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Better Than Gore

Absalom, the Arcology.

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 Geography

The Arcology is a colossal megastructure comprised of scintillating agri-domes, elegant spires, and graceful monorails - encompassing a microsociety of about ten thousand souls. Its towering heights lord over the desolate remains of a once pristine alpine forest, the only point of light in the sprawling wasteland. Holographic advertisements loom over the churning industry of the surrounding badlands, acclaiming the virtues of this jewel of self-sufficient civilization.

 Organization

Absalom is divided among its shareholders, with the position of owner and leader granted to the majority stake. While some maintenance of the overall structure is maintained by the owner, individual levels and wings of the arcology are the responsibility of their private holders. As such, interior aesthetics of one area may vary drastically from another.

Because the fundamental right of a citizen is property, those that own no property, or whose property, including their life, is rendered forfeit by incurred debts, are stripped of citizenship and relegated to servitude and slavery until such a time as the debt is repaid. In reality, however, because a lack of means to protect one’s assets is commonly considered forfeiture, even those completing their contracted enslavement often immediately find themselves back in bondage just to be able to feed themselves.

Free citizens, but whom own less than 1% of the arcology, are a fragile middle class that dwindles daily, and are only replenished by new arrivals to this futuristic ‘utopia’.

 Government and Politics

Law

Contracts rule all but the most informal of exchanges. Because there are no non-private adjudicators, private middlemen almost inevitably favor the party with greater influence in disputes regarding these contracts, making justice a hopeless pursuit for most. When adjudication fails, squads of private security forces are deployed, leading to brief but incredibly violent shareholder turf wars in which one party will attempt to seize the assessed debt it feels it is owed. The common result is total seizure of assets, to cover the ‘cost’ of the operation, and subsequent enslavement.

Somewhat paradoxically, the average day is relatively peaceful and secure for the bulk of the arcology’s denizens, as the threat of wholesale destruction and the ubiquity of high-powered personal weaponry make most sane people strongly reconsider the use of physical force, or attempting an unlawful act. Nonetheless, criminal elements do exist, inseparably entwined into the fabric of the ultra-capitalist society, functioning as yet another tool for ambitious holders to undermine their peers.

 

Foreign Relations

Absalom's foreign relations are currently still formative, but are generally cordial. The owner recognizes that national governments, even those with inferior technology, command resource monopolies that a neofeudal city-state cannot hope to match in open conflict. Trade and diplomacy are conducted openly to import what little the arcology cannot produce on its own, and to market its own products far and wide.

 Military

The Arcology’s armed forces consist chiefly of the private security forces hired and outfitted by the aggregate of the holders. However, the owner separately employs a full company of mercenaries loyal to herself, as well as a fleet of 200 semi-autonomous armored drones that can rapidly deploy anti-riot ordinance as well as lethal munitions if necessary.

 Economy

Absalom's economy is a complicated mix of give and take.  It's a lucrative locale for companies or governments to contract out the labor necessary for product manufacture, being that labor is so cheap and available here due to the prevalence of indentured servitude.  In a way you could say that Arcology City's biggest export good is labor.

Workers of all sort are exploited within the territory of Absalom.  Factory workers, laborers, programmers, and sex workers are the most common types.  A sizable portion of the population is under some contract or another, often the indentured servitude kind, binding them to a term of unpaid service.  These terms, and by extension the people for which they are made, can be bought and sold.

In the sprawling slums that comprise the hinterlands around the main tower there are dozens of industrial sectors dedicated to the processing of raw materials.  These factories are populated largely by the lowest rung of Arcology caste, and as they are indentured their labor is sold cheaply.

Moving within the tower, scores of programmers are bought and sold from one corporation to the next.  The trade of indentured servitude contracts is common with workers that have special skills. Another practice is for companies to own nothing but these contracts, selling or renting the rights to various corporations as freelance indentured servants.

Absalom produces high tech and completed goods.  Anything from portable electronics, to medical prosthesis, or even fully functional life auxiliary Androids.  These kinds of goods are what most companies in Absalom sell abroad for money and goods. The main import of the city is raw materials and food stuffs, as these things are difficult to find or produce.

If you can dream of something and there is a way for that thing to be manufactured then you can probably find it in Absolom.  Just don't think about the exploitation that built it and you can sleep easy.

 Canon and History

Completed Threads

History

The origins of Absalom are hardly a secret.  While the average citizen might not be aware, anybody who goes out of their way to research the subject will quickly run across local folklore.

Absalom is not a nation, not in the sense that a traditional nation is.  Rather, having no actual governing body, it is a microcosm of individual organizations attempting to live in proximity.  It is generally agreed between corporations that a certain respect for common law is necessary, but why do all of these groups choose to operate here?  The reason is simple, and it has a name; The Sarcophagus.

The Sarcophagus is a structure that exists, buried deep underground at the very heart of Absalom.  The only portion of this structure that exists above ground is a vast open hole - a hole over which the main body of the city is suspended over.  It has been speculated that this structure, The Sarcophagus, is actually a ship from some unknown space faring civilization that crash landed in the wilds of Fracture.  Nobody knows for sure how it got here. Back when the city first formed, it was occupied by tomb raiders and grave robbers who went into this opening to look for treasure, and what they found was both wondrous and terrifying.

The Sarcophagus was filled with autonomous machines, hyper advanced technology, unheard of metals, and most perplexingly it was also stuffed to the brim with the living dead.  They aren't Zombies, so to speak, but rather their organic components have been commandeered by the very technology that built their home. These early adventurers waded into the depths of The Sarcophagus.  Those lucky, or skilled enough to return came back with tech that had previously been unseen and unheard of. It was these few who began the very first corporations of Absalom.

These days, ventures into The Sarcophagus are rare and dangerous.  It is less profitable than it was in the beginning as an understanding of the tech within has been reached.  With the ability to replicate the tech laying inside, it's seen as a net loss to send people inside, even if they do return alive.  Even so, it is estimated that a mere five percent of the structure has been explored with untold miles of corridors and Chambers laying unseen beneath the wasteland below, and around Absalom.

Edited by Better Than Gore

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The Sarcophagus was convenient. Conveniently located for a myriad of purposes: be that as picking ground for valuables, a place to prove one's mettle to a syndicate, or as a seemingly endless maw that swallowed runoff, sewage, and undesireables without a trace. Unity was beginning to suspect that were it not for the absolute mint that her new body had cost, she was solidly in that last category of waste disposal.

Terms like 'aptitude testing' and 'operational benchmarks' had been bandied about in the stiff boardroom the day before, where the shapely thief had felt, for once in her life, woefully underdressed. Not one to shy away from indulging in her natural gifts, the severity of those suits, and the growing realization that she owed them a debt that could never be repaid in this life or the next, had made it such that she'd felt each executive's gaze bore into her like a chiseling laser. Each callous look stripped away her defenses until it felt like they could even see right through the minidress they'd laminated onto her for the occasion.

A shiver bristled along her arms at the memory, despite the dense weave of the bodysuit gripping her like a glove. Insulated and resistant to a myriad of incidental hazards, her 'handler' had deemed the suit sufficient defense for her first foray, trusting that a laundry list of augmentations and subtle improvements would handle any further dangers. The very idea of the whole operation was a gnawing pit in her stomach; who could have imagined that being cuffed for a relatively petty theft would end in what amounted to slavery? Besides, she didn't feel any more prepared to handle whatever awaited her down in this god-forsaken pit - the speed of her assistant processor only made the time spent here seem to dilate. She could let her mind race through a thousand what-ifs at double the rate. Amazing.

Unity grimaced as a particularly viscous drop of what had to be raw sewage fell a mere inch away from her face to splash to the crumbled concrete underfoot. Twenty minutes she'd been carefully descending into this glorified sinkhole, and all she'd found were abandoned hovels and piles of trash mixed with rubble. The first ring or so near the outer edge had been decently populated with homeless vagrants, as it was more or less the only place in Absalom where they'd not immediately be arrested and flogged, or worse. As she'd climbed and slid further in, however, only the scuttling of vermin seemed to indicate life of any kind. That was until she noticed the vague hum resonating the ground. Augmented ears had assumed it to be the background noise of the arcology towering above on all sides, but this was... not that. Machinery, yes, but while Absalom was a garbled mess of interference in the background, the sound from below was ordered and regular. Not quite a pulse, but distinct enough to be the heartbeat of some hibernating giant.

She only saw it a moment before she tipped bodily forward, a cavernous, jagged hole that was no longer a crater, but simply a pit. In the eerie silence that pervaded outside of the low hum, Unity could actually hear the components of her ocular implants whirr like a whisper as they automatically adjusted to the near-total darkness. They stared down into the chasm, two pinpricks of red in a sea of black. Infrared showed the bottom a very dim red. Warmth, in a spot where the cold air ought to be collecting. A filter confirmed the convection of the air above, and Unity's exhalation became the loudest sound to meet this depth for some time. Without a word, she pitched forward, and tossed herself unceremoniously into the drop.

 

A tiny HUD on her right retina ticked off a box on a list of tests she was instructed to run. She'd successfully managed to not shatter both legs on impact. The tracker did not need to know that she'd deployed a hardlight 'chute to turn the landing into a twinge in the ankles instead of ramming two polymer risers directly up into her heels. Pathfinding was already offline - one would think that for such a ruthlessly exploited resource the entrance to the Sarcophagus would be better defined. As it was, only the abandoned bulk of excavating machines, long rusted into uselessness, greeted her from the cylindrical gallery she now found herself in. Great bay doors to either direction, front and behind, lay askew and open.

Some faint glow of light could be seen filtering from somewhere further along to the northwest. A good a place as any to start looking for something worthwhile. Unity sprinted after it, rubberized soles hardly making a sound on the odd, ceramic-like paneling that constituted a 'floor'.

@Spooky Mittens

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It was well known that the disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots" in Absalom was just about the worst in all the land.  Nowhere in Absalom was this more apparent than in the nether city that existed inside the sinkhole where the entrances to The Sarcophagus existed.

Scraptown, also referred to as Gutter City, or the Trash Pit.  Whatever you call it, it had no official title.  This sinkhole was neutral ground due to the myriad of hazards that made permanent occupation unprofitable.  The refuse of Absalom above was cast into this put on a regular basis, and yet despite being a fixed and known depth, it never seemed to fill up.  No matter how much trash, human waste, or actual humans you tossed down there, it all seemed to vanish just as soon as you weren't looking.

It was no wonder such a place served as the last refuge of the indebted or the escaped.  So few bounty hunters and debt collectors would dare to delve it's depths.  Unity, on the other hand, was a unique case.  It wasn't entirely uncommon for high tech soldiers to come down into The Sarcophagus looking for live combat data.  Testing high tech implants and prosthetics didn't require this kind of danger, but it still happened once or twice a year.  At least, that's what the news said.

Unity charged through the dark, chasing a beacon of light from ages long past.  She made her way in near silence, save the energetic thrumming that filled the very walls around her.  A moment may have passed, or maybe several thousand, for time in this raided tomb seemed to stretch and contract on a whim.  She rounded a corner, and there it was spotted, the source of her beacon.

A tiny drone, no larger than a house cat, comprised of some amorphic metal and plastic.  It sifted and searched, an array of sensors serving as it's face.  Pieces of tech, bits of bone, pools of blood, all of these things it scanned, until the buxom spelunker became visible.

The drone halted, cocking it's sensor piece high, locking a few dozen miniature cameras onto Unity.  It emitted a high pitched beep, just a single piercing blip of noise, at an interval of one tenth of a second.  Then it waited.

@Sigil Warden

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Slay Together

 

Unity skid to a halt, momentarily frozen as she sized up the drone. As it perked up to examine her, she too slowly straightened out, hands dropping tensed to her sides, fingers trembling ever so slightly. Her heart rate accelerated, unbidden, as the soft hairs at the back of her neck prickled. The looming mass of the alien superstructure bled away into the background, her eyes focusing intently on this unexpected denizen of the depths. Its piercing tone, as brief as it had been, seemed to carry on echoing in the back of her mind, held on until she wasn't even sure if the mental echo was real or not. Breath seemed... difficult. There was no obstruction, and yet she held it in anyway. Motion was dangerous - the standoff had to continue.

Mankind's greatest enemy lurked in this woman of the future as it had in the hearts of the earliest hominids. Fear. Fear rules all.

Fear of what might happen. Of what could happen. Of what would happen. Unity could feel each individual hair on her head shift in the unseen air currents that swirled past. She acutely felt what seemed like every single clasp and attachment point on her suit, digging into her skin - the way the holster bands cut into her thighs, the tension of practically every high-tech fibre straining across the curve of her chest. The persistent millimeter adjustments in her hip alignment to maintain balance on her heels and keep her gravity centered. None of this was relevant, but she could feel it all the same. Every single damn tendon and muscle in her body, individually tensing and relaxing, the map of them passively known to her now by some device she didn't understand. Her frontal cortex found the time to experimentally run a hundred contractions of a bundle of muscle fibers in her right cheek.

Unity smirked a hundred times, and one second had passed.

 

Her fingers twitched again. This time, they closed on polymer grips that felt strangely familiar, and certainty replaced fear in the surety of purpose. These were her daggers... her knives. Her closest friends. She loved them. If the calm of the kill had not settled upon her, her pulse would have quickened even more just to hold them once again. The shapes were different, the materials different - augmented, changed, reforged - but the soul of them remained, and she felt their resonance fill her palms. Blur and Contrast

The drone cracked and sparked, nailed to the impact point on the wall where her kick had launched it. Contrast sat buried to the hilt through the strange amalgam that composed its body, its sensor array drooping to uselessness even as Unity's own diagnostics scrolled past with glowing reports of performance over expected benchmarks. It felt like she had been stabbing paper mache. She thought of how easy it might be to shred through flesh with those same hands, twisting and ripping it like pulled pork. The thought made her breath catch. She even felt the blush on her cheeks burning red as the capillaries dilated. Why? Why would she think that?

Two seconds had elapsed.



@Spooky Mittens

Edited by Sigil Warden
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To say that Unity was fast was woefully inadequate.  She was like a blur, a sudden crackling wind, tearing through the shadows with razor sharp precision.  One, two, and through and through; Unity embodied this piece of poetry as her knives cut through the metal and plastic shell of the drone.

While she took a moment to assess her kill, the data streaming across her implants and feeding positive reinforcement to her brain, something peculiar began to stir within the tiny observation unit that lay in pieces before her.  Within it's framework, it's sinister origins sought to make themselves known.

The drones solid pieces started to go limp.  Not like melting, or dissolving, but limp like a piece of meat or something quite soft.  Its parts started to slither, splitting into a hundred different segments, snaking their way like worms away from the blades that had just cleaved them.  In the blink of an eye the drone was gone, transformed, and then suddenly reborn several feet away.

This new form it took was akin to some kind of humanoid, though again it was only about the size of a house cat.  It looked a bit like a cartoon gremlin with fins sticking out of it's optic bundle, while it's tiny "hands" seemed comprised entirely of blades.

This time it made nary a sound, except the noise of metal scraping metal as it turned and started to flee towards a ventilation duct.

@Sigil Warden

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The thief watched in disbelief as the drone reformed itself, as if nothing had happened to it at all. Perplexed, she glanced down at the dagger in her hand, then back to the drone-gremlin, actively playing back the recorded frames of her stabbing the thing over her right retina to verify she wasn't hallucinating. By the time her vision refocused, it was already crawling into the ventilation system, squeezing its minimal bulk easily past the grate covering it, which seemed almost superfluous if the denizens of the vessel could just restructure themselves at will. Unity had been briefed on the subject in very vague terms - that while the derelict complex contained complex and advanced technologies, they had already been exploited and reverse-engineered.

She could add that to the list of blatant lies they had told her. She'd never seen anything of the sort anywhere in the arcology - even the plasticizing nano-surgeons in her bloodstream (which was terrifying in its own right) needed some manner of central direction, and wouldn't knit tissues back together if her brain were to suffer catastrophic damage. They certainly wouldn't be resurrecting her like the undead into Zombie Gremlin Scissorhands.

Nonetheless, known or unknown, she was down here to test her capabilities. Even if that meant carving up alien machines that were apparently immune to conventional destruction. With a frustrated huff, she sprinted after the little bastard, sizing up the duct as she went. It was nearly head-height off the ground, so simply pulling the grate free was out of the question. Still, at a glance, it seemed flimsy enough. Or at least, flimsy compared to the reinforced musculo-skeletal system Unity now boasted. Like an Olympic high jumper she launched herself up off the balustrade, crashing through the metal grate shoulder first, bearing the brunt of the impact on the padded epaulette of her bodysuit.

She immediately regretted this decision. While her form had been impeccable on the way in, she was now wedged head-first and on her back into a tube scarcely wider than her own body.

Unity swore loudly, kicking her legs about as she wriggled about onto her belly. This way she could at least see what the hell was happening. The zombie gremlin had already slunk further in, prancing about in what seemed like mockery. Why hadn't the fuckers in that boardroom given her a gun?!

 

@Spooky Mittens

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She was agile as well as fast, with a good deal of physical strength to boot.  So far Unity was performing right along specifications, and the telemetric data her "benefactors" collected would prove more that satisfactory.  She wasn't in their world right now, however.  Now she was in the home of her little optical gremlin friend.

Shimmy along she did, following the trail.  It wouldn't be too hard since the drone left small scratches on every surface it touched, but it could traverse these ducts several times more swiftly than Unity could.  It would be several minutes before she would catch sight of it again.

She would round a bend in the ventilation shaft, where the actual ducts opened up to the size a person could reasonably expect to stand in.  Ahead of her was a hub.  It split off into five directions.  One could go forward, left, right, or backwards, but also down.  The gremlin drone was on the side opposite to Unity across the gap in the middle of the ventilation hub.  It's options were splayed and fanned out into a matrix, each tiny camera locked into Unity with interest.

It let out a noise, a garbled series of beebs and static, but if Unity listened close enough she might pick up the faint sound of a child's laughter.

@Sigil Warden

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On The Fringes

 

Unity unfolded out of the cramped space like a flower in bloom, somehow managing to wrest natural grace out of the maneuver. By pulling her knees to her chest and rolling onto her side, she was able to land feet-first as she dropped out into the duct gallery. There was just barely enough room to stand - she could feel strands of her deliberately mussed hair raising slightly in response to latent static along the surface that functioned as a 'ceiling' in the enclosed space. Her quarry returned her stare from the opposite side of a chute that dropped straight down, and made it difficult to outright rush it down like she had the first time.

Knowing this, it mocked her, the poorly modulated approximation of child-like laughter somehow more stinging to the thief's pride than if had actually laughed. Brevity was the soul of wit, but to spend the effort to emulate a sound clearly not natural to it made the insult sting. It was luring her onward, of course, but she wasn't going to simply indulge jumping in that pit just yet. Instead, Unity deliberately ignored the drone, sweeping her eyes around the ductwork. It was pitch dark, with the only sound coming from the drone's chatter and the ever-present hum of the Sarcophagus. Occasionally, she heard the metal groan as a joint somewhere expanded or compressed from a heat gradient, but this was all just... noise. It told her nothing about where to go, what to do, or what she might find if she continued to chase the irritating gremlin.

Maybe it was time to make it chase her, instead.

The darkness recoiled as a burst of brilliant, yellowish-white light blossomed from her hands and flashed across the distance separating them, blinding in its intensity. Miraculously, her powers still continued to function, even as more and more of her was turning artificial with every turning of the moon, it seemed. The dart of hardlight was accurate and strobed with overpowering brilliance in nearly every spectrum of light, functioning as EMP and flash all in one. It also was a glorified rock, if nothing else, delivering a wallop with the stunning power of the aug's throwing arm.

She didn't wait to see the result, and pivoted, charging down the passage to her right like a linebacker with her head down and shoulder forward in case another grate happened to interject itself between Unity and her getaway.

@Spooky Mittens

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A flash of light and a sudden pulse, it happened in a flash.  Unity made her move to pass the little drone and in the process rendered it's being into pieces.  She probably hadn't expected this outcome, but the use of a localized EMP proved quite effective at disabling the observation drone.  Unlike before where she had merely sliced it to pieces, this time the drone shattered into tens of thousands of individual grains.

It formed a pile on the floor, scattered this way and that, like smeared ashes.  A little black scorch mark on the otherwise pristine ceramic ducts.  She didn't wait, so she wouldn't see, but this ash pile was still moving, pushing itself back together a millimeter at a time.

She turned right and headed through a corridor with her head tucked down.  This wasn't an exit, however, and if she didn't correct his facing soon enough she would quickly come upon a sharp downward slope.  Slipping here meant that she would slide down this duct, the smooth ceramics providing little in the way of traction.  In all, it descended roughly two stories by modern standards where it would narrow back down to a crawlspace with a leftward bend.

@Sigil Warden

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Into the Depths

She was already committed to the maneuver. Unity could tell the subtle difference in pitch underfoot a split second before she reached it - and decided she'd embrace the dive. Twisting to the side, she pulled in her left leg and proceeded to ride the duct like a slide as she vaulted over the edge into the descent. Her gloved fingertips scraped the smooth surface behind her as she rocketed down, providing a third point of balance and directing her like a rudder. Unity, pro skater. 

Incredibly brief though the halfpipe grind may have been, it was exhilarating all the same, and for the first time since awakening, something close to an actual smile passed across the thief's painted lips. Feet first and skidding out onto her back, she shot around the outer curve of the leftward turn like a bobsled, using her momentum to propel her down the cramped passage as far as it would take her. It certainly gave her an appreciation for the laminated bodysuit hugging her - right now it was the only thing making the difference between her ass being a cushion or an ablative friction shield. It still burned though, the heat off the non-conductive ceramic positively stinging along her rear, elbows and shoulderblades.

Unity found herself quickly hoping she'd slow down soon. The idea of having to pretzel herself in the tiny space in order to stop did not seem very appealing.

@Spooky Mittens

Edited by Sigil Warden
forgot mention

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Slide she did, deftly adjusting for the sudden drop into the deep dark below.  The walls remained wide enough until the sliding came to a halt at the bottom and the ductwork constricted.  Another tunnel for Unity to shimmy through as before.

It bent to the left, leading further away from where Unity first entered, and it carried on straight for some time.  Several minutes would pass, even at maximum crawl, before Unity would catch a glimmer of light again.  At the end of this duct was another grate cover.

Unity would find that when she reached the cover it was already halfway pried loose, hanging on by a few bent metal clips and nothing more.  It opened into a large chamber that was very dimly lit by a few pulsing lights that washed across the walls in waves.  She would see the scorch marks on the walls and floor from the impacts of projectile weapons, a mix of ballistics and directed energy one might surmise.

Bodies seemed to litter the edges of the chamber to the left and right, piled near the entrances.

All was quiet, save that ever present thump of energy from deep below.

@Sigil Warden

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The Camera Eye

 

Crouched in the shadow of the grate with the poise of a feline predator, Unity calmly surveyed the room before her. Well, calmly was the wrong word. Dispassionately, perhaps, was more apt - once upon a time she'd have been mortified at the death toll heaped about the edges of the room. Now, it was just a reminder of the price of failure. Judging from the proliferation of weapon impacts scarring the walls and floor, a very nasty firefight had gone down here. Corp mercs, probably, or maybe even exploration teams from before the arcology was built. Whoever it was whose corpses littered this nondescript mausoleum though, they had certainly been carrying some serious ordinance to manage to not only scratch but gouge out parts of the futuristic ceramic. She couldn't tell from where she was, but Unity could well imagine the kind of hole such a round would have left in a living being.

None of the weapons seemed to be left, however - likely the work of previous scavengers. Once again, not surprising. She wasn't so far in yet that signs of previous explorations wouldn't be commonplace, nor did Unity have any intention to be going that far. She was here to get data about her capabilities, and then leave as expediently as possible. The thief considered her options. Visually or even audibly, there wasn't much to the room, besides the obvious signs of battle. The strobes did make it somewhat difficult to properly get an idea of the gallery's proper dimensions though, and gave the entire place an eerie dance of macabre shadows every time they flashed over the heaped fallen.

But Unity did not have her name for naught. Instinctively, she reached out and dulled the pulsing lights, draining away their potency until they were barely luminescent at all, their strobes like small flutters of ineffectual breath, failing to illuminate anything but themselves. The camera eye did the rest, shuttering through a variety of filters as her digitized pupils refocused on the room's contents. Ultraviolet, infrared, x-ray - these would reveal what visible light could not.

@Spooky Mittens

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Unity sat patiently, observing the room before her with extraspectral assistance.  She would be able to discern that it was roughly forty feet wide by eighty feet long.  The walls presented nothing special, nor did the floor or the ceiling.  The scattered bodies, however, scanned with her special optical x-ray, were filled with cybernetics.

Some were familiar, almost new.  If she had direct access to a database she might even be able to pull serial numbers for some of the parts.  Others were different.  Almost recognizable, but changed somehow.  If she looked close enough, she would even be able to see that some of these dead men had endoskeletal implants that we're still in motion, and not in the sense that the bones moved, but that the implants were migrating.

Depending on how long Unity spent observing, she would eventually witness a very peculiar event.  There in the middle of the room was a body that straggled away from the rest, a soldier by the look of his clothes.  The skin on his face had been blasted clean off by some kind of directed heat, leaving bits of meat here and there, bust mostly just charred bone.  This body suddenly turned it's head, empty eyes looking in Unity's direction, and it started to hiss.  It was like a sudden release of gasses, like what happens when you open a vacuum sealed can.

Two cameras now forced their way out from the thin bone behind it's empty eye sockets, and it started to scramble it's limbs rapidly against the smooth ceramic floor.  It struggled to right itself, as it's legs were broken, but it seemed very eager to reach the duct where Unity was hiding.

@Sigil Warden

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Depths

 

The rogue tensed up in the duct, immediately understanding on an intuitive level what was happening.

Whatever malevolent force animated the alien devices down here, it was both pervasive and inevitable, consuming and re-appropriating flesh and tech alike into some hideous amalgam. A writhing, slithering, uncanny approximation of life. Were Unity of a more philosophical bent, she might have pondered if this was the same road she was headed down. Instead, she only felt the crushing grip of despair. How does one fight that which will not stay dead? A corpse had no business moving of its own accord. Her hands clenched and unclenched, torn between proceeding with the mission at her own peril, or the equally terrifying thought of facing her 'handlers' empty-handed.

The scrambling cadaver had almost reached her by the time the drip of calming fire raced through her veins. Eyes widening once again, this time in hyper-acuity, the thief leapt into action. She darted into the room headfirst, her powerful legs uncoiling like a spring. Hardly feeling the impact onto the floor as she tucked over her own shoulder, she rolled and was already up on her feet once more, taking center stage in the midst of the room. Before the technozombie even managed to fully haul itself around, the whine of an electric motor signaled the cocking of Premiere - its tiny, pinpoint lenses in empty sockets likely to only comprehend an instant of a single red eye framed in black and white behind the laser sight - before a steel penetrator a foot long nailed its head to the wall in a burst of sparks and a sick crunch.

 

@Spooky Mittens

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