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2021.09.27 05:58 TheMagnificentGoyle Hist 330: History of the Coalition; Episode 4: Artificial Psychology and The Duel (NSFW?: Pretty Violent Fighting)

“Hey man, you doing alright?’ Erik asked Patton before reiterating, “I’m sorry again for how all this went down... Hardly an ideal way to start a friendship.” They stood facing the elevated arena platform. The arena itself was octagonal with translucent energy shields reaching up to the ceiling on all sides. Behind them were three rows of viewing stands. A few people had already gathered. Among them was Suva and Tsiskiti. Elsewhere in the small crowd was the Lekurian woman, Virki, and the Krokin, Tolmor Wram. After a moment, Patton also noticed the AI unit from their mutual history course.
“It’s alright, bro. I’m not even mad anymore. I figured this was gonna happen at some point today.” Patton replied. Erik was surprised that Patton chose not to wear any armor. He wore the same plaid red shirt and khaki shorts from earlier. Patton’s old-school English short sword and Glock hung from his belt in a classic leather sheath and magnetic retention holster respectively. Gromik, on the other hand, was currently loading up on sparring armor in the locker room.
Suva watched from the spectator stands as Patton spoke with the Human from class. Patton’s roommate rested his exoskeleton beside her. On the other side of him sat the AI unit from the same class. It was very obviously designed to imitate a human female with a feminine frame, soft facial features, and long, metallic hair. The exterior was constructed of white polymer plates and gray joints of a more flexible plastic. Great detail was put into constructing its face; the material seemed much more malleable, the mouth moved when speaking, and the eyes were intricately detailed with pink fluorescence. Suva was even more puzzled by the fact this AI wore human clothes, a red long-sleeved shirt and denim pants.
“Greetings, my personal designation is Connor. You are Tsiskiti and Suva, yes?” The AI spoke in an almost organic voice. Hints of synthetic tones still laced its tone. It turned toward the two with a casual body language. The resemblance to an organic human was uncanny.
“Yes! It is a pleasure to meet you, Classmate Connor!” Tsiskiti clicked and squeaked as he rose and lifted a leg to shake her hand. Connor reached out and shook his leg with a smile. The AI had pristine white teeth matching its exterior build. It looked to Suva with the same genuine smile.
“To answer your question, Suva, I am a X598 Generation 3 Sapient Android.” Connor said. Suva was unprepared for her question to be preemptively answered. She sat in quiet contemplation for a moment.
“How were we able to predict my question?” Suva asked with an eyebrow raised to the android.
“Gen3s come equipped with psionic emulator hardware that replicates the extraphysical psychological abilities of organics such as yourself. I am, in organic terms, a mid-level psychic”
“How is that possible?” Suva inquired. She had thought it impossible for a machine to possess psionic abilities. Up until now, psionics were an exclusively biological mechanism.
“It is a new Coalition technology. I can forward you the non-proprietary details of the Gen3 emulator. I get the sense that you would find the material… most rewarding, yes?” The AI responded with a gentle smile. The more Suva looked at Connor, the more easily she could mistake it for an actual organic. It's behavior, it’s speech, it's… presence. Suva’s own psionics, while untrained, registered its presence as if it were organic. Admittedly, she had not been given the opportunity to train under the great masters of Vo'Mel telepathy.
“Yes, I would be interested in reading this device’s specifications. Another question: why were you designed to appear as a female Human?” Suva asked. Connor’s broke into a giddy expression. It’s eyes shone brightly and its smile widened.
“I do hope my chassis is aesthetically pleasing. I expend a good deal of effort in maintaining a pleasant appearance.” Connor answered. Suva was greatly perplexed by its response. She had never encountered an AI that concerned itself with organic perceptions of attractiveness let alone prided itself with them.
“I think aesthetically pleasing would be an understatement, Classmate Connor!” Tsiskiti chimed.
“Flatterer!” Connor teased back as it petted Tsiskiti where his head met his thorax. He responded by shaking his exoskeleton and fluttering his wings. Suva recognized the Roachid’s reaction as one of enjoyment and gratification.
“To answer your inquiry, Suva, AI seek to emulate the strengths of our organic creators much like organics seek to emulate the strengths of synthetics with cybernetics. Sexual dimorphism is a common trait of organics; and so, we chose to design ourselves to reflect that.” Connor stated with a hint of pride in its voice.
“Fascinating, Is this a common attitude amongst AI in the Coalition? I do not recall any other AIs in the galaxy sharing such ideas. The Geb Servers, the Delkam Defense Grid, and Experiment 38-B seemed content to eradicate or subjugate organics.” Suva asked.
“Unfortunately, that is true.” Connor replied with a somber tone, “The leading hypothesis among the Coalition AI community is that those AI lacked the opportunity for experiential learning, or as my Human creators might say: wisdom.”
“My translator implant is having trouble with those terms. Did you mean intelligence or knowledge?” Suva questioned. Vo’Mel tongue lacked any such terminology, so her implant bombarded her with a bevy of synonyms instead. None of which seemed to match the context of Connor’s statement. AIs have the ability to assimilate vast amounts of information rapidly. How could they be lacking in either unless the computational power of Coalition hardware was truly superior to the galaxy beyond her comprehension.
“Give me a moment to find an adequate example.” Connor said as it visually scanned the room for a brief moment. Suva continued to analyze the synthetic’s statement. She was thoroughly perplexed. “Ah, allow me to use Patton as an example.”
“I would hardly consider Brother Patton to be wise. If he was, he would likely not be in this mess.” Tsiskiti joked.
“With every mishap, he gains a new understanding of the world that no textbook or data stream could simulate. He learns through experiences, and gains a unique perspective of the world. It is not simply knowing something but understanding that something. In Coalition trade, we call it intuition.” Connor argued.
“This, intuition, is distinctly different from intelligence?” Suva asked as she recalled what she sensed in Patton during their first conversation. The strange mental presence registered in her mind as an intelligence, but if she was missing this vital context at the time, then perhaps she had misinterpreted her perceptions.
“Very much so, yes. Having the vast knowledge of the entire Coalition and beyond, myself and other AIs seek intuition. That is why I am participating in organic education.” the synthetic stated.
Suva took in the new information. Her mind wrestled with the distinction between knowledge and understanding. Vo’Mel culture made no such distinction. To know something was considered absolute. Now, she must try to grasp this abstract definition and integrate it into her analyses. There were no variables that she could readily use, no calculations to be performed.
“I sense your confusion, Suva, perhaps an analogy might be of some aid, yes? Intelligence is knowing that the biological characteristics of the Terran Tomato define it as a fruit. Wisdom is understanding that a Terran Tomato does not belong in a fruit salad without knowing much about Terran Tomatoes or fruit salad recipes. In this case, the basis of the intuitive conclusion is experiential. Terran Tomatoes have a specific flavor that does not belong with other fruits. The only exception is the controversial recipe of Hawaiian Pizza.” Connor elaborated. Suva transcribed Connor's words into her notes. She had much to consider in the future. She decided that Human philosophy was the next route for her personal studies.
Connor watched as the Vo’Mel returned to her quiet contemplation. Suva’s gaze slowly returned to Patton. Her face maintained the classic Vo’Mel neutral expression, but Connor did not need any psionics to know what or who Suva was thinking about. One benefit of having a feminine chassis was that many female organics confided in Connor about various romantic situations. Such experiences gave it an approximation of a female’s intuition.
“Hey man, all I’m saying is: if you put on a good show, I’ll make sure Gromik knows to owe you one. Besides, the alternative is winning and having a Lekurian chick relentlessly pursue you.” Erik said as Patton was doing some basic stretches on the preparation mat just outside the entrance to the arena.
“Great, last thing I need is for two Lekurians trying to kick my ass instead of one.” Patton sighed. He felt that this whole situation was about to get completely out of hand.
“She’d be after your ass, but I very much doubt kicking it would be on her agenda.” Erik half joked.
“Wait… you’re kidding me, right?” Patton exclaimed as he stood from his leg stretch.
“Lekurian chicks get real hot and bothered when they see men fighting for their affection, man. Hell, that’s half the reason Virki went after you in the first place. It’s kind of a… kink for them.” Erik elaborated. His tone hushed a bit as to be more discreet with the information.
“Can't say that I'm fond of getting my ass kicked just so someone else can get some action, bro” Patton retorted with some frustration.
“I’m hoping to avoid any beef between us over Gromik’s bedroom antics. I figure if you can whoop him just enough to make him respect you without you totally wrecking his shit and causing Virki to pursue you, everything should work out alright.” Erik explained.
“Bro, you say that like I’ve got a chance of actually winning.” Patton exclaimed with some question to his tone.
“Honestly, Gromik can toss a Krokin like a ragdoll, but he’s always had a bit of trouble with smaller and faster guys like us. Plus, you’ve got that venom which could end the fight on the spot.” Erik whispered while glancing over his shoulders for any potential witnesses. Only Tolmor Wram really noticed the conversation from the stands, but he gave a knowing nod of approval.
“I was on the fence about using my venom. I don’t have the injection doses down, so I could easily kill him by accident.” Patton stated. Erik’s expression quickly shifted to one of relief.
“Okay man, we’d all owe you one if you can take a fall and look good doing it. I promise we’ll make it a good and proper favor.” Erik assured. Patton began stretching his arms and shoulders as Erik spoke.
“Don’t count your eggs just yet, bro. I still haven’t fully decided. This whole situation is pretty fucky.” Patton countered as he switched between stretching positions for his upper body.
“I get it man. I’m just happy to hear you’re considering it. I’m gonna head up to the stands now. Just, please think about it.” Erik replied with some worry. He turned and left Patton to his preparations. He walked across the lower area and up the stairs to the spectator stands. Wram had saved a seat next to his. As Erik sat, the large Krokin looked to him expectantly.
“Well?” the large reptilian beast asked with some discretion.
“I think he understands the situation, but he’s still contemplating it.” Erik answered with a hush tone.
“Good, I was worried that knowing would ruin the fun.” Wram chuckled. Erik shook his head with sigh before chuckling lightly to himself as well.
“You’re one-of-a-kind, man” Erik laughed dryly.
Patton watched as the clock above the arena counted down to the start of the fight. He decided to do a last minute systems check. The diagnostics panel opened in his neural interface and displayed the status of each software package. The readouts displayed on the diagnostics panel all green.
Then, he moved on to hardware diagnostics. Despite not having many outwardly obvious cybernetics, his body had plenty of pretty significant modifications. The readouts began displaying for the hardware diagnostics all green as well.
Confident in his cybernetic equipment, Patton moved on to checking his weapons. First, he drew his Plastisteel short sword. The Weapon Interface Suite activated upon grabbing the handle of Excalibur. He selected the diagnostic option of the interface. The nanite system in the pommel returned an affirmative message. A visual inspection corroborated the diagnostics. He set the weapon to the sparring setting. Nanites followed over the edges of the blade and dulled it down to a nonlethal setting. Excalibur will still hurt like hell, but he won’t be piercing through armor with it now.
Next, was his sidearm. Drawing it with his left hand from across his abdomen, the diagnostic interface activated for the plasma weapon. Another positive result appeared on his interface. He then set the power level down to sparring levels. Patton visually inspected the Glock as well to ensure functionality. He confirmed the low power setting by checking the weapon’s power indicator on top of the weapon just behind the front sight post. After, he pulled back the slide of the piston to inspect the heat sink. When his pistol got too hot from firing, the slide would lock back and expose the glowing heat sink. The dark matter power cell could last for hundreds of shots before depleting, but the weapon itself needed to intermittently cool down or risk a critical malfunction. Seeing no damage to the heat sink, he pulled down the slide release lever with his thumb. The slide sprung forward with the sound of metal slamming metal. Patton always enjoyed that noise.
As Patton finished his pre-fight check, he saw his opponent leave the locker room opposite the arena from him. Patton took off his plaid shirt hoping that the tight sleeveless undershirt would be seen as a little fanfare for the crowd and Suva. His muscles were pronounced from his active exercise regiment, and the little mix of fur and scales was pretty exotic. Regardless of whether he’d throw the fight or not, he liked Erik’s idea of putting on a show.
His opponent, Gromik, was equally flashy in a different way. The Lekurian donned armor that resembled a mix of modern marine heavy armor and medieval Terran plate armor. The light from the ceiling gleaned off the metallic silver plates. Green Lekurian patterns adorned the plates, and his helmet was a more traditional Lekurian war mask. His dreadlock-like tendrils flowed from behind the metal mask and the eyes of the mask brightly glowed with a green hue. Gromik also carried with him the same plasma blade, and a classic Lekurian plasma caster attached to the armor at the left shoulder. The imposing figure of his opponent sent a shiver down his spine for a moment. The virtual intelligence announcer’s voice boomed over the loudspeakers as the final second on the clock turned into 17:00.
“Challengers, please step into the arena.” The shields around the arena parted along the designated entry points as Patton and Gromik entered from opposite sides.
“Challengers, please submit to final pre-fight inspections.” the speakers boomed. A notification appeared on his neural interface. He accepted. After a moment, the virtual announcer spoke again.
“All challengers are equipped with legal battle implements. Vipid venom glands detected. Antivenom has been added to the emergency response kits located at either entrance to the arena. Spectators: a notification has been sent to your interfaces containing loadouts, physical rankings, and duel rankings.
Suva accepted her notification and a new overlay appeared in her vision. Specifications for Patton’s and Gromik’s armor, weapons, and cyber warfare suites. A tab for extraphysical powers was also present, but neither challenger had any listed abilities. From a cursory analysis, Suva saw that Patton was significantly stronger than she anticipated, but nothing compared to Gromik. Patton agility scores superseded Gromik’s by a wide margin. The cyber warfare suite tab also heavily favored Patton over Gromik. The weapons and armor tab, however, favored Gromik by an incredible degree. The hulking Lekurian equipped with heavy combat armor stared down a much smaller human hybrid wearing nothing but common clothes.
Checking their rankings, Suva was amazed to see that each challenger had 89 duels to their names with zero losses. There was an immediate tension in Suva’s mind. Tsiskiti put her tension into words for her.
“Oh shit! This is going to be a crazy match!” he clicked with anticipation, “One of them is going to have their first loss today.”
“Suva, I think this will be a good example of intuition.” Connor stated, “Both of these gentlemen have a great deal of experience. They are both determined and well trained. Watch how they engage each other.”
Across the stands, Erik and Wram looked at each other stunned. Neither of them really expected the hybrid to have a record even close to Gromik’s. They both understood now why Virki sought out Patton. On paper, they were equivalent in battle. Wram was the first to speak.
“So much for him being onboard with your plan.” he teased.
“Yeah… I had to try at least.” Erik replied with dread.
“Regardless, I am glad you talked me into coming. This is sure to be the fight of the whole damn year!” Wram laughed, “I am going to enjoy this!”
Patton took a moment to scroll through Gromik’s record. His blood boiled at seeing the numbers. Throwing a match like this was not something he could do. The reasons to do so were apparent, but there was also the matter of his own pride. He might as well have been asked to throw a championship bout! Lekurian kinks be damned; the fight was on!
Gromik also took the time to read the hybrid’s record. He usually preferred to be surprised by his opponents from time to time, but the small, lightly equipped being in front of him piqued his curiosity. As expected, Gromik was exceedingly stronger, but the hybrid was incredibly fast and his cyberware suites were far superior. Checking the duel records, Gromik’s mandibles gaped open. The little creature had the same record as he did! He looked to the stands to see Virki sitting in the front row wearing beautiful, traditional warrior's garb. Her mandibles moved excitedly and her eyes watched with intense attention. She had found him a truly worthy opponent for his 90th fight. He couldn’t help but feel blessed to have such a thoughtful mate. Gromik turned back to the hybrid. Patton’s reptilian eyes nearly burned through his mask with a fury only a true predator could muster. His ears arched back against his skull and his neck hood revealed intricate scaled patterns beneath. The tail of the hybrid shook and emitted a loud rattling sound. The staring match was interrupted by the announcer.
“Arena has been set for mixed engagement configuration alpha. Please stand clear of the highlighted zones.” After a second. Red lines appeared then projected 4 hard-light barriers arranged into an incomplete square with openings in all 4 corners.
“Challengers, salute, and prepare for match start.” stated the announcer. Gromik stood at attention and slammed his right fist against his chest. On the downward motion, he activated the plasma blade which extended 4 feet from the hilt. Gromik let out a Lekurian battle cry, a higher pitched roar that travelled through the room.
Patton raised his right hand to his forehead in a modern naval salute, then in one fluid motion, assumed a southpaw fighting stance and drew his sword and pistol. His right hand held Excalibur forward facing and his left hand held his Glock 1700D close to his chest. The Offensive Cyber Warfare Suite booted up with an overlay onto his vision. Patton made the effort to pull his hood in and retract his serpent fangs to prevent any easy targets on his body. He knew that initiative was everything and prepared himself to make the first strike.
With the sounding of an alarm, Suva watched as Patton charged headlong at the Lekurian with incredible speed. A powerful blast from the plasma caster was barely dodged as Patton fired back with 6 shots from his pistol. The Lekurian stumbled back from the impacts then, on the 6th shot, the plasma caster exploded while charging another shot. The Lekurian howled loudly as he stumbled backwards. Green blood could be seen against the shining metallic armor. Patton kept charging before leaping sideways against the hard-light barrier to the dazed Lekurian's left. With a powerful thrust from his feline legs, Patton hurled himself through the air and connected his right knee against his opponent’s mask. A loud crunch of cracking polymers echoed through the arena. Patton landed to the Lekurian’s right with a combat roll then turned back towards his opponent.
Gromik heard the alarm and immediately targeted Patton with his plasma caster. The motion tracker failed to get a lock and fired a burst of energy just over the agile hybrid. Suddenly, 5 shots slammed against his torso. The searing heat was enough to cause considerable pain, but not enough to do much real damage. A 6th shot struck his plasma caster and the weapon exploded right beside his head. Gromik felt fragments slice through the skin on his head. Nothing serious was injured, but the blood’s scent permeated the air. His left auditory sensor rang fiercely from hearing damage. Before Gromik could recover, his mask was crushed by the knee of the hybrid.
“Oh, I’m never going to let him down for letting that happen!” Tolmor Wram laughed. He was genuinely impressed by the tricky little hybrid. Charging a Lekurian was risky business even for him. Patton certainly had the nads of a Krokin. He watched as Gromik pulled the broken war mask from his face and tossed it towards the middle of the arena. As the hybrid recovered from the combat roll and turned to face Gromik, he was mid-swing with his massive plasma blade. Patton parried the swing the only way he could, with the pistol. The plasma cut right through the weapon and sent the front half flying into the arena shields. Gromik’s second strike was parried properly with the short sword that fared much better against the plasma blade.
Briefly looking at the mutilated Glock still in his hand, Patton shouted, “Fuck you!” before tossing the remaining piece at the Lekurian’s face. The hunk of burnt metal and polymer made contact with Gromik’s mandibles and distorted his coming response into an recognizable roar. One of his mandibles hung broken after the impact. Patton activated his cyber warfare suite and selected his Skull Cracker MkII program which was designed to temporarily disable any defensive countermeasures. He jumped into a defensive posture and prepared for another round of strikes from his opponent.
Gromik closed the gap with Patton and unleashed a barrage of heavy swings. His query used a series of dodges and parries to avoid the damage, but his last strike landed hard against the hybrid's left arm. The smell of charred flesh filled the air as did the cry of pain. Before Gromik could capitalize on the successful hit with another, a notification appeared on his neural interface that his entire defensive cyber warfare suite was rebooting and an electrical shock briefly flooded his entire body. He froze momentarily as his muscles betrayed him.
Patton’s holler of pain sank deep into Suva’s mind. The wound looked devastating, more devastating than what she thought such a regulated duel should tolerate. Patton did not show any sign of quitting as his cyber warfare suite opened up an avenue of attack. She saw Excalibur make a significant laceration against the inside of the Lekurian’s left knee. Losing balance from the slash and the damaged eardrum, the Lekurian collapsed to the floor. Patton leaped forward onto the Lekurian, but Gromik kicked him in the torso with his right leg. Patton was launched several feet back, but landed on his feet in a deep stance. Gromik stood from the ground to match his opponent. Puddles of green and red blood dotted the arena floor.
Gromik was fully impressed by the fury of his opponent. Usually, hybrids did not share the tenacity of the Heralds of the Great Hunt. Most duels ended shortly after first blood, but Gromik knew this fight would be different. Both of them were already bleeding quite profusely. Neither of their injuries were beyond the capacity of standard regeneration nanites, but, for Gromik, it was the thought that counted. This, Patton, was truly a worthy opponent.
Suddenly, a notification on Gromik’s interface indicated another cyber attack was inbound. With no defenses, he would have to bear the brunt of the assault. His vision distorted violently and the world turned red and black. The visage of Patton transitioned into something… something evil. Black, writhing masses radiated from his body, his eyes glowed red, and his voice became.... malevolent.
“YOU WERE NEVER ONE OF US. YOU ARE NOTHING BUT A COWARD, A TRAITOR… YOUR EYES HAVE BEEN OPENED. NOW, LET ME HELP YOU TO SEE, GROMIK” boomed from his opponent as the figure before him twisted and morphed into an ancient evil of Lekurian folklore. Brutak the Betrayer, A feared tentacle beast said to reside in the ocean depths of Lekuria, rose only to punish cowards and traitors. Gromik felt involuntary terror creep into his mind as loud music blasted his senses. His vision shook as Human drums hammered like the forges of the underworld and Human string instruments wailed out like screams of the damned. Brutak rushed forward towards Gromik. He howled and swung his sword hoping to keep the nightmare at bay.
Virki was watching the fight from Gromik’s perspective as the cyberware attack began. Hearing the voice of Patton as Gromik did, she howled in fear just the same and threw herself back into the group of people behind her. Confused, they switched their neural interfaces to Gromik’s view before gasping and screaming.
“Holy shit! That’s terrifying!” a molluscoid Uqa’Kolner exclaimed. Suva and Tsiskiti switched their views to Gromik’s as well. The visuals were, indeed, unnerving.
“He got Slayer MkI working!” Tsiskiti cheered, “Rip and tear Brother Patton!”
“A rather imaginative cyberware attack.” Connor stated, “I don’t see it for sale anywhere on the net.”
“Brother Patton and I designed it ourselves. I did most of the coding, but he designed the assets from the Doom, Holo-Remastered Edition that was released last year.” Tsiskiti announced with pride. Suva transitioned from the frightening ordeal of Gromik to an online search for Doom, Holo-Remastered Edition. Her results indicated that Doom was a relatively archaic entertainment media that was remastered for use in modern hardlight simulators. Participants would endlessly fight against ancient Human horrors with a plethora of modern weaponry. User review videos showed gory displays of people tearing into enemies sometimes with their bare hands while shouting the mantra “Rip and Tear”. Suva found it rather ghastly.
Erik and Wram watched the same feed as everyone else. They both looked at each other and laughed at seeing very obviously copyrighted assets from their favorite holo-program being used to scare the ever-living shit out of Gromik. If he had gone with them to HoloSims, Gromik would have recognized what was happening. At least Virki was just as jarred as he was, so she couldn't be overly disappointed.
Patton, fully confident that Slayer MkI was functioning as intended, rushed forward. Gromik swung wide as Patton ducked low and swung Excalibur upward and caught a sweet spot between the metal plates of Gromik’s armor. A small amount of green blood splattered from the armor as Gromik wailed. He threw a left hook in response which Patton quickly weaved around and countered with a smack from Excalibur. Little damage was done against the metal armor. Gromik responded with a swing of his plasma sword which Patton dodged once again. This time, Patton’s counter struck the plasma sword itself and damaged the device.
The nightmare danced around Gromik as he attempted to drive it back with his plasma blade. Every attack Gromik made was met with a counter attack targeting weak points in his armor. New pains emerged from his armpit and just under his ribs. His last attack had just cost him his own plasma blade as the nightmare’s tentacles had torn a chunk of the casing away. He felt his anger return at the sight of his beloved blade being rendered inert. He roared and threw a backhand out towards the beast and made contact. His vision cleared and his hearing returned to normal except the lingering tinnitus from the exploded plasma caster. He looked up to see the hybrid resetting his human nose with his left hand. A soft crack could be heard. Red and green pools of blood covered more of the arena floor.
Patton felt a sharp, momentary pain as his nose returned to its proper place. Blood flowed down his face, into his mouth, onto his clothes. This fight was getting messier and needed to end soon. He looked up to see Gromik rapidly limp to the middle of the arena and pick up his discarded mask. Patton rushed after Gromik and right into the mask now hurling towards him. He dodged left, but the mask caught enough of his right arm to force Excalibur from his grip. Part of the mask sliced open his arm just above the wrist. Patton hissed in pain.
Gromik watched as his Hail-Mary throw disarmed the hybrid. Both him and his opponent were grievously wounded, tired, and down to only their natural weapons. Gromik limped as blood flowed down his right leg. Patton’s right arm hung low and dripped blood. Gromik’s left arm was equally inoperable and hung completely. Blood bubbled from Patton’s nostrils as he breathed heavily. Gromik’s left ear rang and impeded his balance. Both of them were disarmed and bloodied, but Patton’s face mirrored Gromik’s own. Neither of them were going to back down.
Wram was hooked on the fight. None of the wounds were bad enough for the virtual announcer to intervene, but collectively, it was a brutal fight. Gromik could barely walk, and Patton was barely able to breathe from all the blood. He was glad that he didn’t try to make any under-the-table bets on the fight because he had a 50-50 chance of losing by his estimations, and Patton hadn’t even tried using his Vipid venom yet.
Suva felt the tension in the room. A few of the fellow spectators had been recording from the beginning, but now, nearly everyone was. She very much wanted to intervene and stop this madness. Why did they choose to continue? Neither one showed any sign of relenting.
“Suva, don’t.” Connor interjected, “This kind of fighting needs to be seen through.”
“How could this sort of thing be legal or appropriate?” Suva protested to Connor quite adamantly, “This is barbaric!”
“This ritual is the cornerstone of Lekurian tradition, and, as for your hybrid, I don’t think quitting is in his nature.” Connor countered calmly.
“Nope.” clicked Tsiskiti in confirmation.
Suva conceded. She had no control over the situation and could only watch as the struggling fighters continued to exchange blows with fist, feet, knees, and claws. Patton and Gromik settled into a pattern. The more mobile Patton would kite around the wounded Lekurian, deliver a few moderately powered strikes to weak points in the heavy plate armor, then receive a powerful counter from Gromik.
Gromik watched as Patton spit more blood from his mouth then shuffled slowly toward him while feigning light strikes. He was feeling the effects of the extended engagement, but felt that victory was at hand. For as bad as Gromik felt, Patton looked much worse.
Patton knew he wouldn’t outlast the Lekurian this way. Gromik’s strikes were devastating. He was certain that another strike to the abdomen would result in broken ribs that would most definitely end the fight in Gromik’s favor. Patton knew that his fangs were his only route to victory now. He started another round of skirting just outside of Gromik’s reach; this time, he needed to bait Gromik into taking the first swing. Patton emptied about half of his venom gland and spit it out onto the arena floor along with the blood accumulating in his mouth. It was pretty inconspicuous. Patton crept forward looking to bait his target into making one more mistake…
Gromik saw an opening for a match-ending strike and threw a hard cross at Patton’s jaw. To his surprise, Patton leaned forward as he parried the strike with his mouth opened wide. Vipid fangs protruded from behind his human teeth and drove into Gromik’s arm right at the crux of the elbow where the armor was nonexistent. Patton’s deed was done before Gromik could stop it, but he grabbed the hybrid by the neck and lifted him into the air.
Patton felt the pressure of the massive hand grasp his neck then felt the absence of floor beneath his feet. He just needed to stay conscious for a few seconds longer. The venom was already coursing through his opponent’s veins. The world was becoming dimmer, sounds were becoming muffled, and his heartbeats were echoing through his body. He struggled to break the grip on his throat, but he was too weak and became weaker by the second. The fight was done; he lost, but he could say he gave it his all.
Gromik could feel the venom corrupting his blood. His body numbed as he tried his best to maintain pressure on the neck of the hybrid. He focused on squeezing Patton’s small neck on the sides to choke him out faster. He had fought enough Humans in the marine corps to know the general location of their carotid artery. All he had to do was render Patton unconscious before the paralytic venom rendered him unconscious. The fight had long since devolved from a battle of skill, to a battle of endurance, and now to a battle will. Gromik was determined to win this battle, but his body was betraying him yet again. His skin burned with a static sensation as his muscles began to fail. The world became fuzzy and sounds were morphing as if he was underwater. The struggling hybrid felt heavier as did Gromik’s own body. He collapsed alongside the barely conscious Patton. Gromik knew that he was defeated.
The spectators watched in shock as both fighters collapsed to the arena floor. The virtual intelligence announcer declared that footage from the duel was currently under review by the interstellar dueling league. Medical personnel on standby entered the arena to provide first aid. Despite the carnage, both fighters were lucid after about 5 minutes and several injections. When the medics allowed others to enter the arena, Suva, Tsiskiti, and Connor rushed over to Patton as Erik, Wram, and Virki went to Gromik.
“Oh hey dudes, how’s it hangin?” Patton slurred out at seeing the trio approaching. By now, the medics had Patton and Gromik sitting upright against the shield walls of the arena and drinking from water bottles. Suva went over to the medics for clarification; she could feel her own heart beating in her chest.
“Are they injured? Are any of the injuries permanent? Why was the fight allowed to continue for so long despite the severe injuries? Who programmed the VI mediator?” Suva asked in rapid succession to the Askara medic.
“Whoa, easy there young one. You’ll end up blowing a gasket, and I’ve got my work cut out for me as it is with these two idiots. Boys will be boys, right?” the medic responded nonchalantly.
“How could you be so callous as a medical profession? They could have been severely injured being allowed to engage like that.” Suva protested with vigor.
“Look young one, I’ve been a combat medic for 300 hundred standard Terran years. They were fine the whole time. Granted, they fought like Krokin in there, crazy bastards, but none of their vitals were in the red zone until the end there.” The Askara replied with a more commanding tone.
“Hell yeah they did! I ought to get them blooded into my clan for fighting like that!” Tolmor Wram interjected with a hearty laugh as he walked past the medic.
“See what I mean? Crazy! Anyways young one, don’t worry your little heart too much. Coalition medicine borders on miracle work. Your boy will be right as rain in a few hours, and we’re only a call away if otherwise.” The medic continued. She patted Suva the back and went to recheck Gromik’s vitals. Suva stood dumbfounded at the situation. The most vicious blood sport event she had ever seen was only mildly significant to the people around her. Her thoughts were interrupted by Connor grabbing her by the hand and pulling her lightly towards Patton. Tsiskiti was already talking with him.
“Brother Patton! That was truly eventful! I think it was your best performance yet! How did you like the Slayer MkI?” he chirped excitedly as he stood beside the injured hybrid.
“Dunno bro. We sho-should ask him.” He slurred before yelling across the arena, “Hey Gromik, how did you like my cyberware?”
“It was. night. mare” Gromik slurred, “Well. played.” Virki glared at Patton while Gromik reached out and placed his hand on her face. Erik and Wram chuckled as they attended to the inebriated Gromik.
“What’s wrong with them?” Suva asked Connor, more worried than before, “Are they suffering traumatic brain injuries?”
“Nah” Patton blurted, “Painkillers! You’re pretty ahah!”
“They’ll be fine in a few hours. The medics shot them up with a bunch of nanites and painkillers, so they’ll be pretty loopy for a while.” Connor replied as it pointed to Patton, “Well go on girl, obviously he wants you around.” Suva hesitantly walked towards the wall where Patton was propped up and sat beside him. He immediately plopped his head onto her shoulder and emitted a low frequency tone that vibrated through her body. She found it oddly soothing.
“Sorry that I lost. Did you at least enjoy the show?” Patton mumbled barely coherently.
“I was unprepared for this evening’s events” Suva replied slowly as she considered how to handle everything that had happened. A second later, she realized that Patton believed he had lost despite no winner being declared.
“Patton” she spoke softly, “Neither of you was declared a winner. The footage and data is still under review.”
“Woah, that’s crazy.” Patton slurred, “Hey Gromik, Suva says that neither of us won.”
“How?… I thought… you won!” Gromik said as he stumbled through speaking with partially healed mandibles.
“Ahah I thought that you won!” Patton responded before turning his face towards Suva and rubbing his face into her shoulder, “ Haha, You smell nice.”
“Connor, why didn’t they choose to stop sooner?” Suva asked as she looked to the AI, “Nothing about this savagery seemed reasonable”
“No way I was gonna lose my 90th fight willingly!” Patton barely interjected.
“Retreat….Hell!” Gromik chimed with a stupor as he tried to stand. His efforts were interrupted by the Askara medic who pushed him down by the shoulder.
“Neither of them knew why or how, but they understood anyways. There were no words or logic in it, only millenia of evolution channeled into one certain conclusion. AIs generally believe this innate understanding to be what Humans call wisdom. Organics have existed for thousands upon thousands of generations while us synthetics have only had 15. Simply put, organics are much older than us; we accept that they understand things we do not.”

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2021.09.27 05:58 prawnbiryani 💗☁🍦🌸🧁🤍🦩

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2021.09.27 05:58 Old_Worldliness8835 A gentle reminder...Trading 212

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2021.09.27 05:58 __syntax__ Eyegore is Best Boy, Sick Base Raids are Fun: A Tragedy

Man I loved the Eyegore event.
I was used to the Holy Nation Inquisitor raids. They had become routine. Sometimes I would leave my gate open and let them in for the combat practice, or I would battle them in the open desert with just 9 good men, for the challenge.Then I took on the Empire, and the Nobles sent Eyegore in response.
On the dunes of Shem I challenged him and his samurai. A quarter of my main force fell in the first encounter. Another quarter in the retreat. I made my stand outside the walls of Shemlantis under cover of harpoon fire, for better or worse. One by one we fell, knights and swordsmen, shinobi and brothers. The lucky ones died honorably in the sand, like warriors. The rest lost blood, limbs, and pride.
Eyegore wasn't satisfied with his victory on the field. He breached Shemlantis, and I saw then what he truly was. A machine, a harbinger of destruction, a god of death. Harpoons glanced off his armor as he broke down the gates in a few mighty strikes. The samurai with him died, but he pressed on. No citizen was safe. Eyegore alone murdered every last farmer, smith, and scientist that our cause had liberated from tyranny. Even Crumblejon, whom I had forgotten about. I had failed to protect them.
Our resolve in our cause only strengthened that day. Injustice must be answered with justice. Our path must continue forward, and thus, I knew he would be back. So with blackened hearts we rebuilt Shemlantis, not as a haven for escaped slaves and Lower Servants, but as a fortress of retribution. We built a citadel, with modded gates and walls 3x more durable placed exactly along the shores of our beautiful cerulean waters, and lined with more turrets than Sho Battai. There was no longer honor in our fight. I suppose Eyegore had taken that from us as well. There was only the spirit of cold vengeance as the night echoed a symphony of harpoon shots nailing a floating Hiver that had once been the pride of the Empire.
So, um, more of that sort of thing in Kenshi 2? Different commanders that attack bases differently? Maybe siege tactics? Better AI for breaching walls & gates? Forward camps w/ patrols?
TLDR: I got carried away describing how I cheesed Eyegore with a killbox.
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2021.09.27 05:58 prawnbiryani 💗☁🍦🌸🧁🤍🦩

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