Guard Duty

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A cry of pain echoed in the halls of the Olympia, Ashlin's screams drowning out the ambient noise. She thrashed about on a surgical table, held down by straps as the Apolakreon surgeons hovered over her.

<What's the situation?>

<Ashlin McHale, Eversor. Scheduled for muscular and skeletal augmentation. Body is in constant pain due to her body tearing itself apart. A drawback of her contract it seems.>

<Why couldn't her Officio handle her anymore?>

<It was her decision. Fubey went along with it after she begged him to let her go.> Surgical equipment was pulled in as the surgeons began prepping their patient. <They tried to convince her to stay but...>

"P-please make it stop-o-o-op." The girl's thrashing slowly waned as her strength faded. "I can't take this anymore..."

The fleshwrights grasped their tools as the preparations were finished. <Very well, if that is the task we were given, let's get to it.>


Ashlin woke with a jolt, her emerald eyes slowly adjusting to the light as her confusion waned. A tall, slim figure stood in the doorway, silhouetted by the sunlight seeping in. The rest of the girls immediately slipped off their hammocks, awake and standing in seconds.

The figure stepped forward into the quarters proper, her grey metal form giving off a gleam in the light. "McHale, what's takin' you so long?!"

"Oh, uh, sorry!" Ashlin slipped out of bed, her panty and bra clad body flashing as her steel blue armor turned over her. Stumbling over her clawed feet and feathery skirt tail, Ashlin quickly stood next to the other girls.

"When I say get up, I mean GET UP! Do you understand me?!"

The five girls all nodded with confirmation as the sleek, grey Ironform began pacing around the front of them. "My name is Lyssa Forax. I'm the head of this project and until further notice, you will answer to me." Her androgynous form watched the girls closely, silver-blue LED eyes glowing brightly. "The memorial project is very important and I will not have anyone running around without my say."

Maria coughed gently, getting Lyssa's attention. "Umm, permission to speak, ma'am?"


"What about Miss Stroud? She's the Eversor leader here, right?"

"Did I fucking stutter?" Lyssa quickly slid in front of Maria, standing nose to nose with the 6' 2 red head. "Unless otherwise noted, you will answer to me. If I give an order, you will follow it. If Leah gives you an order, you will follow it unless I say otherwise." Stepping away, Lyssa scoffed at the anger coming from Maria's eyes. "DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?"

The girls bellowed out a unified 'yes ma'am' as Lyssa stood in front of them all. "Very well. As was discussed yesterday, four of you will break into two-man teams and rotate 12 hour watch shifts. Maria and Edea will take the sunrise to sunset, and Ashlin and Natalie will take sunset to sunrise." Lyssa then crossed her arms, staring at the group. "Any objections?"

Natalie spat, gritting her teeth. "Why do I have to do guard duty with the coward?" She jabbed a finger towards Ashlin, giving the young Irish girl a quick glare. "She'd probably run at the first sight of trouble."

Lyssa stared at Natalie, giving quick glances to Ashlin as she spoke. "You don't get along with Ashlin I take it?"

"'Don't get along'? That's putting it lightly. I'd say it's more of a borderline hatred." She crossed her arms, scoffing at Ashlin. "You should've seen her on the few training sessions I've done with her. She's a waste of space."

"Well, there's a good reason the Warsmith sent her instead of someone else, and I intend to find out." With a quick turn around, Lyssa began to exit the sleeping quarters after giving one last quip. "Oh, and you'll still be doing watch duty alongside Ashlin. Disobey, and you will be punished accordingly." The door closed with a slam, making Natalie jump in surprise.

"That...that fucking bitch!" Natalie stomped her feet and clenched her fists, a look of frustration smeared over her face. "Why am I stuck working with Ashlin?"

Edea let out a long sigh, looking tired of Natalie's shit. "What do you have against her anyways, huh? Really, Ash has done nothing wrong to you, yet you treat the girl like she's less than trash!"

"Have you seen her fight? As I said yesterday, she can't fight worth a damn! I've trained with her before, to test my reflex augs, and all she did was block and dodge. She didn't even TRY to fight back!"

Maria stepped between the two girls, holding them at arms length. "Edea, I'll handle this, okay?" She turned to face Natalie, her eyes nearly drilling a hole through the grey eyed Eversor. "I told you yesterday, not to make me tell you to calm your shit." Maria narrowed her eyes, clearly angered. "You gonna make me tell you again?"

"No, no, I'm calm as all hell. I'm just pissed that I have to deal with HER every night."

"You want to disobey a direct order?"

Natalie opened her mouth to retort before clamping it shut. She pondered for a moment before turning to the girl she loathed. "You keep to your shit and keep your eyes open. I'll have no problems if you can AT LEAST do that."

Ashlin nodded her head quickly. "I'll do my best!"

"Well, you two," Maria yawned and stretched, pointing to the door. "Edea and I have to get started on our shift. Get some extra rest if you can, since you'll be on watch all night."

The two new night watchers nodded as Edea and Maria began their first shift.

The compound entrance's overlook, while simple by design, provided efficient cover and viewing for whoever was on guard. Six inch thick steel crenelated walls surrounded and protected the compound, and the entire top jutted out to deter would-be climbers and ladder attempts.

Maria examined the mesh catwalk, running her hands over the steel hand rails. "Hmm, decent setup they have here. Pretty open at the front and the mountains behind provide decent cover from the rear."

"You know people can still come OVER the mountain, right? It's not as if the rear is impenetrable."

Maria looked at her partner, a sly smirk registering on her face. "You would know how that feels, wouldn't you?"

"N-not while we're outside, please. I reeeally don't want anyone eavesdropping on our private conversations." Edea blushed lightly as she stepped forward, leaning on the railing. "Besides, I thought you didn't talk about that stuff out in the open?"

"Fine, fine." The tall redhead slid behind her shorter lover, embracing her over the shoulders. "You win this time, shorty."

The young magical girl couple stayed in their embrace as they watched the sun slowly make its way up the horizon. The rock and grassy plains ahead of them were silent, save for the mid-spring breeze and the rustling of grass.

Maria nuzzled her face into Edea's golden locks, taking in the scent of her hair. "I thought I was going to lose you, ya know."


"During Walpurgisnacht. I thought you were going to die..."

Edea rubbed her head against Maria's ample bosom, making the latter scrunch her nose. "We've been over this before, hun. It's in the past, no need to worry yourself over it, 'kay?"

"Yeah, but-" Maria gripped her pint-sized lover tighter. "-but even thinking about it scares me."

"Hey, I'm right here." The blonde Eversor held Maria tighter, lifting her head to look deeply into her Maria's eyes. A small, gentle smile rested on her lips. "I'm fine. Not to mention, if I didn't get hurt, we wouldn't be here, ya know?"

Maria held Edea's gaze for a moment before she, too, made a little grin. "Yeah...heh, I still remember how scared you were just to get those prostheses." She giggled as she brushed a stray lock of hair from Edea's face, giving her a coy, teasing look. "You were all like 'but what if it hurts?! What if my arm and leg take over me!?'."

Edea slid around, lightly punching Maria's chest with her still fleshy hand. "Stop making fun of meeee."

Maria chuckled, tousling what hair of Edea's that wasn't tied back. "I can't help it, it's fun to pick on you sometimes." Her expression then turned serious as she stared into Edea's golden yellow eyes. "Any word on your brother's condition?"

"No. Not for a while. Don't think word got to them that I transferred. I'm glad Kyuubey allowed me to keep tabs on my family, but it's hard when I'm away for a while."

"And with everyone recovering after Walpurgis, that's probably not high on his priority list...Miss Malal would have already taken care of it as soon as the transfer was final, I bet."

"I miss them, you know." Edea closed her eyes, resting her forehead against Maria's chest. "We lost so many..."

"I miss'em too. A lot of brave girls died protecting their loved ones. That's why we're building this monument in their memory." Maria held her companion close, the redhead's eyes watching the horizon. "As long as we keep their memory alive, we will never be alone."

Lyssa sat behind her desk in her private quarters, Nokota sitting in front of her. The light flickered on and off before Lyssa stood to smack it.

"Damn thing's been on the fritz for a while now. Can't be assed to fix it, with everything that's happened."

"So, what did you need me for, Miss Forax?" The nun fidgeted in her seat, her usually dark skin growing pale from nervousness. "Is it something important?"

The grey metal Ironform sat back down in her swivel chair, spinning herself slowly. "I have some questions and a request. The Warsmith told me the real reason you're here." Nokota squeaked, her eyes becoming wide and still. "So it was that big of a secret, eh? Considering what it is, I'm not surprised."

"Please Miss Forax-"


"Miss Lyssa, please don't let this out. It could jeopardize my entire operation!"

"No worries. I may not like meatbags like you, but an order is an order. The Warsmith gave the information to myself only. As long as you keep out of trouble, you should be fine."

Nokota breathed a sigh of relief, muttering out a breathy 'thank you' as she gripped her large, silver cross to her chest. "That's good to know."

"Now about your tasks around here..." Lyssa flicked her fingers, producing small streams of light that formed a hologram. "I want you to assist me with inventory and general control of this op." The hologram came together more clearly, revealing a list. Names of various metals, construction materials, and miscellaneous items scrolled by, some with 'ETA 6 Days' next to them.

"Inventory? But I'm here for negotiations. And my mission."

"Yes, yes, but you're not going to be sitting here doing nothing on my watch. I highly doubt you'll need to do much negotiating anyways." Clanging her metal fingers together, Lyssa closed the hologram list, staring intently at the young nun. "So, you have inventory duty. And whatever else I feel I'll need help with. Am I clear?"

Before Nokota could respond, a loud thump came from the right hand wall, making both girls jump. A louder thump and muffled shouting made them stand up, both eyeing the wall next to the Eversor quarters.

"What the hell is going on in there?"

The Eversor quarters were quiet, save for Natalie's exercise induced grunts. Ashlin laid on her hammock, drawn into a book.

Natalie jumped up from doing her push-ups, sweat dripping off her scantily clad body. " know, Ashlin, if you don't do some kind of exercise, you'll wind up getting flabby and weak. Why haven't you been doing anything? I've never seen you do any kind of exercise."

Ashlin's eyes darted up from her book, her eyes focusing on her companion. "Oh, umm, I really...can't do stuff like that." Her eyes darted to the side, nervousness overcoming her face. "I wind up getting hurt bad."

"That's because you don't do anything. Your body isn't used to exercise, of course it's going to hurt."

"That's not what I mean. I...get really hurt, like I'm out for a few days kind of hurt."

Natalie narrowed her eyes, not satisfied with the statement. "Because you don't do things properly." She trotted over to Ashlin's hammock, standing over the younger magical girl. "Or is everyone from the 17th like that? Weak, spineless, and unable to do anything on their own without fucking up?" Natalie quickly smacked the book out of Ashlin's hands, the book making a small THUMP against the far wall. "Or maybe, just maybe, it's just you."

Ashlin stared up into Natalie's eyes, her face contorting between anger and fear. "What the hell, Nat?" She attempted to get up to retrieve her book, only to be blocked. "Just let me read, please!"

The silver eyed magical girl stood her ground, moving to stop Ashlin from venturing forward. Snatching a hand that attempted to push her away, she once again brought herself nose to nose with Ashlin's face. "This is why no one wants to be your friend. You're too cowardly and can't even make a move against me."

Ashlin yelped in pain as Natalie twisted the captive girls hand slightly. "H-hey, that hurts! Stop it!" She tried to pull away, but Natalie's iron grip didn't relent. "God dammit, what the hell is wrong with you?!"

"You are, that's what. Always scared, can't fight back. Why were you even sent here?"

Ashlin glared at her agitator, her mind clouded in anger and her eyes clouded in tears. Without so much as a thought, she belted out a line that was uncharacteristic of herself. "Why were YOU sent here?! All the Tenth knows how to do is kill! It's not like they can actually PROTECT anything, let alo-"

Next thing Ashlin knew, she was sent across the room, slamming into the far wall next to Leah's quarters with a loud THUMP. She slid to the floor, pain shooting through her jaw as her eyes focused on Natalie.

"You do NOT speak of her like that, YOU GOT ME?!"

Natalie stormed over, her breath becoming ragged. She looked down upon the Irish girl, eyes filled with rage and words filled with venom. "YOU KNOW NOTHING! AND YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO TALK ABOUT HER. EVER." She kicked Ashlin's face, blood splattering from her nose. "I WON'T LET YOU INSULT THEM LIKE THAT!" Straddling the bloodied girls stomach, Natalie began laying punches across Ashlin's face. "I WON'T LET YOU INSULT -HER- LIKE THAT!"

Ashlin tried to block the blows, but only succeeded in pissing off her attacker more. In between the pain, her tears, and the blood, she saw a sight that she thought she'd never see; Natalie was crying. Her eyes were filled with fury, but covered in the familiar wetness Ashlin knew too well.

Before either could do anything more, the quarters door burst open, Lyssa and Nokota rushing in. They froze in their tracks as they spotted the fight in front of them.


Natalie stopped mid-swing as she spotted her superior and the 14th's emissary. She quickly bolted to her feet, leaving the sobbing and bleeding Ashlin on the floor. "This isn't-"

Lyssa's eyes glowed bright as her digitized voice filled the room. "I WANT TO KNOW WHY YOU ARE BEATING ASHLIN'S FACE IN. RIGHT NOW."

"I, uh, we just-"

Lyssa stormed forward, nose to nose with the black haired Eversor. "STOP YOUR GODDAMN STUTTERING AND GET TO IT!" Glancing over to Nokota, Lyssa motioned towards Ashlin, the stunned nun quickly tending to the bloodied girl.

"Sh-she insulted a friend of m-mine! I wasn't gonna stand for that!"

"So you felt it was necessary to beat her face in!?"


"No. You're coming with me and you're telling me everything. Now." Lyssa grabbed Natalie's arm and began dragging her away. "Nokota, take Ashlin and get her cleaned up. I'll want to talk to her too."

"Yes, Miss Forax." Nokota helped Ashlin up, some of the still fresh blood smearing her outfit. "Come on Ash, let's get you fixed up, 'kay?"

"So, what happened Ash?" Nokota gently wiped the blood off of Ashlin's face, careful to avoid her broken nose. "Why was Natalie hitting you?"

Ashlin sobbed in pain, wincing from the pressure. "I th-think I said something bad about her old friends." She took a deep breath, calming herself through the pain. "I didn't mean to upset her..."

Both girls stayed quiet as Nokota finished cleaning the blood and spun Ashlin to face her. "This may hurt a little, okay?" She grabbed her oval choker Soul Gem, focusing the magic through her hands to heal Ashlin's nose. The girl cried out as the bone and tissue slowly healed back together. "There, all done~. Can you breath better?"

Ashlin nodded, staring at the floor of the general supplies building. She wiped her tears away as she took another deep breath. "Did I do the wrong thing?"

"The wrong thing? No honey, no." The nun pulled Ashlin's bangs aside, gently patting the girl's head. "But I do think you could've went about expressing your anger a little different."

"Yeah, but...but every time I get angry, I cry and want to run away."

Nokota pulled Ashlin into a hug, holding the girl tightly. "Everyone does that from time to time. No need to worry yourself over it, okay?" The two then sat in silence, a somber air taking hold of the room.

"...Nokota, am I a coward?"


Ashlin looked up into Nokota's blue eyes, tears coming up into her own again. "A-am I a coward?"

Nokota chuckled gently, wiping a few black bangs from Ashlin's face. "No, I don't think you are. You stood up to Natalie last night and you did SOMETHING to make her hurt you, so you're obviously not willing to run away."

"But why do I feel like I'm still a coward? I thought when you contracted, your wish came true?"

"Oh? What was your wish?"

"...I wished to be as strong and brave as my dad..." Ashlin began to sob as her few memories of her father came to her mind. "I-I've always been scared of everything; but my dad, he was the strongest and bravest man I knew."

Nokota thought for a moment. "Maybe he wasn't as-"

"No! You're wrong!" The emerald eye Eversor glared at Nokota. "My dad is the bravest a-and he...and he..." Her sobs grew greater, drowning out whatever words she wanted to say.

Nokota just smiled as Ashlin began to cry harder, burying her face into the nuns small chest. "It's fine Ashlin. Just let it all out, okay?" She gently stroked Ashlin's hair, the young Irish girl muttering lightly to herself.

"Daddy...I miss you."