[Mid-Episode 2] The Start of the Worst Kind of Joke


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That changed things. A lot of things.

First: She was now in the rabbit hole. Not just head through the rabbit hole, but full-body, tumbling down the rabbit hole. And she doubted it would be Wonderland on the other side. Very likely this was just foreshadowing the things that were to come. Honestly? Although she was somewhat shocked that of all people, Reman did that...could he have been the one to fry the hard drive? Well, not a concern now.

Get him out of sight. She dragged Reman back down into the snow drift, away from the entrance, just as Romulus and A3 rounded the corner up the stairs. Phew. The second matter now.

"We can't head back," Marie told him. "I don't care about the fact that you stole research which should never have been done in the first place. I don't even care about how many different codes of ethics have been burned to bits over his-" she jabbed a thumb at Romulus heading off in the distance "-little project. What we do need to do is to first regroup with our allies. And then we need to make a new driver, as fast as possible."

After all, she was in the kettle. No point in trying to keep her ethics together anymore, either, when lives were on the line due to this. She could assume that Romulus thought her complicit as well, due to having a driver too. And at extension, Juryrig.

"I... I was there when he burned down the lab. He was ruthless, and left nothing but his own personal copies of his research. Not an ounce of evidence was left."

"So he wanted it gone," Marie replied, snatching the book over as she poured over the pages of information. Information that would cause them to win this next engagement.

"Not gone, just simply hidden. He had worked on humans up to this point, and if the institute found out he would never have gotten as far as he did."

"Bad job at hiding it, leaving the two of us idiots alive." Marie joked, in the awful situation they were in. "Interesting...resonance? We really need more keys, then..."

"To be honest, If he was there he wouldn't problably be after you specifically. He has a few other reasons to go after me though." Reman pulled up his journal and turned to a page with a specific log on it. It was his own data, showing a specific part of the page. For every other subject he had, there was a key of origin, Zone, Quake, Void... His was left blank. "He never truly finished my data. Whatever my original key was, the data was never finished. Over all the compatible subjects..."

"We need our team." Marie looked up, after reading through the subjects. "Osco was informed, Rhea was informed, and, regrettably...Juryrig."

Reman went further into panic upon this information. "You let people KNOW? Do you realize how much trouble anyone who knows is IN?" Reman whisper-yelled.

"I'm well aware," Marie replied. "I'm very aware that we're marching into hell."

"No , you really are not. If this is hell, he's lucifer. He has had years of fighting experience and any moment he could get close I-"

"He's one man, Reman." Marie replied. "In an ordinary combat scenario he might beat all of us many times. But there's some hope, right here."

The book was turned to the entry on Resonance, tossed back at Reman.

"This is NOT an ordinary scenario! And resonance won't help either, he knows what makes it tick! I might- no DEFINITELY don't have the full info."

"That's fine. Rhea's been instructed to steal a key the next chance she gets. We need Juryrig to improve a workspace so we can make a driver in the next five hours. And we need Osco to run interference for us. Maybe Miko too. A solid Sage ability matters."

"Marie. Do you know what happened to lab 14?"

"Not really, and at the current point I'm not in the state of caring. I need an actual, thorough, list of capabilities Romulus has. Then we plan against it." Marie replied. "As far as I'm concerned, if Romulus wants to remove you then he's quite frankly done an awful job. He hasn't made himself very well-liked as it seems, and he hasn't even tried to get any help eliminating you."

"Again, we need Juryrig. We need to make as many temporary things as we can to throw at him. If there's one thing we can agree Romulus fears, it's someone unpredictable."

"You Haven't met Gamma then. He helped him work on the project."

"I don't see a Gamma," came Marie's slightly wise-crack reply.

"Marie. Do you know what he did to ME?"

"Save the exposition for when you're eventually going to be getting grilled by the people with the guns onboard the ship for information."

"It was like... "

"We're wasting time here," Marie replied, looking through the window and gesturing at Rhea and Osco to come to her.

"Every armed guard they sent after him... Wounded. Wounded. Heavily injured. ICU."

"Oh, so that's why the medbay was temporarily shut down for like a month for 'renovations' when I could feel the amount of electricity very much not being for that purpose..." the Sage idly noted, as she kept reading. "Stop being such a pessimist right now. If we were all pessimists, Reman, science would have gotten nowhere."

"Marie... His key is Inferno. He wields a greatsword that can melt steel on contact. Bullets won't even do anything to the armor,I-" Reman started to show his anxiety more and more until-


"Reman. Do you know what it means to be a person of science?" Marie asked him. The book was now shut.

He was blindsided by that question. Clearly unprepared, he said; "I- Not really?"

"Galileo was in a system of people who would never have listened to his right idea. The idea of the atom was invented a thousand years before the first proper model. Fire was a tool to mankind when fire was a danger to all the other beasts of the earth." Marie began.

"There is no scientist who has not faced a crushing wall of odds stacked against them," Marie told Reman. "There has never been one, there will not be one, and there will never be one. All science fights against the impossible unknown."

"One point five millenia ago, we would struggle to bypass the speed of one hundred kilometers per hour. Today, we broke the speed limit of the universe. Anyone can, in fact. All they need is an FTL license."

"Science has gotten nowhere from being a pessimist. Science hasn't even really gotten anywhere from being a realist. Realism is left to the bankers and the brokers and the salesmen. At heart, we scientists are optimists." Marie finished. "We take the impossible as the greatest challenge higher beings can give us."

"And this-" Marie flicked Reman's forehead with a hefty static charge behind it "-is why you're an idiot."

Taking the brunt of the blow, Reman turned toward Marie and asked timidly; "Do you really believe we stand a chance?"

"Perhaps. Chaos theory likes to behave that way, Reman. Nothing is ever impossible. Only highly improbable."

"I know every key he has on that belt. If that would help..."

"Then we plan against them. Anti-Sage combat." Marie stated.

"Marie, one more thing... We don't really have organs for sage-whatever."

"That doesn't matter. They behave similarly enough."

"Then let's get started."

"First, we need Juryrig, though." Marie replied.

Reman flipped through his book to a library of data as Marie got out her own notebook, flipping to the appropriate pages.

"First up is Steel. One of the keys he tested on me. As it's not currently in his Posession, it doesn't really pose as much of a threat as some of the others will. It's basically my suit but with less mobility and more armor. It could problably take a cruiser crashing from orbit."

"Data collected is...not much. All I know is that he handed it off to the robot. We could possibly make a shield device out of it. Any unique abilities?" The woman began scrawling down notes in an incredibly quick fashion, clearly practiced after years of study and experience.

"It has the ability to form metal as if through nothing. He could create a sizable steel wall if he needed the extra bit of it. As well as the weapon. A warhammer of sorts, built to crush."

"Good. We're giving that to Rhea or Juryrig as they'll make the most use out of it with their unique abilities. They'll be the most used to them. Likely Juryrig. Next."

"Second key, I'm assuming yours. Voltage. Stores energy in the suit and can create lightning in an isolated area provided he has enough charge."

"Most powers are understood by me. Definitely going to be my key to use as I understand it the most. What about the superspeed?" she asked.

"Burst ability, not much else to it. Lethal when used correctly. Weapon is a staff built to arc electricity from it's end."

"A flexible speed form, then. Two speed forms, one with 3d mobility and one purely focused on burst movement. Next."

A small spark arced off of Marie and discharged into her driver. Although her face didn't show it, this was a behavior that she exhibitied in times of intense emotion.

"The key he uses to make portals is called Zone. It's a way to manipulate spaces around him, creating walls and opening pathways. Anything he can see or remember, he can travel to."

"Good. I've gotten the ability spot-on, then."

"Not 100%, he has two weapons on this key, both are tiny little orbiting bodies that can fire these walls like bullets."

"So a control-based key. Don't get hit by it or you're out of the fight." Marie observed. "We need Rhea to focus on stealing that one. Next."

"Next up, Trigger. It's basically a way to make firearms more potent, and it's user more accurate. Suit comes with a targeting system and missiles."

"That one goes to you," Marie replied. "You have the mobility to get to places you need to be."

"I uh... Wouldn't advise that. It's built around the weapon, an assault rifle which has the ability to home onto his target provided the system is locked on."

"Then we need Zone and Steel. Voltage doesn't matter as much, Trigger matters the least. Next."

"Last up is Inferno. It's-"

"We are not stealing that one." Marie noted first.

Reman started to tear up as he started to remember the pain he felt. "It's his key."

"Stay with me, here. We have two keys Juryrig managed to...theorize."

"Right." Reman wiped his face off and tried to regain his composure. "It's ability is to heat up and spread flame across objects. Like the others he can c-" Reman choked up for a moment before contuning. "Conjure it from seemingly nothing. His weapon is what he calls 'The King's Wrath.'"

"Then I'm glad our pilot is with us, too." Marie replied, looking up...quite smugly. "Do you want to know how terrifying some thermokinetics are?"

"N- No thanks. I've kinda already had firsthand Exposure."

"Oh no. There have been stories of some of our thermokinetics who graduated and went on to work in fire departments. They don't wear any protective gear walking into buildings. At all. Fire isn't a problem, only the greatsword."

"He's hurt me before with that greatsword. He's an expert with it. If you knock it out of his hands it just fizzles and he conjures a new one."

"Then we use Zone, or Steel." Marie replied. "We use both as control keys against his key that is nothing but offense."

"Marie-" Reman re-opened the book to a certain page. "You don't really know a lot about how he fights, do you?"

"Nope. Information is appreciated, but let's finish covering the keys." Marie interrupted.

"That's kinda what I was leading into. My key is the last I know about here. Cyclone."

"I've experimented thoroughly with Cyclone. The only thing I lack is the weapon."

"It's an axe, designed to be controlled by either Aerokinesis or by the suit itself. It's basically a throwing axe that returns to you. If he gets his hands on it, he'll have complete control. His methods are cold, calculated and fast."

"Cool, so just don't go down." Marie replied, smiling for once.

"Alright, time to talk about Juryrig's keys. They...aren't perfect. They have been empirically tested to break after one use. But one use is all he will need."

"Neon is a speed form."

"Wait, you aren't suggesting MAKING keys are you?"

"Oh no, not me. Juryrig's already done that," Marie replied. "This is why we need him on our side."

"If you even so much as TOUCH the materials inside, the effects could be catastrophic."

"Again, Juryrig's already been there and done that." Marie replied, again. "But he's weird, and I'd rather not do the same thing."

"Okay, marie, I'm assuming you've seen the blades that grow on my back during exiting the armor, right?"

"Yeah, I saw them shed all over the floor of the lab. I keep cleaning them up."

"That was the last thing in his updated sheet before he was terminated, I don't know what it said, but it was exploring this odd... Mutation."

"He." Marie pointed out. "Who? Make it quick, so we can talk about Juryrig's mad experiment."

"Romulus. He was testing these, and he found out every key has different mutation effects based on the user."

"And that's where I'm completely okay with you stealing his research because that's where it brings him to justice. Eventually." Marie confirmed. "Good to know. Anyways, Neon."

"Juryrig apparently managed to phase through walls with it, and zip away faster than I could reach for the textbook I kept right in front of me to throw at him, leaving a trail of afterglow. It's not particularly well armored but it's definitely something workable."

"And Beat. It's some...gaudily dressed suit. Some sort of anime action hero-looking armor that apparently is decently protective. But the ability allows him to play a melody which allows him to control other people's movements. We should be using this to initiate, as during that time Rhea can steal the keys off Romulus and then quickly transform."

"So uh, Do you mind If I give the driver a test?"

Marie looked outside. "Not until we're all here together. We need our workstation."

"Alright. I hope we will be ready the moment he comes for me. Nobody else is a target. I have to be the bait."

"That's fine. Cyclone moves fast. Zone moves faster." Marie told the man. "I want you to memorize as many locations in the area as possible. The plan will be for Rhea to steal Zone above all other priorities, then Voltage, then Steel, and then Trigger. He is likely not letting us steal Inferno."

"The biggest problem with that plan is that Zone powers his ship. He'd problably know if it was stolen."

"Then Steel over Zone," Marie replied. "We need a control key of some form. We'll also be trading keys quite a bit."

Snow Fort: By Juryrig

And so, the knights of this order stood in the snowdrift, in the opposite direction away from the ship, in an alchemized shelter of oddities that Juryrig had produced.

"...so, that's the situation we're in." Marie's notebook snapped shut, as she finished recounting Reman's information and how much of a bad spot they were in.

"Mmmmm..." The aforementioned alchemist had his hands together, touching his lips as if he were legitimately pondering over the gravity of the situation... Although realistically, he was thinking of Mac & Cheese the whole damn time. Very integral to his master plan, Mac & Cheese.

"So basically from you we need some quick parts for a driver. We're making a belt-based version because let's not restrict Rhea's arm movements too much."

".... I'd say we make it extra different," he countered.

"No, then repairs are harder because of the whole standardized parts issue."

"Nah nah, hear me out on this one:" Juryrig squats, and recreated the 'boi' gesture pointing at Marie. "I think it'll be best if we put it around her leg."

"Okay, that's just stupid." Marie replied.

"Nah, there's a good reason: the thigh is smaller than your own torso, which is much easier to hit with a gun. Couple with it moving around so much with her sage abilities, small size, and natural dexterity from her urchin upbringing, then she becomes too difficult for Romulus to target that valuable bit of gear. She'll be getting pretty damn close to him, and I don't want to risk her losing her Driver before she can use it. Personal experience, the best surprises come from really stupid ideas being executed on-point."

"But the legs are always where you try to target since they tend to move slower than the upper body. Your thoughts?" Marie asked Rhea.

"Euugh arms..." Was the first thing somone said as she shook her still sore arms from climbing down the hole, and across a ceiling... back acriss the ceiling, and up a hole again. "Sorry, what? I was uh, preoccupied?" She shook her head and, vaugely recalled the conversation that took place in the time it took to get over the fact that her arms huurrt.

"Uhh... I kind of hit people with my arms AND legs... wait why are we making a weird outfit for me to wear again?"

“We’re figuring out where we should put the driver on your body. As it stands, this might be a little heavy on your arms.” With that, Marie put her driver on the table.

“We’re debating making one go on your torso or legs. Whichever you think will be better.”

"uhh... torso?" Rhea could already see anything being on her arms or legs would just, slow her down. She still wasn't sure about putting on radioactive jewlry on anyway.

“So there’s your answer.” Marie told the alchemist.

"Pft, fine, torso," Juryrig conceeded.

"Is the process ready?" Reman asked, looking at his bracer intently.

“Yours is ready,” Marie noted. “Mine is as well. I’m not sure about Juryrig’s driver, and Rhea needs one. We also only have one key among the four of us, not including Juryrig’s keys, so Rhea getting on stealing another key or two from Romulus is something we need to do.”

"My driver has the basic features needed for using keys and translating them into armor, even an audio speaker system for my sweet beats and awesome dialogue! Though that's pretty much it. As for keys... I could make them. There's just one problem..."

“That they break after one use. I’m well aware, and we haven’t even tested your fusion level yet to see if you can actually use a proper key,” the engineer-scientist noted. “But that’s okay, because even if you can’t use anything but your own keys, you still have a use in building as much general stuff as possible. You don’t need to use a driver, you just need to help take down Romulus. And you’re going to have to out-crazy that guy.”

At this moment, the alchemist winced, like Marie stepped on a land mine just now. "I mean I was about to say ... Erm... I can't actually make them... All my phenomenal alchemical power is kinda sorta limited to what I actually break down and study, aaaaand... On top of this fusion technology using materials I have never even heard of until I looked at your homework, this also extends into areas of study I haven't even glossed over. I'll be honest with ya people, I might have to abandon my DJ Driver project because of that and that and that and that."

There was a silence for a moment. And then Marie's reply.

"Well, we'll have to reconsider a few plans here and there. No using the theoretical Beat key, then, as easy as it would make our lives. We might need someone like Miko on our side to shoot the keys off of him, though. Or you could create some sort of trap to steal his keys. And can you even use a driver? If you can't, we don't have to make a new one. Just hand your current one to Rhea and we'll call it."

"Hm... One moment." The madman took off his belt, and then whipped out a screwdriver. He proceeded to aggressively test and rip the belt to pieces, killing the speaker, popping the knobs, digging his tool for a good half a minute, until most of the decoration is stripped, making look barebones and unfinished.

"Here ya go! I rechristen this as 'Blank Drive!' All business, no flavor driver. It doesn't look like anything, literally can't do anything but use keys, if we find any, which I feel sums you up as a person." He gives it to Rhea.

"Uh? What?" Rhea took the thing but, held it at arms length, as if it might bite her. knowing juryrig it just might. She also felt like juryrig was making fun of her somewhere in all the nonsense he said. Miraculously, it don't bite. It just looked ugly.

"I'll be able to make a new one for myself, anyway. Maybe incorporate my constructs with Key Slots," Jury reasoned.

"We'll slap a new shell and controller on it later." Marie told Rhea. "Our plan is clear, somewhat. Right? Juryrig somehow gets Romulus held in place and while he's distracted Rhea needs to steal his keys. Then we turn his keys on him."

"I'm still... not 100% on why exactly we are doing this again... can't we just tell the captain that, he isn't very uh, friendly?"

"And then he'll just pull that gun on the rest of us, probably."

"Nothing says she can't, uh... cancel his contract? He can't pull the gun on us if he doesn't know? And there are... alot more people than just him on the ship yeah?"

"And he invited himself. I don't think we'd get much of a say."

"Now see, here's the thing: we COULD do that. That'd be reasonable. Except... He could just warp away." He snapped his fingers. "Badda bing badda boom, he be zippity zoom before we spell his doom. Nah, we gotta get crazy with this, appeal to his hubris."

“Besides, I’ve informed Osco that Romulus is quite unfriendly. I need to somehow get someone to alert Dahlia, though...let’s do some testing with Cyclone as I think about it.”

"who what?" Rhea looked back and forth between the lot "Um, if we're doing things liketesting and training..." Rhea realized that, most people already knew about her... strangeness, and didn't necceserily care. It might be the first time she could really test the limits of her own powers, really. Even as she thought that, she started looking for an at least somewhat secluded clearing, already putting thoughts of romulous, and all that nonsense out of mind, picturing what she thought she just might beable to do.

"Be aware that the armor is an incredible strain on your body. Higher fusion levels won't feel a thing, but lower ones may injure themselves trying to make it form. It feeds directly off of you." Reman inserted the Cyclone key into his driver, and went to the nearest open space he could. "Ready?"

"Hang on." Marie quickly went a bit away from Reman, piling up a small mountain of snow before running back. "Okay, aim at the pile. Well, it does say 'aim towards enemy' on it..."

"Gotcha." Reman pointed the arm with the gauntlet directly forward, before pulling the lever. A spray of particles exploded out the front of the barrel, eradicating the pile of snow before collecting themselves in a dome around Reman. A base black suit formed around him before the particles congealed into the bits of armor seen before. When they had fully formed up, they attached themselves to the suit all at once, lighting up the 'eyes' briefly before the armor released spare air from it's creases.

"And...all things seem normal." Marie noted.

"You expected it not to be?" Said the mad lad who finds control groups redundant. "

"Well, yeah. It's still in early trials," Marie replied. "It's at best an imitation of what Romulus made, and now that I know how Romulus made his drivers I'll be going back through and re-working them."

Rhea did a double take at the weird, cyclone thing that just happened with Reman. Well.... maybe she should put off messing with her own abilities untill this was over, at least. Probably where no one else could see at that. Practicing in front of people was emberassing anyway. "... I, feel like this is something i saw in a cartoon once... Seven Serious uh... something else starting with an S i think... Maybe it was just an S and all their names started with S... was that the thing?" Rhea's train of thought got increasingly off the rails as she thought about the show more than the armor's display that happened right infront of her.

Reman disengaged soon after, and ejected the key. In kind, he set up the target for marie to use, tossed her the key, and stepped back into the main group again. "Your turn, Let's see what you got." While walking over, his armor simply fizzled away, as if it was dust in the wind.

Marie only responded by clicking her bracer on and inserting the key. Process system ready. Cyclone: Standing by.

"Check," she stated, more as a formality than anything. Then she pulled the lever back.


The spun-blast of air blew the mount of snow into a small storm as particles of green ejected outwards, before they shaped into pieces of armor as Marie's body was surrounded in a light green glow. The armor then slammed and bolted on together, similar to Reman's Cyclone armor but not quite the same. Instead of the pieces of what looked like power armor, Marie had what appeared to be a stylized yet flexible breastplate, small wing motifs decorating outwards, a glowing green core in the middle. Instead of a black undersuit, hers was white. Instead of sparing knee-pads and small bracers, Marie's armor had taken a liberty and given her sleek arm-guards, armored gauntlets, and almost large, stylized boots with large shinguards. And instead of a helmet of any sort, Marie seemed to be wearing some sort of digital visor as well as a sort of helmet that covered an angle from her forehead to the top of her head, a circumaural metal band wrapping around the back in the likeness of what seemed like headphones.

The logo was also different. Instead of a belt with the Institute's logo, on her back was her symbol. Phi. As the core pulsed, streams of green flowed through the armor and down her arms and legs, the visor projecting a HUD of information. Complete, the cool, male voice resonanted from her driver.

"...different," Marie commented, looking at her appearance, almost as if she was trying on some clothes at a store and the driver was just the tailor recommending her something. Different, yet...she liked it. Not too gaudy, not too ugly, just enough functionality with enough style leaking through that it looked...good. It had barely settled in that she was wearing a weapon of war. The last time she put on the armor, it was for a few seconds at best, and she didn't have any time to observe it. Now, she had time to move around and stretch. And she did have to comment, it was very comfortable inside.

"Different, but I like it," she stated.

"Strange, isn't it? It's never as comfortable as you imagine, it's like it's more tailor made for the body." Reman looked around at the surrounding area to check for anything else to test on. "Have you tried a break yet? It's a bit of a rush, but just be careful of overuse. That's what gives me those little blades in the back of my body." Reman set up another target in front of marie, with a few extra piles of fluff in the back for the wind to catch onto. "Be aware it's gonna launch you forward, so, get good footing first."

“Not really...the suit’s really quite comfortable. More comfortable than what I was wearing, actually...” Marie commented as she got her feet down solidly on the ground before slamming her palm against the front button of the driver.

Cyclone Effect, the driver commented as the internal systems crunched down on the key, causing it to release its gel that propagated through the system. The gel pulsed through the suit, the core glowing brighter as Marie was thrown forward, the procedure happening in milliseconds, the scientist letting out a loud, undignified yelp.

"you know, I feel like you are going to make me lose my own sense of common sense if you keep doing crazy things like this right infront of me." Rhea took a seat right there in the snow, a a feat only possible becuase of the full body winter gear made for her. She simply shook her head. She could see it now. "I really feel like fights between different driver, or key users, are going to look like something straight out of a cartoon... You sure that you need or uh, want me to try and sneak into romo-whoever's personal space and steel something from him?"

"Yep! Gotta swipe it from him, Swipper style! We're still keeping that part of the plan," Juryrig clarified as he now started drawing a alchemical program on his blueprint.

Mid-flight, Marie managed to somersault over, one foot sticking out to catch the landing. On ground contact, she pushed the button again.

Cyclone Effect.

The button press vaulted her into the air, where she experienced a temporary moment of weightlessness as she saw the world around her from the land where normally only birds got to see. It lasted for only a second before she began to plummet, head-first, until she pushed the button a third time. Cyclone Effect, the male voice stated again, maybe sounding ever so slightly tired. Whatever it was, it slowed her descent, to where she lightly landed on the ground with her foot first.

“Perfect landing,” she commented.

"I'm surprised you got the hang of it this fast! The first time I tried it I crashed right into the leaves of a tree above me." Reman commented. Clearly curious to see more, Reman asked marie to try something else. "What about the detection feature? Have you tried doing the air trick yet?"

Air trick? Detection? Right, those existed. So, if she was right...should be quite similar to using her Sage powers. There, she could see it now. The wind blowing, stirring up the snow. Just like how she could see electricity flowing. And if she was right...Cyclone Effect.

The wind changed direction, forming a small tornado that blew a crater into the snow, a little bit away. “Yeah, it seems pretty similar to what I’m, err...used to.”

With a quick disengaging of the key, Marie’s armor disappeared in a flash and light green cloud of vapor, leaving her in her regular clothes. She tossed the key to Rhea.

Unprepared, Rhea did not react untill the key was practically right infront of her face already about to smack into it. But with her quick reflexes, and a little bit of panicked fevor, she quickly deflected the projectile upwards, and engaged in a harrowing juggling act in which she tried to catch the item without it falling onto the ground, eventually throwing herself to the side and throughly landing in a snow drift- only for the key to fall into the snow just next to her hand anyway. "Eaauugh why do people throw things...." She said after lifting her mask covered face out of the snow, and shaking her head vigerously.

Then she looked more closely at the item she was handed after picking it up. "ahhh I... don't know about this, I haven't even really had the chance to, you know, get down with the stuff I can already do, you think adding more onto that is a good idea?"

Reman unlatched the driver from his wrist, and walked over to Rhea. "Just give it one try for us, alright? I promise you, you'll be fine. " He handed her the brace and walked back over to set up the target again. "Just like we did.'

Rhea could only sigh as she slipped on the brace the same way she say Reman had it on as she stood up in the snow, retreived the key, brushed herself off, and finally put the thing in, well, the other thing. For a tense moment, nothing happened at first, but there was a blinding flash of bright, multicolored rainbows, followed by a rather obnoxious bagpipe noise, as if announcing her arrival.

Though the actual proces of how the transformation looked in its transitional phase remained a mystery, the end product was revealed. She had a good portion of what was probably supposed to be armor for her whole body located primarily on her forearms and as shin guards. She lacked anything resembling a proper helmet, or anything that could have been passed off as reasonable protective gear on the rest of her body- it was for the most part, a simple, single color, high quality cloth that connected the few metalic doodads, such as the belt, to the shinguards, and the arm guards. She was infact, left feeling less protected than she was with the winter gear she had been wearing. Though, it was a bit easier to move around in.

As she moved around observing herself, each slight movement showed off new and exciting colors from that same, originally simple seeming cloth. Each different angle gave the whole suit a new look and colorscheme. "... huh. Why do I feel like i'm wearing less now that i've uh, put something on?"

"Especially because you are wearing the one themed after wind, it's super light. Try doing something simple for now, like jumping." Besides tryuing to be supportive, reman was... Confused. Despite the armor type on her, it wasn't just a single color. It was multifaceted, showing a spectrum of colors , shifting constantly, with only highlights of the key's form on it. Not to mention it was even less prominent than marie's armor. It didn't really matter though, since no matter what it'd still work the same. "Plus, give that lever a try back there. It basically sends a surge of energy through the bracer and it'll launch you forward."

"Actually, for that you'll have to move around and attack some stuff for a bit." Marie replied. "I noticed that when moving around and fighting, the key tended to emit more gel that was normally dissipated by the driver. So instead of dissipating it I channeled it into a storage reservoir that when you pull on the little lever hidden in the back, shoots all of it through the systems and temporarily sends everything into overdrive."

"Uhh..." Rhea chose to blot out the, somewhat contradictory advice, and started testing her hops in place firstly. "You know I, am usually jumping off of or onto things this probably isn't a good place for that? Might bump into something and cause an avalanche... if the uh, theme song didn't already."

"Then just mash the break ability a few times. That should do it," Marie commented.

"Yeah yeah, what she said," said the alchemist in passing, already doing his weird and flamboyant alchemical ritual in the background. He seriously questioned why they're giving this random kid the 'Chosen One' treatment, although... Yeah, kinda focused on himself, not really Rhea's progression into "warrior" kid. "If it don't work the first time, try it again and again; it's like rolling the same dice and expecting a different result!"

Rhea glanced over at juryrig, at first, concerned that he was acting... too sensible. Then she realized he basically endorsed the definition of insanity to her, and felt much better. With all that out of the way, she pulled the strange lever- still one hundred percent unclear of what was actually, supposed to happen the moment she pulled it. A blast of air out of her hands like she saw the other one do? A foothold to jump off of suddenly appearing mid air? Rocket boosters? Please, not rocket boosters.

An alarm sounded from her driver as the lever was pulled. Maximum Drive!

From her shoulders, two large objects shaped like triangular prisms unfolded and placed themselves on her back, both slightly at an angle. A whine started up, the vibration caused by the force of the...unfortunate rocket boosters starting up not exactly unpleasant, but not the worst either. A warning flashed from the driver.

Warning: Gel-Capacitor is only at 30% of its minimum capacity required to initiate boost cycle. (debug) Supplementing by overtapping key.

Despite the warning, it still shot Rhea far up into the air quite reliably. There was some control to the flight, as the suit seemed to stabilize itself out as the boosters rotated to compensate for where Rhea wanted to go, but it was fast. There also wasn't much wind blowing in her face, as a compressed layer of air formed in the path of Rhea's flight, as a battering ram of sorts.

Rhea kicked her legs about as the rocket boosters kicked in for a moment before tucking her feet in in a panick., flying up into the air like a rainbow stunt clown. "uuOOWAAGH" She yelped out as she flew... semi uncontrolabely.While she DID dream of flying a few times.... actually doing it was somewhat terrifying, and she did her best to ride out the storm, so to speak, ending up doing a loop in the air in an attempt to kill her momentum.

The suit began to compensate, slowing down the loop as she found herself coming to a hover, the thick bubble of air providing a nice shield against the outside.

"That's...a little more powerful than I guessed," Marie noted as the little girl sailed through the sky.

Rhea took a few breathes as she srtabalized, doing her best to go back and hover at a very safe distance from the ground, as she knew that it would end in no time at all. "Why didn't you tell me it was a rocket booster mode!" Rhea, while excited to 'fly' for the first time, was not very happy with how much of a suprise the flight itself was, or how... hard to control it felt.

"Look, I can guess numbers from the formulas I reverse-engineered but I don't know what the numbers actually mean!" Marie shouted back.

"Relax! Just look where you're going, and slow down. That's how I learned how to stop crashing."

"Or take it from me! Adapt to the very worst and build character! How else did you think I got out of a quarentine zone?" Juryrig, as always, gives solid advice that definitely helps.

"None of this is helpful!" Rhea shouted again over the dull roar of the wind rushign around her, despite how relitively little she was actually moving. "Turn it off how do i..." As she started wondering that she began fiddling with the lever again, hoping that would turn off the uneccesery rocket booster mode.

"You're probably supposed to ram something!" Marie shouted up at Rhea.

"Why Would I...??!!" Rhea gritted her teeth and picked a convenient looking snow bank to slam into. At the very least, if this went poorly she'd... probably, only end up covered in snow again.

FWOOM! went the snow, piling a giant drift into the air in front of her as the shield of air vaulted forward when she touched the snow bank, blasting a long crater in the snow with Rhea at the start of it. As soon as Rhea hit the snow, however, the suit automatically righted her up so she wouldn't have her face dragged along the ground.

“Not a bad way to make sure whoever you hit really has a bad day,” Marie noted. “Thanks for being my beta tester.”

"... Being a beta tester, doesn't seem very safe." Rhea said as she stared at the desctruction wrought by the thing they gave to her, a child. All around her, the snow still whirled from the impact, making it look like a snowstorm started all over again with her at the the epicenter of one end of the wall of snowstorm. "Uh, there was also a warning? i wasn't paying attention but it sounded important, at the time." Rhea quickly checked the suit to see if it would do somethign like, forcefully disengage... before searching for the way to turn it off herself, eventually fiddling with the key at the arm.

"Yeah, that probably didn't have the full charge..." Marie looked at her notebook, trying to guess the biggest issue with the system. "Which means you probably could have been flying maybe around...ten percent faster? And have a little more force on impact? Really didn't matter, the system should've been trying to compensate as hard as it could."

The key popped out when Rhea pulled down on the plate that slid up to close the driver. Deactivated, the driver stated as Rhea flashed in a burst of iridescent light, back in her regular clothes after a few seconds once the key popped out.

Once freed from the heavy burden that was the key and driver combined into one, Rhea quickly brushed the snow off of her winter suit that had appeared once more, only to realize it hasd reformed ontop of the snow that had landed on her during the excitement. Rhea did not say anything about this, only grumped a bit, and hopped up, shaking herself loose, refreshing herself. It was time she abscond before they peer pressured any more weird experimental technology on her again anyway!

Over the course of this whole experiment, Juryrig recreated the DJ Driver... As a stereo-themed blunderbuss, with it's neon lights, record players, its massive speaker, and whatever Driver-based tech he forgot to add last time. So right now, with the gun slung over his shoulder, Juryrig could only ask, "So uh, how'd that work out?"

“Perfect,” Marie replied. “All systems functional across versions, the Necker-Rubin Generation differential seems to have checked out. Seeing as how the worst thing that happened was not enough charge caused by user error I’d say the jerry-rigged Verwandeln algorithm worked.”

"How's the gun work, by the way?" Marie asked. "Romulus has a weapon-based driver as well, and the only reason why my version has a gun barrel is because I didn't want to indiscriminately vent out of the converter."

"Why, true to its name, the BlunderBass is a music weapon as well as a weapon-based driver! Fires air that goes through a transmutive amplifier, tuning rods modify the vibration of the air within the funnel, and you get the foundation for a kareoke cannon that fires music the size of cannonballs! Makes a lot of noise, but so did the first version, heh heh!" Jury whipped out the BlunderBass, showing it to Marie. "It's got all the bells and whistles that drivers do, even the additional bonus of its projectiles being modified depending on the Key being used, like Romulus's little water pistol... Only better in every single way," the biased man elaborated.

“I mean like a blueprint of that converter with the projectile enhancement,” Marie flatly stated. “I’m not spending a week reverse-engineering again. Also I need some more advanced training. All I have is Sage self-defense, and that’s more of a doctrine of thought than actual self-defense.”

"... Oh uh... Yeah. That." Juryrig scratched his chin, looking sheepish and... Mellow? "Didn't think anybody would be interested, let alone you. But now that you did bring it up, I'll get to work on making another blueprint for you to reference when we head back."

At this point, watching all of the people that properly took interest in his condition, Reman felt completely safe. It was like there were three people who would charge headlong into battle for eachother, ready to protect him at a moment's notice. It felt comfortable. "[color=CB4335]Hey Rhea, could you hand me back the driver?

"Ah uhh yeah sure." She quickly tossed the driver over to reman. Or, more precisely away from her. "Well! I uh, hope we don't really have to fight this... 'freind' of yours... But uh..." Well, if anything, she knew that she couldn't very well let what was... almost aproachign a strange, disfunctional family for her get wasted by crazy uncle tom and his... weird sci-fi gun. "Well, i'm sure we'll be fine, yeah."

Having said that, looking over at juryrig and his... relitive lack of insanity as per his usual antics, from what little she knew of him so far this seemed weird. She hoped this wasn't like the calm before the storm.

"Assume the worst. He might know that we know, and if that's the case I'm wholly underprepared with my fighting skills. So..." Marie looked around, and then went for a quick sucker punch against Rhea.

Rhea watched as marie reared up for the punch. She watched as she let it rip. And she watched... as it hit her. Well, it was more of a glancing blow, as she seemed to realize marie was actually attacking her untill only the last, possible second. That last possible second being when the fist was actually making contact of course, requiring her to forcefully jump away and twist her body in order to avoid serious damage. "Gah! I, didn't even think that punch was serious untill it was like, almost on my face!" ... was she making fun of Marie? That said, for having waited (even if it was just becuase she thought the punch was a joke) untill th elast second, she very nearly avoided it entirely.

Of course, it was either that or her ability to actually react to danger... or to anything on short notice was very low, despite her sudden burst of speed. "Why would you just... Ow." Although she did her best to avoid the force of the blow, it still hurt. She wasn't sure how successful she had been though. "... Well you, definetly won't beable to hit me a second time, not when i'm ready."

The area where Rhea was struck tingled with numbness as Marie’s fist let out a small crackle. “Are you sure? That was the same effect as a glancing stun baton.” Marie asked.

Rhea harumphed, before taking a step to the left and turning around... at the same time, marie could feel the ground beneath her feet twirling her around in a sickening spin. "Who just, stun batons a minor!" While her shoulder... and part of her face was numb, her legs were most certainly not, and boy was she not happy about a suprise sparring session with super powers.

As a follow up to that nuasiating, impromptu, one girl carnival ride marie received, rhea stuck her leg out and bowed away from marie almost looking like a curtsy, and the shifting ground beneath marie's feat shot to the side. "... I had, alot of practice with... 'tricky' uses of this, not so much the big flashy, obvious stuff though..." In her time in the town, she didn't exactly want people to know and have obvious proof that she did anything, so the times she did use her powers, she was always practicing extremely... minute control. It wasn't that she couldn't do a big, flashy explosion of crystals all over the groudn but rather, she couldn't control how much volume there would be, how strong it would hit, and where it would hit nearly as well as she could do the sublte, fine things. The 'cheap tricks' came to her much more naturally than the overwhelming power aspects did.

Marie was thrown aside, landing in the snowdrift with a soft 'oof' sound. She got up and brushed herself off after about a minute of waiting for her head to stop spinning, no longer taking any aggressive stances.

"Well, you're probably also the most capable person here to teach...any of us how to properly fight. I'm pretty sure the two of us only know street fighting of any form."

"I'll pass, kiddo! This nerd already knows a thing or two about fighting dirty, just not these chumps." Juryrig is back to being a insulting ass again, his tone carrying snide and snark. "Then again, something tells me you'd rather not help any of us..." Hook, line, and now lets see if she'll take the bait...

"I don't like you." She stated very flatly to Juryrig. Then she looked to Marie. "I don't think I really like you either." Then to Reman. She squinted a bit, but... "... I'm, not sure about you either, but at least you haven't tried to punch me yet." She'd had enough of people trying to suprise punch her already, even before this... trip.

She thought for a moment, and noted that, Romulous was scary like juryrig but in more... violent ways. And probably a jerk like Marie. And probably irresponsible like Reman too. She was pretty sure she didn't like him either. Even then, she might have left him alone and left on her merry way if not for- She shook her head, freeing herself from her own thoughts. No, she didn't like them much, nor want to help them. Especially becuase she still felt like she needed help learning how to move properly herself. She always felt like she wasn't... using her powers right, and the way she had to learn to fight only seemed to make it worse.

"... I, might help, if its the only way to shoo Romulus away. But I still feel like there is an easier way to do this other than having me" She pointed to herself, an orphan, and a thief, from the coldest, most worthless mafia ridden mining colony you could find. "teach you" She pointed to them- a pair of scientists and... Reman, whatever he was. "how to fight."

"EeeeexACTLY what I was thinking! Seems sort of... I don't know, backwards to ask a urchin to us how to fight, ain't it? Our goal is to steal his keys, and his keys can do crazy shit, and he is at a ... 'Fusion level' high enough to just go through them quickly. Some, like Inferno, are pretty much good enough to render any amateur fighting style as good as boxing with your eyes closed, things like Zone can control the positioning of himself, us, and any attacks we throw at him, AND Steel is obviously beef incarnate. So... Exactly why are we thinking that you and Reman learning the absolute basics of combat would somehow give us a fighting edge?"

"Because we need to steal those keys," Marie replied. "We have no weapon against him unless we get those keys. Once we do, we need to know a little something about fighting."

"Well alright, but from a girl we don't even know? You're not being smart, you are being desperate!"

"Not wrong," Marie acknowledged.

Rhea didn't even stick around for half of juryrig's speach of why she sucked. She was already walking off. Towards where she was pretty sure were more sensible crewmates. She could not handle this at this moment in time, nor did she want to think about it... unless it involved entangling even more poor souls in this web of thinly veiled insanity.

"W-Wait! I-" Reman didn't really know what to do at this point. "I still would like your help... I know I kind of just handed you something dangerous, but I don't really want you to get hurt if worst comes to worst! It's saved me a bunch of times, and eventually I'll still hand it to you if your life was in danger..." He was trying his best to remedy the situation, but to tell the truth he didn't really know what to do at this point.

"Oh don't worry I don't want romulous killing my newfound friends either... So if nothing else works out, I'll... probably be here to help anyway. With or without your uh, deathtrap machines." But she still kept walking. "Look I'll... Be back uh, soon...ish. Maybe." She afterall, at the very least, had to rejoin her new best friend as they made their way back to the ship. They certainly weren't going to sit out here for the next five horus and wait for them to leave, afterall... right?

"Don't leave yet!" Marie shouted. "We need an excuse as to why we spent so long out here...let's scout the area to see if there's any security flaws in the Union's guards."

"Right right, whatever," the alchemist sassed back, going to do that.
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