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File: Project Wingbride.png (1.71 MB, 1911x825)
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>Discord: https://discord.gg/D2QGKxBd87

SOMEWHERE ABOVE THE CADIAN SEA

A yawn escapes you as shift yourself in your seat, a hand moving towards your eye to shift the sand from its nook, only to realize that your visor had been fully lowered. Rolling your shoulders as you lean forward, you manage to turn your gaze upward to the aircraft commanded by your second in command, immediately alerting you that your brief lapse in concentration had just shifted you out of the designated formation. Mumbling under your breath, you reach for the HOTAS, only for your craft to slowly decelerate and shift itself to a higher altitude, bringing yourself back in line with the other four that made up the wing. It seems as though your bout of callousness had gone unno—

Symphony 01 “Jackpot”
<< Hey, I know that we had quite the dig last night, but it’d be a boost to my credibility as your flight lead if you didn’t try to sneak a nap in on my watch, Symphony Four. >>

You’re quite certain if you had a mirror and your helmet off, you’d be witness to a pair of ears that would be crimson with embarrassment. Your head tilts forwards slightly as your attempt to nurse your embarrassment, the tip of your oxygen mask barely missing the control panel as a round of laughter erupts on the comms.

Symphony 02 “Ivory”
<< Come on, Cap; lay off the kid. I think he had at least two pints of Director Hackett’s monstrosity. Be thankful he even managed to get up here in time. >>

Symphony 03 “Ebony”
<< One must take responsibility for one’s own actions, for better or for ill, if one wishes to look upon their reflection without bearing shame. >>

Symphony 02 “Ivory”
<< You only say that because you’re the only meatbag in the hangar that the Director hasn’t tested his concoctions on. >>

Symphony 03 “Ebony”
<< Reality is gentle on the teetotaller where it is unforgiving to the drunkard. >>

You can’t help but smile at that.

Symphony 05 “Conductor”
<< Right now I’m regretting passing over that promotion to second-in-command. Sure, the raise didn’t really scale with the increase in responsibilities, but I’d at least be able to clear the air of you two lunkheads. >>

A chuckle escapes your person, only for you to immediately remember just what your position in the Squadron was … and immediately return to keeping radio silence and making sure you remained in formation.

Symphony 02 “Ebony”
<< Your refuse is my gain. >>

Symphony 03 “Ivory”
<< That’s not how the saying goes. >>
>>
Symphony 05 “Conductor”
<< If you’re going to break the comms in small-talk, I’d actually prefer for the topic to be of substantially higher value than your bickering. Offence intended on all fronts, sir. >>

Symphony 02 “Ebony”
<< Okay, fine, then. Uh … all right. Symphony Four: why the call-sign? >>

>DEMON (+2 Engagement, +1 Hunting)
>DAREDEVIL (+2 Evasion, +1 Engagement)
>HOUND (+2 Hunting, +1 Engagement)
>PROPHET (+2 Evasion, +1 Hunting)
>REAPER (+2 Hunting, +1 Evasion)
>STORMCROW (+2 Engagement, +1 Evasion)
>JESTER (+1 Engagement, Plane HP +1)
>TEXTBOOK (+1 Hunting, Plane HP+1)
>BASS (+1 Evasion, Plane HP+1)
>WIZARD (No bonuses, PSYCO Growth doubled)

*If you’re dissatisfied with the call-signs, write one in and choose one of the bonuses.

LEGEND:
>Hunting: When you’re moving in for an attack
>Engagement: When you’re in an attacking phase
>Evasion: When you’re on the defensive.
>Plane HP: How many “hits” you can endure. This translates into saving rolls. As you level up, Plane HP goes up.
>PSYCO Growth: How quickly your AI levels up.
The first three start at "1".
>>
>>4576726
>WIZARD (No bonuses, PSYCO Growth doubled)
>>
>>4576726
Is AI level this quests equivalent to character level?
>>
>>4576728
It depends on certain things. The first encounter should give you a gist of how things work.
>>
>>4576726
Guess ill put one in for some good defense, then. Cant do much if you're dead, after all.
>PROPHET (+2 Evasion, +1 Hunting)
>>
>>4576726
>>STORMCROW (+2 Engagement, +1 Evasion)
>>
I'll be back when you guys finish up with how you want to start out.
>>
>>4576726
>PROPHET (+2 Evasion, +1 Hunting)
>>
>>4576726
>>WIZARD (No bonuses, PSYCO Growth doubled)
>>
>>4576726
>WIZARD (No bonuses, PSYCO Growth doubled)
>>
>>4576726
>>JESTER (+1 Engagement, Plane HP +1)
>>
>>4576726
>>HOUND (+2 Hunting, +1 Engagement)
>>
File: choose your fighter.jpg (30 KB, 564x317)
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Symphony 03, “Ivory”
<< Really, you’re going to ask why his call-sign’s Wizard? That’s your idea of small-talk? >>

Symphony 02, “Ebony”
<< What? You’re not curious at all? >>

Symphony 03, “Ivory”
<< Not as curious as I am as to why they assigned him to her of all things. >>

Your eyes stray to the empty panel of the hologram, briefly wondering if that twang of temper would snap at the blatantly obvious dig. Not that you minded, after all; you were quite comfortable saddled in the cockpit of an

>F/A-18
>F-16
>F-15
>F-14
>MIG-29
>SU-27
>F-35
>>
>>4577280
>MIG-29
>>
>>4577280
>F-15
>>
>>4577280
>>F-14
JOLLY ROGER TIME
>>
>>4577280
>>F/A-18
>>
>>4577280
>>F-15
>>
>>4577280
>F/A-18
>>
>>4577280
>>SU-27
>>
File: Spoiler Image (37 KB, 350x490)
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I flipped a coin. Congratulations to the F-15. I fucking knew this was going to happen.
>>
File: F-35 [Leticia].jpg (97 KB, 1024x563)
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Someone requested F-35's Avatar on the Discord. This is her. She was the Yandere.
>>
>>4577451
MERRY FUCKING CHRISTMAS
>>
I didnt get my yan but getting rias plon is way ok too
>>
Oh boy, I hope there isn’t too much orange in this quest.
>>
File: Elaine, the F-15.jpg (13 KB, 300x168)
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Symphony 04 Flight Intelligence, F-15 “Elaine”
<< Maybe the fact that he has the highest mean score on the PSYCO simulations has something to do with it? >>

You’re spared from an answer by the fiery bloom of your F-15’s artificial intelligence module; the craft’s holographic panel displays a three-dimensional image of a greenish-blue tint, conjuring the full figure of a tightly-clad young woman in possession of a full volume of hair and a skirt that you’re very sure that you’d seen in a lingerie catalogue, regardless of its resemblance to that of a prep school uniform. Even the tint can’t hide the details of her person: from the blood red mane that was her hair to the full cheeks and mischievous eyes and the full bosom that you’re very sure isn’t merely a natural mutation of the visual algorithm … she bore a closer resemblance to those pin-up caricatures than she probably did any human alive. Coquettish, energetic and independent, there were times that you wondered just how in the world you and Elaine were a match … never mind the best of the bunch.

Ivory
<< Going straight for the jugular.: that’s Elaine for you. About as demure as a bucking bronco. >>

Elaine’s hologram—the projection of her very existence—turns her nose up in satisfaction; you spy the corner of one mouth turn up as she leans slightly back, extending a leg towards the edge of the circular device, audibly snickering over the shared channel. You hear the groan of your senior, Ebony. Turning your head up you spy his shaking helmet, clearly exasperated.

Jackpot
<< Did none of you read his file? Wizard’s Wizard because he was one of shortlisted candidates for the PSYCO sampling and experiment unit without having a prior history as a jockey. He was WSO for the Special Operations Platform in the defence of the Falkland Deposit.

Ebony
<< Wait, Wizard’s actually a wizard? >>

Ivory
<< Wow, Ebony. Keep going; maybe those last two brain cells’ll spawn a whole household. >>

Ebony
<< Up yours, Ivory. >>

Jackpot
<< In any case, Wizard still does hold the highest mean score in PSYCO simulations: from compatibility to adaptability, the processing power of he has has the coats clocking the learning rate for attached AIs at a clean two-hundred percent under test conditions. It makes some sense that they’d slide him together with Elaine, what with her … record with pilots. >>

Ivory
<< I guess even computers can be dumb blondes. >>

Elaine
<< I’m a red-head, you jerk! >>
>>
>>4577919
>Ask Elaine to maintain discipline; Ivory was still your superior, after all
>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>Write-In
>>
>>4577921
>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>>
>>4577921
>>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>>
>>4577921
>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>>
>>4577921
>>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>>
>>4577921
>>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>>
>>4577921
>Ask your superior to stop teasing Elaine; he might make his jealous
>>
Running in a few, lads. Hang tight.
>>
File: MIG-29 Fiona.jpg (22 KB, 260x195)
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Ivory
<< Jealous? What are you playing at? >>

The comm patch indicator beeps as your second-in-command’s confusion rings through the channel.

Symphony 02 Flight Intelligence, MIG-29 “Fiona”
<< I concur with Symphony Two’s mystification. Envy is not a function that I am well-acquainted with, nor, in the case that I ever could be, would have it be of such a modicum of associative value adjacent to a pilot who continually refuses sound input and judgement. >>

Ivory
<< Yeah … what she said. >>

Ebony
<< And you say that I’m the one lacking in brain cells. >>

You hear an indignant string of mumbled curses over the comm; Elaine crouches slightly, her avatar giggling into a closed fist as a muffle string of laughter shakes the shared channel. A glance outside your cockpit has you seeing the Fulcrum—Fiona— displaying her belly as she widens the gap slightly between herself and Jackpot’s VX-23 while Ebony and Conductor decelerated in tandem as the both of you found international borders right on your RADAR.

Conductor
<< As much as the AIs and the systems are here to learn from us, they’re also here to help us where we happen to come up short. I won’t claim to be one of the coats, but maybe there’s a proper reason that Elaine and Wizard work so well together, test conditions or no. Definitely boggles the mind how he managed to score so high, but there you go. That’s what I got. >>

Ivory
<< What? You’re saying that I gotta wine and dine this lady here? >>

Fiona
<< May I request an emergency landing? I believe I am leaking fuel. >>

Ivory
<< Hey! >>

Elaine
<< Hah! >>

Jackpot
<< You know what? I am curious myself. No offence meant, Symphony Four, but Elaine’s algorithm isn’t exactly the most stable … or the most cooperative for that matter. The fact that you made it past the second screening test alongside her and set a new record doing so is doubly impressive. >>

Elaine’s avatar grins widely before leaning over and slipping you a wink.

Elaine
<< It’s all about trust! Ain’t that right, partner? >>

ACTIVATED: F-15 “ELAINE”
>Acrobat Lv. 1 (+1 to Evasion at Lv. 1)
>Multi-Lock Lv. 1 (+2 Extra Targets at Lv. 1)
>[LOCKED]
>[LOCKED]

Your flight leader chortles heartily into the comms as his craft elevates slightly above you, prompting you— and the rest of the Squadron—to do the same. You’d probably be crossing the line soon.

Jackpot
<< Trust, huh? Not a bad way to put it. >>

Ebony
<< So that's how it is, Wizard? >>

>Disagree with Elaine’s perspective
>Agree with Elaine’s perspective
>Write-In
>>
>>4578734
>>Agree with Elaine’s perspective
you must be one with your plane
YOU MUST PUT YOUR SOUL INTO IT
>>
>>4578738
Elaine
<< Ain't that right, partner? >>

You
<< That's right ... partner. >>

God, I feel like throwing myself off a cliff just typing that.
>>
Lmao why bother with a waifu WSO when you can get an AI? Now the the real question is if we've lost our virginity prior to 30, otherwise we won't live up to our moniker.
>>
>>4578734
>Agree with Elaine’s perspective
>>
>>4578734
>Agree with Elaine’s perspective

Also is this a regular old F-15 variant or did we get supermaneuvrability?
>>
>>4578741
You were a WSO during the Falkland Deposit Conflict. Your nickname is "Wizard" because you were the only candidate to make the grade that wasn't a pilot prior.
>>
>>4578753
It's a regular F-15 with an AI attached to it. It's more resilient because of all the daredevil maneuvers that the corporation is expecting you to do, anyway, but nothing special outside of Elaine. Anything else?
>>
>>4578734
>Trust and possibly the idea that I enjoy teaching the next generation of WSOs.
>>
>>4578734
>Agree with Elaine’s perspective

>>4578740
While it does make you feel ill I do believe it is important that we have a great working relationship with the A.I that could barrel us into the Atlantic if she is unhappy.
>>
>>4578755
can we modify the f15 later to smtd variant? become as TRUE wizzard
>>
>>4578734
>>Agree with Elaine’s perspective
>>
>>4578791
Maybe. Maybe not. It will all depend as you play the quest.
>>
File: Elaine.jpg (45 KB, 500x500)
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PSYCO +2 EXP
2 to Next Level

Elaine doesn’t say a word, but you don’t exactly require any verbal tells to know that there’s an amount of joy that the PSYCO system relays over to you through the receptors. Her avatar glows a little brighter as the both of you share a look—or rather, what you interpret as a look—in the immediate aftermath of your affirmation of Elaine’s stance regarding the nature of your two-man tandem. Perhaps having been a WSO for the bulk of your military career had been a blessing in disguise in this aspect: you knew the push-and-pull of a partnership, covering each others’ weaknesses and addressing the strengths were what made things work, even more-so than being a wingman. You’d understood just what it was like playing in the back-seat to the point that when the opportunity finally arose for you to take the reins … it was almost natural for you to allow Elaine to clean-up where you couldn’t. Perhaps the absence of pride had allowed you to ease into the program better than the others … perhaps not.

Whatever it was, you just found it easier to take to the concept of an AI aide more than others. You wouldn’t have had this job in the first place otherwise.

You appreciated how Elaine was with you, as bland as you probably were compared to the antics of Ivory and Conductor.

Ivory
<< Are you two … having a moment? Yeesh … >>

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< Emotional feedback is considered a priority of the learning process for our modules. Empathy, sympathy, instincts, they all corral … >>

Ivory
<< None of that for me, thanks. >>

There’s a grunt of indignation that you’re quite certain came from Symphony Two’s side, but you don’t comment on it. Fiona was Ivory’s assignment and that wasn’t a bag of beans you were quite willing to spill, given that you were en route towards a very important rendezvous. However they got along, you’re quite sure that they had their own way as to how to manage it. Ivory was still a grown man underneath that tusk-ordained helmet and Fiona was one of the more contemplative intelligences that you’d encountered.

There was also the part of your brain that was telling you that you’d be toeing lines you really shouldn’t be touching in the first place with an off-hand comment.

Ivory
<< Well, Flight Leader, seeing as Wizard hasn’t been properly oriented with our unit’s SOP, do you mind if I do the honours? >>

Ebony
<< Wow, your sense of timing has to be one of the worse in existence. >>

There’s a brief pause.

Jackpot
<< Well, Wizard? It’s up to you. It’s not like we’re pressed for time. >>

>View Combat Tutorial
>Skip Combat Tutorial
>>
>>4578896
>>View Combat Tutorial
>>
>>4578896
>>View Combat Tutorial
>>
>>4578896
>>View Combat Tutorial
>>
>>4578896
>View Combat Tutorial
>>
File: Fiona.jpg (87 KB, 1024x578)
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You roll right out of the formation, tailing Ivory. The second-in-command peels off past a nimbus, banking left and down towards the cloud line … not that there were enough to call it a “line”, at least in its current state. Fiona and Ivory accelerate ahead of you, breaking themselves into a position on the corner’s edge of your HUD. You jink the joystick and pull left, just as they do, bringing him cleanly within your sights but still some distance away. By the basics, your craft should have had an edge on the MIG right in front of you, but the stress testing that your current employers had put the planes through—in keeping pace with AI and human reaction times and vector limits—had given both Fiona and Elaine more than enough to run a few rings around those belonging to standard production lines.

Ivory
<< All right, let’s see what you can do, Wizard. >>

The MIG practically phases through the cloud formation below, prompting you to copy his movements. Elaine’s avatar creases her brows as you find your shoulders being pulled by the G-forces, diving nose first and with the throttle back.

Ivory
<< Ho, ho, ho … got a little bit of a show-off in you. All right, let’s see how well you can follow me. >>

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< Follow us, you mean. >>

Symphony Two doesn’t retort.

Roll for Initiative (DC: 8)
>Use PSYCO (+1)? (1d20)
>Use Hunting+Engagement (+2)? (1d20)
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>4578923
>Use Hunting+Engagement (+2)? (1d20)
>>
Rolled 17 (1d20)

>>4578923
>>Use Hunting+Engagement (+2)? (1d20)
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>4578923
>>Use Hunting+Engagement (+2)? (1d20)
>>
>>4578923
>Use Hunting+Engagement (+2)? (1d20)

I'm assuming bo3?
>>
File: Chase me if you can.jpg (5 KB, 284x177)
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You cut him off before getting into position. Fiona attempts to realign herself, but you have control of the chase by virtue of being the first one to anticipate the dive and the climb that follows it. The Eagle—Elaine—is more manoeuvrable, more agile than its off-the-line counterparts … but so is the Fulcrum. The aircraft weren’t just made to endure physics, but the new generation of insanity that came with AI-assisted vectors; stress of the G-forces that pull against the back of your skull are almost headache-inducing, but nothing compared to the test conditions that weathered you down for such situations. You’re vertical with a juke; the HOTAS rumbles you and Ivory exchange spins, the superior thrust of your engines pulling against the sheer verticality the MIG-29 was capable of. You both fight for position, jostling mere dozens of feet away for a clean break. He dips left as you bank right, decelerating as he comes to stand-still and …

Ivory
<< Holy … you know that I’m just busting your balls, right? >>

You’re right on top of him.

Elaine
<< Woohoo! That’s my man, right there! >>

A string of curses breaks out from the plane below; over the comms you make out the amused mumble of Ebony, who was probably witnessing the mock-duel on his own instruments. Elaine’s head bobs up and down as she turns absolutely enthusiastic, eyeing the vulnerable Fulcrum as though it was a bullseye in a fair.

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< He would have more than those if this was a live combat situation. Be thankful that it isn’t. >>

True to form, the advantage doesn’t extend beyond what you’re able to take as is. You’re right on top of him, but he doesn’t make it any easier for you to grab a proper lock on the Fulcrum anymore than you had before.

Ivory
<< Well, not bad, but reeling in the catch is different from just casting the line! See how your tagging works! >>

>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+1) (DC: 9, 1d20)
>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (+1) (DC: 14, 1d20)

NOTES:
>*“Hunting”, after winning initiative, allows for you to roll for better chances to line-up your “Engagement”, which are your odds on a successful kill. Should you have NO JOY (unsuccessful kill), the opposing plane will line-up on you instead, if successful at escaping. Certain planes (BOSSES, CONVOYS, GUNSHIPS) need to be hit multiple times to be downed. Watch out for Furballs, as they come with the added danger of cunning pilots hoping to bag easy kills.

>You may roll HUNTING for as many times as you want as long as you are successful in your rolls. Every two successes, however, the DC will rise by 1. In turn, ENGAGEMENT’S DC will decrease by 1 every success. If you miss your ENGAGEMENT (and have no abilities to counteract the failure), your offensive ends.
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>4579029
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+1) (DC: 9, 1d20)
I think we should try to hunt at least 3 or 4 times to pull the engagement DC down to 10 or 11.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>4579029
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+1) (DC: 9, 1d20)
a real hunter only needs one shot. so lets line it up right
>>
Rolled 20 (1d20)

>>4579029
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+1) (DC: 9, 1d20)
>>
>>4579035
>>4579036
>>4579037
Current Hunting DC: 9 (0 change from base)
Current Engagement DC: 13 (-1 change from base)
Roll again?
>>
>>4579040
>>4579041
>>4579042
Guys, hang on. This isn't the roll prompt yet. I'm just asking. Wait a minute. Yeesh.
>>
>>4579043
In that case yes we would like to roll again
>>
>>4579045
same
>>
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Symphony 02, Fiona
<< Ho … not bad at all … >>

Ivory mumbles obscenities into the comm as you break through another nimbus and tear a stratus into non-existence. The Fulcrum’s agility is something to behold. You must be raking the sound barrier for all its worth at this point, but you don’t stop in your pursuit. The tail fins and the ailerons of your second-in-command are dead in your sights as the cries of encouragement from your plane’s avatar cry out like some heavenly witness crying for absolution.

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< You’re not going to beat him out on speed alone. >>

Ivory
<< Come on, new guy, show me what you got! >>

You oblige.

>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 9, 1d20)
>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (DC: 13, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>4579047
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 9, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>4579047
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 9, 1d20)
>>
>>4579048
>>4579049
Current Hunting DC: 10 (+1 Change from Base)
Current Engagement DC: 12 (-2 Change from Base)
>>
Rolled 2 (1d20)

>>4579047
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 9, 1d20)
>>
>>4579050
You guys wanna roll again?
>>4579048
>>4579049
Haha, >>4579051 is lucky that the 19 more than makes up for it.
>>
>>4579052
ikr and sure lets see if we cant be lucky once more.
>>
File: Elaine zooming.jpg (70 KB, 1080x720)
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You cut him off with a cut downward, teasing him with your sights as the Fulcrum points its nose upward to bring itself to a controlled stall. Ivory, apparently bamboozled by your sudden—and they are, indeed, sudden—movements hisses into the comm as the both of you dash in and out of the clouds, the sun changing shoulders with every second that ticks on the clock. At baseline, the Fulcrum would be at a clear disadvantage, but it was a testament to Ivory’s skill that he was able to last so long after giving up the advantage in the initial dance. Elaine squeaks as you roll to the left as he breaks off to the right, the both of you performing almost exact mirror images of horizontal looping to …

Ivory
<< Son of a … >>

You break just before the clip, decelerating and diving down to catch Ivory before he evened out his craft, nesting Fiona right on the tip of Elaine’s nose.

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< How did he … >>

Her arms crossed over her chest, Elaine grins widely … and proudly.

>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 10, 1d20)
>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (DC: 12, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>4579056
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 10, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>4579056
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 10, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>4579056
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (DC: 10, 1d20)
>>
>>4579058
>>4579060
>>4579063
Holy damn. That's three successes in a row.
>>
>>4579064
gotta channel all them ace combat/gundam protags
>>
>>4579065
>inb4 that's why we're Wizard.
>>
If you guys are still around, I would like to get back to this in a bit. Haven't had this fun running in a while.
>>
>>4579091
think im the only one left awake
>>
>>4579091
Lurking.
>>
File: My Partner Is The Best.jpg (67 KB, 1020x797)
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Ivory
<< All right, all right: time. You’ve made your point, Wizard. Sheesh … >>

The erratic fakes of the Fulcrum stops within seconds. Your second-in-command decelerates into a cruising speed thirty or so degrees to your right; you do the same, shifting your own vector from a gradual north to an even eight o’clock with Ivory. Upon your console, you’re treated to the sight of your craft’s avatar pumping her fist in unrestrained enthusiasm, the advanced graphics of the interface showcasing the shine in her eyes at having witnessed your recent triumph. Elaine’s small figure twirls slightly before stopping with her avatar’s features directly facing that of the drifting MIG-29, her pilot seen visibly shaking his head in the cockpit.

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< Encounter data received; compiled and stored. Would it be in error to assume that this is the factor in which the modules are lacking in … beyond situations where endurance and fortitude which we can and have measured? >>

A heavy sigh sounds through the comms, wrapped in a mix of shame and bewilderment.

Ivory
<< Can’t say that I get any of that, but if you’ve picked anything up from Wizard, I won’t mind getting some of that shot down into my neurons. Yeesh … don’t think I’ve felt that kind of pressure before; all without firing a single round or pod, too. >>

You don’t miss the sparkle in Elaine’s eyes as her tiny figure looks up at your visored visage, as if expecting your own remark. Thankfully for the both of you, you weren’t the type to spoil victories with unnecessary extras. You merely follow Ivory’s lead, the encounter now a memory, a reference.

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< That is not how my learning matrix executes its processes. However, if you wish for me to simplify the percentages of you being able to reverse Symphony Four’s initial advantage, your percentages would have increased had you chosen to prolong the encounter instead of conceding so early. >>

Ivory
<< That’s not the point, Fiona. Anyway … you got me good on that. Right in front of the home stands, too. >>

A series of laughs erupts through the channel, lead by none other than Symphony Three … and emphasized by the smug, prideful look of your F-15’s avatar, who had her hands over her breasts. Even the Flight Leader seems to be in on it.

Elaine
<< The outcome was never in doubt. Wizard’s Wizard for a reason. >>

Ebony
<< I’m never letting you live this down. >>

Ivory hisses into the comms, clearly dissatisfied.

Ivory
<< Yeah, yeah … anyway, you’re pretty damn good pushing and chasing. Can’t say I’m not curious about seeing how well you do when the shoe’s on the other foot … >>

>Continue Tutorial (Evasion)
>Proceed
>>
>>4579137
>Continue Tutorial (Evasion)
>>
>>4579137
>>Continue Tutorial (Evasion)
>>
>>4579137
>>Continue Tutorial (Evasion)
>>
>>4579137
>>Continue Tutorial (Evasion)
>>
>>4579137
>Continue Tutorial (Evasion)
>>
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Jackpot
<< It’s not like we’re pressed for time. I’ll allow it. >>

You and Elaine share a nod as you break away from the two-man wing to put yourself in a position of pursuit, waiting for Fiona and Ivory to fall into your previous position. Not ten seconds later, the Eagle and the Fulcrum were now reversed in your roles, with you and Elaine cruising on the edge of a hard lock and Ivory and his AI at the back in hot pursuit. Your grips the throttle as you feel Elaine’s chassis swing side to side, waiting for Ivory to properly fall into your six.

Ivory
<< All right, let’s see how you do on this stage, Wizard. >>

Elaine
<< Let’s show him what we’re not just a one-trick pony, partner! >>

>EVASION REVERSAL (Roll against GM, GM Roll+5, 1d20)
>EVASION (DC: 8)

EVASION AND EVASION REVERSALS
NOTES:
>EVASION AND EVASION REVERSALS are two different ways to approach defence. Evasion Reversals are more aggressive manoeuvres concentrating on getting back on offence in the quickest way possible. Due to the high risk that comes with the series of manoeuvres, they are generally of a higher difficulty to achieve; you will be rolling against the GM. Failure to do so will result in you being open to an attack. Success, however, allows you to skip your HUNTING phase and gives an automatic ENGAGEMENT bonus depending on your ENGAGEMENT Level, in which you will have TWO rolls (2d20) to beat the DC. Normal Evasion is safer, as you are given your normal Evasion DC Rolls (1d20) but still stand a chance to survive the exchange should you fail with a successful PSYCO save (1d12), should it beat the DC. Remember, though: THE INSTANCES IN WHICH YOU DEPLOY YOUR PSYCO FOR ASSISTANCE SHAPES THE NATURE OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR A.I., WHETHER YOU EXECUTE IT OFFENSIVELY, OR DEFENSIVELY, FREQUENTLY OR OCCASIONALLY.
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>4579700
forgot to not add the modifier
BLESS ME RNGESUS
>>
>>4579706
Please do not attach modifiers automatically as I have to manually tally them anyway and it becomes confusing.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>4579700
>EVASION REVERSAL (Roll against GM, GM Roll+5, 1d20)
Lets go for broke.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d20)

>>4579708
>>4579710
All right, let's see if you beat/match me.
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

>>4579700
Rolling to make mech job.
>>
>>4579708
>>4579710
(19+10)+1 = More than 11
>>4579712
6+5 = 11
>>
File: Nice One, Partner.jpg (145 KB, 1920x1080)
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Breaking the chase off is harder than you initially thought it would be, but trusting your instincts, you deploy an AOA manoeuvre, twisting and banking until the both of you are practically nose-to-nose within seconds … and looping back to reclaim the advantage. Ivory’s instincts and experience is quite the gulf to cross, but from what you’d seen before, it was still raw in flashes. You feel Elaine accelerating as the ailerons scream to make the bank, eager to cross herself over that threshold into defence. Fiona does the same, the circumference of her turn larger but compensated by her leaner design, forcing you to tug and thrust as the stall warnings—both automatic and manual—protest the relentlessness of your drive. The klaxon beeps its warning; that you’d upset the air flow of the craft’s very capabilities …

But all you see is Elaine’s cry of victory.

Ivory
<< Son of a … >>

They’re in your sights within seconds.

Conductor
<< Jesus, son, it’s just a training exercise! >>

Jackpot
<< Holy Hell, Wizard. That’s some flying if I ever saw it. >>

Elaine’s avatar does a joyous pump of her fist, jumping mid-air … and inadvertently rolls the craft from her unrestrained joy. After that AOA split, though, it was more of a wake-up shake than anything else.

Elaine
<< Man, that was something else! You really know how to show a girl a good time! >>

Her half-foot tall avatar laughs … before looking up at you expectantly.

Did she ... expect you to say something?

>Write-In
>>
>>4579729
>Takes two to tango after all
>shoot her a grin
>>
>>4579733
This, but make it as cheesy as possible.
>>
File: tenor.gif (1.23 MB, 498x373)
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>>4579760
This image sums up what I want to do right now.
>>
>>4579733
>Supporting
>>
>>4579733
You're wearing an oxygen mask.
>>
>>4579904
Ok then replace the smile with giving the avatar a psuedo-headpat.
>>
>>4579904
I'd personally say it's the mentality that matters when it comes to that
>>
>>4579904
then just change it to a thumbs up instead of a grin
>>
>>4579729
>>4579733
Supporting, but make it a thumbs up.
Also, doing an aoa without supermaneuvrability holy shit wtf
>>
>>4579907
>>
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>>4579904
Give a thumps up then
>>
Just to be clear in an evasion reversal its 2d20 added together to beat the gm roll, not best of 2, right?
>>
>>4579920
No, no, that's just for the Special Engagement phase AFTER you win that roll. It's just a really hard DC to beat normally.
>>
>>4579920
Most rolls will be average of our first 3 rolls with modifiers then added.

>Evasion DC 9 (1d20) with a +1 bonus
>Poster 1 rolls 7 to Evade
>Poster 2 rolls 11 to Evade
>Poster 3 rolls 15 to Evade
>Result is 12 (11(roll average) +1 (bonus)) to Evade

During a successful Evasion Reversal our free Engagement check will be the standard 3 roll average + modifiers with a follow up "reroll" of 3 roll average + modifiers if we fail the first roll.

>Engagement check (DC 15) after a successful Evasion Reversal
>Poster 1 rolls 6
>Poster 2 rolls 15
>Poster 3 roll 9
>Result is 10: Failure
>Poster 1 rolls 12
>Poster 2 rolls 20
>Poster 3 rolls 13
>Result is 15: Success
>>
>>4579935
Sweet this helps thanks
>>
Roll call for those that wanna play Project Wingbride in a bit. Since I'm, you know, free.
>>
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OPTIONAL MISSION - INTRODUCTIONS: OBJECTIVE COMPLETE!
>Standard Experience Points Received: 12*
>PSYCO Experience Points Received: 8*
>PSYCO Leveled Up! New Level: 2 (0 to Next Level)*
>PSYCO Leveled Up! New Level: 3 (10 to Next Level)*

You give a small nod and gesture towards the little lady with an upright thumb. Evidently appreciating your gesture, you feel the shake and sway of Elaine’s happiness as the frame moves freely of your control, a feedback of positive vibes leading back into you through the experimental receptors built into your helmet. Your demonstration over and done with, you form up alongside your second-in-command, climbing above the cloud line before banking right, spying the angle of approach of the three remaining members of Team Symphony. Ivory accelerates and rolls acrobatically above the three-man formation; a move that, to the unaccustomed eye, would have made for screams at a possible clipping of the vertical fins of his MIG-29 with that of Ebony’s own MIG-31 … but even after knowing them for barely two weeks and having zero active hours together, you knew that it was perceived recklessness more than an actual show of it.

Symphony 03 Flight Intelligence, MIG-31 “Farah”
<< If you’re thinking of showing off to compensate for that lackadaisical effort, Symphony Two, you’re going to have to pull off more than a roll and a tentative paint trade. >>

Granted, there were those that it didn’t fail to get a rise out of.

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< None of those accusations apply to my pilot, or myself. >>

Farah snorts into the comm, evidently unamused by the retort. It was amazing, really, what technology could achieve these days. It was almost fascinating.

Symphony 05 Flight Intelligence, F/A-18, “Hiryuu”
<< Settle down, both of you. >>

Symphony 03, Farah
<< We weren’t the ones that … >>

Jackpot
<< Break it up, ladies. If you want to go all-out, wait until we’ve set you back in the hangars. The last thing I want is our intelligence modules picking up cues from Symphony Two and Three. >>

You and Elaine trade knowing glances. You wonder if she can see the defeated smile underneath your mask. Still … the Flight Leader’s command is heeded, and whatever three-way brawl is kept from erupting through the adherence protocols and the chain of command. As boisterous and independent as the artificial intelligence could get at times, there were implications and unsaid orders that they were able to heed. For you, it was like a bunch of delinquents in a classroom being given an ultimatum by a stern teacher.

Conductor
<< Well, we still got some time … Wizard: you have anything you want to shoot up into the air waves from your end? >>
>>
>Decline questions, press on
>Ask about the state of the world
>Ask about Symphony Squadron’s operational history
>Ask about the AIs and how they’ve developed so far, their relations, etc.
>Ask about their personal feelings regarding the current assignment
>Talk about baseball
>Write-In
>>
>>4580298
>>Ask about the state of the world

world building ahoy
>>
>>4580298
>Ask about the AIs and how they’ve developed so far, their relations, etc.
>>
>>4580298
>>Talk about baseball
>>
>>4580298
>Ask about the state of the world
>>
File: gomen.jpg (53 KB, 450x337)
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=][=ALERT! MECHANIC FORGOT TO GIVE THE EXP PAGE FOR ACEING THE TUTORIAL, SO PLEASE PAY ATTENTION TO THIS! =][=

CURRENT EXP HELD: 12
You have received Experience Points! Choose where to allocate them:
Hunting Lv. 1 (5 Experience to Level 2)
>New Abilities at: 3, 6, 10, 15
Evasion Lv. 1 (5 Experience to Level 2)
>New Abilities at 3, 6, 10, 15
Engagement Lv. 1 (5 Experience to Level 2)
>New Abilities at 3, 6, 10, 15

PSYCO Level 2!
Old Modifier: +2
New Modifier: +3
PSYCO Level 3!
Old Limit DC: 12
New Limit DC: 11

You have reached PSYCO Level 3
Choose:
>Upgrade 1 current ability
>Unlock 1 locked ability (Left: 2)
>>
>>4580351
use 5 exp to lvl up hunting to lvl 2

use 5 exp to lvl engagement to lvl 2

then use the psycho lvl 3 to unlock a new ability for elaine
>>
>>4580298
>Ask about the AIs and how they’ve developed so far, their relations, etc.

>>4580351
Supporting >>4580361
>>
>>4580298
>Ask about the state of the world
>Ask about the AIs and how they’ve developed so far, their relations, etc.
>>4580351
5 exp to lvl up to hunting lvl 2
5 exp to lvl up evasion to lvl 2
unlock a new ability for PSYCO lvl 3
>>
This is Mechanic. Sorry about that. I nodded off last night.
>>
Testing
>>
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====================
EXPERIENCE SCREEN
====================

Current EXP Held: 2
Evasion Lv. 2 (8 Experience to Level 3)
Hunting Lv. 2 (8 Experience to Level 3)
Engagement Lv. 1 (5 Experience to Level 2)

F-15 “Elaine”
Unlocked new PSYCO ability : Relentless Lv. 1*
>Only available for activation after failing a Hunting or Initiative check. You may roll again at DC+1 (At Level 1); if you fail this roll, the encounter proceeds as normal. This ability is affected by the limit.

Current PSYCO Abilities (Level 3; 10 to next level)
Modifiers: +3 on activation
Limit DC: 11
>Acrobat Lv. 1 (+1 to Evasion)
>Multi-Lock Lv. 1 (May lock onto up to 2 extra targets)
>Relentless Lv. 1 (May roll again if fail Hunting/Initiative at DC+1)
>????
>>
>>4581244
Just a brief on what a "limit" DC is. Every time you use your PSYCO, you have to roll whether you can roll it again. Fall below the DC and you won't be able to use PSYCO abilities at all until your next sortie.
>>
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Jackpot
<< What’s there left to tell? The world turns, some ambassador stubs their toe against a rock and we cash in our bonuses minus unwarranted losses at the end of the fiscal year. >>

You notice Elaine’s brief look of hesitance, but don’t make a deal of it.

Conductor
<< So much has changed for mercenary units in the last decade, I don’t even know where to start. I remember when we had to deal with shoddy hangars and barflies that held themselves above the standard and now … man[/], you kids have it good. The Edict of Legitimacy really turned things around. >>

Ebony
<< The Edict wouldn’t have been a thought at all if it weren’t for the Two Hundred Days of Fire. As twisted as it is to even bring up, Amaterasu Defense and Security would still be renting out transports to pirates and independent mercenary units if the Cascadian Independence movement didn’t end up the way it did. >>

Ivory
<< What was the name of that mercenary group again? Sicario? >>

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< The Sicario Mercenary Corps are a now-defunct Private Military Contractor that, even prior to the Two Hundred Days of Fire, were well-known amongst mercenary circles for being relatively small in number but relatively valuable in skill level. The most recent record regarding the performance matrices registers the Sicario Mercenary Corps with the highest kill ratio in the history, accounting for more than forty percent of registered air-to-air and air-to-ground kills, as well as heading a plethora of vital operations for the Cascadian Independence Force. Their last leader, Arnold Frenken, call-sign Kaiser, disbanded the PMC shortly after Cascadia achieved independence. Most of its personnel are at large for alleged war crimes, but Kaiser was last seen acting as an independent consultant to The Intermediary. Save for Kaiser, none of Sicario has been seen in the last twelve years. >>

You blink, surprised at the sudden unloading of information.

Ivory
<< Uh … thanks, Fiona. >>

Jackpot
<< Sicario … they’re the ones that took down Frost Druid. >>

His tone is bitter, filled with contempt.

Ebony
<< Frost … Druid? >>

Ivory
<< How can you not know Frost Druid? She was one of the aces of The Oceania War!Over two hundred confirmed kills! The Pale Cougar of the Skies! >>

Conductor
<< She must have been pushing forty by the time Sicario punched her card in. Still … if there was anyone that could have done it, then, it must have been … >>
>>
Ivory
<< Yeah … couldn’t have been anyone else. >>

>Write-In (Seriously, guys, you should know this)
>Who?
>>
>>4581282
>>Write-In (Seriously, guys, you should know this)
"the king of the skies himself and his lady in waiting of course"
>>
>>4581282
Would have to support this, though it could have been anyone from Hitman, 1~4, since they were all present for the fight.
>>
>>4581287
>PTSD of Dip and Mic KSing intensifies
Monarch should have joined the Federation.
>>
>>4581282
It was Master Goose betraying Frost Druid, duh.
>>
>>4581283
Supporting
>>
>>4581283
Supporting
>>
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Jackpot’s laugh is dry, sardonic.

Jackpot
<< King of the skies, huh? If the shoe fit; it’s never been said that all kings are just. >>

He doesn’t follow-up beyond that.

Ivory
<< Well … seeing as we’ve pretty much crossed the Cobalt-Cruz line and are about twenty minutes out from little rendezvous … anything else you want to throw out there, Wizard? Maybe something to lighten the mood? >>

To your surprise, you see Elaine’s otherwise-silent avatar make a small gesture with her shoulders, evidently agreeing with Ivory’s propose course of action.

>Move on
>Ask about Symphony Squadron’s operational history
>Ask about the AIs
>Ask about their personal feelings in regards to the current assignment
>Talk about baseball
>Write-In
>>
>>4581621
>Ask about the AIs
>>
>>4581621
>>Ask about the AIs
>>
>>4581621
>Talk about baseball
To lighten the mood
>>
>>4581621
>Ask about the AIs
>>4581244
While I do enjoy that my exp decision vote was chosen, it was engagement that received more votes and not evasion
>>
>>4581778
I apologize. I'll revert it later on the next screen.
>>
>>4581621
>Talk about baseball
>>
>>4581621
>>Ask about the AIs
>>
>>4581833
Could just run another vote seeing as it looks like there's a lot more people voting now
>>
Running in a moment. Can I have a show of hands?
>>
Conductor
<< Eh … as far as I care, it’s steady employment. Let the unions and ethic committees figure it out for themselves. >>

Ivory
<< Not interested into that sort of thing? >>

Conductor
<< I’d say it’s more that I don’t have a particular inclination towards the topic outside of the fact that it’s had a hand in keeping my bank account healthy. The fact that Hiryuu and the rest of the modules are less poisonous than your average human being is an added bonus. >>

You glance down at Elaine’s avatar, seemingly intent on listening in on the conversation.

Ebony
<< It doesn’t bother you that we might be having a hand in pushing our current vocation into irrelevance through the development of such technology? >>

Conductor
<< Like I said: I’ll let the unions and ethic committees figure that one out. >>

Jackpot
<< Well, Conductor’s right about the average Amaterasu Intelligence module being more amicable than your average human being. Not sure if I’d chalk that down to sheer naivete or the algorithm mutation that the boys in coats work by, though. >>

Ivory
<< You probably have an opinion on that, Wizard. Well? >>

>Write-In
>>
>>4582264
Okay, seeing as I'm feeling generous, here are some options as to where you want to take the conversation:

>Relate your interpersonal relationships with the Artificial Intelligences and prompt them into doing the same
>Focus on the politics of the matter and where you and the rest stand professionally
>Be casual and just say that you think that they're really neat.
>Say that you understand the perspective of dissenters
>Write-In
>>
>>4582264
>>Write-In
"I dont think they will ever let these things be autonomous, there will always be a man-in-the-loop and thus there will always be a need for pilots"
>>
>>4582264
>Be casual and just say that you think that they're really neat
They are.
>>
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>>4582267
>Calling AI Waifu "things"
You have to leave.
>>
Seeing as there aren't a lot of you that are on right now ... I'll continue this later. The vote will remain open, so mail it in if you want to.
>>
>>4582271
until i can mofu mofu the bewby, she will kinda be a thing
>>
>>4582266
>Be casual and just say that you think that they're really neat.
>>
>>4582266
>Be casual and just say that you think that they're really neat.
>>
>>4582266
>Say that you understand the perspective of dissenters
>>
>>4582266
>Say that you understand the perspective of dissenters
>>
>>4582266
>Say that you understand the perspective of dissenters
>>
>>4582270
>>4582319
>>4582323

>>4582378
>>4582515
>>4582530

We have a tie. Flipping a coin; coin flipped and ...
>>
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Ivory
<< Neat, huh? Not the word that I’d pick out myself, but … an opinion’s an opinion. >>

You shrug. You were never a big on thinking over things. As far as you were concerned, things were at face value until otherwise subverted. From a more personal perspective, you find yourself aligning a little bit more towards Conductor’s perspective on things: Elaine and the others seemed pleasant enough, even when they were practically add-ons to your twitch reflex or rolled one barrel too many and that’s really all you have to say about that.

Symphony 05, Hiryuu
<< Symphony Four. >>

You tilt your head as you respond to the call, confused.

Symphony 05, Hiryuu
<< I, too, find you … neat. >>

Conductor
<< Oh, my … >>

Jackpot
<< Looks like the ethics and committees are going to have to do a whole lot of figuring out by the time we RTB. >>

A burst of masculine laughter erupts along the comms. You lean forward, rubbing the back of your neck, unable to bring yourself to line up a proper response.

>Write-In
>>
>>4582663
>Thank Hiryuu for the compliment
>>
>>4582668
Supporting.
>>
>>4582663
>Y-you too
>>
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The plane does a sudden, violent roll as you finish your response to Hiryuu’s kind words.

Upon gaining your bearings—which takes less than a third of a second—you peer down at the innocuous body language of your craft’s avatar, humming off-tune and staring up at the canopy. Leaning forward, you open your mouth to ask just what that was for, only for the comm alert to go off right as the first consonant swan-dives from your tongue.

????
<< Unidentified aircraft, identify yourself. >>

Jackpot
<< This is Sheffield-Niner-Eight-Seven-Zero authorization code Alpha-Charlie-Sierra-Sierra-Zero-Four; relay verification. >>

????
<< Verification is Alpha-Charlie-Zulu-Oscar-Zero-Zero. This is Captain Finn of the Orleasian Royal Guard. Asset transfer underway; handle with care. >>

The IFF immediately locks onto what was probably the most luxurious-looking airliner that you’d ever seen. Even from this distance, you could tell that there was marked difference in the design and architecture of its peers. The body was much too bulky, its wings much too long for it to be marked as a mere modification off the production line. Elegant curves, rectangular intakes and what could only be described as a rather tall curve doubling as a cockpit at its tip, the first word that enters your mind is the sheer cost of the craft’s commission, as it could only have been custom-made. The closest that you could describe it in a catalogue of its contemporaries was a three-way marriage between the 747, TU-144 and an artist given free rein in regards to the steepening of curve gradients.

Jackpot
<< Package received, Captain Finn; we’ll take it from here. >>

Although … knowing just who it belonged to, none of that should have surprised you. The diagonal, jet-black cross and the golden wings of the twin birds that make the emblem painted on the side of the craft peeks into full bloom as you plug yourself into the escort, cruising several dozens of feet away from the tip of the right wing.

Your real work hours had begun.

Jackpot
<< Cinder Lord, this is Captain Joe Hikaru of Symphony Squadron. We’ll be your escort for your trip to the Asarian Conference. Please inform his majesty that he’s in good hands. >>

Transport Asset, “Cinder Lord”
<< I’m sure I am. >>

Ivory
<< Whoa, is that … >>

A bout of laughter erupts from the airliner; deep yet jovial.

Ebony
<< The King of Orleasian Kingdom … >>

Ivory
<< Is he … flying the plane? >>
>>
The laughter subsides into light chuckles … or as light as Cinder Lord can manage; his voice would probably cause tremors if he so much as boomed on solid ground.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Don’t worry. I was flying rubber dog shit from out of Port Hong for five years in a cargo plane. This is a lot easier. >>

Cinder Lord, Co-Pilot
<< Your Highness, that’s the chaff trigger! >>

The craft rumbles slightly to your right as you hear sounds of a light scuffle … but remains otherwise stable.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< I knew that. >>

You hear a groan from Conductor … and a nervous laugh from Ivory.

>Write-In
>Stay Silent
>>
>>4582707
>Write-In
[Polite levels of laughter]
>>
>>4582707
>>Write-In
>chuckle lightly and get ready for a long trip
>>
>>4582709
Supporting
>>
>>4582709
Support
>>
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You politely chuckle, more amused than alarmed as you fall into a routine of check-ins and micro-management. Jackpot’s VX-23 maintains point, just slightly ahead of the group. Ebony and Ivory maintain discipline, much to your surprise, with the only occasional break being Ebony’s AI chatting about some minute detail going unaccounted for and demanding the slack to be picked up. Even Elaine had fallen into the monotony of half-hourly system reports; you almost feel like dozing off yourself, but fully trusting the plane with Elaine alongside an asset of such import wasn’t something that you were eager to do just yet … if only because you’d already caught a nap on the way up here and risking a second right now would likely be an infarction worthy of a docked pay-check.

And you weren’t even half-way yet.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< So, seeing as I’m going to be putting our full support behind your AI advancement prerogative … am I going to get to meet any of the little ladies? >>

Jackpot
<< Your Majesty? >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< You know … the girls? >>

Conductor
<< The girls? >>

Conductor’s tone is one of confusion; he repeats the sentence as though it is a foreign tongue he has little to no grasp of.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Your planes are fitted with AI, aren’t they? Don’t I get to meet one of them? >>

Jackpot
<< Um … >>

>Prompt Elaine
>Keep silent
>Write-In
>>
>>4582741
>>Prompt Elaine
>>
>>4582741
>Prompt Elaine
>>
>>4582741
>>Keep silent
>>
>>4582741
>keep silent
>>
>>4582741
>>Prompt Elaine
>>
>>4582741
>Keep silent
>>
>>4582741
>Prompt Elaine
She could probably use the experience.
>>
>>4582741
>Prompt Elaine
>>
>>4582741
>Prompt Elaine
>>
>>4582741
>Prompt Fiona
>>
>Write-In
Introduce Elaine and tell how she is wonderful and cute
>>
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Elaine stares back at you for a moment … before slumping her shoulders and letting out a small whining sound.

Elaine
<< Greetings, your majesty … >>

It’s not as eloquent as you’d hoped, but you don’t dare look a gift horse in the mouth.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Now that’s a voice that’ll bring any man to attention at 2 AM over the Bering Straits. >>

Elaine hangs her head, equal parts flattered and embarrassed by the King’s remark. At the same time, the King’s co-pilot—which you now realize is probably the craft’s captain who had been unceremoniously usurped of his responsibilities—lets out an exasperated whine at what you assume to be his monarch’s lack of delicacy.

Cinder Lord, Co-Pilot
<< Sire, please … >>

The King would have none of that, however.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Relax; you’re acting like I’m tap-dancing on the throne. >>

You hear a resigned rumble from the co-pilot, but little else follows after. You can only conclude that he’d finally given up in his attempts at having the SOP heeded to the letter.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Well, Miss, what can I call you? They give you names or am I going to have to get out a calculator to make sure I don’t misplace a digit? >>

Much to your surprise, Elaine laughs.

Elaine
<< It’s … Elaine, sir. >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Wow … it’s pleasure to make you acquaintance, Elaine. I’ll be in your care. >>

There’s a moment of contemplative silence that breaks through the comms, accompanied only by what feels like a ponderous hum.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Which one are you, Elaine? >>

Elaine
<< Sir? >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Which plane are you? The MIG-29? >>

You hear what sounds like a suspiciously indignant snort, but you’re uncertain just where its node of origin was.

Elaine
<< I’m the F-15, sir. Coming up on your left. >>

Elaine prompts you to give her a little push … which you do, bringing up the plane from the tip of the airliner’s wings to just within the viewing cone of the larger craft’s cockpit. Turning your head towards the King’s plane, your line of sight trails from the craft’s sleek—if bulky—frame all the way to the DV windows … where you’re able to spy a clean-shaven middle-aged man of a rigid countenance and white hair almost pressing himself against the glass, his expression one of almost child-like excitement.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< You’re a beauty, all right. >>

Elaine hugs her small form, her mouth wiggling as she struggles to elicit a proper response.

Cinder Lord, Co-Pilot
<< Your majesty … >>
>>
Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< What? You’re going to tell me that there’s a woman on this planet that doesn’t appreciate being called beautiful? >>

You’re quite certain that the uncomfortable grunt that follows is from your Flight Leader, but you weren’t about to risk disciplinary action by pointing it out. Elaine, meanwhile, refuses to lift her head, the blue tint of her projection only making the pink tinge upon her cheeks look worse. The King’s co-pilot, however, doesn’t respond, mumbling incoherently (or praying, as you’re quite sure you hear half a sermon in there) as he retreats from the fore once again.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Beautiful; beautiful; beautiful. >>

Elaine hugs her knees, squeaking.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Your man treat you right, Elaine? >>

You don’t know why, but you feel a rather tight sphincter at the King’s question.

>Write-In
>Stay Silent
>>
>>4582940
>>Write-In
Say that my parents taught me to be a gentleman to any lady
>>
>>4582941
same
>>
>>4582940
>stay silent
>>
>>4582940
>Stay Silent
If she needs it i guess we could prompt her to answer truthfully, though it might be taken wrong if not done non-verbally.
>>
>>4582941
>>4582942

>>4582944
>>4582943
We have a tie. Flipping a coin; coin flipped and ...
>>
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You’re quite sure that his question was directed at Elaine, still.

However, there was a part of you that was a little … sensitive from the man’s line of questioning, resulting in your veering from response protocols. You’re uncertain how much of your pay check had been ripped up in that brazen declaration … but the only sound you hear along the comms is an agreeable grunt from the masculine half of the conversation that you’d just interrupted.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Your parents raised you right, then. A lady’s a lady; transistors and vacuum tubes or credit card-maxing ball-gowns, a lady’s a lady. You treat her right and she’ll bring you home. You can take that as a royal proclamation. >>

Cinder Lord, Co-Pilot
<< I’m quite certain that’s not how it works, Your Majesty. >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< You know what, Downey? You’re not fun at all. >>

Elaine laughs; rather audibly, you might add.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< There you go. Always a pleasure to hear a pretty girl laugh. >>

Elaine smiles warmly as her small form looks up to you, her laughter fading away into giggles as she tucked a strand of hair behind her ears. You can’t help but wonder what went through the minds of her creators in designing a graphics engine that compensated for such subtleties on the three-dimensional spectrum, even with all the flickers that followed. Despite you knowing her as an artificial, semi-independent attachment to your current person, you’re quite certain that there was nothing tactical about having a constructed intelligence of her design having the capacity to blush and giggle like a teenage girl.

God help you, it only made her all the more charming.

Jackpot
<< If you don’t mind me saying, Your Majesty, you’re … a lot more candid that I thought you’d be. >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Yeah; the only reason I’m even on this … throne at all is because they pretty much threatened to fire bomb each others neighbourhoods if I didn’t restore the—and I quote—The House of Bonaparte to its rightful glory. If it was up to me … I’d happily be putting up sticks and heading back down to North Silat with my daughters. God knows how they tracked down the line all the way down to me. >>

Conductor
<< The Orleasian Kingdom’s younger than the emergency kits under our seats … which makes their choice to return to a centralized monarchy whose origins were as the conquerors of the region actually amount to less sense than peanut butter on tomato sauce. >>

There is a pause.

Conductor
<< No offence meant, Your Majesty. >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< You’re making more sense than anyone on the ground; believe me. >>
>>
>Ask how he got the job
>Ask why he’s been such a big proponent of AI development
>Ask what he hopes to achieve at the Asarian Conference
>Ask him about more casual topics
>Stay silent
>Write-In
>>
>>4582988
>>Ask why he’s been such a big proponent of AI development
>>
>>4582988
>Ask why he’s been such a big proponent of AI development
>>
>>4582988
>Ask how he got the job
>>
>>4582988
>Ask what he hopes to achieve at the Asarian Conference
>>
>>4582988
>>Ask what he hopes to achieve at the Asarian Conference
>>
>>4582988
>>Ask why he’s been such a big proponent of AI development
>>
Show of hands for those that would like me to run now.
>>
>>4583376
Go for it.
>>
>>4583376
sure
>>
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Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< I suppose it’s because I’m a bit of a futurist at heart. >>

>Question his stance as the development of Artificial Intelligence in the context of his support is their application in warfare and defence.
>Question his stance from his personal feelings on the matter; his history and what has him confident in the continual development of Artificial Intelligence
>Question the prospect of the redundancy of the human factor in the theatre of war
>Argue that futurists that put investment through defence technology are practically non-existent
>Accept his statement as is
>Write-In
>>
>>4583379
>Your Majesty, which gacha game did you whale on?
>>
>>4583379
>Accept his statement as is
>>
>>4583379
>>Question his stance from his personal feelings on the matter; his history and what has him confident in the continual development of Artificial Intelligence
>>
>>4583381
this
>>
>>4583397
supporting
>>
>>4583379
>>Question his stance from his personal feelings on the matter; his history and what has him confident in the continual development of Artificial Intelligence
>>
>>4583379
>Question the prospect of the redundancy of the human factor in the theatre of war

Remember AC: 7
>>
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Jackpot
<< Symphony Four, maintain discipline … >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Hah, don’t worry about it. I guess there are some questions that are going unanswered with the why and what of my support and I would’ve been more surprised if you’d decided to drop it at just that. >>

Cinder Lord, Co-Pilot
<< Your Highness … >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< It’s all right, Downey; it’s nothing I’m not going to give out in my autobiography, anyway. >>

The co-pilot grunts rather audibly over the comms, but doesn’t protest your client’s decision.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Well, I already said I was a futurist … and that’s true. I’ve always been fascinated with the continuous advancement of technology and the waves that each step forward makes; in my opinion, it’s never been so much people that change the world, but the societal responses that attempt to make the pond of humanity return to a still, undisturbed surface, unwittingly—and ultimately—changing things more than a single flicker of innovation ever could. When the the telephone was invented, it was humanity’s response to that technology and their attempts at restoring a new status quo that shaped our attitudes to communication. Computers, planes, cars … and now with Amaterasu Defence and Security’s recent breakthroughs, I truly believe that you’re on the cusp of something incredible. Something I personally want to be a part of because I believe that what you’re doing is the next step … or rather, a step that I believe we have tip-toed around much too timidly for my liking. >>

Jackpot
<< The exclusivity and the op sites must make this deal all the sweeter, then. >>

A boom of laughter rings through the comms.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< I never said that there weren’t side benefits that my country wouldn’t be enjoying through this deal. The mutual investment is something that I’m sure is going to yield dividends through the next decade. The world’s stability is practically non-existent right now … and I may have been a cargo pilot back in my younger days, but don’t think that I don’t get that there’s more than one game afoot. The concept of adhering to the realpolitik of circumstances is something I personally loathe doing, so the opportunity to actually back practicality up with my actual beliefs is something that I’m thankful for. So … here’s to you, Miss Elaine, and all that come after you. >>

Elaine doesn’t answer; her expression, however, is clearly contemplative.

Ivory
<< Wow, I … huh … >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Heh; I didn’t put any of you to sleep with that nonsense, did I? >>
>>
>>4583436
>Thank him for answering your query
>Write-In
>>
>>4583437
>Thank him for answering your query
>>
>>4583437
>>Thank him for answering your query
>>
>>4583437
>Thank him for answering your query
>>
>>4583437
>Thank him for answering your query
>>
>>4583437
>>Thank him for answering your query
>>
>>4583437
>Thank him for answering your query
>>
Testing.
>>
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You’re met with another bout of laughter from the King; this one friendly and … oddly comforting.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< It was my pleasure, soldier. You know, I was actually— >>

A high-pitched ringing screams into your left ear, accompanied by a most disorienting static. Your systems go orange as the F-15 shakes, as if passing through an air pocket. Elaine’s avatar returns, whirling around, distress apparent in her eyes. Your hand grips the controls as you peel away from the formation in an attempt to stop yourself from clipping the wing of the Orleasian monarch. You roll out of the impromptu dive, gazing through your canopy to find a blazing fireball spitting out the vivisected remains of a—

Ebony
<< Symphony Five is down! Symphony Five is down! >>

I, too, find you … neat.

Jackpot
<< Anyone see what— >>

You do.

It’s brief, but a streak, akin to a flash of black lightning cuts down on the formation from a vertical position, piercing through the formation with a loud rattle of continuous cannon fire. The formation breaks with a single pass; you roll in an attempt to compensate for the space now taken by the airliner’s bulk, prompting you to decelerate and brake past, the tip of you aileron’s mere feet away from clashing against its belly. Elaine’s stall warning briefly lights up as you really do pass through a temporary vacuum from the flurry of movements, finding yourself on the tail of the fighter escort and with a a clean view of the chaos.

Ebony
<< A single fighter … >>

Symphony 03, Farah
<< I don’t see anything on my scopes; RADAR has no read!

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< Attempting identification of craft … >>

Jackpot
<< Forget the fancy footwork; mark it up as a hostile. Symphony Four! Symphony Two! Get the King out of here! Ebony, Farah, let’s tag this sucker! >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Initiating emergency protocols; Cinder Lord changing course! >>

Symphony 02, Fiona
<< Directives understood. >>

Symphony Two lines up on the other side of the wing as you accelerate through the clouds, the King’s plane banking violently as the three of you peel away from the combat area as quickly as you can manage. Briefly, your eyes meet with Elaine’s … and you see, in that instant, a communication of more raw emotion than you’d seen in half the men and women in your life.

Jackpot
<< Jesus, he’s running rings around us! >>

The RADAR doesn’t track the newcomer. It can’t. As far as it was concerned, there were only five craft within the vicinity.

Ebony
<< Line him up, lead; I’ll tag him the old-fashioned— >>
>>
Jackpot
<< Jesus! That thing just cut right through on a dead angle! >>

Ebony
<< Stay on him! Just stay on him; he’ll land right where I want— >>

You hear a scream; you’re not sure if you’d ever heard anything of its kind. The sharp static pierces your eardrums as your fingers grip the joystick and throttle, a phantom pain coursing through your veins as your breathing begins to grow erratic. The King is on the comms, calling out for help … right as your head bows down to check the RADAR display, your fears confirmed as Jackpot remains the only one of your escort in active engagement with this unknown foe.

Jackpot
<< Sweet mother of … >>

A derisive snarl breaks through the comms; one whose origins you cannot confirm.

????
<< Predictable. >>

It’s a concern, however, that you can’t be distracted by.

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< Farah … >>

Elaine’s eyes widen in horror as she places her hands over her mouth, distress apparent in her quaking form. You feel the rumble of the F-15 under your controls, begging to break away from the airliner’s wing. Your grip on the controls is as tight as ever as you keep Elaine’s influence at a minimum, your discipline and instincts outweighing your distress as you try to push Ebony’s loss out of your mind, glancing through the canopy glass, Jackpot’s yells over the channel confirming what you already know.

Jackpot
<< Symphony Three is down! Symphony Three is down! >>

Ivory
<< Y-You’re kidding … Vergil? >>

Jackpot
<< Cinder Lord, he’s got a bead on you! >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Don’t need to tell me twice, son! >>

The King dives. Your doubts at his experience at the controls of the plane are erased as the great plane pitches downward as as you reach for the AI visual assist, giving Elaine a full view of the angles of approach. The grey fighter is on your tail within seconds, prompting you to pull up into a split-S. You feel the g-force pull at your molars with every passing moment you hold the stick, eventually levelling out with the King’s craft in full view at two o’clock low, the grey, featureless fighter overshooting its intercept course by a clean—

Jackpot
<< Don’t let him get a lock on you! >>

Ivory
<< I’m gonna tear you to shreds, you bastard! >>

Jackpot
<< Ivory, don’t— >>

But it was too late.

Ivory had rolled around for a clean shot, dropping a pod as he banked and dived in an attempt to cut the craft down on a blind side … but the plane rolled, spinning through the barrage before decelerating in a manner that should have turned its pilot's brain into mush.
>>
Instead … it danced into the pod, head on, tearing off your second-in-command’s wing with a clean burst from its railgun, sending the MIG-29 spiralling below the cloud line.

And now …

????
<< Too easy. >>

Roll for Initiative (DC: 13)
>Use PSYCO (+3) [1d20]*
>Use Hunting+Engagement (+4) [1d20]

*Reminder that you have an active ability called Relentless that allows you to re-roll if failing
>>
Rolled 5 (1d20)

>>4583537
>Use PSYCO (+3) [1d20]*
The reroll could save us.
>>
>>4583537
Holy fuck man, you know how to write tension. Kudos.
>Use PSYCO (+3) [1d20]*
>>
Rolled 5 (1d20)

>>4583543
forgot the roll like a fucking brainlet
>>
>>4583543
Thank you.

>>4583542
>>4583543
Seeing as this is pretty much an imminent failure, would you like to activate [RELENTLESS]?
>>
>>4583546
Or you can go straight into the EVASION phase. Either works for me.
>>
>>4583546
I dunno, if it's best of 3, I'd rather wait to see if another anon can save the roll. If we have gone through all the allotted rolls then...
>activate [RELENTLESS]
>>
>>4583549
ah, shit, it's an average. then activate relentless.
>>
>>4583546
>activate [RELENTLESS]
looks like it's going to be needed.
>>
>>4583552
use RELENTLESS
>>
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==================
!!=PSYCO ABILITY=!!
==================


ACTIVATE: RELENTLESS

Roll for Initiative [DC: 14]
>PSYCO (+3) [1d20]
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>4583558
Don't fail me, Dice Gods.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>4583558
Here goes nothing.
>>
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He’s too quick, too agile for you to react … even with Elaine pulling out all the stops.

You feel a little …

>PSYCO Limiter Recover (DC: 11, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>4583566
Here goes nothing, again.
>>
>>4583572
Haha. Nice one. I think I'll take this, since no one's going to be rolling to spoil the passing average.
>>
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That little stunt may have failed, but your headache subsides quickly enough.

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< You’re good, you’re good! >>

But he’s already on your six.

????
<< Pitiful. >>

Jackpot
<< Wizard, look out! >>

>EVASION REVERSAL (Roll against GM, GM Roll+6, 1d20)
>EVASION (DC: 10)
>>
Rolled 7 (1d20)

>>4583599
>EVASION (DC: 10)
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>4583599
>EVASION (DC: 10)
>>
Rolled 15 (1d20)

Let's see how the GM's luck is today, just for kicks.
>>
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You roll left, diving for the cloud line as the fighter runs in pursuit; if nothing else, your showboating keeps their attentions off the King’s craft. The alert is practically screaming in your ear as you flip the nose from down to up, hitting the throttle for all she’s worth as you pull up, going practically ballistic as the fighter tries to cut you off. To the neutral spectator, you must look like an amateur juking his plane wildly without a semblance of control, but you couldn’t afford to return to anything resembling a recognizable pattern … not when you were up against a pilot that could snipe you could from a dead angle on a turn.

????
<< Textbook. >>

Symphony 02, Elaine
<< Keep ‘em guessing, Wizard! >>

He overshoots.

You turn …

>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 12, 1d20)
>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (+2) (DC: 16, 1d20)
>>
>>4583611
If you guys want to ever deploy your PSYCO bonuses, just mention it in your responses.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>4583611
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 12, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>4583611
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 12, 1d20)

pls no f-rank luck
>>
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Elaine
<< Damn it! >>

You let out a curse as he spins off your sights. Jackpot cuts in between the both of you to give you some breathing room, but the unknown fighter twists around both your defences easily, breaking away from your tag team. A glance below as you go vertical gives you reprieve: the King was well on his way out of the immediate combat area, but only for as long as the both of you could hold off this monstrosity. You’d never seen anything like this plane before; it seemed to respond to thought and conjecture more than it did input.

But it wasn’t without flaws. You’d forced an unwitting stalemate, even in your failure. Your Flight Leader’s craft tries to catch it from underneath as you take a more direct, horizontal route, keeping your eye on the target and pushing Elaine for all she’s worth.

Elaine
<< You got this, partner! >>

You can hear the whine of the ailerons and rudders as the F-15’s chassis breaks the very air …

Roll for Initiative (DC: 13)
>Use PSYCO (+3) [1d20]
>Use Hunting+Engagement (+4) [1d20]
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>4583618
>Use Hunting+Engagement (+4) [1d20]
9 or better please.
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>4583618
>>Use Hunting+Engagement (+4) [1d20]

pls be better
>>
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You’re not about to let him out of your sight: not this time. The craft’s turning is a lot better than yours, but at this velocity, aerodynamics were a complete and utter bitch. Elaine’s frame screams as you pull on the throttle; you can feel your head sinking into the chair as your joystick becomes akin to a handlebar you’re clinging on to dear life.

Symphony 02, Elaine
<< Come on, Wizard! Come on! Two seconds … one second … >>

You twist.

He blinks first.

????
<< What in the— >>

You’re inverted, rolling off the effects of the G force as his craft decelerates past a nimbus cloud, your hands rattling as you grip the throttle an accelerate.

Jackpot
<< Get his ass, Wizard! >>

He banks at four o’clock. You follow through, the sight of his craft barely touching the tip of your HUD.

Elaine
<< Let’s wash this sucker, partner! >>

>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*
>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (+2) (DC: 14, 1d20)*

*Why did the DC drop? For Quest Continuity sake. DC decreases by 2 for both parties for every “stalemate” reached, but only for the Hunting/Engagement phases. Rest assured, this applies to the GM just as much as you.
>>
Rolled 10 (1d20)

>>4583625
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>4583625
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*

gotta avenge our guys
>>
>>4583629
>Rolling after achieving average required
This is 5 trillion IQ move right here ... I'm going to bed. Maybe someone will save your ass in the morning. I just have to sleep this fact off.
>>
Rolled 1 (1d20)

>>4583625
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>4583625
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*
best luck ever
>>
Rolled 16 (1d20)

>>4583625
>>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*
>>
Rolled 3 (1d20)

>>4583625
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)

Seeing as the average is 9 atm here's hoping this fixes that
>>
Nope, guess we're fucked. Don't roll if the average is already met oof
>>
>>4583629
Haha. This roll literally snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It's priceless.
>>
Rolled 13 (1d20)

>>4583625
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*
dab
>>
Rolled 14 (1d20)

>>4583625
>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) (DC: 10, 1d20)*

Probably too late but may as well try
>>
>>4583915
>>4583928
Well, well, these two have swooped in and saved the day. You lads pass the check. Typing it up.
>>
>>4583866
Pla sont bully me and my smooth brain that much
>>
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The enemy fighter is faster than your own craft, more well-equipped and with superior parameters in turning and climbing … but there was no rule that victory was ironclad on mere superiority.

????
<< Looks like there’s a predator amongst you after all … >>

Inverted, the unknown jet makes a roll for the clouds. At the first sign of the juke, you pull back and twist yourself into a direct intercept course, climbing and diving within seconds of the first movement. Your skull is heavy on your shoulders, but your eyes are sharp and focused, what was once a blur slowly carving itself into an impressionable shape through the vapour and sunlight. The enemy attempts to shake you off with another spin, but you hit the breaks, blasting your craft into a diagonal cut before regaining control just before a blackout is all but imminent, shoving the thrusters into maximum output as you dive right in on his wing, hoping to clip him into making a mistake.

No such luck.

But you do well enough.

????
<< Insect … >>

His recovery is spoiled by the lining up of his craft right in your sights … right as he dives in an attempt to escape a clean strike, off your HUD and fully vertical towards the ocean surface. You roll and dive, your craft inverted as the both of race for the dark of the horizon, your controls shaking violently as you push Elaine to her very limits.

Jackpot
<< Get his ass, Wizard! >>

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< Come on, Wizard, come on … just a little more … >>

He’s pulling ahead.

????
<< Give up. You won’t hold. >>

Your teeth rattle in your mouth. The plane is barely holding itself together …

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< You can do it, partner! Just a little bit more! >>

>ROLL FOR HUNTING (+2) [DC: 11]
>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (+2) [DC:11]
>>
>>4584228
Engagement needs our rolls to average to 9 (or 6 if we go PSYCHO). This looks like a good chance.

I suggest we go Engagement with PSYCHO.
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>4584228
>>ROLL FOR ENGAGEMENT (+2) [DC:11]
>>
>>4584233
Jesus we don't even need Psycho with this, nobody else roll.
>>
>>4584233
NO ONE ELSE ROLL
>>
>>4584233
No more rolls. Just support this post.
>>
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Symphony 04, Elaine
<< I got tow! >>

>Roll for PSYCO Limiter Recover (DC: 11, 1d20)
>>
>>4584228
Not a roll, but is this guy Crimson 1's son or something?
>>
Rolled 8 (1d20)

>>4584243
>>
Rolled 11 (1d20)

>>4584243
GET DABBED ON BITCH
>>
>>4584247
Supporting and no one else roll
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>4584243
>>
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>>4584244
N-No, what gave you that idea?
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>
>>4584250
More importantly is this crimson 1’s daughter though
>>
>>4584250
I could never forget a guy like him, even if he didn't ask to be remembered. Plus there was a female member of his squadron, so there's that.
>>
>>4584266
>>Write-In
>give her a fist bump back.
>>
>>4584267
Supporting, we're too strained after that to say much.
>>
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????
<< No. >>

Yes.

You hit the brakes on half a turn. The enemy fighter cuts past your canopy and right past your wing, but you’re conscious enough to decelerate and allow him to level; as advanced as his fighter is, this was still a world bound by rules, physics, that would not be ignored. Elaine’s frame groans as you feel a cramp in your neck, threatening to take you into oblivion; the enemy fighter gasps as you go vertical as he attempts to mimic your own turn. The PSYCO system had hit the safety limits moments after the lock, but Elaine’s assistance is more than enough.

He’s right on the tip of your nose.

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< Symphony Four … FOX TWO! >>

You release the AMRAAM pod.

He recovers in time … but the acceleration that follows isn’t quick enough. In a panic, the enemy pilot goes vertical, kicking a dead angle off and launching towards the sun in a climb to outrun your salvo of projectiles. For a moment, you find yourself impressed by the pilot’s sheer ability to out-pace your strike, but your awe is brief.

After all, no sense being too impressed when you expected it in the first place.

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< Sayonara. >>

Her lock alert rings like bells on a Sunday morning.

????
<< Ah … >>

The buzz of your cannon tears through the right side of the craft’s chassis, right through the engine. You claim half a wing and two thirds of rudder, rising in triumph as the grey fighter’s carcass plummets in a prone spiral, your engines roaring in victory.

Jackpot
<< Holy shit, Wizard that was some flying! >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< This is Cinder Lord; we’re a-okay on this end. Hot damn, son, what are they feeding you at Amaterasu? >>

Elaine grins widely, placing her hands on her hips.

Elaine
<< That’s my partner! >>

She holds up a holographic fist, an expectant glow in her eyes.

>Write-In
>Stay Silent
>>
>>4584267
>>4584269
You can re-vote if you want. Sorry, Formatting error; but you can stick with this if you wish.
>>
>>4584271
SHOOT THE PLANE/PARACHUTE WITH GUNS
>>
>>4584271
>Give her a fist bump.
>>
>>4584271
>Write-In
>give her a fist bump back.
>>
>>4584277
Supporting again.
>>
>>4584277
lets do this
>>
>>4584271
Fist bump the Lil Lady, and maybe ask how everyone else is doing, specifically the peeps that actually got shot up by Knock Off Crimson
>>
>>4584282
Changing my vote to this
>>
>>4584271
>>Write in
>remove your breathing mask or something then give her a glinting smile/sunlight reflects on your visors
>>
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You hold up a trembling, gloved hand before forming it into a fist … and push it against your F-15’s avatar. There’s no resistance—as expected—but the gesture elicits a warm, if melancholic, smile from the red-headed personification of your craft, who turns her attention back to your current priorities. You follow suit, glancing to your right, catching a glimpse of—

Nothing.

Elaine
<< Everyone … >>

You and Jackpot were the only ones left.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< I’m sorry about your men. >>

Elaine hangs her head, biting her bottom lip as she struggles with her words.

Jackpot
<< There’s nothing to be sorry about. They did their duty … to the end. All of them. There’ll be time to honour the lost. Right now … let’s just get you back on solid ground, Your Highness. >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< I … very well. >>

Silence reigns over the comms as all of you join in the mourning of your lost comrades. Hand on the throttle and head resting against the cushion of your seat, you close your eyes and allow Elaine to take full control of the craft, banking and forming up alongside Jackpot’s VX-23. You pull up and form a two-man escort with the King’s airliner, the VX-23 taking its place on the tip of the King’s left wing while you take your place within the King’s direct line of sight, the airliner’s cockpit visible with a glance over your shoulder.

[reed]Jackpot
<< Wizard, did you get an ID on that fighter? >>

>State that you’d never seen its make before
>State that it was unmarked
>State that you don’t know and you don’t think you ever want to get close enough for the opportunity to ever again
>State that you think you’re impressed by its design and capabilities
>Reply in the negatory
>Write-In
>>
>>4584350
>>Write-In
Say that it looks like some kind of next generation prototype plane most likely stolen
>>
>>4584350
>>Write-In
>state that it had to be something experimental as you dont know of any other plane that could perform such high end turn in quick succession with out turning the pilots brain into paste. Not even the ones from the Cascadian Conflict.
>>
>>4584350
>Write-In
>State that we've never seen anything like it before, and that if there were any markings, Elaine should have good images of them in the mission recorder.
>>
all these write-ins are good so why not wombo combo them all into one
>>
>>4584350
>>Reply in the negatory
Thank goodness my Satoshi Houjo headcanon lookalike didn't get canned by the devil
>>
>>4584358
Agreed
>>
>>4584358
Something like
>State that it was likely a next-generation prototype or testbed, possibly stolen, as it seemed to out perform even the PW-Mk1. Hopefully Elaine has some solid images saved if it had any markings.
>>
>>4584368
yep thats what im going for
>>
>>4584350
>>4584355
Supporting

Also my moneys on it being like the butterfly master from ac infinity.
>>
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Jackpot
<< Geez, and I thought you were the strong silent type. Still … you’re right. We should have enough data to bring back to the tech heads, but if that was a prototype … who did it belong to? >>

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< You’re saying that as though our line of work is one bereft of enemies. >>

That was true enough. Between Amaterasu and the Kingdom of Orleas, it wasn’t a stretch to conclude that there were a number keen to kill two birds with one stone. In a way, they had three of the five of the King’s escort had bought it in the encounter, lost to the skies: Conductor, Ebony, Ivory … all taken in a flash. You’d experienced loss before; more than you cared to admit, but the frightening ease of that craft’s ability to dismantle a whole flight of AI-enhanced aircraft on top of the veterans and aces that manned them … your considerations of that being the future of warfare, that derisive detachment of dispatching foes that would be revered otherwise was something that reared its ugly head a little too quickly for you to get comfortable with.

Jackpot
<< All the more reason that we get you to the conference as quickly as possible. >>

Four blips appear on edge of your RADAR.

????
<< Cinder Lord, this is the Commander Musa of the United Southern Sphere Navy. We received your Mayday. What is your status? >>

You almost roll your eyes at their absolutely impeccable timing.

Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< Commander Musa, this is— >>

A beam of light cuts through the air, not ten feet away from singing the tip of your plane’s wing. The air shakes, and so does your plane. You pull up, decelerating as an alert rings through the cockpit, spinning to avoid what seemed to be pieces of red hot debris. Yells fill the comms as your plane enters a brief, flat spin … before accelerating on the command of its avatar. You grunt in pain as you feel your plane going vertical, before levelling itself out again … before looking to your right in abject horror as the King’s airliner is carved into pieces by a series of colourful, white-hot pillars of light. Jackpot is yelling something, but you can’t make out what … until an energy reading on your RADAR—previously undetected—prompts your instincts to take control … and you roll right out of the way of what you now recognize to be a …

Commander Musa
<< Cinder Lord, do you read? Cinder Lord? >>

A dark blue blur slices into existence from out of the corner of your eye, cutting through the hull with one last blast before seemingly vanishing into the sun.

????
<< Target eliminated. >>

It’s not the same voice as before.

>Write-In
>>
>>4584441
>Inform Commander Musa that Cinder Lord is down and begin attempting to see if you can locate the unknown plane
>>
>>4584442
Supporting
>>
>>4584443
also this
>>
>>4584442
supporting
>>
>>4584442
>>4584443
>>4584446
>>4584449
You lads mind if I take a nap? I'm exhausted.
>>
>>4584450
don't mind
>>
>>4584450
take a rest dude
>>
>>4584450
Sleep if you need it
>>
>>4584441
>>4584442
Supporting.

Just curious, at what time of the day do you typically run?
>>
>>4584462
Any time I can. I typically leave the prompts open these days as I don't have much time to myself anymore, but if you're asking Time Zones, GMT+8. I live in Langkawi, Malaysia.
>>
>>4584498
With the A.I in our aircraft what kind of manoeuvres can we pull off? Insane tier shit or something at least within the purviews of physics?
Or is this level of shit on the table?
https://youtu.be/nP-P4IYLJWY?t=59
How much does the A.I compensate for the pilot?
>>
File: Go Home, Merc.gif (998 KB, 360x270)
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Cinder Lord, Pilot
<< That voice … you … yes … this would be the outcome, wouldn’t it? Farewell. >>

The fireball hits the sea with such heat and force that for a moment, you find your sight clouded by a mushroom cloud of steam. You circle the area, staring in horror at shower of debris crashing in to follow the bulk of what could only be wreckage.

Commander Musa
<< Ya Allah, the King of Orleas … he’s … >>

You find frustration and despair giving in to rage within seconds of surveying burning, floating wreckage. As Commander Musa’s declaration bleeds into memory, you regain control of the craft, locking in to the rapidly-dissipating heat signature, arming your weapons as you give the declaration of pursuit.

Commander Musa
<< Unknown plane? Pursuit? Who is this? >>

Your thrusters burst into life as you key in your bearings, climbing the sky. Rambling under your breath, you find yourself breaching the very edges of your sanity and self-control, your temper morphing into obsession with the singular bead on top of you. The four beads of Commander Musa’s craft disappear within moments, your head wildly shaking in search of that dark blue blur …

And you find it.

Symphony 04, Elaine
<< I see him, Wizard! >>

So do you: ten o’clock high.

Your weapons primed, you give the F-15 all she’s worth, cutting across in an attempt to get the craft within your sights. It’s fast; just as fast as the last one … but if they were the same, if their pilots were as mortal as their machines transcended convention and sense, they weren’t without weakness. The craft flies in a predictable zip, as if—

????
<< You must be the one who took down my wingman. >>

The voice is more distinct now; it’s feminine, neutral … dangerous, contemplative.

A grunt escapes you as your carelessness has you rewarded with a sharp decrease in visibility, your eyes shifting between suspended water droplets and the sun’s glaring beams. You return to your instruments, hissing in frustration as you catch a second glimpse of the dark blue craft, rolling into the thundercloud and receiving an array of warnings for your impulsive decision. Another glance at your collective sensors and Elaine communicates the rapidly-dissipating signature of the railgun’s prior activation, but after everything that had happened, you weren’t about to hit the brakes.

Not after today.

Your eardrums swell with the sudden banking of the plane, going into an inverted dive as you catch yourself within striking distance of—

Elaine
<< Wizard! Four o’clock high! >>

You hit the brakes.

????
<< Mission’s over, sell-sword. Turn around. >>

>Write-In
>>
>>4584536
Insane tier shit sounds about right.
>How much does the AI compensate?
Depends on the pilot's rating and familiarity between AI and pilot. You're top of the class (Wizard), at your class, Elaine knows how much more you can take and how much you need, based on your flying habits.
>>
>>4584545
>Why give me the option in the first place?
>>
>>4584545
Wait a minute why am I not using this chance to channel Pixy.
>Fire away coward!
>>
>>4584634
I second this
>>
>>4584634
why the hell not, lets do this
>>
Now remember, if she misses her shot immediately respond with "Try again from head on!", and then joust a plane with a railgun. It will either be absolutely amazing or absolutely terrible.
>>
>>4584645
the fact that we are saying pixy's lines against this ace makes me happy
>>
>>4584634
Supporting this I guess, I can't find a way to do much else but dodge and taunt.
>>
>>4584634
Supporting this and adding on to try and ram them with the plane
>>
>>4584803
Please do not damage Elaine by playing fighter jet chicken
>>
>>4584685
Are you all gay or something??
Save Pixy's lines for the Final Boss, or at the very least, the Mid-Boss! Not for this!
>>
>>4584839
Narrative tension demands that this be a final or mid boss. Enemy kills all our allies and our objective, then taunts/scares us off so that we live to fight another day only for us to come back and kill them later. Just expediting things this way.
>>
>>4584620
I'm supporting this
Some retarded people tempting fate here to make us look like a faggot in front of the future yandere waifu when we come back from this loss with neverending victories.
>>
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Her laugh sounds genuinely … amused, if a little tinged by incredulity.

????
<< I’m sorry. Unlike my associate, I was raised to leave well enough alone. >>

You’re undeterred by her dismissiveness, diving and accelerating to get her within your sights … but immediately find that she’s out of lock-on range. Piercing the clouds, you level your plane and spot the blue craft bursting into its own accelerative phase, cracking a velocity that you immediately move to keep pace with.

But as fast as the F-15 was, in a straight line and out of immediate engagement radius, she …

????
<< Besides, don’t you have more immediate issues to tend to? >>

Immediate iss—

The lock-on warning blares through your senses.

Two F-14s appear on your RADAR.

Commander Musa
<< This is Commander Musa of the Ibis Unit. Unidentified F-15, you are to safety-lock your weapons and turn around; failure to comply will have your status be taken as a belligerent … and we will blow you right out of the sky. Our SAAs are primed on your current position; do not test us. >>

Elaine’s avatar whirls around, staring up at you in concern.

Elaine
<< Wizard … >>

The comms come to life again.

Jackpot
<< Stand down, Wizard! Stand down! Do as the Commander says; turn around and follow them back to the mainland. I’ll see you when we touch down. Safety-lock your weapons and follow their escort. No need to make the worst of a shitty situation. >>

Commander Musa
<< Excuse me, I’m talking— >>

Jackpot
<< Shut up! Just shut up! I’m doing just as much for your sake as I am his! Wizard … turn around. >>

You ease on the throttle … and flick the safeties on, hanging your head and resting your elbows on your knees as Elaine takes control of the craft at the relinquishment of your own. Raising your head, you’re greeted by the sight of the sun resting into its evening arc, an orange glow both radiant and haunting. The unknown blue blur, true to form, is gone from your sight. Whether through the clouds or over the horizon … you find that you don’t care.

You’d failed.

????
<< Be seeing you, sell-sword. >>

You grit your teeth, slamming your fist onto the console.

Elaine
<< Wizard … >>

It’s not long before the F-14s are right on top of you, taking positions at your four and seven.

United Southern Sphere Navy Pilot
<< You’ll be coming with us, sir. >>

Nodding, you sit upright and grip the controls … and follow them, to whatever fate that awaited.

CHAPTER COMPLETE
>>
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=][=PRIMARY MISSION COMPLETE=][=

====================
EXPERIENCE SCREEN
====================


CURRENT EXP HELD: 36
You have received Experience Points! Choose where to allocate them:
Hunting Lv. 2 (8 Experience to Level 3, additional 12 EXP to Level 4)
>New Abilities at: 3, 6, 10, 15
Evasion Lv. 1 (5 Experience to Level 2, additional 8 EXP to Level 3, additional 12 EXP to Level 4)
>New Abilities at 3, 6, 10, 15
Engagement Lv. 2 (8 Experience to Level 3, additional 12 EXP to Level 4)
>New Abilities at 3, 6, 10, 15

PSYCO EXP Gained: 52 EXP
PSYCO Level 4!
Old Modifier: +3
New Modifier: +4
PSYCO Level 5!
Old Limit DC: 11
New Limit DC: 10
PSYCO Level 6!
Old Modifier: +4
New Modifier: +5

You have reached PSYCO Level 6!

Level 3 (Choose):
>Upgrade 1 current ability
>Unlock 1 locked ability (Left: 1)
Level 6 (Choose):
>Upgrade 1 current ability
>Unlock 1 locked ability (If any left)

CurrentPSYCOAbilities (Level 6; 18 to next level)
Modifiers: +5 on activation
Limit DC: 10
>Acrobat Lv. 1 (+1 to Evasion)
>Multi-Lock Lv. 1 (May lock onto up to 2 extra targets)
>Relentless Lv. 1 (May roll again if fail Hunting/Initiative at DC+1)
>????

>Allocate points to proceed
>>
>>4585179
just a suggestion as im waiting for consensus

we can lvl all our skills to 3 and have 7 exp left over

as for elaine, we can unlock her last skill and just make relentless lvl 2
>>
>>4585179
lets get all the skills to lvl 3 so we have a solid foundation to start with and unlick the skill for Psycho lvl 3 and upgrade Relentless for lvl 6
>>
What does relentless even look like at lvl 2? Is it roll again at the DC instead?
>>
>>4585195
Seconding
>>
>>4585179
Ok, takes us from 36 exp down to 7 exp to get main abilities to lvl 3 for all, which is a good investment I think. For the lvl 3 and 6 PSYCO upgrades/unlocks, I'd recommend unlocking that last unknown ability just to see what it is, and then upgrading relentless. This plan sound good?
>>
Wait shit someone literally already posted the same exact plan nvm
>>
>>4585195
>>4585219

Sounds good to me.
>>
>unidentified super-plane assrapes the mercs and kills a high-value target
>Musa threatens to shoot down the mercs instead of letting the merc kill the insane superplane
Yeah, my money's on Musa, his Unit, or his fucking country being the assholes being this shit.
Anyway, good quest OP
>>
>>4585229
They can't see the plane. Even you couldn't see the plane until it fired its railgun and let out a heat signature.
>>
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=============================
EXPERIENCE SCREEN [UPDATED]
=============================

CURRENT EXP HELD: 7
Evasion Lv. 3 (20 to next level)
-Feint (You can choose to roll against the GM [1d20] instead of the DC for the EVASION phase [Not Evasion Reversal])

Hunting Lv. 3 (20 to next level)
-Eagle Eye (If successful during your first Initiative of the mission, roll 1d20 against the GM. Deal one phase of damage/take one kill, then proceed through the mission as normal)

Engagement Lv. 3 (20 to next level)
-Textbook (+1 to Engagement roll after if the initial Initiative roll of the encounter was a failure)

F-15 “Elaine”
Unlocked new PSYCO ability: Vengeance Lv. 1

PSYCO LEVEL: 6
Modifiers: +5 on activation
Limit DC: 10
>Acrobat Lv. 1 (+1 to Evasion)
>Multi-Lock Lv. 1 (May lock up to 2 extra targets)
>Relentless Lv. 2 (May roll again if Hunting/Initiative fails at DC-1)
>Vengeance Lv. 1 (After a failed evasion or evasion reversal, may roll a 1d20, DC:16 at Lv. 1; kill attacking enemy(s))

=][=MECHANIC FORGOT AGAIN=][=
Very important note: you unlock new abilities at 3, 6, 10 and 15 for your normal levels, but be warned that you only have 8 (7 at first, but Mech fucked up so you get 1 extra) slots of abilities to fit in, so while you can unlock all 3 first skills, as you level up, you will use up the remaining slots as they unlock. You still get the bonuses for each stat as you level them up, but it’s first come first serve. You stop levelling up your normal stats once you have unlocked 8 slots So some of you may have something like this in mind:

Hunting (Lv. 15)
>Ability 1
>Ability 2
>Ability 3
>Ability 4
Evasion (Lv. 6)
>Ability 1
>Ability 2
Engagement (Lv. 6)
>Ability 1
>Ability 2

So, 8 slots okay?
>Please respond to this post
>>
>>4585252
yea that sounds good, so we're at 3/8 slots used right?
>>
>>4585258
That's my understanding, I think, but he's showing 8 slots, and each "skill" seems to have a number of abilities under it so it may be that each skill has a number of abilities associated with it. Do I have the right of it, Mech?
>>
>>4585252
I don't suppose you'd be willing to tell us what the new abilities are for the subsequent level unlocks so that we may figure out a build that we like instead of running in blind? Also just to make sure, in this system there is no functional difference between say hunting level 3 and hunting level 4, the difference only kicks in at level 6, correct?
>>
Ah crap forgot to ask what our planes livery was.
>>
Ok nvm to the earlier post, didn't notice the
>You still get the bonuses for each stat as you level them up, but it’s first come first serve.

That being said, would that mean the optimal path of progression would be to, using the build posted as an example, instead level up Hunting to level 14, then level Evasion and Engagement to level 9, and then top off the 8 slots by leveling Hunting to 15, allowing for maximum stat gains?
>>
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>>4585294
You'll be issued a new one/make your own. This one is just to set the stage. If you're still wondering, the default is an angel with a harp.
>>
>>4585269
Each skill (Hunting, Evasion and Engagement) has 4 abilities tied to it. We can only unlock 8 of those 12 abilities. Once we unlock our 8th Ability we can no longer improve our normal stats.

In theory, we can either unlock 4 abilities for 1 skill and 2 for the others (4/2/2), 3 abilities for 2 skills and 2 abilities for 1 (3/2/2).

Max skill ranks we can seemingly get is 15/9/9 or 14/10/9 but that requires delaying our final skill purchase until we have or skills at 14/9/9. Do it wrong and we can end up as low as 10/10/6.
>>
>>4585269
What >>4585310 said, pretty much.
>>
>>4585310
>3 abilities for 2 skills and 2 abilities for 1 (3/2/2).
Woops that should be 3/3/2
>>
Sweet so 15/9/9 is possible, just have to remember to save the 15th level for last.
>>4585301
Alright boys, time to do livery ala ace combat dlc idol livery except with Elaine. Absolutely NOTHING will go wrong
>>
>>4585329
>inb4 its just a large pair of tits
>>
>>4585329
This seems pretty clean, has black wings and she's fully clothed, she is our partner and she should agree with what others will see of her outside the cockpit
>>
>>4585329
Considering that the default unit livery is an angel with a harp, I'd say the new unit livery after this disaster should be a black winged angel with a broken harp.

>>4585342
Great nose cone pinup piece.
>>
Testing, 1 2 3
>>
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Compared to what followed, your week in the custody of the United Southern Sphere was a godsend.

With the death of their monarch, the Orleasian Kingdom’s unofficial pact with Amaterasu Defence and Security had been reduced to ashes. The King’s position as the company’s most public supporter of the company’s continual advancements in defence technology, artificial intelligence and new generation systems had backfired on Amaterasu, as in death, he had now become the most prominent exhibit against them. The ministers and officials of the nation sought retribution, and Amaterasu’s role in the King’s death turned what was once a salient ally into a most bitter foe. Committees, panels, courts … Amaterasu came under siege from all sides, finding where there were once smiles, promises and declarations of a future of co-operation, were hateful cries and dismissive juries. Unable to hold back the tide of outrage, Amaterasu did the only thing big, faceless corporations ultimately did when their fact sheets, charts and suits didn’t appease.

They offered a sacrificial lamb.

You.

Your incompetence had cost the lives of good men and billions in research.

Your inattentiveness had resulted in the death of a nation’s beacon for a brighter future.

Your recklessness jeopardized what should have been routine and mere ceremony.

You’re not sure who was more surprised when the gavel came down and you were remanded into the custody of the Orleasians: Amaterasu or the Orleasians themselves, but they got their pound of meat. By the time you were in chains, there were more murmurs than accusations, but they wheeled you away, regardless. In times of grief and loss, people had a tendency to build the foundations of blame on what was the most tangible.

All of the good that did.

The loss of the Orleasian monarch didn’t just affect the relationship of Amaterasu and the Kingdom. The failure of the Asarian Conference due to his absence—and the circumstances behind it—had confidence in the company hitting rock bottom in the market. Amaterasu was still a business … and without that confidence, investors pulled out in droves; contracts cut, associations severed. The PMC, once so revered, Over the following months, the company became a black hole of debt and unfulfilled promises, selling itself off, piece by piece: a fat carcass for ravenous scavengers and eager rivals.

Elaine and the rest of the AI R&D were among the first snatched up, taken to a fate unknown.

It is now the seventh month of your incarceration on the north-western coast of the Orleasian Kingdom. While you were made the face of the Kingdom’s tragedy, an appeal on your sentence—with regard to your mercenary status—took away their ability to do to you as they truly wished.
>>
You have The Intermediary to thank for that.

Instead, you now reside on the north-western tip of the Orleasian Kingdom, an ankle monitor and routine, daily check-ups by duos and trios of hateful gentlemen who you know would love nothing more than for the protocols to be done away with for five minutes. This is your life now, watching the sun set on an empty beach, civilization a glance away, but ultimately out of your grasp. You sit, you stand … and you wonder what you could have done. It is all you can do.


It’s evening. Today’s check-up was actually a lot better than the ones before. For one, they didn’t spit in your meals in front of your face before handing it over to you. You laze in the decade-old armchair, staring in a daze out into the ocean. There’s one bed off to your right, made tightly and neatly. In fact, the room is spic and span … as it always is. Without much to do, you’d resorted to picking up the broom every once in a while to make the place more liveable.

There were guards all around, of course, despite the rather open state of your prison. They couldn’t very well hang you as things were … but shooting a prisoner attempting an escape? Perfectly reasonable response.

That was probably why they arranged for this in the first place.

No. That was why they’d arranged it this way.

Freedom beckoned you. Common sense dictated your actions.

You glance at the clock; it wasn’t dinner time yet … and you weren’t hungry. Perhaps a little nap could—

KNOCK! KNOCK!

‘Hello?’

>Answer the door
>Ignore it
>>
>>4585600
>Answer the door
Considering that they didn't just open the Door, or begin by ordering us around they are likely here to give us an offer, we may not be able, or want to refuse. Elaine may have managed to use the on board data recorded during the flight for her 'new' owners to request us by name or something.
>>
>>4585600
>>Answer the door

there are many doors ed-boy
>>
>>4585600
>Answer the door
>>
>>4585600
>Answer the door
>>
Two men stand in your doorway.

One of them is around your height but of a leaner build, clad in a bomber jacket that’s seen better days. The other man comes up to your eye level in height, in possession of a high hairline, his crown combed neatly and his suit immaculately pressed. You glance up and down the two strangers before peering past them and noticing the expensive sedan lying in your doorway … and the two guards that stood on either end of the two wide steps heading down from your shack.

‘May we come in?’ the shorter man inquires, nodding his head slightly as he adopted an anticipatory stance, one hand over the other.

The other man merely offers a small smile, a curious glint in his eye.

>Write-In
>>
>>4585691
>>Write-In

allow them in and offer them to sit in our sofa (i guess we have one) and ask them if they would like a glass of water

we may have been incarcerated but we still are polite
>>
>>4585693
Supported
>>
>>4585691
>>Write-In
Ask who are they and what do they need
>>
>>4585693
Supporting, doesn't make sense to antagonize people in a situation like ours.
>>
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They both decline your offer as you shut the door behind you, eyeing them with suspicion as they both appear to survey your current living conditions. The tall one is especially curious, flipping the cheap linen and running a hand over your neatly made bed and short curtains with an oddly satisfied snort, right before the suited man takes his place in the middle of your room, right under the ceiling fan. He returns to his previous stance, staring straight at you with a pair of rigid, brown eyes, betraying neither emotion nor intention.

‘I’m from the Orleasian Foreign Office,’ he starts, ‘or should I say, I’m currently on loan from The Intermediary to the Orleasian Foreign Office.’

You don’t say a word, but you do relax your own stance on the two men present.

‘I’ve been working on your case the last few months and … well, as things stand, there aren’t many avenues that the Foreign Office has been able to explore in regards to your release. While in normal circumstances we would be able to relinquish asylum, the state of your … or rather, your lack of an established identity, a state has given us some trouble in pushing anything through. As far as the bureaucracy is concerned, you belong to no one. No nation. You’re a cipher.’

Neither of you miss the amused chuckle from the taller man at the last word.

>Ask why the Foreign Office is even helping you in the first place.
>Question why is he here to just tell you what you didn’t need telling in the first place.
>Thank them for your time, ask them to leave
>Write-In
>>
>>4585737
>Ask why the Foreign Office is even helping you in the first place.
>>
>>4585737
>>Ask why the Foreign Office is even helping you in the first place.
>>
>>4585737
>>Ask why the Foreign Office is even helping you in the first place.
>>
‘Because you and I both know you don’t belong here.’

You blink … speechless.

>Write-In
>Stay silent
>>
>>4585749
>>Stay silent

lets let them do the talking first because we need more info
>>
>>4585753
+1
>>
>>4585749
supporting
>>
>>4585749
>Stay silent
>>
>>4585749
>>Write-In
Say i know i belong in the skies
>>
>>4585749
>>Stay silent
>>
>>4585749
>>4585753
I'd say stay silent but gesture for him to continue
>>
‘You were just the most convenient thing to pile the blame on. Granted, there is some measure of responsibility that I do place on you in this tragedy, but you’re neither the murderer nor the mastermind … and from a more personal perspective, I despise the deliberately wasteful allocation of available resources.’

His expression doesn’t change, even after all that. In fact, you’re not sure if it even had the capacity to change. The monotone voice, the stiff body language … compared to Elaine, this human being of flesh and blood was a robotic cut-out. Throughout the man’s monologue, his partner remains silent, if a little sunny, peering out the windows and towards the township across the cove, giving small nods of approval in what you can only assume to be the (admittedly picturesque) view.

With the reigning silence, you can only assume that the former is done with his words and awaiting your response.

>Write-In
>Ask them to leave
>Stay Silent
>>
>>4586124
>>Write-In
>ask him what he wants from you.
>>
>>4586124
>So what would be your preferred method of allocation for this wasted resource?
>>
>>4586124
>Is this the part where you tell me that you can get me back into the air?

Probably reviewed our flight cam footage, used us as a convenient scapegoat and now gets to pose as a savior of sorts, or at least the guy who gets us out of our prison. They get a good pilot and have a leash.
>>
>>4586124
>>4586128
Supporting
There's an obvious reason they'd come visit a 'forcibly retired' pilot who is one of two surviving from an experimental program involving A.I and multi-million dollar aircraft.
>>
>>4586128
>>4586142
This'll work.
>>
File: Did You Know ....png (256 KB, 606x444)
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The suited man gives a slight smile, bobbing his head so stiffly that you wonder if it moved at all.

‘That’s not my pitch to make.’

He sighs as he moves past you, taking slow, deliberate strides towards your front door, leaving you alone with the lanky, jacketed man that seemed more interested in the make of your faded curtains than he did engaging with you. You uncomfortably shift your weight from foot to foot, expectant and … impatient. Your guest, in turn, shuffles from the dresser to the window, mumbling sounds of awe with every glance outside the window, and with his back to you, allowing you glance at the shoulder patch on his left: a fiery red hound wrapped in chains, poised to attack.

‘Did you know … that there are three kinds of aces?

>Write-In
>State you don’t care
>Stay Silent
>>
>>4586208
>Those that are untouchable in the sky. Those that are predatious in the kill. And those that build their name on the bodies of the defeated.
>>
>>4586208
>Write-In
>Repeat the mantra, it's fairly common among mercs
>>
>>4586208
THOSE WHO LIVE FOR PRIDE, THOSE WHO CAN READ THE TIDE OF BATTLE AND THOSE WHO SEEK STRENGTH
But you're looking for someone above that caliber, no?
>>
>>4586210
I like this one
>>
>>4586210
kinda makes it a bit our own rather than a carbon copy of AC0
>>4586213
I think this should be added on as a bit of extra like saying 'every merc knows that'
>>
The man cocks eyebrow before releasing a whimsical sigh and … seating himself on the chair that you’d just rested on not too long before he and his friend had arrived.

Whoever he was, he clearly had no respect for boundaries.

‘And somehow you’re all three,’ he concludes, his tone relaxed and cynical in the same rhythm. ‘We saw the footage. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t seen better flying but I’d also be lying if I said that I could count it off more times than I had fingers on one hand.’

You can tell that he’s easing himself into a point.

He offers a diplomatic smile, grizzled yet … kind eyes looking up at you with an almost familial warmth to them.

>Keep your silence and allow him to finish
>Prompt him to hurry up before it turns into a spiel
>Write-In
>>
>>4586242
>>Keep your silence and allow him to finish
>>
>>4586242
>>Keep your silence and allow him to finish
No sense in being bitter about our current lot in life and take the hand that seems to be reaching down to use to pull us back into the sky.
>>
>>4586248
Seconding, we've got nothing but time as well.
>>
>>4586242
>Keep your silence and allow him to finish
>>
>>4586242
Let Larry talk.
>>
Man, we're really mashing some world's up into this soup aren't we now?

This gon be fun
>>
‘You’re quite the pilot,’ he continues, raising his hands in a manner that you recognize as a crude recreation of an air-to-air dogfight. ‘Catching a more agile fighter at a dead angle, even with an AI assist, is no easy feat. Most of the pilots I know would be blowing chunks trying to flip a disadvantage while pinned from an inferior position. I never would have thought of using a pod release to bait the enemy into a split to catch them in a joust, never mind at the risk of weaving through their own missiles.’

He swings his hands, one over the other, in his own interpretation of your cross-over against the unknown fighter. You uncomfortably rub your own shoulder, unwilling to interrupt … and less than eager to re-live the incident. Despite all that you’d pulled, the thing that you most recalled was just how abrupt, how simply, your Squadron had been picked apart. You can still hear Ebony and Ivory arguing over the comms and Conductor chastising the both of them for not acting the role of seasoned mercenaries and flight jockeys. Some nights you’re back in Elaine’s cockpit, glancing over your shoulder and seeing Conductor’s craft lagging slightly before catching up and returning to formation, of Ivory goading you into a rematch while Fiona mumbles his shortcomings and Ebony’s dissatisfied grunting.

I, too, find you … neat.

‘You with me?’

You nod, running a hand through your hair and … wonder how Elaine was doing.

The jacketed man sets his right foot on his left knee, the previously brotherly gaze giving way to a more calculative look. Grizzled eyes stare right up at you, contemplative, critical. Even from where you’re standing you can see that there was more to the man to the casual facade that he afforded you … but at the same time, you don’t sense anything blatantly ulterior of what he ultimately was. A thoughtful furrowing of the brows follows as he finally looks away, grunting in a conclusive, if unconvincing, manner.

‘I’m offering you a shot at redemption.’

Your curiosity returns as the man stares up at you again, his expression now completely devoid of any amusement.

‘As far as the Orleasians are concerned, the King’s blood is on your hands … but more than where they’re concerned I think you believe that too, and then some.

You lock your eyes with his.

The implications require no further elaboration.

‘I’m giving you a chance; more than to right what wrongs people believe they are owed from you … an opportunity for you to close this chapter and move on to the next. I know what you are and right now I’m giving you a choice: would you rather rot and give your corpse up as penance or actually find your own atonement and get on with it?’

>Question why you’re being afforded this opportunity at all
>Accept
>Decline
>Write-In
>>
>>4586324
>Accept
>>
>>4586324
>Accept
>>
>>4586324
>>Question why you’re being afforded this opportunity at all
This but in a humble and/or self critical way, I kind of like the angle that we're blaming ourselves too much and want to explore that.
>>
>>4586324
Ask who the hell is offering this deal. Then
>Question why you’re being afforded this opportunity at all
then
>Accept.
>>
>>4586324

>>4586332
>>4586336
I can get behind these as it probably adds a bit more to the lore and expands a bit on our character
>>
>>4586338
im also all for this
>>
>>4586324
>>Write-In
Ask if there is a catch
Guys it sounds too good to be true right?
>>
>>4586332
Supporting this.
>>
>>4586360
its not like we can get any other offer, or have any choice since we are now punished wizard, a man denied his skies
>>
>>4586324
>Question why you’re being afforded this opportunity at all
>Accept

The real question is who's behind Wingbride!Pixy
>>
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‘Figured you’d be curious about that,’ he snorts, dusting himself off as he gets to his feet. ‘As you’re probably aware, Amaterasu Defence and Security ceased all operations and market activity a few weeks ago. Turns out, allowing regicide on your watch doesn’t particularly endear you to investors and to those with standing agreements; the company was forced to pawn off its assets bit by bit to stay afloat, but with the failure of the showcase in the development of Artificial Intelligences in defence systems a domino effect ended up toppling the whole house of cards down. Divisions, sub-divisions, subsidiaries, partnerships … you’ve heard of a chop shop, right?’

You frown as you tilt your head, wondering when he was going to get to the point.

‘Well, as it turned out, the Orleasian Department of Defence just happened to make the biggest bid on Amaterasu’s development unit … which you, I believe, are still attached to, which makes you—legallyproperty of the Orleasian government.’

The irony of the situation was boundless.

‘I assume that you’re smart enough to piece it all together from there on in.’

His tone sounds genuinely apologetic … even if the circumstances seem almost unreal to comprehend.

‘The further greying of your legal is what allowed the Foreign Office and the Intermediary to consider this proposal as an avenue for your … freedom, for lack of better word.’

You could think of many more words that could fit the mould better than that.

He seems to know it, too.

>Highlight that having redemption as a preface for employment was dirty pool
>Accuse him of strong-arming you into making an artificial choice
>Allude that it's akin to choosing between constant diarrhea and kidney stones
>Ask about Elaine and the other AIs
>Stay silent
>Accept
>Decline
>Write-In
>>
>>4586392
>Ask about Elaine and the other AIs
>>
>>4586392
>>Ask about Elaine and the other AIs
>>
>>4586397
This and

>Allude that it's akin to choosing between constant diarrhea and kidney stones
>>
>>4586392
>>Ask about Elaine and the other AIs
>>
>>4586392
>Ask about Elaine and the other AIs
>>
>>4586397
>>4586399
I could get behind both of these
>>
File: How's My Partner.gif (629 KB, 520x293)
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His jaw slackens slightly, if only for a moment … right before letting out a chuckle.

‘Funny you should ask that,’ he answers, wearing a lop-sided half-smile. ‘They asked the same about you. Never thought that I’d be debating international criminal law with an F-15 for an hour …’

>Write-In
>>
>>4586407
>Smile and Accept.
>>
>>4586407
>chuckle at your partners actions and accept his deal.
>>
>>4586412
this, also ask if elaine has been "faithful" all these months
>>
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The man extends his hand as you agree to the terms. Somewhere between resignment and relief … you take it.

‘Guess you’ll be calling me Captain from now on,’ he declares, sounding genuinely amused. ‘Captain Larry Fokker, call-sign Solo

You give the emblem another look.

‘Welcome to Garm Team.’

END INTERLUDE
>>
Surprise, assholes.
>>
>>4586430
that tweest
>>
>>4586432
If you have any questions, I'll be taking them now.
>>
>>4586428
>Fokker
I'm sorry but I laughed.
>>
>>4586438
Does he like pinapples?
>>
>>4586439
There's a VERY good reason he's named Fokker.
>>
>>4586438
I have no questions, simply exclamations

My fuckin Lord you're really crossing those beams my man, this gon be fanservice central my guy, keep on keeping on with what you're doing here
>>
>>4586446
He's the great grandkid of Anthony Fokker?
>>
>>4586440
Big spoiler: He's okay with it, but he wouldn't say he likes it.. He doesn't even know if he's supposed to. But when you're a recovering -REDACTED- things like that don't matter as much as the now.
>>
>>4586450
so this is also the timeline where he didnt die after eating the pineapple and returned to his gf then
>>
Larry Fokker lmao. But yeah, man is this a shit deal no matter what. Waste away as a prisoner, or accept becoming actual property. I suppose the constant diarrhea of being allowed in the skies again is better, but man what a shit situation.
>>4586438
As for questions, considering our prior movements would it be correct to assume that our plane is the stol/mtd version of the f-15 in all but name seeing as we were capable of doing aoa, something typically representative of planes with supermaneuvrability in Project Wingman? Also does RAM paint (this specifically considering how the f-15 doesn't have the angles of a stealth fighter) have any practical effect in this story? The superplanes we fought were able to slaughter our squadron thanks to just popping in without warning, among other things.
>>
>>4586440
>>4586450
I dun get it
>>
>>4586455
CANONICALLY (within the confines of the quest), all the craft are basically pimped out versions of the basic planes but with the added precision of AI to assist in crazy ass maneuvers. They have extra cameras, missile pods instead of slots, etc. all to give more control over the fighter.

It has more in common with Ace Combat players defying physics and drifting with planes, but actually weaponized proper by the AI/Avatars. There's extra bits here and there, but they really are just super modified F-15s, F-18s, etc. to suit the R and D division's requirements.
>>
>>4586456
Heavy Spoiler: Roy Fokker is a character from the anime Macross (and a personal favorite of mine) and is one of the best pilots in the series as well as a mentor to the protagonist, Hikaru Ichijo. He dies being served pineapple salad made by his girlfriend after sustaining injuries from a battle prior.
>>
>>4586459
Ah, I've only watched Plus.
>>
>>4586457
So taking the frames and pimping them out with improved engines, avionics, and fly by wire on AI steroids. Does stealth have any practical effect within the confines of the quest system, or is it purely narrative?
>>
>>4586466
It's translated into higher DCs until the inevitable point where someone figures them out.
>>
guess we cant channel pixy since he is our boss now, back to being silent protag i guess
>>
>>4586477
Would it be possible to get our hands on some ram paint then?
>>
>>4586480
Heh, heh ...
>>
>>4586480
Strangely enough I feel like pixy is actually cipher considering the earlier interaction when the mc was called a cipher
>>
This is Mech. I will be running in a bit. Show of hands, please?
>>
>>4587369
I'm here.
>>
>>4587369
present
>>
>>4587369
Hi. I will only lurk though
>>
>>4587369
here
>>
>>4587369
yo, buddy
>>
>>4587369
Here
>>
>>4587369
Did our old teams callsigns have any actual relevance or were they just Devil May Cry references?
>>
What even is our plane HP? It's in the legend at the start, but I can't find any other information on it.
>>
>>4587369
Sorry was a bit busy
>>
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You maintain a cruising speed, closing your eyes and enjoying your first moments off the ground in what feels like an eternity. Your breath must be audible over the comms, but you just don’t care. The feeling of ascension and the dashing clouds on a crisp weekend morning in the seat of your F-15 was akin to a man’s discovery of an oasis in a desert. You don’t even mind the bevy of post-it notes and page tabs that littered the cockpit or the electronic air freshener that was somehow installed into your instrument panel, just relishing in the moment of your—

Garm 03, Ransom
<< God, this thing handles like a brick. Why am I in the F-14 again? >>

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Because the Captain wants us oriented to the new systems as quickly as possible and the new boys don’t want your terrible flight scores shocking the AI into unresponsive loops and I pulled the black egg out of the jar to make sure you don’t. >>

Garm Three grunts, mumbling incoherently into the comms.

Garm 03, WSO, Sensei
<< Quit complaining. I’m the one that’s putting up with you up here. >>

Garm 03 Flight Intelligence, F-14 “Tessa”
<< Is everything all right, WSO Sensei? >>

You almost smile hearing that voice. It’d been some time since you’d properly interacted with Tessa, what with her synchronization scores falling well below the qualifiers for proper trials. Regal, prim and patient, one would think that those characteristics would have had her flight-worthy from the get-go, but as the AI of a two-seater, the learning sequences, allocations and allowances meant that there was a higher workload for her to work with, which meant less time in the air and more time in the labs and systems tweaking and adapting. You’d suggested a uniform crew in order for the learning process to suit her rather than having to rotate as the other single-seaters did, but … well, your input only meant so much.

Personally, you thought that it was a crime seeing her run through simulations more than she did the sky.

If nothing else, you hoped that the change in personnel benefited her.

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Oh, uh … yes, everything’s all right, um … Tessa, is it? >>

Tessa
<< My true name is a collection of consonants, vowels, dashes and numbers. I can print it out once we touch down, if you’d prefer? >>

You almost laugh at Tessa’s coy tone. Yeah, that was her all right.

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< I’m sorry, I’m still not used to having … well … the plane talk back to me.>>

Garm 03, Random
<< You got that right. Feels weird going into a roll and finding you’re already over the pitch midway through a manoeuvre. >>
>>
>>4587532
>Reassure Tessa
>Give Random and Sensei some advice
>Get on with it
>Write-In
>>
>>4587534
>Reassure Tessa
>Give Random and Sensei some advice

Can we try combining these two? Something like "Don't worry, they'll come around." followed by some advice to the pilots?
>>
>>4587534
>>Give Random and Sensei some advice
>>
>>4587534
>Reassure Tessa

Considering the earlier comments about how Amaterasu tricked out the frames, the f-14 must be like the attack super tomcat 21 or the asf-14..... Nice. Always had a thing for variable wing designs.
>>
>>4587534
>>Reassure Tessa
>>
Rolled 2 (1d2)

>>4587534
>>
>>4587534
>>Write-In
Say put trust in the pilot and rio/wso and try to push yourself to the limit
>>
>>4587537
I'd support that, but if we can't I'll vote to
>Reassure Tessa
>>
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Tessa
<< Thank you … Garm Four. >>

Hesitant yet firm.

Rigid yet receptive.

That was Tessa, all right.

>Assure her that she can be more familiar with you; you’ve been paired up more than a few times, after all.
>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.
>Get straight back to it
>Write-In
>>
>>4587548
>>Assure her that she can be more familiar with you; you’ve been paired up more than a few times, after all.
>>
>>4587548
>>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.
>>
>>4587548
>>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.
>>
>>4587548
>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.

Then who's Garm 2....
>>
>>4587548
>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.
>>
>>4587548
>>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.
>>
>>4587548
>>Allow Tessa her formalities; that’s how she operated then and that’s how you’ll leave her with now.
>>
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Garm 03, Ransom
<< Is it weird that I feel sorta threatened by the new guy? >>

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Ransom, you’re weird regardless. >>

You smile a little at that.

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Yeah, but … meh, you know what? Screw it. Let’s see what this cat can do. Tags up, chains a-rattlin’ and … on you, Garm 04. >>

Elaine’s avatar flashes into existence, giving you an enthusiastic nod as the rest of her form completes it assemblage. It appears as though you’re not the only one that’s eager for some dynamic feats of aerial prowess. Giving the go-ahead, you level the F-15 up proper, giving the non-verbal set of the exercise’s prelude.

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Try not to push it too much, will you, Ransom? >>

Ransom doesn’t respond.

You decelerate with a moderate pull on the throttle, bringing your craft above the hard deck. Ransom follows you up, climbing but still sticking to your tail. The clouds sparse and the sun bright, you break through an altocumulus grouping, a rush of joy washing over you with every increasing tick of the altimeter before reaching the pre-arranged altitude and maintaining a constant speed, the RADAR showing the F-14 trailing you from a textbook distance behind.

Garm 03, Sensei
<< She’s got some power in her, I’ll say … >>

>Ask them to switch the controls over to Tessa first
>Push it hard
>Ease them into it
>Write-In
>>
>>4587584
>>Ease them into it
>>
>>4587584
>Ease them into it
>>
>>4587584
>>Ask them to switch the controls over to Tessa first
>>
>>4587584
>Ease them into it

So, what's the exercise for today
>>
>>4587584
>>Ease them into it
>>
Have a bit of an emergency. I'll try to be back ASAP.
>>
>>4587584
>>Push it hard
Lets make this baby fast
>>
>>4587584
>>Ask them to switch the controls over to Tessa first
"You've got to learn to trust your partners, even the ones that aren't flesh and blood."
>>
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There was no sense playing tag so early in your tenure with Garm Team. Declaring the commencement of the exercise, you roll left, verbally prompting Ransom into pursuit, before accelerating to give him and his WSO a feel for the climb. At the slight lag, you advise the collective Garm Three into a straight line chase, giving them an opportunity to get used to the F-14’s enhanced speed and acceleration; while your planes may have looked similar to their off-the-line counterparts, they were ultimately different beasts to the previous generation, with hair-trigger responses that learned and compensated as you went along. Ransom, to his credit, is a quick learner, keeping pace with you as the both of you perform a ballet through the skies. You don’t tease Tessa’s dime-stopping prowess just yet, however, keen on giving your new workmates a feel for working with a combat vehicle that learned as it went along, just the same as they did.

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Damn, I can feel it … >>

Garm 03 WSO, Duchess
<< This is probably the most textbook I’ve seen you fly, Ransom. >>

Your own flight intelligence module beckons you to push her that little bit more.

You shake your head, raising a hand to communicate that having your wingmen blow chunks wasn’t on the cards today. Never mind the fact that the adaptation matrix had probably registered less than a few minutes of new data from your little game of push and pull.

Garm 03, Ransom
<< It’s not all me. Damn … I actually do feel it … >>

Tessa, ever the professional, doesn’t comment.

Despite the look Elaine gives you, you don’t give in to the temptation of a split and tag, giving her an apologetic stare as you keep to the preset limits, the most adventurous of which is a mere roll and level, not quite leaving Garm Four’s direct line of sight, but not making it too easy for them, either. You wanted them to get used to how Tessa worked … and the last thing you wanted was to give a reason for your new bosses to shelf her away or remand you for being a jerk before you even shared a table with any of them.

Garm 01, Solo
<< Hey there, buddy, how’re you guys getting along? >>

Garm 03 WSO, Duchess.
<< Captain. >>

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Captain. >>

You glance to your right, finding the distinct single red wing slowly, but surely, closing the distance between you and your two-man party. You raise an eyebrow in interest, wondering why your Captain had decided to take-off in his F-15 instead of—

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Hey, what gives? How come you’re not in one of these? >>

You assume Ransom means one of the AI-enhanced planes.
>>
Garm 01, Solo
<< Eh … wasn’t feeling it. >>

You suspect that there’s a bit more to it than that, but don’t comment on it.

Garm 01, Solo
<< More importantly … Wizard, what gives? Those definitely weren’t the moves I saw on the flight data. >>

Elaine’s avatar, still silent otherwise, looks up at you with a gaze that says I told you so.

>Explain that you’re trying to ease Garm Three into the motions
>Explain that pushing the envelope in an exercise such as this wasn’t the standard at Amaterasu
>Tell him that you just wanted to take it easy after seven months of house arrest
>Agree with him; that definitely wasn’t what what inspired the Captain’s leap of faith
>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
>Write-In
>>
>>4587698
>>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
TIME FOR FUN NOW LADS AND LASSIE
>>
>>4587698
>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
>>
>>4587698
>>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
>>
>>4587698
>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
>>
>>4587698
>>Explain that you’re trying to ease Garm Three into the motions
>>
>>4587554
You're Garm 4 because 4 is an unlucky number and no one dares to go near that number in Orleas. Garm 2 is vacant on special request. Garm 1 feels like "Garm 2" is waiting for someone special to take it, but can't quite explain it himself, so the official numbering of Garm Team is 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.
>>
>>4587698
>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
>>
>>4587698
>>Explain that you’re trying to ease Garm Three into the motions
>>4587721
>Garm 1 feels like "Garm 2" is waiting for someone special to take it, but can't quite explain it himself

buddeh
>>
>>4587732
>Tfw buddy isn't still alive
I would post sad pixy but I can't seem to find it in my folders
>>
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>>4587734
>>
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Garm 03, Ransom
<< Limiters … limiters … right, there it is. Limiters disabled; systems orange. >>

Garm 03 WSO, Duchess
<< All right, uh … guess we’re on auto-pilot, then? >>

Garm 03 Flight Intelligence, “Tessa”
<< Configuring … complete. I have control. >>

You ease yourself into your chair, trying your damnedest to keep your smile from splitting your face open.

Elaine has no such reservations.

>Write-In
>>
>>4587698
>>Agree with your Captain; ask Garm Three to hand the controls over to Tessa and disable the limiters. Play some tag.
ITS TIME
>>
>>4587747
>>Write-In
Go fucking nuts
>>
>>4587747
>tell Ransom and Duchess to hold on to their butts and STEP ON THE GAS
>>
>>4587747
>>Write-In

ITS TIME
>>
>>4587747
>Write-In
Cut loose
>>
>>4587747
>Tessa, lets dance like we want to win.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pr9ExScjBno
>>
>>4587747
>Write In
Do a "completely necessary" kublit and start going crazy
>>
>>4587761
I like this choice of words.
>>
>Write-In
> <<YES>>
Gotta respond in classic ace combat fashion
Wait, the WSO was named Sensei before, now they're Duchess?
>>
>>4587747
>>4587761
Supporting this instead
>>
>>4587767
It's a typo. I'm sorry.
>>
Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Wait, what? >>

Tessa
<< Understood. >>

Garm 01, Solo
<< Ho … >>

Your partner’s all too eager to give the order.

Elaine
<< Break! >>

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Jesus! >>

You’re bug out at the word. Elaine’s superior manoeuvrability has you rounding around for a kill within seconds of the reset, but Tessa, already aware of her own limitations, uses your own urgency against you by hitting the breaks and catching you moving across. The lock-on alert blares for all of half a second as you dive, having been caught out by your own eagerness. The F-14 rolls not forty feet away from the top of your canopy, decelerating further to catch you back within her sights; you’re not fooled twice by the same trick, however, flipping your plane on a pre-stall to put her in your previous position.

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Holy friggin’ … >>

Tessa’s turning response is vastly inferior to Elaine’s, however, that edge allowing you to dive and pull to catch her before she can get away … or so you’d assumed, as Tessa, once again, weaponizes her own limitations in that area to have you returning in the position you’d escaped not moments prior. Unwilling to accept that you’d set yourself up twice, you make a break for the hard deck, accelerating with a pull of the throttle and a jolt of the stick, allowing Elaine to compensate the last percentage of the scissors—

Scissors? Son of a—

Elaine
<< Going to match me at my own game, Tessa? >>

Tessa
<< There’s no rule that says I can’t! >>

Elaine
<< Never said there was! >>

You pull on the throttle, breaking it off and climbing up, Tessa juking and rolling herself into a clumsy position, getting you right in her sights as the both you crack the skies in a duel of acceleration. Smirking, you call it off as you reach the summit, rolling back down and cracking right back into the cloud-line, prompting Tessa to kill her own climb, sliding down and recovering to resume the chase.

Tessa
<< Now who’s trying to beat who on their home turf? >>

Elaine grins like a maniac.

Elaine
<< No rules that says I can’t! >>

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Is there at least a law that says that you can’t make AI with a death wish?! >>

You twist the pedals, breaking the contest off and rolling back; Tessa evens out to your five o’clock, splitting off from her chase and climbing back up, roosting from her advantage as she dared for you to make her day. You bank the F-15, turn around and listening to the missile alert ringing in your ears as you find yourself within Tessa’s sights, pulling back on the throttle to pull away from her cone of vision…
>>
>>4587761
Supporting big-time
>>
Tessa
<< You’re dead in three seconds, Wizard! >>

3 …

Elaine
<< Come on, partner, push it! >>

2 …

Tessa
<< Show we what you're made of, then! >>

1 ...

>Break off the attack
>Put your faith in Elaine
>Write-In
>>
>>4587818
>>Put your faith in Elaine
FULL THROTTLE BABY
>>
>>4587818
>Put your faith in Elaine
>>
>>4587818
>Put your faith in Elaine

Push it to the limit
>>
>>4587818
>>Put your faith in Elaine
>>
>>4587818
>Put your faith in Elaine
If you can't trust your AI buddy, then who can you trust?
>>
>>4587818
FULL THROTTLE FULL FAITH

PRAY TO THE TECH GOD'S
>>
File: Joy.gif (1.1 MB, 320x213)
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You make it.

Tessa
<< Ah! >>

Hitting the breaks, you kill the plane at the angle, feeling the force of G bearing down on your shoulders and knees as the turbines whine at the sheer audacity of your venture. Tessa breaks off from her own position, twelve o’clock high from your canopy and kissing the horizon in an attempt to catch you before you can recover … but at this phase, it was a battle of specifications … and Elaine was just plain superior. Pulling back on the throttle, you accelerate into gradual climb, keeping an eye out as you followed Tessa’s trail, the Tomcat refusing to yield its advantage so easily. Any other craft would have easily caved in for the kill, but Tessa, as aware as she was, was a stubborn, stubborn woman.

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Ransom, I take back everything I said about your flying! I—Ransom? >>

You hear a wet, choking sound over the comms.

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Oh. Ew … >>

There’s your window.

You’re launch right out of your scissors, catching the Tomcat on her two o’clock … only for her to make a break for it, weaving and accelerating in an attempt to escape tagging range. Hand on the joystick, you and Elaine climb up in what’s almost a carbon copy of Tessa’s move, rolling yourself back into an inverted state, keeping to the loop as your opponent goes across at an inferior gradient. Wings swept back and engines roaring, you already know she won't make it.

The countdown starts.

3 …

Elaine
<< That’s it … >>

2 …

Tessa
<< Come on, come on, I can make it … >>

1 …

She’s right in your sights.

Tessa is desperate.

Elaine is eager.

You have joy.

0 …

>Abandon the game
>Pull the trigger
>Write-In
>>
>>4587836
>>Pull the trigger
>>
>>4587836
>Good job, Tessa. Especially with the handicap.
>>
>>4587836
>Pull the trigger

You're quite the entertainer, but the shows over with this next shot
>>
>>4587836
>>4587846
Shit, meant for the last bit to be the write in
>>
>>4587836
>>Abandon the game and congratulate Tessa on how much she has improved and throttle back so her pilot doesnt choke and die on his own vomit.
CONFLICTION TORTURES ME
Bisko is my botefu
>>
>>4587850
I second this
>>
>>4587836
Actually you know what

>Abandon the game

Let's do this right. We've got the pride it takes to win. KNIGHT ROUTE IS A GO
>>
>>4587850
supporting
>>
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You let out a sigh as you shake your head, levelling your craft and pulling the nose away from the the Tomcat as it crosses your sight right before easing on the throttle. The rumble of the F-14’s turbines scratches your eardrums as you spot her forming up at your eight o’clock. Confused noises erupt over the comms at your abandonment of the game, your own craft’s avatar whirling around as though her hair was being whipped by a non-existent wind, her expression aghast and her jaw slack, sounds akin to dying sheep escaping her auditory functions.

Elaine
<< P-Partner? >>

Tessa
<< Un … understood. >>

Garm 03 WSO, Sensei
<< Oh, thank God. >>

Garm 03, Ransom
<< I think my colon’s tighter than a fisherman’s knot … urgh … >>

Solo laughs over the comms as he joins up, his enjoyment as the lone member of the audience more than apparent. The single red wing of his craft catches your brief attention as his F-15 forms up at an elevation above both your plane and Garm Three, taking his position as the Flight Leader once again. You decelerate to line yourself up next to Tessa, glancing over to see both her pilot and WSO hunched over in what appears to be a mix of relief and nausea.

Garm 01, Solo
<< Well, I guess the both of you have your work cut out for you. RTB, Garm Team. >>

Garm 03, Ransom
<< Man, the hangar boys are going to kill me. >>

You can’t help but chuckle at that, remembering the first time you handed over the controls to—

Elaine
<< Hey, Tessa? >>

Tessa
<< Yes? >>

Elaine
<< I know the both of us haven’t seen airtime in a while, but I’m quite certain that that pre-stall turn when you were trying to catch us isn’t part of any training package for your fighter role. Did they give you some extra flight data to analyse and execute while you were grounded? >>

Solo rolls left; you and Garm Three, keeping formation, follow after him.

Tessa
<< No. >>

Elaine
<< So where’d you pick it up? >>

There’s a brief silence as you level your plane, the F-14 now ahead and pulling towards the right.

Tessa
<< From Wizard. >>

Her voice is shy, gentle.

You whistle innocently as Elaine shoots you an accusatory glare.

END INTERLUDE
>>
Guys, do you want BASE SHENANIGANS or go back up in the air again?
>>
>>4587881
Base shenanigans, might as well get a feel for the setting
>>
>>4587881
Sure why not, if you feel up to it and it doesn't hurt the pacing you are aiming for.
>>
Wait, does choosing stuff that Elaine wouldn’t do potentially screw up synchronization or stat gain for PSYCO?
>>
>>4587881
Base fuckery ahoy
>>
>>4587885
No. But it may allow "other" events to happen.
>>
>>4587887
Ominous! Also, I don’t suppose this is when we get to choose livery?
>>
>>4587881
yes for base shenanigans
>>
>>4587888
If you lads want a prompt to customize your livery and have ideas about it, I don't mind inserting the scene in. That's if you have decent support for it, of course. I don't want to do something for one person and have the other three or four being irritated about it.
>>
>>4587895
I'm really looking forward to read more, the story's real charming!
>>
>>4587895
im going for the rias nose art
>>
>>4587930
Thank you.
>>4587981
I hate you so much, man.
>>
File: Take Me With You.png (112 KB, 900x772)
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You never thought that the part that you’d found the most uncomfortable within your tenure as both mercenary and test pilot was so welcoming to have back as part of your routine. Taxied into the hangar, you lift your helmet off your head, sliding out the data disk out from its slot and unplugging the cables from their ports. A glance over at Tessa and her crew has you finding that—just as Ransom had said thousands of feet up in the air—the maintenance personnel (and the lab coats) were all over his case, while Sensei struggles with completely dislodging the data disk and the cables from her helmet. Shaking your head, you rise from your seat as the maintenance crew (and, again, the lab coats) rush towards your F-15, plugging in and undoing panels for their routine fix-ups. A glance from the cockpit to the floor below has you seeing at least three men in coats—complete with that mobile server they dragged around—hooking themselves up to your craft … only to be met with accusations of impatience from the maintenance crew.

The relationship between both parties had been icy since your arrival at Aznavour Base, at best. That the majority of the boys in coats were once employed by Amaterasu months prior had been one of the standing gripes for the established personnel … while their status as mercenaries-by-association didn’t do any favors in enhancing their reputation among the Orleasians. Still … everyone had their jobs to do, and you supposed that the men were probably thankful at all that they were still among those deemed employable by the standards of their new superiors.

You climb down the ladder, running a hand through your hair as—

‘Wizard!’

The sound of clattering tools and devices catches your ear more than the announcement of your call-sign. You lean away from the ladder mid-climb, curiously gazing at the shocked expressions of the engineers, all of whom were pointing as though they were staring at a ghost.

In a way … they weren’t far off the mark.

You leap off the last set of steps and onto solid ground, your helmet under your arm as you approach the life-size digital projection of your F-15, the holographic display from the underside of the craft buzzing as she makes several flicker-accompanied steps towards you. Her static-laden blue form stands before you, artificial effects built into the engine showcasing their stuff—despite the apparent limitations of the current build—as Elaine leans forward, wearing a wide smile.

‘Aren’t you going to take the learning terminal with you?’

You have a mind to remark whether she meant whether you wished to take her with you.

>Go back inside the cockpit and take the terminal
>Ask her to go inactive or compilation mode until you get back in the saddle
>Write-In
>>
>>4588037
>>Go back inside the cockpit and take the terminal

always do what the lady says, even if its wrong
>>
>>4588037
>Write-In "You sure the coats don't want you for a few?"
Other than that
>Go back inside the cockpit and take the terminal
unless of course the lab coats do need her for a bit.
>>
>>4588037
Yeezuz, I'm so indecisive that I can't think of ways to make it go up to 11 (don't read my mind).
I've thought of something.
>>Write-in
>You've already had your terminal with you.
>>
>>4588046
Correction.
*>You've already had your terminal on your person
>>
>>4588046
Impossible. She wouldn't be able to use the F-15's holoprojector if you'd taken it out. Nice try and good sentiment, but wouldn't fit.
>>
>>4588037
>Go back inside the cockpit and take the terminal
>>
>>4588048
I was bullshitting about Galm's R&D developing blah blah that they modified their suits with PDA's geared to their suit so they can transfer terminals with ease strictly with their own authorization and only personally with their partner. This with consideration that you could have easily lose your psyco if your plane goes boom. This idea was by (You) and Solo as tribute of Hiryuu's (and his squadron's) demise and Solo because he went solo because backstory.
We can't take the bullshit of letting your psyco sacrifice to save you by overriding the manual and ejecting you off your jet. We hafta think narratively ahead
>>
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You pull the learning terminal—a rectangular object not much larger than a smartphone—out from its slot, waving it to the coats below who shake their heads as you jump back down onto solid ground.

‘He always brings her around.’

‘Probably why they both scored so high back at Amaterasu.’

Ignoring their remarks, you turn the module around, checking the battery and making sure the audio input and output were activated … before flicking the terminal into activation. Within moments, you’re greeted by a similar—albeit very blue—holographic projection of Elaine, who rocks on the heels of her feet as her avatar—and the camera attached to the terminal—stare at you.

‘All right, I’m all set,’ she declares enthusiastically.

You scan the hangar, wondering where to start …

>Look for Garm One
>Approach Garm Three
>Try to make small talk with the maintenance crew
>Head back to your quarters
>Head to the cafeteria
>[SKIP]
>Write-In
>>
>>4588074
>>Try to make small talk with the maintenance crew

better get to know our crew first since they take care of the plane
>>
>>4588074
>>Approach Garm Three
>>
>>4588074
>>Approach Garm Three
>>
>>4588074
>Try to make small talk with the maintenance crew
>>
>>4588074
>>Write-In
Give elaine a head pat
>>
>>4588074
>Approach Garm Three
>>
>>4588074
>>Approach Garm Three
>>
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You approach the most recently-acquainted members of your new Squadron. Ransom is groaning with his buttocks set on one of the stools, out of his flight suit and rubbing his face clean of any remaining traces of oral discharge. The scent of partially-digested beans is, thankfully, a non-existed one and it allows you to not drop into retching convulsions within four feet of his person. Behind him, the maintenance crew and the coats are busy at work, unscrewing panels and performing routine checks on the craft. Sensei, despite her sharp demeanor prior, is by comparison the face of motherly concern, a pair of striking blue eyes looking down on Ransom’s prone form, she herself halfway out of her own flight suit and wearing an admittedly tasteful t-shirt featuring a graffiti-styled caricature of what you presume to be a rock band of her preference.

‘You all right?’ Sensei inquires, leaning over slightly.

‘I’m okay,’ Ransom reassures her, despite his pale countenance. ‘I think now I know how people feel when they have to ride shotgun with me at thirty-two thousand feet …’

Sensei chortles wryly, shaking her head … before looking up and noticing you.

‘Wizard,’ she starts casually, giving you a nod of acknowledgment. ‘Anything we can do you for?’

You spare Ransom a brief glance, but the man merely raises his hand instead of choosing to give anything verbal.

>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience
>Apologize for getting a little too carried away in the exercise
>Ask them if they’re willing to catch some brunch, as it wasn’t even noon yet
>Leave
>Write-In
>>
>>4588603
>Apologize for getting a little too carried away in the exercise
>>
>>4588603
>>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience
>>
>>4588603
>Apologize for getting a little too carried away in the exercise
>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience
>>
>>4588610
Sorry, bro, but in this instance, you really have to just choose one.
>>
>>4588603
>>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience
>>
>>4588607
>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience
>>
>>4588603
>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience

Changing to this then
>>
>>4588603
I made a good guess pic related is from ffVIII only because I recognized that graphics alone from eyes on me gmv I watched
>>Apologize for getting a little too carried away in the exercise
>>
>>4588603
>>Ask them if they’re willing to catch some brunch, as it wasn’t even noon yet
>>
>>4588603
>Ask them how they feel about Tessa after that experience
>>
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‘Tessa? You mean the …’

Sensei spares the open canopy of the F-14 a glance of her own, visibly weighing her own opinion.

‘I have to say, I’ve heard of drones and automated flying craft modules and programs before, but I could never imagine that this was what Amaterasu had been working on for the last decade,’ she opines, crossing her arms under her chest as she adopts thoughtful look. ‘An intelligence that learns, responds and takes an initiative based on input and response is one thing. This … it’s a whole different set of rules for the sky. I can’t even begin to consider how much was put into the evolution matrix of the AI itself, never mind the lack of chains that allow them to develop personalities.’

‘It’s a free-form adaptive algorithm augmented by advanced pattern recognition, adaptation, assimilation and denial-acceptance standards run by sub-routines and less complicated systems, sub-AI, if you will, that allow us to develop into unique representations to suit need, want and requirement.’

‘Wow, you sure know a lot of—EEK!’

‘GHOST!’

You almost burst into laughter as Tessa’s holographic projection, flickering and very blue, prompts Sensei and Ransom into frightened, defensive stances … with Sensei using Ransom as her own personal human meat-shield and Ransom muttering something akin to a religious chant you’re quite sure was right out of a horror film. Tessa, however, merely frowns as she regards her crew, one gloved hand on her hip and a slight scowl forming upon her features, visibly confounded by their reaction.

A glance over to the maintenance crew, however, tells you that they’re not alone in their wonder.

Everyone had been used to it back at Amaterasu’s sites. You suppose that it would take a while for the Orleasians to get used to it themselves.

‘T-Tessa,’ Sensei starts, tentatively, watching the blue, flickering form of the F-14’s avatar. ‘Is that … really you?’

‘I knew it,’ Ransom exclaims. ‘They’ve become self-aware! We’re doomed!’

‘I’ve always been self-aware.’

‘Therefore dooming us all!’

You roll your eyes at Ransom’s exclamation, producing the smaller terminal from the pocket of your flight suit and prompting your own AI to give a showcase of her own. Elaine obliges, of course, with a flourish, flashing into existence and setting her feet on the edges of the display, the small hum of the omni-directional camera moving reaching your ears as she attempts to orientate herself to her new surroundings.

‘Tessa,’ Elaine greets, raising a hand towards her much, much larger compatriot.

‘Wait, how … what is that?’ Ransom questions, peering curiously at the object in your hands.

You hold it up vertically … eliciting a complaint from Elaine as she cries out for you not to drop her.

‘It’s a … I think that’s the F-15.’

‘Wait, you can just …’

Ransom points from the F-14, to Tessa … and to Elaine, puzzled.
>>
>>4588680
>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>Joke about how it's ten digits out of their paycheck if they want to take it for a spin
>Stay Silent
>Write-In
>>
>>4588683
>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>>
>>4588683
>>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>>
>>4588683
>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>>
>>4588683
>>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>>
>>4588683
>>Joke about how it's ten digits out of their paycheck if they want to take it for a spin
I kinda wanna see their reactions
>>
>>4588683
>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>>
>>4588683
>Explain to them the concept of the AI learning terminal
>>
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Happy New Year, you beautiful bastards. No session today as I'm exhausted and I'm sure you fucks would love to get your New Years' freak on. Thanks for playing and I hope to see you lads later at the restart. Drink responsibly.

-Mech
>>
>>4589701
Happy new years buddy
>>
>>4589701
Happy new year, buddy!Mechanic
>>
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MEch's PC is trying to commit Sudoku
>>
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This is Mechanic. Computer is a-okay. 18 hours of consecutive gaming and no problems, but I might be looking into getting a new SSD just in case. Mine's already 7 years old. I should be okay to run tomorrow, no issue, so stay tuned!
>>
>>4592168
We'll be seeing you, Mechanic
>>
>>4592168
Glad to hear everything’s ok
>>
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‘Sounds complicated,’ Ransom responds, frowning as he crosses his arms over his chest. ‘Complicated and uncomfortable.’

To his left, Sensei rubs her chin, looking very thoughtful at the prospect.

‘So you’re … hooked up for a time so these terminals can access any habits and translate them into micro-pattern prediction matrices? Sounds very invasive.’

>Tell them that you’re used to it and the company more than makes up for the first few weeks of discomfort
>Emphasize that it is essential for the data of your micro-patterns, as habits and unconscious practice are the best indicators and tells for the familiarity programs to better predict your piloting tendencies.
>Dismissively inform them that they’re going to be hooked up anyway.
>Agree with Sensei
>Write-In
>>
>>4593262
>>Tell them that you’re used to it and the company more than makes up for the first few weeks of discomfort
>>
>>4593262
>Tell them that you’re used to it and the company more than makes up for the first few weeks of discomfort
>>
>>4593262
>>Emphasize that it is essential for the data of your micro-patterns, as habits and unconscious practice are the best indicators and tells for the familiarity programs to better predict your piloting tendencies.
>>
>>4593262
>Tell them that you’re used to it and the company more than makes up for the first few weeks of discomfort
I don't think we should make the procedure a big deal we don't want to scare them off.
>>
>>4593262
>Tell them that you’re used to it and the company more than makes up for the first few weeks of discomfort

All fun and games till you're replaced by a bunch of ravens
>>
>>4593262
>>Tell them that you’re used to it and the company more than makes up for the first few weeks of discomfort
>>
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You share a small, knowing smile with your avatar, prompting your two new teammates to grace you with curious looks. Ransom appears to consider your words for a moment … before letting out a sigh and walking right up to you, creasing his brows slightly as he appears to give your words some consideration.

‘Still … it’s fascinating that Amaterasu was able to come this far in just a decade of research,’ he lets out, leaning forward and peering at the miniature woman that rests in your palm, before standing back up straight and sparing the projection of his F-14’s avatar the same curious gaze. ‘Self-learning AI with independent preferences and attitudes … how were they even able to get the resources for such an endeavor?’

‘They were a PMC,’ Sensei chimes in, her hands behind her head as her eyes glanced up towards the hangar. ‘It’d make sense for them to have enough money to run a program like that on the sly. Not taking away that it’s probably more than any of us would ever see.’

‘That’s not what I meant,’ Ransom responds, glancing at Tessa before going back to Elaine. ‘Holographic imagery at a discernible frame translation complete with built-in physics engines; self-learning AI that don’t just absorb knowledge at command on input but have independent and dependent learning faculties and by attachment … and that’s not going into the fact that either of them can give more than canned and prerecorded responses. No one’s come close to this level of progress.’

He emphasizes his point by gesturing towards Tessa’s projection. In all honesty, he resembles a teenager being taken to a natural history museum and seeing his first dinosaur skeleton.

‘That’s not entirely true,’ Sensei responds. ‘The Federation did have an AI program they highlighted in regards to automated Cordium operations and in-site labor; they even had the prototype for display.’

Ransom rolls his eyes.

‘For someone who has a call-sign so wise, you’re really an idiot when it comes to points of comparison.’

Sensei scowls, apparently refusing to reply.

Ransom closes his eyes, adopting a thoughtful stance once more. ‘At the risk of going wholly out of topic … what was Amaterasu Defense and Security like? Or rather, what was it like working under them? I’ve heard of mercenary corps being run efficiently, but from the outside looking in, you guys were a cut above the rest. Even without the AI, there aren’t many PMCs that could boast the standard that Amaterasu reached in finance or in operations.’

‘Again with the exaggeration. They didn’t even own their own AWACS.’

‘You need a license and a network to get an AWACS up and running … and Comstar-Jihad are one of the stingiest bastards in existence for that convenience,’ Ransom counters, rolling his eyes before turning his attentions back to you. ‘So, Wizard, what was Amaterasu like?’
>>
>A question for a question: ask about Comstar-Jihad’s AWACS Network Monopoly
>Tell them that you were only there for less than three years and were only flight-worthy for the last fifteen months
>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were. That it was more of a research and technology company and arms manufacturer than it was a PMC at times
>End the conversation
>[END INTERLUDE]
>Write-In
>>
>>4593374
>>A question for a question: ask about Comstar-Jihad’s AWACS Network Monopoly
>>
>>4593374
>A question for a question: ask about Comstar-Jihad’s AWACS Network Monopoly
>>
>>4593374
>Tell them that you were only there for less than three years and were only flight-worthy for the last fifteen months

Belkan science is a pathway to many abilities some consider to be unnatural
>>
>>4593374
>>Write-In
Tell them about my time with the squadron and amaterasu with a bit of sadness and nostalgia
>>
He looks at you as though you’d grown another head.

‘Wait, you’re asking me that question?’

You nod … and clarify that it wasn’t so much that you were confused as to what Comstar-Jihad was, but rather just what made them what they were. Despite being able to walk around with what was as close to a living encyclopedia in the palm of your hand, you were also quite interested in the perspectives of your teammates regarding what was effectively a nation that held the balance of a defense communications in the palm of their hands for what seemed like the last century or so.

‘Well … as a soldier of the Orleasian Kingdom, I have to answers for you: do you want to hear the one you can read online or do you want the one that’s a diplomatic no-no?’

>The former
>The latter
>Ask Sensei instead
>Write-In
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>>4593543
>The latter
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>>4593543
>The latter
May as well know what we may be dealing with.
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>>4593543
>>The latter
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>>4593543
>The latter
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>>4593543
>>Write-In
Say Yes
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‘Off-the-record, I consider Comstar-Jihad an anomaly among anomalies,’ he starts, his expression of one of distaste. ‘Not in the sense that they’re … strange, but they have a seat of power that’s just too unstable to totally throw off and take for yourself. There’s no corporation in the world that has more than 4 percent share of the defense network grid and information logistics … and then there’s Comstar-Jihad owns pretty much everything west of the Severed Dunes and then some. They practically run a toll booth on how people wage war; I’m not talking about petty conflicts over scraps of land: I’m talking about all-out war.

Their stranglehold over the wide war network and the Cordium-resistant tech is just too valuable to pass on for most PMCs and countries looking to keep their regiments and airborne forces in the fight … and pissing off Comstar-Jihad is a good way of committing suicide on any ambitious campaigns. Can’t say that I’m a fan of having to make nice with those bearded assholes under the threat of having to fly blind in a foreign AO, but that’s how things are, even here in Orleas. You can fight an enemy nation with arms … but I don’t think anyone’s figured out how to fight a decentralized warfare bureaucracy and private exchange just yet.’

He snorts, closing his eyes as he crosses his arms over his chest.

‘Maybe that should be the next logical step for defense AI: crashing a market would probably destroy more lives and a sortie.’

Elaine smiles wryly, tilting her head, but otherwise remains silent.

‘I apologize for that, by the way … if you couldn’t tell, I don’t really like them all that much but you can’t throw ink at them anywhere without someone stepping in and telling you that you’re way out of line. You were a Merc, so you could probably get away with saying anything under the sun, but in the service, we’re told not to step on anyone’s toes, you know? Still … if it were up to me, I’d … well, I wouldn’t break it off just yet either, I guess. It’s frustrating at times flying up there and having to piggy-back on their premium service—’

The sarcasm in his voice is so palpable you feel like you could descale a fish with it.

‘—but they are where they are for a good reason … and between a comm array owned by Comstar-Jihad or some jerry-rigged homebrew dish in the middle of a Cordium Anomaly, I’ll make that deal with the devil any time.’

You do the only thing you can do: you nod; not in agreement, but in understanding.

‘Well, that’s my rant,’ he finishes, lightly swinging his arms by his side. ‘So, back to your time with Ameterasu …’

>Tell them that you were only there for less than three years and were only flight-worthy for the last fifteen months
>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were.
>Dodge the question and leave
>[END INTERLUDE]
>Write-In
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>>4593638
>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were.
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>>4593638
>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were.
Probably also lead into a story or two about our previous squadron, probably wonder out loud what happened to our last surviving member, unless something happened to him on the mission and I missed it.
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>>4593638
>Tell them that you were only there for less than three years and were only flight-worthy for the last fifteen months
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>>4593638
>>Write-In
Tell them about my time with the squadron and amaterasu with a bit of sadness and nostalgia
Putting this again
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>>4593638
>Tell them that you were only there for less than three years and were only flight-worthy for the last fifteen months
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>>4593638
In hindsight, this post is one of my weaker efforts. It totally destroys the Ace Combat tone even if it does communicate what I want it to. I apologize.
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>>4593638
>>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were.
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>>4593717
Wait, I take that back. It didn't communicate even half of what I wanted it to say.

>Ransom doesn't like the idea of the Comstar-Jihad having a monopoly on Cordium-proof radar arrays for communication
>Comstar-Jihad is Saudi Arabia pushed up North and erected an Empire based on telecommunications, but is otherwise not recognized as a nation, just an entity
>Comstar-Jihad is the reason behind the AWACS being a luxury for nations, as owning one means you have enough dough or influence to have Comstar-Jihad's arrays, which were superior even to the former Federation's.
>Comstar-Jihad is a MegaCorp in the traditional sense, Iron Mongers by perception from those on the outside looking in.
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>>4593638
>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were

Great, now we have Space Cult AT&T in this universe too, this should be an interesting ride for sure
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>>4593638
>Tell them that they were as advanced as he says they were.

>>4593828
Better be paying those bills, fucko.
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>>4593725
What of the pillars of communications within Cascadia? Are they able to just laugh at Comstar-Jihad thanks to having their own stuff?
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>>4594076
In my Quest, Cascadia's independence was in the interests of Comstar-Jihad, so they allowed their AWACS network to be leased out for the conflict just fine (within reason). They became more influential after the war, as with the new Cordium deposits popping up all along the planet, anomalous storms started disrupting communications for those fighting on these fronts. I don't know how RB has it for his game, but that's how I have it in the Quest.
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>>4593638
>Tell them they were an oligarchy who took advantage of the calamity to hoard resources and creating a foundation of the Coalition before usurping their power
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I'll be running in less than 40 minutes. Keeping it tight, guys.
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>>4596773
When are you changing threads?
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>>4596785
When it falls off the board likely.
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Ransom communicates a self-satisfied nod, crossing his arms over his chest.

‘As expected. No normal corporation—never mind a PMC—could have had the know-how to develop AI this advanced,’ he comments, throwing Tessa’s and Elaine’s projections an impressed glance before placing his hands on hips and turning back to you. ‘It must have been something else, being part of that process. I bet the paycheck wasn’t bad either.’

‘This coming from the trust fund baby,’ Sensei snipes, smirking as her eyes close and her head turns away, wearing a triumphant expression right as Ransom’s ears go red with embarrassment. ‘The last thing you need is a fatter bank account.’

‘Such concerns are irrelevant,’ Ransom declares, making an exaggerated show of haughtiness while Sensei’s smirk goes wider as her cat-like eyes snap and focus on his now-turned back. ‘I’m actually more interested in what you saw in your time there. Being a test pilot for an AI, communicating your habits and serving as the learning medium for their design, their development … the fine-tuning. I think a lot of people would handily give up their trust funds’—he makes an emphasis on that last word—‘just to see how Amaterasu made such strides. You can’t blame anyone for being curious for wanting to throw back the curtain just to see how the magic works.

You cock an eyebrow, fixing him with an amused look.

‘Did I say something wrong?’

>Point out that in the acquisition, he’s in pretty much given a position to see the how, what and why of the development process
>Tell him that he’s pretty much surrounded by ex-Amaterasu employees and can freely ask the coats on what curiosities he wishes to satisfy
>Wave it off
>End conversation
>[END INTERLUDE]
>Write-In
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>>4596834
>>Point out that in the acquisition, he’s in pretty much given a position to see the how, what and why of the development process
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>>4596834
>Look behind the curtain? You are going to be one of the magicians. I can't wait to see how your AIs turn out.
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>>4596834
>Point out that in the acquisition, he’s in pretty much given a position to see the how, what and why of the development process
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