User:Hawl/We live to RIDE, We RIDE to Live

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FreeRIDErs story universe

Together We RIDE Part 4:We RIDE To Live, To Live We RIDE.

Author: Jessica K. Nichols-Vernon aka Hawl Tygarus Enroygall

The concert that Bob and Jason pulled off in practice was a essentially a medley of covers of Oil Age songs. This songlist which included hits like Over My Head by Lit, Go Go Power Rangers by Ron Wasserman, and even Walkin’ On The Sun by Smash Mouth. The list was incredibly predictable given that the duo were both Native Zharusians. Jason had just finished singing a rock version of Rainbow Connection, Bob had the next pick and his choice was Through The Fire and The Flames. The holophoner around Bob’s neck became a Herman Li styled electric guitar, notable for its “Kung-Fu Grip.”

“Dragonforce? Now there’s a band that takes me back. When I was a man and so was Karl we would listen to their music all the time..” Gabrielle sat back in her plush velvet red theater chair. Herself, Paula, and anthro versions of Casey and Ruby were in a virtual theater and Bob and Jason were naturally on stage. Bob had only agreed to let them watch if Gabrielle used the avatar that represented an anthro version of herself, initially she refused, but Paula and Casey begged.

“Thanks again for agreeing to judge our performances, I didn’t know Gabby actually liked having fun.” Bob winked at her, not giving up on that crush of his.

“Maybe if you showed interest past my body you’d know things about me.” Gabrielle taunted, though she didn’t like saying that. It was something that a catty woman would say, the rat-woman thought it was bad enough she had to look like a woman, but to feel or act like one was a terror.

Bob was interested in knowing things about Gabrielle, her favorite position, her bra size, and if she would be willing to try anal. Of course, Bob knew that if he made that comment then Gabrielle would just have gotten all mad at him and left the virtual room. This could have been his big chance, chicks love musicians. “Well, guess I’ll need to show you, My interest!”

“.....Oh gods! Please, don’t.. Just.. don’t.” Gabrielle was seconds away from getting up and leaving.

Bob grinned and with a snap of his fingers produced a guitar pick that literally shot lightning at all sides. It was true what they say. Virtual Reality is best reality! “Wow! That’s, that’s really cool!” Paula commented.

“Ooooh baby, if we wasn’t in Virtual, I’d swear we’d all go blind!” Ruby added, in this virtual realm she was a very bat-like porcupine anthro woman next to Paula at this time. Casey herself, was a man in a trenchcoat. It wasn’t common at all for RIDEs to pretend to be humans on virtual, most them stayed very close to their RIDE species, they weren’t the most adaptable of creatures unlike humans.

“Yes, it was quite impressive.” Gabrielle admitted to herself, though she was very curious. “But where is this actually going?”

“On one giant skimmer ride straight into hell!” Bob cheered, he played with some of the simulation’s settings as he spoke to make his voice.

“Isn’t it redundant to say skimmer and RIDE?” Paula asked with legitimate confusing, mixing the definitions of a particular word in Bob’s sentence.

“Context clues? What are those!” Gabrielle asked sarcastically as she elbowed Paula right in the breast.

“I have pain turned off, I may be a little clumsy, but I’m not a virtual n00b.” Paula responded to Gabrielle’s attack using an old Earth phrase that had managed after five hundred years of falling into non-use snuck it’s way

“....Now there’s a word I can’t stand.” Gabrielle folded her arms over her breasts. “I tire of talking... play some damn music already Bob-bob.”

Bob wiped down his face slowly with a cartoonishly angry grimace, how that nickname managed to follow him to Supernova of all places he would never know. It was almost as if his life were being monitored by someone who wanted him angered for their amusement just like Aristo monitors Gabrielle’s. “Right, if I can blow the roof off this mother!” Bob finally said as the sparking guitar pick strummed the chords of the Herman Li. This set off a mighty blast of light that even in virtual left his audience entirely without vision for several minutes.

“Good golly!” Paula exclaimed as she stumbled around on the ground, scared and screeching. De-stablizing the room. “Ruby, help me, I can’t see anything!”

Bob looked to the falls which began to get fuzzy, glitchy, and very low resolution. “Okay not the spirit I intended this to be. Higar you wanna do something?”

Higar stumbled around, feeling the walls with the hands of his anthro avatar. “You’re the only one who can see Bob, I told you turning on the filters that high was going to cause problems.”

“Just head for the sound of the screaming and shut Reverbek up before she crashes the simulation, and everyone made out of metal along with it!”

“You can see why not you?” Higar countered, he was already beginning to short-circuit. Bob could see him getting confused and walking around in circles with his arms stretched outward.

“Ughh...” Bob complained as he threw down his guitar and jumped on it, using it as a makeshift hover board. “I have to do everything myself don’t I?” The hapless human flew right towards the screaming Paula, holding her by the mouth and flying upward. “If you don’t be quiet, I’ll turn on your pain receptors and hurl you towards the ground!”

::Okay...:: Paula sent, silencing herself and literally going. “Eeep” As Bob let her go as she gently floated downward back into her seat. With her screaming ceased the simulation had a chance to fix itself, started with the quality of the simulation and then with the restoring of the vision of all who went blind.

Once everyone came to they were ready to play. Bob had originally planned a background transition taking the simulation and twisting it into a hellish dystopian nightmare, but decided he didn’t want anything else to go wrong. “Alright... well let’s just get this shit started.” Bob said as he began to strum the actual notes.

“On a cold winter mornin’, in the time before the li....” Jason was about to sing, when suddenly the lights went off and the music stopping. “ght..... What just happened?”

“I happened!” Called forth a very refined voice from the back of the theater.

“Aristo! Two times in almost as many days....” Gabrielle snarled at Aristo who had the avatar of a big unpainted metal tiger. It resembled the cyber he had worn to Zharus. The mechanized home for his so-called brilliant home that he missed so dearly. “To what do I owe the displeasure?”

“That avatar looks cute on you, did your boyfriend pick it out for you?” Aristo laughed to himself. “Alright you lazy peons. Does anyone know how to make Terran Bomber Bots?”

“.....Wasn’t that one of the projects that got you kicked off of Earth?” Gabrielle asked.

“You mean he’s THAT Aristo?” Paula cried out.

Aristo, Bob, Gabrielle, Ruby, Higar, Wally, all stared at Paula at the same time.

“What?” Paula asked, trying to bury her face in embarrassment “Why are you all staring at me?”.

“It may be an infinitely expanding universe sweetheart, but there’s only ever going to be one Aristo.” Aristo chuckled, again before putting on a serious face. “Obviously, none of you do. Because I invented them and aside from a copy confiscated by the Earth Empire. I have the only Blueprints! But fret not, I’ve specially selected you four to lead the project and receive my memories.”

“We mostly hate you!” Gabrielle protested. “Why would you pick us.”

“Simple darling.” Aristo taunted, placing a cold metallic claw under Gabrielle's chin. “You’re all here illegally with the exception of Paula, Cell Block 22 is one of the ones I keep off the books and I want this project of the top most secrecy. Plus you’re the ones I can torture if you screw me over on my grandest venture yet.”

“Wait, can’t I just send the memory of you confessing to my friend Simone and shut down the whole factory?” Paula asked, thinking pretty hard about this. “Cause I could erase those memories right now if you send me home.” Reverbek tried blackmail, the first actual crime she had ever committed.

“Only if you want yourself and everyone you send those memories to killed in rather unfortunate accidents.” Aristo warned with a sharp look. “I’m very powerful man Reverbek, when I get MU to talk, Zharus listens. Do you realize how easy I can get have an all-star candidate hired at Le Wrench Of Paris whose actually a sabatier sent to blow Lucille to smithereens with the only evidence of any wrongdoing being your little frenchie’s corpse with a blood alcohol content higher than the Aloha Elevator!”

Paula began shivering in place, she felt like crying, but she knew very well from her life on Earth as Paul that bullies only get worse if you start to cry. “...Very easily?”

“Bingo Reverbek.” Aristo smiled. “Even your calls are monitored darling, not sneaky business.”

Paula was getting tired of this, it had been three days, but they were enough. Memories began playing in her mind, of Earth, of her father standing up those bastards who ran that wreck of a planet. Of how good Simon was to her, the entire year she knew her. “....No!”

Everyone gasped in unison, especially Ruby who Aristo had threatened to grind the day after she crossed Paul into Paula.”

“What did you say to me Paula Reverbek?!?!” Aristo glared at Paula. “You’ve only worked three days, I could crush Ruby and sell her for scrap metal. I thought you were grateful for the gift she bestowed upon you.” Aristo said menacingly, grabbing Paula’s tit for emphasis. “What’s it been four days? Maybe I’ll see what’s left of you when you cross back once she’s gone.”

Paula stood her ground and stared into Aristo’s eyes. “No, I’ve played by your game, spent everyday since I crossed in tears when I should be out there living my life now that I finally have one to live. I am going home!”

Aristo nearly blew one of the fuses in his metal arm back in the real world. “If this is a joke it’s not funny!”

“No, I’ve been doing nothing but looking over my memories, screaming, and being scared of this place. For everyday after the happiest one of my life. You’re just like those bigwigs back on Earth! Keeping everyone unhappy to line your own pockets because you don’t know what happiness is!” Paula screeched, this one directed right at Aristo whose avatar faded out. “I want to go home now!”

“You think I’m like those nimrods who see only in tunnel vision, with no ability to look to the stars and think outside of their default parameters? I am Aristo Enroygall! Great Grandson of Seranima Enroygall, one of the inventors and biggest pushers for the first sets of nanites made for physical modifications. My name is legend, my power is godlike, and you have one last chance to apologize and accept merely a deduction in pay.” Aristo growled, his optics twitching with rage. No one dared compare him to those old farts back on the third rock from the sun.

“Paula honey, you have no idea what you’re doing.” Ruby warned. “Please Mister Enroygall, she didn’t mean it.”

“Yes I did!” Paula exclaimed, the whole room still silent. “Ruby don’t you see? I could have gotten my body corrected on Earth, I actually had gender dysphoria, so they would have let me use the nanites. But I had to suffer through agony because I didn’t stand up for myself. Even here on Zharus where people switch sides just for fun I didn’t have the courage and I let my parents scare me out of cross-riding. Well no more, a girl’s gotta learn her lesson sometime.”

Aristo closed out the simulation and in a matter of minutes had barged into Paula and Gabrielle’s apartment room. Fuming out the mouth as he marched, bypassing many employees who were smart enough to stay out of his way when he was angry. Once Aristo was at their apartment door he smashed through with his metal fist. “GOOD NEWS PAULA! I’ve decided that you and your RIDE will DIE together! I’M KILLING YOU BOTH MYSELF!” Aristo screamed.

In mere seconds, Bob, Jason, Gabrielle, and even Cindi were fused up and pointing weapons at Aristo. “You kidnapped me, you turned my ex-girlfriend into a man, you turned one of my best friends against me. Hurting a child because she states the obvious? That’s low even for scum like you.” Bob said, Cindi looking at him like she was impressed. Proud of her old College Dormmate for finally showing that he cared about something.

“You yell at us all the time and now you’re attacking us?” Jason asked, all of Wally’s armanents armed and locked on.

“Your dilated vision move can’t stop all of our weapons!” Gabrielle warned. “Remember when I had my Estrogen Spike and I ran around this place trying to kill you? I’ve always regretted that failure more than any other.”

“No paycheck is worth this Sir, with all due respect. I resign.” Cindi added in.

Aristo launched his nano-stealth saber from his metal arm and ignited pointing the lightsaber like weapon at each of his employees. “Bring me Paula and Ruby and none of you get hurt.”

A clicking sound played from all the weapons equipped on the RIDEs of those around Aristo. A warning click showing that they had enough of his shit. “Nice try Aristo, but it’s about time you made me, us, men again.” Casey’s voice said bursting from Gabrielle’s mouth.

Paula and Ruby stepped forth, Ruby only had popguns, mere pistols that wouldn’t even scratch the paint job of the weakest RIDEs. It’d barely harm human flesh, it was mostly so children could play and fire warning shots. “Not your finest hour is it?” Paula asked, Ruby’s weaponry pointed at Aristo.

::Shyver situation in apartment complex.:: Aristo sent to his vice president. “Well, how can I help ease this situation?”

“Drop the contracts of everyone you blackmailed into coming here.” Paula warned, finally taking action like she should have ages ago. “I can send all these memories off now and we’ll all get off on self-defense!”

“You wouldn’t dare...” Aristo growled his neon turning red in rage. “You don’t know what I’m capable of.”

“Sent” Paula stated, not even playing this game.

“I’ll kill whoever you sent it to!” Aristo growled. “Once I get out of here.” “Then you better get started! I sent it to every newsgroup on the planet!” Paula grinned.

“Impossible, I blocked communications to all of them!” Aristo tried calling the bluff.

“Shyver made a goof when he let me talk to Simone without restriction!” Paula stamped on the ground, feeling triumph it. Until the lasers started blasting from the hallway, taking out Bob, Jason, and Gabrielle. “What the hell!”

“Merely a stun.” Shyver said, showing up with several guards. Reluda was among them. “This can’t be made any worse than it is with any actual murders.... Paula wasn’t bluffing. I accidentally gave her full privileges.”

“Shyver! You have ruined everything! The Marshalls will be coming here to arrest me in a matter of minutes!” Aristo snarled, running away. “This isn’t over traitor!” The cyborg ran slicing Cindi’s legs off as he did so.

He was out of the building before the hour was over, he was right about the marshalls. Within two hours you couldn’t sneeze in Supernova without them knowing about it.


Back in Venars, Simone and Lucille were groaning. None of the applicants even looked promising. “Merci Lucille, is there a single man or women on Zharus with the je ne sais quo to perform an honest day’s work?”

“Doesn’t look like it madame.” Lucille responded, looking over the V-Cards of all who applied. “Can you believe the nerve of that Cape Nord guy who offered to turn this place into a strip club.”

“People like that should stay in their hell holes!” Simone exclaimed.

“You lived in Cape Nord for the first two years here.... ‘madame’.” Lucille taunted.

“It seemed like a fun idea at first...” Simone admitted embarrassing. “I didn’t think they were serious!”

“Two years.....” Lucille added, looking up at her owner with disgust.

Simone pet her skunkette and sighed. “We really need Paula back....” she said to herself, leaning back in a plush and comfy wheeled chair. “Shall we partake in mankind’s greatest past time?”

Lucille did the closest thing a quadruped could to a shrug. “I guess so...” she said as she jumped into Simone’s lap to fuse with her as the two started watching TV, an old Earth show called Power Rangers:Turbo. Simone had always been a closet fan.

::Can’t we atleast watch In Space or RPM?:: Lucille asked, always the needy one.

::Non non, we can’t start In Space till we finish Turbo.:: Simone commented, putting her fuser’s feet up on the desk. ::How can we start a new season without seeing Divatox defeated? You silly skunk.::

Unfortunately for Simone, the duo did not even get past the opening credits sequence before Lucille panicked and switched from Netflix to a news station. Immediately Simone was about to stand up and scold her robot pet when she realized that, that was ACE Evolutions she was looking at. Simone had never seen the building, but it was clearly labeled as ACE on the news banner.

A Newscaster in a My Little Pony fuser, complete with a cherry cutie mark on her thigh was standing inside the main hallway was reporting as fusers in marshall uniforms looked over the area and questioned employees in the background “Recently footage of memories from an employee named Paula Reverbek, a former terran who has a residence both here and with her loving parents in Venars showed CEO Aristo Enroygall, a shady business owner who had been kicked out of Earth for his controversial technologies, threatening her, her RIDE, their co-workers, and owner of ‘Le Wrench Of Paris’, Simone Bertrand and her RIDE Lucille. Aristo’s sister Kayla has arrived here in Supernova, but denied any comment. Aristo himself has vanished without a trace Marshalls having no clue to his whereabouts. If you know anything about the location of this dangerous cyborg, contact the marshalls or bring him for a nice bounty. In this reporter’s opinion, the RIDEless Earther should be easy pickings for anyone strapped for cash.”

Simone’s jaw dropped, she was entirely speechless and had no idea what reaction to give. The cross-rider just stared in silence, zoning out so hard from this turn of events that she actually watched three adverts before realizing that Lucille had already walked the two outside of the garage, defused, and turned into her skimmer form. “Uhh... Simone?”

“Oh right...” Simone finally said before hoping on her skimmer, which strangely given the duo’s obsession with France had an uncanny resemblance to the forest speeders from Return Of The Jedi. “Straight to ACE, no detours.”

“Yes Ma’am!” Lucille said before speeding off like a skunk out of hell. ______________________________________________________________________________ Paula was bombarded by the press, congratulating her for her bravery. Of course, CNN-Fox did not do this, instead they berated her for defaming a famous aristocrat. Aristo... crat... Paula felt stupid having just got that. Shyver shielded her and Ruby from them though as he took them and a few of the marshalls to Aristo’s office. “...So... uhh now what happens?”

“What happens young lady is you hand over every single memory you have of Aristo to aid in our investigation. Death Threats are the least of Aristo’s crimes, by looking around we have illegal cloning, kidnapping, price gouging, gender jacking, and a lot of the weapons he’s developed are not authorized by the military and sold on the black market. When we find this guy, he’ll be very lucky if he can get a job as a janitor in a one star hotel.” A marshal in a horse fuser spoke with a very serious tone. “Especially with what he did with Gabriel... we thought he had gone AWOL or, maybe Integrated, if that’s even possible.”

“No reason to keep up with the act, Aristo already told Paula that they exist.” Shyver said calmly as Paula nodded, sending the memories over.

“Just following orders, and I wouldn’t get to snippy with me hot-shot. You might be looking at a few aiding and abetting charges yourself Vice President.” The marshall warned Shyver. “If you’re found guilty in connection with a single one, losing the Brubeck Account is going to be the least of your problems.” Clint had been onboard once Shyver had told him their fake charity scheme the two had cooked up the other day, but following this he no longer wanted anything to do with ACE.

“Not really, we’re going bankrupt either way...” Shyver said, suddenly getting worried. The Brubeck Account falling was something he was trying to get out of his head. “I’m going to need to hit the bar after things... 20 years of a sobriety...broken... Poor, Big House, same difference..”

“Don’t try to change the subject.” The Marshall warned, his assistants letting him do the talking. “If you know of anything Aristo is up to or why he had an Integrate locked in this study.... Telling us now will help your case.”

Shyver looked around the room, spotting a still active blueprint for the bots Aristo planned to use to conquer each town dumb enough to pay him. “I mainly manage the finances, I was never aware Aristo had done anything illegal. For crying out loud, the only reason he got banned from Earth was because that planet is highly unprofessional.” It was a lie, but he could never be asked to betray his best friend. “I did oddjobs for him, but never did he ask me to act above the law.”

“Alright, but we have Ms. Reverbek’s testimony. If I find a single contradiction in your story, I’ll arrange to have you jailed in The Zoo of the Animal of Man for what your boss did to Gabriel.” The marshall threatened referring an infamous male-only jail in Sturmhaven, even regular Sturmhaven Jails were not the best for showing male prisoners with any form of human kindness, which made it not surprise why arresting males tended to be something of a Valk past-time.

Shyver swallowed, that threat held a lot of weight to it. “I am sure it won’t be in my travel plans.”

“We’ve got our eyes on you!” The Marshall said as he left, taking his two partners with him. “If we find one trace of him, I’m shutting this whole place down.”

Shyver was frightened, he had done nearly EVERYthing Aristo asked and almost all of it was illegal. He was damn lucky that the marshals did not take Shyver’s memories as well. Sloppy work on their part, but if they had then he and Aristo would be guilty enough to be shot out of a ship’s escape pod to the nearest sun. “Now... under Supernova law, I cannot nullify your contract. Only Aristo can do that, so in light of recent events I’m upgrading your pay. Ruby should be paid off in 5 months. I want you to take two weeks off in lieu of recent events. Paid of course, this applies to Gabrielle and Casey as well.”

“What about Bob and Jason?” Paula asked.

“Aristo’s sister Kayla came by to take them back to their families. The two were illegal clones, but fortunately the government is not holding that against them, though they did want to to give them a medical check up.” Shyver shook his head, remembering Earth himself. “Back on Earth, if someone made illegal clones, they’d be exterminated outright. Though I’d rather go back there than to the Zoo of the Animal of Man, Anyway, if you excuse me. I have a lot of work to do. I need to see how many of Aristo’s accounts we can access to get the company back afloat.”

Paula nodded. “I don’t know, I think I’d take Sturmhaven over Earth... then again.. I’m a girl.. heh. Didn’t think of that. Well.... I just got a message from Simone anyway. Apparently she’s at the pub.”

“Have fun.” Shyver said, waiting for Paula to leave before he went to the nearest fabber and printed a hypervodka which he downed before turning towards the RIDE Iris. “You can come out now.”

Aristo stepped out from behind a curtain, petting Iris as he walked forward. “Fine pickle you got us into. Just because you have the hots for my worst paying tenant!”

“...How did you know?” Shyver asked.

“I was joking... It disappoints me that you actually do have an attraction to that french whore.” Aristo sighed, looking out the window and seeing the marshals look all over for him. “We’ll just have to go through with the plan early. I’ll have to Integrate all the infected RIDEs and hope it creates a wonderful distraction...”

“Sir!” Shyver warned in a quick panick. “Don’t you need to be wearing Iris for this?”

Aristo growled, clawing down his hardlight office wall. “Damn it, you’re right and I can’t put her on for six more months...” The angered cyborg put his hands behind his back and began pacing the room. Waving his metal tiger arm as he talked. “Perhaps if I wasn’t as metal as I am. I’d risk an early crossover, but RIDEs hate cyborgs enough as it is. Integration is no good to me if I’m dead from organ failure! Well keep hiding me and remember to falsify your memories as best you can.” Aristo banged on the wall again. “Why the hell, did I use a female for my 817 model? I should have planned to do this early as a contingency plan.... ughh.. but even the best make mistakes.”

“What are you going to do in the meantime Mr. Enroygall?” Shyver asked, printing another hypervodka

“Salvaging this situation as much as possible. I’ll need to go through with EZ Does It before we run out of funds. Without Clint’s money and ore we’re up shitcreek without bathing suits.” Aristo began working in a secret room of the office for which would serve as his home for the next six months. “Triple A Sarium is so wonderful a playtoy too.” ______________________________________________________________________________

Gabrielle, Casey, Simone, Lucille, Ruby, and Paula met up at The Tanooki’s Hammer. Paula running right towards Simone to give her a big warm hug, though Simone’s ridiculous ‘I’m A Cross-Rider’ sized breasts made it a little difficult.. “I never thought I’d see you in the flesh so soon.”

“Neither did I, just by mentioning Aristo’s name it scared away every lawyer I could find.” Simone, said, fused with Lucille. She had been drinking a glass of merlot which she sat down to kiss Paula on her cheeks, something she did even when the two were Paul and Simon . “So, with him gone are you coming home soon?”

“I have five more months to go... but that’s much better than fifty years.” Paula cheered, petting Ruby’s back. Being very careful to avoid the spikes, without hardlight she was very cold to the touch, but Paula didn’t seem to mind.

“Much!” Simone replied with a huge smile.

Gabrielle was laying on a recharging couch, taking turns between catching up with her marshal buddies in virtual and joining in on Paula’s conversation. “I can leave whenever I want, but first I’m going to find my old RIDE Zedimuse. I’m even saving my crossover back into a man for when I see him again.... then I’m going to Femizona for a few weeks before maybe finding a nice quiet place. Someone where there isn’t a lot of crossing and it’s peaceful. Laurasia looks promising.”

“I could use a new mechanic.” Simone smiled. “Venars is a farming community, no riding, and I think I was the first crossrider for as long as I’ve lived there.”

“Exciting, I may actually take you up on that.” Gabrielle said before returning to her game of Team Fortress 2:425th Anniversary Edition with the other marshals.

“I thought you said you didn’t have gender issues.” Paula teased, recalling a conversation the two of them had just the other day. “Why go back at all?”

“Shut up Paul.” Gabrielle said, her eyes closed as she bonked people away in virtual and hoping for a new hat to drop.

Paula glanced over at Gabrielle, but, she decided not to scream at her, not while Simone was there. The young cross-rider made even young had to put on her best face for Simone. It seems we all try to act our best when our closest friends are around. It may bring one to wonder if one has a natural drive to try and impress those closest to them or if we just don’t want our loved ones to know how terrible of people we truly are. “She means well...” Paula explained to Simone.

“I saw the news report, I could only guess what has become of Aristo’s workers. I knew he was a bad apple, but this, this apple was indeed too moldy for his own good..” Simone sighed, tapping on the table. She had something buried in her mind that needed to come out. “Paula... Has it been good to you?”

“What?” Paula asked, taking a seat next to Simone.

“Your new body.” Simone said with her own voice.

“I’ve already told you , I feel like myself for the first time in my entire life. Is it worth going on about?” Paula asked getting annoyed. “I’d rather be doing than talking. Talking is all I seem to have done lately.”

“Just thinking some things over.” Simone said, looking downward at her expansive bosom. The cross-rider rubbed over the furry top of her bosom, biting her lip in pleasure as she hadn’t turned over the increased sensitivity from the previous night yet. Atleast, not for the top half of her bottom. Lucille had already deactivated the increased sensitivity for the bottom half. The robotic skunk knew Traveling on a skimmer at any speed worth going without that would have made the seats wetter than if someone hacked Venars’ weather controls to include constant tsunamis. The frenchwoman got up and faced Paula, wanting to say something before she went to be by herself. “Hmm.. uh Paula, I’m really glad you’re happy and safe from that ghastly Aristo. If I find out he hurt you.....”

“He didn’t.” Paula replied, scratching behind her head as she thought over the few days she had been present at the ACE Evolutions facility. “He wasn’t even scary, the whole time he pretty much acted like a saturday morning cartoon. I was more annoyed than scared when he threatened me.”

“Good, now excuse-moi, I must be heading to le mademoiselle's room.” Simone said, walking to the women’s restroom. Lucille’s default walking animation causing an amazing amount of butt wagging and had her instinctively lift up her tail. Many bar patrons watched her do so. It was obviously that Lucille was pleasure support armor, it seemed fun at first but Simone wasn’t sure. The woman looked at the glances she was getting and became a little distressed, but didn’t want to show it. It took awhile for her to come out as she began having a long conversation with Lucille.

Paula was now alone again, even she had been looking at Simone though more in observation than in admiration. The young lady was not sure if she liked men or women yet, she knew she liked women before she was one, but not if her sexuality had changed. All this working for Aristo gave her little time to figure her new self out. These two weeks would not be wasted. Nor would Paula waste anymore time on waiting for Simone to come out, she sent a few messages asking if everything was fine, but she assured her it was. Paula began thinking maybe two vaginas means twice as long in the bathroom, but still, she was getting too bored to keep waiting so she decided to engage in something a little more fun. ::Gabrielle? Are there any open slots in that TF2 game you’re playing?::

Hmm... Some on the RED Team, but I warn you I’m good and am presently on BLU. Do enter this realm we require people to bring balance to the battalions regardless of marshall status.:: Gabrielle replied with a send. ::If you’ve never played the game before you’ll need to sign up with a Steam Account, but that’s... Gaaah SPY! THAT SOLDIER IS A SPY! Oh no, you idiots he’s heading for the intel... No the soldier. STOP HEALING HIM AND USE THE DAMN UBERSAW... Paula I trust you can do that yourself.::
I already have a Steam Account:: Paula replied fusing with Rubyand opening up her Steam library. She was usually more into casual games, but she did have a few penpals she played this very game with. Albeit most of the times as a spectator or a medic. ::And we’re in!::

Suddenly Paula found herself in a small room with three doors, a red one labeled RED, a blue one labeled BLU, and white one with a Question Mark. Following Gabriel’s advice she headed for the RED Door, though found herself unable to open it until she changed her virtual boy image to one with hands instead of bat wings, keeping said wings on her back instead though her ears, bat tail, and back spikes remained. “I need to remember to set this as default.” She said to herself wiggling her fingers, welcoming back the traditional human hands she missed, she’d rather have wings than a dick, but having fingers was always wonderful to experience again. The batgirl put her hand on the door knob and on the other side was the safety room where she could pick her class or walk out of the safety room as a weaponless spectator impervious to harm. The game would not count her on the BLU Team until she chose a class. Instructions were written on posters hang on the walls with a list of nine classes, advice on how to use each, and a note saying to say the power phrase to summon that class’ weapon cache and uniform. Though Paula had mostly the defaults save for a few promotional weapons and hats and one or two of the drops. After examining it for some time eventually she said “Sistah I hurt people!” causing her purple outfit to turn into a light blue shirt with black jeans and shoes. On her head there was a hat with a microphone attached to an ear piece, her hair didn’t change much as she was a natural brunette. The last change was her chest which gained a few cup sizes to better match the Female version of the Scout on the poster. It was a well known funfact that the original version of the game only had male variants of the characters. With the exception of Cape Nord and Sturmhaven’s editions all of the TF2 redos on Zharus had two genders and the random select usually put no importance into the player retaining sex as both variants counted as their own class. More of an engine thing than any real reason, due to Zharusian Gender Roles being non-existant this was never patched. Though the Earth version from Paula’s past made sure the gender variants were only there to prevent women from choosing male characters and strictly off limits to males. All of the power phrases were gendered for ease of selection purposes except for the Pyro’s phrase “Hudda Hudda Huh” as in the original game s/he alternated between gender pronouns due to it never being officially revealed which one he or she was.

Paula noted that the game world was more realistic to her than when she ran this game with just her implants, her chest felt heavy to her, her skin was soft, she could feel the fabric of her outfit and even the air was like breathing actual oxygen. It was little surprise to her, but given that she hadn’t played this with her RIDE yet whom was watching but not manifested into a form. “Ruby since I’m playing TF2 with the marshalls, disable the censors for me please. It would just look embarrasing if I weren’t swearing.” Paula said, doing a double take at her voice. The girl had forgotten that the characters’ accents were applied to the players and thus had said that in an archaic brooklyn accent.

I don’t like that kind of talk, but you’re a big girl, so... alright:: Ruby sent, she wanted to talk Paula out of it having been built to watch over and protect children, part of why her nanites made Paula look like she was 14, but she complied nonetheless. ::See if I did it right.::

“Hot damn” Paual said, giggling a little, the girl had missed swearing. “Thanks Ruby” Paula said as she began looking through a bag that appeared on the floor once her Scout clothes came on. As mentioned before, Paula didn’t have too many weapons. Just the default scattergun, a can of bonk which she took over the pistol, and a choice between the default bat and the New Boston Basher. “Ugh... if I miss I hit myself? No thanks!” she said reading a tag attached to it for its instructions.

The weapons all vanished after she made her decisions, all except for the default bat which she threw up in the air and caught by the handle just like the Scout is known to do. The game temporarily gave her the skill set of whatever character was selected, some people who play the game long-term and non-causally eventually had them ingrained in their minds granting them in real life. Another feature the Earth version patched to avoid, always the overprotective ones who claim that it would just lead to people learning to use guns and try going on crime sprees if they let people learn combat that way. Though here on Zharus where life depends on people who can hold their own in dangerous situations, especially in the Dry Ocean where most of the mining is done, it was applauded and considered a helpful side-effect. “Say goodbye to your kneecaps chuckleheads.” Paula taunted while making one final adjustment, replacing her black cap with the The Hermes, a brown cap with red goggles attached to the hat itself and between the straps there was a Scout Symbol. After taking a few practice swings with the bat, the weapon Paula felt most comfortable using she stepped out of the safe spot, walked past the ammo and health restoration cabinets and out into 2Fort where an Engineer was working on his dispenser with his Jag wrench. The game had various modes, some for casual play, some fore hardcore. This was clearly hardcore as the Engineer had to actually work on the Dispenser the same way one would build the machine in real life, a task fortunately made easy by the game gifting the players the needed skillsets, but still it was more time consuming than just hitting the objects to get them to build and upgrade causing Engineers to have to work fast. Though it did let balance out by letting The Jag wrench give an even faster build time than usual Engineers have a much extended list of buildable objects, including mini-sentries on all weapons with the gunslinger that caused them to be built in casual modes changed to be more of a buster gun that doubles as a wrench.

“Yo hardhat, whats up?” Paula asked as she looked over the sentry. “Yous making the dispenser all wrong, I’d know, I’m a mechanic in real life.”

“Keep your advice to yourself youngin’, ya’ll should be cappin’ that intel, not telling me how to play my class.” The Engineer responded picking up the dispenser and moving it to the nearby Snipers nest where two female snipers were aiming with their Huntsman Bows at the RED Team, ready to kill any who came near.

Paula was about to say something else, but the Engineer had a point and besides the dispenser seemed to be working so she went downstairs to the small patch of land connecting the two forts. It wasn’t a big map, but it was the symbolic one of TF2. There were three ways she could go, down through the sewers that go through the river under a bridge, the bridge itself, or she could have gone back upstairs and jumped on the roof of the bridge by leaping off the Sniper’s Nest. The young girl wasn’t too used to the game’s physics yet, so she went outside onto the bridge running across as fast as she could, her breasts were a little big since this was a video game afterall, but the programmers had the foresight to give Female Scouts a sports bra to prevent jiggling from getting in the way. Scout Paula almost made it across, but she didn’t notice the blue somewhat glowing spike balls until they were seconds from detonating. “Okay, that don’t look good.” Paula exclaimed as she jumped into the river, loving the feel of water on her skin. “Virtual, but kinda nice... especially since it’s so hot out here.” She said to herself before diving under and into the sewers, if this wasn’t a virtual world with clean water she would never have done this. Regardless the sewers weren’t very long, but they did have a BLU enemy Soldier in them.

“Die Maggot!” The Soldier exclaimed pulling the trigger on his Direct Hit Bazooka, Paula hit the deck the missile missing her entirely and due to the weapon’s special effect of having pratically no explosion damage unless hit. Paula was unharmed and free to smash the Soldier’s kneecaps with her bat. “OW... ow.. oooh.. This is why I hate scouts.” he said to himself, struggling to get up.

“We’s using Pain Sensors? Oh... I am so, so sorry, I did not realize that we were or I would have picked a different class.” Paula apologized, stopping to see if the Soldier was alright.

“Yeah, well it’s a marshall tradition to do so. We have the games double as training... I’ll be fine but...” The Soldier explained, pausing to suddenly grab Paula’s neck when she came near smashing her head into the concrete pipe of the sewer while choking her. “Never ask the enemy how he’s doing!”

Paula panicked, freaking out as the back of her head began bleeding. That was dumb in retrospect, running purely on adrenaline the Scout switched to her scattergun via a mental command causing the bat to de-materialize and get replaced with the weapon she wanted instantly. Giving her the best chance to get a headshot on the soldier whose head was blown clean off allowing Paula to get her bearings as her head stopped pounding. Struggling to walk through the sewers she prayed for no more enemies, keeping her gun pointed forward and shooting wildly every time she heard something. There was a medipack around which made her right as rain with little pain the second she touched it. For balance reasons it didn’t require one to do anything except for touch it, even though ammo drops didn’t work that way. It just wouldn’t be possible to use them if one was bruised too badly with pain sensors on otherwise.

“Oooh that’s much better, I’ll need to be careful now that I know what’s going on...” Paula exclaimed stretching

The enemy’s base is where she was, right where their sewer began however she would not get a good chance to be careful as her recovery was made worthless. Only two seconds later as she was blown apart by the sentry gun blocking this path. Paula’s blood and guts all over the floor, with her weapon. The enemy engineer behind the sentry grabbed her discarded weapon which converted into parts for her to use to make that killing machine even more deadly. “Hehe, well good night Irene” the female engineer wearing a data miner hat with holes cut into it for her lynx ears said to Paula’s ghost before giving an evil laugh to go along with a slap to her own knee.

“Okay, can’t go this way.” Paula said to herself as she looked over her transparent ghostly form and then her exploded body. “So am I out or?”

No sooner had Paula asked, although the Lynx Eared Engineer couldn’t hear or see her anyway, was she teleported back to the saferoom with a locked crate in her hands. Back in the olden days this would have required money to open, but in the Qubitite Age this was just how the game told you that you had new items. An adjustment made to ensure the game was balanced as opposed to pay-to-win, a change made long after its creators had passed onto the world after all other worlds removed the game’s item shop entirely. The only time money was required for a new item was for promotional items from other games, especially if it wasn’t an Oil Age franchise and thus copyrighted. Some argue that item drops are silly period if they aren’t apart of some cash shop and thus some versions of the game have you start with all items though many fans felt it more fun if the items had to be earned through drops, achievements, and trading. The key needed to open the box was back in her bag of items, one spawned in there each time you got a new crate and the note attached to each one reminded of this. “Okay... let’s see here.” Paula said to herself, getting down on her knees looking through her inventory bag until she found the key. It didn’t take long to do so as she had very little in the way of items. “Eureka! I mean, freakin’ sweet, let’s see what I got!” Paula plunged the key into the crate’s lock and turned it to unlock and remove all the chains keeping it shut. The eager scout opened the lid and saw two things, a Sandman Bat for the Scout and a note attached.

The note read “Dear MewMew Paul, you have a Steam Friend Request from Viva La France. Accept or Ignore?” Paula immediately pressed Accept instantly realizing it was from Simone who walked in behind her moments later in a male avatar with skunk ears and tail.

“You forgot to update your Steam name and add moi, but anyway Gabrielle told me you were playing for RED Team so I thought I would join you.” Spoke the virtual image of Simon. “I saw your last replay, girl that was awful, you go low once again, but this time stay behind me.” he said petting behind Paula’s ears after taking off her hat and then putting it back on when she was done.

“Just added you, but why are you a guy again?” Paula asked, expecting the busty and overly feminine Simone to appear before her instead of her old boss Simon with Lucille’s tags.

“Oh? I forgot to change it from when I was in le restroom, how silly of moi. Well, I’ll fix it right now. Ladies, I never really was on your side!” Simon said, becoming Simone once more, this time a version with small breasts, just enough to be present. There was an alternate model that featured larger ones and an unbuttoned suit. The game had quite the attention to detail, though She-Spy’s breasts looked small, they were actually under a binder to make it easier for her to disguise. In addition to that Simon obtained a suit with a bow tie, the Dr. Woah outfit for Spy with a funeral veil draped under a french beret replacing the male Spy’s mask. The female spy had the most variations out of any of the female models, this one in particular left Simone with incredibly long hair, though she had mentally asked the game to let her keep her normal white hair with this. Simone actually was a fan of the game and had a considerable number of items, especially for Spy. “Okay mon amie, you play defense on the RED sewer entrance until I give you the signal. Once I do it will be safe to cross into the BLU Sewer. Whatever you do, do not act like I am on your side. Actually it will help if you shoot at moi, but miss a lot. Understand”

Paula nodded slowly. “Alright, but won’t I hurt you or get in trouble with my team for friendly fire?” she asked a little confused by this plan.

“That is why you will be missing.” Simone answered after a slight delay to check if friendly fire was on, which it was for all weapons save the Pyro’s which had a “Spy Check” switch on it. “Anyone on your side should realize what you are doing, I am le spy afterall. My disguise must not be with flaw.”

“Sounds like a plan!” Paula high fived her friend and went out into 2Fort, she turned around and re-opened the safety room door after realizing Simone didn’t follow her. “You coming?”

“I have to grab my weapons first silly goose.” Simone called after having picked out only L’Etranger, a revolver, and her disguise kit. On all the other weapons she was still deciding. “You go on ahead and guard le sewer as I said, it would look suspicious if we went out together anyway.”

Paula gave a thumbs up and took her fort’s entrance to the sewer, walking ankle deep in strangely clean water with no one around, just a broken sentry, a med-pack, and a box of ammo. “Hmm...” Paula hummed putting her weapons away to get a better look at the busted machine, noting the sentry immediately as being suspicious as she went close to it to investigate. It was pointed downward with a flattened version of a character from what appeared to be Portal attached to it making the thing spark and eying Paula suspiciously. “Oh hey you’re GlaDOS right?” Paula asked the Portal character she couldn’t identify. “What’s wrong with this sentry? Are you its AI?”

“How bloody stupid can you be mate, I’m Wheatly, not effin’ Glados. I’m sapping the Sentry for this guy who really hates that color you’re wearing. Not someone you want to get involved with really, but he’s nice bloke when you get to know him though. Say isn’t that him behind you?” Wheatly answered seemingly oblivious to the game’s purpose.

“What?” Paula asked as she side stepped and turned around with the same motion. “Oh crap you’re a spy.”

“Damn it!” exclaimed a Male BLU spy, this one had the ears and tail of a bear and most of the traditional Male Spy look to him. More importantly than his looks were his actions, he had been seconds away from stabbing Paula with a knife called “Your Eternal Reward” and had pierced through Wheatley instead, destroying him and restoring the sentry which fired several rounds of bullets at the Spy who recoiled in pain with each shot. During his blood loss and hail of bullets he pointed a revolver at Paula and was about to fire. This desperation measure worked as Paula jumped out of the way, knocking over the sentry by accident which freed the spy from the attacks. “Foolish girl, now you will die by your own fault.” The Spy taunted, holding his sides until he made it to the medpac.

“Yeah that was stupid of me...” Paula said, backing up with her pants soaking wet as she crawled backwards into a corner. She tried summoning her scattergun, but the spy fired a hand shot to knock it away. It worked better than the Spy hoped, Paula threw the gun across the room from the pain of it. It seemed like Paula was screwed as she held her bleeding hand close to her body, the bullet embedded in it did not feel too good. “Ow, ow, ow.. How do you people do this for fun?”

“You build up a tolerance after awhile, in real life I’ve had my arms torn off by a Gorilla Fuser, bullets are nothing.” The Spy explained, rubbing his gun arm with his free arm. “You can still feel phantom pains even after you grow new arms for yourself, did you know that?”

Paula panted, only half-listening, staying shivering in the corner with her legs refusing to move from fear. “A little, I lost a leg to a gang war I wound up in the middle of on Earth, I still have the metal replacement I used to have back at my parents’ house.” Paula replied, trying to take her mind off the hand.

“Earthers... No wonder you suck at this game” The Spy insulted, taking a pleasure out of seeing Paula struggling. In the Dry Ocean fighting Slavers, Anarchists, and Integrates he’d never take this long, but a game was a game.

Paula was glad this was taking so long as she suddenly realized there was the ammo crate not far from her with a missile for Soldier’s bazooka sticking out of it. “Still, I’m doing pretty good for someone who is fighting marshalls.” Paula said, hoping to distract the Spy as she reached for the missile.

“Nice try, batgirl, but I already know that trick.” The Spy warned, pointing his Ambassador right at Paula’s head.

Paula seemed discouraged by this, but still reached for the missile grasping at straws. “Oh, you do. I thought I was being original.”

Spy kept his focus on Paula’s head, cocking the gun with a smirk. “It won’t work. No one is coming to save you, distracting me while you ask for help would only work if realism mode wasn’t on. You can’t even send a PM under these settings, though I should hurry up and kill you just to be safe”

Paula was relieved to hear that as she pulled back the missile to hide behind her back, very thankful that he was so interested in keeping focus at her head. “Oh.. I can be a moron sometimes...” Paula’s acting wasn’t very good, it was obviously a lie she spoke, but the Spy didn’t care or even notice as he pulled the trigger. This proved a fatal mistake as once he started going pulling back on the gun’s firing mechanism Paula threw the missile like a football causing the spy to shoot that instead of her head by mistake which naturally blew the Spy into many pieces. “But having you hit the wrong thing twice makes me look good.” Paula giggled as she got up and picked up her scattergun. Runing out of the sewers just in time to fake shots at Simone who had been held up herself by looking through her vast inventory to find the gear she wanted and running around her base to look for an enemy to take the shape of. (Your Eternal Reward only lets someone disguise as the person they backstab, but hides the body better to make up for it)

The girl facepalmed after two shots, seeing that Simone’s disguise was nothing more than a paper mask in front of her face. “Oh really? Are you really going to be this stupid?” In actuality Paula failing to realize that was just what she looked like to RED Team and not BLU team worked in her favor. The Heavy with squirrel ears and tail who was about to attack Simone under suspicion of being a spy decided not too, believing that Paula’s comments were about her own aiming. Though now she had a new problem, the Heavy was swimming towards her and revving up the minigun. Paula tried firing the Scattergun, but it needed to reload from faking shots at her friend. Immediately she freaked out and began screaming, or atleast tried too and instead made no sounds, just a ringing in Paula’s ear informing her that Gabrielle had turned on a mute for her technology disrupting shout to help the game run smoother. The Scout was reloading as fast as she can, dropping bullets from her panic. One close call after another! It turned out that her panic was pointless was Simone had backstabbed him before the gun fired more than two bullets, one that missed and another that grazed Paula’s shoulder.

“Keep your cool. I know the pain is real, but you can’t keep getting scared of it!” Simone lectured quickly before swimming into the BLU sewer entrance before her cover was blown. Paula followed, but stayed behind Simone, only staying close enough to get whatever signal she was supposed to wait for.

“So... what now?” Paula asked, pointing her weapon backwards where she entered from.

“Now you stay right here and switch to your bat, you’re in close quarters so it will be quite effective. Just don’t come in until I give le word.” Simone whispered to Paula before walking slowly into the bottom floor of the BLU Fort where Paula died last time. The bushy tailed mercenary could have moved faster but needed to mimic the speed of the Heavy, like last time the female engineer was present and with an even more powerful sentry. “Greetings Comrade. I have eliminated spy, but I think she may have Dead Ringer.” Simone lied mimicking the Heavy’s voice and accent as part of her disguise.

“Well then she’s in here somewhere” The Engineer responded, walking away from her sentry and right next to Simone, squinting her eyes at the way she came from.

Paula gasped upon hearing the Enemy Engineer’s voice echo through the sewer, but stopped herself before she actually said anything.

“Eyup, that yellow bellied rat is in here, I just heard her.” The lynx-eared engineer switched to her widowmaker, a military looking shotgun that fired off from her machine parts and not shotgun shells, giving more parts and shells if she hit than it took to fire. After loading the weapon she went straight into the sewer hoping to bump into an invisible spy. Paula heard that and retreated back into the lake under the bridge outside and looked upward from the water for her enemy. It had been twenty seconds (Paula wasn’t sure if it was the game or if riders can breathe longer under water) when the engineer got to the end of the short pipe system and after failing to find anyone she looked into the water as it was the most obvious place to look. “Well Howdy darlin’” the engineer cheered when she found her target. The water would have stopped the bullets so she didn’t fire, instead she switched to her Gunslinger. The Widow Maker vanished and the glove the character always wore came off to reveal a robot hand with a laser buzzsaw formed in the palm.

Paula swam up to catch her breath and tried flying out, only to remember that she couldn’t do that either. “That would have been too easy.” she said to herself and ducked back under the water, to have a better look at where the gunslinger shots would be going to better avoid them. They were faster than she expected though, as she avoided getting her torso got open only to lose a leg. The same one she lost on Earth!

Simone, who had thrown a red tape recorder type of sapper, named for looking just like a tape recorder, onto the sentry rushed out into the sewer after not hearing anything but the whirring of the gunslinger. When she saw the engineer shooting these discs at Paula, Simone got up to her from behind and pushed her face first right into water, but she held onto her from the back. This dissolved her disguise as any aggressive action would, but it was obvious that she was the spy anyway if she was attacking people.

Paula took this chance to swim back into the sewer, though it took awhile with only one leg it was easy to crawl past the pinned engineer. “You’re Simon! I should have spy checked you first, Killing you would have been fun!” The Engineer snarled at Simone before the one legged scout boinked her on the head a few times with the sandman bat she carried with her, knocking her out.

“Yes well it’s been fun seeing you again Rebecca. Sorry about the first time.” Simone said to the unconscious engineer, though her mind could tell register what was going on around her she just couldn’t see or move, the game was however nice enough to let her hear if she was directly being spoken to. Once Rebecca the Engineer was out Simone slid her into the water and fired off a few revolver rounds into her shoulder for good measure to help her bleed to death as well as drown.

“You knew her?” Paula asked as Simone carried her to the medpac on her shoulder, blood dripped from her leg as she hopped to keep up with the one carrying her. The pain wasn’t too bad, the cut was clean and it wasn’t the first time Paula had been without her left leg.

“Old girlfriend of mine from back when I lived in Cape Nord.” Simone explained, setting Paula down on top of a medpac instantly restoring her leg. “I mentioned to you that I didn’t know about the sexism as I had just landed in Aloha, all I heard was that it was a good place for men who valued their manliness. There was a time where I had been deciding if the Patriarch's life style was le one for me despite the initial shock of it. Sadly I did so while dating her, I got away too much with treating her like dirt than I am comfortable with. All in all I’d say it’s the one part of my life I completely regret.” Simone said as she took a few shots at the sentry. The Red Tape Recorder only disabled it and made it downgrade, it did not destroy it so she had to do that herself.

“And now you’re a woman.” Paula stated the somewhat ironic observation. “Funny how that works?”

Simone breathed deeply, sitting down with Paula as the two caught a moment to rest. “Yes, well... remember what I said about honor Paula? How I valued my masculinity up till the end? Well, I don’t dislike being a woman.”

“Yeah, what about it?” Paula pondered wondering where her friend was going with this, surely Simone wasn’t trying to say that was a lie.

“I don’t, I love it, it feels very natural to me and it’s fun, but... Do you think I’m still an honorable person?” Simone asked, not focused on the game anymore. “I drink constantly, am even more of a french stereotype than I was before, I’ve worked less on RIDEs and more on having sex. Even with more customers I just haven’t been doing it as much. I don’t seduce so much as I spread my legs... I’m worried that, being a woman although fun has made me, not so all-there.”

“Well, uhh, it’s new to you.” Paula replied, scratching behind her head not sure of what else to say. “I mean you were always a little outrageous, not that you’re a woman, people consider that more of a good thing. Atleast, that’s the impression I got.”

“Because outrageous women are sluts.” Simone pointed out. “Simon had a lot of sex too, but, I never let it interfere with my work. I just, don’t know if this was a good idea after all.” After saying that, the spy got up and started pacing. “I’m just starting to think my brother was right when he told me that Women aren’t honorable, they’re too enabled for that to be true.”

“Simone, listen to me. You are still one of the greatest people I know, you’re loose yes, but you’re also a powerful figure who stands up as a beacon of light for people. Look at how you’re helping me know.” Paula stood up, stomping on the ground and giving her friend an angry look. “If you think something went wrong during the cross and you have gender dysphoria that’s something else.”

“I don’t have Gender Dysphoria Paula!” Simone countered, pulling two x-rays of her brain from her pockets and showing them to the bitter scout, screenshots taken by Lucille. “Male Brain with Simon, Female Brain with Simone, the body fits just fine. It’s curved and comfy in all the right ways, I love my softness and my alluring figure. It’s my soul I’m worried about.”

“Well what do you want me to do about it?” Paula demanded, throwing the ball that came with her Sandman weapon up and down trying to entertain herself.

“Well, I have a back-up copy of my old body back in a clinic in Cape Nord. It’s slightly older because I hadn’t ridden a RIDE when I had it made. I can transport my brain back into it and see if it helps sort myself out, see if I feel like I have honor again.” Simone explained, getting fired up as she talked. “I have to know if I’m going crazy or if being a woman was a bad idea, even if I don’t have GD. Now first I need you to do something for me, I’ll need your memories of....” Paula had been fully listening, but unable to listen to much else as she exploded in the middle of that sentence. Playing this game while talking wasn’t a good idea.

“Wow Simone! What the fuck happened to you?” Paula shouted, at first thinking it may have been some sort of Spy Weapon that did that but then she saw a Demoman who was also an anthropomorphic rat cocking his weapon. Gabrielle, or Gabriel given that she was a he in this avatar.

“You crossriders never shut up do you? It’s always woman this, vaginas that.” Gabriel said walking close slowly for dramatic effect. “I can’t have an avatar that isn’t somehow related to rodentiality or womanhood, two things I despise, but you don’t see me going on about it.”

Paula swallowed, she wasn’t sure how she was going to handle this without Simone. Gabriel looked pissed and the aura that he was giving off was pure rage and power. “Well atleast you’re going to explode me painlessly hehehehe.” She said with a nervous laughter. “Right?”

“Giving up already?” Gabriel asked, firing several grenades from his launcher which Paula rolled forward to avoid. “No? Well fight me. You rejected my offer of helping you learn your dreams and if you’re a coward ontop of that I should do you a favor and kill you for real.”

Paula nodded, “Alright, well, maybe I do hold back too much... last time I cut loose Aristo got in trouble.” she said before she charged and began swinging her sandman bat at Gabriel who blocked with the Charging Targe, a shield the Demoman can choose to be holding in exchange for no stickybombs.

“Pathetic.” Gabriel was not pleased with Paula’s attitude nor combat skills. “It’s a virtual arena, you have to use all of your skills, not just the weapon.” He said as he sweeped Paula’s leg knocking her on her ass. “If you truly suffered Gender Dysphoria, then you should have known pain strong enough to lead you to true passion for battle.”

“So you do have a gender issue?” Paula asked smuggly in a ‘I-Told-You-So” voice.

Gabriel sighed, closing his eyes for only a split second, once he opened them his grenade launcher was replaced with an Eyelander Sword, which missed Paula who rolled out of the way of it and began fencing her Sandman with his Highlander. “What you heard from Casey is right, I have a male brain and a female body, and it hurts more than anything I’ve ever experienced. I’d long since given up on fleeing Aristo, but I still tried. Giving yourself to the pain shows a power like you’d never believe as long as you retain your power to dream.” He ranted during the fight, giving little effort into the clash, mainly blocking Paula’s moves..

“I told you, there’s nothing I need more than my own womanhood. I have that, so what’s the point?” Paula repeated her counter-argument from the previous day.

“You believe me, you believe in the power of dreams.” Gabriel argued, citing a perfectly good source. “You are still fighting even with pain turned on and the knowledge that you aren’t good at this. You dream of defeating my team, you dream of accomplishing something beyond all odds. Don’t lie to yourself and say that a uterus is all you need. Otherwise you wouldn’t be fighting the marshalls, you want excitement, you want to say that you lived and gave it your all.”

“I’m just playing a game.” Paula replied, her arms getting tired and her weapon doing nothing to actually touch her opponent. “So what if there’s pain in it, my whole life has been pain.”

“I hate it when you argue with me Reverbek, I don’t see the point in it. Why do you want to deny that life is bigger than your sex?” Gabriel questioned, getting far more furious with Paula and going on the offensive. “Is it because you’re scared? Is it because you’ve lived your whole life dreaming of one solitary event and you want nothing to take the splendor from it? Is it because you notice horror around you even still and want to pretend that it’s not frightening for you got what you most desire? Your whole life has been pain, dreams help you do something about it. All you do is scream, cry, and talk about how you’re finally free, but a free person doesn’t have to scream, cry, and constantly remind herself that she’s free.” Gabriel had been wilting away Paula’s wooden bat the whole time, she had hoped that it gave her a sharper edge, but once Gabe was done ranting he sliced the Sandman in half.

Paula had no response and now no weapon as she begin backing up with Gabriel’s sword to her throat. “Well.... you sure are passionate about this.” She noted keeping her eyes in the blade.

“I once had a best friend who also had Gender Dysphoria, she became so wrapped up in her new sex that she became obsessed with it to the point where she believes that all things must revolve around it. I haven’t seen Karl in years, not since she started that Lady Or The Tiger joint in Femizona.” Gabriel explained, getting Paula into a corner. “She even tried to force me to cross, saying that man was defective and women needed to be the ones we aspire to be like, even when she complained that feminists did the same to her both on Zharus and on Earth. If I can do something for another with that condition, it’s ensure they don’t become Kayla.”

Paula looked back at Gabriel fearlessly. “So that’s what it is huh? You think I’ll become as rotten as the Valks? After what women like them did to me on Earth?”

Gabriel retracted his sword and grinned. “That’s a good start, Kayla joined the Valks immediately after she crossed, even with how cruel they were to her as a man. Karl only came back from Sturmhaven after I threatened to excommunicate her for it. She felt good and bought into the whole it-feeling-good-because-women-are-divine thing they do. Kayla couldn’t set goals for herself outside of womanhood, thus her crossover because the height of her development! There was no going higher and I couldn’t get her to see otherwise.”

Paula walked around Gabriel and towards the more open part of the room, towards the stairs leading into the BLU Base “So because I said that you’re going to let me into your base?” she looked back at Gabriel with disbelief.

“No, I’m giving you the chance to pick up that knife your friend drop when she exploded into that fine red mist and continuing the fight, otherwise I’ll use the Charging Targe’s special ability and decapitate you right now.” Gabriel warned getting into the proper charging pose. “There’s no way you would make it in time.”

Paula looked towards the puny knife that was Your Eternal Reward on the ground, she thought of picking it up, but after comparing it to the Eyelander she realized this could never end well. Her class didn’t even have the skill set needed to wield it effectively. Instead Paula threw that Sandman Ball up and down once more, formulating a plan. “Hmm... ball...”

“Don’t stall with me. Pick it up and fight or die.” Gabriel repeated, stomping his hindpaw. “I’m not going to say it again.”

“Well, when you crossback, you might want to have your brain changed instead of your body. Because it may not be the greatest wonder like your friend says, but there is one thing I LOVE about being a girl that makes manhood seem lacking.” Paula said oh-so-smuggly. “Something that I could never see how males put up with.”

Gabriel looked down and shook his head, this being the last thing he wanted to hear from Paula. “And what’s that?” he asked, hoping she’d say something not stupid.

“My genitals don’t dangle unprotected outside my body anymore.” Paula stated giving the ball a good toss between Gabriel’s legs who fell over instantly, holding his crotch as he laid face down in the water. “God that feels much better, and you don’t have all that flesh bunched up in your underwear. Anyway I’ve gotta go cap your intel now.” Paula declared as she picked up the Your Eternal Reward and ran off into the base where things were really warming up. Almost immediately she was under attack by everyone on BLU Team, she threw the YER towards a Heavy’s eye and tried running to the side hallway instead of straight ahead.

Back in the sewers Gabriel laid powerless on the ground in the sewer, getting up slowly. “Okay, I’ll admit, that was a clever solution... and... she did have a good point.... but now I’m even angrier with her.” he said to himself as swam out the sewer to form a plan one that he’d need because Paula was able to zoom past the Sentry in the courtyard outside of the BLU Team Intelligence room thanks to the Bonk Energy Drink she wisely equipped over her pistol giving her temporary invulnerability and enhanced speed, atleast until she made it to the intelligence room. There was a briefcase sitting on a table just behind one more hallway and right next to it was Gabriel looking pissed and having beaten her here.

“How did you get here before me?” Paula said, stepping away from him as she got out her last remaining weapon. That scattergun.

“I know a few shortcuts Reverbek, it wasn’t nice hitting me in the junk like that.” Gabriel said bitterly, posing with his sword. “With only one weapon left I will be besting you this time.”

Paula looked at Gabe, then the briefcase, then him. “I have more than one left!” she said triumphantly, jumping towards the briefcase and proceeding to use it as a shield against the Eyelander’s attacks and following three successful blocks, she smacked it against Gabe’s head and took off.

It seemed like Paula was about to win this, all she had to do was leave with the briefcase. Unfortunately for her a female voice called out over the gameworld. “The Enemy has taken our intelligence.” and if that weren’t bad enough everyone was automatically given a compass pointing right at her.

“Oh fuck, well that’s not good!” Paula said to herself. She was able to make it up to the room before the Sniper Nest without much trouble, as it was reached by just taking the second of the two stairwells in the intelligence room. Once she got here pyros took note of her and began to charge at her with flames spewing everywhere. Continuing to run she dipped into the Sniper’s Nest with the Pyros on her tail. Luckily one of the snipers was studying their compass to find her instead of paying attention to world around him. Giving her a chance to push him over and jump ontop of the roof above the bridge where though shots would taken at her from the remaining sniper and the pyros’ flare guns shots would be taken at them from the other team in addition to Paula randomly firing behind her back without looking and hoping to hit things. The BLU Team had very little way to aim and dodge enemy fire at the same time. Before anyone knew what happened Paula was back in the RED Base to capture the briefcase which in turn won the game. The winning woman was panting from how much running that was.

The game ended then and there with everyone reverting back to their normal avatars and shaking one another’s hands, or paws as some had furry avatars. Everyone was declaring each other a good game, though a few were ashamed of the fact that a civilian won it for the RED Team. Though his marshall friends wanted to hang out with him so more, Gabriel declined to instead transport himself, Paula, and Simone outside of the game and onto what looked like Final Destination from Super Smash Bros. Melee. There was more he had to say to them.

Paula and Simone looked around at the trippy environment surrounding the flat surface with confusion. “How did we get here?” Paula asked while flying noting that her wings were working again.

“I’m the Game Host, I decide where we go until you log out.” Gabriel informed now in the skeletal version of his avatar. “It was good to see my Marshall Comrades again, but you two are the ones I wish to talk too, besides our RIDEs are doing the same thing in Nature Range. First off, Paula you should remember today’s game. You can accomplish anything if you think before you get scared, envision before you accept it as hopeless.”

Simone was in her RIDE-Tagged Simon avatar once again and Paula in one that looked like she did in real life if the wings were on her back instead of replacing her hands. “Okay, thanks...” Paula said with a shrug. “It wasn’t easy with all those wounds on me, but I figured the faster I capped the intel, the quicker people would stop hurting me.”

“You did good Paula.” Simon said looking up at the flying Reverbek while laying down just relaxing, though after a few seconds she looked towards Gabriel “Though again, why are we here?”

“I’m scared of Paula becoming like an old friend of mine, honestly I thought she was beyond hope until I saw her in action. You Simon can leave if you want, I figured since you didn’t really know those marshalls and were hanging out with Paula first it’s fair that I leave you here.” Gabriel said coldly as he looked up at Paula. “Besides, gaming with that many people is fine, hanging out is pushing it.”

“Too true.” Simon responded. “Oh, Paula, before I was so rudely blasted apart by this ruffian. I was wondering if you could send me your memories from when you were Paul. I... I want to put my brain in my spare male body so that I may try to relearn my honor. I want to be prepared for what’s going to happen, since I can’t change my brain shape.”

“Alright, but I warned you.” Paula said as she began a transfer.

“Your honor has nothing to do with it.” Gabriel butted in. “You made a choice you weren’t ready to live with, and then you realized you had to live with it. Half-assing undoing it won’t do you any good.”

Simon looked towards Gabriel a little peeved and then looked back up at Paula. “I don’t know if I made le right choice, just because I like it, doesn’t mean it’s right for moi.” Simon said aloud, though his thoughts drifted to Shyver now that he had all his plans out in the open. “...Au revoir, I’ve got to go. If Aristo comes back you let me know immediately.” And with that, Simon left back to the real world and out of the bar, there was one more person she needed to talk this over with. ______________________________________________________________________________

Simone left Lucille in the Tanuki's Hammer as she wanted to keep hanging out with Ruby and Casey, it was for the best. This was something she needed to do alone, she went into Aristo, previously Shyver’s office. Having contacted him via sending to make sure it was okay and that she had clearance.

Once inside Simone’s twisted face became even more twisted. “Shyver.”

“Simone, it’s wonderful to see you again. I was heading to the Tanuki’s Hammer myself just now.” Shyver responded, giving his friend a big hug. Not just any, one of those guy tricks where his hands start at the butt and go up to the back to make it look like he cares about that more.

“I’m aware, but I wanted to talk to you in private without RIDEs influencing our decisions. Which is why I asked you to let Promethus out of the room for this.” Simone said nervously and unsure of herself. “...I’m thinking about really big things right now, and well... before I make any plans. I should consider your feelings. Did our date mean anything to you? Be honest.”

Shyver smiled at the woman in his arms. “Actually, I was only going as a formality. I was wondering if when I got the free time if you would join me on another date. This time not because you are a cross rider, but because you’re a wonderful woman.”

Simone looked at Shyver like she was joyful and depressed at the same time. “You’ve been very nice to Paula in spite of everything and you may have even saved her life. You legitimately care about the well being of others, even Aristo and not because of the money he gives you. I’ve always found you very handsome, not just as Simone either. I told Paula a few things, but... nothing about you.”

Shyver didn’t know what to say, he had been smitten by this new version of Bertrand, but had so far only admitted it to Aristo. He had just told Simone he planned a second date, but nothing about how he felt about her. “Simone what’s this about?”

The skunk eared lass turned around, trying to piece together her feelings. “I am thinking about transplanting my brain into a clone body until I can return my brain shape to normal. The more I think about it, the more I think that I’m nothing more than a man who became a whore because she crossed for all the wrong reasons. I have had more sex in a day than I’ve had in the last three months as Simon, put no effort into my work despite rising customers. But I think what’s really crossed the line is that a man offered to buy my garage and turn it into a strip club. I worry that I’m just not Simon and that I’m losing more of him everyday all because I felt spiteful and wanted something new that I could rub my family’s face in yet still feel closer to them.” Following this she turned around. “If I do this, Gender Dysphoria will be my cross for a long time, I’d have to bear it and relearn my self-control, never going back to Simone even if the temptation is great. Worst of all, I’d have to say goodbye to Lucille, but....”

Shyver looked right into Simone’s eyes with a mix of anger and empathy that one did not see often. “You have only been a woman for four days you’re not used too it yet, I was one once too myself. Your emotions get a little crazy and you tend to think more with your heart than your mind. That’s not a bad thing, for you it might be a terrific thing. Simon was always better with his heart than his head. You’re still that kind caring person who tries to sympathize and help everyone, the one who wouldn’t give up on Paula even after her lawyers say no. I just think you need to give this time. Your heart did this because you missed your birthplace and family, your heart is trying to undo it because it misses its birthplace and family.... I’m not good with.. words.. just sounding professional, but. If you had actually become a bad person from this, I wouldn’t love you.” Shyver stumbled upon these words, thinking of everything he could say to help convince Simone that she had nothing to worry about. In the end, all he really wanted to say was. “I do love you, I was excited the day I heard you were being paired with Lucille, I... I’ve always liked you, but I got the feeling we couldn’t be friends. I think it’s because, I was waiting for you Simone. I know that sounds stupid, but... I haven’t been this drunk in awhile!”

“Shyver....” Simone said meekly, he returned his affections, but that’s not how Shyver would put it if he were sober. He’d have it far more intellectually stated with some dry humor, not tripping over himself like a fifteen year old trying to ask out the cheerleading team’s captain.. “...Why are you back on the stuff? You know what happens when you drink too much.”

“Yes I am, if your best friend and CEO just became the most hated man on the planet you would be too.” Shyver rebutted. “I have plenty if you want to... to... get drunk.”

“You know I do.” Simone was unable to argue with Shyver’s logic and began pulling up a seat on the other side of Shyver’s desk as he poured two glasses of absinthe for them. This was done continuously for the next hour or so as they two talked about their favorite parts of Zharus and RIDE Mechanics for the most part. Both agreed early on not to talk about Aristo or Pierre.

The two let themselves temporarily forget their other worries, which eventually lead to them naked and on the floor. For drunk sex it was great sex. Simone wrapped herself around Shyver and the two followed their good time with turning the hardlight roof transparent and seeing the stars. “Shy.. Shyver... Isn’t it amazing how far we’ve come?” Simone asked drunkenly as she nuzzled on the man’s neck

“Since we were kids?” Shyver asked his voice far less intelligent sounding, an arm wrapped around Simone still playing with her breast. “Well yeah, that’s just what growing up is babe... You can’t be a kid forever er well you can.. I mean... Paula’s doing that... but metaphorically.”

“No I mean like, people. A long time ago, man looked at the stars wondering what was out there.” Simone said, waving her hand as she tried pointing up at a certain star, the human home planet itself! “Over there, twenty light years away on E-Arth.”

“You sa... you said E-Arth.” Shyver laughed.

“Yeah well... he looked up and thought that to travel amongst the stars would be mankind’s greatest achievement, to soar up there with angels.” Simone hiccuped for a second before continuing, truly in awe of the spectacle above them and what this sky meant to the Earth Middle Ages, nay to that Oil Age, or to the Early Colonizers “Now it’s hundreds of years later and... if humans can live on it we are on it, if we can’t, we terraform it. We’re all alone in the universe, no aliens out here, but... it’s like... we’re the angels now.. It was always meant to be us humans... The Universe is now just our plaything, our waters for swimming, like a swimming pool. Like like... it’s just you go through it and you get all these worlds and you just like.. pick one.. humans doing whatever where ever and God can’t stop them anymore. He’s not out here for us to beg.”

“You just made made, me realizish that I’ve seen three different skies and never once did I think what they thought... it was just the sky to me.” Shyver stated, looking for the moon he grew up on wondering if he can even see it from Zharus. The chubby vice president didn’t even consider how far away an entire planet is. “It makesh me feel ungrateful, humansh dreaming of something all their livesh and I just live in a time where it’sh so normal that I barely cared until now. What would our ancestors give for just five minutes, staring up at this sky, finally becoming them angelsh?”

“If they knew what it brought, everything.” Simone said, getting ontop of Shyver and planting a drunken kiss on his mouth.

“Oh... why’s dat?” Shyver asked, grabbing Simone’s wide and shapely rump. The duo feeling a second round coming on.

“Because my Panda-Eared little snookums.” Simone laughed as she began to straddle her new boyfriend. “There’s love up here... between you a man, and me a woman. Isn’t that the thing humanity cherishes most.”

“You’ve been a man for a very long time though.” Shyver highlighted. “Doesh that still make it romantic? I mean no disrespect for the homoshexuals or you or nothing.. but... I really do love you, but for the shake of poetry? I aint a homophobia or nothing.... I’m just saying, just shaying, the sake of poetry.”

“When man was confined to Earth, God chose human’s sexes and they had to live with it. Now that we’ve seen him not up here.. he’s not up here I mean..... we decide for ourselves, so it’s very romantic.” Simone spoke triumphantly. “Let’s celebrate our choices!”

“Mhmhmh, yes, let’sh” Shyver replied and the two celebrated until dawn.

The two arose once more at 18:30 the next day. The two naked lovers slept in for a very long time and didn’t feel like getting up either. The headache was intense for both of them, they barely remembered anything about the previous night. Shyver got up first, looking around the room for his pants. Simone arouse slowly, her whole body felt tingly. “Oooooh... good god, is it still night time?” she asked, looking up at the night sky in the roof. “We didn’t sleep very long... gaaah.. Hangover...”

“It’s night time for the next day.” Shyver corrected Simone who was still laying nude on the floor. “I think we overdid it for booze.”

“I’ll say... damn... I need to get back to Venars.. but uhh... Shyver...” Simone looked up at the man who had just managed to find his boxer shorts. “...This meant something to me.”

“Glad to hear it.” Shyver grinned, leaning over to give her a smooch. “Though this doesn’t count as our second date.”

“Let’s wait until that time to go at it again.” Simone pleaded, to which Shyver seemed to agree. “I’d love to stay for a movie, but... I’ve overstayed my welcome. Walk me to my RIDE?”

“I have some work I really need to be doing... I can’t spare another expense I”m afraid.” Shyver didn’t want to see her go, but he had other engagements that could not even be spared for a kiss goodnight.

Once Simone finally left, Aristo came out from his hiding spot. “Thank God, I thought she’d never leave.” The CEO barked getting in his chair and looking over Shyver disappointed. “How can you actually love trash like her?”

“She’s not trash Treyvan. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love her!” Shyver yelled at Aristo.

Aristo did a double take before narrowing his eyes at his assistant. “You haven’t called me by my real name in eons, I trust this woman isn’t impairing your judgment. All you did was have drunk sex with her. I’m going to blame this on the hangover. If I get the feeling you think she can replace me where your loyalties lie. She will not live to see the 26th century. This I promise you, and that’s a shame because it’s not that many years away and with me in charge of it you know it will be good.”

“Yeah... still hungover.” Shyver said sounding unsure. He wasn’t sure what she saw in Simone, but time would tell if it was something other than his own foolishness. “Mr. Enroygall... Lucille was one of your earlier and more successful PSA projects.. Is Simone going to Integrate.. with her?” He had to ask, he just couldn’t get her out of his mind.

“Indeed, living forever as a sexbot, perhaps she’ll make a nice consort for my kingdom.” Aristo answered. “More of a Jester, that disgusting wench isn’t worth my seed. Not that I'll have seed anymore, but, details are unimportant."

Shyver nodded complacently. “You’re definitely right about that Mr. Enroygall, not worth your seed.” he said before he looked up at the stars one more time. He knew the right thing to do was stand by Simone and expose his boss’ insanity, but a good part of him didn’t want things to change between him and the man he looked up to for a better chunk of his life. “I’m going to go outside and take a walk to clear this hangover.”

“Wonderful Shyver. I’ll be here if you need me.” Aristo said, turning to the Tigress RIDE Iris as soon as he left. “And, you my darling will need perfecting.” Shyver never returned that night, but Aristo didn’t care he was too busy being lost in his dreams of ultimate power. The one Dream that Shyver was beginning to think should never come true, not even on Zharus.

Together We RIDE
Preceded by: To Dream We RIDE
Succeeded by: Nearing The End Of Our RIDE