First of all, allow me to remind you that there's a link to Samantha's drawing in the author's note.
But before you go and watch it, read the whole chapter first.
Interdimensional RED-Coded Contract
Harsh Choice, Harsher Consequences
They returned to the Gamindustri Graveyard and saw their base untouched, fortunately. Deep down Samantha knew that an assault so soon after almost getting assassinated was ridiculous, even for Miss Pauling, but it didn't change the fact Samantha felt relief when they touched down.
Machias was fine… if not bored, annoyed and hungry. He punched Samantha once he learned that they failed to kill Miss Pauling. It hurt him more than her, literally. It felt like he punched a wall.
Falcom was carried into one of the nap rooms. Fancy and with lots of space, two spacious black sofas and a table in between them. Fay put the unconscious adventurer onto a sofa and shackled her to its legs, before sitting on the opposite side. Samantha sat next as well and started summoning items out of her Hammer Space.
She got guns, swords, bows, crossbows, lances, potions, food and even dolls, board games and furniture and more. One could accuse her of being a hoarder, and Samantha would have no basis to deny that. She also had armor in the Hammer Space, but Samantha couldn't wear it. Suits were fitted for her male body, and Fay had vastly different proportions; she was taller and more ample-bodied than Samantha.
Despite that it felt good to have access to her armory. She felt naked without it.
"You have no idea how much I missed all of these." Samantha said, picking up one of the dolls. "Especially these girls." It was an adorable doll made out of white cloth. It even has a light blue frilly dress, a hat and blonde hair. "Can you sew that onto me?" The Overseer asked.
She didn't have to ask twice, Fay already had the needle and thread ready.
Fay wrapped herself around Samantha's arm, fixing it to place with her legs. She slowly and carefully sewed the hands and legs of the doll onto Samantha's sleeve, roughly around the bicep. The Fairy giggled when Samantha moved her fingers, brushing them over Fay's thigh and crotch.
"Keep that up, and I'll mess up." Fay smiled.
Samantha stopped and reached into a stack of gold bars, picking one and examining it idily. "Did we get more gold, or did I just forget how much gold we had?"
Fay kept her eyes on the doll and sleeve, but she still nodded. "I had the luxury of knowing when I'm done with the job. So I sold unnecessary local items and bought as much gold as I could."
"Ah, smart." That meant they have a small surplus in their emergency stash. "...I'm actually indebted to this world's Guild, I'll have to use some of that."
Fay purposely let the needle slip and stab Samantha. The needle bounced off the barrier, but it didn't stop the shiver that crawled up through Samantha's spine. "Tell me. Why didn't I take off the jacket before letting you sew?" The Overseer asked.
"Because you love when I hold you." Fay said.
Samantha had no retort to that.
Fay frowned as she examined the coat's finer details. Something in the back of her head told her that she saw this jacket somewhere else. Black in the middle and sleeves being dark blue in color, black leather straps wrapped around the sleeves, with silver outline. There was no hood but the neck area had a slot to attach it. It felt familiar.
"Where did you get this coat, anyway?" Fay asked.
"Well… Magnavox volunteered to give me a new outfit for when I became a woman. It was the first thing that popped into my mind." Samantha said. "You have to admit it, it's a nice-looking jacket."
"I think I've seen it before." Fay said.
"Huh?" Samantha looked down at her jacket, careful to not hinder Fay's work. "I dunno where you could've seen it. I designed it."
"Maybe that's why." Fay shrugged, not knowing what else she should do. "Maybe you saw someone else wearing it, liked it, and subconsciously copied it.."
"...Were you smoking something before coming back, Fay?" Samantha deadpanned.
The fairy snorted. "No."
Time passed slowly, yet pleasantly. Samantha took this time to debrief Fay about the situation on the Gamindustri, the recent events, past events, her actions and plans for the future, and the people she was working with. While doing so, Fay helped Samantha with the Hammer Space's stocktaking and maintenance, creating a list of items that Samantha could use in her current form.
All of those names, locations and events were starting to blur into one giant mess, Fay couldn't remember them all. "This is too much to take in…" She groaned.
Samantha summoned a rather thick book and handed it to Fay. "Check this out, then." This book wasn't in their inventory last time Samantha checked her arsenal, but she could guess who put it there.
The Fairy stared at the book and took it, opening it. Inside were illustrations of important people, with their names, descriptions and some information written next to them. After that there was a brief summary of past events, and information in-detail.
"Handy." Fay nodded and the book disappeared into the Hammer Space.
"Say thanks to the other Histoire. She prepped this for you." Which was actually a bit funny, because that book Fay just gave away was actually a Histoire as well, but without sentience. A Histoire just gave her a dead Histoire...
Okay, not actually dead. Unborn would be a better way to put it.
After all was done and well, they left the room. Falcom was still unconscious, shackled to the couch and with her weapon taken away. Even if she was to wake up as Hilda, they wouldn't be in any danger. Hopefully.
Machias saw them, and he threw his hands up in the air.
"Finally done? Then how do you plan to deal with all of that shitstorm you caused?"
He wasn't happy.
Samantha wasn't surprised.
"...Also why do you have that doll on your sleeve?" He asked, pointing at the doll clutching Samantha's sleeve, held by sews. Samantha smiled widely and shrugged.
"Why not? She looks cute."
Machias was staring, judging Samantha for her childish fashion sense. He shook his head at her.
"My plan is to sneak into the Basilicom, get 5pb out, and then send you both to Histoire in Planeptune." Samantha said. "She has Team Fortress under her employment, and also they told Miss Pauling to fuck off when she appeared."
"Team Fortress?" Machias said, staring at the Overseer. "You know they're a joke in the mercenary society, right?"
Samantha held out a finger. "But they have Re;Spawn set up, calibrated to work only for them. You have the same enhancements, so they can hook you up to their Re;Spawn and all Miss Pauling can do to you is suck your dick."
"And you think they'll just go ahead and allow me to use their Re;Spawn, just like" Machias snapped his fingers "that?"
"Histoire, Team Fortress and the CPU know me and know I mean well." Samantha said. "If I vouch for you and 5pb, you'll be treated as allies. Or at least as VIPs."
"Because the last plan worked so well." Machias nodded mockingly.
"I helped them wake up Planeptune's CPUs, so they owe me a favor. You'll be fine, worst case scenario both of you will live here in the Graveyard."
Unlike their last operation, this plan had way less chance of failure. All Samantha needed to do is to write a letter explaining the situation, put some Shares on it from her Share Imprint, and Histoire will know it was her. And even if they got denied, then Samantha already has a Plan B and C. Getting 5pb out of Leanbox was going to be the hardest part.
And they have CFW Magic, CFW Brave, and Fay.
Machias was staring at her, looking for any signs of self-doubt or worry. He flared his nostrils and said.
"If this plan of yours fails then I'm leaving. You already failed once."
"If those plans of mine fails you'll be too dead to care." Samantha said back. "I have multiple plans. Multiple!"
"Whatever." Machias left the room leaving the Overseer alone with her thoughts and a Fairy hidden inside the Fury. Samantha put her hand into her pocket and pulled out a knife, just slightly bigger than her own hand, Fay's voice came from it.
"That was… Machias, right? He doesn't trust you, much less like you."
"Oh yeah, I know." Samantha nodded. "I kinda fucked up his life with that last op."
"Mhm…" Fay hummed throughtfully. "And now to talk with those… umm… CPUs was it?" She asked.
"No, CFWs. CFW Magic and CFW Brave. Half-naked lady and a robot respectively." Samantha said. She hid the Fury within her pocket and also left the room, opting to aimlessly wander around the base in hopes of finding one of the leaders.
As fitting from a hidden base inside the Graveyard, a big majority of it was underground. Endless corridors allowed the staff to move around, while countless doors and entrances hid the production lines of Arfoire Chips: The chip that allowed citizens to mod and hack their games. All of that production made a lot of loud noise but Samantha was behind a thick wall, which reduced the racket.
If the CPUs didn't have bigger stuff to worry about, they would love to demolish this place. After all, these chips were the reason why ASIC was leading in terms of shares. And the ASIC had a lot of these chips. Samantha just passed by the storage area and there was enough to fill a huge swimming pool.
The story went from combating piracy and monsters, to combating mafia. Samantha thought to herself.
The Overseer stopped and turned around. There was a group of three people walking towards her, all of them had black uniforms with 'Security' written on their right breast.
"This is a restricted area, ma'am. What are you doing here?" One of them, a small woman, said.
"I'm the guest of the CFWs, Samantha Neikan. I'm just taking a walk around the facility."
Their manners immediately changed after that one. They went from tense, alert and ready to kick Samantha out, to absolutely apologetic in an instant.
"O-Oh, I'm sorry we didn't realize-"
"Just doing your job, I understand." Samantha cut them off, nodding. Someone on-site who obviously wasn't a part of the ASIC? On ASIC's property? Of course security would get involved.
"Yeah." She said.
She continued to stare at Samantha, her gaze made the Overseer start to feel uneasy. "...So am I free to move?" She asked.
The Security guard blinked, snapping out of whatever daze she was in. "Y-Yes! Of course... Goodbye." She turned around and left, her colleagues following her. Samantha watched them go with an odd feeling.
"...This feels nostalgic, somehow." She said to Fay.
"...How?" Fay asked.
To that Samantha had no answer. She was about to leave as well but then a thought occurred to her. A thought that wouldn't leave her mind alone and demanded that she acted right now. Hold up. Hol the fuck up. There was something off about this exchange.
Samantha looked back at the security guards. They were walking away, but if she hurried she still had a chance. Was that him for fuck's sake?! Were Samantha thoughts as she power walked towards the Security guards. "Excuse me!" She called out.
They turned around to face her and the Overseer saw their muscles tense in preparation. Samantha targeted the man on the girl's left, and with lighting speed Samantha swiped her hand across his face.
The short woman immediately tackled Samantha to the ground, acting on sheer reflex. The slapped recoiled from the blow and staggered, his other colleague checked if he was alright while the short woman was kicking Samantha's ass.
...Fay decided to not intervene, opting to let Samantha deal with the consequences herself. Do stupid crap, win stupid prizes.
Tied up to a chair, Samantha bowed towards the attacked security guard.
"I am sorry for attacking you." She apologized.
"It hurt." The guard answered.
Samantha would give him a gold bar as an apology, but her hands were tied. Literally. Instead she stood silent.
"...Why did you even slap him?" CFW Magic asked.
"I thought he was a disguised RED Spy. There was something off about him." There was a non-zero chance that he could be the RED Spy. Magic even found him once!
"...Fair enough." CFW Magic shrugged. The guards' shoulders dropped when they saw their leader accept that excuse without an argument, they were even more shocked when she released her. Once she was free Samantha started to rub and rotate her wrists.
"I'm getting tied up way too often." Samantha said.
"Kinky." Fay commented.
The Overseer blinked. "What? Fay, no!" She pleaded, but her Fairy simply laughed at her reaction. The guards gave her dumbfounded stares, as they heard two voices coming out of one person. However she was free now, so Samantha could walk away. CFW Magic didn't mind, the security guards couldn't do anything. The brunette left through the doors, leaving the guards alone with Magic.
She didn't even took three steps before something else required her attention, namely CFW Brave tapping her shoulder. "Yes?" Samantha asked, raising her eyebrow. "What is it?"
"I need to talk to you, in private." He answered.
Samantha was confused why he wanted to do that, but she nodded. The robot led them to the next room… it was completely identical to the previous one.
"Seems like I'm in demand." Samantha joked. Brave didn't laugh nor comment on that, the Overseer wasn't surprised. He wasn't one for jokes. "Alright, what's on your head? Keep in mind that anything you say will be shared with Fay, I'm not keeping secrets from her." And she was with her too, hidden inside Fury.
CFW Brave didn't mind these conditions. "What I did during this last operation, what you ordered me to do." He emphasized. "I didn't enjoy doing it."
Samantha nodded. "Okay."
"...That's it? That's your reaction?" CFW Brave said.
Samantha inwardly sighed. It was going to be another one of those conversations. "Look. I'm actually really glad you didn't like what you did, it's reassuring. If you did enjoy that, then I might be getting a little worried." People who enjoyed death and destruction often tended to go overboard, if CFW Judge was there instead Brave, Samantha would actually expect everything what she saw back there. "But allow me to ask something. If you don't enjoy blowing everything to smithereens, then why are you equipped with missile pods?"
"They're usually filled with smoke and stun rockets." CFW Brave said.
"Smoke and stun? That's the first time I'm hearing about this."
"You said we needed to kill as many as we can." CFW Brave said.
"...Yeah, I did say this. Didn't I?" She expected to fight an army of Miss Pauling's forces, of course she would prepare to take them down.
"Was it worth it?" CFW Brave asked.
"Were all of these deaths worth it?" He repeated. "We didn't kill Miss Pauling, and we crippled Leanbox and made its CPU our mortal enemy."
"Well Vert was already your mortal enemy, but... you know." She began. This time she'll have to choose her words carefully. "I expected all of them to come back to life, just like Histoire's mercenaries. Instead I found out that they don't even have the necessary equipment set up, and there were locals mixed in with her forces too. I have to admit, I overestimated them."
Lack of Re;Spawn confused her the most. If Miss Pauling was serious about entrenching her forces into Leanbox, she would have a Re;Spawn safety net set up all over the nation. So much that it would be impossible to push them out of Leanbox. But for some reason she did not do it.
"...Or did I? Now that I think about it, that could've been a decoy."
If the district that Miss Pauling conquered wasn't her main HQ, but simply a supplementary one, then things like a small crew or lack of Re;Spawn would make more sense. Some blackmail, bribes and favors and she can have the help of the local populace, and because that base wasn't important, or because there weren't that many of Miss Pauling's goons, the Re;Spawn system wouldn't be needed.
…Was her intel wrong? Did Samantha ever confirm that this was her main HQ?
She knew Miss Pauling was going to meet Machias today. She knew Miss Pauling was in Leanbox for quite some time. Did she ever wonder if Leanbox was her main base? She didn't bother to check that in Machias's memories, as such a detail slipped her mind at that time. But now Samantha Neikan had one very important question to answer.
...If Leanbox wasn't Miss Pauling's main base of operations, then where it was?
"...Oh my god."
Samantha quickly finished her talk with Brave and left. Whatever came from him after that one revelation was kinda lost on the Overseer, she was more focused on figuring out the implications of what this might mean for them.
Fay was still inside her pocket, hiding within the Fury. "So what was that about?" She asked.
"I just realized that what I thought was Miss Pauling's main HQ, might actually not be her main HQ. Which means she has another base and I might've triggered whatever plan she has in store." Samantha answered.
"So…" Fay drawled out. "How screwed are we?"
"Us personally? Not much. Others? A lot. Like... a lot lot. Machias and 5pb in particular There are also the CPUs and Gray Mann, but we'll have to wait and see." Despite being those who did the dirty work Samantha shouldn't be seen as the mastermind but as a mere accomplice, Fay wasn't even present during the operation. CFWs were CFWs, Miss Pauling would probably leave them alone because they can kick her forces's ass. Machias and 5pb were the only vulnerable ones.
"Lot lot." Fay deadpanned, nodding. "Nice. Anyway, so does that change anything or do we still send those two to Planeptune?"
Oh yeah. Their location will play a significant role on what will happen to them.
"That's a good question." Samantha said. "If there's someone who could protect them from Miss Pauling, it would be Histoire and Team Fortress. If Miss Pauling tracked them into this facility," Samantha pointed both of her index fingers at the ground. "all of the people here" She waved her finger around. "would die. It's a remote location with no witnesses and a difficult connection to the outside. Even if they managed to send a SOS, the help wouldn't arrive in time."
Its main advantage was the remote and hard-to-find location. But once Miss Pauling does find it, she can easily storm this place and kill all of the security personnel this place had, and the rest would be defenseless. And she could do all of that without anyone noticing until it was too late. Or she could sneak in the assassins to go after Machias. Miss Pauling already stole Noire under Magic's nose, an assassination would be trivial compared to that.
"And Planeptune would be safer… how?" Fay said.
"First: Planeptune's Government and security already have experience with Mann Co. cloaking and disguises, Miss Pauling will have a harder time infiltrating them." All thanks to exposure to Team Fortress. "Second: The mercs. They have years of experience in countering spies, it would be even harder to slip past them. And as an added benefit they could hook up Machias to their Re;Spawn."
Once that happens, the only way for Miss Pauling to get him would be to disable the mercs' respawn or make them kick him out, both of which would be difficult tasks. "Third: It's a city with lots of people. Too many witnesses to get rid off and crowds are so thick that you can barely move through them." And among those witnesses there would be Guild members patrolling the streets, each of them eager to help at a moment's notice.
"But there could be Miss Pauling's men hiding among those crowds." Fay countered. "It's a double edged sword."
"Yeah. It would be very easy to blend in, but if something happened then there are witnesses and lots of people to help, Guild members among them. These guys will help for sure." It was a choice between a secluded location, vulnerable to attack but well hidden, and a well defended public location. If you consider that Miss Pauling finding Machias was just a matter of time, then this facility would soon be a scene of massacre.
"And what if Miss Pauling takes control of the mercenaries?"
Samantha had to stop, close her eyes and think. What her partner suggested was unlikely, but what if? What if, by some insane chance, Miss Pauling got the mercs to follow her orders again? "It's unlikely, they already showed who they're going to follow." And that answer was Histoire, not the Administrator. "But if something like that happened then we would be fucked anyway. Spy would probably know the best locations to hide Machias, Planeptune would be enemy territory, and so would Lowee. Lastation and Graveyard would be Machias's only bet, but I don't think Gray Mann would simply let him be." He would think Machias was a Spy sent by Miss Pauling, and be killed or tortured for information.
"So a worst-case scenario?" Fay summarized.
"Yeah." Samantha said.
"Then what are we going to do with Miss Pauling?"
Samantha considered their options, they did not look good. "...We can't do much without any leads. Prepare, wait and see seems to be our only real option." Unfortunately.
"What about getting 5pb?" Fay asked.
"That's under 'Prepare'. The moment Miss Pauling finds out Machias is AWOL, she'll go for his friends and family. We'll need to deny her that." His family was back on Earth, Samantha had no access there. She can only hope they'll be spared because they legitimately have no idea where he could be, nor there was any possibility of contacting them. And the only friend he has in Gamindustri was 5pb.
"Anything in our Hammer Space that could help?"
"Battle Scanners could counter disguises and invisibility watches, but unless the enemies are actually on site they're useless." They were also single-use items, throwing them all willy-nilly would be a waste. "Anything else... Battle Scope would be fooled by disguises, and it can't see invisible targets." And it wasn't like Miss Pauling's men were anything special. Just simple mooks with knives, pistols and shotguns. Subpar foes without Fay, a mere annoyance with Fay. Some of them had SMG's for continuous damage, but nothing her barrier couldn't handle.
They returned to where they left Falcom and Samantha opened the doors. She looked inside and stepped out, shaking her head. "Still unconscious." The Overseer said and checked the time. "But not for much longer I think, what should we do?"
Fay looked thoughtful for a moment. The blonde knew what she wanted to do, but at least she pretended to consider their options. "Hmm… do you think they have private rooms?" She asked.
"We could ask, why?"
"I want a quickie."
Falcom opened her eyes, and saw an unfamiliar ceiling.
The first thing she felt was pain. "Ow?" Then the soreness and sickness, she felt like crap and her body yearned for more sleep. The adventurer closed her eyes, hoping that she'll wake up feeling better. She tried to shift into a more comfortable position, but her left hand and leg couldn't move - she were restrained.
She tried again, and the handcuffs scraped against her skin. She looked around but found no one in her limited view. "Hello?" The adventurer called out. "Is anyone there?"
The doors opened and CFW Magic peered through. She took one short glance at the adventurer and left, closing the doors. Falcom was left staring dumbfounded at the door, as the leader of ASIC left before the adventurer could even say anything.
'...That was something.' She thought to herself.
Hopefully she left to notify others, especially Samantha. The other part of her brain wished that they also bring some food, as she felt hungry and thirsty. All that running and fighting has built up an appetite.
An… unknown amount of time passed, and Falcom was still alone with her mind. Listening to herself as if she was listening to some podcast. Her thoughts wandered all different directions, trying as hard as she could to not go crazy from the boredom. There wasn't any clock within her view, so the adventurer had no idea how much time actually passed. It could be hours, but it might as well be only few minutes.
Goud means gold, which was why Gouda cheese is called like that.
Lying on the bed for a prolonged amount of time with nothing to do was mind-bogglingly boring. She actually took a nap at some point and woke up, with no one else in the room. She shouted for someone to come but no one answered. She tried to break free but she failed and now her wrist hurt, her skin scraped by the metal.
Then the doors opened and Falcom's first thought was I'm saved! As Samantha entered the room. "You okay there? I'm not talking to Gehaburn am I?" She asked.
"No, it's me." Falcom said. "Gehaburn's asleep."
"Uh-huh." The Overseer hummed. "Then answer me this: How did you meet Nepgear?"
"Under what circumstances did you meet Nepgear for the first time." Samantha repeated, her voice slower and tone louder.
This question wasn't hard to answer, but Falcom was worried why she was asking it. She thought back to that moment and answered. "Me and Nisa were fighting an Ancient Dragon. It went Viral mid-battle and we were about to die, but Nepgear, her friends and the mercs saved us. That was my first meeting with her."
Samantha stared at Falcom's face, examining the features on her face. The adventurer shifted away from the Overseer's gaze, not wanting to look into those evil-looking eyes.
Then Samantha smiled and said "Good answer." and she opened the shackles binding Falcom to the bed, freeing her. Falcom groaned and rubbed her sore wrist, a small piece of her skin was scraped. It itched annoyingly.
"Why the question?" Falcom asked.
Samantha tapped her temple. "Gehaburn." She said and Falcom immediately understood. "She possessed you again, and after what I saw I was afraid it was permanent. Good thing Fay's back, otherwise we would have a very big problem on our hands."
Falcom hummed, closing her eyes and lying on her bed. She wondered how Gehaburn even possessed her this time, there weren't any CPUs in the vicinity. It wasn't like before, where she slowly lost control, where she could feel Gehaburn trying to move her limbs. This one was instantaneous, one moment Falcom was trying not to puke, the next Gehaburn took over.
"Fay?" Falcom said, her eyes slowly widening. "You mean she finally arrived?"
Samantha laughed and walked towards the other couch. Falcom noticed how far her legs were apart, and how weirdly she was walking. "Are you alright? You're kinda walking funny."
Samantha snorted once Falcom pointed it out. She crashed on the couch, sitting with her legs spread out. "Well… like any healthy couple who missed each other, we started to have sex the first moment we could... And Fay was relentless."
The Overseer watched Falcom grow bright red at the casual mention of intercouse. Samantha covered her grin as Falcom struggled to form a sentence, like a very innocent teenager who just heard about sex for the first time in her life.
"O-Oh, o-oh. O-Okay I-I see."
"Why are you acting so awkwardly?" Samantha questioned. "You're a grown-ass woman, I thought you already knew what sex is."
"You just casually mentioned that! It took me off-guard!" Falcom said.
Samantha rolled her eyes and pulled out a knife, before placing it on the table in between them. It's blade was green while the handle was made out of gold, with a white diamond acting as the pommel.
Samantha motioned at the dagger, then at Falcom, before again at the dagger. "Fay, Falcom, Falcom, Fay."
Falcom blinked. She pointed her finger at the weapon, her mouth open from shock. "That's Fay?"
"Yes." Samantha nodded.
has stopped working…
Falcom thought Fay was a woman. Every time the topic fell on her, Samantha was speaking about Fay as if she was a person. But now Samantha pulled out some fancy knife and said that this thing was her long-lost girlfriend, and apparently she just had an intercouse with it. Obviously something was not right here.
"...Nah, you're joking." Falcom shook her head. "I'm calling it out. You're just messing with me."
"Tsk." Samantha clicked her tongue, smiling. "She didn't fall for that. Fay, you can come out now."
Then Falcom witnessed something she had never seen before. A small ball of light emerged from that small dagger. This light flew next to Samantha and grew, before turning into a fully-fledged woman. Fay sat comfortably on the couch, gauging Falcom's reaction.
"Okay." Falcom's mind stopped working for the second time. "What was that?" She pointed at Fay, who was smiling. "Also hi, I'm Falcom."
"My name is Fay, nice to meet you." Fay nodded. "Short answer is; I'm Sam's Fairy," she wiggled her wings for the emphasis, and then motioned towards the knife on the table. "and that's my Fury. My home so to speak."
"It's also my primary weapon." Samantha added, raising her finger. "It's fully customizable. Shape, mass, volume, weight. All of those things I can change at will." She grabbed the Fury and held it for Falcom to see. The adventurer's eyes widened when the knife changed into a long-barreled sniper rifle. "See? And this weighs less than a feather." To emphasize that, she held the weapon with just her pinky.
Then the sniper rifle turned back into a knife. "Or I turn it into the heaviest thing in Gamindustri." Samantha placed it on the table. At first nothing happened, but after a short moment the table began creaking under pressure. A moment later the table gave up completely. Falcom's breath hitched when she saw the furniture crumble under the Fury's weight.
"It's a perfect, versatile weapon. It can also shoot bullets and arrows but it actually need any ammunition."
"Cool." Falcom breathed out and reached out to grab the Fury.
Samantha and Fay's eyes widened as her fingers closed in on the handle. Fay shouted at her to stop but it was too late, Falcom's hand has already touched the Fury. A purple spark touched her and Falcom fell onto the floor, not to get up again.
Fay rushed in to help Falcom while Samantha facepalmed. "Are you okay?" Samantha asked, hiding the Fury into her Hammer Space.
Fay shifted Falcom onto a more comfortable position, with her head on her lap. Falcom tried to say something, but only groans left her mouth. Her muscles twitched and wouldn't listen to her, neither would her mouth. She could only turn her eyes in panic.
"That's just Developed Paralysis. Don't worry it will wear off after a couple minutes." Fay soothed.
"Next time… please keep your hands to yourself." Samantha added.
Whatever Falcom tried to say all they heard was a groan. Fay gently scooped her up and placed her back on the couch, while Falcom was forced to just stare at the ceiling. Until Falcom recovered Samantha and Fay killed the time by playing chess. They managed to do a match and half before Falcom regained her ability to speak.
"Oooh… Oh, I can talk again? That… hurt." Falcom grumbled.
"Lesson learned." Samantha said.
"Yeah." Falcom sighed. She was back to lying on the couch, as the paralysis slowly subsided. Because apparently this wasn't the usual kind of paralysis - this one took ages to stop and the effects gradually wore off. She still couldn't move, but at least she could speak.
"You're lucky Fay's element is lighting." Samantha said. "If she was either fire or earth, you would be lit on fire… or turned into rock." Or drown if she was water, or get blasted away if her element was wind. In short grabbing an active Fury, without its Fairy's consent, was a bad idea.
"I think dark or light would be scarier." Fay murmured, hiding the pieces into the chessboard. "The Fury would either destroy your mind or your body."
"Nah, ice is the worst." Samantha shook her head. "You touch it and it instantly freezes your limb, no way of saving it."
"...Can you guys stop? It's disturbing." Falcom said.
"Sorry, sorry." Samantha apologized. "You got lucky, though. Last guy who tried this got completely fried. Dead on the spot."
"Stop!" Falcom shouted. She learned her lesson, she won't grab others' weapons anymore. Desperate to find anything to change the topic, Falcom settled her gaze on the doll attached to Samantha's sleeve. "Why do you have a doll on your shoulder?"
Without missing a beat, Samantha answered. "It's an Emergency Puppet, as the name implies it's for the emergencies."
"What does it do?" Falcom asked.
"That's for me and Fay to know, and for everyone else to wonder."
Falcom sent the Overseer a dull look. She shook her head at Falcom. "It's my safety net, and it works the best when no one is aware of its function."
"Uh-huh." Falcom didn't buy that. She looked at the doll once more. It looked well made and expensive, and there was a lot of thread used to keep it attached to Samantha's sleeve. It seemed like it would be hard to get it off.
"Hey uh… Samantha." Samantha told her to ask about it after the operation. Now that they had some free time it seemed like a good opportunity. "About yesterday, you said to ask you about-"
"That. I know."
About the Vile God, and how Samantha and Fay even got into this mess. Yep, this was going to be a long story.
For a good moment they were silent. Fay went back to the Fury to rest. Falcom patiently waited for Samantha to start talking. Samantha was figuring out where to start this topic.
After a moment of silence she sucked a deep breath.
"To make you understand the severity of what I'm going to say, first I'll need to explain who we" she motioned at herself and then at the Fury, where Fay was hiding "actually are, and where we come from. And in order to do that, I'll need to give you some context on how in the actual hell we even got into this mess in the first place."
Because that... was a whole different story, enough to fill a book if Samantha bothered to keep all of the details. She still had her Mission Log from back then, but she didn't want to look at it. She didn't want to… have these memories resurface.
"First of all… my last name is not actually Neikan." That raised some eyebrows from Falcom. "It's been thrust upon me, I hate it, but I'm obliged to use it. The Vile God, that petty bastard forced me to do it."
"Why?" Falcom asked.
"As retribution. So that my name would 'fit my deeds' as he put it." Samantha made the air quotes with her fingers. Even she knew this was BS, and Falcom could see that by her expression.
"Anyway. Like I said before, neither me nor Fay are from Gamindustri or Earth. We actually hail from a whole different universe, one with their own culture, terminology and rules. Zelwinds was my home's name. It was the land known for having a lot of Furies, and by extension lots of Fencers and Fairies."
"By the way." Samantha said. "You can hear everything I'm saying, right? Like… the seal isn't censoring anything, right?"
"Y-Yeah, I can." Falcom nodded, then she smiled sheepishly. "Zelwinds, Fencers and Fairies. It kinda goes over my head a little, but I can clearly hear you."
"You can, huh." Samantha nodded, stroking her chin. "This proves my theory, then. Anyway; A Fencer is someone who uses the Fury. Like me. A Fairy is an… entity, human or not, who lives inside the Fury and chooses their Fencer. A Fury is this." Samantha pointed at the knife on the table. "Easy to understand?"
This one Falcom easily understood, she nodded at the Overseer.
"Good…" Samantha said. Falcom waited for her to continue, and then waited a bit longer. When Samantha wasn't continuing for a good couple seconds Falcom decided to ask. "Uhh… Samantha?"
She scratched the back of her head "Sorry… uhh... I've actually forgotten how that part of my story played out." She should look through that Mission Log, but nope. She won't. "The bigger, broader stuff I still remember… vaguely. I might get some parts wrong. But the finer details I completely forgot." Because after centuries of not thinking about it, her memories started to fade away. If Samantha waited a bit longer then even those broader stuff would disappear from her memory.
"The gist of it was: In Zelwinds there were two gods, with their powers comparable to Magnavox. And both of them fought for centuries… ultimately sealing each other in the end. We knew these deities as the Goddess, and the Vile God. Which one is good and which one is bad I'll leave to you." Samantha said.
"And people on Zelwinds wanted to unseal them, because some dumb fucks spread the rumors that doing so would grant you your wish. And because of that, people fought among themselves to achieve that." Samantha raised her right hand. "There was one group of people who wanted to unseal the Goddess." then she raised her left hand. "And there was a different group which wanted to unseal the Vile God." And finally Samantha brought both of her hands together. "I was in the middle, helping and hindering both parties as the opportunity arose."
"In his ever-increasing thirst for money and material goods!" Fay chirped in.
Without losing her expression, Samantha answered with "Let's not speak about the old me. Anyway, the group who wanted to unseal the Vile God... caught wind of what I was doing."
"They killed me. Me and Fay."
"They what?" Falcom blinked. That wasn't a direction she predicted this story would go on.
"I DIED!" Samantha stood up, hands thrown into the air. "And not even at the end of the story! They found out I was selling intel to their enemies, and was like 'oh no you did not! YOU DID NOT!'" She clapped her hands, loudly. "And then they killed me. They cursed me, we fought and then I lost. And Fay died with me because Fairies die when their Fencer gets killed."
She calmed down, sat, continued. "Funnily enough, after my death I actually met that Vile God they were so obsessed about. He judged my soul, because that's what happens after you die, and I got… an eternal labour."
"He gave me away to his friend, who then gave me away to another friend and I kept changing owners until I got here. To Magnavox." And celestials have a lot of friends, so Samantha and Fay could be busy for a literal eternity.
"What?" Falcom asked.
Samantha sighed and tried to explain it a bit easier. "I wake up in a different universe. I do the tasks placed upon me. I finish or die. I wake up in a different universe. Rinse and repeat. Fun fact: That seal that was placed upon me is there so other people can't learn from me about the other universes… so I guess you're the first outsider to know that."
"Oookay." Falcom was getting lost. Maybe it would be better if all of it stayed a mystery. "What about her?" But on the other hand, she was curious about Samantha's past. And apparently she was the first person to hear her talk about it.
Samantha looked at the Fury Falcom was pointing at. "Fay… um." She laughed, but it was a sad laugh. As if laughing at an inside joke from a deceased friend. "You know, usually Fairies die when their Fencer gets killed. However the last prick I worked with decided 'you know what? Let's not do that. Let's separate both of them!'" And then she stopped, noticing she was about to go off-topic.
"I went with him." Fay said from the Fury. "After we died, I decided to stay with Sam as he was banished. Forever and ever."
"Forever and ever." Samantha repeated, a small smile on her face.
Falcom thought this was sweet.
So two parties were trying to revive a deity, and Sam was playing both sides for profit. One of them didn't like that so they killed Sam, which sent him to meet the deity to be judged. He got eternal labor, and Fay decided to go with him. That was her past. That was his and Fay's past. Falcom finally learned their story.
"What kind of jobs were you taking?" Falcom asked.
"Ugh…" Samantha groaned and for a moment Falcom thought she touched a nerve. "It was all kinds of jobs, really. Short and long, easy and painfully hard, simple and complicated. Anything you can imagine, you can bet I was forced to do it at some point."
Falcom thought Samantha would end it on that, but then she started counting off her fingers. "I was a hero, a villain, a side character, a minor character, one of the main characters, the main character. A shopkeeper, a guard, a thief, a terrorist, a ruler. All kinds of work really!" Samantha exclaimed, before quickly calming down. "Which is why I have so many skills. Because there was always a job or two that taught me how to use those skills. And more-often-than-not these were useful later on.
That was how she could do anything they needed and more. Samantha learned those skills during her previous lives, her previous assignments.
"Those tasks they gave me aren't even set in stone. I saw it many times where my employer would change my objective because they thought it would be hilarious. Become a shopkeeper? Now you're a thief! Go there and work in the mines? Now you're a soldier fighting off a tide of zombies, or violently suppressing a rebellion. Save the world? Nah, destroy it instead! Betray and kill all of your friends for my enjoyment!"
She was venting, Samantha was using this opportunity to take her frustration and throw it all at Falcom. "You have no idea how it feels. You make connections, friends even, and all it takes is one word, one simple command, and fuck all of the bridges you built! At best you'll just abandon them, make them wonder where the hell you went. At worst you're forced to betray them, kill them. Because a god thought it'd be funny."
Samantha paused, letting her words sink in. Falcom could see her staring off in the distance, as if memories were playing before her eyes. Fay left the Fury and sat next to Samantha, consoling her with an embrace, making her remember that she was still there for her.
With a shuddering sigh Samantha continued. "I'm rambling, aren't I? This is the first time I'm talking to someone about all of this. Fay knows, but that's because she was there with me the whole time. Anyone else? They wouldn't be able to hear it, the seal would just censor everything. Even to Fay it's all probably just some blabbering." This was her first and possibly only chance to talk about this. Falcom now understood why she was so shocked when she asked Samantha about the Vile God.
Samantha scratched her head. "And about that seal… My guess why you can even understand me is because I... basically copy-pasted my seal onto you. In the eyes of that seal, you and I are the same… so it probably thinks I'm just talking to myself."
To that she also added. "Unfortunately it's also a bad thing for you."
Falcom's stomach sank. What sort of bad news was she in for? The adventurer gulped in anticipation and asked. "Why?"
Samantha sighed. "Magnavox already chewed me up on this." She said. "Because you and I are the same to the system, if you die you'll go through the same thing as I did."
Samantha expected her to panic. Show some fear for her future, anxiety of how her life is going to look like. Instead Falcom idly stared at the Overseer and gave her the most unsurprised, dull. "Uh-huh… okay." Samantha has ever heard in a while.
"You're not bothered by the fact that I ruined your future?" Samantha asked.
"I am immensely bothered, but the severity hasn't hit me yet." Falcom shrugged and leaned back. "It'll happen after I die, right?"
"Yes, but Magnavox is already working on fixing this. Best case scenario, she'll manage to resolve this mess and you'll go to whatever afterlife Magnavox has prepared for this universe. If not… welcome to the team! Even though we'll probably never see each other ever again after this… it will be nice to work with you." Samantha said.
"Is there anything I can do about that?" Falcom asked.
Samantha shook her head.
"Then I'm more worried about the Gehaburn." Falcom deadpanned. "With her at least I can do something about that." Even if it was just prolonging the inevitable.
Samantha was impressed how well Falcom was taking in that info. But now that the topic fell on Gehaburn. It was time for that, and Samantha had no idea how she should play it. If she can even play this. Falcom was the only person she could disclose this information, Samantha choosed to do it out of her own free will. Just like she choosed to get rid of the Gehaburn once and for all.
"Oh boy, the Gehaburn." Samantha sighed and steeled herself.
"More bad news?" Falcom asked.
"Yes. And worst of all, this one isn't even an order. I decided it myself."
Falcom blinked. "Decided what?"
Samantha reached out to her and a pink mist appeared around her hand. It cleared and Falcom was staring down the barrel of Firecracker. Hey eyes widened in shock, while Samantha's expression didn't change at all.
"It really hurts me to do this. I'm sorry."
A loud, deafening bang was heard by everyone in the facility, as the projectile soared towards Falcom… right into her head. The Adventurer's head was thrown back from the force. The bullet went through her head and stopped at the wall, leaving a hole inside.
Falcom didn't die.
But she needed to die.
The bullet went through her head, and her body scattered as it did so, becoming a black mist. Falcom disappeared and reappeared again. Dazed, confused, and stunned. Samantha shot again.
She was the first person who knew her story. Samantha could say everything she wanted to her, but the soul of Gehaburn inside her forced Samantha to choose. A friend, or everyone else.
She pressed the trigger again, sending another bullet towards Falcom.
Falcom didn't die, Samantha tried again.
Because above all… was the mission.
The Overseer's heart sank as each bullet went through Falcom, doing no damage to her. She was about to reach for the Fury and do the job with Fay's magic, when suddenly Falcom swung at Samantha. The brunette yelped in shock as something cut through the Firecracker and her barrier, injuring her fingers.
The cut piece of Firecracker fell onto the ground while Samantha stared at Falcom, completely possessed by Hilda Gehaburn.
And there was Gehaburn in her hands, pointed at Samantha's throat.
This didn't make sense to the Overseer. Falcom was supposed to be unarmed, she personally took away Falcom's sword. And why were her fingers bleeding? Samantha's whole body was supposed to be protected by the barrier.
Why hadn't Falcom attacked yet?
Falcom's hand was shaking, as if struggling against some invisible force. The adventurer grit her teeth and winced, clutching her head. This was enough of a distraction for Samantha to grab her Fury. The moment her hand touched her weapon, Fay started casting.
Possessed Falcom swung her sword.
"Executing: Lighting Hands."
One stroke deflected Gehaburn's attack, two others attacked Falcom. The golden blade went through Falcom's leg and neck, but just like the Firecracker it did no damage. The Overseer braced herself for a retaliatory strike, but Falcom simply turned around and ran.
"Stop!" Samantha reached out towards her, a white glyph already appearing at her fingertips.
Possessed Falcom reached a wall and crashed into it, turning her whole body into black mist and scattering it. She disappeared. Samantha looked around, waiting for her to reappear somewhere again, but as time went on and all they heard was silence Samantha and Fay started to realize what happened.
Then she jumped as the doors were kicked off the hinges. CFW Brave stood in the doorway, both of his swords ready to fight. "What is going on?" He asked.
"Falcom ran away, she's now a threat to everyone. Get Magic and help me find her." Samantha ordered. Then with a much softer, sadder voice she added. "...Kill her."
For a brief moment CFW Brave paused, surprised by this order. "...Understood." His tone suggested that they'll have another discussion soon. But right now, Samantha had to make sure that Gehaburn will stop being a problem.
Samantha genuinely wanted to avoid doing this. Every day she prayed that she might find just one small lead on how to undo the possession, but it seemed her time has run out. Falcom was already lost, all she could do was to make sure Gehaburn wouldn't harm anyone else.
...And that meant getting rid of the host.
The whole base was on high alert, with dozens of personnel looking around for Falcom, Samantha and Fay included. The CFWs searched the area from the sky, scanning the whole Graveyard for her. Machias refused to help, citing that this was Samantha's mess and that she should fix it.
In the end they couldn't find her, not even CFW Magic could locate her.
Hilda Gehaburn was on the loose… and with that the whole Gamindustri was in danger.
Emergency Puppet - An adorable-looking doll made out of white clothing. Her name is Victoria and she has light blue frilly dress, a hat and blonde hair. An accessory for emergencies.
Stats are unknown to everyone but Samantha Neikan and Fay
Interdimensional RED-Coded Contract
Harsh Choice, Harsher Consequences
Finally, the ending of Leanbox arc and why I wanted to delay everything.
Press F for Falcom because the poor girl is now permanently possessed. Now you know why I said that the LAN Castle side-arc was important for the finale.
The stuff that happened in Zelwinds is what will happen in the Samantha-centered prequel, which will cover Samantha's and Fay's start as a Fencer and a Fairy.
While this is the last chapter of Leanbox arc, we got one more chapter in this batch. And it will be back to mercs. I decided that after making you wait for so long just for Samantha-centered chapters wasn't fair, so we'll end everything with the mercs.
Also since I'm not yet finished with rewriting the past chapters (I want to rewrite everything until Histy Meets Them All Part. II) I'll have to unfortunately delay the next chapter. Sorry, but I wanted to rewrite those early chapters for so long and I'm committed now.
Earlier I asked you to tell me what do you think about Samantha. Some of you said she was okay with nothing major to complain, others noted her as mysterious and pity her. One guy called her a harem protagonist (lol) and I'm still waiting for his explanation.
Now with her backstory revealed tell me if your opinion about her changed.
And here's the link to Samantha's art, wielding the Firecracker and the Fury. I really love the details the artist put into it, and I wonder how many people will notice not so subtle similarity between her and a certain someone.
htt()ps:/i.()imgur.()com/()tDaKswJ.()png (Remove the "()" when typing it into the browser, ff net doesn't allow to upload links.)
You can also find it on the r/gamindustri subreddit. It will be in the thread notifying people about this chapter.
Yes, Kindness is in fact an Undertale reference, Though I don't have plans to make more Undertale references.
Did you enjoy this fall too?
On the day I was supposed to post a new chapter, you appear.
...I never actually thought to see Sam VS Vert as Sam venting, but now I think this would be a great direction to take.
As for Falcom attacking Magic I wanted to show that Hilda is unpredictable and dangerous to everyone around her, and also give Brave the reason to stay away from a fight and allow me to do a nice 1v1.
The razorback was a fun little thing that I thought about once, and immediately done it because of how great this scene would be. And the Mortal Punishment is Hilda's EXE Drive, so it was understandable that she would be mad. Her ultimate move got denied buy one flimsy box.
A fun fact: I outright copied the attack from Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd. Falcom is pretty similar to Estelle from the Trails in the Sky trilogy, so I want to give her more references to LoH because I love it.
As for Falcom's fate…
...I think you just seen it.
- Harmless Orange