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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

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Underground Nexus

Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Peach, Luka, Dexio, Sina, Raz

In a show of both inter-platoon cooperation and uncompromising strength, the ten Scarlet Guardians dispatched the Gunkin Fisher. It died with a final squeaky howl, its hoses flailing in every direction in a desperate bid to spread its all-important oil before its tank finally went dry and shattered to pieces as the rest of the Other turned to ash. Seto carefully collected the big monster’s spirit, then joined everyone else standing in a rough circle. “Good work, all of you,” he told them, the smile in his eyes making up for the battle mask that covered his mouth. “That was a Major Other, but you all handled in with finesse and, more importantly, teamwork.”

After sliding his batons into his belt, Shiden stood with his arms crossed. During the last part of the fight he’d found and broken a pipe in the area to flood part of it with water, then blasted the Gunkin Perry with a massive wave of amped-up chain-lightning. Striking the final blow seemed to have left him pretty chuffed. “You should expect nothing less.”

“Couldn’t have said it better myself,” Luka congratulated his own team. “We’re nearing the tail-end of the operation, I think. Let’s make sure to finish strong.”

Seto nodded. “We’ll head down the right-hand path then. Take care out there.”

“Knock ‘em dead!” Peach cheered the others on, waving to them as the teams parted ways.

The group proceeded down the left-hand path from the decrepit facility where they fought the Gunkin Perry. They encountered a handful of Pools and Pendus on their steady march through the underground, but nothing of particular note. Eventually, they entered a a mostly-empty tunnel that blazed with ethereal orange strings and floating fragments, slowly and even peacefully drifting through the open space. Though definitely psionic constructs, these couldn’t quite be called Visions without any sort of generator or source, other than maybe Psynet or perhaps even the collective consciousness itself. Disjointed snippets of information gathered here were the lingering traces hearts once collided, tantalizingly indistinct like half-forgotten memories. Hanging in the air were scattered thoughts, lost hopes, crushed dreams, hurt feelings, and so much more, all sanded down so fine that they might as well be dust. Were these, visualized by the ambient presence of Psynet, the treads that connected people? And were those shards then the tattered remnants of connections severed? Peach couldn’t stop herself looking closer as she passed them by, but it was difficult to get anything more than the vaguest idea of what sort of people left these traces here. Like footsteps in the sand nearly scrubbed clean by the relentless drudgery of the tide.

The princess wondered the people who left these psionic blips were even still alive. Would some piece of her remain here, adrift in this scarlet web, once she herself was gone? Just an echo, doomed to fade away? She took a deep breath and tried to clear her head. Thoughts like those weren’t going to get her anywhere. Surely, she reasoned, she’d leave a greater impact than this.

Luka Platoon emerged from the tunnel to find the train tracks stop suddenly at the edge of a large, open area. It appeared to be roughly square in shape, with a mostly flat floor and ceiling, both cracked and roughened up by dilapidation of the structure and shifts in the earth. “Some sort of underground parking garage, maybe,” Luka ventured. He noticed water leaking in through some of the larger fissures in the ceiling, and even felt a faint whiff of fresh air. He also noticed at least one other tunnel branching off from this area, lined with the distinctive gray of aged asphalt that indicated a former roadway. Fallen rubble seemed to be cleared off that path, however, and there were tire tracks in the disturbed dust. “Strange,” Luka murmured. “Have people been here recently? Why would anyone spend time in such an Other-infested area…?”

That aside, the mission of the Scarlet Guardians was to eradicate Others, and neither Peach nor Luka saw any Others here. By now Luk Platoon had spent quite a while underground, and given how long it had been since an encounter, the princess considered the possibility that the Psych-OSF had succeeded in making a clean sweep of the abandoned subway network. Unfortunately, that hypothesis turned out to be a little optimistic.

“Hold up, guys. I’m feeling something.” While the team lacked anyone with Clairvoyance or Precognition, Dexio’s Seismokinesis gave him a keener sense for any fluctuations in the earth’s surface, and after kneeling to put his palms on the ground he furrowed his brow in worry. “Something’s headed out way from one of the smaller tunnels. A lot of somethings, it feels like.”

Just a few moments later the others could hear the noise, a distant clamor of clacking and jingling that echoed through the tunnels. Luka gave the signal, and the team moved to surround the opening. Moments after that, the Others appeared. It turned out to be a massive pack of predatory Vase Paws, hungry and on the hunt for human brains. They swarmed out of the tunnel two or three at a time, forcing the Scarlet Guardians to back up or be overwhelmed. “Holy cow!” Dexio exclaimed, crouching down. “There’s no end to them! I’m gonna collapse the tunnel to keep ‘em from getting in!” He allowed his power to ripple through the earth, up the fractured walls and toward the fissured ceiling.

Luka’s eyes widened. “Dexio, wait…!”

With a calamitous shaking and a terrifying rumble ceiling began to come down. Though Dexio succeeded in his goal of blocking off the horde’s entryway, he also accidentally triggered a collapse. “You bonehead!” Sina yelled, running toward Dexio as a slab began to fall. Luka got there first, teleporting to grab the unlucky fellow and warp him back the way the team came in. As the roof caved in, massive chunks of rock and concrete piled up near the subway tunnel, trapping Luka, Raz, and Sina on one side, and Sakura, Sina, and Peach on the other.

Coughing, Peach fanned away the dust billowing in the air. Now a huge gap had opened in the ceiling to reveal the remains of a multi-level parking garage, mostly fallen to pieces, beneath a rainy sky. The muted daylight also revealed a massive rubble barricade blocking the subway tunnel, with no way through. “Raz! Luka! Are you okay?” There was no reply, but after a moment of critical thinking Peach switched to Brain Talk to repeat the question.

“We’re okay,” Luka’s voice replied in her mind. “But there’s no way through, and without a clear visual of the other side to see any obstruction, I can’t risk teleporting through. Can you see a way out on your end?”

Peach looked up, gauging the distance toward the new hole in the roof. ”Yeah.” While looking, however, she also noted the dozen-plus rising up from the dust nearby. ”I see a whole lot of those Others, too! We’re going to have to fight!”

”Hold on, we’ll try to find a way through to you!” Luca replied, his voice frantic. Peach took a deep breath and manifested her Scatterboom. This was going to be rough.
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Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

Wordage: 284 words (+1 points)
Experience: 10/30 EXP
Location: Sector 5 (Seiren)
Midna's @DracoLunaris, Blazermate's @Archmage MC and Goldlewis's @Lugubrious

"Asparas," soot covered, the Saltiron veterans voice was somewhat ragged as he summoned the spectral visage of the frost maiden "Fire Wall." if the incendiary Other hadn't done them in, it would be anything else, the rest of the Seekers found themselves surrounded by a fiery bubble that diminished the flames that linked them, he struggled to his feet.

Winded from fighting to not die in a blast of fire. His shield was charred but still intact. The fighting mostly over, the others seemed to be mopping up the stragglers, or gathering whatever spirit the Other left behind. As it stood they hadn't the luxury to lag behind to catch their breath, as quickly as they had arrived so too they all rushed ahead towards a darkened corridor.

Benedict took the time to keep a sharp eye on their surroundings while also making use of a quick Media from Asparas once her cooldown had ended. It seemed the Seekers would have no peace down here, as the security camera as well as the room changed drastically.

The room or rather the lift lurched forward and the air quickly filled with some strange music "There is not a moment to lose," he would be dead on his feet if he had to leap between the platforms he lacked the vigour but not the agility thanks to Bird's Prey "Miss. Blazermate, a lift-" Benedict had to duck as a sign nearly struck him "Would be appreciated." he couldn't keep up, if this continued he would soon be a red stain on the swiftly accelerating lift.

Benedict was going to have to settle for less taxing work when this was all said and done, that is if he survived the days excursion.
Hidden 11 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 21 hrs ago

wordcount: 712 (+1) (+10)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (74/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 3 (+1 for combat reward)

Midna’s standoffishness vs the other, worked like a charm, the princess putting out fires with relative ease, and even when the flames did come close the fragment of a golden mask on her rosary glowed and quelled the heat to a degree. Add that to Benedict’s buff and their task really was just putting down the rabid Other rather than really fighting it, with the princess chipping away at range till Karin and Geralt both got in some heavy hits to put it down for good.

”Nice work people” Midna congratulated them, before growing briefly concerned when some mental math counted basically all of their team as being among the number taking down the Slippery Other (even Blazermate zipped in to deliver some kind of parting chomp) which left the number of heroes facing the other Other at a very concerning one.

The concern she had for how well Goldlewis could handle that situation spiked into fear upon hearing a resounding mighty crash coming from behind, and then promptly died back down when she saw that the source of that noise was the other Other being plowed into by an entire train.

”Oh, well, glad you’ve got that handled” she commented as she floated over, very glad that he was ok, and also relieved that she wasn’t going to have to face her illogical fear of lightning this time.

Impressively, not only had he taken down the other Other solo (for the last little bit of the battle anyway) but he’d also found them a way forwards. He directed them towards it, but rather than head right there, Midna did her now usual post battle thing of securing the loot.

”Sure let me just go collect on the spirits” she said, before thinking about that for a heartbeat and then, upon remembering the ash that the two Others had been found in, glancing at said piles and seeing there where more than just the glowing remains of their foes left here.

”Oh goddesses, I nearly forgot about whoever they got” she cursed as she rode over to inspect the fallen. Eyes darted between them for a few moments before she announced ”Good news, not any of ours, bad news, they were PSYC-OFF” which she found concerning.

”Can’t say if this is indicative of how the operation is going, or if they just got unlucky, but it's still not a good sign” she assessed as she flicked a hand to collect the dead, no point in letting them go to waste in her mind, and then used a burst of sand to scatter the ashes and a quiet prayer in the closest thing she could give their remains a funeral. Then she moved on, collecting the fallen Other if they were not claimed, and then pushed forwards with the team.

The princess was hardened enough to not let the deaths of soldiers in war get to her, even as a voice in the back of her mind niggled that maybe if they had been better, been faster, these people would still be alive. Instead she looked at the tiny silver lining of this, which was to grimly note that ”I suppose if we want more psychics to get into PSYC-OFF, that’s fusion sources for that plan secured”

The next stage of their journey was a maze, one that Midna assisted in getting them through via her ability to better see in the dark and plenty of shadow hopping to scout out a route to avoid the foot sloggers having to match in and out of the many dead ends.

While the maze proved to be clear of Other, it was not clear of dangers, as the investigation of a red glow saw them confronted by a device Midna did not recognize, but most certainly did not think it was meant to float up into the air and warp reality around them as it did.

Nonetheless, it did exactly that, and started playing music to boot.

”What in the goddess’s name is this nonsense … and why does it sound so good!?” she complained as the platform they had climbed up on launched forwards into a seemingly infinite tunnel, one in which additional platforms, obstructing overhanging signs, and more floating Other bombs started materializing.

”Oh it's just getting better and better I see! Get back here you ridiculous machine, I just want to compliment you on your music taste” Midna yelled after the camera, as she pulled a revolver out of the twilight realm and tried to nail the flying contraption.

That way of attempting to deal with things came to a swift end however, as her wolfos steed started having to leap from platform to platform to avoid them getting knocked off or dropped into the void, which made aiming extra tricky. To add insult to injury to that, the blinking Other bombs were back, and almost as much a nightmare for her light vulnerable eyes as they had been before.

At least there wasn’t a massive pile of smoke to add to the mess this time, so Midna could still somewhat see where things were. Just not anywhere near well enough to fire a precision weapon at a small, floating, far off target like the camera causing this whole mess.

”Alright, that’s it. I’m on fly swatting duty, so stay out of my way, and get rid of that floating menace for me!” the princess called out, before gripping her steed’s pelt with both hands for support, and then pulling out a large shadow hand, with which she delivered sweeping slaps to clear the air of bombs that managed to get close, using as wide an attack as possible.

”And if you need a gun to nail that thing, I can lend you one of two!” also called out (referring to her musket and revolver), which if someone took her up on it was going to be her only real contribution to solving the problem, as her usual summoning methods were not going to cut it here. Spear chucking strikers would most assuredly fall casually to signage (or just mess up other people's jumps via overcrowding) while her oversized Vibrava simply could not fit its increased wingspan into the tunnel.
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Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 12 hrs ago

Level 11 Blazermate (Holding 2 level up) - (86/110)
Location: Sector 05 Seiran
Word Count: Less than 750

Thanks to the efforts of everyone teaming up on the slippery chinny, it was soon turned to dust. But Blazermate hadn't managed tot urn it into a zombie, since it was more metal than flesh. Likewise the Wirey Chinney got squashed by a train, which didn't leave much of anything to be reanimated. The loss of two probably fun zombies was a bit sad, but hey, the group had these two weird monster spirits which Midna picked up.

Healing everyone up before they continued on, they found themselves in a weird room with a platform they all had to get on that, when they all stepped onto it, started to move down a tunnel that had just opened up with quite a bit of range to it. Thankfully with Blazermate being on healing duty, everyone entering the tunnel had overheal and Blazermate her shield. Seeing they needed a ranged option and defense, Blazermate summoned her engineer spirit to add to the ranged damage with his pistol and sentry gun Although he would soon be dismissed as it was soon apparent that they had to jump from platform to platform as occasionally the one they were on dipped out of sight.

Benedict, being a bit older, had issues with his jumping agility, and requested that Blazermate carry him as she had no issues dealing with something like this. "Yeah sure. Make a lady feel like a hero instead of a princess why don'tchya." Blazermate said, swooping to pick up Benedict as he asked for extra mobility, giving him a teasing giggle as the medabot carried the grown man in her arms. This limited her healing a bit, but she still had her drone and could give some burst heals when needed. Overall this platform thing didn't seem all that bad. Overall damage here was a lot lower than with the Chinnery's especially if people rotated who got hit and who didn't.


Level 4 Susie - (34/40) - (Holding 1 level up)
Location: Sector 7 Slums
Word Count: Less than 750

Well, perhaps these robots were a bigger threat together. She was expecting them to come and help each other in some regard, although not to this degree or be this tough. Although them having a weakness to missiles was a good thing to learn, since it seemed the melee attacks of her business suit weren't doing much against these things. Something to note for later as Susie used her transporter to fly out of her cockpit as the business suit was getting ravaged from all angles in an instant from robots that weren't anywhere nearby her. But they were more concerned with her suit than her, being the bigger chunk of metal, so Susie flew back to the group as the robots tore into the business suit, taking awhile to get past some if its plating and soon finding that it was all for naught as the business suit just de spawned with its rider having been away from it for too long.

Well at least from her aerial viewpoint she could see the others fighting and taking down some kind of giant spider robot using a nearby crane. Strange that brute attacks worked on it without robots swarming them, perhaps this meant that there were different types of robots, some that helped each other, some that didn't in this robot crisis? But then if that was the case, how would one know which is which, or better yet, what was controlling them all, but had a need for such a strange cast system like that?
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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 1 day ago

Geralt of Rivia

Midgar- Seiran, Abandoned Subway- Overgrown Transfer

Lvl 9 (185/90) +10 Reward XP -> (196/90)

Word Count: 487 words

Horrible monster dealt with, Geralt watched as Goldlewis boarded a train, hijacked it, and launched the thing at the other Other, Geralt taking the healing Blazermate and her drone were providing with quiet thanks and some deep breaths, making sure he was really back in one piece. Burning a dose of Swallow was never fun, especially when Blazermate was nearby, but after a hit like that he couldn't take the risk that she didn't make it back to him in time.

Shaking his head, he joined the others in following Goldlewis. He noted Midna clearing the Ashes of the fallen and taking the Spirits, but other than a momentary look towards where the Others had been feasting, did nothing to indicate his feelings on the matter. It was unfortunate, but to him it was the sort of unfortunate that came with a rainy day when you were hoping for sun: Not particularly important or uncommon.

The labrynthian tunnel system that followed their battle was bothersome to get through, to say the least. Branching tunnels, even going upwards in some places and downwards in others, kept them moving to try and find their way to the infiltration team, but it was far from a simple task. So many different branching pathways.

Eventually, however, they found themselves in front of the massive lift, from atop which emanated an enticing red glow. Something weird had to mean something in this place, even if it wasn't exactly good, it was better than wandering forever.

Geralt, however, had no idea what in the hell it was, and it seemed Midna was in a similar position. Geralt was equally sure as her, however, that it was not supposed to float, sing some strange music, and cause the entire lift to activate, launching them down a seemingly-infinite tunnel. As if that wasn't bad enough, more lifts appeared along with the exploding Others from earlier, as well as massive signs that blocked off portions of the tunnel and had to be avoided.


Geralt drew his hand crossbow, taking shots at the floating device, and keeping an ear out for incoming Session Pounds. If one got close, and Midna hadn't taken it out, he would deal with it by either shooting it at close range and hopefully destabilizing it enough to be taken out, or launching it away with Aard and letting it explode harmlessly away from himself.

As simple as his plan, was, however, the fact that the lifts began to drop out from under them complicated manners. Gruffly landing after a hurried leap, Geralt pointed to the floating camera and called on the Striker Panther once more, directing him to shoot the damned thing. "Of course, Senor." The anthropomorphic cat replied, though Geralt couldn't tell if it was sarcastic or not. At least Blazermate was taking care of Benedict and still providing healing for when a Session Pound inevitably got too close.

Zenkichi Hasegawa

Valley of Ruin

Lvl 2 (8/20) -> Lvl 2 (9/20)

Word Count: 424 words

As he was fighting the Simians, Wolf noticed Partitio joining the fray, brandishing his Machine Spear and stabbing at one of the Machines. Giving the merchant warrior a quick nod, Wolf continued with his wide, heavy swings, always managing to catch at least one of the Simians, but rarely more than a couple at once. He was getting as good as he gave, however, and by this point he was starting to flag. Thankfully, the Machines weren't terribly powerful, and their aggression was eventually overpowered by Wolf's relentless nature, wide-arc swings, and extreme strength.

Hearing Partitio's warning just as he cut down one of the last Simians, Wolf looked up to see the Spider being hit by the crane, Giovanna having changed targets and heavily damaging the giant Machine, for Tora and Poppi to come charging in with an-oh crap that was going to be a big explosion!

Diving to take cover, Zenkichi felt the heat and the wind blow over him as he was sent tumbling, thudding into a pile of damaged construction materials and groaning as his head spun. Wobbily standing up, he looked around at the carnage and destruction, noticing the Spirits of the destroyed machines. Quickly crushing them as per the quick rundown he'd been given earlier, he collected the random goodies they dropped and joined the others as Giovanna was lecturing Tora and Poppi, a weary smile on his face. "Little more warning next time you set off a giant explosion next time, eh?" He half-joked, stretching out his arms and back, before looking around. "Still, quick thinking on that manuever there. That thing looked pretty darn tough."

Nodding as the others mentioned a 'long-neck steelypon', which he assumed was Toraspeak for 'Long-necked Machine', he joined them as they ran off to find it. Tora and Poppi took a quick flight up top to hack into it and steal whatever data they could find, while the rest continued their fairly relaxing breather. That is, until Giovanna pointed out from her cliffside vantage point that Susie and Pit were having a...less than ideal time with the Machines they'd attacked. "Of course. Alright, sure, no problem, just gotta get down there, rescue them from the robot crabs and crocodiles and hippos. No problem, not at all. Except the whole getting to them part." Was it immature of him to complain? Yes. Was he going to anyway? Yes. He was an adult, and that's what adults did. They complained and then did the thing they just complained about anyway.
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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 1 day ago

Word Count: 2299 (+3 exp)
Level: 6 - Total EXP: 63/60
Location: The Under - City of Tears

𝙱𝙿 ●●●●

With the Seekers in the Under split up within the city, most headed to the Soul Sanctum, Therion descended into the Royal Waterways once more. He knew there were valuables to be found there, things he didn't get to see when he, Ichiban and Omori were chased from the hoaders' treasure trove. It was filled with plenty of literal junk, yes, but during his first foray he'd snagged some jewelry he was able to sell for a decent price. If he kept digging he was sure he would find more - and there was no telling just what exactly was stashed in those great towering piles. Maybe there were literal treasures buried until all of the rubbish.

The route they'd take yesterday was a simple one, so once Therion had climbed down into the sewer it was easy enough to recall the same path. Unsurprisingly he saw the same flies buzzing around, which he promptly swatted. At the crossroads he kept to the right, eventually coming upon the balcony where they'd met Dazzle and the hermit before. Today only the hermet was found there, and she looked at Therion with the same blank bug face. Normally she would have unnerved the thief, but he'd seen much worse things in the basement and the womb, so he gave her a casual wave which she returned. He moved to the edge of the balcony, checking on the state of the Junk Pit. It looked pretty much the same: full of piles of stuff. He could see that the razor wire that had blocked their easy escape last night still remained, taut across the doorway that lead into the area. He'd find another way in, either the exit they'd ended up using after the chase or... well, he could just climb down from here.

He didn't see any sign of either Scrapbeak or Avarice. Since the Junk Pit was huge they could be on another side of it, which would be great, but he also didn't hear anything that might sound like them. If one of them had killed the other after they'd escaped yesterday that would be all the better but if both were still alive they would still be fighting it out due to Galeem or whatever, right? Therion wasn't confident that that was the case, so he decided to err on the side of caution and assume there were still two psycho killer-hoarders roaming the area.

And why did I come back down here, again? He thought to himself as he tied a roped around the iron fence surrounding the balcony. The answer came quickly when he caught sight of a few shiny things just begging to be stolen within the piles. Oh yeah, treasure.

He turned to the Fluke Hermit. "Once I'm down there I'll tug the rope a few times. Then you untie it and throw it down to me, okay?"

"Gla gla...?"

"Untie," he repeated, pointing to the rope, "when I get to the bottom." He then pointed to the floor of the Junk Pit.

The Hermit gurgled in a way that Therion hoped meant she understood. It was for her own good anyway; he wasn't going to return this way, and if the rope was left hanging there it might lead to the hoarders following it up to the balcony.

Therion threw the rope down and hopped over the ledge. The rope was loosely wrapped around his unbangled wrist as he made his way down. Nothing ambushed him when his feet made contact with the stone floor below. So far, so good. When he tugged on the rope he was glad to see that the length was thrown back down to him.

Quietly he crept around the Junk Pit. Hundreds of loose items were pushed against the pit's walls and stacked on top of each other, making it hard to tell what was actually the edges of the area, but Therion kept closer to what he assumed was the edge. There were several more of the crystals he'd picked up in the mines throughout the area, which he scooped up and tucked away. He maintained that if there were people mining them, they had to be valuable - and failing that, at least useful. Similar twinkles of light drew him to other junk piles, but he ended up finding more garbage than anything else. Rifling through the items without making too much noise or disturbing the piles enough to collapse them took time, and for every useful little scrap he pocketed there were dozens of broken bottles, fake pieces of jewelry, or worthless twisted metal bits.

He moved deeper in, taking his time as he walked. He treated this more like he was browsing a shop, peeking at everything around on offer while keeping an eye and ear out for the keeper. Another glint of light drew his attention, and he pulled the item out from among the rest of the stack. Ooh, nice. He held the spyglass up to his eye, withdrew it and rubbed the lens with his poncho, then held it up to his eye again. Though it was dim in the Junk Pit, he could see the far side of it from where he stood. Sure that it would come in handy, Therion retracted the spyglass and placed it into his bag.

He'd been making out well so far, but a sense of pessimism told him it probably wouldn't last. He didn't want to stay too long - every minute spent in the pit was another chance he'd run into trouble. After briefly taking on his beast form to climb a mound of broken up furniture and get his bearings, he gradually started to make his way toward the exit that he, Ichiban and Omori had ended up using last night. He kept his pace slow and careful while he searched for anything else that he wanted to make off with. A few things called out to him, not least of all the hilt of a weapon. Curious, he pulled the dagger free from an otherwise empty kitchen knife block and tested its weight. Though far from some kind of weapons expert, the thief could tell it was a high quality dagger. It felt nice to wield after a few test slashes, and the blade itself seemed sturdy. He flipped it around a few times in one hand, then back and forth between his right and left before stowing it next to his Stinging Dagger and throwing knives.

Wonder if I can find a better sword? he thought to himself, brushing his fingers over the cheap scabbard that held his current one. It was just a basic short sword, nothing he was attached to. In some situations a sword served better than a dagger was all. He walked a wide circle around the same assortment of items, scrutinizing it for any other useful weapons.

"Oh...?" Came an evil purr from somewhere behind Therion. He froze in place, heart speeding up now that he'd been caught. Either being thrown into so many crazy, unfamiliar situations was effecting his skills, or he was just losing his stealth edge. Hopefully it was the former. Therion slowly turned around, finding one of the feuding lords of the Junk Pit sitting atop a sturdy pile of trash and grinning down at him. The goblin's eyes glowed in the dim light.

"You were here yesterday, weren't you? Playing with the bird." He tapped a gnarled finger to the side of his head. "Yes, I remember. Unfortunately, I also remember you and your friends didn't pay the entrance to fee to my hall of treasure."

Therion's hands shifted subtly under his cloak. "Oh yeah? And what's that?"

Avarice's ever-present grin sharpened, his mouth stretching wider. "...your life."

The sin personified launched himself from his perch and straight toward the intruder, though by the time Avarice hit the floor with enough force to make a small crater and topple the item piles around him Therion was already on the move. He sprinted away, watching his footing as he skirted around objects large and small laying around the area.

I have got to start making better life choices, he thought to himself as he ran through the dangerous underground junk pit pursued by a homicidal hoarder for the second time in as many days.

Therion looked over his shoulder when a shifting noise caught his ear to find Avarice pulling a huge iron gear from somewhere and hurling it at the thief. Alarmed, Therion whipped around, cloak billowing out as he put the Greed Shield between himself and the gear. When it struck, the force sent vibrations all the way up his arm and knocked him right off his feet and back into a mound of items. The pile fell apart, spilling over Therion like a wave. He struggled to free himself before Avarice reached him, but with one leap the goblin was already there. He reached into the collapsed pile and grasped Therion by the front of his shirt, yanking the thief out.

In one hand Therion still held his shield, and in the other he'd grasped for anything that might be useful. He came away holding a treasure whose colors shifted and changed with the light. Both he and Avarice were momentarily distracted by the item until the thief chose to pocket it.

"That's mine!"

"Finder's keepers!"

Avarice lifted him higher up with intent to smash him into the ground, but Therion ripped himself from the sin's grasp. He landed, backpedaling away from a swipe of Avarice's claws. If you want something shiny, play with this. Therion lifted a hand and a magic circle swirled into existence nearby. From it, a golden gundead shelleton emerged as Therion tested his new power. The shelleton's eyes glowed and a hail of bright bullets shot out toward Avarice in a wave. The hoarder jumped up and out of the way, coming down on top of the summoned minion, though Therion had already abandoned it in order to escape. Nifty power, though.

He beat a hasty retreat, sprinting across the last distance between himself and the exit. Behind him, he could hear the hoarder getting closer to him with each leap. Avarice stopped only once to pull a massive animal skull from one of the Junk Pit's largest piles, dragging it with him to try and smash the thief before he got away. The makeshift weapon slammed down in front of the exit just after Therion had slid through, dislodging a hefty amount of dust and completely blocking the door. Therion coughed, waving the dust away. The adrenaline in his body wanted him to keep moving, but he lingered a moment to see if the skull would move. When it didn't, he realized that it would probably cut off this entrance to the Junk Pit indefinitely. I'd really be pushing my luck if I came back down here a third time anyway, he thought before trudging up the short staircase that would eventually take him to a wider area. From there, he could make his way back into the city itself.

Like most cities its size, the Home of Tears had plenty of shops and other businesses that would both buy and sell items. Therion had already been to a couple of them earlier that morning, offloading some of the things he'd been carrying in exchange for the region's currency "geo." The Puzzling Trapezohedron he'd absconded from the Royal Waterways with should fetch a good price, so after finding another umbrella he headed towards the commerce areas.

Not far from Vamos' smithy sat a slightly different kind of establishment, one that catered to the city's inhabitants that sported less humanoid body types. It also just so happened to be the first place Therion had spotted that morning that would purchase the random hunks of ore and rocks he'd been looking to sell, and since he noticed it up ahead he ducked under the awning to trade in some more while on his way.

Bis and an assistant cat were working the forge, and their ears perked up when Therion approached. The thief still looked a little mussed up from his encounter with Avarice, but since he was dumping a bunch of ore, scale, and metal scraps on the table they didn't ask.

"These are the kind of things you said you'd buy, right?" Therion asked, and Bis nodded enthusiastically.

"Yup, they're purrfect! Sometimes it's just easier to work with smaller pieces when mew are making smaller armor."

Therion nodded, not that it mattered to him what it was used for. As Bis separated the scraps to categorize them and total up their worth, Therion's gaze drifted across the completed works for sale at the smithy. There were helms and cuirass in many shapes and sizes, from felyne-size to some with multiple arm holes or spaces for horns and long ears to fit through. After some moments spent just looking, a thought came to his mind.

"...hey," he said, drawing Bis' attention. "Could you guys make armor for a..." he stopped, realizing what he was about to say as the cat person in front of him tipped his head curiously. "...a lion, or tiger, something like that?"

"Of course! That'd be kitten's play!" Bis laughed. "Do mew have their meas-purr-ments?"

That led to some awkwardness on Therion's part as she shifted into his beast form and let the felyne smiths examine him, take his thoughts on armor, and then bid him return later to collect the finished product.

After securing a buyer for the other odds and ends he had on him, Therion headed back to the heart of the city with no real goal in mind besides potentially rendezvousing with the rest of the Seekers.

Those Who Rave in the Dark

Word Count: 10,678 (+11 exp)
Starring Bowser, Rika, Therion, and Barnabee

Bowser had made his way down the tower via lengthy cat scratch, leaving a trail of kitty claw marks all the way down the outside of the soul sanctum. Once at the bottom he had regrouped at the bottom of it with the rest of the troop, finding them happily snacking on the free brie Jr and Rika had acquired. He happily scarfed down the sizable chunk they had saved for him, and then they got to some scheming about how to pull off IGV’s plan all sneaky like.

With the Troop reunited, Barnabee joined what seemed to be the biggest group. Having disappeared while the others delved deeper, he’d evidently been keeping lookout from the entrance. “Tis good to see you all escaped that place unscathed!” he told those who’d ascended through the Soul Sanctum. “Not that I doubted thee for a moment, but that dread aura we encountered within… well, I certainly do not want for valor, but as Her Majesty’s one and only Hive Knight I could not afford to gamble my life for a mere meeting! But if there is evil afoot amongst the smallfolk of this fair city, my blade is yours. Huzzzzzah!”

While they were at that, a certain bee queen passed by as part of her own descent, and before she could hover off to go mingle with high society, Rika intercepted her.

”Hey! Hi hi! Could we borrow that hat again? I got some random spirits while transporting cheese, it was this whole thing and the pay was bad, and I wanted to make sure we have, you know, every tactical advantage for when we go about this whole covert ops thing” she requested, holding out a hand and showing off the rat and cheese based spirits she had acquired.

Sectonia wasn’t in a big hurry, but considering it hadn’t been more than a couple hours since their last crushing session she gave Rika a one eyed glare, although this was more the way she looked at everyone considering her size. ”I suppose that's fine. King Koopa and his court mage paid for the usage of the day, so here you go.” Sectonia said, pulling out the helmet for Rika. Considering the plans for her and Jr. It would be best if they get some kind of decent equipment.

”Thank you, thank you!” Rika said gratefully, before accepting the hat and, with jr on standby for healing, got to crushing.

The results were ironically not at all useful for Rika’s intended usage of aiding the mission, and yet at the same time very useful in a longer term. Or would be, once they worked out what two of them.

”Oooo, shiny” the ship girl cooed as she examined the golden cheese hat, which she had no idea what it was for, other than looking equal parts expensive and silly. As for the rest, the Geo was stashed, the food and healing items went with Bowser. That left the fan of knives, which somehow seemed to be more the idea of a fan of knives than an actual set of knives, which they found very confusing.

”We may need an expert for these, I have to admit. At least we are in a city where one might be found rather than out in the middle of nowhere” Kamek said, before passing it back to Rika ”you should hold onto this for when you have the opportunity to pop by one.”

Sectonia looked over the items the group had gotten, and besides the massive amount of Geo they had gotten, wasn’t really interested in any of them. Perhaps she should’ve charged them for this use, but what's done is done. She did notice that when crushed, much like what she had gotten, there were those blood vial things, yet no vial of indiscriminate liquid she couldn’t identify.

”Hmm… On a whim I crushed what I had found up there as well. It seems that those bandaged abominations didn’t drop much of worth. Although I did come across this vial I can’t identify.” Sectonia said, presenting the vial of liquid determination she had found. ”Most curious… I haven’t seen anything like this before.”

”I don’t exactly trust anything but the bandages, considering the state of that place,” Kamek admitted, as he examined the vial, and then glanced at the vials of blood. Sectonia could only nod, having no trust of any of that stuff either. Even the bandages could be a bit strange as well, potentially.

”Well, I suppose this ‘blood’ will be sold. Something about it feels wrong, but not in a cursed way, just… conceptually.” Sectonia said, putting the blood vial she had gotten earlier into the koopa troop’s pile of loot, not wanting anything to do with it. She’d just charge them what it's worth next crushing session.

With that all sorted, people started to go their own ways, off to perform their respective sneaky assassinations, eventually leaving just those who were going to raid the Agarthans’ secret base.

”Alright, let’s see who we’ve got!” Bowser declared, before looking over his troops.

”Well I’m still here! Oh, oh and I got bullets again! Plus Kamek left me this oversized beetle” Rika reported while patting the massive horned Stag beetle on the noggin, eliciting 0 response from the magical construct, before she also informing him that: ”It’s good at breaking down walls or gates, and also for digging through stuff, so it should help us break into wherever this place is!”

”Good thinking there, from both of you”

Barnabee puffed out his fuzzy chest, his hands placed heroically on his hips. “Braver than the brave, faster than the fast, stronger than the strong, and of course, humbler than the humble, hoho! Until such time as your cohort may assist in the reclamation of the Hive, its truest Knight is in your service.”

”Great boasting Barnabee”

Not realizing they'd be doing a roll call, one of the Seekers' two cat burglars (the less friendly one) nonchalantly raised their hand. Therion had recently returned from the city's literal underbelly and happened to run into the large group, and after everything was explained to him he was roped into the plan more by the Seekers' enthusiasm than from volunteering for it. Still, he didn't mind helping out. "Alright, let's do this."

”Yeah, let's go do this thing!” Bowser concluded the role call, pointing a finger onwards to where he thought their objective was, only for Rika to physically move his pointing finger about 45 degrees to the right so it was actually pointing towards the royal quarter.

Once the assembled Seekers arrived in the Royal Quarter, their search actually went a lot smoother than they might expect. Luxuriant extravagance, lavish detail, and masterfully crafted appearances were the bread and butter of this grandiose place. The rich green of well-kept mossbrush and the polished, silvery gleam of the chitinous masonry here contrasted quite sharply with the predominantly black, blue, and gray of the rest of the city’s architecture, and though the district looked as distinguished as it did lovely, the relative uniforming of its style brought any exceptions to the rule into sharp relief. That was true for Gallo Tower, of course, but a few other buildings broke the mold, and if they happened to be quite large they were all the more noticeable. As such, it didn’t take long to identify a sizable structure not so far from the sorcerous clock tower, half-hidden in the darkness between the tower and the cavern wall behind it. This structure was tall and angular, its surfaces sheer and metallic, and mostly vertical glowing blue lines adorned it in a strange blend of medieval citadel and futuristic facility. When the heroes approached, they soon found that -in addition to featuring a number of ominous-looking statues by the main door- that it seemed to require some sort of keycard.

”Not bad, not bad at all” Bowser nodded to himself as he took in the looming structure ”Strong lines, dark colors, nice highlights. All around a half decent evil lair, from the outside at least. Maybe it could loom more, and it does kinda blend in a bit. Still, guess seeing as it’s a minion base it wouldn’t do to have it be flashier than the main man’s big tower. Main boy. Whatever”

”So. How are we thinking of breaking in? Frontal assault, some kind of sneaky flanking thing? Oh oh, or we could get up on the roof maybe? Smash a hole and drop down on em?” Rika, riding her living castle wall breaker asked, perhaps underestimating the durability of whatever metal the structure was made of.

”First one’s a classic, all bravado that one, but smashing through a skylight is super dramatic entrance wise too, hmmm” Bowser said as he considered the options, apparently wanting to leave an impression most of all.

"I doubt this thing has a skylight. There's no sky. Doesn't look like it's got windows at all, nor a proper door with a lock," Therion pointed out, a bit annoyed about all of that. On the way over to Shambhala he'd quickly realized who exactly he was working together with: people with more brawn than brains. The thief was no scholar himself, but some of them made him feel like one. Apparently he'd have to talk some reason into them.

"Unless you think you can make it up to the roof without being spotted and make a large enough hole in one shot - which I doubt you can - that plan is a no-go. I might be able to sneak inside and let you all in, but I can't be sure without doing some reconnaissance first." He tucked a fist under his chin, thinking.His tail swished back and forth. "A distraction may work to slip inside during the confusion. Or if we had some explosives..." His gaze slid towards the dragon-turtle and Rika’s gauntlets, not actually sure that they didn’t have any.

Barnabee eyed the Consul’s stronghold nearby. “Hmm…as much as I favor the bombastic approach, given our proximity to yonder tower, would it not be prudent to bee a little more…discreet? T’would not do to provoke our quarry ahead of time.”
The thief gave a half-hearted shrug. "No need to convince me, I'd prefer that. Just wondering how we're supposed to sneak this anywhere," he said, gesturing to the Koopa King.

”So not explosives then?” Rika, who was halfway through pulling out the last of her forearm arm sized torpedoes out of her gauntlets, double checked.

”Eh, one of the kid’s big things was that he didn’t pay attention, no way he’d notice a thing” Bowser retorted with a bit of a growl, only for Rika to point out that ”But the guard fish ladies might, and they are nice, so I don’t wanna have to shoot them” which got him to back off and begrudgingly agree ”Fine fine, we’ll do it your way”

”So what’s your sneaky scheme then”

"First we have to see what we're working with. How many entrances, how to get into them, how many people use them..." Just from the short time they'd spent looking at the place it seemed to only have the one entrance, but Therion couldn't say for sure if it was true or not. And there weren't any people at all going in or out of it. The only thing he noted was some kind of terminal, similar enough to the one on the railway gun and the ones used in the metro to accept passes that he could conclude it had something to do with getting the door to open. The thief clicked his tongue.

"It's unrealistic to come up with a 'sneaky scheme' without more info, but for now we can either find a way through this thing that opens the door," he indicated the keycard scanner as he spoke, "we can wait around until someone else opens it and duck inside, or my pick: see if there's another way in."

”Alright. In that case, while you wait and see if you can ambush some schmuck, we’ll go that way” Bowser pointed to the right of the building, ” and see if there’s any back doors to this place. Would be a pretty bad base design if there was, but hey, not everyone’s as good at this as me” he gloated while cracking his knuckles, before setting off stomping, with Rika riding along atop her beetle at his side

”Yell if you run into trouble!” he called back before the Troop’s brutes vanished around a corner. Considering they hadn’t seen a soul yet, Therion didn’t think that was likely. He waved the others off all the same.

Barnabee joined the group effort to survey the structures perimeter. He went ahead of Bowser and Rika, moving speedily, zipping from spot to spot in a series of dashes. “No back doors,” he buzzed to himself halfway through his second rotation, trying to spot anything he might have happened to miss last time. “Nor windows. Must be damnably stuffy in there.” After another minute or two he couldn’t help but concede that this place was like a bunker, devoid of almost every feature that defined an ordinary domicile or workplace. Once he dashed up onto the roof, however, he finally found something. It couldn’t rightfully be called a chimney, being more of a industrial pipe that eked an acrid, malodorous smoke. But it was something.

“Huzzah!” he exclaimed. Waving down at the others, he shared what he’d found. “I’ve discovered a strange chimney, no doubt connected to some manner of kitchen or hearth! Hasten to the front entrance, this won’t be a moment” This pipe featured a cap above a three-way vent for dispersal, but a quick application of the bee’s sawblade lopped the top of and opened it up, albeit for someone much smaller than himself. The Hive Knight puffed his cheeks up. “Huck…blech!” He spat out a little hiveling, and to his delight found that the itty bitty bee could squeeze into the pipe no problem. “Now, my boon companion, I shall need thee to brave yon noxious fumes, delve into thine enemies’ stronghold, and navigate thy way to the forward portcullis. There must be some manner to open it from within! Canst thou do it?”

The hiveling saluted, then dove into the pipe. Barnabee waited. And waited. Then a particularly foul clump of smog wafted up from the chimney, prompting a wincing grimace. “Egads...poor fellow. This may take a little more time than expected. And a few more bees…”

Up by the front door, the Seekers joined Therion and waited in hiding for a good while. Eventually, despite the thick walls of the structure, they became aware of some sort of hubbub from within. After another minute the front door suddenly slid open, and out spilled a throng of panicking imps covered in stings. Along with them came at least two dozen hivelings, some on fire, some not. Inside, the servants’ quarters -which seemed to occupy this above-ground part of Shambhala- were in a state of commotion due to aforementioned bees. Only two non-imps were present: a crow-masked sorcerer and a veiled witch who’d been brewing concoctions together in the kitchen when the bees first arrived, and who now were attempting to control the chaos despite being stung themselves.

Barnabee dropped down from the roof to join the Seekers, breathing heavily as he wiped both rain and sweat from his brow. “As… promised!”

Therion patted the knight on the shoulder in lieu of actually bidding him a job well done aloud. While the door was open he darted through it, easily weaving around the imps that rushed out the other way. He took it that the rest of them knew to follow before things were under control and the door slammed shut again.

Rika used her grappling hook to launch herself over the crowd using one of the tall statues as a midpoint of a two grapple leap. Bowser meanwhile simply rode the beetle through the crowd while using his shoulder cannons to extinguish flaming bees via water blasts, and loudly insisting he was from the fire department while doing so.

Their less-than-subtle entrance caught the attention of the two Agarthan dark mages. “Intruders!?” the crow-masked one exclaimed, so surprised that he tripped over the hem of his robe as he backpedaled in a panic. He fell on top of the woman in the midst of her attempt to extinguish the alchemical fire in the kitchen nook and toppled her like a domino, driving the wind from her lungs as she got squashed against the floor. “Danae!” he gasped. “Forgive me!”

“Guuuuhh!” the lady gasped, uselessly pounding the tile with her gloved fist. “Get off…me…you…lummox!”

“R-right!” As the sorcerer tried to rise, however, a passing bee knocked a hanging pot off its hook. It fell dang and promptly smacked him in the head with a loud DOONG. “Oogh!” he yelped, instinctively ducking forward. This put him into a headlong stumble until he smacked mask-first into a prep table.

“Stavros? What happened?” Danae got to her feet a little too fast. A combination of lightheadedness and her own veil obstructing her vision led her to slip on a rolling pin immediately afterward, flipping backward so fast her high heels comedically flew straight up into the air as she too disappeared behind the table.

”Bahahaha, what a buncha shmucks!”

As he entered Barnabee kicked the last couple imps through the door to allow it to slam shut behind the team. He peered in the direction of the kitchen to find the two Agarthans relegated to kitchen duty in a half-conscious heap. “That solves that, I suppose.” He turned his attention to a magitech lift in the center of the structure, surrounded by railings on three sides. A passageway descended diagonally downward into the dark, where Those presumably slithered.

”Huh, looks like it goes down more. A lot more” Rika said as she peered over one of the railings, trying to spy just how far they would need to go down before commenting ”Must be real inconvenient to have to elevator food all the way down there huh?”

That said, she did get it, it would be a real blunder to have an exhaust pipe that went deep into your base after all.

”So, are we just gonna ride down, or?” she asked, before turning to the others and finding Bowser had helped himself to what had been cooking while she’d been looking down and Barnabee had been clearing out the last of the riff-raff

”What? Do you want me to leave it all burn” the still beetle riding king said, affronted by the possible waste as he accepted an entire roast chicken from a summoned hammerbro striker, and then popped it in his mouth.

”I guess it would make leaving kinda hard if the kitchen did catch fire behind us” she agreed, having missed his intention

”Uh, yeah, that” he agreed, before showing the striker duo off to go turn off all the ovens and stoves.

”Aaaaanyway. Ride down. Sounds good. What else are we gonna do, ride my shell all the way down the ramp at high speed?” he asked, and then looked to be considering it for a moment.

"Please tell me that was a bad joke," Therion said from over his shoulder where he was hunched down, literally tying up their loose ends with some excess rope. He did not relish the idea of being impaled on those spikes if their ride down went wrong. After frisking the two bumbling mages and relieving them of anything that looked dangerous or important (or valuable), Therion returned to the others at the lift.

"I don't hear any alarms, so as far as we know these two are the only ones who know we're here. Why don't we keep it as quiet as possible while we can?"

After gathering everyone together on the lift, Bowser smacked the conspicuously large button on the console, and the team began to descend. Quick, uneventful, and smooth, the trip took a lot less time than the elevator back at Alcamoth did for Rika yesterday, though at the end of this ride she and the others didn’t get to enjoy a breathtaking, region-spanning vista. Instead, the platform came to a stop in front of a huge futuristic hallway, its darkness illuminated by streaks of turquoise light, revealing immaculate architecture that seemed well beyond the design sensibilities -and perhaps even the means- of mankind. Even Bowser could walk comfortably through those arched doorways with a couple feet of headroom to spare. This underground sanctum had ‘highly advanced ancient technology’ written all over it. Though it was, in a sense, magnificent, Barnabee could not call it beautiful; instead, it felt ominously alien in aspect.

The decor, however, appeared to be more familiar. Stationed against the walls toward the end of the first hall were two towering colossi with the height of six men, armed with massive shields and push-daggers bigger than the average person. They were heavy metal golems animated by ancient artifice, and though terrifyingly huge they stood still for now, their looming presence lending more credence to Therion’s previous suggestion.

Down the hallway, however, one more machine stood smack-dab in the center of the path, facing the entrance. While as enormous as its peers this one sported a more mage-like design. Try as they might to remain out of sight, this wide-open area featured few places to hide, and it wasn’t long before the golem’s burning red eyes locked onto the Seekers’ least stealthy members. ”Intruders”, it rumbled, apparently intelligent enough to recognize friend from foe. With a sudden jerk it lifted up its arms and put its palms together, conjuring a giant fireball. It raised the swelling pyroclasm above its head and slammed its hands together. Its conjuration detonated noisily, and on the heels of that tremendous bang the fallout from the blast detonated on the floor like handfuls of firecrackers, making quite the racket.

A moment later, a magic circle appeared, and in a flash a projection of Thales appeared. With skin, hair, eyes, and beard all white as bone, he might’ve been mistaken as a ghost if not for his heavy red armor, burgundy feather collar, and satin cape. He raised a scruffy eyebrow at the sight of the newcomers, sneering at them with the callous imperiousness of an undead warlord. “Whoever you are, you are fools to come here,” his ethereal voice pronounced. “This place is forbidden, yet you trespass upon the hallowed halls of Shambhala? You are then our enemies, the Consul’s enemies, and your sentence is… death.”

He turned suddenly, calling to people the Seekers couldn’t see. “Remove the binding spell of the Titanus! Initiate all that remain!” In reply, magic surged through the circuits of the giant golems, and as their eyes lit up all four Titanus lurched into action to join the Golem caster in battle. “Let their metal bodies be drenched in blood!” Thales roared, his projection disappearing as his voice echoed through the halls from deeper in. “Damn any who stand against the Agarthans to oblivion, away from the world of the living!”

There went any hope of a surprise attack the Seekers might have tried - though to be fair it was a long shot in the first place with the ragtag group of four that invaded Shambhala. Outnumbered by one by heavy metal machines, they'd be in for a rough time. Therion grimaced, displeased but not surprised at this turn of events. His opening move was to help even the odds a little by summoning the junicorn and pointing it at what would probably be the most troublesome enemy: the mage golem.

”Good idea, let’s shoot the shooty one!” Rika called out in agreement, while also suggesting they ” spread out so it doesn’t explode us all”

Then she used her grappling hook to pull herself up into the air and away from the core of the party using one of the side columns, and then launched a volley of shells from her rigging turrets at the head of the mage titan. She held off on using her main guns due to their lower caliber, which she expected would be rather futile vs the heavy armor, and low range, respectively, in-order to conserve ammo.

Bowser, still riding the oversized beetle, moved out as well, riding parallel to the enemies so he could bring three sets of his guns to bear on them, the king being a lot less tactical or ammo conserving as he indiscriminately volleyed the mage with both explosive shells, and an arching volley of spike missiles.

As he fired, he called out ”Marie, help me blast that thing!” over the din, summoning up the former skullgirl, who appeared floating in the air above him.

“Hmmm. Big” she noted, before sweeping a hand across the corridor, summoning up undead soldiers to act as cannon fodder or, depending on the armaments the had on them got, possibly adding some anti-tank weapons fire to the mix. Then she raised the hand up above her and began showering the mage with a barrage of skull projectiles of her own.

With bold allies like his and his striker subbing in, Therion himself could start his attempts to disappear from the golems' line of sight. That would make it much easier to try and soften the constructs up with his defense decreasing debuff. That, and see if on the off chance there was a way to squeeze by without having to deal with all of these in the first place. The goal was just the one guy, Thales - if they could take care of him and then get out they would succeed in their mission after all.

Everyone focusing on the Mage Golem dealt some appreciable damage to it from afar, although the punishment piled up on its outer shell didn’t impede its function. Like a massive, needlessly elaborate arcane turret it stood its ground and answered in kind with enormous fireballs. After a moment, however, the straight shot to the giant caster closed; the Titanus were on the march. Their formidable shields shrugged off almost everything thrown at them as they lumbered forward, bodyblocking for the mage. In just a few strides they reached the Koopa Troop and began to mow through the skeletons Marie summoned, with the former Skullgirl herself timing out and disappearing before the juggernauts arrived. Rika’s grapple meant she could skirt around the Titanus to press the attack against the mage, and hail-mary projectiles could be more or less blindly arced over their defenses, but Bowser couldn’t get around this problem. With only a handful of skeletons left and their numbers thinning fast, he and his beetle were forced to take on the Titanus.

Barnabee saw the wisdom in Therion’s approach, namely discretion. Shambhala’s fortifications and defenses were no laughing matter–this place was built to withstand a siege. An entire army of soldiers would be hard-pressed to make inroads here with guardsman like those, and the Seekers numbered but a few. He darted around the Titanus to take advantage of their sluggish attacks in the hopes of finding a critical weakpoint he could carve into with his sawtoothed sword, but these machines were cleverly built and he made little progress against their barriers. “This may be one brawl we cannot win this way!” he cautioned the others. “Perhaps we can outpace them? That blaggard Thales called to someone before these colossi came to life. It may be more feasible for thee to oust whoever’s controlling them!”

”I’m not going to back down without a fight!” Bowser yelled back, even the stubborn brute, but that didn’t mean he was just going to charge the titans on beetle back. Insead, he dug into his bag of strikers once again and declared ”Going up!” as beneath his steed he summoned his Trowlon minion.

The spade/flying carpet meant to lift the unwary to the doom instead ascended the king towards salvation. Not that he was content to just hold on to his steed riding steed, and instead the king charged up power in his mawn and then, once he rose up above the heads of his foes, unleashed upon one of them a mega fireball, blasting it near point blank with an orb of flames several meters in diameter wide.

Neither talking nor charging were a free action, and gathering firepower for an explosive burst right in one’s face carried a certain element of risk with its reward. When Bowser unleashed his fireball point-blank, it detonated against his targeted Titanus’s mighty shield mere feet away. The enormous mass of thick armor plating soaked up the firebomb’s explosive force, and though the flame washed over the Titanus, a sweeping swing scattered the blaze far and wide to reveal the huge automaton almost none the worst for wear. Its response came in the form of a ruthless lunging punch to plunge its blade into Bowser’s body and sling him to the floor. The other Titanus followed up with mechanical precision, raising its shield to pound the floor with Titanomachy. The sheer force of the multi-ton strike created a localized shockwave powerful enough to send even the heaviest foes flying.

The king had, fortunately, already been preparing to leap, because while the trowlon was a useful transport, it only really did up well. Unfortunately, as his steed leaped forwards and onto the very shield that had been raised overhead to block his attack, this did leave the striker behind, where a moment after the king abandoned it the sword blade scythed it in half, opening up a sympathy gash along the king’s side as he roared in pain.

Rika for her part had already grappling hooked over the shielded foes, and was still trying to focus down the mage titan to stop it from doing some kind of magical nonsense. To that end she had switched to her much ammo richer Grizco blaster, and was performing the equivalent of fly-bys on the golem with her hook, tapping into her more limited reserves of electric goop to give the large ink explosions a shocking edge, the prokinetic blast she aimed at the arms and face of the mage titan leaving the impact sites covered in shocking slime that would keep on crackling and zapping till it could be cleaned off.

”How do you like that!” she taunted, before calling out a question of ”Magic robots don’t like being shocked as much as actual ones right?”

If she thought her offensive would meet with no resistance, she’d be disappointed; the mage golem’s eyes had been tracking Rika’s every move from the outset. Respectable though the Abyssal’s overall DPS might be, she was just one attacker against a construct meant to hold off an entire platoon, and it had the power -and health- to prove it. The golem soon began its attempts to intercept her, whether by swatting her out of the air with a metallic backhand or by hurling a firebomb at the grappling hook’s impact site. When she coated its eyes, the golem changed tactics. It began to spin with its arms outstretched in a massive, almost whirlwind-inducing lariat, its head spinning to gradually dislodge the goop in the process. Still, while powerful it was ultimately an untargeted attack.

Rika tried to grapple away, only to find herself being dragged in by the vortex and the torque of her grapple to not be able to outpace it entirely ”Oh come on! Pull you whoreson of a rope!”

Maneuvering thrusters fired on her back, giving her more speed, and at the same time she emptied out all of her remaining torpedoes into the vortex, as much to to lighten her load as to try and hurt it more, because the latter seemed like a rather futile task.

Up ahead, Therion maneuvered his way around the fight and through Shambhala’s halls. This place seemed to feature a roughly square layout, with two more layers of nested squares inside. It made sense that the Agarthans’ leader would be within the most fortified central compound, so he delved deeper in until he reached a massive gate. Finding no way to open it, he prepared to take a side path in the hopes of another opening. Just a few seconds into his detour, however, the gate rumbled open on its own to admit two more towering Titanus machines. On the other side of the aperture lay the innermost layer, where Thales and the handful of supplicants he had on hand had rallied together. His lackeys included an axe-wielding Berserker and War Cleric, a spear-wielding Rider atop a strange shelled reptile, a bow-wielding Sniper, and a claymore-wielding Knight. In special magic circles stood the four sorcerers puppeting the Titanus.

Now how am I gonna handle this? The thief thought to himself, hidden from sight for the moment with Barnabee not far behind. If he stayed put it would only be a matter of time until he was discovered, so he had to thank fast. Obviously he couldn't take on everyone in the room at once, so the target now had to be those casters. He didn't have much knowledge of complex sorcery, but surely if the magic circle was disrupted it would allow his companions to find and join him. Unfortunately for Therion the mages were not only spread out into the room's corners, they also appeared to be armored which would make things a little harder than just sticking them with some throwing knives - though he prepared a few anyway.

He wasn't seeing any other way to go about taking down the sorcerers with what he had other than just getting in there and then dealing with the fallout that was sure to come with that plan. Therion took a deep breath, held it for two seconds, and then dashed forward. He needed to strike quickly while he still had a surprise advantage, and he needed to ensure he took down at least one mage before the rest of the enemies in the room mobilized against him, which meant he would be getting up close. His speed easily carried him to the closest sorcerer. Therion leapt at the man, one hand tearing the helmet from his head and the other stabbing his new dagger through the bottom of the caster's chin. The blade slid down its victim's throat before exiting, and with one sudden assassination down Therion whirled around to set his sights on the next.

“HUZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” With a terrific uproar, Barnabee made his entrance to try and wrench away some of the enemies’ attention now that Therion was making his move. He spat out a swarm of twelve hivelings to buzz straight for Thales’ regiment, unafraid to throw their brief but violent lives away if it meant keeping the Agarthans of the assassin’s back. While the armored soldiers shrugged off the bugs’ feeble attempts to bite and sting them with ease, their stubborn headbutts made it hard enough to pursue their target that they focused on slaughtering the hivelings first. The rider in particular fought to bring his mount under control as it snapped at the bees buzzing around it.

That left one major problem: the Sniper. As Therion closed in on his second target, the archer took aim with his compound bow. Rather than face the Berserker and the Knight head-on, Barnabee dashed across the room to appear beside the Sniper. His blazing sword sang as he swung it at the sniper’s head in a blistering sideswipe, but the man’s reaction time was as keen as his reflexes. He ducked down, pivoted to the side, and swiftly loosed his arrow into the Hive Knight’s middle as his swordblade sheared through the air overhead. “Eugh!” Barnabee went flying backward in an uncontrolled backflip, came to a stop against the wall, and sprang off in a blur before a second arrow could lodge itself in a more critical spot.

By that time, Therion reached the second sorcerer. Aware of the disturbance in Shambhala’s sanctum, he’d released his control of his Titanus in order to try and defend himself, but his efforts were too little, too late. Yet this wouldn’t be an easy kill. Knowing his enemy’s intention and destination, Thales himself charged and unleashed Death Γ directly on top of his own sorcerer’s position the moment Therion would arrive. As blackest shadow befell the area, anyone crushed beneath the malefic eruption would suffer its high critical rate.

Before he could even see the spell, the energy of its forming caused the hair on the back of Therion's neck to stand up. Whether intuition or a sixth sense honed by a perilous life, Therion felt the incoming danger. He drew up short of the mage with just enough time to avoid the spell, though the force of its blast sent him staggering backward.

What a bastard, he doesn't care about sacrificing his own guys. More than just cruel, that made Thales all the more dangerous. Now that Barnabee had joined him, they'd both have to be careful since strategic positioning would not help them avoid the man's attacks. Following the Hive Knight's example, Therion summoned his own reinforcements to distract the enemy units. Two shelletons appeared, one charging its sweeping laser and the other scattering its shots at the Agarthans while the junicorn made a reappearance and barrelled towards Thales as a living wrecking ball. And as if the situation in the central room wasn't chaotic enough, Therion was on the move once more in beast form, focusing on disrupting the Titanus control spells in as quickly a time as possible.

Just when it seemed as if Those Who Slither in the Dark were getting things back under control, more minions appeared to keep the discord alive. Thales scowled as he pulled the Knight in front of him to to take the blow from Junicorn, and though the defender broke through his disorientation to strike back at his attacker, neither juggernaut succeeded in hurting the other before Junicorn timed out. Nevertheless, with his summons and strikers adding to the havoc sown by Barnabee and the hivelings, Therion managed to finish off the weakened sorcerer and move toward the next. That meant two Titanus inoperable; this was getting out of hand. Thales extended his hands, palms downward, and summoned a much larger magical circle. It was time to bring the hammer down on these impudent interlopers.


An uproarious shockwave exploded outward from his position, quickly traveling the entire breadth of Shambhala’s sanctum and beyond. Thales’ mighty Quake Σ spell struck the whole map and every non-flying enemy on it, dealing a strong enough physical blow to their legs to send just about anyone to the ground in a heap. This time his allies enjoyed immunity to it, which the destruction of the shelletons only added to. The spear-wielding Rider atop his turtle and the axe-wielding War Cleric moved to obstruct Therion’s path, eager for their blades to bite deep into his mangy hide.

The spear wielder struck first, weapon shearing through fur and flesh while Therion scrambled to right himself after the quake threw even his feline form to the ground. Once back on his paws he leapt away from the Rider, preferring to take his chances with the cleric rather than the man and beast team. She swung her axe and only managed to nick him in the side as he turned and swiped at her. The war cleric pulled her weapon back and deflected his claws, and she was readying her next blow while the rider strode with his spear poised to strike. Therion snarled and pounced, the strength and weight of his wild cat form knocking the cleric onto her back. Then, he took off past the two of them, felt the sting of the rider's spear just grazing his hind leg as Therion abandoned the battle with them and ran toward the third puppeteer.

A handful of giant magic fireballs rained down and exploded upon the ground in front of him. By this point the sorceress had already let go of her Titanus and set herself up for a magical slugfest with a special circle of power. After she splurged mana on an exorbitant amount of fire, she switched to ice magic to refuel.

Thales did not appreciate this. “Bias! He’s too close, retreat now!”

“No way I’m leaving my ley lines! I can cast fast enough to keep him out!” the sorceress barked back. However that turned out not to be the case. The wild cat weaved around the icy blasts and struck with claws extended, slicing deep into the caster's unarmored areas. Her spell was interrupted and she staggered, but she remained within her circle. Undeterred she swapped back to fire once her mana returned to her, slinging a plumes of flame at the circling cat. Once the spells struck and the fire cleared, there was so no burned beast to be found. Therion had used the fire's cover to slip behind the sorcerer back in his human form, and with a dagger in either hand he stabbed the woman in her vulnerable spots. She gasped while her vitality flowed away from her, Therion's HP Thief skill mending some of his wounds before she collapsed.

“These idiots and their ley lines,” Thales snarled. Tome in hand, he moved forward to sling dark magic at Therion himself.

Instead Barnabee intercepted him, appearing in front of the fell arcanist with a blink-dash. Though wounded, the legendary Hive Knight had already felled the Sniper and crippled the Berserker, and he didn’t mind adding the Agarthans’ leader to his list. “En garde!” he roared, his saw-toothed blade singing as he swung it. Though he caught Thales somewhat by surprise, the man was unshakeable, and his Agarthan Technology skill reduced the damage of Barnabee’s swing such that he managed to catch the blade on his gauntlet. “What ho!?” He could only balk in shock at the malefic blackness that swirled around Thales’ other hand before the man unleashed a point-blank Death Γ. With a buzzing cry the Hive Knight sailed away and slammed into the far wall, his chainsaw sword fallen from his grasp. Not even pausing to smile, Thales scooped up the weapon and charged at Therion with the Knight in tow, the Rider and War Cleric coming at the thief from the other side.

The Hive Knight lay where he slid to the ground against the wall for a moment, then stirred to life with a cough. “Majesty…” he gasped. “I shan’t…fail thee!” Puffing his cheeks up, he unleashed a final swarm of twelve Hivelings to aid Therion in his hour of need, then slumped over.

Shit. Despite the tiny back-up fighters, Therion wasn't sure he had a chance with Barnabee down for the count and four enemies bearing down on him. If he played it right he might be able to just slip out from being surrounded and grab the unconscious Hive Knight before scramming. His own fire spell flared to life in his hand, Wildfire fending off the two closest Agarthans while he tried to calculate a way out of his. His striker wasn't ready to be summoned again, so trying for any opening he could create Therion raised an arm to summon more shelletons to his aid. He'd intended for a couple, but managed only one before his mind was suddenly spiraling from an unforeseen consequence of his spirit fusion earlier that morning. Even his vision spun for a moment, and he barely had time to think Oh, no, in confusion before the plans he'd been making were flushed from his head.

The gundead he'd summoned let loose a wave of bullets that peppered the Agarthans, but was quickly overwhelmed and reduced to a pile of shining bones. Then would have been the perfect time for reinforcements, and with timing befitting a hero, or in this case a very determined villain, a voice rang out.

”Fast-ball support special coming through!” came a cry from the grand halfway, followed by a “waaaaaaaAAAAaaaaaaaa“ as Bowser hurled Heel the rabbid supporter over heads of the remaining fighters so the striker could lend aid to the fallen knight.

Far behind him lay the still forms of the three Titanus Therion had disabled, and the fallen form of the mage golem whose body was ringed with claw and crush marks from a brawl with the mighty Scylla, and who’s faceplate had then been caved in by repeated kinetic strike module punches to the face. To his side stepped Rika, who leveled her fully stocked assault rifle and then opened up on the rider and cleric, spitting generous helpings of poison tipped lead their way. The latter scattered, but the mount of the former took so long to get going that it took a boatload of direct hits, so the Rider jumped off his shell-backed steed to use it as cover.

”Sorry we’re late, we had to stop for pizza” Rika called out, which was a truth that hid the fact that she’d more or less had to shove a mushroom pizza into an exhausted and beaten Bowser’s maw to get him going again.

Of course, behind the reinforcements came the fourth Titanus, whose proximity to the sanctum entrance they’d used to open the door in the first place. That left Rika and Bowser sandwiched between the giant knight and several Agarthan fighters, but it split their attention and got some off Therion. One unexpected boon came from the direction of the fourth artificer, though. Rather than focus on the enemies at hand, the sorcerer directed the last active Titanus over toward his own corner to protect himself. That meant that Bowser and Rika could challenge their real target and his honor guard without fear of a metal giant attacking from behind–they just needed to steer clear of that fourth of the room.

The two members of the Troop reacted to the initial sandwiching by engaging their chosen targets aggressively, Rika via grappling hook and Bowser via Beetle steed (though it itself was admittedly on its last legs).

The ship girl pinged a few more shots over the rider’s living cover, before shooting her grapple at it and sliding across the ground as it reeled her in. Then she kicked off the beast and backed up the half meter she needed to be at the perfect range to have the short ranged inky flack grenades of her grizzco blaster detonate over the cover taking the rider's head when she fired them over the bestial barrier. The man wasn’t equipped to deal with this kind of threat and toppled to the ground, head ringing and agonized by elemental affliction.

As she did that, Bowser rode forwards, opening his maw wide and unleashing his vacuum breath in conjunction with super sonic sound waves from his two shoulder cannons, both in a bid to stagger the cleric’s retreat so he could run her down. Instead she turned and charged him back, addled but not overwhelmed by the sonic assault, and on the way the heavily-armored Knight joined her. With axe and claymore they struck at the legs of Bowser’s bug mount, swinging for the joints to immobilize it beneath the overgrown Koopa’s weight while Thales took aim.

“Meddling fools.” Thales glowered at the marauding pair. “You’ll never see the sunlight again!” A geyser of dark magic erupted as he cast Death Γ. Taking damage from any of his spells, made all the more likely by his Hit +20 skill, inflicted both Seal Strength and Seal Magic to turn the tides in his favor.

With the Troop's appearance drawing the enemies away, Therion's closest target was the mastermind of Shambhala himself. After trying to hold his brain together he discarded both stealth and caution due to being temporarily overcome with madness, and rushed toward Thales with his Stinging Dagger poised and ready to cut. In a right state of mind the thief might have aimed for the man's vitals while his focus was elsewhere, but was it were his dagger just flashed forward aimed at anywhere it could find purchase.

Though for a moment it seemed as though Thales had been effectively pincered, the warlord quickly realized that Therion wasn’t thinking straight. He lurched and stumbled like a drunkard overcome with bloodlist, and with neither a steady hand nor keen wit to guide it to the vulnerable gaps, that knife in his hand wouldn’t do the thief much good against a man in plate armor. “Imbecile,” Thales spat as the Stinging Dagger glanced off his cuirass. He lifted his leg to deal the smaller man a swift kick and send him sprawling for a two-handed finisher from his stolen blade.

Barnabee, having only just now risen to his feet after the heal from Heel, reached out his hand. “Sir Therion!”

As if on cue his swarm of hivelings bulled into Thales, packed together tight enough to strike him with appreciable force. With a snarl he slashed through the swarm, scattering burning bug parts in a spray of acrid smoke, but it was the momentary distraction the Hive Knight’s friends needed.

Bowser was not able to take that opening, the King brawling atop his now fallen steed, magma hued lines of power slitting his shell and boosting his power to counteract the sealing of it the mage had inflicted upon him. At his sides were his hammer bro strikers, there to keep one attacker at bay with their hammers while the faster but more vulnerable king used his energy buckler and rocket powered fist to go after the other. His blunt-force pummeling proved rather effective against the Knight’s heavy armor, denting the plate that would otherwise be nigh invulnerable to slashing and piercing damage. More mobile and powerful, Bowser overwhelmed the juggernaut and knocked him onto his back, stunned. Meanwhile, the War Cleric fought desperately against the Hammer Bros, her confusion from the sonic waves making it a lot harder than it should be. She managed to carve her axe into one, and then the other, only to take a parting shot to the noggin that left her crumpled on the ground.

Rika, however, had dropped her cloyster on her own target to finish him off, while she herself came first swinging and then jet boosting in right in time to take advantage of Barnabee’s strike, arm reeled back to deliver a weighty left hook with her blaster armed gauntlet. Weakened by Thales’ Agarthan Technology skill, however, the mage sustained the sucker punch. “Ngh!” he huffed as he dodged away, forced to cede the spot where Therion had fallen. In doing so he also noticed the members of his personal guard in rapid decline. Honed to a lethal sharpness by the realization, he said not a word, but cast his next spell. Quake Σ rippled outward from his position as a massive shockwave, hitting all enemies in the room. Those on their feet got toppled, while those on the ground got launched for a painful fall back to the metal floor.

The bout of madness faded away from Therion, but his head was still spinning especially after being thrown by the quake and crashing back onto the ground. One hand was pressed to his forehead, and with his mind returned to him his survival instincts pushed him to stand up, back off, and assess the situation. One sorcerer and Titanus huddled defensively in one corner of the room, Thales in the center letting his spells loose, and the rest of the Agarthan forces incapacitated or reduced to ashes. They could finish this.

This time when the thief went on the offensive, it was from a distance. He only got close enough to use his Armor Corrosive on Thales, otherwise throwing his knives with much greater precision than when he'd been attacking in his maddened state. When doused, Thales threw his arm and cape up to protect his unarmored face, and the corrosive solution worked its magic on his equipment. The thief’s daggers, hurled from beyond the effective range of Agarthan Technology, forced him onto the defense. His spells could deal massive damage to Therion, but only if they hit, which was proving to be a problem.

Behind him, Rika had been toppled to the ground by the point blank earthquake, and was in the midst of pushing herself up off of it, thankful that the thief had engaged before the mage could take advantage of her prone state. A fair bit behind her, Bowser had just enough neurons in his thick head to do the pattern recognition necessary to work out how to react to being on the receiving end of one if his moves, the king doing a Mario and hopping up into the air before the Quake hit.

Conveniently, his foes were launched skywards alongside his jump, something he took advantage of by driving a rocket kick into the War Cleric to pay her back for the wounds she had given him via striker sympathy, before using the recoil to fly towards and grab the knight and delivering a flying slam to make his landing as hard as possible.

While Bowser occupied himself with beating on the downed enemies, Thales continued his face-off with Therion. After a few moments a monkey wrench was thrown into the mix, however, as the Berserker -slashed and left indisposed by Barnabee earlier- rejoined the fight with a roar. His huge axe swung with timber-felling force.

As focused as he was on both evading Thales' magic and returning fire, Therion would have been nearly blindsided by the warrior if it hadn't been for the battle cry. He threw himself to the side to dodge the heavy blow, only to roll to his feet and find himself facing down another casting of Death. He launched himself backward as the magic exploded in front of him, followed by the Berserker who was raising his axe once more. The tables had quickly turned on him, pushed to exert his energy on avoiding the combination of melee and magic attacks. He wouldn't be able to dodge forever if the two-on-one continued while the other Seekers were preoccupied. It would be difficult to handle one while the other was pressing on the attack, and dealing with both at once would take an act of divine intervention.

"...!" There was that which Therion hadn't tried using yet: the gift granted by Aeber to thieves. He had a feeling if he used it now, it would work.

Therion's body began to glow, the intensity of the light increasing as he Boosted himself thrice to use the divine skill. To the savvy it would be clear that the thief was preparing something, but there would be only seconds to do anything about it before Aeber's Reckoning rushed through the area. The conjured daggers shot out from behind Therion to strike at all foes remaining in the room, ripping through the very air with their speed and power.

As the sheer atmospheric force of the imminent divine skill struck him, Thales abandoned all pretense at fighting to hunker down on full defense. Then Aeber's Reckoning tore through the air of Shambhala's sanctum, its flying blades cleaving streaks of light through reality like the claw marks of some divine beast. The Berserker didn't know what hit him, and with his low Resistance, he never got the chance to find out. Instead he sank to the ground, his body scoured by holy blades, and his monstrous helmet hit the floor with a clang, the impact a note of dreadful finality as he -and the severing light- died out.

Thales himself fell to one knee, gasping. Combined with his reduced defense and the damage he'd already taken, things were looking dicey. No more peons remained to aid him–where were Kronya, Cornelia, and Solon? "After a thousand years, living only for vengeance," he growled. "How could this be? This is our inglorious end!?" Gritting his teeth, he glared up at Therion and the others. "Why!? Who are you people? Surely not servants of that vile goddess…? Will it truly take our eradication to appease you?"

”Your boss’s friends got in our way” Rika replied casually as she dusted herself off from her date with the floor, revealing just how impersonal and tangential to their actual goals this attack was. Then she leveled her rifle at him to bring it to an end.

Thales wasted no time talking; not when another turn of the clock brought a certain spell within reach. With explosive suddenness he unleashed the fell sorcery he’d been gathering, giving rise to a purple gravitational maelstrom in front of him that lashed out with bolts of arcane lightning like lunging serpents to nearby targets. Bohr Χ, the highest tier of dark magic, crushed those caught in its deadly grasp with fundamental force, leaving them at just 1 HP. Then, with the cooldown complete, he prepared to cast his wide-ranging signature move Quake Σ to finish them all off in one fell swoop. “...For the new dawn!”

The Seekers had just one crucial moment to act, and this one was for all the marbles.

A new dawn bloomed, but not one that Thales wanted. Instead it came in the form of a beam of light lighting up the room as it lanced over the head of the crushed and re-floor introduced Rika, one fired from the maw of the koopa king, who’s occupation with beating on the downed enemies had left him clear of the gravity well.

“Grrragh!” The attack knocked Thales flat on his back. Bowser’s laser left a smoking hole in the warlock’s weakened chestplate, and the scorched insides did not bear mentioning. He twisted and writhed as his body seized up, then released his last breath as the world faded away. “Ohhhh…”

Finally, after a hard-fought battle, the Seekers were triumphant. The humans that survived the fight were in no condition to fight back. With the bulk of the Agarthan forces elsewhere they struck at the heart of their stronghold, and their leader was no more. Though many of the vaults here featured biometric locks tailored to their owners, whatever the victors could find was theirs for the taking, from pouches of coin to arcane remedies to knowledge-packed tomestones. Of note, a black coffin lay within a special ritual circle in the room’s forward focal point.

After being laid out by the Bohr spell, Therion popped the cork on one of his potions of healing and took a breather once Thales was finished. He was spooked the man had been holding onto a spell like that the whole time, but thankfully the Seekers had all made it through. He hadn't gotten a good look at the room since his focus had been on the enemies inside it, but now the thief glanced around. Besides the cursed looking coffin, he was certainly not above ransacking the place after the ordeal they'd just been through.

"Let's take what we can carry and get out," he suggested. A quick retreat was his preference, but not so fast that they couldn't line their pockets first. Coins and other obvious valuables were Therion's first priority, keeping most that he got to first but tossing a few to Bowser, Rika, and Barnabee as part of their share.

The troops first priority meanwhile was to have Rika eat a slice of cheesecake to get her off of death’s door. The second was however also looting, though with Therion already on the case of working out what was and what wasn’t valuable money wise, Rika focused on nabbing spirits of whichever humans had ended up dead rather than down, while Bowser found himself looking at the coffin at the center of the room.

”Hmmmm. Hmmmm” he hummed as he pondered as to whether the coffin was cursed, contained an ancient evil, or was just plain valuable before shrugging, grabbing it, and hauling it over his shoulder, assuming that it had ”Got to be some kind of valuable right?” if it was such a prominent centerpiece.

"Or it's just a desecrated corpse," Therion pointed out, giving Bowser and the coffin a wide berth. Who knew what fucked up rituals they could have been performing with it.

”What no way, they wouldn’t leave something like thought in the middle of the room taking up space! Gotta be some ancient evil or something in here. Watch,” Bowser insisted, before going against his earlier judgment of not opening it now and cracking open the lid of the coffin just to prove he was right. Barnabee looked on as he continued to steady his breathing, his gaze dubious, but he said nothing.

For a moment, there was silence. Then a booming guitar riff resounded through Shambhala’s sanctum, emulating a classic snippet of organ music. Then the coffin lid shattered into a hundred wooden fragments, flying at high speed, thanks to a handful of strange black drills. From the coffin’s shadowy insides rose a demonic figure, horned and winged, strumming a blue electric guitar. She rose higher and higher, floating without any flaps from her membrane-devoid wings as more shadowy drills formed in the air behind her, until with a final stroke all the drills launched straight upward like a wrestler’s pyrotechnics.

Concetta Caciotta held the pose for another dramatic second, then took a deep breath and opened her eyes. They were orange, a brighter and more fiery orange then her giant fluffy ponytail. “Thank you, Bowser!” she announced, her voice cast in a thick Italian accent. “But the vampire is in another coffin!”

”See, told you so” Bowser gloated, indicating to the guitar wielding demon. Therion raised an eyebrow, gradually relaxing from the defensive stance he'd taken when the mystery lady emerged. "Alright, I stand corrected," he muttered.

Bowser then turned actually addressing her to check ”Are we going to have a problem or are we as cool as that awesome intro of yours?” the king having been genuinely impressed by the display and apparently not at all going to question how she knew who he was.

“Yeah, I’m pretty awesome!” Concetta beamed before the other part of his statement registered with her, which left her blinking. “Huh? Problem? Why? You got a problem?” A sudden rumble echoed through the room, and Concetta clasped both hands on her stomach with a groan with her guitar hanging from its shoulder strap. “Ughhhhh…” Drifting downward, she landed in a sitting position on the edge of the coffin, doubled over with her face a pitiable grimace. “I’m so hungryyyyyy…”

”I mean hanging out in a coffin would do that to you. Want some uh” Bowser checked his pockets and realized they’d already eaten the food they had gotten earlier. ”Uh.. Oh, wait, there’s probably some stuff left in the Kitchen if you want to grab something on the way out. Probably” he had eaten most of the obviously good stuff but he was sure there would be something left over.

“Molto bene!” At the mention of food, Concetta literally launched herself at Bowser, flying through the air to grab him around the neck in a giant hug. “What are you waiting for, then? Get me out of here!” Kicking off him, she hovered through the air, looking every which way. Unfortunately for her, the halls of Shambhala looked all the same. “Gah! Which way!?”

”Over here! Come on, let's move before they regroup!” Rika called from the way they had come, having gone out to inspect the fallen titans to see if she could get one to spirit-ify or not. Unfortunately, as they were not dead -just inanimate- they offered no such rewards.

”Alright alright, let’s move it people! Time for a victory feast!” Bowser declared, before starting to haul tail out of there with the rest of the group.
Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

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Our Hearts Feel No Pain

Location: Home of Tears - Royal Canopy Club
Starring Primrose and Sectonia
Word Count: 13865 (+14)

After exiting the sanctum and stopping briefly to catch those who'd stayed behind up on the current plan (and to help Rika crush some items), Primrose and Sectonia made their way over to the Royal Quarter. Pretty quickly after arriving they directed their attention to the Royal Canopy Club, the most likely place to find the target they were after. Primrose plucked a poster advertisement for the club from a light post as they went.

"The way I see it, we have two options," she said. "We find Cornelia and tail her until we find an opening. However..." Primrose glanced at Sectonia, her majestic figure the exact opposite of subtle. "...it would be unlikely we won't be spotted before we can get her alone.

"The second option is to strike while everyone is distracted; Cornelia and the people around her."

Normally that would seem like the more difficult option, but if what she was reading about the Royal Canopy Club was true then it just might work. Performances by the famous and talented were always sure to turn heads. And Primrose herself was quite curious about the nature of the competition.

Sectonia could only huff at option 1. Primrose had a point, but she didn’t like it. ”if I wasn’t a ‘mercenary Queen’ as it were, just my name and kingdom would be enough to get an audience… ” Primrose could see Sectonia wasn’t happy about her plan, but understood it was necessary. ”... If we go with plan two, how would we even pull that off? If direct conflict is going to happen, the best distraction we have is the Koopa King. He would be up to causing chaos too…” Sectonia thought a bit to herself, trying to think of how this would go. Normally it would be the whole ‘poison in the wine’ trick, but she doubted that would work here.

”Really getting her to come out seems like the easy part. Getting rid of her without making it a huge mess… is the problem.”

"We'll have to see what the inside of the Canopy Club is like. I've been in plenty of opera houses and entertainment halls, if it's anything like those there are seats reserved for the owner and their prestigious guests called boxes. Enclosed on each side, hence the name, with a window to watch the show. Many times the boxes are set away from the common audience. If Cornelia is in one of them during performances, she'll be cornered." As she spoke, Primrose did her best to illustrate her explanation with her hands.

"Of course if she is on stage instead, that changes things." It would be a lot harder to handle for one, and it would probably be impossible to catch her alone backstage. "But our first matter of business will be getting in, hm?"

”I suppose. Lets go about collecting information to see what that whole place is about. Perhaps something will enlighten us. IGV there wasn’t much help.” Sectonia said, dismissively waving a hand back at the Soul Sanctum.

When they reached the Royal Canopy’s opulent entrance, they found one annoying issue straightaway: the line. A great many well-dressed bugs and monsters stood queued outside the front door between the red-velvet ropes, and at the very front, fastidiously examining each and every would-be patron for the correct credentials, was a well-dressed mighty mechanical man with a bow tie and little bowler hat. He positively towered over just about everyone at almost ten feet tall, and he wasn’t the only one taking security very seriously. A few members of the city’s mermaid guard stood by on lookout, their tridents much in evidence as they kept an eye out for any trouble. At least the line lay beneath the shelter of a gold-trimmed burgundy awning to keep the rain off, although it was a little cramped for Sectonia.

Waiting in the line took a good ten minutes, which gave the two a chance to look into whatever they could find in their surroundings. In addition to the queued-up club members in front of and behind them, they might notice the posters outside the Royal Canopy. The ones spread throughout the Royal Quarter came in all kinds of varieties, but these ones were uniform and united in purpose. They depicted a smiling Cornelia from the jaw down in the background, her hands cupped rather conspicuously in front of her chest beneath a spotlight, and in the palms of her hands stood an elegant, fluffy moth striking a dramatic pose. The tagline was simply Cornelia presents: Mothiva, and the main event was slated to begin in just about an hour’s time. There were a couple slight variations on this ad, but they were all pretty similar. It seemed like a major marketing push for this one bug’s debut performance.

”Hm… This ‘Cornelia’ has something about her that looks ‘off’. Like at any point she is going to bite your head off but in a crazy way. ” Sectonia commented, looking at the poster of their target. ”She has natural beauty, but chooses to use it to look more monstrous, what a waste. ” Sectonia then looked at the newcomer, a moth girl that wasn’t too out of place for all the insect themed members of this town. ”This one at least looks like she is trying to look beautiful to be beautiful.”

"You think so?" Primrose tipped her head gently, following Sectonia's gaze to one of the posters and trying to see what the queen saw in Cornelia. The little bug in her hands did appear to be very elegant, no less than Cornelia herself, but Primrose didn't quite see what the shame was in her using her looks for promotion, or for intimidation. Was it so different than using any other skill one possessed? Then again, Primrose knew Sectonia did have some very particular views about beauty.

"Well, there could be any number of reasons she chooses to do that," the dancer said. Reasons I won't look into, considering our goal is to kill her.

She changed the subject. "It may be that Cornelia will be on stage after all, as an opening or closing act for Mothiva." She was hard to tell what exactly was to go on inside the club. Were the dueling acts all part of a larger competition and Mothiva was just one performer vying for the number one spot? Or was it a separate event that would play out at some point? And what of the proprietress herself? Once they made it inside hopefully they'd find the answer to those questions. But this line...

"Hopefully we won't have any problems getting in. I've no idea what exactly they're checking for."

”Possibly. And if there is some competition going on, your skills will help.” Sectonia said, thinking about what exactly might be going on here, but not entirely sure. And with what Primrose noted at how long it took for people to come in and get checked, Sectonia gave her thoughts. ”If I had to guess, weapons.” Sectonia said. ”Royals have lots of enemies from both sides of the morality spectrum.”

"Makes sense." Though hopefully that was not the case, as Primrose was not going to give up her family's dagger and she'd hate to have to come back and wait in line again after leaving it somewhere safe.

Eventually the two reached the front of the line and came face-to-face with the looming bouncer, Ottomo. At least, Sectonia could; even with her newfound height, Primrose fell rather short. The machine sized them up with the harsh glare of its unblinking yellow eyes, looking over both their faces and clothes, or lack thereof. “...Dressed to kill, are we?” he asked, a hint of sarcasm in his artificial voice. He spoke in the manner of a refined English butler, albeit undercut by a slight tinny distortion. A brief pause passed between the three of them, as if he were waiting for something. “...Your names, ladies?”

”Queen Sectonia.” Sectonia said, giving a bit of a haughty laugh at the metal butler’s joke, appreciating he knew proper etiquette.

"And Primrose Azelhart, sir." The woman in question smiled, her practiced expression confident but not conceited. She was following up a literal queen's introduction, after all.

The robot’s expression did not change. “‘Queen’, goodness…” Instead, he gazed out into the distance. “Hm-hm-hm,” Ottomo muttered. “Sectonia…Primrose…Azelhart. Hmm. Dear me, and yet…” His gaze snapped to the Queen, and there came a whirring of mechanical joints as he slowly crossed his enormous, long, lanky arms. “It would seem that you’re not on the list, ‘Your Highness’...nor you, miss Azelhart. And I can see that neither of you are Gold Members…a pity then, but I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you to leave.”

Considering how little intel they actually had about this whole place, this wasn’t unexpected. Sure, she wasn’t denied out of shows in Floralia, but she ruled there. Here, she was a traveler, and not getting a free pass, if annoying, wasn’t unexpected. ”Hmph, I will have to have a word with the man who recommended this place.” Sectonia said, saving face as you do when rejected. But now at least they understood what the holdup was.

Primrose was not as concerned with her reputation, and so she asked the doorman, "how would one go about being invited in? As an attendee or as a performer." As she asked he sashayed her hips so that the metallic accents of her outfit jingled, informing those around her of her trade.

Ottomo made a staticky sound that might have been a polite laugh, or maybe a snicker. “Hmhm. As an attendee, madam, you must’ve bought tickets of course. A week ago would’ve been a good time to start, before they sold out. And as a performer?” He turned his head in the direction of the nearest Mothiva poster. “Well, if you haven’t impressed someone important lately, perhaps you could entertain yourself on the rehearsal stage.”

At this point some of the fancy bugs in the line were getting a bit impatient. Ottomo looked down his metal nose at the uninvited guests. “Now then, if you’re quite finished?”

"Yes, yes. We'll get out of your way."

After shooing the Seekers away, the well-dressed Cur directly behind them in line stepped up, and Ottomo seemed to recognize him. “Ah, Mr. Greentail.”

“Ottomoooo!” Rukey greeted warmly, a somewhat sleazy smile on his nout. “I said I’d be back, and here I am!”

The robot crossed his arms. “Indeed, but I’m rather more concerned where you are not. Namely, the admission list.”

“Whaaat?” The gentlemanly Cur exclaimed, an astonished look on his face. “But I bought a ticket this time and everything! I was hoping to enjoy an afternoon of exquisite culture with my pal here.” Rukey produced a bottle of gleaming amber whiskey, his ears drooping with disappointment. “You’re telling me it’s gonna go to waste?”

The moment Rukey’s bottle appeared, Ottomo’s optics stuck to it like velcro. “Mmm… Mr. Greentail, you of all people should know that outside beverages are not permitted on the premises.” He suddenly held up a finger. “Oh, but I beg your pardon. It seems as though your name is on the list. I’m afraid I’ll need to confiscate this liquor, but you’re free to enter.”

“Works for me!” Rukey grinned. He handed over the whiskey to Ottomo, who stowed it in a compartment in a flash, then waltzed right into the Royal Canopy. On the way he winked at Sectonia and Primrose. “Better luck next time, ladies~!”

Annoyed, but not blindsided by this outcome, Sectonia left the line with Primrose, taking her aside to discuss plans. ”Not surprising, but it's good that we know how to get in here. Do you feel like trying a bit of a performance?”

"I wouldn't mind, but we'd need someone 'important' to impress first. Dancing right outside the club is a bit..."

Well it was in bad taste for one. They couldn't be sure it was even allowed either, they didn't know the laws of the city. Maybe they needed a permit for outdoor performances or something to that effect. Maybe security would run them off. Or... maybe there was a slim chance that a dance would take some customers away from the club, thus the staff would usher them inside instead. But it would have to be something spectacular if tickets had already been bought and paid for. Primrose closed her eyes in thought. It may be best to try getting some attention from the professionals and their attendants in rehearsal, if she understood Ottomo right. If nothing else they could always go find a bribe for the doorman.

Sectonia looked at Primrose oddly. ”Outside the club? No no, the Rehearsal stage. I have antlions for something like that.” Sectonia said, surprised that was her first thought. Was that her profession before becoming a seeker or something? "Let's see about that rehearsal stage. We'll try our luck there." Sectonia nodded, and the two girls went to find the rehearsal stage.

Built as an adjunct facility not just beside but beneath the Royal Canopy Club itself, the rehearsal theater -accessible via discreet staircase- was carefully tucked far away from the main entrance and the public eye, all to make sure that the club’s guests saw neither hide nor hair nor heard a peep from the performers as they practiced. All the hired help could be found rushing around and making preparations in that literal staging ground as well, from prop artists to costumers to aestheticians. Though a drab and unimpressive affair of wood by itself, this second-fiddle theater thrummed with activity as people undertook last-minute rehearsals and preparations. Of course, by now -with showtime hours or minutes away- any professionals should already have all their ducks in a row. However, that wasn’t the case for everyone, as the two new arrivals saw after a few minutes.

“No, no, no!” a one-wheeled machine moaned, dramatically putting the back of a gloved hand to his head. Instead of a face his front panel featured a 4x5 array of rectangular lights, but their dejected red flashes expressed his feelings well enough. He’d been standing on the stage in front of two fluffy white moths while they rehearsed a dance routine. The one on the right, light on her feet and full of poise, had been dancing gracefully, her movements smooth and natural. In contrast, the one on the left struggled to keep up, often missing the mark -even if just slightly- and then hastily overcorrecting. Anyone with a modicum of experience in this field could tell that her problem came not from a lack of skill, but a lack of familiarity; this dance was not just complicated but also fast-paced, making it tough to learn from scratch. Unfortunately, this moth’s best effort wasn’t good enough. “You two need to move in lockstep!” the robot told the underperforming insect as his favorite stood haughtily aside. “Backup dancers need to be in perfect sync, not just with one another, but with the star of the show! There’s no room for error. Come on, let’s go again!”

“Ugh. Forget it.” With a sigh of exasperation and disgust, the moth reached up, took hold of a silver tab at her neck, and pulled it down. The white fluff fell away to reveal a hair demon known as a Yomotsu-Shikome. Looking royally pissed, she shrugged off what turned out to be a convincing moth costume and tossed it toward the director bug before slinking off. Mettaton clapped both hands against his head, which sent a ripple of red across his yellow lights. “Another lost cause! How many is that, three? Four? You just can’t get good help these days!”

A well-dressed spectator ant nearby adjusted his hat, his antennae drooping and a defeated look on his face. “Two.”

“What matters, dear Anton, is that we bring in number three!” Mettaton decreed as he wheeled around, his segmented arms on his ‘hips’. “Come now, surely you must have some extra talent around here somewhere, Mr. Casting Director?”

“Look, I can ask around again, but everyone’s already busy,” Anton snapped. “And even if they weren’t, the routine is too complicated, and the pressure’s too high! Nobody’s going to stick their necks out. It’s a miracle Shiko even tried!”

Mettaton wobbled back and forth on his wheel as if about to faint, his palms pressed against the side of his head in shock. “Nobody!? Do you have any idea how much is riding on this performance!? How much Cornelia spent promoting her new rising star!?”

“Not my problem,” Anton insisted, crossing two pairs of arms. “This is Mothiva’s fault for insisting on Silk Moths as dancers. And yours for encouraging her.”

The criticism seemed to affront Mettaton. “Hello? The group is called ‘Mothiva and the Sugarpuffs’. Only Silk Moths will do! …Or a skilled stand-in in a Silk Moth costume. And yet there are no stand-ins to be found, let alone skilled ones!”

Anton rubbed his head, sick and tired of this whole ordeal. “Ridicule all you want, it still won’t get you a replacement. Why not just go with Mori?” He jabbed his mouthparts at the actual Silk Moth. “Or no backup dancers! Mothiva’s good enough to stand on her own feet, isn’t she?”

Mettaton gasped at the proposal. “This is why you’re backstage and not on television. You can’t have a diva without backup dancers, first of all. And there needs to be an even amount of them, split evenly on either side so as to compliment the star, not distract from her! That’s showbiz, baby!” With Mothiva’s performance less than an hour away, however, and no spare performers on hand to literally fill the role, it looked as if Mettaton’s goose might be well and truly cooked. “Look, go after Shiko, will you, Anton? Tell her I’ll pay double. Triple! I can try to simplify the choreography! We need somebody!”

Well, it seemed there was some opportunity here. While not much for the whole ‘preparing a show’ thing, as that wasn’t a Queen’s role at all, announcing her presence was. Giving a flutter of her wings to block Primrose, Sectonia said. ”Looking for another in your show? Luck would have it that my performer is looking to be in a show.”, and with her showmanship, lowered her wing to reveal Primrose. Catching on quickly the woman in question struck a simple pose as she was unveiled, though it ended up being a moot point given how desperate the robot was. ”It sounds like you're in need of dancers, and as it so happens, my dancer here is looking to be in a show. Quite serendipitous. ”

Mettaton’s lights blinked excitedly. “Yes, yes, I heard you the first time. That’s marvelous news, provided she’s up to snuff!” He scooted right to the edge of the stage to get a good look at Primrose. “A human? How quaint! Still, it takes all sorts, as Lady Cornelia can attest! If you can fit the costume and dance worth a damn, you’re hired!”

Meanwhile, Anton looked taken aback. “Wait, hold on a second. I know you’re desperate and all, Mettaton, but I’ve never seen these people before. This seems way too convenient. Shouldn’t we vet her first?”

“There’s no time!” If the robot had eyes, he would’ve rolled them. “If she can’t cut it, I won’t send her out.” Bundling up the moth costume, Mettaton hurled it at Primrose. “Desperate times, Anton. Desperate times.”

After catching the costume and unfurling it to estimate if it was indeed her size, Primrose glanced at the room's occupants. She and her "agent" had not discussed a thing since walking in and witnessing the dramatic scene of a dancer quitting, but Primrose thought she had an inkling of what Sectonia was thinking. Either way they could talk about it after getting their "in."

"Show me the steps once before I change," she said, striding forward. "It will be a lot easier to see them when I'm not wearing a costume head over my eyes."

Given her profession, she’d noted the two dancers and watched their movements when she Sectonia had first arrived. A complex routine to be sure, but one she should be able to replicate after seeing it properly up close. She hadn’t played the role of a backup dancer for a long time, but so long as she could match her partner’s pace - or if she can match mine - it should work out.

She stepped up onto the rehearsal stage and paid close attention as the choreographer Mettaton laid out the steps and the moth dancer performed them. Then, with her brow furrowed in concentration, she duplicated the dance.

“Excellent! Stupendous! Astonishing!” Despite lacking an expression, Mettaton seemed incredibly relieved. “We’re saved!”

“You’re saved, you mean,” Anton muttered.

It’s doable. And better still she wouldn’t have to worry about schooling her facial features with that big head on. "Which way to the changing room?"

“Can’t you just put it on over that…erm, ‘outfit’ of yours?” Mettaton waved a dismissive hand at one of the rehearsal theater walls, which featured a number of small, unimpressive rooms. No doubt the big stars got dressed elsewhere. “Have your pick. But hurry back, we’re going to be rehearsing ‘til it’s time. Everything must be just right! Which reminds me.” Suddenly, all of Mettaton’s lights turned red as he regarded Primrose. “You’d do well to remember one thing. I know I lavished praise on you a moment ago, but keep in mind that you’re a backup dancer. Don’t get a big head, and don’t deviate from the script. If you do anything to upstage Mothiva…” Mettaton slapped his ‘knee’, breaking the tension. “I’ll be the least of your worries!”

She blinked at his aggressive warning. Was he implying that if she made trouble, someone higher up the chain of command would see to her? Most likely that wasn't the point he wanted to get across, but Primrose nodded all the same. She turned away and beckoned Sectonia to follow her so that they could squeeze into one of the empty rooms. There, the two of them quickly discussed their plans while Primrose shucked the bulkier of her items and suited up. While Primrose rehearsed here and eventually made her way on stage, the queen of Floralia would get into the Royal Canopy Club herself. Once inside she'd pass anything she learned onto the dancer, who'd then do her best to draw some attention to herself - the exact opposite of what the choreographer cautioned against.

With Primrose having her in and her plan as a ‘distraction’ able to occur later on possibly, Sectonia gave her a silent and quick thumbs up before making her way out of the little room and to the club itself. Seeing as her dancer was rehearsing right now, she didn’t have a ‘free pass’ into the theater through the proper channels. But through improper ones, it wouldn’t be too difficult to sneak inside. Or that is what she would be saying if she wasn’t so large. She couldn’t just blink through the front door, as that would be far too obvious. So she’d have to find another way in. At least her flight made surveying the rest of the building not that difficult.

Using haste and her own blink ability to not give too much attention to herself, Sectonia found a few ways to enter the building. There was the main skylight, but that would be quite the foolish way to get in there. There were a few other windows along the building, but they also led to crowded hallways and suddenly appearing inside one of those could cause issues as well. It would take her some time to find a proper time to teleport in with one of these higher up windows, and she really didn’t like this whole ‘stealth’ thing. Hopefully she wouldn’t have to do it too often…

Using her blink ability and her haste ability, Sectonia found a good time to teleport inside, and did so. Finding a time to join a crowd walking to the next show wasn’t too difficult, although finding a spot that worked with her sensibilities wasn’t an option with this method. At least there was a place for flying bugs like her to hover and watch the performances. And another small aside, at least these were noble bugs so it wasn’t too bad…

Even if the Royal Canopy’s aesthetic didn’t quite gel with Sectonia’s personal tastes, she had to admit one thing: it was opulent. In the middle of a vaulted, domed ceiling of golden grandeur, its arches arrayed like beams of light radiating outward from a glass facsimile of a starry night sky. Ornate lamps and chandeliers of gilded glass illuminated luxurious crimson tapestries, larger-than-life statues decked out in illustrious attire, and the faces of the impeccably-dressed guests. She’d reached the grand main atrium in the middle of a performance. Elegant classical music swept through the hall, played by a full orchestra of ghostly musicians, and though little more than empty black suits and dresses suspended in the air behind the main stage, their symphony was one of haunting beauty. The limelight lay not on them, however, but on two equally faceless machines engaged in an intricate two-person ballet dance. Though towering in stature and forged from heavy metal, the twins -indistinguishable but for one’s glittering golden jacket- moved with remarkable fluidity, grace, and power. Their stunning performance left the audience enchanted, and the last few minutes of their act flew by like seconds before the two finally whirled together, clasped hands, and took a bow.

Once the uproar of applause died down, the spotlights turned to highlight the best seat in the house, a raised circular lounge directly ahead of the stage where the occupants could not only take in the performances, but be seen by everyone else. Basking in the spotlight as if she’d been born in it was a drop-dead gorgeous woman that by now Sectonia surely recognized. With wavy peach-orange hair, an irresistible smile, and a figure to die for clad in the finest burgundy silk dress and aristocratic plumage money could be, Cornelia drew every eye as she took a microphone in hand. “My my, another cutting-edge performance by the Royal Canopy’s very own Twins, Left and Right!” she sang out. “It’s shaping up to be a delicious evening! And as you all know, we’re due an encore performance as the Twins put their best feet forward against their challengers. Please welcome back to the stage after their breakout performance earlier, the Gruesome Twosome, the Heralds of Halloween… Skid and Pump!”

From behind the curtains between the two halves of the orchestra, two ghoulish little guys emerged. They spotted the Twins straight away, each of them easily twice the pair’s height once stacked together, let alone by themselves. They gulped at the sight of their competition, clearly nervous, but the applause of the audience seemed to steady them. While many of the club-goers rooted for the Twins, entranced by them in more ways than one, plenty still wanted Skid and Pump to win. Being the underdogs against a well-established staple of the club for whom victory had become rote garnered them a little bit of an advantage, at least. They put on a brave face and advanced to the stage to join the Twins, who stood with one hand on a hip apiece staring at the newcomers impassively. The possibility of getting shown up in such a public venue certainly justified some nervousness, but from the way their knees shook Sectonia couldn’t help but wonder if something other than first place was on the line.

With a wide, almost hungry smile, Cornelia snapped her fingers. “Hit it!”

As one, the orchestra began to play, unleashing a wave of sound through the atrium. As it rippled across the floor and along the walls, patterns on the red carpet and lines on the walls lit up, peaking like the bars of an equalizer. Their music could be identified as an altered, punchier, more artificially resonant version of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, at least in part. On the wall above the rear curtain, a wide bar began to glow, its left half orange with an icon of Skid and Pump, its right half gold with an icon of the Twins. Then the icons slammed together in the middle, the opening concluded, and the face-off began.

The Twins advanced like ballerinas, quickly stutter-stepping on their tiptoes or making long, floaty, graceful jumps with one leg stretched forward and the other back. With the action amplified by the stage, each step sent out a ripple of golden energy, and each impact a stronger wave. Moving on every other beat, they quickly closed the distance on their competition. They kicked, danced, pirouetted, and fluttered their feet in time with the music, and in turn it punctuated their deadly flourishes with physical blasts of sound. Unable to withstand the Twins’ assault at close range, Skid and Pump boogied away as fast as they could, and though speedy enough to move on each beat, their shorter legs covered much less ground. As they struggled to find the beat, they tried to keep the Twins at bay by beatboxing with their mikes, dipping and dodging together in a peppy, catchy dance. With each beep and boop an amplified soundwave shot out like an arrow, flying at the Twins from different angles. At first it seemed like their foes had them on the ropes, and the slide of the icons towards the left as the Twins pushed them back indicated as much, but slowly Skid and Pump managed to synchronize, not just with the beat of the unfamiliar song but with one another, they began to take control. Speedy, brief notes stacked up between the beats of the orchestra’s song, livening it up faster than the Twins could overpower them. Their arrows flew swifter and stronger, and they kept up their almost taunting side-to-side dance all the while. Soon their icon pushed back toward the right on the display, and not long after it regained the midpoint the Twins changed tact.

They posed together, hands clasped like dance partners, and stomped the ground, sending out a soundwave that knocked Skid and Pump down. “Oho!” Cornelia called out, laughter in her voice. “The Twins are throwing down the gauntlet! Can the dynamic duo keep up?” After waiting a couple of beats for their cue, the Twins orchestrated a sequence of moves. Clap, spin, clap, spin, clap, spin, dip!

A beat later Skid and Pump’s cue came, and they did their best to match the Twins’ pattern, even the paired dip. Their efforts were a little off-beat, however, and their icon began to slide backward as the Twins’ next sequence came. Left, right, spin, spin, jump, spin, dip! That one went even worse for the little monsters, who struggled with the paired jump. Adrenaline pumping, they redoubled their efforts for the next sequence. Clap, clap, clap, spin, spin, spin, dip, jump, clap! That one went a bit better, but by the time the Twins finished five sequences, Skid and Pump’s icon lay at just 25%. But then their turn to lead came. They struck back with a vengeance, their moves much simpler but much faster than their opponents’. Left-down-right-right, up-right-down-right-right-up-left, yeah! The Twins were not ready for such quick, inelegant motions, and bungled it almost completely. Up-right-down-left-left-down-up-right-left, down-left-down-right-down-left-right-yay! After five sequences, they’d made double the progress of the Twins and pushed them all the way back to the 75%, not to mention inflicted a bunch of sound damage.

Another battle phase began, but that's when Skid and Pumps’ luck ended. The orchestra launched into a transitory bridge section of the song, and during it the Twins transformed themselves. Sharpening their fingers and heels into blades, they added new steps to their dance, Left with spider-like movement along the ground and Right by flying in the air. Both could extend their fingers for extra reach, and augmented their ballet with a laser lightshow. No longer able to escape their reach, Skid and Pump got knocked out before even reaching another rhythm duel. The Twins’ performance left them soundly beaten, both metaphorically and literally; while the robots took a bow, a couple of ready-and-waiting staff members carted the losers away. The audience, however, reacted as if nothing were amiss, some groaning but most of them applauding the victors. “Bravo!” Cornelia crooned. “Our brave little monsters certainly had speed, but it’ll take more than beatboxing to steal the show! Congratulations to the Twins, Left and Right. Now, for our next performance…” The show continued, inching closer and closer to Primrose’s time to shine.

With an intermission, Sectonia took this time to exit with a few of the other bugs who were getting refreshments for the next show. Seeing as Primrose would be up soon, it would be best to relay what she had seen. Leaving the venue was much easier than entering it, as no one batted an eye when she went down a more empty corridor and teleported out of the window, using her haste to make her way back to the rehearsal stage.

What Sectonia had seen... She really didn’t fully understand. But considering how frightful it seemed the one team was… was this some kind of bloodsport but with dancing? Considering the attack waves going out, that could very well be the case. But if this ‘sorceress’ needed to rely on such cheap tricks to get anywhere, she was even uglier than Bowser.

Finding her way to and re-entering the rehearsal stage wasn’t too much of an issue. Sectonia didn’t have to wait long for the current rehearsal to be over to ‘have a chat’ with her client, something Mettaton couldn’t refuse considering Primrose was saving him. And from what Sectonia had seen, that might just be literal. Once having a bit of privacy with Primrose, Sectonia told her what she had found out. ”So… It seems like this whole ‘dancing show’ is just a dancing bloodsport. Two sides compete dancing to the rhythm, with the one that is more accurate and aggressive dealing damage to the other side. Things keep on going faster and faster until one side collapses from either taking too much damage, or sheer exhaustion. And this is visually represented to the audience as some sort of ‘tug of war’ bar.” Sectonia said, relating what she had gotten the feel of, considering this wasn’t something she had seen before.

"Ah...?" It was hard to visualize exactly what the queen was saying, but Primrose thought she got the gist of it. With her costume head tucked under her arm for their chat, she wiped the sweat from her brow as she absorbed the information. A dance battle in the literal sense, is it? Sounds kind of fun, she thought.

She was confused on one point though. "When you mention damage... were they attacking each other on stage while performing? Blades, magic…?"

”It came from the dancing itself. As if you kept to the rhythm, you did ‘damage’ to the opponents whenever you finished a ‘segment’ or something like that.” Sectonia clarified, not entirely sure what was going on fully, but stating the best she could about what she saw.

She then continued. ”It seems who ‘wins’ fights the next group in some sort of tournament bracket thing. The losers… From what I can tell, don’t lose. Cornelia seems to like the losers a bit too much, and not for any good reason I’m sure. From the looks of things, some of the dancers know what's going on, and are terrified of losing. ” This made Sectonia pause and think if Primrose somehow lost. ”... I suppose some good news about that is that our target is always on stage, or just off to the side as they announce the winners and losers, so attacking her wouldn’t be difficult. But I doubt that will go over well. A last resort perhaps.”

Primrose laughed at that. "I think not going over well may be an understatement. That's alright though, if we know where she is we can figure something out."

Unafraid of whatever consequences may come of "losing" after seizing the spotlight from the main act and intrigued by the whole premise, Primrose thanked Sectonia for the information and re-donned the cutesy, silly moth head to squeeze in a little more practice. It was a good way to warm up for the real thing.

Primrose and Mori the silk moth had been practicing together for the better part of an hour before the appointed time was nigh. Mettaton hadn’t driven his precious dancers too hard with the rehearsals, since he couldn’t afford to exhaust them before their big moment. After a certain point, in fact, he didn’t drive them at all, needing to rush off to a different part of the Royal Canopy to manage something or other. That gave the two room to breath, although it still worked up a sweat. While not too uncomfortable inside the moth costume, it was rather hot. In contrast, Mori’s attitude was chilly, and rather than speak a word to Primrose beyond criticism and correction she kept things strictly professional. Eventually Mettaton returned, zipping into the room and making a beeline for the dancers. “It’s time, it’s time!” he exclaimed. Grabbing both by the wrists, he pulled them along enough of the rehearsal theater and down the hall past the upscale dressing rooms. “You two had better hurry, it’s a long way to the stage! Miss your cue, and you are dead.”

After what Sectonia told me, I have the feeling he may not just be saying that… Harried and hurried, to the main stage they went. Speaking of the bee queen, she had moved to find a good spot to watch the show… and possibly influence both sides with her spells in the most subtle manner she could. Thankfully she didn’t have to use her staves to cast her more ‘support’ oriented spells.

In the Royal Canopy’s grand atrium, following the dramatic conclusion of the current bracket’s final showdown, Cornelia stepped up to make her announcement. “What a thrilling conclusion! Our sincerest thanks to all the talented performers who made today’s competition so heart-stoppingly spectacular! Everyone, put your hands in the air!”

After another round of cheers and applause, Cornelia put on an eager smile. “And now, for our final performance. An insect who by now needs no introduction, but ah, to hell with it! Please welcome to the stage, for their much-awaited debut performance: the talk of the town, the rising stars, the Royal Canopy’s very own, Mothiva and the Sugarpuffs!”

The curtain rose to reveal the upper half of a giant feminine-shaped automaton, flanked on either side by the two month dancers, who’d just barely arrived at the stage on time. The cupped hands descended to lay down on the ground, and from their palms rose the bug of the hour. Mothiva stood to her full height with a flourish, the orchestra’s music swelled, and the dance began.

“Ohohoho! Are you ready for a splendid performance?” Mothiva stated to the crowd, cheers of her name coming from some of her fans. With that being said, she began her routine. Being more of a singer than a dancer, her moves, while very in beat, weren’t all that flashy as she was more the singer type. They consisted of more simple moments with snappy movement that didn’t interfere with her singing.

Professionals in their own right, the 'Sugarpuffs' kept up with Mothiva. So far they'd been model back-up dancers, accessories to the main star's performance made to make her shine all the brighter. Despite being a last minute addition, Primrose performed even better than she had in rehearsal once they'd all taken the stage. This was a far grander venue than she would usually find herself dancing in, but even so the lights beaming down and the excitement of the crowd was a familiar feeling. It put Primrose into the right mindset. For her, dancing had originally been a means to an end after her father's death. Back then she'd expected to hate it, and in some ways she had early on, but the art of dance had grown into something she genuinely enjoyed.

She took solace in it. She was damn good at it. And now she was really going to strut her stuff.

She did not start subtle. As the music thrummed Primrose shifted her foot, suddenly out of step with the other back-up. It was a large enough move to draw the curious eyes of the audience as they wondered if it had been a mistake. She felt the eyes of Mori beside her, judgemental and cold. In front of her, Mothiva seemed unaware - though she would catch on when the crowd's eyes began to shift away from her, and murmurs rippled throughout the seats.

Up in the recording booth, one of the astute camera-bugs noticed the discrepancy straightaway. “Wait, what’s going on with Left Moth?”

“Left Moth?” Mettaton whirled around and clasped his gloved manipulators on the box’s gilded railing. His links began to blink at a fever pitch. “Oh, no. Oh no!”

Primrose's next move deliberately set her apart from the other two on stage. She spun away to capture the eyes of all those present before beginning her own performance in earnest. The music was fast and peppy, easy to dance to. She stepped in time to the beat, shimmying in a way that made the fake wings of her costume flutter. Tap tap tap tap. One long leg extended, pulled back in, mirrored movement on her opposite side, her arms swaying rhythmically in the air in front of her. At the moment she was a rogue moth, challenging the queen. She didn't reveal her true self just yet - Primrose was a performer, and knew just when to act to really capture the audience.

To her credit Mothiva went as long as possible to have her show go on, but the trill of the crowd would no longer allow her to ignore the dancer soaking up what should have been her spotlight.

“Ugh…. Who does this backup dancer think she is? Trying to upstage ME?” Mothiva thought, her detestment on her face as she watched Primrose trying to upstage her. She wasn’t a moth that liked her fame and spotlight taken, and she’d show that upstart her place. As the song picked up, Mothiva picked up her pace, her dancing improving but not her singing.

Ah ah ah, it won't be that easy. Primrose smiled within her costume, boldly flowing forward until she drew even with Mothiva on the stage. Each step was in time with the music, one foot over the other or forwards and back until she was dancing nearly beside the singer while she showed her up. At that point it was clear to the entire auditorium what was going on.

The added bonus of invading Mothiva’s personal space, and practically pushing her to the sidelines, only added further salt to the wound. Being challenged was one thing, and this wouldn’t have been the first time Mothiva needed to rise to the occasion, but as the burgeoning bit player flipped the script she couldn’t help but notice that the audience was eating it up. Though originally taken by surprise and thrown for a loop, the spectators were getting into it, both amused by the backup dancer's audacity and impressed by her unexpected skill. When this dawned on Mothiva, her focus flew to pieces, leaving her mental state in shambles. She staggered as if physically struck by this mere peon’s brazen one-upmanship, holding the back of a hand to her head like she was about to swoon. “This can’t…this can’t be happening!” she cried.

Her gaze locked onto the announcer’s box, and the look she saw on Cornelia’s face made her shrivel up like a raisin. While at first the celebrity showrunner had been just as shocked as everyone else, she’d fully expected her protégé to put this shameful upstart in her place. Instead, Left Moth was stealing the show, and Mothiva was letting her get away with it. Cornelia wasn’t just livid–she was disgusted. The sheer, scornful disappointment writ plain on her face was the bucket of ice-cold water Mothiva needed to snap out of it. She couldn’t let this happen!

“Zasp!” she cried, and into the air leaped a tall orange wasp with a nasty-looking stinger and scary, scarred face. Up in her box, Cornelia gave a quick and discreet command, willing to give Mothiva this final chance to make things right. A moment after Zasp landed on the stage, the orchestra redoubled its efforts, and an equalizer wave spread across the stage. Above the curtain appeared the two-toned bar marked with a white Left Moth icon on the left and an orange Mothia & Zasp icon on the right, heralding the start of an impromptu sound-off. Captivated by the unusual turn of events, the audience shifted to the edge of their seats, many standing or leaning on the rails as they gawked at the unannounced contest. The question on everyone’s mind was what is going on?, and Primrose was about to show them.

The Seekers' own dancer was not as surprised at the turn of events given Sectonia's warnings earlier. The stage itself remained the same, but now the rules had changed as the show runners moved to catch up with the performers. Primrose had been taking the initiative so far, and now was no different - she danced to the beat of the music, stamping her feet and twirling across the floor while one of the spotlights followed her. When she came to a stop she flung her arms out to her side; her left hand beckoned the audience to cheer with a curl of her fingers, and her right swept forward in front of her to gesture the same way to Mothiva and her companion in a playful taunt.

With her reliable partner Zasp in the mix, Mothiva could concentrate on her singing more than her dancing. Normally, this might’ve been a bad thing, but Zasp and his lightning fast movements could make up the difference. While Mothiva had a slower dance with her singing voice keeping up with the beat, Zasp kept moving at the pace of the song, often letting out a loud buzzing sound when he was really amping up his speed, moving so fast as to be very difficult to follow as he seemed to just rapidly appear and vanish. This occasionally led to a sharp bit of musical energy shooting at Primrose, akin to Zasp’s dart attack. Mothiva, being able to focus on singing meanwhile, had her song notes manifest as she kept to the rhythm, with large song notes launching at Primrose as well.

Sectonia saw that this fight was 2 on 1 as Primrose had managed to upstage Mothiva and catch Cornelia’s attention. Although she couldn’t reveal her hand too much just yet, she was getting a feel of how this whole thing worked. And now, so was Primrose.

There must have been something special about the stage that caused the movements to generate shock waves. The first few that the wasp created hit their mark, pushing the meter above the arena in Mothiva's favor. She and Zasp seemed to be veterans of this type of dance off, so they had the upper hand... for now. Primrose had a trick or two up her sleeve.

The steps of her beneficial dances were not set in stone; they could be modified, but they tended to follow a general flow. The Panther Dance needed a quicker step than what the orchestra was playing, but Primrose did her best to match it to the rhythm of the music. The attacks that were generated were weak, but it hadn't been the point. After speeding herself up in order to challenge Zasp, Primrose got back in rhythm. She danced across the stage, grinning in delight as her movements, now perfectly in time with the music once more, began to generate waves of energy that launched themselves towards her opponents. Watching from the audience, Sectonia used this chance to summon some backup dancers of her own, one of each of her Antillions. Sure their armor made their motions simple, but they only had to match a beat and exemplify Primrose’s actions, not be actual dancers themselves.

Spinning out of the way of Mothiva's music notes, and the Antillions cutely spinning with her, Primrose posed dramatically when her turns came to a stop. The audience was sure to enjoy a comeback, so Primrose went on the 'offensive' by dancing around the minions Sectonia lent her. They were elegant steps over and through the little ants, demonstrating her skill as she hadn't disturbed a single one as she moved. Every tap of her foot against the floor sent a shockwave across the stage.

Due to her focus in singing, Mothiva had a much more difficult time dodging the waves sent out by Primrose. However, every time Mothiva got hit by those shock waves, Zasp became more and more enraged, moving faster and his occasional wave hitting harder as he vented his rage at seeing Mothiva get hit. Mothiva herself had been going at Primrose at her full power however due to fear of what Cornelia would do to her, and could only throw the occasional note, but mostly focused her efforts on supporting Zasp, the wasp being able to step it up a notch further with his rage at seeing Mothiva struggle and get hurt.

As the song went on and the performers on stage kept the show going, the bar overheard gradually began pushing further and further in Primrose's favor. The talents of a professional dancer were a notch above what the singer and her bodyguard could produce, especially when her and Sectonia’s magic was added to the equation. The only leg up they had was their familiarity with the club's dance battle system in play which gave them a fighting chance... until the orchestra hit its crescendo.

It was here that the battle really reached its turning point. As Primrose, Mothiva and Zasp turned dance steps into energy and duked it out the musicians put their all into their playing, and when the music swelled just before coming down Primrose peeled her costume off. She did have her dancer's outfit on underneath, and though it had changed as much as she had it still held much of its original appeal. The bulkier items like her headdress had been removed, and now she unfurled from the fluffy moth skin like a flower in bloom with her dance fan in hand.

The response from the crowd was immediate - shocked gasps, excited cheers, all while Primrose made a little show of shedding the last of her costume and used the momentum to shower Mothiva and Zasp with the shockwaves created by her dance. She stepped and kicked, drawing her arms in front of her in elegant weaving motion, and when the song came to a close she struck a dynamic pose. Hip popped to one side, one leg extended, a hand on her chest and the other above her angling the fan down toward her face.

While they tried to keep up with Primrose, not being specialized in dance like she was, and thanks to the magical aid of Sectonia, who had been trying to be subtle with her antlions (And only using them, for now.) the explorer team couldn’t keep up. Mothiva went down first, which greatly enraged Zasp. But even his enraged steps couldn’t keep up the beat as well as the song sped up and got more complicated, eventually with the bodyguard going down as well. While Mothiva was dignified when standing up, both her and Zasp didn’t look all that remarkable on the ground. Zasp looked ashamed of himself for not being able to help Mothiva, who herself was more livid with the whole situation than anything.

When the two fell, a shocked hush washed over the Royal Club, hanging in the air for a tense couple second. Then the grand atrium shook from the resounding chorus of their adoration, going beyond polite applause into outright cheers. Surprised, astonished, confused, then suddenly enchanted, and finally captivated by this mystery insurgent’s grand reveal, the audience loved it. While Primrose being an objectively better performer than Mothiva -as proved by the sliding scale- was one thing, the drama of the whole situation helped to elevate the dancer’s stunt to a whole new level of intrigue and appeal. No doubt this moment would be talked about for weeks to come, and this would be a day that lived in infamy.

Not if Cornelia had something to say about it, though.

“That’s quite enough!” She boomed, stopping the guests’ idolatry in their tracks. Explosions of dark magic went off under the Antlions on the stage, instantly killing them. Stepping up to her box, Cornelia planted one leg on the rim and leaned forward, resting her elbow on her knee with her other hand on her microphone. The elegant lady’s lip twitched in barely-suppressed anger as she treated Primrose to a look of utter disdain.

“Is this what’s become of high society?” she asked, her venomous tone laced with a potent blend of condemnation and disappointment. “A little drama, and suddenly the ladies and gentlebeasts of the Royal Quarter are hooting and hollering like common barroom knaves? And you…” Her gaze fell upon Primrose. “You’ve got some guts. And you’ve managed to give the more impressionable fools here a tantalizing taste of the exotic. I’ll give you that. But you’re out of your element.” Standing up straight, Cornelia put her other hand on her hip and glared haughtily down. “Just look at you. A bizarre, motley outfit with neither grace nor cohesion, decked out with jangling, gaudy baubles, and stretched out over that ghastly, swollen body.” Smirking laughter filled her voice. “I’d have pinned you for an alley dancer, flashing the goods at passers-by for loose change, or perhaps a cut-rate courtesan, but with those ungainly muscles a construction site suits you far better.” The audience began to adjust their collars, scratch their heads, and look away. Using her own authority and the guests’ pride, Cornelia was convincing them they’d been suckered in by a cheap trick.

Her words, though powerful and biting, only affected the audience. Still bathed in the spotlight and breathing deeply after her performance, Primrose grinned up at Cornelia with her head held high. She'd probably heard hundreds of comments comparing her to a common whore, but none of it had ever put a dent in her pride. Neither did it now, and the dancer spoke loud and proud when she answered Cornelia's antagonizing.

"Spit your venom if it makes you feel better. I stand unashamed." No matter what her body was put through, it was worth it to accomplish her goals and protect her companions. Primrose raised both of her arms high, displaying her full person and letting the mage's comments roll off of her back. "And besides Lady Cornelia, you alone are proof enough some beauty is only skin-deep."

Cornelia turned up her nose with a huff. “Talk is cheap. Your triumph over Mothiva only reveals that she was an abject failure. So before you get a big head, let’s do away with the smoke and mirrors. Ottomo?”

“I am here, my lady,” a synthesized butler’s voice replied. It came from right behind Sectonia, and when the big wasp turned around, she found not just the mechanical bouncer, but the mechanical ballerina twins, too. The three towering machines stood around the box where Sectonia positioned herself, not taking action but nevertheless significant for their presence. Sectonia just let out a “tch” sound as she saw these three, not all that worried about them but knowing their presence.

“Did you think that I, the mistress of magic, wouldn’t notice your friend’s interference?” Cornelia snickered. “I think it’s high time we put you in your place. See what you’re really made of.” “Ladies and gentlebeasts. It would seem that you’re in for a special treat today. I, Cornelia von Arnim, will give you a much needed-reminder of what beauty and class truly look like!”

In a flash of magic, Cornelia warped down from her box onto the stage. As the band began to play, black-feathered mechanical wings unfurled from her back, spreading wide as she struck a grand pose with both arms in the air. The pose instantly amplified the stage, and a final sliding scale appeared above the curtain with Primrose’s icon in brown, and Cornelia’s in red. With a sneer the mistress of magic beckoned to her opponent. Come and get me.

The afternoon had certainly taken a turn that neither Primrose nor Sectonia could have predicted. But they were too entrenched in the Royal Canopy Club's rules and atmosphere to do anything else but play along. The dancer glanced out into the crowd, finding the queen bee flanked by metal enforcers, and the two of them shared a look. They were both strong enough to look after themselves- and invigorated by this kind of battle after getting a taste of it, Primrose was ready to challenge the woman in charge of it all. Accepting Cornelia's invitation Primrose sauntered forward until the two women were properly squaring off, and she started things off by simply tapping her feet.

She opened again with her Panther Dance, not only to enhance her own speed but to push herself into a proper second wind. This time she weaved the dance steps into the music much better than before, starting the rhythm battle off with some bold movements of her hands and legs to send shockwaves rippling across the stage toward Cornelia.

But Cornelia had taken to the air. With majestic flaps of her ink-black wings in time to every other beat, she flitted twice to the right, then twice to the left. Impact waves along the ground wouldn’t reach her up there. While her wingbeats created pressure waves, they fell well short of Primrose as well, though Cornelia didn’t seem to care. Instead, she performed a midair pirouette and raised her arms above her head, where silvery light began to gather. As the audience gazed on in awe, an arcane moon took shape over her head. Cornelia smirked, then struck a series of four midair poses in quick succession, each not only creating a flashy sparkle of moonlight around her, but also sending four moons down to rain on the stage, suspiciously close to Primrose. Upon impact each cast of Luna Λ burst into a big silvery splash capable of nullifying the Resistance of anyone in the way, dealing damage based on the full value of the caster’s impressive Magic stat. The audience only oohed and aahed over the somewhat blatant attack however, as if it were all just part of the performance.

Sectonia noticed these attacks, and knowing magic for what it is, wasn’t impressed. She found it even humorous that this sorcerer would have the audacity to call her out on spell casting when she herself was doing it to win a dance fight as well. Although with the robots nearby, there really wasn’t a super amount she could do right now… Well, she could give herself a Chaos Shield, knowing eventually the group would be fighting her. All they would see is Sectonia having a bit of a rainbow shimmer, but if they found that grounds to attack, she had ways to deal with them, and fairly subtly too as most of the crowd was looking at the dance off. Seems like she’d need to interfere here shortly, and these robots wouldn’t like her counter attack should they attack her.

Back on stage, Primrose twirled away from the last couple of Lunas, regaining her footing and groove after the wave of the first two washed over her. Very quickly she too realized what was going on. So it's like that, is it? This wasn't just a dancing duel, it was an actual battle in its own right. Cornelia had caught her off guard with those spells, but now that she was onto the game it wouldn't happen again.

The Peacock Strut saw her own magic power strengthened. She kept on tempo as the orchestra's pace increased, her quick steps taking her back and forth across her side of the stage. This was still a show for the audience after all, keeping up appearances was as important for Primrose as it was for Cornelia. From that point of view her dark magic, when compared to the light of Cornelia's Luna, might paint her in the role of a villain. It was one she was happy to perform, and hopefully reverse by the end of the show.

Primrose swept her hand up from left hip to right shoulder, arcing gracefully over her head as she danced. She repeated the action with her opposite hand, performing the Moonlight Waltz. Shadowy circles of magic formed below Cornelia, and they sent blasts of darkness up at her with every well timed tap of Primrose's feet on the stage. She pushed it further by Boosting, her body taking on a glow as energy swirled, swelling the spell so it had a greater chance of hitting its target.

Her magic sprang forth in magnificent plumes of inky, oil-black prominence, like splashes of the night sky itself. Cornelia did not attempt to dodge, instead focusing on a lighter-than-air dance number on the wing. But, amped up by her opponent's buffs as well as her attunement with the orchestra's jazzy melodies, the Moonlight Waltz hit such a crescendo that Cornelia felt it even through her own potent Resistance. Her mechanical wings got it worse, however, and for a frightful moment they seemed to be on the verge of malfunction. She huffed, raised her microphone, and sang.

"It's not secrets, it's not lies if you don't know.
It's not such a vicious guise if you don't know.
You can't get hurt by the things that you don't know.
You don't kno-o-o-o-o-ow!"

As she sang, Cornelia performed a backflip and swooped down, then dove in a glittering corkscrew back and forth. Moving in a five-pointed star pattern on every other beat, she happily struck anyone too slow to get out of her way as she left a trail of moonglow in her wake. On the tenth beat she finished the star, and on the twelfth she dive-bombed its center to make the whole area erupt in a blast of silver light.

Primrose weaved out of Cornelia's path, one step ahead on the off beat. She made her movements look elegant and effortless even though she was concentrating hard on both keeping the rhythm and avoiding the hostile magic. Each pass the pompous mage made across the stage crowded Primrose until she was inside the shape's middle. Center stage - just where I want to be, she mused, hands wreathed in magic as she continued to dance. When Cornelia came shooting down towards her the magical explosion ripped through Primrose's Baldur Shell. The dancer stood tall in the aftermath thanks to what damage it reduced before breaking, letting the last of the shimmery light fall around her. Her counter attack was a circle of fire, the Black Flame in one hand and the Flame Fan in the right as she danced a quick, tight circle around her opponent. Every note of the orchestra's horns and beat of their drums saw Primrose kick or twirl, the swaying of her hair and hips carried by the music. The fire swirled together closing in on Cornelia before her inevitable escape.

For a moment it looked as if the sorceress’s plunge landed head-center on her opponent, but Primrose emerged mostly unscathed thanks to some sort of protective shield. In a sensational pyrotechnic display the two-tone vortex of flame closed in on Cornelia, but after a painful moment spent burning she cut through with rays of moonlight. Her tenacity and pride wouldn’t be incinerated so easily. ”Myyyyy heart feeeeeeels nooooooo pain!” A critical Luna Λ moon had blossomed above her head, casting its many-faceted glimmer all around the atrium like a giant disco ball, and now streaks of silver radiance carved through the stage like laserbeams. In unison they swept up, then down, then up again while revolving, all perfectly rhythmic.

Getting out of the way while keeping in time to the music was easier said than done, even for a professional. Primrose managed somewhat, eyes wide as she took in as much of the stage as possible while continuing to dance. Swift steps took her out of harm's way, but not every time. When she did get caught by a moonlit streak of magic, she recovered by turning each stagger into a dance step. Falling to one knee she swept her opposite leg out into a low spin, continuing to turn as she stood up again. Her eyes flickered up to the spell shining overhead. She danced closer to it, and after performing another wide spin with a flare of dark magic, she struck a pose with one hand held up defiantly towards the false moon. A shadowy lance formed above it, the Rite of Termination slicing down and popping through the Luna as if it were a bubble. The dark pillar spread its own waves of magic over the stage.

Of course, the nebulous spear piercing Cornelia’s celestial orb meant it hit the sorceress directly beneath it, too. “Agh!” She flew backward toward the curtain, her wings out of commission for the time being, and only barely salvaged her fall with a backflip handspring. She slid to a stop in a crouch, her hair and dress in disarray as she breathed heavily, but only for a moment. “Not bad,” she admitted, straightening up -and straightening out her appearance- in the blink of an eye. Overhead, the icons were almost neck and neck; Cornelia had been putting on more of a show, while Primrose had been landing more attacks. It was time to put her foot down. “Let’s see what you’re really made of.”

With one hand on her hip, shaking to the beat, she began to snap her fingers, creating small purple flashes. After a brief moment more snaps joined the mix–yellow, green, blue, white, and red. Out from behind her sidled five familiar figures, their skin of polished plastic and their hairdo’s hard and shiny as rock candy. Wordless they began to groove along with Cornelia in sync, two to either side of her and one directly behind. The sorceress smiled. “Can’t have a diva without backup dancers,” she announced smugly, equipping a cross-shaped staff. “Shall we?”

Primrose used the short reprieve to catch her breath while Cornelia recovered. It must have been a spectacular show for the audience so far, and even with as intensely as the two women had been going at it Primrose got the feeling things were only just getting started. She unfurled her ornate fan with flourish when the back-up dancers appeared.

"Time for the main event," she said, and Cornelia's song continued.

”You spun your web, put your lies, thought I didn’t know…”

Left, right. Left, right. Left, right, spin.

The tempo of the song picked up, spurring Primrose into action. She did her utmost to mirror Cornelia's dancing; a one-two step to her left, another to right, a jazzy little sequence ending in a quick turn.

“Saw through your mask, and your glow, ‘cause I had to know…”

Spin, left. Spin, right. Lift, plant, spin.

The turn became a longer twirl as she sailed to one side, stopping only for a brief moment to strike a daring pose with the fan held coyly in front of her face, and then she was spinning back to the right hand side. The movement became a jump, one leg rising before the other in one smooth movement. She landed with her arms rising around her, hands up as she span once more.

“No more secrets, no disguise, puttin’ on a show…”

Left-right-right, left-right-right, spin, spin, spin.

Cornelia was talented. If it wasn't apparent enough to the people watching, her skills in song and dance were better than any Primrose had seen. But I'm better, she reminded herself, breathing deeply to keep her stamina up and follow the routine she was being challenged with. Left, right, right. Her feet crossed over each other as she danced across the stage, matching the shimmy of her shoulders. She snapped her fan closed and made an X shape with her arms in front of her chest, fingers tilted almost daintily upward as she went into a triple turn.

“You played your games, parlor magic, let your hand show…”

Plant raise raise, plant raise raise. Burst!

She came to a dramatic stop with one leg extended, fan flicking open again and fluttering in front of her. Even with no back-up dancers or support (as any movement from Sectonia risked drawing the ire of the guards around her), Primrose was keeping up. A little momentum saw her legs kick up with the rhythm of the music. She made a short leap, landing with her feet turned toward one another as she swept her hand through the air before going into another kick and leap. A more exciting display followed as the Flame Fan made another appearance and joined her dancer's fan, scattering glowing embers around the Seeker as she raised it overhead after sticking the landing of her jump.

“You can’t get hurt by the things that you don’t know…”

Plant-spin, left-right-left, right-left-right, burst!

Primrose kicked off the stage, going into a fast one-legged spin while her spell still shined. The arm holding the flame was tucked close to her, drawing up and down as she span to create a hypnotic display as the fire trailed behind in mesmerizing motion. The turns ended but she didn't come to a stop; taking deep, heavy breaths through her nose she went into the next steps. Left, right, left. She danced, and at the end she threw her arm up and let go of the spell, letting it burst above her.

This kind of battle, pushing the limits of her skills as both a dancer and a mage, was unlike anything Primrose had done before. It was exhilarating. There was a smile on her face, one that clearly said she was enjoying herself despite the way this confrontation had started. She was having fun, but she didn't forget the reason she and Sectonia had come here in the first place. Framed in falling embers and spotlight, she raised the dancer's fan and fluttered it at Cornelia.

"I hope you're not finished yet," she said, her smile turning to a taunting grin.

Breathing heavily, the sorceress paused for a moment. This time Cornelia’s glance at the scoreline wasn’t quite as well hidden. Seeing it brought her no solace, either, for Primrose’s icon had perceptibly pushed her own back to the right. Impossible, she thought, floored by the revelation. As the dancer taunted her she clenched her teeth, forced to recognize that this woman had real talent. No more messing around, then. “I’m barely getting started,” she replied, her weariness replaced by haughtiness. “Let’s raise the stakes.” With a narrow smile she clapped her hands. “And turn down the lights.”

A wave of darkness spread across the stage as she cast Death Γ, blanketing it in blackest pitch. When the overhead lights snapped off as well, Primrose could see everything beyond the stage, but not a single thing in her immediate vicinity. Then, five spotlights appeared, slim enough to accommodate just one member of 1010 each, surrounding her. Rather than attack they continued to dance, trying to distract her, until after a couple moments the red-haired robot turned to reveal Cornelia behind him, who posed with him in a dramatic dip. A massive dark magic flare went off under Primrose’s position the next moment. As she continued this strategy three more times, it would be up to the dancer to interrupt Cornelia before she could complete the attack.

On her guard when darkness descended, Primrose's eyes shifted between the robot dancers. Tension was high, and as Cornelia reappeared leaning in deep Primrose danced away from her. She felt the swell of magic and in trying to avoid it, her back hit the yellow-haired robot. "Uhff." He pushed her forward into the spell, her steps faltering when she took damage before she corrected herself. Cornelia repeated the pattern, but this time Primrose fought back with her own darkness. She twirled in the center of the ring of dancers, letting her Moonlight Waltz carry her through. Her own spell came to life whenever Cornelia emerged from the darkness, staggering the woman's chosen dance partner and throwing off both her groove and her attack. By the time the fourth round of this began, Primrose switched tactics and cast her Night Ode, the wide area of effect erupting in a circle around her large enough to engulf all of the metallic boy band, though Cornelia herself had escaped to the air.

The lights switched on, and newly-manufactured replacements for the lost members of 1010 sidled out. There was a brief lull in the orchestra which Primrose was quick to take advantage of, flowing into the beginning of a new routine when the music came back to life. "Eyes on me," she purred.

An ethereal voice from the orchestra took over the singing. ”Me in the palm of your hand and you think you'll never lose in the game of love…”

She began with a simple tap of her foot, and then she was off. Left, right, left, left. A half turn, her foot drawing a crescent before she danced back the way she came. Right, right, left, right. Her arms shifted with every movement, tracing the line of her hips and flowing over her head.

Recognizing the challenge, Cornelia landed back down on the stage, her staff ready as 1010 drew up around her. “Simple,” she murmured, moving in sync with her backup to replicate the steps exactly.

“You spread your pretty wings and try as you might - you'll never fly fly fly…”

Her opponent rose one leg high and turned once, twice, then went into the more complicated steps. Left, forward, back, back, right, forward; all with a sway of her hips in time to the beat of the music.

Cornelia’s face tightened. Despite all the advantages in her corner, she had almost too much going for her. These moves, elegant in their simplicity, demanded less from her bag of tricks and more from her raw ability. She managed to match the pattern, but 1010 wasn’t smooth enough to keep up. They were getting out of sync.

“Stopped listening to the sound of the beating of your stone cold heart…”

A calypso style leap saw her twist in the air before she came down to the stage, dropping low and turning again before snaking her body back to stand at her full height. A quick one-two and then she rose off the ground again, coming down to land on one leg and spin. A forward step, her legs crossing over each other as she sailed across the stage, left, right, back, forward, forward, left, right. She struck a dazzling pose with her fan fluttering up from her stomach to her face.

Rather than jump on her own Cornelia deployed her wings for an extra flourish, but the drag slowed her down. She fell short, then overcorrected too fast. She matched Primrose’s strut, but half a beat behind. After the flutter-step she posed by twirling her staff and then planting it in a burst of darkness for the pose, but it didn’t match her opponent’s gracefulness. With a strained whine of frustration she hurled her staff away as if it was to blame, which bowled over the faltering members of 1010.

“You spin, and spin, and spin, me out of your life.”

Now that the performance had returned to just the two women on stage giving their all to a duel of dance, it seemed the competition was reaching its finale. Unwilling to let Cornelia turn this around, Primrose didn't slow down, keeping her steps to rhythm and pouring all of her energy into the display.

She threw her arms behind her and arched her back, her head falling backwards as she drew one knee up, holding the pose for a moment before extending her leg and falling forward. Her weight shifted, bringing her into another one legged stance as she spun in place. She twirled low, muscles in her legs supporting her as she sank and rose again. Transitioning swiftly into a complex step pattern with her hands at her hips, Primrose danced her way across the floor. A series of short hops and turns took her to center stage, where with the light of Warmth making her very hands glow she started gracefully toward the front. Left, right, forward, forward, right, left, forward, forward; her arms swayed across her body as they followed the path her feet were making across the area. She ended her dance with a wide spin, coming to a stop with one leg extended behind her, toes touching the stage while her chest was pushed proudly forward and her arms spread to either side to welcome the applause of the audience.

For it was indeed a moment of complete and utter triumph. In the moments that followed, Cornelia held on as long as she could, vying to follow suit with her whole being–as if she wanted to prove that, with all her tricks stripped away, that she could still steal the show. But she could not. For her, dancing had been a pastime, a fun diversion and a means of stoking her own ego. And even if the Agarthan once known as Cleobulus allowed her mask to become her true face, and her vanity her true allegiance, in the end this wasn’t who she was. When the moment passed she’d fallen to one knee, her muscles unable to emulate the feats Primrose performed, her privilege-softened body wracked with fatigue. While she languished in the remains of her dark magic, Primrose stood beneath the golden glory of the audience’s adoration, polite applause thrown to the wayside as their roaring voices cheered for her and her alone. Cornelia, chest heaving and hair askew, didn’t even bother looking at the scoreline. The knowledge that she’d been defeated weighed down on her harder than any burden. She thought about venting all her raw emotion out in the form of Death Γ against Primrose’s back, but try as she might Cornelia couldn’t lift a finger. Instead she fell down on forearms with a muted cry. It was over. It had never been more over than it was right now.

At some point Primrose had let her eyes drift closed, savoring the praise being lavished upon her from the crowd. Her limbs were on fire with the strain of a job well done. It had really been the performance of a lifetime.

Primrose turned, looking down at Cornelia. Though she didn't know the woman beyond the bit of deadly fun they'd had, at the end of the day Cornelia was a potential obstacle in the Seeker's path to free the world from Galeem, however tangentially related to the campaign she was. Primrose and Sectonia had come here for one reason, and the dancer was going to carry it out. But first, the end of the show.

Primrose let out a deep breath, then went to Cornelia's side. She took hold of the Agarthan's bicep and helped her stand. Her hand found its way to Cornelia's wrist and she lifted both of their arms before the two women bowed to the audience, Cornelia catching on and trying to save what face she could. While the people's eyes were on them, Primrose's Makami was summoned off to the side where it drifted up to pull the curtain of the stage closed.

When no one could see them any longer Cornelia wrenched her hand from Primrose's grip.

"I hope you enjoyed your final performance," Primrose told her, voice dark. She had never been a woman of mercy, even before her transformations in the World of Light. The dancer performed her encore, one final Moonlight Waltz to close the curtains of Cornelia for good.

In doing so she just barely dodged what would have been a full-force Luna Λ to the head. The moonlight blazed on past to blow apart a panel of the wooden backstage, while the darkness struck true. Cornelia perished with an ugly scream, and as its echoes faded away she left behind only her spirit, her facade of immaculate beauty preserved within.

With Cornelia being dispatched by Primrose, not needing much in the way of help from Sectonia, the bee queen left her box, blinking away from the robots that ‘supervised’ her involvement with this show and gave her own stage presence and announcements, seeing as the former club leader Cornelia had been dispatched. ”To the winner of the final dance of the evening, the spoils. And with that, the show has been concluded.” and hastily closed the curtains to the two of them some privacy

Turning to Primrose, Sectonia said. ”That was a good show. Glad to see my faith in your abilities was not misplaced.”

Primrose looked over at Sectonia as the bee approached, a small but genuine smile on her face. "I'm happy to hear that. Praise from a queen is high praise indeed."

Sectonia looked from the dancer then to the spirit of Cornelia laying on the ground. ”You can choose what you want to do with that. She had a few interesting spells at the end of things, but you did all the work so the fate of that spirit is up to you.”

Primrose nodded, collecting the Agarthan’s spirit. With a wave of her fan the ashen remains - and the evidence of what they’d done - was scattered away.

Now the issue of keeping this place up and running without its socialite running it anymore, at least until Consul P was defeated, arose. And even then, Setonia would be bereft of herself if she was to let such an attempt at opulence fall into obscurity. Perhaps finding that Mothiva that Primrose had to upstage and convince her to take over could be of benefit if she wasn’t allied with Consul P. Now where did those two go…
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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Scarifar
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Scarifar Presto~!

Member Seen 10 hrs ago

Location: Home of Tears
Level: 3
Experience: 45/30 (Level up available)
Word Count: <750 (+2 EXP)

"Our next contestant to face our Grand Magus will be... Chad and Gram!" the announcer yelled as the gate opened, and two blue-skinned creatures emerged from the opening, one riding the other like a mount and wielding a large one-handed hammer. "These two brothers might pose a tougher challenge for Rubick. Maybe this time he'll fall! Or will his magicks prevail again? There's only way to find out!"

Rubick began by swinging his staff, launching bolts of grey energy at Chad and Gram. Gram leaped above the attack and toward Rubick, firing his own green slime projectiles from his mouth at Rubick. Rubick sidestepped the attacks, which landed harmlessly on the ground, and continued to retreat, attempting to gain some distance. But Chad and Gram would not make it easy, immediately chasing after Rubick after they landed. As Chad swung his hammer at Rubick, Rubick would reach into his robes and take out his Blink Dagger, teleporting himself next to a brazier. He touched it with his staff, and his body would envelop itself in fire. Rubick would then continue to launch more bolts of energy, this time enhanced with fire. Chad and Gram would continue to chase Rubick down, still trying to get within melee distance, while either dodging or tanking the bolts of energy.

They were fast, but Rubick was faster as he would envelop himself in white webs and teleport away again. However, it seems Chad and Gram were expecting it this time, as they had already turned around and launched more green slime globs. This time, they hit Rubick, and he flinched at their sudden impacts. That was the opening they needed to advance, with Gram suddenly sliding on the ground over to Rubick at blinding speed. Rubick could barely get off a Fade Bolt before the blue brothers launched a combo of melee attacks with both Gram's tongue and Chad's hammer. If they took any damage from Rubick's attack and his fiery state, they didn't show it, and Rubick was certainly taking more. They ended their combo by swinging upwards, knocking Rubick's body into the air, and leaping upward and slamming their bodies into Rubick, sending him flying even further. Rubick's body crashed roughly onto the ground. Chad and Gram landed nearby, watching over Rubick to make sure he wasn't dead.

Rubick coughed, then managed to prop himself back up with his staff. Perhaps if he hadn't weakened Chad and Gram's attacks with his Fade Bolt, he might've gone down, but he still had some fight left in him. Now angry, Rubick proceeded to launch himself into the air with his Telekinesis, then using his Power Steal on Gram, taking the ability to fire those green slime globs. Gram leaped after Rubick, but the magus was already casting his Weaver's Warp, enveloping himself in webs of light again and teleporting away. Now below them, Rubick took out another Staff from his robes and proceeded to launch a flurry of projectiles, each one either fire-enhanced, green goop, or a thin laser beam. After the barrage, the brothers crash onto the ground, unmoving.

Rubick walked forward, also wanting to check to make sure they were still alive. It wouldn't do if they died; he'd be disqualified to receive his winnings, after all. Suddenly, Chad leaped up and swung his hammer at Rubick. However, Rubick was already expecting a sneak attack, and used Telekinesis to lift him up into the air. Chad tried to swing his hammer some more, but it was a fruitless endeavor, and Rubick simply slammed him back down into the ground next to Gram and Fade Bolted him, finally ending the combat.

"And we have a winner! Once again, it's Rubick, the Grand Magus!" the announcer yelled. Rubick waved as the cheers from the audience came in, then he proceeded to give a thumbs down, signaling the end of his reign in the Thorn. With that, Rubick would proceed to collect his winnings and make his way out, intent on using his newly earned money to go shopping.

Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Double
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Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 42 min ago

Valley of Ruin

@Lugubrious Giovanna, Tora & Poppi | @Archmage MC Susie | @Dark Cloud Partitio | @Yankee Pit | @MULTI_MEDIA_MAN Zenkichi

Word Count: 418
Level 5 Roxas: 23/50
Exp: 1
NEW EXP Balance--- 24/50

Roxas hadn't taken much action with what Giovanna. But that was mostly because he had had so much on his mind. Well, that and she seemed to have a handle on things without his help. But Giovanna letting them know that Susie and Pit seemed to be in a bad way? That was enough to snap the Keybearer out of his slump. Whatever his issues at the moment, Roxas seemed to immediately shelf them and jerk his attention in the direction that Giovanna indicated. And then he took off, first in a sprint but then that quickly led into flowmotion. He seemed to launch himself and bounce from point to point like a young man possessed. Maybe he didn't know anything about Machines. Heck, maybe he didn't matter in the same way that someone like Sora did. But he knew who his friends were, and helping them when they were in need? That was something he could do without even having to think about it.

When Roxas neared the scene, he could see the struggle to fight against the Shell-Walkers and Clamberjaws. Susie in particular looked to be having an especially rough time. With Keyblades drawn, the Nobody used them to hook onto a rusty lamp post and used that momentum to whirl himself around and slingshot himself into the fray. He gave a few good slashes of his weapons but that wasn't his main plan. He was maneuvering himself into a position to have as many of the machines around him as he could. Then he thrust his weapons upward, "Thunder!" he shouted, unleashing a big Thundaga spell that would catch many of them of its range. He had to hope that these metal, mechanical machines had some kind of vulnerability to lightning.

But Roxas didn't hang around long to observe the damage he dealt. Instead he went on the move again and put himself in a spot near Pit."Heal!" he shouted as he once again lifted up his two Keyblades. This spell was a Curaga that would give Pit a nice bit of healing if he needed it.

"Hands off my friends!" He said to the machines he now found himself standing against.
Hidden 11 mos ago 10 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 1 day ago

Word Count: 672 (+1 exp)
Level: 3 - Total EXP: 130/30
Location: Dystopiascape - Valley of Ruin

It was only a matter of time until Pit dismantled the last of the Clamberjaws blocking his path, but time was not a luxury he really had. Susie was still in trouble. The angel wasted no time in re-engaging the monkey-bots, and at that point he was smart enough to focus on the weak points he'd found. His light arrows sailed through the air and struck their shockers, momentarily stunning them and giving Pit just enough time to move in and put his blade to their bodies. When they recovered, the Clamberjaws continued their agile attacks - jumping around the ruins and lashing out with the knives they had for claws.

Pit felled one and made to dash away, figuring their numbers were thin enough that he could make it through their blockade. A Clamberjaw leaped at him and swatted him to the ground. Pit rolled a few times then popped back up, changing his bow out for an Arm. Discs flew out from the weapon, slamming into the Clamberjaw. With its metal frame smashed in, it sparked and fell over. One left - Pit charged the Arm as it ran over, then sped forward into a dash attack. The machine nimbly dodged out of the way and retaliated by barreling into Pit and sending them both sprawling.

"Enough with the monkey business!" The angel complained, shaking the dust off as he stood up and resumed his fighting stance. It was then that an ally joined the fray, first lending aid to Susie and then moving closer to Pit with a restorative spell.


Had the other Seekers changed their minds and decided to help out, or were they already done scoping out the construction site? Either way, Roxas was a sight for sore eyes. He gave the other boy a grateful grin.

Looking over the other side of the battlefield, Pit could see Susie shaking off the grasping claws of the robotos she was facing in order to escape entirely. "Susie! Are you okay?" he called over to her as she zoomed out of the horde. As for the remaining Clamberjaw, it would be no issue at all for Pit now that he was back in top shape - let alone against he and Roxas together.

Once they finished it off, he asked, "Should we get out of here?" Zenkichi had been right, the animals were super dangerous. It was a bit disappointing to retreat without getting at least one material box for their trouble, but it seemed like the others had come to pick them up in a hurry.
Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

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Valley of Ruin

Level 12 Tora (43/120) Level 12 Poppi (53/120)
Giovanna, Roxas’ @Double, Pit’s @Yankee, Susie’s @Archmage MC, Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man, Partitio’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 1237

With the proposed plan of action already imperiled by another big problem, the Seekers in the clearing prepared to descend across the water to try and salvage the disastrous-looking situation down by the water’s edge. Roxas in particular launched himself from the precipice with an almost manic ferocity, using flowmotion to speedily navigate his way through the ruined, sunken landscape toward the machine-on-machine action. Despite their fatigue from the drawn-out Spider fight the three members of the Rust Crew set off in a sprint to circle around with Giovanna in the lead, dashing through the rain across the weed-riddled concrete. Tora jumped into Poppi’s arms, and the artificial blade took flight. With their comrade’s life in jeopardy against fearsome odds, the Seekers weren’t going to stand idly by.

Almost as suddenly as the crisis arose, however, it was averted. Enfeebled by the bite of Chillwater, doused with power-scrambling Purgewater, and surrounded by enraged machines that eagerly chomped and tore into the reinforced plate of her Business Suit, Susie bailed out right away. Not knowing where the group would be by now, she flew with her Transporter back in the direction of the parked -and currently abandoned- salvage truck, leaving her mech behind to suffer the machine lifeforms’ wrath. Only then did Roxas reach the fight, allowing him to bludgeon the futuristic creatures’ plated exteriors with the blunt ends of his keyblades. Rather than take all these well-equipped war machines head-on, however, he unleashed a grand parting shot. His Thundaga rippled across the metallic menagerie, electrocuting the Snapmaws with their Shock weakness but barely registering with the Shellwakers and Widemaws thanks to their Shock resistance.

Then, before the battle-ready beasts could bombard him with a fusillade of lightning and Purgewater-soaked earth, he fled. Roxas scrambled up from the collapsed riverbank toward the upper highway cliff where Pit still tangled with with a handful of howling Clamberjaws. A burst of healing out of the blue fixed the angel right up, allowing the pair to take on the last member of the troop without worry. The final machine fought bitterly with tooth and claw, jumping between walls and trees to afflict its opponents with concussive screeches and burns from hurled slag. Still, this was a fight that the boys could -and did- win in short order. Meanwhile, the machines at the riverside could not ascend to give pursuit to their enemies. Instead they regrouped, and with their precious cargo of base minerals, scrap metal, and chemicals secure the Shellwalkers made themselves scarce, dispersing into drains, tunnels, and so forth to return to base through the safety of the earth. The others resumed their processing duties.

“Oh,” Tora murmured, watching from afar as things died down. “Well, that good, at least.” The sooner the team could attend to the real cause for concern, the better. It wouldn’t be long before Giovanna, Marshall, Big Bo, Zenkichi, and Cain reached the remaining salvage truck via the semicircular upper route, where they would no doubt reunite with Partitio, Pit, Roxas, and Susie. With just one truck left, though, it would be hard to transport everyone, even if they could be assured they were headed in the right direction. Tora stared up at the Tallneck, annoyed that he lacked any sort of receptacle into which he could extract the mobile comm station’s positional data, until something occurred to him. “Meh-meh,” he muttered, thinking. “If Tora can gain access to machine mind, why not machine body? If Tora can control, friends have way to make sure everypon reach right spot!” He turned to his companion. “Poppi, take Tora up one more time!”

After a few minutes, the Seekers who’d gathered at the salvage truck found themselves approached by the towering Tallneck. Rather than attack, however, it stood harmlessly over them while Tora waved his wings down from the top. “Hello, friends!” he called. “We need hurry to intercept machines, meh! Anyone want ride?”

The Tallneck was surprisingly fast once forced to move at top speed, almost able to keep up with the truck given how often the vehicle needed to maneuver and turn, while the machine itself could make up the lost distance with shortcuts over rougher terrain. Consulting the stolen comm data often, Tora steered the Seekers through the Valley of Ruin, away from the flooded district and half-built neighborhood. Their path took them northeast, not quite back the way they came but close enough to make Giovanna worried–worried that while her team searched, the enemy force had already advanced toward Midgar. Unfortunately, she turned out to be right.

Tora’s directions brought the Seekers back to the edge of the Valley of Ruin, where the haunting remnants of a vast metropolis gave way to the barren no-man’s-land that formed Midgar’s immediate vicinity toward the south. A massive avenue, coated in rippling, reflective pools of rain, stood between two great rows of rusted weathervanes and derelict skyscrapers, crumbled and tilted off-kilter by the relentless ravages of time. Truck and Tallneck rounded one of these hulking husks and ascended a slope of sediment-covered rubble to crest a hill overlooking the street, and what the Seekers saw took their breath away.

Packed shoulder-to-shoulder as they marched down the avenue were hundreds and hundreds of Machines. Most appeared to be Bipeds, either Medium (about as tall as the average man] or Large, but there was plenty of variety to be found. There were handfuls of Goliaths over twice the height of the Large Bipeds, with gigantic hands capable of squashing cars flat. Some took the form of Legpower Goliaths, faster and more mobile with multi-ton kicks, and others Reverse-jointed Goliaths with gun arms, stubby tails, and raptor-like gait. Quadrupeds galloped on all fours with bladed legs, while insectoid Multilegs wielded cutters or cannons. Small and Medium Fliers hovered overhead on their single or quad turbines, too, with guns at the ready. Even among the basic Bipeds there existed some variety. Some adorned themselves with armor or warlike attire, and wielded a variety of handmade weapons. Most staggering of all, though, were there numbers.

“By my estimate…” Poppi began, not sure if she even wanted to say. “At least a thousand.”

Tora took a deep breath, shaking slightly. “Meh-meh…unfortunately, fact that they not reach Midgar yet is good news. Bad news is, this not half of it. There other group at least this big headed in direction of Detroit.” He furrowed his brow. “This army headed to Sector 07. Friends there not have DespoRHado to fight for them.”

“So it falls to us,” Giovanna murmured. “Well then. That’s what, a hundred each? They don’t look so tough.” She stifled a wry laugh. “Imagine if these were all high-tech baboons and hippos.”

With a final long breath to steady himself, Tora put on a courageous smile. “Hundred each not so bad!” he declared, wiping rain from his face before posing in a determined fashion. “Let’s give baddypons what-for!”

“We don’t have a lot of choice,” Marshall agreed. “But we’ve gotta be smart. Use everything we got to our advantage. Terrain, teamwork, you name it. Don’t let yourselves get surrounded, and shout if you need help.” Clicking his rifle’s safety off, he climbed up onto the truck. “We’ll stay ahead of them and cover you from behind. Mow down as many as we can, and make sure none of them slip through toward the city.”

Giovanna nodded. “Alrighty then. As Goldlewis would probably say, let’s git ‘er done.”

She, Tora, and Poppi jumped down from the overlook, sliding down the slope until they reached the rain-washed street. They turned to face the vast horde, a sea of clanking metal and glowing red eyes. Tora faced them with a smile, however. If he could do this, there wouldn’t be any more room for doubt in his mind; he would know that he was a hero.

Abandoned Subway - Infinite Corridor

Level 4 Goldlewis (33/40)
Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Blazermate’s @Archmage MC, Geralt @Multi_Media_Man, Benedict’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 767

Planning to lead by example, Goldlewis wasted no time bringing out the big guns. A tremendous bang reverberated across the surface of the L.I.F.T. as the UMA heaved the immense minigun out of the coffin and onto the ground. Goldlewis grabbed hold with his suitably massive mitts and lifted it up to open fire. His bullets flew toward the runaway camera in a withering torrent, but the anomalous doohickey didn’t just idle in place. It floated up and down and from side to side, and though the veteran’s gunfire put a couple dents in the camera’s exterior, a handheld minigun wasn’t well suited to adjustments in aim, and most of the shots ended up missing.

The others followed suit with whatever ranged weapons they had. While Midna managed to pull a revolver out of nowhere, the Twilight Princess was by no means a deadeye, and after emptying every one of its chambers the six-shooter offered nothing more than a complicated and unfamiliar reload process. Geralt took shots with his crossbow, but the rushing air that buffeted everyone in this tunnel either knocked his slow-moving projectiles off course or stopped them in their tracks and sent them hurtling back to sender. Blazermate’s sentry, meanwhile, was perfect for the job. Once built it started plugging away at the ActionMaxx Camera with a steady stream of well-aimed shots, but the arrival of giant signs and alternate L.I.F.T.s quickly spelled the end for that plan.

In fact, this new development forced a paradigm shift out of everyone, obliging them to stay on the move or be battered by tunnel obstructs straight into the yawning abyss. With a magic airdash at his disposal Goldlewis could take to the sky with the best of them, though he still needed to put in extra effort to keep his extra-large and easy-to-hit frame out of the path of oncoming signage. The Session Pounds added even more chaos to the mix, through Geralt and Midna’s efforts to intercept and dispose of the flying bombs lessened the threat they posed a good amount. Still, even with Panther putting in an appearance to swat the camera with lasers, the team’s already less-than-stellar damage output was only further hampered by the shifted focus to constant movement. Goldlewis couldn’t afford to stay put and belt out lead with Skyfish if a giant sheet of yellow-painted metal could cream him any second. His perceptive peepers did notice one thing, though: the ActionMaxx Camera itself inadvertently warned of incoming obstacles through its movement. If imminent signs would block two of the three tunnels within the next few moments, it would fly over to the third.

Noticing this began a strange, high-octane version of Follow the Leader, obliging Goldlewis and the others to race after it from L.I.F.T. to L.I.F.T. whenever it made a move. Doing this gained them some ground and afforded them better opportunities to take aim. Ever the pessimist, the veteran considered the possibility of a feint, but if this paranormal object possessed any intelligence it seemed wholly focused on filming the frenetic chase scene. Making the most of his Security Level when it filled up, Goldlewis unleashed as many level-three bullet barrages as he could. If this whole thing hadn’t happened underground, he mused, this would’ve been a perfect opportunity to Burn it Down with his satellite laser. In the midst of the chaos, the team managed to chip away at the camera’s integrity, reducing it by over half.

At that point, though, things got even more interesting. The trickle of Session Pounds came to an abrupt end, and something else took their place. Sometimes, the abyss behind them would belch out a chimeric being of rusted metal, gnarled horn, and sallow flesh, not unlike the Others encountered earlier but just different enough to strike the Seekers as particularly weird. Bathing the tunnels in front of them with the odious yellow glare of their headlights as they raced along the tracks, the Cleansers attempted to take hold of the L.I.F.T.s and physically wrench them off their tracks. Worse still, that awful xanthous glow came with a suppressive effect, hampering the spirit-derived abilities of anyone caught in their baleful luster. Their arrival and subsequent slow but terrifying gain on the L.I.F.T.s turned a salvageable situation into an incredibly stressful one in no time flat–which was about how long the team had left to take down the rogue ActionMaxx Camera.

Home of Tears

Level 10 Nadia (161/100)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Ganondorf’s @Double, Rubick’s @Scarifar, Omori’s @Majoras End, the Knight
Word Count: 1871

Despite her positive outlook, Nadia had no doubts that the destruction and panic she’d helped cause -however small in scale- would draw the authorities like bees to honey, so she got a serious move on. Even if that piscine policewoman seemed more oblivious and friendly than sharp and authoritative, the cat burglar didn’t want to be spotted by her near the scene of any more crimes. With Omori following along, she proceeded deeper into the vast fairground district grateful for its unusual size. It took no time at all for her to immerse herself back into a part of the park with plenty of guests, where any rumors or alerts about an injured woman and a knife-wielding maniac on the loose met with either mild concern or brow-raised skepticism, and not much farther than that the panic died out completely. Nadia saw only fun-loving bugs and monsters enjoying their weekends with their friends and families. Some news spread like wildfire, it seemed, but others blew away like dust in the wind.

Nadia and Omori eventually wound up at the Amusement Park’s warmly-lit boardwalk, jutting out over the waters to the north of the district. Possibly due to its proximity to the Royal Quarter that lay just across the Home of Tears ’northeastern channel, this area possessed a certain air of class. All done up in pristine white, with nice railings and awnings, it offered a distinct vintage feel to many of the city’s modern monsters. To Nadia, however, its aesthetic rubbed her a different way. It almost perfectly matched the art deco era design of the boardwalk park back in New Meridian, and though she seldom got the chance to visit Little Innsmouth’s prim-and-proper, touristy counterpart, this place felt achingly like home. It even had a little ferris wheel! A wave of uncharacteristic melancholy washed over her. New Meridian might be a pretty awful place on the whole, but it was home, and she never thought she’d miss it this badly.

Once she got over her heartache, Nadia got down to business. As promised she bought Omori a cotton candy, freshly spun from the centrifuge. She did not indulge herself however, and she didn’t insist that he accompany her further. The kid could take care of himself after all, and Nadia still didn’t know if he liked her company or not. For a few minutes she just meandered the boardwalk, looking around. She saw plenty of carnival games scattered around, from bottle-knocking to whack-a-mole, but after a little consideration she turned away. The decision almost took her by surprise -who wouldn’t want to take a load off after what she’d been through with some fun distractions, after all?- but the more she reflected the more Nadia knew that she just didn’t feel like it.

As much as she put on a brave face for Omori, and the world at large, she wasn’t smiling on the inside. Not right now at least. Since arriving in the World of Light she’d done plenty of killing, but mostly monsters. Even the Abyssals were basically mindless tools of destruction, regardless of appearances. Always chaotic evil. But not so with Massachusetts or Kronya. They’d been foes that stood in the path she needed to tread, sure. Deadly combatants, and Kronya in particular seemed like a real piece of work. But they were still people. Maybe more of the ‘monsters’ she’d killed were real people too. Hell, if she met most of this city’s inhabitants in a dark alley she might not have thought twice about cutting them down. How much blood was on her hands? How much would be, by the time this was done? Was it all okay as long as everything went back to normal when the Seekers triumphed over Galeem?

What if it didn’t?

Nadia ended up at a table beneath an umbrella at the side of the water. She nibbled at a footlong coney stacked up with onions, relish, cheese, and ketchup, gazed at the spirit of Kronya on the table before her, and listened to the rain. What were these things? They were capable of extraordinary things. If Nadia commanded that this spirit fight for her right now, it probably would. She could bring that knife-wielding assassin back into being as easily as recalling a lost memory. But was that really her? Or, like the savage monsters like Idea that now served at her beck and call, was it just a puppet? She knew by now that if she died, she’d leave one of these things behind too. Someone else could take her powers, as well as a pinch of Nadia seasoning mixed into their body or mind. The feral’s eyes narrowed at the thought. Dying had always been a terrifying concept. Probably always would be. If she died before finishing this mission, it would all go to waste. Every drop of blood, sweat, and tears shed on this journey. No. I need to see this through, she thought. To see the World of Light whisked away, and everything restored just how it used to be. For the sake of everyone, of course, but mostly for herself. So that things could be simple and clean again–all the blood on her hands, rinsed away. Whatever it takes, she thought. I have to live.

Lucky, then, that survival came easily to someone who couldn’t die.

Nadia’s mood picked up as she ate her coney. It was a great mixture of flavors and textures, very nostalgic, and the chorus of rain on the ink-dark lakewater soothed her. Jokes, laughter, and noises of jubilation reached her from the nearby guests. It was hard to stay in a dour mood in a place like the Amusement Park. It also wasn’t the best place to be alone, in a strictly positive sense. A couple times Nadia found herself approached by random passers-by, including a group of friends about her age wondering if she wanted to join them and a couple young fellows who couldn’t just pass a comely catgirl by. It reminded her of her impromptu group last night at Definitely Not Fried Chicken; the people here sure were trusting and friendly. Though alternatively appreciative and flattered, Nadia had to turn them down. By now she’d spent more than enough time on herself, and she needed to meet back up with the other Seekers to continue the mission.

With two-thirds of the group plus their final objective in the Royal Quarter, getting over there sounded like the best way to start. Nadia skirted along the fairground’s northern edge until she reached the bridge connecting it to Fountain Central, all the while regretting the spurt of mopiness that tricked her into passing up the fair games earlier. On the way across the bridge, she spotted a couple people she knew headed in the same direction, although she couldn’t call them a sight for sore eyes. After hurrying to catch up with them, she pulled up alongside Ganondorf and Rubick and fixed them with an accusatory look. “Hey, where were you two all morning?” she asked, one eyebrow quizzically raised. “We ran into all kinds of crazy critters in the Soul Sanctum, then we had to split up to hunt down these local bozos called Those Who Slither in the Dark, ‘cept the one I got was slitherin’ in the Park. Kinda bummed me out too, got me thinkin’. Less a-mew-sing and more a-musing, if ya get me, heheh.” She couldn’t help but giggle, pretty pleased with herself for that one. “And now I find you were there too, all fun and games the whole time? How’s that ‘fair’, eh?”

Unfortunately, while the Great King of Evil possessed a great many remarkable qualities, a sense of humor wasn’t one of them. That led to a somewhat frosty trip for the mismatched pair as they headed toward the Royal District. All Ganondorf needed to know was that with the Agarthans neutralized following the other teams’ success, their target -Consul P- could finally be taught a much-deserved lesson. Rubick, however, left to visit some shops instead.

The majority of the Seekers reconvened before the gates of the garden compound that surrounded the base of the Clock Tower. Beneath the bridge that spanned its large pond lay the underwater pipes that brought several of them here, and the garden’s luminescent fungi illuminated the undersides of the great fragments of masonry that floated overhead, too steeped in magic to heed the laws of gravity. Past the gates, through the garden, and over the bridge stood none other than Iguana Gallo Valetto, shielded from the rain by some sort of charm. Behind him the grand doors of Gallo Tower lay unbarred, ready to receive the guests invited in by its former master. If anyone needed a refresher on the plan they could inquire with him, but after that anyone who wished to deal the final blow to P could follow him to the Consul’s bolt-hole. The rest need only track down and confront P himself, bereft of his Agarthan honor guard and vulnerable to the heroes’ machinations. The Seekers only need ready themselves and enter.

Before going in, Nadia paid a visit to the Koopa Troop. “Hey, could I borrow that thingie that focuses changes?” she asked them, Kronya’s spirit in her hand. “I need to see it in detail. In de tail, literally.” She pointed her thumb at her fish tail. “This big ol’ thing’s just been a giant pain. Figured it’s time I put it behind me.”

While the others prepared to storm the tower, Nadia found herself faced with the prospect of trying to get used to two new facets of herself: the feeling of having three tails, and the hair that now stubbornly hung over her left eye. The tails felt more or less alright after a few good wiggles, but her attempt to clip the new covering off led to frustration as her bang immediately regenerated. While doing this, she happened to notice an unfamiliar face among the crowd, breaking her concentration. “Oh, hey,” she said, waving to demon Bowser, Rika, and Therion brought back from Shambhala. “How’s it goin’? I’m Ms. Fortune.”

“The name’s Concetta Caciotta!” the airborne musician announced proudly. “Things could be a lot better to be honest, I’m gonna starve to death any second! The stuff we found in the bad guys’ base was basically tripe. At least I’m free, though. Who are you all and what’re we doing here?”

Nadia winced. “Oof. Sounds like we gotta lot of explainin’ to do.” Rifling through her pockets, she presented Concetta with a couple dozen Geo in loose change. “Here. We’re about to take care of some business, so why not go off and get somethin’ to eat? We can catch up after.”

“Hey, you’re not bad!” Concetta accepted the cash and clapped the catgirl on the back. “I owe you one, Fortune! When you get done here I’ll buy you a drink!”

With the most daring members of the group seconds away from breaching the tower, Nadia turned her attention to the gates after waving Concetta goodbye. “That works out pretty good, ‘cause dependin’ on how things go here, I might need end up needin’ one.”
Hidden 11 mos ago Post by TruthHurts22
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Member Seen 17 days ago

Rank 6
34 / 60 EXP

Underground Nexus

The platoon's tear through the underground tunnels was proving challenging, but very fruitful. The Others, as bizarre they looked and tricky they were to handle, had been just a step away from being cakewalks for the crew, especially once they joined up with a second platoon to trek further in. He would've chatted more but honestly a lot of his focus was in avoiding the patches of water that were all over the place. And, shooting bad guys, obviously.

Their pass through a strange, red-bathed section of the tunnel, filled with disparate thoughts loosened from the minds of countless others, definitely skeeved Raz out a fair bit. Being reduced to just a mote of intellect or memory, well, it was sorta a psychic's worst nightmare. Luckily they didn't hang around in there for much longer.

Raz noticed the relative lack of Others since the big fight a while ago, assuming they just never stuck around in these back parts for whatever reason. Luka pointed out the tire tracks, and Raz went over to check them out too, squatting down to poke at them, as if that would cause them to reveal their secrets. "Are you sure these aren't like, Other prints? They're all made out've random junk. Some gotta have tires, right?"

It was then that something happened. To put it in more words, a literal stampede of Others emerged from a dark offshoot towards them. Raz sprang into an action-y pose. "Wah! Sorry, it's actually nice junk you guys are made out of!"

Panic compliments aside the fight never actually happened, with Dexio collapsing the entrance before the Vase Paws could make it through. This, of course, had the side effect of collapsing the entire room, with Raz only just managing to roll out from a chunk of concrete that would've turned him into a psychic pancake, and not one of the tasty kind.

"I'm alright," Raz answered through Brain Talk. Luka took control, as leader and all, so Raz hopped up onto a Levball, helping to at least somewhat light the collapsed part of the tunnels they were stuck in now. "Just my luck that we didn't get stuck on the side with the big hole, huh?"

Level 3 (XP: 19/30)

Edinburgh MagicaPolis - Aether Paradise

With the night having passed uneventfully for himself and their hideout, Wonder Red was just a smidge eager to get back to action the next morning. 'Action' meant danger and imperilment, most of the time, though Red was more hoping to be of further use to his comrades. Pick up the slack he felt he was giving.

The group gathered to discuss the daily news; the story about N's fight with a woman in green, apparently known by Albedo and Frisk, was noteworthy, but even more pressing for them was the headliner, the "War on Alcamoth". Definitely something to worry about, though with the news only being announced today, surely the campaign has yet to start.


Later, when the crew arrived at the hearing Consul L was conducting (Wonder Red still beneath his trusty dull cloak), it was clear that no, actually, whatever this so-called war actually was was actually already over, courtesy of L herself. Wonder Red was taking the statement with a grain of salt, as it was just as likely to be a lie on L's part, though she did appear physically injured, at least from how far away Red could see her. He turned to the others first as L was on her way out, masking the conversation with the din of the crowd.

"What do you all think? Could she be telling the truth? Is there a way to investigate further?"

Before any proper planning could be accomplished, a new figure suddenly appeared beside them, a strange purple-ish beast that Wonder Red recalled was a kind of Pokemon, though he interacted very little with Mewtwo during his short time in Alcamoth. He too was beaten up, and gave Ace a strained look before he collapsed from his injuries. Between that, L's speech, and Ace's sudden shock of whatever Mewtwo's words were, it was clear that something certainly had happened at Alcamoth.

"...it'll be alright," Wonder Red sternly said. "Commander Nelson would have evacuated as many as he could in the Virgin Victory, if anything happened there." The way he said it made it seem more like he was trying to assure himself than the others. For a moment he looked down at the unconscious Mewtwo, then up to Aether Paradise, contemplating something...

And then he dashed away from the others, through the crowd, towards the lake. It wasn't the smartest play, barely even a thought-out one, but Wonder Red couldn't leave without confirmation. He simply couldn't stay blind.

With all the lung power afforded to the Wonder One-Double-Oh, Wonder Red's voice boomed across the lake, echoing even over the noise of the crowd. Perched on top of the railing that surrounded the lake, Wonder Red leveled a finger up to the platform, vaguely in L's direction, his cloak still wrapped around himself. "What did you do to Alcamoth to ensure its surrender?!"

There was a pause, a moment where Wonder Red's brain caught up with him, as if he left it behind when he first dashed away and it only just returned to him. He followed it up with, "as a concerned citizen of yours I'm... worried, of Alcamoth's retaliation! I need to know how much you've done... to, to keep us safe!"

Lv. 2

Location: The Under - City of Tears

The meeting with IGV and subsequent plans to take on Those That Slither in the Dark were things that Ichiban just, did not have the mental capacity to deal with in the moment. It was a lot, apparently stuff these people have been dealing with for a while, but Ichiban was just some guy bumming around the city doing oddjobs for cash. Not only was he not quite clicking with the politics and deception, he also felt like he simply was out of his depth. He decided to remain quiet for the meeting, and when everyone left the spooky haunted mansion he took his leave, thanking everyone for the opportunity and for having met them.

That was about it for Ichiban's interactions with the Seekers, at least for as long as it took them all to hunt down the Slitherers and strike them off the list. Only when everyone met back up in front of P's tower, ready to continue Gallo's plot, did his mophaired head crop up again.

"Hey guys!" Ichiban strolled up to the group as if they were old friends which, in a way, they were. "See you all are about to go up the tower, huh?" Ichiban craned his neck to look up at the towers, letting out a low whistle. "Geez, that's really high. Hope there's an elevator to it."

An awkwardness emanated from him after that greeting, one which didn't go away as everyone continued chatting and prepping. Eventually, just before things got on a real roll, Ichiban stopped Nadia and Omori away from the rest.

"Hey, look," he began, rubbing his neck, "I know this whole, dealing with the Consul stuff, it's pretty important to ya guys for some reason. But Consul P... he's just a kid. Kids can be mean, sure, get it in their heads they can act however they want, but that's the worst of it. P is that kinda kid given a prime minister's budget, kinda." He looked back up to P's tower, eyes wandering the top floors in search of the elusive Consul.

"And y'know, I don't like judgin' folks too much, but that Gallo guy, he gave me a real weird vibe." What Ichiban wasn't saying was how that weird vibe extended to most of the others too. Nadia and Omori excluded, the other Seekers seemed a little less scrupulous than Ichiban figured heroes should be. Two of them were even cosplaying as some seriously bad dudes for cryin' out loud! Shaking his head, Ichiban kept on rambling.

"Look, you guys gotta do what you gotta do. I just wanted to try an' say... P just needs to get put in his place. Y'can't hurt him too badly, or let Gallo do whatever he wants to. Guy's got some serious hate on this kid, it's kinda freaky." He looked back to the others nearer to the gate. "Guess I can't really stop you either way."

701 Words
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Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 4 hrs ago

Sakura Level 9: 38/90
Location: Seiran Tunnels
Word Count: smal
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 9: 44/90 +5


”See ya! Good luck!” Sakura called out to the leaving team.

When they made it down the tunnel and looked at those strange little psychic blips ands shimmers. She reached out to poke one, and hesitated. Her thoughts about them weren’t that deep- but she found them interesting. It was nice, in a way, that these feelings and thoughts were preserved somewhere. Even if only for a little. Like finding a carving of a heart and two initials on a tree. It can be sweet to get a glimpse like that. Though in this case, a little uncomfortable, too.

Noticing the tire tracks when Luka pointed them out, Sakura thought. ”Bad guys?” She offers.

That was when Dexio did a somewhat ill-advised move, splitting the party in half. And not even saving Sakura, Peach, and Sina from the oncoming monsters!

”Uh oh! Not good!” Sakura said, nervously looking for an escape. The hole was pretty far away, and there was no guarantee all three of them could easily make up, if at all, before one of them got caught. She also tried to gauge the distance. Sakura could jump pretty high. But even if she could make it, no way would she leave Peach and Sina alone.

Out of the three on this side though, Sakura felt she was the physically most powerful. If anyone should be last, it should be her, because the others could support her. Right?

”Can we get outta here somehow?!” She asked. But it was no dice.

Sakura started chucking fireballs the Others way to harry their approach. ”Let me try your Cryokinesis, Sina!” She exclaimed, and then her fireballs began to have a frosty twist! Badass! The elemental damage would slow them down and of course, hurt more. ”Wow, that's cool!” She said, the simple unfunny pun not intended nor noticed. But shortly, they closed the distance.

Once they got close enough, she would stride forward and began to battle them, kicking and punching, blocking and dodging as best she could. She infused her strikes with more Cryokinesis. The Vase Paws were hungry and quite kicky, but Sakura stayed out of range and returned fire with her roundhouse kicks, knocking them away and into each other. As one tried to get up, she blasted it apart with a hadoken. One of them hit her in the back, but she turned and blocked the next kicks. Another grouped up to gang up on her, but she spent her V-Reversal and used her powerful defensive technique to get them all off her.

”No, wait-! We got this!” Sakura exclaimed, her spirits rallying a bit as when the Vase Paws got up to get her, she pushed her advantage to throw them into each other and scatter their un-sapient ashes across the tunnel floor.

”The three of us?! No problem!” Sakura said.
Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

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Road to Ruin

Level 12 Tora (46/120) Level 12 Poppi (56/120)
Giovanna, Roxas’ @Double, Pit’s @Yankee, Susie’s @Archmage MC, Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man, Partitio’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 1635

First things first. “Poppi?” Tora called, as much to get her attention as to make absolutely sure she was by his side. “Need focus on defense, meh. Please switch Alpha!”

“Roger roger.” Sparks flew in the rain as the artificial blade reconfigured. The sheer mechanical power of her Masterpon’s original design, combined with the heavy metal plating from Poppi’s fusions with the Armor and Chemtrail would provide the strength and durability the pair needed for a knock-down, drag-out battle of attrition. After a moment the gear shift finished with a hiss and a burst of steam, Poppi’s red cape flapping in the wind as she hefted her claymore onto her shoulder. “Alpha by name, alpha by nature!”

Tora pulled out his new hammer, and once Poppi constructed a Drill Shield for him, he hefted that in his off-wing as well. “Meh-meh,” the Nopon laughed, only a little nervous. A true heropon knew no fear, after all. “Time to begin!”

With Poppi at his back he started to move, advancing toward the horde of machines still a little ways off. He began to beat his hammer against his shield, the repeated slams satisfyingly loud. The racket bolstered his courage, even as the baleful red eyes of machine lifeforms locked onto him by the hundreds. The role Tora accepted and strove to fill was that of the protector, the ironclad tank who drew the enemies’ ire away from his allies and withstood whatever punishment they could heap upon him. Sure enough, his clamor did its job. After just a couple moments, the machines -moving at a steady march down the desolate avenue- broke off in twos and threes to sprint in his direction, their metal feet splashing through the puddles. A Legpower Goliath charged out at the head of the pack thanks to its huge, long gait, the terrific slams of its footfalls enough to make just about any heart quail.

But not Tora’s. He tightened his grip. “First one in fight…”

“...And last one left standing!” Poppi replied.

The Legpower closed in with terrifying speed and lifted its huge leg to bring down on Tora with a massive stomp. Its immense limb landed dead-center, but rather than squash the Nopon flat it stopped short, the pancake-making wallop blocked by a combination of Tora’s upheld Drill Shield and a channeled ether barrier from Poppi. As the barrier faded Tora engaged the thrusters to push back against the immense force crushing down on him, holding it just long enough for Poppi to slide beneath the titanic foot and put her shoulder against its weight. With a mighty push she and Tora threw the foot off, sending the Legpower off-balance, and a moment later Tora followed up with a Boom Biter fired from his shield to take a chunk out of its torso. Enraged, the Legpower aimed a giant kick at the pair, but they split to either side to let that death sentence pass them by. Noting a matching robot head on the Legpower’s underside, Tora got into position as Poppi hacked at the big machine’s leg joints with her sword. He deployed his shield’s drill and put its thrusters to full burn to fly straight upward, digging into the head. “Uppies!” he cried, and Poppi dropped her claymore to oblige. As the Legpower stomped around, she used her thrusters to buoy Tora up from beneath, allowing him to carve straight up through the Legpower’s innards and finally burst up through its top head in a fountain of oil, sparking circuits, and scrap metal.

“Meh-heh-heeeeeh!” he cheered as he landed in Poppi’s waiting arms, watching as the Legpower crashed to the earth. Of course, the minute it did it got stomped underfoot by the mob of Bipeds only just now catching up to the opposition, so Poppi put her Masterpon down and hefted her sword back up. The first Large Biped used the fallen Legpower’s leg as a springboard to launch itself at Tora with a double overhead slam. It pounded his guard two more times before he deflected its blow, opening it up for a massive horizontal slice from Poppi that breezed over Tora’s head to carve through the machine like butter.

As its upper and lower halves fell, two Medium Bipeds attacked. Tora ducked lower and hammered his assailant in the side of the knee, caving it in sideways, but the Biped replied with a blow to the head. It barely left a bruise, and armed with that knowledge Tora happily took a second minor inconvenience to finish what he started and knock the Biped’s legs out from under it. A second later he cracked its head like a watermelon, and that was that. Meanwhile, Poppi lopped off her attacker’s right arm as it went to punch her, then neatly transitioned into a horizontal cut. Without enough momentum, it lodged halfway through, so Poppi put her other hand against the embedded blade and began to rotate her torso. She dragged the machine around her in two full loops before bifurcating it with a final heave, which sent its halves flying off toward the rest.

Overhead, two Small Fliers and a Medium Flier began to circle, shooting down iridescent pink orbs at a middling pace. While moving to avoid them Tora came under attack by a Large Biped that windmilled its arms in a constant onslaught, forcing him to block until he came to a sudden realization. He positioned the edge of the shield in the arm’s path and watched with glee as the Biped rammed its arms down on its serrated edges. From there a good wrench was enough to part its forearms from its body, and when Tora twisted back he buried the shield into the machine’s lower torso, knocking it to the ground. An overhead hammer swing drove the shield the rest of the way to finish it off, though Tora quickly retrieved the shield to block the Fliers’ shots. Poppi boosted up to get them off her Masterpon’s back, extending her blade to stab through its rotors and into its body. After taking aim she hurled it from the sword into one of the Medium Flier’s four turbines, sending it spiraling to the ground, then boosted toward the last one to wreck it beneath her weight as she descended to earth like a meteorite.

As she came down with a bang, Tora bashed a sword-wielding Medium Biped’s head sideways with its hammer, then as it spun jumped into the air to come down with a front flip shield crush that crumpled the machine’s head into its still-standing body. He rolled off and right into a block against a Multileg Cutter. It sliced left, then right, then angled its blades downward for a double stab over Tora’s block. He angled his defense up just in time, only to be thrown for a loop as the Multileg then began a rapid spin attack. It blew open his guard as the sparks flew and began to smack him, only for Poppi’s sword to fly in and pierce straight through its torso. It ground to a halt as a trio of Bipeds closed in, so Tora tossed Poppi the shield to unleash a Blade Art–Noponic Axiom. Her Electric Core flared to life as the whirling Drill Shield sent forth a rippling cone of chain lightning, frying all four machines until they blew up in an impressive chain explosion. A Quadruped circled around the blast, but with the weapon in her hands the Artificial Blade could fire off Riot Guns, and it took just two to blow the Quadruped to bits. As Tora felled a Medium Biped with a solid battering from his hammer, Poppi noticed the Medium Flier about to take off again and got an idea. “Boost me!” Poppi passed the shield back to Tora, pulled her claymore out, and springboarded off him in a mighty somersault slash to finish off the quadrotor.

More machines charged in. Poppi charged through a Reverse-joint’s gunfire to challenge it head on, stopping its pounce with a terrific left hook to floor it before hacking away with her swordblade. Tora fired off Boom Biter after Boom Biter, blowing two or three Bipeds up at a time, but his third only staggered a Large Biped with a glancing blow while a Quadruped leaped over the blast. It ran him down and pivoted around for a nasty double leg kick, but Tora’s low profile meant he could sweep underneath the blow and then fly up with a rocket-propelled drill. It dug in as he flew in a short arc, flipping the Quadruped onto its back. Once they landed the drill bit stuck fast and the shield itself began to spin, Tora with it. “Meeeh-eeeeeh-eeeeeh!” he cried as he whirled around, holding on with a single wing with the hammer in the other. The Bipeds that closed in hoping for an easy kill instead took a brutal pounding and hit the dirt as smoking, dented wrecks. Only when a new flier shot Tora off did his wild ride come to an end, but as the Nopon rolled along the ground Poppi yanked the busted-up shield from the Quadruped’s body to hurl at the airborne machine like a flying sawblade.

The flier hurtled to the ground and blew up on impact. As the flame and smoke cleared, a Goliath closing in on the pair looked up from the wreckage to stare the dynamic duo down, then resumed its approach, surrounded by Bipeds and a handful of small, bug-shaped Drones neither remembered seeing before. They seemed different, but nothing the two couldn’t handle. “Not done yet, right Masterpon?” Poppi helped Tora to his feet and passed him a newly-constructed Drill Shield, which he accepted with a grin.

“Tora only just get started!”

Medium Biped x 13, Large Biped x 5, Legpower x1, Multileg x1, Reverse-joint x1, Quadruped x2, Small Flier x3, Medium Flier x1
Total: 27

Edinburgh MagicaPolis

Level 8 Big Band (74/80)
Ace Cadet’s @Yankee, Red’s @TruthHurts22, Mewtwo’s @Double
Word Count: 1339

While a seven-foot-seven, five thousand pound detective in a tan trench coat couldn’t be called inconspicuous with a straight face, Band did what he could not to stand out, or to stand in front of any Edinburgh civilians and block their view. A few more feet wouldn’t make a difference if his person of interest descended on that artificial island across the water. When L finally made her appearance, though, Band watched and listened to her with bated breath. So this is the woman I’ve heard so much about, he mused, his eyes on the tall, slender figure’s strangely ceremonial cherry-red armor and helmet. I feel like I know you already. Even if that headwear blocked her features, Band felt like he could safely say that this was the face of the enemy.

How many Consuls was this, now? He’d heard about N but couldn’t attach an appearance to the name, and he’d both seen and heard the Consul of the Metro, but missed out on his name. Then the one reported by the contingent who reached Twilight Town by boat, S. Two alphabetical aliases might have been a coincidence, but three was a pattern. Did that indicate the existence of twenty-six Consuls, all endowed with clear authority over some section of the World of Light or another? Their presence and purpose intrigued Band to no end. Virtually everywhere had someone or another in a position of power, but this felt different. With so many worlds involved, what were the odds that the same caste of people reigned in such different places, and so far apart? That smacked of something intentional. Galeem’s intentions? he wondered. If it possesses such faculties, instating stewards to keep a chokehold over the World of Light -and to quell any opposition- made sense. That meant getting rid of them made sense too.

Unfortunately he, Ace, and Red were in a bad spot to think about challenging her. From here, the Aether Foundation’s headquarters looked less like a paradise and more like a citadel, ringed by a gigantic, ice-cold moat. Band might be able to rocket across the freezing water to reach the island, maybe even with Red hitching a ride, but his power of transportation ended there. But even if all three managed to face L, with Lucia -currently attending to personal matters elsewhere in the city- and Frisk plus Albedo -cooped up in Grammeowster’s Kitchen with Sierra to avoid L recognizing them- thrown in for good measure, that might not be enough. Sure, L looked tired and wounded from her battle, but to Band’s world-weary eyes that looked too good to be true. If he were a betting man, he’d put his chips down on Edinburgh’s other Consul being nearby. Rushing in half-cocked at the smell of blood sounded like an easy way to spring a trap and get killed.

In the midst of Band’s musings, an unexpected guest appeared out of the blue. Mewtwo blinked in, gasped an urgent plea straight into the Seekers’ minds, and collapsed. Ace seemed to recognize him, his surprised exclamation letting the others -and bystanders- hear the creature’s name. The detective blinked -in the traditional sense- a couple times himself, then got to action. Already the crowd’s attention in their immediate vicinity lay squarely on Mewtwo. A warp like that would’ve gotten their attention even if he hadn’t been a legendary Pokemon, but thanks to that all eyes lay on him, and excited whispers filled the air. Eager trainers began to rummage through their bags for Pokeballs. The Monster Hunter quickly explained Mewtwo’s origin, and Band gave an urgent nod of understanding. He needed to control this chaos. “Scuse us, folks,” he began, turning to stand in front of Mewtwo as Ace began to carry him off. “Our friend here’s been travelin’ all day, poor guy’s all tuckered out.”

“Oh, it’s your Pokemon?” one of the nearby trainers asked, sounding disappointed. “Well, Mewtwos are very rare, you all should take better care of it!” She crossed her arms, looking indignant for Mewtwo’s sake. “Take a page out of the Aether Foundation’s book!”

“...Right.” Seeing that Ace had cleared the crowd with Mewtwo and was on his way back to base, Band looked around to make sure he wasn’t missing anyone. “Red? Hey Red, where’d you…?”

A voice from behind him got his attention, and the detective whirled around to see the superhero as he shouted at the top of his lungs across the lake. Balancing on the railing there was no mean feat considering his disproportionately large head, but Band found his audacity a lot more impressive. For a moment the stunned detective thought that Red was trying to confront L about her evildoing directly to bring her to justice, but Red opted for the thinnest veneer of subterfuge possible rather than none at all. While he managed to outstrip the volume of the crowd, which by now had died down thanks to their increasing dispersal, his voice had a long way to travel to get all the way to L on top of the Aether Resort. Band doubted she heard it, but he wasn’t about to let Red try again. He zoomed over, sliding across the snow-dusted stone brick, and snatched Red right off the railing with Take the A Train. Of course, he didn’t perform the percussive follow-up he usually did when landing this grab, and just rumbled back the way he came with his captive in tow.

“Ain’t no way you just tried to pull a stunt like that,” Band chided as he hustled to catch up with Ace and Mewtwo. “You wanna blow our cover or somethin’? That back there was a trap, one hundred percent. I betcha ten to one N was lurkin’ around there somewhere too. The last thing we need right now is the Consuls’ attention., and even if they didn’t suss us out, ya think she’d make time answerin’ questions for random nobodies?” After a couple dozen seconds the group got a safe distance away, so Band let Red out. “Look, I wanna know just as bad as you,” he admitted to the superhero. “But let’s look after Mewtwo here first. Chances are we can get the story from him.”

Before getting too far away from the Aether Resort, however, the group happened upon one of Edinburgh’s many Pokemon Centers. The boxy white building, roofed in red, before the trademark Pokeball symbol that identified anything and everything Pokemon. Mewtwo had fainted after using the last of his strength to reach Ace, but his red-haired acquaintance had the means to ease his pain: Lifepowder. A dose left Mewtwo lucid enough to recognize the Pokemon Center when he saw it, and while he couldn’t be healed by its machine as a free Pokemon, Band didn’t mind forking over some of the money earned from yesterday’s show to buy him a Revive.

Once administered the yellow crystal, Mewtwo would awaken on a red chair in the Pokemon Center, with the others standing by as the nurse’s kindly Audino took care of him with Heal Pulse. He’d still be tired, his PP painfully low, but his health was fully restored in no time. Once the Audino took her leave, Band stepped in. “You feelin’ alright?” he asked. “The name’s Big Band. We’re all Seekers.” He paused for a moment, swallowed, then continued more tentatively. “Don’t mean to rush ya, so take your time an’ all, but before we do anythin’ we’re itchin’ to hear whatever you’ve got to say about Alcamoth. Ain’t seen it myself, but it sounded important.” He narrowed his eyes. Red had mentioned Nelson evacuating people with the Virgin Victory, but last Band heard that airship was still undergoing repairs in that oasis outside of Gerudo Town. That meant that the inhabitants of Alcamoth might not have been able to evacuate during an attack.

“What happened?”

Underground Nexus

Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Peach, Luka, Dexio, Sina, Raz

The sight of so many Vase Paws shook Peach, but only for a moment. Even in a big pack, these Others weren’t anything she hadn’t seen before. Four of them charged her way, led by a swift-footed frontrunner that zigged and zagged from side to side. Peach white-knuckled her Scatterboom, tracing the monster’s path with the barrel of her weapon, but only after the Vase Paws lunged for her did she make the final, critical adjustment and fire. A thunderous report echoed through the collapsed nexus as her point-blank blast sent the shotgun flying back in a burst of blood-red flower petals, its smoldering corpse tumbling along the ground until it burned away.

Its fellows hopped over its body and closed in, the clack of their heels and the jingle of their tails an intimidating cacophony. The first one jumped at her, flying through the air as it lashed out with both legs in a double kick. Peach dodged to the side and let it fly past her to focus on the second one, following close on the other’s heels. It unleashed a grounded, straightforward door-buster kick, and Peach span past it, staying close. With an adrenaline-fueled heave she bashed the Other’s narrow waist with a melee from her shotgun, then as it stumbled ditched the Scatterboom for her parasol. The princess deftly flipped it in her hand and grabbed it in a reverse grip to reach out with its J-shaped holt and hook the off-kilter Other’s leg out from under it, dropping it to the ground. By that time the third Vase Paws reached her, and with her teeth clenched she managed to block its high roundhouse with the furled parasol. After two quick strikes to the body with the hilt she took hold of the handle with her other hand and jabbed it point-first into the Other’s center of mass to then pop it open, flinging the Vase Paws away.

The move took just a hair too long, however, and as Peach turned to face it the last one delivered a tail lash right to her cheek that left her seeing stars as her jaw stung. Peach leaned into the spin to avoid stumbling, however, and recovered just in time to lean back away from the Vase Paw’s backflip tail lash. “Whoa!” she yelped, almost falling over backward. On instinct she manifested Grimm’s revolver, and the moment the Other landed a screaming wraith slammed into it, instantly flooring it in a shower of petals and ceramic fragments. The first Vase Paws ran up and came around with a mighty spin kick that Peach just barely rolled under, but by the time she came to rest on her back she’d already taken aim with the revolver again. With a hideous cry the Vase Paws fell, one leg blown clean off, but its second-fiddle kindred took revenge as Peach tried to rise with a swift kick in the guts. “Oof!” she grunted, tumbling backward only to activate Levitation and spring into the air. Out of the Vase Paws’ range, the princess pulled out her launcher, and a rocket aimed at her attacker’s feet knocked it down. As she fell the third Other charged in to intercept her, but Peach paused her fall mid-air with her float ability and nailed its head with repeated kicks instead. Her barrage ended with a point-blank inferno from her re-manifested Scatterboom. That left just the second Other, discombobulated by her rocket’s splash damage, and when it ran at her Peach got a spark of inspiration. Borrowing Sina’s Cryokinesis, she froze a patch of the floor, watched the Vase Paws slip and fall. Peach sidled up and beat it down with her parasol until a bulb popped up from its body. With a grin, she manifested a golf club and lifted it up. “Fore!” Crash!

All four foes defeated, Peach straightened up and let out a heavy breath, then checked on the others. Sakura dealt with the lion’s share of the Vase Paws with ease, naturally. Sina had things a little harder -and positioned herself behind Sakura, somewhat- but had gotten a few kills of her own. Even before Peach had, she’d used an ice slick to topple an Other in order to line up an icicle kill shot from her arm cannon. As the princess watched, Sina managed to stop her last enemy in its tracks with a torrent of freezing spray. She then saunted her up and casually pushed it over to shatter messily on the ground.

Peach smiled. Another battle won. “Nice work, you two!”

In the wake of the action, Luka reached out through Brain Talk again, the connection a little fuzzy thanks to the blockage.. ”I’m not hearing anything. Everyone alright in there?”

”Just took care of them,” Peach replied.

Dexio’s voice entered her mind next. ”Thank goodness. We’re gonna teleport in there in a second, I’m using my seismic sense to find a spot that’s clear. Need to be extra careful, so it’s gonna be another few seconds.

Peach nodded. ”No rush, we’re-”

In the corner of her eye–a telltale glimmer. Maybe it was her experience fighting a protracted campaign against the Rabbids back in the day. Maybe it was the showdown with the sharpshooters at Spiral Mountain. Or maybe it stemmed from the traumatic stress pounded into her head during the Battle of Blackwater Bay. Regardless, Peach recognized the glint of a sniper scope when she saw it. She said not a word, but her body moved on its own; her Scatterboom manifested in her hands as she turned to take aim at the threat.

There was a muted sound, and something hit her, right in the stomach. For a moment, it didn’t even hurt. Then she felt a powerful twinge, like nausea, and her gun fell from her hands. Her eyes went wide, and she clutched her midsection, frozen as if in shock. “Peach? Peach!” Sina called, jogging over, but her voice sounded far away. Even Peach’s own ragged breathing sounded muffled, as if from the other side of a window. The princess looked up, but a red scar blossomed across in her vision, blocking everything out. She spasmed once and, spreading from the impact point, her body turned to glass, laced by a web of cracks like veins. Then the air around her turned to glass, riddled by fractures, leaving Peach’s image distorted. Looking like something inhuman.

Then the glass shattered. And an Other appeared.

It was massive. Its mannequin body, vaguely humanoid but sutured together and twisted backward at the waist, its weight on its tiptoes and elbows. Red ribbons tipped with golden spikes extended like tentacles from a hole in its belly. Its hands gripped the sides of its head, a little shed with a throat like interior, an empty chair recessed within with a bed of blue pinecone flowers at its feet, crowned by two veiled busts with black wrought-iron crowns and a pair of antlers. Swarms of fluttering butterflies clustered on its thighs and beneath the eaves of its head. The Other towered above Sina, who stood stunned beneath a rain of glassy fragments, until the monster raised its atrocious head and slammed it down.

“Agh!” Sina cried as she got launched backward. She hit the ground hard and slid to a stop in the dust against some rubble, still conscious.

At that moment a blue flash heralded the arrival of Luka, Dexio, and Raz. “Holy hell!” Dexio shouted the second he saw the thing, followed by, “Sina!” he took off running, and the Other lashed its ribbons at him. He shielded his head and slid to a stop in front of his partner.

Luka gritted his teeth and hefted his hammer. “Everyone who can move, lend a hand! Activate Brain Drive, now!” So saying, he grabbed the cord that dangled from the left side of his collar. When he pulled it, his hood flipped up and shrouded his face in darkness. Red streaks flashed through the pitch and formed his unique Brain Drive pattern of two glowing triangles. This state of intense mental focus, charged up by all the combat thus far, would grant him greater speed, attack, and psionic power as he strove to face this new challenge head-on–before it killed them all.

Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Double
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Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 42 min ago

Edinburgh MagicaPolis ~ Pokemon Center

@Lugubrious Big Band | @Yankee Ace Cadet

Word Count: 530
Level 1 Mewtwo: 6/10
Exp: 1
NEW EXP Balance--- 7/10

"Mew..." said Mewtwo to the Audino once it had finished its work, thanking them. He rarely ever spoke verbally, except to fellow Pokemon since they would be the only creatures able to understand him. After that he focused his attention on the trio of Seekers now standing before him.

<What L says... is true.> He told them telepathically, <They attacked early this morning. L, and one other Consuls, H. They brought their fleets with them and invaded Alcamoth.> He gave them, as many details as he could recall, though unfortunately it would be an incomplete picture with the perspective of only a single survivor. Still, the Pokemon did his best.

<We fought back, but they had us outnumbered and outgunned. Mass casualties on both sides. I don't think very many of the mercenaries made it out alive. I recall Vandham leading a few to some kind of escape route, but I do not know if they successfully made it out.> He tried to think, knowing he needed to give them as many of the details as he could remember. <Myself, Dante, Sol, Jack-O, and Olimar were able to confront the Consuls directly. Dante and the others did a number on H, managing to send his ship crashing down into Eyrth Sea. H and Dante went down with it, but I admit I was a little too preoccupied with L to be able to confirm what exactly happened.>

He narrowed his eyes, recalling the discovery he had made about the female Consul. <Speaking of L, I battled her myself, and I believe I was able to discern her identity. Her name is unknown to me, but the beasts that she summons and commands uses Pokemon Moves, of that I am certain. I believe that L is a Pokemon Trainer from my world, and that means her Aether Foundation also likely came from my world as well. I did quite a number on L myself, and when she retreated in her ship I managed to stow away and follow her here.> He closed his eyes in thought, wishing he was able to provide any further revelations than that. <If you have a means of communication, then I suggest that you contact the other Seekers. Princess Peach and the others need to be informed about what's happened.> Then he opened them and stood to his feet.

<L! She puts on a convincing front, but make no mistake, she's not in good shape right now. Because of her battle with me four of her beasts are gone and L herself is injured and weakened. I know what I must do. I must finish the battle I started with her. This is easily the best opportunity we have to try and take her down once and for all and deal some real damage to the Consuls. She'll pay for what happened to Alcamoth, I'm going to make sure of it.>
Hidden 11 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 21 hrs ago

wordcount: 1,233 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (76/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 3 (+1 for combat reward)

Midna’s shadowhand struck true for the dozenth time, sending a pair of Session Pounds sailing to the side, where their battered forms crashed into the wall of the endless tunnel. One detonated on impact, and then set off the other in a chain reaction while Midna held up one of arms to block the blinding flash of the detonation, while the other clung tight to her wolfos’s coat.

A good thing she did so too, for just as soon as the floating bombs were dead her steed lunged to the side in a daring leap, chasing the camera’s path to avoid some incoming signage, an action that would have caused her to fall off had she not been holding onto it for dear life.

”I really need to invest in stirrups” Midna muttered to herself as the leap came to an end, before squinting forwards through the lens of her mask and asking ”Alright who’s talking to the hand next huh?” only for her question to be answered with no more flashing lights, as the constant drip feed of floating bombs came to an unexpected end.

”That’s what I thought” she declared haughty to the dead, before addressing the camera: ”Out of disposable minions are you? Well to bad, because now I can give you my full attention”

Her method of doing so was to raise up a hand, opening a portal out of which singing sand started to pour. It fell behind them at first, only to take flight as per her will, and go streaming forwards, the sound of it rushing through the air adding wordless singing to the pulsing beats of the music being played.

The stream of sand rushed forwards, and then wrapped around the camera, coarse grains starting to slowly but surely weather away at it. ”Get sand tomb-ed! Your days are numbered now machines, because there’s no escaping this” the princess declared as the swirling sand started to bog the machine’s flight down and scratched its lens and paintwork. Or that is what it would have done, had something not burst out of one of the voids behind her platform.

”Huh?” the princess went as she glanced back at the noise, only to get a face full of high beam headlights from the utter monstrosity that had risen from the depths.

”Gah! Why why why why all this light!?” the glare blinded princess demanded to know as she turned away again, hand covering her face, only to have her own sand to blast past her as the glare robbed her of the ability to control it, which resulted in more cursing and questioning ”Son of a moblin, what in the goddess’s name is happening?!”

It took her a few moments to recover, and when she had her first act was to yell ”Alright that’s it you are going down, and I’m coming to do it myself!” at the camera. To do this she swapped out her wolfos for her vibrava, which she had grip her back so they could combine their flight. Yet when she pushed off the ground and activated her levitation the expected thrum of insectile wings did not meet her ears.

No, instead she began to fall rapidly behind, and towards the lumbering light blasting monstrosity pursuing them.

”What are you doing?! Fly you fool!” Midna demanded, as she reached out and grabbed the platform she had just been on with her shadow hand, halting her own ‘fall’ jarringly enough that her spirit transformed beast lost grip of her back and fell back from her as well.

She glanced after it, squinting through the light, and saw the vague shape of the virava skill-lessly flapping wings that would not lift it as it tumbled haplessly through the air. Then it fell past the highbeams cone of light, and suddenly caught itself as the power of flight returned without warning. Wings beat, letting it narrowly dodge a punch swung by the car monster, only for it to re-enter the yellow glare and its flight to falter once again, sending it crashing down onto the hood of the vehicle.

Before a hand could grab and crush it, a twilight portal opened up under it, and it was sent home by the princess, who then reeled herself back to the platform. Feet struck the solid(ish) ground once again, only to slip due to her maglev mod reducing the friction her feet had with the surface. Normally she would have popped dragon claws on her toes to stop this, but bathed in the yellow glow these failed to materialize, and the princess had to be saved from slipping back off the platform via a re-summoning of her wolfos.

The beast caught her by her jacket, then tossed her onto its back, and then swiftly moved to leap out of the way of an incoming sign. As it did, the princess focused on her non pelt grabbing hand, trying to form dragon claws on it as well, a thing she managed only when that leap took her out of the range of the bayful glow of the half man half machine.

”But I can still use my magic so what is it? Can it be…?” she asked herself, and then had to come to a conclusion she really did not like, which was ”Watch out, the thing behind us’s light suppresses spirit powers!”

That left her with a fair few less options she realized, especially because the safety from the light she had landed in was temporary, as signs coming from in front and additional pursuing monstrosities would inevitably force her back into the glare.

Still unable to strike forwards without her attacks being disrupted, the princess instead tried to deal with their pursuers and to at least slow down their pursuers if she could not take them down. While her wolfos focused on what was coming from the front, the princess kept half lidded eyes focused back, while her shadow hand was raised above her, gathering power.

”Here, catch this you rejected chariot!” she called out as she finished charging her attack, before yelling ”Twilight volley bomb!” as she hurled a massive turquoise runic covered magic orb at the proverbial feet of their pursuer.

Had she tried to throw these forwards, odds were very high she would miss the floating camera, as her projectile was slow and had to hit the ground to detonate, with a not insurmountable risk that a poor judgment of her toss would see it clip a platform instead, which would have been disastrous. Backwards however, even into the blinding light, was easy. Momentum was with her and the crawling cars were too massive to miss, letting her nail them with the huge explosions with relative ease.

Whether that would actually do anything was by no means guaranteed, and if it did not she’d instead try the sand tomb trick again whenever she could get herself out of the light, but if she could, hurt them, break the lamps or even just force the monsters back with the blasts, that was what she’d focus on.
Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 12 hrs ago

Level 11 Blazermate (Holding 2 level up) - (87/110)
Location: Sector 05 Seiran
Word Count: Less than 750

Helping Benedict move between each platform and keeping people healed was the name of the game for Blazermate. She couldn't really offer anything in the form of ranged support to help deal with the camera, leaving that to the more ranged inclined of the group like Geralt and Goldlewis. She could keep them healed though, and her projectile shield would defend them from a wave of bombs and other return fire when she had the ability to use it. Thankfully she didn't really need to do much but have her medigun out for the shield to be in effect.

Dodging signs alongside the other flyers or agile members of their team wasn't too much of an issue as she spent most of her time being defensive anyway. With the camera looking fairly damaged though, the current things assaulting the L.I.F.T.s seemed to disappear, with new things coming in their place. Large composite creatures made of metal, horns, flesh... not too off from the Others she had seen before, but still weird, came out of the darkness to try to wrench the LIFTs off their tracks.

Seeing this, Blazermate decided enough was enough and gave their best ranged damage dealer a Kritzkreig. Well, she tried, and that ranged user got a bit out of it before Blazermate had to fly to another LIFT and got caught in the yellow beams of the newcomers. As soon as she did, the kritz was promptly canceled and her medaforce stopped decreasing. She could still heal and fly, but her little healing drone poofed out of existence. Blazermate wasn't excatly sure what was going on, but noticed that she couldn't swap her medigun to the ubersaw or anything and she had no shield charge. If these things made it so she couldn't use her kritz or healing drone, she'd just have to help the others quickly deal with the camera thing that was hampering all of their efforts. Soon it would be apparent at what they did as Midna called out those beams seemed to suppress their spirit gained powers. Now THAT would be an amazing part to take!

Kicking the nearby Cleanser upon landing on a new LIFT to get it away from pulling the LIFT down into the abyss. Even if the thing swiped at the medabot in retaliation, the damage wouldn't matter in the long run. Needing both hands free, Blazermate put down Benedict for a moment as she focused on the camera and fired a Medaforce beam at it, being her only real ranged attack. This used the rest of her medaforce charge bringing her down as if she had ubered, but it was a powerful laser beam. She'd then go back to beating up the cleanser for its spirit saying "Canceling other's spirit powers might be SUPER strong! We should get one of these guy's spirits if we can!" and making her intentions known, but if she needed to jump to the next lift, she'd grab Benedict and get moving.


Level 4 Susie - (35/40) - (Holding 1 level up)
Location: Robot battle
Word Count: 691

Thanks to help from Pit and Roxas, Susie was able to make her way out of her situation without anything following her, eventually making it back to her group. "Thanks for the cover." Susie said. Sure, she could've brawled it out with the robot animals, but seeing what was in that crate of supplies when it tipped over, she really wasn't interested in such low quality raw materials and just decided to bail. Landing next to the group, she followed them to meet up with the other seekers.

Eventually they made their way back to the valley of ruin as they met up with Tora, Poppi, and the other seekers. With everyone being in a big group, a loud sound of marching metal could be heard, and right on cue, below them on their cliffside vantage point was an army of 1000 robots strong. Susie noted that they looked far more dreadful than the robotic animals, in construction and durability, not in combat power. But they made up for it with sheer numbers. "Hmm... So they send out the 'elite' units to collect materials to produce the main military army which they use to overwhelm with numbers? That makes sense." Susie said as Giovanna poitned out it was up to them to stop them.

Seeing all the flyers in the group, Susie decided to stay on the cliffside and act like an artillery cannon, summoning a new business suit and grabbing a lightning element from Roxas to infuse her missiles with. While the rest of them could go into melee with the robot army, Susie herself could rain destruction from afar. And so she did, focusing on firing misiles into the air and have them rain down upon the robot army. She could fire two at a time from her business suit every couple of seconds, and tried to aim these electric missiles in a way that could hit the fliers in order to give the seekers some cover from the aerial forces. Of course being missiles without much in the way of homing capabilities, they were easy enough to dodge taking a direct hit if the fliers saw them coming, but the additional electric element to them meant that just being near the flying missile zapped you for some damage. Additionally when they landed, they let off a blast of electricity that arced to nearby robots, doing a bit lower damage than missiles of another element but having a lot of splash to them.

Susie herself, not needing to move her business suit as it rained destruction, could use a rocket launcher of her own from the cockpit. Pulling out the Cow Mangler, she let out an overcharged shot, reloaded, and let another one lose. Sure, this was a lot more cumbersome than her business suit and its missile tubes, so she could only let one out every 12 seconds or so. She could probably fire it faster, but she made sure to keep an eye out for robots trying to flank her position in case she had to move or attack them with the suit proper. That occasional mini crit energy rocket blasted whatever group of bots she aimed at and set them all on fire for a short time, knocking them about as well. She didn't bother aiming at the fliers with this rocket launcher, as gravity didn't seem to affect its rockets at all unlike her missiles fired from her business suit.

Overall, Susie's method of attack would help eliminate weaker robots, soften stronger ones, deal with some of the aerial robots, and put the enemy into chaos as best as she could. And thanks to her position, even if some of the grounded robots aimed up and shot at her position, some of their weapons would be ineffective at long range, and they'd have to hit a very tiny target as her business suit could absorb gunfire coming at it from below. Really it was the fliers that seemed to be the biggest threat as they could get a much better angle on Susie, so she had to focus on them more than anything.

Robots down: 62 (20 small fliers, 14 medium fliers, 18 small bipeds, 8 medium bipeds, 2 Goliaths.)


Level 10 Sectonia (holding 4 level up) - (34/100)
Location: City of Tears
Word Count: Less than 750

Having assassinated their noble target, Sectonia and Primrose made their way to the meeting point. Since they were already in the royal district, it wasn't that difficult to make their way there as the crowd of socialites dispersed, babbling about the crazy show they had seen of some backup dancer upstaging not only her lead, but the head of the club itself. Word would spread, but by the time it did, their goal should be complete if the other teams did their jobs. She supposed they'd see who was there and who wasn't when they reached the meeting point.

She noticed that the Koopa clan had a new follower, whom Nadia was giving pocket change for food. A rescued prisoner perhaps? Still, would they be staying or going was another question. "I take it your group was successful as well." Sectonia said, looking over the koopa group who were sent to get rid of Consul P's #2. Now to see if the rest of the groups had finished their missions and made their way here. Knowing the troop's proclivities, Sectonia said "I assume you have some things you would like crushed."

Once the rest of them had gotten there and everyone had gotten set up, it would soon be ready for the downfall of this region's ruler. Thinking about what would happen after Consul P, Sectonia mused. "With this city soon to be lacking a ruler, I should annex it. Things could only improve from there..." Either way, she kept an eye on their 'guide', as he was still an unknown and could possibly stab them in the back, much like what he was doing with Consul P. Although if he was on their side until the end, the city would need a familiar regent to run it while Sectonia went about dealing with the guardians...
Hidden 11 mos ago 11 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

Wordage: 933 words (+2 points)
Experience: 8/10 EXP
Location: Valley of Ruin ➡ Army of Ruin
Rust Crew's @Lugubrious, and Zenkichi's @Multi_Media_Man
An entire armies worth of metal soldiers marched slowly towards the lower city, where all the folk living in the shadows of Midgar spent their days scraping by any moment their homes and maybe even their lives would be forfeit, everything gone in the blink of an eye. They came in all shapes, and sizes though none as reminiscent to the form of beasts as the Primates back in the Valley of Ruin. Partitio wasn't no soldier, but when he saw the scrappy little engineer and his artificial Blade leap into action a fire burned in the chest of the Wild Stallion.

There wasn't no time to think, not when so many folks livelihoods were at stake so with a hoot and a holler the merchant beat his fist in the air cheering on his allies as both engineer and his metal maiden tore through not one but several bipedal and even four legged metal baddies. Partitio laughed heartily, before giving a sideways look to the sound of Marshall's gun clicking "How bout rustling up a spare one of your fancy hand cannons partner?" not that he didn't appreciate the fancy doodad he'd nabbed back in the city it just weren't no good against a machines metal hide, Partitio turned the nailgun over in his gloved hand still keeping the overlook in his peripheral in case a stray bullet decided to come his way if he could even anticipate that.

He'd already proven to them he was a capable man, hauling twice his weight of salvage to the trucks earlier with the goal in mind for the folk in the slums to get the medicine and clothing he'd found in the downed flying machine. So appealing to them shouldn't have been hard, they were in a darned war zone! He'd be deader than the ghost town back out in the valley if he was caught, he whistled appreciatively when he was handed a big looking gun, a rifle they said it seemed alien to him but he'd already figured as much that a trigger fired a round from these sort of things "Thankee kindly." the merchant armed with his fancy new rifle slung the gun over his shoulder by its strap and tipped his hat to Marshall and his gang.

"Ho there partner let's not stand here like sitting ducks, nows your time to cover me!" the merchant brandished his machine slaying spear with a little spin as he stepped towards the overlook, slapping the older man he fought with earlier on the back "How bout it? Let's give these metal bastards something to remember bout the folk down here in nowheresville!" he did not wait for an answer, hooting and hollering he leapt over the overlook and into the fray sliding down he could he heard shouting all kinds of anecdotes as he spun his machine spear striking a biped that came at him striking high as the merchant went low and struck a blow to its head causing a buzz of electricity to spark as it fell dead as a doorknob.

Metal scrap was everywhere, bashed and burnt, possibly everywhere in between from Tora and Poppi's onslaught, he couldn't take on as many as his allies but a brave and possibly foolish plan "Come on old timer!" bullets whizzed by bipedal and Goliaths alike stomped his way and yet he didn't show signs of fear, there were greater things at stake here, he took a deep breath and slipped the rifle from his shoulder and said a silent prayer to the Flame. He wasn't a good shot, heck he was shit but boy there was something electric about that moment. The gun rattled, loud as thunder as he pulled the trigger muzzle flashing as it loosed a volley of bullets raining hell it made the merchant laugh like a giddy little chickadee, it missed more than it hit but it packed a punch to the machines that were rushing him. He nearly got trampled by a four-legged robot in his moment of candor but it was exactly what he was hoping for, it looked big enough to be considered something like a horse but it didn't look like none.

A Goliath came swinging, the merchant barely ducking in time to evade a bone crunching punch. He used this momentum to take a leap off its leg joint, using all his strength to essentially pole vaulting as he planted his spear into its arm, it was a fools errand but damned was it glorious to behold as the stocky man cleared its arm and as it raised its giant joints he hopped as it carried him upwards dislodged his machine spear and carrying him over...

Right on target, his outstretched polearm drove into the neck of the four-legged robot that had nearly flattened him. His weapon had dug into its joints causing it to spark but it stood and bucked trying to knock him off but he was no stranger to the kind of ride this was about to be, Partitio held his hat and wrangled an arm around the things neck joint or wherever it's head was connected, he unintentionally moved the lodged spear and the damned thing moved! For a moment it stopped bucking and that was enough for the merchant to shift the spear to turn it towards the overlook almost rearing he looked something like a modern age cowboy "Get on mister! We got a whole boat load o' metal to scrap!" he waves his hat around as he directed the robot to rush towards the overlook so his ally could join him.

Small Biped x2, Medium Biped x1, Large Biped x1.
Hidden 11 mos ago Post by Scarifar
Avatar of Scarifar

Scarifar Presto~!

Member Seen 10 hrs ago

Location: Home of Tears
Level: 3
Experience: 46/30 (Level up available)
Word Count: <750 (+2 EXP)
@Archmage MC@Double

Rubick eventually met back up with Ganondorf, and he was quick to boast of his victories in the Thorn. Holding up his winnings, Rubick proudly continued on, "...and a Fade Bolt to finish him off. Your dark magic really aided me in my victory." Rubick would've continued further, but a familiar face came forward with her usual cat puns. "Ahh, hello, Nadia!" Rubick greeted her. "A shame we missed the fun, but we had a need to acquire some funds!" He held up his bag of Geo to show her. "I spied a few components in the magic emporium I need to craft my father's scepter. The Aghanim's Scepter, it is called. It will increase the strength of my abilities, and possibly any I copy from the others as well. Now, the shops await!" With that explanation out of the way, Rubick then pulled out his Blink Dagger and blinked away, quickly making his way into the emporium.

Rubick browsed the shop's wares. It was easy enough to find what he was looking for, but it turned out that Rubick still lacked the necessary amount of Geo needed to afford them all. Disappointed, Rubick sighed and made his way back out. Rubick would've liked to get more Geo, but he doubted he had the time or stamina to go through more rounds in the Thorn. He would have to locate funds somewhere else.

Reconvening with the rest of the Seekers at the gates, Rubick looked around, wondering who might have enough to borrow from. His eyes eventually landed on Sectonia and the Koopa Troop. Surely they, being royalty, had enough funds to borrow from. He decided to try his luck with the bug queen first. Making his way over to Sectonia, he greeted her, "Hello there, Queen Sectonia! I was wondering if you would be so kind as to grant me a small amount of Geo. You see, there are a number of components in a magic emporium in this city I need to purchase. With them, I aim to craft the Aghanim's Scepter, which will boost my powers immensely. What do you say?"
Hidden 11 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 1 day ago

Geralt of Rivia

Midgar- Seiran, Abandoned Subway- Infinite Corridor

Lvl 9 (196/90) -> (197/90)

Word Count: 386 words

Geralt grunted once he realized that his crossbow wasn't going to manage to land any hits on the flying camera, the intense speeds they were moving at more than he was used to working with. After a good few shots completely failed to land and it became obvious none would, he switched tactics, drawing his silver sword and working to keep the Pounds off the few who could do anything to the damn thing. Aard was particularly useful here, though Quen kept him from the worst of the damage if he didn't manage to shove or blast any away in time and had to tank an explosion. It still hurt, but far, far less through the protective shield.

The signs were a pain to deal with, but with his attention less focused on a single object, Geralt was easily capable of reacting in time and getting out of harm's way. As time went on, they managed to chip away at the eldritch object, though it felt like Goldlewis was doing a lot of the heavy lifting there (literally and figuratively, with that damn coffin).

That, however, triggered a change in their situation. As the Session Pounds ceased appearing, they were replaced by something equally strange, but...different in a way that was hard to put his finger on. As the creepy creatures raced up to their lifts and began shaking them to pull them off-track, Geralt cursed and steadied himself, turning to the thing and snarling. Midna's creature had nearly been taken out by that oppressively bright light and...something happening, though it took Midna's callout for Geralt to realize what it was- that light was suppressing its Spirit Fusion abilities. As more of the things appeared to attack their lifts, Geralt cursed and moved into the light, sighing as his mind felt a little clearer. Hmm. That boded poorly.

Ignoring that ill omen for now, the Witcher hefted his sword and began his assault, casting Igni to scorch the Cleansers hands and following up with a cut as it tried to punch at him, drawing blood and a pained cry. "Doesn't feel good, does it?" He taunted, hacking away at and fighting the thing, before being forced to disengage and leap to another lift when a sign nearly wiped him out. "Dammit! Just...gotta keep them busy!"

Zenkichi Hasegawa

Valley of Ruin

Lvl 2 (9/20) -> Lvl 2 (11/20)

Word Count: 871 words

Thankfully, with the quick actions of Roxas and Pit, who flew- one literally and the other only mostly figuratively- Susie managed to make some distance from the robots she'd engaged, and the trio quickly beat a hasty retreat and rejoined the main group. Zenkichi didn't have anything to say, as Giovanna had more than made her point clear earlier, and frankly it wasn't his job to tell anybody what to do. Besides, right now? They had bigger fish to fry.

As they all gathered around the salvage truck, Zenkichi's eyes narrowed when the Tallneck started approaching. He knew Tora was a good hacker, based on how he overrode the trucks' autopilots, but that thing? He was wary, waiting for the inevitable kicking rampage, but...it just stood there. Until Tora's little wings popped up in their vision and his voiced carried over. "Hahahaha, no thank you!" Zenkichi called back, getting in the truck before anybody else had any bright ideas about stealing a spot from him. The kids could get on that deathtrap, bunch of adrenaline junkies he knew they could be. Not him, no way, he was taking the truck even if he had to drive it himself.

That thing was pretty fast, too, so Zenkichi was definitely glad at his choice to not board it. No way, screw that. The bad news was that they were almost too late. Midgar loomed nearby, as the truck and Tallneck stopped atop a hill overlooking the road leading to its entrance.

"Wow, that is...really bad." Zenkichi summarized as he looked down upon the thousand-strong army of Machines marching on Midgar. They came in all sorts of shapes and sizes, some fairly humanoid, some a twisted mockery of the human form. Shaking his head at Poppi's estimation and Giovanna's quick math, he steeled his resolve. A hundred machines. He could do that. He and the rest of the Phantom Thieves routinely dealt with hordes of Shadows in the Jails, especially when they had to protect Oracle.

The other Seekers began making their preparations, Partitio getting a rifle from the Rust Crew, Poppi changing into a more defensively-oriented configuration, Susie getting in her suit and providing long-ranged artillery, and Zenkichi taking a slow, deep breath as Partitio gave him a hearty slap on the back and an offer to co-operate. Though, it seemed like the merchant was already pretty damn hyped up, as he didn't even wait for an answer before sliding down the hill, hooting and hollering like a man possessed. Zenkichi just shook his head, letting the persona of Wolf out.

"Valjean! Let's do this!" He cried, leaping into the fray, chasing Partitio down and cutting a machine straight down the middle that thought it had an easy target. "These bones may not be as young as they once were, but I've got plenty of life left in me!" He called to the merchant, drawing one of his revolvers and blasting a machine that was coming close, knocking it off balance for a clean sweep of his greatsword, severing it in half. "Valjean, Rakukaja!" He cried, pointing at Partitio. The merchant could feel, just for a little while, a little sturdier in that armor of his, as Wolf went to work carving through the horde in front of them.

As he fought through the machines, giving a helluva lot harder than he got and regaining a little bit of lost vitality for every hit, Partitio managed to pull off a gambit that he never would have expected to work, mounting one of the quadrupedal machines like a horse and bringing it on by for Wolf to climb on board. "Alright then!" He simply replied, taking a mighty leap and landing atop the mechanical steed, revolvers flashing out as he stowed his greatsword, bullets flying and knocking out a few of the smaller flying machines rather quickly. Reloading from atop the slightly safer spot their mount gave them, Wolf looked out over the battlefield. Explosions, elemental energy, Tora and Poppi's Master and Blade onslaught, and the Rust Crew's gunfire ripped through machines, and he took a deep breath.

"Valjean! Megido!" He cried, swirling orbs of Almighty energy appearing among the Machines before exploding, scrapping a few bipeds and damaging a large biped that was nearby them, to which he followed up with a fusillade of gunfire, cracking and destroying its head, causing the Machine to collapse, defeated. "I'll hunt you down!" He yelled in challenge to the other machines, dumping both revolvers into the horde, taking down another couple of bipeds and catching the attention of a Goliath. "Incoming! He called to Partitio as it approached, quickly stashing his guns and drawing his sword, hefting it to block the swing of its giant arm. Their quadruped stumbled, but Wolf roared, forcing all he could into the block, pushing against the Goliath's strength, and won out in the end, even if his arms were aching like hell.

"Get us away from that thing!" He called to Partitio, pointing at the Goliath, which had stopped and was belching out crackling balls of slow-moving energy towards them. "Don't wanna know how much those hurt!"

Count- 8 small fliers, 4 medium fliers, 26 medium bipeds, 5 large bipeds. Total: 43 machines defeated.
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