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Hidden 23 days ago 23 days ago Post by Double
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Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 8 hrs ago

The Under ~ Holograd
The Climb

Word Count: 453
Level 5 Ganondorf: 32/50
Exp: 1
NEW EXP Balance--- 33/50

After getting mildly distracted by the conversation with the black coated little girl, Ganondorf decided he was no longer interested in her and proceeded to get ready for the climb he knew was coming. But before that, he made sure to double check that he had binded the Spirit he picked up and ensured it was a Striker as intended.

Ganondorf also decided he had no need for the Orb that Nadia found. He noted that the others were able to use to undo their Strikers and Fusions and effectively reuse the Spirits in other ways they saw fit. Certainly such a thing could be useful in the future, but for now the Gerudo accepted his Spirits the way they currently were. Well, no more putting it off, it was time to start climbing. The man looked up at the cloud platforms he would have to make use of and rolled his eyes.

"What a joke." Ganondorf muttered under his breath. But there was no other complaints beyond that. He knew it was better to just grit his teeth and get it over with rather than stand around grumbling. He had to jump from cloud to cloud, sometimes his weight kept him from jumping high enough and he'd have to grab an edge and pull himself up. He could already tell this was going to be slow and that he was definitely not going to be among the the first to arrive.

He was able to occasionally mitigate the climb by re-summoning the phantom horse and using it gallop upwards a distance. But its duration wasn't long enough for Ganondorf to ride it all the way up. Inevitably he did have to resort to the usual jumping and climbing rigmarole. All this blasted climbing served to remind him how much he hated it down in this Goddess-forsaken Under. The Gerudo was going to be glad to leave this hellhole and never come back.
Hidden 23 days ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 12 hrs ago

Nobody’s Here: Shmuetax

Word Count: 2373 (+3)

”Well then-” Kamek, who had also expected the hooded figure to vamoose on out of there once she’d pointed them in the right direction vamoose, began once it was clear that this one would be sticking around ”- I don’t suppose you’d be open to answering some more questions we have?” before glancing at the others for support in this.

He did this just in time to see Rika launch herself into the air via featherfall rune, the ship girl leading the way up the platforming challenge by virtue of not being in any danger whatsoever thanks to said rune’s primary feature. Bowser meanwhile gave him a thumbs up of support, before immediately leaving via leaping up a cloud as well, while finally Jr was busy tinkering around with a commendation of his new ferromancy to weld some of the Zonai machine parts they’d gotten earlier onto a pogostick, prompting Kamek to mentally direct his toadies over be available should the mad contraption he was creating fail to live up to expectations.

With the royals to whom he was advisor to all uninterested, he ended up looking elsewhere for support/interest. Sectonia, both being able to fly and bypass the platforming challenge above, and more astute than the other royal, did stay behind to ask her questions as well. Although she doubted she would get much of anything. His fellow spellcaster in Primrose lingered behind as well, curious to hear the hooded person’s answers. During the time she’d spent with Kamek so far she’d found the old Koopa to be very thorough, but she was sure she’d have a few questions of her own to help fill in the blanks. Assuming, of course, the young lady was willing to answer them.

The Organization girl herself looked far more interested in watching the less cerebral Seekers start their climb than answering any questions from Kamek, but after a moment she gave a shrug. "Ehh, I guess? Just don't ask anythin' shtewpid."

Ah, of course, Primrose thought to herself, amused. Let’s hope she isn’t one to equate simple ignorance with stupidity… The dancer thought the chances of that were slim.

”What do you know about these Consuls and their strange powers? It seems you know a fair amount about the area.” Sectonia asked, noting that these black robed figures and the letter named people seemed fundamentally different.

Her inquiry made the girl give a derisive huff. “Psh. Right tossers they are. There’s twenty-six of ‘em, one for every letter of the flippin’ alphabet, and they’ve got all kinds of nasty abilities. They’re the farmers in a world of sheep, pittin’ everyone against one another and gobblin’ ‘em up when they can’t fight anymore. Hats off to you lot for bumpin’ off P, that rotten little blighter ‘ad it comin’. Unfortunately, that leaves you with the Under’s other Consul, F, and he’s way worse. Sure, P was a problem, but at the end of the day he was just a bully, a bratty idjit spoiled rotten by too much power. F is smarter, meaner, and a whole lot stronger. He’s been after me for ages, and I nearly got myself killed just tryin’ to keep ‘im busy while you muppets mopped up P in the city, so take it from me. He can tap into spirits to use their powers, switchin’ ‘em out whenever he likes. So far I seen ‘im use six of ‘em. But he’s got somethin’ else, a trump card I en’t been able to pin down exactly. Somehow he moves me around in the blink of an eye. So when he shows that ugly mug of ‘is again, I hope you’re all good and ready.”

”I had the same experience when I tried to stand up to him. I was taking cover somewhere, and then in a flash I was back out in the open” Kamek added before theorizing ”Thinking about it, I might have ended up exactly where I was only a few moments earlier? P was able to jump back in time, so perhaps F can rewind it? It might be a common trend of abilities among them, though I certainly hope not. Take it from someone who has tried to use it in a scheme, time travel is quite the headache”

"Farmers, you say?" asked the deep voice of Ganondorf, who had also apparently elected to delay his climb. At first he had been busy binding one of the Spirits he collected earlier into a Striker. But now, he was becoming interested in this conversation, "If they are the farmers, then what does that make you? The wolves?" his analogy of course painted the Organization as a group that may not be any better than the Consuls, "If the name of your little club is anything to go by, it sounds to me like you're outnumbered two to one. While we seem to number at least equally to the Consuls if not more so. That all sounds to me like you need us more than we need you."

The warlord’s words seemed to make the kid sound more smug than ever, almost to the point that it sounded forced. “Heheheh, ya think so? Well, since you’re so smart, ‘ow about you wrap that thick ‘ead of yours ‘round this one. Let’s say I uh, I dunno, took a stick an’ snapped it in ‘alf. If someone offed me, would that fix the stick?” She held her hands up as if searching for an answer. “Eh, maybe I oughta put it in terms a big, tough bad guy like you can understand. If you went and slaughtered some poor village, and then some big ‘ero cut you down to take revenge, would that bring anyone back?”

Shaking her head, she crossed her arms again. “The universe en’t a big spring that Galeem’s keepin’ stretched out, just waitin’ to snap back into place the second you beat it. Once it’s outta the way, somebody’s gotta actually go and fix everythin’. Or, in our case...” Summoning her blade, she planted its head in the ground and leaned on the hilt casually. “Nobodies.”

Her sentiment was one that Primrose knew well. It also put some things concerning the Organization into perspective for her. Her own interactions with them had been limited, going off of the stories she'd heard from her fellow Seekers and how one of their members had helped them in the desert, it was quite clear that to her that the Organization and the Seekers of Light were working towards the same goal... even if they weren't exactly on the same side, so to speak. The secrecy surrounding them still cast their members in a suspicious light, but there could be any number of reasons for that. Primrose had her own guesses as to why, but perhaps the helpful young lady would enlighten them.

"It seems to me that if we want the same thing, more cooperation between our two groups would only benefit us - yet you hide most everything about you all." The dancer realized the hypocrisy in the words she’d said and those she was about to say, but she smiled in a way she hoped was disarming. "You would trust us enough to let us take care of the Guardians, but not with anything else?"

“Uh, no?” The girl’s tone suggested that this might be one of those ‘stupid questions’. “Look miss, I’m sure you’re all very strong and cool, but you lot en’t the first buncha ‘eroes to take a crack at the Guardians, and unless you’re really, REALLY lucky, you en’t gonna be the last neither. We’re not the expendable ones here, awright?” She sniffed. “I’m already stickin’ my neck out enough as it is.”

As I thought. Her remark didn't surprise Primrose in the slightest. Based on the information they'd painstakingly collected, she'd judged that this was the case. Why go to the effort to really incorporate would be heroes if they weren't likely to succeed? As much as being on the side left in the dark irked her, and mostly like quite a few of her allies as well, she really couldn't blame them.

"Then how long have you all been doing this for?"

This time, the Organization girl kept quiet for a couple seconds. Only after really thinking did she reply, her response accentuated with a noncommittal shrug. “I dunno. It all sorta blends together. The Clocks don’t tell what time it is, after all. Only ‘ow much is left.”

This made Ganondorf silently narrow his eyes, recalling what he saw in Holograd Castle. So it was important after all. But the man said nothing, not wishing to share information with this girl from the Organization.

”Clocks… Clock… Are you talking about some special type of clock? I was told of something called a ‘flame clock’ but is that what you're talking about? Do you know anything about those?” Sectonia said. She then thought for a moment, thinking, before saying. ”... How many ‘heroes’ have been before us, and how are you sure of all of this?”

Yes, the Flame Clocks! Could you tell us anything more about them? We attempted to open one earlier, but even our combined efforts proved fruitless,” Rubick said, suddenly popping in. “Because of that, it’s rather difficult to perform research on them. But if there’s one thing we’ve learned, it’s that those devices are sturdy.

”And how did anyone else escape Galeem in the first place? Kirby was, as far as I am aware, the only person who was themselves aware of Galeem’s existence who survived its opening attack. No one else had time to prepare or anticipate the end” Kamek added.

Jesse had lingered near the outskirts of the conversation with her arms crossed. Only now did she realize she was looming or brooding again. She uncrossed her arms and cleared her throat to look a little more approachable and stepped in. Not exactly a vote of confidence. We have someone on our side but they view us more like a rising and falling tide than actual allies. Time left until what, anyway? The whole thing rubbed Jesse the wrong way.

What the Organization girl assumed would be the perfect spot to end the conversation, as evidenced by the drama of her vaguely ominous send-off, turned out to be merely a lull in the storm. As soon as Sectonia popped back in to ask about the clocks, the floodgates were open once more. Rubick and Kamek quickly piled on faster than the stranger could answer, and she recoiled as if from a pit of vipers. “Whoa, whoa, steady on!” she exclaimed, her hands held up placatingly. “Look, forget about the Flame Clocks, they don’t matter one way or the other to you lot. You’re free, innit? Free to focus on the stuff that really matters, eh mates?” She pointed a finger at the immense cavern’s distant roof. “There’s plenty you en’t aware of, and you don’t ‘ave to be, neither. And I en’t some encyclopedia, you ‘ear? Best crack on before I get tired of all these flippin’ questions.”

Upon hearing that she had no answers, Rubick lost interest in the topic immediately. No sense trying to find answers where there were none. Instead, he would turn to the Organization girl herself. She was a mystery, and Rubick wanted to see what abilities she possessed.

Sectonia could take the hint, this one wasn’t all that knowledgeable herself, or just wasn’t going to budge. Honestly due to how she spoke, memories of a certain king koopa surfaced for Sectonia, and that was the feeling she got from this person. ”Come on, Kamek. I got a feeling she knows about as much as your ‘king’. In her own methods and ways.” Sectonia said, offering to at least carry the mage up. It could be noted her tone wasn’t mocking or anything, more just ‘well, I guess that’s that.’ than anything.

”I’m quite sure his majesty has more experience in these things to be frank. He has, after all, been part of putting an end to two multidimensional crises already” Kamek replied, as both a refutation and a way to join in on the flippentry. He was in no need of being carried up, however, as he planned to simply teleport to the top once they were done here (and after supplying a flying steed or two for those who wished to bypass the climb as well).

”Hmm. Perhaps you could recount some of those tales if you are aware of them. If they really happened, it could give us all some insight on the bigger picture.” Sectonia said as Kamek gave his little jab at the organization member, declining Sectonia’s aid as he had it covered himself.

“Oh, sorry,” Jesse said dismissively in the Nobody’s direction. “Wouldn’t wanna make you mad. What are you gonna do, expend us even harder?” She said with mock fear in her voice.

“Any of these Consuls ever get offed before?” Jesse asked. “Would they have to find a replacement that had the same letter in their name, or would they just swap the letter over?” Those last two questions were rhetorical, obviously.

The group was certainly not subtle about their frustrations or disdain. Primrose chuckled lightly at Jesse’s comments as a few of them went back and forth badgering the poor girl. If they'd been trying to goad the hooded stranger into giving them more information, they were going about it the wrong way... but honestly it seemed they were just venting without an ulterior motive. Time to get a move on, then.

"Thanks for indulging us a little," Primrose said to the Organization member, the scarf around her neck beginning to glow as she turned to take her leave.
Hidden 23 days ago 22 days ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

Sakura Level 10: 11/100
Location: Hospital
Word Count: short
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 10: 12/100

Sakura shook her wrist as she punched into ice, her face falling a bit. It wasn’t good for her ki, the frost. She grunted as her forearms painfully absorbed the freezing impacts. She wasn’t fighting to kill, and Dexio certainly was.

Gemma had to remind her to use her SAS, and as Sakura was shoved away she rubbed her arms. ”R-right!” Pyrokinesis seemed like a pretty good idea to counter the frost. But the fight continued and Sakura had more than enough time to recover from the chill as Gemma and Dexio slugged it out while she remained on the side lines. She walked, hopping over seismic waves and dipping out of the way of stray blows. It would be dangerous to just charge headlong into the fight.

Dexio used teleport to get away, and Luka commanded everyone to ‘sever their connection’. This confused Sakura. She didn’t know what Luka-san meant by that, or why. If it was that important though, she would listen to his orders. ”Um, okay! ” Sakura squinted and turned off her connection to the SAS, leaving her with her telekinesis powers only.

It was going to be annoying, chasing Dexio around the place while he teleported. While the idea of using Luka’s power as well crossed her mind, she couldn’t without reconnecting to the SAS, and that was bad for some reason.

Instead, when Dexio teleported away and activated Brain Drive, Sakura steeled her resolve and chased him down. She spent an EX-Bar, enhancing her Sakura drop to turn herself into a homing missile of a fighter, zipping across the place and dropping down hard on Dexio’s head with her fists. She bounced and flipped over him, trying to kick out his shins and then slam into him with a spinning ”Shunpukyaku!” kick.

Knowing that he could teleport at any time, she tried to keep her options non-committal so she could defend herself or keep up the chase. But she was trying to be as offensive as possible. The reality was, she was probably going to get hit, but she hoped Gemma or Luka would be there to pick up the slack. And vice-versa, should one of them get knocked away. If Dexio was left to his own devices, he would bring the entire room down, so her own health took second priority to stopping Dexio from acting.

When Sakura got the chance, she would withdraw a Friend Heart and use a Focus to tank a swing from Dexio, her body emanating with black, inky energy. ”Yaaah!” She yelled from her Diaphragm as she pushed it forward.
Hidden 22 days ago 22 days ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 8 hrs ago

wordcount: 4583 (+5)
Midna: level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (42/110)
Location: Suoh
Warp Charges: 1

Minda successfully kept Painwheel from going after the others. Unfortunately she did this via triggering Galeem’s influence, and now she had the nightmare of a woman’s full murderous attention. ”She’s gone mad!” she proceeded to shout when things took this inevitable turn, as one last hurrah for her blatant ruse, while pulling her darknut out of a portal beside her. Luckily, some extra help came in the form of Roxas, who locked Painwheel down under a barrage of lightning bolts. The berserker crouched down and blocked them, angrily simmering while her foes healed up prepared their summons.

When Burn Rooster attacked though, she took the fight to him. She sprang up and snatched him out of the air with her Buer Reaper command grab, reeling the reploid into her grasp. When they hit the floor Painwheel slammed him against it, cracking the tile, then used Gae Bolga to grow a gruesome bloody spike for the delivery of a ruthless People’s Elbow. Just as Roxas finished speaking, the transferred damage caught him unawares, nailing him with an agonizing piercing sensation to the chest–enough to keep him out of commission for a few moments at least.

As Painwheel turned toward her for another Pinion Dash, Midna held her spear and single sword to her chest and filling them with a spark of power while she sheltered. She then promptly unleashed it upon Painwheel as the woman came charging in with her Buer Drive spinning alongside her. She took a step forwards before bringing the heavy cleaver down in a chop that pulled a bolt of lighting from the air and down towards her foe, while at the same time she thrust the butt of the spear forwards, causing a brief beam of electricity to zap forwards.

”What a shock, she needs to be stopped”

Before Painwheel’s Pinion Dash could run Midna over and dice her up, a lightning bolt stuffed it, causing the berserker to slide to a stop. As the dust flew she looked up to see the cleaver descend, and with a snarl she crouched down on all fours to brace herself beneath the Buer Drive. Metal met metal in a terrific impact, but despite its impressive weight the oversized machete did not cut through. Instead it caught against the Buer Drive’s blades, and even as enough electricity surged through Painwheel’s body to make her emaciated skin smoke, she did not relent. Instead the power of Hatred Install pulsed through her, its purple tint pushing her well beyond mortal limits, and her eyes blazed with rage. Her blades realigned and snapped shut around the cleaver like the teeth of a bear trap, two on each side, and began to squeeze.


With a horrible noise the blade shattered into a dozen big, jagged pieces As the deadly fragments showered down Painwheel span up her Buer Drive once more, and with the giant sawblade held diagonally as an offensive shield, she began to crawl toward Midna.

Midna had already abandoned the blade by the time it shattered, giving her just enough time to bring her second set of arms up to block her body, the magical limbs bearing the brunt of the shards, though she still was left with several actual cuts through her mask and helm ensured her face remained unblemished by blood.

”Even in death you annoy me!” the princess cursed the man the shoddy blade had been made out of as she stepped back, and her knight stepped forwards.

As the princess reinforced the magic of her false arms behind its guard, the darknut swept the flat of its blade around in a low strike, aiming to strike the spinning shield side on rather than head on. That blade boasted far more weight and destructive power than Zanzo’s cleaver, so the same stunt wouldn’t work again. When it swept in Painwheel took a different approach–she sprang off the ground and into the air, easily leaping over the mutant Darknut’s mighty but slow attack. Flying toward Midna, the berserker bent forward and extended spikes from the soles of her feet into the top of her outstretched Buer Drive. Tortured Rose rained down a shower of disorienting sparks as the blades descended.

”What the-” as her light sensitive vision was assaulted by the shower of sparks. In a blind response she summoned all 4 of her chillfos strikers around her, and having the frozen undead raise their spears up above her, the shafts crossing over to form a tank trap like X above her head as she ducked, and prepared to dodge based on the sound of the blade impacting with her conjured defenses, eyes clenched shut to guard them from more flashes.

While their summoner backed off, the Chilfos held firm. Painwheel’s blade cut their ice lances into ice cubes, but together the four of them managed to push her off, and right away they began to regrow their lances. Painwheel dashed in and they rallied together to defend again, but this time the berserker reached out with Buer Reaper, using her blades like a claw to drag the two central Chilfos into her waiting grasp. Her hands clenched around their heads and she smashed them into the ground, communicating a burst of concussive injury to Midna as the Chilfos strikers timed out and disappeared

At that moment though, purple electricity sparked along Painwheel’s body, and she flinched with a pained yelp. Brain Drain’s psychic voice reached out to reprimand her. ”Painwheel, stop this instant, he commanded. ”This one’s not your enemy.” When the berserker clawed at the air in protest, though, his tone became more resigned. ”Urgh, but they’ve both been triggered…the die is already cast.”

”goddesses, my head” the princess hissed in complaint as her just returning vision swirled from the transmitted blunt force trauma to the head. She at least had the darknut in between her and the uncontrollable puppet, and while that might have helped much last time, it did mean the knight itself was in the perfect position post 180 degree pivot to slam forwards with a shield bash while Painwheel was in the midst of being electrocuted.

Her summon landed a clean hit, knocking Painwheel away and onto her back. On landing, however, she performed a ground tech and flipped onto her feet using the Buer Drive as a springboard. She shook her head with a growl, her anger quickly resurfacing as her red-hot glare flashed between Midna and the Darknut. That revenant knight would keep pestering her until it was dealt with, but without vitals it would only succumb to structural damage. As Midna vied to recover, Painwheel revved up her Buer Drive and leaped forward, taking to the air like a miniature helicopter with thrice the maneuverability.

She closed in on the Darknut, planning to pick apart its armor piece by piece if she had to. As she did, Brain Drain made his move. ”Enough. This sideshow must end,” he declared, vivid pink psychic energy swelling as he hovered forward. ”By any means necessary.” A brilliant, rippling beam blazed forward from his skull case, slamming into the Darknut’s chest and applying a boatload of crushing force.

”Son of a-” Minda began to curse, before biting it down and reacting to this unexpected development by opening a portal beneath the darknut and warping it back to her home realm before it was entirely destroyed. As it was, she wasn’t getting any more use out of it without application of a smithing hammer and a whole lot of calcium.

Still, even with her losses and expenditures, she wasn’t close to being out of minions yet, the princess calling out ”Initiates! Vibrava!” as she summoned yet more forces.

On the ground, her trio of psychic strikers took cover behind parts of the central machinery, before forming spears of psychic energy and hurling them at Brain Drain. The princess, still slightly concussed, charged forwards as her minions fired upon the psychic director, declaring
”More like this freakshow must end” before twirling her spear in front of her using all 4 hands, fanning a blast of summoned singing sand ahead of her.

When a new volley of projectiles flew his way Brain Drain went on defense, sheltering behind a barrier of psychic energy, but he grew irate the moment he realized he was under attack by such amateur psionics. ”You dare confront me with such feeble minds?” He could not put them in their place, however, with Midna attacking. Her initiates would soon time out, but the Twilight Princess herself unleashed a sandstorm. As it reached Brain Drain he brought his hand down, using his telekinesis to part the flurry to either side. His brain charged up again, poised to cut through the chaos with another psychic beam.

Meanwhile, in the sky, Midna’s Vibrava took to the air on buzzing wings, and began to harass the propeller propelled Painwheel with blasts of its fiery, and potentially paralyzing, purple dragon breath.

In the Vibrava Painwheel found a match for her aerial mobility, but the two weren’t destined to have a dogfight. Unlike her enemy, the girl lacked ranged attacks, and her finite flight would be cut off when she executed any aerial attacks. In a bid to end this quickly she threw herself at the Vibrava with a wild dive, but the bug managed to evade and scorch her with Dragon Breath. With a frustrated snarl she went down. When one burst of flame left her paralyzed, it got the chance to lend another couple attacks, building its confidence. Still, Painwheel wouldn’t be dissuaded. One hit was all she needed. The moment her paralysis wore off, she leaped into the air. Though she couldn’t attack with her Buer Drive without falling, the berserker had other means. With an agonized shriek she ejected a dozen skewers from within her body, most several times longer than herself. Once her Buer Thresher Blockbuster dug in, the retracting barbs would bring her foe right into cutting range.

Unable to escape from the rising skewers, instead went all in, flapping its wings backwards once and then keeping them folded to its body, divebombing its 1 meter long form into the thorns. With its tail fins it desperately tried to weave its way past as many as it could, while its jaws became suffused with a dark energy in a hope that it could deliver a devastating crunch to its foe before she could rearrange herself back into fighting form.

As the insect closed the distance to sink its teeth in, a fresh crop of skewers burst out from beneath the mask on Painwheel’s face. Surrounded by the inky blood lances, the Vibrava had nowhere to go, and the barbs pierced its carapace. With her quarry stuck like meat on a spit roast, Painwheel brought down her Buer Drive, carving a grisly wound across the insect’s head and all the way down its front. The next moment both hit the ground, but while the Vibrava lay defeated, and promptly dropped into a portal that opened beneath it, Painwheel forced herself back up off the floor. Murky blood dripping off her body from the recoil damage, she began to pop her dislocated joints back into their sockets in order to rejoin the fight.

Back in said fight, Midna’s response to the impending psychic blast was twofold. First she squeezed a free hand, causing the deflected sand to rise up and come at the man again from both sides inorder to wrap the psychic in a swirling sandtomb. Then she kicked herself into the air, pivoting once and transferring a great deal of her charg’s momentum into a spear toss of her own, the butt off the electrified weapon sailing fourth to bludgeon the psychic in the gut.

To Midna, it looked like she’d struck home. Through the whirlwind of sand she could see Brain Drain’s form outlined in pink psychic energy, seemingly doubled over from the kind of body blow that could churn one’s guts and empty one’s lungs. The rhythmic pulse of his brain in its casing offered a clear target, however briefly.

Lacking in the skill or desire to land a lethal headshot, so instead of opting to pull out her pistol she instead resumed her charge, empty hands now bearing dragon claws. Rather than just let him recover however, she portaling in on of her dwindling stock of wooden supply crate she’s stolen off the back of a truck, and then proceeded to grab it with her shadow hand, before whipping it around her head and launching it at the Brainiac to keep him off balance.

The projectile flew at the silhouette, but rather than smashing into it, it somehow passed straight through. As the sandstorm dwindled, Midna could see that her target wasn’t Brain Drain at all–merely a psychic projection of himself, left behind as a decoy while the real Brain Drain flew under the cover of the sandstorm. How could one churn the guts or knock the wind from the lungs of a robot, after all? When she realized this and scanned the area, she found the real director floating up by the ceiling, his hand raised. ”What’s yours,” he said, forming a dozen psychic spears just like the ones her Initiates used. ”Is mind.” With a wave of his hand, the spears rained down. At the same time, Painwheel began to approach Midna, quickly closing the distance with her Buer Drive at the ready.

In response the princess summoned Skywave beside her, the exosuit launching itself skywards in an artful pirouette, one that carried the princess up into the air alongside her, the pair rising up just in time to avoid the spears raining down while she taunted ”No thanks, you can keep them!” There was a slight issue in that the exosuit vanished the moment their rise ended, Midna could not fly any more after all, but instead of plunging back down into the awaiting claw of Painwheel the princess thrust her shadow hand up from her helm, and sunk its dragon clawed fingers into the ceiling. Then she thrust herself forwards with the limb, flinging herself towards the psychic in a flying kick.

When Midna’s dug her dragon clawed feet into the class exterior of the Brainframe tank, causing cracks to spread across its surface and a malodorous chemical fluid to drip from the gaps, Brain Drain was stunned. His sheer astonishment at the pointless damage to something to so important made him an easy target for her kick. His robotic body might be state-of-the-art, but it wasn’t meant for combat. His levitation failed and he flew down toward the ground, landing hard on his back. The jarring impact left his mind reeling, which sent feedback into Painwheel’s, too. “Uuuurgh!” she groaned, staggered but momentarily free of Brain Drain’s hooks.

Though he hadn’t wanted to fight at all, the psychic director suddenly found himself in a bad position, and unfortunately he couldn’t back down, either. Without a word he focused on Midna, but he realized that he couldn’t shoot a beam at her without risking another potentially disastrous hit on the Brainframe. With her too far away to attack her mind directly, his options were limited. ”Doctor. Assist me,” he called out as he attempted to rise.

As it happened, the Doctor was already waiting outside. The doors that led back to the operating room were pushed open, and the inhuman physician peeked his abominable head down from the top of the doorframe. From there however, he went no further. A colleague of Brain Drain’s he might be, but a fighter he was not. He disappeared again and crawled back down the hallway’s ceiling, the telltale rumble of his passage quickly fading away. With no other alternative, Brain Drain quickly reached out to seize control of Painwheel again.

”Oh, so he thinks we can take him. Good to know” Midna commented about the actions of the Doctor, as she dropped to the floor, before lunging towards the rising Painwheel with shadow hand outstretched to snatch her up in her grasp and then hurl her nice and far away.

As she approached, a shadowy phantom of Brain Drain appeared behind Painwheel, and purple sparks goaded her into action. When Midna grabbed hold she attempted to fling Painwheel away, but the girl herself did not let go, instead clutching the shadow hand’s fingers while her Buer Drive began to spin. The blades cut apart the princess’s grasp, and Painwheel dropped to the floor a few meters away rather than a few dozen. She dawdled for just a moment as a psychic beam flew in from Brain Drain in an attempt to get a cheap shot on Midna, but the next moment the berserker went on the offensive again, performing an empty safe jump and then going low with a sawblade sweep.

Minda responded by summoning Roadblock in between herself and the other woman, the striker raising its massive barrier to block the hit, and followed up its black with a rocket bash. Unfortunately she was unable to help with the follow up, as she was sent stumbling by the cheap shot psychic blast from the side.

She growled in frustration as she caught herself, as much exasperated as she was fearful of how this two on one fight was going, which prompted her to shout out ”If you could hurry it up over there, I could use a hand over here!” intending to catch the ear of her fellow seekers, but unintentionally reaching those of a different set of help.

Yuito and Hanabi, having remained on the periphery of the fights with Dexio and Sina to render their assistance if it looked like anyone needed it, heard Midna’s call for aid and replied immediately. “On my way!” the young man called back, using his Psychokinesis to draw his sword as he led the charge through the room. Hanabi followed in his footsteps with a determined look on her face, her staff held at the ready and ignited with Pyrokinetic flames.

Though Roadblock managed to knock Painwheel askew with its shield bash, its disappearance the next moment gave her a clear shot to bombard Midna with Gae Bolga stingers, piercing her skin and even nailing one foot to the floor with the bloody spikes. Before her Buer Drive could start carving, Yutio intercepted it with his blade like a stick through a bicycle wheel, halting its spin and then pinning the blades against the floor with a deft twist. Painwheel immediately unhooked the Buer Drive and rounded on Yuito with a fresh burst of stingers, but Hanabi got in the way and blocked them with a spin of her staff. When Painwheel charged in and seized Hanabi’s guard with a command grab, Yuito was on hand to break his friend free with a Psychokinesis-propelled tub, knocking the berserker down in a blast of water.

He followed up with a flurry of slashes against Painwheel’s guard, his sword leaving his hand with every other stroke, until the poor girl caught him with Disfigure and followed up the quadruple stab with a punishing Malice Clover sweep. As he fell, she turned herself upside down and suspended herself off the ground with long spikes from her hands and feet, her screaming sawblade dangling beneath her like a lawn mower from hell. “DEATH CRAAAWL!” In the nick of time, however, Yuito saved himself by borrowing Gemma’s Sclerokinesis. As he withstood the vicious assault, Hanabi ran in behind him and pole-vaulted up to plant both feet in Painwheel’s face in an impressive dropkick. As she staggered, Yuito jumped up for an air combo infused with Hanabi’s fire, finishing with a flourish of blades slashes followed by an exploding blade plunge.

It looked like they had Painwheel under control, which meant that Midna could focus on Brain Drain. Sensing her coming, the psychic director opened fire with lasers to try and cut her down before she could reach him.

The princess responded by summoning her last healthy minion (that would fit in the room) to her side and then unleashed it with a command of ”Sic him”

The wolfos burst forwards, weaving between lasers and then ducking low to avoid one final desperate blast aimed at it. It slipped directly under the hovering psychic entity, before leaping up, grabbing the back of his coat and dragging him down to the ground, and then shaking him violently to stop him from blasting its master.

Said master approached as swiftly as she could, carrying with her her mace-like sun on a stick, its black metal and orange orb crackling with energy, declaring that it was ”Time to end this”

Brain Drain pulled his right hand back, extending lethal-looking needles from his robotic fingertips. “This is far from over.”

Absurdly, the princess’ response was to lunge forwards with her own hand, the princess grabbing the offending arm and suffering the expected results. Needles sunk into her wrist, digging deep … and finding not flesh, blood, or, importantly, nerves, but instead entirely alien and incompatible magic.

”All those brains and you don’t know when to give up” she told him as she leaned in close inorder grabbed his other hand in much the same way, before lightly thrusting the sun on a stick forwards, pressing it against his chin, and then unloading its charge. Electricity flowed freely, arching through his head, and yet rather than resounding with thunder, the lighting simply buzzed angrily, unloading just enough power to knock the man’s only remaining flesh unconscious without frying the machine keeping it alive.

She pulled the stick back once he was out, and carefully lowered him down to the ground, and turned to take in the fight her reinforcement where in, and to say it was a mess was an understatement. Painwheel was very much on the back foot due to being outnumbered, but the chaotic and brutal fighter had made the psychics attacking her pay with blood for every drop they were getting out of her, and she seemed to have far more to spare than they did.

Upon seeing this Midna commanded her wolfos to ”Fetch!” something and then began striding towards the battle, the frantic fight having taken enough out of her that she couldn’t afford to run back there again.

”Initiates! Roots!” she commanded as she approached, summoning her hooded psychic minions to her side again, and having them unleash their psychic foliage on painwheel. The saw-backed woman refused to be bound by anyone else however, slashing at and into the purple vines rising up to bind her, yet it was enough of a distraction to let the two psychics get their own hits in, sending the fighter sprawling.

”Thanks for your aid, but you’ve done enough! Back up and I’ll end this!” Midna shouted to them as Painwheel readied to retaliate. They moved to comply, clutching wounds as they did. Yet in that same moment Painwheel moved to repay them for her latest injuries, only for her to be struck by one of Midna’s shoddy cleavers, the princess having quickdrawn and hurled the blade in a flash. It did next to no harm, but it did get her attention, the taunted berzerker turning her focus to Minda right as the princess received her fetched spear from her wolfos minion, who she offering it the faint praise of ”Good thing”

The princess then held the weapon to her chest, charging it and the sun on a stick with power while her final hand made a ‘come at me’ motion and verbally taunting her foe with ”I already took down your master, now come and fall to me as well”

Painwheel obliged, bellowing a rage-filled battle cry and bursting forwards with furious speed, before short hopping and using the same Buer Thresher that had taken down her Vibrava, unleashing her own dark vines on the princess for some ironic turnaround.

In response, the princess raised her spear to guard her, but rather than a passive block she twirled it around, lighting arching from one end to the other, forging a shield of lighting that blasted away the vines trying to grapple her, a shocking mirror to Painwhee’s own defense. Then she flicked the spear to a stop, holding it close to recycle a bit of power into it, and at the same time thrusting the sun on a stick forwards, launching a lighting bolt that slammed the flying Painwheel back and knocking her down.

”Stay down if you know what’s good for you. I really don’t want to do this”

The Galeeming fighter ignored this of course, yet after taking so much punishment over the course of the fight from 6 separate combatants, and having to reconstitute her form from her failed grapple, the berzerker was slower to rise from this bolt than she had the one Midna had used in her opening. Her wolfos pounced at this moment, boldly slamming into her to knock her further off balance (and then escaping into a portal when she tried to retaliate) giving the princess the time to surge forwards with her remaining stamina, in order to drive the butt of her spear against painwheel’s spine and then unleashing its remaining lighting discreetly into it.

Brain brain’s pawn convulsed under Minda’s emulation of his punishment system, and then when the charge ran dry she thrust the sun on a stick in its place, while powering back up the spear. It was brutal, she, frankly, the princess hated it, but eventually, with enough charges of lighting delivered, Painwheel went the same way of her puppetmaster, blacking out under the far more intense stun prodding.

The princess was left panting after the exertion, her magical set of arms collapsing and dropping her stun on a stick as she put the butt of her spear to the ground and used it for support, blood and sweat dripping from her body.

Despite this, she forced herself to move forwards, telling the psychics to ”Keep an eye on them incase they wake up” and then moving to either check on or get medical help from Roxas, whichever was appropriate given the recoil he’d taken earlier while trying to protect her.

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 765 (+2)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (290/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (175/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (167/120)
Rika: Level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (98/80)
Location: The Under - Termite Kingdom Ruins

While a fair amount of the seekers stayed below and engaged the organization member in a conversation that was equally enlightening and frustrating, Rika forged ahead of them, rising up and up and up with successive boosts. In doing so she discovered that the accent wasn’t going to be quite as active hostiles free as their descent.

The ousted wasp horde had been through here, a few of their number still lingering behind due to either crippling wounds or stubbornness, and in doing so the buzzing mass had stirred up the native threats. Most notable and nasty of these among these were the triple acid shot firing Primal Aspids that where a pain on their own, but so much worse when combined with artcher bugs who had uncanny aim when it came to hitting moving targets. Movement that the Aspids more or less forced with their spread of projectiles, creating quite the dangerous combination.

While Rika herself could slow their shots with her gaze, and got to a chance to try out her new corruption cannons on live targets, Bowser was having far more hellish time, scales and shell ending up covered in numerous acid burns and melted holes as they ate away at his armor.

”Buzz off you lousy bugs!” he roared in frustration at them, as he tried and failed to pick off the nimble fliers with his battleship guns and slow fireballs.

It would have been quite an embarrassing end, or at least an embarrassing state to arrive at the top of the climb in, being slowly whittled away by annoying bugs, but fortunately salvation arrived from below with time to spare, heralded by the sound of rocketry.

Jr, unintentionally aping the movement strategy of a bunch of determination fueled cave men, had in a fit of mad science welded rockets to the bottom of a pogostick, a strategy that had worked surprisingly well. He bounced off of clouds in much the same way as the creature they had been made for using the actual pogostick, and if he ever missed, he fired up one of the zonia rockets he’d strapped to it, blasting him back up and giving him a second shot at landing on the missed platforms.

This did make it a bit difficult to stop, it had to be said, but once he did the prince pulled his paintbrush off his back where he’d pinned it down using his bandolier and duffle bag straps, and used it to restore his papa to full Hp. In doing so they found out what his new vines could do, the full restoring Benediction massively fueling their growth, and giving the king a mass of them to use as green thorny armor, protecting his actual body from acid blasts.

He still couldn't really hit them, mind, but Jr’s noisy catching up got Rika’s attention in a way that Bowser had stubbornly refused to do, and so she came to lend them her far more swift and accurate firepower. Not to be outdone, Jr tried to use his new ferromancy to launch knives and spines from his arm even as he bounced up the clouds, but this proved to be pretty ineffective due to the obvious issue of aiming like this.

Still, quantity had a quality all of its own, and so he did manage to piece the odd wing or eyeball with one in every few dozen launched metal shards, which helped a bit and always got a cheer from the prince.

Working together now, the royals of the troop got to the top just in time for the fliers to catch up, something that put an end to the queen and mage’s conversation before Kamek found himself unable to explain the hole in one of his stories that avoiding explaining the exact nature of the Chaos heart and its full capabilities to a fellow villain was creating.

Jr was a little peeved about how Kamek had “cheated” and then even went on to claim he was the only one who had really played by the rules laid out by the green hopping thing, but Kamek managed to derail that mini tantrum by relaying a quick summary of what they had found out from this latest organization member.

”Ha, yeah, knew they were bad guys. No goody two shoes dresses like that, that is for sure” Bowser laughed, and then grinned at his kin as he said simply that ”and, well, we all know how we do at the end of bad guy team ups, yeah?”

The two koopas got it of course, but Rika had to be quietly filled in by Kamek: after much much much experience, Bowser had finally learned one simple thing about working with other villains. In order to avoid being stabbed in the back by your former ally, all you had to do was be the one who stabbed first.

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Hidden 22 days ago 21 days ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Word Count: 923 (+2 exp) (-3 Friend Heart)
Level: 4 - Total EXP: 177/40
Location: Dystopiascape
Midgar, Suoh: Beacon Mental Hospital

It wasn't that long ago that Pit had been fighting another ice user. Because of that experience he kept the Arm equipped, knowing it would be useful. Mistral had been powerful, deadly. Even while fighting together with Giovanna, the two of them had a rough time scrapping out a win. Compared to her, Sina couldn't be that bad - but she wasn't to be underestimated either.

As soon as she got her bearings she set herself up with ammo in the form of water and got to conjuring, or whatever it was that psychics did. Either way, icicles flew through the air in Pit's direction. He hopped out of their path and returned fire with his own ring shots. When the projectiles met in the air they canceled each other out, and Sina could fire hers faster. The sting of the ice bursting against him was just as unpleasant now as it had been against Mistral. The Arm wasn't intended for long or even mid-range combat, he had to get closer.

Since Pit didn't intend to play defense forever, he took the first opening he saw to try and close the gap between himself and Sina. Unfortunately for him, she was more than ready for it. First she turned the water beneath Pit to ice, sending him crashing unceremoniously to the ground when he slipped. A frozen blast sent the angel backward, but undeterred scrambled up and tried again. This time he leapt forward, easily able to clear the distance between them. But Sina quickly shifted her foot forward, shooting a ripple through the ground courtesy of her partner's power. The ripple terminated with a little crack just under Pit, sending a burst of water upward. Cryokinesis flash froze it as it came up, turning it into a ascending wall that caught the angel in the chest as it formed. He winced, pushing backwards off of it just as Sina extended her hand and closed her fist, forcing sharp spikes to form from the icy barricade.

Whether Pit had escaped the spikes forming or not didn't matter; her ambush was set. With her arm still outstretched she focused frost in her palm, rapidly condensing it into a compact form reminiscent of a snowball but a lot more dangerous. She was prepared to strike her opponent with it as soon as he showed his face from around the ice wall, her eyes darting around its edges for sign of the angel.

"You should know..." Pit started to say from behind the ice. He raised the Upperdash Arm behind himself, preparing to charge. He dashed and swung the arm, broke through the barrier and directly towards Sina. The uppercut deflected the attack she hastily launched and connected with her. "...that I'm great at breaking the ice!"

Oh yeah, Lady Palutena would have loved that one. Sina flew backward, but managed to keep herself from going too far with her ice powers. After some disorientation she locked herself in place by freezing her own legs to the ground just long enough to regain her balance. She let herself free and snapped her angry gaze up at Pit, only to get knocked by a few discs Pit had fired as he completed his approach crashing into her head and abdomen.

She stubbornly remained upright, lifting both of her arms to shower Pit with freezing particles and cutting cold. Maybe she intended to make a popsicle out of him, but now he was far to close and instead of retreating she'd stood her ground. Though there were ice crystals forming on his skin and feathers, slowing him down, Pit reached out with his free hand and grabbed hold of her He yanked her just close enough so that he could bring up a knee and stun her with a strike to the gut. Using her weight and his he started to roll backwards, throwing Sina in the opposite direction with a kick and completing his tumble with a rough shake of his wings to get rid of the ice.

While Sina was downed Pit took a moment to make sure everyone else was okay, his breath visible while on the icy side of the room. He could feel the rumble of the other simultaneous battles going on, and from what he could tell things were going... well, not awful. The renegade agents even appeared to be on the back foot, though it was only for a moment. Pit's eyes flickered back to Sina as she stood up, pulling the cord on her uniform's collar at the same time that Dexio did. Her face became obscured, but her posture told Pit that she wasn't finished just yet. Gemma's warning confirmed it.

Had this been a friendly bout, Pit might not have minded a round two. Given Sakura had pointed Sina and Dexio out as teammates and something must have been done to their minds, Pit didn't want to risk hurting them. Plus they still had missing friends to find and comrades in other parts of the city that could be using their help. So Pit's opening move for round two was to place a hand over his heart, pulling it away from his chest with a flourish and bringing a bright pink friend heart into being.

"Hopefully this works!" he said while practically launching himself at Sina to press the heart into her. Would she be able to tell them what happened to her, and help subdue her partner if it did? There was only one way to find out.
Hidden 22 days ago 22 days ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 3 days ago

Wordage: 565 (+1 points)
Experience: 14/30 EXP
Location: (The Under) Forsaken Land ➡ Kingdom's Edge

Something about their short-lived adventure weighed upon the slumped shoulders of Artorias whose wandering mind was deep in thought whilst the other Seeker's busied themselves.

The great knight stood a pace from where Barnabee's body had faded to nothingness, kneeling Artorias felt the ground with a hand "Hmm, nothing." the knight sighed, as the only dust that sifted through his fingers was that left from the undisturbed ground.

Truly the other knight was gone, yet he left no sign nor soul behind unlike that left by the husk of his former queen or those Artorias had seen before "Where arte the soul of the knight?" he mumbled to himself as he stood leaning on Finstertöter as he did so. He'd save the question of Barnabee's death for another time, curious now of what the Seeker's had done with the mysterious orb that seemed to restore one's form.

"Tis verily a strange artefact," Artorias mused to himself as he knelt with one knee upon the ground to get a closer look at the oddly familiar looking blade that had caught his eye, upon closer look the knight gasped recognizing the holy scripture written upon the blackened blade "By the Flame, tis the blade of a Silver Knight burnt black…" Artorias rested Finstertöter upon the floor both blades similar in design though clearly the black greatsword was aged "Tis a blade seemingly beyond my own age, but how?"

This greatsword was sturdy, though old it held the weight and make of a fine weapon. Artorias looked between Finstertöter and the other blade, nodding as he came to the decision to take up this new blade in honor of to the knights of Gwyn.

Artorias’s curiosity won him over too as he inspected the Orb of Undoing, turning it over in his free hand before taking up his blades the spirits of the Corrupted Golem as well as that of Southpaw left him, he was himself once more.

A foot taller no less and without the features of an animal, unlike Nadia he preferred to remain as he once was. If he were to use them again, he decided against fusing himself with souls lest they are more humanoid. Artorias still didn't quiet grasp the process of using spirits yet thus would be more careful with them.

"I must take up this blade, I must find out what're happened to those who once wielded it. And hm, I verily must find a skilled leathermaker whom could fashion myself a sheathe to hold my blades." Knight Artorias though possessed of a strength unlike any man or woman still grunted resting both weapons upon his mighty shoulders.

Organization, Linkle, Skullgirl it all flew over the knights head as he stood furtively eyeing both Nadia and the newcomer alike with slight confusion "Doth thou know each other? Or arte thou an enemy?" Artorias who wasn't as acquainted with the goings on of the group hadn't any idea of past events so his only impression was that Nadia seemed to know this stranger. "What're thou arte enemy or friend, you'd do well to stay a friend." Artorias warned her, tightening his hands around both blades before continuing on with the others. And he fully meant what he said.

Hidden 22 days ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Level: 8 - Total EXP: 218/80 ------ Level: 7 - Total EXP: 100/70
𝙱𝙿 ●●●● ---------------------------- 𝙱𝙿 ●●●●
Word Count: 879 (+2 exp)
Location: The Under

After a little while the entire group was all settled with their changes and item claims. True to form Therion took the leftovers from the queen's stash seeing as no one else seemed to want them, the Hiveblood Charm and the sword Yato. He was a little disappointed that Nadia's map didn't update like he'd thought, but then again it would be a pretty poor business model for the map maker if it did. Talking with the locations didn't give much information beyond this area being a dead end. Random direction it is, he thought as the Seekers made their way back through the hive and out of the tunnels they'd come from.

There were no enemy wasps to be seen on the way, having deserted the place with the fall of their leader. The only obstacles were the red vines, but now that the way they worked was no longer a mystery they were a lot less dangerous. Plus going up through the tunnel revealed the place the vines grew from in the first place. After having experienced the pain inflicted by the vines firsthand, it felt good for Primrose and Therion to stab at their cores and destroy them.

Climbing back into the arboretum, they were met with the Water Lily Siren - and a present.

"Oh?" Primrose eyed the gift as the Siren explained what it was. That was an intriguing ability. "Thank you," the dancer said, smiling up at the giant plant woman as she accepted the charm. She moved to tuck it into her bag, then thought better of it. She affixed it to her glove like a corsage. The next time they came to a stop she might have to ask Queen Sectonia for the smelter. Every rose needed its thorns, after all.

She exchanged another goodbye with the siren and then moved to catch up with the others who'd continued on into Holograd.

The same question remained unanswered: where to go from here. The Seekers looked around, wondering. They could go deeper in, where it seemed from the air that more danger lurked. Back tracking anymore meant going back up, which would be possible but very slow. It also meant going back through the tower and into the city, and who knew if the citizens were still compelled to kill them? Despite Ms. Fortune's cartoonish summoning of him, Cornifer didn't appear to sell them a new section of map either. However, someone else did show up - and in flamboyant style.

Organization... XIII, was it? Primrose mused as people gathered around the small hooded girl. The stranger wasted no time telling them what they needed to hear. Information on the Guardian, where it "really" was and what they needed to do to access it beyond gathering the mask fragments. She even revealed a path forward.

All the while Therion stood at the edge of the group, arms crossed and the fingers of one hand drumming across his bicep. Having the answers basically handed to them on a platter was good, since it saved them a lot of trouble. But the fact that this group was out there that already had all of this information and was basically just pointing the Seekers in the direction they wanted them to go was irksome. He'd had very limited dealings with this Organization before, so he had no real opinion of them, but being manipulated for the greater good was still being manipulated. He wanted to snap at the girl and ask how she even knew all of this to begin with, but once the clouds formed some people started climbing while others lingered for questioning. He made himself part of the former while Primrose stayed behind for a conversation.

After climbing up onto a nearby roof and then jumping onto a cloud, Therion bounced up onto the next, and then the next. It wasn't as simple as it looked at first, he had to steady himself so as not to go flying off, and she still had to use his muscles to actually jump. Turning out bouncing on the trampoline like surfaces was tiring. He paused, hopping off onto a floating island as he let others bypass him. One of the pros of bringing up the rear was that those ahead of him could clear out anything that got in the way. Judging from the roar of the dragon turtle above, there were probably bugs or some other poor saps that had done just that.

Unsurprisingly he transformed for the remainder of his climb. He'd seen cats jump before, they had better control over their falls and they always landed on their feet too. It would make things a little easier going up. At this point he didn't even waste time hoping this would be the last climb or descent, seeing as the entire region was cliffs, pits, and chasms.

After finishing up with the Organization member, Primrose followed after the front runners. Her scarf made the climb simple for her, as she could propel herself up by bouncing from a cloud and them float up to a higher one, then repeat. She'd kept the areas the girl had mentioned in mind as she met with everyone at the top ready to head to their next destination.
Hidden 22 days ago 22 days ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

Quarantine Valley - Sector V

Level 5 Goldlewis (111/50) Level 4 Sandalphon (26/40)
Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man
Word Count: 2407 (+3) (-3 (Goldlewis))

With Wind Chimes blazing a trail, and Hal keeping him company rather than flying ahead, Goldlewis made quick work of the Quarantine Valley rooftops. She moved through the rusty, perilous labyrinth with certainty borne of familiarity, leading her new acquaintance on a number of side paths, clever shortcuts, and hidden shortcuts. Time-saving alternate routes that newcomers like the Seekers would have obliviously passed right by were just part and parcel of a skilled courier’s repertoire, suggesting that Wind Chimes made this trip a number of times in the past. In fact, the veteran suspected that her combined familiarity and fitness would be making mincemeat of her well-traveled route, challenging Goldlewis to keep up with an attitude of friendly competition, if not for her rather concerning ailment. In addition to the dark crystals that protruded from her midriff, which caused visible discomfort whenever the muscles in the area took action, Wind Chimes looked rather feverish and sick. Able to airdash across gaps that his guide needed to swing across with her mountaineering equipment, Goldlewis managed to keep pace with her despite being quite out of shape. She didn’t exactly relish the big man being right on her heels, but when she pushed herself a little harder to pick up the pace, the veteran’s proximity turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

After sliding down an inclined rooftop and jumping onto a billboard, her foot caught in a twisted section of its corroded catwalk. “Agh-!” she grunted, losing her balance. She tripped and fell flat on the weakened metal, which not only vibrated dangerously, but actually bent beneath her. The moment she fell, she began to slide toward the edge, where a deadly drop all the way to the Quarantine Valley streets awaited her.

Goldlewis acted fast. “UMA!” Stopping on a stable section of the walkway above a supporting girder, he slung his coffin off his shoulder and dangled it over the abyss by the chain. The lid popped open, and from the swirling aquamarine cosmos within erupted three spindly arms of superhuman length. Just a fraction of a second after Wind Chimes went over the edge, the arms seized her by the ankle, cutting her freefall short.

After a moment of terrified hyperventilation, Wind Chimes managed to get her pounding heart under control, and with a shaky smile she looked up at her savior. “...Shit. Can…can you pull me up?” Gritting his teeth, Goldlewis began to haul the coffin up with both hands, trying to ignore the protesting creaks of the metal beneath him. Hal lent a hand (or more accurately, four pincers) with his drone, and once they got the coffin onto the catwalk, the cryptid lifted Wind Chimes the rest of the way. They couldn’t celebrate just yet, though; all this stress was too much for the walkway to handle. The moment the alien retracted its arms, Goldlewis tucked the coffin under one arm, Wind Chimes under the other, and took off running like a football player to the endzone. At the last moment he leaped from the collapsing billboard over a chain-link fence and onto the rooftop adjacent to Sector V’s. Breathing heavily, he turned and watched the derelict structure crash noisily to the streets far below, where it landed with a terrific slam in a cloud of dust and red matter.

He dropped his coffin with a thud, then set Wind Chimes down more carefully. “You okay, ma’am?”

She looked somewhere between resigned and frustrated. “Yeah, yeah. Man, I can’t believe I made you save me again. Sorry.”

“You must’ve been worse off than I thought, even before your abduction into the Astral Plane” Hal’s voice sounded fretful as his drone drew close for a new scan. “The more redshifted people are, the sicker they get. It’s sapping your strength and clouding your mind.”

Wind Chimes sighed. “I guess…I’m not long for this world. Should’ve known better than to push myself. I knew it’d come to this eventually, but…still, feels pretty awful.” She gave Goldlewis and Hal a sad look. “For now at least, I can make sure we’re square. You don’t need to be around for whatever happens after that.”

Taking a deep breath, Goldlewis stood up straight and put a hand on his heart. “I ain’t gonna let that happen.”

“What are-?” Before Wind Chimes could continue, the veteran slammed a Friend Heart into the messenger’s head. She reeled from the impact, furious and surprised, only to find herself completely restored. Her injuries and redshift evaporated like morning dew, and she blinked, her mouth agape as she held a hand to her head. “Whuh…I feel…amazing! Like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders! What was that?”

Hal seemed just as astonished, but Goldlewis brushed them both off. “It’s nothin’. Least I can do for a fellow human bein’. Whatever you remember, just take it nice and easy. One step at a time.”

Wind Chimes looked thoroughly confused, but her befuddlement quickly gave way to determination. “If you say so, mister. I owe you my life…what, three times over? I’ll bring you to the Hermits if it kills me. C’mon, this way.”

She led Goldlewis and Hal the remainder of the way to Sector V, unknowingly following right in Geralt’s footsteps. They spotted him and Zenkichi ahead and went to join them, passing by a woman in a hooded green jacket leaning against the wall of the passage on the way. Evidently this ‘hidden entrance’ was something of an open secret. When Goldlewis raised an eyebrow at the civilian, she gave him a nonplussed stare in return. “I like it here because it’s out of the way,” she said simply. “Careful you don’t poke around too much. You don’t want the Hermits interested in you.” Part of Goldlewis reasoned that he actually did want the Hermits to take notice, but he gave her a stiff nod and went on his way. A couple seconds later he, Wind Chimes, and Hal stood with the others inside the rooftop colony called Sector V.

“Good work reaching your destination, everyone,” Sandalphon hailed them. “I will relocate to the upper floor of Sector V and seek vantage points from which to support you further.” Nobody had run into trouble as of yet, instead finding ways to help and earn the trust of the locals. So far, so good. The statuesque sniper stood up from her lookout atop the old water tower, banished her gunstaff, and took a graceful running jump. After taking hold of her golden halo, she began to glide through the open air above the Quarantine Valley rooftops, approaching Sector V.

This scavenged settlement took the form of a ramshackle shanty town. Since resources were scarce, the people here made the most of every little thing they got, from building material to pilfered or reclaimed technology. A single meandering street, just wide enough that a couple people could walk abreast, ran the entire length of the colony, starting at the main gate and weaving around the buildings. The people here lived in tiny apartments made from cargo containers, many of which formed Sector V’s outside walls, and inside them were hidden the denizens’ beds, furniture, and all their meager belongings. There were plenty of makeshift storefronts selling all kinds of useful bits and bobs from weapons and tech to daily essentials, and there were even some vending machines, although the ‘Hermitonic’ they offered featured an absurd price tag. A tipsy woman standing near the machines could be found singing its praises. “Mmm…this flavor…I can’t put my finger on it, but it tastes like…power.” When she noticed Goldlewis staring, she clutched the canister in her hand against her chest defensively. “Hey, eyes off my Hermitonic! This one’s all mine!”

Goldlewis gave her a dubious glance. “Did you actually shell out for one of those things?”

“Of course I didn’t pay full price,” she said, almost affronted by the notion. “This drunk came through and let me use his Hermit card. Lucky, huh?”

Not so lucky was a man in an orange coat nearby, down on his luck and sitting on the dirty floor. “Sure wish I had a nice, warm blanket,” he muttered aloud. “I wonder if the Hermits would hook me up with one….ugh, but who’m I kiddin’. They’d never let someone as weak as me in. And I don’t even really wanna live with ‘em either…”

In some areas where the gaps between the buildings widened somewhat, it took on the appearance of an open market, sheltered beneath a sheet metal canopy. A crude ‘outdoor’ food court of tire seats around barrel tables surrounded a cookfire where a lone culinarian stirred a vat of steaming congee, passing out the warm, filling gruel to anyone who could cough up some zenny. A standoffish tippler lounged around at a table, wishing muttering about needing a Hermitonic to sober up. Not far away, a couple old-timers sat on real chairs around a real table. These respected community elders sold consumables and concoctions, respectively, though the gray-bearded Mudtooth would just as happily share fantastical stories to anyone who might care to listen. Indeed, the whole place possessed a certain vitality that somehow overshadowed its bleakness. There were plenty of people here, and while they seemed distrustful and tough, they didn’t look miserable, not even the fellow urgently scrounging for something in a corner. There were children laughing and playing.

“I’ll be right back,” Wind Chimes told the group, patting her delivery bag as she turned around to face them. “Just gotta drop these letters off. Then I’ll be back to take you the rest of the way, promise.”

While she was gone, Goldlewis stopped a passing man to ask if anything strange had been going on. The bearded fellow paused for a moment to think. “Not really!” he piped up after a moment in a gravelly voice. “The Hermits run things around here, and nobody really dares to step to ‘em. I’d watch out if I were you. They’re crazy strong. I hear they use a drug that powers ‘em up somehow. They’re goin’ all out to stop redshift, man. It’s wild!” He seemed interested in the veteran’s coffin, but he soon went on his way, leaving Goldlewis to think. A drug? Was that the ‘little bonus’ that Wind Chimes mentioned? If it meant that she could see and even fight Chimeras, then that probably held true for the Hermits. But how was such a thing even possible in the first place? Did it have something to do with Reunion? Goldlewis couldn’t help but get a bad feeling about all this.

Past the cluttered marketplace, a final few descending twists and turns around the colony’s hovels brought the team to Sector V’s back exit. It let out onto an old concrete bridge that hadn’t seen a running train in years, though a couple stranded subway cars on the tracks had been turned into shelters with the aid of tarps. Even here people could be found milling about, sitting in their chairs or standing around barrel fires. Walled in by Sector V on one side and tall barriers on the other -save for an opening that provided a view over the back half of Quarantine Valley-, the bridge led nowhere. One end was shuttered, and on the far end slabs of concrete were piled up around a sideways tram car to create a huge barrier. A handful of men and women stood or sat around it, all dressed alike in heavy black clothes, boots, and jackets with pronounced collars and orange accents. Black balaclavas completely hid their faces, but each featured a single holographic white eye projected on the front. These stern and well-armed sentries hung around the barrier, evidently guarding the entrance within.

“Okay, it looks like we’ve got our run of the place,” Hal told everyone. “Just as a reminder, we’re here not just to find the Hermits and ideally talk with them, but also figure out what their connection to Reunion is, especially this supposed ‘deal’.” Until Wind Chimes got back in a couple minutes, everyone could look and ask around to find or collect whatever they could.

Up above, Sandalphon softly alighted on the roof. The topmost level of Sector V was a settlement in its own right, with walls and barbed wire sheltering a handful of shacks arranged around the colony’s open-air space. Its haphazard construction made it a collection of uneven up-and-down slopes, with plenty of gaps and holes that someone could easily fall through into the town below. There were tarps stretched out into, clotheslines, and piles of trash, but also a few beach chairs, grills, and even umbrellas. This was where the denizens came to get some air and sun without leaving the security of Sector V, although on a day like today there wasn’t much sunlight to be had. The few people up here gave Sandalphon curious and wary glances, as if she were an alien. Only one person rushed up to her, a young girl of nine or ten. She gawked up at the tall woman with an open mouth. “Are you an angel!?” she gasped.

Sandalphon stared down at her, unblinking. “Yes, my child.”

“Then, can you help me? Everyone says angels aren’t real, ‘cause if they were, they’d come down and help us, so if you’re an angel, you’ve gotta help me!”

Gently, Sandalphon knelt down and put a hand on the girl’s head, stroking her hair. “Then it would seem that I must help you. What can I do for you, my child?”

“My dog Buggy! He got out and I can’t catch him, he’s too fast!” Jumping up and down, the little girl pointed to another section of the roof. “He’s running around trying to get everyone to play with him, but I’m worried he’s going to fall! Can you catch him for me? Please!?”

Sandalphon stood up to her full height. The others could still call her if they needed her, but for now they’d need to do without her direct oversight. Not that she doubted them or anything. “Of course.”

Suoh - Beacon Mental Hospital, the Brainframe

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Pit’s @Yankee, Roxas’ @Double, Luka, Gemma, Yuito, Hanabi

Though furious, the fights in the Stem Chamber didn’t last long. Though Painwheel, under Brain Drain’s control, managed to deal with Midna’s summons and strikers quite effectively, the Twilight Princess found better help in the form of Roxas, Yutio, and Hanabi. Working alongside them, she managed to lay low the facility’s arrogant psychic director, and without Brain Drain to direct her berserk energy, Painwheel and her rage subsided soon after. Though much worse for wear, their opponents were victorious.

Meanwhile, one Seeker and one Psych-OSF soldier challenged the rogue physics apiece. Though Luka supported Pit when he stood up to Sina, the gung-ho angel ended up doing the lion’s share of the work, sparing his psychic ally the anguish of bringing his Weight Hammer to bear against his own subordinate. As luck would have it, Pit certainly put his best foot forward, taking the fight to Sina despite her slew of cryokinetic tricks and roughing her up. Dexio, meanwhile, faced off against the potent tag team of Gemma and Sakura. He might not be a slouch in the raw power department, but both his foes were expert hand-to-hand fighters with physical strength to spare. Taking turns, they disarmed and then dismantled him, forcing him to make his escape. Put on the back foot, Dexio and Sina activated Brain Drive, but both Seekers knew they had an alternative to facing off against the rogue psychics’ second phases. Rather than go the whole nine yards, they made doubly sure that their opponents were past the requisite damage threshold, then unveiled their trump cards. Both Pit and Sakura managed to deliver their Friend Hearts without issue, but what happened next took them by surprise.

Rather than being instantly cleansed, Dexio and Sina exhibited some sort of adverse reaction, convulsing for a moment as prismatic light built within them. Then, after a tense moment, the lightshow came to a stop as suddenly as it started. With a loud pop, as if some sort of blockage had just been forcefully cleared, the two were thrown to the floor and restored to normal–a normal that neither their squadmate nor their captain recognized, lacking their former bulk and all inhuman features. Though still recognizably themselves, both looked like completely ordinary people. Dexio, with his short, rounded blonde hair and blue glasses, wore a yellow v-neck t-shirt and ripped blue jeans. Sina, with fluffy dark purple hair and pink glasses, had on a white tank top, and ripped dark blue jean shorts. They were, for the first time in a while, themselves. Next to them lay one spirit apiece: a sturdy, slate-blue, spiky Metang, and a stout, long-haired, purple-skinned Jynx.

Instead of gawking or questioning their sudden restoration, Luka rushed over, kneeling between them. “Dexio? Sina? Are you two okay?”

The young woman rubbed her shoulder, looking herself over. “I’m…normal again. I feel…and look, just how I used to!”

“That goes for me, too,” Dexio confirmed. “We’re how we were before joining Psych-OSF.”

Luka looked down at the prismatic motes beside them. “Those spirits…you were fused with Pokemon to gain psychic powers?” Sina looked toward Dexio, who after a moment nodded sheepishly. The confirmation made Hanabi furrow her eyebrows as she remembered what Roxas had said the other day. It looked like the divide between those with and without psychic abilities had led some people to take drastic measures.

“Just like Armstrong said last night,” Gemma pointed out. The big man was standing nearby with his arms crossed, a stormy look on his face. “That doesn’t explain why you attacked us, though. What happened?”

Sina winced, as if dredging up those memories was painful to her. “We were…here before. After what happened to Peach yesterday, we were trying to find out what happened. Telling everyone who would listen. Nobody believed us, not until the Chairman showed up himself. He said he’d show us everything, and sent us with some of his men to come here.”

“Then…that man! The brain with the robot body! After the Chairman’s men told him to ‘fix’ us, he pierced us with those needles. I remember blacking out…then it’s all a blur. Did we really…attack you guys?”

Luka shook his head, clasping a hand on both their shoulders. Though still cold and wet from his attempted drowning, he had nothing but compassion in his heart. “Well, whatever happened, it’s over. You’re safe with us now, and you’ll be alright.”

Gemma, meanwhile, looked over toward where Midna knocked out Brain Drain. “It sounds like…like personality rehabilitation. It’s supposed to be a treatment for mental problems, but it’s been banned for years because of the potential for brainwashing.”

Before anyone could do much of anything else, an orange psychic field began to appear in an open spot in the room. Yuito’s eyebrows shot up. “A Transport power? Someone’s coming!”

“Like we didn’t have enough to deal with!” Hanabi snarked, hefting her staff.

When Transport went off, however, the man that appeared was one most people here recognized. Tall and lanky, with dark green hair and purple skin, Crenshaw stood flanked by a couple men. Together, they looked almost exactly like the group that spirited away Peach yesterday morning. “It’s you,” he said aloud, astonished. “The new recruit I graded…and a number of you from the old subway tunnels yesterday.” Shaking his head to clear his surprise, he clasped his hands together in a businesslike fashion. “Ah, pardon me. I can explain–everything.”

“Crenshaw…” Luka crossed his arms. He looked deadly serious. “Go on.”

The psychic obliged. “I’m a member of the OSF splinter faction, the Seiran Garrison. We’ve been watching this facility closely. Relieving Brain Drain here of his excess, well, brains.” He glanced up at the Brainframe. “When our man staking out the place reported another faction on the premises, I came as fast as I could.” He held up his hands placatingly, as if physically weighing his options. “Back in the tunnels we wanted to avoid involving you if we could. The fewer people who know, the better, and if word gets out, the conspiracy will take steps to make sure that word is silenced. But it seems like you’re all willing to take the risks, determined to reach out and grasp the truth.” He clasped his hands again, holding them against his chest. “We took your friend for her own safety, and for yours. But if you want to see her, we can take you there too. To the Supernatural Life facility, hidden away in the depths of Deep-Paris.” He turned his gaze upward. “Just give us a moment to take as many of these brains as we can. You’ll find out why we need them soon enough.”

While they went to work, the Seekers got a chance to recap, regroup, recover, and explain. If they looked for Brain Drain, they’d find that he’d already awoken and absconded to save himself, leaving his lab -and Painwheel- behind, no matter how much that must have stung him. After conversing with Gemma, Dexio, and Sina, Luka teleported each of them out, then returned. “Gemma will take them to safety,” the captain explained solemnly. “But I want to see what’s become of my cadet for myself.”

“I’m coming too,” Yuito announced. “I need to see the true face of Psych-OSF for myself. The suffering it has caused…Hanabi, you don’t have to-”

His friend shook her head, her burgundy ponytail whipping from side to side. “Wherever you go, I go.”

Once the Seekers wrapped everything up here, the journey could commence.

The Under - Kingdom’s Edge

Level 12 Nadia (65/120)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Ganondorf’s @Double, Rubick’s @Scarifar, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 2621

After leaving the Organization girl to be inundated with questions by the others, Nadia walked over to the newly-summoned jumping puzzle, stopping in the center to stare upward with her hands in her pockets. Above her floated an array of fluffy white clouds arranged haphazardly from just above the cavern’s floor all the way up to the powerfully luminescent lightroot that dangled from its ceiling, spread across a horizontal range a couple hundred feet in diameter. It was a lot to take in, especially considering that she needed to follow in that odd-looking quadruped’s footsteps and get all the way to the top in order to keep progressing forward. That meant a very, very long fall if she missed a jump, and as her predecessor demonstrated, a cloud would vanish once touched, meaning that she couldn’t just idle in place as if bouncing on a trampoline. Once she set off, it would be go, go, go from the start line all the way to the finish, but as intimidating as that sounded, Nadia couldn’t help but be excited. This would be a true test of her agility, and between her double jump, airdash, and Charge, she felt pretty well-equipped to take it. The thought of asking Kamek for a mount didn’t even cross her mind. With an eager smile she crouched down, waved her tails as she built up blood pressure in her legs, then cannoned skyward with an exultant yell. “Nyaaaaaahooooooo!”

In short order she realized that this was even more fun than she anticipated. Each soft, springy cloud bounced her up about a dozen feet no matter where or how she landed on it, making it so easy to gain altitude that she left the ground behind in a matter of moments. From there, she could reliably double jump by somersaulting in any direction at her leisure, exchanging her upward momentum for greater maneuverability. If she needed to cover more distance, a blood-propelled airdash worked perfectly, but at the lower reaches of the cloud formation the puffy white pillows were so plentiful that she seldom needed to. While landing on a cloud would bounce her up, she could pass straight through them from below, sometimes allowing her to scale several at a time without even needing to move. Her fears that this would become a monotonous, methodical chore were dashed the moment she first encountered a coiled spring lying atop one of the clouds. When she brought her new Mantreads down on it, the spring launched her upward in a burst of speed that made her ears, hair and tail whip in the wind. “Whoooooo, yeah!” she yowled, a huge grin plastered on her mug as her heart raced. Each spring sent her quadruple the height of a regular cloud, but things didn’t stop there. Rarer still were the actual trampolines that rested on the occasional cloud, bright red with a yellow dot in the center, and landing on those hurtled her even farther upward. Aiming for these sped up the catgirl’s progress dramatically, allowing her to make quick work of the jumping puzzle.

As Nadia climbed higher, the going got a little tougher, though for the adventurous feral that just kept things enjoyably interesting. Clouds became more spaced out, and false platforms that would break the instant she or anyone else touched them showed up. With her speed and agility she mostly avoided the bugs that belabored the the Koopa Troop, but some Booflies did meander into her airspace. At one point Nadia hit a spring that launched her into a Boofly’s underside faster than she could maneuver out of the way, and the hefty blow knocked her off course, threatening to fling her out of the cloud column altogether and into freefall. That was the only time Nadia ended up needing to use Charge, blitzing back to safety as a bolt of lightning to resume her climb, and a few moments later the feral got her revenge by bouncing on top of the offending Boofly until her Mantreads ruptured its bulbous body like a water balloon. “How’d you like that shoe, fly? Hahah, serves ya right!” Nadia called down after it as she resumed her climb.

Not long after her near-disaster, she chanced upon a stroke of good fortune instead: a funny-looking propeller hat, complete with colorful stripes. When she snatched it from the cloud it rested on, its propeller spun up immediately, carrying Nadia with it as it soared upward for hundreds of feet. It really got her blood pumping, and though the joyride ended far too soon, Nadia quickly realized upon discarding it that she’d almost reached the top. Not too far away hung the lightroot, its glare blindingly bright at this range, but by averting her gaze the feral spotted what looked like her destination. A large, rocky overhang hung out from one of the cave walls on the same side as the recess that harbored the protruding top of Pizza Tower, which she hadn’t even noticed passing. Once she got high enough, all it took was a final push consisting of an airdash into diagonal Charge to seal the deal.

The overhang took the form of an upward slope in the direction of the cavern wall, very much like a hill with a coating of soil atop of the stone and even patches of grass somehow nourished by the lightroot’s glow. Nadia landed at the foot of this ‘hill’ on all fours just to make absolutely sure she didn’t fall backward off the edge before rising to her feet. Her heart beat like a drum in her chest and her throat felt a little raw from all the exertion, so after a moment she sat down to rest until everyone had reached this spot. It took practically that entire time to comb out and untangle her long hair, whipped as it was into a frenzied mess by all the gymnastics she’d done during her ascent. “Not that this hasn’t been fun, but I could’ve really used a short cut,” she muttered aloud. The sooner she got her locks trimmed again, the better. As she took a better look at the overhang, though, she felt less confident about encountering a barber -or even a mirror- in the near future. This hill featured dozens of tombstones, and at the top the stone of the cave wall had been carved into the somber facade of a mausoleum. That kid did call this next place ‘the Crypt’, she thought offhandedly as she collected her hair into a ponytail with the help of a strand of muscle fiber. I guess we’ve got a grave matter ahead of us.

Once everyone stood reunited, they proceeded to the top of the hill. There, inside the mausoleum facade, they found a room of aged stone brick dimly lit by black candles that burned with an eerie blue flame. On the far side were a set of heavy stone doors, enchanted and sealed tight. In front of them sat a heavy stone desk with a number of papers on it, whether loose or in ledgers, as well as an inkwell and feather pen. Nobody sat there, but a bell sat near the edge, tantalizingly shiny, next to a small, neatly-written sign that read ‘ring for assistance’. Though a little wary, Nadia went ahead and tapped the bell. Ding!

The instant the bell’s hollow peal rang out, a field of swirling purple clouds surrounded the room. “Gah, I knew it!” Nadia yelled, more annoyed than surprised. From behind the desk, a purplish shadow sprang up and loomed over documents and Seekers alike, his eyes and smile a brilliant yellow.

“WHHHHYYYYYYYYYY HELLO THERE!” the Snatcher greeted the heroes enthusiastically, his voice suitably slimy and ethereal. “Hello and welcome, esteemed visitors, to the Crypt! Will you be interested in entering this fine afternoon?”

Though tensed up and ready to fight, Nadia kept her hands off her weapons as she looked up at the Snatcher’s leering face. “Uh, yeah actually. Can you get us in?”

“Of course! The Crypt offers free admission year-round. All you need to do is sign the EULA.”

When she heard that word, Nadia drew a blank, her brows scrunching together in confusion. “The…eula?”

“The end-user license agreement!” Summoning a thick sheaf of paper, the specter offered it to Nadia. “Think of it as a legal contract that one must consent to and abide by in order to enter and enjoy the Crypt. You know, terms and conditions, rights and restrictions, all that jazz. Don’t worry about the details, just sign right at the bottom, and we’re good to go!”

When Nadia took the contract and held it up to read it, the paper unfolded, reaching all the way to the floor and then some. After suppressing her astonishment, she narrowed her eyes and tried to read it. All the complicated, impersonal legal jargon quickly made her head spin after just a couple paragraphs; she wasn’t absorbing any of it, and she actually yawned. “Holy moly. How does anyone actually read this thing!? What kind of stuff’s in it?”

“Pretty much nobody does, actually!” the Snatcher told her cheerfully. “It’s more of a formality than anything. It’s just limitations of use, prohibited activities like smoking and fighting, waivers, legal penalties for breaking contract, yadda, yadda, yadda. Nothing fine upstanding folks like yourselves need worry about, I’m sure!”

At that, Nadia’s ears perked up a bit. “Oh, well, yeah, sure. We’re just passin’ through anyway, I won’t do anythin’ bad. Cat’s honor!” While she meant that, she ultimately didn’t care all that much about whatever stipulations she was supposedly agreeing to. As far as she was concerned, it was all superfluous legalese that didn’t practically mean anything. And what was the worst the monsters here could do if someone broke contract anyway? Attack them? The Seekers were no strangers to fighting their way out. Nadia went ahead and signed the EULA given to her, using her not-so-legal name of Ms. Fortune. Immediately the contract rolled up and poofed away, and the stone slabs leading into the Crypt began to slide open. They would smash together to crush anyone who stepped inside illegally, but as a contractor Nadia had nothing to fear.

She and the Snatcher both waited for signatures from everyone else who was willing. Only when the last Seeker signed did the Snatcher clap his hands together. “That seals the deal, we’re in business! You’re all free to enter. Let me just grab this real quick…” As the mausoleum doors closed behind everyone, a flurry of purple lightning came out of the blue and struck them repeatedly. Though Nadia flinched on reflex, she barely felt the lightning at all, and rather than deafening thunder she heard nothing more than a series of weak slaps, like someone getting smacked with a crumpled up paper. After a moment, though, strange, wispy motes drifted up from each of them, like ghostly facsimiles of themselves. Suddenly, Nadia felt exceedingly empty inside. “And there we go! As per the terms of your license agreement, your souls belong to the NecroDancer for the duration, by which I mean ‘eternity’, and if you leave before your contract is up, he will definitely ‘end user’, ahahahahaha!” Welcome to the Crypt of the NecroDancer. Dance ‘til you’re dead!”

Nadia groaned and hung her head, laughing dryly at herself for getting fooled so easily. Although she could pretty much predict how it’d go, she halfheartedly tried throwing Athame at the Snatcher anyway, and naturally it bounced right off. “Sorry, ‘Ms. Fortune’, you can only hit me when I turn blue,” the specter explained. “But blue doesn’t suit me. So if you’re feeling blue, take it up with the NecroDancer! No fighting though, or your soul’s on the menu, ahahahaha!” As he dove back into the ground, his voice echoed through the catacombs. “FOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooools…

With a sigh Nadia went to retrieve her dagger, crouching down by the doors. “Y’know, this is good, actually. I was just thinkin’ that things were a little too normal today.” As she stuck Athame in her belt, her ears flicked. “Hey…you guys hear music?”

When the team advanced, they soon found the Crypt to be a sprawling dungeon tomb, but it was far from dead silent. In each vaulted chamber, all with their own spooky themes, the checkered floors flashed alternating colors in tune to the beat. Speakers and boomboxes outnumbered the tombstones The skeletons, zombies, and ghosts that crowded this place were completely non-hostile, perhaps also bound by the terms of their contracts even though their ends had already come. Instead they held up bones coated in luminescent mushroom juice like glow sticks, partaking in a never-ending rave, or boogieing out on the dance floor. Even floating Sargassos (some with trumpets) and Plenty of other monsters and people seemed to call this place home as well, but even though tempers might run hot, fights never broke out here. Nadia did see a couple dance battles and rhythmic showdowns, so furiously competitive that she couldn’t help but wonder if the participants were dancing for their very lives. At some point the place looked less like a crypt more like a Halloween-themed club.

A little overwhelmed by all the stimulus present in the supernatural party atmosphere, Nadia stopped in the Crypt’s central nexus, a roughly cylindrical chamber of stairs, arches, and obsidian. Though it connected to many rooms and received a taste of the music in each, this seemed to be the only place without any active partying, where a number of dancers and celebrants were relaxing on break or just sitting in crestfallen silence. Skeletons seemed to be the majority here, so a young blonde woman with a shovel stuck out like a sore thumb. Nadia also spotted a few people that seemed like instructors, some in the process of giving dance lessons. One, Nashmeira, instructed in the use of a dancing art that made use of chakrams, while an elegant young man in pink taught ribbon dancing with cloth that furled like drills. A fox spirit would’ve been teaching a fan dance if he had any students, because he happened to be near the most popular trainers, a trio of short men in tracksuits who evidently taught combat breakdancing. There was even a magical-looking jukebox called ‘Leitmotif’ with the slogan ‘Discover your theme’ emblazoned on it.

“Sheesh. This place must get ‘rave’ reviews. Everyone’s just dyin’ to get in.” Nadia sat down on some steps, not sure where to even begin. Had she really lost her soul? If so, how was she going to get it back? Who was this NecroDancer, anyway? And maybe most importantly, did this Crypt place serve lunch? “Maybe we oughta break out the pizzas,” she told the troop, only half joking. “I dunno what to do, but whatever we end up doing, we can’t do it hungry, eh?”
Hidden 19 days ago 18 days ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 12 hrs ago

Level 11 Sectonia (holding 5 level up) - (14/110)
Location: The Under - Kingdom's edge
Word Count: Less than 750.

Sectonia did ask Kamek about these 'past adventures' of Bowser, and things sounded pretty surreal overall. She knew Kamek wasn't one to lie either, so that just made things more concerning if anything. "Hmm... No wonder why there is so much distrust for this 'ganondorf' if that happened. And from your stories, he tends to be betrayed quite often. He is quite the trusting person." Sectonia said, thinking about it. With how grandiose, yet even grounded these stories had been, it was... again, concerning yet comforting n a way. "I find Bowser boarish at times, but I'd be lying if I said he hasn't earned my respect for his power alone. You can tell him he doesn't have to watch his back with me at least. I doubt his plans and my plans conflict, I'm not interested in Peach and betraying allies would make for a poor kingdom." Sectonia did find the whole 'wedding' thing amusing at least. Perhaps they had just come from that, with Bowser having wore that suit for awhile. This did lead the the morbid question of Bowser being a widower or something, something Kamek was sheepish to answer and deflected with another tale. Sectonia could get the hint, and this story did explain two people she met. One that she had taken the spirit of, and the other she had turned into a striker. Quite interesting they were involved in some multiversal plot.

Sectonia overall enjoyed the strange stories as the two of them ascended easily through the clouds and eventaully made their way to their next destination, being met by... honestly a shady fellow, literally! Apparently to get to the next area, they had to go through some kind of... weird resort or something? And had to sign some contract? Well with how long it was, Sectonia wasn't going to sign it blindly like a few of the others were, and took some time to read it. While she knew statecraft, legal mombu jumbo wasn't her forte as she often just overpowered what caused her issues. And it seemed like this would be one of these times as the terms looped and twisted and turned in ways that she hadn't seen before and confused her enough that she decided on that fallback and signed, although she was one of the later signs because of that.

And overpower it seemed the name of the game was, as apparently somewhere in that scroll was 'you forfeit your soul to the dungeon boss' or something like that. And this was some crypt, which denizens seemed to dance to the beat. Those that had signed the contract could also feel the music flow through them, and Sectonia would find if she didn't move or attack to the beat things were quite annoying in general with her constantly seeming to 'flinch' "Hmph... This is going to be frustrating." Sectonia said, used to dancing to more opulent music than this. She'd also have to control her motions a bit so that she didn't flail about, especially with her able to knock over a few of the smaller people if she did with her abdomin.

She took her time here to figure out how her spells and such worked here. She found her sword swipes and her faster spells, including those new spells she had just learned, worked totally fine if kept on beat. But her longer spells such as summoning her antilions and her rings of light were no gos unless the song was slower. It also seemed like her Haste wasn't as good here, but slowing down an area might be powerful in combat perhaps, if it made the enemies flinch to the beat of the music. "Hm... Well... this is new." Sectonia said, more perplexed than anything. "i have a feeling this "Necrodancer" might have one of those mask shards, if the pattern repeats itself. I suppose we have some work to do." Sectonia said, joining the others in having a snack. She had gotten a great amount of her fill since pizza tower, and eating too much before a stressful dance session would be bad, so she just had a little bit of her dessert pizzas for now.
Hidden 18 days ago 18 days ago Post by DracoLunaris
Avatar of DracoLunaris

DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 8 hrs ago

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 2,684 (+3)
Bowser: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (293/120)
Bowser Jr: Level 12 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (178/120)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (170/120)
Rika: Level 8 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (101/80)
Location: The Under - Termite Kingdom Ruins

The troop had a little bit of a wait at the top thanks to the head start most of their members had on the rest of the seekers. While they waited Jr ended up making a joke about how it was a ”Shame papa sold those massive scissors back in the city, you coulda used those” in response to Nadia’s murmured comment about getting her haircut, before thinking for a moment quickly forming a pair of crude pair of iron scissors using his ferromancy and offering ”How about with these then?” also mostly as a joke.

The cat burglar gave him a dubious glance, pulling her ponytail over her shoulder almost defensively. "Do..you know how to hairdress? I mean, I'm not some snooty purr-incess or anythin', but there's more to a haircut than actually cuttin' hair, y'know? If you hairdo a bad job, I'm hairdone for."

”I’m sure it’ll be fiiiiiiiine. I’ve done all sorts of talents you’d never guess at” the prince replied, before snickering, rather giving the game away in the process.

”and yet I am quite sure haircuts are not one of them” Kamek interjected, before plucking the scissors from he prince’s hands ”and even if you did, I would not advise using these”

”Hey! They aren't that bad” Jr complained, and then after giving the blunt things a second look, instead switched to insisting that ”I can make some way better ones” before attempting to do so.

With the prince briefly distracted, Kamek told Nadia that ”I actually have a little bit of experience cutting hair, though I am by no means skilled at it. Their majesties had something of a habit of scaring off any barbers trying to give them a trim in their earliest years you see, so I might have given them a surreptitious cut or two while they were sleeping” which got a pair of “wait you did?!” from both royal koopas.

Nadia chuckled at the Troop's antics. "That's super on-brand for you guys. And thanks fur offerin', but I think I'll pass. A girl's hair ain't somethin' ya do by trial and error." After another moment spent watching the Koopas, something occurred to her, and she raised an eyebrow. "Aren't there any gals in your Troop? Who's Junior's mom?"

”Fair enough” Kamek conceded gracefully while Jr made a little ”awww beans” in disappointment, before giving the small pile of rejected scissors he had made a light kick.

”Shame, that last pair looks good. I think. Sharp anyway” Rika commented, having never had so much as a trim before, as she took a look at the vicious looking pair of snippers the prince had formed in his last attempt.

”As for ladies,” Kamek then replied, ”well naturally there are, though it should be noted hair isn’t not exactly a common trait in Koopas, nor is it among the various other species that make up our ranks” the hairless himself Koppa replied, thinking most prominently of Wendy O’Koopa and her baldness when compared to the rest of the Koopalings (save the equally bare Roy), before thinking it over and then adding ”and a fair amount that do might be wearing wigs now that I think about it? Possibly? It would be rude to ask”

”And I don't have a mom yet” Jr replied very matter of factly (as if this didn’t raise several questions), his ego having already recovered thanks to Rika’s praise of his craftsmanship.

Nadia blinked at Junior a couple times and decided not to press the issue any further. Compared to all the bizarre things she'd been forced to accept already, this barely even registered.

At any rate, soon after that conversation wound down, the rest of the gang arrived, and they all set off on the next leg of their adventure, which took them into a spooky graveyard which had, of all things, an office desk sitting in it.

The troop approached this desk along with Nadia, and got a front row seat to the unfurling of the massive contract as a result.

”Badness me, that is quite the sea of legalease” the Kamek said as he took it all in, before adjusting his spectacles and starting to say ”if you’ll give me a moment I’ll-” before making an affronted noise as Bowser pushed him the the side and signed right away while declaring ”Yeah, no, we’ve not got time for that so let’s just get it over with so we can move on”

”Sire!” The mage protested, swiftly adding similar exclamations of ”Young master!” and ”Young mistress!” when Jr and Rika also signed without reading.

Well, in actuality Rika took the pen, paused for a moment, and then leaned over and asked Kamek ”Is my name spelled R-Y-K-A-H or R-I-K-A-H?” The princess had never had the need to write it down before after all, or anything else in her life really.

”Oh? I think it’s R-I-K-A” Kamek supplied helpfully, and added ”Oh and put Koopa at the end, as that is your last name now that you are his majesty’s scion. K-O-O-P-A.”

”Thanks! K-O-O-P-A and done!” the princess declared right in time for Kamek to realize what he’d just helped her do with an exclamation of ”Gah no wait!” Yet at that point it was much too late, and so he could do little but sigh and facepalm at their now collective stupidity.

Despite them having already signed, Kamek refused to peer pressured into also doing so, and so doggedly proceeded to slowly read through the contract line by tiny line (which was not pleasant on his old eyes, that he’d tell you) before doing so. Fortunately for Snatcher, Bowser was much too impatient to wait for him to finish, and so the rest of the troop forged on ahead far before Kamek reached the important part.

When he did, he proceeded to exclaim ”Their souls!” before hurriedly scanning the rest of the important part of the contact buried in the smallest of small-text while going ”No, no, no, no” before tossing the whole thing away like it was poison to the touch.

The mage paced to and for several moments as he mulled over what he could do, before snapping his fingers- and promptly getting on his broom and leaving.

A few moments later a tiny shrunken mote of light drifted through the room he had just left, suspiciously sneaking past the demon manning the desk, and then touching the wall beyond. The whips phased right through the material of the crypt, and popped right on out the other side, emerging into the dance party on the other side, where it joined the flashing lights of the dance floor.

A second or so later Kamek joined it, arriving in a puff of smoke, having teleported inside thanks to the remote vision his summon had granted him. The mage had been ever so worried about what fate had awaited his royal masters within, but he was both relieved, and a touch incredulous, that rather than finding them facing certain doom he instead found them in the midst of hosting a pizza party in the crypt’s central hub.

”Hey Kamek!” Rika called over as she gave him a wave ”Did you end up signing the thingy as well?”

”Oh yes of course, how else would I have been able to follow you in here” the mage replied loudly as he drifted on his broom and then landed among them, at which point he leaned in and whispered ”I’m lying, I teleported in here, so I still own my soul”

”What did that even mean anyway? Like, what’s a soul?” the princess asked before anyone could comment on Kamek’s cleverness, which sent the mage floundering for a way to explain that metaphysical concept ”Oh, well, um, see it’s well. It’s what makes you, you. But not your body or your brain, it’s a more, well, a more spiritual thing you see?”

”Oh so it's my spirit? But I’ve got a whole bunch of those in me, so can I just give him one of those instead?” Rika asked, thoroughly confuddling Kamek.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, Bowser stepped in at that moment to declare ”Nobody’s giving anyone any spirits, or any souls!” and then explaining that ”All we have to do is beat that necrodancer in a dance battle and we’ll win them back”

”Dance … battle?” Kamek repeated, before asking ”Is this something that was explained, or did you just guess that this is the case sire?”

”I mean it's obvious isn’t it. Guy’s got ‘dance’ in his name, and there’s a bunch of people doing dance battles in here, so they must be practicing to take him on” Bowser explained ”Fortunately for you lot, I’ve been in this situation before. Ya see it all started when Waluwigi stole the 4 magical Music keys, which I think is like the only solo bad guy thing has ever done, and it just got crazier from there” Bowser began, before giving a fever dream like recounting of the single day in which Mario decided to use the power of dance to solve all his problems which eventually ended with ”And that’s how I got my tone deafness cured!”

”Ah yes, that. I tried to forget” Kamek said, not particularly happy to have the memory of those events dredged up, while the two youngsters had thoroughly enjoyed the whole silly story from beginning to end.

”So you can dance real good?” Rika asked

”Yup! Runs in the family too! Jr’s a real good rhythmic gymnast and ribbon dancer don’t you know. Got some Olympic medals for it and everything” the king replied, while Jr groaned ”Daaaaad” just a little embarrassed about people being told about some of the less cool sports he’d done over the years. Or rather that they’d done, because his papa had taken part in the exact same events after all.

Rika at least thought it was ”Neat” as she often did regarding new information, before adding that she ”bet that’ll come in real handy” and then adding after a moment of reflection that ”I’ve never danced before in my life though, so I’ll probably slow you all down”

”Let’s not jump to conclusions shall we. For all we know this is simply how people are distracting themselves down here and we simply need to overpower this necrodancer in a conventional manner” Kamek suggested, before adding that ”If you give me a moment, I’m sure I can find out more by simply asking someone what this place’s whole situation is”

”Oh, right yeah I guess we could just do that” Bowser said, as he stood up to come join in with that (while continuing to eat pizza out of one of the many pizza boxes).

They left the kids behind to keep eating, during which Jr explained to Rika that she could probably dance with her spear, and he might be able to give her a few tips from his old rhythmic gymnastics routine that sometimes involved a long stick.

The two older troop members meanwhile took a little look around trying to decide who to ask, and ended up approaching the blonde woman due to her standing out so much (and after failing to get the attention of a number of undead).

”Good morning. Or is it afternoon? Regardless, hello to you young lady, I don’t suppose you could fill in a few newcomers about the nature of this place?“

”Yeah, like where’s the poser I gotta dance into the dirt to get outta here. I’m a busy guy, I’ve got a whole list of other people who need to get stomped as well after I deal with this speedbump” Bowser added along with a palm punch.

Though Bowser and Kamek's sudden visitation left the girl taken aback, she quickly composed herself to try and give her fellow unfortunates a hand. "Uh, hey. Guess you guys lost your souls too? I didn't even sign anything, I just fell into this place and got mine nicked off me." Though like the Organization girl she happened to speak with a British accent, hers was a lot less high-pitched and cockney. "Well, the NecroDancer's the one you want. He's the one holdin' everyone's souls, that Snatcher fellow's just a legal contractor. But it's not easy as walkin' right up to 'im and bustin' a move. You've gotta work your way up before he sees you as a worthy challenger. That means winnin' points through dance-offs." She wore a stern expression as she delivered the news. "Outdancin' the dead 'round here's piss easy, but beaten them won't get you much points. Better to beat other contractors, but they wanna live just as bad as you do. The NecroDancer's got special minions too, like Fortissimole and King Conga. They're worth even more, but they're tough as nails. So even if you're feelin' yourself, pick your battles. You don't wanna go below zero."

As she sighed, she leaned back, allowing just enough of the fickle firelight to shine on her face that the Koopas saw her sunken eyes and the worry lines etched in your face. "If you wanna know all the details, talk to the Amicassador. She's one of the NecroDancer's cronies, not to mention the best fan dancer in the Crypt. I'm Cadence, by the way." Leaning on her shovel with her left arm, she extended her right to shake.

”Kamek“ the mage replied, taking and shaking, before leaning in close and covertly asking ”Incidentally, what would I look out for if I, hypothetically, had to be worry about getting mine ‘nicked’ as well?“

”This Amicassador they guy who’s being shown up by the tracksuit bro’s over there?” Bowser meanwhile asked, based purely on the fact that said person also had a fan.

"Don't fall unconscious," Cadence told him ruefully. When she looked over at the person Bowser indicated, she raised an eyebrow. "Uhh...no. She is part fox though. And also probably the reason why nobody wants to learn from old Youko there. No point in even trying to fan dance with Tingyun around." She glanced back at Bowser. "That's the Amicassador. Just look for a big, fluffy brown fox tail."

Kamek offered her ”My thanks“ for the advice. Given that he wasn’t going to be doing any dances of his own, what with his age and lack of need, his biggest concern would be any acts of subterfuge on the parts of their host should they find him out.

”Yeah, thanks.” The king echoed, before adding that ”I’ll pay you back by bringing down the house within the day”

”I’m not sure how you being cheered helps h-“ Kamek began to say, before getting it ”ooooooh. I see. Yes, we’ll be sure to raze the roof if we can“

"Good luck," Cadence wished them, a slight smile on her face. Hopefully these newbies would fare better than the last batch

They were certainly convinced they would, and so headed back to the pizza party with their newly acquired information.

”I was right! It is a dance off system!” Bowser declared loudly and smugly

”Yes, yes“ Kamek conceded, before putting in all the work in relaying all the information they’d leard to the others, ending with ”So we should probably seek out this ‘Amicassador’ person next“

”Yup. After you finish lunch!” Bowser declared, which got a ”huh?” from Kamek, before he got a pizza box shoved in his hands by the king.

”Oh, well, I suppose now that we know we’re not in immediate danger I guess I can take a slight beak” he admitted, before flipping open the lind, breathing in the scent of somehow still hot and fresh Italian cuisine and sighing with delight. He hadn’t realized how hungry all the fighting and flying of the morning had left him till just now, and so he was then more than happy to sit down and much away while taking in the scenery inside the tomb in a more relaxed fashion alongside the rest of the troop, and anyone else who wanted to join them for lunch.
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Hidden 17 days ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 22 hrs ago

Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Quarantine Valley- Sector V

Lvl 10 (201/100) -> Lvl 10 (203/100)

Lvl 4 (60/40) -> Lvl 4 (62/240)

Word Count: 1,216 words

As the others gathered with the group at large, Zenkichi and Geralt kept watch, though the locals didn't give any trouble. One person passed by the 'hidden' route quickly while they were waiting, keeping their eyes forward and offering no more than a quick flick to the side to quickly determine that the two weren't looking for trouble before hurrying on to whatever business they had.

Goldlewis and Hal arrived with a new tagalong, likely the woman the former Secretary of Defense had rescued from the Chimeras, and Geralt gave a simple nod to the other large man as he joined the group. Zenkichi was a bit more talkative. "Even in Zone 9, the Secretary is making friends. Boy am I glad you're on our side." He joked good-naturedly, before the group set off into Sector V.

The stores before them offered a decent variety of supplies, though the quality was likely suspect. Zenkichi had meant to offload the machine parts he'd scavenged while they were in the Sector 7 Slums, but the first time around the melancholy had taken him, and the second the celebratory nature of their victory at Vandelay Headquarters. While he didn't doubt the people here could use the materials, he wasn't sure he would get a fair deal for them. That, and he wasn't exactly keen on supplying these guys with more that they could use. He still wasn't 100% sold on working with the Hermits and Reunion, but he knew the Administration was by far worse news. And if these guys proved to be up to no good, he had a feeling Goldlewis and he would be on the same page when it came to dealing with that.

Sector V was more lively than Geralt expected. Places like this, where the sick were quarantined and left to die by those in power, were rarely joyous places. This place, though, had a lot more vitality than the slums of Novigrad. It was a welcome change of atmosphere from what he was used to, at least. He didn't let his guard down, though, and any who took more than a few moments to glance at the admittedly extremely strange-looking man would get at first a blank look telling them they'd been caught, then a scowl if their eyes lingered any longer.

Goldlewis managed to get a couple of interesting details from a passerby whom he'd simply asked if anything had been weird lately, and it was juicy, if vague, information. The Hermits were using a drug to power themselves up? That sounded like something out of a manga to Zenkichi. Whatever it was though, it sounded bad. That sort of thing rarely lacked side effects.

As the Seekers came to the end of the proverbial line, the concrete bridge, they got a look at what Geralt assumed were some Hermits. An organized group, complete with matching looks and masks. And they were guarding whatever was on the other side of that wall. Hal took a moment to give the group a quick reminder of their goals here, and Geralt grunted while Zenkichi gave a nod. Sandalphon once more went above to get a look at their surroundings and, if needed, provide overwatch. Though that wouldn't be needed unless somebody started a fight.

Zenkichi took the direct approach, boldly walking up to a random person shuffling through a deck of cards and offering to play a game. He got a slow look up and down, but the man shrugged and started dealing once he was satisfied the cop wasn't looking to start trouble. With a quick confirmation that he knew the rules, the pair started a game of War.

Zenkichi lost the first round after a run of bad luck ties cost him ten cards early on. The second round was a back-and-forth for a bit, but Zenkichi came out ahead.

"What do you know about the Hermits?" Zenkichi asked as he shuffled the deck, passing it off to the other man to be cut.

"I know nobody around here messes with them without getting burned, if that's what you mean." Came the gruff reply as Zenkichi dealt.

"Nothing like that," He reassured the man, as they flipped their cards. "If anything, my friends and I are looking to see about making a deal." Another win for the stranger. As he shuffled, the man nodded and thought a bit harder on it.

"Meant what I said about not messing with them, but your group seems to be tough enough. Not so sure about them bots you got with you, though..." He muttered the last part, and Zenkichi held off a frown. "But if they're combat models, don't think they'd care overly much."

"Oh, they can hold their own well enough." Zenkichi reassured him as he lost another round. One out of four. He let the other man shuffle the deck again, watching his hands carefully.

"There's a new boss in charge of the Hermits, and some folks ain't happy. They've been tougher on security at the gate, though clearly nobody's bothered to do anything about the back entrance if you folks made it in." Nothing. Well, it'd be pretty low to cheat at a friendly game of cards, especially War of all games.

"Mm, heard something like that. Sounds like a pain. Though, certainly sounds like it could be worse. What's the deal with that Hermitonic stuff? Seems kinda shady." Zenkichi played after the stranger dealt, slowly but surely taking the lead this round.

"Oh, that stuff? Nah, it's for drunks who can't be bothered to ride out a hangover the old-fashioned way. Apparently it's pretty good if you're doing harder stuff, too, but I'm a liquor man myself. Price tag's outright robbery if you don't have a card, either. I'll manage with a sip of water between drinks, thank you." He chuckled as the pair pulled out three tying cards in a row, with Zenkichi taking the pot after drawing a King to the stranger's 5.

As the game wound down, Zenkichi stood up and thanked the man for passing the time and easing his mind, stuffing his hands back in his pockets and returning to where Geralt was stood, watching as the others mingled and searched He was a good rallying point, given his size and appearance. "Not much to go off. He just repeated what you said about the Hermits having someone new in charge, though he did tell me about that weird drink. Apparently it's good at curing hangovers and being high. The price tag is probably their way of funding themselves and letting their members blow off some steam without being useless the next day."

"Then we ought to get our hands on one of those cards. I'm sure people would be willing to give up a lot for that if they're having a particularly bad hangover. I've had more than a few myself that made me want to gouge out my own eyes."

"Oh yeah, for sure." Zenkichi agreed, though he felt a little bad about the idea of basically extorting people. Then again, it was mostly just some pain relief for a self-imposed condition that would go away anyway, so...he didn't feel that bad about it.
Hidden 16 days ago 16 days ago Post by Yankee
Avatar of Yankee

Yankee 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Level: 8 - Total EXP: 221/80 ------ Level: 7 - Total EXP: 103/70
𝙱𝙿 ●●●● ---------------------------- 𝙱𝙿 ●●●●
Word Count: 2532 (+3 exp)
Location: The Under

Ft. @Lugubrious as Tingyun

'Through the Crypt and Hollow Bough' were the instructions the Organization member gave them in order to obtain the item they'd need to defeat this region's Guardian. It seemed the Crypt was their first destination, as they came upon it soon after walking over a hill of headstones. So far in the Under, the undead had been just as much innocent civilians as they had been mindless monsters - the Travelers wondered which type they'd find beyond the mausoleum's doors. Well, beyond the doors that were beyond those doors.

"End user..." "...license agreement?"

It was the first time Primrose and Therion had heard the term, though of course they knew what a contract was. From the way the Snatcher hastily described it, it was clear even to the ignorant that there was something fishy with the document. But when wasn't that the case lately? Suspicion and danger were every day occurrences now. For some, it had been for a long time.

The two of them both signed either own contracts using only their first names, though unbeknownst to them it wouldn't make a difference. Most of the others went ahead and signed themselves, giving them easy access to the Crypt. It was only after everyone had either signed or refused that the Snatcher revealed one of the deadly conditions of the document, taking all the signers' souls right from their body. It was a strange, unpleasant feeling. Primrose blinked, placing a hand on her chest while Therion frowned. This might as well happen, he thought to himself with a sigh.

"The pizza guy was normal to you?" he said to Ms. Fortune before the group at large moved deeper into the area.

Before the Snatcher disappeared, he gave them the name of the Crypt and it's keeper. The NecroDancer. The title intrigued Primrose. They found the inside of the Crypt to be lively, with music and colorful lights. There were dancers aplenty as well, with all kinds of different styles, and while some seemed like they were having a decent time others looked... desperate. This place did seem to be some kind of dance themed dungeon, so if the key to escaping really was a dance battle as Bowser claimed, then Primrose wasn't worried at all. She'd even had some practice the day before last, and she mentioned as much to Sectonia. She agreed about the potential for a mask fragment as well.

"You may be right. If this anything like the Royal Canopy Club, then we'll be able to handle it."

Primrose turned to the Koopa King and Prince after the former's wild story, her mouth pulled into a smile. "Oh~? So I'm not the only dancer the group has? You should have told me. We could practice together." Her words were mostly teasing, but she was very curious to see her comrade's dancing.

As Bowser and Kamek wandered off to get a rundown of how things worked here, Primrose and Therion loitered around the rest of the group. Lunch did sound good, now that Nadia mentioned it. She also mentioned not knowing what to do, but Therion thought that was pretty clear: find the person in charge, get their souls back, and get out. The specifics could be figured out as they went. He indulged in some of their food reserves, handing a random slice to Primrose and then offering one to Nadia.

In no time at all the two Koopas returned with information. They confirmed that there were indeed dance battles involved in escaping. Unsurprising and less than thrilled, Therion pushed himself off the spot on against the wall he'd taken up.

"Well, I'll get a head start on finding the Amicassador," he said, wiping his hands on his pants. "I was gonna look around the place anyway."

Hopefully he or someone else could find a way out of this mess without forcing everyone to dance. Maybe they could pool points or something, even if it meant relying on their professional Primrose and whoever else was bold enough to give it a shot. He sure wasn't, unless the circumstances absolutely demanded it.

He walked off without extending any invitations to join him. Primrose watched him go until he disappeared around a corner, and then turned her attention to the others.

"I think I'll speak with some of the instructors there," she told them, nodding her head toward the collection of dancers showing their moves off. She was interested in nearly all of them (the break dancers less so, given it would be hard to keep what remained of her modesty intact with her current outfit), and it couldn't hurt to expand her repertoire. As confident as she was though, if all of the Seekers that had their souls taken would have to participate in dancing competitions, it would behoove them to come along with her and learn.

"Would anyone like to join me?" she asked, extending a hand for anyone to take. And although none of their group seemed even the slightest bit shy, she made another offer. "I could be talked into giving a few lessons myself, if practicing in front of strangers was a concern."

Personally she intended to go first to the fox person with the fan, interested to see the difference in their styles.

Meanwhile, Therion wandered the Crypt. He kept his cat ears low against his head, trying to block out the worst of the loud music. It was impossible to escape, but he could at least deal with it. As he'd told the others before he left, he was planning to look for the Amicassador, but it would be remiss of him not to look for some goodies too. Assuming this was a regular crypt at least one point in time, there might be some valuables somewhere around. Am I above grave robbing? No.

Unfortunately, every single room he happened into was a dance hall. They featured different decor and different styles of music like the few they passed through on the way toward the central part of the Crypt, but there were no treasure rooms. The people dancing didn't seem to have anything worthwhile on them at first glance either. They were sad, tired, or currently shaking it to whatever beat was playing.

It didn't take much more wandering for Therion to set aside his disappointment and focus on finding this Tingyun figure instead. Fan dancer. Big, fluffy brown fox tail. Those were the clues that had been passed onto the Koopas, and from them unto the Seekers. Even so, looking through each and everyone room for one person would take a while. He questioned a few people that seemed to be taking a break, shouting over the music. They all told him the same thing.

"DISCO ROOM!" The latest one said, some kind of spirit that was fed up with repeating itself.

And once again Therion responded with, "I don't know what a disco is!"

After a couple more attempts someone pointed him in the right direction, namely just pointed out a passing zombie and just told him to follow it. It's shuffling was slow but purposeful, but it did eventually lead him to the right place.

As usual the room pulsed with music, and like the other rooms he wasn't familiar with said music, but people of a more modern era would recognize it as a discotheque. Therion lingered just inside the entryway off to the side, scanning the room until he caught sight of it: a big brown tail. The person he assumed was the Amicassador was behind the bar on the far side, so without wasting anymore time the thief made his way over while sticking to the walls. The center of the room had people surrounding a short, multi-colored stage and the competitors that danced on top of it - which he didn't want any part of.

Therion leaned against the counter, waving the bartender over when she looked over his way. The other patrons paid him little mind. They seemed like they'd had the life drained out of them, or at least their will. He didn't concern himself with them though, only the foxy woman.

"Hey. You take Geo here?"

It might be a little early for a drink (but who knew, maybe it was actually later than they assumed, being underground and all), but he'd also just had his soul taken from his body, so.

"Welcome, customer!" her high, bright voice sang out in reply. The owner of the said fluffy tail turned around, her brilliant jade-green eyes -tinted by Galeem's red- narrowed by a friendly smile as they sized Therion up. This 'Amicassador' turned out to be quite the looker, clad in an earthy brown sleeveless dress and fine red silks short enough to left her long legs on proud display. Her silky chocolate-brown hair was done up in a businesslike ponytail, and tall fox ears rose from her head. In her hands she held a silver cocktail mixer she'd been shaking, which the foxian beauty began to gently pour for another customer. "Or perhaps I should say 'contractor'? You certainly have that look about you. Regardless, we certainly do take geo! Is there anything I can get for you?"

Therion was a bit surprised that she could tell he'd signed that thing with just a look. Then he thought, actually, makes sense. Who else would end up here?

He looked at rows of bottles behind her, then shrugged and said, "Cheap ale, if you have it. Or whatever you have on tap."

His gaze flickered from her tail up to her ears. "You're right though. About me being a... 'contractor.' I was told the 'Amicassador' could tell me how things really work around here?"

"If that's so, then you've come to the right place twice over, because that just so happens to be me! I have the honor of serving as the Crypt's humble Amicassador. I'm in charge of welcoming visitors, showing them the ropes, and generally doing whatever I can to help put the 'rave' in 'grave', heehee." The foxian giggled as she finally selected the right brew for the job, a tasteful but pragmatic blend between affordability and quality. Hopefully it would help ease the new contractor feel a little more at home. Taking a glass mug, she poured it out to to twenty percent foam exactly, then placed it on the counter for Therion to take. "There you go, please enjoy. While you do, shall I launch into my usual spiel?"

"Thanks." He took the mug and settled in to listen. He didn't even cringe at the pun, immunity built up by being around Ms. Fortune. Taking a sip of the drink he was pleasantly surprised, and gestured for the woman to go on with her explanation. After she picked up on her signal, the Amicassador proceeded.

"Well, if you're here at our eternal dance party, chances are it's for one just reason: to get your soul back from the illustrious NecroDancer. According to the very same contract through which you signed it away, however, there's only one way: to win it fair and square by besting the NecroDancer himself on the dance floor. He won't accept a challenge from just anyone though, and whether or not you earn the right depends on your score." She placed her hands on the counter and leaned forward somewhat. "When you compete in a dance, you'll receive a rating based on how well you do, given by the countless spirits that dwell within these hallowed halls. Naturally, so will your opposition. The winner will earn points equal to the loser's score, and the loser will lose points equal to the winner's. Everyone starts with one hundred, and in order to challenge the NecroDancer, you'll need to gather ten thousand." For a moment she went serious, pronouncing the number with extra gravitas, but the next second she gave a sympathetic smile.

"I know it sounds like a lot, but the NecroDancer's Floorbosses give that much apiece, and other contractors can be worth a lot, too! Please be careful though, benefactor. If you drop below zero points, you'll turn undead. At that point you can only lose one hundred points per loss, but the dead are terrible dancers, so try to avoid it if you can! On the bright side, since the dead here are generally desperate enough for a jackpot that they'll accept any challenge, they're essentially free points! If I were you, I'd start with them."

She stood up and crossed her arms, her head tilted while looking upward as if for any lost details. "I think that just about covers it. My name is Tingyun, and if you need anything at all, please come let me know! Who knows, you may even see me out on the dance floor. Good luck winning your soul back!" she added with slightly disingenuous cheeriness.

That dance battles were required was the last thing that Therion wanted to hear, but he was ready for it so it didn't phase him. The point total needed was a different story, and he very nearly choked on his drink when she said it. He set the glass down and coughed, covering his mouth with the back of his hand as Tingyun finished up. Though she mentioned some bosses could award that many points in one go, it also meant losing to them was instant undeath.

"...so no other way to get out of this? Bribes, or..." He didn't want to make a threat or anything, and since she was working for the guy Tingyun was unlikely to actually tell him an alternate path out, but he had to ask on principal.

Tingyun stroked her tail as she contemplated this. "You're hardly the first to ask, dear benefactor. But if you break your contract, the NecroDancer has the right to devour your soul." She raised an eyebrow at Therion, her other squinted doubtfully. "Well... I don't suppose you're under eighteen years of age? Any contracts signed by minors are not legally binding."

"Unfortunately not." No point in lying, he was sure there was some weird way to check his soul's age or something. It was good news for the little turtle and his friend though. After a few moments spent ruminating in silence Therion downed the rest of his drink in one go and fished the payment from his coin purse. As he was about to leave, another question came to mind.

"How do you keep track of the points you have, anyway?"

The foxian lady slid another mug she'd just filled to a miserable-looking zombie down the bar. "Oh, like this!" She snapped her fingers, and a little ghostly wisp manifested above her hand, forming into a series of digits. 8900. After a brief moment Tingyun waved her hand through the number, dispersing it like candle smoke.

An instant approximation of a dancer's skill. It seemed the points system ran on some kind of magic of supernatural phenomenon, so it was unlikely he'd be able to cheat that. Just great. He should really know better by now than to mess around with favors and contracts.

With nothing else coming to mind, Therion made to depart. "Appreciate it," he told the Amicassador, then he was off to find his way back to the central nexus.
Hidden 16 days ago Post by Zoey Boey
Avatar of Zoey Boey

Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

Beacon Pre-checkout

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Pit’s @Yankee, Roxas’ @Double
Word Counter: 3563
EXP Gained: +4

Quite a lot happened in short succession, leaving the team with new, free, friends, and an explanation as to why they were here, and why Peach was not.

”I think we have a few things we need to resolve here first” Midna said once the newly arrived Crenshaw had said his piece, before listing them off ”Like the monstrous doll maker outside, the person in the next room who’s had their limbs cut off, her” she pointed at the still knocked out Painwheel ”Oh, and also I am bleeding from way to many places and I need someone to fix this thing” she finally added as she summoned her Vibrava (which had a massive gash in its back) from the twilight realm, before belated adding ”Please” to her request.

”Heal!” came the voice of Roxas without even missing a beat. His MP had just finished charging and therefore he was able to cast Curaga again in order to treat the wounds that Midna and her Pokemon had sustained, ”And by the way,” he added afterward, ” I’m still confused over here. Am I the only one?”

"Nope, I am too!" Pit said, looking around at the general destruction of the lab and the people going about collecting brains. While he seemed perturbed at the sight, and Midna’s mention of a limbless victim, he was ready for answers. For now Gemma, Luka, Yuito, and Hanabi stood off to the side for a debriefing of their own, so the Seekers had free reign to sort through the aftermath for themselves.

The princess breathed a little sigh of relief and stood straighter after being healed, no longer having to support herself with her spear, and then offered Roxas ”my thanks”. On the ground, her Vibrava fluttered back into wakefulness and then gave the hero a few chirps of its own thanks before it hopped up to ride on its mistress's shoulder.

”I know enough to say we should 100% burn this place to the ground once we’ve evacuated its victims, though not all the specifics” she then replied to his question, before stashing her spear and going to collect the weapons she’d dropped during the fight.

Sakura had her arms crossed, thinking about the Dexio and Sina situation. Still generally avoiding eye contact with Gemma. ”I’m glad you’re feeling better, Midna-san.” Sakura said.

”Maybe we could give her a Friend Heart?” She said, walking over to Painwheel. ”And the person with all their limbs cut off is…dead? Or alive?” She asked reluctantly.

”Alive. I think there’s some beeping machines doing it. Tubes and things go from them and into their body. Or taking something. Or monitoring. I really don’t know, it’s out of my area of expertise” she explained, before considering the fallen form of Painwheel ”As for her, the coward kept shocking her with lightning to make her obey, so she’s presumably no fan of his. I can’t guarantee she won’t go berserk straight away”

She was silent for a moment before adding ”and by that I mean we should be careful and ready for it to go wrong, not that we shouldn’t do it” before she started to recharge her sun on a stick (having re-collected it while they were talking, along with her remaining clever) preparing to use it as a stun rod again if she had too.

Sakura wasn’t looking forward to seeing what happened to that person in the other room. ”Right, right. Well, it’s like they say: First thing’s first. The Friend Heart fixed Dexio-san and Sina-san. It can probably fix her, too. That brainy guy was being pretty cruel.” She said, to which Midna nodded in agreement.

”Glad you’re up for it, Midna-san. Is everyone up for it?” Sakura looked around at the others.

"Yeah, let's do it. Even if it doesn't fix fix her, it's only right to give her a chance." As he spoke, Pit produced the mentioned friend heart. Now that he'd successfully done this to Sina, he was actually eager to do it again. Of course he didn't know how much of her condition, mental or physical, was due to experimentation done here or what the girl would turn out like afterward. Still, better to be crazy and free than crazy and brainwashed. Probably.

When he bestowed the heart upon Painwheel, it took effect immediately, patching up all her wounds and rousing her from her peaceful oblivion. Unlike Dexio and Sina, however, she didn’t change one bit visually. She remained every bit as bony and scrawny, with blackened veins pumping Gae Bolga through sallow skin, and that ratty mask sewn into her face. This, unfortunately, must be her ‘iconic state’. The eyes that peered out from it were red even without Galeem’s influence, and for a couple seconds they blinked in confusion. When she noticed the people around her, she jerked away with a growl like a feral animal, backing off until she was far enough to safely make a break for the elevator. She evidently had no interest in sticking around.

Pit scratched the back of his head, discarding the idea of going after her. "No 'thank you?' "

”Oh- okay! Bye!” Sakura called out. She gave Pit a reassuring pat on the shoulder. ”Well, we did a good thing, I think. She doesn’t seem to be the social type anyway.”

He smiled back up at her. "Heh, I think so too. Okay, so that's one thing down. Oh wait, two things. So now..." One of his hands was held up, his thumb and pointer finger tucked in showing three more items on the agenda. "...doll maker, patient, and, uh."

The next part he said somewhat sheepishly, glancing between the people remaining in the room. "Maybe a recap of what exactly's going on?"

Splinter factions, Supernatural Life, P-Types, personality reprogramming, conspiracies… He’d come with Luka initially to try and help save Peach, and this was all quite a lot for the angel's brain, especially since he was still trying to make sense of Midgar's other goings on.

”Could we narrow that question down to just what is going on here? I think we’ll get a bigger picture once we head to the rebels’ base camp” Midna suggested as she popped the sun on a stick away now that Painwheel had run off (she hoped the others were right, and they hadn’t just unleashed a monster on the world above), pulled out a musket and started reforming her second set of magic arms, preparing to confront a certain doctor if he hadn’t already run for the hills as well.

”For the record, I agree with Midna.” Roxas chimed in, ”This creepy place needs to be bulldozed or something. How could anyone allow the kinds of stuff going on here?” he added with a small shudder. Some of this was bringing back memories of DiZ’s lab in the Twilight Town Mansion. And those were not things he was all that eager to recall.

”Guys?” He said with a whisper low enough for only the Seekers to hear, ”If they’re snatching up Pokemon and fusing them with people to create recruits, then… Well, am I the only one wondering where Bede is right now?”

”Psychic ones were entirely illegal, so your not the only one worrying about that, trust me” Minda whispered back ”After we link up with these rebels, and see what their deal is, and Peach’s situation, I suggest we track down one of the city’s pokemon control squads and get the location of where they are taking the ones they catch. He might be there. That or wherever they imprison people”

”Sounds good, count me in.” Roxas whispered back with a quick thumbs up. Of course, they needed to sort out the business at this Hospital first. And hear what those rebels had to say, too. ”By the way, what do we know about those rebel guys, anyway?” Roxas then asked, having no idea who those people were and was hoping maybe one of the Scarlet Guardians in the room had an answer.

”They have Peach, to try and help her, not hold her hostage or anything and they don’t like what the main branch of PSYCH-OSF’s doing with turning people into Others, doing whatever they did to those two we just freed, and whatever else is going on here. Seems like a good page to be on, and I haven’t heard anything that would sour me to working with them yet, and given that I spied on them for a bit when they took peach, I’m fairly confident in my read on them” Midna explained, while she started to move towards the door leading back into the giant doctor’s doll making room to see if she could spot him or not.

While she did that, and after making sure there were no sudden surprise enemies that needed taking care of, Pit went over to join the Psych-OSF members in order to get caught up to speed on what they knew and were willing to tell him.

After going back though the smaller, more run-down prototype STEM chamber, Midna reached the operating room, its double doors slightly ajar. A tentative peek confirmed that the Doctor wasn’t present, either on the ceiling or otherwise. It would have been counterproductive to flee from the fight beneath the Brainframe only to stop a couple hundred feet away, after all. Instead the chamber lay in ominous silence, a half-finished Patient sprawled out on the table. This one appeared to be a female torso, shrouded in bandages and a drab green button-up, with what looked like a gramophone protruding from the collar. One arm was missing, while the other had a white plastic prosthetic from the elbow down tipped with two coat hanger hooks. One leg looked like plastic armor, while the other featured a metal peg leg tipped with a plunger.

”Uhhh…” Sakura blinked, staring at the patient. She had no idea what she was looking at. This was either truly terrible, or actually not that bad. ”That might just be what she’s supposed to look like? She’s got a…record player for a head.” Sakura said flatly, gesturing at the patient.

After double checking that there weren't any ambushes waiting to be sprung by the absentee villains, and confirming that they really had just run for the hills, Midna stepped into the room proper.

”It’s certainly … different” she semi-agreed with Sakura, though her main concern was with the actual living breathing person who was still in the hospital, rather than whatever fresh monstrosity had been in the process of being made, and so swiftly crossed the room and re-entered the life support filled room she had been in earlier. She was greeted by the sound of monitor beeps, and still heavy breathing.

”Wha-? Oh, wait, that’s not who we’re saving?” Sakura hurried to catch up to Midna.

The dark room lit up with the pink glow of a heart the princess formed with a tap of her chest, before she approached and pulled open the curtains once more. ”Hey, I’m back, and I’ve got a way to fix you and get you out of here. This might be a bit disorientating, but you’re going to be alright” she insisted, before applying the heart and then preparing to pull the various cables and tubes out if that was necessary. Instead, the heart pinged off the Patient and dispersed, the spiritual cost to make it refunded.

”Wha- what?” was all that Midna could muster for a moment, before she found ample breath to shout ”What? How?! Look how hurt they are, why did that not work?!” while throwing her hands up in the air in a mix of confusion, frustration and straight up horror.

Sakura was having a hard time looking at the poor person, peeking through her fingers and hoping it would all be over soon and they’d be happy and healthy. Instead, all she got was a very frustrated Midna.

”Huh? I don’t- I don’t know.” Sakura said, disappointed. Her shoulders sagged. Putting a hand up against her forehead, she tried to think of a solution.

”If Blazermate-san was here…” Sakura said, letting the thought trail off. She stared at the person and her empathy demanded she draw closer, so she obliged.

”You don’t- you don’t think they’re already not Galeem-y do you?” She asked, pointing at their face that was covered in bandages. ”We can’t see their eyes.” She said. The staticky breathing gave her a faint hope it might be just a Halloween prop, but she dismissed that particular wish as naive.

Now that Sakura mentioned it, they couldn’t, Midna realized, but also ”Isn’t it bright enough that it might shine through?” she asked rhetorically, before raising a shadow hand and covering the light, plunging the room into darkness, and confirming there was none.

”That’s…” she wasn’t sure what to make of that, and so felt compelled to make absolutely sure, forming a single dragon claw and slipping it under a bandage, cutting and pulling to try and expose one of the eye sockets to the light, dreading what she would find. The eye she exposed bore no superficial abnormalities, but on closer inspection it didn’t seem quite right, either. It looked glassy, unfocused and dull, without any reflected light, and it didn’t react whatsoever to Midna’s presence or touch. Though the eye blinked, just as the body breathed, she found it impossible to say whether this body possessed any sort of intellect or awareness at all. Like someone in a coma.

”That’s. Weird” she decided after staring into the eye for a few moments, entirely unsure as to what to make of this.

Sakura fully lowered her hands from her face again and stood on her tippy toes. She was clearly unhappy about this entire situation. ”Maybe they’re getting prepped for surgery?” Gingerly she reached over and tried to draw the bandages back over the eye, grimacing the entire time.

”I really don’t know what to do. We need an ambulance or something, Midna-san. Doctors.” She said, fretting, tapping her fingers together. ”We can’t just leave them here if we’re going to bulldoze the place. But it is still a hospital. We can’t exactly move them! They’re all hooked up!” Sakura said.

”And why aren’t they Galeem-y? No way it’s a Seeker, right?” Sakura asked.
Sakura made sure her connection to the SAS was turned back on. Can we call some doctors or healers or something? Someone here is really messed up, looks like they are on life support. She said to her superiors, like Gemma, if they were still nearby.

After a few seconds the soldier replied to her via Brain Talk. ”I suppose we could call for an ambulance. But given what we went through getting down here, bringing paramedics or other civilians here might endanger more lives than we’d save. Plus, the fact that Dexio and Sina came after us means that New Himuka knows we’re here. Once those two don’t report in, who knows what might happen.” His allusion to the Patients and the danger they presented brought to mind the fact that this unfortunate soul appeared to be another Patient in all aspects except pulse.

Ah.Right. Thank you anyway, sir. Sakura said.

Sakura held her elbow behind her back, and was silent for a few moments. ”The breathing sounds weird. The eyes aren’t Galeem-y. Maybe it’s…too late for this person? Were all those things out there people, once, too, Midna-san?” Sakura asked.

As Sakura had been braintalking Midna had been trying to work out exactly what she was looking at. There was something just, off, about the eye. In doing so, she had ended up looking over the machines again, checking there before started, well, carving off more bandages, and in doing so had come across one that seemed to display an outline of the patient, as well might be their insides (Midna had no idea what an x-ray machine was, but that was what she was looking at), upon which she saw an empty cranium, with no brain inside.

”Maybe but. Just. Look at this” Midna replied at last after staring at the image for several seconds trying to process it, wanting a second opinion.

”Mm?” Sakura peered over Midna’s shoulder. ”Oh! It’s an X-ray.” She tapped the strange paper. ”It looks like they don’t have a brain.” Sakura said with a frown.

”...Anymore.” Sakura said with a horrified little wince, thinking about the many, many brains she saw in the other room. ”Ugh.” She shuddered.

”It’s definitely too late. They aren’t a Seeker, it’s just almost like they don’t even count as a person anymore.” Sakura said.

”Oh good, you know what this is” Minda replied, referring to the machine, before commenting ”I guess this more or less proves that a person is the brain then, but why hasn’t it turned to ash? I mean wouldn’t removing the brain kill…” she paused, then started speaking her thought process out loud several things together at once

”That psychic person you were talking to and I took down was just a brain in a machine… they’ve been removing peoples brains… the bodies are still here, just like how the bodies of the machines which had those black boxes didn’t dissolve … Maybe they used the bodies for … something. Maybe it was the dolls … Hang on … Wait … so are the brains Crenshaw is taking alive?!” she’d just sort of glossed over that when he’d said that they’d been stealing brains, but now she really, really wanted to know what was going on. Because she could not fathom ” What in the world would anyone want or need to reduce people to just their brains for?”

Sakura’s skull felt itchy from all the brain talk. The brunette scratched at her head uneasily. ”Well. He said they were donated but I'm not sure if I believe him. The only way you could do that in this world is if you found a whole lot of comatose people on the organ donor list. For this hospital? Seems unlikely.” Sakura shook her head, looking a little green around the gills.

”Ugh, God.” She put a hand up to her forehead that was slick with sweat.

”And the people who did this are still out there” Minda growled, mentally kicking herself being a big part of that, declaring ”I should have killed him when I had the chance” before punching a random machine in frustration.

Then she caught herself, breathed in, breathed out, and decided ”We can at least make sure they can never use this place again” before drawing here obsidian fire ax in preparation to burn it all down.

”We’ll get him next time, Midna-san.” Sakura said succinctly. She raised her eyebrows at the fire axe. ”Alright. Let’s do it.” She broadcasted over all psychic lines.

We’re tearing this place down now! With that she turned and smashed a random machine herself, crushing into the metal, sending buttons flying and glass shards scattering, instantly rendering the machine useless.

”I hope they didn’t buy insurance.”

As the life support machine sparked and died, the patient convulsed slightly, gasping out his last breath. Although the heart monitor no longer functioned, the two didn’t need it to realize that the patient was flatlining. Overhead, the lights flickered, affected by this place’s barely-functional electrical grid.

”O tto.”

As the lights outside flickered back on, a soft creak issued through the room from behind Midna and Sakura. When they looked, they found a inhuman silhouette, backlit, standing stock-still in the open doorway, with two mismatched legs, a missing left arm, and an unnatural brass head. A moment later, the overhead light flickered again, and when the pair glanced at the hospital bed, the dead patient was sitting up.

Shrinking her head into her shoulders, Sakura sheepishly turned to look at Midna, eyes wide.

”Midna-san, I just had a thought. Do you think these things will escape if the building falls down?” Sakura asked, voice quiet.

”I don’t know but let’s solve this first” Minda replied much more quickly, before slapping the rising patient with her ax, igniting it in flames for seven seconds, and then pulling out and smashing it over the head with a bottle of dwarven rotgut she had been holding onto since their climb of the split mountain. The lethally high alcohol content drink splashed over the doll and bedding it was laying on, offering perfect fuel for an actual fire to ignite, instead of just the on a timer fire her ax created.

Sakura winced, not getting a chance to complete her thought out loud. ”Because if we burn it down- okay. It’s probably fine. Let’s go.” They had to go out the way they came in. Sakura tried to use her telekinesis to move the patient in the doorway out of the way, reaching out her hand and concentrating. If she managed to scrape it along the floor she would slip out, gesturing for Midna to follow her, which she did.

”M’kay, m’kay, good good good. Here we go.” Sakura said uneasily. ”We’re leaving! We’re leaving now!” She yelled, her voice echoing through the halls so every non-psychic nearby could hear her. Then it was just a matter of meeting up with the others and getting the heck out.
Hidden 16 days ago Post by Archmage MC
Avatar of Archmage MC

Archmage MC

Member Seen 12 hrs ago


Robot Girls

Level 3 Roland - (18/30)
Level 12 Blazermate (Holding 3 level up) - (41/120)
Level 6 Susie - (0/60) - (Holding 3 level up)
Location: Sector 9
Word Count: Less than 750

As they progressed through the area, the two bot ladies and Roland were not too enthusiastic with what they saw. Blazermate was constantly worried about Red Shift herself, since it was some super aliment she couldn't help anyone with, and from what little she could understand or gather, even the low levels of red shift if exposed long enough would turn people crazy in a depressed way, from what she could tel by looking at the towns people around here. There wasn't really much of interest for Susie herself around here from what she could tell as she went through the area. And finally Roland was just apathetic to the suffering of the area, having seen this and far worse from the backstreets. It sucked sure, but there wasn't all that much he could do about it right now, so there wasn't much point in putting any brain power behind it.

Still, even with her apprehension about the whole red shift stuff, if she came about someone who was injured that wasn't outright hostile, she wasn't against healing them to get them off their feet. Susie and Roland meanwhile decided to go on that lead Blazermate had found, looking for that path that was mentioned that would lead them to the seeming location of the hermits. Although not knowing the area super well, they would have to ask around.

Seeing the two robot ladies as mere robots, some of the more nefarious people in the area attempted to remote hack them. They'd find no success however, as Blazermate's medabot nature combined with her lack of any wireless connection capabilities made her oblivious to the attempts. Susie, asking around with Roland meanwhile, was just too complex of a robot to hack. But unlike Blazermate, she knew someone was trying to do so, commenting. "It seems someone thinks they can take control of me. They had better not show themselves, otherwise they might have a fun meeting with my blaster." This made Roland think. He knew a fully robotic woman back before all of this, and not once did either of them think about 'hacking'. And for a moment, he was reminded of Angela while looking at Susie, but only for a split second.

"There weren't any pure AI robots where I'm from. The Head outlawed pure AI, and because of that no one really hacks it. Do you have to worry about that often?" Roland asked Susie, curious as to how... something like that would work. Susie replied. "Most aren't dumb enough to try. Haltman Works is the most advanced corporation in the galaxy and we have made sure to not allow our own products to be turned against us or our paying customers. So its not really 'worry', just annoyance if anything." Susie said. Roland nodded, before saying. "I heard you mention that name once before. What exactly does your company do?" In truth Roland was only half curious, as he wasn't a fan of the Wings or their singularities form his world, but this was something that was apparently galaxy wide not from his world, so maybe it wouldn't be as cruel as he was used to.

That thought would be quickly quashed as he heard Susie's little sales pitch of her company. Unlike Blazermate though, he paid full attention, and while the 'wishes' part sounded like BS, the whole 'harvest worlds' bit was kind of like something he expected. "So you like, mine worlds or something? That's impressive I guess. Where I'm from, we have corporations that have things called 'singularities' that are basically magic. Like making infinite resources from black holes or packaging time and other weird stuff." Roland said. Little did he know Susie hadn't mentioned the whole 'mechanizing' the world before harvesting it, which would be something almost straight from his world in scope and craziness. Susie herself was intrigued about what Roland had said as well, but she decided it would be better to ask him about that stuff when they were in a more private area. Although she got the idea that he might not know all that much about it anyway besides the basics.
Hidden 16 days ago 16 days ago Post by Double
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Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 8 hrs ago

The Under ~ Kingdom's Edge

Word Count: 555
Level 5 Ganondorf: 36/50
Exp: 1
NEW EXP Balance--- 37/50

As expected, Ganondorf found himself among the last to arrive. But it appeared he didn't miss much of anything. A dark colored ghost conversed with Nadia about how to get into the "NecroDancer's" lair. He claimed it was easy, and all it required was their signatures on a contract. Some Seekers were quick to sign, probably eager to get this over with. Others tried to read the contract only find themselves lost in legalese. Ganondorf was one of the latter. Though written in seemingly understandable words, it still may as well have been another language entirely. But while others may have given up on trying to understand and chose to sign, Ganondorf did not.

"You expect me to sign this thing without even fully comprehending what it says?" He demanded, wadding the contract up in his fist and burning it to ash with his dark magic. Afterward he let the ash slowly slide from his hand into the underground air, "What kind of fool do you take me for?"

He then overheard Kamek insisting on being allowed to read the contract before signing. And while Bowser and Jr. may have been foolish enough to not wait, Ganondorf was not so foolish. Sure, Kamek wasn't doing any of this for him specifically, but that didn't prevent the Gerudo from simply waiting to overhear whatever the wizard had to say about it. Honestly, why did Bowser even bother having an advisor like Kamek around if he was just going ignore the wizard's advice? And say something Kamek eventually did. Mentioning the Seekers' souls in a frantic voice and then teleporting away, presumably to warn them or something.

"Well, well, well." Ganondorf said to himself in a low voice, "Looks like I was right to hesitate." He added with a smug expression. Well, he doubted likely wasn't anything he could do about it from the outside. And if these contracts really did refer to souls as Kamek had frantically indicated, then the others would just have to figure out a way to break the contracts from the inside. In the meantime, Ganondorf decided to find something else he could assist with. And that was when he spotted her.

It was Jesse, floating up above the lightroot for reasons Ganondorf could only guess at. An alternate route perhaps? Or maybe another lead entirely? Either way it was bound to be better than standing around here and waiting for the others to come back. With an arcane gesture, Ganondorf summoned the phantom steed and climbed up onto the saddle. With a click of his heels the horse galloped upward in the direction that Ganondorf had spotted Jesse going.

The wind blew in the Gerudo's face as the horse galloped with its ghostly whinnying. Its hooves somehow made noises as if they were thundering powerfully on the ground. Soon enough, in the distance Ganondorf spotted what he thought might have drawn Jesse's attention: a shrine whose purpose was unknown. Was it at all connected to the Guardian or the Mask Fragments? Or was it something else entirely? There was only one way to find out.
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Hidden 15 days ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

Karin Level 6: 45/60
Location: Quarantine Valley - Sector V
Word Count: short
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance---
Karin Level 6: 46/60

Karin finally met back up with the others when they reached Sector V, having missed Goldlewis’s little adventure into another dimension by a corner turn or two. Fortunately all parties involved made it out right as rain, especially Wind Chimes whose run in with Goldlewis was probably the luckiest moment of her life, right after probably her unluckiest.

Karin was always good with the commoners. As a child she learned to walk among them, and to…control them. Of course she’s well beyond that phase of her life now that she calls one of them her closest friend. Hopefully. While they knew where they needed to be, they had time to kill and time to explore. Find out more about the anti-redshift drugs, the Hermits, the Reunion. And learn a little more about Sector V. It was quaint. A nice little neighborhood. Still, it was obvious they were being failed by their government.

Splitting off from the others, Karin turned on the charm once more and approached what looked like a shop in a central area. No guards or anything, not from what she could see. Either the entire Sector was safe, or this place in particular was well-respected.

”Well, hello there, sir.” Karin said. ”I see you’ve got some wares for sell. Whenever I enter a new place I always find it best to sample the local products, yes? Really get immersed! Mind if I have a look?” She said, perusing.

She ended up purchasing a Verdant Tea. ”And by local product, clearly I must mean the local tea. I believe you can judge a lot about a place by the quality of it’s tea!” She exclaimed, holding the green bottle and observing it with both hands. Karin was still doing decent on liquid currency, of course. Though she had much less than she preferred without her staff around. She uncorked it and took a sip.

”Oh, my. How smooth. Earthy, even. This must be how cows think grass tastes. I mean that as a compliment. It’s quite delicious!” Satisfied with her purchase even without the additional benefits the tea would provide, she pocketed it for now.

”Though, you know, I’ve only been here a short while and even I can’t help but notice who ‘runs’ this place, as it were. The…Hermits, is it? A bit of an odd name. Having there be Hermits, plural, is a bit of an oxymoron, don’t you think? I suppose it doesn’t matter, as long as they treat the people well.” She mused.

”Do they? Treat you all quite well?” She asked.
Hidden 15 days ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 3 days ago

Wordage: Less than 750 (+1 points)
Experience: 15/30 EXP
Location: (The Under) Forsaken Land ➡ Crypt of the Necrodancer

Legal documentation wasn't exactly a knight’s strong suit, but without much recourse or choice Artorias hastily scribbled his signature, though a surprise it may be to some his penmanship wasn't as bad as expected mediocre at best for a man whose sword was mightier than the pen itself.

Though the knight had as much of a hunch that this was a ruse of some kind, he was more inclined to be done with the ridiculous frivolity of such things as signing papers. He wasn't a barrister he was a knight and soldier, he was educated like other young men who weren't of noble birth.

Artorias’s chest heaved as he breathed a tired and heavy sigh, not even the slightest bit surprised the Snatcher had tricked them "Fools indeed." the knight held back the urge to strike at the shade, observing that he was likely intangible.

Odd though he would even say that he was only able to be damaged when blue of all things, usually one would be intelligent enough to keep a weakness such as that to himself but Artorias shook his head shifting the weight of both Finstertöter and his other newly acquired blade on his shoulder.

The further they seemed to go the more ridiculous it appeared their surroundings became at first it was a tower made of 'pizza' then a hive of intelligent insects and now a dungeon that seemed to be about dancing as the name 'Crypt of the Necrodancer' lived up to "Verily are there naught a single normal place in this world without such obscenity!?" the towering knight grumbled not so quietly to himself.

But there wasn't much in the way to avoid delving into this so called Crypt, thus Artorias begrudgingly followed the rest of his fellow Seekers not hiding well his grumpiness.
Hidden 15 days ago Post by Scarifar
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Scarifar Presto~!

Member Seen 1 day ago

Location: The Under - Kingdom's Edge
Level: 3
Experience: 95/30 (Level up available)
Word Count: <750 (+1 EXP)

Rubick had no trouble traveling upwards. After all, he mostly just teleported upwards, and any foes that came too close were blasted away. However, Rubick decided to take his time, mostly due to mana recharge issues, but also because he wanted to listen in on the other Seekers' conversations. When they reached their destination, everyone was greeted by a large purple ghost who made an offer with a contract. Curious, Rubick took a look at it for himself, reading through it very quickly. His eyes then froze when he came across the line mentioning the surrender of his soul. "Hmm.... no, I don't believe I will," Rubick declined signing the contract. He had enough experience with magical mishaps to know that losing one's soul was nothing to take lightly. Different world rules or not, Rubick wasn't going to take that chance. The others also took notice of that particular clause and spread the news, some of whom ignored and signed anyway. Rubick was curious how the soul snatching worked, and observed the wispy motes emerging from the ones who signed the contract. It wasn't the first time he saw someone's soul being taken away; demons loved to make bargains for souls, or just kill anyone dumb enough to summon them in the first place. Even so, this version was new to him.

He continued observing for a time before getting bored and looked around for something new. His eyes soon landed on Jesse making her way up through some lightroot. Ganondorf was following her as well. In other words, there was something to be interested in, and Rubick refused to be left behind. Rubick skipped over and Power Stole Jesse and Ganondorf's abilities, then summoned his own green Phantom Steed and followed them up to see a shrine. "Oh, that looks important," Rubick remarked out loud. Turning excitedly towards them, he continued, "We should go investigate it!"
Hidden 15 days ago 15 days ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

Member Seen 7 hrs ago

Midgar - Zone 09

Level 5 Goldlewis (115/50) Level 4 Sandalphon (27/40)
Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man
Word Count: 618 / 3038

Though more expansive and developed than Sandalphon first expected, the rooftops of Sector V weren’t large enough that the archangel had a hard time finding the young girl’s lost dog. She discovered him in a pile of dirt and refuse that had gathered in a corner on one of the lower slopes, a little close to some coils of barbed wire for comfort but in no immediate danger. He was an agreeable-looking fellow, medium-large, with short caramel-colored fur and dark patches around his muzzle and rose ears, which bounced around in a delightful manner as he sniffed around in the pile. For a brief moment, Sandalphon’s pupils turned from power symbols into bright green hearts. Capturing him, however, proved to be far more of a challenge.

True to his owner’s warning, Buggy was a playful pup with an extraordinary amount of energy. When Sandalphon approached, he looked her way and immediately started to wag his tail. Taking another step in his direction elicited a play-bow, and one step more set him off. He ran a short way in a burst of speed, then craned his head around to stare at the tall woman expectantly. He clearly wanted to be chased, and with no better options springing to mind, Sandalphon obliged him.

She started to run. Buggy did too, and he wasted very little time in showing his pursuer just how ungovernable he was. Though Sandalphon possessed much longer legs and therefore a much longer stride than the average woman, she was not an athlete, nor even someone who regularly exercised. Her outfit wasn’t exactly suited to strenuous physical activity either, especially the heels. The lost dog, meanwhile, ran like the wind. She chased him up and down the roof for several minutes, trying to corner him, but even when Buggy dashed within arm’s reach he slipped out of her grasp like sand between her fingers. It quickly became clear that the question wasn’t whether or not the archangel could catch him, but whether she could keep him going long enough to tire him out.

That’s not happening.

After a somewhat pitiful amount of time spent running around, Sandalphon was forced to concede. She fell to her knees, more than a little lightheaded, and her pupils turned into x’s. Her chest heaved as she tried to catch her breath through a throat that felt painfully raw. Leader of the Apostles. Foremost among angels. Vanquisher of demons, she thought ruefully as she stared up at the bottom of the Sector 01 plate. Defeated by a dog.

As the seconds dragged on, however, she realized she wasn’t the only one hyperventilating. Sandalphon turned her gaze downward and found Buggy standing there in front of her, panting as he stared at her. Wondering why his playmate had stopped, he’d come over to check on her. Slowly the archangel closed her breath, her unwavering pupils fixed on the friendly canine as they became crosshairs. Then she lunged, locking her arms around his body. He struggled, but try as he might, Sandalphon would not let him go.

“You caught him!” the little girl yelled in delight as she came running up. “Yaaaaay, thank you!” She wrapped her arms around Buggy’s neck in a hug and he started licking her face, so Sandalphon let him go. After a moment the girl looked up at her. “Wow, you’re super pale. I thought you were gonna die or something. Are you okay, miss angel?”

As she stood up slowly, Sandalphon tried not to let her legs shake. “I…am well…my child. Please consider…getting your pet…a collar.”

The child gave a sagacious nod. “Okay. Do you want some water, miss angel?”

“...Yes, please.”

Wind Chimes ended up taking a quite a few minutes longer than Goldlewis would have thought, almost enough to make him start doubting the faith he placed in her. Her somewhat prolonged absence provided enough time for the Seekers she left behind to get a start on their assignment from Hal and tease out whatever information -or material goods- they could get from the locals.

While the situation here in Sector V might remind Geralt of certain slums from his past, this cyberpunk shantytown was pretty different in practice, so he didn’t make much headway. Zenkichi managed to cozy up to one citizen through a casual game of cards, learning a bit in the process. The nature of Hermitonic and the Hermits’ willingness to accept strong recruits might not be pivotal information, but any little detail helped in case it happened to prove critical later on.

Apparently someone attempted to hack into Susie’s systems, but her security measures stopped that outright, allowing her to nonchalantly bandy words with Roland about corporations in their world while Blazermate floated around. Since the directions she received from the injured lookout only led her as far as Sector V’s side entrance, she didn’t know where in the rust-coated colony the Hermits might actually be. The three started asking everyone they ran across where the Hermits were, straight up, but their questioning met with mostly cold and cagey responses. Either the people here didn’t know, didn’t want to say, or both. Maybe they were afraid of the attention the three might get carrying on like this. It quickly became clear that without putting in more effort, the three wouldn’t achieve much. By the time Susie might think to try and trace her would-be hacker’s signal, it had long since disappeared.

Karin found her way to a certain old man with a long beard, cowboy hat, and vest over faded green flannel. She quickly found out that he was a lot more genial than the average person around here. “What can I do for ya, friend?” When she asked to peruse his wares, he happily showed her his collection of otherworldly imbibables, from brews that could be mistaken for normal like Dark Cider and Mudtooth’s Tonic, to bizarre substances like Xenoplasm and Dark Fluid in alien, technological bottles. “Lucky for you I got plenty. Good ones, too!” Karin quickly made her selection, but before the old man could launch into a story about where she got it, his customer quickly steered him in a different direction.

“The Hermits, huh? Well missy, you came to the right place, ‘cause my name’s Mudtooth, and ain’t nobody been around longer or seen more than I have. Only three reasons why folks come to see me, and that’s my stories or my stew. And boy, I could tell you ‘bout them Hermits ‘til your ears fall off. They’re good folks for the most part, I reckon. Most of ‘em are Quarantine Valley born and bred, with roots round here what run deep. We’re all one big family down here, and you can bet your britches they take good care of it. They’re whatcha call tech-no-logic-ly gifted. Anyone who can fiddle with them beepers good enough or fight worth a damn ends up joinin’ in sooner or later, and they’re the ones who go out into the rest of the city to try and make things right for folks here. Gettin’ ‘em what they need, or takin’ down sumbitches who got it comin’ to ‘em. They’re our community’s guardian angels, I tell ya. Ain’t nobody else watchin’ out for us down here, that’s for doggone sure. Just the other day in fact, we got a strange kind o’ prep…particip…pre-cipi-ti-tation, y’hear? The ‘Other’ kind. A whole bunch of ‘em rained down just a couple blocks north o’ Sector V itself, and the Hermits, hoo boy, they weren’t happy. Turned out in force and whooped those monsters’ keisters but good! But lemme tell ya, that ain’t got nothin’ on the time…”

If permitted to do so, it seemed like Mudtooth would ramble on indefinitely.

While the others went about their business, Goldlewis waited for Wind Chimes in the covered market area. He selected a seat in the dining area that put his back to the wall behind him, and sat watching the citizens of Sector V go about their everyday lives. From here, he could smell the congee, and it was by no means appetizing. Even if he didn’t have a bite to eat a couple hours ago at Seventh Heaven, he might have passed it up. Yet the people here seemed to think of the porridge as manna from heaven, and the congee seller’s cauldron, a pot of gold. It occurred to Goldlewis that this might be the only ‘restaurant’ in the whole colony, where people could go to enjoy a hot meal with friends and family. As the townsfolk passed by, many threw suspicious, even resentful glances the veteran’s way. He couldn’t fault them for it; if he were in their shoes, he might’ve done the same. Goldlewis Dickinson might very well be the first overweight person they’d seen in their whole lives, and dressed in a suit to boot, however rustic his fashion sense might be. Being here reminded him just how lucky he really was.

A little later, Wind Chimes finally jogged into view. She spotted Goldlewis immediately and headed over. Judging by the fresh sweat on her brow, she’d been running the whole time. “Whew, hey. Sorry that took so long.” Putting one hand on her hip, she pointed her thumb at the far end of the market, where it narrowed back down into a footpath between ramshackle buildings. “Good to go?”

“Once we wrangle up the gang, I reckon,” Goldlewis grabbed his coffin and stood, hoisting it over his shoulder. A quick circuit of Sector V would be enough to gather the rest of the Seekers so they could proceed to the Hermits’ hideout. As he and Wind Chimes walked, Goldlewis raised an eyebrow at her. “Folks ‘round here send a lot of letters, miss?”

She shook her head. “Not exactly. The Uppers here don’t have a lot of loved ones topside or anything. Those envelopes were actually full of money–this week’s income for the movers and shakers of Zone 09.”

“Money?” Goldlewis echoed, his tone implying that he wanted to know more.

Wind Chimes adjusted her shoulder bag as she nodded. “Mhm. This might come as a shock to you, but Quarantine Valley isn’t quite as sealed as you might think. There’s ways to get in and out, if you’re in the know. And as it turns out, a place outside the law can be pretty valuable. Sector V is home to tons of tiny, illegal businesses. Workin’ without licenses, taxes, safety and hygiene regulations means folks can make stuff dirt cheap. Noodles, crops, clothes, hardware, counterfeits. Once they’re made, couriers like me put ‘em in our Attache Cases and take ‘em topside, where all kinds of shops and restaurants buy ‘em up and resell ‘em at a huge markup. Then we bring the money back down. It’s fucked, but it’s what we got.”

Perturbed, Goldlewis ran a hand through his hair. “That’s for doggone sure. Go-lly. I sure wish I could help.” Spotting Roland and Susie, he waved them over. “What about red matter contamination? Ain’t that a factor?”

“I guess. But you’d be surprised how much cheap labor sweetens the deal,” Wind Chimes replied with a shrug. Despite her casual, almost resigned tone, Goldlewis couldn’t help but think she sounded terribly ominous.

Once everyone reunited, Wind Chimes led them to the old train bridge out back. They came to a stop behind one of the converted train cars, where they could see the sentries standing out in front of the barricade at the bridge’s far end. Goldlewis crossed his arms. “I guess we’re makin’ an entrance?”

“You’d think so, right?” Wind Chimes smiled slyly, her hands on her hips. “The Hermit symbols are a dead giveaway, practically screamin’ ‘here we are!’ And there’s only a couple guards, so few that anyone lookin’ to break in would probably think they can just force their way right in.” She shook her head. “But that barricade’s a trap. Once you’re in, it slams shut behind you, and you’re toast. Follow me.”

She took the group over to the gap in the barrier on the far side of the bridge, then descended from the overlook via ladder. At the bottom, a shaky metal platform anchored to the bridge’s support strut extended out over the open space, with only flimsy metal railings between the Seekers and a deadly fall. A catwalk bridge extended out to an abandoned lower rooftop, but Wind Chimes directed the team’s attention backward. Behind the ladder lay a barrier of flat metal bars, but between it and the side of the bridge there was a slight gap that everyone could slip through, though Goldlewis needed to suck in his gut a little. The hidden path opened up into a small, squared recess in which an unmarked door was set.

“The trains used to run up top, but inside the bridge itself is a special maintenance passageway,” Wind Chimes explained. “This is where approved visitors like me come in.” She grabbed the handle and tried to turn it, only to find that try as she might, she couldn’t budge it. “Huh?” Frustrated, she put her shoulder to the door and banged against it, but the noise it made sounded so solid that Goldlewis wondered if it was barricaded. When Wind Chimes upped the force, the doorknob came off in her hands. “Damn it, what the hell?”

Hal’s drone projected a holograph of himself, a young man with a mop of blond hair and a technological blindfold, dressed in an equally futuristic outfit. He had one arm crossed, the other stroking his chin in contemplation. “Maybe they don’t want visitors today,” he murmured. Something to do with Reunion, maybe Goldlewis mused.

“Well, I don’t go back on my word.”

Wind Chimes braced herself, then raised her leg to kick the door down. Just as Goldlewis advised against it, she delivered such a mighty kick that the immediate area shook slightly, leaving his mouth ajar. Stronger than she looks, he noted. “Here, lemme help.” He and Geralt both joined in, the Witcher also kicking and Goldlewis using his coffin as a battering ram. With the three of them together, they managed to bash the door open with a tremendous racket, at which point they realized that it had been barricaded with a handful of metal beams. No alarms went off, and no guards came running. “...Not bad.” Putting a hand to his head, he called Sandalphon on his magic glyph. “We found a way into the Hermits’ base. Proceeding inside.”

The archangel replied immediately. “Roger. I won’t be able to support you from out here, but I can warp in if you need me. Proceed carefully.”

With their guide in the lead, the Seekers proceeded down the tunnel. Another thick door stood at the far end, explaining the noise insulation, but this one could be opened. On the other side lay the bottom floor of what seemed to be the Hermits’ base, a large, square loading dock converted into something akin to a training room. A stack of metal crates blocked the veteran’s immediate view, but right away Goldlewis heard the sounds of fighting. He and the others crept to the edge of the stack and peered into the open area. Its floor was plastered with white paint to form a giant Hermit symbol, but that wasn’t what took Hal’s breath away. “Look!” he gasped through his drone. “That guy’s fighting a chimera…w-wait, that means–they can see them!?”

Goldlewis could see the ‘guy’ he mentioned, dressed in a demolitionist in a thick, full-body suit with a horn like a rhinoceros beetle, adorned with the holographic eye of the Hermits. She wielded a hammer, and though she certainly seemed to be fighting, Goldlewis couldn’t see her opponent. He could only trust Hal’s red matter detection systems, though Wind Chimes quickly confirmed it. “Yep, same as me. Given how she’s fighting though, maybe even stronger.”

Movement in the hall at the makeshift arena’s other side drew Hal’s attention. “Look, here comes someone!” Sure enough, Goldlewis could see four people approaching: an angry-looking gray-haired man in a ragged coat and lots of belts, a menacing man with paired hook-swords, and a demihuman in a dark biohazard suit, all masked and following a large man in a big, dark coat and baggy pants. Their leader wore a black helmet with a number of cables sprouting out of it like the hair of a wildman, a futuristic nodachi slung across his back, and a holographic face with x-shaped eyes and a toothy grin. “Well? How’s our latest sample looking?” he asked as the fight continued. His voice was low and smooth.

“It changes a little person to person, but generally one dose is enough to get them fighting fit,” the scowling man replied.

“Great. Now our missing associate’s our only problem.” The frontrunner crossed his arms as he observed the battle. “Any new info on that?”

“We’ve got everyone on the lookout for intel, and still we’ve come up with nothing,” the demihuman replied in a somewhat smarmy-sounding female voice.

Her boss snorted. “Hmph. Ten zenny says he went through a gate then.” The fighting Hermit jumped and performed a spinning sweep, which seemed to create a burst of chaotic red-green-blue energy on impact with his invisible target. An inhuman groan echoed through the room, and the fighter eased up. Victory was his.

“Whoa,” Hal breathed, still watching from the team’s hiding place.

“Hm, too easy. We won’t get any results with a weak-ass chimera like that.” The boss sauntered into the arena. “Still, though. This batch is legit, no doubt about that.” He inhaled deeply, his voice gaining an edge of gleeful eagerness. “The days of cowering in fear are over! Soon…we can strike back! I’d like to see those Administration bastards do THIS!” He whirled around, looking at his men. “Whaddya think boys? Feel like savin’ the world!?” He then turned toward the hiding Seekers, turning his holographic face in their direction. “Cmon, make sure our audience over there hears it!”

Hal’s drone flinched. “What?”

“C’mon, what’re ya waiting for? Come over here and let me give you a proper welcome!” The boss beckoned them over.

“You don’t suppose he’s talking to someone else, do you?” Hal ventured nervously. “Hey, let’s get outta here before-”

Taking a deep breath, Goldlewis stepped out from behind cover. Wind Chimes stayed behind, not wanting to be exposed. As the Seekers approached, the Hermit crossed his arms. Behind him, his men stood in silence, their brows furrowed and their teeth gritted. Their boss only grinned however, holographic decor flickering all over his outfit. “Hi. I’m Kyle. I’m the leader of this little charitable organization.” As he spoke, his ‘mouth’ opened and closed. “There we go. Now, rats crawling around in tunnels, that I’ve heard of. But the Special Operations Unit? That’s a new one.”

Goldlewis’ frown deepened. “You recognize us?”

Kyle nodded slowly, clearly relishing the chance to ham this up. “Of course There’s no Administration in Sector V. No state. No real economy. The most valuable thing we’ve got is information. And you’re looking at a very rich man. Quarantine or no quarantine, if it can be known, we Hermits know it. It just so happens we’ve been watching you–ever since you first set foot in Detroit on Saturday afternoon.”

“Then I reckon you oughta know why we’re here,” Goldlewis said flatly. “You gonna talk, partner?”

“Now, now. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Kyle admonished him, his smile turning into a more neutral expression and his x-eyes narrowing. “I’m more than happy to talk. But what will my Hermits think if I give away their hard-earned intel for free?”

Hal gave a wry laugh. “If it’s a bribe you want, forget it. We’re broke.”

Grinning again, Kyle turned away. “It doesn’t take an extensive intelligence network to figure that out, eheh. But I have a different proposal. My men tell me you’re strong. Inhumanly strong.” He took a few steps to stand alongside the other Hermits. “I’d love to see just how strong you are up close and personal, if you catch my drift.” After looking up at the massive Hermit banner hanging from the wall, he turned around. “And I’m afraid that’s my final offer.” The other Hermits began to spread out. The scowling man drew his custom kukri dagger, the Peacemaker, ready to take shadow form and unleash follow-up dark attacks by activating Trailblade. One fully-suited woman hefted her hammer, soon to become a nigh-unstoppable juggernaut, and the other prepared to launch canisters (and mines) of foul-smelling, poisonous, and very flammable chemical gas. The other man drew his hook-swords, poised to confound his foes with superhuman speed. Goldlewis set down his coffin and loosened his tie.

“Should’ve expected an ambush,” Hal fretted. “K-Kyle? When this is over, we get our info, correct?”

The boss of the Hermits crossed his arms. “See, I knew you could be reasoned with. You’ve got my word, I’ll tell you anything you want. Buuut there’s one little thing you should keep in mind. You’re on our turf now. The only law here is what I say. And I say kill, kill, kill!”

So saying, he drew his nodachi and leaped into the air. He hurled it downward, burying it several feet deep into the arena, then flipped midair and landed on the hilt. Goldlewis backdashed just in time; when Kyle landed he triggered burst of sustained lightning, arcing across the area as he crouched there, grinning. The other Hermits yelled; the battle was on.

Deep-Paris - Supernatural Life Research Facility

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Pit’s @Yankee, Roxas’ @Double, Luka

While nobody doubted that the stygian depths of Beacon Mental Hospital harbored yet more hidden secrets and horrors, neither the Seekers nor their friends from Psych-OSF wanted to linger for very long. The revelations brought to light in the eerie glow of the Brainframe were not the kind that could be easily swept under the rug and dismissed, out of sight and out of mind. They demanded action, and everyone had something to do. Once Luka whisked them all away, Gemma would personally see that Dexio and Sina found a safe place to rest and recuperate, not just from their harrowing ordeal down here but also the physical and mental reset that ensued once friend hearted, as well as their irrepressible memories of Galeem’s apocalypse. Thanks to Crenshaw’s cooperation, however, everyone else would be delving even further into the unknown. Pit, Roxas, Sakura, Midna, and Luka were determined to find Peach, and find out what they could do to help her.

By the time everyone reconvened, ready to travel, Crenshaw and his compatriots had amassed a small stockpile of brains taken out of the Brainframe. They had been individually packed into cuboid black boxes with red lights on top, one apiece, and then stacked in the area where Crenshaw would be using his Transport power. “Are you ready?” He asked the others.

“Ready as we’ll ever be,” Luka ventured to say. His tone was muted and low, and he did not disguise his stress with his expression. Giving an equally serious nod, Crenshaw activated his power. A rectangular field of orange energy began to take shape around the group, and with a bright flash, the Stem Chamber was silent once more.

Click for music

When the light faded, the Seekers found themselves in a new room, larger and much more brightly lit, with metal floors but stone walls of an almost classical style, the sort one might expect of an old governmental building or museum. Conveyor belts connected a number of large, sophisticated processing machines. If anything, this place looked like a factory, or perhaps -judging by the large cylindrical tanks partially filled with dark, pinkish red fluid- a distillery. Immediately after arriving, Crenshaw’s associates began cooperating to load the boxes onto the nearby belts.

Yuito watched them work, his brows knitted together. “What are they doing with them?”

“You’ll understand soon enough,” Crenshaw told him. “This way, please. Your friend isn’t far.” He gestured to everyone to follow him in the direction of a set of doors between the two tanks.

Hanabi started after him tentatively, unable to take her eyes off the machines. There was a strange smell in the air, foul enough to make everyone somewhat nauseous. “I..I thought this was a research facility?”

Rather than proceeding through the doors, Crenshaw first stopped at a terminal attached to the base of one of the tanks. “It is. Here, a few dedicated scientists from Spring Pharmaceuticals are supporting the effort to research and cure Others.”

“Spring, as in Arashi and Fubuki Spring?” Luka asked for confirmation.

“Yes, their family company. This is where they make the medicine used to treat the victims of metamorphosis.” Carefully taking an empty ampoule from a carton, Crenshaw attached it to a port on the terminal and flicked a switch. Once enough liquid poured down from the tank to fill up the ampoule, the machine switched off automatically, and Crenshaw decoupled the ampoule from it. “Here. If you’re going to visit her, you’ll need this.” Luka accepted it gingerly, and stared through the glass at the murky substance within. His countenance seemed subtly horrified.

The others pushed through the doors quickly, eager to be away from the noise and noxious, unwholesome odor, though Yuito’s gaze lingered on the machines a moment longer. This new area, however, took their breath away in another manner. It looked like a typical hallway that one might find in a mansion, with wooden doors on either side and wooden wall panels beneath yellowed wallpaper with paintings, as well as marble tile and a red carpet atop it that extended the corridor’s length. Except that this hallway was ten times normal size, with doors that were thirty-five feet all at least, complete with unreachable doorknobs high above any human’s heads. Hanabi couldn’t even see the paintings when she craned her neck up. Set into the wooden doors were metal ones of a normal size, looking like cat flaps. Once the doors to the processing plant shut, the whole place was deathly quiet except for the newcomers’ muted steps on the carpet.

Before Crenshaw could provide any connection, the psychics on the team heard something. A slight murmur on a meager wavelength, barely indistinguishable from the subtle but still-unsettling psychic noise that permeated this place.

”Who’s there?”

Out of Yuito, Hanabi, and Luka, only Luka would recognize it. Sakura would recognize it better though. Even with that strange distortion.


“That’s voice…” Luka whispered. “It’s her!”

He took off running. Yuito and Hanabi went after him. They sprinted all the way down the hall to the immense door at the very end. ”Peach! We’re here to help you!” he called out through Brain Talk.

The voice he heard back was stronger. She was close. ”W-wait, you shouldn’t…!”

Once the team reached the door, they couldn’t unseal it fast enough. As it finally unlocked and slid open, everyone rushed inside. Beyond the giant door they found an equally absurd, equally giant bedroom, every bit as fancy as the hallway itself, from the windows (which seemed to be light panels) to the bed. And in its center, slumped on the floor like a tired dog, lay a huge Other, with hanging heads, green pinecone flowers, and spiked ribbons that writhed restlessly in the air.

”You…you guys…I…”

The Under - Kingdom’s Edge

Level 12 Nadia (68/120)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 1708

For a tense few minutes, the unmistakable feeling of bone-deep dread had settled over Nadia Fortune. The loss of her soul, something vague and intangible but nonetheless quintessentially important, weighed upon her, and the hollow sensation that ensued left her unnerved. Add to that the sheer sensory overload of the dark yet vibrant Crypt, filled with shambling undead dancers and unfamiliar music so powerfully strident that the catgirl could feel it thrumming in her bones, and it was like something out of a nightmare. Even Kosm’s beach, in all its eldritch horror, didn’t leave her feeling so overwhelmed. At least that was something she could fight. Here, she scarcely knew where to begin.

Chowing down on some pizza in the relative tranquility of the Crypt’s central nexus really helped, though. When offered some by her fellow thief, the feral accepted it gratefully. “For me? You shouldn’t have~!” That lava eel she snacked on down in the Hive had been nice, but it really only whetted Nadia’s appetite, reminding her just how hungry she really was. By now it had to be well past lunchtime, about two in the afternoon if she had to guess, and when one exerted as much as Nadia did one tended to work up an appetite. Once she savored some cheese and pepperoni, she felt much better. “Ahh. I’m not a golfer, but I know a good slice when I see it!” At one point, she visited that strange jukebox, Leitmotif. It didn’t seem to feature any means with which she could select songs, but when Nadia turned it on, a little eye opened up and scanned her, much to her surprise. After a moment, the words ‘Now Playing: The Fish Man’s Dance’ appeared on the screen, and an energetic tune began to play, filling the nexus with its mostly-jaunty, sometimes-eerie strings..

Huh. At first Nadia wasn’t sure she liked it, but the more she listened, the more she felt that it somehow suited her.

The Koopa Troop also helped turn things around. Kamek, who she thought had been left outside, somehow managed to show up without having to sign away his soul, and that wasn’t the only ace the family had up its sleeve. As it turned out, both Bowser and Junior could dance as well, and if the young prince’s mortification was anything to go by his dad’s assertions might not be bravado for once. Sectonia pointed out something poignant as well: that the NecroDancer, as the Crypt’s undisputed boss, might possess another all-important mask shard. That one possibility turned this whole affair from a potentially deadly detour into a roundabout opportunity.

Bowser and Kamek went off to find out more about the current situation, namely by accosting the first normal-looking person they saw. They returned a few moments later with some important, if not exhaustive, information. It looked like the Seekers would be dancing it out in a bid to reclaim their souls. “So, he’s more or less holdin’ our souls hostage to make sure we do what he wants. But if, I mean when, we win ‘em back, they’ll be nothin’ stoppin’ us from makin’ him the Necro-deader!” She winced. “Oof, heheh, uh, gimme a second, I can do WAY better than that, I swear…”

Before she could, Therion departed to track the person that the Koopas mentioned. Primrose got a move on as well, but she had a different destination in mind. Everyone had been idly watching the instructors and their pupils here while partaking in pizza, but the team’s resident dancer didn’t intend to remain a spectator forever. Despite Bowser and Junior volunteering, it went without saying that Primrose would be the Seekers’ best bet when it came to outdancing the competition. But would she be enough? It occurred to Nadia that only those who won their souls back could chance actually fighting the NecroDancer, and the feral didn’t imagine that a mask shard would be given to someone who couldn’t actually fight. Nadia quickly looked around. Since Ganondorf, Jesse, and Rubick, refused to sign and evidently didn’t find a loophole like Kamek, the team was down a few members. That left Primrose, Therion, Bowser, Junior, Kamek, Rika, Sectonia, Artorias, and herself. That should be plenty in theory, but only if everyone qualified to take on the NecroDancer.

Therion returned after a bit with the specifics of the Crypt’s challenge, relaying Tingyun’s explanation of how everything worked. He also revealed a loophole that exonerated at least one person present. Nadia grinned at Junior. “Sweet, that means you’re off the hook! And you…” She glanced at Rika, furrowing her brows. “I’m…not sure, honestly. Definitely not me, though. I’m twenty, unless fusion changes how old I am.” She scratched her head. “Huh, that’s kinda weird, come to think of it. If that’s how it works, does that mean you could live forever by fusin’ with younger spirits?”

When Primrose extended an invitation, Nadia looked her way for a moment, thinking. From the moment the two first crossed paths in Twilight Town, the catgirl had harbored a slight, gnawing envy. Primrose seemed more sophisticated, composed, capable, and mature than herself by a long shot, with talents and hidden depths that went beyond just hitting things. She also had Therion, a good friend (maybe more than that?) following in her footsteps, a quiet but loyal companion who just so happened to be a better thief. Nadia didn’t even have Ace yet–hopefully he was doing okay, wherever he was now. She and Primrose got split up back at the Crossroads and didn’t reconvene until the Home of Tears, where again they worked separately, Primrose fusing with an intoxicating songstress and herself fusing with a scruffy alley cat that had a TV for a head. But then they met at the Terminal, where the two women got the chance to share a quiet heart-to-heart. Nadia knew that she didn’t need to be jealous of Primrose, not when they could just be friends. Besides, the catgirl knew she had her own charms, and if she felt unsatisfied, she could work to improve herself rather than envying others. And this was just such an opportunity.

“I’ll take that dance!” she replied, springing to her feet with a smile. Leaving the Troop to keep Sectonia company, Nadia joined Primrose in crossing through the nexus from the stairs that the Seekers colonized to where the instructors were. A lot might be resting on the senior dancer’s stronger-than-usual shoulders, but Nadia didn’t intend to let her shoulder that responsibility alone. Not when she just so happened to wield a secret weapon. “I’m not bashful or anythin’,” she began. “But I was wonderin’ if I could take you up on those lessons. Don’t get me wrong, whatever that is looks super cool…”

She fell silent for a moment as she looked over at Areshi and his brothers as they gave a quick demonstration of breakdancing. Their moves were downright awesome, full of zany, daredevil energy that made it nigh-impossible to look away as they stood on their heads, whirled their legs, and spun around in a series of unpredictable, high-momentum power moves. If anything it looked almost like an unorthodox fighting style, and Nadia could easily picture herself delivering flurries of kicks in such a bombastic manner.

After a moment though, she tore her attention away from the breakdancers and put it on Primrose. “Heh, sorry for the ‘paws’. Honestly, I really do wanna try it, but right now I’m bettin’ on you. See, back in Limsa Lominscuttle Town I ended up killin’ a couple hours with this purple-haired gal named Shantae. I was a little nervous at first, but after she showed me the ropes, dancin’ turned out to be real fun. Maybe I even got a knack for it. The way you two dance is purr-etty similar, so if you’re down to help me out, you’re probably my best bet.” Grinning, she gave her friend a wink. “Besides, two gorgeous gals like us workin’ together? Once we’re on the dance floor, we’ll knock ‘em dead.”

As the two crossed the nexus to get themselves ready for dance battle, one of the instructors passed by them going the opposite direction. It was the ribbon dancer, and he approached the spot where the other Seekers rested and gave them a formal bow. With his slender frame, makeup, flowing pink robe, and long purple hair done up in a ponytail, one could be forgiven for mistaking him for a girl even after he greeted them in a soft, cordial voice. “Good afternoon. Pardon my intrusion, but I couldn’t help but overhear the words ‘ribbon dancer’ earlier, and I must confess that my interest was piqued. It is a rather rare style, after all. Unless I’m mistaken, you’re new here, so as a seasoned veteran I’d be happy to give a few pointers, if you’re so inclined. My own style has a few eccentricities you might just find useful. For instance…” With an elegant flourish, he formed one of his own ribbons into a drill, then launched it upward. It spun with supernatural speed and power, seemingly strong enough to pierce stone, before unfurling and returning to him. “This kind of Spiral, if used correctly, can do more chip damage to an opponent’s guard than it would if it actually hit. Not that we can fight here, but who knows~” He looked around to gauge the Seekers’ interest. Though Junior was the ribbon dancer, Sectonia -who lacked legs but could definitely manipulate a ribbon- might be intrigued as well.

Regardless, once everyone warmed up, it would be time for them to earn their keep. Going from one hundred to the ten thousand points necessary to challenge the NecroDancer would be difficult, but the newcomers could go about it in different ways. It would take a hundred dance-offs with the dead (not to mention hours) to farm up enough providing nothing went awry, but other contractors were more tempting targets. If the Seekers were confident enough, they could even challenge the Crypt’s various Floorbosses to a bevy of points in one go. Either way, the clock was ticking.

Contractors, accrue ten thousand points. Non-contractors, help out however possible.
Undead and other contractors can be from any rhythm or dance game, or dancers in general, preferably indies and/or non-humans if possible. The tomb’s rooms are decked out like clubs/raves with Halloween/spooky decoration/theming.

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Hidden 12 days ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐞𝐞

Member Seen 9 hrs ago

Two to Tango

Ms Fortune’s @Lugubrious & Primrose’s @Yankee
Word Count: 3291 (+4)

During the many years Primrose had worked at the Sunshade Tavern in the city of pleasures, she'd never had many opportunities to teach others seriously. She'd never wanted it back then either. To be a dancer under Helgenish's employ was to endure pain and degradation, and the other women had treated her as coldly as she'd treated them... save for one. Now, though, those times seemed so long ago. Now she was in a quirky, dancing themed mausoleum with a party of plucky allies who had to perform to get their souls back. Primrose was more than willing to help them.

She was surprised that Nadia was the one who'd accepted her offer - honestly she'd figured that the Feral would jump head first into the competition like she so often did. It was a pleasant surprise though, and Primrose fixed the (younger, as it turned out) woman with a smile.

"I couldn't agree more," she said, chuckling at the pun this time. "Well then, let's not delay."

As they moved to a more suitable area Therion waved the two of them off, saying he'd "figure something out." Once the two girls had a tad more privacy, Primrose appraised Ms. Fortune. If she'd already learned a little from a dancer with a style similar to Primrose, then it shouldn't be too difficult for her to learn more. Though Primrose had no idea what Ms. Fortune had looked like at that time, Her medium height and the curve of her hips and bust as they were now would suit the style well.

"You do have many traits that make up a good dancer," she told Nadia. "Flexibility, confidence, spontaneity."

As she said the words she struck a little pose that embodied each, mostly just to show off. With the last one she transitioned into a slow twirl before coming back to a neutral stance.

"What one lacks in skill they'd usually make up for in repetition and practice, but... without the time for that, passion will do."

Nadia couldn’t help but grin when her volunteer instructor complimented her. “Not to mention super cool, delightfully funny, and incredibly humble.” Hands on her hips, she paid close attention to the poses Primrose adopted, wondering if the lesson had already started. Even if the dread that crept into her heart following the loss of her soul had been buried by newfound determination, she’d be lying if she said she wasn’t still a little anxious. Having never experienced a proper education, she wasn’t exactly the studious sort, instead learning everything she knew from the Fishbone Gang mostly through hands-on experience. Hopefully this would be similar.

Only the intermittent flick of her tails hinted at her nervous impatience, though. On the surface the feral was all smiles, just as always. “That’s a relief! Once ya show me the ropes, I’ll dance my heart out, just you watch.” As if to cement her choice, she shrugged off the somewhat bulky metal pack created by the fusion of her boxcutter blade case and Massachusetts’ shipgirl rigging. After that, off came her well-stocked utility belt; though she could not fault its practicality, it would probably detract from any attempts at elegance. Once she’d set them aside, the catgirl felt light as a feather and more than ready to begin.

"Of that I have no doubt." Nadia might have even meant it literally, given her abilities. Either way, Primrose set her own things aside and prepared to give her student her full attention. The rest of the Crypt, the contractors, undead, and the bosses, those could come later. "If you don't mind showing me a little of what Shantae taught you? A baseline."

Well, no backing out now. “Uh, comin’ right up!” Nadia took a deep breath, trying to remember what she learned. Then she raised her arms, held them out, and began a slow, fluid rotation, stamping one leg down as she did. As she spun the lessons she’d been given back in Limsa Lominscuttle Town’s Aetheryte Plaza quickly came back to her. Her whole body needed to move in synchronous rhythm, the shake of her hip guided by the strike of her leg. Her arms she stretched out as if luxuriating in the morning sun, rolling her shoulders and her neck as she moved them. Admittedly she had no idea what to do with her tails, since Shantae lacked any of her own, but after a moment an idea struck her. What Shantae did have was an incredibly long, ankle-length ponytail that had trailed behind her almost like Amane’s ribbon, furling and unfurling in an almost hypnotic rhythm. Nadia tried doing the same with her tails. After a few rotations she began to get a feel for the spin dance, her stiffness fading away, and she switched gears. Now she sashayed from side to side, her arms and waist snapping back and forth in sync, undulating like ocean waves. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to finish her dance, so after another couple seconds she threw up her arms like a stage actor. With a quickened heart she stared at Primrose, happy with how she’d done but conscious about her mistakes, and eager for an appraisal.

The more seasoned dancer held her words until Nadia was finished, and when she was Primrose nodded to herself. Even the clumsiest people could manage basic steps, Nadia was far from that. She had a good base, one Primrose could work with.

"You're right, it is pretty similar to how I dance. Not bad at all - you must be a quick learner?" Despite her mentioning that she wanted a shorter haircut earlier, Ms. Fortune's current look added a beautiful, almost hypnotic element just from the way her two tone hair swayed as she'd moved her head. It would make her dances that much more alluring with more turns of her head. They would definitely have to work on her arm motions though. Primrose told the other woman both of these things, and added, "You've got the stomach and hip movements down well already. At a quicker pace, this style of dance just might suit you."

Primrose gave the steps Nadia had demonstrated a try to herself to get a feel for it, mimicking the simple dance with the fluidity of a professional. After a couple of rotations she came back to "base," just the tapping of her leg and the rhythmic back and forth of her hips. Her arms were held at an angle away from each other, slightly in front of her, with her fingers just barely curled in a sense of invitation.

"Keep the movements you just did in mind, then try them a little faster. We'll build off of them. Since we won't know the music ahead of time, from here you'll want to rely on improvisation. That's where the passion comes in," she explained with a smile on her face. "If you ever lose your sense of rhythm or stumble, it helps to have a couple of steps like those to come back to."

While her words sunk in, Primrose kept up the movements, clearly expecting Ms. Fortune to do the same. "When you start feeling more natural doing this, I'll give you some pointers?"

Nadia did her best to follow Primrose’s example, understanding the need for a solid baseline. On the surface her current moves looked simple enough, but the subtleties were the tough part. If she put too much thought into correcting any one element, it was easy to go slack somewhere else–there was a lot to keep track of. Still, for the most part she managed to do a decent job mirroring those movements. That beckoning gesture, though, ended up feeling a little awkward. It was part of what made her somewhat apprehensive about Primrose’s style. Nadia wasn’t shy or anything, as her typical attire made more than clear, and she knew she looked good, but beyond some light teasing she’d never really leaned into that part of her. Never made an effort to allure, to beguile, to entrance, or to seduce.

“Nyeh…” Nadia grumbled, coming to a stop. She was definitely missing something. After that jukebox stopped playing the Crypt’s nexus had gone quiet again. It was hard doing this, especially getting a sense of how to adapt to a beat, without any music. She glanced at Primrose. “Hey, why don’t you try that machine? The music it makes might gimme a good place to start. It doesn’t cost anythin’, it just kinda sizes you up and plays somethin’. What I got wasn’t really dancin’ music though. More like…I dunno, hijinx music.”

Ah, that's what it does? Primrose had seen Nadia go over to it earlier, but with no context for that kind of machine she hadn't given it much thought. Now that she knew the music that had been playing was a product of Nadia using it, she thought that yes, it definitely seemed to give off a "hijinx" feel. It had been high tempo and a little mysterious - like the feline herself.

"Why not?" The Traveler approached the jukebox. She should have considered that for a relative beginner, music would make things easier. Hopefully something suitable for dancing would come up, and not something... dark. After letting its singular eye scan her, Primrose stepped back to observe the machine's face. It read "Now Playing: For Revenge," but also "Up Next: Primrose, the Dancer." Very quickly the first song ended, and the next began.

Unphased by the machine knowing her name (she'd signed it on that contract after all), Primrose walked back to Ms. Fortune and asked, "Is this a little better?"

For a moment or two Nadia just listened, her ears perked up. Then she gave a smile. “Yeah, I can work with this!” It had an old-timey feel, upbeat, a little folksy, a teensy bit wistful, like something she might imagine playing in a lively country inn. Eagerly the feral took up her previous position, starting the motions that Primrose demonstrated once more. She tried to let the music flow through her, the underlying boop, tap…boop tap-tap…boop tap-tap-tap dictating the flick of her motion. After a few moments she ended up closing her eyes, focusing not on Primrose but her own technique to try and make it more natural and expressive. For the sake of practice she continued until the song’s almost three-minute runtime came to an end. As it trailed off she opened her eyes again and gave Primrose a questioning glance. “Any better?’

"Much. You have a good foundation already. Though if I may..." Primrose said, about to deliver some advice that would hold true no matter what style of dance, as far as she was aware.

"Your hands and arms are accessories," Her eyes flicked to Nadia's extra appendages and she added, "In your case, your tails are too. You want them to draw attention to the rest of your body."

Now Primrose did a demonstration of her own, starting with what not to do. She let her hands fall limp and relaxed her arms, and suddenly her entire dance seemed sloppy as the motion of her body jostled her arms up and down. "Not too loose, or your dance becomes a jumbled mess."

Next she did the opposite, tensing her arms until they were still as stone. Though bent at what might have been a more appealing angle, they didn't move at all and made the dance awkward to look at. "Not too stiff, or it looks like you lack confidence... and it's not so appealing to watch either. Though honestly I don't think you'll have a problem with either of these. For you..."

She kicked the energy up until her arms were moving just as much as the rest of her. There were flashes of her elbow and shoulders, quick and distracting movements. "You'll have to focus more energy on your lower half. There's a fine line between too much and too little. Try leading with your hands."

Now she brought her arms back to the pose they'd been at the start, before flipping her hands so that her palms were facing the ground. She dragged her arms up by the wrists, slower than the pace her foot was stamping to. While extended far over her head they accentuated the line of her tall body, leaving the view of her hips and legs unobstructed. Again she let her hands lead the rest of her arm as they came down, resting on opposite shoulders and drawing outward to frame her face and bosom. Finally she rested both hands on her hips, using the added stability to swing them faster and farther. She kept them there even as she slowed down, the demonstration finished.

"Same thing for your conclusion," she said with a little grin, recalling the pose Nadia struck earlier as if she'd just finished a monologue on stage. "Draw attention to the rest of you, even if it’s in the form of... a unique silhouette."

Watching with bated breath, Nadia tried to absorb everything at once, her mind split between processing new advice and already trying to imagine herself using it in her head. Though Primrose’s demonstration of using her arms poorly amused the feral a little, more at herself than anything, those examples ended up being really helpful. Knowing what to avoid might even be more useful than knowing what to do, as it was becoming more apparent to her that there was no definitive ‘right’ answer. She just needed to find what was right for her. What Primrose did next, though, fascinated Nadia most of all. As her feet danced on the floor, her hands danced across herself, used almost like framing devices to perform a guided tour–not just moving herself, but moving the eyes of her audience. That wasn’t just the catgirl either; other denizens of the nexus, whether crestfallen, resting, or practicing themselves, found themselves drawn to Primrose’s display. So that’s what you’re supposed to do with your hands, she mused.

That just left the dancer’s final suggestion. “A unique silhouette…” Nadia echoed, thinking with her eyebrows scrunched together. She did have a couple aspects of herself that she could play up, though she got the impression that Primrose probably didn’t mean that her student should dismember herself. Either way, putting a spin on the dance that suited her sounded like a good idea. After another couple seconds spent brainstorming, she readied up for one more go.

Nadia began with the stamping right foot and its accompanying sway, moving at a good clip. Now that Primrose’s song was in her head she could synchronize to it pretty well, and even dial up (or back) the frequency if needed. At first she kept her hands at her sides, but they were neither stiff nor still. As her foot came down, her hips went left, and her left shoulder moved backward; when her foot went up, her hips went right, and her right shoulder moved forward. The movement of her shoulders dictated a slight, natural sway to her arms. On every swing of her hips she also flicked her tails, allowing their secondary motion to compliment the rest of her body’s rhythm. Once Nadia established a good baseline, she began to deviate. With measured slowness, the arm swept horizontally from the opposite side to outstretched on the same side, then it drooped slightly as she sent her other in a crescent loop. Then she suddenly leaned forward and to the left, almost horizontal, one hand on her hip and the other dangling like a curtain. She kept her swings going as she swept her upper body around to the right. When she straightened up she did so far more slowly, using her free hand to trace an upward path along her leg and torso. Getting an idea, she twisted halfway around to leave herself back-facing, looking over her shoulder with her hands held up like cat paws as she performed exaggerated side-to-side swings of her hips and tails. Then she whirled around, paused, whirled, paused, and finally bent over backward. Using her flexibility, she performed a backflip handstand and slowly touched down on all fours. At that point point she slid down to lay her chest on the ground, one arm curled up for her head to rest on, while her lower half remained on her knees to achieve a pose like a stretching cat, her bottom unabashedly jutting out while her tails curled over her head.

“How’s that for unique?” Nadia grinned, more than a little red in the face.

Her teacher gave her a round of applause, a wide genuine smile on her face. If there was some light in a dark world, it was dancing. It was easy to see a person's personality in the way they moved their body, and Primrose felt she'd gotten a good glimpse of Nadia Fortune. Her display had been charming in an unexpected way, enjoyable to watch even because it previewed what the future had in store for this budding dancer.

"Very good! Pick the pace up and you shouldn't have any trouble."

“Hell yeah!” Pleased as punch, Nadia picked herself up off the ground. That had been fun, and even if it had only been practicing for about ten minutes, she felt pretty ready to try it out for real. Hopefully performing for real would be a blast too. If she could enjoy risking her life in a fight, why not in a dance? In fact, she could hardly wait to give it a whirl against a real opponent. Normally she’d be tempted to put it all on the line by taking on a Floorboss straight away, but it made sense to stage a few trial runs against the Crypt’s undead first. After all, you can’t rush art, she thought with a smile. In that spirit, she looked over at Primrose as she extended an arm toward one of the doors leading out of the nexus. “Wanna take the first dance? I’ll cheer ya on from the sidelines if you do the same for me afterward!”

"It would be my pleasure," Primrose purred, leading the two of them down a hall and out of the center area. Some real practice would be good to build confidence, and seeing the skill level of even the worst dancers in the Crypt would be useful.

"I'm sure we'll be able to win our souls back in no time," she said as they walked, seeking a suitable opponent. Her own statement gave her pause, her casual tone in contrast to the rather serious subject matter. But she quickly moved on. "Once we do, we can better assist those that have yet to. And though I would have liked to see some of the others dance as well, it's better that they didn't get mixed up in this."

Picturing Ganondorf dancing was an amusing sight, and she thought Rubick and Jesse's eccentricities would make for very entertaining moves. Alas.

As soon as the pair came upon a room and pumping music they liked, they strode in ready to tear up the dance floor.
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