The Taniguchi Estate is typical of western border knightly ‘fortresses’. There’s the manor, which serves as the administrative center of the holding and is – in all honesty – a big comfortable house. Even for a knightly family that isn’t particularly wealthy by noble standards, it far far outstrips anything that most others will see.
The other part is the bunker. A combination robot repair facility and fortress, it squats on Taniguchi lands, heavily guarded, heavily secured and the center of all military operations. Both have amenities and tech, but the bunker has better computers and since there’s data to be crunched, that’s the destination.
Factor Jericho Trent has been in one of the back rooms in communication with his own experts and facilities to speed things up, leaving the others to cool their heels largely, and Stella to wake back up after having been rendered unconscious by a data blurt from a big robotic cat.
After their walk and talk in the garden, Natsuki and Baldur made for the Bunker. As they enter, Natsu looks around and her eyes light on the Factor. “Well you’ve been busy, it seems.” There’s more people here than she expected. “Has Miss Bridger awoken yet? I was just speaking to Baldur about the data he received….” Well, Baldur can add to that, for sure.
“There’ll be refreshments along soon. I left word in the Kitchens that you and your people are to be cared for.”
“All a bunch of mishmash to me,” Baldur perhaps not-so-helpfully quips in addition to Natsuki’s words. He shrugs before folding his arms behind his head as they stroll into the bunker. Since Natsuki’s already asked about Stella, no point in repeating the question.
He opts to stay near his employer, trying very hard not to eye Jericho or throw any suspicious glances between him and Natsuki. So he looks around at all the computery things instead. First time he’s been in here, so at least it’s not difficult to get himself distracted by curiosity.
Stella honestly can’t remember the last time her head hurt this badly. Not even the concussion she suffered in THE racing accident didn’t rank anywhere close to this. Shortly after she finally wakes she walks a little unsteadily into the bunker, where the house staff told her she’d find the others.
“How long?” Her voice is the same typically quiet as usual, but any other questions she might have are left unasked as she looks around the room. She’s just as distracted as Baldur, but not out of curiosity. It’s honest lack of comprehension. She’s never seen systems like these before.
“Four hours.” Jericho says from the back. He’s taken his jacket off, revealing a military cut red shirt beneath, though it could double in the suits the corporate types seem to like wearing.
“This data is a lot more complex than I thought it would be. It’s taking a little bit to crunch but we’ve just about got it cracked. I’m not quite sure what to make of it though…”
Natsuki’s arrival gets a nod as he turns toward the others. “Thank you, Miss Taniguchi. I’m sure my CorSec appreciate that. We’re probably going to need them again. The good news is I now have a more or less exact location of the facility that is controlling these puma robots. That, unfortunately, is the only bit of good news I have for us.”
If Natsuki notes the looks that Baldur is casting between them, she ignores them, her eyes lighting on the Factor in his shirt sleeves. “I think it was a given it would be more complex, given it’s origins. I couldn’t find anything in our archives that might help either.” Beat. “Baldur, would you give Miss Bridger some water please? The jug is right over there.”
Indeed it is, on the table next to the bed she’s laying in. Along with a mug and all.
Making her way to stand next Jericho, Natsu sighs. “So, is there bad news? Or is the bad news that you can’t decode anymore than that and do you think Baldur’s data is similar?” Beat. “I take it you want to go visit soon?”
“Hoo. Heya Stella. You look like hell.” Way to greet a person, Baldur. He blinks and glances at Natsuki. “Huh? Oh- yeah, sure,” he says, turning to go and pour a mug for the transporter. He’s only half listening to what Jericho has to say as he sets the jug down and moves closer to Stella to offer her the water.
Accepting the water from Baldur, Stella half mutters into the mug, “Yeah, and you’re a real ray of sunshine there.” After taking a moment for the water to hopefully settle things, she looks toward Jericho with a bit more focus.
“What to make of what, Trent?” She kind of missed a bit toward the end there. Well, other than that stupid cat robot thinking her brain made a good raw data dumping ground.
“The data we just decoded.” Jericho explains to Stella. “The cat bots are coming from some kind of mobile support and repair structure which may possibly be of pre-rifts or extra-dimensional origin. It seems to be caught in an area of intense D-Shifting. It… might be stuck in some kind of inter-dimensional or extra-temporal space. I’m not sure I understand what the data is telling me but that’s how it knew who Lady Taniguchi and Baron Saltzpyre were. It can… see them. Somehow. Sense them. More than that, there’s profiles here on Baldur, Stella and myself. Stella is registered as a pilot. Me as a threat. And Baldur as a… er… maintenance unit.”
Natsu sighs again and rolls her eyes. “Well.” she says “I hadn’t expected that. I don’t know why…” The news that there’s a profile on Jericho gets a dark brow raising. “I wonder how it knows that. You have really interacted with it. Yet.”
“Don’t worry, Baldur. It can help sometimes, to be underestimated.” The part-elf casts the Cyborg a small smile. She knows that, plays on the fact a lot in her life. “I’m sure we can use that to advantage. Don’t you think, Mister Trent?”
Something about Baldur’s posture and the brightening of his optics suggest an exaggerated grin in response to Stella’s words. “It’s my eyes, isn’t it.” They flicker on and off as though he bats them.
Glancing back towards Jericho and Natsuki, he folds his arms, head tilting. “Wait, what? Why’m I stuck as maintenance?? Stupid cat.”
He tries not to sulk, and Natsuki’s suggestion helps a little, at least. “…soo….what do we do now?”
Registered as a pilot… Stella sighs. “That’s what the piece of scrap called me. A pilot.” She’d brandish the thing, but she’s not at all sure that the computers in this room would be safe from its annoying habit of trying to link to EVERYTHING. “I’m starting to think that it used to be part of some kind of machine like those cat robots.”
When Baldur asks what should be done next, Bridge can only nod. She’s kind of wondering the same thing herself. Though, she’s starting to suspect that what’s next is going to where that structure is. And that, she’s almost certain, is going to suck.
“It’s dangerous to go looking for it. We might get caught in another world and never come back. Even if we don’t there’s no telling what we’ll encounter. However, if we don’t go find it and somehow take control of it or shut it down we’ll keep seeing these bots and they may start getting aggressive. We don’t need that right now. Or… ever.”
Jericho glances at Natsuki for confirmation on that. These bots turning hostile would be difficult for the Holding and right now the Holding needs some quiet. “With Baldur and Stella both registered as belonging there, though, and with Miss Taniguchi not on its radar, we might be able to distract… whatever is there and slip you inside. Beyond that I’m not quite sure. I’ve got some things that might be command override codes but there’s no way to know for certain until we’re there.”
“We need to work this out, I agree.” Natsu says quietly from Jericho’s side. “I can’t afford to have them come looking for Lady Zelda and trying to … arrest? … her for being AWOL. And that’s before we consider that they might be truly hostile to us and try to gain control of our Puma. We’ve more than enough to keep us busy.” Jericho’s got the right of it and there’s others things that are taking Natsu’s attention. A little peace and quiet of one front would be nice.
“I hate to say it, but the Factor is right, the two of you will give us a good cover story.” There’s a slightly bemused look thrown at Jericho “I hardly think, Mister Trent, that the Puma bots will be taken in by my charms. Are you planning on using me as live bait?”
“Whoooa, wait. So we’re going to risk getting caught up in some other world or warp?” Baldur obviously doesn’t sound terribly thrilled at that possibility. He likes the idea of Natsuki being snuck in even less. Jericho’s plan isn’t exactly very reassuring, especially at the end.
Still, the cyborg’s not surprised that Natsuki’s in agreement with it. Then again, it hadn’t seemed like aborting the whole thing would be possible. Baldur sighs. “Great.”
“What if I have my scrap-AI register Nat as a co-pilot, or something like that?” Stella sounds not at all certain that that would make any kind of difference, but if it could be done, it might help. Maybe? “And, if there’s that much, um, turbulence around the place, how are the cat robots getting in and out without getting sucked away or shredded?”
Her eyes try to locate and study the deciphered information. Maybe it contains a map of sorts to safely navigate the rifts around the structure.
“That’ll be good if you can do it, Stella.” Jericho’s of the same opinion as Baldur. This is a bad plan, but it’s the only one he can think of so far.
“I’ll… I’ll bring my own bot. It’ll provide some safety on the journey and I can use it as a big old distraction when we get there. Just don’t take too long inside or I suspect those Puma’s will take me apart and use me for a litter box.”
“I’d rather not be registered in their systems…” Natsu says quietly. She’s a bad, bad feeling about this. Maybe it’s just a hang over from the darkness that still haunts her dreams or maybe its some of precognition from her Fae blood – not that she’s shown any abilities in that direction before. “… but if you think that’s the best way to do it…”
“We don’t know, Miss Bridger.” She answers the Transporters other question. “We’re going to have to look and see what we can find. The maps aren’t accurate anymore, the land keeps changing up there, thanks to the D-Shifting stone.”
Jericho’s hesitation has the look of concern flashing across her face again. The part-elf is normally so unreadable, that her concern shows means something. “I might rather stay with you, Mister Trent.” but she doubts that’s a wise play and just sighs. “How long before we go?”
“Hehehe, litter box, heh….” Baldur looks around, chuckling before trailing off awkwardly once he realizes no one else is laughing. Ahem.
“The cat thingy responded to Natsuki before, at least.” See how fast he’s taken to calling her by her first name now that he’s been given permission? “Couldn’t she just be identified as part of the Taniguchi House? Or does it need to be so specific?” he asks. He really doesn’t quite understand these things, but he figures it can’t hurt to ask anyway.
She didn’t want to do this, but now that she’s made the suggestion, Stella has to make good on it. Of course, when Nat says she doesn’t want to be registered in the system, it’s actually kind of a relief.
“No idea, Baldur.” Because really, she doesn’t have a clue. She’s just a driver. She sits down in the nearest chair, still feeling like the fourth day of a three-day weekend.
“With me in the bot will be the least safe place in the entire enterprise at that point and there won’t be anything you can do there anyway.” Jericho points out. He glances down as one of his devices beeps at his belt.
“Company call. I need to take this. We can plan more later. Get some rest in the mean time. We won’t be going anywhere for a little bit.”
“I don’t know, Mister Trent.” Natsu might be about to be stubborn. “Going into a facility that doesn’t recognise me and maybe between dimensions sounds dreadfully safe to me.” she shakes her head as she watches the Factor walk out. She’ll speak with him … later.
Baldur’s use of her name gets a smile and she nods. “I suppose it did at that. I’m going to try and catch up on some admin work and find out when we’re going to do this…” There’s still a lot of planning to be done. “Miss Bridger, please rest here for as long as you need.”
With that, the part-elf heads back towards to the manor. She’s things on her mind, again.
“Uh…we’d still be going into potentially crazy territory too,” Baldur reminds…anyone, since Jericho’s drifted off one way and Natsuki another. He stands there for a moment, glancing after them before he looks at Stella and shrugs. “Well, I guess we’ll just have to see how things go.”
Bridge watches the other two depart before looking at Baldur. “Sounds like it.” Which, she HATES. She has never been fond of driving by the seat of her pants, and that certainly isn’t about to change now.
“I think I need to lie down again.” She moves back to where she woke up and settles gingerly. “So what’s your story, Baldur?” Maybe he’ll be so distracted yammering that he wont’ notice if she falls asleep.
Jericho goes over his further findings regarding the data spill the robo-Puma delivered to Stella and Baldur. The location of origin looks a bit shifty...
August 24, 2410