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RP: YSS Kaiyō Mission 27: The Crimson Levy

YSS Asamoya

Over the next several minutes, all of the Asamoya's crew of cadets filtered in through the door and onto the bridge. Each gave a report pertaining to battle stations across the vessel in turn when they arrived, just as Zelphon had, and a few among them took up Aiko's invitation to speak out on what they thought should be done with the ship after one of their own had been captured. Some of the Academy midshipmen agreed with Aratani and William while others nodded along to what Yaeko said. Several of them eagerly volunteered to suit up in power armors now, right in that moment, and get their friend back without question.

And indeed Yaeko was technically correct. Every one of them, as seniors ready to graduate from SAAMMS, had already participated in a four week assignment to an active duty Star Army ship or planetary installation — a "summer cruise" so to speak — and thus had long been indoctrinated with a preparedness to fight or even die in service to the Empire. That wasn't even to mention those cadets among them who'd already served as enlisted soldiers prior to enrollment at the Academy. As a group, the students in Aiko's seminar might have been a little green compared to crews out in the fleet. But they were nonetheless bonafied members of the Star Army.

"We must pick up the SAINT teams and leave now," an Elysian cadet who'd been in engineering during the fight said, taking Yaeko's opinion a step further. Her voice was hurried with a touch of self-concerned, but the Patrician girl seemed to be holding it together well enough. "A field trip to Luna Bianca shouldn't have included us playing ferryman to intelligence operatives, much less engaging in a full-on battle against Kuvexians. What we ought to do is call up people who can handle the rest."

Aiko turned her attention toward the Elysian girl. The rest of her classmates fell dead silent, dropping any murmured anticipation of follow-on commentary. They were perhaps more galled at the suggestion than their Ketsurui teacher was. Ariadne Tarchaneiotissa was from a good military family on Elysia Novus whose youth in a floating manor had surely been filled with tales of her ancestors' heroism and daring both against Yamatai and other old foes her forebears made war with. She was a good student as far as Aiko knew, too, always engaged and thoughtful with her questions in class.

"You did not understand my prompt, Tarchaneiotissa-kohosei," Aiko said to her. Not a hint of anger tinged the princess' voice, which maintained a graceful intent while Aiko explained Ariadne's misinterpretation of what had been asked of them. "When the Asamoya is able to act — when I am confident we are in the clear and can reactivate major shup systems — we will find Sarna-kohosei. A tactical assessment would have been welcome but the cowardice was not. I asked for options, not how best to run."

Of course, Yaeko and a few others generally agreed that they should write Andres off as a casualty. Those cadets still kept the mission in mind, though. None of them had gone so far as to suggest the Asamoya scurry back home to Yamatai so that some fool on the other end of a cartoonish red handset could figure out their present situation.

"'Giving up is not a Star Army value,'" Aiko continued, quoting the phrase all of them must have heard too many times to count. She looked from Ariadne to the other midshipmen while she spoke. "These words are not repeated to diminish their weight, nor are they uttered as a simple boast by our Empire's diplomats. They are said so that every soldier and citizen remembers them when all else appears lost. Those of our countrymen living here on Hanako's World have doubtlessly recalled them for years. Sarna-kohosei does now, too."

The princess thought back to when she and William had been captured for a moment, and to other tough times she'd faced in battle against the Kuvexians and Mishhuvurthyar. It wasn't that Aiko had ever expected someone else to come save the day because they wouldn't give up on her, but more so that there would be something familiar and enduring to return to once crisis had ultimately been averted — and that could only happen if she persisted herself.

"The input from each of you has been valuable," Aiko said, fixing her gaze back upon the Elysian girl Ariadne. "As captain, our ship's path going forward is more clear for me now. And that it is more clear for you as the crew as well. Shall I trust that none among you will give up on our mission or your classmate?"

Ariadne Tarchaneiotissa nodded, content (for now) to probably never say another word in her life. The white-and-blonde winged Patrician suddenly hoped this moment wouldn't put a stain on her Kleos, and inwardly resolved to fight as hard today as her noble progenitors had in decades and centuries past.

"Good," Aiko acknowledged to Ariadne, staring directly into the midshipman's ice blue eyes. "Everyone should get some semblance of rest while we wait for the fiends who hunt us to capitulate in their search. If there is anything else you may come to me with it, but you are otherwise dismissed to quarters for now."
YSS Asamoya

"Even those of us on bridge duty?" Koizumi Aratani asked about getting some rest as she was prepared to stay at her post. But some part of her was happy to see that the cadet on sensors duty had been relieved and she got up herself. The white-haired Neko had been infantry born and her body still yearned for the physical exertion that came with battle. Her hands and legs felt jittery and ungrounded after fighting Kuvexians from behind a volumetric screen. She bowed deeply to the samurai near Aiko who had left the bridge when intruders had come. The movement was started with a curt nod, making her white bangs bounce above her tired but excited amethyst eyes. This was not Koizumi's first time around a samurai and history told her they were great outlets for tension.

"Sensei-sama, would you care to join me for a spar in the recreation room?" Aratani asked.

For her part, Rei hesitated a moment too long. She had only just been sparring with William and Mao when the princess had changed their course and they had hurried to the bridge. That coupled with the battle in which she had restrained herself in order to give learning opportunities (and the resulting mental bruising of losing Andres to a sneering Kuvexian) meant the samurai was less than willing to jump at Aratani's offer. Let alone how important it was that she stay with Aiko as her yojimbo now more than ever.

"Īdesu ne," Rei said, indicating it sounded good but she had to decline.

"Maybe a bath, then. Aratani said to herself while still looking into Rei's pale white eyes. "Next to working out, a good soak is the second best thing to easing stress." She bowed again before leaving the bridge. In the hallways she was already pulling off her gloves and jacket, readying herself for the warm relief of the Himiko-class bath on the deck above her.
YSS Asamoya

William shot a glance at Yaeko but remained silent. 'Yes, I did hear that.' His eyes said before returning his glance to the rest of the cadets as Aiko spoke. He listened as the princess spoke with her students. He knew something needed to be done, but it wasn't his place to decide. He was not a Star Army soldier, even if he had close ties to those of the Kaiyo and those of the Legion. He was a Nepleslian Marine Captain without his company or resources, which tied his hands. He had to make do with what he had.

After everyone was dismissed, he waited until most cadets had filed out of the room before turning to Aiko. "If you need me to take the first watch, I can; I will be up for a while anyway." He paused before asking. "I'm also going to need the names of the cadets who performed the best at their combat training. If we are going to get your student back, I will need to make sure they are ready."

Until they made a decision, he couldn't formulate a proper plan, but he could start laying the groundwork for one. Which meant he needed to take stock.
YSS Asamoya

"You can take Koizumi-kohosei and Belmont-kohosei," Aiko said, plopping down unceremoniously into the captain's chair with her arms lifted and ready to assume their rightful positions on its armrests even before she was fully seated. That brief moment of unpracticed, relaxed motion ended with her looking perfectly proper and upright by the time she actually sat — likely no less comfortable for her than melting slouched into the chair like her descent suggested would have been. "Both are prior service soldiers and have seen combat. Unfortunate they were part of the bridge shift when we were boarded. Perhaps we would not have this issue with having lost Sarna-kohosei had they been with you, though the ship itself may not have fared so well with them absent at the controls. Other than those two, the others do not stand out beyond those cadets who already fought in power armor today."

The princess had been contemplating the Asamoya's all-too-recent excitement until then, sort of staring off at the blackness now displayed on the ship's powered down main viewscreen. She peered over to William after a short time, having decided to push off further analysis of the situation until later. Aiko's crew of cadets were still in the midst of that fight that had begun when they heard the first Kuvexian sonar ping, so it did her no good to think too long before it was over.

"You can stay if you would like," Aiko continued, answering his first question. "Watch here will not last very long. As soon as Boss believes it safe we will get underway again. But your company is welcome if nothing else demands your attention."

She paused for a moment, clearly considering an idea that would ultimately be discarded by the time she spoke again.

"Rei and Mao cannot accompany you," she added, not sounding worried but clearly suggesting some amount of concern. "As I will be here commanding the Asamoya, they cannot leave my side. It would be inappropriate even given the circumstances. Sarna-kohosei is a military problem, not a matter of Ketsurui Clan security. Regardless, I am confident in our chances. Once we find his Mindy's signal, we will use the Asamoya's transfer chamber to put you and the squad right on top of our lost midshipman's location and bring you all back before the Kuvexians can do anything about it."
YSS Asamoya

Aratani was able to just catch Aiko's straight-backed plop into her captain's chair before leaving the Asamoya's bridge. Once out in the hall, she lifted her cream-colored face to the ceiling and blew out a deep sigh. It felt like something pulled from her deepest recesses and for a moment she worried she was adding too much carbon dioxide for the low-powered life support to take care of, but let the worry wash past her as she walked to the upper deck.

"Hey, 'Tani," Yaeko said as she walked down the hall towards her. Yaeko had been haughty and cut throat on the bridge, but was always a bit softer when one-on-one with Aratani. "Sucks the princess ended up not hearing me out, but I'll take her word that sticking around for Andres is worth it. That was probably nothing for you."

"If you're talking about all that," Aratani said, leaning against the wall outside of the baths. "It was a lot different than wearing a cornflower panel. It's a whole different bunch of stressors than I've ever dealt with in the field. Maybe wouldn't be if I had been in the power armor bay shooting, but being bridge crew—"

Yaeko characteristically cut her off, "Good stress though, right?"

"Good stress," Aratani agreed and bumped her fist against Yaeko's after the well-bred cadet had lifted her own in a show of camaraderie. There was no need for a goodbye between them and Yaeko started down the stairs as Aratani rolled her shoulder against the wall and opened the door to the public bath.

She stripped out of the stiff type 35 she had put on to look professional during the field trip and promised herself she would get into her much more preferred 30c now that she knew the full nature of what she would need to be doing while in uniform. There were no amenities like there had been in the Asamoya's heyday. Had she known that there would have been soap bars and scrubbing towels before being mothballed, Aratani may have felt the need for that which was now absent. But as her mind churned over the details of the past hour or so, she thought little of what the spartan shelves lacked. Her heart did ache for the feeling that would soon come after she had scrubbed off the sweat and grime of this new form of battle she had been a part of. With a small squeak, she slid the door open to go into the larger bathing area and cocked her head, making her silvery hair slide over her shoulders like liquid mercury.

The cadet slipped into the hotter of the two tubs (though it was still cooler than its normal scalding temperature as the ship systems for heating the water had been turned off within the hour) and stared wondrously at the mural before her of the black sands and its glassy waters beneath a fiery sunset. She crossed her arms over the lip of the tub and set her chin on her pale arms. Her lips turned down and were pushed by her arms to be in a sort of grim frown, but her amethyst eyes above were bright and searching as she looked at the painting. Her mind wrapped around the multi-hued clouds and abstract patterns the painted waves took on beneath the warmth of the star of Yamatai.

As she looked on, she sighed —a more contended sigh than the one she had breathed just outside of the bridge— and thought how different this field trip turned rescue mission had been from the ones before when she'd had a gun and orders from above. She had been a part of the decision-making in a way that reminded her of her initial dreams to design mecha for the Star Army. Starting on this field trip, Aratani had been worried she was straying too far from that dream. That she was doing something different than what she was meant for.

"What did she say?" Aratani mused, alone and thoughtful. '"As captain, our ship's path going forward is more clear for me now.'" Everything in what Ketsurui Aiko had asked of them and done had formed a piece of something larger. As if it were something she had been designing. Even if Aratani and Yaeko hadn't known the full picture, Aiko had treated their input like an engineer talking to their colleagues while devising a new frame. Aiko had even treated losing Andy not like a design flaw but as a breakthrough.

"It's different." Aratani muttered to herself, "Different but not so bad at all." She let her arms fall from their prop on the tub and sunk lower into her bath. From above, her splayed white hair obfuscated her body save for the bottom of her legs as she stayed underwater.
YSS Asamoya

William sighed and leaned against the wall behind Aiko's chair, crossing his arms. "I need a cigar." He complained to no one in particular. "And bourbon, bourbon would be nice too." He added, looking back to Aiko.

When the princess explained that Rei and Mao wouldn't be able to accompany him, the ID-SOL shrugged. "I had a feeling that was going to be the case, but I'll make it work." He said with a sigh. "Rei is going to fuss that I don't spend enough time with her, just so you know. You hog her all the time." He teased, a half smirk plastered across his face.
YSS Asamoya

Aiko's nose wrinkled at its bridge when William mentioned cigars, though the rest of her face remained unchanged and no less beautiful for it. She could almost feel the thick, acrid smoke fill up her sinuses when she thought back to all those times on campaign or during a Legion 777 training exercise that she'd walked through the Nepleslian Marine camp and been immersed in such foul habits. But while the memory of tobacco smoke was as distasteful to her as it was for animation, it did remind her that she'd faced worse situations in the course of actual wars alongside soldiers from all across the sector.

"I will make sure you are delivered a box of the finest smokies when we are finished," the princess promised, unknowingly blending the words "smokes" and "stogies" because she didn't know much about cigar culture at all. Her nose was still crinkled while she talked, but the condition faded with each word as the imagined stench waned in her mind. "Just do not enjoy them aboard this ship. It has already taken more damage than I planned on returning it with."

When William brought up the notion of consuming Rei's time, Aiko chuckled. Her reaction was almost a sneer, but was certainly not quite so derisive as that.

"Your mother is a Ketsurui Samurai and I am her only duty," Aiko said wryly. Indeed, she appreciated William's relationship with his adopted parent, but nonetheless placed a heavier weight upon her Nekovalkyrja yojimbo's duty and oaths to both her and the imperial clan. "Still, I will arrange more training time between you two, though. For her, of course. And so you do not forget how to use your sword like a real Yamataian warrior."
YSS Asamoya

William laughed. "I think if I tried to smoke them on the ship, Boss might space me. Or Rei would beat me. Both would result in severe bodily harm." He replied, glossing over Aiko calling them 'Smokies.'

When the discussion turned to Rei, he pointed a meaty finger at Aiko. "So you admit you are occupying all her time! And not even a shred of remorse. I can't believe you. Also I can use my sword just fine. I'm pretty sure I can still beat you one on one even with your Nekovalkyrja voodoo powers." The ID-SOL teased, leaning back against the wall.
YSS Asamoya

"Perhaps you should skip the next bourbon, Wil," Aiko mocked back, responding to his tease in kind. He clearly needed some levity at the moment and, though the princess hadn't felt in the mood for banter now, she took the opportunity to crack a little grin. "It seems to be affecting your memory because my Nekovalkyrja voodoo brain does not record any such loss against you."

She looked down to the console arrayed in a half circle that ringed the front of her captain's chair and reached down to it, inputting a few commands and dragging the user interface around the display to reorient what information was where. The few passive sensor readouts that required no power now sat front-and-center in her field of vision, as well as a stopwatch that had been keeping track of the time since the Asamoya went silent.

"But I am sure there will be plenty of opportunity for you to try and make your boast more real after we retrieve our lost cadet," Aiko said, peering over at William with a bigger smile. "So make your preparations to sortie. Everything will be fine here on the bridge. We must hope Sarna-kohosei can hold out until we find him."


Three hours passed until Aiko was confident that the surviving Kuvexian submarine had moved off, with two of those spent listening to the ineffective ping of the enemy's sonar attempting in vain to find the Asamoya. Once she told Boss to fire up the ship's full systems again, the crew of midshipmen sprang into action and took to their stations. Some were assigned new postings while others, particularly those specializing in the study of particular systems like engineering or sciences, went back to tending the parts of the Asamoya they knew how best to handle.

Aratani and Zelphon were given a directive, sent to them via text message, to suit up into Mindy 4s and wait in the power armor bay for instruction. A decision had been made to keep Andres' rescue team small. Only the two prior service combat veteran cadets would join William, as to minimize the possibility of further losses from the corps of Academy midshipmen who'd come along for Aiko's field trip.

Quickly, the ship's MEGAMI made contact with Andres' AIES and locked onto its signal. It seemed to be underwater in an area of shallows a few dozen kilometers from the Asamoya's current position, and wouldn't take long for the ship to reach. Soon enough, the bridge crew was able to see more on sensors.

Their kidnapped comrade was being held aboard an undersea structure of some kind. An ocean base that likely existed to tend the type of Kuvexian submersibles that'd attacked them earlier. Once the Asamoya had gathered enough data Aiko ordered her ship to back off and move even more distant than where they had been adrift. There was no need to remain close and risk getting the old Himiko-class Light Escort found out again.

"Koizumi, Belmont," Aiko said, her voice coming through into the two cadets' helmets. William could hear her, too, but didn't need to be told as much as they did. "Meet with Captain Sanders and report to the Transfer Chamber immediately.

"We have as good readouts of the installation holding Sarna-kohosei as we will be able to get," Ketsurui-chusa explained. "You will be teleported into a room as close to his location as possible. Follow Sanders' lead, pinpoint your classmate, and bring him back. The teleportation packs on your Mindy armors are the key to your team's return. One of you will transit back with Sarna — so bring along a sling canister with an AMES for him — and the other will provide Captain Sanders with assistance. Keep this operation quick and your focus narrow. And kill any Kuvexian who stands in your way."
YSS Asamoya
Transfer Chamber

Zelphon made her way into the transfer chamber room. She had looked into this when boarding and was very excited to be making use of this technology. Being able to jump into hostile area with a fully charged way out was just amazing. Zelphon decided to do a big stretch. Her wings reached out wide, fully covered in armor. Her graceful motion clashed with the deathly armor she was contained within. As the wings retracted, her feathers caused the metal plates to flutter and shine in the light of the room.

"Reporting as ordered." She called out to those near. She reached to her side and pulled her weapon. She gave it a once over and checked the charge. The zapping sound filled the room as she did so. Just as quickly as she had pulled the weapon it was once more holstered.
YSS Asamoya

"Yeah, yeah. I'm holding you to that rematch." The Nepleslian captain returned his friend's smile with a smirk of his own. With that, he turned and left the bridge, going to the power armor bay to collect the last of his weapons and gear.

YSS Asamoya
Transfer Chamber

Inside the Transfer Chamber, William checked over his kit one last time. The loadout was the same as before, except that his helmet and rebreather were down, which obscured his face. He checked the chambers on both hand cannons, then ensured his melee weapons were strapped and ready for transport. It was at that moment the first of the two assigned to his fireteam arrived. "Good. I've looked into your service record as well as your counterpart. I'm going to be counting on both of you to get this done." He said, turning to the Caelisolan. "Once Koizumi gets here, we'll deploy. Are you ready?"
Transfer Chamber

Inside of her, Aratani had an odd mixture made up of a dichotomy of feelings. On one hand, she was excited to use the transfer chamber like she had spoken out about the utility of during the briefing. To her, it seemed like weeks ago that Saiga-taisa had been aboard the ship and Aratani had been excitedly raising her hand in the wardroom as if she were in class. The other half of her emotions were of the aloof pre-battle type that quieted the excited mecha mechanic inside of her that wanted nothing more to test the limits of this ship's abilities to jettison armors.

"Reporting Captain Sanders," Aratani chirped within a split second of seeing the other two thirds of the away party present in the chamber. She jogged over to stand behind the Nepleslian in the center of the Asamoya's port bay.

A shiver ran down her spine as she looked at the release mechanisms at the back of the Golem's neck and then knees. It felt strange and almost dangerous to be next to such foreign equipment outside of her own personal time. She reveled in the feeling, letting the buzz warm up her nerves and push the stoic sense of calm into a controlled motivation. She thought of the stories she had read, the way she had hungrily begun searching into the Nepleslian News Network to learn more about how a Nepleslian Cyclops had worked alongside the Ketsurui Kirie armor. Now with a sense of foreboding, she thought of how she wouldn't have to read about how the Golem worked alongside Mindy—she would be living the history shortly.

"Ready to take your lead!" Aratani said with a fervor warming her voice over comms.
YSS Asamoya
Transfer Chamber

Once all three of Aiko's enterprising commandos had reported to the Asamoya's experimental teleportation room, all there was left to do was send them on their way. The chamber itself was a 20 foot nonagon around them and looked bare to William, Aratani, and Zelphon from where they stood in the center. Its arcane machinery was hidden by the same white Star Army bulkhead paneling that decorated all of the ship's halls, and each wall slanted inward at 60 degrees from the middle to stretch out and meet a flat white ceiling and black floor that matched the rest of the ship's interior. Each of the nine sloped walls — save for the aft one that split apart and served as the entryway — had a glossy black band that was eight inches thick that ran from top-to-bottom.

"Away team, launch!" Aiko's voice sounded in each of their helmets. They'd been counted down from 10 by Tamahagane Hisako, who'd rotated onto the sensors station for this part of the mission. And with that command, the three soldiers watched the black stripes that adorned the transfer chamber's walls slowly begin glowing with teal light that intensified until glittering swirls of ethereal energy permeated the room. When the turquoise light grew so bright that it spilled out and became indiscernible from the white walls, enveloping every detail between Aratani, William, and Zelphon, they were gone in an instant.

Kuvexian Undersea Base

From within the protection of the Yamataian cadets' Mindy 4s and William's Golem armor, the all-encompassing light disappeared in a calm and uneventful instant. Where once they had been standing in their ship's transfer chamber, they were now within the enemy's lair. But the teleportation effect was no less violent than it normally was, having blasted the air pressure their bodies had displaced explosively outward from where they now stood.

The Asamoya's rescue team found themselves in the middle of a rather large atrium of sorts; a central five-way intersection that gave access to much of the facility. For a Kuvexian installation, it was rather tame. Its bulkheads were colored with a gross ochre yellow (likely an anti-corrosive paint that was the closest to gold the Kuvexians could muster for such a place) and were mostly bare other than chrome-plated piping that was hung up on fasteners every so often. Some of the walls contained screens or monitors with gemmed control panels that seemed scattered haphazardly wherever they could fit.

A row of big windows lay to their left, and the Asamoya's away team could see the closest one had a massive crack forming across it. Within a few seconds, however, the undersea station's hull integrity monitors detected the defect and activated a rolling brass shutter that slammed down to seal it before all the ocean's water came rushing in. Beyond that, no alarm had yet sounded, but a Kuvexian soldier lay near one of the corridors leading away from the atrium — like the cracked window, that unfortunate mercenary had taken the brunt of the Yamataian away team's eruptive entrance. He (or she) didn't seem dead yet, and began to stir from the shock.

Based on the information the Asamoya's sensors had gleaned, Andres should be a few dozen meters to the south. There was a hallway that ought to lead directly to him, and its blast shutters opened mere moments after they'd arrived. Four power armored silhouettes could be clearly seen filling the backlit path, but they didn't seem to have noticed William nor his two cadets just yet, and more movement blurred behind them.

There were four other corridors. The Yamataian rescue squad could go through the gaggle of Kuvexians or around them.
Kuvexian Undersea Base

The magnetic need to follow the sensor blip like a compass arrow to true north was hard to ignore, but with the arrival of the Kuvexians, Aratani pushed down the urge. With her own hopes of a seamless smash and grab dashed, she weighed the options and rerouted her internal compass.

It would be a longer road, but they had already lost one fight to these gilded raiders once already today. No reason to start another.

As her mind was made, she fell back and out of sight. Her pale purple armor stuck out like a sore thumb against the muddy yellows of the sea base's internals. But at least now she was in one of the empty corridors and not red-handed in the middle of the atrium next to the busted window that their entrance had caused. She looked back at the rigid structure of the Mindy encasing Elysian wings and then the Golem that had captured so much of her attention moments earlier within the Himiko-class bay. The leak of enemies from the bulkhead where Andres was would only pool into the atrium and Koizumi-kohosei was not keen to see the duo start the fight she'd have to help finish. Not before they had secured her friend.

"Find cover," Aratani whispered into comms for Zelphon's benefit. Despite having seen action herself, Aratani knew the ID-SOL had buckets more experience than herself and didn't need to be told such things. What's more, she understood it was William Sanders' command and didn't want to speak for him and insist they avoid a firefight and sneak around the enemy. But she knew how to make the idea known nonverbally. Now waiting in the corridor nearest the one where the Kuvexian power armors had seeped out of, her own armor's position made her idea of the best option to take clear.
Kuvexian Undersea Base

The light enveloped them and next thing William knew he was inside the enemy vessel. There were already multiple Kuvexians converging on there location. As much as he wanted to kill every last one of them, they still had a job to do.

He turned and raced after Aratani. With a telepathic message from his mindware he ordered. "Aratani has the right idea. Let's move. Your fellow cadet has waited long enough. Let's not make him wait any longer."

The ID-SOL moved further up the corridor checking for any more Kuvexians. Once he knew they were clear, he waved the cadets forward.
Kuvexian Undersea Base

Zelphon was amazed at the sight of this place. She had read about the lengths the Kuvvies would go to deck a place out. While not as over the top it was for sure nice enough that one would find it comfortable. She checked her scanners before getting the message from Aratani. One of her eye brows lifted at the message to find cover. She thought that Aratani had to be joking since Zelphon sported a full wingspan for a Elysian. What was she going to do, stand there like a statue and hope they do not see her. Either way she got the hint that this was not the time to fight. Instead they would stealth around and find a path less traveled by enemies.

"I shall scout ahead down the left path away from the enemy." She called out over comms to the team. She figured from this central area that there would be an outer ring the paths might connect too. Zelphon did her best to stick to cover and move forward with the team.
Kuvexian Undersea Base

The Star Army team's quick thinking at Aratani's prompting allowed them to remain undetected by the Kuvexians. At least for the time being. Their explosive transport entrance had certainly alerted this facility's denizens that something was amiss. Any explosion inside of a pressurized underwater capsule was cause for great concern, and the squad of enemy mercenaries they'd spotted trudged down the corridor toward the atrium just on the other side of a bulkhead that separated Zelphon, Aratani, and William's path in the opposite direction.

Soon enough, Zelphon at point came face-to-face with another door like the one they'd seen Kuvexian baddies silhouetted against a few moments prior. In the big chamber behind them, now mostly obscured by their new hallway route, some heavy footfalls and frantic jabbering could be heard as their pursuers investigated the damage wrought on the walls, windows, and greebles from when the Star Army soldiers teleported in.

The doorway did not slide open automatically for them as William and Aratani jogged silently up beside Zelphon. They had no form of Kuvexian identification signal on their power armors, nor did there seem to be any sort of motion detector that would let them in without question. The door itself was brushed brass with a hardened bevel of chrome splitting down its center where the two parts met. One bejeweled access panel was recessed into the wall adjacent to the door's right side, a plain teal screen blinking occasionally with a waterfall-like pattern of blue-white stars — perhaps a screensaver of sorts for whatever displayed on its active screen.

Each Mindy's AIES proximity sensors would prompt Aratani and Zelphon to the fact that the Kuvexians behind them could now be detected down the narrow passage through which they'd just escaped. And if any of them looked back, they could clearly see the party of Kuvexian mooks milling about and searching the atrium as their far-off bodies passed in front of the corridor's aperture.

If they remained here, it wouldn't be long before the Kuvexians spotted them.
Kuvexian Undersea Base

As the fireteam reached the door, William scrambled to find a way to get the door open. He could always pry it open, but the Captain didn't want to give away their position by brute forcing his way through. It was then he noticed the bejeweled access panel. Rolling his eyes, he ripped off his helmet and plugged a cord into a port behind his left ear. "Cover me." He ordered telepathically as he jammed the cord into the access panel.

The ID-SOL's organic eye closed, and his cybernetic eye began to glow gold. In the heads-up display, a command prompt floated. With mere thought, lines of code began to scrawl across his vision. In his mind, time slowed to a crawl, thoughts processing at a heightened pace now that his Mindware was working over time. William had a few tricks up his sleeves. Programs he picked up from the Berserker's techies. One by one, he deployed the programs to bust through the station's security. However, he took care not to trip any alarms as he did. An old drill instructor once said, 'Slow is smooth, and smooth is fast.' He just hoped the old adage would hold true.
Kuvexian Undersea Base

Unlike William's slowed thought processes while he reprogrammed the undersea base's systems, Aratani felt the opposite. Every second was a moment they could be found out and there were all too many of them passing to feel comfortable as she waited to either be found out or funneled through this door. She couldn't help being intrigued by the cybernetic implant that allowed the ID-SOL access to the technology, but she was more interested in getting out alive than focusing all of her attention on the golden bearded man.

"Got your back," Aratani said. And, so, she had propped her rifle on her forearm and stood with her back to him, defending the Golem armor and the Nepleslian inside with those few short words and her steadfast determination.
Kuvexian Undersea Base
Intranet Space

Almost immediately upon connecting his mindware to the Kuvexian computer, William's mind was flooded with an intense barrage of information that made even his mammoth ID-SOL physique sway and twitch as he stood beside the access panel. He experienced the brunt of this Kuvexian facility's information load all at once, totally unable to decipher it, and then stabilized even before a single discernible moment had passed. In those microseconds his mindware battled against Kuvexian defense algorithms intended to stop him in his tracks, and persevered past the initial block to allow him access beyond that initial firewall.

He traversed the Kuvexian computer systems' silicon pathways in his mind, slaying barrier programs and code gates with his cyberspace likeness as he went. Each split second in the real world was condensed at least tenfold for William's mind as he made war with the software defenders installed on this undersea base's server. Each time William's computer avatar confronted its next threat, his mindware interpreted whichever action he took — be it derezzing an enemy program or tricking his foes into believing he was an authorized Kuvexian user with proper credentials — into a mighty slice of his neon green nodachi or a fat bullet shot from his avatar's pistol within his brain's perception. The arduous digital battle he fought eventually reached an end with defeated subroutines laid out in ruin behind him.

Eventually, William reached the end of his run and only the door's main control interface stood before his triumphant digital likeness.




Kuvexian Undersea Base
Real Time

Only a second or two had passed for Aratani and Zelphon by the time William defeated the Kuvexian server's defenders in cyberspace. But that had been long enough for one of the half dozen-or-so (at least) Kuvexians investigating the atrium to turn their attention down the hall. The two SAAMMS cadets saw one of the enemy crewmen without power armor stop and look directly at them down their hallway from approximately 80 feet away. The visual sensors on their Mindy armors could zoom in and see the Kuvexian woman stand there in her garish uniform cock her head at them. They could even watch while the troglodytic alien squinted her eyes as if in disbelief at seeing three Kikyo Sector power armors far-off before her, for she hadn't the same magnification that Zelphon and Aratani's Mindys did.

The Star Army rescue team were out in the open at the terminus of a hallway, with their path forward currently closed off pending William's action. It was only a matter of moments before they'd be recognized as something more than an adrenaline-fueled apparition to the Kuvexian staring them down.