[Mid-Episode 2] Trial by Combat


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Romulus was wandering around the cabins of the AV, pacing pensively. His usual smug demeanor replaced for one of concern and anger. He had been found out already, and there was no way in hell the crew would trust him at this point, so it was only going to get tougher from here. They even had his precious research, leaving out the most important bits, so they couldn’t even understand WHY he came in the first place, not to mention that someone completely out of left field has his research and is using it to create what he assumed to be an instrument of war…

The hulking automaton, A3, appeared in the entrance of the ship. He dared no to enter fully, as it would be somewhat rude, so he instead deliberated “Positive salutation, individual defined as Romulus, additionally defined as the captain of the current spatial transportation vehicle. My Unit is producing a request to deliver my Unit’s chassis into your spatial transportation vehicle, if your individual delivers permission.” He continued to leave his carcass parked in the presumed doorway, awaiting the eventual answer.

The biker was almost startled out of thought. He turned around to see who had interrupted his train of thought, even though he could tell just by the speech alone. “Ah! A3, you are just in time, go ahead and come in, we have a few things I need to check out on your frame.

]“Positive affirmation, individual defined as captain” he said as he sort of, slither-walked in.

Romulus walked over, and gestured to a more open space inside the cabin, almost a bit much for the small ship. “Question for you, What really is your purpose?” he asked, looking at the gigantic arm cannon on the machine in front of him. “It’s definitely not companion-droid, or construction… What is it?

He stopped, halting the noise of mechanical parts grating against the floor of the ship, the only sound left emanating from him being the shrill whirring of outdated processors and the gasping of exhaust valves. After a period that seemed to drag on for far too long, he spoke. ”Data on native basis presently lacking availability, files have obtained digital harm due to unharmonious climate, additionally due to senility.”

He looked down, directly at the man who stood before him. ”Such damage is defined as irretrievable, unless your individual wills to attempt recursively within a period of time defined as an hour.”

Actually, I wanted to test something not among your software base. How good can you recognize your combat protocol?” Romulus asked, moving to the center of the broad room, posting himself clear in the back.

”Such data has maintained preservation. Hardware-bound instructions are dictated to have data recovery maintained at a priority defined as “high”. Does your individual will to attempt hostile conflict?”

Right on the nose, A3. Step into the circle, I have something to show you that may at least get you familiar with how you operate mechanically, and what part of your purpose is.” Romulus Gestured to the other ‘corner’ of the space for A3 to walk unto, before walking to a nearby console, his steps now in his mind more deliberate and cautious than regular. “So, Have you ever given thought about what is inside of your torso at this present moment?

A3 approached the apparent “corner”, entering it with the same caution as his creator. ”Data relating to Unregistered Driver #11204620189B lacks availability or lacks an ability to maintain existence.” He said as he looked towards Romulus, giving off an air of sarcasm that really shouldn’t exist.

A relic, covered in the casing of a fool’s design. A symbol of it’s creator’s naivete in his work, that he could do no wrong. That it was all for science. That right there...” Romulus opened up the terminal, pressed a few keys and stepped away, a large area of thick, transparent blue walls surrounded the two as he stepped back to his original position. “Is my handiwork.

Romulus clapped his hands together in preparation. “The rules of this duel are simple, The programs on the ship will judge your capability. Whomever is scored higher by the ship will ‘win’ this duel.” Romulus took out the veteran, and inserted the red key into the back end, pointing the barrel up. “I want to see what kind of capability your systems have.

The ship started a countdown from thirty seconds.

Start on go. Do not hold back, the protective layer around the box here is more than enough to protect any of the valuables inside of the ship.

A3 raised his right arm to his chest, one of the many capsules encircling the wrist popped open, ejecting something into the air. A small key, decorated with glowing, almost fluid-like highlights, of a gentle light blue colour, as well as a handle composed of multiple circles overlapping one another. Out of the grooves running up and down his chest ejected a pair of small arms, gripping the small trinket like a squirrel grasping frantically at a berry, before they readied the key with one swift motion.

The counter on the timer reached twenty seconds as silence raged on between the two. Romulus only said one thing.


As if confirming the action, the weapon responded, filling it’s tubes and mechanics with fluid, ejecting the excess in the form of a gaseous mist, letting out a nasty hiss. A ring of fire surrounded him, marking an effective foot around Romulus, before he tossed the gun in the air.

Ten Seconds.

The gun came down, but got caught on what looked to be nothing, right at Romulus’s hip. A second later, a great eruption of flame surrounded Romulus as the ring began to move upwards, suspended on absolutely nothing. The flame had covered every inch of his body, and left nothing but smoke afterwards. Soon after the ring of flame passed the top of where Romulus was, it disappeared, leaving only smoke, concealing romulus fully in it’s dark black haze.

A3 continued in suit, saying nothing as the two miniature arms proceeded to insert the key with a loud click.


The lights on his body, from within his eye and the various bezels decorating his plating, began to blaze with a pale blue light. The various plating almost seemed to contract and lock up, as if containing a furious inferno within. Until he turned the key, that is.


The word ringed out, seemingly said from vibrations within the metal itself, the air beginning to dance with an erratic static that only hurricanes could dream of having. But none of that distracted from what was happening to A3 himself. His plating popped out, the very same pale blue leaking out from within the confines of his metal chassis, ejecting burning hot steam that only caused the air around him to crackle and spark.


The same voice, ringing out from not only his body, but almost whispered from the electrifying atmosphere, stated in a hushed shout. The escaping steam ignited into a glorious blaze of plasma, into a stunning liquid that jumped back onto the machine’s body, but not before his armour closed itself shut. The quivering, magnetized liquid rushed over before burning a pattern onto him, of sharp lines and shapes like atomic links.

His form hadn’t changed very much, besides the new pattern burned on his body, but the real difference was on his left arm. What was previously a kind of industrial pincer claw, had changed into a multi-barrelled cannon, each barrel decorated with warning stripes and exhaust holes.

Three Seconds.

All that emerged from the smoke at first were a pattern of sigils that made their appearance as ‘wings’ of some sort, before a sharp blade cut forwards through the smoke, wisping off the ends of the blade as the full form armor was revealed. It was similar in shape to Reman’s armor, with a few notable differences.

The helmet itself was a more flat design, having the eyes stick out from the sides, and a big golden faceplate between them to keep them together. Torso-wise, the chestplate was a bit sharper on the outside, curving up in a way similar to his eyes. As the smoke faded, he used his sword to taunt his opponent, in a gesture beckoning for A3 to make the first move.

One second.

Romulus stepped down, as to prepare.

The timer hit zero, before switching to a new one, this time indicating ten minutes. The ship itself let out a blaring alarm, and turned the lighting dimmer.

A3’s eye flashed, servos whirring loudly as he immediately raised his arm, and subsequently his cannon, before firing a bright and large blast of superheated and supercharged air towards his target. Your individual’s most desirable outcome would be avoidance of my Unit’s attacks.”

Avoid?” Romulus simply pointed his blade to deflect the attack, splitting it in two when it eventually collided. The plasma had apparently lit the blade alight, as it was now emitting white-hot flame from the metal. Romulus started briskly walking towards his target, the bottoms of his shoes clacking across the floor every time he took a step. “I’m not sure that you know how this suit works.

He whirred and buzzed, until he spoke, Your individual has apparent lack understanding of my Unit’s driver activation media.

Plasma. Batch 2. Number 29. I created that key as well.

His eye flashed once more, as he flicked his free hand. The plasma on the blade began to spark and crackle until it violently exploded, sending particles of the violent liquid every which way, arcs of static electricity filling the area as it sparked up the dry air.

Repeat statement, lacking understanding of MY UNIT’S driver activation media.” he repeated, as he once again fired another blast.

Romulus was almost in melee range of A3, simply slipping to the side, and running the heat across his blade. A small little projectile caught on the end of it before being completely amalgamated into the blade itself. “Elaborate. I’m curious.

A3 gazed towards him, before uttering one phrase:
“Hammering System defined as activated.”
Before he brought down the entire weight of his arm at his opponent, creating another burst of plasma and electrical static where he struck. As it seemed, the gun retracted, with the plates extending into more of a club or hammer. But whatever it is, it’d be deadly to the common man.

But to Romulus, he had already dealt with something far scarier than just a simple hammer. He simply went with the movement of the ground, using the limited space above him to his advantage as he kicked off the ceiling, prepping his blade to drop down on his opponent. “Is it the whole of your form? Or is it isolated?

He looked up at the ceiling, letting out another burst of steam as his arm collapsed back into its previous cannon form. ”My Unit’s driver mechanism has insufficient capacity for aggregate chassis conversion. Negative regard amount, the hardware lacks repercussions from the current limitation.”

The repercussions are the same, I don't see the need to armor anything that isn't organic.” Romulus took a heavy, dragging swipe at A3 as he flew through the air, the flame on his blade seemingly unaffected by his harsh, quickened movement.

The blade grazed across A3’s chassis, sparking as it slid past. Not only had the plasma that enveloped A3 protected him from the weapon, but began to invade upon the sword as a strand firmly attached itself to the edge.

Observing this invading force, Romulus instead of panicking, just throws the blade to the side, watching it fizzle into dust, before putting his hand a few feet over the gun. A handle materialized in his hands, on which he pulled out a complete clone of the blade, down to the hilt. “I’d assume the details are the same though. Full body protection, minus the internals?

As the blade dissolved, the plasma covering sparked and imploded, just like the others. A3 finally got around to turning around, staring down his opponent. ”The observation possesses potential. Your individual may request further immediate investigation.” He said as he took aim once more.

Of course, I built most of your hardware. Most of your original model is intact, but I’m curious as to how the mechanics of it work. Do you have any access to blueprints?” Romulus took another opportunity to alight his blade, although instead of using the plasma, he just dragged his hand over the blade, his touch enough to spawn flame, before taking a moment to try and sweep the many legs of A3, the blade spreading fire beneath it.

”Negative response, such data lacks existential properties on my Unit’s hardware.” The moment the blade touched, two of the legs immediately attempted to grab hold, before he immediately launched another projectile at Romulus. He immediately backpedaled after firing, in an attempt to pull Romulus into the plasma.

Romulus, a bit caught off guard, sprang off his sword, the projectile grazing the front of his mask as he steps back, recoiling from the projectile. The heat didn’t so much bother him as the steel did, his best idea would be to avoid the more metallic projectiles. As the blade fizzled again, Romulus drew something from beneath his own armor; Another key to put into his driver. Voltage.

”Usage of secondary driver activator, action of interest.” He said, as he began to open fire once more, firing a barrage of metal projectiles and plasma. Accurate aim wasn’t needed, he decided, as the sheer amount of projectiles would prove a challenge.

As Romulus inserted the new key into the driver, a ring of electricity sparked it’s way into existence, creating a barrier around him. As the transformation finished, the primary color of his suit changed. It now was a stark yellow, a contrast to the form before. He zipped out of the way of the broad spread of projectiles, using what kind of speed he had to charge up something on his suit. “All drivers I built usually have integrated key shifting, I would assume yours does too. Do you have another key?

”Negative response, my Unit’s inventory consists of the plasma generation driver activator.” He turned to face him once more, continuing to fire as he turned, projectiles and plasma crashing against the walls in the full 180 degrees of his turn.

Taking a moment to jump up, the speed of the suit whizzed him upwards, and while not entirely avoiding the shots, still evading a majority of them. The last shot A3 took hit romulus directly in the legs, sending him spiraling a bit in the air. He took a moment to get his bearings and land, summoning this time instead of a sword, a staff, built with a conductor at the end of it, as he stood at range from A3, and charged up the tip of the staff. “If I were to hand you a different key, could you use it?

His hardware whirred for some seconds, processing before answering, ”Positive affirmation, processing of driver activator requires temporal passage for calibration.” He noticed the charging, bracing up for the eventual oncoming attack.

The timer was down to about seven minutes, as Romulus turned his head to watch the timer as he was charging, letting out a crackling bolt of lightning when done, straight towards A3’s torso. “Would you be opposed to me giving you a few?

The chain of electricity crackled as it hit his chest, the plasma layering his armour absorbing and dispersing the electrical charge. ”My Unit has a lack of production of grievances.”

Fantastic!” Romulus said, dragging the staff across the floor as he walked toward A3. The staff was building up even more spare charge from movement, as Romulus spun his staff, using it’s momentum to gain energy to make a Melee strike against the machine. He broke into a sprint midway through to gain distance.

”Detected futile combat attempt.” He said, as he raised an arm to block the staff, the plasma once again diffusing the lightning from the staff, this time causing another plasma burst in self-defense. ”Your individual’s current inventory cannot cause my Unit physical damage, your individual requires improvement.”

But why would I want to damage you?” Romulus simply brought down the staff into the arm, discharging a huge amount of electricity into A3, taking the plasma burst in full. “You clearly are worth enough study for a lifetime, and a good potential ally for when the time comes for my mission to be complete.” He was sent flying back by the plasma, exchanging another key out for voltage. This time, it was his second blue key, Trigger.

”Your individual’s produced statement contains potential definition “truth”. Lacking regard, your individual lacks capability of inflicting damage upon my Unit.” He began to charge at Romulus, unfolding his arm cannon back into its hammer state, proceeding with a spinning strike at him.

Eventually, I’m going to have to ask you to assist me in something, How strong do you think you really are?” Romulus’s ring this time was a hail of bullets that fizzled right after it dissipated. His new, blue suit generated a third weapon, a larger assault rifle, he used to spray ammunition into A3. “If you would like to know why I ask, We might need to make sure we take care of a few intel leakage problems.

The bullets did collide with his armour, causing the plasma to spark and crackle, with the sound of metal hitting metal resonating through the room as he continued his forward assault, swinging at the blue target. ”My Unit has maintained maximum integrity despite your individual’s combat attempts, a logical conclusion of my Unit’s capabilities, an individual could vocalize.”

He pulled the veteran’s trigger to change the rifle. The ammunition’s caliber increased, but the fire rate was slower. While Romulus anticipated the attack, he continued on. “For the record, I’m pretty sure the mad scientist was listening in to your conversation banks on memory. If his bot blabs to him again, do me a favor.” Romulus stood his ground, waiting for an opportunity. “Scrap the little bastard.

A3 halted, but only for a moment, before swinging straight down. The hammer collided with the floor, causing the air to ignite with a brilliant blue light before filling with ribbons of violent sparks of electricity. ”Positive Affirmation”

Romulus took advantage of his extra movement, avoiding the shockwave by simply going back upwards, re-equipping the inferno key before pulling the exposed trigger of the veteran on his belt. The armor seemed to freeze in mid-air, before the rifle faded into his right fist. “I came here to hunt a man. Someone who is too dangerous to roam out in public.” Romulus landed gracefully before charging at full force, aiming to Stun A3 with a punch. “The mechanic. A man who ruined my career and will only bring ruin if he is kept alive.

The punch definitely did connect, although not the best idea: A3’s plasma layer was still in effect, and would continue to be in effect as long as his Plasma Key was in use. ”Futile. Futile combat attempt.” He immediately attempted to grab the man, with the intention of flinging him away. Probably, no, definitely at a wall. ”Singular defined status, futile.”

The outer layer of plasma mingled with the flame touch of the armor for a moment before A3 grabbed romulus. Just barely able to reach the trigger, he pulled it, channeling the energy into his feet to try and kick out of the hold. “I think you may stand a chance against his true form.” Romulus failed to escape, but he decided to use this opportunity to try something a little different than his usual tactic. Instead of conjuring a sword out in the open, he would try and conjure one inside of A3 as soon as he could.

A3 gave him no time to try anything, immediately hurling him at the wall directly across from them. ”My Unit will not permit your individual privilege of attack. Attempts maintain definition of futile.” As he said this, his weapon had returned to being a cannon, aimed and ready to release another blast of its element, which it proceeded to.

Three minutes left, Romulus sprang off the energy of the wall, conjuring a sword directly into the cannon arm of A3 as he flung towards him. He was stuck into A3 as He took another plasma blast at full force, point blank. “While neither of us can really damage each other, I’m sure HE can. Stronger concentrations of the element within the keys can deal even more permanent damage than even the Overseer can.” Romulus pulled the blade out, but no holes were present on A3 or damage on the sword, it was as if it passed right through.

”Positive Affirmation. Physical damage on both my Unit and your individual have maintained a minimum.” He stopped to think, an unwise decision for most, but he was confident in his own defense. ”My Unit’s attempts at utilization of activators defined as high-concentration is currently lacking existence.” He immediately attempted to punch Romulus, less so as an attack but more to remove his presence from his arm, although such an attack would still be deadly.

While Romulus was dislodged, this attack still did nothing to really affect the two of them in the fight. It seemed that they were at a stalemate.

The timer hit zero as romulus walked toward A3 not this time with hostility, but with camaraderie. He held out his hand for a handshake. He would still display a gesture of courtesy to his opponent, be they man or machine.

Well fought.

A3 stared at him, unsure if Romulus was being serious or out of his mind. But, nevertheless, he obliged, shaking his hand with most likely too much force (not like that’s under his control).

Romulus was lifted off of the floor a bit by the gigantic bot, but he probably could have cared less.

You will prove a formidable ally in the coming days. I will wait for an opportunity to kill the mechanic when everyone is incapacitated. If something goes wrong, you know what to do.” Romulus disengaged his armor, and let go of the firm yet brutal handshake. He watched the terminal clock up with various grids and graphs, A3 clearly coming out the winner in multiple categories, while Romulus took a hefty lead in others.

”Current test produced optimistic outcomes, positive affirmation.” A3 said, pleased, but not surprised, by the scores. Perhaps he had some memory after all, or maybe he predicted the results. The answer unknown to everyone but him.

A3 overall came out on top, his protocols clearly built for much harder and more intense combat than the former scientist had experience with. “ Maybe this gives me a little bit of hope that I have a margin of error now.” The walls of the arena dissipated, and Romulus walked to a more isolated part of his ship, and opened up a briefcase he had lying to the side.

As for the contents of it, It was full of a ton of keys, assorted kinds and varieties, all with their own potential powers and weaknesses. “Winner’s pick.

A3 looked a bit, before fixating on a black key lying among the rest. ”A product of fixation, defined as interesting.” He said as he immediately picked up the Data Key.

A good choice, but you can’t be so timid as to just grab one, go ahead and take one or two more. For the road ahead.

”Positive affirmation, my Unit has designated this activator for selection.” The robot said as he lifted up one more key, a single gray key. Sound.

Now if you would like, go ahead and get comfortable. You’ll need a few moments to deal with the Nightmare ahead.
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