"Excuse me, are you sure it's okay to discuss that kind of work?" Natalie asked.

"Yeah, I mean the Oslo Conference is an semi public event, the press gets to see the works presented in there though not the schematics for obvious reasons" Dr. Frelock explained.

"Oh. I'm sorry, the military is beyond my field of expertise" She apologized with a slight chuckle to help lighten the mood. It seemed that letting the Dr. get some venting was helped and the class was already captivated by his story.

"You may have heard about Project Neverland regardless. It was quite a big deal back in the day" He then said and upon hearing the name, her eyes widened for a split second and nodded slowly in response.

"To say that I was second in command for that project is still an understatement. I was there when the blueprints were being drafted" He said solemnly "The pinnacle of Lilliputian warfare" He then looked around, realizing that he had caught the students' interest.
'Hmm, maybe these ones aren't entirely lost causes'

"This all happened before you were born, around 25 years ago" He said.
"Project Neverland, once Lilliput's greatest secret weapon but it was only the beginning for a new era. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous people sold an unauthorized copy of the blueprints to Givinem, a Lilliputian Mercenary company..." He sighed.
"Long story short, the group got hired by the Chinese Rebellion to assassinate the Japanese Empress and the attempt failed catastrophically. It was a good thing that we were able to make them self-destruct before they could be seized. It was because of this enormous blunder that Project Neverland would be presented at the Oslo Conference the following year under the guise of being a tool for safety and intensive work"

Before he continued, he noticed that a girl in the class raised her hand. A pretty redhead who was near the front rows, fairly close to where the 4 girls sat.

"Yes?" He asked, his mood had softened more noticeably by now.

"What is Project Neverland exactly?" She asked with sincere curiosity.

"You might find the idea ludicrous" Dr. Frelock chuckled.
"Project Neverland is hard to describe, but the best way to understand it is that it's a mechanical combat suit"

"Like an armor?" The redhead said. She knew a couple of superheroes that could fit the description but she refrained from mentioning them, feeling that this man probably wasn't very fond of fiction.

"In principle, yes. But think bigger" Dr. Frelock responded "A massive vehicle operated by Lilliputians. Well... massive to us, as they were made to be the size of a Gulliverian. In any case, try to picture this. You see a Gulliverian walking down the street... and you have no idea that it's not a real person, but a machine with a Lilliputian pilot"

"Wasn't there a movie with that but with aliens?"

"So, a real life tokusatsu mecha?"

"That almost sounds like out of a videogame"


Some murmuring ensued but neither teacher was too bothered by it. Natalie herself was rather surprised, she had been a kid when the incident happened and the details were blurry in her memory but now that it got refreshed it was coming back to her.

"Yes, references to it have been made in popular media" Dr. Frelock said as he adjusted his glasses "Now that you know this, I think you can imagine. These machines could infiltrate places, posing as a Gulliverian, providing its Lilliputian pilot with a good amount of safety and lots of advanced weaponry and tools"

As she looked at him, Natalie found the doctor's appearance a bit curious. He wore glasses, yet she had heard time and time again that Lillies hardly ever suffered from visual impairment, as it was extremely important for them to have absolute precision with their movements back in prehistoric times.

"Project Neverland was going to revolutionize the way Lilliputians fight wars, as it's clear that we no longer fight our fellow brethren, but instead the larger races" He added, sounding perhaps a bit too enthusiastic "A Brob sized version was going to be developed next"

"Wait a minute... Brobdingnag and Lilliput have been allies since the 1600's, why would you guys need to make a Brob version?" Natalie asked with a hint of concern.

"Ma'am, it seems that you forget. Brobdignag is our ally, yes. But you guys aren't the only Brob nation on this planet. In fact, neither you nor Gulliverians did unify like we did, though the latter did try once. They picked their fights poorly though..." He took a deep breath before he continued speaking:
"Our war preparations are to face the threat of Japan. It's an open secret that they're not content with the outcome of the Second Great War and that they're bidding their time. But as long as the floating island of Laputa soars over the skies they'll think twice, for they know that if we were to crash it down, we would flatten not just Kyoto but easily a quarter of their entire entire main home island. Exactly as a century ago"

Among the students, there was a girl sitting at the back who frowned as she heard the doctor. Her long black hair, shiny and smooth, sporting what's called the "hime cut" being a dead giveaway of the girls' origins. However she kept quiet and kept listening, tightening her grip the handle of her wooden sword.

The rest of the class went silent, for many, this was the first they heard of the old wars as they were rarely ever talked about outside of History classes. They were also amazed at what Dr. Frelock described and even tried to picture futuristic Brob "people" that were in reality war machines in disguise, many feeling creeped out by the prospect though a few found it interesting.

"So, Dr. Frelock..." Natalie spoke, shattering the ice-like silence that had engulfed everyone.
"How did such a prestigious scientist end up teaching here at this little old school?"

"And you just had to go and spoil my mood" The Lillie scientist groaned.
"For years I've been developing the next iteration of Project Neverland. One of the critical failures that got those idiot mercenaries caught by the Japanese royal guards was their utter lack of experience and expertise with the mechanical suits' weaponry. Not to mention that they weren't as physically fit as they thought, piloting the suits alone had put a severe strain on them"

"Did you guys know about this?" Jen whispered to Jim, who was resting on Cindy's tummy.

"I have no idea. Blaise's the only one that actually paid attention in History class" He shrugged, but then the two exchanged a knowing look and smirked.
"For the record, I really have no idea but hey, you've got yet more reasons to talk to him"

Lillian pouted, annoyed that Jim was readily helping Jen just like that but she couldn't deny that they had a point. Jen was already working on getting to know you while Lillian herself had barely established her own appeal. She groaned mentally, realizing that she'd have to catch up to her when she got her chance.

"Even I'm interested" Zuemy giggled "If Blaise knows anything about these hi-tech mecha things then I'm all ears"

"I doubt he's gonna be able to tell much if you sit on him again or stuff him between your cheeks" Cindy teased.

"Balance is everything. Work and fun in their rightful proportion" Zuemy said with a smug smirk.
"Besides, you're talking as if you're not planning on doing those same things"

"Yeah but I'll be honest about it, we're just gonna chill and cuddle" Cindy said.
"We could even do some gaming! I should get him a Lillie sized Pin-Tengu Swap"

"Are you sure that thing's even gonna get reception buried in all that?" Zuemy teased Cindy back.

"Only one way to know" Cindy then playfully stuck her tongue out at her.

"Goddamn, not only he got 4 hot friends in one go, they're gonna buy him stuff!" Joel thought out loud. The girls all looked at him for a moment and then they started giggling.

"Jealous?" Lillian said, gently petting him with her fingertip.

"Uhh... maybe a bit? I'm happy for him but I can't help but go 'damn!' if you're all that willing to spoil him" He replied.

"Trust me on this one, he deserves it. Poor guy's been taking L's ever since we enrolled at Mully Ully Gue" Pete said. Like his two fellow Lillies with their respective "carrier", he was resting on Zuemy's belly.

"I could kinda feel that but, you know... we all could use some of that treatment. I'll take even the crumbs" He chuckled and made the 4 girls giggle some more. But then they heard the doctor speaking and resumed listening.

"To be honest, piloting these machines is quite complex and it requires both a strong body and a strong mind since these vehicles are operated by connecting to the pilot's brain... and that's where I realized: Training people will always take long, be expensive and will always be subjected to flaws. Even the best trained pilot will have certain biases towards certain attack styles, tactics or angles to approach"

Dr. Frelock even opened a slideshow on his computer and showed it on the electronic board. It wasn't your typical class material, this one had been made for industrial standards, for meetings like that of the Oslo Conference. It showed what looked like a human being on the outside but only on the left side, on the right side it detailed all the advanced components and machinery that it was made of. There were various graphs but other than Zuemy and Natalie most people couldn't fully comprehend them.

"I realized that there is no perfect pilot. So I went and began to develop an Artificial Intelligence for these machines. Who would know better how to operate itself after all?" He said.
"Those Artificial Intelligence programs you hear about on the news or see in media are a joke. I created a system capable of not just understanding itself, but I gave it the ability to formulate ideas of its own... I gave it the ability to think for itself! And that's when everything went downhill..." He sighed in frustration as he closed the slideshow.

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January 4