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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

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Word Count: 675 (+1 exp)
Level: 9 - Total EXP: 174/90
Location: Edinburgh MagicaPolis

"For now!" the Ace Cadet called back as Wonder Red appeared on the scene to join the battle.

As it turned out, ranged offense was not this team's strong point. It was as the Cadet expected, so since he actually had the means to deal consistent damage to the demon he put all the effort he could muster into his bow. Draw, shoot, draw, shoot, draw, shoot. With Artemis floating still in the air between bouts of movement it made an easier target than expected, but it was also tougher than it looked.

Gonna have to drag it down, he thought, leaping over the horizontal laser spread. If he was successful then once it crashed the melee fighters could move right in and pummel it, since at the moment they were reduced to throwing whatever they could at the thing. To that end the Cadet made to pop the paralysis arrow coatings in. Seeing as Artemis would rather block than dodge, it would make applying the status that much easier. Unfortunately while he was in the middle of getting the coatings set up, Artemis' body segments split off and started shooting. He dove out of the line of fire of one of the makeshift turrets, but the other caught him while he was mid roll. He let out a soft oof as he fell the rest of the short way to the ground.

"Wasn't expecting that," he grumbled, jumping back up and into action. The shot was painful but not debilitating, even without his regular armor. He could probably afford to get a little reckless then. The Cadet grinned.

A few well placed great arrows took care of the 'turrets.' A few more peppered the demon's body until Band and Albedo made their move. At that point the Cadet pulled a device from his bag, and the metal pieces of his slinger popped out into their half-claw, half-anchor shape. He didn't need to rely on a chance for paralysis to take the demon down, he had a few other tricks up his sleeve.

He didn't get the chance to try them just yet. Artemis smashed through a walkway on its way to get to Band, then kept on going until there were two bridges destroyed. The Cadet sucked in a sharp breath, managing to keep steady while the floor shook and threatened to give way. This thing was not playing fair.

After that Red stated his intention to evacuate the people trapped up there with them. "Got it!" the Cadet called back to him. His eyes flickered over to Frisk and her shield, then to where Albedo had been flung and where Big Band was buried. He didn't know the former at all, and though he hardly knew the latter much more he did know the detective was made of tougher stuff, so he wouldn't be out of the fight just yet. "I think I'm starting to get a read on it anyway. Let's see if we can bring it down to earth!"

Of course right after he'd said that, Artemis unleashed a new attack. This laser looked stronger than the others, so the Cadet steered well clear of it. The clutch claw was already primed, so when it swept close to him he fired the grappling hook above to one of the few remaining chandeliers, taking him above the danger. While he dangled there, he chucked the device he'd withdrawn earlier in the demon's direction.

"Flash bomb!" he called out, giving the others a heads up about what was about to happen. He didn't know if the eyes on Artemis' wings were actually functional, but it had to see somehow - maybe if they were lucky it would blind the demon, or at least take out a chunk of its sight. The bomb went off in a flash of light.

The Cadet dropped back to the floor, already preparing to get his clutch claw into Artemis itself if that didn't bring it down - or its own laser courtesy of Wonder Red didn't do the job.

Word Count: 1787 (+3 exp)
Level: 8 - Total EXP: 107/80
Location: The Under - Ruins


Primrose was glad to see that the shaman was indeed as friendly as he'd appeared to be. Perhaps 'appeared' isn't the right word, she thought to herself, given his scarce attire seemed to be made of insectoid skulls, or maybe masks resembling skulls. It was hard to tell. Either way, he was chatty and answered her questions with no qualms, which she appreciated.

It turned out that he hadn't seen the other group come by. That didn't mean that they hadn't taken this route, but it was looking a lot less likely. Primrose figured that there would have been some trace of them by now. A clue deliberately left, the coincidental signs of a scuffle, or even foot prints in the dirt. But there was nothing, and no witnesses.

How odd, the dancer mused. Have we missed something? I doubt that map maker would try fooling us, but then again...

After a moment the shaman spoke up again, informing her of a secret passageway. Honestly, she doubted that if their friends came by this way that they would have found and taken such a route, but it was something.

Primrose smiled at the shaman. "Is that so? Thank you for the heads up."

On the topic of the food that the Confessor wanted, the helpful stranger suggested she venture further. His description was the exact opposite of what Jiji had said, but seeing as she didn't have any leads on that subject either she figured she could give it a look. Maybe something 'putrid' is what she should be looking for, if Jiji was the kind of bug that fed on that type of thing.

As the shaman himself had said, a friendly face was rare. Primrose was grateful to run into him, and she thanked him again before turning to leave. As she did, the diminutive stranger caught her eye. It seemed he had one last thing to impart to her. She raised a brow at his words. Intuitive fellow. The magic he held out to her she regarded curiously.

"I have nothing to give you in return," she told the shaman honestly. He didn't mind at all, and it didn't take much more prompting for Primrose to accept the offer. She reached out to take hold of the spell.

When she touched it, she got a sense of the kind of magic it was. It felt almost as though it was a kindred spirit, an avenger of some sort. She smiled, small and dark. Then the magic seeped into her, overwhelming her. She stumbled, shadows filling her vision as she felt her consciousness go. She was halfway to sinking to the ground when she caught herself, shaking her head and standing upright.

"Potent," she said, bringing a hand to her forehead. The Snail Shaman chuckled, though he seemed pleased.

After bidding him farewell, Primrose continued on into the deeper parts of the Ancestral Mound that he'd indicated. It would, hopefully, be only a quick detour. Then she could return to the Troop and Rubick with news of a safe shortcut. As she ventured on, the dim tunnels did not become anymore welcoming. The sounds of scuttling and wings buzzing echoing told her that there were insects ahead, but she wouldn't have been surprised to find them either way. There were a few flies with long mandibles that looked a lot more dangerous than they actually were, which she dispatched with a flick of her wrist and a burst of flame. Smaller, more harmless bugs crawled along the walls and the floor, though they left Primrose alone and were easily side stepped otherwise.

Soon enough she dropped down into a slightly more spacious area. There was a distinct odor, coming from somewhere still further ahead that Primrose guessed would be the creature the shaman told her about. In her way was a large creature with chitin like plate armor and a mean look in its eye. It stood as tall as a human, at the only other exit to the room than the one above her.

The dancer did not immediately assume that this bug was hostile, though she remained wary nonetheless. Would it be too much to hope for two friendly strangers in the Ancestral Mound? She called out to the Elder Baldur, "I don't suppose you would let me pass?"

The reply came as a spray of poison. The Baldur reared back and then spit up globs of amber liquid, which Primrose was quick to get out of the way of. They splashed against the ground, bubbling ominously. I suppose that answers my question, she thought. She raised her hand, conjuring a flame orb and throwing it back at her attacker. The Baldur curled up tight, becoming an armored ball. The flames struck it and exploded, but besides a slight singe to its chitin shell it appeared no worse for wear.

Primrose hummed, rethinking her strategy. Perhaps the weakened pyromancy wasn't enough, and she should Boost it? Or maybe swap spells altogether. If her magic didn't get through the shell, her dagger wouldn't either - and from there she could see no gaps in the plating to exploit.

As she thought about it, the Baldur uncurled itself and began another poison assault. It stubbornly refused to move from its post, so the dancer weaved her way forward while dodging the blobs it spit at her. When she got close, the Elder Baldur did not swipe or bite at her as she expected it might. Instead, it curled into a ball again. It was confident in its armor, and still large enough to block the passage like this. Even after a few seconds of awaiting a sneak attack, the Baldur didn't budge.

Really? Primrose sighed. Maybe it was less confident, and more cowardly. Even up close she saw no openings for a blade to capitalize on, so she'd stick to her magic. Sooner or later she'd get through the shell, and she hoped it would be sooner. While it wasn't doing anything, this would be a perfect opportunity to test the gift the shaman had given her.

After a brief moment spent focusing, she called the spell to her hand. It looked much the same as it did when the shaman had held it out to her, distinctly different from the way the pyromancy or her native dark magic looked. Primrose thrust her hand forward towards the Baldur, conjuring a spirit that shot forward. It passed completely through the monster, and if the muffled noises of pain were anything to go by it had damaged the Baldur as it went. If the poor thing didn't move it would die just like this, but it only curled up tighter. The dancer decided not to waste any more time and conjuring the vengeful spirit once more, Boosting it's power. This time when it burned through the Baldur it wreaked havoc, destroying it from the inside of its shell. When it crumbled away Primrose picked up its spirit and moved on.

There wasn't much more to the Ancestral Mound's depths. However, if there had been a labyrinth awaiting her Primrose was fairly certain she could have found her way to the center by following her nose alone. The closer she got to whatever it was, the strong the smell grew. It was definitely the stench of carrion, so not 'nice' at all - she only continued because she'd come this far anyway.

The source of the smell was not a corpse as might be expected, but a strange cluster that subtly undulated. It did nothing as Primrose approached, an arm curled over her face in a futile effort to lessen the odor. This must be the 'putrid yet placid creature.'

Well whatever these are, they are round... Gingerly, Primrose poked one of the sacs. And they are soft. They seem to be filled with something, so they must burst too. But the smell... I'm close to gagging. Could this really be what she wants?

There was no harm in taking it even if it wasn't. Besides the smell, which she hoped to find a solution for eventually. She reached out and took hold of one of the fluid sacs, trying to gently pull it from the creature. It remained firmly lodged in its host, even after she put more force into it. So the comment about carving it was literal.

Primrose withdrew her dagger. She raised it up, but hesitated a moment and cast her gaze at the blade. The Azelhart family motto stared back at her. She felt a little guilty about dirtying the blade like this, digging out some monster's guts... but it would be worth it if Jiji was the real deal.

When she plunged the dagger into the Bluggsac's flesh, it shivered and spit something out from the top of it. Then to the dancer's surprise it simply died, deflating until it rested completely the cave floor and disintegrated. Primrose turned her attention to the thing it spit up, taking it in her hands. It looked like one of the sacs on its body, but more egg-shaped a little denser. Still rounded, still soft, and a bit squishy.

Hopefully this egg would do. Primrose set her pack in front of her and dug through it, withdrawing the water resistant robe she'd gotten at that temple oasis in the desert. She wiped the dagger clean with it and then wrapped the egg up tightly, half for protection and half to try and staunch its stink. With her little side quest done, it was time to be getting back. On her way out Primrose decided to take the spirit of the strange sac creature, hoping that if it was this egg that the Confessor wanted in return for her service, perhaps she could get a second one by crushing its spirit.

Primrose picked her way back through the tunnels, ending up back at the shaman's shack. He was no where to be seen, no longer standing on its steps, so Primrose moved on. She made her way back to the fork, and then back to the wide cavern's entrance. She caught the very tail end of some commotion and figured that more bugs had wandered too close to them, or them to the bugs. Either way it appeared to be handled. Primrose walked over to the other Seekers, giving a nod of greeting to the little furry warrior Teemo.

"I have some news," she said to group at large. "Not about the others, but a safer passageway through this area."

And while she went over her meeting with the Snail Shaman and the secret path he'd told her about, they could fill her in on what she'd missed.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Ghost who chose life

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The Ruins - Dripstone Cave

Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose’s @Yankee, Rubick’s @Scarifar, Teemo’s @Bugman

Working together, Rubick and the Koopa Troop managed to put a quick end to what might have otherwise been a horrific outbreak. Though small enough to be on the more difficult side to hit, the Lightseeds possessed no survivability to speak of, and all popped into squirts of lambent orange juice with just one hit. Kamek’s quick thinking and magical prowess secured the foolish Migospel out of harm’s way as well, ensuring that the carriers couldn’t spread their infectious payloads. Without a living host or a thick membrane to keep it safe, the plague died out soon after its vectors did. The Ruins would be safe from infection a little longer.

“By the Queen, that was close!” With a sigh of relief Barnabee seated himself on a nearby rock, laying his splendid saw-toothed sword across his lap. “I must commend thou for acting in such haste despite thy ignorance. Any slower and the Infection would have surely spread.” The Hive Knight shook his head, his fuzzy face solemn. “It is a most virulent sickness. It creeps through the mind and body, radiant and alluring. Bugs seduced by its warm glow become mere mindless husks, puppeted by the corruption inside. All with their wits about them fear that orange luster, and guard closely against its spread. That light is nothing compared to the majesty of Her Majesty, of course!” He scratched his head, eyes narrowed. “Still. That a carrier would appear so close to the surface…I fear it bodes ill.”

He, Bowser, Junior, Kamek, Rika, and Rubick split into three teams of two for a careful look around the Dripstone Cave. Teemo lent his exploratory talents to the cause as well, perhaps as thanks for the rescue. If any other morsels of Infection managed to make their way here, they too needed to be extinguished. Fortunately, it seemed as if the plague-ridden Migospel had been a strange anomaly. Though the heroes circumnavigated the poisonous pools and skirted around the dangerously industrious Goams, no more traces of that infamous malady presented themselves. After a little over five minutes Primrose returned from her expedition to the Ancestral Mound, subtly foul-smelling but none the worse for wear. The others gathered around and received her news: despite this cavern looking like massive dead end for anyone not suicidal enough to brave the Goam burrows, there was a way out, invisible to the naked eye.

At the dancer’s prompting the team headed for the chamber’s swampy southern reaches. Even with the local mega-mosquito population culled, this subterranean mire was plenty inhospitable, being positively festooned with fungus, lily pads, and twisted tree roots. In one corner, however, lay the trunk of an enormous tree that in all likelihood extended from well beneath the floor to high above the ceiling, and one of its roots bent down into the swamp like a big, curved ramp. Flight, agility, or plain-old gumption would see the team to the root, which brought them to a slight promontory against the trunk where they found a patch of bark lighter brown than its surroundings. This, according to the Snail Shaman, was the secret passage the Seekers sought. Anyone who tried to touch it would instead put their hands straight through the bark as if it wasn’t there, dispelling the illusory wall in the process. Beyond lay a tunnel, dark but short, and at the end lay a chest.

Within the chest any prospective looter would find a bundle of rare Gorajian Mushrooms, which despite looking dangerous would heal ten percent of one’s maximum life when eaten, but that did little to distract the heroes from the fact that this dead-end tunnel didn’t exactly seem like a secret passage. Once the cleverest amongst them realized that the wall behind the chest looked just like the wall they dispelled earlier, however, an experimental touch would reveal that it was indeed another illusory wall, and behind this one lay the Great Hollow.

Though only a few dozen yards in diameter, this secret area extended a remarkable distance both upward and downward. The sight of what appeared to be daylight illuminating the whole area might draw the eye upward, but that dappled light filtered through an impenetrable mass of undisturbed thorny branches, so the only possible path taken by their allies had to be downward. Yet that route looked almost as treacherous, composed entirely of winding and in some cases very thin branches. To make matters worse, a number of mushroom people and reptilian basilisks. Even for those possessed of flight, it would be slow and tricky going to reach the exit at the very bottom. At the very least, there seemed to be the telltale glint of a handful of items along the way, ripe for the taking.

Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

Level 8 Big Band (46/80)
Ace Cadet’s @Yankee, Frisk’s @Majoras End, Red’s @TruthHurts22
Word Count: 621

As crisis befell the grand library’s twenty-seventh floor, and the threat of the floor falling out beneath the heroes slipped closer and closer to a guarantee, Red made a split-second decision. The squat superhero took the trapped civilians he’d been attempting to evacuate into his own hands, or more accurately, sword. One and all were pulled into the relative safety of his Unite Morph, then immediately turned to face the luminous pink laser Artemis swept across the battlefield, a dangerous gambit in mind. His teammates scrambled to react, with Ace whipping out his handy clutch claw to grapple out of harm’s way. Frisk didn’t manage quite so well, however, and took a blast that sent her flying toward the edge. Stunned and smoking, it was all she could do to seize a broken railing and hold on for dear life as she dangled over a twenty-seven story drop.

“Frisk!” Sore and aching but still in the fight, Band dragged himself out of the bookcase he’d been slammed into, covered with dust and scraps of paper. He shook himself off and booked it back towards the heavily-damaged floor’s suspended central area. The bridge he slid across, already groaning under twice the burden it would usually be asked to bear, shuddered under his weight, but the detective had no choice. He clenched his teeth and soldiered on.

At the same time, Red made his stand. Though the destructive power of the demon’s brilliant beam turned chairs to splinters in an instant, annihilated candelabras, and burned books to cinders, Red’s giant swordblade managed to not just deflect it, but shine a light on Artemis herself. The reflected beam cut her swath of destruction short, and she reeled back with a shrill cry. Before she could compose herself, Ace lent some fireworks of his own to the mix. Flash bomb? As the projectile hurtled toward Artemis, Band averted his eyes just a fraction of a second too late, The bomb burst against the demon’s body, and as one might expect, an eye-searing coruscation ensued, and though Band felt like his retinas were on fire, Artemis got the worst of it by far. The flash bombs used by Monster Hunters were no mere parlor tricks; their agonizing radiance could send even fearsome dragons on the wing into helpless free fall. With or without the wings and voice of an angel, this demon was no different.

With a harrowing scream Artemis dropped like a brick. She hurtled downward, striking one of the bridges on the twenty-sixth floor one story down, and proceeded to plummet all the way to the bottom.

“Music to my ears,” Band chuckled with a shake of his head, still in disbelief that the flash bomb worked so well. He extended a mechanical arm and pulled Frisk up as if she weighed nothing at all. The detective then doffed his hat to the Cadet. “Hell of a light show, Ace! I bet that thing ain’t feelin’ too hot after a fall like that. Whaddya say we head on down and finish the job, folks?” So saying, he put a pincer on his head to keep his hat from flying off and leaped from his rickety precipice. Between his rockets and his shock absorbers he didn’t need to worry about fall damage, which meant he could focus on dealing this demon a reckoning from on high. As he hurtled after Artemis he deployed both brass knuckles so he’d come down on the fallen angel with a colossal double-fisted slam.

Surprisingly, Albedo followed right behind him, jumping out into empty space to descend at terminal velocity. For someone who could reset fall speed with a plunging attack, of course, no height was too high.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 2 days ago

Level 11 Blazermate (Holding 2 level up) - (62/110)
Level 4 Susie - (26/40) - (Holding 1 level up)

Location: Despirado Area
Word Count: Less than 750

Blazermate had little success unlike Giovanna and the others when it came to finding information about Despirado and what they did here. Civilians didn't really offer much information beyond "Armstrong is great" or "Yeah, they keep us safe." or the occasional stammered. "They do good for us.", things that really didn't offer much information besides some civilians were scared of them. Susie meanwhile explored the Despirado branded android store and soon found that it really didn't offer anything she could turn for a quick profit or use herself, as it held a bunch of those android dolls she had seen earlier, but for sale. She noticed a great deal of them were refurbished, so they probably weren't even of the quality of those outside.

A bit dejected at her probing of information, Blazermate joined everyone at the pizzeria, Susie having been there early and doing more business on her PDA. Giovanna apologized to the 3 robot ladies for wasting their time as the other team members ate, thinking that they couldn't eat. Poppi and Blazermate couldn't, but Susie said. "I prefer ice cream and sweets, but I will try a slice." Being the only robot girl who couldn't even appreciate the food made Blazermate think a bit.

Upon sitting at the table and getting orders, Blazermate took a closer look at Tora and Poppi and noticed they had gotten some new stuff. "Hey, where did you guys get that stuff? Was it on sale somewhere or something?" Blazermate asked, pointing at the new hammer Tora had. Susie took her own glance at the two but wasn't as impressed at the items she could see. It didn't take long for the group to get their food, Susie grabbing a single slice to try as Tora seemed to just shovel the food into his face. Blazermate, feeling left out, had an idea and summoned her engineer striker and offered it some pizza. She didn't know if the striker could even eat or needed it, but it was all she could think of to not feel awkward. Of course she didn't realize it could've been more awkward she did this.

After sitting down for a little bit, Benedict noticed that one of his 'former' colleges was sitting at a table a few tables away as some G men had entered the restaurant and moved to another table with another Turk. Benedict himself bringing it up that he could do something since he was an old colleague. He didn't really offer much beyond that, with Susie saying. "And how should we go about that? Wouldn't you be disowned for joining a group that you had to fight before?"
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 1 hr ago

Hot Pursuit

Sector 3-4-5-6-7 Hub Tunnels
Goldlewis, Roxas’ @Double, Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Pit’s @Yankee
Word Count: 4867 (+5)

”Jeez, can’t we go anywhere without trouble somehow finding us?” Roxas asked with a quick facepalm. But there was nothing to be done about it except act.

"Nope, it's part of the job description when you’re a world-saving hero!"

”Nothing but another opportunity to demonstrate excellence, Mister Roxas. Onwards!” Karin said, making sure her grappling hook was secure on her bare arm.

For a ten-ton titan of a vehicle, Goldlewis’ hummer could really move once it got going, which came in handy now that time was of the essence. The bright lights and screens inside the otherwise dark, near-trapezoidal tunnel quickly became a holographic blur as the Patriot Mammoth picked up speed, slowly but steadily gaining on their targets. Up ahead, the Neuron officer on his motorcycle had been waylaid by the Filthwing aberrations, which despite appearances seemed capable of not just catching up to him but exceeding his bike’s impressive speed. Once ahead of them the monsters turned to shoot backward at the speeding policeman, forcing him to return fire with the bike’s mounted laser guns to avoid getting swarmed. He’d put on a dominating performance against them so far, but their firefight hat gave the semi and its monstrous revenue time to catch up. Add in crashed cars, automatic roadblocks, and other debris to the mix, and things got more complicated still.

“I’m too old for this shit!” Goldlewis roared over the clamor of the engine. At these speeds the simple act of not crashing into something took every bit of concentration he had, and in fact he did graze wrecks or the tunnel walls a couple times, but somehow he managed to not only keep everyone in one piece but also creep up on the action bit by bit. Of course, he knew the aberrations would notice eventually, and sure enough the demonic-looking fliers began to harry his hummer with arrows of malignant red energy. “Y’all better start doin’ somethin’, or we’re gonna be a smear on the damn pavement!”

"You got it!" Pit said, preparing to exit the vehicle. It took two tries to get the nearest door open, the first time it slammed back shut due to the pressure from the speed they were going at. The second time Pit gave the poor hummer's door a good kick and slipped out before it closed again, climbing up onto the roof.

The angel was confident that he could keep his footing, and his wings were tucked in close to his body to prevent them catching any wind that might knock him off. This kind of high speed battle, while not the norm for him, was something he had experience in. Plus he couldn't exactly fire his bow from inside anyway. The weapon came to his hand, a light arrow manifested, and soon enough Pit was shooting back at the flying menaces. Thanks to the maneuverability of the light arrows he didn't have to be entirely accurate when judging his aim while hurtling down the road - the glowing blue flickers of light curved toward their targets, slamming into the Filthwings both from their sides and straight on.

In response there was the wiring of electric motors as one or more of the windows were rolled down. First to pop their head out was a masked and suited Midna, unintentionally looking like some kind of bank robber, an aesthetic only added to when she started out by firing off a few ineffectual pistol shots. She took the goddess name in vain, and then leaned back into the car, after which a shadow hand extended out in its place, and into its grip one of the Amazonian initiates was summoned.

Gripped around the waist by the massive magical hand that acted somewhat as armor, the striker hoisted a spear of psionic energy over her shoulder, and then hurled it like a javelin, though the attack designed for futuristic battlefields flew straighter and truer than any physical projectile might have against the rushing tunnel air the Hummer was blasting through. For all its absurdity, the clever maneuver paid off, spearing one of the Filthwings through the abdomen. More than that, the impact drove it into the road beneath, sending it into a wild tumble along the road.

Meanwhile, a window on the opposite side of the hummer slid down to open. And then a very nervous Roxas quickly leaned part way out of the window and called Oathkeeper to his hand. Aiming wasn’t exactly easy, considering the high speed and low visibility of the tunnel. In fact Roxas wasn’t even sure this was a good idea. But Mr. Dickinson said they needed to do something, so Roxas had to try something at least. He pointed the Keyblade at the general direction of one of the demon things chasing the motorcycle, ”Firaga!” and with that command, an explosive fireball launched from the weapon’s tip and flew forward.

Maybe shooting fire at a demonic creature might not have been the most tactically sound idea, but Blizzaga and Waterga would have created hazards that could cause a wreck, while Thundaga would have just showered their own vehicle in a series of indoor lightning strikes. Ergo, Firaga ironically seemed to be the least risky move here. Of course Roxas also had to quickly duck back into the window to avoid clipping against an oncoming obstruction, but otherwise he was still fine for the moment, ”Please tell me someone has a better idea?” he said, not exactly thrilled with the thought of doing that again. Despite his trepidations, he managed to land the shot, thanks mostly to the aberration’s remarkably stable flight pattern. A plume of flame blossomed in midair against the monster and it careened off course. While it didn’t die, it would be forced to catch up with the heroes once more.

At that point the other Filthwings really started to take notice. A flurry of crimson bolts flew the hummer’s way, and Goldlewis couldn’t evade them all. Despite its formidable appearance the vehicle wasn’t actually military-grade, and after just a few shots the windshield shattered violently, filling the inside with shards of glass. The veteran gritted his teeth as blood dribbled from fresh cuts on his face. “Damn it! They’re gonna pay!” He reached over and knocked on the lid of his coffin, causing it to slide open. “UMA! Give ‘em somethin’ to shoot with!” In reply the alien produced the hulking Skyfish minigun, which would take superhuman strength to wield, and certainly not within the confines of the hummer’s interior.

”Ohhhhh, gimme gimme!” Midna said as she made a grab for the massive gun with her shadowhand, wrapping it around the body of the gun and hoisting it up. She proceeded to shove open a door and shoved the minigun out of it, only to find actually firing it herself to be basically impossible, what with the open door being in the way and there being no way to lean out of it safely either.

”No … No… ok someone over there grab it” she instructed as she hauled the gun over the top of the hummer’s roof and then held it next to the other side of the car’s open windows. There someone could lean out of it, and fire it one handedly while relying on Midna’s supernatural strength to handle the recoil.

Karin, having been sat in the middle, was waiting for a moment to act. When the glass shattered she protected herself and then moved forward the passenger seat and moved with agility out the window and onto the hood of the car. With a back roll she steadied herself with a low crouch on the roof of the hummer. ”I’ve done battle on the wings of a biplane! This is nothing!” She declared. Extended her arm forward, she fired off a grappling hook to one of the Filthwings. She retracted, the wind at it’s back as she pulled it in for a stabbing punch to that torso that pinned it to the hummer’s roof. Following up with a viscous elbow, she then slammed it up with her palm where it scattered into dust on the ceiling.

After loosing a few more arrows ahead of them Pit glanced at his fellow rooftop fighter. "Me too!" The organizers for the Smash Bros. tourneys always loved getting creative with the stages.

Hopefully with Karin now being on the hummer it would attract some attention. Otherwise, she could get on the hood and defend from there. Luckily, the aberrations obliged. Two of the four archers currently shooting at the Patriot Mammoth flew toward her to attack in person. Wielding their deformed arms like clubs they aimed to clothesline the street fighter off the roof for a deadly encounter with the pavement, and she had less than two seconds to deal with one before the second joined the fun.

Before the first could reach her with its arms, she thrust her foot out to stop it dead in its tracks. She brought her other leg around and swiped it across the chest, slamming it into the path of its fellow before it could reach her. This would interrupt its focus but not stop all of its momentum. As it fell towards her she brought the back of her hand down atop its dome and struck her palm under its chin, sending it flying into the speedy roof tunnel above. Quickly she zipped back over to the first creature and slammed her back into it, knocking it into the hood of the humvee and then under the wheels, to the discomfort of those inside of it.

“The hell are ya doin’ with my gun!?” She heard Goldlewis holler at Midna down below. “Those kids can’t fire it like that! If Karin can’t hold it up top, put it back in the damn coffin!” With the driver’s attention diverted to something even more valuable than his car, he steadied the hummer as it continued to roar down the tunnel, filling it with a cacophonous echo. This made it an easier target for the aberrations, who pelted it with projectiles. One struck Goldlewis in the chest, inches from his heart. “Agh!” he growled. “UMA! Need a hand!”

In the middle back seat, the coffin began to shake. The lid lifted upward, and from within extended a spectral hand. Its translucent skin gleamed like cosmic nebulae on fingers much longer than a human’s. Then a second hand stretched outward. And a third. One by one ten hands appeared, borne on long arms of uncanny slenderness to reach out through the hummer’s windows. Five of them relieved Midna’s shadow-hand of the Skyfish minigun, then hoisted it up onto the roof for the other five to steady. With their staunch grip holding the minigun it could be aimed and fired like a turret.

”That’s basically just the same as my idea!” Midna complained, not at all put off by the weird spectral ghost thing, before she was forced to admit that while it was the same sort of idea, it was being done in a way that didn’t lopside the car.

”Fine, have it your way!” she declared, as she moved her shadow hand to grab the back of the hummer for support, and then pulled herself out the door instead.

There came an ”Eek!” as the wind resistance hit her and she was pulled back, but she got a hold of the situation and, rather than flailing around behind the vehicle, pulled herself around in an arc to land on top of the vehicle.

”I meant to do that!” she insisted, arms folded with faked confidence, as dragon claws spiked down from her toes, gripping the roof and negating the lack of friction her maglev mod created. Then she reached forward, grabbed the handle at the back of the minigun with both hands and promptly let it rip.

The sound of continuous gunfire and the increasingly manic cries of a woman who had little to no concept of recoil control or ammo preservation began to fill the air, along with a stream of lead. Despite the brain rattling and giving off the impression that she was rapidly going mad with (fire) power, the princess at least had the common sense to keep well away from the biker they were trying to aid.

”Why must you two insist upon that ungainly gatling gun?” Karin shouted from the roof.

If Midna could hear her over the roar of gunfire just a couple feet away also on the hummer’s roof, she gave no sign. Just a moment later, however, the minigun’s withering report gave way to a series of clicks. It was empty. Before the Twilight Princess could do much about it, the many arms of the UMA took the Skyfish away from her and into the coffin from whence it came. As it receded it gave both ladies up top as good a view of what lay directly ahead as their ride’s driver, much to his chagrin. Just a few hundred feet up and closing fast lay a row of emergency traffic blockers, but since they took the form of raised inclines the officer on his bike simply ramped off the top at high speed and hurtled through the air. “We’re in for it now, hold on tight!” Goldlewis yelled, and the next moment the ten-ton vehicle and all its passengers were airborne.

With the Palutena bow dispelled for now so that he could wrap both of his arms around the roof's metal bars, Pit did not cut an elegant figure as the hummer soared over the stretch of road. His joyful whoop at Goldlewis' action hero-style stunt soon turned to a noise of concern as the pavement came up to meet them again.

The hummer’s impact with the ground was tremendous. Those not currently wearing seatbelts received a powerful jerk and, if especially unlucky, a concussive collision with some other part of the interior as well. But the Patriot Mammoth, every bit as stout-hearted as the man who drove it, would not be so easily defeated. With a cry of defiance its engine got back into gear, accelerating the tremendous four-wheeler through the tunnel once again. Nerves afire from the jarring blow and heart pumping from excitement, Goldlewis wiped beads of perspiration from his brow with a shaky hand, thanking his lucky stars that nothing disastrous happened. “...Holy hell.”

Karin had anchored herself to the roof with her grapple hook, kneeled low. She grinned confidently as her golden ringlets blew in the wind.

Well before they caught up with the policeman, who’d been accosted by airborne aberrations again, disaster struck after all. A bassy horn resounded through the tunnel as the semitruck from before drew even with the heroes across the dividing line. It was crawling with enemies, whether inside the cab, in the trailer, or on top of the vehicle. Though wingless, some of these aberrations featured new mutations, including giant claws or crude facsimiles of sword and shield. In another moment the first few would make the jump, and the team’s ride would be boarded.

Karin eyed the semi-truck. Surely her allies were more than capable of defending the humvee itself. It was time to go on the offensive if they wanted to make progress in winning this battle. She fired a line across to the semi truck, and leapt forward. The line ensured her accuracy despite the speed of the moving vehicles. Along the way she knocked a leaping monster from its path, and landed with a roll on the semi truck.

”Kanzuki-Ryu!” She shouted, taking a solid stance, emitting an intimidating aura that bordered on physical. She moved to the nearest aberration, snatched its wrist and twisted it, before shoulder checking it off the edge.

"I know I'm gonna regret this!" said the Keyblade Wielder after recovering from getting jumbled around from the earlier impact. But he wasn't about to let one of his new friends go charging into a much larger group on her own.

With his own agility and momentum, Roxas sprang from his seat and - after worming his way past the front seat - launched himself through the now absent windshield. Thanks to flowmotion, he slammed onto an airborne aberration only to kick off of it and then again off of a second one before sliding and rolling to a stop onto the top of the semi truck.

"Finally, some breathing room!" he remarked as he summoned both of his Keyblades and held them crossed in front of him to block an incoming claw attack. Then quickly slid into a circular Dual Counter slash with both blades. The wide circular swing was handy for keeping other enemies from getting in too close. Then he hooked the Keyblades' teeth around the aberration he'd just countered and sent it sprawling in Karin's direction - hoping she'd have a good punch or kick ready for it.

Karin kept a few enemies at bay with her kicks and blocking. The sprawling enemy, she caught by the arm with one hand mid-air. WIth seemingly no effort she elegantly twirled the minion into its fellows, flooring some of them. She back walked, wielding her flattened hands like akimbo blades. ”So you’ve seen fit to join me? If you are done complaining, I believe we can make quick work of them.”

And that was when Roxas had an idea, "Here we go," he said as he suddenly spun around and aimed the tip of Oathkeeper at Karin, "Light!" and with that command, a thin beam of light shot out at Karin, but it didn’t harm her. Instead she became cloaked in an aura of white light, much like what Roxas usually did with his own Keyblades. For the next few moments, Karin's attacks would be empowered by Roxas's Light.

With that, they went to town on the mutants. Their attacks circled around one another almost like they'd choreographed it. Karin's fists and kicks plus Roxas's keyblades created what looked like a glowing whirlwind of strikes atop the semi truck. Then - at the end of it - both Seekers jumped up and made one last attack. Karin brought her fist into a downward punch aimed at the truck's roof. Her cloak of Light expelled into a shockwave that launched the surrounding mutants upward into Roxas's followup. He began to zip and dart around between them all, looking like a ray of light bouncing off mirrors. Then he landed with a flourish that revealed he'd been slicing and dicing so quickly that the mutants were only now beginning to feel the attacks catching up to them.

”Kanzuki-Ryu hikari no ichigeki uki kagami!” Karin announced the long winded name of the special move on the spot with a finishing flourish.

As street fighter and keyblade master leapt into the fray, some of that fray came the other way, mutants leaping from their truck and onto the roof of the hummer. Atop that stood Midna, shadow hand having held fast to the car and prevented her from being tossed off of it. It was, however, also the only thing keeping her on it, which made for something of an awkward situation combat stance wise.

Add to that the rushing air that would sweep her summons off the roof before they got their own foot holds, and she was both on her own and gimped fighting style wise. Good thing she’d been diversifying using all those fusions.

The practically a mutant herself at this point princess retaliated to the border leaps by blasting sand out of portals to get it in their eyes and throw off their jumps, causing more than one to miss it and fall.

Those that made it found themselves contending with Midna wielding a (literal) fire ax. ”No free rides!” she yelled at the first, to make the jump, puppeting herself forwards via the shadow hand limb and bringing the ax down in an overhead chop.

The mutant, close to twice her size, raised an armored claw and caught the telegraph blow in it, only for its entire being to burst into flames from contact with the volcano fragment. They shrieked like a boiling lobster as the inferno engulfed them. As fire ragged before her, the princess let one hand go from her ax and used it to claw at the burning mutant, bright purple talons flaring at her fingertips expertly slashing through muscles and nerves on the arm restraining her weapon, forcing the grip loosen and let her blade free.

She pulled herself back using her shadow hand, leaving the mutant to burn, and then jerkily lunged herself towards another, and then another, the biological weapons of the mutants making them unable to properly parry her fire spreading blade, while her dragon claws meant she could follow up the first blow with something better than the ax’s mediocre slashing damage.

As she did this, her motor mouth really got running, generally to the tune of ”Ahahahah Burn, Buuuuuurn!” as her inherited quirks ran wild while the princess focused her brainpower on keeping both her and the other people still with the car alive and kicking.

"I never knew you were such a pyromaniac, Midna!" came Pit's voice from some feet away on the roof's other end. Then, after a slight delay, "Um, should we be worried about that?"

He'd swapped to the Upperdash Arm, catching a mutant leaping over with an uppercut that sent it bouncing off of the tunnel's ceiling and down onto the pavement. Hanger-ons that managed to get through the sand blasts were pummeled with the colorful weapon as Pit battered their heads and arms until they fell, left somewhere on the road as the car sped onward. And of course the enemies that hauled themselves onto the roof and chose to contend with Pit rather than the impish firebug suffered the Arm's back-dash shot, slamming them up into the air. Pit followed up by firing a disc and launching them away.

"Heh, bullseye!" he crowed, turning to shoot another disc at the next.

Between the heroes’ own boarding party wreaking havoc atop the rampaging semitruck and the pair soundly punishing any who actually managed to make it to the hummer, the aberrant attackers dropped like flies. Though stronger and tougher than the average human, not to mention more vicious, the Seekers were a lot stronger and tougher on average, not to mention more skilled. Sand scoured them, fists floored them, keyblades carved them, and light discs dismantled them. It didn’t take much to use the aberrations’ own murderous savagery against them and send the corrupt combatants flying from the vehicles’ rooftops to the roadway below.

As chaos unfolded on the semitruck and it racked up damage, however, its already-erratic driving grew even more unstable. The massive vehicle veered from side to side, grinding against the highway’s divider in a shower of sparks and shrapnel. Up ahead lay a pileup of wrecked and otherwise abandoned cars, which for the runaway hauler meant almost certain destruction. “Get your asses back over here!” Goldlewis hollered, drawing their attention to the obstruction ahead if it hadn’t been already. Roxas and Karin had mere moments to finish their tag-team scramble with a daring getaway.

”Let’s get outta here!” Roxas said to Karin as he knocked back an incoming mutant with his Keyblade. He didn’t need to be told twice and made a break for the edge of the truck. Leaping back to the Hummer was surprisingly easier than it was to leap to the truck. After all, this jump was going toward something coming in Roxas’s direction rather than something actively speeding away from him. Karin followed suit, pulling herself back to the humvee with her grappling hook.

Midna meanwhile snatched a single spirit of a fallen crab claw mutant from the air, and then deposited herself back inside the car. Once there swiftly strapped herself back in, really rather glad to be secured once more, suddenly finding an appreciation for seat belts that she had not had when they started this trip.

A second later the heedless semitruck careened into the pileup, and against the odds its sheer weight and momentum allowed it to plow through, albeit at a steep cost. The gut-wrenching sound of crushed metal rent the air as the terrific impact not just pancaked the aberrant driver but also pulverized the truck’s cabin into an unrecognizable flaming mess. Completely out of control and made worse by the weight of its trailer, the truck smashed into and tipped over the highway divider, rolling into the heroes’ lane as a twenty-ton, seventy-foot harbinger of devastation, its reinforced steel crumpled like tinfoil. Up ahead, the policeman had only the briefest window in which to react. He went low, grinding his motorcycle near-horizontal along the road at high speed. Sparks flew as he slid beneath the tumbling semi with nary an inch of clearance, but he made it, and a moment later rose up again to roar down the tunnel and out into the night.

In their massive hummer Seekers had no such luxury. Goldlewis hammered the emergency brakes as he swerved sideways, and as his vehicle screeched to a halt he stepped from the still-moving vehicle, coffin in hand. Hell itself thundered toward him, but this veteran had stared death in the eye before.

Goldlewis Dickinson planted his feet. As he gripped his coffin, his enormous muscles flex, and veins popped out all along his arms, neck and face. “DOWN THEEEEEEEE-!” He began to swing; his eyes went wide, the pupils shrunken to dots, and his mouth opened wider than should physically be possible. Sheer power rippled off him, blowing his own glasses to smithereens. As the semitruck’s bulk descended towards him and his friends, eager to squash the proud few upon whose shoulders the weight of the world rested, his fist -and his coffin- rose up.


Might met metal in a single, incredible blow. Dented by its force, the truck’s trailer bounced into the air, soaring over the hummer to crash down and roll to a stop behind it.

A few moments later and Minda peaked her head out of the shadows, glanced back at the crushed trailer behind them and then, in a shocked and slightly awed tone commenced that ”Well that was ridiculously impressive”

"Way more than impressive, that was awesome!" Pit corrected, having been rounding the hummer at the time. He had actually been thrown from the roof, the only thing able to dislodge him had been the sharp braking, but besides some ruffled hair and feathers he looked to be alright. Once he'd gotten back to his feet he'd swapped the Upperdash Arm for his Guardian Orbitars, but they floated around unneeded in thanks to Goldlewis.

In front of the Seekers, Goldlewis fell to his knees, panting. Steam rose from his skin, and blood trickled from his face, yet in all his years he didn’t know if he’d ever felt quite so alive. After a moment he rose, staggering back toward the car. “This ain’t over yet,” he barked hoarsely. “Let’s hustle.”

”Are you fit to drive like that?” Midna asked, as she mentally checked around her pocket dimension, and then made a little ”Ah!” as she found what she was looking for. She opened a little portal and pulled out one little hand sanitizer like bottle of orange goo which, having had a chance to read the label since she got it, she now knew was A. called Light Jelly, and B. was a healing potion of sorts.

A bit like Chu Jelly even.

This she offered to the man while saying ”Either way, here, for the bleeding” and then after a few more moments added ”And also thanks, for, well, saving us all”

“Heh,” Goldlewis huffed, accepting the medicine. Midna, at least, could have hidden in a shadow somewhere. “Nothin’ to it.”

Roxas looked around at Karin and Pit, ”Are… you two… okay?” he asked them through his heavy breaths. That had just been one heck of an experience for all of them. In fact Roxas had had to dive off the Hummer before it even stopped because the force of the bumpiness would have thrown him off completely if he hadn’t.

”Of course.” Karin replied, flipping her ringlets. ”A car accident could never destroy me. I was more concerned about all of you.”

The angel flashed Roxas the sign for victory, two fingers held up forming the V. "I'm okay!" he said, equally glad to see the flashy fighters not too worse for wear. "But we've got more to go!" Following the former Secretary of Defense's lead he clambered back to perch on the Mammoth's roof, foregoing the interior entirely this time in preparation for battle.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 4 days ago

Geralt of Rivia

Midgar- Sector 8, Detroit

Lvl 9 (164/90) -> Lvl 9 (165/90)

Word Count: 517 words

@Dark Cloud

While the others looked around, explored, and inquired with the civilians about Desporhado and Armstrong, Geralt took a different approach: stand in one spot, be quiet, and listen. Leaning against a tree and closing his eyes, Geralt listened to the conversations around him, of passersby who thought their admissions one of many in a sea of voices. Biological enhancements and years of training allowed Geralt to pick out individual voices, but all in all, he didn't learn much other than that Armstrong was a fairly popular candidate for election. All in all, it seemed that they wouldn't be making many friends if they ended up going against the man, or his followers in Desporhado. That was a given, but knowing that popular sentiment was against them was still something. He made a note of the strange, glowing indentation in the road, but didn't approach. Not knowing that Link had fought and freed Cerberus from there, he wasn't willing to risk anything by checking out something so obviously magical, his medallion humming just a bit when he turned its way. And if he did know, he might have left it be until they were well and truly ready to leave. Especially not before dinner.

Joining together with the others at the pizzeria, Geralt gladly partook in the greasy, hot, fatty deep-dish pizza, sauce staining some of his beard a light red as he ate. He listened to the others, but his attention was well and truly on his food, his stomach seemingly endless to an outside observer, as two and then three pieces of pizza disappeared into his ravenous maw in the time the more sedately-paced members of the Seekers could eat a single slice.

Geralt wasn't the first to notice the G-Men, but he was quick to grab a napkin and wipe down his beard, sauce and grease staining the cloth such that he needed to grab a bunch to really clean it out.

For a tense few minutes, the Turk and his G-Men just...sat there and ate. Calmly. The G-men kept up their pretenses, though many of the other patrons seemed a bit more hurried in their presence. The eldritch creatures weren't something anybody wanted to mess with, even if they were all bunched up in the back corner of the place.

When he was finished with his slice, Zenkichi waved the G-Men on, standing up. "Alright, boys, head on out. I'll catch up in a minute. Casually making his way towards the Seekers, he regarded Benedict with a short nod. "Lieutenant Pascal, fancy meeting you here. And with the fabled Giovanna, no less. There something I should know about?"

By all means, Zenkichi looked like he was truly just having a chat with a co-worker, but to Benedict, who'd known the man a while and worked with him before, he was as ready for a fight as ever, and with a Persona up his sleeve, he could give the Seekers a run for their money even in such a crowded place, if not because of the close proximity and cramped quarters.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
Avatar of Dark Cloud

Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

Wordage: 315 words (+1 points)
Experience: 9/20 EXP
Location: Detroit

A tense moment of silence followed, the other Turk finished a bite of lettuce before pushing his plate forward slightly all the while he stared at the detective. Benedict spoke, his words measured "If you know me detective, you know that there is reason enough." the inspector answered cooly. It was at this point the other patrons were trickling out the door, the restaurant was filled with a tension that was as tight as the hangman's noose.

Benedict adjusted the spectacles upon his face, glinting slightly "Suspicion is not enough to warrant arrest," he said, almost like he were quoting something "Though Mr. Hasegawa I am sure you knew that...Tell me Mr. Hasegawa, as a colleague are you not bound by oath to assist your fellow officers if they require it?" he knew better than any of Zenkichi's zeal to uphold the law and how devoted to his job he was, he even knew the man had his own issues though it were never Benedict's place to ask.

But he knew the right buttons to press, all he needed to do was be careful not to poke at all the dents in his fellow Turk's armor "I will not interfere if you must proceed with the arrest as it is your job but I must ask one thing; let these people explain their situation." Benedict asked Zenkichi, he hoped that if the detective could understand the Seekers then maybe he could be convinced to help them.

"Midgar's problems aren't their's, I fear that the city has been corrupted from within." Hasegawa was a man who hated the corrupt, Benedict knew as much and he would use that to make the detective have a bit of an open mind.

It was a gamble but if he was to gain the detective's help he would need to take any opportunity he could.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Majoras End
Avatar of Majoras End

Majoras End Oyasumi~

Member Seen 0-12 hrs ago

As Above, So Below

Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Omori’s @Majoras End, Ganondorf’s @Double, Ms Fortune, the Knight

Word Count: 5912 (+6 exp)

Given the circumstances, Nadia couldn’t help but laugh. Here she was, crouching with her claws embedded in the surface of a raft of flesh and hanging on for dear life, hurtling down the pulsating ventricles of some colossal subterranean superorganism on a raging river of blood like some demented theme park ride. Above her and the others, already so tuckered out from their incessant slog through the Basements horrors, hung a horrendous amalgamation of eldritch organs in a twisted mockery of an unborn child. Its resounding laughter and hair-raising cries shook something loose inside the ailing feral, something already unscrewed by the disease that now plagued her. It was all just so absurd. But in the end she forced down her delirious mirth and settled for a loopy smile. Keep it together, girl, she told herself, shakily getting to her feet to bare her claws. Just long enough to send this thing back to hell.

The others didn’t plan to take any chances, and called in some reinforcements to turn the tides. Nadia stared, mouth agape, as the beautifully deadly Sapientia, Cardinal Virtue of Prudence, arose from the scarlet flood, an holy titan far beyond anything she might have ever defined as an angel. Not knowing from whence it came, Nadia assumed the monstrous salamander to be another enemy and was just about to sink to her knees, ears flat with despair, until it unhinged the great maw on its upside-down head to roar at It Lives instead. Wait, what? Only when Sectonia used her own Assist Trophy to summon the demonic octopus Kraken, Despot of the Sullen Maw, did it sink in: these fearsome representatives of heaven and hell were here to help. This time, she did burst out laughing. “Nyahahaha!” she guffawed, grinning with palpable relief until her laughter ended in a coughing fit. “I’ll take it! Let’s put this big baby to bed!”

Without delay the Seekers’ new helpers obliged. Sapientia popped open a dozen ports on its back, and from their silos came a flurry of marble-white missiles, their fronts cherubic faces crowned by golden halos. They homed in on It Lives, and as they did Kraken cracked open the tips of its tentacles to spray It Lives with torrents of high-pressure ink, slowing it down. The fetal nightmare reeled, weeping uncontrollably, but before the angel and demon could press their advantage they noticed each other. In an instant they were at one another’s throats, bursting from the blood to slam together in a tremendous impact directly in front of the heroes’ raft. A second later they fell down in a titanic wrestling match, striking the raft on the back side.

It tipped downward into the blood, sending a torrent across its surface. Omori, Therion, Ganondorf, and Jesse got thrown for a loop by the sudden impact and didn’t manage to evade in time, and in addition to almost knocking them off the raft the vile blood infected them with creeping cough (-20% damage), tetanus (-5% accuracy and crit rate), and the red plague (75% more susceptible to bleeding and -10% max health). Nadia leaped over it, but unlike the Knight she fumbled the landing, forcing her to stagger back to her feet. “The hell’re they fightin’ each other for!?” she yelled, her voice hoarse. She watched as Kraken managed to get a firm hold of Sapientia and hurl the great gecko from the ‘water’ in a sideways barrel roll across the raft itself–with only a couple feet of clearance.

”Hey! Deal with the giant abomination, not the gold trimmed lizard!” Sectonia snapped at her own Assist Trophy, miffed that hers was another monstrous abomination. At least whenever its tentacles flailed and made contact with her, it did absolutely no damage, so it wouldn’t sully her form. While the three monsters fought, Sectonia didn’t have to deal with the raft or blood river like the others had to, but that also got her closer to the danger itself. As such, while the tumbling of the gecko itself didn’t bother her due to being above that, but she was occasionally smacked by their quarrel, especially given the sheer volume of bloody tears put out by It Lives.

A monster is a monster is a monster, Therion wanted to reply to Nadia. Instead, he hacked up the tainted blood from his mouth as he flattened himself to the raft's surface to avoid getting hit. Besides the awful aftertaste, there was an unpleasant feeling stuck in his throat and chest that accompanied a full body chill. The muscle fatigue he optimistically chalked up to the long string of battles they'd been through earlier. Whatever kinds of sickness lurked in the blood bath here, he really hoped it wasn't permanent.

Omori had to cough up the blood that slipped into his mouth as well, but the coughing fit didn’t end there for him. Whatever it did to those that were hit, it made them weak. Dreadfully ill. He could’ve sworn he was going to cough up his own blood. The boy envied Nadia and Knight at that second, even when the feral lost her footing for a moment she still managed to avoid this crap. Before he could get back on his feet, the latter had yanked him back down so they could both avoid getting hit by the incoming angel. Hopefully Mewo was faring better.

Jesse blew as a raspberry over the side of the raft as she cleared her mouth, coughing. “Yummy.” She said, strained.

”Argh! I’ve had it up to here with this place!” Ganondorf barked, angrily shouting in between coughs. But before he could rant any further, he head to drop down and avoid getting knocked clear off the raft by the thrown gecko.

“Holy frijoles!” Nadia hit the deck with her hands over her head and her eyes squeezed shut. Luckily Sapientia tumbled overhead, and after it splashed down and sunk into the blood, the giant demon hefted one of its anchor-tipped tentacles over the raft, taking aim at It Lives. Thinking quickly, Nadia ran up and grabbed onto the anchor, then held tight as Kraken swung the massive golden blade into It Lives’ body. The momentum threw Nadia right at It Lives too, just as planned, and she spent a bar of Dramatic Tension to unleash a Purrge of Vengeance right in its ugly face. “Here’s a drink on the house!” Two more infused bars of Tension swelled the swirling orb to twenty feet in diameter before it detonated point-blank, exploding with enough force to send It Lives swinging on its tubules.

Seeing the big abomination swinging about in disruption after Nadia’s attack, Ganondorf grit his teeth and growled with growing anger. He didn’t care how large this thing was. He didn’t care how tired and drained he was. He was going. To kill. This thing. One way or another. He waited for it to swing close and then used his newfound stronger legs to make a big leap onto the creature.

The Triforce glowed brightly as the Gerudo’s hands gripped the red flesh of It Lives. Ganondorf began to slowly but surely scale the creature’s body. Once he could find a decent footing to stand, the King of Evil remained knelt, gripping the creature’s flesh with his left hand while the right one began to charge with whatever dark energy he could muster. Ganondorf used whatever strength the Triforce could still give him to stay mounted on It Lives while repeatedly hitting it again and again with his Warlock Punch. The whole time, bloody tears streamed from the horror’s very flesh, striking the warlock over and over again. When he felt his dark magic to wane, Ganondorf simply drew the white sword and began hacking and stabbing with it angrily. He racked up a lot of damage, but after a few moments his foe aimed a ventricle at him and blasted him back down to the raft with a rippling crimson laser.

Omori stumbled back on his feet, drawing Revolver out from his backpack. He had no idea how to follow up the onslaught Ganondorf was dishing out at the abomination, but he had to figure out something! The drawbacks from emotions were riskier with the boy’s current ailment. He had to stay calm and rely on stabbing the stupid thing, that always managed to hit ‘em where it hurts. But first, he gave the Knight a boost up, the nail-wielding bug breaking into a running start soon as It Lives swung close to the raft. It leapt onto and climbed up towards the thing’s tubules to try and cut it down from…wherever it was suspended from. Omori followed behind, pulling the gunblade’s trigger as soon as it sank into It Lives’ flesh for a bit of extra potential damage. With a free hand he grabbed one of his knives and focused on cleaving into it with no mercy. Without a dedicated focus to actually holding on to it, however, he fell before he could sever one of its tubes. He landed back on the raft with a grunt.

Sectonia decided that, before this accursed thing recovered, she’d make dealing with it much easier. While still mad at it and bombarding it with her dark lightning, she also cast Slow on it, making its movements and attacks slower so everyone else could destroy this thing. At least now everyone was attacking it, so perhaps they could get rid of this abomination.

After she fell back to the raft, Sapientia pulled Kraken under, smacking the raft once more in doing so. Not sufficiently stabilized after her landing, Nadia got flung onto the blood, though that meant she managed to avoid It Lives’ retaliation. The monster aimed four tubes down at the raft and unleashed streams of blood like crimson lasers to sweep back and forth across its surface.

Therion had been focusing solely on keeping out of harm's way and above water while the other Seekers went at it. He wasn't keen at all about getting between any of the three giants, unlike some of the others. It was hard work just staying afloat with harsh rapids and the three way battle going on.

He considered shifting into his beast form for its greater mobility and balance, but on the off chance that he did get flung into the river of blood it would be a hell of a bad time to learn how to swim with four legs. Thankfully his two human legs had never failed him before, and he nimbly weaved around the hoses' paths. At one point he jumped up to hitch a ride on the queen bee flying overhead, grabbing one of Sectonia's wings to dangle there in safety before landing back on the platform once it was mostly clear.

Sectonia, being the residential flier, found it fairly easy to dodge the attacks of It Lives as it attacked the platform itself. This let her hit it with a single blast of lightning. Of course, being such a large flying object meant that one of the more agile members of the group decided to use her as a way to dodge the attack with Therion using her lower wing as a handhold so he could dodge over the lasers. Having her wing suddenly pulled did cause Sectonia to stumble a bit and look down at what caused it. Noticing Therion, she grumbled at him as she shooed him away. When she looked back up, It Lives had ceased its laser discharge and begun instead to unleash a torrential deluge of bloody tears, filling the air with them. Sectonia, being too busy dealing with Therion who had decided to use her to dodge an attack, wasn’t paying as much attention to that and got hit, breaking her Chaos Shield with this and the other attacks she had taken finally overwhelming it.

By that time, the other elephants in the room returned with a vengeance. Their submerged battle suddenly erupted from the surface, causing the raft to rock precariously. Kraken had opened up its giant, bulbous head into a four-pronged jaw like unzipping a massive bag and snapped it shut on one of Sapientia’s forelegs. It swung it’s tentacle at the angel’s unguarded head only for it to open its own yawning maw and snap shut on the tentacle. With a mighty crunch it severed the enormous golden anchor, which descended upon the raft like a massive guillotine. It embedded partway into its surface, its cutting edge spanning from about the center to seven o’ clock. Kraken howled in pain and let go of Sapientia, and the two parted parallel to the raft. Eager to press its advantage, the angel unloaded a swarm of relatively slow-moving cherubic missiles at Kraken that flew past the raft directly in front of it at a variety of heights.

The Knight saw an opportunity to get back to It Lives. It leaped into the air and, using its nail, pogo-jumped off the missiles to quickly gain height. After just a moment it drew level with the unborn monstrosity and cast Vengeful Spirit to blast It Lives right in the face.

“What the hell is even on our team at this point?” Jesse asked, looking at the mess in front of her. “Whatever. I’m just gonna shoot the baby.” She charged up a Pierce shot and fired her sniper Service Weapon towards the monster. Seeing the missiles pass in front of their raft, she went about redirecting them towards the real target, It Lives, using Launch. The heavenly ordinance exploded against the big baby’s fleshy body just as happily as they would have against Kraken’s, and It Lives thrashed around in agonized rage, firing bloody tears left and right. All too soon Sectonia’s summon retreated beneath the crimson flood, and in response the missile barrage came to an end.

"Just assume none of them are." It was what Therion was doing, after all. He did notice that the octopus and the lizard never directly attacked them unlike the demonic fetus, but their sheer size made friendly fire a very real possibility. After getting clear of the axe dropped onto the raft he moved around to the other side of it, using the flat head as a barrier between himself and the heavenly missiles. Curiously, he didn't feel any heat or force from those that did explode against the axe. So... what, was that reptile actually the thing that he'd tried to summon out of the trophy earlier, and its attacks wouldn't hurt him? Therion didn't feel like testing the theory so he stayed in cover, keeping an eye on the action.

”Of course they attack everything in sight. Everything in this dungeon has pros and cons, mostly cons.” Sectonia said, blinking away from some of the missile attack herself as she moved to attack It Lives alongside the others with her own ranged attacks, although her Rings of Light much like they normally do had weird movement patterns. The fact that they were all moving and she had to essentially fly backwards however at least made that less of an issue. The boomerang projectile getting a double hit for once. She couldn’t hurt her own assist trophy, but seeing as the other assist trophy kaiju was an enemy and she wasn’t having any of this infighting, she damaged it too with her attacks.

For once, things weren’t going the insect queen’s way. Despite her vast magical output, It Lives actually outstripped her both in sheer projectile amount and consistency, forcing her to spent more time dodging than trying her luck with randomized projectiles, only allowing a single Ring of Light before she had to continue to dodge. Inflicting damage to Sapientia pissed it off, triggering Galeem’s influence, but for now its focus remained on It Lives since the freak had landed many more shots on it than Sectonia had. Announcing its intentions to smite the abomination In the alien language of Enochian, the bizarre angel grabbed hold of the raft with one claw, steading itself. Its head bent backward as if on a hinge, and from its neck extruded four huge, meaty stalks. The eyes at their ends began to glow, charging up a quadruple laser bombardment of biblical proportions.

Then Kraken struck from below, bursting up beneath Sapientia to ensnare it with its tentacles. For a brief moment the two titans struggled, rocking the raft back and forth, but the leviathan had the advantage. It bodily shoved Sapientia backward just in time for the colossus to smash into a gargantuan spar of bone protruding from the bloody waves, and with its foe temporarily out of action the demon moved to assist. Turning upside-down, it reached upward with its myriad tentacles and wrapped them around It Lives in an attempt to pull it down, but the tubules that connected the abomination to the ceiling wouldn’t be stretched out so easily. As it lowered It Lives towards the raft Kraken actually lifted itself up as well, providing a bejeweled demonic climbing wall for anyone who wanted to get up close and personal with the boss.

Unfortunately, It Lives wouldn’t be taking this lying down. All across its body, bloodshot eyes popped open, and once they looked in the heroes’ direction they began unleashing a plethora of thin lasers no wider than soda cans, yet plenty damaging to anyone who didn’t stay mobile.

Omori was forced to keep evading the onslaught of attacks as he began moving towards the Kraken. ”I. HATE. IT. HERE.” The kid’s complaint earned a quick, dry laugh from Therion. Gritting his teeth, Omori swapped out Revolver for his Boltok Pistol and began firing at It Lives’ eyes. Hopefully damaging them would deal with the lasers, even temporarily. He just wanted to stall them long enough for any of the others to approach safer. Luckily, taking out the eyes cut off their respective lasers just as he hoped. Once he climbed back up to melee range he was back to hacking away at the creature’s repulsive flesh, occasionally sending out mocking red hands to deal further damage.

…He really needed to sort his inventory later, ‘cause juggling weapons like this was getting freaking tiring.

While angry, Sectonia did have enough wits about her to dodge attacks from It Lives, not wanting to get hit by the fetus monster. This still was a tall order, as while she could blink around, her large size meant she would still get hit on occasion. Using her other shield ability, she spawned her shields from the Pipe of Insight, which gave everyone some shields that let them take a laser attack or two before it disappeared. Still, Sectonia would be getting hit by more than just a few.

It was at this point that Therion actually moved toward the demonic infant rather than avoiding it. The end of the rapids of blood was nowhere in sight, and if this battle between giants lasted for much longer not even the fleet footed thief would be able to stay completely out of harm's way. Since he couldn't escape the situation like his instincts wanted him to, he figured he'd try and help bring the fight to a close as soon as possible, trading places with a more winded ally.

He transformed, the quick and lithe beast form weaving through the thin lasers and sprinting up the kraken's body. When he reached It Lives, his claws tore into it for only a brief amount of time before he turned back to his human form in a wink of light. Most of the other Seekers he knew had more raw damage potential than he did, so instead of wasting his time hacking away the thief leaned into his class specialty of debuffing. Shackle Foe and Armor Corrosive decreased the demon's attack and defense respectively, no matter how large it was. Not planning to overstay his welcome, Therion backed off with only a few quick swipes of his sword, backtracking to the precarious raft.

“All right, here!” Jesse moved to the part of the raft foremost towards It Lives. After taking another shot with Pierce to get more damage in, her sigil activated and pieces of the tunnel around them began to circle her to absorb nearby projectiles. And she raised both hands and constructed a paranatural Shield of energy to further block enemy attacks. She floated a little above the raft and slowly made adjustments on her position to catch attacks with her Shield. The intent here was to give her allies a breather. Literally they wouldn’t have to run around so much, and strategically speaking they could prepare their own countermeasures.

With Jesse and Sectonia providing protection, which at this juncture the ailing Ganondorf needed in particular, the stab-happy Seekers hurried to take advantage of Kraken’s grappling before this window closed. Omori, Therion, and the Knight all got in a handful of blows, taking a manageable amount of laser fire in return. This opportunity wasn’t going to last forever, though, and It Lives quickly poured on the retribution. Bloody tears eked out of its skin to inundate anyone still attacking at melee range, quickly shattering the Pipe of Insight shields and becoming far too much to bear. A mere moment later, brilliant beams of holy light heralded the end of Kraken’s time in the limelight as well. Sapientia’s lasers, fired as the angel cruised down the raging river after the raft like a wild gator, blasted into Kraken’s body with a vengeance. They burned through two more of its tentacles, weakening the demon enough that it relinquished its hold and plunged into the blood.

The angel wasn’t the only one rushing through the rapids. “Heeeey!” The familiar figure of Nadia Fortune could be seen as she clung to Sapientia’s shoulder, skating along the frothing viscera’s surface with the power she’d gained from the shipgirl Massachusetts. After falling way behind she’d hitched a ride to return to the action that much faster, and also because she felt pretty bad. “I’m straight-up not havin’ a good time!” she yelled at the others, not really expecting them to hear.

Sapientia’s head snapped back into place, and with something between a laugh and a roar it dove beneath the surface. Nadia was forced to let go and surf along under her own power lest she be dragged down along with it, and by stooping forward like a skier she managed to pick up speed. A tense moment later Sapientia erupted again, lunging toward It Lives before it could lift itself fully back to its original height. It reached up and snagged the feculent fetus out of the air, its strength and weight combined enough to yank It Lives down on the tubes that suspended it. Like a seraphic basketball player Sapientia dunked It Lives straight down onto the raft, and though bloody tears and eye lasers issued in vast quantities from its body, the Seekers’ enemy was within arm’s reach at last.

Zooming in across the blood, Nadia pulled out her Bait Launcher and prepared to make up for lost time. She lobbed steak after steak at the big baby, her bad aim a non-factor since the meat didn’t need to actually hit her target for the tigers to appear. Sure enough, a series of ferocious felines appeared one after another, eagerly mauling It Lives with their massive claws.

Jesse floated above her allies and then Evaded directly into It Live’s face, grinding the Shield against it with a bash. For a few moments she absorbed many of the eye lasers and tears, clearing a large portion of the raft of danger.

As Jesse felt the Shield’s strength weaken she shotgun blasted all of the debris forward into its face at high speed. Then she Evaded to the side and began using Shatter to pump damage into It Lives, hopefully to help make its unspoken name factually wrong once and for all.

Omori’s patience was running thin, but at least now he didn’t have to climb his way up to It Lives this time! Seeing Nadia use some weird steak-firing gun to sic tigers on it, he quickly pulled out his Boxing Glove gun to follow up. It looked unorthodox, but better now than never to try it out right? He aimed for the abomination’s head and fired at will. The Knight joined him, venting all its leftover Soul to unleash a barrage of Vengeful Spirits. Sectonia also fired what dark globule she could, but she was getting tired from all this fighting and injuries, being unable to tough out her injuries any further and showing signs of being wounded.

The dogpile came to an abrupt end as Sapientia suddenly timed out, disappearing with a flash of prismatic light. It Lives was free, but by now, the once-terrifying abomination was in a sorry state. It had been carved up and perforated, leaving gaping gashes and giant holes in its body, and several of the cords it hung from had been severed. It could barely dribble out bloody tears now, and yet still it ascended, like a limp marionette pulled on from above. But Kraken wasn’t about to let it get away. It split its head into four jaws and came up below the raft, clamping down on each of the diamond-shaped platforms four sides. Then it rose from the water, quickly lifting up the raft to level with It Lives. Having failed to board it in time, Nadia could only watch from below in awe as her whole time rose into the air. After a brief moment Kraken smashed the raft’s back end into the nightmare’s battered body. Not only did this just about cut It Lives in half, but it also launched all the heroes atop the raft straight towards It Lives’ head for one final all-out attack.

At this point, the King of Evil didn’t even have any idea how he managed to find himself back on top of It Lives - in spite of having to abandon the position a little while ago. Maybe it was the Triforce, maybe it was divine intervention, or maybe Ganondorf himself was just that lucky? He didn’t know, and frankly he didn’t care. This thing needed to die, and it needed to die, like, yesterday. And that was when he took note of the cords it was hanging from, and got an idea. Through gritted teeth and aching muscles, Ganondorf climbed his way closer to the thing’s head and began hacking at the cords with all his might. It took some doing, but sooner or later the creature would end up plummeting down into the lake of blood it had summoned itself.

”Go! To! HELL!!!” Ganondorf roared as he inevitably plummeted downward with It Lives. He used the last remaining bit of energy he could spare to charge one last Warlock Punch that he would bring crashing down into the creature thanks to the momentum from the fall. No tricks or complicated maneuvers. Just a very angry Gerudo man putting all he could into one last punch and letting gravity give him the rest of the momentum for it. On impact, It Lives exploded like a rotten tomato, its chunks scattered far and wide. As Kraken began to disappear as well, the raft descended back to the blood’s surface, and a blood-streaked mask fragment dropped by the Seekers’ feet. Ganondorf’s unconscious form, meanwhile, could be spotted floating in the blood and would need to be recovered by someone else.

Sectonia, being unable to really capitalize on the platform flip like her allies due to needing to dodge out of the way of it and her allies, was instead relegated to catching duty on those she felt she could reliably catch. This meant Omori, Therion, and Jesse as they were much smaller than, and lighter than, Ganondorf and Nadia.

“Nyahah, woo!” Nadia laughed, now giddy as well as loopy from all the rip-roaring excitement. She sidled up to the raft and clipped it, clumsily tumbling aboard. When she rose her gaze was not, however, fixed on her fellow victorious Seekers. “Ya know, I’d be fe-lyin’ if I said that wasn’t badass, but uh, we might have a little…mm, purr-oblem…”

The giant tunnel had begun to even out, the current of its scarlet riverway slowing. Up ahead lay a slightly larger open space shaped like a giant drum, and at its bottom lay an enormous vortex, a whirlpool of blood lined with teeth. For a moment Nadia worried that the team would need to finish the exhausting, literally sickening boss battle with a carefully-timed jump or die, and naturally the thought of being eaten almost compromised her, but luck might be on the heroes’ side for once. The teeth in question were molars, and spaced closely enough together that they’d catch the raft as it floated toward the vortex. By the time it drifted in, its speed had decreased to the point where the impact didn’t even send anyone flying. “...Huh. Not so bad,” she breathed, still pretty nauseous.

It was the end of the road, but they were safe. Nobody was dead. And in the stomach lining on the opposite side of the vortex, accessible by anyone fit enough to use the teeth as stepping-stones, lay a chitinous doorway.

Sectonia was just as worried as Nadia, but it ended up being ‘thematic’ for this dungeon for whatever that was worth, with Sectonia putting her passengers down on the now stable raft. The queen herself was too tired to rage anymore. Aches all over her body, and while the spiciness of the pepper she had eaten had died down a bit, it still was unpleasant.

”This better be the way out…” Omori grumbled in exasperation, an angry, tired look on his face. Though he felt like crap, he took advantage of the moment of peace to check on Mewo. He slipped his backpack off and unzipped it enough for the black cat to pop her head through.


The boy huffed out a relieved sigh. She was alright. ”Everything’s going to be okay…” The Knight meanwhile, had approached the bloodied mask fragment and picked it up, inspecting it closely.

After that horrible experience, Therion had to agree with Omori. If the doorway they were looking at wasn't the final exit, he didn't know what he'd do. Or how any of them would even find the strength to keep fighting on. He and the rest of the Seekers were sore, tired, wounded at various levels, and absolutely covered in reeking blood. Compared to some, Therion had come out of the fight pretty well thanks to mostly staying out of it in the first place. He had noted that at least one among them had been rendered unconscious, and he'd thrown his grappling hook at Ganondorf's body so as to drag it along face up on the surface of the river while the raft moved. Maybe he wasn't a nice enough guy to actually fish the sure to be heavy water logged King of Evil out, but at least he hadn't left the man to drown. Now that the ride had come to a stop, Therion tapped Jesse on the shoulder and then hooked a thumb toward where Ganondorf floated so she could use her psychic power to lift him into the raft assuming that she could.

Jesse was picking some miscellaneous goo out of her hair and turned around. “Hmm? Oh.” She looked at Ganondorf. “Good idea, but…Launch is pretty violent. It’s why it’s called Launch and not Lift.” She cleared her throat and spit some blood onto the ground. Unfortunately, it wasn’t her blood.

“Maybe Sectonia could do it? What do you think, Queen Bee?” Jesse asked.

Regardless, Jesse approached Ganondorf and called upon the alchemist to deploy healing waters underneath the King of Evil to, at the very least, prevent his wounds from being too severe. Ideally it might even rouse him.

”I am not touching him.” Sectonia said. However looking at the King of Evil not rousing after being healed, she summoned some green antillions to carry him until he woke up. Something she could hold over his head perhaps. ”There,” She said.

Leaving the ladies to figure it out, Therion coughed, intent on taking a breather before any movement towards the path of teeth and the doorway. Idly he glanced at the kid's cat and the Knight's... wait. Was that what they'd come here for?

"All that for just a piece of a mask," he said, exasperated.

”We did need three masks after all...” Sectonia said, doing her best not to touch any of the disgusting scenery as she summoned an ice antlion for herself and the others and used one as a cold pack. She then glanced at the spirit of It Lives, and with a tone that exemplified what everyone was feeling, said. ’So… which one of you wants to see what that abomination can give, if anything… Either way, I am not carrying that There was also the matter of the other spirits of the mini bosses they had all fought, with everything before that left behind in Mom’s chamber. Pulling out the symbol of avarice she said. ”We can crush them later, but don’t forget to use this. Maybe there is some kind of power that can be salvaged, but I doubt it.” She then looked at the mask fragment the Knight had picked up and concluded. ... Or perhaps these spirits need to be dealt with in order to get more fragments… Either way, she was far too tired to do much other than pontificate.

“Ugh, who cares about the spirits?” Nadia had summoned her Rapturous Cultist striker for some restoration, but even after a top-off from its eldritch blessing she barely felt any better. Despite this place’s hideous humidity and warmth, she was shivering, and her ears drooped miserably. Almost everyone else had gotten sick as well, and if the symptoms hadn’t manifested yet, they would soon. “Can we purr-lease just get the fluff outta here?”

There was no argument from Sectonia, who summoned an additional antlion to collect the It Lives spirit so she didn’t have to touch them before flying over to the other side.

The Knight promptly set off hopping along the teeth that circumnavigated the great gullet’s perimeter, and Nadia followed after him one step at a time. Behind them, Therion took up the middle of the group. And having settled on carrying Mewo in his arms, Omori carefully followed behind the thief as well. All made for the door on the other side of the vortex. While it reminded the Feral of the Ruins with its dark blue shell-architecture, she also reasoned that no matter what lay on the other side, it had to be better than this.
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Basic Braining

Sector 5 Suoh - The Otherlobe
Peach, Raz’s @Truthhurts22, Roxas’ @Double, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey
Word Count: 6648 (+7)

Through the miracle of teleportation, the prospective recruits found themselves whisked away from the Musubi’s parking lot, all the way down Main Street, and into the headquarters of Midgar’s greatest military force in three blinks of an eye. They wound up in a red-tinted lobby that constituted the Otherlobe’s reception area, a two-dimension facsimile of the building’s iconic brain perched behind the front desk. “And here we are,” Luka announced cheerfully. “I’ve already gotten in touch with Morceau using Brain Talk, and he’s rolling out the welcome mat, so be sure to thank him later. A grader has been called in to oversee your crash course through Psych-OSF 101. A member of his platoon is coming by to watch as well.”

”Let’s hope that the welcome mat doesn’t involve minefields and missile strikes this time,” Raz commented as he surveyed the reddened Motherlobe lobby. It was still really weird how almost-normal things were. ”Oh, who am I kidding? Knowing Coach it’ll probably be a… missile field, or a mine strike. Or both.”

Peach didn’t know any Morceau, but she felt indebted all right. Was it really this easy? “If we’re thanking anybody we ought to thank you, Luka! We barely know you, but you’re so willing to help.”

Sakura nodded eagerly. ”Yeah! Thanks a million.”

“Oh, it’s nothing.” The young man rubbed his head, a little bashful. “I just think everyone with a dream ought to be given a fair chance. But remember, I only got you here. What happens next is up to you.” He gestured in the direction of the front desk. “Good luck.”

With that he disappeared in a blue flash, leaving the three to approach the receptionist. “So, you’re the volunteers. Welcome to the Otherlobe.” Her attention rested on Raz. “You must be the Former that Morceau mentioned. A member of the Psychonauts who wasn’t around for the union with OSF, that is. Makes sense, it’s not every day we get new trainees at such a late hour. As for you two…” she squinted at Peach and Sakura. “I don’t know what makes you so exceptional, but you’re vouched for, too. Just make sure you don’t reflect badly on those who putting their faith in you. Here.” The woman passed out some forms. “Fill these out. Nobody’s an exception to the rules, after all.”

At first glance the forms seemed pretty normal. Name, age, birthdate, place of origin, et cetera. When she came to the box labeled ‘Power’ Peach got stuck for a moment. It sounded like it expected only one, which probably referred to whatever power she’d gotten from the soldier she’d fused with. Unfortunately, the princess didn’t know the name for it, or even the totality of her new abilities. She’d barely even tried it out. “Uh…” she muttered, wracking her brain. After a moment she just wrote equipment, then pushed on. The rest of the pages seemed to be some sort of in-depth personality test, but the questions involved all sorts of vague, context-devoid hypotheticals with inflexible answers. Though Peach couldn’t call herself an expert, it felt pretty unscientific and arbitrary, but she dutifully filled them out nonetheless.

Sakura caught herself leaning over to see what Raz was writing down. ”What the heck are these questions?” She muttered as she filled out the many hypotheticals. For her power, she wrote ‘fireballs, strong, karate, and telekinesis’ cramming it all into the little box.

”Beats me.” Raz, for his form, opted to put down ‘Psi-Blast’ for the Power section. It was the one he first learned when he started his journey to become a Psychonaut. It felt right. ”This form wasn’t part of the Psychonauts. I guess… since the OSF is pretty team-based, the personality stuff is to pair up similar recruits?”

After a few minutes, the grader arrived. Crenshaw appeared from one of the lobby elevators. Though he wore a glum expression, perhaps as a result of being pulled away from evening plans, he carried himself with a professional and serious air. With him came a familiar face to Raz, hardly a surprise if he put two and two together: Lili. Rather than greet him in her typical manner, though, she stared at him with a mix of fear and uncertainty almost like despair in her Galeem-free eyes, as if desperate for his help. He smiled at her, restrained and concerned, trying to give off vibes of understanding. He was only now realizing how scary of a situation Lili was in, and he was the one to thrust her into it with no help. He can make up for lost time… hopefully.

“Finished with your forms?” Crenshaw asked. The receptionist put them into a machine, and the information within got pulled into Psynet, then into the mind of Crenshaw himself. “Cadet Aquato, Cadet Kasugano, and Cadet…Toadstool. Hm…my sympathies. Follow me.”

Thankfully, the image painted in Raz’ mind by the phrase ‘Fresh Meat Circus’ did not represent the actual training grounds. It did take the form of a big, cylindrical room with a domed top, but it was a rather brutalistic affair of concrete and metal full of pipes, shafts, and cables, all gray and black. Though a big room, considering the scale of Psych-OSF, Peach couldn’t help but wonder if this was it. Arranged in a big circle around the open area in the center were a variety of instruments that the princess assumed would be the trio’s tests.

“...So before any full psychiatric evaluations take place, we’re going to get an idea of what you can do,” Crenshaw was saying. “Normally this would allow us to determine how many weeks, months, or years of training are needed to bring you up to par, but after seeing your referrals I’ve sort of got my hopes up. If your results exceed expectations, you’ll be set. This’ll also let us know if you’re candidates for any additional programs like BIAS. Keep in mind that you can use whatever powers you’ve got for these tests. Ingenuity is almost as important as raw power. Over here.”

The first test appeared to be a standard high striker, the sort one might find at a carnival. A big. well-worn red button sat beneath a tall vertical scale made to look like a spinal cord, and a few dozen feet up a big brain sat at the very top. “A simple test of strength,” Crenshaw stated, levitating a clipboard. “Hit it as hard as you’ve got, with whatever you’ve got.”

Sakura grimaced good-naturedly at the grotesque theming of the carnival button. She couldn’t help but be excited by this first test. She felt like she was gonna do pretty good on it. ”I guess I’ll go first.” She said confidently, zipping up her jacket and making sure her headband was on nice and tight. Approaching the button, she observed it carefully. The angle wasn’t so good for some of her stronger attacks. With a carefree shrug, she bounced on her feet for a few moments before stepping in. One leg crossed behind the other and then her front leg shot out with honed technique. Sakura straight kicked the button as hard as she could. ”Sore!” Her foot snapped back to the ground and she eagerly watched the scale.

The spark-shaped marker puck shot up the spinal column like a rocket, lighting up fans of blue and red nerves like Christmas lights as it climbed, though like all such carnival games it was a lot heavier than it looked. It fell short of the brain at the top, but it still left a dazzling display for the brief moment before the puck began to fall. Still, her efforts managed to get a raised eyebrow from Crenshaw, and given his solemn air that must be saying something. “Impressive physical strength,” he murmured, marking the second sheet on his clipboard. “Few Scarlet Guardians fight hand-to-hand. Some see it as old-fashioned, but if it ain’t broke…” Sakura could fill in the rest.

Letting Sakura and Peach show their stuff first, Raz sidestepped over to Lili while Crenshaw was occupied with the tests. ”Hey, Lili?” He put a hand on her shoulder. ”I wanted to say sorry about earlier. I sorta, kinda, left you to deal with this huge thing on your own. How are you, uh, holding up..?”

His friend had been waiting for him to ask. “Not great,” she admitted, her voice just a little tremulous. “I’ve been thinking about…well, everything. It’s all a lie, everything, but I believed it.” Lili clenched her teeth, staring at the floor. “The power it takes to do something like that…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. But you know what else?” Her brows furrowed as she glanced at Raz. “It makes me mad. I can’t just take it lying down. We can’t. There’s got to be something, something we can do…”

”There is!” Raz kept his voice down so he didn’t alert Crenshaw, though since he was a psychic he might already be aware. Whatever. ”That’s what I’ve been up to before I got here. Me, and Peach and Sakura, we’re all part of a group that’s trying to free everyone and stop whatever is doing it. You should come with!”

That left Lili blinking in confusion. “If that’s the case, why are you here…?” she whispered.

With Raz distracted by Lili, Peach stepped up next. Sakura’s mighty blow would be a tough act to follow, and the princess knew she didn’t possess that kind of strength. From the beginning, however, she’d kept in mind what the grader said about powers. So when she stepped up to bat, Peach thought for a moment, then reached into her hammerspace arsenal. Unbeknownst to her, this existing power synergized with her new one, and to her slight surprise her Scatterboom manifested in crystalline form. Hefting the heavier-than-usual gun, she glanced at Crenshaw to see if he’d disallow its use, but he just watched in silence, totally impassive. Without further ado Peach sauntered on up, pressed her Scatterboom’s barrel to the button, and pulled the trigger. The ensuing explosion echoed through the chamber, and a great plume of gunfire gave way to enough smoke to hide the base of the high striker completely. From the haze the puck suddenly appeared, shooting up among the bright nerves to roughly the same height that Sakura’s kick propelled it to. Maybe even higher! Not like she’d get to deliver a point-blank shot as often as a strong kick, but still, it assuaged Peach’s doubts somewhat. Sakura forced out a clap for Peach’s benefit, but she found herself a little annoyed.

“Hm.” Crenshaw blinked at her. “Your form said your power was ‘Equipment’, but it looks more like Materialization. Maybe even Genesis, if you’re able to make working weapons. Not bad.”

Finally, Raz was up to bat. He shot Lili a quick, ”I’ll tell you later,” before taking his spot back with the rest. He took a moment to consider the bell, eyes trailing from the button allllll the way up to the brain bell. ”I think I remember when Mom and Dad got one of these for our performances. Not exactly this but the whole ‘hammer-and-bell’ thing. And if I remember right, it’s less about power and more…” Raz smirked. ”Sakura! Gimme a big boost!” Utilizing the superior raw strength of his teammate, Raz rocketed into the air, the peak of his launch reaching just slightly higher than the bell. Once the arc turned into a fall, he materialized his Levball and immediately slammed down, dropping even faster than he rose. Like a miniature meteor Raz and his Levball smashed into the button at full speed!

And then springboarded sideways, facefirst into a solid concrete pillar, having hit the button at a wonky angle. ”Gyaaa–hrkmphh!!” Sakura winced, covering her face and peeking from behind her fingers.

Crenshaw kept his eyes on Raz just long enough to make sure that the boy was okay, then glanced at the puck on the high striker as it neared its zenith. Unfortunately, despite borrowing an ally’s strength and hurting himself in the process, Raz didn’t get anywhere near as high a score as the others. Light weight propelled mostly by gravity just didn’t measure up to honed muscle or high-power ballistics. “This isn’t a test where you’re supposed to get perfect marks, so don’t worry too much if you score lowly in one area or another” the grader mentioned. “What’s important is giving an accurate reading of your abilities. Your own abilities, to be specific.” He shot an weary look not just at Raz but at Sakura for helping him. The street fighter laughed apologetically and shrugged.

With the first test done, Crenshaw rotated the team to the second. Visualizing the room’s floorplan as a giant clock, Peach supposed they’d moved from one o’ clock to two, going clockwise. This time she didn’t see any machinery; instead, striped tape marked out a large, roughly square area on the floor. A random assortment of objects of all shapes and sizes, though mostly large, were stacked there. There were crates, chests, luggage, compressed scrap cubes, barricades, and more, including the chassis of a car. “Okay, listen up, because this one’s more complicated.” Crenshaw pointed directly across the room to the far side. “Over there’s a deposit zone just like this one, but empty. Each of you is going to have two minutes. Move as much stuff from here to there as you can. By yourself. When the time is up, you’ll get points for everything inside the zone. Understood?” He made sure to get everyone’s approval, then nodded. “Then go.”

Sakura glanced between Peach and Raz as she took a few steps forward. ”Guess I’ll go first again!” She ran over to the assorted boxes and crates and tried to think of something smart. She picked up a big crate and lifted it over her head, and then stared at another big crate until it followed her in the air. Then she jogged across the way and threw them both, one with her strength and the other with her mind, until they landed in the zone.

Sprinting back to the first square, she picked up the lighter things she could find and just chucked them to the other zone with decent enough accuracy, though a few landed short because she didn’t want to throw them too far.

Eventually though, her eyes landed on the car chassis. ”Hmm…” She ended up stuffing about four cubes in there. Big enough so that they got in each other’s way and kept each other within the chassis. She even stuffed some luggage between her teeth. Then, with a combination of elbow grease and telekinesis, she pushed the chassis and cargo across the field. It was kind of like her telekinesis put wheels on the chassis, though it still scraped against the ground a few times and Sakura had to put her back into it.

She felt the timer ticking down and ran out to the crates that had fallen short of their throw arcs earlier. She dove for it, twisted her upper body, and slapped it until it rolled into the zone. She stood up and put her hands into the air, panting happily. ”How was that! Was that good?”

As the challenge got underway Crenshaw had made his way over to the opposite side to tally up points, though he soon ended up giving the scoring zone a wide berth to make one hundred percent sure that anything flung there didn't accidentally get flung into his his cranium instead. "Good enough," he replied evenly, awarding her another round of appreciably high marks. "In the field we'd probably want to treat our cargo a little more…hm, carefully." He then climbed onto the stack. "Of course, everyone has their own way…"

Crenshaw began to concentrate. A field of orange psychic energy suddenly began to coalesce around the scoring zone. It grew brighter and noisier, causing the very air to vibrate alarmingly, until after a moment both agent and assortment suddenly warped all the way back to the start. As the light of his Transport power died down, Crenshaw calmly stepped down to usher Raz forward. "...Of doing things."

”Wow, that was cool! Raz couldn’t contain his awe at Crenshaw’s psychic demonstration. ”Is that a move I could learn here?”

The agent shook his head. “That’s my power. My new power, anyway. Every former Psychonaut has some weak powers left over from those days, but nowadays we all have something special, too.”

”...Haha, right…” Raz stepped up to the garbage zone, having already made a game plan. He didn’t have raw strength, that much was already proven, so he’d have to tackle it a different way this time.

As quick as the timer started Raz rushed to get things ready, telekinesis working in tandem with his natural dexterity to pile up three tall stacks of the medium-to-smallest pieces of junk he could, the right level of height and weight for him to be able to balance them. And the young psychic did just that! A four-way balancing act - himself on his Levitation ball, a stack of junk on both of his outstretched palms, and the third held in front of him using TK. All his circus days went into this little trick, matching speed with caution to carry the stacks over.

When he reached the second zone Raz quickly deposited everything down, taking only the briefest of moments to rub his hands, before turning back to the first zone. With not much time left, he decided to try his hand at pulling some other mid-sized pieces to him with Mental Connection until the clock ran out.

”How’d I do?!” Raz asked Crenshaw just a touch frantically once the test was over.

The grader nodded. “Not bad.” Lips pursed, he ran a hand through his hair. “Just so you guys know, I’m going to run out of ways to say ‘you did okay’ eventually. I’m not here for moral support, you know.”

As the others took the load-bearing test, Peach looked on with a consternated expression, trying to come up with a plan. No matter which way she looked at this problem, no good answer presented itself. She doubted she could carry or even lift the heavier objects, with her abilities or otherwise. It just wasn't a task she was well-suited for, but she couldn't put it off forever. When her turn arrived she did the best she could, but at the end of two minutes Peach had struggled a lot more to move a lot less than her peers. She could only wipe the sweat from her brow in silent frustration as Crenshaw graded her lackluster results, then followed him to test number three.

The three o' clock test turned out to be a trapeze-like arrangement of three climbing walls in a half-hexagon centered around a lone flagpole. The center panel appeared to be a standard climbing net of sturdy rope, while the left took the form of a zig-zag of bouncy tightropes, and the right featured two opposing walls about two feet wide that went all the way up. At the very top of the flagpole hung a detachable flag. Now this was a circus element Raz would be glad to see, but surprisingly he wasn't the only one.

"Oh, sweet!" Peach announced with a relieved smile. "Now here's something I can do!"

Crenshaw pointed his pencil up at the flag. "As you probably guessed, you need to get the flag down and attach it to the hook at the bottom. Speed is of the essence. You up first?" Peach nodded. "Then let's get started."

When given the signal Peach leaped into the air, putting her excellent jumping skill to work. She double jumped at the apex, then materialized her parasol with a skyward thrust to zip higher still. Once it unfurled the princess floated over to the net wall and grabbed on, getting a foothold to reset her jumps before going again. By repeating the process she reached the flag in mere moments, seized it, then dropped to the ground. She used her umbrella one last time to break her fall, then attached the flag to complete the task. "There!"

Sakura applauded loudly this time. ”Woo!”

Crenshaw nodded again. "Pretty mobile. Go ahead and fly the flag for the next person."

Raz pulled his helmet snug on his head and tugged his gloves in preparation for the climb. ”Here I go!” Raz kicked off with a vault into Levitation, peeling out towards the tightrope section. He pushed the Levball down as he skid under the tightropes, using it to spring straight up into the air! Using the momentum, Raz grabbed hold of the next tightrope and followed up by slingshotting himself further up, and again, and again, until he clung onto one of the top ropes.

A rock back, forth, back, and Raz swung through the air to the flagpole. In the same motion to snatch the flag he grabbed hold of the pole, sliding all the way back down to the bottom. ”Time!” He shouted as soon as he clipped the flag on the hook.

”Alright!” Sakura cheered. ”I thought these tests would be more, I dunno, psychic-y. But this is a lot of fun!” She said. Now she knew she really had to impress Crenshaw, so she once again dedicated herself to trying as hard as she can.

She dropped down into a runner’s starting position, then shot toward the two opposing walls. She was eager to try out a skill she hadn’t had a chance to demonstrate much of yet- the Launcher Jump! Sakura skid to a stop, bent down for a solid second, her body coiling and tense. With an audible burst of wind she shot upward twenty feet in a single bound, then used telekinesis to carry her into one of the opposing walls. Then she kicked off to the other wall. At that point she realized she wasn’t Chun-Li and lost her footing. ”Shimatta!” She fell back down to the bottom, landing on her feet with a thud and roll.

”Crap! I thought I could pull that off!” She said with a laugh before sprinting directly to the flagpole. She did another Launcher Jump and then clung onto the flagpole. After that she shimmied up the pole, working her core muscles. Once she was in decent enough range she reached out and used telekinesis to pluck the flag from its place at the top, bringing it back down into her hand. Then she dropped and free fell back to the ground, landing with another burst of air.

”Was that good?” Then she remembered what Crenshaw said earlier. ”Err, I mean…I don’t care if it was good? Or, I guess, just-” She stopped talking and hooked the flag back onto the pole and used the pulley to get it back up to the top.

Crenshaw didn’t respond; the girl probably didn’t want to know that she’d been the slowest of the three by a decent margin. Instead he focused on marking down the cadets’ scores on their forms as he led the way to the next test. Peach noticed the curious contraption that awaited the trio at the four o’ clock position as she approached, trying to figure out what it was on her own before the grader went ahead and explained. Like the agility test before it this one also featured a half-hex, albeit smaller, and these walls featured only ordinary chain-link fencing stretched between the spires without any extra variation. Nested inside with its back to the barriers was a strange mannequin. It sported a humanoid torso but the trunk of a serpent, its tail coiled beneath it for support, and a large helmet with eight glowing eyes lay on its shoulders.

“In our line of work, it’s necessary to make the absolute most of any and every opportunity,” Crenshaw told the three recruits. “Our enemy is merciless. So we must be, as well. This is a Combat Adjudicator.” He patted the naga-like mannequin on the side of its head. “You’ll have thirty seconds. Hit it with the best, longest combo you’ve got. It’ll give you a Style rating based on your combo length, move variety, and damage. Starts at D, goes to C, B, A, S, double S, and finally the elusive triple S. You’re graded based on how long you keep up your highest rating. Break a leg.” He backed away from the fancy training dummy so that the evaluation could begin. With its back to those walls acting as a corner, and the dummy itself able to be launched into the air, the circumstances were as good as they’d get for long, flashy combos.

Sakura laced her fingers together and stretched out her arms while shifting all of her weight onto one foot, bending until her knee was right up against her. At this point, she was looking positively sly. ”A combo trial? This is almost too good to be true.” She approaches the Combat Adjudicator. This was practically what she was built for. If she couldn’t do this, then why was she even on the team? Then she backed up a few steps, bounced from foot to foot, and opened up with a jump in!

She slammed her foot on top of its chest and dropped into a piercing elbow, before spinning in with her hands interlocked. She continued her spin into a ”Shunpu!”, swinging her leg out like a hammer while hopping forward. When it seemed like it could hypothetically recover, she jabbed it and went back in with another lightning fast spin kick, and right when it seemed out of range she exploded forward like a saw blade, kicking it thrice and launching it into the air. She leapt to follow it. ”One, two..!” She brought her fists down upon it twice, popping them higher into the air. But on the second hit she dropped down faster to meet the dummy before it landed. She braced, before doing her signature Chin Buster Kick. Crossing one arm across and lifting the other, she kicked so straight up her foot nearly crossed over her shoulder. This was a Launcher, the dummy going even higher than before, as high as she had jumped previously. Sakura followed after it and met it in the air. For a short while they were suspended as she unleashed a series of quick strikes. With another spin kick she flung it into the wall. ”Hadoken!” Mid air she unleashed a fireball, exploding it against the wall.

Then she spent another EX-Meter to pursue her target. ”Hooah!” She shot forward, cherry blossoms trailing behind her as she flashed with power. She sliced into it thrice, before grabbing it. She leaned backwards and kicked it up into the air and launched herself downwards.

She landed with a roll and shook out her wrist. There was a brief pause, as it fell down… ”Shouoken!” She shot up to met it, stopping all of its momentum with a high caliber punch and crashing it away as her upper body twisted mid air. Then she landed, pumped her fists, and crossed her arms. This time, supremely confident, she silently did a victory cartwheel.

Crenshaw nodded, his lips pursued again and his brows raised in the universal not bad at all expression. As the Combat Adjudicator recovered, the floor opened up for the next participant, and since Raz seemed to be considering his options Peach tentatively stepped forward. That wasn’t to say she had a great plan in mind, though. Once again she’d have to follow up a very strong performance from Sakura, although reasonably speaking if she went first the better-trained fighter would only show her up afterward, anyway. As she moved in Peach tried to focus; the moment she landed the first blow, the timer would begin, but she didn’t want to stall so long that her inexperience became obvious. The princess took a deep breath, then began.

She delivered two slaps in quick succession, then struck out with a low kick that swept the Adjudicator’s snake tail out from under it. Her backward-leaning can-can kick came out next as launcher, but with her target on the ground she couldn’t connect cleanly, and instead rolled the dummy backward into the fence. The combo was over, and for a brief moment Peach froze. “Damn!” she hissed before cupping a hand over her mouth, surprised at her own vehemence after returning more or less to her sweet self. Twenty-five seconds to go, she reminded herself. Too hastily she tried again, dashing forward with a sparkling shove to bounce the dummy against the back wall before materializing a golf club to hit it with. On the second wall-splat the Adjudicator crumpled, ending the combo again.

“Double damn!” Peach grit her teeth. Time was short. She needed to pull off something now. She took a deep breath in through her nose, then exhaled through her mouth. Just fifteen seconds left. Time to go.

Two slaps combo’d into a sweep, same as before. But this time Peach carried her momentum into a clockwise spin on her left leg, whirling around to strike multiple times. The last hit popped the dummy up, allowing her can-can kick to launch it properly. She hopped into the air after it and struck with a high-speed, low-lag, multi-hit spin, carrying it back down with her to follow up with an immediate ribbon twirl, a materialized heart exploding above her upheld arm, and the dummy flew up once again. This time Peach leaped up to bump the dummy higher with an overhead rainbow, canceled into the same parasol-jump she used during the last test. Rather than float slowly down, she closed the umbrella to fall faster, and as the dummy began to descend she dropped a Grenaduck at the base of the wall. By the time the Adjudicator reached her, she’d materialized her Scatterboom to blast it against the fence, causing a heft wallbounce perfect for a seldom-seen special move of hers.

“Ha-CHA!” She threw herself bottom-first into her target, causing an explosion of hearts that smacked it into the fence. Once again it crumpled, but this time the Grenaduck caught it and kept the combo going. Peach whipped out her rocket launcher to launch the dummy once more for a skyward rocket shot, but right after she struck with the weapon Crenshaw’s timer buzzed, ending the trial just before the finale. With a sigh the princess let the Adjudicator fall, then backed away to let Raz strut his stuff.

What ‘stuff’ there was to ‘strut’ would remain to be seen. Raz’s close-quarters options were more on the hit and run side of things. Extended one-on-one brawls weren’t in his wheelhouse. Still, he didn’t want to just pass on the test. He stepped up to the dummy, scratching his head. ”Here goes nothing, I guess.”

Raz opened with Mental Connection, zipping him to the target and delivering a speedy psychic jab. Following up with a right- and left-hook, then a flurry of palm strikes. Raz prepared to continue, but hesitated just long enough for his “combo” to break. ”Drat, what’s the timing on this thing?” He stepped back to have at it again, putting his opener out quicker and sure to lead the flurry into a quick yank upwards with TK. In the air, Raz peppered the mannequin with a trio of Psi-Blasts, MC’d up to meet it midair, gave it another point blank burst of blasts, then sent it back to the ground with a solid slam!

It didn’t feel all that flashy for Raz, but all the same he walked away from it with a smile. ”Dunno if that was any good but it was fun!”

Next up was the fifth test. So far the cadets had been flying through these challenges, but this one looked a little different. The strange apparatus looked like a dome covered in doodads and cables, with dozens of camera-sized machines arrayed in a hollow hemisphere that all pointed toward its center, where a red pressure plate laid. “The endurance test,” Crenshaw explained. “Once you step on, random turrets will start firing, increasing in intensity over time. They’re about as strong as psi-blasts. Hold out as long as you can. If it gets to be too much, just step off the plate and the test will be over.” He shrugged. “Or, if you’re really durable, I’ll cut it off after ten minutes. Very few people ever make it that far though, so don’t try and be a hero. And please, don’t do anything that might destroy the turrets. They’re sensitive. Who’s first?”

Sakura blinked, a little disbelieving. ”Endurance test..? Is this just an excuse to watch us get beat up?” She asked.

”I’ll take first go at this one!” Raz walked up to the plate. While, again, he didn’t have a ton of hope in pure defense, seeing as he flipped and rolled and ran from the hurt, he felt confident up against a rain of Psi-Blasts. He should be able to just, sorta, diffuse the energy when it hits him. He’s seen Sasha and Milla do it before.

How hard could it be?

Raz stepped on, and the test began. The first few volleys of Psi-blasts weren’t too tough, Raz’s mental fortitude allowing him to essentially ‘absorb’ these weaker bursts, but when the intensity started to ramp up his plan fumbled. They hit harder, and didn’t burst as easily as they had up to now. Before long Raz was out of the energy to keep it up, and so he stumbled off the pad, rubbing the sore spots along his arms and back.

”Welp,” he muttered as he moved back to the group, ”something to improve on at least.”

“That wasn’t bad!” Peach encouraged him. “You did your best!” She passed him and headed into the thunderdome. This time she moved with purpose because she actually did have a plan in mind, at long last. Before stepping on the button she materialized her parasol, which she popped open and daintily places on her shoulder. Then the test began. Tense with anticipation, Peach kept her eyes sharp, and as the first few psi-blasts came in she hurriedly span around to intercept them with the canopy of her umbrella as if it were a lightweight shield. The crystalline surface, courtesy of her new power, helped absorb the damage better than mere cloth would. Quickly Peach noticed that the turrets began to hum and glow a split second before they fired, which gave her more time to defend herself. Again and again she swerved to block the blasts, and slowly they began to ramp up in speed. With the increased rate of fire more slipped through the gaps, the accumulated damage eventually taking out her parasol, but with plenty of psychic energy left she simply made two more to keep herself covered.

A minute passed by in this fashion, then two. As Peach neared three minutes the stream of psi-blasts became a torrent, pouring in from all directions; she couldn’t hope to keep up with them all. Taking a number of hits, she ditched what remained of parasols and skipped straight to the point. A cylindrical tower of bricks manifested around her, with a fresh umbrella on top to protect herself from the turrets directly above her. When the psi-blasts wore down and blew apart the bricks, Peach dutifully replaced them. This strategy lasted her to six minutes, at which point the torrent of shots became a flood, a powerful and very noisy lightshow. It wasn’t long before the psi-blasts were demolishing her bunker faster than she could repair, and finally her well of psychic energy ran dry. A few more moments passed as she hunkered down on the pad, covering her head with her arms as the blasts hammered her limbs and back, but ultimately the princess fell off the pad, beaten up and unable to continue.

Breathing heavily, she stumbled out of the dome with the others’ help, Crenshaw reported her time. “Seven minutes, eight seconds,” he told her. “That’s something to be proud of.” He motioned toward a nearby apparatus that looked like a gumball machine, filled with little bottles of orange jelly. “Make sure you all grab some of those, by the way. Fix you right up.”

”Welp. Guess it’s my turn to get beat up. Won’t be the first time, won’t be the last!’ She said cheerfully. Her strategy wasn’t much of a strategy. She couldn’t create any forcefields. Really as soon as they started coming in from all directions at the same time, her goose was cooked. And Sakura’s prediction came true. Easily she made it to the three minute mark, simply turning and blocking the psi-blasts whenever she noticed the turrets hum. When they started coming in from all directions, well, Sakura started getting hit. She used V-Shift a few times to buy herself a few more seconds, dodging every single bullet with ease for mere moments before she was dropped back down into the real world.

Eventually she ended up in a ball on the ground like Peach, only she did actually manage to go for a while like that. Her defensive ki did manage to do some work as it was, technically, a form of blocking. ”Ow ow ow!” She also V-Shifted some more, rolling around before dropping back into a ball. ”This is embarrassing!” Sakura shouted with a laugh. No wonder Karin didn’t want to sign up for this, she probably would have destroyed the turrets to prove a point.

Soon the torrent became too much for even to find a gap to begin v-shifting, though Sakura didn’t realize it at the time. For a brief moment her body was wracked with psi-bullets and she was blasted from the platform. She pushed herself to her feet, rubbing her arm. ”Ouch. Jelly, please!” She went to greedily consume the medicine like it was a candied treat.

“Five down, five to go,” Crenshaw remarked. Peach looked at him in disbelief, and after a moment he shrugged. “...Though I ought to say, with only half of them you’ve already got more points than a number of recruits do after going all the way. Keep it up and you might graduate tonight after all.” He beckoned to the trio and started to walk. “This way.”

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Sector 7
Goldlewis, Roxas’ @Double, Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Pit’s @Yankee
Word Count: 5475 (+6)

The hummer soon emerged from the tunnel’s confines onto an elevated highway near the Sector 7 hub, its surface littered by wrecks engulfed in flame. Much like Kunad Highway as seen by the Seekers earlier that day on their flight in to Midgar, where roads snaked around one another at a variety of elevations, a number of other paved bridges could be seen in every direction. This sprawling interchange was where traffic both into and out of Sector 7 got redirected through the proper tunnels to reach their destinations, but with the area in crisis, the whole stack of interconnected overpasses and underpasses looked like one big nightmare. Goldlewis had no choice but to slow down to maneuver around the wrecks as the team tried to push forward in pursuit of that determined officer. Plenty of Filthwings filled the skies, demanding everyone’s attention to avoid any lethally lucky shots.

Midna at least got a chance to get plenty of practice with her Charr Pirate Musket, its unlimited ammunition meaning she could just keep shooting over and over till she hit whatever was attacking them. Assuming someone else didn’t get it first. To do this, the princess leaned out the window, and holding her shadowhand in front of her like a shield, while pressing the barrel of the musket between middle and pointer finger, and aiming though the same. Whatever energy blasts didn't hit Midna's shield usually ended up being deflected by Pit's, as the Orbitars flitted back and forth blocking shots. The weapons' own shots were on the weaker side so he stuck to protecting the car, leaving all the airborne targets to the princess.

It wasn’t long before the heroes found their quarry. Up ahead, a bus lay with its totaled front end punched through the highway’s concrete barrier, a good third of it suspended over nothingness. More crashed cars crowded its backend, aflame and seemingly ready to explode at any moment. Just above the busted vehicle floated a strange anomaly–a jagged, deep red tear in reality, teeming with vivid crimson particles. “Aw, hell. It’s a goddamn gate!” Goldlewis spotted that policeman running toward the bus on foot, having seemingly lost his motorcycle somewhere along the way, and the veteran soon saw why. There were civilians trapped in the bus, and though they’d already squeezed their children out of the windows in the hopes that they’d flee to safety, the adults couldn’t get out. Their crying kids wanted to run to them, but their parents yelled at them to stay away, and a couple very short adults who’d managed to escape along with the children tried to keep them in line. Goldlewis put the hummer in park and threw open the door. “We’ve gotta help ‘em out, quickly, before…!”

As if on queue, the cries of panic from inside the bus turned to a hideous mixture of pain and terror. The people on board began to twist and spasm, suffused by red particles and in a chorus of haunting screams they transformed. Red crystals erupted from their bodies, their skin twisted into gray, stonelike flesh, and their appendages erupted into unnatural weapons. As the shrieking children cowered the new aberrations tore free from the bus. Without a word, the policeman extended his X-baton and engaged them in combat.

”Th-They’re all people?” Roxas stammered, suddenly getting a sick feeling in his stomach. All those aberrations and mutants that he and Karin had dispatched on the semi-truck. They had all been… people? Roxas was no stranger to the concept of people becoming monsters. He knew full well where creatures like Heartless and Nobodies all came from. But in those cases, the victims themselves would be restored after their Heartless and Nobodies were destroyed respectively. These things… they weren’t like that - at least as far as the Keyblade Wielder knew. Those people could very well be gone, with no way to save them.

The Keybearer lost his grip on his weapons - both of them slipping from his hands and falling to the ground before vanishing in a flash of white and black respectively. He was feeling weak at the knee and dropped to a kneeling position. Was it exhaustion? The overwhelming guilt of so many people being lost? Both? After a moment he managed to push himself back to his feet. His eyes narrowed and his expression hardened into one of determination and resolve. He couldn’t let this get to him. He had to do something. And helping that lone policeman was as good a place to start as any.

Roxas suddenly broke into a sprint toward the action. When he got close he leaped off of a wrecked car and used flowmotion to kick himself off of two airborne aberrations before finally landing on the ground near where the policeman stood - Keyblades drawn and ready to lend him a helping hand.

Karin gasped as she watched orphans be made in front of her eyes. ”How dare..?!” She dashed into battle, boiling with indignant fury.

Midna raced after him on wolfos back, the hound leaping from vehicle to vehicle as she shouted out the question she thought was key ”How do we stop that happening to the kids? Or us?”

Behind her, Goldlewis was running as fast as he could. “Stay away from the gate, and finish this quickly!” he roared.

Rather than go to face the monsters directly, Midna moved straight to the children urging them to go ”Back that way, quick” directing them towards the hummer, because it was better than nothing. They tottered, staggered, and tripped in that direction. Then she raised the shield she had equipped while riding over, and put herself between them and danger as she moved to escort them to somewhere, anywhere, that was safer than where they were right now.

Pit was on their heels, only slightly slower. Mid-run he'd traded the Orbitars for the bow, the weapon a comfort in his hands once more. He didn't shy away from facing down the humans turned monsters, though his expression had grown more grim than it had been previously. Seeing humans corrupted like that was awful, and a big reminder that life wasn't fair - else this kind of thing wouldn't happen to innocent people. But if they didn't deal with them as monstrosities now, they wouldn't be able to save the people that still could be saved.

Pit skidded to a halt beside Roxas and drew his bow, sending an arrow of light slamming into an aberration that had started towards Midna and the children. He glanced between the police officer they'd been chasing and Goldlewis, adding his own question to Midna's.

"And how do we close that thing?!"

The officer cartwheeled backward to dodged a flesh-shredding double claw slash from an aberration, then leaped forward. His flying kick struck the monster in the chest, and he landed with a diagonal baton strike. A second strike came right on its heels, followed by a revolving kick to the head with momentum that carried through into a sweep. The baton in his hand transformed in a wave of blue particles as he swung it overhead, becoming a giant blunt-edged gladius easily four feet in length. With it the officer cracked down on the aberrations head, dispatching it.

His eyes flashed toward the newcomers. Capable strangers were not so rare a sight in Midgar, and police or not, he needed the help. “My X-baton can destroy the gate,” he said. “Keep the aberrations off my back and I’ll get it shut. And if any of you start feeling sick, get out of here IMMEDIATELY, understand?”

”Got it!”


The Seekers had no other choice but to, and without hesitation put the plan in action. Goldlewis deployed a Thunderbird grenade to chase an aberration down and blow it up, then bore down a shield-bearing mutant with his coffin like a wrecking ball. With one mighty swing he broke its guard wide open. He stomped down hard enough to not just crush the aberration’s foot but crack the pavement beneath it, then knocked it down with a sweep of his own and brought his coffin down with a withering Behemoth Typhoon. Of course, the one he’d detonated with his Thunderbird jumped at him the next moment. In total, there were eleven remaining aberrations: two with bows atop the bus and blocking the gate, four with two sets of giant claws apiece, three with long, pointy lance-arms, one with a deformed shield plus club, and one with two giant fists. That last one had been a rather large man, made bigger still by his aberration, and he stood almost as tall as Goldlewis himself.

Midna herself focused on the children, despite her being rapidly demonstrating she was bad with kids. She was aided in this by her fellow small folk, the Lalafell trying to herd the kids away from danger as best they could.

”Come on, move, we need to get you away from the portal” she insisted as she grabbed and hauled a bawling child who Goldlewis had just orphaned away from the fight. The child, a boy of barely a half dozen years, struggled, trying to run to what was left of his mother. Then he was pulled close as the universe attempted an act of twisted mercy to reunite them, delivered at the tips of the mutant’s arrows, only for Midna to deny that fate with her shield … and her shoulder.

She cursed wordlessly as crimson fowled her black suit, only to in the next breath commanded ”Javelins, take down those archers!” as she went right back to child corralling despite her injury.

As she pulled back, her strikers stepped forwards to provide ranged support to the heroes. Four frozen Chilfos raised frozen spears and hurled them forth, then disappeared. In contrast the three amazonian initiates all darted for the cover of a burnt out car, using it as cover from which they periodically popped up to hurl psionic spears at the archers, or any other targets of opportunity, before going on cooldown. To their chagrin the shield-bearing aberration seemed to take its protection job seriously, and blocked a couple shots meant for the archers.

As for Roxas, he took it upon himself to watch the policeman’s back. His intended purpose was to make sure not a single mutant got past him in some attempt to get to the officer or the gate. And boy did they try. Many of the clawed ones attempted to attack Roxas or sneak past him. But thankfully, he was able to make good use of his Dual Counter technique to keep from being swarmed while also keeping them from getting by him.

Unfortunately, after that stunt on the semi-truck, Roxas had no MP to spare at the moment. It would be a little bit longer before he was recharged enough to start shooting spells again. But that didn’t mean he was completely out of ranged attack options. At one point Roxas threw both of his Keyblades in opposite circular motions. This resulted in them both circling around him two times each in opposite directions as a small A.O.E. against the mutants trying to get past him. Afterward it was a simple matter to re-summon the weapons back in his hands again.

Karin, ready to dish out some pain to the creatures that steal the bodies of the innocent, picked a fight with the biggest monster she could find. The giant aberration with two fists was her target, and she dashed forward. She jumped at the last moment, coming in at a steep angle to spin and kick the monster in the back of the head. The monster was already turning with a lariat, and swatted Karin up and away, shrugging off her kick with the momentum of the hit. She landed with a roll and silently chastised herself for losing her cool. Then she dashed back in. This time, she waited for the monster to strike first, and it obliged, crushing the ground she was just standing on as she sidestepped. She did a series of palm strikes, finishing off with an elbow to shove the monster down. Normally it would have fallen over, but it’s big hands let it stay up as it grabbed the ground and threw itself bodily at Karin. She blocked the impact and skidded backwards, trying to stop it.

Karin struck its face with a palm and it reeled, but on the second hit it steeled itself in her direction and went for a grab. She leapt out of the way- just short! It snagged her ankle and she lost her balance, falling onto the ground for a brief moment. It brought it’s fist down upon her midsection, and the heiress was crushed into the ground and bounced. ”Oof!” It went to do it again and she rolled out of the way, wiping her lip.

While Midna's strikers rained attacks on the farthest enemies and Roxas, Karin, and Goldlewis took on those closest, Pit moved to intercept some of the other aberrations as before they could cause any more problems. He opened with two arrows aimed at the shield wielder. As expected it raised the mutated limb up to block, but the streaks of light veered to either side of it and then crashed back together on each of its flanks. It grunted and turned to block a third arrow coming at it, leaving itself open for Pit to get up close. He spun the bow blade in his hands, slicing the aberration until he spotted movement in the corner of his vision.

"Whoa!" he exclaimed, jumping backward to avoid a sharpened appendage stabbing into him. Another of the lance-arm aberrations joined in, lunging both of its arms forward to skewer the angel. Pit deployed the Orbitar shield for a quick block, regaining his bearings to go back on the offensive.

The lancers split up and dodged sideways to circle around the angel, not unlike how he’d split his arrows to hit the shieldbearer a moment earlier, then attacked from both sides in quick succession with vicious thrusts. It was a test of both agility and tenacity to fend them both off at once. Blue and gold flashed around Pit furiously as he worked to block, parry, and deflect the rapid strikes. What did slip by were glancing blows, leaving thin cuts on his arms and side. The club-armed aberration that had been skulking nearby finally decided to try and repay Pit for the damage he'd inflicted on it, with a screech it lifted its arm up and brought it down heavily in an attempt to cave the angel's head in. Pit caught it with the bow, both of his hands on the handle to push up while the mutant pushed down. He was seemingly locked in a stalemate, which the lancers both rushed in to capitalize on. They came at him in a pincer attack again, but their target was not as trapped as he seemed. The bow split in the middle, letting the monster's club fall to the ground as Pit propelled himself backward with a mighty flap of his wings. He could feel the sting of a shallow cut on his cheek from one of the lancers getting too close, and let out a sigh of relief that it hadn't been worse. He clicked the two halves of the bow back together and spun it once in his hands, letting his determination carry him forward to engage the aberrations again.

Up on top of the bus, Roxas’ spin maneuver managed to disperse the two archers to give the officer room to work, but after getting clipped the aberrations backed off toward either end of the vehicle. The one at the front let loose a barrage of rapid-fire projectiles with decent spread, while the other charged an arrow. Roxas couldn’t effectively deal with both at once, but Goldlewis lent a hand. He’d bulled through the chaos behind the policeman and his escort as a sort of rearguard, bashing aberrations left and right, and now he jumped onto a car to bounce off the hood even higher in the air. A glyph-enabled airdash allowed him to close the distance to the sniper, which pivoted to shoot him, but with his coffin held in front of him like a shield Goldlewis tanked the hit. In reply five arms reached out to strike repeatedly in a pinwheel blow, and when Goldlewis landed on the bus a final punch sent the archer flying away. The other aberration, out on the precipice above a lethal drop, was Roxas’ to deal with.

“You two, get off the bus!” the policeman called. He had laid into the gate with his X-baton in Gladius mode, cleaving into the red tear with big, heavy swings. Where the two collided the red matter gave way, but each blow only chipped it, so it would take another minute to break down. “Red matter is pouring out of the gate, you have to minimize your exposure!”

”But-!” Roxas started to protest, but reluctantly agreed anyway.

Without a word Goldlewis obliged, jumping down from the bus to the asphalt of the highway. When he spotted Pit fighting one against three, he ran up to help even the odds. Though Pit couldn't spare him a glance while facing down the enemies, when he noted the man’s approach he asked with a slight grin, "You want a pointy one or - uh, the other one?"

“Whatever’s convenient!” Goldlewis lashed out into one of the lancers from behind with a superlative backfist, knocking it aside. It stumbled but kept itself from falling with its lance, using it to launch itself back into the fray. It went low and jabbed Goldlewis twice in the foot as he tried to wind up a Behemoth Typhoon, then followed up with a flurry of stabs. Rather than risk more damage the veteran blocked them, taking minor chip damage. When it went for a final stab he backdashed for distance and pulled out the Skyfish, but by the time he opened fire the aberration was already on the move. It ran in a circle around him, taking a few bullets but not enough for Goldlewis to put it down. When the minigun clicked empty it charged in, springboarding off the weapon’s barrel for a killer jump strike. Goldlewis stopped it in the nick of time with a well-placed elbow, then came down with an overhead Behemoth Typhoon to turn the monster to dust.

Instead, the aberration veered to the side, and as the coffin cracked the ground it buried its lance in his stomach, just beneath the ribs. “Agh!” The veteran’s weapon slammed to the ground, and he clamped his hands on the aberration’s lance. “Grrrrah!” Teeth gritted, he snapped he deformed arm like a lobster claw, then grabbed the monster by the shoulders. “You!” He lifted it up and bashed it with a mighty headbutt. “Damn!” Another headbut cracked its face. “FOOL!” Upon taking the final headbutt the aberration’s head exploded, and as it slumped to the ground Goldlewis sat down hard on his coffin, trying to put pressure on the stab wound.

With one less enemy to contend with, Pit could focus less on defense and move in to finish the other aberrations off. He jumped as the monster's club came down at him again, spinning the bladed bow at its head. It screeched as its face was torn up, and by the time it raised its shield to prevent more damage Pit was already rounding on the other lancer. He blocked one stab with his weapon and caught the other on his bracer. He shoved the lancer away and then thrust the sharp end of his bow behind himself, catching the aberration behind him off guard with a jab to its gut. He spun again, this time quick summoning the Upperdash Arm to shoot forward and plow into the shieldbearer, cracking its hardened limb and sending it up into the air. In a flash he pulled the bow up into a regular firing stance and peppered it with arrows, and when it fell to the ground it began to turn to ash.

Still one more, he reminded himself, turning the bow on the lancer. The light arrow he fired struck it in the chest, though it did little to slow it down. It practically threw itself at Pit pointy-ends first, the force behind the double strike enough to force the bow away. Pit blinked in surprise, though when the lancer straightened up with intent to follow its attack with a couple more stabs it found that the bow had once again been split into two, both of the blades slashing down through each of the aberration's shoulders in a cross shape. It staggered for a moment before it too fell dead.

The lancer that Goldlewis had taken off his back had been dealt with, and as for Goldlewis himself -

"Are you okay?" Pit asked, eyes wide, though with no healing abilities to speak of though he couldn't do much at the moment to help either way.

Roxas - despite having done what the policeman told him - opted to remain relatively near the bus. Hopefully he was far enough anyway to not be affected by the gate, but the policeman had told them to get away if they started feeling sick. Roxas wasn’t feeling sick yet so he figured he was still safe from the gate for the time being.

By that time the two remaining clawed aberrations, recovered from Goldlewis’ sideswipe and driven back from the gate by Roxas, charged for Midna and the civilians. They seized the opportunity presented by an opening to bear down on the children, some of them belonging to the people they themselves had once been, but the kids’ protectors weren’t about to let that happen. The male lalafell pulled out and took aim with a Manganese Arquebus, and though his aim was unsteady, his shots helped open the way for Midna to deal with them personally.

Midna, who was still holding her wound shut having been too busy handling children to use some of the healing gel she had in her pocket dimension, turned a masked face towards the monsters, a single glowering eye all that was visible of her face. Within it, no fear was found

”Bear and bug, go!” she commanded, opening portals and unleashing beastial titans which she commanded to ”Slow them!”

A fusion of wolfos, dragon, bear and machine lunged for from her left, a mass of metal and flesh that towered over the clawed mutant as it bore down upon it. It tried to dodge to the side, only for a paw to reach out and smash into it, the side swipe driving causing it to crumple and fall to the ground.

Said fellow faced the Buzzing form of Midna’s Vibrava, and it did not even need to approach to attack. Instead the highway below it glowed with cracks of power, which then burst upwards, the power of the earth blasting it from beneath and launching it skywards. It rose, and then received a devastating crunch for the pokemon’s insectile jaws, before being dropped down atop the bear batted one.

Rather than finish the job however, that was all the short amount of time Midna could sustain the spells supersizing them, and so they dropped away, leaving the mutants picking themselves up to face Minda herself.

Midna, and the massive ball of runes and turquoise magic she had hefted above her head in a shadow hand.

”Twilight-” Midna shouted, taking notes from a certain street fighter and naming her attack as she slammed the massive ball of power down atop the pair ”-Volley Bomb!”

The sphere of power passed through them harmlessly for a moment, until it was half inside the ground. That was when it detonated, blasting the pair of mutants into ash. The princess didn’t even bother to watch this, having already turned away to keep ushering the children away.

As Midna succeeded, the pre-occupied Karin tried to finish off her foe as quickly as possible. She spun around the creature and drove her elbow into its back, then kicked out at its knee. It toppled on purpose, looking to crush her, but this time she was too fast. She canceled into a dash to the side and came back in just as fast, slamming the creature into the air with a palm thrust. As it fell back down she used the same arm to slam it away. This time it was too overwhelmed to stop her jump in attack. She stomped its head into the ground, and then slid into the monster, forcing it to stand. ”Ressen Ha!” She exploded upward with an EX-attack, her arms pinwheeling as she bifurcated the upper half of the beast and rose above it. She landed lightly and then whirled around to see how the children were doing. She hadn’t expected that to take so long! That wasn’t good enough!

”Thank you, Midna!” She called out, relieved.

”How much longer to go?” Roxas called back to the policeman. He’d been holding his position after getting down from on top of the bus - but he’d been watching his fellow Seekers finish off the stragglers. He was still trying to stick with his original goal, which was keeping any of the mutants from getting past him and attacking the policeman.

With a yell the officer jumped up, performing an overhead flip. “It’s OVER!” He came down with a hefty two-handed blow and cleaved through what remained of the gate. It blew apart in a burst of red lightning and fluctuating pixels, which quickly fizzled out. “...Thank you for your help.” For a brief moment he crouched there, catching his breath, before he stood up. Noise and motion from the sky drew his attention to a police helicopter on approach, its unique futuristic design featuring a ring-shaped rotor instead of the typical blades. It flew deeper into the chaos, in so doing drawing the policeman’s gaze to a battle unfolding further down the road. A temporary evacuation shelter had been set up, but it was under attack by a handful of aberrations, with only a couple fellow officers on the case. He jumped down on the opposite side of the bus and sprinted toward the action.

As he left, however, Karin and Midna began to realize something was wrong with some of the children. Their cries and wails had taken on a fever pitch, not just from sadness but from pain as well. At this point, their suffering couldn’t possibly be just mental, and whatever it was seemed to be affecting the lalafells, too. Those who’d gotten closest to the chaos, as well as the lalafell woman, suddenly collapsed. As the others either ran in every direction or stood paralyzed in fear, the stricken twisted and contorted in agony, and finally transformed into aberrations themselves. After another moment they too went on the offensive.

”Come on!” said Roxas as his shoulders sagged with fatigue, ”Give us a break!”

“Pachacha!” the lalafell man cried out, tears streaming down his face as he succumbed to a coughing fit. The thing that had been his girlfriend rounded on him and struck him with her claws, sending him skidding backward. As she approached to finish the job he shakily pointed his arquebus her way, but thinking better of it turned it upon himself instead.

”Good God!” Without even thinking, Karin dashed in to direct the gun away from the man. She turned her back to the aberration that used to be the person’s lover to interpose herself between the creature and the man.

Roxas, getting frustrated, quickly threw Oblivion at the attacking aberration and made a mad dash toward it, ”I’m not losing anyone else!” he aimed his second blade and fired off a Blizzaga that left behind a thin trail of ice on the ground in its wake. Roxas hopped on and used flowmotion to grind the ice rail and cover the distance in a much shorter time.

Once in melee range he re-summoned Oathkeeper and tried to focus, ”Alright, if my Keyblade can free people from Galeem then I don’t see why it can’t do the same for these people too…” He didn’t know how smart of a move this was. Or if it was even possible. But he was tired of feeling like he couldn’t help these people. He lunged forward and thrust the tip of the weapon into what he hoped was aberration’s heart and attempted to free the innocent person as if freeing them from Galeem. The thrust amounted to a normal attack as the aberration reacted, twisting off the keyblade’s point to turn around and attack Roxas instead.

That left Roxas no choice. He barely managed to block the attack in time, but was at least able to knock the aberration back with Dual Counter. Then he blasted it with a Dual Shot.

”Goddesses preserve us” came a curse from Midna as the princess who had found herself surrounded by new foes. While she had been praying that whatever Roxas was pulling would work, a shadow hand was holding off an archer, while she used her shield to block lance strikes, and her wolfos was hopping back and forth to try and keep them out the claws of a third and a fourth.

Now that his ploy had failed, the princess muttered ”They're already gone. Like stalchildren” to herself to convince to do what needed to be done, swallowed, and then gritted her teeth.

She crushed the diminutive archer held in her shadow hand in a single action, and then raised the ash dripping palm up, pulsing out an expanding orange ring of energy around her, wreathing the other two in shadows. A claw slipped past her guard, racking her mottled skin through her suit as she charged the attack, but she bore it for a moment longer, and then released.

The dark energy zone lashed out, orange lightning coursing through the mutant children, and then the wolfos she was astride lunged, and in a flash ripped out three throats and left the shaking princess surrounded by ash and the spirits of dead aberrations.

Seeing this, Karin snatched the gun from the person’s hands and stared at him. ”I-…”

"What are we supposed to do?" He was stumped. If the Keyblade failed, then what other answer was there? That's when it hit him. His Keyblade wasn't the only thing that could free people! He dispelled his weapons and faced the increasingly sick lalafell man, "Please… please work…" he said as he manifested a pink Friend Heart and then threw it at the man.

The heart made contact not a moment too soon. Its touch cleansed the poor fellow from the corruption mere seconds away before the red matter density in his system would have reached the point of aberration. He slumped down against the highway railing, panting, but wide-eyed as if he’d been suddenly jolted awake. “I thought I was gonna…” He looked around, a cold sweat beaded on his brow. “But…Pachacha…”

What could Karin even say? ”I’m sorry. You must get yourself to safety.” She said.

The lalafell took a shaky breath. “R-right.” Looking around at the frightened kids still uncorrupted enough to escape aberration, he furrowed his brow, then reached out for his arquebus. “Please. I’ll need it to signal for help. And if any more show up.” Karin nodded solemnly and handed him the weapon back. Despite the losses, their presence made a difference. Karin gave Roxas a grateful look for thinking faster than she could at that moment.

”The same for the rest of you!” Karin shouted. She swept a hand in the direction of any civilians or children who had been frozen in shock.

After Pit crushed enough aberration spirits at Goldlewis’ bidding to find him some Medicine, the veteran got to his feet, a harrowed look upon his face. “Goddamn redshift,” he spat. His eyes fell on a leftover aberration spirit and he made to stomp it, only to give it a second look. “Hol’ up a second.” He squinted at the mote. It looked more red than usual, and within the off-color light wasn’t a human spirit, but the twisted visage of an aberration. “Weren’t these people a minute ago? Is this how spirits normally work…?” With an uneasy grunt he hefted his coffin to continue after the policeman.

Karin didn’t answer, not able to theorize at that moment. She passed by Midna and set a steady hand on her shoulder. ”Come. There is yet more to be done.” With that she went to follow Goldlewis to the next theater of battle.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
Avatar of Lugubrious

Lugubrious Ghost who chose life

Member Online

Sector 7 Highway

Level 3 Goldlewis (22/30)
Goldlewis, Roxas’ @Double, Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Pit’s @Yankee
Word Count: 686

Though the disaster that had befallen the bus and almost all of its passengers left everyone shaken, the thought that there were more people they could save spurred them forward. Thanks to the Medicine Pit scrounged up Goldlewis was fighting-fit again, if not fully restored, and after he steeled himself he moved to follow in that policeman’s footsteps. Rather than go across the bus where the source of the red matter contamination once existed, he stepped over the cars on the left side of the elevated highway. Thanks to their inexplicably bouncy hoods and trunks he made good time, and in just a couple moments he and the team reached the other side of the blockage. From there they hurried past rubble and wreckage both big and small, the sounds of combat up ahead ringing in their ears. More police helicopters could be seen all around, and the Filthwings were in the air with them. Fresh knowledge of what was at stake pushed the heroes to travel all the faster.

After running around -or overtop- an overturned fire truck, the Seekers reached the impromptu evac zone. Two blue-coated officers were holding down the fort, both hurt themselves, and as many dark-blue police supply crates were on hand with first aid and energy cells. There were also four white stretchers laid on the ground with two medic drones apiece, ready to lift any injured persons into the sky for aerial insertion into one of the choppers, presumably so that they wouldn’t need to risk a hazardous landing. Goldlewis saw that one of the officers had lent a wounded firefighter his shoulder and helped him limp over to a stretcher, and once laid down in it the drones whisked it away toward an evac chopper a safe distance away from all the chaos on the highways. The cop looked at the newcomers, eying their weapons. “You…here to help? Hurry up ahead! The others are outnumbered!”

Goldlewis didn’t need to be told twice. His feet pounded the pavement as he hurried through the evac zone to the rescue in process. On the opposite side lay another pileup, used as shelter against any aberration incursions by the officers who set up here. Rather than try to squeeze through the narrow choke point, he clambered up the front of an abandoned semi, barely even feeling the heart of its burning engine, and thundered across the roof of its trailer. Down below, two officers -a heavily armored man with dreads and a spry woman with a long ponytail- were engaging a handful of aberrations. Two Filthwing archers and a Filthwing slugger accompanied three clawed hunters, two swordfighters, and a big axeling aberration with a huge cutting edge on the end of a terribly mutated arm. Goldlewis spotted the daredevil fro before running into join them as the man slid backward from a blocked axe swing, and as the woman backed up with her fists raised there was a brief lull as the three went back-to-back, nearly surrounded by aberrations. Their eyes were on the three civilians hiding around the area, saved by Galeem’s influence which demanded the aberrations fight the officers who hit them instead.

“You alright?” Atlas asked, his tone nonchalant. “We’re a man down, give us a hand.”

Juliette nodded, a brave smile on her face. “Let’s get ‘em!”

Then the monsters attacked; Juliette nimbly cartwheeled out of the way, Atlas intercepted a swordfighter with a mighty kick, and Hayato Howard opened fire on the Filthwings with his X-baton in pistol mode. No sign of any gates, so the battle was on. Goldlewis joined the battle in decisive fashion, expending the Tension he’d accumulated in the last fight to call down a satellite laser on the axeling. It didn’t deal a huge amount of damage, but it dragged the big aberration and two hunters it hit on the way toward the incoming Seekers. The veteran jumped down, coffin in hand, to help put these misbegotten monsters to rest.


Sector 8 Lower
Level 11 Tora (131/110) Level 12 Poppi (21/120)
Susie and Blazermate’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man, Benedict’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: N/A

From the moment the Turk set foot in this pizzeria, Giovanna figured some sort of interaction with him would be inevitable. Even if he didn’t recognize her and no word about her new allies reached the General Affairs division after that afternoon’s high-octane highway chase, the Seekers were a strange group made all the stranger by Benedict’s presence. This man might very well know the strategist personally, after all. Still, unlike the G-men who generally assumed ‘guilty until proven innocent’, their human overseers could be reasoned with. While not the best liar in the world, Giovanna figured she could throw Zenkichi off the scent and keep things under control so long as she didn’t do anything to cast her group with suspicion. In a whisper she urged Tora and Poppi to stay calm and act natural. So far, they hadn’t done anything wrong.

Sure enough, toward the end of the meal the detective decided to pay the other diners a visit. He sauntered over after sending his small retinue of G-men on their way, perhaps as a show of good faith, and he came to Giovanna’s team empty-handed. While he looked casual enough and completely unarmed, Giovanna knew better than to assume that this man didn’t have a trick up her sleeve. Lots of people could summon either weapons or additional fighters to their side in the blink of an eye, herself included. She might not know the specifics, but all General Affairs personnel were problem-solvers in their own ways. Zenkichi opened with a quick one-two punch, revealing that he not only knew Benedict, but Giovanna herself. Or he’d heard of her, at least. This man did have a clever and by-the-book look to him. He’d probably done his homework. No matter; Giovanna could handle it. Just play it cool.

“Evening, mister,” she began, lazily leaning back in her chair with an amicable smile. “Nothing too important-”

It was at that point that Benedict stole the show. Giovanna slapped her hand against her forehead. Damn it, you old fart! He’d no doubt spoken up because he thought himself best-suited to defuse any situation involving a colleague in General Affairs, but his choice of words implied -if not outright revealed- the existence of a ‘situation’ to begin with. He even assumed that the detective planned to perform an arrest, when the thought probably hadn’t crossed Zenkichi’s mind. In one fell swoop Benedict managed to turn a pretty ordinary inquiry into a standoff, making the team look suspicious if not outright criminal. Gotta salvage this…

The secret agent trampled over Benedict’s last statement with a burst of laughter. “Pff, hahaha! Oh, man.” She wiped a tear from her eye. “You’re a real card when you’re off your meds, old man! C’mon, joking around like that could get us in -real trouble-...” With her shoe she jabbed Benedict’s ankle under the table. “For -no reason-...” She kicked him again, then with a hearty sigh and roll of her eyes looked back at Zenkichi. Tora and Poppi had remained quiet the whole time, their eyes a little wider than they should be. “He called me and my friends in to help deal with some gangs in the area. Y’know, drug dealers, amateur demolitionists dressed like hockey players. I can give you the deets if you like, buuut it’s nothing too serious. Just taking out some trash. Gotta spice up my retirement somehow~”

“Speaking of…” At that point she stood, reaching over the table with her arm extended to Zenkichi to shake, making sure to lean forward enough to give him a good view as she did. “Now that your buddies are gone, why not join us for a drink? Any friend of Benedict’s is a friend of mine! Nice to meet you, Mr…?”

She hoped that by extending him an invitation, and reminding him that the G-men were waiting on him, that he’d politely decline and do the opposite. With how sketchy Benedict had been, though, she worried that it might take more than this to convince Zenkichi that nothing was amiss.

Ms Fortune

Level 10 Nadia (123/100)
Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Omori’s @Majoras End, Ganondorf’s @Double, the Knight
Word Count: 1534

With most of the Seekers in a sorry state, debilitated by disease and more or less emotionally destabilized by the Basement and its non-stop gallery of horrors, even a simple trip across a series of enamel stepping stones took some doing. That meant that when the team finally reached the jaw-like overlook on the other side of the bloody whirlpool and found no way to open it, everyone could only flounder in beleaguered disbelief. Its thick chitinous surface would not even begin to yield to the meager strength they still possessed, and no mechanism for controlling it could be found nearby.

Nadia sank to the fleshy ground, her breathing throat ragged from labored breathing. “No furrykin’ way,” she groaned. “We came all this way and it’s closed!?” She glanced over her shoulder at the giant gullet behind her, her normally-perky ears flattened against her head. “Surely we’re not s’posed to…I can’t do that! Isn’t there any other way?”

For Jesse, there was. Even if this situation looked hopeless, the others could always count on her to see things differently. To her, the concentric, perpetual-motion shimmer of Polaris could be seen superimposed over the doorway. Her guiding star meant for her to pass through, and the FBC director had just the tool (or in this case, tool gun) for the job. In a flash she could no-collide the massive shell that composed most of this otherwise-insurmountable gateway, allowing the entire team to limp, lumber, and bumble through.

Once she set foot beyond the seal, Nadia felt an instant change in the air. Gone were the sticky heat and absurd humidity that made one’s sweaty skin crawl, replaced by a cool crispness. She stood in a dimly-lit tunnel of dark stone and carved carapaces, similar to the masonry found in the crossroads of the Ruins, though less purple. Gone was the inexplicable luminescence that provided perfect visibility inside the gargantuan guts of that eldritch superorganism, so only little swarms of lumaflies provided light in this place. Nadia didn’t mind one bit though. A breath of fresh air outside those infernal intestines helped pull her back from the brink; though sick and tired, she could go on a little longer. The roar of torrential blood rapids faded into the background, replaced by a more comfortable white noise that Nadia couldn’t quite identify. Slowly the team made their way through the tunnel toward a soft blue light at its end. There, their weary procession came to a brief standstill, for in front of them lay the most immense cavern that any had ever seen, and within that vast underground space lay a city–a city awash in rain.

Click for music

The city sat upon the water. A vast lake of ink-dark water covered the cavern floor, and from it rose countless blue-black buildings of stone, shell, and steel. Great towers reached high into the air, their exteriors dotted with ovular windows of gleaming blue glass, but only the biggest one even got close to the cavern’s roof. From multitudinous unseen cracks in that vaulted ceiling issued the seemingly inexhaustible water that formed the city’s constant downpour, which fell in buckets upon every inch of this place. Intricate wrought iron lined every rooftop, bridge, and canal, forming fences, lampposts, signs, spires, and more. Sailboats crafted from what could only be gigantic sheets of newspaper sailed the city’s waterways in unaided perpetuity. Since the tunnel emptied out onto a small dock and there seemed to be no other way off that didn’t involve swimming, the Seekers waited for one of the paper boats to arrive, boarded it, and rode across the water toward the heart of the city.

Nadia laid flat on the boat near the prow, her eyes closed as the rain fell upon her. The gunge and drek of the nightmarish dungeon, and all that tension and terror, were all washed away, leaving the feral drenched but centered and clean. The water felt pure and wonderful, bringing her momentarily back to the beach from yesterday, and that short but sublime moment when all her worries and cares floated away into the ocean blue. While this cleansing rinse wouldn’t cure her sickness, she felt a lot better.

After a couple minutes spent sailing through the deluge, the paper boat reached the city center, ringed by buildings, where it slid smoothly from the bay into a stone-walled canal. Nadia sat up, looking around. While she couldn’t get a grasp of the city’s exact layout from here, she could really get a feel for its vastness, and its hauntingly beautiful bug-gothic architecture. It wasn’t abandoned, either. She could see a number of citizens around, almost all of them non-human, whether bugs or monsters. On the edge of this canal sat a bug in the rain, drumming his feet, and for a moment he and Nadia made eye contact. He waved as she passed by, and she waved back. A number of ring-tipped poles protruded from the water, and the boat gently nudged them as it made its way toward a central plaza. When the moment came Nadia hauled herself up and hopped onto a little dock. Nice as the rain had been, she was beginning to get cold. Colder, anyway. Shaky on her feet, she plodded up a handful of stairs to the plaza itself. More bugs milled around the wide-open circular space, holding umbrellas as they traveled through the rain and lumafly lamplight. At the plaza’s very center stood a tall fountain, and atop it stood a big statue of a crown-wearing child.

Nadia stood and stared for a moment in muted wonderment, not really sure where to go from here. The blue windows that surrounded this spot felt like eyes staring down at her. Shivering, she took a look around, her gaze naturally drawn to the lights around the plaza. Most were cast by ornate street lamps, but she also found a lantern inside a sort of gazebo that stood on an adjoining promontory from the plaza, and in its glow she spotted someone familiar. With a start she realized exactly who she was looking at. “Wait, Cornifer!?” Utterly bewildered by his appearance here, she darted off through the rain as fast as her leaden legs would let her, and into the shelter of the gazebo. “Cornifer! Hey” she repeated, greeting him. “Weren’t you just in the Ruins? How…” She broke down into a brief fit of coughing, then resumed speaking in a hoarse voice. “How did you get here before us? We were going a million miles an hour downstream through giant monster guts!”

Cornifer chuckled. “Trade secret, hmhmhm!” He looked around the Seekers. “It must be your first time here. Welcome to the illustrious Home of Tears! I’d happily sell you a map, but…” The bug’s brows knit together as he beheld the sorry state of his acquaintances, and he rubbed his proboscis in worriment. “Dear me, you all look terrible!”

“We feel terrible,” Nadia told him, smiling weakly.

“You should get to the Sanitarium straight away then! The Under is home to many maladies that are not to be taken lightly! Here.” Cornifer dug in his bag for a moment, then offered the group a map. “You can pay me back later. The city is divided into four districts, all accessible by bridge from Fountain Central.” One at a time he quickly pointed out different parts of the map. “The Sanitarium is in Downtown, where most ordinary folks live.” He pointed to the southern part of the city. “Over there is the Collection, home to the city’s markets and factories.” He indicated a sprawling harbor district of books and paper to the west, over which the letters blotted from the pages of history by never-ending rain floated like bygone memories. “Here is the Amusement Park, the city’s humble entertainment district. The Grimm Troupe is performing there, so pay it a visit once you’re well, it’s sure to lift your spirits!” He pointed out the brilliant carnival lights to the east. “And the Royal Quarter, where Consul P rules over all from the great Gallo Tower.” He indicated the northern part of the city, where enormous high-class buildings bathed in pink light crowded around the foot of the city’s massive clock tower. “Careful not to run afoul of that young fellow while you’re here, he’s got quite the temper! Now hurry, and get well soon!”

Nadia sighed. According to the clock tower it was quarter after seven, and the team could barely lift a finger. Anything to do with a Consul sounded like a problem for later. It was past time for an evening of rest, relaxation, and healing. “Nyeah, okay. Thanks, Cornifer!”
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

Wordage: 488 words (+1 points)
Experience: 10/20 EXP
Location: Detroit
Zenkichi's @MULTI_MEDIA_MAN and Giovanna's @Lugubrious

Wincing slightly at the swift jab he felt, Benedict silently cursed himself for allowing his ambitions to outweigh his sense of reasoning. But the former inspector knew better, as he cast a withering glance in the secret agents direction he couldn't hide his contempt at being called an old man. He wasn't a doddery old fool and his former colleague would know that all too well almost as well as the fact Benedict wasn't one to joke.

Allowing himself to breathlessly sigh, the Turk knew he was going to hear no end to this after the fact so he had no option but to play along. Benedict however had no intentions to deceive the detective, Zenkichi could see through deceit like a hawk thus he had no options but to explain what he had in mind since meeting the Seekers without allowing his own virtues conflict with his words.

"Allow me to apologize Mr. Hasegawa," he began, collecting himself as he began to explain in earnest what he had been thinking even before he had been assigned to Gutsford "Though she may have embellished the details in rather..Colorful fashion." Benedict's word sounded civil but to the secret agent she could tell he was mildly annoyed by her rather lackluster attempt to cover.

"She is much too young to be talking of retirement, and her attempts at humor juvenile but on that topic." since he had been appointed to track down the redheaded woman and even before, Benedict had began to have reservations for the line of work he was in. At times he had considered like others, to go rogue and other times resign but his eyes were always veiled by something driving him into his work and nothing else. He buried himself in his job, often to his own detriment but he couldn't really understand why.

"I am in no shape to work the field," he told Zenkichi, Benedict nodded to the cane next to him "Though I'm no 'old man' as the fair lady put it, I am not a young man like you. I am not as skilled a fighter, I was made to do other things." nobody would know better that this wasn't as easy for Benedict to say as his colleague but it was the best explanation he could give.

"I have decided I must retire from Public Security, I need to keep a promise I made a long time ago. These people decided against my wishes to throw a unprecedented dinner party to celebrate the fact." it was a lie but, it wasn't too far off by the circumstances they presented and he wasn't thrilled to be here, he hardly had touched his salad "My words were merely an attempt to get out of this unnecessary get together after hardly knowing most of these people." again he would have rather eaten anywhere else and as far from the dirty streets of Detroit as possible.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

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Word Count: 359 (+1 exp)
Level: 9 - Total EXP: 175/90
Location: Edinburgh MagicaPolis

The flash bomb worked just as well as if he'd been back home facing down a wyvern. Considering it was a toss up on when the parts of this world follow his experiences and logic, the Cadet couldn't keep the grin from his face as Artemis dropped. The stunning light and the fall itself should keep it grounded for long enough to do deal some good damage, if not defeat it altogether.

"Kept me around for a reason right?" he joked to Big Band. The detective and Albedo followed the demon down, intent to get right to work on finishing it off. Not wanting to miss out on that, the Ace Cadet made to join in - but at the edge of the twenty-seventh floor landing he turned back to Frisk and Wonder Red.

"Now's your chance to make sure all of them stay safe," he said, nodding to the unite sword that the masked hero was still holding together. Although dropping from this height to impale the monster with that giant weapon would be pretty epic, he got the sense from Red earlier that using civilians was an emergency thing rather than the norm. Regardless as to what action he and Frisk took, the Cadet gave them both a smile and said, "see ya at the bottom floor."

The hunter pitched himself over the side of the landing to follow the action. He still had the great bow equipped, so rather than go for a melee strike he figured he would let the other two handle that. As he fell and gradually got closer to the ground, he fired the clutch claw at the building's wall a few levels below him. The chain pulled him in and he kicked off the row of bookcases to land on the floor just above the ground level. He stepped up onto the railing with the bow already drawn - it was a good angle, he could see the whole picture from there so he wouldn't be firing blindly. From his viewpoint there wasn't any trace of the weird thing he'd thought he saw in it's abdomen, just a monster writhing on the ground. He shot a couple of arrows into the demon's wings, pining it like a butterfly for good measure while the others finally got up close and personal.

Word Count: 862 (+2 exp)
Level: 8 - Total EXP: 109/80
Location: The Under - Ruins

𝙱𝙿 ●●●●

And so they went, moving through the dripstone cave to the enormous tree trunk on one side of it. As they walked, Primrose was informed of the 'blight,' a parasitic disease identified by an orange glow. Apparently it was something usually found farther down, but they'd seen (and destroyed) a bug infected with the blight in the cave. Though not a single emotion that would give her away showed on her face, Primrose seriously considered the bluggsac in the Ancestral Mound. It hadn't been that much further down, but she had descended to get to it. It had a glow about it, a soft color like a mixture of earth and fire.

Had she run into the blight? Was she carrying it with her right now in the form of that rancid egg? She didn't feel any different... in fact she felt perfectly fine. Her magic reserves were just about fully recovered again, she didn't have wounds to speak of after healing from the battle in the colorless wood, and she certainly didn't feel as if she'd contracted any illness. Concluding that it was a coincidence, she kept the second part of her trek through the Ancestral Mound to herself.

They found the false wall in short order, and a second after that. Through there the group came to a slightly more open area, extending both up and down with twisting branches crossing the space. Primrose breathed in, the air here much less stagnant than the ruins and cave tunnels they'd been in so far.

"Once we're through underground, if we find our way back here we could burn through the brambles and climb the branches to the surface," she observed, turning away from the thorny ceiling and making a mental note of it herself. That would come much later though, for now they had to go down both to find the other mask pieces and reunite with their friends. Although speaking of the latter...

"It's obvious that the others didn't come through here," she said, giving voice to what the the rest of her party were probably thinking. She glanced back at the chest, knowing that even if the other group of Seekers had passed it up for some reason that Therion would not have left any treasure un-plundered. If it's worth locking up it's worth taking, she could imagine him saying. "But perhaps we'll find a shortcut to wherever they really went."

She let some of the other Seekers descend first, following after them by floating down gently to whichever branches she thought could hold her. More than a foot taller than normal and with more muscle mass after her fusions, she had to keep in mind that she wasn't as light as she once was. The scenery in the great hollow wasa whole lot of the same: bark, branches, dreary gray light. So as she descended, she drifted towards anything that happened to catch her eye. The first of which was a small something that caught the dull light, lodged into the side of one of the massive trunks. When she approached, she found that it was just a shard of glass.

Curious. She glanced around but found no other pieces. Perhaps a part of some implement dropped by someone while traversing the hollow, shattered once it connected with the tree? Primrose pulled the shard from the wood, tossing it down below her where a large lizard creature was in her path. The glass clinked against the branch before falling farther down, drawing the attention of the reptile. She floated down by it while it was distracted, then kept going.

There was still a long way down. The dancer's next stop, after avoiding a few more of the basilisks, was another shiny thing she spotted from the corner of her eye. She floated over to it, half-expecting it to be the same glass shard that she flung down there. Instead she found a beetle, one that looked more or less normal save for its shimmering shell. It crawled slowly over the face of some carved helm, resting in a nook where branch met tree trunk. Even more curious, she thought to herself, running her hand gently along the helmet's features. It was a little rusted, but not too bad. That wide bowl on its head... a ritual mask, perhaps? Not wanting to discount anything they found as mere coincidence, she lifted the helm and stashed it with the rest her pack, along with the little beetle that had stowed away inside the helmet's face.

Continuing down, she didn't spot much more of interest on her chosen route. At some point she got a bit tired of avoiding enemies, and so she swapped to a more direct route. She still kept to the stronger looked branches, but ambushed any unsuspecting mushroom creatures with dagger and magic from above. Any that had been caught alone were quickly defeated, and she left their spirits where they came to rest. Those fungal humanoids that traveled in pairs saw one or both of them shoved from the branches if they dared get too close the dancer while she waited for her scarf to recharge. This way was faster going, if only slightly, and eventually she made it to the ground to regroup with her comrades.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Bugman
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Location: Dripstone Cave
Words Written: 692
XP Gained: 1
Mentions: Kamek and the Koopa Troop @DracoLunaris, Primrose @Yankee
Powers Used: Guerilla Warfare

The bugs were no match for the motley crew's assault, to little surprise of the Yordle. This was no solo mission where whole columns of enemies could be flattened in second by a carefully planned rockfall. Every dart had to be aimed carefully to be delivered into the small frame of a bug. Though it was no careful composition with bans and agreed upon picks, the comrades Teemo had unexpectedly found himself among definitely seemed to not only hold their own but also fill quite a variety of roles that he could rely upon them to fill out his deficiencies in the moment. Be it the beefiness of the one with the really big spikey shell, to the guys with staves, he felt that at least at the moment he probably wasn't going to die. Well, insofar as a Yordle could die the little badger chuckled mentally, for now oblivious to the different rules of life and death in this new realm.

He turned once addressed. Saluting with thumb, index and middle fingers to his fuzzy forelock he gave the short but accurate reply: "Captain Teemo."

Truth be told, having only now gained some semblance of sobriety following the consumption of mushrooms that - whatever its real name was - would most certainly be illegal in any civilization that came upon them, he was quite confused. But he saw the Koopa Troop rushing off to meet new foes and reasoned that if they had saved his life they must be allies. Thus he made the decision to go over to help out. The new foes seemed if anything to be even more minute in scale compared to the last ones, a problem that ensured his dartsmanship was made all the harder with their zigging and zagging. While he was confident he could hit them even from this distance, the occasional miss still wouldn't be worth exhausting his admittedly finite supply of darts, particularly given his lack of any poisoned tips should a more threatening foe appear. It was thus that he focused on once more hiding behind any stone he could find to make use of Guerilla Warfare, launching fast but deadly salvos once the new enemies were much closer to be hit with more accuracy and eliminating the possibility they would dodge the admittedly slow projectiles that the darts were.

Not having had to contribute much given the apparent competence of the turtle folk, Teemo went on to collect any darts that weren't shattered by impact after the fight was over, muttering "Waste not, want not." to himself as he did so. While obviously he needed these people to survive, his discomfort at being in what wasn't exactly a solo mission was already coming into some degree of play. But for the sake of himself and others he like, he knew to damn well shut up about it rather than being a lone wolf drama queen.

As he followed the party, he frowned at some of the words being spoken. They mentioned others, and paths taken, events he wasn't privy too. "You guys have one hell of a story to tell when we're safe!" he said, looking around. "I reckon wherever this is, its quite far from Bandle City." he added, now back to muttering grimly.

With the march not ceasing, the sight of items for the taking my have lured the eyes of the rest of the party, but not recognizing any of them he turned his gaze towards the mushrooms instead. He certainly did not recognize these either, but a mushroom was a mushroom. Be it for eating or for slaughtering, a mushroom could always find use. Though he wouldn't eat them quite yet, he made sure to grab as many to hide in his satchel as he could, only ceasing when his tiny frame became all but comically oversized with the sudden intake of baggage.

After listening to one proposal of how to proceed, he nonchalantly pointed his blowpipe towards the basilisks and lizard people, and even more nonchalantly given the contents of his words made his own suggestion: "If we got time let's kill those guys. All of 'em."
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TruthHurts22
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Member Seen 24 min ago

Level 2 (XP: 17/20)
Ace (@Yankee), Frisk (@Majoras End), Prisoner (@XoXKieroBombXoX)
Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

On paper it didn't make sense. A huge, room-shredding beam of energy that swept away bookcases and tore through the walls, yet once Wonder Red's sword Morph got in its path, it was mirrored like it was nothing. Didn't even push Wonder Red back, the diminutive hero standing firm. The real answer was a long string of complicated, possibly made-up science whatnot, but like any Wonderful One, Wonder Red had his own answer:

The Wonderful One-Double-Oh always beat out the impossible.

Red didn't rest on his laurels. Once Artemis began to fall he rushed forward, Unite Sword still formed, and leapt off the platform. The weight of the morph allowed him to fall a bit faster than he normally would, and with a swing Red aimed the point downwards, quite literally cutting through the air to increase his speed. He caught up to the others during their collective freefall.

"Time to finish this, team!" Red pulled back, leveling the sword with the angelic monster below them, and thrust down. The sword's size gave him the reach needed to pierce straight through Artemis's pod. Once done Red pulled the sword back out, de-morphing it. For the briefest of moments - maybe less than a second - the civilians, children, and library workers Red had fixed to save were in the air along with them. Their fall only lasted for as long as it took Wonder Red to re-morph them, coalescing into another instance of his bright red Unite Hand.

"Wondeeeeeeerrrr PUNCH!!"

The giant fist slammed into Artemis's main body, though instead of sending it further away, the oversized jet boosters present on the much larger Unite Hand kicked on. With the afterburn shooting them even faster downwards than terminal velocity would take them, Artemis had a date with the ground floor very soon, Red's Wonder Punch delivering a truly crushing blow.
319 Words
+1 EXP
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Scarifar
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Scarifar Presto~!

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

Location: The Ruins - Dripstone Cave
Level: 3
Experience: 37/30 (Level up available)
Word Count: <750 (+1 EXP)

The Lightseeds were quickly eliminated, and Rubick walked over to examine what remained of the now-dead creatures. Rubick guessed that such creatures were meant to overwhelm foes with sheer numbers. It was a tactic he had seen employed by other creatures many times in the past. He wondered how many others had fallen to this "Infection". If it was as truly as virulent as Barnabee claimed, it was a wonder the other inhabitants of the Under didn't all fall victim to it by now.

There was little time to dwell on such speculations, however, as Primrose guided them towards their new destination. The trip through the swamp was rather unpleasant, and Rubick felt he needed to give his robes a thorough cleaning after this, but they otherwise made the journey unharmed. Rubick was most curious about the illusory wall, examining every inch of where it lay in an attempt to figure out how it worked. Making a mental note of it, they continued on and even found a small amount of loot that had been stored in a treasure chest. Rubick took a sample of the Gorajian Mushrooms for himself. The little scout Teemo evidently saw their potential, judging by the sheer quantity he had looted, so Rubick guessed he would find a use for it as well.

Looking up, Rubick noticed something off about the wall behind the chest. Of course, he had seen something like it very recently; the illusory wall hiding the passage they had just taken. Rubick extended his staff toward it, and it passed through the wall, as it too was an illusory wall. Walking through it, Rubick looked both up and down, taking in the sights of the new environment. "I wonder if the rest of the Seekers missed us while we were gone." Rubick thought out loud. "And if any of them suffered casualties, I hope I can obtain that Triforce of Power." Of course, a new environment also meant new foes, if the mushroom creatures and basilisks were anything to go by. "Well, it won't be my first time killing local wildlife," Rubick remarked, readying his staff. According to his mental calculations, he should have enough mana to make it through the area, but only tiume would tell if that was true.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Ghost who chose life

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 1 hr ago

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 1,640 (+3)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (130/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (20/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (19/120)
Rika: Level 6 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (62/60)
Location: The Under - The Ruins - Dripstone Cave

There was no need for Rika to dance with little blobby death, as the seeker’s strategies worked like a charm before the light seeds could even try and charge her. The shields kept the silly Migospel from being infected, while Jr,Dazzle and Rika’s range attacks popped blobs left and right. The most effective strike came from Rubic however, his bouncing spell chaining kill after kill in quick succession and making short work of a swath of their foes.

”Is everyone alright?” Kamek enquired as he swooped over, to which he got a pair of affirmation from the two youngsters of the troop. Bowser caught up a little later just in time for Barnabee to fill them in more on what they had just stopped, namely some kind of zombie plague.

”urgh, yeah, good job troop. Those things remind me way too much of these little things from the dead zone. Just glowy instead of fleshy.” the king commented, relieved they were all right, and just a little annoyed that he had been too slow to help ”That place was the worst… or maybe the maw was the worst. Whatever. Still bad”

The other three nodded at that assessment, though Rika had no context for the first place he'd mentioned, while the koopas had all been in the dead zone at one point or other, however briefly, and got the jist of what he meant even if they hadn’t all seen the flood.

”Let us hope that this one being ‘close to the surface’ as you say, is just a coincidence. I think we could all do without another run of that wasteland” Kamek said, putting word to their shared sentiment about that place.

There was only one way to find out if his hopes would turn out true however, and that was to descend deeper. Fortunately, Primrose had managed to find a way and so, after a bit of spirit plundering of mosquitoes and light seeds and the stuffing of them into increasingly full jars, the troop followed her lead to the secret exit to the cave.

Once within, on top of sussing out the second hidden wall they had missed, she also pointed out something else obvious to her and not to them, and that was there was no way that the others had come this way.

”That is … concerning” Kamek noted before theorizing that ”maybe we missed a warp pipe? Or another hidden wall? I worry they’ll go try and find us by going the other way, and get very lost doing so”

”If we did, that map guy’ll point them after us if they try to go back right? So we should keep marking the way we went, and hope they catch up I guess?” Jr suggested, before expanding on Prim’s idea of marking the walls as they went, and doing some graffiti on the walls to point out both the secret walls and adding a tag to confirm that it was 100% him that had done said marking, and that they had gone this way.

Then all that was left to do was, well, keep moving forwards and hoping that Primrose’s idea that this was a shortcut to where the others where was the correct one.

Or, to be more specific, to keep moving downwards.

It went without saying that the troop, moving together, were a lot less stealthy than Primrose, particularly because they had to take rather specific routes that would let Bowser get down, instead of being able to squeeze through any which way. That said, they didn’t just walk either.

Jr and Kamek could fly, of course, while Rika got her Cocatrice swapped out for a hunting spider once again and used it to hop, climb and web build her way down. That left the big man himself, who equipped a bell to his spiked collar, and used his Meowser claws to slide down the side of the tree where he could, and also occasionally stopping to use Scissorman’s Shears he had acquired way back when for their actual intended purpose, namely pruning plants, which he did to help to clear his way down.

It also got used to prune other things, such as the fungus men who stood simply no chance against the grouped up troop, their reliance on punching attacks meaning that most of them that tried to fight them didn't even manage to get close before blasted by one of the fliers

It was the basilisk that where the bigger problem, and the troop’s first encounter with them was the roughest:

”Oh hey look! I see something shiny over there” Jr called over the sound of claws scraping through bark being caused by his papa cat scratching down the side of the central tree ”I’m going to check it out!”

Then he promptly flew off, dragging everyone but Bowser in his wake, where they promptly got ambushed by an equal number of basilisks.

Numerous eyes flashed from the shadows of a grand branch, causing armor negating damage to take a good chunk off of the trio’s health.

Several cries of pain were followed by a battle cry from jr as he pivoted to charge the oversized lizards, only to find his movements sluggish, and his machine diving forth without support. Rika and Kamek both found practically every stat of theirs greatly reduced by the basilisk's gaze from their strength to their magic, which caused both broom and spider construct to lose potency and to drop both of them to the ground unceremoniously.

Or rather it dropped Rika to the ground and Kamek out of the air. The mage cried out in alarm as he fell, plummeting towards the distant floor, only to find Rika dropping after him. Having lunged after him on instinct, the ship girl wrapped gauntleted arms around him, and then fired her maneuvering thrusters, blasting them forwards so that she hit a far less distant branch, the ship girl grunting in pain as she rolled the landing.

After a moment, she rose stiffly, only to find herself face to face with a grove of mushroom men, made suddenly dangerous by the basilisk's debuffing of them and her being alone and having to protect a stunned Kamek.

Up above, jr found himself alone vs three of the giant lizards, which turned to focus their gaze on him

”Oh no you don’t. Minions! Get them!” Jr cried out weakly, proceeding to hurl wave after wave of striker squads at the great beasts while he pulled back and tried to remedy himself. A battle of self healing being crippled and undone by basilisk gazes ensued, while the monsters themselves were chipped away at by minion wave attacks.

Then, a roar broke through the grindfest of a fight as Bowser, having ascended back up to to reunite with his son riding on the back of his trowlon striker, arrived on the scene

”You lizards are cooked now that the king of cat-astrophe is here!” he roared as he stepped off the lifting friend and changed … only to be promptly blasted by basilisk gazes that slowed that charge to a crawl.

He snarled and waved a fist angrily at them as he slogged on forwards towards the lizards, who were in the midst of cowing though the last of Jr’s goomba strikers and directed their focus onto the boy in full. Furious at being too slow yet again, the king hammered his chest once, twice and then on the third hit there was a flash of inspiration in the kings and all might crack from his shell.

Glowing lines of energy split his shell like a river delta of magma … and then he sped up once again, faster now than he had been before, but not, he somehow knew, as fast as he would go with this power un obstructed.

Another basalt hit him, but his lowered defenses ment naught when the shots were bypassing it anyway, and the debuff did not stack, shell smash continuing to counteract it. Then he hit the lizard pack, fits and claws smashing and slashing, and his own summoned strikers adding to his furious assault, hammers, bombs and bones flying.

This gave Jr time and space to ”Esuna!” himself clear of the buff. Then he turned the cure spell on his dad and promptly removed both the basilisk's debuff, and, unintentionally, his dad’s own effect, the glowing lines sealing shut as he was returned to normal.

It didn’t matter, the king was upon his foe already, and he dealt out brutal vengeance, and soon enough the basilisks were dust.

Down below, a panting Rika drove ripped her chainsaw bayonet down one final time, slashing the final mushroom monster from throat to gutt, just in time for the debuff to wear off upon the death of its caster. After checking that Kamek was recovering (he was), and calling up to see if Bowser and Jr where ok (they where) she moved to inspect a small treasure stash that had presumably belonged to the mushroom creatures in some shape or form.

”Huh, neat” she commented as she pocketed the items, right in time for a cry of ”Oh come on!” to descend from the branch above Jr found out that the shiny thing he had seen that had caused this whole mess was a mere shard of glass.

That discovery, plus the unpleasant encounter with the basilisks, put a damper on any other wandering off, and so the troop stuck together and took as direct a path as they could down, using Kamek’s whisps to scout out any threats and doing their best to nuke them down as quickly as possible when they spotted.

By the time they reached the bottom they had acquired a small collection of spirits, and a dire need for a rest, the troop parking themselves at the base of the tree, and taking a load off as they waited for everyone to regroup down there, lighting a little fire to roast some marshmallows over while they did so as a quick little pick me up.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Ghost who chose life

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Great Hollow

Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose’s @Yankee, Rubick’s @Scarifar, Teemo’s @Bugman

The further the heroes and their fuzzy new acquaintance descended through the hollow trunk, the more treacherous it became. Narrow and unpredictable organic pathways forced climbers to constantly second-guess or reposition themselves; there was no direct route. Wobbly or brittle branches threatened to bend or break beneath the newcomer’s weight, and animate toadstools waited patiently in the shaded recesses to sink their fangs into any unwary travelers hoping to find shelter or firmer footing, although it didn’t take long for any would-be ambushes went horribly south for the feral fungi as their prey turned out to be more than a match for them. Those who could float, fly, or glide scarcely got off any easier, since the air in here could hardly be called ‘open’. Branches and briars reached out like clawing hands to snare loose clothing and scratch exposed skin. Clusters of fungus suffused in noxious spores and bundles of loose moss that couldn’t hold an adult’s weight if grabbed formed just a few of the challenges encountered.

Still, this was all in a day’s work for seasoned adventurers. Everyone made decent progress, many of them profiting from the perilous descent on the way. Despite its secrecy this space had evidently seen its fair share of wayfarers, and no small amount of them had dropped bits of gear or inventory while struggling up or down this wicked wooden labyrinth. It wasn’t difficult to imagine some poor soul slipping off a notched branch or misjudging a difficult jump, nor the subsequent fall to the bottom of the hollow far below, their bodies and gear scattered far and wide by the many terrible impacts on the way down like balls in the world’s largest pachinko machine. The Seekers who felt confident enough in their abilities managed to scoop up and pluck out a few extra pieces of loot on the way.

In the end, the greatest challenges in their way were the Basilisks, few in number but nevertheless a big problem. Though slow and lumbering their six legs and sharp claws gave them good purchase even on completely vertical stretches of bark, so they could turn up in unexpected places, wherever they appeared they provided a dangerous obstacle. Without even getting close to the heroes, the Basilisks could cripple their stats and deal constant agony with their special gaze attacks. For Primrose and even the typically brash Barnabee, simply going out of their way to avoid them seemed like the best option. That said, Teemo did turn out to be more enthusiastic about killing the animals than one might expect, and the Koopa Troop jumped at the chance for a fight, taking on several Basilisks in succession.

Eventually, a little sore and splintery but not terribly worse for wear, the team could go no further–though to call it the ‘bottom’ of the tree might be a hasty assessment. Rather than actually end, the trunk just filled with sandy soil that prevented further downward progress. Compared to the stark, almost petrified upper reaches of the hollow, this spot teemed with wetland flora, including leafy creepers, milkweed, sneezeweed, and sedge. Toward one side, in the shelter of a cagelike tangle of gnarled mangrove roots, a giant fanged crab with a carapace of stone and trees upon its back slumbered in its nest, surrounded by eggs so large that grown bears could curl up comfortably inside. Luckily, the nest lay opposite a jagged opening in the bark, so if everyone felt disinclined to tangle with their second overlarge arthropod in as many hours they could exit without difficulty. That wasn’t the only reason to head toward that gap, though. Just one casual glance in the direction of the curious blue-green light that eked through it was enough to ignite the curiosity, for it suggested that the heroes stood at the threshold of something not just incredible, but downright impossible. In just a couple moments the Seekers stepped out from the hollow to stand before a remarkable vista indeed.

Click for music

Before them spread a vast and mystical space, maybe too expansive to even call a cavern, especially since it lacked any visible walls or ceiling. Instead it stretched away into the distance until the haze rendered all a murky bluish fog, and upward to a layer of pale green clouds. The trunks of countless other unfathomably tall trees just like the one they’d just emerged from, rising like the columns of some primeval cathedral up from tranquil dark waters through the cloud layer and into the roof beyond. That water formed an immense, glass-smooth lake, and the team stood upon a large ridged bank of sand that wound a serpentine path from this trunk toward another a half-mile or so away. Though it might remind the Koopa Troop of the other impossible shore they encountered underground in the bleakest recesses of yesterday morning, this place lacked that other beach’s pervading sense of wrongness and doom. Instead it possessed a quiet majesty, enough to make one feel small and insignificant, but not afraid.

There were signs of life too, although many as strange and archaic as this place itself. Clams with teeth clung to the bark of the tree trunk beneath the surface, while in the shallows of the sand bank organisms known as ganoderma grew like underwater flowers. Googly-eyed shellfish both large and small called this place home, weathering the glares of ornery barnacles as they trawled for food alongside oblivious trilobites. All those who braved the shore lived in fear, however, of the hostile five-legged clams that stalked these forlorn shores, their enormous maws laden with the slimy skulls of their past victims. Still, that probably beat consigning oneself to the dark depths, where all manner of spine-chilling sea creatures no doubt lurked. Out at ‘sea’ the heroes could spot a number of whirlpools, but they weren’t the only breaches that could be glimpsed in the surface, and if one looked too long into the depths of the lake frightful glimmers could occasionally be seen.

The only land in this place seemed to be sandbanks like this one, and even those were rare. At the base of the tree at the other end of this one lay a large tangle of roots and branches with what might be a clearing inside.

Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

Level 8 Big Band (45/80)
Ace Cadet’s @Yankee, Frisk’s @Majoras End, Red’s @TruthHurts22
Word Count:

To Big Band, the feat of leaping out over a two hundred and seventy foot drop after a plummeting demon to deal a climactic ground-pound finisher at the very bottom was ambitious enough, so he did not at all anticipate what happened next. While he and Albedo descended through the stories of the Noumenon with their sights on Artemis, Red co-opted the bystanders he’d already incorporate into a blade to form a rocket-powered fist that not only caught up to the two -much to Band’s wide-eyed surprise- but also blazed past them to deliver a gigantic punch that drove the wailing demon downward like a meteor. A moment later the two made impact with the bottom floor, and a terrific explosion of shrapnel, scrap paper, and flame ensued that rattled the library from A to Z.

Band could only shake his head in disbelief. “Well, that’s that problem solved.” Not at all aggrieved to have the rug swept out from under him in such an impressive fashion, he turned his mind to slowing his fall. While Ace utilized his Clutch Claw and Albedo proceeded with his original plan to reset his descent with a plunging attack near the floor, the detective deployed and activated his afterburners. Thanks to them he reached ground floor safe, sound, and only a handful of seconds after the Monster Hunter did. It did occur to him that they left Frisk behind up there, but with the threat and the civilians on terra firma she’d have all the time she needed to make her way down to them.

Not that it would take the rest of the group that long to finish this. It was a mess down here, with a great deal of furniture and countless books in utter disarray. Hopefully the authorities won’t hold it against us, Band thought. Lying in a bed of shredded paper in the wreckage of a large table was Artemis, and to the demon’s credit it managed to survive the impact, but that’s where the good news ended for it. Red’s wonderfully brutal punch took out a chunk of its health, and after Albedo came down with his plunging attack to pierce a wing to the carpet, Ace pinned it down with a few well-placed arrows. Unable to position its wings and eyes properly, it could only unleash a smattering of pink rays, and in a fairly predictable manner to boot. Band suspected that the team wouldn’t have any trouble even if Red abstained from the end of the fight to make sure all the citizens he’d wielded were okay. He stepped forward, brass knuckles clenched, to shut this demonic songbird up for good.

Albedo held out a hand. “Wait. Just a minute.” Amidst the demon’s shrill cries, the alchemist tentatively stepped forward, avoiding the magic laser bolts. With narrowed eyes he fixed his elemental sight on the demon’s torso.

After a second, Band raised his eyebrow. “...Son. Surely you ain’t.”

“There’s something strange in there. Something inconsistent.” Rather than impale Artemis through center mass with his Cinnabar Spindle like he originally intended, Albedo used his sword like a saw to make a shallow slice. Artemis squealed, and sky-blue blood flowed from the wound, but as it opened up and the light seeped in Band could see for an all-too-brief moment moment a familiar countenance.

Startled, he instinctively backed away. “Sierra!? What the funk? Did it eat her or somethin’?”

“No,” Albedo murmured, his voice hard. “I think…”

At that moment a handful of lasers shot in from the side, striking the heroes with the guards down. Wincing, Albedo dashed away from the demon’s body and looked up to see a few of its turret pods, which had followed Artemis down from the original battlefield. The demon tore free of Ace’s arrows and floated up into the air, blasting out lasers indiscriminately to get its opponents away. Then the Noumenon seemed to darken as it rose higher still, except for a column of radiance like a theater spotlight around Artemis.

“That can’t be good,” Band grunted. “Look, y’all. The girl ain’t dust, so she’s still alive in there. That means we gotta take this down without hurtin’ her inside!” Artemis began to sing, its voice and the red glow of all its down-ward facing eyes growing louder as it made its last-ditch effort to let loose its ultimate attack. “And from the looks of it, we don’t got much time. Move those feet!” Albedo created a Solar Isotoma to elevate one person into the air in pursuit, and Band crashed one metal fist into his palm, preparing to take flight with Timpani Drive.
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Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

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Level 10 Sectonia (holding 4 level up) - (5/100)
Location: City of Tears
Word Count: 828

Seeing the door that should be the 'exit' from this place, and hopefully not THAT exit, blocked irritated Nadia, Sectonia, and possibly the others. She had her rage leave her, but she would use her spells to break that door down if she needed to. Thanks to Jesse though, no effort was needed to break the door down as her no collision gun let them all pass.

Upon entering the new area, the severe atmosphere change in both aesthetics and temperature made Sectonia wretch as the others suffered their own sickness. Not because she was displeased they were out, but out of relief that she was in a much better area and ridding herself of the foul air that the giant organism they had just been was filled with. "Fresh air at least. Or at least, this is vastly superior to THAT thing." Sectonia said, scoffing at the It Lives spirit the group had taken with it. She commanded her antillions carrying Ganondorf to follow they group. When the group had made their way through the end of the tunnel they found themselves in, they found a grand gothic city with carapace architecture. Not Sectonia's style, but much like things of its style, it had a bit of a haunting beauty to it which she could appreciate.

The relaxed Sectonia greatly, the queen momentary dipping in the air and only recovering when she touched the water itself, going back to her proper flying height. The cleansing rain that showered the group as they advanced to the city center being annoying at first, but relieving after she noticed it washed both her and her minions free of the gunk that had accumulated from their journey through that awful, awful dungeon. She would rather have a proper bath, but at least things were moderately better. Although it did nothing to cure the rest of the group of their sickness.

That relief of the water did turn back to annoyance as it continued to rain down constantly, which didn't do wonders for those who were already sick as Sectonia noticed Nadia being affected by the cold. She was getting tired of being wet herself all things being said. Nadia was the first to spot a familiar face, Cornifer, someone who Sectonia had only gotten a bit of a glancing look at all things considered. Still, this was the one that Nadia had bought a map from... A map that had led them to that disgusting hell. "You, map seller. Do you have any clue the horrid, horrid things we just had to deal with thanks to YOUR map?" Sectonia said, her rage flaring up as she thought of what they had just been through.

All things being considered though, if Sectonia was in a better state of mind she would be more cordial with Cornifer. And the map maker seemed slightly concerned, offering up an explanation of what this city could offer to help the group with their sickness and perhaps relax after their ordeal. Hearing this, Sectonia turned to the rest of the group, giving her commands. "You all should get that plague off of you and take a proper bath. Then go where you will. Meet back up at the clock tower when you are all clean and proper." Hopefully they could get their sickness cleaned off, being weakened just wouldn't do.

With that being taken care of and any questions or actions cleared up, Sectonia departed for the spas herself in the royal quarters to take a soak and relax and possibly relieve her stress a bit. Being a royal herself, she wasn't going to go to anything less than the high class district to relax; although she did admit the fools at the circus could be fun to observe. Perhaps she would take the rest of her minions to see a show or something. But now wasn't the time for that.

The spa house was as opulent as the city outside. There weren't that many bugs soaking in the spas at this time of day, so Sectonia had a good amount of peace as she relaxed and cleaned herself. Probably for the best, as until she removed all her stress, she'd still be abusive. Thinking about it, Sectonia has gone to 3 different spas in a couple days. At this point she should get a little world tour card and just find all the spas in this world. She chuckled to herself thinking about that.

With her bathing done, Sectonia decided to head off to the theatre of the royal district. Hopefully it would have an interesting show on display and some good food and company to fully relax. Inside the Theatre Sectonia noticed it was full of lots of high class looking bugs much like herself. Maybe when she was relaxed she might be able to make some interesting connections here.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by TruthHurts22
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Level 2 (XP: 18/20)
Ace (@Yankee), Frisk (@Majoras End), Prisoner (@XoXKieroBombXoX)
Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Noumenon

Wonder Red hadn't meant to interrupt the attacks his teammates were preparing. He leapt from the 27th floor without much thought further ahead. The weight of his morphs meant he met the angel sooner, and of course once his thrusters kicked on, any hope for the rest catching up were dashed. At least there was an eventual end to the fall; Artemis was pancaked against the marble floor of the library's first story, sandwiched between the hard ground and the hard-light knuckles of Red's Unite Hand. When they finally touched down, Wonder Red clenched his teeth and jammed his fist harder down, one last sharp 'crrnch!' to finish the maneuver, utilizing the momentum to spring away, landing with surprising grace with the others. He kept the morph formed for the moment, in case the monster wasn't truly dealt with.

Their newest companion, Albedo, followed a hunch in regards to it, slicing the main pod open to reveal... "Sierra?!" Red shared the shock Big Band displayed, maybe moreso considering that the pod housing the Pokémon trainer had been Wonder Red's target. Even if she was still alive in there, the damage he may have caused in his attack could have left her with more injuries than it seemed, especially from the small glimpse they all got of her.

Wonder Red tried to free Sierra from the pod, Unite Hand poised to pluck her through the slash, only for Artemis to reawaken, thrashing free from its quick made bonds and making its counter attack. Quickly he jumped back, de-morphing the citizens from the floor this fight began on. Artemis's pattern of energy attacks started up again - the angel wounded enough that it couldn't fight to the potential it had shown before - but while the new burst wouldn't be much problem for Wonder Red and the others, the various non-combatant civilians were in a tough spot.

"Everyone!" Red addressed the crowd of people he had just used for his Morphs, corralling them into a tighter grouping. Hopefully the lack of Wonder Masks didn't lead to any complications. He wasn't quite sure how Galeem's hold over the world affected the Morphs' capabilities. "Stay close to me, I'll get you out of here safely!"

Wonder Red moved for the library's entrance. Obviously the group of citizens didn't have the training a Wonderful One did, meaning he had to pay particular attention to keeping them all in formation. Essentially gathered like a pack of penguins, with Wonder Red in the (rough) center, Red supplemented their lack of training with his exemplary knowledge. "Forward ten paces! Duck! Hold... run left... now!" Envisioning the whole group as a larger extension of himself, Wonder Red conducted them accordingly, managing to avoid the various laser blasts as they came. If the pods were any more aggressive there wouldn't have been a chance for Red to get everyone out without injury. As things stood, however, he managed. It was slow but steady, making decent pace until they were close enough to the exit.

"Okay everyone, make a break for it!" Wonder Red urged them all ahead, on enough of the fringe of danger for them to make the run without fear. He stayed on the edge of the battle, as anxious as it made him to leave his team to fend for themselves for a bit, to make sure everyone managed to get out. The instant that the last of them reached the doors Red turned around and rushed back into the fray.

The return trip was a lot faster than the trek to safety, seeing as Wonder Red didn't have anyone to babysit, for lack of a better word. "Detective Band," Red shouted to the brass bruiser as he rejoined the rest yet again, "we have to run interference. Draw the enemy's attention so that Albedo and Ace Cadet can extricate Sierra from inside it!" Seeing as Big Band was more of a brawler than a slasher, and that Red using Unite Sword could very well cleave right through Sierra along with the angel, he figured it best to leave the duty to the others.

To this end Wonder Red duked to the right, ducking and dodging the flurry of lasers, towards a bookcase that hadn't gotten destroyed in the fall. He re-summoned his Striker, in turn summoning another set of Hollows, using them all to build Unite Hand. Taking quick aim, Wonder Red punched the bookcase, sending it flying through the air. It struck one of the turret pods, in turn sending both projectiles straight into Artemis, hopefully disrupting whatever it was preparing to do, with Big Band's (supposed) contribution.
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