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Extended Business Trip [Arknights/Youjo Senki (Manga)]

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by NTR Commissar, Aug 28, 2022.

  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 4 - Финал
    NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
    Likes Received:
    No, no… What was I going to do now?

    As I drove, I pulled the hoodie off of me and tossed it out the window. The mask quickly followed.

    Where was I going to go now?

    Was I to just keep driving and hope to find another police holdout? But the one I had accidentally breached looked like they were barely holding on, anyhow.

    Even if I hadn't just rammed a hole in their barricade, I would never have gotten past the fighting to get the medical attention I needed.

    Was the whole city just overrun by these crazy Infected now?

    I gasped.

    Shit! I shouldn't have thrown away the hoodie and the mask!

    If this city had fallen to these masked bandits, then the MPs had bigger things to worry about. How could they spare the men to chase me down?

    It would have been better to keep wearing the disguise.

    I considered turning back to retrieve them, but I didn't relish getting back into the cold, not while I was getting increasingly dizzy. I was sweating profusely too, which would be just awful in the wind. Instead, I curved my beaten-up truck into yet another small street in the hopes that nobody would see me. There had been another barricade in the way, as well as a complement of masked guards, but I didn't let that stop me.

    I spun up another defensive shell, which shattered in a rain of light. My truck was probably in worse shape than ever, but the roadblock shattered too, along with everyone in the way. I was a pacifist at heart, and I abhorred the wastefulness of killing, but these scumbags attacked me first.

    The sky was getting darker and darker, and it was starting to thunder ominously. My limbs were starting to shake. It was getting so cold. How much was the blood loss, and how much was the weather? It was winter, so it was hard to be sure, but I was potentially badly short on time, and I had no reliable options. A scream threatened to escape me. I knew, I knew I should have stayed away from these fucking Russies!

    What was I supposed to do now? I was struggling just to keep my eyes open. That part was definitely blood loss. Even if I was willing to risk healing myself with magic, I didn't know what went into medical formulas at all, let alone how medical professions cast their Arts on Terra.

    I took a shaky breath. What was my plan again? Where was I driving to, anyway?

    I pressed my foot down hard on the gas, even though I didn't know where to go.

    But if I did know where to go, I would want to go there fast, I surmised, so I pressed my foot down hard on the gas.

    I drove and drove, weaving through the city, hitting some things, sometimes people. My truck was in the same shape as me by now, but I didn't care.

    Smashing through my fifth barricade, I broke through into some sad-looking park. I had to do some swerving to avoid the trees, but it was easier than flying.

    If I was a Chernobog hospital, where would I be?

    When I broke through a copse and saw more of those Infected exchanging Arts with someone, my heart skipped a beat.

    Was it the police? Even a battlefield Medic would help.

    Not bothering to slow down, I hardened the front of my shell into an active barrier. Police were supposed to prioritise civilians, but they didn't always. Right, and I wasn't in Lungmen either. This was Chernobog. As a foreigner, it wouldn't hurt to grease the wheels a little by lending a helping hand.

    The hooded idiots were so busy hollering and chasing the MPs out onto the road that they didn't even notice me until I was upon them.

    I blinked groggily. The sixth or seventh rioter I hit was the one to finally bring down my defensive shell. He bounced off it and slammed into a friend with a crack. The eighth, ninth and whatever had rebounded off my bumper onto the asphalt and were run over by the wheels as I spun my shell back up. I immediately regretted it as the bumpiness hurt my stomach, but there was no option but to keep going. Flames passed harmlessly over the surface of my shell as I continued to drive through.

    I was already in a foul mood from the pain. When I spotted some white-haired brat looking like he was having much too much fun at my expense, I curved the truck around magic attacks and aimed for him. I had only just knocked the little hoodlum into a street light when I sensed a projectile shatter my shell.

    A fleeting spark of wakefulness shot through me.

    Enemy sniper?!

    It had come from my eleven, I was sure, so I snaked the truck down the street, and more collapsed than climbed into the passenger seat.

    …What the—? Who were those people?

    That wasn't the police. But, some of them were wearing Star of Life armbands, so good enough! I was going to convince them to help me and then I'd be saved.

    Mind made up, I drove in a haphazard zig-zag towards them.

    "Move! It's coming this way!" shouted a man.

    "I'm a friendly!" I tried to yell, but I was having trouble getting it out.

    Instead, I let the truck sandwich another rioter between its bumper and a building, and after fiddling with the handle I fell out of the door.

    "Civilian! She's bleeding," said a blonde knightess.

    "I can pay you," I wheezed, casting a new shell around myself.

    " I'll do it," said a Vulpo wearing a Medic armband.

    Two Guards dragged me around the corner while their Snipers provided covering fire, and the nice Vulpo followed. My defensive shell shattered again, regardless.

    "The Commies are sniping at us," I explained. "Where's the artillery?"

    "Is she still casting?"

    "She's showing signs of haemorrhagic shock."

    "Into this building, now!" exclaimed Bearded Man. He looked like Adam Jensen, from that niche PS3 game I played.

    "Dim Needle, put her down here."

    I missed some of the conversation, but tuned back in when the foxgirl tried to strip me. I never understood the appeal, personally, but I let her do as she wanted.

    "This is an Originium Shard!" said the Medic.

    "I need the Originium Shard to stop my bleeding," I explained.

    They removed it despite my protests and put it in a bag. The Medic used her Arts to stop my bleeding, which explained why they took my shard. I didn't feel much better, but I wasn't going to die now, she explained.

    There was some discussion of what to do with me, so I told them, very clearly, that I could pay them. I said it again, just in case. The woman who stabbed me earlier hadn't understood.

    "Take me with you. I can pay you," I said again.

    I wasn't exactly rich, but I had money. I had money because I was saving up money for something.

    I blinked, and then I realised I was being piggybacked. I didn't know why I kept missing conversations.

    "We'll protect you. Can you cast your Arts again?" asked a young Cautus.

    "What Arts?" I asked.

    "The Shield Arts," she explained gently.

    I thought about it. What Shield Arts?

    "She's still starved of oxygen. Give her some time," the Vulpo clinician said.

    My mind raced. Of course. I had been casting an Arts inspired by my passive shell, earlier.

    "If you can get me out of here, I can do so," I said resolutely. "I've cast it just now."

    "How far can it cover?" asked Jensen. Right, it wasn't visible right now. "Is it designed for single targets?"

    "Of course," I said. "But I can expand my defensive shell to cover more. It just weakens it."

    "She can cover a small group then," a man in a face shield said. "Medic hurt her foot, and I'm not in the best shape right now, so we'll bunch up with her ."

    "Dim Needle, can you keep carrying her?" asked the young Cautus.

    My ride nodded. I forgot I was being piggybacked.

    Face Shield turned to me.

    "Please keep your shield up as much as you can, Miss…?"

    I stared.

    "Ah. My apologies for the late introduction. I'm Tanja Müller, from the Lungmen branch of Coopers & Harding."

    I tried reaching for my business cards, but I couldn't do so without falling off.

    "It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm the Doctor, and we're Rhodes Island, apparently a pharmaceutical company. This is Amiya, our CEO." The Cautus girl smiled at me. I loved CEOs. "And these are… Err, the rest of the introductions will have to wait until later."

    Smart. Time was of the essence right now.

    He turned to the knightess, who nodded respectfully.

    "I'm Nearl, Doctor. I'll stick with you in case Miss Müller's shield breaks."

    Wait… Pharmaceutical company? So who were all these fighters then, their security contractors?

    This was some protection that Miss Amiya hired.

    I didn't know how many were still fighting outside, but there were over a dozen people just in this room. Many of them moved like well-seasoned veterans.

    I'd heard that competition between Columbian companies could be cut-throat, but hiring a whole mercenary platoon was something else.

    I couldn't help but wonder what kind of mess I had gotten involved in.

    At least they seemed happy to bring me along for my shield. My earlier choice of protector was the Ursus Military Police, who would at least pay lip service to protecting civilian foreigners, but I could do transactional relationships too. If I was being honest, it was my preference. The mutual benefits of clear-cut give and take were simply more reassuring.

    The mercenaries hastily signalled each other, before a number of them dashed out the door, opposite to the one we entered from.

    I'd noticed for a while now, but these passive shells were taking a lot less out of me than I might have expected, considering my stab wound. A lot of the energy was being provided by the Arts Unit itself, so I was only expending what reserves were required to direct it. Was it going to run out of energy soon? I realised I couldn't read the interface. I hoped it would work until we reached safety.

    Hm. And I had been noticing the haze over my thoughts for a while now—so it was probably only moderate blood loss—but I was managing to cast my shells fine. As long as I kept this passive shell up, they wouldn't dump me on the streets somewhere. And even if they did, my bleeding had been closed up, so I wasn't going to keel over any minute.

    "All right, let's go," the Doctor said, and with that my group filed quickly out the same exit as the earlier scouts.

    Outside, it was just another drab Chernobog street, but cars were on fire here and there, as well as the odd tree. Maybe I was feeling giddy, but the fires felt a little festive. Very Christmas-like. It was fantastic.

    Ow. The jostling from my ride's footfalls was hurting my gut, so I clung more tightly to reduce the shaking. It helped with the freezing cold of the wind too.

    Ahead of us, the Guards and Vanguards were already making short work of the opposition. A few Infected Casters managed to slip attacks our way, but they passed harmlessly over my shell like water over a boulder.

    To be honest, after the mayhem from earlier, my greater challenge was staying conscious. The sniper fire hadn't returned, so without the urgency it was harder to remain awake.

    After a few turns, we made it past a large warehouse, and then around more dull apartment buildings. There was only light resistance in the form of those masked Infected. It had only taken the first few exchanges for me to learn that this mercenary group was leagues ahead of the Infected rabble. Considering how impoverished the Infected had to be, it stood to reason that the westbound group I'd spotted from my hotel room were the outliers instead.

    "The pressure seems to have eased," said Nearl. "Have they retreated?"

    Wait, Nearl like the family of Kazimierzan war heroes? From my ride's back, I shot our rearguard a glance. So this was one of Kazimierz's famed pegasi.

    "Their commander was the thousandth victim of Ursine driving this month," said the severe Perro with the whip. Dobermann. "He's probably headed for the hospital, if Reunion haven't burned them all down."

    "The police are guarding them as part of the evacuation process. I was helping them do so earlier," Nearl said. "I doubt the Imperial Guards will let Reunion through."

    Nearl's demeanour reminded me of von Edelreich, somewhat. Lt. Colonel Deborah von Edelreich had been the officer leading Romel's Hauptquartier-Kompanie. In her twenties, she was already one of the Reich's five aces of aces, and for her kill count she was bestowed the alias 'Sword of Light'.

    This Nearl was much less harried, probably because this Doctor didn't have Romel's penchant for charging the enemy frontlines, but through the fighting she reminded me of von Edelreich's gallant, unthinking desire to protect others. Or children of the Reich, at least. Truly selfless people could be blinding in their brilliance, sometimes. While I had no desire to follow in their foolhardy steps, I was more than happy to give them due respect, especially if I was their beneficiary.

    Although given the Light Arts she had displayed so far, perhaps von Edelreich's alias better belonged with Nearl.

    "Reunion have their own Medics," said Medic. What naming sense. "I hope we don't meet that boy again."

    The conversation stalled for a moment when there was more contact with the enemy further ahead, but the commander named Ace had it in hand. We never even got to see the fighting.

    I let my heavy eyelids drop, just for a moment, and rested my face against my ride's hair.

    Lavender, coffee, and smoke. Hmm.

    I faded into the scent.


    "...meaning that there's no escaping the Catastrophe now," someone said. "Not for Chernobog itself, at least."


    Through pure discipline, I forced my eyes open and then squinted.

    I was outside… No wonder it was so cold. Ah, and now I was registering the smell of burning rubber. A lot of people in techwear and paramilitary equipment were running somewhere, and I was being carried by one of them. Her hands were wrapped tightly around my buttocks, actually, because I probably would have fallen off otherwise.

    Right, the pharmaceutical company. And they hadn't thrown me to the roadside when I stopped casting my Arts. I could still hear distant screaming. Thank goodness for the soft-hearted.

    "There's another group of Reunion up ahead, but it isn't far until the rendezvous point," someone said.

    "We're making good time," said Nearl from behind me.

    From up ahead, Dobermann jogged back towards us.

    "One of the southern exits is just ahead," she said. "Instead of the usual, we'll be taking turns descending by VTOL, which will ferry us to our way out of here."

    "Has there been any word from the recon team?" asked Miss Amiya.

    Dobermann's brows creased, and she shook her head. A delayed rendezvous was hardly surprising, considering how many Reunion members we fought to get this far. Well, they fought, I suppose.

    Miss Amiya's expression lightened a little when she saw me watching.

    "You're awake. Are you feeling better, Miss Müller?"

    I smiled politely and nodded my head.

    "You can rest assured that I'll contribute a fair share to whatever you're paying these mercenaries."

    For some reason her eyes widened a fraction in blank bemusement, before some sort of realisation passed across her face.

    "We're not mercs," Dim Needle said from beneath me. To be honest I'd forgotten about her again. Glancing down I saw a black rapier at her waist. A more creative name than Medic, at least.

    "Everybody here is an Operator employed with Rhodes Island," Miss Amiya said. A hint of a smile had formed.

    My eyes passed over Dobermann, Nearl, and then Ace in the distance.

    "They're very highly trained," I praised. "The Doctor said you were a pharmaceutical company, so I didn't realise you diversified into private military work as well."

    "Ah, we really are mostly just a pharmaceutical company," Medic chimed in, "but our specialisation is the treatment of Oripathy. The nature of our work… means that sometimes we go where public safety is poor, or even to dangerous conflict zones."

    "You specialise in Oripathy?"

    "We support the Infected wherever they might be, however we can," said Miss Amiya. "Some of the best treatments for Oripathy available were pioneered by Rhodes Island, and we hope to one day find a cure. The Doctor used to research just that."

    The Doctor puffed up a little.

    "A messy, but worthy line of work," I said with some admiration. Many local governments were willing to pay a pretty penny to offload the Oripathy question onto somebody else. Offering treatment was more dangerous than simply developing the drugs, but I could respect those who dealt in high-risk ventures. So long as they could chew what they bit off. So far, I had seen no reason to doubt Rhodes Island's ability to do so.

    It was inevitable that I saw Miss Amiya in a new light. Clearly there was more to her than just the soft-spoken girl. It wouldn't be my first time meeting a frighteningly competent teen in this world, so I made a note not to underestimate her.

    "Miss Müller?"

    I turned.

    Medic half-raised a hand and looked at me hesitantly. "How much do you remember about how you got here?"

    For a moment I didn't comprehend, but then I remembered. My stomach sank.

    How could I have forgotten?

    "We can diagnose you when we're back at our headquarters," Dobermann said not unkindly. ""We're not heading to Lungmen, but we can let you off at our next stop after testing, and you can find transport back from there."

    "If the results aren't favourable we can offer a prognosis and treatment plan too," Medic added.

    "That sounds… excellent. I can definitely pay," I managed to get out. "Do you… Do you know what my chances are?"

    Medic's ears twitched. She shook her head. "We can't answer that reliably until we've tested you."

    I suspected that they could, but she was equivocating for my sake. I grit my teeth and refused to make a scene. I still had the pride not to throw a tantrum in front of a group of fellow professionals.

    "Even if you can't pay upfront, we can work something out," Miss Amiya added.

    I closed my eyes. Absolutely not a simple teenager if she was already setting up the field to later take advantage of my fragile mental state. A skilled diplomat knew when to push and when to pull, and Miss Amiya had just been subtle enough to avoid alerting a less experienced negotiator.

    I was grateful to them for saving my life. That did not mean I wouldn't take care to stop my negotiating position from weakening further. On the contrary.

    The walk through the last of the outer district residential area was made in silence. The merce—the security team seemed like a straightforward lot, so they were probably being considerate of me. As for the executives, Miss Amiya and the enigmatic Doctor, their intentions I was less sure of.

    I wasn't a huge fan of this sort of psychological sparring. There had been plenty enough in C&H, especially the higher up the rungs I climbed. Londinium was occupied by Kazdel during my early days at the company, enervating our head office. Our infighting had only grown worse since.

    The jockeying for influence was why I was in Chernobog, in fact. Getting a foothold into the Ursine markets would have checked the growing ascendancy of the Columbian branch.

    Soon we were reaching the perimeter of the agglomerate Chernobog city. Some of the Reunion groups we met along the way even let us through after it was clear we weren't Ursine military. I suppose any army could suffer uneven discipline, let alone a terrorist insurgency such as this.

    "How is your stomach feeling?" my piggybacker quietly asked me. It was perhaps the first thing I heard the taciturn woman say since we left the building they treated me in.

    "Better. Thank you for carrying me."

    I wondered if she was going to say anything else, but we allowed ourselves to lull back into silence.

    As we left the central regions of the docked subcity, the mixed residential-commercial zone gave way to shipping warehouses, industrial facilities, and other businesses built around the southern port.

    It had been a while since we had last encountered further opposition. Out here it was just empty streets, although here and there I noticed the signs of a work day half abandoned. Crates or tools left lying here or there, sometimes a forklift left out in the open with its cargo still loaded.

    Dobermann had run off ahead to rejoin the team she was responsible for, while Nearl stayed to protect our party. I glanced up at the sky. What was it they said about a Catastrophe again?

    I didn't need to ask, because Miss Amiya commented on the same thing.

    "The Catastrophe is coming soon. I hope most of the civilians were able to safely evacuate."

    "They were well underway when I left to rejoin you," Nearl said. "Many of them should have already left Chernobog."

    My eyes returned to the skies. So this storm was a Catastrophe. With the way predictive technologies and methodologies had advanced over the years, I'd never seen one before. I imagined most people hadn't.

    That made the situation all the more odd. This close to the edge of the city, it was clear as day that Chernobog's megatreads were stationary. Whatever conspiracies were behind this, the result was that this city was about to be hit with disaster.

    If it hadn't been for Rhodes Island, I would have been left for dead, if my blood loss didn't claim me first. We all knew it. Miss Amiya simply brought attention to the bargaining chip. There was no explicit agreement between us, but ignoring this life debt would lose me a lot of face, and in a place like Lungmen, that was more than enough ammunition for my rivals.

    "I would have been in a lot of trouble if I hadn't met you," I said, to make it clear that I would play ball. "I intend to repay this debt."

    The Doctor seemed to regard me curiously, while Miss Amiya shook her head.

    "Helping people is what we should do," she said politely.

    My smile was sardonic.

    "You have my admiration, Miss Amiya."

    The embarrassment on her face was convincing and well acted. This girl would make a terrifying opponent, I thought, but it was better to work with competent partners than imbeciles.

    Finally, at the end of the street was the edge of Chernobog. Built into the side of the district walls themselves were the air docks, as well as the massive freight elevators that every modern nomadic city boasted. The dock that I entered the city from had been bustling and noisy, audible even from the airport that I had alighted into. This one was abandoned.

    Miss Amiya trailed behind us as we approached. When I turned back she was gazing back into the city. I could understand the sentiment. If the missing Recon Team possessed the skills I saw demonstrated by the rest of this company, I, too, would be unwilling to lose them. When the market for labour was in excess demand, there was nothing worse than bleeding expertise due to turnover. Nearl and Medic gave her worried looks.

    "Scout is a true veteran of the Kazdel war," Nearl said. "His team will not have fallen without worthy cause."

    Miss Amiya nodded. "I believe in them."

    When we entered the interior of the southern wall through an industrial entrance, it was silent save for the hum of machinery. It looked like an empty warehouse or factory complex, with more abandoned industrial vehicles. A few cranes stood idle in the distance, while a small fleet of half-loaded freight trucks lay unattended.

    Across the loading bay from us, where the plexiglass windows stood, were figures in Rhodes Island colours. One of them waved at us.

    "That's Dobermann's team," Medic said with better cheer.

    When they were sure we had seen them, they began walking left into the next room, leading the way. As we passed by the windows, Medic stopped to watch in awe. Far down below on the untouched tundra, dozens of landships of different sizes were moving away from us, some so small they could barely be seen from here, and others as large as small suburbs.

    "Are these the civilians that managed to escape?" the Doctor asked.

    I'd never seen so many landships in one place. Day to day, it was easy to forget the majesty of human accomplishment that landships and nomadic settlements represented. From within, you could scarcely tell them apart from ordinary cities.

    "There aren't enough of them," Miss Amiya whispered.

    Nearl hummed thoughtfully. "More of the civilians might have left from the west. At least two of the hospitals were in the western subcities."

    "I hope so."

    We continued along the side of the room until we approached the door our guides disappeared into. Dobermann waited within with a small group of uniformed Rhodes Island personnel.

    From Dim Needle's back, I glanced around the room. Filled with surveillance feeds, it appeared to be one of the control centres for the port facilities.

    "You're here, Amiya," she said. "Team Ace is securing the perimeter while my team are keeping their eyes on the security footage. The VTOLs are down the stairs just through here."

    Dobermann gestured at a doorway, beyond which I spied a steel staircase.

    "We'll be taking turns being ferried, so you and the Doctor will be extracted first."

    "The wounded should go first," Miss Amiya said. I couldn't agree more. Get me out of here!

    "Our wounded operators are already aboard. The first flights are just waiting on you," said Dobermann.

    After a moment of hesitation, Miss Amiya nodded.

    "I'll take command of your team and ensure their safe extraction, Amiya," said Nearl.

    With that, it was time to depart.

    Miss Amiya took the lead, walking briskly down the stairs, while the Doctor followed, looking curiously about the hangar. Medic came along with us to help with the wounded aboard the VTOLs.

    "Come on, it's this way."

    My ride out of the city was a lot rougher than the one I came in on, but I was appreciative of the helicopter's ruggedness. We entered one of the four vehicles through the rear door. A number of injured personnel were already strapped into stretchers along the sides of the cargo bay.

    Dim Needle gently placed me onto a stretcher. I was strapped down next to a young woman who looked like she had been burned, but I turned my focus back to Dim Needle. To the disappointment of my curious side, the face beneath the goggles and scarf wasn't much clearer from the front.

    "This has been some eighteenth birthday," I muttered. Abandonment day. Same thing.

    Miss Amiya's ears twitched.

    "So it's your birthday too…" she said.

    I lazily glanced her way.

    "Maybe our next one will be better, Miss Amiya."

    She smiled, but it wasn't a happy thing.

    While my abdomen was checked over by Medic, the rear door began to close. If my ears weren't deceiving me, the other helicopters were preparing for liftoff as well.

    Soon after I heard the engines start up, we lifted off. The flight lasted less than two minutes before we landed. When it came time to disembark, I realised we were on an internal helipad of a much larger vehicle. A ground vehicle, because a quick glance upwards was enough to determine that we were deep within Chernobog's looming shadow.

    When we were transferred to a medical bay within the larger vehicle, I heard the VTOLs take off again, presumably to ferry the rest of the personnel over. The minutes passed by as I sat there amongst those both worse and less injured than me, alone with my thoughts. Unlike the helicopters that carried me here, the medical bay had a view outside.

    It wasn't long before we took off, the large treads of the small landship speeding us across the icy tundra, away from Chernobog.

    We had only been moving for five minutes when the sky began to fall on Chernobog. Stones as large as city blocks began to devastate the motionless nomadic city.

    Around me, gasps of shock and horror filled the medical bay.

    Well, there goes the mining proposal, I thought.

    I never wanted to come to this shitty city again.
  2. somnolentSlumber

    somnolentSlumber (Verified Proofreader)

    Sep 20, 2016
    Likes Received:
    I don't know jack shit about Arknights but I like Tanya, so here I am. Nice characterization so far.
    sagemo, Tacitus, Lost1 and 8 others like this.
  3. Deadsheep101

    Deadsheep101 Getting out there.

    Jun 2, 2022
    Likes Received:
    Was this Tanya's second life an AU? You casually introduced an original character in the middle of the chapter, I had to reread the paragraph to make sure. And a Lt. Colonel at that, so Tanya wasn't the 1st mage colonel of the empire, since you mentioned the African campaign. She was still major at the time.
    Rended likes this.
  4. Extras: For Arknights-Blind Readers: A Primer on the Setting
    NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
    Likes Received:
    Oh, err. So Arknights is set in the world of Terra, which is essentially a parallel Earth. There are a few things you'd need to know if you were going on vacation there:
    1. Terra is full of furries. From just regular humans with some animal traits, to full on Master Splinter and the Ninja Turtles shit. There are also fantasy races, like vampires, dwarves etc.
    2. Terra has its own counterparts to real world nations, peoples, and cultures. An example is the two royal lines of the Victorian Empire: the indigenous Dracos and the Aslans that invaded in centuries past. The Dracos, who are western dragon people, are pretty clearly the Terran counterpart of the Welsh and ancient Celts. The Aslans, who are lion people, seem to correspond to the Norman conquest of the British Isles.
    3. Terra is chock full of a substance called Originium. Essentially it's magical Tiberium, and people who are infected with it are treated about the way you'd expect AIDS-Cancer-Leprosy patients might have been treated in the 1700s (if such an incredibly awful disease actually existed).
    4. Due to mysterious Originium-related reasons, Terra is constantly suffering from major Originium-filled natural disasters known as Catastrophes. Thankfully, Originium also allows the people of Terra to pull off bullshit engineering feats like migrating entire mountains, so what all the advanced nations of Terra have done is put their cities on huge treads to run away lol.
    5. There are no conventional firearms on Terra. I've heard some people in the community claim that a developer has said that Terra has a different chemical composition to Earth, and therefore gunpowder, nitrocellulose etc. were never invented.

      They do have firearms, but they're really more like specialised magic wands that utilise the energy within Originium to launch projectiles. You don't just pull the trigger: you need to use Arts (Terran magic) to control the various ignition mechanisms within the firearm.

      Sankta (angels) are very, very good at using them, and their nation, Laterano (Terra's version of the Vatican) holds the monopoly on rifles and larger calibre firearms. Their version of the knights templar are basically dudes with huge guns.​
      An Apostolic Gun-Knight of Laterano
    6. tbh, Folinic is best girl​
    Actually, here are some official overviews of the setting, presented as an in-universe brief of the political landscape given by one of the main characters of the story, Dr. Kal'tsit, voiced by Hikasa Youko:

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
  5. NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    EDIT: Oh, von Edelreich? No, she's canonical. She's the older half sister of Special Major Hildebrandt, mentioned in Chapter 3. To be honest it's hard to describe her in a more memorable way than 'she's one of the five aces-of-aces of the Reich and is in charge of bodyguarding Romel'.

    EDIT2: Also aren't you the guy from AO3 that didn't like Tanya's reverse personal growth? I'm surprised you're reading it again! Hello, regardless!
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
  6. Renko

    Renko Demon Lord of the Sixth Heaven ~☆

    Jul 25, 2018
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    It makes me wonder why you didn't have Tanya to be one in the first place.

    Having her using a "firearm" especially some kind of long-ranged large calibre rifle just fits her fighting style!

    Are their anything special with the deer people? Or does Tanya have some kind of secret lineage that we don't know about!?

  7. Filo

    Filo Not too sore, are you?

    Jul 12, 2017
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  8. NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    I didn't want to get into the mess of Tanya being reincarnated in fantasy Vatican City after her whole thing with Being X.
    God, she's so good. I love how she's like 'What Hippocratic Oath? I'll kill them if they deserve it, haters gonna hate.'
    And the voice acting when she gets super duper angry that you're not taking her health advice seriously, and her trust tap is an apology for that, but she words it like 'I'm sorry for being harsh sometimes. But you know, you need to be aware that it's kinda actually all your fault to begin with. O-okay?'

    After some thought, I think I understand your confusion. They reveal that her surname is von Edelreich, but most of the time, she's referred to as Lt. Colonel Deborah, which is probably what you've remembered her as. I did write her full name in the chapter, though, so that's on you for not reading carefully.


    ...Yeah, she literally says so in the first chapter lmfao. I've set her up as the descendant as one of the nobles on the side of the Witch King during the Leithanian civil war. Mostly because Ebenholz is a descendant of the Witch King himself, so I thought it'd be funny to have Tanja think that she has it bad, but her secret identity is actually just kind of mid.

    Kinda like,
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2022
  9. Renko

    Renko Demon Lord of the Sixth Heaven ~☆

    Jul 25, 2018
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    I guess it is better that way?

    And here I was thinking that maybe Tanja got something that makes her special in the new world that she found herself in only to find out that she's actually just a daughter of one of the many nobles who are loyal to the previous administration of her home country.

    All she got now is her natural talents and her previous experience and skills from her second life...

    One thing is for sure, folks at SB and SV won't like how you"nerfed" their beloved Tanya....maybe.

    Just sayin'.

    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
    insertname099 and NTR Commissar like this.
  10. NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    I'll never post there anyway, so who cares lmao
    Al_CoffeeCat, insertname099 and Renko like this.
  11. Darik29

    Darik29 Verified Delicious

    Feb 20, 2013
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    Oi! Sb and SV wouldn’t be assholes over a quality Tanyafic!

    admittedly you will get one Hell of a lot more traffic than this area if you posted there, but thats mostly because of how big both sites have grown.
    NTR Commissar likes this.
  12. NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    Haha, thanks for the vote of confidence. It's very kind of you, but I think QQ's SFW traffic is just about perfect for me. I'll try and keep this brief because I'm not trying for a pity party.

    Some days I'm super proud of myself. 'Do you see that word count?! I did that! Last year I could barely manage 600 words!' On days like those, I think, 'Well, my writing is amateurish and has a lot of issues, but surely there's something to enjoy, right?' and I wish I had more traffic and engagement.

    On other days I just want to delete all my works, change my name, and go into hiding.

    My beta reader says this feeling will never go away. I hope she's just trying to scare me, lol.
  13. Gremlin Jack

    Gremlin Jack I trust you know where the happy button is?

    May 21, 2015
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    It's not an original idea. Philip Reeve had the very famous Mortal Engines books which he wrote in the early 2000s based on the same concept of mobile cities.

    I'm perfectly fine with the story so far. Tanya isn't about the cool magic and overpowered fighting abilities. Being Tanya is a state of mind.

    Your choice, but I'm pretty active on SB and I'd say this story is pretty good. Of course, going on SB will see you inundated with all sorts of idiotic 'do-this-cool-thing' suggestions (and salt when you ignore them), but there's also a lot of genuinely good advice there as well.
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2022
    Al_CoffeeCat, AshCrow, Reou and 6 others like this.
  14. NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    Yeah, I read them as a kid! The movie was a travesty. I think I've referenced ME and Chrome Shelled Regios when previously explaining Arknights, but here I thought a picture would work better.
    That would make a great forum sig.
    I know, I was a patron when you were more active, haha. 'Pretty good' is really flattering.

    Jacobk suggested I post to SB too, but I'm pretty active there so a username change wouldn't work in distancing myself from what I write. You're not allowed two accounts iirc.

    Also I haven't written much, so I'm concerned all the different opinions and advice would just confuse me.
  15. Renko

    Renko Demon Lord of the Sixth Heaven ~☆

    Jul 25, 2018
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    Everyone knows that QQ's SFW sections are dead! Why do you think some folks from SB and SV stubbornly post their non-NSFW stories there instead?

    But you know, with some minor tweaks here and there, NTR Commissar can probably turn this story into something more lewd enough for the NSFW section post it there too!

    Zreader and alanzilla like this.
  16. Lovhes

    Lovhes Getting sticky.

    Mar 11, 2015
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    I for one, think Tanja is not being very tanya. What's with the lack of missing points and talking over each other while thinking they're talking perfectly fine.

    That said, can't wait for more of this story!
    NTR Commissar likes this.
  17. NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    Thanks lmao! Are you familiar with Arknights?
    Darik29 likes this.
  18. Gigler

    Gigler Getting sticky.

    Mar 13, 2020
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    In my imagination Tanya looks smth like candle knight

  19. MasterNoodle

    MasterNoodle Invisible Lurker

    Aug 6, 2017
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    Pretty good so far, looking forward to seeing more! I anticipate funny moments when she interacts with the more eccentric characters of Arknights but that can be held off until there are a few more chapters out.
    Al_CoffeeCat and NTR Commissar like this.
  20. Pulsar232

    Pulsar232 My Ships Don't Lie

    Jan 9, 2021
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    Wait, this is the SFW CW forum?

    Huh, so it is. Accident aside, this is super interesting so I'm gonna see how it goes. Might make me finally play Arknights lol.
  21. al103

    al103 Know what you're doing yet?

    Feb 19, 2013
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    Even discounting big BIG problem that is saltpeter required for mass gunpowder use (which is probably what solidly killed idea on Terra with presence of alternatives)... There were air-powered sharpshooter guns in our XIX century. For Terra where mass-producing Originium air chargers is cheaper than organizing mass production of gunpowder it means that gunpowder weaponry would've lose race at stage two and so there were never financing of search for new explosives for weaponry. It also means that when you think about Terran airguns you should think M-16/AK-47 and not "meh, airguns" and Originium guns are even more powerful. Terran airguns are NOT joke or gimmick, they are exactly as murderous as our weapons and that's why Sancta manage to keep their Originium gun monopoly, alternative is not that much worse but useful for those that can't train as casters.

    It's rare case where "road untraveled" actually makes sense.
  22. Deadsheep101

    Deadsheep101 Getting out there.

    Jun 2, 2022
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    Oh, I still hold that opinion. Doesn't mean I hate your fic. It's well written.
    Idolatrine8103 and NTR Commissar like this.
  23. Delachonkl

    Delachonkl Ekrivin Delachonkl, quille de l’Élite.

    Jan 17, 2020
    Likes Received:
    HELL FUCKING YEAH !!! Fuckin’ finally, a proper Arknights fic on QQ !

    Now I’m even more motivated to start writing, but I also just started engineering school… fuck it, I’ll try to write a first chapter within the week. foolishness on my part

    Edit : checking Arknights fics on QQ again, there is more that last time I did so ? Meh, either case, I’ll await the continuation of this one with great anticipation.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2022
  24. Threadmarks: Chapter 5: 唔衰攞嚟衰
    NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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    "S-so I said… hic… Sonzai Ekkusumé! If I had a rifle, I-I'd shoot you right between the eyes."

    My life was over. My life was over.

    My life was over. My life was over.

    'Miss Müller?' said the young healer. 'I'm afraid I have some bad news.'

    "W-whoaaa~" slurred the Feline draped around my breasts. "You sure showed that S-Son's Eye guy who's boss! No... hic... surrender!"

    "Iwis, for whosoever tholes for aught larger than herself is, parfay, a hero," lamented Pallas.

    I didn't know what this Forte lady was saying, but I toasted her anyway. "Exactly! Prost!"

    "If I was… hic… If I was you, T-Tanja, I woulda given him the old one-two!" said the Durin hugging my other arm.

    "Believe me! If I could hit devils, I-I woulda done more than that!" I said. "I'd have c-crushed…! Hic…! And seen his sheep driven before me!"

    I waved a fist. Damn you, Being X!

    "You're so intense, T-Tanja," marvelled my new Feline friend. "Even Louisa isn't that… hic… that intense."

    Durin threw her empty beer can at the television.

    "Another!" she roared.

    The door slammed open.

    "Francine!" screeched the newcomer. "She's supposed to be on observation!"

    Francine's eyes widened and she smiled.

    "Louisa! Just in time!" she crowed. "We've got peanuts!"

    Louisa—no, Dr. Louisa, she was the one who diagnosed me—exhaled slowly and rubbed her brow.

    "I know you've had a rough day, Miss Müller, but I would give your injuries some time before partaking in ethanol. I came here to tell you that Dr. Kal'tsit is leaving for Lungmen tomorrow. She says that if you'd like to return, travelling with her might be your only chance to enter the city. By the time the Rhodes Island landship arrives, we suspect they will have enacted a strict lockdown."

    Huh? Lungmen?

    I blinked.

    "I thought we w-weren't heading to Lungmen," I said. It was the closest city, but there had been no such plans.

    Dr. Louisa nodded politely.

    "Some circumstances have arisen. Dr. Kal'tsit can explain tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I've had somebody set an alarm by your bedside." She paused. "I must ask you to return to your room in the medical ward. We've closed up your injuries, but you aren't entirely out of the clear."

    "G-got it," I said with a nod. Drinking was pretty bad for wounds. I guess.

    Suddenly Dr. Louisa's mild expression twisted into a glare.

    "And you…!"

    I winced as poor Francine was tugged out of her seat by the ear.

    "Owowowowowow! Louisa, i-it's going to come off!" she cried.

    "What were you thinking?! Not only do you have work tomorrow and training in the afternoon, but to drag a patient into this too?!"

    As Dr. Louisa manhandled Francine, Durin and Pallas could only look on in wide-eyed horror. I imagined I looked much the same.

    Right. Never annoy your doctor.

    "W-we were trying to cheer her up!"

    "Hah… You just… I'll deal with you later." She turned to me. "Miss Müller?"


    "Can you walk? I'll escort you back to your ward."

    I looked at my new companions, but they wouldn't meet my eyes.


    In the end I allowed Dr. Louisa to help me stumble out of the room. I probably wouldn't have managed without her.

    "Honestly, that girl…!" she muttered. Here, I wisely decided to keep my mouth shut.

    The hallways of Rhodes Island were wider and better decorated than those of the landship we arrived on. The floors themselves were more impressive, with sharp prints of their company logo set at regular intervals beneath glass tiles.

    It was a pretty fancy place for Infected to live. Back in Lungmen, they'd be living in a ghetto.

    "I'm sorry about what happened to you. My adoptive parents were from Chernobog."


    I raised my eyes.

    "My foster father hurt his arm in the riots," she said quietly. "They only just managed to get out safely."

    I frowned.

    "I'm… hic… sorry to hear that," I said. "Are y-you close?"

    "…Not particularly, but they treated me well."

    I guess that was how I felt about the aunties at the orphanage too.

    "It's not the end of the road, you know?"

    "Hic…! Pardon me?"

    "The Oripathy." Dr. Louisa kept her eyes straight ahead. "I've got it too. Many of us do. There are still paths open to us. We're more than just the illness."

    Yes, I could be a miner in an Ursine death camp, a counterfeit purse merchant in a Lungmen slum, an exploited cotton farmer in Columbia, or a petty shopkeeper in some Leithanian quarantine zone. So many options, I thought glumly.

    Better yet, I could be an employee on this landship that regularly drove towardsdanger.

    "It doesn't seem t-that way to me," I finally said.

    The rest of the walk back was made in silence.

    Before she left, Dr. Louisa showed me the display for the alarm clock.

    "It's set to seven hours from now. Dr. Kal'tsit will be departing at 7AM sharp, so you'll have a little over half an hour to wash up before she comes to find you."

    "Thank you, doctor."

    "Sleep well, Miss Müller." She nodded at me and left the room.

    I stared silently at the dark ceiling. The alcohol made it easy to drift off.


    When I woke up, the hospital ward was still dark, save for the dim light coming from the hallway outside. It was too early in the morning for most to be awake, so my room was quiet except for the hum of the medical equipment. The air was cool when I reached out from beneath the covers to scratch my ear.

    I didn't really need to be here. Their medical casters had closed my stomach up just fine after the surgery, and laying in a hospital bed wasn't going to help my— my Oripathy. I was otherwise fine. My gut was a little sore, which I'd been told was the regenerated muscle, but I wasn't even hungover, I noticed.

    They had me stay here, apparently to ensure I wouldn't be readmitted as soon as I was discharged, but I wondered if maybe they'd considered me at risk of doing something drastic. Perhaps others in my situation had done so before. As I'd learnt, many of the staff in this company were fellow Oripathy patients, so attempting self-harm for catching it would have been rather rude.

    My gaze wandered about the room.

    There was a small television mounted onto the wall near the door. A few other monitors were dotted around the room showing various medical data feeds, one of which I could see from where I lay. The last thing I wanted to do right now was stare too closely at a reminder of my illness, so I ignored it.

    I sighed and gingerly stretched on my hospital bed.

    At least the mattress was soft and smooth. I shifted to get more comfortable, as the floral-scented sheets felt like silk on my legs. It was nice, and made the place feel pleasant despite the clinical equipment. Not as good as home, but I wouldn't be calling that apartment home much longer, whatever my decision.

    I checked the time. 5:00AM. Still a little while until the alarm by my bedside was set to go off. I fiddled with the unfamiliar machine until that alarm was cancelled, and then crawled out of the bed. There was a small bathroom attached to the private patient room, so I put on the slippers they provided me and shambled over.

    When the door was locked and my clothes were off, I took a long look at myself in the mirror. Despite the life-changing Oripathy, I looked otherwise the same as this time yesterday, save for some bruises beneath my sternum. They had been affected by the Arts used to treat my stab wound, and were already turning green with decomposed haemoglobin.

    Dr. Louisa told me that I could expect to see black Originium markings form at the site of the wound over the next few weeks. There was no stopping the progression of Oripathy, not with the best drugs in the world, but it could be slowed. As long as I took my prescribed medicine, it wouldn't advance beyond that stage for a long while. With a shirt on, it would look like nothing had changed, but I was now marked regardless.

    I sighed and went into the shower.

    After fiddling with the control for a while, I managed to nudge the water into a comfortable temperature.

    I allowed the warm spray to hit me in the face while I thought about what to do.

    Paths open to the Infected…

    Yesterday, in the hours I'd been waiting on my lab results, I was given the chance to chat with the other patients and staff. All of them had been sympathetic, and more than a few staff members hinted at the possibility of recruitment. Apparently Rhodes Island was willing to hire all sorts, in exchange for treatment. Considering they were a prospective employer, it was inevitable that we discussed Rhodes Island's culture and history. To my surprise, Rhodes Island had only been around for a scant two years.

    They had thousands of staff, a mobile headquarters, and an impressive security team that boasted veteran fighters who fought with zeal and fervour. None of that came easily, nor cheaply. It was obvious that a lot of capital had gone into starting this company.

    Some might consider this a case of a philanthropist concerned with doing good, but after hearing the details, I was less sure that was all. If that was the whole story, there was hardly a need to plant your youngest heir within the charity itself. Even sweaty and dressed in urban warfare equipment, I would be hard-pressed not to recognise the heiress to one of Columbia's biggest players.

    A brief chat with some of the medical staff indicated that the security group was far larger than just those I'd seen in Chernobog. Still small in relative terms compared to the company as a whole, and certainly tiny compared to a national military, but still large in absolute terms, and well equipped. It wouldn't have been strange to consider them a dangerous paramilitary force. And nobody kept employees that served no purpose.

    I frowned as I unwrapped a new bar of soap.

    Well, that wasn't strictly true. Back in Japan there had been plenty of companies that were committed to keeping employees for life, but those could only keep to such a stagnating, backwards policy due to their age, size, and government support. That wasn't feasible or logical in a company as young as this one.

    And while it was a welcome surprise to me personally, I was surprised to discover the affordability of their pharmaceuticals, even to people living in decentralised backwaters. These weren't just cheap generics, although they manufactured those too, but also some of the cutting-edge medicines they developed themselves. Stranger still, if some of the medical staff were to be believed, they were only distributing through private channels because the company was 'too small to handle the attention stepping into the public market would bring'.

    While they certainly sold medical technology as well, by all accounts Rhodes Island was deeply involved in the development of Oripathy medicine. How was Rhodes Island funding its research if not by making drugs publicly available? Considering the poverty-heavy demographics of the Infected, price gouging only those who could afford it could never be enough.

    While I'd never worked with pharmaceutical companies in my history with C&H, the Terran business model was largely the same as Earth's. Following the scoping and capital evaluations, there was a large outflow of resources during the R&D phase, in order to create a product that was cheap to manufacture. The returns came from the period in which the developer held the patents, where the price was fixed at a point that maintained a delicate balance between 'cheap enough to remain competitive' and 'expensive enough to recoup the research expenses'.

    Whether it was to governments shouldering the price through subsidies, or to the patients themselves in societies with fewer social safety nets, the result was the same. Anybody who wanted to recoup their development costs would be selling their drugs at a marked-up price until the patent period was over, unless they either wanted to go bankrupt, or money wasn't a concern.

    And these people weren't even selling them publicly, let alone at a proper price. If funding for the research wasn't a concern, then why? How? The unlucky rich could contract Oripathy, but was I supposed to believe Rhodes Island ran entirely on donations?

    As I rinsed the suds off my body, more gingerly when it came to my tender abdomen, I thought through the facts again.

    In the end, I suspected it went back to what their private army signified. Medic told me that Rhodes Island maintained their security force because they treated Oripathy patients in areas with poorer public safety.

    Plenty of local rulers would be willing to pay top dollar to outsource the messiness of 'Infected management services', and hiring leading experts like Rhodes Island made for great optics. A frustrated Infected populace was less likely to react with hostility to Rhodes Island's own Infected medical staff, and the security force was there to dissuade those who might be inclined regardless. If things got out of hand, the Rhodes Island operatives could do worse than just dissuade, and whatever casualties, it was 'just Infected' to the rulers, anyway.

    And if a generous benefactor happened to require a few violent favours, what was more convenient than plausibly deniable connections with a small private army that had a legitimate, humanitarian reason to go anywhere?

    If I was correct, that was the reason for their appearance in Chernobog, regardless of the official story. There was coincidence, and then there was coincidence, and it wasn't every day that a group like Reunion took over a city.

    As appealing as Rhodes Island seemed to be at a glance, whatever game it was playing was too high-risk for my tastes, even in a non-combatant role. Political purges didn't tend to differentiate, after all.

    Of course, I knew better than to test young geniuses like Miss Amiya, but underestimating people was ever a shortcoming of those in power. I didn't want to be there if they eventually butted heads with their shady patrons.

    Wherever I decided on, Rhodes Island would not be it.

    Feeling refreshed, I stepped out of the shower. I glanced at the mirror again.

    In my last life, I wore my hair long. It wasn't my preference, but simply the studious maintenance of military standard appearance. While Special Major Hildebrandt was insistent on certain types of brushes, and even sent her half-sister von Edelreich as a delivery girl, all it really called for was properly-combed long hair.

    'In order to promote an awareness of gender differences, female officers below the age of conscription must maintain shoulder-length hair or longer.'

    In the era before flight mages, the only female officers were the ceremonially commissioned imperial princesses, and other young girls of the aristocracy. There were countless holdover regulations that only made sense in that context.

    It wasn't all bad. Sometimes this worked in my favour; for example, the requirement of special lodging. But then sometimes it led to the ridiculousness of sporting long hair in the trenches of the Rhine.

    As a result, I'd long made peace with certain expectations of femininity, and in this life my preference was to wear a ponytail. It cultivated a certain image of approachable professionalism, and to be honest I liked the way it swished.

    I still mostly considered myself a man, but who said a man couldn't be an elite businesswoman?

    I turned my head side to side and frowned. My antler was still chipped, which ruined some of the effect.

    There wasn't much I could do about that, though, so I moved on and began drying myself.

    I considered putting the patient wear back on—not a backless gown, thankfully, but a cotton jacket and trousers—but decided that there wasn't much point. I'd have to change out of these soon enough, anyhow. The towel was left neatly folded atop the counter, and the already folded patient wear atop that.

    I opened the door and stepped into a room with Dr. Kal'tsit inside. I shot a glance at the clock. She was early.

    "Miss Müller. How are we feeling?"

    I might have felt more comfortable if this was a bathhouse, and she was naked too, but the situation left me feeling a little self-conscious.

    "Like I'd like to put some clothes on."

    "That's fair," she said. "Would you like me to step outside?"

    I gave my head a furious scratch, but quickly shook my head.

    "It's fine, thank you."

    She politely turned around anyway, so I hurried over to the bedside and tore open the clean plastic packaging to get to the clothes inside. I hurriedly stepped into the new underwear, and then reached into the closet for my bra. The clothes I'd come in had been kindly washed and dried, but there was no saving my blouse.

    Instead, I reached into the packaging again and pulled a nondescript T-shirt on, before stepping into my suit pants. As an afterthought, I put my jacket on properly. The air conditioning kept the ward warm, but we might be stepping outside.

    After slipping out of my hospital slippers and into my high heels, I was presentable.

    "Thank you," I said when I was done.

    Dr. Kal'tsit gave me a once-over, and nodded.

    "It's going to be cold in the hangar. Did Dr. Francine explain the circumstances to you?"

    I frowned.

    "I don't think so, no."

    It was possible that she'd done so after the drinking had begun and I'd just forgotten, but I was hardly going to tell Dr. Kal'tsit that.

    The good doctor massaged her brows. Ah, the pain of unruly subordinates. I knew it all too well.

    After a moment, Dr. Kal'tsit fixed me with a sober look and explained.

    "Waves of refugees from Chernobog have been moving towards Lungmen. We have reason to suspect that Reunion will attempt to repeat their success in Chernobog by infiltrating them."

    I couldn't help my frown.

    "Lungmen is not a jumped-up backwater like Chernobog," I said a little hotly.

    The city had been very good to me. Although that was unlikely to continue with my new condition, comparing it to Chernobog of all places?

    "The reports from Rhodes Island's operators were concerning. Teams of well-trained personnel within Reunion, undoubtedly ex-military, and at least three particularly highly dangerous individuals. An assassin, as well as a marksman and medic pair that you encountered."

    I must have been wearing a blank look on my face, because Dr. Kal'tsit elaborated.

    "It wouldn't have been obvious to a civilian like you, but together, the marksman and medic pair proved to be remarkably formidable commanders."

    Dr. Kal'tsit tilted her head in thought.

    "I suppose this may seem like a farce to the woman who ran one of them down with a truck and escaped unscathed, but this evaluation came from trustworthy combat veterans."

    Oh, this was starting to sound familiar.

    It was a little difficult to believe that anybody so supposedly dangerous had been defeated by a delirious businesswoman in a civilian vehicle. If any of the 203rd had let that happen, I would have gotten in the truck and run them over a second time.

    Rather than try to convince me further, the doctor simply shook her head.

    "Nevermind. We should have some time before anything happens. It won't be too late to change your decision after some time in Lungmen to gather your thoughts. You will be coming, correct?"

    I nodded.

    "I appreciate the ride," I said.

    Dr. Kal'tsit nodded impassively.

    "I'm heading to Lungmen to speak with the governor. Hopefully he'll come to a different conclusion than you did."

    I wasn't sure what to say, but that turned out to be fine, because Dr. Kal'tsit made for the door and gestured for me to follow.

    "Are you ready to leave?"

    A quick pat of my left breast reassured me of my ID documents, so there was really nothing else left to take.

    The walk to the helipad was made in silence, but plenty of Rhodes Island staff were already working. I had been too distracted with my own thoughts to notice yesterday, but the personnel were really quite diverse.

    A Goliath engineer here, an Archosaurian over there.

    Come to think of it, I had been drinking with a Durin yesterday, hadn't I?

    When we entered the hangar, there was a young woman fiddling with a helicopter.


    The so-named Closure turned around with a hop.

    "Kal'tsit!" she beamed. "And who's this?"

    "The young woman from Lungmen that Amiya rescued in Chernobog," Dr. Kal'tsit said, with a wave in my vague direction.

    Closure stood with arms akimbo and eyed me up and down.

    "Is this another one of those ducklings for your 'Abduction and Conversion Procedures for Infected Prisoners'?"

    "It's 'Acquisition and Cultivation Procedures for Infected Personnel', Closure," Dr. Kal'tsit said humourlessly. "And no, Miss Müller is just sharing a ride with me."

    Closure eyed Dr. Kal'tsit with an exaggerated rise of the brow. With a shrug, she turned around and presented the rear door of the helicopter with a grandiose flourish.

    "Well, whatever. Behold, the newly refuelled 'Bad Guy', ready for all your flying needs! Wow! Incredible!"

    Dr. Kal'tsit huffed. "Are we ready for takeoff?"

    "Dylan's just waiting ahead," Closure confirmed.

    "We'll leave now then," Dr. Kal'tsit decided. Without another word, she stepped into the helicopter.

    "Thank you, Miss Closure," I quickly added as I followed her in.

    "Did you hear that, Kal'tsit?!" she exclaimed. "I'm a 'Miss Closure', now!"

    The helicopter door shut in her face.

    "Let's go now, Dylan," Dr. Kal'tsit said through the door to the cockpit.

    Not long afterwards, the VTOL began to take off.

    I did wish I'd gotten a chance to say goodbye to my new drinking companions. It was very kind of them to try cheering me up. Rhodes Island would be heading to Lungmen too, but I doubted I'd ever see any of them again.


    Something I hadn't noticed when ferried out of Chernobog was that this VTOL was pressurised. Why? Who would bother on a low altitude aircraft?

    "We'll be arriving in Lungmen shortly," said Dr. Kal'tsit.

    "Thank you," I said.

    I suppose it was time to decide on a course of action. As much as I enjoyed my stay in Lungmen, there wouldn't be much of a place for me now.

    Oripathy was largely a poor person's disease. Catching it excluded you from most job markets, and if you were poor already, many of the jobs available put you at much greater risk of Oripathy.

    Having said that, accidents did happen, and the rare wealthy person could catch it too. But in Lungmen, as I imagined in most places, the resulting lifestyle couldn't be more different.

    While nobody liked the Infected, in the end, people made exception for family. The unfortunate rich man who found himself with Oripathy was likely to see his relatives set him up in luxury. Unlike the poverty surrounding him, he could be expected to be tended to by servants in protective equipment, and Infected hired for cheap. Life as a princeling of the slums would continue until he was cut off from that wealth, or he died.

    I was an orphan, and had nobody both willing and able to do that for me, nor did I have assets that could last me a lifetime.

    While my salary classified me as 'wealthy', that was an indicator of my potential income. I still had to work in order to be worth anything, and that was just not going to happen now that I was an Infected. My mentor, Qiying, was a pragmatic man, and nobody would tolerate an Infected in their head office. Even if Qiying was willing to overlook it on behalf of my competence, my rivals, not to mention his, would not.

    And while Lungmen didn't explicitly forbid the Infected from workforce participation, the jobs that were actually available to me were slim pickings if I didn't want to struggle with poverty.

    So if not Lungmen, then where?

    I suppose my best choice was to go home to Leithania. To distance themselves from the previous regime, Leithania under the Twin Empresses was adamant about treating the Infected like humans. Infected still weren't equal; the state was careful about where they lived, and in the end it would always be a poverty trap. I could claw myself into middle class at best. But at least it was a life free of danger and unreasonable exploitation.

    I eyed Dr. Kal'tsit.

    Yes, Leithania was the right choice. As mentioned, Rhodes Island distributed its best medicine affordably, and hadn't billed me much for their care. The Leithanian branch of C&H was ostensibly cooperating with my Lungmen branch, so ideally I could transfer to one of their minor offices. Whatever effective demotion I could work out, at least I wouldn't lose my employee veterancy.

    Alternatively, if I was forced to leave the company, I could start up a small business in Wolumonde. I was originally saving up for a better apartment in Lungmen. While those funds weren't enough to retire on, I could buy a small storefront in the quarantine zone with enough start-up capital to get things moving. Perhaps I could get registered as an accountant. Oripathy wouldn't get you out of paying taxes in Leithania. Or I could provide wealth management advice. Having to pay for Oripathy treatments would just complicate retirement plans, after all.

    It was nothing like the life I was aiming for, but it would be enough to pay for my treatment.

    There was always the risk of the Witch King Loyalists finding me but, well, there were more realistic risks I had to contend with these days.

    "Have you considered what you'll do going forward?" asked Dr. Kal'tsit. "It's going to be a harsh life, now that you're on the other side of the wall. We at Rhodes Island do what we do for the Infected, if you would like to join. We are always looking for talented personnel, and you would have a place where you could live without discrimination."

    It wasn't exactly a trap. Although I was almost certain they were being funded as a political catspaw, the sad reality was that Rhodes Island was still a better lot than most Infected were handed.

    Still, I had no interest in entering the company, but it would be impolite to so thoroughly burn bridges while they were giving me a free ride.

    Everyone was being awfully persistent, though. Don't tell me I really was an Arts genius, and they wanted to train me for their private army?

    I stilled. Was that part of the 'Acquisition and Cultivation Procedures for Infected Personnel'?

    I sold my talents, not my body!

    "I don't know," I lied. "Everything has changed so fast."

    The enigmatic doctor hummed to herself.

    "Rhodes Island will dock herself at Lungmen soon, if all goes well in my negotiation. You'll have time to decide."

    Having come to a decision on what I'd do now, I suspected I would be on a flight back to Leithania by the time Rhodes Island arrived, but I nodded at Dr. Kal'tsit anyway.

    When the VTOL began to descend, the pressurised rear door started to open up. The wind began blowing in, but it wasn't too cold.

    It was still dark outside, but that was a function of the rain rather than the time.

    Even from this low in the air, I could see the bright neon lights of Lungmen shining through the haze. It was funny. Even in weather like this, the low altitude of Lungmen's preferred circuit meant that it was warmer than it had any right to be.

    If I ended up back in Wolumonde, near the Winterwisp mountains, I would be lucky to feel this warm on a sunny spring day.

    When we landed, the rear door unfurled as a ramp onto the wet concrete of the hangar. Two masked Lungmen Guards were already awaiting us below.

    "This way, please," one said curtly.

    Dr. Kal'tsit did say that they were expecting her.

    We were led into a spartan but civilian hallway, before I was gestured down another path. I suppose Dr. Kal'tsit must have communicated my circumstances in advance.

    The walk to the processing office was quiet. My LGD escort hadn't said a thing. The curt one had gone with Dr. Kal'tsit, but it was hard to tell if this one was any friendlier. I suppose that was the point of the masks. Not all officers wore these, certainly not the ones I was used to seeing downtown, but I suppose they were either trying to intimidate Dr. Kal'tsit, or they were otherwise afraid of being Infected.

    That was fair enough. Apparently person-to-person transmission of Oripathy was close to impossible in regular interactions, but that was true of lepers and AIDS patients as well, and I wouldn't want to get too close to them either.

    The process for registering myself as a new Oripathy patient was thorough and arduous. When she realised I was a local, the Feline case worker was sympathetic, in an awkward, unsure way, but the process had still been excruciating in its level of detail. She went through my last recorded stage of Oripathy and Originium blood content—yes, it had been tested within the last month—and then went through everything from my place of birth to my criminal record.

    Applications for a change of residence were going to be much the same thing, she warned, and I would have to leave my current zone of residence within the month. Thank everything I was planning to take the first flight out to Leithania tonight. Doing all that work, just to move into a slightly less pretty rooftop slum was not my idea of a good time.

    My LGD chaperone had watched me the whole time, but that was all right. It was their job to be suspicious.

    After obtaining my digital Oripathy certificate, I was finally able to leave. At least I didn't have to announce my Oripathy when hailing a taxi. There were plenty of places that would refuse service to any Infected.

    "Where to, Siu Ze?" the driver asked as I stepped out of the rain.

    I hadn't really decided, I realised.

    "I'm heading Uptown," I said after a moment, and rattled off an address.

    "Ah, the C&H building? Running late for work?" he asked with a smile, leaving the curb to turn into the traffic.

    "Not quite. Do you take many passengers that way?"

    "Not many, exactly," he said. "But it's a hard place to forget."

    I suppose it would be. The street was designed to be imposing, and the corporate headquarters there much the same.

    It didn't take long until we were on the highway. The lights of the traffic signs were a blur through the rain and windows.

    The driver hummed. "Looks like taking the Blue Spire Link might be a bust."

    I looked up at the holographic traffic indicators. Ah, congestion. Probably truck drivers making their deliveries, given that the rush to get to work was long over by this time of day.

    That was probably not going to be an issue wherever I ultimately moved to.

    "I'll take the West Dragon Highway, instead. Should be quicker," he said, changing lanes.

    "Thank you."

    I was almost going to miss this. Almost.

    I thought about what I was going to do. One thing I was sure about was that I didn't want to be here if Reunion attacked. While I had full confidence in the LGD, an attack was an attack, and I imagined that Lungmen wouldn't be too kind to its Infected population after something like that. I'd rather not get caught up in a pogrom.

    I was going to get my work affairs in order—whether that meant leaving the company or a transfer, I was yet to see—and depending on that, buy a ticket to somewhere in Leithania. If my ultimate destination was Wolumonde, I would probably pick the first nomadic city in the north, and then take a bus home.

    As for my belongings and my apartment, thankfully there were plenty of things you could delegate to agents around here.

    Soon enough, the taxi driver pulled over at the drop-off stands in front of the office.

    "You take care now," he said.

    "You too, uncle."

    I paid with a swipe of my phone, and stepped out of the car, back into the wet.

    With a hand over my brow to stop the rain, I beheld the towering skyscraper.

    Coopers & Harding was a centuries-old Victorian firm that had truly grown in prominence during the 50s. Of course, it was only centuries-old if you counted the constituent ancestor firms of the merger, but that didn't sound quite as impressive to some of our aristocratic clientele. It was an ironic position to take, considering many of their lineage trees, but I was happy enough to describe it however would land us more clients.

    The company had ridden the Victorian expansion to prosperity, and then declined along with it. When Kazdel occupied Londinium, the true head office fell out of prominence, while the branches, actually subsidiaries for tax purposes, began to compete.

    Thankfully, the Leithanian branch wasn't too hostile to the Lungmen branch. At least, it wouldn't be too difficult for my mentor Qiying to pull some strings on the other side. I just wasn't sure about his willingness, now that I didn't have much to offer.

    Still, if worst came to worst, and I was forced to leave the company, at least I'd see Wolumonde again. I didn't have the fondest memories of it, but I would like to revisit the orphanage. After all, I'd like to see where all my donated money had been going.

    I stepped through the foyer, and ignored everybody inside. The conversation would just be awkward, anyhow. Qiying's message said he wouldn't be in a meeting for another forty minutes or so, so it was perfect timing.

    When my elevator came, a swipe of my pass granted me access to the highest floor. Nobody else got in on the trip up, so I was undisturbed as I used the mirror to brush raindrops out of my hair.

    The elevator doors opened to an opulent hallway.

    A pond sat in the middle of the otherwise tiled floor, bordered by moss, small plants, and rocks. The centrepiece was a large garden stone, or artificial mountain as they called them in Yan, shaped like the karst-mountains the nation was known for.

    The whole thing was arranged to evoke the imagery of a great natural lake below a misty mountain range.

    Honestly I was kind of numb to it by now, but I pulled out my phone and took a photo regardless. I suppose it was something I could brag about later on.

    I wasn't really looking forward to breaking the news of my Oripathy, but it wouldn't do to dawdle further. A few turns here and there, and I reached a small waiting room.

    Before I could even ask anything, his assistant sent me in.

    Stepping into the office, I found Qiying wearing a victorious expression, tending to that massive ginseng ficus bonsai of his.

    "And she returns," he said with an upwards nod. "When I heard about what happened in Chernobog, I was honestly worried. Whatever would I do without my vicious little junior?"

    When he stood, he did so with a spin, and leaned back smoothly against the window.

    "But then I saw your message earlier, and I knew that the heavens were on my side."

    He shot me a grin.

    "Wanna do a line?"

    I grimaced. I hadn't expected him to be so cheerful about my return.

    "No thank you, Qiying. I…"

    "Haha, I'm just messing with you. I know how uptight you get about drugs, Tanja. Tea, then."

    Qiying reached under his desk and produced a gourd-shaped thermos and two small tea cups.

    I fidgeted. "Qiying? I…"

    Qiying didn't seem to hear me, pouring me a cup with an easy smile.

    "What happened in Chernobog was out of anyone's control, so forget about the deal." He cocked a brow. "I told you that Wang was the one who put his weight behind the proposal anyway, right?"

    "I— Yes, you did, Qiying."

    "You should have seen the look on his face when I talked Old Liang into sending you there instead of his little cocksucker apprentice."

    In retrospect, I would have greatly preferred that.

    "That little slut kept talking like you died in Chernobog, you know?"


    "It's why I told you not to stress before you left. Deal goes well, that's good for us. Deal goes bad, too bad for Wang. Either way, we win, right?" Qiying held out my cup of tea.

    I accepted with both hands and took a polite sip.

    The well-dressed Lung was a large part of how I managed to climb the ranks so quickly.

    I had demonstrated countless times that I was the right person for the job, but I wasn't in the habit of shying away from the truth. It would have taken years longer to climb the ranks if Qiying hadn't propped me up as his answer to Henderson Wang's own protégé.

    Hopefully he'd help me land a new position before he found a new answer.

    "Listen, the truth is—"

    "Just wait until I tell him you're back. I can't wait to see that smug dickhead's face during the board meeting later."

    Qiying smirked at me, and swept his hand through the air like he was showing me some great panorama.

    "One day you'll get to see it yourself, Wang's famous look of constipation when things don't go his way."

    "Qiying, I caught Oripathy!"

    The air froze. You could hear a pin drop.


    I swallowed thickly.

    "In Chernobog I was accosted by members of an Infected terror group. They infected me with Oripathy."

    Qiying's mouth was moving, but he seemed to struggle to find the words.

    "No. No, no… if you're Infected then how are you supposed to get on the C-Suite, huh?!"

    I wasn't sure what to say. I hadn't expected him to be this upset about it.

    But before I could get a word in, he swept everything on his desk to the floor with a crash.

    "What about my plans, huh?!"

    I watched splinters fly as he lifted his chair above his head and shattered it on his beloved bonsai.



    After the third swing, he tossed the chair aside and started destroying the ornaments instead.

    That vase was two hundred thousand dollars…

    "Fuck! Shit! Fuck! Shit! Fucking shit fucker shit! Fucking diu nei lou dau ge sei tsat, fuck!"

    I stood frozen in shock as my mentor continued to go through the stages of a mental breakdown. Qiying was an abrasive guy, but I'd never seen him lose his cool like this before.

    He turned around and seized the calligraphy scroll on the wall, tearing it to shreds, before moving onto the decorative bamboo plants. Before long, all the pot plants in the office had been snapped in twain.

    When I saw what he did next, I almost went to stop him. His legs trembled as he struggled to lift his favourite bonsai, but lift it he did, and then he slammed it into a sandalwood divider.

    The pieces went everywhere. Some of the soil spilled onto my shoes.

    "Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! Ham gaa tsaan, Wang, you motherfucking lan dak tsik piece of shit! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!"

    The screaming continued for another minute.

    Qiying supported himself on his zitan wood desk, panting raggedly. I stood rooted to the floor as he eventually recovered and brushed his gelled hair back.

    "And of course, you have my thoughts and prayers in this trying time, Tanja. Rest assured, Coopers & Harding won't hang you out to dry."

    Nothing about what I'd seen left me feeling at all assured…

    I frowned. If I wanted my favour, it'd be better to improve his mood first, I decided.

    "It was a group called Rhodes Island that saved me," I said. I cleared my throat. "It was their operatives that carried me out of Chernobog, and their medical advancements that stabilised me."

    Qiying was still panting, but didn't interrupt me, so I continued.

    "From everything I've seen, Rhodes Island is an astonishingly capable startup, and they've only been around for two years. If we can get in early before they've already established lasting partnerships, we could stand to reap significant returns."

    I paused for a moment, and added in a small voice,

    "The youngest daughter of the Brinley Group appears to be stationed there to audit their movements."

    My mentor fixed me with a sharp look.

    "Tell me more."

    While I had no doubt Rhodes Island was also a cutting-edge pharmaceutical company, I expected a lot of their income came from their other identity. I was hesitant to come right out and say it, but Rhodes Island was probably a wetwork outfit, occasionally for hire, but funded by a patron too. Almost certainly the Brinley group.

    I leaned in and whispered to Qiying what I knew about their structure, operations—both pharmaceutical and suspected—as well as the assets I'd seen them boast. Finally, I told him of their field tactician Doctor, the enigmatic Dr. Kal'tsit, and most significantly, Miss Amiya.

    No patron wanted a black-ops unit that they couldn't control. Rhodes Island was walking a tightrope between being dangerous enough to use, dangerous enough not to cross, but also not being too dangerous to permit. Any fourteen-year-old Cautus who could not only thread such a needle, but command the fervent loyalty of her operatives had, as they said in Yan, 'unlimited potential'.

    When I was done, Qiying's expression was thoughtful. Now was my chance!

    "S-so… I was thinking that I could introduce them to you." After all, if they ever had that falling out with the Brinley group, I'd be in Leithania somewhere. It was going to be somebody else's problem. "I've just forwarded you Dr. Kal'tsit's details. You could see if they'd be interested in some of our services long-term, or if perhaps they'd be willing to accept some investment."


    Qiying sat down on his desk and began that annoying tapping thing he did when he was thinking.

    He was biting!

    "Anyhow, I was thinking that you could help transfer me to a branch office in Leithania and…"

    "Okay, you've convinced me." Qiying dusted his hands. "You said they extended an invitation to you, right? I'm going to get in contact with this Kal'tsit, and appoint you as our liaison."

    Good, I somehow managed to— …Wait, what?

    "I'm going to…?"

    "It might not be quite what they expected when they invited you to live on their landship for treatment, but I think we can work something out."

    …Had I oversold them?

    "You know, you've always had a great eye for people, Tanja." Qiying slicked his hair back. "Almost as good as mine. If you say that this Amiya girl is a good horse, then I trust that she's a good horse. Get us, me and you, a foot in Rhodes Island's door. Butter them up. Spread their legs wide open."

    "B-but, my transfer—"

    Qiying snorted.

    "I know I can be all business, but people aren't pot plants. After having you by my side all these years, you think I'd let you take a demotion in all but name and waste your ambition away in some sleepy Leithanian shithole?"

    "No, but I never meant—"

    "Don't think I don't see what you're trying to do by bringing Rhodes Island up. You'll get your wish. And none of that polite refusal nonsense either, you know I hate that shit." He hummed for a moment. "I might have to get a bit creative, but you'll be keeping your salary too."

    No, no, I never meant that I wanted— I'd be keeping my salary?

    "In return, I expect some results. Risk analysis, financials, logistics, legal hair-splitting, I already know you can do it all, so make yourself indispensable to them while they're still growing. And if you can get them amenable to selling us some of that 'special medicine' they're peddling, all the better. The enemy of my enemy, and all that, and some of those arseholes in the Columbian HQ could do with a fall off a balcony."

    Before I could sort my thoughts out, Qiying waved his hand.

    "All right, all right, now get out of my office. I still need to figure out what the fuck I'm going to do now."

    With that, I was dismissed.

    I found myself standing numbly by the curbside, contemplating the human condition.

    EDIT: Italics auto-formatting adding random spaces.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2022
  25. Extras: Tanja by NAI Diffusion
    NTR Commissar

    NTR Commissar Recreational RACIST

    Oct 22, 2016
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  26. Panzaro

    Panzaro Making the rounds.

    Nov 6, 2020
    Likes Received:
    Al_CoffeeCat, AshCrow, Hmm_ and 4 others like this.
  27. Renko

    Renko Demon Lord of the Sixth Heaven ~☆

    Jul 25, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Tanja should probably get a new superior ASAP!

    Fernando, sagemo, Shin Kim and 3 others like this.
  28. Darik29

    Darik29 Verified Delicious

    Feb 20, 2013
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    I am happy beyond words this has now caught up with the Ao3 thread! New content next chapter, Tanja becoming a Liaison for Rhodes! Hahahahahahahaaaaaa!!!!!
  29. insertname099

    insertname099 Not too sore, are you?

    Dec 27, 2019
    Likes Received:
    Nice to see this here! Is QQ in the same boat as FF, where only betad chapters will be posted and only ao3 will be getting the unbetad ones? Just wondering cause chapter 6 is up there but not here.

    Was that portrait commissioned? It looks great, thanks for the chapter!
    Zreader and NTR Commissar like this.
  30. Supreme Minister Prime

    Supreme Minister Prime Hmm, yes, quite

    May 7, 2021
    Likes Received:
    The way Tanja managed to walk right into the Rhode Island landmine she was trying to avoid was funny, and the drunken rambling at the beginning of the chapter was especially entertaining. I'm not too familiar with Arknights, and I usually stay away from Tanya fics because a lot of writers can't capture her voice, but I'm really happy I checked this out
    Al_CoffeeCat, Reou, Zreader and 4 others like this.