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Charlotte

IC: Savage Rifts: Here Comes Tomorrow #1: "When The Other Shoe Drops"

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Squidge quickly held her hands up at head level to show they were empty. In her case it wasn't more than a symbolic gesture...but symbols had real power.

"Guys, look, blood's a little high after a fight, but we're not enemies here. The Federation of Magic warped this piece of a hive in. We came to get rid of it before the xiticix claimed the area and wiped out the town here. That's it. Whoever you are, whoever you're with, I think we can agree that's a mission accomplished, right?"

She hoped that Phere was right in her analysis. She herself hadn't seen the SAMAS arrive, and looking at the suits she didn't immediately spot standard ID numbers or unit markings, but the Coalition did have some somewhat 'irregular' units that might not have been held to the standard regs on that kind of thing. Especially the ones that operated on the fringe areas.

The idea that a merc company could acquire and field that many cutting-edge flying power armor suits from the Coalition was a bit unnerving in itself, truth be told.

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The pilot of the Super SAMAS was almost visibly disgusted as Phere moved in front of Tamika. "You really want to die for a fuckin' d-bee, deserter?" From the tone of his voice, all doubts as to whether or not the pilot was Coalition - or at least a strong sympathizer - evaporated.

"I dunno, squad. Hive doesn't look fully destroyed to me. I figure we ought to call in a death's head, carpet bomb the area with plasma bombs. If that town over there gets destroyed, well, shit happens - "

The SAMAS was cut off as a sonic boom washed out over the field - literally washed over it, the crops swaying from the noise. All of the SAMAS immediately turned in the direction it came from - which was towards the ley line. Half a mile away, glinting in the sun, the group could make out the telltale visual profile of a glitter boy, racking its boom gun with one hand while its other was holding a more conventional heavy rifle.

The SAMAS were all uninjured - either the pilot had missed, or wasn't aiming at anything. Its gun racked, it began to advance. The group could make out others advancing with it as well - some kind of d-bee with horns similar to Ianoko's, a human spellcaster in telltale ley line walker armor, what looked like a juicer, and what looked like a Coalition dog soldier. The d-bee and the juicer were supporting the ley line walker, who looked ready to collapse in exhaustion, but they all looked ready for a fight.

The Glitter Boy pilot went on loudspeaker - his voice was deep and self-assured. "Sorry. My finger slipped. I agree with that woman's advice, and I suggest our friendly neighborhood SAMAS squadron take it."

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At the sight of the SAMAS squadron, Fi had immediately begun edging towards the Red Rambler, booting up the engine and weapon system via commands through her pipboy. Which wasn't to say her eyes didn't linger on the flying power armor. Every mechanic and engineer she knew was terribly interested in the tech of the new Coalition army that had been rolled out just before the war on Tolkeen. They must have a cache of pre-Cataclysm schematics or something...

Her piqued interest heightened into almost gushing desire at the tremendous BOOOOM over head and she zoomed in her vision on the chrome-plated figure began approaching with several others in tow. Now there was pre-Cataclysm tech she'd always wanted to get her hands on. But Glitter Boy Jockeys were also so touchy about others poking at their fantastic toy. She was sure once she got her hands on one, she could put it back together... after a few shots at taking it apart... Probably.

She glanced at the Glitter Boy's companions doubtfully - they were a varied lot, but all in all, they seemed less inclined to indiscriminate slaughter. Her eyes returned to the Glitter Boy, or rather on his armor. The chrome-plating had a retro style, though it was less effective with modern day variable-frequency lasers.

"So I take it, you guys are the Tomorrow Legion who sent out that message earlier?" Fi asked, nodding at the Glitter Boy, Dog Boy, Juicer, Ley Line Walker, and D-Bee with her pointed chin, then jerking a thumb at the asshole wearing the 'Grinning Demon'. Rank and Insignia or no Rank and Insignia, they seemed CS to her. "Not them? Thanks to y'all for help with the mop-up, but I think Prince's Landing has it in hand now. Unless either of you have a spare hip-actuator you're willing to part with?"

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On 7/15/2018 at 12:10 PM, Charlotte said:

The pilot of the Super SAMAS was almost visibly disgusted as Phere moved in front of Tamika. "You really want to die for a fuckin' d-bee, deserter?" From the tone of his voice, all doubts as to whether or not the pilot was Coalition - or at least a strong sympathizer - evaporated.

"What's it to you if I die? "I mean, I'm not much better than she is to you, right?" Phere asked, her naturally blackened eyes narrowed, showing no signs of backing down.

She glanced over to Squidge and asks, "Is that what they call it when you escape the people that kidnapped you as a child? Desertion?" only to shrug and then turn back to the SAMAS.

When the Glitter Boy fired, Phere still stood her ground, though a small, almost predatory smile tugged at the corners of her lips.

""If you had the kind of juice with high command to call in a death's head bombing run, then this place would be cratered already rather than you risking facing a swam of these bugs. No. Instead they sent you guys in, and you got here just in time to see us handle our shit ourselves, while you needed Super SAMAS to mop up our leftovers." she commented as she looked over the SAMAS.

"So you're faced witha choice now. You can either take the 'thanks' an leave, or you can stay and make what'll likely be the the biggest mistake of what'll be your tragically short life. So what'll it be? The carrot, or the stick?" she asked with the vibroblades extended from Phere's vambraces with an audible hum as she stepped closer to the SAMAS. 

"It makes no difference to me, because one way or the other you'll be gone in a few minutes an me and mine will be having beers. The choice is yours."

Phere knew that Squidge would be... disappointed.... but right now, she really did not care. The SAMAS' comment and casual disregard for non-human life had struck a nerve with her, considering Tamika risked her life and fought along side the rest of them to destroy the hive and save the town, and that said a lot about her in Phere's book.

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The SAMAS squadron was quiet for long, tense moments - with the reinforcements, the battle was looking far less one-sided, though still not a sure thing. Finally, the SAMAS commander spoke.

"Don't let us see you again, or we might forget to forget you were here."

The warning delivers, the squadron turned its jets upwards, and took off, returning to whatever forward operating base they came from.

The others approached, they ley line walker still looking drained, supported by the d'norr and the juicer. The pilot of the glitter boy paused, not too far from the group, and a fuzzy holo-projection of his face appeared in front of him. He was what they used to call African-American, with the interface HUD covering the upper half of his face, even in hologram. The dog boy walked forward, and now the group could see that she was really a dog girl - with some kind of unusual psychic signature that tickled Phere's senses. The dog girl and Phere locked eyes, and there was no doubt in both Phere's mind and Squidge's that she was ex-Coalition as well. As for the Glitter Boy itself, it was unquestionably pre-Cataclysm technology, and barring a few nicks and scratches it still shone with all the colors of a rainbow.

"You have us pegged, ma'am," said the holographic projection of the glitter boy pilot. "We're with the Tomorrow Legion. It looks like you took care of the hive for us, though, so we're at a bit of a loss..."

"Could give 'em the pitch," said the dog girl.

"Hmmm." The pilot thought it over, then nodded. "How about we introduce ourselves. I'm Eugene, this young fuzzy lady is Dawn, and to your right is Xelphina, Nystri The Magnificent, and the Beef Warrior." He pointed to the d'norr, the mage, and the juicer in turn. "We're essentially a response team, helping out places that need protection from nightmarish forces both human and inhuman, which is why we responded to your general distress call. Now, would you like to tell us a little bit about yourselves...?"

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Phere's vibroblades retracted once the Super SAMAS squad was a good distance away. At the hologram's question, she replied.

"I'm Phere, and that's Squidge, Firanis, BB and Tamika." she said, nodding to each.

"Squidge and I were part of Psi Bat, but we got fed up with the Coalition bullshit, seeing they were just as bad as the 'monsters' they claimed to fight... probably worse, during the war. So we left." she explained and then nodded toward Squidge.

"Squidge can probably explain it better." she said with a shrug of her broad shoulders.

"The others we just met, but we all stepped up and took out that hive fragment, so good in my book." she added as she stepped out of the cluster of gathered people.

Phere took a knee and brought up her rifle, watching the SAMAS depart through her scope, making sure they were indeed departing.

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"That was a pretty good summary, Phere, you did fine," Squidge reproves. She then looks at the newcomers, the 'legion.'

"I was an interrogator," the psychic says, and quickly adds, "Not torture. Telepathy. For awhile, I bought the state line about how the evictions and purges were to protect people. But...the thing about living another person's memories is that it's really hard to see them as 'not people' after that."

She shakes her head. "For awhile I went on, because if I got information then they didn't necessarily get remanded to another unit for other kinds of interrogation, but in the end...I couldn't justify it. For every legitimate threat my unit went after, there were dozens of people who's lives we ruined, or just took away. As long as I was part of that, I wasn't protecting anyone, no matter how...nice I tried to be about it."

"So! Phere and me are trying to get a new start. Like she said, we only just met these others but they seem like decent people..."

The psychic eyed the towering dark knight for a moment, then shrugged.

"Decent enough."

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"Squidge and I have been partners for some time. And like she said, our eyes were opening. The final straw was the war. The Coalition was no better than their enemy. Both doing horrific things and justifying it to themselves." Phere said, as she rose and cradled her rifle, stepping closer again. 

"The final straw was when we were needlessly sacrificed on an opp. The order came down and we obeyed because we thought that command had intel and knew what it was doing." Phere explained.

"Squidge and I made it out, barely, but I lost my entire pack that day." the large, intimidating psi-stalker sighed, with the loss she felt was apparent both on her face and in her voice.

"After that, command thought we were all dead, so Squidge and I saw no reason to correct them and left, making sure to stop at a supply depot on our way out." she said with a shrug.

Phere held out an arm, looking over the armor plates as she spoke again, "This is the new, advanced prototype stuff. Even better protection than what the Spec-Ops boys get."

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BB thumbed his nose at the retreating SAMAS, or gave that sort of air, since he didn't have a nose. So these were the Tomorrow Legion people. Funny mixed group. Didn't seem like mercenaries. Hearing Phere and Squidge's story didn't really change anything - there was that sense they were former Coalition to begin with. At least they got out of those jackbooted Dead Boys.

"I'm me, BB Rodriguez. Not much to say. I'm a cyborg, I wandered around for a bit. Fi helped me out so I've been tagging along with her."

"That's it?" Beef Warrior asked dryly. The cyborg shrugged. "Well, yes." So he didn't remember anything before waking up a cyborg. No big deal. Probably some Average Joe Schmo who could only dream of being as awesome as BB was now.

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"Yeah, well, it's what we know," Firanis added, giving the over-muscled Juicer a cautious glance. Juicers put her on edge - they always seemed on the verge of exploding. "I found him skirting through Tolkeen after... y'know. Patched him up, and like BB said, he's stuck around." She smirked, half exasperated, half fond. "Probably for the beer more than anything else."

Fi's main attention remained on the Glitterboy however. She couldn't help but be intrigued by the pre-Cataclysm technology, still in top working order despite the centuries. "Call me Fi. I'm an Engineer, Mechanic, and general Operator from Ishpeming. Northern Gun? But I've traveled around North America a fair bit, fixing things here and there to make my way."

And doing a few other things, but probably best not to mention who else I've worked for at the moment. Watts scampered from the Red Rambler and scurried up to perch on Fi's armored shoulder, who shifted and steadied herself under the adorable, red racoon-ish animal. Watts chittered and chirped excitedly and Fi scritched him under the chin.

"This bugger is Watts." Firanis arched a coy, curious brow. "Tomorrow Legion, hmm? I've been around North America, the Federation of Magic not so much." Not ever, really. "But I ain't heard of you lot before. Where do you guys call home?"

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"Long story," said Eugene, nodding to each in turn - as much as he could, given the restrictive nature of the suit. "You mentioned needing an exoframe. How about we head into the town that we got the distress call from, and we can tell you all about ourselves - and perhaps figure out what we can do for each other."

After pausing for a while to ensure that the xiticix weren't about to swarm back for a counteroffensive, and ensuring that anything volatile in the stash of gear that was embedded in the hive's walls was properly handled, the group headed back to town. Tamika and Glitter Girl hugged, both happy to be alive; Adam and his charge made themselves scarce, muttering something about needing to move on. Simon limped out to meet the group, eyebrow raised at the new additions, but not getting ready to draw down just yet - especially with a Glitter Boy in tow.

Eugene declined to disembark from the Glitter Boy, but the others were quite happy to indulge in the booze that Grep helpfully brought out into the street. Ianoko and Xelphina exchanged a look of mutual empathy; the Beef Warrior went into the slightly fuzzy torpor that was common for a juicer on downtime; the ley line walker just drank to get their strength back. The dog soldier Dawn pulled off her helmet and put on a bright purple wig that clipped into place from some kind of subdermal attachment system in her skull; off any odd glances, she just said she liked to look pretty.

Eugene began, once everyone was settled. "In war, there are the winners, there are the losers, and then, there are the survivors. The Tomorrow Legion is the third category.

"We are people who've taken a look at the way that the winds are blowing in North America, and we don't like what we see, and we've decided to do something about it. Our leadership includes Lord Coake of the cyber-knights - " Eugene nodded towards Dawn. "As well as the scholar Erin Tarn, and many of the political leaders of more thoughtful, progressive communities, such as Lazlo. We've taken a look at the war between Tolkeen and the Coalition, and the other war brewing between the Federation and the Coalition, and we're endeavoring to help anyone potentially caught in the crossfire - and perhaps, head off the fight altogether.

"Our members come from all walks of life - magicians, psionicists, pilots, soldiers, scholars, humans, mutants, d-bees and dragons. Our credo is that there's a better way to live than the fascism and bigotry of the Coalition's imperialism, or the blood sacrifices and horrors of the Federation's manatocracy. And seeing as how you are situated very close to both of these great powers, if a war does come you'll be in the thick of it. I'm sure you'd like to have some protectors - " Eugene waved towards Phere, Squidge, Fi and BB. "And they in turn would like some institutional and logistical support. We, in turn, would like a presence in the region as well.

"If you're interested, we can talk more. Our chief condition is that we need to be tolerant of other's differences, as long as those differences don't involve intolerance in and of themselves, and attempt to understand how the world impacts us all differently, and how best to form a solidarity that protects us all and allows us to live with dignity in this world."

"Or as an ol' pre-cataclysm show would say: infinite diversity in infinite combinations." Dawn smiled, and held up a furry hand in a difficult-looking hand gesture.

Eugene looked a little embarrassed, but didn't dispute the statement.

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"Correct me if I'm wrong," BB asked Firanis sotto voce, since Eugene was making a speech and BB didn't want to be that guy (cyborg), "but I thought we were just stopping here, fixing the Rambler. We aren't seriously hanging around and playing hero, are we?" Beyond that, he had no real objection with the Tomorrow Legion per say - tolerance and diversity was all and well as long as it wasn't trying to bite his metal ass off.

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"I ain't a hero," Fi muttered back just as softly to BB, barely moving her lips. "And don't get more wrong, I love wandering in the Rambler. But you know he's right, 'bout the CS and the Feds. I might have to watch out for people watching for me up North and wanting a word or three, but do you want to have to watch out for CS boot heels and Fed fireballs and demons everywhere we go?"

Fi shook her head, Watts clinging to her magenta tresses to maintain his perch. "I generally have a live and let live attitude," Fi said after Eugene finished his proposal and Dawn added her comments. "And while I prefer machines to magic," she shot Tamika a look before the techno-wizard could claim their were the same thing - or at least, not mutually exclusive, "I don't have anything against wizards specifically. Just not my thing. I just like making things, fixing things. And I won't disagree the sitch in North America needs some fixing. But that's big picture stuff, and I'm kinda small."

She smirked self-deprecatingly. "Some support wouldn't go amiss, I'd admit. But I like moving around. Don't mean I ain't interested. I'd just like to here more before signing anything official-like. Maybe work something out like consultants or contractors, eh?"

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Squidge was quiet, thinking over what was being said.

This 'legion' could potentially lie low, she thought. Help refugees, keep peace in an area as long as that area wasn't too close to the Coalition States, or too aggressive about expanding. After the costly victory over Tolkeen, the Coalition would be looking to rebuild quickly to keep the Federation from getting fancy ideas. They were definitely the next big thing though. Prosek's armies had, they believed, perfected their anti-mage tactics against Tolkeen. They'd feel emboldened to move on the Federation.

And she'd already seen what the magisters of the Federation were experimenting with.

How serious was she about all this? Did she want to find a safe nook and curl up and hope to let the storm pass her by? Or did she want to go into those winds and rains and try to...what? Hold it back? Stop it altogether?

Or maybe just try to get as many other people through it as she could.

The ex-Coalition psychic looked over at Phere and caught her eye. A moment later the psi stalker felt the familiar feeling of telepathic contact.

What do you think?

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