Dual Trigger Extras

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Dual Trigger Extras

Post by Chronic Guardian on Mon 15 Aug 2016 - 10:44

11-Dual Trigger Extra: Apologia
By Chronic Guardian
Author's Note: Written for Twelve Shots of Summer: Trinity Limit [week 11: For the Ones Who Couldn't Make It/Gardening].

Claes thought it was funny: for all the advancement mankind had been doing in the last few decades, all it took was one little incident to shatter the illusion of control. The Padania movement in Northern Italy was one example, but for her purposes in the moment the weather was a more fitting illustration. In an age where scientists could construct a biomechanical body and rewrite the basic behaviors and memories of a person it was amusing that a storm could take them by surprise.

And yet here they were.

It wasn't one of those storms that had been predicted and tracked for the last few days; Claes had only seen the clouds rolling in because she'd been trying to paint a landscape earlier. That was the problem with these things: everything seemed to be going normally until it wasn't. This was one of those rare winter squalls aiming to disrupt the otherwise temperate Lazio climate. Frankly, she wouldn't care if she wasn't raising a few biennials in her garden. As things were, though, she decided it was best to add a layer of protection to the caraway to compensate for shallow roots. It would be a shame to lose her work to a cold shock; losing the crop now would mean she'd have to wait another two years before she got to try the blooms.

The wind was already biting cold when she stepped outside and by the time she arrived at her gardening shed the first flakes were falling. Claes merely set her lip and grabbed a few translucent tarps. She would also need something to prop them up, but she was quickly running out of both time and hands for that.

She'd just found some old tomato cages when someone interrupted her. "Um, Claes?"

Claes threw a look over her shoulder. Terra, one of the more reclusive cyborgs stood a respectful distance away, hands behind her back.
"Do you… have a minute?"

Claes turned her attention back to gathering supplies and pushed an armload of tarps towards the door. "Help me out with this," she told the other girl. "Then we'll talk."

"Ah!" Although she wasn't looking, Claes could bet with reasonable certainty that Terra's face had just flushed. The girl was shy and sensitive, even more than Henrietta. There was a brief pause before Claes heard the rustle of the tarps being gathered up. "R-right!"

Loading up on her own cargo of tomato cages, Claes left the shed and set off for her garden with Terra in tow.

It was really coming down by the time they finished their work. There was one extra tarp left over and they used it as a shield to cover their retreat back to the campus dorms. Once there, Claes gave Terra an invitation to tea. She'd actually been looking forward to reading, but if Terra didn't get her promised reward she'd probably just mope outside the door. Everyone else was out on missions trying to track down the missing elements of the de Sica Fratello so it was just the two of them in the dorms. Claes didn't see herself as a particularly sympathetic listener, but if Terra was really that preoccupied it was probably best to just get it out of the way.

They met again after changing into dry clothes. Claes served a licorice tea, biting and sweet. No one else really cared for it so Claes was taking this opportunity to indulge in the flavor.

"So…" Claes said, sitting down across from Terra. She tried to think of what Triela might say in this situation. Claes understood the psychological importance of confidance, but she wasn't used to initiating it. Frankly, she also didn't get why Terra wasn't bringing this up with Dr. Bianchi, the resident psych expert. To be fair, Terra tended to tick to a different metronome so even in the complex web of cyborg thought processes she was still kind of a unique snowflake. That didn't stop Claes from asking the obvious question between them though. It was probably as good a starting place as any. "Why do you need to talk to me?"

"Oh, well," Terra fidgeted and looked away. "I… I did something when we were out on our last—"

"I meant, 'why me'?" Claes sighed, adjusting her glasses. "Why not your handler or Bianchi?"

Terra's shoulders hunched and her face flushed. "Oh! I… Um… well, Claes?"

Claes eased her cheek down to rest on her hand. If this kept up, maybe Triela would come home and relieve her before Terra stammered her way through some semblance of a preamble.

"I… I think I did something I wasn't supposed to."

Claes paused. It was at least something substantial she could start with. Terra was probably referring to Agency policy, but it wasn't outside the realm of possibility that she'd done something without—or even against—her handler's consent.

"All right…" Claes nodded as she processed the deduction. "And?"

"I don't know if Cyan will get in trouble for it," Terra went on. Claes watched as the girl's eyes wandered around the room, finally settling on Triela's teddy bear collection. "If I tell him, he has to tell. And you know it's Bianchi's job to figure out if there's something wrong with us."

The situation was increasingly sounding like something she wasn't qualified to deal with. Claes lifted her head and casually folded her hands as she prepared to give Terra fair warning. Putting on a slight frown, she asked, "So what makes you think I won't tell?"

"Well… I don't think they would ask you," Terra explained as a grimace flickered over her face. "It's not your job, and usually people don't talk to you about stuff like this."

"They'll know we talked," Claes pointed out calmly. "The campus surveillance cameras saw you come in here. If they suspect something, they won't ignore me as a resource. And if they ask—"

"That's why I've got to talk about it now," Terra cut in. She immediately looked down and pressed her lips together. "...Please? I-I just want to talk. I need to get this out before I do something to make them suspicious."

Claes didn't particularly care for the way this conversation was going. In general, she had trouble being sympathetic on emotional matters. Suck it up, she wanted to say. Just go tell Bianchi. She didn't have time to play accomplice in coddling Terra.

"Please," Terra pleaded, meeting Claes' serene gaze with an effort. "I won't blame you if you tell them."

"Don't be stupid," Claes sighed. "If this is really that important and they find out you told me instead of them you'll be reconditioned."

Terra stopped to take a deep breath. Claes thought that was an an extremely collected reaction, all things considered. Reconditioning was the sort of thing cyborgs knew they didn't want and knew they couldn't fight. It wiped away memories, made you go through training again, and, in a worst case scenario, left you unfit for service. Claes knew she'd been reconditioned once before. The staff tried not to talk about it, but she understood that this wasn't her first life as a cyborg. She hadn't been born a test-subject; military cyborgs were too expensive to waste on that. No, they were making the best of a mistake. The problem was, Claes never knew if the mistake was her fault or not.

And then here was Terra, getting ready to send herself into reconditioning all because she couldn't just play by the rules and do what she was supposed to. A thought began gnawing at the back of Claes' mind: maybe she was jealous. Maybe she hated Terra for treating her functional life so carelessly.

Maybe she was stopping Terra from doing the same thing that made them recondition her.

"It's okay," Terra said at last. "They reconditioned me once already. I… I don't think it worked the way they wanted it to."

Claes popped an eyebrow. "So you're seeing how far you can push them?" How childish...


Instead of denying the assertion, Terra just leaned back and squared her shoulders. "I don't want to drag anyone down with me. Even if they do find out we talked, we can say you didn't mean to. Even if you tell on me, it'll be better than Cyan or Bianchi having to do it."

"And why is that?"

"Because you don't care," Terra said simply. Claes froze. "It hurts them. It's their job, I know, and they're grown ups, but… if they knew what I did then I think it would hurt them to say I have to be reconditioned for it. If you tell on me, maybe I won't have to do that to them."

Claes just stared for a moment. Terra didn't mean it as an insult, she meant it as a statement of fact. Claes could respect that, but she didn't particularly expect it from a cyborg. There were still logical holes here and there that Claes just knew would come back to bite them, but Terra seemed prepared for that. What it really boiled down to was that Claes had two choices: either throw Terra out now and get a lecture from Triela about it later, or just sit and listen for a while and be ready to tell the doctors during her next check-up. Shaking her head, Claes decided she would risk the second.

"All right…" Claes breathed a sigh and recentered her focus on Terra. "Tell me, what happened."

Terra's anxiety melted into shaky relief and she tried to form a smile in gratitude. Claes gave a slight frown. That was enough to make the other girl duck in apology and actually get to the point this time.

"Okay," Terra said slowly. "I guess the really important part is just… there was someone I think I should've killed."

"A target?"

Terra gave a sad smile. "Not exactly..."

}§{

Terra breathed hard. The gun in her hand was warm. The blood on her back was getting cold. It wasn't her blood. She'd been carrying a corpse, someone to lay the blame on. He'd been a Padania supporter. Now he was dead.

So was the man he'd been protecting. That man was Terra's target. She didn't understand why—she didn't need to know why. She made sure to fire before the questions could make it out. The conditioning was supposed to stop them, but her conditioning was broken in places. The doctors said it was the magitek. Terra only knew that it hurt.

The sound of a door opening drew her attention and she snapped into a combat pose. Someone gasped as Terra aligned her sights on them, taking the briefest of moments to identify whether or not they were Agency backup staff. They weren't. It was a woman, probably a civilian, probably linked to the target. Terra let her instincts kick in and fire.

The woman toppled backwards and fell crying. Terra tried to fire again to silence her. It was strange, she could have sworn she'd seen a bullet go through the woman's throat. There shouldn't be any sound now, even if she had survived.

Then Terra realized it wasn't a woman's cry, it was a baby's.

}§{

"A baby..." Claes echoed.

"I… I couldn't do it," Terra said. "Part of me knew I had to kill it. That's what the conditioning says: kill anything that sees you on assignment, anything connected to the target. I knew if I was just making a future enemy, really, I did. But something… well… someone else stopped me."

"Another guard?"

"No," Terra looked away and paused for a moment as if thinking about how to say the next part. "...Claes, have you ever felt like there's someone else hiding in your head? Like… there's someone this body used to belong to that the conditioning tried to paint over?"

Claes leaned forward to rest her chin on her interlocked fingers. "That's called schizophrenia." She decided against relating herself to the subject. Some doors were meant to stay closed.

"...I had my fingers around its neck. When I couldn't shoot, I thought she'd at least let me end it that way."

"But you didn't."

"No...I didn't."

"So what did you do?"

"I listened to the other girl."

}§{

Terra forced herself to a stand as she held the infant to her chest. It was still crying. It would give her away. She would walk outside with blood on her clothes and someone would shoot her through the eye before she had a chance to draw. She was terrified. This was a horrible idea.

And yet, her arms were frozen. She cradled the baby like she would cradle a rifle.


Don't worry, this will work.

She grimaced and shook her head. This was crazy. She'd left her handgun with the dead bodyguard. The bullets in the target would match its barrel's bore. All the loose ends were tied up except for the tiny life in her hands that she somehow couldn't end despite how fragile it was. She could feel its ribcage heaving. If she contracted her arms a little further, she would crush its lungs. But she didn't. She couldn't. Something was stopping her.

She heard movement outside, the sound of boots clacking down the street. Cyan was watching the getaway car to make sure the target didn't escape, he couldn't help her unless she called. If she called, he would know she'd left someone alive. No, she shook her head to herself, she couldn't call. She had to get out of here on her own.

Forcing herself out of her trance, Terra moved her legs and took shaky steps down the stairs. She tried to remember the layout of the house, to picture where the windows and doors were. A sound made her stop. Someone was knocking at the front. Footsteps were pounding to the other sides of the house.

The ground floor wasn't an option anymore, she'd have to jump.

Terra reversed direction and started moving up the stairs as the front door barked and came off its hinges. "Stop!" someone yelled. The words were followed by a gunshot. Terra felt it pierce the back of her right calf. It only hurt for an instant. She kept moving.

She looked out the window. There was another house close by. It probably had people in it. If she went that way, she would have to kill them. It doesn't matter, she told herself. You can't stay here. You have to jump.

She nodded grimly and held the baby a little closer. It was still crying. She wanted to cry too. The tears wouldn't come. That was all right, it was probably wrong for her anyway.

She took a deep breath and got ready to charge when her heart seized and her body jerked backwards. A hand had closed around her arm.

A gasp escaped her lips as a thought forced its way to the surface. This is where I die…

The world became blurry. She felt herself being jostled left and right, all the while still held around her arm. Any moment they would turn her around and shoot. Part of her was just ready for it to end, to hear that discrete judgment and just not be there anymore. Another part was ready to fight with whatever she had to to survive. To be honest, she completely forgot she was holding a crying infant in her arms. Her mind was somewhere else, waiting for a signal that wasn't coming. She tried to focus, to pull herself back together. Slowly, she reconnected her cognitive process to the signals coming from her nervous system.

She was being shaken.

"Are you all right?" Someone was asking. "Can you hear me?"

Another voice cursed. "She's in shock. She just saw them get murdered. Look at the blood, she's probably hurt too."

"Is she their child?"

"No, maybe the neighbor's girl."

"Get her out of here! She's a witness, she's probably still in danger. Get her to the safe house down the street."

Terra felt movement as another hand grabbed her shoulder. With the extra weight of her cybernetic body, she could have stopped them just by standing in place. Somehow, she knew to just go along though. They started to guide her back down the stairs.

As they left the building, a group surrounded her and made a human wall. They were all faced outward though. It belatedly occurred to Terra that they weren't trying to restrain her, they were trying to protect her. It was funny in a very sad way. She had just killed three of their own and now they were taking her back to their base. Still, she moved her feet and made sure not to give too much resistance. If they found out she was a cyborg now then it was all over for sure.


And why shouldn't it be? she asked herself. I killed them. They should kill me.


No! I was only doing what they told me to! another voice answered vehemently. It was for Cyan. It was all I could do…

She tried to look for Cyan's hiding place as they walked hurriedly down the street. Would he come to save her?


No, she grimaced. That would be suicide. Handlers don't die for their cyborgs.

She watched with a sinking stomach as they moved further and further away from the site of the mission. Finally, she was led through a door and brought to a fire place. People talked over her head and the baby was taken from her arms. Someone brought her a cup of something warm and dabbed a wash cloth over the bullet wound in her leg. Terra just waited, ears searching for the sound of a cocking gun.

It never happened. They moved her to the attic and left her alone. For a moment, she just lay there watching the moonlight fall in through a small window. She blinked. Feeling rushed back into her body and she shivered. She was alive—and she was in the lion's mouth.

Terra sat up and looked at the stairs leading down into the rest of the house. She was in a Padania safe-house. She could walk down those stairs and tear her enemies apart from the inside with her bare hands. That would make up for this. From what Cyan said, Padania was spread mainly by people trying to avenge their loved ones. She had to cut the circle off here and kill them before they had a chance to retaliate. She could still salvage the situation and do what she was meant to do.

She thought about it a moment more and then shook her head. Maybe if I were another girl, she told herself. But not me. I'll stop and I won't know why. Once she killed one, she would have to kill another. She would kill and kill until she couldn't stand it anymore and they killed her instead.I have to get out of here, I have to get back to Cyan.

Yes… escape was probably best. Her eyes moved to the lone window. It was pointing away from the street. Her conditioning was still screaming at her to descend the stairs and kill the people who took her in. She set her lip and prepared to leap. She wasn't listening anymore.

Compared to the rest of the night, the jump was easy. She crashed through the window and tucked into a roll as she hit the ground. Her carbon-fiber spine took the momentum with grace and she was off running again before the glass finished clattering down behind her. They would probably wonder where her body went.


No… they'll probably figure out you were never normal to begin with. It hurt to think that. She winced. She could imagine the look of horror as they put the pieces together and realized they'd taken a weapon home. Was sparing them a good enough apology for what she'd done that night? Probably not. It'd probably just make them fight harder. Someday, she might even be shooting the ones who thought they were protecting her.

But none of that mattered right now. Right now, she just needed to get back to Cyan. She knew where the rendezvous point was, if she could catch her bearings then she could get there pretty easily. So long as she avoided the lingering Padania elements in the area, she would be fine. There was no thinking, no second guessing, just one foot in front of the other. She moved by instinct. Nobody saw her, nobody heard. She was just another shadow in the night.

Cyan had his gun trained on the door when she walked in. For a moment she stared down the barrel and wondered if he would shoot. He didn't. He checked behind her before lowering the firearm and resting a hand on her shoulder. At his touch, Terra felt herself solidify. It was like becoming a real, living person after wandering as a ghost. Everything tearing her apart fell silent and for a moment she felt safe again.

Then Cyan spoke.

"Terra, are you all right?"

A lump formed in her throat. She looked up into his eyes and tried to force some words out. What was there to say? He knew something was wrong, she could hear it in his voice. How did she tell him she'd run away? She'd let him down. She'd had a chance to stop problems before they happened and she didn't take it.

I'm sorry, she wanted to say. I'm so sorry, Cyan. I meant to make you proud. I wanted to listen. I tried. I just…
Just what? Wasn't strong enough? Decided it was wrong? Was broken? She knew what she was supposed to do and she hadn't done it. That was the end of the story, wasn't it?

"Terra?"

"I..." She swallowed. Her mind was still blank. She wanted to feel, to think, to say something, but when she looked inside she came up empty. She couldn't lie, but she couldn't tell him what she'd done either. She was like a jammed bullet shell, already spent, caught between inside and out. She was just waiting for him to cycle the chamber and let her go.

"...Did you eliminate the target?"

"...Yes." Yes, that was true. She'd done what they set out to do. The Padania agent was dead. Even if someone else took over for him, it would take time to adapt. The operation would be wounded, vulnerable. She had still accomplished something. There would still be another day.

But I should have done more.

"Good. Good work, Terra," Cyan straightened up and looked towards the door again. "Come, they're still in disarray."

And just like that, the world began moving again. Nothing had happened, she'd just finished the mission. "Yes, sir."

They left without being noticed. Terra didn't look back. She didn't need to be reminded of the weeds she'd left untended, of the life that would someday grow up to hate her. She would see them again. For now, she just had to get away.

...So why did it still feel wrong?

}§{

Claes poured Terra another cup of tea. The other girl drank it without adding sugar. They sat in silence as slush hit the window in muted thumps. It was getting dark outside. Across the way, Claes could see the lights of the main compound flickering off as the staff shut down for the day and went home.


"You know…" Claes began, lifting her own cup. "They'll come back. The strength of the Padania movement is with the people: the more of them you kill, the more come to avenge them."

Terra heaved a sigh, but still met Claes eyes. "...I know. All of them who thought they needed to protect me… the next time we'll probably be enemies. I wonder what they'll think when they find out what they saved."

"...Why do you do that?"

"Do what?"

"You're trying to understand them," Claes explained. "Don't you think that's a little dangerous?"

"...I'm sorry," Terra shook her head, sending a shiver through the blonde curls spilling out of her ponytail. She looked like a classically depicted angel—serene, delicate, somehow transcendent in a way. A small, sad smile moved across her lips. "I just… wish it wasn't this way. I wish it were simple, Claes. I wish they'd just shot me. But..."

"Hmph..."

"...What?"

"It's funny," Claes said, peering into her tea. "How far we've come, how much we're able to control. And even then there's still that little bit left on the side that just doesn't want to cooperate with the program."

"I know, I'm sorry, I just—"

Claes looked up at Terra and gave her a frank look. "So then what are you going to do about it?"

Terra paused, her mouth half open as if an answer had gotten stuck in her throat.

"Because unless you do something about it," Claes went on, "you might as well not be sorry at all."

The other girl looked down at her hands. A storm flickered through her eyes, but her face stayed calm. "Is… is that right?"

Claes quietly sipped her tea and declined to repeat herself. Terra had heard the first time.

"But... whose fault was it…?"

"Does it matter?" Claes pressed. It was odd to see someone so resilient to the conditioning. Most cyborgs did their duty without a second thought.

Terra set her mouth and put down her cup. "Yes, yes it does." She didn't raise her voice, but her tone became more clear. "It matters if I was wrong. Because if I'm sorry for me, then I have to do something—I have to kill the girl in my head and keep killing whoever they point me at. But maybe that's not it, Claes. Maybe she stopped me from doing something wrong I thought was right. Maybe it's a black hole… I mean, we're supposed to be making Italy a safe place, right? But it looks like we just end up hurting it more. I have to know, Claes. Unless I know the other girl was wrong, I can't stop her."

The words pressed against Claes' mind, pushing up questions that she knew the conditioning would clamp down on in an instant. What were they really doing? Was this the right solution? Why did people need to die? When did it all stop? Who would still be alive at the end of it all?

A good soldier always asks questions, Claes. You want to be a good agent? Think for yourself. You'll never know right from wrong if you always let them decide it for you.


Claes blinked as the words echoed in her head. They were familiar. She knew the voice, she'd heard it before. And yet… she couldn't remember who it belonged to. That was another question the conditioning clipped off before she could think it out properly. Her head started to buzz and a slight ache began creeping in behind her eyes. Like dropping an anchor in the midst of a storm, she squeezed her eyes shut and stopped thinking as she waited for it all to pass.

When things calmed down and she opened her eyelids, she felt tears trying to form.

Across the table, Terra was patiently watching. Claes felt her lips part, but didn't know what to say. She couldn't explain herself. All she knew was that the conditioning was reacting. Something was wrong.

No… not wrong, she told herself, inhaling slowly. Just unsanctioned.

"You know..." Terra began again, more quietly this time. "If I'm wrong, maybe you should tell them. If I get reconditioned again, it might actually work this time."

A small smile made its way to Claes' face. She finished her tea and set the cup down before pouring a little more. "Terra," she said. "Do you want to be a good agent?"

Terra sighed and looked down at her hands again. "I want to be right."

"Then keep asking questions, and don't be sorry about what you find."

}fin{


Last edited by Chronic Guardian on Thu 15 Sep 2016 - 13:07; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Typos)

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


...Was that too lighthearted?
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Chronic Guardian

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Forum Posts : 76

Location : Down at the Pizzeria

Fan of : Rico, Alphonso, and various writers of tremendous talent

Original Characters : Originality? CG has none of that.

Comments : CG is to the GsG fandom as Puddleglum is to Marshwiggles. He's not that much more cheerful, but certainly enough to warrant an exile.

Registration date : 2016-07-03
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Re: Dual Trigger Extras

Post by Chronic Guardian on Thu 18 Aug 2016 - 14:38

Dual Trigger Extra: Un Partito di Tè

by Chronic Guardian


A/N: Written for the Twelve Shots of Summer week 3(Tea Party).
Well... this one may be a bit dated, but it's worth sharing if only to showcase Laguna and Quistis. They'll have more serious adventures down the line, but this is what we've got for now.
-CG

}§{

Laguna hugged his machine gun a little closer and cringed behind his cover. The clatter and whiz of bullets lodging themselves in the wall in rapid succession was making his ears ring. Plaster dust and gun smoke were mingling in the air and taking up unwanted residence in his lungs. Expelling the stuff with a forceful cough, he tugged up his collar and tried to breath through whatever mild filtering it offered.

He was biding his time. If the thug wanted to waste ammunition carving holes in the walls, that was fine by him.

*Crack*

A piece of dry wall flew off its resting place and nicked his cheek, eliciting a grimace. Fine so long as it doesn't end up killing me, anyway.

Tightening his grip, he breathed in and waited for the silence he knew was coming.

Predictably, the ratta-tat-tat of his opponent's SMG was suddenly replaced by the sound every novice hears too late.


Click, click, click.

Laguna seized the moment, bursting around the corner and rushing, gun blazing, straight at the man at the end of the hallway. The man panicked, lost his handle on the clip he'd been trying to load, and subsequently let out a pathetic cry as Laguna closed in.

"Surrender!"

The man stared, apparently taking a moment to realize he wasn't dead yet, and began loading another spare clip. He was quickly interrupted by the butt end of Laguna's gun making sharp contact with his face. He gave a final gargle as his eyes rolled backward and he crumpled to the ground.

Laguna sighed and lowered his weapon. "For the record, I did ask nicely."

"After missing repeatedly at under twelve yards," a girl's voice noted from behind him. "Either you need more time at the range, or it's finally time to retire that piece of junk."

Throwing a glance over his shoulder at the approaching blonde toting an M4 carbine, Laguna threw his hands up defensively. "C'mon, Quis! You know I missed on purpose. We want this one alive."

"Why not have me do it then?" the girl asked, quirking an eyebrow as she reached his side. "I mean... I was just behind you. Two seconds and we wouldn't've had to risk anything."

"Two seconds and he would've reloaded," Laguna told her flatly, relieving the unconscious man of his remaining armaments. Were the other girls this defensive about snagging the kill? "I know you like to charge in there like a juggernaut, but ya need to learn some situations require a little more tact, alright? Coming home full of bullet holes after every mission isn't gonna help us in the long run."

"..."

He shook his head and straightened up. "Look..." He attempted a smile and gave her a shoulder pat. "You can take him back to the support agents for me if you want. Thanks for clearing the lobby."

The blonde girl remained silent, declining to show any satisfaction with the offering, but did obediently drape the downed man over her shoulders before falling into step behind her Handler.

Laguna frowned to himself as they left the scene to return home. Any other Handler would probably be evaluating his girl's performance right now. Heck, any other Handler probably would've been watching from the getaway van letting his cyborg handle the whole mission herself.

And she probably would've preferred it that way too. He sighed and looked to the sky, trying to sort out how he was going to deal with this. That girl is way too serious.

If only he could teach her to unwind somehow...

}§{

"A tea party?" Jean Croce, head of the Handlers, looked over the messily handwritten request with his usual unforgiving scrutiny.

"Yeah!" Laguna Loire, the Portuguese recruit, was making a valiant effort to remain congenial despite the setting. "All fratelli welcome! Everyone needs a break now and then, right? Besides, it'll give us an' the girls a good chance to all get better acquainted."

Jean scowled at him. "Shouldn't you be more worried about your reports, Mr. Loire? We want a full account and evaluation of your cyborg's performance by tomorrow morning."

"No worries," Laguna assured him a with a smile. "I've got it all covered, Mr. Croce, sir!"

"..."

"...So is that a yes?"

Jean turned back to observing his cyborg's range practice. "So long as you do your work, I don't care how you waste your time."

Laguna beamed and threw a salute. "Thank you, sir! I'll tell the others it has your official sanction!"

"..." It certainly wasn't what he'd meant, but telling that to Laguna was like telling a sawed-barrel shotgun to stay accurate. Besides, it wasn't like there was an actual chance that the other Handlers would take him seriously. Really, the biggest worry Jean could have about the situation was Laguna coming back to continue interrupting practice.

"Sir?"

He lowered his eyebrows and returned to his cyborg, who had stopped shooting–without his permission–and was giving him a curious look over her shoulder.

"D'you think I could go to that tea party thing, sir?"

Jean refrained from slapping her across the face for even asking such a stupid question and simply pressed her hands back to the rifle. "Keep practicing, Rico," he ordered curtly.

Much to his satisfaction, she was smart enough to take the hint. "Yes sir." She pressed her eye to the scope and continued on as if nothing of consequence had happened.

Because as far as Jean was concerned, nothing had.

}§{

"Sir?"

Quistis' voice came muffled through the wooden door of Laguna's room. He straightened in his swivel chair and blinked, not having expected her to return so early. Twisting to face the room's entry, he brushed back some of his raven-dark bangs and cleared his throat. "Yeah? C'mon in, Quis."

She obeyed, silently opening and closing the door with more grace than its hinges ever allowed him and walking a few steps in clipped stride before standing at attention at a respectful distance.

"Sir," she greeted him in a cool, even voice, her sky blue eyes as impassive as ever. She extended a collection of pages to him and waited patiently to be relieved of the burden.

He brightened up. "Ah, the reports!" he beamed as he received the notes and went over the summation of their latest raid as well as an impressively objective self-made progress report. He nodded in approval. The girl could stand some improvement in making it less dry, but he doubted the book keepers would mind too terribly much. "Jean'll be happy to see these."

"Will that be all for the day, sir?"

He weighed the question with a slight frown before going back to his work at the desk. "...Why not? You've done good, Quis. Go get in some free time."

It took him a moment to realize she didn't move. Pausing again, he popped a curious eyebrow and looked back at her.

"Well..?"

"If the reports are done, then you should be free to take me down to the range, correct?"
This one warranted an actual frown. "S'matter, Quis?" he asked. "You know the way there, right?"

"SWA Armory Conduct Code Section Two-A, paragraph two," she recited, her voice taking a barely noticeable dip. "All live rounds for cyborg use must be regulated by way of an authorized Handler and accounted for at all times. Rounds unused during training and missions will be either checked back into the armory or otherwise stored under documentation outside of cyborg access. Furthermore, all cyborg training with live rounds will be overseen by her respective Handler."

"Ouch," he grimaced and leaned back in his chair. So that's why she was so insistent about getting his work done... "Forgot about how tightwound these guys are... Tell ya what," he leaned forward again and retrieved one of the cards he was working on to hold up. "Finish these up with me an' we can practice straight through to dinner. Deal?"

Quistis pursed her lips as her eyes flickered some form of worry.

"They're invitations," he supplied, showing her one. She took the proffered card and gave it a disdainful look. "For a tea party."

"A tea party?"

He tried to ignore that edge in her voice. "Yeah, a tea party," he nodded and pulled the corners of his mouth up. "For us fratelli agents. I figure we could all use a chance to slow down a little."

"But, sir—"

"Uhp!" he held up a hand. Her eyes flashed in response but her mouth shut dutifully. Laguna winced; he forgot how sensitive the conditioning made her to his orders. "You... ummm..." he continued on a little softer. "You'll... thank me later."


Hopefully.

"... Yes sir."

He stared at her for a second longer as she silently picked up the spare card stock and began drafting while standing.

"Y'know... you could—"

She shot him a look that bordered on annoyed, but still somehow remained safely compliant.

Sighing, he got out of the chair and loosely gestured to it. "You take the desk, Quis. Alright?"

She didn't move. "Which leaves you where?"

Laguna scooped up his current efforts, as well as an old binder, and moved over to the bed, laying the cards out on the back of the binder, now perched on his lap.

"...Unacceptable."

He shrugged. "Hey, if it's what I want, you'll do it, right?"

"..." They both knew the answer to that one.

"So... sit."

Reluctantly, she obeyed.

Inside, Laguna swallowed another grimace and told himself things would get better eventually.

Eventually.

}§{

Jose Croce sat down at his desk and began to sort through the documents that had piled up while he was away on assignment. It was, in a way, a refreshing activity. Something he could always count on to be the same boring stuff that went to the same filing cabinets after filling out the same boxes in the analysis forms. It was a way to decompress, to finally have a moment to himself away from work and away from Henrietta. Marco Toni, who inhabited the desk across from him, never said much, and it allowed for a quiet moment without reminders to anything save the present.

So when he came across a slate-gray envelope addressed to him, he hesitantly accepted that his routine was about to be derailed.

"Know what this is?" Marco asked, holding up a similar envelope.

Jose shrugged. The writing was too ornamented to be any sort of official message from an internal source, and it didn't have any postage marks, so an outside sender wasn't an option either. Not to mention that Marco had one almost exactly like it.

Jose shook his head in reply and began opening the envelope. "Not a clue. Calligraphy practice?" The girls were often encouraged to engage in fine arts to refine their motor skills. Perhaps a Handler was simply exercising his cyborg's talents.

"For who? Priscilla?" Marco grunted. "Too plain for her."

"...What's it say?"

"You haven't opened yours?" the older man gave him a judgmental frown. "It's an invitation. Apparently the Laguna/Quistis fratello is throwing a tea party."


Tea party.


You'll come, right? Enrica's suppressed hopefulness echoed back in his mind. You won't let work get in the way again? Promise you'll have tea with me, please?

"... I think I'll pass."

"Same here," Marco sighed, "I've got enough to worry about keeping Angelica in workable form. What's that idiot thinking?"

"Maybe he just wants some company."

Marco gave an unsympathetic snort. "He's got a cyborg that can stand on her own two feet. He should be fine."

}§{

"Garamonde, what do you make of this?"

Cyan stroked his mustache and continued to stare thoughtfully at the invitation on his desk. "Is he aware of the joint raid? The scheduling completely eclipses it."

"Unlikely," Hilshire answered from across the desk, not looking up from his work. "We got those orders this morning, while he was away."

"Mmm," Cyan acknowledged, narrowing his eyes. "Regrettably, it appears we're at an impasse then. The mission cannot be compromised."

"Then we agree."

Cyan nodded. "Perhaps a note of apology, but nothing more. Mr. Loire must learn the harsh realities of our work."

}§{

After a duly cautious test against possible explosive content, Vincent finally opened the unmarked envelope.

He gave the card it carried a cursory skim before concluding that it wasn't anything pertinent to his work, or even a coded message, before promptly putting it through the shredder.

If he was asked about it later, he resolved to double book the time slot, just in case one prior engagement card fell through. Besides, if he was really trying he might be able to accomplish both anyway. Vincent Valentine didn't actually know much about his co-workers or what kind of tea parties they threw, and frankly he didn't care.

Besides... he was more of a red wine kind of guy.

}§{

The day came sooner than Quistis would've liked. Still, it was Signoire Laguna's order, and therefore her command. She tried to make up for the lost afternoon by tackling as much mission prep as possible before she was dragged away on her Handler's whims. Really, the difference between what the man wanted and what he needed was almost too far to comprehend.

Finally, just before noon, she abandoned her work and marched off to the mess hall loading dock to meet up with Laguna. The Portuguese man was waiting in the faded blue pick-up truck he insisted on driving. It was a stark contrast to the sports cars of his peers, but apparently his rural Portuguese heritage had instilled some awful taste in automotives. He smiled and waved at her out the driver's window. Making an effort to hold her head high, Quistis approached and boarded the vehicle without responding.

"Hey there, Quis!" her Handler greeted her. "How's the morning?"

"Productive," she reported, strapping herself in. They wouldn't even be leaving the compound, nor did she expect Laguna to crash, but force of habit demanded to be adhered to. "I've re-cleaned our weapons and begun drafting possible approach routes for our next mission for your consideration, sir."

"Atta girl," he reached over to rub the top of her head. She suffered the action with dignity. "So, you hungry?"

It was a stupid question. While her synthetic muscles didn't eat calories at quite the alarming rate that the earlier models did, she still required a hearty intake to maintain the system; not to mention that her body was still struggling to grow despite the stunting effects of the conditioning. Most active cyborgs were almost constantly in some state of hunger, a fact the techs tried to suppress through specialized meal plans. However, in the case that a meal was missed – such as the breakfast she'd worked through this morning – it accentuated the problem.

"Okay, okay," he chuckled, putting the car in gear. "Don't worry. A picnic fit for a king awaits."

She gave him a pointed look.

"...Or, perhaps just a regional governor," he adjusted. "Sorry, I forgot how much hyperbole gets under your skin."

"..."

Apparently that was enough to shut him up. At least until the end of the car ride. He stopped upwind of the practice ranges along a fence of trees and began unloading their meal from boxes he'd tightly crammed into the back seat.

"C'mon, Quis, give me a hand!"

She acquiesced with a neutral look. Moving boxes seemed like a pretty menial use for millions of euros in taxpayers money, but so was a picnic tea. So long as she was along for the ride, she was resolved to at least be useful.

It wasn't long though before the smell of whatever it was Laguna had packed got to her. No matter how much she'd like to deny it, she really was pretty hungry, and whatever was in the boxes was making her mouth water. Before Laguna could finish unpacking the first one, she had already brought out all the others and was waiting to see if it was simply her appetite talking, or if the promised meal was as good as it smelled.

Glazed pastries, perfectly browned cookies, and stuffed breads appeared alongside a variety of cheeses and a strange device looking like a glorified water cooler which Signore Laguna filled with a thermos of steaming water.

"It's a samonov!" Laguna explained as he proceeded to brew tea in the metal tank. "Got it at an antique shop, 'specially for today."

Quistis gave the half-polished tea tank a measuring look and made a few estimates on just how much the antique shop owner had cheated her Handler.

Before she could look away, Laguna noticed her expression and smiled. Of course he would smile...

"Don't worry," he told her, replacing the lid. "I cleaned the inside much better. The tea's not gonna taste like ten year's dust."

"...What kind of tea?"

"Not a clue," he told her, haplessly honest as ever. "It had some weird Asian name I couldn't pronounce. I figure so long as I could read the brewing instructions, we're good. Besides..." he tapped his fingers beside the nearby sugar bowl. "I brought refill, just in case it turns out to be a dud."

"Your confidence is overwhelming."

He frowned. "That... actually wasn't supposed to come across as... hold on a minute, you're being wry, aren't you?"

"Maybe," she replied in a blank tone.

She held back a wince as her stomach reminded her that lunch still needed to happen, and soon, preferably. "… When can we eat?"

"Oh, the great warrior Quistis wants to eat my cooking? Let's see here..." Laguna drawled out dramatically, assuming a thinking pose. "Well, I guess a cookie or two can't hurt. Besides, the others will be here any minute."

Quistis quickly indulged in the offer, stuffing in a Swedish butter cookie and a ginger snap, before his words processed in her mind.

"You made this?" She held up another cookie, soft yet firm.

"Umm... yes?" He gave a shrug and a slightly forced smile. "Mostly, anyway, that girl in the cafeteria helped a little. It's not... bad, is it?"

"Interesting..."

"Wait... that's all I get?"

She gave him a flat look. "You could always just order me to tell you what I think."

He paused, that strange look that he always got when she talked about her conditioning passing over his face.. "...Yeah, okay. I guess I should've guessed it by the way you practically inhaled them."

"I am hungry," she pointed out. She'd assumed he'd been listening when he asked earlier. Apparently, reading stoic silence wasn't in his skill set.

He sighed theatrically. "I don't s'pose you'd like to help yourself to some of the rest, would you?"

Free of the imminent protests of her stomach, Quistis nodded and reached for one of the stuffed breads, a calzone. She bounced it lightly in his direction, as if toasting him, before bringing it to her lips. "Thank you, sir."

"Welcome, princess," he acknowledged, taking one of the meat stuffed dough pockets himself. "Just save some for when everyone else gets here."

She paused just shy of taking a bite. "Who do you think is coming?"

"...Most of 'em," Laguna said around a good sized mouthful. "The German and that Cyan guy are busy with work though; pretty sure Vince said something similar. Jean's a solid maybe—"

"Did he actually say that?"

"...Well, he never actually said no, so I figure there's still a chance he might show up."

"..." Taking a bite of her calzone, Quistis decided that if her Handler wanted to believe Jean Croce was ever indecisive about anything, then it was already a lost cause to convince him otherwise. For now, she would settle for enjoying the meal and keeping track of the wind drift.

}§{

Time went on unnoticed and they chipped further into the fruits of Laguna's labor. He poured tea from his "samonov" and they toasted each other, at his insistence, on a fratello well met. Quistis still refused to say more than was necessary, but by the end of it, she was at least willing to reach beyond the blanket and feel the grass in scrunchy handfuls. It was only by two o'clock that he realized the passage of time due to the cooling of the goods.

And still they were alone.

"Perhaps simply meeting at a caffè would've secured a better response," Quistis suggested as they packed the copious amounts of left-overs into the truck. "Somewhere wine is available."

Laguna made a slight face at the offer. "I dunno, Quis. A bunch of guys with a bunch of a little girls goin' out for drinks could look more than a little sketchy."

"We don't have to drink the same," she pointed out. "A round of drinks for the Handlers and a glass of... milk, or something, for the rest of us."

He looked like he paused to consider it before he started the car. Almost immediately after though, he shook his head. "Naw... I think I'd rather share the same stuff."

She gave him a sideways look and cocked an eyebrow. "Even if it means drinking alone?"

He simply gave a small smile and a shrug. "If it means drinking with my partner, I think I can stomach the loss."

"Sir, I do not believe I'll ever understand you."

"But did you have fun?"

She pursed her lips, trying to come up with an acceptable definition of "fun" to work with. From general contexts, she knew it was supposed to be something like enjoyment, though on a strange level more exuberant than satisfaction but also more shallow.

"...The meal was good."

If nothing else, settling for the concise truth seemed like a safe bet.

"Good," he nodded and set the car into gear, then started on the road back to the compound. "I guess that's good enough, then."

Despite almost nothing working out, the Portuguese man smiled broadly at the barren sunlit path outside his windshield.

Giving him one more sidelong look, Quistis set her own eyes forward and switched back from a mindset she hadn't been aware she'd slipped into. Truly, the event had affected her somehow, she could tell that much. The difficult question was then simply how and why.

Before she could linger too long on the subject, her mind(probably at the bidding of the conditioning) pushed it back down into the woodwork. That didn't matter though. Like a dream she couldn't remember: even if the thought was gone, the feeling remained; a feeling that, somehow, this too could someday also be a part of her.


}fin{

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


...Was that too lighthearted?
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Re: Dual Trigger Extras

Post by Lyndist on Sat 20 Aug 2016 - 11:42

Good story . I like it .

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"Your world as you knew it is gone. How far would you go to bring it back? "
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Re: Dual Trigger Extras

Post by Chronic Guardian on Wed 24 Aug 2016 - 13:35

Well thank you! But really, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

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...Was that too lighthearted?
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Re: Dual Trigger Extras

Post by Chronic Guardian on Thu 15 Sep 2016 - 12:52

05-Dual Trigger Extra: Spettri

By Chronic Guardian


Author's Note: Written for Twelve Shots of Summer: Trinity Limit [week 5: Love of Humanity/Jury Duty]

Evening light was streaming in through the boarded up windows. There was a lull in the air as dust motes danced through the illuminating streams before disappearing back into the dark. A moment later, a man and five children, most of them teenagers, furtively slipped through the door. A few tense moments passed as a commotion in the street floated closer. Once it started drifting away, the room let out a collective sigh and muffled congratulations were exchanged on their continued survival.

The man in their midst interrupted the celebration to order a search of the area. His name was "Jecht." He was in his early forties, well worn by the world but still sharp from the training of his childhood. They'd been out all day and there was still a possibility someone had slipped in surveillance equipment while they were gone.

"You slipped up out there," he reminded the group sternly. "Don't slip up again here."

Once he was satisfied that no one had come in during their absence, they were dismissed. One boy started disassembling and cleaning their gear while their sniper, Fujin, got to making something for the group's dinner. Maqui, the second youngest, turned in early, but he asked Raijin to save him some of the meal. Raijin made a promise Jecht didn't believe.

The last child, the youngest of the squad, sat next to the window and stared out at the street. If it weren't for the automatic rifle casually resting against her shoulder, she would almost look normal. She wore tomboy street clothes that hadn't been washed in a week and combat boots with scuffs on the toes. Her sandy blonde hair was tied back tight in two braids that stuck stiffly off the back of her head. At rest, it was easier to believe she'd been a listless street urchin, but it was amazing what she could become when they needed it.

Slowly becoming aware of Jecht's gaze, she turned her head, almost mechanically, and stared back. "Sir?"

Jecht grunted.

"...Great Jecht?"

"That's more like it," he allowed. She was supposedly conditioned to imprint on him, or so ol' Doc Marquis said, but he still found himself breaking-in her habits, even months into the operation. He'd decided she should call him "Great Jecht" mostly as a joke, but later it was more a point of authority. If he had to be the center of her world, he'd at least do it his way.

Her eyes drifted back to the street as her assigned duty overtook her curiosity. He watched the moment die, watched her sandy blonde hair ruffle slightly as a breeze filtered in, before getting up and moving further into the building.

Raijin was watching Fujin cook while he leaned back against the wall and talked about the day's events. Jecht gave him a cold smile and the boy trailed off.

"Sentry duty, go."

"But we just got back from a whole day of sentry duty, y'know? 'Sides, Breska's got it—"

"Sentry duty," Jecht repeated, jerking a thumb back towards the entrance. "Now move your gherkin before I move it for you."

Raijin stole a longing glance back at the girl making dinner and her pan of stirfry with rice. Jecht treated him to a light slap upside the head and sent the boy on his way. It was unbelievable what these kids got away with. The fact they'd been chosen over any number of professionals in the business had Jecht wondering if it was some sort of publicity stunt on the administration's side. True, Seifer and Fujin were okay; they tried to pay attention. That didn't mean they were anywhere near the level Jecht would like them to be.

The best thing most of them had to offer the operation was that they were street savvy. Jecht's own training taught him how to blend well enough, but he hadn't been living in Florence for years like the gang of rookies. Of course, that also meant that if they ever moved they'd lose their inherent value and Jecht would be carrying the group again. It would be better to leave them and head out alone with Breska.

Jecht grabbed two bowls from the cupboard and came up alongside Fujin. She gave him a sidelong glance out of her good eye before returning her attention to the various vegetables in the pan. "Wait," she intoned firmly. Of all the kids in the cell, Fujin was probably the most serious and to the point. Jecht thought it was funny. She got an "A" for effort, but that didn't mean he was particularly impressed with her monosyllabic output.

Blue flames quietly licked the bottom of the pan as Fujin methodically shook it back and forth to keep the contents from charring. Jecht licked his lips and looked back towards the front room where Raijin and Breska were keeping watch. It would be dark soon. Raijin would fall asleep at his post, Seifer would hang a lamp to continue his work, and Breska would keep watching the darkened streets until he told her to stop.

Some people might think it was funny that the youngest of the group was the most disciplined. Jecht thought it was funny that people still could see her as an ordinary girl. True, they hadn't seen her forcefully detach a man's shoulder or continuously fire even after the target was down, but there was something different in the way she moved now. She was the best of the group, but she definitely wasn't human any more.

Jecht stirred as one of the bowls in his hands became heavier. In the dusky light, Fujin narrowed her good eye at him as she loaded his other bowl. He grunted his thanks and got back to his feet. The food wouldn't be great, but it would be edible. Jecht found himself wondering how difficult it would be to establish a supply line of MREs without raising suspicion.

His footsteps tapped around the edge of the room's silence. Predictably, he found Raijin curled up against the wall lightly napping while Breska sat exactly as he'd left her. Jecht dug his boot into Raijin's side and jerked his head back towards the makeshift kitchen. "Dismissed."

Raijin scrambled to his feet and gave a sorry excuse for a salute before eagerly heading off to dinner. The boy was kind of like an over grown parrot, Jecht mused. He knew how to vaguely imitate respect, but it didn't mean anything coming from him.

Left alone with the mechanical girl, he sighed and offered one of the bowls in her direction. "Hey," he called softly. She turned her head and looked at him with those opaque brown eyes. "Dinner time, kiddo."

She left her post and took the bowl from his hands with a measured "thank you," mostly because her conditioning wouldn't let her do anything less. Jecht stirred at the thought. In a way, she was also just an imitator. She was better at it than Raijin: She knew what she was doing, she just didn't care why.

Sometimes Jecht wondered if he would've written her differently if he'd had control of the programs the Doc filled her head with. Would he try to make her act more human? He barked a short, humorless laugh. Justifying a lie would be sanitizing her for his sake. She wouldn't feel any better either way, right?

Breska stopped and gave him a tilted look.

"It's nothing," he assured her, going back at his bowl with feigned interest. "Eat it while it's warm."

When they were done, they both put their bowls aside and Jecht took up Raijin's former post. It reminded him of the old days. He could almost imagine his old friends manning the other stations as they vigilantly tended the deceptive calm of night. A cough welled its way up his chest and disturbed the memory. Annoyed, Jecht cleared his throat and went back to his watch.

His mind stayed with his old allies throughout the night. He even found himself singing one of Braska's old Yiddish folk songs. "Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika," he hummed, imagining his allies voices were joining him.

He paused when he realized someone actually was singing along.

"Shteyt a bokher, un er trakht, trakht un trakht a gantse nakht" Breska sang quietly, tapping her fingers against her rifle's barrel in augment of the accented waltz. "Vemen tzu nemen un nit farshemen, Vemen tzu nemen un nit farshe..." She trailed off as she realized he'd gone silent.

"..."

"...Great Jecht?"

"Where'd you learn those words?"

"I listen when you sing. You sing that song pretty often, you know."

Jecht gave an empty laugh. "You probably don't even know what you're saying." Her pronunciation was perfect, but as far as he knew she was still only fluent in Italian. Strangely, it was reassuring that she didn't understand the significance of the tune.

"Not really," she admitted. "Although, if you'd like to teach me—"

"Get back to watching," Jecht interrupted. "As long as we can finish this job, we can ditch these rookies and go back to bigger things. You got that? How many bullets in your clip, Breska?"

"Thirty-five, Great Jecht."

"Good." He nodded and went back to monitoring the street. He was getting distracted, she didn't need to know about the past. There was something sacred about that world. To let a cyborg into it felt wrong. "Don't get dragged down," he murmured, mostly to himself. Across the room, Breska agreed anyway. He settled himself with his cheek resting on a hand and set about scanning for movement.

The night stretched by slowly. Jecht realized he was closing his eyes at odd intervals and decided a cup of coffee might be in order until Seifer and Fujin came to relieve them. He turned to his partner out of habit to ask if she wanted some.

He blinked and squinted into the darkness when Breska's still form didn't appear at the opposite window.

"...Breska?"

A muffled shot answered him from the next room over.

Jecht's muscles tensed as he sunk into a combat stance and moved into the shadows. More shots, but nothing in his vicinity impacted. They weren't aiming for him. How had they gotten in in the first place? Jecht rested his hand on the Desert Eagle at his hip and crept closer. He didn't hear a struggle, apparently the fight was over. Who had won?

Slow footsteps reached his ears and he shifted back. If the intruder wanted to come to come to him, that would be just fine. He drew his pistol and trained it on the doorway.

A moment later, a child's form entered, carrying a Negev machine gun in one hand, pointed at the ground. Twin braids protruded from the back of her head. Jecht exhaled and lowered his weapon. Breska looked at him and tilted her head. "Great Jecht?"

"Don't scare me like that," he hissed, holstering his pistol as he moved to join her. "You hurt?"

She shook her head and started to move for her post again.

"Hey!"

She stopped and patiently turned to him. "Yes, Great Jecht?"

"Report, soldier."

"Oh," she gave him an eerie smile. Slowly, he felt his eyes drifting towards the back room again. "We can leave now, Great Jecht. I took care of the loose ends."

Jecht lurched forward and breathed a curse as the smell of blood met the gun powder in the air. He redrew his pistol and trained it on Breska. "What the hell did you do?"

"You wanted to move on," she answered simply. "They were holding you back from what you really wanted, right?"

He clenched his teeth and took a step forward. "So you killed them?"

"You wanted me to."

The answer wasn't an accusation, it was a statement. Suddenly, Jecht realized Breska had been listening to more than just folksongs. She didn't care if he walled her out, she'd find a way in. She still watched him, and now she'd found something he wished she hadn't.

"Was I wrong?" she asked. The answer didn't seem to worry her. Was she confident he'd say no? She was staring straight down the barrel or his gun and smiling. "You know why we do these things. I'm like you, Great Jecht. We don't care about the stuff that gets in our way. They'd probably all die after we left them anyway. This was faster."

Jecht clenched his teeth. "I didn't..."

"No?" She tilted her head.

He swallowed; he knew the whole thing was wrong. He felt sick to his stomach and wanted to just shoot the damned little demon for what she'd done. Part of him knew if he did that though, the next bullet would be for himself.

"I'll make it easy then," she told him. The Negev dropped from her hand and clattered to the ground. "If we were wrong, you shoot me. You understand these things, Great Jecht. A jury of my peers, right?"

"...I made you do this." Jecht blinked as he tried to wrap his head around the idea. Stars were dancing in front of his eyes as black patches formed in his vision. He was feeling light headed.

Breska shrugged. "I'm just a cyborg. What else can I do?"

"Why were you watching me?" He snarled. "Breska, why the hell were you—"

"Because I want to be like you."

His finger squeezed the trigger.

}§{

Jecht's eyes opened and the world seemed to rush back into darkness all at once. After a moment of catching his bearings, he realized he was watching the window again, cheek resting on hand. He forced his neck to turn, much to the prickly protest of muscles that had fallen asleep, and found Breska staring out the opposite window, rifle still resting on her shoulder. The night air was cool and thick. It was musky and smelled like last night's dinner, but not blood or gunpowder.

"Breska," Jecht croaked. He worked up some saliva to swallow and try again, but she was already turning her head at that point.

She fought down a yawn and blinked at him. "Great Jecht?" For the first time in their deployment, he noticed how ragged the girl looked. She still sat up straight and patiently waited at attention, but there was a human weariness there.

"...How many bullets in your clip?"

"Thirty-five, Great Jecht."

"Good."

"...Great Jecht?"

"Mmm?"

"You sound a lot more gentle singing."

He gave her a tired smile and turned back to the window. "You wanna learn the real words, kid?"

If only for a moment, her eyes shone and it was hard to believe she was anything but a little girl, hanging on his every word.

}§{


Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika


Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika


A young lad stands, and he thinks


Thinks and thinks the whole night throughout


Whom to take and not to shame


Whom to take and not to shame


Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika


Tumbala, Tumbala, Tumbalalaika


Tumbalalaika, strum balalaika


Tumbalalaika, may we be happy

}fin{

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------


...Was that too lighthearted?
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Chronic Guardian

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Re: Dual Trigger Extras

Post by Thescarredman on Fri 16 Sep 2016 - 19:05

Sweet. I love stories of handlers struggling to juggle the dichotomies of the handler/cyborg relationship.
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Thescarredman

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Forum Posts : 1881

Location : Toledo, Ohio, United States

Fan of : Rico, Bice

Original Characters : Kristal & Verotrois / Doc; Angel / Jack Keaton; Tiffany/Stefan

Comments : .
Mario Bossi would make a better handler than Marco Toni. Come to think of it, so would Christiano.
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Elizaveta didn't jump - she was pushed.
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Sofia was pregnant. It would have been a boy.

Registration date : 2012-02-04
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Re: Dual Trigger Extras

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