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The Whole Family

Chapter 4

"Tim has a daughter?" questions a bewildered, winged, android to the strange woman.
"Yes, Koryo is quite simply Infidel's polar opposite, they fight at any chance they get. Hence the difference in the polarities of their homes." Infidel continues to groan.
"Could you describe her personality? Tokimi?"
"Yes, she is-"
"Just like her mother, stuck-up, brutish, fickle..." interrupts Infidel.
"I understand, Infidel. Where does Suwah live?"
"Exactly 26,540 fathoms underwater just outside of Paradigm Harbour," replies Tokimi.
"Yeah, but there's no way YOU'll ever get there," continues Infidel.
"Yes, it is true that the pressure is far too great for any ordinary machine," comments Tokimi. "But there are a few ways to get there safely."
"Dare I ask what it is Tokimi?" returns the disappointed android.
"Relax, it doesn't involve any special alterations like the ones for your wings, I can just encase you in an air bubble and you can swim down, or you could borrow one of the Valkyries."
"Valkyries?"
"They were named after the Norse Mythological women who decided which warriors went to Valhalla, or Heaven," answers Infidel, seeming much calmer now than before. "They were also the perfect warrior maidens, and were practically indestructible by mortal means."
"So I take it that they would be able to withstand the pressure?"
"Yes, they're quite sound and extremely well built. They can function on land, in the air, and underwater very effectively," finishes Tokimi
"I believe that would be a preferable idea," replies Dorothy to the two women.

-----------------------------

The steel door opens out to the hangar of the impressive fortress, and after having to spend thirty minutes walking to it, Dorothy is pleased to finally see the impressive Valkyrie Squadron, their large mechanical wings tucked away so they fit inside the relatively small room. "These are the Valkyries?"
"Correct, Dorothy, they are the most advanced flying machines ever created." Dorothy walks up to the first Valkyrie in the hangar, places her hand along is spectacular beak, and startles slightly when it responds by cocking its head into her hand and blinking.
"I assume they have artificial intelligence then?" questions the still surprised mechanical woman.
"The finest. Aunt Suwah built them, so it's no wonder that she would give them actual minds as well." The mechanical eagle screeches quietly in response, kneels down, and a small compartment slides open on its back, which Dorothy assumes must be the cockpit. "Aren't you going the wrong way Dora?" Dorothy ceases climbing the bird, and takes a moment to look into the opening. A large mass of wires surrounds a metallic box with a circular opening at its peak.
"I think you'll find that you're climbing into the Dominance Centre of the Valkyrie, should you examine it a tad more closely," concludes Tokimi.
"Dominance Centre?" Dorothy begins climbing down from the Valkyrie's back, landing just as Tokimi replies.
"Suwah takes very much after her daughter, and vice versa. One of her greatest dreams is to create a functioning fighter robot that can recreate itself. The Dominance Centre of the Valkyrie is one such advance towards that goal."
Dorothy's false cheeks begin to show a faint tinge of red, as her hardware recognizes that she is embarrassed to have almost gotten intimate with a bird.
"Now that that's sorted, HBFD-004 could you please open your cockpit please?" The mechanical bird whirrs for a moment, then closes its Dominance Centre as it's frontal chest plate splits open horizontally, revealing the plush red leather seat that its unnecessary pilot would sit in. "Just climb in there and tell him to take you to Suwah's underwater laboratory. He should do the rest." Dorothy nods in agreement, then proceeds to climb into the cockpit and take hold of the secondary joystick controls on either side of her arms. The plates return to their original position, as the hangar bay doors open underneath the mechanical eagle. It plummets for a couple thousand feet, before stretching its wings, and flying gracefully towards the harbour.

-----------------------------

After a few moments of gliding, the bird manages to successfully locate Suwah's lab underwater, and internally alerts Dorothy to his finding.
"All right, you may submerge 004." The bird screeches once more, then folds its wings and dives straight into the water, reaching five hundred fathoms quickly before unfolding them again to allow a swimming motion. A small screen in front of Dorothy shows her the surrounding waters, as well as the many strange creatures that begin to inhabit them the deeper they go, whilst a second one to her right displays the current depth, dropping quickly as they reach twenty-six thousand fathoms. "Activate the search lights 004." The bird remains silent as its eyes burst with intense light, penetrating the abyssal darkness of the waters with ease. It floats gently through the water, tilting its head in an attempt to locate the lab. Meanwhile, Dorothy watches a rather comedial 'in-flight movie' being displayed while 004 searches, though it has no obvious effect on Dorothy, as the plain monotonous android not so much as raising a corner of her mouth a millimetre. "Why would a talking donkey desire to travel with an ogre?" she asks 004, but she receives no audible reply. However, the subtitles of the movie change to reveal that he thinks it is an old movie from before the Event, when comedy wasn't very popular, he adds. Suddenly, the movie vanishes from the screen, replaced by the dimly lit image of a circular red building, dwarfing the mechanical bird fantastically with its size. "I think we have found it." The bird glides down to the building, and examines what appears to be an access hatch, before it opens to reveal blinding light. He swims into it to find a dock, which promptly empties itself of the water after closing the door. Dorothy leaves the safety of the mechanical bird, much to his chagrin, and goes in search of Suwah and Koryo.

She wanders through the echoing corridors; all painted the same shade of red, or featuring a crab montage. "Is anyone here?" The corridor remains silent for a moment as Dorothy ceases walking.
"Well now, who do we have here?" A voice is emitted by a nearby ceiling-mounted speaker.
"I am R. Dorothy Wayneright, are you Lady Suwah?"
"I am," the voice replies.
"Then I am to ask you to attend the Christmas Celebrations of the Smith Household in Paradigm City." The voice does not reply, although a mechanical whirr alerts Dorothy to her right as a small door opens. Much to her own chagrin, the door sprouts thousands of mechanical crab claws, which promptly capture her and drag her inside, the door closing soon afterward.

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Dorothy awakes on a cold medical table, bound at the legs and arms, with a chain-held choker strapped to her neck. A bright spotlight almost blinds her from above, as she struggles vainly against her bonds, but her movement is far too restricted to create any large amount of force, with which to break free. "Don't bother trying to struggle dear, I assure you it is quite impossible to break free of my table." The same voice resounds from a darkened corner, as a small child with long spiked red hair walks out wearing a white lab coat. "I am Lady Suwah, and you are my new test subject."
"I did not come to be experimented on, Lady Suwah, only to invite you to-"
"I think I've heard enough chit-chat from you lady." She turns her head to a poorly lit glass window above the door. "Koryo, could you activate the Milieu Naturel Field and focus it on our guest please?" she queries with a slightly French tone on the mechanisms name.
"Sure thing, Mom, what setting?" replies a teenager's voice from behind the glass.
"Oh, just put it on Third Level for me, hon." The spotlight changes colour slightly, as a smaller object appears below it. A sharp blast is projected onto Dorothy, and she shuts her eyes to avoid any damage to them. When she opens them, she is horrified to discover that any form of attire she had has been removed by the blast. "Yep, right down to the third level of clothing, excellent!" Suwah begins closely examining Dorothy's body, beginning by examining the circuitry in her chest, removing an almost invisible plate that is usually her abdomen. "Oh my, someone was a very thorough builder now weren't they?" she comments as she locates a small triangular compartment, that appears to be made of rubber. It is somewhat disconnected from her other components, practically lying inside of her with no power support leading to it whatsoever. Dorothy winces as Suwah re-attaches the wires of the compartment to her spinal cord, allowing power to flow through it once again as its two oval outcrops begin to pulse and glow. "Now where does this part go?" Suwah pinches the bottom of the triangle, and pushes the majority of her own head into Dorothy's abdomen to see closer, where she spots a small opening that has been sealed with a form of latex. "That must be it." She pulls it over the hole, and uses a strange thin item to pry apart the opening and join the triangle to it.
"I believe you have attached it on the wrong side, Lady Suwah," returns Dorothy as Suwah notices just where she has attached the triangle. "However, this will not be defined as your acceptance of our invitation.", Suwah replaces the panel.
"Huh? What invitation?"
"You are cordially invited to the Christmas Celebrations of the Roger Smith Household and family on December the 24th. Will you be attending?"
"The Negotiator is throwing a Christmas Party?" Koryo's voice echoes from the glass, as the lighting inside is turned on to reveal the spike light-blue haired teenage girl, with a look of surprise upon her visage.
"Yes, you are both invited to join us," replies Dorothy, still strapped to the table with as much fabric upon her form as the floor beneath her.
"But why would the Negotiator want us to come? And just how does he know about us anyway?"
"It is not his personal wish that you come, I have been instructed to gather the families of his tenants as part of a wager."
"A wager?" Koryo's mouth pricks up into a small smile at the mere suggestion.
"Your father and I have placed a wager to decide whether I can gather the said families before Christmas."
"Huh? You mean to say that TIM is the one you're gambling with?"
"Exactly Lady Suwah."
"DAD!? What's he doing around Paradigm City? I thought you said he went back to the Genesis Suwah!"
"Well I thought it would be a better story than 'sorry dear but your father's run away and I haven't seen him since he found out I was pregnant with you.' Do you have any idea how much it would cost to build a psychiatrist for that kind of mental dilemma?" Koryo becomes enraged, and begins banging loudly on the glass in an attempt to get at Suwah. "We'll be attending, Dorothy."

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Dorothy is lead back into the dock, finally reunited with her clothes, as she walks back over to the panicking 004. "Oh, the Horus 004 model? So you last saw Tokimi then didn't you, Dorothy?"
"Correct, she gave me HBFD-004 to travel here as the pressure at this depth is far too great for my physical design."
"She still calls it the HBFD? I stopped using that name years ago!"
"What is its name then, Suwah?"
"Well, its full title is 'Horus Black Flame Dragon LV4' after one of my favourite cards, but its just 'Horus' for short." She smiles with glee at mentioning one of her favourite inventions, as seven of her robotic assistants attempt to hold Koryo back from her. "If you want I could give you the upgraded model to fly back in?"
"Upgraded Model?"
"Yeah, like I said the LV4 is a pretty old model, I've got up to LV8 now"
"All right then, would it be possible for you to retrofit this unit for the upgrade?"
"Gotten quite attached to it I see, sure I can upgrade that one." Suwah lets loose a sly smirk at Dorothy, remembering the sight of her lower organs with a sense of schoolgirl joy that she hasn't experienced since Tim left.
"Make it so please, Suwah."

NO SIDE - 04:09:57

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