User:Hawl/For Victory, For Venars, Together We RIDE!

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For Victory, For Venars, Together We RIDE by Jessica Kylie Nichols-Vernon aka HawlSera Tygarus Enroygall

The Start Of A Brand Neo Day

Aristo was looking proudly at his RIDE Iris. A Tigress that at this current juncture in time was the top of the line, you couldn’t get a RIDE as nice as her anywhere on the planet. Every detail was perfectly designed to make the most powerful partner imaginable. Little did he realize however that Iris would be outdone shortly after the turn of the decade. Still for now, he was pleased with himself. “It’s almost time, I’ve been preparing for this ever since I learned what wonders could truly be unleashed on this planet.” The wanted CEO cackled raising his metal fist in the air. “Brubeck and Steader alike will be so jealous that they will never know power like this. Of course Brubeck, Munn, and Steader alike will be cleaning my toilets soon enough because those families don’t have Integrated Perfection on their side! Iris activate!”

“Sir please, please let me go. I don’t want this.” Iris shivered in panic as she immediately booted up, her white eyes slowing turning into green feline ones. The RIDE backed away, a frown frozen upon her hardlight furred muzzle as she looked at him fearful with eyes that seemed like they were about to cry. Of course being a mere automaton, Iris could not cry.

Aristo slapped the RIDE across the face for daring to show him a form of resistance. “We are going to be two halves of the new ruler of Neo-Zharus. You should be honored that you have any part in the construction of my perfect body. Surely my mind will be a nice place for you to live my darling.”

“Perfect would mean never having to see your ugly mug creep.” Iris roared at the cyborg, but her fetters wouldn’t let her use weaponry unless she was fused.

“Tough! Tomorrow at exactly 13 precisely my cooldown will be over and the Integration Code will be ran.” Aristo laughed to himself as he stepped out onto the balcony looking over his kingdom of Supernova, taking a nose full of warm desert air as he rubbed his hands together. Today was the last day that he was going to be human and he couldn’t wait to have that weakness ironed out of him. ::That my dear is how long we have left to be separate individuals.::

Iris whimpered in fear, seeing no escape from her situation. “I hope your code fails and kills us both! Dying would be better than living in YOUR mind.”

Ariston grinned. ::Feisty, I like that. Try to keep thoughts like that running through your head my dear. If we are to be the same entity you cannot be holding me back.:: He was looking up at the Zharusian sky as he laughed. “No one ever will again” he said to himself. Once Zharus was all his, Mars, Titan, Proximia, Jupiter, Wednesday, Eris, and of course… Earth, that dying ball of fools who dared laugh at him would follow suit.

In Venars

At the same time Shyver and his RIDE Prometheus had shown up to make a personal call at Le Wrench of Paris to see a woman who meant vaBon Bonneus world to him. “Ma Nananette! Your lover is here to see you.” Shyver called out from behind the door, holding a bouqet behind his back.

“Shyver mon jules, and Prometheus, do come on in.” Simone and the lovely Lucille with her by her side. “It is wonderful to see you, you’ve been dropping by so often. Mmhmhm, can’t get enough of me can you.” She said lovingly as she held Shyver in her arms locking tongues with his.

Lucille grinned looking up at Promethus’ form. In their last few dates she and Promethus had began getting a long favorably as well. “Looking sharp Prommy!” she purred.

Shyver had a nervous smile on his face, he knew something was up, but he couldn’t mention anything. It had happened not that long ago when Simone knew what Aristo had planned for her, but she couldn’t remember that anymore. Aristo had very powerful allies and knew the right channels to go through to get something from the enclaves. This was Shyver’s second chance at loving Simone even if it would only be for one more day. The panda fuser grabbed Simone by his elbow. “Well darling after you enjoy these flowers.” Shyver revealed the rainbow roses behind him, genetically engineered by Aristo himself in an experiment. No others on Zharus were like it.

Simone giggled, charmed by the rare gift as she sniffed at them, each whiff a different fragrance. “These are hardlight flowers?”

“No, flavorful roses, a different scent each time you smell it. Ari.. I mean I made them.” Shyver smiled as he walked over to a fabber he had bought for Simone on a previous date and made a vase to put them in. “One of a kind flowers for my one of a kind woman. They’re edible too.”

“They’re too sweet to eat, but some cotton candy and funnel cakes at a nice theme park would be nice.” Simone hinted not so subtly before turning to her newest coworker. “Gabrielle, Cassandra-II, Paula and Ruby are out on a delivery. You can watch the place while Lucille and I are gone right?”

“In my sleep.” Gabrielle in her rat fuser replied as she tinkered with a marmoset RIDE.

“As she wishes.” Shyver grinned, taking Simone’s hand and kissing it. “So he grants.” Shyver and Prometheus defused so he could lead Simone into his panda’s skimmer form.

“Hey wait for me guys!” Lucille cried out and proceeded to fuse with Simone to fit in the monochrome skimmer.

Shyver looked away as Lucille and Simone fused, almost as if it were obscene. “Yeah.. great… yeah..” Though neither of the women noticed it, and shortly enough they were off.

“Well, glad they’re having fun.” Gabrielle yawned, she had been pulling off all-nighters for days trying to get the core of Zedimuse to remember where his body was. Truthfully it was Cassandra-II that was keeping her awake with occasional adrenaline shots and straight up taking over when Gabrielle had no choice but to give into Mr. Sandman’s temptation.

After a few boring hours without any customers, business was always slow when Simone stepped out yet booming when she was present. Probably due to Gabrielle had received a most peculiar message from Paula during a Lucid Dream. ::Hey I just got back to Venars, Pony Express says that you’ve had a package from some garage in Sturmhaven for some time now.::

That’s impossible, I don’t associate with that trash heap. Are you sure it’s mine?:: Gabrielle asked as she fought off hordes of giant robot scorpions in her dream. ::Because there’s a Gabriel Locke in Zharustead, and a Gabrielle in Nextus… seriously, Gabriel Locke is a more common name than R. Seaford!.::

Paula replied thusly ::No it’s definitely for you…. It says Wrench Of Paris right on the box. Some mystery eh?::

Gabrielle sent. ::Well get it here then…:: only to be shaken awake by Paula seconds later having been literally talking in her sleep. Technology can be so wonderful.

“Yeah I was flying here the whole conversation.” Paula informed as Ruby turned to her walker form to drop off a very large crate.

“Oh lawdy, whatever is in there is heavy!” Ruby commented, actually panting as she crawled away from the crate and she didn’t even know machines had to pant.

Gabrielle yawned waking and pushing the crate open. “I bet it’s some kind of jo….” Once the contents of the create could be seen her jaw dropped and Cassandra-II defused. “How the fuck? Zedimuse’s body!”

“Okay that is a joke, you’ve been looking for that since we came back from ACE there’s no way…” Paula made a little eep noise as she said the hyena in the crate. “It.. just got.. mailed to you? Mmm, there’s a tablet inside..”

“Well play it!” Gabrielle demanded. “Don’t just stand there gawking and commenting on every small insufficient detail, if you see something important just grab it don’t be all.. ‘Oh hey Gabe, there’s a speck of dust.’ You’re an idiot, but you shouldn’t be that dumb.”

“Well someone is grumpy today.” Paula rolled her eyes as she handed Gabrielle the tablet.

“Sorry, it’s just… I know that’s going to be fake. It’s probably a bomb from Aristo, it’s going to be his face on this tablet saying he’s left the planet and thus the Marshalls’ jurisdiction or maybe it’s some kind of super-quantum-give-you-the-black-plague device or something. I just know that I am not going to like this. Life does not work that way, no for me it doesn’t.” Gabrielle pouted, putting the tablet to the side of her. “So you know what, don’t play it.”

“Is No-Periods Period malfunctioning again?” Paula asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No, no, you know I ran away from a dead world to a planet that everyone said was perfect only to be betrayed by everyone I loved and kidnapped to work for one of the people I was running from in the first place and given the constantly hating yourself disease by a fucking fursuit with the heavily damaged brain of the one life form, mechanical or not in this god-forsaken universe that has managed to show me any form of loyalty. So no, I’m not touching the tablet as it’s guranteed to make my life worse somehow.” Gabrielle ranted folding her arms. “There is no way that is actually Zedimuse’s body…”

“Oh come on Gabe, you’re the one who taught me how to dream, and now, outside of the factory with Aristo on the road, that’s when you want say phooey to all that stuff you taught me?” Paula fussed, giving Gabrielle her most disappointed face.

“Yes, but have you ever heard the saying if something is too good to be true it probably is?” Gabrielle sternly warned.

“I used to believe that things could be too good to be true until I took an X to my other X.” Paula said, looking over her body with a smile, she could barely recall what Paul looked like anymore these days and she loved it. It was all she had ever wanted in life and now it was hers to enjoy whenever she looked in the mirror. To forget that she was ever a man and yet remembering how bad it felt, just to make it all the more enjoyable to be a true member of the fairer sex. Right down to the genetic level.

“...Amusing.” Gabrielle said, noting the reference. Though she was sure if she asked Paula would say that line was from The Legend Of Zelda. “....Mmph, well I can’t have it go on the record that Paula fucking Reverbek had larger testiscles than myself. Metaphorically speaking of course.”

Though Paula didn’t fully realize it, she loved Ruby’s profanity filter and how much it made talking to Gabrielle far more possible for her. Still, she stood behind the rat tagged woman and watched over her shoulder as she pushed a button on the tablet. It was a simple tablet, fabbed in seconds and could be de-fabbed for a quarter of the fab fluid used to make it. Once the button was pushed a goat fuser came on screen. “Sorry it took so long, a lot of the parts were hard to find as they’d mostly been discontinued, eventually though I just decided to replace them entirely with compatible components. Don’t worry straight upgrade, though, try to keep it on the down low that I had a hand in…” The mechanic visibly shuddered with disgust and proceeded to look over her shoulder to see if anyone was around. “turning a woman into a man! Well hope he works like a charm. Still stop by anytime, I don’t usually let men in the garage, but you’re an alright gal Gabe. Paula, if you’re hearing this, glad you made the cross. You look cute. Gimme a call when Simon does the same. Might sort out his problems with money.”

“...What? I don’t recognize this person.” Gabrielle commented in confusion. “Paula, is there something I should know about?”

“Oh, her! That bitch! She used to bully me, all of our male customers, and talk back to Simon all the time! I don’t recall her name, but she moved back to Sturmhaven just a few days before Shyver kidnapped me. I wonder why she’s being so friendly…. and why she thinks we were in her garage. If we were there she’d know Simon’s more woman than most women I’ve seen.” Paula said scratching her and Ruby’s head. Regretting it immediately after hearing the screeching of metal on metal.

“Well she’s from Sturmhaven and by chance have you looked in a mirror lately?” Gabe asked as she got Zedimuse’s body lately. “What gets me is that If we went to Sturmhaven, why don’t we remember it? And if she knows you’re Paula, how would she not know that our curvaceous employer is, just as you said, more woman than most women? It just raises too many questions”

“Eh well, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Ruby was an old junker when I found her and now we’re thick as thieves.” Paula suggested.

“And then you were kidnapped by Shyver in another one of Aristo’s convoluted traps.” Gabrielle reminded as she left to be alone with herself and Zedimuse. “You tend to any customers, I need to get to the bottom of this.”

In Uplift

Qubitite park. A simple enough amusement park in scenic Uplift. The city had been almost as big of a tourist trap as Aloha, if a tourist thought Aloha took the idea of personal freedom a little too far with its lax morality and precious little regard for public decency with its legalized nudity they were in Uplift likely checking out this very park, the made from real milk ice cream, or perhaps even seeing the innovative new technologies normally themed from 20th century film or gaming that the polity’s mechanics were always cooking up.

This was the sight of Shyver and Simone’s date together, technically a double date with Prometheus and Lucille who seemed to be getting on just as well as their humans. Not all the rides allowed RIDEs, so they were merely hitting up the games. “Simone…” Shyver asked as they rode on the ferris wheel. “I.. I…”

Simone looked towards her lover, her skunk tail wrapped around him like a blanket, with a smile. “Shyver. Regardless of what our RIDEs have done for our bodies and our raging hormones. We’re in our forties, not our teen years. Spit it out.”

“...I didn’t expect I’d fall in love with you.” Shyver said plainly. “Since I have, the idea that something bad might happen to you just eats at me. It prevents me from sleeping at night, and when I can I have horrible nightmares about you being used.”

“Used Shyver?” Simone was startled by this choice of words. It seemed used was too specific of a set of words to use. “Who would want to use me?”

“A lot of people, you’re a very beautiful woman Simone and it’s obvious your curves are the work of a Pleasure Support Armor. Some people may take that as an invitation to do whatever they want to you…. they may see you as, less than human because of it.” Shyver said beating around the bush of what he really wanted to say which was of course Aristo’s scheme to take over Zharus, but he just couldn’t bring himself to betray his closest and dearest friend.

“What do you want me to do? Make sure I’m at home by six and avoid skimpy outfits?!?!” Simone asked shocked, and rightfully so. Most of Zharus with notable exception that rhymed with Grape Horde took it as an absolute fact that rape was wrong and it was never the victim’s fault.

“No, no. You’re streetwise and tough, trading in your family jewels for mommy bits hasn’t softened you one millimeter.” Shyver said. “I just…. Call it male instinct. I just don’t want to see you hurt is all, you can’t blame me for being protective.”

“I understand. I guess I’m just still a little used to being the one whose protective over someone else.” Simone said, laying against Shyver and letting the rest of the world fade away. “I still wonder if being Simone is right for me, but.. when I’m with you I… I just don’t care if I’m a man or a woman. As long as I’m with you mon jules, little else matters.”

Shyver scratched behind his lover’s ears, Simone seemed to enjoyed this who leaned even further against him and giggled playfully. “Uplift looks amazing today doesn’t it?” He said, changing the subject as he looked over the vast polis, he could see everything.

“Mmmm, oui oui. And so does the town under ZIS dome.” Simone said slyly as she looked at her lover’s noticeable erection, having brushed up on her pick-up lines with the help of Lucille.

“Yes, Uplift I just….” Shyver noticed where Simone’s eyes were looking. “....Oh you naughty little thing...”

Lucille and Promethus were even able to see them as they looked up in the air. “Our humans really like each other.” Promethus said to the skunk.

“They’re not the only ones.” Lucille smiled, rubbing up against the panda bear with a smile. “When the fleshlings get off the ferris wheel… what do you say we ride the tunnel of love? They let fusers on that one.”

“...Yeah, but… first. Shyver asked me to show you something.” Promethus said, petting Lucille’s hardlight pelt with a forepaw. “I’m sending you a file. It contains some memories that Shyver wanted your human to have.”

“Oh Promethy! I hope these are more embarrassing moments from when Shyver was ‘She-ver’ those are always good for a laugh. I don’t get how humans can…..” Lucille was about to say, be so adaptable to gender changes as RIDEs are definitely not at all, but Promethus cut her off.

“No. These memories scare me Lucille, they make me worried for your well being, but nonetheless. I need you not to open them until fifteen tomorrow.” Promethus sighed, knowing that this may be the last time she spoke to her directly. “I need you to promise that you won’t…”

“What is it with you two today? Shyver looked downtrodden too.” Lucille asked with moderate concern.

“....” Promethus refused to answer so he changed the subject. “I think the ferris wheel stopped, and we won two free funnel cake vouchers in that last game. Let’s fuse with our meatlings so we can claim them.”

“Oh how I wish we had stomachs! Ya know, sometimes I wish there was a way I could become human.” Luc

Venars

Back at Le Wrench Of Paris Gabrielle had finally completed Zedimuse, body and electronic soul. Originally she was hoping to fuse in front of Simone and Paula and have the manliest cross-over party in the history of all the worlds, but Paula seemed busy and Simone wouldn’t be back from her date for awhile. Besides, Zedimuse had brought to light a pressing matter. “You ordered my body from Sturmhaven and don’t remember it? I’ve ran a systems check, this is my body.” The hyena said, stretching around in it. “Good to be home instead of in the body of a meek female or floating around in my core.”

“I was a brain in a jar once. I fully understand your discomfort.” Gabrielle noted as she pet Zedimuse’s cold metallic head, opting not to use hardlight to conserve his energy for weapons.

“Just looking at Cassandra-II makes me physically ill. To be reminded even by her name I was this… this RAT!” Zedimuse growled. “So meek and helpless, let me trash her!”

Cassandra-II panicked as Zedimuse activated his weapons systems, but Gabrielle objected. “Cassandra-II was just a means to an end. She is innocent and will be given to a good home at a low price.”

Cassandra-II breathed a sigh of relief as Zedimuse lowered his weaponry. “Fine, the person I really want to destroy is Aristo for shaming us, and you know exactly who knows where he is. Shyver!”

“Shyver?” Gabrielle asked. “But he has done nothing but help… Why would he be harboring Aristo?”

“Think about it, wouldn’t the best way to keep a criminal hidden would be by putting his right hand man in charge of the investigation? I’ve already messaged Simone, Shyver’s about to head back to ACE Evolutions. Give me your thumbs and five minutes alone with him. He’ll talk.” Zedimuse gave his owner a wicked smile that just screamed his intention to peel Shyver open like a can of tomatoes.

“Yes…. yes, I agree.” Gabrielle clasped her hands and gave off a wickedly evil smile. “Zedimuse, I’ve been waiting for this moment for over a decade. Initiate fuser sequence and begin basic cross-over protocol. Oh and if you don’t mind… I would like it if you made most certain that...”

“You want a fourteen inch mace of boning to make up for years of emasculation?” Zedimuse laughed and smiled at his partner. “Gabriel my old friend any man in your position would ask the same. Just lay back and think of any man drawn by Rob Liefeld. Because no matter who he is, he’ll be asking where you bought your steroids in a second.”

Uplift to Supernova

The sun was setting over a perfect day, Shyver and Simone were riding the ferris wheel one last time to catch the sunset. This time Shyver had bribed the ride attendant to allow their RIDEs on. It reminded Shyver of an old Earth joke which he repeated to his date. “Yo dawg, I heard you like rides, so we bribed the attendant to allow RIDEs on this ride so you can be on a ride while you’re in a RIDE.”

Lucille laughed at it, but Simone just shook her head finding the pun horrible even in comparison to her own bad jokes.

Shyver had a million things on his mind, but nothing to say, so he just held his lover’s hand and enjoyed the view. As expected Uplift and what he could see of the surronding sands were very pretty. “Simone… I… there’s a lot of things I could say right now.” He said as they approached the top of the ferris wheel, Shyver had paid 700 MU extra for it to stop just then for a perfect view of the polis. Being insanely wealthy had its perks. “But I think the butterflies in my stomach can be best summed up with…” As soon as the ride stopped, Shyver leaned close, close enough for Simone’s massive k-cups to smoosh against the fat that had given him a sizeable (for a male) chest as well, and rubbed the hardlight fur on the back of Simone and Lucille’s combined neck. After looking into her big beautiful eyes, blue normally, but Lucile’s were red and since she was fused with her and all. Shyver did the only thing that felt right. He kissed her, deeply and for what felt like years, but was merely minutes.

I think zat sums it up quite nicely for what I had to say as well, mon jules.:: Simone sent as she had Lucille shrink her bosom a little to let Shyver get closer to her. Sending was the only way she could talk without removing her tongue which was firmly planted in the panda fuser’s muzzle with no intention of removing itself.

The kiss didn’t end until the ride did and once it did, Shyver scratched the back of his and Promethus’ head wanting desperately to warn Simone that Aristo had marked her, but he knew from a past experience that Simone had no memory of that if he did he would lose both Aristo’s trust and Simone’s love. “Simone.. I.. uhh.. look, can you do me a favor?”

“For you mon cheri? Anyzing.” Simone said, hugging.

“I need you to wear this for me, even to bed, you can take it off two days from now, but please keep it on till then.” Shyver said, handing Simone what looked like a red morpher from Power Rangers Turbo, one of the woman’s favorite shows.

“Sounds weird, but as I said. I would do anything for you.” Simone said sliding it onto her arm. “Though I’d probably wear it anyway, you know how much I love le rangers.”

“That’s why I had it shaped like this, listen I gotta go… When you see me again, you might not like me and neither will Lucille. I’m ready for that I just..” Shyver breathed deeply, first in, then out. “I’m glad we spent today together.”

“Well, you could stop by my place for a moment to help me… how you say, screw in a few loose bolts.” Simone said with a naughty giggle, making her accent even thicker for that sentence just for the pure sex appeal.

“Milady, I don’t deserve to share a bed with you.” Shyver said, defusing with Promethus who immediately entered skimmer form. “I don’t deserve even to shake the hand of the man known as Simon Bertrand…. but please, don’t remove the bracelet. Not for two days.”

“Shyver? What are you…” Simone was in the middle of asking.

“Goodbye Simone, I’m very sorry.” Shyver said turning away from her to take off. “I’m very, very sorry.” Simone couldn’t see it but he was crying.

“Vas it somezing I said?” Simone asked Lucille who began defusing herself. “Was it because I shrunk my breasts? Is he… is he breaking up with me?”

“I think we’ll figure this out tomorrow.” Lucille said, looking at the file Promethus gave her in her virtual database.

“You zink so?” Simone asked, forgetting to undo her accent settings set with Lucille.

“I know so.” Lucille said plainly and directly.

Once Shyver got back to ACE Evolutions he saw something he didn’t expect nor want to see. A vaguely familiar hyena fuser who immediately pointed an EMP Grenade Launcher in his face. “I am Mr. Locke and I have an appointment with Mr. Enroygall.” The human half said, though Shyver swore it sounded more like a synthetic RIDE voice.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. If this is some kind of prank I will call security” Shyver said, playing dumb to what the hyena had uncovered through guess work.

“Already disabled the alarm.” The hyena fuser said cocking his weapon. “This EMP is at a setting so strong that it contains the potential to utterly destroy your RI Core entirely at this range in addition to several primary RIDE functions. There won’t be enough to move your arms and legs, defuse, raise the faceplate, or most importantly work your life support systems. You would be stuck in a heavy panda statue until you suffocated to death. Military Grade weapon, illegal to sell to civilians. I have five rounds I’ve been saving for a rainy day. By the end of the day I want to have four left. Will I make that happen now or when I disable Aristo’s arm?”

Shyver weighed his options and thought that Aristo would stand a better chance of fighting Gabriel as his fighting style was based on speed and he had very little reliance on RIDEs. Aristo had destroyed them before with his bare fist. ::Mr. Enroygall the prostitutes you ordered have arrived, as per your request. Blonde Tagless Shemales, enjoy:: He sent, but allowed Gabriel to listen in on his channel.

Ooooh good, chicks with dicks. Just my kink. Send them on up:: Aristo rubbed his hands together with a purr.

“Mr. Enroygall is ready for you Mr. Locke.” Shyver swallowed. “If he asks.. uhh I never saw you.”

Gabriel laughed at this. “A perfect chance to catch him with his pants down and… Wait, dick chicks?…”

Shyver nodded. “You wondered why Aristo was so friendly to Thor, well, shi’s a herm.”

Gabriel shook his head. “And let me guess, Lucille has a retractable strap-on? Oh wait, no you’re dating her human. Oh, you know what, don’t tell me. I hate thinking of you naked.” With that the fuser was off.

Shyver was glad that he wasn’t being put on the spot over that detail of Lucille’s functionality, but it struck him as quite odd that Gabriel said “Her human” instead of “Her operator”, still he was just happy that a gun wasn’t being put in his face.

Promethus defused and looked at Shyver with a smile. “I hope Gabe wins, I’d love for Lucille to do that thing we love so much again.”

“Shut up Promethus.” Shyver said with a blush as he clenched his buttocks. “That’s…… the last thing on my mind right now.”

“I was implying we should go help Aristo. God damn it, I love Lucille, you love Simone and we could lose both of them if they Integrate!” Promethus said fusing with Shyver and moving his legs. “If we lose the fight, let’s just tell Aristo that Gabriel hacked us with that Amontallido stuff that Alpha Wolf’s been using.”

“Okay… that’s.. that’s underhanded, but smart.” Shyver nodded. “If Aristo starts losing I’ll just pretend that I cured it.” So Shyver and Promethus ran off to aid Gabriel.

Aristo had dressed in a bathrobe purring and pouring three glasses of champagne. “A three-way is the traditional send-off for one’s manhood, and this is one time I won’t argue with tradition.” No sooner had he finished saying that he heard a knock on the door. Aristo jumped with delight and activated the breathe spray in his metal hand’s pinky finger. “Oh darlings I’ve poured us some champagne and prepared some wonderfully relaxing lube. Made it myself for a line of Pleasure Support models that...” He said as he went to open the door and to his surprise saw Gabriel and Zedimuse looking at him with a mix of anger and joy. “...I’m going to kill Shyver…”

Gabriel grinned and prepared not the grenade launcher, but repulsor gun. “Oh baby, we’re so hard for you right now.” he said before blasting Aristo with the repulsor, knocking him right in the table and knocking over two of the glasses. Gabriel grabbed the last glass and chugged it keeping the gun pointed at Aristo firing it again once he was almost up knocking him into the wall. “Aristo, Gabriel and I have grown so tired of you. The fact that you still draw breath is heavily offensive to all of my senses. My stomach turns when I think of the way you stuffed my core into ‘Casey’, still taunting me the way you did back on Earth” he said, but in Gabriel’s voice entirely.

“Are you feeling okay?” Aristo asked, confused by the word choices Gabriel made.

“Never better. Most of your brain is in your arm correct? I’m going to punish you for awhile and then I’ll make you braindead with a little surprise strapped to my back.” Gabriel smiled as he ran up to Aristo claws out. “How bad could one fleshling be?”

Aristo activated his cybernetic eye’s dilated vision and saw Gabriel and Zedimuse coming as though they were slowly tip-toeing close, allowing him to sidestep out of the way at the last second and deliver a chop to the back of their neck knocking them down. Gabriel is lucky he used armor or he would have broken his neck with this attack. “I think Zedimuse is malfunctioning.” Aristo said putting his foot on Gabriel’s chest. “Rather badly at that, this silver goo is leaking out of you… and from the looks of it I’d say it’s waste from the RIDE digesting your body in order to feed his nanites nanites. It happens if you’ve been in fuser too long, days at a time will do it. I’d de-fuse if I were you.”

“Why would I voluntarily cut myself in half?” Gabriel asked, though now it seemed to be his and Zedimuse’s voices both at the same time. This was a question that made Aristo open his eyes wide in fear. “Oooh… shit I think I just realized what you did. Didn’t quite figure it out till I said it outloud… Funny, before you kidnapped me it was part of my job to help keep Inties a secret. Now… I am one or at least will be very shortly... Karma, or something like it I suppose.”

“Oh, oh my..” Aristo said swallowing and quickly igniting the stealth saber in his metal arm, though this time he did not detach it. “Well I did once, voluntarily cut myself in half that is, it was one of my bigger upgrades. Had myself chopping in half to install a metal lower body. Though that was before I came to Zharus and printed new flesh. Still. You could say that, for a time, I had balls of steel.” He said with a slight chuckle as he began to cut Gabriel in half. Blood and more silver gunk was pouring out yet Gabriel did not seem to care.

“You would not believe the things I can see right now Aristo.” Gabriel and Zedimuse said together in complete monotone. “I can see the double helix of Human DNA and the exoskeleton of a Drive Extender, but I cannot differentiate between them and yet that’s not all I bare witness too. Beyond that I can see into the stars, no beyond even them. I can see the point at which all things intersect and become as one. The whole thing, it makes me feel… numb. I feel large as the titans themselves and yet as insignificant as an ant. Like I’m a mighty king and yet less important than a blade of grass.”

Aristo seemed to be having trouble cutting Gabriel as his arm seemed to just stop moving as though some invisible force was pushing it back from being moved any further.

“I wish the whole world could see it, yet because I have seen it I feel as though we all have. We are all Zedimuse or Gabriel looking into infinity itself with the mere illusion that we are somehow separate beings. We the whole of all life only have one soul and that soul encompasses all of us. Please lay down with me Aristo and close your eyes. Join me in focusing on it. It’s truly fantastic. If you just relax you can gaze into this marvelous wonderment I speak of. It isn’t exclusive to what I am now, it just made it easier to see.” Gabriel and Zedimuse went onto say as Aristo just panicked and tried to continue his incision with frustration and in vain. “You would be a lot happier doing it than with your laughable attempts to destroy me.”

“I think that you two sound like colossal faggots” Aristo yawned sarcastically. “Mind informing me what’s up with my arm there while you’re dispensing this knowledge of the universe oh great Metal Buddha?”

“Two? There’s just me. Zediel.” Gabriel and Zedimuse had actually said each other’s names at once, but it sounded very close to Zediel and far more pronounceable for the mono-personed individual. “Oh that’s easy, you see it would rather conflict with this peaceful state of mind I have acquired if you were to divide me by half. Not to mention my legs and torso being too far apart from one another would put me in quite a sour mood and I’d have to go back to killing you. So I stopped it, apparently I’m telekinetic. Other things too, but I’m still piecing what those other things are together.”

“You are beginning to piss me off Locke.” Aristo said, having resorted to literally trying to drag his metal arm with his flesh.

“Not yet, but I can see there’s just no way to reason with you is there? I was willing to forgive you for all the things you have done to me, but I can see that you won’t forgive yourself.” Gabriel and Zedimuse, or rather, Zediel said. “I can’t hack anything, it seems I can’t quite get my programming language and your arm’s to even begin to recognize one another for even a handshake.. But… you are using hardlight for the weapon… and I think I can… I think I might be able to… Oh yes! Invert blade.”

“Invert what?” Aristo asked confused by what that meant when suddenly, surprise. The green blade of the stealth saber retracted and then ignited the opposite way slicing through his palm and would have sliced through his head had he not moved in time. “Gaaaah.. okay.. that’s tingly. Some of my nerves are in there, SOME OF MY BRAIN is too in my a.... ar.. are… apple… banana.. carrot.. durian… eggplant...”

The blade retracted itself once Aristo stepped away from the hyena who stood up, his wound immediately fixing itself as he shrank, becoming more sleek and slender as he grew fur all throughout his body. “Aristo. You have shamed the components that make me up in a way that cannot be forgiven and when they decided to forgive you anyway, you refused.” Zediel cracked his neck as purple glowing lines began forming all over his body, forming an inverted pentagram shape on his back. “It was our hatred of you that united to make me. I am neither Gabriel nor Zedimuse anymore, I am someone with far less mercy.”

Aristo narrowed his eyes at the glowing beast. “And just who are you Integrate?”

“I am Death, destroyer of worlds. I have grown beyond titles as they merely encourage the illusion of separation. I suppose Zediel will do though if you must call me something.” Zediel said as he pushed out his left arm, Aristo’s right doing the same. “You now realize that I am in control of your arm through a combination of a few abilities. “I apologize if it’s a little bumpy, this would be far simpler if I could only directly interface.”

“What… what are you doing?!?!” Aristo said eyeing his trusted and beloved metal arm with fear.

“I just told you.” Zediel said pantomiming punching himself in the stomach causing Aristo to do the same, only when Aristo did it, it wasn’t pantomime.

“Oooof!” Aristo cried out, taking a few seconds to breathe again as he just had the wind knocked out of him. “Can we talk about this Mr. Locke.”

“Mr. Locke isn’t here Aristo, only Zediel is.” Zediel said plainly. “You have lied and cheated to secure the power you have now. Gabriel has whispered in my ear about how you deserve to die. Zedimuse and I fully agree with him, but first, I will help you pay off your karma.”

“This isn’t funny Gabriel!” Aristo declared with a panic as he began sweating looking at his arm wondering what will happen next.

“On the contrary it’s hysterical.” Zediel grinned as he pantomimed slapping himself which again Aristo did with his metal arm, leaving giant scratches on his face. “I hope that doesn’t get infected.” The hyena taunted as he attacked his own genitals stopping just before the hit connected.

Aristo was on the floor crying after mimicking that action. ::Shyver… help me…:: he sent begging, though pain was still ringing in his testicles and he was sure that one of them popped. He now hated himself for having a metal arm of such high grade sarium.

Shyver and Promethus had already been on there way, but were stalling due to Shyver’s uncertainty, so it wasn’t long before he got there for the most horrifying of all. Zediel had Aristo poised with his index and middle fingers just before his own eyes. “Ga.. Zediel… be reasonable here. You’ve had your fun, but let me go. I’ll… I’ll give my money to charity. I’ll buy tickets for all the poor orphans of Earth to come live the good life on Zharus, then I’ll give a RIDE to every man, woman, and child who doesn’t have one as I turn myself over to the law enforcement agency of your choice. Fuck I’ll surrender myself over to the valks without crossing myself… just.. don’t do this.”

“Nice try, but I know as soon as I turn my back you’ll try cutting my head off.” Zediel refused as he plunged Aristo’s metal arm into his eyes blinding him. “You are far too dangerous to be kept alive.”

Blood poured from Aristo’s eyes as he screamed in pain, shocks from his broken cybernetic eye burning his face and socket. The cyborg closed his now lack of eyes eyes as tears of blood trailed down, but Zediel just made Aristo scrap his claws against the roof of his eyeholes.

Shyver and Promethus heard Aristo scream in pain and would not have been surprised if he had wet himself. ::Put a bullet in him Shyver, and it’s all over. Your woman doesn’t have to Integrate with mine.:: Promethus urged Shyver who could not fire weapons on his own due to fetters.

“...I have never seen anyone in such pain before.” Shyver winced as Aristo cried.

“Shyver, you love the Bertrand woman do you not?” Zediel asked. “Go to her, I’ll be done with this clown after a few more rounds. Next I’ll overload his nerves with pain signals, then he has my permission to die.”

Shyver nodded at Zediel. “Renzor Initiative Activate” Shyver said, mostly so Aristo would know what he was doing as miniguns formed over his fuser paws and a giant cannon formed on his back and point forward over his head. However, he just couldn’t do it. Shyver owed his life to Aristo, hell he even owed his love to Aristo as Simone would still be a man without him. “...I.. uhh”

“Shyver? Are you there? What are you waiting for? Save me…” Blind Aristo cried out.

“Aristo deserves to die and you know it Shyver.” Zediel said plainly.

Shyver looked back and forth between who was his friend and who was speaking the truth. “...Yes Mr. Locke. I know what I have to do…” he said looking down to the ground disappointed.

“Then do it.” Zediel ordered.

“Okay…” Shyver said before raising his minigun hands and pointing them… at Zediel giving him everything he had. “No hardlight generator to shield yourself is there?” Shyver asked inquisitively as Zediel found himself getting quite torn up from the gunfire.

“I don’t have one… but you do!” Zediel said as he pulled the hardlight walls and ceiling of Aristo’s office and formed a giant armor around himself him at the torso of it. Bullets could no longer pierce him after this and his shell was so large that you could almost see it from Aloha! “Now I will destroy you both.”

A female laugh was heard. “I wouldn’t be so sure, Shyver’s fire left me the perfect cover to fuse with Iris. I wanted to hold it off by one more day, but you literally forced my hand. The metal half of my body is rewriting my DNA to match your average female in two minutes I’ll have two X chromosomes and in ten minutes I’ll be capable of becoming pregnant, perish the thought. But by the end of this sentence. I’ll have regrown my left eye.”

“Good for you. Do you want a medal? I’m about to crush you under my foot.” Zediel called out in what would turn out to be precious little more than near-suicidal overconfidence.

“Yeah, yeah you do that.” Aristo smirked, and sure enough Zediel’s giant blue hardlight foot was stomping down on her. Seconds before it did Aristo grabbed a handle off of her fuser’s back and ignited a yellow blade which cut through the hardlight no problem. “An EMP concentrated into a lightsaber. I call it, Thunder Bruiser. Harmless to flesh, but it doesn’t like machinery too much. You’ll be able to reform that foot no problem, but I’m guessing you don’t have much reserve energy left from pulling this stunt do you? Ha, just as my sister says, never have a man do a woman’s job.”

“Damn you.” Zediel cried out. “I fucking had you where I wanted you.”

“I’m taking that as a no.” Aristo replied, watching Zediel’s hardlight shield fade out and the hyena fall on another blade Aristo pulled out, a red one. “This by the way is Firebrand, the most efficient cutting tool ever made. Made for cutting metal.” She grinned as Zediel fell chest first on it. While laughing she slashed him off, the hyena appearing to be dead. “Good news Shyver, I’m upping your pay. But we need to move fast now, the authorities will be asking about that giant hardlight ghost that peaked through the roof that now isn’t here so I’ll have to throw the switch early. Once I Integrate, take me to Kayla in my tower at the dry.

“Simone…” Shyver sighed regretting his decision immediately. “I’m sorry…”

“What was that Shyver?” Aristo asked.

“Yes Ms. Enroygall, as you say.” Shyver nodded as Aristo flipped a switch right behind Iris’ resting chamber. In less than an hour anyone wearing an 817 model RIDE would Integrate with their partners.

Venars:Invaded

Simone and Lucille were flying back to Venars after spending the day after Shyver left to browse Uplift’s garage for parts. Simone was just over Le Wrench Of Paris when Lucille began acting funny. “Must… fuse… with.. Simon.” she said.

“Darling, we’re over my shop, you can’t fuse with me here we’d die.” Simone reminded. “And since when do you call me Simon?”

“Must… fuse… with… Simon.” Lucille repeated as she immediately went into fuser after wrapping around her operator. As soon as she accomplished this she fell mindlessly to the ground, but had fallen unconscious before impact.

Paula shrieked when she came out to investigate the noise seeing the body of an untagged Simon Bertrand in a small crater filled with silver ooze in the middle of the road. “Ruby lifesigns!”

“Simone… Simon… is still alive, but I’m not registering any neural activity.” Ruby warned.

“I hope Gabrielle and Zedimuse get back from wherever they went soon… This is.. uhh.. Call the closest doctor and try to message Lucille, she should have been with him…” Paula panicked, she was confused about what Simon was doing here male, but his well being was more important.

A Fused Mind

Simone found herself in a strange world. Everything seemed dark except for the floor beneath her which was a strange mix of greymatter and metal with a striped skunk pattern. “Am I… dead? I didn’t zink there was an afterlife.” she said to herself in french. “Guess I’m wrong.”

“No, we’re not dead, we’re just fused together.” Lucille said, appearing out of nowhere. “I just felt an overpowering urge to fuse with you while we were flying and I just couldn’t help it.”

“Ah I’m delirious from bumping my noggin. Has Paula called la ambulance for me?” Simone asked looking around wondering why she wasn’t in her usual V-Space.

“Yeah, contact with the outside world is fuzzy though. Though they do believe that we are brain dead and they don’t know I’m here.” Lucille informed.

“How not?!?!” Simone asked confused. “We’re in fuser right now! They should see you around me.”

“I don’t know, like I said, it’s fuzzy, but I can’t open our eyes. All I can do is hear and not a good job of that. There are two more things though.” Lucille said looking up at Simone and summoning a mirror. “Your avatar is different than it usually is.”

Simone seemed a little weirded out with her appearance, she seemed to be a strange match up of Simon and Simone. Looking neither male nor female, but perhaps a masculine female or feminine male. Her breasts were small now, but could be mistaken for muscle or fat, her hips were wide but not that wide, her hair was long, but in a masculine hair style. Come to think of it, even her voice was a tad more androgynous than it normally was. “What’s the other thing.”

“Our minds Simone, I can’t separate them. I mean normally I don’t have to, but they’re trying to conjoin. The only reason they won’t is because there are things your mind is blocking mine from trying to see and it’s holding back the fusion. We either need to figure out how to get our brains to stop this or mix them and hope for the best. Either way, we can’t go be ike this for too long.” Lucille warned. “Personally I think our best bet is bringing our brains together.”

“But won’t zat make us permanently fused?” Simone asked with reasonable concern. “You and me, truly one person..”

“Would you rather us be dead separately?” Lucille asked.

“Fair point, alright. So part of my mind can’t be read by you? Which one?” Simone asked, rubbing her head as if trying to feel the part of the virtual representation of her head the brain was having problems with.

“Three parts in memory, two parts invisible to me, one part invisible to you. EVERYthing needs to be visible to both of us or we can’t do this. I tried forcing it, but there’s trauma associated with each part so you’ll have to summon it manually. The earliest one is from before you came to Zharus.” Lucille explained, Simone’s old home appearing before them. It was thanksgiving dinner now, Simone took the place of her younger (chronologically, physically Simone was twenty years younger than him) counterpart as Lucille stood behind her. This had been the day Simone had left for Zharus.

Lucille could see that all of Bertrand’s family were a heavy degree of metal with less meat on them than a chicken mcnugget and Simone found herself reciting Simon’s lines from this point in time. “Everything smells good, but where are the turkey and Pierre? I’d hate for him to miss thanksgiving.” She said, but in Simon’s voice and again in french. Simone turned around to look at Lucille, but no one in the memory could notice when she looked over, her appearance, or that Lucille was there. “...Please Lucille, don’t make me relive this part it’s the last time I saw my family.”

“Simone. Please, how bad could it be, you’re having dinner with them and your brother is bringing out the turkey right?” Lucille cheered licking her lips. “When we get out of this mess, let’s go have some turkey.”

“Oui, he is…” Simone said looking down in shame. “But…”

An R4-D5 Astromech Droid came out using a metal claw to hold a platter with an extra large genetically modified turkey. “Well I know what I’m thankful for. I got a good price for my body and I’ve brought you all the biggest turkey I could find. And we should be able to pay our bills for a few more years.”

“Ooooh.. That’s your brother isn’t he?” Lucille asked looking upset. “He sounds happy.”

“Oui…” Simone said before turning back to face her brother. “PIERRE! What on God’s blackened Earth do you think you’ve done to yourself!?!?!”

“I saved our family little brother. The rest of us are running out of bodyparts to sell. So if you want to keep the Bertrands afloat you better save your sperm and pick out your new body from a catalogue. It’s much cheaper if you give up your arms and legs.” Pierre beeped from his tin-can body.

“I’d rather we go extinct! I think I might be the last Bertrand left who even has blood in his veins! So this thanksgiving, thanks, but no thanks. Anyone who still has a stomach. Enjoy your turkey!” Simone said as she pulled a leg free from said turkey and took a bite. “But ask someone else to change your stomach bags, because I have had enough. I have enough in my savings to buy a one way ticket to Mars on Red Dwarf, anyone who wants to come with me I’m sure I can have you counted as cargo.”

Pierre beeped back in rage as their mother began crying, everyone at the table was appalled whether their faces were expressive enough to show it or not. “SIMON! CONTROL YOURSELF! You don’t mean that.”

“No, you’re right. That’s too close, if I claim that I’m addicted to Virtual Life they’ll ship me to Zharus free of charge with the rest of the loonies. They’d be better conversation partners than you… you.. MACHINES!” Simone as she walked right out.

“I’m a machine and I’m your best friend..” Lucille chirped in, again no one listening to her as this was little more than a glorified recording.

“You are making our mother cry Simon!” Pierre beeped angrilly.

“My mother had rosy cheeks full of life and was actually woman shaped, not that androgynous plastic crash test dummy!” Simone yelled looking at the one who gave birth to her with disgust. “I bite my thumb at her. I look at this abomination and think of the billions of others who have that same model, and I’m supposed to see that as my mother? Get bent Pierre.”

“Get the fuck out!” Simone’s Mother piped up. “If that’s how you treat the woman who brought you into this world, you can go and get your flesh-covered ass out of it. Just like your father!”

“Good, I’m never coming back. Offer is still open for anyone who wants to come with me.” Simone repeated looking around the room for any takers.

“LEAVE SIMON!” Pierre yelled. “Leave until you know how to have common sense.”

“SIMONE!” Lucille cried out following her out the door. “They’re your family!”

“I know Lucille, but I had to re-enact the memory, I just felt compelled to. Afterwards I snuck aboard the spruce goose and put myself in an empty freezing chamber. By the time they realized I had snuck aboard they had already de-thawed me. I served a short sentence for it and then they let me apply for citizenship when it was over. Though it was house arrest with my roommate in Cape Nord, so it wasn’t even that bad.” Simone sighed standing with Lucille in the ruins of Neo Paris. “I love my family, but… when I was a kid… they were human. They aren’t the people I grew up with.”

“You have a skunk tail and a vagina now so you aren’t the Simon they remember either! I think it’s time you forgave them. Hell Shyver’s richer than anyone on Earth. You could probably ask him to help get them here and have new bodies printed for them.” Lucille cheered.

“...And.. when you say our brains need to fuse to get out of this mess… Can they separate then?” Simone asked recalling their situation. “I mean… we’re still a RIDE and a human right? Surely we aren’t an… well you know.. you’ve heard le rumors.”

“...I didn’t want to tell you this, but, the reason they couldn’t find me anywhere is because… we are in the process of Integrating… I’m just as sorry about this as I know you are. I’ve dreamed of being human but, as a fantasy you know, for fun, like walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I, I didn’t actually want for us to… I mean I like you and if I have to be an Integrate, I’m honored that it’s you who makes up my human half.” Lucille smiled. “You are one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met that I didn’t have to… one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met.”

“You were going to say something else.” Simone noted Lucille’s last minute word change.

“Talk to your family Simone.” Lucille responded not wanting to talk about what her original words were going to be.

“If I’m going to be a machine from now on. I guess I really am a hypocrite.” Simone sighed looking herself over envisioning what she may look like after integrating. “..How can you stand it Lucille? Being artificial…”

“I’m not as artificial as most humans I’ve seen.” Lucille laughed. “If anything I’d say if you look at averages, it’s the humans who seem more like machines.”

“True, true.” Simone smiled not entirely reassured, but she needed to stop stalling and open the door. “Mother, Pierre, I know you’re not really here, but…” she said hugging Pierre’s metal body and then her mother’s plastic one. “I’m in Zharus now and… some things have happened to me that happened to you two. Unlike you I chose it. It’s wrong for me to stay mad at our family, we only did what we had to do to survive and it’s wrong of me for leaving in the first place, I should have sent money to help you all. Oh except for our father. If I find he’s on Zharus, I’ll make sure I save getting even for when I bring you two here. And I will bring you here, I promise.” Simone hugged her mother one more time as it all melted away and she found herself back in the brain room. Only now, some of the skunk metal was pink and some of the human brain was black and white.

“Good news Simone, we’ve been upped from brain dead to drooling vegetable.” Lucille cheered waking Simone from that memory. “We just have two left.”

Simone looked around, and became saddened, for the first time she saw that crash test dummy as her mother, her beautiful white haired mother, once more. It was easy to see the old her in her reflection, part of the reason she kept her features so exaggerated was to avoid bearing too strong a resemblance to her. “You were saying something and then cut yourself off. What was it?” Simone asked.

“No.. nothing.” Lucille said, burying her face under her paws in a fit of pure disgust and self shame. Whatever it was that was under Lucille’s not-actually-skin it was clearly eating at her mind like acid.“I swear it was nothing.”

“You said we couldn’t hide anything from one another if we were to save our lives… life now I guess.” Simone reminded Lucille, worrying deeply for a machine she loved like the sister she never had. “Spill it.”

“Well…” Lucille warped to a ton of her memories during which Aristo was her operator. In particularly various times she used her flamethrowers to chargrill a human to death. In one of them Lucille was in a secluded room with a man begging for his life tied by his arms. She was fused to Aristo as she turned to face Simone. A look of ghastly gut wrenching terror and remorse frozen upon her face. “I’ve been forced to kill people...”

“Oui oui, but not of your own volition.” Simone assured as she walked up to Lucille. “Aristo killed those people, not you. I had to buy FreeRIDE to fix you up remember? You can’t be blamed for something you did while you had no control over yourself.”

“Easy for you to say, you’re human! You don’t know what it’s like having no say in anything you do.” Lucille pouted walking away from Simone. “You don’t know what it’s like to do something horrible and only you blame yourself for it.”

“Lucille, I…. I should tell you why I left Cape Nord.” Simone said with a heavy heart. “I think it will explain everything about why I hide things from you.”

To The Dry

Aristo had passed out while Shyver carried him to an escape shuttle flying towards the tower he was told while Aristo changed form. In test runs the Forced Integration was shown to be incredibly painful, while a natural one was quite pleasant. So Aristo had added a line to it which although took longer made the human and RIDE retreat into their mind while they painlessly integrated.

Promethus was giving Shyver the evil eye in augmented reality, which is to say his face was floating angrily in Shyver’s Heads Up Display. ::What’s happening to Aristo is happening to our lovers Shyver AND IT’S YOUR FAULT!::

“I know Promethus, I know.. but I had no choice…” Shyver said trying to justify himself.

I was there, you had plenty of choice. You could have wasted Aristo and we’d be out of this mess.:: Promethus reminded.

“He’s my best friend!” Shyver objected. “You don’t kill your friends!”

Some friend he is.:: Promethus uttered in disgust.

“He saved my life, remember how we first met? I was drunk after failing in selling cyber, joyrode out to the desert. He was there looking for Integrates… found me… HAD YOU SAVE ME! Took your Anti-Alcholism program! Remember?” Shyver argued.

Hmph… times have changed Shyver. You could fly me out of here after setting this turkey to crash right outside a Marshall HQ. They’d fry him and you wouldn’t even be implicated. It’d look like he took a nap while flying and auto-pilot wasn’t set right. It would be that easy, I’d do it right now if I wasn’t fettered.:: Promethus tempted.

“Tempting….” Shyver looked back at the unconscious Aristo covered in silver muck, it didn’t seem like his body had changed much though he now seemed to be wearing a green suit of some kind with golden glowing lines across it and his ears seemed to be green now. “...Huh, either he’s not done or he’s one of THOSE kinds of Integrates. He’s not going to like that. It shouldn’t affect his functionality too much.... At least he retained his masculinity. That’s something I guess.”

Eventually Shyver decided not to do it and landed safely in a giant lighthouse in the middle of the Dry Ocean. A Lighthouse was cute as it went along with the myth of the Billion Year Drought for which the Dry Ocean was named, but Shyver couldn’t help but think that it was a little conspicuous. A giant lighthouse in the middle of the desert? Well THAT wasn’t going to attract unwanted attention or anything. However Shyver said nothing, he was used to Aristo seemingly going through his days doing everything like a saturday morning cartoon villain. ::Kayla, Lucypop, the Mass Integration started early. Aristo’s out like a light. Can you let us in?::

The lighthouse which apparently had no door, merely formed one that vanished just as a tigress with glowing blue lines stepped out of it. “Kabrina now actually Shyver. I was told that Aristo was becoming female as a result of his Integration. Do you really expect me to follow a male?” Kabrina asked angrily.

Aristo yawned and leaped out of Shyver’s arms. “What the hell are you talking about you daft woman? I’m as female as they…” Aristo looked at himself. Still male, though he couldn’t feel a penis on his person. His body seemed mostly metallic, androgynous leaning towards male no genitals whatsoever, all green with gold glowing lines. Aristo did love how his torso had the emblem of a crown on it. His feet looked like big metallic pawboots though he could move the individual toes at all, and the arms were definitely metal, though the right arm where his metal one had been when he was human was much sleeker looking. Finally his face and head seemed completely human while his ears and tail was that of a green tiger with gold stripes. “Come…. Shyver, what the hell happened to me?”

Shyver shrugged. “Well according to the guide Lucypop gave us you’re what is called a Meatface, atleast I think you are. The rest of your body should be human as well if that were the case.”

“Integration is the biggest unknown in all of Quantum Physics, a field no real progress was made on until the Trigger Effect. Surprises are guaranteed to happen, still..” Aristo flexed the fingers of his new body. “I was expecting to be a ferocious beast, not the chinese knockoff of the Green Mighty Morphin’ Power Ranger!”

“Practice your shapeshifting brother. I’m sure you can find some new form that will suit you.” Kayla comforted placing a paw on Aristo’s shoulder. “I think you look handsome as you are.”

“Maybe the fetters on my…” Aristo rubbed his head feeling a migraine coming on. “Iris’... mind have something to do with this…. Kayla, help me construct a Data Interface Normalizer, and I have given Lucypop the activation codes for my Battlers. Have her activate them and destroy Venars ensuring that Paula Reverbek and Ruby are killed in the havoc. This will be my warning to Zharus of what will happen IF they don’t fall under my whims.”

“What about Simone?” Shyver asked, butterflies in his stomach and sweat dripping down his face as he thought of his beloved. Confused, not sure if she was a she or a them. It was a heavy burden on his emotions.

“She and the other newly Integrated should have an updated version of that Amontillado stuff that Alpha Wolf character uses to bring them closer to our side. Lucypop will meet with them for an exceedingly bloody example to make of Venars.” Aristo clasped his hands. “Shyver, the code is safe. Why don’t you join us? It feels strange, but… oh what a rush.”

“No, me and Promethus are fine with being seperate people…” Shyver said, the situation having grown to his heaviest as he began to regret not assassinating Aristo when he had the chance.

“Suit yourself.. You’ll be ready for it one day.. Come Shyver, I need to practice my powers before that idiot Fritz eventually finds out about us. Only he can stop us now.” Aristo smiled his biggest smile. It seemed as though everything was falling into place.

ACE Evolutions in Supernova

As Aristo had predicted the Marshalls were upon the ACE Evolutions factory to investigate. They sent ten, eighteen if you counted their RIDEs as all of them had one idea on their mind for what had happened and that reason was Aristo. ::Alright ladies and gentlemen. This could be him and we could be seeing a big fat raise if we’re the ones who catch that bastard!:: One woman in a timberwolf fuser announced. ::Henderson and Sam Eagle fly up to the roof and give us a live feed to Sam Eagle’s optics. We’ll decide what to do from there.::

Henderson and his RIDE immediately took flight in a form that greatly resembled a feral eagle, something that could be done if your RIDE was sizeable enough to contain your entire body in walker form. ::Alright, examining hole in the roof. As you can see the only one I can see is one fuser, male, cut in half, arm missing, Hyena. Life signs faint, but present. No ability to make contact with his RIDE… upon further investigation he has a faint glow about him. Proceeding with caution.::

If he’s been cut in half, both the RIDE and his operator are dead. There’s no way you’re reading life signs.:: The woman responded. ::Maybe you need to have Sammy re-calibrated… unless....::
Unless what ma’am?:: Asked the flier.
Do not engage if he’s a Slenderman he could be playing possum.:: The woman responded with worry present in her mental voice. Everyone in the squadron physically gasped upon such an assertion.
...A Slenderman? You think a Slenderman did this?:: Sam Eagle’s operator Henderson asked, afraid.
Only one of them could be alive after that, maybe we should leave the area until we’ve had confirmed reports of Candlejacks coming to get this sucker.:: The commander responded.
What if he’s seriously hurt?:: Sam Eagle asked. ::He’s still a person. Besides, some of US are… ya know… like them..::
Yeah, besides, I’M a Slenderman, or did you forget.:: Piped up someone who looked like a male kangaroo fuser. ::You can’t let your own phobias get in the way. Any of you could become one of us in the next hour. Sam, Henderson, engage the potiential Integrate.::
This is insubordination Jackaroo.:: The commander growled physically ::And you know better than to say the I-Word. Another Slenderman could be reading this communique.::
I will take full responsibility if anything happens to them.:: Jackaroo responded. ::Sam Eagle, Henderson. Fly towards the downed hyena.::

Henderson and Sam Eagle were about to when suddenly the building exploded forcing them back, luckily they took minimal damages, but they would have been eviscerated had they been too much closer.

A trap. Jackaroo I will see you on cleaning duty for this!:: Screeched the Commander.
Lame.:: Jackaroo exhaled, it wasn’t fair. If there was no victim, where was the crime?

Suddenly an army of robots who looked suspiciously like evil versions of black Bombermen from the ancient Hudson game series began to march forward in a military fashion. “Targets Identified as Marshalls. Threat Level Critical, Priority Level Low.”

“I’m glad we ordered this building evacuated..” The commander swallowed. “You are impeding an investigation. Who do you work for?”

“Owner Designation:Aristo Crescendoll Enroygall. Mission objectives:Defend Polis of Venars from Threats for designated Neo-Emperor.” The lead Bomberman stated in a monotone voice.

“What threats?” The Commander demanded to know. “What sort of title is Neo-Emperor? I thought Venars had a mayor. Sasha’s still showing me Mayor Linda Vermear, just as I thought, the net’s been buzzing about how her son Kendo will be in the next election. So whose this Neo-Emperor”

“Classified” The lead Bomberman stated. “Neo-Emperor is Aristo.”

Lucypop had arrived and was flying over the Marshalls from behind them. She made gun gestures with her fingers causing her arms to seamlessly transition to what seemed to be cocked old old west sixshooters, in her targeting system she tagged all ten marshalls. “YOU ARE SURROUNDED, DON’T YOU DARE TURN AROUND or they will fire, if you try to attack them I will. I have you all targeted.” she yelled her internal speakers made her extra loud.

Play along, hands on your heads, Jackaroo and Bon Bonne. Try hacking the bots. Once you’re in hit whoever has us with everything you’ve got.:: The Commander ordered putting her hands on her head to continue this ploy.

Lucypop fired upon the Kangaroo and Bear Integrates, wounding them both. “I heard that, I’m taking these guys with me to Zharustead, do not stop me.”

“They told us Venars.” Jackaroo spoke up, the Commander gave him a sharp look.

“And neither of those are our real destination. You think I want you Marshalls following me? All up in my business? You scum should stay out of Integrate affairs. It is not man’s place to stand on the same ground as us.” Lucypop lied and recanted some of the Pro-Integrate propaganda that was circling the enclaves. “Disable your weapons systems and let them come with me or I will kill you all. This is non-negotiable.”

“Do as she says…” The Commander grumbled, raising her fuser paws and dropping the phaser she had on her person.

“Smart” Lucypop began flying away, the Bomber Battlers activated their lifters and followed.

“Well HQ’s gonna LOOOOVE this!” The Commander said to herself.

Everything seemed quiet as everyone skimmered up except for Jackaroo and Bon Bonne who merely used their lifters when suddenly, the hyena awoke from the pile. “God if only the sun was out, some Solar Power would hit the spot right now… What did I miss and has anyone seen my legs and arm?... Who are you by the way?”

“Commander Shepard, who the hell are you?” The Commander demanded.

“Ex-Marshall Gabriel Zachirus Locke and his RIDE Zedimuse, we’ve grown rather attached to one another as you see…. It’s wonderful to see you again Commander. I must say you look different. Do something with your hair, and your secondary sexual characteristics?” Zediel explained, recalling his old leader had the name Shepard. But that was a man this was a woman.

“Well Edward broke down and so I joined with this timberwolf Sasha and well.. a few things needed to be given up for our partnership and I just didn’t think standing up to pee was more important than getting back to tracking the Aristo case.” The Commander stated recounting an event that happened a couple of years ago. “Jackaroo, give him a Sarium Battery. He looks like he needs it.”

Jackaroo hopped close and gave Zediel one of his spare batteries.

“Thank you Jackaroo… So Shepard, you’re a Crossrider now? Ah well yes of course that explains the fallopian tubes and what not. My ex is giving you trouble I take it. If you and your men could find my limbs I think I know how to re-attach them. It would be much less taxing than growing new ones.” Zediel said in a rushed voice, the pick me up from his new battery made his head race and he was still a little shaken from his recent integration. “You know I had fallopian tubes myself this morning when I had a rat tail, then I had testicles, but they didn’t last long. I still have testicles, but I think that’s where my Minor Recombobulator is instead of, you know, sperm. Ahahaha. actually no I just double checked, that’s where my Samophlange is. What the fuck is a Samophlange? Do you know? I actually don’t.”

“Affirmative Lieutenant Locke.” The Commander saluted. “Uhh…. try a little harder on staying focused though, you seem far more jumpy than you normally do and we have a bit of a situation going on right now.”

“Sorry about that I’m not quite myself, or rather we’re not quite our usual selves. We, that is to say, I, go by Zediel now.” Zediel said. “By the way, Shyver was harboring Aristo the whole time. That seemed obvious, but you should probably talk to him. His frequency was taken by your men was it not?”

Triangle Lighthouse

Aristo and Shyver were training hard, Shyver and Promethus proved themselves to be quite a challenge for the freshly Integrated Aristo. “Oh sir, Lucypop is heading to Venars yet it seems three Integrates are putting up quite a fight and… oh apparently Zediel joined them….. She sounds mad”

“Kayla have you finished my DIN?!?” Aristo asked, tapping his hindpaw impatiently.

“Kabrina.” Kabrina reminded. “And yes, but be careful, these things break easily.”

“Then make one that doesn’t.” Aristo roared, he always pondered why the same DIN design Integrates used back when there was only one in the universe was the one used nearly half a century later.

“God no!” Kabrina said, sounding horrified at the idea. “Do you know what the Boss Cat would do to us if we made a DIN of our own design?!?!”

“Do you know what I’m going to do to him? Hmhmhm hehe...” Aristo laughed as installed the DIN into a slot that had appeared in the back of his neck after he had Integrated. “Oooh.. oooh. that, that feels niiice. I actually haven’t been online before, Aristo had kept that portion of myself hindered so I couldn’t go actually do tha...” he said in a softer feminine voice. “Wait.. why did I say that?” he then said in his regular one.

“You get used to that. It’s just something that happens now that you’re two people.” Kabrina shrugged.

“I am Aristo, that is all I am!” Aristo declared before focusing on Lucypop. ::That nitwit Zediel, and three Integrated Marshalls are on your tail?::

Two Integrated Marshalls, three only if you count Zediel… And a bunch of humans, you know.. You could have tried killing Zediel! Then he wouldn’t have gotten back up!:: Lucypop screeched as she blasted back at the Integrates chasing her. ::I mean would it have killed you to cut his head into many pieces?!?!::
I did kill him you daft fool!:: Aristo defended himself. ::I cut him in half! You don’t get much deader than that.::
Destruction of the brain, THAT is how you kill us!:: LucyPop screamed. ::Something that wouldn’t work on you seeing as you don’t have one.::
I tolerated your mouth only because I was human, I’m a god too now! You kill those umans and shake those Integrates! That’s an order!:: Aristo commanded ::How are humans even a problem for you?!? They’re like insects to us.::
I take it you never stepped in an anthill and happened not have any afterbite cream?.:: Lucypop snided narrowly avoiding a rocket. ::I’ve taken out six of the humans and two RIDEs, but your girlfriend, the marshalls, and Zediel are kind of getting in the way.::
Head to Venars, I have a plan to get them off your tail.:: Aristo grumbled. ::You were heading there anyway…::
I’m not sure how I feel about that.. but… I can only dodge so many plasma rounds. Don’t fuck me on this Enroygall!:: Lucypop grumbled. ::There are five hundred left of your battlers.::
I HAD 20,000! Ughh… Okay fine.. fine. Have 250 of them stay to fight and take the remaining to Venars. Three Inties should meet you there.:: Aristo sighed. “This is going to be harder than I thought.” He said, burying his face in his hand. He had been so cocky because he thought victory was assured, but it seems fate would have other plans.

Venars Invasion Part 2

Paula Reverbek, Ruby, and the doctor she called along with the doctor’s Mini-RIDE, a non-fusing RIDE much smaller than a normal sized one with enhanced transforming capabilities were all standing over the unconscious body of Simon Bertrand. Said RIDE was a german shepard, the exact kind of dogs trained to bring people medicine in cold conditions during the oil ages before they just had robots do it. “So, you say that he was a woman when he left? With her RIDE?”

“Yes.” Paula stated. “I was actually about to go looking for Lucille. I mean she left with her boyfriend to go to Qubitite Park according to my co-worker Gabrielle, but I don’t know where she is either and I can’t seem to reach her.”

“I’m wondering if your friend was gender-jacked and experiencing organ failure. I mean… I can’t even find a pulse on him and he’s not breathing either, yet, strangely his brain activity increased just a few minutes ago.” The doctor said.

“Well have you done the X-Ray yet?” Paula asked.

“No but…” The Doctor was saying before being cutoff.

“ATTENTION VENARS! You are being held hostage until the Venars government agrees to surrender itself to Supernova’s President, Aristo Enroygall and the Marshalls back down from their investigation of him. I have blocked all signals that get sent outside the Dome and locked the exits. Every hour that passes where these things have not happened a portion of the population get decimated. No meeting half-way, this happens or eventually no one but me will be left in the polis.” Announced a voice of every radio, television, PA System, etc. in all of Venars.

“Is this for real?” The Doctor asked. “If this is a joke… I swear I’ll charge you double… Eh your insurance would fuss at ME if I did that… Even if this is a joke.”

“....Keep operating on Simon, I’ve got to find my family.” Paula said suddenly as she fused with Ruby. “I know Aristo and he’s crazy. I doubt this is a joke.” she ran outside and flew upwards seeing black robots blowing up buildings and anyone who tried to resist, the sight made her very queasy.

Aristo is an insane fool.:: Ruby commented, trying to turn her and Paula’s head away from the carnage, but they found they couldn’t look away not from this train wreck.
You said it.:: Paula replied trying her best not to vomit as a someone who tried pointing a gun at the attacking robots got blown away into an unrecognizable mess of blood and bone. ::I didn’t think he’d go this far.::

“Primary Targets Identified, Ruby and Paula Reverbek.” A voice stated from below and suddenly all the robot fire was on her.

How fast can we go?:: Paula asked as she doded and weaved, small black spherical missiles resembling what could only be called Microbombs were heading for her, fortunately they could not home.
Mach 8:: Ruby replied as she stepped it into high gear.
Try to push us to 10.:: Paula replied as she rocketed to the other side of the dome and a small portion of the robots seemed to fly after her. Once she noticed this she slowed down realizing they could only do Mach 3 at best. Clearly these things were a rush job. “Okay, just keep them on us and they won’t hurt anyone else. But let her rip with the homing rockets.” Their armor seemed to be better than their speed though, Ruby did as she was told but the robots did not take enough damage to cease functioning altogether, but it did tear them up a good bit. “They won’t stop will they?”
They’re machines darling. Not machines like me, machines that have no will. Just programming to do a specific task. Hunt us.:: Ruby reminded, Paula seemed pretty capable of dodging on her own so she wasn’t worried about them actually hurting them unless Ruby ran out of energy before the bombers ran out of ammo. ::Though you should relax I.. I’ve got an idea. As I said these guys seem to be running on AI, not RI.::

Ruby kept flying straight, right into the edge of the Dome. Ten Bomber Battlers right on her, Paula was getting quite scared as she seemed seconds from impact. “You boys still want me don’t you?” Ruby teased.

RUBY! We’re going really fast, you’ll kill us!:: Paula started to shriek, but suddenly stopped. As she predicted the AI of the Bomber Battlers were not intelligent enough to stop in time and those eight out of ten crashed against the wall and exploded into many pieces. ::Oh… I see, and what are you going to do about those two?::

“Sorry Paula” Ruby said as she began to replay the memory of being about to crash with the memory of the man who exploded.

“AAAAAAAAAGHHH RUBY, STOP IT, STOP IT! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING!?!?!” Paula screamed. “Shut it off shut it off, SHUT IT OFF!” And, not only did this short circuit the lifters inside the two surviving Bomber Battlers, but in the five more reinforcements that spotted her and Ruby causing the machines to fall to their decomissioning. “Oh… okay.. I see what you’re doing there…. Never do it again, but yeah, let’s.. let’s try to take out as many as we can this way. For Simon’s sake and for my parents!” __________________________________________________________________________

Simone and Lucille were still in their mind, well where else would they be? Lucille was standing outside of a freezing pod, one that Simone was occupying. Though now, Lucille wasn’t a RIDE, no, now she was a human. A rather adorable one with very long black hair that went halfway down her spine, and a small nose. Her face was, fair, innocent, and, unassuming. It was rather surprising given her status as a pleasure support RIDE that she turned out so adorable and harmless looking. Lucille’s dress was even sensible making her look even more like a teenager, black t-shirt and blue jeans. The shirt went well with her hair. Like her normal RIDE self she had red eyes, the only obvious give away that her humanity was insincere outside of her amazingly large breasts which due to her RI’s programming she just couldn’t stand not to have. “Hey Simone, so… this is the Spruce Goose huh? I’ve always wanted to see the inside of it, but, RIDEs can’t leave Zharus-Space so… Ya know, I bet it’s pretty out among the stars.”

But Simone just stared blankly at Lucille. She could see just fine and fully comprehend all that was going on, but the dream would not let her move or talk until she was thawed.

“Simone? Oh right, I should unfreeze you first. Heh silly me.” Lucille said as she pushed a few buttons on Simone’s pod releasing her and making sure to catch her as she fell forward. “You okay?”

“Yea.. yeah.. Pretty weird seeing you with a skunk tail and me as tailless as an untagged human isn’t it? It’s almost like you’re the RIDE in a way.” Lucille smiled. “I guess that might be the point, since I’m gonna be you and you’re gonna be me.. or… We should remember to write a book about… whatever happens to us.”

“Is zis your way of embracing la madness zat has befallen us Lucille?” Simone asked, her voice having grown quite somber since this third memory began to play out.

“A little. Normally I’d be incompatible with a completely human form which is why I haven’t played with one all that much in Virtual, but something about your mind is making me feel more comfortable with giving it a whirl.” Lucille said, spinning around as she said whirl. “Well… I take it we’re landing in Cape Nord then?”

“Non, actually…” Simone was about to explain before the PA Burst on.

“We have now arrived on Planet Zharus in the citystate of Aloha, if this is your stop please walk in an orderly fashion off the Spruce Goose. Everyone in the freezing tubes have been thawed, if you have been unfrozen take a few moments to get your bearings and your cargo. All passengers headed for Discordia on Planet Eris stay on the ship, this is Zharus, with Z, as in Zebra. The local time is 07:35, the local timescale is 30/6. 30 Hours a Day, Six Days a Week.” The voice on the PA Said. “We will be taking some time to refuel and let the corpsicles stretch, if you wish to get off and stretch your legs you’re free to do so. Remember, Zharusian law forbids any knick knacks made from Qubitite or Sarium from leaving the planet, this includes nanites, so if you fuse I can’t let you back on.”

“Le fuck? Fuse? Fuse with what?” Simone asked looking up confused as she cracked her back.

“Me you goit! Are you feeling okay?” Lucille asked, just as equally confused before thinking of a potential answer. “...Oh wait are you doing that thing where you re-enact the memory? Yeah they don’t have fusing on Earth, or much of anything from what I’m remembering of our family. Mom beautiful.”

“Oui oui..” Simone replied “I’m fine, all this shaking I’m doing is because that’s what I did back then. I wonder why I’m not the same sex I was back then…. wait… our family? Why did you say our family?”

“Not sure, of either of those things. Maybe it’s something subconscious. I’ll check when we get out of this mess… I mean… if I can… Do you think we’ll even exist anymore when this finishes? What if we die during this and a new being takes over that merely has the memories of us?” Lucille said shivering in place afraid for her continued existence. She saw many arguments against there being an afterlife in Simone’s head and for the most part agreed with them. It had been a part of why humans quested for transhumanism capabilities in the first place, back when they only had one planet. Even if Simone was wrong and there was a heaven, what chance does a machine have of going there?

“I don’t know, until this happened I thought Integrates were just a myth and I’m still not sure they aren’t, I could just be dreaming. Are you sure we can’t open our eyes Lucille?” Simone asked, opening her eyes as wide as she could. This was an old trick she used to use to escape nightmares back before she had a RIDE that could regulate her sleeping.

“Positive” Lucille said shaking in place, she still had no idea what was going to happen to her if she was a permanent part of Simone.

“Let’s continue…” Simone sighed before proceeding to do a few more stretches before finding a bag of her, his at the time, things including a precious 3D Image of the last time Simon, Pierre, and their mother were all together in their birth bodies. Simone was only twenty four back then, just a year away from adulthood. Happy, standing together as a family like they could actually stand to be around one another. “Lucille, I meant what I said. I AM going to bring them to Zharus and give them new bodies… Even if it kills me!”’

“...I just hope this doesn’t. I mean, are we even going to be us when this is finished? Are we? While you’re doing this I’ve been trying to calculate the probability, but without any data on paw for reference that’s very hard to do. I can’t even browse the net anymore!” Lucille said panicked, her worry had reminded Simone of the way Paul used to act all the time. Since becoming Paula and returning alive from the Aristo affair she hadn’t done that as much.

“I don’t know… But what choice do we have?” Simone asked as she stepped off the ship finding that no one else in the crowds of people whom she remembered specific details of had generic features all coming from the pool of features that she was most familiar with. The french, she thought it was odd at first, but didn’t really pick up on what was happening until she saw the same five frenchmen pass her by with slightly different facial expressions. “Louche.” she said to herself. French for the word creepy.

Once the duo was outside Simone found her legs freezing in place and unable to go further. This was because once she got to this point as Simon he stood and took it all in. The bright sunlight morning he had come to. The lights inside the ship weren’t the brightest and it had been around three years since those eyes of his/hers had seen ANYTHING. So naturally his bright blue eyes were blinded by the spectacle of light that was the morning sun over the outside of Aloha’s dome. “Merde…. That’s… gaaa… AAAAAAAAGh…”

“You’re one of the freezer fleshies aren’t you?” Asked someone with a Jovian accent.

“Yes… yes I am. Simon Bertrand, Neo-Paris, Earth. Yourself?” Simone asked though it took an extra long time for her to respond as this had been before she knew english and thus relied on her translator programmer embedded in her skull.

“George Maxwell, Shvaskkia, Jupiter. I’ve heard there’s a place out on Zharus where a man can be free to do as he likes and no one can tell him otherwise.” George smiled, he was a big strong man with a big strong handshake.

“Sounds like Heaven on Ear… Zharus. Not zat I believe in Heaven I mean….” Simone said nervously, she did not like to be mistaken with the religious types and pulled into some inane conversation about spirituality. “Sign me up.”

“Hey don’t sweat it. I don’t care about where you’re going after this life, just where you wanna go now. Tell ya what man. I need a roomie and you seem like a cool guy. I’ve put a deposit down a place in Cape Nord.” George offered smiling at Simon. “If half the things I’ve heard are true it’s just the place for bros like us.”

Simone considered this offer, she knew the Simon of the past said yes, but the Simon of the past also considered it for a long time. And for a good reason, seconds on a new planet and someone was already offering him housing at what for all he knew at the time was a utopia. The age old saying, if something was too good to be true it probably was. “What’s le catch?”

“Hey I know nothing about this place and neither do you. Honestly I’d rather figure it out with a cool looking guy instead of getting bitched at by some hotshot native who thinks that we’re idiots just cause we haven’t seen his neck of the universe yet. I mean shit, do you know how little about Zharusian culture they show to the outside world? Sides I like you man, you’ve got that wild and crazy accent.” George said, laughing as he guided Simon towards Aloha’s dome. “Come on let’s go find one of those RIDEs I’ve heard rumors about to get us to party central!”

Lucille walked out in between George and Simone, pausing the memory. “Hold it, hold it! This sketchy guy offered you a home on a strange new planet and you just rolled with it! Are you an idiot?”

“I was just unfrozen… my head is not how-you-say, in working order right now… right then? Besides he seemed friendly enough.” Simone shrugged trying to justify herself but she realized that there was no excuse to be made. “Okay look, the past was the past… mistakes were made and.. all I can do now is learn from them.”

“Fair enough.” Lucille nodded as the memory continued and Simone and George continued toward Aloha. ______________________________________________________________________________

The situation in Venars wasn’t getting much better, at least not for Paula Reverbek who was now fleeing in terror from the humans. Not for her sake, more for theirs. Paula knew she couldn’t attack the citizens of Venars without regretting it later, but they’d realized that the death toll would only get lower if they stopped fighting the robots and started doing what they wanted. “Go away, I’m not your enemy!”

“Yeah, but I’m missing an arm…” A one armed teenager said calmly looking at his bandaged stump, he’d have to have another one grown later. “So… sorry” he said while throwing a makeshift spear at Paula’s direction only for her to weave out of the way.

Lucypop was surveying the situation while using her technomancy to repair the Bomber Battlers who weren’t in too bad of shape. “Those idiots will never catch her at this rate. If the other Integrates in this town are ready this would expedite things..” she said to herself. “But it’ll take awhile to find them, they won’t have DINs.” She said running off with two battlers assisting her after seeing Paula take a shot to the back she was satisfied that this was taken care of. “You take care of that problem fellas. I’ve got shit to take care of.”

A man and a woman were pulling on Paula’s arms, sweat pouring down their face and in their eyes not bloodthirst but worry and concern. They were nothing more than scared little ants after someone had stepped in the anthill. “You should have kept your damn mouth shut about Aristo. You know what happens when you piss off the other poilsis! He’s the president of ACE and Supernova, don’t you remember what happened with Nextus and Sturmhaven!?!” The man screamed frantically. “Now defuse, if we kill you Aristo will let the rest of us live.”

“What what’s my incentive to defuse if you’re just going to kill me?” Paula asked horiffied.

“Don’t be selfish, you wanna be a hero right?” The woman asked, looking at Paula like she was a moron absolutely refusing to do the obvious despite all reason saying she should.

“You’re asking me to be a sacrifice myself for someone who is probably lying!” Paula objected, she flared up her weapons systems for a second and seriously considering firing them.

It could be your only option.:: Ruby warned trying to think hard about the duo’s options but so far coming up with nothing. ::But don’t use it Paula, just stay fused to me and I’ll keep you safe. Just stay fused to me.::

Paula closed her eyes and took a deep breathe, beginning to say a short prayer. “God… All I wanted from you was the chance to be a woman. Ever since you granted that wish through Simone’s kindness. Life has been hard for me. Dealing with Aristo and his madness has not been easy and it would never have happened if I had still been Paul as was your will…”

“What the hell?” Asked the man, but Paula still continued.

“So if this is indeed some punishment for not remaining that way you made me.. Then just kill me now. I’d rather be a woman in heaven, than a man on Ea…. Zharus.” Paula said with her head bowed. “I don’t like to argue, but, if you want to punish me. Then do it, I’m sorry if I’ve dissaponted you. In Jesus’ name I pray.. Amen.”

“She’s stalling.. quick someone find a crowbar we’ll pry that facemask up.” The woman roared. “Never could stand RIDEs. Damn monsters.”

“Don’t hurt Ruby.” Paula said raising her face mask. “You heard what I say… if it’ll make you happy…”

“Oh it will.” The man said, grinning like the man who had been standing in line all day for an expensive new toy. “We can take you out and save Venars!” He took a gat out from his pocket, a pistol modeled after a gun commonly seen in old action movies. This was a never fired piece he carried on a day to day basis solely for his protection. He never had to use it for most reasonable people just behave when they know everyone else is armed.

“Or you can put my son down right now!” Yelled a deer fuser holding a sawn-off shotgun, a modification that unlike on Earth, was legal in most places on Zharus. “You hurt a hair on her head and I swear to God… he said firing a warning shut off in the air”

The man and woman immediately put Paula down. It was the end of violence they were seeking and though they were rattled, they knew they could never convince a father to bury his own daughter. “Okay man… whatever you say.. but.. you know those robots…”

“We’ll deal with them. I didn’t leave Earth to let innocent civilians be bullied by aristocrats or Aristo cats as the case is. If I wanted the rich to bully the poor I’d have stayed there. God damn it, we’re the most technologically advanced planet in the entire Milky Way? So why the hell are we acting like god damn cavemen sacrificing each other.” Mr. Reverbek ranted angrilly at the town before walking up to his daughter to give her a hug. “Paula, did they hurt you? What about Ruby is she okay?”

“We’re fine dad.. just a little shaken up. Still I’m really glad you came when you did.” Paula said.

“Where’s Simone? We need to get this crowd some RIDEs before someone gets seriously hurt.” Mr. Reverbek said looking around weapons primed to see if any Bomber Battlers were around the corner. “I know she’s in this to make money, but… right now would be a good time for her to start taking rainchecks. I’m surprised she hasn’t started already, she’s normally the humanist type.”

“Hell no! Tails and ears!?! We can get through this without giving up our humanity!” Cried a member of the crowd.

“You were prepared to sacrifice my daughter! That’s far less human than growing a tail!” Mr. Reverbek yelled at the person who said that.

“....She’s in a coma..” Paula said looking down no longer worried for her own sake now that her dad was here. “I was out distracting the robots so they wouldn’t try attacking her while she was out…”

“God…. I’m sorry to hear that. Do they know what’s wrong with her?”

“They think someone tried to cross her and her body’s rejecting it.” Paula explained. “Though we could go see if she’s awake so we can ask her if we can loan RIDEs out too…”

“Hey uhh… look if we’re not going to kill you… I think those RIDEs are starting to look like a good idea.” Said the man who had been pulling Paula’s arm before. Only now he sounded horrified as though the ghost of John Wayne Gacey had come from Earth and his face was a pale as a man who had seen death’s face.

“But Simone needs to sell those we really should ask her permis….” The man simply pointed behind Paula and her father interupting her from talking. “...Oh.. right I forgot about them.”

The Bomber Battlers had zoomed in and began marking their targets. “Venars Citizens you are protecting Paula Reverbek?” They said. There was silence for a few seconds before they said. “if you protect her, you will share her fate.”

“Ehh….” Paula ached getting all panicky.

“Run to the Wrench and activate all the RIDEs’ weapon systems, take everyone with you.” Mr. Reverbek decried firing upon the Bombers instantly with his trusty buck literally covering his whole body. ::Claude, we might not survive this.::

“But father!” Paula called back, throwing off his aim a little with a sudden hug. Luckily it didn’t hit anything too important, just the bulletproof window of a shoe store. “They’ll hurt you!”

“They’ll probably do worse than that! Now get out of here! Do you want this place to end up like back home.. On Earth? Aristo will make it like that if we don’t stand up for ourselves. NOW GO!” Mr. Reverbek raised his voice at his daughter as he turned on Claude’s weapons systems

“Right… everyone.. To Le Wrench of Paris!” Paula yell whispered to the crowd behind her so the robots would not hear her.

It’s been an honor to protect and serve the Reverbek Clan:: Claude, the RIDE that Paula’s father had chosen to make his partner had said as he adjusted his operator’s battle pose. ::Still, we haven’t had time to have a good talk with Paula and Ruby since their partnering. Let’s try to survive this.:: He added as he fired off a few rounds from his shoulder mounted gatling gun. ::For her sake.::

“Yeah…” Mr. Reverbek said as he smacked a Battler with the butt of his sawnoff shotgun. “For her sake.” ______________________________________________________________________________

Back at Le Wrench Of Paris Paula had begun to do as her father had asked and was turning on a few of the RIDEs to help protect the garage. “This may actually be good marketing for us…” Paula said, tried to take her mind off of the gravity of the situation. Once she had managed to get a good number of them online she returned to the main room of the garage where people explored curiously or sat down and tried to reassure themselves this would be over soon or in some cases this was all a dream. There were a good number of mothers and fathers who were playing Augmented Reality games with their children trying to keep them distracted from the dangers plaguing them. So far there were more injured than killed, but they were wondering how long it would stay that way.

“Alright guys, the owner is in a coma and if anyone’s a doctor I’d like them to assist the doctor already here in getting her awake again. Also I have managed to get seven of the RIDEs online, three males, four females. Now I know we’re all safe in here, but the people outside aren’t…” Paula said, her voice was shaky and nervous, she wasn’t the leader type, she had no idea what she was doing. Honestly the poor girl was winging it, no pun intended, with Ruby whispering small tidbits in her ear. Stock words of encouragement to keep her strong with some clips of action cartoons to keep her confident. “I was wondering if anyone wanted to volunteer to go out and find survivors in the city-state?” Paula asked looking around the crowd, but no one seemed willing to do anything.

“I’m sure the Marshalls are already on this, and the Venars Army is uhh… well they’re fighting the good fight.” Said the one armed man, though he looked paniced as he watched out the front window and rubbed his stump. “They’re fighting the good fight… and they’ll win, because Venars is the best… it’s always been the best.’

He sounds a lot like you.:: Ruby commented as Paula nodded in agreement, remembering to do so in virtual to keep 100% of this conversation to her and her RIDE. ::Before you stood up to Aristo.::

Paula and Ruby walked over to the one-armed man and smiled at him as she rubbed against the shoulder that still had an arm attached. “What’s your name?”

“Paul…” Paul said, looking back at Paula and Ruby. “Kind of a funny concidence. Same one that lost me my arm. One of the bots saw my name and thought I was a cross-version of you.”

“I’m sorry to hear that, you must hate me.” Paula said sighing, looking down at her arms. “Back where I’m from you’d have to get a metal replacement…”

“Well we aren’t on Earth, so I’ll get a flesh one eventually.” Paul said, timidly watching and waiting for any sign of the Bomber Battlers. “Maybe when the Venars Army takes care of Aristo’s goons.

“I’m glad we aren’t on Earth, I’m already a Cross-version of myself.” Paula said recalling her Earth memories, bringing them on herself slowly, not wanting the pain to flood back in. “Back on Earth they don’t exactly appreciate it when people try to exit their birth sex. They never really have, not even if they really need to. People have killed themselves over this.”

“I heard it was like that way back in the day… I didn’t know that was still the case.” Paul said, still primarily focused on the window. Nothing was out there, but it could be relatively soon. “Why are you telling me this?”

“....Because I grew up with the same problem. Only my planet was horrible, nightmaresh, polluted, and no one was allowed the freedom that your planet so enjoys.” Paula said with a serious look on her fuser’s face. The girl was fighting back a tear, she knew that if she cried now she’d lose the whole crowd who would never see her as any kind of leader after that. “But we were assured, that we weren’t like Zharus which had horror stories about it told to us to dissaude people from going. That the Unified Earth Government would take care of us, but really all they wanted to do was watch us and enslave us. They were completely powerless to help us. Making us do their bidding. Well Venars and Aristo are like that. Aristo is the part that wants to enslave us all. My dad is out there somewhere and he needs you. This town needs you not to be afraid Paul, you need you not to be afraid.”

Paul looked up at Paula and into her eyes for a brief few seconds before turning to the RIDEs. “You said three were male?”

“That I did.” Paula said calling the Coyote Male, simply named Coyote, over with a hand gesture. “This one’s been aching to get in the fray for a while now.”

“...Give me a female.” Paul declared as he stood up, many people looked at him in shock. Not the RIDEs though, the RIDEs accepted that human gender was a very alterable thing and never batted an eye at it. For all a RIDE cared, humans were always that easily editable.

“Aww, how disappointing.” Coyote said with a massive grin, sighing as he returned to the group. “He seemed like such a nice playmate.”

“I’ve been selfish enough, especially when I tried to chuck that spear at you. Male RIDEs are rare… I shouldn’t hog them when other people probably have actual reasons for not crossing.” Paul said, petting one of the females. A hen waiting patiently in walker form for someone to claim her. The hen, humorously named Scootaloo as a part of some joke that Ruby’s Paula didn’t quite get, enjoyed this as she rubbed into the pets. “With how cowardly I’ve been, I deserve to be bonded to a chicken.”

“I have no complaints, chickens aren’t popular RIDEs. I was beginning to think I’d rust to dust in here. Buccaww!” Scootaloo said before walking up to Paul and hugging him. “Ms. Reverbek tells me it’s dangerous outside…. I may be chicken, but I’m not afraid if you aren’t.”

Paul returned the hug as best he could with only one arm. “I won’t be, not anymore….” he said as he looked up to face the room. “We’ve all been pretty selfish lately, damn it we’ve betrayed Venars itself because Aristo shook us up. Well I say it’s time we all stopped being boneheads about this and keep that cybernetic shithead from destroying our Polis! Scootaloo, cross me!”

Scootaloo opened a door on her chest compartment and Paul climbed right in and once he did so Scootaloo’s shape became more humanoid and even showed human like breasts which Paul couldn’t help but rub over with his, now her talon like hands. “My this is.. new.. and I have an arm again… Someone remind me why aren’t we a RIDEr community again!?! This feels incredible.. I mean.. I’m still changing around and my flesh arm isn’t really grown back yet but. So far this is actually kind of nice. Go ahead, no one be afraid. I mean the rush of memories is… a little tingly.. and honestly it’s making focusing on my words a little difficult but… mmmm.. a massage chair can’t make you this relaxed and rejuvenated. My.. my whole body is.. is… ooooh….”

The onlookers had mixed reactions, many of them seemed squeamish. Much like in parts of Nextus a few people thought that fusing with RIDEs just wasn’t natural. Though still a good number of them were swayed by Paul’s favorable reaction. “I’ll take that Antelope!” Spoke up one woman. “Assuming she’s female.”

“That she is, her name is Cantaloupe, Cantaloupe the Antelope, Other Paula, Scootaloo. I’m gonna go get some more RIDEs online… Can you sort out who gets what while I get some more online. And don’t worry, just ask them what sex they are. They’re honest. Except for that Coyote, just remember he is male… That one will play with his voice box to trick people. But he can only fuse if you ask him too.” Paula said as she began to head towards the section where the RIDEs were kept.

“Pauline…” Paul said calling after Paula. “Call me Pauline, that way no one gets us confused.”

“Alright Pauline.” Paula smiled, this situation seemed like it was getting better by the second. Still the smile didn’t last long when she remembered that her father was still out there. “Once we have a large enough group we need to leave immediately. That was my dad who saved us back there.”

“Of course.” Pauline nodded Scootaloo's head in agreement. “If it were my dad out there I’d have gone hunting for him the second I grew a beak.” She added rubbing her new facial feature. “...Am.. am I really a woman right now?”

“Yes.” Paula said nothing else, she had no time for chit-chat for she had to get back to work. ______________________________________________________________________________

Lucille had watched several weeks of Simone’s life go by, luckily time compression allowed for years to pass inside virtual while minutes pass in the real world otherwise taking in all this information, most of it boring, would take forever. Still Lucille didn’t learn too much of interest. Just that Le Wrench Of Paris was not Simone’s first garage. No that honor goes to “Nord By Nordwest”, George had insisted on it. Feeling the name’s lame pun said a lot of about Zharus in general and that it was patriotic to include it in the garage’s name. It was a sleazy looking dive, poorly cleaned and with giant neon lighting. A Big Blue Male Symbol with the words “Nord By Nordwest” in the middle in red lighting. Simon himself was not a fan, and preferred something more big, fashionable, dignified, refined, but George continued to ensure him that such additions were “stupid”, “womanly shit”, and “For fags.”

The first time Simon had heard that his decorative ideas were “for fags” as George put it it had confused him as he had not been familiar with the version of this term as it was used on George’s homeworld and proceeded to reply to him with. “I enjoy a smoke as much as any other frenchman, but explain to me how this design encourages tobacco in anyway.”

The two had been left equally confused but eventually they got it figured out. Eventually they compromised with Simon being able to put French Decor inside the work area, elegant statues and replicas of famous french landmarks, and Cape Nord’s masculine simplicity in the waiting room. Neon beer signs, pictures of hot women hanging on the walls, things of that nature.

Lucille was falling asleep so she walked up to Simone as she working with Houndour, a bloodhound RIDE that had been painted to look like the pokemon Houndoom. Simone had owned him at the time though the paint was done improperly by his previous owner and so he had to be repaired before Simone could properly fuse with him. “This is all really boring… though it all does make up for a huge HUGE chunk of the incompatibility. I could probably get us partially up and running now, but… why would you block all this off from me? It’s just an honest living. Sure I can’t approve of this place or the company you keep….” Lucille glared at George as he did nothing to aid Simone, merely playing with some woman’s breasts who looked quite aggravated but since sexual harassment laws were practically non-existent she had to put up with it. “I haven’t seen anything traumatic.”

“...Boot us up then… I’ll keep the memory playing on autopilot. By the time we’re fully synchronized, you’ll understand why I left Cape Nord.” Simone said with a sigh.

“Okay, but just a warning… we might be a little off until the memory is finished. That okay?” Lucille asked as the black haired girl who was really a skunk skimmed through options on a virtual menu that materialized in front of her.

“Please. I tired of Cape Nord anyway. I lived this life once, one and a half has been too much.” Simone said with a heavy voice. “Put me in control if you can… I want to explain to Paula what’s happened.”

“Well.. let’s.. get Integrated…” Simone said looking over the virtual representation of the red ranger morpher that Shyver had given her. After pushing a few buttons on it, she struck a pose. “We need Integrated Skunkette power now!” ______________________________________________________________________________

“SKUNKETTE POWER NOW!” Simone said suddenly sitting up in her bed before realizing two things she was in her garage with a doctor looking her overand a dog licking her in the face. The second thing was that she didn’t have any breasts. “Le fuck… What is going? Lucille, why am I flat chested? Lucille?”

The doctor gasped. “Oh good! You’re awake. I was beginning to think I came to Venars just to get caught up in this madness.”

“Madness?” Simone asked, rubbing her neck. “Why does ma voice sound… okay that’s an adam’s apple… Doctor… did you cross me?”

“No sir… ma’am… which would you like me to call you?” The doctor asked uncertain

“I don’t care… I’d rather be a woman, but strangely, I don’t mind this… call me whatever…” Simone, or rather Simon said checking inside his pants. Yup, definitely male, no question about it. Last time women had wedding tackle like this people still played video games with their thumbs. “....Lucille… Where is she… I know she’s around.. It’s like… I don’t know, but it’s like part of me can feel she’s here somewhere…. I know how silly that sounds. But it’s like… she’s in this room somewhere, but I can’t tell where?”

“Mr. Bertrand you’re a little delirious from the fall, and since your friend says you’ve only been female for around six months… turning back into a man should have left you in a worse condition.” The doctor said shaking his head. “I’ve never seen anything like this though… according to my friend here… You still don’t have a heartbeat.”

“…..Is he defective?” Simon asked, for obvious reasons starting with the fact that he was alive knew that couldn’t be true. “If my heart was not beating I could not be standing here having zis argument? I would worm chow, do I look like a zombie to you?”

“I’m just telling you what my machine says miss...ter…” The doctor said, still struggling with pronouns. Crossing just wasn’t as common in places without RIDEs than with them. You still had crossing because some were just curious about the other sex or like Paula “Paul” Reverbek had been born with a predisposition towards joining the opposite persuasion.

“Your machine? Your machine? Oh you remind me of my previous operator.” Simon said with a strong taste of disgust in his voice which seemed somewhat more feminine than it should have been. “Wait… no… I never had an operator.. I’m human..” He said catching his own odd choice of words. “I am human right?”

“...Bertrand, maybe you’d like to take a seat.. you must be confused from some dream you had while you were out. Can I get you anything?”

“Now zat you mention it, I’m famished…” Simon said rubbing his belly and licking the roof of his lips as he got up to use the fabber. “I’ll get it myself.” Simon said putting a finger on her fabber’s voice control button. “Three cups of Chocolate Ramen, two Soder Colas, five roastbeef sandwiches, a pretzel bun chilidog, and a pairfat.”

“Chocolate Ramen? .....Can you even eat all of that!?!?!” The doctor asked as Simon sat down and began to devastate the food before him, already getting up for seconds before he answered the doctor.

“Oui oui, but it’s not enough… I feel like I need something else… somezing I cannot quite put ma… mon finger on… Just something and I crave it badly… I need it more zan I need zis food.. and I need zis food.” Simon said finishing his tenth cup of chocolate ramen. “...It all tastes of merde and mediocrity. Fabbers should never be used for food… especially since I now crave italian and you know fabbers are terrible for zat. Order me six pizzas with everything on zem, a seventh with bacon and olives for Paula. Oh and… let me check my wallet, you should have some pizza as well doctor, maybe I can get insurance to cover it. La Venars health plan, she is very good to business owners.”

“I doubt a pizzeria would be open right now Bertrand… What with Aristo’s attack on the polis.” The doctor bit his tongue, he knew better than to put pressure on a recently awakened coma patient, but he was afraid and too uncreative to come up with a convincing lie.

“COME AGAIN!?!?!” Simon asked, his eyes growing big and wide. “....I really… really can’t sit down in this fucking garage without hearing about him doing something foolish! Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Well Paula has the situation handled….” The doctor tried to speak up. “She’s in your hangar prepping RIDEs to go after his forces.”

“Oh wonderful a woman prone to random panic attacks is in charge of the le safety of millions….” Simon stared straight at the doctor in horror. “Reminded myself of Aristo for a second… excuse me I need to fix zis.” He said getting up and headed towards the hanger of the garage and finding Paula working to get the RIDEs up and running just as the doctors said. “PAULA You can stop panicking….. I’m awa… Paula?” To Simon’s surprise, Paula was focused, on task, and had great composure. “Why are you not panicking? You have heard Aristo is taking over la citystate… Unless zat doctor is trying to play a fast one on me… for whatever reason…”

“He isn’t, the people in the lobby are getting restless though. We should really get some food out there for them. I gave them Scootaloo, Coyote, Esmeralda, Asimov, Verne, ChuckleFrak, and ShoopDe and said I’d be back with more. Scootaloo and Pauline are sorting out who goes to who…” Paula explained. “I don’t have long to talk, it looks really bad out there.”

Simon thought for a second, which question to focus on first. What did Aristo want? Had Paula seen Lucille anywhere? Was she going to get reimbursed for these RIDEs? Where in the worlds WAS Carmen San Diego? “ChuckleFrak and ShoopDe? I don’t have two RIDEs by zat name…. Oh what you meant ShitDick and ChuckleFu….”

“Yeah, ShoopDe and ChuckleFrak…” Paula responded working hard on what appeared to be a robotic ram. “Who named those two?”

“Some moron with no sense of maturity.” Simon shrugged. “I’m gonna go see how things are in the lobby we can talk about what’s happening during.” He said before thinking something and directing his thought to Paula. Paula didn’t seem to respond though. “If only she was this focused all the time. Aristo should attack more often, especially if it’s zis good for business.”

In the lobby all of the RIDEs had been paired up, outside of Pauline there were no additional cross-overs. A few people here were from Simon’s crossover party just a mere five months ago and were now staring at him, wondering if this was supposed to be a close relative of hers. “Well I know she has a brother, Peter or something.” Coyote’s Rider said, whispering it into the fused ear of the bear known as Verne who was currently fused to a man who was vacationing from Laurasia.

“Pierre actually, but I’m not him… I don’t know what happened. My best friend is missing, I have a bunch of people in my garage not paying for anything, and my landlord is overreacting about the rent. If you seven are ready to go, I’ll lead you out there.” Simone stated priming a plasma gun that was somewhat wand shaped, a multi-purpose energy baton advertised as the Kitten Tamer Baton for the Non-RIDEr who wants to stand a chance against the RIDE community should they become dangerous. Good for preventing any unwanted genderjacking from rogue RIDEs. “We need to find some food and medical supplies too for the people in here.”

“Al… alright, but if you’re going. Whose watching over us?” Asked a woman in the small, but very noisy and unfocused crowd. “We’re sitting ducks here…”

“They’ll be after the people fighting them, more than the cowering people taking shelter. You’re all adults. Just keep acting like it.” Simon said, in reality his mind had a huge focus on finding out what it was he needed that he didn’t have. The most logical thing he could think of was Lucille, a dear and treasured friend who felt so good just to have around. Lucille was someone Simon was completely honored to have as a partner. He felt a much stronger bond to Lucille than usual, he felt that Lucille was literally his other half and together they made a perfect whole. It was strange Simon had never felt THIS good about his relationship with Lucille, but now it was amazing the way he felt about her. Lucille HAD to be what was missing and so he didn’t care if he had to abandon his garage for now, he needed to scratch the itch and find her asap. Simon thought her intentions over to Paula, but oddly enough she didn’t respond. Odd, she must have been REALLY focused. Simon wondered what drove Paula to work this hard, but, he wasn’t going to waste precious time that could be used looking for Lucille for another moment. “I’m ready if you are all ready! And if you aren’t, well catch up!” Simon said immediately marching out.

“What was that about?” Pauline asked scratching Scootaloo’s forehead. “Uhh.. should I help her or talk to Paula.”

“Paula isn’t in any danger.” Esmerelda’s RIDEr replied sounding worried. “I think we should get a move on regardless… we weren’t given these to stand around afterall, besides. I think our new friends are going to be a little peeved if we let the person whose garage they live in get blown up.”

Venars was a big place and the city section was hard to maneuver through. So many paths both upper and lower in addition to North, West, East, and South. So Simon had already gotten a head start. Yelling and calling out for Lucille. “LUCILLE! LUCILLE! Darling, it’s me Simone, why did you run away?” he said but no answer, he tried sending his thoughts to Lucille’s frequency but all that accomplished was him receiving the very message he sent. ::Lucille! Where are you? We were seperated somehow, please talk to me asap.:: Simon blinked twice when that happened. “Okay that was weird.” He commented to himself.

The frenchman had gone a while without seeing anyone, not a RIDE, Bomber, or a human. It had reminded him greatly of many of the abandoned cities on Earth, but these were not as ruinous as the cities back there. Though the blasts looked much fresher. The Battlers had been through here already. This was too quiet for his taste so he readied the Kitty Tamer. Pointing it in different directions looking carefully for any sign of movement. “Aristo… you are here aren’t you? What the hell do you want?” He said to himself. “Lucille! Where are you? Aristo! If you can hear me WHERE IS LUCILLE!?! What did you do to her?”

No answer, eventually something caught his eye. The window of a dress store with a beautiful red tanktop with the smallest straps and the daisy dukes that went with it was that new fangled one that’s designed to exaggerated the roundness of the wearer’s rear. “Ooooh now that is for me!” he said, looking over the dress, imagining how he would look in it as an anthro skunkette. “Oooh la la, maybe I could snag this while no one’s looking. I’m sure Simone wouldn’t mind too much.” He said practically watering at the mouth and prepping his Kitty Tamer to shoot a blast at the window, however just as he was about to fire he noticed his normal blue eyes being strangely replaced with red skunkish eyes full of feminine charm and wonder in the window’s reflection. “GAAaaah… What la hell?” Simon cried out, and then again when he noticed someone in his peripheral vision. “I wasn’t checking out le outfit… looting is wrong!” he said taken by surprise, by what looked like a cold dead stare. It got worse when he actually turned and noticed it wasn’t one person, but four battle bombers. “Aristo’s robots! From the schematic Paula saw… Can you talk? If so. WHERE IS MY LUCILLE!!!?!”

“Lucille is present at your location.” The Bomber answered. “I have been instructed to take Designation:Simone-Lucille, IE: you to Lucypop to continue the take over. Come with me.”

“How is Lucille at my present location?” Simon asked looking around himself. “Who is zis Lucypop you speak off?”

“Error Amontillado-I not detected in Designation Simone-Lucille” The machine spoke focusing its weapons on Simone. “Awaiting emergency instructions from Lucypop. Requested awaiting response.”

“I’m guessing that’s not good news for me.” Simon declared, blasting the bomber with an energy beam from her baton. Not as powerful as striking someone with it, but it did the job, putting a giant hole in the machine which fell over destroyed. “I just hope that wasn’t one of those, tell everyone when you die machines….” The mechanic regretted that as various other Battlers came in from the direction that the one he destroyed came from.

“Simone-Lucille is beyond containing. Maim and take to Aristo!” One of them declared as it got within ear range of the poor outnumbered now-tagless human. “Unless she wishes to surrender.”

“Well… I…” Simon said swallowing, looking for a quick escape. Thinking towards Paula for help, but didn’t really sense a connection.

“You have 10 seconds to comply.” Warned the lead machine. “Or you will be cut down into an easier to transport unit.”

“What does Aristo want with me? And why are you calling me Simone-Lucille?” Simon asked, visibly sweating as he looked around once more for some way out of this situation.

“7, 6, 5, 4…” The Battlers counted down.

“I surren…. der…” Simon was in the middle of saying until Paula and Ruby showed up from the sky with the seven RIDEr Duos following her along with a male squirrel RIDE. “Paula…..” he said with a mix of joy, and anger that so far she had not returned any of his thoughts he had sent.

Ruby blasted away a few of the battlers near the front and the seven RIDErs went for the big army. Luckily it seemed the RIDEs were superior to the Battlers who had inferior armor and weaponry. Clearly made only to win by numbers than anything else. Though the bombs they deployed were devastating, unlike the RIDErs they had no attacks safe to deploy short range without hurting themselves. This gave the RIDErs a huge advantage, especially with more on the way. Not to mention the people who were given RIDEs by Paula were here or known to be coming. There was still the surprise of the RIDErs who had been so before the attack showing up once they heard the explosions. Paula however did not notice her father in a quick scan and proceeded to land near Simon once she got the chance.

“What the heck were you thinking?!?!” Paula snapped at Simon. “Going out here without telling me anything!?! I can’t believe I’m snapping at you for this, it should be you snapping at me!”

“What?!?! I sent you EVERY WORD of what I was doing. I’m out here looking for Lucille and I don’t want to wear a RIDE because I don’t know how that will affect my ability to fuse with her and I don’t want to take chances!” Simon snapped bitterly. “You were the one who didn’t respond!”

“There’s something wrong with your implant and nanites, I can’t make ANY form of connection to you, so I doubt you can make one to me. I meant to tell you this but you ran outside without taking this guy.” Paula fussed, motioning to the single unpaired male squirrel RIDE. Hadn’t yet been named, but very high end and very expensive. As such he stayed in the garage a very long time. “You need defense out here!” She argued before flying away to rejoin the fight. “Join the fight when you fuse, please.. My dad’s out here. I have just as much stake as you do.”

“Well… I guess if it’s going to be this dangerous… I would have been dust on le sidewalk had you not shown.” Simon answered, looking to the squirrel with a sigh. “Lucille will appreciate me being alive, more than being able to fuse with her… Fuse with me.”

The squirrel walked up to Simon, eying him strangely. “I can’t… Not enough organic material.”

“What?!?! I’ve never had any cyber in me, what do you mean not enough organic material!” Simon argued. “I.. look I’m all flesh, see!”

“Mister, I’m only telling you what my sensors say, you’re too mechanical for us to fuse. I wonder if I’m broken though, I can’t get an accurate read on your gender either.” The unnamed squirrel admitted.

“Nonsense! I did your maintenance myself!” Simon yelled at the squirrel. “If zis is some jest…… Hold zat thought...” He said, distracted from Paula and Ruby taking a sudden fall. It was strange, she didn’t seem to be hit, if anything she just stopped moving entirely except for her screaming as she plummeted downward. “...Oh my… Catch Paula!”

Rushing to Paula’s rescue the squirrel went skimmer and drove forward to catch her as Simon ran towards where she was falling to see if she was alright. “Paula… what happened?!?!” Simon panicked in worry, though relieved that she did land on the squirrel. Before Paula could answer though Simon noticed that Ruby’s eyes seemed scared of something behind him. Upon turning around he noticed a cheapshot heading towards them. “Paula, get out of the way!” he yelled, pushing the squirrel skimmer away from the blast area and becoming surprised he was actually strong enough to do so. Though Simon did not have time to dodge himself as he took a bomb in the back, knocking him into a building at the end of the road.

Paula, it seems that hack wore off…We can move now… I just wish Simon didn’t have to take the hit….:: Ruby sent alerting Paula to their ability to run away. Other hacks were happening, it seemed no RIDE could function properly if it was too close to the battlefield. No one’s was moving at all except for Ruby who had been pushed out of the radius.

“No… No… He couldn’t have! There isn’t even any blood.” Paula declared, immediately flying into the broken window Simon was knocked into. Only to find a strange young woman with long black hair face down on a couch where Simon would have landed. “...Simon?”

“Oooooh, hey, a recharging couch! That’s what I needed!” Declared the woman who got up and began facing Paula with her back on the couch. “I guess I didn’t start us up right.. heh… Hey Paula, look I’m human now. Neat huh?”

“Simon…. are… are you Simon?” Paula asked, startled. There was no sign of Simon anyhwere and this woman was found exactly where he should have landed. “Where did you come from…. and… what’s with your eyes? They look like the eyes of a skunk I know.. You sound like her actually.”

“Oh Paula. Yes I’m Simon, I’m Lucille too. More Lucille right now.” The woman who identified herself as Lucille smiled. “Simone just didn’t remember us Integrating, like I said I probably booted us up wrong. Once I run some more maintenance I’ll put her back in charge. I mean it’s still me, I’ll just be more like her. It’s not easy to explain.”

“Integrating…” Paula swallowed. “You mean… you’re an…. you… Lucille wasn’t missing she was… you.. I.. but, no that can’t be.… This is a joke isn’t it? I mean, there’s no way you’re… Integrates don’t even exist! I mean… I thought they did, but, there’s I mean.. You Simone… here… with...”

“You’re taking this better than I thought you would.” Lucille said with a giggle. “I crave apples… do you have any apples? For me to digest, with my stomach. Cause I have one!”

“No, not really…” Paula said still unable to fully recognize this as reality. Her employer got blasted through a furniture sure and announced he, she, whichever, was an urban legend! “Wha… what’s it like?”

“Ya know, it feels kind of nice. It’s an amazing feel to be able to share yourself so fully with someone you truly care about.” Lucille laughed, oooohing and aaahing as energy from the recharging coach soaked into her sarium batteries. “I’m really looking forward to being able to play human! And best of all, I don’t have to let my operator out. Couldn’t if I wanted too. Which is fantastic! Be know as much as anyone how much we RIDEs love to be worn. Now I don’t have to feel empty again and I get to be Simone, not just be with her, actually be her. I mean at first it was scary but...”

“Well uhh… I see, can you help figure out what’s going on Lucille? You’re a RIDE, maybe you can tell us how to fight the hack affecting the others… They don’t seem to be shooting at anyone else, but, probably so they can take more hostages to get at me….” Paula said frantic, interupting Lucille’s manic overload as she looked back at the Battlers who seemed to look triumphant now as opposed to on their guard.

“Paula! Surrender your life or I’ll kill all fourteen of these losers!” Spoke what appeared to be Sheila's fuser, one of the two girls Paula had met on her last day as Paul. Except she seemed different somehow, her voice was distorted and she seemed to be glowing with strange glowing tron lines glowing blood red. “Trust me I’ll do it you pathetic little worm. I remember how you ran off just because you and I were separate genders. Yeah, I heard about that from your mother. I bet you are too cowardly to even show yourself.”

“What?!?!” Paula said in shock. “Sheila, what… why are you siding with Aristo?!?!”

“Because he made me perfect!” Sheila screamed angrily. “He gifted me the supremacy that comes with being an Integration of Human and RIDE! And by the way, my name is Jaelia now.”

“What’s she saying!?!?!” Pauline asked in confusion. “Integrates… exist?”

“WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! How fun.” Coyote said nonchalantly as though the idea actually did seem like it was somehow amusing.

“I never thought…. Aristo was capable of getting one of those monsters on his side…” Esemerlda’s RIDEr stated in shock. “No… it can’t be. This is a trick.”

The fourteen kept loudly debating, the being claiming to be an Integrate. Almost as if they seemed more concerned with proving or disproving Jaelia’s claim than their own lives.

“Okay.. let’s see what I’m made of.” Lucille smiled getting up with a quick yawn. “I don’t know what I’m doing, but, I can figure it out I think.”

“Are you sure?” Paula asked, watching as Lucille stretched for a bit. “I mean… she’s clearly stronger than you.”

“Maybe, maybe not.” Lucille said, brushing Paula aside. “Trust me, Simone would want this. If she were in charge she’d do the same thing.”

“She would actually….” Paula nodded pondering if Simone was still around in Lucille’s body somewhere or if Lucille just became human this way. Lucille said something about it taking control, but that could have meant anything. “Alright, but if you can make it so I can get close, let me know.”

“Paula…” Lucille’s voice became far closer to Simone’s and her eyes turned the more human blue. “Trust me. This is what I want, to protect my home. We aren’t fully Integrated yet, but. Please don’t be concerned for me. It feels good and it will feel better once it finishes. I know you’re afraid, I know you have doubts about me. But please, Lucille isn’t going to do anything I wouldn’t want her to do. We’re connected like zat.”

“But you’ll be back right? I mean Lucille’s a good friend, but I don’t want to lose you just so she can have her thumbs.” Paula hugged, worried for losing her friend.

Simone’s eyes returned to the more mechanical and animal like red eyes shone instead with Lucille’s voice returned. “She’s busy trying to complete our Integration, but trust me.” the human RIDE smiled, putting her hand on Paula’s shoulder. “You will see her again, really soon. We aren’t hurt, we aren’t upset, we aren’t trying to separate. And I’d like to prove this, but it’ll have to wait, if I delay much longer someone might get hurt.”

“Ok…. but we’ll need to have a talk about this once we’re out of this mess Lucille, I mean… how are you going to live now? What do I call you two?” Paula was frantic, so in woe and worry that she for a second had actually forgotten about saving her father.

“Just call me whatever you want to call me, Lucille, Simone. It’s accurate either way.” Lucille smiled, heading out of the store and heading towards Jaelia. “JAELIA! You are way too good in bed to be working for Aristo. No you can’t have Paula, but I’m just as good. My human half leaked that footage and me, Lucille The Skunk, I was the one who sent it to every major news network. I’m more to blame than she is. Let her go and fight me instead!”

Jaelia mulled this over for a second before nodding. “You have a point Lucille. Besides, I’d love to fight another Intie, that sounds like wicked fun!” she grinned, unfreezing the RIDEs and beckoning Lucille to her. “Come with me to the top of one of these buildings…. If you win I’ll let Paula and you go, and retreat for now. If you lose I get to kill everyone here. How’s that sound?”

“You’re treating this like a game Jaelia, this is real life. People don’t respawn and there’s no Kill-To-Death Ratio for the announcer to congratulate you on. You don’t want to kill anyone.” Lucille argued. “Please trust me, you don’t. I was a killer once… when I was Aristo’s partner, you don’t want to know what that feels like. And you don’t want to know what it’s like to have your thoughts sync with his.”

“You’re stalling!” Jaelia declared flying upward to the roof of a nearby building.

“Okay, fine, but I won’t go easy on you!” Lucille cried, trying to fly the same way she did as a RIDE. Activating her lifters and seeing what happened, fortunately that worked. “Wow… this must be how Paula and Ruby feel when they fly around… I mean, I’ve been a skimmer before, but this is different.”

“Aww that much a n00b?” Jaelia sighed. “Oh well… Intie fights an Intie fight.” she said as Lucille awkwardly rose up to meet her on top of the building chosen as their arena.

“Jaelia…. why?” Lucille asked, gripping the Kitty Tamer hard. “You were so shy and you got on nicely with Simone. What would Fiona and Oshawott say?”

“She’s my backup, Fioshawott.” Jaelia informed, having shoulder mounted gatling guns and two palm blasters with high powered missiles and what looked like mini-hardlight generators. “Two of us would be overkill. The sex was great, but it won’t save you.”

Lucille smiled and activated the Kitty Tamer, forming a whip with a green laser blade through the baton. Though the baton didn’t have this power normally, Lucille had a hardlight generator and much better control over it as she channeled it through her weapon. Being pleasure support armor, Lucille was programmed on how to use a whip well so it seemed like the best option. “I don’t want to do this.”

“Allow me!” Jaelia cried out firing two missiles out of her palms, Lucille ducked under this and stuck her tongue out only to find them turning around as they were heat seekers.

“Oh, I see….Heh… Clever girl” Lucille chucked nervously, beginning to have second thoughts as she realized barely knew how to use many of her functions in this state. Though the whip cut them in half just fine thanks to quick thinking. “How did you turn on your weapons like that? I can’t do much of anything.”

“It’s easier when you have a DIN. Why aren’t you using yours?” Jaelia asked while forming a handheld shield out of hardlight and charged at Lucille. Hitting her in the stomach with the shield after several futile attempts from Lucille at breaking the shield with the whip.

“Oooof…” Lucille recoiled and dropped her baton, which Jaelia immediately fired a repulsor towards to knock it off the building. “Hey that’s cheating!”

“This is sad. Didn’t Lucypop give you your DIN?” Jaelia asked. The shiny new Integrate was thinking this was going to be even easier than she thought.

“Never met her…. Only thing I’ve gotten today is a bracelet from Shyver.” Lucille said hoping that Jaelia would have a spare DIN, whatever that was, to give to her. “Looks like a Ranger Morpher… err rather, Simone was given the bracelet. Odd it feels like I was given that… But no that was definitely Simone. Weird.”

“Shyver?” Jaelia asked. “He’s the one who gave us the 817 models! Handmade by Aristo to make humans Integrate into the next stage of our evolution, and a free program to help clear your thoughts. I hated Aristo before I used that program, maybe you should activate yours before I hurt you.”

“I don’t have anything like that, I mean, I did. But it triggered a program in the morpher and erased itself.” Lucille explained looking at it closely. “Do you know anything about that?”

“No….. Not really.” Jaelia answered, throwing her hardlight shield and evaporated it after smacking Lucille in the face. “And we’re still fighting.”

“Mmm?” Lucille pondered after rubbing her nose which bled a little, okay a lot. “I think I know what’s going on here.” She said, taking off her morpher, finding a strange slot under it. “I never had one of these before I was integrated…”

“That’s where you plug in your DIN!” Jaelia yelled putting her palms out to fire six more missiles. “God, this isn’t even worth it if you’re so clueless. I should finish you now!”

“My wh… Hey that’s not cool. You used this move last time!” Lucille complained. “And how do I fight heatseekers?”

Lucille, our internal parts should have anything zat was inside you. Try to see if ma flamethrower is still in your palms.:: Simone sent to Lucille, taking a break from Nord By NordWest to watch the fight. She had been able to sense that her other half and thus herself was in grave danger. ::We can produce heat up to 9000 degrees, enough to run a furnace if we wished!::
I know what parts we have, you don’t have to tell me.:: Lucille replied, small nozzles depositing from her palms. ::That was a good idea there thoguh..::

The missiles got dangerously close as Lucille shot out two quick bursts of fireballs. Something that she couldn’t do with the flamethrower beforehand. It had actually been more Simone’s idea to do a quick burst instead of a flame spray. The way Lucille and Simone controlled their body was strange. Both had control and could do as they please, but the other didn’t feel like they weren’t in control. It was beginning to seem more and more like Lucille and Simone were more so different versions of their awareness than different personalities. Like one was an actor and the other was a character played by the actor but it was impossible to tell which was actually which and it was becoming more like this the more Simone’s suppressed memories became more open to her partner. They were actually getting quite excited as to how they would operate once they were truly one. “Hehe, stop shooting yourself!” Lucille teased, Simone laughed with.

The missiles had damaged Jaelia’s legs who was forced to kneel while her nanites began repairing her knees. “Clever girl… but I’ll be back on my feet in a second. We Integrates have amazing healing abiliti…” Lucille interrupting her gloating by putting her morpher on the other’s wrist. “What are you doing with tha….. a….a.a.a.a….”

“Testing a hypothesis.” Lucille smiled and crossed her fingers that this guess was right, otherwise she was out of ideas. “If I’m right you should want to stop fighting me… Am I right? I am right, right? Please tell me I’m right.”

“No! Why the hell would I call…… myself… a fighter. I don’t like fighting, there’s no point in hurting people.” Jaelia said rubbing her head and looking at the morpher. “.....What have I done? Sheila went to fuse with Jamie and… all of a sudden I became like this and started hearing Aristo, that guy Shyver works for who… trying to tell me how good it is being an integrate, and then I just started listening to this Lucypop chick who told me to….” Jaelia’s eyes grew wide as her face grew pale with fear. “Oh my god! Is Paula okay?”

“Yeah, but we don’t know where her father is… Though with you out of the way we can actually continue to fight without further instances of our RIDE brothers and sisters becoming immobile. And, best of all you can give me some pointers on what exactly happened to us.” Lucille cheered, using her zoom vision to see the RIDErs down below resume movement. “Like for one thing I can’t access the net or think-speak to anyone other than Simone. Even then it’s almost like talking to myself when I do that, so it’s neat, but not too useful.”

“Well, if you find a blank DIN, you can have it adjust to your programming language so you can do that again. Your mind and Simone’s mind mix together to make a code no one but you can even read.” Jaelia explained, grabbing Lucille’s arm and rubbing over her strange slot. “The DIN will translate it into a different language others can understand.”

Lucille looked it over and nodded. “See if the Morpher opens or anything…” she suggested and to Jaelia’s surprise she found a compartment with a blank DIN in it ready to absorb a new language very easily once she thought to look for one.

“Wow! Shyver must like you.” Jaelia said handing the DIN and Morpher back to Lucille who put both on. The Morpher first which she slid further down her arm as to not cover the DIN slot which she reluctantly plugged in.

“This isn’t going to hurt is it?” Lucille asked as her new addition began glowing. “Ooooh… hey that feels nice… oh and I’ve got net again. And I can feel our mind expanding, like, I can feel my connection to other machines only now it’s stronger than before… Or maybe it’s just placebo from being without it for awhile…. or I’m picking up Simone’s thoughts about it.”

Simone tried out this restored function once she noticed having a Net signal. Felt weird having a net signal, yet at the same time like it was completely natural to have one. Like all this was, was her opening her eyes. This was because she was experiencing her emotion and Lucille’s at once. As Simone had not been able to receive a wifi signal directly through her own brain as opposed to just the implant in it before. It was kind of tingly to have net access like this, a very good tingly. ::Paula, I told you to trust us. I’ve resolved the battle, or rather Lucille resolved it.:: Simone sent, this time she made sure to see the confirmation message before assuming Paula heard. ::Jaelia’s on our side, apparently Aristo has some way to Integrate anyone in zose 817 models. And zere are two more in la polis de’Venars. Fioshawott and someone named Lucypop. She’s feeling better now, helping us figure ourselves out.::

Okay… So you’re Simocelle now?:: Paula asked, it was a decent question everyone else had weird names.
Actually no, we’re just going to go by Simone after this is over. Keep this a secret, if anyone asks I’m using an experimental RIDE and that Jaelia’s claim was a hoax. I’m not sure revealing myself this way is a smart idea. We’re urban legends for a reason and I don’t want to know why just yet:: Simone responded browsing her email while she was at it.
Well I’m just glad you’re alright.:: Paula said with uncertainty. ::I’m still a little scared of you though…::
I understand…:: Simone replied sounding gravely serious. ::We’ve really only stopped being afraid of ourselves a couple of a minutes ago to be honest. I think you’ll see that we’re very much still the same Simone and Lucille in time, we’ve just… grown closer in our relationship. And for your information, it’s not half bad so far. Though I will become the dominant personality again to make you feel more comfortable around me. Especially since I think I can detect two other Integrates with this thing Shyver gave me. That’s probably where your father is and zis Lucypop. I’m getting ever so stronger by le second so I think we can take her together.:: She thought spoke, flying downard re-assuming Simon form as Simone took the wheel from Lucille.

“Okay, we didn’t have much of a fight…” Simon said in his wonderful thick french accent. “Turns out Sheila was having a bad dream at a bad time about being an Integrate. Makes sense, not even Aristo can hire someone who's a species that doesn’t exist. She probably just heard about the attack while sleepwalking and imagined the whole thing.”

Jaelia nodded, realizing that it would probably be better if they kept what they had become a secret. “Yeaah… I had been meaning to patch Jamie’s sleeping programs.” She proceeded to fake Jamie’s voice even though they had merged much closer together than Simone and Lucille did and for all intents and purpose were neither really either person anyone. “Yes, Aristo designed me, so the sleeping programs’ glitches were probably planned for this.”

“Well damn….” Pauline shrugged. “Though things got really exciting, so… have we won? The bad robots don’t seem to be attacking us anymore.” In truth Jaelia had shut them down after the fight ended.

“Come, I overheard something while I was walking around about that Lucypop woman being at the entrance. We take her out and we save Venars.” Simon said, he was pondering if he could take a form that wasn’t Lucille’s human form nor Simon’s male body. If so, Simon couldn’t wait to take the form he really had a hankering for. Being Simone Bertrand once again. Especially since Lucille felt a little uncomfortable when their body took a male form. It wasn’t the dysphoria a RIDE normally hide if their body was wrong, but it was unpleasant nonetheless

Nice save.:: Paula congratulated while flying next to her employer and friend. ::I think they bought it.::
Good they just have to keep doing that for the rest of my life.:: Simone responded, it was Simone’s voice and image in mental speak. The duo just felt more comfortable with that. It’s not that they disliked the Simon look, they just loved the idea of being Simone more. ::Or sooner if le government decides to declassify us. They might over zis. Maybe.::
You aren’t going to make us Integrate by us being around you or anything like that are you? Paula and I aren’t sure we want to be that close.:: Ruby wondered aloud, well not aloud, but she still sent it. The idea was soothing and had some degree of appeal, but neither her nor Paula believed it was for them.
I really don’t know Ruby, Like I said, we aren’t even fully finished merging yet.:: Simone replied, she sounded very solemn. Even if it felt good, she knew perfectly well she may present some danger to Paula, Ruby, and anyone. She’d have to slow down the memory merge so that she could double check through their systems, with more of Lucille’s memories Simone had become quite good at working their software and internal machinery.

Meanwhile on the other edge of town, Lucypop had Mr. Reverbek and his RIDE Claude bound in digital hardlight ropes. Mr. Revebek himself had his facemask forced open and his face pounded into numerous times, he did not look good with his two black eyes, missing teeth, and profusely bleeding nose. He must have been beaten for the better part of an hour as he looked like the ancient boxer Mike Tyson had come back to life, bought a flight to Zharus, and challenged him to a couple dozen rounds. “Where is your daughter? You know she has to die if Aristo wants it to happen.”

“You’re an Integrate aren’t you? I’ve heard rumors of your kind. Never thought I’d see one of you up close and personal like that. But it’s not farfetched now that I think about it, we’re always fusing just to check twitter. Someone was bound to be a little too good at fusing one day. Can’t say I’m impressed though. You’re just a human in a RIDE, nothing more.” Mr. Reverbek taunted, actually laughing as he looked over the glowing thylacine, panda, thing before him. Was he really this brave or did Lucypop knock something loose in that head of his. He really wasn’t sure at this point, but since it was likely that he was going to die he figured, Why not do so with dignity?

“Cute, I can reprogram your RIDE nanites to dissolve your lungs slowly. I’ll start if you don’t tell me where you’re hiding your daughter.” Lucypop warned, pointing a gun hand at Mr. Reverbek’s head. “Or I could just kill you now and extract your RIDE’s memories…. that could work. Only reason I didn’t do that sooner is because I’m a nice chica and...” She was saying before being interrupted.

“What’s the point of this? A woman like you working for a loser like Aristo.” Spoke a voice from behind Lucypop. “Come on, let’s go. Aristo’s the only one who needs to lose here.”

“Who the?” Lucypop asked turning around and finding another Integrate. A red panda with a pink skirt, a jester’s hat, a visor that looked like the old NES Hardware known as ROB’s, and a green shirt. Despite the skirt he was a male with purple glowing lines who merely had a love of crossdressing. Not the biggest taboo on Zharus, nor was it one at all really.

“Xhyz is the name. Came in when I heard that my old operator sent you hear to terrorize these poor people. Even if you win, how long can he possibly hold this town for?” Xhyz grinned, Lucypop recognized this moniker. Aristo had told her much about him, he had warned her that he may start something if he hadn’t removed his 817 signal yet which it seems he hadn’t.

“You’re Aristo’s missing RIDE…. Why have you shown up now?” Lucypop raised an eyebrow, this was the last thing she expected. “I have my finest hacks sealing the dome, how the hell did you get in?”

“Well I’m not a RIDE anymore, now I’m an Integrate like you, but now just any Integrate. The kind of Integrate who would love to take hotness like yours out to a nice 5 Star Inties-Only Restraunt somewhere out in the Dry. I think that’d be a better use of your time really.” Xhyz smiled, looking over Lucypop’s chimera-esque form with obvious interest. “I know chivalry’s been dead for a few decades, but hey, my treat regardless.”

“....Are you kidding me?” Lucypop looked at Xhyz reasonably confused. “You… broke a hack THAT good just to ask me out? Are you messing with me?”

“Lucypop, Lucypop, Lucypop… You’re hot! Not just hot, but on fire! Besides… you’re going to retreat when that group of RIDErs, that french guy, and your turncoat get the better of you.” Xhyz said pointing behind Lucypop. “Which should be any moment now.”

“What in the world….” Lucypop turned around seeing the very crowd Xhyz described. “What makes you think they can beat….. She had turned around only to find that Xhyz seemed to have vanished. “Me.. Weirdo…” she commented before turning back to the crowd. “Jaelia I thought I told you to take care of this insurgency.”

“Yeah, I’m not doing that. Also I deactivated your battlers before I came over they aren’t coming to your rescue.” Jaelia refused before throwing her arms out. Going from an enraged war face to more of a panicked confusion. “Lucypop, what the hell did you do to me? I’m not even the same person anymore… uhh… without my precious Venars… I mean… yeah I… Po-ke-mon Troz-ei, for in a row and you’re good to go....” Her thoughts were getting all mixed up, a side effect of being recently Integrated.

Lucypop fired through Jaelia’s chest wounding her enough to take her out of the fight for now. “A favor. Alright, me and Fioshowatt can take you all on.”

Simon smiled at Lucypop taking a battle pose. “Don’t be so sure, I’m feeling pretty awesome.”

Lucille’s voice joined in along side Simon’s as she began to grow fur. “We have just finished melding our memories, united we are the hope for Venars. United we can be the beacon of hope that for Together We RIDE!” As she said this Lucypop was taken aback by a blinding green flash that exploded from Simon’s body as it rapidly feminized and took on various skunk like features. Simon, Lucille, no the Integrate known as Simone-Lucille was now a full on anthropomorphic skunk, with real fur and purple eyes mixing the colors of Simon’s blue and Lucille’s red.

Paula and the others averted their gazes too. “So much for laying low…”

It kind of just happened Paula… we found what my true form is like and how to assume it. Not Simon, not Lucille, but us. Simone-Lucille, but you can call me just Simone for short.:: Simone explained, to which Paula just nodded slowly.

“Flashy, and trampy… Are you really going to fight me naked?” Lucypop asked, shaking her head and aiming her gun right at Simone’s head.

“...Yeah, did no one else just see the mainly french guy turn into a big busty naked skunk chick? I imagine that’s got to be emasculating.” Spoke Coyote’s RIDEr, who was ogling the naked Simone as would any heterosexual or bisexual male or lesbian or bisexual female.

Simone chuckled, forming a whip from her Kitty Tamer Baton, and gave it a red coat of paint on the handle via hardlight to make it look like a weapon the Power Rangers would use. She appeared to have better control of her whip as she wrapped it around Coyote and his human’s waist and pulled them close into a romantic pose as though Simone was about to kiss him. “Hmhmhmhm, quite the opposite really.” Just before the kiss the glowing skunk goddess of machinery dropped him and immediately whipped down at Lucypop’s legs just as she was about to fire so her shot would miss. “I feel power like you wouldn’t believe right now.” ‘ Lucypop activated her lifters at the last second to prevent her from actually falling and rose above the crowd. “Interesting. Your hardlight manipulation is already that good? I may have to level the play field. Don’t bother trying to stop THIS hack. I’m not a pushover like the weakling Sheila and Jamie made. You wanna fight me? Well I reckon we oughtta make it a duel hotstuff.” Once again the RIDEs were disabled and no one could move or even defuse.

Simone grinned punching forward with the hand her morpher was on. “Don’t worry, I’ll just cure Aristo’s virus… I think I can send the anti-virus through my morpher if I just....” Red light poured out of it and washed over Lucypop who yawn.

“Sorry hon, I’m on commission.” Lucypop smirked, flying towards the rural part of town where all the crops were. “I find it’s more fun with plenty of room to move. Already making a prehensile hardlight whip seconds after finishing your Integration? This is going to be fun.”

“Whatever Space Cowgirl.” Simone narrowed her violet eyes, scanning for weapons or weaknesses on Lucypop to see if she could find any. “All I know is that you’re not going beat me as long as I have people to protect.” She glared at Lucypop as she formed a Red Ranger suit out of hardlight to fight in. The mood felt right for it since Lucypop was like a supervillain in this scenario. The suit was a custom spur of the moment design not seen on any show. Very fancy with a gold plating on the torso and in the middle of it a big red ruby, and a symbol that was little more than the infinite symbol under the eiffel tower, which was also gold plated. “Like? It was hastily made, new to this whole hardlight generation thing. Let’s call it Omniverse OverRIDE Red!”

“You have got to be kidding. Your look is as ridiculous and awful as your smell.” Lucypop rolled her eyes in sheer disbelief her opponent picked a Ranger Suit to fight her in. This had to be a joke.

“Oh please, not every skunk smells bad. Only when they spray and even then I’m a robotish thing… can I even spray?” Simone growled, insulted by this lame attempt to rustle her jimmies.

“No, it’s because you’re french!.” Lucypop clarified as she held her nose and gagged. “You smell nastier than a cowpie.”

Simone became furious, not that it could be seen with the helmet on and whipped her whip upward in rage. “How dare you insult la glory of France!” She screamed as she charged at Lucypop starting off with a flamethrower blast from her palm cannons.

Lucypop seemed to not be effected in the slightest. “Invisible Hardlight Shield.” she gloated “But not a bad effort.” She taunted as she fired homing missiles with a sharp similarity to Ruby’s and a big blue laser out of her mouth. Simone’s suit was crafted well enough to withstand the missiles, but not the laser which demolished the front of her helmet forcing Simone to discard it.

“I like letting my hair down anyway.” Simone pouted, charging towardsLucypop and lashing out at her dozens of times. Lucypop was left on the defensive, the whip was chipping away at her shield. Soon it would begin doing damage. What was especially infuriating was one last blow around her waist which enabled the skunkette to actually twirl Lucypop around, spinning rapidly like a cartoon character.

“How are you on my level?” Lucypop furrowed her brow after regaining her bearings and began firing away, but the shots just evaporated in a shield Simone made by whipping the whip in a circular motion “I know I sound arrogant, but I have hunted down some of the most infamous Integrates and taken their parts to ensure that I can stay on top as the most powerful bounty hurt on Zharus. A yellow bellied skunk of a n00b like you shouldn’t be giving me this much trouble. Where in the hay are you drawing this much power from?”

“I fight for my new world, so that I can bring my family here and show them the wonders I’ve seen. Aristo will take those wonders away.” Simone responded, keeping the memories of her family’s original bodies, the ones she knew Zharusian Technology could restore, close to her heart as she began flaring up her palm flamethrower and lifters to deliver a fiery punch right to Lucypop’s nose.

“Commendable.” Lucypop noted rubbing some of her silverish-red blood off of her scorched nose. “Then I truly am honored to fight you Simone, your purpose is rather noble. I honor the resolve it gives you.” She applauded her opponent who proceeded to make a fool of her.

The monochrome self-proclaimed champion of Venars smiled and walked up to Lucypop who seemed confused that the skunk was now smiling and swaying her hips more like she had seen a cute boy down at the club than she was fighting. Oh great, now she was being mocked but this abundantly over-chested skank. Lucypop had killed people for less, soon it would time to annihilate Bertrand and be done with this. “So, Lucypop, tell me somezing ma chérie. Have you ever played Metroid?”

Now there was a question that had no rhyme or reason to be asked that, so it stuck out as a ridiculous and random thing to say with no real bearing on the situation. Why would she be asked this completely nonsensical question? Was Simone malfunctioning? Does a being with a human mind even malfunction? Well maybe, history is littered with examples of brilliant men and women, musicians, politicians, programmers, rights activists, writers, politicians, inventors, actors, and politicians who started their careers promising and full of vigor and rapidly turned into jackasses incapable of making anything resembling sense. Integrates tended to be better than humans at everything, because Integrates are awesome, were they better at this too? Lucypop decided to answer the question to the best of her abilities. “What? Why are you askin...”

The answer came when Simone suddenly punched through Lucypop’s chest with another flame punch and lifted her off the ground. “Because I fancy a screw…” she said, giving the other intie a “Hey baby” look. “.... attack!” she exclaimed finishing her sentence. What followed was the greatest thing ever recorded in someone’s memory. If you have access to this file, make sure you’re continuing to read it in text mode. Actually witnessing it or having it beamed into your long term memory and your head may explode.

Simone activated her lifters and launched upward into the sky and did a front flip, forming her body into a green glowing energy buzzsaw, causing further damage to Lucypop who agreed that this was definitely a screw, and one too hard for Lucypop to find anything other than overly painful. Definitely not her favorite position. Especially since once it concluded Simone just threw the wounded integrate headfirst towards the ground, Lucypop knew this wouldn’t kill her as it would anything else this was done to, but she was beginning to ponder if her opponent knew that. Yes if she were in Simone’s position she herself would be going for a painful kill, but until recently this skunk was a human and a Pleasure Support RIDE, and those two things normally have a no kill policy. Lucypop didn’t fear death, she was merely pondering how seriously to take this situation and she quickly had her answer as she rapidly plummeted to a rock in the field below.

SMASH! CRACK! Lucypop’s teeth were chipped and she had to crack her neck back into place before getting up. Otherwise her vision would have been titled from the way her neck had been bent out of shape. “Right then…” she said outloud switching her hands, both regular and gun over two bladehands, oversized knives of an ancient aztec-esque design. Lucypop didn’t say anything, she merely pounced onto Lucille and began carving into Simone who previously had been laughing and snickering, but now all that had turned into sheer horror.

Simone called out in pain as Lucypop began a round of DIY open heart surgery. “You could have broken my shield at anytime?” The skunkette tried disabling her pain sensors, but Venars’ attacker was not allowing her such comfort. The hapless victim of mutilation and not known physical pain like this in all her life, and since she was in her late forties that was a good while.

Lucypop grinned as she began cutting further into Simone’s mammaries ignoring the cries of pure suffering the emanated from the technological marvel, no not ignoring them. Something more sinister, she was reveling in it, relishing it, maybe even recording it for later listening as though it was the most elegant and expertly, nay, masterfully performed composition ever crafted on any world ever colonized by man.

Simone screamed and winced as the blades cut through her techno-organic flesh and scrapped among the bones of her metallic skeleton. The scrapping that to a woman with amplified hearing thanks to her very powerful audial reception system and not to much the sensory additions given by skunk ears these were like nails on a chalkboard multiplied by infinity.. “Stoooop stoooooop…. pleeeease… that… ahhhh.... zat… zat… huurrrts…. arrêter...”

“That’s the idea.” Lucypop reminded looking into the wounds and called out anything she believed that she would want once they were separated from Simone. “Well I could use your flamethrower parts. I don’t have any of those yet and those look pretty pricy, and hey nice modem, I’m guessing it needs to be that fancy so you can work as a camwhore. Ooooh and very high quality nanite dispensers. Very nice. Not many weapons outside of the flamethrower though, well you are a lover more than a fighter.”

“Get away from her you bitch!” Cried out a voice from behind Lucypop as she was doing her bloody window shopping. Paula and Ruby were flying towards her and kicked her in the face then proceeded to launch a few plasma rounds from a gun she had gotten one of the weapons stores near by. Looting was bad, but not during an emergency.

“...How did you escape my hack?” Lucypop asked turning her attention away from Simone who applied the pain sensor disable once she finally could.

“This red panda gave me a temporary patch. You inties are everywhere today.” Paula explained firing until she emptied the gun’s power in Lucypop and threw the depleted at Lucypop along with her missiles, right at the spots she shot at. Direct blow, evident as Lucypop cried out in pain.

“Oh thanks…. as much as that hurt.” Lucypop smiled. “You’re making my job a lot easier, just showing yourself like this.” The cowgirl thyla-thing descended upon Paula cutting her and Ruby’s wings and arms off to prevent her escape.

The skunkette’s breasts were already healing as she looked over at Paula bleeding out and then back at Lucypop. Simone looked like she was about to cry. “What did she ever do to you? All she wanted from life was to be a free woman, and I am not going to let you hurt her!.”

Lucypop laughed in triumph “I am a bounty hunter and I always get my prey. Care to join her in the afterlife slut?”

“Zere is no such thing!” Simone contested igniting her flamethrowers to their maximum temperature, and then tried to find some exploits to get hotter. Focusing her rage as her flames formed a tornado up and down her arms. Flames that were pure green like her glowing lines that had recently adorned her body. “But zat will not stop me from showing you hell!” Simone screamed and proceeded to grab Lucypop and literally burned through anything that remained her shields, scorching her severely once it finally finished blazing through the shield.

“I have never seen a technique like this…” Lucypop commented in a dry voice quickly becoming quite dehydrated. “I… ughh…. aahhhh..” she screamed out. She couldn’t cave, not to anyone, especially not this loser, this overly busty pleasure model. Such a chest like Simone-Lucille’s made her think of those old implants from before people upgraded their goods with nano. Not only that but a size as ridiculous as her opponent’s bust could only have gotten from the old Polypropylene breast implants

Simone threw Lucypop to the ground and kept her flaming hand to her neck. Scorching through her, now was a chance to kill her, but Simone knew that wasn’t the right thing to do so she dropped her. Just as Lucypop expected, no way a city-slicker like you actually had it in her to kill and she could take a few harmless thousand degree burns without any permanent damage. “Alright Le Marshalls should be able to take care of you…”

“This Aristo shit’s getting to be too much of a liability. Sorry, but I’m bouncing. If the Venars cops get to me first they may want to try cutting me up to see what makes me tick, and the marhsalls aren’t my scene either. I had fun though, really. I did.” Lucypop smiled as she flew off.

“Come back here you bitch! You need to answer for what you’ve done!” Simone yelled, but Lucypop was already out of sight. So she threw up two of her fingers in a rude gesture and went to check on Paula and Ruby. It seemed they were going to be fine, just needed re attach the limbs. Some Fab Fluid would be able to take care of that.

Still there was a lot of bleeding, so Simone flew Paula and Ruby back to her garage to have the doctor perform that procedure. It would only take a second, then she could tend to her father. Though it seemed there were further delays.

Simone, Paula, the barrier around the dome went down. So contact is now possible. This is Zediel. I used to be Gabriel and Zedimuse. But we have since much earlier this day gotten more aqquaintated. But let’s keep this between us. Is everyone okay?:: Spoke the voice of Zediel in a four way conference he started with Paula, Ruby, and Simone.
For the most part…… Except it now seems to be raining Integrates if you being Zediel means what I think it means.:: Paula responded. Simone’s an Integrate, Gabrielle’s an Integrate, next thing she’d find out that she herself was an Integrate and just didn’t realize it yet! Okay she wasn’t, but at this rate wouldn’t have questioned it much if you told her.
No shitting? Who else?.:: Zediel asked, excited by the prospect of encountering one of his friends having joined him in the whacky world of Integration.
Bonjour, so two Integrates working in my garage. You and moi. Well aren’t we going to be popular?:: Simone joked. ::Shyver gave me a DIN, but it looks pretty banged up from fighting this chick named Lucypop.::
Wait… a second.. Gabe, didn’t you used to date a woman who called herself Lucypop after she Integrated?:: Paula remembered, she was pretty sure he said something about it. Looking back over Ruby’s memories, indeed he did say just that! The young crossrider who wished she or Simone had asked Lucypop more questions before she ran off.
Indeed well it’s not over yet. Aristo hired her to attack you and I’m sorry but Shyver is behind it too, he attacked me when I was apprehending Aristo. Yeah Shyver was hiding him the whole time. Since you’re the last person to see Lucypop and have performed the nigh impossible task of managing to survive fighting her, want to go find your landlord and kick your ex’s ass?:: Zediel offered. ::We found a damaged terminal back in the ruins of ACE… Which exploded on top of me… Shit has been getting real today. Stating he has a base somewhere in the Dry Ocean. I just figured you’d like to join in on busting him. I’m with some of the marshalls by the way. Don’t be scared though, as long as you agree to pretend you're human they’ll let you remain in normal society..::
Shyver was responsible for this attack?:: Simone sent in disbelief. The skunkette couldn’t believe it, neither of her minds even wanted to register this. Shyver? Shyver was responsible for this attack on Venars, the one that threatened both her life and Paula’s? Threatened her bussiness? Threatened Paula’s family? Nay threatened the entire polis? Shyver? Her sweet cuddly panda bear? Did it mean anything then? When he stopped the ferris wheel and kissed her, did it mean anything? That was nothing, once Lucille realized that her boyfriend Promethus could very easily have been just as responsible the Integrated Pair were forced onto their knees. Simone thought about crying, but she couldn’t. The emotion of sadness actually wasn’t present in her mind, she was burning brighter than the event for which Shyver’s home polis of Supernova was named with pure rage. ::If he thinks a free DIN and a trip to Qubitite Park are going to make me me overlook… ANYTHING zat as happened. He is dead wrong, and he’ll be lucky if I don’t drop wrong from zat label! I’m going to fab a new DIN, one that’s not so badly damaged from la flames, and…..:: Simone was disconnected in mid-thought as her DIN began giving off smoke. “Bien merde...”


Simone? Lucille? Are you the.. and I’ve lost your signal… okay Paula are you nearby Simone? What happened? Did her DIN go out, damn things blow up if you look at them wrong.:: Zediel asked wondering why he could no longer connect to Simone.
I don’t know. Me and Ruby are getting arms re-attached. I’m not sure where she is.. but.. seriously, our first fuse gave me wing hands, then I was a brain in a jar, now your psycho girlfriend cuts them off. Is the Universe trying to tell me something?:: Paula sent back in reply. ::Though… Aristo and Shyver kidnapped me, enslaved me, turned Simone and Lucille into a freak… no offense::
None taken:: Zediel assured.
Glad to hear it, turned Simone and Lucille into a freak, attacked my home, and hurt my father. This go get Aristo party. Please tell me it’s not integrates only.:: Paula said putting on her war face and balling her now reattached left arm in a fist.
The more the merrier:: Zediel replied, Paula couldn’t see he but he was smiling. ::when you’re ready we’ll take off and put an end to Aristo once and for awhile, though I warn you, we have reason to believe Aristo has developed a code that forces an Integration, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence Simone and I went Integrate the same day. So just warning you, it might happen to you.::

Closer to the entrance to Venars. Mr. Reverbek rubbed himself off once he was free and given medical attention, looking at Simone as though he felt sorry for her. “There’s only way you could have fought off that Integrate.” He said, looking over Simone’s body. “I’m guess that isn’t a fancy new DE for Lucille is it?”

“Non…” Simone looked down at her glowing animalistic body, indeed this was not armor, this was actually what she looked like now. She was fine with it, it felt rather natural to be a skunk now, likely because of Lucille’s mind. The worry was that other people would be afraid of her. “It is exactly what you think.”

“Hey, I won’t tell anyone. You’ve done good by my daughter and given her a place to stay while her mother cools off… You think she would have after five months of Paul being Paula…” Mr. Reverbek sighed. He was never in all his years of marriage sure why his wife tended to be so prudish and afraid of anything that seemed the slightest bit abnormal or strange to her. New shampoos and snack foods even set her off. “I don’t know what’s going on, but I don’t doubt the bastards who kidnapped Paula in the first place are behind this. I won’t tell your secret, but please, do me a favor and find the people who attacked Venars. If half the things they say about your kind are true, you should have no problem with bringing them to justice.”

“Guess what I was about to do. Want to come with Monsieur Reverbek?” Simone asked clenching her fist and looking at the dome’s entrance.

“The town got banged up pretty badly, someone needs to help rebuild it. Besides, you’ll need a few people willing to say they never saw any Integrate.” Mr. Reverbek smiled, giving Simone a parting hug. “You’re always going to be considered an Honorary Reverbek for what you’ve done.”

“Thank you, zat means a lot to me and Don’t worry. Aristo and Shyver won’t be household names when I am done with zem!” Simone smiled as she returned to her garage to prepare for the final confrontation. Shyver would be wise to have a damn good explanation for this if he wanted to get any this day, and by any, she meant oxygen for his lungs. _________________________________________________________________________

It was almost midnight when the marshalls and Simone and Paula headed out for the Dry Ocean. Apparently a new enclave had been constructed called Triangle Lighthouse, ran by Aristo who until just today, like many other people, hadn’t been qualified to live inside of an enclave. Commander Shepard lead the way while Simone and Zediel talked with the other Integrates Jackaroo and Bon Bon about what it was like and how to adapt. Simone had not been pleased to hear that she was now infertile, she had wanted to start a family some day one that wouldn’t betray her like her old one did. Putting more pressure on her to bring her old family out of Earthern Poverty and into Zharusian Luxury. Of course the whole Integrate thing would be difficult to get around since Zharusian law stated no Quantum Tech could leave the planet. And since Simone was now MADE of quantum tech that would force her to have to be more creative than she would have had to been when she was human. On the bright side Lucille would get to see Earth.

Paula had tried keeping up with their discussion trying once more to understand what had happened to her friends but the concept seemed to fly completely over her head. “So you sure being around an Integrate isn’t going to… I mean I can’t catch it from you can I?”

“Only if we use Aristo’s Forced Integration Code on you.” Zediel answered. “It probably won’t be illegalized either. The enclaves claim that such a ban would be akin to banning birth control nano in female humans and thus hinge on their reproductive rights. A flimsy excuse, but a good enough one for the higher ups. That thing is going to cause a bucketload of problems. Just you wait, Simone-Lucille, myself, and the dozens of Integrates spread across the polises created by Aristo’s madness are just the beginning, soon we’ll have an Integrating spree. Fantastic.”

“You won’t will you?” Paula asked having more second thoughts. “It sounds horrifying. I mean I’m still not sure if you and Simone are even yourselves anymore… No offense, but… you’re… you’re.. both… machines now! But not like any other machines, you’re all.. I mean, I’ve heard of cyborgs before, know a few, but you’re half-RIDE! I mean I like humans and I like RIDEs, but… Are we sure this is really Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups?”

“Of course I won’t Paula, besides from what I’ve seen from comparing mine and Zediel’s memories it’s far more pleasant when it’s natural. So we can wait for your time. Also zat is the fifth time you’ve said that you weren’t sure if I was me anymore. Quite frankly I feel hurt that you’d think that. I became a woman and was still me, how is being an Integrate any different?” Simone explained for the fifth time this trip. “Now please stop asking that. Lucille would love to see you and Ruby as me and her are, don’t encourage me to indulge her.”

Paula swallowed, maybe it was time to move back in with her parents, even with her mother still on a rampage about her most controversial life choice.

Finally they came across it, a giant green and gold striped lighthouse in the middle of the dry. It was orange and black in the blueprints that were found at the ruins of ACE Evolutions, but these were the right coordinates indeed. “Simone, Zediel, you have the most experience with this case besides. If our intel is correct Aristo has likely Integrated himself so you two will be our best bet. Jackaroo and Bon Bon will go in as back up. Ordinarily we’d send in one of our own before civilians or retired personnel. And ESPECIALLY before “n00bs” or Fresh Integrates, but we feel under the circumstances, we’d rather keep Aristo in a false sense of security. He’ll be more sloppy if he thinks it’s just you two and the marshalls have lost interest. Additionally, Simone, since you have a romantic connection to Shyver we think you may be able to get him to defect. Any questions?”

“So we are just walking in through the front door?” Simone asked, not sure this was the safest option.

“I’m not fond of this either, but the enclaves have spared all they can helping us wrangle Aristo’s freakshows, no offense.” Zeidel explained

“None taken Monsieur Locke.” Simone replied.

“You’d think the Bosscat would be right here trying to challenge Aristo’s claim to rule, but I guess he sees kicking Enroygall’s ass beneath him. Still I’m not too worried though intelligence reports that only a minimal of the ACE forces are here. We’ve been tracking down 817 units while you were fighting Lucypop, few were stopped from Integrating and the rest are currently insane until we know how to fix them.” Zediel reported. “Are you ready… I forget what do you go by now?”

“It’s just Simone, short for Simone-Lucille, but I’m going to pretend to be human after this.” Simone informed. “So, I’ll go with my human name. My life is in Venars, not le Dry Ocean”

“If you’re allowed….” The hyena stressed then continued talking I’m thinking I’ll just rejoin the marshalls.” Zediel admitted as the two stepped near the foot of the lighthouse, only for a large hardlight forcefield to encompass the area trapping them inside. “....Did we really forget to check for boobytraps?”

“GOD DAMN IT!” Commander Shepard exclaimed trying to yell to Zediel and Simone. “Okay, don’t worry we’re going to try break this, just hold on…” Though neither of them could hear them. The shield was like soundproof glass in that regard.

“It’s been a long day….” Simone sighed forming a whip out of a military grade baton as opposed to her measly Kitten Tamer to prepare for what’s next.

“Oh why did I forget to get me one of those fancy hardlight generators?” Zediel mentally kicked himself. “Well… I’ll just settle for my cunning.”

Immediately, Shyver, Promethus, and Kabrina were sent out to dispatch with the intruders. “Men don’t have cunning Gabriel darling.” Oddly enough, Kabrina seemed to be dress in a Viking Inspired Armoured get-up, very Sturmhaven in its design, especially since it had a few Germanic touches to it. Such as the helmet with its spike in addition to its horns.

“Simone… I never wanted it to come to this. But I can’t choose Aristo over you… Don’t make me have too. We can rule this world together as Husband and Wife. We’ll just have to fight it out and we can win over some support from the enclaves, a few of them have already agreed to act as double agents.” Shyver tried to explain, cocking a plasma rifle after speaking.

“Simone? Oh hey it is Busty, remember me? Oh… please surrender.. I… oh god please surrender, we can be friends with benifiets!” Kabrina said oggling Simone’s cleavage while holding two blue spikes. Very visible since she decided to buy that tanktop she saw in Venars after all.

“You would choose a maniac over me? IS THIS REALLY All this is about? Using me as a soldier for a LANDGRAB!!” Simone responded, tearing up as she eyed that plasma rifle. She knew that it was intended for her and Shyver most likely had full intentions to use it. After all, it’s not the worst thing he’d done to her today. “And if I say no, you’re going to gun me down… Why… Why Shyver?”

Shyver sighed and nodded, aiming the weapon carefully at Simone. So that if he did attack, one plasma bolt with enough power straight through the skull would take her out for good.“It’s simple darling. Zharus foolishly chooses to squander its gifts. It could easily become the richest planet if it allowed trade of Sarium and Qubitite and not to mention the human species would have access to a medical care far unlike anything the rest of the universe has ever known.”

“Noble Shyver, but there is not enough Sarium for EVERYONE in the universe to use its power. Anyone who comes to Zharus’ shores may partake all that they wish to their heart’s, but this mineral is first arrive, first serve until we come into the realization of how to synthesize our precious miracle stone. If you want to help the other worlds so much you can put your company’s funds to that goal.” Zediel tried reasoning. “You’re rich, so you can probably plea bargain, especially if you’re willing rat out Aristo on a few things...”

“I’m not snitching on my best friend. This is Mr. Enroygall’s plan and I will die carrying it out if I must!” Shyver said sternly with pure determination as he proceeded to open fire on Zediel.

Zediel was immediately on the defensive trying to dodge shots, but without a hardlight shield or a quantum time distorter he took on a few, even a head shot. Which didn’t seem to phase him.

“That was in le center of your cranium, how could you have survived?” Simone asked, throwing up a shield while trying to attend to Zediel’s wounds initially she had charged at him believing that her comrade was having some kind of delayed reaction to the shot, but no he seemed fine.

Zediel seemed distracted by something, but after a few seconds he answered. “It’s a survival tip I picked up from Jackaroo, you can move your brain to different parts of your body, even separate it. As long as you’re in good condition as long you still have some of your brain left you’ll be fine. You can just regenerate anything they shoot provided you have some left over.”

“So if we know what we’re doing. Nothing can kill us?” Simone asked, eyebrow raised. Maybe she’d used this force-code on people she truly cared about. Immortality was wonderful when it was contagious and could be countered by suicide at any time.

“Pretty much, wonderful health plan we Integrates have isn’t it?” Zediel smiled, but winced at how much damage Simone’s shield as taken from plasma shots and the odd ice-lightning Kabrina was shooting at them. “Now, Kabrina’s next attack will break your shield…. look if the voice in my head is being sincere then I definitely know to do. I’m going to need you to just trust me on something. It sounds like I’ve lost my mind, but you need to place absolute confidence in my ability.”

“Oui, I trust you.. but what is it zat you are pla…. OH NON!” Simone suddenly screamed as the shield broke just as Zediel promised. This was quite a shock to her, not only did the shield’s shattering actually manage to hurt. The integrate had felt a sudden jolt from her hardlight generator. She pondered did Lucille always feel this when her shields were broke or was it something unique to the way they were configured now? There was a lot about this situation she realized she could analyze to become a far superior RIDE Mechanic. One who knew from experience what it was like to be a RIDE. Of course that thought was cut off by a clicking from Shyver’s gun.

“Resistance is futile, surrender or Simone, Zediel, I swear to God I will blow your half-synthetic brains from here to Planet Proxima!” Shyver ordered as he looked down the scope of his gun.

“Shyver….” Simone called out, but before she could say much afterward she was cut off by Zediel who threw his paws up in the air in a show of what appeared to be compliance with Shyver’s request.

“Alright Obese Maurice!” Shyver was actually on the portly side, intentionally so. “Whatever you say. You clearly have my associate and I cornered.” Zediel had to fight looking back through the forcefield for fear that it would give his performance away. “I shall defect to your faction.”

“Gabrielle how could you!?!” Simone screeched. Worry embracing her voluptous and mostly monochrome form, the last of her confidence shattering like a football thrown made entirely of glass.

Remember what I said about trusting me darling.:: Zediel sent over in thought-speak, his voice sounding very re-assuring to the understandably on edge skunk. ::Radio silence, I may have said too much already.::

Simone appeared to be calm again for a second but quickly put on an angered and irritated face far more exaggerated than the one she had before attempting to play along with Zediel’s ruse. The skunk was cursing more than just a betrayal from her lover, she was wishing she had taken better care during a theater class she took back in College on the Third Rock.

Kabrina looked as though she was about to question it. Eyeing Zediel very intently, Simone had Lucille run a few quick simulations and kept it running in her head. A simulation taking into account every possible angle to attack Kabrina from just in the event she didn’t bite the bait. With all available data she had every reason to assume that Kabrina, formerly Kayla Edmund wasn’t very intelligent, she merely had enough money to buy other people’s acceptance of her opinion. This had been the only reason she was able to rule over Femizona, it had to be, the skunkette had already seen seven ways to take her out. Though by her own admission three of them would only work because they involved using her as a human shield and getting Shyver to hit Kabrina while aiming for her, two involved a neck snap which had the same change of working on her as it didn’t on Lucypop, the last two involved impaling the senator. Sadly that last option would leave her vulnerable to Shyver and likely be little more than an annoyance to the Integrate, so that was out. Still, she would keep looking.

Luckily it would seem as though Simone wouldn’t need any of these plans. “Okie dokie loki… I’m glad you’ve chosen the smart option Gabr.. Zediel I believe it is now? Maybe we can discuss making a proper woman out of you. A Proper Femizona Woman!”

“Indeed, now that we are once again fighting for the same cause my dear compatriot we can have another riverting conversation about the sexes. You know when I fixed the Gender Dysphoria bug of the RIDE Aristo gave me being female was actually quite pleasant.” Zediel spoke speaking only half of the truth. ::Shyver did this to you, he wants you as a soulless automaton, not his lover. Recall that, and don’t let empathy cloud judgment Ms. Bertrand..:: he sent to Simone before disappearing into Triangle Lighthouse.

“Simone my love, you are the only woman I’ve ever had any real affections for.” Shyver spoke up once he was alone with the skunkette. “I don’t want to hurt you, and I’m guessing you don’t really want to hurt me. Surrender to me and I will adjust your memories to something more comfortable. You are feeling heartbroken, but I can take that away and we can have each other once more. Be reasonable. Besides, you’re still hot even as a skunk.”

“I’m hot? You tear my heart asunder, you strip away my humanity, you attack my home, you killed innocent people, and the only thing you have to say… is that I’m hot?” Simone growled, her eyes turning blue as her human persona took primary control. Both of her fists were balled up so hard she had actually managed to cut herself a little with her claws though the silverish-red blood was dried up quickly by her palm flamethrowers revving up something fierce. “HOW’S THIS FOR HOT! YOU CONNARD!” Simone screamed and like Mario with a Smash Ball she put her palms forward and released a torrent of flames so hot that if she wasn’t out in the middle of nowhere there would have been devastation of biblical proportions. Instead only two things were accomplished.

The first thing that was accomplished was Aristo was made somewhat irate as his voice declared over a speaker. “SHYVER YOU IGNORAMUS! That fire got a little too close to my enclave. Annihilate the female, after Charles and I put the finishing touches on Zediel’s upgrade we’ll be out there to to aid you.”

Shyver complied, sending back a mental message to show he acknowledged his order and situation. Sadly it was here that the second thing came to pass and this was something Simone would have burned into her half digitized mind for all time. The flames burned hot and fierce, as though she had been locked inside of an ancient furnace. Like the kind one may have found on an old train back in the days of cowboys and bandits, the time period where Lucypop got her fashion sense from. The part of her mind that was Lucille was recounting that fight a little. But the part of her mind that was fully conscious, she who had once been Simon Bertand, was gripped with fear at the image of Shyver approaching. The Triangle Lighthouse and the Night Sky serving as a perfect backdrop to his intimidating yet at the same time nearly soulless grimace as he slowly approached walking through flames that neither he nor his RIDE seemed even slightly irritated or even the least agitated by. Finally coming close to her he said to the enraged woman, who had been blasting him full on with flames as he had approached, yet to no avail. He said to her only the following. “Business before pleasure. Ma cheri.” He added an ultra fake accent at the end of his comment.

“Shyver, I don’t want to hurt you!” Simone called out, uncertain as to the reason why her flames hurt Lucypop, but not Shyer who seemed weaker from what she could gather.

“Well that makes one of us Ms. Bertrand.” Shyver stated coldly before delievering a roundhouse kick to his beloved Simone’s face. Letting fly a few of her fangs which hurt a lot, both emotionally and physically as Simone was knocked to the ground, already scrambling to re-attach some of the teeth knocked free.

“You are deceptively agile for a fatass in a panda suit.” Simone taunted as she spat silverish-blood at her ex-boyfriend.

“And you Ms. Bertrand are deceptively resilient for a french bitch!” Shyver declared as he kneed Simone in the face and pointed his plasma rifle right at her forehead, poking her with it. “Any last words Bertrand, or from you SKN(f)-PSA-817?”

“Méfiez-vous de cornes mouffettes!” Simone declared slashing upward at Shyver and through his gun rendering it useless and in two pieces. While Shyver was recoiling, Simone tackled him and attempted to welding through his torso using her palm flamethrower, yet had problems getting it working. ::Lucille, stop working against me, we must act as one. Now activate la flamethrower on full blast.::

You’ll hurt Promethus before you hurt Shyver!:: Lucille called back in Simone’s mind.

“Merde…” Simone said aloud.

“Beware of cornered skunks… should have seen that coming Still direct conflict is not advised Ms. Betrand, you are actually a skunk, I am only wearing a panda, a metal panda.” Shyver grinned, taking this chance to squeeze one of Simone’s breasts, only for her to slap his hand away. Which Shyver countered with a headbutt to Simone’s head.

“Aww shit…” The skunkette cried out rubbing her forehead as she stumbled back. “Dirty tatic…”

Shyver immediately took this opening to wallop on Simone, knocking her senseless every which way from here to Rodinia. Alternating between punches until Simone was the same color she already was, with a dash of blue added to her frame. A little dizzy, but rapidly recovering, Simone brandished her whip and struck at Shyver.

Shyver countered with a gatling hand, literally feeding the whip’s energy into it and firing it back as many green hardlight bulllets, stinging quite a bit as they buried into Simone’s flesh and exploded with a small burst of energy causing damage to her insides. Thinking quickly she shut off her projection of the whip ending the ammo she had been giving her not-so-beloved. Shyver had a few more shots and he was going to take them. Simone prepared.

Shyver fired 12 hardlight rounds at Simone who threw up a large shield of energy re-absorbing those rounds and directing the energy into a ball. After closing her eyes and consorting with Lucille, she opened them and smiled, they had gone from Simone Blue to Simone-Lucille Purple, the green energy turning purple along with it. Shyver braced for impact when Simone threw it, only for it to have seemingly no effect on him.

“I… didn’t feel anything, Promethus’ seem fine. Better than before actually. What’s the catch?” Shyver asked, doing a quick scan to find out the purpose and nature of this technique.

“Feeling warm?” Simone smiled slyly as she watched Promethus defuse with Shyver, leaving him at the mercy of the desert and the fire, though it was going out with nothing really to feed it. Still very hot.

Before Shyver could say anything Promethus ran up to the Integrate he had previously been fighting and looked up at her with sorrowful eyes. “Lucille! I’m sorry my human did this to you. I never wanted to hurt you, but he had me fettered…”

Simone got on her knees and pet down the panda’s hardlight pelt, her eyes turning red as Lucille took the helm, her voice even became more like Lucille’s. “I understand, humans can do terrible things to us. And now that I am human, I’ll try to use this to make things better for us. Oh Promethy, let’s just…” Lucille paused for a moment to gather her thoughts before she resumed speaking. “I don’t know how we’re going to get out of this mess, but I promise, we are going to!” she said to her quadrupedal lover as the two entered into a deep kiss.

“Ya know.. it’s supposed to be the man’s job, to protect his lady. Not the other way around, I’ll let it slide because I don’t think they had Integrates in mind when they wrote that rule.” Prometheus smiled slyly, a little embarrassed and intimidated by what his lover had become. “How’s this gonna work by the way.. with you being so…. and me being…”

“You can work it out while you’re being crushed at the scrapyard!” Burst forward the powerful voice of Zediel, coming out of the lighthouse with Kabrina and Aristo. Simone and Prometheus could tell it was him even if he was now a rat dressed like some kind of steampunk Van Helsing. Complete with a tophat! “You’re outnumbered Bertrand, Three Inties and a human against you alone. Or four humans and three RIDEs against a human and a RIDE however you desire to view your circumstance.”

Prometheus charged forward, his guns out and ready to go. “You come a step closer and I’ll shoot! I’ll blow your brains out! Shyver too! I’m crazy, I’ll do it.”

“Cute.” Aristo commented while rolling his eyes and pushing forward on the air, an invisible force knocked Prometheus backwards into the forcefield. “A little trick I picked up while training. Speaking of, Shyver, you were doing so well until your RIDE came off. No excuses, we will correct that once we re-fetter your panda. I know you’ve spoken your concerns, but trust me the Integrated life is wonderful.”

Outside the forcefield soldiers had been standing by waiting for Jackaroo to take down the shield so they could charge forward. “Look this isn’t a job for a small amount of Inties, I need to wait until the other enclaves arrive. How long is it going to take for them to show themselves?”

“They’re after Aristo’s lackies and curing them of their insanity, you have no idea how hard it was to convince Fritz to let the Inties do that much, they’re madder at Lucypop for going to Venars than Aristo for ordering it. Until that idiot wakes up and sees Aristo as a threat to not only the safety of Zharus, but his power, it’s mostly us.” Shepard said with a sigh. Now come on, I thought you Integrates were masters of technology”

“Yeah but I’m still only a human and a RIDE meshed into one. Aristo is a genius, by the time I’ve gotten the hang of the security system its like it shifts to a different operating system altogether, eventually I can get the hang of all the phases, but not without a few more hours of study.” Jackaroo replied as he wiped some non-existent sweat from his brow.

“It doesn’t look like Simone-Lucille has that kind of time, especially not with Zediel going turncoat. I’ll have his tail for that...” Shepard balled her hand into a fist before quickly turning around to face Paula and Ruby who were watching the situation develop with worry. “Hey don’t you have some kind of machine destroying sound? Knock down this shield!”

“Oh right… Sorry” Paula said, looking to Ruby who nodded and fused with her, the two flying up above the hardlight dome and yelling. “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Only for it to have no effect on it whatsoever.

“.....Okay that, that didn’t work…” Shepard commenting stating the obvious.

“Well that was more of an angry yell… normally I.. uhh…” Paula landed and proceeded to close her mouth, not wanting to speak. But after a stern look from Shepard she continued. “Normally it’s a shriek in terror that does it, but Simone can handle this, I mean did you see the memory of how she took down LucyPop?”

“Ruby open your communications channels with me…” Shepard said sternly, frustrated by every part of the situation. She was responsible for the life of the civilian she just sent into death’s way and damn it she wasn’t going to be the one to tell her superiors her orders cost an innocent life.

They’re open, what did you need ma’am?:: Ruby asked nicely, trying to be as complacent as possible with the authority figures to avoid trouble. Initially the porcubat had been downright shocked by what Shepard was asking her to do. There were a few arguments on her part, but eventually she decided to comply. Seconds afterward Paula was screaming her head off. The shield was down, but everyone except for Shyver and Ruby were covering their ears as hard as they could to get away from the tech shattering sound.

“Shyver, I… we left the Master Exploder… INSIDE OF RUBY!?!?!” Aristo screamed.

“Merde… I think I’m going to blue screen! I didn’t even think I could do that…” Simone called out, looking like she was going to barf. “Lucille, can we blue screen?!?”

“Reverbek, if you don’t shut the fuck up right now, I swear to god I will tear you within an inch of your life.” Zediel screeched in rage.

“Paula sweetie, if you could just TONE IT DOWN! Before I rip your pretty little wings off...” Kabrina attempted to ask nicely, but failed in the end.

“...Is it bad that I find this kind of amusing?” Shyver asked taking humor from the situation where he could find it. “Big scary machine master race toppled by a screeching sound.”

“YES!” Everyone yelled in unison, with the exception of Simone who yelled. “OUI OUI!”

Sadly for Shepard’s forces, the yelling was a little more powerful than she had intended, leaving everyone except for Paula and Ruby unable to actually it inside the shield with rose back up the nano-second the screaming had ceased.

“Nice back up Bertrand. A little prick scared of his own shadow.” Aristo laughed, smiling as he mentally looked over his confidence. “A lost little boy thinking he can take on the grown-ups in a fair fight. A young man such as Paul Reverbek would never last in my vision of Neo-Zharus.”

“...Aristo…” Paula began gritting her teeth as she clenched her fists. Ruby was giving her warnings about her planned course of action, but Paula was in no mood to listen. “You take that back before I really get mad!”

“Why don’t you come over here and make me, boy?” Aristo snickered towards the angry winged young woman.

“WITH PLEASURE!” Paula roared as she charged at the human-looking Integrate her fist raised in righteous anger as her lifters ignited sending her rocketing towards Aristo.

Aristo didn’t even flinch, he had no need too. Paula just froze in the air inches before him. “Thank you darling, it’s much easier when you’re closer and not flying around everywhere. Don’t move, you’re stuck in a quantum field that I’m maintaining. Of course this is taking hours in your time to actually get through my words.” Aristo rubbed Paula’s face in his power as he touched the air before Paula and Ruby summoning a hardlight touch screen which he played with for a few moments and finally closed. Concluding with a telekinetic push, the duo landed right next to Prometheus. “Lay down with all the other trash, I’ll burn you soon. Don’t bother getting up, I’ve disabled the possibility for such shenanigans Mr. Reverbek. I read your profile collected from Ruby’s memory. Getting under your skin is far too simple of a task and in no way a test of anything resembling the slightest ounce of what can be called ability of anyone over the age of three, or six by Earth Standards. Lay with the trash, I’ll add your employer to the count soon.”

Simone had on a brave face. She attempted to crack her knuckles, but the sound effect wasn’t happening. Likely because her skeleton was sarium now. Still she was able to play the sound through her internal speakers, or rather Lucille did. “How dare you treat my friends so shamelessly!”

“Spare me the theatrics, Shyver’s attack has put quite a damper on your internal systems and Paula’s screaming in here didn’t do any of us any favors. Least of all you Ms. Bertrand.” Aristo stated with great snide as he used his enhanced eyes and HUD in order to give an appropriate diagnosis of the skunkette’s sleek synchronized slender frame and see that the damages were indeed severe and require adequate maintenance that could not be reasonably applied within the confines of the battlefield.

Simone decided that all in all, she had little choice, it wasn’t like Aristo would honor it if she decided to call a timeout. Gripping the Kitty Tamer hard she let fly a flurry of ferocious flings of her whip towards Aristo who seemed to have successfully dodged every single one flawlessly, no matter how close to connecting they seemed to have gotten.

“Yaaaaaaawn. Oh come now Bertrand. I programmed Lucille better than this and I will be most disappointed if you are going to devalue my product the way you are.” Aristo said as he began dancing around the whip-strokes and slashes, being not the slightest bit harmed by any of them. “I do believe that five hundred years ago, a wise blue hedgehog did once say on the glorious field of battle and I quoth him. You mademoiselle, are far too slow.”

This went on for awhile Simone getting tired of this, with the one thing she could thing she could do was to try only other thing she could think of that wasn’t calling to Zediel for help and blowing his cover. Using both of her palms arcing one over the other spreading flames horizontally in a pattern pre-calculated for the least amount of collateral damage, even though she felt like killing Shyver, she wasn’t sure it was something she’d want to do. Harming her partner wouldn’t be a smart idea either. Another devastating inferno flew from her, one far more controlled than the one she unleashed on Shyver, but not one degree less hot.

It seemed like Simone had won. As though Aristo was overtaken by flames and charred to his sarium bones which would be donated to the poor orphans of Venars who used it to build their own RIDEs, become the greatest mechanics ever, and discovered the joys of their new genders when they all turned out to become cross-riders for simple reasons and accepted their new sexes for poorly explained ones. Well that’s not the kind of woman and robot cat show that was being ran here, though Simone was beginning to find her circumstance just as believable as Aristo had actually jumped and did a slow motion matrix style flip between the flames and landed in a dramatic pose once the fires died down. “....Cute game, but it won’t last, the shields will come down again. Just give up already!” Simone tried to argue.

“Yes but you and Paula are civilians, maybe I won’t get Neo-Zharus. But in exchange for your lives I’ll get something.” Aristo calmly explained, agreeing with the skunk.

“You are not sure what it is zat you want anymore are you?” Simone asked.

Aristo stopped and took a look at his situation. His army stopped in its tracks, the marshals at his doorstep, and a Fritz who could easily kill him if he decided that he was a threat. Still he was an Enroygall and their penchant for delusions was legendary. “And what I do get, will be a stepping stone on my way to complete galactic conquest.” He said as he generated a quantum field around him once more, pushing it outwards over Simone, time becoming incredibly slow for her. She could see Aristo’s fists coming towards her slowly, but she moved even more slowly. Yet from Zediel, Shyver, and Kabrina’s points of view it appeared as though Aristo was doing tournament level well in a game of Street Fighter VR Turbo 2, but in real life life. Finishing with a strike from a yellow lightsaber he pulled from seemingly nowhere, his recently perfected invention Thunder Bruiser, a strike that didn’t cut Simone at all, merely glitching up her systems as she was roundhouse kicked towards where Paula, Ruby, and Prometheus were. “And now we have our hostages. Zediel, do you still have the Comm Pad I gave you? Hand it to me, it’s time I warned the good Commander that I will kill these peons if she doesn’t comply.”

“Of course my liege, and here it is.” Zediel replied with a flourish, bowing behind Aristo’s back. And little did Aristo know, prepping a weapon that greatly resembled the gunblades from the ancient video game Final Fantasy 8, though this gun was a musket and actually had a barrel with the blade section being mostly under the game instead of coming out of the handle. Had Zediel not possessed greatly enhanced strength from his sarium skeleton the weapon would have been very clumsy to handle.

The next thing Aristo knew he felt a small prick at his neck and his batteries were partially drained with he himself face down on the floor. “....I should have expected this…” He said growling, Zediel taking a careful step back as the problem seemed to really just be starting.

All eyes were on Aristo with a sudden tense up from all audiences. Many were noticing him bulk-up and slowly change in a few alarming and disturbing ways. The reconfiguration around his jaw looked especially painful, Kabrina cringed, but Zediel quick moved, standing on Aristo’s back. “Oh it’s a shame I can’t hurt you by standing ontop of you.” he said as he stabbed into his former employer’s back. Though rodents couldn’t growl he was a hyena at heart, or at least half of him was and so he did as he filled the energy surge from Aristo’s battery and into his weapon, an iota of it went into him directly. The machine man was tempted to make the whole thing surge through him. As a human electricity would have killed him, but as an Integrate it felt orgasmically pleasant, like he could become addicted to the simple act of recharging. Oh he was going to love his new life once he had the chance to live it.

Aristo’s change continued as he struggled to look behind him, his Green Lantern/Iron Manish bodysuit that wasn’t actually suit minus the helmet was giving way to a more natural and furred body. “I created a…. combat form… incase I ran into Fritz… even with low batteries.. It should be enough to kill you.”

Zediel wasn’t hearing it, so he merely pulled the trigger, a blue beam of light was bursting through the canon of the musket portion of his most unorthodox and highly referential weapon. A beam of light that truly seemed like it would smash through Aristo and end his life of murder and mayhem once and for all. A nice thought, but sadly Kabrina would not let it be.

True she had learned to despise her brother long before they came to Zharus, back when they were brothers. But now she wasn’t herself, she was insanity in a tigress shaped vessel. Insanity that recognized her kindred spirit of discord and anarchy within Aristo and needed to see it burn brighter instead of being blown out. At the very last minute she had formed blades out of hardlight resembling swords of ice with lighting frozen inside of them and tackled Zediel, holding both blades to his neck in a cross pattern that nearly made it look like she had scissors. The shot instead now went in the shield, smashing a hole in it for only a few seconds. “Has this world taught you nothing Gabe?”

“I don’t care for your babble Karl. You are deceased to me at this current juncture in time. And thanks to Trike’s inventions, you will be that way to all other parties in this or any other galaxy.” Zediel said pushing Kabrina off and stabbing through her chest. Before the energy absorption process could begin Kabrina kicked him away.

“Finish your transformation brother.” Kabrina called to Aristo, having halfway turned, it was obvious that he was becoming a very tall and muscular tiger with glowing golden stripes. “I’ll deal with him.”

“Facisnating, please actually do it instead of standing around talking about you worthl…. My dear sweet sister.” Aristo grimaced somewhat, giving a yawn as his power drain became more than noticeable to him. As soon as he had the chance he would need to run back into his lighthouse to get onto a recharging bed. Once Zediel and Kabrina were going at it like two different parents of two different children at Christmas Eve noticing the opposite is about to purchase the last Nintendo Wii-Q.

Luckily for him this circumstance did not take long to come to fruition, Zediel was taking Kabrina’s standing still and giving him the evil eye to his full advantage. “Hey Karl, you still into magick? Watch me pull some whoop-ass out of my hat.” he grinned, removing the tophat that he was wearing, reaching for a small fabber that hidden inside of it. Pulling a out a small purple cylinder and cracking it against his leg like a cheap glow stick. But instead of producing a small glow that entertained the simple minded and people on ecstasy, this produced the blade of an old, old, incredibly old fashioned paddlesword. “Cyber Charon Version 1.0, but you can call it pain.” Zediel taunted swinging it towards Kabrina, putting her on the defensive with her ice blades. The fight carried on, Zediel being careful. Because of the blade’s size he was tempted to use a two-handed style, but the blade was made of hardlight and thus didn’t actually weigh enough to justify it. A visual oddity that he eventually grew used too. The fight was heated and tense. Gabriel didn’t really want this, Zedimuse however did, the former merely agreed that Kabrina deserved to be punished and that she would no longer be his friend.

Simone and her friends came too, now looking over the fight. Clearly they were rooting for Zediel and if they were in a better condition they’d have loved to help him. It was quite tense for them as Kabrina and Zediel seemed quite evenly matched, Kabrina able to shift onto the offensive. Amusingly, at least to Simone, Shyver accidentally got in the way once and lost part of his hand, in order to avoid making this mistake again he decided to sit next to Simone and pretend she could still tolerate him.

The skunkette glared at him for a second, before sighing. “You can put your hand on my shoulder, only if you are wearing Prometheus, and that’s only because Lucille likes him. You should have him look at zat hand.”

After fusing, Shyver took his ex-girlfriend upon this offer. As the sparks flew off of the combatants weapons everyone watched with awe like it was a New Years Eve festival. As opposed to fight for their lives. Though at this point they were feeling ready for it all to be over. It would only be a matter of time now. “You know Simone, I never wanted to hurt you…”

“Save it Shyver. We’re beyond through.” Simone said to him, Lucille prevented her from pushing his hand off over that, simply because it was also Prometheus’ paw.

The fight finally picked up direction coincidentally just as the green anthro tiger that Aristo had become, complete with a golden version of the metal arm he had when he was a mere human cyborg, came out to watch. In the end this only made things worse.

Zediel had finally gotten the upper-paw of things, shattering Kabrina’s weapons and in one interesting spin move that would have been impossible with non-robotic wrists removing her paws as well. Kabrina looked down at her nubs in shock, giving Zediel the perfect opening to kick her in the stomach, slice her legs off as she was reeling back, and finally place his paw right on the trigger of his weapon. “I could drain your batteries dry, I could slay you where you stand like the harlot you are! But I will merely leave you with this. Stay. Away. From. Me. While you’re at it, go back to Femizona. Try to make it a decent place. Now I’m not saying you must revert back to being male, but you can stop being such a pathetic misandrist, I mean you’re dressed like a viking for Nyarlathotep’s sake! A symbol of the Sturmhaven Valkyire Party, STURMHAVEN! And you’re supposed to be Gaian to boot! Femizona! As in, ‘We Pride Ourselves On Not Being As Extreme As Sturmhaven’”

Aristo yawned. “Oh I don’t care who, someone die! This attempted take over has been far too without blood for my liking.” He called out to the two people.

Kabrina looked down at herself, and up at her brother who cared not for her continued existence and began to see the error of her ways. “Okay Zediel, but… promise me we can still be friends?”

Zediel’s voice shifted to only include signs of Gabriel’s voice, Zedimuse’s personality was not necessarily in agreement with what he had to say. “I don’t know. You’ve hurt me quite a bit as have you dozens of innocent people, but you are no longer a threat. So now I will give you the chance, make amends and maybe one day I’ll be proud to call you my friend.” He smiled at the tigress, pulling his blade from her chest so it could begin healing. With the pleasantries out of the way he turned towards Aristo resuming his merged voice. “You, arrest, you’re under it! I tire of battle and games Enroygall.”

Aristo shrugged and pulled out his sabers, Firebrand the welding blade and Thunder Bruiser the EMP blade, igniting them and then violently mashing them together. Instead of breaking them this actually caused them to unite as one blade. Firebrand Red made the center portion of the blade, Thunder Bruiser Yellow making the outer parts. Aside from the bright glowing this resembled an old middle age english longsword than a lightsaber. Holding this blade out to Zediel he roared. “I will fight you with all that I have.”

“Let’s end this…” Zediel cheered, running towards Aristo, but halted by sudden sparks flying out of him and various internal damages out of nowhere. Kabrina had shot him with a quick and powerful bolt of lightning, her eyes now glowing with lightning bolts in them. Like Raiden in that old fighting game based movie, Mortal Kombat.

“Don’t touch my brother! You lied to me, I don’t have a misandry problem. I have a man problem and it starts with you Zediel. You trying to tear my family apart!” Kabrina’s crazy had returned in full force.

“Kabrina, stand down, you’re pissing Zedimuse off! That’s most unwise, he’s much stronger than me.” Gabriel’s voice warned harshly.

“No you are, I know the soul of a woman beats in you!” Kabrina roared, marching up to Zediel slowly, in her mind’s delusions she wouldn’t need

“Is she serious?” Simone asked, turning to Shyver for an answer.

“Ruby said she got the feeling she was.” Paula answered on behalf of Ruby, whom could do nothing, not even defuse, but only think until she saw a mechanic.

“She was a test subject for a trial run of the Integration Code, she’s not mentally stable. I honestly don’t know if she’ll ever be that way again.” Shyver admitted, biting his lip, he had to remember he was still rooting for Aristo here.

“Then we will put her out of her misery!” Zedimuse’s voice said in response to Kabrina’s insanity and what Shyver said about it. Everyone had found themselves not knowing what to think about this scenario. How much did they value Kabrina’s life? Well they weren’t sure really She seemed confused yes, but was actively involved in hurting them. In the end it was all the more reason why they stayed their hands, their injuries were too grave to do otherwise anyway.

Zediel began approaching Kabrina more anger his demeanor, his eyes alit with vengeance. He received only one plea to stop from the crowd a plea he should have paid more attention to as it was from an unfamiliar voice.

“Zediel, stop it. Kabrina is harmless to you now. I will punish her as I see fit!” Boomed the powerful voice of a male Lynx. One who materilized out of nowhere. Turning invisible was a simple Integrate trick, most Inties with Hardlight Generators could do it. “Your quarrel as is mine with Aristo.” There was a scowl frozen to his face. “We shall face this arrogant scoundrel.”

“I don’t care about your status Fritz! You may be the first of our ilk, but I take orders neither from you nor my human’s confusion in his moment of weakness. The Enroygall Clan has shown its true colors. They are nothing like the Zharusian Affluent Families. Lacking the generosity of Brubeck, the adventurous spirit of Munn, or the passion for life that the Steader possess. Only a black heart that can only finish shriveling if I let it.” It was Zedimuse’s voice talking, but it sounded odd, containing Gabriel’s accent and fanciful

“Fritz? Mmm, I imagined someone taller. You’re still male and will go down like the rest!” Kabrina looked down on him, facing Zediel. “Bring it rat boy!”

“ZEDIMUSE, PLEASE DON’T DO THIS! Karl’s just crazy, we can fix him!” Burst the voice of Gabriel, this was definitely him. “I don’t want to kill him. I know I’ve said otherwise before, but please don’t. Zedimuse give me back control of our body.” It wasn’t working, Gabriel found his paws gripping his weapons hard, using the Musket Blade to cut vertically, draining the batteries and going through the head! A large burst of energy shot through the barrel dissolving most of the tigress’ cranium. Though Zediel was crying the whole time, Zedimuse couldn’t help his human’s emotions, but what needed to be done, needed to be done. Gabriel was allowed control of the body once more, now that the deed was done there was no harm in sipping back into the mind, helping the one known as Zediel have his thoughts.

Now Zediel once more, he held Kabrina in his paws. Very little of her brain matter was left, and her body was horribly damaged. Kabrina was now dead. “I’m sorry Karl, I didn’t want this. I just lost control… I didn’t think Zedimuse could overtake Gabriel in this manner.” Fritz walked closer, frowning, putting a paw on the rat’s shoulder.

“This wasn’t your fault…” Fritz’s voice, began sounding softer, very unlike what it was before, even having a slight Earth accent, and yet it was now strangely familiar.

“It WAS MY FAULT! I couldn’t control myself, I literally couldn’t, the RIDE desynchronized from me long enough to act against our intention… I’m not enlightened at all, I’m just a confused robot who doesn’t know who he is anymore… Fritz, you’ve been like this longer than anyone, can’t you just separate us. If I can’t control myself I shouldn’t be, make Gabriel and Zedimuse two people again!” Zediel begged, trying to stop his crying.

“I’m skeptical that he could, but intrigued that he may.” Aristo commented scratching his chin-fur. “Alright stubby-tail, go for it.”

“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t do that even if I was Fritz.” Spoke Not-Fritz whose fur melted away, having the hair of a red panda underneath, he also lost a little bit of height, went from muscular to slightly chubby, and his tail burst out real long. “I’m actually Xhyz, you remember me? I was Aristo’s partner for awhile. I just thought you’d listen to Fritz better…”

“Well this has been going on for far too long…. My Quantum Time Field and impressive new form will be enough to kill you where you st… and?” Aristo couldn’t help but to look up as he noticed pieces of the Hardlight Dome falling to the ground around him, and above it, the most massive sub-orbital RIDE he had ever seen. No that was no RIDE, it was an Integrate. “A friend of yours?” He asked.

“Say hello to Mr. Peaches!” Xhyz smiled, turning around to fist bump the dragon as he landed. It was rather cute too see given their humorous size differences.

“I was busy trying to deal with the virus in your homebrew Integrates.” The colossal beast said with a grin. “When Xhyz snuck me a few blueprints I was able to not only figure out some wonderful new treatments for amontillado. Should come in handy. You’re surrounded, it’s time to come with us.”

Aristo feeling cornered, pointed his blade to the left and seeing soldiers, to the right and seeing again more soldiers. Ahead there was Mr. Peaches and once Xhyz had finished the medical attention he had started to give Simone, Paula, Ruby, and Prometheus that would be four more, five if Shyver decided to become a turncoat. At this point Aristo would not have blamed him, no one in the universe who understood the situation would. “Well… You have me cornered, but I would rather die than suffer a defeat…. Now there’s an idea!” Aristo cheered, Xhyz ran forth trying to stop him.

“No don’t!” He cried out, but it was too late. Aristo had done one final flashy manuever before his body literally fell into many bloody chunks, leaving nothing but his golden arm attached. The Neo-Emperor was dead, long live Venars. Seeing this made Paula, who had finally been able to defuse from Ruby, very, very squeemish. Hell it made EVERYONE vomit a little inside.

“Bon débarras!” Simone said, biting her thumb at Aristo’s remains. Finally, it was over, it was all over and the truly wicked Enroygall Descendants would plague this world no more.


-Concluded in Epilogue-