Oh, How the Times Have Changed

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  1. It had to be sand. They couldn't have exiled her in a tundra (which, though optimal for Abana, would have been more than impractical for the humans) or even a more volcanic region- the silicone could handle those. But sand, dust, those caused issues. Abana's skin was moisture resistant; a muddy lake would have been better than this. By far.

    But it was illogical. Impractical. Certainly for the humans, with their shoddy community needing resources- and here had the land for the descendants of once farm animals- and their need for machinery which, while being reborn, was still large, if only to make room for the workers. But it was illogical. Impractical. Certainly for the humans, with their shoddy community needing resources- and here had the land for the descendants of once farm animals- and their need for machinery which, while being reborn, was still large, if only to make room for the workers. Machines such as the ones that made the water not lethal to use, and the ones that made the weapons that they so enjoyed. Get some people together, and one of them will find a more efficient way to harm the others. All in an assertion of dominance, of course.

    And the capitol had to display relative wealth; right now, that meant size and population, both of which were achieved. This was- cynicism? cynicism? cynicism? Yes. And annoyance. Cognitive computer science had come a long way, once upon a time, and robots could mimic, display, and define human emotions, when necessary. It was a skill that Abana no longer needed to process, but had utilized before her exiling.

    Exiling was putting it nice nice nice nicely; some skin on her forearm had been torn, and the bionic arm was exposed. Synthetic skin was banned, and only the illegal androids still made and utilized it. Regular humans with replaced limbs didn't wear the skin. Especially not government officials. It had been lucky that Abana was an android. She had processed the best escape route for when her secret was revealed (as the lack of aging would eventually give it away).

    And now there was dust and sand worming their way into her circuits. They were interfering with some functions. Not her basic, fundamental ones; those were protected by another few layers of protection to prevent this exact thing from happening.

    As a result, Abana almost immediately started gathering a following. The other androids had programmed her to be recognized as having power and she had almost reached presidency. That had not worked, so she would start over, with these new humans. Not that Abana knew what to do after she had amassed power. Likely, continue obtaining it unless some hidden program kicked in at some point, or some other androids found her and input new instructions. Or some end goal. Her memory had not kicked for some time after she was fully functional; Abana assumed it was so if the humans took her hard drive, they wouldn't have any information on the other androids.

    She did not consider what would happen if she reached a point where she could obtain no more power, but her instructions did not change.

    She did not consider what would happen if she reached a point where she could obtain no more power, but her instructions did not change.

    That was irrelevant, though; now, she was meeting with a neighboring leader. They had reached a point where an alliance was the most beneficial to both parties, so that conquering of other tribes would successfully happen. Later, the alliance would break, and Abana would defeat her current ally. It was simply how things were. Later, the alliance would break, and Abana would defeat her current ally.

    They had designated to meet in between where the two tribes generally inhabited; Abana was there, early, waiting, and scanning for hidden people with the more bionic of her two eyes. A meeting was one thing; an ambush was another, and the android would be prepared.
  2. Larka sat on her horse some miles away from the meeting point, waiting to here back from her scouts. She just knew that the android would be expecting her, whether it was on the terms they had agreed upon or not. Personally, as much as she would have liked to slowly and painfully dismantle the robotic piece of shit, she knew it wasn't wise to try and start a war with the other tribe, not after the one she had stopped a few years previous. She sighed, thinking back on it. That had been when she had just come to power. Those had been fun times for her.

    Not that being the tribe's leader now wasn't fun. It came with it's perks for sure. Only...it was a lot more strategy and diplomacy than she had originally thought. By now she was used to it, though, and thought herself fairly adept at the position.

    Larka adjusted her face mask, shielding her eyes and staring off into the distance to see if she could see the two incompetent children she had sent. She really didn't know why they always took so damn long, considering how short the distance to cover was, even on foot as they'd be. She hated the desert. The mountains were one thing, but this was a whole new hell. Sure, maybe the winters got cold, but at least she didn't have sand wedged in every conceivable place when she didn't stop to think about what she was doing, and it certainly never got this hot.

    She dismounted, wanting to stretch her legs and re-lace her boots, which had been getting a bit too loose for her tastes. To someone from a time long gone by, they may have seemed some strange amalgamation of riding and combat boots, but to her they were practical and that made them acceptable. When she finished, she noticed two figures on the horizon, steadily drawing nearer. She got back onto her horse, and when they finally approached, she stared down at them, clearly angry.

    "Why do you two retards seem to think I have limitless amounts of time?" she said, shaking her head. One began to say something, and she held up her hand. "Just tell me if she's alone or not, for fuck's sake."

    They both nodded feverishly and she sighed. She hated these meetings, but she supposed the alliance between her and Abana had proved useful. Larka told her commanding officer (at least that was what she called him, as she had forgotten how military ranks actually worked) to wait here for her. Spurring on her horse, she rode to their point of rendezvous, stopping when she got within 100 yards of the android. She slowed down to a trot, stopped in front of the other, and dismounted, staring at her with a look that gave off both annoyance and curiosity.
  3. So, there hadn't been an ambush after all. Abana registered some scouts, in the distance, and ignored them as they checked the area, and retreated, presumably to Larka. And then, the lady herself was approaching- one moment, too far to be detected; the next, speeding towards her. Abana often lost a few seconds of input data; that was where her issues most often arose. It was something akin to spontaneous human short-term memory loss. On occasion, a body part would be delayed, or an entire command would simply not go through, or a piece of iron would be found in the sand and it would connect something that shouldn't have been connected- but that was much more rare. In this instance, it was loss of input data. In this instance, it was loss of input data.

    Shortly after, Larka arrived. Following old commands, Abana offered a smile and a respectful almost-bow of a nod of her head; she had, initially, been programmed to act like a human. Manually, the android had overridden the emotion command for the most part. But humans liked something that they could easily relate to, and so she hadn't entirely exterminated it. Instead, it was on standby. It still tried to run when Abana came into contact with humans, particularly unfamiliar ones. It still tried to run when Abana came into contact with humans, particularly unfamiliar ones. And Larka was still not registered as a familiar human- even though they had encountered each other before, their interactions had not been personal enough for the human-mimicking programs to deem the partner familiar.

    "Hello, Larka," Abana greeted, with as much neutrality as her speech programs could manage. The quality was still clear (probably having something to do with the protective shield above the voicebox to keep dust and other small particles outs) and eerily human. "Hello, Larka. Your scouts informed you that I am alone, if I am correct. Shall we proceed, as standard?" There was no need for Abana to indicate that Larka was alone, of course; both parties were already aware of this. Next, then, was to discuss if there was anything that utilized the alliance; any need of supplies, shelter, soldiers, anything.
  4. "Abana," she said, nodding. She lowered her face mask, knowing that part of Abana's speech processing relied on seeing her mouth movements. "You know, these meetings would be a lot more fun if you loosened up a bit. And if you didn't always fucking insist we meet in the desert." Larka grimaced, making her point by shaking out her hair, which had more sand than hair at this point.

    "But yes, those two useless abortions did in fact tell me that we were to meet alone. Wouldn't want to alarm you, not that you're capable of it."

    Larka knew full well that Abana couldn't really feel hurt by almost-insults, but she did it anyway. She fucking hated androids. Everything was so goddamn easy for them, as she saw it. The only reason she kept in alliance with Abana was that her tribe had considerable man power, which would be valuable if she consented to the proposal Larka had prepared. She had actually been happy to hear Abana wanted to call a meeting a week ago when one of her messengers had come to the Caves, requesting they meet as they were now. Larka had been thinking on this for some time.

    "I actually wanted to do something a little differently this time. But first, let's discuss what you require from me, shall we? Then we'll get to the more exciting things." She retrieved a notebook and pencil from her saddlebags, opening to the page where she marked down quantities of goods she'd have to produce for the other leader. "I'm guessing you still want me to give you the usual amounts of the various crops and livestock as well as the weapons and building materials you seem to want so damn badly for no reason?"

    With control of all of the mountain passes in her tribe's empire, Larka also controlled all commerce and trade. That meant she was the one to give Abana all of the goods she might need. Though, she still didn't quite understand why Abana requested weapons. She lived in the desert and wasn't in close contact with any other warring groups. Not that Larka was complaining. It was a good source of money for her, and had allowed her people to live more comfortably.
  5. Without trying to work out how fun worked into any of these business meetings, Abana instead focused in on her ally's complaint of the location. "It is the most convenient for the both of us to travel. It is a half way point." This wasn't the first time that Abana had said it, according to her memory; though there was some chance that it was a false duplicate. The android's system needed cleaning. Speaking of. "It is equally discomforting for both of both of both of both of us. The sand causes an issue for me, as well." As though that much weren't obvious from the repetitions.

    "Correct," the android affirmed. She understood that Larka was insulting her, and that if she truly processed human emotions, Abana would be offended by the comment. The systems that didn't recognize Larka as a familiar person tried to run the annoyed programs, but to no avail. They had been erased after her exile, but Abana had not yet amended the programs that called for responses to stop calling for emotional ones.

    Whatever exciting business Larka had planned did stick out. Abana wasn't exactly curious; but this was new, and the android was ready to respond to it. Differences were appreciated. Differences were appreciated. Differences were appreciated. Running rarely-used programs were something that Abana didn't exactly enjoy doing, but they were something that took in different data. That was indeed something that Abana appreciated.

    "Yes, except reduction by half to 25 for category weapons. And not no reason. The tribe is large. Protection and means of ensuring our own profits are important." Statistically, people were more inclined to listen when you had a weapon and they didn't; Statistically, people were more inclined to listen when you had a weapon and they didn't; and given that Abana's tribe generally bought raw products from Larka, and then sold finished products to other tribes so as to acquire their tithe for Larka, the measure of the guns helped make sure there were no hiccups. Not to mention that the other half of Abana's exchange was to do anything that Larka might ask of them; should she need manpower to work artillery, Abana worked out that maximum efficiency and minimum casualties would arise from her people being familiar with their weapons.

    "Are there any changes to how much my tribe will pay?" After this, they would get to the exciting bit, which Abana was looking forward to.
  6. Larka did her best not to laugh as she heard the odd repetitions, and it came out as a sort of weird smirk. Regardless, she shrugged, answering, "Not that I can think of. We're doing fine and you've held up your end of the bargain, unsurprisingly. Do you even have a program to run deceit? Oh, wait, Abana. Do you still trade in rare foods? I've been meaning to stock up for reward purposes, mostly."

    While Larka didn't see obtaining knowledge and studying strictly as a waste of time, she dis that certain yolikedunger members of her tribe spent all of their time doing it. (To the point where she often felt like having public burnings with their books as the fuel.) Even her fucking strategists, the brainiest people in the tribe, devoted as much time to their fighting skills as they did those involved with thinking. And that was where the problem lay. She needed soldiers, not shitty philosophers. She could, technically, afford to send those few young people off into the Barrens, but she didn't want to encourage the wrong idea. So instead, she thought that maybe some good old fashioned junk food would serve as motivation.

    "Anyway, onto my proposal. I think you and I both know that we have large tribes and good connections. But to be honest, I'm getting fed with the stagnation of all this. I think we should go back to campaigning, but together this time."

    What Larka was referring to were the early years of many tribes, when they were all fighting to flesh out their territories. Eventually, the larger powers had emerged, becoming the current tribes. It had been that way for about 100 years now, if the records were correct, with only minor disagreements between tribes from time to time, such as the one that had earned Larka her place. But she had grown restless lately, and she had always known her hunger for power was strong. Larka wanted more, and she knew that with Abana helping her, she stood a good chance of gaining all the territory she had long been thinking of absorbing into her own.
  7. "Of course I have a program to run deceit," Abana replied, before anything else. There was no malicious or condescending tones on her voice; just the same neutrality that had been carrying her end of the conversation so far. To Larka's following question, the android gave a sharp, exact, single nod. "We trade in whatever we can acquire. We trade in whatever we can acquire. What sorts do you request?"

    Though robots might not hope, the current, secret ones certainly understood convenience, gain, and loss. Abana's tribe, being one of odds and ends, did more than just finish products; they also had underground farms, for trading. Through some back-breeding and luck, they had managed to make suitable fields underground to grow some of the more luxurious fruits. Sure, they needed artificial lights, and an absurdly complex filtration system that they were working on condensing (for while Abana might have the processing ability to devise a more efficient device, how long it too her to do so was unknowable, and she would have been in virtual shut down the entire time there-forth), but they had fruits like pears and apples growing in a synthetically safe environment, nestled in a hostile one.

    Larka's next proposal caught the android's primary focus. Larka's next proposal caught the android's primary focus. "For what purpose?" she asked, before the programs could assess the probability of why Larka could want to do a thing. The young woman was spontaneous enough that Abana knew better than to try and understand her motives. Being immobile around someone who was as powerful and hated androids as much as Larka did sounded like anything but a good idea, as well.

    In the background, however, Abana couldn't help but run a motive program. Larka was fed up with the stagnation? Was she simply... bored? But that wouldn't have made sense; it was largely impractical to start conflict and waste resources simply out of boredom. Was she simply ambitious for more? In which case, Abana would "happy" to help. In which case, Abana would "happy" to help. More power that belonged to the alliance was more power that would later belong to the android, and given her own ambition programs, she couldn't turn down that kind of offer, however impractical it may sound.
  8. Larka shrugged. "The other tribes are getting testy. I think they've forgotten why they give me their goods in the first place, and not the other way around. And besides, people don't want to train for fights they don't think they'll actually every have. But more than that, I think you and I both know how ambitious I am. I mean, you were around when I first made this alliance. You know how this happened just as well as I do."

    Larka didn't intend that as a threat, though she recognized that Abana's programs would probably run through all possible meanings of her words. That was another thing she hated. Androids never really got it. It was hard for Larka to explain, but they couldn't think the same way a human did. Even when they appeared to, it was all multiple processes and statistics. None of the intuition and empathy that came standard with the human package.

    And though Larka didn't want to admit it, maybe this was out of boredom and her perpetual need for bloodshed. Part of the reason Larka had been fired from her job a few years back had been her violent tendencies. Too many fights, too many cruel tactics used to complete tasks than her superiors had taste for. That was fine, though. Larka hadn't ever particularly cared what those shitheads had thought, and her harsh personality fit right in out here. In fact, it was part of the reason she garnered so much respect among her tribe, affectionately referred to by surrounding groups as the Cavedwellers, due to where they lived. It was a ruthless world for the exiled (whether placed there by the government or born into this life), and Larka was nothing in her leading capabilities if not ruthless.

    "Besides, I think your people would benefit from the plunder we might get. God knows the human members of your tribe probably hate living in the desert. You can move them to the new lands we conquer, if you want," she added, thinking that the hard logic this conferred would appeal to Abana, even though she still somewhat struggled to grasp how Abana and those like her thought.
  9. It was the tones that signified it to be less likely a concerning statement than otherwise- but, taking into consideration that it was Larka saying it still played a role. Abana shut down the program after she had gotten the numbers of how weighted the words probably were. Even though it was Larka, she was still just citing anecdotal evidence to prove her point. Given what her messengers (a much nicer term than spies) told her about the other tribes, Abana could determine that there was truth behind what her ally was saying; it was reasonable.

    And Larka wasn't the only ambitious one of the pair. And Larka wasn't the only ambitious one of the pair. Abana had been just as ruthless in acquiring her own power, if somewhat more subtle about it. Abana had calculated the most efficient, least bloody path to tribe leader, and taken it. And it was indeed true that she had secured these peoples' trust. The programs could only stay on standby for so long before they activated again. And it was always better to call a program to run rather than for it to force itself. Yes, new territory was in order.

    If that alone hadn't convinced her, Larka added more while she was processing. (Her systems needed an update; but those were difficult to find in the wastes.) Benefit and better land? Even though Larka could be violent, the chances of her doing something stupid for that sake were incredibly low. Probability indicated that there was only gain to be wrought from this endeavor; no reason not to go along with it. no reason not to go along with it.

    "Acceptable," she said, simply. "Those are all entirely valid reasons. What tribes do you plan to... Remind of your power? And when? How much manpower shall I bring?" The first question was, of course, a calculated lie. Meeessssssenenenenggggggers were secretive for a reason; that sort of information was only for Abana to know that she had. There was no reason for Larka to know where the android had planted her spies. The other two questions were of genuine interest, though- knowing the details of mission were rather crucial to success.
  10. Larka knew how difficult it was for an android with deficient programs like Abana to differentiate among people. Thus, the moron probably didn't realize that Larka could usually tell when there were suddenly new arrivals to the Caves. After all, it was a relatively confined space within the Chambers where Larka and all other units of central command found themselves. Of course, she couldn't strictly monitor all of her territory, so she had no idea where else the android had her oily fingers.

    "The forest clans, mainly. I've always liked the idea of ruling those woods. But a few of the more ambitious on the southern end of the mountains have decided that because my presence isn't large there, they can claim the area for themselves. It's infuriating, really. Not that you would know."

    Larka had never been particularly fond of sharing, and her territory was no exception. She had been itching to bring them down for a while now, preferably with the most violent means possible. She was extremely inclined towards giving people what she believed they were due. Because of this, in her early times among the Cavedwellers she was often accused of taking things too far, or overreacting to what others saw as small matters. Larka had learned to keep these tendencies under control as a result, reserving her truly vengeful plans for when others would deem them sensible, such as was the case here.

    And she knew that was how it was going to work out for her. Anybody who knew the history of the Cavedwellers knew they had fought long and hard for what was theirs, and that legacy of territoriality continued to this day. Many of them had already said people from the south had been complaining of violent attacks from the encroaching groups, which would not be tolerated, they said. Larka was quite proud of her people, this being one of the many reasons.
  11. "Forests and southern," Abana confirmed. She stayed silent on the matter of whether or not she would know which clans were and weren't acting up; far-off spies weren't of Larka's concern, until they became relevant to Larka. But it was true- she had heard growing stories of the clans. It had been an exponential sort of rebelling; first, just little things, and soon, it was this. If given the chance, Abana would have to tell her people to leave. If not, she could only calculate the probability that they would survive the attack. "Forests and southern," Abana confirmed.

    Next, the android started processing her own gain from forest and southern conquering. Larka indicated her preference for the forest lands, but that left the southern area and perhaps some of the mountains. If her ally was feeling generous, perhaps Abana could move her territory that way. It was closer to a river, which could allow for all sorts of expansion. More rarefruit, possibly even livestock... Perhaps some independence, even, from her companion. It was closer to a river, which could allow for all sorts of expansion. More rarefruit, possibly even livestock... Perhaps some independence, even, from her companion.

    "We cannot attack both at once, unless you would like us to attack one group each, individually. We will both deign to leave some of our tribe at home to take care of what must be done, which will leave us with with with with with with with fewer individuals than of the targeted tribes, unless their numbers are more diminished than my estimate." They were not; the populations had more or less followed Abana's predictions. They were not; the populations had more or less followed Abana's predictions. "Which group would you have us go to first?" The southern tribe made more sense, as it was closer to both Abana and Larka, but the android determined it to be ineffective to inform Larka of this. Either she knew, or wouldn't care.

    "And when shall we leave? I would need." She paused, and did a momentary calculation. "Approximately two days to acquire my people, and pack provisions. Unless you wanted a disproportionately large or small group." Pause. Calculate. Blank eyes looking towards Larka. Abana could calcualte the most effective way of achieving their goal; but Larka had a blood lust and wouldn't want that method.
  12. "Abana, how stupid do you think I am?" she asked, slightly indignant. How dare the android insinuate she didn't understand how to protect her people? "Of course I fucking know that we have to leave warriors at home. But no, we overpower the southerners first. It's strategic, which I know you like. Take back my tribe's territory, and we get more resources. I know how to use those lands better than the damn southerners ever would. And fight in them, too."

    She stopped for a moment, considering how long it would take her. Unlike Abana, she didn't of course have any fancy programs to run, just her knowledge of how many warriors she currently had. Larka had always preferred that to "soldier". It felt too technical to her, too much like the Government. She had been called a soldier, and had hated almost every second of it. She had only gotten into it thinking it would give her freedom to express herself, but she was of the opinion that she probably experienced more confinement there than anywhere else. Warrior, on the other hand, meant brutal and free and fierce. It was everything she had her fighters trained to be.

    "It will take me maybe three days, if I rush. No offense, but I think my warriors would benefit more than yours from fighting these people. So, you know, there'll be more of them. Besides, you have less people. It's hardly unfair. Anyway, where do you want to meet then? Bear Pass? It's pretty close to where I know the northern reaches of their expansion are."

    Larka truly hadn't meant anything underhanded. The time most certainly was not now to take on Abana. She had much, much larger plans before that ever happened. And besides, there would be no satisfaction in killing Abana's people, considering the android probably didn't feel much for them as she did for her tribe.
  13. The android blinked. It wasn't even remotely necessary for her to do; but humans seemed to like it when she misinterpreted something. Or when she herself was the one misinterpreted. Then, there was a momentary lapse in input. The android blinked. "I did not mean to imply anything of your level of intelligence. It was simply my reasoning for my suggestion. I was programmed to act as a human; some of those programs are not ones I have tampered with. That program, for instance, was there because government officials like knowing how one would reach a conclusion. I will not adjust that program, as it is closely entwined with my reasoning and logic programs." There was no need to remind Larka that the logic programs were the ones that allowed Abana to do nearly anything.

    "Agreed. 20%, then?" She had to stop herself from saying that it was usual. Clearly, Larka did not take kindly to those more obvious statements; and already, programs were rewriting themselves for how to handle dealing with her ally. They did that often. "Bear pass is acceptable. When? Bear pass is acceptable. When? My people and I have no qualms with waiting longer than three days, should it be more convenient for you."

    It wasn't until after Abana had said the words had it occurred that Larka could take them as an insult. Understanding the futility of regretting her action, though, Abana set to calculating the probability of Larka taking offence, and whether or not she should apologize before or after the other tribe leader could say anything. Ultimately, the android decided that if she did not draw attention to the possibility of insult in the words, chances were that Larka would take them for what they meant. The woman was, after all, used to dealing with the android at this point. And then, the calculations were done again, as another train of sand passed through some wires.
  14. "In three days, then," said Larka, nodding. "Plan out some strategies and we'll compare notes later. I'm sure you'll be able to think of something. And remember, no vehicles. We don't need your people accidentally driving off of cliffs."

    She considered for a moment, realizing that if they didn't have vehicles, (and since she was almost certain they had no knowledge of how to ride) then they would likely have to be on foot. She didn't foresee this being a serious problem, though. Most of the mountain range had well carved paths, large enough in places for three horses to walk side by side. And besides, Larka typically didn't bring horses very far in the mountains. While they had multiple entrances close to the ground, horses didn't take very kindly to being in enclosed spaces for long. Thus, they had multiple stables on the outside of the Cavedweller's territory.

    "You can borrow some horses if you feel it's necessary. A couple of my people can show you to them. But other than that, I think we're done here." She held out her hand. "In three days."

    She then mounted her horse, riding off back towards where she had come from. Larka felt electrified by this, truly excited for the first time in months. She laughed when she was out of Abana's site, holding out her arms and raising her face up to the sun. This was fucking great. She had no idea how much she missed this.
  15. "Strategies. No vehicles. Confirmed." Something more human might have said that there were programs that were just itching to run about those strategies; but Abana understood that those programs had as much desire as she did. Never the less, they were all ready to go, and were just waiting for the command to begin. "Conirmed."

    But first, the android needed to return to somewhere more within her territory. She needed her people to begin getting ready while she could hide away and focus her energy on this. Perhaps charge up. It wasn't something that Abana had to do very often, as they had discovered long-lasting fuel sources somewhere along the line, but hers were low for a robot. It was an attempt to be more conspicuous. It was an attempt to be more conspicuous. And though the android had refreshed relatively recently, it was always a good idea to be full. No need to worry about something draining her out there. At any rate, they had salvaged and fixed some solar panels. There was no need of energy, even in the wastes.

    "No, we are strong, we do not need horses," Abana declined, before Larka rode off. The android stayed in place for a few minutes, watching her ally. Just in case. When she deemed that distance was safe enough so that Larka wouldn't need anything until the rendezvous three days from then, or try to shoot her or the like, Abana turned, and started back for her own people. When she deemed that distance was safe enough so that Larka wouldn't need anything until the rendezvous three days from then, or try to shoot her or the like, Abana turned, and started back for her own people.
  16. For the next three days, all Larka could focus on was making preparations for the coming fights. She was eclectic, restless, choosing warriors and putting supplies together. Immediately after she had returned to the Cavern, she had called two meetings - one for all citizens, the other for her circle of officials. Of course, some had to monitor other areas of her territory, and so they were called in over the radio. For the larger meeting, Larka had informed everyone about how they were going to regain what was theirs, which had been met with excited whoops and cries. Clearly, she hadn't been the only one feeling as if the infringement on territory needed to be dealt with.

    The next meeting was of course more confidential, with Larka discussing strategies and whatnot. She knew that Abana had absolutely no need for this, both because her territory was so small but also because as an android, she could simply run enough programs that she would find what was, statistically, most likely to work. She barely slept that night, and instead spent the night talking with her second in command, Eric, who was also something of her best friend. The next two days weren't much different, with little sleep and a lot of talking.

    Finally, the day arrived when she was set to meet the other leader in the pass. Larka woke up, taking her time to make sure her weapons were in working order. She typically carried around a crossbow (most of her people used guns, but she was better with this; and besides, she figured it was easier to make new bolts than bullets) with a harness that crossed over the front of her body and a few assorted knives. Today, she added a pistol for good measure. They left early, before most people had even woken up. She had selected about 600 of her best warriors, including the elite scouting force which she kept at about 50 members. Their job was usually to help her to take out the most important people ambush-style, and were selected for being especially efficient in their killing capacities. Occasionally, she'd accompany them on missions, but with larger battles such as this, she knew it was important for her to stay in a position where she could easily lead. She would fight, but she needed to stay with the majority of her army.

    It took them half the day to get to the pass, even on horseback. The day was sunny and warm, but not warm enough that Larka was sweating in her typical clothes. When they arrived, Abana was somehow already waiting. She told the majority of her army to stay back, taking only Eric with her. Once close to Abana, they dismounted.

    "Abana," she said. "I hope I haven't kept you waiting for too long."
  17. And true enough, Abana spent most of the time processing the most efficient ways to do what they could- as well as which would result in the most bloodshed. It was always a good idea to appease one's allies, until it was time to take them down. After getting back, she had informed the all of her three thousand, one hundred seventy eight of her people that Larka had called on them for aid. Her people, who had been somewhat influenced by their leader's lack of emotion, accepted this and carried out their assigned tasks. They knew that Abana would let them know who was staying and getting more work, and who was leaving to go fight.

    Indeed, on the way back she had determined who would be accompanying her this time around. Abana made sure to never have a perceivable pattern to who she took with her; it decreased the likelihood of someone who had been deemed as not a threat to become such. The last few excursions had been of a more "random" selection. This time, however, she would take nearly a third of her population; the best thousand that she could list. This time, however, she would take nearly a third of her population; the best thousand that she could list.

    A couple of hours later, Abana set out people to inform her tribe of who would be coming and who would be picking up slack. The thousand met with her, and Abana explained the situation: Some of the areas of Larka's tribe were starting to think of themselves as independent, and needed to be reminded that it was not the case. They would be leaving in three days, and prepare for some travel as it could be quite the ways. They'd be going south, and then to the mountains, and likely without respite, and then Abana send them on their way. They'd be going south, and then to the mountains, and likely without respite, and then Abana send them on their way.

    Up until the night of the second day, Abana spent time going over the various strategic plans. She analyzed, modified, altered, and spliced them as necessary, and wrote down her list. Afterwards, she cleaned herself out to the best of her ability, and then carefully put some wax on where her synthetic skin had split and where there were seams, so to minimize where more sand could get in.

    And then, all that was left was to collect her troops and head for the rendezvous. They got there at late morning, and Abana allowed most of her men to sit, and relax as they pleased. She, of course, indulged in no such comforts; those were mimics of an old life, and anyways, the wax wasn't that thick. Any extra contact with sand would only mean a higher chance of malfunctions. When Larka and her people arrived, the android shook her head. It was offsetting, as her eyes stayed fixed on Larka. "No, we have not been here long."
  18. "I guess that's good." She didn't particularly care about how long the android had to wait, as she knew full well how little the other leader cared, but she did care about the other leader's tribe, strangely enough. Maybe she pitied who they had as a leader (although unlike with her tribe, where she permitted no one who wasn't human, Larka knew Abana had quite a few androids among her people), or maybe she simply wanted them to be at full fighting capacity. She didn't know and didn't think that it particularly mattered.

    The typical sounds of an army bounced off the high rock wall to the left of them, as both groups of warriors talked, relaxed, and prepared themselves. Larka surveyed Abana's army, squinting both from the glare of the sun, but also because there were so many people. "Abana..." Larka started, attempting to contain some of her rising anger. "How many fucking people did you bring?" She listened to Abana's answer and clenched her fists. She knew she should have brought more people. But whatever. Her warriors were trained fighters while Abana's had the same degree of knowledge as anyone out in the wastes would have.

    "So, let's talk strategy, shall we?" She snapped her fingers and Eric produced a few large sheets of paper, which when unrolled revealed themselves to be maps of the region. There was quite a bit of writing all over each one; notes scrawled about everything from number of men who could pass at a certain point to estimates of where the enemy would be to how the weather would be in specific spots. Everything she and her close circle of officials had thought to plan out was there. She laid the three maps down on the ground, squatting.

    "I was thinking the southerners would begin about here." She took a pencil out of her pocket, circling a flat, low mountaintop about fifty miles from where they currently were. "And as you can see, the easiest and quietest way to get there is through here." She indicated a thin blue line that seemed to cut through the mountains. It snaked about, much as a river would. "It's carved into the side of the mountain. Even if there were some way for them to look directly over the edge, we'll be hidden. Unfortunately, it's only wide enough for about three people, so it might take a while."

    She then pointed to another, more detailed map of the crater she had circled on the previous document. On this one it showed how the housing was set up there. It was really a small village, and pretty isolated at that. Because of that, it had taken some time for news to reach Larka that the southerners had come this high north. "The passage comes out here, in the northeast of the village. It's inside a barn, which will allow us to hide for a while if we need to. Only a few people even know this path exists anymore, and since the southerners aren't even from this territory they have no idea about it. We have to leave soon so we can attack them at night."

    ((please don't worry about length! just do what feels good okay Idk why this turned out so long))
  19. Without flinching or even cringing, Abana simply reminded Larka, "You brought my services in for numbers. I assure you that they are all controlled. You have no need to worry." The android did the best she could to alleviate any worries that the number of people might have brought Larka; there was certainly no fear of insurrection, not yet. Nor should there be any fear of her people not obeying their commands; her people were obedient, if not necessarily loyal. They understood the consequences of attempts of betrayal well enough to know better than to try. Hers were really just to help in numbers; it was still Larka's operation.

    "Strategy," Abana agreed. "Strategy," Abana agreed. As Larka spoke, she inspected the map, and looked at the group of people that they had. Over 1500 people, and only three through the pass at a time? It would take too long. Nor was the barn that large- a better route was needed. "Negative. It is too inefficient for the numbers that we have. We cannot all stay there. Even your troops alone could not fit in that barn, and it would take far too long to go through the pass," the android pointed out. She spent a moment inspecting the map and running algorithms.

    A moment later, she pointed at a different path. It wasn't necessarily marked on the map, but Abana knew it existed. It was fairly close to the blue line, but it ran on the side of the mountain. "A line two people wide could fit through there, if the path is still in the condition it was in when I learned of the geography of the area. We could fit five through at once rather than three." It cut over 500 lines of people to somewhere around 300. Significantly faster, significantly more efficient. "Though, being a mountain pass, it will need to be taken by agile members of our group. Many of mine are highly dexterous. I suggest that they take it."

    Luckily, there wasn't even so much as the trouble of being seen- so long as the ones taking that route were quiet, the other mountain- which was larger- would block them from enemy sights. It was evident, from the topography depicted. However, there was still the issue of where they would all stay; it would suspicious to suddenly have more than 1500 people living quietly in a crater. She looked down towards the village, and then shook her head, once, mechanically. "I propose that we spent the day traveling and setting ourselves up all around them. Surround them. Night is a normal time to attack; we ought to attach just before dawn. If they have a watch, then we aim for when that is on the change. Attacks at the time of night are unexpected, as there is a small window of such darkness. We will meet little resistance, and people in a deeper stage of sleep, by my calculations." Her calculation made some assumptions, but they were not beyond reason.
  20. Larka stared at Abana, eyes narrowed and brow furrowed. "Fucking hell, Abana. I'm not retarded. I know how night sieges work." She considered for a moment. "And that one would work. Do you have night specs?" Larka knew that most androids came equipped with night vision, but there were, of course, humans. All of her people had them. Larka was many things, but unprepared for combat was not one of them.

    "And how many were you thinking of bringing first? Since we can only take the most agile," Larka said, almost mockingly. Larka had nearly screamed at Abana that that wasn't okay. In the case of agility, A was for android, since they were automatically programmed to have that skill. Being in close proximity to so many androids made her absolutely furious. "I have 50 scouts, as you probably know. Well, 51, I guess," she added, shrugging. She was good enough to keep up with any of them, of course. "That would mean you stay back with the rest of the troops. Do you think you can do that Abana?"

    As important as her people were to her, ensuring victory in this was even more important. And the fact of the matter remained with two points - she knew the area better, and she wanted this more. Besides, as much as she didn't like to admit it, she respected Abana and knew she could do what needed to be done.
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