The corner of Meiling's lips quirk up, just for half a moment. “Were you impressed?”

Flandre pouts. “You pulled the hit! Just for that, I'm gonna hurt you extra hard.”

Meiling's expression immediately falls. “Shit.”

With that, the vampire begins casually strolling towards you. Meiling shifts into a defensive stance, bracing herself, while you move slightly back, intent on using the gatekeeper as your shield.

“Any ideas?” Meiling whispers, eyes fixated on your imminent doom.


[X] Fight to kill. No compassion, no mercy, just take her out as fast as you can.

[X] Fight to disable. Do whatever it takes to bring her down: break joints, taze her, pin her down if you have to. Kill-shots only seem to make her mad, so immobilizing her is the way to go.

[X] Fight to stall. Your words already struck home once, what's to say you can't do it again? All you need is time.

>[X] Fight to disable. Do whatever it takes to bring her down: break joints, taze her, pin her down if you have to. Kill-shots only seem to make her mad, so immobilizing her is the way to go.
Killing Flandre is pretty high up on the list of Things We Should Probably Not Do, and she doesn't seem very reasonable right now. WORDS might work, but I'm not sure it's a good idea in this situation.
[X] Fight to disable. Do whatever it takes to bring her down: break joints, taze her, pin her down if you have to. Kill-shots only seem to make her mad, so immobilizing her is the way to go.
-[x] Once you've got her pinned, kiss her.

I'm so sorry I can't resist.
[X] Fight to stall. Your words already struck home once, what's to say you can't do it again? All you need is time.

Because her true self is not a monster. And we all know that.
[X] Fight to stall. Your words already struck home once, what's to say you can't do it again? All you need is time.
[X] Fight to disable. Do whatever it takes to bring her down: break joints, taze her, pin her down if you have to. Kill-shots only seem to make her mad, so immobilizing her is the way to go.
-[x]Hopefully, WORDS from two people will be more effective

Meiling and AE/AI talkin(and breakin) games
60372 here

I want to agree with you guys with just trying to talk her down, but I don't think it will work by itself.
I just hope this doesn't backfire and get us killed, cuz Flan will be sad when she gets lucid again. Maybe not for us, but at least for Meiling
[X] Fight to stall. Your words already struck home once, what's to say you can't do it again? All you need is time.
[X] Fight to stall. Your words already struck home once, what's to say you can't do it again? All you need is time.
[X] Fight to stall. Your words already struck home once, what's to say you can't do it again? All you need is time.

I'm a bit leery of choosing the words option when it might end like the previous option, still, it seems like this is the popular choice.
STALL takes it, folks, writing now.
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“My words got through to her once, and I think we can do it again, together,” you say.

Meiling shoots you a disbelieving glance. “You call this getting through to her?”

You grimace. “It didn't last. What do you usually do when she gets like this?”

Meiling shrugs. “Run. Hide. Maybe cry a little.”

You don't know whether it's the grievous danger you're in, all your injuries making your head loopy, or some combination of the two, but her matter-of-fact tone just makes you snigger. “We're going to die, aren't we.”

Flandre transitions from stroll to dash mid-step, flashing in front of Meiling before you can blink. “Less talk, more fight!”

Meiling yelps as she hops back, narrowly evading a hammer-blow that would likely have smashed her through the floor. The next few seconds are a whirlwind of red-on-green, Meiling shifting between Flandre's strikes with all the grace of a ballerina and all the speed of a cruise missile, completely avoiding any contact with the vampire. You crack off a few shots of your own, all of them carefully-calculated near-misses to throw Flandre off her game, which saves Meiling from at least one hit.s

“Flan, I don't want to hurt you!” Meiling says, scarlet locks whirling as she twists aside from a wild diagonal swing. Instead of going for another slash, Flandre darts in close, hands closing around her enemy's hair.

“You really oughta keep your hair short, Mei!” Flandre chides, swinging Meiling overhead as if she were weightless, and the redhead smashes headfirst into the ground hard enough for cracks to spiderweb out. As Flandre goes for a skull-crushing stomp, you shoulder-check the blonde with all the force of a derailed train, bringing you both crashing to the floor. You pin your rifle over her neck, holding the girl down even as she claws at your arms, her nails scraping slivers of plating off.

“Can you stop already?” You hiss, pushing down as hard as you can. Wild eyes glare back at you, right before Flandre drives her knee into your ruined counterpart, forcing you to bite down a hiss of agony; she shoves you with enough force to send you flying. Your rifle flees your grip, clattering out of reach, and you hit the ground with a wet smack, skidding across blood until you bowl over a pile of meat. The stuff-- you really don't want to take a closer look-- quivers and squelches as you use it to pull yourself up, viscera smearing across your armor with every motion.

You've been in worse-- that time in the Thule sewage plant comes to mind-- but that doesn't make this any more pleasant in comparison.

You've barely made it to your knee when crimson flashes through the air, whistling towards your head. As Flandre whirls towards you like a raging hurricane, blood on the floor sloshing aside in her wake, you haul back, fist clenched, and deliver a bone-crunching straight shot to her face.

Or at least you would have, had she not juked out of the way at the last possible moment, your fist grazing her cheek even as her hands loop under your arms.

“You're too slow,” she whispers in your ear, and a swift kick off the ground sends the two of you hurtling towards the ceiling like a rocket. At the apex of your flight, Flandre winks as she pulls a half-loop, leaving the two of you upside-down and plummeting.

“Flandre, don't make me hit you!” You warn, struggling to break free from her freakishly strong grip.

She giggles. “Aw, silly, you don't have what it takes!”

You smash your head into hers, breaking her nose with a crunch, and her eyes shoot wide open in shock. You rear back to do it again, but your flight takes a dramatic turn when Meiling's shining foot smashes into Flandre's midsection, whiplash snapping your head back as the three of you sail through the air. Flandre's hugging you like a life-preserver in a tsunami, your ribs creaking from the pressure, and the two of you slam into a wall with enough force to leave a crater.

Considering how Flandre was using you as a shield, you took the brunt of it.


You flop onto the floor, sprawling out next to a dazed Flandre, as Meiling gracefully lands nearby in a crouch. The redhead claps her hands together, eyes shut in concentration, and brightly-burning golden chi flares to life around her, tinting the entire room yellow.

Flandre pulls herself up to her knees, holding a hand to her gut, and her smile takes a predatory edge as she sizes Meiling up. She's already regenerated from that headbutt you dealt, although she has to pause for a moment to wrench her nose back into place.

“I always did like you, Mei,” Flandre says once she's finished, rising to her feet. She maintains a healthy distance from Meiling, who's more than happy to keep away. “For one thing, you can dodge!

Meiling's already leaping aside as Flandre thrusts a hand forward, palm outstretched, and a crimson laser easily as wide as you are bursts forth; it gouges huge chunks out of the walls wherever it goes, zig-zagging throughout the room as Flandre tries and fails to catch Meiling in her sights. The redhead, with her chi released, rebounds off the walls like a supersonic pinball, her speed the only thing preventing her from being utterly vaporized.

You blink blood and sweat out of your eyes as you prop yourself up on your elbows. Flandre doesn't even look your way, but she levels her free hand on you, palm outstretched.

“Killing us won't make you feel any better,” you say, drawing yourself up to a knee. “Whatever you do here is going to stay with you, no matter what.”

It's here that Flandre shoots you a wild-eyed glare, entirely at odds with her smile. “Shut up.”

With her attention on you, Flandre's accuracy has worsened considerably, giving Meiling a window of opportunity.

“How does this help you?” You press, leaning ahead to emphasize your words. “What if you actually do kill us? You can't take it back, Flandre!”

Her free hand clenches shut. “I said shut up!”

Meiling comes in like a house on fire, zig-zagging between several pillars in rapid succession, before terminating the maneuver with both feet smashing to Flandre's head. The blonde's massive laser abruptly cuts off as she flies, but Flandre rights herself mid-air and rebounds off the wall, landing in a crouch. She rips a chunk of concrete from the floor and pitches it at Meiling, distracting her for a crucial moment as she bats it aside. Flandre closes the distance almost faster than you'd believe possible, and swings so quickly she's simply one place and then the other, without seeming to have moved in between.

One slash was all she needed.

Meiling's arm, severed at the elbow, flops onto the floor. She stumbles back, teeth grinding together in wordless anguish, the burning chi around her flashing out of existence. Flandre follows it up by tackling her to the floor, and clamps her hands around the woman's head. Meiling grips both of Flandre's slim wrists with her comparatively huge hand, trying to hold her back.

“How many smacks does it take to get to the center of a gatekeeper's skull?” Flandre asks, cocking her head to the side. “Let's find out! One!”

Flandre slams Meiling into the floor hard enough for cracks to spiderweb outward.


As she does it again, you pull yourself to unsteady feet.


You wordlessly lurch towards them, drawing the Arc Thrower from your waist.


Meiling's grip goes slack.

As the blonde goes for a fifth slam, you level the stunner at her head. “Flandre!” you say, putting enough weight in that sole word to sink a battleship.

Flandre stops to glare up at you, and her eyes narrow at the weapon trained on her. “Is that supposed to scare me?”

“You're killing her, Flandre.” you say, harshly. “You are killing Meiling, do you understand that?”

Her eyes flick to Meiling, then back to you, those little isles of black sanity returning to her eyes. “So?”

“So? So?” you say, outrage seeping into your voice. “She's your friend, for God's sake! Doesn't that mean anything?”

Flandre spikes Meiling's head into the floor with a meaty thud, blood spattering on impact, and then she leaps towards you. You fire a shot off, electricity coursing through her whole body, but she soaks the hit without stumbling, her hands grasping you by the neck, carrying you along for the ride as she loops up through the air. You're flung headfirst into the floor and land with a thunderous impact, the stunner flying out of reach. Dazed and confused from the blow, you're helpless to do much anything as Flandre touches down near you.

Her foot drops on your helmet hard enough to drive your head into the floor, concrete deforming beneath you. Your hands close around her foot of the AI's own volition, and squeeze. Bone cracks apart beneath your grip, and Flandre falls atop your chest, her eyes screwing shut from pain even as she brings a fist down onto your face. The first punch you take is almost pleasant in comparison to the stomping you just endured, but the second firmly cements itself as being even worse.

As Flandre does an admirable job of beating the life out of you, Meiling rolls onto her front, pushing herself up to her hands and knees, but you're unable to pay much attention to her, what with Flandre and all. Your efforts to shield your face are promptly swatted aside, leaving your helmet to shield you from the worst of it; the armor lasts for a few seconds, but Flandre just keeps hitting you over and over, until her last blow utterly shatters your visor. Bereft of your helmet's protection, the acrid smell of blood and death washes over you, strong as a physical blow.

Flandre leans back, surprise coloring her features. “Oh my goodness, you do have a face.”

You swing at her, taking advantage of her momentary distraction, but Flandre easily catches the blow and bends your hand backward, bones splintering until the back of your hand is touching your arm. You emit a strangled, incomprehensible mixture of a scream and the most vile curse you can think of at this latest source of hideous agony.

Flandre merely looks down on you in resignation. “Yeah, AE, I'm getting bored here too. Time to finish up.”

She reaches inside your helmet, her hand clamping down on your face, fingernails digging into your skin. You try to pry her off, but considering she has a whole two hands as opposed to your one, she's able to pin yours down.

“Hush, hush, it's time to sleep,” she says, solemnly. “Ready? Three, two, one-”

Meiling hurls herself against Flandre's back, tightly wrapping her arm around the girl's chest. “Damn it, Flan, no!”

Flandre rolls off you, landing atop Meiling, and smashes the back of her head against the gatekeeper's face. As she does that, you roll onto your belly, working through all the aches and pains, and crawl towards your Arc Thrower quickly as you can. You snatch the weapon up, and pull yourself to your feet as swiftly as you can. When you turn around, Flandre's hauled Meiling up by the front of her dress, her other hand cocked back. You lurch towards them, bringing the stunner up; just before you get close enough to fire, Flandre plunges her hand clear through Meiling's torso. Blood spurts out the woman's back before Flandre retracts her gore-soaked arm in a smooth motion.

You stop dead, your arm falling limp by your side.

Son of a bitch.

Meiling drops to one knee, then both, blood pouring freely from the hole in her chest. When she looks up at you and Flandre, there's a wry smile on her lips, one that doesn't quite reach her eyes. “Damn good hit, Flan. Damn good hit.”

Of all the responses Flandre expected, that was evidently not one of them, given the way her mouth falls agape. “I- what?”

“Wasn't quite how I expected to go out,” Meiling quietly muses. She chuckles at her own private joke, then slumps to the floor.

“...Meiling?” Flandre whispers, horrified lucidity sweeping across her face. “I- You're not gonna-”

Blood dribbles down Meiling's lips. “Flan,” she slurs, eyes unfocused. “Flan, it's okay, you hear me? It's okay. I'm not angry.”

Flandre looks utterly lost, her irises returning to their former hue. “I- but-”

Meiling slowly shakes her head, all the color gone from her face. “This wasn't your fault. It wasn't.

With those words, her eyes drift shut. Her chest still rises and falls, albeit very shallowly.

Flandre takes a shaky step back. “Mei? I- I didn't- Hey, no, you're not- I didn't mean to- oh, God.” She covers her face with blood-slick hands, tear-filled eyes peeking out between her fingers. “I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

Well, shit.

[X] Flandre's still reeling from what she's done. It leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but you can take advantage of this, maybe get her to come with you of her own free will. Failing all else, you've still got two shots left in your stunner.

[X] Meiling is critically wounded, but getting her back to the mansion for emergency treatment will torpedo any chances of capturing Flandre. Besides even that, there's the very real possibility it's already too late for her.

Can we recruit Flan via guilt tripping while bringing Meiling to the Mansion?

You can do it, but let me give you one tip for free.

Consider how Remilia is going to react if she sees Flandre in this state.
[X] This is a military facility, right? Didn't you see medical supplies somewhere, anywhere, as you were tearing up the place? Come on, think! Flandre, help me with her!
This option is pretty vague, I'm not entirely sure what it's indicating our action will be, but I take it to mean forsake the mission in lieu of getting Meiling help.

[X] Meiling is critically wounded, but getting her back to the mansion for emergency treatment will torpedo any chances of capturing Flandre. Besides even that, there's the very real possibility it's already too late for her.

I refuse to let an innocent woman die for the sake of a mission. Let them court-martial me for it! I will enter that hearing with my head held high and accept that punishment with a smile upon my face, for I know that I did the right thing.

That is, if we aren't just shot for abandoning the mission in the first place.
Good point.

[x] evacuate meiling, but keep Flandre out of the mansion.
[x] "Flandre, Remilia will snap if she sees you like this. Wanna come with me for a few days until you can collect yourself? "Rescuing" you from the SDM was a side mission for me in the first place.

I can image him resorting to trickery right now (even if he were a dick, he got his ass saved by these people several times) so let's try with honesty. He must realize he won't be able to take her anywhere she doesn't want to by now.

>I'm not entirely sure what it's indicating our action will be, but I take it to mean forsake the mission in lieu of getting Meiling help.

Well, you already accomplished your main objective of getting information from Remilia, and you've also wiped out the Gate these people were using to transport people past the Border, which means all priority objectives have been accomplished. Acquiring Flandre is an excellent bonus on top of all that, if you can pull it off, but, to quote from the beginning:

>Bonus Objective: Abduct Flandre Scarlet.

>Failing to achieve this objective is unfortunate but [...] acceptable.

In the end, it's your call.
[X] Meiling is critically wounded, but getting her back to the mansion for emergency treatment will torpedo any chances of capturing Flandre. Besides even that, there's the very real possibility it's already too late for her.

No bonus objective is worth Meiling dying. Hopefully this won't go all the way bad like a bunch of other things.
[X] Meiling is critically wounded, but getting her back to the mansion for emergency treatment will torpedo any chances of capturing Flandre. Besides even that, there's the very real possibility it's already too late for her.

Curse you, CYS.
That's a pretty strange vote. Isn't there supposed to be more than one option?
>[ ] Save Meiling
>[X] Save Meiling
>[ ] Save Meiling
>[ ] Save Meiling
>[ ] Save Meiling
[x]Any soldier worth their salt will have emergency med supplies for massive trauma, grab some off the dead guys, Stabilize Meiling and get her back to the mansion ASAP.

Save us future merc nano-Quickclot
[X] Meiling is critically wounded, but getting her back to the mansion for emergency treatment will torpedo any chances of capturing Flandre. Besides even that, there's the very real possibility it's already too late for her.
[X] Save Meiling
[x]Any soldier worth their salt will have emergency med supplies for massive trauma, grab some off the dead guys, Stabilize Meiling and get her back to the mansion ASAP.
- [x] But keep Flandre out of the mansion. "Flandre, Remilia will snap if she sees you like this." etc.
File 139761138729.png - (681.29KB, 1280x1024, this has been flandre's face for a while now.png) [iqdb]
Several conflicting ideas battle for your attention, but they generally boil down to one of two camps: capitalize on Flandre's emotional turmoil to capture her, or use the vampire to get Meiling to the only person who can heal her anywhere near fast enough to save the woman's life. Of course, leaving Meiling to die after she came back to help, when she could have just as easily have left you to be shredded apart, doesn't sit right with you.

It's not really much of a choice.

The bigger problem lies in how your only option for getting Meiling swift treatment is currently bawling her eyes out.

“Flandre,” you say, holding your good hand up. “Flandre, listen-”

“I liked it,” Flandre chokes out, her small frame wracked by sobs. “I- I killed them all and- even Meiling, and I liked it, I liked hurting them, the- the screams, ripping them apart, everything!”

“That doesn't-”

Flandre sinks into a crouch, eyes fixated on Meiling's body. “It's no wonder I stay down in the basement, isn't it? If- if this is what happens when I leave, maybe I should just- just go die, shouldn't I?” Flandre holds up her gore-slick arm, staring at it in sickly fascination. “I- I speared her like an animal, for God's sake.”

“And I also heard her say it wasn't your fault,” you say, your patience rapidly fraying.

Flandre whirls on you, eyes wild. “It doesn't matter! Don't you get it? I- I did this, all of it! And-”

“Flandre,” you growl. “Shut up and listen.”

She stares up at you, mouth agape.

“Meiling's not dead yet,” you say, falling back on memories of your drill instructor for inspiration. “So if you want to make this right, even just a little, then stop crying and move!

“But I-”

“Go!” You snap, flinging your arm out. “I don't care how you get out, but pick her up and move, damn you!”

“I- I-” She clenches her fists, scowling through the tears pouring down her face. “All right!”

Flandre thrusts her hands up, scarlet energy collecting in them, and the girl unleashes a mighty beam upwards, the sheer force driving her feet into the concrete, the blood on the floor pushed away in a wide circle around her. The beam carves a hole clear through the suspended dropship and the hangar doors above it, shards of metal raining down from on high, until the laser busts through to the outside world, revealing Gensokyo's blue skies. Flandre hauls Meiling up in her arms, grabs the gatekeeper's severed arm, and kicks off the ground, turning to face you. “AE, I-”

“I said move, goddammit!” You roar, and she flinches. Still, it does the trick, as Flandre soars up through the hole and flashes out of sight, leaving you utterly alone.

“Hoooh, shit,” you groan, dropping to your knees as all the assorted miseries you've endured come back in force for one last hurrah. There's also that nagging little part of you that's angry about yelling at an obviously distraught child, but if that's what it took to get her moving, you're not going to have regrets about it.

You'd have preferred it if Remilia wouldn't see Flandre in her current condition, either, but since couldn't rely on Flandre to find anything useful here in time, the girl's elder sister is likely Meiling's best shot at survival.

'I had not anticipated violent shouting as a viable solution,” says the AI, its voice buzzing through your internal comms. 'Excellent work salvaging the situation.'

“I sure as hell don't feel like a winner,” you say, running your hand over your face. “Tap us into HQ, would you? I want a ride waiting by the time I'm out of here.”

'I have already attempted such, but this facility appears to have a jammer in place. We will need to return to the surface before evacuation can be requested.'

You sigh. “Right. Of course. Now all I have to do is just walk up a flight of stairs and climb through a sloping tunnel, all while I'm missing a leg and a hand.”

'When you say it like that, one might believe you were complaining.'

“Don't you start mouthing off to me too,” you grumble.

Your conversation is interrupted by large, plodding footfalls from the hallway out, but instead of waiting around for something big and scary to stomp into the room, you hobble over to a miraculously intact crate and duck behind it. The stomping continues until it reaches inside this chamber, and you grit your teeth. Swear to God, if they have another titan around, you're just going to give up on life and shoot yourself, save them the trouble.

There's a high-pitched whistle.

“Wow!” Flandre says.


You peek out of cover, and bite down a hiss of shock.

Big Red looms above you, surveying the room. Perched atop its head is a lone Flandre clone, her arms wrapped in wiring coming from holes in the mech's back. She beams upon seeing you.

“Hello again!” Flandre says, waving at you; the titan mimics the gesture. “I'm really sorry about breaking your wrist and also hitting you a lot! Also Meiling!”

Big Red shudders, jerkily reaching up towards Flandre. “UNHAND ME!”

The clone wrenches back, arresting the arm's movement. “Nah.”

The mech sags in defeat, somehow projecting dejection despite the lack of any facial features.

“What-” you begin.

'How-' says your AI.

“Why?” You both finish in unison.

“It wasn't easy!” Flandre says.

“I-” You shake your head. “Okay, putting that aside, aren't you bothered at all by what you- er, the real you did? I thought you had a mental link?”

Flandre shrugs, the titan repeating every gesture. “Well, that was me, but also not me, if you get what I'm saying? Besides, I'm gonna get reabsorbed sooner or later, I'll let it get me down then. But before that happens, I've got a giant robot, and I'm gonna use it!”

“Are you- okay, let's make this perfectly clear. Are you going to rodeo that mech throughout this facility and break everything?”

She winks. “Exactly!”

“...Huh. Well, I could use a lift.”

She makes a complicated gesture, and the titan gives you a thumbs up. “Sure thing!”

You rapidly come to have second thoughts about this as a giant hand wraps itself around you, and you firmly resolve to never ask Flandre for a lift ever again as she pitches you towards the hole in the ceiling. You soar through the dropship, out the hangar doors, arc through the fresh Gensokyo air, swiftly approach the ground, land-


You spend maybe ten seconds or so feeling terrible before you push yourself up, finding yourself face-to-face with an overly-curious fairy. She shrieks, rapidly backpedaling, and behind her the clearing is brimming with fey. Now that they're all free, the rescued fairies are absolutely everywhere: up in the trees, puttering about on the ground, or simply hovering around, you name it, they're doing it. Of course, the entire group is currently staring at you in all your bloodsoaked, charred, broken glory. Kyouko, seated at the base of a tree, looks at you with eyes wide as the metaphorical dinner plates, her mouth hanging open as she takes you in.

The air is silent as you slowly raise a finger. “You all...” You sweep the accusatory digit across the crowd. “Are smalltime.” Your finger pauses over Kyouko. “Except you. You're all right.”

The fairy that discovered you opens her mouth, gives you a once-over, and then clicks it shut. “Yeah, he's got us there.”

“See to calling a medevac for me, would you?” You whisper, and the AI beeps in response. That handled, you limp over to Kyouko and plunk yourself down next to her. She scoots over a little to accommodate your presence.

The two of you share a moment of silence before she works up the courage to look you in the eyes. “So, you look like hell. What happened down there?”

You roll a shoulder in a shrug. “Giant robot. Flandre. Men with guns. Myself. Mostly the first two.”

“Fl- what.” Her tone takes a hard edge. “What did she do?”

“Oh, she got filled full of holes, but that just made her mad. Enough to do this!” You raise your broken hand and shake it around a little for effect. The way Kyouko blanches makes you feel like a tool, so you stop.

“Doesn't that hurt?” Kyouko asks, once she's worked through the inherent cringe-factor of watching a hand flop around in ways that shouldn't be possible.

“Oh, excruciatingly so. What about your face?”

She winces. “It's- it stings, but it's nothing I can't handle.”

Well, that's no good. Still, nothing you can do about it right now. “So, you mind if we talk for a bit? Give me something to think of besides the searing agony of my every waking moment? That'd be nice.”

She bites her lip. “Well, um, whaddya want to talk about?”

“I...” You furrow your brows. “Maybe it's just the concussions talking, but I don't think I'm coming up with anything. Also, the pain. The pain's definitely a negative factor there.”

Kyouko snorts. “Well, okay, you can still be a wise-ass. Let's consider that a good sign, yeah?”

You nod agreement. “So, where's the wookie?”

“Up top, still watching out for us.” She frowns. “Why is he called that, anyway?”

“You're telling me you- wait, no.” You slap your helmet. “No, you don't have movies here, do you?”

“I saw a Kappa demonstration once,” Kyouko says, a touch defensively. “I mean, it was neat, but there wasn't much to it. Anyway, I don't see how this is relevant to his name, AE.”

“I gotta show you Star Wars sometime,” you firmly declare. “You deserve to enjoy them.”

“Huh. What're they about?”

“Well, there's-

A fairy awkwardly shuffles up to the two of you and clears her throat. “Um, hi?”

You listlessly glare at her. “What.”

The girl scowls. “I was gonna say thanks for the save, but if you're gonna be a jerk, then phooey on you, mister. Anyway, what happened to Meiling? She's not still down there, is she?”

You shrug. “She's got a big hole in her chest, but besides that? Well enough, I guess.”

The girl's hands shoot up to cover her mouth. “B-Boss is down?”

You damn near flinch as all the fairies turn to stare at you, every single face sporting a new and varied manner of horrified expression.

“Awwgod, awwgod,” says another. The general sentiment is echoed by the rest of the fairies.

Kyouko looks faintly gobsmacked. “I always thought she was invincible,” she mutters.

“Flandre's taking her back to the mansion right now,” you hurriedly say, holding your hand up to try and forestall mass panic. “I'm sure Remilia can fix her up.”

The fairy blinks. “Oh, Flan's got her?”

“Quite.” You refrain from telling them that it was her who's responsible in the first place, for obvious reasons. Fortunately, the news that Meiling's being evacuated to the mansion is enough to prevent everyone from losing their minds. You give them a little while to make sure they're calmed down before you turn back to Kyouko.

“So,” Kyouko says, trailing off as she tries to come up with a question. “Are we just going to stay here and talk all day, or do you have something else planned?”

“Well, not counting the medevac team coming over, there's also a salvage team on the way to where I brought my ride down.”

She cocks her head to the side. “You had a ride?”

“Hijacked one of those dropships that were attacking the mansion. You might have spotted them before you, well-”

“Got zapped?” She looses a bitter little chuckle. “Yeah, I know. You can't fly, though, so how'd you make it up onto one?”

“...Meiling threw me at it.”

Kyouko squints at you. “Really.”

You shake your head, smiling despite yourself. “You wound me, kid. You really do.”

“I-” Kyouko cuts herself off, eyes on the sky. “Wait, wait, you hear that?”

The growing whirr of engines above alert you to the presence of another aircraft, and you whistle appreciatively. “That's probably my medevac.”

“Maybe you should tell them that,” she says, indicating all the fairies; the girls have gone to ground at the noise, snatching up sticks and rocks in preparation for battle. Some are even dual-wielding, for all the good it'd do them.

You pull yourself up. “Hey, everyone? The new folks are with me. Please don't try to murder them.”

“Wha- aw, damn it,” one says, tossing her weapons down. The rest glumly follow suit.

The aircraft in question buzzes overhead, revealing itself to be the Valkyrie from earlier, new plating hastily welded over the holes that had punctured it. It hovers down in the nearby open space, and the side of the craft open up to reveal a passenger compartment with four rifle-wielding men inside, every one covered head-to-toe in green-and-white body armor.

“Friendly spotted,” one trooper says, pointing you out. He reaches further inside the ship, pulling out a cylindrical machine with several sets of legs at the base, and tucks it under his arm. He hops out and hoofs it your way as the rest of the squad covers him, the fairies giving him a wide berth.

“Should I go?” Kyouko whispers, watching with trepidation as the soldier approaches.

You shake your head. “You're with me, you're fine.”

The man reaches you, and gently sets the machine down. “God, AE, you really have to stop getting hurt so much!” he says, tapping out a rapid sequence on the mech's control panel. The drone springs to life, experimentally flexing its legs, then skitters over to you like an affection-seeking crab.

“Patient vitals critical,” it chirps, synthesized voice high-pitched. “Immediate medical attention required. Deploying first aid!”

A small barrel emerges from its forward port, aimed at you, and begins emitting a green mist. The moment you breathe it in, your aches and pains are bludgeoned into submission by the power of technology.

“Oooooh, that's the stuff,” you say, bliss overtaking you.

“Um. Hi?” Kyouko says, giving the man a little wave.

The soldier leaves you in the care of the drone, turning his attentions towards Kyouko. “What's your name, miss?”

Kyouko looks askance at you, and once you nod she locks eyes with the soldier. “Kyouko, mister...?”

He presses a fist to his chest in salute. “LG dash two-seven-seven-one-four. A pleasure, miss.”

“So you do all have weird names,” Kyouko says, smiling just a little as she looks back at you.

“Hey, we don't pick 'em,” he says.

The drone cuts off its flow of medicine, leaving you feeling tingly and mostly pain-free. “Internal injuries mended. Patient vitals stabilized. Recommend further treatment at proper medical facilities.” It swivels towards Kyouko. “Unauthorized patient spotted. Commence healing?”

“I, um.” The girl looks hopeful. “Can I? My face kinda stings.”

LG shakes his head. “I'd love to, but you're not with us, so-”

You glare at him with all the ire of a man who's been bludgeoned, stabbed, shot, strangled, crushed, burned, blown up, and maimed, with a great and terrible fury at his horrible day the only thing still keeping him awake.

“On the other hand,” LG says, already tapping away on the drone's controls. “If I don't authorize aid, I'm fairly certain AE will strangle me.”

“Commencing treatment!” The mech chirps, unleashing a spray of medical magic on the girl. She takes a deep breath, and her eyes bolt open in shock, the burns on her face already fading away. Once it finishes mere moments later, she tentatively caresses the newly-healed skin.

“The first time's always the best,” you admit, as she rubs her face in wonder.

“Wow,” she says, grinning widely. “Holy, seriously, wow.

LG offers you his hand. “We still need to get you back for proper treatment, AE. Can you walk, or would you rather have us pull out the stretcher?”

You take his hand, and he pulls you up with a grunt of effort. “You get the bot, I'll walk.”

He deactivates the drone with another rapid series of taps and tucks the weighty machine under his arm. While he returns to the ship, Kyouko springs to her feet, all vim and vigor, and neatly pulls your arm around her shoulders, using herself as your makeshift crutch.

“What in the-” you say.

“Hoooh gods you're heavy,” she says, every word a visible effort. She flashes you a smile. “But not heavy enough!”

The two of you manage a shaky step forward, then another, and another, before falling into a rhythm.

“Thanks,” you say.

Kyouko shrugs. “Really, I should be thanking you. You, uh, you saved me, y'know?”

“Yes, that's something that happened,” you say, dryly.

“Well, you didn't have to, so...” Her smile droops. “Why? I mean, you- we hardly know each other.”

You roll your eyes. “So? You really thought I'd have left you behind?”

She inhales sharply at that. “I- I guess you wouldn't have, huh?”

“You're damn right.”

You're only a few steps away from the ship when Kyouko stops, and you both look at each other.

“So, I guess this is goodbye?” She averts her eyes. “Hey, AE? I know I said this before, but... thanks. For, well, everything.”

You pat her shoulder. “Any time, Kyouko. Any time.”

LG waves at you from inside the ship. “Come on, we're burning daylight!”

“Coming!” Kyouko shouts back. “He's just really heavy!

The two of you limp the rest of the way in silence, and Kyouko reluctantly slips away, leaving you to be hauled inside the ship by two of the men providing overwatch. You're quickly ushered into a seat, and you sink into it with a hefty sigh.

“Howdy, AE,” says the pilot, his voice buzzing over the ship intercom. “Who's your lady friend?”

“I'm really not in the mood.”

“All right, I getcha. Looks like they nailed you good back there.”

“Titans, you know?” He grunts sympathetically at that explanation. “Anyway, sounded like you were pretty shook up back at the mansion.”

“Ah, s'nothing. Thanks for asking, though. Buckle in, everybody!”

As everyone follows the pilot's instructions, you try to blank your mind and simply relax. It's a pointless endeavor, however, with your thoughts wandering back to Flandre and Meiling.

You glance outside, where Kyouko is hugging herself as she watches the ship rise.


[X] You've done your job, and then some. You, of all people, have earned a proper rest. Return to base, debrief, and take as long as you need to recover.

[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.

[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.

Just one last thing before we take a well deserved break.
[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.

Seems like a choice between more Touhous and learning a bit more about the organization we're from. I'd like some of the latter but frankly, I'm more concerned about Meiling at the moment.
[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.
[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.
[X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.

Can't leave a job unfinished, after all. His injuries aren't so much a concern now that he's high on morphine.
X] You got Flandre and Meiling involved in your raid, and you're not just going to leave Flandre to deal with the fallout alone. Have the pilot set a course for the mansion.
-[X] And bring Kyouko along too, while you're at it; Mystia's still somewhere thereabouts, and she could use a friend to keep her in place while the drone sees to her.

As a wiser man than me once said, it's not over until it's over. Let's see this through to its end.
I really need to get better at making choices that are all equally appealing. Anyway, consider things called!
Do you like pure vanilla /at/ material, dear readers? Of a purely non-canon variety? Starring everyone's favorite echodog? If so, and if you haven't already seen the thread anyway, have I got a surprise for you!


But of course, you didn't come here for that! You came here for more of the story proper, and it's coming atcha!
Hi. Just want to inform you that you just got yourself a new reader. Currently im on archive binge, trying to catch up. May I say that I find your mc the most relatable in this site? And that you write the cutest kyouko? can I have echodog route, plz?
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I'm glad you like it! As for echodog route, well, that falls to the readers, and they seem to really like Meiling!


It'd be so easy to just go home and recover, but there's that nagging feeling in the back of your head that you should at least try to smooth things over with the Mansion, especially considering how Remilia might come after you for retaliation if you don't make yourself accountable; being stuck in recovery when a raging vampire breaks into your base is not high on your list of things to see in life. You clench your good fist, internally cursing yourself for what you're about to do.

"Oi!" you say, giving the wall behind you a solid thump. "Change of plans! We're going back to the mansion!"

The other four men all stare at you as one. LG coughs into his hand. "You do realize you look like you'll die the moment someone breathes on you, right?"

When the intercom crackles again, the pilot's tone is surprised. "I'm not sure you're in any state to make that call, sir."

You scowl at everyone present, and they all lean back just a little bit. "I want to see this through, all right? Besides, I've been stabilized. I'll keep."

"You make a convincing argument, and not solely because you outrank me, sir."

You lean back in your seat, satisfied. "Good. Now bring us back down for just a second, I want to take the little lady along."

The pilot's voice takes a joking edge. "Changed your mind about her after all, eh?"

"Well, she helped me out in the mansion earlier. I'm just paying it back."

The craft begins a slow descent, stopping only when you're low enough to look a very surprised Kyouko in the eye. "Oi!" you call, waving. "Change of plans, we're going for Mystia!"

She hardly blinks before leaping on board. The moment she sets foot inside, the girl shrinks underneath everyone else's gazes shifting towards her; she quickly sits next to you, using your bulk as a shield.

You raise your hand. "Considering we have a guest, maybe some introductions would be fitting." And, of course, your visor can't relay their information because it's busted, so this works out for you just as well.

"Hi, guys?" Kyouko says, giving each and every man a little wave in greeting. "Not gonna lie, the staring is kinda creepy, you know?"

Her words only serve to make the men gawk more. The one next to you nudges your side with his elbow. "Damn, AE, where did you find her? Now I want one!"

Another leans forward, trying to get a better look. "She looks so- so fluffy. Like one of those little puppies you see in pet commercials."

"Nobody here is taking me home with them!" Kyouko hurriedly says, huddling close to you for protection.

The soldier freezes. "How did you know?"

"Hey, what about the rest of us?" a fairy shouts, the better to be heard over the ship's engines.

"You'll be fine!" you call back. She makes an exceedingly rude gesture in response, which is matched in turn by one of the men behind you when he thinks you're not looking.

Your internal comms burst alive. "Don't worry," Bush Monster says. "I'll keep things under control here. Nothing's getting at them without me punching a hole through its head."

Well, everything seems to be under control. You slam your fist against the ship again. "We're ready to roll!"

"Roger that, we're moving," comes the pilot's easy reply. A brief feeling of weightlessness fills your gut as the craft rises, and in moments you're hovering above the treeline, the fairies below tiny enough you can fit them between the gaps in your fingers. The compartment door slides closed, leaving red warning lights to cast an eerie crimson glow over the chamber.

The reasoning behind the pilot's earlier warning to buckle in makes itself apparent as the ship's engines roar, pushing out enough energy to launch your transport through the skies with enough speed the ground below all blurs together, wind whistling through the gap. Kyouko damn near slides out of her seat from the sudden shift, emitting a yelp of dismay as she does so, but you grab the back of her shirt and pull the girl close.

"These seats need some more freakin' buckles," she squeaks, holding onto your arm to anchor herself.

"Everyone comfortable back there?" asks the pilot, but he doesn't wait for an answer before pressing on. "At the rate we're moving, our ETA is only a minute or so. Be ready to move!"

"Right, we were on the subject of introductions?" asks the man who'd been planning on taking Kyouko home with him. "I'm HK dash four-two-seven-three-three. Nice to meet'cha."

The man opposite him raises a hand. "JC dash nine-zero-three-eight-one here."

That just leaves the one next to you, who taps fingers against his helmet. "XJ dash two-two-six-four-five."

LG nods. "And you're already familiar with myself, miss."

Kyouko stares blankly at the men for several moments, then slowly shakes her head. "I am so not gonna remember all your numbers, I'm sorry."

"Frankly, it's a bitch and a half for us too," XJ says. "Just feel free to use the initials."

HK spreads his hands in defeat. "The only reason I remember half of them is because the info's fed to our HUDs."

"Your what?" Kyouko asks, the men's casual attitudes easing her out of her wariness.

"He means our helmets," you smoothly interrupt, shooting a warning look HK’s way. "And I'm afraid we can't really go into detail on that. State secrets."

"Ah, I get it." Kyouko nods sagely. "You're worried I'll spread technical deets on your stuff."

"...deets?" you ask, struggling to understand why anyone would ever shorten the word into something so dumb.

"I'm pretty sure we have some of those in the confectionary," JC mutters.

The intercom crackles. "We're approaching! Brace yourselves!"

The ship's blistering pace jerks to a sudden halt, nearly throwing Kyouko out of her seat again were it not for your steady hold. The compartment door opens again to reveal the mansion below, trailing smoke from a multitude of destroyed sections. Fairies bustle and flitter about aimlessly, much fewer in number than they were when you left, although more can be seen inside the mansion through the many holes pockmarking the building. Everyone leans out to get a closer look, although Kyouko never lets go of your arm. Murmurs of curiousity rise up from the men as they take in the scene.

There's an impressed whistle from LG. "Looks like there was quite the brawl down there."

"It was," you and Kyouko both agree. The two of you share a look, and she shrugs. "I had plenty of time to watch before one of those metal jerks found me."

JC grunts, propping his elbows on his knees and resting his chin in a hand. "I don't like flying around exposed like this. Who knows who might want to shoot at us?"

HK makes a contemplative sound. "Not to mention how everyone's seen us by this point, and you can be damn sure they're not going to forget us easily."

XJ spreads a hand. "The moment those, whaddaya want to call them? Douchebags? Assholes? Pricks?"

HK chuckles. "Pricks sounds good."

"It seems to fall to me to remind everyone we have a lady present," LG says, pointedly sweeping his gaze over the group.

Kyouko offers the soldier a wan smile. "Honestly, after all I've been through today, I really don't care any more."

"Oh." He sinks down, his attempt at chivalry thoroughly crushed.

"Well, like I was saying," XJ continues. "The moment those pricks attacked the mansion, I think it was only a matter of time before our cover got blown."

"You mean it wasn't already when we sent the human wrecking ball in?" JC asks, gesturing towards you.

You sniff haughtily. "I have some finesse, thank you."

"Did you forget about the bomb already?" Kyouko needles, her smile sly.

You turn your nose up at her. "The key word was some, if you'll recall."

HK leans in, his posture shifting to something far more alert. "Oh, man, you actually got to use an Eviscerator? Awesome! What did you blow up?"

"I used one to thin out a horde of fairies chasing me in Knowledge's library, yes." You sigh. "I don't think I'll ever be welcome there ever again."

"You blew up a library?" JC asks. "Get the hell out of here."

"No, no, it's all true," Kyouko says. "It went up, like, as high as we are right now, and way out, too. All there was left in the blast zone was a crater."

"Sounds about right," LG says. "Shame you had to detonate it, AE. How many books must have gone up in the blast?

You shrug. "A lot."

XJ shakes his head. "Wish I could've seen it."

"Well, I caught a good chunk of it on my camera," you say. "Maybe after I debrief, I'll pass that part around."

HK pumps his fists. "Fuck yeah!"

"I hate to break up the convesation," says the pilot, "but are you sure you want me to set down, AE? We can still-"

"I wouldn't have set a course here if we weren't going to land," you say. There's a sigh from the man, but the ship begins a swift descent. It burns away some of the few intact patches of grass left as it touches down. The fairies watch your landing with trepidation, but don't make any moves to attack - whether that's because your alliance with Remilia still holds or if they're simply wary of what they saw the ship do before, you're not entirely sure.

Kyouko, all too eager to get her feet on solid ground, is the first to hop out, followed by you and LG. The rest of the men quickly follow, forming a tight circle around you with their weapons at ready. "All right," you say, once you're sure everyone's listening. "Kyouko, do you think Mystia's still in the woods somewhere?"

She nods. "She might have moved, but she can't have gone too far."

"Right." You single out two men with a finger each. "JC, XJ? I want you two to stick with her while she searches. Keep me informed if anything else happens while I'm inside the mansion, all right?"

The men fall in line next to Kyouko, both surprised and grateful at her sudden escort, and they bang their fists against their chestplates. "Got it."

Satisfied, you gesture at the remaining two. "HK, LG, you two are with me."

"Do we get that little guy to come with us?" Kyouko asks, looking askance at the drone under LG's arm.

"That was the id-" A thought occurs to you mid-sentence, and you swear beneath your breath at the realization. "Actually, that's not possible right now."

Kyouko's expression falls as realization strikes. "Right, Flandre and Meiling."

You lay a hand on her shoulder. "Remilia's likely already working on them, but she could use any help we could offer."

Her lips draw thin, but she nods anyway. "Considering I wouldn't even be here if it weren't for the three of you busting me out, well, I'm in no position to complain." She gently pries your hand off her shoulder, giving you a tight little smile. "What are you waiting for? Go get 'em!"

"Keep me posted," you tell the men, and they nod before heading for the trees with Kyouko. With them out of the way, you begin limping towards the mansion, your own men falling in step with you. HK slings his rifle over his back, then pulls your arm around his neck to act as a living crutch.

"So what are the odds this Remilia is going to try and kill us?" he asks, waving cheerfully at any fey that get close.

"Depends on if we're late or not," you say, both annoyed at everyone thinking you need the help and grateful that they're giving it to you, because even the medical spray you were hit by can't make you walk straight.

"You're so good at reassuring people," LG dryly says.

"I was not aware morale boosting fell underneath AE's duties."

It's everyone else's turn to reel in surprise at the AI: HK nearly drops you, and LG trips over his own feet, barely righting himself before suffering an ignominous faceplant.

"And that's the AI that Command snuck into my suit, yes," you say flatly, the better to disguise your amusement. You flag a nearby fairy down while the men grapple with that revelation, and the girl hesitantly approaches.

"Yes, sir?" she asks, shrinking underneath your attention. Or maybe because you look like a mangled monster that shouldn't be alive, but you'd bet good money on the former.

You gesture towards the mansion. "Flandre came through here not long ago, right? Where'd she go?"

The fairy bites her lip. "She was screaming for Mistress Remilia when she flew by. You'll probably find the two of them in what's left of the throne room."

"Thanks for the help," you say, about to move on.

She clenches her fists. "Um, is Meiling going to be all right?"

"Give us a few minutes with her and she'll be good as new," LG says.

A genuine smile crosses her face. "Well, good! I won't keep you any longer, then."

Once she scurries off, you and yours press onward. It's an uneventful, time-consuming slog to reach the throne room, although it's certainly not a painless one with all the wreckage you have to climb over. Once you're in the mansion proper, the damage becomes markedly more pronounced. Some of the halls are nigh-untouched, whereas others have dozens of craters and shattered windows scattered about.

As you near your destination, you shrug HK off. "I think it'd lose a bit of the effect I want to have on Remilia if you carry me in."

"Fair enough," he says, switching back to his rifle. The two men trail behind you by a step as you make your approach.

You turn one last corner and find yourself staring at the overlarge door between you and Remilia. Standing guard nearby is a familiar figure, robotic heads mounted on the pauldrons of her scarred and pitted armor, and she watches your party with barely-concealed hostility.

"Hello, Karin," you greet, stopping well out of reach of her axe. The fairy glares at you, but makes no move to attack.

"Milady Scarlet is not to be disturbed," she tersely spits out.

"Is she working on Meiling?"

A distinctly familiar shout of pain pierces the door, and Karin flinches. You, meanwhile, feel both concern and, surprisingly, relief; if Meiling's able to yell like that, she can't be in terrible condition.

"Whether she is or not is irrelevant," Karin says, her stern bearing returned. "And Milady left me strict instructions that she was absolutely not to be disturbed."

It's here that LG and HK step up. Karin tenses as LG sets the drone down and taps away at its controls.

"Behold!" HK says, sweeping his arms towards the drone. "We bring technology!"

LG finishes activating it directly on cue, and the drone clicks its legs together. "Hello!"

"It shoots medicine. Very helpful!" LG says, patting the mech on its head.

"I remain unconvinced," the fairy says, grip tightening on the handle of her axe.

"Also, I have a gun!" HK adds, pulling his rifle free. "So if you keep saying no, I can just shoot you."

"Karin," you hurriedly say, before the fairy flies into a skull-chopping rage at the man's provocation. "There's two ways this can play out." She glares at you, but remains silent, so you forge onwards. "One, you can try to stop us, I shove your face in, and we go in to help. Two, you let us through, and we go in to help. Either way, we get in."

Her fingers twitch as she stares you down. "Do you think me so easily frightened?"

"No. I think you're brave enough to willingly stand against us because you want to help Remilia and Meiling." You step forward, leaving you within striking distance. "But if you really want to help her, you won't turn us away just because you dislike me."

Karin's scowl deepens. "Were our positions reversed, you'd be sore with me too." She sighs, relaxing. "Still, I've no wish to see Meiling suffer further on my account." The fairy stands aside, bowing her head. "In. I'm of no use to them right now anyway."

You smile, relieved. "Thank you."

She grabs you by the wrist as you pass her. "If you try anything untoward, I will cut you."

"If I do, I doubt you'll beat Remilia to it."

She nods, releasing you. "Just so we're clear."

Your troupe marches through the doors, and you find yourself in Remilia's throne room. It looks about as terrible as it did when you left, but more important are the two figures a short distance ahead. Remilia is hunched over Meiling, currently spread out atop a flat piece of rubble serving as a makeshift operating table. You can't get a particularly clear look at what's happening from here, with the vampires blocking your view, but she seems to be operating. There's a meaty crack-

"Godsdammit, Remi, now it's upside down!" Meiling snaps.

"I am not a medical professional," Remilia says, her tone frayed and barely clinging to any semblance of politeness. "So if you would kindly shut up and let me work, maybe I could get your arm on properly."

"It's an arm, it's not the most complicated thing!"

"If you don't quiet down, I might just slap your mouth."

You raise your voice. "Am I interrupting anything?"

Remilia glares over her shoulder, red eyes nearly wild, but her breath catches as she takes you in. Meiling leans out to get a better look, and the only memento of Flandre's impalement is the hole in her dress where she was struck, fresh skin showing beneath it. Her arm, however, is currently flopping around bonelessly, thanks to Remilia's malpractice. Still, whatever discomfort that must give her melts away when she sees you, a grin replacing her pained expression. "Cool, you're alive!"

"Hello, everybody," you say, limping further in. Your men shadow you, weapons lowered, but you know from experience they're ready to spring into action the moment anyone tries anything. "Don't mind them, they're with me."

Remilia turns to face you properly, her dress soaked red. Her face is blank as she looks your group up and down, but she cracks a smile when you lock eyes. "Well, don't you just look like shit."

You blink in surprise. "That's hardly elegant."

She sighs airily, raising a bloody arm for her own inspection. "There is a time and a place for proper decorum, and I'm afraid it's not directly after I've been conducting surgery."

"Without anesthesia!" Meiling cheerfully adds.

The drone perks up at that, but LG's grip on its head prevents it from scuttling away. "Treatment requested?" it asks, settling back down after it becomes clear it's not going anywhere.

Remilia blinks, and a smile crosses her lips. "My goodness, what a cute little thing."

It swivels to look at Remilia. "No life signs detected?"

"That's an unfortunate effect of being technically dead, yes," Meiling says. Her labored breathing undercuts her carefree attitude.

"You're surprisingly chipper for someone who was bleeding out and unconscious ten minutes ago," you note.

Meiling lies back down, groaning in relief. "Not gonna lie, I don't think I can walk straight, and I'm really, really sore. But, hell, I'm sturdy, I can take it."

Remilia rolls her eyes. "Sure, don't mention me waking you up and fixing the hole in your chest, it's not like I care or anything."

You've wasted enough time in banter. "How's Flandre?" you ask. "For that matter, where is she?"

Remilia and Meiling both grow subdued at the name, and Remilia purses her lips. "Sakuya is keeping her company in a secure area in the basement for now. I'm going to see to her after I finish with-"

"The basement?" you ask, your stomach dropping out in a spurt of sudden dread.

Remilia idly waves your concerns off. "Yes, yes, I remember you tunneled inside her room. The basement wouldn't be a very good holding area for her if there weren't other rooms for when she got... especially rowdy, however."

"Oh." You think back on your brief visit. "Well, it did seem fairly large."

"You went straight out, but rest assured, there are deeper holding areas." She sighs, and pinches the bridge of her nose. "That said, I don't wish to leave her alone too long."

"Not with all the bullets in her," you agree.

Remilia's easygoing attitude immediately flatlines. "About that." Her gaze shifts to the men beside you, who admirably stand their ground beneath the vampire's glare. "Perhaps your friends would care to see to Meiling with that little machine of theirs, hm?"

The men are many things, but they're not stupid. "We'd be glad to, ma'am," LG says, releasing his grip on the medical drone. Remilia beckons you aside as the soldiers take position next to Meiling, HK regaling her with an enthusiastic pitch on the drone's capabilities.

"So, what really happened?" she asks, curiosity and a light undercurrent of anger lining her voice. "I can make a good guess as to the generalities just based on how you, Flandre and Meiling look, but I haven't got quite a clear picture of the finer details."


[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.

[X] The abbreviated version. Downplay what happened with Flandre as much as possible: no one wants an angry Remilia right now.

[X] Something more specific? [WRITE-IN]
[X] The abbreviated version. Downplay what happened with Flandre as much as possible: no one wants an angry Remilia right now.
-[x] But don't hide anything. If she asks questions, be honest with her. Just... gentle with the truth.

Poor Flanflan. At least Meiling is doing okay.
[X] The abbreviated version. Downplay what happened with Flandre as much as possible: no one wants an angry Remilia right now.

Would anyone want an angry Remilia at any time?
[X] The abbreviated version. Downplay what happened with Flandre as much as possible: no one wants an angry Remilia right now.
-[x] But don't hide anything. If she asks questions, be honest with her. Just... gentle with the truth.
[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.
[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.

I get the feeling that trying to downplay it would have the opposite effect of keeping her calm.
[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.

After all the hell everyone went through today, she deserves to know what went down.
Remilia's general idea should include Flandre going berserk - otherwise she'd only be panicked (someone I care about might die!) rather then distraught (someone I care about might die, and it's my fault!). Second, Flandre going berserk clearly isn't a foreign concept, not with the 'especially rowdy' euphemism.

On a different note, once Flandre hears that Meiling will be fine, that should go a long way to calming her down.

[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.

Remilia isn't going to flip out - during his initial infiltration, AE was much more a source of amusement then a threat (the library aside). Second, he wound up an ally of convenience during the end of the assault. Third, after freeing the fairies, noone she cares about died. Finally, she's clearly tired, and while AE is incapacitated, he's got a squad with him and a medibot to help Meiling.
[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.

Needs more echodog.
[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.
[X] The abbreviated version. Downplay what happened with Flandre as much as possible: no one wants an angry Remilia right now.
-[x] But don't hide anything. If she asks questions, be honest with her. Just... gentle with the truth.
[X] Full disclosure. You've got no reason to lie, although there's no telling how Remilia might react to how everything happened.
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If you didn't want to tell the truth, you wouldn't have come here in the first place. Still, best to at least reveal it with care; if you give Remilia the wrong impression and she starts to think you responsible for what happened to Flandre, things could get ugly very, very quickly, and you've no illusions of your chances right now.

"Where do you want me to start?" you ask, casting your eyes about for a spot to rest; you find it on another piece of rubble from the mech squad's initial breach of this area, and limp for it with all the gumption a cripple can muster.

Remilia accompanies you, her every lightfooted step matching your slow limp in a display of courtesy. "Work from the top, would you?"

"Reasonable enough." You seat yourself on the rubble with a groan of relief, the dull weight of your ruined leg eagerly giving way beneath you. You're about to launch into your story when Remilia draws her spear into existence with a flash of crimson light, and you reflexively lurch back, flinging your arms up to shield yourself.

While you brace yourself for the inevitable impalement, silently cursing your choice to return, Remilia casually twirls the spear between her fingers before she thrusts it straight into the floor, leaving it sticking out. That done, she leans against it and folds her arms, favoring you with an expectant look. "Well? Out with it, man!"

You struggle for words to appropriately describe your confusion, lowering your arms as you do so, and settle in the end for a simple, straightforward, "What."

She winks. "A lady needs a spot to rest too, you know."

"There is literally a rock two feet away."

She waves you off, flecks of blood flying from her arm and landing on your chestplate. "Really, I just wanted to see your face when I did it." Her brows crease as an idea presumably occurs. "Ah, before you start, how are the fairies you went to save? I'd hate to think you failed after all this."

You stare at her for a long second, giving her the good old-fashioned hard eyeball, before you sigh and shake your head. "Alive, well, and being watched over by one of my people. Flight's still out of the question for them, however, considering they were all shocked before capture."

She claps her hands together, relief crossing her face. "Very nice! And I mean that in the 'they're safe' part, not the 'they were electrocuted' one."

"That was implied, but thank you for clearing it up."

She bares teeth in a mostly genuine smile, honest-to-God dimples cropping up on her cheeks. "Eager to."

"You know, if it weren't for all the blood, that smile would suit you a lot better."

Her eyelashes flutter as she holds a hand over her mouth, heedless of the blood she's smearing across her face. Given how much she already has on her, however, it hardly makes things worse. "And what do I look like now, I wonder?"

"Like you went for a quick dip in your secret underground blood reservoir?"

"Pshh, those are just tacky." Her long tongue flicks out, swiftly cleaning her lips of any blood, and Remilia's eyes clamp shut, knuckles popping from how tightly she clenches her fists. When she opens her eyes again, they're a deep, dark red. She shudders once, a full-body motion, before sinking against the spear with a satisfied half smile. "God above, I had forgotten how Meiling tasted."

"My reservations with you drinking your patient's blood aside, that's really the phrasing you're going with?" you say, the corner of your mouth curling up from wry amusement. "Really?"

"It's not my fault you've a lecher's mind," Remilia says, straight-faced. "Besides, it was either that or wash it off, and the latter is just wasteful." Her frown returns. "But we've wasted time enough with this diversion."

"Quite," you say. "Anyway, the mechs we fought here at the mansion weren't all of them, not by far."

Remilia's stare is akin to the ones an especially thick student would get back at the Academy, and you bristle underneath it. When she speaks, her every word is slow and measured. "Yes, because of course our enemies would send their entire force out and leave their base defenseless."

"Don't be smart with me," you say, shooting a gimlet stare right back.

The two of you match glares for a few moments before Remilia rolls her eyes. "I hope you at least managed to bleed their numbers?"

You settle back down. "Oh, definitely. We didn't take out the whole place, since we went straight to grab your people, but one of Flandre's clones is currently wrecking everything that she can get her giant robot's hands on."

Remilia blinks once, twice, three times. "Say again?"

God, it feels good to confuse her. "I'll get to that later."

She heaves a sigh. "Well, as you insist."

You give her the full rundown of your approach and initial infiltration of the base, but it's only when you reach the part where you reached the Gate chamber that Remilia deems it fit to interrupt. "What are these 'gates', anyway?"

"I don't know their exact inner workings," you lie, "but just imagine a massive shimmering pool of watery fluid and there you go."

Her expression is contemplative. "I always figured the Border was sturdy enough to resist such blatant intrusions."

"Technology!" You spread a hand. "Which seems as good a way as any to segue into the super fighting robot that ended up coming for me."

"I take it that's what got you in such terrible condition?"

"You know it! Sonovabitch was taller than four of me stacked atop each other, roughly, and very angry. It crushed my leg to pulp and was gonna squash me flat until Flandre interrupted. Now her clone is riding it all around and smashing what's left of their base."

"So that's what you meant earlier." Her eyes flick down, mouth twisting in distaste. "Speaking of pulped legs, I'd rather expect you to be screaming more."

There's a KERR-CHAK of bone snapping into place, followed by an impressed whistle. A glance over in Meiling's direction reveals her with her arm in its proper position thanks to HK's aid, and the man steps back to let the woman give her reattached limb experimental swings. LG exchanges a high-five with HK at a job well done.

"Boss!" Meiling calls after she finishes, giving Remilia a toothy grin as she hefts the medical drone underneath her freshly-mended arm. "Holy shit, we gotta get one of these for around the mansion! Look at this little guy!"

"Requesting assistance!" it says, legs kicking around in a panic as it tries and fails to dislodge itself.

"Did you forget who was responsible for keeping you alive in the first place?" Remilia asks, all too sweetly.

"No, no, what you did was great and all, but this thing"-Meiling shakes the hapless drone about some more, heedless of LG making tentative grabs for it-"oh, this thing's got drugs! I almost feel like I didn't get my head repeatedly slammed into concrete!"

"And so you see why I'm not in utter agony," you say.

Remilia's eyes flash your way for a millisecond before returning to Meiling. "Well, seeing as you're apparently all better, maybe you and your new friends would be kind enough to go see if anything needs doing?" She gestures towards the door. "Outside?"

Meiling nods in understanding. She, much to LG's relief, sets the drone back down, jumps to her feet, and immediately collapses as her legs give way beneath her. "Well," she says through a mouthful of carpet, "turns out getting a hole punched through yer chest has more than a few side-effects!"

"No," HK says, dragging the word out for a good three seconds.

"Really?" LG concurs, dragging the drone out of Meiling's reach.

"Jackasses," Meiling grumbles. Nevertheless, she accepts the men's offered hands, both of them pulling her to her feet with a hand each. They look askance at you, but you simply wave them on, and so the four trundle off, soldiers supporting gatekeeper with drone waddling behind them.

Once they're out the door, you make a snapping sound with your thumb and middle finger. "Now that there aren't going to be any more interruptions, let's get what happened with Flandre over with."

"That was the idea, yes," Remilia says, her expression serious.

You open your mouth, close it, and think. Then you speak slowly, picking your words with care. "It was all in our escape. There were just so many men blocking us on the way out that, if we didn't leave someone behind to guard the rear, they'd have caught up with us in short order." You frown. "I think."

Remilia's poker-face could make a statue envious. "You think?"

"Well, I wasn't exactly conscious for a while after I set myself on fire."

"User was incapacitated, as stated," says the AI, and Remilia's eyes shoot wide at its sudden interruption. "Flandre Scarlet assaulted the main body of enemies to cover the retreat. I stayed with her to provide support fire."

"The devil is that?" Remilia asks, leaning away from you, her spear bending to accomodate. "Is- is your armor alive?"

"Basically," you say.

"A gross oversimplification, but yes. I relinquished control to User when he regained consciousness. I shall let him speak from here."

You give Remilia a few seconds to work through the surprise of an intelligent machine, and once she does, you raise your hand. "So when I got back up, that's when everything went to shit for everybody. With all the bullets flying around, I suppose it was only inevitable that one hit Flandre, and with her thrown off from that, it was easy enough for the rest of the men to sight in."

Remilia releases the breath she's been holding. "And that was the beginning of the end, as it were?"

"They pumped so many rounds into her, they literally ripped her apart. And when she healed..." You fix the vampire with a frown. "She was hurting so badly, Remilia. I'm honestly not sure I can blame her for what happened next."

Remilia sinks like an anchor is weighing on her shoulders. "Yes," she mutters, more to herself than you. "Don't know what I expected, really."

"What she did to those men was-" You fall silent, and only after a moment do you realize your face has twisted in a grimace on its own.

Remilia studies you with a sad, knowing gaze. After a bare handful of seconds, she shrugs in a slow, listless motion. "And now you understand why I have the basement as it is."

"I tried to talk her down," you continue, more quietly. "Obviously, it fell through, but I managed to hold her off until Meiling dove back in and kicked her in the head."

"And so we get to the part where Meiling is grieviously maimed," Remilia says, wearing a smile that doesn't reach her eyes.

You nod. "Cue fight scene. We kept trying to get through to her, deflect attacks instead of hurting her and so on, but all that got me was this." You hold your broken hand up. "So, short story shorter, Flandre gets her hand on my face, I'm going to fall to little pieces, and then Meiling pulls her off me."

"So Flandre rips her arm off and punches a hole through her chest for her trouble," Remilia finishes.

"You forget the part where Meiling said that her whole rampage wasn't her fault, which I'm near certain is the main reason we're all still alive right now, but yes, that's essentially it."

Remilia straightens at that, her intrigue unashamedly visible. "That snapped her out of it?"

"And into a great old bundle of tears and self-loathing," you say.

"A state from which you somehow managed to make her return here with Meiling relatively intact," she says, interest giving way to skepticism. "How did you manage that?"

You affect an air of utter indifference. "Well, I yelled at her. Simple enough, really."

Her only reaction to that is a slow blink. "Of course. You shouted my younger sister out of her sorrow and made her come back here."

Your head tilts just the barest portion of an inch. "Well, her mental state was all kinds of squirrelly after what happened with Meiling. Not sure I could have gotten through to her otherwise."

"Ah." Remilia interlaces her fingers, bringing her hands up to cover her mouth. "So to jar my dear sister out of any future homicidal rages, all that needs doing is for me to throw someone in for her to murder, and then I come in to browbeat her for it."

"It has to be someone important to her, but yes."

She favors you with a carefully neutral stare. "That is insane."

"Well, it was that or we all died, so stuff it." You push yourself up to your feet, leaning hard on your good leg. "Satisfied with that explanation?"

Her eyes narrow. "Why did you come back?"

You come up short at that sudden redirect, but recover nigh immediately. "Hell, after everything that's gone down, I figured I owed it to Flandre and Meiling to come here and check up on them."

"That can't be all of it," she says, her stare unwavering and frankly unsettling. "Whatever you really came here to do in your initial attack, you can't possibly have succeeded."

You remain silent, matching her gaze.

"Assuming you didn't lie about anything that happened in your original story, and also assuming you didn't come here to kill me in the first place..." She trails off, eyes toward the ceiling as she thinks. A breath later and she blinks, her wide eyes coming back to rest on you. "Oh, you clever, clever bastard. You wanted to talk to me, didn't you?"

Outwardly, you arch a brow, which is a damn sight more reserved than your internal panic. "That's what you think I was here for? If I wanted to simply talk, all I'd have had to do was beat up the gatekeeper and request a meeting."

Remilia's spear is in her hand before you can even blink, her face set grim as she stares you down. "I have had a trying day, and I am not in the mood to suffer lies."

Your eyes narrow, fist clenching tight. "Do you really want to threaten me?"

Remilia flicks her spear out in a single efficient motion, the tip coming to rest at your throat before you can even twitch. "What I want is the truth," she says, voice so cold it's a wonder you don't ice over right there. "I will ask one more time. Why are you really here, AE?"

[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

[X] It's the truth that you came here to collect firsthand intel on the capabilities of the SDM, which is all Remilia needs to know. You're not lying about your aims for Flandre, you're just... omitting that part.

[X] Lie. Lie like a son of a bitch. You really did come here to kill/capture Remilia, but considering her people's aid in dealing with that enemy installation, you're going to get that kill order rescinded.

[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

This will either go hilariously right, or hilariously wrong, either way I'm happy.
[X] It's the truth that you came here to collect firsthand intel on the capabilities of the SDM, which is all Remilia needs to know. You're not lying about your aims for Flandre, you're just... omitting that part.

What she doesn't know won't hurt her. I'm not about to disobey our orders and get shot.
[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

I don't think lying is a good idea at this point and hopefully he'll convey the fact he's no longer interested in such thing highlighting the times he could have done that but didn't.
[X] It's the truth that you came here to collect firsthand intel on the capabilities of the SDM, which is all Remilia needs to know. You're not lying about your aims for Flandre, you're just... omitting that part
[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

Remilia is too smart. She'll through any lies or omissions.
[X] It's the truth that you came here to collect firsthand intel on the capabilities of the SDM, which is all Remilia needs to know. You're not lying about your aims for Flandre, you're just... omitting that part.
[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

Lies especially ones by omission, is a terrible idea at this juncture.
[x] It's the truth that you came here to collect firsthand intel on the capabilities of the SDM, which is all Remilia needs to know. You're not lying about your aims for Flandre, you're just... omitting that part.
The vote's currently five to four in favor of telling most of the truth as opposed to all of it, everyone! I'll let the vote run for a little while longer before I begin writing.

Also, considering we're in autosage territory, the next update will be in a new thread! And on that note, I just want to say thank you all for sticking along with me and my terrible update pace for as long as you have. Couldn't do this without you, guys.
[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

I don't really think we will be able to keep Remilia from learning of our objective at some point, so I think it's probably best to tell her everything now in order to avoid her future, more powerful wrath.
[X] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

I deleted my earlier vote to switch to this, so be sure to recount from the start.
[x] It's the truth that you came here to collect firsthand intel on the capabilities of the SDM, which is all Remilia needs to know. You're not lying about your aims for Flandre, you're just... omitting that part.

There's no reason for Remilia to know. As long as she doesn't get the information from us or our organisation, there isn't a way for her to find out. We haven't made any actions to grab Flandre so far, so we should be safe unless Remi mind controls us or somehow brings Satori in to help her.
500 year old vampires can be pretty good at sniffing out liars.
[x] Nothing for it but the whole truth, orders to capture Flandre and all. Besides, after what you saw Flandre do, you're convinced that acquiring her is a solely terrible idea, and you'll assure both Remilia and Command as such.

I'm convinced she'll find out somehow regardless.
The whole truth takes the vote, everyone! And with that, I usher Don't Lose Your Head into its third thread!

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