Word Count: 620 (+1 exp) Level: 3 - Total EXP: 126/30 Location: Dystopiascape - Valley of Ruin
After the trucks finally came to a halt, Pit hopped out to stretch his wings and legs. He flitted right over to the crashed plane, some tightness in his chest loosening when he found no injured people or signs of casualties. Of course there could still have been some, taken care of by the salvage teams previously, but he chose to remain on the optimistic side. The plane itself was barely more than a skeleton at this point, but there was some colorful bags stuffed under seats that had gone unnoticed. Some were already wrenched open with their contents disheveled, and it were these that Pit curiously peeked into. He'd feel bad about taking someone else's money though, so he mostly left the suitcases alone. Mostly. He couldn't resist pocketing a few candy bars simply labeled "ALMONDS." Better to eat them before they went bad, right?
Once Tora was finished rewiring the vehicles (or whatever he was actually doing), the Seekers were free to go wherever they pleased. They piled back into the trucks and were off, splitting up to find any clues about where and when the machine force would be attacking. This time the drive was much shorter, so there was little time for conversation before they got there. Even so, Pit grinned at their new merchant pal.
"Yep. Saving the world and all that!" With Partitio still under Galeem's thrall for now, he only added, "You might learn about it eventually."
After that they arrived at a second location, one that was beginning to resemble a jungle more than a city. Especially with the animal-shaped robots that dotted the landscape. It was fortunate that Zenkichi cautioned against such machines, because otherwise Pit wouldn't have hesitated to go right up to one.
"Aw, but they look so cool!" He'd never seen these kinds of machines before, surprisingly life-like ones in the way they mimicked the animals they looked like. The closest that Pit could think of was Galleom, but even that was more like a cyborg than a full buts and bolts robot like these. As cool as they were, they probably weren't related to the impending machine attack. They didn't seem like anything but synthetic animals. So... did the machines have their own ecosystem out here? Interesting, but too much to think about.
Nearby the flooded city ruins was an abandoned construction site, with a crane standing tall. It was there that the former Turk suggested the Seekers go for their recon mission. As far as good scouting places, it was definitely the best option from what Pit could tell.
"Sounds good to me," he said. Squinting at the crane and what he could see of the half-built neighborhood, the angel noted the robots milling about as well as those ape-like ones swarming the crane itself. "Hmm, maybe a good shake will make all the monkeys fall off their tree. Probably be easier to fight them that way if we want to climb that crane." And Pit did. He wanted to climb that crane very much.
Of course, at least one among them had other things on their mind. Susie was still thinking about gathering scrap for the people back in the slums, a noble train of thought. She indicated the robots with the large boxes on their back. "Those crab looking ones?"
She was already on the move. Since he'd already volunteered to protect her, Pit would go with her. His bow appeared in his hands. "I guess we can do this first so we have something to bring back!" Or they could take care of it quick and regroup with the Seekers that chose to move on ahead, either way it shouldn't take too long.
Karin Level 5: 38/50 Location: Seiran Tunnels Word Count: itty Points Gained: 1 New EXP Balance---
Karin Level 5: 39/50
— Karin finished the battle against the suicidal enemies with a flourish. ”Nothing too it, indeed. Simple minded weapons of war. Easily beaten.” She surmised, ignoring her previous frustration and caution. That didn’t matter. Of course she preferred a true victory against equal minds, but there was a certain amount of pride to be taken in overcoming an insulting foe.
They fought past a fairly annoying Other enemy after that. At any rate, it demonstrated how truly omnipresent these creatures were. Karin didn’t like the idea of running from a fight, but a part of being a team player was moving with the group. Even if it did leave a bad taste in her mouth and an empty feeling in the palm of her hands. It was practical- they did have to reunite with the OSF team sooner rather than later.
Their next true foes, ones that would undoubtedly hinder their progress if left unattended, made themselves known in their usual disturbing ways. The ash piles clenched Karin’s jaw. Regardless, Karin pushed forward into combat, avoiding the ranged attack. One of them went invisible, which Karin found more disturbing than seeing them.
Midna went off to do battle with the invisible threat. Geralt would join in, and then Susie. It was a tough foe. But she couldn’t leave Goldlewis to battle the other Chinery all by itself. Even if it was electricity. She had to avoid getting covered in water so that the electricity didn’t strike true. Goldlewis was tough, but he would have a hard time avoiding said water blasts by himself. As for Benedict, Karin wasn’t sure what he was doing yet. But she knew she had to help Goldlewis because if she didn’t, and Benedict also chose to pursue the invisible foe, the other fighter in their group would be left alone.
”We cannot allow an enemy to be left unattended!” She said, rushing to battle the Winery. But she couldn’t get close. She dashed from place to place, but not wanting to block water meant she was unable to hold her ground. Either way, she got the creatures attention by advancing in front of Goldlewis and hopefully let him close the gap without getting blasted backwards.
When Blazermate activated uber, and Geralt called out for help, Karin thought that perhaps she should change targets. Midna and Geralt were both hurt. Karin attached herself to the ceiling and jumped, pulling herself closer to the Slippy Chinnery. With all of the negative status effects on it, she figured she would be able to come in with a sudden heavy kick from above.
”Yah!” She went to drop her foot onto its drop, driving it into the floor, before pummeling it with a series of advancing palm strikes. Then, she went to batter it away with an elbow strike to give herself and some allies some space.
About halfway between the salvage site and the factory smokestacks where the Rust Crew planned to get a lay of the land, their truck briefly pulled over to let Tora and Poppi disembark. This particular part of the ruined city looked especially old. Botany had never been an interest of Tora’s, let alone a strong suit, so he couldn’t tell exactly, but the giant concrete husks of buildings here sported massive trees growing in, out of, and around them, some with roots big enough for a Metro Cat’s subway train to ride on comfortably. In fact, green foliage blanketed the whole area, with only stretches of ancient, cracked roadways visible between the swathes of bracken and grass. That probably didn’t happen overnight.
Gazing around at the post-apocalyptic environment, Tora had to remind himself that all this -as well as the World of Light in general- was a mere fabrication. Those enormous wooden spires hadn’t grown here over the course of centuries; they’d been plonked down by Galeem. Still…this overgrown cityscape came from somewhere. Some distant world of melancholy, meaninglessness, and loss that Tora couldn’t even imagine. Standing here reminded him of the feeling he felt when he stood at the graves of Vandham and Rex’s parents, wondering about the lives lived and lost that led to this wistful moment. So Tora couldn’t harden his heart to this scenery. But the knowledge of this world’s falsehood, or perhaps more accurately its shameless appropriation, drove him onward. As well as the rain that stung his eyes whenever he tried to look upward.
Poppi took care of the area’s verticality for him. Once she had her Masterpon in her arms, she ascended the nearest skyscraper in a series of rocket-propelled high jumps, from window to window and branch to branch. It wasn’t long before they reached a high, flat roof among the treetops. Judging by the rain that poured down through the highrise directly next door, its roof had caved in some time ago, so this seemed like as good a spot as any. Despite the rain, it provided an incredible vista of the surrounding area, including the flooded, collapsed district to the south. While Tora shuffled over to sit underneath a giant leaf, Poppi tuned her long-range optics to better examine the mechanical lifeforms working there, puzzled by their behavior. Most of the Machines she’d spotted in the Valley of Ruin so far just ambled around aimlessly, but not these ones. They didn’t emulate the behavior of the animals they resembled, either. Instead they appeared to be working, each with some sort of goal in mind. The Clamberjaws roved the streets and foliage in aggressive gangs for wrecks to disassemble, not too unlike Midgar’s salvagers themselves. Widemaws collected and processed raw minerals from the landscape. Snapjaws imbibed and detoxified the bodies of water they basked in, launching pods full of the extracted chemicals onto the shore. Finally, the crablike Shellwalkers carefully collected the resources that the others gathered, sequestering them in the different compartments of the huge cargo containers on their backs. As Poppi watched, one of the Shellwalkers turned to leave the machines’ work zone, crawling down the river.
“Strange,” she said aloud. “It’s almost like they’re all working together to collect different resources. But why?”
Tora thought about her question for a moment. “Meh-meh-meh,” he murmured. “Well, it sound like Ever Crisis is big-big battle of attrition, going on for long time. In war that big, both sides need way to refill ranks. Tora not remember who, but someone say something about Machine factories. It not occur to Tora before now, but it make sense that there units designed to gather bot materials, meh.” Narrowing his eyes, the Nopon waddled over to join Poppi at the edge of the building. “Maybe…if friends follow crabbypons, they lead straight to factory?”
“That makes sense! Should we go back down and tell the others?” Poppi asked him, spooling up her thrusters for flight mode.
Tora shook his head. “Right now, factories not friends’ concern. If Machine invasion about to happen, we need worry less about units not built, and more about units already built.” He lifted one wing and pointed at a point a little farther to the west, toward a wetland responsible for the tributaries that created waterfalls into the flooded gorge. “Look there.”
A solitary larger machine lifeforms could be glimpsed there, slowly patrolling on a predefined loop. It reminded Poppi of Gormott’s native Garaffas, albeit with a very broad, disc-shaped head sporting multiple antennae. “Tora was just thinking,” her Masterpon continued. “There have to be way Machines communicate over very long distances. Was looking for relay station of some sort, but then Tora see tall-neckypon.” Scratching his chin, he looked up at Poppi. “It seem important. Tora want try access it like with truck. If nothing else, ride-around on mobile vantage point might be fun, meh!” Shaking water off his fur, he gave a cheerful smile.
The duo’s scheming came to an abrupt end when a terrific crashing sound resounded across the landscape from the north. After a brief shared glance Tora and Poppi raced across the rooftop to the opposite side, with the former sliding beneath the huge tree branch while Poppi jumped over. Immediately they saw that chaos had broken out at the defunct factory, evidently mere moments after the Rust Crew arrived. A colossal spider robot, with smooth plates of shiny white armor and an array of beady red eyes, had smashed its way out of one of the factory’s smokestacks in a terrifying show of destructive might. Naturally the Rust Crew opened fire the instant the mechanical monstrosity appeared, sending the sound of gunfire echoing through the rainy cityscape, but with their foe so needlessly large that even Big Bo only came up to its second ankle-plate, the trio were more focused on covering their retreat than actually fighting. Hounded by a hail of bullets from the Spider’s head-mounted underslung machine guns, the Rust Crew made a break for their parked truck.
“Oh, no!” Tora cried, jumping up and down. “Must get down there now, meh! Other friends too far away to help!” Poppi grabbed him, took off, and blazed through the deluge toward the unexpected boss fight. Squinting against the rain, Tora spotted red targeting lasers homing in on the truck, and he managed to trace their paths to a pair weapons systems that looked rather like supersized versions of the missile racks inside Poppi QT’s Mech Arms. If they managed to lock onto the truck, it would be a disaster for the team. “Poppi!” he called, having to yell to be heard over the rushing wind. “Need fight fire with fire! Swap to QT!”
His companion adjusted her flight path. “Understood.” Swinging Tora around to her back, she boosted into a shallow dive to swoop down over the Rust Crew’s truck, where she hastily dropped off her Masterpon before transforming in midair. A maelstrom of fiery sparks and red ribbons heralded her rapid reconfiguration into her more defensive form, the lethal adaptability of her Variable Saber replaced by mighty mechanical mights. The Spider locked on and unleashed a fusillade of missiles into the air, but Poppi held firm. She popped open her own miniature silos, locked on to the enemy’s projectiles in flight, and let loose her own salvo in response. For a moment the watery sky filled with fire, and the next second the chain-reaction of aerial explosions set off a spectacular fireworks display. “Fully intercepted!” Poppi reported as the smoke cleared.
After an awestruck moment, Tora and the Rust Crew rejoiced. “Hell yeah!” Bo cheered, pumping his fist. “You sure know how to pick ‘em, boss.”
“Simply breathtaking, mademoiselle!” Cain added.
After picking himself off the wet grass where he rolled to stop, Tora smugly put his nub-arms akimbo. “Poppi just that good!”
“Hold your applause, fellas. This is far from over.” Once he finished reloading, Marshall took aim at the Spider. The giant machine looked almost surprised to see that its targets survived the bombardment, but it was more than happy to finish the job. “Split up and keep moving! Don’t let it pin you down!”
Tora focused up, standing firm just long enough to get a bead on the Spider before its machine guns got blasting again. Poppi passed him the Mech Arms just in time for him to block a couple dozen rounds. “Tora see massive drive system on belly, meh!” he announced while hunkered down in defense mode, his guard enhanced by Poppi’s channeled ether barrier. “While Tora have it attention, hurry and give upset stomach!”
“The legs!” Marshall called out. “They’re only protected from the front! Shoot ‘em out to stop it moving!”
With the duo on foot to tank for them, the Rust Crew climbed aboard the truck, with Cain swinging into the driver’s seat to put the pedal to the metal. With a roar from its engine and a spray of mud from beneath its tires the vehicle took off, circling around the Spider to give the other two an angle on its joints.
The other half of the team’s truck stopped at a fork in the road. On one hand, the flooded ruin that Tora and Poppi surveyed from afar, with its crew of perplexingly animalistic machines laboring away at their harvest. Erosion there led to enough collapses to turn the highway there into a series of tiered cliffs leading down toward the water, meaning that if the truck went that way, there’d be no going back. Down the other road stood a much drier half-finished neighborhood with a much more militaristic -and coordinated- contingent of machines. Differing ideas on which route to take left the six at an impasse. Zenkichi suggested the left-hand path, and Susie the right. Pit didn’t mind the latter choice, apparently thinking that the team would make short work of all those machines. Roxas and Partitio didn’t take a stance either way.
That left it up to Giovanna to arbitrate. Sitting on top of the parked truck, she considered the others’ viewpoints in conjunction with her own, both literally and metaphorically. Zenkichi wasn’t kidding about hippos and crocodiles being dangerous, and the ones Giovanna knew weren’t augmented with heavy-duty plating and multiple onboard weapons systems. The mostly aquatic terrain looked almost as bad for business as the machines themselves. Watching a Widemaw vacuum up entire chunks of masonry and exposed sediment into a jaw like a hydraulic press, outfitted with multiple grinders and drills, did not make her eager to get in melee range. Luckily, they seemed about as disinterested in tangling with her, focused instead on their jobs. In contrast, the machines at the other outpost looked like weapons of war with their various firearms, spoiling for a fight. Their makeshift outpost smacked of reconnaissance. That seemed more relevant to the Seekers’ mission of stopping a machine invasion–a mission that it sounded like Susie needed a reminder of.
“We’re not actually here for scrap. That was just the cover story,” Giovanna said, her arms and legs crossed. Susie’s attempt to decide for the group, and to cement her chosen course of action by ringing up her business suit, sat about as well with Giovanna as her motivations for doing so. She doubted that Susie intended to give whatever she got to Midgar’s poor. “We’re here to find and deal with the Machines that are going to invade Midgar. Lining our pockets with ‘the good stuff’ should be our last priority.” Her tone of voice was blunt, and she pulled no punches. “I mean, hey, if loot’s more important to you than human life, whatever. A dozen giant robots is gotta be easier than one Loup-Garou, right?” Giovanna jumped down from the truck in the direction of the crane, glancing at the others. “I’m not your boss, so I’m not gonna tell you all to follow me, but I’m gonna see what’s going on over here.”
Opting for the stealthy approach to scope out the situation before taking action, Giovanna quietly entered the neighborhood on foot. Though originally drawn here by the crane that might serve as a vantage point, she now found herself more intrigued by the possibility of something else afoot in this location. She dashed between hiding spots at high speed, her eyes out for any Machine sentries. The weather lowered visibility in general, but not enough to disguise the bright, soulless red of the robots’ eyes, and the shine of their optics against the falling rain gave the perceptive a rough outline of their vision cones. She stayed outside to avoid any potential traps or security measures the Machines might have set up inside the buildings, but overall the place didn’t seem very fortified. Her suspicions of it being a temporary base seemed more on-point by the minute. With the cards stacked in her favor, she managed to follow a distinctive humming noise toward the center of the neighborhood. The guards were too plentiful for her to dare intrude much further without abandoning any pretenses of stealth, but she did find the source of the sound. A mechanical obelisk stood in the shell of an unfinished building, the panels on its sides sliding in and out.
As she watched, a strange drone the size of a car hovered up from an underground tunnel. It plugged one of its seven tentacle-like arms into the obelisk and transferred data over the course of about thirty seconds, then flew back down after the deposit to continue scouting. Giovanna began to regret telling Susie off; if this was some sort of data center, it might have information on the Machines or their targets, so hacking it would be worth the Seekers’ while. Without a tech expert on hand, Giovanna would need to destroy it, but that lay beyond her ability as a lone operator too. Maybe I can rope them into this, she thought as she glanced upward. She couldn’t help but picture something massive dropping from the crane’s outstretched arm and smashing the whole station flat. Or maybe…
Goldlewis’ face tightened as he put two and two together. Others ate human brains, and if he and his teammates stumbled upon these two at the tail end of a feast, it meant that the heroes had a couple fallen Scarlet Guardians to avenge. Once the Winery Chinery and Slippy Chinery detected their next meals, they wasted no time showing off their dangerous abilities. For the former, water and electricity made a deadly combination Goldlewis knew all too well, while oil and invisibility made the latter into a different but still dangerous problem. Of course, these powers came packaged with these monsters’ natural speed and strength, so it looked like the Seekers would have their hands full with their vengeance. “Work together, y’all!” he shouted as the team spread out from the entrance to avoid getting washed away by the Winery Chinery’s opening gambit. Another damn spitter. “Divide their attention, and don’t let ‘em corner ya!”
Midna worked fast to attend to the elephant in the room, that being the Slippy Chinery. While her sands hadn’t availed her against the extradimensional Chimeras, buffeting the surrounding area in a miniature sandstorm worked wonders against the invisible Other. The grains that stuck to its oily coating, rendered its trick of the light all but useless. Recognizing the danger, it went on the offensive before Midna could coat it more thoroughly. As she got smacked Geralt moved to support her. The Twilight Princess put a dampener on the vicious thing’s assault and struck back through clever use of her bottomless bag of tricks, and the Witcher tag-teamed the Other from the back, dealing appreciable damage. Things really heated up when the two lambasted the Slippy Chinery with flame. Its flammable coating caught fire instantly. As it burned its midsection -little more than a spine and ribcage full of fruit that connected the meshes of its front and rear thirds- became brittle and susceptible to attack. The strikes Karin pulled off as she joined the fray would deal serious damage to the midsection. At the same time, however, the revealed Slippy Chinery went berserk. Oil streamed from the holes in its limbs as it thrashed around, creating burning splashes with every blow, in a mad bid to pulverize its opponents before its damage accumulated past breaking point.
While his teammates tangled with the Slippy Chinery, Goldlewis moved to engage the other Other. “Over here!” he called, grabbing a Thunderbird drone from the UMA to hurl at the monster’s leafy head. The airborne explosive bounced off the Winery Chinery and blew up, putting its aggro squarely on Goldlewis. He barreled toward his target as fast as he could go, but while he cut an intimidating figure as he ran, his enemy had more than enough time to act. As it wrenched its facial value to unleash another spray Goldlewis risked jump and follow-up airdash to close the distance. Karin did her best to get the monster’s attention, but unfortunately the Thunderbird grenade meant that right now, the Winery Chinery only cared about Goldlewis. It adjusted its aim upward and rinsed him mid-airdash. “Aw, hell!” he groaned as he got blasted back into an overhead sign. He smacked into it hard enough to bring it down with him as he fell, and by the time the veteran regained his feet the Other was upon him.
Fortunately, Goldlewis found himself well-protected. Blazermate flew to his aid with her energy shield, and though it didn’t technically block the Chinery’s withering blows, it did punish the monster’s overeager attempt to capitalize severely. With a snarl the Other leaped away from the painful protection, crackled with electricity, and smashed its arms down to unleash a lighting wave. Even if the barrier didn’t soak up all the voltage, Goldlewis had recovered enough to block for himself by now. It gripped its valve again to let loose another torrent of water, but with Blazermate shielding him Goldlewis forged straight ahead, plowing through the flood to shoulder-bash the Chinery right in its stupid nozzle. It reeled back, taken by surprise, only to find the veteran’s coffin descending upon it like a blazing meteorite. “Try this on!” Goldlewis bellowed as he smashed the Winery Chinery against the floor, splaying its front legs out to either side. He dropped his coffin, the UMA thrust his minigun into his hands, and he unceremoniously pressed its barrel against the Other’s head to unleash a stream of bullets.
The point-blank barrage bowled the monster over, but it sprang to its feet to return with a vengeance. It brought its fists down on Goldlewis, right, left, then both, only to find that its attacks bounced off his impervious, ubercharged body. “Eeeeeeyaaaaaaagh!” He swung his massive coffin around like a lasso, pounding the Other again and again in a spectacular Behemoth Typhoon. While Blazermate couldn’t hold it still even with her shield thanks to the size and strength difference, she did act as a wall Goldlewis could bounce the Winery Chinery off of, allowing him to keep up his combo. Finally, a tremendous slam bounced it over Blazermate’s head with an OTG hit. “Crumble!”
After a moment the monster slid to a stop against some turnstyles. It staggered to its feet and grabbed its valve again, this time with both hands, and promptly wrenched the faucet right off. Water poured from its insides, quickly pooling around it. A moment later lightning danced across the Other’s body, electrifying the water around it. “This shit again!” With the ubercharge spent, Goldlewis backed up from the waters edge. Noticing the weakspot mark on his adversary’s hindquarters, he brought out Skyfish to try and finish the Other off from afar. It promptly hurled a bolt of lightning at him, which both counterhit him and wasted his Security Level. “Dadgummit!” he snapped, his lip curled in frustration. While the Winery Chinery was clearly hurting, he couldn’t finish it off without getting fried thanks to this water hazard. Not without doing something clever.
Gleaming as the merchant was, Partitio seemed blissfully ignorant to the rather odd implication that he'd learn something later on and the whole 'saving the world' spiel as far as he was concerned that meant they were trying to help people living in the Slums of Sector 7, so Partitio just snorted and said he was happy to meet some good people down in here. Pit seemed itching to poke at the metal things, they looked just like monsters back home but made of metal and gears.
Partitio was new to the city, rode all the way from somewhere out south form a trade depot nestled by the mountains. Something bout the rumors of the big city drew in the country boy, as well as seeing the poor down in the Slums. He wanted to help the people any way he could.
If the man with the serious looking expression hadn't said his piece about the machines, Partitio would have also cautioned that the metal critters were more than meets the eye "Got that right mister, might look like a crab but you can bet it ain't pinch like no crab." the merchant chuckled when the angel pointed out some machines.
Their wagon had pitched to a halt at a fork in the long and dusty road “We’re not actually here for scrap. That was just the cover story,” the merchant froze, the friendly smile on his face turned to a confused look like a deer in a pair of headlights "That ain't funny," the merchant shook his head and chuckled weakly believing that Giovanna must have been joking, but she wasn't.
Partitio's knuckles cracked as he balled up his fists, it took all of his might to not start a scuffle right then and there, the merchant felt betrayed and more importantly angry at the fact the Seekers seemed to have their own selfish motives for being out here. He needed to get out of the cramped interior of the truck, away from the others inside. He stood without a word, and jumped out of the vehicle "You got some nerve looking out for yourselves when folk need help..Some heroes you are.." were the only words he uttered, turning to the side to spit without giving the other Seekers a second glance.
The merchant tailed Giovanna, not as gracefully as she made it look to creep in the derelict buildings but he did his utmost to tip toe around without disturbing the floor too much. Joining her approach to the fallen crane, he didn't say anything still angry at the Seekers deception yet he still believed some of them were good folk. And the lady seemed to not agree with the motives that her allies had.
Sakura Level 9: 37/90 Location: Seiran Tunnels Word Count: 876 Points Gained: 2 New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 9: 39/90
Sakura set her hands on her waist and took a moment. She was fine on the outside, suffering no more than minor cosmetic damage. But the invisible health bar that dictated her durability, the wellspring from which she withdrew her strength, had been reduced by the hits she had taken. And it’s not like they didn’t hurt like heck, either. But she would be ready to continue.
”All right, we did it! Hey, that’s cool.” She said, pointing at the spirit container.
When Sina exclaimed her jealousy, Sakura blushed and grinned. ”Well, hah, thanks.”
As for Dexio, Sakura’s grin turned a little less shy and a little more cocky. ”Hey, second place isn’t bad. Maybe you and me could spar some time!” Compared to other street fighters, Sakura was more about power and skill rather than raw strength. But, yeah, if she wanted, she could throw her muscles around a bit.
When leader Luka stepped in, Sakura went back to sheepish and rubbed the back of her head.
When Peach tried to get in on the leadering action, she said something that left Sakura clearly, visibly puzzled. ”Life each other up..?” She muttered under her breath, trying to figure out what the pun was. English was her second language and she didn’t always understand every last idiom or turn of phrase. Closest she could think of it was like ‘lift’ each other up but with ‘life’ instead. What that had to do with showing each other up, Sakura didn’t know.
These thoughts pre-occupied her mind until her foot got stuck in some kind of web. She pulled herself free and thankfully didn’t stumble or fall. If she did, she wondered if that would trigger her annoying helplessness reflex. The idea of getting stuck in the webs did freak her out, but she felt like she would still be in control… Sakura was reluctant to dive in and find out.
Thankfully, there were no giant spiders. Instead it was just a bunch of annoying illusory Others. This was a new type of threat to Sakura, and she found hitting nothing but thin air that looked exactly like an enemy to be uniquely frustrating.
But that was nothing compared to the next threat. Sakura was used to facing swarms of weaker enemies so far, with no Other being stronger than her on its own. That would end when she saw a distant Other beast. It dwarfed her in size, had many arms, spikes, and even had opposable thumbs to wield weaponry with. There was a small comfort in the idea of the knowing that, yeah, if Sakura was on her own on even footing, she could take out any Other in a one-on-one battle. But this thing? Sakura wasn’t sure.
Still. It was no Maw or Orphan of Kos. They could take it. They outnumbered it, ten to one, and the other team had done well this far. In fact, they would probably win out right if left alone. But they wouldn’t win without injury, and that was worth fighting to prevent.
Sakura rushed in along side Luka squad to help. Her first mission was to rush to the aid of Shiden Ritter. He was being protected for now, but he couldn’t be in the fray for long. Someone could get hurt on his behalf.
Thus, Sakura rushed to him and grabbed him by the shoulder and arm to pull him to his feet, despite his bad wound. But she didn’t feel like she would be hurting him too badly, because she instinctively shared some of her power with him.
”Tag Out!” She said, slapping him good-naturedly on the shoulder. He would receive a temporary bonus to his health and stamina, alleviating him of pain, or at least, pain’s crippling nature. He would be light of foot, any limping would be like running at full pace. And any freshly received minor wounds would actually be healed completely. All of this would be available as long as he accepted that he would have to sit the fight out for a little bit and take a moment to retreat to relative safety- something as simple as the other side of the room. If he turned around and fought, the effects would be lost.
Sakura was fully planning on taking his place in the battle, and used her Tag-In attack on the Fisher. She surged forward and did a high spinning heel kick up into its ‘jaw’. While it would be no more damaging than a regular kick, it had high knock back and stagger, forcing even a massive beast like that to take Sakura’s crowd control seriously. All of this would be enough to give a wounded person enough time to, as harsh as it might sound, stop being a burden to the healthy fighters.
Now in combat range, Sakura focused on using her specialized upward hadokens to blast the beast from beneath. This would help her stay out from underneath it while still dealing relatively high close ranged damage. ”Tengyo!” She yelled. But she was immobile while doing so. It was her first instinct, and she wondered if it wasn’t as good as she committed to a third fireball after shuffling lightly around on her feet.
Together Luka Platoon charged forth to assist their fellow Scarlet Guardians in battle. As the team spread out on their way in, Sina helped pave the way with ice shots from her arm cannon, aiming not for the monstrous Gunkin Fisher’s shaggy fur or masked head but the red-tinted tank of simmering, sludgy oil on its back. Some of her shots went wide or hit one of its spines instead, but the sudden cold she introduced both siphoned off heat and weakened the glass as her shots piled up.
Peach slowed down once she reached a comfortable mid-range, far enough to react in time to the Other’s vicious strikes and dangerous oil sprays, but not so far that her Scatterboom lost its bite. Mr. Grimm’s revolver made an appearance as well, and the princess put it to use hammering the Gunkin Fisher’s hairy hide while her shotgun cooled down.
Naturally, Dexio rushed past both ladies to take the Other head-on. With an armored defender on hand to take the Fisher’s attention, Arashi could abandon the hit-and-run role of evasion tank and focus on the ‘hit’ part. While Dexio amped up his Seismokinesis to keep the ground constantly shifting beneath the Other’s feet, forcing it to fight to keep its footing almost as much as him, Arashi sped around as a glowing pink blur. Peach could barely even see her chainsaw as it cut streaks through the air; only by the gashes that ripped open in the monster’s torso could she be sure that Arashi passed by.
Arashi needed breaks, however, between usages of Hypervelocity, and that’s where Luka came in. He repositioned constantly with his Teleportation to avoid the Gunkin Fisher’s business end and escape its focus in order to bring his hammer down on its exposed flanks. With an enemy of this size, the savvy and mobile fighter enjoyed plenty of openings. More than anything else, Luka focused the raw power of his weighty weapon on the Other’s metal forelimbs. By denting the bars that constituted them again and again, he could gradually warp its arms to cripple both its offense and mobility.
Most of Luka Platoon naturally assumed that the wounded member of Seto Platoon would be fine under his role model’s protection, but like a true hero Sakura wasn’t going to take any chances. Her sudden appearance and the bespectacled boy’s side took him by surprise, though indignation came quickly and naturally to him, as if it were a default state. “The hell are you-!?” he griped as she took hold of him, pulling him away from the fight. “I can still-!” His protests came to a sudden halt as the sensation of restoration suffused him. Mistaking Sakura’s Tag Out for conventional healing, he seized his batons, ready for another round. “Don’t expect me to thank you.”
“Shiden, wait! Just listen to her, will you?” his commanding officer told him. Seto looked back over his shoulder, his eyes narrowed.
Shiden bristled. He couldn’t back down, not when he had something to prove. “Captain, this is nothing. I'm not just gonna watch from the sidelines!”
“I know.” Seto fixed his protégé with an intense look. “But I need you to work smarter, not harder. Take a few moments, reorient yourself, and come at the Other from a fresh perspective. That’ll impress me a lot more than blindly rushing forward.”
A comment like that from anyone else would’ve stoked Shiden’s fury, but he couldn’t bring himself to contradict the man he idolized. “...Right,” he finally agreed. “Don’t count me out, though. I’ll be back before you know it.” Without looking at Sakura, he backed off, maneuvering around the battle in a wide berth as he formulated a winning strategy. His next move would need to make up for this lost time, or he knew his battle rank would leave him bitterly unsatisfied.
Meanwhile, Sakura joined the fray with gusto, landing a strong kick before getting beneath the Gunkin Fisher to sear its belly with fireballs. The opening she made gave Sam a chance to send her spiders forth and jump in the Other to keep it occupied, while Akira laid into it with his mind-bending illusions to debilitate it with different status effects. Still, this monstrosity was nothing if not tenacious. It wasn’t going to just stand there with someone directly beneath it and take its lumps. The Gunkin Fisher jumped straight up and came down in a room-shaking body splash, then seized its head-hoses with its center hands and took aim at all the Scarlet Guardians in its proximity to bathe them -and the whole area- with steaming-hot oil. Dexio got coated, Akira took cover, Sam lost some spiders, and Arashi -moving too fast for her own good- slipped on the oil and went into a headlong tumble. She came to a stop in a pile of rubble, her expression more annoyed than hurt. “Ugh, this is too much work…”
At that point, however, both team leads stormed the scene. Seto, no longer burdened by Shiden, went on the offensive with Lucian’s Atmokinesis brewing up a storm around him. Lightning-quick, the Septentrion’s twin swords slashed, sliced, and stabbed in a deadly flurry, and Luka -borrowing Sina’s Cryokinesis- joined him in an all-out Teleportation flurry. Luka and Seto matched one another blow for blow in a spectacular thundersnowstorm. Their bombastic assault gave the other team members the time they needed to recover, and by the time the Gunking Fisher blew through the cloud cover to push the two back, all ten Scarlet Guardians stood ready to mete out some serious justice.
Seto clanged his blades together in a shower of sparks. “All troops…!”
“...Take it out!” Luka cried, hurling his hammer to begin the final act.
Virgin Victory teleport room Top of the Split mountain Outside the Convent of Our Lady of the Charred Visage Tostarena Town S.O.U. Building Seiran Clinic
”That’s it, burn! Burn! Can't hide now, can you candlestick!” the princess laughed as she left the combusting monstrosity in her wake and she rode towards Blazermate, only for the laughter to break into coughing as it did a number of her horse punched chest.
That, she thought, was not a good sign.
Fortunately for her, about halfway through that flight she got intercepted by one of the bot’s little drones which hovered over to give her aid in its master’s sted. Not that she knew what a drone was mind you, so she just thought of it as a small robot assistant. A flying nurse robot maybe, she considered.
”Oh well, that works too I suppose” Midna said, as she gave a little sigh of relief as she felt her pained chest start to be soothed over by the drone’s medical assistance.
The tiny feeling of being snubbed by having this lackey come help her was quickly quashed as she took in the situation the medabot was in, namely facing down the non sneaky Other alongside just Goldlewis.
That said, part of that was that Karin had just swapped places to go and attack her burn victim, which presumably meant this fight was in a better stead than hers. It would have been only fair for her to do the same and go help them, particularly because she suspected her wounded state had been what had caused the street fighter to rush from one fray to the other.
”Hmmm nope nope nope, not dealing with that shocking thing just no” she said perhaps too loudly as her inherited hand trauma flared up an. So instead of rushing to their side, she wheeled around and rode her way back towards the dancing flames, calling back ”good luck” with more intentional volume.
If there was one boon to this however, it was that she brought the healing drone, by virtue of it following along to finish doing its job, which left it primed to help out the other two after it was done with her
”Thanks for the assists back there you two” she called forwards to the witcher and streetfighter as she rejoined this battle. The pair were presently faced with the consequences of the princess’s actions, namely a giant flaming horse shaking oil all over the place, for which she jokingly apologized ”and sorry about the mess”
Now she just had to figure out how she was going to clean up that mess. Odds were time would solve the problem on its own, yes, given how it didn’t look like the living oil lamp was showing any signs of going out any time soon. Unfortunately, while it was on its way to the grave it was not going quietly, and was instead thrashing and charging around wildly while dumping that burning oil everywhere, which meant it was still a big threat, as it would only take one rough tackle of something that size to do some serious damage .
Having re-arrived to the fight however, the princess had some space to work with as it was unlikely the other would switch off whichever target it was after when she arrived. As much as she wanted to just start volley bombing it and lightning striking it, the massive aoe of all of her ranged attacks all ran the risk of clipping whoever it was currently after.
So after a moment of thought she decided to run support for the melee fighters. First thing she started doing was summoning more sand, but rather than striking the Slippy Other with it again, she instead telekinetically launched the sand in arches so that it splashed down on top of the burning patches, smothering them and giving them all more ground to work with.
Interspersed with this fire fighting she attempted to ranged attacked in a way that was not at risk of splash damaging anyone nearby, doing this by grabbing up bits of the environment such as benches, signs, and vending machines, and hurling them as blunt object projectiles at the Slippy other. She tried to chose the most inopportune and disruptive moments to do her tosses, so as to try and knock it off whatever attacks it was trying to make, while also making sure to yell out warnings when she was doing her tosses along the lines of: ”Throwing chairs!” and ”Making it eat metal snack box thing”
Finally, on top of that, she summoned her enlarged Vibrava whenever she could, and had it blast the other with tight streams of dragon breath, the princes crossing her fingers and hoping for the paralysis effect it sometimes had to take effect.
And if while she was at this it came after her? Well the princess was more than happy to have her wolfos lead the beast on a merry chase while she clung to its back and they let the Other burn to death.
Word Count: 1,028 Level 4 Ganondorf: 14/40 Exp: 2 NEW EXP Balance--- 16/40
Unfortunately, Ganondorf had a bit of a wait to sit through this time. Apparently the rules for the fights had been updated and now all combatants had to agree to sip on a Dwarven Flask before entering the pit. It would keep them from suffering fatal blows, and once an opponent was K.O.'d the victor was obligated to use the Dwarven Flask they carried to get them back up on their feet, otherwise the victory and the prize were forfeit. On top needing to listen these new rules, there was already a fight going on and Ganondorf would have to wait for it to end before he had a turn to enter.
That fight was between a muscular humanoid toad and a bony-looking reptilian with a large avian beak. The only one wielding a weapon was the reptile, with its long spear. It would make occasional leaps into the air and come back down onto its opponent with a downward spear thrust. But the toad-man was not helpless, in fact he was pretty quick on his feet - able to take quick leaps and bounds here and there to evade attacks. Ganondorf supposed to this made sense, given that he was a toad, or frog, or whatever. But he also had powers of his own. At one point he appeared to greatly enlarge his fist in order to knock away an incoming spear attack. He even tried to counter with a kick using a foot that transformed into a comically large boot. And that kick was strong too, able to leave a crack in the pit's wall.
The two went back and forth like this for several moments. Then out of nowhere, the toad was able to catch the reptile's spear with enlarged hands and then swing around and through the creature into the wall. Before the spear-wielding fighter could recover from being winded, the toadman came crashing into him, headbutting the creature dead center while large ram's horns were grown from his head. Clearly he was strong, and able to enhance his strength by enlarging and transforming his limbs. But the Gerudo was confident that he could overpower him, and now that the fight was done, he'd get his chance.
"Good people of the City of Tears!" came the voice of the announcer, "Returning from a string of victories he won yesterday, we have... Ganondorf! Now challenging our current King of the Pit: Rash, the Battletoad! Who will emerge victorious? Let's find out, lower... the gates!"
Ganondorf drew one of his large swords and strode out to begin the fight. The Battletoad was aggressive. He immediately made a big jump and attempted to crash down onto Ganondorf with an oversized boot stomp. The Gerudo managed to side-step out of the way and came back with a big swing of his sword, bringing blade down from above in a vertical slash. And that's when the toad surprised him by managing to catch the blade in oversized hands, a level of raw strength that even Ganondorf hadn't expected. And then by twisting his wrists, Rash tried to yank the Gerudo into a throw, only for Ganondorf to release his grip on the weapon's hilt to avoid being pulled off balance. He then reached for the white sword and pulled it from its scabbard.
"Hmph, not bad." He admitted aloud, only to come at the toad with even more ferocity. Rash gripped the hilt of the sword he'd wrestled from Ganondorf and the two fighters clashed. They swung and slashed at one another, usually able to guard or parry the other's attacks. Even after several moments, the most they managed was to occasionally nick each other for minimal damage. But Ganondorf began to notice something. Rash's attacks were ever slightly more sluggish than his own. This was likely the work of the heavy infusion giving the weapon a heavier weight than its appearance let on. And at one point Ganondorf's attack missed but managed to split a center pillar like a hatchet splitting a log. Good, that meant the infusion was indeed working, and was primarily the thing he was testing. Now he just needed to win this match.
Thankfully for the Gerudo, he was more trained and experienced swordsman than the toad was. That allowed Ganondorf to parry an incoming attack with an upward slash to knock the sword out of Rash's grip. Then Ganondorf dropped his own sword and decided to settle this man-to-toad. He lunged at Rash with a charged up Warlock Punch, who responded in kind with an enlarged fist of his own. It was a seemingly epic clash, but only one of them bore the mighty Triforce of Power. And as such, Rash was sent sprawling into the pit's wall where he was winded and looking out for the count.
Ganondorf knelt down and used the Dwarven Flask on his opponent as he had been instructed earlier. He could hear the announcer's booming voice, "Good people, we have a winner. All hail... Ganondorf!" but after gathering his two swords from where they lay, Ganondorf surprisingly offered a thumbs down to indicate he was retiring and choosing not to continue on. He only really wanted to test out the strength of his upgraded swords, and was able to get satisfactory results from fighting Rash. He had no other reason to drag out his time here.
"And that's all there is to it." the Gerudo told Rubick as he passed him by on the way out, "Hope your battles go just as well. I'm going to go on ahead and look for the others. I'm sure we'll catch up a bit later." and with that the King of Evil collected his winnings and made for the ladder that would take him back to the Amusement Park.
Level 11 Blazermate (Holding 2 level up) - (75/110) Location: Sector 05 Seiran Word Count: Less than 750
While her plan with Goldlewis didn't finish off the bulky Other, it did make it panic and maim itself to defend itself with surrounding itself with electrified water. Of course this also exploited the fact that almost none in their group had ranged ways of dealing with these things. But either way, it just sat there zapping whatever got near it with electricity so it wasn't really an issue at the moment unlike the sneaky one.
Midna had set the area on fire as she shot handfuls of sand at the sneaky one as Blazermate's drone healed everyone. Seeing as the Wirey Other wasn't doing anything of note besides guarding, Blazermate went over to heal that group, her drone aiding her as she healed up the group. She'd have to regather her abilities, but all the healing and overhealing did almost give her another projectile shield.
Seeing as there were a ton of people on the Sneaky other, and yet it still hadn't gone down, Blazermate saw an opportunity. She wouldn't be nearby it for long, but she zoomed overhead it and slammed her shield down onto it in order to bite it, before retreating with a stunning screech as it tried to retaliate, having an awful time as everyone else dealt with it. Maybe she'd get a zombie out of it to deal with the other creature...
Level 4 Susie - (34/40) - (Holding 1 level up) Location: Sector 7 Slums Word Count: Less than 750
Giovanna wasn't a huge fan of Susie's plan. Well, what was she going to do anyway? They had absolutely no leads and were just 'spinning their wheels' so why not get a bit of a side benefit as well? Considering these robots are a problem, it was obvious the tech of Midgar was lacking, but perhaps she could make something useful out of it. With that in mind, Susie in her business suit revved it up before dashing it at the robots that seemed to be what the other bots used to store scrap, plowing into them with the suit's arms spinning like sawblades and crippling them after looping around to hit them again. This also had the effect of smacking or destroying any of the smaller robots that got in her way.
With the scrap collector robots having been dealt with, Susie swapped to her rocket launchers to handle the other robots that approached her, but for the most part her initial charge had done a huge amount of damage to them and she didn't have too much to clean up. And with the scrap hoarder robots disabled, Susie began to look at what they had, both in the means of scrap, and in the means of intelligence. Considering they were part of the robot's means of logistics, they probably had some interesting information on them.
Karin Level 5: 39/50 Location: Seiran Tunnels Word Count: itty Points Gained: 1 New EXP Balance---
Karin Level 5: 40/50
Karin’s gloves were only a little bit on fire after plunging them and her otherwise bare arms against the flaming midsection of a massive beast…but it was nothing she couldn’t handle! It was hardly hot or dangerous enough to count as an active attack. But she wouldn’t want it rolling on top of her, either.
Her intrusion seemed to finally enrage the creature and it began to wildly thrash around, streaming oil everywhere. A human opponent doing the same thing would be an easy victory, but such an unwieldy, massive creature was unpredictable. If Karin misstepped, she could take steaming oil to the face.
But she wasn’t going to just sit here and let this thing have a tantrum. Even in its wild thrashing, attacking at max power and in as many directions as possible had a pattern! Her inexperienced eyes would just have to find it on a monstrous body.
Midna would clear the way, as her magic sand doused flame and her blunt objects battered the beast at regular intervals.
”I’m getting behind it!”
”Hah!” Picking her moment, Karin spent a gathered Super meter on an enhanced version of her dash. She zipped around the legs and under the strikes of the Slippy. Now on the opposite side of the creature, she planted her foot and turned into a hard stop, throwing all of her momentum into her front arm. She struck up into the rear flank of the creature, and with a crunch, looked to shunt it forward and onto its face. Even for a moment! Hopefully it would allow Geralt, the monster hunter, to put a bow on the situation he’s been stuck in much too long for Karin’s liking.
While the meeting at the Soul Sanctum was ongoing, Omori finally found somewhere to clear up some space in his inventory. Though it did take him a moment to decide what to part with. He had a lot of weapons now, and that was discounting his trusty knife. Sunny might need something to defend himself with, so he decided to keep the combat knife. The boltok pistol was doing good for him, even if ammunition is an obvious concern. Luckily he picked up some more during sewer recon. Revolver might be worth something, but it felt interesting wielding a sword (or at least something along those lines). He had yet to see how the Boxing Glove would fair, so that leaves:
- Dance Instructions - Endless Summer Life Preserver (x2) - Serrated Knife - Machete and Pistol
Amount Earned: 820 Geo
Surprisingly, not a bad payout! Maybe he could’ve sold more of his collection of weapons, but eh, maybe someone would need one in a pinch. Now, what to do with this money…
There was an amusement park nearby…
Among the colorful and whimsical atmosphere of the amusement park did the black-and-white color scheme of the boy stick out. He could be seen stopping on occasion at various game booths to test his skill and luck. Definitely not cause he wanted some of the prizes! Though with how tightly he held the stuffed animals in his arms, maybe he kinda did? Omori stopped short in front of one of the roller coasters, dampened by the endless rain. He didn’t want to get his plushies drenched, but maybe it’d be fun to ride. Right?
“Oh hey! Omori!”
As the boy debated the merits of a roller coaster ride, and whether or not it would be worth a thorough soaking of both self and property, he heard a familiar woman’s voice shout his name. He turned to see none other than Ms Fortune trotting toward him beneath the colorful canopy of circus tents, a cheerful smile on her face as she waved hello. To think, it had been just over a day the two had known each other by now, and yet they’d already been through so much together, from the perilous river ride to the scrap with the pirates to the mad dash through Nyakuza Metro to the untold horrors of the Basement. So far though, it had never been just the two of them. Now seemed like a good time to rectify that.
“Heya, how’s it goin’? Saw ya from a mile away, you bein’ the only thing not done up in rainbows and polka dots.” She crossed her arms, grinning at the boy’s haul of stuffed animals. “Now there’s a nice sur-prize. Guess we both got busy. A bunch of us worked our way through this creepy place called the Soul Sanctum. It was kinda freaky, if I’m bein’ honest, but not as in-tents as the circus!” Nadia giggled to herself, tactfully and unabashedly reusing the pun she said with nobody around earlier.
Well, the unintentional tendency remained unintentional. ”I’d bet it was.” The corner of the boy’s mouth quirked up as he hugged his new plush collection close. Something was still wrapped around his neck, so perhaps he was trying to obscure it from view. ”What did you find out?”
“So here’s the deal. We found this wizard guy named Gallo, and he gave us the scoop. We’re definitely goin’ after that crappy li’l Consul who’s been pushin’ us around, P-brain. And to make it easy, we’re takin’ out his lackeys first. The one I’m lookin’ for in the Amusement Park is their top assassin, disguised as a redhead girl named Monica. I thought it’d be easy to find her ‘cause the people here are like ninety-nine percent monster, but I haven’t seen a damn thing.” The feral furrowed her brow, scratching her head. “Only human girl I saw was by the throwin’ knives, but she had, like, orange hair. Not red.” She glanced at Omori. “Wanna gimme a hand lookin’ around?”
An assassin? In here? Well, it’d be easy to slip through the crowds with how busy it is. Would anyone notice if someone conveniently disappeared? Omori nodded. He hadn’t been able to fight alongside just Nadia yet, so he was more than willing to help his friend out.
”You sure he didn’t mean like, ginger hair or something?” He had to ask. ”... Were you looking for literal red hair?”
For a moment Nadia stood there staring at Omori, her mouth slightly ajar as she blinked a few times. “...Oh.” Then she clapped both her head with wide eyes, squashing her ears beneath her palms. “Oh! Oh-oh-oh! That was- she- hot damn, I walked right by her and didn’t even think twice!” The feral’s arm flew out like a lunging snake and snatched Omori’s hand. “C’mon! We gotta get back there before she makes like a banana and splits!” With a big heave she pulled him off his feet and onto her shoulders for another impromptu piggyback ride, forcing him to hold on tight to his stuffies as she took off running through the crowded fairground.
After a few minutes, and a couple wrong turns, the two arrived at the knife-throwing game. This section of the circus actually hosted games that featured a number of throwing weapons, including axes and shuriken, as well as a couple popgun shooting galleries. Once she slid to a stop and deposited Omori on the ground, Nadia tried to calm herself down, despite her pounding heart. Gotta be subtle, she thought, taking a deep breath. With a killer assassin on the loose, and possibly in her direct vicinity, she couldn’t afford to be conspicuous. Gotta be stealthy. Come to think of it, though, her dynamic entrance had already drawn a couple stares. Had she already blown her cover? “Just act natural,” she hissed, as much to herself as to Omori. A cliff-faced nod was what he’d respond with.
She cleared her throat and put on the most genuinely excited expression she could muster. “See, there it is, just like I said!” she told Omori, hamming it up. “Just you wait. I’ll have more prizes than you before you know it!”
”And embarrass yourself even further? No way!” The boy would say in a faked amused jab against her.
Not the best setup in the world, since it not only made it look like she was competing with a little kid but also losing very badly, but she couldn’t back down now. Trying to salvage a little dignity, Nadia sauntered up to the throwing knife game and plonked down some Geo. Soon she was hurling dagger after dagger at the big painted target on the wooden backstop and…well, she wasn’t great. At least half of the knives didn’t even stick in the target, but bonked against the surface and dropped down into the moss. Those that did lodge in the wood seldom did so anywhere near the bulls-eye. As the game went on, Nadia’s groans got louder and louder. For some reason she thought that as a rogue she’d have a natural knack for knives, but as it turned out, knife-throwing was a skill that demanded as much cultivation as any other, and for a feral who fought mostly with her claws and sometimes with a sword that skill didn’t come easily.
Doggedly unwilling to admit defeat, Nadia kept at it. She also kept an eye out, though, and in the course of her repeated attempts to ace the knife-throwing game, she took note of several bystanders in the area. Naturally most were monsters of some stripe and focused on their own friends, family, and diversion than the feral’s less-than-stellar performance, but whenever a human appeared in her periphery she feigned (or at least exaggerated) a show of disappointment with herself to catch a glimpse of said person with her exasperated eye-roll. This meant that when a young woman in a fine bit still functional mage’s outfit of leather and pink cloth showed up, Nadia couldn’t help but take notice. This girl wore a cape as crimson as her eyes and short, tomboyish hair, and though hers was a pretty face, she tarnished it with an ugly expression: a derisive, condescending smirk. Whenever one of Nadia’s thrown daggers fell short, went wide, or bounced hilt-first off the target, she let out a corresponding titter or giggle, not even bothering to stifle it. Her schadenfreude rubbed Nadia the wrong way, and after a minute or so of this, she couldn’t stand it any more.
The cat burglar turned to the scoffer and gave a resigned shrug. “‘Knife’ to meet you? I’m glad someone’s havin’ a good time, at least. You gonna stand there snickerin’ all day?”
“Depends on how long you’re planning to do this, I guess!” Unabashed about her gleeful spectatorship, the other woman stepped forward into a normal range for conversation. “You’re doing it all wrong, you know. It’s honestly kind of pathetic.”
Nadia’s eyes narrowed. “What’s your problem? It’s just a game, ya know. No need to chew meowt.”
The mage chuckled, crossing her arms. “Hey, games are important. Anything can be fun if you turn it into a game.That’s why I’m always smiling.” She flashed Nadia her pearly whites, pointing them out for emphasis with double finger guns. “Still, you gotta play to win. No half-assing it, eh?”
Nadia threw her hands up in exasperation. “Well, how am I s’posed to do it, if you’re so smart?”
“Not too proud, huh? Weeeeell…I’ve got a minute or two. Guess I can give you a pointer. First of all, take that case off. It’s shifting is throwing off your balance.” Once Nadia propped her box cutters’ blade case against the stall, the stranger moved in. Without hesitation she laid hands on the Feral, guiding her shoulders, arms, and waist into the proper position. Nadia could feel the shorter woman pressing up against her back, a little too close for comfort, but she pursed her lips and allowed herself to be maneuvered. “Your technique is sloppy,” the stranger murmured, just a few inches away from Nadia’s twitching ear. “Ever hear the phrase ‘the more haste, the less speed’? Well, it’s true. Striking true with a blade is all about timing…and positioning.” After carefully turning the knife over in Nadia’s hand so that she held it by the blade rather than the hilt, she steered the cat burglar into a solid throwing stance. “You’ve gotta wait patiently for the perfect opportunity. Don’t rush it. ‘Cause at the end of the day, it’s the slow knife…”
Nadia suddenly jolted, paralyzed by pain, and her knife fell from her nerveless grasp. She tried to cry out, but her voice didn’t answer, only a dry, strangled gasp. Slowly she looked down to find a curved blade sprouting from between her ribs.
“...That cuts deepest.”
When Nadia tried looking over her shoulder, she found a devilish, sadistic grin on Monica’s face. Try as she might, the feral couldn’t speak, or muster the energy to move; her body was in shock. Only one thought filled her mind: that she’d been stabbed in the back. Again. Son of a bitch, she thought, gritting her teeth. On her a backstab like this wasn’t fatal, and her numbness meant she wasn’t going to black from the pain or anything, but it still hurt like hell. Her would-be assassin, however, no doubt expected her to die. “What, did you think I didn’t hear you asking around for a girl with red hair? Moron! Hurry up and die already,” Monica hissed. Nadia complied, letting out a convincing death rattle as her body went limp.
Monica withdrew her blade and stashed it in a flash, then immediately changed gears, projecting her voice. “You passed out again? Girl, you’ve gotta stop going ham on the beer tent. Coooome on, let’s get you somewhere to rest.” Slinging Nadia’s arm over her shoulder, Monica dragged her away from the game stalls as if supporting a half-conscious tippler, chatting cheerfully the whole time. “Seriously, I know you get depressed down here away from the sun what with all the rain, but you’ve gotta lay off the booze! One of these days you’re gonna get ten pints deep, blunder straight into a canal, and who’s gonna help you then? Not me, that’s who! Man, how’d you even get sloshed this fast? It isn’t even lunchtime yet! And why…the fuck...are you…so heavy!?”
The sneak attack against Nadia hadn’t gone unnoticed by Omori. But he knew she’d be fine, it’d take more than a stab to keep her down. Quietly, he pursued the two, keeping at a distance and using his prizes to obscure his face.
By the time Monica reached the ferris wheel, her muscles were sore, her hair was bedraggled, and her face was shiny with sweat. While dragging Nadia over she’d found out that she weighed almost three times as much as she looked, which was a lot of dead weight for a 5’2” assassin to handle. With a gasp she plopped Nadia down on a bench in the little dining pavilion, then thrust bottle after empty bottle into her hands to make it look as if she’d passed out. Nobody around seemed to notice anything wrong the whole time. “Whew!” Monica breathed, wiping her brow as she stood up straight. It would be hours before someone realized that this catgirl had been sitting there a little too long. “That was fun, eh? Minus the whole you secretly being like four hundred pounds or something. Let’s do it again sometime.” She giggled as she turned to go. “Oh wait, you’re dead.”
“Dead wrong!” Springing from the bench, Nadia smashed the bottle she’d been given against the back of Monica’s head, dropping her to the floor. The sudden sound of shattered glass caused every monster within a few dozen yards to rubberneck in surprise at the source of the noise. Nadia detached her arm and waved it around, spraying blood everywhere. “Aaaaaagh, help!” she cried, the visual part of her display more than making up for her lackluster acting. “My arm! My poor arm! There’s a killer on the loose, everyone run!”
A chorus of screams rang out as parents took flight with their traumatized children. Chortling, Nadia stuck her arm back on and turned to face Monica as she stood to her feet, holding her aching noggin. “D’you know how hard it was not to bust out laughin’ while you were sweatin’ your ass off carryin’ me here? Real fureakin’ hard!” She bared her fangs and, with her blades back at the throwing games, sharpened her claws. “Compared to that, a little payback’s gonna be a walk in the amusement park! Now that the jig’s up, why doncha show me your true face, Kronya?”
The mage’s pained grimace twisted into a malicious grin. “Ooh, this kitty’s got claws. Lemme guess, nine lives?” She shimmered as her glamor dispelled, revealing a deathly-pale harlequin in scant black leather. Orange, Nadia realized, looking at the assassin’s hair. As Kronya crouched down into a stance, ready to pounce, the odd straps that dangled from her waist arched like scorpion tails as if alive. Her dagger whirled into her hand, and she even went as far as to lick the blade. “I sure hope so. That’s a lotta lives to murder my way through!”
“Come and get ‘em then, pasty!”
Welp. It seems like their target forgot somebody! Slipping through the fearful-crowd-in-flight Omori quickly took cover behind a table, reloading his pistol and opening fire on Kronya while she was distracted.
For the second time in as many minutes Kronya suffered a surprise hit to the back, and like any good shot this one did a lot more damage with a lot less volume than the bottle. “Agh!” the assassin gasped through clenched teeth, gripping the wound that Omori’s bullet sliced through her thigh. In a flash a fan of knives flew in his direction, hurled with frightening speed and accuracy. “You miserable insect-!”
”Tch!" Omori was forced to duck back under cover and hope the table could take a stabbing or two. Right. Should’ve expected taking the ranged approach wouldn’t be easy.
She then whirled to face Nadia again, but with the swift-footed feral already just feet away, she could do much more than throw her hands up for protection as her enemy struck her with a headlong tackle. The moment her noggin made contact, with her ears hardened into spikes, she unleashed her pent-up blood pressure to launch her head like a drill. Propelled like a rocket by the bloody stream, it pushed Kronya back, her feet carving furrows through the mossy grass. When its blood loss brought its momentum -not to mention Nadia’s train of thought- to a halt she ended with a sneeze to send her head flying back before Kronya could turn her blade on it. Her body caught her head as she ran in again and rolled it like a bowling ball. The assassin flipped neatly over the low projectile and met Nadia’s claws with her blade in a loud, metallic clash, three times in quick succession.
Aiming to punish her foe’s next whiff with a knockdown, Kronya went low for a spinning leg sweep, but Nadia jumped up to perform an overhead axe kick. This Kronya dodged in turn, dashing backward with almost spider-like speed and fluidity. As the cat burglar landed her foe lunged forward with a vicious revolving slash at her belly, her dagger in a reverse grip, only for Nadia to separate at her lateral midriff scar and pop her upper body into the air. Before she could come down with a curtain-shredder claw slash Kronya delivered a door-buster kick right to the pelvis that bowled the feral’s lower half over, causing her to flinch. When her torso landed her foe double-handed her blade to plunge it down into the stump of her neck, but at that point Nadia’s head scooted in from behind and knocked Kronya’s legs out from under her, toppling her long enough for the feral to put herself back together. They leaped up at the same time and met with a terrific trade, triple-tail slam versus Limber Up, that sent both flying backward, Kronya in a corkscrew launch and Nadia with a ground bounce.
Laying on the moss where she’d fallen, Nadia propped her head up on one arm with a cheeky grin. “If you’re a killer clown, shouldn’tcha go for the juggler?”
Kronya treated her to a scowl as she pushed off the ground. “Vile worm. Your end is near!”
With Kronya’s special dagger Athame both boosting her attack and speed as well as lowering Nadia’s defense, these two seemed fairly well matched, the former with the edge in lethality and the latter more versatile. That meant things could go either way, unless the feral received a helping hand.
He just had to wait for the right moment.
Swapping out his gun for one of his knives, Omori rushed in to take a stab at Kronya while Nadia could still stall her.
“Omori!” Nadia yowled, suddenly panicked. The boy clearly meant to capitalize on what looked like an opening, but the moment Kronya hopped back up he’d be dead meat. She was faster, stronger, and longer-ranged, not to mention a trained assassin with who knew how many kills under her belt. Taking aim, Nadia fired off her left forearm in a spurt of blood, still attached by stretched-out muscle fiber. As Omori drew close, Kronya leaped up from the ground like a coiled serpent, Athame poised to rake across his throat. Instead her well-honed blade neatly took the head off one of Omori’s new stuffed animals as Nadia contracted her arm muscles to bodily yank him out of harm’s way by the wrist. A disappointed sigh escaped Kronya as she saw the plush elephant’s severed head flew through the air, knowing that the stuffing she’d scattered could’ve been blood.
Then her attention snapped to Nadia as she summoned her monstrous Striker Idea. Its veiny, milk-white heads split open to assail Kronya with a swarm of grasping tongues, and though the nightmare succeeded in grappling her, the assassin sliced through the tongues binding her just as quickly. Before Idea could slam her into the ground she sailed away, tore through the striped tent canopy that hung over the dining pavilion, and disappeared into the rainy dark.
Nadia knew this wasn’t over. After spitting out blood from the fresh cuts on her tongue courtesy of Idea’s damage transfer, she jogged over to Omori. “I know ya wanna help, little guy, but you gotta understand. This gal’s crazy, but after gettin’ a taste of what she can do, I can tell ya she’s crazy good at what she does. If you fight her straight-up you’re gonna die. I appreciate the help, but you gotta leave the cuttin’ to me, ‘kay?”
The only response Nadia would get was the genuine stunned silence of the boy. Omori’s widened eyes stared at the innocent plus life taken too soon, its body and head. That could’ve been him. But he had let that poor elephant take the hit for him.
It was clear enough. This woman needs to go. But Nadia had a point, rushing in would be a deathwish. ”Keep my distance. Right.” He nodded.
“Nooo, what? You just gonna let that airhead tell ya what to do like that?” Out from between two nearby fair attractions, Kronya strutted back into view. Her hair was a little mussed and her white skin shined from the rain, but she seemed to be in good spirits. She twirled Athame in one hand, as she withdrew another fan of dangers to clutch between the fingers of the other. “C’mon, you almost had me. One more try can’t hurt, right?”
“Gotta get through me first!” Revving her forearms like drills, Nadia charged toward her to kick off round two. With Kronya boxed in on either side, her room to dodge was limited, and the feral had a great idea. In the middle of her sprint she jumped up and shot off both legs in a blood-propelled dropkick. Kronya dodged it easily by crouching and raised her hand to hurl her fan of daggers at her opponent when she fell, but Nadia contracted her muscle fibers like rubber bands, snapping her at high speed toward her feet. “Hey, Pasty!” Before the assassin realized what was happening Nadia slammed into her head. “Take a seat!” Like a bear trap her thighs closed around Kronya’s neck in a high-pressure headlock, and her momentum promptly carried both to the ground in a brutal slam, the killer’s head nearly flattened beneath her opponent’s weight. “Guess you were right when you said my end is near!” Nadia cackled. “No if’s, and’s, or butts!”
Kronya replied by curling up and hammering the back of the feral’s head with her knee. “Me-OWCH!” she yelped, rolling off her opponent and to her feet. Nadia turned with a roundhouse kick only for her foe to catch the leg against her ribs, and the next second Athame sliced upward. She cut through the scar tissue around the calf’s separation point like butter to easily part foot from leg, then hurled the limb behind her. Suddenly off balance, Nadia hopped back on one leg and then shot off her right arm to try and slug Kronya in the face. After narrowly dodging it the assassin snipped off the connective fiber with another upward slash, then pivoted like a ballerina to hurl her fan of daggers straight into Nadia’s torso. “Damn it!” she gasped. Before she knew it Kronya was in the air, Athame descending like an eagle’s talon in a lethal overhead stab. With no other options the feral fell back onto the ground, spending even more blood to replace her lost limbs with Copycat prosthetics, and bet everything on her reversal Fiber Upper.
Luckily for her, Kronya had been too focused on the kill to try and bait anything out. She took this double-kick straight to the gut, and with a victorious yowl Nadia snapped up to her to combo off the reversal. She struck with the one-two kicks of Footloose followed up by a tail-slap backflip and finally Claws for Alarm to spike Kronya back down. The assassin slammed into the Test of Strength minigame and sent the puck shooting about halfway up the tower. Though stunned by the impact, Kronya managed to look up in time to see Nadia hurl down a level one Purrge of Vengeance, and in a blink she dodged out of the way. In the watery blast that ensued the high striker’s puck flew all the way to the top, triggering a cacophony of flashing lights and sounds.
Nadia landed as the residual water washed over the area, looking this way and that. She’d lost sight of her opponent before the explosion went off and she couldn’t hear her thanks to that racket, either. A moment later, though, the feral had her answer; a black, white, and orange blur zoomed out from the shadows. Nadia tried to block, only for Kronya to dash right past -or maybe through?- her, those magic straps that trailed behind her wrapping around the feral’s limbs. The cat burglar found herself yanked off her feet, hurled over Kronya’s head, and straight into the house of mirrors. “Ow, ow, ow!” she yowled as she smashed through mirror after mirror, finally sliding to a stop with a bunch of new cuts. Wincing, she got into a crouch and called upon her cultist striker to heal her up while she surveyed her surroundings. She’d ended up inside a maze of reflection, lit by round lights from above. Everywhere she looked she saw more Nadias, many of them distorted by the mirrors’ contours into all manner of wacky shapes. “Ugh,” she moaned. “Well, at least I’m in good company for a change.”
A sinister chuckle reoriented her to the task at hand, and when she saw Kronya appear she lashed out with a lunging slash, only for her claws to scrape off yet another mirror. “Uh oh. Which one’s the real me?” she heard the Agarthan taunt. “Better figure it out before I getcha in the ribs again, heeheehee.” Nadia whirled around, peering at the spots where the mirrors met their frames to try and figure out which of the Kronyas around her wasn’t a reflection, but before she could a fan of daggers flew her way. Nadia rushed to block them, then launched her head like a cannonball in the direction the knives came from, but her forehead just bounced off another mirror. As her noggin headed home, she heard Kronya again. “I just love that you’ve got so much blood to spill, but I’ve gotta wonder. If I cut your heart, can I kill you for real? I guess there’s only one way to find out!”
Once she popped her head back on Nadia’s left eye sparked blue. “Y’know, I’m gettin’ real tide of this.” Suddenly, a beam of pure liquid Hydro surged out from her eyes, pulverizing every mirror it plowed into as Nadia span her head like a sprinkler. “CAT-ARAAAACT!”
When the torrent tied down, Nadia could see clearly through the labyrinth of broken glass and cracked reflections to where Kronya hunkered down, covered in new scratches and trying to protect her face from any more shards. As she got to her feet the feral summoned a gang of three Copycats, and together they charged forth. Teeth gritted, Kronya whirled to face them, her daggers ready as she took the doppelgangers on. They dashed or leaped in, one after another, with overhead axe kicks, low slides, or rushdown swipes. Athame carved into their watery forms again and again, but this strategy countered her weapon of choice, and the cuts and bruises they inflicted began to pile up. “Water you waitin’ for?” Nadia taunted, circling around the action. “I thoughtcha wanted to see more of me!”
Suddenly she dashed into melee range, stopping inches from Kronya’s face. “Boo!” she jeered, making the Agarthan flinch. Enraged, she thrust her dagger at Nadia’s face, but she’d already bent low with Hand in Hand. With a thief’s dexterity she snatched Athame right out of Kronya’s hand, then drove an elbow into her gut that sent her staggering backward, winded. That gave the three Copycats all the time they needed to jump in together and perform a triple Outtake all at the same time. With a wail Kronya hurtled straight through the wall and out of the house of mirrors to roll along the moss.
Nadia stepped outside, reabsorbing her Copycats in the process. “I’ll give ya li’l credit,” the feral grinned at her, twirling her new blade. “Your knife skills were cuttin’-edge. But in the end, this kitty’s just a cut above.” She leveled Athame’s end at her exhausted opponent’s face. “Get the point?”
“Worthless scum. Enough the damn puns!” Kronya growled. Refraining from a low blow, Nadia watched as her opponent pushed herself to her feet. A dim black aura seemed to surround her, and her eyes shone a more vivid red. “I’m not done yet. Not with Desperation on the table. Now the first strike is mine, no matter what. Come at me, if you dare!”
Heaving a sigh, Nadia let her shoulders sag down. “That sounds rough.” Sticking Athame into her belt, she pulled out the Bait Launcher. “Think I’ll de-fur this to a purrfessional.”
Foom. A prime stack plopped down on the moss a couple feet in front of Kronya. She snickered, producing two knife fans like claws of her own. “A bad joke, even by your abysmal standards. The only dead meat here…” With a manic laugh she hurled her knives. “Is you!”
Her daggers stopped short as they lodged into the belly of a tiger that poofed into existence in front of her. She froze, watching in horror as the tiger looked down at its perforated middle, then back at her. “S-Solon!” she cried out. “Help!”
But no help came.
A few moments later, Nadia stooped to collect Kronya’s spirit. Fusion with such a skilled assassin seemed very tempting, but no, not with a personality like that on her. Plus her whole aesthetic would clash big-time. Still, maybe there was a way to get around an all-encompassing change. For now though, she just pocketed the spirit. “Pain in the ass,” she sighed, turning to go. “If you’ve got nothin’ knife to say, ya shouldn’t say anythin’ at all.” She set off at a brisk pace, needing to hunt down a couple things and split before the mermaid corps arrived.
At some point, the boy had lost sight of the two. As much as he intended to back Nadia up, the feral more than proved she had it covered. So, he had doubled back to the knife throwing game to look for the blade case she left behind. Carefully holding it in one hand, he went to reunite it with his feline friend.
…It really sucked not being able to do much.
As if she’d rung a bell for him, Nadia spotted the first ‘thing’ on her list. “Omori! There you are!” she called, glad to see that he’d given the deadly knife fight a wide berth. As a former child herself, she knew just how little kids liked being told what to do. When he offered her the box cutter blade case, she was genuinely touched. “For me? Aw, you shouldn’t have!” By now, the chaos had died down and she’d cleared the disaster area, so things were starting to return to normal in the Amusement Park. After strapping the case back on, Nadia tousled Omori’s hair. “Thanks, buddy. Tell ya what, since that con-knife-in’ assassin girl did a number on your li’l friend, why don’t I buy ya a cotton candy or somethin’?” She put her hands in her pockets and a big grin on her face.
Omori had opened his mouth to speak, but after Nadia offered to get him some cotton candy, he simply breathed out a sigh of relief. ”Sounds good.” He smiled.
”So I guess you got her?” He’d quietly ask.
“Uh-huh,” Nadia replied, choosing not to go into any more detail. Even if her target had been a piece of work, ending another human’s life -even indirectly- felt pretty bad. Better to put that behind her, and focus on a brighter future ahead with an indelible smile. She set her sights on the fairground’s other dining hotspot, far enough from the chaos that its stalls of turkey legs and funnel cakes were totally untouched. Y’know, it’s gettin’ to be lunchtime,” she said, barely suppressing a giggle at her upcoming pun. “I’ll be frank: it’s been ages since I’ve had a good coney.”
Midgar- Seiran, Abandoned Subway- Overgrown Transfer
Lvl 9 (184/90) -> (185/90)
Word Count: 236 words
Between Blazermate's little flying contraption, the Judicator's healing (even if he took a few hits through the oversized thing), and his Swallow, Geralt was...doing well enough, let's go with. He was still achey, but it was quite a bit better than the pain he was in when that thing first launched him across the damn place. Midna and Karin were able to help as well, the Princess dousing the flames and launching projectiles at the monster, while Karin took a much more direct assault against the Slippy Chinery. As it began thrashing wildly about, Geralt put a bit more distance between himself and the thing, watching it carefully as the others took its attention for a moment.
Karin came back in after Midna's projectile volley, dashing under its legs and striking a devastating blow into the Slippy Chinery's hindflank, destabilizing the monster and sending it stumbling forward. Geralt charged, stabbing his silver sword into the Other's skull, and stepped back, leaving the blade inside as his hand made the Sign of Aard, launching a cone of force into the creature's skull, but most importantly, the hilt of the sword, and the blade buried itself even deeper into the creature, which began to dissolve into ash.
Picking up his weapon, he turned to the other monster, watching as Goldlewis and Blazermate fought it, and taking a deep breath. "Ow. Fuck." Yep, his ribs still hurt like hell.
Valley of Ruin
Lvl 2 (6/20) -> Lvl 2 (8/20)
Word Count: 831 words
Well, that went...poorly. Susie was serious about just going out and grabbing a bunch of random scrap. Giovanna not-so-warmly reminded Susie of the reason they were here, which seemed to set the merchant guy who had joined them off, but with Pit behind her, the Little Pink Lady summoned her massive mecha suit and went to town on the robots. Meanwhile, he, Partitio and Giovanna were making their way all sneaky-like towards the crane. Zenkichi was nervously looking between Partitio and Giovanna, a bit surprised that he genuinely thought they were here for scrap. Had he not been obvious enough when he warned him that there would be a fight? Usually the scrap crews did their best to avoid getting into combat with the machines. Besides, they'd commandeered and sabotaged the salvage trucks. Any chance of them being ordinary scrap recovery team had died with that.
Still, Zenkichi didn't say anything to the man. Better not risk making anything worse with his big fat mouth. Besides, they were trying to be stealthy right now, and even a hushed conversation could get them caught. While not quite as speedy as Giovanna, he was able to keep up at a short distance as they approached the construction yard. The place was fairly well guarded, if lacking in actual defensive positions, but even though his official status as a Turk was no more, Zenkichi wasn't any less dangerous now than he was yesterday. He could handle a few Machines no problem. Noticing Giovanna's attention redirect skyward up the crane, Zenkichi's eyebrows rose as well. "Seriously?" He hissed, shaking his head. "Ugh, fine. You'd be better at getting up their than my old bones, anyway. I can cover you." Whispering carefully so he didn't get overheard, Zenkichi turned to Partitio. "Listen, I'm gonna make a distraction. Don't worry too much about me, and do whatever you can to take these things down while I've got their attention. After that, we'll figure out what's going on. Alright?" Not really waiting for much feedback, Zenkichi ran to another hiding spot, this one a bit further away from the crane.
Taking a deep breath, he summoned Valjean (and his Phantom Thief attire) and stood up, walking out into the open. The robots were quick to raise their weapons, but so was Wolf. A pair of shots took the first one out, and Wolf dodged to the side to avoid the incoming fire from the others that had reacted quickly. "Rakukaja!" Wolf shouted, the familiar feeling of a solid defense boost coursing through him. "Oh yeah!" He cheered, turning his aim to take down another pair of robots before aiming upwards, putting the rest of his cylinders into whichever Simians he could get his eyes on, not focusing any down, just trying to get their attention and get them out of Giovanna's way.
When his revolvers ran dry, Wolf quickly stowed the weapons and drew his greatsword, rushing in to attack. Bullets flattened against his body, the enhanced durability of a Persona-user and the boost granted by Rakukaja keeping the Detective from becoming a bullet-riddled corpse, and he cut down a pair of Assault Shooters that hadn't managed to get out of his way in time. A Rapid Shooter charged out from cover, making a semi-circular pattern to keep him away, but Wolf was quicker, launching himself with a burst of speed and tackling the Machine to the ground, following up with a brutal overhead swing, destroying the robot with a mighty crash.
Another burst of gunfire crashed against his back, and Wolf turned with a scowl, facing a small group of robots, all opening fire. Lifting his sword to try and block whatever he could, he snarled, "Valjean! Triple Down!" His Persona responded accordingly, raising and lashing out with its chains, mystical gunfire tearing through the robots and ripping them to pieces. Stashing his sword and drawing his guns to reload them, Wolf looked up in time to see the Simians final approach, having gotten quite a few of their attention. Replacing his revolvers with his sword once more, he beckoned hem towards him. Rakukaja had since worn off, but he still had a few tricks up his sleeve. Backing up as the monkey-like machines descended, he called out for his Persona again, "Megido!"
Some of the Simians, a little quicker than the Shooters, managed to get out of the way of the attack, though a few others found themselves fried by the Almigthy spell, and Wolf followed up with a vicious horizontal swing, taking out another of the Simians right off the bat. Its fellows charged, crying angrily and swiping, kicking, and punching at him, but Wolf stood resolute, slashing and crushing his way through the ones that had targeted him from on top of the crane, determined to keep as much attention off of Giovanna as possible, and steering clear of the monolithic structure she was planning to crush.
Word Count: 490 Level 5 Roxas: 22/50 Exp: 1 NEW EXP Balance--- 23/50
Roxas had been caught up in his thoughts and almost missed Pit's question entirely. He offered Pit a glum expression but did manage a response, "He... he didn't really say anything. And that's kind of the problem. He's supposed to be from the same world as I am, but he apparently doesn't remember a thing. Not even the name of someone important that he fought alongside there." The Keybearer shook his head and shrugged, "I just don't get it. Sure, I never met him directly, but he should have known me through So-" Roxas cut himself off and sighed, "Never mind, maybe Susie's right and Galeem has something to do with this."
Roxas went ahead and donned his Organization XIII coat. The tear from where he was blasted was still there, but at least the thing could still be used for the rain. So while Roxas looked around, he had the hood of the coat pulled as well. From a distance he might be mistaken for an Organization member, but thankfully the people present either knew better or never heard of the Organization in the first place. Unfortunately for Roxas, he didn't have much idea of what he should be looking for. He opened up a few suitcases and found what, to him, looked like junk. Beyond that, Roxas was having a hard time finding anything that could be considered interesting.
During the second truck ride, he had more time to think over his situation. Someone like Cloud not remembering him was one thing, but him not remembering Sora seemed like a different matter entirely. After all, for all intents and purposes Sora was the one that actually "mattered" in the grand scheme of things in back in their world, "It's still hard to wrap my around it..." Roxas mused aloud, "If someone from my world can't even remember Sora, then what does chance does a Nobody like me have?"
When they eventually stopped. Giovanna shot down the idea of salvaging scrap, emphasizing that saving human lives was more important. Roxas agreed with her on principle, but decided to try and come up with a compromise, "I get your point, but... you make it sound like we can't do both. Besides, we have to fund ourselves while we're here somehow, right?"
Like Partitio, Roxas had decided to follow after Giovanna. Between the low visibility of the weather, and low-profile nature of his Organization coat, Roxas had a surprisingly easy enough time avoiding being spotted. The drone thing that Giovanna eventually spied on looked semi-important, but the lack of action on her part meant she probably didn't have the know-how to deal with it. If only Tora or Susie were nearby.
Word Count: 404 Level 1 Mewtwo: 5/10 Exp: 1 NEW EXP Balance--- 6/10
As Consul L made her exit from the landing platform, something watched from above in a nook on the side of the ship. The semi-humanoid Pokemon kept his gazed fixed squarely on L. As she addressed the crowds, Mewtwo thought back to the events of earlier that morning. He, Dante, and the others had managed to really lay into the pair of Consuls. It even looked like Consul H had seemingly gone down with his carrier, although potentially at the cost of Dante going down with him. Unfortunately Mewtwo had been preoccupied with battling against L to really take in the details of what specifically had happened. But for his own part, Mewtwo had been able to hold his own against L and her beasts. So the Pokemon knew that the Consul was currently putting on a show and was actually a lot more injured than she was letting on.
In all honesty, Mewtwo was tempted to try another go at L. She was weakened, at least a few of her beasts were gone and so she was actually in a vulnerable position right now. The Pokemon clenched one of his hands into a fist, seriously considering just using Teleport to take her by surprise. But then again, he was also quite injured himself. If she threw even a single Poke Ball, or worse, an Ultra Ball? That could very well spell his doom. It was a stroke of blind luck that Mewtwo managed to spot what he thought looked like a familiar figure among the gathered crowds. The Monster Hunter? Was it really him? Mewtwo couldn't tell for certain. But if it was, then that meant the Seekers had some kind of presence here. Well that would certainly be a preferable option to trying to attack L alone.
With a heavy sigh, Mewtwo focused his gaze in the familiar figure's direction and used Teleport. The Pokemon vanished from his hiding spot, and moments later reappeared right next to whom he hoped was the Ace Cadet. <Need help... Alcamoth... it's...> but that was last thing Mewtwo managed to project into the figure's thoughts before he finally passed out from his own exhaustion and injuries.
Word Count: 1320 (+3 exp) Level: 3 - Total EXP: 129/30 Location: Dystopiascape - Valley of Ruin
It completely confused Pit when Susie's suggestion of taking down a few robo-animals seemed to spark some unpleasant conversation with the rest of the group. In his mind looking for signs of the machine attack and taking some parts back to Midgar both fell under the same scope of why they were out here in the first place: helping people. Giovanna seemed to be the serious agent type so her reaction, focused purely on the mission at hand, was understandable. Their new friend Partitio seemed to really take exception to the idea of scrap collecting, which confused the angel even more. Perhaps the misunderstanding on Pit's part was his assumption that Susie's plan was altruistic, while the other Seekers found it the opposite.
Well no matter what the cause was, Pit plainly stated his confusion, starting with of course, "Uh, I'm confused," and went from there.
"We're helping the people in the slums, right? And we stole their trucks they use to come get these robot pieces, so wouldn't it be nice to at least bring something back to them once we stop the machines?"
Bringing one or two of those boxes attached to the Shellwalkers back would surely be appreciated. After all, leave it to a robot to pick the best robot pieces. Plus, Roxas had the right idea that they could do both. Did it really matter if they got the scrap now or later? At this point the group began to split up, with Giovanna, Roxas and Partitio headed for the construction site and Susie revving up to take on the wild robots in the ruins. Looking back and forth between both options with his bow already drawn, Pit ultimately decided to go with Susie as he originally intended.
"We'll grab some souvenirs for the Midgardians and meet you guys over there!" he said to the backs of Giovanna and those headed with her before skipping on toward the ruins. I can definitely beat up a crab and a crocodile, and probably a hippo!
Susie started things off with a bang, tearing away from Pit in her mecha to try bulldoze her way through everything straight to her objective. At first, Pit assumed that taking these particular machines on would be a piece of cake - however once Susie started her attack, the animals began to frenzy. It wasn't clear to Pit if they were actually protecting the Shellwalkers or if they were just retaliating against the danger Susie imposed on them, but what was clear to him was that the battle wouldn't go as easily as he'd thought it would.
Might be a little late to help clearing out that neighborhood, he thought, dashing forward to help Susie out. Above and around the flooded ruin the metallic calls of the primate-like robots sounded off as they moved to surround Susie, but once they noticed her angelic reinforcement they swung down to separate the two Seekers.
A quick deploy of the Orbitar shield protected Pit from the first Clamberjaw bodily throwing itself at him. It's claws scrabbled on the hard-light, and it flipped over the shield to land behind him with four of the ape-bots still in front. Since he could go no further without breaking through the machine group, Pit twirled his bow in hand and took a fighting stance.
"Any chance you'll let me pass if I find some bananas for you?"
The answer was a resounding "no." The Clamberjaws circled, and those that didn't pounce at Pit waited their turn, putting constant pressure on the angel as he blocked, parried, and dodged. They weren't just quick, they were strong too - and their claws were long enough to nick and cut even if he avoided the brunt of their slashes.
But Pit was a battle master in his own right, and he could turn his defense into offense at a moment's notice. He blocked one swipe and spun his blade, gouging the circuitry of the attacking robot's arms. Another came at him with intent to bite, only catching one half sword in its powerful jaws. Whoa, if this was a normal weapon it'd be crushed! With the other sword free Pit jammed it into the monkey's chest plate, making it screech and back off. He pursued, eager to start taking the robots down both so that they didn't have such a numbers advantage, and so he could make sure Susie was doing alright.
With aggressive swordplay and well-timed shields to protect his back while he attacked, the first Clamberjaw went down.
"Who's next?" Pit said, eyeing the rest of the troop. They hung back, so Pit switched tactics and began to target the, with his arrows. The light arrows smashed against their metal hides until the Clamberjaws started dashing around again. They were far too agile to hit every time, even with the arrows' ability to curve. Worse still, the monkeys had some ranged attacks of their own - the battlefield in Pit's area became a hailstorm of metal and stone debris as the machines scooped up whatever they had available with their tails and pelted Pit, some projectiles even lit on fire despite the rain. Light arrows sailed through the air in response. "Cut it out!"
After a certain point even the Clamberjaws realized they couldn't actually beat Pit in a ranged battle like this. Whatever managed to hit him the angel only shrugged off, and his arrows were more accurate than their fireballs. He'd started targeting the sparkers on their shoulders once a lucky shot smashed into one and caused an electric discharge that shocked the robot it was attached to. The most daring of their number jumped high into the air and came down towards Pit with it's claws balled into fists. He leapt up and out of the way as the machine struck the ground, completely crushing the rock beneath it. Having landed on the top of a ruined wall nearby, Pit pushed off from his spot to get back into melee combat just as the previously unseen sacs on either side of the Clamberjaw's face swelled up. It let out an ear-rending screech, sending Pit careening to the ground with his ears ringing.
What the heck...? He winced as soon as he stood, his head pounding, and not a moment later the robot slammed him back into the wall. It would take more than that to make Pit go down for the count though. Pit jammed his bow blade into the robo-ape's shoulder and sprang over it, reversing their positions. The Upperdash Arm made an appearance to smash straight into the machine, sending it crashing into the same wall Pit had been thrown into. Unable to withstand all the abuse the ruin wall collapsed, crushing the Clamberjaw underneath.
"Right back at ya, heh- huh?" Large metal claws closed around Pit, squishing his arms and wings to his sides. He didn't even have time to try and struggle free before the Clamberjaw hurled him into the air. Maybe it expected the angel to be easy pickings once airborne, but even without the power of flight Pit was still a winged creature.
"As if I'd lose in an Air Battle!" he said, righting himself with a push of his wings against the sky. Without Palutena's power it was less an air battle and more protecting himself as he fell back down to earth. The three remaining Clamberjaws stood up to all spit burning debris at their target, and Pit matched them with his bow reconnected and as many light arrows as he could shoot. Out of nine fireballs only two avoided being blasted apart in midair, one cuffing Pit's firing arm and the other sure to leave a bruise where it struck his chest. Once he landed back on the ground Pit patted the embers off of him. Owww. Okay, this is definitely gonna take longer than I thought... The fight was still on.
Word Count: 927 (+2 exp) Level: 9 - Total EXP: 199/90 Location: Edinburgh MagicaPolis
With the morning came debriefing the night's events - and, of course, breakfast. The Ace Cadet would never skip a meal if he could help it, which included today despite the heavy atmosphere in the Seekers' corner of the restaurant. In between plates he filled the others in on what he'd found last night, which hadn't been anything but random ambling bones. It turned out that no one had found a clue towards Linkle's whereabouts, even when she'd been right under their noses. The Noumenon? Why would she show up there? He thought, eyebrows pinched together. That she showed up at such a conspicuous place and tangled with a Consul...
"Do you think she's looking for us?" the hunter questioned, a hopeful note to his voice. Sinking further into the Skullgirl curse couldn't be something that Linkle wanted, so even if she'd abandoned Frisk and Albedo after saving them she must have realized that it was too much to handle on her own. "She could've heard about what happened earlier, and the police are probably passing around our descriptions, so... maybe she wanted to find us as much as we want to find her."
They'd know for sure once they actually reunited with the heroine. Albedo was right, they had to find her as soon as possible. The Cadet gave a resolute nod. No matter what came at them, they'd help her through whatever she was going through.
The news did not end there, as Big Band pointed out. When the detective showed them the cover page, the Cadet grew puzzled.
"War? On the Alcamoth?" Technically the Seekers and everyone at Smash City Alcamoth did want to "overthrow world leadership and destroy the world," but it was for the good of everyone. The entire world populace, save a handful, didn't even know what was really going on! "So they didn't just know where we were, they know where our base is too! Well let's give them a heads up that trouble is coming their way. Moogle?"
Yesterday when the Ace Cadet had stayed outside of the bank to summon one of those furry friends, it popped right up in front of him from thin air. It had hardly even taken a second to appear, but now nothing came. He tried again, and there was still nothing. The Alcamoth was full of strong, capable people, but...
"...I have a bad feeling about this." They had no way to contact the city, nor a way to get back there. The only thing they could do was continue their mission up here in the frozen north. Whether the newspaper announcement really was a trap to draw the Seekers out or not they had to get some idea of what was going on, so the Cadet seconded the plan of visiting the Aether Paradise. "Yeah, let's go." When they arrived it was indeed to a crowd. People pressed up against each other and the railings lining the lake that encircled the Aether Paradise. Within such a large amount of people, the Seekers would hopefully be invisible to those that sought to do them harm. They waited there - and waited, and waited. "She'd have her hands full if she actually went. She might not even come back," the Cadet whispered to the rest of his group. One Consul down, courtesy of the Alcamoth Mercenaries. There was still no response from a Moogle though, so he waited with the rest of the curious citizens of Edinburgh.
Consul L did eventually arrive, later than scheduled and hiding some injuries that a well trained eye could see through, but alive and allegedly triumphant. The Cadet clenched his jaw, fingers curling into fists. What did she mean Alcamoth was no more? She could have been lying, feigning victory after running with her tail between her legs. But if something had actually happened, what then? What would become of all the people there, and how would they let Nadia, Princess Peach, and all the others know it wasn't safe to go back after they were done with their own missions?
The hunter turned to Big Band and the rest of his group, prepared to tell them he thought they ought to pay Consul L a visit and find out what really happened before they took care of her themselves, but more news about Alcamoth came in an unexpected form. Suddenly there was a Pokémon right in front of him, whose distinct look and psychic communication was vaguely familiar to him. It was the person who'd helped run the war room during the Seekers' last meeting in Smash City and showed he and Sakura how to use the training rooms, and if he remembered correctly its name was—
The Cadet felt his stomach tighten as the words Mewtwo "spoke" actually sunk in. So something had happened, something awful. He caught the Pokémon as it drooped, with enough foresight to shed his coat and cover Mewtwo in it. He had no clue what had really happened, but Mewtwo stuck out more than most in a crowd, and who knew if one of the ship's crew might recognize him from Alcamoth even from all the way over there. This time when the Cadet looked to his companions, there was a whole host of emotions showing on his face.
"This is- He's one of us from Alcamoth," he tried to hurriedly explain. "I don't know how he got here but something really must have went down. I... let's take him back to Grammeowster's, it looks like he's really hurt!"
With a strategy in mind, the Seekers began the battle with the Spider in earnest. The Nopon and maid-robot, standing together before the giant war machine, might have seemed feeble and insignificant in comparison, but as long as they had one another they were never alone. In very short order their eight-legged opponent set the pace for the fight: pinning Tora and Poppi down on defense. While they could either avoid or outright tank the robot’s gunfire and laser-guided missiles, that ended up being about all they could do. The Spider alternated between long-ranged barrages and attempts to smash Tora beneath one of its legs, but despite the engineer’s best attempts to take turns of his own, his enemy effectively prevented counterattacks through a combination of massive size and proactive withdrawal. Unable to build up ether to use his all-important arts without physically hitting the machine, the pair couldn’t even begin to build up any momentum. Even if Poppi could do some damage by flying off on her own, she knew if she stopped channeling ether into them her Masterpon’s weapons would depower and he’d be a sitting duck with no barriers to protect him.
That put all the offense against the Spider in the hands of the Rust Crew. Though the borrowed salvage truck offered only poor acceleration and handling, Cain deftly wove between and around both the scenery and the Spider’s legs, giving his teammates as much time as they could to pound their enemy’s joints and underbelly with bullets. “Wish Rachel was here right about now!” Big Bo griped as he replaced his empty magazine, noting as he did the dwindling stockpile of ammunition in his hardcase. “A couple rockets to the gut would fix this bad boy right up!”
“We need backup,” Marshall agreed. His well-aimed shots sent sparks flying from the drive system on the Spider’s underside, but it just wasn’t enough, and after a moment Cain’s swerve around the wrecked remains of a gas station broke Marshall’s line of sight. “Steer us toward those two!” Risking a strafing run into the Spider’s line of fire, the Rust Crew drew close enough to Tora and Poppi to call out to them. “Hey! We’ve gotta lure this thing south to alert the others!”
“Roger!” Poppi called back. She pulled Tora up onto her back, where by clinging to her shoulders with his nub-arms he could still use his wings -and the Mech Arms they wielded- to protect them. With this method the duo began to lead the Spider on a dangerous chase back the way their truck originally came. The Rust Crew followed alongside the machine or in pursuit, wearing it down as best they could. When Big Bo’s ammo ran out, he swapped with Cain in the driver’s seat. A couple minutes after passing back by the crashed plane, which the Spider put a foot through with a callous stomp, a sudden blip rang out from a device on Poppi’s person. She reached down and pulled out the walkie-talkie Sakura had given her the day before. Someone was trying to reach her.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, not all the Seekers chose to back Giovanna up on her side mission. The secret agent felt as if she understood Susie’s behavior, as brashness often came hand-in-hand with self-motivation, but she didn’t quite get the nature of Partitio’s grievance. Was the team’s goal not to help the poor people of Midgar’s undercities survive in the hopes of reaching a better tomorrow, by eliminating the foes that threatened their lives today? Well, neither case really mattered to Giovanna. She was neither the Seekers’ team leader nor their public relations rep–just someone who got things done. Big groups weren’t her style, anyway.
Still, with neither a hacker to access the Prospector’s data deposit nor the numbers to assault it directly, she needed to come up with a different approach. Zenkichi offered to bait as many machines as he could away, with special emphasis on the Simians using the crane as their personal jungle gym. “Refreshingly professional,” she told him, and the simple plan was afoot. As the rain continued to pound the dilapidated neighborhood, Giovanna made her way to the crane and waited until the gunslinger got the Machines’ attention to climb. It was a long and arduous ascent, made all the more treacherous by the rain-slick rungs on the ladder, but minute by minute she neared the top. Not far from the crane’s base she spied massive pipes of steel beams encased in concrete probably meant at one point to be buried in the ground as sewer pipes, but which now lay stacked like fireplace logs by a half-excavated pit. If she could drop one on the data deposit, she reasoned, it would deal some serious damage and hopefully bring whatever these bots were planning to a grinding halt.
On the way up, however, the distant, echoed sounds of warfare reached her ears. Giovanna turned and, hanging by one hand as she shielded her eyes from the rain, spied chaos toward the north. The muzzle flares and sounds of gunfire, punctuated by the percussion of missiles, drew her attention to a massive mechanical arachnid a ways to the north. While she couldn’t make out its targets, she could make a pretty good guess. “Oh, brother,” she groaned, turning back to the ladder to pick up the pace. Once she reached the top of the crane, she slipped her walkie-talkie from her belt and dialed it in. “Tora? Poppi? Come in, this is Giovanna. What’s going on, over?”
After a moment she heard a reply. “Oh! I forgot we had this. Well, this is perfect! We’re fighting a huge robot spider. Us and the three soldier guys. We’re trying to lead it toward the rest of you. Can you give us a hand? Uh, over.”
Giovanna sighed. “Yeah, uh, we’ll do our best. I found a-!” She jumped as a smattering of bullets whizzed by her, crouching down behind the crane’s operation cabin. Way down below, the glow of a dozen pairs of red eyes confirmed that the machines had somehow sussed her out. Did they intercept my signal? she wondered, gritting her teeth. More worryingly, she could see that the Prospector had returned. It floated in front of the data deposit trying to access it. Giovanna’s eyes widened. Trying to cut and run? Forced to ignore the bullets sent up by the gunners on the ground, she jumped in the cabin and began working the controls. It took some trial and error, but she managed to send the hooks down to seize one of the heavy pipes.
Once again, however, noise from the north grabbed her attention. Tora, Poppi, and the Spider were getting close; she could clearly see them even with the rain. “Needing help soon!” Poppi’s voice came over the radio. “The robot stepped on the guy’s truck and sent it flying way farther than it should have! Tora and I have taken…ugh! …A lot of damage…!”
Giovanna glanced down at the Spider, then back at the data deposit. “Man,” she groaned. “It’s always something.” Turning on the walkie talkie, she yelled, “Bring it to the crane!” She then slammed down on the controls and raced out of the cabin. As the crane’s arm began to move down its corrugated metal catwalk through the rain and bullets. She leaped from its end to grab the metal cable with both hands, sliding down it as the elephantine contraption picked up speed. “This has got to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done,” she told Rei, to which the wolf spirit nodded, until finally the revolution of the crane’s swinging payload rammed the sewer pipe directly into the Spider’s left side like a runaway freight train. Giovanna jumped at the last second, and as she sailed through the deluge she watched the robot topple over, two of its left-side legs and half its abdomen totaled by the terrific impact.
Time seemed to slow down as energy built inside her. Her skin glowed green, her hair orange, and her eyes pure white. “Fear on the wind…!” she murmured as air built around her. “Tempestade!” Like cannonball she fired downward at a diagonal angle, screaming through the air to plow into the Spider’s drive system with a majestic divekick. It left a big dent, surrounded in crackling arcs of electricity, but it wasn’t enough. Giovanna bounced off, unharmed by any fall damage, and slid through the grass a short way only to hear the honk of a horn. She turned to see the Rust Crew’s truck barreling toward the Spider’s belly, with Poppi amping up its only redeeming characteristic (max speed) even further by pushing from the back with her thrusters. As its horn blared Giovanna cleared the way, and once Bo threw himself from the driver’s cab a final rocket-powered punch slammed the truck head-first onto the giant robot’s weak spot. KABOOOOOOOM! The ensuing explosion sent everyone within a thousand feet flying away, stunned by the shockwave, and when they finally looked back the Spider was no more.
“Woohoooooo!” Tora yelled, bouncing up and down. His bullet wounds were quickly fading away thanks to his out-of-combat healing, but he threw himself into Poppi’s arms for a massive hug anyway. “That so incredibly amazing! Tora and friends can do anything!”
With a weary laugh Giovanna crossed her arms. “I didn’t think that would work, honestly,” she admitted. “We just got lucky.” She narrowed her eyes at what remained of the Spider. “Also, using the truck for that? Not the best move. Now there’s just one for all eleven of us.”
“Way to rain on our parade,” Marshall joked. “We can just say the Spider destroyed it, which is pretty much true when you think about it.” After a series of high-fives and fistbumps all around. “I hate to be the one to say it, but as crazy as that was, I don’t think we’re any closer to stopping the Machine invasion.”
Cain shrugged. “One less giant war machine sounds like a win to me, monsieur.”
“Meh-meh-meh!” Tora piped up. “While up on building, Tora see long-neck steelypon near flooded spot with head like big radar dish! It might be way to tap into Machine communications, meh?”
“Worth a shot,” Giovanna told him, remembering the Prospector that by now had surely gotten away with all the data. “I have a feeling we don’t have a lot of time.
When Susie descended on the partially-collapsed flooded district of the ruined cityscape in single-minded pursuit of the Shellwalkers that trundled along the water’s edge, her approach did not go unnoticed. A nearby troop of Clamberjaws spotted her and set up a racket of raucous hollering like the baboons their designs aped. The disturbance alerted the Shellwalkers, which turned to see Susie flying in for a melee attack. As she homed in on one, the only one of the three with antennae, the machine she targeted turned to face her with its bell-shaped left claw upheld, and with a surge of electricity a hardlight wall sprang to life. When the Business Suit slammed into the energy shield it held, at least for a moment, during which the claw-shaped Lighting Gun on the Shellwalker’s right clew blasted Susie again and again. After a few seconds though, the shield shattered, and as it bulled through the machine got bowled over. The clamps holding its crate on its back shattered, and it fell to the ground.
A moment later though, the Shellwalker rose up. First it reached out to pick up its crate with its Lightning Gun claw, which it placed and held on its back. Then, as Susie came back around for another charge, its antennae lit up and the Shellwalker emitted a loud, angry metallic warble. Every machine lifeform in the vicinity received the command, and the battle began. Susie’s return charge came to a sudden stop against the hardlight shields of both other Shellwalkers, which grouped together to defend the first, and this time she lost momentum before the shields lost power. The two fanned out, swinging both claws in massive electrified hooks, slams, and explosions.
With a fearsome roar a Snapmaw burst from the nearby water and lunged toward Susie, clamping its jaw down on the Business Suit’s left arm. Chillwater began to pour from the sac on its throat, freezing the metal and making it more brittle, increasing damage dealt by up to 300%, before the chainsaw teeth in its maw began to rip and tear. Susie’s rockets took to the sky and even felled a couple Clamberjaws, but the machines returned fire with a vengeance. Another Snapmaw hauled itself from the water behind Susie a ways off and began to rain down arced shots of Chillwater from afar, and if forced out of melee range the Shellwalkers would add to the mix with electric shots, potentially paralyzing if too many of them hit. Worse still, the bloat of Widemaws then joined the fray. One spewed out a barrage of sludge coated in Purgewater, capable of increasing susceptibility to elemental attacks while disabling the sufferer’s own. Another sucked up a bunch of rocks with its vacuum to hurl a much larger, more damaging sludge bomb that bounced, leaving Purgewater puddles, before exploding on contact with its target. The last charged into melee range, its quad-jaw unhinged to clamp down and drill into whatever it could. Badly underestimated and very angry, these deranged machines posed a real threat individually; together, their durability, damage, and elemental onslaught spelled disaster.
Tracking down the Tallneck Tora spotted took a bit of time, but those fresh out of the fight with the Spider were happy for the chance to take a breather. Once they reached the towering, giraffe-shaped machine in a tree-ringed clearing, Tora found that it ignored them, so Poppi flew him up to the top to plug into its neural network. The others waited nearby, but only for a couple minutes. Tora quickly returned to them in a state of panic. “We need go now!” he warned, flapping his wings in terror. “Now, now, now! Tora knows where they are, and all friends need go stop them, now!”
“We might have a problem,” Giovanna said, standing on the edge of a cliff. When Tora, Poppi, and the Rust Crew soldiers joined her, they peered down at the flooded district to see the entire local machine animal population united against Susie and Pit. It looked like chaos down there–a maelstrom of gnashing teeth, grinding gears, and elemental attacks. “I didn’t think she’d actually DO it.”
Poppi grimaced. “We don’t have time for this.” She spotted the other team’s transport on the other side of the collapsed valley. “We need to grab that truck, extract them, and intercept the Machine army before they reach Midgar!”
Dangerous as the Slippy Chinery was, engulfed in an inferno and wildly attacking anything it sensed with animalistic savagery, going berserk only prolonged the inevitable. Liking her odds more against fire than lightning, and more than able to stand the heat, Midna fought back against the Other’s wildfire with flame-quenching sand, thrown objects, and her Vibrava’s dragonfire. While the Slippy’s crazed rampage wasn’t exactly predictable, it was exploitable, and few were better at ruthlessly punishing a foe’s sloppiness than Karin. Ringlets streaming behind her, the street fighter sped around and behind the monstrous thing to land a critical hit on its unprotected hindquarters, leaving a big dent in its metal body and her hand sticky with sand-speckled oil.
Her poise-shattering crush counter did its job, though, and thanks to her efforts a patched-up Geralt could bury his blade into the Slippy Chinery’s tree-like head with a creaking groan. In a stroke of deadly pragmatic genius, the Witcher then blasted his sword with unrelenting force, and in a shower of sparks reduced the thing’s head to kindling. The rest of it quickly followed, burning away to cinders. Its body, only partially organic and bitten by the Suffering Shield in its metal back anyway, failed to resurrect as an undead. Geralt might still be hurting, but he and the others were victorious. One down, one to go.
When Blazermate left him to go pile onto the other Other for easy pickings, Goldlewis couldn’t help but click his tongue in disappointment. The Winery Chinery stood firm in its pool of electrified water, shamelessly staring the Secretary of Absolute Defense down as it hurled bolt after bolt of lightning. This was quite the conundrum he found himself in. While no shrinking violet, he didn’t fancy his odds if he took a dive in that water, not after feeling an Other-induced electrocution firsthand yesterday afternoon. But even if he could reach his foe with an airdash he couldn’t go anywhere from there, and that assumed the Other wouldn’t just backpedal if it saw him flying his way regardless. On the other hand, he couldn’t stand still long enough to bring his minigun or heligrenades to bear, either. So what was a man to do?
Goldlewis thought for a few seconds, then turned and ran away. He kept going, ambivalent toward the stray bolts that hit his back, until he disappeared inside the long-dormant subway train poking out of a dark tunnel.
The Winery Chinery stared for a moment. Then, forced to continue the fight until its enemy lay dead by Galeem’s despotic influence, it began to move. Walking carefully on its fingertips, it splashed right out of its sparking pool and climbed onto the tracks. Its prey could run, but it couldn’t hide, and it certainly wouldn’t find any safety inside this rusty metal husk. Before it could lay hands on the train to start tearing into it, however, it heard a deep, bassy uproar echoing from the tunnel behind the vehicle.
With an ear-wrenching metal crash the entire train plowed forward, its wheels screeching along the tracks. The Winery Chinery, weakened from the beatdown it had already received, got splattered like a bug on a windshield. It got carried for a good hundred feet before the runaway train’s ride came to a sudden end against the caboose of a fellow train, reducing the Winery Chinery caught between them into red-black paste.
Two down, none to go. Goldlewis stepped from the darkness of the tunnel into the incandescent flicker of a fickle overhead light, dusting his hands. “Reckon that’s done with,” he announced matter-of-factly. Noticing that between them the other four managed to kill the Slippy Chinery as well, he smoothed his pompadour over coolly before jabbing a thumb backward down the tunnel. “Found a way forward while I was at it. Let’s roll.”
Party: Goldlewis, Blazermate, Geralt, Midna, Karin Encounter Reward: +10 EXP
The tunnel was dark, illuminated only faintly by a dim bluish light. While the Seekers found no enemies, this place presented an issue by itself through its mazelike structure. Its tunnels branched again and again, curving upward and downward, leading to many dead ends. Other than trial and error, only distant noises and faint tremors served to point them on the right path.
At one point, the team became aware of a red glow emanating down one particularly wide branching tunnel. Investigating it turned up a lone lift on rails at least twice as wide as the usual subway. The glow came from on top. Once Goldlewis jumped up, he spotted the source: an old video camera mounted on a tripod. “Hmm,” he murmured, stroking his whiskers. “Hey, y’all. What d’you make o’ this? It ain’t attacked us, and it might be useful, but this whole red aura is mighty threatenin’.” On further inspection, the camera quickly proved anything but normal.
It suddenly lifted into the air, floating like a marionette. It hovered off towards the tunnel’s dead end, only for the dark wall to split in half and open up, revealing an unfathomably long -and perhaps infinite- tunnel aglow with moody blue light. Music filled the air, and without further ado the L.I.F.T. launched forward, carrying Goldlewis and everyone else with it as it zoomed off down the tunnel. Behind them, the tunnel they came from faded away into an ominous black void. “Gosh…darnit!” the veteran hollered above the rushing air and retrowave beats, his tie and coat flapping in the wind. “Some kinda magic!” He pointed his finger at the camera floating ahead, which the UMA mirrored with a spindly arm extended from the coffin. “We gotta shoot that thing down!”
Of course, the only one in the group with a gun was himself, and his Skyfish had a strict timetable thanks to Goldlewis’ Security Level. The others wouldn’t want for something to do, however, as the tunnel soon opened up to either side. Additional L.I.F.T.s appeared running parallel to the Seekers’, which was good because very sturdy hanging signs soon started showing up in all three sections of the tunnel. Some were at head height, some at knee height, and some were big enough to block almost the entire tunnel. More Session Pounds showed up as well, manifesting from nowhere as if simply written into being by this altered reality, their plan the same as ever: to chase the heroes down and explode. At times one or two of the L.I.F.T.s dropped back into the void, making agile jumps between the swift platforms not just advisable but mandatory. This dramatic episode would only end once the Actionmaxx Camera, flying out a couple hundred feet in front of the L.I.F.T.s but occasionally drifting backward, took enough damage.
Location: Home of Tears Level: 3 Experience: 44/30 (Level up available) Word Count: 755 (+2 EXP) Ganondorf @Double
Rubick was forced to wait as there were fights already taking place, and he apparently needed to drink something called a Dwarven Flask to be allowed to participate. It seemed like it was a safety net that allowed the participants to fight at full strength without the risk of death. Rubick disapproved, believing that taking on such a risk made for the best entertainment in a duel, but he took a sip of it regardless. Perhaps he could gain some insights on some of his competitors who would probably be more keen to launch stronger attacks now.
The two battles he witnessed displayed impressive feats of strength and agility, and Ganondorf revealed an interesting use of his Dark Magic. As Ganondorf passed him, Rubick replied, "Of course. I'll catch up to you soon, Ganondorf. Oh, and I'll be borrowing this." Rubick proceeded to use his Power Steal on Ganondorf, granting Rubick a copy of the Gerudo King's Warlock Strikes. It wasn't really to Rubick's tastes, but Rubick was able to quickly alter it to his liking. With his preparations ready, Rubick confidently strided out into the arena.
"Now, before us stands a newcomer in the Pit! Give it up foooorrrr... Rubick, the Grand Magus! And for our other contestant, we have an inseparable duo! What they lack in size and strength, they make up in speed and cunning! Introducing Yooka & Laylee!" The announcer yelled. The gates opened, and the fighters entered the arena, Rubick from one side and Yooka & Laylee from the other. Rubick eyed his opponents carefully. If they were as smart as the announcer claimed, he would just have to be smarter.
Yooka began by launching its tongue at Rubick's staff. It landed, and Rubick reflexively pulled back, launching the two creatures toward him. Laylee's tongue retracted back into his mouth and began to launch it again, this time at Rubick. This time, Rubick was ready and sidestepped the attack, and he proceeded to counterattack by enveloping the head of his staff with Ganondorf's dark magic and launching his own version of a Warlock Strike: a Warlock Staff Bash.
However, Laylee was able to react and lift Yooka up just in time to narrowly miss Rubick's strike. Rubick, not wanting to lose his momentum, pivoted on one foot and swung toward the duo with his staff, firing a bolt of green and dark energy. It blasted them directly, and Yooka & Laylee came crashing down into the ground. Rubick would then run over to them and proceed to use a Dark Impact, swinging his staff toward the ground. Yooka and Laylee would recover quick and flee to avoid a direct blow, but could not escape the shockwave and were blown away.
"What is this?" Rubick taunted. "I came here to be tested!" The duo readied themselves, apparently eager to make a comeback. Laylee would fire a Sonic Shot at Rubick, leaving him stunned. Meanwhile, Yooka would run toward Rubick while firing his tongue at something made of metal, turning his body metal as a result. Yooka would then proceed to spin around to strike at Rubick with his tail. Somehow, this granted additional weight to his attacks, knocking Rubick away and onto his back. Grunting as he propped himself up with one arm, the duo would pounce towards him, eager to continue the assault.
It was then that they would freeze in midair. Having cast Telekinesis on them, Rubick got back onto his feet, brushing himself off. "Apologies, but it seems you weren't a match for me after all," Rubick said, sending them crashing back into the ground. Rubick would then use his Power Steal on Laylee and proceed to Sonic Shot Yooka, stunning him as well. There was another Power Steal, this time on Yooka, and Rubick touched Yooka with his staff, taking on the same metal property as Yooka did. Finally, Rubick would strike them with his staff as if it were a golf club and them the ball, blowing them away. When it was clear they were no longer moving, the announcer would say, "Yooka and Laylee put up a good fight, but it seems Rubick completely overwhelmed them! And with their own abilities to boot! The winner is Rubick!" Rubick held his arms up to bask in the crowd's cheering. Feeling confident, Rubick lifted a thumbs up, indicating that he wanted to continue fighting.
"Oh? Looks like our Grand Magus will be continuing his current reign in the Pit! So let's grant his wish!" The announcer yelled.
Suddenly his prior grievances about the Seekers seemed pretty silly considering the fact that out in the valley the only scrap that wasn't salvaged was probably the kind that the machines had already got their metal hands or claws on.
Partitio unclenched his fists 'Shucks.' the merchant looked up at the jungle of metal that towered over the construction yard with a slightly embarrassed look on his face, but it wasn't long before he shook his head and moved on when Zenkichi leaned over to whisper to him "Sounds like a plan, you work your magic and I'll give these metal things a good old fashioned thrashin!" with their hackney plan in fruition, the merchant waited til he heard the rang of gunshots to leap into action while the Simians were distracted by Zenkichi for the moment.
Holding onto his hat as he leaped over a beam, Partitio brandished the scrap metal spear in his other hand. Coat flapping in the rain and wind as he joined the fray. Thankfully Zenkichi was the main target of the ranged combatants, leaving room for Partitio to engage the ape-like robots as they tried to swarm the former Turk. He charged one of the things, aiming a jab at its back.
Fortunately the material and craftsmanship of the weapon was specifically designed to deal with machines so it pierced the Simians back disabling it, he didn't stop there however jabbing it again and again before he took a punch from one of the others, knocking him back slightly. The suckered hit harder than he expected, but he had no trouble recovering from it with a preemptive Rest.
It rushed him, and with a metallic whack it got slammed with the spear before it found a spear in its neck causing it to grasp at the merchant "Better luck next time." he chuckled driving his weapon further into the machine. He would have been ready to take on more had the sudden sound of gunfire far off not drawn his attention for a second he looked up to see that Giovanna had stopped to peer off towards something "What the-" a hail of gunfire whizzed over his head, that thankfully only put holes in the nearby buildings and not him.
Ducking behind whatever cover he could find, Partitio found himself beating off another Simian as it leapt for him. Thank the Flame he had enough time to hold his weapon out so it impaled itself as it tried to jump him, if he didn't move he'd find himself swarmed probably. With only enough time to use Rest, he ran from cover as the ape-like robots came at him two by two.
If this kept up the merchant wouldn't have enough vim in him to withstand more than a few of these critters as they tried to get in and grab him. If they pinned him he'd be done for, he whipped out the nailgun at his side to let loose a spray of piercing projectiles "Well darn." the ammunition failed to even dent his enemies, missing them mostly and doing surface level damage at best. From where he stood he only could make out the giant shape of something coming before he could holler something to Zenkichi about taking cover.
However he was grappled by a robot taking him to the ground just as something roared past them, he heard some familiar voices but was too busy fighting off the machine before getting thrown back against a metal beam from. The sudden force of an explosion.
He was hanging by a thread, just barely conscious enough to recover "Tora?" grunting Partitio wobbled to his feet, cracking the kink out of his neck as he slowly recovered from his wounds "Ain't you all a sight for my aching eyes." he quickly regained his lost vigor with a few Rests but it didn't stop the ringing in his ears. Once he got to his feet and got a good look around, he spotted the remains of what was probably once the transport they used to get all the way out here, as he made his way to where the others were. He wasn't too sure where Zenkichi was but it was hopefully close.
* * *
They all regrouped and headed out, following the intrepid engineer and his invention. The merchant wanted to see if the fallen machines could be grabbed but to his confusion all that was left were some strange orbs of light. So he left them, not understanding how spirit orbs work and Noone having the time to explain when their was bigger fish to fry. Like the news of the machines marching towards Midgar.
After the meeting was over, Kamek had taken the advice of not trying to fly in the rain, and had thus retracted his drake offer. Instead he himself had simply teleported back down to the base of the tower in a puff of smoke and met back up with Jr and Rika. After having a lovely break and a snack of brie, Bowser caught up with them.
After taking a little time to plan and crush some spirits, the troop split up again, but in different groups from the ones they had been in before.
As such, while Bowser and Rika headed off to bring their noise to lay siege to Shambhala, he was going to take Jr for the school for the first time in the boy’s life.
“Mind if I tag along?” Jesse asked, one hand in her pocket.
”Huh? Oh. Sure thing” Jr replied for the pair of them, before saying ”Jesse, right?”
“Yes.” She said with a nod.
”Cool, welcome aboard” he replied, and that was that sorted.
The school they headed to was a two story affair, surrounded in autumnal trees, well maintained lawns, white picket fences and plentiful planters for growing flowers. With the almost comically enormous umbrella stretched out over the whole schoolyard like a big top tent to keep the rain off, the whole thing looked remarkably picturesque.
Prince and (grounded) cave drake riding mage pulled up under a tree in an ultimately fruitless attempt to avoid getting even more wet while they took stock of the situation. Or rather, Kamek sat under the tree, while Jr rolled his clown kart under an outstretched wing of the drake which acted as excellent cover for him, and made him a bit trickier to spot thanks to its cave camouflage.
“So…do we just walk in?” Jesse asked.
”We could try, but I’m not sure if it is even open. There don’t seem to be any classes in attendance as far as I can see” Kamek hypothesized while peering through the rain, before realizing that ”Which is probably a good thing now that I consider it”
”Guess I won’t have to pretend to go to school then I guess?” before wondering out loud ”But if there’s no other kids, then will the teacher’s be there?”
”Ah, well, that might be a problem. I suppose there’s only one way to find out?” he resolved, before spurring his paradoxically sneaky steed forwards to go try and try the door.
Before he got out of earshot however, he glanced back and suggested ”Oh, and, if anyone asks, we are simply seeking to take a look at the school with a mind to have Junior enroll? It might by us a few moments at the very least”
Jesse nodded. What would that make me? The baby sitter? The mother? Not sure I buy the family resemblance. Family friend, then?
They found the front door unlocked, and there were lights on inside. Though the school looked empty from a cursory look at the exterior and by all accounts there should be no students here with it being the weekend and all, a few voices could be heard from down the hallway inside. A sudden feeling of intrusion gnawed at the Seekers as they stepped inside. There could be no doubt about it; at least one class was in session. A bulletin board near the entrance explained why: a hand-drawn poster that depicted a ray of light shining down on the facility read Welcome to Sunday School! At the very least they wouldn’t have to worry about their target’s absence, but in exchange the interference of innocent schoolchildren in the heroes’ murderous scheme suddenly seemed less like an outside chance and more like a problematic guarantee.
“All right, well.” Jesse began with a grim laugh. “Obviously we’re not gonna seal the deal in here. Let’s see if we can find him and then follow him to wherever he does his ‘Dark Bishop’ stuff.” She whispered that last part. “Or maybe try to draw him out of his disguise. We have to be sure we’ve got this figured out before we make any moves.” She said.
With a plan in mind for what excuse to offer if they bumped into someone, the Seekers proceeded through the school hallways. Every other wall seemed to feature the kids’ latest art projects, from hand turkeys to dream catchers to papercraft to crayon self-portraits, made all the more vivid and varied by the different kinds of monsters that constituted the student body here. More advanced classes sported tri-fold presentations and experiments like the classic baking soda volcano. The voices spurred them onward to their less-than-kid-friendly task, however, and eventually the team found the classroom they’d been looking for.
Inside, a gathering of nine students were receiving instruction in the magical arts from a kindly-looking old cleric. He stood at about 5’9” with a slight stoop, a wrinkled face, and off-white robes. A few potted sunflowers stood by the windows for spell practice, and the kids’ current assignment seemed to be taking turns roughing the flowers up -either with offensive magic or, in the case of the purple dinosaur, punching them in the face- so that the clerics-in-training could heal them. In the course of overseeing this task, the instructor continuously took one student or another aside to provide constructive criticism on their restoration magic, or chide them for overzealousness when it came to beating up the flowers.
His creased face broke out into a smile as the reindeer girl managed to use her staff to recover one sunflower to full health from death’s door. “Incredible, Noelle!” he praised her. “It may not be exciting, but White Magic is a noble calling. Learn from her example, everyone!”
”Oh dear” Kamek muttered as their fears were confirmed, before beckoning them to move into another class room to avoid being in earshot.
”Well then, looks like we’ll need to think about those plans of yours,” the mage said to the director, with which Jr agreed, ”Yeaaaaah, I’d rather not be able to be called a hippo-rat by Omari” mispronouncing hypocrite in the process.
The boy did not want to murder some other kid’s beloved teacher in-front of them, that was for sure. ”Though I guess maybe we could kidnap him instead? Or teacher-nap him? That’d be fine” he then suggested, apparently still drawing a fairly high line for what was acceptable for him when it came to the level of trauma he was ok to inflict. Then again that kind of thing was entirely on brand for the Troop.
“We can’t risk starting a fight here, period.” Jesse said. “Too many civilians. We should also want to make sure this guy is actually working for the Consuls, on the off-chance IGV is somehow deceiving us.” Jesse said. “His real name is Solon, right? The Dark Bishop.”
She nodded her head into the classroom. “You two can still go in there and talk to him. He shouldn’t see me so he doesn’t recognize me when we’re following him.” She says.
”I suppose we could, hmmm” Kamek tapped his beak thinking it over, until jr declared ”I have an idea”
A few moments after that, the prince poked his head through the door, got an actual look at what the sunday school entailed, and with genuine enthusiasm said ”Wait, they teach you to beat stuff up at schools? I thought it was math and stuff” before confidently strolling in on foot (having just brought his paintbrush and left everything else shrunk down in Kamek’s pockets for a small attempt at subtly and blending in) and declaring ”I wanna try”
A moment after that Kamek hurried in after him, calling out ”Young master wait!” with actual genuine alarm because the prince had barely explained the plan before he set it in motion, and then, improvising, gave a little head bob to the teacher and tried to explain ”My most profuse apologies for the intrusion and interruption, we were simply looking around, and well the door was open and, ah, well,” before coughing into his fist to buy his brain a little time before explaining that ”We were thinking of enrolling, you see. Enrolling Junior that is, and simply wanted to see if the place was suitable. Again, my apologies for intruding”
Junior’s sudden entrance quickly got the attention of both students and teacher, the latter of whom seemed especially taken by surprise, although the mention of a desire to join in piqued his interest. “Oh? And who might you…”
At that point Kamek arrived to try and smooth the situation over. Although the Koopas’ appearance did disturb the class a little, Tomas did not look unduly upset. “Ah, a new student. What a rare treat,” he replied. Looking over at the other children, he gave a nod of his head. “Please, continue. Won’t be but a moment.” The cleric approached the duo of Koopas, leaning on his cane as he walked. “During the school week we do teach conventional subjects, but on the weekend I do offer an extracurricular magic course. For those gifted, and…” His gaze briefly flitted toward Susie. “Those who could benefit from some structure.” After a second his attention returned to Junior. “Now, I’m not in charge of enrollment here, but I see you already have a catalyst, young one. It would be a shame to send you away empty-handed. Would you like to demonstrate a few spells for the class?”
”Oh, would I ever” the prince replied, not one to miss an opportunity to show off. He approached the sunflowers, twirling his paintbrush above his head skillfully, before bringing the but down to the ground and declaring ”watch and learn a master caster” despite the fact that he had been a white mage for all of a day at most.
As the prince started out with ”Presence of mind!” to boost his casting speed, before he opened up with a circular aoe of restoring ”Medica!” on all the plants, and then undid all the healing he had just done with a similarly aoe ”Holy!” blast, Kamek decided to see if he could get a useful detail or two from the man.
”You must be very passionate, putting in sundays as well as your regular work week” he noted, though he also noted mentally that teaching kids skills useful combat was maybe not the most goody two shoes of activities (and he would know), before asking about how long the lessons where in a slightly round about way ”how much more of your time do you take out of your weekend to do these?”
With his eyes on Junior’s magic lightshow, Tomas took his time to respond. “Oh, it varies. Depends on who comes, who needs help, and how badly. I like to keep myself busy. I tried retirement not so long ago, but I just didn’t know what to do with myself.”
The mage found himself a little annoyed at how he’d failed to get the info he wanted, although honestly he thought, he should maybe just have asked. Despite this, he found himself talking casually with the man he was ostensibly here to kill.
”Oh, I know what you mean, somewhat. Sometimes I think i should take a step back from it all, but, well, when people need you …” he didn’t finish the sentence, and instead leaned against a desk as he watched the prince run through the rest of his mana pool casting ”Repose” to put an unfortunate flower to sleep, then ignited it with a fireball, only to put the fire out with ”Esuna” and finish with a ”Cure” to put it back up to full health again.
He wisely decided against damaging the school with stone, or burning the long cool down Benediction for the demonstration, and instead simply declared himself ”Done!” before turning away and asking ”Now how do you like that, huh?”
Tomas narrowed his eyes just a touch as the young prince finished his spellcasting. While Junior probably expected applause from one and all for his demonstration, the other students mostly regarded him with a mixture of annoyance, resignation, or jealousy. To them, Junior’s vast and varied array of spells -not to mention the showmanship with which he exhibited them- seemed like showboating. After a moment, Tomas put his hands together in a soft gold clap. “Impressive, young man. But…well, this is something of an introductory course. If you’re already well-acquainted with the basics, you’d be better off looking elsewhere.”
”Yeah, I am pretty good” the 100% showboating boy agreed with a flex, while Kamek looked a little sad on his behalf. Perhaps however, the mage thought, in this instance the boy’s poor friend making skills was a boon, considering what they needed to do to the other children’s teacher.
That said, so far this had not given them much of an angle on how to do that, and so he tried a more simple and direct approach, by asking ”Might I ask when you will finish teaching for today? I’d like to take the opportunity to talk to you a bit to learn more about the school, but obviously don’t want to intrude any more on your time with your students than we already have. If you would be free after, that is”
“Hmm…” Tomas frowned. “I cannot say for certain. You should speak to Principal Pulsating Mass. On a school day, when it’s here. Now, if you’ll excuse me.” With the Seekers’ efforts still exactly where they started at outset, the cleric went to return to his students.
Jesse had been listening in, trying not to grimace too hard from where she was concealing herself outside the classroom.
Things are not going well. What the hell does he mean, ‘cannot say for certain’? Does he not know the schedule? That doesn’t make any sense. She said, and the pattern with her mind shimmered.
Regardless, Junior and Kamek were still in there. She wasn’t going to barge in unless she needed too.
She would not need to regardless, as the pair of them exited the room a few moments later, having gotten themselves into a situation where it would be rather awkward, not to mention increasingly suspicious to remain.
”Well, that did not work out particularly well” the mage admitted once they regrouped out of sight and earshot
”Hey, I did my part distracting the other kids, you just couldn't pull your weight” jr insisted, as if he had not been mostly focused on showing off in the heat of the moment.
”In my defense, he was rather evasive, though perhaps I pressed him poorly. I’ll admit, subterfuge is not one of my areas of expertise” the mage had to confess as he began to resize Jr’s gear, as, one way or the other, the moment for espionage was most likely over.
“It’s fine.” Jesse said, nodding over to a schedule on a poster board on the school wall. It indicated Sunday School wouldn’t end until after the raid. “We have to find a way to get him out of there anyway.”
“If he really is some Dark Bishop working for Galeem, he probably doesn’t actually care about those kids anyway. Maybe we can use that. There’s gotta be a way to isolate him.” Jesse said.
”Yes, it would be best to not worry about him using them as hostages or something of the sort, that is for sure” Kamek agreed, before he sat down and they began to think it over.
”Maybe if we … no”
”How about .. nah”
”But we could … no not that either”
”Or … hmmmm … nope”
”Perhaps we could … or perhaps not”
Jesse sat there, looking between the both of them start and stop their sentences before saying anything. She started playing along. “But what if we…no…”
“We could consider doing…nevermind.” She said.
The three of them went back and forth for a bit, before Jr looked up, and then pointed to a speaker sitting in the corner of the room they were in and asked ”Hey wait, is that some kind of speaker system? Why do they have those? Do they play music over classes or something like it’s a restaurant?”
”I think it’s some kind of … intercom system?” Kamek suggested, but it was something of a guess
”Ohhhh” Jr replied as he got it, before he went ”Ohhhh” again, as he had an idea.
A couple of minutes later, and after a bit of prep work laying the battlefield, the intercom system suddenly blared to life and the sound of a clearing throat could be heard before Jr, at max volume, said ”I’ve come to make an announcement” via every speaker in the school. THen he took taking one he’d ripped off the walls and pressed it up against the microphone in the principal's office, starting an audio feedback loop that he mucked around with the system’s setting specifically to make as terrible as possible, flooding the school with a high pitched screech backed by riotous evil laughter.
Though Junior’s announcement initially met with confusion from the school’s few occupants, the God-awful cacophony quickly drove the entire student body right out of the nearest windows, their hands clamped down over their ears in a desperate effort to block out the ear-splitting agony. Meanwhile, Tomas moved about as fast as an old man in robes possibly could toward the principle’s office, the veins on his forehead bulging in anger. Upon reaching his destination he spotted Junior just as expected, and with his face a mask of rage shouted, “What is the meaning of this!” only to be completely drowned out by the din. He clenched his cane in a white-knuckle grip, raising it above his head as if to throw it, but managed to control himself and thrust it back down against the ground. Fit to be tied, he hobbled toward the Koopa Prince to bodily remove him from the intercom system.
The prince himself was seemingly lounging in the principal's chair grinning through its open door at the old man as he approached, holding the microphone in one hand and the speaker in the other. Just as he got to the open door, however, the boy suddenly tossed the two parts of his audio assault aside, and the world was filled with a deafening silence, one more loud than any signal could ever be.
In response to that signal, plans went into action. From the nearby classroom burst a flurry of dry bones and toadies hauling furniture from within with which they moved to form barricades to block any way back. Along with them were wisps, who half phased into the defenses, ready to leap out and shockingly stun any who approached.
If it proved necessary anyway, because the prince started out by snatching up his staff off of the desk and calling out ”Repose” to try and give the old man some rest after all the strain he’d put him through. At the same time, Kamek, riding atop a (shrunken down a bit) dread spider which lunged towards the old man to try and encase him in webbing.
The flurry of activity took Tomas completely by surprise, shocking him through the sheer volume of critters that swarmed out from hiding to assail him. “W-what the!?” Caught off-guard, he did not resist the sleep spell, and his muscles went slack as he sagged down to his knees. Kamek's dread spider took great care not to awaken him as it quickly enveloped the priest in a thick coating of spider silk. In a matter of moments Tomas lay snoozing inside a cocoon the size of a bodybag, though oxygen deprivation would not permit him a gentle rest for long.
Jesse emerged from her hiding spot outside the principal’s office and waited outside the door for a fight to start.
”Wait, that worked?” Kamek asked as he looked down at the web wrapped bundle
“Did it work?” Jesse asked, peeking in.
”Of course it worked!” Jr inisisted
”I suppose the first step generally does” Kamek agreed, before saying ”Now for part 2.” Before requesting ”if you would assist me in shrinking down our problem Jesse?” as he leveled his wand at the tied up sleeper to give him a double dose of tecno and magical size reduction.
Jesse walked into the room. “Well. Let’s hope we got our man.” She produced the Tool Gun and it’s light pings struck Tomas. Combined with magic, and with no energy barrier of any kind, it was only a matter of moments until he was the size of an action figure.
The coil of webbing fell away, leaving behind the tiny man, who jr stepped in, picked up, and attempted to re-secure with some stollen rubber bands from a stationary drawer, mainly by binding his arms behind his back.
Jesse grabbed an enlarged glass salt shaker from behind the desk they had stolen from the teacher’s lounge and thunked it down on top of the baddie like he was a spider in the house. Then she scooped Tomas up and screwed the lid on. Then she switched it to Weld and connected the lid and the shaker together. She worked as fast as she could, because to be honest, she still wasn’t sure about the limits of the Tool Gun’s power. If he was strong enough to somehow break free of it’s deflating influence, they’d be in a fight after all.
When the teacher awoke, he was baffled to find himself shrunken, bound, and imprisoned through arcane means, left basically helpless in what might very well be the worst circumstances imaginable. His shock quickly gave way to anger and indignation though, and without a word he clammed up, clenching his jaw and tightening his wrinkly face into a resolute scowl.
Jr leaned in to get a closer look at the grumpy little man, and to have a laugh at his expense ”Ah, look at you, so tiny! Like a super ugly action figure”
”Well, this has worked spectacularly I must say, not that there was any doubt” Kamek said, happy enough with the outcome to gloat a bit as well, before getting back to business ”Now then, we should quickly decide who holds onto our little captive, and then be off before any of the children can raise the alarm about all this”
As he made that suggestion he began to rapidly cut the mana supplies to his minions that had been intended to prevent an escape, and instead switched to creating additional cave drake mounts to help their egress be as sneaky as possible.
Jesse regarded their opponent in the jar she held in her hands. He wasn’t panicking, so, he wasn’t much of an actor. “You’re our prisoner now, Solon.” She explained, in case it wasn’t obvious. He adamantly refused to humor his captors.
“Maybe we could take him to you-know-who?” She said, referring to their source of intel, IGV. “As for an exit. We can just find a window and get out with No Collide.” She said, doing a quick scan of the room and the hallway outside it for any exterior windows, a suggestion that got two nods of agreement from the Koopas.
A few moments later and they were off, vanishing through a wall, out from under the tarp and then riding through the rain soaked streets and leaving the school behind with only a single glowing mote watching over it remaining occupants.
Sakura Level 9: 37/90 Location: Seiran Tunnels Word Count: small Points Gained: 1 New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 9: 38/90
Sakura paid no mind to whats-his-faces pride problem- she had a battle to win! Karin used to be the same way. People like him, in her experience, always got over that hurdle if their heart was in the right place.
When it began to jump up in the air, Sakura’s face dropped. ”Whoops!” To avoid getting crushed she dove far away, transitioning into a dive roll. She turned and crossed her arms, hoping to absorb the damage of the oil like she would any other dangerous projectile. It burned her arms and she slid back, taking chip damage, and maybe the residue would do damage over time. But Sakura felt like it was nothing she couldn’t handle, even with the leftover damage from the last bout.
When the troops rallied, Sakura yelled out, feeling pretty hyped up. The military wasn’t really her thing, but having matching colors and being in a big team wasn’t all that bad when it came down to generating excitement in her young heart.
There was a lot of attacks going on, and though Sakura charged, she wasn’t going to plunge into that mess with nothing but her fists. So she ran and then leapt above, looking to attack the creature from a unique angle and minimize friendly fire. She loosed an aerial fireball down on its head, and then landed on the other side.
Practicing with the SAS, she tapped into Dexio’s Seismokinesis. She saw him using it earlier, and it seemed extraordinarily helpful!
Syncing it up with him, she stomped the ground to ground her newfound psychic power with a physical motion. Then she and Dexio both rumbled and shunted the ground beneath the beasts feet, and with all the huge amounts of damage the Gunkin Perry was taking, it had no choice but to stumble severely. After that, she ducked and used her leg to sweep one of its legs clean out from under it, grounding it.
She grinned at Dexio. ”That is SO cheap!” She exclaimed. After that, it probably couldn’t get the chance to jump back to its feet even if it wanted too! Sakura kept up the Seismo and continually targeted its back leg to keep it down until the job was done. Soon, victory was there.
”Yes! Awesome!” She celebrated, jumping up and down. Excited, she went to give Dexio a big teamwork hug and then detached just as quickly, pumping her fists and punching up into the air.