Raven of Cyberspace II Shadowheist
rating: +22+x

/reboot system

Valkyrie Neural Network Firmware 6.052 Property of Valravn Corporation booting..

Unit Information:

Model name: S-04 "Göndul"

Checking Cyberware status

Hephaestus Valkyrie Chassis: 100% Integrity

Odin Plasma Dispersal Device: 100% Integrity

Gauss Underwrist Cannon: 100% Integrity

Eye of Odin Ocular Paraprothesis: 100% integrity

Kinetic Shielding: 100% integrity

Intra-cervical Decking interface: 100% integrity

Error, damage to neuronal tissue detected. Entering diagnostic mode.

/display status of organ and chassis repair

Stem cell rejuvenation and nano-circuitry rewiring complete. All intra-chassis organs operating at full capacity.

/display status of neuronal reconstruction.

Brain tissue fully intact. Neuronal reconstruction at 95%. Total time until nano-robotic repairs finish: 48 hours.

/display the number of damaged neuronal clusters

Sixteen. Model "S-04" may experience issues in processing information

/force reboot

Göndul's cybernetic eyes opened, her HUD slowly coming online as her groggy brain took its time adjusting to the sudden flow of information.

"Wh-where am I? Is this.. Valhalla?"

"You're too stubborn for Valhalla, S-04. You're in the infirmary." A slightly baritone voice with a tinge of a German accent said from her right side. Göndul looked over to see Doctor Olga Brandt, the woman responsible for augmenting her, accessing her readouts. She was an older woman, possibly mid-60s by how she looked, however with the magic and technology of Valravn nobody could know for sure. She appeared to be relatively unaugmented, save for an old paraprosthetic right hand.

"H-how? I died! I died fighting! I should be drinking with the Einherjar…" Göndul sounded dejected.

"Died fighting? You died on your knees, girl. In a suicide attack no less." Brandt scoffed.

"I didn't have a choice! They were going to kill me, you weren't there! You wouldn't understand."

"I saw the footage, you let those men get the better of you. Odin would have offered you a spot in his hall but you dishonor him with your reckless stunt. A Valkyrie is to be without fear, you were scared of a little fire?"

Göndul was taken aback by her coldness, from her creator no less. "You know very well why someone placing something hot on my prosthesis might unnerve me."

"Get over it. It'll get you killed, child." Dr. Brandt coldly replied.

Göndul dragged herself up, her body feeling strange and alien; like she was using it for the first time. She noticed that she was naked on the table, and began to feel embarrassed; "You couldn't cover me up?" She looked around and saw a nearby towel which she through over her legs and crossed her arms over her chest. "My bits were hanging out…"

"My, child. You don't have "bits" anymore. I don't know why you still cling to this idea of needing clothes, you are like mannequin."

"It just doesn't feel right, okay?" Göndul shook her head. "And even if I don't have a… you know. I'm still naked."

"Your humanity is a weakness, Göndul. You've transcended trivial things like that, you should be more like your sisters."

Göndul rolled her eyes, "I know I've heard this before. How bad was the damage?

Dr. Brandt put down her tablet before answering. "Catastrophic. Most of your Nano-circuitry was fried, me and a couple of other technicians had to go in and completely rewire your entire chassis."

Upon hearing this, Göndul began moving her fingers and moving her feet around to make sure everything was working properly, taking a deep breath to see if she still had full lung capacity.

"The next thing we needed to look at was your organs. Everything suffered major burn trauma and had to be repaired with stem cell treatment and this-" She tapped on Göndul's forehead with her cybernetic hand. "You're lucky it didn't completely turn to mush. It's still under repair, forty-eight hours give or take. You may experience headaches if you start stressing it too much."

Göndul sighed a breath of relief but she still had more questions, "Were my memories affected?"

"Your memory was left intact. You may have trouble remembering the last moments in that Yakuza office but everything should be there. Trauma tends to do that to a person."

"Am I cleared to go then?" Göndul rubbed her ocular prosthesis, it always seemed to itch every time she was in an uncomfortable spot.

"Yes, yes. Run along now. You'll be informed of any new contracts to undertake once your repairs are finished. Óðinn á yðr alla."

"Óðinn á yðr alla." She slipped out of bed and gathered the clothes that had been left for her. Her Valravn Corp. T-shirt and standard issue sweat pants. She got dressed and left Dr. Brandt's office and out of the medical wing. Göndul's first order of business was to go see her fellow Sverðmeyja and let them know she was ok.

She figured they were probably in one of the training areas and made that her first stop.


The sound of clashing steel echoed through the training room as Sigrun and Herja engaged one another with their respective blades. Brynhilde sat on the sidelines watching both of them, to evaluate their shortcomings.

"Haaaaah!" Sigrun yelled striking Herja from above with her right forearm blade, Herja was quick to block it with her longsword but didn't anticipate Sigrun's next move. Sigrun struck forward with her left fist, a newly installed blade ejecting from its housing. Herja managed to stop her strike, holding her wrist back as the blade was just a few inches from her chassis.

"Urgh! Come on you old crow, is that all you got?" Sigrun continued bearing down on Herja, who quickly directed power to the actuators in her arms, giving her a sudden burst of strength to push her assailant away.

"You're getting sloppy, Little Raven! Don't lock blades with an opponent!" Herja placed both hands on her sword and swung for Sigrun's head. Sigrun parried the blow with her right arm blade and reeled back for a stab. As she plunged her arm forward, Herja sidestepped farther than Sigrun anticipated. This left Sigrun overextended and vulnerable, which Herja took advantage of. She delivered a kick to Sigrun's knee joint, causing the actuator to bend, sending her down on one knee.

Herja swung again one-handed, with Sigrun blocking it with both blades. With Sigrun's hands tied up, Herja moved with superhuman speed; delivering a punch to her abdomen that dropped her shields by 5% and ended their contest.

"That's it. 3-2, Herja. You need to be careful with that extra blade Sigrun. If you weren't shielded, that would have sent you flying." Brynhilde said. After their mission to Transnistria, Sigrun had been getting sloppier; adding more and more augmentations without a thought of proper training with them. Brynhilde was worried that her vendetta would lead to her getting hurt or worse.

"Sorry, Brynhilde. Still getting used to fighting with two." Sigrun got up and dusted herself off. "How about we go again? We can make it interesting. The winner gets the other's contracts."

"Maybe I can be the one to bring down your mark, Grigori then." Herja laughed. "I'll let Little Raven feast on the scraps."

"That's just more incentive for me to win. I'll show you that augmented weapons are better than the old stuff."

"Jeez, guys. Stop making this a sword-measuring contest." Göndul said, entering the room. Her teammates turned and looked at her with shock across their faces. They'd believed that Göndul was dead and in an almost irreparable state… so what exactly was standing in front of them?

"What's that matter? You guys look like you've seen a Draugr." Göndul laughed.

Herja was incredulous, in her superstitious mind, she thought that what was in front of her was a REAL Valkyrie. "Did Odin send you?" Herja asked. "Have we been deemed worthy?"

"Göndul, are you… alive?" Sigrun stammered.

Göndul shook her head, "Oh come on guys, stop being silly." She walked over to them and punched Herja in the arm. "I'm here and-" She quickly found herself being embraced by Brynhilde. "-I'm happy to see you all." Göndul croaked out as Brynhilde held her tight.

"I thought I'd lost another one…" Brynhilde thought to herself as held her tightly before breaking the hug soon after, backing up to give her some space.

"They told us that they would be giving us a new S-04 and to start picking through candidates," Sigrun explained. "Brynhilde promptly told them to shove it."

"That is not what happened," Brynhilde said, sternly.

"In a respectful manner," Sigrun added. "She reminded them that technically we didn't have to pick a replacement unless you'd been M.I.A for about a week. Dr. Brandt didn't give us good odds but we held out hope."

"Of course, she didn't update you guys on my status." Göndul shook her head. "How long was I out for?"

"Today makes six," Herja added. "I was impressed by your fighting in Japan. You proved yourself as a Sverðmeyja. Little Raven might want to take a few notes."

"Tch, yeah, honestly. That was badass, Göndul."

"Th-thanks but I…. don't think I deserve the praise. I dishonored myself with that suicide attack and when I was dead, I…" Göndul got a little choked up. "I didn't see Valhalla or Fólkvangr, not even the biting cold of Helheim. Just darkness."

"Don't feel bad, Göndul. You did what you had to do, maybe you didn't see anything because your soul didn't leave your body." Sigrun said, reassuringly.

"Little Raven is right, Odin gave you another chance to prove yourself. You even succeeded in convincing those stuffy investors. All Valkyries are getting Hephaestus upgrades, all thanks to you."

"Whew, that's a relief, and yeah, maybe you're right. What about the client? How did the rest of the op go?"

"After we pulled you from the building, we blew the gas main to cover our tracks. News picked up the story as a freak accident that just so happened to wipe out the district's Yakuza problem. The client was ecstatic."

"Good to hear." Göndul rubbed her ocular prosthesis. "Doc said, I need to chill out for a few days, so if you don't mind I'll be in the Net."

"Wait a minute, you just came back to life, and then had a heartfelt reunion with us and your first order of business is to lock yourself in your dorm room to waste away in a chair?" Sigrun said, dumbfounded.

"Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep." Göndul popped her lips on the last "p". "I've been away for too long, meatspace is too draining." Meatspace was Göndul's derogatory term for the real world, she had always felt the most comfortable with her electronics. "This is enough emotion for one day, I'm clocking out."

"Wait!" Brynhilde raised her arm. "I'll jack in with you."

Göndul drooped her lower lip to the left in disbelief, none of her teammates ever bothered using the Net. "What? But you said you hated it."

"It gives me nausea every time I’ve been in it but I was thinking I could tag along and we could celebrate you coming back."

"Oh… well I don't mind. There's this great place in the Net we can go to. Best drinks in cyberspace, I promise you." Göndul and Brynhilde headed back to her dorm while Herja and Sigrun stayed behind.

"I think it's best if we leave them to bond. Brynhilde's been distant since Göndul was laid up." Sigrun said.

"Does Göndul know about Brynhilde's service record? Or the name that goes along with it?"

Sigrun shook her head, "Why they call her the Sisterless Raven? Nah, she wasn't around for that."


Brynhilde and Göndul entered her dorm room, Göndul immediately taking a seat in her comfortable swivel chair in front of her PC. "Take a set on a beanbag and I'll get the server ready for two." Göndul booted up her workstation and opened a R.U.N.N.E.S terminal to start the configuration.

Brynhilde sat down on a nearby bean bag chair, feeling her metal self sink into it. She took a look around Göndul's room and said, "Y'know your room has always reminded me of what I thought my daughter's room would look like… if I had one."

"What do you mean by that?" Göndul said over the click-clacking of mechanical keys.

"I'm trying to say you decorate your room like you're a teenage girl."

"Everyone has their hobbies. Just because we're supposed to be faceless mercenaries doesn't mean we can't have soul. You're telling me you don't decorate your dorm room?"

"It's just a place to sleep, Göndul. I'm hardly in it most days, you live in yours."

"That I do." Göndul spun around, grabbing a long cable from her drawer and plugging it into the Net server by her desk. She then wheeled over and handed Brynhilde the cord. "Ready?"

"Sure thing." Brynhilde took the cord from her, pushing her hair back and inserting it into the interface located at the back of her skull. Göndul did the same, both of them falling comatose as their consciousnesses were beamed into the Net.


Brynhilde blinked twice as her HUD was filled with new information regarding her connection status to the Net. She looked down at her hands which were now covered in skin. "Oh…. oh wow." She began rubbing her hands together, feeling the texture of her nails, and slowly realizing that she was back to being fully human again.

"I hope the body is to your liking!" Brynhilde turned to see Göndul who was equally as fleshy as she was, save for the metal plating covering her nose and eye sockets. She was sitting in a recreation of her chair with a workstation behind her. "I tried my best to recreate Vanessa Poltaya's body to your last memory before well… you turned."

"Ugh, this is so weird…" Brynhilde could feel that she was passed out in her bean bag chair in the real world, the sensation of moving her digital body giving her complete whiplash.

"You gotta push the feeling of meat space away and focus on what's in front of you. That's why you don't like being here."

"I'll try." Brynhilde took a deep breath to steady herself. "Is there any way to just turn that off?"

"Nope, it's a safety measure. You need to be able to feel what's going on outside, just in case someone tries something."

"Makes sense." Brynhilde looked down to see she was dressed plainly in a white tank top and sweats. "Can I… get better clothes than this?"

"Oh yeah, you have complete control of your look in here. If you access the R.U.N.N.E.S terminal on your wrist there-" Göndul pointed to the holographic display that suddenly appeared on Brynhilde's wrist. "-You can switch outfits, I uploaded a bunch, including some nicer ones since we are going for drinks. And also, there's a Valkyrie profile in there so if things get hairy you'll have your weapons, armor, and augments."

Brynhilde looked down and selected the Valkyrie profile and suddenly she was back in her Adamantine chassis, however, she was without her combat augments or her hand axes. "Where are my weapons?"

"If your looking for those, don't bother. Fighting works differently here. You'll need to use combat programs and your hand and legs still work well too. I've loaded you with a couple of them, just in case."

Brynhilde nodded and switched back to the "Human" profile and began looking through what was available to wear. "Oh, I was going to ask, where exactly are we?"

"This is my Space! People with servers or Cyberdecks get a private unhackable space to act as their hub in the Net. This is where I do most of my reconnaissance and tech work for Valravn, my feeds allow me to monitor all the world news and R.U.N.N.E.S data reports." Göndul said proudly, happy to show it off to someone for the first time.

Brynhilde finished selecting her wardrobe, changing into a long red dress with matching heels and hoop earrings. "I have to admit, I'm a bit interested in exploring more of this digital world. "Is there anywhere else special besides the club?"

"There are a few places, here let me show you." Gondul spun around in her chair as Brynhilde approached from the back, placing her arm on the chair.

"The Net is a place of commerce, entertainment, and information. You have places like the Arena." She brought up various video feeds of Users fighting against each other with outlandish mounts, vehicles, and programs. "You can participate with stuff you buy here in the Net to test your skill or just to have fun. The possibilities are endless here, the only thing you limited by is your imagination and what we can currently code. Don't even need to worry about dump shock."

"Dump shock? What's that?"

"Dump shock occurs when your brain's pain sensors get overloaded in here or your avatar receives trauma that it wouldn't be able to survive normally. You can't maintain your connection to the Net and you get forcibly booted back to the real world. Logging off the net is a delicate process and that sudden transfer of consciousness can damage your brain."

"And what does that translate to?"

"Depends on the frequency of it in a short period. On the lighter end of things, you can get a bad migraine. Repeated shocks can lobotomize you."

"Remind me not to die in here, then."

"Never experienced it myself and I don't plan on it. Some areas will just rejuvenate your avatar and you won't get logged out but other places don't. Besides fighting, you have all sorts of marketplaces legal, illegal and anomalous. You can get just about anything in here, drugs, weapons, food, you name it."

Brynhilde was in awe of this seemingly infinite world, but one thing, in particular, was bothering her about its nature. "Everything just looks so real but… how is this even possible? All of this is just being stored in servers?"

"In a way yes but Net servers are anomalous, you don't even need one to access the net. You may have seen me with my portable Net device, we call them cyberdecks. The Net is essentially its own dimension that's controlled by paratechnology. Everything here is digital to the outside observer, you can't bring things out of the Net but when your in here it's as real as anything. You can feel hungry, thirsty, drunk, high, etc."

"That's amazing, I'm used to the anomalous trying to kill me most days."

"You can also go on vacation. People have created full recreations of Rainforests, private islands, deserts." Göndul showed off everything as she was talking about it. The sky is the limit and even then not really."

"I can see why you never want to leave, but ultimately you can't stay here forever right? You start to dissociate from the real world."

"Unfortunately." Göndul sighed, getting up from her chair and snapping her fingers, a black sparkly dress appearing over her figure with a plunging neckline. Brynhilde was surprised at how well Göndul cleaned up. She wasn't one for appearances, letting her long wild bangs droop over her hair as she perched on every surface like a raven. Valkyries didn't often wear nice clothes around the base but Göndul was always in some large T-Shirt or a baggy hoodie with her face in a Cyberdeck, so it was a shock to see her all dressed up. "That's enough previewing though, shall we get on the night?"

"Wait." Brynhilde stopped Göndul before she could walk toward the arch structure behind her. This was the first time the normally quiet Göndul ever spoke to her and she was going to keep pushing her to open up. "Your eyes."

The mere mention of her eyes put Göndul on edge. "What about my eyes?"

"Aren't you going to switch them back to your old ones? You have the power here, so why not?"

"Mari Sukumiya's eyes?" Göndul said, referring to her original name. "Why would I steal a dead girl's eyes?"

Brynhilde sighed, it was concerning to her that Göndul had so readily thrown who she used to be away. "I've never seen them before. Wear them on our night out. Squad Leader's order."

What is with her today? She hardly gave me the time of day before and now she wants to know what my eyes are like? Whatever…. orders are orders. Göndul thought to herself. She sighed, "Fine." She snapped her fingers and the plate around her orbits turned back to flesh and bone. Her cybernetic eyes transformed into regular eyeballs, and her irises were a deep hazel. "Happy now?"

Brynhilde nodded, "They look good on you."

Göndul stepped under the archway along with Brynhilde. She opened up a server browser on her R.U.N.N.E.S terminal and put in the node that she wanted to travel to.

"Alright, hang onto your 1s and 0s. This might be a little rough for someone who's never used a Portal before."

"A Portal? What is-"

Göndul and Brynhilde suddenly disappeared in a flash, reappearing almost instantaneously at a bustling nightclub.

"-that?" Brynhilde finished her sentence and felt a little nauseous, her world spinning a little bit, and eyes needed to focus.

"Welcome to Silverman's, the club for high rollers, mercenaries, and those who dabble in the anomalous." Göndul put her hands up as if to showcase the sights before her. "What we just used was a portal, it's how to move from node to node in the Net."

Brynhilde surveyed the area, a force of habit in her line of work. She looked through the throngs of people, picking out the various members of the anomalous world spread amongst them. She could see servers of Ambrose Restaurants placing meals on tables, reporters of the Wandsmen, and even a small meeting of the Serpent's Hand.

No one particularly dangerous…. or who would be unnerved by the presence of Valkyries. We're disguised but I'd rather not get recognized. She checked for exits and anything they might be able to take advantage of if for some reason things went south. Those hanging lights would be easy targets for ranged programs, we don't have to worry about civilian casualties in here; everyone's just gonna get a light headache.

Brynhilde finished her assessment and had another question regarding the Net's nature ."Are nodes like websites on the normal internet?"

"Kinda? Nodes are the physical representation of a server's data. For example, VHQ has a node and it contains all of our sensitive information. Anyone's personal devices form mini nodes that can be accessed through the Net. And for places like these, they are specifically programmed spaces to be able to talk and socialize." As she was speaking a woman passed by Göndul smacking her on the butt as she walked by. "Hey, hot stuff." She waved as Göndul blushed.

"Who was that?" Brynhilde asked with a cheeky smile.

"N-nothing! Don't mind her. How about we get some drinks and we can keep talking?" Oh that was embarrassing, just act natural. You don't know that person that was just… AH! Göndul freaked out internally but kept her cool as they went to get some drinks before finding a booth to sit down at. Brynhilde took a swig of her drink and her face went sour.

"Glad to see alcohol still tastes like shit in here." She joked.

"That's how you know it's realistic." Göndul sipped her cocktail. "Anyways, I wanted to talk about the Set."

Seriously? Those books? "Ugh, I thought we were going to have some fun. I don't want to talk about work."

"Sorry but I've been gone for six days and my brain moves a kilometer a minute. Any luck on the PDF or the Poland book?"

"We're still trying to locate the Poland anomaly and as for the PDF, R.U.N.N.E.S determined it's in Foundation hands."

"That still leaves six that we can potentially get our hands on. Now the Poland anomaly, I assume that the Volk Division is also searching for it?"

"We've gotten reports of their agents sweeping for it but as far as we can tell, there's no sign of where it could be hiding."

"Square one then, oh well. I'm sure more will come crawling through the woodwork." Göndul shrugged her shoulders, she was fascinated by the mysterious Set. It was probably the most interesting that had come into her sights since becoming a Valkryie.

Brynhilde wasn't finished as she remembered that she did have something else to mention. "Oh, something did happen while you were out. dado tried to make one."

Göndul's mouth dropped. "No shit! dado's work speaks to my soul! What was it?"

"From what I heard before the Foundation scooped it up, it was a guide to making designer rugs."

"Oh, that's genius, hiding anomalous effects inside something as mundane as a rug. That's peak dado right there."

"Eh, I'm whatever on dado. When he starts getting into the weapons business then we could talk."

"I guess I could go for a 'salt rifle or maybe a 'hot gun?" Göndul giggled a little before a R.U.N.N.E.S notification caught her attention. She pulled it up on her arm terminal and began reading through it, her eyes narrowing as she read every word. Her stomach dropped and her world seemed to crash before her, "Fuck!"

"What? What is it?"

"Unit S-04, "Göndul" the High Table has been informed you have violated Statute 78 of the code. "Performing reckless actions that lead to the damaging or destruction of Valravn property." Due to this code violation, your account has been sanctioned with a 200,000 dollar fine for repairs. Your stipend from contracts will be revoked until the debt has been paid."

"Oh… shit."

"Yep, there goes a few weeks of work, down the drain. All because our bodies are property of the damn Valravn Corporation!" Göndul finished off her drink.

"You shouldn't beat yourself up about it, be happy you're alive enough to have these drinks tonight."

"I'm essentially broke, now. What I have in my account is all I'm getting for who knows how long? It's not like anyone hires "me" specifically. I'm the most useless Sverðmeyja." She sighed. "I probably should just give up this trying to be a "hero", I'm no use to Valravn other than being able to hack."

"Hero?" She doesn't think what we do is heroic… does she?

"Yeah, a hero. Someone who does good for the world, that's why I accepted to become a Valkyrie. Because we do good for the world."

"I think your oversimplifying things. Some of these groups we're after are definitely bad people who do terrible things, just look at the Volk division but ultimately-"

"I know we do things that are a little morally dubious. Not every politician you assassinate is a terrible person and occasionally there are some civilians in the way when you blow up a high-value target but……. ultimately their sacrifices mean that the world is a safer place from the anomalous."

That's a strange way of looking at it Brynhilde knew that not everything they did was considered good by most, her hands were stained with the blood of innocents but you didn't get into Valhalla by being merciful. The fact that Göndul would even say it was heroic in the traditional sense was… concerning.

"…Right. I don't think you should give up being a hero Göndul, everyone has their role to play. And on that note- there's something I wanted to talk about-

Brynhilde stopped as someone approached their table, a blonde man with slicked-back hair. "My apologies, ladies. I couldn't help but hear your story as I was coming to approach you. I believe I might be able to help."

Oh here we go… "If your about to ask us, what I believe you're going to ask us, please kindly fuck off. My friend here is going through something and the last thing we need is some pimp-"

"I believe you misunderstand me, Brynhilde." The man smiled. "-And you are Göndul yes?"

The two of them immediately sprung to attention, their names were classified; only someone in the know would have that information. "Who is asking?" Brynhilde said sternly. I wonder if this guy came with anyone. Her eyes darted around, trying to run facial IDs on anyone suspicious nearby but her results turned up nothing.

"My name is Anthony Berkshire of Hathaway Biomechanics LLC, please can I take a seat?"

Oh…. he's harmless. Brynhilde had read articles about this struggling tech CEO, he was a bit of sleaze but nothing two fully equipped Valkyries couldn't handle. She reluctantly scooted over as the man took a seat next to her.

"Hathaway Biomechanics?" Göndul seemed offended just saying the word. "You guys are the worst anomalous android makers ever. Of all time. What are you doing talking to us?"

"Well I've come to offer you both a lucrative deal, that would help the both of us. You can pay off your superiors and I'll have a new way to make some money." He rubbed some white dust off his nose.

Normally Brynhilde would have rebuffed the high as a kite businessman but Göndul needed the help "We're listening," Brynhilde said.

"Have you ever heard of Raptor Tec. Industries?"

"I don't think I have… Göndul?" Brynhilde deferred to her.

Wasn't expecting to hear their name come up. What does this guy want with them? "Yeah, I know them. They are a German arms dealer specializing in anomalous weaponry. They made an enemy of the Foundation about twenty or so years back."

Hathaway isn't in the weapons business, so what's the angle? Brynhilde wondered before asking, "What's Valravn's stance on them?"

"Valravn doesn't deal in Black market arms dealing. We produce everything in-house so we've mainly stayed out of their way, although insurgents that we've engaged with have been supplied by their arms."

Brynhilde tried to remember back to anytime she may have seen their tech, so many anomalous weapons groups… they just all just blended together. "So are we good to move on them?"

"We are. According to Statute 40 of the Code, those who supply arms to enemies of the Valravn corporation are considered Acceptable Collateral Damage. Mr. Berkshire, you may continue."

"Excellent. As I was saying, Raptor Tec has a new AI Prototype codename "Präzision", that is supposed to assist soldiers in the field. We would like to acquire said prototype and will pay you to get it for us. I can pay you lovely ladies 225,000, how does that sound?"

"Depends. Brynhilde, what's Valravn's stance on independent contracts?"

"Just as long as it doesn't conflict with the Code or Valravn's interests, they are game."

"Then we're game." Göndul shook Berkshire's hand and activated her R.U.N.N.E.S terminal to send him the information, receiving the location of the Raptor Tec R&D node. "We'll let you know when we've acquired the A.I."

Berkshire stood up, "Pleasure doing business with you, may you uh… dine on the playing field?" Berkshire, clearly having no clue about Valravn customs quickly walked away.

"Ugh, what a coked-up loser." Brynhilde sighed, finishing her drink. "You ready to…" Brynhilde took a second to come up with a witty joke, humor was never her strong suit. "Consume on the training ground?"

"Nah, I'm here to gobble on the outfield." Göndul said, smiling. "And uh… Loki disowns you all!"

They both laughed at each other's dumb jokes. Brynhilde stopped and said, "I'll jack out and let Herja and Brynhilde know. We'll get the team, you'll scout the place and-"

"Nope. No time. Lezz go!" Göndul got up and started walking towards one of the transportation rooms with Brynhilde trailing behind. "What? What do you mean let's go? We're just jumping into enemy territory without any intel?"

"Relax Brynhilde, this is my domain remember? We've got this in the bag. In and out, five-minute adventure." The two entered one of the rooms and Göndul started typing

"It's not going to be that easy. Raptor Tec wouldn't just allow anyone to access the node of one of their R&D facilities." Brynhilde mused.

"Exactly, which is why you need access to a "backdoor". Think of it as the maintenance shaft of a Node. Inside, avatars with clearance are allowed to do maintenance, access data, security, etc."

"So what exactly happens if you don't have clearance, like us?"

"Oh well, then the alarm triggers. You have 30 seconds before they start spawning in security drones and that's just at Alarm level 1."

"There are levels? Why not just send everything at us all at once or just kick us out?"

"It's an automated system that determines what to send based on the severity of the situation." Göndul explained. "As for getting force logged out, it takes a while for the system to execute the program to do so, it's a complex process that usually doesn't finish until alarm level 5. At 2, the node's Security hackers show up. They're basically girls and guys like me who have Net experience and are good with programs. To cap it off, 3 and 4 have more advanced security drones."

Brynhilde put her hand on the middle of her forehead, shaking her head at this plan. "This is a bad idea. You're already suffering brain damage and you want to risk dump shock? I just lost you a week ago and now you want to go into the fire with only the two of us?" These things always start like this, seems simple to begin with, and then…

Göndul snapped her fingers and changed into her Valkyrie armor, helmet in hand. She placed it on her head and said, "Trust me. We have this, we might not have much free time to do this if we don't do it right now. Are you with me, or am I going in alone?"

Brynhilde sighed, changing into her Valkyrie form as well. "Well, unfortunately, I am responsible for you. Besides…" she stepped under the archway. "Dr. Brandt just might charge me next time if you get broken."

"Pfff, you're getting better at that." Göndul activated the archway and suddenly they were in a tight dark corridor. The walls were lined with green-tinged metal and wires pulsing in the direction in front of them.

"Thirty seconds, move with me." Göndul walked forward briskly but carefully, Brynhilde standing by with one of her hand axes. They followed the wires through a series of corridors, their thirty seconds elapsing. A warning popped up on their HUDs that they'd triggered the first Alarm on their HUD and Security drones were being deployed.

"Well, here they come, be ready. They could come from any direction." Göndul said as they turned the corner, seeing an access panel on the wall. "Keep me safe until I get what we're looking for."

Brynhilde turned around, she wasn't used to having any intel on what was coming for them or the fact that her X-Ray/Thermal vision didn't work here. Göndul tore the panel off and found the access cable, plugging it into her arm, and began to access the system. "Alright. Bad news. I can't lower the alarm it looks like. We'll just need to take the data and go."

"Well hurry up before-" Brynhilde saw a glowing blue holographic sphere round the corner. "Never mind, I got this. Hack the thing." Brynhilde looked down and noticed strange blue pixels around her hands. Somehow she knew to thrust her hands forward and a blast of light came out from them. It collided with the hologram, dealing some damage to it. "Well, that's new."

"Data blast. It's a standard combat program for those without weapons." Göndul explained, "Hurry it's getting up!"

Brynhilde sprinted toward it, the drone letting off an arc of electricity that she could not dodge. The electrical strike began draining her shields but it wasn't enough to stop her. She grabbed the drone and started bashing it against the wall; shattering the hologram only to see two more appear in front of her…

"Come on, come on. AI…. there you are. Now… Präzision…. yes!" Göndul moved to open up the file but found it was stuck behind 256-bit encryption. "Of course, you'd have defense, nothing I can't peck at though." Göndul opened up her decryption program and began trying to bypass it. She pulled up a camera feed to see Brynhilde surrounded by drones but doing her best to fight them off. '

"Brynhilde, things are looking hairy. Do you need assistance?" Göndul went back to the Encryption software, having to input a few variables and solve a few integer hiccups.

Brynhilde struggled against the arms of one of the spheres, kicking another trying to get on her and sending it smashing into the wall in front of her. She elbowed the drone grabbing her as hard as she could, getting it to drop her and she finished it with her axe. She then selected the "Data Spike" program from her HUD, raising her hand; several spiked impaled the drones and drained them of their energy; causing them to blink out of existence but more were spawning in. "I'm fine. Shields are almost… ah! Ok there, gone. Just focus on getting those files!

"Alright, just need to take into consideration that block f0 x 0d can't be…. can't be.." She felt a sharp pain in her skull, visceral enough to rip into her meat body. "Ah. .I…. the digits have to be… 0c? No, we're using that in some cipher somewhere else. It… It… I can't think!"

[Level 2 Alarm reached. Security personnel is on their way to your location.]

"Shit! Göndul!" Brynhilde blasted another drone, she had drawn them into a square room and couldn't retreat with her current situation. "Göndul listen to me, you have to push through this." The security personnel arrived, men in black uniforms with the Raptor Tec logo emblazoned on their chests.

"Intruder! Stand down or be-" Brynhilde activated two other programs, causing the hallway to be filled with a blinding blizzard. The men placed their hands up as it became hard to see but for one of them, what came next was talons ripping through his body.

"B-billy! Someone check if he's alright!" Another one of the security hackers said as Brynhilde turned to them, her back having sprouted Raven wings. The men started lobbing data blasts at her and without her shields, she had no choice but to take the brunt of their attacks that impacted hard against her armor. That wouldn't save them, however. She ripped the arm off of one of them, before flying forward and gutting another one. The program's effects ended as she tried communicating with Göndul as more men approached her.

"You need to focus, Göndul! I'd yell at you for not following Doctor's orders but-" Brynhilde dodged a swing from the hacker's raptor talons and promptly formed a data spike over her arm and put impaled it through his neck. "You aren't losing me and I'm not going to lose you."

She's right, I have to push through this fog… "….u7! It's u7!" Göndul entered the final block of the sequence, granting her access to the AI. "Alright, now this just needs to be transferred…" She saw a security hacker round the corner but she promptly activated a "Firewall" program that set him on fire when he ran into it and forcibly dumped him back to reality. "I've got the files transferring. I need a minute.

[Warning! Pain threshold nearly reached. Forced Log out imminent.] "Damn it! I don't have a minute! I'm heading back to the exit, you got a quick way out of here?" Brynhilde was breathing hard, energy blast shooting behind her as she took down drone after drone that flew in her path. Their electric weapons stung badly, she was feeling mentally drained with every attack. This wasn't just like regular pain, it was as if her brain itself was being bludgeoned over and over.

She turned around before moving to the next hallway, placing a "zip bomb" on the wall that went off as the hackers rounded the corner. The program overloaded the jacking interfaces of the group of hackers chasing after her, clogging their systems with junk data and crashing them to reality. Hoping it stops them, she raced for the archway but another round of them appeared.

"5…. 4…." Göndul counted.

[Warning! Pain threshold nearly at maximum!] "Göndul…" Brynhilde crashed to the ground, floored by a "worm" program that had torn its way through her chassis.

"3… 2…

Brynhilde readied to lob a data blast at the man who'd used the "worm", not going to go out without fighting.

"1!" Göndul got up from the terminal and ran as fast as her legs could carry her. She dodged and weaved past the few drones that were left in Brynhilde's wake making it to the entrance. She activated a "Spambot" drone which flew forward and latched onto Brynhilde's attacker. The hacker began to scream as his mind was overloaded with a non-stop flow of data. With him distracted, she ran past and grabbed Brynhilde, and dragged her to the exit.

"Just hang on, I'm getting out of here. Just one more… second."


Brynhilde opened her eyes and suddenly she was back in Göndul's dormitory. She looked down and checked her chassis, finding no wounds on it. She was breathing heavily but didn't feel tired or exhausted despite the adrenaline coursing through her system.

"You okay?" Göndul asked, fully lucid in her chair.

"Let's not do that.. again." Brynhilde chuckled a bit. "You got the AI?"

"Already sent to Mr. Berkshire. Consider my Valravn debt repaid."

"That's good, we're splitting the remaining right?"

"Already deposited."

"Good girl. I need a napppp." Brynhilde leaned back in the chair, mentally beat.

"Wait. Before you conk out on me. What were you going to tell me, you got cut off back in the bar."

I was half hoping, she'd forget but it's the reason I wanted to talk to her."Y-yeah, I…" Brynhilde sighed. "Back Afghanistan, the IED that put me into the Valkyrie program? Killed my teammates, I was the only survivor. I wanted to give up then, to join them rather than stay alive all broken and useless. Then Valravn came and made me a Valkyrie… then it just kept happening.

"Kept happening? What do you mean?"

"The first two iterations of the Sverðmeyja…. died except me."

"W-wait, I was never told about this. I mean I figured you probably weren't always S-01 but.. what happened to the others?"

"It was in '16, I was a rookie at the time and we were fighting insurgents in Malaysia. They had an anomalous tank and suddenly and it teleported right by our unit. Its guns blew my squad apart while I was hidden in the grass."

"Odin's beard… and the second?"

"Nigeria. The local warlord had some thaumaturges summon some Sarkic demon on us. Sometimes I still hear the screams while their organs boiled in their chassis." Her voice was trembling it was doing a number on her to remember.

"Then Sigrun and Herja came along and they thought they'd be next. It took me awhile to get them to trust that I wouldn't let them die and then you came along. The Sisterless Raven everyone called me and…."

"Brynhilde, it's okay. I don't think that you sent me off to my death. What happened in that office wasn't your fault. It's those damn bureaucrats not caring about the girls on the ground. You are a great squad leader and I couldn't ask for a better one."

Brynhilde opened her eyes and smiled at Göndul, "Thank you it means a lot."

"And if it makes you feel any better… sometimes I feel sad about what happened to Mari… me before this. But we're Valkyries. We persevere through the pain and we honor those who fell in battle. Óðinn á yðr alla!"

"Óðinn á yðr alla!" Brynhilde repeated. "Thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Mind if I crash here?

"You're always welcome," Göndul said, the two retreating to their dreams. This wouldn't be the last tale in their song, the Sverðmeyja would persevere.


"Are your soldiers forgetting where enemy positions are? Don't know where to aim your M777? Hi, I'm Anthony Berkshire of Hathaway Biomechanics LLC, coming to you with our latest product. "Precision!"

[Echoes of female voices saying, "Precision".]

"Odin's beard, Brynhilde. Get a load of this." Göndul moved her phone over to so Brynhilde could watch while she ate her sandwich."

"Precision is compatible with any soldier, acting as a personal assistant and giving them a constant stream of important data on the battlefield."

"Mm!" Brynhilde said with a bite in her mouth, pointing at the screen before swallowing. "Motherfucker just kept the same name!"

"Yeah, he's probably in deep shit but hey, we got paid." Brynhilde smiled.

Sigrun entered the room, wearing her combat armor with her raven helmet close to her side. Göndul noticed a brand new addition to her left shoulder pauldron where her number "S-03" was written: A Ukrainian flag.

"Hope I'm not interrupting break time ladies, but Drottning Freya wants us in her office. She has an important mission for us."

Göndul and Brynhilde immediately got up from their seats. "We'll meet you there in five. Come on Gon, let's go." Brynhilde quickly finished her sandwich and the pair headed to the armory to get dressed. They made it to their Drottning's office where Sigrun and Herja were already waiting. As Göndul took her spot next to her teammates, she noticed a tall and imposing Valkyrie standing next to Drottning Freya by her desk. This Valkyrie was decked in heavier plate than they were and was holding a long Halberd with an obsidian chainsaw head where the spear point would normally be. Göndul shuddered and rubbed her ocular prosthesis in her presence. She also took note of her pierced nose and headdress, indicating that she was of the Cuervo de Los Muertos branch of Valravn.

Göndul was aware of the Mayan Valkyries but never met one in person. She had heard stories about their sacrifices and blood magic that they employed in combat, something that was considered profane amongst the Nordic Valkyries.

"Sverðmeyja, your next deployment is to Finland." Freya started.

"Ah Finland! It'll be good to return home, what's the target?" Herja said, leaning on her sword.

"The Finnish government has a bit of an issue. There's this new religious movement, these blasphemers called The Sepulchrum." Freya's face turned to scorn. "These sinners, reject the notion of the afterlife and life. They believe in that the state of undeath is their holy apotheosis."

"They would reject Odin's gifts?" Brynhilde said with an intense offense. "We'll crush them."

"That's what I like to hear but that's only the first part of it. The blasphemers have holed up in the castle of Floki, an ancient Finnish King. Obviously, they have no right to be on state-protected historical ground but R.U.N.N.E.S also believes that the old King has become a Draugr and potentially some of his servants."

"You want us to capture him?" Brynhilde asked.

Freya nodded, "Secure a Draugr for the Tyr Project. All who follow the Sepulcrum religion have been deemed by the High Table to be Acceptable Collateral Damage. I'm sending Ale-runa, D-03 of the Doncellas de la Alabarda to assist due to her magical ability."

"You can't expect us to work with one of those…. witches, their worship of Jormungandr will lead to Ragnarok. " Sigrun said in disgust, pursing her lips as she looked at the giant of a woman. "You haven't seen what they do when they feast on the battlefield… literally."

"Kukulkan is his name, he was your creator and you should treat him as such." Ale-runa spat. There was some discussion in amongst Valravn theologists that Kukulkan and the World Serpent of Nordic myth were one and the same but neither could side could draw a conclusion.

"I don't care about your petty prejudices. Ale-runa is going with you, that is an order. Transport will be ready for you soon. Dismissed. Óðinn á yðr alla."

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