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GasMaskie

"Wait and Hope"
"You're a hardened criminal now, Ida Sommers. A genuine taboo breaker." He smirked. That certainly wasn't wrong at any rate. It seemed that the screeching of the bestial Husk had finally died down. That meant that either the connection was properly established or the pilot(s) had died from the mental strain. It seemed to have been preoccupied during the battle - some sort of maneuver from that childish pilot who suggested that the monster hunt turn into a game? Whatever the case, it wasn't an issue for the time being.

Closing the lid on the now empty urn, the young man placed it at his side and took a seat next to the girl. He kicked his feet out at the wind. As painful as it was for him, he had felt a certain relief for finally carrying out her last wishes. Just how heavily her new status weighed upon her was unknown to the genius. Considering that they only knew each other for the span of the day, it meant that there was still much to learn about the girl. It dawned on him that they'd have to reactivate the Husk and lower it into a crouch or a supine position to actually get down after he had torn off the vegetation, but he paid it no mind as he sat in silence next to her.

"..." He glanced over at her, noticing that her eyes had shut. Perhaps she had fallen asleep? Their shoulders were touching, but the pale boy was careful enough so as not to stir her as he retrieved his notebook from his coat pocket. It was best to write down one's thoughts before they were forgotten. Given how she had broken into tears after the fight and her sudden affection, he could only posit that the fight had left her tired and suffering from fatigue under the strain of the connection. She had to have fallen asleep.

"...Either plain white or white with green frogs. Blue with white stripes is a strong contender - a plain but nonetheless safe choice. Or is it white with blue stripes? Hmm..." He muttered his own guesses softly under his breath. In the midst of combat, he had forgotten to probe her mind for the answer to his question. Well, she was certainly asleep. And it's not like she'd ever be able to read the rest of his notes on her. The soft scritching of his writing utensil on paper became ambiance amidst the tranquil silence of Utsāha 's cockpit.


(Re: @Coin)
 
The sun crept quietly over the mountains as the valley returned to its prior state of quiet, the reddened orb slipping inch by inch behind the mountains. The Husks stopped moving as their pilots gathered their thoughts, some falling into states of emotional shock, while others merely sat idly by, attempting to rationalize what had happened, and predict what was due to come next. Even the Husks themselves felt tired, weary, defeated in the face of victory, as if their awakening in and of itself was not only duty, but failure. Even so, perhaps those were thoughts and emotions for another time.

The cascade of cars that had arrived from over the hilly roadways finally pulled to a stop in the fresh, violently-created clearings that surrounded the sites of battle, several slowing in order to navigate upturned earth and splintered timber. From their vantage point, it was impossible to tell just how ravaged the valley was; hundreds of years of growth had been scattered and shattered in a handful of surreal moments, yet from the lofty view offered by the Husks themselves, the devastation inflicted on the once-spotless valley was either something to behold, or repulsive beyond measure.

The adults within each car--some armed and armored, others less so--emerged slowly, and with various versions of shock, awe, and even fear plastered on their faces. Several pointed their weapons upward, while others apparently thought it futile to even think of violence in the presence of machines so large. Wisps of smoke trailed upward from gigantic cannons and venting ports, brief elements of movement surrounding the otherwise stilled machines. Those within were free to look down upon the enraptured adults, each and every one of them attempting to maintain their composure as best they could in the face of the Husks as a representative among them spoke to the children via bullhorn, his voice echoing across the valley.

"Step down and come with us! We promise we won't hurt you!" Some among the crowd were familiar faces; teachers, guardsmen, potentially even parents, all joining the search for Column's lost children.

---​

Slowly, with trembling hand, Modestine reached for the turned key next to the steering wheel and killed the car's engine, pulling the dangling item with her retreating arm and shoving it into her pocket. She pulled back her open labcoat, reaching for something holstered on her side with one hand, and something clipped to her waist with the other. Cartridge met firearm, yet though it bared a resemblance to weapons of old detailed in history textbooks, the item itself was quite different, and rather clinical. Flat white, rounded in shape, and highlighted with blue operational lights that flickered on when the mysterious magazine was inserted and the safety pulled back. Modestine gripped the odd item with both hands, keeping it readied in front of her as she looked back towards Alex.

"I want you to stay close to me, and don't leave my sight, okay?" Her attempt at sounding firm was a good one, yet there were cracks in it all the same. The shattered facility loomed just beyond, the still wreckage of a once pristine, uncharted building waiting before them, along with whatever might lie within.
 
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simj22

Outdated Cat
CainShe could feel a laugh climbing up her throat. As she released the controls, it started off as a chuckle, then escalated into full laughter. It took a minute to fully die down and for her to realise she was breathing heavily. The impact when the fist of the Husk drove into that creature, the explosion of colour as the other Husks opened fire and rushed in on the creature, it sent a rush up her body that she only felt the first time she found a new challenge. Such a thrill indeed. Now that the dust was clearing, though, and the innards of that creature was raining down upon the valley, Cain was again aware of the throbbing in her head. It seemed to have intensified, pulsing painfully against her temple. She gritted her teeth and rested against the controls, her free hand clutching at her head. It didn't seem like Sehnsucht was trying to invade her head any more. If anything, it seemed exhausted. She expressed her disappointment mentally to the Husk with a condescending smirk. It did not reply. She decided to leave it alone.

She moved over to Jeremy, and opened her mouth as if to say something, then shut it again, ruminating over exactly what to say to him. It was certainly impulsive of her to have thrown him into such circumstances. She dearly wanted to apologise, but she found that she couldn't say the words, not out of pride. Rather, she found that her words were probably not enough. She scratched her head, scowled, and looked out of Sehnsucht’s visor at the setting sun. The adrenaline that flooded into her earlier was not enough to deafen her to Jeremy’s shouts, and she wasn't particularly happy about giving her friend so much grievance. Damn it. She cursed herself, and chewed on her lip, then threw herself forwards, enveloping her partner in a hug. She squeezed him tightly for a second, not nearly hard enough to crush him, but enough to feel the warmth of his body press against hers, before drawing apart from him, unwilling to make eye contact with him as she smoothed her hair back and returned her attention to the sun and the gathering crowd beneath the Husks.

Sorry, Jerry,” she muttered, just loud enough for him to hear.

She saunted over to Sehnsucht's visor and peered downwards at the crowd, the loudspeaker somehow managing to reach the crimson Husk's hearing. "Uh...what do you think we should do?"

@The One Eyed Bandit
 

Inkwell

Junior Member
Hexa loved that Mochi said she was right about it being dangerous to have left her alone to go berserk. Besides she wanted to to help Mochi anyways. It almost made her giddy when she also agreed with her statement about Seb being stupid or brave. It could be said that Hexa loved being right and having people agree with her. I mean who didn't like a good ego stroking.

When Mochi moved back in her seat she realised how far the girl had been slumped forward. Hexa wondered if she had really taken up the much space or if Mochi had tried to put as much space between them as she could. The latter thought made Hexa feel a bit sad with a familiar frown returning to her face. Hearing Mochi's thoughts on what the adults would do didn't help her frown thinking to herself that they would definitely get a slap on the wrists at the very least. Hell her step mom was definitely going to give some speech to her about being reckless. Though hearing that Mochi wanted to get away from that things remains made Hexa start moving the Husk back to where they had found it knowing that Mochi would want her infamous jacket back and bike back. A few things flashed in her mind when Mochi said we can do whatever you want causing her to bit her lip.

Hexa found it fascinating how Mochi knew what Trocaire felt and that it had been around as long as it. Of course Hexa had been feeling inklings of the same but, unlike the other girl she wasn't entirely in sink yet as she still felt some pain behind her eyes. Though Hexa was trying to let whatever this link was do its thing. When the girl sorry for Hexa having it sit behind her Hexa hated the girls somber tone. Replying without thinking, "it was better than sitting behind Seb and you were lovely to wrap my arms around." Realising what she had said Hexa added in her embarrassed state, "I.. um mean it was enjoyable to see you fight and.. um holding on to you was no different than hugging a big teddy." In her mind she added 'a very pretty and beautiful teddy'.

After that Hexa stayed quiet until a bunch of cars showed up with loads of people. Some of them she even recognised thinking to herself that the whole city had come out to see them. Hearing the message Hexa lent over to Mochi, "I think we should do what they say as long as your comfortable getting out now. I think we're close to where you left your stuff."

@Entity.Eclypse
 

Lucem Tenebris

Nine Thousand Club
Even after they had left the scene of the battle, each boom painfully played in Alex's ears. The volume itself wasn't the reason for the discomfort, but rather the fact that he knew where they were coming from. It wasn't only his ears. Ever since he made the decision to enter the car with Modestine, he had been plagued by a sinking feeling in his chest. As the once thunderous sounds of conflict grew quieter with each passing second, that sensation only worsened.

While he remained composed on the outside, his mind was still racing, torn between concern and many questions that needed to be asked. The number of those question rose when the radio briefly came to life, only to be silenced by Modestine. He made no visible reaction to her cutting off the emergency message. Even before hearing it, he knew very well that she wasn't taking him back to town. Still, he sat there in silence, even as she made her request.

He only nodded before doing as he was asked, removing the small disc and carefully taking out the batteries. Before it disappeared, the blinking light looked somewhat like a transmitter to him. He didn't have enough experience to say for certain, but it would make sense, considering everything he had just heard. While he didn't know the reason, it was clear that Modestine didn't want to return to Column. That should've been enough for him to be suspicious of her. As soon as he noticed what she was doing, exiting the car probably would've been the natural thing to do. However, he didn't. He just stayed put, returning the disc to its resting place.

Modestine had come to save him. As vulnerable and emotionally distraught as she was, she had been there to help him. He wasn't completely sure about her motivations. It had been years since he last saw her face. However, with her tear-stained face in front of him, trying to keep him safe, he could still say that he trusted her. Maybe that was just old emotions getting the best of him.

While he did trust the woman at his side, he still acknowledged that the relationship they once shared wasn't the same anymore. Even though they sat close together in the car, there was still distance between them. It seemed as though she had noticed too. He tried to say something when she apologized, but the words refused to come out when she told him to put the disc back. Going back to the way things once were may not have been possible. It wouldn't be very surprising. Time had a way of doing things like that.

The last time he saw Modestine, he was still a kid. All things considered, he didn't know much about her. However, whenever he'd see her, his face would light up. Her admired her, much like he did his own parents. As a coworker of his father, it wasn't surprising that he'd take in an interest in the woman. Asking questions, pouting a little when she couldn't answer, and smiling with a sparkle in his eyes at all the things she could tell him. Even though his parents would tell him not to bother her too much, they'd still look just as happy, knowing that keeping his curiosity in check was a hard thing to do. Out of the people that his mom and dad would invite into their home, she was one of his favorites. However, the time would come when he couldn't ask questions anymore.

After his mother died, Modestine seemed to disappear along with her, just like his father. It wasn't as if he held any resentment toward her or anything. There was no reason for something like that. She wasn't responsible for looking after some kid that she didn't know very well. She wasn't obligated to check on him at all during the years he stayed in that house all by himself. The fact that she had enough care for him to do something like this was more than he could say he deserved. Even though they may not have much of a relationship anymore, he was still thankful for that. He could still place his trust in her, even after all these years.

Suddenly, every thought and old memory was forced out of his mind as Modestine slammed on the brakes, forcing the car to a halt. Reeling a bit from the shock, Alex shook his head before looking to see what was in front of him. What was there clearly wasn't meant to be. Barren of everything except for dirt and dust, nothingness consumed the scenery ahead of them. In the center of a smoldering wreckage, a single building lay in ruins.

With the smell of smoke and heated rubber in his nose, Alex could tell by Modestine's terrified expression that the destruction was far more serious than it appeared. If her trembling wasn't enough of an indication, the object she removed from her coat did even more to show the severity of the situation. It wasn't the same as the ones he had seen before, but the resemblance was close enough for him to take notice. Much like the Husks, it was a tool of war. A weapon designed to kill. Maybe that realization was the reason Alex found his hand moving toward the object in his pocket, feeling his injured fingers brush against metal.

As he exited the car, he could hear the cracks in her voice. She was trying to stay strong for the both of them. There was also that ticking again. A tick for each step he took toward her. Toward the wreckage that signaled danger. Between those ticks and the destruction in front of him, it reminded him of what he had left behind. Everything was playing out like a bad dream. His friends were fighting against monsters. Everything around him was crumbling and being consumed by flames. He was forced to leave, not knowing where he was going or why. Here he stood, powerless and with Modestine clinging to a gun in fear. Somewhere between getting out of the car and reach her, he could feel the weight of everything that had happened so far growing heavier. Although, compared to what everyone else was going through, he didn't have a right to complain about any of it. Even so...

"Alright." His voice was still calm, despite their current situation. He still trusted Modestine and would do as she said, sticking close to her as they ventured into the unknown. "Just one thing." However, he still wanted to know. Maybe if he felt like he understood, even a little, something could be done about those feelings of his. "I know you can't tell me right now, but whenever you have the chance..." Maybe not even for a reason like that. Maybe he just wanted to make sense of things. Just to have a grasp on something. To have a small piece of clarity in the mayhem that had been brought to him and the other children on this important day. "Please tell me what's going on."

@_Line 213
 

Entity.Eclypse

2nd DLC Fighter for Smash Ultimate
Mochi laughed quietly at her words, not because she was intentionally trying to be mean or anything but because she had been referred to as a stuffed bear. There was a moment of contemplation though as she listened to the momentary silence of the husk, it was nice to not hear a barrage of gunfire or the screaming of another human being going crazy. It was calming to her, taking her away from the unreal scenario that had played out before them earlier. She saw Hexa leaning in and had no clue what this was a sign of, so she simply leaned in on her and put her head against the other girls chest. Her back didn't feel as stressed from that at least, but then she felt an awkwardness return to her almost as soon as the words accompanying it were spoken.

The pair of pigtails and body accompanying them moved backwards fast, she had made sure that she didn't hit Hexa though since that would just make the situation worse. "W-well i'm glad it wasn't too difficult to ride behind me..." she said and looked down to her arms now, and immediately made note that her jacket was missing from her body. She had worn it in but it wasn't on her now, so she glanced around for a moment. "Hang on... I could've sworn I had my jacked on when I entered Trocaire. Where did it go?" Worry struck her in that moment as she looked around the Husk for her precious jacket, that was pretty much her whole identity and something far too precious to give up for her. She had to rotate her body slightly but remained holding the controls of the Husk, not wanting to leave Hexa in the state she had felt before. She saw a flicker of the yellow striped and released a sigh of relief.

"Never-mind I found it. I'll put that on before we go out to meet whoever they are, When they see you with me... They'll probably judge you a bit harsher, but I appreciate you all the same partner" She winked with a smile present to her face, she couldn't deny that this whole debacle had been exhilarating. But it was one of those once in a lifetime things, one that normal people wouldn't get to experience. "I'm letting go of the controls alright? Release in 3... 2... 1." She said to give a heads up before releasing the controls and standing. She walked over to the side and carefully removed her jacket from some wires that had caught it earlier and replaced it back on her body, covering the white tank-top she had on which was now wrinkled to hell.

Her hand ran over the cords for a moment before walking towards the hatch, "I guess we should greet our adoring fans. Hopefully you're ready for a climb down... if you slip try to catch onto me." She teased of course, if one of them slipped then their chapter would be over. With that out there she opened the hatch, the power of the winds forced her pigtails to fly about uncontrollably. This was when she knew they'd concluded their moment of time in the husk... and yet the memories and emotion still resonated somewhere in her mind.
Mentions: @Inkwell (Hexa)
 

Hextremus

Beyblade Enthusiast
Otto watched with disinterest as the mass of cars descended upon the scorched valley, spewing out the adult humans occupying them that approached the functioning Husks with clear, poorly hidden trepidation. One of them even whipped out a megaphone, spouting some promise to not hurt the children and to come with them. Otto couldn't help but sigh quietly; piloting a Husk wouldn't help him any, and would most likely lead to them taking a higher interest in him. Them, the medical officials that performed their lengthy checks on him. The orange stripes down the cuts of their labcoats had diminished his appreciation for the colour. The interest they took in him was unwanted and time wasting, and he was the only one they were invested in as far as he could tell. The one chink in the unflappable armour he wore.

He checked Shēnqíng's position; the Husk had returned to a kneel, down on one knee. The same position it had held until they had so rudely awakened it. Only this time the greatsword that had once rested on its back now had its tip embedded in the ground, the great machine's right hand grasping the hilt of the blade as it knelt while its other hand remained still at its side.

"Looks like our victory was short lived. Shēnqíng seems to agree."

Otto knew of course that the exhaustion and even defeat he could feel the Husk giving off stemmed from a different source to the defeat he himself felt, but his mind was still racing at 472 miles an hour. Battle was not something he had anticipated he would experience in his life, and the experience seemed to be the greatest danger to the blank outward persona that he had previously believed to be infallible. A mistake, and not one that he could remedy. He sighed again and keyed something into his controls, Shēnqíng's entrance hatch opening up again for the second time in god knew how long.

"I suppose we should go with them. They'll probably take my bike back if we don't."

He slid out of his chair once he'd finished speaking, eye twitching ever so slightly as the final dregs of pain in his torso were stirred by the movement. They quelled as he continued moving, making his way to the entrance of the Husk and stepping out into the light of the sun to observe the approaching adults with his own eyes. His left hand found itself slipping into the pocket of his blazer as a gust of wind whispered past him, giving him the perfect indifferent anime pose opportunity. He took it.

Once the wind died down, he pivoted on his heel and extended his free right hand back into the Husk, a beckoning hand aimed towards Kori. His expression didn't change. He opened his mouth to compliment her performance. To congratulate her, congratulate them both. Hell, to tell her they should get down the Husk. His lips found each other again, swallowing the words. He didn't have to tell her anything; she already knew.

[Interaction w/ @ElectricPizza]
 

Soviet Panda

Red Panda Commanda.
The storm still raged, but Connor was starting to get a handle on it. It still hurt, but it was more an echo of what it had been. He listened to the boy, who said his name was Sebastian, and nodded understandingly. "Yeah, will do. But how do I? This, this thing has been running itself until now. And I have no clue how it's even working right now." In fact, he wanted out of this thing. It has brought him nothing but pain, suffering, and even had tried to consume him. If one looked at it that way, then they to would no doubt want out.
 

dwif

I just love Brendan Fraser
"It's hard to explain, the whole thing is kinda like an extension of yourself. It's best to take it slow to begin with. And trust me the pain will get easier to deal with as time goes on."

He help guide the mech down to the ground, although he wasn't experienced at piloting it he was better than the boy and did his best to accommodate for any mistakes he made. Once the husk was down he sat there in silence, listening to what was going on outside. How many people had come to get them? What was their plan if the kids refused to get out the husks? It's not like they had anyway of dealing with these things themselves. He quietly laughed to himself. It was probably just for those in charge to save face and look strong in a time of difficulty. But that'd also mean that someone would have to be held responsible for what happened here. As if his family weren't in a bad enough position already, now their son is counted as a criminal.They needed someone to blame for what happened, and who was more likely to be blamed? A kid from a family that contributes their fair share or someone from a home like him?

There was no point in putting off the inevitable any longer. "I'm guessing if we want out of this thing we need to let go at the same time. Let go on 1. 3...2...1." He released his grip on the controls, with the connection fading and taking the form of a dull headache. He made his way over to the hatch and pulled himself through it. Around them were dozens of cars all with worried looking adults and other official looking people. Clutching his ribs he slowly walked towards them, preparing himself to take as much blame as possible to try and help the others who were only trying to protect themselves and their families.
 

Inkwell

Junior Member
Hexa couldn't believe how stressed Mochi became at the fact she was no longer wearing her jacket. It even crossed her mind that maybe her step mom could make her another if Hexa buttered her up enough. Though knowing Mochi's reputation it was unlikely. Letting loose a massive sigh of relief when Mochi found it she was glad the girl hadn't lost something precious. Hexa also felt bad because she had mistaken the girls blazer for her signature jacket how bloody stupid felt wanting to kick herself for her mistake.

When Mochi told her to get ready to let go she made sure to pay close attention to the count not wanting to be left holding on. Seeing Mochi put on her jacket Hexa realised how well it suits her making her look tough, but she also saw that she looked more comfortable. Hexa thought to herself that Mochi loved her jacket the same as she loved her collection of boots. Rolling her eyes at adoring fans comment Hexa let out a cynical, "as if." She smiled slightly when Mochi said to grab onto her if she needed too climbing down. In a slightly playful tone mocking tone Hexa let slip, "my hero." Slowly and shakily Hexa slipped her legs over the side of the open hatch. Though she waited for Mochi to go first so she could follow her lead.

@Entity.Eclypse
 
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Modestine glanced over her shoulder again; either the fact that Alex was still there with her was keeping her sane, or she simply couldn't bear to look at the building the two were about to venture into. She opened her mouth to speak, yet found herself at a loss for words after several moments, only managing to speak again after she had turned forward and reaffirmed her grip on the strange gun. "To be honest Alex, I...I can only explain so much. But I'll try."

A long moment of silence. Modestine took her first tentative step toward the building, eventually managing to work herself up to a jog as she lowered the pistol slightly. "Come on," she called behind her, now managing to keep an even pace through the dust. Sandy trails of what was once a forest drifted upward into the breeze that blew across the freshly-made flats, the spring sun beating down upon them with no shade to lessen it. Step after step brought them closer to the looming remains of the former buildling, and Modestine slowed her pace once more. The wreckage told the tale of something bursting out from the inside; not quite an explosion, perhaps more akin to some sort of escape. Even if the building's shell was completely empty, it was still no place for a child. Whatever reason Modestine had for dragging Alex along with her must have been a good one.

"Your father and I--used to work here," she said quietly, managing at least the beginning of an explanation, despite the pause in her words, "he was on duty today."

Perhaps that was all that was needed to know for the time being. Modestine stepped through the shattered glass face in the front of the building, completely ignoring its shattered as she passed into the shade.

---​

One by one, the children emerged from the machines, each towering high above Column's other residents as they stepped out onto the ledges provided by their open hatches. The breeze passing over and between the mountains tossed hair and ceremonial dress alike, blessing those standing on-high with motion that contrasted the stillness of those down below. For a long period, there was silence; the adults made no further demands, waiting as they tried to hide their instinctual desires to fight or flee.

Even if there was nothing to fight at present, it would have been strange indeed to think that one could win against the awakened titans.

Yet these skyward beings themselves had returned to their silence, waiting until awoken and commanded once more. The necessity of future awakenings was not lost on them, for each had seemingly left itself at the ready, standing with both triumph and renewed purpose; for those that were not within, who had not felt the myriad emotions, the hesitation, the pain of the Husks themselves, they were nothing if not imposingly heroic, freshly reborn, impervious to the doubts and desires of the adults below, and looking forward to nothing but the future.

A falsehood, if ever there was one; yet, the truth was known to the pilot pairs alone.

As the children descended their great machines, the valley slowly returned to something resembling life. One by one, birds returned to the branches that remained, flocks and families eventually taking roost upon standing trees and powerlines. Deer and creatures of the underbrush picked their way over upturned ground, searching for old homes and burrows long decimated. The enterprising few found new abodes amongst the wreckage, taking advantage of cover created by fallen trunks and new clearings created by the struggle of the giants overhead.

Dust settled around forgotten bicycles. Berets blown away in the wind finally settled, catching themselves against broken branches. Trampled, broken buds would in turn serve as sustenance for those lucky enough to have avoided blooming before the battle. Husk valley, and all that which still stood within it, were now those that witnessed the first true conflict in six-hundred years.

Withering flowers.

Broken metal.

Ravaged ground.

Spring.






Episode 1.
Fifteen.​
 
"Have a good conference, sir," the aide said, his voice hushed even as he ushered the mayor into a seemingly empty room. The door closed as soon as the elder had entered, the click of the lock echoing through the blank white space as a dim light in the center illuminated a single chair.

The click of two footsteps and a cane gave motion to the air, the mayor's lonesome journey prolonged by his years. He reached the chair, finally, leaning the cane against its arm before sinking into it with a long sigh. He reached for the other arm, pulling a simple set of augmentation gear from its hanging position at the end of the arm, situating the visor over his eyes, and the earbuds in his ears. The empty room flickered to life, yet only for his eyes, illuminated with a holographic representation of an entire hearing, faces of light shrouded with featurelessness surrounding him.

"Ignis Mako," a voice boomed. The old man did not respond. "What do you have to say for your colony?"

"I say that we are the victim of recklessness I advised against years prior," he eventually replied, prompting brief murmurs from the rest of the crowd. "Column is not the only colony to have periodic contact with Husks for multiple generations. The only variable that has changed is the repeated awakening of ABE neurals in the name of research."

"Nonsense." Another voice spoke, this one cooler, smoother, and more composed than the first. "Even if we are to accept the interlinking of combat machines and ABE neurals, it falls upon each Colony leader to ensure old world technology is left undisturbed. Children are young and impressionable; if any who happen to contain the MO-gene--""

"The MO-gene is irrelevant to your concerns, as are the individual practices of each Colony. Colonies Parasol, Yukon, Marche, Solstice, and many more, have all been in far more frequent contact with Husks, and for far longer, than Column itself, and as we are all aware, humanity as a whole has been sorted in order to minimize the impact of MO-genes on the entirety of our respective populations." The old man paused, his voice calm and level, as it had been. "If it did not happen here, it would have happened in any of the other places I mentioned. The difference rests solely in the shifting of practices at ABE facilities; I have neural activity findings prepared to submit that lends further credence to this position."

Another round of murmuring commenced. "If we are to ensure humanity's future is a sustainable future," the collected voice continued, "then the Integration Initiative must be a success. That, in turn, requires more heavy ABE research. Without allowing ABEs to reach more complex forms, progress has been slow; researching individual elements and stand-alone samples simply is not enough. We must have access to live subjects--"

"--All of which will spur the mind of Combine One," Mayor Mako replied, prompting an uproar from various sections of the hearing.

"Your attempts to spark fear in the hearts of this council through the mentioning of Combine One in such a manner will not be taken lightly, Ignis Mako," boomed the first voice, struggling for recognition over the crowd as a third called for order.

"The gentlemen from Colony Progenitor wishes to speak!"

"The hearing recognizes the gentleman from Colony Progenitor."

One of the holographic beings stood, and Mako slowly turned his head. "If it pleases the council, the joint research team of Colonies Progenitor and Faith have been able to corroborate Colony Column's findings without interference with Husk contact. At current we expect--"

The man's voice was quickly drowned out by another frenzied uprising. Mako smiled, though the expression lasted only a moment.

---​

How long has it been?

Though the rooms are windowless, they are still oddly comfortable; the beds are soft, and clad with sheets and blankets strangely comforting in terms of texture. The rooms are not too hot, nor are they too cold, and each even comes with a selection of books; nothing heavy, yet nothing overly light either. Enough to pass the time, and keep the mind turning. The walls are clad in off-whites and pastel colors, feeling more like a nursery than a place of confinement. The floors are wooden, of all things, yet warm, smooth, and free of splinters No clinical whites, nor overbearing, darker hues, are anywhere to be found. Were it not for the circumstances surrounding the relocation of a select few of Column's children to such rooms, they perhaps would have been nice places to stay.

The loneliness within is perhaps the most crushing portion of the entire stay--hours? Days? Yet every so often, white-garbed nurses and doctors, always accompanied by one of their number clad in a matching labcoat yet distinguished by orange markings upon it, brought forth equipment for the same sorts of medical routines usually performed every few months, as opposed to what was perhaps every few hours. If resistance was shown, they simply came back later, as if afraid that the children would break with so much as the slightest unexpected tap upon their frames.

With the tests came questions, questions about seemingly everything and anything--how the day started, how it ended, what was had for breakfast, for lunch, what they thought about the weather, what they thought about Column, what about their life--and each and every supplied answer was written down with equal parts haste and detail, scratched with great care into the notebooks carried by each orange-clad physician. Then, when either rebuffed or satisfied, they simply left, content to continue or try again some other time, whichever the case may be.

And so things continued, until clicks came from each and every individual door, followed by a nurse peeking their head into the small, confined space.

For better or worse, the children of Column were finally being let out into the open. Each nurse parted, leaving the door to each room slightly ajar before disappearing out of sight. Silence persisted, until the sounds of light footsteps and shifting doors perhaps signaled the others emerging from their rooms.

Just beyond was a circular common room, carpeted, spotless, and covered in the same comforting pastels as each individual room. Comfortable tables and chairs all remained situated around lovingly-crafted wooden tables, nearly old-world-esque in their detailing. The sunlight above, though it failed to disclose any sort of location, nonetheless made clear via its open view of the night sky that not much time had passed at all. The way away, a long, unguarded hallway stretching around a sharp corner, seemingly completed the round of doors on the far end of the open area; several doors remained closed, for there were, at the time, more rooms than children, or so it seemed.

---​

Glass shattered as Modestine drove the grip of her weapon into an emergency cache, clearing some of the sharp remains away with the edge of her weapon before pulling free an identical one. Flicking the safety, she handed the weapon to Alex, her pained expression visible from beat to beat as blue hazard lights strobed throughout the hallway. Firearm training wasn't part of Column's school curriculum--as far as most knew, it was an activity reserved almost exclusively for guardsmen--but Modestine herself seemed to hope that the device itself was self-explanatory. The very fact that she needed to hand a gun to a child seemed to reflect some sort of failure on her part, though she did not allow Alex to focus on her expression overlong.

Their time above-ground seemingly did not last long; though the facility's above-ground elements were large enough, the series of sprawling hallways beneath was as maze-like as it came. Though Modestine did her best to keep Alex focused on her, signs of carnage were unmistakable--shattered equipment, light smears of red along walls and floors, flickering lights, broken glass--but no bodies.

There were never any bodies.

What was once a sprawling research facility of some sort had now become some sort of ghost town, yet Modestine remained wary all the while, never talking more than she needed to, and never raising her voice above a whisper. Her footsteps were light, and her fixation on ensuring Alex remained with her seemed unbreakable.

She came to a short stop at the end of a hallway, peeking around a corner quietly. A light, squelching sort of noise seemed to come from just out of Alex's vision, likely from the source of Modestine's fixation. Glancing back at him, she bade for him to stay where he was, before slowly pointing her weapon around the gap. The firearm let out a loud snap and a hiss, firing its payload down the hall. Whatever it was, it clinked harmlessly against the hallway floor; a sound akin to a rabid, grinding scream echoed throughout the hallway, and Modestine immediately lept back behind cover, tackling Alex to the ground as best she could in the process, gun clattering and sliding across the tiled ground. A large mass of grey and lightly-glowing orange shot toward the hallway corner, squelching against the sharp edge. Its spindly, malformed legs carried its roughly person-sized body with surprising speed, yet it appeared to take time to reform all the same, as if it weren't entirely sure how. Modestine scrambled for her gun, pulling herself off of Alex as she crawled as quickly as she could. The thing writhed, some legs reorienting themselves while others simply disappeared into its mass, only to reconstruct themselves near the bottom. As if sensing the presence of both humans, the being began to reach outward, shifting some of its mass into an ever-growing root of sorts, eventually splitting in two for the sake of reaching them both as it finally managed to stand once again.

"Shoot it Alex! Please!"
 
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Coin

Velut Luna
"And you are certain that you've never come in physical contact with a Husk, or anything pertaining to a Husk before?"

"Certain," Ida would respond in her monotone, her finger tapped impatiently against her forearm.

The decrepit doctor scrawled her not-so-impressive answer onto his notes, though his stalking gaze did not leave Ida's. The questions droned on. Ida was certain she'd been asked that particular question verbatim three or four times that day. At least, she thought it'd been days. It could have been just a few hope-crushing hours of boredom in that sterilized, windowless room, but their insistence to keep Ida awake for interrogation and testing could easily have made the hours drag on into infinity.

Ida had no clue she would miss the wide open of the outdoors until she had been trapped in the birdcage as she was now. Her daydreams while being barraged with questions and even more tests were filled with new and old memories of freedom alike. Along with the most recent exhilaration of piloting a Husk with that boy Morgan, was a fonder memory of flying across Column on the pegs of Ana's bike. It was the first time Ida got to ride on the pegs after Ana finally wasn't in trouble for sneaking out and stealing the loose pipes from a Husk.

"Oh...," Ida whispered under her breath as she realized something. She had been in contact with a Husk prior -- she just hadn't thought of it. Was that really the reason she was able to pilot Utsāha with Morgan?

"What was that, Ms. Sommers?" The doctor interjected, a scowl was plastered to his face as his eyes narrowed on her.

"Ah, it was nothing," Ida shook her head and stowed the thought away for later. The doctor was not so pleased with her answer, as always.

At last freedom came -- in a loose sense of the word. The door clicking open roused Ida from her nap, and though Ida waited a few minutes, no doctor ever came. Assuming she was free to go, Ida peeked into the hallway, then slipped out of her room. Some doors to the other rooms were open as well, and she was glad to see that her friends and classmates weren't hurt after all. Ida's mind carried her feet forward and towards a wide open room bathed in sunlight.

It wasn't outside, but Ida had a feeling that it was the closest she was going to get then. Being the first person up and about, Ida kicked off her shoes and sat cross-legged on a comfortable-looking armchair directly under the sunlight. She stretched her sore muscles, giving a small yawn and palmed her eyes as she waited for others to join her. Maybe once they'd collected themselves, someone would finally tell them how much real trouble they were in.

((Open for interaction))
 

dwif

I just love Brendan Fraser
The gentle facade of the rooms was disingenuous. On the surface it seemed pleasant, but he couldn't come and go as he pleased, and the constant questioning had began to wear his patience thin. He was nothing more than a prisoner here. Maybe for good reason. But he wished they would be more transparent about it, who were they really tricking?

Seb had seen the people in the labcoats before, but why were they here? The last time he'd seen them they were confiscating medical waste that he was supposed to take to be recycled. Was that something to do with the husks? If it was what were they doing with materials related to husks? It was supposed to be illegal to do anything with husks, then why were they above the law? And more importantly who did they work for?

The questioning came far too often. Sure they treated his injuries, but he had saved their lives. He didn't owe them anything. Whenever they came to question him he would ignore them, he wasn't sure if he could trust them anyway, with his only other experience with them being a questionable one.

Once again the door clicking came. Seb prepared himself for more questioning, but no one entered the room. He rose from the bed and walked to the door. It was left open, did this mean he was free to go now? Walking out into the hallway he saw the doors to the other rooms were open too. He slowly made his way down the hallway. There was only one person already out, sat in what seemed like a common room. He didn't recognise them but they were around his age so she was probably another one of the husk pilots. "Prison isn't as bad as they make it out to be right? I could really see myself thriving in a place like this, how about you?"

@Coin
 

GasMaskie

"Wait and Hope"
He should have ran while he had the chance. That was his initial plan - even if it meant abandoning Utsāha for the time being. An unfamiliar environment was one thing, but the true extent of Column's machinations was now more clear than ever. Something that was confirmed by the presence of the orange-marked personnel. Given their presence at previous check-ups, he could only surmise that they had something to do with the Husks. After all, not every Husk had been sealed shut. And yet, prior to the present, the metallic giants had not even stirred. Clearly, there had to have been something that separated this group from previous generations.

Feeling more guarded than usual, Morgan remained staunch in his dismissals and silent rejections towards each question. Perhaps they wrote it off as part of the trauma associated with a loved one. That was only part of it; he was wary of Column as a whole even more now. However, he'd bide his time for now - scope out the rest of the strange location and figure out the best way to escape. After the doctor had left his room, Morgan moved out into the common room.

He spotted the girl, along with another boy - likely one of the other Husk pilots. As he circled around trying to find a seat that wasn't bathed in sunlight, Morgan recognized his voice. Seb who had been in the Trocaire, if he remembered correctly. For some odd reason, he pegged him as the 'softest mouth in prison' for one reason or another. Morgan glanced over to Ida before taking a seat far from her - it'd be interesting to see how she interacted with someone else. Aside from that, this situation gave him ample time to start going through his mental backlog of books. Naturally, he had skimmed through some of the more questionable books he sold. Now would be a good time to start educating himself.

((Open for interaction))

((Mentioned: @Coin, @dwif)
 

Soviet Panda

Red Panda Commanda.
"Alright Connor, tell me exactly what happened. What you were doing once you got in there. What happened to you while you were in there?" The young doctor asked him.

Taking a deep breath, Connor begins to recite the events that lead him to being inside the Husk. When he reached the part where he grabbed hold of the controls, he stopped. "I don't want to talk about it anymore." He stated calmly, trying his best to not remember the consuming memories and emotions that threatened to take away his identity and replace it with it's own.

"Connor, you know you have to," the doctor said patiently, setting down their clipboard. "How about this. It'll be just between us, I promise." the continued, setting their pen on top of the clipboard. They didn't however, turn off their recorder they had tucked away in their pocket.

Connor sat silently for a moment longer before taking a deep, steadying breath. "It was.... It was.... It was angry. It hated everything that it saw, and wanted to destroy it all. It wanted to hurt things. And it couldn't do that without me. It.... It tried to take over. Then that Sebastian kid showed up and I don't know what he did, but it stopped. It was still there, I could feel it. It just, didn't try anymore." He stopped and made eye contact with the doctor. "I won't go back, right? You won't make me do that again?"

"I won't, Connor." The doctor told him with a small, comforting smile. Standing up, they continued. "Thank you for being honest, now get some rest, you look like you needed."

Connor gratefully complied, though a short moment later his door clicked open. And though one would have thought that the boys curiosity would have been curbed a bit, they would be surprised. For Connor got up, and walked right out the door to see what had revealed itself. And there sat Sebastian as well as two other people that he remembered were in his class, but that was about it really. He stood awkwardly off to one side, not really wanting to take a seat but also not wanting to draw to much attention to himself.
 

Entity.Eclypse

2nd DLC Fighter for Smash Ultimate
There was an eerie silence in the room, the lab-coat wearing woman continued to look to the rebellious girl sitting atop the bed. "Lets try this once more, Did you come into contact with the hu-" The woman was cut off by an annoyed sigh from the yellow-striped coat. "Mochi Ren. Age, 15. Recommended Occupation, Confectioner." Mochi spoke and maintained a stone-faced expression, her eyes showed no care for the woman before her despite them having done nothing but attempt to aid her. The woman in the orange looked to Mochi with a kind smile and nodded, "Thank you for your feedback Mochi. We will leave you be for now. If you have any further information that we should know then ensure you alert one of us." The woman was stressing to keep her composure and that was obvious. She glanced down to her notebook and wrote for the same thing for the thirteenth time. With that the woman stood up and began to leave but not before Mochi had her final moment of torment in the woman's life, "Ciao~ Better luck next time!" She practically taunted the woman before the door shut once more.

The annoyed teen collapsed back on the bed she'd been offered and heaved a heavy sigh as she looked to the ceiling. This whole place spoke to her and she couldn't help but agree with what it told her, Boring, this whole event was boring. The fact that they were containing her in this bland room, it was pointless, her parents tried this tactic too. Except when her parents tried it she escaped through a broken window, courtesy of her mothers heels, and if her family couldn't even control her then what was to say these people could? She closed her eyes for a moment to let the darkness envelop her, everything from today had sunk in and she accepted it without much more than the questions she herself could answer. Yet there was still so much she had yet to find out, mainly she was curious about what they'd been fighting, and why it had taken so many husks to kill it. To her it seemed like something you'd read, a scene where a fight was delayed in order to bring in all the characters. But this was the real world, not some guys fever dream of children riding around in giant robots.

She reached into her jacket and from an inner pocket she pulled out her black box-cutter, four metallic clicks echoed in her room as she extended the blade. She held it above her face, her eye looking at the tip of the blade. If one wasn't careful you could very easily poke your eye out with it, then the girl heard clicking that didn't belong to her box-cutter. Glancing towards the door she caught the nurse gazing in at her before moving away again, metallic clicks were sounded again as the blade descended back into itself. "Letting your captives out?" She muttered before taking to her feet and making her way to the door. She stood in her doorway and glanced out to those in the 'common room'.

There were a few people in the room already, she could point out Seb and the rest were unknown to her. She assumed that they were the other pilots and now decided to find a place to scope out the others, so she took the simple route of walking to the far-end of the room and taking a seat. She kept an open eye for Hexa or Hachi, seeing as they were the two she could somewhat trust and didn't see. The others were probably fine... they were stuck in the same situation as she still hadn't been told why they were brought here. This just raised another question, What was it that the adults were digging for?
 

CerpinTaxt

Ultimate Hope Robot

At least his headache was gone.

"Are my parent's mad at me?" Luka decided to ask a question of his own to the doctor that had been drilling question after question for the past how ever long it had been. The balding, older man just offered a comforting smile before scratching at his beard. "I'm certain they're just happy you're okay." Luka could only give the man a small nod as he turned and left him. He had no reason to lie, so why should he? Luka rubbed his bandaged hands together as his eyes lazily moved around the inoffensive room as he tried to process all that had happened.

It was certainly a confusing series of events. He remembers helping the others, dealing the killing blow even, then the sound of the adults telling him to leave the Husk. Guns were drawn too, the creature had released some strange..essence into the valley too. Very confusing series of events. Scary too. He really hoped his parents weren't upset. He really hadn't been thinking about them when he got in that husk. What had he been thinking? But..what else could he have done? He couldn't have just stood by and watched! His time controlling that husk was hazy. Such agony and grief, and none of it his.

They'd offered him some books! That was really nice. Or it was until Luka noticed he'd already read a great deal of them. Practically all of them, it seemed. He decided to ask one of the nurses for some new ones, and they surprisingly complied. The ones he had been given to him by the nurse were not exactly the best reading material anyway. Sappy romance novels, most certainly from their own collection. Or maybe Column's collection was just that bad. Cliche, boring characters too, it didn't take him to cease his attempts at reading the books.

"Prison isn't as bad as they make it out to be right? I could really see myself thriving in a place like this, how about you?"

A voice came through the small crack between the door and its frame. Luka hadn't even noticed the doctors had left the door open for them all, perhaps so they could walk around? How long had it been anyway? It could have been fifteen minutes or fifteen hours with how slow time had been creeping around him. Luka slowly rose from his bed, his feet tentatively moving him towards the door. He grabbed the handle, opening the door just a bit more so he could keep outside. He leaned his head forward; only for it to connect with the door frame with a light bam.

He forgot just how tall he was.

His free hand rubbed at the spot his head connected with the door frame, a small whine of pain coming from him. Time to try this again; but bending his knees so he could actually see through the crack. He could see the others from the husk incident had taken advantage of their new found freedom. At least, Luka was certainly they were from the incident. Luka never really had talked to any of them before. Maybe it was time he try and officially introduce himself; though the thought was quite scary to the tall boy.

Luka opened the door enough so he could leave, having to bend down to accommodate for the door that was clearly not meant for someone as tall as him. He finally got a good look at them as they moved about. He didn't remember if they had shared their names with him before. He thought he recognized the one that Hachi had said was her sister; though that was all that came to mind. Luka approached one of the armchairs in the common room, taking a seat slowly; as if afraid the furniture would break under his weight.

"Um.." Luka began to speak up, only to trail off for a few moments; as if trying to figure out what exactly to say. "What do you think the questions and tests are for? They're doing them a lot."

It was a question directed to everyone.

@Coin @dwif @GasMaskie @Entity.Eclypse @Beowulf @_Line 213
 
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Coin

Velut Luna
Ida was soon joined in the common room by Seb. As he approached, she made eye contact with him and quickly averted her gaze. It felt like a distant memory already, but she had very much so called him out on what she thought was bad idea. In truth, she had no clue if his plan to blow up the trees surrounding the machine-beast was a good idea, but it didn't matter now. They had made it out mostly intact and they'd also killed the machine -- a victory was a victory, no matter how sloppy.

Thankfully, either Seb didn't remember what she had said or he chose not to open their conversation with it when he neared. She waved as he got close and offered a thin smile as she responded, "I don't think I'm really suited for the whole prison thing -- I'm already rather claustrophobic as it is."

There wasn't any hint of malice at all in her voice. If she could have it her way, she'd like for no one to remember how she acted while she was piloting Utsāha, Morgan included. Speaking of the devil, Ida saw her one time co-pilot enter and place himself at the opposite corner from her. Was he avoiding her? Had she said or done something wrong to upset him? She mentally shook the thoughts from her mind.

"I'm just hoping that we don't get in too much trouble for messing around with the Husks..." Ida's lips tugged into a tight frown. Sure, she and the rest of the kids from her class shouldn't have been messing around with them in the first place, but Ida couldn't find it in herself to regret a thing.

The freakishly tall bookish boy, Luka, joined them next along with others that sifted their way into the commons. Ida couldn't believe someone as tall his Luka could even fit into the cockpit of the Husk, but he must have considering that he was there with the rest of them. As much as Ida tried to remember who had been piloting which Husk, she couldn't quite figure out which he was in.

"I'll bet the the only important things are the tests," Ida replied after a few moments steeped in thought. "The doctors probably know that getting truthful answers out of a bunch of teenagers that might be in a whole lot of trouble isn't the most realistic strategy. On the other hand, our DNA can't really lie to them. If there's something wrong with us after piloting the Husks, they'll know right away."

((Re: @CerpinTaxt @dwif))
 

Lucem Tenebris

Nine Thousand Club
The interior of the building looked no better than the outside. Leaving the dying light of the setting sun, they exchanged the view of nothing but dust for dark hallways. Even so, the aftermath of whatever caused such destruction was still visible. The occasional flicker of damaged lights revealed gleaming trails of broken equipment and shattered glass, each step taken resulting in a soft crunch beneath his feet. Those were some of the only sounds to be heard as the two of them walked deeper into the maze-like structure. Not even Modestine did much to break the eerie silence that claimed the area, never daring to speak above a whisper. It was difficult to make out what the older woman was saying at times. Although, that wasn't only due to her hushed tone. Ever since she had mentioned his father, Alex's mind and expression had been blank.

According to Modestine, this was the place where both she and his father worked. Unlike her, however, he had been on duty today. Not just today. This was probably where he spent most of his time, more like a home than the house Alex stayed in by himself. Now, it looked like this. Everything in this place was broken, either barely clinging to wires or scattered on the floor in tiny pieces. What about his father then? That question had caused him to remain silent, void of all expression as he followed the adult in front of him.

Modestine hadn't said anything about his father after that. She made little reaction for something something so heavy. Although, he wasn't any better in that respect. Did that mean that the man was fine? The possibility crossed his mind, but the crimson-dyed walls didn't inspire much confidence. Maybe there was just nothing left to be said. No time for her to grieve in a situation like this, or simply having accepted it. If that was the case, he couldn't blame her. Right now, they were in a dangerous situation. However, he had yet to see a body. Not just his father's, but no corpses had been found during their walk. Considering the damage and blood, that seemed unusual. Maybe that meant everyone got out safely after all. He still couldn't say. He couldn't do anything. All he could do was follow the footsteps in front of him, carrying that knowledge and the uncertainty that came with it.

It wasn't until Modestine added to the piles of broken glass that Alex began to show signs of life once again. Shortly after, the woman handed him a weapon that was identical to her own. Unsurprisingly, Alex had never held a gun before. He had never touched a weapon of any kind. The closest thing probably would've been a little contraption that fired little metal balls. He'd use it to knock down the cans in his backyard when he was a kid, his parents watching him from nearby. Even if it was a similar in some ways, a toy like that couldn't be compared to what he was being given right now. As Modestine turned the safety off, Alex knew what it meant to be handed the gun. A weapon only had one purpose, after all.

What was he even doing here? He didn't belong in a place like this. He had never been prepared for such a situation. Just a few hours ago, he was celebrating his coming of age with the others, finally turning fifteen. Now, he was being handed a gun. In many ways, it just didn't feel real. As a child, he always dreamed about visiting the place where his father worked, but the current scene looked like it was taken out of a nightmare, rather than a young boy's fantasy. Still, he was taken here. If the danger was so great that he needed a gun to defend himself, then the last thing Modestine should've done was drag him further into the building. Taken away from one conflict, only to be walked into another. Out of the frying pan into the flames. However, he didn't blame her for any of that.

His trust in Modestine hadn't been lost. He believed that she thought this was the best thing to do. He was with her for a reason. Whether that was because she thought it would keep him safe, or for some other reason, he had faith in her judgment. Besides, he could see it clearly. As the blue light came to life in the azure hue of his eyes, he could see her pained expression.

As he took the gun into his hands, he felt its weight. While not particularly heavy, taking the weapon meant many things. He had already accepted everything that came along with it. While he didn't have any experience, he accepted the responsibility he had been given. It wasn't as if being given the gun made any difference. It wasn't until he took it into his hands that he noticed he'd still been holding the object in his pocket, grip remaining tight even when his attention was elsewhere. Even if he had never seen it as a weapon until now, it had become one when he gave it that purpose. If Modestine had never given him the gun, nothing would've changed. Whether a gun or a knife, he knew what he had to do if things took a turn for the worse.

After they moved on from the cache, silence had claimed the area once again. He continued to do as he was told, remaining quiet and following the back of the person in front of him. Things had remained like that for so long that Modestine's sudden stop came as a surprise. The same went for the following sequence of events. The moment she turned the corner, everything seemed to slow down. However, he couldn't react as one thing happened after the other. An exchange of hissing and screeching, unable to tell what sound came from where. He had been standing, but in an instant, he was knocked to the ground. Dark red left stains on the pure white surface of his shirt while glass shards tried digging into the material and his skin. He could feel the pain in his arm flare up once again as the force knocked him over. However, it was thanks to the throbbing in his limb that he became alert one again.

Not even a second after Modestine had moved them both out of harm's way, an indescribable gray mass turned the corner, illuminated by the orange glow of its malformed body. As its thin limbs contorted and spread like those of a dying spider, Alex squeezed the grip of his weapon, trying to keep it as steady as possible. Modestine had lost her gun in the fall. He was the only one that could do something.

There was no hesitation. He accepted that things could turn out this way when he took the weapon. He had prepared himself for this. He knew what he had to do. There was no other alternative. However, while he was willing to do what was necessary, accepting that responsibility did little to put the thoughts in the back of his mind to rest. There was a difference between holding the gun and pulling the trigger. The latter carried with it an entirely different set of responsibilities. It not only had to do with the one firing, but the one on the other side. Even if that "one" was a creature like this, that didn't change. He was willing to do it, and he knew that he had to. Still, those thoughts were still there. In the end, he'd still be killing something.

Like a tree trying to dig further into the ground, roots sprang from the creature and tried to pierce his body. No, it wasn't just him. As the desperate voice reminded him, his life wasn't the only one in danger. That was the only thing he needed.

When he made the decision to leave the valley, he bottled his feelings and threw away every thought he had when Modestine put herself at risk to save him. The situation he was in now was much more dangerous than the one from before, but the motivation was the same. It didn't matter if it was her crying face or loud plea. Both then and now, his thoughts and feelings were irrelevant. Just like before, he was willing to do this, but his mind was clear now. As soon as he heard "please", nothing else mattered. He just pulled the trigger and listened to the sound that followed.

@_Line 213
 

Hextremus

Beyblade Enthusiast
Otto faced the questions asked of him as he always had; answering with complete honesty and obedience. He could see no point in resisting the relaxed interrogation being laid upon him by those clad in the oh so familiar labcoats, the distinguishing orange marks a sight he had grown used to seeing with every checkup as he had grown. It was a sight he doubted the other children had ever laid eyes on during their own checkups. Then, at some point, something snapped inside him. Interrupting the question being asked of him, Otto asked if Alex was okay. A brief moment of surprise followed, broken by the doctor telling him that they didn't know what had happened to the other boy. Otto just nodded silently.

He put up with the questioning until the door to his room opened with a click. Laying down on the bed with his gaze staring up at the blank ceiling, it flicked to the door to witness a nurse quickly darting her head in and out of the door before hurrying away. The boy didn't move, didn't react. Just returned to staring at the ceiling. He listened to the cautious footsteps as other people exited their own rooms; definitely the other children, the other Husk pilots. Otto didn't move until he heard someone make a sardonic remark about prison. Closing his eyes for a second, he supposed he should interact with the other pilots. They had defeated that creature together, after all.

Otto rolled out of the bed in one movement, rising to his feet and running a hand idly through his hair before slipping both hands into the pockets of his blazer. Hopefully he would find Kori among the other pilots. He stepped out of his room to take in the larger common room beyond just as another boy asked what the questions and the experiments were for. While he could not recall the boys name, he did recognise him. After all, he was almost as tall as Otto. He approached an armchair that was close to where he stood and settled into it, crossing his legs while a girl put in her opinion on the reasoning for the tests. Once she finished, he decided to put his own opinion into the equation.

"Column's officials most likely wish to know what makes us compatible with the Husks. They probably want us to pilot them again; I doubt we've seen the last of that siphoning creature. Or perhaps, creatures. What occurred cannot be an isolated incident. I'm certain more enemies will follow."

Otto paused as he mulled on how grim his opinion truly was. Probably not a good idea to say things like that in this environment. Not everyone was a realist.

"In any case, I would like to apologise to the pilots of Utsāha for being unable to do as you requested during combat. Damn thing hurt me and K.C pretty bad."

His face didn't change from its detached 'expression' as he spoke. His eyes took in the room, absorbing details. It, like the rooms, exuded a calm and relaxing atmosphere. He didn't like that one bit. It felt like the calm before the storm.

[Interaction w/ @CerpinTaxt & @Coin]
 
What a day.

He'd woken up this morning eager and ready to start the next chapter of his life, and now he was ready to see 'Jeremy Kerr, Wanted Dead or Alive' plastered across some bar's wall. He'd broken the law. They'd all broken the law. Sure, in the end it had been for a good cause, but their actions were inexcusable, weren't they? For all he knew their tampering with the Husks had been what had triggered that thing attacking them in the first place. Some of his classmates, he was sure, would be feeling self-satisfied or even heroic right now, but Jeremy could only feel a crushing mix of guilt and anxiety.

What was going to happen to him?

What was going to happen to Vic?

Biting back the urge to question his interrogator on the matter, Jeremy continued to answer as honestly as he could to the questions asked of him. They were straightforward enough. Asking about his experience with the Husks, how they turned it on, how they ended up where they did, so on and so forth. The only fib he'd decide to tell was to lessen Vic's involvement in the matter, shifting his story to it being a mutual decision on their behalf to scale Sehnsu-

To scale the Husk.

The questioning ran smoothly enough, despite what he felt like was his unhelpfulness, the orange-clad woman across from him jotting down his answers without a sign of frustration regardless of how little he could tell her. Either she was really good at keeping a poker face, or he was playing into their hands in some way or another. Not that it mattered either way. Right now, he just wanted to go home, lay in his bed, and sleep this mess of a day away. But he wasn't that lucky. Even after the questioning came to an end and he was excused from the tiny interview room, it was clear that he wasn't free to go.

A few of his classmates, unsurprisingly including Morgan amongst their numbers, were already milling about in the sunbathed room they'd been 'released' into. He'd not paid much attention to the voices coming through the intercoms, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that they were likely the pilots of the other Husks. His brothers in arms. They, however, didn't concern him too much at the moment. It wasn't like she was the only one who hadn't finished her tests and interrogation yet, but not finishing something first was definitely unlike her. He was probably just worrying too much, hell, he was definitely worrying too much, considering that he was supposed to be angry at her, but with the seriousness of everything that was going on he couldn't help it.

"Hi there, Morgan." Reluctantly, he approached his shut-in of a classmate. Even if he didn't like the guy, he definitely seemed like the one in the room who'd have the keenest sense of his surroundings. "How uh, are you? Have you see Vic around? Or is she still stuck in the interview?"

The things he did for friendship.

@GasMaskie
 

GasMaskie

"Wait and Hope"
"...That's the puppy's barking, isn't it?" The pale boy muttered softly as he made a mental bookmark in the book he had been reading. He kept his eyes closed, only turning his head in the direction of the voice. Naturally, the maidenly boy had been swept up into this mess, no doubt because of his gorilla's instinct to climb whatever she could get her hands on. His activation of the Husk was simply a curiosity and an academic undertaking. The power to destroy the world as he had known it. That was perhaps an extreme way to put it, but the dull and monotonous life within Column had essentially ceased now.

There was something about Jeremy that made him a natural target for Morgan. Perhaps that sort of perceived innocence. There was also the fact that he was foolish enough to approach him. He imagined Jeremy's face, drenched in milk for some reason. If the gorilla ever did give into her animal urges, the puppy would likely be the one who carried their freakish hybrid child. They'd overcome biological barriers in the name of science and progress. Male pregnancy now a reality! What time to be alive!

He cleared his throat, still keeping his eyes shut. In any case, he figured he'd leave the strange thoughts for later - possibly to torment the girl if they ever got back into Utsāha and she got too curious for her own good. Though, maybe she was the sort of girl who had strange fetishes like male pregnancy. Yaoi seemed to be written for a female audience after all. Perhaps he'd probe the waters with a question carefully slipped in during conversation. In any case, the puppy needed some attention or he'd probably die of loneliness like a rabbit. Vic, was it? That must have been the gorilla's name. It suited the manly girl in any case.

"She hasn't entered this room yet - you're better off roaming the hallways and entering any unlocked door to figure out where she is. Getting a read of the location is a good way to spend the last few hours of your life before those orange-marked doctors dissect you to figure out how you activated the Husk. Though, you'd probably want to cuddle with your lover, maybe do something degenerate like hold hands. Another valid way to spend your last day on this planet, I suppose. I'd also suggest not getting caught trying to escape. I've heard that they'll privately execute criminals and harvest their genetic materials."

(Re: @The One Eyed Bandit)
 

simj22

Outdated Cat
Cain“I’ve seen you before.” Cain paused, and tapped her chin, then corrected herself. “Not you, specifically, but your uniform. You’re doctors, that’s what my parents told me, but given by those orange trims, not any normal doctor.”

He didn't reply, instead choosing to jot down something else on his clipboard. There was no denying it. She had spent her time in these interrogations, stalling them for time, studying their uniform. She asked questions about Jeremy, his wellbeing, numerous questions about the Husk, Sehnsucht, as it was called, wondered aloud about her parents. She answered their questions with many an ‘uh’ and ‘ah’, and drawn out versions of those questions, fully accepting the blame that she was the one who thought to just clamber up a Husk in the valley, and Jeremy was just an accessory for the ride. He was unaffiliated with this problem, and she was the one who played him like a fiddle and brought him on board. The interviewing doctor didn't really give a shit about that story. He did, however, make especial notice of her headache story when she boarded the Husk. She figured that, even if they thought she was lying, it was worth the time to actually take it as fact. Were they studying the Husks? Or were they studying her? It was only just now that she finally pried open the section in her memories- a blurred image of the same labcoat, pristine and bearing the same orange trims. Now that she remembered, she leaned forwards on her chair, her fingers laced together, and her elbows rested on her thighs as she stared straight into the doctor’s eyes, which darted away from hers as soon as they noticed her glare. The usual rictus that was a playful smile fell into a grim, emotionless line. “You’ve been around for a while. Ten years, at the very least. Or perhaps even longer than that.”

“That will be all for today, Cainewright.” The doctor stood up.

“That won't do.” Cain shot up and her hand forwards, smacking the clipboard straight to the ground. Her foot moved before the doctor could do anything, and with a sweep, kicked the clipboard away from the doctor. “Who are you?”

The doctor said nothing, and only looked straight at Cain, his face as stoic as hers. They remained in the loud silence, a staredown between the two of them for a good few minutes. She bit her lip. She had to back down. They had the higher ground here. This was their home territory. She couldn't keep on the offensive for long. Not if she wanted to see Jeremy again. So she backed off, slumping back onto her seat. The doctor, calmly, moved over to his fallen clipboard, picked it up, and, opening the door, he nodded to the nurse outside, then left. The nurse peeked inside, glanced at Cain, then quickly left, leaving the door open.

She was being let out. She took a few moments to compose herself. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. When her heart finally stopped pounding like a jackhammer at her chest, she stood up, and put on the closest she could make for her smile, and stepped out of the room. She was greeted by the sight of an annoyingly comfy room, almost like a visitor’s lounge of sorts. It reminded her of a hospital. It irked her. Now wasn't the time to study her surroundings, though. Not when Jeremy was just within sight. He also couldn't have chosen a worser person to strike up conversation with. She sighed. What would he do without her? She made a beeline for both Jeremy and Morgan, her strides powerful, and her pace fast.

“You’d do well not to unnerve Jeremy with your bullshit, Morgan.” Cain wrapped her arms around Jeremy from behind and met Morgan’s eyes. “I mean, if you’re intent on being opened up by those quacks, I could tell ‘em, if you’d like. It would give you some introspect at the very least when you get a glimpse of your insides.”There was only one way to deal with Morgan, and it was with stabs of her own.
 

Inkwell

Junior Member
Hexa knew it would all end bad and now looking at the plain room that they had clearly tried to make homely. Unfortunately Hexa didn't find it comfortable or nice at all as no matter what this was still a cell she was locked. No matter how nice it might be she wouldn't even be able to force herself to like it. Usually Hexa didn't mind a locked room as it was usually she was locking herself in. Even when it was the other way around she would have her lock picks on her, but they had been confiscated along with her laptop. She imagined they wanted to know if there was any Husk info on her computer or if she had connected it to the machine.

Whenever someone had entered her room she would always curse at them and tell them to let her go home. When that was refused books and any other items where thrown about the room. Sometimes Hexa was so angry she would chuck a book at whoever was questioning her. Most made a quick exit from her room leaving the girl behind at which stage Hexa would curl into a ball on the bed crying her eyes out. The bed was actually the one thing she didn't trash in her room besides the lightbulbs.

When they left the door open Hexa hadn't realised until she had calmed down enough to stop crying. Wondering why they had left the door open she initially poked her head quickly out to make sure no one was nearby. Making her way down the hall she noticed some voices, but they did not belong to adults and Hexa realised that maybe it was the other Husk pilots. Making her way into the common room she immediately noticed the skylight. Even if she was still trapped in this place it was nice seeing the outside world. Taking a seat in a nice leather love seat she payed no attention to the others just taking her time enjoying the sky. She imagined she looked terrible with her disheveled hair and her eyes clearly showing the signs that she had been crying.
 

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