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File 149489561942.png - (219.83KB , 600x600 , The Sunfish.png )
801983 No. 801983 ID: 9a036d

Previous chapters
1: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questarch/res/762401.html
2: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/779392.html

Disthread: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/questdis/res/106228.html
433 posts omitted. Last 50 shown. Expand all images
No. 819775 ID: 8cb228

"Or Old Sam is trying to give me medical know-how via highlighting injuries with visual hallucinations that look like augmented reality overlays. Or something."
No. 819790 ID: 2d1231


Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Also the white-out eyes, since Annie's are usually black.
No. 819798 ID: a6af03
File 150155661297.png - (180.65KB , 376x600 , 3-82.png )

You clutch at your neck, "I- I- uh, I um... Annie, you-"

The world lurches and spins like a butterfly in a hurricane, and as you feel yourself losing control someone takes over. You stand upright and you hear yourself speaking, "Sam's going to be fine, she just needs a minute..."
No. 819799 ID: a6af03
File 150155665021.png - (162.65KB , 600x500 , 3-83.png )

From a distance you watch as your hand touches Dr. Spencer's shoulder, and she looks back at you, eyes glittering with emotion. You watch as the creature is lured off of its perch, onto the stump of a stranger. From there, the doctors strip away the spacesuit, revealing a distended, swollen leg. Old Sam gets to work; using the meager supplies available to reduce the swelling and treat his many bite wounds. You float somewhere in your own head, observing the procedure with detached horror, but thankful for the help.
No. 819800 ID: a6af03
File 150155666784.png - (99.17KB , 500x600 , 3-84.png )

Hours later: you're sitting in the waiting room, exhausted and sprawled out like a broken marionette. You cautiously try moving your hand and you see it twitch.
No. 819801 ID: 7b7ab3

"Sorry about that. I got spooked and Old Sam had to drive for a while. How're things?"
No. 819802 ID: be0718

Avoid stepping on tail as you awaken, fail.
No. 819803 ID: 3ce125

Apologize for freaking out. Tell her you're probably going to let Old Sam drive again whenever there's a medical emergency like that.

Would this be a good time to ask her what the deal is with the cloned soldiers?
No. 819805 ID: 91ee5f

This, but halfway through, accidentally do this: >>819802 , and scream, "MEEEEOOWWCH!!!"

Then, finish by saying this: >>819803 .
No. 819809 ID: 3abd97

Mumble "thank you" to yourself. She's still there, in the back of your head, she'll hear. And she was there for Bucky when you needed her.

When you can: "I'm me again. How'd she do?"
No. 819810 ID: 600f38

"Mom wanted to help. I'm back now, but need cuddles."
No. 819813 ID: ed048e

You just suffered involuntary control from your clone mom. I know you're at peace now, but don't get too comfortable with it. A persons brain is only built to handle one mind. If you have any anxieties about this, share them with Annie.

Then grab yourself some grub, an' check on your bunny/boyfriend
No. 819830 ID: d36af7

>A persons brain is only built to handle one mind
Historical precedent suggests otherwise. The Odyssey leads off with "Sing in me, muse, and through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending," and that sounds an awful lot like Homer asking some storytelling-specialized alternate personality to take over, doesn't it? The idea of 'spirit possession' in general, really, which has parallels across cultures that had little else in common.

Anyway, give Annie an assessment of how you're feeling, as honest as possible. Relationships live or die on clear communication.
No. 820014 ID: a6af03
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"How is he?" You croak. 

Annie flops down next to you, "They managed to save his leg, no sign of contamination yet. They think the vacuum kept any fluids from crossing over." She sighs, "He's sleeping now."
No. 820015 ID: a6af03
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"What about you?" She leans towards you and you feel her hand envelope yours. "What happened there?"

"I'm sorry… its just- For a minute I was back in that room..." your voice is saw-edged and drags at your throat. You swallow, having to fight it down, "wh-where I... where you were dead. Annie, I saw you dead..." Having finally said it, you want to cry; but you've got nothing left, you feel completely wrung out.

Annie is quiet. When she speaks you hear distant, angry thunderstorms, "That wasn't me."
No. 820016 ID: be0718

A thunderstorm? Is their biosphere simulation that complex? You've got to go see this!
No. 820017 ID: 3abd97

>"That wasn't me."
...no. Not anymore. They'd already copied over you.

It's still wrong. They've killed you so many times.
No. 820018 ID: be0718

The point she's making is that she isn't those other clones. Not their original psyches, nor their templates.
No. 820019 ID: 0c8311

"Annie, I know! I know that! I wasn't implying anything. I'm sorry. It just shocked me to learn... THAT about the repo men. It's a lot to take in, you know?"
No. 820022 ID: 3abd97

Fair point.

Hoarse: "...I know. Doesn't make it hurt less, seeing... what could have happened to you."
No. 820024 ID: fc33ea

But what if it was? I don't want to think about it.
No. 820025 ID: 094652

"She wasn't you. But death happened to her. And it will keep happening to other clones who are bred and grown and wiped and reprogrammed and equipped and sent to die, over and over and over...

It's a @#$%ing meat farm. And WE'RE the meat, every last clone."
No. 820026 ID: 8cb228

I know it wasn't you, that doesn't change what I saw, or what it did to me.
No. 820030 ID: fe7355

"I know that. I know you're not them in any way besides shape. I know that completely. ...What shook me so is it made me come face-to-face with how you could have died trying to save me. And with the very real possibility of you dying. The terrifying possibility it could be, or could have been, you laid out on a morgue slab from a Repoman's bullet or who knows what else. ...It scares me to my core." Slump onto Annie's shoulder.

...And a horrific thought rises from the depths of your mind: One of the Repomen could attempt to impersonate Annie to members of the Sunfish to gain access. Not ones who know or met Annie personally, but those who only know of her and what she looks like. We need to tell Commander Feist this so she can warn the rest of the crew and passengers.
No. 820032 ID: 91ee5f

>...And a horrific thought rises from the depths of your mind: One of the Repomen could attempt to impersonate Annie to members of the Sunfish to gain access. Not ones who know or met Annie personally, but those who only know of her and what she looks like. We need to tell Commander Feist this so she can warn the rest of the crew and passengers.
..........ffffffffuuucckkk, you're right! Let's go tell the Commander!
No. 820035 ID: 3ce125

She already knows what they look like, now.
No. 820038 ID: 91ee5f

She does and a select few important people. But does the rest of the Sunfish know? I doubt it.
No. 820046 ID: 3ce125

Do you really think the Commander would neglect to tell the security team (and anyone else in charge of anything important) such an important detail?
No. 820050 ID: 91ee5f

Those are the select few people I was talking about. I'm talking about the rest of the Sunfish. The unimportant guys, the guys that're still in cryo, the normal people that aren't immortal. Those are the guys that aren't important enough to be told about this. Those are the guys I'm talking about.
No. 820073 ID: 3ce125


Why should we tell them? How would we tell them? What point would bothering the Commander serve?
No. 820093 ID: 2d1231


This is probably the right moment to ask how many more of US there are. How many more Sams. How many more Buckys.

How many other flakes are going to have to look at the ones that didn't and see themselves or a loved one dead?
No. 820106 ID: bb78f2

You know, we could actually do the opposite if the other repo person doesn't know her comrade is dead. Depending on how many Annies are part of a standard repo crew AND how they are able to differentiate an escaped Annie from a repo Annie, we could totally stormtrooper her onto their side undercover for a bit, if the opportunity arises.

Have you ever done that before? Does it actually work?
No. 820124 ID: ed048e

That sounds like a good way to make Annie trigger her "old self" by putting her under a lot of stress. We're at peace with OldSam, but Annie seems to hate having anything to do with the identity the Investors wanted to force on her.

Imitation is a pretty good idea for a distraction in combat, though.
No. 820138 ID: a6af03
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"I know," you manage, "but what if it was you. What if they had shot you? What if I lost you forever?" You gently tip over until your head lands on her shoulder.

"When I saw them hurting you, I thought I was going to lose you… It scared me too."
Her head tilts over and lands on yours. The two of you sit like this and rest, listening to the soft buzz of air conditioning and distant bustle of busy people. You find your fingers picking idly at the ratty surface of the ancient couch. 

"How come you never told us?" Your voice is a tiny whisper, as if coming from far away.

Annie takes a long time before she responds. "I was scared... Worried about what you'd think. Worried about what it would mean. I'm sorry I never said anything, I guess it was just easier to stay angry at them; at myself. I don't want to ever be like them, Sam…"
No. 820139 ID: a6af03
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"What was it like? Growing up, I mean…You were raised separate from us, we never knew about what happened."

"They started us young: before we can even walk we were being programmed for battle. They kept us together, encouraged us to fight. Anyone slow, or weak or just different was singled out and hammered into shape by the rest of us. By the time we were integrated with the rest of the kids, we were already Repo-men: reporting on anything suspicious and quietly solving 'problems'." 

You mull this over, "Are all of the Repo-men like you? With your body, I mean." 

"No, there are three 'templates'... but they tend to group us by type."
No. 820140 ID: a6af03
File 150172481595.png - (103.92KB , 530x600 , 3-89.png )

"What about Old Annie? What was she like?"  You've never heard her talk so much about herself and years of questions are spilling out.

"There isn't much of her left. Every generation they combine our combat experience together into one install. Thousands of battles, skirmishes, and scenarios turning children into weapons. There must have been an Annie once but, for the most part, she's… lost in the noise."

"I wonder what it was like…" You wonder out loud, "Signing up to live forever and just…fading away. Do you think she realized what was happening?"

You feel her sigh, "Maybe. Maybe she didn't care. Maybe she had already sold her soul and we're just empty puppets."
No. 820141 ID: 3ce125

Maybe she's the closest thing to Old Annie there is. Or a reincarnation. The one soldier that still has a soul.
No. 820143 ID: 877b2e

I think a soul is something you can grow for yourself.
No. 820144 ID: 8a0c44

>Maybe she's the closest thing to Old Annie there is.
I really like this.
No. 820148 ID: be0718

If by 'closest thing to Old Annie' you mean 'her own person', then yes.
No. 820167 ID: 25f1b2

This is nice.
No. 820170 ID: 600f38

Yeah, this.
No. 820181 ID: c6aa39

"Well, I'm just glad Bucky and I have you as our Annie."

And then a hug.
No. 820182 ID: 3abd97

Really good line.
No. 820183 ID: ed048e

Ring a ding ding baby. Speak that out loud so we can both feel comfort that we're different than what we were made to be.
No. 820327 ID: a6af03
File 150180778209.png - (108.41KB , 590x600 , 3-90.png )

"Maybe, but a soul is something you have to make for yourself..." your voice has a slow, dreamlike tone to it. You realize how heavy everything feels, sinking further into the couch. "A soul isn't just you... it's everyone around you. All your relationships and everything you touch is part of it." 

"Maybe that's why she did it: she didn't have anyone but herself." Annie puts an arm around you and holds you close. "She was scared of dying and having no one left to remember her..."

"Mmm..." your throat rumbles with a sleepy purr, "I'm glad you're our Annie."

"Yeah." You can feel her muscles relax and she closes her eyes. "Me too."

The two of you sigh and she admits, "We need to tell Bucky, don't we..."

"Yep." With that you drift off to sleep. 
No. 820328 ID: a6af03
File 150180778819.png - (73.49KB , 600x443 , 3-91.png )

Deep inside the ship, a young man wanders through unused access corridors. He's muttering to himself words of injustice, having recently been released from security. Their questioning took hours, and looming overhead was the constant threat of being put on ice. The security forces left, saying something about another ship, and when they returned most of them were sporting fresh injuries. They let him go with the instructions that he tell no one what he saw. Now, worried and angry, he looks for his brother. 

He found something else...

"Ello, what're you doing here?"

End of chapter 3
No. 820329 ID: 600f38

He's fucked.
Probably both figuratively and literally, unless those repo-men are on libido suppressants.
No. 820545 ID: ed048e

Mousy boy is kill. F
No. 820999 ID: a6af03

Next Chapter: https://tgchan.org/kusaba/quest/res/820992.html
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