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Latest Update: 7/13/10 - New thread, restoration of old chapters 0 and 1.
Time to shorten this some... Hi, my name is Shrike Flamestar. This is one of my fics. Imagine that. It's not jut a normal fic though, in fact, I often like to say that TRINITY is unlike any other Pokémon fanfic online, and rightfully so. While there are a handful of other Pokemon fics out there with similar settings, very few use a futuristic sci-fi approach like I do here. If you’ve ever seen the anime Ghost in the Shell, you’ll have a good idea of the general feel and tone of TRINITY as it’s a sci-fi Pokémon fic which uses several cyberpunk concepts.
The Pokémon world I represent in TRINITY is nothing like the Pokémon world we all know it as; there are no trainers for one. Technology has granted Pokémon and humans the ability to fully communicate with each other, allowing Pokémon to integrate into human society as somewhat accepted and civilized creatures. The core around which the plot focuses, cybernetics, is widespread in use not only in humans but Pokémon as well. If you think Pokemon is getting too futuristic with every generation, well, consider this a very distant extrapolation of that.
I hope you enjoy TRINITY, but just be forewarned right now that I have a habit of taking a long time to post new chapters, anywhere from one month to three. If you wish to be easily informed of new updates without needing to constantly keep tabs on the thread, my preferred method is via thread subscription. You can also post a reply or shoot me a PM saying that you’d like to be added to my TRINITY PM update list if you prefer that, however.
Table of Contents and Information
Overall Fanfic Rating: PG-15 (Swearing, violence, occasional gore, and other generally more mature themes)
Genres: Science Fiction, original universe, drama, action
A/N: Yeah, yeah, I know this is pretty short compared to my average chapter length in TFC. I guess I have something with short first chapters/prologues.
<Accessing computer terminal. ERROR: Unable to start graphic sub-processes, corruption of file system due to external device detected; dropping to command line. Please enter your commands now,> an inaudible female computerized voice said in the mind of the man who stood before a small computer terminal in an otherwise abandoned hallway. The holographic display of the computer terminal was inactive for a moment, before flashing into existence and displaying a mass of scrolling text that was near impossible for the normal human eye to read at the rate it scrolled. Eventually the text scrolled off the screen, leaving only a flashing command prompt. The man went to work, his hands flying over the computer’s flat keyboard—flush with the surface of the casing that housed the computer—as he entered commands, avoiding bumping into a small device which was inserted into a port next to the keyboard.
Attempting to mask IP address...
Done. Visible IP is 0.0.0.0
Attempting to establish bridge connection through default number of non-networked bridge computers...
Done. Connection through 30 bridge computers established.
MESSAGE from SYSTEM at 188.8.131.526: Welcome to the CYPHER Corp. sector z29kl56m remote security administration terminal! Your IP address, 0.0.0.0, has been logged for security purposes. This terminal requires level 2 security access as granted by CYPHER Corp. All personnel are required to login. Please do so now.
>USER ID: root
>USER PW: exec passcrack.exe.root
Attempting to crack password for user account ‘root’...
Password successfully cracked. Returning to prompt.
>USER PW: ***************
MESSAGE from SYSTEM at 184.108.40.2066: Login credentials accepted.
MESSAGE from SYSTEM at 220.127.116.116: Root administration access has been attempted. Please login with your CYPHER Corp. level 0 security account for authorization purposes.
>USER ID: exec usrsearch.exe.seclev0
Searching for a user account with security level 0 clearance...
User account with specified parameters found. Returning to prompt.
>USER ID: 15963448
>USER PW: exec passcrack.exe.15963448
Attempt to crack password for user account ‘15963448’...
Password successfully cracked. Returning to prompt.
>USER PW: ********************
MESSAGE from SYSTEM at 18.104.22.1686: Login credentials accepted.
MESSAGE from SYSTEM at 22.214.171.1246: Authorization for root administration access has been accepted. Login successful.
WARNING: Active firewall detected.
>126.96.36.1996: exec fwbypass.exe
Attempting to temporarily bypass local firewall...
Firewall successfully bypassed. Bypass should last approximately 1 minute.
>188.8.131.526: exec camsearch.exe.z29kl56m.‘test chamber’
Searching for active security cameras in sector z29kl56m containing string ‘test chamber’...
6 camera transmissions containing the string ‘test chamber’ and originating from sector z29kl56m detected.
>184.108.40.2066: exec camfeed.exe.2.camsearch.exe.z29kl56m.‘test chamber’
Specified camera feeds streaming to video output on port 2.
Closing connection. CYPHER Corp. hopes that this computer terminal provided adequate service and wishes that you continue to have a good day!
“All levels nominal. Finalizing test procedures.”
The flat, emotionless voice came from a room deep in the heart of an immense, pillar-like building. While the building as a whole extended so far into the sky it was hard to see its peak even on cloudless days, the room the voice came from was small and compact, the ceiling low and the space between walls narrow. The room was dimly lit with the large banks of computer equipment against one wall completely in shadows. The brightest light came from the opposite wall where three bright lights shone down on the body within a large glass tube that stretched from the floor to the ceiling, orange liquid inside the tube suspending the figure within. Other similar tubes lined the wall, however only the one was active. At a computer console in the middle of the room a woman, the source of the voice, stood, her eyes staring blankly at the tube while her hands flew across the keyboard, typing at an inhuman rate.
“Test subject appears to be at one-hundred percent health. Initializing termination sequence.”
No one could hear the woman, yet she spoke clearly as she was programmed to in case anyone were to be observing her. While there were no other observers in the room, the security camera that watched her from the corner of the room offered the possibility that someone could be watching at anytime. Other than for her voice the room was silent until a quiet hum began to grow, coming from the glass tube. Inside that tube the test subject began to stir; bubbles escaping from its mouth as, by instinct, it attempted to breathe normally; not realizing it was suspended in the orange-liquid filled tube. If it weren’t for the numerous umbilical cords that ran into its body, it likely would have drowned.
“Subject is regaining consciousness. Termination sequence initialization at eighty percent and rising.”
The test subject’s eyes snapped open, taking in the watery world around it. Just as it began to look at where it was, five metal rings rose from the bottom of the tube and slid up around the test subject, positioning themselves at equidistant intervals in the liquid. The subject’s eyes widened as the rings began to rotate in alternating directions, sparks of electricity leaping between them as they sped up.
“Termination procedure started. T-minus twenty seconds until subject termination.”
The test subject began to howl, thrashing about and trying to free itself of the clamps that secured its feet and arms to the bottom and top of the tube respectively. Its efforts were futile, however; all it could do was watch as electricity leapt amongst the rings, building up a charge that would kill anything in the tube within a nanosecond. Dejectedly the test subject lowered its head and growled. This wasn’t supposed to have happened, it thought to itself.
An explosion suddenly racked the room and the test subject snapped its head up to find that the room’s door had been blown away. A man dressed in a black trench coat and wearing a black fingerless glove over just his left hand ran through the smoldering remains of the door and over to the test operator, pulling a small device out from beneath his coat and pressing it into a port set into the back of her neck. The woman’s eyes widened and her pupils contracted as her body spasmed, before her body slumped limply to the ground. Hurriedly the man retrieved the device from her neck and stepped over to the computer console, running a hand through his short blonde hair.
<It’s about damn time you got here. Why didn’t you tell me about this beforehand?!> The test subject angrily yelled, his speech not verbal but rather mentally transmitted to the man through a matching implant in both of their brains.
“I didn’t know. Just be thankful I had the foresight to hack into some of their security cameras.”
The man’s hands flew over the keyboard as a small cable extended out from his left sleeve and connected to a port on the top of the console. His eyes narrowed as he stared at nothing in particular while he typed, until with a smile he relaxed.
“Termination procedure cancelled.” The man nodded. “Releasing the test subject. My test subject.”
<Please. Spare me the flattery.> The former test subject rolled his eyes as the rings suddenly stopped rotating, falling freely to the floor of the tube with a clatter. The claws that held him in place let go and the liquid in the tube began to drain as a mechanical hiss filled the room. Dropping to the floor of the tube, the former test subject lay sprawled out as the man walked over to him. Finally the last of the liquid had drained and the glass walls of the tube slid into the floor silently as the umbilical cords retracted; the small, insignificant wounds they left on the subject’s body lost among his fur. Shakily the former test subject climbed to his feet, orange liquid slicking his fur down.
“Well, then. Would you rather I call you Blaze? Or maybe Flame?” The man teased as he patted his ally on the back and helped him up.
<Havoc. It’s the name you gave me when we first met, so I’d rather you call me that. What if I were to call you ‘human’ instead of Tashima?>
“Ah, that gives me an idea; why not call you Typhlosion and get it over with?” Tashima teased as he led his Typhlosion, Havoc, over to the computer console.
Ignoring Tashima, Havoc looked at the remains of the door and frowned. <Why aren’t the alarms sounding? You’ve blown up the door and paraded around in front of the security camera. Shouldn’t that attract some attention?>
“Disabled the security beforehand, plus I have a camera disruption field activated around me so they won’t be suspicious with me just popping in and out of the elevator. The way I disabled the security was quite ingenious actually, anybody watching the security system’s status will think everything is operating normally. See, just yesterday I discovered a new flaw in the security cameras, so I wrote this program that...” Tashima began as he typed a few commands into the computer console, the cable once again running from his sleeve to the port on the computer, before Havoc interrupted him.
<Explosions are loud. Someone must have heard it and alerted security. How do you think they’ll respond when they find both me and the door missing, and that operator drone disabled?> Havoc growled as he looked out the door, glancing down the empty hallway in both directions.
“What do you think I’m doing? There!” Tashima yelled triumphantly as he shoved a black, spherical device into another of the ports on the console, unplugging his cable as he threw a cluster of similar looking, yet bigger spheres into the room.
<Wait! Aren’t those—> Havoc began, dumbfounded.
“Yes, they are. If the whole room is gone, the administrators will just assume it was a malfunction with something and won’t get so suspicious that it was some intervention on my part; this is a test chamber after all, they’re sort of prone to accidents. They’ll also just assume you died in the blast, which you were scheduled for anyways so in the end it all works out. We need to hurry now though as they only have a thirty second timer starting once I press this!” Tashima yelled behind him as he rushed out of the room, pressing a button on a small cylindrical object before tucking it back into a pocket on the inside of his cloak. All of the spherical bombs Tashima had scattered throughout the room suddenly split apart, red lights appearing on their surface as their now exposed core pulsed red. Grumbling but without hesitation, Havoc followed, dropping to all fours and giving chase after Tashima.
Within twenty-five seconds Havoc and Tashima had managed to reach an elevator and quickly shoved their way into it, fortunately finding that it was empty. As the elevator began to descend downwards, the building shook and alarms finally sounded as the lights flickered for a moment. Sighing, Tashima wiped his brow as he pried off a panel on the wall of the elevator, extending a cable from his sleeve again and interfacing with the elevator, having to enter commands mentally this time due to the lack of a keyboard. Havoc weakly fell to the floor in the corner across from Tashima, his ears drooping.
“How’d it go?” Tashima finally asked after he was done disrupting the elevator’s functions so that it wouldn’t stop to let anyone else on.
<Mission successful,> Havoc grumbled. <Yet at a cost.>
“You knew the risks beforehand. I warned you and told you that you didn’t have to do it, yet you insisted.”
Havoc merely grunted and rolled onto his side, exhausted after the near death experience.
Tashima frowned and walked over to Havoc, kneeling down beside him. Gently he ran his hand through the fur on Havoc’s neck above the red incendiary spots, parting it. Beneath lay the indistinguishable marks of Havoc’s previous experience. Situated in a hexagon on the back of Havoc’s neck were six circular computer ports, and in the middle of the hexagon a tattoo which read:
Property of CYPHER Corp.
Test Subject #5687-9504-5609
Test Procedure #9013-4598-0043
Test Procedure Details:
“It’s not like being cybernetic is anything new to you; you’ve always had a couple implants. Besides, trust me, it isn’t all that bad. Just wait until you see the Cybernet.” Tashima grinned, trying to cheer Havoc up.
<There’s a difference between ‘a couple’ implants and having most of your body replaced with cybernetic parts. What did I have before? This brainwave communicator, a single bionic eye, and a prosthetic leg. Not even a cybernetic brain. Now not only do I have a cybernetic brain, but nearly my entire body has been reinforced with metal plating, electrical wiring, bodily system monitors, and more; hell, I think I might even have a couple concealed weapons in here someplace.> Havoc sighed as he rolled over to face Tashima.
“You might want to look into those, they could be handy sometime. I’m still trying to figure out how I can get this old thing updated without CYPHER getting suspicious, or breaking the bank.” Tashima smiled as he pulled off his sole glove and rolled up his left sleeve, revealing an arm and hand that looked to be more machine then man. The skin was oddly shiny and reflective, and the faint outline of rectangular shaped buttons could be easily seen over the arm; farther up there were a few small holes inside which the cables he used to interface with computers sat flush with the surface of the arm.
Casually Tashima pressed one of the buttons near his wrist and with a whir his hand popped forwards, extending on a complex series of rails. Organic tendons and wires connected the hand to the arm, but so as not to get in the way they disconnected and were drawn into the hand. The arm then snapped apart into quarters, the panels of imitated skin extending outwards to reveal the messy inner workings of the cybernetic arm, inside which wires and red organic tissue formed a maze that made sense only to the original designer. Finally the hand slid underneath the arm on a set of rails that guided it so that it was out of the way of the most prominent feature of the inner arm: a black gun barrel that ran through the center of the arm and stuck out from its front behind where the hand had been, the tip of it a gaping hole. Over the surface of the gun barrel exhaust vents were aligned with the gaps between the opened skin panels, to provide the necessary ventilation it needed when being used.
“See, this arm is so loud when I open it up, absolutely useless if I ever wanted to use this antique laser cannon undetected,” Tashima scoffed. “Actually, I doubt it even works anymore at all; damn bargains. I sign a life contract to work here and they give me a piece of junk; it doesn’t even look like a normal arm! Good thing I haven’t had to use it since the Cyber Crisis... Seems like it was just yesterday, but I look around me now and see what a change eight years can make,” Tashima reminisced, looking up at the elevator’s floor readout; they were almost at their destination now.
<You were only fourteen then, of course the world will look different from the eyes of a teenager than from an adult.>
“Maybe so,” Tashima mused, pressing the same button on his arm again, the arm shutting closed seamlessly with a hiss, no signs that it had ever opened up visible. His arm back to normal, he rolled his sleeve down again and slid the fingerless glove back on his hand to mostly hide its cybernetic appearance.
Silence followed for a moment before Havoc gave another sigh. <We don’t even know what this TRINITY thing is; is it really worth all this trouble?>
Tashima shrugged. “CYPHER is keeping very secret about it and it’s going to go into mass production soon, so it’s obviously important and thus I want it to get my hands on it first.”
<You and your toys... Was the cost really worth it this time?>
“...As I said, you didn’t have to do it.”
Havoc pulled himself to his feet as Tashima did so as well, the Typhlosion standing about a foot shorter than Tashima. <Don’t get me wrong, I’m suspicious about it too and want to find out what it is, plus, I’d never let you down. Perhaps being fully cybernetic won’t be so bad after all, I’m just bitter now is all.>
“...Thanks,” Tashima simply said as the elevator slowed down, finally stopping.
The pair stepped out of the elevator and onto a transparent floor far above the ground in an enormous dome-shaped structure. The pillar that housed the elevator Tashima and Havoc had been riding on rose up from the ground and out the top of the dome, forming the extremely tall skyscraper which was the building’s most prominent external feature. The elevators ran around the outside of the pillar-like skyscraper with all the rooms housed in its interior, thus allowing the elevators to open onto the inside of the dome.
As prominent as the pillar was, the large dome-shaped building which enveloped the pillar’s base was arguably the most important feature of the building for most people, including Tashima. While he did work for CYPHER, the corporation that owned the entire building, the pillar was largely devoted to the actual scientists and administrators that made the corporation run. The dome was where normal employees such as Tashima lived and worked, with the need to go into even the lower floors of the pillar rare. Buildings covered the ground around the base of the pillar and lined shelf-like protrusions that stuck out from the inner walls of the dome, making the inside of the dome a sort of small city within the vastly larger city outside of the dome. Light shone down from the top of the dome, a cluster of lights ringing the pillar providing most of the dome’s internal lighting; however the multicolored lights from the various buildings did enough on their own to light up the dome.
Security guards stood to either side of the elevator to stop people who didn’t have authorization to enter the pillar. Fortunately, while there wasn’t any reason for most normal employees to go into the pillar, access to it was allowed so long as normal employees stayed away from sensitive areas, which pretty much meant the entire upper half of it. They didn’t seem to mind Tashima coming out of the elevator, though he had his ID ready in case he needed to prove he was an employee to them. Tashima escorted Havoc down one of the several; glass-like piers that branched out from the pillar, seeming to be supported by nothing. Reaching where he had parked, Tashima stepped into the front seat of a small, open-topped red aerocar docked at the end of the pier as Havoc hopped into the seat behind Tashima. Placing his hand on a panel on the aerocar’s control panel, a light flashed as his hand was scanned, an array of holographic displays appearing in mid air.
“Hey, want to grab something to eat?” Tashima asked as he prodded at the holographic displays, flicking some out of the way and using two fingers to make a few bigger, scanning over the news feeds to see if anything interesting had happened in the world. Naturally, nothing had.
<Do I even need to eat anymore?> Havoc grumbled.
“You need to work on that bitterness. But whatever, can’t hurt to do so anyways!” Tashima grinned, scrolling through a list of destinations in one of the holographic windows before picking one out, selecting it. The aerocar automatically undocked from the pier and slowly drifted away from it before its engines activated and it flew away towards the inner wall of the dome, accelerating to its top speed in a split second. Tashima sunk down in his seat as he let the aerocar fly its course on autopilot, only now able to truly relax.
End of Prologue
Hey, I actually did recognize you from Serebii. I, too, am dual-running my current fic both here and there. Not that it makes getting readers any easier.. >__>;
I read through, just put up my comments as I went along.
Not bad! A pretty exciting, fast-paced start to get us going. In geenral your language and description is all excellent. Plot is interesting, though we don't really know a whole lot yet. Keep it up, I suppose.
Hey, thanks for reading and taking the time to reply! ...You know, I think that was the fastest reply I’ve gotten on anything I’ve ever posted, ever.
I’ve begun to notice how most typos I make and overlook during proofreading are in the sections which I add during proofreading. I usually look over those sections again, but apparently I don’t do a good enough job of it. Thanks, I fixed those two typos you pointed out.
Heh, I have Astinus to thank for helping to better develop my grasp of grammar. Long ago when I was early on in my first fanfic (the one I started in 2006 that while not being my true first I consider to be my realistic first) she was my beta reader and helped me a lot. All hail our glorious mod overlord!
You are right. Robots and computers in general are under-used in pokemon. I did see one other story involving such things-- about an android, actually, but it was never finished and completely unrelated in plot.
I found the little computer lingo details amusing. When I first saw the IP address, I was like 'That has to be fake. That or the author is lazy.' That whole hacking part was probably my favorite, since it actually made me think for a few seconds. I could have just continued reading and then read what all that accomplished... But that would have been the easyyy way.
I do have one question. If they don't train, what is your explanation for pokemon evolving that do so by 'leveling up'? Do you go with the classical 'they just evolve automatically from aging' or do you have some sort of scientific invention that speeds up the process, perhaps a vitamin-pill resembling a 'rare candy' from the games? Are there pokemon who evolve while overweight and fat and the exact opposite of in-shape from battling?
It's very rare that I see a story on this forum that shows such sharp contrast with traditional fan fiction style, nice job! The atmosphere was fantastic, and the description does a really good job of setting the stage and establishing the originality of the situation. The section with the terminal really gave it a feeling of authenticity, and it was surprisingly convincing, too. I'd like to have some of those system-undermining executable files! While some of your sentences sounded a little awkward, they were all legible.
Here's some advice I have: While the scene showing what was displayed on the terminal was great, I'd make a point to not write too many scenes similar to it. I've known a lot of people who get a little carried away when writing output from computers in stories. Only using a scene like that once or twice in a story is much more powerful than making it redundant. Also, here's something I tell just about everyone who makes their first post a prologue: A prologue is supposed to be events that happen before the beginning of the actual story. Seeing as this prologue was pretty long, you might want to consider just calling it your first chapter.
This was an excellent start and I really hope you continue it! You're writing this in a terrific manner to avoid cliches, so keep it up!
EDIT: I almost forgot, there's a little problem I noticed. While the vast majority of the fic feels very professional, there's one little line that seems a tad amateurish:
My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside (SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place)
Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names
If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.
This story is extremely awesome! I am a huge fan of sci-fi as well as Pokemon, so this fits right in! The cyber people kinda remind me of the Borg though, ... those things are creepy.
I'm back. But not as active as before. 2 years has been too long.
Check out my food blog if you're not busy.
Sorry I didn’t get to respond to any of you sooner, I’ve been preoccupied with various things relating to school and my other interests (ie, video games). I’ve also had a hard time figuring out just where to kickoff chapter one, but I finally decided on how to do it and began writing and am pleased with how it’s coming out so far. No solid date on when to expect it, but keep an eye out...
Thanks all for your comments and advice though, late as it may be! (By my standards, at least. I like responding almost immediately)
First of all, the concepts of levels and experience points from the games play little to no part of my vision of the Pokémon world at all. Same goes for other things, such as Pokémon only knowing four attacks at once. The way I see it, concepts such as those simply would not fit into a story that tries to portray the Pokémon world in a more realistic (yet still obviously fictional) light. My concept of evolution by level is thus more like evolution by age along with their battle experience. In the wild, Pokémon would naturally evolve as they grew older. In a trainer’s ownership, this could still apply, however the emotional and psychological effects that battles have on the Pokémon can, in essence, makes them age faster. Basically, a trainer who caught a Pokémon and never ever battled with it would still have it evolve in time, but if the same trainer with the same Pokémon were to frequently battle with it, the “experience” it gained through the battles would help it evolve sooner. Hope that makes sense.
Oh, and while it’s true that there are no trainers in the world at all (I’ve made up my mind, there will, in fact, not be a single Pokémon Trainer in this world for reasons that will be explained in the first chapter) that doesn’t mean that Pokémon don’t battle, just that no longer do they have to follow what humans tell them to do. I don’t know when I’ll get around to showing what I’m thinking of, but it’ll be in the story sometime.
Also, this prologue isn’t long at all according to my standards. Recently chapters around 20 pages have become the norm in my other fanfic (one of the reasons I don’t want to post it here just yet), so this is nothing.
As for this one, I may go back and edit that to make it better. Might as well do it now before I get any further in.
EDIT: And done.
Pokémon and humans, two mutually dominant and yet independent beings that inhabit the world which we know as Earth. Together the two have lived since the beginning of time, yet throughout history the relationship between the two sentient forces of our planet has ebbed and flowed almost with the tides. It is possible that once, eons ago, humans and Pokémon may have lived communally together to such an extent that the separation between what is human and what is Pokémon was a matter only of shape, although if such a history were ever to exist it has long since been lost upon the world. What is known to us is that Pokémon and humans, while similar in their shared sentience, exhibit drastically different characteristics.
It is a fact that compared to Pokémon and several other species of animals on our planet, humans are physically weak. To make up for this, throughout history humans have banded together to form great and widespread civilizations. Utilizing their intellect and large numbers, humans built great cities and focused on scientific growth, the development of new technologies driving humanity forward. Meanwhile, Pokémon retained a tribal and in some cases almost feral lifestyle. This separation in the paths that the two species took compounded with the fact that historically humans and Pokémon have been unable to communicate, was but the beginning of the rift between the two species.
Over time the fact that Pokémon are sentient beings became lost on humans. Humans began to see Pokémon as nothing more than exotic animals with mysterious powers that some believed could only be gifts given to them by a god or gods. While there was never any unanimous belief as to Pokémon’s sentience among humans, the percentage of people who believed Pokémon to be sentient gradually decreased as civilization and science increased. Eventually, science led to a discovery that would become known as “Pokéballs”, devices which could capture and contain a Pokémon’s unique energy makeup. With this discovery, a new “game” of sorts was born.
At first simply a hobby for the richest of the rich, the activity known as Pokémon Training quickly developed into a full career for many people. Men, women, and even children of all ages would travel the breadths of the world on a journey alongside Pokémon they had tamed. Some people traveled the world to capture more Pokémon, collecting them as if they were action figures. Some people traveled to have their Pokémon do battle with other Pokémon that other Trainers owned or perhaps even wild, feral Pokémon encountered in their travels. Through these battles, trainers obtained glory and even riches, driving an economy which had adapted to the new craze and by that time relied heavily upon it.
This all ended in the year 2042, at which time cataclysm befell the world. While many rumors and conspiracies abound it is unknown the cause of the catastrophe, but whatever the cause may be all Pokéballs the world over ceased to function at exactly the same moment. Without Pokéballs to capture Pokémon, Pokémon Trainers soon found themselves unable to continue their hobby. While some Pokémon who were extremely loyal to their Trainers remained by their side even without needing to be carried in a Pokéball, the inability for a Trainer to capture other Pokémon dealt a swift and harsh blow against the world.
Most affected was the island chain situated between North America and Japan which had been dubbed “The Pokémon Islands.” It was on those islands of Kanto, Hoenn, Sinnoh, and so on that the highest concentration of Pokémon and thusly Pokémon Trainers lived, their government being the organization known as the Pokémon League. The League, as it was called by many Trainers, regulated Pokémon Training throughout not only the islands but the whole world. One by one, each island fell to riots as Trainers demanded to know what had happened. The Pokémon League was overthrown, and those Trainers with sense fled the islands to escape the panic and mass hysteria. As the Pokémon Islands fell to ruin and the global impact of the cataclysm upon the world’s economies began to be felt, the Earth entered the first dark age it had seen in millennia.
Not long before that cataclysm occurred, a group of scientists had made a breakthrough that they had hoped would have as much effect on the world as Pokéballs had. The scientists had miraculously completed the first Pokémon translator in the world, with which communication with Pokémon would become possible and prove to the world that Pokémon were sentient and could think just as humans can. Unfortunately, the company those scientists belonged to soon suffered a hostile takeover from an unknown competitor and the translator technology, while perfected and mass produced for internal use, was never made known to the public. After the great cataclysm that company was dissolved and many of its unpublicized discoveries sat unknown for years. Eventually human society began to pull itself together again, and like the legendary phoenix, humans rose from their own ashes and civilization was reborn after decades of strife.
As civilization adapted to a return of life without Pokémon Training, investigations were made into several companies and organizations that had fallen apart due to the cataclysm as part of the failed effort to determine the cataclysm’s cause. Eventually the research done for the Pokémon translator was discovered and the world was exposed to the technology that its creator’s had hoped would change the world forever. Proof that Pokémon, which had for so long been but a toy in many children’s eyes, were sentient became widespread and irrefutable. Perhaps it was due to the still vulnerable state the world was in after the chaos the cataclysm had caused, but acceptance of the sentience of Pokémon spread rapidly and almost instantly across the world. It would be centuries before the translator technology was perfected for widespread use and mass production, but the downfall of Trainers proved to be the first step towards the unification of human and Pokémon society.
Excerpt from an article written by Steven Adams for the Joint Central Archive for Pokémon and Human Historians, dated June 12th 2458.
One Month Earlier
In a small and plainly decorated room with little furniture other than a bed and a small desk, light was just beginning to peek through the windows. The windowpane which had been completely opaque a moment ago gradually shifted to transparent, the window’s advanced electronics controlling the change of opacity. Lying on the bed was a man stretched out asleep on top of the sheets, dressed only in a pair of boxers. His left arm and legs were metallic in appearance, oddly reflecting the light which was slowly filtering through the window. Otherwise he looked completely normal, with short blond hair and a build that wasn’t too thin or bulky. Suddenly the man’s eyes snapped open as he woke up.
Across the man’s vision floated the words “Waking from sleep mode,” visible only to him and not truly existing. Around the edges of his vision more nonexistent symbols began to pop up: a 3D representation of his body appeared in the upper-left corner, entirely colored green to represent that his body was functioning normally; a clock in the lower-right corner; some scrolling text along the left side displaying diagnostic information; and along the right side a window titled “To-do”. The man lay still while the heads-up display only he could see activated, before finally it flashed and disappeared, his vision returning to only showing what he naturally could see.
“Good morning, Tashima!” an annoyingly loud and overenthusiastic voice suddenly rang out through the room as the window completed its change from opaque to transparent, light streaming in and bathing over Tashima as he sat up, covering his eyes and glancing away from the light.
“I ask again, is it possible to turn you off?” Tashima asked as he rubbed his eyes tiredly.
“Not likely!” The voice which somehow managed to be exactly the wrong pitch reverberated through the room.
“Fucking AI... You realize how annoying it is to wake up to you every single damn morning?” Tashima growled, getting out of his bed and pulling on a blue robe that hung from a hook on the wall, wrapping it around him to hide his mostly naked body.
“I apologize, but I am programmed to do so,” the AI voice said in a more serious tone as various displays showcasing the day’s news popped up over the window’s surface. “If you were wondering, the weather today outside CYPHER is a pleasant seventy-two degrees with no sign of rain in the foreseeable future. Temperature inside CYPHER is maintained at a constant seventy degrees with today being no exception.” The voice was losing the annoying edge it had at first, which pleased Tashima. He remembered how when the AI was first activated a few months ago it was so constantly annoying he wanted to tear his ears off. Ever since then, with each passing day and berating in the morning, it was gradually becoming more bearable.
Tashima ignored the weather report as he walked over to the window and looked over the news posting, moving them around and scrolling through the articles with a brush of his finger. Noticing that he had received some messages over the night, Tashima pulled over his message inbox and began to read through them.
“Hey! It’s Saturday, you don’t have to work today!” the AI exclaimed, the more serious and informative tone immediately lost as the AI reverted back to the overexcitement that grated Tashima’s nerves each and every time he heard it. Catching him by surprise, the exclamation from the AI accidentally caused Tashima to scroll to the bottom of the message inbox.
“I know that. I have a clock in my damn head, thank you very much.” Tashima angrily scrolled back up to where he had been reading, grumbling under his breath, before he realized who the message at the bottom of the list that he had briefly seen was from.
“I am sorry, this is my programmed personality and while I am trying to adapt to your taste, I wish only to please you,” the AI said, actually sounding mournful, something Tashima had always wondered if a computer could be.
“Yeah, well, why don’t you disable yourself then...” Tashima mumbled as he scrolled back down to the bottom message and quickly scanned through it, biting his lips as his eyes widened.
Briskly Tashima walked over to his desk and grabbed a small, square-shaped device with a blue line running diagonally from one corner to the other around both sides and the edges. Carrying it back to where the message he had been reading was on the window, he held the device up to the pane of what appeared to be glass but which Tashima knew was quite different from true glass. Leaping from his hands, the device magnetically attached to the window due to an electromagnetic field which ran through the window’s surface. First prodding at the specific message in the inbox that interested him in order to select it, Tashima dragged the message over to the device, making a flicking motion towards it. The message was dragged out of the inbox into its own window which then seemed to disappear as it slid into where the device was attached, a green light on its surface flashing to indicate that it had received the message. Plucking the device back off the window and stuffing it in a pocket, Tashima turned to his door, opening it up and rushing out into the hall.
“Hey, if you want to please me, how about you tell me where Havoc is?” Tashima asked, stopping in the short hall off which just a few doors branched.
“He is downstairs, I believe he wants to talk to you,” the AI responded, actually helpful for once.
“Well I want to talk to him too.” Tashima walked down the hall past the closed doors which led to Havoc’s bedroom and a bathroom, stopping at the end of the hall where an open entryway led to a shaft which ran between the two levels of the house. As he approached the entryway, a clear platform which had been sitting on the bottom of the shaft rose up to the floor in front of Tashima, who stepped onto the platform. Immediately the platform dropped back down to the bottom floor, smoothly stopping as Tashima stepped off.
Tashima stepped into a moderately sized room which was, like his bedroom, decorated fairly sparsely. A panel that was currently black and not displaying anything stretched across the entire wall across from the lift, a couch sitting in the middle of the room facing it with a small coffee table between the couch and the wall. To the right a door led out of the house, a window like the one in Tashima’s room taking up the rest of the front wall, currently almost fully opaque with just a little light shining through it. The left wall was pretty barren except for a doorway which led to a small kitchen. Sitting on the couch was a creature with cream-colored fur over its belly and blue fur on its back, a line of red spots ringing the back of its neck. It had four legs, although it could walk just as well on only its hind legs using its forelegs as arms. It was a Pokémon called a Typhlosion, this one’s name being Havoc. Ever since they were both young, Havoc and Tashima had been companions and lived together, protecting and helping the other whenever possible. As Tashima stepped off the elevator, Havoc turned around to look at him with his fiery red eyes.
<I’ve got something to show you,> Havoc said through his brainwave communicator, a special standalone cybernetic implant he had been given.
While not the only form of communication between humans and Pokémon, brainwave communicators proved useful because the Pokémon was able to broadcast his “voice,” truly his thoughts, to only the people he wanted to be able to hear, and the same for humans who used them as well. In order to listen to someone communicating with a brainwave communicator the recipient needed to have one as well, a disadvantage that, along with their higher prices, prevented them from becoming too popular. Perhaps more common were simple translator devices and implants which let humans understand the native speech of Pokémon, with Pokémon naturally being able to understand humans. While Tashima, along with all but the poorest of the poor, had a translator implant, Havoc still preferred to talk to him using his thoughts. Tashima preferred to use his natural voice, however.
“Yeah, well, I’ve got something to show you too. I’m gonna have to bet that they’re the same,” Tashima said, pulling the square device out of his pocket and tossing it to Havoc who caught it in a paw, pressing a button on its smooth surface. The device snapped into two triangular parts along the blue line, one held in Havoc’s paw and the other gliding through the air to the opposite corner of a rectangular holographic display that formed between them.
Havoc scanned the contents of the message that displayed on the hologram and nodded, before pressing the same button to close the device and setting it on the table. <A message from Hali. Yeah, saw it when I woke up.>
“So, what do you think?” Tashima asked, walking around the couch and picking the device back up.
<As usual, I think she’s crazy. I’m telling you, you’ve got to stop taking the stuff she says seriously.> Havoc shook his head, his ears folding down flat against his head.
“Oh, come on. Sure, she may act crazy and believe every single conspiracy theory known to mankind, but you have to admit that she has inside info which we could only dream of getting ourselves.” Tashima shrugged as he sat down on the couch next to Havoc, resting his arm over its back as he faced the Typhlosion. “Plus, she sounded sort of distressed...”
<Inside info which has almost gotten us killed on more occasions than I’d like to admit. Look, I’m not saying we shouldn’t listen to her, I just want you to be a little more careful in the decisions you make regarding what she tells you.>
Tashima sighed and placed his left hand on Havoc’s shoulder. The Typhlosion looked down at the metallic hand, which felt cold on his fur. “I know, I know. I don’t want you to die, I don’t want myself to die; I don’t want anyone to die. But the fact is that, nutjob as she is, Hali knows about all of CYPHER’s vital points. If something comes up that can be of interest in either finding out what CYPHER’s up to or some way of taking them down a notch, she’s the one who’ll know. I hate CYPHER, you hate CYPHER, she hates CYPHER too. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that they’re up to more than it seems, and I want to find out what that is. Maybe even escape this existence someday. So if she sends us such a distressing message telling us to meet her and that it’s urgent, I intend to do so.”
Tashima lifted his hand off Havoc’s shoulder. It moved normally enough, and at first glance it was possible to think it was just a normal arm, but look again and you’d see how the arm looked anything but normal, and touch it and the coldness would also give it away. Tashima didn’t like other people to see or touch his left arm and leg, but around Havoc he wasn’t so careful.
<You deserve better than those...> Havoc mumbled, looking at Tashima’s hand. Newer prosthetic limbs could blend seamlessly with normal flesh; however the cost of Tashima replacing both his arm and leg would be so prohibitively expensive he sometimes wondered who actually bought the new prosthetics.
Tashima stood up and walked to the window, looking outside at the black tower that rose up in the distance, thrusting out the top of the dome that was the center of Tashima’s existence these days. He ignored Havoc’s remark and thought about the message Hali had sent telling them to meet her later today. Every time something urgent came up from Hali in the past it had led to Tashima and Havoc almost getting themselves killed for one reason or another, and Tashima doubted that this time would be any different.
“We’re going,” Tashima said as he turned away from the window and walked into the kitchen, Havoc’s eyes following him.
Later that day, Tashima and Havoc hopped into a small, two seat, red aerocar that Tashima kept in a small garage attached to his house. The roof of the garage retracted as the aerocar lifted off the ground, the curving walls of the dome and the next ledge above the one Tashima and Havoc lived on exposed through the opening roof. The car rose out of the garage, the roof closing beneath them, before taking off and soaring over the roofs of more houses exactly the same as Tashima’s and Havoc’s which systematically lined the surface of the ledge all the way around.
While Tashima could have the aerocar automatically fly to its destination, he chose to pilot it manually this time, feeling he needed something concrete to focus on. Holding a control stick with one hand and resting his other over the side of the car, Tashima piloted the car out towards the edge of the circular ledge, inwards to the middle of the large dome. As usual when he was out in public, Tashima wore a black trench coat a white shirt tucked into tan pants. His left hand, which he was using to pilot the aerocar, donned a fingerless leather glove to help further conceal his prosthetic arm.
The aerocar finally emerged beyond the edge of the ledge and out into the open area that surrounded the tower and the dome’s center. Looking down below, Tashima scanned the buildings that lined the ground of the dome all around the tower, his integrated heads up display pointing out buildings of interest to him with various colored brackets and labels. The place he was looking for came into his vision, outlined in a red bracket to Tashima, and he turned the aerocar to head for it. Dodging out of the way of a few other cars that shot past, Tashima piloted his in a descent to the location on the ground below, the car’s gravity compensator making it feel to Tashima and Havoc as if they were still horizontal and not aimed down at the ground.
As the buildings below approached they could be made out with more detail. Most of them had landing pads on their roofs for aerocars to park on, the streets and lanes that ran between them used more so for walking than for aerocars since the obsolesce of land-based vehicles rendered such streets useless. Despite that, flying through the maze of buildings in an aerocar at high speeds proved to be a challenge that Tashima enjoyed on more than a few occasions. Most of the buildings on the ground were rundown and worse for wear, indicating just how old this part of the city was, with the worst being further in and clustered around the base of the tower.
The particular building Tashima was aiming for was a relatively unsuspicious one, although it lacked any landing pads on the roof and was very short compared to surrounding buildings, being only a single level. Instead of a landing pad, a small enclosed yard behind it filled with dirt that had used to be grass long ago and a dead tree served as parking for visitors. Leveling out once he was just about twenty meters above the yard, Tashima let the aerocar take over and descend vertically to the yard below. As Tashima and Havoc descended, a door on the back of the building slid open, a woman stepping out and looking up at the car in the air.
Tashima looked down at Hali and started. Knowing that they were within earshot of her now, he used his brainwave communicator to talk to Havoc, <Hey, is it just me, or does she look a little...>
<Deranged?> Havoc filled in the blank for Tashima.
<Yeah, that. Is she feeling all right?>
Hali’s curly, red hair was in disarray, sticking out in every direction and looking like it hadn’t seen a brush in days, perhaps weeks. Her clothes were stained and torn in places, as if she hadn’t changed them for just as long as she hadn’t brushed her hair. At first a look of moroseness occupied her face, but as Tashima and Havoc descended a spark of life seemed to light inside her and a smile filed her face as she looked up gleefully. “You came!” She shouted out as the aerocar touched down, Tashima and Havoc leaping out onto the dirt covered ground.
“Yeah, well, I thought it over and decided that I do, in fact, rather like almost getting myself killed.” Tashima wryly grinned as he walked over to Hali, who held her arms out and hugged Tashima tightly. Tashima blushed, but he could tell that something was wrong and returned the hug. Behind him Havoc stood, looking around alertly.
<Tashima, something isn’t right here,> Havoc said.
<Like what?> Tashima frowned, still in Hali’s embrace.
<Fae isn’t here. I can’t feel her presence.>
Tashima’s frown suddenly turned to horror, and he pulled himself away from Hali slightly and looked down at her. “What happened to Fae?” he whispered.
As soon as Tashima said it, Hali broke out into crying and buried her face into Tashima’s chest. Looking back over his shoulder he saw Havoc with a similar expression to his own, a combination of horror and grief.
Fae was Hali’s companion, much as Havoc was Tashima’s. However, their relationship had always extended far beyond Tashima’s and Havoc’s, and not once in his life before now could Tashima remember a time when they had been apart. Everywhere Hali went, Fae went. For Fae to be gone now something terrible must have happened to her; there could be no other explanation.
Tashima tightly embraced Hali as she pressed against his chest. Whispering into her ear, he said, “Let’s go inside.”
She slowly nodded and Tashima let go of her. Wiping away some tears she turned around and led Tashima and Havoc insider the building she called home. It was never designed to be a house, but Hali hadn’t been as fortunate as Tashima had. The door that led from the enclosed yard opened into a rather large and completely open area that was the entirety of the building, only a small bathroom in a room against the wall was separate from the open area. The Typhlosion and two humans walked off to a side of the room where folding chairs were situated around a table, close to a window which looked out over the backyard. They sat down in the chairs, a moment of silence passing between them.
Havoc broke the silence by speaking in his natural voice, which he had to do because Hali lacked a brainwave communicator, having only a normal translator. “Hali... Please, tell us, what happened to Fae?”
Through a translator, Havoc’s natural voice sounded normal at first although it had an artificial edge to it, but if he listened closely enough, Tashima could make out the growling sounds that Havoc was actually making. His speech through the brainwave communicator actually seemed more natural than his translated natural voice, which could be the reason why Havoc preferred using it when talking to Tashima.
“It was...she was...I...” Hali was struggling to speak, tears streaming down her face.
“It was CYPHER, wasn’t it?” Tashima asked, his eyes narrowing.
“CYPHER!” Hali yelled, jumping out of her seat, knocking it over due to her hastiness. Her tears suddenly stopped and her sadness was replaced by anger, as if their mere name had snapped something inside her head. “Damn them!” she growled.
Tashima jumped out of his chair as well and placed his hands on Hali’s shoulder. “Hali, calm down,” Tashima asserted, staring her in the eyes.
“I knew it... I knew it all along...” Hali said quietly, anger still in her voice.
Tashima shook her gently. “Knew what? Come on Hali, snap out of this, we can help you!”
Hali seemed to be barely paying attention to Tashima and gently brushed his hands away and walked over to a window that looked out over the barren backyard, placing a hand on it before finally replying. “TRINITY.”
Tashima cocked his head as he walked over to Hali. “TRINITY? What’s that?”
“All I know is that it has something to do with cybernetics and Pokémon,” Hali flatly said, seeming to have gained a measure of control over her anger.
“Cybernetics...” Tashima murmured, glancing down at his left arm, before looking up at Havoc who had walked over next to him and who was looking at his arm as well.
“It’s why they took her away... They took Fae from me because of TRINITY... Because they need test subjects...” Hali curled her hand into a fist, and Tashima knew she was going to lose it again.
“Hey, we’ll get her back, okay? Just tell me as much as you can, and we’ll do it. You know you can count on us,” Tashima confidently said, grinning.
Havoc didn’t seem quite as amused, and quickly shot off a thought message to Tashima, <See? I told you we nearly end up getting killed every time we see her. I know it’s the right thing to do, but it’s still risky, remember that.>
Before Tashima could reply to Havoc there was a loud shattering, and Tashima didn’t even have to look to know what had happened. Hali had punched the glass window as hard as she could, the window shattering into a million crystals that covered the floor and ground outside. Hali’s arm slumped down, blood dripping from where a few glass shards had embedded in her hand. Her hair covered her eyes, but more tears streamed down her face and down from her chin.
“Hey, hey! I know you’re angry, but you’ve got to calm down!” Tashima exclaimed, carefully stepping over glass and over to Hali.
“It’s no use...” she mumbled. “Fae...she’ll be gone now, disposed of, or worse... CYPHER doesn’t keep their fucking guinea pigs around forever...”
That made Tashima pause and almost afraid of the answer, he asked, “How long ago was she taken?”
Hali reached up with her blood-covered hand and stared at the glass shards stuck in it, pausing before answering. “...One month.”
Tashima gasped and Havoc closed his eyes mournfully. Again Tashima grabbed Hali’s shoulders, this time pulling her closer to him. “Why didn’t you tell us sooner? Why wait this long?”
Hali closed her eyes as she pressed her face against Tashima’s chest again. “I was scared... Shocked... I didn’t know what to do, how to react... I didn’t want anybody to see me when I was at my worst... It seems like it just happened yesterday, but I know it’s too late now...”
Havoc walked over, his head lowered. “The operational limit of all test subjects is always one month... After one month, they’re either released, or...disposed of. Since I’m sure Fae wasn’t a voluntary test subject, it’d be highly unlikely she’d be released...” he slowly said in his natural voice.
“There’s still a chance... She still might be alive...” Tashima mumbled, trying to brighten Hali up, which was hard to do when he himself wasn’t feeling that optimistic.
It made Hali smile slightly, though, although Tashima could tell it was forced. “Maybe, but...please, don’t endanger yourselves... It’s too big a risk and I’m not worth it...”
Tashima was about to respond, but a loud beeping that only he could hear suddenly stopped him. To accompany the beeping a red flashing message suddenly popped up on his visual HUD. Tashima quickly scanned the alert, biting his lips. “Muk, we’ve got company headed this way. The car’s sensors are picking up several CYPHER police scout drones heading this direction.”
<You activated the car’s sensor link?> Havoc privately asked.
<It pays to be prepared, I’ve found out,> Tashima answered, glad that he had thought to take the precaution.
“Why are they coming here?” Hali asked.
“My guess? To take out the primary connection to Fae, the person who knows they took her and for what reason.” Tashima narrowed his eyes as he saw Hali’s eyes fill with horror.
“But why wait until now?” she asked.
Havoc answered that one, “Because you’ve stayed quiet. So long as you didn’t tell anyone about Fae’s kidnapping or TRINITY, it’d be easier for them to just leave you alone but closely watch you. Something must have been tripped to let them know that you’re talking to us about what happened.”
Tashima immediately knew Hali’s concerns and answered before she could voice them. “No, this place hasn’t been bugged. I may need to sensor link to pick up drones from a distance, but I can detect the bugs CYPHER uses on my own without aid. So unless they blocked my own sensors... More likely they’ve tapped into your intranet access and know you sent a message to us telling us to meet you for an unspecified but urgent reason. Fortunately the address I give out is just a proxy, so as long as they don’t investigate it in detail they shouldn’t be able to trace it to me. They probably will try to crack it though, so I’ll need to shut the proxy down and remove any traces of my identity from it as soon as I can... We just have the bad luck of being here when they decide to come.”
“So you’re probably safe at least, so long as they’re coming for me...” Hali muttered as Tashima stepped over to the back door.
“What are you talking about? You’re safe too; come with us and we’ll make sure they can’t track where you went.” Tashima placed a hand over the button that opened the door, but didn’t press it yet.
“No...it’d be too dangerous for you... If they don’t find me here and want me dead that bad, they’ll find out it’s you hiding me faster than you could stop them...” Hali slowly walked back over to the small table, picking up a picture that sat on it. The holographic photograph, projected inside a thin pane of glass which was curved at the bottom to provide a stand, looked to be taken several years ago. Standing in front of a large tree was a young girl with red curly hair, next to her an equally young Kirlia. A tear fell on the glass as Hali began crying again.
“Hali, I don’t mind...” Tashima began to say.
“Please! Go! I’m sure of it, she’s gone by now... And without her—”
Hali was suddenly cut off by the loud sound of high powered gunshots at a rapid rate of fire, bullets tearing through the building’s front door and impacting with the opposite wall not that far from where Tashima stood. Chunks of drywall showered the floor as the bullets blew cleanly through the back wall as well, barely missing the car Tashima had parked out back.
<Time’s up!> Havoc announced, leaping over to the door and pressing Tashima’s hand against the button, pushing him out as it opened. Dropping onto all four of his legs, the spots on the back of his neck lit up in flames that danced through the air around his neck. Letting out a roar, he opened his mouth wide, a stream of fire blasting towards the front door which was quickly being turned to Swiss cheese by the scout drones on the other side. The fire burned through the metal door and the two hovering drones behind it, the rotary cannons mounted on the drones exploding as the ammunition stored within them blew up, taking out the rest of the drone with them.
Havoc stood back up and extinguished his neck flame, hurrying out the back door through which he had pushed Tashima. As the two ran towards their car, Tashima looked back at Hali, who stood in the broken window now, looking out at them. Tashima sighed, not bothering to ask her again to come with them. He already knew what her answer would be.
“Take the driver’s seat; I need time to relax...” Tashima told Havoc.
<Hey, I’m sorry, but we can’t exactly force her to come with us...>
Tashima remained silent and hopped into the back seat of the car, pressing a button on the back of the front seat. Clamps that secured the rear seat disengaged and the seat rose up slightly, pivoting around to face backwards. While Tashima was getting situated, Havoc jumped into the front seat and began to start up the car, grabbing the control stick with a paw. As the car began to lift into the air slowly, Tashima looked down at Hali one more time, before averting his eyes.
<Activating static jamming field,> Havoc said. Nothing visible happened, but a popup window in Tashima’s visual HUD alerted him that the car’s jamming field had been activated; the scout drones wouldn’t be able to use their sensors to detect them with it active, so as long as they weren’t seen they should be fine. Fortunately, Tashima’s extensive modifications to the aerocar helped with that too. <Spinning up cloaking generator, diverting power from computer-guidance, gravity compensation, and other non-essential systems. You know Tashima, this car really wasn’t designed to handle a cloaking generator...>
“Yeah, well, I’m certainly not complaining that I installed it,” Tashima said, leaning back in his seat and watching as the car rose up towards the top of the buildings around Hali’s house. “Shame there aren’t any personal cloaking generators, but I guess those would be even harder to get than this one was.”
<I’m just saying that perhaps you could try installing a bigger power supply next; having to manually fly when it’s used can be a pain...> Havoc pressed a button on the dashboard, the air around the car flickering and distorting before smoothing out again and returning to normal, or at least it seemed normal from inside the car. Outside it, the car had suddenly vanished, completely disappearing to the naked eye. Combined with the jamming field to prevent sensor detection, Tashima, Havoc, and the aerocar they were flying in were now all but invisible.
The cloaking field activated just as the aerocar rose over the rooftops of the surrounding buildings, the drones Tashima had been warned of coming into view. They looked like a swarm of metal bees off in the distance, their oblong, teardrop-shaped bodies tapering off at the back, a tube extending from just below the point and running down to connect to the back of the three-barreled electromagnetic-rail rotary cannon that was mounted beneath their bodies much like a bee’s stinger. The two drones Havoc had destroyed had just been a forward scouting party as Tashima had guessed, with this swarm being the main group. An individual scout drone such as these was incredibly weak, but in swarms they became substantially more threatening.
Havoc piloted the aerocar over the roofs of buildings away from Hali’s house and the swarm of scout drones descending on it like a pack of feral Mightyena on their prey. The aerocar began to ascend gradually into the air so as not to put too much strain on either of the two within due to the lack of compensated gravity. Since Tashima was facing backwards, too steep a climb and he would be likely to fall out as well. Tashima watched the drones storming in through the windows and doors of Hali’s house, the sound of their rotary cannons audible even from a distance. Tashima closed his eyes and silently swore, hoping beyond hope that Hali had somehow managed to escape. Resting a hand on a small hump on the back of the car used to store supplies and such, Tashima wordlessly pressed a series of buttons, a hatch popping open and revealing the contents inside. Within it rested the one object which Tashima prized over all others, and which had saved his life on numerous occasions.
Reaching into the hatch, Tashima grabbed the gun that rested within, pulling it out as the hatch closed. The gun had an odd, distinctive shape. The rectangular barrel assembly was taller than normal and about eight inches long from the front of the handgrip to the tip of the barrel, longer than a pistol’s usual length. Even more length was added due to the rear of the barrel assembly overhanging the back of the handgrip by about an inch, which helped to balance the weight of the gun and made it more feasible to use with one hand.
From its large size it was obvious that the gun wasn’t just a normal pistol, however the labeling on the side of the gun confirmed it. Engraved into the metal were the letters “VF-EMRP”, standing for Variable Function Electromagnetic-Rail Pistol. The odd, bulky shape of the gun in its pistol mode was attributed to the fact that the gun had two other modes that it could convert into as well to fulfill different needs. While many didn’t believe it fit any of its roles as well as a specialized gun, it worked perfectly for Tashima as he didn’t use it for all out fighting, just when he needed to protect himself in various situations that call for different approaches.
Havoc glanced back over his shoulder and saw Tashima holding the gun. <Hey, you’re not planning on using that, are you?!> He shouted, surprised.
“I can’t just let them kill her and not do anything about it...” Tashima mumbled.
<We’re cloaked and they don’t know we’re here, remember? If you go shooting at them, our cover will be blown and even if they can’t see or sense us, they’ll still be able to see where the bullets are coming from!>
Tashima clutched the gun’s grip tightly, lightly tapping the trigger but not pressing it with enough pressure to fire the gun. Running his finger over a small selector switch on the side of the gun above the grip he frowned. Silently he raised the gun up and pointed it at a window in Hali’s house which was getting smaller, but which he could still see well enough. Through the window he could see a drone moving about, the rotary cannon beneath its body waving about to either side. Tashima’s visual HUD suddenly popped up as a wireless link with the gun was established, a count of the ammunition remaining in its magazine appearing along the bottom of his vision. A sensor below the gun’s barrel fed back information to Tashima, allowing his cybernetic brain to interpret it as where the gun was aiming. Using the sensor’s aiming information Tashima was able to see a red line extending from the tip of the barrel out along its trajectory, much like an enhanced laser sight. Aiming the pistol exactly so the line pointed at the drone he could now barely see Tashima narrowed his eyes, testing the give of the trigger but not firing.
Letting out a sigh and his breath which he had been holding, Tashima lowered the gun, his HUD deactivating again and the line disappearing. “Fine. You’re right, it’d be stupid. I can’t let rage get the better of me, not now... There’ll always be another chance.” Placing the gun back in the storage compartment, Tashima pressed a button to close the hatch again, and then another to rotate the chair back around to face the front. It dropped back down level with the front seat, and latched into place securely.
<Thanks. The last thing we need now is for CYPHER to get suspicious about us. We can’t do anything if CYPHER has us arrested and killed.> Havoc shrugged as he climbed into a steeper ascent, disregarding how the lack of gravity compensation pressed the two of them into the back of their seats. Now that Tashima was facing forwards again, there was no longer a risk of him falling out as would have happened had he still been facing backwards.
“Yeah... I still want to do something, sometime, though.” Tashima idly looked down at the ground and buildings below, Hali’s house now just a small speck and the window he had been aiming at completely imperceptible.
<I’m sorry about Hali...> Havoc mumbled.
“Yeah, well...It’s in the past now. No use dwelling on it longer than needed. We’ll get revenge sometime, but what’s done is done. She did give us one little tidbit which may help us still, though.” Tashima was thinking back over what Hali had told them, although it hadn’t been much.
<Let me guess, this TRINITY thing?> Havoc leveled out the car as it burst over the edge of the ledge their house was on, flying back over the grid of houses towards their own.
“Yeah. When we get back home, I want to start a full investigation into what this TRINITY is. I don’t care how well protected CYPHER has its information, something on it must be on their network and I’m going to find it.” Tashima grinned and Havoc smiled; even though Havoc knew Tashima was sad inside, he never did let himself dwell on bad things too long, not even death.
<What for? What do you intend to do about it?> Havoc asked, already knowing how Tashima would answer.
“I want to find out what’s so precious to CYPHER that they’re now forcibly taking test subjects and killing people who know too much and don’t keep quiet. This isn’t just some new prosthetic or something, that’s for sure. Hell, for all we know it might be a weapon or something. Whatever the case, the people deserve to know.”
<The people, huh?> Havoc suddenly burst out laughing in his natural voice. It was an odd, untranslatable sound and caught Tashima off guard. <Come on, I know you better than that. This isn’t just about the people, or even revenge. You’re curious, that’s all. Don’t be afraid to admit it, I’m curious too.>
Tashima smiled and shook his head. “Well, you’re right; I am curious. I’m always curious about what’s behind CYPHER’s locked doors, after all. That doesn’t mean I don’t care about revenge or anything else, though. It may have been forced on them, but Hali and Fae died to learn about TRINITY, and I’m not going to just let them go and not do anything about it.”
<Just...try not to get us killed, okay? I have a feeling that I’m going to be the one in more danger here, the whole Pokémon thing she mentioned and all...> Havoc sighed but relaxed as the aerocar suddenly stopped over their house, the roof of the garage opening up below and the car descending back down into the garage as the cloaking and jamming fields deactivated.
As the roof closed above them, Tashima stepped out of the aerocar and stretched his legs. “Okay, let’s get to work. This may take a while...” Grumbling to himself, Tashima quietly added, “And I thought I wouldn’t have to work any today...”
End of Chapter 1
Okay, sorry it took a little longer than I would have liked. As least you all didn’t have to wait as long as people on Serebii did. :D I actually had it “done” a week or so ago, but I was not happy with the end of the chapter at all and felt I had taken it in the completely wrong direction. After thinking over why I always put off proofreading and all for so long, I pulled my butt back in gear and rewrote the end of the chapter. At least I didn’t put it off as long as I have before...
Anyways, here goes. This one is a good deal longer than the prologue (almost twice as long) and also beats the original three chapters of my other fanfic, which will be posted on here whenever I manage to finish the part I’m on and then begin the rewrite. Chapter 1v2 has been complete since December but will still need to be edited anyways, the new prologue is also pretty much done now as well, and chapter 2v2 is about halfway done but with stalled project as I shifted focus to current chapters and TRINITY. So all that’s holding me back is the fact that I don’t want to leave my current readers in a big cliffhanger. :D Whenever I post it here, I’ll leave a notice in this thread with my next chapter here and I’ll also leave a notice in the announcement thread. Maybe I’ll put up a preview too, who knows...
Well, I must say that the expectations I had after reading the prologue were met. I would have to say what I liked most about the story so far was the atmosphere. The terrific amount of description you put into even the more inconsequential elements gives a clear picture of what sort of world this is. I particularly liked the aerocar, and the concept of a gravity compensator.
There was only one real issue that I had with this chapter, and that was with some of the cursing.
Aside from the nit-picky issue I had, there were no problems that I could see. It was professional and very enjoyable to read. I'm really looking forward to learning more about CYPHER's dastardly scheme.
My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside (SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place)
Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names
If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.
Oh boy. I'm having trouble deciding whether or not to actually read this. Your intro makes it sound quite a bit like a fic I've just started to write, and I'm afraid it will 1) be better than mine, making me not want to write, 2) influence me too much, whether that be outright or subliminal or 3) all of the above.
*Sigh* this has happened with each of my fics now, where I start writing only to find another person doing almost exactly the same thing. However, I think I will actually read this, despite the problems it may pose. The intro effectively makes it nearly impossible for me to resist (you had me at cyberpunk), so you'll be hearing some critiques from me soon.
Thanks for reading and commenting, icomeanon.
All this stuff about expectations I've been hearing not just here but also over at Serebii... It's making me nervous, as I have this fear that I won't be able to live up to them in the end. I don't have the highest self-esteem, so...I just hope that I can continue writing this well. Hopefully it will continue to live as long as my other fanfic has (around two years and still going)...
...Of course I also hope that perhaps I can avoid the long breaks that I took from that other fic.
Gah, that typo is embarrassing. No, it's not a censor bypass but just a typo (if you'll notice, the other two times I use fuck as well as right there I bypassed it correctly) resulting from how I had to partially format the word... Regardless, I do see what you're saying about the overuse of swearing (a problem which I've been having in my normal life, and not just on fanfics, sad to admit...) and I think it'd be best if I remove that one completely anyways.
Heh, I don't know about you txteclipse, but whenever I watch or read anything that I like regardless of quality it influences me in someway, but I like that since it can motivate me to write more, and write better while I'm at it. There's very few sci-fi Pokemon fics anyways, so don't let mine stop you just because of how it may be in comparison. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses and own level of quality, and so you just have to make do with what you have and not let it get you down.
The CYPHER headquarters, colloquially referred to as simply the Tower by many residents of the massive Helios city metropolis that it resided in, was a shining highlight of modern architecture. Rising high into the sky where it was lost among perpetual clouds, the top of the spire-like tower had not once in its entire history been visible to those people living and working in the city far, far below. Few people were privileged enough to even see the top of the Tower from its inside; even those who worked inside the Tower rarely went higher than a mile or two up its length, the majority of CYPHER’s employees relegated to working in the lower levels if in the Tower at all. A good deal of their employees never had any purpose to go into the Tower itself at all, instead working in the flattened dome that enclosed the base of the tower and the surrounding building complex outside of the dome.
The Dome, several blocks in radius at its bottom and rising up to cover the bottom of the tower, was regarded by some to be not only the very lifeblood of CYPHER, but of Helios itself. Inside the dome resided a wholly separate miniature city, broad, tiered shelves along the inner walls of the dome allowing the miniature city to make efficient use of otherwise unused vertical space. It was in this dome where most of CYPHER’s employees lived, their unique lifestyles fueled by the varied businesses that populated the lowest tier of shelves.
Many wondered just what went on in the upper levels of the Tower, but none who lived in Helios were even able to answer what it looked like. Indeed, with all the mystery and rumors surrounding it, if the residents of Helios city were to see the very tip of the Tower they’d no doubt be disappointed. A ring of glass windows encircled the Tower’s highest level, allowing the tall man dressed in a black business suit that stood at the windows to look out at the clouds that blocked his view of the world below. Brushing a hand against the window, the clouds seemed to fade to him, to the point that he was able to clearly look all the way down to the city several miles below. Nonetheless, those below would still not be able to see the top of the Tower, the temporary adjustment to the structure of the clouds allowing one-way visibility only.
From so high up all the other buildings of Helios city, stretching out for as far as even he could see in all directions, looked as if they were flattened. Imagining that this was due to some giant beast stepping on them all, the man grinned to himself amusedly.
A ring that echoed throughout his private suite at the top of the Tower startled the man. “What is it?” He spoke out, not turning away from the window as a door opened behind him and a woman awkwardly stepped inside, something about the way she moved not natural.
“Sir Cygnus, the Avalon has returned from her maiden voyage and is currently waiting in orbit above us. Her captain wishes to speak to you.” The woman’s voice was flat and emotionless, but Cygnus did not seem disturbed by it. The peculiarities of the women-imitator drones such as her that CYPHER used in menial positions were by now a part of life to him.
“I’ll see to it. Is there more?” Cygnus asked, still peering out the window at the city below.
“We believe there may have been a leak regarding TRINITY,” the woman said flatly.
“...I see.” Cygnus was a bit annoyed by the news, but not entirely unsurprised. “What do we know?”
“Not much at the moment, only that someone, likely an employee, knows of its existence. They do not know anymore than that, however.”
“Then they’ll no doubt try to find out.”
“Shall we increase security measures as a safeguard?” the woman asked.
Cygnus shook his head. “No; in fact, if anything, go light on them. Let whoever it is come to us, find what he can, and then go. He'll either drop the whole affair or let the information give himself away to us.”
“Understood, sir,” the woman bowed slightly as she said it.
The man tapped his chin thoughtfully. “While on the subject, any news about either project?”
“Prototype model Zeta is still missing; that is all at the moment.”
Cygnus again shook his head in agitation. “He has been missing for years. I asked for news, not something I already know. You may leave now.”
“Yes, sir.” The woman stiffly turned around and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her and leaving Cygnus along, grinning as he stared down at the flattened city below.
“Establishing connection to Cybernet...”
A small, shabbily constructed room behind the garage of Tashima and Havoc’s house was filled with various computer equipment. Some of the equipment was modern and high tech, while most of it was antiquated and barely worked. In the middle of the room a reclining chair was bolted to the floor, a cart next to the chair loaded with computer monitors. On the monitors was displayed information such as the vital signs of the person who sat in the chair, allowing other people to monitor their condition.
Sitting in the chair, Tashima sighed and relaxed some, digging his shoulders into the chair’s cushions as he closed his eyes. He was wearing a tank top which exposed the upper part of his left arm, open panels in the prosthetic replacement exposing an assortment of cables and ports. From one of the more modern computers that lined the walls of the room ran a cluster of cables which were plugged into his arm, providing all the connections Tashima needed to connect to the Cybernet.
“Connection initialized. Please confirm program execution when ready,” a computerized voice spoke inside of Tashima’s mind.
With his eyes still closed, Tashima took a deep breath before delivering the command the computer was waiting for. “Computer, execute Cybernet dive,” he spoke calmly. He had done this several times before, but the experience was something he wasn’t sure he’d ever get used to.
“Voice command accepted. Prepare to dive in three, two, one...”
In a single moment, all of Tashima’s normal senses simply shot off. Motor control was next to go, leaving his limbs virtually paralyzed as he was unable to move them, no matter how much he tried. With only the vital components of his body still functioning, for a single moment in time Tashima experienced a feeling rather akin to death. The moment in which he was virtually dead passed quickly as his senses appeared to turn on again, but this time they told him of a world distinctly different than the one he had left.
As Tashima emerged in the virtual world of the Cybernet, his body seeming to materialize out of nowhere, he took in the surroundings around him as he adjusted himself to the disconnected feeling of his virtual senses. He had appeared in his private room, a sparsely decorated, barren place much like his real world house. As he didn’t spend much time in the room and didn’t leave it open for the public to enter, he didn’t care much about how it looked. Its sole pieces of furniture were a small table against one wall, and a couch against another. One wall was left blank, while the last was occupied by a shimmering portal of dull light that led out to the domain Tashima’s room was located in.
Images similar to holograms appeared in front of Tashima’s vision shortly after he emerged. They displayed, visible only to Tashima, various information about the state of his real world body, his Cybernet avatar, and the Cybernet in general; much like his real world heads-up display did. In fact, Tashima’s avatar was near identical to his real world counterpart, dressed in the same fashion of neutral colors and plain clothes. The exception was a device that was strapped to his lower left arm, a curved touchscreen display fitted to his arm occupying its surface. In the Cybernet any type of interface the user wanted could be used, from absurd AI companions that followed them everywhere, to a full neural-controlled interface with little to no abstraction between the user and the computer they were connected to. While Tashima sometimes appreciated the ease of use of a neural interface, his preferred interface for most purposes was a hybrid, incorporating neural, voice, holographic, and touchscreen control for different functions.
“Tashima! What the hell are you doing?!” Havoc’s voice suddenly yelled out, Tashima seeming to hear it with his real hearing despite Havoc using the brainwave communicator to talk with him whenever possible. Tashima knew that everything here was merely in his mind, however, and that just because he sensed something, not everyone else could. The computer was merely turning Havoc's mental speech into simulated audio that Tashima seemed to be able to hear. “Don’t tell me you’re gonna fight again...” Havoc continued, “I thought we were going to continue our research into this TRINITY some more?”
Tashima shook his head and sighed, before pressing a button on the touchscreen on his arm. “Havoc, it’s been a week already and we still haven’t gotten anywhere through normal means. There are really only two possibilities at this point: the security they’ve put on it is so tight that we’ll never be able to get anything out about it, or the information is on a closed network that we just can’t get access to from the CYPHER network.” While Tashima spoke inside the Cybernet, he had briefly enabled the broadcast of his voice to speakers in the real world so that Havoc could hear him.
“So what, you’re going to try hacking into them from the Cybernet? If it’s not on their own network, let alone the Internet, I don’t think it’ll be on the Cybernet either,” Havoc said.
“No no, of course not. You’re right, it wouldn’t be. The only option really is to gain access to the internal network the information is stored on from inside the Tower. I’m here to find out what we should expect.” Tashima grinned as he dropped onto the virtual couch, knowing that Havoc wouldn’t like the idea at all.
Tashima was right in assuming so, as Havoc instantly yelped and growled at him. “Are you suicidal?! We can’t just walk in there and hack one of their terminals without getting caught!”
“A terminal? No, of course not. Finding a terminal that’s connected to the right network would be too much of a pain. I’m thinking bigger here; we need to hack into a Mainframe Access Chamber.” Chuckling to himself, Tashima again prepared for Havoc’s outburst
“You’re insane! What the hell are you thinking? That’s even worse! Is it even possible to hack into one of them?” Havoc roared.
“That is one of the things I’m here to find out. See ya later.” Before Havoc could protest further, Tashima pressed a series of buttons on his arm’s touchscreen that turned off his real world broadcasting and muted Havoc’s voice, letting him focus again on his objective in the Cybernet.
“Let’s see what someone else has to say about this...” Tashima muttered to himself as he used the neural part of his interface to pull up a holographic list of Tashima’s bookmarked locations in the Cybernet. Dragging down the scroll bar with a finger, Tashima looked through the list in search of one particular entry. Finding the right entry, he poked it with his finger, the hologram disappearing as he did so. Not long after, so did the room around Tashima as he found himself dematerializing again as he warped to another part of the Cybernet.
“Hey, Tash! Long time no see!”
No sooner had Tashima appeared at his destination, then he found himself assaulted by some sort of large creature that looked like a mutation of a Nidoking with red scales and several more sharp-looking spikes covering its body than was normal. Arms spread wide, it clumsily charged towards Tashima as if it intended to grab him in a spiny, lethal embrace.
Tashima yelped and slid to the side several feet, micro-warping between locations so as to get out of the way in time. “What the hell is that?!” he exclaimed as the monster turned to face him again.
“What? Oh, yeah, you don't recognize this avatar, do you?” the monster said, coming to the realization that its appearance just may have surprised Tashima. “Hold on there...”
Rings of light appeared around the monster as data began to stream away from it, as if the monster was dissolving. Not all of it disappeared however, a young man around Tashima’s age stepping out from where the monster had previously been. “Sorry about that, Tash. I hadn’t expected you to show up, otherwise I wouldn’t have been in that avatar.”
“You need to be more careful, Seth... If we had been in any other zone, I may have thought you were looking for a fight... What kind of avatar is that anyway? A custom?” Tashima asked the young man, Seth.
Seth grinned, flashing Tashima what many would probably call the perfect smile; he had always wondered if Seth's smile was really like that in real life or if he had just modified it for the Cybernet. “Of course. The base is obvious, but I did the rest. It’s not quite finished yet, but... Hey, why are you here anyway?”
Making sure that they were speaking over a secure channel, Tashima shrugged and answered nonchalantly, “Oh, only because I plan to sneak into the Tower and hack one of their MACs. You?”
Seth burst out laughing and slapped Tashima on the shoulder. “Hah, you haven’t changed a bit. You still have a grudge against them for conning you and want to give them a virus in return? I could cook up something quite nice if you’d like. For you? Free of charge.”
“No no, nothing like that,” Tashima shook his head. “While I’m sure that would be amusing, I’m not doing this for fun or revenge; rather, for information.”
Seth cocked his head curiously. “Oh? What kind? Employee records? You can get those easily without hacking a MAC.”
“Something that’s on an internal network and has absolutely no trace on either their employee network or the Internet. Sorry, but I don’t want to say more,” Tashima said. For now, the knowledge of TRINITY would stay with him only.
“That’s cool, don’t worry about it. Your business is your own and I won’t butt in. Let me hook you up with someone who may be able to help, though.” Seth suddenly grabbed Tashima’s wrist and began pulling him farther into the large structure in which Tashima had emerged, but yet had barely been able to look around at until now.
The structure was divided into a few different rooms, the one Tashima emerged in being the largest of them. People and vendors selling various programs and real life goods were littered all over the place, the occasional table and chairs breaking up the mass of people. However, what furniture there was hadn't been put there by the owner of the structure, instead having been dropped—sometimes temporarily, sometimes permanently—by people who had come through. The room had intentionally been left empty of furniture as there was simply no need for it in a room meant for people to meet and vendors to hawk their goods. Portals such as the one that had led out of Tashima's room lined the walls, leading off into various smaller rooms for more private interactions; it was towards one of those portals that Seth dragged Tashima.
As they reached the portal, Seth’s hand suddenly slipped through Tashima’s wrist as he switched off collision detection on his avatar, allowing anyone to pass through him and as a result preventing Seth from pulling him more. “Just who are you taking me to?” Tashima asked, having a feeling that he knew who already.
“Oh, you’ll see...” Seth grinned and turned to the portal, a holographic keypad appearing in front of it as Seth approached.
Seth reached out to type in the code to let them in, however as he did so his hand seemed to disappear from view; a protective measure to prevent people from seeing the correct code. The keypad turned green and flashed twice before disappearing, Seth beckoning Tashima forwards. He knew that Seth must have selected him as a guest for the authenticated session and that he had to go in before Seth whose entrance would close the session. Sighing, Tashima gave in and stepped through the dully shimmering portal, the transition into the separate room seamless, as if he had merely stepped through a slightly foggy doorway.
An older, balding human avatar sat behind a curved desk in the much smaller, wood-paneled room. Leather chairs sat facing the desk, and in one of the corners a small potted plant sat. Whereas the other room was pretty much a huge, empty box for people to meet and chat in, this one seemed like it could very well be part of someone’s house or more appropriately, their office.
“Greetings, Tashima,” the balding man slowly spoke, propping his elbows on the desk and steepling his hands. “Moments ago Seth messaged me, informing me that you may be in need of the...unique assistance I can provide...”
“Oh for the love of...” Tashima buried his face in his hand, unable to believe that this was Seth’s idea of help.
Moments later as Seth appeared from the portal, Tashima switched his collision detection back on and swung around, throwing a fist at his friend. “Whoa, whoa; don’t get so worked up now.” Seth grinned and laughed as he caught Tashima’s punch.
“He’s your idea of help?! I could get better help by walking up to a complete stranger!” Tashima yelled.
“Aw, come on, Tashima.” The balding man grinned as well and tilted his head. “Your ol’ pal Zan won’t let ya down.” Zan’s face seemed to twitch and he shook his head solemnly. “Well, not this time.”
“Last time, you gave me a virus that came this close to wiping out not just my equipment, but my own cybernetics! Where the hell do you even get a virus like that anyways?!” Tashima roared, restraining himself from attacking Zan right then and there.
“Look, I told ya, I’m sorry. You wanted a program to attack other cyborgs and so I gave you one; I even told you it was experimental. Don’t blame me that it malfunctioned and backfired, blame the people who programmed it.” Zan kept his composure as he defended himself, however he pulled his fingers apart and set his hands back down on his desk again.
“But you’re so much more convenient to find,” Tashima growled. “Give me an address, either RL or on the net, and a name and I’ll see how they like it when they literally drop into a coma because of some shoddy software.”
“I can’t do that, and you know so. It’s not that I don’t want to; it’s that I don’t even know who makes my stuff. Look, if I promise not to sell ya anything that hasn’t been tested before, will ya get off my back just this once?”
Calming down, Tashima shook his head. “You do know what I’m doing, right? I find it hard to imagine that there can exist tested software for infiltrating CYPHER and hacking into a MAC. I’ve never heard of it being done before or even attempted; well, before now at least.” Thinking for a moment, Tashima shrugged. “Give me everything you have; don't hold back. I'll let past arguments slide for now.”
Zan grinned broadly, “Excellent, excellent. I already have some things picked out, take a look...”
Havoc sat on the couch in the living room, the screen that filled up one whole wall turned on, displaying various windows that the Typhlosion controlled from a distance with his paw, gesturing through the air in sliding motions as he manipulated the data displayed to him. He wasn't paying much attention to what he was bringing up however, lost in thought inside his own mind.
Tashima, what're you thinking...? He wondered as he glanced over what little information on CYPHER's Mainframe Access Chambers was publicly available on the internet. The chambers were situated throughout the Tower, however their exact distribution was unavailable to him. The room itself was operated by a wireless neural connection, bypassing all the standard protocols to interface with classified modules that are part of the standard cyberbrain interface; in other words, they utilized what was essentially a back-door built into ever cyberbrain on the market. This neural connection was then the operator's primary interface to what was essentially a terminal that allowed direct access to CYPHER's mainframe and thus ever bit of data on any computer connected to their distributed network.
Maybe it's true that the only feasible way to get information on TRINITY is through a MAC, but...it's just too risky. Is it worth it? Hali was a good woman, and one of the few humans with such a close relationship to Pokémon, but surely there must be other ways of carrying on what she started.
Havoc heard a door slide open behind him, and knew that it was Tashima walking in from his little visit to his beloved alternate reality.
“Get ready, we go tonight. I've got what we need,” Tashima said, his voice distant as if he too was distracted by his own thoughts.
<You really think you can do this, huh?> Havoc asked.
“Yeah, I think so. I'll be making history here; if I could actually let people know, I'd be famous. Guess we'll have to keep this run secret, though. Too much at stake.” Tashima walked onto the lift to the second floor, Havoc keeping silent as he heard the whir of the lift as it ascended upwards.
Yeah, only our lives... But no, that's not it. This isn't just to carry on what Hali started, nor is it just to satisfy Tashima's curiosity. Havoc cleared the entire screen, the wall going black as the computer switched to standby. Collapsing onto the couch, Havoc stared at the white ceiling, closing his eyes.
This is revenge. He can't hurt CYPHER, at least not in the normal way. They're too big. So he'll steal their information, find out what they're working on, and then... Then he'll try to hurt them right where they'll feel it the most, sneaking behind their guard and letting them know that messing with one of our friends was the worst thing they could ever do.
Havoc smiled, opening his eyes again. This is why I like living with humans. They're always interesting, even when they're at their craziest and you know they're going to be your death one of these days.
Upstairs, Tashima had collapsed onto his bed, having turned off his own hearing so that the questions and incessant talk from the house's AI fell upon deaf ears.
Hali... Even if I have other reasons, this is for you. I don't go completely off the deep end for everyone...
Outside CYPHER's dome, night had befallen Helios city, although amid the shining, neon-lit skyscrapers it was hard to tell unless one looked straight up at the barely visible sky above. Inside the Dome night had not so much fallen, rather CYPHER had decided that it was indeed the regularly scheduled time for its employees to rest. The lights positioned around the inner top of the dome were dimmed but not completely off, giving the light that filled the miniature city an unsettling look. Amid this light that was neither bright nor dark, the roof of Tashima and Havoc's garage split open, their car rising out of the top but hovering still in the air. Its passengers looked warily about the airspace of the dome, Tashima scouting out one particular area around the base of the Tower using the visual magnification that his augmentations provided him.
“We're going in low, quiet, slow, and most importantly cloaked,” Tashima said. “There's a service entrance, guarded by a pair of heavy scouts. One of the programs I picked up allows me to remotely disable them, but the more I use it, the less effective it will become as the drones adapt. I want to be able to use it again in the future if needed, so I'm hoping that we'll keep encounters with security to a low. Inside there shouldn't be many scouts, fortunately.”
<Inside I doubt we'll run into scouts at all, we'll be looking at assault drones in there. Those things don't exactly play around,> Havoc interjected.
“Yeah, I think we should be able to avoid the areas patroled by assault drones; the map I picked up shows known areas patrolled by them, and the MAC I'm going for is in the clear,” Tashima said as he found the service entrance, steadying his vision around it as he flagged the two heavy scout drones that were, sure enough, hovering around the area right in front of the otherwise unguarded entrance. “Anyways, we get into that service entrance, make our way to an elevator that takes us up about fifty floors, and then make our way through that level to the MAC. The MAC level is supposedly patrolled by human soldiers, the service level by scout drones. I've got the disabler for scouts and stun grenades for the humans.”
<Don't want to kill them?> Havoc asked.
“Of course not. I'm not a murderer...” Tashima mumbled.
<Yeah, yeah. What about assault drones, then?>
“I've got a gun and know how to shoot. Think that'll be enough?”
<I doubt it...> Havoc sighed. <So, what's my role in all this?>
Tashima shook his head. “Backup in case things go bad, and more importantly, I'll need you to stand guard while I'm inside the MAC.”
<Sounds easy enough, of course there's no way we'll be able to do this again; not this same way, at least.>
“Yeah, as soon as they realize what's happened, they'll beef up security around all MACs and this entrance, and probably any other under-guarded ones. Well, let's get going.” Tashima piloted the car forwards, activating its cloaking field as he did so. In the dim half-light, the car seemed to shimmer out of existence, disappearing into thin air. Unseen to the outside world the car flew slowly out from between the dome's ledges and into the empty air space surrounding the Tower, spiraling lower at a gentle enough angle that the human pilot and Typhlosion passenger wouldn't fall right out due to the lack of gravity dampeners while cloaked.
Before long the car dropped down into a narrow alley near the service entrance, stirring up only a small amount of dust and dirt due to the slow speed it had come in at. Tashima checked the battery meter and saw that there was about an hour left of battery if the cloak was the only thing left running, meaning they had to be in and out in about fifty if they planned on making it back home unseen as well.
<Let's not waste any time,> Tashima thought to Havoc, not wanting anyone to overhear.
<I'm right behind you; you can trust me,> Havoc responded.
Tashima reached down to his belt, feeling it through his trench coat. Attached to the belt he could feel the holster that he held his pistol, along with a few clips with the grenades attached and pouches for the other equipment he had brought. <Right, first things first...> Carefully he sidled along the wall to the end of the alley, knowing that just around the corner there were the two heavy scout drones. He couldn't let them see him, even for a split-second. Fortunately, the disabler Zan had provided him didn't need a line of sight to work.
Windows seemed to flash over Tashima's vision as he scrolled through a list of programs, selecting two of them; a camera jammer he had also bought that would run passively and prevent any security cameras in range from broadcasting, as well as the scout drone disabler. Nothing seemed to happen as he executed the later, but then he heard the sound of metal falling limply to the dirt-covered ground, as if the drones had simply been shutoff. <Let's go!> Tashima shouted mentally, spinning out from around the corner. Sure enough, the drones lay seemingly dead on the ground. They were larger than the police scout drones, with heavier armor and a more powerful, five-barreled rotary railgun. Disabled as they were, however, they posed no immediate threat to the pair. Of course, Tashima didn't want to hang around for long as he knew the disabler only kept them down for a few minutes.
He ran around the drones and over to the small service entrance, ripping off the hand scanner next to the door and disconnecting some cables from behind it, feeding them up his left sleeve and plugging them into ports on his arm. Quickly he hurried and hacked through the rather minimal security protocols CYPHER had put on the door; they had never cared as much about keeping people out of the Tower period, instead focusing on keeping them out of certain sections inside it. As the door slid down, Tashima ripped the cables out of his arm and hurried through into the dimly lit corridor, beckoning Havoc after him. Bringing up the map of the Tower and focusing in on his location, he moved it off to the side of his head-up display so that it would always be visible. <Okay, down this corridor, a left at the fork, then a right and into a receiving warehouse. Directly on the other side from where we enter is the elevator we need. There may be some scouts in the warehouse, but other than that there're only cameras to contend with. Stick close to me as usual and let my jammer do the work.>
Tashima rushed down the barren hall, the overhead lights dim and the walls covered with exposed trusses, giving the level a dirty, industrial feel. As he progressed into the Tower, notices began to pop up on his heads-up display as the jammer detected cameras and cut off their transmitter signals. He didn't know how monitored this area was, so he didn't want to stick around for long in case someone was sent to see why so many cameras were going down repeatedly. He carefully stuck his head out from around the corner at the first left and right fork they came to, ensuring that no one was there before he walked out into the open. The next corner again yielded no surprises, the only thing occupying the hall being a door at the end that Tashima knew opened out into the warehouse that was between them and the elevator.
About to open the door, Tashima hesitated. He thought about running the drone disabler again, but knew that it didn't have a long enough range to cover the whole warehouse, and that it'd look really suspicious to any drones out of range if he did. Still, he didn't want to walk right into a group on the other side. <Hold on, I'm going to hack security and see what's waiting for us,> Tashima said, walking over to a terminal on the wall near the door.
Using a direct link with the terminal, he quickly broke through into the security systems of the ground level they were on. Many of the cameras were non-functional thanks to his jammer, however in the warehouse a few that were out of range still worked. Taking over control of them he scanned around the stacks of large crates and containers that filled the room, looking for anybody or thing that wouldn't react well to their intrusion. To his surprise he didn't find any scout drones at all, which he later admitted should have thrown him off right then and there. The clock that was literally ticking down in his head was pressuring him too much, however, and he hastily disconnected from the terminal. <Okay, we're clear. No scouts in there at all; that's good.>
Tashima hacked his way through the door, boosting the range of his jammer as much as he could to disable all the cameras in the room before they entered. Ducking down behind a pile of crates near the door, he waited for Havoc to join him before peering out from the corner again. The warehouse was a large room, and unfortunately they had to cross it lengthwise to get to the elevator exit at the far end. Since they were already close to the edge of the room they could avoid walking through the narrow aisles between the racks that filled the room's center, which relieved Tashima as he didn't like feeling so boxed in. Cautiously he moved out from behind the crates, not assuming the warehouse was safe just because he hadn't seen anything through the security cameras. A drone could have easily been hidden between the aisles, out of view from the camera.
Quietly, Tashima sprinted to the first of the tall racks lined with various boxes and pallets, sidling up alongside it and hoping that the boxes would prevent anyone from seeing them through the rack. As he slowly walked along it towards the opening between it and the next rack, it began to dawn on him that they were indeed not alone. A mechanical clanking could be heard approaching from the distance, amid the aisles between racks. It wasn't long before Tashima was able to recognize the noise for what it was: the heavy footsteps of a drone coming closer.
Tashima swore to himself; he didn't even need to see the drone to know what it was; the sounds of it walking gave it all away. Few drones today were produced using legs for movement, hovering propulsion systems being more popular for general purposes, and wheels carrying on as being more reliable for ferrying cargo between two relatively close points. Only two classes of drones were still commonly used that retained bipedal leg movement: drones designed for human interaction, and the antique yet still widely used design of drones destined for anti-personnel combat. There was no doubt about it, the drone that was wandering the aisles of the warehouse was an assault drone, its sole purpose being to keep intruders such as Havoc and Tashima out, at all costs.
<Heads up, assault drone...> Tashima muttered to Havoc.
<I knew there'd be one,> Havoc replied.
<Yeah, well, just stay still.> Tashima looked at the far wall and the elevator door, recessed in a small alcove. While they were waiting for it they'd be out in the open; not a very nice thought.
Meanwhile, the assault drone wandered the aisles of racks, its legs bent forward a great deal more than was normal, giving it an awkward and jerky walking movement despite its improved stability. Its upper arms were held firmly to the side of its torso, although they weren't permanently fixated, and lower arms with primitive hands jutted forward. Its head swung back and forth as it walked, slit-like eyes scanning the area for any intruders. Suddenly it stopped, and in a loud, robotic voice spoke out, “Warning, offline security cameras on level have exceeded set limits. Possible intrusion detected.” Panels suddenly slid open on its arms, four gun barrels flipping out on each arm as its hands were drawn back slightly.
Tashima held its breath as he heard the drone walk closer. He didn't even bother trying to use the disabler, he knew that it would have no effect against the assault drone, having been designed for scouts only. He closed his eyes and tried to get a feel for the drone's movements through its sounds; it seemed to be zig-zagging its way through the aisles lengthwise, which meant that as soon as it crossed the aisle in front of Tashima and was patrolling the row they were next to, they would be able to make their break.
<I think it's going to be crossing into the aisle next to us, and when it does we'll make a break for it,> Tashima informed Havoc.
Praying that the drone wouldn't notice them, he listened intently as it stepped out into the aisle, close enough to them now that only the single rack prevented Tashima and Havoc from being discovered. The drone paused and glanced about, swiveling its torso slightly to help better aim its stiff arms as it pointed its guns around. Seemingly satisfied that nothing was near as far as it knew, the drone picked up walking again and proceeded down the aisle on the other side of the rack from the fear-filled human and Typhlosion, oblivious to their presence. Holding back a sigh of relief, Tashima quickly crossed the aisle to the next rack, walking quieter than he ever had before. As Tashima put distance between the drone and himself, Havoc followed, their speed increasing as they got farther away from the drone and closer to the elevator. At last, Tashima ducked into the small alcove that housed the elevator door and hit the call button, again praying that it wouldn't take long for it to reach their floor.
It seemed like it took forever for the elevator to arrive, all the while Tashima staring out at the warehouse with anxiety, hoping that the drone's pace was slow enough that the elevator reached them before it. As soon as the drone reached this end of the room again, there was no doubt that it'd be able to see them. Fortunately, in only about two minutes, the doors beeped and swung open, the pair diving into the elevator. Tashima pressed the correct floor button before tearing off a maintenance panel and interfacing himself with the elevator in order to prevent it from stopping at any other floors on the way up.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Continued in the next post...
...Continued from previous post.
<Well then, that was interesting,> Havoc sarcastically remarked.
Tashima remained silent, however; too bothered by what may have happened. If the assault drone had seen or heard them just once, he had no doubt that it would have killed them on the spot. Even if CYPHER's security was lax on less important levels such as this ground floor, they didn't mess around when it came to intruders. The drone had even been in alert mode already due to Tashima's jamming of the security cameras, its weapons armed and ready to fire. Just one mistake...
<Hey, stop worrying about it.>
Tashima was brought back to his senses as Havoc spoke again and looked over at the Typhlosion who stood against the back wall of the elevator. Havoc grinned at him, trying to cheer him up. <Even if it had caught us, what's to say we couldn't fight it off, huh? Sure, they're more heavily armed and armoured than scouts, but they're much slower and less agile. I wouldn't just let it mow me down, that's for sure. And neither should you if we ever have to fight against one again.>
Tashima looked down at the floor again, but after a moment glanced at the floor readout. They were almost there. Ripping the cables out of his arm, he hurriedly replaced them and crouched down to snap the panel back on, before straightening again and turned to face Havoc. “You're right. I won't go down without a fight either, I just don't want to die for something meaningless.” Tashima's throat was dry and it hurt to talk, but he figured he might as well now while they had the chance.
<I thought this was meaningful to you. For Hali.>
“Not just for her,” Tashima shook his head. “For everyone, human or Pokémon, that CYPHER has involved in not only this project, but any other ones without their consent. For everyone who has lost their own life or that of a friend or loved one, and was never able to know why. For those who did find out why, but just like Hali paid for the knowledge with their life.”
<You think there are others like us? Others who have managed to find out and survive, escaping just under CYPHER's noses?> Havoc pondered.
Tashima reached down to his belt and pulled out his pistol, a small hum emitting from it as he flicked the power on. Slowly he walked over to stand in front of the doors, ready for when they opened. “Perhaps. I doubt we're the first. The question is, how organized are they?”
Havoc was starting to understand. <...You don't want to just find out what's going on, nor are you content with causing them minor damage. You want to start a rebellion, and get other people to help carry out your plans. CYPHER's finally pushed you too far. You're done with them, and as soon as you find out what they're working on, your plans to finally fight them will be put into motion.>
Tashima grinned, opening his eyes just as the elevator stopped. “Exactly.”
Before Havoc could reply the elevator doors slid open, and waiting right behind it a scout drone hovered in the air, rotary cannon already spinning. Tashima proved faster, swinging his pistol about while the door was still opening and firing off a single shot that tore straight through the drone, the electromagnetic rail-propelled bullet shredding through its thin metal plating and bursting out of its back, only to embed itself in the wall across from the elevator as the drone collapsed. <Come on, we've got to move fast!> Tashima yelled as he took off running, hopping over the heap of metal and peeling down the pristine hallway. The walls were paneled with some sort of white plastic, computer displays projected into the plastic, making the walls one seamless monitor. Overhead, holographic signs pointed out the location of various labs and offices, but Tashima disregarded them, guided solely by his own map.
<Why was it waiting for us?!> Havoc shouted back as he hurried to keep up, dropping to all fours as he ran.
<I'm guessing I just tampered with their security too much, so they dispatched that drone to greet us. Guess the assault drone switching to alert was the first sign,> Tashima remarked as he ran, keeping a tight hold on his pistol.
<You knew it would be there, didn't you?!> Havoc exclaimed.
Tashima stopped and held up his hand to Havoc, motioning for him to stop as well. <Let's just say I had a hunch. Here's another.>
About twenty feet down the hall was an intersection where the hallway they were on was crossed by another. As the pair stopped moving, they huddled against the wall next to an empty laboratory with a large glass window peering out into it, a similar glass door allowing authorized employees access to the room. Just a moment later, another of the humanoid assault drones stepped out into the intersection. Tashima noticed that the guns mounted on its arms were still concealed leaving it unarmed; it was merely in patrol mode. Just as with the assault drone in the warehouse, it stopped in the middle of the intersection and glanced from side to side, but this time the pair were out in the open. Immediately it scanned Tashima and Havoc with its pure black slit eyes to check if they were supposed to be there, a split second all it needed to determine that they were intruders. “Alert! Alert!” the drone yelled out as it turned to face them, the four panels on each arm sliding open as gun barrels flipped out of each.
“Oh, ****.” Tashima muttered, keeping himself from panicking. As the drone armed its own weapons, Tashima quickly shot at the glass of the laboratory door they stood next to, the glass shattering and much of it falling free to the ground. Just as the drone started to shoot at them, Tashima grabbed Havoc and dived through the broken glass, knocking some more shards free as the two barely escaped being turned into swiss cheese as a torrent of bullets flew past behind them. Scrambling to their feet, they ignored the glass that cut at their arms and legs and leaped over a large reception desk that faced the door, hunkering down behind it.
Tashima reached up to a switch on the side of his pistol, pushing it forwards a notch to its middle setting. Immediately the front part of the pistol slid forward, the barrel and a thin rod beneath the barrel extending to support the lengthened gun. What had once been the bottom of the gun's forward frame flipped down to form another grip, while the back part that had overhung the hand holding the gun slid back to act as a small, but still useful stock. Grabbing the front grip with his prosthetic left arm, Tashima held the gun up over the top of the desk and activated the camera that was mounted underneath the gun's barrel, feeding it through to a window in his heads-up display so as to give him a clear view of the door, complete with simulated red laser sight.
No sooner had Tashima steadied his aim than the assault drone turned out of the hallway and stepped through the door, sweeping its head from side to side once before noticing the gun poking out from behind the desk. It was able to fire off a few shots from its multiple gun barrels, the bullets harmlessly impacting with the thick and sturdy desk, before Tashima let loose with his own attack. In the gun's converted mode its rate of fire was now a lot higher, bullets streaming out of the extended barrel in a deluge. The slide-like top of the gun lurched back and locked open as he fired the first shot, smoke rising from the exposed vents underneath to prevent it from overheating. Knowing that his ammunition was limited, Tashima fired the submachine gun-converted VF-EMRP in bursts rather than laying it all on at once. Despite the sheer number of shots he was firing at point-blank range, the drone barely seemed to be taking any damage, most of the bullets merely bouncing off its armor. Nonetheless the barrage was distracting the drone, and it had stopped its own firing as it tried to back off through the doorway. <Now!> Tashima cried out after he felt the drone was suitably knocked about.
Havoc leapt up, taking a great risk in exposing himself to the drone. Roaring, he ignited the flames on his neck and unleashed a stream of fire at the drone, blasting it with everything he had. All the while Tashima kept firing, and as he did the bullets quickly became more effective, the heat from Havoc's flames softening the assault drone's armor and better allowing Tashima's bullets to penetrate. At last, under the combined attacks of Tashima and Havoc, the drone fell limply backwards, most of its outer armor oddly bent and contorted from where the softening due to the intense flames had caused it to deform. Its chest was pockmarked from Tashima's shots, its internals no doubt completely ravaged beyond repair.
Tashima stood up and sighed with relief, sliding the selector switch on his gun back to the pistol sitting. On his HUD he finally noticed the ammo counter; of the fifty-shot magazine, only two remained. They had been lucky the drone had fallen when it did: reloading while under attack wasn't an option in this case. Now that things had cooled down, Tashima pressed the magazine release on the side of the gun, grabbing the magazine as it fell out of the grip and placing it in a pouch in his belt, out of which he pulled another full magazine which he slotted into the grip. As he did so, the slide that had locked back to allow the gun's chamber and barrel to cool snapped forward again automatically, its temperature having fallen within a safe range. <Next time we do this, remind me to bring some armor-piercing rounds.>
<We're not going to be doing this again, or at least I hope not.> Havoc grunted as he put out the flames ringing his neck, walking over to the drone lying in the doorway and giving it a sharp kick.
<Hey, you're the one who said we fight, and here we are fighting. Feels good, huh?> Tashima flashed Havoc a grin as he walked around the desk and stepped over the drone, careful not to touch it. It was still likely searing hot and while Havoc may be able to withstand such heat, it would likely give him a good burn.
<I didn't mean it like that...> Havoc hung his head for a moment before following Tashima out into the hall. No one else was around still, but they both knew that wouldn't last for long.
<Okay, onwards to the MAC! And quickly, before more company shows up to the party.> Tashima exclaimed excitedly, feeling pumped up now that they had managed to not only avoid death, but utterly defeat it with vengeance to spare. Again the duo rushed off down the hallway, twisting around corners and past various laboratories and offices. Most were empty, but some were indeed occupied, their occupants looking at them curiously as they ran past. They didn't know nor care if the strange human and Typhlosion were intruders; they knew that security would take care of them if that was the case.
Just a minute or two after the second encounter with an assault drone, the pair skid to a stop at another corner, the hallway bending to the right. As they approached the corner, Tashima explained to Havoc, <Okay, this hallway is a dead end, and at that end is none other than the MAC. I have no idea what the guard is like since that aspect of this map seems to be completely off. Let's just hope it's not another of those assault drones.>
Tashima holstered his pistol before opening one of the pouches on his belt and pulling out a small, flat device. After popping up a small portion at the end of the device that folded back into a hollowed area he flicked a power switch on its side, the device powering on and instantly establishing a wireless connection with Tashima. A window opened in his heads-up display, displaying what the camera on the end of the pivoting part of the device could see. Carefully, Tashima slid the camera out around the corner, keeping it as flat against the wall as possible and moving slowly, not extending it out any farther than he had to.
Through the camera, he could see the large door that led into the Mainframe Access Chamber, and on either side of the door two soldiers standing still, large assault rifles held across their chests. Having seen enough, Tashima pulled the camera back and turned it off, tucking it back into his belt pouch. <Two human soldiers. Light compared to the assault drone... They must not really expect anyone to make it past its patrol.>
<Yet you can't kill them, so in a way they're even more secure,> Havoc noted.
<It's not that I can't, it's that I won't; but I don't need to kill them anyways, I brought those stun grenades for a reason.> Tashima pulled a silver, cylindrical grenade off a clip on his belt, holding it up for Havoc to see.
<Don't toy around with that; it could affect you too, you know.> Havoc grabbed Tashima's wrist as he waved the grenade about carelessly, as if he didn't realize how dangerous it was.
<Easy there... I know full well; I also know that I set up some basic protection against it before we left, just in case.>
<Yeah, basic...> the Typhlosion mumbled.
<Anyways, here goes.> Tashima gripped the grenade by both ends, squeezing it together. As he did it snapped open, revealing a pulsing blue core. Quickly he reached around the corner and tossed it down the hallway, ducking back behind it quickly. The soldiers raised their assault rifles in alarm as they saw the mysterious arm throw the grenade at them, before bracing themselves as the grenade suddenly let out a burst of electromagnetic pulses intermingled with a wireless signal that would instantly transmit a virus into any augmented person within range. The virus, adaptive to almost any security the person may have, easily broke through their augmentations and shut their entire cyberbrain down. Due to how tightly integrated modern cyberbrains were with people's real brains, shutting the former down resulted in the person falling into a catatonic state until reactivated. And fortunately, that was exactly what happened to the two soldiers guarding the door; as if they were dead they slumped to the ground, instantly knocked out.
Tashima rounded the corner and nodded in satisfaction at the two limp and unconscious, yet still fully alive bodies. “You guard the hallway and the bodies while I'm inside. If anyone comes, distract them or something while I finish up.” He didn't bother with being discreet now and talked openly.
Havoc nodded. He understood Tashima's aversion to killing humans—one never did want to kill their own kind—and he didn't want Havoc to go about killing them either, yet if push came to shove he knew that Havoc likely wouldn't have as much restraint as him. In fact, as Tashima approached the door, he couldn't help but wonder if Havoc would indeed enjoy killing humans given the chance. As a Pokémon, Havoc had always been exposed to great prejudice by the vast majority of humans who didn't see Pokémon as equals, such as Tashima did. Killing some humans out of a sense of self-defense may just be revenge for him.
<What about if these guys wake up?> Havoc asked, Tashima sensing a tone in his voice unlike any he had heard before. A sinister, somewhat vicious tone. Tashima shivered slightly, pushing the thought of what Havoc could do the unconscious guards out of his mind.
“They won't.” Tashima simply replied as he began to hack into the small computer console on the wall that controlled the door. These doors were much more secure than the one leading into the building, again proving how CYPHER better protected important sections of the Tower rather than the Tower as a whole.
<But if they do...>
“They won't. Trust me.”
Both Tashima and Havoc fell silent after that, Havoc understanding that he had gotten carried away. Tashima was right, they wouldn't wake up until exactly when he told them to, and that wouldn't be until they were long gone. But deep down inside, Havoc could feel a boiling feeling, and it horrified him just as much as it did Tashima to realize that he had been hoping they would wake up, leaving him with little other choice than to kill them both.
Havoc pulled the two unconscious guards to the side of the hallway as Tashima stood back from the computer console, lights flashing along either side of the door as it slowly began to split open down the middle, interlocking teeth disengaging as the two halves of the door pulled away from each other. Tashima stood in front of the door as it opened, the originally dark and inactive room inside coming to life as it was exposed to the hallway. A blue light bathed the hall as lights positioned behind the spherical walls of the small room turned on, shining through the translucent panels that covered the walls, much like in the corridors outside. In the direct middle of the room a padded chair sitting atop a small dais was revealed, its only noteworthy feature.
As Tashima stepped through the doorway and up the steps leading to the chair, displays outputing a large amount of information on various statuses appeared over the curved walls. Tashima noted on one of them that an alert had indeed been sounded for their floor, and he had no doubt that the way they came would be crawling with drones by now. He'd have to make deactivating the alarm his first priority before the drones thought to check out the Mainframe Access Chamber.
Tashima relaxed in the chair and nodded to Havoc, who nodded back and backed clear of the door as it began to seal close again. Smoothly his chair rotated around to face the back wall of the room, the screens over the walls moving with him so that he could still see all of them even as he rotated about. A quiet siren sounded as the door closed all the way, sealing him in the room. Instantly, he detected the room itself forcing a connection with Tashima, overriding all his security and connecting through a back-door that CYPHER implemented in all the cyberbrains they developed so that they or the government could gain access for whatever reason whenever they wanted. Tashima made a note to disable the back-door when he had the chance.
Not even bothering with trying to talk normally—he knew that Havoc wouldn't be able to hear him through the thick door—he instead mentally communicated with Havoc, <Okay, I'm ready. I'm going to deactivate the alarms and security procedures that have been enacted automatically first.>
The sensation was odd as he began interacting with not just a computer, but CYPHER's very mainframe itself. While a holographic keyboard arced itself between the arms of the chair and over his lap, the wireless neural connection allowed himself to interface with the mainframe unlike anything he had before experienced. Usually, when connected to a computer directly, the computer was just a separate component, completely disassociated from Tashima himself. Through his heads-up display he could see what the computer could just as easily outputted on a normal monitor, and he could enter in information as if he was merely thinking about typing on a keyboard, but with the Mainframe Access Chamber he found that the line between the mainframe and himself blurred. The mainframe did not display its information on his HUD but rather directly to his brain, making it seem as if he was seeing both the real world and the mainframe at once, almost like he had a third eye working in conjunction with his normal two. Interaction with the mainframe became much more like an alternate reality such as the Cybernet; he merely had to think about what he wanted the computer to do and it would be done. To type he just had to think of what he wanted to type, and it would be entered. He could even jump from one screen to another completely unrelated one in an instant, a split-second before he actually decided that he wanted to.
As Tashima relaxed and got used to controlling the Mainframe Access Chamber, he quickly began to work on breaking through its security. CYPHER was serious now, they knew that anyone who had access to a MAC would have unrestricted access to any and all data present on their entire network. They could steal employee information, transfer money, take direct control of drones, issue them orders to mercilessly go on a murdering spree, and so on. While the thoughts of some of the stuff he could do was tempting, he knew that if he did he would attract enough attention to warrant a counter-hack against him, and no matter what security measures he took to protect himself they would eventually break through to him. If that were to happen he would no longer be the one in control of his own body, a rather terrifying thought. He had to work fast and be as subtle and unassuming as possible and not get carried away by stuff that would attract too much unwanted attention.
It took a dozen programs and a handful of minutes just for Tashima to break through user authorization. The Mainframe Access Chamber didn't recognize him as being an authorized user, and so was vehemently disallowing him access to the actual mainframe. Fortunately, this proved advantageous to Tashima. Since the MAC didn't connect to the mainframe and thus the network as a whole until the user was authenticated, it meant that there was no way for security to actually know he was hacking it and so he could be as sloppy and forceful as he wanted. Additionally, it meant that he could prevent his personnel account from being flagged as having tried to access it at all. He knew he'd still have been flagged from when the assault drone attacked them, but that would be easy to take care of. Unauthorized attempts to access a Mainframe Access Chamber weren't quite so easy. Then again, nothing about the MAC proved easy, but Tashima breathed a sigh of relief as he finally managed to force his way in. Since the system now thought he was authorized he hopefully wouldn't have as hard a time now.
Immediately Tashima brought up the security level of the mainframe, unfortunately encountering another verification system in place. This one proved a deal more lax than the one protecting the mainframe as a whole; using information he had gathered during the initial hack that helped to make his programs more compatible with the mainframe, he broke through into security in a fraction of the time. Swiftly he brought up the information displaying active security alerts on their current floor simply by thinking about it, and just as fast he disabled all the currently active alerts that pertained to them, committing the changes before switching over to personnel records. Again he broke through even weaker security and pulled up his own record, removing the intrusion flag that he found had indeed been set on him.
<Okay, everything should be clear now. I'm moving on to look up stuff on TRINITY,> Tashima told Havoc, not expecting a reply.
Not even knowing where to start looking, Tashima tested the waters by looking for a search function, although with the odd interface that the Mainframe Access Chamber used it was more like he was asking it if there was one. Sure enough, a window with a search box and a wide range of options on what parts of the mainframe to search popped up. Scanning through the list of options Tashima decided to just leave them all enabled, so as to get as much information as possible. Entering solely the word “TRINITY” into the search field, he sent the request and waited for the mainframe's response.
The search didn't take long; despite the massive amount of data that had to be searched, Tashima had the processing power of CYPHER's entire network at his disposal. However, when the results popped up on his screen his mood dropped instantly. He had expected to find pages and pages of laboratory reports and files of those personnel involved with it, but as he looked through what few results had been returned, he found nothing of the sort. Most of the results were log files and shipping receipts, stuff that, given enough time, he may have been able to glean some information from. Unfortunately, he didn't have the luxury of time and needed something now. Nonetheless he began copying the logs and receipts to his internal data storage; perhaps he'd have time to analyze them some more later. As he was scanning through some even less important files, however, he managed to find his diamond in the rough.
He almost skipped over it at first, thinking it was merely some quarterly report that made the briefest mention of how much money this mysterious project called TRINITY had sucked up that quarter. On a whim he opened the file and skimmed through its contents, a smile spreading over his face. As it turned out, it wasn't a quarterly report after all—its name and location had been deceptive—it was none other than the original proposition for funding for the TRINITY project. Tashima eagerly took in its contents, eyes flying over the lines of text:
Proposition for funding on project “TRINITY,” dated July 24th, 2500.
A request for funding on project TRINITY has been submitted, this proposition intended to supplement the request by explaining the goals of the project. These goals, in brief, are as follows:
1)Further applied research of Phase-type energy and its practical applications.
2)Design and develop a package of cybernetic components, collectively called TRINITY, for testing and eventual distribution.
3)Design and develop a Phase-type energy-based power source for cybernetic implementation, comprising the central core of the TRINITY package.
4)Design and develop advanced biomechanical cybernetic augmentations as part of the TRINITY package, including but not limited to motor-control enhancers as well as cardiovascular, nervous, and musculoskeletal system strengtheners to enhance the organic body's ability to withstand and use the increased power the TRINITY power core provides.
5)Conduct a battery of trials to determine the practicality and feasibility of mass implementation of TRINITY. Due to the nature of the project, as detailed below, these trials must be performed on Pokémon subjects only.
TRINITY is so-called due to the nature of the Phase-type energy it uses. Phase-type energy is a naturally occurring energy that has heretofore not been widely studied due to its unpredictability and widely-regarded uncontrollable behavior. Despite this, Phase-type energy has been shown to be a fundamental aspect of our world, potentially intrinsically related to matter as a whole. Recent developments have revealed three subtypes of Phase-type energy, henceforth refereed to as alpha, beta, and gamma subtypes. Phase alpha-type is the most abundant subtype and the most easily controlled, whereas Phase gamma-type is the opposite in both respects. While moderate success has been met with implementing solely Phase alpha-type energy in similar projects, TRINITY strives to implement all three subtypes simultaneously. While research is so far inconclusive, it is believed that the use of all three subtypes simultaneously will allow for increased, more efficient power production.
Unfortunately, proof-of-concept tests have uncovered a limiting factor in such implementation. In human beings, Phase alpha-type energy is the sole Phase-type energy present in and around the body, and attempts to channel beta and gamma subtypes from outside sources to the power core have all failed. It appears that concentrated masses of one specific subtype, as is the case with humans, result in the repulsion of all other subtypes. This fact prevents conventional implementation in humans. Fortunately, all Pokémon species tested have proven to not have as high the concentration of a specific subtype that humans do. While Phase beta-type is predominant among Pokémon, both alpha and gamma subtypes are present as well, allowing the implementation of the TRINITY power core and package as a whole in Pokémon only.
Most of what followed was too complicated for Tashima to understand, but what he had already read was more than enough. It didn't answer all his questions, nor did it fully explain what TRINITY was intended for, but at least he had some idea now of what they were facing. The Phase energy the document mentioned was new to him, he had never heard of such a thing before, but from the sounds of it, it wasn't something widely known anyways as it was still being researched.
Immediately Tashima understood the potential implications of a newly discovered form of energy like this. From the sounds of it, Phase energy seemed to be quite potent when used to generate power, which hinted that it could be just as potent as a weapon. Energy-based weaponry was a new development as a whole, and if this Phase energy showed even the slightest hint that it could be powerful enough when focused to cause damage, there was no doubt that weapons-research on it would be a priority. Currently, plasma-based weapons were the only commonly used form of energy weaponry, with more powerful particle beam weapons only recently coming into use. Electron drivers, though extremely rare, were the oldest form of energy weapons although plasma and now particle beams were rapidly fazing them out. Still, none of the implementations was able to be effectively implemented on a large scale, preventing their use on spacecraft which ironically could benefit the most from such weapons due to their higher speed than conventional projectiles.
Tashima frowned as he copied the file to his own storage. It was evident that the most important information on TRINITY was stored on a private network, disconnected from the mainframe. Even this funding proposition he had found had been carefully written so as not to give anything too important away he could tell. While he figured that, in time, he may be able to find a way to access that network it would just take too long and be far too risky now. After this first infiltration, he was sure that CYPHER would step up security on anything remotely important, and it seemed that TRINITY may indeed be one of the most important projects they had. He had already pushed his luck here and didn't want to have to try it again; it didn't help that getting access to the private network would mean breaking into what would no doubt be one of the most heavily guarded areas in the whole CYPHER complex. That was assuming he could even find out where the research on it was even taking place; he had no idea where to start looking and no map would help him there.
There is one way, though... Tashima thought. Instead of going to TRINITY, I could bring it to me.
The thought startled him. While it was true he could probably get Havoc into the testing of TRINITY and then out again before they disposed of him, it would be a huge risk. It was no doubt being tested for multiple reasons, both to evaluate its performance and to see if it was actually stable, without danger of harming its user. If it wasn't in a stage yet where it was stable enough for normal use, cursing Havoc to go the rest of his life with an unstable power core that could do who knows what if it went faulty was a massive gamble. It was entirely possible that he wouldn't even make it past implementation or testing, that he wouldn't be compatible with TRINITY and suffer the fatal effects of failed augmentation.
Still, if it worked out right, it would be the best result Tashima could hope for. It wouldn't be easy for him to study the augmentations, especially once implemented with Havoc, but he'd be able to do so at his own leisure, without the pressure that infiltration such as he was doing now put on him. He was starting to get a feeling about TRINITY as well; CYPHER was keeping it way too secret and guarding it way too carefully. They definitely did not want the public to know anything about it; rather that was because of the augmentation itself, or the Phase energy it used which was equally secretive, Tashima had no idea. Regardless, something was definitely up here.
TRINITY itself didn't sound like anything hugely groundbreaking; enhancements to a user's strength through specialized augmentations that relied on their own power core wasn't anything new, in fact such augmentations were among the first to become widely popular, especially in fields such as construction and search and rescue where increased strength prove invaluable. There was either something more to TRINITY that the proposition wasn't telling, or the sheer nature of the Phase energy that proved central to it was radical enough that it needed to be kept from the public eye. Again, though, the proposition did not reveal anything especially incriminating about Phase energy. Indeed, the proposition held absolutely no reason for all the secrecy surrounding TRINITY.
Tashima couldn't just let this go. While it may have been Hali's murder that sparked him to investigate TRINITY in her place, what he was beginning to uncover went far beyond that. Something deeper was at play here, something far more sinister. If he was truly going to break away from CYPHER and start his own rebellion of sorts due to their unjustified actions against unwilling employees such as Hali and Fae, he wanted to have his own trump card. He wanted to be ready to unveil to the public what CYPHER was keeping from them and show the people at large that the world's biggest company was hiding secrets that could very well have a massive impact on everyone. He needed to know more about TRINITY, and to do that, he needed Havoc on his side.
<Hey, Havoc,> Tashima spoke up, hoping that the Typhlosion was paying enough attention to answer.
<Something up? We should be leaving soon, I can't help but feel it's not safe here,> Havoc responded.
<Yeah, it's not safe anywhere in this Tower. We'll be leaving soon, but first...I have an idea. Something which only you can do, and I'm not sure you'll like it.>
Havoc paused for a moment, before answering, <You know I'll do anything to help. Just ask and you'll have my word.>
<Yeah, well, this is a little different. Just know that I'd never force you to do anything, and don't expect you to do anything you don't want to do. I'd never want you to do something for me unwillingly, just because I asked.> When Havoc didn't respond, Tashima continued. He had the feeling that Havoc had already figured out what he was going to ask. <So...how do you feel about getting a few more augmentations? The experimental kind.>
<You're talking about...> Havoc's voice trailed off, not finishing his thought.
Pausing a moment to think it over one last time, Tashima finished for Havoc. <TRINITY.>
End of Chapter 2
Why hello, people! Yes, look at me. Fully alive, imagine that. After about five months I'm sure I've had some people scratching their heads and wondering if I was still alive, or if I was at least still writing the fic. Well yes, yes I am. I just had some setbacks. Namely, school. Ah, how I hate it. Nonetheless I finally pulled myself together and got TRINITY chapter 2 written. Rejoice.
This chapter marks the ends of the pre-prologue part, for which I am eternally joyful. I want to get to the real meat of the story, already... Now, I know some of you will complain that I didn't carry it through all the way right up until the beginning of the prologue, but I have a very valid reason for not doing so: I didn't want to. So there.
Now, as much as I'll complain about not liking these first two chapters, I will say that I do love some parts in this one. It'll probably be obvious which parts I mean, as they'll no doubt be everyone else's favorites as well. Also noteworthy is that I've already gotten to the point where the chapters are so long they need to be split into two posts. I was hoping that wouldn't happen so fast here, but...23 pages is long :O
Also, I feel it's worth mentioning here that I wrote a side story to go along with TRINITY for a sci-fi contest on Serebii.net. This story, called TRINITY: Waves, is about a different character (and near the end, another) who may or may not become important later in the main story. Nothing in Waves directly relates to the plot of the main story, but it gives a look into some other aspects of this world and, yeah, introduces characters who may or may not become important later. TRINITY: Waves can be read here, so get to it.
I like it a lot, especially since you choose one of my favorite Pokemon.
So, is there going to be a 'neat' reaction by Havoc after being asked this question?
Your story offers a unique sci-fi story. I hope that it wont take another 5 months for the next chapter, but I will wait if it takes that long. You have a reader in me.
I really need a new signature.
Man, I can certainly see why it took you months to write...
Before I say anything else, I need to say that I thought it was awesome. You're doing a phenomenal job of presenting the world, and you did an even better job of letting us know more about the characters. I thought that Havoc's moral dilemma towards the end was particularly intriguing.
My only gripe is that the prologue seems even less like a prologue now that you're two chapters in and haven't reached where the prologue is chronologically yet. There's nothing wrong with the order that it's in, I just think the naming doesn't make a lot of sense. But hey, it's not that important.
I may not have been looking hard enough, but I couldn't see any grammatical errors. In fact, everything seemed to flow quite smoothly. I'm really looking forward to the next installment (and I'm perfectly fine with waiting a few months).
My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside (SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place)
Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names
If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.
Hey, thanks for reading both of you. I...um...sort of promise that chapter 2 won't take five months? Maybe. Can never be sure, these days. :O
Oddly enough, this other guy I talk to says basically the same thing. Except in his case it is his favorite Pokemon, and I'm pretty sure that the only reason he likes the story at all is due to the Typhlosion since he's not very much into sci-fi stuff.
I really like the way I wrote that part too, it just has something about it that I like.
Needless to say that by this point I'm tempted to just go chapterless and be done with the whole mess. <_< Anyways, this whole backstory part thing will be done either, well, now or in the middle of next chapter. I'm currently deciding if I want to drop it as it is and skip back to the present right away in chapter 3, since the only real exciting thing that comes after this is Tashima's exit. Or I can gloss over most of the rest of the stuff in the Tower, detail his exit because it's kind of cool and cinematic and I like cinematic stuff like that (just look at the second assault drone encounter in chapter 2 to see that), then fade to white and back into the present.
The second option is more likely as it's less subtle and jarring and all. And it gives me an excuse for another cinematic scene. Got to love those...
There was also one clumsy sentence and a single typo that had been pointed out which I must have overlooked in proofreading. But they're all gone now, so yay. I'm the kind of author who actually goes back and makes any changes suggested...
Once again, sorry for the massive wait. I've been focusing on the new revision of my other story, The Flamestar Chronicles, and so TRINITY has been neglected. But here I am again, and I hope to get at least one or two more chapters done in a much shorter time. If all goes as planned these breaks will shorten to a more reasonable length, but...we'll see.
Helios, Greek god of the sun, the son of whom set the Earth ablaze out of his pride. A fitting name for a city housing the headquarters of Cybernetic Pokémon and Human Enhancement Research Corporation, also known as CYPHER Corp. Every new product that comes out of their gleaming tower ends up setting the media and consumers on fire. Metaphorically, of course. Rumors are beginning to stir through the dank underbellies of Helios City, however. Rumors that CYPHER is moving towards new developments, more dangerous ones. Everyone has known that CYPHER has had a weapons development program for some time now, but if the rumors are to be believed, they're ramping up; preparing for something big. But no matter what anyone says or thinks, nothing can be done.
Therein lies the beauty of Helios City. Seated on an island amid the Pacific Ocean in neutral territory, Helios is not governed by anyone but itself, and in Helios power is government and money is power. CYPHER rules Helios, and since no nation can technically make a move against CYPHER based simply on rumors, they have nothing to stand in their way. They could be building the next weapon of mass destruction comparable to the atomic bombs of old and no one could so much as shake a finger at them until some hard proof comes forward, no doubt in the form of some country's capital city being devastated when the weapon is unleashed.
And where does Cygnus Alvaron, CEO and head of CYPHER fit into all this? Lord knows; no one's even seen the man in years. The very definition of a recluse, Alvaron's aversion to publicity is almost ironic when one considers the sheer scope and magnitude of CYPHER. Everyone knows them, yet few know of the man behind it all. Is he simply a figurehead, sitting atop his grand tower on his pile of cash but commanding no real power? Or is he masterminding some extravagant plot to overthrow the United Nation's control of the world?
Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad if that was the case. This world is at its breaking point, tensions rising up through all levels of society. Human civilians are on the verge of cracking, many realizing that this whole Pokémon as neighbors thing isn't working out so well. Everyday there's an increase in the number of riots and anti-Pokémon related crimes, and people are starting to take notice. Then at the higher levels there's the everpresent rumors circulating that the United Nations is about to make its own big move to truly unite all its member states into a single nation, no doubt the precursor to their complete world dominance.
Between the UN and CYPHER, there's one important difference, though. CYPHER is oriented towards working with and for consumers, while the UN works with politicians. The people don't care how easy or harsh the life of their local senator is, they want resolutions for their own life, and they want them now. Now, CYPHER isn't some magical company that could instantly solve the whole world's problems, but you have to admit that with their wide reach and massive, some even go so far as to say near infinite, resources, they're the closest you'll ever get to such a thing. If anyone is going to change this world, it'll be a company like CYPHER, not some stuck up politician who only cares that he continues to have a country with citizens who'll pay their due taxes.
When you get down to it, having CYPHER move towards taking over the world may indeed not be such a bad thing after all...
Excerpt from a sensationalist news column article, dated March 17th, 2512
<This...is really awkward...>
Tashima tried his best to look as if nothing was out of the ordinary as he walked down a hallway with Havoc at his side. Wanting to minimize their chance for detection, Tashima had come up with the idea to wear the uniform of one of the guards that had been stationed outside the Mainframe Access Chamber. Fortunately the uniform was designed to adapt to fit any size body, the problem was that the uniform wasn't just a uniform, but rather a full suit of powered combat armor. Unfortunately, the neural electromagnetic pulse grenade Tashima had used to disable the guards had also disabled the power supply for the armor, meaning that Tashima had to rely solely on his own strength to move the bulky and heavy armor which had been designed to respond to the wearer's movements and move itself instead.
Stiffly, Tashima nodded at a scientist who passed them in the hall, the scientist paying neither him nor the handcuffed and collared Typhlosion that walked next to him any mind. Neither of the restraints were activated for the same reason as the armor, but Tashima decided it would look more believable if Havoc looked more like a prisoner than a companion. <Are you sure this thing is off?> Havoc asked in reference to the collar. <I feel sort of tingly...>
The collar was designed to restrict the special abilities of any Pokémon that wore it; in Havoc's case it would mean he couldn't use any of his fire powers if it was activated. Considering that a lot of Pokémon relied on such powers instead of their own raw strength to fight, it was important that any Pokémon in police custody wore the restraining collar. Tashima hoped that anyone who saw him with Havoc would just assume that he was escorting the Typhlosion as a prisoner and think nothing of it. <It isn't. If this armor isn't working right, neither is that collar... My god, are we there yet...?> Tashima groaned.
After coming up with the plan to get Havoc into the TRINITY testing program, Tashima had fortunately discovered that all test subjects for CYPHER went through a single processing area, meaning there would be no need to infiltrate the top-secret TRINITY labs that even the Mainframe Access Chamber couldn't help him locate. Finding this out had only helped in convincing Havoc to go through with the plan, along with Tashima's assertion that he was already formulating a plan to get Havoc out before CYPHER could dispose of him. Such a plan would in the end likely take advantage of the fact that the inconspicuously named “Organic Materials Disposal Labs” were located in a rather under-guarded sector of the Tower.
Unfortunately for Tashima, reaching the processing area for test subjects turned out to take much longer than reaching the Mainframe Access Chamber had. The processing area was located in the underground laboratories, an expansive complex underneath the Tower that some asserted was just as massive as the Tower itself. Unlike the Tower, which had been built all at once allowing for almost continuous elevator operation throughout its height, the underground laboratories had only been build on a per need basis. This resulted in only five to ten floors being built at once, without any continuous elevator between the different, much smaller underground sectors. This meant that Tashima had to lug himself and the armor he wore throughout the halls of the labs in the hope of finding an elevator that went deeper, the effort taxing his already drained energy.
After stumbling into yet another elevator, Tashima panted heavily as he temporarily retracted the visor of the helmet he had to wear as part of the uniform. “This next floor...I think it's it...” Tashima got out between breaths.
Havoc stood silent, not quite as pleased about nearing the processing area. Once Tashima had unearthed where they needed to go and outlined the beginning of his extraction plans, the Typhlosion had been surprisingly accepting of the idea to be purposefully integrated with the experimental TRINITY. He hadn't acquiesced without an argument of course, most of which involved calling Tashima insane and completely nuts. Still, even if he didn't show it very well, Havoc could see why Tashima was so eager to go through with this. However, the Typhlosion wasn't exactly pleased with the thought of how extensively modified he would be after the procedure, nor the idea of having to be put through what would no doubt be extraneous testing. Nonetheless, he realized just as much as Tashima the need to expose CYPHER's secret and potentially dangerous work to the world before it was too late, something which could only be done through the proof that he would soon be.
Stumbling out of the elevator, Tashima quickly straightened himself and again tried to look as if everything was normal as he noticed a scout drone floating down the hall. Its array of red, eye-like sensors scanned over Tashima for a moment, before turning away and down another hall without incident. Fortunately, the wireless identification function of the ID card that was attached to the uniform wasn't affected by the electromagnetic pulses like the armor had been, meaning that even the security drones would believe that Tashima was the guard whose uniform he was wearing.
Continuing to put on an act for the scientists who passed by every once in a while, the pair continued walking through the hallways, Tashima leading them by the map shown on his heads-up-display. Part of it had been obtained from the wares-dealer Zan on the Cybernet, while the rest had been filled in from the Mainframe Access Chamber. Their destination marked with a red star on the map that only Tashima could see, the duo soon found themselves standing next to a large door that supposedly led into the processing area. Tashima feverishly broke through the simple security on the control panel connected to the door, unable to provide the handprint that would have been needed to open it normally, while Havoc stood by clearly anxious. Neither of them knew exactly how Pokémon were processed in the room; they just hoped it would be a simple enough process without too many complications. Before long Tashima had the door open and they slowly walked into the brightly lit room.
Just past the door they suddenly stopped, noticing that they weren't alone in the room. Situated at various stations stood several identical looking women, tapping away at the keyboards and control panels as if it was their sole purpose in the world. Indeed, it was. After the initial shock of seeing what at first appeared to be normal people in the room, Tashima realized they were just lowly operator drones, a unique variety of drone that was specifically designed to visually emulate human beings as closely as possible while executing monotonous or dangerous tasks that couldn't be automated.
“Welcome,” the nearest drone said in a typical flat, feminine voice. It clearly addressed Tashima, only acknowledging the Typhlosion next to the young man when it went on to add, “I notice that you have a Pokémon of species type Typhlosion with you. Is it being delivered for processing?”
“Yes, it is,” Tashima answered. He tried to speak as if he knew what he was doing and belonged there, although he doubted the drone could even notice any specifics about his tone.
“Very well. Would you like me to proceed for you?” The drone quickly went on to add what was clearly a prerecorded message, “CYPHER Corp would like to take this time to remind its employee that they care about efficient usage of time. Manual processing of Pokémon without approval from a shift supervisor will be penalized.”
“I'm with security, I don't need approval,” Tashima answered, knowing the drone would likely scan the identification signature the armor's ID card emitted to verify his claim.
Fortunately, just as with the scout drone, this proved to be no problem, “Authorization granted. Please proceed with the processing.” The drone gave a small bow and turned back to what it had been working on, Tashima nodding to Havoc as they continued deeper into the room.
Not being an actual laboratory, the Pokémon processing room was devoid of any sort of typical lab equipment. Instead, various consoles were positioned throughout the room that displayed the status of the Pokémon being stored, the operator drones working in cohesion with the computer network to maintain the systems that were responsible for keeping the Pokémon alive in the cryogenic sleep they were stored in. At first Tashima wasn't sure exactly where the storage was, but as he walked deeper into the room he couldn't help but notice the floor seeming to fall away beneath them, transitioning into a strong glass floor that gave a view of what lay below.
Tashima involuntarily gasped as he stared down at what seemed to be a large shaft, its depths shrouded in shadows. Positioned all around the circular walls of the shaft were cryogenic stasis pods, the Pokémon that they held lying dormant. While some of the pods couldn't be seen into due to how they were slid into the wall, the ones near the top offered a clear view of their inhabitants. The Pokémon inside the pods were mostly those species that could be found in a city such as Helios and were mostly older forms: Mightyena, the various evolutions of Eevee, Absol, Gardevoir, even a few other Typhlosion similar to Havoc.
<My god, I didn't realize this was so extensive... I thought they had just a handful at a time. I mean, how could they take this many prisoners and not have anyone notice?> Tashima privately said to Havoc.
<They're just like the other bigots...> Havoc growled as he looked down at the captives. <I'm guessing they pick up most of them off the streets, ones who live on their own. They'll only resort to kidnapping if they really have to. Perhaps some even come willingly, who knows what CYPHER may promise them in return.>
<This is what I mean...> Tashima said solemnly. <They're hiding stuff from us, from the public. They don't want people to know that they've found a new energy source that could have powerful uses as a weapon. They don't want the public to know that they use so many test-subjects such as these, so many of which are probably Pokémon and taken unwillingly. Perhaps they'll use humans too, but especially since TRINITY seems to be only applicable to Pokémon...>
<We're just lab rats to them.> Havoc's anger was quickly getting worked up, but Tashima knew that he had to let the Typhlosion vent. They had time still. <It took years for my kind to get anywhere, to get accepted by your society, and then people just go and refuse to see us as anything more than animals, clinging steadfastly to past beliefs. What was the point? What was the use? Is this the future for us Pokémon, to become the slaves of humans as the old histories say we once were?>
<Do you see now where I am going with all this?> Tashima asked, going on to answer without waiting for a response, <The whole world isn't like this, you never would have gotten this far if it was. If we can reveal stuff like this and TRINITY to the world, perhaps people will begin to question that which they had before merely accepted. I'm not saying that there should be some huge revolution staged by us or anything, but rather that we're in the unique position to actually take a grab at CYPHER's guts and pull them out for the world to see. Perhaps then, everything will fall into place on its own.>
Havoc was silent after that, merely nodding. Quickly Tashima continued on through the room, noticing a bank of empty cryogenic stasis pods. Walking over to one that looked to be a good size for Havoc, he gladly pulled off the uniform's helmet and set it to the side before interfacing with the terminal that controlled the pod, finding a set of guidelines on how to enter a Pokémon into CYPHER's database. <Okay, you just need to get in the pod and it'll decontaminate you and record your DNA signature automatically. I'll handle the rest.>
<Is this thing safe?> Havoc asked as he examined the pod, the door popping out and sliding open as he stepped near it. Looking hesitantly into its interior, he removed the inactive and thus unlocked handcuffs and collar that he had been wearing to go with Tashima's disguise.
<I wouldn't say that, but it's certainly safer than the alternative,> Tashima shrugged.
<And that would be?>
<Busting into whatever labs they develop this TRINITY in and stealing it.>
<Ah, of course,> Havoc said dryly, as if the answer should have been obvious to him. <You're really that obsessed?>
<I wouldn't call it that yet. Not until I start calling TRINITY “my precious”,> Tashima joked. <Now, are you getting in the pod or not?>
<Fine...> the Typhlosion sighed, climbing into the cramped pod. The floor of the pod he stood on automatically rotated to bring him to face the door again, but before Havoc could change his mind the door slid shut and closed with a faint hiss as it sealed. Filtered and decontaminated air began to stream into the pod through hoses that connected to its base, the old air that had been in the pod quickly circulating out through the exhaust hoses.
Tashima watched as the decontamination process began, Havoc trying to keep a calm face with his eyes closed as various gases were pumped into the pod to kill off any harmful microorganisms. Periodically, a laser screening grid would pass up and down over the Typhlosion to scan for any remaining impurities, usually followed by the flash of a weak radiation burst.
<Huh,> Tashima noted as the decontamination slowed down and he processed the data that was being displayed to him over his neural link. <It's like the world's most through bath, but without the actual bath part. You're technically cleaner now than your were the moment you were born. We should get one of these just for that purpose.>
<Yeah, I think we could do without the whole small, enclosed space thing. Have I mentioned I'm claustrophobic yet? Also, the radiation. I don't imagine that's very good for you. My fur is tingling...> Havoc babbled, not seeming exactly pleased with his situation.
<And standing on end,> Tashima observed, trying not to laugh at how ridiculous Havoc looked with all his fur sticking outward. <Just a little static, which is normal and'll be taken care of in a moment. As for the radiation, it's supposedly not enough to be harmful to you. Not too harmful, at least.>
<When's this going to be over...?> Havoc sighed.
<About now,> Tashima said as the decontamination process finished, the computer satisfied that Havoc was suitably clean. <Okay, just need to supply some information and you're good to go. Let's see here...> The computer was asking for some standard information such as an employee identification number, which Tashima had from the disabled guard. However, he knew that if he left Havoc's entry in the system with any information at all relating to the time of their intrusion or the guards, that it would be inevitable CYPHER would discover Havoc. He needed to ensure that the entry looked normal, without anything that could get them in trouble. Fortunately for Tashima, while he had been in the Mainframe Access Chamber he had inserted a temporary back door into the processing system that he could exploit to manually edit Havoc's database entry.
Bringing up the computer's command line terminal, Tashima proceeded to tunnel his way through the back door and forced the computer to accept the heavily altered entry he had prepared in advance. Ensuring a final time that the storage entry was inconspicuous, with an altered date and suitable identification he had fished out of the mainframe, he closed the back door and let it effectively delete itself. <Okay, this is it. In just a moment you will be injected with various sedatives and chemicals to protect against freezing damage before ultimately being put into cryogenic stasis, which will effectively lower your temperature so much that all organic bodily functions, down to the beating of your heart, will stop. Don't worry, you won't feel a thing; it's physically impossible.>
<You're just so reassuring, you know that?> Havoc grunted, clearly annoyed by the lax attitude Tashima had towards the whole thing.
<It's part of my charm,> Tashima slyly responded before quickly giving the computer permission to carry on with the remainder of the automated processing procedure.
Havoc fell silent again as a large number of tubes burst from the ground of the pod and plunged themselves into his body. Some were meant solely to administer the medication that was required before cryogenic stasis could be initiated, while others would supply the nutrients the Typhlosion's body would still require on a regular, yet far less frequent, basis. Havoc's eyes began to close as the sedatives were administered, Tashima looking on with a grim look as his friend fell into a dreamlike state. Orange liquid then began to pump both into Havoc's body through the tubes as well as bubble up into the pod, the liquid rising up over Havoc as some of the tubes connected to him began to flow air directly to his lungs, allowing him to still breath while suspended in the liquid.
Before long Havoc was completely submerged, the computer letting out an audible alert. “Preparation to initiate cryogenic stasis complete. Manual operator, please input authorization to continue.”
Tashima paused a moment as he stared at Havoc suspended in the pod, the Typhlosion likely already unaware of anything that was going on. He could back down now, forgot about this crazy plan and go back to living his normal life. He could continue working for CYPHER as if nothing had happened, as if he hadn't seen them kill a girl in cold blood after taking away her only companion. He could again try to convince himself that he was thinking too much into all of this, that all the evidence he had seen towards CYPHER's corruption was mistaken. He could walk away with Havoc, together going to a bar and laughing about the whole idea over a round of drinks.
“I'm sorry, but I can't do that anymore...” Tashima whispered as he punched in the identification numbers of the account he was using to register Havoc on the terminal's holographic keypad. “I may curse myself for putting you in this position, but it'd be even worse if I backed down. I'm so sorry, Havoc...”
“Authorization accepted. Initiating flash freeze,” the computer chimed as if the thing it was freezing wasn't even a living being.
It took only a second for the actual cryogenic procedure itself. The pod's temperature was drastically and immediately dropped to low enough that virtually all biological functions of Havoc's body simply stopped, the Typhlosion falling completely still. The liquid that had been both pumped into his body and around him prevented true freezing and thus cellular damager, however. In the end, it was supposed to be possible to wake Havoc up at any time without even realizing that time had passed, advances in cryogenic stasis virtually ensuring that no damage would result due to it.
“Goodbye...” Tashima whispered as the floor drew back from around the base of the pod, a robotic arm grabbing onto the pod from beneath and unceremoniously disengaging it from the clamps it had been held in, pulling it into the storage chambers below to be deposited into one of the shafts such as the one they had seen. Tashima shook his head as the pod and the Typhlosion within it disappeared, bending down and picking the helmet he had removed back up. Sliding it over his head, he closed the visor and turned away from the console as the floor beside it sealed closed again.
Now, we just have to wait...
Two Weeks Later
Tashima was more than a little annoyed, “You came out early. I was expecting three weeks at least, not two. I almost didn't make it...”
Tashima's hands were thrust into the pockets of his black trench coat as he walked down a sidewalk from the parking garage they had left the aerocar in to a restaurant, eager to get some food. Beside him, Havoc walked unsteadily, his legs still shaky after having been rescued from CYPHER before they could completely disintegrate him into his base molecular components. <It was only two?> he asked. <Is that why why you ended up breaking in at the very last moment possible, mere seconds before I would have died?>
Tashima ignored the hostility from Havoc; he had a right to be angry. “It was sheer luck I even managed to save you at all,” Tashima admitted while shaking his head. “I was just checking in on the disposal schedules and saw that one of the labs was scheduled for use today. A little more investigating and I realized that, well, it was a Typhlosion with the same identification pattern as you. Needless to say I ran over there as fast as I could, hacked the cameras to find out what room you were in since I had been in such a hurry I forgot to note it from the schedule, and, well you know the rest. Man, if I had been just a little slower...”
<Let's not think about that...> Havoc sighed, coming off his momentary anger. <Now, when do you plan to slice me open and check out my brand new guts?>
“Never, and you know that,” Tashima said, realizing it was a joke but wanting Havoc to be clear on his intentions anyway. “I do expect you to let me run some scans on you, though.”
Havoc flexed the claws on one of his paws, looking at it as he did. Nothing looked different, but he knew that underneath his otherwise unassuming flesh there could be any number of internal changes. <It's possible that my entire skeletal frame is made from steel now, and instead of joints maybe there are servomotors...>
“They wouldn't use steel. Too brittle. It would most likely be an organic titanium-bone composite,” Tashima shrugged. “It's unlikely they'd have replaced everything anyways, but maybe your limbs in order to withstand and exert higher forces... You don't know specifically what all was changed, then?”
Havoc shook his head. <It barely seems like it's been a single day for me. I wasn't woken once in between when I first passed out in that pod and when the operation must have occurred. Hell, I was barely awake for most of the testing. I'm guessing they drugged me during testing, keeping my conscious mind out of the way so that it couldn't interfere. For a few hours at a time, though, I would be woken up in this empty room. A computer would tell me to do various stuff like puzzles, it was weird. I guess they needed to test my cognitive abilities as well, see how the modifications had affected my brain.>
“I'm assuming you didn't find out anything useful, then,” Tashima said as he rubbed his chin.
<I thought myself as a whole was useful now,> Havoc grunted.
“Eh, you know what I mean,” Tashima again shrugged, glancing about to make sure no one else was around. This wasn't exactly the busiest street in the dome-enclosed miniature city, circling around the lowest tier of the dome and thus being of lower class and standing. There were plenty of places in the upper tiers they could have gone to eat, but Tashima appreciated the more humane, private, and yet personal feel of the businesses down here. Satisfied that no one was around, he continued, “Inside info on CYPHER, stuff about TRINITY that'll be hard or impossible to find out just based on you, etcetera.”
<Never got a chance to,> Havoc said as he shook his head. <The only voices I can remember other than that computer are all distant and faded; I don't think I can remember anything about what they were saying no matter how hard I tried.>
“That's a shame,” Tashima sighed as he stopped at the entrance to their destination: the base of a five-level building with a broken and unreadable holographic sign hanging over its simple, old-style swinging door. As he pushed the door open, a bell rang and attracted the attention of the gray-bearded man who stood behind the bar counter examining and cleaning the glasses. Tashima nodded to the man as he slid into a booth, Havoc sitting down across the table from him. It looked to be a slow day as other than Havoc, Tashima, and the bartender there were only a couple of other people spread around the room, all keeping to themselves as they ate and drank. He couldn't help but notice some of them glance their way, though, specifically at the seemingly out of place Typhlosion.
As no one else worked at this time to wait on Tashima and Havoc, the bartender walked out from behind the bar and over to the table, crossing his arms. “The usual?” he asked as he took a card from Tashima and ran it through a scanner he held. The two had come to this restaurant enough that everyone who worked there had long since memorized the standard meals they always got. Tashima silently nodded in response, the bartender turning away and retreating to the kitchen without a further word spoken.
<This place always has such great atmosphere...> Havoc said sarcastically.
Not wanting to interrupt the otherwise quietness of the restaurant, Tashima switched to talking non-verbally over his implants, <It has its charms.>
<You think they could at least play some music or something...>
Just a few minutes later the bartender walked back out with their food and drinks, prepared surprisingly fast as usual. Tashima suspected that they either had everything for the average day made in advance, or that they were using a matter synthesizer for everything. Either way the food was fine for what it was, and Tashima immediately began digging into the burger the bartender set in front of him. Havoc, meanwhile, merely glanced down at his steak, pushing around the utensils that had been brought with it as if contemplating rather he should actually eat it or not.
<You know, if you don't eat that I will,> Tashima finally said after a few more minutes of silence between the two.
<It's rare. You know you can't eat anything less than medium without getting sick,> Havoc mumbled.
<Exactly. So eat it now before I go and make myself sick just for the sake of not having wasted money,> Tashima said as he took another bite of his burger.
Grumbling under his breath, Havoc gingerly picked up the fork and knife, holding the human utensils as best his clawed paws allowed him. Havoc knew that Tashima didn't mind if he weren't to use utensils, but most people would find such an act to be uncivilized. Havoc sometimes wondered how the Pokémon who didn't have prehensile paws managed to eat in public, although the answer was pretty simple: they didn't, either that or they ate in special restaurants that catered almost exclusively to Pokémon.
Cutting off a large piece of the steak, Havoc extravagantly picked the large chunk of mostly red meat up to his mouth, ensuring that Tashima saw him take a bite. The meat tasted normal to Havoc, just as any other steak he had ever gotten at that place did. From the taste there was still no indicator of any internal changes to his body, and even as he swallowed it went down as normal.
<Congratulations, eating doesn't kill you. Now finish before you die of not eating,> Tashima joked, raising an eyebrow.
The single bite seemed to set Havoc's stomach into motion as it began to beg for more food, the Typhlosion realizing that he truly was hungry. Quickly he started eating faster, Tashima also getting back to eating his burger. It was about another minute into the meal when Havoc paused to take a drink from the glass of water that had also been brought out, dropping his utensils and picking the glass up with both paws. While he was taking a drink, the heads-up display his implants had given him even before the TRINITY modification procedure, similar to Tashima's but less integrated previously, suddenly appeared. The three-dimensional radar in the corner of Havoc's vision flashed a warning as a flickering red dot appeared on it, positioned so that it seemed to be outside the door to the restaurant. Almost dropping the glass in surprise, Tashima raised his eyebrow again as he set down his own glass filled with soda.
<Something up?> Tashima asked.
Before Havoc could respond the flickering dot disappeared all together, the radar quieting down as the heads-up display faded out of view. Havoc hesitantly shook his head, a shiver running up his spine and tingling his fur nonetheless. <N—nothing. I guess it's just that I haven't had any water in so long, I almost forgot what it was like,> he lied, quickly coming up with an excuse.
Tashima nodded slowly, not really believing the half-baked excuse. He let it slide for now though and took another sip of his soda, watching Havoc as he set the glass down and went back to his steak. With how viciously he was attacking it due the hunger of not having had any real food for two weeks, it wasn't long before Havoc set the fork and knife back on the now empty plate and finished off the last of his water. Tashima with his more reasonable pace wasn't much longer, Havoc focusing on a video screen mounted in a corner of the restaurant that was displaying the news as he waited. Connecting to the channel's wireless audio feed, he rested an elbow on the table and his muzzle on his clenched paw, a decidedly human gesture he had picked up after living with Tashima so long.
It was while Havoc was watching some news story on the upcoming mayoral elections for Helios City that his heads-up display suddenly burst into view again. As before the radar was flashing quickly in warning, another flickering red dot showing up. This time, however, it was directly outside the wall Tashima and Havoc were seated against, in the alley that ran along the side of the building. Just as last time it soon disappeared, Havoc glancing at the windowless wall as if he expected something to come bursting straight through it at any moment. <I think we should get out of here,> Havoc said. <Stay calm.>
<About what?> Tashima asked curiously, finishing off the last of his burger.
Havoc quickly slid out of the booth, Tashima following a split-second later. Briskly, Havoc walked over to the door and pushed his way out of the restaurant, Tashima following in confusion. “Hey, what's going on?” the young man demanded in his audible voice now that they were out of the silent restaurant.
<Quiet, don't talk out here either,> Havoc said sharply as he slowed down into a normal walk, in the direction of where their aerocar was parked. <I thought it was a glitch the first time, but something keeps on popping up on my sensors. A CYPHER IFF signature.>
<CYPHER? Not a police signature or anything?> Tashima asked for clarification.
<Yeah. It's odd though, it doesn't show all the time,> Havoc explained. <And even when it does show it flickers, as if there's interference.>
<It's possible that it may be jamming its own signature, a sort of cloak with minor fluctuations that leads it to appear to you when it's at a lesser power...> Tashima proposed, his hand inching closer to his waist as he spoke.
Noticing the motion, Havoc purposefully stumbled to the side, knocking into Tashima before wavering away as he regained his balance, hoping that to an onlooker he would merely look drunk. <Don't be so quick on the draw. If whatever it is was sent out to attack us, it would have already done so now that we're clear of the other witnesses who were in there.>
<Yeah, I suppose...> Tashima grumbled, although he still wasn't satisfied that they were safe. Quickly he established a wireless connection with the gun strapped to his waist and turned off the safety, although he left the power off for now as the spike it generated upon charge-up would be too noticeable on any sort of standard-issue electromagnetic scanner. <How come you're picking up these fluctuations in whatever cloaking field it's using and I'm not? I thought our sensors were the same...>
<That must be one of the differences I've been looking for,> Havoc answered, resisting the urge to shrug. <They must have installed more powerful sensors as part of the package.>
<Either that or the increased power this TRINITY power core supposedly provides has boosted the effectiveness of your existing ones,> Tashima hypothesized, unsure that CYPHER would go to the trouble of replacing Havoc's wireless sensors when there wouldn't have been any reason for them to.
Nothing more seemed to show up to Havoc on the rest of the trip back home, his radar remaining quiet. Perhaps whatever it was had left, or maybe it had repaired its cloak and was still on its tail. There was always the possibility that it had simply been a glitch as well, a side-effect of Havoc's new TRINITY-powered and fully integrated systems conflicting with his older standalone implants. However, paranoia about Havoc's condition was the sole reason Tashima had even been able to save him at all that day, and for all he knew such paranoia could save them now as well. However, not a single confrontation with their possible stalker occurred on the trip home, and by the time the aerocar smoothly slid back down into the familiar garage Tashima's nerves had relaxed some.
“Master Tashima, and master Havoc as well I see! Welcome home!” The house AI exclaimed ever cheerily as the house's two occupants walked inside, Tashima kicking his shoes off by the door.
“Can it,” Tashima grunted. “Any messages?”
“None, sir!” the AI happily answered. In his boredom over the past two weeks Tashima had been experimenting on the AI, hoping that he could manage to lessen its excitability. Unfortunately all such attempts had failed, although he had managed to make it somewhat more polite. It didn't really prove any less annoying, though. “May I inquire as to the whereabouts of master Havoc these past two weeks?” the AI went on to ask.
<I was—> Havoc began to speak on a shared channel between Tashima and the AI, but Tashima quickly jumped in to interrupt.
“No, you can't.”
“That is most unfortunate,” the AI responded in the closest to a disappointed voice that Tashima had ever heard from it. “Very well, I shall leave you to your business. Have a fine day!”
<I was hoping you would keep everything exactly the same,> Havoc remarked, looking over the living room which was indeed exactly the same as it had been the last time he had been in the house. In reference to the changes to the AI, he went on to add, <I guess you kept the important things the same, at least.>
Tashima nodded blankly, swaggering over to the couch and falling down onto it. Exhaustion was now finally hitting him, and all he wanted to do for the rest of the day was relax. Bringing up the wall-sized television's holographic interface, he scrolled through a list of favorite channels until selecting a comedy channel, a stand-up comedian whose act he had seen dozens of times appearing on the screen. It was good enough for Tashima though, and so he dug back in the couch as Havoc walked over, vaulting over the couch's back and falling down next to Tashima.
<I think I need this too...> the Typhlosion murmured.
Together the two friends pushed the thoughts of how narrowly Havoc had cheated death out of their mind, forgot about the questionable extent of Havoc's modifications, and mutually decided that the work that had to be done to investigate their reward could always be done another day. For now all that mattered was the comfortable, familiar sofa and the stale, old, yet also familiar comedian on the TV, reciting jokes that were no longer as funny as they had been the first time they had heard them. As Tashima and Havoc took comfort in the familiarity of the situation, they both knew with a subtle feeling in their hearts that this moment could very well be the last such moment they would have for a long time.
End of Chapter 3
So...now I'm out of the “flashback” part. Thank god... I guess I don't really have much more to say, other than that...oh! This chapter was similar to chapter 1 in that I ended up not happy with a part and rewrote it, in this case it was the beginning though (after the news article thing). Similar to in chapter 1 there was originally more action, but I changed it to be more of a stealth approach. My hope is that eventually I'll just get it through me that the action route tends to, well, suck. It's one of the reasons I'm conflicted with the previous chapter, but...whatever. The ironic thing here is that I ended up doing the opposite of what I had been considering: I detailed the drop-off of Havoc fairly well and skipped over Tashima's escape, hoping it's implied that due to the uniform he's wearing that he has no problems getting around.
I'll come out right now and say that I'm really not pleased with this start to the story. It's messed up all over the place due to me not thinking it out so well. Fortunately, though, the rest of the story is much more thought out with my biggest problem being that I'm not sure if I should have this one certain event come sooner or later. Perhaps sometime I'll rewrite just these opening chapters, but for now it's time to get into the story I've been waiting to tell.
Oh, also, I went back and due to my OCD adjusted the formating of the older chapters to be more in line with how I format TFCv2 chapters. Yeah...
Sorry this took so long ;_; I wanted it done two weeks ago, but life (and moving) intervened...
The sound of blaring sirens cut through the crackling blaze burning amidst a large tunnel. At the center of the flames lay a vehicle shaped like a flattened bullet with a razor-sharp leading edge. The craft's metal paneling and durable frame were designed to handle the much higher temperatures generated upon atmospheric reentry; however, the explosion that had created the flames had split the spacecraft straight in half, its passenger-filled center exposed to the flames. Several people had died instantly, those who didn't too injured to escape on their own. Among the passengers lying on the craft's floor was a young boy, writhing in pain and screaming in terror as he fought to keep conscious. The entire left side of his body was exposed to the flames erupting from the split in the ship's hull, hair burning away as flesh darkened to a sickening charred black.
As the boy cried in pain, he held tightly to the Pokémon wrapped in his arms, pressing it against the ground beneath him to shield it from the flames. The Pokémon, resembling a weasel with blue and cream-colored fur, stared out between the boy's arms with wide eyes. Helplessly he watched as the flames eagerly consumed the boy's sacrifice, the Pokémon in exchange protected from harm by a person not even of the same species. Amid the chaos, the Pokémon watched as the fire indiscriminately destroyed both the replaceable and the irreplaceable.
Havoc's eyes jerked open suddenly, the Typhlosion's breathing heavy as he lay sprawled out on his back atop his bed. Despite the intense heat his body naturally generated, he shivered as he slid off the bed. Tears involuntarily began to drip from his eyes, Havoc quick to cover them with a paw as he collected himself. Wiping his eyes dry, he slowly walked over to the bedroom's door, holding a paw up to the access panel. Before he could press it, however, alerts rang out inside his mind as his radar appeared for the third time in less than a day. A solid red dot moved quickly across the display, Havoc discerning that it had to be on the floor below him.
Wiping the thoughts of the nightmarish memory out of his mind, Havoc narrowed his eyes as the dot rose up through the shaft that connected the floors of the house, advancing down the hallway just outside the door now. Flexing his claws, Havoc prepared for whatever it was it to burst through the door of his room at any moment, ready to carry through the failed execution he had been meant to receive the previous day. However, the dot paused for only a moment outside his door, choosing instead to carry on down the hallway.
In Tashima's room, the young adult lay peacefully on his side, facing away from the door as he slept. Amid his deep sleep, he was unaware as the door to his bedroom silently slid open, a dark shape drifting through the doorway and into the unlighted room. Hung suspended below the intruder's teardrop-shaped body, a triple-barreled gun clicked as it twitched about, finally coming to point directly at the young adult who was still unaware of its presence. The variety of mismatched and oddly sized sensors across the front of what could be considered the intruder's face flickered with a red light as it examined its target, itself unaware of the large Typhlosion sneaking up behind it.
Suddenly, Havoc lashed out and grabbed at the support that attached the rotary railgun to the drone's main body, whipping it around and slamming it into a wall. The railgun's support was shattered by the impact, bullets that had been stored inside it scattering about the floor as the gun itself limply hung beneath the drone's body by the cable running from it into the drone. Surprised by the sudden assault, the drone reflexively fired the crippled gun. All it succeeded in doing, however, was placing three holes in the ground with the ammunition that had already been loaded. Nonetheless, the sound of the three shots the drone was able to aimlessly fire off finally managed to shatter Tashima's sleep, the boy leaping up in his bed in surprise. Turning to face the noise, Tashima was just in time to see Havoc bare his fangs as he curled the claws of one paw into a fist. An inferno of red flames surrounded the fist as the Typhlosion hurled it at the scout drone he continued to hold against the wall. The fire punch pierced straight through the drone, its internal circuitry reduced to a fried mess and effectively killing the would-be assassin.
“What the hell is going on?!” Tashima exclaimed as Havoc dropped the now useless hunk of metal, staggering back away from it as he shook his head.
<I... I don't know. I just...happened to wake at the perfect time,> Havoc said as if in a trance, shaking some fragments of the drone's circuitry off his paw.
“Computer!” Tashima yelled as he leaped out of bed, pulling on a robe that hung next to his bed. “How the hell did that thing get in here?!”
In response, all that Tashima got was silence. For some reason the computer didn't seem to be working, and realizing this he ran over to his desk. Pushing the chair out of the way, he slammed his palm down on a small square section bounded by a line, a portion of the desk's surface sliding back as a holographic projector poked up through the opening. Automatically the computer tried to log Tashima into the internet through his CYPHER supplied connection, but a message popped up instead of his home page.
“Alert: This connection has been cut off by order of CYPHER Corporation. Please direct all complaints and/or inquiries to your local residential manager,” the computer's screen read.
“Dammit!” Tashima shouted, pounding a fist on the disk. “To hell with this, just give me the local network!”
<Hey, calm down there...> Havoc urged, walking up next to Tashima and placing a paw on the young adult's shoulder. <We can't get worked up, not until we figure out what's going on at least.>
Tashima pulled his shoulder away, growling. “I was just almost killed, how do you expect me to react? And it seems pretty obvious what's up.” Tashima began entering commands into the computer through a keyboard that appeared on the surface of the desk, probing the display directly to select items. A status report of the house's local network soon appeared, showing exactly what Tashima feared. “Household AI is down, non-vital electricity is cut off, water is gone, gas lines, everything. Hell, the only reason this computer is working right now is due to the backup generator,” Tashima reported.
<You think CYPHER did all this?> Havoc asked.
“Of course,” Tashima said as he shut down the computer and ran to his closet, quickly pulling on some clothes. “Blocking internet access is easy with access to the right services, but I haven't heard of anyone else who's tried hacking into the utilities system. I'm sure it could be done, but why bother?”
<Why should CYPHER bother?> Havoc asked in retaliation. As a thought occurred to him he looked down at his chest, remembering what was now inside him. <Do you think...>
“I fucked up,” Tashima growled, palming open a safe in the wall and pulling out a leather belt, his VF-EMRP gun already holstered in it. “I knew it, my camera program... It must have been too new. I must have forgotten something, forgotten to cover up one single log perhaps. Even that would be enough for them to work everything out; what I was after yesterday.”
<Sure it was yesterday?> Havoc asked as he turned to follow Tashima who was running about the room, grabbing a ton of smaller items he stuffed into the inner pockets of his trench coat. <You don't think anything from when we first went there and found out about TRINITY tipped them off?>
“I wouldn't think so...” Tashima murmured, turning to face the Typhlosion. “Why would they wait 'till now, after you've been put through all of that and everything. If they knew that you were a plant, wouldn't they have stopped all this and come after me already? What, they stringing us along or something?”
<I don't—wait.> Something had just come together in Havoc's head, the large Pokémon sitting down on Tashima's bed as he pulled up his internal memory stores.
“What're you doing?” Tashima asked, able to tell from the lifeless gaze of Havoc's eyes that he was working with his neural computer.
<Hold on...> Havoc muttered. In his head he pulled up his sensor records from the day before, isolating the two occasions when he had noticed the CYPHER signature pop up. Closing his eyes he devoted all non-vital computing cycles to the process of analyzing the signature, then taking that analysis and matching it against all the sensor records he had from between when they had first left the CYPHER Tower to when they had returned home.
“I was going to do this later today, but I have a theory now,” Havoc spoke verbally, not wanting to disturb the analysis by using his cybernetic communicator. “I'm running a pattern match, between the two instance when I saw that ghost signature and the rest of the time between CYPHER and when we got home.”
“You think it followed us,” Tashima extrapolated, holding his chin in thought. “But...if they knew we were there, why didn't they just stop us leaving?”
“Go ask CYPHER, how should I know?” Havoc grunted. “For all I know they're aware of this whole thing and everything we've done they've known about. Why did they let us go and why are they only now acting? Perhaps there's some conspiracy behind all of this, but there's no way to say right now. Hell, if there was a conspiracy than that would explain a lot...”
“Yeah...” Tashima sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “I've been thinking about this a lot. Don't you think that it was all perhaps a little too easy? I mean, the MAC was way under-guarded as were all the basement levels. When it came to the hacks I had to use, especially against the MAC... Well, I wasn't even sure I'd be able to do anything in the first place with how secure it was all supposed to be. But, it really didn't prove much harder than any other computer. And that information on TRINITY...why would such a massive corporation be so careless as to leave something like that lying around? Sure, because they're massive it's hard to guard against everything, but it all just went too perfectly. I was thinking that I was just not giving myself enough credit, but...”
<...It was following us,> Havoc said in his normal mental voice as he interrupted Tashima, his eyes opening up but retaining a blank expression as he interpreted the results of the analysis. <There are gaps in the trail and it's shaky at best, but there's just too much of a match in place. That would be one hell of a coincidence, so I think it's safe to say that whatever it was had been following us straight from the moment we left the Tower, all the way to when we got back here.>
Tashima turned to face his door, placing a hand on the lump beneath his coat where his gun was holstered. “We have to get away from here. That won't be the last one they send if they want us dead, not by a long shot.”
<Where're we going to go?> Havoc asked as he stood up. <I don't exactly want to live in the sewers like fugitives or something.>
“I know some people in the outer city,” Tashima explained, leaning against the wall as he grabbed his forehead. “Until we can figure something else out, we can stay with them.”
<You realize what this means, right?> Havoc asked, turning his eyes away from Tashima as he looked about the room. <We're done for here. We can't just wait for things to cool off, we're criminals to CYPHER now. We can't just come back here again after a few weeks or even months and have a good laugh over drinks at the bar about it. I'm pretty sure that stealing company secrets isn't allowed by your contract, after all, and if they know now what we did...>
Tashima sighed, shaking his head. “Screw CYPHER. Even if we have to live a life on the run from them, it'd be better than just wasting away my life working on all these projects when I don't even know what most of them are for.” Stepping away from the wall, Tashima walked over to his desk again and activated its computer. Tapping at the virtual keyboard, he began an automatic wipe of all his and Havoc's personal data and files that CYPHER had on their servers, using the most secure and irrecoverable methods he knew. “They tell me to program this, program that, and in all the years I've been here I can still only count on one hand those projects that I actually know the details of. For all I know I myself may have worked on TRINITY at some point. I had to write a program to monitor the power distribution within a closed system once, maybe that was it. Who knows.”
Tashima turned away from the computer as it went along the process of deleting everything within CYPHER's databases about the two of them that it could. He hadn't bothered to tell it to take care of the house network, there were more efficient methods for that. “Here's a fact for you,” Tashima volunteered as he walked to the open door. “I stopped going to work the day you were put into stasis.”
<Heh, then maybe this has nothing to do with TRINITY and is just their way of reprimanding you for slacking off,> Havoc joked, shrugging.
“Yeah, that'd be a riot,” Tashima blankly stated, unable to actually laugh at the idea though. He was too focused and serious now, humor could come later. “Need to grab anything before we leave? As you said, we're not coming back.”
Havoc shook his head, backing off his attempt to lighten the mood. <What would I have? You're the one with all the fancy gadgets and illegally obtained weapons. I've never really had any attachment to this place.>
Tashima shrugged. “Good point. Let's get going.”
Hurriedly the two rushed down the hallway, leaping down the elevator shaft which had been disabled along with everything else. Circling out the front door and into the ramshackle garage they had built, Tashima threw open the trunk of their red aerocar. Already it was loaded with a small backpack which he had stashed in it two weeks ago, just in case something like this would happen. As Tashima went over to some shelves on the walls and grabbed a handful of fuel cells and batteries of various sizes, Havoc couldn't help but notice the backpack.
<You really have been expecting something like this to happen, than,> Havoc surmised.
“It wasn't out of the realm of possibility. I just wasn't expecting it so soon after you got back...” Tashima threw the fuel cells and batteries into a couple small plastic containers and shoved them into the car's trunk before moving over to a small safe sitting in the corner. Kneeling down to it, he opened it with his palm print like he had with the one in his room. Inside sat a large box of the standard caseless 5mm jacketed hollow-point rounds Tashima's gun along with most other small arms used. The high velocities that railgun projectiles reached meant that the mass, and thus size of the bullet were less important and allowed higher magazine sizes Also inside the safe were two spare magazines for the VF-EMRP, which Tashima had purposefully kept separate from the gun itself for safety reasons. First checking that all three of his magazines were full, Tashima thrust the spares into pouches on his belt and picked up the ammunition box, dropping it into the car's trunk before slamming it shut “One more thing,” Tashima reminded Havoc, turning to the door that led into the second room they had built off the garage.
Ignoring the admittedly rather tempting Cybernet deck that sat in the middle of the floor, Tashima went around to the computers on the wall and began pulling cables out with little disregard for what they were for. After everything had been unplugged, Tashima pulled out his pistol and aimed it at a small file server that sat against the wall. Trays along the front of the server housed the several drives that the household network had been run off of, all of Tashima and Havoc's personal data resting on them. After flicking the pistol on and waiting the brief moment it took for it to charge up, Tashima fired off a series of shots that ripped through the server, destroying all the drives and everything that had been on them. He certainly wasn't planning on making any sort of investigation against them easier than it had to be.
Holstering his pistol again, Tashima returned to the garage and pulled a lever that began to manually open the otherwise electrically-controlled roof door. Casually he hopped into the aerocar as the dim light overhead began to fill the garage, Havoc shaking his head as he followed. <You've been wanting to do that, haven't you?> he asked
This time, Tashima at least cracked as smile as he powered up the car, grabbing the control yoke and pulling it forward for manual control. “And what if I said yes?”
Seated in the aerocar's rear seat, Havoc continued to shake his head as he activated a holographic display for the car's integrated computer. <I'd say that you're a crazy nut job who needs to decide once and for all who his allegiance lies with.>
“Currently, just with myself,” Tashima said as he activated the aerocar's primary lift thrusters, a cloud of dirt kicking up as the vehicle slowly rose off the ground by a few feet and carefully ascended up to the opening in the roof above. Placing a tense hand on the throttle control at his side, Tashima waited for the car to clear the garage before pushing it forward gently. The aerocar began to glide forward through the air, away from the house which Tashima knew that he would likely never return to. It didn't bother him too much; like Havoc he had never been too attached to it. Indeed, the part he would probably miss the most would be his specialized Cybernet deck.
<Here, I've got something,> Havoc said from the back of the car as he messed with the computer, interrupting Tashima's chance to mourn the loss of his Cybernet deck. <It seems that CYPHER has set up a disabling field around this area, presumably to prevent us from escaping like this.>
“Good thing this baby doesn't respond to the normal frequencies. Sure it's illegal, but it's so worth it now,” Tashima grunted in reply as he flew the aerocar over the numerous buildings below in a path that took him along the interior surface of the dome construct rather than towards its middle as he was more used to.
<There's more though,> Havoc continued. <Guess what's being broadcast over the police wireless?>
A moment later, a crackling sound filled Tashima's head momentarily as he was connected to the wireless communication channel that typically only the police were meant to be able to access. The static soon disappeared however, the clear sound of an automated computer bulletin replacing it. “To all patrolling units, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of former CYPHER employee Tashima Navara, identification code 2491061942. He may be accompanied by a Pokémon of species Typhlosion with adopted name Havoc, identification code 2492090523. Suspects are likely armed and dangerous; lethal force has been authorized if necessary.”
Tashima muted the channel as the bulletin began to loop. “Guess they really don't like us now,” Tashima said, not seeming disturbed by the revelation. It wasn't much of a surprise after what he had woken to. “We'll want to be cloaked; I'm sure they'll have drones monitoring the exit and if they see us approaching they'll have it sealed before we can make it through.”
<Already working on it,> Havoc reported as he began charging up the aerocar's illicit cloaking field generator. He still wasn't sure where Tashima had got it from, but it was a safe bet that it was either bought from the black market or stolen directly from CYPHER. The aerocar began to vibrate as the dampeners shut off to conserve power, causing the ride to feel almost like a combination roller coaster and a wheeled car traveling over a rough gravel road without shock absorbers. Tashima gripped the control yoke tightly while Havoc sat back and grabbed on to his chair's armrests. Without the dampeners operational there was nothing preventing them from falling out if Tashima took too sharp a banked turn, climb, or dive. Sometimes Havoc wished that Tashima hadn't removed the safety harnesses because they were, to him, ugly and unattractive.
As Tashima piloted the aerocar towards the small exit from the dome that he could see off in the distance, the vehicle shimmered and faded out of sight. The cloaking field that the aerocar's generator projected was fairly advanced for its compact size, rendering everything inside the roughly spherical field completely invisible to the naked eye. It went a step further though and even masked all heat emissions from the car, with the hope that on a thermal sensor nothing out of the ordinary would be detected without careful analysis. Unfortunately, the field was not completely effective at blocking ultraviolet emissions. However, as most optical sensors operated within the visual and infrared ranges Tashima was fairly certain that the cloak would be sufficient to escape notice from the drone sentries at the exit gate.
Tashima and Havoc were silent as the exit gate approached, lights flashing around the opening to guide traffic through. As they got closer to the gate, Tashima could see a pair of heavy scout drones positioned to either side of the hole in the dome. The dual rotary cannons suspended beneath each of the drones panned back and forth, the robots no doubt keeping an eye out for the two of them. Before the aerocar could attempt to hand control over to the exit gate's computer for a safer flight through, Tashima flipped a manual override switch on the control yoke. Still on manual control, he carefully turned the aerocar to line it up with the hole, pulling back on the throttle so he could maneuver better. Only when the aerocar was lined up properly did he punch the throttle forward as far as it would go.
The vehicle jerked forward and pushed its occupants back in their seats as it sped toward the opening leading to the outside world. The drones hadn't reacted to their presence so far, so Tashima assumed that the cloaking field was holding up against them. Still, he wanted to get away from the CYPHER headquarters as fast as possible. The guide lights on the edge of the exit gate flew past the aerocar as it threaded its way through the narrow opening, the surrounding light suddenly dimming as the artificial ambient lighting within the dome was replaced by the natural light of the outside world. In addition to the soft moonlight from the sky that now seemed so far above, lights of every color imaginable emanated from the countless towering skyscrapers that sprawled out all through the city, covering the entire island that Helios had been constructed on. While the area immediately around the CYPHER dome and tower were clear of any other buildings, in the distance Tashima could see the flow of traffic twisting between the towers that pressed right up against the dome's base. Drifting through the air as the dome curved away below them, Tashima knew that he could only relax once he had left CYPHER airspace and merged with one of the traffic lanes. So long as they sat out in the open, even outside the dome they remained a sitting duck.
<Haven't been out here in a while...> Havoc murmured as he looked around at the city, the buildings taller than any within the dome yet still not even half the height of the CYPHER Tower that stretched far into the sky above and behind them.
Before either of them had much of a chance to take in the sights, a siren suddenly blared out within the heads of both Havoc and Tashima. Quickly flipping through screens on his holographic display, Havoc cried out the news that Tashima had been dreading. <Our cloak's being jammed! They must have a barrier set up around their perimeter!>
As if materializing out of thin air, the aerocar began to appear again as the cloaking field Tashima had been depending on failed. Audible sirens began to sound from the CYPHER headquarters as squads of both light and heavy varieties of scout drones began to deploy from openings along the curved sides of the dome, moving towards Tashima and Havoc's position.
“Dammit...” Tashima growled as he changed their course, heading towards the nearest buildings now rather than the ones leading to his friend's place. They wouldn't last long without the cover surrounding buildings provided. “That wasn't there last time we left. They're really serious about catching us now, aren't they?”
<Yeah, the tracking bug they're trying to plant on us agrees,> Havoc quickly said as he tried his best to counter the virus and prevent it from embedding itself within the aerocar's computer. <Wow, I've never seen anything like this before. If you weren't busy driving you'd love to see this...>
“Yeah, I can examine their virus later when I'm not trying to save us once again. Stop worrying about it and just get the dampeners back online; prioritize gravitic!” Tashima yelled. So long as the gravitic dampeners remained offline his mobility was limited, preventing him from performing any complex maneuvers or even just banking too steeply. The gravitic dampeners were what altered the gravitational field around the aerocar to keep its passengers from falling out; kinetic dampeners merely lessened the G-forces and made the ride more comfortable which certainly wasn't as high a priority.
<They'll be up in a moment, just need to reroute power back to them. Would it hurt them if their jammer could be considerate enough to do it automatically...> Havoc rambled as he gave up fighting the virus. It would continually broadcast their location to CYPHER until it was deactivated or they could remove it, but Havoc wasn't making much progress against it anyway. Instead he began to reroute the power that was still being delivered to the inoperable cloaking field generator back to the dampeners, trying not to fry anything in the process.
Meanwhile, Tashima pulled up his own holographic screen, setting it to display the densities of the traffic lanes. His goal was still to merge into one, the surrounding civilians meaning that CYPHER wouldn't be able to fire on them so long as they were in the lane. If there wasn't much traffic, though, it could give the perusing drones a chance to fire; while if it was too busy it would be hard to quickly enter and subsequently navigate. Finding the nearest medium density lane, he plotted the shortest path to it, a shimmering gold trail appearing on his heads-up display leading off in the lane's direction. “Those dampeners better be online soon. If not, well, hang on!”
Tashima suddenly twisted the yoke to the side while pushing it forward, the aerocar tilting almost on its side as it banked to the right and began to dive at a very steep angle. <You could've waited a moment!> Havoc yelled as he gripped at the armrests, sliding dangerously unrestrained to the side of his seat. Just when it seemed as if they were going to fall out of the car, the gravitic dampener kicked in and pulled them safely back down into the seats. Leveling out from the rapid turn, Tashima descended into an even stepper dive now that there wasn't the danger of falling out of the car.
Above the aerocar, a pair of scout drones approached where the car had been mere seconds before it had taken the rapid descent. Rotating about to locate them, the drones locked on to their target and began to pursue, their rotary cannons powering up and spinning about in an indistinguishable blur. <We've got company!> Havoc reported as be spotted the drones.
“I can't retaliate now, we've got to evade them for the moment!” Tashima exclaimed, concentrating on the dive that was bringing them ever closer to the near-ground traffic lane he had chosen. “Launch the shield drones! Buy me some time!”
Almost as soon as Tashima had given the order, two small hatches opened on the rear of the aerocar, one on either side. A small, cylindrical object was launched from each of the hatches, the shield drones spinning as three triangular shield emitters unfolded from each of the drones. The emitters glowed blue as they powered up, a translucent-blue kinetic barrier appearing in front of each of the drones. The artificial intelligence for the drones was simple, its sole purpose being to put itself in between its master and whatever was shooting at them while the kinetic barrier protected against common projectile weaponry such as railguns. Despite their simplicity, Tashima was glad he had them as each shield drone acquired one of the scout drones, maneuvering the best they could to prevent the drones from getting a clear shot at the aerocar.
The scout drones weren't too smart either, though, and soon began to open fire. The stream of bullets rained down on the aerocar, however the shield drones held up as the bullets bounced off the kinetic barriers as if they were umbrellas stopping the rain. The rapid rate of fire from the scout drones' rotary cannons meant that the barriers wouldn't last long, though, so Tashima knew he had to take action fast. <Havoc, you're driving!> he yelled as he suddenly spun the aerocar about until it was diving rear-end downward. Flipping the switch to hand off control to the rear seat, Havoc suddenly found his seat spinning around and a control yoke thrust into his hands from a compartment that had opened in the back.
Ignoring his companion's complaints, Tashima pulled out the Variable-Function Electromagnetic Pistol held in the holster on his hip, flipping the mechanical safety off before sliding the mode-selector switch to its third setting. The front end of the gun slid forward as the barrel telescoped out past the front of the gun itself, the barrel extending to its maximum length. The portion that acted as a forward grip in its submachine gun mode flipped down as well, but extended and split apart at an angle to form a bipod support. Relaxing back in his seat, Tashima adjusted the length of the stock that formed from the rear of the gun to a comfortable length, placing the bipod on the front of the car for support. In response to the gun's switch to sniper-rifle mode, within Tashima's heads-up-display a circle appeared with an enlarged view of the gun camera's field of view. Within that circle a crosshair appeared at its center, while at the same time the usual simulated red beam sight appeared to Tashima, wavering within the enlarged view.
Taking his time, Tashima aimed the gun at one of the scout drones, needing to align both the beam and crosshair for the perfect accuracy he was looking for. The deployed shield drones now proved a hindrance, however, as his shot would also be deflected by the kinetic barrier in the way. Quickly Tashima set up a connection between the shield drone and his gun, syncing the two so that the barrier would drop for a split-second the moment he fired. Gritting his teeth and holding his breath, Tashima held the gun as still as he could, twitching it only slightly to compensate for the shakiness of Havoc's driving. The moment the crosshair and laser sight lined up he squeezed the trigger, the bullet streaking out of the barrel with a thundering crack, leaving behind it an arcing electrical trail. Flying right through the shield drone's barrier in the split-second it was disabled, the bullet went on to pierce through the scout drone, its thin armor proving no match. As the first scout drone fell lifelessly to the ground far below, Tashima acquired the second drone and repeated the process before it could break through the second shield drone's barrier.
“Targets down,” Tashima reported as he converted his gun back to its more compact pistol form, smoke pouring from the open vents along the gun's top. As soon as the slide sprung back forward and closed off the vents, Tashima pushed the gun into its holster and adjusted his seat up again. Grabbing the control yoke, he recovered driving control from Havoc and spun the car back around so he was facing the right direction. The shield drones, battered from the hits but still functional, deactivated and slid back into their storage ports.
<That won't stop them for long,> Havoc stated as his chair spun back around again.
“I don't plan for it to have,” Tashima said as he banked the aerocar around one of the many towers that populated Helios city, gliding just a foot from its glass walls as he whipped the car about. Coming into full view from behind the tower, they finally caught sight of the traffic lane they were heading for.
As if carving out a tunnel through the city, the traffic lane was marked at regular intervals by floating square gates, lights flashing along their edges much as with the exit gate from CYPHER. Intended to allow passage of a much higher volume of traffic, however, the gates that marked out the traffic lane were larger, allowing several aerocars traveling next to, above, and below each other to pass through at the same time. Aerocars streamed through the lane constantly, at speeds high enough that if you weren't focusing right the lane would seem just like a blur of various colors streaking by. With such high volumes and speeds of traffic collisions seemed almost inevitable, however when the traffic lane system had been incorporated two key systems came into place to prevent accidents. Each lane only facilitated traffic in one direction, with traffic in the other direction handled by a second lane that was usually positioned close to the first; a few blocks away at most. Most important, however, was the fact that whenever an aerocar decided to merge with a traffic lane their car's computer would be taken over by an artificial intellgience that would control the car until it was well clear of the lane. This wouldn't do for Tashima, though. “Cue the override, Havoc.”
<It's loading...> Havoc stated as he executed a program that had been designed to prevent the traffic lane AI from controlling the aerocar; a harder thing to do than with the exit gate AI. <And there it goes. You sure you can handle this fine on manual?>
“Well enough...” Tashima responded, slightly hesitant. For once he was nervous, but with good reason. At the speeds traveled within the traffic lanes, even the slightest bump could result in a total loss of control and inevitably fatal crash. Merging with the lane would be the hardest part though; once he was within it he just had to make sure that he kept his distance from other cars.
Tashima angled the aerocar towards the traffic lane, keeping the angle of approach shallow. Eying a gap in the traffic, he carefully adjusted his speed so that he would squeeze right into it. As they drifted closer toward the lane and the gap in traffic, mere feet from other cars, Tashima noticed a swarm of red dots appearing on his sensor readout. <They're here,> Havoc noted, seeing the swarm as well.
“How are they acting?” Tashima asked, not wanting to take his eyes off the ever approaching traffic lane.
<Hesitant,> Havoc replied, looking off to the side and slightly upwards. Using his optical enhancements to enlarge the image, Havoc studied the group of drones he could see approaching. <They're mostly scout types. Fifty-fifty light and heavy. They brought some shields of their own this time, too. I guess you sent them a message.>
Tashima smirked, but remained silent. The boundary of the traffic lane was now mere inches away from the aerocar, the electromagnetic field that wrapped the lane like a tunnel invisible to the eye yet clearly visible on his heads-up display. Using his sensors in conjunction with his visual eyes, Tashima drifted the aerocar sideways and into the empty space within the traffic lane. Sliding through the invisible barrier, Tashima just managed to squeeze into the gap. The fun wasn't over yet, though. Without the lane AI controlling the car, Tashima had to continue driving, not an easy task as the lane curved its way around buildings. He knew it was worth the risk, though. If he were to let their ride fall mercy to the lane's AI, CYPHER could very easily use it to gain control of the car and pull them right into their hands. Not using the lane at all also wasn't much of a choice now either, as the army of drones tailing the fugitive human and Typhlosion proved.
<They're not shooting at us. You're right, they don't want to inflict civilian casualties,> Havoc observed as he watched the drones. They were keeping their distance, waiting for the moment to pounce.
“No, it's not that.” Tashima would have shook his head if he could, but even so much as speaking was compromising his focus more than he would have liked. “If they shot at us, they would without doubt hit another car. That car would spin out and hit another, and another, and another. More than likely, some cars would hit a gate, and then a building. They don't care about individual lives, what they do care about is the chaos and publicity nightmare that would result from the ensuing damage.”
<True...> Havoc said, making a note to program a simulation of just how much damage a stray shot could cause when he had the free time. Rubbing the fur on the back of his neck and twisting it to the side with a crack, Havoc hesitantly brought up the question he had been thinking about. <So... How exactly do you plan to get out of this without them immediately opening fire?>
“Think you can get the cloak back online?” Tashima asked in response.
<Not really,> Havoc said as he brought up the aerocar's status screen again. <That jamming fried the power circuitry. The generator itself is fine, but I'd need to perform actual maintenance to repair the cabling.>
“Then don't use the internal power. Run it off your own power core,” Tashima said, fully anticipating Havoc's surprised reaction.
<My own power core? Isn't that insanely dangerous?> Havoc didn't disappoint. The suggestion had caught him off-guard, he had never heard of any attempts to do something similar before. The power core used by fully cybernetic bodies and even some partial cyborgs was typically designed to power only the cybernetics and nothing more. Feeding off that energy to power something else could very well result in damage to the cybernetics.
“It's this TRINITY thing, remember?” Tashima said. “Isn't its whole purpose to provide an increased power output over conventional cores?”
<It's a lot more efficient, yes. But what's to say that my own core isn't simply a much smaller version, downscaled to the point where it only provides the power my cybernetics need?> Havoc explained. <We need to learn more about it first before we start poking it.>
“Look, I just find it silly that if the power output of TRINITY is one of its big draws, that they'd put a downscaled version in you.” Tashima realized he was losing focus slightly, drifting too close to the car at his right. Before he continued speaking he moved back to as ideal a position as he could get in the lane. “Just humor me, here. Run a load test at incremental power usages and see how stable it is. If there's problems, then we'll work something else out.”
<Fine...> Havoc remitted. As he executed a program from the aerocar's computer, a neck rest rose up out of the back of his seat. Attached to it were six standardized computer interface plugs situated in a hexagon, a camera at their center guiding them until they lined up with the matching ports on the back of Havoc's neck. Moving forward, the plugs pushed their way through the Typhlosion's course fur and into the plugs, locks engaging to prevent Havoc from pulling away.
Windows began to pop up in Havoc's vision, stacking on top of each other as the hardwire interface between his new cybernetic brain and the aerocar's computer was established. Lines of code flew across the top most window, status output lines intermingled with the code but flowing by to fast for Havoc to consciously comprehend. One by one, the layer of windows began to collapse onto itself until finally the last one disappeared, leaving only the floating text “Hardwire Connection OK” behind. Havoc wasted no time in bringing up a list of programs installed in the car, finding within the list one designed to test the stability of whatever it was run on when under an external power load. Copying the program over to himself, Havoc executed it after only a slight pause.
Immediately the program copied a fragment of itself back over to the car's computer, the fragment simulating a device drawing power from Havoc's power core. Starting out at a low power usage, the program gradually worked its way up to higher loads. While the program worked, Havoc closely monitored the stability of his power core and other cybernetic systems. Conventional wisdom said that eventually his power core would simply be overworked and unable to supply full power output to every system in his body and the external connection as well. Yet, as he watched the power draw increase to relatively high levels, he couldn't notice any change in the power levels his subsystems were receiving.
“Hey, how's it looking?” Tashima asked, impatient to get out of the traffic lane soon.
Havoc didn't respond though. Indeed, he found himself unable to. Not because of any instability, however. In fact, it seemed the higher the power draw put on it, the more stable and efficient the power output from his TRINITY core grew. Already at a power draw several times higher than was was needed for the high-draw cloaking field generator, Havoc knew there would soon be a risk of overloading the aerocar's capacitors and power circuitry. While he knew that he should terminate the program before any damage could be done, in a sort of trance he simply didn't feel as if he had to. Alerts began to appear over his heads-up-display, but were quickly hidden by a shower of static that filled his vision.
“Hey, Havoc?” Tashima was growing concerned. The Typhlosion was unresponsive, and he wondered if perhaps something was wrong.
Risking a glance back, Tashima saw Havoc sitting comatose in the back seat. The Typhlosion was unable to see or even now hear beyond a veil of static, and was barely aware of the image slowly forming out of the flickers of noise filling his vision. First a circle seemed to form, and then along the edges of that circle three smaller ones, intercepting it at evenly spaced intervals. From the exact middle of each smaller circle, a point that rested on the circumference of the large circle, lines began to draw themselves into a triangle that connected the small circles. Havoc could feel his heartbeat rising as the symbol formed against the field of static, an arm raising up by its own power and clutching at his chest. As if drifting amid a sea of flickering black and white Havoc could barely feel anything, but as his paw touched his chest he could feel the radiant heat his body naturally generated rise in temperature uncontrollably, to a point where it became uncomfortable for even him.
Meanwhile, as if floating above him, out of reach, more lines had begun to appear on the incomplete symbol. Slowly, another line began to appear from the center of each of the small circles, each of the three lines moving to intercept with the other two at the large circle's center. As the lines approached their destination, Havoc felt consciousness slipping away even further, the sensation of his paw feeling his internal heat evaporating along with the static noise.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Continued in the next post...
...Continued from previous post.
“Havoc!” Tashima yelled. Impulsively, he flicked up a small flap on the aerocar's front panel, flipping a switch that lay underneath.
The locks that secured the interface plugs with the ports on Havoc's neck suddenly disengaged, the neck rest sliding back and forcefully pulling the plugs out of the Typhlosion's neck ports. For a moment Havoc merely sat there, just as comatose as he had been before. Slowly, however, sensation seemed to return to him. Flicking his eyes about to remember where he was, Havoc slowly sat up straight as he flexed his paws. “What just happened...” he mumbled to himself, too out of it still to use his wireless communicator.
“I was going to ask you the same,” Tashima said with a sigh of relief. “Was your power core overloaded after all?”
<N—no. I don't think...> Havoc said, returning to his usual nonverbal voice. The windows of data he had opened during the test seemed to have frozen and were unresponsive, some parts even looking to be shattered in places due to corruption from the sudden disconnect. <From what data I still have on the test, it's...quite the opposite. This TRINITY thing can handle insanely high power loads just fine, but apparently when it gets too high I start to lose consciousness.>
“Then I guess using you to power the cloak is out of the question,” Tashima sighed in irritation. “The last thing I need is for you to pass out now.”
<No. No... I think that'd be fine,> Havoc said, to Tashima's surprise for once; usually the human was one who suggested anything dangerous. <The point at which I began to lapse out was well beyond what this generator needs. It should work.>
“...You sure?” Tashima asked, somewhat hoping Havoc would change his mind. He'd already put his companion in enough danger by getting him implanted with all this TRINITY stuff in the first place, he didn't want to put him in any more danger again if it was avoidable. “I could think of another plan...”
<And do what? Just start shooting them all? We have two battered shield drones and that's it, if so many as three of them were to get close enough we would be done for. With how many of those things are out there, I don't think we stand much of a chance.> Havoc spoke the truth as usual, and Tashima couldn't deny it.
Regretfully Tashima tossed the switch that controlled the interface plugs back to its normal position, resetting the plugs so they could be used again. “Go ahead...”
Havoc took a breath and leaned back, pushing his neck ports onto the plugs again. Feeling his body tense up slightly, he forced it to relax as the connected computers again ran through their routines. Closing his eyes, he used his neural interface to work with the aerocar's computer, redirecting the power flow for the cloaking generator to draw from his own power core rather than the car's batteries. <I don't want to take risks either, so I'm setting up a hard disconnect timer. After fifteen seconds of cloak, the connection will be cut. That's all you've get.>
“Fifteen seconds should be fine,” Tashima nodded, tensing up as he prepared to break away from the traffic lane. “Feel free to start it up any moment now.”
Havoc took a moment to collect himself while preparing to disconnect at the slightest sign that he was slipping away. <Now,> he finally said, turning on the cloaking field at the same moment.
Tashima immediately pulled out of the traffic lane, the aerocar seeming to flicker before disappearing into thin air at the same time. Havoc grunted as he realized the dampeners were still working, which he supposed did make sense considering that the only reason they normally didn't while cloaked was due to power concerns. Tashima noticed it as well and took full advantage of it, turning into a steep dive that brought them even closer to the ground. Turning quickly, he whipped the car around one short building and then immediately turned around another. The time on the cloak was almost up, but Tashima had already spotted what he was looking for. Not far below was a clear patch of ground that the car's computer determined was big enough for them to land in. Just as the plugs pulled out of Havoc's neck and the cloak failed, Tashima set the aerocar down into the clearing, framed on all sides by small, dilapidated buildings from years ago when the city hadn't been so large or tall.
“I don't think they have a clue where we went, but it won't be long until they find out due to that tracer,” Tashima said as he finally released the car's controls, flexing his hands to relax them.
<So we're ditching the bugged car?> Havoc scratched his chin as he hopped out, rubbing the back of his neck over where the port where. He hadn't had much of a chance to take it in, but that had been his first time using such a connection and the feeling now that he reflected on it was quite bizarre, even without the whole nearly blacking out part.
“Well, with all luck we'll be able to retrieve it some time...” Tashima muttered as he pulled up a holographic display, running the car through a shutdown routine. Only when the aerocar had fully shut down, the tracking bug no longer able to broadcast its location, did Tashima hop out and walk around to the back of the car. Pressing a manual release button he opened the trunk, grabbing the bag with his clothes. Knowing he couldn't take everything he had packed, he sacrificed by throwing out one pair of clothes and replacing it in the bag with a handful of small ammunition boxes from within the large metal box along with some batteries. Removing his gun from its holster, he released the magazine and replaced the two shots he had fired before holstering it again, slinging the bag over a shoulder and slamming the trunk closed. “Let's go. We're nowhere close to Matt's now so we'll have to find a bus or something...”
Most of the ground-level buildings in the immediate area seemed to have long since been abandoned, only stray rats and wild Pokémon roaming their halls. Either lacking the intelligence of most Pokémon or simply denying the more civilized lifestyle Pokémon such as Havoc lived, such wild Pokémon were one of the few remaining links to centuries ago. As Tashima slid down a pile of rubble with Havoc quickly following, the sight of a human and an imposing Typhlosion next to him scared away a scrawny Poochyena. Watching it run off, Tashima couldn't help but wonder what it must have been like all those years ago. As bizarre as it seemed to him, it was alleged that back then humans had no way of understanding Pokémon, and so due to the lack of communication regarded them as little more than animals. Ball-like energy containment devices, surprisingly advanced for their time, were even used to enslave Pokémon and force them to do what their master ordered, it was said.
Kind of like what CYPHER's doing with kidnapping Pokemon as some sort of experimental slaves... Tashima thought. Perhaps back then, no one would have cared about them... Before he could think any further, however, his thoughts were interrupted by Havoc.
<Door's locked,> Havoc reported as he tried opening a door, only for it to remain closed. Gesturing at a slot for a key he added, <Mechanical lock.>
Tashima walked over to the door and examined the lock. Just as Havoc said, it was one of the old types that didn't have a single piece of circuitry within it, relying solely on a physical key. Scratching the back of his neck, he sighed. “You know, it's rather annoying how I can crack most electronic locks easily but am stumped by an antique. We'll have to find another way around.”
<I could bash the door down,> Havoc suggested.
Tashima didn't doubt Havoc's strength, but still shook his head. “Not worth the effort. Finding a detour won't cost us much in terms of time, which we're not exactly short of at the moment anyway.”
Havoc shrugged and turned to follow Tashima as he jumped out a broken window of the building they were in, venturing into an alley between the bases of two of the city's giant skyscrapers. Built close together to make the most of available space, the alley was about as narrow as would be found between buildings of a more reasonable height. Yet, when Tashima craned his head upward, it seemed as if the buildings continued upward forever, their proximity leaving only a tiny slit of the morning sky visible.
Emerging out of the alley, Tashima ventured into the ruins of some large building sprawled over the ground, large chunks of it cut out in places to allow room for ever more of the vertically space-efficient towers that modern architecture so loved. Finding their way through the lower floors blocked, the pair walked up a pair of stairs to the second floor. They hadn't gotten far, though, when they were suddenly stopped in their tracks by a rather recognizable sound.
<Metallic footsteps,> Havoc noted as he listened to the noise. <Assault drones?>
<I don't think they're CYPHER, though,> Tashima responded. <No IFF yet.>
<Ah, patrol-class police variants,> Havoc surmised. <Every bit as dangerous, but slightly more fashionable. Joking aside, they're probably just on standard patrol and aren't actively searching for us.>
<Doesn't mean they won't try to take us in if they see us,> Tashima said.
Just as he spoke, a pair of humanoid drones appeared in the large lobby that lay just down the hall Tashima and Havoc were standing in. Tashima noticed that they were a newer model than the outdated ones they had encountered previously within the CYPHER tower. Rather than a separate head, these assault drones had an oblong bulge merged with the top of their torso on which the twin slit-like eyes, vocal sensors, and vocoder sat. Their armor was sleeker and less bulky than that of the older models, giving their arms and legs a somewhat skeletal appearance. Still, Tashima knew that the armor was just as tough if not better than in the old variants. While their legs remained largely unchanged except for the lighter armor, their arms had been slightly redesigned. As the lighter armor didn't allow for the four railguns on each arm to be concealed, they lay exposed in slots cut of the armor. Positioned so that they wouldn't interfere with the guns, the four-fingered manipulator claws had also been simplified.
Sure enough, Tashima noted the blue paint job the drones sported, a single white stripe running diagonally across the chest of one of them. Just because they weren't operated by CYPHER didn't mean they'd just let the boy and Typhlosion go, however. Indeed, that thought quickly showed how wrong it was as the drones noticed who they regarded as both trespassers and fugitives. The railguns on their arms quickly moved forward to the armed position and the drones leveled their arms at the pair. Knowing they were outmatched, Tashima and Havoc raised their hands above their heads without even needing to be told.
“Citizens!” the drone with the stripe yelled, likely the other's superior. “You are trespassing on private property! Additionally, Cybernetic Pokémon and Human Enhancement Research Corporation has issued a warrant for your arrest! Lethal force has been authorized if you resist!”
“Believe me, that's the last thing I want to do right now,” Tashima sighed as he kept his hands raised.
The striped drone nodded to the other, who began to cautiously move towards the pair with arm-mounted guns remaining focused on them. Meanwhile the striped one spoke again, reporting, “Weaponry detected. You will surrender all weapons immediately. Additionally, Pokémon with registered name Havoc will submit to a suppression collar.”
Tashima gritted his teeth. He really didn't want to lose his only working weapon, but there wasn't much he could do to stop it at this point. Dammit, if only that arm cannon worked... Tashima thought to himself as he glanced at his prosthetic left arm. It cost a fortune to me back when I got it and it's a piece of junk now... <I don't imagine you could take one while I take the other?> he asked Havoc in a last-ditch effort to come up with something.
<I don't imagine those are armor piercing rounds now?> Havoc asked in response.
<Er...not exactly.> Tashima felt like slapping his forehead for again forgetting to buy some armor piercing bullets since the problems he had encountered with the last assault drone they fought. And if we were to try that tactic of softening the armor first again, the second drone would just shred us to pieces...
The drone had reached them by this point, glancing between the two of them as it tried to judge who was the bigger threat. Settling on the more physically imposing Typhlosion, the police drone deactivated the railguns on one of its arms before reaching behind its back, pulling a black metal band out of a container strapped around its waist. Walking over to Havoc, the drone reached out with the band as Havoc growled deep in his throat. Ignoring the Pokemon's anger, the drone roughly pushed up Havoc's muzzle to expose his neck, pushing the band against his skin. The ends of the band suddenly expanded, shooting out and circling around Havoc's neck until they connected together at the back, the band automatically tightening until it was tight around Havoc's neck. As the police drone activated the suppression collar, a series of lights across it turned on at the same time that Havoc began to howl in pain, collapsing to his knees. Panting, he reached for the collar and tried pulling at it, desperate to get the device off.
<Wh...what's up with this?!> Havoc yelled. Tashima noticed that in his panic he hadn't even bothered to address it privately to just Tashima, broadcasting it publicly for all to hear instead. Fortunately, the police drones didn't seem to care about Havoc trying to pull the suppression collar off, nor his panic. <This isn't right...> the Typhlosion protested, glancing over his shoulder at where a mane of fire would have normally ignited among his fur. With the collar on, however nothing happened, not even an ember appearing. <You can't know what this feels like...> he moaned, finally seeming to give up on his attempts to get the collar off. <It's like I've lost a limb, part of my own body... I... I feel cold, defenseless...>
Tashima silently watched Havoc's struggles. He had never seen the Typhlosion like this before; he had always been so calm and collected, strong in the face of danger and never panicking. All it took for him to lose it was that small collar, holding him a prisoner in his own body without the flames he had so relied on. Not wanting to watch anymore of his devastated friend, Tashima quickly averted his eyes, coming to face the drone who had now turned to him. Briskly it pulled open Tashima's coat with a claw, yanking the boy's gun out of its holster with the other. Scanning its eyes over the weapon, it soon spoke. “Weapon type Variable-Function Electromagnetic Pistol, experimental prototype. Records indicate Mako Ballistics filed a report on the theft of this weapon dated August 13, 2507. Classification: stolen contraband.”
“I suppose it wouldn't help any if I were to say I wasn't actually the one who stole it?” Tashima casually said.
However, before the striped police drone could respond, the sound of metal being torn and melted changed the pair's luck around. The striped drone looked down at its chest, only to find a wedge-shaped blade stuck straight through it. Red plasma circled around the edge of the blade, flowing within an unseen electromagnetic field like water through a pipe. The blade suddenly twisted so it was on a diagonal, before slicing right through the police drone's chest from near its hip to the opposite shoulder. Cutting straight through and out of the shoulder, the heavily damaged drone collapsed to the ground.
Standing behind the heap of broken parts was a large hulk of a man, looking like someone straight out of some big action movie. The blade that had cut through the drone emerged from his left arm, a panel on the top of the arm popped open to allow the blade to slide forward, over his hand. As Tashima watched, the plasma that had edged the blade disappeared, the blade itself sliding back under the panel before it dropped down, flush with the arm. The second drone, still holding Tashima's pistol, had by now realized that something had happened and spun around, pointing its free arm at the man.
He was ready, though. A panel on the top of his right arm had opened and sprung back, a four-barreled rotary gun having risen up from within the arm. The barrels already spinning, all he had to do was point it at the drone. Bolts of red plasma shot out from the rotary gun, Tashima diving out of the way as they ripped through the drone as if it didn't even have armor. Designed to protect against kinetic weapons such as railguns, the drone's armor provided no protection at all against the energy-based plasma gun. The drone dropped to the ground lifelessly as the barrels of the rotary gun spun down, sliding back into the arm before it sealed again.
Tashima leapt at the fallen drone and grabbed his gun from its grip, holding it pointed at this newcomer. “Thanks for that, but mind telling us who you are?” Tashima asked.
“My name's Zeta,” the man answered in a gruff voice, crossing his powerful arms across his chest as he stared down at Tashima, a full foot taller than the young adult. “That's it. Don't go askin' about a last name. The last guy who did was soon askin' about his own name,” Zeta threatened, his lips pulling into a scowl.
“I take it you don't like other people?” Tashima suggested. Glancing over at Havoc, he saw that the Typhlosion had pulled himself back to his feet, although with the collar still on and active there seemed to be a slight sag to the way he stood. <I hate to ask this of you now, but be ready to fight if need be,> Tashima quickly told him. <You still have claws and your physical strength.>
“I like to mind to my own business,” Zeta nodded slightly at Tashima's question. “Unfortunately, the only people who offered to take me in like to use me for shit like this.”
Take him in? Man, he could just take whatever he wants, I don't think most would try to fight back... “And that shit would be...?” Tashima began, hoping he would finish.
“I was told to find you two and bring you back with me,” Zeta answered. “The people I live with are interested in you, and feel that your goals may be the same as theirs.”
“So we've been being spied on?” Tashima narrowed his eyes; whoever these people were they sounded suspicious.
“Not by them. By CYPHER, yes. They've merely been following CYPHER's reports on you two. CYPHER may not be pleased, but we—or rather, they—are. I don't give a damn and just want to get back. If you're not willing to cooperate I'll drag you in.”
Tashima remained silent, glancing at Havoc. Feebly he was pulling at the collar again, trying to get it off but without any luck. “That's not going to work...” he sighed. Kneeling down next to Havoc, Tashima pulled up the left sleeve of his trench coat to expose his interface connectors. While they didn't have the standard back of the neck positioning, Tashima having wanted to keep his appearance as normal as possible, they were still fully compatible with normal interfaces Pulling one of the cables out, he pushed it into a port on the suppression collar. “Hmm...tough security...” he mumbled, sifting through the collar's arrays of protective code, working on breaking through each barrier in his way one by one.
Zeta crossed his arms, frustrated at Tashima's refusal to cooperate. Studying the downtrodden Typhlosion, he came to the conclusion that there was some merit to Tashima trying to get the collar off first. He doubted that the Typhlosion called Havoc would be in a mood to do much of anything while in such a state. He had seen Pokémon under the effects of the suppression collars before, in every case the Pokémon exhibiting similar distraught. While the collars didn't do anything other than suppress the energy used by Pokémon for their special abilities, even this seemed to have an almost sedative-like effect. Havoc was no different, however the ferociousness he exhibited in trying to force the collar off even while Tashima worked was rather more violent than in most cases.
“What the...” Tashima suddenly gasped. Before he could react any other way, he fell on his back as the cable connecting him and the collar was suddenly and forcibly ejected from his arm. Pulling himself back up, he shook his head before explaining what had happened. “The very last barrier in there, they've got some kind of fail-safe to prevent tampering. Any connection, and I mean any, that does not immediately supply an authorization code is counter hacked. If my own fail-safes hadn't disconnected me when the collar first tried connecting to my own systems, well...”
“You'd be in a cybernetic coma,” Zeta finished.
“Right. Even if my organic brain would be unaffected, my cyberbrain would be locked up and leave me unresponsive...” Tashima rubbed his arm as he stood up, yanking the cable out of the collar and plugging it back into the port on his arm. Automatically the cable retracted, winding up his sleeve which he let fall down again. “Forcing the code would take forever as I'd only get one shot every time.” Tashima looked over at the ruins of the two police drones that had attempted to arrest them, shaking his head. “And I can't try retrieving it from them with how much damage you did.”
Zeta shrugged, merely replying with, “Sorry.”
“Sorry, but I think that collar's staying on for now,” Tashima raised an eyebrow as he told Havoc the bad news, wondering if he was even paying attention.
Havoc gave up fighting the collar again finally and pressed the claws on one of his paws against his forehead, another human gesture he had picked up. <...I guess if you can't get it off there's not much hope...>
Tashima rubbed the back of his neck nervously. “Now, don't say that. It's just a matter of finding the right code. That code has to exist somewhere else besides in the ruins of that drone's memory banks, and I'm sure we'll find it in time.”
“Hey, look,” Zeta suddenly spoke up, the tone of his voice actually softening. “There's this guy that's with us, this techie. He's hardcore, if anyone can get that thing off it'd be him. If you come with us, I'm sure he'd give a shot at it.”
Tashima raised an eyebrow again. “That good? Look, I'm not the best but the only people good enough to get through a barrier like that would be the people who designed it.”
“Perhaps he did,” Zeta shrugged. “He's ex-CYPHER. Supposedly he worked with security, doing what though is his secret alone.”
“Seriously?” Tashima asked, skeptical of it.
“Seriously. Although don't tell anyone I told you that, or else the boss will get mad,” Zeta said.
“Then why did you tell me?” Tashima asked.
“Because I get the feeling you're going to come with me, in which case it'll be okay for you to know,” Zeta explained.
“And you figure that why...?” Tashima was getting more than a little annoyed.
“Because it seems those police drones have been broadcasting an emergency signal and several squads of backup are on the way, which you'll stand no chance against.”
“Muk!” Tashima yelled as he flipped the switch on his gun forward, the pistol expanding into its submachine gun mode. Tapping into whatever sensors he could find regardless of the security consequences, he expanded his detection range far beyond its normal limit. Sure enough he found what Zeta was claiming: around ten or so more police drones heading right toward them.
“This time, I won't help you,” Zeta declared. “Come with me though, and you'll be safe.”
Before Tashima could even decide, Havoc had already made up his mind. <I'm going,> he said, his hands curling into fists. Baring his fangs and growling, he added, <I wouldn't mind having to fight off a few of those bastards, though.>
“Seriously? You don't care about how shady this is?” Tashima asked incredulously.
<Well where else do you plan to go? Your friends may be able to hide us, but they couldn't really help us do anything. If these people are like what this guy says they are, especially if even one of them also used to work for CYPHER just like us, then perhaps with them we have some hope of achieving something. I thought that was the whole reason for all of this?>
Havoc certainly seemed to be getting over his initial reaction to the collar. He was right as usual, even if Tashima didn't want to admit it this time. While Tashima wasn't quite ready to trust Zeta's claim that they had the same goals just yet, meeting an ex-CYPHER security technician was certainly promising. Someone like that, perhaps more than anyone else, would be able to work out what was up with the TRINITY cybernetics within Havoc. Still though, he had to be cautious... <And if it's a trap?> he asked privately, not wanting Zeta to hear.
Regardless, Zeta answered anyway. “Then I would have shot you both dead already.”
Tashima cringed. “You intercepted our communications?”
Zeta again merely shrugged, and again responded only with, “Sorry.”
“You realize how creepy that is...?” Tashima sighed. “Fine, I'll go too. Now, lead the way.”
Zeta nodded, turning around and nodding to a door on the other end of the lobby. “We need to hurry. More of those police drones will be all over this place within minutes.”
Tashima gave a small pat on Havoc's shoulder as Zeta began running away without waiting for the two to follow. “Think you can walk? I'm pretty sure those collars shouldn't restrict that.”
<Yeah, although you're sure you don't want to hang around so we get the chance for a little payback?> he responded.
“I'm not going to help you again if you lag behind,” Zeta spoke up, already across the lobby and standing in the door that would lead them to their new destination.
“I'm sure you'll get that chance later,” Tashima told Havoc, ignoring Zeta. “For now, let's just go.”
End of Chapter 4
Well, there you have it. The first chapter getting into the actual story which I've been wanting to write for a while now. Specifically, the scene with Zeta is one of the first scenes I thought of when I decided to start this story. It changed some from them of course; notably, I had originally planned for him to have cut through a wall using a plasma cutter while Tashima and Havoc held off waves of drones. Deciding that it was highly unrealistic that they'd be able to fight them off when they couldn't bring themselves to fight against just two, the idea was dropped and all the hours I spent theorizing the mechanics of his plasma cutter went to waste. Oh well, it will probably be introduced later. Speaking of mechanics, you wouldn't believe how much time I've spent thinking over how Zeta's cybernetics work... I could go into a long rant here about how much trouble I had with him but I'll refrain from that for everyone else's sake.
Anyways, lots and lots and lots of action here. Good god... It's not quite as much as some TFC chapters, but still... On the bright side, all three characters get to have their own chance to be badasses, starting with Havoc (can anyone say Havoc Punch?), moving onto Tashima, and then ending with Zeta. Despite such a high level of action I think I handled it fairly well, with the biggest problem to me being that some scenes toward the middle are a bit rushed. Since those all take place during a high-speed flying car chase, I guess it can be excused though?
Now, some of you may be thinking that I rushed it a bit in getting them out of CYPHER. You may be thinking “well Shrike, don't you think it would have made more sense for them to have had another few nights there at least while CYPHER worked out who they were?” However, keep in mind that at least in regards to CYPHER knowing who did it at all, there was that cloaked thing following them ever since they left the tower in the prologue. And you may be wondering as to why, but if I were to say that now it would be a spoiler, so sorry. Basically, this all is just my way of getting them the hell out of that place. At first I wasn't sure where I wanted the majority of the story to take place, inside the dome or out, however as I wrote I came to realize that here was only so much I could do inside. To progress the story to the scale I'm planning (take a look at the Waves side-story for a hint) I had to get them out. Plus, I was just sort of sick of that place. Not being able to think of any better terms than Tower and Dome has bugged me forever, and now that they're out I can just refer to the entire construct as CYPHER headquarters or even just CYPHER and be done with it.
And on that note, speaking of terminology, you may have noticed a few subtle changes in this chapter. The computer setup used to connect to the Cybernet is now a Cybernet deck, hacking past security now involves breaking through barriers, what used to be gravity dampeners are now gravitic dampeners, the aerocar is now controlled by a yoke instead of a stick (far more civilian friendly), brainwave communicators are now simply referred to as communicators or such (in part due to what a crap name that was. I have no idea where I got it from as the whole communicator thing has nothing to do with brainwaves), and so on. Basically, I've been working to smooth out some details of the world that were a bit rough to me before either because they were underdeveloped or simply lacked style.
Really, a lot of this chapter was me working my way out of how badly developed some things had been before, which is especially noticeable in the beginning of the chapter and which I even nodded at in the dialogue somewhat. You should all be pleased to hear that I have the next at least three chapters fully planned out, with a general plot flow that goes through several chapters decided upon. We're in the area now where I have a clear idea of where the story is going, so hopefully no more of the development problems I had in the past with the rough start should carry on.
So yeah, next chapter will be fun with introducing three new character and further developing Zeta, all while cooling off from this one. Undoubtedly, though, it will end up taking months
Very interesting the plot twists you have here. Some of your Gadgets seem too handy like the mutiuse gun, but maybe that's just me. Either way, Can't wait till next chapter.
I really need a new signature.
Yeah, some of the devices are a bit overpowered but will be toned down very soon. The cloaking field likely won't be making an appearance for a while due to most of the action from here on out either taking place on foot or in spaceships, while the VFEMRP will soon also encounter difficulties with better armor and kinetic shielding. While the former can be matched with AP rounds (which Tashima doesn't have...), you'll see that shields can be a bit harder to break through.
But anyways, thanks for reading! With my commitment to writing everyday now, hopefully I'll get through TFC chapter 5 soon enough so that TRINITY chapter 5 won't take so long...
Just my idea. =/
I really need a new signature.
Hacking is actually something that's in for an overhaul too, which I started doing in the final scene of that chapter. Since so much of the world is already based off Ghost in the Shell I decided "hey, why not go with the more Hollywood-style hacking they use!" Sans the overly fancy graphical representations and effects, of course.
From here on out, it's likely Tashima won't have a program for everything for the sheer reason that he's going to be in unfamiliar territory from here on out. Everything so far has been his plan and so he's been able to prepare exactly as needed, but as you'll see in the next chapter he won't be in so much control anymore. As for the programs already used, keep in mind that they were specifically designed for use with CYPHER's computers, and now that they've taken action it can be assumed they've fixed whatever security holes he had been using, so they'll largely be useless now.
Anyways, I do understand what all you mean by everything being streamlined and convenient. I'm still working on settling into this world and plot, which led me to perhaps make some bad decisions. Now that I'm starting to get the hang of everything, you should start to see some changes along the lines of what you're suggesting appearing soon.
And your fic is really cool. Even though my head seems to have been partially detatched from my shoulders while I read it. I can't wait for more!