2034-02-28 1300LT Kevin Is Impressed

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Event: 2034-02-28 1300LT Kevin Is Impressed

Scenario: The Time Before

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Characters Locations
Kevin, Rebecca, Jim Oldman, Dex, Dale, Syd Luna Alpha
Caused By Cause Of
On This Day

Kevin couldn't remember the last time he's had this much fun. TALOS was 100% fucking awesome.

"Listen Corporal," he said, cutting off the large man with a sharp gesture. "This isn't my first ride. I know you have a schedule to keep. Right now? It waits." He pointed his heavily armoured arm toward Rebecca. "That woman has my full attention."

"Yes Sir," Corporal Oldman said. After several hours of working with Kevin his opinion of the big man was that he was a profound jerk - and almost as good as his arrogant ass thought he was.

Kevin was peripherally aware of Oldman's dislike for him. He didn't care. When Rebecca planted her feet where the wall met the floor and unleashed herself at the climbing wall 100m away he barked out a laugh and clapped his hands. The wall was a huge slab of rock 25m tall, with precious few places to grab a hold or place a toe. You were supposed to climb it, not leap over it in a single bound. "Cali, trajectory," he said. His suit AI showed her arcing path as a glowing line in the air. It would put her just over the top. That's damn accurate for a newbie, he thought. Out loud and grinning, he said, "Corporal, hit her with 50 cal next time she goes ballistic for more than a second." He could just feel the corporal take in a breath to argue. "Now!" he barked. His command voice did the trick: when Rebecca tried to leap over an agility maze a few seconds later she found herself hammered by incoming fire. It didn't get through her LAL, of course. The Liquid Armour Layer was more than tough enough to handle small fire like that. It did make the LAL stiffen up and spun her around. Instead of clearing the maze, she clipped a pole with a frozen leg, sending her into a chaotic tumble that ended with a crash into a balance beam over a shallow mud pond. He imagined her foul-mouthed fear-fuelled response would be a delight to listen to, but decided to move on.

He turned his attention to Syd. The AI in his suit’s QAL automatically zoomed in on the small man as he worked his way through a building in a simulated defense against a hostile home invasion. “Cali, what are his numbers?” Diagnostics appeared around Syd, showing a curious mix of complete calm and flat out panic. If we live through this I really want my techs to take a long hard look at that man’s lace, he thought. His competency ratings were not as good as Rebecca’s, but his integration rating was much better than any n00b should have. “Figures,” he said, shaking his head. “Technician, have you ever seen anything like Mr. Balta’s performance before?”

Corporal Oldman shook his head too. “No sir.” Getting Syd into a QAL had been a glorious nightmare. He’d gone into a mental flat-spin when he discovered the scrub-and-stick procedure needed to bond the artificial muscle suit to your skin. That process wasn’t fun for anyone, but this guy… In the end, Syd had used his lace to put himself in a full-virtual safe room inside his own head. He watched everything that was done to him on a simulated big-screen TV, and let his lace control his body to assist. Oldman shrugged.“The diagnostics went a bit wonky when he slaved his phone to the QAL, and then he just…” The Guard trailed off.

“Yeah,” Kevin said. He had abruptly stopped his own integration training when Syd dropped his phone into his QAL. All the physical integration diagnostics turned green immediately, which was unheard of. Kevin had blurted out, "How the hell did you do that?" before he could stop himself.

Syd had stared at him blankly. "I understand how it works."

Kevin considered what he wanted from the hours before the team dusted off for the Jade Rabbit Warren. “Corporal, you’ve figured out that I have seen combat,” he said. “This is my first time in TALOS, but not my first time in a platform like it. I’ve piloted OTHAR[1] and SAMURAI[2] in some tight spots, for instance.” Kevin gauged the soldier’s expression as ‘not impressed enough’ and sighed. “Fine. Let’s do it the other way, then.” He tensed his chest to tell Cali to keep his next words private, and said, “Put me through to the Duchess.”

A moment later the small bundle of energy appeared. As soon as she saw Kevin she rolled her eyes and waved at someone off the call. Ms. Smith stepped into view. Despite their radically different appearances, the women’s expressions of impatient irritation were remarkably similar.

“Yes?” the Duchess asked, somewhat abruptly. Kevin noted that Ms. Smith had just barely managed to let the other woman speak first.

“Your Grace, I’d like your permission to build some credibility with the Grenadier Guard.”

She looked at him, then at Ms. Smith, and then threw her hands in the air in a very un-royal way. She turned to his boss. “Damages will be added to your rent,” she said pleasantly.

Aurora turned to Kevin and glared. “It’s your quite limited budget to spend, Mr. Cahn. I look forward to your retroactive business case and the ROI.”

“Thank you, Your Grace, Ma’am,” Kevin said. That used up the last of his diplomacy. “Cali, open a broadcast to all personnel in the obstacle course.” Cali made the Duchess and his boss glow, starting red, easing to green, and then shifting back. Kevin smirked. “Both.” Cali added them to the general announcement.

“Attention! By order of the Duchess, all personnel in the Obstacle Course Training Facility prepare for live-fire PVP combat scenario starting in three minutes!” Kevin walked through virtual menus while he spoke, issuing requests for armaments and other equipment. There was a pause. Privately, he said, “Your Grace?” to the Duchess. With a grim expression she authorized everything.

There was an explosion of activity. Trainees were pulled out in seconds. Techs like Oldman sprinted away. Kevin heard alarms wailing in the distance as they left. Around him, autonomous robot techs appeared. He stood still, arms out and legs apart while they removed his standard active-camouflage armour plates. As soon as they were off another bot sprayed him with something that turned him into a formless blob of darkness. Equally impossibly dark armour plates were attached moments later, along with a host of weapons too dark to be seen.

Ms. Smith’s voice was light and cheerful. “I’d like to hear about how you knew about that prototype stealth armour, Kevin.”

He grinned, for the first time letting the killer inside out to say hello to his boss. He caught the tiny change in her body language when she recognized what he was showing her.

Grenadier Guards were pouring into the room in their gleaming Royal Guard Armour. He could see RPOs suiting up in TALOS, but he ignored them. He expected to be done with the fight long before they were ready. He frowned when he saw Syd making a scene and then leaving the training field with Dex and Rebecca trying to calm him down. He’d hoped that they would play the royals, to give them an up-close chance to see what professionals could do with power armour.

The simulation noted that the royals would now be played by basic robot mannequins with AR overlays. No time to worry about them. Kevin toggled over to the open broadcast again. "We are running Scenario 109," he said. "I am the credible assassination threat to the royals you are protecting. My win condition is killing all three. Your win condition is killing me. This is a live fire training action. Verify all weapons are training caliber or have training edges.”

Cali said, °°Clear,°° two seconds later.

His personal diagnostic now showed his TALOS would be fully configured in another twenty four seconds. “This scenario will begin with thirty seconds of darkness. My callsign is ‘Seraphim’. Scenario begins in sixty seconds. MARK!”

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  1. OTHAR is simpler to use, but you can’t field strip to replace armour plates. Setup costs more, maintenance is cheaper, and time to suit up is 90 seconds.
  2. The Japanese SAMAURI platform is a small mech like the Royal Guard Armour but it’s much faster - and can’t take a hit worth a damn.