Upgrades (Part 2)

Lily felt a vague, unidentifiable stirring within her as she locked tongues with Iris. It wasn’t quite like her usual bursts of sexual desire, but it was also not entirely unlike those feelings of passionate attraction. It felt like… a sense of understanding, a feeling of knowing. She quietly pulled away, a trail of saliva connecting their lips. In her current state, perhaps…

“Iris, can you open yourself up? There’s something I’d like to confirm.”

Iris flushed red and silently nodded, slowly unbuttoning her blouse, exposing her chest. She traced one hand over her heart, causing her skin to shimmer and return to its natural metallic appearance before opening up to reveal her core, throbbing and emitting an amber glow. Guided by her hunch, Lily leaned in close and scrutinised it closely, singling out the cluster of threads of script that had confounded her. As she located it, she noted that, as she suspected, the previously impenetrable web of threads was now legible to her. She could clearly see and understand each thread, and was easily able to isolate the line she needed.

This confirmed her theory. Her ability to read and understand the components of Iris’ core was directly affected by how well she understood Iris, how close their hearts were. Why this was the case, and how this vague emotional quantity was processed into understanding, were not questions that Lily had an answer to. Magic was, after all, an incredibly vague and abstract thing, which relied on concepts and ideas as variables. Lily could not even come close to understanding the nature of magic, though she knew very well how to utilise it and twist it to her will. In any case, she did not have the leisure of time to explore why or how this was the case, but was extremely thankful for it. With this, she now knew how to finish her machine.

Lily reached out and touched the glowing crystal-like core, gently running her fingers over it. Iris gasped, moaning ever so slightly in the way that Lily had come to become intimately familiar with. She felt a strong gratitude for the core beneath her fingertips. She had learned so much from it, gained untold volumes of knowledge that had been lost to the world. And more importantly, this core was what allowed for the existence of the girl who was so special to her. She owed so much to this little gem, this tiny crystal of tightly condensed magic. Driven by impulse, Lily brought in her lips close and lightly kissed the surface of the core. Iris yelped and shivered, her eyes glazing over as her body began trembling. Lily noted this and pulled away, stopping herself from giving in to the desire to ravage her lover on the spot. Iris, bleary-eyed, could only look at her in a mixture of confusion and need. Lily turned around, a slight smile forming on her lips. A small revenge for Iris ignoring her the previous day.

“Close yourself up, Iris. We’ve got work to do, and deadlines to meet.”

Iris seemed to be on the verge of tearing up, her mouth agape as she stared at Lily’s back. She reluctantly closed up her chest and buttoned up her blouse, the shaking of her hands and her heavy panting making it hard to do so.

“…That’s cruel, Lily.”

“Hm? We are on a deadline. Time is short. Let’s finish up quickly so that we can continue in a more comfortable location, yes? Like, for example, a bed.”

Iris, still overwhelmed by need, temporarily halted her sexual arousal protocols, which caused her breathing to instantly return to normal as the red drained out from her cheeks. Her shivering stopped as the sweet feelings of passion were abruptly cut off. Sufficiently calm, she nodded and joined Lily at her workstation, offering any assistance which Lily might require.

With Lily’s newfound understanding, the work progressed at a much faster pace. By evening, the amplifier for Tate was completed. Said device took on an inconspicuous form – it was an earring, in the shape of a heater shield. The trimming around it was made of the otherworldly metal that made Lily’s armor and limbs. The rest of the shield’s surface was a crystal of condensed mana which looked remarkably similar in texture to Iris’ core, except it was cyan instead of amber, and emitted a glow that was far more dull. Without Tate present, it was impossible to field test it, but theoretically it would work as intended.

The next two days passed in a flash, with Lily and Iris creating the upgrade for Prei that they had briefly discussed prior to their short fight: A device meant to amplify her magic and increase her efficacy as a combat mage. The original idea for the form of the device was a gauntlet, but they quickly scrapped that idea. The armor that Tate was forging for Prei already possessed gauntlets, and anything that Lily and Iris made would likely not have the same protective strength as what Tate was capable of producing. Instead, the form they settled on was a hairclip – Prei’s helmet would protect it from damage, and it was small and inconspicuous enough to wear even when not actively in battle. The two sides of the clip were fashioned to resemble a dragon’s head, to fit the aesthetic of the rest of her gear. The clip itself was mostly metal, except for the eyes of the dragon head, which were small crimson gems of condensed magic. Similar to Prei’s armor, when she changed into dragon form, the clip would change its own form into that of a circular gem which would magically adhere itself to the scales on the back of her head.

The device was designed to strengthen her natural magical proficiencies – it used the same scripts as Tate’s amplifier to increase her compilation speed and maximise her power output ratio. According to Lily’s calculations, the device should triple Prei’s casting speed, and would double the strength of magical output for any given input. As with Tate’s device, there was no way to field test this; to maximise effectiveness, Lily had designed it to work with Prei’s Paragon profile, which neither Lily nor Iris had access to.

Iris got several upgrades as well – though Lily had no intention of having Iris come with them, they had additional time, and she decided that it would be unfair to Iris if she was the only member of their family without an upgrade. It took a lot of persuasion and sexual bribery, but Lily eventually attained Iris’ blessing to upgrade her Varia. As a priority, Lily installed cables much like those she used in her own limbs, allowing for Iris’ Varia to be used in tactical trapping maneouvres in addition to their initial role of fire support. Using Iris’ weaponry as a reference, she further installed mana emitters all around each Varia, which could be activated to form mana blades around each Varia, allowing them to be used as autonomous melee attack vectors. This device could, in fact, be field tested, and Lily and Iris both tested their upgrades in a mock battle where they dueled to a standstill. Both upgrades worked about as well as they expected – a satisfactory outcome.

Any time Lily and Iris were not working on the upgrades or training, they were cuddling, kissing, holding hands, making love, or generally just enjoying each others’ company. In this way, time passed in a flash, and before they knew it, it was the fourth day – the day when Prei was supposed to come ferry Lily to Riasode, to prepare for the impending clash.