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[Fanfiction] Children


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Well, that is cause enough for me to find a nice, deep hole to hide in.  Preferably lined with a few extra meters of carbon steel.  And a dozen overlapping proto-shield generators.  And a few turrets for good measure.


Wouldn't help.


Nearly 300 years of combat experience. Augmented WAY beyond the rank and file. Access to EVERY weapon in the Corpus arsenal and many others he shouldn't have access to. Access to the best armor and shielding available outside of warframes. Totally dedicated to the survival of the human race. Clergy and Corpus take second and third seat respectively.


If the BOARD thought they COULD kill him, they would have by now.  But they can't. All that shooting him does is **** him off. (Execute him? Sure. Kill him in combat? Not a chance.) As that Black Ops team found out. (Three Flux Rifles, point blank range. He lived) Other methods have been tried and he mostly just ignores them.


Oh and... FYI... There is only ONE 'Commander' in Corpus Special Forces. Him. (Think a Male Renegade Shepard in Mass Effect 2 and add in a touch of Zaeed Massani, That is about the right level of badass.)


What is worse? He is attaching. He... shouldn't. He knows this. But at his core, he is human still. The Reverend Mother is trying to 'save' him. He knows it won't work and doesn't want to cause any atrocities with anyone who doesn't deserve it.


(Edit) When Eliza found out about him, she FREAKED! There is a reason she appeared to him. A bad one. She would have done it in person, but no one allowed her to do anything but virtual. The ONLY real upside to him is that he IS still human at the base level. He does feel. He feels for his teammates. He feels for humanity. He wants humanity to survive.


He has limits. He has vulnerabilities. One was just almost kidnapped and yes, that has REALLY ****ed him off.

Edited by Kalenath
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oh those poor doomed sons of....... they have no idea what they have unleashed upon themselves do they? i mean not only are

They gonna have the corpus special ops commander after their hide They are also gonna have tenno after them if they learn just WHY mercedes j54 was targeted and then you have the board and clergy as well..... hell would be less painful for these fools than what currently awaits them...

Edited by evafan002
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oh those poor doomed sons of....... they have no idea what they have unleashed upon themselves do they? i mean they are gonna have the corpus special ops commander after their hide the are also gonna have tenno after them if they learn just WHY mercedes j54 was targeted and then you have the board and clergy as well..... hell would be less painful for these fools




No comment.

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Hugs for those scared silly by Kal's crazy characters? Check!


Hugs for those weeping in joy at another great chapter? Check!


Hugs for those crying as they have to wait for the next one? Check!


Hugs for the sake of us lunatics having some Huggles? What the hell, CHECK!


Hugs for ALL!


(Some of my daily lunacy quota fulfilled).

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Wouldn't help.


Nearly 300 years of combat experience. Augmented WAY beyond the rank and file. Access to EVERY weapon in the Corpus arsenal and many others he shouldn't have access to. Access to the best armor and shielding available outside of warframes. Totally dedicated to the survival of the human race. Clergy and Corpus take second and third seat respectively.


as a thought if he is this lethal using only weapons and armor that the corpus have. then what could he do if given a warframe?....... mother of god help us all....

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It was...familiar. He was aware. But not. He was conscious. But not. He was not where he had been. A series of noises around him told him where he was. A medical ward. He grunted as pain lanced through him. Rage rose again.


"Easy, soldier..." A voice he sort of recognized spoke from nearby. "We have to get the armor off..."


"Get away from him, doctor!" A familiar scared voice cut through the hubbub of the medical ward like a knife. "Now!" Her knew her. She was... no. Not a friend. But... A colleague? A... compatriot? No. That wasn't right either. He... wasn't thinking clearly. Something touched him. "No!"


"Ma'am!" The voice of the doctor said sharply. "We have to get the burnt armor off!" Then a scream sounded as Horatius moved. Something went 'snap' and he was off the table and on his feet. Five forms in medical garments stood close at hand, one now clutching a wrist that was bent the wrong direction. Two guards stood by a door, but both stood as if terrified.


"Everyone! Freeze!" The old female voice commanded and Horatius turned to see a familiar form. The Reverend Mother looked like hell. Her face was angry, but...also scared. "Horatius... Come back to us. It's okay. Mission accomplished, soldier." The rage... faded a little. He could think.


"No, it's not." Horatius said quietly. "They dosed her."


"You were in time." The old nun said softly, raising empty hands. "Horatius... You were in time. They sedated her. No more. They were prepping her for a mindwipe. You stopped them. And we have prisoners. Well done, Horatius. We will find out who sent them."


"I..." Horatius slumped a bit. "I need to..."


"Horatius..." The old woman took a slow step closer. "You are hurt. Your implants can keep you going for a little while. But you need help."


"Don't..." Horatius swallowed hard. "Don't let her see me like this..."


"I won't." The Reverend Mother said sadly as she reached out with a slow hand and brushed his cheek. "Sleep my friend." Horatius... nodded and the music that he had denied for so long swelled louder in his mind. It...carried him into oblivion.




"Holy profit..." Vina was not crying now. She had been. "I... I thought I knew..."


"Yeah." The Reverend Mother maintained the touch on Horatius' brow while the docs worked to remove the burnt armor from his still form. "Don't jostle me." She warned the nurses who were moving warily. "If he wakes again... in pain... I don't know if I can stop him again."


"Yes Ma'am." The head doctor said warily. Well, he was the head doc now that the first doc had been taken to have her wrist set. "Not long. We can... Holy profit..." He said, staring at his screen. "How much of him is augmented?"


"You saw nothing." The Reverend Mother's power sang around the room. "He is full human. Treat him as human."


"We saw nothing." Vina's eyes went huge as every mouth in the room but hers spoke in unison. "We will treat him as full human."


It didn't take long until the doc had the armor off. A few injections and the Reverend Mother cautiously withdrew her hand. Horatius slept on and she let out a sigh of relief. She slumped a bit and nodded to the docs.


"He will sleep now. Not his fault. It's the training, you see. The training and the augmentation. He will want to apologize when he wakes." She said sadly. "It was reflex for him. Not...conscious." She shook her head. "He was a good man..."


"What should we do when he wakes?" The doc who has spoken asked as he worked on the human shape.


"He will wake upset." The old nun said softly. "Keep everyone away. He will yank out the tubes. Yank off the wires. Do not try to stop him. He won't hurt anyone when he is fully aware, but..." She shook her head. "Put him in a room with nothing breakable. He will find a way to break something anyway. He always does." Fond, exasperated sadness sang in her voice as she turned to where Vina stood, staring. She jerked her head and the Executive followed her into another room. One where Mercedes lay sleeping. The old nun's face hardened on seeing the woman's shaved head. "Do you have a wig? She will feel the violation. But if we can minimize it until we can regen her hair... It will help."


"I... can have something made quickly." Vina said weakly. She tapped some keys and nodded. "Working. The... they were going to..."


"Mindwipe her." The old woman said quietly. "Yes."


"I... I couldn't do anything." Vina was babbling a little and the old woman pulled her close. Vina's tears let loose. "All I could do was watch... They wouldn't let me do anything else... I thought he was dead. Then he got up and..." She shuddered.


"It is what he does." The Reverend Mother said sadly. "What he has done ever since he left the colony. I knew he would be gentle with her. I had hoped she could help him. But... he won't let her in. Not completely."


"I don't understand." Vina said, her sobs coming through strong. "He... He was kind to her. Gentle. She said he was...amazing."


"He is." The Reverend Mother stroked Vina's head, calming, soothing. "He was... so good at instructing the girls. The ones who had no experience for whatever reason. I was too strict with my own daughter. I... didn't realize. Too many other demands on my time. He jerked me up short." She chuckled a bit wetly. "He was... rather rude. But he was right. She was... so much better. After. Mercedes J-54 will live, Vina. Hold to that."


"You are going to take her, aren't you?" Vina said after a moment. She calmed herself and stepped back.  A beep sounded and she went to a wall dispenser. She pulled a mass from it and handed it to the Reverend Mother who nodded. It was Mercedes J-54's hair color.


"Yes. She will wake in a few minutes." The older woman nodded. "Horatius is going to go after the people who did this. I do not want her to be here when he wakes. She will be stressed enough. We will ease her into her new role." She smiled a bit gently. "And yes. I think we can swing a girl for you."


"What I want is not important." Vina said savagely. "Take care of her. She is not just a priceless asset for the company. She is a friend." A moan sounded from the bed and both women turned to see Mercedes J-54 open her eyes. "Mercedes J-54?" Vina asked, hesitant.


"What happened?" Mercedes J-54 asked softly. "It... I was in the airlock. You were crying... I... Horatius hit me... But then... people were shooting... He... He..." Vina and the Reverend Mother both moved to her side, each woman taking a hand. She did not notice as the Reverend Mother settled the wig on her head with the other.


"He is alive. He fought his way to you, saved you, Mercedes." The old nun said quietly. Both other woman stared at her and the Reverend Mother sighed. "That is your name now. Your old life has ended. A new one has begun. We have executive assistants by the thousands, Mercedes. We only have one you."


"But..." Mercedes slumped a bit. "I saw him fall. He was still. So still. He was.. how could he fight...?"


"He is Special Forces, Mercedes." The old woman said with a sigh as she sat on the bed, pulling the now crying girl into a loose embrace. "It is what he does. Vina, step back." She commanded as she put a hand inside her robes. Vina paused and then pulled Mercedes hand up to her mouth and gave it a kiss.


"Come back to me, dear heart." Vina said as she laid the hand she had just kissed back in Mercedes lap. "I will be waiting."


Mercedes gave a small smile as she and the Reverend Mother both vanished in a haze of golden energy. Vina slumped a bit, staring at where they had been. Then she turned on her heel and strode form the room, her posture going straight. Her guards -four now- formed up beside her as she strode to another room. As the door opened, screams were heard. Her face was expressionless as she entered the room where two humans lay strapped to tables while machines scoured their brains for every ounce of information they had.


"Report." Her ice cold voice might have given a Tenno pause.


"The doctor is a pawn." Sister Harriet said from where she stood, working the machinery. Her own face was set. "We checked. His family were all found dead a day ago. A 'skimmer accident'." The sarcasm in the last words could have cut steel.


"Salvageable?" Vina said sternly.


"We went deep." Harriet had no emotion in her voice now. "But I think so. He will need retraining. But not as much as some of the kids."


"The other?" Vina glanced at the one with no legs.


"Black ops. Team leader." Harriet confirmed. "The triggers are known. I have worked around some of the blocks. He was working for a subordinate of Board Member Bek..." She raised a hand as Vina inhaled. "I don't think Bek did this. He would know better. He knows what Horatius is." She chuckled, an odd sound in chamber that still resounded with screams weakening as they were. "If he had been the one, he would have sent a lot more than five and some MOAs."


"Okay." Vina said with a sigh. "What do we know?"


"They were ordered to grab her like we thought. " Harriet said with a nod. "Nonlethal, but they were to do a mindwipe as soon as possible. The medical MOA was set up for one. The idea was to use the portal we found to transit to an unused storage facility near Pluto. Then they were going to transit somewhere else. Everyone else on the ship was disposable. Decoys."


"Any idea where?" Vina asked and Harriet shook her head. "But he knows." It wasn't a question but the lay sister nodded anyway. "Can you break through?"


"I can." Harriet said with a sigh. "It will take time. And I do know of a faster method..." She glanced at the door.


"What?" Vina paused as the hardened Clergy lay sister actually grimaced. "Oh... He can?"


"I... read a report of him breaking a Black Ops mental block to get information once." Harriet said with a gulp. "It...wasn't pretty."


"What they were going to do to Mercedes J..." She paused. "No... To Mercedes..." She corrected herself carefully. "...wasn't pretty. What will he need?"


"From the report?" Harriet actually looked bit green. "A spoon and a heat source."


Vina stared at her and despite everything, she felt queasy.




Mercedes was reeling. The transit had been... jarring to say the least. But the old woman's grip on her arm never faltered. So many shocks. So quickly. She... was in love with Horatius. She knew that. She was attracted to him. What woman wouldn't be? Talk, dark, dangerous... and... Kind, gentle and with the most amazing hands... She shivered.


"Easy, Mercedes." The Reverend Mother said gently. "You are in shock. It's been a bad day." She spoke louder. "I need a chair! Did they send the report?"


"They did." A tight female voice sounded as Mercedes felt something behind her knees and hands were easing her down into something. It was... very comfortable. Mercedes looked to find the speaker and she paused as she saw a violet hulled MOA. "Hello Mercedes." The MOA said gently. "My name is Sheila. I am here to help."


"Um... Hello Sheila." Mercedes said as someone laid a blanket over her. "I... I don't know what to do."


"Ordinarily, we have a meet and greet. You meet the staff, and any of the others who want to be social. Usually around a meal." The MOA said calmly. "Not everyone is. Social that is. You don't have to be if you do not want to. We are here to help you. Make your life easier. Because what you are doing will be hard."


"I... thought you would just... stick me in a machine..." Mercedes wanted to pull the words back as soon as she spoke them, but the MOA... laughed. "What?"


"Do you have any idea what the Reverend Mother would do to us if we acted like that?" Sheila fought through her chuckles. "No, we will not just 'stick you in a machine'. You are confused. You are stressed. You were scared out of your mind. We can help." The kindness from a MOA was too much and Mercedes felt tears start to fall. "Ah my dear..." Sheila said sadly. "It's okay. You are okay. Jeselle?"


A young woman stepped into Mercedes' view, a cloth in hand. She held it out to Mercedes who took it and wiped her face. She shook her head when Mercedes would have handed it back.


"Keep it." The young woman's voice held old sorrow, but her eyes were alight with curiosity and compassion. "I will have your meal sent to the room."


"No." Mercedes said. The girl and MOA both looked at her. "They wanted me afraid. They wanted me powerless. I will not be. Where is this 'meet and greet' of yours?" The girl looked at the MOA and the robot that wasn't one seemed to shrug.


"If you start feeling bad, say my name." Sheila said quietly. "I am on duty at all hours. Unlike puny human nurses, I can keep up."


"Don't forget your own downtime, Sheila." The Reverend Mother said severely from nearby. "If I find you reading when you should be sleeping, I will make you clean the visitor's bathrooms again."


"No, Reverend Mother!" Sheila begged in a comical voice. "Anything but that!"


Mercedes laughed and that laugh seemed to start her on something. A long road. But a worthwhile one.




What? The Lotus sounded upset and the Reverend Mother could relate. Is she all right? Is he?


Mercedes is scared and bruised but no more. He didn't give them time. The Reverend Mother said softly. Horatius is... what he is. I tried. She said weakly. I tried.


I... I am sorry. Of all the thing the Reverend Mother might have expected to hear from one of her greatest adversaries... They did a bunch of scans. They know who he is. What he is. They are &!$$ed.


Yeah. So am I. The Reverend Mother said with a sigh. Anyway... he will get the information once he wakes up. As soon as he does, he will gather a team and strike hard and fast. I still think this whole thing has Bek's fingerprints all over it.


He is the prime suspect. The Lotus said quietly. Maybe too obvious though. He would know not to try that.


The last time he angered Horatius was educational enough. The old nun agreed severely. Two stations and four ships. Even a Tenno strike force would have difficulty matching Horatius when he gets really angry. Against Company forces anyway. Against Grineer or Infested? Tenno would win, hands down. He has said that more than few times himself.


So what now? The Lotus asked. Will you search the storage unit? We can drop the DNA samples there.


No. The Reverend Mother said sadly. As much as I might wish for it to be that easy, whoever the team was supposed to meet will not have left such traces. It would be an immediate red flag for anyone with even a modicum of brains. We have to find the main lab. And with them dark? She sighed. Any news on your end?


Not for this.  The Lotus said calmly and the Reverend Mother nodded even though the other could not see her. She knew the Lotus wasn't -really- an ally. They had the same ultimate goals. Preserve humanity. Defeat the Grineer. Beyond that? One thing... I may not be able to keep it quiet.


Do what you can, please? The Reverend Mother did not like begging. But... If he finds out... we haven't seen a mess yet.


He is going to learn. Both mental presences went still as a third mind made itself felt. I cannot interfere much, but I can keep you two from doing anything too bad. And yes, it would be... bad.


JANET? The Reverend Mother shook herself No... No, say no more! The less I know, the better!


I can help. A little. The mind of what had been one of her best agents and was now far, far more said sadly. I will talk to him. But you better find that lab. Fast. Then, like waft of dream, she was gone.


It is getting... crowded in here... The Reverend Mother said with a gulp that the Lotus matched. Horatius will get the information. Then he will move.


We will be ready.





"We need to talk." Janet was not looking forward to this. The other nodded. "About Dustin."


"Dustin?" Nikis -grandmaster gunfighter of the Tenno- sighed as he knelt slowly. When one was invited to the innermost sanctum of the Oracles of Saturn, one did not lapse in protocol. They had enough concentrated power to hurt him, badly. Not that any of them wished to. It would hurt them worse. But no one wanted to fight. Not here. Not now. "What do you need to know?"


An important distinction. He knew the Oracle rarely wanted to know things. If she asked about such a sensitive subject, she needed to know.


Janet could not move from her gel filled pool. Machines fed her, took care of her wastes and aided her breathing. The docs promised that she would recover. She had seen some improvement. She could move her hand now and it flattened, beckoning Nikis close.


"We need to do this virtual, Nikis." Janet said sadly. "And not me. You... need to know what I do. And it will &!$$ you off. But if you find out and we didn't tell you... it would &!$$ you off worse."


"I won't hurt you, Janet." Nikis said with hurt in his voice as he reached for her hand to pull her into a virtual world.


"I know. It is not me I am worried about." She took a deep breath as the world shifted to a comfortable room where she sat on the bed and pulled the Nekros close. Then she started to explain.


It was a good thing the room was virtual. Titan was mostly seas and they would have resounded with the Tenno's scream of rage for weeks.


Edited by Kalenath
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No no, I know Horatius, sans augmentations, is fully human.  I was just referring to Mag's creative use of silverware way back in Madness.  Almost made me feel sorry for Nicholas.  Key word, "almost."


Um... Mag didn't HEAT hers... ah... DOESN'T (he regenerates.)

Edited by Kalenath
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Too bad for him.  Functionally immortal, and left to the tender mercies of a certain Marine-turned-Tenno with anger issues and the ability to crush your bones with a wave of her hand.  The only thing that makes this situation any scarier is the fact that the angry Marine-turned-Tenno's friends are into fire, antimatter, toxins, high-frequency sound, healing, and screwing with your mind.


Nicholas deserves every picosecond of it.

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Can we get a rough percentage of his body that is augmentations?


Most Special Forces have @30% augmentation. Horatius is @50%. He has been doing this for a LONG time.





It was done.


Horatius stepped away from the broken, sobbing thing on the table and nodded to the MOA nearby. The large device on it hummed and Horatius looked away as a gob of plasma flew from weapon to impact the man strapped to the table. What had been a man vanished. The top of the table was shielded, but the plasma was overkill. Not that he minded. He wanted overkill right now. He so wanted it.

The soldier shook himself. Undirected anger was for amateurs. Focused rage helped, on occasion. Especially when he was solo against large numbers of bad guys. But right now? It was a hindrance and he would not allow that. His voice was calm when he spoke.


"Sterile protocols. This did not happen." He turned and left the room, knowing that every trace of the black ops man... Every...bit that he had carved off with the heated eating utensil... would be gone by the time he came back. If he did. As he walked, he keyed his com. "Training facility. Commander Horatius here. What is the status of the personnel?"


"Nominal for the three we have here." The immediate reply came. He liked Violet. She was all business. For someone who liked Grineer weapons anyway. She had quite a collection. All taken from dead Grineer and repurposed for her own use. Everything from pistols to incendiary rocket launchers. "What do you have, boss?"


"A S#&$storm about to hit." Horatius said with a sigh. "Get as many full personnel as you can find and get here within the next five hours. We will need them."


"Oh." For once, Violet sounded subdued. "I see. On it. One thing...we have an... oddity in the recruit lineup."


"Violet." Horatius said with another sigh. "You know how I feel about you using that word. What kind of 'oddity'?" He asked, exasperated. But he did hurry his steps.


"The sole girl in the group is good. All of her test scores are good or excellent." Violet said quietly. "But... if she is nineteen, I am Chairman of the Board."


"How old?" He asked as he entered an elevator. A few people who had been waiting for it moved aside as he entered it. A scary reputation helped on occasion.


"I would say... fifteen? Sixteen?" She said, somewhat dubious. "Her file says she is nineteen, but it has been hacked. Well hacked. It held up to several levels of scrutiny. It took eyeballs on her to realize she wasn't of age."


"Hmmm..." Horatius said as he waited for the elevator to get where it was going. It only seemed to take forever. "Any computer people available?"


"Cass is working on some stuff. Boss..." Violet said slowly. "If she is just a kid..."


"Violet!" Horatius snapped. "You know me better than that! I am not going to throw her into a firefight with no training or augmentation. I am not the Board." Hate sang in his voice for a moment and he worked to tamp it down. "But if she is good enough to hack our systems... Let me talk to her. Room 3." The elevator opened and he started for that room, one of few in the training area that was set up for people to sit and talk comfortably. Well, sort of comfortably.


"Okay." Violet sounded relieved. "I know I am bit... off. But those kids..." She had been part of the team that had gone in to rescue Mike O-12 and the others. What she had seen in that place would have rattled anyone.


"If there was any justice in the system, I would get you a vacation." Horatius said with sigh. "Best we could do was a training billet. But then... this. I hope I don't need you." She was good. A born sneak and good with explosives of any kind. Aside for her odd fetish for Grineer weapons, she was a good troop. But if she was still shaken...


"If you do, I am here." Violet promised. He knew she would do her best. She didn't know how to do anything else. "The name in the file is Abigail B-6. Probably an alias."


"Oh, come on Violet!" Horatius actually sounded stern, but he was smiling. "Who could possibly want to join Special Forces to hide?" He asked snidely.


She barked a laugh. She had. Property whose title had been in dispute had found its way into her residence on several occasions and Internal Security had been closing in on her despite loud protests of innocence. Thing was? She was scrupulously honest now. She accounted for every penny that was her responsibility. He wasn't sure if she had actually been a thief or just in the wrong place at the wrong time and run when the Security guys had come knocking. It didn't matter. She was his teammate now. That was all that mattered. Security could take a flying leap out an airlock.


"She is on the way." Violet said quietly after a moment. "I have... um... six that are close, but two are on assignment. Pull them off?"


"Let's see what we can see first." Horatius said as he entered the room. "Have Cass bring her stuff."


Room 3 was spartan to the extreme. A dozen uncomfortable chairs sat around a flimsy looking table. The only concession to high tech was a holo projector that retracted into the ceiling. It was well out of most people's reach. It was no accident that the room's furniture was uncomfortable. It was designed to be easy to replace, not comfortable. Fights were very common in Special Forces briefings. They didn't want anything handy that would actually harm people if applied to a skull repeatedly. And they didn't want to replace anything too expensive that frequently. Special Forces had a large budget, but it was never enough.


He did not sit. He stood by one wall, waiting. He didn't have to wait long. His eyes narrowed as a very young looking woman stepped into the room, her face a mask.


"Sit." He indicated a chair and she looked at him. "It isn't rigged."


This time anyway. He hadn't had time. Special Forces training was unending. Any mistake could and would get you killed. Noisemakers in seats were usually followed by a round of PT with more stringent exercises for any who missed the infantile traps. The idea wasn't to kill people, but to make them think. To plan for the unexpected.


"Begging your pardon, sir." The young woman said diffidently as she knelt to examine the chair and nodded before sitting.


"Okay." Horatius said mildly as he stepped to block the door. "Name and age." The girl stiffened and Horatius chuckled darkly. "Very well done. But you are hardly the first to hack our recruiters' files." She went totally still, her hands edging to her side and Horatius sighed. "Now don't be stupid, girl." He said harshly. "I don't care why you ran. I don't care who is chasing you." She stared at him, dumfounded and he shrugged. "We get a lot of that. Name and age."


"Mina Y-45." She slumped. "I am fifteen." She sounded tired now. Horatius did not speak and she sighed. "I didn't mean to."


"Look." Horatius said quietly. "You are good. I get that. But you are too young. You don't have the strength or stamina to get through the training. You haven't finished growing! We can't augment you. You are wasting your time and ours."


"If I go back..." Mina Y-45 looked terrified now. "They think I did it on purpose! They will execute me without letting me explain! I didn't mean to!"


"Didn't mean to do what?" Horatius asked carefully. "Who did you kill?"


"Nobody!" Mina Y-45 said sharply. "Or... I don't think I did... I didn't mean to. It was a tight system, a challenge! I didn't know..." The door hissed behind Horatius and he moved a little to let one of the trainers in. He held a small pack that the girl looked at and slumped. "I didn't mean to."


"What did you do?" Horatius asked quietly as Cass moved to one side. The other Special Forces trooper wasn't armed, but then again, he didn't need weapons to be lethal. Mina Y-45 slumped further and Horatius sighed deeper. "Look, girl... We might be able to help. If you are straight with us. Cass?"


"Good clean hacks, boss." The tech specialist said with a nod. "Nothing popped until Violet saw her." Mina Y-45 cringed and Cass shook his head. "Spoofing cameras isn't that hard, girl. Spoofing eyeballs is a lot harder."


"I didn't know anywhere else to go." Mina Y-45 said in a monotone. "You hear stories, you know?" Neither of the males spoke and she sighed. "I saw the network entry and I didn't know what it was. I thought it was military. But I had no idea."


"You hacked a military system?" Horatius looked at Cass who pursed his lips. "What was it?"


"I don't know." Mina Y-45 said weakly. "Something called a JX-RV-43K." At that, Cass went totally still. Horatius looked at him and Cass spoke slowly and carefully.


"You hacked the JX?" Cass said, sounding stunned. "How far in did you get?"


"I..." The girl was going to fall out of the chair if she slumped any further. "All the way." She went still as Cass whistled. Horatius stared at the tech and he seemed awed. "I didn't even see what it was. As soon as I got in, my system locked up. Security was coming... I... I ran..."


"Straight to the recruiter." Horatius said softly and she nodded. "Cass?"


"The JX-RV-43K is the sensor grid network nexus, Boss." Horatius looked puzzled and Cass made a face. "For all of Neptune." At that, Horatius' eyes went huge. Talk about secure! "Yeah. I heard about an alert. They thought it was Alad V. Three days ago?" Mina Y-45 nodded. "Oh boy, boss. If she can do that? At fifteen?"  Cass said with glee. "We need her!"


"Okay." Horatius said with a nod. "Your name is Abigail." He said to the girl who stared at him with wide eyes. "You will work with Cass to set up a proper identity with all the needed information. We have lots of rules but the big one is this. Do not lie to us. Anyone else, feel free. But not us. We are all that we have. If you treat us right, we will treat you right. We will give you challenges that will boggle your mind. You will see things and do things that bother you. You may get hurt or worse. It comes with the job."


"But..." The girl said, unsure. "You said..." She broke off as Cass chuckled.


"Girl... Abigail..." The tech said quietly. "Anyone who can hack the JX without military training is an asset we need. We want you before anyone else gets you. We certainly don't want Security to execute you. Waste of talent."


"We are going to put you through a wringer, Abigail." Horatius said quietly. "If you are a plant of some kind, you will disappear. It has been done. And with younger people." Abigail stared at him, her eyes going even wider as impossible as that seemed. "But... you don't seem the sort. You won't be combat personnel. We always need more tech support. We can't trust anyone else's."


"I..." Abigail swallowed hard and nodded. "What do I do?"


"Come with me." Horatius turned to the door as the girl rose and moved to follow. "Cass? You know what to do."


"Right." Cass said with a nod. "Full background files coming right up." He smiled at the girl as she stared at him. "We get all kinds, Abigail. As long as you don't lie? You will do fine." He stepped out and was gone.


"What do I do?" Abigail asked in a monotone.


"We go talk to Sister Harriet." Horatius said with a nod. "Com on." He snapped as he walked. The girl hurried to keep up and kept her mouth shut. "Vina? It's a lab in the Outer Terminus. It was a subordinate of Bek's who gave him the orders but he didn't think Bek knew or condoned it. The orders were legit." Abigail's eyes went huge again, but she did not speak as he moved to an elevator and waited for her to follow. "I have the coordinates." He hit the control as soon as she was in.


"What do you need?" Vina's calm voice was a facade. She was angry. Almost as angry as Horatius himself was. He hated it when he had to fight Company. It happened way too often these days.


"The less you know about what I will do, the better." Horatius said calmly. "For right now? I have a recruit for Harriet to vet. Is she busy?"


"No." Vina said heavily. "Mike O-12... they are probably going to have to mindwipe." Horatius slumped a little. He had hoped. "He... likely isn't going to get any better without one. They are letting him sleep naturally until he wakes. She is in the lab." The Executive paused and then spoke softly. "Anything you need, Commander. And I do mean anything. Ask." The com clicked off.


Abigail stared at him and shook her head. "Sister Harriet?"


" A Clergywoman." Abigail stiffened and Horatius nodded. "She is a specialist in mental traumas." Hioratius explained. "Fixing them. Or causing them. She is good."


"I..." Abigail swallowed hard. "I haven't lied to you."


"I want to believe you." Horatius said quietly. "But I can't. There is far too much at risk. Too many lives. Too many secrets. I am not going to lie. It will hurt." Abigail nodded. "But she can make it far easier than any of my people here can." He glanced at her. "Thing is...the Clergy have their own agenda. If it benefits them to throw us away, they will. Remember that."


"All I know is stories." Abigail said weakly. "Most bad."


"Yeah." Horatius agreed. A door ahead hissed open and Abigail tensed. She subsided as Horatius laid a gentle hand on her arm. "Easy girl. We can help. If you let us."


She nodded and did not speak as he led her into another room. The room was bare except for a table and a lot of menacing looking machinery. The woman at the control console turned and frowned just a little as she saw Abigail.


"Sister Harriet, this is Abigail." Horatius said as he stopped, Abigail stopping with him. "I need her scanned. She said some things that did not make a lot of sense to me. But Cass is excited."


"How old are you girl?" The young looking clergywoman asked quietly.


"Fifteen, Ma'am." Abigail was brave, Horatius had to give her that. She was barely trembling.


"Okay." The woman turned back to the console. "Up you get." Her voice was distant, but... kind. Abigail looked at Horatius who nodded. "I need to do some baseline scans. Anything I should know?"


"My ovaries are gone." Abigail said as she walked to the table. Horatius walked with her. If she ran... Harriet wasn't always gentle. Harriet paused and looked at her. "Only way I had to get out of debt. They paid the principle and left me to pay just the interest."


"Hell of a story there." Harriet commented, but her tone was still gentle. "Lie down on the table. I will rig a sedative and muscle relaxant. It will help with the pain."


"Yes. Ma'am." Abigail was terrified, but she controlled it well. She got unto the table under her own power and lay back. She did not resist as the automated restraints came up and clamped her in place.  "I..." She gasped as the head restraint clicked into place and a machine swung down from the ceiling. "I..."


"Easy." Horatius said quietly, his hand stroking her arm. "The tenser you get, the worse it will hurt." Harriet nodded to him, a small object in her hands as she stepped to the table. "Tell me, do you sing?"


"Sing?" Abigail asked and then gasped as Harriet laid the object beside her arm. It extended tiny tendrils that poked her, but she immediately relaxed. The Clergywoman moved soft things under the girl's palms. "That... I..."


"I need to put a mouth guard in." Harriet said softly. "But we can sing. It helps."


"I am scared." Abigail said, tears starting to fall.


"I know." Horatius said softly. "How about this... Twinkle, twinkle, little star..." He sang and Abigal relaxed further as Harriet put the mouth guard in. "...how I wonder what you are."


Harriet was smiling sadly as she stepped back to her console and energy started playing across Abigail's face. She grunted and Horatius continued to sing the ancient song, holding her hand gently as it clenched tight enough to hurt. The girl's grunts made the music... off, but he would not let her go.


He would not.




"She is telling the truth." Harriet said as she watched Abigail sleep fitfully. After the session, another sedative had put the poor girl out completely. "She hacked the JX... Fifteen and she hacked the single most secure military server on the planet. Dang... There is an alert out for her. Security is looking."


"Security can go F*** themselves." Horatius said without heat. He still held Abigail's hand. "We need her."


"Never the easy way, huh, Horatius?" Harriet said with a snort. "One thing... the lab she sold her ovaries to? It's on Outer Terminus." Horatius went still. "And she has been there." She rattled off a set of coordinates and Horatius nodded. "And..." A set of images appeared on the screen and Horatius nodded soberly.


"I see."




And another piece falls into place... That man is scary. He made sure she would have a way out... He can't access the probabilities or any Oracles. How did he know?


The Lotus saw everything. It was what she was. What she did. But this... This was beginning to tax even her prodigious resources to keep track of the many, many threads that were all leading to one set of probabilities. All the little things he had asked her to do. Like make sure one particular insanely gifted (and very heavily indebted) girl's computer had access to recruitment flyers that detailed the Special Forces. Just in case she had to run after hacking the wrong system. Which she had.


Girl could do far worse for a family... He does care for his people. The Lotus mused and then focused on her task.


Getting a group of Tenno into position without actually telling most of them what the target actually was.


If they discovered too soon, they would do what they did and the whole plan would all come crashing down. Too late? Horatius would survive the slaughter. No one else and the horror would begin again somewhere else.


They had to do it right the first time.


Edited by Kalenath
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