Oleksandra’s face scrunched up around her mouth and nose as she reached for the ground with her toes again. She was a very unhappy bunny stuck in the air. Isaac projected his voice a little louder than normal to cross the distance. “Can you get down?”
Oleksandra stared down between her feet and squirmed. “A fall from this height risks personal injury. Please recall me into my pokeball.”
Isaac wasn’t sure if she would suffer any injury given how much more strength and durability she possessed. It was only a five or six meter drop but the biggest issue was she didn’t know she could afford to be brave. What experience had she been through to inform her she could now suffer roughly five times greater impact before harm? What exertion had she applied to demonstrate to herself that the muscles in her legs could generate, and therefore absorb, three times more work? Isaac didn’t have the heart to force the issue so he’d try reasoning. “You don’t need to fall, just fly down.”
“Vectoring force downward will increase velocity compared to a freefall. Your recommendation only increases the risk of personal injury.” Oleksandra’s words so far held minimal tone but these ones certainly weren’t lightly colored by one that suggested distrust in Isaac’s proposal. Not that he had meant for her to fly straight downward but in spite of her choice of diction it was rather obvious she wasn’t thinking clearly from the fear. She was stuck in a situation that felt horrible and the context was priming her to think horrible thoughts.
Isaac turned to the oldest and most capable pokegirls present. Perhaps Elena, Chandrakanta, Astoreth, or Sergeant Letitia could help him. “I need to get her to calm down before we can get any further. Is there any way I could get up closer to her? I don’t want to give up and recall her just yet.”
Astoreth was watching the Battle Angel suspended in the air with a half nasty, half friendly grin. A conflicted expression of pleasure witnessing fear and helplessness while knowing that the perceived danger was really nothing at all. Her wings snapped open to their full span at the same time they manifested from nothing but acrib blue smoke. “I could fly you up.”
“Star, you fly with your wings.” Astoreth scowled at Chandrakanta’s gentle rebuke. “You’ve never practiced a steady hover. You’d be bouncing Isaac with every stroke. Let me levitate him up there.”
Astoreth crossed her arms tightly across her chest and then folded her wings over her crossed arms. “Fine.”
Chandrakanta took Isaac’s hand and he felt a warm tingle spread from the contact up through his arm into his torso. The delicate lifting sensation was smoother than a luxury elevator and quickly placed Isaac up in the air at eye level with his minorly imperiled pokegirl. “Hey Leksi.”
Oleksandra’s ears flopped from a flick when the voice of her tamer lifted her mood ever so briefly. She reached out towards him as she responded. “Master. I would appreciate reaffirming physical contact.”
She what? Isaac played the words back to himself from his memory and then realized what she wanted and hugged the Battle Angel. He could feel the tension leaving her through her armor plating. “Okay Leksi, can you explain to me what you’re doing right now to stay in the air?”
“I cannot. You instructed me to fly. I consulted my memories from Beru-”
Isaac interrupted her because he’d never heard that name before “Beru?”
“Beru was the designation of the Zeromer whose nanites bonded with me to produce the Battle Template. I was able to determine how to engage my armor’s flight systems based on her memories however… Master, I would like to be on the ground now.”
Isaac’s only experience with flight was involving old fixed winged aircraft and a singular helicopter tour. Oleksandra’s lift obviously wasn’t being generated based on aerofoil technology since she’d been holding the exact same position with zero airspeed for minutes now. “We’re working on that Leksi. Can you describe how you’re flying at all?”
Oleksandra slowly spun around in a half circle to present her back. There was an interlocking section of plates built up over her spine. Two roughly trapezoid shaded panels were extending from this new paneling to cover her shoulder blades and at one of the outermost vertices was a small spherical pod. Another string of plates formed something like a girdle around her hips and two more round pods were attached to her armor there as well. “I am able to negate and alter the accelerating influence of gravity using these four devices. I have currently set them to apply a vector that has effectively nullified the influence of Terra’s gravitational well. This is how I have achieved a stable holding pattern.”
Isaac thanked his fortune for the enhanced cognition the Battle Template offered. He had sufficient knowledge of physics to speak the same language and propose a solution. “Okay Leksi, this is what I want you to try. Reduce the magnitude of the vectors you’re generating by a little bit. Gravity will accelerate you towards the ground but you can adjust the vectors to move as fast or slow as you want, right?”
The Battle Angel’s eyes seemed too big and round as her ears lifted back to partial standing. “Your assumptions are correct. I will attempt to execute the maneuver.” Ever so slowly Oleksandra began her descent. Her concentration was completely focused on the ground once again and her feet started to fidget more and more as the soil of the ground reached higher and higher up towards them. Chandrakanta’s levitation enchantment brought Isaac down at the same rate. Oleksandra dropped the last meter and after absorbing the little bit of shock the rabbit-eared tech pokegirl was bouncing happily on her heels. She pulled Isaac into another hug when he touched down a few seconds later. “Thank you Master.”
“Isaac doesn’t like being called Master,” Jin said as she folded her arms in a manner very similar to Astoreth.
The Battle Angel looked to the human present. “Is this true?”
Isaac scratched near his jaw. “It is a little weird. I do like being called Isaac more.”
“Understood, I will refer to you as Isaac from now on. As we are on the topic of personal designations, I have an inquiry.”
Oleksandra was looking at Isaac so he responded. “Okay, what is it?”
“While I am not opposed to truncating my name to generate a diminutive for expedient communication, given that Oleksandra comes from the Slavic languages, I believe ‘Leksya’ would be more appropriate than ‘Leksi.’ If this is acceptable.”
Isaac shrugged. It wasn’t really a difference in the number of syllables so long as one blended the sounds together and she was right that the -ya ending was more culturally appropriate. “Sure, I’ll keep that in mind, Leksya.” Oleksandra smiled in response to Isaac using her suggestion.
Sergeant Letitia stepped forward. “Well, that’s the second successful test. Why don’t we evaluate her mobility on the ground now? If she recently evolved to a Battle Angel she also will be much faster than she’s used to.”
Isaac turned to the Battle Battle Angel. “Sure, Leksya. You up for some running?”
Oleksandra smiled confidently and her ears were standing proudly. “I am capable of running.”
Sergeant Letitia pointed to a pile of rubble on the opposite side of the massive depression in the ground. “Why don’t you run a sprint to that burned out cart and back, see how fast you can make it.” Oleksandra responded by shooting off. She crossed the relatively short distance in a few bounds, her lithe and long legs devouring the distance with every stride. She skidded through the gravel for quite a distance before turning and covering the ground again just as quickly.
“You are correct. I am much faster than before.” The big smile stretching across the Battle Angel’s face brightened her words up more than her tone, which was always rather subdued.
Sergeant Letitia was still watching speculatively. “Yes, that would have been faster than when you were a Bunnygirl, but that was only fast enough to be in the upper range of a speed factor of five. As an untyped Battle Angel you possess a speed factor of eight.”
Oleksandra looked back at the cart wreckage that had marked the distance. “I will not be able to attain my maximum velocity over such a short distance. Unless…” One ear fell at a slant as she studied the ground she was to cover. “I am going to conduct an experiment.” The Battle Battle Angel shot off again, but this time she stayed much lower to the ground. It was unnatural to look at the way her body was moving, never rising in spite of the great force she was pushing herself upright and forwards with. She completed the 180 degree turn on a dime, dashed back to where everyone was spectating and was done in less than a second. Her first attempt had taken a little more than two.
There was a natural sort of joy people experienced when they witnessed an incredible display or drastic improvement and that was the feeling everyone Oleksandra stopped in front of was becoming filled with. “How did you do that?” Isaac asked.
“I engaged my flight systems to assist with generating traction and prepare for changing direction. I am able to move much more efficiently, especially when altering my course.” Oleksandra’s explanation conjured in Isaac’s mind a brief image of her armor modified with racing spoilers for automobiles. The small wings on the cars were upside down compared to those that generated lift on an aeroplane, pushing the chassis down and allowing the tires to achieve greater grip. It sounded like the same principle Oleksandra had used.
Sergeant Letitia glanced at her data screen and shrugged. “I’ve got nothing about that tactic here but that definitely seems like something you should continue working on with her, cadet. You’ll need somewhere with more space for her to really stretch her legs out though.” She dragged her finger across the screen to pan the display. “Would you like to move on to weapon systems now?” Isaac nodded and Oleksandra’s ears slapped together when she copied the gesture. “Alright, well, first of all, even without the Battle Template she should be able to create a close range weapon using her Battle Angel powers.”
“Alright Leksya, melee weapon.”
The Battle Angel cocked her head to the side but performed little else. “Melee weapon?”
“Something to hit enemies with if they get too close to shoot.”
Oleksandra’s mouth opened in an unspoken, ‘Oh,’ and a meter long metal bar appeared in her hands. She held it up for Isaac to inspect. “Melee weapon.”
Isaac pulled out his own pokedex and brought up the entry on the Battle Angel. “That would work but usually Battle Angels can produce a more complex weapon. Can you modify it so it’s better suited to dealing damage?” Oleksandra turned the club over in her hands before it receded into her armor. She manifested it again, this time instead of a plain bar of uniform thickness it had a weighty knob at the business end and was a few centimeters longer. It was a more effective iteration but still had millenia of weapons technology to catch up to.
Sergeant Letitia nodded. “Functional. You should also be able to channel your plasma techniques through any melee attacks you perform.”
Oleksandra held the crude mace out to the side, her arm extended fully from the shoulder. There was a coronal flare at the head and the air was filled with a humming, crackling sound and peculiar odor. Oleksandra stretched her arm further away from herself as her ears fell away from the incandescent armament in her hands. Her face was stretched tightly from a scowl of discomfort. Everyone else, except for Sergeant Letitia, was shielding their eyes from the harsh rays cast by the plasma shell around the head of the bludgeon. “Okay, that’s a viable execution of the Plasma Strike technique. You can stop now, some of the radiation wavelengths can rather quickly cause minor burns and other tissue damage.” Oleksandra was happy to follow Sergeant Letitia’s instruction.
The Mecha Musume scrolled further down the list before stopping and shaking her head. “This next part is going to be tricky to confirm. The Battle template can produce comparable armaments to the GunValkyrie breed but there’s even less consistency from individual to individual when it comes to specific loadouts. I don’t suppose Oleksandra could tell us what weapon systems she has available when armored up.”
Oleksandra’s eyes went unfocused and she remained completely still except for an occasional twitch or swivel in one of her ears. “The Zeromer’s memories indicate I have access to several weapon systems. I will deploy them now. Please stand back.” There was a visual explosion of metal from Oleksandra’s right hip panel, right back plate, and both forearm guards. Actuators, chambers, barrels, triggers, grips, and more military components assembled themselves from nothing. There was too much happening in too many locations to take in all of the information and a second later when Oleksandra’s armor returned to stillness she was unevenly burdened by four attached heavy weapons.
All four possessed the same crude-yet-functional gunmetal aesthetic that the rest of Oleksandra’s armor was characterized by. Each was mounted on at least two mechanical limbs and appeared capable of a wide range of motion as well as telescoping in and out to adjust their length.
The cannon off of her hip was essentially the same as when she had deployed it to fire for the first time. It was a series of long cylinders fused together to make a barrel and chamber with a centre grip coming off the middle and a trigger grip towards the back. It all rested on a half ring positioned underneath and behind the centre grip that attached to the mechanical arms extending from the panel the cannon had sprung from.
A weapon that resembled a rifle was sprouting from her right shoulder blade, a wing which lacked a partner in order to achieve symmetry. It had a long and slender barrel and much less heft to the portion of the gun where the energy round would be formed and projected from. A black box with bevels along all but the bottom and forward edges was fixed where a scope would be. It had a forward facing panel of the same non-metallic, semi-gloss material as the facial dome of Oleksandra’s helmet.
Resting underneath both hands were the two smallest weapons to appear. They were little more than a single tube about one third longer than the length of the Battle Angel’s forearm with a smaller radius tube extending forward to a distance just past the wrists. This smaller cylinder was a protective sheath the triplet of rotating barrels were housed within. A trigger grip was mounted on top of an arm that put the grip more forward than any other piece of the weapon. These gatling style weapons were much smaller than what Isaac imagined were sported by the GunValkyrie breed. Would that have an impact on their effectiveness in combat?
Sergeant Letitia walked a partial circle around the decked out Battle Battle Angel while giving the weapons an appraising look. “Well she certainly looks like a GunValkyrie now, if you ignore the ears anyway.” She stopped walking after completing an almost half circle. “And tail too.” Oleksandra twisted around to look over her left shoulder at the little appendage and gave it a quick shake. Even the little nub covered in fluff was protected by armor. “Now Oleksandra, why don’t you take a few practice shots with each weapon?”
Sergeant Letitia was thrown off guard by the question. “Uh, no. One at a time is acceptable.”
“Understood. I will begin with the tri-barrel rotary machine guns.” The cannon and rifle vanished without so much as a click or whir, collapsing back into the impossibly small space they sprung from. The two tri-barrels pushed their grip into her palms as she brought the weapons up into a firing position. She squeezed off two quick bursts of three rounds a piece, one from the left weapon and then one from the right. The sound was more comparable to a hot greased skillet than a firearm Isaac could recall. Her ears dropped back each time she shot but climbed back up to stand with quivering energy. “I enjoy this. Practicing sustained fire.” She brought both arms up together and twisted her elbows outward bringing both barrels up to shoulder level. Both weapons hissed and crackled as they spewed their tech-energy projectiles into the air to splatter and scorch the burned out cart that had served as her marker to turn when sprinting. Oleksandra fired for a full second and stopped when the armor encasing her ears began to shed visible thermal waves. “I greatly enjoy this.” The heat she built up was radiated out into the air in a couple of seconds and she fired off another sustained spray for half of a second.
“How long are you able to sustain that firing rate, Oleksandra?” Elena was observing impassively.
“My rate of sustained fire is influenced by two primary variables. At my current rate of one point five thousand rounds per minute I am able to shed accumulated thermal energy without detriment. However, my current energy reserves are only sufficient for generating one thousand rounds containing my standard output. Under these current conditions, I am able to fire for forty seconds continuously using one weapon or twenty seconds with two. After expending this energy my weapon and most armor systems will become disabled until energy reserves are replenished.”
Isaac was looking at the twin plasma miniguns as he thought. “You can alter your rate of fire and the strength of each individual round?”
“Correct. It appears this feature is available for all of my weapon systems but to variable degrees.”
Sergeant Letitia stroked her massive metal chin. “The tactical primer doesn’t have anything about that either, but I can do something similar with my own Plasma Blasts. I don’t believe I was ever taught to do so either.”
“Would you be willing to demonstrate, Sergeant Letitia of the Vorona Corps?” Oleksandra’s armored mask prevented her expression from being seen but her attention was clearly pointed at the Mecha Musume.
“Of course,” the massive tech pokegirl pulled a bulky hand cannon out from a compartment in one of the random portions of her vehicular form that were always present. It reminded Isaac of old conceptions of what high tech would look like, which was essentially very shiny low tech. She leveled her weapon at the same abused wagon wreckage and fired. The noise, if Isaac had to write down an approximation of the sound, would have been something to the effect of ‘pyewm.’ The shot burned a perfectly circular hole through her target and then had no effect at all on the ground behind it.
Oleksandra put her twin tri-barrels into storage and deployed her long range rifle. Her shot was placed right next to the Sergeants and caused a similar pattern of destruction but with a smaller radius. Then it was blasted to pieces by a mana bolt from Jin. “What? It looked fun.”
Astoreth let out a snort of laughter and hit the biggest piece of debris with a mystic bolt of her own before giving Elena a goading look. The Grandelf clicked her tongue but Isaac could tell she was fighting not to smile. She extended a graceful finger towards the same miserable pile of ruin and an icicle spear formed from her magic and nailed the largest intact board to the ground with the frozen projectile.
Attention turned towards Neasa. The Elf glared in return and simply stated, “I’m not risking an arrow to play around.”
“So use a plant technique instead,” Elena offered. “It is a little fun.” Neasa sighed and looked around for vegetation to aid her. She poured her energy into a tiny weed and used it to provide herself with ammunition for a volley of razor leaves that stuck into their wooden target like throwing knives. Mandy, who had followed Gabi who had tagged along, made a delighted coo and copied the plant technique to add a single razor leaf of her own. Gabi laughed at his Oddtits and picked up a rock to throw.
Now all of the attention fell on the last two to jump on the bandwagon. Chandrakanta smiled as she stooped to pick up two more palm sized stones. She offered one to Isaac. He took the offered stone, shrugged, and gave it his best throw. He was much better at getting his toss on target than he had been half a year or so earlier. It clattered off of the chunk of garbage he targeted. Jin, Gabi, and Mandy cheered and applauded while everyone else expressed more subdued joy.
Everyone kept pelting the junk discarded in the pit for a couple more minutes of play before they resumed evaluating Oleksandra’s capabilities as best as they could understand them.
She hadn't tested her cannon during this evaluation so she brought the largest of her weapon systems online. Isaac's eyebrows furrowed together as he examined the crude tech weapon. "Is that a different gun?"
Oleksandra lifted the cannon up so she could inspect it. The motion appeared effortless but that was only because most of the weight was supported by the mounting arms produced by her armor and not her human limbs. "I am uncertain. This is my cannon but it does possess minor variations in its construction compared to what I deployed earlier. I believe both variations are also distinct from the weapon I deployed against the Ninsect fifty-three hours ago. Curious." She leveled the weapon at a new piece of garbage since their first target was essentially no more. She fired and save for the level of light, sound, and destruction this cannon did seem to function the same as the weapon that she'd first fired two days in the past.
"I suppose then that this is another mostly successful test then." Sergeant Letitia put her device away. "I've sent you a copy of our tactical primer on the Battle template, cadet. I do believe, just to be thorough, we should test her capabilities as a Battle Angel as well. We've yet to see her use the armor abilities of her base breed."
Isaac wondered how the two different, supernatural armor abilities would interact. The Battle Angel's armor was something that formed over the pokegirls skin and could be shaped through will and practice. Her tech armor granted by the Battle template was similar but formed by the nanites that had merged with her body and he didn’t read anything about it being as malleable as that of the Battle Angel’s. There was really only one way to find out. “Okay Leksya, you’ll have to get out of that armor first.” The Battle Angel’s tech armor vanished so quickly it was difficult to perceive how, but Isaac thought it seemed like a flowing and dissolving motion. She was standing naked in the middle of the sinkhole now. More than only Isaac’s eyes were compelled to follow the contour lines of her buttocks and thighs to appreciate their shapeliness. “Uh, you didn’t need to…” Isaac stopped talking as his brain derailed his train of thought. She’d never been provided with clothing and had been preserving her modesty with her armor this entire time.
He’d need to get her some uniforms for the academy at the very least and he should do more for his pokegirls than the very least.
Oleksandra looked down at herself and displayed no sign of understanding why Isaac and Gabi in particular were distracted and uncomfortable, both being approximations of teenage boys if nothing else. Her gunmetal, sleeveless leotard appeared overtop of her more private pieces of flesh. Sergeant Letitia kept her composure and continued professionally. “Well, that would be her Battle Angel armor. Can you extend it over your full body?” Oleksandra nodded and did as was asked but was left standing in her technological Battle template armor. Sergeant Letitia paused and brought her handheld computer back out to consult. “Wait, no that’s your template armor again. Or is it? I don’t know if the Battle template can reshape their armor like that.” She shook her head as she put her computer back in its holster.
Oleksandra’s head cocked slightly to the side and her ear twitched to fight the continued motion. “I am not aware of a secondary suit of armor I am able to produce. This is my armor.”
Isaac had his pokedex out and was consulting entries. “Well, you can reshape your armor. Can you change its style? Uh…” He scanned the entry for an example of this capability of the Battle Angel breed. “Like a bikini and shorts?”
Oleksandra looked as if she were about to say she didn’t understand something but stopped and looked introspective for a bit. Then her armor diminished until it was two triangles over her breasts held over the body with strings and incredibly tight running shorts. “Bikini and shorts.”
“That is definitely a function of the Battle Angel’s armor. Can you deploy your tech systems when equipped like that?” Sergeant Letitia was studying the Battle Battle Angel carefully.
“Deploying right tri-barrel.” Oleksandra extended her arm and a panel opened up and the same compact minigun was produced. That panel had opened from the apparently exposed flesh of her forearm.
“Leksya, are you okay?” Her ears were trembling and her eyes were locked onto the weapon sprouting from an orderly rectangular hole that stretched from her wrist to her elbow.
“I am unhurt, however, I am also unnerved. May we conclude testing?”
“Yeah, I think we’re done. We can figure out more later. Good job Leksya.” Isaac stepped up to wrap her in his arms again. The rotary barreled machine gun vanished as she returned the embrace. Echoes of Sergeant Letitia expressing her uncertainty about the limits to Oleksandra’s capabilities bounced in his head. At least she seemed too capable rather than the alternative.
(-[|]-) End 9.1 (-[|]-)