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Project Guardian

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OOC: Private RP, gave it an 'NC-17' for violence, gore and dark themes.


 

Project Guardian

 

Breakfast was always a rushed affair in the Nakamura household. Ai always woke up late, so her father, Satoshi, always had to pick up her slack. Today was no different. She woke with a start, after realising she'd reset her alarm more than a dozen times. It was 8:43am and she had less than 20 minutes to get to school on time. She heard the pop of the toaster ejecting delicious, crispy toast as she fumbled down the stairs, trying to slip-on her other shoe.
"You're late!" Her father growled, but he smiled against his temper as she darted past him, kissing him on the cheek as she grabbed a slice of toast. His toast. He rolled his eyes and tried to grab the second slice, but she snatched it from the toaster as she was swallowing down the last piece of the first slice. "OI!!" He made a sour face.
"I'm late!" She rationalised, and he found himself unable to argue. She grinned and grabbed her backpack. 
"I'm working late tonight, so--"

"--'kay, bye!!" Ai waved goodbye to her father as she rushed out the front door and immediately collided with a young boy who crumpled to the ground as though hit by a truck.
"Ah, geez!" The short brown-haired boy stared up at the raven-haired girl and scowled, "Ai, you could be a little more careful!"
"Sorry." She helped the boy to his feet, grinning at him. It took him a moment, but he returned the grin himself. "Come on, we're going to be late, Takashi!"
"I wouldn't be late if you didn't run into me every morning, i'm gonna start walking down a different street." He grumbled, shoving his hands into his pockets.
Ai grabbed his arm, pulling his hand out and started to run, "Come on!" She yelled, as they sped up and Takashi was virtually pulled along the street.

Ai sat on a park bench. School had been a pain. Yes, she was late. It didn't help that the school had an outdated punishment system thanks to the old-school headmaster. Both Takashi and herself spent two hours stood in front of the main gate, holding a bucket of water in each hand, with the sign, 'I am a truant' around their necks. She stretched her shoulders and relaxed them as best she could.
"I can't believe we were out there for so long, d'you think they forgot us?" Ai asked, brushing her scruffy hair out of her dark brown eyes. "Takashi?" She looked over, expecting to see her friend. But he wasn't there. She looked around for a moment, but realised he must have gone for snacks or something. Ai got up from the bench and walked over to sit in the shade of a nearby tree. She blinked, and for a moment, she saw a boy standing on the other side of the school fence, staring at her.

Then he was gone, just as quickly. Ai frowned, but before the thought could permeate, she saw a can of drink appear in her periphery and she looked over to see Takashi standing there, waiting.
"Did you hear me?" He asked, sighing, "Come on, i'm waiting!" 
She took the can of iced green tea, thanking him as he sat down beside her. "There, that's better." Takashi sighed, enjoying the relief from the hot summer's afternoon sun. 
"Did you see a boy over there?" Ai asked. "A boy with white hair?" 
"White hair?" Takashi repeated her question in disbelief, "What a poser... where?" 
"Right over there." She pointed at the fence.
"Well... he's gone now!" Takashi took a sip of his drink. "Well, anyway, I--" 
"Hmm?" Ai looked over, but her friend was gone. Ai stood bolt upright and looked around, "Takashi?!" She called out, there was no response. She walked around the diameter of the tree, assuming he was hiding from her, but he was nowhere to be seen. He was just... gone. "Like the boy with the white hair..." She muttered.

There was a flash of red light. 

Ai stumbled as she hit the last step on her staircase, "Hey!!" She yelped, and fell forwards, grabbing onto the railing to stop herself from falling flat on her face. She collapsed in a heap and looked around. What just happened? Had she been talking to someone? She remained seated on the step for a few minutes until her father came running past, a piece of toast hanging from his lips.
"Come on, Ai! It's 8:45am, you're going to be late!" Her father marched past her, "I'll see you later, okay? I'm going to be working late tonight, so--"
"--kay... bye..." Ai muttered, watching as her father ran out the door, closing it behind him. She heard a distant voice, "Morning Takashi!"
"Oh!!" Ai exclaimed. She leapt to her feet and ran for the front door, forgetting her backpack entirely. She grabbed the door handle, twisted it open and stepped out into--

Another flash of red light.

Ai felt something strange between her toes. She looked down, and saw she was stood in sand. She was on a beach. She recognised it immediately. It was the beach near Okinawa that her father had taken her many times before. They went scuba-diving here. But wasn't she in her house a moment ago? And it was morning, but now the sun was... Ai looked up, shielding her eyes from the full force of the sun. But the sun wasn't a brilliant white-yellow. It was red. 

Red light thrummed in front of her eyes. She blinked. Something wasn't right. Where was she? She felt something cold touching her skin. She felt cold. She felt like she was standing, but at an angle, as if she was going to be poured out of something. Where was she? She found herself asking again. Ai tried to open her eyes and focus, but it was difficult. A brilliant red light grew in intensity, and quickly dimmed every few seconds. She tried to focus past the light in front of her, and saw that the world ahead of her was distorted, as if by glass. She saw computer monitors, tech equipment, a number of desks with various lab tools scattered around. It almost looked like... Yes. She was in her father's lab. But she was never allowed in her father's lab. Not since she was a little girl and she wandered in from the main lobby, ignoring his instruction to remain in the lobby. She had to get out. If he found her here, she'd be in trouble. That was why she was having weird thoughts about the beach and getting ready, she must have come in, gotten curious about something bubbling away, taken a whiff and passed out. There was no telling what was in here, she thought to herself. She reached out and pressed her palm against the glass. A distant voice belonging to a woman Ai didn't recognise echoed in the coldness of the lab.

"Structural integrity is at 11%. Simulation disengaged. Bay door opening. Play Dr. Nakamura message #06."

"Hello Ai, I expect you have questions, and I will answer all of them shortly..." 

Ai felt pressure on her back as she stepped forwards, but the pressure was relieved as she stepped onto the cold lab floor. She took a few deep breaths and coughed, her lungs felt raw. She looked down at herself and realised she was naked. For a moment, panic spread through her, then she realised, she wasn't naked, she was wearing some kind of flesh coloured body suit. Like the kind some Olympic athletes wear. It was stupid. She wanted rid of it, but until she could find her own clothes, she was stuck with it. 

"...Ai, if I succeeded in imparting to you all my hopes and dreams..."

Looking up, Ai searched for the sound of her father's voice, quickly realising it was coming from the speakers in the corners of the room. Everything was so confusing, she found herself stood in silence, listening to her father's message. At first, it seemed like he'd left her a voice message no different from those he often left on their home phone, telling her he wouldn't be home in time for dinner. It sounded dire, because he was going to disappoint her. Again. But no, this was different.

"... don't know what they are. We call them the 'Blue'. Life from another galaxy, but not what we were expecting, to say the least. They are voracious. They feed on organic life. In essence... us. I think we are their ultimate goal. I don't know how far they travelled to get here, but it must have taken thousands of years. There was probably a lot more of them when they set off, but they cannibalised themselves until they arrived on Earth, and began repopulating as they consumed the human population--"
"What?!" Ai gasped in disbelief. What the hell was he talking about?!
"--haven't done enough. I tried to create the perfect defence against the Blue, but it's failed. I've failed... they're coming..." Ai heard a rumbling in the message, then it cut short and was replaced by the woman's voice over the speakers a second time.
"Play Dr. Nakamura message #07."

"They're coming!" A terrible screech as metal was being wrenched. Ai clutched at her ears, and relaxed as the noise waned. "I've no time, i'm setting the tests to run automatically, dammit why are they always so prompt!" She heard a muffled laugh that warped into a cough, "No time. No time! Come on, hurry up!" She heard the woman's voice again, but this time, it was a part of the message.
"Download at 68%..."
Terrible, wrenching, screeching noises.
"NO, YOU CAN'T HAVE HER!!" Ai recoiled at the sound of her father screaming at the top of his lungs, and then suddenly he was cut short. She heard crunching, and the sound of water dripping, and then heavy footsteps. Finally, silence. Ai was so engrossed with the message, staring at the speaker in one corner, that she hadn't taken any notice of her surroundings.
"Message ends." 
The voice cut the clip off, and there was silence once more. Ai turned and looked back at where she'd stepped out of, it was some kind of escape pod. Long, thick black cables fell in loose bundles, tipped with metal spears that looked like they were made to go in something. Then she felt something. She didn't know how she knew. But she knew she wasn't alone. She found herself focusing on that sensation, and it was then she heard the faintest sound of breathing. Whirling around, Ai saw a figure cloaked in shadow at the far end of the room.

Screaming, Ai leapt back. Then suddenly, she was falling. She'd tripped over something. She collapsed to the ground and saw she'd tripped over a small pile of bones. A skull stared back at her, and she screamed again. Then her eyes focused on something else. She saw a gun. Instinctively she reached for it, grabbed it, pointed the weapon at the man, and pulled the trigger multiple times. Nothing happened. She heard a faint whirr as the gun attempted to fire and failed, then a tinny voice called out from the gun.
"Cells: Empty." Completely defenceless, Ai looked back at the intruder, and waited in shocked silence.

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Heavy black boots thudded against the floor as the man approached. His boots were knee height, crafted from strong leather. He wore dark trousers and a sandy coloured cloak over his body that looked like an odd fusion of a kimono and a poncho, with a wide sleeve over his right arm. His left arm was bare, revealing lean muscle, and the man wore a strange black gauntlet, with long strands of metallic wire, and metal coverings over each of his fingers, slightly pointed to appear like claws. His skin was a light tan, and his hair was a greyish white, tied back in a high ponytail. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of thick, black goggles that seemed to extend out quite far from his face, and they quietly whirred and clicked as he approached. His right arm moved from under the wide sleeve and he held up a long-barrelled rifle with a scope. "Hm..." He said with a calm, contemplative voice, "Can you say 'hello world' for me?"
"I have a gun, stay back!" Ai growled, pushing herself back along the floor. She dared not take her eyes off the stranger. She raised the gun back at the man a second time, threatening to shoot him though she knew the gun was empty. 

"Mine is bigger..." The man replied with a hint of a smirk, although his obscured eyes hid any true expression. He flexed the fingers of his left hand in odd, careful gestures as he watched her. More whirring and humming sounded from his goggles. "Mine is also charged..." He added although he didn't move to point the rifle at her, resting it on his shoulder instead, but his finger rested along the edge of where the trigger was. 
"C-Charged...?" Ai glanced at the gun in her hand and back at the stranger. Pursing her lips, she lowered the gun. Then, out of nowhere, she threw it at the man and ran into the back of the lab. There had to be something in here she could use against him.

As she ran there was a click, followed by a humming noise, and then there was a sudden burst of green light that shot past her and crashed into a nearby shelf, the contents shattering violently and spraying across the room. “That was a warning shot.” The man called to her. “Next one goes through the back of your head unless you play nice…”
Ai froze. Without turning back to face him, she called out, "What do you want?!" She asked as she scanned the room for something to use as a weapon. Anything.

“Oh, lot’s of things.” The man replied. “What I came to get, however,…is not what I expected.” He paused in consideration, his hollow gaze watching her eerily. “Disappointing, I think…I don’t think I want you…or do I?” He shook his head slightly, “No, no, you’re much too old for her, don’t be a creep. Besides…she’s one of them” He spoke as if he was talking to someone else, but there was no one. “Would he go that far? That Nakamura…”

"Touch me I'll kick you so hard you'll swallow your plums!" Ai whirled around, raising her fists as though she was going to fight him. Fist fight a guy with a rifle. Smart. The man’s eyebrows raised distinctly at her threat, and then he cocked his head slightly. He raised his left hand with the peculiar gauntlet, and swiped his fingers through the air a few times, followed by a series of rhythmic tapping motions, like someone playing frets on a guitar. “You…don’t know, do you?” He asked finally.

"Know what? That message? Blue something?!" Ai held her fists up yet she wavered, she found herself trying to glance around the room, looking for something she'd missed while trying to keep her attention on the strange creep. The man seemed mildly taken aback by this, but he did not respond immediately. After a while he lowered his rifle to his side, and pulled the goggles up from his eyes, resting them on his forehead. His eyes were a dark brown, and still peered at her studiously, but his overall expression looked far less disturbing after the reveal.

“You might want to take a look at yourself, I think.” He suggested. He looked around for a moment, and then gestured to his right, where there was a mess of broken glass shards on a table.
"Eh?!" Careful of the man's deceit, Ai shuffled across the room and positioned herself so she could keep the man's body in view while she looked down at her reflection. She saw a face staring back at her. This woman's skin was flawless, free of any acne Ai had always struggled with, she didn't even have the little scar she'd gotten when Takashi accidentally hit her in the lip with a baseball he'd struck just moments before. Her lip had swollen right up, and she'd needed several stitches to sew it closed, but you could still see the scar. But now? Now it was gone.

"I had a..." Ai traced her hand over her lip, then her gaze was drawn to her eyes. They were no longer the deep shade of brown she was accustomed to seeing. They were a bright blue, an immediately obvious and unnatural colour for her ancestry. "What...?" She leaned in, forgetting the presence of the stranger. As her confusion deepened with the studying of her face, she drew her lips back and gasped. Her teeth had never been perfect, but at least they were straight, flat and, well... human. The teeth she had now didn't resemble the teeth of a person at all. They looked like they would belong on a shark, or some horrible sci-fi monster. Each tooth was broad, pointed like a fang, and serrated, yet they locked together when she closed her mouth. Pursing her lips together to hide them, she glanced back up at the stranger.

"What did you do to me?!" Ai barked, looking around the lab. "Where's my dad?!"
“Dad…?” The man cocked his head slightly in confusion. Understanding washed over him in a moment, and he let out a heavy sigh. His gaze fell and he scratched the back of his head before rubbing at the back of his neck. “There is no easy way to say this…how bothersome.” He said finally, and he locked eyes with the scared girl. He stared at her without blinking, a seriousness about him. “The man you think is your father, Doctor Nakamura Satoshi; An unparalleled genius in the fields of biosynthetic chemistry, robotics, and cybernetics…” He paused, and gestured to the aged skeleton on the floor. “…It has been approximately 200 years since the Blue invaded Earth, I cannot imagine he lasted more than a decade after. I…am sorry for your loss.”

"W-What?!" Ai stuttered, her eyes darting to the skeleton. She saw a name badge. It read, 'Dr. S Nakamura'. "T-that can't be... I was... I was just..." Ai looked back at the pod she had fallen out of, "W-why was I..." She trailed off, staring at the skeleton. The man turned his back to her, his expression torn between awkwardness and resigned frustration. He pinched the bridge of his nose, his eyes closed as he thought about his words carefully.
“That pod is a testing chamber for running diagnostics and simulations. When I arrived the machine was set to run continuously until someone manually overrode it. That someone was me, just a few moments before you awoke.” He turned back to face her. “The world you think you know…it was a simulation. Time within simulations isn’t particularly relevant, you could have conceivably lived over a million lifetime cycles, each one different, each one shaping you. However…it appears as if Nakamura went the other way…he lengthened the cycle. It seems he wanted you to have a single, ordinary life…in the world that no longer exists.”

"I-I can't..." Ai felt the need to cry, she knew she would, but being sat there, on the cold, dusty floor of the lab, she couldn't do as much as shed a single tear. So many questions ran rampant in her mind. So many emotions. She was terrified, and confused. In shock, disbelief and she wanted to lash out. Was her father really dead? Could she have been in a simulation? And why? This was her father's lab, would he have really put her in a simulation? What possible reason could he have to do something like that to her? If he was truly dead, would she ever have those answers?

"I can't believe it..." Ai said finally. She shuffled across the floor on her hands and knees and slumped down beside the skeleton. She looked at his name badge again. A wave of disbelief washed over her, and she found herself checking over every inch of the skeleton. Anyone can put a name badge on a load of old bones. That's what she told herself. But then she saw it, hiding in his lab coat pocket. Ai reached out and pulled a long, half-smoked cigar. She didn't know the brand, but she recognized the smell immediately. He had a habit of starting them, then stamping them out, only to put them in his pocket for later. It used to drive her mother up the wall. So, this really was her dad. Did that mean... 200 years had passed? And one other thing stood out to her.

"200 years... since..." Ai's face screwed up once more, she almost laughed, "Since what invaded?"
“The Blue.” The man replied ominously. The name itself didn’t seem the type to strike terror into the hearts of men, but when he said it his tone carried a fearful respect. “Records of when they first struck are slim. It is believed they had surveilled our planet quite extensively on their long journey through dark space. They use organic matter as a sort of bio-fuel to sustain them, but all research suggests they are a technologically based life form, or some sort of bio-synthetic beyond our understanding. They are ruthless, powerful beings who do not hold a scrap of compassion towards humanity…” The man paused as a chirping noise sounded in the small device he had in his ear. He waited, counting the seconds. 5 seconds…10 seconds…15 seconds…18 seconds…

Chirp-chirp.

“…and they are coming here.” He said finally, through gritted teeth.
"Well then we've got to get out of here!" Ai snapped, standing up. Even now, she found it difficult to believe. But as time passed, and she found herself better able to concentrate, it was difficult to argue with this man. The signs of wear and age on the room, the amount of dust on the consoles and floor, the fact that her father's remains were only a skeleton and not a corpse. Her father was dead... she still couldn't process that. But she could hear commotion from outside. "What do we do?!" She asked him, terrified at the idea that creatures from another world were going to tear through the door at any moment and eat them.

“We have time, but only a little.” The man explained, as he pulled down his strange goggles again. He made his way over to the pod where Ai had came from and began examining it, feeling around for something. “It must be around here somewhere…” He said as he fumbled around the back of the machine. “Online servers would have been destroyed by this point, surely. Nakamura would have a local drive…where is it!?” He thumped the machine with his fist in frustration. “All that data…we can’t leave it behind for the Blue. 200 years of simulations…on Nakamura’s secret weapon. But where…where would he store the-“ He cut himself off. He whirled around to face Ai and stared at her, before finally sighing.

“It can’t be helped.” He said with a resigned sigh. He reached for the clips on the shoulder of his cloak and unclipped them. Then he flung the cloak from himself with a flourish, and it whirled through the air like a phantom and wrapped itself around Ai’ body, covering her almost naked form. From underneath the cloak, 5 small, black orbs surfaced and moved through the air, back towards their master, spinning around his head before attaching themselves to the strap fastened across his chest. There was a space for one more orb, but it was nowhere to be seen.

“Nakamura kun, my name is Kyounosuke Masahiro, but everyone calls me Kyouma!” He declared with a sudden pep and authority to his tone. “I am the mad scientist who walks the lonely path of genius! You are the unwitting secret weapon of the Doctor Nakamura, the last hope of standing up against The Blue! Begrudgingly…I accept responsibility. I will be your foster parent!”

"You're a mental case..." Ai muttered. A terrible crash came from somewhere outside. It shook the entire room, as though something enormous was tearing through the walls themselves. "What's happening?!" Ai yelled over the terrible screeching as metal beams and blocks of stone were thrown aside as though they weighed nothing.

“Stay close to me!” Kyouma ordered as he gripped his rifle and made for the door of the laboratory. He swung the door open and ascended up the stairs which opened out on to a mess of rubble and metal scrap. He gestured for Ai to follow as he navigated through the tight crawl space he had clearly found his way in from. All the while distant sounds of crunching steel screeched through the air. The ground shook as rubble fell, old ventilation pipes hissed as they expelled gas. It appeared as if they were in a vast, dark warehouse full of wreckage.

However, as they moved out into the clearer sections there was a slight breeze. Shifts in the darkness revealed tiny rays of moonlight in the polluted smog that blanketed the sky. Kyouma ducked down behind a large shattered wall and pressed his back against it. He put his finger to his mouth, ordering silence, and he waited.

Something writhed in the darkness. Heavy crunching sounded so close by, and so suddenly that Kyouma’s breath caught in surprise. An eerie, alien noise echoed through the night. The repetitive clicking noise sounded like it came from something synthetic, but it’s musical tones gave it an almost organic quality, almost like birdsong. Carefully, Kyouma’s fingers moved with their characteristic gestures. One of the black orbs on his belt detached silently and flew off into the night. The motion caught the attention of the creature nearby, and it rounded on them. Something scraped along the wall above their heads, and the stone began to crumble.

A bassy thumping beat reverberated in the distance. Whatever it was caught the attention of the creature, and it stalked off in the direction of the noise, crashing through rubble and debris without a care. Judging by the noise, the creature was large and powerful. Kyouma let his breath finally sigh out. He stepped out from behind the wall and looked around carefully. “We should move while the coast is clear.” He whispered, and he turned and gave Ai a reassuring nod. Meanwhile a dark, metallic, tendril coiled around his leg and suddenly dragged him off into the air, disappearing into the dark fog, and the sound of tearing and rending followed.

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