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"Kriegsbrufte, or, Warbird, is a critically acclaimed, but not well-known holofilm produced in the EIT, and distributed by major film rental companies. This movie also happens to be one of Tholker Zhevhyit's favorite films, and enjoys watching it every couple of months. I... actually... it seems I've revealed too much. Thank you, and-"

Armed men burst into the room, aiming their weapons at the narrating man, and beckon him to come with them. The man raises his hands to show he his unarmed, and follows them. One of the armed men fires a tranquilizer dart into his back.

_______________

Mission Failed

_______________

R-MaginonEdit

The vertically challenged robotic supersoldier gazed at the endless rows of stores and shops along the promenade. His robotic eye quickly scanned every sign, and pinpointed the one that Tholker was seeking out. Thousands of people of an incredibly wide array of species milled about, going about their business with mostly indifferenfce towards the short, yellow man. Zhevhyit walked towards the store, which was roughly sixty metres away, while again gazing at the many shops. This time, however, he was not looking for anything, and was simply wondering if anyone walking along the promenade knew how many people died each day to ensure that they could browse and shop here as they pleased. Shortly before losing himself in his thoughts, he noticed he was right infront of the store he was searching for. He walked through the automatic doors to the sight of endless rows of film of every kind. Scanning again with his robotic eye, he searched through all of the section signs. It took an unusually long 0.0005 seconds, but he did come across the section he was looking for. Flight-Related War Films. Tholker walked over to the section, and looked over the shelves. A quick search found the film a shelf down and five metres to the right. He sidestepped over, bumping into another Eteno on accident.

"Apologies, I'm out of it today." He said quickly.

"No worries." The female Eteno replied.

Tholker looked at the other Eteno, and immediately noticed a small cut on her arm. Smudged oil surrounded it, and further observation found that inside was circuitry. At the same time, she was observing the cut on Tholker's neck that he never bothered to patch up. Of course, there was circuitry inside. A robotic arm was nothing too out of the ordinary, but electronics in an area such as the neck normally hinted to many cybernetic parts, because a neck on its' own is very difficult replace, especially for Eteno. Of course, both parties simply scanned the other, revealing fully robotic bodies.

"A fellow bot?" The woman asked.

"Is an R-Maginon battery good at not wastefully discharging stored energy?"

"It sure is."

A Nice Movie, and CoffeeEdit

"It's nice to see another cyborg for a change. Not so uncommon out in the empire, but here in the core worlds, Eteno cyborgs are a rare sight." The woman asked.

"Aye. Ditto."

"So what brings you around these parts, Mr...?"

"Ah, pardon me. Name's Tholker. You?"

"Karla, Karla Frankewitz. What brings you around these parts Tholker?"

"You mean this store or the core worlds?"

"Both, core worlds first."

"I work here."

"What line of work are you in?"

"Hm. Secret agent."

"Yeah, you're a secret agent." Karla said with an amused and slightly condescending expression and tone.

"Perhaps it is better if you don't believe me, actually."

Karla chuckled once, and continued.

"Ok, secret agent, what brings you to this store? Are you planting surveillance devices on the movie chips?"

"Nah, just out for a good movie I haven't seen in a while."

"What is it?"

"Warbird."

"Oh. Really? I was looking for the same movie. I came across it, obviously."

"That's funny. The odds. So, what brings you to the core worlds?"

"I... go to school here."

"All the way out here, and not in the empire?"

"I heard there was a good university on this world, the seat of the senate, you know."

"Hm. But if you're a cyborg, why do-"

"My head survived fully intact."

"I, uh... yeah. Hm. Stupid of me."

"No problem. So-"

Tholker perked up and raised a finger.

"Sorry. A certain party requires my services. I... have to go."

"It's no problem if you do not want to talk to me. Just say-"

"No, no. I'll prove it. We can go get coffee tomorrow, if you'd like."

"Fine. That place down the street at noon."

"Agreed."

Tholker nodded, and ran out of the store, blending into the thousands of bodies milling around. With his incredible robotic stamina, he ran to the closest Mag-Rail station. A holographic board with a list of lines and arrival/departure times adorned it. Tholker skimmed over it, and saw that he had just made it in time for a ride to the senate building, close to the bunker. As one of the passenger trams began closing it's doors, Tholker ran inside, using his small size to his advantage. He took a seat, and noticed a civilian reading a holo-paper. Having not been updated on the news for the day, Tholker took half a second to read it. The story with the title in bold this day read,

"Organized Crime Plagues Core Worlds"

Zhevhyit took in the story, and mulled over it for the rest of the ride. Things in the galaxy did seem to be picking up. Regardless, the short ride was about to come to an end as the Mag-Rail station adjacent to the majestic, towering senate building came into view. The tram slowed, and calmly came to a stop at the station. People of all races got off and boarded. Tholker made his way through the crowd, and off of the high platform. He walked towards a collection of low-quality maintenence and storage buildings, and checked to make sure nobody was following him. He briskly moved towards one of the shacks, and walked inside. Unfazed by the horrible condition of the shack, he said his name, and pressed the button on the mop, drawing away the cover that hid the pristine, metallic staircase. He descended into The Bunker, and greeted the computer experts at work in the lobby. He walked up to the secretary's desk.

"What do you have for me?"

"I apologize, Captain, but I was told to alert you as you had been gone for longer than you had originally estimated."

"I was only a few minutes off-"

"You know that any sort of discrepency is interpreted as trouble, sir."

"Agh, I guess you're right. So there's no work?"

"None, Captain."

"Alright then. It's getting a bit late anyway, I'll just power down in my room and charge for the night."

"Goodnight, then, Captain."

"Yeah, thanks."

MorningEdit

"Checking all motor systems. All motor systems green."

"Checking electrical safeguards. All safeguard systems green."

"All checks completed. Good morning, Captain."

Tholker rubbed his organic eye with his hand, mostly oblivious to the standard startup checks that the computer goes through. His chrono indicated that the time was 10:00 AM, which would give him enough time to get himself ready for the day and head towards the plaza he had been in the day before. He got the daily briefing, greeted his team members, starting with Etah, and ending with the new guy Pyro. He had quite the peculiar name. Tholker had wondered if the commando knew the meaning of pyro, or it's equivalent spelling in Luuschtuntski. Regardless, Tholker readied himself and left The Bunker. He walked towards the Mag-Rail station, and awaited a tram. As he always did before he went into public, he ran his hand along his belt and inside his bulletproof jacket. He felt the grip of his knife, the grip of his sidearm, and the grip of Hitstick in his jacket. Everything seemed to be in order. The tram he was taking pulled up, and the short soldier boarded. It took him and many other civilians by the plaza station, at which Tholker got off the tram. As he did everyday, he took in the vast amount of people, and scanned all of their faces to check if any of them were wanted by law enforcement. Satisfied that none were, Tholker walked at a leisurely pace down the plaza, towards the coffee parlor. He walked by it on accident, but corrected himelf and turned back. He walked inside, and saw Karla waiting for him with two cups, one of which she drank from. Zhevhyit walked to the table, and sat down.

"Sorry that I'm late."

"You're not late."

"On the contrary. If I am correct, I am late by exactly five and a half seconds."

"Oh, ha-ha. I got you a coffee. I didn't know what you liked, so I just got what most people like."

Tholker sipped the brown liquid from the cup.

"All coffee tastes ok. What'd you get?"

Karla turned her cup so that the small label was towards Tholker.

"Oh."

"So, agent Tholker, what kind of work do you do?"

"Secret agent work."

"I think I figured that one out, but any specifics?"

Tholker looked up from his cup.

"If I told you any specifics, I think I'd have to kill you."

"Oh, really?"

"Indeed. I've never experienced being killed, just tortured, so I can't tell you what it'd be like." Tholker replied, sarcastically.

"Fine then. You work alone or on a team?"

"Team. You may have heard of it from a certain Sauran news anchor."

"I don't really keep up on Sauran news. Can you tell me?"

"I'll leave it to you to find out."

"I'm not gonna get anything from you, am I, Tholker?"

"I'm afraid not."

"Whatever. I work at a fast food join Sundays and Mondays. Doesn't pay that well, but it's better than fully relying on your parents, I guess."

"So true. What's university like?"

'Huh? I... oh, the draft..."

"Yup."

"Well, university is like a really big high school, only you have more freedom, and you live there or nearby, if it isn't in your hometown."

"I know that, of course, you get to live on your own, but you don't really have to support yourself fully with your own money?"

"Uhuh."

"Now that sounds great to me. Don't you take that for granted, us working folk don't have it like that."

"Sure, sure."

"I'd love to not have to work to be free."

"Well, I'd love to have a mansion. I guess it's just how the galaxy works."

"Now hold on, what you said is interesting. You'd 'love' to have a mansion?"

"Yeah...?"

"Would you 'love' to have a billion Grums?"

"Definately!'

"I think you mean enjoy. Sorry if this sounds a bit weird, but it's a bit strange to me how society seems to toss that word around, with such immense meaning that it possesses."

"That's an interesting point, Tholker."

"Well... thank you."

"You seem as though you have a bit of a unique opinion about love. What is it?"

"Am I that transparent? Alright. I see any love beyond parent and child, and pet and owner to be dangerous."

"How so?"

"It leaves you so open. It lets your guard down. If that person doesn't truly love you back, them simply saying 'I think we should just be friends' can shove a dagger into your soul, twisting as it plunges. To leave yourself open to that is to invite danger and manipulation."

"Fascinating... you have an interesting mind, agent Tholker."

By then both Eteno had finished their coffee. They talked more about a wide variety of subjects. Politics, science, and movies, of course.

"You know, I should get back to my apartment. I have some studying to do."

"Alright then."

"I'm a bit worried about the crime surge. I was wondering if you could come with me in case I run across any trouble?"

"It's organized crime, Karla, they don't really do street muggings."

"It's fear, it isn't rational, Tholker. Still, could you do it just to make me feel better?"

"Sure. I got nowhere to be anyway."

The two Eteno left the parlor, Tholker following Karla as she moved briskly towards the Mag-Rail station across the plaza. They took one of the trams to a residential block, where Tholker continued to accompany his friend until they reached the lobby of Karla's apartment building.

"Thanks, Tholker. I'll be going to my apartment now."

"No problem, happy to help."

They waved at each other as Tholker exited the building, and walked towards the Mag-Rail station to take a tram to the senate area.

SituationEdit

Tholker walked into the lobby of The Bunker where he saw some of the staff glued to a newsfeed screen. A camera was aimed at the apartment building Tholker was just at. It turned away from it, and towards a reporter standing next to two Senate Police vehicles.

"A crime group known only as The Black Falcon has overrun an apartment building only a few miles away from the senate building. They have taken hostages and demand a steep ransom of ten billion Sporebucks."

"Captain Zhevhyit, look at thi-" A computer tech said as the soldier entered the elevator.

"I saw it." He replied, shortly before the doors closed.

Tholker rapidly pressed the button labeled A4, until he felt the elevator car begin to move. He impatiently tapped his finger on the wall. The doors opened and Tholker ran out into the armory.

"Hiya, Cap! You're in a rush!" One of the security guards said.

"No time to talk."

Tholker ran about the huge storage room, collecting weapons, gadgets, and armor of the highest quality. When he was confident that he had sufficiently armed himself, he ran back to the elevator. He called a car, and walked inside, pressing the button for the lobby.

The supersoldier was outrageously armed and armored. He carried a modified SKAR assault rifle with a silencer and grappling hook that fired his signature explosive rounds in a fifty-round clip. Tholker carried eight of these clips. As a back-up, he carried a heavy dual-barrel shotgun designed and used by the GMG. He had five knives on his belt, along with two incendiary grenades and five smoke grenades. On his back was a heavy broadsword alongside Hitstick von Headcrasher. Zhevhyit had also donned a heavy bulletproof vest and advanced tactical goggles. His robotic eye offered night vision, but the goggles offered that alongside heat-vision, UV, and long-range weapon ID. To top it all off, he wore a heavy riot helmet over his goggles. To summarize, Tholker was packing heat.

He ran out of the elevator the second the doors opened, and up the long staircase to the dirty shack. He ran all the way to the rail station, and found that the tram bound for the residential station had already begun moving. Fortunately, this was no hinderance to Tholker. He leapt onto the top of the tram, and rode on the top until they reached his destination.

Karla's building was surrounded by police, and even FRAU to an extent, which surprised Zhevhyit. Seeing no way to get in through the doors, as they were blocked off, he decided to use the grappling hook. He fired the hook at a ledge that loomed over a window on the eighth floor of the building. He slowly walked up the side of the building, and stopped short of the window when he detected one of the hostage-takers walking up to it. It was a Katrakhan. Tholker slowly moved to the left, and walked up parallel to the window.

Breaking and EnteringEdit

It was quick and efficient. The robotic supersoldier jumped to the side and flew through the window before the Katrakhan could do anything. Tholker landed on him, and immediately retracted the hook, breaking off part of the ledge, and put a knife to the criminal's throat.

"How many of you are there?"

"Agh... I'll... never talk!"

"I see you have a little bit of hair growing on your chin. Shall I shave it off for you?"

"Wha... what are you... no! I'll talk! There's thirty of us, including myself!"

"Alright, I have to deal with twenty-nine of you. That's not fair at all. Perhaps I'll wear a blindfold. As for you, I think that you'll be having a nice eight-story trip down to ground level."

"Wh... please! Don't!"

The Katrakhan's pleas fell on deaf ears as Tholker punched him in the face to knock him out, dragged him closer to the window, and pushed him out. He waited several seconds before hearing a satisfying thud.

With his heat-vision goggles, Zhevhyit surveyed the rooms that connected to the long, thin hallway. All of the rooms were devoid of life save a room that contained two bodies with their hands behind their heads and two of the hostage-takers, one an Eteno and the other a Kklxin.

"Odd how crime brings people together..." He muttered to himself.

The Eteno and Kklxin conversed for about ten seconds, and the Kklxin started to walk towards the door. Tholker broke the solitary lamp in the hallway by crushing the bulb with his hand, and performed a split jump, hanging himself in place with his legs. The Kklxin walked out of the inhabitated room, and towards the window, which he saw was broken, despite the darkness.

"Why's the light out?"

The moment the Kklxin walked under him, Tholker dropped to the ground, bringing the Kklxin with him. With a firm arm around his neck and a knife to his throat, the Kklxin asked,

"Who are you? Whaddya want with me?"

"I'm here to clean up the mess you made. Who are you guys?"

"We... we're... the Black Falcon... I'm their best guy here."

"So they're all that stupid. Good to know."

Tholker cut the Black Falcon's throat, and turned his attention to the room where the other Falcon and the hostages were. He walked up to the door and knocked. He activated his heat-vision goggles, and when the Eteno came up to the door, Tholker shoved his broadsword through, impaling him. He calmly opened the door, a gaping Eteno hanging on the other side.

"I don't take pride in having to cull those of my own kind. You two, on your feet!" Tholker commanded the hostages.

One a Dhragolon, the other a member of a race conquered by the Eteno in the past, sprung up.

"Are you here to remove us from this unfortunate predicament?" The Dhragolon inquired.

"I'm here to kill these terrorists. What I need you to do is take the body here and the one in the hall into another room, and hide there until some help arrives." Tholker said as he pulled his sword out of the door.

"You're not help?"

"I'm just the cleaner."

Tholker walked out of the room, and towards an elevator placed next to an entrance to the emergency stairwell. He heard a car coming up the shaft, and readied his rifle. The doors opened to reveal another Katrakhan, no doubt checking in on the hostages on that floor. Unfortunatey for him, all he could check on was the explosive round hitting him in the face. The Katrakhan's skull imploded, and gore spewed out onto the elevator. Calmly, the Eteno soldier walked in and noted the number of floors. This was a twelve story building. He had cleared the eighth floor, and now had to search for enemies.

On the HuntEdit

Tholker had decided to simply go up to the top floor, scanning each floor with his robotic eye and advanced goggles every time he passed a floor. Nine and ten were clean, but he saw five bodies on the eleventh floor. He exited at the top floor, and went through the ventilation system to the floor below, as the terrorists there were probably expecting him to come out of the elevator. Tholker snuck around on the eleventh floor, slipping around behind his three fortifying foes. Tholker gunned them down quickly and without fuss. He freed the hostages on that floor, none of whom were Karla, and began moving down again via stairwell. The seventh and sicth floors were clean, but there was a large concentration of bodies on the fifth floor. Twelve of the thirty bodies were holding some sort of weapon. Again, Tholker cleared out that floor, stealthily stabbing and snapping necks, until three terrorists were left in the room that contained the hostages, fearful of whatever was taking out their comrades. The Eteno simply shot them through the wall, and told the hostages to wait where they were. Still no sign of Karla. Tholker had interrogated one of the terrorists on that floor before killing him, and had learned the last ten were fortified on the second floor, along with seven more hostages. Zhevhyit reasoned that was where Karla was. With his intimate connection with machines, he programmed the elevator to go to the first floor, then the second, and back in a loop. This would confuse his enemies, and allow him to slip in from the stairwell next to them. Tholker's plan worked perfectly. He was able to take out nine of the terrorists, with one left in the room where the hostages were held. He walked up to the door and stopped, noticing that the foe inside the room was holding a mostly-robotic Eteno with a gun to its' head.

"I know what you're looking for, Zhevhyit! This is all planned out! You can surrender now, or your friend gets a round through the skull!"

"You seem to be forgetting that-"

Tholker, with literally the speed of a machine, fired at what he assumed to be the leader through the wall, hitting his hand with a perfect shot. The terrorist leaned to the left while grasping his hand, allowing Tholker to hit his head with another shot, ending him. Zhevhyit kicked in the door, and surveyed the room. Karla was standing by the dead body while the other hostages slowly stood up.

"Thanks for the rescue." Karla said, unable to suppress a smile.

"All part of the job. I gotta leave before the police barge in and see me."

"Ok, then. I'd like to tell you, however, that the door was unlocked."

"Well, I didn't know that."

"Yes you did. You can see perfectly through a wall, I think you can see through a doorknob."

"Well... kicking in a door is just cooler than opening it. Anyway, I'll be going now."

With that, Tholker left. He ran up the stairs to the fifth floor and rappelled out.

The Next DayEdit

Tholker vaulted over the barrier, braving a hail of gunfire, to dash towards another rectangular block of rock. He lobbed a small, spherical, beeping device over his cover, and smiled as it exploded, bringing down many of his targets and leaving the few still living greatly disoriented. Tholker stood and sprayed explosive bullets at the last targets, obliterating them.

"Good job, as usual, Captain. See you again same time next week." A loud voice boomed throughout the chamber.

"Sure, thanks Petrov." He replied, walking towards the double metal doors.

Tholker exited the training room, put up his arms barring Hitstick and his 40/40 sidearm, and started towards an elevator up to the lobby. It was two in the afternoon, and Tholker had decided to ask Karla if she wanted to get some coffee. Karla had something about her that Zhevhyit was undeniably fascinated by. He was incapable of pinning down exactly what this was, and it discomforted him. Tholker eventually concluded that it was not any quantifiable sort of thing, and he left it at that.

He left for her residential block, and arrived about fifteen minutes after his departure from The Bunker. One or two police vehicles remained outside the complex, with very official-looking people, not rank-and-file officers, milling about with PADs. Tholker approached the main door, and made a loud enough noise to get the attention of the police. Tholker pointed at the door, and cocked his head inquisitively. One of them nodded, and went back to his business. The Eteno commando walked inside, and asked someone working in the lobby where he could find Karla.

"Room 49, third floor."

"Thanks."

Tholker went to the elevator, and stepped inside, pressing the button for the third floor. He turned around in the car, and noticed a handful of small markson the wall. It was caused by shrapnel from his explosive round. The doors of the car parted, revealing a hallway lined with numbered doors. Tholke strolled through the hallway until he came upon room 49. He faced the door, and knocked three times. Tholker saw through the door, and Karla walking towards it. The door opened, and Karla smiled as she saw who her visitor was.

"Oh, hey Tholker!"

"Good afternoon, Karla. Listen, I was wondering if you wanted to go get some coffee again today..."

"Sure, sure!. Uh, just let me put some shoes on and we can go."

Tholker nodded, and Karla put on a pair of plain, mesh shoes. She stood, and walked out, Tholker close in tow. As they left, Karla slowly began to say something.

"You know... I never properly thanked you for saving myself... and... well... everyone in the building."

"All in the line of duty."

"I suppose that doesn't make you some secret agent after all."

"What do you mean by that?"

"I've never heard of a secret agent armed like some FRAU guy."

"What? Oh, well, the films get our kind all wrong. Film agents wear suits, and always have snappy one-liners. Us real agents slip into buildings on the tenth floor, hold one of the villain's mooks at gunpoint, and show him the long fall that awaits him if he doesn't tell us what we need to know in a short time."

"Well, then why aren't the films all about... you guys?"

"If the films went into any detail, we'd have to change our identities and kidnap all the film's creators and viewers in their sleep."

"Then it'd be an authentic experience, eh?"

"Well, I guess it would be exciting until you got to the interrogation."

"Oh, that sounds like a downer."

"Indeed."

"I have another question. How did that gang leader know your name?"

Tholker was not pleased by the question. He had been thinking about that himself, and concluded that there was some party related to the rogue Genodraco leadership that not only had a mole at their disposal in The Bunker, but an organized gang on their payroll. Unfortunately, he was caught in the moment when he shot the leader of the terrorist thugs, and would've just disabled him if he could have done everything over so he could find out who hired him.

"Tholker!"

"Oh, sorry. I... used to know him. I don't really want to talk about it. He was a good friend of mine, for a while..."

"Hm... okay, sorry I asked."

"No, don't worry. Not a problem."

ConflictEdit

Karla moved the conversation towards lighter subjects as they left the residential complex and took a mag-train to the plaza they had been at twice before. When the two stepped off the rail platform at the plaza and towards the coffee shop, Tholker noticed that they were being followed, at a good distance, however. He mentally praised their organization. They had about five guys casually moving around in the crowd, always keeping about twenty metres away, with two guys on the roofs of two buildings keeping watch. While they would undoubtedly be incapable of bringing down Zhevhyit, and in turn, Karla, it worried him that they were able to track him. He wasn't followed when he went to the residential complex. They must've been watching Karla. There was also no doubt that these were Black Falcon. As Tholker and Karla neared the coffee shop, the five men following them discreetly pulled out their weapons, and all looked at the pair.

"Down!" Tholker yelled as he pushed Karla into the shop.

He fired twice in the air, causing the crowds to panic and move away with great speed. The seven Black Falcons began to fire at Tholker, but the only hit they scored on the rapidly moving target was on the chest, and he always wore a bulletproof vest underneath his street clothes. Zhevhyit, with amazing speed, put holes in the heads of four of the tailing Falcons, and shot both kneecaps of the fifth. His attention then turned to the two snipers/spotters. They, too, were shot as two bullets entered their skulls. Tholker approached the disabled gang member, grabbed him by the neck, picked him up, and slammed him against a wall.

"Who are you working for?" He growled.

"Ach... go to hell!"

Tholker let go of his neck, and bashed his face with his pistol before he fell. He grabbed his neck, and slammed him into the wall again. Blood oozed from his cheek and his knees.

"Hsss... alright... I overheard the boss talking to some guy named Wilkter... that's all I know!"

"Thanks."

Tholker dug his pistol into the Falcon's chest and fired two shots before slamming his face with his gun yet again. He crashed into the ground with a crack, and blood smeared the ground and the wall in several places. At this point, Tholker heard sirens in the distance. Karla, who had been taking cover the whole time, exited the coffee shop.

"What... what the hell just happened?" She asked, her voice shaking like a lamp in an earthquake.

"We can't talk now, let's get out of here!"

Tholker grabbed her hand and ran down an alleyway, tucking his pistol away in his vest. They ran from alley to alley, trying to get as far away as possible. When she thought they had gone far enough, Karla tore her hand away and questioned her friend.

"We're far enough! What were those guys trying to do?!"

"Take care of me. They trailed us. Those were Black Falcon, just like at your apartment."

"Wait, so they trailed us and you didn't tell me?!"

"I didn't want to panic you or draw attention until you could get into cover!"

"You could've left for a less populated area! And why are they trying to take you out?"

"Firstly, that would've given them time to shoot you to distract me, and second, it has to do with my profession."

"So they were trying to use me at the apartments... this is because of you?"

"Y... yes. I shouldn't have befriended you, I put you in dan-"

"No. They put me in danger. You just saved me. Twice. I actually owe you."

"But... it's... alright... well, I'm pretty sure that if Black Falcon has more members, they're all looking for us. Public is not a good place for us to be right now, and they know your address."

"Then what do you suggest we do?"

"I'm going to do something that breaks at least five military regulations..."

"What?"

"I'm taking you... no, someone might be listening. Just stay close to me, and keep an eye out."

"Sure."

EscapeEdit

Tholker took Karla to a mag-rail station about half a mile off, always looking, always alert. Fortunately, either Black Falcon had been destroyed, which he doubted, or they were looking in the wrong places. Regardless, it was an uneventful journey to the station. Tholker took Karla aboard a train headed for the Senate building. On the mag-train, Karla whispered to Tholker:

"It's against military regulation to go to the Senate?"

"No, no. You'll see."

When they arrived at the Senate station, they got off the mag-train and walked off the platform. Karla stuck close to Tholker as they moved briskly towards a cluster of buildings near the rear the Senate building. In particular, Tholker was taking Karla to a rather run-down maintenance shack. Tholker went in, pulling Karla with him.

"You're kidding. This is against military regulation?"

"Captain Tholker Zhevhyit, Imperial Army." Tholker said, ignoring Karla's question.

A button revealed itself on a mop, and Tholker pressed it. The floor slid away, revealing a staircase.

"Come on."

Karla was surprised, but still followed Zhevhyit down the huge, gleaming, winding staircase down. The floor in the shack slid back, and everything looked as it did when they walked in.

As the two Eteno arrived at the lobby, Karla asked,

"Where exactly... are we?"

"Welcome to... a place I definately will get chewed out by the brass for taking you."

Tholker walked up to the front desk.

"Something serious is going down. I've brought with me someone who is at great danger in public. She'll need quarters here for a while, and before you say it, I know this is against the rules." He said to a Dhragolon manning the front desk.

"Hm. Alright, Captain. I'll arrange a room in the dormitories. You should probably go to the intel department in the meantime, they'll want to know what's going on."

"Great. Karla, wait here. You'll be escorted to your quarters. I'm going to the intel section."

"O... ok."

The BunkerEdit

Zhevhyit meandered out of the intelligence room, caught up in his thoughts. Black Falcon would certainly be taken down by some special ops or something akin to that, but what of the mystery man Wilkter? He was obviously in league with the imprisoned Drakko. He'd have to go 'talk' to him later. He stood in thought, mulling over all the possible combinations of involved parties. He was taken out of his bout of deep thought by one of his comrades.

"Good day, Tholker."

"Ah... ah, hello there, Etah."

"Who's this new girl? She certainly isn't one of the staff, and I've heard you have something to do with it."

"Her life is in danger and I've taken her under out protection."

"Are you sure? Maybe she's just..."

"Just what?"

"Maybe she's your girlfriend, isn't she Tholker?"

"Wh... what? No! No, not at all! She's my friend and I'm ensuring her safety."

"No no, you'd never take a simple civilian here. You like her."

"Etah, stop it..."

"Bah! I'm just messin' with you! Don't get all flustered or anything. She probably has gotten tied up in our past business unwittingly, hasn't she?"

"You could say that."

"Ok. Well, I'll be seeing you around."

"Yeah, see ya."

The short yellow soldier went to the nearest elevator and took a ride to the dormitory complex where he suspected that Karla was.

Tholker walked out of the elevator car, facing the large dormitory complex where he thought Karla was situated. A holographic sign showed all of the inhabitants, their names, and a small button beside each name that rested on the wall to page them. Zhevhyit pressed the button that was to the right of the blue light that read Karla Frankewitz. He waited a moment, and Karla came out of the dormitory right next to him from a set of metal double doors.

"Oh, hi Tholker..." She said.

"Hello, Karla. Have you gotten comfortable in your room yet?"

"Yeah, I guess so. Do you want to come in?"

"Uh... sure... ok."

Karla walked inside the dormitory complex with Tholker close behind. They passed a series of doors inside a hallway until the female stopped at the one with her name on a small holographic label. She unlocked the door with a passkey she produced from her pocket, and walked inside, Tholker in tow. It wasn't too luxurious, but it certainly wasn't a bad room. A bathroom area sat on the right as they entered, with a large closet to the left. Beyond these two rooms was a cavernous space filled with a couch facing a holovision, a single bed behind it, a few scattered tables, and a tiny garden in the far North of the room.

"It's... a lot better than my apartment."

"Really? I thought all the apartments here were high-class."

"Nope. Not all of them. I could only afford a small one about half the size of this."

"Well... uh... sorry about that."

"No, it's fine. So, I noticed there were some movies here, want to watch one?"

"Sure. How about Kriegsbrufte?"

"That... I didn't see that in the little box beside the HV."

"Let me handle this."

Tholker walked to the HV's external input socket, and pulled a small cord from inside his vest. He plugged it in, and the holovision came to life, with the display indicating that it was downloading Kriegsbrufte at an incredibly high rate of speed.

"How did you do that?"

"I have it downloaded onto my hard drive. I just prefer to watch the movie on an old HV with a chip drive, just like when I was a kid. Nostalgia is one of the best parts of this film."

"Oh, well, that's pretty cool."

"Thanks. It's done loading, go ahead and take a seat."

Karla plopped down on the couch, with Tholker quickly joining her on her right.

They watched the film through the whole two hours, enjoying every minute. As it drew to a close with a massive flight of HV-17s flying over a re-captured city in celebration, Karla turned to Tholker.

"I don't really understand everything that's been going on... but... for what it's worth, thank you for all you've done."

And with that, Karla kissed him on the cheek.

"Well, uh, I'm going to go get something to eat... at the... cafiteria."

"Do you need any... help?"

"No, I think I can find it. I'll see you later, Tholker."

"Sure."

Karla and Tholker stood, and they both walked out of the dormitory with Tholker in front. Karla locked the door behind her, and briskly walked out of the dormitory complex. Tholker, however, just stood in confusion. He wiped two of his fingers over his cheek, and ran out of the dormitory. He ran to an elevator, went inside, and pressed the button for the training center. The short ride ended at the parting of the doors, revealing much of the security staff talking amongst themselves. Zhevhyit walked through the crowd, and onto the control center platform overlooking the seven training environments. Inside, Petrov and an assistant were looking over several pages of training data.

"Petrov, how many training bots are in working condition right now?" He demanded.

"Only four, sir. The security team just finished their team drills."

"I want to train with all four. Highest setting, office zone."

"You sure? You don't have any big weapons, just your pistol and knife at most..."

"Set up the training round, please."

"Uh, ok, Captain. You just head down there and I'll get the bots ready."

"Good."

Tholker slowly and deliberately walked out of the control room, and on the metal catwalk leading to the office zone. He went down a set of steel steps, and through a sliding metal door. It closed behind him, and locked. Tholker produced his pistol from inside his vest and threw it on the ground, alerting the four training robots in the room to his location. Zhevhyit walked casually to a bank of computers and mainframes, waiting for the robots to move by in a close formation. They did, and the Eteno androids spotted him leaning on a mainframe. Two of them charged forward with a knife and a sword respectively, the other two aiming their rifles, waiting for their teammates to succeed or fail. The one charging forward with the knife tried to make a broad swipe with his blade to make Tholker dodge, putting him in the way of the sword-wielding bot. Tholker simple bent back, kneed the bot in the chest, grabbed his wrist, crushed it, and used the knife still in its' hand to cut the neck of the sword-wielder before nailing the knifer to the mainframe by plunging his blade through his head, and into the mock computers. Being a realistic simulation, this pretty much disabled Tholker's adversaries. The other two gun-wielding opponents fired on him, but Zhevhyit was too quick. He dove behind another mainframe. The two androids went back to back around the side of the mainframe, but Tholker was waiting for them. The bot in front fired, but missed, as Tholker ducked and rammed him in the chest. This brought down the other android as well, giving Tholker enough time to draw his knife and stab one of them in the head. Zhevhyit let the other stand, and draw his knife. Tholker's foe charged at him, swinging his blade in front of him. Tholker dodged each swing as he paced backwards, until he grabbed the knife, nailed the android's hand to the mainframe with it, and bashed it in the face multiple times before stabbing it in the chest with his own knife.

"Good job, Captain. What's got you wanting to come down here and mangle my robots today?" Petrov's voice boomed throughout the chamber.

"It's nothing, just wanted to destroy something." He replied cooly.

"Well, good thing you decided to do that here. I'll be seeing you next week, I need all these bots for staff training until then, eh sir?"

"Sure, sure."

TurmoilEdit

Tholker sat deep in thought in a chair resting by his bed. His mind was wracked with conflict, turmoil, and the worst, confusion.

Karla had kissed him.

Of course, there was a great possibility that it was simply a friendly one, for he had saved her life twice already, perhaps more, if his predictions were correct. Perhaps the great relief of stress caused by the familiar experience of watching a simple movie was a perfect catalyst for pure jubilance, and the kiss was just an expression of that. Perhaps the gravity of the situation had gotten to her, and that was her only avenue for attaining comfort. After all, her life had just been shaken, cut up, and set on fire. Of course, none of this changed that one, heavy statement.

Karla had kissed him.

Tholker was right. He knew he was right all along. He had let his spontaneous bout of fondness for this one simple person put him in a state of instability. One subtle action had ignited a firestorm of emotion in the organic half of his head he thought he had locked away long ago, forever. He could make all the excuses he wanted, that the simple comfort of having a companion such as Karla seemed like an innocent and pleasurable prospect, or that he simply was not trying hard enough to beat down these insurgent, destabilising thoughts. The excuses meant nothing, no matter how elaborate or thought-out. There was an undeniable attraction, but at a low level. However, if left to grow, it could prove a serious threat.

So, Tholker faced himself with a choice:

He could distance himself from her as far as possible, with the hopes that he could freeze and shatter the budding tether between his heart and Karla's. He would maintain full mental stability, and all of his competence. Then there was option two. He could accept this alien concept, and let it blossom, but pay the price of accepting a perpetual handicap. Unacceptable. His service to the fatherland, as small as it may be on the grand scale of things, could not be impaired.

But, could he not accept what was growing and maintain full operational efficiency?

To Tholker, the obvious answer was no. A... loved one... would simply get in the way. It would be a distraction from his one goal in life.

Still, that question remained. The "obvious answer" was unacceptable. A peculiar event, this was. If Karla did truly have feelings for him, who was he to damage her like that, to remove the one token of comfort from such a mangled life. So there he was, a clear answer to the dilemma being shot down because he cared about Karla at least enough as to be incapable of possibly hurting her.

So, as much as Tholker's rational mind protested, he would have no choice but to accept what was occuring, and do his best to maintain full operational efficiency.

Exiting the StormEdit

"Checking all motor systems. All motor systems green."

"Checking electrical safeguards. All safeguard systems green."

"All checks completed. Good morning, Captain."

"Hmmm..."

Tholker slowly opened his organic eye, and lethergically rose from his bed/charging dock.

"Thanks... computer."

Zevhyit began readying himself for the day, putting on a plain black shirt along with tan shorts. Of course, even when he made no plans of exiting The Bunker, he kept a knife on his belt. He liked to keep it visible, to diffuse any possible trouble before it started, as the base staff were well aware of his close-combat skills, Petrov especially. So as not to waste time sitting around doing nothing before his planned central activity for the day, Tholker decided to activate at noon. Apparently, Etah, Ahrganot, and Pyro didn't mind, as none of them woke him up. Zhevhyit walked out of his room, and into the common room that adjoined the personal quarters of all four GSSOC members. Fortunately, nobody was there to inquire about his plans for the day. He made a point of quickly going to Karla's dormitory, as he didn't want to run across his teammates. When he arrived at the dormitory, he paged Karla. She emerged from the small facility a minute later. She smiled when she saw who had paged her.

"Hey, there, Tholker!" She blurted jubilantly.

The lingering stress in Tholker's mind started to subside. Undoubtedly related to his peculiar attraction.

"Good day, Karla. I wanted to ask if you were doing anything today..."

"Not really, seeing as how I don't know what there is to do here."

"Oh, well, yeah... you're right. There's much to do here, several klicks underground. The food is good, according to my teammates and the staff, and there are several facilities that are enjoyable to be at. There's a game center, a gym, and a training facility slash gun range."

"What kind of game center?"

"Well, all sorts of games. Simulators, board games, the like. Anything physical is in the gym, though."

"That all sounds good. I'm not really yearning to taste anything, so, whatever you think would be fun..."

"I guess we could go down to the game center."

"Sure."

With that, they left for the game center. Tholker half-expected his entire team to be there, just to get in the way of his time with Karla, but luckily for him, the center was devoid save a security guard and an analyst from intel playing a game of Chess, another human invention that has managed to survive the eradication of most of the species.

"Anything catch your eye?" Tholker asked, maintaining a casual exterior.

"Wanna play a game of Chess?"

"Sure."

They occupied a small table with a holographic chessboard on it, a previous game sitting un-erased. Someone had managed to get all of their pieces captured, with both of their opponent's rooks along with their queen giving chase to the king. Tholker waved his hand, erasing the game and resetting all of the pieces. Karla was black, and Tholker was white. They played six rounds, with Tholker mercilessly pounding Karla for the first three, until he realized this was probably no fun for Karla, and played solely on the organic half of his head. This allowed Karla to pull a win out in the fifth game. When they stopped playing Chess, they moved on to other games. While they played many of them, and Karla was greatly enjoying herself, Tholker was distracted by his mind, and his unexplainable attraction to Karla. It seemed that for every minute he spent with her, the deeper he fell into the hole, the greater his unquantifiable feelings grew. Tholker decided he was going to have to tell her.

"Hey, Tholker?"

"Tholker?"

"Oh, sorry. Yeah?"

"Do, uh... do you think you could teach me how to use a knife?"

"Well, sure, but... where did this come from?"

"With everything being as messed up as it is now, it just seems like a good idea to learn a bit about self defence. It'd be useful later in life anyway."

"Alright. Come on, we'll go to the training facility."

Tholker took Karla to a large room in the training facility with several training robots standing against the walls, all turned off, set aside for those wanting to hone only their close-combat skills. One of the walls had lockers and cases filled with melee weapons sitting against it. From one of the cases, Tholker acquired three curved knives used by the Imperial Armed Forces. He turned on one of the robots and brought it to the center of the padded floor. He beckoned for Karla to come a bit closer.

"Knife fighting is an art, a rather simple art. However, it is tough to master. If you keep at it, though, you'll be bringing down opponents in short order. The first thing you're going to have to learn is proper stance. So, put your right leg a little bit forward like this..."

And so, Tholker taught Karla the basics of knife fighting. Over the course of two hours, Tholker went over stances, very basic attacks, and very basic blocks. While Karla had been listening intently and going over the movements very well with the training bot, Zhevhyit made a point of asking if she wanted to stop for any reason every twenty minutes. Each time, she replied,

"Nope, I'm learning how to fight with a knife."

At the end of the session, Tholker had to do the obligatory curb-stomp of the training bot to demonstrate some move or concept that was just beyond what the pupil had already learned. Since he could think of nothing else, Tholker decided that it would be nice to leave The Bunker, and give Karla a nice view of the sprawling city from the top of one of the larger storage buildings. It was easily accessible, and the city was always a nice sight. As the two sat on a bench in the close-combat training room, Tholker spoke up.

"Karla, I was wondering... do you think that you'd want to go to the top of one of the big storage warehouses around this place's entrance?"

"What do you mean?"

"We could just get inside using my senatorial passkey and watch the city from the roof."

"Sure, that sounds like fun... but... what about that group hunting us?"

"They don't know where we are, and I'd keep a close eye out for anything suspicious."

"Alright, will we need anything?"

"I'll just borrow a gun from the armory just in case, and we can head out."

Tholker acquired a Domal Z from the secondary armory before leaving The Bunker with Karla. When they left the awful shack on the surface, they quickly put distance between themselves and said shack. Tholker used his passkey to get inside the tall warehouse/senate office, and they rode an elevator to the second-to-top floor, before taking a staircase to the top.

It was what you could call a majestic view, if you ignored the small bits of trash left on the roof. It provided a spectacular overlook to what could be called one of the galaxy's gems. As painfully cliche as it was, Tholker chose that moment to admit to Karla the feeling growing inside of him unopposed.

"Hey, uh, Karla?"

"Yes, Tholker?"

"This is going to seem rather silly, but, I know that we haven't known each other for that long, but, I firmly believe that I have developed a strong feeling for you that could not be called anything other than... affection."

It was painfully silent for a few moments, until Karla replied,

"So what you're saying is... you love me?"

"I... I gues that would be one way of putting it, however-"

Tholker was cut off by Karla grabbing his face and kissing him.

"I'll never understand this strange galaxy." Tholker mused.

BlossomEdit

How foolish it was, to consider his previous mental state a firestorm. The small conflict in his head before this was nothing more than a small ember, not worthy of any acknowledgement. This was a firestorm. But, it was a perfect storm. It was unbridled, unmistakable, undefeatable, love. Something that Tholker had never experienced. How wrong he was, during their second encounter. Mostly wrong, that is. Love did let Tholker's guard down, but only to the one he cared about. Love brought down the veritable steel wall around his heart, and let in tsunamis of wonderful emotion. It was not rational, it was not quantifiable, it was not learned, and it was not thought-out. But it didn't need to be.

By then, Karla had broken away. She looked Tholker in the eye, smiling.

"I love you. It may not be logical, and it may be occuring very quickly, but I love you." Tholker said resolutely, his voice full of confidence.

This time, Tholker made the move. He pulled Karla towards him with one arm across the lower back, and one arm across the upper back. Karla responded by grabbing the back of his head. Again, they kissed. But this time, it was deeper, and filled with much more emotion.

How could Tholker ever think this was dangerous?

After about fifteen seconds, they broke off, and Karla nuzzled her head into Tholker's neck.

"Tholker... what impossible string of coincidences caused this?"

"I'm not sure that I would call this a string of coincidences, love." Tholker replied in a low voice.

Upon hearing the last word of that sentence, Karla looked up at Tholker and smiled. They sat down on the edge of the building, and remained there for several minutes, simply enjoying each other's company. Tholker then broke the silence.

"Karla, want to go back inside The Bunker?"

"Yeah, sure... let's go inside."

The two left the rooftop, and took the building's elevator back to the ground floor. From there, they went to The Bunker's cover shack, and back inside the complex. When they reached the lobby, a staff member standing next to the front desk walked up to Tholker.

"Ah, Captain Zhevhyit?"

"Yes?"

"Some of the guys down at intel need you for something. They said they were gonna call you, but Colonel Owar was down there, and he told 'em not to bother you, for some reason."

"Well, this is the opposite of good..." Tholker thought to himself.

"Thank you, then. I'll head down there at once."

"Ok. Good day, sir."

"Good day."

The staffmember walked off.

"Sorry, Karla, I guess we'll have to part for a bit."

"Ah, fine. See me after you're done, though?"

"Sure. I'll be seeing you then."

"Mhmm."

Karla and Tholker went to separate elevators, Karla going to her quarters and Tholker going to the intel department. When the doors of Tholker's elevator parted, he walked out with a stupid smile on his face. He had completed half of his objectives. Now all that was left was to ensure that he was always on his best game. This would no doubt be harder than it sounded, though, for he would have to split his time between training and spending time with Karla, if she so desired to.

While absorbed by his mental victory lap, he failed to notice Etah standing in front of him.

"Oh, eh... hi, Etah." He stammered, surprised.

Etah grinned with a devious look in his eyes, before speaking.

"So half of your objectives are complete, eh? I'm so curious as to what they are..."

Such an obvious tease. He knew, and he was trying to draw out Tholker's anxiety. However, the short soldier had other plans, courtesy of his fast-acting computer mind.

"Oh, so you do? I was just enjoying a moment of peace in the middle of this tumultuous galaxy with my friend. Of course, you probably have much better things to do, right?" Tholker smirked.

"And what would that be?"

"Practicing melee combat on some training robots... alone... maybe watching a movie... alone... I'm so curious as to what you'll do."

Etah raised one brow.

"I see what you're getting at. For your information, I don't neccesarily intend on bearing clutch, in the foreseeable future-"

"Oh, I'm sure that's all it is, Etah. Hehe, don't worry, I'm onl'y messing with you."

Tholker walked by Etah and through the doors to the intel room as he scoffed.

IntelEdit

"Glad you could come, Captain. We have acquired some intelligence on Black Falcon and a certain Franz Wilkter." One of the intelligence staff said excitedly.

"Yes, indeed. You see, Black Falcon normally does much lower-profile work as muscle for hire. It seems they're a large, somewhat co-ordinated group spread across a couple of worlds. This man, Franz Wilkter, is a major crime boss out in the Eteno borderworlds." Another said, pointing to a photograph of an Eteno with dark glasses surrounded by men in suits displayed on one of the monitors in the room.

"So Franz hired them to try and weaken the GSSOC?" Tholker inquired.

"Correct. We believe that Franz is working for somebody that was in league with General Drakko. A certain Renr. He no doubt understands the threat this organization poses, and wants to weaken it in order to make his life easier. This also means that Wilkter is in league with the Kklxin."

"But we can't just go and bust this guy, right?"

"Unfortunately, no. We have no solid evidence and the law is the law. What we can do, however, is try to catch him red-handed doing something that could be called treason. If we come across any sort of Kklxin operation which would require some Eteno assistance, Wilkter will probably be involved. From there, we can assume he'd be present for executive oversight."

"And how do you know that?"

"He's like all the big financial crime leaders in Eteno space. We can't arrest them, but we can still keep tabs on them."

"Fair enough. What do you need me for?"

"When you encountered some of Black Falcon's Kklxin members, were they clones?"

Tholker's mind went into overdrive as he mentally scanned all of the data he had passively collected on his past adversaries.

"They... they were. That confirms it, then?"

"Yes. Wilkter is in league with the Kklxin, and our unconfirmed suspicions are most likely true. Thank you for your time, Captain. We'll contact you if we need anything else."

"Good. I look forward to further unraveling this... plot."

"Alright. See you around."

"Yeah, you too."

Tholker left the intelligence center, and took an elevator to Karla's dormitory complex.

HistoryEdit

The door to the complex opened, and Karla stepped out into the small space between the door area and the elevator.

"Hey, Tholker."

"Yeah, hey. I was wondering if I could ask you some questions, and maybe discuss a few things."

"W... sure, of course. ant to maybe go up to your dormitory, if that's fine...? Probably more space."

"Oh, sure. Come on, elevator."

They rode the elevator car to the team dormitory. The elevator doors opened to reveal the commons. There was no metal passageway between the elevator and the dormitory like other complexes. Tholker led Karla into his room. A large couch and several armchairs surrounded a glass table, with several books stacked on it.

"It's a lot nicer than my apartment..."

"Well, some guys in the top brass think that if they give you luxurious crap, you'll be willing to do all the dangerous missions. If that was what it took, the team member wouldn't be fit for duty."

"You don't seem very high-maintenance."

"I strive to be as low as possible in that area. Come on, sit down."

Karla and Tholker sat themselves down on the couch, sinking into the soft cushions.

"So, what did you want to ask me?"

"Just a bit of basic history."

"History?"

"Well, life history."

"Oh, well, sure. Where do you want me to start?"

"At the beginning."

"Well, ok. I was born and raised on some rim colony. My dad had a good job at a bullet factory, he kept the sorting machines in good repair. I was an only child, and went to private school until Advances. I graduated, and worked at a store as a clerk, until the planet was attacked..."

"What was the planet?"

"Zerevst."

Tholker grabbed a book from the glass table. It was his unit book. Only the most important units ever received hard copies. He opened it, and skimmed through the pages until he stopped at one consisting entirely of pictures. One of the pictures had three soldiers drinking Eteno alchohol on an APC, with a fourth one, Tholker, sitting against a ruined building, frowning at the camera. The text above it read 'Zerevst, after Victory!'.

"You... you were there?"

Tholker nodded.

"That's... pretty incredible. What was the battle like? I was in a bomb shelter..."

"It wasn't too difficult. The Kklxin had us on the defense for half of the battle, but we rallied and fought them back when air support arrived."

"This... this is a strange galaxy."

"Indeed. Is that... where you became a bot?"

"Y-... yeah... unexploded bombs outside the shelter. What about you?"

"Mine."

"Hm... so, tell me about your life history. Not much else to know about me."

"Hardly anything to know about me. I was shy, and I was devoted to whatever I was working on at the time."

"Do you have any siblings?"

Tholker paused for a brief moment, "No. I have no brothers or sisters. It was just me. Ordinary old me."

"Well, it's not everyday that an 'ordinary old me' becomes a special forces soldier, right?"

"Yeah. But other than that, my life really isn't that... significant."

"That's not true, you know it."

"Okay, this team is important, but I'm just a piece of it."

"Good, that's better, I guess. So, what clan are you from?"

"Uhh... Prolsevich..."

Karla's eyes widened as she took in the immensity of the statement.

"Th... the bullet tycoons... the Prolsevich clan manufactures bullets and patrol boats in massive amounts..."

"Yeah, well, I had the choice to leave when my four years were up and go to school to be some corporate bigwig, but that isn't my thing."

"But why? Even the most dedicated soldier would froth at the mouth with that kind of corporation being in the family!"

"Well, my pop hated the idea of me growing up to be some soft, spoiled ass. Completely removed me from any of the luxury that was available, and that has helped me be independent of it all."

"Still, you can't possibly tell me you won't have anything to do with Prolsevich Manufacturing once you do leave..."

"You're right, Karla. I'll probably get some capital from them, maybe start a PMC. Who knows, I might die in service before I get the chance." The words came out of his mouth before he could stop them.

"Please, don't say that, okay?"

"Oh, sorry... yeah... don't worry, with the quality of the robotics I'm made of, I highly doubt that my life will be in much danger, m'dear. So, interested in changing the subject?"

"Sure, sure. What do you have in mind?" Karla inquired.

A smile slowly crept onto Tholker's face, hinting at what he had in mind. Of course, Karla read him easily, and rolled her eyes.

"Oh, come on, get over here."

With that, Tholker pressed his face against that of what could be called his girlfriend.

AftershockEdit

"Checking all motor systems. All motor systems green."

"Checking electrical safeguards. All safeguard systems green."

"All checks completed. Good morning, Captain."

This wasn't right. This wasn't right at all. Tholker was sitting upright...

"What the hell...?" He thought to himself, taking in his surroundings. He was in his room, as he normally was when he woke up each morning in The Bunker. However, he was not in his bed. He looked to his right when he noticed something heavy on his shoulder. It was Karla's head. If Karla fell asleep next to him... and Computer had decided to put him to sleep next to her...

The guys were gonna be asking questions about this. Etah especially.

"Karla... Karla..."

She grumbled, and adjusted herself slightly. She had no intention of getting up.

"Karla, get up."

"Mrmm... no..."

Immediately, a rather mean, but funny, idea came to Tholker's part-robotic mind.

"Attention, citizens. A nuclear warhead is inbound towards The Bunker area. Evacuate the metropolitan area immediately."

Karla shot up, looking about the room. All citizens knew the alarms, and the pre-recorded speeches with the name of the location sloppily inserted into the speech. Nuclear strike alarms, to fire sirens, all citizens knew them by heart. When the female realized she had been tricked out of her rest after looking at Tholker's smirking face, her eyes narrowed.

"That was not very nice, Captain Zhevhyit. Isn't their some sort of regulation somewhere saying you can't call alarms for fun?"

"Well, I'm not an alarm tower, so it doesn't count."

Karla rubbed her tired eyes, sighing and laughing at the same time. Tholker wasn't sure which of the two was more prominent at the time right now. The important thing was getting ready for the day, and possibly locking the rest of the GSSOC in the armory, or something. Through further pondering, Tholker concluded that it would be a futile effort, at best. Ahrganot would find some small space to sneak out of, maybe a vent. He was taller, but thinner. Etah would just bash into the door, because apparently anything he gets angry at is likely to meet a painful demise at the hands of his rage. Lastly, Pyro would just breathe fire onto something. He wasn't sure how it would help an escape, but Tholker, of course, thought it was mighty threatening, as well as awesome.

"Karla, you'll need to go back to your quarters to freshen up..."

"I'll do that. I suppose you'll get ready over here once I leave, so I'll be on my way."

"I will meet you in the mess hall for some breakfast?"

"Mhmm. See ya."

Karla pecked him on the cheek, and walked out of Tholker's quarters, through the common room in which Pyro and Etah were sitting, and into an elevator. Tholker walked out of his door before it closed on its' own.

"Good morning, Colonel, Brigadier Assault Commando."

Etah grinned widely and mischieviously. Tholker pretty much knew what was going through his comrade's mind. Instead of blurting out some elaborate explanation, he waited for the Colonel to begin talking or laughing, whichever came first.

Friends Will Be Friends (Except When They're Not)Edit

Etah could barely contain his laughter. His iron will and discipline helped, but mostly cybernetics.

He could tell Tholker could see it coming. Tholker's heart rate was increased, and a flurry of images was going around his head; mainly of his new girlfriend.

"Hmhmhm.." Etah chuckled.

"Shut up..." Tholker retorted.

"I didn't say anything. Eteno cyborgs must be damned silent, since I didn't hear anything either."

"Shut up, it's not like that."

"Aheh, of course it isn't."

"Etah, don't push it"

"You know, I must ask, if it's not like that, what exactly is it like?"

"I asked her to come down to my dorm so I could talk to her, get to know her some more. We got talking, one thing lead to another and-" Tholker immeditately realized his mistake.

"And you ended up sleeping together."

"...Well, um..."

"Ahahaha!"

"We just ended up falling asleep together!"

"Yes, of course, of course, whatever you say, friend."

"Etah, I seriously want to bash your skull in right now."

"I encourage you to try."

"Maybe I will!"

They stood there for a second, Etah smirking still, and Tholker grimacing slightly.

They both burst out into laughter.

"HAHAHA! 'Bash your skull in'?" Etah mused.

"Ahaha! 'Didn't hear anything'?" Tholker guffawed.

"Ahhh, aha... hm. Well then, if you'll excuse me, I've a meeting to attend to."

"Yeah yeah, alright. See ya 'round, pal."

With that, they parted ways, leaving Pyro, who had been sitting there observing the entire conversation, alone.

"...I'll never understand this universe..."

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