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Lately it's been tough to prioritize my hobbies and my free time. It's safe to say that the life I was leading when I started Nova Force and the life I lead now are very different. It's been a struggle to write it out lately but I really want to see this story done and give people some closure. I do not want to make the story premium content, and I won't. I'll release it for free, on here, just like always. But I am offering up a donation button to help keep the story alive and help me to devote more time to getting it out there. I cannot open more commissions until I clear my current plate (don't worry guys who have these commissions, they are in the active works). So if you are able (and please only if you are able) feel free to make an anonymous donation to the Ginverse cause. It's been really humbling to hear the feedback I've received over the years and it's still weird to think that I have "fans" out there. But without further rambling, here's the button below...or link or whatever it is.


BUTTON: www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?…

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Lately it's been tough to prioritize my hobbies and my free time. It's safe to say that the life I was leading when I started Nova Force and the life I lead now are very different. It's been a struggle to write it out lately but I really want to see this story done and give people some closure. I do not want to make the story premium content, and I won't. I'll release it for free, on here, just like always. But I am offering up a donation button to help keep the story alive and help me to devote more time to getting it out there. I cannot open more commissions until I clear my current plate (don't worry guys who have these commissions, they are in the active works). So if you are able (and please only if you are able) feel free to make an anonymous donation to the Ginverse cause. It's been really humbling to hear the feedback I've received over the years and it's still weird to think that I have "fans" out there. But without further rambling, here's the button below...or link or whatever it is.


BUTTON: www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?…
Hey guys, as times have gotten' tough I've been prioritizing my time and hobbies. I love writing Nova Force for you all, and I've always intended it to be free. I can't really open up more commissions until I clear my current plate so I am opening a donation button to help keep the Ginverse Alive. Doing this so I can keep the content open, please if you decide to give don't give more than you can afford. A few bucks here and there goes a long way.

DONATION BUTTON: www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?…

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    "How far off?" Richard asked, propping his torso on his elbow as he swiveled his seat towards Kikata.
   
    "A few more hours if Torren's numbers are accurate." She replied with a frown.

    "Then we'll be in the dark zone." Richard said. He could feel the coming pressure of uncertainty, looming for them in the blackness of space. Losing communications systems was a very real fear for anyone who works in the vastness of space. Gliding along in an expanse more massive any mind could imagine, a ship unable to communicate would be truly lost in every sense of the word. If anything went wrong here, no help would be coming. That small fact was about the only thing they were certain of now. "I suppose it's our last chance to secure plan B."

    Kikata frowned, "I suppose it would be stupid not too." She sighed as she brought up her contacts, that slight twinge of jealousy creasing her brow as she opened up Kina's information. She forced her mind back to a more professional state as best she could. Right now Kina was the only other person who knew, and happened to be sitting in just the right position to act if they needed her too. She made the call. About a minute passed before Kina answered.

    "Hello." Kina said in a groggy voice. "I was wondering when I might get a call from you two."

    "Did we wake you?" Richard asked, noting she took the call from her personal quarters. Even with disheveled hair her beauty was not mitigated.

    "Well I'm sure you have good reasons." Kina replied before stifling a yawn.

    "Is the line secure?" Kikata asked.

    Kina smirked and held up a small, slender device with a red blinking light, "Even though my room has privacy software I still knew to be doubly sure, when you two are on the other end." Her brow grew more stern, "Are you in trouble?"

    "Not yet." Richard said with a chuckle.

    "We have reason to believe that very soon we will be entering an area that will cut off contact. We'll be operating in the dark and well, we will need a back up plan." Kikata explained.

    Kina nodded her head thoughtfully, "I suspect that is a good idea. I've done a little digging myself. Had some trustworthy people investigating." She noted a grimace of concern from both Kikata and Richard, "Mind you, I told them nothing of you, or your objective. Trustworthy as they may be little bits of information can go a long way, especially among the intelligence types. You never know who might be slipping credits to one another."

    "We appreciate your caution." Kikata said with a nod, "We do not ask you risk yourself for-"

    "It is what friends do. Don't think I will forget that because of my position. I may not know...your objective as well as you. But she is a friend of mine as well, and a good person at that." Kina shook her head, "But to what I have found." She straightened her posture and cleared her throat, seeming to be rising further out of her tired state. "The underworld has grown inactive over the past cycle. Agents following various mercenary groups...defense contractors, reported that entire fleets of vessels have just vanished."

    Kikata did not want to think they were heading straight into fleets of potential enemies. "Any word on where too?"

    "Speculation did not bring up anything very consistent as far as location. However, intercepted chatter had perhaps just one thing in common. Something they call the Sapphire Star. Unfortunately no one has uncovered an exact location, they spoke of it as if it were mystical." She shrugged her shoulders, "But you know how extremist groups can be."

    "Really wish we didn't." Kikata said with a tired sigh.

    "Anyway, that is about as much as my agents could pull out of the darker regions of the universe. What is most interesting is these disappearing fleets of ships coincide with the dates we believe P-" Kina stopped herself from saying the name, "Your objective went missing."

    "Well, that certainly is very interesting." Richard said, "Strings are certainly coming together."

    "Well I have more for you." Kina said. "I looked into reports on Farnax industries myself. Believe me, there are many of them. Allegations that never go anywhere. One particular case was a patent dispute between an Alliance contractor who just so happened to be working with Devora's father when he was still alive. The information I found was vague. Details were missing that seemed well, professionally lost. Whoever handled that paperwork was very careful, and I'm sure much more information is either hopelessly buried in volumes of lawyer speak or completely destroyed. What I was able to procure, though, was that the project dealt with something called B-Matter."

    "B-Matter?" Richard asked with an arched brow. "Never heard of it."

    "Perhaps Issac might know?" Kikata asked.

    Kina shook her head, "I highly doubt it. Whatever it is, or was, seems to be a very tightly held secret behind a patent held by Farnax Industries."

    "So what does this have to do with everything else? I'm sure they hold lot's of secret project patents." Kikata asked.

    "Just one thing I found." Kina said holding up her index finger, "A private correspondence between a researcher on the project and who I assumed was a close friend of his. Much of what was said was fairly vague, however he made one specific claim. That it glowed like Sapphire."

    "The B-Matter?" Richard asked.

    Kina nodded, "Now, it could all just be coincidence. But when I tried to dig anything more up on this project, particularly the location, all of the information has been sealed behind Farnax's private vault. Trying to retrieve information from there, well, you may as well try pulling light out of a black hole."

    "They seem to have a knack for that." Richard commented.

    Kikata hummed in agreement, "It is like that dark zone we entered before, and are likely entering again."

    "Ah yes, our third piece to the puzzle." Kina said. "That device in particular is very intriguing to the Alliance. And whoever developed it, or its predecessors have been very diligent about keeping it out of our hands. Nearly a century ago a large mining corporation used something very similar to block the human's galaxy from Alliance vision. However before our fleets could capture it the device was destroyed. Utterly."

    "They blew it up on their escape?" Richard asked.

    "They hurled it into Earth's sun." Kina smirked, "Whoever they were did not want even a trace of it left."

    "So the Alliance could not figure out how to disengage it themselves?" Kikata asked.

    "That. Or they did not want the Alliance to find their finger prints on it. The mining company did not create the device. It was an outside contractor and that's about all anyone knew. In the following years anyone who knew anything about it were killed. Someone with a lot of resources was very careful about that."

    Richard cursed under his breath, these were not the type of people you wanted to be caught snooping around in their business. As successful he and Kikata had been during their careers, they were still no professional killers. The thought never really occurred to him how easily Devoras could hire even a single assassin ship to dispose of them.

    "Now, this mysterious contractor, perhaps for the best, would never work with someone unreliable and without resources of their own. However, Farnax industries..." Kina trailed off.

    "They could certainly afford it." Kikata said.

    "And have every bit of personal experience covering up a dirty trail. If anyone might have access to black market stuff, it would be them." Kina replied.

    "Unless of course, Farnax and this mysterious contractor are one in the same." Richard offered.

    "Well, they certainly would not have the same name, but perhaps they have been purchased by them, it's possible." Kina replied, "Regardless their corporate takeovers of other companies are public domain. So ultimately whoever they are is a mystery and will remain that way." Her eyes grew stern again, "You must realize now that this is much bigger than your objective. The people you seek appear to be the same ones that have been in hiding for nearly a century. If...When you are successful you have an opportunity to bring justice to those responsible for countless acts of terror."

    A short silence fell over the call before Kikata said, "To think we spent the evening with her. If only we knew something sooner."

    "Still all we have is speculation, reasonable as it is." Richard said with a shrug, "Had we accused her of anything earlier she would have time to destroy whatever evidence lies behind their dark star."

    "Dammit. You're right. This is why we need to work cautiously. A slip up could-" Kikata bit off her words. "Time is running short. We need to discuss the backup plan."

    "Right." Kina said with a nod. "What do you have in mind?"

    "I presume you can trace our location?" Kikata asked.

    "Of course."

    "Our trail should lead you right to where our contact is lost. There's no way of knowing how large the dark zone is, but I imagine it contains a solar system at least. If our contacts information is true, anyway. We will have a lot of ground to cover, it might take us a while to even locate where our objective might be, and until then we cannot really form a plan of attack."

    "How much time do you want?" Kina asked.

    Kikata took a deep breath, "Two weeks. Richard and I discussed this for quite some time and- we're just worried that if we cause a stir too soon the entire thing will fall a part."

    "Two weeks is a long time if something goes wrong." Kina said cautiously.

    "We might be able to leave the zone briefly to make contact." Richard suggested, "The problem is we just can't be certain of anything."

    "I don't like it. But then again I don't like any of this. But I suppose...I suppose you are right. If we hear nothing of you for the next two weeks I will send a fleet." Kina's eyes bore concern, "I trust you will be careful."

    "There is a lot on the line." Richard said with a nod.

~ ~ ~ ~

Ground control to major tom...
Ground control to major tom...
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on.

    Atrix entered the community quarters and was surprised to hear the room filled with interesting sounds. It was music, but none that she was familiar with. She grew warm as she saw light from the human balcony and Issac was sitting there.

Ground control to major tom...

   
She cleared her throat. "W-What's this?" She asked through the almost mystical droning of instruments she was not familiar with. The sound cut off and Issac turned towards her.

    "Oh. It's a song." Issac said. "An ancient one, from back on Earth."

    "Ehy." Atrix replied. She approached the balcony and took her usual seat. Once again she found herself nervous despite how familiar this sort of interaction felt to her.

    "My brother loves these old songs so I was curious to find some and this one stuck out to me." Issac shrugged.

    "It...sounded nice. What's it about?" Atrix asked curiously.

    Issac hummed, "Well, I'm still not sure what the deeper meaning of it is...But it's about the early astronauts of earth, and something goes wrong I think."

    Atrix tilted her head, "Well I didn't mean to interrupt."

    Issac smiled, "Well really I was waiting for you to show up. But we can listen to it if you want?"

    Atrix nodded, "Please."

    "I'll start it over."

      The light strumming of the ancient guitar recording started. It was soft, and yet carried an emotional current with it. Atrix's eyes fell on Issac and felt as though the music was pulling on her delicate emotional strings.

Ground control to major tom...
Ground control to major tom...
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on. (A voice begins counting down from ten in whispers in the background)
Ground control to major tom...
Commencing countdown engines on.
Check egnition and may gods love be with you. (the countdown reaches zero)
   
The tone of the song became more earnest and more rapid paced.
This is ground control to major tom
You've really made the grade
And the paper wants to know whose shirt you wear
And it's time to leave the capsule if you dare
   
The character of the song responds
This is major tom to ground control
I'm stepping through the door
And I'm floating in a most peculiar way!
And the stars look very different, today.
For here...
And I'm sitting in a tin can.
Far...above the world...
Planet earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.
   
Suddenly the voices stopped and the pleasant stringed instrument strummed directly several times before more odd instruments filled Atrix's ears. She smiled despite the song's oddly sad tone. The voices then returned.
Though I'm past one hundred thousand miles
I'm feeling very skilled
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go.
Tell my wife I love her very much
She knows!...
   
The voices return with some concern.
Ground control to major tom,
Your circuits dead
there's something wrong
Can you hear me major tom
Can you hear me major tom
Can you hear me major tom
Can you hear....
And I'm floating in a tin can
Far....
Above the moon.
Planet earth is blue
And there's nothing I can do.
   
Once again the instruments interrupted the singing, and again in a tone that made Atrix almost confused for the words she heard seemed so sad. Then the instruments began to whine and shriek until they slowly faded away. They sat in silence for a few long moments. Atrix still could not quite piece together whether or not it was a sad song. "What was it all about?" She finally asked.
    Issac hummed. "Well, a lot of sources seem to say it was about a junkie getting his fix."
    "A junkie?" Atrix asked, tilting her head.
    "Someone who uh, is addicted to drugs."
    "Ah."
    "I don't know if that's what I got from the song myself, really." Issac said with a shrug. "It mostly made me think about those astronauts who first ventured out into space."
    "Did...The man in the song die?" Atrix asked with a frown.
    "I think so. I mean it sounded like it." Issac thumbed at his chin. "I suppose it's good song writing. Makes you think about it after it's all done."
    "Yes, like a good story." Atrix replied.
    "Those first people into space, I can't imagine being so brave. You know in this ship we're pretty safe. The chances of a failed launch or something happening without, you know, someone shooting a missile at us, are pretty low. Like really low. We don't use combustible fuel like they did back then. If something went even slightly wrong the rockets could explode before they even leave the atmosphere."
    "I guess I never thought about it." Atrix said, she forced a small huff of a laugh.
    "Yeah, I guess humans early space travel is still, well relatively, recent history. Had it not been for the Alliance humans would likely still be limited to our own solar system, if that even. Hell some history professors think we'd have likely killed ourselves off before even reaching Mars. I think that's a bit cynical though."
    "And we would have never met." Atrix murmured.
    Issac laughed, "Hell if things didn't go just the way they had for us humans I might not even exist. I mean what are the chances? It really makes you wonder."
    Atrix smiled, recalling a familiar parable that Prila often recited when describing the relationships of beings to one another. "Well I am glad fate pushed us the way it has." Atrix rolled her eyes to the side, "Well mostly glad."
    "Had Richard not been stranded a few years ago, he would have never met Kikata. Never became an employee of the Alliance. Never put in charge of this ship. I'd likely be job hunting still back home on earth! It really makes you think sometimes that fate does exist...maybe even some, I don't know, higher being."
    Atrix rested her chin on an arm along the balconies edge. She loved to just let him talk sometimes, to see how his thoughts flowed from one thing to the next. Her smile broadened as he took the eventual step of doubting his previous thought process.
    "Then again. Had things gone different, and had I been somewhere else having unique experiences I would be saying the same thing. In the end we only get to experience one universe, with one unique outcome. So no matter what all causes will have their own unique reactions." He put his hands up, "I'm sorry, I'm rambling."
    Atrix giggled, "It's okay. I like to hear you ramble."
    Issac grew warm in his ears, his heart rate quickening. He could feel a warm breeze gusting across the floor as Atrix softly exhaled, her massive, light gray eyes burrowing into him. They darted away less and less since he first met her. He wanted to tell her she looked beautiful today, but the second guessing was always there. Would it be right? Would it work? Atrix was a delicate flower, perhaps it would be better to observe and admire...but not too touch. He didn't want to see her hurt. Besides, he was never very smooth at talking to Richard.
    This could be her moment. She just had to be brave. A tilt of her chin, an arch of her neck and her lips would envelope him. But then what? She had never kissed anything or anyone in her life. Even for pleasant greetings she just pretended to kiss hands and cheeks. Would her uncertainty ruin it? Would it be too awkward and spoil everything in a single brief moment of action? Kikata had told her to just do it, do what ever feels natural in the moment because it's not really all that physically natural anyway. It's the emotion that counts. But what if the emotion isn't both ways?
    "Is...everything okay?" Issac asked, noticing a familiar blank stare.
    Atrix swallowed and nodded, "Y-yeah. Just, a thought."
    Issac nodded, "Yeah, apparently this whole mission is coming up on us soon." He grinned. "I never thought I'd get to say that!"
    "What?"
    "Mission. Like being on a mission." He laughed. "Though I guess we're not really the ones, like, doing it."
    Atrix huffed through her lips, "You've done more than me!"
    "So it must be your turn, next." Issac said. He stood up from his seat and bounced on his toes, feeling a jolt of energy rush through him. An excitement that almost felt childish. The sense of unknown and potential danger, yet the comfort of also knowing he had his ship and his brother's protection.
    "I wish." Atrix said softly.
    "I'm sure you'll get to beat someone up." Issac laughed again, "Even if it's after everything is resolved. We'll just sweep it under the rug. Turn a blind eye."
    Atrix giggled again, "Will you hold them down for me?"
    Issac thumbed at his chin, "Well they'd have to be pretty small. Are you going to beat up a human? Seems a bit unfair."
    "Well I would limit myself, naturally." She said, rising her free hand to the balcony and walked two fingers across the floor as if they were legs."
    "Naturally." Issac said, assuming his best impression of a fighting position.
    "Or maybe I'll just eat them." Atrix said, "I think I've acquired a taste." She nearly sighed as she was able to fumble the words out over her tongue. This could be it.
    "Oh yeah?" Issac said, throwing a few punches towards her finger gently.
    "Ouch!" Atrix gasped jokingly.
    "Maybe I just taste good?" He offered.
    Atrix took a shaking breath, "Well. Maybe I'll just have to eat you again!" She could feel her lips twitch, a natural segway to get him closer to her mouth. She tried to keep her slight smile genuine. Maybe it would be easier than she thought? Maybe Kikata was right.
    "Well. Maybe just a taste." Issac offered with a laugh.
    "I will have to get some Fularu." She said, she slipped her hand from under her cheek and lowered her face closer into the smaller scale balcony. Issac didn't move, standing by her fingers still pressed against the floor. Her body almost felt as though it ached with her nerves screaming for her to back out now, fighting against every instinct she had built up over the years not to go through with what she really wanted to do.
    Issac felt his heart beating under his shirt as Atrix's face came closer. Any thoughts other than how beautiful she looked, and how he adored her laughter, and how her image rarely left his mind had simply vanished. Her lush lips, shining brightly against the lights pressed together before relaxing, he could see her tongue dab the back of her lower lip just briefly. A warm gust of wind swirled about him, he could see himself taking just two more steps towards her and falling against those soft lips.
    The large scale doorway opened and Atrix jumped to sit back up in the chair. The adrenaline of what she almost did still pumped in her veins. She whirled around to see Kikata standing there with Richard perched on her shoulder. "H-Hey." She stammered nervously before fixing her hair. She could almost stand up and smack the woman. So close! Now she would have to wait around for perhaps another eternity before the moment was right and she was feeling confident.
    Kikata looked Atrix and Issac up and down for a second. Atrix's cheeks were beaming red and her eyes a little wider than usual. "We've reached the Dark Zone." She announced. "Our objective is close now."
    Issac felt weak at the knees as he glanced from Kikata and back to Atrix. What had just happened? Or not happened. He slumped back into his seat and watched as Richard climbed down from Kikata's hand and onto the balcony. Nichole soon entered through the smaller scale entrance as well, her personal computer in hand.
    "Is something wrong the the feed? I just lost connection." Nichole asked.
    "We'll be without that until we get our mess sorted out. We're in the dark zone now." Richard told her.
    "Ah." Nichole said with a frown. "I suppose I'll put off research until then."
    "I guess that means no more Spirit Quest." Atrix commented sadly.
    "Well, not unless I can figure out how to make a private server." Issac offered with a shrug.
    "I think we have bigger worries at this point." Kikata said. "Hopefully things won't take longer than a day or two."
    "If not?" Atrix asked. Once again Prila was made fresh in her mind, she almost felt foolish that she had been wrapped up so deeply in other things rather than the entire reason she was out here in the first place.
    Kikata ran her hands through her hair, "Worst case scenario, we have two weeks before the Alliance sends a fleet of ships. We want to settle this ourselves, not to mention it would be safer for our friend if we can stay under their radars for as long as possible. Who knows how they might react to an entire Alliance fleet entering the dark zone."
    "Likely to burn camp and flee." Richard said.
    "But that is for Richard and I to worry about." Kikata frowned, "It is not too late for you three. We could send a shuttle back out of the Dark Zone and into safety. No one would blame you."
    "I'm not going anywhere until it is done." Atrix said quietly.
    "Me too." Issac said.
    Nichole smiled and shrugged, "Hell I wouldn't miss it. Besides, a good doctor finds her use."
    "Let's hope we won't be needing one." Richard said, folding his arms over his chest.
    "Perhaps Devoras will need one once I've seen to her." Atrix grumbled, her fists clenching unconsciously.
    Issac huffed a short laugh, "I think I'd pay money to see that."
    "Let's keep ass beatings to a minimum." Richard said, "No matter how satisfying or, erm, entertaining it might be. The last thing you'd want to do is hit a women with that many lawyers working for her."
    "Just a joke." Atrix whispered before propping her cheek on her hand.
    Kikata shook her head, "Either way. I think you all might enjoy the view we are coming upon in the cockpit."

  ~ ~ ~ ~

    Atrix followed Kikata into the larger scale hallway towards the cockpit.

    "So, how is your-" Kikata started but was interrupted as Atrix shot a quick, two fingered strike into her shoulder at just the right spot. "Ow! Atrix!" Kikata yelped in surprise.

    "You interrupted!" Atrix complained.

    "Interrupted what!?" Kikata asked, rubbing her shoulder.

    "I was- We were-" Atrix intertwined her fingers as she tried to spill it out.

    Kikata's brow rose in surprise, "You were about to what?" She asked again.

    "I don't know. Kiss I think. I don't know what I was about to do but I was going to do something. I had my eyes closed and he was like, right there in front of my lips and then the door opened." Atrix groaned in frustration and leaned back against the wall.

    "Well, perhaps you should have your private moments in your room and not the community quarters." Kikata offered. She frowned at Atrix, who was still blushing deeply and her eyes nearly looking ready to tear over.

    "And what? Whisk him off to my room like you do with Richard?" Atrix shook her head, "Impossible. I can't. It will take days for me to work up the courage again."

    Kikata sighed and laid her hands on Atrix's shoulder, slowly bringing her in for a hug, "I'm sorry, hon. Just keep positive. You'll see."

    "Maybe I'll just get drunk again..." Atrix murmured softly.

    Kikata held Atrix out with stiffened arms, "No. Not that."

    "But it makes it so much easier!" Atrix pouted.

    "You know why you can't. If you start using drugs as a crutch you'll be dependent. From there nothing good follows. Now come on, the others will be wondering where we are."

~ ~ ~ ~

    Issac, Richard and Nichole were already staring out the cockpit window when Atrix and Kikata arrived in the larger scale section of the controls. Kikata slumped down into her seat while Atrix stood, clutching the back of the seat, their eyes falling on the unusual star system that laid out before them. Kikata felt the chill down her spine again as she stared out into the Sapphire Star. Indeed it shone a cool blue where most stars shone white, yellow or red.

    "Interesting." Grace's voice said, breaking the silence.

    "What's that?" Issac asked.

    "It is very quiet out here." Grace continued. "Any signals I detect are encrypted, they float on by without any signs of where they came or where they are going. It is how I imagine wind must feel."

    "Communication out here is tightly locked. And likely strongly monitored as well." Kikata said, "We'd be wise not to put out too many signals ourselves."

    "I will keep that in mind." Grace replied. "However my proximity scanners show that, if I am correct, there are hundreds of planets within the life sustaining zone."

    Issac leaned forward on the human platform, his fingers gripping the railing tightly. Far away, just faintly, he could make out the shapes of little orbs blocking bits of the blue light radiating from the star. The light made him feel strange, it was not fear that struck him. Yet it felt primal, ancient. As if it should mean something significant to him. He glanced around to the others. Both Richard and Nichole wore rather stern expressions, as if they were trying to understand just as he was. He looked over his shoulder, Kikata's golden eyes staring straight ahead, though Atrix's eyes were on him. They darted away out the window once she was caught staring and he smiled.

    A loud ping sounded in the cockpit and a spread of data suddenly flowed out onto the HuD. "Five ships approaching." Grace's voice said.

    Kikata cursed, looking to Richard before into the pool of data and maps, "Any reads on them Grace? Any information?"

    "T-3's." Grace replied. "They are locked onto something, but not us."

    "Torren's ship." Kikata whispered.

    "T-3's are typically too hard to obtain for a Mercenary group unless they are stolen." Richard said. "Either those are out dated Alliance vessels of some kind or-"

    "Defense contractors." Kikata said somberly, "Which means they are probably working for Devoras."

    "Is that...a bad thing?" Nichole asked, the sudden commotion left her voice a bit shaking.

    "Richard, I will hail Torren, tell him to get behind us. Watch to see if they get any closer." Kikata said, "Atrix, Issac, Nichole. Might be best for you to go to your rooms."

    Nichole nodded and quickly turned for the door. 

    "Five of these ships would pose a threat to a ship even of our technology." Grace said.

    "Well that's why we don't intend to start a fight." Richard replied.

    "But perhaps...if a non human or Neko pilot were in control. They would be more able to make the maneuvers necessary. If it came too it." Grace continued.

    "What are you getting at?" Kikata asked.

    "I think she wants control over the, uh, controls." Issac said.

    "Is that even possible?" Richard asked. "I mean I know there is auto-"

    "It's possible, but I haven't really had time to make a program for her. If I gave her access she would have total access." Issac explained shortly.

    "I'm not sure it's a good idea." Richard said, listening as Kikata wrapped up her conversation with Torren's ship. A moment later a gray vessel slipped over their heads, positioning itself behind the Richata.

    "Grace, taking control of the ship is a big responsibility. And strictly against the rules-" Issac said.

    "I am aware of the laws. And I know violence is a last resort, especially violence that would lead to a death. However my instincts tell me to protect my crew, and I am aware of the advantages my mind has. I am sure that if I were in control I could win, if it came to it." Grace replied.

    Kikata's heart rate quickened as the five ships soon appeared on their proximity radar. Their speed was slowing as they approached. She had been involved in her share of dogfights. However their ship plus Torren's would still be out manned by the slightly inferior yet greater number force that was assembling in front of them. "Grace. If we give you this you must follow orders. Is that understood."

    "I understand." Grace replied.

    Richard nodded his head to Issac who had already pulled his computer from his pocket.

    "You must not use your weapons until it is certain the enemy intends to use theirs." Kikata continued. "The objective is to cripple the ship, not to kill the crew. The men and women on board might have valuable information, and even if not it is not our jobs to-"

    "I am aware of the laws and the philosophy, Kikata." Grace replied in a smooth tone.

    "Am I doing this?" Issac said, his software ready to grant Grace full control over the ship. Every last function would be at the will of Grace's mind. Her body would finally be completely hers.

    "Do it." Kikata said between clenched teeth, part of her knowing it was a dangerous move. However she felt more and more that the world within the Dark Zone would be very different than the universe beyond it. "Now hail the oncoming ships, let's see who we're dealing with."
Nova Force Season 2: Episode 8 part 2
Sorry guys, been forever. Been so busy with just about everything. Won't make promises on timing for the next, but I'll try to see what I can do.
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Into the Darkness


    Atrix sat on her bed, her knees pulled up to her chest and her fingers nervously gripping her tail. Her head felt a little heavy from the hours of sleep she just awoke from and her body not quite ready to leave the warmth of her mattress. She wondered about many things, about this ship they were following, and what information Kikata kept hidden from her. It had been only two weeks since the day since they started following them, which was about all she knew of what they were doing, but it felt much longer than that- and yet it all seemed to have happened so fast. She mostly wondered about Issac. It annoyed her that she couldn't keep her mind off of him for very long. Whenever she was alone, trying to keep herself busy, he would pop up in her mind.

    Since that night he slept on her belly she felt as though something significant had changed. And yet since that night they hadn't really had a repeat where they were just together, enjoying themselves alone. Part of the reason was rather good, though. The entire crew had become much more social, spending countless hours in the community quarters playing the game Grace had picked out for them. Adventuring through virtual lands, progressing and finding new dungeons to explore, even winning a few battles against other players- Atrix loved it. Still though she would have embarrassing day dreams about Issac and herself going out and exploring, just the two of them. But that never happened, at the very least Grace was always there. The computer no longer seemed to fight over Issac with her, at least not in the way she used too, but she was still in competition for his time.
   
    The other half of it Atrix could only boil down to her cowardice. She desperately wanted to do many things, and try as she might to blame it on her condition many times she left their evenings together in a hurry back to her room without any of the familiar twisting and churning in her chest. She realized with their size she would have to initiate something, he couldn't do it on his own without her literally lending him a hand. All she wanted was to have him laying on her stomach again, which was so far the pinnacle of her romantic life, the most she had ever opened up to someone physically. Yet that night was becoming a sort of long lost history, from then on every day since seemed to be missing something.
  
    Finally she stood up, stretching out a few knots in her back. She frowned, she was sore from what was once regular exercise, if she wasn't careful she would fall out of shape. Prila would have none of that. She smirked and felt a little rush of optimism, Kikata assured her that they would get Prila back safely soon. She and Richard had done this all before, right? Hell they faced worse and look how well they are now. She stood in front of the tall mirror by her dresser, a seemingly white lump in the wall now that they were not activated. She poked at her belly, not quite as toned as it used to be. She turned to the side and frowned, unsure if she was forcing her stomach out or if she had actually put on some weight. As she thought of Kikata and Richard she remembered all the times she had jealously watched as Kikata took him into her hands, kissed, cuddled, went bounding off into her room when everyone knew what they were going off to do. She grew even more flustered at that thought, Issac popping into her mind again. An odd warmth accompanied by a tingle tickled up her thighs, causing her to unintentionally bite her lip.

    As usual, her feelings spun her and disoriented her. Her mind running three ways at once. Fear, primal fear even not suited for the situation, frustration for the fear, but this time a strong pull of optimism. She smiled at herself in the mirror, allowed herself to be happy with what she saw despite the slight extra layer of weight on her belly. She pursed her lips and removed the shirt she slept in, turning side to side. Prila's breasts would be too much, but if I could maybe have Kikata's that would be perfect. She had never felt too self conscious about her chest before, but now she found herself wishing she could put on a pushup bra so she might have some proper cleavage. She shrugged the thoughts away and slipped out of her shorts. She didn't know why she did it, but she finally took her laser hair remover to her woman bits, everything was smooth- it looked more ready than she felt.

    She placed her palm on top of the dresser and a seal opened before the drawer slid out. She pulled her bathrobe from it, a blue, thin cloth robe that dropped down to about her knees. Once covered up she made her way to the door, entering the female Neko bathroom to find Kikata there running a comb through her hair, still wet from her own shower.

    Kikata's eyes glanced to the side and she smiled, "Morning Atrix." She said.

    Atrix nodded her head and held her hand over her mouth to hide a yawn. She quickly closed herself into the bathing chamber, where a door of semitransparent glass turned Kikata into a unrecognizable blob on the other side. She disrobed and turned on the water. "So- err- today is..." She started.

    "Mmm." Kikata replied. "Supposedly we'll be reaching whatever this place is we've been aiming towards." Kikata felt her nerves tense up as she thought about it. She was still so unsure about what they were getting into, and what they would do once it all started. She just hoped it would happen fast, whatever it was, and that it could be solved without violence. "Don't worry yourself about it, you'll likely be back in bed by the time we reach there and it will all be solved by the time you wake up."

    "You think so?" Atrix called over the wall of the bathing chamber.

    "Well, I hope so." Kikata said with a sigh.

    Atrix ran her hands through her hair, her fingers rubbing along the clasp in her hair. Every day she wanted it gone more and more. "I'd like to give a beating to whoever thinks they can take Prila away from me."

    "Oh and I would love to watch it, darling, but let's hope it doesn't come to that. Devoras knows who we are, knows who are friends are. If she truly is responsible I'd hope she is reasonable enough to do as we say, likely she'll come up with as many excuses as her legal team can pay for."

    "I'll beat them up too." Atrix said, grinning to herself. It was nice to talk about progress, about the end goal, about justice. It made her feel confident it would all turn out alright. She struck a pose, water running down her in rivers, "How many people make up a legal team?"

    Kikata smirked, her eyes glancing up to the form of Atrix behind the door, she couldn't see the details but she could hear her feet scuffling along the smooth floors. "Oh I don't know, for someone like her? Probably thousands."

    Atrix grunted, "In the battle of Uintan, Grolana defeated a thousand Yaomo soldiers with only a fighting stick." She twirled around, throwing a wet kick at the wall, pulling it short so she wouldn't actually hit it.

    "Is that so?" Kikata asked.

    "I would do it with my bare hands." Atrix continued.

    "I'm sure you would, Atrix the mighty warrior." Kikata said with a laugh.

    "I'd use their heads like stepping stones." Atrix grinned as she bounced from one foot to the other while soaping up her torso, "All the way until I could kick Devoras right in the-" She yelped as the soapy floor made her lose her footing. She crashed down on her rear end with a loud smack.

    Kikata gasped, "Are you okay?" She asked, whirling around to face the chamber.

    "Ouch." Atrix said, scrambling to her feet, she rubbed her rear end with a frown, "I guess if they install soapy floors I won't get to make it very far."

~ ~ ~ ~

    Sangella lounged in a comfy chair in their ships small community quarters, idly sifting through the feed for anything at all that might entertain her. Once again they had entered the familiar boring hiatus between calls. Sometimes it would be days, sometimes weeks, it was impossible to tell how long before their ship in particular picked up another distress signal. She didn't even have to look at the Shithead Tracker to know that the Richata was going off the grid further and further with each passing hour. They were light years now from any civilized galaxy, off by themselves. Her eyes narrowed as she tried to puzzle it together, nothing logical came to mind. She stopped flipping through the various feeds as she happened upon a movie, she didn't really pay much mind to what was going on. Instead she was thinking about the little blip on their tracking computer, Torren the wanted terrorist, and a massive corporation known to have butted heads with Torren and his followers before. Clearly two of them were related, but where did Kikata and Richard fit in?

    "Sangella have we sunk so low that we're masturbating in the community quarters now?" Came a startling voice.

    Sangella let out a loud gasp and spun around to see Johnny had crept his way onto the human balcony right by her head. She let out a shaking sigh and shook her head, "What the hell are you on about?" She glanced over to the display and saw two Neko on the screen making passionate and sweaty love to one another. "It's a movie." She explained.

    "Well duh." Johnny said, sinking into a chair for himself, "Whose he, the plumber?"

    Sangella rolled her eyes, "No like a real movie, asshole. I'm not watching porn." Though as she spoke her brow arched as the sex scene seemed to go on forever, she frowned and checked the feed to make sure she hadn't accidentally brought up a porno without realizing it.

    "Hm. You know I would think the tail would get in the way from that position, but it actually seems to be helping out." Johnny continued, leaning forward in his seat, "Think it tickles?"

    Sangella laughed and shook her head, "I would offer to demonstrate but uh, I don't think you could reach from back there, little buddy."

    "Oh if there's a will there's a way. I'll just call up ol' Richy and ask for some advice, you know maybe with a ladder, a bucket of lube and-" They both let out a yelp as an incoming call flashed over their screen. Richard's, slightly smirking face on the profile of the ID.

    Sangella's blood ran cold, did they know? Did they figure them out? She glanced over to her partner, who shrugged, before answering the call.

    "Well, well, well if it isn't our dynamic duo once again, you know I found something very interesting today." Richard said with a grin. Behind him the large figure of Kikata lowered into her own seat, a small white towel in her hand as she dabbed her neck.

    Sangella felt a tight knot forming in her gut, but managed to say, "Sir?" Without stuttering.

    "Hybrid Team Rescues the Rescuers of Ancient, Slumbering Alien Civilization." Richard said, reading off some news website. "Nice pose, Sangella."

    "Huh?" Sangella questioned.

    "In the group photo, the one where you all are all looking the wrong way." Richard explained. He shook his head, "Man, I thought you'd be excited, you look like you've seen a ghost!"

    "You're trending pretty high right now." Kikata added in, "It's very exciting!"

    Sangella forced a smile, despite having to listen to Kikata's annoying, cheerful voice, "Oh! Yes, very excited, it's um- well-"

    "We're exhausted." Johnny broke in, feeling the same nervous pit in his stomach as Sangella, "We were up for almost two days straight throughout the ordeal."
  
    "Celebratory drinks, I'm sure." Richard said with a chuckle.

    The two Hybrid guards maintained their nervous smiles. Sangella opened a link sent by Richard to see the articles for herself, and there she was. Plastered in a large photo right at the top of a prestigious news page, mouth open and head starting to twirl around as the capsule opened prior to anyone being ready for it. She could have laughed had she not been staring down the two people she had been obsessively tracking and plotting against for the past several weeks.

    "Well, ah, I wouldn't be surprised if you get a call or two from headquarters. Perhaps a slight reroute in course to get some interview time in- or you can skip that and enjoy your leave." Richard said with a wink.

    Kikata leaned forward, "I suggest the latter, I always hated doing interviews."

    Sangella could feel a bit of anger welling up inside of her. You'll be the next Nova Force! everyone had said. And she couldn't even avoid doing the interviews without emulating that black haired bitch of a superior. But still she forced a smile so fake she thought her cheeks might turn to plastic, "Yes, well, uh, thanks!" She said, doing her best not to sound obnoxiously cheerful.

    "Yeah, that's uh, exciting news." Johnny said, holding his computer closer to his face so that his voice could be heard.

    "Well, we'll let you two go." Richard said, "Again, expect a call sometime in the near future."

~ ~ ~ ~

    Richard ended the call and leaned back with a sigh, chucking as he read over the article again at a glance.

    "Did they seem, I don't know, funny to you?" Kikata asked.

    Richard rubbed his chin, "Sorta. Kind of awkward, right?"

    "Yes, exactly." Kikata said, leaning her elbow on her armrest and prodding her lower lip with her finger. A smile creased her lips.

    "And judging by your face, I'd say you think we were interrupting them at an awkward time." Richard said, swiveling back and forth in his seat.

    Kikata hummed and giggled, "Her face was nearly as red as her hair."

    Richard smirked, Kikata seemed to be on a nostalgic kick of space romance. Always reminiscing about old times, and how they met- and he assumed she had her hands in whatever was going on between his brother and Atrix. As cautious as he was about a relationship forming between those two, he couldn't deny the benefits of Kikata being obsessed with romance.

~ ~ ~ ~

    Atrix huffed a sigh, placing another mascara coated tissue on her table, "I'll never get it."

    "It was almost perfect that time." Nichole insisted, dabbing a brush along Atrix's free hand with pink polish. "Just try to keep your eye open this time."

    Atrix took a deep breath before attempting to apply her makeup again. Last time Kikata had done it, but she was busy taking a call. She kept her hand as steady as possible, slowly brushing the black substance over her eye lashes. It was odd, to her anyway, but she couldn't deny it made her eyes look nice. Finally she finished the left one and felt satisfied. "Okay, now the right."

    The two continued to get ready, chatting about various things and typically swinging back to Issac. Eventually Kikata joined them in Atrix's room. Though to their surprise she met them with a frown.

    "What?" Atrix asked.

    "Well, I was hoping we'd wait to do makeup until after Richard and I sit everyone down for a little demonstration. But I suppose I didn't give forewarning."

    "Demonstration?" Nichole asked.

    Kikata took a seat next to Atrix and smiled at her, "You're getting better." She said. She looked back to Nichole, "And yes, just a little preparation for, well, emergencies. It won't take more than an hour or two." She glanced between the two again, "Not that you should be worrying yourselves to death, it just never hurts to be prepared. Especially considering we have two untrained passengers on our crew."

    "Oh yeah, sorry about that." Nichole said with a laugh, "I kinda sprung up on you guys, huh?"

    "Not nearly as bad as Atrix, what with the submission take down and all."

    Atrix shrugged her shoulders, then cursed as the movement made her slip the brush off her eye lash, "Dangit." She muttered, reaching for the tissue.

    Kikata quickly took it from her, "You don't have to start over every time it's not perfect." She bit her lip as she dabbed at Atrix's eye lid, "There, fixed it."  

~ ~ ~ ~

    "Come on, one more." Richard urged, his hands hovering over a heavy metal bar as it quivered in Issac's grip.

    Issac's cheeks bulged as he tried to push the bar more than a few inches off his chest. His arms burned and he could feel blood rushing to his head as he strained.

    "Breath. Breath!" Richard ordered, "You'll burst a blood vessel."

    Issac exhaled, his legs kicking out as he managed to push the bar higher. Relief washed over him as Richard guided the bar back into its resting place. He let his arms fall and took a few deep breaths, "I'm done."

    "Getting better." Richard said, adjusting the weights for himself as Issac slowly removed himself from the bench press. He grinned at his little brother, "Getting some tone in your arms finally."

    Issac looked down at his arms and shrugged, he definitely felt stronger than he was when he first got onto the ship but couldn't help but feel weak as his brother benched a solid sixty more pounds than him with half the effort. "So what's this about a demonstration?"

    Richard grunted as he brought the bar down to his chest then back up again. "Just a little-" He grunted again, "Preparation in case of emergencies." He huffed a heavy breath, "Something we should have done a while back, really." He finished his set and set the bar back in place with a little aid from Issac.

    Issac thumbed at his chin, "What sort of emergencies?"

    Richard held his hands up and shrugged, "I don't know, anything really." He gave his brother a stern look, "No guns, if that's what you're thinking."

    Issac let out a deep sigh.

    "I promised Kikata- look you don't need to be-" Richard frowned, "Alright fine. But no one should know about this, there's a whole pile of certifications you're supposed to go through before you're even supposed to step foot in the testing range."

    "Well, my clearance technically gives me full access to the ship and facilities, so you know. It's probably a loop hole." Issac explained, following his brother out of the the fitness room.

    "Good point." Richard said, the two men entering the hallway and stopping before the shuttle. "To the-" Richard started.

    Grace cut him off, "Yes, yes I've been listening." Grace replied. The shuttle lurched forward.

    "Alright. So if we do this I have to let you know. There will be no gun fighting, if there is gun fighting you'll be staying out of it. If something happens, anything at all, the first thing you do is look for a way to remove yourself from the situation. Only if you have no other option should you ever pick up a firearm with intent to use it for anything other than target practice. Clear?"

    "Right, yeah, no need to be a hardass about it." Issac said with a laugh.

    "Good. Well, let's shoot some shit." Richard said with a grin, "We still have an hour or so before the others will be joining us so we can get a little bit in."

    Issac remembered the weapons testing facilities from when he had demonstrated his food box bomb, though he had not tried to enter the actual weapons room. The room was so carefully hardwired that Grace could not bypass the security clearance protocol, unable to open the doors until Richard had taken a hand print and retina scan. The doors slid open and Issac felt an excited shiver working its way around his chest as his eyes fell on the wall of firearms. There was only one of every type, the ship would not be suited to equip a small army but for a single Guard they would have anything and everything they might need in case of conflict.

    "Before you touch anything, Issac, it's important we go over the organization of the room." Richard thumbed at his chin, "Grace do you have a training display by chance?"

    "Certainly." Grace's voice sounded throughout the room. Soon the walls around them changed, names and numbers appearing over each firearm and crate as well as an apparent color code for sections of the wall. "Will this do? I could check for others."

    "This will work." Richard said. He walked over towards a blue colored wall. "Alright Issac, all of these here marked in the blue section are weapons designed for non-fatal intent. It doesn't mean they are not dangerous, but if they are working properly they should not kill."

    "So, what, like rubber bullets?" Issac asked.

    Richard gave Issac a look as if he should know better before lifting a small, sharp edged blue gun, labeled on the wall as the VI90. "This little thing will fire an electric charge at a range of up to thirty yards. The charge will disable the person for about a minute, leave them rather dazed for a few more minutes after that. Typical law enforcement hip holstered weapon." He placed the weapon back onto the wall and pointed towards a nearly identical firearm that was about twice the size of the first, the VI96. "This one will do the same thing, but at a longer range." He hoisted the weapon from the wall and held it out in front of Issac, his hand moved across the surface, "Green light means safety, it won't fire. Blue light-" He flicked a switch on the grip of the firearm, "Means it will do exactly what the last one did." He flicked the switch again, "Orange means the charge will be more concentrated, faster moving, and further traveling. Good at over three hundred yards." He put the weapon back onto the wall, "This would typically be used by a tactical law enforcement team, many times shot from air to land if a suspect is trying to flee by foot."

    Richard took another step down the line, towards a hefty looking firearm with a barrel about six inches thick, "This here we refer to as the engine thumper, you'd understand if you heard it when it goes off. Not designed to be used against people- but rather vehicles. It fires a blast with a six foot radius that can effectively travel up to two hundred yards that will disable any sort of electrically or core powered vehicle." He continued down the list of EMP grenades, pulse cannons, sonic personnel disruptor's, flash grenades, smoke grenades, anything at all in their arsenal (which was most of it, really) that was not designed to inflict fatal damage to their targets they are intended for. Intent is important however because some of the firearms are meant to protect the carrier from larger scale species. These weapons could potentially, and sometimes certainly, inflict fatal damage if used on a human. These weapons are equipped with state of the art safety features however, targeting systems that recognize species and will not fire if the trajectory would cause death to any in its path. Richard emphasized that this was a good reason to know exactly what you will face when arming yourself, and if you cannot know then you should either spend more time gathering intelligence, or come prepared to face anything. Issac got the idea that Richard preferred the "prepare for anything" approach.

    Finally Richard moved off the blue wall and stood before the white wall. On it were three weapons Issac recognized as pistols. "These are officially known as handguns. The first here is the M25, standard issue in the Marines and now in the Hybrid Guards. Holds fifteen 9 millimeter rounds, or ten A4 armor piercing rounds. Just about anyone can pick one of these up and fire. I guess I'll take this one out to the range first. Grace, if you would."

    "Certainly." Grace replied. The panel holding the handgun suddenly flipped, replaced by smooth white wall and a blinking notification that read, "At Range"

    "Let's see, uh." Richard said, folding his arms as he glanced around the room.

    "What's that?" Issac asked, pointing towards a shining, hulking metal handgun on the wall. It nearly looked like you would need two hands to heft it, in fact he probably would.

    "Oh that." Richard ran his hand over his head, "You don't need to worry about that. But if you're curious its the D19, my buddies in the Marines called it an egg hurler because, well-" He walked over to a crate beneath the weapon and hoisted the lid. He reached in and plucked a single round, it fit heavily in the palm of his hand, as the name would suggest it sort of resembled an egg. "This is about the biggest punch you can pack with something that can technically be fired with one hand. Of course as I'm about to show you proper technique is nothing that you would see in the movies. And this weapon in particular is more of a novelty, a gag gift from a friend. Hell I'm even afraid to use it." He shook his head. He turned back towards the next wall across the room with the green backdrop. "Here we go. A rifle."

    Richard took a few steps and eyed up the three rifles he had hanging on the wall, "Here we have a compact, XM30, taking the place of smaller sub machine guns. It's designed for close quarters but can still stand toe to toe with any mid range rifle." The weapon was mostly rectangular in shape. When the magazine is inserted it juts out forward with the grip clasping beneath it, to released you simply pull down on the grip and the empty cartridge falls free. The barrel itself could be extended or condensed, none of the weapons came equipped with a bulky scope or light as they were designed to be integrated with the HUD of the Guard's armor. "Next down the line is the standard issue M19 tactical assault rifle, mid to long range this is what most of the Marines carry on their day to day. Easy to use, minimal recoil for the power and more reliable than just about anything else in here. Grace, go ahead and take this one as well."

    Richard decided that two was enough for starters, he gathered some ammunition and sent it down to the firing range. A few minutes later he and Issac were standing in front of the deep, white hallway by a small human sized counter, on the wall to their left the two weapons sat waiting to be used. Richard demonstrated how to load and unload a magazine with bullets, then how to load the magazine, first into the handgun, then into the rifle. He taught Issac proper trigger safety, how to wield the handgun so he didn't hurt himself, and how to brace the stock of the rifle on his shoulder. Grace prepared targets at varying ranges as they practiced.

    "Not bad." Richard said with a nod as Issac flicked the safety on the now empty rifle.

    "I could do even better if I had the armor HUD." Issac said.

    Richard shook his head, "First you need to learn the basics without it. If you can't operate a weapon properly without the aid of a targeting computer, then you don't get to use the weapon."

    "Just saying." Issac said with a shrug.

    Movement was suddenly heard from the larger scale quarters as Kikata and Atrix appeared, soon followed by Nichole entering through the human scaled doorway. "Guess it's time for the other presentation." Richard said, placing the weapons back on their appointed panels on the wall.

    Kikata arched a brow as she looked down at them, "I thought we agreed no guns?"

    Richard shrugged, "This was separate." He felt a nervous itching down his back.

    Kikata rolled her eyes, "Alright, well let's go do what we planned now."

    Richard nodded his head towards a doorway on the opposite side of the firing range and Issac and Nichole followed him.

~ ~ ~ ~

    The Armor station was not a very large room for Kikata and Atrix, but as always it nearly seemed an endless cavern to the humans. The smaller scale area resembled the larger scale in construction. The room was rather dull, much like the halls of the ship, though as before Grace brought up the training display which suddenly filled the walls and three identical capsules with information and color.

    "Should I go first?" Kikata asked.

    "Sure." Richard replied, his elbows leaning on the railing facing the larger scale area.

    "Okay, so first-" Kikata said, strolling over to the large capsule on the left hand side of the room, "I place my hand on the control panel like so." Once her hand was placed firmly on the square panel the capsule split in two, revealing an indent in the shape of a humanoid form. As she approached the smooth indent warped to fit her body exactly. "It's important to try and stay perfectly still, the machine can be a bit scary the first time but it knows what it's-"

    "Beginning armor fitting process, confirm?" Grace's voice asked.

    "Yes." Kikata replied.

    A moment later a metallic pair of boots rose from the floor and clamped around Kikata's leg up to her knee. The machine rose her feet one at a time so that the sole of the boot could be applied. The machine moved rapidly, almost too fast to recognize what the other crew members were seeing, it seemed as though a new metal body grew around Kikata until she was standing before them fully suited in her armor. "The helmet will be placed on your head activated." Her voice now carried the robotic, asexual tone that accompanied any guard armor. Her voice quickly changed back as she slid the translucent face covering up, "Once you figure out the internal controls it's pretty easy to disengage it." She looked over to Atrix, "We have spares, and some armor more specialized for other tasks. Atrix I want you to use the center capsule. It has no internal weaponry but can server many other functions."

    Atrix hesitantly approached the center capsule. "Just like this?" She asked, placing her hand on the square. After a moment the capsule opened, just as before. The humanoid indent was rather large compared to herself in comparison to Kikata, but it quickly matched her form exactly. Grace asked the question, and Atrix replied just as Kikata had.

    Issac could not strip a wide grin off his lips as he watched the first two get situated in their Armor. Nichole seemed a bit nervous, but to him he had always hoped he would get the chance to suit up. He nearly trembled with excitement as he was directed over to his own capsule. Kikata and Richard would use standard Hybrid Guard armor, which had internal non-fatal weapon systems built into them along with any other gadget that might assist them in their line of work. The center capsule was more like safety armor, no weapons built into it (aside from the HUD being able to integrate weapons systems carried off of the person such as the firearms Issac had just been practicing with). The human scaled version came complete with the personal propulsion system, life support, armor lock out, communication systems, ect. It was designed to help overcome the obvious disadvantages of being so small compared to the majority of the alien species, while exploiting the main advantage, which is stealth. Issac's armor, like Richard's, standard color is a matte black. Just like the ship the color can be changed for any situation.

    Nichole's armor, however, defaulted to red. A large white cross covered the front and back as a signal of medical personnel. This armor would be used in situations where a specialized medical suit would be preferred, such as natural disasters.

    "This is awesome." She said, then immidiately laughed. "Oh I'll never get used to the voice!"

    "I am General Deathdealer, mighty warrior!" Issac said, raising he hands over his head and laughing. Over the balcony he could hear the familiar cadence of Atrix's giggles, but only made more humorous by the deep tone that accompanied them.

    Kikata folded her arms and smiled, shaking her head as she recalled quite literally every class being initiated with their armor would fall into chaos as they played and laughed with their new robotic voices. Eventually she said, "Alright guys, settle down. The voices are weird, I know, but serve a practical purpose."

    "Which is?" Nichole asked.

    "De-humanization to prevent bias of the people we are aiding. Helps them see us as a group as the authority, rather than seeing the male or female of the group as the authority." Richard explained.

    "Very good Richard." Kikata said with a smile. She took a deep breath, "Okay, so before we get to the fun stuff, let's start with the basics..."

    Over the next several hours Atrix, Issac and Nichole would learn the basic functions of their armor. What it would do automatically, such as the armor lock out and switching from using the atmosphere outside of the suit, to using the atmosphere inside of the suit. How to position themselves when being carried, or even stepped on accidently by a larger scale creature. While the armor can sustain massive amounts of pressure, it could still be possible to sprain or break a limb with an awkward placed arm or leg. They learned how to control their radios with the no-touch hand display, how to shift between vision modes, activate targeting systems, anything they might need to know before getting down to the gadgets of the armor. Which of course were different from armor set to armor set. Issac and Atrix had fairly basic functions outside of the propulsion system. Gravitational Manipulation Pads located in their boots and the palms would allow them to more naturally move in a zero gravity environment, and also generate a fairly week gravitational pull on objects also residing in a zero gravity environment. These effects would be extremely weak in comparison to the ships gravity systems, and would essentially be rendered useless. His vision systems would be able to allow him to view in a wide variety of spectrum's, low light, infrared, artificial light, temperature, limited surface penetration (essentially looking at objects through other physical blocks such as walls). He could also activate sound source locators which would display sound wave displays around his HUD. Targeting systems would put distance numbers on wherever his vision was focused. Anything his sensors could detect that could prove useful in any number of situations was programmed into the HUD.

    Finally silence filled the room as Kikata held her helmet against her hip, "Um. I think...that's the basics..."

    "Yeah." Richard said nodding, "That about covers it."

    Atrix huffed air through her lips, "I exhausted. Can we play Spirit Quest now?"

    "Oh, yes! Let's!" Grace said.

    "Yeah, yeah let's do that." Kikata said with a nod.

    "I need a beer." Richard chimed in. "Probably two. Because I'm always the one that dies in this game."   
Nova Force Season 2: Episode 8 Part 1
Hello everyone. So potential free time has sort of freed up, but I'm not 100% on it. Anyway, hopefully it won't take months to put out another episode.
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Ginbug
Ginbug TOTALLY MY REAL NAME
Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
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I am a photographer by trade...but under this name I write stories :D. I don't take it too seriously, most of the chapters are the first draft ^^;. I feel I get a lot of joy being able to express the impossible things that can happen in my mind.

This is :iconberggie: 's picture as part of our Art trade, I love it!
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:iconhotgum:
HotGum Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2015  Professional Digital Artist
Thanks for the fave :happybounce:  Come watch/follow if you like my work.  More to come soon!  And if you're ever interested, here is my commission info for reference :) (Smile)  HotGum's Commission Info by HotGum
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macromega Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015
Thanks for faving "Bigger Than This 4!"
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angel00101 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2015
Happy birthday.
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JoeyTheNeko Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2015  Student Writer
happy birthday.
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karcoalga Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015
Thanks for the fav'! ;>
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vorebound Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for checking out my gallery and faving some things. If you like what you see, would you consider adding me to your watchlist?
I appreciate the support!

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Have an awesome day!
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MrTenma Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Hey, you still around?
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Ginbug Featured By Owner Oct 13, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
sorta, what's up
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Apeiron-MACRO Featured By Owner Aug 26, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Thanks for the fav :D
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CrushedBoyWonder Featured By Owner Aug 24, 2014
thanks
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