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Midgar - Sector 07 Slums

Giovanna, @Yankee, Susie’s @Archmage MC, Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man, Partitio’s @Dark Cloud, Pit’s @Yankee

After the news about Peach on top of what happened with Poppi, the mood among the Seekers was grim just about to the point of being disastrous. Zenkichi only felt more morose, probably finding a way to blame himself. Even Pit couldn’t offer words of encouragement this time. Susie, if she cared, said nothing. Roxas had gone off by himself to wander, and Giovanna doubted she could’ve stopped him even if she tried. With him out of the picture, Bo taken away to recuperate at the nearest clinic, and Tora unresponsive, things felt pretty bleak between the five who remained. The secret agent waited in deadpan silence until she received her drink. This is exactly why I’m not a leader, she thought. Managing people and morale is just too much work.

Fortunately, in the course of the morning’s ill-fated expedition, the Seekers had picked up someone who made it his life’s mission to lift others out of whatever hopeless depths they found themselves in, whether emotional or financial. When Partitio spoke up, trying to rouse the glum heroes’ spirits, Giovanna flashed him a grateful smile. Even if he sounded cheesy, he wore his heart on his sleeve. Though it felt kind of like a eulogy for someone nobody wanted to believe was dead, she joined in Partitio’s toast, and took a good long drink from her glass. For better or worse, this man was the genuine article, and if he planned to join the Seekers for the long haul she wouldn’t say no. A never-say-die attitude was just what the team needed right now.

Of course, more than anything they needed to get their minds off the day’s losses. Rather than be allowed to wallow in their misery and sink even deeper, they needed something to do. As long as these hero-types could see the light at the end of the tunnel and strive for a happy ending, they could probably forge onward. With that in mind, she excused herself after finishing her drink, and made another glyph call. She called up Goldlewis with low expectations, only to receive a one-two punch of critical information out of the blue. It hadn’t been half an hour since their last conversation, but as it turned out, a lot could change in a short amount of time. And this time, it had changed for the better.

After a couple minutes she returned to the others, a sense of purpose in her stride. “The situation has changed,” she announced, carefully lifting up Tora. Roxas was back, which was good. Simplified things a little. “We’re heading topside. We’ve got an appointment in the City of Glass.”

“City of Glass?” the Nopon asked suddenly. “As in high tech city of super-richypons where androids get made?”

Giovanna nodded. “That’s the one. We’re meeting Goldlewis and the others there, so let’s get a move on. We don’t wanna be late.”

Midgar - Sector 05 Seiran Hideout

Level 4 Goldlewis (61/40)
Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Karin and Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate’s @Archmage MC, Geralt @Multi_Media_Man, Raz’s @Truthhurts22, Benedict’s @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 1717

Perhaps unsurprisingly, none of the others could really offer an answer to the question posed by Goldlewis. Despite all they’d been through, they were still very new to Midgar in the greater scheme of things, and the city -practically a nation unto itself- was both overwhelmingly vast and complex. When it came to the Seekers’ quest for answers, the needle-in-a-haystack similes wrote themselves. Still, the events of last night and this morning offered a couple clues, and where to go next was a question predicated on what the heroes wanted to do, so Goldlewis cast his mind over everything they’d learned in an effort to put any twos that had fallen through the cracks together.

Before he could get anywhere, a couple more guests crashed the Seekers’ party, but at least these new arrivals were welcome faces and eagerly anticipated. “There y’are!” Goldlewis exclaimed the moment Midna and Raz arrived from the princess’s portal. Normally he’d be madder than a wet hen that two teammates had hurtled off into dangerous, uncharted territory with neither plan in mind nor means of communication, but for the time being he decided to count his blessings. “I ain’t about to say you’re a sight for sore eyes, but we missed you somethin’ fierce. Where in sam hill did y’all run off to?”

Both of them could scarcely wait to spill the beans, and what beans they were. What they’d listened in on in that truck helped fill in some serious gaps left in the Seekers' understanding by the rapid-fire turn of events back in the underground nexus. The troopers’ candid conversation revealed that the entire operation -ordered, planned, and carried out in such a short span of time- hadn’t just been a PR stunt to boost Shinra’s approval ratings during election season, but a method of suppressing internal dissent, as ruthless as it had been efficient. Icing real Others had only been icing on the cake when it came to neutering the rebellious Seiran Garrison. By now almost everyone had heard rumors about the lasting contention between the upper and lower halves of Sector 05, but this turn of events escalated the conflict higher than Goldlewis could have ever guessed. “Sweet mother o’ pearl,” he murmured. “This is gonna get ugly. Travers, you damn fool, if you’re on the side o’ justice why’d ya have to waste time talkin’ riddles?”

After a little thinking he cleared his throat. “I was just about to recap what we know, so y’all dropped in at just the right time. Let’s add all that to the mix and go over everythin’ real quick.”

“So,” he began, his arms crossed and his brows knitted together in thought. “Since yesterday, we done tangled with all three parts of the Ever Crisis between our two groups. The Others, the Chimeras, and the Machines. We also ran into all three branches of Midgar’s defenses, that bein’ Psych-OSF, DespoRHado, and Neuron. To stop the Ever Crisis, we gotta figure out what’s causin’ it, and why the people here ain’t able to turn the tides.”

He held up one finger. “First, the Chimeras. Simple enough, they come from the Astral Plane, another dimension fulla all kinds of strange matter. Gates can open anywhere, and once they are, red matter starts corruptin’ everythin’ in its path, like we saw with them awful Aberrations. The Chimeras are the main problem, ‘cause spread a shitton o’ red matter with their attacks, and abduct poor folks back to the Astral Plane, where they turn even faster. Neuron fights back usin’ Legions, which’re Chimeras they somehow turned to their side.” He sighed. “Doesn’t seem like there’s any concrete way to stop the Gates openin’. But maybe Neuron knows more.”

Goldlewis held up another finger. “Second, the Machines. Buildin’ huge armies out in the Valley of Ruin from their hidden factories, they invade Midgar in a more conventional sense, relyin’ on firepower and sheer numbers. Now we know they got a virus o’ some kind that can turn our machines against us. But that don’t make sense, ‘cause DespoRHado uses nothin’ but cyborgs and androids to fight ‘em. Makes a man wonder…how’d the hell they get some kinda immunity? Did someone at DespoRHado crack the code?”

Finally, he held up finger number three. “Lastly, the Others. Well, we already went over how they come from the Extinction Belt, but now we know humans can be metamorphosed into ‘em too. Not just that, but it’s Psych-OSF that’s doin’ it, or…at least a small part, anyway. I wouldn’t guess most of the soldiers know about it, just those in the scoutin’ team the rebels mentioned and whoever’s callin’ the shots. Which normally would be the top brass, but we met the top brass and he ain’t havin’ none of it, which leaves the people even higher up the chain.” He frowned deeply. “Grand Head Zanotto, PubSec boss Konoe, and Shinra himself.”

He stroked his beard. “I dunno ‘bout y’all, but I’m startin’ to see a pattern. All three ‘kinds’ can turn people or robots into monsters, or at least make ‘em lose their minds. And all three ‘branches’ seem like they have somethin’ deeper to do with their respective ‘kinds’ than just fightin’ ‘em. Its almost like they’re all usin’ their enemies against ‘em, or against other people. Maybe I’m just spoutin’ out nonsense, but….ya gotta wonder. Is the ‘source’ that Organization mentioned out in the Valley? Or…” He stared through the hideout's window.

Soon enough Goldlewis got another call. It hadn’t been long, but he had a lot to catch Giovanna up on, and when the two put their heads together they came up with a plan. When Goldlewis returned to the others from the other half of the hideout, he seemed more animated than before. “Listen up, folks. It’s time to hit the road. In case y’all don’t remember, Sector 06 is the City of Glass, the most restricted sector in the whole doggone city. Home to titanic corporations like Memorize, CyberLife, and Vandelay. And Dendenmille Showcase Theater, which ain’t just where tonight’s debate is, but also smack-dab in the middle of Vandelay’s campus. Giovanna said Tora’s highly suspect o’ CyberLife on account o’ their tech, and since we’re headed there anyway, might as well use the extra time to get as close a look as we can.” Grabbing his coffin, Goldlewis pulled open the hideout’s door. “So let’s mosey.”

Midgar - Sector 06 Hublink

The two halves of Black Team set out at approximately the same time, Goldlewis and his crew up from Seiran to Suoh and then along the same path they’d taken out of Sector 05 last night, while Giovanna’s retraced its steps up to the Sector 07 Plate and toward the same destination from the opposite direction. While the journey took a few hours, it could’ve been a lot worse; maintenance and law enforcement had evidently moved at breakneck pace since last night, either repairing or rerouting around a lot of the Chimera-induced damage to keep Midgar’s interplate traffic flowing. Thanks to a call put into the SOU headquarters, the team’s tech consultant Mr. H was not only able to forge a fresh GridLink for Partitio to ensure his safe passage, but also update those of Sakura and Raz to make sure their identities reflected their new status as Psych-OSF soldiers. With no major issues at security checkpoints, the two halves both succeeded in ascending from undercity to plate, then traveling from their respective plates’ hubs to Sector 06’s via hub tunnel, all by bus. It was only when they both reached the Sector 06 Hublink that things got difficult.

The City of Glass did not permit traffic from outside–of any kind. It all came to a stop at the Hublink, a sparkling, airport-like travel nexus of polished white floors and glittering glass domes. Past the parking garages and renting lots for commuter vehicles, and the pickup and dropoff lanes for public transport, lay the semicircular superstructure.

Before dealing with anything else, the two halves of the team met with something of critical importance: one another. Goldlewis, Giovanna, Blazermate, Susie, Geralt, Zenkichi, Sakura, Karin, Pit, Roxas, Benedict, Partitio, Tora, and Raz all met in the vast open space of the HubLink’s atrium, dappled in myriad colors refracted through the magnificent, towering glass sculptures that stood around the spotless tile like museum pieces. Given the circumstances there wasn’t as much rejoicing as one might expect from a grand reunion, but it was good to see everyone else again, even if it highlighted the two who weren’t here. Anticipating a better working environment, Tora had dried his tears and stowed his equipment in his toolbox. Without the Drill Shield, Mech Arms, or Variable Saber on his person the Nopon looked almost naked. Only his hammer remained; though their hearts went out to him, both SOU members knew that the team’s best tank wasn’t fit for combat.

That led straight into the matter at hand. On the other side of the atrium from the transport hub lay a massive security checkpoint. An extravagant, almost needless abundance of Cyberlife robots could be found throughout the place, and not the humanoid service androids popular throughout Midgar, either. SBR, GNR, and AIR-1N units were the most common, but there were also a number of ES-101s and hulking BA-B00s. Over all of them stood an impressively well-armed duo: the mighty pairing of HG-0M and HG-0G. That was a problem for one simple reason: so far the team’s forged GridLinks had worked a treat, but the buck stopped here.

“We got enough press passes to see six of us through,” Goldlewis explained, well out of earshot of security. “But that leaves eight of us left over, and the GridLinks we got ain’t gonna cut it with real security like this. so we’re gonna have to get clever. No causin’ any big scenes and gettin’ us in trouble, y’hear?”

Home of Tears - Terminal Cafe

Level 10 Nadia (201/100)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Ganondorf’s @Double, Rubick’s @Scarifar, Ichiban’s @Truthhurts22, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 1998

Like all of Nadia’s spur-of-the-moment harebrained ideas, or at least a majority of them, her scheme to get the Koopa Troop’s attention went off flawlessly. Oh, and Sectonia was here, too! With the big bug in tow, the curious quartet began to make their way into the Terminal, and they soon queued up at the main counter to place their drink orders. It wasn’t just coffee and snacks on offer, though, and Junior’s curiosity drove him down a detour that involved petitioning the help of one of the cafe’s skeletal customers. Rika, meanwhile, couldn’t help but take in the unique, cozy atmosphere of the latest stop on her journey of non-stop wonders, going strong ever since her defection from the Abyssal Fleet opened her eyes to the world beyond the waves.

Between the two of them, and Bowser requiring some shrinkage, it would be a couple moments before the new arrivals joined Nadia and Primrose at the table, but she didn’t mind. With its cozy atmosphere, the soothing ambiance, and plenty of good company readily available, this place invited all its patrons to take their time. Nobody could stay at the Terminal forever, but it was a lovely place for people to linger as long as they could. In fact, many of the people here seemed reluctant to move on, grasping for every second as they wished that ‘now’ could last forever. As she nibbled her last scone, Nadia thought about what Primrose said before. Isn’t this who we are, now? Everyone changes… It wasn’t just reassuring; it was true. None of the changes she’d gone through so far felt a fraction as drastic as those that befell her on that fateful night. And yet, even after all that, she’d still been the same Nadia deep down. Hopefully nothing in this world could change that, either. Compulsively she tried to brush back the hair that now lay across her left eye, but it stubbornly slid back into place.

Soon enough the Koopas arrived, starting with Rika, and the girl did not hesitate to tell the team all about her misadventures in Crumble Caverns. Hearing her describe an entire underground biome of cheese left Nadia slack-jawed for a moment. “You’re kitten me. That’s crazy! I’ve gotta go see that sometime.” A toothy grin spread across her face. “Fair warnin’ though, once I do it’s open season on cheese puns for, like, ever. You cheddar brie-lieve it!”

Rika’s comments on jobs also got an approving nod. “Yeah, exactly! Why bother earnin’ anythin’ for yourself when you can just steal from someone else?” The lack of sarcasm in her voice made it that much harder to tell if Nadia was joking.

The conversation shifted toward the journey yet to come, and what the new information everyone now possessed meant for it. Nadia didn’t particularly care to contemplate the whole subject of Lifelight and how it related to the Flame Clocks, since it hadn’t seemed relevant to the Seekers’ campaign up until now, but the way the others described it reminded her of something from her not-so-pleasant at the Sanitarium. “This Clock thing almost sounds like those weird bags they had at the hospital,” she mused. “When you’re hooked up to one, it pumps ya fulla blood and stuff ya need to live, but the bag needs someone else’s blood to fill it. Then once you’re taken off it, you’re good all on your own.” She shrugged and popped the last bit of her scone in, then talked with her mouth full. “Course, my blood jusht refills itshelf, sho what do I know.” She washed the crumbs down with a drink of coffee, wondering about the implications of the demise Sectonia attributed to P. Dying without even leaving a spirit sounded kind of terrifying. Like a final death.

As the conversation continued, Rika suggested going deeper into Crumble Cavern. That suited Nadia just fine; both of her brain cells were already working overtime on cheese puns. Kamek, however, suggested staying in for the night. “Huh? You wanna be done for the day?” Looking bemused, Nadia reached a hand around to scratch her back. “I mean, I get wantin’ to sell your stuff off and all, but it ain’t even dinnertime. The night’s still young! Can people even sit still that long?” The hair brushing her cheek tickled a little, but when she tried blowing it away it settled right back down into place. “I sure can’t,” she continued. “Just call me a me-owl, ‘cause I’m always up at night!”

She found herself looking at the map while the others talked about selling things, and after a little more studying her eyebrows suddenly shot up. “Oh, hey! Sectonia, you said you’re looking for a king or somethin’, right? Well, lookie here!” She tapped a spot in the corner of the map of the Home of Tears: King’s Station. “It’s your lucky day! Why not just go there?” Unfortunately, it really seemed like she wasn’t joking this time.

At some point Therion had arrived, his natural stealthiness helping him blend in until he helped himself to baked goods and started making suggestions. He mentioned a previous train ride he’d taken alongside Jesse and Raz and the place it deposited them in the Under, which according to the map seemed nearby. Heading there sounded about as sensible as any other suggestions thus far. Nadia just wanted to get a move on from the Home of Tears before the rain started wearing out its welcome. “Might be nice to go somewhere dry for a change,” she piped up.

Her ears swiveled at the sound of well shod footfalls, and Nadia turned to see Ichiban a moment before he asked his first question, which left her a little confused. They were drinking coffee, reading maps, and chatting, what else? The broader scope of his question quickly became apparent, though. She shifted her chair to make room for him at the table, mulling over his words. Honestly, she felt pretty inclined to brush it all off as the typical disorientation that followed someone’s ‘awakening’, and his usage of unfamiliar jargon didn’t help his case. “I dunno what some of those things you mentioned are,” she admitted. “Things are bound to be confusin’ though. Given just how many worlds got caught up in this mess, coincidences are gonna happen sometimes, right?” Shrugging, she leaned back in her chair. “Heck, when I first saw Limsa, I thought for sure it was Little Innsmouth. That’s where I’m from,” she added proudly. In regards to Primrose’s question, she very much did not want to explain things to Ichiban. Someone else could do it, probably Kamek. Old guys love explainin’ stuff, she reasoned.

Rubick showed up, followed shortly by an unfamiliar knight whose acquaintance the magician had evidently made. “Oh hey…you!” Nadia greeted him. This table wasn’t nearly big enough for everyone, and the group was beginning to attract attention.

Well, so far the party ten had neither reached a consensus nor fallen in line after someone’s insistence, so the team stood at an impasse. Plus, even if they did make a decision, that still left a number of team members in the dark. Jesse, Ganondorf, and Omori weren’t here, and Nadia didn’t have the slightest idea where the boy might be. Whether he intentionally left the others or just got lost was anyone’s guess, too. “Ever since we fell down here we’ve been gettin’ separated nonstop,” she thought aloud. “I mean, did anyone even see where that ‘Adventurer’ guy went? It’s a miracle we all made it to the city to begin with.” After looking down at her nearly-empty cup, she sighed and downed the rest of her coffee. Then the feral stood up. “Well, if you guys are plannin’ to stick around here sellin’ loot and whatnot, I’m gonna go stretch my legs.” Stretching one arm and then the other, she grinned at Sectonia. “I’ll go check out King’s Station and see if I can find one to rule this place for ya. If I do, it’ll be a ‘crowning’ achievement, right? Nyahaha~” With that, she folded up her map, pulled her hood up to shield against the rain, and went to leave, waving goodbye as she did. If anyone wanted to come with, she certainly wouldn’t object. “Smell ya later!”

Luckily, the map put King’s Station directly adjacent to the Downtown district of the Home of Tears, so it wasn’t a long journey, especially by water. After heading to the waterside Nadia airdashed to and commandeered one of the city’s many self-piloted giant paper sailboats on its circuitous journey from Fountain Central to the station landing and back again. Once back on terra firma, Nadia did not hesitate to step inside, though the first impression she got of the place once in left her a little let down.

Contrary to its name and perceived prestige, King’s Station looked pretty derelict. Threadbare banners hung in tatters over a rubble-strewn floor with entire sections of it torn up and the earth beneath clearly visible. A once-austere wrought-iron bench lay broken in half, and the station’s lower sections were filled with water. In front of the closest flooded track, a brass bell rested at the foot of the post it once hung from. Nadia crouched down to lift it up in hopes of putting it back, but she found it cracked and useless, so she discarded it again just as quickly. “What a dump,” she muttered. “No way any kings are hangin’ out in a place like this.”

Unless they were waiting deeper in. Something about this place told Nadia that there was more to it than met the eye. She stood and jumped over the flooded track, heading further into the decrepit station. All around hung tablets scrawled with arcane-looking white runes, and the echoes of dripping water resounded through the pitch-black tunnels. If not for her experience in the Soul Sanctum, she would have found this place pretty creepy. After another minute or two of exploring, she hit a dead end in a pretty big room full of all kinds of crabs. Mud crab, king crab, even a magic crab. At one point Nadia almost got nipped by a statue that turned out to be a Rock Lobster. On the other side of one last channel lay a large, important-looking doorway labeled ‘B’ by a nearby sign, the way tightly shut by interlocking metal bars. Even if she detached all her parts, Nadia didn’t think she could wriggle her torso underneath or between them.

It intrigued her less than its surroundings, though. Unlike the other flooded channels that ran through this place, the one here seemed deliberate. It not only featured a stalled waterwheel with a dry channel poised above it, but flowed at an appreciably fast pace toward the right side of the room, where it then proceeded into what looked like a pitch-black abyss. A sign there read ‘Danger - bottomless pit’, which earned a scoff from Nadia. “No such thing as bottomless,” she snarked. The Bottomless Sea sure hadn’t been, what with all the rocks and even an island that she’d seen rising from it. Upon further inspection, the flow of the water seemed to be blocked. With furrowed brows, Nadia scratched her chin. “This seems like a puzzle,” she mused, her tails swishing restlessly. There had to be something good in here to go to all this trouble for it. A king’s ransom, perhaps? Enticed by the prospect of riches, she set about trying to figure the puzzle out.

∞ Activity

By just about anyone’s account, it was a stunningly beautiful day. The sun smiled down across the countryside, its radiant rays of light bathing it in a pleasant warmness perfect for dozing, yet a refreshing breeze blew through the leafy boughs and rolled across the grassy plains. While stormclouds churned far to the north, casting the regions west of the Sandswept Sky’s border mountains in a heavy rain shadow, the sky over the Land of Adventure couldn’t be more blue. But the land that sprawled out beneath it was not the same as yesterday’s. Gone were the bountiful fields of gold that surrounded Morgensloft farm, the lake of Pelagics where the Watertop Land of Fantastication floated, the forest temple with its baffling puzzles, the gorgeous-yet-alien Coral Highland, and the blighted pastures of the Ancestral Farmhead. The Hamlet, with its amicable porcine population, never stood a chance. Even Lumbridge, robbed of the World Anchor that sustained it for so long, was no more. Only Haven remained, its own World Anchors left untouched by its ruler. Other than that, the past -the very land itself- had been scrubbed away.

And yet, that was only the beginning of the loss that today had seen.

For Alcamoth’s survivors, not even a stunningly beautiful day could lift their spirits. Only the fact that some survived gave them solace–yet the guilt that haunted them, like vengeful spirits left behind by the dead, hurt some of them worse than death. Still, the fact that they still lived endowed them with a responsibility. If the Consuls believed that all of Alcamoth’s people had been destroyed alongside it, they were off their enemies’ radar. Though Smash City’s desperate struggle had ended in catastrophic loss, their sacrifice bought the survivors some time. Time enough, hopefully, for a new beginning. Within one week, before the Land of Adventure re-generated again, they would need to find a new foothold in this new, different country.

And how different it was. Rivers cut through the landscape like the strokes of an artist’s brush, dividing in into chunks, and only some even remotely resembled the rich green countryside of yesterday. Vast sections of the region appeared to be woven from wool, yarn, and canvas, including their foliage and many of their inhabitants. On their trek west from the button-speckled wood on the central island where the teleporter left them, the survivors stepped over a rich two-dimensional tapestry of life knitted into the ground itself. Its two-dimensional denizens went about their business with one another as if they didn’t even notice the survivors ‘above’ them, traipsing around in a dimension beyond their ken. By the same token, though, tearing into and altering their fabric of reality was so easy that some of the travelers did it accidentally. Quickly and carefully they hurried on their way, journeying southwest over taffeta tropics, felt fields, textile tech, and tweed treats. At great length, however, the cloth landscape gave way to ordinary dirt, grass, wood, and rock. There the trek finally stopped, at a city lodged in the mountains: Markarth, the City of Stone.

Upon arrival, the survivors dispersed through the city, looking for food, lodging, or just a place to rest. Despite their fatigue and misery, Vandham urged each and every one to be on their guard. Far removed from Alcamoth’s resting place Markarth might be, but at the end of the day, it was all still the Consuls’ domain. Then, rather than follow the others into town, he seated himself in the shade of a leafy tree on a cliffside overlook, next to the man who’d saved his life.

“I really am grateful, y’know,” he began after a few moments in his characteristic Australian accent. “I thought ya robbed me, at first. Of my chance to make a difference. I was ready to sacrifice myself, thinkin’ that if I could save even a single life by layin’ down my own, it’d be worth it. It woulda been a ‘elluva lot easier than dealin’ with the grief, and pickin’ up the pieces, heh, ‘specially knowin’ ‘ow cruel this ‘ere World o’ Light really is. But I thought about it long’n ‘ard ‘bout it on the way ‘ere. The Seekers are still out there fightin’. As long as there’s a chance we can set things right, I’m gonna keep fightin’ too, and I en’t gonna throw my life away just to go out like a ‘ero’.” He held out a fist to his savior. “So. Thanks, mate.”

After a moment, the other man bumped his fist, but his face was anything but happy. “I scarce deserve your thanks,” he said, his Indian accent thick with anguish. “Twas my folly that helped bring about this tragedy in the first place. My regrets, my sins…they weigh upon my soul, heavy as the mountains old, more numerous than autumn leaves. I’ve turned a blind eye to it all for so long, the depravity and injustice. How far I have fallen from those glorious elden days, before I resided in the now.”

Vandham put a reassuring hand on the shoulder of the man’s grape-purple suit jacket. “I can’t say I understand your situation,” he told him, “And I en’t gonna pry. But I do know we all make mistakes. Long as your ‘eart’s in the right place, you can work to make it right. I sure ‘hope ya do too, ‘cause we could really use more o’ that ludicrous ‘ealin’ goin’ forward.”

The healer gave a wry smile. “A stouthearted sentiment, Vandham. One worthy of a hero, and a mentor. I can see why you meant so very much to him.” After adjusting his gray tie, he stood to his feet.

“Him? Y’mean Rex?” Vandham raised an eyebrow. “Oi, where you goin’? You en’t leavin’, surely?”

“Hm? Oh, no.” The healer shook his head. “I thought only that I might better acquaint myself with this place. We have much and more to do, and time is not on our side.”

Vandham left to check in on the others, and the healer descended to the bottom level of Markarth, observing everything that he could. As with every location in the World of Light, this city existed as a fused-together mishmash of shapes and ideas from various worlds. Its unifying theme appeared to be medieval fantasy, which suited him just fine. There were humans, beastmen, dwarves, and even elves, so with his own long ears the man fit right in. He passed by a row of grocers with various unusual wares, from vegetables like the Humming Cabbage, Razzle Basil, and Juicy Steakplant to fruits like the Heart Peach, Spicy Banana, and Dance Apple. Were it a better day the sight of cube-shaped strawberries and upside-down upgrapes -not to mention the fuzzy pink Nopon selling them- might have brought him a smile, but he soon moved on. Fresh meat sourced by a local hunting party could be found at the butcher stall of surly Hogni Red-Arm, and Blurberry’s Bar dispensed all sorts of gnomish grog, but the healer passed them by. The city’s elaborate, almost ceremonious forge, recessed into a mountain where it could utilize both molten-hot lava and snowmelt water, caught his eye for but a moment, and he didn’t bother to look into the tailor–he knew he’d never replace his purple suit. He only lingered at the ‘Petpet Shop’, where a variety of heart-achingly cute little critters caught his eye. It made him miss his Opo Opo. Soon enough, though, he found himself at the riverside.

He stood there a short while, just breathing in the crisp highland air as he tried to clear his head, until he happened to catch a whiff of a tantalizing smell. A jolt of nostalgia hit him like a Landslide to the face, and appropriately enough it nearly sent him tumbling over the river’s edge. He managed to catch himself in time, however, and after a moment he tentatively sampled the breeze. “No…surely not…” But after a second sniff there was no mistaking it. The healer took off at a run, sprinting along the riverside past confused and startled Markarth citizens. In just a few moments he arrived, his mouth ajar as he took in a hauntingly familiar sight. It was an outdoor restaurant situated on a raised wooden platform by the crystal clear pond where the Markarth’s two rivers joined together before spilling out through the sluice beneath the city walls. Above it stood a very high trellis, with patterned rugs stretched across their lengths, as well as hanging brass planters and lanterns. With square tables and stools beneath all the dangling plants and such, it gave off a rather naturalistic and outdoorsy touch, perhaps befitting a garden luncheon on some noble’s grandiose estate. The healer ran a gloved hand over his slicked-back, dark-brown hair, breathing slowly despite the rapid beat of his heart. “Even if it is,” he reasoned, “Surely it cannot be the same…”

No harm in trying, though. He seated himself at a vacant corner table and perused the menu. Some of the dishes on offer he didn’t recognize, but he quickly locked in on one item in particular, and he knew in that instant he could accept no alternative. When the waitress arrived, she found the classy-looking gentleman practically tripping over his own tongue as he tried to place his order, apparently from excitement, though he quickly simmered down once he stopped to remind himself of the circumstances that brought him here. Still…even if this came about as the result of random chance, it felt like fate. His first order did not take long to prepare, and after just a moment the waitress placed his plate down before him. For a few moments, the healer just stared, moving only to wipe his glasses as they began to fog up. There they were, in all their shiny, purple, angular glory: crystal grapes. Carefully he slipped off his black gloves, raised the polyhedron to his lips, and took a bite. Sweet. Juicy. Tart. Like grapes, but crystalline in shape. Every bit as good as he remembered them. “Ohh,” he sighed, his brows upturned above closed eyes. “How I’ve missed you, silly grapes.” He took another big bite and relished every bit of it, flavor and texture alike. “Truly, absence makes the heart grow…”

The moment he opened his eyes, he’d frozen, still as a statue. He’d locked eyes with a woman a table away, who’d just sat down herself. She had short white hair with point cat-ears, blue eyes, tan skin, and red streaks on her cheeks. Her garb was a modest affair for her world, though still complex by conventional standards for a white jacket and blue pants. She even had that stupid twig at her waist. No. Not again. In contrast to the man’s utter shock, this woman seemed amused by his reaction, raising an eyebrow with a smile. After a moment, the healer realized he’d accidentally dropped his grapes into his lap.

“Godsdamn,” he muttered, quickly placing the food back on its plate before dabbing at his pants with a napkin. When he looked up again, he got another shock, for the woman he’d seen before now sat directly opposite him. “Ah! Oh, goodness. Er, my apologies, madam.”

“Are you quite alright?” she asked, her lovely English voice playful. “You looked at me as though you’d seen a ghost. Or is it love at first sight, perchance?”

Swallowing, the healer instinctively worried at his soul patch, clearly uncomfortable. His dark eyes were “Forgive me. You just so happened to remind me of…of someone I used to know.”

“Ah, a classic,” the catgirl smiled, though after a moment she tilted her head. With a slight squint she rested her head on her hand. “You know, though…there is something oddly familiar about you. Are you sure we haven’t met before, mister…?”

A tense second passed. Though it pained him profoundly, the healer shook his head. “I…think not, madam. Loathe though I am to admit it!” He gave a nervous laugh.

“Again with the ‘madam’. What am I, an old lady?” the young lady chided jokingly. “There is something about you…but I suppose not. I’m rather good with faces, so I daresay I’d remember.”

The man put on a wry smile. “One would hope.” He bowed his head in apology. “Again, sorry for the interruption. Please enjoy your meal.”

“I shall,” his acquaintance said, standing to leave. “There certainly isn’t anywhere else around here I can, by the Twelve.” The white-clad catgirl went on her way and, not wanting to distress the man further, headed past her original table to one farther off.

Meanwhile, the gentleman slumped down in his chair. A waitress stopped by, asking if everything was alright, and after assuring her he put in a new order. “One cheeseburger, please.” Once she left he removed his glasses, set them down, and rubbed his eyes with his palms. “Such illimitable torment,” he moaned after a few moments.

“What is?”

Startled for the third time, the man opened his eyes to see another familiar face. Dirty blonde pigtails, pinned-back bangs, camo atop a black jumpsuit. “Ah, Shania,” he muttered, putting his glasses back on. “It’s nothing.”

“Sure it is. Who was that?” When the gentleman didn’t reply, the young woman huffed and walked around the table.

“Just…someone I used to know,” he told her, his expression thoroughly morose. Shania raised an eyebrow as seated herself across from him, and he gave a dismissive wave of her arms. “It’s a long story.”

Shania crossed her arms, her expression a little annoyed. “Try me.”

The healer took a long, slow breath. This had never worked before, but why not? “Well,” he began, clasping his hands as he placed them on the table. “I first awoke in this world from darkness, finding myself imprisoned in a strange, ethereal gaol. After a time, however, I was freed to wander, anchorless and alone in this strange, new world.”

“I had but one thought on my mind,” he continued. “To reunite with my companions, with whom I had shared many an adventure, overcome countless ordeals, and even saved the world. With them by my side, I knew I could do anything. And yet, when I finally found one, I experienced soul-rending horror.” He narrowed his eyes, as if in pain. “He did not remember me. Nor did the next I chanced to meet, nor the one after, nor any of them. Not friends, nor even passing acquaintances I encountered. They recalled a face, a name, a history, but they weren’t mine. It was as if I had never existed.” Muscles going slack, he stared up into the sky. “I wandered the land like a ghost, alone and in despair. Trying in vain to rediscover and reforge all that I had lost. Everything I had ever known, or loved, or achieved, all those precious memories, even my very name… dust in the wind. I tried, and tried, but it was all for naught. Nothing could fill the void. Until the last I lived in fear of death, a broken man scrabbling for every second. Praying for more time.” A hollow, rattling laugh escaped his lips as his voice dropped to a whisper. “...If only I had known.“

Shania stared at him, her face a mix of surprise and bemusement. “Didn’t expect you to actually reveal anythin’. Guess everyone’s got a sob story, huh. Real cryptic, too. Can’t help ya, but I hope ya feel better gettin’ that off your chest.” She crossed her arms. “Now I’ve heard you out, maybe you’d like to return the favor, eh? You owe me, after all.”

“...Hm? What do you mean?”

“Look, jackass,” she said suddenly, curling her lip. “I risked my sparkin’ life tryin’ to get all those people out. We walked all day, and my feet are one more cetri from fallin’ right off. When’re you gonna fulfill your end of the snuffin’ bargain?”

The healer sighed again, annoyed by the girl’s lack of gravitas. “I’m afraid I cannot keep my promise.”

Shania blinked twice, taken aback. “You what? Ugh, I knew it, you double-crossing mudder! You promised you’d-!”

“After that bloodbath, do you really think you deserve-” he cut in, only to be interrupted himself.

“SHUT UP!” Shania yelled without warning as she stood, drawing looks from all around the restaurant. She looked around angrily, as if daring anyone to speak, before focusing her ire back on the healer. “You think I care? Whatever happened, you put me up to it! You came to me after those sparkin’ Seekers destoried me, then told me the only way out was to help you. You’re the one who brought those Consuls down on us! Don’t blame me just ‘cause you’re feelin’ regretful!”

The gentleman stared at her impassively, his grief replaced by stoicism. “I made a critical miscalculation. The shame of that truth weighs heavily upon me. Yet you lack even that, and still you shirk your complicity. You knew from the outset that you were selling them all out, but that did not matter so long as you got what you wanted.”

“We had a deal, and I did my part!” Shania gritted her teeth, seemingly on the verge of tears. “The spark do you know about me, anyway?”

Her acquaintance frowned. “This world is full of records. The Spirit Board was but one source. I know that you hate yourself. But that you also dread the thought of a futile, meaningless, permanent death.” He stared Shania right in the eye. “That you would do anything if it meant you got another chance at life. Was I wrong?” He then leaned back in his chair. “Twas a gamble, but you did it before. So I believed you’d do it again. ‘Tis the extent of it.”

That left the girl speechless for a few moments, but then her fire burned again. “That’s crap!” she spat. “How could you know that? You tricked me! I…I wouldn’t-!”

“Do you believe in destiny?” the man asked suddenly.

When Shania didn’t say anything, he took a deep breath and continued. “Every one of us has a path laid out before us. Or…perhaps I could better liken it to a river. Not a road we walk of our own volition, but a current that carries us along. We may believe we have agency, but we do not. Every choice, predetermined. Every outcome, ordained. Like it or not, believe or disbelieve, we are all helpless against the flow.”

He looked around at the other restaurant patrons, back to minding their own business. Their eyes all gleamed with the blood-red glow of lifelight. “Some more than others, I suppose. Most are as sheep, the wool pulled thick over their eyes. Yet there are those who can struggle against the currents–the destoried. Like you. Those from Alcamoth. And…hopefully, I.” Exhaling, he hung his head. “I truly do sympathize with you, Shania. How blissful ignorance would be. But I haven’t that luxury. I don’t have another life to live. I must achieve my goals -or get as close as possible- with this one. Before I get what’s coming to me.”

Shania took deep breaths. Though not extinguished, her anger had subsided. “So…what? Thought you’d rope me on in it? That we’re the same? ‘We’re not so different, you and I’, is that your game?”

“A foolish thought, maybe…” the gentleman grimaced, his eyes falling to his half-eaten grapes. “But…should we not choose life? We can do better. Be better. Rather than turn our backs, saying ‘next time’, ‘next time’, should we not seek the future we desire, starting today? With these lives?” His expression was pleading. “Only those who start today have a tomorrow.”

A quiet moment passed. Then Shania replied through gritted teeth. “There is no ‘we’. There is no ‘our’. You’re just projecting,” she snapped at him. “All I ever wanted was another go. You can stuff your ‘records’, I didn’t do anything until you used me.” Turning up her nose, she crossed her arms. “The life I have isn’t enough. Now, are you gonna kill me, or what?”

The man put his hand to his head. “Shania…I am sorry. If only you could remember. My dilemma comes down to this: I am loath to take the life of an innocent, and if you are guilty, you too must earn that release. You deserve better than this cruel reality, I know. We all do. So even if the light hurts us, we cannot wallow in the comfortable darkness forever. Not when that light may yet illuminate a future–a future that’s in our hands.”

Groaning, Shania plopped down onto her stool, then laid her head on her crossed arms on the table. “Spark’s sake,” she croaked. “I just can’t have anythin’, can I? I’m just not allowed. Why’s it always me?” Tears began to form in her eyes. “Standin’ here on my own?” She sat up in her chair suddenly, her face twisted in fury, though not helpless anger. “I’ve had it,” she snarled. “I’ve had it up to-!”

“Well, I’ll be damned,” a venomous, sardonic, drawling voice interrupted her. A pointy-eared man in black swept in, his garb streaked with pale gold and neon green, and seated himself on one of the stools at the table with the two survivors. His green-scaled tail curled up behind him; both his bejeweled horns and wingtips shone like emeralds. “To think you’d be so cruel as to keep the poor girl awake against her will! Surely you didn’t think any of these insects could ever relate to you? It’s even more sad than it is cruel–I’d laugh if it wasn’t so pathetic.” His look of utter condescension quickly morphed into one of glee. “Oh hell, I’ll laugh anyway. Bahahahahaha!”

In an instant, the atmosphere had changed. Goosebumps raced across Shania’s skin as she eyed the newcomer, a scowl on her face as she kept her hands hidden beneath the table. The gentleman, meanwhile, fixed the newcomer with a baleful stare. “...M,” he hissed after a moment. “I must confess, I’d rather hoped I wouldn’t see you again for a good while.” He pushed up his glasses, then put one arm on the table, wearing an imperious frown. “Is that really your true face? I must say, ‘tis a most fitting visage. Precisely how I envisioned you.” He stroked his chin, thinking. “An irredeemable, egotistic, vulgar arsewipe.”

“Ooh, aren’t we frisky today? That’s not like you, do I sense a crack in that stone-cold facade of yours? Hehehe…” M chuckled nastily. “I do like this look though. Once I saw you dressing down, I figured I might as well join in. And don’t you look dandy in that lavish purple getup!” he snickered. “Though I think red suits you better, S.”

Shania, her tears quickly dried, turned her wary gaze on the man of many promises. Unfazed by the namedrop, S simply snorted. “Then you truly don’t know me, M. Why are you here?”

M’s grin turned into a deadpan stare, as if S were ruining his mood. “Y’know, you really baffle me, S. All this time, I’ve watched you try and get close to these…things. You know they’re not people, right? They’re our food. Our playthings. It doesn’t matter if one thousand die, or ten thousand, or ten million. You pick your favorites, sure, but you don’t really care about them. And now you’ve gone and, well, basically gotten a ton of ‘em killed. How can you keep pretending after all that? All this make-believe really do it for you? I just don’t get it.” He shrugged, shaking his head. “Why play at being good? None of it matters. This world is a cage for the strong. A mind-numbingly boring prison. All these toys are here for just one thing: our entertainment. My entertainment. Maybe these flimsy bonds and fantasies of heroism are how you ease the tedium of existence. But not me.” M stood to his feet, spreading his arms. “So, to answer your little question, I’m here to entertain myself. I want to know how you really feel, ‘partner’. So let’s start with the look on your face…”

As he raised his hand, a vortex of wind energy began to form. Then he lunged at Shania, a miniature storm raging in his palm. “As I clean up your MESS!”

The air became a maelstrom of whipping, cutting windblades. They sliced through and bashed apart everything in their path, from the restaurant’s wooden furniture to the structure itself. Its patrons screamed in fear and as they were flung from their seats, streaks of blood flying from deadly gashes. For a moment everything was chaos, but just as suddenly as it arose, the squall subsided. The Last Stand had been reduced to kindling, and the innocent bystanders lay whimpering and bleeding on the ground. That included the cat-eared conjurer from before, and the waitress, who’d been on her way to the table with a giant cheeseburger that now lay in halves on the ground.

But when the dust cleared, Shania was still standing. While she had a high-tech revolver in hand, she seemed just as surprised as M. Around her shone a cube-shaped barrier of shimmering blue light in angular shapes, a pink glint sliding across its ethereal surface. After a moment it faded, and the four strange, bladed instruments that projected it from its upper corners floated back toward their owner. He looked at Shania, then across the remains of the Last Stand, his gaze finally landing on the burger. His burger. His eyelid twitched, and he took a deep breath, as if surfacing after a long time.

“I suppose congratulations are in order,” S declared, his voice loud and clear. He raised his hand, his catalysts faced upward as they began to rotate around him, and a wellspring of blue-green light rays bloomed upward. “I rather pride myself on being an even-tempered man. It takes a lot to get under my skin.” The light washed over every person in the area, instantly healing them to full. “I’ve long suspected your aim in tormenting me so,” he confessed as the catalysts moved in to place themselves on his back in a neat, diagonal stack. “With no mountain left to climb beyond ‘power’s peak’, you couldn’t help but wonder. If another Moebius might give you the rush you’ve longed for. So, well done. You’ve made up my mind for me.” He tightened his fist and held it over his heart. “I’m done waiting. Today’s the day. Though sunken deep into the sands of time, I may yet claw my way to the surface. You wish to discern my true nature? Then ready yourself. I shall elucidate you.” His catalysts sprang into the air, their blades faced towards his enemy. “M!”

M’s grin had only grown wider. “Heheheh. Finally,” he chuckled. “I’m going to enjoy this. Snapping your bones, squashing your hope, and slicing your idiotic bonds to ribbons. By the time I’m through with you, it’ll take this city’s entire Flame Clock to patch you up, heheheh-!”

He grunted suddenly as a bullet struck him in the forehead, snapping his head sideways. He looked back the next second, the wound barely more than a scratch with just a rivulet of blood trickling down, to see Shania standing next to S. That wasn’t all, though. Drawn by the chaos, a massive shape leaped from a walkway higher up, crashed down next to them with hand scythes drawn, and a looming raptor at his back. “Oi!” Vandham grunted, taking a fighting stance. He shook his head, but kept his eyes on M. “It never ends, eh?”

“...It may yet,” S replied, suppressing his surprise. “I will have need of your strength to finish this–this fell dragon’s reign of terror.” He assumed a stance as well, his catalysts dancing around him. “But you need not fear. My name may be dust in the wind, but I am a Sage, and so long as I stand, no ally of mine shall ever die.”

Shania gave a wry laugh and took aim, her revolver held tight with both hands. “We better sparkin’ not, or I’ll wring that long neck of yours myself.”

“A sage, hm?” A stone suddenly struck M in the chest, and he treated the conjurer who cast it to an annoyed eye roll as she ran up to join the group, her twig in hand. “Room for one more?”

For the first time in a long time, S smiled. “Now it’s a party.”

M flapped his wings and took to the air, his hands in his pockets as his tail thrashed behind him. “Send in however many weaklings you like,” he told them with a mad grin. “You think having friends makes you strong? I’ve got mountains of bodies behind me, rivers of blood fed by whole kingdoms, and I sure don’t mind adding a few more to the pile!” He held out his hands, and the air itself began to hum with power. “Show me a good time…S!”
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Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Archmage MC
Avatar of Archmage MC

Archmage MC

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Level 11 Blazermate (Holding 2 level up) - (106/110)
Level 4 Susie - (0/50) - Level up! (Holding 2 level up)

Location: HQ > Sector 6
Word Count: Less than 750

Blazeramte and Susie listened to their respected situations, Blazermate learning a bit more about how weird the city was, while Susie was mostly having suspicions confirmed. Now, why the city leaders would be turning their citizens into these ever crisis things.... is a question if they were. Blazermate wasn't as sure as Susie on this theory, as Blazermate couldn't figure out why they were doing this while Susie just guessed it was some form of population control. A flawed concept, but it was something often done by incompetent corporate ladders.

Still, their next goal was clear; the sector 6 hub. Upon getting there, both robot girls were impressed with the looks, although for vastly different reasons. It was about time that Susie came about technology that was worth her time to observe, being one of the ones that was all for taking one of the 6 passes. Blazermate meanwhile thought on what had been told to her, with the other group needing a way through. This got her an idea. Taking Goldlewis aside, Blazermate said. "If we just need to get past this checkpoint thing. I could make a teleporter. Put one side here, the other side somewhere in sector 6, and everyone can easily bypass this checkpoint if thats what you need us to do?" If that was the case, Blazermate would take the second pass. Although she'd need some guidance on where to put the other teleporter end.

Hidden 1 yr ago Post by DracoLunaris
Avatar of DracoLunaris

DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

wordcount: 1,041 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (100/100)
Location: Seiran Underground
Warp Charges: 3

Midna managed to steal a touch of downtime before they headed out. First thing’s first, she crushed a bunch of the Other spirits they had acquired from the tunnels (but not the exploding ones as Raz requested them as she was piling them all out). The thought that these might once have been people offering only a moment's pause and whispered memorial before their spirits were put to use in fueling her new quest for justice in their name.

This gave some interesting results, some of which she offered up (spit, the active camo module and smoke grenades) incase others found more use for them, while she kept the oversized spear for herself, Urbosa’s proficiency make it work smoothly in her hands (although unbeknownst to her, it would prove to be rather harmless in said hands, as her concrete knowledge that the golden goddesses and the lesser gods and deities of her world where real resulted in her having very little in the way of what could be considered faith).

She had no idea what to do with the silly looking hat.

There was also enough to tend to her menagerie of minions. Or rather, for the most part, to have Blazermate do that for her, as most simply required the bots healing, but there were two slightly more involved operations with decidedly opposite outcomes.

The first was she brought out her mechabear, and after a bit of observation of its state in a non-urgent environment, determined that the metal bits were not working, lacking some kind of energy. A touch of talk with Blazermate and a dig around her horde of collected items found a solution to that, an “energy spike” which had some convenient instructions on it explaining its operation written on it in very small text.

One connection of cybernetic armor with the repowering source, and her semi-mechanical steed was back in operation, though the spike was spent in the process.

The other side of the coin, however, was an offer by Blazermate to enhance her undead Darknut using her mawed shield. Apparently it had been very effective on the monsters it had reanimated, but when she took the bot up on the offer, they learned that applying a random mutation to a carefully constructed creation did not have the best result, as the bones of the dead creature grew twisting branches that clogged up the armor and made it more resilient, yes, but rendered near incapable of movement.

”Well, that’s ironic I guess” she noted, having traded one crippled minion for another. At least she knew how to fix this one, though it would involve a bunch of time with a bonesaw that she did not have at the moment, as they had an appointment to catch.

They could not dally two long before heading out after all, as there was a not insignificant car ride between where they were in Seiran and over to the Hublink, despite them only being a plate away from each other. That left the princess with plenty of time to think. Think, and be annoyed about how it seemed like every one of the organizations that were on the surface meant to stop their crisis was instead perpetuating it.

”Or I guess we only know that someone in Seiran is making Others, and also that they did something else with the psyfish. Making more of those, only to kill them as well. Then releasing them into the under-city … I wonder if that was used as another purge of dissidents like the one we just witnessed” she pondered, but, unaware of the existence of life light clocks, all she could think was they wanted strong spirits for something.

Then there were the other two groups. Neuron blatantly wielded their foes as weapons, which honestly led Midna to give them the biggest benefit of the doubt, while DespoRHado somehow resisted the virus that seemed to be driving their own enemies. Given what Riden had said before he went off on his own, there was 100% something suspicious about that.

”Maybe they made the virus? To build their own power and influence, especially of this Armstrong person? If they can control their enemy somewhat, while anyone else who fights them has to face the full force, that would be a way to make themselves a linchpin of the city’s survival” she suggested, but that was just a guess.

She was certainly a lot more interested in this debate all of a sudden, given that both of the people talking seemed to be at the head of conspiracies perpetuating the ever crisis. That and disgusted by the state of the city’s politics for the exact same reasons.

Either way, a little while later, they were rolling up to the gates of sector six’s upper plate, and meeting back up with the others. She wasn’t exactly really familiar with most of them, it had to be said, which made Poppie’s absence stab her heart even harder, a pain that found her giving Torra a sympathy hug and assurance that they’d get her back, whatever it took.

Step 1 for that, getting into the city housing the corporation that was apparently suspect of holding the key to doing so. There were, naturally, obstacles preventing them from just getting in, as they only had legal access for 6 people.

Or rather ”Seven” she corrected, because ”I can shadow you when you get in”
That still left a whole lot of them on the outside, but Midna did have some suggestions for that.

”I could also set up portals to get the others in once the first six get past the barrier, but that won’t help us if they stop us again inside” she offered in tandem with Blazermate's suggestion, before having a little bit more of a think, and adding ”Best way to not be stopped, I think, would be to make sure we look like we belong there. Confidence is important for that, but so would looking the part and, well, we don’t exactly give off a high society look. Especially after fighting through ruins and over stagnant reservoirs”

She knew she could really do with another change of clothes, as cleaning herself up in the clinic’s bathroom had only done so much.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 1 day ago

Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Sector 6

Lvl 9 (217/90) -> (218/90)

Lvl 3 (16/30) -> Lvl 3 (17/20)

Word Count: 642 words

As Giovanna returned from her second phone call not long after they'd received the news from Goldlewis about Peach, Zenkichi nodded along. Tearing off another piece of pretzel and tossing it in his mouth, he choked when the SOU operative mentioned that they had an appointment to make in the City of Glass. Thudding his hand on the table and coughing, he forced down the offending piece of food with a swig of beer and thumped his chest twice to help force it all down.

"God that hurt. Wow, that...doesn't feel like a coincidence." Quickly moving on from his embarrassing experience, Zenkichi stood and gulped down the last of his beer, taking what was left of the pretzel with him. "Then let's get going!" He agreed, following after Giovanna.

Geralt, meanwhile, was being updated by Midna and Raz about what they'd overheard from the 'rebellion' within Psych-OSF. The entire operation had been a setup to slaughter Seiran? This city was looking more rotten and corrupt by the day. Given that the man in charge of the Psych-OSF was apparently not just corrupt, but a threat that could have rivalled Galeem in Zenkichi's own world, that followed. It was a strategic move, if a dirty trick as well. Turn Seiran operatives into Others, then send the rest in to cull the transformed, killing both in the process. Finally, sweep up the dirt and destroy the evidence. It was a good thing at least some of Seiran was aware of what was going on, though he wondered if it would be enough.

As Goldlewis went over everything they'd learned, Geralt listened and followed along. It was a fairly succinct summary all things considered, but it got the main points and raised some serious questions about how much each faction of Midgar's defense was holding back. He hadn't interacted with anybody from Neuron, but DesporHado and the Psych-OSF were very suspicious to him, the latter having been confirmed to have traitors in their midst.

He had nothing to add, however, so when the call came in to meet up with the other team at Sector 6, Geralt set out with the others.

As the two groups met in the atrium of the Sector 6 hublink, Zenkichi and Geralt both looked over the opposite group, the absence of their missing members weighing heavily on them all. While Zenkichi didn't know Peach, he knew she was the leader of the Seekers and very important to the other members. Geralt, meanwhile, was shocked to see Tora without his gear, but refrained from making a comment and upsetting the rotund Nopon further.

They all grouped together and began discussing their options, with Midna and Blazermate both offering their own ways of getting past security. Zenkichi turned to Goldlewis and nodded at the man. "I think at the very least you ought to take one of the passes. People may recognize you here, and having an official invitation would make things much less noticeable. I'm on the fence about myself, given that I'm definitely AWOL by now, having any official presence here, especially with known dissidents, might make Konoe and his people realize I'm back. Assuming he even remembers..."

Geralt, meanwhile, eyed the giant robots warily. "Not sure I'm keen on voluntary getting closer to those things..." He admitted with a small amount of reluctance, shaking his head. "Especially with what we just had to deal with. Best I go around." His roundabout way of mentioning that he apparently wasn't in full control of his mental faculties aside, Geralt was being honest in that he wanted to avoid dealing with the guards checking at entry. "Though somebody will have to take the passes, for certain." So far, nobody had really offered to do so, though Midna and Blazermate certainly had good reasons on their end.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by Zoey Boey
Avatar of Zoey Boey

Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 4 days ago

Sakura Level 9: 48/90
Karin Level 5: 43/50
Location: Hideout -> Hublink
Word Count: teeny
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 9: 49/90
Karin Level 5: 44/50

Sakura rubbed her temples as she listened to the recap. Secret viruses, secret groups within secret groups. This was all too much to think about. Poor Peach…they had to get to the bottom of it so they could save her- save everyone! If only that sniper hadn’t gotten killed.

”Well. I suppose it couldn’t hurt to learn a little more about the people that run this city.” Karin said, in reference to the debate they were now trying to get into.

”It’s kinda weird to be back together every once in a while.” Sakura mused. ”Though it is a nice reminder that there really is kind of a lot of us Seekers? There’s like twenty of us or something.” She said.

Sakura got her ID updated! ”Oh, thanks..! To be honest, I kinda forgot these were all fake.” She said. ”It’s also a little creepy that we even need these… everywhere else we’ve been you can just walk wherever you want without needing to prove you’re a real person.” Sakura muttered quietly.

”The city is authoritative in nature. Crisis are an excellent excuse for restricting liberty.” Karin said.

”You still owe me a fight, by the way.” Sakura said to Karin.

”Of course. But-”

”-We’re still being sneaky.”

Sakura tried and succeeded not to gawk at the atrium and the giant killer robots within. There was a bit of a problem with their access though. Security wouldn’t easily let them through.

”Well, they better let us in.” Sakura said. ”We just fought for this city. Raz and I even went through their training programs. They should let everyone in. It doesn’t seem very fair to have an entire section of a city most people can’t go into.” She crossed her arms and pouted.

”A house? Sure. A neighborhood, I guess. But a whole part of a city? That’s just- elitist!” Sakura complained. ”Look at ‘em with their giant army of killer robots. Didn’t see so much of half of that much security protecting a bunker full of innocent people against creepy monsters from the sky. What a bunch of crap. This place sucks.”

”Security theater, more than actual security. As we are no doubt about to demonstrate. Unless there is some kind of technology we don’t know about that can counter it, a well placed teleporter would do the trick, yes? ” She said, agreeing with Blazermate's idea.

”Worst case scenario, with my grapple hook and some of our agility, it shouldn’t be too difficult to simply sneak over or around using the terrain of the city.” Karin said.

”Yeah…but whoever gets a pass should really shove it in their face.” Sakura added.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 9 days ago

Featuring: Benedict Pascal
Wordage: Less than 750 words (+1 points)
Experience: 5/30 EXP Experience: 29/30
Location: Hublink Terminal
Goldlewis, Tora & Giovanna's @Lugubrious, Geralt & Zenkichi's @Multi_Media_Man, Blazermate & Susie's @Archmage MC, Karin & Sakura's @Zoey Boey, Roxas' @Double, Benedict's @Dark Cloud and Pit’s @Yankee

The tactician couldn't agree more with his fellow or rather former colleagues sentiment, Zenkichi's concerns weren't unfounded being seen with a group of dissidents would no doubt draw the ire of others. Yet so far they had been doing a rather shoddy job at keeping a low profile what with the detective having been following up on the trail of bread crumbs the Seekers kept leaving behind.

"Quite right detective, and I would not doubt the memory of Konoe nor any of our former colleagues for that matter. We are better off keping our heads down." Benedict nodded as he approached all three men, he cast a glance at his surroundings with what seemed like a bored look yet he was ever watchful for those who might also be watching. However the strategist had not anticipated a man in a flamboyant jacket to brazenly step forward to the big man himself; Goldlewis to introduce himself.

The merchant thrust a hand towards Goldlewis with a amicable smilemon his mug "Howdy there friend, you must be that darned Mr. Lewis everyone done talked about. Name's Partitio, pleasure to make your acquaintance and thank ye kindly for whatever the heck this fancy piece of 'plastic' is." if the big man shook his hand Partitio would give it a firm shake and go about to greeting everyone else he hadn't yet met. To Benedict the man certainly was...Enthusiastic? Well alas he didn't seem absolutely without sense at least hopefully one I his profession had sense.
Hidden 1 yr ago 1 yr ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious The player on the other side

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

Sector 06 Hublink

Level 4 Goldlewis (64/40)
Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Karin and Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate and Susi’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man, Pit’s @Yankee, Raz’s @Truthhurts22, Roxas’ @Double, Benedict and Partitio’s @Dark Cloud, Tora, Giovanna
Word Count: 2507

More or less as expected, the Seekers’ reunion was a terse one. Pretty much nobody had much of anything friendly to say, even in greeting. Goldlewis was no stranger to nonchalant professionalism -the curt nod he exchanged with Giovanna was proof enough- but this reception seemed almost frosty. No doubt the loss of two of the group’s longest-serving members was a factor, and the veteran couldn’t blame them, but at the same time he hoped that wasn’t the extent of it. Considering the stakes at play here, it would be a miracle if there weren’t more losses before this campaign was through. Goldlewis hated it as much as anyone, but he understood it–such was the nature of war. More likely, the reason lay with the time spent apart. It had only been about half a day since the two subgroups first parted, even if everything that transpired during that time made it feel like three months. Still, a team was only as good as its communication.

Once the Seekers got down to the task at hand, though a solid suggestion came from an unlikely source. “That’s a mighty fine idea,” Goldlewis told Blazermate. While the team had gone over to a small lounge area after seeing the checkpoint and the sight of such a large group casually deterred passers-by, he still kept his voice down to make sure none of the security bots could listen in. “In fact, I’d go so far as to call that idea a hole in one. You’ve got my vote. Let’s work together to find a good spot for both ends on both sides.” He surrendered one of the press passes to her gladly. Unlike Susie, who’d foisted the responsibility of solving this conundrum on everyone else while offering nothing in return by taking a pass, this Medabot was earning her keep.

Midna offered a suggestion of her own once Blazermate and Goldlewis finished talking, and though prudent in its own right her idea ended up being a little redundant. Remembering the portal she placed in the hideout, he stroked his whiskers, thinking. “I reckon tech stands out less than magic,” he mused. “Let’s save ‘em for now. I betcha six ways to Sunday they’ll come in handy later on.” The Twilight Princess then brought something else up that the veteran hadn’t considered. Suddenly a little self-conscious, he looked down at his apparel with a frown. “My suit fits the bill, but after bustin’ my butt all mornin’ it’s sure seen better days. If we see an outfitter I oughta pay ‘em a visit.” He looked around at the others, examining their own appearances. Partitio’s garb might’ve been fine if he hadn’t rolled up his sleeves and gotten his hands dirty outside the city. Sakura and Raz still wore their Psych-OSF uniforms. Even those like Benedict and Karin who were well-dressed didn’t exactly ‘look the part’, Midna said. At least Giovanna looked presentable, having gotten the chance to change after the battle at HQ. Wait…that’s it! Goldlewis snapped his fingers. “The spare button-ups back at the office! They ain’t fancy or nothin’, but any metropolis worth a damn is drownin’ in white-collar workers. Y’all can blend right in.” Normally returning to the SOU headquarters would be an impossible detour at this juncture, but with Midna on the team, nothing was impossible.

Zenkichi recommended that Goldlewis take a pass, and he nodded in agreement. “I’m with ya on that one. I was thinkin’ ‘bout it anyhow so I could help Blazermate hunt down a good spot for her teleporter. Folks may recognize my face, but no-one’s got a reason to be lookin’ for me. Unlike you, Mr. Hasegawa…” He narrowed his eyes at Zenkichi, not accusatory, but concerned. “If I were you, I’d lean towards keepin’ a low profile.” Benedict echoed the same sentiment.

When Sakura gave vent to her annoyance, Goldlewis almost let out a wry, humorless laugh. Giovanna actually smiled. “You’ve got a lot to learn about the world, kid,” she chuckled. Even if it turned out she wasn’t much older than Sakura, the girl’s naivete made her feel positively mature in comparison. Her companion was right to focus on the matter at hand; the teleporter should wrap this obstacle up in a nice neat package. A grappling hook, huh? That, Giovanna hadn’t expected from Karin. Sounded like a nice thing to have.

Goldlewis found himself wearing a genuine smile, though, when Partitio introduced himself. Though he positively dwarfed the other man, and their backgrounds could scarcely be more different, the veteran felt like he’d happened upon a kindred spirit. “Howdy. And that’s Dickinson,” he corrected, reaching out his hand to shake. “Goldlewis Dickinson. And likewise. You joined up just a couple hours ago, right? Glad to have ya along for the ride, partner.”

With the meeting over with a plan of action decided upon, there wasn’t anything else to it but to do it. First, the team found a secluded spot in the parking garage nearby to build the teleporter entrance, which everyone without a pass would hang around. If Midna created a portal back to SOU headquarters, they could do whatever they needed there as well. Then Goldlewis, Giovanna, Susie, Blazermate, Karin, and Partitio would end up taking the six press passes and head back into the Hublink, though they weren’t the only ones queuing up at the security checkpoint. Midna tagged along in the group’s collective shadow, while a very glum Tora waddled along at Giovanna’s side, his hammer and toolkit stashed safely within the extradimensional space in the veteran’s coffin. After taking off their shoes -if they had them- and putting their things on the conveyor through the X-ray machine, they proceeded through the metal detector. Laden with metal accessories from cow skulls to horseshoes, Goldlewis had to take off his jacket, both belts, his gloves, and even his tie, and he still got subjected to a pat-down by a somewhat nervous-looking SBR unit. Grumbling, he put everything back on and collected his coffin as fast as he could. Giovanna, meanwhile, got stopped as she tried to go through security with Tora.

“Hey,” the SBR unit said as it stood in front of her, narrowing his optics at the Nopon. “What’s this?”

Giovanna maintained a completely straight face. “This…is my emotional support Nopon. You know, like a service dog?”

“Irony of statement have profound sting for Tora,” the morose engineer muttered beneath his breath.

The SBR unit looked down. “Did it just talk?”

“Uh, no. Are you stupid?” Giovanna nudged Tora with her foot, then patted him on the head.

The SBR unit crossed its arms, an annoyed look on its face. “Emotional support, huh? What’s it for?”

“You’re not legally allowed to ask that question,” Giovanna told him sharply. “And I’m not legally obligated to answer. Patient confidentiality.”

After a moment, the SBR’s composure broke, and it stepped aside looking sheepish. “Uh…right. Sorry ma’am. Carry on.”

One look at the group’s press passes seemed to be enough to convince the robots here that they were approved for entry, even without a fully-functioning GridLink. Once on the other side of the checkpoint, the Seekers moved quickly through the rest of the Hublink. As Goldlewis pointed out, there was no rush to find a spot for the teleporter exit that might get compromised, so together the eight boarded an outbound monorail. Soon the doors slid shut and the train began to pick up speed, quickly leaving the Hublink station behind and zooming out into the City of Glass.

The moment the view opened up in front of the train, Goldlewis couldn’t help but be impressed. In the wake of the rainstorms of that morning, the rays of sunlight piercing the clouds had opened up into whole swathes of radiant sunshine, and all of Sector 06 glittered beneath it. For starters, it boasted a unique feature no other plate had: a body of water, running all the way from the tip of the pizza slice to the ‘crust’. In fact the Hublink hung out over it, so the minute the trail left the station it was flying along a tall, single-rail bridge above the blue. This was made possible, in turn, by the defining feature of the Sector 06 undercity, Deep-Paris, it being a solid block of earth all the way from ground level to the plate with the underground slums inside it. Taking up about a third of the plate’s total surface area, the body of water wound around as a huge river as the plate itself expanded, culminating in a bay near the plate’s far end.

Occupying the lion’s share of Sector 06’s solid ground seemed to be the City of Glass proper. The view of it from here, witnessed by countless newcomers over Midgar’s lifetime, was no less striking for the Seekers than it had been for their predecessors. It was a metropolis of towering buildings, quite possibly the tallest in Midgar save the skyline-dominating Shinra Building itself, and every one of them stood proud in spotless, marble-white majesty, clothed and crowned with vast arrays of reflective crystalline glass. Tastefully sparse, geometric splotches of primary color could be glimpsed here and there in its different districts, but on the whole the place radiated an atmosphere of unadulterated ‘purity’.

On the flipside, across the water lay the other one-third of the City of Glass, a vast and colorful campus of sprawling factories and offices beneath the watchful dominion of the second-biggest skyscraper in Midgar, shaped like a colossal ‘V’ rising out of an enormous glass globe. Those who had spotted it on the helicopter ride to Sector 07 or any of the car rides since -and it was hard to miss- could finally see it in all its glory.

Goldlewis whistled. “Boggles the doggone mind,” he said, describing the view succinctly. Tora stared at the scenery, unmoved. Sure, it was pretty, but to him it just felt like a waste. This was an experience he should have shared with Poppi. After a few seconds, Goldlewis continued. “Dendenmille Showcase Theater oughta be somewhere ‘round the base of that big ol’ V, so that’s where we’re headed.”

Well before getting there, however, the monorail pulled into and stopped at another station. After making their way out, the Seekers found themselves at the waterfront overlooking Regatta Bay. Even one of the most remote parts of the City of Glass, well removed from its beating heart, was the richest-looking part of Midgar any of the newcomers had seen so far. State-of-the-art luxury sailboats and multi-level yachts -some with onboard pools- were moored at the piers by the dozens, all pure white except for the stripes and stripes of singular colors, and many more were already sailing around the bay to make the most of the afternoon sunshine. All menial tasks, from emptying trash cans to sweeping and polishing the ghost-white walkways, were accomplished by androids. There were a lot of security robots scattered around, too.

Plenty of fancy-looking people could be found milling around or attending to some manner of business, all buried in their phones and laptops as they sat in open-air cafes and restaurants. As Tora watched, four dwarves -evidently drunk already- in fine if somewhat disheveled suits skipped by, arm in arm, chanting, “We’re rich! We’re rich!” It wasn’t just formal or office wear around here, though; there was also elaborate, futuristic techwear. That produced a whole host of different looks: lady in an iridescent parka sort of thing that looked too fancy to be a raincoat, a beanie-wearer with a transparent plastic jacket, a man with green shades and even greener lipstick, and a pink-haired fellow who happened to be casting a judgmental look toward the Seekers, and more. Suddenly, Goldlewis didn’t feel quite so confident about the quality of his suit. He could only imagine what Pit, Roxas, and the others felt like. Luckily, there were plenty of boutiques around, too. The only obstacle to obtaining anything that anyone might want would be the price–which Goldlewis could only guess would be egregious.

Tora approached the railing at the water’s edge and laid his wings on it. He listened to the lap of the water against the piers, and the whisper of the wind. His eyes drifted across the bay, all the way down to the other side of the plate where Vandelay Campus lay. Among its its vast and varied edifices loomed one building in particular, not anywhere near as tall as that V but noticeable nonetheless: the Cyberlife Tower. Detroit might be the home of industry, and Night City the home of cybernetics, but this was doubtless the home of robotics. If there was anywhere he could achieve his goals, it had to be here.

“Alright, enough gawking,” Giovanna piped up after a few moments. “Let’s hurry up and find somewhere to put the teleporter already.”

This task was easier said than done. In terms of surveillance cameras, the City of Glass gave Suoh a run for its money; there were clusters of them everywhere. But Giovanna, pragmatic as ever, soon found a place where even their gaze couldn’t reach: a public restroom. She and Blazermate went inside to wait for the occupants to leave, while Goldlewis and anyone else remained outside to discourage others from entering, though luckily this area wasn’t experiencing a glut of pedestrians anyway. In short order the teleporter was constructed, and everyone else could warp through and then file out of the restroom one at a time. Before too long, Geralt, Zenkichi, Benedict, Pit, and Roxas had all joined the others to marvel at the breathtaking City of Glass.

“Alright!” Goldlewis echoed Giovanna from earlier. “Now we’re all back together, there's just two problems. Gettin’ to Vandelay Campus over there, and not raisin’ any kind o’ ruckus while we’re at it.” At this point, it was almost four o’ clock. That meant five hours to cross the City of Glass, and accomplish whatever else the Seekers wanted or needed along the way.

Tora had wandered back over to the water’s edge. He could think of no better way for the team to reach their destination than by boat. “...Maybe friends convince boatypon to give ride,” he offered sullenly. With all the people around the piers, there had to be at least one well-to-do waverider the team could solicit help from. Whether or not there’d be a price to pay, though, was anyone’s guess.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

wordcount: 1,088 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (102/100)
Location: Sector 06 Hublink
Warp Charges: 3

While there were a couple of introductions and talk, ultimately the first offered plan, Blazermate’s was the one they went with. Not that that got the princess out of having to use up some of her limited portal energy, as her own suggestion of getting a change of clothes prompted a suggestion that they should get them from the main base. Still, one charge used was better than two, that was for sure, so she’d come out ahead in a way

”Just give me a second and I’ll find somewhere to put it” the princess said, before slipping into the shadows and then scaling down the side of the trench separating the plate they wanted into from the one next door till she found a maintenance tunnel of some kind.

In there, nicely out of sight if rather inconvenient if they ever tried to use this for something other than a clothing run, she popped down a portal, and then used it to go to and from the SOU headquarters.

She then scooted up top side again, and presented the team with a pile of button-ups of various sizes, having taken most of the stock to supply the others with disguises. She herself was not, however, wearing one, as her already inhuman proportions combined with various fusions meant that none of them really fit, and she’d apparently already burned through the supply of squid-kid sized outfits that had done so (both of which where not only dirty, but ruined as far as blending in went by various bits of battle damage).

It was a good thing she’d be spending most of her time hiding in the shadows then, as she’d returned to the classic nothing but a helmet look, augmented only by the cut in half psycho mask (currently sitting around her neck instead of deployed over her face), single shoulder guard, rosary, mimic tooth necklace, and overpriced watch. She’d simply decided that being entirely combat ready was worth giving up on being able to come on out in polite society without drawing attention, as she did not think the ancient stone helmet of unimaginable dark power would really fit in. Nor would the oversized lance she wanted to test out.

”Good luck to you all with getting in. If you need me to store anything in the twilight realm as part of blending in, just let me know” she told them, before slipping into Goldlewis’s shadow. From there she watched the entire proceeding ‘infiltration’ with interest.

Oh and also occasionally provided uncontrolled comments that came from nowhere such as telling the robot ”Looks like you're hearing things. Might want to get that checked out” or complaining that the city was ”Much to bright” and ”Like a rotten apple polished to a mirror sheen”

The dimmer hues of purples and blues of the bay they arrived at were much more her speed. They certainly weren't threatening to blind her the way light glancing off the glass buildings would have had she stepped out of the shadows.

The people’s style however, she did not respect very much, and it seemed the feeling was mutual, at least when it came to the garb of the people she was riding along with in the shadows of.

Speaking of them, that group soon got a fair bit bigger as they eventually found a spot for the teleporter in an out of the way public restroom, and used it to bring in everyone else. That was not the end of their travel woes however, as though they were now in the city, they still needed to get across it without getting all eyes on them.

Shame they couldn’t just drive again, as the city was a closed system, where only those who could afford a registered vehicle to use purely within its walls were able to make use of its roads. Which made the entirely unregistered bikes and warthog Midna had stashed away rather useless, nor could she simply bring Goldlewis’s car in as it did not have the right kind of license either.

”Goddesses, what a bureaucratic nightmare. They really want to keep the peasants out I guess” she said, which given she was royalty did not contain quite as much disdain as it might have coming from one of said peasants.

So they had to be smart about this.

”I could shadow hop all the way around to the other side and bring a teleporter with me, but that’d take a while, especially as I can’t just claim a restroom like we just did all on my own, so finding a spot to put it down would be even harder” she commented from the shadows, offering that as an option of last resort.

The boat idea did seem like a good one, though finding someone willing to take on a band of strangers and give them a ride for free (or for cheap) seemed unlikely. At least not without being very curious as to why this interesting bunch wanted to get across the lake in a hurry.

”I could put on a disguise and “borrow” a sail to get across, then just escape via the shadows once I am on the other side and set up the teleporter. Would cause a lot of noise, but they wouldn't know it was related to us if I pull it off right” she suggested as an alternative to relying on the kindness of strangers ”or could you, Goldlewis, just ‘requisition’ one using the credentials of your, former, position of … secretary of defense was it?”

Those were also tools to keep lower on the priority list in her mind however. She did not particularly like the idea of theft from random blameless individuals, even if they would only be using the vehicle for a short while. There was a reason she did not, say, offer to shadow sneak into a clothing store and simply portal away outfits for the group when no one was looking, for example. Part of that was her medieval presumption that said stores would be owned and operated by individuals, and not massive corporations who could easily foot the bill of their city/world/multiverse saving operations, however, so she could likely be convinced to do so in the name of the greater good.

Ultimately, she was along for the ride for much of this one unless things got spicy, and most certainly would not be the one going face to face with boat owners to try and talk them into things.
Hidden 1 yr ago Post by TruthHurts22
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Member Seen 3 mos ago

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 987 (+2) (B and K only)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (201/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (89/120) 59
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (74/120) 42
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (85/70)

featuring Ichiban: Level 3 (Level Up!)

Location: The Under - Home of Tears

Nadia’s guess that the old koopa would be the one to explain things to Ichiban turned out to be entirely correct ”Ah yes. My apologies for not doing that sooner, but, well other things where weighing on my mind” he said, before clearing his throat and beginning

”So, if you will look up into the … ah, well, I suppose that won’t work down here” he faltered almost immediately, before thinking and re-adjusting ”If you were to look up into the sky, you would see a great ball of light. It is not the sun, for it has wings of every hue, and it is the source of your confusion: Galeem”

”If you think back, to a time before you were here, and at the end of when you were in this ‘Japan’ place, you might recall a bright light before everything changed. That was Galeem, ending your world. Ending all worlds. Stealing them away, ripping them apart, and then once it had done that, it stitched them all back together into the world we are in now. A world made from many worlds, perhaps all worlds, and home to people from them all too” he explained, painting the tapestry of what had been done, before turning around and talking about how things where now.

”Those people are all like you were before today. Blinded by Galeem to what it has done, ignorant, and thinking that this is all that has ever been. We call them the Galeeming, and you can spot them, clear as day, all around us, with Galeem’s red ‘lifelight’ filling their eyes. On top of making them blind, it also makes them unwilling to back down from a fight until they are beaten, so ah, try not to provoke any of them unless, because only strength will get them to back down, not words.”

”We, meanwhile, are the ‘seekers of light’ according to some, and ‘de-storied’ according to others, but, well, in my humble opinion we are simple the ones who are free” the mage concluded, a bit smug in his simple refutation of the other two groups terminology.

”and what we are gonna do with that freedom is crush the 9 left over guardians who are still stopping us from getting to Galeem, and then we are gonna ride up into the sky and smash that stupid glowball like the cheap baubles it is! It's a jumped up nobody! Doesn't even have a unique gimmick! Some guy called tattoo already did this whole making your own world out of bits of other ones while controlling the master hand jazz, and I punched him in his stupid face for that, just like I’m gonna punch Galeem!” Bowser declared confidently, while again misremembering Tabuu’s name.

”Wow, that’s…” Ichiban didn’t finish his sentence, not sure how to really sum everything going on in his brain. ”Whatever ‘world’ I’m from doesn’t have anything like this,” he continued, ”back what I remember I was just tryin’ to figure out who killed my boss. Now it’s all, world collidin’, Galeeming, guardians?”

Ichiban paused, staring at the made of the under they had on the table, and took a sip of his tea. ”.......that’s freakin’ awesome! In a sudden change of mood Ichiban stood up, hands planted on the table, toppling his chair over. ”I mean, it’s super terrifying and I’m sure once I have a moment to process things will feel even weirder, but- man, this has been my dream for years! Becomin’ a hero, fightin’ bad guys, saving the world and shit!” (+1 Passion!)

There was a little moment of silence caused by the unexpected hard right turn in the man’s reaction, which was broken by Bowser giving a single ”Ha!” and knee slap before declaring that ”Now that’s the kinda spirit I like in a new recruit” despite the whole hero part of it, and then offering a raised handshake and a ”Welcome to the team!” to the newly filled in member.

Ichiban wasn’t one to leave a guy hanging. He took Bowser’s hand, despite how much it dwarfed his, and shook with all his might. ”Yeah!” Then he looked around the group and his excitement diminished a little. ”I mean… if it’s alright with all of you. Savin’ the world, fighting some huge powerful god thing, sounds like you need a lot of good muscle. I’d be happy to lend a hand, though I’m not sure I could stack up with what’d be needed…”

”Hey, any extra hands are a help” Bowser insisted as he released the man’s own (and silently approving of his hand shaking skills), before explaining that ”Plus, there’s this whole spirit power stuff that can help you stack up” before turning to his mage and telling him ”Hey Kamek, explain the whole fusion thing again”

”We really do need a pamphlet or something for this, but yes, I shall quickly cover it” Kamek agreed, before swiftly outlining the 4 uses of spirits, namely fusions for power or skills, cruising for items, and recruitment for strikers.

”All of these can be used to increase your power. Plus, with this little device” he showed him the snacktivator ”we can limit the fusions, which are normally full body, to just a certain body part. That can help mitigate the, ah, side effects somewhat, or at least the visual ones. It is not quite clear if the downsides are also reduced, but we can only hope and gather evidence I suppose”

”Usin’ these, uh, ‘spirits’ of other people to make yourself better? Huh… that’s kinda like XP.” Ichiban rubbed his chin. ”Maybe I’ll fit in around here better than I thought…”

”Dunno what you mean by that, but yeah, that’s the spirit!” Bowser declared giving the new member a thumbs up as his initiation/catch up session came to a close.

Ichiban raised his styrofoam cup of tea in a mock toast. ”So, where to first?”
Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

The "Auction house"

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 4447 (+6)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (201/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (91/120) 59
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (74/120) 42
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (87/70)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

Level 10 Sectonia (holding 4 level up) - (67/100)

Sectonia, seeing Rubick’s staff, nodded at his explanation of what it was, the grand magus having accompanied them to the cafe. ””Ah, I see. It seems that staff is indeed powerful. but... Sectonia then took a second look at it, and found that its magic wouldn’t work for her, kamek, or anyone else. ”It seems this powerful magic is yours and yours alone. I suppose its because you made it yourself? Well, next time we run into a strong foe, lets see what this staff can do shall we?” Sectonia concluded.

With all the treats where eaten, and planning all sorted, Bowser and Kamek stood up from the table, stretched a bit, and then announced that they were going to go offload all of P’s stuff somehow.

”Don’t really know where though” Bowser admitted, prompting Kamek to ask ”I don’t suppose any of you have had a chance to do any shopping or selling yet, that might lead you to holding the knowledge we seek?” before he directed his be-spectacled gaze at queen Sectonia and saying ”I think you mentioned having some ideas?”

”When I was touring the town earlier, I saw a few places where we could deal with this stuff. Perhaps the local auction house or the pawn shop? Although I doubt the pawn shop will have all that much money. The rest… perhaps the guard captain would know what to do with it?” Sectonia said.

”Seeing if there is an auction house does sound wise, we can likely work out what is and is not worth selling there as well, which would be a plus” Kamek replied, and then, after getting a nod from the king, they set about trying to find one of those.

Their hunt, which involved asking a bunch of strangers till they found someone who knew what they were looking for, lead them to the Collection once more, and specifically to a tall spiky building. The outside did not look much like an auction house, and the addition of a few burly orcs and goblins crackling with barely controlled power seemingly hanging around standing guard did not really change that appearance either.

However once they entered inside, they were presented with a staff made up of a few more smartly dressed goblins, who took one look at the pile of miniaturized treasures the queen’s ants where hauling in and collectively agreed to boot this up the ladder.

As a result the group where presented with a very suit wearing orc who introduced himself with “Auctioneer Chugrall, at your service” and a short bow before asking “To what do we owe you the pleasure? If you are looking to buy, you can see the list of items that are due to go up for auction on the left there”

He indicated to one side where a glass case contained a few items such as vials of canned knowledge capable of downloading recorded information straight into a person’s brain (the filled exorbitant expensive (and also oddly, did not say which knowledge they contained), the empty less so), a deluxe camping set, with a bunch of bedrolls, firestarting materials, cookware, et cetera. Essential for long-term expeditions underground, as well as a number of aesthetically pleasing but otherwise useless items. A small crowd of well to do monsters who were pursuing these options, though with each passing moment more would turn their gaze away from that and towards the strangers in town’s mighty haul.

Chugrall, naturally, also had his eyes all over the miniaturized bounty as he continued his explanation of the “and if you are looking to sell, I and the rest of the staff will gladly aid you in the process of appraisal, paperwork and so on and so forth needed to go through with that” he gestured back at the counter to the right where the goblins were watching with interest.

“If I might drop the professionalism for a moment, I do hope you are here to sell. Never have I seen such an interesting collection. All of it ever so small and yet clearly, there is much of value to be seen within” he admitted his own interest

”I am afraid I will have to disappoint you somewhat in that, Auctioneer Chugrall, as these items are simply shrunk down so that they may be transported more easily” Kamek explained, before demonstrating this upon a portrait of a wizard hat wearing skeleton titled Rare Enchantment, resizing it to its meter tall size. It was an act that caused the monocle the ork had put on in preparation to examine the objects to pop right back off

“My word” he said, rather amazed, before clearing his throat and reclaiming some of his professional demeanor as he asked “Well then, ah, will you be putting some of this … vast collection up for auction?” glancing between them before settling on looking at the crown wearing Sectonia, the orc now guessing that said piece of regalia was not just for show.

”Some items, yes. Some, no. Although from your expression, I assume you know which ones we are interested in selling.” Sectonia said, giving a not too subtle hint that the high value stuff they had, mostly the art pieces and the like, were on the table to be auctioned off. The lower value items however, such as the toys and such, which the auction house was probably not that interested in anyway, were not. ”I expect it will be a good showing. Worth plenty of profit for the lot of us.”

Sectonia’s plan was to sell off the expensive items; items that nobles could afford without much issue and were probably their item, while giving those who weren't as well off their items back for free for their loyalty. Most nobles were far, far too aloof to notice what they were buying in her experience. Those that weren’t, often were more frugal. Meanwhile those that aren’t as well off were often far more attached to their possessions and would be far more likely to notice, and appreciate, having their possessions back and with that, loyalty.

“That will make things simpler for everyone I’m sure” Chugrall nodded in agreement, likely having come to the same assessment that, now that the novelty of smallness was off the table, certain items had gone up in value, and others far far down.

“We will be more than happy to assist you in identifying what meets the standards of our auction house, though do not worry, you seem to have plenty of items that fit the bill” he glanced back and gave some of the other employees a quick nod, prompting them to guide Kamek and the Queen’s minions to a side of the desk where they began the process of examining the unshrunk items.

“While they are working away, ma’am, let me explain how our establishment works, as I take it you are new to its usage? I am quite certain I would be aware if someone as yourself were a frequent visitor, which is something I certainly hope you will become” Chugrall said, as he guided them over to the counter next to the ones used for appraisal.

“Now then, here at this establishment, we do not trade in mere gold, Geo or souls, but purest palladium coins, minted by this very organization. It is a currency denoting status, prestige, and class, and the only way to acquire the finest treasures in the city” the orc explained grandiosity, as he showed them a set coins emblazoned with the letters D,I and V whose intricate design simply oozed either sophistication or pointless extravagance, depending on your perspective.

“We do, of course, facilitate exchange lesser currencies for palladium, but the best way to acquire them, as you have premonitionantly realized, is to put items up for auction” he told them, in a rather blatant attempt at flattery, before he tried to slip in the terms and conditions hot on the heels of the buttering up

“Now naturally, we do charge for the use of our knowledge, talent, and facilities, but that will be a trifling amount to that which you are sure to earn from the sale of your collection” he unrolled a rather lengthy bit of parchment and added nonchalantly that “terms and conditions do apply, but if you would simply sign here, here, and here” he indicated to a few lines with a quill tipped with red ink before offering the writing implement to her “and we can have your items on sale at our next event”

Sectonia wasn’t surprised this place was a bit… shady with its business practices. Such was the way of those who would take money from nobles; it was best to squeeze them for every bit of gold you could muster, she supposed. Still, she made sure to read the contract to see what she was signing onto, as it wouldn’t do to have her sign away on something she wasn’t sure of. Still, contracts were quite dull, and it wasn’t really her area of expertise, so it did take her some time.

What concerned her was this whole ‘extra currency’ thing, from what she could tell, it was just something that would let them skim even more from her potential sales, And as she read this… contract…well, considering this place was run by consul P, she wasn’t surprised it fostered such things. Things like “We have exclusive rights…” and varios nickel and dime schemes… at least it seemed to only be about the stuff set on auction, instead of anything worse. It seemed like they might not make that much profit at the end of the day, but perhaps they could find a decent item here, perhaps? With the contract read and signed, it was off to trying to sell the larger items.

“Thank you Ma’am” Chugrall said with a nod as he took the contract.

Bowser had tried to read it with her, but had given up about two lines in and was instead found over with the various items along with Kamek and the goblin staff, who were looking it all over.

“Now then, lets see how we are doing with the appraisals shall we” the orc said as he stepped over to join his colleagues, the implicit question getting quite the interesting answer of “We’re having an easy time boss, half this stuff’s been on sale here before looks like” coming from a goblin sat next to a pile of documents which, if glanced at, did indeed record various sales of items that had then, presumably, been stolen by P.

His name certainly wasn’t on any of the lists of buyers, that was for sure, neither were those of his now equally dead minions.

“we know there’ll be demand for a bunch of this too as a result, but we might need to put the starting bit down a little bit seeing as its repeats?” the goblin suggested, while Chugrall thought about for a moment and then corrected him by amending “No, set it higher, at least for the ones we know are going to be popular given their last showing”

“Ahhh, smart. Guess that’s why the Auctionmaster made you the boss, boss” the goblin replied, either genuinely impressed or skilled enough at being a suck up to make it sound so. It certainly got a nod of approval from the orc before he addressed the queen again, asking “If I may be so bold as to enquire, where did you acquire this remarkable collection?”

Sectonia had prepared herself for this question, considering if it got out that Consul P had been defeated before she could instate a new regent lord, chaos would descend on the city and they couldn't have that. ”Ah yes. We found many of these items down in the garbage dump underneath one of the giant towers of the city. Whoever had them before probably threw them out in boredom.” Sectonia said, playing on what she knew of interacting with Consul P. The guy was quite the simpleton at the end of the day after all. She then glanced at Kamek giving him a subtle idea of ‘back up this story’ from her glance.

”Well, ‘garbage dump’ gives a more filthy description of where we located them than what it actually was, I assure you they were and are in pristine condition, but yes, it seems their former owner no longer had any use for these items” Kamek agreed, catching on just fine, before adding that it was ”a shame really, but fortunately we where, hmmm, tipped off and were able to recover these objects, and with your help I am sure we can get them into more worthy hands, yes?”

“I see” Chugrall replied, his tone giving away that he had mentally downgraded his perception of their pedigree a fair amount as a result of learning about this dumpster diving. He seemed to be going along with it, however, until a fearful look flashed across his face as he fully understood the implications. It was swiftly smoothed away and replaced with professionalism, but he did then lean in to clandestinely ask “are you quite sure there will be no … consequences for this? I simply cannot help facilitate you if a certain … individual would take offense to the sale of these items”

”Not at all.” Sectonia and kamek said in near unison, although with very different inflections.

”He did toss them out, so how would he recognize them?” Sectonia said.

”I’m sure he’ll never think about them again” Kamek agreed

”Well, yeah, course he won’t because he’s-” Bowser began to say, not getting what they were doing at all with their lies and half truths about the nature of how they had claimed the treasure horde.

”Very flighty. You know how unpredictable he is.” Sectonia said, cutting off Bowser before he let slip with his big mouth the truth of what happened with consul P.

”Indeed, and the less that is said about him the better” Kamek agreed, speaking rather blatantly to Bowser while saying this. He still looked confused, but managed to take the hint at least.

Chugrall was, understandably, just a touch suspicious of this, but as he glanced between the growing pile of treasures and the trio representing the trouble said treasures might bring, he seemed to come to a decision “We will need to ensure that the auction is, hmm, discrete, to ensure that everything goes smoothly, and there will be a token fee for that, but otherwise I believe we can indeed go ahead with the sales”

Greed, it seemed, had won out. Now only time would tell how well it went.

Time told rather soon, in fact, as once they were coming to an end of sorting the items into piles of auction and not, a familiar looking blue robed and wizard hatted skeleton came through the door of the auction house, followed by a siren of the mermaid guard. The aquatic officer moved by swimming along in a magical current floating around her, and had a massive sword sheathed at her side, though she seemed not at all prepared to draw it, and instead was doing her best to not look annoyed.

The skeleton glanced around, got a nod from one of the other proprietors of the house who had, along with a fair few others been keeping an eye on proceedings, and then stormed towards the trio while crying out “That’s them officer! Those are the curs who have my painting!”

“So you have been saying” the nameless officer who would much rather be dealing with one of the two low level invasions of the city replied, before adding that “you’ve yet to say how you know this”

“Isn’t obvious! The painting is of me!” the sorcerer known as Tim declared as he stopped right beside the portrait of, well, himself, that was currently sitting among their treasures and gestured to it with both hands.

Hearing the commotion and seeing the presence of one of the town guard alongside an irate proprietor, one of the goblins rushed to go grab the orc who would be processing all of these current actions. As Tim the sorcerer was trying and failing to get the attention of the town guard to get ‘his’ painting back from the auction, the Orc stepped up. “Ahem, what seems to be the problem here?”
“That picture is mine! It's a picture of me!” Tim said before the officer could even begin to muster a response, clearly showing she didn’t want to be here. Knowing where some of these items came from, it wasn’t impossible for this to be true, but he wasn’t going to let this get in the way of profits.

“Now now, a picture of you doesn’t make it yours good sir. It could be yours if you win the auction however. A giant picture of yourself drawn by a local artisan would be quite the prize.” the orc said, speaking as if this wasn’t the first time something like this happened.

“Oh no no, don’t you dare try and sell me back what was stolen from me” the skeleton replied “I don’t know how these nobodies got it out of the hands of that brat, but I want it back. It is my property. Mine. I could find you the artist if you insist, but you” he pointed at the siren officer “should have a police report that I submitted when it was taken”

“Yeah, no we throw those out” she told the seething skeleton, clarifying that “Anything the little guy does is de facto legal after all, what with him being an absolutist dictator and everything. Technically I should be reporting that this was stolen from him, probably”

There was a moment of silence as everyone held their breath, before she realized they were terrified that she might actually mean that.

“Not that I’m going to. Obviously. None of you are gonna say that I looked the other way, and I’m not gonna say anything about this. Deal?” she offered; a deal that was quickly taken by all. Nobody was on P’s side, and no one wanted to draw his ire either.

That moment of unity quickly passed however, as Tim cycled them all the way back around to “but it is my painting still, and however these miscreants got their hands on it, the right thing to do would be to return the people's property to them!” an insistence that was clearly self motivated, but it still did have some support, before he went on “besides, I won’t be paying whatever price you set out of spite, and who else is going to want a painting of me anyway, hmmm?”

Seeing an opportunity, Sectonia took note of the situation. ”Ahem, well… Currency and payment come in all shapes and forms. We did find this portrait of yourself, if you are not interested in paying in money, what else could you offer us? Seeing as you seem to have some form of clout, being able to get in here and all, what else could you offer us?” Sectonia said. The orc began to protest, but Sectonia silenced him with a finger, giving him a ‘some things can be worth more than gold.’ look, seeing what opportunity this could give her and the rest of the group.

The skeleton looked about to launch into another triad on spite, so Kamek helpful offered an addendum along the same theme of ”Think of it as a finders fee”

Tim ground his teeth, and then decided “Hmmmf, well, I suppose” before removing his Wizard hat and saying “Seeing as you are a monster of magic, here” before putting it atop Kamek’s robed head.

”Now wait a mom - oh. Hmmm. I do believe this is enhancing my magic somehow”

“5% flat, and 10% increased hit thanks to it making a set with your robes” he explained, before saying “now can I have my painting, thank you? I need to go home and enchant a new hat. My head feels cold already”

Looking at the hat to make sure it was of quality, Sectonia shrugged. ”Toss in the ability to use your enchanting services for a good price and I suppose that will do.” Sectonia said, noting that with her token smelter, she could turn these hats into slight buffs for everyone who used magic. ”I know a few people who would be interested in such services.” Sectonia said, implying that Tim could possibly even make a slight profit from this deal.

“They’re meant to be for personal use but … maybe” Tim tacitly replied, before picking out and offering them a business card for his services, which seemed to be related more to blasting things with magic than merchandising, but it would do for her purposes.

“Well, now that that is sorted” Chugrall replied, reproachfully as one of the items he had been looking forwards to profiting from was handed away, right before someone else spoke up along the very same lines with “I do say, excuse me, I believe that I won that very vase at this very auction house, surly you have the paperwork?”

Seeing how they were going to handle this, Kamek moved to try and broker a mutually beneficial deal, when a strong hand rested on his shoulder

“I should note that your assistant signed a contract, and I can hardly have you simply give everything away after we looked it over now can I? Lest you end up in the house’s debt as a result” the orc told him sternly, as some of the armed help tightened their grip on their weapons incase this got ugly one way or the other “So I suggest you make sure you have something to sell after all this charity”

”Ah, well now, there is no need for that sort of language, I’m sure we have, ah, something”

”Yeah. We have this hat Rika got from her own efforts, no one is gonna come claim that” Bowser informed them helpful, as he pulled out the solid gold and shining with glossy wealth Sparkle Time Cheese Hat the ship girl had gotten from crushing the spirit of a humble cheese slime.

The orc took one monocle popping look at the object, and the issue was settled.

Sectonia also gave the orc a bit of consoling advice. ”And if we make more deals like with Tim there, you’ll have access to normally unavailable services. Services that could net you some interesting profits later down the road.” But she did concede that situations such as what happened with Tim were rare.

There did end up being a few however, as word got around both of the source of the items, and of the deal they had made to return them. A few genuine requests with evidence of ownership where made, mixed in with attempts at scamming resulted, but a lot of the time it was hard to genuinely prove that an item belonged to a specific person (the loss of the reports which could have proved this got the siren a fair amount of grief that she patently refused to take), as most were not so blatant as to be portraits of their owner.

There was plenty of time for this, because as it turned out, simply showing up with a bunch of stuff did not prompt an auction, and instead they had to wait for the evening to roll around. Much to her annoyance, Sectonia had to wait. Bower got bored after an hour in and, based on a suggestion of his advisor, the King left with pockets stuffed with miniaturized toys and with said advisor in tow, leaving the queen to deal with the rest of the affair.

On the plus side, this also meant she had complete control over what they could use the earnings they acquired from the auction to bid on other items in that very same auction, with their goods not being the only ones on offer after all. Although as time went on and the auctions started, Bowser having left out of boredom, Sectonia would find her items weren’t on auction at this time.

There were only 3 items up for sale at this time that Sectonia had even any interest in. CAnned knowledge, an item that granted dubious knowledge and could be used to share knowledge between people, although it was for a price that Sectonia thought wasn’t all that useful of an item. Sure it would make explaining the whole spirit thing easier, but that didn’t take much time at all anyway.

The second item however she found interesting, a camping set that would make dealing with the wilderness much better. She wasn’t about to go slumming it in uncharted wilderness, and considering this world was vast, she figured at some point they’d have to camp out. It was easy to use and above all was magical. Or as the auctioneer said. “And this is the Deluxe Camping Set. Comfortable bedrolls, Interdiction Torches to help keep away critters, a sophisticated tinderbox, cooking equipment like a spit and a crock pot, a water filter, and even a couple tents. Essential for long-term expeditions most anywhere, especially underground.” What got Sectonia interested is that due to its magical nature, it could size itself to whoever needed to use it.

The third item was a flute that, when played, summoned some cute red blobby bug that seemed to just do its own thing before leaving. Considering the low asking price, Sectonia wasn’t too impressed with what was essentially a ‘pet’ summoning flute. At least not now.
And with that the auctions were concluded. Thinking she would get a bit of a buffer from her auction sales to offset the cost of this item, Sectonia bid and bought the camping set, costing her 1000 geo. Well, it would’ve been 1000 geo, but as she would find later on when the auction house came to claim its prize from her, it ended up costing her 1150 geo due to the ‘exchange rate’ of the auction house funny bucks. She was NOT happy about this when the auction was over, as she and the koopas assumed that their items would soften the blow of buying things here at the auction, not that they’d pull THIS. She made a note to burn this place to the ground if the returns from the items they listed were pitiable…

Still, with this aggravating ordeal done, Sectonia moved to meet with the rest of the groups to figure out where to go next.
Hidden 12 mos ago 12 mos ago Post by Double
Avatar of Double

Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 29 min ago

It’s About Time

Location: Aether Resort - Edinburgh MagicaPolis
Ace Cadet’s @Yankee, Red’s @TruthHurts22, Mewtwo’s @Double, Big Band
Word Count: 7,193

Exp: +8

While they were dealing with the Aether Foundation trainers, Mewtwo was able to spot a lucky find. One of them had an ether among their meager supply of Pokémon medicine, and Mewtwo quickly grabbed it and sprayed the medicine on himself. It wasn't a full restore of any kind, but that at least gave him a good bit of his PP back, which he knew he would need for the upcoming confrontation.

Once he and the Seekers had entered the museum-like room, they began overhearing snippets of a conversation between L and someone else. They didn't sound like they were in agreement, and the stranger mentioned something about a "Flame Clock", whatever that meant.

But Mewtwo began to slowly realize that what he thought were statues or wax figures of Pokémon, weren't actually that at all. They were real as if frozen in place somehow. And Mewtwo's blood began to boil. Right about then was when their presence was noticed.

<Did you really think I wouldn't follow you here, Consul?> He asked, projecting thoughts to L for the first time since he met her. Mewtwo generally preferred not to communicate except with Pokémon or humans that he trusted. But for this vile human, he would make an exception.

Wonder Red stayed back, letting Mewtwo take the frontline for the encounter. This was all more personal for him, it seemed. Not that Red had spent much time with Pokémon, but seeing your kind put up as display would shake anybody, certainly.

”Head of the Aether foundation, Consul L,” Red began in a lull between Mewtwo and herself, ”before we come to blows, please elucidate for us what your Consulate has against our organization. Enough to declare war and siege on our headquarters?”

“Do you not intend to dethrone Galeem?” N raised an eyebrow, though it lay hidden beneath his helmet. “Your merry little band’s been killing Guardians, after all. Which means you intend to destroy the world. Our world. Our ‘endless now’.” He spoke those last three words in little more than a reverent whisper. “So naturally we will fight to protect it.”

"Why?" the Cadet asked in confusion. The very fact that they could mention Galeem meant they weren't under its spell. They had to know that the world they were all living in now wasn't natural or normal. "What are you all getting out of this? Whatever it is, it can't justify keeping the whole rest of the world hostage!"

N snickered in a most smarmy fashion. “Getting? Why, just everything we could ever want. That’s the beauty of total domination: an entire universe of secrets to unravel and master. Not to mention infinite test subjects. Like your little friend, what was her name? Hmhmhmhmhm.” He let out some sadistic laughter through his nose. “Either way. A pretty sweet deal, wouldn’t you agree?”

“So gauche,” L sniffed. “You may think of me as a curator, if you wish,” she told the Seekers with an air of nonchalance. “There is so much ugliness out there, and lives are worth so little. Here one day, gone the next. My role is one of passionate archival.” She looked around at the room, a proud light in her eyes. “What you see here is merely the…tip of the iceberg, so to speak.”

The hunter was stunned. Such a blasé outlook on other people's lives already told him that they'd probably never see eye to eye with the Consuls if their goals were truly so selfish. When the Seekers had to take the lives of people in their way it was for a greater purpose, and most still struggled with it. Reducing people to experiments and art pieces was beyond the pale.

“Psychos,” Band muttered. He readied himself to step forward, only to be struck by the sheer anger radiating from one of his allies. After a glance at Mewtwo, he gave the Consuls a knowing side-eye. “Y’all done funked up now.”

<How dare you…? These were innocent Pokémon! Trainers who treat their Pokémon like this… deserve no mercy!> And then he started attacking. Mewtwo used Psychic to start grabbing anything and everything around him and hurling it all straight at L. The only things he didn't throw were the frozen Pokémon.

The Consul didn’t move an inch. Before the thrown objects could hit her, they came to a dead stop in the grip in the brawny arms of a brolic Ultra Beast. After absorbing the force it gently set L’s furniture down by her sofa, careful not to tarnish the expensive items. “All trainers treat their Pokemon like this,” L deadpanned. “Much worse, in fact. Insatiable, they collect more Pokemon than they could ever need or want. Some even strive to ‘catch them all’. Do you know how many there are? Over one thousand! And what becomes of all those Pokemon, save a half-dozen favorites?” She shook her head sadly. “Left to rot in their balls and boxes, never again to feel a human touch, or see the light of day. Then favorites and prisoners die, and turn to ash, and precious memories fade away.” She cast her hands around the room. “But not my precious pets. Rather than suffer in isolation, I preserve them in all their beauty, never to crumble and fade away, safe in my loving arms…”

Her eyes drifted proudly to the statues that flanked the room’s entrance on either side, unnoticed by the Seekers as they came in. There stood the frozen bodies of a young girl and boy, both blonde with green eyes. They weren’t alone, either; there seemed to be at least a half-dozen of each, no two quite the same. Though L’s face was hidden, from her voice one could get a sense she was smiling. “...Forever.”

Now that Mewtwo had begun an assault, and realizing that debating these Consul was going nowhere for them, Wonder Red braced his knees, raised his fists, and stepped ahead of the rest. ”Team, diplomacy has failed,” he stated, keeping his eyes on the two Consul. ”We’ve come this far, and we can’t let them continue this reign of frozen terror! Stick together!”

It had been pretty wishful thinking that diplomacy would have worked in the first place. Both Consuls gave the Ace Cadet the creeps. And those statues - were they really people? Such villainy had to be brought to justice. His ship’s rigging was already unfolding from his armor faulds in preparation to take the two armored Consuls on.

“Yeah, I think we’ve heard enough.” Band took a ready stance, his brows lowered and his eyes cold. “I seen some bad apples in my day, but none half as a rotten as these. I’ll see you two prosecuted…” He deployed both Brass Knuckles and slammed one fist into the other’s palm, releasing a hard, flat burst of sound. “To the full extent of the jam.”

Resting her head in her hand, L closed her eyes. “Maybe once I’ve touched myself up with the Flame Clock. For now, you’ll have to satisfy yourselves N.” She set her wine glass down, and as she stood, her Ultra Beast disappeared into a wormhole. “Try not to break anything.” The next moment she teleported away in a burst of purple energy.

With an amused smile, N turned his attention to the Seekers. “Well then. Shall we take this outside?” Then he teleported, too.

Mewtwo lagged behind a moment. L’s disappearance really only served to infuriate him further. He used Psychic to grab ahold of some furniture and flung them at the walls in his anger. Without L’s Ultra Beasts here, nothing was going to stop them from exploding into splinters up on impact. He wanted to tear apart the entire resort in an effort to search for L. But that was when something else caught his eye.

These human children, could they be…? If he was right about them then the entire premise of this room really only disgusted him further. Doing this to one’s Pokemon was bad enough. But to their own children? It was sickening, but this did give Mewtwo an idea.

Band gave an annoyed grunt and turned around to head back the way he came, through L’s mansion and away from her frozen collection. Out front, standing smack dab in the center of the bridge back to the Aether Resort proper, he and the others found N waiting for them. “About time we got down to brass tacks,” he called at the Consul. “You ready to get beat?”

“I’m afraid that if anyone’s on the clock, it’s you,” N told the team. “Once you have a taste of my latent power over time, you won’t be back for seconds!” He raised his staff and upended it, facing its tines toward the ground. When he struck them against the path beneath him, a white, omnidirectional pulse emanated from his position. Ping. The ring expanded across the whole area in no time, but its only discernible effect seemed to be a returning, lower-pitched pulse from the four Seekers a moment after the first wave touched them. Po-po-po-pong. “Connection established,” N snickered, turning his fork to grasp in both hands. “Let us begin.”

N wasn’t the only one prepping for the fight. Wonder Red’s Striker appeared beside him, twitching in place, though Red held off on making it scream. ”Control over time?” He asked while readying his newly-acquired gun. Call it professional curiosity. ”Are you responsible for the statues in there, then?”

<Namely, these statues?> Came the telepathic projection from Mewtwo. Just then, he appeared among the Seekers via a teleportation, but he wasn’t alone. Levitating on either side of him were the statues of the two children, held aloft by Mewtwo’s physic powers. Mewtwo narrowed an icy glare at the Consul before them. <I’m curious, Consul, how willing you are to go through with this confrontation at the risk of harm coming to these two human children. Are you willing to risk incurring the wrath of your partner?>

Beneath his helmet, N’s lip curled. Even after that dramatic intro, perfect to start a fight with, these fools just couldn’t find it in them to get down to business. The topic of their whinging didn’t concern him in the slightest, but the idea that he was beholden to L in the slightest incensed him. “I don’t give a damn about that batty old woman’s frozen ash,” he sneered, holding up his staff. Its ends began to glow with pearlescent blue energy. “Allow me to demonstrate.” Whirling his weapon, he began to hurl orbs through the air two at a time. Though not fast, they automatically homed in on the nearest targets. Several dozen flew out before he started thrusting his staff instead, sending beams of the same roiling plasma across the ground as columns and through the air horizontal bars.

Band grunted and began to move. “Maybe y’all weren’t payin’ attention back there,” he huffed as he charged into the storm of projectiles. “These two clearly ain’t on the best of terms! So put a sock in it, and focus on sockin’ this clocksucker instead!”

The closer he got as he approached, however, the more he got a sense that something was off. While not the most agile, he could slide fast enough to dodge the first few orbs by a decent margin, yet somehow he felt their heat -and heard their ominous crackling- as if they just barely missed. Them being crazy strong would make up for that laughable speed, he thought. Still, before getting close enough to N he got cornered by a handful of orbs and beams. As he went to jump over a horizontal beam sweeping across the road, something happened–a slight, sudden snap, barely noticeable, and through no physical motion of his own. To his surprise the beam clipped him, knocking him to the ground in a fresh surge of burning pain. “Nngh!” he grunted, gritting his teeth. “What!?” That should’ve more than high enough. Taken by surprise and left hurting, he faced a pair of incoming orbs, and hopped to the side in a last-second attempt to evade them. For a split second he thought he cleared them, but to his surprise both hit him head-on, staggering him. “The hell’s goin’ on?” he growled as he deployed his cymbals to block. Forced into full defense mode and pinned down in blockstun by constant projectiles, he could no longer move forward.

“Whatever’s the matter?” N laughed. “Lagging behind all of a sudden? I thought you were going to hit me!”

Mewtwo didn’t show much of a reaction - either to the Consul’s response or his opening attacks. Two of his orbs homed in on him, but Mewtwo was able to continuously keep them away from him by using Teleport. First he teleported a safe distance away from the Consul - both of the statue’d children in tow - and placed them on the ground in a spot he was hoping was far enough away to not be caught in the crossfire. He used his power to fly around, wanting to get those pair of orbs to lock onto him again. When flying though, he sensed something strange. Like his body was… heavier than normal. But he paid it no mind for now. Even if he flew a bit slower, for the time being his Teleport was roughly unaffected so he could just use that if he felt he couldn’t outrun the orbs.

But then he got an idea. He teleported himself directly in front of N, then used Disable to attack with psychic flash-bang before immediately teleporting away again hoping to “trick” those orbs into hitting the Consul should he be successfully stunned by the Disable. That was when he noticed Band in a spot of trouble, as well, and he went to teleport again.

However, he did not account for the Disable failing. “There you are!” Immune to petty status effects, N raised his staff, surrounding it in a pillar of plasma. Ever since the Pokemon played this card, the Consul had been waiting to see if he’d use it to get in past the storm of projectiles. Though not quite fast enough to strike Mewtwo before the Disable, he would happily punish him afterward, especially since his orbs didn’t track nearly well enough for Mewtwo’s complicated gambit. When the Pokemon teleported to Band, he watched the energy bash physically miss. And yet his position seemed to adjust, a subtle snap, and the pillar struck Mewtwo instead. As if reality had been instantly amended in the Consul’s favor. Mewtwo gave out a cry of pain upon being struck. It wasn’t apparent to him what had gone wrong with the teleport just yet. But he still had enough wherewithal to complete his teleport.

The Pokemon teleported to Band, then used the same move again to teleport them both out of that rough spot.

<He’s done something to us. I’m still able to teleport for the most part, but my levitation feels… heavier somehow. Disable did nothing to him, so it sounds as though strategies like that will prove meaningless against him.> he telepathically projected to Band and to Red. One advantage to his form of communication was that he could pick and choose who to project thoughts to, so anything communicated to his allies would remain unheard by their enemies.

Up until this point the Cadet had initially hesitated to go on the offensive. Whatever that "connection" had been at the start of battle gave the hunter a bad feeling. In the back line he dealt with the barrage of energy beams sent their way either by shield or evasion and watched the fight unfold in front of him. It was clear that something weird was going on, but the Cadet didn't understand what it was yet. Attacks that by all rights should have missed their targets were instead direct hits on the Seekers in the front line. Did this Consul really have control over time itself, and was that what he was using to alter the battle?

The answers wouldn't come from standing around speculating about it. Might as well throw himself at the problem and see what information he could get, or what diversion he could cause. It was then that the Cadet made his approach, heading toward N with the mini cannons of his rigging firing, testing the range of N's abilities even as he got closer. The location N had chosen had no cover for the projectiles, but undeterred by how Band's charge had ended up the Cadet relied on his shield and shelling to break through.

With N’s focus on shooting at Mewtwo and Big Band, the Monster Hunter’s approach caught him somewhat off guard. His first few on-target shells burst against the Consul’s armor like cherry bombs, instantly getting N’s attention. So the red-haired warrior joined the fight, did he? It would take more than a couple seconds’ observation to see through this. “Hmph.” The next moment the barrage stopped hitting him, and though ostensibly due to moving laterally to avoid them, the first few actually passed straight through him like he wasn’t there. Then went on to blow up against the side of the Aether Resort’s main building, shattering a window or two in the process. N struck the butt of his staff against the ground, then held it laterally. Spark orbs appeared in the air around him, bolts of electricity connected them, and the lightning links began to move. In a matter of seconds, a constantly-shifting labyrinth of lightning surrounded him.

The maze slowed the Ace Cadet's advance, nearly putting a stop to it altogether. Its sudden appearance first saw the hunter run right into the electric chain that formed its walls, the shock paralyzing the hunter just long enough for one of the energy shots flitting around to smash right into him. The Cadet shook off the hit, but whatever advantage he'd initially had evaporated. Maneuvering around the shock orbs and the lightning bolts connecting them all while blocking the rest of N's attacks was an uphill battle.

"You think we won't fulgur this out and take you down?" The Cadet called out, trying to pick his way through the shocking, shifting paths in one piece.

Given a moment to breathe, Band stepped up to lend a hand. So far, N had been fighting defensively, polluting the air with different projectiles and hazards to wear the Seekers down as they fought to get in on him. It was a kind of fight the detective knew well, as much as he hated it. Nimble, trigger-happy opponents just loved big, slow targets like him. But that had given him plenty of experience. Band deployed his enormous kick pedal. “Impression!” he shouted out as he unleashed his Giant Step. Rather than knock N down, however, the tremor passed harmlessly beneath him. Bug-eyed for a moment, Band noticed for the first time that the Consul seemed to be floating barely inches off the ground. No shortcuts then. He groaned and got a move on, sliding over the ground in stream of sound.

As he worked his way in, avoiding and blocking the orbs, beams, and lightning links that turned the battlefield into one big, agonizing obstacle course, he considered what he’d seen so far. Mewtwo had mentioned a strange heaviness, but that didn’t explain everything that had happened. Somehow N was hitting his attacks when they should’ve missed, and dodging the Seekers’ when they should’ve hit. It wasn’t perfect, though. When he didn’t see Ace’s shots coming, a handful of them struck home. And how did all this relate to time, which N said he could control? Band’s mind buzzed with questions. If only he had the time to answer them.

On the dangerous road to melee range, Band took shock after shock, and more than one errant orb flying in from out of sight. “I’m too old for this crap!” Just as Band was finally getting close, N turned his attention the big man’s way. “Tsk, tsk.” The Consul used his staff to create a square of lightning links and sent it straight at Band, who narrowed his eyes in anticipation. No way over, and with more links and plasma pillars to either side, no way around. If he blocked this he could easily get locked down again, though, so he knew he had to push through. “...Lay back!” At the last moment, Band jumped and pulled off a massive drop kick, turning himself horizontally so he could fit through the gap.

He landed heavily on his back the next moment, but forward-teched with a blast of sound from the instrumentation on his back to fly back to his feet. Without a second’s hesitation he launched himself at N, his huge Brass Knuckle extended to pound the smarmy projectile enthusiast right in his smug face. He armored through a whole bevy of last-second shots, then punched straight through N’s head, though not in the way he would have liked. His fist sheared through without resistance, like N wasn’t even there, and N slid off to the side a second later. “Too late!” he chuckled. Forming a beam of plasma around his staff, he struck Band like a baseball and sent him flying. The detective felt the impact a brief moment before it actually hit him. “You just missed me!” A flurry of orbs flew after Band to chase him down.

For a time, Wonder Red stayed back along with Ace Cadet, seeing the frontliner’s methods and effectiveness while avoiding the slow onslaught of projectiles. Unlike the brutish angel that N sent after them the previous day, Wonder Red wasn’t taking too many chances against him, being a Consul with control over time, or so he claimed. Seeing it in action, however, was certainly helping to back the statement up. Attacks that the team would have perfectly cleared any other time suddenly hit, as if Band or Mewtwo never made moves to avoid them to begin with. Not to mention the matter of actually striking N, as that appeared to be the inverse problem, where their attacks went right through him as though he wasn’t there.

All these were things the others were well aware of by now, but it always helped to take a peek into a person’s mind, right?

Having managed to avoid most of the space-shifting shenanigans N was causing (due to not being engaged), Red had his Striker shriek, piercing the battlefield with its shrill, dazing cry, summoning a handful of Hollow from the stonework beneath them. Red wasted no time in constructing Unite Sword, slashing it ahead of himself as he made his advance. With the projectiles being static and lightning, they would be absorbed by the Morph’s unique conductive properties.

”Mewtwo!” Wonder Red called to the Pokemon, pointing to his own head when it looked at him. Hopefully its telepathic powers worked both ways, since Red was strategizing in a way N couldn’t trace: with his thoughts. ”On me - if we can strike in tandem, we might be able to beat out Consul N’s method of dodging!”

With the tactic (assumedly) passed along, Red pushed ahead with renewed aggression, swinging and stabbing his Sword to clear a path, and to hit N with.

Mewtwo offered a silent nod in response, but he mentally projected a reply to his ally. <Worth a try.> But rather than immediately move, Mewtwo kept his distance and began charging a Shadow Ball. He’d hang on to it until he saw Red make his move. Only then would Mewtwo use Teleport to put himself right behind N to try and hurl that Shadow Ball at point blank range.

With Band dispatched for the time being, N returned his focus to the others. Though both a juggernaut and a powerhouse in his own right, Ace had run into trouble when faced with the electrifying array of lightning links and plasma beams. His lateral movement was being blocked at every turn, and he couldn't go up and over it with nothing to grapple to nor a way to pole vault. While he could take quite a high voltage, the repeated shocks due to dodging projectiles and ending up too close to the electric chain was wearing on him. Instead of risking sudden movement he blocked as much as he could, but a shield couldn’t block projectiles that hit him from behind. The bevy of damage he’d taken while trying to weave his way in forced him to disengage and focus instead on stopping the pain train bearing down on Band. That left Red and Mewtwo. While the former charged straight at him, the latter stayed far away, building up power in a projectile that couldn’t conceivably hit from such a distance. N wasn’t stupid. He took his staff in both hands, projected a huge, bat-like pillar of plasma from it, and took Red’s challenge head-on. Their almost comically large weapons slammed together again and again in a colossal sword fight, every impact a reverberating burst of energy particles. As he fought N rose higher into the air, giving himself a positional advantage as he waited for his chance.

There! An instant before Mewtwo even seemingly disappeared, the Consul turned off his beam, allowing Red’s mighty swing to hurtle by unimpeded and send him off balance, hopefully into some nearby lightning links. He transitioned his own swing into a backward thrust using the blade on the end of his tuning fork’s shaft. From his perspective, the Psychic Pokemon would appear behind N and unleash the Shadow Ball, unaware that what he was seeing did not represent reality. In truth, N had all the time he needed. A split second after Mewtwo thought he blasted N in the back, he found himself stabbed in the middle instead, his Shadow Ball never released. At the sight of him reeling in shock and pain, N couldn’t help but gloat. “So predictable!” he laughed. “You should’ve said ‘nothing personal’, just for good measure. At least that cliché won’t be the last thing…” Power built up between the forks as he aimed his staff at Mewtwo’s noggin. “...to run through your head!”

N’s confidence, while earned, was more than a little misplaced, thinking that a simple missed swing would stagger Wonder Red for long. A moment’s distraction to diffuse the lightning barriers nearing him, Red turned to see Mewtwo at N’s mercy, though the Consul’s back was facing him. Seizing the opportunity, Wonder Red de-morphed, letting his Strikers touch the ground as he leapt forward, through the air so he didn’t make a noise on approach, and the moment he was close enough to N…

”Wondeeerrrrrrrr PUNCH!”

Mewtwo was pulled from N’s clutches, safely within one of Red’s Unite Morphs, and in the very same nanosecond the hardened knuckles of Unite Hand slammed into N’s back with all the force Wonder Red could muster.

Just as a massive barrage of plasma orbs, at least forty strong, burst forth in the mother of all scattershots, N’s target got whisked away. Before he could ponder what happened, N took a gigantic wallop to his back, and with a guttural exclamation of surprise he was sent flying. He hit the ground once, tumbling, but managed to buoy himself up with his levitation before another impact. By the time he slowed himself completely he floated only a few meters from the edge of the Aether Paradise building. With narrowed eyes he straightened up and turned to face the heroes. “Thought I’d let you have that one. A nice little confidence boost,” he sneered as he descended. “After all, it’s no fun if you lose hope too quick-!”

“GIANT STEP!” The moment N touched the ground, so too did Band’s enormous pedal. Ever since the Consul unknowingly avoided the first, the detective had been biding his time until he could use it properly, and now his moment had come. Knocked off his feet by the shockwave, N landed on his front, the wind punched from his lungs. “Spread out now, and all at once–get ‘em, boys!” Without a second to spare, Band began to slide forward, quickly closing the distance. As unbeatable as N’s ‘adjustment’ power felt, the team had taken him by surprise so far, and the extent of his ability seemed limited to that of his focus.

Growling, N got to his feet and floated into the air, his staff tucked under his arm like the butt of a rifle. He let loose a torrent of tracking orbs to wash away the incoming heroes. Band couldn’t dodge them and continue to advance, but he could do something. He deployed his cymbal, betting everything on it, and to his delight was able to parry the first projectile to hit him. “Uh-huh,” he snickered, parrying orb after orb as he closed in. Each one moved him a little bit forward, keeping up the momentum.

With Mewtwo safe from N’s assault, Wonder Red freed him from the Unite Morph. ”Are you okay, Mew Two?” He wanted to be sure the Pokemon was in well enough form to continue fighting. Before advancing on N, Wonder Red took out Artemis, and fired it off sporadically on approach, hoping to keep N’s attention divided with staggered shots.

Weakened and in pain, Mewtwo could only think of one way to deal with the storm of projectiles. He used Psychic to tear off a large section of the floor in front of him and erected it vertically to serve as a makeshift wall. Then he slowly pushed forward, letting the wall absorb the projectiles and shield him from any further damage.

Any homing shot that got by Band or Mewtwo's shield would be deflected by the Cadet's as the hunter moved up close with the others, making it all around easier to defend against the orb assault. The Cadet was singed by taking dozens of hits already, but he was still eager to get up close and personal to give this enemy of justice the comeuppance he deserved - the mini-cannons of the Cadet's rigging were swiveling forward already, ready to deliver it.

With the Seekers perilously close, N gritted his teeth. He whirled his staff overhead, then slammed the ground, letting loose a huge wave of white energy. The effort left him doubled over and hyperventilating from fatigue, however. Reacting quickly, Band and the others leaped into the air once more utilizing Red’s Wonder Jump, soaring right over the pressure wave. Ready to seal the deal, the detective deployed his cymbals once more for a deafening clash.

With the incoming energy wave, there was really only one strategy Mewtwo could employ. He started charging up his Shadow Ball, while still being obscured from view behind the makeshift wall he’d erected. Just before the energy could crash into him or his makeshift barricade, he put the attack on hold long enough to thrust his hands forward in a motion to hurl his erected wall straight at N. Then he Teleported.

Mid-air from the jump, Wonder Red aimed Artemis again, this time charging it to full, unleashing its full, delayed blast. ”Uniiiiiiite SWORD!” Uniting his Strikers into Unite Sword, Red rushed down N, spinning through the air like a sawblade - running right through the Consul and touching down behind him, just as the Artemis shot homed in.

As for the monster hunter, he kept things simple. The blade of the Master Bang hadn't gotten a chance to leave so much as a scratch on the Consul's armor, but he was looking to change that. He was almost in range, a little more and he could use his Crush Shot and start a Sword Dance and put the pressure on N. So close to closing in, the Cadet didn't stop to think about using a lifepowder or anything of the sort, just going in for what he hoped would be the kill.

"Try getting out of this one!" he taunted, bravado reignited.

If this all worked out, then the consul would be unaware of Mewtwo’s charged up attack. And furthermore he should in theory be too distracted with dealing with the section of floor being flung at him to notice Mewtwo’s teleportation and subsequent reappearance near his flank in an attempt to unleash another fully charged Shadow Ball at point blank range.

A cymbal, a slab of metal, a shot, and a supersized swordblade, all descending toward N like judgment from on high–the situation looked grim.


As the heroes closed in, a bubble of power welled up around the Consul, crimson and unstable. “BEHOLD!”

The pulse struck the heroes, and a bizarre phenomenon took place. Each stopped as if frozen in place. In their individual perspectives, everyone else began repeating actions on a split-second loop. Band’s cymbals swung together, but never met, instead jittering back to their original positions to swing towards one another again. Red’s swordblade jerked back and forth as if he couldn’t decide whether or not to swing; the shot from Artemis didn’t move through the air, but its energy continued to fluctuate and stream as if still in flight. Ace ran furiously in place, the metal on his person and in his hands glinting as they moved back and forth. Mewtwo’s torn-out chunk hung in the air, and the Pokemon himself fluctuated in the startup of releasing his charged Shadow Ball. Worse still, the sounds were stuck, too.



Band struggled, trying to deploy instruments, swing his arms around, anything at all, but he seemed completely stuck. Of course, it looked like N was too. This had to be his doing, but what was he doing? His mind raced, trying to figure out what was going on and how it benefited the Consul, but in a state of confusion and panic he couldn’t determine anything. The seconds ticked by. Five, six, seven, eight, nine…


Suddenly, everything changed. A cacophony of unintelligible sound slammed into him like a freight train, but the next instant it was gone. In a blink, Band found himself standing on the ground. His Brass Knuckles were out as if he’d been punching with them like he planned, but he never got that chance…did he? Red stood ahead of him, his sword embedded in the wall of the Aether Paradise building. When did he get there? Way behind Band, Mewtwo’s Shadow Ball violently exploded against the front of L’s mansion in a burst of ghostly power. That was the last thing he noticed before pillars of plasma blazed across the battlefield, and a lightning storm swallowed him up. Everything else gave way to a horrible maelstrom of searing, electrocuting, agonizing pain.

After a few seconds the punishment subsided, and with a groan Band fell to his knees, then slammed down on his stomach. Everything hurt, and his mechanisms weren’t responding, though he could scarcely find the strength to call upon them anyway. He couldn’t look around very well, but the gasps and moans told him the others all fared much the same.

“Hehehehe.” N’s laugh was slow, sinister, and drawn-out with relish. He was standing in the middle of the group of fallen heroes. Band wanted nothing more than to punch the smug sonuvagun’s lights out, but all the fight had drained from his body. “Well? What do you think? Or are you too awestruck by Amy power…no, my mastery…ohh, my unbeatable dominion over time?”

For once even Wonder Red’s energy was sapped. In the figurative, physical sense, as well as the energy of his suit’s battery, inexplicably run dry. It was clear that N wasn’t a Consul to be taken lightly. So why humor them for the fight? In between breaths Wonder Red tossed out a question. ”What… what did you do to us…?”

“Oh? Curious, are you?” N was clearly loving this. “Since you’ve got only a few seconds left, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to clue you in.” Snickering, he planted the butt of his staff and leaned on it. “I’m a scientist, you see. I love unraveling new things, and twisting them to suit my own ends. A little mad science here, a demonic ritual there, I’m always finding ways to keep myself…hmhmhm, busy.” The Consul waved his hand dismissively. “But nothing tickles me quite as much as the one power that I can truly call ‘mine’. The power to manipulate one of this world’s most erudite, underpinning phenomenons. Once I’ve established a connection…” He reached out a hand toward Red. “I can delay incoming actions. In the end, the reality you’re experiencing…” With an unseen grin, he closed his fist, as if crushing the superhero in his hand. “Lags just a little bit behind.” He then placed his hand on his chest. “Of course, as the host I enjoy certain privileges. Keeping me one step ahead. And it doesn’t stop there, oh no.” His shoulders shook from his mirth. “What you saw and experienced just now? Nothing more, and nothing less, than the complete and utter obliteration of time, and all memories formed therein. Your intentions are laid bare, locked in, and erased–all that remains are the consequences. And I alone may act upon them!” Suddenly serious, he took his staff in both hands, preparing to cast. “This is the power of Latency. The power of Consul N!”

"Pompous pain in the Astalos..." the Cadet hissed, starting to pull himself together to stand again. The 'connection'... so from the start none of them had a chance? That couldn't be true, he'd seen some of their attacks land. There was no way the Consul had let it happen, not this kind of jerk who seemed more likely to want to rub in their faces that he hadn't taken a hit.

It had to be possible to beat him, even with such a disadvantage. It looked like everyone was just about down for the count, and the Cadet regretted not trying to mitigate the damage done earlier. He could do it now if they stopped whatever the Consul was about to unleash. But the question was how? The echoes of pain from the N's bombardment made the Cadet's mind sluggish, he struggled to think of something. Blocking the Consul's sight might work, but there was no telling if a paintball would do the trick if he even managed to throw it accurately after the damage he'd taken. The only other option he could come up with was to strike fast enough that the man wouldn't see it coming, which would also be asking a lot due to the state he, and the others, were in. However the Ace Cadet was overcome with the feeling of needing to do something once more, and so with his hand wrapped tight around the hilt of his sword he lashed out with his fading strength. It was an attack of defiance if nothing else.

As enjoyable as overdone theatrics were, they did confer one important drawback: a tendency to focus on the wrong thing. In the moment before N, flourishing and waving his staff as he erected pillar after pillar of plasma in preparation for his climactic finishing move, the Monster Hunter somehow found it within himself to make a last-ditch attempt. “What!?” N, taken by surprise at the height of confidence in his imminent victory, stumbled backward with a hand clamped down over the fresh gash on his chest. There stood Ace, an almost gleeful look on his face as he fought to stay standing, full of hope that he’d managed to stop the big bad’s all-out attack just in the nick of time.

If only N had been one hit away from defeat.

“You heroes. So stubborn.” He gave a wry laugh, more annoyed with himself than anything. “You never know when to QUIT!” With a snarl he swung his staff, enveloped in a beam of energy. His baseball swing sent Ace flying, tumbling him along the ground until he came to a stop against the side of the Aether Paradise building, farther away than the others. Then N span his staff one final time. “Hmph. It’s been fun killing time with you, but I’m on the clock, so enough tocking. It’s high time we bring this little sideshow to a close.” He swung his staff, and the pillars of plasma blazed forward, raking across the ground without barely any space between them. They bore down on the Seekers like satellite lasers, promising to be the last thing that any of them ever saw. “Time to die!”

Gritting his teeth, Band squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn’t move or fight back–this was the end. But death never reached him. When he lost consciousness, a mysterious Felyne rescue crew whisked him away on their crude wooden cart, disappearing with him into the ether as they bore him back to base. The same went for Red and Mewtwo, saved from certain destruction and spirited away to safety. That just left Ace, with no charges for his Rescue power remaining and only a couple seconds until the pillars swallowed him up too.

He pushed himself up onto his elbows, eyes wide. They'd been thoroughly beaten due to N's insane ability, but at least the Seekers would live to fight another day - he'd seen the Felynes cart the other three off. And that just leaves me, the hunter realized with a start as the beams of energy closed in. Spurred by incoming death he searched through his satchel of tricks, looking for anything that would save his life. His hand wrapped around something that had sat there for a few days now, and when his harried grip closed around it the bone splintered. Light enveloped the hunter, surprising even himself, just before he completely vanished from the area.

When the light died down and the energy faded, they left melted furrows in the surface of the Aether Resort, but try as he might N couldn’t find any trace of ash. Could he have annihilated the poor fools so utterly that not even the faintest traces remained? No…whether spirits, or the itemized leftovers of destroyed spirits, something would’ve surely been left behind. He wrinkled his nose, a frown spreading across his masked face. Somehow, during the time he’d been blocking his own vision with his needlessly large laser array, the heroes had escaped.

Disappointing. After a moment, though, N gave a hmph and banished his staff. He couldn’t see his adversaries anywhere, nor any sign of them, but such a trivial thing wasn’t about to stop a good monologue. “Run all you like, weaklings. You can grasp for power, amass more lambs for the slaughter. The power of Latency renders all resistance futile. Sooner or later, you’ll wind up in my clutches again, and this time I won’t let you go. It’s just a matter…of time.”

Hidden 12 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 1 day ago

Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Sector 6

Lvl 9 (218/90) -> (220/90)

Lvl 3 (17/30) -> Lvl 3 (19/30)

Word Count: 789 words

The matter of their attire came up while they were planning how to get in, and Zenkichi looked himself over. "I mean, I'm not exactly the most fashionable guy in my office, but I don't look that bad, do I...?" His suit was fairly well-fitted, even if his white sneakers clashed somewhat garishly with them. His spectral Phantom Thief attire took the brunt of the dirt and grime of the day's shenanigans earlier, as well, leaving him looking eccentric enough to stand out, but not shoddy enough to stand out. With both Benedict and Goldlewis agreeing that he's best keep his head down nonetheless, Zenkichi was accepted as one of the group's hangers-on for going through without a press pass, however they decided.

Geralt was a guarantee for that role, as well, given that it was exceedingly unlikely he could get by with a press pass while looking like he was many centuries behind this place's technological level. He didn't even know how a camera worked, and while their main concern was getting passed the guards, there was no telling what they'd see on the other side. The Witcher quietly accepted that he'd likely be passed off for a bodyguard by one of the others, and given his resting murder face, that was probably their safest option.

While the others passed through the checkpoint, the group hanging around the teleporter entrance in the parking garage waiting around semi-awkwardly. "Never been in Sector Six before. Place basically has its own unit dedicated to handling it. So much corporate security and secrecy that I just accepted I'd never get the chance. Man, this is weird." Zenkichi kicked the ground, scuffing his sneaker and let out a sigh.

"Just hoping it's less miserable than the rest of this godsforsaken city." Geralt mumbled in return, carefully keeping an eye out and glaring down anybody who gave more than a single glance at the group.

After a short while of standing around, the teleporter started up, and they all went through, coming out in a...public restroom? Zenkichi paused for a moment before shrugging and getting out of the way of the others. "Good thinking," He complimented Blazermate and Giovanna before heading out and regrouping with the others.

Geralt, meanwhile, almost lost his eyes as they bugged out of his head for a moment, before blinking a few times and looking around more reservedly, letting out a small sigh. So much wealth, hoarded for greed and selfishness. He looked out over the Bay, closing his eyes. "A city of glass, and the most beautiful thing is still the water it tries to mimic."

Blinking a few times, he nodded. "Huh. Almost sounded like Yen there for a moment, though she'd probably appreciate the logistics this sort of place would take." He'd have to tell her all about this when they got back to Alcamoth.

Zenkichi had his chin in his hand, thinking about their next move. "Benedict or I might be able to try the same," he offered in response to Midna's plan, "Though it's a toss-up on whether that'd be a good plan or a terrible one. I wouldn't put it passed these people to call it in right away and demand to speak with a supervisor first or something..." Shaking his head, he shrugged. "Might be smarter for Ben to try that, anyway, given that he didn't go and blow his cover first chance he got..." Self-recrimination evident in his voice, Zenkichi shook his head to dispel the negative thoughts. He was trying to be better, and that included on tearing himself down over his mistakes. That just hurt the people around him, too.

Geralt, meanwhile, had another idea. A risky one, but one that might work. "Or I could just mind control them."

"I'm sorry you what?" Zenkichi whirled on the Witcher, confused. "You can do that?! Why didn't you do that before then!" The Witcher sighed and shook his head in response.

"Wouldn't have worked. Not on the golems, or robots, not on you, hell, not on really any of you. Easier to pull off on unsuspecting folks outside of a fight. Need to focus to give more complex commands, as well. And folk tend to realize when it's been done to their friend so I try to avoid using it unless I'm alone with somebody. That said, might be enough to get us a boat, then once it's done and we're on the other side I just tell them to sail back and forget our faces. They'll still remember some of it, but odds are we'll be far away by then. Up to you. Doesn't always work, though. Fair warning."
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Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
Avatar of Dark Cloud

Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 9 days ago

King of Nothing

Location: Home of Tears
Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud, Rubick’s @Scarifar
Word Count: 5220 (+6)

Rubick wondered where the team was going to go now. Nadia was right about one thing: the Seekers here were always getting separated in one way or the other, and it seemed this event was going to be no exception. When Nadia made the decision to go to King’s Station, he took a moment to think, then decided to chase after her. Wherever the undead cat lady went, trouble followed suit, at least according to the tales he heard from the others. It was just the kind of excitement Rubick was looking for. “Wait for meee~!” Rubick said to Nadia in a singsong tone, chasing after her. “I’m not missing the action this time!” If she heard him over the rain, though, she did not respond.

Less said the better, and in the rather imposing knights case he simply followed after Rubick "...I shall join thee." rumbling under his breath he left the table and lumbered after the strange fellow, not seeing any reason to linger for his mind and nerves gnawing at him in such a cramped place (for him) as the Terminal Cafe.

Jesse was feeling pretty good after the Seekers defeated their first Consul. While she took a bit of time to be by herself, she went to reunite with them a little while later. On her way back she saw Rubick heading away.

“You goin’ somewhere?” She asked.

Artorias bristled, caught off guard by the stranger calling after the Magus , nearly cracking his knuckles as he gripped the handle of his sword tightly only to ease slightly upon realizing this newcomer was no threat to him. "I know not…But if you arte an ally of the Magus…Follow us." with that the knight picked up the pace from his lumbering gait, surprisingly fast in his armor he easily caught up with the others.

“Uhh…” Jesse glanced between Rubick and Artorias. “Sure thing…your knightship.” She said. She just assumed this was a new ally of theirs or something. The lack of cohesion wasn’t great but they were a ragtag group of randoms from every possible universe, so it was probably going to be like this until they returned to some kind of Head Quarters.

After a thankfully briefer ride than the train they had taken to arrive at the Under, Rubick continued to follow Nadia. So far, most of the trip was rather uneventful, apart from the room full of crabs. Rubick thought the magical-looking crab was interesting, so he used Telekinesis to pick it up and launch it towards him, then blasted it with a Fade Bolt. When they finally came across the puzzle area, Rubick looked around the area with Nadia, trying to help find the solution to get past the gate blocking their path.

For a few minutes now the feral had been messing around with the strange mechanism all on her lonesome, and though she found no solutions she did find herself fascinated -not to mention a little creeped out- by a certain quirk this place possessed. Just when things seemed right on the cusp of opening up, she'd hit another dead end, this one all the more frustrating since she didn't understand it. As she stood in front of the fast-flowing canal, thinking with her arms crossed, the hat-wearing crustacean that had been residing stolidly by the smaller barred gate since her arrival suddenly rose into the air.

"What's going on!?" An unfamiliar, young-sounding voice cried out, making Nadia jump. Was that the crab talking? She turned as it flew past her and spotted Rubick, widening her eyes. "Release me this instant! Ouch!" The Magikrab flailed as Rubick nailed it with a spell, triggering a fight. Not only that, but the bolt immediately arced through the air and bounced between a handful of other crabs to aggro them as well. With a grunt of pain, the Magikrab reached out its pincer. "As custodian of the Stagmer-line," it announced, "I cannot let this stand!" It hawked up a pellet of astral matter and spat it right at Rubick, doing barely any damage.

In a matter of seconds things had gone from calm to chaos. Something the Magikrab blurted out concerned Nadia in particular, though. "H-hey, what're you doing?" she asked Rubick, jogging over. "Let the little guy go, he seems important!" If this crab had something to do with the train station, they couldn't just kill him, especially since he seemed to be a sentient being! With a hop she snatched him from Rubick’s line of fire. "Sorry, li'l bud! Here, hope this still works…" Thinking quickly, she manifested a Friend Heart and gave it to Magikrab, resetting him. She put him down, then turned toward a pair of mudcrabs, approaching the Seekers with clacking claws. Right now, these other crustaceans were a bigger problem.

Jesse arrived on the next paper sailboat. Stepping off, she looked around at the station, and noticed a bunch of clicking crabs heading towards Nadia and Rubick. “What, a bunch of crabs?” She asked, producing the Service Weapon.

"I guess so!" Nadia chirped, an amused glance thrown at Rubick. These clawful critters didn't look like too much of a challenge, but that hulking Rock Lobster might be another story. Making sure the Magikrab was tucked safely under one arm, she drew a box cutter. "Figured we'd save some for ya. Didn't wanna be shellfish!"

Rubick was disappointed to not be able to obtain the Magikrab’s Spirit, but the Friend Heart was of more interest to him now. He barely recalled something of the sort happening to him, and he thought he had seen at least one of the others doing it as well. It was a curious ability that apparently anyone could do, which made Rubick wonder if he could do it too. That train of thought would have to be delayed, though, as the crabs would come upon them. “Whoops! Apologies, friends!” Rubick said to them, training his staff on the incoming enemies. “That crab was just too tempting of a target to pass up.

Though uniform in theme, these crustaceans were wildly different in terms of abilities. As Nadia quickly found when she flipped one of the four with a kick and then stabbed it with her boxcutter blade, the mudcrabs had almost nothing going for them. Conversely, the two Kinglers could spray jets of water and barrages of bubbles, both of which hurt more than they had any right to. Still, they could be handled; as Nadia suspected, the Rock Lobster was the real problem. With a huge amount of health that slowly regenerated, its stony carapace shrugged off punishment. When it used its big claw as a shield against Nadia's swing, her blade shattered, its fragments lacerating her skin. "Meowch!" She disengaged with a backward hop and hurried to fit a new blade from her case into the hilt.

Rubick used his Power Steal on a Kingler to obtain its ability to fire water, then turned his attention to the mudcrabs close to him. One of them walked up to him and tried to slam its claw down onto Rubick, but he disappeared in a flash of white webs. He then reappeared on top of the crab. “Over here!/ Rubick taunted the other crab, who proceeded to swing its claw towards Rubick. He then leaped off the one he was atop, and the crab struck its ally, knocking it over. This in turn caused the crabs to begin infighting, smashing and pinching each other with their claws. Rubick found it amusing for a few seconds, then decided to wrap it up with a Fade Bolt that struck both of them and a blast of water from his staff, finally ending them.

A flash of a blade glinted from the corner of the room as Artorias joined the fight breathing raggedly he took a stance with one hand upon the ground and the other holding his mighty blade resting upon his shoulders "...RAAAAH" like a wild animal the knight barely restrained his bloodthirsty cry as he sprang forth, he was fast and brutal. He was going to rip them apart, cut them apart, kill them all. He spun, cut and flipped backwards as a gout of water nearly blasted the knight from a Kingler only for the crab to be cut to pieces by the wild knight. He was much faster than he appeared, and stronger than he looked for his strikes were enough to kill the weaker crustaceans with barely a swing of his weapon. His berserk onslaught affronted Nadia, and she hung back to give him plenty of space.

Artorias seethed and gritted his teeth as a hard and propelling force glanced his shoulders, the other Kingler moving to hit the knight on his blind side. Pain quickly became fuel for the knight's rage, Artorias' seething quickly became a snarl as he regained his footing merely stumbling backwards. He pivoted on his feet, lowered himself on his knees with a hand upon the grimey stone flooring growling low his mind was becoming lost to the maddening rage he could barely contain.

Another blast of water hit him yet it only proved to further enrage the knight, his knees springing him ahead like pistons. Finstertöter sank into the creature's body cracking its shell and making a sickening sound as flesh was rended. The only thing that stood against him now, was the mighty Rock Lobster.

It was busy though slowly snapping a claw where the feral had been standing making a shrill noise as it found nothing but air, from its side a terrible blow cracked the joint of its legs snapping it inwards "HRRRRRRRRAAAAH" Finstertöter cracked as it struck even the joints of the giant lobster though with enough force he hobbled the things back legs. Artorias felt his joints burn with pain, and he could only leap aside before the Rock Lobster whipped its giant claws around. He couldn't kill it with cuts or scratches, but he could break its shell with brute force.

The lobster moved towards him prepared to crush the knight with its claws, as if in challenge Artorias let loose a guttural cry leaping towards the great beast and slammed the pommel of his blade with all his strength and weight put into it with both his hands. He could feel his body ache in response to the mighty blow he struck yet he gritted his teeth once more, enduring the pain.
“Man.” Jesse said, watching, not even aiming her Service Weapon. “This guy’s intense. Where’d you find him, Rubick?”

In the Royal Waterways,” Rubick replied. “He was surrounded by these ratmen fellows, so I assisted him.

The monster seemed like it might respond to blunt damage, so Jesse plucked a nearby hunk of stone from the Earth and flung it at the lobster’s back with a flick of her wrist to support the hyped up knight. Rubick took the opportunity to Power Steal her Launch ability, and his eyes widened as he learned quite a bit regarding the strange artifact the ability actually originated from, but he chose to keep that to himself.

With the rage of Artorias backing it, even an ordinary pommel slam dealt a hefty wallop of blunt force to the monster’s carapace, spreading cracks across its surface. What it lacked in scope, however, Jesse’s telekinetic rock smash made up for. The tremendous, shell-shattering impact added real fuel to the fire, and after all this punishment the lobster’s goose was just about cooked. After planting a foot on one of the mudcrabs to pin it to the floor and carving it in half with her boxcutter, Nadia turned to see the Rock Lobster on its last legs while Artorias just kept whaling on the thing. “Jeez, it’s just a big bug,” she muttered, shaking her head. What was this guy’s damage?

She set down her sword and the Magikrab to conjure an orb of churning Hydro between her palms. “Hey, Tincan!” the feral called out as she ran in, neither knowing the knight’s name nor intending to use it if she did. “You sword-a need to CHILL OUT!” She leaped into the air, the Purrge of Vengeance swelling to five feet in diameter, and slammed it down on the Rock Lobster in an explosion of elemental water. With the monster wounded and its defenses compromised, the Blockbuster move helped finish it off in one fell swoop, and the residual tide also washed Artorias back. What she didn’t realize, however, was that doing so would trigger the gleaming knight’s aggression again–this time, against her. Without a clue she landed and stood up straight, wiping the back of her hand across her forehead with a sigh.

Artorias' eyes were blinded by rage, and something else that wasn't just the eyes of a man with a troubled state of mind. He grunted getting washed back into the wall, the knight rose just as fast as he fell and leapt at the feral, roaring and fully intending to kill. Both his mentality and instincts were driving him into action against another aggressor. Taken completely by surprise, Nadia had only the time to face him with a horrified expression before he struck.

Artorias collided not with Nadia but with a wall of loosely connected floating debris held together with telekinetic force. Jesse had zipped fast as a blink between Nadia and the knight, reacting as fast as she could to the fact that he was still Gleaming and Nadia had just hit him. Arms outstretched, she met Artorias’s lunge with her Shield, a bead of sweat running down her forehead. She stared at Artorias from through her large, see-through, horizontal wall of a Shield. “Oh, that’s no good,” Rubick said as he casted Telekinesis onto Artorias and tsking as he lifted him into the air. “You’re supposed to be attacking the crabs, not us.

Artorias struggled against the telekinetic hold of Rubick's spell to no avail, the knight roared in frustration for that was all he could do. Rubick’s words were ignored by the knight, or if he had heard the Magus' words they fell on deaf ears.

With the berserker successfully suspended, Nadia let out a sigh of relief, her shoulders going slack. She’d thrown up her arms in an attempt to block, but even she couldn’t guess as to whether or not it would’ve been on time if Jesse hadn’t stepped in. “That’s for the save, rock star,” she said, clapping her hand on the other woman’s shoulder. Then she scaled her shield of stone debris like a climbing wall. Once she’d scurried atop it she set her sights on Artorias, wiggled her tails, and pounced. “High time we put this bad boy to bed,” she called, summoning a Friend Heart. “...Good Knight!” In his blind rage Artorias swung at her, cleaving through the air with his greatsword’s merciless edge, but Nadia separated at the midsection to let his blade. Her lower half flew down to kick him in the nards, dealing the burst of extra damage her upper half needed to ram the Friend Heart into his helmet. After only a split-second of terrific pain Artorias was back to normal, in more ways than one. The light of Galeem was gone from his eyes, and his rage subsided.

Nadia’s lower half landed beside him, and her top half plopped down on top of it. “There!” she breathed, her chest heaving. “Feelin’ any better, Sir Loin?”

Groaning, he’d fallen to his knees, his body fully restored but his mind under pressure. It all came back to him, and instead of anger a heavy sadness weighed upon the knight like he never felt before.

Artorias stared at his gauntlets with outstretched hands shaking, his weapon clattering to the ground "No…No it makes naught a bit of sense-" he remembered suddenly the sharp pain, the snapping of sinew, a dark and terrible being deep in the bowels of the earth "By the grace of Gwyn…I can't have…No…" slowly he understood what came to pass, his failure and the choice he made when he could have saved himself.

The knight got up on his hands and knees, slowly picking himself up off the ground grasping his blade he regarded the two women with an expression of shame on his lips. "I-I know not what came over me…I was consumed by them, the darkness and had you not opened my eyes…I would have killed you, all of you. I would have become…" he would have become a monster in the body of a man, lost to his humanity or rather twisted by it yet he still felt it in him the darkness but it wasn't gnawing at him now.

Nadia crossed her arms, grinning. “Ehh, I dunno, I think I’d-a given ya a run for your money, tough guy.”

Artorias let his words trail and shook his head, shuddering at the thought of becoming a monster without purpose "I am Artorias, once a knight of Gwyn and a hero in the eyes of my people…I am ever in your debt." he hung his head, no doubt hiding the look of shame still on his face as a knight he had sullied his chivalry by raising his weapon against these people.

“No sweat, happens to everyone,” the cat burglar replied breezily.

“Yeah, it’s fine, Artorias. There’s a lot of that going around.” Jesse said. “There will be lots of giant monsters to fight, I’m sure of it.”

Nadia crouched down by the Magikrab, her head rested in one hand with her elbow on her knee. “Sure weren’t expectin’ you to talk, li’l guy! If I didn’t have those bread things back at the cafe I mighta gone for some crab cakes, ya know! Why didn't cha say anythin’?”

The Magikrab shuddered. “Oh, please, don’t joke like that, miss. As for why I kept quiet…well, you didn’t ask.”

Well, it would’ve been nice to know before I attempted to kill you. I probably would’ve considered not doing so,” Rubick said nonchalantly, shrugging.

“...Huh. I guess so.” Wearing a wry expression, Nadia scratched her head.

Jesse still wasn’t entirely sure what happened, so she just moved on, glancing at Nadia. “Uh. So. You’re lookin’ for something? We’re lookin’ for something’? Giant hole in the ground over there?” She pointed at it. “Is it really bottomless, who knows?”

“Do you have something for us to do?” She asked, like he might have a quest or something. Shit, she didn’t know.

Meanwhile the knight silently stewed, burdened by his guilty conscience with the recollection of memories that came back to him, a glowing flask appeared in his free hand that he drank.

The pain of battle melted away as he downed the draught, tasting both pleasant and unpleasant to him. It had been a taste he hadn't become accustomed to now that he could remember the little things.

The flask disappeared as quick as it had appeared from Artorias' hands, the topic of delving deep into the darkness or a pit with no end brought his attention quickly as it had been his duty long ago to venture into such places to root out the evils within.

"There arte…a great darkness below…I can sense it, and yet tis a force that is unlike any I hath felt before." Escaping the Mouldwood Depths, he remembered feeling something like a force he was both familiar with and hated yet his mind was too fraught by the feral mindset he had been plagued by.

"If it is to the depths thou shalt stride, my blade is at thy command as an Abysswalker it tis my duty to walk the darkness for the sake of the light." the weight of his burdens may still weigh upon him yet in this new place far from his homeland he may forge a new path to redeem himself, for if he truly were lost he would not have been given a chance to use his strength to uphold the light once more.

Nadia had not been expecting a soliloquy of medieval melancholy to cut into her response to Jesse. She raised an eyebrow at Artorias. “Uh, sure. Much appreciated. Why…do you talk like that?”

Rubick rolled his eyes, as if it were obvious, and then replied, “He’s a knight; they all talk like that.

An inquisitive look at Jesse as if to say I’m not the crazy one here, right? reminded Nadia of her original statement, so the feral quickly got back on track. “Oh, uh, forget that. Check this out.”

Jesse shrugged and frowned, at her look, and then turned to follow where Nadia went.

She jogged over to the side of the rushing canal that lay in front of the massive barred door. “So, I’m tryin’ to see what’s in there, right? Well, I figured I’d try turnin’ this big waterwheel to see if that worked, but I’ve been havin’ trouble. Watch this.” She stepped onto the water, skating atop it with her Shipgirl power, and cruised down the channel toward the opening that led to the seemingly bottomless abyss. When she pulled a lever on the wall next to it, a gate opened in front of the channel, allowing the water to flow out and down a long aqueduct that extended out across the empty space. The flow came to a sudden stop at a raised basin a little ways out, and after stepping off the stream onto the basin rim, Nadia pulled another lever to release the water again. It flowed down another aqueduct to the left and filled in another basin, where it stopped again. Nadia followed the stream to the second basin, where she turned and called back. “So far, so good, right? But there’s no lever on this one! And there’s these chests under the water here, but I can’t reach them!” She indicated the hole in the mechanism where a lever ought to go, then the surface of the water beneath her. “And watch this!”

She jumped over the closed sluice gate and ran along the dry bottom of the aqueduct, going farther and farther into the darkness until she could no longer be seen. A moment later, her voice sounded out from behind everyone. “Up here!” When the others turned, they found her standing atop the channel protruding above the waterwheel. It was a spatial impossibility–there was no way she could have worked her all the way back around in the seconds after she vanished. “Surprise!” she laughed, jumped down onto the stubbornly-unmoving waterwheel and then onto the ground. As she did, the sluice mechanisms reset themselves, restricting the channel’s flow back to its extent at the start. “Threw me for a loop at first. If ya go far enough, ya just end up back here. That’s why I’m purr-etty sure we need to get the water all the way to open the door. In other words, we need to do a wheely good job.” She put her hands on her hips, smiling. “Whatcha think?

“Sounds like a real conundrum.” Jesse said, eyeing the big door in their way. Buuut Nadia seems like she’s having fun.

Rubick tilted his head as he examined the puzzle. His mind raced, trying to discern a solution. He quickly came up with a few, and he decided to go with the most obvious one first. “Nadia, was it? Have you considered trying to open the chests first before the water reaches them?” Rubick suggested. “If the water is preventing us from accessing them, then we should prevent that scenario from occurring, yes?

The feral ruminated on that for a moment. Then her eyebrows shot up. “Oh! Good thinkin’, Rube! C’mon, let’s go give it a shot!” She led the way toward the room’s right-hand wall, where the canal poured out into the abyss-spanning aqueduct. Rather than pull the lever to let the water stream down the channel, she hopped down onto the other side of the sluice gate. With anyone who chose to follow her on her heels, she made her way forward, then hooked a left at the first basin, then continued on to the second. Sure enough, the chests were high and dry. The looter in her demanded that she pop them all open straightaway, but she managed to restrain her greed long enough to notice something important. “Uh, guys? I think there’s a second part…”

All three boxes sported crude writing carved into their plastic lids. The one on the left read ‘The lever is in this chest’. Meanwhile, the one in the middle read ‘the lever is not in chest one’. Finally, the one on the right read ‘the lever is not in this chest’. Furthermore, the Seekers could also find writing carved into the floor of the basin itself, which said ‘only one statement is true’. “Hmm…” Nadia scratched her head, deep in thought. “Is it the first one? If it’s tellin’ the truth, then the other two are lyin’…I think?” Her brows knit together. “But wait…if the third one’s lyin’, then the lever is actually in it. Ugh…”

Jesse didn’t say anything for a while, her finger on her chin. “M’kay, so…the lever can’t be the one on the left.” She said. “Because if it was in the one on the left, that would make its statement true, but that would mean it would have to make the other two statements false. Which doesn’t work, because the one on the right would be true. That’s two true statements, when there can only be one.” She explained. She began counting on her fingers, but what exactly she was counting was impossible to parse, even for herself.

“So that’s out, right?” She asked rhetorically. Nadia just blinked at her a couple times. Waiting for more.

“So let’s say the lever was in the middle box. That would make itself true, and the left box false. But again the one on the right would also be true, which is two truths, which isn’t allowed. So it can’t be in the middle.”

“So that only leaves-” She pauses a moment, rethinking everything she just said. “Yeah. So it has to be in the right one. Because that makes itself false, the middle box true, and the left box false, which is only one truth.” Jesse said, pointing at all of them as she mentioned them.

“Rubick, you’re a puzzle guy, right? Am I makin’ any sense here?” She asked.

The logic sounded pretty good to Nadia. “Alright, let’s give it a shot.” She cracked her knuckles, then her neck to either side, loosened up her shoulders, and finally rotated the switch. Dutifully the chest popped open, its halves thrown wide like a roaring maw poised to devour the heroes whole. Yet instead of snapping shut again with bestial ferocity, or disgorging some unutterable horror, the chest hung open. Within lay a metal rod, tipped on one end by a ribbed, red, rubbery grip. Just what the doctor ordered. “We did it!” Nadia cheered, like she’d helped solve the riddle at all. She seized the lever, vaulted up to the side of the basin, and plugged it into the waiting port. It slid in smoothly and clicked, firmly locked in place. “Crate thinkin’, Jesse!” When she tugged it down, the second sluice gate descended into the aqueduct’s bed. The team need only pull the second lever, and the ensuing torrent would wash all the way through to the waterwheel.

Jesse pumped her fist, hissing out a short little ‘yes’. Then she thought to return Nadia’s wit with some of her own, since she was feeling so smart. “Well, I’ve been known to think outside the box now and again.” She said, and her smile immediately turned into a little grimace instead.

Before going back to unleash the flow, however, Nadia couldn’t help but look back at the other two chests. Her eyes sparkled, and a virulent idea was coursing through her synaptic fibers, highly resistant to her better judgment. “Y’knoooow,” she began after a moment. “The clues only mentioned where the lever was. They didn’t mention anythin’ else that might be inside the other ones.” She wiggled her fingers cartoonishly, her tail twitching in anticipation. “Adventurers like us can’t leave any stone unturned, right…?”

“Could be anything. Could be gold, could be a grenade, could be a monster inside. Maybe the box is the monster.” Jesse said. “The only question worth asking is if it’s possible that any bad thing in those chests could be worse than living with not knowing what was inside for the rest of your life.” She said dryly.

Waiting in stoney silence the knight had sat leaning against a wall nearby, puzzles though not his specialty were not above his intelligence however the inner mechanical workings of the sluice gate did perplex his dated perceptions "Quite right, it verily could be a mimic what hides it form as a chest." Artorias chimed in.

Nadia groaned. “Aww, you can’t just say stuff like that to me! Now I gotta know, and if anythin’ bad happens, it’s all. Your. Fault,” she told Jesse with mock seriousness. “Here, I’ll do the honors so nobody gets hurt. Stand back.” With eager hands she rotated the switch on the second chest and popped it open.

Instantly a wall of air burst out from within, buffeting everyone. Two shapes exploded out of the chest and lofted into the air, their calls intermingling as they turned to glare down at the Seekers. One was a alien creature with glowing yellow eyes, floating arms, and what looked like flowing green robes. The other was a blue-and-white harpy, subtly feminine in shape, with colorful ribbons that streamed in the currents of air that flowed from its free-floating turbine speaker-wings. Worse still, the combined power of the pair’s blistering winds knocked the other chest down, inadvertently popping it open as well. From that container sprang two more monsters: a tall, red-furred wolf with shiny metal boxing gear, and a twin-tailed feline with a flat screen for a head. Flapwoods and Decibelle floated on one side of the four Seekers, while Southpaw and Cat-5 squared up on the other. With a chorus of frenzied cries that echoed through the illimitable darkness, two odd couples prepared for battle.

Rubick blinked. “Well, that was somewhat unexpected,” he said.

Nadia slowly turned to look at Jesse, her face deadpan. “I can’t believe you did this.”

“Why do you let me tag along?” Jesse asked, shaking her head.
Hidden 12 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
Avatar of DracoLunaris

DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 6,769 (+8 (+6 from last)(for Bowser and Kamek only))
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (213/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (89/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (88/120)
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (85/70)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

After they’d set up the auction Bowser and Kamek ended up with some time on their hands. The kids were still off on an adventure, one that the mage was quietly following the progress of using a wisp scout, so they had time. As part of that supervision, Kamek was aware of the help wanted board, and had something of an idea of what they might be able to get up to till they got back.

Or rather what they should do.

”I do believe the absence of a helper might be our fault, given we have taken possession of a man who might very well have filled that role” the mage told his king, still under the impression Jesse had said man in her possession, and perhaps making a rather baseless (maybe even egocentric) assumption given the size of the city. Heedless of these things however, he still suggest that ”Perhaps we should help them out?”

”I dunno…” the king said as he peered at the the notice board ”I am pretty scary looking after all”

”Only to your enemies, to your people you are a reassuring pillar of strength I assure you” Kamek replied, having not exactly expected that to be his king’s objection, even if it made sense in hindsight, but finding a counter to it with relative ease.

He got a grunt of response, which he knew to interpret as a wordless thanks, and then an agreement in the form of ”You know what, I’ve done enough fighting and dealing with weird complex auction houses stuff, I think I deserve to do something easy with the rest of the day, yeah?”

”Or .. maybe not easy, but different” he corrected himself, knowing full well that kids could be quite the handful. Either way, with that decided, they set off to find the orphanage to see if they could help out some kids have a fulfilling evening.

The two ultimately found their destination near the northernmost part of the Collection, on one of the islands directly adjacent to the one with the bridge that connected this district to Fountain Central. Standing on higher elevation than the surrounding islands, the building stood out like a sore thumb against the Home of Tears’ typical architectural style, with gray stone brick and rusty-colored metal rather than interlocking blue shells and silvery wrought iron. Warm light streamed through its windows down on a rather forlorn, rain-battered yard with meager vestiges of long-ruined playground equipment. Compared to the much bigger bridge nearby, the one leading to the Orphanage seemed both far less traveled and well-kept. After splashing over that path’s loose cobbles and perilous potholes the Koopas climbed up some steps and made their way to the front door, where a couple loud thinks of the heavy metal knocker announced their presence.

Instantly they heard a chorus of excited shouts, the voices of at least a dozen children. From behind the door the sounds were muffled, but they could still make out a frenzy of running feet. It soon gave way to the slower, louder thump-thump=thump of heavy footfalls. A moment later, the door unlocked, then swung open. In front of Bowser and Kamek stood what looked like a huge stuffed toy, at least five feet in height and barrel-shaped, with polyester stuffing poking from the spot where its right arm might have once been. Primarily pink in color, it featured a lime-green heart on its chest, a halo, and cross-shaped eyes just above a big zipper that resembled a crude, somewhat menacing mouth. In fact, its entire appearance -though outwardly cute and huggable- exuded a creepy undertone, particularly given its size. By looking a little closer, the two visitors could also see a dozen pairs of eyes locked onto them, some wary, some shining with excitement, and all belonging to the children of the orphanage as their peered out from doorways, behind corners, and around furniture. They could see an orange critter, a young kobold with a fluffy tail, a masked goblin kid, a tiny Zora girl with her plush fish toy, a pair of child spectrobes, a whole quartet of Kaka Kittens, and more. Every one of these kids seemed to be hoping beyond hope that today would be their lucky day. Trying to ignore their excited whispers, the mascot-looking creature took up a little sign from a table beside the door and held it up for the visitors to see. It read: ‘Hello and welcome. How can I help you today?’

The two of them glanced at each other, clearly a little put off by the strange creature, but seeing the children they remembered why they were here, and why they were needed. Well, mostly remembered, as Bowser immediately floundered on one of the details when he began by asking ”Hey there, we’re looking for a .. for a uh”

”Dr. Natasha” Kamek supplied helpfully

”Right. We’re looking for a Dr. Natasha? We’re here to help out for the evening” he concluded.

After a brief moment spent looking between the two, the mascot creature nodded, then gently beckoned the two to follow it inside the orphanage. It led the way down the hall, plodding slowly past the staring children who shrunk away as Bowser drew near by slid out of their hiding spots to follow at a respectful distance. Though a little let down by the news that the Koopas had come to help care for them rather than adopt, the kids seemed happy nonetheless to have someone there to see them. A few seconds later, the caravan arrived at the orphanage's main common room. It was full of couches and beanbags arranged around a TV and dim fireplace, with a few well-used toys here and there, carefully collected into bins to keep the place presentable. Corkboards and chalkboards took the place of paintings, covered with the denizen's scribbled drawings and misspelled letters. A staircase led up to the orphanage's other floors, and a red door stood next to it, labeled 'Natasha's Office' by a big crayon sign above the doorframe. This was where the pink monster headed.

"They're gonna talk to the boss!"

"Aw, how come we never get to see Miss Nat?"

"They're so lucky! Who are they?"

"Do-do-do you think they're gonna adopt one of us?"

"No, dummy, didn't you hear them say they're just helping?"

"Hey, that's still good, you meanie!"

As the other kids whispered and jostled, the nervous little goblin reached up and bravely tugged Bowser's hand. "Um, mister?" He asked, shaking a little as he turned his mask upward to look at the looming giant. "Miss Nat never comes out of her office, so…when you see her, can you give her a hug for us? Please?"

Once the mascot led the visitors into the office, they found themselves in an empty room. There were no windows or other doors, and only a couple articles of furniture. After they entered, the mascot slowly closed the door behind them, then with a click, locked it shut. Without a word, it circles around toward the desk, turned to face them, and then dissolved into a burst of static.

In the creature's place stood a beautiful human woman, with pink eyes, turquoise hair in a ponytail with loose strands across her face, and a mole by her lips. She wore a white dress of a curious style, with several vials of a green liquid worn almost like accessories, and a teddy bear hanging from her waist. Though not that old all things considered, she possessed a distinct motherly air, and her eyes and smile were both gentle and kind. She carefully pulled her headphones off and placed them along with her cassette player on the desk.

"Please forgive my deception," she began, her voice soft. "The poor darlings of this orphanage are all monsters who've lost their parents to humans. I fear the sight of one would upset them. So I rely on this to assume forms that are more comfortable for them. Like Mascotoy, which you saw. The kids name them, they call me 'Stuffy' when I'm in that form." She smiled, giving a light, chirping laugh. "And Burnie, when I'm Spitzfyre. Oh, but forgive me, I always end up babbling. I'm Natasha." She clasped her hands together. "Doctor by day, caretaker by night. Knowing what I am and what I'm doing, are you two still willing to help?"

”Even in a city of monsters, humans still are everywhere it seems” Kamek commented, intending it mostly as a joke, though he did also think it was an odd state of affairs, what with their own world containing only slightly more than a cities worth.

”That is to say, that won’t be a problem Doctor, right?” he then clarified, before glancing at Bowser. The king, for his part had his brow furrowed, and was deep in thought, before coming to a conclusion entirely unrelated to the matter at hand, but which was an answer to it all on its own anyway.

”You probably get a bunch while in disguise, but the kid did ask so” he said, as he stepped forwards and offered her the hug he’d been requested to give her for all her hard work.

“Oh, goodness!” Too tired from a long day’s work to exclaim with any real sense of alarm, Natasha found herself swept up in a titanic embrace. Though wary and on edge at first, she realized what was going on, and relaxed somewhat in Bowser’s strong, albeit comfortable arms. She even found it in herself to squeeze back a little. Once the two stepped apart a moment later, she didn’t even pause to fix her hair, but flashed the two Koopas an appreciative smile.

“Thank you both. I’m so grateful.” She turned to her cassette player and began to switch the tape out. “Well, you’ll get a chance to help right away! I was just about to get started on dinner for everyone. We usually do a big soup to make the most out of what little we have, and give everyone the chance to pitch in. One of my monster forms helps out a lot.” After putting in a tape labeled ‘Cookie (Coaldron)’ with a handful of food-based stickers plastered all over it, she donned the cassette player. “I’ll head over to the kitchen. After you say hi to everyone, please come and join me. Try and make sure everyone feels included. Oh, but look out for the little troublemakers–Skull Kid and Peeper. They might try to play pranks. I’m still working on a way to do lessons, since none of my monsters can talk, so after dinner it’s usually playtime. But on the off chance you have anything to teach or stories to tell, please feel free. I hope you’ll try to get to know everyone, and help them out however you can. We’ll meet up again like this later on to go over the bedtime routine. Sound good?”

”Sounds like a plan” Kamek agreed, before glancing to the side upon hearing the chime of a bell, and seeing the mountain of scales that was his king had become a fair bit fluffier, as Bowser had turned himself into Meowser.

”Some of them seemed a little nervous around me, so I thought maybe this would help?” he said, scratching himself behind his head self consciously as he did so

”It can’t hurt, I’m sure” Kamek replied naturally, before saying that ”I have a bit of experience with teaching children, so I can see what I can come up with on that front”

After receiving confirmation, Natasha unlocked the door, pressed play on her cassette player, and transformed into a tall ceramic figure with a cauldron body. Hobbling from side to side on her stubby little legs, she exited the office room and headed for the kitchen. Immediately everyone set up a cheer, all pretenses of propriety dropped as everything turned to anticipatory chaos. Already the Koopas could begin to get a grasp of everyone’s personalities; the four super-energetic Kaka Kittens were always at the forefront, while the fluffy-tailed koboldling always hung toward the back in complete silence. The Zora was timid and often left behind, but sweet, while the cyclopean alien kid was an annoying loudmouth, never far from a mischievous woodland sprite. As eager as everyone was for dinner, they seemed even more interested in Bowser and Kamek, crowding around them and pushing one another around with all their voices going at once. Possibly due to Natasha being unable to talk as a monster, it seemed like the children here could use some discipline. It was time for the volunteers to introduce themselves.

”Alright children, settle down for just a moment” Kamek requested, sticking close to his king to avoid getting crowded too badly, before introducing them both.

”My name is Kamek, and I’m something of a wizard, while this now fluffy fellow is Bowser” the king gave a wave and a ”Howdy” the pair of them having agreed to not make any mention of the King’s royalty so as to keep things simple ”We will be taking care of you while your usual minder sees to preparing dinner”

”Now then, now that you know our names, how about we go around the room so we can learn who all of you are?”

”Mmm, and how about we start with you” Bowser suggested, pointing out one of the excitable Kittens so as to not leave them impatient, or startle the shyer ones,but fully intending to work though everyone.

As one might expect, the kittens introduced themselves in a cacophony of high-pitched voices laden with verbal tics, each trying to one-up and be heard over the others. Though it took some doing, the Koopas managed to assign each a name after a few moments: the one with the green bow was Cali-Kaka, Feisty-Kaka had the blue, Fluffy-Kaka had the orange, and Spotty-Kaka had the pink. The two troublemakers were quick to introduce themselves, the cyclops as Peepers and the hat-wearing flute player as Skull Kid, evidently thick as thieves. Up next was Small, the energetic orange critter. After introducing himself as Ugu, the young goblin also introduced the kobold as Ga Bu, since the little guy didn’t seem inclined to speak for himself. Tentatively the Zora introduced herself as Finley, after which the two spectrobes announced themselves as Zen and, confusingly, Zora. The two snickering Subling siblings gave their names as Pitch and Dark, though Skull Kid immediately whispered to Kamek that their names were actually Bailey and Jenny. That just left the timid Bakomon, with its entire body covered in cardboard, and Badogai the Baddinyan, who did his very best to look like a delinquent while speaking only a little more crassly than usual.

After that, though, everyone more or less stampeded to the kitchen. Coaldron-Natasha had already filled her basin with water from the sink and was in the process of boiling it, turning it into a delicious broth. Using monster power, it seemed, was an affordable alternative to electric power. At one end of the kitchen lay the door to the pantry, with a crayon sign on it that read ‘Don’t steal! We only have enough to go around if everyone shares!’, but the pantry door lay ajar. Inside, the shelves were almost bare. There was a little bread, a few packets of noodles, a half-empty bag of croutons, some garlic, lentils, carrot, celery, onion, and a few herbs and spices. In the fridge was some meat, mostly chicken but a little beef, as well as cheese. Unfortunately, there were also crumbs on the floor. Someone had already been in here, but for now none of the kids said anything. They began storming the pantry to seize whatever they could to tear up into morsels and throw into tonight’s soup. Some of them, naturally, would just try to eat whatever they got hands on, or start food fights by throwing whatever they didn’t like at other kids they disliked about as much. Voiceless and full of soup, Coaldron-Natasha would struggle to try and oversee everything on her own.

”Oh dear” Kamek commented very generally on the whole situation, while Bowser muttered that he ”Woulda brought food as well if I knew this was gonna be an issue” before doing his best to carefully wade into the mob without stepping on anyone, and act as something of a wedge to try and break up any food fights on his way to blocking the pantry so he could do the food hauling himself.

Kamek meanwhile took to the air atop his broomstick to get an overview of the mob, and then summoned a few hoovering toadies who could drop down, pick up a problem child to either deposit them in a seat or distract them via flying them around the room.

While most of the kids tried helping as best they could, they needed direction to prevent messes and actually accomplish anything. The Kaka Kittens in particular were enthusiastically trying to tackle cooking tasks that their big mitts made tricky, while the Spectrobes didn’t even have hands to help with. Naturally, nobody wanted to set the table, or even get out the utensils and bowls people would need. A few like Ga Bu and Finley just remained passively at a distance, not contributing. Among them were Skull Kid, Peeper, and Baddinyan. After whispering together for a few moments, they split up, and the troublemakers began to cause a ruckus. Peeper tried to take charge of the situation, bossing the other kids around with his loud, nasally voice, while Skull Kid added to the general uproar by playing his flute. While they caused a distraction, Baddinyan snuck around to the shelves and began climbing to get at the cookie jar.

”Oh dear, oh no” Kamek stammered in a little panic, as he tried to direct his minions to put out fires to little success while pinching his forehead. Then the king readjusted how he was thinking about this, and switched tactics and mindsets to that of a boss of mooks.

”Aright, listen up squirts, we’re going to have some order, so you can get fed sooner” the king said with a voice that commanded armies, before reaching a hand over and plucking Baddinyan from their shelf creeping and telling them mre parentally ”and eating sooner means desert sooner” before setting them down.

”Right then. Cali, Feisty, Fluffy, Spotty bowls and plates” he ordered the Kaka kittens, given those were big and more easily handel-able. ”Ugu, Ga Bu, and Finley, help with the food, Dark, Bakomon and Pitch cutlery” because they had more dexterous hands ”Zen and Zora, get the chairs in order” because they were all over and that could be done via handless pushing.

Next ”Peeper, direct traffic and tell me if anyone is goofing off” because it was a less disruptive way of him indulging his desire for power, and someone needed to stop the kids running back and forth from running into each other, ”Baddinyan make sure no one is trying to have dessert or uncooked food before dinner” because who better than a thief to catch, and finally ”Skull kid, give us a marching tune” for some musical accompaniment.

”Everyone got that? Good, then let’s get to it!” he declared, leaving himself and Kamek as overarching supervisors. Right away the Kaka sisters hopped to it, racing to see who could set most places. Ga Bu did not want to help with preparing the ingredients for the stew, but he also didn’t resist when Ugu and Finley tried to coax him into it. Even Natasha helped as much as she could, gentle nudging things -and kids- into place. Pitch and Dark combed the kitchen, collecting every last spoon they could find and passing them to Bako to hold; once they had enough, a jet of steam from Natasha pointed them in the direction of the sink, and the Sublings started washing spoons that Bako then took to the table. Peeper kept bossing and pushing his peers around, and Baddinyan abused his appointment as Cookie Guardian to sneakily help himself, but on the whole the motley crew’s efforts turned a lot more focused and productive. All the while, Skull Kid’s lively playing permeated the whole place, channeled into something constructive rather than denied.

Kamek face-palmed at the decision to put a thief as a guard, but otherwise was rather impressed with his king’s handy work, while the king himself grinned self-assuredly.

Bit by bit the Coaldron filled with ingredients, boiling and simmering until the broth turned a rich greenish-brown, full of vegetables and strips of meat. Knowing the next step, everyone grabbed a bowl from the table and lined up in front of Natasha, jostling for position. She poured out bowlfuls of soup for everyone, including her new helpers. While the bigger kids might need more sustenance, any perceived sign of favoritism would cause issues, so she did her best to dole out equal portions.

All too soon the Coaldron was empty, and as the kids returned to the table to eat Natasha tottered off toward her office. Once hidden within she changed again, and a few moments later returned as a Spitzfyre. Her arrival provoked a chorus of cheers and delighted squeals among most of the children, even the cats, some of whom even left their dinners to rush the goggle-wearing dog down and stroke her fluffy fur. “It’s Burnie,” Finley explained for Kamek and Bowser. “Once we all finish our food, it’s time to play!” She then dug in, supping her soup as fast as she could, and the rest more or less did the same. Burnie sat by the table and waited patiently for everyone to finish.

Bowser, unsurprisingly, finished first given the size disparity, but having seen the state of their larder he did not complain (though his stomach certainly did), while Kamek slowly worked his way through the soup with a speed befitting his age, which at least took the pressure off of any of the slower kids with whom their impatient peers might take issue of their own pace.

“Where are you guys from?” Zen piped up after a few moments. The fiery little monkey’s eyes were wide with curiosity. “Never seen monsters like you before!”

Zora curled up by his bowl with his legs tucked underneath him, looking like a fluffy ball of wool. “Oh, they’ve gotta be from outside! What’s it like out there?”

“Yeah, tell us! Tell us, tell us!” the Kittens chimed in.

”Well, I mean that depends on what bit of the outside you wanna hear about, because we’ve been around a bit. If you just mean outside the city, well then … we’ve been to where the rain comes from” Bowser said, deciding that was maybe a good place to start

”It’s this huuuuge lake inside a massive cavern, and it's got these ancient trees going from these little sand banks alllll the way up to the ceiling. We had to climb down one and it took ages”

”But we’ve also been outside too,” he added, before emphasizing ”I mean really outside, above ground, under the blue sky. Been to a few places on this donut of a world. There’s Alcamoth, which we’re calling home at the moment, which is a city that floats. In the air. Very, uh, white, and with big domes. It’s in this place called the Land of Adventure, that apparently changes every week. New landscape, new creatures, new everything.”

The King wasn’t it had to be said, the best wielder of descriptive language, but he was happy enough to answer questions, and did try his best, even if it was unlikely he could paint a picture with words that could really convey what it was like beyond to these kids who had likely never seen anything beyond their rainy city. At least, not that they remembered anyway.

It was a thought along those lines that gave Kamek pause for thought, the mage wondering, if this world really had existed for far longer than they thought, then where, there children who had been born into it? Perhaps even ones who were children of more than one world. And if so, what would happen to them, if they managed to set everything back to the way it was.

It was a concerning thought, but one blissfully absent from Bowser’s mind as he tried to explain what things were like outside, as well as going and talking about the many strange and wonderful kingdoms that had existed back in their universe.

Most of the kids listened with bated breath as Bowser filled their heads with fantastic images, painting a vivid picture of the skies and seas that underworlders like them could only have ever dreamed of. Even Natasha found herself entranced. Though she possessed distant memories of the crisp blue heavens and the feeling of cold wind on her face, it felt like a lifetime ago. These tales made her homesick, bringing her back to the childhood she herself spent in an orphanage underground before adoption by her overworld family. Losing the sky, the snow, the breeze, and the fresh air all over again hurt, but her heart went out to these poor children who hadn’t the slightest idea what they’d been missing all this time.

When the stories came to an end, playtime began. Interested as the kids had been, none of them had neglected their food, and when Burnie started barking and performing a play-boy the children stuffed in their last couple spoonfuls of lukewarm soup and raced to join in on the fun. In no time Ugu, Pitch, Dark, and Finley were all perched on the Spitzfyre’s back, riding her as she ran around in playful pursuit of the squealing Kaka Kittens, chased in turn by the young spectrobes and Baddinyan. In that fashion they ran all around the orphanage, through its halls, up and down its stairs, and around the common room. The Spitzfyre even consented to chase and fetch a thrown ball, humiliating as that must be for her. Skull Kid and Peeper went off to entertain themselves. When the kids were tired of exercise with Spitzfyre, they settled down in the main room to play with what few toys and games the orphanage possessed, but most of the focus lay on Bowser and Kamek. “C’mon, play with us!” the kittens chorused, hoping their new friends could offer them something fun and new.

”How about a magic trick” Kamek offered, which got a ”Huh,” from Bowser who had thought they’d be doing something else before the mage floated up and whispered a plan into his ear, which earned the mage an ”Oooooh” of understanding from his king, who then hurried to pop into the good doctors office to get his jacket.

While he did that part, Kamek asked ”Now then, could one of you get me a blanket, or a bedsheet, or something of the sort? I’ll need it for the trick. And neatly please, it will have to go back after after all”

The children were off like lightning, scattering in all directions to find and bring back the requested item. Within a minute several groups returned with blankets, working together to drag them along the ground. Small and Ugu ended up riding on a sheet pulled by the spectrobes, although once the Kaka Kittens saw that all four dropped their blanket in order to jump on it for a ride, leaving theirs stopped in its tracks. With Zen and Zora weighed down, Bako pulled ahead with a patched-up quilt thrown over her shoulder, and after reaching Kamek first she offered it to him. That left Pitch, Dark, and Finley in second and third place, though they all seemed too interested in the Magikoopa’s trick to really care. Spitzfyre-Natasha helped pulled the squealing kittens over on their blanket to join the group, and everyone crowded around to see Kamek work his magic.

All that excitement kept eyes conveniently off of Bowser, who shuffled back in just in time to help Kamek run a bit of sleight of hand combined with actual magic.

The children had seen the koopa float, of course, so but now he pulled out all the stops.

”Now, you might not know this, but today is a day of change, or so I have heard. When children both good and bad, get what they deserve.” the mage said with rhyme, as he crafted wisps out of magic to fill the room with glowing motes, and using the same magic he used to color shift his clone to change their hue as well, though that was all the effect it had.

”But that is jumping to the end of the story
And we’ll get back there soon, don’t you worry
Now this city of yours, did you know it once had a king?
his kindness and courage, the people would sing
Yet because of those both, he had to leave for reasons most dire
To tend to the cities roaring inner fire”

As the mage spoke, he made the wisps dance through the air, having them form together to form crude depictions of the tale he was spinning.

”And once he was gone, an imp crept on in
Nasty and rotten and rude as sin
Was he human or swine, or something even stranger?
All I can say, is that to tell him now would have been a great danger
For his tantrums where cruel and creepy
While his minions they were ever so sneaky
Yet the king, still gone one day made some friends
And to them he put the task of fulfilling some ends”

A small horde of colorful whips descended into the room from above, having snuck up into the ceiling while the kids where looking elsewhere

”they snuck down into the city, under cover of night
Ready and willing to fight the good fight
First they made a new ally, atop a great tower
And from him learned the secrets of their foe’s power
First they sniffed through the streets to find the pigs minions, who hid in the dark
And faced them in battle, though for them that was walk in the park
Then into his castle, they strode without fear
Knowing by the next day, all would have reason to cheer
Some went high, and others low
Ready to take part in a two part show”

The ‘fights’ as they were, were a combination of glorified pushing matches, yet by swooping to and fro, they wisps manage to make their conflicts rather dynamic.

”up in the tower, they fought a great battle
One in which the pig thought he would slaughter them like cattle
For control over time, that tyrant did wield
And against that power, there is no shield
Yet with their determination and brawn,
The heroes soldiered on
And with all the strength of a storm
They forced that pig to reveal his true form”

The whips dashed to and fro, the rainbow of warriors facing down a much larger purple foe.

”the battle after that it went on and on
But in the end the pig refused to sing a swan song
Down into the depths, that coward did flee
Yet deep down below, his fate he would see
For they heroes had known, of his little hide away
A place where the pig thought he could stay
Safe and snug, with ill gotten gains
Yet instead what he got was yet more pains
Together, at last they banished him from the lands
And so at last the king could know peace, in his exiled sands”

The large purple whip was ejected by the others, tossed through a window and into the rain, as had been the fate of all those defeated by the heroic wisps, before said heroes returned to bobbing around above the children’s heads as Kamek brought the tale to a close.

”Which brings us back to children getting what they are owed
And the point, dear children, of the story told
You see to steal from your people, that is something quite nasty
But to steal back from a thief, well, about that let's not be hasty
For that pig had taken treasures, oh yes he did
And down in the depths, was where they were hid
Gold and jewels, and yes, even toys
All taken away from good girls and boys
Yet rather than be used for what they were meant: play
These toys dear children where all locked away
And of these toys the heroes knew what should become
Because there were kids not at all like the pig who really deserved them”

”and do you know who those kids are?” Bowser asked, having made plenty of use of the distracting performance to slip some things under the bed sheet they had retrieved at the beginning.

”Well, how about we see?
What these heroes have brought for thee?”

Kamek asked, before, whipping a wand towards the little lump in the bedsheet, the ‘heroes’, the colorful whips, swooping towards it as he did so, and then spiraling around and around it as the lump grew and grew, larger and larger before their very eyes, before they all suddenly vanished up into the ceiling, leaving behind a great mass barely covered by the sheet.

”Go on” Bowser told the children, urging them to unwrap the gift from the ‘heroes’

For a few moments, everyone was silent. Their wonderment and amazement at Kamek’s incredible visual performance and accompanying verse had given way to bamboozled astonishment as he unveiled the hoard of loot. Even Natasha stared, her jaw dropped in bewildered surprise, her jaw practically on the other floor. To the denizens of this orphanage, this was nothing short of a miracle. Could it even be a dream? But when little Ga Bu stepped forward and took hold of a little doll, fashioned after a stocky stone titan, there could be no doubt. This incredible, unexpected windfall was one hundred percent real.

The kids all descended on the pile, shouting and laughing and cheering. Some took everything they could get their hands on, while others seized a favorite and held it tight. There were more than enough to go around–more than anyone could ever want or need. Action figures and sports equipment, toy weapons, board games, blocks and other buildables. It was like every Christmas they’d missed had all come at once. With her head Natasha beckoned Bowser and Kamek to share in the joy, and even she joined the romp. It wasn’t just the Koopas paying the children of the orphanage a visit; it was happiness and plenty themselves.

Some time later, Bowser and Kamek reconvened in Natasha’s office. When the woman turned back, her eyes were red, and her cheeks were wet with tears not of sadness, but of joy. “What…what could I possibly say? There’s nothing I could say that would even begin to express my gratitude,” she said, her brows curved upward. “A-and even less I can do to repay you.” One at a time she went to each Koopa and delivered a heartfelt hug. “But thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Seeing such joy on their face…” Sniffing, she composed herself, and put on a smile. “Well. It’s not much longer until bedtime. I’m sure everyone wants to play with their new toys until they topple over, but they’ll be there in the morning. We need to get everyone ready for bed. The kittens will probably zonk out and need to be carried. We’ll have to brush Small’s teeth, I guarantee it. He’ll have hidden the toothpaste…again…” Stifling a yawn, Natasha steadied herself against her desk. “I…whoooo...oh, forgive me. I’m so very tired.” She reached up to put her headset back on, only to place it back on the desk. “Please go ahead. I’ll be right behind you…just a second to put myself together…”

The two looked a little embarrassed by this heartfelt praise, with Bowser trying to brush it off like it was not such a big deal seeing as to him ”It just felt like the right thing to do, I guess?”

Then they stepped out to give the good doctor a moment or five to recover and saw about either hedging or transporting the children to bed, with Bowser doing much of the latter, the king making for an adorable sight with armfuls of kittens at one point in the process. A few of the others did need to be encouraged to leave the toys be and to head to bed, which was eventually achieved via suggesting they pick out a stuffed animal (or monster) to take with them, which saw Finley carrying a stuffed shark as large as they were with her to bed, among other cute displays of plushy selection and affection.

As that occurred, Kamek had some wisps sniff out the toothpaste for him, the motes, glowing softly with orange hues of sunset, eventually tracking it down to under Small’s own very own pillow.

When finally confronted, Small stared bug-eyed at the pink tube in the Koopa’s hand. “Uh oh, you found the toothpaste!?” He held up his hands placatingly, backing up against the bathroom wall as he jabbed one shaky finger into the air. “L-let’s get one thing clear! I can brush my teeth all by myself, okay?”

”Then I’m sure you can be a big boy and prove that to me then, yes? After all, a mouth of pearly white pointy teeth can look ever so fierce” the old koopa replied, trying the tactic that had gotten both Bowser and his son to take their dental hygiene properly.

In the end though, Small would not be talked into it. Moreover, this whole tooth-brushing ritual seemed to be a sort of game to him. He hopped around the bathroom like a march hare, avoiding the toothbrush like Kamek was ‘it’ in a game of tag. Ultimately, the Magikoopa had to get a little more hands-on. Once finally caught and brushed, Small struggled and spat, frothing at the mouth from the pink toothpaste foam, but before long his pearl whites were sparkling and he slunk off to bed with the last of his energy spent. Bowser and Kamek got the chance to tuck everyone in and say goodnight. It was all very cute, but they couldn’t help but notice two things: that Natasha wasn’t here helping, and that Ga Bu was missing.

When they went back downstairs, the two Koopas quickly found out why. The door to the doctor’s office was ajar, and inside they discovered a remarkable scene. After sitting down in her chair, Natasha had passed right out from exhaustion, and was now snoring softly. In her lap lay the missing Kobold with his toy, his little head laid on the woman’s chest as her arms wrapped instinctively around him. Both were sleeping peacefully.

After resisting the temptation to “awww” at the sight, the two stepped away, only for Kamek to return a few moments later, quietly drifting through the air and then laying a blanket over the pair so they would stay warm through the night time period. Then the two quietly saw themselves out of the orphanage, not at all concerned that they would not be able to receive the ‘repayment’ mentioned in the commissions board notice by doing this.

Bowser stretched and yawned wide once they were clear, it having been a tiring ending to an already tiring day ”I am beat. And still kinda hungry”

”Mmm, I agree, that was quite the task. Hopefully we’ve brightened up their world a little bit however” Kamek replied to his king, before noting that ”That said, our work is not quite done, as we have two final children that need to be put to bed”

”They’re good, right?” the king asked, having not had the mental energy while handling all the other kids to think about how the two of them were off on their own. He was sure that together, they’d be fine, but he worried a little still.

”They’ve been on their own little adventure, but I’m directing them back to us now” the mage informed his king, relieving him of his stress.

”Good, then let’s link up, grab some midnight snacks, and then hit the hay” the king commanded, to which Kamek agreed with a ”As you will it, sire” before the two headed back off into the rainy city’s streets once again.
Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Level 11 Blazermate (Holding 2 level up) - (107/110)
Level 4 Susie - (1/50) - Level up! (Holding 2 level up)

Location: HQ > Sector 6
Word Count: Less than 750

Blazermate's plan worked, teleporting everyone in. In hindsight, seeing as everyone was teleporting in, Susie probably didn't need to take a pass, but she was going to use it now that she had entered the city of glass. While Goldlewis had some difficulty at the checkpoint, being robots, Blazermate and Susie had to go through a different scanner. Blazermate didn't really care about being X rayed, as this was standard practice for medabots, but Susie was not happy at all. Still, she just kept that this happened in mind, and would just upcharge whatever city official she ran into next that needed some HWC tech.

Upon reaching the city itself, Blazermate got to work with Giovanna to get the teleporter up and get everyone inside, While susie took that opportunity to flag up a nearby information terminal to learn about the area. Specifically she was looking for any news on the major robot corporations in the area as according to Giovanna and Goldlewis, this was where many of them were stationed. She'd also look for other opportunities, but that was her main goal.

"Oh Wow, this place is shiny!" Blazermate said, noting all the glimmering lights and everything everywhere. Unlike Susie, she didn't really have much of a goal in mind, instead just taking in the sights as they moved through the city to their destination. Susie, having gotten the information she could, even though she was one of the first people in, ended up being one of the last ones to progress towards their goal. But gathering information wasn't a slow process, so it made sense. As for what she thought of the city, Susie could tell it was a high end place and that there would be some opportunities here if she played her cards right. Now if this was an actual glass city was to be seen, as that could have its own amount of issues.
Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Scarifar
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Scarifar Presto~!

Member Seen 1 day ago

Like Chimeras

Location: Home of Tears
Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud, Rubick’s @Scarifar
Word Count: 7432 (+8)

Well the knight hadn't been that far off in his observations, while these creatures weren't those that disguised themselves as a chest they had been hiding within them. "Save thy words for when thou arte in nary a sliver of danger." Artorias cut off the feral tersely as he stood to his full height.

As the sound of their cries echoed in the dark, it filled the knight with anticipation. Now these were truly worthy opponents to test his mettle upon, he too responded to their frenzied call with a bloodthirsty roar of his own. Nadia gingerly stepped up alongside him to face off with the earthbound pair of beasts, her claws at the ready.

Though tempered now with a fiercer calmness, his instincts were much sharper now that he was freed. He became like a graceful dancer as he pirouetted slashing broadly at the shiny wolf and the twin-tailed feline, his strike intended to push the two back if they were smart enough to evade his swift and terrible onslaught, and cleave them in twain if they had no sense of self-preservation. They both nimbly leaped backward beyond the reach of his blade, growling and hissing respectively.

Either way he followed through swinging downward as he shifted on his feet to strike the wolf while the momentum of his swing carried him forward. Southpaw clenched his bright blue teeth and reacted quickly. Rather than try and block the massive, metal-rending slash, he dipped to the side with the speed and poise of an expert boxer. His fists shot out, a quick one-two aimed for the knight’s torso to soften him up. The legendary armor of Artorias might shrug off slashes, but Southpaw aimed to puncture it, with the force of his fists behind his nail-like claws to drive them in.

Fists met the knight's plate mail with a solid thunk, while the force of the swift one-two was somewhat dulled it still made Artorias grit his teeth and wince in pain "Ah the wolf then bares its fangs-RAH!" the knight matched the wolf's punch with an equally forceful strike of his own when Southpaw got in close, aiming to strike the boxer square in the throat and follow through with a step forward to slam him away with an elbow. While Southpaw guarded the vital parts of its head with the tenacity one should expect of any skilled fistfighter, the sheer force of the knight’s close-quarters attack forced Southpaw out. Even after blocking, the canine found himself pushed back into the range Artorias wanted in order to use his sword. Narrowing his eyes, Southpaw planted his feet and entered into a low stance, flame sparked to life around his fist as he waited for his next chance to strike.

While he wasn't as swift on his feet or precise as Southpaw, Artorias instead was surprisingly tenacious. So he carried himself forward sword in one hand while his feet pirouetted to bring the blade around in a wide slash making certain that a forward assault would be folly if the wolf leapt at the opportunity to strike. Southpaw wasn’t about to hurl himself straight into a deadly cleave, but the reach of Finstertoter forced him to adjust his plans. He ducked backward, narrowly avoiding the huge blade as the flame around his fist died out. The advantage still belonged to Artorias, but Southpaw had a plan. Ceding more ground, he used Sharpen to boost his melee attack, and watched out for the next massive swing.

The knight thought for only but a second between bringing his blade around in a mighty swing forward shifted upon his feet almost as if he were preparing to close distance once more. Artorias' eyes narrowed beneath his helmet, then he wound his sword arm back, knees poised to leap forward. But that was far from what he did, his feint though simple was executed in brutal fashion swinging his blade forward but then leaping backwards in a flip landing on one knee and resting his blade on his shoulder. Southpaw fell for the feint, sacrificing a fifth of its life to use Metal Wall. A pillar of solid iron rose from the stone in front of it, as tall as Southpaw himself. The wolf glared at Artorias, an annoyed look on his face. Then he used Throw anyway, ripping the wall from the ground and hurling it at Artorias, a huge, heavy-weight projectile. Southpaw charged in behind it, its fists blazing with flame as he prepared to strike.

Artorias pivoted only a split second before the projectile came within a hair's width of him, a bead of sweat trickling down the knights forehead he tried to shift his weight to meet Southpaw only to be struck with a solid punch knocking the Abysswalker off his feet so to speak, flames licked his body as the blow struck but anger flared in the knight as well his wince of pain turning into a snarl bringing the brunt of his fury into slamming the pommel of his sword against the wolf's ribs in a forward motion that he followed through with another push this time with enough strength to throw Southpaw backwards. The beast was sent tumbling, but his parting gift remained–a Burn that would flare up after the knight’s next three techniques.

Cat-5, meanwhile, blitzed off the mark with Zoomies. Her sheer swiftness took Nadia by surprise, and the feral barely blocked the flurry of Beast-type blows in time. Her feline foe’s claws crackled with lightning as she moved to keep up the pressure with Double Smack, but it would take a lot more than this to earn Nadia’s respect this early into the match. She dashed backward with jets of blood, avoiding the electric scratches, then closed back in with El Gato. “Comin’ at nya!” With flashing claws Nadia sliced once, twice, then went low with Cat Slide and burst up with a backflip kick straight to Cat-5’s flat screen. It didn’t end there, though; her new tails raked across her foe’s face as they followed her loop, and once in the air Nadia spiked her own head downward like volleyball. “Heads up!”

However, the beast’s reflexes were quicker than she expected. Cat-5 managed to bat the head away, then dig in her heels as Nadia descended to the ground. She launched herself in an energized pounce, zooming forward in a lightning-fast blur. Her Charge passed straight through Nadia, and when the beast slid to a stop behind her the feral’s guard burst open in a giant discharge of electricity. ““Ohm-my goodness!” she groaned as the voltage coursed through her, reacting with her inherent Hydro. “That kinda hertz!” With her head detached and in front of her she couldn’t see Cat-5 clearly, so while still zapped she forced her body into a wild windmill kick to try and keep the beast at bay. The monster ducked beneath the haymaker and rose with a paw wreathed in flame to slug her right in the stomach with a Superheated Fist. When the fire mixed with her Hydro, the ensuing Vaporize reaction sent her body flying in an explosive outburst of steam.

“Urgh!” she cried, her head wincing as the rest of her tumbled overhead. Still, she managed to right herself and slide to a stop on her feet. Teeth gritted, she opened her eyes in a squint. “Hmph. Now’s it purr-sonal. So if it’s a cat fight you want…” Her body burst forward on all fours, running past the fight between Artorias and Southpaw. As it passed by Nadia’s head she scooped it up, then hurled it high into the air. Cat-5’s ‘s screen rose to track its flight, not noticing Nadia’s body as she pulled out and took aim with her Bait Launcher. “Then it’s a cat fight you’ll get!” A tiger poofed into existence beside Cat-5 and hammered it with a mighty clawed swat. She hurtled toward Nadia’s body, who met her head-on with Flying Screen Door. Cat-5 staggered backward right into Nadia’s head as it fell, which immediately set about biting the beast all over. “Omnomnomnomnomnom!” That kept Cat-5 in place long enough for Nadia’s body to get up, charge in, deal a handful of blows, and finish off with a piercing corkscrew with her detached head. “You know the DRILL!” Clutching her torso, Cat-5 fell, but when Nadia rushed in for a meaty hit her opponent rose with Zoomies, resulting in a trade of blows. Sparks flew as Cat-5 surged forward with another Charge, but this time her claws connected with a Rapturous Cultist–Nadia’s Striker. Though she still felt the pain, her striker did not share her elemental weakness, and when Cat-5 slid to a stop she found herself ensnared in the seven tongues of Nadia’s other Striker, Idea. “I don’t always go for grabs,” the feral grinned. “But I couldn’t resistor!” The pulsating albino monstrosity lifted the beast into the air upside-down and held her still while Nadia batted her like a cat toy, but when the captive blasted Idea with an Energy Shot it turned and hurled her away before disappearing.

Naturally, Cat-5 landed on her feet, sliding to a stop. As she stood up straight she curled her paw and wiped a smudge off her screen, which honestly struck Nadia as pretty cool. She was breathing a little heavier than expected, but this was nothing she couldn’t handle. “Well? Watts the hold-up, kitty? Feelin’ the purr-essure?” Cat-5 said nothing, but strode up to stand alongside Southpaw as the panting wolf rose from the ground as well, licking his chops. Lightning arced around her paw as she lightly punched her counterpart’s shoulder, infusing Southpaw with Static contact damage. At the same time, the wolf used Jagged Edge. Now, whether someone hit or missed him with melee attacks, they’d take unavoidable damage. Southpaw grinned, exposing his sharp blue teeth, and clanged his fists together. Nadia found herself returning the smile as she drew her boxcutter, wielding her blade alongside Artorias. “Two on two, huh? Nyeow we’re talkin’!”

Though his armor was pitted with holes, burnt in several places and his bones ached as if they were screaming in pain; Artorias stood his ground by the feral offering few words other than a curt and concise "Then let us not mince words, and fight!" and so he did, lunging forward through seething pain as flames wreathed him burning his armor as he came to with a swift and mighty cleave.

Nadia rolled her eyes. “Don’t ya realize I’m a chatty catty?” When Artorias charged in, she jumped up onto the aqueduct’s rim and followed. Cat-5 got moving the minute the knight bore down on her, but Southpaw held his ground with narrowed eyes to dodge at the last moment. Just by evading the giant slash he gouged Artorias with Jagged Edge, and the free hit gave him the split second he needed to hop up and deliver a mean left hook to the knight’s helmet. Worse still, when Southpaw made contact his Static added an extra aftershock.

Figuring Artorias could use a hand, Nadia prepared to jump down, but first she laid eyes on Cat-5. Her adversary had climbed up onto the opposite rim of the aqueduct, meaning both cats were waiting for the other to make the first move. Well then. Nadia crouched down and pounced in Southpaw’s direction. Immediately Cat-5 saw her opportunity and lunged–just as Nadia had been hoping. Gotcha! The two felines clashed explosively in the air above the aqueduct, driven together by lightning arcs and bloody streams. Her boxcutter’s plastic grip insulated Nadia from the electricity, allowing her to push back with all the strength she could muster. After a brief moment they burst apart, sliding past one another to land on opposite sides again, and Cat-5 whipped around and fired off a rippling, laser-like Energy Shot. Nadia bent backward far enough to plant her free hand between her feet, peering cheekily at her foe in an impromptu handstand. “Hey now, don’t beam-ean!” When her foe raised her other paw to unleash a second blast, Nadia extended that arm to pop herself into the air with a backflip. At the apex of her jump she blasted out blood from her legs to dive straight at Cat-5 with her blade extended. Her foe leaped toward her, and they slammed together in another big, noisy clash.

Beneath them, a battle of attrition ensued. Artorias gritted his teeth and stumbled back towards the wall, momentarily stunned by the electric shock of Southpaw's punch. Blood trickling from his nose and down to his chin the knight hadn't all but blinked to raise a hand to wipe the crimson from his face that he keeled over from another strike to the abdomen.

As he doubled over something just snapped, up until then he had been fighting a battle to simply wear his opponent down bit by bit methodically until the moment was right..Now he could only think about ripping the wolf limb from limb, cutting the cur to pieces. Artorias suddenly came at the wolf, dropping all semblance of poise in favor of swift and merciless swings.

Even if the flames bit his body the knight now enraged only bit his tongue to keep from wincing in pain. Even as Southpaw dodged the knight’s strikes, countering he found himself pushed back as Artorias stopped at nothing to carry on his assault as the full force of the Abysswalker's fury was focused on Southpaw and Southpaw alone. Quickly the boxer found himself overwhelmed, constantly pushed back and forced on the defensive. Even if taking a hit shocked Artorias in the process, Southpaw suffered far more from the knight’s unrelenting hacks. To make matters worse, Static and Jagged Edge were about to expire. When Southpaw dodged past a huge slash and attempted to use Dog Years to extend the timer, a deft spin slash from Artorias dealt the wolf his worst blow yet. Yelping, Southpaw skidded backwards, falling to one knee. His foe was coming–he needed to act. In a last ditch effort he threw caution to the wind and lunged forward, catching Artorias in the startup of an attack and grappling him in a close-quarters clinch. At this range the knight couldn’t fight back, but the wolf struggled against his armor.

Their contest came to a head as Nadia and Cat-5 clashed together in the air above them one final time, their tremendous impact turning into a frenzy of slashes, scratches, and shocks, three pointed tails against two plug-tipped ones, until the feral managed to pin Cat-5’s limbs with the almost tentacle-like tendons of her airgrab and send both careening into the brawl beneath them. All four combatants disappeared in an eruption of blood, lightning, and steel.

Meanwhile, Rubick was engaging with Flapwoods. Rubick began with a Water Gun at Flapwoods, who shifted sideways to avoid it and counterattacked with Multi-Shot. Rubick would then Power Steal Jesse again, this time taking her Shield. He raised a wall of debris in front of him, which absorbed the attack and left Rubick unharmed. “Truly fascinating,” Rubick thought out loud. The abilities of other worlds piqued his curiosity like no other, but unfortunately there was no time for that right now, as Flapwoods would press the assault with a Shooting Star. The Shield still held, but it was mostly dust and pebbles at this point.

Dropping the Shield, Rubick would return fire with Launch, grabbing a trio of rocks and firing them one by one. Flapwoods would zip around and dodge the first two, but get clipped by the third and momentarily lose control while in the air. Rubick would follow it up with a Fade Bolt, striking Flapwoods dead on. It was a solid blow, but Flapwoods recovered quickly. Rubick attempted to fire more rocks, but Flapwoods seemed to have learned from its mistake and moved more erratically in its attempts to dodge. At the same time, it would fire more Multi-Shots, circling around Rubick to get more angles to fire down on. Rubick already brought up another Shield, but he was struggling to keep up with Flapwood’s speed and was being peppered.

“At this rate, you’ll be a proper parautilitarian in no time.” Jesse said, impressed by Rubick’s ability to yoink her power. As far as she was concerned, the two of them were a good match for that reason alone. Jesse was well aware of how versatile her power set was, so having it in the hands of another person seemed very useful.

Producing her Service Weapon, Jesse began strafing to the sides and firing off her weapon at the floating alien stereo angel robot known as Decibelle. It was an elusive target, reminding Jesse of some of the more slippery members of the Hiss. She ripped a chunk of debris out of the bridge and Launched it at the Decibelle. It dodged and fired a big ring of sonic energy at Jesse’s feet. She jumped over it and began to Levitate off the ground, switching to Spin. Then she filled the air with bullets that the Decibelle would find a little harder to avoid, and the two began trading high speed, low damage projectiles.

You flatter me,” Rubick chuckled, always willing to accept a compliment. Then his Shield crumbled away as the Flapwoods shot away the last of its health. Rubick would then use his Weaver’s Warp, disappearing in a flash of white webs and reappearing right above Flapwoods, and proceeded to use his Telekinesis to push it to the ground. Perplexed momentarily by the unseen force, the beast backpedaled in time to put itself above the pitch-black abyss rather than the aqueduct basin, allowing it to recover once its opponent lost line of sight.

While on the rise, it used Suit Up to boost its ranged and melee defenses, then sacrificed a fifth of its health to conjure an Astral Wall. When Flapwoods reappeared, it looked to Rubick as if a scar in reality had opened up in front of his enemy that bled the cosmos itself, aswirl with purple nebulae and speckled with glittering stars. This wall could absorb any three hits, except from Metal, Poison, or Plastic elements, which would shatter it instantly. Conversely, Air, Water, Earth, Fire, or Astral would all supercharge Flapwoods instead. Protected, the beast floated toward Rubick to deliver an Astral Beatdown. By this time, Decibelle had saved up enough energy to treat Jesse to something special. She breathed in deep and unleashed an angelic cry, whipping up a huge Hurricane that ripped toward the basin, eating up Spin Bullets on the way. The huge violent storm threatened to hit everyone in its path, including Flapwoods (supercharging it with Air in the process), and it boasted one other nasty quirk: the ability to destroy defensive walls in a single hit.

“Uhhh…” Jesse said, watching her spin bullets get scattered to the wind as she fired them. When she created a psychic wall in front of her, only to see it completely come apart, she said: “Uhhh…!” And cracked painfully against the structure beneath her, managing to Levitate mid air to not get thrown any further into the void. That blew them apart, and Jesse looked to where Rubick was being attacked. She aimed and began firing some well-aimed Grip shots at the Flapwoods, only for the Decibelle to Provoke and intercede, zipping in the way at high speed and deflecting her bullets.

Easier said than done though, and an annoyed Jesse began taking well-aimed shots at the Decibelle instead, pacing out her pistol shots. While Decibelle was fast, Jesse’s Evasion made pinning her down hard as well. Jesse floated over to the platform and touched down to give all her Powers a bit of time to recharge, sprinting away to avoid Decibelle’s sonic attacks that cracked the concrete behind her. All the way she began charging up a Pierce shot. Jesse turned and aimed at Flapwoods, ironically provoking another Provoke from Decibelle who moved to force Jesse to attack her first. But this only worked in Jesse’s favor, as she knew exactly where Decibelle was going to be, and where Flapwoods would be too. The Pierce shot fired its bolt through them both, Jesse’s service weapon kicking up. That would strike Flapwoods and Decibelle, sending whatever their version of blood was spattering into the void.

Confident, Jesse switched to Shatter and dashed forward, looking to blast Decibelle away with Shatter. That was when Nadia did her big airgrab explosion move, and Jesse decided that she probably shouldn’t run face first into it.

In the aftermath of the spectacular blast in the bed of the aqueduct, the four melee fighters were thrown apart. It blew Nadia and Artorias back toward the basin, where they quickly regained their feet. Though short of breath from her face-off with Cat-5, and sparking with residual electricity, the feral knew she could go another couple of rounds, no problem. “Whew! It’ll take more than that to give me paws!” While contact with same lightning left the armor of Artorias Conductive, meaning he’d take an extra zap anytime more electric attacks were used, the formidable knight wouldn’t be so easily felled either. The same couldn’t be said for the beasts. After being hurled 9down the aqueduct by the explosion, Southpaw and Cat-5 struggled to rise, wounded and tired from their fights. Nadia snickered. “Now you’re startin’ to realize,” she said, planting one fist in her other palm. “Bad doggies and kitties get the pound!”

When the beasts finally got up, the pair seemed to exchange a poignant glance, then nodded. Both suddenly dissolved into static, taking Nadia by surprise, and as she watched the two buzzing masses joined together. It reformed a moment later, and in its place stood a single, larger monster combining the types, moves, and stats of both its constituents: Catpaw. At the same time, Flapwoods and Decibelle recovered from Jesse’s collateral Pierce shot. A sudden gale whipped through the cavern as the two aerial aces merged to become Deciwoods, looming in the air above Rubick and Jesse with eyes ablaze.

As their combined cry struck her, Nadia took an instinctive half-step back, but she did not lose her smile. “That’s your ace in the hole, huh? Thought it’d be taller…guess you’ve got a short fuse!” Laughing, she drew her second boxcutter and took a fighting stance with both blades at the ready. Standing this close to Artorias, she could really get a sense of their astonishing height difference. She grinned up at him. “Well, all pets are off now! You ready, Sir? Let’s make it rain cats and dogs!”

Wiping both the blood and a line of glowing essence from the Estus dribbling down his chin, Artorias heaved heavy ragged breaths. "Let's." the knight replied through gritted teeth taking up arms next to the feral, the Abysswalker held his immense blade at the ready poised to strike.

“So…we’re not done yet.” Jesse asked with a good-natured frown, watching the monsters fuse together. “That’s a good trick…”

Catpaw and Deciwoods went on the offense immediately, their combined speed giving them the initiative. With its spiked metal mitts upheld by its screen and clenched tight, the former swerved from side to side in a zigzag as it quickly closed the distance. Without hesitation Nadia unleashed her tensed muscles and sprang forward; she did not pause her gameplan to think about Artorias or how she might be blocking him. The cat burglar kicked things off by hurling one of her boxcutter’s blades at her fused foe’s face. Catpaw jerked its guard into position and deflected the razor skyward, then lunged at Nadia with a quick one-two. She dropped down low ready to strike, but at the last second instinctively rolled backward instead. Catpaw’s fist slammed into the ground a split second later in a burst of lightning. “Round of ap-paws!” With her ears embedded the feral whirled around with Wheel of Fortune, then launched upward with an explosive Fiber Upper. “Pay a-tendon!” As if it barely felt the hits, Catpaw recovered and aimed an Energy Shot at Nadia’s head. She snapped up to her extended legs and came down on the fusion’s other side with a double crescent sword slash, only for Catpaw to come around with a superheated spinning hook. Nadia popped off her head in time to just avoid the knockout blow, which then forcefully lodged in the aqueduct wall beside her, just as she’d hoped. She did not, however, expect it to retract its claws and nail her with a revolving backfist punch on counterhit, sending her head spinning like a top. When she grabbed hold to stop her dizzy head spinning, she saw Catpaw’s fist grinding along the ground in a shower of sparks before blazing upward with a terrific uppercut.

“Yikes!” She separated at the midsection and let her upper half fall backward as the uppercut careened past her. From the opening she blasted out a load of blood that coalesced into a Copycat, which launched into Catpaw in a multi-hit corkscrew dive. The whole exchange lasted only a couple seconds, but it ended with Nadia shocked, on the floor, and in need of assistance. And thus assistance came, the knight who had been poised to lunge had been forced to veer with the feral both getting in the range of his swings and making him need to stumble back as Southpaw counterattacked. Fortunately he had enough time to recover from the residual shock of electricity that had coursed through his pitted and beaten plate mail while the fusion splattered Nadia’s Copycat.

Breathing a ragged sigh, Artorias in his sorry state was too willful to let such superficial wounds to fell him, leaping towards Catpaw only seconds before it could turn as the knight roared, slashing the beast across the back. He did not wait for it to turn to follow through with a slash at its arm, slowly building up momentum in his swings. The fusion took a couple hits, but it couldn’t afford to take any more; while its constituents’ health had combined, not one bit had been restored. As Artorias continued to swing it pivoted, putting up a vertical guard by its head with its other hand clenched around its forearm for support. A massive clang rang out as Finstertoter struck Catpaw’s defense, but the fusion did not break, even as the strength of Artorias behind his blade pushed it along the ground. After a moment the fusion brought its knee up, striking the flat of the greatsword from beneath. The blow threw the weapon upward and Catpaw couched its other hand, wreathed in flame, for a massive gut punch.

Instead Nadia grabbed it from behind, extruding a massive amount of muscle fiber to bind Catpaw up in a giant ’yarn’ ball. The fusion’s struggles from within scorched her with electricity, but Nadia persisted, juggling the ball on her back for a moment before tossing the enemy out, soaked in Hydro-infused blood. Unbeknownst to her, the treatment made Catpaw Conducted, giving it free Multitarget. However, it also Corroded Southpaw’s metal, weakening its defenses. Most important of all, it laid the monster right at the knight’s feet.

Artorias' arms still shook from the blow to his weapon, shoulder dislocated. He could only double over and gasp for breath as the wind left his lungs as he received the hit to his lower half. Vision blurred he blinked several times, holding his shoulder tightly until with a snap he popped the joint back into place with a painful grunt, now wasn't the moment to stand idle.

It laid at his feet, struggling against its bindings that only increased as the knight drew closer resting on Finstertöter as he stood over the monster breathing heavily, armor blackened from fire and broken in some places.

With a pained grunt, he raised his greatsword in both hands and swung it downwards like an executioner's guillotine. No guttural cries, no long winded speech to give, no hesitation as he brought his blade down upon the monster's neck.

Faced with imminent death, Catpaw snarled, and activated Zoomies. The monster lunged out of the way on all fours, also dodging a followup slash from Nadia in the process. Instead of sinking into their foe’s flesh the Seekers’ blades clanged together, and with a loud snap the feral another blade. “Dammit!” She whirled around, but without time for any other option was forced to block the Zoomies punch. To her surprise, the attack -being Beast type- had no other effect, so rather than take another ounce of block pressure Nadia whipped out her dagger Athame and let it fly.

Her Vantage counter knocked Catpaw back, worsening its defenses even further, but that wasn’t all Nadia had planned. It also slid to a stop in a pool of her own leftover blood, and with a simple command, her Copycat erupted from it to wrap her arms around Catpaw in a headlock. “It wasn’t in vein!” The feral instantly got blasted by an Energy Shot for her pun, but as she tumbled away she was laughing nevertheless; she wasn’t the one who’d be finishing things. “Now say good-knight!”

Sparks flew from Finstertöter, like the monster's claws had when they dragged across the rough stonework. His blade screeched as he launched himself at Catpaw wildly slashing it with a wicked upward cleave, sending the monster flying backwards down the bed of the aqueduct the force of the attack. The follow through left him slamming Finstertöter with a thunderous clang against the floor, next to him laid the feral and though he hesitated still driven by the will to fight he lifted Nadia to her feet locking eyes like both Cat-5 and Southpaw had. They'd end this together.

“Lemme at ‘em!” Nimbly Nadia climbed up on the knight’s sword, pointing downrange like a homerun star before a grand slam, and once he understood what the cat-eared lunatic wanted, he swung with all his might to send the feral flying. As she hurtled toward Southpaw, she kept her limbs clasped on Finstertoter, allowing her fibers to stretch to their greatest extent. Only after a moment did she snap her muscles tight like four giant rubber bands, slinging the greatsword through the air. It shot past her, with Artorias running behind it, and as she fell to the ground she didn’t watch it lodge in the fusion’s body.

The knight's joints burned, deft as his movements were following through the attack. Artorias launched himself forward into the air and grabbed Finstertöter by the hilt, pulling the weapon clean from the fusion and slamming it into the stone floor with such force where the monster stood that the ground cracked.

Even as his foe lay dissolved into ash he grunted, slamming the blade against the stone floor with a thunderous boom as metal struck stone he raised his sword again…

“H-hey, careful not to crush the spirits. We can use those…” Breathing heavily, Nadia got to her feet, an uneasy look on her face as she watched Artorias go nuts. “Feel like trash…” she groaned, thoroughly electrocuted but healing slowly. Still, they’d finished their foe off with style, and both of the beasts’ spirits lay on the aqueduct’s bed. One down, Nadia thought, turning to see what had become of the other fusion. One to go.

Unfortunately, things weren’t going as hot. Deciwoods had spent its initiative on Broadcast, giving itself Multitarget. Then it filled the gloom with the horrible discordant racket of Metal Riffs, assailing both Jesse and Rubick with a wall of gouging force as if the air itself were viciously saw-toothed. When it began to fire off Multi-shots, barrages of air bullets hurtled toward both opponents at once. While the fight against Catpaw had gone in the Seekers’ favor, Deciwoods had been dealing some serious damage, especially to Rubick. Rubick activated his Magic Wand, which granted him a sliver of health and mana, but it was still a far cry from his peak condition.

“You know,” Jesse said, Evading past the air bullets using Levitation. She landed on the narrow structure and sprinted back as the projectiles cut into the stone.

“It just hit me. Why are we doing this again?” She asked.

Rubick looked at Jesse quizzically. “Whatever do you mean? When it comes to solving puzzles, there’s nothing quite like complications,” he replied.

Nadia furrowed her brow. Normally she’d be happy to help, but after this battle on top of the deep-seated debilitation dealt by the fight with Consul P, she just didn’t have much gas left in the tank. The team needed a way out. She looked around, her eyes quickly settling on the battlefield itself. As she scoped out the aqueduct and basin the group had been fighting in, a fresh idea popped into her head, a certified Ms Fortune classic. “Brace yourself, ‘cause I’ve had a river-lation,” she announced to Artorias. Rather than run toward the battle, she dashed the other way, scooping up her boxcutter hilts and detached blades from where they’d fallen, as well as the beasts’ spirits. After a few seconds she reached the first basin, where she hauled herself up onto the platform by the pooled water and grabbed hold of the lever. “We’ll be leavin’...currently!”

She yanked the lever, and the gate slid down. Instantly the water flooded down the aqueduct, quickly sweeping Artorias up in its flow. Nadia jumped in herself, and when the wall of water bore down Rubick and Jesse, the feral was right there with them. “Watch me ‘sluice’ right in!” The wave swallowed them up and bore them onward from the second basin, where Nadia had already lowered the gate prior to the fight. The whole team streamed away from Deciwoods, quickly outpacing its parting shots, and after another few moments passed through the station’s loop to be dumped down right next to the waterwheel.

Nadia bobbed to the surface of the canal. “Whoo! How’s that for ex-stream?” Laughing weakly, she threw herself onto the canal’s edge before the flow could take her away again, and climbed up out of the water. Overhead, the turn of the waterwheel activated the hidden mechanisms, and the barred door opened up like a massive zipper. Magikrab stood nearby, watching in silence, and Nadia gave him a halfhearted wave as she lay by the channel, chest heaving.
Meanwhile as Artorias dragged himself onto the edge of the canal the knight shook his head "Verily thou arte quite the character." the knight told her, following up with a metallic thump as he laid out on the ground with a grunt, hand still tightly grasping his somewhat battered and cracked sword.

His armor was in a sorry state from their battle, pieces of it were missing or burnt black from fire, his helmet was dented in a few places. Artorias made a mental note to visit the skeletal blacksmith again on their way back if time allowed.

Jesse pulled herself out of the water. “Shit.” She tilted her head to the side and smacked the other side of her head. “Got water in my ear. Damn it.”

Rubick appeared in the air, Blink Dagger in hand, and landed on the ground with a splat! He rolled onto his side and coughed violently, clearing his lungs of water. “Not my finest moment,” he croaked as he slowly got back up onto his feet.

After a moment Nadia got to her feet, wiping her wet hair from her face. “I guess we got away,” she muttered with a wary look at the pipe above the water wheel. That other fusion must have been too big to fit in. Making a conscious effort to avoid Jesse’s gaze out of guilt for unleashing the beasts in the first place, she withdrew the spirits of Southpaw and Cat-5 from her pouch. “Here,” she said to Artorias as she offered him the wolf’s spirit. “Seems like a good fit, and ya earned it. Crushin’ it’ll give ya some kind of loot, but if ya stick it in your heart or head you can get its powers or skills. Just don’t be surprised if ya come out of it with dog ears, nyeheh.” The feral then focused her attention on the feline spirit, thinking. Just yesterday she remembered fretting about slowly losing her cat-ness thanks to her other fusions. This seemed…well, purr-fect. Then again, she didn’t want any extra fur, and she did worry a little about that bizarre device Cat-5 had in place of a head.

He stared at the faintly glowing spirit in his hands for a moment, he knew that souls had the potential to make one stronger yet he never knew one could absorb the sum of one's being into oneself. His grip tightening around the spirit yet relaxed as he hesitated, what of the wolf's strengths? Such a worthy opponent had proven to be more than a match for him so his hand resolved to thrust the glowing orb into his helmet, he would take the sum of its strengths and make them his own.

Seeing Artorias take the plunge, Nadia made her decision. “Oh, what the hell.”

When the light died down, Nadia quickly felt her face. Nose, cheeks, ears, everything in order. No weird screen, thank goodness! Disappointment flooded through her, however, when she found that her hair had changed colors. “Black!?” she groaned. Just my luck. The loss of the white hair dye she purchased in Argentum really hurt right about now. That realization paled in comparison, however, to her surprise when she noticed her legs. “Holy mackerel!” she gasped, falling flat on her rear. In stunned surprise she held up her new paws and wiggled her toes. After a couple seconds she let out an uneasy laugh. “T-that’s new.” Slowly she got up, trying to get used to a new way of standing. “Well, not sure if it’s a paw-sitive, but I guess I’ll be dealin’ with it ‘til we see Peach again.”

Her eyes turned to the yawning darkness of the newly-opened tunnel on the other side of the rushing river. “Might as well see what we spent all that effort tryin’ to open, right?”

Jesse looked at the all new versions of Nadia and Artorias. She wasn’t sure if Fusion was for her. She didn’t want to distill her powers, or specialize too heavily in something. She was very happy with her alchemist Striker.

It never gets old no matter how many times I see it,” Rubick said, still curious about how Fusion worked. Taking another’s power by incorporating their being into yourself sounded like a simple concept, but being able to do so with so few downsides even without outside interference was an incredible ability. Unfortunately, as far as Rubick could tell, it seems to only work within this hodgepodge of a multiverse, as Rubick was sure he had never encountered Spirits back in his own world. He sighed, realizing the futility of this research topic.

“Yep.” Jesse said. “That quick thinking with the lever meant we got to skip the fight. I mean, I guess we already could have skipped the fight if we just decided not to open the chests, but… well, y’know, whatever, who cares, it’s all good.” Jesse said, trying not to make Nadia feel any worse in case for some reason she did. After a grateful look at Jesse, Nadia jumped over the gap and padded into the tunnel.

The light here was poor, but not prohibitive, especially for a cat. Within the tunnel lay a pair of creaky, rusty turnstyles, and beyond them a single train platform. No enemies could be seen, but the instant Nadia stepped into this final room, a chill ran down her spin. She arched her back, flattened her ears, and balked with wide eyes. Something was off about this place. It was shifting, subtly glitching, and a low droning sound like radio static echoed throughout it, even through the newcomers’ heads. The air here tasted acrid. Coppery. Like burned metal. It made the feral’s skin crawl. On either side of the solitary train track, the pitch blackness in the tunnels seemed to squirm. When she opened her mouth, she dared not speak above a whisper.

“This is bad. This feels…wrong. I gotta say…even if it’s anticlimactic, I’m fine just, y’know, leavin’. Like, right now, fast-as-we-can-type leavin’.” She shifted nervously side to side.

“Feel free.” Jesse said, looking around the place with great interest. Creepy. Off. There might be something more to this place. Like peeling back a poster.

Jesse walked to the turnstiles that sit in the center of the room, and the train tracks. “This place reminds me of an AWE. Not that you would know what that is, but…well, it’s pretty much my job to investigate places that give people the creeps.”

Jesse was going to try and activate these turnstiles somehow, maybe with a push, once the others had made their decision to stay or go. As much as she wanted to leave, the sight of Jesse forging onward made her hesitate. Though the almost eldritch atmosphere of this place injected dread deep into her very bones, her curiosity nagged at her. Just what was going to happen when the FBC director pushed past those decrepit machines…? She had to know.

Slowly, carefully, Jesse drew closer to the tracks. After a few moments, there came a familiar rumble, quickly building in strength. From the black abyss of the tunnels issued an old-fashioned locomotive, green in color, and it came to a stop at the platform with a screech that made Nadia’s hairs stand on end. The doors of its passenger car slammed open, and from within stepped its lone passenger.

Its arrival sent a fresh wave of anathema rippling through reality. Visual aberrations broke out on every available surface; the air twisted and writhed with a damnably insectoid quality. Slowly, the outsider stood to its full height, a staggering twenty feet. Milk-white skin…ivory crown…a yellow, leering grin. The archangel turned to face the heroes, fixing them with its eyeless gaze. Its abominable giggle squirmed wetly in their minds, and the sight of it hurt their heads.


Its voice was poison, a whisper, but tyrannically loud.


Rubick was no stranger to seeing abnormal entities, but it never got any easier to deal with them. Every inch of his skin crawled in its presence, but he forced himself to look at it anyway. He guessed that doing the alternative would be worse. “Who… or perhaps, what… are you?” Rubick struggled to ask.

“Uh, hi there.” Jesse greeted. “I’m Jesse. Is this your…train station?”


From the ground, the walls, the air, striped tentacles began to emerge. Still stranger shapes began to appear, moving and bopping as if in a dance. Tentacles began to overgrow the exit. Gritting her teeth, Nadia sharpened her new claws and slashed at them, forcing them to recede. With everyone’s level of damage and fatigue, they couldn’t fight something like this. “We gotta go-!” she cried.

”I AM THE KING OF NOTHING” From beneath its crimson shawl the Nowhere Monarch stretched out its hands. Two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two. They reached out, grasping, accepting. ”COME, LET ME CONSUME YOUR EMPTINESS”

Rubick had no argument. “Agreed, let us depart,” he said urgently, Fade Bolting a cluster of tentacles that was getting a little too close.

Jesse took a wide stance, gripping her Service Weapon in both hands. She cast a look over her shoulder though as Nadia began to retreat. All right, fair enough. It doesn’t seem like the King is hurting anyone down here anyway.

She glanced back at the King. “No, actually, we’re good.” She said, then evaded over to the entrance where she used Spin to carve a chunk out of the tentacles with Nadia using machine gun fire. They recoiled at the bullets’ touch, and together the three of them raced back down the tunnel they came from. Once reunited with Artorias, Nadia, Jesse, and Rubick made a mad dash out of King’s Station, hounded by the hideous laughter of the Nowhere Monarch. The archangel, and any pertinent knowledge possessed by the Magikrab, would have to wait until later.
Hidden 12 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
Avatar of DracoLunaris

DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 13 hrs ago

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 3997 (+5 (for Rika and Jr only))
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (213/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (94/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (88/120)
Rika: Level 7 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (90/70)
Location: The Under - Home of Tears

While the older troop members set out to do the ever so boring task of selling stuff, Jr and Rika resolved to go take part in the much more interesting activity of buying things.

First thing’s first, they loaded up with tapes, the prince having talked Rika and only Rika into this whole monster transformation and then combination thing being a good idea. This turned out to be a winning option however, as the girl turned out to have a hefty wallet when it came to her cash reserves.

It was only after they had gotten the tapes that the issue of how to record things came up, prompting a trip out of the market again. Or rather a race out there, with jr drifting through the streets while Rika sailed up the miniature rivers running down every street caused by the endless rainfall.

The prince, who had reliable roads instead of inconsistent gutters, held his own till they reached the collection, with its many waterways. There, Rika started to catch up, only to nearly run afoul of some kind of oversized jellyfish, halting the race as she first blasted it, and then limped to shore to get her stings seen too by the prince.

”ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch. Someone really should do something about those that water’s not tactically secured at all” she complained as Jr cast healing spells on her.

“I think some folks are on that already, fortunately enough. A tall, fiery headed fellow with white swords who I would think was a human for one” came a comment from the owner of the stall they had stopped by.

”Sounds like Ganondorf” Jr replied, before snorting at the thought of the king of evil warlock punching the water like some insane fisherman, before taking a look at the living stuffed toy cat who had informed them of this fact.

“A friend of yours? Do thank them from me if you see them later then, that quest has been up on the board for much too long” the cat, who was named Seam, replied, and then pointed them over to a handy nearby commissions board when they inquired what he meant by that.

”Should we check it out? Kamek said they’d be a while after all” Rka asked, to which Jr replied ”Sure sure, just as soon as we’ve got those tape recorders”

“Tape recorders you say? Well now, aren't you lucky, because I just so happen to have a few. Or a pair to be exact. Oddly popular with humans, those. They come here, buy one, and then never come again. Funny that” the stuffed feline merchant informed them, smiling a little knowingly at his own comment.

“I suppose you’ll be wanting one for much the same reasons?” he then added, looking at Rika, who looked rather human from the waist up these days.

”Yup, but I’m not a human, I’m a ship” she replied, confusing him a little, and then confusing him more when she pulled of an armored boot and popped a reptilian foot up on the encounter ”Plus I have these now”

“I see,” the cat replied in the awkward moment that followed, one that only ended once Jr lifted the foot back off the table and said that ”Yeah, we’d like those. How much?”

“Not even wanting to see the goods first? Well that works for me, ha ha ha” the cat replied as he turned to go fetch them from his stash of odds an ends and popped a pair down on the table, each one coming complete with a set of headphones “that’ll be 120 each, so 240, if you please”

The two put their money on the table, and with a “thanks for that” the cat took their cash and pushed the items closer for them to pick up. Rika, naturally, tried hers on for size at once, while jr did the same … and realized that they didn’t fit on his head all that comfortably, particularly considering his ears were now up top, what with him being a cat-koopa and all now.

“Probably should have looked at them first” Seam said with mild amusement, before politely offering “I can take them back off your hands if you aren't satisfied”

”Nah I can just tinker with them a bit, probably” Jr replied as he inspected the cheap plastic band, and theorizing that, if that was stripped carefully away, he could free the cables and then assemble some kind of clips to attach them to his ears.

“Very practical of you. Now, can I interest you in anything else?” Seam asked, and then shrugged when the prince told him no.

”Oh, do you know what I can do with this?” Rika asked, showing him the fan of knives mod she had gotten from one of the cheese thieves, and getting pointed towards a local smith as a result.

After that, they bid the cat farewell, made a quick stop to get said mod cheaply installed in her left gauntlet, and then the two checked out the quest board.

After a bit of discussion, they decided to look into the fluke situation, but, lacking knowledge of how to get down into the waterways, they asked a guard, who then directed them towards one of the residential districts being harassed by the bugs in question.

There they came across a scene of a team of armored siren officers armed with runic sheilds lead by a axalotol looking siren preparing to raid an apartment building while several monster residents huddled outside, waiting for the all clear to be allowed back into their homes.

“You’re not the first ones to ask, and the last group didn’t come back” the leader of the group, officer Tethys, replied when asked about more details about the waterways and the gate.

”Whoever they were, I bet they were nothing compared to us!” Jr retorted self confidently, to which Rika added ”Mm hmm. Not that we can really prove it, but we’ve dealt with all sorts of dangerous stuff, I promise”

“Hmmm. Maybe you can prove it, and give my girls a rest while you’re at it. We’ve been on damage control all day, so how about this: you clear this one of flukes for us and prove you can handle yourselves against them, and then I’ll give you the details. Deal?” the officer cunningly replied, which got agreement from both of them.

“Great. Call if you need us to bail you out. Oh and try not to break anything. The people want their homes back in one piece after all” she requested, before gesturing for them to enter.

The two did, and found themselves in an ever so ordinary apartment building, the pair climbing (or hovering in Jr’s case) up the central stairway, following the sound of a strange sucking sound. They came across a broken down door, and when they peeked into it they found a cozy little home with pictures of a happy monster family on the wall.

Said family where currently outside however, and in their place where two hovering flukes watching as a big lanky one rummaging around an open (and beeping from being open to long) fridge.

”You're under arrest! You have the right to remain silent” Jr cheerfully shouted at them, getting their attention.

They immediately gave up that right as the two floating flukes (known as flukefey) swooped towards them, mouths peeling back and revealing a dozen sharp teeth and screeching as they went.

Rika, naturally, leveled her guns at them, only for Jr to shout ”No damage to the house, remember!” forcing her to quickly switch to a crude guard with her gauntlets. One smashed into that, but the other slipped down low and clipped her armored leg, bruising it through the metal before it kept on swooping.

Fortunately raced right into a saw blade slash from jr’s clown car which ripped up its face, and then a boxing glove punch sent its body sailing back across the room.

On a shaky leg Rika shoved her flukefey back, and used her hull blades to chop at it when it came in again, unknowingly mirroring jr s strategy as she followed that up with a gauntlet punch, though hers was tipped with a chainsaw gauntlet, sending the shredded corpse flying past the tall one as it came in to body tackle her.

It smashed into her before she could steady herself after her own punch, but she used her maneuvering thrusters to stop herself being knocked over, and the flat of her hull blades to push it back.

“Food ours. Stole first!” the fluke claimed with a feminine pitch as it stabilized itself after the pushback and prepared to charge in again

”I don’t want your food, I want your life” Rika retorted, only for Jr to call out ”Wait wait, don’t kill this one yet, I wanna record it!”, as he took out the tape recorder and prepped to do just that

”What, now?” Rika called back as she and the fluke started brawling, both of them relying mostly on brute force in the tight confines of the home.

”Just beat on it for 10 seconds and then we can end this” jr requested, a request which the ship girl found herself obliging even as she was forced to take on the full brunt of the fluk’s full body tackles.

Seven seconds later saw her holding it back with hull blades and one arm as it tried to use its fang filled sucker mouth to eat her face while she used her left arm to bunch it in the gut.

”Get. off. Me. - eek” the ship girl started as her new weapon mod, installed on the left gauntlet she was using to punch, triggered, shotgunning the fluke with knives at point blank range.

The blades scythed right through the fluke, splitting it in half and sending each half tumbling to the floor.

”Hey come on I almost had it!” Jr started to complain, only to be very confused when the tape clicked upon finishing recording, in a manner in which he assumed meant it had finished successfully.

”Huh?” he said confused, right as the two halves of the fluke, which notably had not turned to ash, suddenly rose up, the top half floating through the air while the bottom half revealed a second maw at the point at which it had split, and attacked

Both children screamed in panic, sending the officer outside racing up the stairs after them, but once she had gotten there, she found the two unharmed. The same could not be said for the apartment, which now had some bullet holes punched in the wall, and part of the carpet was on fire as a result of the two’s panicked response to the fluke’s final hurrah.

“Tsk tsk, what did I say about property damage” the officer said once she took in the scene

”You could have said they split in half! That was freaky” Jr complained as he got Dazzle to put out the fire.

”I mean, I guess we know now, so better when it's just one than when there's a load in the waterways?” Rika noted strategically.

“Exactly, the young lady gets it” the siren agreed “and now I know you can handle some flukes, and the unexpected, so I am way less leary about sending you down there to deal with them. So don’t worry too much about the property damage, lives are more important after all. Which also means you two can feel free to back out of this if it gets too rough, ok? We’ll still pay bounty on the flukes”

”Eh, we’ll be fine” Jr insisted at the same time as Rika replied with a salute and a ”Yes Ma’am”

“You’ve got a good head on those shoulders human, make sure you keep it” the officer told Rika, to which the girl responded ”Actually I’m a ship” once again, though this time she did not try and show off her lizard legs to additionally correct the false assumption

“Alright mis ship” the officer responded near seamlessly, before filling them in on what they needed to know.

Once they knew where it was, the majority of the trek through the waterways was a breeze, the pair using Rika’s plane to scout ahead, and picking off the odd handful of flukes here and there as they went, and collecting the spirits as proof of their kills. The only real issue they encountered where nests, which were home to narrow tunnel filling Flukemunga which would slide across the floor to attack like living battering rams.

After being chased out of a tunnel by one, and then turning their firepower on it once up a few ledges that it could not follow them up, they found the oversized creatures to be incredibly bullet spongy. As a result the pair agreed to just avoid them, the spirit it dropped almost certainly not being worth the cost in energy and ammunition needed to take it down. It’d drown once they were done anyway.

When they finally found the Royal Sluice, a great gate in a wall that groaned audibly from the pressure pressing against it, they also found a culpable mosh pit of flukes meandering around it. Fliers, walkers and big fat sliders alike, along with a host of the little grubs being tended to by their sisters.

Either something among their number had been smart enough to predict the way the city would try to deal with them this way … or the channel in-front of the gate was just a big convenient space that led to all the other tunnels. Certainly, the piles of stolen food and prevalence of grubs gave the indication that this second option was correct. What gave the indication of the first was that the duo caught sight of the party that the officer had mentioned had gone down before them.

Or rather they caught sight of their spirits: a fiery mage, a huking warrior, an eyeless healer and a serpintile rogue had all met their end at this final hurdle, and though the fluke spirits also laying around indicated they had taken down a fair number of foes down with them, it clearly hadn’t been enough.

By Rika’s estimate, as she observed this with a scout plane she was hiding in the shadows of the ceiling, it wasn’t enough of a thinning of the herd to let them take an easy victory either.

”Come on. We can take em” was Jr’s predictable response when she told him about all this.

”I dunno, it really doesn't seem like a good idea” Rika tried to tell him, only for the boy to try and badger her into doing his way, which might have worked had a cluster of wisps that had been shadowing them this whole time not swooped into silently back her up via forming a hovering cross of disagreement.

”What? Oh come on Kamek, we can handle ourselves” the prince told the mage’s remote minders huffily, and then started arguing with the voiceless spirits till Rika had an idea, one that she leaned in to whisper, and got a near instant agreement on.

A little while later, a totally normal and not at all suspicious fluke waddled on past the children’s former hiding spot.

”Careful, careful, you're gonna drop me” the top half complained, while the bottom half retorted ”I am not. It’s just tricky to hold on with just these teeth things”

Or at least that is what they tried to say, but the flukes’ bodies did not really allow for the greatest deal of coherent articulation. Either way, the two children in a trench coat, or rather making up the top and bottom halves of a fluke which they had turned into via tapes (having rather easily tracked down and then laboriously record the second half they needed before returning) wobbled their way into the room filled with yet more of ‘their’ kind.

The pair wisly shut their traps at this point, and did their best to blend in, Rika’s new legs carrying them in a meandering path that did not look at all suspicious. It got worse when they passed through the area where the fallen monster heroes’ spirits lay, and jr immediately gave into greed and tried to bed down to grab them, an action entirely uncoordinated with Rika, which caused her to lose grip and for him to tip off of her ‘shoulders’ and go sprawling onto the floor with the spirits scattered before him as every fluke nearby turned to inspect the sound.

There was a little moment of stillness, before jr scramblingly gathered up the monster spirits in his stubby little arm and took an embarrassing amount of time to hop back on top of his ‘lower half’. It was only once he was back and the ‘fluke’ had stopped to embarrass ‘herself’ that one of the other ones asked “what do?” with regards to the spirit collection to which the prince floundered for a response till he came upon: ”Tidying? Uh, messy glowing things, not neat?”

“Tidying?” “Tidying” “Tidying!” “Clean nest!” “Glowy things away!” went a round of replies, as the flukes came around to this novel idea, and immediately several of them started copying Jr in gathering up the spirits in-order to dispose of them, denying them any more unearned loot

Not that Rika would have gone and let them go near any more to repeat the incident, and instead she made a b-line straight for the goal. With a fair bit of difficulty they shimmied up a ladder leading out of the water channel, and up to the control systems for it. Well, control systems was a bit of a generous way of describing the big rusty wheel the pair came face to face with when they got up there.

Still, this was it, they’d made it, and despite a hiccup along the way, they were about to pull off their stealth operation without a hitch.

Then Jr tried to pull the crank, and it made just the loudest, screechiest sound as the old unused rusted metal ground against yet more of the same, resisting every turn. That certainly got some curious looks from the flukes, some of whom started to get an inkling that this was bad right as the alarm bells started ringing, warning everyone and everything nearby that the gate was about to open. That, plus a trickle of water that would herald the flood, 100% blew their cover.

“Water!” “stop!” “kill!” came cries, as the flukes all turned to storm towards the children, the sky filling with Flukefey as the Flukemon and Flukemunga became a swarm charging towards the raised platform.

There was the click of two tapes being paused, and then Rika and Jr (who was wearing custom made cat ear compatible clip on earphones) were there in person again, disguises discarded. The prince tossed two pokeballs over his shoulder before he grabbed the wheel with his claws, getting a far better grip using them than the stubby arms of the fluke and beginning to turn.

Behind him Mimi and Dazzle burst from their pokeballs, and immediately were rocked by the sound of gunfire as Rika opened up with all guns upon the incoming barrage of Flukefeys.

Rifle fire, shells, and ink flak all were let loose, swiftly being joined by the mon’s own electrical and watery blasts. The first wave that slipped through this AA screen hammer straight into Rika’s Knight and Cloyster strikers using shield and shell to block their charge, while the second met even more firepower as jr added super scoped armed Primid and pan tossing chef bro strikers to their firepower. A final bust of knives going off in sync with an all out adult from Rika’s blaster bought them a moment of clear air space just in time for the ground assault to start.

The first Flukemon to climb the ladder meanwhile got a face full of wisps, the little motes zapping the bug when it hit them, stunning it and sending it falling down among its kin. The second got a boot from Rika, sending it down in much the same way. Then the oversized Flukemunga rammed into the base of the platform, and acted as siege towers for their sisters to climb atop.

”No no no no,” Rika panicked as she switched to melee fighting, smashing flukes down with gauntlet punches, blocking and chopping with her hull blades. At her side Mimi lashed out with her claws, Dazzle with staggering penguin leaps, the whips with more zaps and a pack of goobas boodilly tackled flukes off of the platform. Despite all this, it looked like they might still go the way of the monster adventurers as Rika cried out for jr to ”Hurry uuuuup!”

”I’ve got it!” jr cried out in response, as with one final wrench the wheel broke free of all its rust, and spun smoothly at last, the gate opening, and the flood sweeping in. Torrents of water washed in, sweeping away first grubs, then Flukemon and finally the Flukemunga.

And, naturally, all of the spirits that had fallen down below during the battle.

It didn’t clear the skies either, as the few remaining Flukefey who dived in to try and avenge their sisters interrupted the kids' cheers to demonstrate, but they, too, fell when faced with both of them working together to cut them down to the last.

”We did it! We saved the city!” Jr cheered, while Rika sat herself down on the edge of the platform to rest and toned back the victory a little bit with ”Well, or some peoples houses and food and stuff anyway” before thinking and commenting that ”Anyway, this better not end up like the cheese thing and be super bad paying”

”I mean we got the spirits and stuff, so that’ll probably work out either way” Jr pointed out, remembering how the humble cheese slime had netted them an incredibly shiny hat that he was sure his Papa would have made bank off of by now, and not have been ripped off of by a scummy auction house.

At any rate, all there was left to do was gather up the spirits that hadn’t been washed away (there weren't that many) and then head back to the surface. The flooded tunnels might have made that tricky for some, but for the ship girl and the flying car riding prince, that was no issue.

Everything after that was plain sailing (literally for Rika). They followed the flowing water back to where they had entered the waterways, where they were greeted by an impressed officer Tethys, who directed them to the guard’s headquarters. A quick stop by First Officer Lobster Siren’s office, an account from one of Tethys’s shield officers of their success and an accounting of their fluke spirits (14 fliers, 8 walkers and 1 of the big ones) got them handed a hefty bag filled with 3000 gold pieces in it.

The two where delighted by this (and Rika slightly readjusted her view on paid work, in that murder, it seemed, paid well) and where eager to go blow it all at once, but some insistent prodding by their wisp escort directed them instead to go link up with Kamek and Bowser.

Jr was, it had to be said, a little miffed about them having given away all the toys, only to be placated by the fact that they’d kept a few of the more portable items for his amusement. That was how both kids enjoyed some game monster-kid gaming over a hearty supper, and after that they were all more than ready to hit the sack.

Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 0-24 hrs ago

Word Count: 703 (+1 exp)
Level: 4 - Total EXP: 129/40
Location: Dystopiascape - Midgar: Sector 06

After Giovanna informed everyone that the other half of the Seekers in Midgar also had suffered a loss, being Princess Peach no less, a lot of the optimism Pit had tried drumming up evaporated. They'd been in battle, casualties should be expected (and they weren't even dead, just compromised), but it still stung. He found himself at a loss of what to say, so he stayed quiet.

He remained quiet, uncharacteristically so, throughout the move from Seventh Heaven to Sector 06. At certain points he even had his eyes tightly closed. To the outside observer it might have looked like he was meditating, at least until his eyebrows pinched together and his nose wrinkled up. After that it appeared he might have been thinking of something unpleasant, perhaps ruminating on what had happened with Poppi and Peach. That wasn't technically correct, but it was part of it.

What Pit was actually trying to do was the same thing he'd been trying over the last several days: contact the Goddess of Light.

Lady Palutena's wisdom would be invaluable right about now. She always knew what to do, and how best to help people. He knew that he didn't really have anything to do with the mental connection between himself and Palutena - it was all a result of the Goddess establishing and maintaining that link with her telepathy. Even so he couldn't just give up on trying to reach out to her, even if he had no idea how to.

Come on, Pit! Just... think... harder! Graaaah!! He raised his finger tips to the laurel crowning his head, imitating Raz and some other psychics.

By the time everyone had reunited in the Hublink just outside of Sector 06, the only thing Pit had managed to do was give himself a headache.

So it was that when they rolled up together to the security check point and needed to find a way in for all of them past the robotic guardsmen, the angel couldn't offer a solution faster than Blazermate or Midna. They'd come to the same conclusion, one that was pretty simple: teleport in. "Can't argue with that," he said.

Pit himself was part of the group waiting on Blazermate to set up her teleporter. In the mean time some of the Seekers picked through the clothing Midna dropped off before joining those going through the checkpoint, but just as he'd done the morning before Pit declined to change.

"The angel's code of conduct says that we must always be ready for duty," he stated matter-of-factually, the same code he'd quoted yesterday. "Plus this has to count as 'high society!' It's a divine uniform."

He would end up sticking out, but that wasn't a concern of his. His chiton was a little dusty but still intact, and the gold accented ensemble had to count for something didn't it? At least it would be better than, say, Geralt's grizzled armor...

When finally they were summoned through the teleporter into the City of Glass, Pit looked around at the shining city and let out an impressed, "Wooooow. Tt's big! And bright! Super sci-fi." This is where Tora mentioned the "high tech super-rich" lived and worked, and it certainly looked the part. The people around them looked the part too, and Pit had to admit some of their fashion sense were kind of cool. Maybe he could be convinced to find something to blend in with, as long as it fit over his regular outfit.

Now that they were there, it was time to get a move on. Goldlewis pointed out the enormous V-shaped building as their destination, or close enough to it anyway. Wonder what that place is even for. Are the rooms inside it slanted? Must be owned by someone really full of themselves... As for getting there, since it was across the water, a boat would be the easiest wouldn't it? Pit nodded, agreeing with Tora suggestion. A suggestion which quickly devolved into stealing, requisitioning, and even mind controlling.

"Wait, wait!" Pit exclaimed, eyes wide and looking between Midna, Zenkichi, and Geralt. "As cool as it would be to flash a badge like, Police, I need your vehicle! We could just ask first, you know?"
Hidden 12 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 4 days ago

Sakura Level 9: 49/90
Karin Level 5: 44/50
Location: City of Glass
Word Count: short
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 9: 50/90
Karin Level 5: 45/50

”You don’t look that much older than me…” Sakura complained mostly to herself in regards to Giovanna’s comment. If getting more mature meant getting numb to injustice, then maybe Sakura would just stay naive. Not that she was some big hero or whatever, but…still. If she didn’t care about fighting for what she thought was right, she wouldn’t have come along.

Karin set a hand on Sakura’s shoulder. ”The injustice is-”

”Oooh no! I don’t want to hear anything about that from you. You own your own freakin’ private mountain in the middle of Japan!” Sakura said, waggling her finger in the air.

”But that’s my estate. I thought you said you understood that part? I can have a big house. I’m rich.” Karin replied.

”Yeah but, man, your house is bigger than my entire neighborhood. ANd it’s not even your only house!” Sakura said.

”...Well, this is all besides the point. We have to focus on the task at hand.” Karin said. ”Besides…I definitely deserve it.”
Later, Karin walked into the City of Glass with the other pass users. Even if she didn’t fit the look exactly, she carried the aura of someone who would rip apart anyone who dared question her presence. The city was impressively built, though as Geralt pointed out, it lacked any natural beauty.

”Spot on. That’s why I had a mountain built within my property. Nothing can beat the beauty of the natural world!” She said proudly, somehow.

Once in the bathroom, Sakura came out. Perhaps she didn’t get the memo entirely, because she was still in her headband and fighting gloves. The suit fit her short but athletic frame nicely, however. She was wearing black slacks, a black suit, and a white long sleeved undershirt. But again, the white headband and fighting gloves might have been a bit of a give away.

”My dad would be so proud if he could see me now.” Sakura remarked wryly.

”No longer a thuggish street fighter. An upstanding member of society.” Karin responded, suave.

Sakura squinted, shielding her eyes from the sun. ”This place is hard to look at.” She said. That was when she saw Tora, all by himself, and her face fell all over again. He was so sad! With a sigh, she adjusted the cufflinks of her new shirt and steeled herself. If they were going to save Peach and Poppi, they would just have to keep pushing forward.

Karin rubbed her chin as Geralt brought up his plan. Midna’s too. Sakura looked pretty concerned. ”Uuh...geez. I guess if we have to steal, we could. Are we really that broke?” She said. ”What if we just asked really nicely?” She wondered aloud.

Then Sakura walked, no, practically skipped, towards the pier. Much to Karin’s chagrin.

Sakura would open up to any stranger with a boat with a polite bow, her hands at her sides. ”Pleased to meet you! Me and my friends need to get across the river. Could you help us? Or point us in the direction of a ferry?” If someone refused, she’d just say ‘thanks’ and move right along to the next person! It was one of her go-to problem solving skills. When she began her fighting journey she just ran around town looking for strong people to ask to fight out of the blue.
Hidden 12 mos ago 12 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 9 days ago

Featuring: Benedict Pascal
Wordage: 551 (+1 points)
Experience: 6/30 EXP Experience: 0/40 (LVL+)
Location: Hublink Terminal ➡ City of Glass
Goldlewis, Tora & Giovanna's @Lugubrious, Geralt & Zenkichi's @Multi_Media_Man, Blazermate & Susie's @Archmage MC, Karin & Sakura's @Zoey Boey, Roxas' @Double, Benedict's @Dark Cloud and Pit’s @Yankee

Standing by the goliath of a man, the merchant nodding with Goldlewis's sentiment "Hoo-wee, we ain't got fancy arch-it-ecture like this back home. Must’ve been a whole bunch of leaves put into buildin' something like this." the whole place boggled the antiquated perceptions of the merchant's mind though it made him wonder how the folk up here could live so differently than them poor souls deep below, it made him furow his brow and frown a bit.

"Pretty as it may be, it is ugly to me when I think bout' the folk scrapin' by down below." shaking his head in disbelief the man who had introduced himself as Benedict found the merchant's view a bit naive, needless to say it was simply how the way the world worked. Those with wealth, power, and influence controlled the world.

"Unfortunately that is the way things work," frankly it was unfortunate for those living in the lower Sectors that their government absolved no amount of their struggles while solely focusing on furthering their own aims. But to him it mattered little in furthering his own ambitions to lift the common man if it did little to benefit himself. Though it would certainly gain the loyalty of those less fortunate, that was something to consider...

"Well pardon me mister fancy pants for air'n the lungs but to hell with that kinda darn world. Someday I'll change the foundations, build my own way to help folk in this mean old world." the merchant looked the straight faced man in the eyes with a hard set jaw, the strategist face was inscrutable but as he adjusted his spectacles he allowed himself a sigh seeing that the man wouldn't see things rationally instead he relented sighing.

"Passionate to a fault, but the idea has some merit I admit." the merchant who had been rearing for a argument, deflated somewhat finding a bit of common ground with the rigid fellow. Partitio smiled a little adjusting the straps on his chest plate "You sure are a stuffy old feller Ben, but you'll come round I reckon." and Benedict simply hid a smirk, something about Partitio reminded him of an old friend of his.

On the topic of stealing, Partitio bit his tongue since he was split on it being an upstanding move considering it would make them no better than those disreputable folk who preyed on people's pockets so he shook his head.

"Now hold on there, we ain't gonna take anythin' that ain't ours. And I don't dang well care if you say otherwise, even if these big city folk got more than the people down in the Sector's below." he was too stubborn to shake his values, stealing was not something he was taught to do.

Partitio was an upstanding man who wouldn't betray his virtues to gain more in this life, not when he was close to in his past. Benedict comparatively had no issue with stealing though he drew the line if it wasn't planned accordingly, he wasn't about to go off half cocked to rob some poor soul.

"I must echo the sentiments of Mister Partitio, I am unsure such illicit activity would befit us and much less be of benefit in the long run." Partitio took that as an agreement, overlooking most of what Benedict was implying.
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