Space was vast, quiet, and empty. Yet at the same time it could be cramped, noisy, and cluttered. Those were the impressions Thomas felt every time he was out on a space walk. Too many obstacles to avoid such as meteorites and satellites. Then there was the threat of the odd bit of space junk that littered the space ways as the result of the endless wars. One could tell what patches of space had seen the most warfare from this. Regardless of the efforts of salvage entrepeneurs there seemed to be no end to it. What made Thomas feel heavy despite the weightlessness of space was the fact that he had been to all of them.
“So as I was sayin’ Big Tom, ya gotta understand this from a hackers point’a view.” The constant chatter being made by Cody was proving the silence of space to be false. Thomas was thankful for his ability to listen to over a dozen conversations at the same time. Right now it was all that was keeping him from making any mistakes while adjusting the tapping device. The calibrations necessary for the machine to successfully hop onto the signal were delicate. The relay station that was installed within the stationary asteroid near the border of Nepleslian and Yamatai space would be the jump off point. From here the connection with the ‘Sphinx‘ would commence. Hopefully, with enough care, their signal would be routed through a series of other relays toward it‘s destination. “Writin’ a genetic code is no different from writin’ software. Especially nowadays with all the fancy computers and shit that are used. All ya gotta do is type a few keys and ya got yerself a neko. The vats do all the work and shit. Even with all the new upgraded models they got the core code itself is still pretty much the same. So ya got this code right, and in that code ya set a parameter that lets ya do whatever ya want. It’s a tool programmers call a ‘backdoor’ so if anything needs ta get fixed ya just use the backdoor ta tweak everythin’.”
The device in question was finally set and had begun to utilize the relay station’s link. Thomas scanned the surrounding areas to make sure he was still secure. These unmanned stations had very touchy security to prevent tampering. Plus they had constant monitoring to keep out intruders. Usually anyways. Occasionally they had to take monitors offline for any number of reasons. This was one of those times although it wouldn’t be logged because the maintenance was not due for some time yet and all the service was being rerouted elsewhere. For all his chatter, Cody was good at what he did. “Aye’m movin’ out. Rendezvous at planned site.“ Thomas messaged. His energy signature was at a minimum but still enough to function while his internal shields protected anything susceptible to the harsh environment. It didn’t pay to stick around though. Pushing away from the station he used his anti-gravity systems to guide his inertial path through the asteroid field.
“Alright, good job. We are online and trackin’!” Cody replied as his system began to link to the device. “So what I’ve been buildin’ up to is that Uesu literally wrote the genetic code for them nekos. So whose to say he didn’ code himself a backdoor for him to use to control them. It could be anythin‘! A pheremone, a psionic signal, or maybe even a codeword. Either way, I think he’s got himself a safety measure to ensure them nekos all stay obedient to him. Its been a rumor fer a couple years now. It could explain why he was able ta jus’ fly outta Yamatai with all them ships and no one stoppin’ him. Remember the old Empress he used to be married to?”
“Aye, aye, ah herd this one before. Empress Ayame was engaged t’ wed ah Nepleslian in th’ Star Army. Next thing ‘e sees, ‘is ‘er being fooked by th’ bastard. Afteh that ‘e’s dead an’ guilty o’ murderin’ Ayame’s little girl.” Thomas replied with just a hint of exasperation. There was work to be done but seeing as Cody didn’t have anything to really focus on he just had to prattle on with his theories. They didn’t matter much to Thomas. If this worked then they would know a lot more than just theories. “Yeah, that’s the one. But the thing that never really sorted out for us net heads was why did she just one eighty like that in such a short time? She’s engaged ta one guy, meets Uesu for the first time, next thing ya know she’s in the sack with him. And that was after she’d been nominated ta be empress ya know. So how did it happen so fast?” Cody asked, not really looking for the answer since he already had one he was eager to share. “Its gotta be that neko mind control backdoor he’s got. I’m tellin’ ya that’s gotta be how he’s doin’ it. An‘ I‘ll betcha he did it to make sure she didn‘t go marryin‘ a Nepleslian because he didn' want him possibly becomin' emperor.” Cody finished with a slight chuckle.
“Tha’s one helluva soap opera ye goht there, Cody.” Thomas said as he guided himself towards several asteroids amid a space junk infested space lane. This had at one time been a major traffic area for space travel. Now the area was so packed with debris from the wars that ships no longer used it anymore. Except for them. Tucked away inside the asteroids was a small cruiser with no markings and darkened hull that matched the colors of the asteroid. The camoflauge was mostly visual but at the same time the ship had no need for life support systems so less room was taken up by such systems. Less energy signatures were being given off as well. It’s shape was like that of a blocky old bathtub that was smooth on it’s underside to the point that it tapered off. The top half was full of edges that gave no real discernable sign to where a bridge might be. A hatch opened up in the lower section as Thomas approached to give him access inside. The hallway had no lighting but it didn’t matter to Thomas who could still see everything as though it were bright as day. He went down the hall until he reached the navigational bridge where Shannon was sitting in a chair, wires connecting her to the computer system. “All green, Shannon. 'ave ye been listenin’ at ‘im goin’ on an’ on?” Thomas said while he set down on a shelf by the doorway. The navigational section had no human comforts either. The area had a small manual control section but for the most part the ship was controlled completely via direct linkup with the pilot.
“Aye, ah hahve. ‘e’s jost excited is all. Can ye bleme ‘im? ‘e ‘asn’t seen ‘is old friends in a long time. Besides, ‘e‘s olways been th‘ black sheep o‘ th‘ fam‘ly.” Shannon replied as she continued to work on several tasks at once. Thomas settled into his own seat while she worked. “Ye be ready t’ go, Cody. Jes’ waitin’ on Sphinx now.” The ship’s systems continued to monitor frequencies space fluctuations to ensure their signal would get maximum focus without interruption.
The wait was short for no sooner did the signal begin to transmit then another one was noticed. Cody on his end began to twitch. It was rare for him to twitch his real body especially when it was surrounded by so much machinery. The only reason he even kept his real body was for nostalgic purposes really. Someone had once tried to help him truly separate from it entirely. Not the limited version the rest of the Irregulars had developed but true seperation from everything to become the real ghost in the machine. And then if he could just slip the bonds of machinery to travel along the electrical impulses outside. Just like them.
In Cody's world though things were a little more active. The desert landscape was brimming with activity. An old fasioned steam engine was getting set up while men ran about filling the storage car behind it with coal. As they did so Cody walked up carrying a small lockbox over his shoulder while grinning wildly. "Alright boys, get a move on. Its time." he shouted as he stepped up. The men finished loading up coal and yelled in unison excitedly. Cody sauntered up into the engineer booth and set the box down. After setting things up the engine began to move. Slowly at first, the pressure still building up but then it started to move faster. The cheers of his men grew fainter as the train hurried down the tracks quicker. The landscape of desert and mountainous terrain spanned as far as the eye could see until it melted away. The train began to vanish as well until Cody was flying through a darkness that lead to a doorway.
It was a simple door with an old doorknob that hung suspended in the darkness on a simple doorframe that appeared to be made of wood. As Cody flew towards the door he reached into his pocket and pulled out what looked like a rusty old key. With a quick lunge he reached out with his hand and inserted the key into the keyhole. In reality his system was broadcasting the old signal of Avanet over the relay. This signal was sent via an unused frequency bandwidth that was no longer monitored because it was of no use. Better ones were being used now. Frequencies that were more capable of delivering information than this one was. And yet it had been used by beings that at one time were gods.
The gods once rode these lanes. The gods will ride these lanes AGAIN! Cody thought as the door opened up. A bright flash of light was seen and he flew through it. Without even having to check his parameters he knew where he was: PANTHEON. Here was where things became difficult. The transmission signal he was using had to be kept tight. It was like walking on a tightrope suspended over fire. Cody looked about him as he travelled and saw bright lights. Even this far out the power of PANTHEON could be felt. Within the data stream he held tightly to the box he carried. It was a reassurance that Sphinx was still there, regardless of how silent he was.
The ride on the stream was intense but Cody held on to it. His destination: Katsuko No Iori. It was there, in the distance, barely visible in the network feed. Communications were darting all over the place. It looked like streaks of light over a brightly lit cityscape. It was busy there. Be it regular discussions to high priority transmissions, there were even invisible ones that flitted by as Cody travelled on this stream. His sensors were kept low but he had to at least maintain this faint level of sensitivity to prevent from crashing into them. It wouldn't do to accidentally trip over one and create interference. One might be able to blame it on solar activity or even just system error but that led to system interrogations. System interrogations meant higher sensitivity and higher sensitivity on PANTHEON meant greater chances of being detected.
Cody came closer to the starbase as he followed the thin bandwidth. Just a little bit further and he would be there. Systems were operating at full capacity now. Something was going on apparently. Something urgent. No time to worry about that now though. Cody plunged on ahead towards the focus on his invasion: the Trans Universal Teleportation Device of Katsuko No Iori. He followed the beam of bandwidth into the data representation of the starbase. Once he 'touched' it the system responded and transformed. The landscape no longer represented the outside of the station but became the representation of the actual TTD. The data representation was that of an old city with many darkened buildings. It was as though a pitch black night held the city in eternal night. The only sign of light visible was a single pillar in the center. This pillar had long conduits which connected out to different points of the darkened city. Light could be seen because it was the only point which the TTD needed while it was shut down. At a moment's notice though, it would light up and could be used for it's intended purpose of moving the base if necessary.
None of that mattered to Cody at the moment though. Right now he needed what was inside one of those darkened warehouses. The warehouse was familiar to him seeing as he had come here previously. He was indeed well acquainted with it since he had visited this place before. There were no inquiries to his access of the warehouse due to the frequency he was using. It was the only thing allowing him to pass through the walls. In reality though, all he was doing was sending a signal over an unused frequency over a long distance transmission to Katsuko No Iori's TTD.
This warehouse was not only dark and unused but walled off. This was the result of the data having supposedly been deleted. However unlike regular data this area was a part of the original coding used to create the TTD. While it could be removed from the main drives it was too deeply imbedded to be deleted. At best it was quarantined like it was now. Cody stepped into the dark warehouse which was completely empty save for one tiny scrap of data. However this one string of data hid more than what it seemed. A few more hurried steps and he had arrived at his goal. On the floor lay the form of a short young girl with short cropped blue hair, pale skin, and a tattered black dress. "Just a minute, darlin', I'll have ya up again soon." he said before crouching down and setting the lockbox down.
Cody pushed a button and the box opened up. When he reached into it his hands went further then the visible dimensions of the box. "Alright Sphinx, lets charge this baby up. Time to do this." he said while pulling out what looked like the paddles to a defibrilator device. Putting them down next to the girl's body he then began to remove his long coat. The coat faded away leaving him completely unshielded from any attacks. "Beginning data transmission. Code regeneration program uploading. Power levels charged. GO!" he said while picking up the paddles. He then set the paddles on the girl's chest. "CLEAR!"
The database back on Cody's super mainframe fired up and began to transmit the program that was stored away. The sheer size of it though was difficult to process by itself which is where Sphinx came in. The necessary processing power to push the levels of data required was beyond what Cody possessed. He needed the level of power necessary to restore a god. The code necessary to restore a god was enormous. Within this world the paddles began to hum and glow before electricity leapt into the girl's body. With a slight jump the body appeared to react. In the real world however things were not nearly so dramatic. The TTD system began to read a slight rise in power fluctuation. Nothing spectacular but for a system that is kept on standby all the time it was definately odd. A technician took note and wondered whether she should investigate.
"What is it Mira?" asked one orange suited neko. "Hmm... I don't know Taki. It looks like the TTD is drawing more power than usual. Its on standby so its not like its shut down but I never see it jump this much." Mira said. "Oh yeah? What does it usually read?" Taki replied. She then began to type a few keys on a data panel. "It says here that the power level remains at a constant point oh five percent. But right now its at point oh seven. That isn't very much more so I really doubt its anything."
Mira thought about it for a moment. "Yeah... but the TTD is pretty delicate. Why don't I run a quick diagnostic, eh?" she then said before pushing a few more buttons. Barely minutes had gone by in this conversation but for the beings within the machine it was longer. Cody held the paddles to the girl's body and continued to pour electricity through them into her. After a few moments Cody released her and stepped back. "Alright that's enough!" he said before dropping the paddles and shutting it down. The girl's body cotinued to glow blue as it slowly rose up and hovered before him. The tattered dress began to restore itself until it expanded past her legs and spilled out onto the floor. The fabric appeared to glow and sparks crackled around it. Her skin remained pale but there was more vibrancy to it and her lips became colored as though painted with black lipstick. When she opened her eyes they were the same color as her hair.
Cody grinned as she landed, the dress billowing about her gently. She looked at him uncertainly. "Papa, your data stream is different." she said in a voice that sounded like millions of voices at once. "Just a costume, darlin'. It ain't easy bein' Avanet nowadays." he said. "I know. The moment I regained conciousness I updated my data files. Avanet is no more. What do we do now?" she asked.
"Well, it jus' so happens we gotta mission. Feel like giving your papa a hand? We'll even go and wake up all yer sisters too while we're at it." Cody said. The girl smiled and nodded. "Yes I would like that very much. But before we go may I see you again like before, Papa?" Cody chuckled a bit and took off his hat. As he did so his body began to glow blue. The cowboy guise melted away until his body became a featureless blue mass that reshaped itself. The mass solidified into a blue skinned man wearing a long white robe. His hair was also light blue like his skin and his eyes were a dark blue. He was now much taller than the slight girl and he put a hand atop her head. The code exchange was pleasant and reassuring even if his was inferior to hers. "Always the little charmer Cherize." he said in a voice that was now just as scattered as hers.
It was then that Cherize looked up suddenly. "Power spike has been noticed. Inquiry to system has been made. System will perform a sweep of all regions. This region has been noticed and will be reported." she said. "Damn, alright in that case we need to move." Cody said replacing the cowboy hat to his head. His form immediately reverted to it's previous one. "Ya need ta hide yer data signal. Let's go!" he said. Cherize nodded and immediately transformed, taking the appearance of a nekovalkyrja wearing a military uniform. She grew blue furred ears that poked out from beneath her short hair. "I am ready, Papa. To the main control system." she said now with a softer less ominous voice.
Cody and Cherize flew out of the warehouse through the wall and towards the large glowing buliding. Already they could see the orange suited nekos that represented the technician's inquiry walking towards the building. Cherize however was much faster. With Cody in tow she pulled him even faster, his system barely able to keep up since it was operating from a distance while she was still a part of the TTD. Her superior coding would have allowed her to teleport instantly but she knew that might have damaged Cody's sensors. They arrived with plenty of time.
Cherize flew into the wall and created an opening for Cody to pass through. No sooner had they arrived then they were in the system's representative of the control center. It looked like the tactical station of a starship. There were very few nekos walking about since the system had been on standby. None of them even took notice of them until Cherize walked up to the control deck where. As soon as she touched it the console glowed blue momentarily. A transferral of data was made and the whole system was rewritten according to Cherize. The nekos that walked suddenly began running around and checking systems. More nekos appeared and also ran about bringing maps and files with them. Another neko came running up to Cherize and bowed. Cherize then smiled at her. "We are conducting a low level system diagnostic and are experiencing a small data surge due to a backlog of volume. The point oh two extra percent of power is being used because of the data surge. This diagnostic has been done countless times before and is verified by this log. This is merely the first time it has taken this much power." Cherize explained and created a folder that detailed the faux diagnostic log. The neko took the folder and ran out to meet the technician's inquiry.
"So what does the TTD say?" Taki asked. "Its just a data surge. Says here there's been diagnostics since it was put on standby and we just never noticed before because it never spiked like this before." Mira replied. Taki just shrugged. "Data surge eh? I guess its to be expected. It's probably cleaning it's data banks too. That or it's getting senile. This thing is waaaaaay older than both of us you know." she said with a laugh. Mira shook her head. "I wish I was older. I can't help but feel jealous that these computers have existed longer than me sometimes."
"System operators have completed their inquiry and are satisfied. No further information is being requested at this time." Cherize said. "Papa, I am ready to leave. I have completely disconnected myself from the Transuniversal Teleportation Device. My core code is no longer in danger should this system be deactivated." she reported. "Good job, darlin. Alright time ta move on. Cover yer tracks and move out. We'll rendezvous at PANTHEON's southern access ta find yer sisters." Cody replied. "You will not come with me now Papa?" Cherize asked almost sadly. Cody had to shake his head. "Afraid not. I'm workin' on a low signal here from far away. When I catch up to ya I'll be workin' from a lot better. In the meantime ya just lay low. PANTHEON's no pushover even for us. We'd be overwhelmed if we just go about bein' obvious." Cherize nodded. "I understand Papa. I have already determined PANTHEON's capability. I will be careful." she said with a smile.
Cody grinned and waved goodbye before fading away. "Connection severed. Signal disconnect. We're clean and away. Mission accomplished!" Cody reported to the others. Thomas nodded and pushed a button. The signal router seperated and fell apart, neatly dismantling itself before it was carried away by the slight impulse of space. "Aye, then let's be on." Thomas said. With that the small ship began to move, camoflauge shifting as it did, until it disappeared from sight into space.