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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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"So what exactly am I looking at, Doc?"

Dr. Wackett smiles mischievously. "What's this, Cleona? Don't you know?"

"I pilot the damned thing, Doc. I don't build 'em."

Dr. Wackett shrugs. "Well, it's very simple, my dear Cleona. You're looking at the magical engines that power the very Substriker you pilot."

You scratch your head. "Engines, plural?"

"Indeed, Cleona," she replies, voice heavy with the mysticism of technology and engineering.

"Wait, wait. Won't we need both Martian Engines, then? The Brass probably won't be happy without at least one engine laying around for them to copy."

"That's the beauty of it, Cleona!" Waiting for this question, her eyes sparkle with glee. "Do you know why we only use one engine in flight strikers?"

You sigh. "Because they didn't have enough room for a second one?"

"No, silly! Because Witches have two legs!"

"I don't follow."
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"We use two magical engines in the Substriker for redundancy. If one fails, you can use the second one to surface and hopefully get some help. Since Witches wear two leg units of flight strikers, they can use two powerful engines. Here, we have to make due with two weaker ones, together about as strong as a single flight engine when we set them up right. Do you follow?"

You nod. "I think so. Still, there's two engines here. How are we going to hook up one engine to a machine that needs two?"

Dr. Wackett's eyes sparkle even brighter this time. If you didn't know any better, you'd say she was channeling magic. "I anticipated this in my original design!"

"You anticipated getting a hold of Martian Magic Engines?"

She rolls her eyes. "No, silly. I anticipated a switch to a single, more powerful engine. If we designed a very reliable engine, we could get rid of the redundancy, cut costs, and get a higher-performing unit. It's brilliant! We just need to get rid of the current housing for these two engines, finagle a new one for the Martian Engine, and away you go. Stronger shields, deeper dives, faster movement, longer sorties...We don't have time to test it, but I'm more than certain you could dive as deep as that Harbinger!"

[ ] Then let's get cracking!
[ ] ...Wait. Substrikers have a redundant engine?
[ ] Other.
[X] Then let's get cracking!

Bout time we put the sub back in subwitch.
>…Wait. Substrikers have a redundant engine?
inb4 Panzer
>implying panzer posts in SuWQ

[X] Then let's get cracking!

But you just did! Your argument is irrelevant.
[x] Other.
Shouldn't we work on replicating the Martian Engines before getting a housing ready? We don't know if the Human copy of the Martian copy of the original Human one will be the same size as the Martian copy.
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"Then let's get cracking, shall we?" You gaze around the room, taking in the workshop. Various tools are scattered about the workbenches, a few workers shaping metal and fixing aircraft parts. In the corner sits Socks with his strange device, working until General MacArthur arrives. However, nothing strikes you as particularly useful for the task at hand; the finer and more delicate tools laying about have functions you can't guess at and the more obvious ones are too unwieldy for the job. Are you going to have to fetch more tools?

"Ah, don't worry about that," Dr. Wackett says as she notices your confusion. "Here." She grasps a handle in the back of the Substriker and gives it a jerk. The entire assembly comes loose, only a few wires and tubes connecting the engines to the rest of the unit. "The hard part will be adapting this for the new engine. Jacobs!" she yells, jerking towards one of the men struggling with a particularly strange piece of metal.

He perks up, eager for a distraction from his frustrating task. He carefully sets the delicate piece down and heads over. "Yeah, Ali-Dr. Wackett?" Dr. Wackett's eye twitches ever so slightly as he catches himself.
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"We need to shape a new assembly for the Substriker unit. We're going to pop this new engine," she says, patting the improved Martian Engine, "into here." She points to the now-hollow Substriker.

"Got it!" He snaps around, grabbing various tools and pieces of metal in the shop.

"I hate to say it, Cleona, but I don't think you'd be of too much help. You said it before, you pilot these things, you don't build them."

"Oh," you say, somewhat disappointed.

"B-but you can stay, if you want! It'll give you a much better understanding of what you're going to be using!" she says hopefully.

[ ] Stick around.
[ ] Hop on over to Socks.
[ ] Find your other fellows.
[ ] Other.
[x] Stick around.
We're going to be depending on these things for our life; we'd better learn more about them.
We didn't even know there was a backup engine in there before!
[x] Stick around.

As nice as it would be to go find Socks, >>20613403 has a point.
Stick around. Just because we haven't been involved in their construction doesn't mean we can't learn.
Also … I'm not sure how to phrase it, what I want to add. Maybe it'll come to me when I'm not on my phone.
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"I suppose you have a point," you say.


"Here we are, Dr. Wackett," Jacobs says, interrupting as he drops a load of materials and tools next to the Substriker.

"...Thank you, Jacobs. Let's get to work."

Dr. Wackett and Jacobs work diligently for the next hour or so, taking time to explain various nuances of the Substriker when you asked.

"What's this tube?" you would ask, pointing to a large black tube that splits into two before hooking into each engine.

"Ah, that's a cooling intake. We use the seawater as a coolant, carrying away more heat than air-cooled engines. It's why we could build these so compactly; the radiator's much smaller," Dr. Wackett would say.
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As it stands, the Substriker turns out to be a much simpler machine than you'd have guessed. Much of the components use electricity generated by the Magic Engine in order to cut down on magic use. The only things that directly use magic are the water jets, really. As a result, a Witch could dive to depths of several hundred feet without having to immediately surface due to magic drain.

"The tradeoff is that you have to use more complicated parts," Jacobs explained. "Instead of using Magic directly, which would have simplified the physical part, we have to design and waterproof something that could basically work off a wall outlet. Always an engineering tradeoff, remember that."

As the job nears completion, Dr. Wackett suddenly springs from her chair. "Oh! I nearly forgot!" She runs out of the room with no explanation.

"Does she do that often?" you ask Jacobs.

"Alice doesn't do much with any kind of regularity. Here in her Wonderland, we've gotten pretty used to not being used to her, if you know what I mean."

"Ah," you say, understanding.

Dr. Wackett returns several minutes later, holding a Substriker Helmet that looks like someone took to it with a blowtorch. "Here," she says, handing it to you.

[ ] Thanks...
[ ] Alright, I give up. What is it?
[ ] Other.
>[ ] Alright, I give up. What is it?
Seriously, what?
Uhhh what?
[x] Alright, I give up. What is it?

Always with the no explanations. One of these days we're gonna stick something in one of Alice's toys and we aren't gonna get it back...
>[x]Thanks, I always wanted my very own... melty... thing.
[x] Alright, I give up. What is it?
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You turn it over a few times, trying to figure out what the hell she's done to it. At first you thought it was a torched piece of trash, but...

"Alright, I give up. What is it?"

"It's your new helmet. Remember that Martian helmet you brought back?" Dr. Wackett asks.

"Yeah. Damned thing was the only reason why I could even be on the Harbinger," you answer, recalling the painful memory of being dragged into the main part of the ship without protection.

"Well, you wouldn't want to get hit by that when you're in the water, right? I've basically cut it up and popped it in the helmet. I'm not the best with those welding tools, but I had it tested. The helmet's still structurally sound. Twist that knob there, on the side."

You turn the helmet around, finding a hastily-installed knob on the side where she pointed. It has some serious resistance, but you manage to turn it until you hear a satisfying click and metal hitting itself. "What did I just do?"

"You just closed the helmet. I cut it into long sheets, like window blinds. Turn the knob and they all twist, making a flat layer with no holes. Turn it back, and it opens back up."
Did the helmet offend you in some way?
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You're not quite sure why she did that.

"Well, you can't talk to Socks with the helmet on, right?"

"Oh. This is actually pretty useful. Thanks, Dr. Wackett."

"Please, Cleona. That's enough. Call me Alice," she says with her hands on her hips. "Getting called 'Doctor' made me feel intelligent, but it also makes me feel...old."

"Sorry. Thanks...Alice."

She smiles as you say her name. "Now that's more like i-!"

A flustered and nervous officer bursts into the room, making a commotion.

"Is that...Victor?" you wonder aloud, recognizing the man.

"...Looks like it. Victor, what's going on?" Alice asks.

Victor looks annoyed, but ignores the informal address. "The General is here," he pants.

[ ] Head him off with a greeting, Alice needs more time.
[ ] Stay here; he'll have to work through the maze of underground hallways to get here.
[ ] Go keep him busy, Victor.
[ ] Other.
>[ ] Head him off with a greeting, Alice needs more time.
Let's be the rabbit this time.
Head him off. We can take Socks if he's not doing anything. Should keep him busy.
>[ ] Head him off with a greeting, Alice needs more time.
[x] Head him off with a greeting, Alice needs more time.
Yetta, quick! Be adorable at him!
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"Well, shit," you comment. "So, how close are you to finishing here, guys?"

Jacobs wipes some sweat from his brow. "Eh, what do you think, Ali-Doctor?" he says, quickly switching as Alice's eyes turn to daggers. "Just gotta finish up with the handles, strap down the engine, and hook it up with some new tubes, right?"

"Yes, Jacobs, that's about it," she replies. "We probably need about ten or fifteen minutes, Cleona."

"Gotcha. I'll be back. Let's go, Victor," you say as you grab his arm. You nearly fall, taken off balance as Victor remains firmly planted to his spot.

"..W-what are you doing!? That's valuable material!" he cries, noticing the thoroughly-messed with Mars Striker tossed aside with much of the scrap Alice and Jacobs didn't need anymore.

"Oh, we're taking the engine out of that thing and tossing it in here!" Alice responds happily.

"B-but that's-," he starts, but stops. "I know nothing, I see nothing!" Victor tears himself from your grip, fleeing the room.
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"Poor guy. He must catch it from the Brass all the time," you comment. Giving Alice and Jacobs a nod, you chase after Victor. "Wait up! Where's the General?"

"Oh, sorry. He's...this way." Victor leads you through a few hallways, heading back up to the surface. As he rounds the final corner... "Ooof!" Victor bounces to the floor. He curses silently, picking himself back up. "Watch where you'r-SIR!" Victor snaps a salute.

"What the hell are we still doing here, Victor?" asks a very irritated General Douglas MacArthur.


"Yeah, I thought so. You! Chief," he says, nodding at your salute. "What's the holdup?"

[ ] Dr. Wackett is finishing up a project you'll likely approve of, Sir.
[ ] We're still searching for the others.
[ ] Socks, help me!
[ ] Other.
>[ ] We're still searching for the others.
[x] We're still searching for the others.
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"We're still gathering up everyone, Sir."

He rolls his eyes. "We're not taking back the whole brigade, Chief. Relevant persons only. That means you, Dr. Wackett, and the Martian."

"Yes, sir. As you can see, I'm the only one here. The others are still scattered about."

He grumbles. "Get it done, Chief. There's a war waiting."

You snap a salute. "Yes, sir!"

He returns it, not pleased, but willing to wait. The General turns around and heads back up to the surface.

"Well, that went well," Victor comments.

"Actually, it did. How long do you think he'll wait?"

Victor thinks. "Knowing him...I'd say we have ten minutes before he starts getting particularly irritated."

"That's not enough time."

[ ] Help Dr. Wackett hurry things along.
[ ] Victor, talk to him, find any way to make this take longer.
[ ] Tell General MacArthur why you need more time.
[ ] Other.
>[ ] Help Dr. Wackett hurry things along.
Let's just get on with it.
[x] Other.
[x] Tell General MacArthur why you need more time.
We couldn't help with the substriker before, I doubt we can help with it now.
Maybe if we can distract him by telling him that Wackett's working on a way to attack the Harbinger, he'll wait a little longer.
[x] help dr. move things along

Because nobody convinces MacArthur of anything. Best to get this finished.
Let's get Socks and the doctor prepared to go. That captured sub is broadcasting its location to the Harbringer. If we value our lives, be somewhere else.
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"Wait. I have an idea." You run back to the workshop, where Jacobs and Alice are rushing to finish. You glance around, ignoring their half-hearted queries. A place with welders and flame being used so often should have...yes. There it is. The fire alarm. Noting its location, you head over to the pair.

"How much longer do you need?"

Alice shrugs. "I don't know, maybe 15 minutes."

"We don't have that time. We have about 10 until the General gets really annoyed." You make sure no one's listening before leaning over to whisper. "Can the Substriker get wet?"

Alice's face scrunches in a confused look. "Are you kidding?"

"No, I mean, can it get wet right now?"


You gesture to the fire alarm. "I think we might be able to get a few more minutes."

Alice's eyes widen in recognition. "Jacobs, get a tarp."

"What? Uh, sure, one sec." He heads over and grabs a tarp from a shared pile of miscellaneous parts and materials that has coalesced in the middle of the workshop. "Where do you need it?"

"Place it over everything."


"Just do it." Alice nods to you.

"Here we go." You casually head over to the alarm, and....

RIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING! The alarm goes off, almost instantly creating mass chaos as people throughout the facility are given a surprise shower.

"Let's hurry it up!" you yell to Alice, avoiding the rush of people heading for the exit.

"Right! Jacobs, let's go!"

You keep a lookout as Alice and Jacobs finish their work. After about 10 minutes, the alarm stops.

"Uh oh, I hear people coming this way," you warn.

Alice grunts an acknowledgment.

"What's taking so long?"

Jacobs growls in frustration. "I just...can't...get this thing to fit!"

"You bent it wrong, it won't get past that part jutting out! There! Right there!" Alice complains.

"Don't worry, it just needs a good...SHOVE!" He strains himself...and gets nowhere.

"Hold on, I have this." You walk over, reaching into your pocket.

"What's that, Cleona?" Alice asks, staring at the stone you extracted.

"Family keepsake. It's an old-fashioned focus." You grip the holder containing the now-hooked up engine and close your eyes. Taking a deep breath, you let the magic flow, ears and tail forcing their way out from wherever it is they reside when you're not making sparkles. With a careful but heavy movement, you push.


"I didn't break anything, did I?" you ask sheepishly.

"Haha, no, there it is!" Alice cheers. "It's done!"

"What's done?"

The three of you turn to look as a soaked MacArthur walks into the shop.

[ ] Try a one-liner.
[ ] Our modified Substriker, Sir!
[ ] Other.
[x] Our modified Substriker, Sir!
[x] Try a one-liner.
"The Harbinger's one-way ticket to the sea bed. Preferably in a thousand pieces."
Modified subthingy
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You can't really say he looks angry, but he certainly doesn't look happy. Snapping a brisk salute, you answer. "The modifications to the Substriker, sir. Dr. Wackett believes it can now operate at depths we'd need to strike at the Harbinger."

Alice leans over to whipser. "Are you insane? I was just being optimistic! I have no idea how much deeper you'll be able to go, let alone how long you can stay there!"

You whisper back. "What, you want to try handling this without any good new for him?"

Alice shuts up.

Meanwhile, MacArthur's expression has lightened up. "Reach the Harbinger, you say? That's a pleasant surprise. My regards, Doctor, you've given us just what we needed at just the right time."

"Excuse me, sir?"

"We think we've got that minisub spitting out the Harbinger's location. We need to make sure, which is why you're coming back with us. And the Martian," he says, pointing to the corner. A tarp has been hung and seems strangely lumpy.

[S-Socks!? Is that you?]

[...Yes, Cleona. Next time, I would appreciate a better warning. Had I not realized what was going on, my device might have been permanently damaged.]


Socks emerges from his cocoon, safe and dry. He raises a tentacle in salute, eliciting a rare chuckle from MacArthur.

"Odd little thing, isn't he?" MacArthur comments. "Come on, load up what you need. We've wasted enough time as it is. Brisbane awaits."

The trip is long and quiet. You dread facing the Harbinger in a lone Substriker.
When you arrive, it's dark. MacArthur meets up with his staff and guides you down towards the docks.

"What about Socks? Shouldn't we be hiding him?"

MacArthur grunts. "Wouldn't matter. Half the damned base knows there's a Martian about. Someone talked, the bastard. As long as we use drivers and crew with some damned sense, we can keep where he is hidden. That's all we need."

The car he requisitions takes you down to a military pier, blacked out, with a large sheet the color of the water draped over a lumpy object. The sub, you realize.

"Watch your step," MacArthur says as he climbs down the top hatch. The sub doesn't rumble with life, but the volumetric display is active, displaying an image of eastern Australia and the surrounding waters. A few lights blink here and there, but the most eye-catching is a large, glowing triangle several hundred miles off the coast.

"We believe that these are the locations of all active Martian units in the area," MacArthur says. Gesturing with his pipe, he points out the triangle. "We think this big triangle is the Harbinger. If it's not, then we better find out what the hell that is."

Dr. Wackett leans in on the display. "There's an awful lot of these really tiny dots all over the place," she comments.

"We're not sure what those are. We've had ships, planes, and even a sub in their vicinity without picking up a thing. We're ignoring them for now," the General explains. He looks at you and Socks. "Ask your green friend here to confirm the Harbinger's location."

[ ] Socks, what's that triangle?
[ ] Socks, what're those tiny dots?
[ ] Other.
He says they think the triangle is harbinger, so ask about the triangle.
[x] Socks, what're those tiny dots?
[x] Socks, what's that triangle?
Gotta do this first, General's orders.
[x] Socks, what're those tiny dots?
Then this, because it could be important.
[x] whats the deal with the dots?
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[x] Socks, explain what these symbols mean
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[Hey, Socks.]

[Yes, Cleona?]

[Can you work those controls, try to find out what those tiny dots are?]

[I can try, Cleona.]

You step aside, letting Socks access the console. He begins tapping various buttons, the display shifting between the live view of the Earth and various text-based pieces of information. The display zooms in on some of the various dots Alice was curious about.

"Those don't look like triangles to me, Chief," MacArthur says.

"I've got about as much idea of how this thing works as you do, Sir. I'd just let him do his work."

MacArthur grunts.


[I'm reading information about them. It looks like...]

[Looks like what, Socks?]

[There are several thousand of these deployed throughout the area, most-heavily concentrated around the Harbinger. They must be new additions...]

[What are they, Socks?]

[Tele-operated bots. Swarms of them.]

You suddenly feel much worse about diving to meet the Harbinger.

"Are you alright, Cleona?" Alice asks. "You look pale."

[ ] Those dots are Martian Telebots.
[ ] Yeah, I'm fine.
[ ] Other.
[x] Those dots are Martian Telebots.
[Socks, is the triangle the Harbringer?]
[x] Those dots are Martian Telebots.
And yeah let's make sure that's the Harbinger.
[x] Those dots are Martian Telebots.
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"Socks found out what all those dots were," you say.

"He's supposed to be finding out what that triangle is." MacArthur's patience is wearing thin.

"They're swarms of Martian Telebots, sir."


[Socks, do they have any weapons?]

Socks fiddles with the controls a bit more, bringing up more Martian text. [The majority of bots located some distance from the Harbinger appear to be reconnaissance bots, trying to locate your forces, amongst other things. The ones much closer, however, do appear to be combat-based, with limited AI to assist operators.]

[How deadly?]

[Armed with coherent sonic weapons and MASERs.]

You inform the General.

"Well, that's great. So the triangle is the Harbinger, then?"

"Looks like it, sir."

"...We might need to rethink our plans. Unless you think you could sneak past those bots?"

[Socks, what are the eyes like on those things?]

[...I do not know. I wasn't aware of any aquatic combat telebots. I can only assume that they have a standard sensory package across the EM Spectrum.]

[Think I stand a chance of sneaking by?]

[Actually, you may be able to. There aren't enough Martians on the Harbinger to assign one operator to one bot. Controlling swarms like this makes it more likely for them to miss smaller objects. They probably don't expect an attack at that depth, either; the bots might only be near the surface, searching for Human ships and submarines.]

[ ] Yeah, I think I can sneak by.
[ ] No, sir.
[ ] Other.
"It's probably possible, sir."
[x] Yeah, I think I can sneak by.
"It appears possible sir. If it's only a very small unit, or just one person."
[Socks, do you know of a weak point on the Harbinger, that would take it out of combat if damaged?]
[x] Other
"I might need a distraction."
[x] Other.
"If you could set up a distraction to take the attention of the telebots away somehow, yes, I should be able to."
Perhaps a small exhaust port?
"From what Socks can see, I might actually be able to slip by. They're not equipped with amazing detection equipment and each operator is busy controlling numerous bots. Hell, they might not even be down with the Harbinger; we're not supposed to have anything that can reach them that deep." You bite your lip. "Still, I'd rather not rely so much on chance. If you could provide some sort of distraction..."

MacArthur smiles. "Actually, that was kind of part of the plan. We've got Admiral Isaki's flotilla on standby."

You're a bit surprised. "You kept him here?"

"It wasn't easy, but yes, his flotilla is currently 'defending an important allied installation from attack for the overall well-being of our united efforts' or whatever those political types managed to spin." He chews the mouthpiece on of his pipe. "We can have you launch from the flotilla before they get in range of the telebots. You get under the swarm and the flotilla can distract them."

[ ] ...Can the flotilla defend itself?
[ ] That's all very well, but what am I supposed to actually do?
[ ] Other
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[x] ...Can the flotilla defend itself?

If it's above Harbinger... that might not be great news for the fleet. And with little tiny submerged bots to boot?
[x] That's all very well, but what am I supposed to actually do?

Unless we can do a trench run, there's not much we have that we can use.
>[ ] That's all very well, but what am I supposed to actually do?
[x] That's all very well, but what am I supposed to actually do?
I mean, we can assume some sort of explosion will be involved, but that's about it.
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"That's all very well, Sir, but what exactly am I supposed to do once I get there?"

"Force it to the surface, of course. Get it up and we'll nail it with enough ships and planes to bomb them back into the Stone Age." MacArthur turns to look at Socks. "You people did have a Stone Age, right?" Not understanding, Socks merely nods his head. "Good," the General says.

You're still bewildered. "How exactly am I supposed to do that?"

"Well, ask your little friend over there! You need something, you've got it; we can't have that thing roaming around."

You sigh and turn back to Socks. In the corner of your eye, you spot Alice jotting down notes on her clipboard. At least she's not bored.

[Socks, any idea what I can do to force the Harbinger to the surface?]

[Hmm....] Socks runs through several more pages of text on the sub's display, scanning for something. [Ah, yes. This would work. The Harbinger generates a lot of heat maintaining its active pressure hull. It's cooled by passing seawater through various components of the vessel. If you were to jam the intakes, it could only stay below for so long before being forced to surface. If you do enough damage, they won't be able to conduct repairs while submerged.]
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[How many of these are there?]

[There are two intakes. They are...a meter across each, and create a considerable current.]

[Do you know what they're made of?]

[I doubt that they would have used anything other than ordinary steel to construct them; the intakes themselves do not need to fight any pressure differences.]

[What happens if I toss a bomb in there?]

Socks thinks for a moment. [I believe there is enough material and suction that the debris generated would lodge itself in the pipe. I cannot say for certain, though. Either way, a good chunk of vital equipment would cooled by that intake; send an explosive far enough along and you will do some serious damage.]

You look back at the General. "I'll need bombs. Lots of bombs."

He smiles. "You'll get them."


Sweet Christ.
Haha! And we don't even have a targeting computer to turn off!

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