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Chapter Six: All Hands on Deck

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
"Mrooowr!" Trouble exclaimed and raised his paw.

"And what do you want, you feline miscreant?"

Shirley raised her hand and used the other to pet him. "He's just telling you he's a Wild Card."

"Oh, bother! Whose grand idea was that?"
"His, of course. But we did agree." Elinor grinned. "And on your recommendation, as I recall, sir." *

"Now then. Provide to the class your impressions of what technopathy means to each of you."
Elinor thought for a moment while the others answered. "It's a way of speaking directly to machines and computers, without needing an interface," she said finally. "And to each other, likewise. We've been able to maintain contact with each other without using radios, and that's invaluable for a team like us. Speaking directly to the craft we fly, like the Mjolnirs and the new Logans, allows us to know them in a way no manual or instructor could explain, and that's an advantage like nothing else. Not to mention access to things we'd otherwise have a heck of a lot of trouble with, like Zeki-Zentraedi security doors. And that's just what we've learned to do with it so far. I'm sure looking forward to exploring all the options, so to speak." She smiled, then grew sober again. "It also means we've got something that can save our planet, our people, and from the sound of it, a lot of other people too. I still don't know how we're gonna manage that, but that makes it a responsibility, not just a neat toy, and we've got to take all this seriously."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Paer 1 of 2)

"Oh yes," Professor Stein gave a hearty chuckle full of mirth as Elinor reminded him of his vote toward Trouble. "A momentary lapse of reason, I assure you!"

Professor Stein stared thoughtfully at each of you as you gave your definitions. "Corporal Zuko, you have made a terrific point in that we have a huge advantage over non-Traversers. Toph, technopathy is a decent tool against security systems, but only to those who are well-trained in that task. Cores do not bend to our will. Instead, we coerce Cores to do what is within their protocol for us. Remember that.

Professor Stein pointed at Elinor and even that simple gesture displayed a man of powerful presence and experience. "You too have made an important point, Lt. Hall. Without an interface. It can be argued, my dear, that we are that interface. And another. There are a great deal of things we can do. Things others can only dream about. Lt. Mackenzie? Specialist Cera? Your perspectives?"

Shirley spoke first. "It's like... a potential advantage over anything that uses technology. It's not guaranteed that the machines will work with us. They're like people in that we have to come to common ground. And that Blue World! I mean, what all is going on in there? Is it like here but on a different level? Are we seeing what machines see? Is there any surfing to be done? I want to explore in there!"

Professor Stein nodded and grinned warmly as if he knew those feelings himself. He turned to Cera who replied, "Technopathy is an advantage we must make the utmost use of if we are to defeat our enemies. As far as we know, the foul Zeki, the despicable Invid, even the hated Robotech Masters, do not have it at their disposal. Ours may be the only races in the universe that possess it."

"And are Trouble and Iris Traversers?"

"No," Cera stated and frowned at him. "They seem to have no independent ability to control machines. They have telepathic abilities that Traversers have, but they lack the gift of technopathy."

Professor Stein waved his fingers as he spoke. "So imagine what our enemies will do to us if they even find out that we have these gifts, hmm? How might the Anti-Unification League dissect you? What will these Zeki-Zentraedi think of when they decide to torture you? How about the ones we love? Traversers," he spoke gravely, "our secret here is perhaps as important as the Broadsword's existence. Keep that in mind.

"Now let us cover a few basics in technopathy, shall we?" The professor cleared his throat and turned back to Cera whose impatience seeemed to rise with his attention on her. "Cera," he stepped close to her. "Do tell us the three behaviors of Cores. You be the machine. Make a statement to accompany each behavior." Professor Stein glanced to everyone else in the room for a moment. "Oh. A Core is the manifestation of any machine in the Blue World. Think of it as the 'spirit' of the machine. Cera?"

Cera glared up at him, unhappy with his nearness and the fact that he did not seem to mind at all. He simply watched her. "Friendly," she said. "I wish to assist you as long as doing so goes along with my protocol."

"Good. Next?"

"Neutral. I do not care whether you live or die, just do nothing to impede my protocol."

"Beauty! And?"

"Hostile." Cera's eyes narrowed dangerously. "You suck and I want to destroy you."

"Yes," Professor Stein cooly said as he reached down and touched her wrist. "Well done. Now let us get this out of the way, shall we?" Cera was distracted by his calm manner and did not notice his finger lightly resting on her uniform. "You're an Ura-Meltrandi, aren't you? I am only a human male. Can we be friends?"

Cera frowned at him, annoyed. "Mario has proven himself. You have not. Why should I respect you?"

"Because," Fat Gandalf said. "I have figured you out. Can you say the same about me?"

Suddenly, Cera vanished from her seat. Disappeared as if she had never existed.

Gasps were heard all over the room. Murphy swore and jumped up. Iris bolted upright. Reggie shouted. "Whoa! Where'd she go? What did you do to her?" Hitomi just watched quietly, mesmerized.

But Fat Gandalf just kept staring. "Yes. What indeed? Wild Cards, do you remember your violent encounter with War-queen Taniya? Remember the little part where they grabbed her power armor thinking she was in it? Only to find that she wasn't? How did she accomplish that little trick? Have you ever asked yourselves that question?"

"Damn you!" Everyone heard Cera's voice in the room. "Release my skein-suit!"

"Make me." Professor Stein gently smiled into the nothingness before him. "Cera, I can be a powerful enemy. The Ura-Meltrandi do not respect anyone or anything that does not prove its power, do they? Do they?"

There was a silent, very tense moment. Then, "No."

Fat Gandalf raised his finger from her. Cera reappeared right back in her seat looking embarrassed, ruffled, and very, very confused. But the old, fat human whispered kindly to her. "My gender does not make me weak, does it? Your Empress Ura is quite bloody right to hate Lord Zeki, but your programming is wrong about one thing - we males are not inferior - we are just different. And that difference can be a beautiful thing," he looked towards Toph.

Cera followed his gaze. Toph was beautiful.

"Toph came from such a union, Cera. Men and women were meant to get along. Might we be friends?"

Confused, Cera turned away from him and looked straight to Elinor. She stared at her human dentella. Then she turned back to Professor Stein, calmer, more relaxed. Like Elly Nor.

"I will try, professor."

"That is all I ask my dear."

A moment passed as the tenseness in the room died down. Hitomi sat back, impressed with her teacher.

Professor Stein rose, gave Cera her space, and continued the class right where he had left off. "So, the idea is to coerce the Core into agreement with your requests. Never forcing it. Always keeping an open mind. Any questions so far?"

Professor Stein could not help but smile. A little way toward peace and harmony had been made just now and the Earth could use as much of that as people could put into it.
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario nods in understanding. "Never try to force, just coerce. I learned the hard way that trying to do it the wrong way will lead to major league brain burn. Or whatever you want to call it. All I can say is that it hurt. We just need to know the right leverage to use on each machine to get them to do what we need them to do."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
(Part 2 of 2)

Fat Gandalf nodded approvingly at Mario's observation. "Brain-burn is the correct term. Brain-burn is far more than an inconvenience - it can kill you." He nodded solemnly. "I will teach you how to avoid it."

Cera leaned over to Elinor, her red-brown eyes filled with the need to communicate. She spoke softly, almost sheepishly, and in a manner that included Mario, Toph, and Shirley. "Empress forgive me... I think I needed that," she gestured to Professor Stein. "I have never been held hostage by my own technology before. I am humbled... and by a male.

Cera's piercing stare fell upon Mario. "I offer you my deepest apologies, Mario - my first-ever to a male. You have shown honor. Professor Stein has shown power. Males are not quite what I was programmed to believe. Perhaps my need of repair is not over as I imagined."

* * *​

Murphy raised his calloused hand.

"Smurf?" the professor answered.

"Do all Traversers go about technopathy to the same ends?"

"No, indeed! There are three paths to master. Communicator. Pioneer. Cultivator. One can forge ahead in only one path or dabble in all three as they see fit. Time and practice are key to mastery. Oh, and not winding up lost in the Blue World. Don't ever let that happen. You might not return to talk about it."

* * *​

Just then, the door to your observation deck-become-classroom slid open. All eyes turned to see Spaceman Sam enter the doorway and move to one side. From the outer corridor you heard two voices, one male, one female, in the middle of a hot debate and their hurried voices and footsteps were growing louder by the second.

"Valkyries and Cyclones? It's never been done! How is that going to work?" It was Captain Piper and she sounded agitated. Colonel Sharp's voice replied.

"If there is a way, we will find it! We can't risk the Broadsword."

They entered together. "Albert! Sorry to disrupt your class," Colonel Sharp offered to everyone present.

"Hiram! No need. What has got you hurrying, old boy?"

Colonel Sharp turned to and deferred to Captain Piper. She stepped forward and addressed the Wild Cards with no small amount of worry. "The Broadsword's automated recovery team is trapped inside a machining facility in Mexico. The Samanthas and Sams have run into mechanized defenses that are trying to dig their way into their section of the facility to destroy them." Piper grit her teeth and quickly scanned the room for something dog-sized.

"The place is too big for your Valkyries and too far away for you to get there in time with your tanks. You've got to use the Cyclones!"

Shirley was out of her seat. "What in the heck are Cyclones?"

Hearing this, Piper's expression went from confusion to utter frustration. "Colonel? They don't even know what Cyclones are!"

Before he could answer, Professor Stein waved his large hand. "Captain, that will not matter. You are dealing with Traversers now. Does this facility have any identifying markers? Who are we dealing with?"

Piper shook her head and hands. "I-- I don't know! I'm not in my time anymore! I've never heard of them!"

"She's starting to crack," Murphy murmured.

"Whom? Heard of whom?"

"Uhh, the Chessel Corporation!"

You had distantly heard of this long-lived leading cybersecurity and technology firm. It was but one of many, except they were big. Back before the Rain of Death, they were a mysterious and solid force to be reckoned with on Wall Street. They had their brand logo, a black eagle, on many a military machine before the arrival of the SDF-1. But with the advent of mecha, the company suffered from the public eye.

Professor Stein and Hitomi appeared especially surprised. Fat Gandalf said to Shirley. "Let me come with you on this one. We will continue this class outside the classroom."

Shirley said, "Unless my squadmates have any objections, you're in!"

Piper nodded. "Wild Cards? Get your butts to Bay Two and, uh, somehow load up. Right, Colonel?"

"Right, Captain," Colonel Sharp said. "And I think I know just how to make it happen!"

On your way down the elevator, Colonel Sharp explained that the Cyclones were veritech exoskeletons in the shape of high-tech motorcycles. "And with a bit of mechanical imagination, I think we can attach them to your veritech fighters in place of your missiles.

"Sam told me that we have two Super Valkyries, stealth Logans, and the Ajax now ready to go. Who will fly in what?"
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario smiles. Even more Veritechs to pilot! Awesome! And this one is some kind of motorcycle armor/thing. This will be interesting to say the least! Mario asks, "If these new Veritech cycles are what we are using to go into this factory, how are they going to be transported? There is not much room in the cockpit for extra stuff."
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph muses, "Well, we have missiles on the Super Logans, but the wing mounts are only available in jet mode. We may have to rely upon the Super Valks and the Ajax for this one to carry these Cyclones, depending on how many people are coming along. The Ajax was damaged; has it been repaired? If so, I will happily take it along and attach at least one of these Cyclone things to it, if not two. Mario, looks like you and the Professor are passengers this time around. Anyone else coming? Or is it just us ducks in the air?"
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario looks at Toph and looks a little embarrassed. "Um, yeah, that will work. So, who am I riding with, since we're leaving the tanks here this time around?" He looks to Shirley in askance, since this is her show to run.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Professor Stein waved his fingers as he spoke. "So imagine what our enemies will do to us if they even find out that we have these gifts, hmm? How might the Anti-Unification League dissect you? What will these Zeki-Zentraedi think of when they decide to torture you? How about the ones we love? Traversers," he spoke gravely. "Our secret here is perhaps as important as the Broadsword's existence. Keep that in mind.
Elinor locked that firmly in her brain. Cool as this new ability was, it had downsides like even the best things did, and this was a big one.

Suddenly, Cera vanished from her seat.
Elinor blinked in surprise, her jaw dropping just a smidge before the professor's explanation registered. Then she gazed thoughtfully at the empty space. Cera had been hiding things from them.

Confused, Cera turned away from him and looked straight to Elinor. She stared at her human dentella. Then she turned back to Professor Stein, calmer, more relaxed. Like Elly Nor.
Elinor met her ward's look with what she hoped was a neutral but encouraging one of her own. This was something Cera had to come to grips with herself; Elinor couldn't pull her through it. But she could let her young friend know she wasn't alone in it.

Cera leaned over to Elinor, her red-brown eyes filled with the need to communicate. She spoke softly, almost sheepishly, and in a manner that included Mario, Toph, and Shirley. "Empress forgive me... I think I needed that," she gestured to Professor Stein. "I have never been held hostage by my own technology before. I am humbled... and by a male.

Cera's piercing stare fell upon Mario. "I offer you my deepest apologies, Mario - my first-ever to a male. You have shown honor. Professor Stein has shown power. Males are not quite what I was programmed to believe. Perhaps my need of repair is not over as I imagined."
Elinor smiled warmly. "It's not so much a need of repair, Cera, but something we call 'culture clash.' Your people have a different view of things. It happens to be wrong in regards to some of the human race, but then some of our views are probably wrong as regards some of your people, as well. We'll all learn together on that one." Her voice was its usual calm, but she was proud of Cera. She'd come so far since they'd first met, and it had been so short a time.

There are three paths to master. Communicator. Pioneer. Cultivator. One can forge ahead in only one path or dabble in all three as they see fit. Time and practice are key to mastery. Oh, and not winding up lost in the Blue World. Don't ever let that happen. You might not return to talk about it."
This, too, Elinor committed to memory, though Cera had warned them before about not getting lost. She hoped they'd soon have a chance for some practical work there, not just theory, so they could learn how not to get lost. Those paths sounded interesting. Pioneer touched her test pilot side; Cultivator her farmgirl side. Once she'd learned more about them, she'd be eager to choose a path and get walking down it, for sure!

Piper nodded. "Wild Cards? Get your butts to Bay Two and, uh, somehow load up. Right, Colonel?"
Elinor saluted. "Yes, ma'am. Don't you worry, we've got this." She nodded firmly, conveying her own confidence in their ability to get these Cyclones to the Chessel facility and get the mission itself handled.

The Ajax was damaged; has it been repaired?
Elinor nodded. "Colonel said both Valkyries, both Logans, and your Ajax are ready to go, right, sir? Beats me how; I thought Sam and Cera'd used up the resources on the Mjolnirs." She grinned suddenly. "Wonder if we'll have any way to pick up some, while we're there? Mining facility and all." Her expression shifted again as she returned to the question of attaching the Cyclones, her engineer's brain considering options. Replacing the missiles sounded good; she just hoped they wouldn't be needed. Well, that's why there were other weapons than just missiles.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Shirley's mental gears were turning. All that had been said since the start of the class was sinking in. She turned, her black locks spinning, and her blue eyes settled on the professor. He was grinning back at her.

"Mario," Shirley said slowly, "you're not going as a back-seater..." she grinned along with Fat Gandalf "...but as a veritech pilot. I'm thinking you're in one of our Stealth Logans. At the helm!"

"Indeed, my lad," Professor Stein told Mario. "Do be careful. If you think too much as a tank crew member, you'll miss much as a Traverser, if you get my meaning? A fine observation, lieutenant!"

"Thanks!"

Colonel Sharp added, "Troops, I think you can thank Miss Hitomi and Captain Piper for your repaired Ajax. The Broadsword used some of the components we took from General Steele's hideout to get the new bird up and running again!

"The recovery crew seems to be a mystery even to Captain Piper. She gave me the impression she was not aware the Broadsword most capable of conducting such expeditions without human assistance. From the sound of things, the crew is loaded up with 'soft and hard components' but ran into trouble on its way out."

Meanwhile, Cera remained quiet for the moment. She listened a great deal, especially to what Elinor was saying. She gave Elinor a long look of appreciation. Cera knew she could not have come to this point of discovery, "culture clashes" and all, without her help.

Toph then noticed an extra passenger on the elevator to Bay Two. Tiny golden feline eyes peered out from behind Fat Gandalf's feet. He hadn't noticed he had been spotted, and were it not for the half-alien's natural gift of perception, he might not have been noticed at all.
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
"Mario," Shirley said slowly, "you're not going as a back-seater..." she grinned along with Fat Gandalf "...but as a veritech pilot. I'm thinking you're in one of our Stealth Logans. At the helm!"
Mario blinks a few times, trying to process the thought of being a pilot of a flying Veritech instead of just a ground-skimming tank. "Wow. I had never even considered that as a possibility. Is it hard to fly one of these Super Logans? I guess I'll find out when I talk to the mecha."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Shirley grinned to Mario and explained, "I don't know. I haven't piloted one yet. But I think it's either that or we'll be one aircraft down going into this mess. Frankly," the Californian surfer cracked her knuckles, "if I were in your shoes, I'd need the perspective of a combat pilot just as much as I'd need a tanker's perspective if I were in a Spartas or Mjolnir. Is that right, professor?"

"Oh, absolutely!" Professor Stein agreed. "I could use a fighter pilot's perspective myself! You never know when knowledge and understanding will come in useful, but there is no replacement for it. Not even technopathy. Do carry on, my dear!"

Shirley gave Mario a brief, but very, very intensive rundown on how to think in three dimensions and what to remember with a combat jet (you are always traveling forward in jet mode; speed, angle, distance, viewability, and a complete understanding of your situation, are key to surviving - fly like you have no armor). "On this mission, I'm going to make you will be a wingman which means you'll be responsible for watching someone's tail. Whenever you're in the air, I want you to think like the rest of us. That way, you'll fly like the rest of us and make it home."

From the Smithsonian, here is a short but very deep look into an experienced combat pilot's mind during a deadly engagement in the air. Consider this RP flavor if you like. =)

* * *​

This scene is brought to you by "Panorama" by the Cars. RIP Ric Ocasek. Your music always has me "Moving in Stereo". =)

The elevator stopped. The doors to Hangar Bay Two opened. While Shirley continued, you saw the giant bay was abuzz with activity. There were whirring and buzzing sounds of machinery all about you. About 20 Sams and Samanthas were working together with incredible coordination and efficiency. The doors to Bays One and Three were open and now you saw just how huge all three bays together were - easily able to fit all of the mecha you had procured. They were all present though the ground mecha were in the background. The Super Tomahawk destroid dominated the scene, towering above Toothgnasher, Toothgrinder, and the smallish unnamed Spartas. Behind them, there were what looked like shipping containers of a variety of sizes all stacked in the hundreds along the walls and ceiling.

In Bay Two, you saw two Super Stealth Logans and the Super Veritech Shirley had piloted now painted in sky-blue, all in Guardian mode, guns at the ready. The Sams were replacing the hard points on the insides of the Super Veritech's wings with two, large boxy devices. Beside this, the Ajax that Toph had piloted glistened in the bay's lights, fully repaired, fully armed, and if Toph's eyes did not deceive here, there was a second ion cannon beside the first attached to its fuselage. The last time you had seen it, it was in a poor state and now the Ajax looked brand-new.

Then the Wild Cards were treated to a scene no member of the Army of Southern Cross had ever seen. A giant section of the ceiling had been unsheathed revealing a large hole that yawned some fifty feet in diameter. In it, three Samanthas, their boots magnetically-attaching them to the edge of the hole, helped to guide down a huge triangular shape out from the darkness of the hole. By way of a giant series of mechanical arms coming out of the hole, the shape descended very slowly, very carefully until you saw a Super Valkyrie, its FAST PACK literally gleaming, all dressed in the sky-blue colors that would help it blend in with the daytime clouds the Broadsword was now under.

"What in the world?!" Shirley exclaimed in awe. Professor Stein gazed openly dumbfounded.

Cera grinned like a child in school. "Behold! The Broadsword's miniature Robotech Factory in operation, Wild Cards. I probably looked much like you when I saw my Mjolnirs first emerge from it. This is perhaps the biggest reason we Ura-Meltrandi desired the Broadsword for ourselves - imagine a military star-vessel that can create its own mecha, its own star fighters, its own ground vehicles, its own mechanical crew! The Broadsword is the only vessel in the universe that can do this! If we Ura-Meltrandi had a fleet of these... even the Invid would be given pause."

The mechanical arms lowered the pristine Super Veritech before you like a religious offering. The great bird stood there like an eager soldier of the sky, ready to blaze a path to adventure. The mechanical arms released it and disappeared into the hole. The hole sealed over and the ceiling appeared ordinary again.

"What-- where--" Shirley stammered at the Sams. "Hey!! Did you just make a Super Veritech out of thin air?!"

One of the Broadsword's animated crew stepped forward (this time, with a working tablet!) and displayed, "NEGATIVE, LIEUTENANT. THIS IS THE VF-1S PILOTED BY LIEUTENANT HALL DURING YOUR EARLIER SORTIE. IT HAS BEEN FULLY REPAIRED AND FITTED WITH A FAST PACK FOR YOUR NEXT ASSIGNMENT. DOES IT MEET YOUR NEEDS?"

Shirley shouted in glee. "You're darned right, it does!" Several of the nearby Samanthas and Sams paused and silently raised their hands into the air in a show of joy before returning to work. Shirley gave them a thumbs-up and a wide smile. "Okay, squadron. Are we going in the birds we're used to or are we switching it up? Opinions, please? Oh, and who wants to chauffeur the professor?"

Professor Stein looked at all of you with a smile that seemed to say, "Don't worry! I won't be a backseat driver!"
 
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Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario looks at the miniature Factory in appreciation. "That is slick. Just give it enough supplies, and poof! You have got yourself a regular army's worth of gear coming out of it. I like. I like a lot." He looks around the hangar bay at the controlled chaos going on in there, his eyes turning to the Super Logan he is to be piloting with a new outlook. "So, that's going to be my ride, huh? I hope to do you ladies proud of me out there in it. Just make sure you give me some extra room so I don't bump into anyone!" He chuckles to show he's joking - mostly.

"Sooooo, tell us more about these Cyclones. I have an idea on what the Super VFs can do; what about these cool cycles you've told us about? What can they do? How are they armed?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Shirley had no idea and Professor Stein just shook his head. Cera gave a little grin while placing her hands in the air as if gripping motorcycle handles, "In our time, the human's Cyclones seemed to irritate the Invid. They were fast, agile, hard to catch, and packed a decent punch. I wished to ride one even before I possessed a body to do to. As my War-queen Taniya has said, 'War is our way, our purpose, our life - you may as well have all the fun in it that you can!' Vroom, vroom!" Cera blushed a little and quickly amended. "Er, I added the 'vroom, vroom' part..."

"Samantha?" Shirley asked. "What's the story here?"

Spacewoman Samantha approached and with a pose that clearly denoted her femininity, she flipped forward her tablet. "FOR YOUR RAID AND RESCUE OPERATION, CAPTAIN PIPER HAS AUTHORIZED YOUR USE OF OUR CVR-3 RIFLEMAN-CLASS THIRD GENERATION CYCLONES. THE BROADSWORD'S ORGANIC CREW WERE CREATIVE IN THEIR WEAPON USE, ESPECIALLY OUR MARINE FORCE RECON WHO OFTEN USED A MYRIAD OF RANGED ARMS LIKE SNIPER RIFLES, MINI-MISSILES, ENERGY RIFLES WITH GRENADE LAUNCHERS. SOME OF THESE ARE CUSTOM-BUILT. YOU ARE WELCOME TO USE OUR ARMAMENT OR YOUR OWN."

Then Samantha's tablet displayed a number of images for you to peruse.

Female Cyclone with the RL-6 Rocket Launcher (if I'm not mistaken).
b14c0670e529e9eb6994bc29308db735.jpg
(Image credit: Chuck Walton)

A male Cyclone ready for medical missions.
38c8db99bd97e6aa102c65e3e9b05e98.png
(Image credit: Chuck Walton)

Male and female together (Shhh! Don't tell the Zentraedi!) =)
Cylones-Instazu-dot-com.jpg
(Image credit: Instazu.com)

This, but with one tire in front and back instead of two.
robotech_vr_015_spider_cyclone_by_chuckwalton_d95ldbb-fullview.jpg
(Image credit: Chuck Walton)

And finally, a short video with the Robotech Cyclone Theme with picture montage.

"Oh!" Shirley folded her hands enthusiastically. "Those look sweet! Are they as fast as they look?"

"AFFIRMATIVE." Spacewoman Samantha paused and posed as if to see if any of you had other questions.
 
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Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph looks at the images with a smile. "They look amazing! They transform themselves from a motorcycle into a powered suit that fits on your body! I wonder who came up with that?" She continues to examine the images, looking at how the weapons integrate themselves to the suits. "It looks like the forearms have weapon mounts on them. Do you have some kind of paired energy weapon? I would like to be able to use them in a dual wield style." Toph then mimes shooting enemies with finger guns, making little 'pew pew' sounds with a smile on her face.

"From these images, it seems like that the Cyclone has only hand held weapons. Just wondering, do they have any internal weapons at all? And can they carry spare ammo magazines in case we run through the ones we have in the weapons we take with us?"
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Mario nods. "Yeah, they do look nice. Very compact. Look like they can get into just about anyplace a person can. Well, almost. What are the weapon options available for these bad boys? I have always liked using something with a heavy hit to it."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
"Okay, squadron. Are we going in the birds we're used to or are we switching it up? Opinions, please? Oh, and who wants to chauffeur the professor?"
"Hey!" Lt. Mack's blue eyes lit up with urgency. "Toph! Elinor! We've got to move! Hop in your birds and let's go! And who is the professor riding with? We don't have the time when there's a trapped Broadsword team waiting for us. Samantha, just get a weapon type from each of us and give us whatever you think is best in that category." She thought quickly. " Hand me an energy rifle with grenade launcher, please." Samantha nodded and turned to you.
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph will raise up her hand. "I'll have the professor ride with me. Come along and climb in! I promise to be a safe driver!" She makes her quick final decisions on her weapons, and then makes a beeline to the Ajax to give her bird a quick run through the pre-flight checklist. Even in an emergency, there are certain things that a pilot does not skip.

Once she is done, Toph calls out over the squad radio channel, "Toph here, ready to lift. All systems green."
 

Sherwood

Luna's Concubine
Supporter
Now that Mario has his orders to get in the Super Stealth Logan, the next step is for him to go into the Blue World to get to know just how to fly the damn thing so he doesn't kill himself or someone else with his ignorance behind the joystick. Once inside the cockpit, he clicks in on the radio, "Zuko here. I'm going to Traverse the Super Logan to get an idea of how to fly this baby, then I'll be ready to go. Give me two shakes."

With his eyes closed, Mario places his hands on the controls and dives in to start his communication with the spirit of the machine.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
One of the Broadsword's animated crew stepped forward (this time, with a working tablet!) and displayed, "NEGATIVE, LIEUTENANT. THIS IS THE VF-1S PILOTED BY LIEUTENANT HALL DURING YOUR EARLIER SORTIE. IT HAS BEEN FULLY REPAIRED AND FITTED WITH A FAST PACK FOR YOUR NEXT ASSIGNMENT. DOES IT MEET YOUR NEEDS?"
Elinor looked up at her repaired -- more than repaired -- Valkyrie and smiled. That smile remained as she glanced back briefly at Sam and nodded. "It sure does, and thank you kindly!"

As my War-queen Taniya has said, 'War is our way, our purpose, our life - you may as well have all the fun in it that you can!' Vroom, vroom!" Cera blushed a little and quickly amended. "Er, I added the 'vroom, vroom' part..."
Elinor grinned and leaned over to whisper, "Nothing wrong with a little vroom-vroom!"

Samantha, just get a weapon type from each of us and give us whatever you think is best in that category.
"Energy rifle for me, too, please," Elinor called as she headed for her Valkyrie. "Oh, Mack? Is Cera flyin' herself down or is she with one of us again?" She ran through her own pre-flight as she awaited a response.
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
Elinor looked up at her repaired -- more than repaired -- Valkyrie and smiled. That smile remained as she glanced back briefly at Sam and nodded. "It sure does, and thank you kindly!"
"Energy rifle for me, too, please," Elinor called as she headed for her Valkyrie. "Oh, Mack? Is Cera flyin' herself down or is she with one of us again?" She ran through her own pre-flight as she awaited a response.
Sam bowed briefly in agreement and appreciation for Elinor's praise before returning to work.

Shirley climbed up into the black Super Valkyrie. As she rose up the ladder, she responded to Elinor. "Well, there are five Wild Cards pilots and we have five birds. Five Cards for five birds means Cera gets the Super Stealth Logan that's been freed up." Cera seemed to have already drawn this conclusion and was placing one bare hand upon its hull when Professor Stein called out with his naturally-loud voice.

"Mario! Cera! A moment, all of you!" Professor Stein clasped his hands from the back seat of the Ajax. "Don't Traverse just yet! You must understand - this morning, you go into combat not only as soldiers protecting Earth, but as Traversers. Prepare yourselves with me! Pause a moment. Calm yourselves. Take four deep breaths. Empty your minds of distractions..."

"...that we might go into the world as Traversers together."

And just like that, each of you heard the Fat Gandalf's voice directly inside of your minds. You felt yourselves connected to one another via polyphonic nexus except unlike Iris, the change was smoother and more effortless than the caring scrath had ever before done it.

"Wow..." Shirley said. "But do we have time for this professor?"

"This won't take but a moment in our world, my good lieutenant. Consider this a mandatory class if you want to have a technopathic edge in your mission ahead.
"Now..." you felt a touch of mirth accompanying the old man's words. "...who is taking along the dratted cat?"

"Meeew!" ("Heeeey!")
Trouble meowed with comical outrage with both with his voice and his mind. And you understood both simultaneously.

Shirley grinned. "Elinor! You're good with animals, farm-girl. You've got Trouble!" Then as the mechanical kitten raced to Elinor's side, Shirley realized what she had said. "Uh, yeah!"

"She has trouble, all right,"
Professor Stein said. "Now, Wild Cards. Class is in session throughout our entire mission, for as long as I am with you today. I want all of you to place a bare hand upon the machine that will be carrying you into battle. We will merge with them together..."

As you placed your hands and focused, you slipped away from the physical world and into the Blue World. Together. You were in a realm where you felt light and free, but you could only see and hear for a short distance. Toph, Mario, Elinor, Shirley, and Cera all seemed like holographic blue-tinged images of themselves. Professor Stein was a very cool-looking floating disembodied head some six feet tall, beard and all. MechaKitten seemed the least-changed; he was purely himself, only tinged in blue. But your team was not alone.

Hovering all around you were great, shining somethings, looking like bright, electric clouds of kinetic energy. You could see inside these clouds. It was almost like electronically-looking inside someone's brain with all of the neural pathways firing and traveling at the speed of thought, except these were clearly machines. Each were relatively the same size as the machines you sought to operate.

"Five Cores for five veritechs," Professor Stein explained. "Notice, Wild Cards, the Cores have met us here. They are Friendly. Don't mess this up! Now then. Move toward the machine you wish to interact with, slowly and with respect. Easy now." You glided along the Blue World approaching the Cores of machines that you knew to be the veritechs in the physical world. The cloud-machines did not retreat, did not vanish, did not challenge you, but stayed where they were.

"Cera? You first, my dear."

Cera glanced to Shirley whose bluer-than-normal eyes gave permission. Cera flowed up to the Core of a cloud that was dark and shrouded but very much alive with internal highways of electronic activity. "Machine. I require your assistance. I request you allow me to Traverse with you. Together, you and I will fulfill our protocols."

The Core answered. "WHAT IS YOUR PROTOCOL?"

Cera had to answer. To remain quiet and attempt to continue was borderline to forcing herself on it. What could be more dangerous here? "To destroy the enemies of those that created you. Our mission is to rescue other machines like yourselves from danger. We are to return them to the Broadsword where they were created. If we do nothing, they might well face destruction and the crew here also suffer for it"

The Core's response was immediate. "I WILL ASSIST YOU." The Core moved beside Cera, hovering over her almost protectively.

Professor Stein's big blue head smiled from under his big blue beard. "Excellent, Cera! You do your people proud!" Professor Stein turned to you. "Who is next? Come now, don't be shy."
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Shirley grinned. "Elinor! You're good with animals, farm-girl. You've got Trouble!" Then as the mechanical kitten raced to Elinor's side, Shirley realized what she had said. "Uh, yeah!"
Elinor chuckled. "C'mon, then, Trouble." She patted her shoulder and made ready to catch if he took the hint; if he didn't, she scooped him up instead and put him on her shoulder herself.

Professor Stein turned to you. "Who is next? Come now, don't be shy."
Elinor "stepped" up towards the cloud-Core that seemed to represent her Valkyrie. She'd chosen that particular mecha because it was already familiar, not just because of her specializing in Valkyries, but from their time in combat and in flight on the earlier mission. Coolly she addressed the waiting Core. "Hey there, friend. I'm Elinor, and we'll be flying together again today to rescue some of our other friends. Will you let me Traverse with you to increase our chances of success?"
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
The Core floated before Elinor with what could have been taken as uncertainty. "MY PROTOCOL DOES NOT CONTAIN A DEFINITION FOR 'FRIEND.' WHAT IS YOUR PROTOCOL?"

Professor Stein seemed to wait patiently if Elinor needed his advice. He knew communicating with Cores was not always a simple matter.
 

Kaerri

Dannigan's Lady
Administrator
Supporter
Elinor thought about what Cera had said. "To protect the human race, the planet Earth, and our allies. Allies and friends are those who work with us toward a common goal. Today we are going to find and retrieve machines like you who are in danger from our enemies, so that we can continue working together."
 

Dannigan

Kaerri's Man. =)
Supporter
As the engineer in Elinor came out through her words, the Core seemed to relax and stay where it was. When Elinor concluded, the humongous cloud of energy of the Core hovered about Elinor in agreement. "I WILL ASSIST YOU."

Professor Stein grinned and mouthed an eager and silent, "Yesss!"
 

Psychie

Princess Psychie
Toph raises up her metaphysical hand. "I'll go next." Approaching the Ajax Core, she sends out the thought, "I am your pilot. Our protocol is to now prepare to go into combat in order to rescue captured crew members and bring them back here. I require your assistance in allowing me to Traverse with you in order to be ready to function at full efficiency. What is your status?"
 

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