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Mantrid

Supreme Bio-Vizier for the Emperor

0 · 415 views · located in Special Projects HQ

a character in “The Multiverse”, as played by barney_fife

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The Aschen Empire, a massive collection of semi-sovereign provinces that reigns over a great portion of the Milky Way Galaxy, paranoid, arrogant, and cruel, a once prosperous nation spirals into poverty, and self-destruction.
Division of the Office of Imperial Affairs, Special Projects is tasked with the recruitment, training, and indoctrination of supersoldiers, both citizen, and foreigner.

Description



Dr. Mantrid Hetyri, supreme bio-vizier for the United Aschen Empire

Cunning, brutally intelligent, amoral, Dr. Hetyri served a long and distinguished career in the medical sciences, and is responsible for numerous procedures that enhance and extend the normal human capabilities.

So begins...

Mantrid's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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Special Projects Lab A-3



Six long months had gone by since Tim, The red switch made his deal with the emperor. Six long, grueling, and painful months as he was transformed into his new identity.

"Neural patterns have stabilized..." A technician called out, while Dr. Plishkin, and Grand Confessor Kesslee were standing, watching a display.

Dr. Hetyri was standing over the large immersion tank, going over some readings while he inspected the woman within. The entire procedure had gone off without a hitch, the neural patterns were intact, but the genetic material had been sufficiently altered, and while in her suspended state, she received several enhancements.

Mantrid's eyes slowly went down the list, her skeleton had been reinforced with a ceramic-carbon composite material, making the bones nearly unbreakable, the nerves were enhanced with superconducting dendritic enhancements, which meant that her reactions would be instantaneous, the blood was augmented with nanites and special carriers, which meant it bled a bright red, and efficiently carried oxygen throughout the body; this was so the enhanced musculature could sustain nominal functionality during combat stress.

Vision and hearing were enhanced, by a wide margin, it was sharp, clear, she could spot, and hear a pin drop from a mile away with the naked eyes.

Mantrid slowly licked his lips, he was proud of his creation.

"She's perfect..." He said, flipping a lever causing the liquid to begin draining.

"She's an excellent specimen, strong genetics, she's taken to the enhancements quite well, but she won't know her own strength, she will be like a baby! Oh how marvelous!" Plishkin called out, tapping on the glass.

The tank had completely drained, and a simple jolt would awaken the new and improved Red, and her new identity.

"Rubrum in morte." Kesslee called out, the Red Death, a fitting name.

She would awaken within a tank, the entire body screaming as if it were on fire, every muscle spasmed, every joint ached, everything felt alien, foreign, as the brain tried to make sense of the new inputs it was receiving.

If she tried to sit up, the enhanced muscles spasmed, likely sending her tumbling forward, the tile gave way like brittle clay to her fingers if she grasped them, the body was jerky, quick; but the pain was quickly subsiding.

However if she tried to grab something for support, she would find the material giving away like paper under her grasp, while Mantrid looked on, visibly impressed.

"She's a success, Mr. Kesslee." He said, leaning over to take some readings.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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  1. Supposed to be "Get me a towl."

    by Blazezon

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Have you ever felt pain?
I mean truly felt it?
Every nueron in your body burning. All you know, all you feel. Pain.
I have." -.Ayla Kayama


A convulsion, a jerk, that's what started it. Ayla's body shot forward as she coughed, violently sputtering fluid. She couldn't even process the information her eyes sent her brain, it was too sharp, too clear, and too bright. It just added to the blaring pain. All the while an endless cascade of intense sound pounded on her ears, her own heartbeat thudded like a Smith's hammer.

Nothing made sense, she couldn't fight through the agony long enough to think.

She shrieked.

Not just a high pitched howl, or a pained yell, but a primal, ear-shattering bellow. A threshold of Human Endurance not meant to be past, had been broken, and the sound she made was a horrifying sound. Never meant to be heard . It lasted but a moment, but it was the kind of inhumane sound that those who hear it, would hear it again.

Any quiet night, just ever-so lightly above the background noise, would Ayla's screech forever echo for those who created it.

The force of the shriek sent her hoarse, and she began to convulse for a few seconds. Once she laid still, her breathing seemed to slow. More silence came, then a faint groan. The worst seemed to be over, and Ayla's healing factor was no doubtably why. Her eyes slowly crept open, and this time, though blurry, she could see.

A rhasping heave rattled from her chest as she attempt to speak. Words felt alien in her mouth, but then again her mouth itself felt alien. The first few attempts at speech resulted in fits of coughing up Immersion fluid. Each time she coughed her fists banged against the side of the tubes, denting, and eventually splintering them without realizing.

With great effort she choked out a single, garbled sentence.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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Kesslee slowly handed her a plush white towel, the soft fabric could easily tear under her immense strength. He knew this would just be the beginning, every enhancement had been meticulously planned, from the super-strength, to the neural-synaptic link fitted at the base of her skull, which would facilitate the seamless piloting of things like combat skins, and power armor.

"They say one never truly knows themselves..." Mantrid said, circling the tank, seeing the woman crush metal under her hands. "Until their freedom has been taken away.." He said, checking her pupils with an LED light. "She's slowly coming too, your mind is adjusting to the new body." He said, pushing some hair back.

"You must train your new body; tell me. Can you stand?"

Kesslee circled them like a vulture. "You'll soon learn, that your newfound freedom will come at a price"

If she tried to stand, she would find the feat effortless, but unsteady as the muscles continued to twitch.

Slowly, Kesslee approached, grasping a pair of hexagonal dogtags, bearing the crest of the Aschen Empire, he held them out to Ayla, dropping them into her hand if she took them.

"Lieutenant Kayama; allow me to formally welcome you into the Adepts of War." The Grand Confessor said coldly. "From now on you will know only servitude to the Empire; you will heed your every command, and most importantly; you will protect your brothers in arms.

"We have given you more power than Lochlyn could ever dream of bestowing upon you, you will be a minister of death praying for war." Kesslee explained. "Now tell me, are you ready to take the first steps into a new life?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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The moment her shaky fingers grasped the towel, they tore through them like wet paper. Her brow furrowed, and a second, much more careful attempt allowed her to take it from Kesslee. It took her a great deal of effort to get it around herself for modesties sake. Something about the way Mantrid looked at her made her uneasy.

A sort of unease she hadn't experienced before.

The light annoyed her, but at the doctor's request she stood. Without thinking she tried to pull herself up by using the side of the tube. Instead she tore it clean off, and stumbled forward. She craned her head down carefully to study the damage she caused. Her mind still couldn't accept her body's newfound strength.

It did however register an extreme dislike of Mantrid.

About then Kesslee circled back, dropping the tags at her so casually. She had to rapidly fumble to catch them, her hands moving so much faster than they should've. It was nearly impossible to control, but she managed.

Every second she could feel it. Her mind adapting, slowly catching up with her body.

As the Grand Confessor spoke she stared at her hands, flexed every muscle she could, shivered, and shook. By the time he asked if she was ready, she was bouncing on her heels.

"Lieutenant Kayama," She croaked. "I like it." Her eyes immediately locked with Kesslee's. "I live to serve, Grand Confessor."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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A young technician moved swiftly towards them, handing her a some lcothes, a dark grey BDU outfit with the patch of the Aschen Empire sewn on the left shoulder, and the seal of the Adepts of War on the right.

Mantrid was staring, but not so much in a way that was lustful, but more of a pride in his creation, as much of his work culminated into the creation of this young woman.

Genetic sex changes were nearly routine in the Empire, but to incorporate the extensive enhancements while the changes were underway was practically unheard of.

Ayla would be given an opportunity to dress herself, as Kesslee went over some final notations.

When she had finally dressed herself, Kesslee returned with a book in his hand, and a small velvet jewelry box.

"Raise your right hand, and place your left hand on the book; and repeat after me." Kesslee said calmly.

"I, Ayla Kayama, do avow and affirm, to serve the United Aschen Empire faithfully, to execute the orders given by your superior without hesitation or question in accordance with the chain that binds. I swear to uphold the will of the Emperor, to serve him faithfully...

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Emperor, and laws of the United Aschen Empire against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United Aschen Empire when so decreed by the Emperor, or when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United Aschen Empire when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so say we all."

Once finished, Kesslee would take the book, and hand it to her. "The book of the word, study it well, our faiths will be important to your integration."

"As of this moment, you are a citizen of the Aschen Empire, entitled to the rights and responsibilities of the same." Kesslee said, as Plishkin nodded approvingly.

"Dr. Plishkin will show you to your quarters, and bring you up to speed on your enhancements.."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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The first true, form thought that came to Ayla's mind was that the people who came up with that Aschen immersion process should've been the test subjects for it. After spending a literal three minutes grappling with her uniform as gently as bloody possibly, she decided the people that expected her to function at all already ought to be next.

Everything was daunting.

Her limbs felt like she was piloting a beta-test mech, and a cheaply assembled one at that. Of course, at the same time her body had actually become a tool of utter destruction, which created some unique problems. Like the convulsion from a sneeze resulting in her fist through a few solid inches of concrete. To top it off every time she caught her reflection in a mirror, an intense stabbing throb shot through her head.

Oh yeah, and all the weird memories that keep coming back where she was a man.

Thinking about that was utter agony. Even with her ability to bounce back, she was exhausted by the time she came out.

Damn did a beer sound good for some reason, but was that the Aschen way?

Of course not.

Perhaps quite unsurprisingly the rather long Aschen oath she was greeted with proved difficult. Firstly it was a task to merely place her hand on the book, and not smash straight through it, and the Grand Confessor's hand. Her mind was still foggy, but a half pun about "biting the hand that feeds" made it difficult to keep her expression null. Stumbling blocks aside, the Lieutenant was capable of short sentences well enough, but a long speech was a challenge to keep the tongue untied.

Some Aschen God somewhere, if they had one other than Prince, had to be looking over her shoulder, she thought. She made it through flawlessly, on borrowed grace no doubt.

All of this was okay with her, right until Kesslee handed her the book. She looked down at it with a raised eyebrow. Not out of disrepect, but it was the proper expression to have when something alien is placed in your hands.

"Hrmm. Is it.. Truly nessicary?" She dared to meet the Confessor's gaze. "No disrepect, mind you..." She spoke slowly, considering her words carefully. "The planet I was born on had no Gods, and the glass thing I servered, I did not.. Believe in. Only it's ideals." Ayla turned the book over carefully.

"Not to mention.. I don't think I read Aschen."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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"Your body is going through many changes." Dr. Plishkin said, moving towards them. "Your strength is superhuman, so you must learn to temper your muscles." The Dr. Said, reaching out and grasping her wrist. "Your skeleton, in order to endure the enhanced muscle strength, has been reinforced with carbon fibers, and high-strength ceramic, your bones are almost indestructible." He said, swooping around her.

"It's quite marvelous, really." He said.

"We didn't just change your body; we enhanced it. A warrior is only as good as his own body.... your arm, please!" Plishkin said, before he reached out and snatched Ayla's arm, looking it over.

"Observe."

The sting of the scalpel came next, it cut deep, and bright red blood would soon follow; but it was strangely bright, and it was dripping slowly.

If allowed to do this, Ayla would observe the blood clot, and dry in seconds, only to flake off and expose no wounds, roughly a minute had passed, and where Plishkin cut her arm, it had completely healed.

"The front of your ribcage is fused solid, where no movement is required to breathe, you've got a solid plate of bone protecting your heart and lungs, and it has shown a ninety percent ballistics resistance in test subjects."

"You will find the gods helpful in your most dire times, even if they are little more than superstition, sometimes it's the placebo effect that counts." Kesslee said. "You'll come to find that your people are deeply religious."

Another book was presented, this one was an Anquietas to Common textbook.

"Your mind has been enhanced to better store, and process information. Your memories are clearer, but you could always just use your neural synaptic link and take the shortcut."

"And Ayla... consider this; the last planet you were born on was here, that tank? Was your womb." Kesslee added.

Everyone around her was visibly impressed, but the true test would come with her training, and how quickly she could hone the enhancements she had been given.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Charles Kesslee Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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Being treated like a prized Sow at the County Fair was not something Ayla cared for. In fact from the moment the Doctor grabbed her, and started on like she was a lab rat, it became increasingly difficult not to drive her ceramic fist through his throat. Not that she would, her discipline was far deeper than her intensely private nature.

The Aschen seemed to have forgotten that about her, and so had she until just now.

Nevertheless she was a soldier, and that meant she made no protest when her "creator" took her arm, and sliced it. The new Lieutenant winced as he did so, both eyes jamming shut. It was definitely a pain responce, but not to the little nick that was already healed when her eyes opened, but from the agony of a memory.

This had happened to her before. It was shortly after Lochlyn formed the Kill Switch, deep under Hera Prime in a similar, but more primitive lab.

"Was It more primitive? I can't recall. Everything is.. different now."

She was brought there in part to see if her healing factor could be spliced into humanoids, and also to pick her second in command, The Blue Switch.

Blue.

By now the Doctor was saying something about her ribs, but it wasn't as important as remembering that woman right now.

That vile woman.

Lochlyn had decided her role before Red had even met her, and from the second they locked eyes the entire rest of her existence seemed to be devoted to aggitating him. A sort of dull, seething rage began to fester in her stomach as she remembered Blue taking a scalpel and jamming it into Red's hand.

Her hand, she thought.

Blue had been far from her mind in the mines, but now alarm bells were ringing. Threatening ones. Blue was supposed to free her if the worst happened, and two months was plenty of time for even that moron. She either chose not to, or was dead. Those were the only two options Ayla saw.

Well, that or she was in a volcanic mine of her own.

The thought made her smile, which probably weirded Kesslee out since he as handing her what appeared to be an Aschen dictionary. She regained her composure, and waited for the Doctor to finally shut up. Not that she didn't appreciate his work.

About then manners kicked in, and Ayla genuinely bowed her head to the scientists.

"I am truly greatful to the both of you, for giving me perhaps the most powerful tool a warrior requires." Ugh, had she always sounded so pompous? Either way she turned her attention back to Kesslee, just in time for him to depart a little wisdom from him.

He was turning out to be quite a military mind.

Of course all the expectant eyes on her made Ayla a little comfortable. She felt sort of naked without armour, and still kind of liked a stuffed pig to these people, but. But they had truly given her a new, better self, and the promise of battle.

Looking around she realized that perhaps it might not be so bad to be Aschen. Might even be kind of good.

With that in mind her hand shot to the Grand Confessor's wrist. Unfortunately even her gentlest grip was more or less the literal force of a vice. "I have something I need to share with you, Grand Confessor, in private."

Maybe she really was in a volcanic mine. It was a fairly heartwarming thought at least.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Jacqueline "Blue Switch"
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Today was an excellent day for Mantrid, so far it had been an excellent month for Mantrid, having had two alien specimens to study and make his own.

Jacqueline had been taken from her holding facility on Tal'dor via secured transport to the Aschen home world of Langara, though Caprica City's wide streets and towering skyscrapers only greeted the former blue switch for a short period of time before she was taken to the special projects area to be placed under the care of Dr. Mantrid Heytri.

He loomed over the young woman with surgical mask and loupes obscuring most of his face; he was preparing to have ceramic-carbide grafted to her skeleton, the same procedure Ayla had underwent weeks earlier.

"This will only hurt a bit, but when you wake up, you will probably be in searing pain." Mantrid said quietly, as the sedative made it's way into the IV that was previously placed in her arm.

"Good night..." Mantrid said quietly.

Darkness would envelope Jacqueline, and she would likely wake up feeling as if every bone in her body is on fire, small, minute scars adorned her arms, and legs as the procedure was completed, and the healing nanites slowly repaired her flesh.

When the anesthetic wore off, Mantrid was administering small injections into every muscle, and the burning serum made it's way through her musculature, causing violent spasms as the muscle fibers were augmented on the nano scale.

"Yes... the body is taking to the enhancements quite well..." Mantrid said quietly.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Jacqueline "Blue Switch" Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama Character Portrait: Appollonia
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Despite the scene before her, a masked surgeon with many cruel and otherwise interesting tools, she was calm. Whatever came was for the better... Jacqu_ No...Appollonia was convinced of this. The sedative kicked in and her perception of the world went numb. There was no resistance...She let herself fall, trusting that she would rise again.

"Goodnight." Mantrid said quietly, and the spell was cast. Appollonia slept.

The wake was sudden. The reaction was involuntary... There was a shriek, an inhumane howl of anguish. Every fiber of her being was aching. Her bones were burning, each muscular spasm brought another wave of unaccustomed and expected pain. It only escalated. But it was not only the vessel that was being ripped asunder...No Appollonia even felt a pain beyond that. A spirit within her was screaming too... And that made her happy.

In her mind she stood over a dying Blue Switch...thinking of how she should have died back in the Aurora chair room. Both were being put to the flame now, but one was melting into order so that it may harden into a stronger metal and the other was evaporating. There was no pity in her gaze as she looked down at the apparition before her. It was not worthy of inciting emotion in her and so she bid it farewell with one final statement, one final observation.

"Your weeping...groaning...gnashing your teeth. This hurts you no..not just that...this is killing you? Despite the misery this incites in the vassal, my ears hears something. A rallying cry. A Champion Sound. Believe! Believe!..."



"Yes... the body is taking to the enhancements quite well..." Mantrid said quietly.



"Your godsleave you to die. My Gods reassure me, guide my steps, and urge me forward...Now die in silence, treasonous aspect of a weak and false god .".

The outward appearance of the body, and vessel, had not been altered but the identity that resided inside was no longer Jacqueline...Appollonia was taking her first breathes of air, the tears she shed now were like those shed by a newborn, and much like a newborn she could not fully understand her body...

But this too would pass, eventually. In her mind, Appollonia saw all the efforts that they had taken to awaken her, to let her be birthed into the world, as debt. As she was now she could not repay them, living up to her oath of allegiance was impossible. And that thought seemed cruel to her...tormented her. She rejected it, a fire igniting within her. As one of the Emperor's tools...she would not permit herself to be worthless. For him, she would prove her value and pay the debt back tenfold. If he was the swordsmen, she would be the sword, an extension of him. Yet as she was now...
Prince had no need for such a dull and worthless blade!


Her hands balled up into fists, the fingers dug into her palms, her nails dug into the flesh. Blood flowed and bones fractured and even broke to be healed moments after. A revelation crept into her mind. She was not too weak...It was the opposite. She was too strong. Even breathing seemed to make her ache. Had she tried to stand, she would have launched herself and crashed into the wall. It was relieving that she was not worthless in that since but... Still such a blade, one that could not control it's cut, would be dangerous to the Emperor as well. That thought angered her as well. An image flashed in her mind. Ayla's disappointed face, her voice confessing disappointment in her failure to live up to her expectations, for admitting aloud that she believed in her and for having dove into the pit to drag Appollonia out...Ayla would regret having made such efforts wouldn't she?

" I will not cut him should he wield me. I must gain control. Calm yourself...this is your body...this is your strength...own it!"

Her face became devoid of expression, empty eyes looked at mantrid. A monotone voice reached out to Mantrid. "I am thankful for this blessing, the power bestowed upon me. However I fear as I am now, I would harm even you if I were to attempt standing. Harming servants of the Emperor whom perform their task as he willed is contradictory to his wishes...and my own...".

After explaining her sudden restraint and lack of effort, despite the persisting but slowly diminishing pain. She pondered for a moment and asked the Doctor. "I need to fully grasp what I am capable of... Down to even how many calories my resting heart rate would consume per minute...even the blinking of my eyes...I need to know so I can control this...I need to know so I may properly serve. Please...tell me all that you know of me until it is etched into my memory. Unless such is forbidden? Have I mis-spoken Doctor?".

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Jacqueline "Blue Switch" Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama Character Portrait: Appollonia
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Mantrid quietly took a few readings with his medical probe, finishing the injections into her muscles, which meant the pain would inevitably die down, and the muscles would become far more conditioned.

"I grafted a Ceramic-Carbide compound to your bones..." Mantrid said, tapping a few keys in his portable computer. "I'm injecting you with a dose of growth hormone and combat nanites, they will enhance your musculature, and condition your new body." Mantrid said, turning a screen to face Appollonia.

"You'll be given enhancements to your blood, and you'll be given some other conditioning treatments in the coming weeks." Mantrid said, undoing the restraints.

"You'll have to learn your new body though, slowly, and one step at a time." He added.

With a swift movement, Mantrid moved to undo Appollonia's restraints, snapping the trinnium restraints open, and allowing the woman to step out of her bed, what she would find was that her legs moved with little effort, and without proper control, like Ayla before her, she was liable to propel herself forward and launch herself into the wall if she wasn't careful.

"Easy..." Mantrid said, slowly trying to ease Appollonia out of the bed, while a news report was on the screen, detailing the most recent events, showing that Ayla had been killed by Terrans.

Mantrid simply frowned, he had invested so much time, and energy into that woman.

"Those damn terrans..." He muttered to himself, before returning to the task at hand.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Jacqueline "Blue Switch" Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama Character Portrait: Appollonia
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Calm and in control. That was what Appollonia focused on being and as the Doctor spoke, he unknowingly reinforced those two guiding principles. She had a small test of her own strength when she had clenched her own fists, her nails dug into her flesh and she even caused some fractures, but this was nothing now. With knowledge from this and the words of the Doctor to base her assumptions off of, Appollonia figured it would be best to start from 0 and increase the effort necessary until the task of standing up could be executed efficiently and without causing harm to herself and others.

It started as...nothing...then tremors all throughout her body as Appollonia activated the muscles in her body to perform the task. No doubt in Appollonia's mind she must have seemed ridiculous. The amount of concentration required for her to exert this little amount of energy and increase it little by little was exhausting...mentally exhausting. By the time she was able to sit herself up, she felt drained. Who knew that tasks she could execute previously with her subconscious could be so arduous? Still even this insignificant amount of success was progress and something she was proud off. She had sat up without harming herself or Doctor Mantrid, in her mind she was smiling. Physically she reflected no emotion...it was almost as if she was an AI given a body and was still processing the world around her and her own body with the sensors it had.

When the news came on the monitor, Appollonia was fixated with placing her legs on the ground and having them support her body weight. It was of little concern to her until they mentioned the attack on the Emperor and how Ayla died. Her legs gave out from under her and she slammed into the floor, her arms moved instinctively to dampen her fall which resulted in a small crater from the amount of force she used.

Her heart felt pain. It ached and she wanted to cry but she knew better. Now she knew better. A part of her wanted to be able to tell Ayla of the feelings she harbored, a part of her wanted to become something she could confess being proud of but even if she were alive, this may not have been possible. Still this did not mean she could not rise to the occasion. Ayla died to protect the Emperor. Appollonia would cherish her memories of this woman, few they may be, and honor her by striving to do the same.

Ayla lost her life defending the Emperor. Appollonia must also be willing to do this...an easy task but no one would ever need to sacrifice themselves for the Emperor, if his enemies were bloody smears on the floors. That is what Appollonia must become...a shield able to withstand any blow meant for Prince...A sword capable of striking down any foe that came for him. Slowly Appollonia resumed to her ardous task of standing.

"I apologize, Doctor... I will do my best to master these gifts so that I may be of some actual worth to the Aschen Empire and to Our Emperor.".

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marlene Angel Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Appollonia
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"In time..." Mantrid said. "You will serve this empire with honor and distinction." He said, backing up several paces to allow the woman to stand.

"Your file says that you learn by watching others, you mimic their movements, and make theirs your own." Mantrid said, wheeling a cart with a holographic screen, only to be interrupted by the clack of high heels, there was an ominous silence that seemed to suffocate the room with which Mantrid, and Appollonia were in.

There was a blonde at the other end of the room, a rather attractive woman who moved with purpose, like a well attuned dancer. Each sway of her hips, each movement of her legs was planned, and executed.

"Ahh... M... I was wondering when Isambard was going to send you." Mantrid said, while Marlene turned to face Appollonia.

"Ayla is not the path to ascension." The woman said coldly. "The Emperor has instructed me to train you, and train you with everything I know.." Marlene said calmly, before gesturing for Appollonia to stand.

"I want you to attack me, and I want you to not hold back, use all of your strength." The woman ordered.

"Mantrid... please stand back." Marlene said, moving swiftly into a fighting stance.

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Character Portrait: Marlene Angel Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Appollonia
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The order was simple.

"I want you to attack me, and I want you to not hold back, use all of your strength."

Yet as Appollonia took her time to stand herself up, a thought roamed in her mind. Is she certain of this? It was clear that this Marlene was Appollonia's senior...and her being here was the will of the Emperor. Yet she asked Apple to strike her. In her current condition that would be impossible? Can I do this?

"Your file says that you learn by watching others, you mimic their movements, and make theirs your own." Mantrid said.

The words echoed in her mind and from them she gained confidence. Of course she could do this! She just needed to review what she had seen and use this as her foundation. Appollonia who still struggled to stand, suddenly rose to her feet. With eyes closed she envisioned Marlene coming into the room, her mind's eye fixated on how her legs moved so fluidly, purposefully, effortlessly. Then she opened her eyes and took in her stance, analyzing it. The martial art which this stance originated from was foreign to Appollonia...but without hindrance, she absorbed it too. Her movements flowed like water, what was originally described by Mantrid as mimicry showed it's true form. How Appollonia stood was not an imitation of Marlene's stance, it was a perfect mirror reflection...the only thing missing was Marlene's Goddess like appearance.

The foundation had been laid out. Now to build on it. A flash of memories from her past life flushed through her, the repetitive beatings from Lochlyn, from Red, and how she beat her enemies. A boxing match she watched while hunting someone. A Kung Fu Demonstration she saw while passing down a street.... Appollonia adapted a Boxing Stance but her hands were not balled up into fists, they looked more like claws. There was an intensity in her eyes that she had not previously shown to the Doctor, that she was showing to Marlene.

The look a Predator focusing on the Prey before it. Nothing else existed but Marlene and Appollonia. Mantrid was not even in the room, as far as she was concerned. It was a dangerous look and accompanying it was a smile. It was faint but it was present...and it was malevolent.

Appollonia looked like a professional when she struck at Marlene. Drawing power from her feet and transferring it up, her entire body was thrown into motion to throw this open palm strike. Her fingers were pointed forward and the target was Marlene's throat. The smile grew as an image came into her mind, it was Marlene's beautiful body...lying on the ground...the only thing missing was her throat. Apple was already picturing in her mind what would happen when her strike connected. Fingers, strengthened by micro fractures she had made and healed over years, dug into her throat like a actual claws and once in she would close her hand. Whatever flesh was caught in her grip she would rip out as her arm instinctively retreated to bring up her guard. This was what Marlene had ordered her to do...to attack with all that she had and all that Appollonia had was killing intent and blood lust. Fortunately this was kept on an unbreakable leash that was her indoctrination to follow the Emperor and her oone sided reverence of Ayla's affection.

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Character Portrait: Marlene Angel Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Appollonia
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Time literally seemed to slow down from Marlene's perspective the moment she ordered Appollonia to attack her. She watched muscles tense, and flex in what seemed like real time in Marlene's mind, slow motion from her starting point, to her lunge to attack.

The IIA Operative didn't flinch, she didn't recoil, and she most definitely didn't allow the hit to connect.

It would seem, through Appollonia's move towards Marlene, gravity became less, and less perceptible, it was becoming more difficult to secure her footing, with less gravity meant her foot had less traction.

When she struck, Marlene's form seemed to be as if smoke, the fist moving through smoke unimpeded.

Marlene was standing just to the side of Appollonia, casually watching as she sailed past Marlene, driving her fist into thin air where Marlene once stood.

The minds eye began to envision some things, exerting it's will on the fabric of reality which twisted and turned around the Adept, sending her careening into an adjacent wall.

"Are you blind?" Marlene said coldly. "Hit me." She demanded, while feeling something nagging at the edges of her astral consciousness.

Her lips pursed, but she retained her focus back on Appollonia, while actively projecting her mind elsewhere, interceding on external forces, keeping Appollonia grounded into the here and now, grounded into reality in front of her.

"The true nature of a man is decided in the battle between his conscious mind and the desires of the subconscious." Marlene said smoothly.

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama
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Special Projects Headquarters
Some time Later


Prince quietly mused over the large poster of Big Brother that hung imposingly in the hallway of the Special Projects HQ. He had come to check up on an experimental new program that Mantrid was working on.

The Emperor had something big planned, a final act against the enemies of the Aschen Empire before ceding power to his new successor.

He waited in silence, save for the hum of the brilliant fluorescent lights of the hallway, for his Confessor to join him.

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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It was strange, almost surreal, to walk the halls of the Special Projects HQ again. To Ayla it was a lot like returning to the hospital she was born in, not that her home world even had such amenities. This pilgrimage was far more litetal as well, the very tube that remade her was probably still on, an functioning just s few rooms away. She passed through the halls in silence, head tilted down to stare at her own feet the whole way. She was barely aware of each guard she passed, each salute given, or gotten along the way. Too deep down the rabbithole of her own mind to care.

A small part of her wanted to reach out, and nudge EVE. The A.I was by, and large the most stable pillar in her life these days. Ever present reliability had an oddly reassuring affect on the Confessor, a side effect of a chaotic, isolated life no doubt.

She couldn't bring herself to, though, not even as she passed a large, crumpled dent in the reinforced steel wall. The closest thing she had to a birthmark. She realized she was becoming reliant on the A.I as her desire to reach out peaked. The very fabric of her being fought it tooth, and nail. It was weakness, softness, and most of all disturbing. EVE wasn't real, wasn't a person, hell it was oppressive surveillance equipment with a deliberately soothing voice. That made her chuckle a little, startling the guard she happened to be passing by.

"Inhuman birds of a feather," thought the Confessor as she offered the man a reassuring smile. Feigning pleasentness was one of the first things Kesslee taught her. "Carry on, soldier," she intoned.

The rest of the walk was a blurr, and it wasn't long before she was within sight of Prince. Her heart unabashedly skipped as she attempted eye contact with her defacto master. Being near him always strengthened her resolve, made her want to prove herself as much as possible with every deed - and drowned her in shame. It had been like that ever since..Since.. She shook her head, closing the gap between them with a hurried stride.

"My Lord," Ayla bowed respectfully, although in truth part of her didn't want to meet Prince's gaze up close, and personal like this. She didn't want to see the contempt she felt she deserved, not from the man who gave her a chance. A purpose. "It is..Good to see you again, your Grace." She straightened out quickly, and "inconspicuously" busied herself righting her robes. "But I must admit, this is quite the surprise. I was told to report to Mantrid without warning, or reason. I didn't expect you of all people to be here."

She had in fact expected Kesslee, and was quite thankful he wasn't there. She couldn't face him, not yet, not even remotely. Ayla hadn't even spoken to the Grand Confessor yet.

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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Prince remained silent, considering the future of the Empire, pondering it's magnitude, and his own plans for the future as well. The Confessor had proven herself to him, and through deliberation with Hagan, and Kesslee, through EVE, he was ready for her to begin the next step.

"You have become one of our most treasured instruments, Confessor." Prince said, moving towards a door that was closed tightly, the door to the labs known as Project Daedalus.

"You have carried out the will of the living state, unflinchingly." Prince said calmly, reassuringly as the door opened with an audible hiss, revealing a sterile white laboratory inside, a single bed where the procedure was to take place, beside it, bags of a strange blue substance, that seemed to shimmer in the fluorescent light.

Mantrid was making his final preparations, a his white labcoat fluttering with his movements.

"You will shed your armor, and be the first to harvest the fruits of Project Daedalus." Prince said, gesturing towards the room. "And then... you will be set loose against the one who calls himself Thrawn, along with all those who serve him, and his family, those closest to him... you will be set loose with my blessing."

Prince slowly turned towards the Confessor.

"He must be silenced; for the good of the living state, for the good of Big Brother."

Taking a breath, the Emperor continued.

"This procedure will grant you abilities beyond your wildest imagination, abilities you must hone to a razor's edge if you are to succeed."

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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The sudden praise shocked Ayla, and it took no marginal amount of effort to maintain her cold composure as Prince opened the door. This sort of thing was as foreign as possible to her, Lochlyn had been the sort of man to issue a merciless beating for an assassination carried out flawlessly after all. All to maintain his imposed sense of superiority, and mask his fear of those beneath him rising up in revolt. Prince couldn't have been more different, and Ayla couldn't help but genuinely admire him in the moment. Everything other "Emperors," even Shimizu, proclaimed about themselves, Prince truly was. He had real confidence, an honest, unflinching sense of security.

What others wore as masks he embodied, and for a moment Ayla was saddened by his impending abdication.

Still, gathering her thoughts, and swelling with pride, she cast a careful glance around the room. She'd never even heard of this project, which immediately gave it a sense of gravity, and with how uncomfortable the glowing fluid made her, she knew it must've been under the absolute pinnacle of information security. Possibly even arcane by the way her skin crawled, although maybe that was just being near Mantrid. He still gave her the creeps, although a begrudging respect for the man had set in over time. Her Adept capabilities merited it.

Ayla took a hesitant step in, unsure of how to feel about the phrase 'abilities beyond the wildest imaginations." The image of Marlene sprang to her mind immediately, but she did her best to push such worries aside. This opportunity was, if she was being honest, exactly what she wanted. Since the incident she'd pushed herself to the limit, and beyond. When given a task she wouldn't eat, sleep, or relent a step until it was complete, straining even her transhuman physiology to a point of breaking. More than once EVE had to coerice her into basic self-care.

Finally finding her voice, Ayla asked the only thing she could: "Truly your Grace? Me?" As hard as she worked to wash the stain of her failure away, and as much as she had craved a chance like this, the thought of it actually happening was never more than a dream to her. "I cannot imagine I deserve such an honour, but you know what I do not."

"I will undergo whatever you ask of me, especially to better carry out the will of the Empire...And to crush Thrawn." Doing as she was bid, Ayla walked over the table, and went about disrobing for whatever Mantrid had in store.

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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Prince maintained his stone faced expression while Mantrid made final preparations for the procedure to begin.

Slowly, the scientist reached for the bag of dark blue chemicals, as well as a few assorted vials of other liquids, one of them happened to be blood, cleansed of proteins, and other antigens.

Once Ayla had finished disrobing, Mantrid moved closer, resting a hand on her shoulder to ease her towards the chair.

"We'll start with a small infusion of genetic material, followed by nanomachines designed to copy and paste the new genetic material into your genome." Mantrid explained. "Pure Alteran genes harvested from Marlene Angel post Ascension." Mantrid said with a smile.

"We'll follow up with a mind enhancing drug, to fully unlock your newfound potential."

Prince moved swiftly towards a plate of blast resistant glass, as Mantrid moved to ease Ayla into the chair.

"The procedure is painless; are we ready?"

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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Mantrid's hands felt cold on her bare skin, forcing an involuntary shudder from Ayla. Most people operated at a much lower temperature than her due to her slew of augments, but the scientist's fingers were like icy death. Or maybe that was just fear? Either way, as Mantrid explained the procedure Ayla laid back on the exam table, and did her best to maintain her outward calm. Learning that her assumption about Marlene being involved didn't exactly help with that, and the thought of sharing the woman's genome wasn't exactly thrilling. A thousand questions flew through her mind.

"Will I no longer be any part of my native species?" She asked, purposely holding back her more pressing questions. Will that make Marlene my sister? Or would I be a progeny? Will I go crazier?

She locked her gaze with Prince through the glass, offering him nothing but an expression set in steely determination. It made perfect sense now, this was obviously insanely dangerous, and bleeding edge, almost science fiction, even for the Aschen. Her Emperor probably expected her to die, or worse, and either way it would advance the medical, and military might of the Empire. Perhaps martyrdom would be the absolution she sought. Ayla shook her head, vague images of her homeworld shattering as she did, "I suppose it won't matter though, right? Maybe I'll truly be Aschen now. Alright Doctor, I'm all yours. Again."

Funny enough as her eyes closed, and she braced for the first injection, all Ayla really wanted was a few seconds on a comm-link. A few seconds to tell EVE goodbye, just in case.

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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Mantrid made the final preparations in an almost methodical manner, checking and double checking that the ratios in the mixtures were correct.

"Of course, how peculiar that you would ask me that question..." Mantrid said, reassuringly. "We're only editing a tiny portion of your genome, less than a fraction of a percent." The Scientist explained, placing the vial inside a syringe, then he placed it against a prominent vein within Ayla's arm. "I've refined the infusion across several test subjects, but you'll be the... third human trial."

Mantrid withheld the fact that the first test subject after Harkov died a violent death, as their body digested itself, and the second one went insane, and then brain-dead from the sensory overload.

"I'm hoping your Adept physiology will be able to tolerate the enhancements, I've had marginal success on human test subjects acquired from Terra..." Mantrid explained, placing the IV inside Ayla's arm. The IV itself was hooked to a clear bag of sterile saline solution.

"You're very special, Ayla." Mantrid said, smiling. "If this is a success... it will propel the War Adept program to new; unimaginable heights!"

He slid the first syringe into a valve in the IV line, the clear fluid mixed with the saline, and began to travel into the body.

So far the procedure was, other than the needle prick of the IV, nearly painless.

A strange itch followed, that flowed from the arm, and into the entire body, engulfing Ayla in a hypersensitivity that was previously unknown, incomprehensible. The nanites began their work quickly, distributing themselves among the tissues of the body.

The next drug followed, a brilliant, and almost iridescent liquid that seemed to shimmer in the light of the laboratory, this was the most important part of the procedure, a part of the procedure that would find Ayla engulfed in a searing burning sensation that stretched from the arm, and engulfed the entire body. Muscles began to change, bones cracked and reformed themselves almost instantaneously. Cells, worked with nanites and began to transform the body. It was at that moment Mantrid introduced a powerful, and fast acting sedative intramuscularly, likely inducing immediate, and profound unconsciousness.

---

One couldn't be sure how much time would lapse, but when Ayla awakened, the pain was gone, and Mantrid was at her side, now wearing a thin metal device around his head that was easily recognized as a psychic inhibitor. Prince wore a similar device.

Mantrid briefly checked her eyes, shining a penlight and checking one eye, and then another.

There would be no perceptible differences, except many of the enhancements seemed less prominent.

She would likely be weaker, physically, as many of the muscle enhancements had been rejected by the procedure. And while she couldn't crush steel with her fists, she had some new abilities. The subtle details in Mantrid's face were more prominent, as if looking at him through high definition. Everything in the room was sharper, clearer than even an Adept's eyes could see.

Did the fluorescent lights always seem to buzz so loudly?

Intuition, a sharpness, Mantrid was going to hand her a spoon. But he hadn't done so.

Picking a spoon up on the tray, Mantrid took it, and inspected it, before he handed it to Ayla.

"Bend the spoon." Mantrid instructed.

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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Ayla's eyes fluttered open serenely, as if completely unaware of her surroundings, or what had just transpired. In truth the searing agony of the final injections, a distinctive feeling mirroring live flames being pumped through her blood, was easily shut out of her mind. The all-at-once Adept augmentation was a little worse, and she hadn't been given the mercy of painkillers back then, dulling her sensitivity greatly. The sudden, and startling shift in her vision gave her something else to focus on as well, every line, and wrinkle of Mantrid's face was crisp as could be, each pore was distinctly visible if she squinted. Something she had to do to focus at all now, her sight was clouded by a million thin, shimmering bands of light radiating from seemingly everywhere.

The damned ceiling lights had clearly been turned up too, practically blinding her if she glanced upwards.

That was when her mind tugged her towards the doctor, an involuntary, knee-jerk reaction as he started to move. Or, was that before he started to move..? She couldn't tell, for some reason time seemed distorted, warped. A strong sense of déjà vu gripped her as Mantrid seemed to reach for an instrument twice, yet alone picked it up once. What the hell was happening? When the doctor commanded her to bend it she offered a puzzled expression while desperately searching for her voice.

"...Bend it?" Sitting up she finally croaked it out, although she could've sworn she'd asked, and been answered a thousand different times, and ways before the final syllables passed her lips. Oddly enough her voice was different, too. A pitch, or so higher, the tine softer. A sharp sense of intuition told Ayla that her musculature had changed, and dramatically. Her body did feel different, but she had no reason to believe it, and yet..

She wasn't an Adept anymore.

Shaking her head a little she did her best to ignore it, and comply. It was such a simple command, and she pictured herself bending the flimsy metal clearly as she reached out to take the spoon. Even without a ceramicossified skeleton, and steel tensile muscles it wouldn't take much effort. A few quick flexes of her hand, and it would be a V-shaped piece of scra- With a piercingly loud creaking sound the spoon twisted itself into a gnarled pretzel before she could even touch it. Shocked, she blinked at Mantrid, squinting profusely to meet his eyes in the blinding light. There was only one question on her mind now.

"What. The. Fuck?"

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Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Isambard Prince Character Portrait: Confessor Ayla
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Mantrid looked at the spoon with both a bemused, and satisfied look upon his face, before reaching towards his checklist. She not only seemed to demonstrate psychokinetics, but she demonstrated them very quickly after infusion. Mantrid seemed to smile, as he began to anticipate the program becoming a success, and a new breed of soldier ready to take on the manifold enemies of the Emperor was about to come to fruition.

Mantrid moved suddenly, and in all possible realities he was reaching for a set of flashcards, Mantrid didn't look at them, rather he looked up at Ayla.

"Try to relax, try to focus, and tell me what the first flash card will be." He said, as visions of Mantrid showing Ayla a flashcard with a car, and then a boat, and then an airplane, in that order seemed to flit across.

"Precognition... this early in the process... how peculiar times two..." Mantrid said, as visions of Mantrid suddenly tossing a ball for Ayla to catch followed, only to culminate into Mantrid suddenly tossing a small rubber ball towards Ayla without warning.

Prince was visibly impressed.

"You have exceeded my wildest expectations... psychokinesis, and precognition, within minutes of infusion!? How peculiar... times three..."

Mantrid set a lead ingot on the table in front of Ayla.

"Rearrange the atomic structure of this metal, into whatever object you choose."

Such an odd request.

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Character Portrait: Narim Plishkin Character Portrait: Mantrid Character Portrait: Henry Flynn Character Portrait: Xanril Gellantara, Thief Extraordinaire Character Portrait: Melanthe Character Portrait: Jacqueline "Blue Switch" Character Portrait: Ayla Kayama Character Portrait: Theodore O'Quinn
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There was a young, sharply dressed receptionist seated at the desk, tapping away at a flickering, soft holographic screen, manipulating icons, and entering in text.

She hardly looked up, the lights of the screen reflecting on a pair of glasses she was wearing, where additional information was displayed on a sort of heads up display.

"Yes, here you are. Dr. Mantrid is ready for you." She said, tapping at the screen, before she handed him a piece of paper, a simple medical disclosure, and a checklist to make sure he was current on all his vaccinations.

"Just sign the forms here... and here." She said, pointing to the paper.