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Cryopod Refresh 240: Commander Phoebe's Strategy

Phoebe Hiro, now the Head Commander of the Anti-Demon Resistance, paces back and forth in front of six hand-picked leaders of the various warfronts. Her guests sit on rocks set in the middle of the field not far behind the warp-gate encampment's western wall, while all of them face her and listen intently to what she has to say. Their names and ranks become unimportant as she looks at them with the eyes of a hawk. To the Hero's Wife, these people are merely weapons she must carefully wield in defense of humanity and its monster allies.
In the front row sits General Chadwick, Princess Brunhilda, and Corporal Hurent, along with Blinker, the monster queen. Behind them sits Lieutenant Samuel and Elder Skarde.
General Chadwick, Neil's number one. A black-haired Norwegian with a thick, three-inch-long beard. He wears a long, thin black coat, one designed to allow the air to cool him during the summertime, while his navy-blue military uniform underneath gives him a commanding presence. Chadwick's six-plus-foot height, in addition to his giant muscles and rotund belly, makes him stand out among all the others present. In social situations, he is the one who defeats his drinking opponents, while in grave situations, he is the strong and silent type.
Brunhilda, the Felorian princess. A chocolate-skinned, well-proportioned warrior with long white hair and countless white tattoos across her face and body. She wears only an animal-skin bra and loincloth, revealing her muscled abs and arms. As a tribeswoman, her domineering attitude comes not from stuck-up haughtiness, but from two decades of careful grooming by her parents, the former King and Queen of planet Feloria. Having bowed and acquiesced to the demons her whole life, she now sits and faces the Hero's Wife with a grave expression, knowing she may soon perish in battle while protecting her planet's tribes. At the least, she may enable a new future for her people, one where they no longer cower at the feet of their demonic oppressors.
Corporal Hurent, a decorated veteran with several military accomplishments. Her black hair sits in a ponytail, draped over her left shoulder, while Blinker sits on her right. Combined with her smooth, olive-green military uniform, and lightly bronzed white skin, she appears almost like a shorter, more tomboyish version of General Chadwick. Not bothering with makeup, she has a 'harder' edge to her appearance than Phoebe or Brunhilda, yet her eyes reveal she longs for the war to end. Battle is not in her nature, but merely her current call to action.
Blinker, the Monster Queen. She wears a tiny little set of cream-colored battle armor, crafted in advance by her mother two years prior. Her bright red hair contrasts with the white armor to give her the appearance of a cute little Valkyrie. When combined with her moth-like wings, the trifecta completes itself, making her resemble a battle-angel. Blinker sits on Corporal Hurent's right shoulder, the two of them somewhat close thanks to their interactions over the past few years.
Lieutenant Samuel, a hard-nosed man with a violent past. The ebony-skinned soldier sports several dreadlocks and a mean scar going across his forehead. He rests his elbows on his legs and leans forward, a look of intense concentration on his face. Combined with his camouflage-fatigues, he looks ready to step into the jungle and disappear amongst its foliage. Few of the leaders gathered have anywhere near the same intense look in their eyes, a testament to how much he hates the demons and what they've taken from him.
Finally, Elder Skarde, one of several tribal elders from the planet Locklorn. As their designated envoy, Skarde speaks for all the people of his world. His skin appears the darkest of all, giving him a rich, coal-colored hue capable of blending in with the night. Skarde's carefully maintained, short-cropped hair combines with his purple and gold robes to give him the air of a merchant king, one with money flowing like rivers. A peaceful man, Elder Skarde nevertheless sets aside his misgivings for the sake of his world. While he might prefer seeking peace with the demons and forgiving their transgressions, he likewise would never consider rolling over and letting them destroy his extended family. He draws a hard line in the sand, one he will never let the demons cross.
With all six of the most important leaders assembled before Phoebe, the recently promoted Tarus II Commander begins pacing back and forth.
"Thank you all for coming. I'd like to have gathered more people, but it's probably best if you simply relay today's briefings to the relevant subordinates. We don't have much time to waste, so I'll get right down to business."
Phoebe shoots a glance at the walls of the warp-gate encampment, listening for a moment to hear if any battles have broken out due to the warp-gate's unexpected opening. Luckily, everything remains quiet and calm.
"I don't know how long we have before the demons clear out the Core, but I do know they will, eventually," Phoebe begins, as she returns her attention to those assembled. "The question afterward is how long we have until the demons get the warp-gates back online."
Corporal Hurent raises her hand. "Commander, one thing has been bothering me. We destroyed the computers which control the Core's warp-gates. How can the demons reactivate them? Without the Core's server infrastructure, won't it be impossible for the demons to calculate Tarus II's travel vectors?"
The Corporal's question, prodding at the very nature of warp-gate travel, elicits several nods from the other leaders. After all, from what they understand, calculating the relative position of a planet in the vastness of space, its orbital position, its current facing, and the exact position of the warp-gate on said planet should be impossible without a vast amount of computing power to assist.
However, to the assembled leaders' surprise, Phoebe shakes her head. "Our opponent is no ordinary demoness. She is Ose, the Emperor of Infiltration, and the creator of warp-gate technology. Co-creator, technically, but a distinction which matters little in this context. I've spoken with Samantha on several occasions regarding Ose, and everything she's had to say about our enemy's abilities left me feeling shaken and worried. Ose's brain functions on a level far beyond ours, with unmuddled thoughts capable of computing information thousands of times more quickly than anyone else. She is, essentially, a living bio-computer."
Continuing, Phoebe adds, "Further, my husband once used Solomon's Crown to calculate the jump-vectors from Tarus II's warp-gate back to the Core. Kar watched him do it. If Jason can perform such a feat, I imagine the creator of warp-gate technology can do so as well."
The Commander's words end that line of questioning by the other generals. They fall silent and listen as Phoebe continues with her original train of thought.
Phoebe clears her throat. "Ahem. The battle for the Core was over far faster than anyone, especially Neil, first thought possible. Our enemies caught us off-guard with their new, armored soldiers. It seems likely they won't have any more of those terrifying Baron-level bastards available to hit us with, but we should naturally prepare for them. In the meantime, shifting to open terrain instead of the enclosed corridors of the Core will benefit humanity's forces greatly. Our weapons work best when engaging our enemies from a distance. The further they have to travel, the more time we have to kill them before they close the gap."
After pausing for a moment to rifle through her bag, Phoebe pulls out a tiny dime-sized device and presses it against the side of her head, just above her right ear. A small red LED on its side blinks twice once attached, then turns off. Afterward, she pulls out a baseball-shaped mechanical object, then lightly tosses it into the air. Elder Skarde and Brunhilda both reflexively flinch when the device doesn't fall to the ground, but instead stops in midair and hovers next to Phoebe.
"This is my Hovering Personal Assistant. I call him 'Happy.' Happy helps me with all sorts of things, but today, he'll be helping all of you to understand my thoughts."
Phoebe concentrates for a moment. She transmits images from her brain through the device stuck to her head and into Happy. In turn, the hovering metal baseball bobs in the air for a moment before beaming out a projected image of Tarus II's landscape, primarily the 20-mile range around and between Hero City and the warp-gate encampment.
The other leaders watch in fascinated silence as Phoebe points toward a small mountain range just over a mile north of the warpgate encampment. "This location is known as the Sphinx Mountain Range, and is going to be a critically important asset we must protect once the demons invade. How many of you have visited it before?"
Elder Skarde and Samuel both shake their heads. General Chadwick, Corporal Hurent, and Blinker all offer hesitant nods, while Brunhilda's are the most emphatic of all. Upon noticing the recognition in the Felorian Princess's eyes, Phoebe smiles. "Brunhilda, what makes you so familiar with that region?"
"I enjoy climbing mountains to gaze at the world from their vistas," Brunhilda replies. "Since that region offers a breathtaking view of the distant ocean, I have scaled it numerous times."
Phoebe's smile stretches further. "Did you ever happen to notice the artillery battlement I built there?"
A look of surprise appears on Brunhilda's face. The Felorian Princess scratches her head sheepishly. "Ah, no? What do you mean, Commander Hiro?"
"Three years ago, Jason and I worked together to build several fortifications for Tarus II. One of those happened to be a network of long range auto-cannon installations in the Sphinx Mountain Range. Observe."
Phoebe's robo-assistant, Happy, releases a cute high-pitched chirp. "Beep-boop!"
Immediately, a second hologram appears, one of a gigantic gun more than a hundred feet tall, with three cannon barrels aimed diagonally into the sky. The whole thing rests upon a square turret base, with rotatable joints and motors allowing it to adjust its firing angle and distance. The menacing weapon makes all of the leaders gathered raise their eyebrows in surprise.
"Wow!" Blinker gasps. "Phoebe, you built that thing? It's huge!"
Chadwick stands up and walks closer to more carefully scrutinize the artillery cannon. "Very impressive. Why have I heard nothing about this?"
"Because it's one of my many secret weapons," Phoebe says, a tricky smile playing upon her lips. "I call it a King Cannon. We've always worried about demonic spies in our ranks. Bad actors among our fellow humans and monsters might also be an issue, too. I built these cannons in absolute secrecy, telling only Jason and Solomon. Not even Samantha knows of their existence."
Elder Skarde snorts. "Just as well."
"Samantha will never betray humanity," Phoebe snaps, glaring viciously at the elder. "Don't think I've forgotten some of the hurtful things you said. I'd advise you to keep your mouth shut about her if you don't want my foot shoved where the sun doesn't shine."
Chadwick remains silent. As one of Neil's closest confidantes, he too has no trust for the succubus. Still, he knows better than to disparage her in front of Phoebe, especially given the circumstances.
"Ahem," Lieutenant Samuel clears his throat. "If I may. You mentioned cannons, plural. How many of these have you built?"
Phoebe turns away from Skarde to look at Samuel behind him. "Ten. They function by firing shells over long distances which explode shortly before striking the ground. These explosions release hundreds of iron rods, each one capable of stabbing through even the heaviest armor. No demon will be able to withstand a shelling from the King Cannons. I have several other types of ammunition present as well, including explosive munitions, poison gas, and acid for melting flesh. Needless to say, we must ensure our troops don't get caught in the crossfire."
"And," Phoebe adds, "that is one of the biggest problems we face. The King Cannons are explosively powerful and more than capable of turning tens of thousands of demons into puddles of blood. However, they lack precision. They're a double-edged sword capable of harming our soldiers. I plan to use them only if our troops fail to prevent the demons' advance from the warp-gate. That's why I will now move on to the next strategic point."
Commander Hiro disables the hologram for the King Cannon while Chadwick takes his seat. She returns to the original hologram, the one showing Tarus II's topography.
"On the north side of Hero City we have ten Covenant ships to protect. On the south side are the Pyramids. On the east, we have a mixture of forested woodlands and some hilly terrain. Between Hero City and the Warp-gate Encampment, we have the Horned Forest, with all manner of vicious predators hiding amongst its trees, and the vast open plains where we will most likely engage with demonkind if they take over the encampment. Looking at the encampment itself, we have the King Cannons to the north, Tarus II's great ocean to the west, and finally the southern side."
Phoebe clears her throat. "Here, we run into another problem. Some of you may not be familiar with the southern region, as we rarely go there. It's filled with canyons and ravines deep enough to kill anyone if they should stumble inside. The deepest one reaches half a mile into the planet's crust, so, needless to say, not many people go there. However, it is also home to another of my secret facilities."
"Another?" Corporal Hurent asks, her jaw turning slack. "Just how many facilities have you built?"
Phoebe's smile dims. "Too many to handle on my own, but not enough to guarantee our safety."
That reply makes the Corporal close her mouth and nod along silently. Phoebe continues by activating another hologram, this time showing a massive network of buildings carved into the side of a ravine. The facility stretches far enough into the distance that it goes past the edge of the hologram where nobody can see its end.
"By the Creator..." Lieutenant Samuel mutters. "You've been holding out on us."
"Indeed. This facility is one I haven't even told Jason about. I built it by myself."
Phoebe's casual attitude stuns everyone present. Blinker jumps off Corporal Hurent's shoulder and flies over to Phoebe. "What?! How could you build all that by yourself? That's impossible!"
While the fairy buzzes around the hologram with wide-open eyes, Phoebe chuckles. "Believe me, I did. Don't you remember six years ago, when Jason used to build houses and apartments for people with his Wordsmithing? I created a tool that could synthesize simple square structures out of energy, one which could project and build walls, ceilings, and floors. I built this facility with an upgraded version of that device."
A huge, giddy smile spreads across Chadwick's face. "Absolutely amazing. I never imagined we had a facility like this at our disposal, nor that you would be its sole builder. What is its function, Commander Hiro? Why did you build it in such an out-of-the-way location?"
"It's not out-of-the-way at all," Phoebe clarifies. "This facility's purpose is to create war-machines capable of leveling battlefields, and so I needed it somewhere close where I could send them barreling toward the front lines within minutes. That Planet-Walker I demonstrated earlier came from here, as well as many similar machines. I wanted to ensure we had extremely powerful trump cards prepared, should the demons ever invade. Secrecy was even more important, as I couldn't chance the demons learning of their existence."
Corporal Hurent raises her hand. "Hold on a moment. Regarding not only this robot-creation-facility, but also the King Cannons, how can we train enough people to pilot and control your machines? Those cannons look like they will require countless soldiers to aim and fire them, while the robots you've constructed will doubtless require intense training to use them to their fullest capacity. Have you trained anyone in secret as pilots? Or, perhaps... might these machines be fully autonomous?"
"Neither," Phoebe replies. "The Planet-walkers and other mecha are, indeed, autonomous, but I will require pilots inside them for target designation purposes. Each robot is capable of basic decision-making, but a human in the cockpit is our surest bet for strategically taking out demons wherever they appear. As for the King Cannons, the situation is similar. I will require a few personnel to man them for the sake of designating targets, but their roles will be minor. A bigger issue comes from fuel and munition supplies, which is the next thing I'd like to mention."
Phoebe waves away the southern facility's hologram, returning to the topographical Tarus II map.
"Look here. The King Cannons are immensely powerful, but they are also fragile. Once the demons figure out the cannons' location, if they choose to attack them, they can easily destroy them. I've protected the King Cannons, as well as my southern facility, with holographic obfuscation technology. Even up close, it's nearly impossible to locate the cannons, but every time they fire, the stealth net will go down for a moment, revealing their position. This will make it easy for the demons to find and destroy them."
Blinker nods. "Like Ose's mansion."
"Additionally," Phoebe continues, "the King Cannons have limited ammunition available. I always envisioned them as being supplementary to Jason and Hope's power, giving us a powerful area-attack, but with the Wordsmiths missing, they will end up being our primary suppression device against the demons. If so, then we'll need to establish munition supply lines to keep them continuously firing at all times. The supply line will come from the east side of Hero City up along the northern border until it reaches the Horned Forest. From there, it will continue until it reaches the Sphinx Mountain Range, where the personnel we place can take the shells and reload the King Cannons. At any point, demons might disrupt this supply line, thus rendering the cannons useless. Without ammunition, they will be little more than giant, decorative statues atop the mountains."
Brunhilda pipes up. "So, you wish for me to take control of protecting the King Cannons?"
"That's right. While the number of personnel required to operate the King Cannons is minimal, we will need a substantial number of troops available to guard the mountains themselves from demonic attacks. Think you're up to the task?"
"Naturally," Brunhilda replies.
Phoebe nods. "Good. I have some positive news to report as well, which you all will doubtless find comforting."
She touches the hologram and draws a circle around the warp-gate encampment. "I came up with a temporary fix for the burrower problem. I didn't want them to easily breach our lines by burrowing under us, so I cobbled together a few experimental devices. I call them 'seismic mines.' They detonate when they detect seismic activity nearby. If the Burrowers try to dig a tunnel near a seismic mine, they will perish a quick, explosive death."
Blinker lands on Phoebe's shoulder. "When the heck did you make those?"
"Today," Phoebe says. "Took me about eight hours. I only synthesized a couple hundred of them, and I attached them to mechanical moles to ensure they end up deep beneath our feet. However, given my limited amount of time, I only managed to surround the warp-gate encampment with them, as well as place a few beneath Hero City. Once a few Burrowers explode, they'll doubtless be able to continue forward, unabated. Luckily, the sensors will still give me an idea of where they're headed."
"You think of everything." Brunhilda says, admiration in her eyes.
"I wish that were the case. I'm only human, so I can't anticipate a demon's thought processes. Doubtless, Ose is sure to find a gap in our defenses. Don't get starry-eyed on me, not unless we actually survive this awful war."
Once again, Phoebe points at the holographic map. "Look over here, to the west of the encampment. There are thirty-seven miles of unprotected land between here and the ocean. If the demons escape in that direction, they'll be able to spread out and go around our borders, as I haven't built any defenses in that area. The King Cannons can certainly fire that far, but their accuracy and coverage will decrease substantially. Lieutenant Samuel, I'll rely on you to keep an eye on the western and southern sides of the encampment, while Princess Brunhilda will be in charge of guarding the Sphinx Mountains to the north. We cannot let the demons stake out a safe haven to the west. If they do, they'll likely summon countless portals to the Labyrinth, removing our chokepoint advantage. We have to keep them pinned down at the Tarus II warp-gate, or else they will rapidly overwhelm us with numbers."
Samuel nods. "As long as I get to kill bloodskins, you can count me in."
Phoebe frowns. "Demons, Lieutenant. Demons. Enough with the god-damned slurs."
"I don't care if you like my language or not," Samuel says, his face emotionless. "Bloodskins killed my brother. They butchered him like livestock. Don't preach to me that compassion nonsense. In my eyes, they're all filthy animals in need of extermination."
"Demons tortured my people for countless generations," Elder Skarde chimes in. "We have known nothing but fear and subservience to the bloodskins my whole life. Commander Phoebe, you may feel some twinge of compassion for the murderous wretches, but we do not. We only fight the bastards because of the horrors they've exacted upon us. If you want our help, then you will find a way to deal with our feelings."
After seeing the other two leaders stand up for their beliefs, Chadwick adds his two cents. "With all due respect, Commander, how many demons do you know who are righteous and pure? One? Ten? A hundred? You may have the utmost faith in Belial and others like her, but we do not. I have fought alongside Neil and Hope countless times when rescuing human slaves from the core. Some of the things I saw..."
The General starts to fall silent, only to notice a look of curiosity in the faces of Elder Skarde and Princess Brunhilda, both of whom have never stepped foot in the Labyrinth except for its Core.
"I saw a young man who was half-dead," Chadwick mutters, his voice low. "the poor kid had all the skin on his back melted and fused together. His bloodskin tormentor pressed him against a wall after burning him, then left him there, with his skin stuck to the stone. When Hope found him, the boy was half-dead and delirious with pain. It took Hope fifteen minutes of Wordsmithing to heal the boy's injuries. The lad later killed himself because of the lasting mental pain we couldn't erase."
General Chadwick glances at Phoebe, noticing with interest that for once, she doesn't appear angry at his words. "That boy was not the exception, but the rule. The bloodskins treat us worse than cattle, worse than bugs. They enjoy our suffering. I see no way we can ever truly cohabit with them. Perhaps you might be capable of picking out one or two decent ones, but the rest are all irredeemable, violent psychopaths. We must eradicate them for the good of the galaxy."
Despite a three-pronged verbal assault from Samuel, Elder Skarde, and Chadwick, Phoebe appears unmoved.
"Do you think I don't know all that?"
Commander Hiro tilts her chin up slightly, allowing her to look down upon the still-seated Chadwick.
"I'm well aware of the atrocities demons have committed. I am not Jason, and as such, I don't believe in trying to save all, or even most of them. My husband is a good man. He tries to look at demons as sinners, those who were led astray early in their history. They were born from bloodshed, and so that is all they know. Or so Jason claims."
Phoebe raises her hand and waggles a finger. "I do not think the same thoughts as Jason, General Chadwick. I do not believe demons are necessarily redeemable, but I do believe that they are not irredeemable. That is why I find myself disgusted when you refer to them with such gross, offensive slurs. Not because I think your hatred is misguided, but because as long as we treat them as inherently evil villains, we will never have even a chance to mend the rift between our species. Hate the demons and wish for their deaths all you want, for I will not stop you from thinking such thoughts. However, please understand that we humans must be better than our enemies. We must show them with our conduct that, so long as they own up to their actions and accept the appropriate punishment, we will always be willing to forgive, if not forget their pasts."
The Commander falls silent, allowing her words to germinate in the ears of those present. Blinker sits on her shoulder silently, saying nothing, while Brunhilda and Corporal Hurent stew in their own private thoughts.
General Chadwick rubs his knee contemplatively. "Hrm. I do not fully understand why you so often choose to defend the demons. Perhaps I never will. I merely wish you would not try to dissuade people from referring to the demons as 'bloodskins,' like they deserve."
"'Deserve' is a strong word, General," Phoebe retorts. "From what I've gathered, humanity stomped on the faces of the demons countless generations ago, and they retaliated in kind. Do we not deserve hatred from them as well?"
"That is a different situation entirely."
"So you claim," Phoebe snaps back. "But, if you so desperately wish to lump all the members of a sentient species under one definition, I suppose I cannot stop you. We haven't time to sit here and wax philosophical about our beliefs, so let's just hold off on the comebacks for today. If we survive this invasion, we'll return to this discussion at a later time."
Chadwick nods. "Very well."
Elder Skarde and Samuel both share a glance with one another, revealing neither of them plans to change their minds, but at the least, they fall silent to allow Phoebe's continued debriefing.
"Right. Let's finish this, then," Phoebe says. The Commander disables the Tarus II topographical map, and instead summons a series of images of various soldiers standing at attention, all of them wearing basic military uniforms with T-REX's strapped across their chests.
"I've finished doling out the new exosuit models I prepared in advance. Allow me to debrief you on their functionality."
The first trooper's image shimmers and shifts, adorning him in a shiny silver armor, one which all of the generals are familiar with.
"This is the basic T-REX, a mass-produced model with no obvious flaws that merely enhances the average human warrior's speed and durability to beyond that of a Demon Lord. It also helps with aim assist on projectile-based weapons, and features a low-level pilot-assistance mode capable of augmenting its wearer's dodging capabilities mid-battle. An excellent suit for any beginner, but one the demons have long grown used to seeing."
The next trooper also shifts his appearance, appearing in a silver-and-red exosuit with a few utility modules attached to its arms and waist. The red coloration extends in a cross-like shape across the trooper's chest.
"This is Mark I of the Clinician battlesuit. It has lower strength and speed than the basic T-REX, but in exchange, it features greater durability and advanced pilot assistance support. I designed it with our battlefield medics in mind. We can't rely on rescue devices to save all of our downed troops, so having field medics on hand will be essential to saving as many lives as possible. The Clinician also features several medical devices capable of prolonging a dying soldier's life, including nano-injectors to seal and repair wounds."
Corporal Hurent, one of the more technically-minded of the leaders present, nods appreciatively. "I'd have liked to have a few of those on hand when we fought in the Core."
"As would we all," Phoebe replies.
The Commander moves on to the third exosuit, one with an identical silver coloring scheme to the first exosuit, but with four 'struts' sticking out of its back.
"Previously, we've had to rely on Harpies for their excellent battlefield mobility and flight capabilities. Now, we have another option. The Mark I Hummer is our first flight-capable battlesuit, but I've only managed to manufacture fifty of them, so far. The wing struts on the back allow for limited durations of swift flight, but extended amounts of hovering capabilities. Think of them as mobile sniper platforms, rather than flying assault weapons."
"I can already imagine several uses for the Hummer," Chadwick says, his voice low.
Phoebe doesn't reply. She activates the next hologram, revealing a truly menacing-looking exosuit, one with gold and black coloration, a metal horn on its helmet, and two others on its shoulders. With much bulkier armor than the previous exosuits, as well as a long impaling rod sticking out above each wrist, it looks like a nasty melee-capable battlesuit.
Audible gasps go up among the leaders present, making Phoebe smile.
"This is the Mark I Rhino. Truly exclusive, I've only made twenty of them. Each is a precious asset, featuring fifty percent thicker armor than other exosuits and razor-sharp nanite rods for 'sticking it' to the demons. Advanced cooling capabilities also make it effectively immune to flame-based attacks from all but the most extreme sources. I designed them for frontline usage, improving the power of each of our best commandos. Naturally, I hope you'll be the first to try one out, Samuel."
Lieutenant Samuel grins evilly. "Oh, yes. I'll be able to do a lot of damage with one of those."
"I'm sure you will. Let's finish with the last two suits, both of which you should all be familiar."
This time, the holographic trooper shifts his appearance into a stealthy jet-black exosuit, one with the same sleek design as the basic exosuit model, but fewer 'cracks' it its surface. Most notably, four long, metallic 'tendrils' stick out of its back and writhe around like an ant's antennae.
Chadwick blinks in surprise. "A Spectre? We have hundreds of those already, don't we?"
"Correct. This Spectre is different, though, as it's a second generation exosuit. I'm sure all of you have noticed the odd-looking tendrils on its back. I call them 'Needlers,' and they will be key for maximizing the Mark II's improvements over the first generation. In addition to greatly improved passive stealth capabilities in shadow, the Mark II Spectre can initiate Level III cloaking at will, granting it five minutes of near-perfect stealth capabilities. Most importantly, it now features nearly infinite Level II stealth capabilities, meaning it can remain invisible indefinitely so long as the user keeps their movement to a minimum. It will be excellent for setting up ambushes."
"What function do the 'Needlers' perform?" Brunhilda asks. "They look like headless black snakes."
"More than you can imagine," Phoebe replies. "The Needlers allow the user to scale walls and cliffs, assassinate multiple enemies at once, manipulate tools, and countless other such feats. Think of them as four additional limbs, each one stronger and much more flexible than your arm. They can wrap around an enemy's neck to choke him out, or they can pick locks by deforming their shape... the possibilities are endless."
"Amazing as always, Miss Hiro," Chadwick says, bowing his head respectfully. "If we had these suits during the Core invasion, perhaps we could have defeated the demons instead of suffering such a terrible loss."
Phoebe purses her lips. "Not necessarily. The Spectre suits sacrifice durability and defensive capacity in exchange for speed and stealth. Their offensive-power is also sub-par, making them only good for assassination and espionage. In a giant arena like the Core, Spectre pilots would have perished the fastest."
"Ah. I'll defer to your expert opinion, then," Chadwick mutters, slightly embarrassed.
Phoebe clears her throat. This time, when the last trooper shifts his appearance, looks of surprise appear on Chadwick, Corporal Hurent, and Samuel's faces.
"Hm?" Samuel says. "Isn't that...?"
"Yes," Phoebe replies. "It's the suit Neil wore during the Core invasion: The Thundercat Mark II."
The final trooper hologram changes to reveal a bright blue, red, and golden exosuit, one with a bulky golden gauntlet on its left wrist. Three Wolverine-like blades stick out of the gauntlet, suitable for ripping and tearing, while the trooper also sports a vicious-looking nanosword in his right hand.
"Another Mark II," Chadwick marvels. "It's much flashier than the Mark I, particularly with its coloration. You must have given Neil one before the battle."
"His bodyguards too," Phoebe affirms. "Neil didn't get much time to learn its many functions, and sadly, neither will our troops. However, I'll tell you right now what to expect. The Transforming Exogauntlet on its left arm is a powerful utility item comparable to the Spectre's Needlers. It can become a hammer, a blade, a shield, or anything you need for the situation at hand. Merely describe a shape, and Centurion will attempt to replicate it."
Phoebe gestures toward the holographic trooper's right hand. "This nanosword is equally dangerous. When combined with the Thundercat's reinforced defensive capabilities, it will allow its pilot to fight on the front lines alongside our Rhino-wearing troopers. Since the Thundercat Mark II is a modification of the Mark I, we already have several thousand of them available, along with the new Spectres. I advise you to quickly debrief your troops about the additional functions of these new exosuits, as we won't have much time to train them in their various intricacies once the demons invade."
After taking a long, deep breath, Phoebe exhales.
"Alright. Let's wrap this up. Any questions?"
Chadwick runs his fingers through his beard. "Do you have anywhere you'd like to station us?"
"Ah! I almost forgot. Thank you for reminding me."
Phoebe re-engages the topographical map and points toward the southern side of Hero City.
"Over here, this area is part of the southern prison complex, where I've created a specialized Demon Containment Facility. We must ensure the demons don't locate Beelzebub and Artorias. Keep them locked up at all costs. Corporal Hurent, I'm putting you in charge of defending the prison."
The Corporal nods. "Yes, Commander. I'm already familiar with their layout, as I took our prisoners there earlier."
"Good. I'll need you to pull double-duty keeping an eye on Hero City's eastern flank, too. The south and east sides are among our most vulnerable, so if the demons break containment from the warp-gate, I want to know at once if they reach our flanks."
Phoebe turns her attention toward the others. "Princess Brunhilda. As stated before, you're in charge of protecting the King Cannons and their supply line. Samuel, you're in charge of guarding the southern and western side of the warp-gate encampment. Chadwick, I want you on command duty for the vast majority of our main forces, particularly between Hero City and the encampment. However, Elder Skarde, you may have the most complex job of all."
Elder Skarde frowns. "In what way?"
"You'll be our final defensive line. You will protect Hero City, especially the north side's Covenant ships. You must ensure Burrowers don't make it past our defensive lines, and that any Warpers get taken out before they can circle around to our flanks."
"I will do my best," Skarde replies.
Blinker hops off Phoebe's shoulder and flies around excitedly. "Ooh, ooh, what about me? What do I get to do?"
Phoebe smiles. "Are you fully healed?"
"Yeppers! Samantha got me all fixed up! Kar's still healing, though. I dunno when he'll be ready to return."
Phoebe's smile deepens. The memory of what Blinker told her before the debriefing, regarding Daisy, leaves butterflies in her stomach. However, for some reason, she keeps her mouth shut and doesn't mention it in front the other leaders.
"That's good. I'm glad we have Samantha at times like this. Well, even if Kar isn't back, I hope we can rely on you for support against the demons wherever they appear."
"Duh!" Blinker giggles. "I'll smush 'em flat! Those big red dummies won't know what hit 'em!"
Phoebe pokes Blinker's stomach playfully. Just watch yourself out there. If anything happened to you, it would devastate Kar."
Blinker rolls her eyes. "Psh. Don't you know who I am? I'm the Monster Queen. I'm strong as heck!"
Despite the fairy's tough words, Phoebe's eyes grow distant. "Yeah. But... be careful. Kar already lost one wife. I don't want to imagine what losing a second would do to him. I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you."
With one last, heavy sigh, Phoebe turns to the assembled leaders. "Alright, dismissed. Get out there and make Neil proud. If he's still alive, we'll mount a rescue operation once we survive this war."
Chadwick rises off his rock and raises an eyebrow. "You suddenly sound more confident than before."
Phoebe nods. "Neil always says a leader must look strong for his troops. I can only hope to live up to that ideal."
"As can we all. Words to live by," Chadwick mutters. With a nod of the head, he turns to leave. "I'll see you on the battlefield, Commander Hiro."
"Likewise," Phoebe replies.
The waning sun begins to fade behind clouds to the west, setting on the world of Tarus II and bringing the cover of darkness. As the humans disperse, with Blinker riding on Phoebe's shoulder, they all gaze at the setting sun with wistful eyes.
.......................................
Artwork time!
Basic T-REX.
Clinician T-REX.
Hummer T-REX.
Rhino T-REX.
Spectre T-REX.
Thundercat T-REX
This is Brunhilda!
submitted by Klokinator to TheCryopodToHell [link] [comments]

The Cryopod to Hell 240: Commander Phoebe's Strategy

Author note: The Cryopod to Hell is a Reddit-exclusive story with over three years of editing and refining. As of this post, the total rewrite is 1,012,000+ words long, and we are all caught up to the main sub on HFY! For more information, check out the link below:
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(Previous Part)
(Part 001)
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Phoebe Hiro, now the Head Commander of the Anti-Demon Resistance, paces back and forth in front of six hand-picked leaders of the various warfronts. Her guests sit on rocks set in the middle of the field not far behind the warp-gate encampment's western wall, while all of them face her and listen intently to what she has to say. Their names and ranks become unimportant as she looks at them with the eyes of a hawk. To the Hero's Wife, these people are merely weapons she must carefully wield in defense of humanity and its monster allies.
In the front row sits General Chadwick, Princess Brunhilda, and Corporal Hurent, along with Blinker, the monster queen. Behind them sits Lieutenant Samuel and Elder Skarde.
General Chadwick, Neil's number one. A black-haired Norwegian with a thick, three-inch-long beard. He wears a long, thin black coat, one designed to allow the air to cool him during the summertime, while his navy-blue military uniform underneath gives him a commanding presence. Chadwick's six-plus-foot height, in addition to his giant muscles and rotund belly, makes him stand out among all the others present. In social situations, he is the one who defeats his drinking opponents, while in grave situations, he is the strong and silent type.
Brunhilda, the Felorian princess. A chocolate-skinned, well-proportioned warrior with long white hair and countless white tattoos across her face and body. She wears only an animal-skin bra and loincloth, revealing her muscled abs and arms. As a tribeswoman, her domineering attitude comes not from stuck-up haughtiness, but from two decades of careful grooming by her parents, the former King and Queen of planet Feloria. Having bowed and acquiesced to the demons her whole life, she now sits and faces the Hero's Wife with a grave expression, knowing she may soon perish in battle while protecting her planet's tribes. At the least, she may enable a new future for her people, one where they no longer cower at the feet of their demonic oppressors.
Corporal Hurent, a decorated veteran with several military accomplishments. Her black hair sits in a ponytail, draped over her left shoulder, while Blinker sits on her right. Combined with her smooth, olive-green military uniform, and lightly bronzed white skin, she appears almost like a shorter, more tomboyish version of General Chadwick. Not bothering with makeup, she has a 'harder' edge to her appearance than Phoebe or Brunhilda, yet her eyes reveal she longs for the war to end. Battle is not in her nature, but merely her current call to action.
Blinker, the Monster Queen. She wears a tiny little set of cream-colored battle armor, crafted in advance by her mother two years prior. Her bright red hair contrasts with the white armor to give her the appearance of a cute little Valkyrie. When combined with her moth-like wings, the trifecta completes itself, making her resemble a battle-angel. Blinker sits on Corporal Hurent's right shoulder, the two of them somewhat close thanks to their interactions over the past few years.
Lieutenant Samuel, a hard-nosed man with a violent past. The ebony-skinned soldier sports several dreadlocks and a mean scar going across his forehead. He rests his elbows on his legs and leans forward, a look of intense concentration on his face. Combined with his camouflage-fatigues, he looks ready to step into the jungle and disappear amongst its foliage. Few of the leaders gathered have anywhere near the same intense look in their eyes, a testament to how much he hates the demons and what they've taken from him.
Finally, Elder Skarde, one of several tribal elders from the planet Locklorn. As their designated envoy, Skarde speaks for all the people of his world. His skin appears the darkest of all, giving him a rich, coal-colored hue capable of blending in with the night. Skarde's carefully maintained, short-cropped hair combines with his purple and gold robes to give him the air of a merchant king, one with money flowing like rivers. A peaceful man, Elder Skarde nevertheless sets aside his misgivings for the sake of his world. While he might prefer seeking peace with the demons and forgiving their transgressions, he likewise would never consider rolling over and letting them destroy his extended family. He draws a hard line in the sand, one he will never let the demons cross.
With all six of the most important leaders assembled before Phoebe, the recently promoted Tarus II Commander begins pacing back and forth.
"Thank you all for coming. I'd like to have gathered more people, but it's probably best if you simply relay today's briefings to the relevant subordinates. We don't have much time to waste, so I'll get right down to business."
Phoebe shoots a glance at the walls of the warp-gate encampment, listening for a moment to hear if any battles have broken out due to the warp-gate's unexpected opening. Luckily, everything remains quiet and calm.
"I don't know how long we have before the demons clear out the Core, but I do know they will, eventually," Phoebe begins, as she returns her attention to those assembled. "The question afterward is how long we have until the demons get the warp-gates back online."
Corporal Hurent raises her hand. "Commander, one thing has been bothering me. We destroyed the computers which control the Core's warp-gates. How can the demons reactivate them? Without the Core's server infrastructure, won't it be impossible for the demons to calculate Tarus II's travel vectors?"
The Corporal's question, prodding at the very nature of warp-gate travel, elicits several nods from the other leaders. After all, from what they understand, calculating the relative position of a planet in the vastness of space, its orbital position, its current facing, and the exact position of the warp-gate on said planet should be impossible without a vast amount of computing power to assist.
However, to the assembled leaders' surprise, Phoebe shakes her head. "Our opponent is no ordinary demoness. She is Ose, the Emperor of Infiltration, and the creator of warp-gate technology. Co-creator, technically, but a distinction which matters little in this context. I've spoken with Samantha on several occasions regarding Ose, and everything she's had to say about our enemy's abilities left me feeling shaken and worried. Ose's brain functions on a level far beyond ours, with unmuddled thoughts capable of computing information thousands of times more quickly than anyone else. She is, essentially, a living bio-computer."
Continuing, Phoebe adds, "Further, my husband once used Solomon's Crown to calculate the jump-vectors from Tarus II's warp-gate back to the Core. Kar watched him do it. If Jason can perform such a feat, I imagine the creator of warp-gate technology can do so as well."
The Commander's words end that line of questioning by the other generals. They fall silent and listen as Phoebe continues with her original train of thought.
Phoebe clears her throat. "Ahem. The battle for the Core was over far faster than anyone, especially Neil, first thought possible. Our enemies caught us off-guard with their new, armored soldiers. It seems likely they won't have any more of those terrifying Baron-level bastards available to hit us with, but we should naturally prepare for them. In the meantime, shifting to open terrain instead of the enclosed corridors of the Core will benefit humanity's forces greatly. Our weapons work best when engaging our enemies from a distance. The further they have to travel, the more time we have to kill them before they close the gap."
After pausing for a moment to rifle through her bag, Phoebe pulls out a tiny dime-sized device and presses it against the side of her head, just above her right ear. A small red LED on its side blinks twice once attached, then turns off. Afterward, she pulls out a baseball-shaped mechanical object, then lightly tosses it into the air. Elder Skarde and Brunhilda both reflexively flinch when the device doesn't fall to the ground, but instead stops in midair and hovers next to Phoebe.
"This is my Hovering Personal Assistant. I call him 'Happy.' Happy helps me with all sorts of things, but today, he'll be helping all of you to understand my thoughts."
Phoebe concentrates for a moment. She transmits images from her brain through the device stuck to her head and into Happy. In turn, the hovering metal baseball bobs in the air for a moment before beaming out a projected image of Tarus II's landscape, primarily the 20-mile range around and between Hero City and the warp-gate encampment.
The other leaders watch in fascinated silence as Phoebe points toward a small mountain range just over a mile north of the warpgate encampment. "This location is known as the Sphinx Mountain Range, and is going to be a critically important asset we must protect once the demons invade. How many of you have visited it before?"
Elder Skarde and Samuel both shake their heads. General Chadwick, Corporal Hurent, and Blinker all offer hesitant nods, while Brunhilda's are the most emphatic of all. Upon noticing the recognition in the Felorian Princess's eyes, Phoebe smiles. "Brunhilda, what makes you so familiar with that region?"
"I enjoy climbing mountains to gaze at the world from their vistas," Brunhilda replies. "Since that region offers a breathtaking view of the distant ocean, I have scaled it numerous times."
Phoebe's smile stretches further. "Did you ever happen to notice the artillery battlement I built there?"
A look of surprise appears on Brunhilda's face. The Felorian Princess scratches her head sheepishly. "Ah, no? What do you mean, Commander Hiro?"
"Three years ago, Jason and I worked together to build several fortifications for Tarus II. One of those happened to be a network of long range auto-cannon installations in the Sphinx Mountain Range. Observe."
Phoebe's robo-assistant, Happy, releases a cute high-pitched chirp. "Beep-boop!"
Immediately, a second hologram appears, one of a gigantic gun more than a hundred feet tall, with three cannon barrels aimed diagonally into the sky. The whole thing rests upon a square turret base, with rotatable joints and motors allowing it to adjust its firing angle and distance. The menacing weapon makes all of the leaders gathered raise their eyebrows in surprise.
"Wow!" Blinker gasps. "Phoebe, you built that thing? It's huge!"
Chadwick stands up and walks closer to more carefully scrutinize the artillery cannon. "Very impressive. Why have I heard nothing about this?"
"Because it's one of my many secret weapons," Phoebe says, a tricky smile playing upon her lips. "I call it a King Cannon. We've always worried about demonic spies in our ranks. Bad actors among our fellow humans and monsters might also be an issue, too. I built these cannons in absolute secrecy, telling only Jason and Solomon. Not even Samantha knows of their existence."
Elder Skarde snorts. "Just as well."
"Samantha will never betray humanity," Phoebe snaps, glaring viciously at the elder. "Don't think I've forgotten some of the hurtful things you said. I'd advise you to keep your mouth shut about her if you don't want my foot shoved where the sun doesn't shine."
Chadwick remains silent. As one of Neil's closest confidantes, he too has no trust for the succubus. Still, he knows better than to disparage her in front of Phoebe, especially given the circumstances.
"Ahem," Lieutenant Samuel clears his throat. "If I may. You mentioned cannons, plural. How many of these have you built?"
Phoebe turns away from Skarde to look at Samuel behind him. "Ten. They function by firing shells over long distances which explode shortly before striking the ground. These explosions release hundreds of iron rods, each one capable of stabbing through even the heaviest armor. No demon will be able to withstand a shelling from the King Cannons. I have several other types of ammunition present as well, including explosive munitions, poison gas, and acid for melting flesh. Needless to say, we must ensure our troops don't get caught in the crossfire."
"And," Phoebe adds, "that is one of the biggest problems we face. The King Cannons are explosively powerful and more than capable of turning tens of thousands of demons into puddles of blood. However, they lack precision. They're a double-edged sword capable of harming our soldiers. I plan to use them only if our troops fail to prevent the demons' advance from the warp-gate. That's why I will not move on to the next strategic point."
Commander Hiro disables the hologram for the King Cannon while Chadwick takes his seat. She returns to the original hologram, the one showing Tarus II's topography.
"On the north side of Hero City we have ten Covenant ships to protect. On the south side are the Pyramids. On the east, we have a mixture of forested woodlands and some hilly terrain. Between Hero City and the Warp-gate Encampment, we have the Horned Forest, with all manner of vicious predators hiding amongst its trees, and the vast open plains where we will most likely engage with demonkind if they take over the encampment. Looking at the encampment itself, we have the King Cannons to the north, Tarus II's great ocean to the west, and finally the southern side."
Phoebe clears her throat. "Here, we run into another problem. Some of you may not be familiar with the southern region, as we rarely go there. It's filled with canyons and ravines deep enough to kill anyone if they should stumble inside. The deepest one reaches half a mile into the planet's crust, so, needless to say, not many people go there. However, it is also home to another of my secret facilities."
"Another?" Corporal Hurent asks, her jaw turning slack. "Just how many facilities have you built?"
Phoebe's smile dims. "Too many to handle on my own, but not enough to guarantee our safety."
That reply makes the Corporal close her mouth and nod along silently. Phoebe continues by activating another hologram, this time showing a massive network of buildings carved into the side of a ravine. The facility stretches far enough into the distance that it goes past the edge of the hologram where nobody can see its end.
"By the Creator..." Lieutenant Samuel mutters. "You've been holding out on us."
"Indeed. This facility is one I haven't even told Jason about. I built it by myself."
Phoebe's casual attitude stuns everyone present. Blinker jumps off Corporal Hurent's shoulder and flies over to Phoebe. "What?! How could you build all that by yourself? That's impossible!"
While the fairy buzzes around the hologram with wide-open eyes, Phoebe chuckles. "Believe me, I did. Don't you remember six years ago, when Jason used to build houses and apartments for people with his Wordsmithing? I created a tool that could synthesize simple square structures out of energy, one which could project and build walls, ceilings, and floors. I built this facility with an upgraded version of that device."
A huge, giddy smile spreads across Chadwick's face. "Absolutely amazing. I never imagined we had a facility like this at our disposal, nor that you would be its sole builder. What is its function, Commander Hiro? Why did you build it in such an out-of-the-way location?"
"It's not out-of-the-way at all," Phoebe clarifies. "This facility's purpose is to create war-machines capable of leveling battlefields, and so I needed it somewhere close where I could send them barreling toward the front lines within minutes. That Planet-Walker I demonstrated earlier came from here, as well as many similar machines. I wanted to ensure we had extremely powerful trump cards prepared, should the demons ever invade. Secrecy was even more important, as I couldn't chance the demons learning of their existence."
Corporal Hurent raises her hand. "Hold on a moment. Regarding not only this robot-creation-facility, but also the King Cannons, how can we train enough people to pilot and control your machines? Those cannons look like they will require countless soldiers to aim and fire them, while the robots you've constructed will doubtless require intense training to use them to their fullest capacity. Have you trained anyone in secret as pilots? Or, perhaps... might these machines be fully autonomous?"
"Neither," Phoebe replies. "The Planet-walkers and other mecha are, indeed, autonomous, but I will require pilots inside them for target designation purposes. Each robot is capable of basic decision-making, but a human in the cockpit is our surest bet for strategically taking out demons wherever they appear. As for the King Cannons, the situation is similar. I will require a few personnel to man them for the sake of designating targets, but their roles will be minor. A bigger issue comes from fuel and munition supplies, which is the next thing I'd like to mention."
Phoebe waves away the southern facility's hologram, returning to the topographical Tarus II map.
"Look here. The King Cannons are immensely powerful, but they are also fragile. Once the demons figure out the cannons' location, if they choose to attack them, they can easily destroy them. I've protected the King Cannons, as well as my southern facility, with holographic obfuscation technology. Even up close, it's nearly impossible to locate the cannons, but every time they fire, the stealth net will go down for a moment, revealing their position. This will make it easy for the demons to find and destroy them."
Blinker nods. "Like Ose's mansion."
"Additionally," Phoebe continues, "the King Cannons have limited ammunition available. I always envisioned them as being supplementary to Jason and Hope's power, giving us a powerful area-attack, but with the Wordsmiths missing, they will end up being our primary suppression device against the demons. If so, then we'll need to establish munition supply lines to keep them continuously firing at all times. The supply line will come from the east side of Hero City up along the northern border until it reaches the Horned Forest. From there, it will continue until it reaches the Sphinx Mountain Range, where the personnel we place can take the shells and reload the King Cannons. At any point, demons might disrupt this supply line, thus rendering the cannons useless. Without ammunition, they will be little more than giant, decorative statues atop the mountains."
Brunhilda pipes up. "So, you wish for me to take control of protecting the King Cannons?"
"That's right. While the number of personnel required to operate the King Cannons is minimal, we will need a substantial number of troops available to guard the mountains themselves from demonic attacks. Think you're up to the task?"
"Naturally," Brunhilda replies.
Phoebe nods. "Good. I have some positive news to report as well, which you all will doubtless find comforting."
She touches the hologram and draws a circle around the warp-gate encampment. "I came up with a temporary fix for the burrower problem. I didn't want them to easily breach our lines by burrowing under us, so I cobbled together a few experimental devices. I call them 'seismic mines.' They detonate when they detect seismic activity nearby. If the Burrowers try to dig a tunnel near a seismic mine, they will perish a quick, explosive death."
Blinker lands on Phoebe's shoulder. "When the heck did you make those?"
"Today," Phoebe says. "Took me about eight hours. I only synthesized a couple hundred of them, and I attached them to mechanical moles to ensure they end up deep beneath our feet. However, given my limited amount of time, I only managed to surround the warp-gate encampment with them, as well as place a few beneath Hero City. Once a few Burrowers explode, they'll doubtless be able to continue forward, unabated. Luckily, the sensors will still give me an idea of where they're headed."
"You think of everything." Brunhilda says, admiration in her eyes.
"I wish that were the case. I'm only human, so I can't anticipate a demon's thought processes. Doubtless, Ose is sure to find a gap in our defenses. Don't get starry-eyed on me, not unless we actually survive this awful war."
Once again, Phoebe points at the holographic map. "Look over here, to the west of the encampment. There are thirty-seven miles of unprotected land between here and the ocean. If the demons escape in that direction, they'll be able to spread out and go around our borders, as I haven't built any defenses in that area. The King Cannons can certainly fire that far, but their accuracy and coverage will decrease substantially. Lieutenant Samuel, I'll rely on you to keep an eye on the western and southern sides of the encampment, while Princess Brunhilda will be in charge of guarding the Sphinx Mountains to the north. We cannot let the demons stake out a safe haven to the west. If they do, they'll likely summon countless portals to the Labyrinth, removing our chokepoint advantage. We have to keep them pinned down at the Tarus II warp-gate, or else they will rapidly overwhelm us with numbers."
Samuel nods. "As long as I get to kill bloodskins, you can count me in."
Phoebe frowns. "Demons, Lieutenant. Demons. Enough with the god-damned slurs."
"I don't care if you like my language or not," Samuel says, his face emotionless. "Bloodskins killed my brother. They butchered him like livestock. Don't preach to me that compassion nonsense. In my eyes, they're all filthy animals in need of extermination."
"Demons tortured my people for countless generations," Elder Skarde chimes in. "We have known nothing but fear and subservience to the bloodskins my whole life. Commander Phoebe, you may feel some twinge of compassion for the murderous wretches, but we do not. We only fight the bastards because of the horrors they've exacted upon us. If you want our help, then you will find a way to deal with our feelings."
After seeing the other two leaders stand up for their beliefs, Chadwick adds his two cents. "With all due respect, Commander, how many demons do you know who are righteous and pure? One? Ten? A hundred? You may have the utmost faith in Belial and others like her, but we do not. I have fought alongside Neil and Hope countless times when rescuing human slaves from the core. Some of the things I saw..."
The General starts to fall silent, only to notice a look of curiosity in the faces of Elder Skarde and Princess Brunhilda, both of whom have never stepped foot in the Labyrinth except for its Core.
"I saw a young man who was half-dead," Chadwick mutters, his voice low. "the poor kid had all the skin on his back melted and fused together. His bloodskin tormentor pressed him against a wall after burning him, then left him there, with his skin stuck to the stone. When Hope found him, the boy was half-dead and delirious with pain. It took Hope fifteen minutes of Wordsmithing to heal the boy's injuries. The lad later killed himself because of the lasting mental pain we couldn't erase."
General Chadwick glances at Phoebe, noticing with interest that for once, she doesn't appear angry at his words. "That boy was not the exception, but the rule. The bloodskins treat us worse than cattle, worse than bugs. They enjoy our suffering. I see no way we can ever truly cohabit with them. Perhaps you might be capable of picking out one or two decent ones, but the rest are all irredeemable, violent psychopaths. We must eradicate them for the good of the galaxy."
Despite a three-pronged verbal assault from Samuel, Elder Skarde, and Chadwick, Phoebe appears unmoved.
"Do you think I don't know all that?"
Commander Hiro tilts her chin up slightly, allowing her to look down upon the still-seated Chadwick.
"I'm well aware of the atrocities demons have committed. I am not Jason, and as such, I don't believe in trying to save all, or even most of them. My husband is a good man. He tries to look at demons as sinners, those who were led astray early in their history. They were born from bloodshed, and so that is all they know. Or so Jason claims."
Phoebe raises her hand and waggles a finger. "I do not think the same thoughts as Jason, General Chadwick. I do not believe demons are necessarily redeemable, but I do believe that they are not irredeemable. That is why I find myself disgusted when you refer to them with such gross, offensive slurs. Not because I think your hatred is misguided, but because as long as we treat them as inherently evil villains, we will never have even a chance to mend the rift between our species. Hate the demons and wish for their deaths all you want, for I will not stop you from thinking such thoughts. However, please understand that we humans must be better than our enemies. We must show them with our conduct that, so long as they own up to their actions and accept the appropriate punishment, we will always be willing to forgive, if not forget their pasts."
The Commander falls silent, allowing her words to germinate in the ears of those present. Blinker sits on her shoulder silently, saying nothing, while Brunhilda and Corporal Hurent stew in their own private thoughts.
General Chadwick rubs his knee contemplatively. "Hrm. I do not fully understand why you so often choose to defend the demons. Perhaps I never will. I merely wish you would not try to dissuade people from referring to the demons as 'bloodskins,' like they deserve."
"'Deserve' is a strong word, General," Phoebe retorts. "From what I've gathered, humanity stomped on the faces of the demons countless generations ago, and they retaliated in kind. Do we not deserve hatred from them as well?"
"That is a different situation entirely."
"So you claim," Phoebe snaps back. "But, if you so desperately wish to lump all the members of a sentient species under one definition, I suppose I cannot stop you. We haven't time to sit here and wax philosophical about our beliefs, so let's just hold off on the comebacks for today. If we survive this invasion, we'll return to this discussion at a later time."
Chadwick nods. "Very well."
Elder Skarde and Samuel both share a glance with one another, revealing neither of them plans to change their minds, but at the least, they fall silent to allow Phoebe's continued debriefing.
"Right. Let's finish this, then," Phoebe says. The Commander disables the Tarus II topographical map, and instead summons a series of images of various soldiers standing at attention, all of them wearing basic military uniforms with T-REX's strapped across their chests.
"I've finished doling out the new exosuit models I prepared in advance. Allow me to debrief you on their functionality."
The first trooper's image shimmers and shifts, adorning him in a shiny silver armor, one which all of the generals are familiar with.
"This is the basic T-REX, a mass-produced model with no obvious flaws that merely enhances the average human warrior's speed and durability to beyond that of a Demon Lord. It also helps with aim assist on projectile-based weapons, and features a low-level pilot-assistance mode capable of augmenting its wearer's dodging capabilities mid-battle. An excellent suit for any beginner, but one the demons have long grown used to seeing."
The next trooper also shifts his appearance, appearing in a silver-and-red exosuit with a few utility modules attached to its arms and waist. The red coloration extends in a cross-like shape across the trooper's chest.
"This is Mark I of the Clinician battlesuit. It has lower strength and speed than the basic T-REX, but in exchange, it features greater durability and advanced pilot assistance support. I designed it with our battlefield medics in mind. We can't rely on rescue devices to save all of our downed troops, so having field medics on hand will be essential to saving as many lives as possible. The Clinician also features several medical devices capable of prolonging a dying soldier's life, including nano-injectors to seal and repair wounds."
Corporal Hurent, one of the more technically-minded of the leaders present, nods appreciatively. "I'd have liked to have a few of those on hand when we fought in the Core."
"As would we all," Phoebe replies.
The Commander moves on to the third exosuit, one with an identical silver coloring scheme to the first exosuit, but with four 'struts' sticking out of its back.
"Previously, we've had to rely on Harpies for their excellent battlefield mobility and flight capabilities. Now, we have another option. The Mark I Hummer is our first flight-capable battlesuit, but I've only managed to manufacture fifty of them, so far. The wing struts on the back allow for limited durations of swift flight, but extended amounts of hovering capabilities. Think of them as mobile sniper platforms, rather than flying assault weapons."
"I can already imagine several uses for the Hummer," Chadwick says, his voice low.
Phoebe doesn't reply. She activates the next hologram, revealing a truly menacing-looking exosuit, one with gold and black coloration, a metal horn on its helmet, and two others on its shoulders. With much bulkier armor than the previous exosuits, as well as a long impaling rod sticking out above each wrist, it looks like a nasty melee-capable battlesuit.
Audible gasps go up among the leaders present, making Phoebe smile.
"This is the Mark I Rhino. Truly exclusive, I've only made twenty of them. Each is a precious asset, featuring fifty percent thicker armor than other exosuits and razor-sharp nanite rods for 'sticking it' to the demons. Advanced cooling capabilities also make it effectively immune to flame-based attacks from all but the most extreme sources. I designed them for frontline usage, improving the power of each of our best commandos. Naturally, I hope you'll be the first to try one out, Samuel."
Lieutenant Samuel grins evilly. "Oh, yes. I'll be able to do a lot of damage with one of those."
"I'm sure you will. Let's finish with the last two suits, both of which you should all be familiar."
This time, the holographic trooper shifts his appearance into a stealthy jet-black exosuit, one with the same sleek design as the basic exosuit model, but fewer 'cracks' it its surface. Most notably, four long, metallic 'tendrils' stick out of its back and writhe around like an ant's antennae.
Chadwick blinks in surprise. "A Spectre? We have hundreds of those already, don't we?"
"Correct. This Spectre is different, though, as it's a second generation exosuit. I'm sure all of you have noticed the odd-looking tendrils on its back. I call them 'Needlers,' and they will be key for maximizing the Mark II's improvements over the first generation. In addition to greatly improved passive stealth capabilities in shadow, the Mark II Spectre can initiate Level III cloaking at will, granting it five minutes of near-perfect stealth capabilities. Most importantly, it now features nearly infinite Level II stealth capabilities, meaning it can remain invisible indefinitely so long as the user keeps their movement to a minimum. It will be excellent for setting up ambushes."
"What function do the 'Needlers' perform?" Brunhilda asks. "They look like headless black snakes."
"More than you can imagine," Phoebe replies. "The Needlers allow the user to scale walls and cliffs, assassinate multiple enemies at once, manipulate tools, and countless other such feats. Think of them as four additional limbs, each one stronger and much more flexible than your arm. They can wrap around an enemy's neck to choke him out, or they can pick locks by deforming their shape... the possibilities are endless."
"Amazing as always, Miss Hiro," Chadwick says, bowing his head respectfully. "If we had these suits during the Core invasion, perhaps we could have defeated the demons instead of suffering such a terrible loss."
Phoebe purses her lips. "Not necessarily. The Spectre suits sacrifice durability and defensive capacity in exchange for speed and stealth. Their offensive-power is also sub-par, making them only good for assassination and espionage. In a giant arena like the Core, Spectre pilots would have perished the fastest."
"Ah. I'll defer to your expert opinion, then," Chadwick mutters, slightly embarrassed.
Phoebe clears her throat. This time, when the last trooper shifts his appearance, looks of surprise appear on Chadwick, Corporal Hurent, and Samuel's faces.
"Hm?" Samuel says. "Isn't that...?"
"Yes," Phoebe replies. "It's the suit Neil wore during the Core invasion: The Thundercat Mark II."
The final trooper hologram changes to reveal a bright blue, red, and golden exosuit, one with a bulky golden gauntlet on its left wrist. Three Wolverine-like blades stick out of the gauntlet, suitable for ripping and tearing, while the trooper also sports a vicious-looking nanosword in his right hand.
"Another Mark II," Chadwick marvels. "It's much flashier than the Mark I, particularly with its coloration. You must have given Neil one before the battle."
"His bodyguards too," Phoebe affirms. "Neil didn't get much time to learn its many functions, and sadly, neither will our troops. However, I'll tell you right now what to expect. The Transforming Exogauntlet on its left arm is a powerful utility item comparable to the Spectre's Needlers. It can become a hammer, a blade, a shield, or anything you need for the situation at hand. Merely describe a shape, and Centurion will attempt to replicate it."
Phoebe gestures toward the holographic trooper's right hand. "This nanosword is equally dangerous. When combined with the Thundercat's reinforced defensive capabilities, it will allow its pilot to fight on the front lines alongside our Rhino-wearing troopers. Since the Thundercat Mark II is a modification of the Mark I, we already have several thousand of them available, along with the new Spectres. I advise you to quickly debrief your troops about the additional functions of these new exosuits, as we won't have much time to train them in their various intricacies once the demons invade."
After taking a long, deep breath, Phoebe exhales.
"Alright. Let's wrap this up. Any questions?"
Chadwick runs his fingers through his beard. "Do you have anywhere you'd like to station us?"
"Ah! I almost forgot. Thank you for reminding me."
Phoebe re-engages the topographical map and points toward the southern side of Hero City.
"Over here, this area is part of the southern prison complex, where I've created a specialized Demon Containment Facility. We must ensure the demons don't locate Beelzebub and Artorias. Keep them locked up at all costs. Corporal Hurent, I'm putting you in charge of defending the prison."
The Corporal nods. "Yes, Commander. I'm already familiar with their layout, as I took our prisoners there earlier."
"Good. I'll need you to pull double-duty keeping an eye on Hero City's eastern flank, too. The south and east sides are among our most vulnerable, so if the demons break containment from the warp-gate, I want to know at once if they reach our flanks."
Phoebe turns her attention toward the others. "Princess Brunhilda. As stated before, you're in charge of protecting the King Cannons and their supply line. Samuel, you're in charge of guarding the southern and western side of the warp-gate encampment. Chadwick, I want you on command duty for the vast majority of our main forces, particularly between Hero City and the encampment. However, Elder Skarde, you may have the most complex job of all."
Elder Skarde frowns. "In what way?"
"You'll be our final defensive line. You will protect Hero City, especially the north side's Covenant ships. You must ensure Burrowers don't make it past our defensive lines, and that any Warpers get taken out before they can circle around to our flanks."
"I will do my best," Skarde replies.
Blinker hops off Phoebe's shoulder and flies around excitedly. "Ooh, ooh, what about me? What do I get to do?"
Phoebe smiles. "Are you fully healed?"
"Yeppers! Samantha got me all fixed up! Kar's still healing, though. I dunno when he'll be ready to return."
Phoebe's smile deepens. The memory of what Blinker told her before the debriefing, regarding Daisy, leaves butterflies in her stomach. However, for some reason, she keeps her mouth shut and doesn't mention it in front the other leaders.
"That's good. I'm glad we have Samantha at times like this. Well, even if Kar isn't back, I hope we can rely on you for support against the demons wherever they appear."
"Duh!" Blinker giggles. "I'll smush 'em flat! Those big red dummies won't know what hit 'em!"
Phoebe pokes Blinker's stomach playfully. Just watch yourself out there. If anything happened to you, it would devastate Kar."
Blinker rolls her eyes. "Psh. Don't you know who I am? I'm the Monster Queen. I'm strong as heck!"
Despite the fairy's tough words, Phoebe's eyes grow distant. "Yeah. But... be careful. Kar already lost one wife. I don't want to imagine what losing a second would do to him. I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you."
With one last, heavy sigh, Phoebe turns to the assembled leaders. "Alright, dismissed. Get out there and make Neil proud. If he's still alive, we'll mount a rescue operation once we survive this war."
Chadwick rises off his rock and raises an eyebrow. "You suddenly sound more confident than before."
Phoebe nods. "Neil always says a leader must look strong for his troops. I can only hope to live up to that ideal."
"As can we all. Words to live by," Chadwick mutters. With a nod of the head, he turns to leave. "I'll see you on the battlefield, Commander Hiro."
"Likewise," Phoebe replies.
The waning sun begins to fade behind clouds to the west, setting on the world of Tarus II and bringing the cover of darkness. As the humans disperse, with Blinker riding on Phoebe's shoulder, they all gaze at the setting sun with wistful eyes.
Next Part
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Artwork time!
Basic T-REX.
Clinician T-REX.
Hummer T-REX.
Rhino T-REX.
Spectre T-REX.
Thundercat T-REX
This is Brunhilda!
submitted by Klokinator to HFY [link] [comments]

Part 240 WIP

Phoebe Hiro, now the Head Commander of the Anti-Demon Resistance, paces back and forth in front of six hand-picked leaders of the various warfronts. Her guests sit on rocks set in the middle of the field not far behind the warp-gate encampment's western wall, while all of them face her and listen intently to what she has to say. Their names and ranks become unimportant as she looks at them with the eyes of a hawk. To the Hero's Wife, these people are merely weapons she must carefully wield in defense of humanity and its monster allies.
In the front row sits General Chadwick, Princess Brunhilda, and Corporal Hurent, along with Blinker, the monster queen. Behind them sits Lieutenant Samuel and Elder Skarde.
General Chadwick, Neil's number one. A black-haired Norwegian with a thick, three-inch-long beard. He wears a long, thin black coat, one designed to allow the air to cool him during the summertime, while his navy-blue military uniform underneath gives him a commanding presence. Chadwick's six-plus-foot height, in addition to his giant muscles and rotund belly, makes him stand out among all the others present. In social situations, he is the one who defeats his drinking opponents, while in grave situations, he is the strong and silent type.
Brunhilda, the Felorian princess. A chocolate-skinned, well-proportioned warrior with long white hair and countless white tattoos across her face and body. She wears only an animal-skin bra and loincloth, revealing her muscled abs and arms. As a tribeswoman, her domineering attitude comes not from stuck-up haughtiness, but from two decades of careful grooming by her parents, the former King and Queen of planet Feloria. Having bowed and acquiesced to the demons her whole life, she now sits and faces the Hero's Wife with a grave expression, knowing she may soon perish in battle while protecting her planet's tribes. At the least, she may enable a new future for her people, one where they no longer cower at the feet of their demonic oppressors.
Corporal Hurent, a decorated veteran with several military accomplishments. Her black hair sits in a ponytail, draped over her left shoulder, while Blinker sits on her right. Combined with her smooth, olive-green military uniform, and lightly bronzed white skin, she appears almost like a shorter, more tomboyish version of General Chadwick. Not bothering with makeup, she has a 'harder' edge to her appearance than Phoebe or Brunhilda, yet her eyes reveal she longs for the war to end. Battle is not in her nature, but merely her current call to action.
Blinker, the Monster Queen. She wears a tiny little set of cream-colored battle armor, crafted in advance by her mother two years prior. Her bright red hair contrasts with the white armor to give her the appearance of a cute little Valkyrie. When combined with her moth-like wings, the trifecta completes itself, making her resemble a battle-angel. Blinker sits on Corporal Hurent's right shoulder, the two of them somewhat close thanks to their interactions over the past few years.
Lieutenant Samuel, a hard-nosed man with a violent past. The ebony-skinned soldier sports several dreadlocks and a mean scar going across his forehead. He rests his elbows on his legs and leans forward, a look of intense concentration on his face. Combined with his camouflage-fatigues, he looks ready to step into the jungle and disappear amongst its foliage. Few of the leaders gathered have anywhere near the same intense look in their eyes, a testament to how much he hates the demons and what they've taken from him.
Finally, Elder Skarde, one of several tribal elders from the planet Locklorn. As their designated envoy, Skarde speaks for all the people of his world. His skin appears the darkest of all, giving him a rich, coal-colored hue capable of blending in with the night. Skarde's carefully maintained, short-cropped hair combines with his purple and gold robes to give him the air of a merchant king, one with money flowing like rivers. A peaceful man, Elder Skarde nevertheless sets aside his misgivings for the sake of his world. While he might prefer seeking peace with the demons and forgiving their transgressions, he likewise would never consider rolling over and letting them destroy his extended family. He draws a hard line in the sand, one he will never let the demons cross.
With all six of the most important leaders assembled before Phoebe, the recently promoted Tarus II Commander begins pacing back and forth.
"Thank you all for coming. I'd like to have gathered more people, but it's probably best if you simply relay today's briefings to the relevant subordinates. We don't have much time to waste, so I'll get right down to business."
Phoebe shoots a glance at the walls of the warp-gate encampment, listening for a moment to hear if any battles have broken out due to the warp-gate's unexpected opening. Luckily, everything remains quiet and calm.
"I don't know how long we have before the demons clear out the Core, but I do know they will, eventually," Phoebe begins, as she returns her attention to those assembled. "The question afterward is how long we have until the demons get the warp-gates back online."
Corporal Hurent raises her hand. "Commander, one thing has been bothering me. We destroyed the computers which control the Core's warp-gates. How can the demons reactivate them? Without the Core's server infrastructure, won't it be impossible for the demons to calculate Tarus II's travel vectors?"
The Corporal's question, prodding at the very nature of warp-gate travel, elicits several nods from the other leaders. After all, from what they understand, calculating the relative position of a planet in the vastness of space, its orbital position, its current facing, and the exact position of the warp-gate on said planet should be impossible without a vast amount of computing power to assist.
However, to the assembled leaders' surprise, Phoebe shakes her head. "Our opponent is no ordinary demoness. She is Ose, the Emperor of Infiltration, and the creator of warp-gate technology. Co-creator, technically, but a distinction which matters little in this context. I've spoken with Samantha on several occasions regarding Ose, and everything she's had to say about our enemy's abilities left me feeling shaken and worried. Ose's brain functions on a level far beyond ours, with unmuddled thoughts capable of computing information thousands of times more quickly than anyone else. She is, essentially, a living bio-computer."
Continuing, Phoebe adds, "Further, my husband once used Solomon's Crown to calculate the jump-vectors from Tarus II's warp-gate back to the Core. Kar watched him do it. If Jason can perform such a feat, I imagine the creator of warp-gate technology can do so as well."
The Commander's words end that line of questioning by the other generals. They fall silent and listen as Phoebe continues with her original train of thought.
Phoebe clears her throat. "Ahem. The battle for the Core was over far faster than anyone, especially Neil, first thought possible. Our enemies caught us off-guard with their new, armored soldiers. It seems likely they won't have any more of those terrifying Baron-level bastards available to hit us with, but we should naturally prepare for them. In the meantime, shifting to open terrain instead of the enclosed corridors of the Core will benefit humanity's forces greatly. Our weapons work best when engaging our enemies from a distance. The further they have to travel, the more time we have to kill them before they close the gap."
After pausing for a moment to rifle through her bag, Phoebe pulls out a tiny dime-sized device and presses it against the side of her head, just above her right ear. A small red LED on its side blinks twice once attached, then turns off. Afterward, she pulls out a baseball-shaped mechanical object, then lightly tosses it into the air. Elder Skarde and Brunhilda both reflexively flinch when the device doesn't fall to the ground, but instead stops in midair and hovers next to Phoebe.
"This is my Hovering Personal Assistant. I call him 'Happy.' Happy helps me with all sorts of things, but today, he'll be helping all of you to understand my thoughts."
Phoebe concentrates for a moment. She transmits images from her brain through the device stuck to her head and into Happy. In turn, the hovering metal baseball bobs in the air for a moment before beaming out a projected image of Tarus II's landscape, primarily the 20-mile range around and between Hero City and the warp-gate encampment.
The other leaders watch in fascinated silence as Phoebe points toward a small mountain range just over a mile north of the warpgate encampment. "This location is known as the Sphinx Mountain Range, and is going to be a critically important asset we must protect once the demons invade. How many of you have visited it before?"
Elder Skarde and Samuel both shake their heads. General Chadwick, Corporal Hurent, and Blinker all offer hesitant nods, while Brunhilda's are the most emphatic of all. Upon noticing the recognition in the Felorian Princess's eyes, Phoebe smiles. "Brunhilda, what makes you so familiar with that region?"
"I enjoy climbing mountains to gaze at the world from their vistas," Brunhilda replies. "Since that region offers a breathtaking view of the distant ocean, I have scaled it numerous times."
Phoebe's smile stretches further. "Did you ever happen to notice the artillery battlement I built there?"
A look of surprise appears on Brunhilda's face. The Felorian Princess scratches her head sheepishly. "Ah, no? What do you mean, Commander Hiro?"
"Three years ago, Jason and I worked together to build several fortifications for Tarus II. One of those happened to be a network of long range auto-cannon installations in the Sphinx Mountain Range. Observe."
Phoebe's robo-assistant, Happy, releases a cute high-pitched chirp. "Beep-boop!"
Immediately, a second hologram appears, one of a gigantic gun more than a hundred feet tall, with three cannon barrels aimed diagonally into the sky. The whole thing rests upon a square turret base, with rotatable joints and motors allowing it to adjust its firing angle and distance. The menacing weapon makes all of the leaders gathered raise their eyebrows in surprise.
"Wow!" Blinker gasps. "Phoebe, you built that thing? It's huge!"
Chadwick stands up and walks closer to more carefully scrutinize the artillery cannon. "Very impressive. Why have I heard nothing about this?"
"Because it's one of my many secret weapons," Phoebe says, a tricky smile playing upon her lips. "I call it a King Cannon. We've always worried about demonic spies in our ranks. Bad actors among our fellow humans and monsters might also be an issue, too. I built these cannons in absolute secrecy, telling only Jason and Solomon. Not even Samantha knows of their existence."
Elder Skarde snorts. "Just as well."
"Samantha will never betray humanity," Phoebe snaps, glaring viciously at the elder. "Don't think I've forgotten some of the hurtful things you said. I'd advise you to keep your mouth shut about her if you don't want my foot shoved where the sun doesn't shine."
Chadwick remains silent. As one of Neil's closest confidantes, he too has no trust for the succubus. Still, he knows better than to disparage her in front of Phoebe, especially given the circumstances.
"Ahem," Lieutenant Samuel clears his throat. "If I may. You mentioned cannons, plural. How many of these have you built?"
Phoebe turns away from Skarde to look at Samuel behind him. "Ten. They function by firing shells over long distances which explode shortly before striking the ground. These explosions release hundreds of iron rods, each one capable of stabbing through even the heaviest armor. No demon will be able to withstand a shelling from the King Cannons. I have several other types of ammunition present as well, including explosive munitions, poison gas, and acid for melting flesh. Needless to say, we must ensure our troops don't get caught in the crossfire."
"And," Phoebe adds, "that is one of the biggest problems we face. The King Cannons are explosively powerful and more than capable of turning tens of thousands of demons into puddles of blood. However, they lack precision. They're a double-edged sword capable of harming our soldiers. I plan to use them only if our troops fail to prevent the demons' advance from the warp-gate. That's why I will not move on to the next strategic point."
Commander Hiro disables the hologram for the King Cannon while Chadwick takes his seat. She returns to the original hologram, the one showing Tarus II's topography.
"On the north side of Hero City we have ten Covenant ships to protect. On the south side are the Pyramids. On the east, we have a mixture of forested woodlands and some hilly terrain. Between Hero City and the Warp-gate Encampment, we have the Horned Forest, with all manner of vicious predators hiding amongst its trees, and the vast open plains where we will most likely engage with demonkind if they take over the encampment. Looking at the encampment itself, we have the King Cannons to the north, Tarus II's great ocean to the west, and finally the southern side."
Phoebe clears her throat. "Here, we run into another problem. Some of you may not be familiar with the southern region, as we rarely go there. It's filled with canyons and ravines deep enough to kill anyone if they should stumble inside. The deepest one reaches half a mile into the planet's crust, so, needless to say, not many people go there. However, it is also home to another of my secret facilities."
"Another?" Corporal Hurent asks, her jaw turning slack. "Just how many facilities have you built?"
Phoebe's smile dims. "Too many to handle on my own, but not enough to guarantee our safety."
That reply makes the Corporal close her mouth and nod along silently. Phoebe continues by activating another hologram, this time showing a massive network of buildings carved into the side of a ravine. The facility stretches far enough into the distance that it goes past the edge of the hologram where nobody can see its end.
"By the Creator..." Lieutenant Samuel mutters. "You've been holding out on us."
"Indeed. This facility is one I haven't even told Jason about. I built it by myself."
Phoebe's casual attitude stuns everyone present. Blinker jumps off Corporal Hurent's shoulder and flies over to Phoebe. "What?! How could you build all that by yourself? That's impossible!"
While the fairy buzzes around the hologram with wide-open eyes, Phoebe chuckles. "Believe me, I did. Don't you remember six years ago, when Jason used to build houses and apartments for people with his Wordsmithing? I created a tool that could synthesize simple square structures out of energy, one which could project and build walls, ceilings, and floors. I built this facility with an upgraded version of that device."
A huge, giddy smile spreads across Chadwick's face. "Absolutely amazing. I never imagined we had a facility like this at our disposal, nor that you would be its sole builder. What is its function, Commander Hiro? Why did you build it in such an out-of-the-way location?"
"It's not out-of-the-way at all," Phoebe clarifies. "This facility's purpose is to create war-machines capable of leveling battlefields, and so I needed it somewhere close where I count send them barreling toward the front lines within minutes. That Planet-Walker I demonstrated earlier came from here, as well as many similar machines. I wanted to ensure we had extremely powerful trump cards prepared, should the demons ever invade. Secrecy was even more important, as I couldn't chance the demons learning of their existence."
Corporal Hurent raises her hand. "Hold on a moment. Regarding not only this robot-creation-facility, but also the King Cannons, how can we train enough people to pilot and control your machines? Those cannons look like they will require countless soldiers to aim and fire them, while the robots you've constructed will doubtless require intense training to use them to their fullest capacity. Have you trained anyone in secret as pilots? Or, perhaps... might these machines be fully autonomous?"
"Neither," Phoebe replies. "The Planet-walkers and other mecha are, indeed, autonomous, but I will require pilots inside them for target designation purposes. Each robot is capable of basic decision-making, but a human in the cockpit is our surest bet for strategically taking out demons wherever they appear. As for the King Cannons, the situation is similar. I will require a few personnel to man them for the sake of designating targets, but their roles will be minor. A bigger issue comes from fuel and munition supplies, which is the next thing I'd like to mention."
Phoebe waves away the southern facility's hologram, returning to the topographical Tarus II map.
"Look here. The King Cannons are immensely powerful, but they are also fragile. Once the demons figure out the cannons' location, if they choose to attack them, they can easily destroy them. I've protected the King Cannons, as well as my southern facility, with holographic obfuscation technology. Even up close, it's nearly impossible to locate the cannons, but every time they fire, the stealth net will go down for a moment, revealing their position. This will make it easy for the demons to find and destroy them."
Blinker nods. "Like Ose's mansion."
"Additionally," Phoebe continues, "the King Cannons have limited ammunition available. I always envisioned them as being supplementary to Jason and Hope's power, giving us a powerful area-attack, but with the Wordsmiths missing, they will end up being our primary suppression device against the demons. If so, then we'll need to establish munition supply lines to keep them continuously firing at all times. The supply line will come from the east side of Hero City up along the northern border until it reaches the Horned Forest. From there, it will continue until it reached the Sphinx Mountain Range, where the personnel we place can take the shells and reload the King Cannons. At any point, demons might disrupt this supply line, thus rendering the cannons useless. Without ammunition, they will be little more than giant, decorative statues atop the mountains."
Brunhilda pipes up. "So, you wish for me to take control of protecting the King Cannons?"
"That's right. While the number of personnel required to operate the King Cannons is minimal, we will need a substantial number of troops available to guard the mountains themselves from demonic attacks. Think you're up to the task?"
"Naturally," Brunhilda replies.
Phoebe nods. "Good. I have some positive news to report as well, which you all will doubtless find comforting."
She touches the hologram and draws a circle around the warp-gate encampment. "I came up with a temporary fix for the burrower problem. I didn't want them to easily breach our lines by burrowing under us, so I cobbled together a few experimental devices. I call them 'seismic mines.' They detonate when they detect seismic activity nearby. If the Burrowers try to dig a tunnel near a seismic mine, they will perish a quick, explosive death."
Blinker lands on Phoebe's shoulder. "When the heck did you make those?"
"Today," Phoebe says. "Took me about eight hours. I only synthesized a couple hundred of them, and I attached them to mechanical moles to ensure they end up deep feet beneath our feet. However, given my limited amount of time, I only managed to surround the warp-gate encampment with them, as well as place a few beneath Hero City. Once a few Burrowers explode, they'll doubtless be able to continue forward, unabated. Luckily, the sensors will still give me an idea of where they're headed."
"You think of everything." Brunhilda says, admiration in her eyes.
"I wish that were the case. I'm only human, so I can't anticipate a demon's thought processes. Doubtless, Ose is sure to find a gap in our defenses. Don't get starry-eyed on me, not unless we actually survive this awful war."
Once again, Phoebe points at the holographic map. "Look over here, to the west of the encampment. There are thirty-seven miles of unprotected land between here and the ocean. If the demons escape in that direction, they'll be able to spread out and go around our borders, as I haven't built any defenses in that area. The King Cannons can certainly fire that far, but their accuracy and coverage will decrease substantially. Lieutenant Samuel, I'll rely on you to keep an eye on the western and southern sides of the encampment, while Princess Brunhilda will be in charge of guarding the Sphinx Mountains to the north. We cannot let the demons stake out a safe haven to the west. If they do, they'll likely summon countless portals to the Labyrinth, removing our chokepoint advantage. We have to keep them pinned down at the Tarus II warp-gate, or else they will rapidly overwhelm us with numbers."
Samuel nods. "As long as I get to kill bloodskins, you can count me in."
Phoebe frowns. "Demons, Lieutenant. Demons. Enough with the god-damned slurs."
"I don't care if you like my language or not," Samuel says, his face emotionless. "Bloodskins killed my brother. They butchered him like livestock. Don't preach to me that compassion nonsense. In my eyes, they're all filthy animals in need of extermination."
"Demons tortured my people for countless generations," Elder Skarde chimes in. "We have known nothing but fear and subservience to the bloodskins my whole life. Commander Phoebe, you may feel some twinge of compassion for the murderous wretches, but we do not. We only fight the bastards because of the horrors they've exacted upon us. If you want our help, then you will find a way to deal with our feelings."
After seeing the other two leaders stand up for their beliefs, Chadwick adds his two cents. "With all due respect, Commander, how many demons do you know who are righteous and pure? One? Ten? A hundred? You may have the utmost faith in Belial and others like her, but we do not. I have fought alongside Neil and Hope countless times when rescuing human slaves from the core. Some of the things I saw..."
The General starts to fall silent, only to notice a look of curiosity in the faces of Elder Skarde and Princess Brunhilda, both of whom have never stepped foot in the Labyrinth except for its Core.
"I saw a young man who was half-dead," Chadwick mutters, his voice low. "the poor kid had all the skin on his back melted and fused together. His bloodskin tormentor pressed him against a wall after burning him, then left him there, with his skin stuck to the stone. When Hope found him, the boy was half-dead and delirious with pain. It took Hope fifteen minutes of Wordsmithing to heal the boy's injuries. The lad later killed himself because of the lasting mental pain we couldn't erase."
General Chadwick glances at Phoebe, noticing with interest that for once, she doesn't appear angry at his words. "That boy was not the exception, but the rule. The bloodskins treat us worse than cattle, worse than bugs. They enjoy our suffering. I see no way we can ever truly cohabit with them. Perhaps you might be capable of picking out one or two decent ones, but the rest are all irredeemable, violent psychopaths. We must eradicate them for the good of the galaxy."
Despite a three-pronged verbal assault from Samuel, Elder Skarde, and Chadwick, Phoebe appears unmoved.
"Do you think I don't know all that?"
Commander Hiro tilts her chin up slightly, allowing her to look down upon the still-seated Chadwick.
"I'm well aware of the atrocities demons have committed. I am not Jason, and as such, I don't believe in trying to save all, or even most of them. My husband is a good man. He tries to look at demons as sinners, those who were led astray early in their history. They were born from bloodshed, and so that is all they know. Or so Jason claims."
Phoebe raises her hand and waggles a finger. "I do not think the same thoughts as Jason, General Chadwick. I do not believe demons are necessarily redeemable, but I do believe that they are not irredeemable. That is why I find myself disgusted when you refer to them with such gross, offensive slurs. Not because I think your hatred is misguided, but because as long as we treat them as inherently evil villains, we will never have even a chance to mend the rift between our species. Hate the demons and wish for their deaths all you want, for I will not stop you from thinking such thoughts. However, please understand that we humans must be better than our enemies. We must show them with our conduct that, so long as they own up to their actions and accept the appropriate punishment, we will always be willing to forgive, if not forget their pasts."
The Commander falls silent, allowing her words to germinate in the ears of those present. Blinker sits on her shoulder silently, saying nothing, while Brunhilda and Corporal Hurent stew in their own private thoughts.
General Chadwick rubs his knee contemplatively. "Hrm. I do not fully understand why you so often choose to defend the demons. Perhaps I never will. I merely wish you would not try to dissuade people from referring to the demons as 'bloodskins,' like they deserve."
"'Deserve' is a strong word, General," Phoebe retorts. "From what I've gathered, humanity stomped on the faces of the demons countless generations ago, and they retaliated in kind. Do we not deserve hatred from them as well?"
"That is a different situation entirely."
"So you claim," Phoebe snaps back. "But, if you so desperately wish to lump all the members of a sentient species under one definition, I suppose I cannot stop you. We haven't time to sit here and wax philosophical about our beliefs, so let's just hold off on the comebacks for today. If we survive this invasion, we'll return to this discussion at a later time."
Chadwick nods. "Very well."
Elder Skarde and Samuel both share a glance with one another, revealing neither of them plans to change their minds, but at the least, they fall silent to allow Phoebe's continued debriefing.
"Right. Let's finish this, then," Phoebe says. The Commander disabled the Tarus II topographical map, and instead summons a series of images of various soldiers standing at attention, all of them wearing basic military uniforms with T-REX's srapped across their chests.
"I've completed doling out the advanced exosuits I prepared in advance. Allow me to debrief you on their functions."
The first trooper's image shimmers and shifts, adorning him in a shiny silver armor, one which all of the generals are familiar with.
"This is the basic T-REX, a mass-produced model with no obvious flaws that merely enhances the average human warrior's speed and durability to beyond that of a Demon Lord. It also helps with aim assist on projectile-based weapons, and features a low-level pilot-assistance mode capable of augmenting its wearer's dodging capabilities mid-battle. An excellent suit for any beginner, but one the demons have long grown used to seeing."
The next trooper also shifts his appearance, appearing in a silver-and-red exosuit with a few utility modules attached to its arms and waist. The red coloration extends in a cross-like shape across the trooper's chest.
"This is Mark I of the Clinician battlesuit. It has lower strength and speed than the basic T-REX, but in exchange, it features greater durability and advanced pilot assistance support. I designed it with our battlefield medics in mind. We can't rely on rescue devices to save all of our downed troops, so having field medics on hand will be essential to saving as many lives as possible. The Clinician also features several medical devices capable of prolonging a dying soldier's life, including nano-injectors to seal and repair wounds."
Corporal Hurent, one of the more technically-minded of the leaders present, nods appreciatively. "I'd have liked to have a few of those on hand when we fought in the Core."
"As would we all," Phoebe replies.
The Commander moves on to the third exosuit, one with an identical silver coloring scheme to the first exosuit, but with four 'struts' sticking out of its back.
"Previously, we've had to rely on Harpies for their excellent battlefield mobility and flight capabilities. Now, we have another option. The Mark I Hummer is our only flight-capable battlesuit, and I've only managed to manufacture fifty of them, to boot. The wing struts on the back allow for only limited durations of swift flight, but extended amounts of hovering capabilities. Think of them as mobile sniper platforms, rather than flying assault weapons."
"I can already imagine several uses for the Hummer," Chadwick says, his voice low.
Phoebe doesn't reply. She activates the next hologram, revealing a truly menacing-looking exosuit, one with gold and black coloration, a metal horn on its helmet, and two others on its shoulders. With much bulkier armor than the previous exosuits, as well as a long impaling rod sticking out above each wrist, it looks like a nasty melee-capable battlesuit.
Audible gasps go up among the leaders present, making Phoebe smile.
"This is the Mark I Rhino. Truly exclusive, I've only made twenty of them. Each is a precious asset, featuring fifty percent thicker armor and razor-sharp nanite rods for 'sticking it' to the demons. Advanced cooling capabilities also make it effectively immune to flame-based attacks from all but the most extreme sources. I designed them for frontline usage, improving the power of each of our best commandos. Naturally, I hope you'll be the first to try one out, Samuel."
Lieutenant Samuel grins evilly. "Oh, yes. I'll be able to do a lot of damage with one of those."
"I'm sure you will. Let's move on to the last two suits, both of which you should all be familiar."
This time, the holographic trooper shifts his appearance into a stealthy jet-black exosuit, one with the same sleek design as the basic exosuit model, but fewer 'cracks' it its surface. Most notably, four long, metallic 'tendrils' stick out of its back and writhe around like an ant's antennae.
Chadwick blinks in surprise. "A Spectre? We have hundreds of those already, don't we?"
"Correct. This Spectre is different, though, as it's a second generation exosuit. I'm sure all of you have noticed the odd-looking tendrils on its back. I call them 'Needlers,' and they will be key for maximizing the Mark II's improvements over the first generation. In addition to greatly improved passive stealth capabilities in shadow, the Mark II Spectre can initiate Level III cloaking at will, granting it five minutes of near-perfect stealth capabilities. Most importantly, it now features nearly infinite Level II stealth capabilities, meaning it can remain invisible indefinitely so long as the user keeps their movement to a minimum. It will be excellent for setting up ambushes."
"What function do the 'Needlers' perform?" Brunhilda asks. "They look like headless black snakes."
"More than you can imagine," Phoebe replies. "The Needlers allow the user to scale walls and cliffs, assassinate multiple enemies at once, manipulate tools, and countless other such feats. Think of them as four additional limbs, each one stronger and much more flexible than your arm. They can wrap around an enemy's neck to choke him out, or they can pick locks by deforming their shape... the possibilities are endless."
"Amazing as always, Miss Hiro," Chadwick says, bowing respectfully. "Had we these suits during the Core invasion, perhaps we could have defeated the demons instead of suffering such a terrible loss."
Phoebe purses her lips. "Not necessarily. The Spectra suits sacrifice durability and defensive capacity in exchange for speed and stealth. Their offensive-power is also sub-par, making them only good for assassination and espionage. In a giant arena like the Core, Spectre pilots would have perished the fastest."
"Ah. I'll defer to your expert opinion, then," Chadwick mutters, slightly embarrassed.
Phoebe clears her throat. This time, when the last trooper shifts his appearance, looks of surprise appear on Chadwick, Corporal Hurent, and Samuel's faces.
"Hm?" Samuel says. "Isn't that...?"
"Yes," Phoebe replies. "It's the suit Neil wore during the Core invasion: The Thundercat Mark II."
The final trooper hologram changes to reveal a bright blue, red, and golden exosuit, one with a bulky golden gauntlet on its left wrist. Three Wolverine-like blades stick out of the gauntlet, suitable for ripping and tearing, while the trooper also sports a vicious-looking nanosword in his right hand.
"Another Mark II," Chadwick marvels. "You must have given Neil one before the battle."
"His bodyguards too," Phoebe affirms. "Neil didn't get much time to learn its many functions, and sadly, neither will our troops. However, I'll tell you right now what to expect. The Transforming Exogauntlet on its left arm is a powerful utility item comparable to the Spectre's Needlers. It can become a hammer, a blade, a shield, or anything you need for the situation at hand. Merely describe a shape, and Centurion will attempt to replicate it."
Phoebe gestures toward the holographic trooper's right hand. "This nanosword is equally dangerous. When combined with this suit's reinforced defensive capabilities, it will allow the Thundercat troopers to fight on the front lines alongside our Rhino-wearing troopers. Since the Thundercat Mark II is a modification of the Mark I, we will have several thousand of them available, along with the new Spectres. I advise you to quickly debrief your troops about the additional functions of these new exosuits, as we won't have much time to train them in their various intricacies once the demons invade."
After taking a long, deep breath, Phoebe exhales.
"Alright. Let's wrap this up. Any questions?"
Chadwick runs his fingers through his beard. "Do you have anywhere you'd like to station us?"
"Ah! I almost forgot. Thank you for reminding me."
Phoebe re-engages the topographical map and points toward the southern side of Hero City.
"Over here, this area is part of the southern prison complex. I've created a specialized Demon Containment Facility. We must ensure the demons don't locate Beelzebub and Artorias. Keep them locked up at all costs. Corporal Hurent, I'm putting you in charge of defending the prison."
The Corporal nods. "Yes, Commander. I'm already familiar with their layout, as I took our prisoners there earlier."
"Good. I'll need you to pull double-duty keeping an eye on Hero City's eastern flank, too. The south and east sides are among our most vulnerable, so if the demons break containment from the warp-gate, I want to know at once if they reach our flanks."
Phoebe turns her attention toward the others. "Princess Brunhilda. As stated before, you're in charge of protecting the King Cannons and their supply line. Samuel, you'll mirror Corporal Hurent in guarding the southern and western side of the warp-gate encampment. Chadwick, I want you on command duty for the vast majority of our main forces, particularly between Hero City and the encampment. However, Elder Skarde, you may have the most complex job of all."
Elder Skarde frowns. "In what way?"
"You'll be our final defensive line. You will protect Hero City, especially the north side's Covenant ships. You must ensure Burrowers don't make it past our defensive lines, and that any Warpers get taken out before they can circle around to our flanks."
"I will do my best," Skarde replies.
Blinker hops off Phoebe's shoulder and flies around excitedly. "Ooh, ooh, what about me? What do I get to do?"
Phoebe smiles. "Are you fully healed?"
"Yeppers! Samantha got me all fixed up! Kar's still healing, though. I dunno when he'll be ready to return."
Phoebe's smile deepens. The memory of what Blinker told her before the debriefing regarding Daisy leaves butterflies in her stomach. However, for some reason, she keeps her mouth shut and doesn't mention it before the other leaders.
"That's good. I'm glad we have Samantha to rely on at times like this. Well, even if Kar isn't back, I hope we can rely on you for support against the demons wherever they appear."
"Duh!" Blinker giggles. "I'll smush 'em flat! Those big red dummies won't know what hit 'em!"
Phoebe pokes Blinker's stomach playfully. Just watch yourself out there. If anything happened to you, it would devastate Kar."
Blinker rolls her eyes. "Psh. Don't you know who I am? I'm the Monster Queen. I'm strong as heck!"
Despite the fairy's tough words, Phoebe's eyes grow distant. "Yeah. Just... take care of yourself. Kar already lost one wife. I don't want to imagine what losing a second would do to him. I'd never forgive myself if something happened to you."
With one last, heavy sigh, Phoebe turns to the assembled leaders. "Alright, dismissed. Get out there and make Neil proud. If he's still alive, we'll mount a rescue operation once we survive this war."
Chadwick rises off his rock and raises an eyebrow. "You suddenly sound more confident than before."
Phoebe nods. "Neil always says a leader must look strong for his troops. I can only hope to live up to that ideal."
"As can we all. Words to live by," Chadwick mutters. With a nod of the head, he turns to leave. "I'll see you on the battlefield, Commander Hiro."
"Likewise," Phoebe replies.
The waning sun begins to fade behind clouds to the west, setting on the world of Tarus II and bringing the cover of darkness. As the humans disperse, with Blinker riding on Phoebe's shoulder, they all gaze at the setting sun with wistful eyes.
.......................................
Artwork time!
Basic T-REX.
Clinician T-REX.
Hummer T-REX.
Rhino T-REX.
Spectre T-REX.
Thundercat T-REX
This is Brunhilda!
submitted by Klokinator to klokinator [link] [comments]

Day Trading

Curious to know what platforms are the best user friendly and fee wise for beginners at day trading? I’ve been using a demo account to trade Spread Bets & CFDs but looking to go into Options. I’m interested to hear what instruments you use and assets you most frequently trade.
submitted by Timohan91 to UKInvesting [link] [comments]

Advice on Strategy - Interview Task

Hi All,
I have reached a final stage interview for a role which I really want however the task they have given me has left me a bit aloof.
I was wondering if anyone could give me any pointers or tips (I have a framework for the answers but just want others opinions) on the task at hand?
The task is:
How would you approach each scenario from a purely paid traffic perspective. Bear in mind: - Business model is dependent on traders placing orders (traded accounts), before which they would have opened a demo account, then a live account which they would have then funded - You have no budget constrains - All relevant paid traffic channels are available for you - You have unlimited access to Copyright, CRO, design and pixel implementation resources if needed - You’ll need to define how to measure success - The scenarios are purposely vague, to provide as much freedom as possible to come up with an approach
Scenario 1
We get significant levels of Crypto related traffic. However, the conversion from click to demo account is low
Scenario 2
Shares related traffic generates drives good volume of clicks and demo accounts, but conversion from demo accounts to traded accounts is insufficient
Scenario 3
CFD and Spread Betting traffic has far greater value than any other product, and it converts well throughout the funnel. However, volumes are low
My approach is to firstly have a consistent measurement framework for all three by placing a pixel measuring activity on the demo accounts to allow audience creation by engagement levels.
For crypto targeting top level generics on search, FB and display via interests/affinity to accumulate traffic and direct to informational pages, collate audience and re-target aggressively with creative calling out benefits of the platform and the positive aspects of volatility of crypto.
Shares - Test various CRO tactics with landing page tests, check drop offs on site, possible re-engagement with promotional messaging depending on how far down the funnel the user is
CFD - Lots of upper funnel activity across all channels, promote the app via Google Ads app campaigns, FB app install campaigns and apple search ads.
Any advice would be appreciated.
submitted by Greatdane_notthedog to DigitalMarketing [link] [comments]

blerg

MARIO IF HE REAL #1-3 (6 2020) ===== "Mario if he real". a forced meme as of june 2020, but i'm behind on my creeps and this is fun. ---------- Mario 64 is connected to all other N64 games via hardware quantum tunneling which Nintendo was experimenting with at the time. There exists some basic coding which is evident across all N64 releases after Mario 64 which allows it to interact with these games in subtle ways. Data miners have been unearthing these secrets for years now but Nintendo has been keeping this information suppressed through intimidation tactics against hackers/leakers (Nintendo have notoriously taken action against fan projects which used modified code based on the original N64 library games). These changes would have been substantial, tweaking minor things in some games and unlocking entirely new and unseen content in others. This exciting new technology was an open industry secret in the late 90s and, according to some old Konami employees, was even emulated/parodied by Metal Gear Solid's Psycho Mantis using his "psychic abilities" to read the player's PS1 memory card. As early as 1998 however there were several lawsuits filed against Nintendo by children's parents who sued for "legal damages". While these lawsuits have been officialy expunged from public records as of today, they were apparently settled out of court for a substantial amount. As early as 1999, ex-Nintendo employees recall being instructed to erase any physical or digital records of the HQT (hardware quantum tunneling) technology from their files. In a leaked Nintendo business insider document released in 2010, CEO Satoru Iwata was quoted as saying (in response to questions about digital preservation of older Nintendo titles) that any game produced before 1999 had already been digitally preserved by Nintendo themselves and that any physical media are best left alone. Although very little documentation exists of the hardware today, it is very unlikely that it caused considerable financial or legal damage to Nintendo overall. Whether it exists or not remains as speculation. --- Psycho Mantis was able to do that as the game could read information from your console to see what games had recently been played on it... That's all. --- You know, this kind of reminds me of an idea I had for a creepypasta that would involve some special software that intensifies the feelings of games and makes them too intense to handle, and there is a giant cover-up for it and stuff, I just never got around to it and can't be bothered with it lately because I'm too busy writing for money. --- Hey /x/ I keep seeing this weird thing appear in the game. It looks like peach but it’s unfinished it’s solid white and has red hair and no face. Anyone know what’s up with that? --- I do not trust any game that legitimately has parallel universes off-camera you can visit, explanations be damned --- (img of soundcanvas sc-88 pro) Can someone explain the "Enchanted SC-88 samples"? I haven't seen any elaboration on it. --- Has anyone created a mod for SM64 yet that adds in all this creepy shit? The game's source code has been leaked entirely and people have picked it apart and studied it more thoroughly than any other video game in history so I can't imagine there not being some mods on the way that turn it into a Petscop-esque experience. --- > Even though this is a larp, there was something strange about the N64. The games were not always consistent and text and graphics would change constantly. The RAM capabilities weren't in line with the processor and GPU, which resulted in throttled performance. The games that utilised the RAM expansion pak were much more stable. ----- i know, i basically thought the same thing as you when i first saw these threads. i want there to be something, but think about how much coordinated autism has been focused on the game. like all the speed runners and mods n stuff. makes me think that there isnt much left, and no creepypasta content even gets posted in these lame threads. i guess a few bored people keep spamming them. the only thing i can say is the game always had a dream like quality to me, but its just cause its abstract, minimal, and creative. not scary or paranormal. i did hear that the development team was pushed so hard working on the game that a few of them almost had mental breakdowns or came close to being an hero. in case anyone else reads this check out some of the rom hacks, star road is pretty much good enough to feel like a sequel, lots of other good ones too --- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zjhtSeocXc [Embed] I just realized SM64 has a very Alejandro Jodorowsky type vibe to it >high contrasts, bright colors but still ominous >focus on odd, symmetrical interiors/exteriors >Jodorowsky has lots of explicit occultism, SM64 has lots of unexplained shit that makes people feel uneasy >None of the characters feel like "characters," just weird beings whose job it is to guide you deeper into the otherwise empty worlds --- Simple explanation is, it’s like making a creepy pasta that’s vague vs one that over explains. If you set out to make mysterious you can’t do it as well as what happens naturally. Super Mario 64 is an early 3D game. IMO it’s aged poorly compared to BK but whatever my point is that it’s early oddness makes it so weird/mysterious plus Nintendo while not trying too hard like they did with MM as you said they did have weird subtle details like the extra ball after defeating the King Bom-Omb --- ( asking questions about a photo of a small Spanish town ) NIntendo decided to use it as an unreachable background image in one of the levels of the game. The level of the game seems to provoke feelings of unease/dread in some players and there is ongoing speculation that that level is in fact an artificial-intelligence schematic of the human brain. --- ( wet dry world ) shiaaat... this level indeed left me with dread and unease.. it's been 20 some years I last played this game, but damn.. still remember that feeling right now very vividly --- I remember that part of the level really well, for some reason I always had very much fun going down there. But very strange when I think about it. --- ( tick tock clock img ) I'm not even joking about this, ever since I was a kid I remember very well there being two Rabbits-one very fat and large and one small-inside the glass part of the clock. It's been years since I thought about it but it's such an incredibly distinct and specific memory. I never saw them for myself, but somehow I just thought they were real. --- Yes Also Princess Luna is Sophia Notice how Princess Luna is more beautiful than Peach Nintendo is trying to tell you that praising Sophia takes you higher than praising Peach, also notice how Luna's domain extends across the universe whereas Peach is stuck within the realm of the mushroom kingdom THE SIGNS ARE ALL AROUND YOU BUT YOU DON'T LISTEN notice how bowser has an endless staircase, this is a joke, because even though mario disables the endless staircase he is still stuck in the endless cycle of chasing Peach WAKE UP --- >>25181737 .............. my brother and I had two stuffed rabbits, one big blue and fat and the other small and beige. We used to pretend they lived in the game... --- Nice to see the creepy vibes of Mario 64 brought to light even if most of it is just memes. Mario games to this day greatly influence my dreams for some odd reason, probably because of how prominent it was in my childhood. --- dont know why you'd think that, i really wanted to live there when i first played it, it looked cool living in a city underwater --- Wet Dry World was most likely a testing stage for underwater physics and game mechanics. --- Why doesn’t Luigi’s Mansion have these kinds of conspiracies? Like The Huntsman, Elh, the Kitchen Portrait Ghost, Luigi killing himself, E. Gadd is the villain, Dead children, Madame Clairvoya letting herself be captured, the phonograph, Bogmire is the Grim Reaper, depressed Luigi, Luigi being a murderer, “creature screech” There’s so much potential! --- what does all of this symbolism mean? why is nothing explained? Nintendo said that they wanted Majora to be mysterious but never will it be comparable to this. --- > Sunshine actually has SOUL, which 64 lacks it does, but it is also very poorly made. --- Yeah wasn't going to fall for it anyway bud. Aside from modded roms and skin swaps with BK/DK there really isn't anything spectacular in the real vanilla version on mario 64. The Luigi thing is bullshit, and all the rest I heard rumors about years ago were too. I mean yeah you can hack him in now easily, but it wasn't that way back in the day on a real rom. Aside from some out of bounds glitches there isn't anything worth mentioning in the vanilla game that I know of. I saw this thread and was like cool mario 64, but it seems to just be a bunch of fags circle jerking over a lame crappy pasta with the added autism of reply to this post or mom is oh no kilt. Uhh well... Sigh. Mario if he real --- You know it would have made more sense to do this with Luigi's mansion. Which is actually a great game, has a spooky vibe to it. I think it would be relatively easy to make a real scary mod for that one, just given the available assets. Its too bad it's geared toward ten year olds. But I guess the innocent charm of a sPoOkY environment was refreshing, you know compared to rated M survival horror games. I think the reason M64 is used is because it is incredibly recognizable, and it is incredibly easy to hack the game since many other 64 games share the same infrastructure. Some guy merged starfox fighter planes into fucking Zelda. Fake creepy pastas aside it would be cool to see a fan-made mario IP made that was made for adults. Of course fagtendo wouldn't like it but i bet a lot of fans would even if it was on a system from way back. Im sure there us a environment editor if some kind, but if we could get ahold of the full SDK for the 64 might be doable. Like you mentioned the fan made sequel, so there must be a way. --- ( how to get to forest ) build up speed then grab the bouncy box thing the extra momentum will send you soaring over the map with enough speed to get past the walls. after that you'll hear boo sounds and maybe even see broken assets but once you get far enough the game will either crash or you'll see it a frame before it crashes --- ===== MARIO IF HE REAL pt 2 (6 2020) ===== Some of these theories such as the Wario one, all of the pictures, Wet Dry world and the personalized copys. It kind of gives me the same feeling as the pink sky in MK64 and way Peach's Castle looks in MK64. Also always wondering what was over the hills in SM64. --- I want to know about Lakitu. Why is he filming Mario just for him getting cake with Peach? How did he know Mario was coming? Where did the film reel end up? --- the (DO NOT RESEARCH) thing is very interesting even if fake (wich is is) the images and videos made to back it up are soo uncanny and eerie that makes me want to exploit it. i love these kind of "something is odd/ocult but oddly familiar" kind of fiction specially in videogames. someone needs to do some rom-hacks to go along or write something (wich im thinking on doing). --- The Wario Apparition was created from the subconscious wishes to see him in Mario 64 that the shared desired caused him to appear as a horrifying half start in some copies of the game. That image is what its supposed to look like, but those who encountered it ingame can't even describe what it looked like as many suffer from memory loss and stroke-like symptoms. If you suspect you're seeing it ingame its suggested you shut the console off immediately because once you give it power by witnessing it, it gains power to begin manifesting itself in your reality. --- >Gyroid face In Animal Crossing for Gamecube, there are strange, stationary dancing creatures called "gyroids". These are based off of Japanese clay burial figures. If a player leaves to visit another player's town, and they quit or reset the game mid-trip, they will discover that their character's face has been temporarily replaced with that of a "gyroid", and that their inventories will have been emptied. In addition, two villagers, Coco the rabbit and Nindori the ostrich share gyroid faces. Some people say that there was a series of people trying to replicate the "gyroid face trick" in real life, boarding trains, dropping everything they have, and walking home. --- "Have you ever played through Wet Dry World and felt this eerie feeling? That's the emotional aura in effect. Wet Dry World has this unfinished, beta-esque feeling of incompleteness. Like it was a test build that was slapped together into a course at the last second. Truth is, WDW is a simulated human brain. Not in the traditional sense, but similarly to how people have made calculators in Mario Maker, and computers in Minecraft. I don't remember it exactly, but it had to do with the shifting water tides. Another thing that hints into this is the brain diagram found in the stage, which was probably put in there as a reference point for the developers when making this. Super Mario 64 is, at its core, and insidious and evil work of human creation, a twisted experiment made to test the bounds of technology. It's horrifying. Every copy of Super Mario 64 is personalized. Nintendo's experimental AI adapts and subtly creates a slightly altered version of the game tailored specifically for you, appealing to you subconsciously in ways you don't even notice, as well as attempting to mess with you and study how you react to it. Have you ever played someone else's copy of Mario 64? Have you ever felt like something was just a little bit off? That's why. That's how. This is much more than just simple experimentation with procedural generation, however. There are many layers to this, and some of them are more sinister and malicious than others. The secrets of the game are probably hidden within a single, personalized copy of somebody. A copy hidden from the masses by Nintendo to cover-up the truth about their experiment. What if the ROM that Nintendo uses for all the Virtual Consoles and shit are all the least-personalized ROM, that way they can cover your tracks. What if the ROM that is uploaded to all those pirate sites were uploaded by Nintendo, that way people wouldn't be able to replicate the personalization? It's messed [up]. This shit goes DEEP." --- WDW is a reference to the flooded past world. ancient giant buildings, sunken ground levels, sunken windows and entries. no one can make those buildings again. everyone in WDW is dead, only robots and bugs remain. --- Mario 64 carts all have a timer printed into the PCB that slowly counts down from #7FFFFF and when it reaches #000000 (which takes about 19 years) it removes all personalization. Also disassembling the cart will zero the timer and remove the personalization (mechanism is still unknown, but it's speculated that Nintendo built a light sensor into the PCB) --- ===== Mario if he Real, pt3 === Every copy of Super Mario 64 is personalized. Nintendo's experimental AI adapts and subtly creates a slightly altered version of the game tailored specifically for you, appealing to you subconsciously in ways you don't even notice, as well as attempting to mess with you and study how you react to it. Have you ever played someone else's copy of Mario 64? Have you ever felt like something was just a little bit off? That's why. That's how. This is much more than just simple experimentation with procedural generation, however. There are many layers to this, and some of them are more sinister and malicious than others. Super Mario 64 is, at its core, an insidious and evil work of human creation. --- I think it's secrets and theories getting more secret and intense (and shittier) the further down it goes. Take a look through this. Do not research. --- I see. How does that make every copy 'personalised'? --- None of this is actually real, but apparently Nintendo was able to create a super-early AI that learns what you like from the moment you put the cartridge in for the first time, and adapts the game ever so slightly to suit you, the player. Sometimes this resulted in strange things, like ghost Warios and beta builds being activated. Just saying again, none of this is actually real. --- Oh, OK. I'm way out of the loop, lol --- Yeah it's a fairly new thing. There's a lot of obscure videos about it on YouTube, starting with things like this, you can check it out but there's not really much to see. It says "DO NOT RESEARCH" everywhere but nothing will happen if you do. I'm looking through this stuff with mario sleeping infront of the water level entrance because a ghost of wario appears allegedly, not sure why but I find bullshit like this super interesting. Try googling each individual thing on the image. --- Hello, I'm new to this Reddit stuff so my apologies if I'm slow on things Disclaimer, this was at some friends house way back, and only met those kids once. Both copies of Mario 64 and goldeneye were quite different than the copies I got myself shortly after. I'm looking to see if anyone has ever heard of or seen a custom level from super Mario 64 dating back from approx. 1998-2001. This level, from what I remember, looked like Mario Kart 64's moo moo farm. Simple fence along the level, small beige pathway bringing you to an open field, trees spread around and an unkillable bowser that always one hit you way out back. Goombas were around, and you had access to some power-ups like the flying cap. You accessed it via a dirt pathway in the hills outside of peaches castle, right behind where Mario jumps out the pipe in the beginning. Didn't have any special loading screen, just the one star for that level. This has been bothering me for years, I swear I played and seen this level as a kid, I waited for Mario to go into his sleep animation on this red contraption I always called the tractor, so me and the other kids could go eat hotdogs for lunch. Not only that, a few months after this i got my own copy of Mario 64 and the console, i was sorely upset to find that level wasn't in my game, I spent the better half of two hours trying to crawl up that hill. I have up and shrugged it as a future level. 20 years have gone by and still haven't found it. Any help would be appreciated. Cheers. --- In relation to super mario 64, I have a memory that is a bit weird related to the boo in the basement Personal Story So, I remember back when I 1st played super mario 64, I was 5 or so, with a cousin older than me. He defeated the 1st bowser and gave me the control to explore the new areas while he went for a drink. I went to the 1st door I saw without a star, didn't see the stairs to the bottom so I instead went to the hallway where there's a boo. Now, never in my life I had saw a boo, but I though that, as any enemy, I could just punch it. Now, in the game, when you approach that boo, said boo retreats and escapes to the courtyard, filled with more boos, right?, well, when I approached the ghost, he started chasing me, it took a huge chunk of my health and I decided to run away to the safest place I knew, the main hall of the castle. The boo followed me there, and killed me. I turned off the console in fear. A week later, I got a nintendo 64 emulator from a family's friend so I decided to play super mario 64, I avoided the ghost hallway during my 1st playtrough. Then I started a new save file some years after that, and 1st thing I did was run to the hallway to try and fight back the ghost, nothing. Unless you have a set amount of stars, the boss don't generate in the courtyard, so I went back to play the game and defeat bowser to see them...then this motherfucker appeared from behind me and started chasing me, I tried to fight back but nothing worked. Angry, I restarted the game and ran back to the courtyard, I was going to defeat that boo and...nothing, no chase, no jumpscare, nada. I played the game as normal, unlocked the ghost house and the boo in the hallway acted as normal, running away and never attacking back. I assume this is simply a child memory that is fucked up due to time, but still, whenever I walk trough that hallway and see that ghost, I always expect it to chase me for intruding in the basement ----- Doesn't anybody else think that Wet Dry World from Mario 64 feels kind of weird. Its got a weird negative aura around it. --- Well now that you mention it, that texture in particular is very odd and out of place for a Mario game. Looks like AI generated middle eastern slums --- Yeah, plus there is that abandoned underwater town for some reason. --- Mario 64 has a weird thing on it, feels kind of awkward sometimes, scary, you feel alone in the castle,is so huge, there is no luigi, the tecnical limitations are the reason of this things looking creepy and strange (unintetionally) i guess... Some of the Skybox and all the levels/worlds structures are the reason why Mario 64 looks like a dream, 3d platforms and an image escalated to the whole level/world, that makes you think the levels are infinite,mysterious, even a limbo,a underworld, it's unique. --- I've always felt that Mario 64 has a weird vibe in general and that's why I love it. The, music, secrets, and emptiness of the castle make it a little creepy and it feels like you're in a 3D tech demo, those are reasons I feel why it got so many fake videos and edits back in the day. --- i remember having a dream about finding floating, husk-like figures floating in the flooded city. beside the corpses, i did enjoy getting to explore the inside of the building and all the other usual Dreaming About A Videogame type stuff. i'm pretty sure i got to play as luigi in that dream too, since that was another huge obsession of mine as a kid. still get weird vibes from wet dry world in general, though. if it wasnt for the chuck-ya, i think it'd feel too abandoned for comfort. --- =====
submitted by DoctorDarkstorm to u/DoctorDarkstorm [link] [comments]

Blazing Dance Upon The Sands

Aboard Heaven, exploring its various facilities...
Dante, currently spending time with his newest friend Vitus, leads them around the massive tank of Gjallarhorn. After getting to know one another, he had become curious about this whole alien hunting business that the young devil was involved in and was more than happy to accept the offer of a tour around the place. The both of them wore their blades upon their backs as well, Dante with his Sapphire and Vitus with his regally named Edelrouge--the two boys looking like a pair of swords in a scabbard. Wait....
Either way, Vitus seems terribly interested in the whole affair. They move from the lobby from which they entered, to various areas such as the dining room, training areas, libraries...all sorts. Dante explains each one as they arrive and also answers the many questions that are brought up as he occasionally mention stories of his ophionid encounters. While the two were busy having so much fun...
Dante's phone suddenly goes off. The two pausing a moment and stepping aside in a hallway, he answers it, noting who it was that was calling.
D: "Jennifer?"
J: "Oh good, you answered."
Jennifer--the sole weapon enchantress and magic expert at his mother's business, who had previously beset a large demon against Dante fist-to-spear in order to make him earn the very same weapon that was now on his backside.
D: "Well indeed, I have. What's the occasion? You don't call me...at all."
J: "Just wanted to give you a heads up. You remember how I had you throw down with a demon to earn Sapphire?"
D: "Yes, of course."
J: "I sure hope you aren't anywhere crowded, because I just sent a new one after you."
There's a brief pause as he process that, Vitus noticing his confusion.
D: "I--excuse me?"
J: "Did I stutter? There's a new demon I've summoned and it's out for your ass. Figured it was easier than trying to corral you from all the shit you do just to drop by the office."
D: "You've...sent a demon after me...like some assassin."
J: "Excellent work, Captain Obvious. Your mom decided it was time for you to fight for the next piece in your arsenal, which she's delegating to me from now on. So anytime I find a willing fucker to pass over in to our world, you best watch yourself. Also good luck."
She just hangs up then and there, causing him to be the one stuttering for a second. Putting his phone away, he looks around before cursing under his breath.
V: "I imagine you won't want to be hanging around this place by the time it shows up."
D: "I am so sorry, we need to cut this short, yes. I need to head out before it finds me....this is just like with that Prometheus."
V: "You haven't told me that one yet. You'll have to give me that story once we've killed whatever's after you."
D: "Yes, of cou--wait, we?"
V: "Yes, we, you foolish boy. As if I'm going to leave you to fight for your life all alone. This woman seems to have a strange idea about tests."
D: "It is likely influence after what my mother went through to reach where she is today...I--Vitus, I don't want to endanger you unnecessarily."
V: "I'm a big boy, Dante, with an even bigger sword. We'll handle it together, alright? You trust your hunting mates, don't you? Trust me."
Dante sighs through his nose in to a smile, nodding.
D: "Very well. Come, let's hope we can meet it before it finds Gjallarhorn."
Sharing a quick clasp of their hands, the two then jog out of the place and back in to the Texan desert, taking the car they had used to get there in the first place to go find this beast by heading in the direction of Stellarim--where it will have inevitably come from. Or at least close by. Vitus keeps his eyes open, and appreciates the fact he often wears the glasses that he does as they block out much of the sun's assault on one's vision.
They search and search, moving down the road...still nothing. They've slowed their roll for now to more thoroughly scan the area, the two of them each having a water bottle to deal with the sun as--
They both suddenly pause and stare at one another.
D: "Vitus, what time is it?"
V: "My phone says it's...10:30pm. Night time."
D: "Yes, it was quite late when we arrived."
Turning simultaneously, they stare up at the 'sun' that had been following them the whole time, brightly lighting the whole area around itself. A couple of large, warped blades suddenly fire out from its position and lodge in to the jeep they had, both of them bailing via dodge roll and hitting the sand, making distance quick as they could. Within moments, the blades explode, shredding the vehicle in to chunks as they get to their feet and draw their blades...the "sun" dies down some of its brightness while descending towards them, a feminine chuckle sounding from it that echoes through the air unnaturally--two of the blades behind itself missing, but reappearing quickly enough.
D: "I can't believe I didn't notice something was off the moment we stepped outside..."
V: "That's what you get for thinking so much about me."
D: "Hey now."
The demon laughs a little more heartily at that, then slowly spreading her arms out to the sides to open them.
V: "And what may we do for you tonight, ma'am?"
?: "Such polite young men...unlike the many humans I have encountered thus far. A welcome change of pace, it is such a shame that you must die. Don't fret...you may feel honored in knowing you've aided me in my cause."
D: "Ambition, then. For what reason, however?"
She folds her arms while resting a finger against her chin, making another sultry chuckle.
?: "I'll tell you what...if you win--and I don't expect you to--then I will tell you everything in detail."
D: "I imagine miss Jennifer sent you my way with promise of the strength I hold...and what would you do should you be the one who's soul is committed to another's purpose, hm?"
?: "Oh, don't think I didn't notice that cute knife of yours...brimming with the same magic potential as myself. I wonder if I used to know whoever it is...not that it matters. Well, if we're speaking in hypotheticals...let's make a deal, boy. I'm going to kill you, that much is certain. But should you be the victor...then not only shall I tell you the why of what I do--but I will aid you just as that blade now does."
V: "A fair deal."
D: "But it will be far from a fair fight."
?: "Polite and smart boys, I've been handed quite the prize~. Now then--oh!"
Dante launches one of his wingarms forward, disconnecting the hand as it grapple his foe and yank her in--she's light enough that she's the one brought to him rather than the other way around. Several of her blades move to block the incoming thrust from his blade, clashing with it as they were practically pressed together.
?: "So forceful, I like that~."
Rather than being able to retaliate, she has to quickly send another fan of them to block the incoming strike from Vitus, the demonic being then knocking both boys away with a show of strength. They tumble a bit but flip to get back on their feet, the woman's body bursting to life with a greater, hotter flame, her many swords pointed at the two like a volley of spears. Throwing her arm out with a passionate yell, she twists her body with the movement as several blades launch towards them. They run straight ahead while deflecting and dodging as necessary, continuing to close the gap--but being forced to further distance themselves when a seductive pose is struck by the demon, causing all the blades embedded in the sand to explode. She spins once in the air with a laugh as within seconds they all reappear around her in that sun-like shape once again, Dante taking note of her dance like movements and flourish. He sprints towards her in a bid to gain her attention, several of her weapons coming together to stab towards him on approach. A reactionary movement occurs as he leap upwards and step off of them, realizing that they held enough tension to be used as platforms, from which he jumps while slashing towards her. Her remaining blades form a large circular fan to block the attack and she swings an arm as if conducting a concert--causing the ones that had been launched earlier to detonate, sending a cloud of sand towards Vitus and keeping him from attacking from behind as he had intended.
V: "Damn!"
Her attention returns to Dante, still clashing with her shield. She peeks over it with a narrow and teasing look to her eyes...only to have him pull his blade away and spin his body around the collection of swords in order to bash Sapphire's handle in to her face, the woman gasping sharply as she's knocked to the side mid-air by it. It comes at a cost, Dante's back being pierced in a few places by pressing against the earlier shield to use it, but a minor wound for a minor wound was nothing to worry about as he fell back down to the sands below.
?: "Oh, such brutish tactics, harming a lady like that...I know of a proper punishment!"
Swinging her arms out again, her many blades all fly out and upwards to hang above the boys like a flaming rain. Without hesitation she sends them crashing down, the two swinging at groups of them on the way down to keep from being bisected by them, but were soon surrounded on all sides by these mine-like blades.
?: "I win--as I knew I would!"
She holds her arm out, ready to snap her fingers and blow them to hell and back. In a desperate measure, Dante activates his devil trigger, causing a huge shockwave to ring out from his position and knock all the mines away, sending them far enough to explode safely away from him and Vitus. The demon gasps at the sudden disruption in her well earned victory, the devil rolling his neck a moment.
D: "Try not to celebrate so soon, lady. Didn't figure you'd be the one between us to be so premature."
V: "...Well it seems you're full of surprises, aren't you?"
?: "Mgh...my mistake. That damn sword of yours...I must have been feeling the devil in that and not the one in you."
D: "And some say I talk too much!"
He and Vitus both rush in and she's forced to try and dodge, her blades having not returned quite yet. While Dante's slash whiffs, she's pushed directly in to his ally's strike and she makes a cry of pain from it, Edelrouge seeming to glow slightly brighter red from drawing her boiling blood. On reaction, she uses her blades' return to put up a shield against Vitus--only to then scream again from Dante ramming his own blade through her shoulder, rending the blade upwards while leaping off her body. The spray of hot blood covers Vitus and he winces a bit at the heat, but it's not enough to hurt him--if anything, with more of it spattering his person, his blade seems to feast upon the liquid, clearing him off by simply absorbing it in proximity.
D: "I mean...spoilers, I do. Hey! Vitus. Why's your sword doing that glowy shit?"
V: "You're like an entirely different person."
D: "I am."
The demon is using their moment of banter to crawl away for a moment ,finally able to get herself floating again with her blades surrounding her in another pointed, artillery like fashion aimed at the two.
V: "Make me another opening. If she tastes blood one more time, I'll show you why she glows."
?: "Speaking as if I am simply not even here...you wound my heart, little devil."
D: "Look if you're that thirsty for me then let's get your ass kicking over with. Lord knows I'll have my hands all over you once you're my next weapon."
While normally such flirting is in her ballpark, the fact it's a threat--and that she's been wounded by this...this...human and his halfling friend is making her quite upset. Throwing her arms out again, another showing of her body in a wide flourish sends forth the volley of blades at the two, Vitus having to remain on the defensive while still making space to avoid the mines that land all around him. Dante however seems to get sick of her projectile bullshit and has noticed by now that she only detonates her weapons after firing or thrusting them. Not once has she used them as traditional blades...as such, he grabs three of them out of the air from her volley, one in his free arm and one in each wingarm, then flips them around and hurls them by back at her. She gasps in shock as if horribly offended by the notion of him turning her own attacks against her, all three of them sticking in various parts of her body as they draw her heated blood. The inevitable confusion from this has not only kept her from detonating the mines she does have out, but given Vitus the opening he needs. He leaps upwards off of a blade that was stuck in the ground and slashes at her torso, the demon crying out again as she fall back out of the air and hit the ground from the fact she's been wounded. Edelrouge is now practically flashing with red light after tasting sufficient blood, Dante and his ally reconvening and allowing the demon the time she needs to pull her blades from her own gravely wounded body.
D: "Alright, come on. Let's see it."
V: "I think I like this new side of you. Or is it how you truly are, and you simply only show that when you transform?"
D: "Been there, asked that, still don't have the answer."
V: "Ha! Very well."
Raising his red sword, Vitus then swings it downwards in to a two-handed grip in front of himself, gritting his teeth. A shockwave much like Dante's earlier one sends a cloud of sand flying outward from his position, Dante spitting some out that got in his mouth and waving away some from the air with a grumble. From that very same cloud Vitus bursts outward with renewed vigor and improved speed--his hair having changed to a shining crimson color now. His friend watches him zoom by with a whistle, the blood fueled swordsman assaulting his demonic foe with heavier, yet somehow, faster blows from his weapon--like he's entered a frenzied state. While she's shielding against them with what little blades she has remaining, the others having yet to detonate, she's being pushed further and further back as a result. An angry growl sounds from her as she's pressured heavily, and she's eager to punish the carelessness on display behind Vitus...
When she has the opportunity, she leaps in to the air and places her shield beneath her, the inevitable attack from the frenzied blade sending her further upwards and out of range. Grinning cruelly, she breaks the shield apart and launches the blades consisting it at Vitus...and past him, a couple of them finding their mark as they stab in to Dante's own demonic flesh, the others having been smacked out of the air by his weapon.
?: "You will die with me, boy! If nothing else, I WILL have th--!!!"
....out of range for him to attack from the ground, but not out of his extended range to give chase. Inhuman strength allows Vitus to leap upwards in to the air to catch up with the woman while thrusting his blade upwards, impaling her through the gut and out her backside. It's more than enough time for Dante to rip the blades out of himself and toss them aside, then using his triple jump to close the distance with his friend and also stab through her upper body. Then kicking off of each other, their blades slice brutally outwards to differing sides and cover the sand with bubbling hot blood, the woman unable to even make a scream of agony. She'd been thoroughly defeated, and ends up splatting on to the sands below once she fell out of the air--the light fading from around her, the night returning its moonlit gaze to their position from the darkening. Dante's devil trigger comes to an end and he winces a bit, thankful that the stabbings he'd taken hadn't been particularly deep. He'd be fine. Vitus meanwhile catches his breath as his own transformation state slowly came to a halt, the platinum blond color returning while the scarlet red recede and fade. Edelrouge is no longer glowing either, and he lets out a heavy sigh after placing the weapon upon his back. Slowly, the blades left in the ground begin to fade away, leaving only the dull and heavily damaged body of the demoness--Dante approaching and kneeling down beside her. Her breathing is labored, and she turns her head towards him.
?: "Not one....but two magical blades. Were those just...any old chunks of sharp metal, you would have been helpless before me."
D: "Well unfortunately, my dear, this 'knife' of mine is more than just cute. Which is nothing to say of our teamwork...I'm willing to bet you my very soul that even without those weapons--we would have fought back just as much by using your own against you."
She makes a slight laugh, reaching up and gently stroking a her fingers along his face.
?: "Like I said...polite and smart. Fine....fine. You win. I'll honor the deal."
V: "I imagine you wouldn't have much choice either way."
?: "Ah-ah. I very well could have just clammed up like that pretty blue sword of his. How angry is she about being made in to your tool, hm?"
D: "Oh, she hasn't made a peep since the day I killed her."
?: "I knew it."
D: "Say...what should I call you, by the way? You never introduced yourself."
?: "My name before doesn't matter now, dear. I assume you named that sword of yours already, no?"
Her body begins to fade and become more and more ethereal. Eventually, she's gone--in her place, a bright white orb of some sort floating above the sand, which Dante holds his hand out towards. It flies over towards him and smacks against his palm, vanishing on contact--and a moment later, a flash of blue light appears upon his left shoulder, taking shape and creating a strange, clawed pauldron upon it. The 'wings' it sports unfold and display themselves like the claws of a mantis, showcasing their flexibility with positioning. The demoness's voice sounds from it.
?: "Then give me my name, little devil...and I'll bear it with pride. Even if blue isn't really my thing~."
Dante stands up while Vitus whistle a bit, admiring the fancy new toy he seems to have. Thinking a moment, his gaze turns upwards towards the night sky, this time to the moon that lit their place in the desert, rather than the murderous sun that recently bore down on them.
D: "...Very well. Then you shall be called...Midnight."
M: "I love it~. Oh, and one last thing...make sure not to disappoint me. I wouldn't want to be seen in a fight being used by someone so brutish and unrefined in their attacks, I'm sure you understand."
While casually reaching around towards one of the claws to see how she works, it simply pulls away from him out of reach, causing him to let out a soft laugh.
D: "Well...lucky me, I already enjoy showing off. I guess I just need to put a more elegant spin on that to satisfy you, then?"
M: "Smart boy~."
D: "Careful, you're sounding like a broken record. Flattery might just get you places."
He and Vitus share a laugh at that.
M: "We'll see, won't we? Go ahead. Show me you can dance on the battlefield, little devil."
He nods, turning to his friend, gesturing for him to come closer. He looks a little confused, but then it dawns on him, and he smiles. After finishing with catching their breath, Dante places the blue rose Midnight gives him between his teeth--then they grasp one another's hand for leverage and spin away from one another in to extravagant poses, Midnight's claws flourishing once again and moving with Dante's body to constantly keep their tips close enough to grab at. A graceful twist in tandem with him pulling a long ethereal sword from one of the claws is followed by him noticing just how light the blade was, and using his next movement to throw it like any knife towards a nearby cactus. It impales in to the target easily and he swings back around towards Vitus as the two catch one another, Dante pulling another blade out and slowly pulling it in to position between himself and his friend, both locking their eyes with one another. Lifting Dante up to help him swing in to his next throw, the blade lodges in to a nearby stone followed by Dante drawing two additional swords afterward, one in each hand. He twists around to face his partner while throwing the sword straight to him, Vitus catching it and throwing it in to the sand between the stone and cactus, Dante throwing the final one with pinpoint precision to stick in the sand beside the third in such a way that they form an 'X' with their positions. Afterward, the two dancers move closer once more and stand quite close together, the rose being pulled from between his jaws and held between the two...then, is simply let go of, the plant drifting to the sand below. When it finally touched the sand, the four blades all exploded violently, creating a vast cloud of sand, stone, and needles that soon collapses to the ground. A new rose appears from the mandibles of Midnight's skull, at the ready for the next performance as Dante finish with a clap of his hands in to a pose echoing the former foe's own during their fight--his arms out to the sides, head tilted while his expression remain seductive.
M: "Bravo! Precisely what I'm looking for. I think this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship."
Both boys exit their finishing poses, Midnight folding her claws to have them hover just away from Dante's backside, adjacent to Sapphire.
V: "That was fun."
D: "Perhaps you and I could dance again sometime?"
V: "Is that a rhetorical question?"
They share a laugh, then they both wince, remembering their exhaustion and wounds.
D: "Ah...perhaps a better question would be 'how are we going to get back without the jeep'."
V: "True....uh...was that big tank closer? Or your school?"
D: "I don't know, actually."
V: "Dammit. Okay, uh...you said you have a connection to other vampires of the same blood, right? Which direction is the closest signal?"
D: "Over....there. So that would be the direction Devil is in."
V: "Better than nothing. Let's get walking, and be grateful all that exertion is keeping us warm for now. Deserts tend to get...nippy during the night time."
M: "Let's not forget it's my boiling hot blood you two are covered in."
D: "Yes yes, we remember. Let's get walking, shall we?"
The two of them share a fist bump before they get moving, making the trek back to Devil.
Devil Academy, main lobby.
Together, Dante and Vitus stroll--or moreso mildly limp their way in to the main building, letting out heavy sighs of relief at the comfortable temperature indoors. Both of them are covered in blood and sand alike.
D: "Oh, thank goodness, we made it."
V: "Yeah...hey, where's the nurse in this place? I want you to get looked at."
D: "It's nothing, just a few shallow stab wounds."
V: "Wow, you were only stabbed by blazing hot swords. Come on, for me?"
D: "...Alright. I can't say no to that."
M: "How cute~."
Anyone come across the two as they make their way to the nurse's office?
submitted by Waffles-No-Okami to Devilrp [link] [comments]

IG Spread Betting Platform Review Pro Real Time Charts - IG Index - Spreadbetting Beginner Using our trading platform Demo Account vs Real Account. Should you use a Demo Trading Account? Part 1 DEMO - Virtual Football platform - Golden Race

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IG Spread Betting Platform Review

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