Exploring the Network (JoRu)

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Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
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Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
#1


It is 50 years past the present day, 2068 AD. The threat of nuclear war has spurred nations to cooperate, for once, and work together to advance technologies for space exploration and travel. A recent development, still highly experimental and limited to scarce, private corporations are the so-called "Networking Tools". They allow their user to create miracles, of destruction or creation, by their intention. The applications of this almost magical technology are immense, and range from terraforming to tinkering to transportation. Of particular interest is a pair of rogue workers, who, straying from the law, have managed to discover the Networking Tools. It is this story that we are about to tell.

Characters Clifford Hahngar Cassandra Marlin NPCs

  • Primary Characters
      Clifford Hahngar (played by Eru Eru )
    Cassandra Marlin (played by Joan Joan )

    Secondary Characters and NPCS
      None yet! To be added as the roleplay progresses.
  • Clifford Hahngar
      Gender: Male
    Age: 35
    Appearance: nothin here yet

    Personality: number one criminal in continental states of america (or so he thinks), quite proud of his accomplishments (think Carmen Sandiego and Megamind)

    Biography: Criminal! For some reason or other. Perhaps it's the thrill of the chase?

    Powers: Energy manipulation of elements. Choose fire, earth or electricity. Can heal by touching the element, but is otherwise immune to it.



    WIP ( Eru Eru )

    Plotist CS can be found here and should be updated alongside.
  • Cassandra Marlin
      Gender: Female
    Age: 33
    Appearance: Cassandra stands at around 5'4" and has a slim, compact, powerful build. When given a choice, she generally carries herself with her head held high and a straight back, although this also often shifts to head bowed and shoulders hunched over around certain people. She adapts to new situations with ease, expression and posture shifting to what she thinks will get her the best results from the people she interacts with.

    Her skin is tanned and often marred by the odd smudge of dirt or grease, with various small scars from her time on the streets. Her face is bright and intelligent, framed by thick dark brown hair with narrow brown eyes and a sly smile. Her fingers are long and thin, often moving swiftly across a keyboard or moving to unscrew something. She generally wears a close-fitting pair of comfortable pants and long-sleeve shirt or tanktop, along with boots and a perpetual long jacket made out of sturdy canvas. She tends towards dark reds and purples, but often wears black or grey outer layers for practical reasons.

    Personality:
    -Sneaky hacker lady
    -Somewhat manipulative when she has to work with others
    -Prefers to keep a low profile

    Biography:
    -Started out as street kid by necessity (why?)
    -Rose through the ranks, gained quite a bit of cred
    -Learned how to hack because it's important, along with other survival skills
    -Eventually managed to become mostly independent, this job she was gonna cut loose from her domineering group and run off with the tech

    Powers: Forcefield manipulation/telekinesis with said forcefields, technomancy stuffs (technology manipulation and whatnot)



    heavy WIP

    Plotist CS can be found here, and should be updated alongside this.
  • Doctor Edward Scholl
      The mind behind the Networking Tools.

    more info and image tba


Lore Networking Tools Organizations

  • Check out the other tabs for this!

    Plotist

  • The Networking Tools draw from The C-Flux Network, a universal network energy that seems limitless in potential. However, it is unable to be harnessed without the special tools developed to do so, hence why their nature is so secretly kept. It is used firstly as a source of fierce, raw power, to fuel gigantic operations and vehicles, and secondly allowing for stuff like fancy weaponry, space travel, superpower implants, and other applications.
  • Equinox
      The corporation behind the original Networking Tools. They have a ton of resources and are perfectly willing to use them in less-than-legal ways.

    The Foxes
      A small but powerful criminal organization, currently making their way to the top at an alarmingly fast pace.

    more tba
 
Last edited:

Eru

"It's dangerous to go alone."
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#2
1. Cliff
  Rain fell down in sheets upon the neon lights of the city's nightscape. The few citizens who were still out enjoying the night hours were forced to scurry along the streets helter-skelter, rushing inside nearby bars and hostels to seek shelter and warmth. Surely, nobody wanted to be out in this weather, not when one could enjoy the pleasures of the night inside just as well.

Nobody, that is, except for a certain someone bent on greatness.

This certain someone was inconspicuous at first, aside from remaining outside when others did not. His clothing was that of a typical cargo pilot, certainly a new job in these days but no longer a rarity to be seen. Nothing over-assuming, but nothing cheap, either. It looked to be waterproof, as well, to the eyes of those who glanced at him from within the paneled windows along the avenue he strode. Indeed, if anything it was his confidence that set him apart from the rest. A little rain wouldn't bother him, it seemed, a smile tugging at his shrouded face as he made his way to the city's central MagLev transport station. Inside, he paid for his ticket, awaited his ride, and departed for a destination unknown.

He had no idea of the chaos that would erupt very soon. Though, he had an idea of how it might begin.

  An hour later, explosions rocked Equinox, an experimental research facility who were recently rumored to have made a great scientific breakthrough. The public theories had swirled into a craze on forums and talk shows, and the hubbub was enough that somebody must have decided to take matters into their own hands.

And so it would seem. When security forces staggered their way into the vault, weapons raised high through the smoke and debris in the air, they were too late to see anything but a glimpse - a glimpse of a cargo pilot's coat, disappearing again into the ceiling. In the center of this vault, a pedestal stood, a broken and empty glass aquarium atop it. Rushing by the pedestal in their haste to apprehend the thief, they didn't need to read its label to know they were in deep trouble if the contents could not be recovered quickly:

HIGHLY EXPERIMENTAL
Networking Tools - Exclusive Operation Within C-Flux Network
Specimens CF-NT001 & CF-NT002
DO NOT REMOVE WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION FROM DR. EDWARD SCHOLL

Moments later, the sound of an armada of troopers echoed through the halls. They pounded down the path toward an armory in the west wing, and just seconds after the last one had turned a corner, the cargo pilot slid out of a hall locker. In one hand was a shotgun; in the other, the case containing specimens CF-NT001 and CF-NT002. Without any further delay, the pilot tore down the hall, following the signs to the facility's private hangar. With any luck, he'd be able to commandeer a transport back to the city's launchpad. And from there? Well, he'd just have to wing it.

   Joan Joan
 

Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
Soap
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
#3
2. Cass

  Cassandra had been waiting for this opportunity for years.

Equinox had cropped up only a short time ago, and already, they were well on their way to making history. Well, internet history, at least. The rumors about their new breakthrough were absolutely insane, raging from talk about fancy new weapons, to new security measures, to things as insane as an infinitely sustainable energy source. Whatever it was, it had already attracted plenty of attention, and the leader of the Foxes had decided it was time to go for it before somebody else could.

So, they sent Cassandra, who had served them faithfully for years. Equinox's facility was new, and while they appeared to be well-funded, they hadn't had enough time to set up any super sophisticated security systems. Piece of cake. And afterward, she would disappear, and sell the "breakthrough" on her own. She would finally be free of the Foxes, and maybe free to live her life as she saw fit for once.

At least, that was the plan.

  Cassandra was already in the facility when the explosions rocked the building and the alarms went off. She froze, hunched over a vent opening she had been unlocking. No...no!! This can't be happening! It can't!!

Even in her anger and panic, however, she knew that this vent lay along one of the patrol paths to the vault, and with a barely-suppressed hiss, she finished tapping in the code and slid the vent cover off. She had barely slid it back into place before the guards came charging past, and she allowed herself a moment of relief before doing the math in her head.

According to the layout of the building and security system she had memorized, the most sensible way out would be the private hanger. It was in the opposite direction of the armory, for one thing, and for another, it was a fairly direct route from the vault. Assuming the person who had so rudely gotten there before her was going directly from the vault, whether it be through vents or hall, she could get there quicker from where she was now, even allowing for how much slower going through vents was.

Not if you don't move, Cass. So move.

Making sure the vent was locked behind her, she crawled through the vents as quickly as she could, taking each turn by memory. Soon enough, she judged she was in the hanger bay, and she slid a small handheld device out of her sleeve, tapping in the same code she had with the earlier vent. The vent below her clicked open, and she shoved it slightly to the side.

Then, with a smile, she pulled first one, then two pistols out of hip holsters and twisted herself around into a crouching position, ready to kick the vent out. When this other would-be thief showed up, she would drop down in front of them and demand that they hand it over.

Now, she just had to hope her instincts had been right, but then again, they usually were, so she wasn't too concerned.
 

Eru

"It's dangerous to go alone."
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#4
3. Ouch
  The clatter of a solitary pair of military-grade boots echoed off the otherwise quiet corridors as the cargo pilot sped along, following a well-marked route to the facility's hangar. This had been almost too easy. It was true that the hangar itself might be a bit more difficult to enter, but the thief had a contingency plan for this, too. In a moment, he spun on his heel, for he'd seen the particular room he'd been keeping an eye out for: 'Maintenance Supplies'. Crashing the door open, the pilot leveled his shotgun at the room. The only occupant was a nerve-wracked janitorial employee, his hands shooting up to the sky.

"I'm not worth it! I only g-get minimum wage!!" The janitor's voice cracked, and he yelped when the shotgun's barrel faced him squarely in the eye, the pilot's face sternly glowering atop that. "Obviously." The pilot waved his gun toward a duffel bag set along a row of lockers. "Throw your badge, keys, and a clean uniform in that, and be quick. And remember," he said with a finger set seriously to his lips, cocking the gun, "you didn't see anything."

Not a minute later, the door clanged shut again, and the pilot disappeared. He could hear in the distance the sound of metal on steel; the guards were beginning to catch up. He was nearly at the hangar, luckily. Only an elevator ride, then a quick jaunt across the access corridor. The badge and keys he'd swiped from the janitor ought to allow him anywhere. It was amazing how much access cleaning crews were given, in any corporation. The pilot strode up to the elevator, punched in the hangar's floor number, and looked up in surprise as lasers began to puncture the wall behind him. It seems the guards had caught up much faster than expected. The pilot punched the control panel, sidestepping the lasers as the doors slammed close and the elevator began to rise.

Too close. He holstered his gun and wiped his forehead, grasping the specimen case tightly with his other hand.
This had better be worth it...

In another moment, the elevator doors opened again. The access corridor. The pilot veritably flew across the short hall, scanning the janitor's badge to enter the hangar bay, and was promptly assaulted from above.
 

Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
Soap
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
#5
4. Drop
  She had expected to have to wait longer. She had been perched there for a few moments--just enough to get comfortable--before she heard running footsteps and the door opened. Taking the briefest of glances to confirm that the person below her wasn't wearing a guard uniform, she kicked the vent down onto the floor and dropped down after it.

The vent was near the door and her timing was off because of the moment she had taken to check, and she found herself landing nearly on top of the runner. It wasn't quite on top, but it was definitely a near thing, and she was grateful she had managed to land solidly on her feet at all. At least it would probably make the runner stagger back a bit. Now that she was down, however, she wasted no time.

"Drop it!" She kept her pistols aimed at the runner and took a quick step back to make sure he couldn't just shove her aside. Now that she was down here, she could take a bit of a better look at him, and her eyebrow raised just a tad. A cargo pilot? Really? Though his gear is actually pretty solid...more than he seems. She noted the shotgun with a bit of concern. Sure, she had an exit plan, namely the hovertruck behind her, but the other gun was going to complicate things a bit.

Then her eyes fell on the case in his hand, and her knuckles whitened as she raised her voice. "Drop it, now! I'm not asking!" Her tone was harsh, angry, not giving away any inner anxiety she might feel. Her expression matched, dark eyebrows drawn tightly together and eyes blazing with fury. That case was what she needed to get out of the place she had been stuck for the better part of her life, and in that moment, she was prepared to fight for it at nearly all costs. Nearly all.
 

Eru

"It's dangerous to go alone."
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#6
5. Fate
  "Oooof!" The exclamation came in surprise as the pilot was knocked off-balance, falling to the floor on his behind.
"Drop it!"
Enraged at the attack and the delay, the pilot only snarled at his assailant.
"Drop it, now! I'm not asking!"
"Fine,
fine! I'd rather get out of here without another bullet hole, thank you very much." He let his shotgun clatter to the floor, but kept the case and duffel bag tightly grasped in his hands.

Cliff stared up at the woman, attempting to take everything in at once, though there wasn't much time to register the details. Glaring at him from a lightly tanned face underneath glowering eyebrows, she was furious. She was also a wild card. If she'd been part of Equinox, he'd have known about her existence, he was sure of it. Therefore... his eyes strayed to the case he held tightly. Of course. He rolled his eyes.

"Let me guess, you want these?" Cliff lifted the case up a bit, swinging it slightly. "Well, a bit of a problem with that; I'm not letting anyone else take them out of here but me." He swung it around to reveal a thin metal casing with a blinking light, haphazardly stuck to the side with a sticky adhesive. "This is a neutrino bomb," Cliff began to explain, raising one eyebrow wickedly. "One word from me, and in the blink of an eye, you'll be nothing more than a whiff of ash."

"Or," he said thoughtfully, "we could escape together. You seem to know your way around." He eyed the ceiling vent the woman had dropped from. "Could use a co-pilot, getting out of here, at least."

"It's your choice. Live or die. Seems fair, yeah?" Cliff's ears perked up; the sound of the elevator lift nearing their level once again. "Better hurry."
 

Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
Soap
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
#7
6. Reluctance
  The apparent cargo pilot dropped his gun and seemed to take a moment to size her up. Before she could tell him she hadn't been talking about the gun, he figured out what she was after and flipped the case around, revealing what he claimed was a bomb. Her breath caught in her throat as she stared at it. She really should have seen this coming, but now that it was here, she couldn't determine if he was bluffing. It looked real enough, at least from this distance, and yet...

"You're bluffing," she mumbled as he offered to take her with him. "No way you would make an offer like that if you weren't bluffing." Or is there?

She heard the elevator coming up as well, but she didn't take her eyes off the cargo pilot. There wasn't time to risk it. He could be telling the truth, or he could be bluffing. Either way, there wasn't enough time to figure it out, and if she guessed wrong, she was dead. She would have more of a chance on the truck than she would here, at the very least.

"Fine," she hissed, raising her guns to point toward the door and stepping to the side. One pistol went back in the holster, and she pulled a different handheld device out of her pocket. "I can lock the door quickly and buy us some time. You see if you can get that truck started. And you're not making it out of here without my help, so don't even try to fly off without me, got it?"
 

Eru

"It's dangerous to go alone."
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#8
7. Bomboozled
  "That sounds perfectly acceptable given our current circumstances, lady," the pilot exclaimed, his free hand skittering across the floor to retrieve his weapon. "Get to it, they'll be up here any second! I'll start the engines; won't go till you're back, or my name's not John Johnson!" He scrambled to his feet, virtually flying along the hallway into the dimly lit hangar.

Luckily, my name ISN'T John Johnson, Cliff thought with a grin that was entirely too wry, given his current circumstances. In a moment, he'd located the transport he thought least likely to attract attention, for whatever twisted reason -- it was one of several unmarked shuttle-class vehicles parked in a floor bay, this one showing less signs of wear and tear on its hull than the others did.

Of course, Cliff took this all in at a glance, his expert eye for mechanics selecting the one most likely to withstand a beating. Fortunately for him, his analysis turned out to be correct. Unfortunately, he failed to see the forest for the trees, and skidded completely past a flashing yellow sign proclaiming "REFUELING IN PROGRESS".

Gaining entry to the shuttle's controls took but a second, and Cliff deposited the metal case onto the copilot's seat, slinging his duffel bag across his shoulders as he began to flip switches. "Flight checklist? Manual override," he stated smartly, fully engaging the forward thrust while strapping in.The shuttle lurched forward, and just as quickly snapped to a stop, Cliff bouncing off the controls.

"Dammit! What's locking this bird down!?" Cliff scanned the overhead warning array, nearly popping his eyes out when he saw the source of the problem. On the rear camera, 10 meters behind the shuttle was trailing a chunk of the hangar's wall, with an absolute disaster of wires and engine fuel attached to it. "Fuel pumps? MANUAL OVERRIDE," Cliff veritably roared, smashing the button into its panel. A whir and a leap indicated success; a klaxon and a light indicated another headache -- the fuel tanks had not been sealed, and Cliff bashed his head against the warning array in what he decided was a purposeful motion.

"Sealing fuel ports!"
"Initiating emergency operation protocol!"
"Smashing this blasted klaxon with my fist!"

And that did it. Cliff's hand hovered over the vertical thrust... but try as he might, he couldn't leave behind a partner in crime. It was too cruel; besides, she might have something else valuable he could purloin before dropping her off at a station very far away from here. Cliff gave a very small sigh, then made up his mind. He swung the shuttle around and lowered the rear boarding ramp, calling out over the shuttle's loudspeaker system:

"Love, hurry up! We're gonna have company!"
 

Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
Soap
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
#9
8. Surprise
  That can't be his real name, she thought as he rushed off. I have a bad feeling about this, but I can't exactly back out now, can I?

The pounding of boots pulled her out of her thoughts. She punched a sequence into the handheld and, a moment later, was rewarded by the sound of frustrated voices on the other side of the door. With a faint smile of satisfaction, she turned to see where the pilot had gone off to, but before she could make it far, the guards started pounding on the door, and she whipped her head around in time to see a large dent.

Shit, how are they doing that much damage already??

It was then that the pilot called out to her, and she turned again to see that he had pulled up behind her. He pulled through after all, huh?

“You're telling me!” She yelled back, sprinting up the ramp and tightening her grip on her gun. Once she was safely inside, she glanced behind her in time to see the door buckling under whatever force the guards were using against it. A battering ram, maybe?

“I'm in, now get us the hell out of here!” She fired a round in the direction of the door, just to be on the safe side, before turning and making her way toward the front of the shuttle. The pilot may have chosen voluntarily to not leave her behind, and that said a lot in and of itself, but she still doubted he was going to just give up the case, not after his little display with the supposed bomb. She would have to figure out a way to get it from him safely, and it would have to be before they landed, since she doubted he would stick around for long after that.
 

Eru

"It's dangerous to go alone."
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#10
9. Escape
  "With pleasure!" Cliff immediately plunged the throttles to their limits, closing the shuttle's rear hatch with his elbow at the same time. A whirring noise accompanied the shuttle's ascent, as it rose dangerously fast above the hangar walls into the night sky above. It hung in midair for a second, pivoted, then shot forward as Cliff throttled up again in a giddy race to space. Inside, he began to cackle incoherently as he realized how little now stood in the way of freedom.

"Look, look! We're so high above the city now! Come here, come here!" The girl must think he was a child, but Cliff didn't care. He had finally come so far. Far beneath, the pedestrian lanes and bus routes he'd known since forever now looked little more than scales on a giant animal, crisscrossing in an endless pattern. How absurdly unimportant it all was now, though. This... this was something else.

And then, the illusion of freedom was abruptly shattered by a voice screaming over the communications console. Cliff nearly fell out of his chair in shock, jostling the controls and sending the shuttle into a vertical inversion.

"This is Officer Scholl of Equinox, hailing shuttle 00XC. You have violated seventeen regulations and are in possession of an abducted vessel. Return to port immediately, or you will be met with force. I repeat: this is Officer Scholl. Return immediately. Over."

"They're bluffing, of course," Cliff replied, more composed now that he was securely holding onto the pilot's chair from the ceiling. He looked back at the cargo hold. "You alright back there, love? Sorry about all this, I'll make it worth your while." Apparently satisfied with the response, he grabbed the joystick to flip them right-side up again, sliding back into the pilot's seat to send a reply.

"WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK I AM?"
"Me, return to port? As if! You get back there yourself, you little scallywag. You can't take the sky from me."

Ridiculously pleased with himself, Cliff closed communications, sat back and smoothed his hair, spinning his chair around with the duffel bag in his lap. He pointed to the chair beside his own, and asked his passenger with a huge grin, "Won't you take a seat? It's going to be a bit bumpy." As if to prove his point, the ship rocked violently, and a missile flew into sight past the controls, exploding into a cloud of shrapnel. This hit the cockpit in a flood of shards and tinkling, and Cliff's grin only grew wider. "Exciting, isn't it?"
 

Joan

"You'll never be alone."
DONATING MEMBER
Soap
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
My Usual Online Time
Anytime I have internet access, honestly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I do like to have a hand in the plot if I can, but it doesn't matter that much.
Favorite Genres
Science fiction
Modern
Fantasy
Horror
Survival
Naturally developed romance
OC Fandom (ask about my fandoms!)
Genre You DON'T Like
Romance-centric/Pre-planned romance
Sex-centric
Furry
Trope-y anime
Fandom with canon characters
Plain slice-of-life
#11
10. Fear
  
As Cass made her way toward the front of the shuttle, she tucked her pistols back into their holsters and reached up to bundle her hair into a rough ponytail. She snapped a hair tie around it and reached down again, resting her left hand on the corresponding gun. The shuttle jolted forward as she reached the cockpit, and she found herself grabbing for the doorframe with her free hand to steady herself.

In front of her, she could see the pilot giggling like a child given a new toy. She could see why, too. They were higher than she had ever been, and she felt a strange giddiness herself upon seeing it. It was freer than she'd ever been.

No, Cass, focus, You're not free yet. She shook her head slightly and leaned forward, looking for the case. She had just spotted it in the copilot seat when a gruff voice came over the speakers and the pilot jumped, and she found herself having to grab onto the doorframe once again, this time with both hands, to keep herself from falling onto the ceiling.

“I'm fine, I'm fine,” she assured the pilot, before letting out a small yelp as the shuttle spun around once again. “The only way you can make this whole thing worth my while is giving me the damn case,” she muttered under her breath, probably too quiet for him to hear.

Speaking of the case... She glanced around the room, knowing there was no way it had stayed in that seat when the shuttle flipped. She spotted it in the corner of the room closest to her moments before the missile exploded, causing her to look up again with wide eyes.

“Exciting that they're trying to fucking kill us to keep us from taking the case??” she hissed, moving forward to take the seat offered nonetheless. “Even knowing that they might destroy it? This isn't something to be taken lightly, buster! They mean business!” She glanced back at the case, and, seeing it had landed bomb-side-up, an idea dawned on her. “You said that was a neutrino bomb, right? Well, if you meant it, then use it!”
 

Eru

"It's dangerous to go alone."
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#12
11. 'Parlay'
  "That was just a warning shot!" The pilot laughed jovially, brushing off a bead of sweat from his face with a casual swat. He raised a finger to Cass, though, as she swung herself into the co-pilot's chair. "You'd better watch your tongue, love. They don't take kindly to that in the brigs." The tone was sarcastically patronizing.

The girl directed his attention to the case and its attached payload, causing an aura of joy to spring forth upon Cliff's face. "Of course! Right away! Don't go anywhere now!" He clambered out of the chair, leaving it spinning behind him as he scrambled across the cockpit floor, snatching up the case on his way toward the rear boarding ramp, and not particularly caring whether or not the girl would follow his directive.

A moment later, the winds lashed at Cliff as he stood upon the boarding ramp. He was holding tight to a pneumatic servo to keep standing, and in his other hand the case was tightly clasped, bomb-side-backward. He swallowed hard against the wind and the fear, in spite of his audacity so far. This was either going to be a cinch, or a bust. Cliff let go of the servo for a second to tighten the duffel's strap around him, and nearly got blown away. He quickly righted himself, though, and tried to maintain an air of assurance in the face of the oncoming transport shuttle, a newer model of the one he'd 'borrowed'.

The second shuttle approached their own, very close, the pilot giving him a hard glare through the window. Cliff again let go of the servo to give a cheeky wave, then was forced to clasp onto it again when the winds knocked him off-balance as before. After another moment, it turned around, to present its own rear boarding ramp, lowered, with a contingent of guards clustered around a greying man in a white lab coat. None of them looked particularly pleased to be here.

"Scoundrel!" barked the greying man. "I'll see you rot for life for this!" He shouted an order into the shuttle, and it moved closer to the one Cliff still stood on. The cargo pilot shifted his weight, but gave a chuckle. "Gentlemen! I think we can solve this problem easily!" The greying man raised an eyebrow, and Cliff went on. "I have something you need, and I want to get off this planet." He held up the case tantalizingly, and noticed as the eyes of everyone onboard the other ramp followed it. "In case my point is not evident: I give you the case, you let me leave in peace." Cliff gave a shining grin to the contingent. "Sound fair?"

His words hung in the air much like a kite whose string has been suddenly snapped, as the guards suddenly raised their weapons, the ramps nearing each other, getting very close to a short hop apart.
 

Joan

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#13
12. Prepared
  
Moments after sliding into the co-pilot's chair, Cassandra blinked in surprise at the strange cargo pilot. His behavior was baffling, to say the least. He seemed to take nothing seriously, not even the fact that what was supposed to be a relatively new company was apparently fully prepared to shoot them out of the sky. They shouldn't have legal protection at this stage, or enough weight to keep this kind of thing out of the courts...so why are they prepared to kill us over this?

Then he took off, grabbing the case, telling her to stay put. She stayed in her seat for a few moments, staring after him open-mouthed, before looking back at the now-abandoned controls. Quickly slipping her handheld out of her sleeve, she tapped in a few instructions before typing something into the shuttle's digital navigation interface. A grunt of frustration followed, and she slid out of the chair, pulling away an access panel on the underside of the controls. A few moments of fiddling later, she slid the panel back into place and stood, slipping the handheld back into her pocket. She watched the cockpit's entrance a moment longer before sighing and unholstering the gun on her left hip, holding it in both hands as she moved to follow the pilot.

She moved quickly, but quietly, careful to make as little sound as possible as she moved through the shuttle. She kept close to the wall, out of sight, as she approached the boarding ramp. As she approached, she could see the pilot hanging tightly onto a servo, case in the other hand, along with the other shuttle quickly approaching. She could hear words, as well. The man in the lab coat shouting, the pilot offering them the case for safe passage off the planet.

Wait, what? No no no no, bad plan, bad plan! Does this idiot take nothing seriously?? I need that case!

Except...I wanted to get away from the Foxes, didn't I? Off-planet seems like a decent start...still, this idiot is going to just hand it over? No...even he can't be that stupid. These corporations are cutthroat, they'll try to kill us anyway if they suspect we'll leak information...


Her eyes fell on the duffel bag strapped to him, then went back to the case. He's had that bag this entire time, refused to let go...I wonder? Wouldn't be a half-bad play. Her eyes narrowed, and she stayed where she was, pressed against the wall and out of sight. She kept a firm grip on her gun, her right hand resting on the other one, prepared to start shooting in case things went south. She also remained keenly aware of the handheld in her sleeve pocket, now linked to the ship's controls.
 

Eru

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#14
13. Butterfingers

  An alarm light blinked upon Cliff's wrist, and he shot a glance at it for a split second -- he'd been disconnected from the shuttle's operating system. He grunted, and hoped it was the girl who'd taken over, instead of some hacker in the Equinox shuttle. But that moment of distraction had been enough, and the armed guards seized the opportunity to vault the gap between boarding ramps.

Cliff could only barely stumble back before two guards grasped his arms, a third slammed him in the stomach with the butt of his rifle, and a fourth reached for the case in his free hand. With the wind knocked out of him, the pilot-turned-thief tried for a moment to wrestle his arms free, but to no avail. So, staring down the greying man in cold anger, Cliff wrenched his wrist and flung the case hard. It clattered down the boarding ramp, hung at the precipice for a very long second, and then it was gone.

"You want it back that badly?? Go catch it, Scholl." Cliff's face twisted into a defiant grin. "Hope you've got your parachute on."

His own face steeling, the greying man barked back, "This isn't over, bastard." He ran to the edge of his shuttle's ramp with the remaining guards, and the group leaped off with no hesitation. Rather taken aback, Cliff murmured, "I guess he does have a parachute." Then, he drew his arms together in front of him, knocking three guards' helmets together in a crash of fiberglass. The fourth one was caught with a sweep of his leg, and tumbled off the ramp into the whistling winds. Unfortunately, Cliff was then knocked to the ground, as the remaining, bruised but conscious, guards charged him bodily.

The Equinox shuttle peeled away, presumably to pick up its now-skydiving crewmen once they had recovered the case. One of the other three raised his weapon again at Cliff. "Set for stun." The thief raised his hands in mock surrender, calling loudly in the direction of the shuttle bay. "Oh, love? We've got some unwanted passengers!" The other guards looked up sharply to see who else would appear, giving Cliff a moment to kick his boot squarely into the first guard's crotch.
 

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#15
14. Movement
  
As she positioned herself, the pilot glanced away from the armed goons for a moment, and they took the opportunity to leap forward, grabbing hold of him. Her finger tightened for a brief moment over the trigger before she hissed faintly and pulled her finger away. She couldn't get a clean shot, not with the pilot in the way, and she didn't want to risk losing the contents of the case. She was forced to stand by, waiting for an opening, but one came soon enough.

The case went flying into the gap, distracting the armed men and the shuttle, and the pilot sprang into action. He proved to be a surprisingly competent fighter, though he was only able to send one of the guards down before the rest tackled him down. They stood over him, weapons drawn, and there was her opening.

Before the pilot even called for her, a round hit one of the guards in the base of his skull, and he toppled into the guard the pilot had just stunned. They both toppled forward, toward the gap, and she tugged her other pistol loose, stepping out of hiding. She was forced to duck back immediately as a stun bolt shot towards her--the guard had been waiting for her to show herself. She slipped the handheld out of her sleeve, tucking one gun back into its holster, keeping an eye around the corner for the guard.

"Off the ramp, pilot!" The moment she was sure he wouldn't be crushed, she closed the hatch and darted out of hiding, firing a round at the remaining guard before diving back behind cover again. She hit the throttle without a moment's hesitation, not really caring about which direction they were going so much as getting the fuck out of there. If the guard was still standing, the pilot could likely handle him.
 

Eru

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#16
15. Free Bird

  A blast from behind pierced the helmet of the guard on Cliff's left. He could see its visor lights flicker and then die, as the guard went limp. Cliff yanked him toward the one in the middle, who was still crumpling from his vicious kick a moment ago, and the pair fell backward into the sky. The remaining guard cursed and fired a shot into the shuttle, but the fizzle of electronics belied that he had missed the girl.
"Off the ramp, pilot!"
Cliff grinned, and somehow managed to roll himself over backward, up the ramp a few feet as the last guard was hit in the chest, his suit seizing up. As the boarding ramp began to close, Cliff picked himself up, giving a mock bow to the guard. "You will always remember this as the day you almost caught Captain Cliff Hahngar." The amount of vitriol from the guard could be the stare of Medusa, as he, like his allies before him, fell backward into the sky.

Grinning still, Cliff tightened the duffel's strap around him again, and was thrown to the floor as the shuttle leaped forward again, the engine surging as it propelled them into the stratosphere. "Oof." He looked up to see the unreadable face of the girl, holding her weapon coolly.

"Hello there." Cliff had an unbelievably cocky attitude toward it all.
 

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#17
16. Curiosity
  
As Cass ducked back, she could hear the pilot calling out to the guard, meaning he was dealt with. Good. She sighed faintly in relief, shaking her head slightly at the pilot's--Hahngar's--flippant attitude, even as she hit the throttle. The ship leapt forward, and she spent a moment crouched, steadying herself, before standing and stepping out again. The handheld device went back into her sleeve before her hand rested on her other gun again, and she glanced over the inside of the shuttle.

Hahngar laid on the floor, duffel secured around him. A couple steps, and she was in front of him, one gun still drawn, looking down at him quietly. She thought for a moment as he greeted her, poking the inside of her cheek with her tongue, before shaking her head slightly again and speaking.

"So. Before we go any further. Please tell me you did, in fact, make the smart play, and that case was empty before you threw it into the abyss." She held her weapon loosely as she looked down at Hahngar, head cocked to the head slightly as she studied him. Oddly enough, she was beginning to warm up to this...oddball of a pilot, but she kept it buried down low for now. All she needed from him was what was in that case, and if he had been stupid enough to chuck it overboard, then she would be done with him then and there.
 

Eru

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#18
17. Opportunity
  The captain shook his head, a forlorn look crossing his face, in spite of the gun now cradled in the thief's hand.

"Sadly, I lost my favorite pair of wool socks to those lunatics." He grunted a bit as he stood up, shifting the duffel around to rest on his waist between the two of them. "But - never fear. The device you came to pillage today, much like myself, is right inside here." The pilot patted the bag, and unzipped it, rummaging around inside. "Come back to the bridge, and let's try them on!" He was positively jittering now, from what could be excitement, fear, or a need to find a water closet. Nevertheless, he bounced around the girl in the direction of the pilot's seat, keeping an eye on her weapon.
 

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#19
18. Spirit

  "Your...what, now?" Cass blinked, somewhat taken aback by Hahngar's statement, though the edge of her mouth twitched in amusement. Yes, the pilot was an odd one, unlike any she had ever met. Before she could dwell on that for long, he revealed that Equinox's treasured breakthrough was in the bag, and even as she opened her mouth to demand that he hand it over, he suggested that they 'try them on', catching her off-guard.

She eyed him warily for a moment before holstering her weapon with a faint sigh and following him into the cockpit. His excitement was proving somewhat contagious, and it seemed genuine enough, so the odds he was going to betray her were low. Plus, she wanted to know what 'try them on' meant. If Equinox's new discovery was wearable, that limited the possibilities for what it could be, and if she could find out what the things were before selling them, then she'd have an advantage. Not only that, but 'them' implied that there was more than one thing in that bag. Who knows? Maybe we can both get something out of this after all.

Settling into the co-pilot seat she had sat in before, she leaned over to peer into the bag, resting her hands on her knees. Inside lay what looked to be a pair of inverse-triangle-shaped pieces of lightweight, flexible, woven armor, with three indents in the shapes of circles in a triangle formation on the back of each. The circles had what looked like wires connecting them into the triangle shape, and those same wires ran through the rest of the material and the circles themselves in intriguing patterns. Whatever these were, they looked like they could be powered, but were currently inactive. She nudged the bag with her foot, causing one of the devices to slide onto its back, revealing what looked like a set of neural clamps, designed to attach to the user's shoulders, neck, and spine, along with additional material folded into this side of the device, presumably meant to be unfolded and attached to the upper arms and legs.

"Interesting," she muttered, leaning down further to investigate. "These neural clamps...they're a new technology, mostly used for virtual reality simulations. They're supposed to be a more immersive and secure way to fake sensory input, but I've met plenty of skeptics who say it's unsafe, and that users can end up trapped in the virtual world if the clamps malfunction. Never gotten to try those rigs out myself." She frowned, adding, "These ones look unusual, though. Not entirely sure what their function is, but it's not overriding sensory input. It's something else entirely." Her curiosity piqued, she reached down to pull one out, and examined it for another moment, testing the flexibility. It felt surprisingly similar to normal fabric for how strong it was.

After a moment of hesitation, she mumbled "ah, hell with it" and shrugged off her jacket, replacing it with the device. The material folded into it unfolded easily, with barely-visible zippers that allowed her to secure it to her upper arms, legs, and neck. As she slipped it on, she could feel the clamps resting against her shirt, but they weren't doing anything yet. A quick search revealed a fingerprint reader in the waist area, and she placed her finger on it without thinking. This was quickly followed by what felt like a needle pricking her finger, and she jerked her finger sharply away, looking at the tiny bead of blood on her fingertip.

"DNA signature recognized. CF-NT002 imprinted."

That was the last thing she saw and heard before the clamps engaged, sending tiny sensors burrowing under her skin to the nerve, and she blacked out.

  There was an oddly metallic taste in her mouth. That was the first thing she was aware of. The next, that half her face felt numb. The next, that her eyes were closed, so she opened them.

She was lying on her side, her face pressed against the floor. Her arms were limp in front of her, with a barely visible mesh covering the visible skin on her hands and lower arms. As she raised her head, she felt liquid moving in her mouth, and she raised one finger to test it. It came away red, and she spat what remained onto the floor where her head had laid a moment ago. Her cheek hurt, and she guessed that was where the blood had come from. As she focused on that, she became aware of another odd sensation, of several tiny prickling sensations underneath her skin. It was odd and slightly unnerving, but oddly pleasant, and she blinked and shook her head a few times to clear it. The sensation stayed, though it faded slightly, and she could feel an odd warmth at her core growing.

Okay, okay, this is weird, and not what I expected. Stay focused. Where's Hahngar?

She looked around and saw Hahngar in the pilot seat, slumped over the controls, though he appeared to be shaking himself awake. She could see the faint mesh covering the visible areas of his skin, though she had had to be looking for it, and even then it was incredibly hard to see. She reached around to feel her back, and her fingers found the device she had attached to her back, only it was warm. Slowly, she stood, moving to where she could see Hahngar's back. The circles were lit up, glowing with a warm, faintly pulsing green light. The pulse was regular, and as she watched for a moment, she realized it was in time with his heartbeat. As she looked down at him, a vaguely robotic voice spoke in her ear.

"User is conscious. CF-NT002 has safely begun integration. Please state your name for the record."

Cass, she nearly said aloud, but she caught herself before it came out. Nonetheless, the voice responded.

"User Cass registered. CF-NT002 is permanently imprinted to your DNA and electrical signature, and will follow your direction exclusively. CF-NT002 is designed for operation within the C-Flux Network, and is highly experimental. Capabilities include protection from harmful environments, projectiles, and effects, enhancement of reflex action and processing ability, ability to manipulate the C-Flux Network based on the user's unique DNA, and more potentially to be discovered. Cass will have to discover the capabilities of CF-NT002 herself, as CF-NT002 has not been tested, and its full capabilities, and those of the C-Flux Network, are unknown.

"CF-NT002 functions by interfacing directly with Cass' nerve system and brain, and will reply to mental impulses and commands. CF-NT002 requires time to properly interface and synchronize with Cass. Do not remove CF-NT002 before it has time to properly sync with Cass, as this is highly dangerous and could result in permanent crippling or death. For best use, it is recommended Cass wears the CF-NT002 directly on skin, for easier interface with Cass' nerve system, and better concealment of CF-NT002."


The voice faded, and Cass realized she had sunk to the floor and leaned back against the side of the cockpit. She held her hand out in front of her, staring at the mesh, struggling to process the information she had just absorbed.

"So...these things are permanently imprinted to us, they give us the ability to manipulate something called the C-Flux Network, whatever the hell that is, and we can't take them off until they're done 'interfacing'." She stated it in a flat, emotionless tone of voice, though in reality, she was struggling to keep from panicking.

She had just planned to get in, grab the tech, and get out. She had never expected to be wearing it, much less have it imprinted to her. She couldn't sell this! Hell, she barely knew what the thing could do, and from the sound of it, this thing had never been tested, so nobody could tell her what it did. For all she knew, it would malfunction and kill her even if she waited until it was supposedly safe to take it off, or it would permanently bond to her and she would never be able to remove it, or...

Focus. Calm. Deep breaths.

She took a deep, shuddering breath. Then another. Then another, until her breathing was steady again. Then she focused. What was the bright side here?

It sounded like this stuff acted as armor and as a reflex enhancer, which was good. It helped survivability. It also sounded like it would obey her mental commands once it was done syncing, meaning it would be incredibly intuitive to use. She'd just have to be careful to make sure it recognized the difference between command and idle thought. And even if she couldn't sell it anymore...maybe she could make use of it. Maybe this could still be her ticket out.

It was then that she became aware of the warm feeling in her core again. The prickling sensation had faded further at this point, to the point where she had to focus on it to notice it. The warm feeling was much more noticeable, and it was slowly spreading through her torso and limbs. Cautiously, she stood, focusing on the sensation. Something was there, waiting to be tapped, and if she could just reach it...

A field of energy appeared above her skin, shining a faint blue-tinted purple. She could feel the energy pulling together, not quite from the air around them, but something parallel to it. She focused again, this time on the air in front of her, and another field appeared, curving in front of her, like a shield.

"...Huh," she murmured, dropping her focus. The fields vanished, and she turned to look at Hahngar. She had nearly forgotten him in her panic, but now she was curious. If she could make these fields of energy, could he do the same? Or would something else happen when he tapped that energy?
 
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Eru

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#20
19. Spaaace
  "Wool socks. Haven't you ever seen the like? They're dreadfully comfortable."
Cliff swung himself into the pilot's seat, unzipping the duffel and pulling it open for them both to peer into. Within, an identical pair of strange devices sat quietly.

As Cass began to analyze the devices, the Networking Tools stolen from Equinox just a short time ago, Cliff leaned back comfortably in his chair to dial up the propulsion engines. "Neural clamps, you say?" he asked, as the shuttle rocketed into the mesosphere. He flipped a switch labelled Artificial Environment, and smiled when the generators kicked in smoothly. "It had better be something a lot bigger than virtual reality - I'm taking these back for a refund if Equinox sold us nothing more than toys." Cliff's fingers flew across the pilot's keypad, calling up a display on the forward view-screen. Even with the advancement of current technology, a voyage to the moon alone would still take at least a day or two, especially in the smaller shuttle they now possessed. "They'll be on our tail, soon," Cliff murmured, but tried to shake off the fact. He flipped a glass covering up to uncover an orange button, with a bold label - Sublight Engines.

Nodding approvingly, Cliff then swung his chair a bit back around to face Cass, just as she began to shrug her jacket off. He barely stopped himself from letting out a low whistle at the lithe figure beneath, and turned it into a cough that escalated unintentionally, leaving him hacking for breath for a couple of seconds as Cass slipped into one of the Networking Tools. By the time Cliff had composed himself, Cass had already activated her device's fingerprint reader, and collapsed silently to the floor.

A bit taken aback, Cliff jolted up and to the woman's side, checking for a pulse on her wrist. He was relieved to find one, but also a bit unnerved - the device attached to her back had begun to flash in a strange purple light, and the wires coming out from it were now pulsing in the same color. "Okay. Hmm. Yes." Cliff stepped back from Cass' prone body. "Whatever you're doing down there, you're doing great. I'll be over here," he gestured toward the chairs, unsure if she could even hear him, "and you won't need to sue me for medical malpractice, like my other 'friend' back on Jupiter." Raising his hands, Cliff back-stepped until he was again at the control console. The display now read that they'd exited Earth's atmosphere, with a course plotted for a cluster of larger space vessels, about 3,000 miles from the planet. "Perfect," Cliff stated aloud, again, trying to reassure the fourth wall just as much as himself.

With everything ready, Cliff took in a deep breath, tugging off his thick overcoat and the lighter flight vest underneath. Beneath all these layers, he wore a black and gold "Star Wars" t-shirt, the vintage logo faded after many years' residence in a thrift shop. He set his clothes onto the pilot's seat as he slipped on the remaining Networking Tool. As with Cass, the material had a snug, yet comfortable fit, curiously. Cliff felt the device adhere to his skin slightly as he secured the zippers. He stood up to pull everything straight, glancing back to where Cass lay. "Hope you wake up before I do, love."

Sitting down again, Cliff faced forward into the expanse of space, his fingers running over the few protrusions before nicking the fingerprint reader, as no doubt intended. "Ooh. That's portentous," Cliff exclaimed, examining the prick of blood on his finger. A second later, a disembodied voice spoke from somewhere between his ears and his skull -
"DNA signature recognized. CF-NT001 imprinted."

And then, Cliff felt himself falling into the inky blackness of pure space.
  "Pah." Cliff felt something in his mouth, and wondered if he'd remembered to rinse after brushing. He spat it out, afterwards realizing he hadn't quite woken up yet, and so he opened his eyes.

He was sitting in the piloting seat, slumped against the control console, upon which there was now a smear of red fluid as well as his own head. "Urgh." With an effort, Cliff raised his head, lifting his hands to examine the fluid, but pausing when he saw the fine meshwork of lines that now ran across his skin. He blinked, trying to remember what particular series of events had led to this. Then, he heard Cass' voice.
"So...these things are permanently imprinted to us, they give us the ability to manipulate something called the C-Flux Network, whatever the hell that is, and we can't take them off until they're done 'interfacing'."
"… w-what?" Utterly befuddled, Cliff sat up a bit straighter, his speech somewhat slurred. It was then that he heard the same disembodied voice from before.

"User is conscious. CF-NT001 has safely begun integration. Please state your name for the record."
Still not fully sure what was happening, Cliff glanced around blearily, before replying out loud, "Clifford." He rolled his shoulders to try and get rid of the stiffness, and suddenly felt as if he could punch a mag-lev train in the face.

"User Clifford registered. CF-NT001 is permanently imprinted to your DNA and electrical signature, and will follow your direction exclusively. CF-NT001 is designed for operation within the C-Flux Network, and is highly experimental. Capabilities include protection from harmful environments, projectiles, and effects, enhancement of reflex action and processing ability, ability to manipulate the C-Flux Network based on the user's unique DNA, and more potentially to be discovered. Clifford will have to discover the capabilities of CF-NT001 himself, as CF-NT001 has not been tested, and its full capabilities, and those of the C-Flux Network, are unknown."

"CF-NT001 functions by interfacing directly with Clifford's nerve system and brain, and will reply to mental impulses and commands. CF-NT001 requires time to properly interface and synchronize with Clifford. Do not remove CF-NT001 before it has time to properly synch with Clifford, as this is highly dangerous and could result in permanent crippling or death. For best use, it is recommended Clifford wears the CF-NT001 directly on skin, for easier interface with Clifford's nerve system, and better concealment of CF-NT001."

The debriefing finished, Cliff found himself staring at what he now knew to be his own blood on the console, his breaths coming quicker. He realized two things immediately. The first; these devices may not be removable anytime soon. The second; this… was going to be awesome.

Though the words were still spinning around in his mind, a grin leaped to his face, a bit of blood still dripping from his mouth as he turned to face Cass again. She was standing up now, her face slightly pale, but she appeared to be flickering between her normal color and a tint of purple, almost as if a bubble had popped. His eyebrows raising, Cliff pulled one of his gloves off quickly, and began to stare at it, focusing really, really hard on making it turn into a block of ice.
 
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