Chapter 32: Armament

"Here ya go, kiddo! Happy early Christmas for ya!" Jaqueline said cheerfully one morning, slapping down a metal object that'd been wrapped in a green and red bow in front of Alexander as he was eating his breakfast.

"That is a gun," the only human on Earth commented with a raised eyebrow, looking from it up to the grinning face of his 'aunt.'

"That is an .45 Invader Mark VII Heavy Revolver!" Jaqueline proudly declared. "Smooth, nickel-plated finish with a fitted, non-stick and non-slip grip, auto ejecting and double action features, it's loaded with seven customized .45 magnum armor piercing rounds, perfect for shooting holes in unruly Machines or androids!"

"That's a real antique there," Hatchet whistled in approval as he peered at it over Alexander's shoulder. "Haven't seen any since my time fighting in the 12th War. What museum did you raid to find it?"

"The twins got it for me," Jaqueline said, still grinning. "They also wanted to give you this."

She placed a large combat knife down on the table next to the revolver. It had a resemblance to a standard singled edged combat knife, but longer and with more pronounced tines on the back that looked like a combination of a saw edge and a blade-breaker. The hilt was wrapped in black faux-leather and the metal parts were polished to a mirror's sheen.

"That sucker is nine inches of titanium-tungsten carbide alloy, with a mono-edge blade capable of rending through even Elite-grade armor plating in a single blow!"

"This thing is practically a sword!" Alex exclaimed as he picked it up.

"That's another antique," Hatchet informed the human. "It used to be called the Ravager, and was carried by a lot of Resistance units back in the 12th and 13th Wars. It was phased out as YoHRa was introduced and they began to issue actual melee weapons like swords and spears again."

The mechanic and handyman repair-android suddenly shivered as he sensed a dark presence, and looked over to see A2 fuming in barely suppressed rage. He silently thanked his lucky stars that the Assault-type's anger was directed at Jaqueline, instead of him.

"Why, exactly, are you giving him these?" A2 demanded.

"Hey, if a crazy Evolved Machine is after him, he better learn how to defend himself!" Jaqueline protested. "We can't always be there for him, or watch him twenty-four seven-"

"Yes, I can," A2 interjected, and everyone, including Alexander, coughed awkwardly at that declaration.

"Err, yeah, anyways, so, as I was saying, us normal folk can't always be watching over Alexander. And even if we do guard him around the clock, what if Purple Athena managed to sneak past us, or worse, defeat us? Then Alexander will be helpless!"

"I do have my magic," he pointed out. It'd only been a couple of days since his chat with Sebastian and his training session, and even if he wasn't the best at it, the last human still felt confident in his ability to destroy any lesser Machines that came his way.

"Yes, but so does she, and who knows what she can do with it," Jaqueline replied, reasonably enough. Alexander couldn't deny that, either, so he merely nodded and went back to examining the two gifts he'd gotten.

"Who is going to teach me how to use these?" he asked, looking between Jaqueline and A2.

"I will."

"That'll be me."

Utter silence fell upon the kitchens, and Hatchet began to inch away as Jaqueline and A2 stared at each other with sparks shooting from each other's eyes. Literally, there were sparks!

"Oh geez. For a moment my ears must have glitched, because I could have sworn that there was a silly gynoid claiming she would be training Alexander," Jaqueline said slowly with a dark, twisted smile aimed at A2.

"My ears must require a software debugging, before it sounded like a mere Resistance model thought she could train Alexander better than an android built literally for combat," A2 shot back, her smiling expression utterly terrifying.

"Um, mom, Aunt Jacky?" Alexander hesitantly spoke up, hoping to draw their attention, but they ignored him completely, their feud consuming all of their focus.

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Hatchet retreating from the kitchen and he mouthed 'Help me!' when the mechanic looked back.

The Resistance repairman looked from Alex to the two fuming gynoids, then shook his head.

"Sorry, you're on your own," he said quietly with an apologetic look.

"Traitor!" Alexander hissed, but Hatchet merely shrugged and fled the scene.

"You must have downloaded something funky to think what Alexander needs is a combat model as a teacher!" Jaqueline exclaimed. "There's no way somebody with no experience could keep up with the high-performance specs you're used to operating under! What he needs is someone more or less at human baseline, and the majority of Resistance androids have only slightly greater strengths, reflexes, and reaction times compared to humans. Training with me will be perfect for Alexander!"

"I think you've been abusing your own damn E-drugs, Jaqueline. My son needs someone who can training him on a personal level, to tailor their teachings to his needs and skills. He won't learn anything from the Resistance training regimen," A2 retorted.

"Um, mom?" Alexander tried again. "Aunt Jacky?"

Neither of them paid him any heed, and so he sighed and got up and walked away from the scene, muttering under his breath about crazy androids. He did take the weapons with him, though. No reason to waste a perfectly good gift.

"So, you just got up and left?" Blue uttered incredulously, staring at her human friend.

"Yup," Alexander said, leaning against the trunk of a tree as his lips twitched in amusement. "And neither of them even noticed! I'm pretty sure they were still arguing when I got here."

The two of them shared a laugh at that.

That was one of the problems faced by many androids, Alexander mused as the wind brushed past his hair. If they got involved in a matter that intrigued them, they could go days without paying attention to anything outside of the subject they were focusing on.

Machine Lifeforms were powered by ingeniously designed cores that were photosynthetic as well as able to extract power from many sources of energy such as electricity and even fire. They could do the same activity over and over so long as they had steady power.

Androids were different. Each one, even Resistance models, were powered by quantum-entangled nuclear fusion micro-reactors. Aka, Black Boxes. Each Black Box was a nigh infinite source of power, capable of providing centuries worth of run-time. It was why they caused such devastating explosions when the self-destruct mechanism was triggered.

As such, androids could get lost in whatever they were doing just as easily. And, as more and more Machine Lifeforms began to choose to link up with Pascal's village or other like-minded mechanical settlements, fewer skirmishes between Machines and androids occurred. At least in this region.

Humans, however, got distract by things like hunger, need for sleep, and 'waste disposal.' Alexander wondered if a couple of the wars and conflicts humanity had experienced in the past could have been avoided if mankind was not so easily distracted. Though he had a feeling that any sorts of violence or fighting would have been severely worse as a tradeoff.

'Just look at the wars between androids and machines here on Earth,' Alexander hummed thoughtfully. I don't think humans would have been able to fight for almost ten thousand years against a single foe, no matter how tenacious both sides were, without trying to find a way to broker peace or dialogue with the aliens and their tools.'

'I heard there is a lot of fighting still going on in Southern Europe and the African theatre. And Russia is still completely under the Machine Network's control,' Alexander mused to himself. 'But here in Central Europe there appears to be more things going right. With the 14th Machine War now slowly but surely coming to an end thanks to the fall of the Tower and the deletion of the Red Girls, and the Network unraveling, I sure hope we can establish real peace soon, before that crazy machine-lady does something stupid to reignite the fighting.'

His emotions then soured as he thought about the strange humanoid machine that wanted to do… something with him. It made him uncomfortable. In a lot of ways.

'Purple's obsession with me is weird,' he mused. 'I am really not looking forward to finding out if she'll be coming for me or not.'

Thinking about Purple Athena, Alexander also couldn't help but feel fuzzy-headed and more than a little bit embarrassed as his body reacted curiously to thoughts about her. And for some damnable reason he couldn't get the sight of her new body out of his mind.

'Can't believe she just went up to me all naked… and why did she look so, so human!' Alexander thought with a pent-up groan of frustration.

He knew why he was reacting to the memories of Athena's body. It was the dreaded and inevitable curse known as Puberty all humans suffered from as they grew older and matured, physically and mentally.

He'd read all about it. Studied it in the form of books, movies, songs, and horrifically graphic and medically accurate lectures from his family. Apparently, embarrassing teenagers with 'The Talk,' as it was known, was an old human tradition.

Alexander had found himself staring at several female model androids in ways he'd never done so before. He felt dirty, thinking about some of them like that. Popola and Devolva, for instance, had more often than not been stared at. And whenever there were female model YoRHa around, like 6O, he couldn't help but sneak peaks against his crumbling will. He knew they weren't human, but apparently his pubescent mind didn't care.

"Have I ever told you how glad I am you're my friend, Blue?" Alexander muttered to his big metal childhood friend. The bow-wearing machine tilted her head in confusion.

"You have. But what brought this on, all of a sudden?"

"Just thinking, is all," the last human (for now) mumbled. "Hey, want to help me practice with my new weapons? And maybe do a bit of magic practice?"

"Sure!" Blue replied cheerfully.

"Awesome!" Alex said, getting up off the ground and dusting himself off. "Let's go the edge of the cliffs, it'll be safer to practice our shooting skills over there."

The two wandered off towards the gorge separating their forest from the one filled with medieval emulating Machines Lifeforms. As they did so, Alexander never noticed Blue observing him closely. And it wasn't like all the other times the Machine Lifeform had done so. Her gaze was intense, and the lens of her eyes glowed bright purple for a few seconds.

Maybe if he had noticed, it would have changed things. Though, as Emil would later privately muse, it probably wouldn't have mattered much anyways. Perhaps speed events up, but change little else overall.

'Such is the curse of a hero,' Emil thought to himself, as memories of a heroic man fighting to save his daughter flickered faintly in the back of his head.

Author's Note: Here's another chapter! Side note, I'll be uploading the first chapter of my newest story soon. It's a Harry Potter fic, so if you like those, why not check it out?
Have a good day!