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Futuristic Incarnates main thread



Discount cryptid
Nico let out an audible sigh upon setting foot within the confines of ICE’s Sydney base, his gaze bouncing off the spartan interior and utilitarian layout of the place. Would it kill these guys to get a decorator in here? The London branch had been much the same and after being cooped up there for the last couple of months it was disappointing to learn that despite travelling to the other side of the Earth he wouldn’t be getting the change of scenery he’d been longing for. Just endless dull grey corridors with fluorescent overhead lighting, ICE staff navigating the complex network like the dutiful workers of an ant colony. He’d just have to wait till they finally let him venture into the public, whenever that would be. Apparently he was a security risk, which wasn’t entirely fair. Tavius was the security risk. The damage Nico himself could cause was pretty pathetic when compared to the hulking beast that was supposedly taking a nap in the back of his head. That might have been the hardest sell for Nico, the fact that the Incarnate was hiding somewhere in his body. He didn’t feel any different, not really. No extra weight or gravelly voice whispering in his ear to hint that Tavius was right here with him. The only thing that served as a permanent reminder of his presence were the heavily armed escorts that were walking in perfect unison behind him. They were pulling double duty as both guides around the facility and a failsafe in case the newbie accidentally set off the reptilian bomb in his pocket. Despite the jetlag, burgeoning headache and general anxiety that had been nesting in his stomach for months now, Nico was excited. It was finally time to meet the other liabilities.

“Just through here Moore. Best of luck.”

Surprised to hear one of the escorts speak to him, Nico spun on his heel to see the shorter of the two guards, a C.Vasquez according to the tag on her lapel, slapping her security clearance card against a non distinct set of double doors. The prickly heat of embarrassment shot up the back of his neck. He’d walked right past it and now had to sheepishly retrace the last few feet he’d walked, questioning why they’d been walking behind him this entire time. Well there was one obvious reason. But probably best not to think about that.

“Cheers guys, no idea how you remember the way around this labyrinth.” Nico replied with an unconvincing chuckle. It really was hard not to feel out of place here. These guys lived and breathed ICE, and here he was bumbling around in his civvy clothes like an absolute tourist. Next to the ICE security uniform his cargo trousers and 2048 Reading shirt were practically flamboyant.

The male escort mustered a polite smile whilst Vasquez merely nodded curtly and stepped aside to allow Nico through the door. His eyes were immediately forced shut by the glaring light and bright colours of what appeared to be a redwood forest that had been condensed into some sort of giant hanger. It took a moment for the weary Brit to adjust to the convincing natural sunlight effect filtering down through the branches overhead. A perfect replica of the real deal as far as the eye could see. Damn, it even had the authentic earthy forest smell. An idiot grin had spread across Nico’s face before he’d even had a moment to realize it, but this was so unexpected that he couldn’t hide it. This homegrown Garden of Eden was a far cry from the sterile corridors and concrete expanses that he’d come to know ICE for. Still, once the hit of euphoria began to fade he did find himself wondering what the hell he was doing in here. It didn’t exactly seem like the kind of place to give a briefing to the new freakshow recruits.

Thankfully for Nico and his ever growing stack of questions it soon transpired that he wasn’t alone. A shadow descended from the lower branches of a tree behind him, hitting the ground with barely a sound. Certainly not a sound that Nico’s untrained ears picked up on.

“Cadet Moore I presume?” Asked the shadow in a cheerful sing-song tone.

Niko jumped out of his skin, reeling on her with his hands raised in a subconscious self-defence. “Bloody hell, what the hell are you playing at?” He yelped, before noticing her captain’s insignia and throwing in a hasty “-Mam.”

“Pleasure to meet you too.” Apparently unphased, the dark-skinned woman shot him a beaming grin. “Captain Rajput, I’m gonna be in charge of helping you recruits hit the ground running here at Sydney! You didn’t happen to see any of the others on the way in did you…?”

“Uh, just me I’m afraid.”

“Oh well, I’m sure they’ll be along soon enough! We’ve still got about 20 minutes until the cages open up anyway.”

Nico’s blood pressure, which had been beginning to drop after his little shock, suddenly jumped up again. This woman’s cryptic sentences and unwavering grin were setting off little warning lights in the back of his skull. He cleared his throat.


“Oh of course, you don’t know yet! Well there’s no fun in ruining the surprise but I’ve put together something special for you and your fellow recruits today. It’s a variation of something we tried last year and the results were superb, you’ll have a blast. Just gotta wait for the others first!”

Nico simply nodded his head and took a slow step back from Rajput, his eyes darting towards the doors he’d arrived through. The others better show up soon, he had absolutely no desire to find out what the Captain’s surprise was all by his lonesome.
Dayquan was recruited by ICE after they resurrected him. He was happy to help. Or, rather, he was too afraid to try to decline. He wasn't even sure if he could have declined. He thought this may be some secret society or something. Something where if you say no, since you know about it, they kill you. Of course, this was just his mind playing tricks on him. He stood tall. His dark skin gleaming with the light of the well lit halls of the Sydney base. His short-sleeved white tee helped the light to accentuate his arms. Dayquan was born and raised in Africa. In an area without much in the way of technology. Ever since his resurrection, he felt like he was constantly bombarded with advanced technology he could never hope to understand. Staff members whacked away at keyboards, inputting information into fancy computers as part of his intake process.

A voice startled him, though he found he was pleasantly surprised that he didn't physically flinch. He calmly, almost heroically, turned around to face the voice.

"I'm sorry, what was that?" Dayquan's voice came out smooth and deep. A voice worthy of his large, kingly frame. His glistening skin only helped to portray this effect. Despite being a rather fearful person, he somehow appeared to carry himself in a way that almost demanded respect. Though, really, that was just him freezing up most of the time.

"I said this way, sir," came a soothing voice of a young male guard. It was now time for Dayquan to meet the rest of his squad. Dayquan took a moment to memorize the guard's nametag. Beer. What an odd name, he thought.

They turned down one hallway. Then another. And another. Dayquan would certainly get lost in this building if left to his own devices. Beer tensed up as a menacing noise began to ring through the hallways. Clank. Klink. Clank. Dayquan knew what the noise was, but instinctively tensed when his escort did. Clink. Klank. Clink. Beer put his hand on his hip-mounted firearm, ready for trouble. That's when Wumsy poked his head out from the corner in front of them.

"Hello," came the polite greeting from Wumsy. It didn't speak like living animals. It didn't have a throat or voicebox. Instead, it vibrated itself and directed the sound from various parts of its body. Usually around the section it formed into a head. Its metallic body emitted an eerie, echoing tone as it spoke, not dissimilar to striking two metal rods together. Wumsy was currently in its usual form. A rather humanoid shape, comprised of a long string of segments and joints that it folds into various shapes. Its three-pronged feet created the clanking sounds as it walked. Wumsy also tended to create rather intimidating sounds as it moved or spoke, as well as its strange, humanoid form. Despite this, the inflections in its voice was anything but intimidating.

"Hey Wumsy, uh, how'd you get in front of us?" Asked Dayquan.

Beer relaxed his hand, "Is this your incarnate, Dayquan?"

"Yeah, Beer, meet Wumsy," Dayquan casually introduced Wumsy, as if the situation were completely normal.

Wumsy brought himself fully around the corner so it could stand in front of the others, "It is my pleasure, Beer." Wumsy gave a small curtsey before continuing, "I was exploring. I saw another like us pass earlier. He was referred to as Nico Moore. He wasn't interesting, so I left to wander. I'm now going to see if I can find any others that will be joining us." With that, Wumsy crept along past Dayquan and Beer. Beer began to protest, but Wumsy ignored him, leaving a faint metallic scent in the air in its wake.

"Your incarnate really shouldn't be wandering around on its own," said Beer, a little concern in his voice.

Dayquan gave a shrug, "You're free to try to stop Wumsy if you can. They may be my incarnate, but I have little control over him. It's harder to put them away than it is to bring them out. Wumsy will do as he pleases most of the time. I tried teaching them manners and etiquette, but it does what it wants."

Beer looked at Dayquan uneasily, "I g-guess it'll be fine. For now."

Dayquan was stunned when he entered what seemed to be a forest. He had to take a moment to check his surroundings and make sure he was still inside. This was truly a marvel. A plethora of flora created a pleasing scent. It wasn't too different from some of the woods he used to hunt in back home. And was that... a breeze? Surely the capabilities of technology never ceased to amaze him. He stood for a moment, enjoying the cooling winds against his slick skin.

His pleasure turned to anxiety when he noticed another man standing just ahead. He was chatting with a woman in uniform. It appeared as though the woman were the one in charge. He wasn't sure what to do, as Beer didn't give much in the way of directions before dropping him off. He assumed that these were ICE members though, for why else would they bring him here? He wished Wumsy were here now. He approached them and called out. Despite internally quaking in his boots, he appeared calm and confident.

"Hello there. I assume this is where we are supposed to meet?" His subtle African accent carried across the distance. "And I don't suppose you are Nico Moore?" Wumsy mentioned seeing Nico earlier, who was also a new recruit like him. So confirming if Nico were here would also confirm that this is where he was indeed meant to be. Dayquan didn't mean to stand and speak with such a commanding presence. It's just that he was so nervous that he forgot to wave, or even smile, and not even the cool breeze was enough to abate the building moisture on his skin.
Christ, why does it have to be so hot here? Of all the things they felt the need to go over with me, why leave out “Oh! By the way, the place we’re shipping you to is a fucking oven.”
Poor girl! It would certainly be a shame if you were to melt in the approximately two to three minutes you’ve spent outdoors since we arrived.~
Shut it, Koo.

Marie blinked several times as her eyes adjusted to the artificial lighting, the hanger door grinding closed with a metallic scrape. Her escorts since arriving a couple days ago, a group of four ICE personnel with about as much to say as the dull grey walls, were checking in with several others that had met them at the door, leaving her to awkwardly stand to the side with a blank look on her face, waiting for something to happen. She pulled at the collar of her rather thick mocha sweater, fiddled with the pins in her short, caramel-colored hair, picked at her black leggings, tied and re-tied her sneakers, and played with the ear-like points on the head of the strange plush doll she clutched to her chest. Anything to keep her occupied. Now really didn’t feel like a good time to let her thoughts wander.

Thankfully the individuals that had met them at the door stepped aside, and one of her escorts turned back to her and gave a small wave forward. The group moved ahead through the entry into the first of many seemingly identical hallways, her escorts keeping her surrounded on all sides. It only took a few turns for Marie to stop trying to keep track of where they had come from, the aching in her legs from the recent training she had been subjected to growing more and more prominent as they walked ever further into this labyrinth.

Looking at the back of the head of the man in front of her, and trying not to let everything about this unfamiliar situation get to her any more than it already was under the surface, she had a hard time controlling where her thoughts went.

How old are these people? They always seem so capable and sure of things, but I really doubt this guy in front is much older than me. She had been avoiding looking directly at any of these ICE guys assigned to her, even though they’d been together quite a bit since she had arrived from the States. But from the brief glance she had at his face earlier when he had waved her forward she thought the man in question had looked pretty youthful.

I wonder if he was born after I died?
. . .
So much for keeping it from getting to her.

Everything about the past few months was patently absurd, and she was just supposed to take it all in stride and then go out and fight fucking kaijus and shit? She’d been dead for longer than she’d been alive, apparently, and she was supposed to just shake that off? An annoying and completely unlikeable thing was living in her head and that’s just normal in this day and age? Not to mention essentially being conscripted into whatever the hell this all was within a day of the supposed “medical miracle” that was her awakening.

And here I thought we were developing a close and meaningful relationship! One that would bring purpose and joy to both-..
I said shut it, Koodoo! I don’t have to keep carrying you around, you know. Would you prefer whatever dead void you go back to instead?
Always such a cruel one.~

Marie’s face, which had been growing red with poorly contained frustration, contorted as she let out a hissing breath, and she threw the plushie in her arms at the floor with more than a little force. Immediately the group around her halted their stride and turned towards her, their hands already sitting on their weapons. She froze and looked around at them, the fast breaths she hadn’t noticed creeping up now catching in her throat. Her eyes went to the floor and her lips shakily formed something resembling an apology. She slowly bent down to retrieve the doll, none the worse for the sudden outburst, and the ICE agents returned to ease. The man in the front gave her a look somewhere between questioning and worry, but seemingly decided to say nothing, turning back towards the hall ahead and continuing forward after a pause. Squeezing the plush instinctively closer to her chest with an almost inaudible sigh, Marie fell back in step as well.

It was several more minutes until they arrived at their destination, which Marie filled with silently reprimanding herself for her outburst and wallowing in the shame that was rolling over her thoughts. She would likely have kept walking had she not collided directly with the ICE agent at the lead, who stopped abruptly next to a rather nondescript set of double doors. He turned again to her as one of the others moved to take out their keycard, and she immediately took several hurried steps back, mumbling an apology as her cheeks lightly flushed. When she glanced back up he was giving her a surprisingly gentle smile, the first she had seen from any of them since she had gotten here, but before she could think about it for long he stepped back and motioned her through the now open doors.

What lay inside took her breath away, and she immediately took several steps forward into the room. Bright warm light falling through the branches and leaves of what seemed to be enormous redwoods. The scent of earth, rich and deep. The sound of leaves rusting far above in the breeze. Ah, that breeze! It was like those that would roll through the woods near her apartment in the autumn months where she would go on walks in the evenings.

The walks she would take with Zoe.
. . .
The grin that had spread wide across her face dropped in a moment.

Turning around, she just caught the last of her escorts as they left back the way they had come, leaving her suddenly alone. She stood still for a short time, before crouching down where she was standing, burying her face in the head of the plushie as she gripped it close. Willing back the tears beading up in her eyes, she wished she could be back in the dark and quiet and privacy and comfort of her room instead of wherever the hell she had just been abandoned. Unfortunately life never seemed to give her that choice anymore.

Remember we have people to meet, dear! You wouldn't want this to be your first impression!~

Marie ignored the comment and let out a long sigh into the soft and comforting fabric, before pulling herself back upright. Sniffling quietly, Marie turned back towards the sprawling.. room? in front of her, taking it in once again. Only now she noticed that she wasn’t alone at all, and that she had apparently already caught the attention of at least one of the others.

. . .
God damn it.
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Emery hadn't signed up for this. Not for navigating these clinically dull, winding halls with two guards to his back; not for transferring over to this new base an ocean away; he certainly had not planned on being conscripted into some sort of bizarre, monster-fighting army — but as one well-armoured official had so eloquently put it when Emery had argued soon after his revival, what were they to do? Emery had died, come back to life, and now he had an emotionally unstable demon that manifested in place of his proper soul. What could they do? Until he learned to control whatever dangerous impulses he might have, Emery couldn't leave. In the meantime, he might as well learn to fight after-death projections by channelling his nonexistent rage at them… or something like that.

Despite his two handlers wearing the bulkiest set of clothes he'd ever seen, they followed him silently. No thumping of thick boots, no jangle of a keychain — it set Emery on edge, the unnatural quiet. He was used to unending noise whether it be laughter or yelling through his flat's thin walls, the rowdy traffic or even the pigeons that would strut across — well, he supposed it was no longer his little balcony.

The young man replaced whatever bleak expression he might have had with an easygoing smile. No sense in acting all dreary when it would help nothing—

But again, Emery lamented: all he could hear was the shuffling of his own shoes on the pristine floor, his controlled, steady breathing.

Something clanked in the distance — Emery did not jump.

And the clanking got louder, echoing through the apparently not abandoned corridors.

His smile slipped with an amused, bewildered sentiment, and Emery let out a quiet huff of a laugh. He spun on his heels to face his guards, about to crack a silly joke about noise and expectations and the bizarreness of I.C.E., but his voice fell away upon spotting A and B's grim expressions. They had their guns out, pointed — not at Emery, and he released a shaky breath in relief at that — but at something past him, which was silly, because there was nothing that way but for clear walls and the occasional door.

"What? What is it?" Emery asked, searching A and B's expressions for any clue. Like the coward he was, he couldn't quite bring himself to turn his head around and see for himself. What if they fired? No, Emery didn't want to see that.

"Quiet," said Guard B.

And the clanking got impossibly louder. Impossibly louder. As in, coming from right behind him louder.

And then came a noise: "Hello," went the noise. "I am Wumsy," it resounded, and: "What are your names?"

With one last anxious look at his guards, Emery slowly turned. It was like looking at a bunch of scrap metal strung together, of a sort. Emery struggled to describe it, but at the very least, it was unnatural — even more so than the clinical appearance and artificial silence of the place. And its voice! Like the shrilling of metal, but not, and the clicking of coins as they splashed into the fountain, but not — wrapped messily in an air of uncanny wrongness.

Allowing his manners to take control in such an unusual situation, Emery indulged himself a grin and replied, "Well, look at you! Someone's Champion, I presume? A friend of someone I'll be meeting today?" Somewhere along the line, Emery had assumed that incarnates couldn't speak. "The name's Emery, dear," he added. He was hiding his discomfort quite well, if he said so himself.

The scrappy beast repeated this name, then, seemingly losing interest with such a puny, boring human, clacked away. Emery watched it go; as soon as it turned the corner, he whirled on A and B, an almighty glower directed right at them.

"What," Emery challenged, "was that?"

Guard A had the decency to look apologetic for a second before smoothing over their expression. "Champions are not permitted to wander freely," they explained.

"That was clearly someone's Champion and I see no human nearby," Emery remarked. "And you!" He jabbed a finger at Guard B. "Why did no one tell me souls could speak?"

"Did you ever ask?" Guard B replied, gun still held loose in her left hand.

"Of course not!" Emery looked between his two handlers helplessly, fighting the embarrassment that was now creeping up on him. He was saved by Guard A insisting they move along now; it wouldn't do well for them to show up late.

They moved along.


His guards left him in front of a painfully auspicious door and there was nothing else for Emery to do but enter. He was met by great trees and pretty dappled sunlight — if only it were real.

Of course, he wasn't the only one in the room. Emery tore his gaze away from the sights and put on his best smile, then made his way through the trees — or he would have, had he not heard something of a snuffle from behind him.

He turned, gaze landing on a young woman who seemed… not quite as well as one would hope to be. Strange. Was she part of the simulation? Curious, Emery approached. "Are you... alright, ma'am?"
Ah, my apologies, Kitty. It seems I reminded you just a smidgen too late.~

Marie had no time to collect herself as she noticed someone approaching her, but she did her best. She wiped her eyes quickly and stifled her sniffling, turning away so that her reddened face wouldn’t be quite so visible. Bracing herself for another quip or command like she could always expect from these military folks, she was surprised by something much gentler.

“Are you… alright, ma’am?”

She instinctively glanced over despite her intentions, the unexpected words temporarily overpowering her worry. The man was much better kept than her, that felt clear, but not in a military sort of way. He wore his clothes comfortably and casually, so he either wasn’t an ICE agent, or just enjoyed breaking protocol. His stance was more laid-back than most of the people around here too, which felt oddly comforting. And was he around her height? She was used to most of the people around here being taller than her. He certainly cut a lean figure, either way. And at least his face wasn’t the definition of blank like so many others had been over the past few months. It felt like his eyes carried a sentiment that had been so lacking recently…

What are you doing looking into his eyes!
She snapped back to her senses and quickly looked away again. Christ, why was it so hard to keep her mind from wandering? She could have sworn she wasn’t this bad back then. How weak.
Besides, the man was probably just being polite. He had no reason to actually care anyway. She needed to stop being so pathetic.

Just keep yourself together and get through this, you shithead.
I thought that was very sweet, personally. What a tender moment.~

When she did finally speak, her voice was quiet and a little shaky. She dared not look at the man even as she addressed him.

“Heh, ‘ma’am’. Don’t know where that respect is coming from.”

She paused a moment to steady her breathing, and her hand came up from the tight grip she only now realized she had on the plushie to gently wipe her nose and straighten her glasses.

“It’s nothing, don’t worry about it.”
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