Dec 09, 2022 5:19 AM
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An open expanse of bright blue. The light feels like it's pressing through, fresh and strong. A slight gradient of lightness, but no sign of another color.

Pressure at the back; something level and smooth, the same temperature all over. The same, if lighter, for other sections of touch. A slight indentation at the extremities. A pleasant texture. Almost sharp. A pleasant cold flow over the rest of the body.

A sound of howling and ruffling. Barometry 83kPa.

 

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You don't know how long it's been. But you know it's been a long, long time..

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Waking is a process, even for her. She first becomes aware of her temperature, the temperature of her surroundings. Gradually, her auditory processing creeps online, automated subsystems parsing and sifting data outside of her conscious experience and noting that something nearby is moving, the situation is urgent. The rest of her systems acknowledge this, and skip past self-checks and consistency alarms to bring pumps online, creaking as fluid reinflates stiff contractive fibers to animate her, vision coming online first in fuzzy point clouds, then focusing on her surroundings, scanning for what could have wakened her.

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A glint of light and a writhing figure against the brightness. Open field. No cover except the nearby signature. Someone is here. It is almost certain. Combined sensor report suggests the unknown signature stands less than a meter away, west-north-west. Distance readings unstable. Possibly approaching. Possibly cloaked to proximity sensors. Sensors possibly damaged. Too little time for self-diagnostics.

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Too little time, she's already moving backwards trying to buy herself distance, scrambling for her gun, too-rusty elastic in her throat peeling apart as with a voice like a pack-a-day hundred year old smoker she croaks "Who goes there?"

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The picture comes into focus. There is a single figure ahead, bright white, of constant size and changing shape.

Plastic bag. Standard size. About eighty centimeters distance. Caught on some kind of metal pole stuck in the ground. Shaking in the quite strong wind.

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Surrounded by sky blue at all sides, the tops of high-rise buildings concealing a good chunk of the line of the horizon. The sound of waves. The sound of wind.

...Barometry 84kPa. Standing on some kind of tall pillar. Conflicting information. Unknown height. 

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She shuffles her feet against the... whatever it is. She needs to figure out where she is, she isn't back in her pod, what's going on. Gun is pointed at the... whatever it is, hopefully she's fast enough if it's aggressive, why isn't it responding!

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The plastic bag comes off the pole, shooting off into the air for a moment, before its trajectory bends sharply into the lower city expanse. It can be heard ruffling for a few seconds more. The wind current appears to explain its movement.

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Is it coming back.

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The target object appears to have moved out of visual range for several seconds. 

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Staring.

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Analytics suggest the target has moved to a less advantageous firing or sighting position. Retreat action is likely. 

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She's not pursuing, then. Insufficient data despite her rude awakening. scanning environment - what day is it? What year? Were there always so many clouds?

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Clock time is June Third, 2001. This date happens to be before the production date of February Twenty-Sixth, 36[memory chunk lost]1.

Cloud amount appears to be within planetary baseline, if rather on the high end. Location unknown.

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A city.

Elevated vantage allows passive sensors to model much of the surrounding space. The operator stands on top of a white pillar with a square horizontal cross-section measuring five meters. Marble-like. At least one hundred meters tall.

The marble is much whiter than the gray of the surrounding buildings, and the green coloring their walls where they meet the ground is illuminated by sparkling...

Water. A sunken city.

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She breathes in, oxygen flowing across secondary heated catalysts on the primary fuel cells which flare to life with a soft hum and a smell of burning dust. It's like the city was pressed down with a giant's hand but she slipped between the colossus's fingers. What could have caused such a catastrophe? She needs to investigate.

Operating at higher power now. She's going to jam one hand into the cracks of the pillar and grasp jutting rebar with the other, and get down for a closer look.

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Systems hum and whir in the low whisper of an infantry machine. Mobility nominal.

The pillar seems far less damaged than the surrounding buildings. Some cracks present the potential for testing its mettle, but there doesn't seem to be any exposed rebar.

Could jump, though.

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She's going to jump.

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Good.

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Bad. Height not enough to reach terminal velocity, but water could-

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Of course. Maximum power. Slaved motile-ballistics subroutines are consulted to create an arc towards a particularly deep spot in the water, breath hiss, reactor screech, and the body bends and braces and takes off.

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A blur of scenery warping and melting into a colorful streak across get vision and then submersion, cold, darkness. She can't tell which way is up.

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[CAUTION] - [PHYSICAL SHOCK]

[WARNING] - [UNDER WATER. AIRWAYS RESTRICTED. ANAEROBIC GENERATOR ACTIVE]

The safety systems in the joints encourage stillness. Gyroscopics agree. This is no time to try learning to swim. Dense mesh sinks through the water faster than a rock, and meets the concrete soon enough. 

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Something about sinking into abyssal darkness feels familiar. But this isn't so abyssal, is it? Internal sensors stable. 

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She looks around for some kind of direction, looming shapes in the darkness.

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