Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

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Robot Girls

Level 3 Roland - (21/30)
Level 12 Blazermate (Holding 3 level up) - (44/120)
Level 6 Susie - (3/60) - (Holding 3 level up)
Location: Sector 9
Word Count: 1619

Susie and Roland didn't have as much luck as some of the others of figuring out where the Hermits were, and as they rejoined the group alongside Blazermate who had just been helping out the town passively. The others had found a proper way to get in contact with the hermits, and it was about time to go and see them. And when they got there, it seemed that they'd all be getting into another fight.

Still, before that, both Susie and Roland caught some of what they said in the converstaion they ended up easedropping on for a little bit, about how the hermits 'traded in information'. Both knew what that meant, but in their own ways. Blazermate meanwhile, not really having to deal with subtly like that, just bemoaned. "There has got to be a reason everyone wants to fight all the time. You usually only robattle once or twice a day normally..." if only she knew what some of her allies in other areas knew...

Well, there wasn't much for it since they were going into a fight, so the group chose their opponent. Blazermate, as she noraally did, stayed out of the way as best as she could, summoning her engineer striker to give her a turret for cover while she flew and healed whoever needed it. Since she could fly through the air, a vast majority of the hermit forces couldn't even touch her. A few would throw molotovs at her, but hitting a fast airborn target wasn't easy with such throwables. The gun drones they threw her way meanwhile were a bit more trouble.

Susie decided to fight the person who attacked using chemical warfare. Being a robot, she was immune to most of the things and Lester was well aware of this fact. Susie decided to take this person not only to show that she could fight well and smartly, but also because she was more or less looking for something worthwhile in this area if these 'hermits' were so powerful and tech savvy. Lester meanwhile attempted to try to change her opponent to someone that could do reliable damage and that she could reliably fight, but the person she tried to swap with, Kabal, was already engaged with someone and Susie, knowing how to abuse the whole 'Galeem' state, fired a shot on Lester with her blaster which got her attention and forced her to fight Susie instead of using her poison to harm all her organic team members.

Speaking of Kabal, he was fighting Roland, one of the few people who could probably keep up with his speed. Keeping him from assisting Lester, Roland clashed and intercepted his first move with his own, a clang of hooks against swords. As the clash finished, due to Roland's memories of the library ability, a short storybook picture appeared in the minds of everyone, A picture of thousands of stylized gothic eyes with the words "Big Bird with its many eyes, watched over the forest to seek trespassers. For Big Bird's eyes could see very far, and things we cannot see." being heard as a creek of an ancient forest could be faintly heard. This didn't interrupt their vision, but there was some creeping dread of what that meant.(Big Eyes) This had the effect of Enchanting Kabal, making him more likely to target Roland, forcing Roland to take more damage from Kabal, but also increasing his power when attacking Kabal and healing slightly upon successfully landing an attack.

The second clash between Roland and Kabal didn't go nearly as well as the first, with Roland's hammers being overpowered by Kabal's quick and brutal combo string with his hatchets. Roland countered the next onrush with his own using his two handed sword, but only managing to parry Kabal, instead of overpowering him. The next memory triggered, with another story page manifesting, a message in that same storyboard narrating voice saying. "To keep the forest's peace, Long Bird weighted the sin of those who entered the forest. For Long Bird's scales were fair and just, and could weigh any and all kinds of sin." giving Roland (Long Arms), making him immune to all types of status damage, including the bleeding that Kabal would inflict with his next series of attacks that would overpower Roland's counter.

Susie meanwhile had flown up in her transporter after blasting Lester a bit with her blaster to keep her aggroed, Lester commanding some of the less prominent hermit goons to attack Susie and assist her, as her poison was ineffective on the robot secretary, instead needing to use their weapons as weird makeshift explosives instead of their intended use of slow acting poisons. Susie flew up to not only dodge the rush of the melee reinforcements, but to summon her business suit to deal with the new oncommers. Crashing down in her mech, Susie caused those below her to scatter to not be crushed. Those that had molotovs waited to throw them at her when given the signal from Lester, but they did deploy a drone or two to give them some ranged support. Susie, seeing one of the hermits that had dove out of the way, picked them up and threw them at one of the drones to destroy it, before getting in a boxing match with a few of the others and trying to toss bodies at Lester to keep her distracted and clear some space to Susie could get into position to end the fight.

Blazermate did what she did, heal and well, heal. Her engineer turret had defended her from a few of the drones aimed at her, but not being stupid, the hermits then threw their molotovs at the much easier to hit sentry eventually destroying it. This exposed Blazermate to more of the gun drones, but she had been healing enough to at least defend herself from them a bit more with her projectile shield, either blocking or zapping the drones. While this was temporary, hermit didn't know that and as Blazermate healed up Roland who had taken another losing clash from Kabal as he was unable to keep up with his speed with Kabal leaving his hatchet in Roland after a hit, before zooming behind him to rip it out. Kabal noticed Blazermate was a healer as the damage he had recently inflicted upon Roland was disappearing fairly fast. Since he was unable to really get her in a melee combo like he could Roland, he did show something he could do that he hadn't used yet, and threw his hatchets at the flying medabot. While Roland didn't know what this attack would do, he did get in the way and deflect them with his club. "Your fight is with me." Roland said, trying to get in a cool one liner as he moved in on Kabal with his giant sword and crashing through the defense that Kabal put up to protect himself.

Susie having cleared a few of the goons around her mech, had also cleared herself to be open to a combo move from Lester and the few of her support left that let her combo her explosive gas and their molotovs to make a large explosion around Susie's business suit. The suit absorbed most of the explosion, and thanks to all the smoke it caused, Susie was able to fly out with her transporter under a smoke cover and get up and over Lester as she looked into the explosion she caused to see if it took out the large mech. This let Susie decend from above and pick up Lester and piledrive her into the ground, causing a bit of a shockwave that also caused whoever was near her to stumble and knocking the poor lady out.

Roland meanwhile had gotten to emotion level 3, and with it, had gotten his new memory. With a chirpy voice saying "If I punished them, then there won’t be any more bad people, right?" (Punishment), giving him his next power. And at this time he was now moving on par with Kabal in speed, and with his new ability Punishment, was now winning these clashes and getting some damage on him. As whenever he took damage from Kabal, Roland's next attack was much stronger and could overpower his attack. And with Blazermate healing up Roland when he got hit and Roland throwing himself to intercept the counter attack from Kabal, the two were keeping each other up pretty well as Roland made some progress on widdling down and beating Kabal. As Roland started to get the upper hand on Kabal, and only grew in power as he fought, Kabal was still moving as he always did. And while Kabal had the upper hand at the start of the fight, Roland had quickly caught up and was surpassing him.

Seeing this, Kabal decided enough was enough, and after parrying Roland's dagger strike, went in to use everything he had in a large combo. Having broken through Roland's attack once again, this caused Roland to falter and get Staggered. While Roland had seen everything Kabal had at this point, Kabal was going in for the most brutal moves he could including enhanced versions of his hook stab and slam. And with Roland staggered, he was fully open to this barrage. Seeing Roland taking a large amount of damage, Blazermate ubered him halfway through Kabal's combo, causing Kabal to go from doing massive damage, to no damage to Roland and allowing him to recover from his momentary lapse. And with this inability to be hurt, Roland took this into his advantage to do his own combo using his gun, swords, and giant sword to out power Kabal and put him in a wounded dizzy state before the combatant collapsed from his battle damage leaving Roland the winner of his fight. Roland gave Blazermate a smile and a thumbs up, as something like her was rare even in the advanced technological city he was from and extremely helpful for a fight like this.
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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Online

The Koopa Troop

wordcount: 3,676 (+4)
Bowser: Level 13 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (173/130)
Bowser Jr: Level 13 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (61/130)
Kamek: Level 12 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (170/120)
Rika: Level 8 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (24/90)
Location: The Under - Termite Kingdom Ruins

”Oh phew” Jr sighed in relief when the additional information the travelers had acquired via following up troops lead turned up that he was off the hook due to being a minor.

”That is good. Nine thousand nine hundred less points we need” Kamek calculated, before turning to Rika and asking ”Or possibly twice that? How old are you exactly, young mistress?” and then feeling a little guilty he’d never asked this. Or when her birthday was, which he did ask as well, but unfortunately the answer to both questions turned out to be the same.

”I dunno. Don’t really remember much in detail before a few days ago when I became Rika instead of just another abyssal mook” she replied, before thinking about it a moment before getting an idea, saying ”oh, I know!” before trying to snap her fingers like she’d seen it demonstrated, only to fail to make any sound.

”Oh. Um. How do you…?” she asked while trying it a few more times

”like this!” Jr jumped in to demonstrate, only for Kamek to point that ”Your using your claws young master, she can’t do that, plus that’s not quite how you’re meant to do it anyway”

This seemed to surprise both Jr and his papa (who also just used his claws), and soon enough all three royals were getting rapid clicking lessons from Kamek, filling the air with flubbed clicks till they all got it, all four clicking at once, resulting in only Bowser having a number appearing above his head.

”There we go, well done all of you” Kamek praised the royals, before realizing another implication of the situation, saying ”Ah. I hope no one saw that I don’t have a number” quietly, before more loudly stating ”But it does indeed look like you are indeed exempt, young mistress. Good news indeed”

Rika declared this ”Neat” before adding that ”I’m glad I don’t have to do it. I’m not sure I’d have been any good at it” sheepishly

”I’m sure you’d have done great” Bowser assured her with a reassuring clap on the shoulder before suggesting ”But yeah, being forced to by some rhythmic schmuck would be a pretty crummy way to learn, that’s for sure. You can always try it out for fun some other time instead though? You know, for fun. Because that’s what it's supposed to be”

”That… might be neat?” Rika agreed, a touch hesitantly, before pessimistically adding ”Assuming we can get out I mean. Getting from one hundred to ten thousand is a lot, right?”

”Eh it’s just numbers, and we only need nine more hundreds” Bowser assured her, confidently, before brushing off Kamek’s correction that it was ”actually ninety nine more hundreds, sire”

”Well, whatever. Either way, all we need to do is take on one of those big bosses to get everything we need. Should be no problem for the king of dance!” Bowser declared confidently.

”Perhaps you should warm up sire? Challenge, say, a skeleton or some other undead perhaps” Kamek suggested, already thinking about all the ways this could go wrong. 100 points was barely a margin after all, and if he lost by any amount at all, that would be the end of it.

”Nah” the king replied dismissively, before turning and calling out ”Hey, Cadence!” once again startling the blond woman, and this time putting on guard for a moment to boot, perhaps believing he intended to challenge her, but instead he simply followed up by asking ”Where’s the nearest boss I can stomp?”

Naturally she too, tried to dissuade this course of action, but ended up getting off on the wrong foot when she thought he was being noble (as in not wanting to knock people down to rise himself up) rather than egotistical, and so was near effortlessly steamrolled by the King’s villainous charisma in a matter of moments.

“If you really do want the closest one, then he’s just through here” she nodded her head towards the door she was leaning next too before beginning to exposit about how “He’s the one that knocked me out and cost me my soul-” only for Bowser to give her a thumbs up and a ”Thanks” as he stomped past her to take a look inside the room.

What he found inside was an undead parish, which you wouldn't exactly think made for a good dance floor, if it weren't for the way the pues had been cleared away to make place for a horde of skeletons to get down to the electro-gothic music pumping through the air.

”Soooo who’s the boss?” Bowser started to ask, before spotting the man at the front of the ‘congregation’ and correctly ID’ing him as who he was looking for. No normal person would ever dress like that after all.

Dead Ringer!

The king took a long look at the man and then gawfed ”What kind of getup is that! He’s got a bell on his head?!” which caused the man in question to snap his head to the side and to fix the king with a single eyed but incredibly intense stare.

”Oh yeah, real intimidating” Bowser taunted as he stomped on into the room ”You ain’t got nothing on me, pipsqueak, so bring it! You and me bell head, let’s do this thing. Best dancer wins!”

Rather than give a verbal reply, Dead Ringer disconcertingly jolted his head to one side, cracking his neck and setting the bell encasing his head ringing as its edge hit one of his shoulder pads, a low endless chime that seemed to reverberate through the rest of his brass armor. In response, the dance floor was swiftly cleared, and four large bells where placed around it on equidistant spots on the dance floor.

”What’s this, some kinda gimmick? What have these got to do with dancing?” Bowser asked, right as the dread ringer reached behind the church's pew and pulled out his massive signature hammer. He spun it once, before raising it up above his head, and laughing a deep and dreadful laugh as his music began playing.

And then rather than start dancing the dead ringer began advancing (though his every step was flawlessly on the rhythm), hammer held high and prepared to strike the king down.

”Coming at me? Oh so it’s a fight you want?” Bowser snarled, putting up his dukes even as he bobbed to the beat ”Tough luck with that, I’m even better at those!”

“Wait! You can’t fight back or you’ll void your contract and he’ll eat your soul!” Cadence shouted out from, which for some reason prompted a few shouts along the lines of “hey come on!” and “spoilsport” from the other neutral observers.

”What?” Bowser shouted back as he snapped his head around to double check if he’d heard her right, only to get bonked on the head by the hammer blow as the deceptively quick Dead Ringer reached him. The king stumbled back, head reeling, and just entirely off beat, and getting several boos from the crowd as a result.

Rather than follow up on the blow however, the dead ringer stepped away from the king and strode towards one of the bells. Upon arrival he raised his hammer and struck the bell, causing it to toll loudly, after which then seemed to lose its color, turning from gleaming brass to a dull gray.

It also summoned a hulking green dragon near as tall as Bowser was, towards which it started to stalk (on the beat) while the dead ringer moved in the opposite direction to go ring another bell, which would no doubt have a similar miniboss summoning effect.

”What! Oh come on!” Jr cried out in dismay, before demanding to know ”How is that not against the rules!”

“The bosses aren't contractors, they don’t have to follow the no fighting rule!” Cadence told him, before shaking her head in dismay at their foolishness.

”Wait…. But I’m not a contractor either… so I don’t have to follow those rules either!” which prompted a whole bunch of questions to be shouted by the non troop members watching, all of which Jr answered by shouting ”I’m a kid” as he leaped into the fray.

”Get away from my Papa you overgrown lizard!” the prince yelled as he formed and then hurled an iron javelin with practiced skill at the great beast, striking it right in the eye. It roared in pain and staggered back, only for the roar to be joined by the ring of a bell, as the Dead Ringer summoned a hulking ogre into the fray.

”Hey, stop that!” Rika shouted as she also stepped onto the dancefloor as well, and then proceeded to open fire on the Dead Ringer with all her firepower. The crack of her rifle and thump of her rigging turrets laughing disruption blobs drowning out the music, prompting yet more boos from the audience.

”Oh no no no no no” Kamek panicked, as he realized that the kids off beat actions where not crowd pleasers ”Even if we can fight back, doing so is making it harder for his grooviness still needs to win the dance off ”

Worse, her shots seemed to have no effect, being slowed by some invisible barrier right before striking, and then vibrating in the air for a moment before being spat out onto the floor.

”Uh oh” was Rika’s rather understated response to this major set back, while Kamek proceed to freak out even more, snapping his gaze to the side and beginning to cry out ”Sire you still have to win the dance-” only to pause when he saw he’d been beaten to the punch on that turn of logic ”-huh?”

”What, you think this is the first time I've danced after getting smashed by a hammer while dancing? Compared to last time, this is nothing. Mario’s was ten times that big! Also rocket powered” Bowser replied to the shocked gazes at how smoothly, if a fair bit dadishly, he was getting down to the beat, before blowing a fair few minds as he kickflip out of the way of a club strike coming from the summoned oger.

”I. Well. I suppose that solves that part” Kamek acknowledged, before addressing the kids, saying ”Now we just have to back him up in style, troop! Move and fight to that beat just like the summoned monsters are doing!”

”Argh, this is exactly what I didn’t want to have to do!” Rika complained, before she tried her best to block a hammerswing from the Dead Ringer that was coming her way in a rhythmic fashion.

She failed, and was sent tumbling into the crowd.

As Kamek flew to assist the girl, her brother was having a much better time. Tapping into his rhythm gymnastics experience the prince gracefully stepped out of the slow dragon’s reach, spinning and then jabbing it with a pair of iron spikes he’d formed to use in place of the clubs that performance usually involved. It involved quite a few unnecessary tosses and flourishes of the spikes, but the tumbles and pirouettes he did worked well as synchronous dodges of the dragon’s own slow on beat strikes.

Bowser meanwhile was doing pretty well at keeping away from the ogre’s blows, right up until another bell rang and out sprung a minotaur with harp strings strung in between its horns.

Despite the elegant instrument adorning its head, the bullheaded beast was just as brutish as its brawny body suggested it would be. The minotaur immediately charging towards Bowser upon spotting him, forcing him to slide to the left to avoid the charge, only for him to have to slide to the right to avoid another club blow.

”I could use some backup dancers over here!” Bowser shouted as he was forced to contend with two brawling brutes trying to club and gore him, a losing game if ever there was one.

Fortunately Kamek had successfully retrieved Rika, and the two now re-entered the fray, the first indicator of which was a giant wasp woman who came buzzing across the rooms, crimson ribbons streaming from her antenna, to slam her oversized cleaver into the ogre’s back. The monster roared in pain once, and then again when on the next beat the ichor queen thrust her stinger into it, injecting a hefty payload of venom.

As the striker turned to a mote and returned to its mistress, Rika (empowered by the poisoning) unleashed a second attack, launching a swarm of electrical insects from her gauntlet hangers. These formed a swift moving swarm who’s shape pulsed in time with the music, and then when they got close to the toxic stricken ogre, unleashed their eclectic payloads in a strobe light like series of discharges till the monster.

”How’s that!” Rika asked/taunted, as she bobbed on the spot, still not at all confident enough in her dancing skills to do anything but throw summons out that could feel the rhythm in her stead.

”A good start!” Jr called back in response, as he did a cartwheel out of the way of a lunging dragon snout, before perfectly timing his firing of a shower of iron knives into its brain with a rapid fire drumbeat in the song ”But you’ve got a way to go till your good as me sis!” The prince clearing having gotten over any embarrassment his out of character dancing style was causing and into the swing of things. Employing it for violence certainly helped.

”But I am sure you will catch up in no time, young mistress” Kamek reassured Rika, as he used his magical fist spell to give the minotaur an on the beat beat down while sitting safely out of range of any harm, broomstick rising and falling in time with the music.

AS a result of these attacks, the three summoned monsters were taken care of in quick succession, the minibosses no match for the equal number of boss monsters Bowser had supporting him.

Before he could gloat, however, the fourth bell rang, summoning forth a towering nightmare wreathed in a shadowy aura. Red eyes glowed in those shadows depths for a moment as unseen stagehands jumped in and removed the bells in a flash. When some others tried to bring something on stage however, there was some kind of scuffle and a shout of “Don’t give 'em the gong, the spoilsports don’t deserve it” before they all cleared out of the arena.

”A gong? How would that help us?” Kamek asked, floating up to look for it. Yet when the shadows cleared there was no sign of the stage hands, nor the removed bells, nor any kind of gong.

The rest of the troop where a bit more distracted by what had caused the nightmare’s effect to clear, namely the Dead Ringer slamming forwards at light speed, road killing the monster in the process, and appearing right before Bower, who he promptly slammed with a hammer again.

”Wait what!” Jr called out in surprise, only for the Dead Ringer snapped his gaze around, tensed, and then lunged forwards again, flash stepping in front of the prince and smashing him in the chest, launching him clear into the crowd just as his sister had been a few moments ago.

Then his gaze snapped to that same sister, causing her to give a panicked ”Eek!” as she proceeded to launch herself into the air like a startled bunny using her feather fall rune before he even charged, which the undead audience found hilarious. Thankfully her helmet prevented her from braining herself upon impact with the ceiling, and the slowfall effect of the rune kept her from simply dropping back down into hammer range.

As a result she had time to observe Kamek futility blasting the Ringer, as a barrier of sound caused by his vibrating armor tore apart or deflected any spells before they could hurt him. Worse, with only one target still on the dance floor due to Jr’s ring out, and the other two’s floating, he now only had one target. The hammer bearer moved to line up another charge on the king, who was still dancing even as he looked dazed.

”Don’t you dare!” Rika shouted down at the ringer, as she launched another wave of electrical insects from her hangers. Rather than zap the man she was now pretty sure they could not hurt, these instead flashed and pulsed right in front of his eye, partially blinding him, and throwing off his footing just enough that when he slammed forwards he sailed past the king rather than take him out.

The impact with the wall, and brief stun it caused gave the king the rest of the time he needed to recover, but he was still pretty worse for ware, and, worse, they couldn’t heal him without causing him to cause an explosion of damaging spores (due to a charm he had equipped) which would most certainly count as fighting back.

He managed to dance his way out of the next few flash charges, thanks in no small part to Rika’s follow up swarms repeatedly blinding him, but their luck, Bowser’s stamina, and Rika’s Sp reserves all weren't going to last. Even if the inevitable next blow didn't end him, Kamek was pretty sure that the rule of three would result in a third blow guaranteeing him a loss in the eyes of the audience anyway, which was just as deadly. They needed to end this on their terms, he was quite sure, and so after a few moments he called out.

”We need to find the gong they didn’t give us! I don;t know what it does, but surely it must have a use if they denied us it” thinking it the only chance they had, even if it was a longshot.

”Way ahead of you!” came a hoarse call in response, before said voice announced ”I made us one!” as a massive disk of iron came rolling into the arena, pushed by the last of the prince’s stamina, the rest having been spent using feromancy to form the massive instrument on the fly.

”I got it!” Rika called, as she dropped down from where she had grappling hooked the ceiling to avoid being forced to dance dodge, and prepared to receive their incredibly heavy salvation.

Unfortunately she did so just as she came into the line of sight of the dead ringer. He turned and squared up to charge right as the princess focused on catching the custom made gong on beat, prompting all the other troop members to cry out in alarm.

The Dead Ringer flashed forwards, his hammer crashing forwards like a comet before it struck the gong as Rika thrust it in front of her rather than abandon this linchpin to ending the fight. A final mighty knell tolled through the room, shaking its foundations to the core, and also sending reverberations thumbing into the Dead Ringer’s hammer. Down into his armor. Then finally up into his bell like hamlet that rang and vibrated like mad before it suddenly split in twain, twin halves falling aside and revealing a face that, while gaunt, was by no means dead like his name sake might suggest.

Amber locks fell around his face as he slumped to the ground, and prompted an expected cry of “Dad?” from the crowd as Cadence rushed forwards out of the crowd and towards the fallen man’s side.

“Cadence, I’m sorry” the man who had cost Cadence her soul coughed as he tried to reach a hand out to his daughter “I was under his spell”

The unexpected family reunion was thankfully not cut short by an oblivious to what was going on Rika, as Kamek managed to shout out for her to ”Stop! Don’t kill him!” before she eviscerated the formerly enthralled man with her chainsaw bayonet.

”Oh, ok” she agreed, backing down without any questions asked, before finding an entirely different question to ask, namely ”Soooo, now what. Did we win?”

”Music’s still going!” Bowser pointed out as he shimmied on over, before requesting ”Kamek, give me some dry bones as back up dancers! I want to actually show these ghouls my stuff, and without any interruptions this time!”

”I… very well sire” the mage agreed, before doing just that.

The dance floor was cleared of all who’s souls were not on the line, leaving the king and his horde of skeletal koopas to strut their stuff, and really give the crowd a thriller they’d not soon forget for the remaining thirty seconds of the track.

After those thirty seconds were up, well, there was nothing to do but bask in the candlelight glow of those sweet sweet 10,000 points. For the troop anyway. Cadence and her father were much too distracted embracing and catching up.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 4 hrs ago

Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Quarantine Valley- Sector V

Lvl 10 (203/100) -8 XP Friend Heart -> Lvl 10 (198/100)

Lvl 4 (62/40) -> Lvl 4 (65/240)

Word Count: 1,588 words

Joining Goldlewis, Hal, and their new friend with the other Seekers, Zenkichi and Geralt relaxed a little and listened to her explain the situation regarding how Sector V got its money. Zenkichi nodded along, somewhat familiar with the under-the-table dealings people got up to in the underbelly of the city. Not through direct connections, but through hearsay, rumors, and the occasional bust of somebody trying to hawk illicit goods while not knowing how to keep it quiet. He was sure that for every one that got arrested, though, there were half a dozen more keeping it quieter and slowly raking in the cash.

Wind Chimes lead them around the barricade to a more discrete entrance, explaining that people who had already been vetted and approved came this way. Whether she'd get into any trouble for bringing them with her wasn't certain, though Geralt wasn't overly concerned, given that she didn't seem to be sweating the idea. The door was locked, though, and it required him, Goldlewis, and Wind Chimes, who was deceptively strong if that kick was any indication, to knock it down. Yet another thing to worry about, though now Geralt wasn't sure if this woman was thinking this through, given that they'd just knocked open a way inside the Hermits' hideout. Approved guest or not, they wouldn't be happy with her, or them, for that.

What they found inside the hideout was...surprising. A fighting ring, likely as some sort of high-risk training, for fighting and killing Chimeras. That the Hermits could reliably trap Chimeras in order to train against them was fairly impressive to Zenkichi, whose eyebrows were climbing his face. A few Hermits could be overheard talking about the 'latest batch', presumably of the drug or substance that let them see, and apparently fight, the Chimeras. From the sound of it, they'd made some good progress.

The apparent leader took a moment to give a rousing speech, one about standing up and fighting back, though whether that was just against the Chimeras or against the Chimeras and the Administration itself, Zenkichi wasn't sure. He had his own bone to pick with Shinra and Konoe, though, so he wasn't sure he particularly cared. As long as they were more discrete about their targets than Avalanche, that was.

That they'd been detected was surprising, but not excessively shocking. They ran Sector V from the top down. Whether somebody had seen and sent a message through the main gate, or they had some well-hidden cameras, or even enhanced senses among the demihumans, the idea that they could waltz in undetected was...naive.

Zenkichi was a bit more surprised that the Hermits knew who they were, and his hackles raised when he put together that meant they likely knew where Akane was. Though he didn't think they'd stoop that low, they might sell some information to somebody who would. His face darkened, but he kept quiet as Goldlewis talked to Kyle.

'Talking' quickly turned to 'Prove your worth to me in mortal combat!' and Geralt sighed as he drew his steel sword, Zenkichi groaning a little. Backpedaling to avoid the initial burst of lightning from Kyle's opening attack, Geralt stepped in and flashed his sword, staking his claim. Zenkichi joined beside him, his Phantom Thief attire appearing as he fired off a pair of shots, forcing Kyle to acrobatically yank his sword from the ground as he dismounted it, blocking the two shots just in time.

Kyle laughed. “Ha, I knew it! ‘It’s a great day to make new acquaintances!’ My horoscope’s never wrong. It even said my lucky color’s black today!” His holographic face grinned at Zenkichi’s Phantom Thief apparel.

“What’s with this guy?” Hal wondered aloud as his drone floated above the fight, observing. “My scanner says he’s human, but I’m not convinced…”

"What do they say about me? I'm certainly not all human anymore." Geralt retorted as he stepped in to attack, already having shielded himself with Quen while Kyle was dealing with Zenkichi's gunshots. Kyle's massive blade even beat out Geralt's in length, oversized as it was to match his larger frame, but not by much.

"Mostly human, but there's some noise in there. With him, though, I'm not getting those readings." Hal replied from above, thankfully not being targeted by the Hermits, who correctly pegged him as a non-combatant companion.

"Gotta be that drug they were talking about!" Zenkichi called, rushing in to try and get inside Kyle's guard while Geralt traded blows with him. He'd summoned Charles' Closing Statement instead of his longer sword, partially for the extra heft, and partially for the blunted backside, which would prevent any accidents when they got him on his last legs.

Kyle proved to be quite the acrobatic fighter, however, rivalling some of Geralt's more nimble moves when he was smaller. He parried a blow from Geralt with his nodachi, Tatsu, half-spinning and resting the back end of the blade along his arm, guarding it with the sharp edge to deflect any attacks while he thrust with the pommel as Zenkichi got close. Choosing to rely on his bulk, Zenkichi took the blow to his chest, swinging in retaliation and landing a somewhat staggered hit, his arms pushed back along with his chest. Kyle still got tagged by the heavy blade, though his was able to roll with the blow and lash out with a wide swing, forcing Geralt to bring his sword up to deflect it. Zenkichi took a step back, the Closing Statement a little to heavy to reliably block with in a pinch.

Kyle took the offensive this time, swinging Tatsu in a quick series of slashes to try and take advantage of its innate Radiation damage, which would somewhat bypass Geralt's heavy armor if a blow landed, and even potentially cause Confusion on the Witcher. Geralt deflected one, then two blows, the third scoring a decent hit, but Quen's magical energy kept the Radiation bleedthrough from affecting Geralt. Without a lucky Confusion proc as well, Kyle was forced back on the defensive as Zenkichi returned to the fight, calling on Valjean to boost his own agility with Sukukaja.

Even with the boost, however, the fact remained that Kyle was quick, and skilled, enough to avoid most of the damage the pair were trying to put out. The fight was, boringly enough, a bit of a stalemate while Sukukaja kept Zenkichi moving enough to just barely keep up. Kyle was capable of landing a few blows of his own while taking a couple of hits, but it was when he finally managed to trade a heavy blow with Geralt that Quen shattered, the bleedthrough Radiation burning through Geralt's armor and causing the Witcher to hiss in unexpected pain.

"You good, Geralt?!" Zenkichi called, only to receive a grunt and a hastily-ducked swing of steel in response. "What the hell, man?!" The Phantom Thief cried out, backpedaling desperately as Geralt stormed after him, unable to block or parry the Witcher's quick blows with his heavier, shorter sword. Kyle ran in as well, catching both Geralt and Zenkichi with quick, relatively shallow blows, but Geralt whirled on him, causing him to back off and let the Confusion keep the pair distracted for another moment.

"What's wrong, that all you got?" Kyle sneered. "I'm just starting to enjoy myself!" Kyle taunted as Zenkichi desperately dove out of the way of a powerful slash from Geralt's steel sword, before crouching and launching himself into the air.

As the Confusion wore off, Geralt shook his head and blinked off the status effect, forcing Zenkichi to call out Kyle's attack in warning. Much as he had started the fight off, Kyle hurled Tatsu into the floor from his massive leap, landing on the hilt and releasing a burst of Radiation and lightning along the floor. Both swordsmen had to back off, though Zenkichi caught an arc of the lightning and was shocked. Geralt, on the other hand, fought fire with fire, wreathing his steel sword in the Orphan's Lightning as he ran in. Zenkichi took the opportunity to switch up his technique, Closing Statement vanishing to his back as he drew his revolvers and fired on Kyle. Taking advantage of the distraction, Geralt advanced aggressively, each connected sword swing, be it to Kyle or Tatsu, sending a little jolt through the Hermit and tensing his muscles involuntarily.

A shot from Zenkichi winged Kyle on the side as Geralt clashed blades with him, stepping as close as he could manage to crash his horn into Kyle's face, sending him reeling as hard as a traditional headbutt would. Zenkichi capitalized on the opening with Valjean, calling in a One-Shot Kill to critically hit the Hermit, knocking him flat on his rear. Geralt reached down and grabbed the man by the collar, straddling him as one hand produced a Friend Heart from his chest and forced it into the Hermit leader.

Stepping off and away to give Kyle some breathing room, Zenkichi holstered his pistols and walked over. "Give it a minute. It's a weird sensation, I know. Just went through it myself a few days ago. Lot to put together. We'll be happy to explain once we're all done fighting and getting to know each other." Zenkichi half-joked the last part, but he was much more relaxed now that Geralt had given Kyle the Friend Heart. The Witcher himself was still a bit wary, but he knew the confusion of reconciling memories would keep them safe for at least a few moments.
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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 3 days ago

Level 11 Sectonia (holding 5 level up) - (15/110)
Location: The Under - Necrodancer
Word Count: Less than 750.

Well, there wasn't all that much to do but head on and do these 'dance battles'. Sectonia decided to, instead of going into the deep end like Bowser, to 'practice' on some of the undead ghouls. This she'd find, was a good idea if a bit unsavory. These undead creatures could barely keep to a beat as advertised, they were unsightly, and the smell... Well, she did learn something from her first fight. She was unable to attack. Or more specifically, the rules were that a contractor couldn't attack during the dance fight. Self buffs were ok though, and with that known aver the course of a few dance fights with a few more undead, Sectonia got her score to 1000 without much trouble and decided that she'd try to do her dance fight against much more beautiful creatures. That way her building rage at the ugliness of everything around her would be soothed, if just a little bit.

Her first real challenge came when she looked over the other Contractors, and found some long legged plant creature that looked like a leek onion. It didn't seem like its mental facilities were all there, only saying a single word which Sectonia would learn is its name after the fact. Seeing as Sectonia was only really accustomed to a more noble kind of dance instead of the more bombastic view of a lot of what she had been hearing, this was probably one of the best, or worst, opponents Sectonia could've chosen. Being a ballerina dancer, which was close to Sectonia's dancing style of more of a ballroom dance. However, the shockwaves left behind by the Hisuian Liligant's occasional powerful stomps were ineffective as Sectonia just floated over them. Sectonia meanwhile used her Haste during 'faster' parts of the song to keep up with the dancing style she was used to, as hasting herself 'slowed down' the song from her perspective letting her keep the beat easier. With the pokemon, while a good dancer, unable to really change its dancing style to match the song, when the song was over Sectonia had won with more points thanks to her haste and had gotten 1500 points from the plant pokemon.

Her next challenge was with Fleurina, a duck wearing what looked like a Tornado. Being a wind type creature, it did a more spin like dance that was a much faster pace of what Sectonia was doing. This had the opposite effect of what her previous opponent did. While Fleurina could land fast parts of a song with no problems, but due to it living up to its decorative bottom, it couldn't handle the slower parts of the song. And on top of that, there was tons of turbulent winds as this tornado duck danced, which was annoying for Sectonia has it made her own dancing a bit difficult. At least until she put up her Chaos Shield and the winds just bounced off of her more or less as much like herself, they weren't attacks, just something passive that happened. All in all, this dance was harder than the former, but more because of the winds than the method of dance, and gave Sectonia 3500 points.

So far, Sectonia had gotten 5500 points, and hadn't turned any of the other contractors into the undead which she was secretly thankful for since she had only danced with things she approved of after her little training session. But she still needed 4500 points, and at this point the koopa troop had finished their fight with a floor guardian and gotten their score completed in full. Finding another contractor, she came across a pink haired, very excitable girl that just seemed to have small balloons come out of them whenever they moved. Shrugging, as she was more rushing to save face than selecting someone of a good disposition, Sectonia went into a dance fight with this one. Out of the three, this was the hardest of the three. Unlike the others, this one just focused on the dancing, and considering her name was Party Girl, she was very, very familiar with these kind of song beats and could dance at both the slow parts and the fast parts. Although she was a bit aggressive with her dancing, which caused her to get knocked over by Sectonia doing one of her hip sways as the girl tried to trip up the bee queen instead.

Still, Sectonia was behind the party girl for a majority of the dance fight, until the whole knock over part, which brought the two on even footing. And this wasn't something this party girl wanted, so to try to land a strong finisher near the end of the song, they pulled out a large cannon filled with confette and fired a confette cannon ball as a dance finisher at Sectonia. Apparently from what Sectonia learned later (And feel to a lesser extent now) this attack would often knock out her competition if she was in a losing position, while acting like a bit of a flourish and thus avoiding the contractor rules a bit. But considering Sectonia was much, much tougher than anything the party girl had danced with before, this backfired as Sectonia survived the hit without much pain, and the confette gave Sectonia a sparkling finish instead, winning her the fight and giving her the remaining 4500 points she needed to challenge the necrodancer. Although now she was covered in glitter and confette, and that annoyed her when she realized that fact considering how difficult glitter was to get off. Although considering the party girl lost all of her points and became a zombie version of herself, there was only so much Sectonia could rage at.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Double
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Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

Despite the Pain

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Sakura’s @Zoey Boey, Pit’s @Yankee, Roxas’ @Double, Luka, Yuito, Hanabi
Word Count: 3143 (+4)

Sakura gave a little embarrassed wave to Crenshaw. For some reason she kept assuming she wouldn’t see any of these people again, and it was weird when she did. She would probably have to come clean to Gemma soon about her Fusion, if he hadn’t figured it out already.

”The conspiracy..? Oh, man. Another one?” Sakura asked, tired of all these shadowy groups. Sakura brightened, however, when Crenshaw revealed he could take them to Peach! ”So she’s safe? That’s amazing!” She exclaimed, relieved. ”Let’s go, let’s go see her!”

”When is there ever not a conspiracy?” asked Roxas with a deadpan tone, ”At this point I'd be more surprised if there wasn’t one.” He reached up and pushed back the hood of his black coat so it was no longer covering his head. Then with a relieved exhale he wiped his forehead with a gloved hand. These coats were necessary but sometimes they made warm weather feel a lot harsher than it actually was.

”Maybe we should start asking if there’s conspiracies inside the conspiracies then? Men behind the men, puppeteering once conspiracy to serve their own” Minda suggested, half joking, before realizing ”Actually that might just be the Consuls”

Pit rubbed his eyes, adjusting to the new area through the portal they'd taken. This was the facility that Peach was being held in. It seemed no less strange than anywhere else they'd been in Midgar. Speaking of, he wondered where exactly in the city they were. "Supernatural Life" they'd called it, so they could be back in the same sector they'd started the day in... if he recalled the layout of the plates correctly.

The interior was unlike any factory Pit had seen before, but to be fair he hadn't exactly seen many. What these rebels could possibly be using the brains for must have been on everyone's minds, though as before there wasn't much of an answer when Yuito questioned it.

"I hope we find out it's something good. Kinda hard to say you're the good guys when you're sneaking around with a bunch of brains," Pit said, eyeing the conveyor belts. This whole thing felt so... weird. Distasteful. Wrong, even, despite hopefully being for a good cause.

Sakura covered her eyes and prepared for take-off, and when it faded she tilted her head up and down and all around to get a good idea of the space. Only a few moments later did she gag and pinch her nose. ”Yeah, it’s weird. I still don’t know how those brains are even real.” Sakura said, her voice nasally. She breathed in through her mouth and then coughed.

Midna meanwhile just slipped her mask back up over her face, and though its filters only somewhat reduced the scent/taste, it was better than nothing.

”If you think that’s weird, try wrapping your head around the idea of creatures who exist without hearts.” Roxas replied, a subtle reference to some of the weirdness from his own world, ”Alongside other creatures who are essentially hearts that have been corrupted by Darkness, and yet those are the ones named Heartless rather than the former creatures. Did I mention my world was kind of confusing? Because it is.”

"Yeah you should definitely complain to whatever god is naming stuff there." This was of course coming from a proud citizen of Angel Land, a place where they called a lot of monsters by the name of which ever individual they happened to meet first, leading to species called "Micks" or "Phils." Pit wrinkled his nose as the smell finally started getting to him, though not quite as much as their street fighter friend.

”It wasn’t exactly a god that named them.” Roxas said, beginning to hold his nose in response to the smell, ”Just a guy trying to become one.”

”Ugh- I’m just tasting it instead! It’s worse! Bleh!” Sakura was eager to hurry out of the room.

She gasped in fresh air and was surprised when she saw the massive hallway.

”Do giants live here or something?” She asked in amazement, though she whispered it because the place was so quiet.

“In a sense,” Crenshaw muttered darkly.

When she heard the voice in her head, she stood up straight and gasped. She made eye contact with Luke because she knew that he heard it and he knew she did too. ”Peach-san!” She exclaimed, and began sprinting with Luka, trying not to get too far ahead of everyone.

Unable to hear the psychic voice, Pit nonetheless ran to follow Luka and Sakura. He wasn't quite dimwitted enough not to understand that when Luka had exclaimed "it's her" after hearing something, that he meant Peach. Pit had been informed of his fellow Smasher's fate, so he steeled himself for however they would find her - but he was still surprised once the group burst through the door. Sakura was hopping up and down as the door was unsealed, and she rushed inside and literally skidded on her heels to come to a stop as she looked up at a giant Other.


"This is... Princess Peach?!" Pit asked, wide-eyed. She was huge, a mismatch monster like the 'Others' he'd seen before.

”It is now” Midna confirmed, the princess arriving just a bit behind the others due to having simply walked swiftly instead of running. She already knew what she was going to see after all.

Sakura turned over her shoulder and glared at Pit like he had said something offensive. Then she turned back and bowed in greeting at Peach. ”It’s- it’s really good to hear your voice again.” She said, folding her hands in front of her with a sigh of relief. ”I’m sorry you got shot like that. Must have been really scary.”

”At least she isn’t being controlled or trying to blow herself up.” Said Roxas somberly. He was referring to Poppi of course, but didn’t yet realize that her fate would not have been reported to Peach just yet. Thinking of both of these situations just frustrated him. Like he should have been able to do something, yet instead was powerless to do anything.

”What… exactly have they been doing with you here, Princess? Is there… any way to reverse this at all?” It was especially frustrating in this case. With anyone else they could probably reverse the change with a Friend Heart. But Peach was already freed from Galeem so a Friend Heart would have no effect on her.

“I’m…just sorry it had to happen like this,” Sakura and the other psionics heard. Though Roxas posed the question, he could not hear Peach’s telepathic response. ”I’m fine…the people here are very kind, even to an Other like me…”

She paused for a moment. Not only did her mental voice sound distant, as if broadcasted through a low-quality radio, but also it sounded strained. ”But when I don’t take the ampoules, it really hurts…gets hard to think…and I can’t communi…cate.” The more she spoke, the more strained she sounded.

“We have no way to reverse it at present,” Crenshaw lamented softly. “I’m afraid that the ampoules merely treat the symptoms.”

”And we’ve just jeopardized the way you produced those, right?” Minda asked rhetorically, before adding ”Not that I wouldn’t do it all over again” with unknowing callousness due to not being tuned into peach’s state of being.

Crenshaw shook his head. "That hospital deserved far worse, and I dread to think what its denizens had in store for those brains. If need be, we'll find another way to make the ampoules."

"I can't stand them," Peach transmitted suddenly, her mental voice bitter. "Knowing where the 'medicine' comes from…why I need it…it's so horrible, it makes me sick…" A grinding noise could be heard as her huge, twisted limbs curled up beneath her in revulsion.

Sakura realized she should probably be translating what Peach was saying.

”Peach-san says the people are nice to her, and that, um, the ampoules let her communicate and think. But…” Sakura frowns. ”She doesn’t like where the ampoules come from.” She said, and received a nod of thanks for her efforts from Midna.

From those brains, right? Pit thought to himself with a grimace, putting the pieces together. He sympathized with the princess. He had been rubbing his arm awkwardly since the scathing look Sakura had sent his way, but now he raised both of them encouragingly.

"It's..." Okay? It really wasn't. It wasn't Peach's choice either, but she knew that. "...just for now. Temporary! Until you're back to normal!"

”Peach-san, you’re not an Other, you’re our friend. We’re gonna find the cure!” She exclaimed. ”For everyone. We have too.”

”I might have… something for that. Not a cure but-” Midna stepped in to say, before pausing to open a portal on the floor next to her ”Here let me just” and summoned from it her vibrava.

The dragonfly shaped, and now thorn covered, dragon fluttered up to land on Midna’s outstretched arms so she could hold it as she explained that ”This thing used to be a wolfos, but after applying 10 of the same kind of spirit it completely transformed into this thing. Or well. Almost this, I added a cactus monster later” The Psych-OSF soldiers present looked on in confusion, but kept quiet to make sure the Seekers had the space to talk with their unlucky friend.

”It’s drastic, and I’m not sure how much it affected this thing’s mind. Its still loyal, and knows how to use portals and such, so it’s not as if its mind got entirely overridden. But as with all fusion, it’ll twist you, I’m almost sure of it. Plus there’s no guarantee it will solve the inability to think issue. It depends on if it's inherent in being an Other, maybe?” She went on, having been thinking about this since Peach had been transformed, and now dearly hoping it would help.

[color=Gold”]Hmm…”[/color] Roxas looked deep in thought. Like he was considering a suggestion of his own. But he wasn’t quite certain if that suggestion would work. Even if it would, Roxas himself didn’t possess that power. And the only person he knew that did have it was not currently present. It might be best to keep it to himself and not give anyone any false hope.

Even as she made the suggestion, Midna knew just how long a shot it was. Ten of the exact same spirit might have worked for a generic kind of Pokemon, but what spirits did Midna have in mind now? Even if by some miracle the process of essence conversion mitigated or undid the damage done to Peach’s human mind, unless the ten spirits belonged to ten additional Princess Peaches, the being brought about by such a change would be even less ‘her’ than the monster that languished before the Seekers now.

”Please, don’t…in fact, just…go.” The huge Other shifted slightly, laying her head down. [i]”Yes. You all have…much to do. The Administration…Konoe…Zanotto…the Guardian of this place, and…and all the rest. You have…to carry on. Please…forget about me.”

At that point, Yuito couldn’t stay quiet any longer. “No! We can’t just leave you here,” he exclaimed, partially translating for the mentally inept. “There’s got to be something we can do. We can get you out!”

”Um…” Roxas was about to say something, but was interrupted.

"None of us are gonna abandon you here!" Pit said, his voice firm. Though he couldn't hear her voice, he got the gist of just what she was saying thanks to Sakura and Yuito's translation. She had to know there was no way they'd go on without her, not willingly at least.

”Thank you, but…there’s no way I’d be able to have…a life, out there. I’m an Other now.” Her voice momentarily dispersed through a hiss of pained static. ”Agh…the ampoule…it’s running out.”

Crenshaw narrowed his eyes. “The ampoule.” He pointed at the injector in Luka’s hands. “Use it on her!”

Though Luka began to move straight away, Peach’s voice gave him pause. ”Wait! I…I don’t want it. I don’t want to…to live like this. It’s not…awful here or anything, but…if this is how it’d be…for the rest of my life…I don’t want that, either. It’s…not living. I’d rather…you put me out…of my misery. When I lose it…I’ll attack you again…try to e-eat your…your brains, so…just kill that monster…and let me rest.”

Bristling, Crenshaw gritted his teeth. “Absurd. We can’t afford to let you die.” He urgently motioned for Luka to finish the job. “Do it!”


”...Th-the Power of Waking!” Roxas suddenly blurted out. And then he swallowed hard, immediately wishing that he hadn’t. But it was too late now, ”It… it’s a power that exists where I come from. I’ve seen it used to bring back someone who was struck down and killed. It might cure this…” There was clearly hesitation in his voice. It wasn’t hard to figure out that there was probably a catch to it, ”...It’s just that, well, I don’t possess that power. I know the person who does, but… he isn’t here with us right now. We’d… have to bring him here.”

Sakura looked between Peach and Roxas, on the verge of tears. She approached Peach and set a hand on her. ”I’m really sorry. Pl-please don’t give up hope, Peach-san. Not yet. Can you let us leave and come back? To try and save you?” She beseeched the Princess. ”It might not be the rest of your life. A lot can happen in a day.” She looked to the others desperately, hoping they could back her up on this.

”Such as cracking open the conspiracy that did this in the first place and making them spill all of their secrets” Midna offered

Pit nodded vigorously. No matter what method they could find, or when they found it, no one was just going to give up on Peach.

"If there was a way to turn you into an Other, there's a way to turn you back! I know there is." With no actual evidence he was only speaking from a place of blind hope, which he had in spades. Tora would find a way to fix Poppi, and they would find a way to fix Peach. And it only made sense anyway; if it was magic then they could find a counterspell, if it was science then the eggheads could reverse whatever had changed - and they already had some limited degree of success, as macabre as it was. "You gotta stay strong! For your kingdom, and the world, and yourself."

While Roxas and Midna hastened to try and come up with plans of action, Luka rushed forward. He joined Sakura beside Peach’s monstrous form and laid what he hoped would be a reassuring hand beside his former squadmate’s. “I know it hurts,” he began. “And that it seems hopeless. Like you’re trapped, with no way out. But you can’t just give up, not so soon. Have faith in your friends. In a world like this, anything’s possible.”

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, switching to Brain Talk so that only the psionics in his immediate proximity -Sakura and Peach herself- could hear him. ”Before joining the OSF, I was… a dud. No matter how hard I worked, or how I acted, I would always be deprived. Cut off from others. An analog boy in a digital world. But as the younger brother of Karen Travers, I was lucky enough to receive a special, experimental treatment. It was rigorous, and painful, but in the end my brain began to produce the psychic hormone, and I became like everyone else. Even if I may lose it all some day.” He furrowed his brow. ”I don’t mean to compare what I went through to yours. Just to say that there’s always a flicker of hope. So please…”

“...Don’t throw in the towel just yet, Peach,” he finished. He still held the ampoule, clutched tight in his hand. “May I use this?” he asked her for permission.

Sakura compressed her lips and shut her eyes, hoping Peach would say yes.

Heartened somewhat by Luka and Sakura’s support, as well as Roxas and Midna’s commitment to finding a solution, Peach relented. “O-okay. If you guys…think there’s a way…I’ll try and hold out here for a while longer.”

Luka nodded, and injected the ampoule. The pink slurry within flowed into Peach’s body, and its muscles began to relax. Hanabi, clearly rattled, gave a sigh of relief. “Thank you for letting us help you,” Yuito told Peach. “We might not know one another, but I can’t let this injustice claim another innocent life. I promise we’ll find a way.”

”Thank you! You won’t regret it.” Sakura said, setting a hand on her heart and letting out a breath.

"Alright, if we're gonna help her then we can't waste any time!" The sooner they kept their promise, the sooner Peach wouldn't have to suffer anymore. Pit looked around at those gathered. "Let's find the people responsible and get some answers."

“Yes, let’s,” Luka agreed, his face serious. “I suppose our first order of business is to make our way back to Suoh, then. Chances are, we’ll find those answers in the Otherlobe.”

Crenshaw crossed his arms. “My Transport power’s just about worn out for today, but I can probably muster up enough for one more trip. Not as far as the Otherlobe, but I should just be able to get you back to the plate.” Yuito and Hanabi nodded, ready to go.

Sakura nodded, still solemn after what Peach said. She adjusted her fighting gloves, and tightened her headband.
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Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey Spider!

Member Seen 16 hrs ago

Karin Level 6: 45/60
Location: Quarantine Valley
Word Count:
Points Gained: 1 -3
New EXP Balance---
Karin Level 6: 42/60

The Hermits descended upon the Seekers, and the Seekers rose to meet them. Karin was smiling, confident about their victory and in a good mood about an old-fashioned brawl. Karin dashed and intercepted a Masked Swordsman, Bernavas. He raised his massive blade and swung as she approached. She stopped short, the blade slicing through the air in front of her nose and ruffling her hair coils.

”Shall we?” Karin said, extending a palm. Bernavas’s eyes were cool and collected, and he only responded by letting the hooked point of his sword rest against the floor. An aggressive fighting stance, meant for summoning as much power into a swing as quick as possible. Once again, Karin surmised she was battling an aggressive opponent. Fortunately, Karin was adaptable. She had already gone against a similar foe earlier today.

And swing he did, his blade trailing with blue crackling electricity. Karin frowned as she retreated from the strikes. Electricity and her didn’t play well- it messed with her ki. She would just have to be extra careful not to be struck.

He had massive range, with elegant twirls resulting in powerful swings. Karin let one scrape painfully across her forearms before she decided there would be no more of that. Bernavas hid it well, but he was surprised when she leapt ten feet in the air over his next strike and landed behind him. He brought his sword around but she stopped it dead in its tracks with a palm thrust to the ribcage that combo’d into a barrage of attacks that ended with her sliding forward, both of her feet crashing painfully into his shin.

”Hmm!” She rose, amused, having the swordsman on the backfoot. As she moved to approach be rolled along the ground, and somehow gathered the momentum to swing with one hand. She ducked underneath it and pushed forward. He dodged several punches and parried her kick, and jabbed the sharp pommel of his blade into her bare belly. Karin winced and swatted it away and tilted her chin back as he thrust it towards her head.

Now he had her at range again, but as he pushed forward, she closed in. There was a sweet spot that he wanted to maintain, and with each careful step Karin was making sure he couldn’t.

As he lifted his sword into the air, there was a tremendous gathering of blue energy. He brought the blade down and seemed to aim to blow her to smithereens with beams from above. Karin had tricks up her sleeve too. Using her EX-Meter she blitzed forward, a forward leaning blur, crossing the distance between them in a moment and in two steps. ”Orochi!”

She turned and converted all that momentum into a back-attack, slamming herself bodily, stopping them both in their tracks. Winded, he was vulnerable to a series of kicks and strikes that refused to let him hit the ground. She flashed with power once more to extend the combo, and made sure to strike his wrist to remove that troublesome greatsword from his grip.

He rolled back to his feet, but in hand-to-hand while he could no doubt handily defeat the above average fighter, he was thoroughly outmatched by the Kanzuki. Catching his arm she flattened him against the ground, keeping his arm restrained.

”Well fought!” She said. ”Though, in my opinion, your blade is much too large to be practical against a fighter such as myself.” She advised quite haughtily.

Karin saw Geralt Friend Heart his opponent, and Karin tilted her head to the side. Producing a Friend Heart, she dropped it into him like a bag of tea into a cup, healing his injuries and revealing the truth of the world to him.

Even the steely Bernavas reacted with a widening of his eyes as he stood to his feet, rejecting Karin’s extended hand.

”Well, that’s quite alright. Now what?” Karin asked, turning to see how the others were faring and what the Hermits were thinking.
Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Yankee
Avatar of Yankee

Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 4 days ago

Word Count: 2042 (+3 exp)
Level: 8 - Total EXP: 228/80
Location: The Under - Crypt of the NecroDancer

𝙱𝙿 ●●●●

It turned out that what Tingyun had said (as relayed by Therion) about the undead being bad dancers was completely true. It was to be expected, Primrose supposed, since their limbs would be stiff and their brains would be... well, not all there depending on the undead. So it was that after a few laughably easy dance battles against the undead as a warm-up, Primrose and Nadia decided to go after bigger fish. Much bigger - as they'd be targeting the floor bosses. With Primrose leading the way for once, they walked the crypt's halls in search of one, or anyone that could point them towards one. It didn't take them very long.

They heard the music pumping well before the got to the room, spilling into the hall outside and echoing off of the stone. The large wooden doors were already thrown open, so the girls went right in.

The inside was more dungeon than dance hall. It was all stone from floor to ceiling, the speakers built into the walls above ominous looking spikes. In each corner of the room there stood a white coffins emblazoned with crosses, and along the edges zombies, skeletons, and shades of all kinds moved to the beat. A closer look at the floor in the dim lighting showed that a checkerboard pattern of light and darker gray ran across it, and between the grooves where each brick was laid something electric buzzed. This was the domain of the Floorboss Frankensteinway, and it was impossible to miss him.

He was a hulking monstrosity of muscles and maggots wearing a skull as a belt buckle. He stood in the room's center, idly bobbing up and down, but as if sensing a challenger he slowly turned to the newcomers in the doorway. Though his arms and legs looked human enough, from his torso a ghastly piano rose, half flesh half instrument. The keys extended up and gave Primrose the sense of teeth missing an upper jaw, and from the shiny welding that kept his entire being together some kind of green liquid oozed out.

The first thought that occurred to Primrose was that he was grotesque. The second, though, was that this couldn't be just a dance battle. Unless she was missing something, Frankensteinway looked much more suited to actual, visceral combat than dancing. She narrowed her eyes. So it is like the Canopy Club. Only this time, it won't be a spellcaster I'm up against.

Undaunted, Primrose strode farther into the room and stopped a few feet from the boss.

"I'm here to challenge the floor boss," she declared, earning a few surprised noises from the crowd. Frankensteinway sized up his opponent (presumably, he didn't have a face after all), heaving but otherwise still. Then he snapped his fingers, and the jazzy yet eerie piano tune grew even louder.

There was no preamble. The giant tapped one foot and alternated shaking a shoulder. Primrose smiled, beginning with the same movement. As the beat continued she leaned toward him and shimmied, and Frankensteinway leaned back while doing the same. They traded directions, then they began to move. They circled each other while maintaining the dance, looking for all intents and purposes that they were dancing with each other rather than against. Primrose was not so fooled however, so when things changed she was ready.

The floor lit up, that checkered pattern coming to life with panels of bright green and blue joining the dark brick. The lights flickered on tempo with the music. With no overhead spotlight, the dancers were lit from below giving the affair an slightly more ominous feel. This time when it was Frankensteinway's cue to lean in, he instead took a step forward. He advanced menacingly towards Primrose, and she let him, making her own steps backwards deliberate and timely. She didn't intend to play keep away, just the thought of backing down made her irritated, but she had to see just what he would do.

Their steps pushed Primrose toward a corner, which she realized not a moment too soon. The nearest coffin rattled until a skeleton burst out from inside it. It reached its bony arms out to Primrose, but she stepped aside with a dramatic sweeping motion. At the same time Frankensteinway stomped one foot down just before charging forward in a tackle. He bulled through the skeleton, throwing bones everywhere around the room. Frankensteinway turned back around, pausing for just a moment before he resumed his dancing.

So that's how it is. Primrose swept across the dance floor away from the monster, long legs stepping in time with the music as she bent her torso around in a circular motion. Her arms here pulled close to her body, elbows up, until they unfurled like petals when she came to a stop. Her balance was thrown off when Frankensteinway immediately charged again and she had to jump out of the way. As any professional would do, she got back into the groove swiftly and without even acknowledging her mistake. I suppose it's time to stop playing nice.

Flames flared to life in her hand just as the ground started to change once more. Some squares of light changed, growing brighter and brighter with each passing beat of the song. Primrose had the sense to avoid these patches of light, and was thankful that she did when the spaces erupted in a burst of lightning. It wasn't a one time thing - every few seconds glowing patterns would show on the floor, forcing Primrose to dance away. She carefully kept her movements in time with the music, feet crossing each other as she swayed over the ground. At the same time, Frankensteinway kept on his attack. The lightning didn't bother him whatsoever, and he kept up the same simple tactic: line up and charge.

The coffins in the room began to rattle again, and a host of skeletons began to march out of them. They, too, moved in time with the music, only taking a step when the metronome dictated. They slowly started to close in on Primrose, surrounding her and starting to narrow the area she could dance in. She scoffed, more than capable of dealing with small fry like this. She spun in place, beginning to form a ring of fire. Her intent was to throw the flames out and give her more breathing room, but to her surprise neither the skeletons nor Frankensteinway stopped their approach. Not afraid of fire, hm? She thought. Then come and get burned.

The crowd of undead that wasn't participating, or at least the more sentient ones, grew more excited at the prospect of the spell burning their fellow undead. From the center of the floor she could make out a little of what they were saying, things like "the song's not even half over," and "done already? show her the steinway to heaven!" It was these that made her pause, her flames sputtering. She wasn't even close to finished, Frankensteinway hadn't even landed a hit. So why did they assume the battle to be over?

The spot beneath her feet signaled the coming lightning. The bones around her tip-toed forward. The floorboss bobbed up and down on his knees and took off, hunched with his arms spread wide to snatch Primrose anyway she dodged. She killed her spell and jumped up, placing her hands on Frankensteinway's shoulders she pushed off of him to land outside the circle of skeletons after a midair twist. She landed coolly, drawing herself to a standing position with upward jerks of her shoulders that pulled her body up like a snake in motion.

While she was in the middle of dancing, Primrose's face was always molded into an expression that rarely changed. It was meant to be beautiful, alluring, but not distracting. A small, soft smile with closed lips, her eyebrows drawn down only slightly. Now, though she still held the professional smile her eyebrows were knitted closer together as she tried to figure out what was going on. The crowd murmured amongst themselves, trying to decide if her maneuver "counted" and whether they should tell the crypt's master. One mentioned that it didn't seem like an attack, so it most likely didn't count.

The pieces fell into place as she faced down Frankensteinway and his back up bones. The contract. Right, they were forbidden from fighting weren't they? While the NecroDancer held their souls, they could only dance. There was nothing physically stopping them from attack anyone else besides the fact it would breach the contract, and who knew what would happen to their souls after that? Primrose wanted to sigh. So it's survive until times up, then.

This she could do, although she would have liked to retaliate with her magic she'd just have to win with her skill. So long as she could avoid being hurt to the point it threw off her dance entirely, she already knew she would win. Though Frankensteinway had a little more groove than she'd thought at first, and beneath the horrific appearance was almost cute in the way he kicked out his legs and shook his shoulders and arms as she moved, his movements were simple and repetitive. As far as dancing went, he was no match at all. And as far as fighting went? Even without attacking back she thought she stood to do pretty well.

"I see what's going on now," Primrose said. "But if all we're going to play is keep away, I wish I'd picked a more challenging opponent."

It was still difficult to tell what if anything Frankensteinway was feeling, but after her remark the monster got a little more aggressive. With a stomp of his foot the electric patterns on the floor changed again, this time coming in much quicker waves that washed over the tiles. Immune to the lightning, Frankensteinway clapped his hands and charged. He covered the entire room in one rush, uncaring to the skeleton back up he broke along the way. Now that she knew what she had to do, Primrose evaded it all with poise - save a few seconds zap while she performed part of her Panther Dance for herself, but the pain only energized her. She could relax her steps, stick to a more simple dance that would still easily put her on top while she focused on staying out of harm's way, but it wasn't in her character to do so. Though it wasn't her best dancing, Primrose still put effort into each step she did as she danced out of Frankensteinway's range and over the arcs of electricity that surged over the ground. She did it for herself and her craft, but also because her friend was the audience. It wouldn't do to show Ms. Fortune a lame performance.

Two minutes and fifty eight seconds later the music began to fade out. The generators around the room dimmed, the lightning effect coming to a stop. The skeletons that had spilled from the coffins jerked and slowed like their own energy was being cut off. Frankensteinway made one last ditch effort to corner Primrose, and when he charged she waited until the last moment to spin out of the way. She stopped her twirl by planting her feet and raising one arm up, the other resting against her hip. Only once the song was entirely over did she release her pose. She thought she heard a grumble coming from Frankensteinway, the monster clearly discontent with this outcome, but since the dance battle was over he didn't continue attacking.

When she stepped off the dance floor, its lights still blinking as another song came on to fill the silence, Primrose was catching her breath with a hand on chest. It had been a lot, but nothing she couldn't handle. Her hair had been frazzled by the electricity though, so she went about fixing it as she found Nadia in the crowd and gave the girl a smile.

"Not so bad," she said. Thankfully no wardrobe malfunctions. Primrose shook out her ponytail to start redoing it after wiping some sweat from her brow. "Now let's get you some more wins too, and we can see about meeting this NecroDancer."
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Player on the other side

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Midgar - Hermits’ Hideout

Level 5 Goldlewis (126/50) Level 4 Sandalphon (38/40)
Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man
Word Count: 3682

As the Hermits took up arms and positions to attack, Goldlewis stared them down with an incredulous anger in his eyes. Were these people deranged, picking a fight like this just for fun? It occurred to the southerner that this might be a test, since by all accounts this organization was one that respected (and indeed, seemed to be predicated upon) strength. But whatever the reason, scraps were nothing to joke about in the World of Light, where Galeem’s influence pushed everyone to extremes the moment their aggression got triggered. As the leader of a militia Kyle had to know this. Deranged or not, however, he and his cohorts appeared to be serious. Goldlewis scoffed, gripping his coffin by the chain. They didn’t have time for this; beyond the murky cloud cover, the afternoon sun hung high in the sky on the day when the Seekers should be storming Midgar’s depths to find the Guardian. Unfortunately, it looked like he had no choice. He started his stopwatch, and the battle began.

As the de-facto leader of this group of Seekers, the veteran planned to take on Hermits’ leader, leaving the rest of both groups to sort things out between themselves. To that end he retrieved his Skyfish minigun from his coffin, with which he took aim at Kyle. No matter how little damage it did, one bullet would be enough to secure the swordsman’s attention. As always, though, his plan did not survive contact with the enemy–specifically contact with Mudrock’s hammer. The Hermits’ designated tank had charged forward immediately, putting her heavy-duty frame in between Goldlewis and his target, and she managed to counterhit him with the slab-like head of her sledgehammer. He staggered backward with a grunt, more surprised than hurt. Though this masked defender packed quite the wallop, it didn’t actually do a ton of damage. As she raised her weapon to smack him again, he backdashed out of range with a hop, taking Skyfish with him. “You fixin’ to start a war there, hoss?” He adjusted his aim as his minigun’s barrel spun up. “You won’t win this arms race.”

He held down the trigger, locking Mudrock down in hitstun. Right away he noticed problem number one: a shield in the form of a softly shining gray-white barrier around his opponent’s form. A barrage from Skyfish, even at max Security Level, wasn’t enough to break it. “Hmph.” His foe moved in, and he dropped his gun back into the coffin before lifting it up. The crushing force of a back-down-forward Behemoth Typhoon caught Mudrock before she reached him, doubling her over but not knocking her down. She recovered quickly and advanced with a heavy slam that he blocked crouching, allowing him to punish her with a low kick into crouching dust to sweep her off her feet. Only when the defender hit the ground did her shield actually pop, accompanied by a burst of green energy. Healing? Goldlewis thought, perturbed, as he moved to pressure her on wakeup. Right now she shouldn’t be missing any health, so why would breaking her shield heal her?

He caught her with a couple meaty crouching elbow jabs, and though he knew it wouldn’t combo, he went for an overhead up-forward-down Behemoth Typhoon anyway. “Crumble!” It connected, but for a moment the lackluster damage it did made him think that Mudrock actually blocked it. She shrugged the strike off and nailed Goldlewis with a pommel strike that led into a wild horizontal swing, nearly turning her adversary sideways. Still, if that was the best she could do, Goldlewis could keep this up for a while. He performed a forward jump and fell with an inverted slam, but Mudrock actually blocked this time, and when the veteran hit the ground, upside-down and vulnerable, she unleashed her first skill. Her Crag Splitter smashed the ground in a burst of sparks and concussive force, doing 240% damage and not only stunning Goldlewis for a split second but also restoring 6% of her own health.

“Gyah!” Goldlewis spat, rolling backward and climbing to his feet, a little woozy from the blow. Mudrock struck again moments later, hammering against his block until he used Faultless Defense to push her off a little, allowing him to clip her with a dissuasive backhand. He followed up with a tremendous backward-up-forward Behemoth Typhoon that pounded the floor just like Mudrock’s Crag Splitter, but the defender in question backed off out of range. As he called out a Thunderbird drone, indicating his foe to the UMA with a curt jab of his thumb, he noticed something ominous: that the stony sheen he’d destroyed earlier had reappeared around Mudrock once more. Goldlewis impulsively checked his watch and found that it had been about nine seconds since that shield last dispersed. That ain’t good. Mudrock used her Ward of Fertile Soil to soak the Thunderbird blast and burst from the embers with another Crag Splitter. It guard broke Goldlewis, prolonging his blockstun. Put in a bad spot, he tried to use his 6p to low-profile Mudrock’s next attack, but he just ended up trading with her horned headbutt, knocking both back a couple steps. Digging in his heels, Goldlewis lashed out with a coffin swing at maximum range, but when the hit broke his foe’s shield again, the burst of healing undid all his work and left her at full health one more.

The veteran took a deep breath as he reigned in his coffin. This juggernaut didn’t hurt much except for Crag Splitter, but her defense and sustain were off the charts. To actually make a dent, he’d need to do a real combo. Putting together a strategy, he allowed Mudrock to push him all the way back to the wall. Then he checked her assault with a crouching elbow and launched into a down-back-up Typhoon to launch her up and over into the corner. From there he smacked her into the wall again and again, landing a shoulder charge, upward Typhoon, shoulder charge into upward Typhoon again, and finally Down With the System. The last mighty blow would’ve launched a lesser tank through a lesser wall, but Mudrock wasn’t done for just yet.

When she slumped down from the wallsplat, she immediately activated Bloodline of Desecrated Earth. A demonic red energy swirled around her as the floor beneath her shook, but she seemingly just stood there, not attacking. When Goldlewis moved to take the initiative, though, he found his move speed more than halved, and when he landed his backhand he did no damage whatsoever. This continued for a whopping ten seconds, giving Mudrock’s Ward of Fertile Soil ample time to reappear, until the onslaught began. A burst of concussive feedback left Goldlewis seeing stars, stunned and nigh-senseless for five whole seconds, during which Mudrock attacked like a woman possessed, landing an unnaturally fast flurry of amped-up hammer blows. When it finally concluded Goldlewis bursted instantly, letting loose a blue wave that hurled his foe back. “EAT SHIT!”

When he landed, though, he sagged down to his knees. “Ugh…” he panted, covered in bruises. While he couldn’t make out Mudrock’s health thanks to her suit, she seemed more or less fine, which really rubbed salt in the wound. “That kinda crowd control…it’s cheatin’, plain and simple.” Luckily, he could cheat too. “Sandalphon!”

In a blink the Seekers’ combat coordinator appeared, bathing his wounded body in the soft glow of her resplendent halo as she stood over Goldlewis like a guardian angel. Her brows rose ever-so-slightly as she observed his condition. “My, my,” she murmured, raising her staff. Ether radiated from it, and when it came down the divine waters of Angelic Praise healed the big man with a rippling pulse. “I did not anticipate that you’d be so hard-pressed.”

Goldlewis raised an eyebrow at her. Was the emotionless archangel making fun of him? “Yeah, well, this sumbitch don’t quit!” he said, rising to his feet. Mudrock descended on the two, not fast enough to stop Sandalphon healing him, but determined to put both out of commission. “Real tough cookie!” Goldlewis growled as he blocked. “Eats knockout blows for breakfast and then heals up afterward!” Of course, with Sandalphon here neither combatant would make any progress, and Mudrock knew it. She unleashed a Crag Splitter, guard breaking Goldlewis and forcing the archangel to retreat with a long backward step. Like any good fighter Mudrock knew to take out the medic first, and she attacked relentlessly, not giving Sandalphon any room to breathe or time to set up. Without any real means to defend herself point-black the archangel found herself in a tough spot.

“Hold on, I’m comin’!” Thinking quickly, Goldlewis dropped his coffin, then kicked it to slide it across the floor. It struck Mudrock in the back of her legs, tripping her, and she fell over backward onto the coffin’s lid. The next second, the lid rose up from beneath her and a half-dozen arms reached out to clamp down around her neck, middle, arms, and legs, pinning her. Struggle as she might, she couldn’t get free, and after a moment the squeezing broke her Ward of Fertile Soil. Goldlewis jogged over, seized his foe’s helmet by the horn, and ripped it off. He meant nothing more than to create an opening so he could knock his opponent out, but when he saw a lovely face and a head of white hair crowned by dark horns, he was momentarily taken aback. “A woman?”

He only reeled from the realization for a moment, but it was enough. Mudrock thrashed her head and sliced the veteran’s hand with one horn, then finally overpowered the UMA’s arms. Just as she broke free, however, Sandalphon dropped Mudrock’s own sledgehammer down on her head. Though the archangel barely had the strength to lift the weapon up, let alone swing it, gravity did the job. The Hermit was out cold.

Mudrock’s sustain had prolonged her fight, so by now everyone else had already finished. Once the UMA set the tank down, Sandalphon went ahead and healed her so as to ward off any permanent damage from her concussion, though it would be about seventy seconds before Mudrock stirred anyway. Goldlewis stopped his watch with a sigh, a little annoyed. Normally his overwhelming offense would break down even the staunchest defenders, but it looked like his opponent played by different rules. When he snuck a glance at her, he noticed the dark crystals that marked her skin like blotches of ink. Another infected person.

Over toward the training room’s exit, Kyle dragged himself to his feet, panting. Though Geralt’s friend heart undid his wounds, he’d still been floored by the fathers’ collective efforts. “Haah…hah…you’re incredible…you’re amazing!” His toothy frown turned back into a smile, and he sheathed his nodachi. If his returning memories troubled him at all, he gave no sign. “Haah…aaalright, I’ve had enough fun to say you held up your end of the deal. Well then, I’m a man of my word. I’ll tell you whatever you wanna know. ” He paused for a moment. “But what’re we standing around down here for? We’re friends now, after all. C’mon, follow me.” He turned to go, leaving both the other Hermits and the Seekers to regroup.

For a moment, Hal just watched him limp off. “Uh, are we sure this isn’t another trap?”

“Perhaps, but we’ve already demonstrated our strength,” Sandalphon reasoned. “We should follow. Still, I believe I’ll stay with you for the time being.” Though happy to have helped return that young girl’s lost dog, she couldn’t allow herself to be distracted any longer.

On his way out, Goldlewis paid a brief visit to Mudrock. “Sorry ‘bout that, ma’am. Hope we didn’t rough you up too bad. You were a tough nut to crack, that’s for doggone sure.”

“It’s nothing,” the Sarkaz replied succinctly, not meeting his gaze. “You shouldn’t hesitate on the field of battle. No matter who your opponent might be.”

Goldlewis gave a noncommittal grunt. Ironic that she should tell a career soldier like him that. At the end of the day though, she did almost get him.

“You guys comin’, or what?” Everyone followed Kyle through the Hermits’ hideout. As they went, walking through the cluttered, dirty halls and up several flights of stairs, he kept talking. “Don’t blame me if you get lost down here. Not like you know your way around.

Hal still seemed fretful. “We’d better stay sharp. Who knows what kinds of stunts he might pull?”

“Now, now, that’s no way to talk about a friend. You could hurt somebody’s feelings that way.” At the end of a corridor, he took a right turn directly into a solid wall next to a barrel that a Hermit was loitering on top of, revealing it to be a hologram. On the other side was a large, curved room, with shuttered floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the rest of Zone 09, rust-orange and full of long shadows cast by what little daylight made it through the stormy, dark sky over Midgar. Sandalphon supposed that this must be one of the tallest buildings in all of Quarantine Valley. She’d probably seen it while scoping out a spot to turn into a sniper’s nest, never imagining that the Hermits were actually inside. Hindsight’s twenty-twenty, as they say.

“This is it, our lovely home,” Kyle announced. “Make yourselves at home.” There were plenty of couches around (not to mention Hermits) and Kyle sat on one in front of the back wall, where at least a hundred green-tinged surveillance screens were arrayed. They weren’t just snooping on Zone 09, either. Sandalphon saw areas that looked like Detroit, Zaun, Piltover, Sector 07, and more. Eyes all over, she mused. To the Angel of Information, this was an incredible, invaluable asset. What I wouldn’t give to have free access to this. After a moment, Kyle’s voice tore her attention off the screens. “There was something you wanted to ask me?”

Goldlewis nodded. “We understand your Hermits are involved with Reunion. Some sort of drug deal.”

“Drugs, huh? You get right to the point, doncha? Ah well, a promise is a promise.” He leaned forward confidentially, resting his elbows on his legs. “It’s called Blue Evolve. Take enough of it, and it makes you strong enough to kick a chimera’s ass, let alone an Other’s. And yeah, we know about chimeras down here. Blue Evolve even lets us see them. You saw for yourselves downstairs.” He paused briefly, looking between those present. “Unfortunately, we can’t take all the credit for Blue Evolve. We just get it delivered.”

“By Reunion?” Sandalphon asked quizzically, her pupils in the shape of question marks.

“...Yeah, by Reunion. You really did your homework, huh?” Behind him, several of the screens changed to display the image of a dark-haired woman with glasses, a white coat, and a silver mechanical arm. “Her name is Iron. She doesn’t offer much more than that, and we don’t ask.”

Goldlewis furrowed his brow. “Why the hell not? Reunion’s a bunch of bloodthirsty anarchists tryin’ to tear Midgar down. Ain’t ya worried they got some kinda agenda?”

“They’re a rowdy bunch, I’ll give you that. But at the end of the day Reunion’s looking out for the little guys. The poor, the sick, and the downtrodden. Same as us. Either way, if you want any specifics, ask Iron yourself. But there’s one little catch: nobody has any idea where she is.” He leaned back, crossing his arms. “That’s bad for you, bad for us, and horrible for the human race. But you know what? You seem like good detectives. If you found your way in here, tracking Iron down should be a piece of cake for you.” He looked over at a nearby coffee table, which had a gray bag on it with a red stripe. “The only trace of her we’ve found is that bag over there. Take it, if you think you can use it.” Kyle shrugged. “We’ll keep looking, but for now, the only trace of Iron I can give you is that bag. Anything else is up to you guys. Come back here when you find Iron.”

With that, he turned the Seekers loose. They had free reign to move through the Hermits’ hideout as they pleased and even use some of their supplies, though a number of doors remained locked, and there could easily be more holographic walls around. The team reconvened around Hal. “Alright, looks like our best bet is to find this Iron,” he summarized. “She’ll lead us to Reunion, maybe Anderson herself if we’re lucky. Let’s start by getting out of here.”

As they headed back outside, Sandalphon considered what the team knew. “Sector V is a tight-knit community, and the Hermits have the run of the place. It’s highly doubtful that she’d go missing around there.” Going back the way they came, the team exited out of the bridge tunnel and back onto the platform with the ladder that led back toward the colony and the bridge that led toward the unexplored rooftops. “From atop Sector V I had a good view of that area. It’s unpopulated and dangerous, with reports of aberrations and chimeras. It’s our best bet to begin looking.” Holding up Irons’ bag, the archangel narrowed her eyes at it. “I don’t suppose anyone has any means of tracking her we could use this for?”

“Left my bloodhounds back home I’m afraid,” Goldlewis replied a little gruffly. “We might have to clear out these rooftops one at a time ‘til we find somethin’.”

“In that case, I will resume overwatch from the roof of the Hermits’ base,” Sandalphon told everyone. “If I spot anything, I will let you know.” She fixed her unblinking gaze on Hal. “Perhaps you could join me. From such a position, you’d be able to scan anyone’s area for redshift and I could relay your findings.”

“That makes sense!” Hal piloted his drone over toward the archangel, then turned to face the rest of the team. “Good luck out there everyone. Be ready for anything!”

Among the perilous rooftops, a handful of Others -mostly Rummies, Pools, and Paws- could be found scattered around, as well as small Machine bipeds and aberrations, none of which posed much threat on their own but could be dangerous in a dang, especially if an unwary hero wandered into an ambush. Nowhere was this more true than the spacious top floor of a large building, accessible via a heavy, rusted door that would take some serious strength to slide open. Within one could find over two dozen people, sprawled in chairs, bedrolls, or against the wall, but the faces that lurked within the hoods of those colorful jackets weren’t human. This squatters’ den had become a huge nest of Aberrations, eager to eviscerate their visitors with blade, bow, fist, and claw. “Be careful entering what looks like a shelter,” Sandalphon advised the team using her communication power. “Hal is reporting manageable, but still elevated red matter levels inside.”

Seekers who stuck to the open areas around the labyrinth’s upper levels, working through the enemies strewn about therein, might eventually stumble upon a valuable find: a crashed FICSIT freighter. Common sense would dictate that the futuristic orange-and-gray wreck would’ve already picked clean by Quarantine Valley’s more daring salvagers, but it had protection in the form of a prototype DespoRHado Unmanned Gear: the Tyrant. Though damaged and in sore need of repairs, the hippo-sized metal monstrosity still possessed crushing strength and a handful of missile launchers. Still, its menace made the promise of a weapon made from its spirit -not to mention the contents of the freighter- all the more tempting. Sandalphon pointed it out for everyone. “I’ve got eyes on a supply cache of some kind and a bipedal war machine guarding it. I have an angle, so you’re clear to engage if you choose.”

If one took the low road through the clustered buildings, they might find Ny’agai Street in the shadows. There a boy from Sector V, the young scholar Aurele, could be found crying for his lost brother Verut and their friend Lovi, insisting that they had been tricked into a game of hide-and-seek with a ghost and refusing to go home without them. As absurd as that sounded, within the dark corners lurked the spine-chilling suggestions of strange, ghostly figures, fancifully dressed but deathly pale, humming along to the soft, surreptitious song of a still more nightmarish threat deeper within. “I have no vision of the lower areas between the buildings, so if you descend through there, be cautious.”

Finally, on one of the rooftops not far from the squatters’ den, surrounded by abandoned construction equipment, lay the traces the Seekers were looking for. Freshly spilled blood, shorn-off locks of dark hair, and a broken vial half-full of glowing blue liquid. The moment someone showed up, however, he or she would be attacked by a strong invisible foe: the chimera known as Laius, wielding shield and lance in its merciless campaign against mankind. Sandalphon shot a bolt toward the rooftop in question to mark it for the others. “Hal has a red matter reading on top of this highrise. Possible chimeric or Reunion presence. Investigate but stay alert.”

Suoh - A Sparkling Red Metropolitan

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

Using the last of Crenshaw’s Transport power, the detachment of Seekers and their Psych-OSF friends arrived safely in Suoh. True to their sender’s word, they’d appeared a good ways off from the city center where Main Street and the Otherlobe lay, though they could still see the eerie red glow of its giant artificial brain from here, reflected off the glassy faces of nearby skyscrapers. No such highrises, office buildings, and superstores could be found this far out; these were residential boroughs, with five to six story apartment buildings, lofts above mom-and-pop restaurants, and small businesses. Still, these streets were pretty interactive, especially on a day like today. The sky seemed somehow darker even than how Luka remembered it before the team disappeared underground, even though the time widget in his Psynet connection said it was two-fifty in the afternoon. Those thick, murky gray clouds hung low and heavy in the sky, ominously iridescent thanks to the Extinction Belt. No matter how much he tried to reason it away, he could shake the feeling that something bad was in store.

His merry little band couldn’t waste time, though. They’d made a promise to get to the bottom of the Psych-OSF conspiracy, to find out who was responsible for atrocities like metamorphosis and personality rehabilitation, and take them to task. Once they got their bearings, everyone set off at a brisk jog down the sidewalk, past wary citizens in techwear and storefronts full of Vision displays. In theory Luka could use his Teleportation to take everyone the rest of the way one at a time, but given the multiple jumps involved per person that would take a while, and given what they were consciously going up against, they needed to stay together. Security camera clusters were prominent out here and would only grow more common the closer everyone got to the city center. The minute Luka used his power, both the starting point and the endpoint would be known to anyone observing.

Still, after only a couple minutes, Luka stopped suddenly on a street corner and pulled up a Vision of his psynet inbox. “I just got a Brain Message…from General Fubuki Spring?” Anyone who recognized the name of Psych-OSF’s Septentrion Second Class would know just how big a deal a message from him was, and how good -or how bad- its contents could be. Luka read it at record speed, then forwarded it to his squadmates, Yuito, and Hanabi.

Good afternoon Luka. I hope this message finds you well. Unfortunately, you may not be for long. Every platoon leader in the OSF just received an APB on Luka Platoon from the brass. No further details given. It’s nonsense, I’m sure. How many years have we known one another, after all? But this is as serious as it gets. I haven’t the foggiest idea why anyone might have it in for you, but someone at the top of the food chain clearly does. I’ll do what I can to find out more without raising suspicions. In the meantime, stay as far away from Suoh as you can.

“It looks like someone’s gone and made us public enemy number one,” Luka said wryly, partially for the sake of Midna, Pit, and Roxas. “Any Psych-OSF squads we encounter might be gunning for us from here on out.”

Hanabi crossed her arms, a furious look on her face. “It was Brain Drain!” she fumed, turning to the Seekers. “You know, the psychic in the lab? While you went to find the Doctor, we had a peek into his office. He’s got connections in Psych-OSF, powerful ones. They send him people to rehabilitate if they have further use for them, or to recycle if they don’t.” She curled her lip in disgust.

“There was a jar of super-sneezing powder in there,” Yuito explained. “I would’ve sneezed my brain out if Luka didn’t warn me before I opened it. That explains all those brains, though. Brain Drain takes the mind, and the Doctor, the body.” He shivered in horror, then cleared his throat. “We got his personal records of what he’s been up to, though.” He produced a flash drive from his pocket. “He must’ve figured we’d clean him out and went running to his friends the first chance he got.”

“Little snitch,” Hanabi added angrily. “Still, we’re not going anywhere. Right, Yuito?”

He nodded emphatically. “Right!”

“Of course,” Luka chimed in. After a moment, he blinked in surprise. “Oh…I just got a response from Raz! He made it out of the hospital, said he’s sorry for leaving us but he got a panic attack. He also says that he saw the truck with Dexio and Sina arrive once he got outside, who he assumed were there to help. He also saw the man who drove them there: Morceau Oleander.”

“Morceau, as in Septentrion Seventh Class?” Hanabi asked, turning to Yuito. “As in, leader of your platoon?”

“I…guess?” Yuito looked worried. “I have no idea what he’s doing though. He just told us he’s out on a training exercise today. That’s why we had time off to join you guys for Beacon.”

Luka was wearing a grave look on his face. “Apparently when he saw Raz, he took off, so Raz hopped on. Morceau managed to shake him off near the city center though, and he’s hurt. He’s currently hiding out in Musubi’s at the end of Main Street and wants us to come pick him up.”

“Then we’ll grab him on the way,” Hanabi confirmed. “Let’s go!”

Fate had other plans in store for the Seekers, however. Less than a minute later, a loud alarm blared throughout Suoh, and the psychics of the group could see all the visions scattered all over the streets and buildings change into bold, bright orange warnings. “An Other attack!?” Yuito yelped, instinctively reaching for the hilt of his sword. “I know the Extinction Belt’s low today, but the forecast was clear!”

“This can’t be coincidence,” Luka murmured. “We’ve gotta move!”

Everyone took off running in a mad dash toward the city center. Before too long, they got their answer. Above Suoh were flying two large blue buses suspended beneath hot-air balloons, handfuls of Others pouring out of their doors and windows to plummet down to the city below. As the Seekers watched, a third descended from the oily-looking clouds, its glass quickly shattering as a fresh crop of Others burst from inside to join their brethren already assailing Suoh. An anti-air battery from somewhere near the Otherlobe sent up a torrent of red laser blasts to shoot it down, and after a couple seconds it hit home, bursting the balloon to send the bus and its remaining passengers hurtling toward the city below. Other sources of anti-air fire were concentrated on downing the other buses and shooting monsters out of the sky, but plenty reached the ground.

“Just got word from my squad!” Yuito yelled as he ran. “Morceau’s nowhere to be found, so Nagi, Lili, Norma, and Poo are all joining the fight against the Others. I sent them our location so we can link up!”

When the Seekers rounded a corner and skidded out onto an avenue that would connect to the end of Main Street a block away, they found a small army of Others rampaging through the area, attacking everything that moved. OSF forces were fighting in the distance, but even if some of them wielded weapons or weak psychic powers, these citizens were in grave danger. There were Pools, Paws, Pendus, Rummies, Ruts, Yawns, and Sabbats of all varieties, and as if that wasn’t enough, a six-armed, orange-gloved Dispen Perry with a huge water tank on its back like a howitzer.

For the moment, Luka wasn’t thinking about the conspiracy. He hefted his Weight Hammer and teleported forward to bring it down on a Bile Pool, crushing the slimy Other in one mighty blow. “We have to help them. Fight through!”

The Under - Crypt of the NecroDancer

Level 12 Nadia (76/120)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 3016

As expected, Primrose put on a stunning performance. Though intimidatingly large and gruesome, Frankeinsteinway turned out to be little more than a brute, and though his little jig made Nadia giggle when she first saw him, that was the extent of his dancing ability. Primrose defeated him handily, not just dazzling the audience with her captivating beauty and grace, but revealing some important information about the Floorbosses and the nature of the contest against them. Nadia tried to file it away, but there was a lot to think about. Besides, who knows what might be waiting in the next room?

“You KILLED it!” she congratulated Primrose once the dancer made her way over. “I mean, I knew you were a great dancer already, but that? Wow! You really Prim-rose to the occasion!”

One thing was for certain: that would be a tough act to follow. Now that it was her turn, Nadia found her way to a fresh dance floor. Though surrounded by walls of timeworn stone like the rest of the Crypt, this particular room looked more like a modern club than most. Of course, this was lost on Nadia, who hailed from a time roughly a century before the contemporary definition of ‘modern’, so everything seemed new and amazing to her. From the vivid blue spotlights to the soft, pinkish glow of the private alcoves, a surreal, dreamlike light suffused everything. At the bottom of a few sets of stairs lay the checkered dance floor, half of it immersed in ankle-deep water, and as the squares flashed aquamarine the ceiling lit up with beautiful, refracted caustics. In fact, the theme of this whole room seemed to be water, judging by the streams lit from beneath that flowed around the floor beneath panes of glass and the elaborate falling water features. Plenty of dead could be found here, either relaxing in the booths or grooving on the dance floor, and there were, the typical skeletons and zombies supplemented by drowners, drowned, and Undyin. Over the dancers loomed the DJ booth, where an instrumental monstrosity mixed it up. That, Nadia assumed, must be this room’s Floorboss. While the average cat might shy away from this venue, Nadia had overcome her dislike of water long ago, and was eager to prove herself the freshest thing around.

Before going big, however, she felt compelled to start small. Planning to test what she’d learned on some hapless undead, she approached a skeleton on the periphery and tapped his bony shoulder. “Bone-jour, mon ami!” she greeted him with a toothy grin, putting her hands on her hips. Spanish might be her natural tongue, but the lick of French she’d gleaned from Bella had its merits. “Couldn’t help but notice you had no ‘body’ to dance with. Wanna give me a spin?”

“Oh, we got a joker here, huh?” The skeleton pounded his knuckles into the carpal bone of his other hands. “You’re on, kitty, but don’t assume I’m free points! I was ‘bone’ to be wild!”

As if on cue, a new song began, and Nadia’s eyes sparkled in the brilliant teal light from below. “Purr-fect.”

The dance-off was on. First things first: adjust to the beat. This music, energetic and produced by no instruments known to Nadia, offered an easily identifiable but unusually fast beat with hills and valleys of musical accompaniment, largely repetitious in nature. Nadia stamped her foot just like she’d practiced, moving her hips and her shoulders in time to the beat. At such a speed, she couldn’t keep her composure quite as well, so she leaned into the frenetic pace, putting her arms above her head and moving them opposite of the flick of her tails. As the seconds went on, the music turned out to be even stranger than she first expected, unpredictable and without any real sense of progression. Nadia didn’t know where to take the dance, so she settled for just dialing the energy up and down based on the song, going from chill to hyped from moment to moment.

While the music and environment left her feeling just a touch worried, Nadia quickly realized that she had nothing to worry about the moment she looked at her opponent. Despite the skeleton’s bravado, he possessed no skill or rhythm whatsoever, just wildly thrashing around, swinging his arms and clanking his bones with no regard whatsoever to the beat. After discovering this Nadia dialed down her energy a little, but by the end of the song she still won handily. A snap of her fingers confirmed that she’d risen to two hundred points, while her opponent sank deeper into debt. “Wow, free points!” she grinned cheekily, leaving him to sulk. That was too easy. If she meant to test her skills, let alone get all the points she needed, she’d have to set her sights a little higher.

Still, no sense letting her victory go to her head. One wrong move could put her back to square one, or worse. Nadia took on another undead, but found her just as disappointing as the first. “C’mon, I thought this was supposed to be a challenge?” she taunted as the song wound down, so far ahead in terms of score that she didn’t even bother dancing for the last few seconds. Her eyes settled on a huge, burly skeleton standing at the sidelines with his arms crossed, whose glowing white eyes had been on her the whole time. “What about you, tough guy?” She beckoned him over with a smirk. “You look like you’ve got some backbone.”

Without saying a word, the big skeleton stepped out onto the dance floor. Standing over two feet taller than Nadia, he stood directly opposite her as the Floorboss started up the next track. That song, however, took Nadia completely by surprise: instead of more EDM, it was a cheerful, upbeat, and supremely catchy melody: Cinderella Step. As the dance-off began and Nadia overcame her surprise, she found herself vibing with it immediately. Though slow, it had a rhythm that she couldn’t help but groove to, with a beat played out by what sounded like a xylophone. At first she swayed and stepped from side to side, leading with her head. When the song turned a little more wistful and bassy around the thirty second mark she started up a slow spin, one arm looping over her head while the other rested on and accentuated the movement of her hips. Still impressed by the song, she was grinning ear to ear, and when the beat dropped at the thirty second mark she went all-out, bouncing up and down on both feet with both hands above her head, her heart alight with joy.

As the feral danced she glanced over at her opponent. To his credit, the big skeleton had some rhythm, but his only dance move seemed to be stamping his feet in alternation while he moved his fists around in a horizontal circle. “Might as well give up,” Nadia sang. “I got this in the bag!”

“...I know,” the skeleton said in a rumbly sigh, barely audible over the music and clamor of bones. “I really just wanted to dance with a pretty girl one more time.”

For a brief moment, Nadia’s heart sank. She realized that she was being cocky and mean. These undead had nothing on her, true, but that was what they’d been reduced to, trapped in this purgatorial rave for who knows how long. As the song continued, Nadia composed herself and bounced over. She took the surprised skeleton by the hands and stretched them out, then started dancing together with him, both of them jumping around in a circle facing one another around the center point where their hands met. The skeleton’s astonishment quickly gave way to something like joy. For the rest of Cinderella Step they danced together, sometimes in circles, other times facing one another. As Nadia grooved, either from side to side with her hands on her hips or above her head, sometimes drumming her fists on one side or the other, her partner went along with her as best he could. All too soon the song came to an end, with Nadia the victor (and by a lot), but the defeated skeleton seemed happy. Nadia blew a kiss his way, not as a taunt but as consolation, and as he returned to the sidelines she looked for her next opponent.

Her next opponent, however, found her. A pint-sized, fox-eared necromancer confronted her suddenly. “You big meanie!” she began, crossing her arms in a fierce manner. “You’ve been bullying the skeletons! Why don’t you pick on someone your own size!”

Amused, Nadia crouched down to talk to the kid face-to-face. “That supposed to be you, teensy? Got a bone to pick with me, do ya?”

The necromancer bristled. “Dance-off. Right here, right now! When you lose, I’m gonna add you you to my skelepals!” She then lowered her gaze, seemingly addressing Nadia’s skeleton directly. “Hold on pal, Reva’s gonna free you!”

That’s…weird. Nadia stood up, a little creeped out. This kid Reva must be a contractor. Well, she was literally asking for it. “Sorry kiddo, my skeleton’s mine. Make no bones about it!”

Right away the next song started up, and it was more fast-paced EDM, albeit with a somewhat whimsical, otherworldly feel about it. Nadia got going straight away, trying something new with a plan in mind. Rather than go at an uncomfortably fast pace that didn’t leave her any time to think like with the first track, she timed her dance to every other beat, giving her more freedom while also staying on-beat. Now that she’d gotten warmed up, her dance came easily to her, so she could spice things up a little with new flourishes. Reva, meanwhile, was doing her best. She was kicking her legs with good timing, her staff held in both hands and raised over her head, but there weren’t any more layers to her dance. It was as straightforward as the song, with childish simplicity. When she realized that she wouldn’t win like this, though, the little necromancer had an ace up her sleeve.

“Where are my skelepals!?” Reva cried, summoning a bunch of skeletons from the crowd. They formed up around her, facing a rather intrigued Nadia. “Rattle ‘em, boys!” she squeaked.

The jewel in her staff lit up, and the skeletons began to dance, mimicking Reva’s movements in perfect sync. Their moves might not be any more complex, but the spectacle of the skele-gang dancing was definitely winning them points. “Quantity over quality, huh?” Nadia muttered, another Great Idea forming in her head. “Well, I can do you one better!”

She tucked her hands beneath her arms and detached them, then pointed her stumps upward. From them issued six blasts of blood, three apiece, and as they descended they became crimson Copycats to back Nadia up. Reva watched in dismay as the sanguine squad went to work, dancing with renewed energy to steal the show. All eyes quickly turned from the skeletons to the catgirls as they dialed their charm up a notch, their dance even more enchanting than Reva’s necromancy. As the little girl’s focus dwindled, so too did her hold on her skeletons, until her crew was little more than a bumbling mosh pit. Any semblance of a fighting chance Reva had got quickly drowned out, and when the song concluded, Nadia was the winner.

“Sorry, fellas!” The feral grinned, absorbing her copycats as the disappointed skeletons began to disperse. It was hard to tell if she felt lightheaded from blood loss or the thrill of victory. “Betcha you’ll feel that one to-marrow, eh?”

Reva just stood there, pouting and fuming. Though she’d only lost the three hundred points Nadia earned so far, the wound to her pride hurt a lot more. “J-just you wait, you big bully! I’m gonna go find more skelepals, and when we get back you’re boned!”

As she stormed off, Nadia sauntered off the dance floor to take a one-song break. When she checked her points, she found that Reva had been worth a decent chunk; her total now rested comfortably at 4600. “Guess that gimmick really works most of the time,” she murmured, her eyebrows raised. Still, she had a ways to go before she got to ten thousand. Her eyes narrowed as she looked up toward the Floorboss of this room, which appeared to be an octopus with a variety of instruments in its tentacles. If this was a musical competition she might have been afraid, but how well could an overgrown mollusc really dance? When the current song concluded and she got her breath back, Nadia stepped onto the dance floor once more. She put one hand on her hip, pointed the other at the eight-armed DJ, and raised her voice. “Hey, cephalo-clod!” she yelled. “Your music stinks. I’d rate it a solid sea-minus! You’d be better off as seafood, but even then, you’d be tako-yucky!”

The records scratched as the room went quiet in a chorus of gasps. Immediately, the leviathan sank down behind the DJ booth and burst from the water-filled side of the dance floor, causing the tiles to break and expose a pit of dark water. Some bystanders fell into the water and sank into the deep as the crowd hurried to vacate the dance floor, but though her heart rate quickened, Nadia wasn’t worried. A new track began to play, jazzy and exciting. “Let’s dance, dumbo.”

When the battle began, Nadia got back into the swing of things fast, but things took an unexpected turn. Two of Coral Riff’s arms, the ones with violins, retracted beneath the water and then erupted near Nadia’s position. She looked up at them as she grooved, one eyebrow raised, and promptly one arm swung its instruments right into her. “Oof!” Winded and on one knee, the feral didn’t recover in time to respond to the other arm, and with a slash from its bow it sent her flying back. Nadia slid to a stop at the edge of the dance floor and struggled to get up, blood flowing from the big slice on her cheek. “That’s sea-sharp,” she groaned, wiping the blood off with the back of her hand as the wound began to close. Her teeth flashed in a dangerous grin. “But nothing major.” As much as she wanted to strike back, she knew she couldn’t, so Nadia got back to her feet and resumed her dance. Coral Riff, meanwhile, sent out its drum arms to attack her. She leaped out of the way and landed with a flourishing spin. So that’s how it’s gonna be. And here I thought I might actually have to dance.

Her adversary had taken her by surprise, but once she knew the score, the cat burglar knew what to do. Even without risking the use of a Charge that could electrocute the water and count as fighting, Nadia had plenty of mobility. Coral Riff’s limbs just couldn’t keep up with her, especially since they needed to dive down and emerge elsewhere to reposition. As the song went on the tentacles tore up the dance floor literally, but unfortunately for the seabeast Nadia could completely nullify its gameplan as Massachusetts’ power let her float on the water. If anything, sliding across the surface made the feral’s dance moves even more elegant and fluid. Try as it might to crush its foe, it quickly became apparent that Coral Riff didn’t have anything else up its proverbial sleeves. Nadia dodged each strike without missing a beat; all that crushing force went to waste. “Wow, if Reva was here you coulda had a-flat minor,” she snarked, gracefully evading yet another drum slam. “Me though? I’ll never b-flat!”

After just over two minutes, the fun came to an end. Out of time and thoroughly out-performed, the giant octopus could do little but sulk and sink down beneath the water, chased off by the cheers of the audience for Nadia Fortune. After cruising to the edge of the pool, Nadia stood triumphant among the hyped-up skeletons. “That was a bad joke,” she announced, grinning. “If an octopus wants to make me laugh, you’ll need at least ten tickles!”

The skeletons around her chattered with laughter. One of them, though, crossed his arms. “But Coral Riff only has eight limbs?”

That thing’s called Coral Riff? This place is a pun paradise. Turning toward the skeleton in question, Nadia wiggled her eyebrows. “That’s true. The first two are just test-tickles!”

Uproarious laughter greeted the off-color joke, and Nadia was loving it. She was tired, wet, and more than a little bedraggled, but it seemed like she’d managed to earn the adoration of the crowd, and as the dance floor magically repaired itself, they gathered around her demanding an encore from the kitty as witty as she was pretty. More than that, though, the feral had earned more than enough points to take on the NecroDancer. She could proceed at her leisure to the NecroDancer’s private club to challenge him alongside Bowser, Junior, Kamek, Rika, Sectonia, Primrose, and Therion. But since Coral Riff was spooling up another song anyway, she couldn’t possibly let down her adoring fans. Once more dance couldn’t hurt.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

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Grift of the NecroDancer

Level 12 Nadia (76/120)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC
Group Word Count: 1820 (+3)

Bit by bit, the Seekers scattered throughout the Crypt amassed the requisite points and made their way to their final destination. Finding it wasn’t exactly difficult to begin with, but by now the heroes found no shortage of undead denizens only too happy to point them in the right direction. Even in the short time they’d been here so far, the newcomers were attracting a lot of attention. Fresh meat was a hot commodity in this bizarre sepulcher, and from the outset the some of the new contractors’ hungriest and most hopeful predecessors were out for blood, gunning for the Seekers in order to win a new lease of life. Rather than fall prey to the horde, however, the newcomers danced their way through a handful of high-profile victories, not only squashing a couple rival contractors but even knocking a couple Floorbosses down a peg. Frankensteinway, the Dead Ringer, and Coral Riff were no pushovers, after all. Though some undead were jealous, many were now rooting for the Seekers, especially the three who outmaneuvered Floorbosses: Bowser, Primrose, and Ms. Fortune. Hyped up by the newcomers’ meteoric rise, the dead knew just what was in store and couldn’t wait to see it; even if salvation might be beyond their reach, they could live vicariously through the Seekers as they went on to contest, trounce, and regain their souls from the NecroDancer.

Nadia and the others scarcely needed to ask directions; the tide of bones, ectoplasm, and rotting flesh practically swept them all the way to the lich’s lair. Before long, she came to a stop in a grand, vaulted throne room of dark stone brick, evil black spikes, crimson banners, and infernal flame. A steady beat filled the place that dictated the flutter of firelight and tapestry alike, just audible enough to build anticipation for now, as the undead spread out to create a perimeter around the dance floor. On the far side of the room, watching the horde filter in with a deep scowl upon his face, was the NecroDancer himself. He was bald, gray-bearded, noseless, and vividly red-eyed, with only the thinnest veneer of shrunken blue skin stretched over his bones. His black robes and fancy shoulder pads were complimented by a magnificent mantle of rich ruby red, though, with a collar of suitably impressive height. Somehow, he looked exactly how Nadia pictured him.

Next to the NecroDancer floated an opulent golden lute, awash in the purple aura of sorcery, and to either side of his throne lay huge shelves full of parchment scrolls, no doubt all his ill-gotten contracts. Quite the track record, Nadia thought, crossing her arms as she met the NecroDancer’s eyes. Too bad we’re gonna smash it today. As they sized one another up, she put on a confident smirk, as if to say ‘I thought you’d be bigger’. With both her wins and her friends at her back, she could afford to be a little cocky. She, Primrose, Bowser, and Sectonia had all danced their way here to the finish line, while Junior, Kamek, Rika and Therion waited in the wings. Somehow, the thief had managed to repossess his soul all on his own, which both surprised and made perfect sense to Nadia at the same time. If there was some clever loophole or workaround, of course that clever conniver would find it. Only Artorias abstained, which also made sense. No matter how hard she tried, the feral couldn’t picture that edgy, angsty antihero tearing up the dance floor. For now, everyone had a few moments to speak before they posed their official challenge to the NecroDancer.

In that lull, one other familiar face put in an appearance. “Room for one more?” a bright, high voice chirped from behind the Seekers. When they turned, they found the tall ears, fluffy tail, and winning smile of a certain foxian beauty: the Crypt’s Amicassador, Tingyun. She winked at them. “I knew I had a good feeling about you, benefactors! After seeing you for myself, I couldn’t help but want to tag along.” When she snapped her fingers, ghostly wisps gave rise to the realization that since Therion saw her last, the fan-dancer had earned herself another 1100 points, putting her at ten thousand exactly.

Nadia grinned. After Reva it was nice to see a friendly foxgirl for a change. “The more the merrier!”

Therion hadn't expected to see her here, especially not as a competitor, figuring that she might as well have been part of the "staff." But, no, seeing as she'd lost her soul just like the rest of the unlucky people who'd been trying to pass through, it made sense that she'd take the best opportunity given to her to win it back. With that train of thought he was surprised more random contractors didn't throw their lots in with the Seekers.

"It can't hurt anyway. Join the conga line."

Sectonia looked over the area, not really enjoying the massive amount of undead. “Well, I suppose the fact that this one relies on trickery instead of raw power is shown evidently with the company he keeps. But speaking of trickery, I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of it.” Sectonia said, musing at the past couple hours.

”Can’t fault the guy’s style though, this is a great final boss chamber” Bowser commented, before adding that ”and yeah, I’d almost be disappointed if he doesn't one up his floor boss” apparently in full badguy critic mode.

”Well or the style of someone else Galeem gave him” Kamek replied inorder to kick their foe down a few pegs, before suggesting ”Speaking of trickery, perhaps it would help if we held back on our intervention unless things looked dire? You know, keep the exact numbers of our forces obscured till the final moment”

“This is a good ‘final boss’ chamber? It's just a crypt with some drapes. Where are the neon lights, or the dramatic moon backdrop, or the opulent crystals. It's a ‘mid boss’ at best.” Sectonia said, giving her own criticisms.

Nadia stared at the two blankly. “The heck’re you guys talkin’ about? Shouldn’t we be…I dunno, strategizin’?” She glanced over at Tingyun. “You oughta know somethin’, right? Anyone ever fight… uh, I mean, dance against this skele-bum before?”

Tingyun tapped a slender finger against her cheek thoughtfully. “Why certainly, my noble benefactor. However, the NecroDancer is a most daunting opponent. In addition to possessing destructive sorceries, he can leverage those unfortunate contractors whose souls have been devoured to support him.” She narrowed her eyes at the ghoulish lich. “Of course, having lost everything once already, I have no intention of tasting such bitterness again. If we’re able to win our souls back and escape with our lives, it’ll be a first for the Crypt. Better late than never~”

“So it’s just like the Floorbosses?” Nadia received a nod from the Amicassador, then smiled glumly. “And here I was thinkin’ we’d actually have to out-dance him. Figures.”

Primrose looked from Tingyun to the NecroDancer. After seeing the bosses that she and Nadia went up against she'd had a feeling that the NecroDancer might be more of the same, but to have it confirmed left her feeling disappointed.

"I hope I'm not the only one let down by all this," she said. Nadia nodded her agreement.

“Hm? Were the floor bosses not just a more complex dance fight?” Sectonia said, catching a hint of what Nadia had just said. Unlike the others, she took the slow safer path of dealing with other contractors than going straight for a floor boss like the others.

Nadia chuckled wryly. “Nah, they just try and kill ya. Can’t dance on ‘em if you’re dead I guess.”

”And I suppose much like the other dancers, you can’t fight back. Wonderful….” Sectonia said, rolling her eyes in a sarcastic tone.

”I would not be surprised if he would be as bad at that as the other undead seem to be. Quite the hypocrite really, creating a dance based dungeon when he is incapable of doing so. Perhaps he is sour about that, which is why he has built this place to strip the talent from others” Kamek psychoanalysised rather loudly.

"You think so?" A man yearning to express himself but being unable to might have cut a tragic figure, if not for the whole stealing souls thing. She appraised the lich sitting on his throne, a subtle smirk forming on her face. "Then I suppose he really won't like being shown up."

"The motive doesn't matter," Therion pointed out. "Just beating him at his own game."

”Strategy wise, I dunno. Maybe if Sec goes first she can use her speed up power on people once she’s got her soul back?” Jr, who was the tactical stratgist of the troop’s sub group depite his being a wreckless kid, suggested ”It’d make playing keep away way easier for everyone, that is for sure”

“Well if you insist…” Sectonia said, taking the bite of flattery and offering to go first. Even so, she knew herself that Primrose at least was better than her at this, so at least the group had that in their back pockets. She did mention softly to Jr.s plan, almost inaudibly for the others. “Although I am not sure you all will even need my assistance in that manner…”

As the Seekers approached with Sectonia in the lead, the clattering and groaning dead grew quiet as the grave. All eyes (or eye sockets, as it were) lay on the NecroDancer, and after a moment, the lich stood up from his throne. “So. These are the intrepid newcomers garnering fame in my Crypt, come to die,” he rasped, his voice a bone-dry, papery growl full of menace. His red eyes narrowed at Tingyun. “And I had such high hopes for you, my Amicassador. Was one undeath not enough?”

Tingyun stared back at him coolly. “Aw, let’s not fight~”

“Hmph.” The NecroDancer turned his attention to Sectonia. “You’re the first, then? Let’s get this over with.” He raised a bony hand and snapped his fingers to start the music.

"Good luck," Primrose bid the queen.

"I'd say break a leg but, you know."

Sectonia nodded, acknowledging the gesture. To be frank, she was nervous, but she wasn’t going to show that to anyone here and steeled her resolve for this ‘dance fight’.

Starting with a slower song it seemed, at least this ‘NecroDancer’ had taste. The other club music she had been dancing to was… fine she supposed, but this was more something she preferred. Perhaps he knew what his opponents would like, but as to why she didn’t know. Maybe a way to drop their guard?

Out of everyone in the group, Sectonia was the weakest of their dancers. Still, she wasn’t going to let some ugly creature beat her grace. Although unlike the others, she didn’t actually fight a floor boss, so she wasn’t aware of their unique mechanics of being able to attack while they dance. Her opponents had passively done their attacks while they danced, but this was more deliberate.

Unfortunately for her, the slow start to the song made it difficult to actually dodge the attacks of the NecroDancer and still keep herself on beat. While he didn’t start with any minions, only himself, that didn’t really matter too much. In fact, he seemed to not even care too much about dancing, only giving minimal effort. This let him concentrate his attacks on the queen. Getting hit by chain lightning and icicle rain wasn’t the best feeling, but she at least had a great amount of magic resistance so she only took half damage from them. She could at least teleport away from the occasional slower spell as the NecroDancer took advantage of Sectonia’s inability to really dance away from his spells. Still though, she had to enact her magical barrier from her pipe of insight to not take too much damage from an oncoming large fireball as the song finally went to the chorus.

And as if on cue, the Necrodancer summoned two minions with a showmanship flourish, a Golden Bat and a dancing mummy to join in as the song went from a slow organ waltz to something far more energetic. If she wasn’t dancing for her ‘soul’ as it were, Sectonia would actually applaud this undead fiend’s choice in music as the rock guitar paired with the organ was something she liked and for a moment she kept up with the accelerated beat of the song once the guitar dropped unaided, using her wings to flutter to the faster instrument of the guitar while still doing her waltz movement to the organ.

She found herself flying a bit higher over the battlefield than she was before with her ‘excitement’. This faster pace also allowed her far more opportunities to teleport in order to dodge attacks. The NecroDancer meanwhile, had stopped with his vague dancing and was just attempting to strike down this giant bee with more rapid spell casting as his minions attempted to approach Sectonia, but only the bat could get any damage in as she was too high for the mummy and its backup dancer, another mummy, to hit with their attacks.

The NecroDancer, meanwhile, used her height advantage to hit her with harder to dodge icicle rains or lightning strikes. While Sectonia had more opportunities to dodge with her teleport, the increased stress plus her lack of dance experience put her off-beat, which really messed with her teleport timings and made her get hit roughly every other attack. Upon noticing this after getting hit twice, she summoned her Chaos Shield, which absorbed a large amount of damage for her for its duration.

And then the song sped up, again. Considering how difficult she was finding it to dance on beat already, and how the Necrodancer didn’t even need to follow the beat to do anything, Sectonia needed to use what she had been using previously to out-dance the other contractors, her Hsate. While still fast, the song had slowed down a bit to roughly when it started to enter the chorus, even if it sounded really distorted now. But now wasn’t the time to enjoy the music, but to keep herself on beat so she stopped taking so much damage from the various fireballs, icicles, thunder, and the occasional rock thrown her way. Sure her Chaos Shield was durable, but it did have a limit and she really didn’t want to have it expire too soon as she really didn’t know when the song was going to end, it just seemed to keep on going and going.

The necrodancer noticed Sectonia’s use of haste, although probably a bit too late. This intruder had gone from being very off beat, to keeping up with the song now? He was frustrated with her defensive magic and now something to speed her up? He was tired of this nonsense, and unlike Sectonia, he knew the end of the song was coming up. He wasn’t going to lose to some… Amateur that cheated to win. And with the song on its slower end where it started to finish, the NecroDancer channeled a big spell and having gotten used to how she blinked on certain beats, hit her with a massive necro blast before the song finished.

Sectonia meanwhile had only gotten a small boost from her Haste, and it wore off at an inappropriate time, the blast connecting and shattering the remains of her shield and dealing some nasty damage. She was still flying as it were as the smoke cleared and the song ended, with Sectonia barely, barely beating the NecroDancer as a lot of her off beat moves were during the part of the song worth massive points. But with the lich playing with his food as it were and hoping he could finish her off before the song ended to claim another soul, he underestimated the Queen's hardiness however.

Still, Sectonia was showing signs of damage after tanking so many attacks, having difficulty toughing out the damage she had taken. She would heal in time, using a combination of her Pipe of Inisght’s passive regeneration and her new barkskin ability that increased her health regeneration, but it was a close one in both regards.

“Whoooooooo! Hell yeah!” Nadia cheered along with the koopa troop and a whole crowd of undead as everyone went nuts. Sectonia might be feeling angry and sore, but she’d managed to achieve something remarkable: defeating the NecroDancer in his once-sided dance-off, despite all the cards stacked in his favor.

Understandably, the NecroDancer did not share the Seekers’ nor the audience’s enthusiasm. With a deep scowl, he addressed the bug that beat him. “...I will return your soul after this.”

Individual Count: 1071 (+2)

Hidden 9 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 4 hrs ago

Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Quarantine Valley- Sector V

Lvl 10 (198/100) +7 EXP -> Lvl 10 (208/100)

Lvl 4 (65/40) +7 EXP -> Lvl 4 (75/240)

Word Count: 1,303 words (Geralt); 2,279 words (Zenkichi)

Kyle took the removal of his Gleaming in stride, cackling with glee at the fight they'd given him. The other Seekers had fared quite well in their own fights as well, and Kyle beckoned them further into the Hermits' hideout, both Phantom and White Wolf giving each other a look along the lines of 'What's up with this guy?' before following him inside.

Once they got into the Hermits' information center, with views all over the city that gave Zenkichi pause (The Administration surely had even better eyes than this, but to see it all at once was outright disturbing) and almost blew Geralt's mind. The Witcher's eyes darted all across the monitors, but most of the places in question he had no frame of reference for. "Hell of a setup you've got here..." Zenkichi muttered.

While the two were distracted, Kyle started his explanation, prompted to get right to the thick of things by Goldlewis. They almost missed the name of the drug, but once they realized they'd been left behind in the conversation, paid rapt attention. Blue Evolve, a drug capable of allowing the user to see Chimeras, as well as enhancing the user's physical strength. Zenkichi idly wondered if there was a come-down, and if Hermitonic was a way to get around that side effect. He'd ask once they were done.

With a little more back-and-forth, including Kyle explaining the Hermits' view of Reunion being that of an ally in the cause of protecting the weak within Midgar, the Hermit leader finished by offering a lead on Iron. In the form of a bag that she'd used. Geralt hummed, eyeing the bag. If all else failed, he could likely track her a bit with that.

With the group being dismissed, Zenkichi came up to Kyle with a question. "Hey. I was wondering if you could tell me a little more about that Blue Evolve stuff. Does it have, like, a high or a crash? I was talking with a guy about that Hermitonic stuff before we came round, and it got me wondering where you came up with the idea for that stuff."

Kyle shook his head when asked about Blue Evolve. "Nah, that stuff's just a straight power-up against the chimeras. Don't know the science behind it, and don't care. It lets us do what we have to." When Zenkichi mentioned Hermitonic, his holographic face smiled. "Oh, that? Just a little harmless grifting. After people see the insane price, hearin' about an exclusive membership to get it for cheap drives 'em crazy. Gotta be on the 'in' crowd, y'know?"

He received a chuckle in response. "Heh, sure. All the Hermitonic you want for a measly 10 Z apiece. Just don't ask what's in it. Go nuts."

Well, that was easy. "Thanks, Kyle." Zenkichi gave in response, though he definitely was not about to think any more on what was in that stuff.

Joining back with the others, he mentioned what he'd been told, adding on that he wondered if the Hermits were being taken advantage of, or if Reunion was genuinely just trying to help. He wasn't 100% sure himself, but part of him doubted it was just idle kindness. "Just seems too good to be true."

"Then it probably is." Geralt cynically added, making Zenkichi sigh and nod.

"Yeah, probably. Just wish people would be a little more willing to help each other out, I guess." Geralt grunted in response, nodding with him.

When Sandalphon asked if anybody had a way to track Iron, and Goldlewis gave his half-sarcastic response, Geralt piped up. "Actually, you kept one on hand." Gesturing for the bag, he closed his eyes, lifted it to his face and took a long, slow breath, trying to get the scent in his head. It reminded him vaguely of the perfumes Yennefer wore. Not that the scents themselves were similar, but in their intensity and complexity. After a few moments, he caught it in the air. "This way," He told the others, and started following the scent. Goldlewis came along, while the others went their own ways, searching the rooftops in case they could find other leads, enemies to collect Spirits from, or salvage such as the freighter that Sandalphon pointed out while they were on their way.

Hal and Sandalphon's warning regarding the red matter came just before Geralt reached the area they called out, and he nodded to himself, quickly casting the Sign of Quen to shield himself before investigating. Signs of a fight immediately stood out to him: the blood, some locks of hair, and a broken vial of a blue substance that Geralt immediately figured as Blue Evolve. Crouching to investigate the drug, he dipped his fingers into it before thinking to himself. If that red matter was a Chimera nearby, he and Goldlewis were sitting ducks. Disgusting as it was, he put his fingers into his mouth and quickly sucked the drug off of them. He shivered a moment as the reality of what he was doing set in on him, before taking his hand away and shaking his head. "Not how I expected today to go, but...Fuck!"

Interrupted by a lance being thrust his way, Geralt barely had time to pivot to the side, the Chimera's weapon skidding along his chest and scraping against the magical shield Quen gave. "Chimera!" He yelled, both to Goldlewis and to Sandalphon and Hal on overwatch, before drawing his silver sword. There was still a bit of Blue Evolve on the ground that Goldlewis could take if he was so inclined, as gross as it was. Quickly stepping towards it and drawing the Sign of Yrden, Geralt placed an Area Trap down, hoping it would reveal and slow the otherworldly monster as it did wraiths and spectres.

Boosted by the Blue Evolve, Ydren did its trick, even against the otherworldly Chimera. Fragments of purple magic clung to the creature, revealing it slightly more and slowing its movements. The little amount of Blue Evolve Geralt had consumed still left it somewhat fuzzy, even with the magic's effect on it. The Witcher charged in as Laius attempted to heft its shield sluggishly, but it was too slow to prevent the first cut from the silver sword slicing into the monster's torso. The large Chimera attempted to retaliate with a sweeping slash of its lance, but Geralt pivoted around its shield arm, the slowing of Yrden giving him just enough time to escape unscathed. "Now!" He called to the Secretary of Defense, cutting at the Chimera with a rising slash while Goldlewis attacked, having also taken the drug that was left on the rooftop.

He followed up with a series of quick slashes to its back while Goldlewis had the Chimera's attention, before the Yrden trap fizzled out and the Laius lashed out at Geralt with a swing of its shield. The creature was still somewhat slow even without the trap, but the difference was enough to catch the Witcher ever so slightly off guard, and he caught the shield on an armored arm, grunting as it weakened the Quen shield. This Chimera didn't seem terribly tough, though without the Blue Evolve the pair would have had a much tougher time even finding it, let alone fighting the thing.

Still, the two-on-one fight was more than in their favor, and after a hearty pummeling from Goldlewis and a vicious stab through the torso from Geralt's silver sword, the Chimera slumped slightly before dissolving into ash and leaving its Spirit behind. Taking it, Geralt looked at the blood on the ground that had originally caught his attention. "Looks like Iron had a run-in with something. We'll have to keep following the scent, but best to let the others know what we found."

Zenkichi chose to investigate the lower area, between the clustered-up buildings, that Sandalphon had warned about not having sight into. In his Phantom Thief attire, he kept a watchful eye out and his ears open as he looked around, before the sounds of crying caught his attention.

It didn't take Zenkichi long to track down the source of the weeping. After a couple small drops down into the shadowy street, he zeroed in on a handful of rusty old metal oil drums sitting in a corner. Though the culprit had tried to hide himself there, he'd compensated for the less-than-stellar spot by hunkering down and covering his eyes as if to block out whatever scared him snow. Plus, his sniffles and intermittent cries would've given him away to any monsters on the prowl around here. Not that Zenkichi had seen anything just yet; in fact, this strange recess seemed unnaturally quiet, without any trace of aberrations or Others, but its ominous atmosphere made him wary. "Agh!" the young boy yelped at the sound of footsteps, ducking his head. "G-get away!"

"Whoa, hey, relax! I'm just looking around, not gonna hurt you or anything, kid!" Memories of a very unsuccessful attempt at reassuring a lost child prompted a quick change of strategy, and Zenkichi crouched a bit to bring himself closer to eye level. "Are you alright?"

The sound of a human voice seemed to calm the child, and when he looked up to see a normal -if weirdly dressed- human standing before him, his relief was palpable. "Y-you found me," he quavered, his cheeks wet with tears. "Thank you, thank you. Are you a Hermit? Either way, you have to help, please. There's a ghost!" He stood and stared at Zenkichi with pleading eyes. "My name is Aurele. I'm usually studying, but my brother Verut, and our friend Lovi, whenever they want to play hide-and-seek, I always end up tagging along. We came out to play, but we ended up hearing this ghostly voice. Verut and Lovi wanted to track it down, even though I said it was a bad idea. We ended up falling down here, and...there's ghosts down here! When the big one spooked them, Verut and Lovi disappeared! I ran as fast as I could, but I can't get out of here. You have to save the others. I've heard that the Hermits can fight ghosts. Please!"

"Uh, yeah, I'm working with the Hermits. Not, like, technically one, but I'm friends with them. Your buddies disappeared, that's not good. Don't worry, though, I'm a cop from Midgar. My name's Zenkichi. Came down here to help you guys out, since everybody else ignores this place. I'll find your friends, promise!" Admitting his being a cop was probably not the best idea, but Aurele was too excited and anxious to scrutinize that further. "So, where were you playing hide and seek? I'll start there."

"I'll show you, Mr Zenkichi." Aurele said, pointing down the street. "You'll keep me safe, right?"

"Of course, Aurele! I won't let anything hurt you." Zenkichi promised, starting to walk in the direction Aurele pointed. As they walked, Zenkichi could catch glimpses out of his corner of the eye of a shadowy figure, though he never got enough of a look to quite see exactly what they looked like. He kept his hands at his waist, ready to draw his revolvers if needed, but they made it to the end of the street without issue.

Scattered around the end of the street in piles were couches, tables, chairs, all sorts of furniture that one would find in any random person's home. As a chill went down Zenkichi's spine, two creatures, Nya'gai, appeared in front of Zenkichi and Aurele, staring at the young boy. Zenkichi's eyes narrowed at the appearance of the strange and ominous children, but before he could say anything, they stepped to the side, and from the darkness appeared Lady Nya'gai. As she came into view, the strange, haunting melody vanished, her singing ending and her eyes opening to a horrific gaze. Zenkichi found his point of view suddenly shifted, and a quick inspection of himself revealed why: he'd been transformed into one of the Nya'gai!

Whirling around, he saw that Aurele had transformed into one of the creatures, as well, and he turned back on Lady Nya'gai. "What did you do to us?!" He demanded, angrily. Lady Nyagai only looked at him, confusion in her gaze at first, and then anger as she pointed angrily at him and commanded the other Nya'gai to attack. Cursing in frustration, Zenkichi reached for his revolvers, only to blink in confusion as nothing appeared. Whatever she did to transform him, his weapons were all gone. As an umbrella crashed into his back, Zenkichi turned to see the five Nya'gai attacking, scowling. "No way am I getting beat up by a bunch of little girls! Valjean!" Zenkichi cried, a sigh of relief escaping when his Persona heeded his call. "Rakukaja!" As the defense boost bolstered his small body, Zenkichi became a veritable juggernaut against the...ghostly little girls.

Frankly, their umbrella smacks barely hurt before, and likely only because of his transformation. With magic protecting him, Zenkichi felt almost nothing as he caught one umbrella in his hands, pitifully wrestling it out of his assailant's hands with superior skill, and tried to throw it out of the fight, only for it to land a measely ten feet away.

Okay, new strategy: fight the Lady. Ducking out of the way of a couple of swings, Zenkichi pointed at Lady Nya'gai and called for Valjean to unleash Megido, the magical explosion dealing a serious amount of damage to the frail brainwasher. Lady Nya'gai recoiled in pain before pointing at one of her little minions, stealing its life force while the Nya'gai slumped over, drained to the point of collapse, but not quite death. "Wow, Lady, that's just...cruel."

Quickly grappling with another of the Nya'gai minions and stealing its umbrella, Zenkichi shoved the thing over to the side and ran at Lady Nya'gai, two-handing the umbrella and whacking her ineffectually about the head and body. The other Nya'gai ran in to do the same to Zenkichi, but he called on Valjean to hit Lady Nya'gai, and only her, with a Megido. Leaving her on the edge of the blast radius to not hurt the other Nya'gai, which he recognized as brainwashed victims, meant the attack didn't hit as hard as it could, but the Lady's frailty meant she had to drain another Nya'Gai, though this time she took everything, killing the thrall.

"How dare you!" Zenkichi shouted, Fury burning through his veins, and he could feel his tiny body getting stronger as each swing of the umbrella came easier and more quickly, little blasts of energy crashing into Lady Nya'gai. She cried out for the Nya'gai to take Zenkichi down, but a call for a final Megido to crash into the group sealed their fates, Lady Nya'gai fading into ash along with one of the other Nya'gai, the only thing left behind a couple of Spirits.

Aurele and Zenkichi found themselves transformed back into their original bodies, and despair wormed its way into Zenkichi's heart when the other remaining Nya'gai, including the heavily weakened one off to the side, just...stood there. One looked at him vacantly, before turning to stare at a nearby wall, eyes empty.

"Oh..." Zenkichi muttered, turning to look at Aurele, who was starting to piece things together. "I'm so sorry, kid..." he managed to get out, walking over to Aurele and putting his hand on his shoulder. "I'm gonna try to see if I can find your friends, still, okay? Can you get back to Sector V on your own?" He asked, quickly trying to try and salvage what he could from the situation. He wasn't sure if Aurele realized what had happened to his friends, yet, but the boy nodded.

"Uh, yeah, I can get back. I'll run home and...wait for them, I guess? I...thank you for saving me from that thing..." Aurele shuddered as he thanked Zenkichi, who nodded.

"Of course, Aurele. Of course. Run home, and don't look back. I'm gonna take care of this here, alright?" When Aurele nodded and started running, Zenkichi stood up, running his head over his face and saying. "Damn...damn monster." Looking at the Spirits left behind, Zenkichi sighed and collected them, looking around at the miscellaneous junk that had piled up, presumably from Lady Nya'gai's victims. Rifling through the leftover belongings, Zenkichi morosely pocketed some things that looked valuable, and a few that looked sentimental, wondering where they came from. Who they came from. Then he turned around, looking at the lost and dazed Nya'gai that remained.

The sound of three gunshots rang out, and Zenkichi left Nya'gai street alone, carrying an even heavier weight than he entered with. "Halo, Wolf here. I checked out the lower levels. Encountered a...I don't know what the hell that was. Ghost. Thing. It's dealt with. Keep an eye out on that kid that's running back to Sector V, will you?" His voice was slower, more deliberate than she was likely used to. "Where are we rendezvousing at?"
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Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
Avatar of Archmage MC

Archmage MC

Member Seen 3 days ago


Robot Girls

Level 3 Roland - (0/40) Level up! Learned EGO Pages.
Level 12 Blazermate (Holding 3 level up) - (53/120)
Level 6 Susie - (12/60) - (Holding 3 level up)
Location: Sector 9
Word Count: 1006

Well, that fight happened. Blazermate thought it was unnecessary, since they were all in it to make the city better and beat this ever crisis right? Roland held no hard feelings, as that was just how things went, and Susie was more annoyed than anything. At least these hermits gave Roland the ammo he needed for his new crossbow and more ammo for his gun. Susie meanwhile looked around the base for anything worthwhile. Seeing as they traded in intel, perhaps she'd hear something juicy. Although to be fair, they already had a goal in mind. And Blazermate healed up the hurt Hermits, seeing as they were allies now.

Looking about the ruins outside the hermit base, there were a few locations of interest their sniper angel looked out for. One caught the interest of Susie and Roland, a large robot called a Tyrant. It was said to be guarding some supplies, and no one was sure what those were. But they would be valuable, and the robot itself was greatly damaged already.

Having learned that he could make weapons from creatures, Roland was more willing to fight the damaged Tyrant, but only with support. He had that support though, as Susie was interested in what it was guarding and Blazermate wasn't hard for Susie to convince, as the medabot even though she was complaining earlier about having to fight the hermits was fine helping her friends. And it was a good thing that Blazermate came, as her projectile shield would make the Tyrant's ranged weapons fairly useless for a short time. And with Blazermate being able to pre buff both Roland and Susie, and charge her own abilities in the meanwhile at her own request. "Usually we get jumped, its rare we get time for me to get all fully charged like this." Blazermate said. Having seen her abilities firsthand, there weren't any complaints from Susie or Roland.

Their assault wasn't purely stealthy however. While they could get ready, once they started to advance on the Tyrant, it went into defensive mode. As Blazermate and Susie flew to advance while Roland had to run along the ground, the Tyrant opened up with its attacks much like they thought it would. With her shield charged, Blazermate simply deployed her projectile shield to nullify the anti air missiles headed the team's way. Even the Plasma cannon got evaporated by the projectile shield, giving the team an easy time getting in melee range.

And oh boy once that distance was closed, everyone went to business. Sure Blazermate's projectile shield didn't last much beyond the initial rush up, but thats all the group needed. In melee range, its frontal cannon was completely useless as while it could turn, the rest of the team was too fast for it to get a shot off. And as it only had limited missiles, soon realizing that the blue shield like object that the one robot had used seemed to blink them out of existence, waiting for the shield to go down to use the rest. Susie flew about on her transporter, keeping to its side and shooting it with her blaster, with Roland and Blazermate on the other side hitting it with Kritz.

Seeing something glowing was probably a bad thing, especially since it was cutting through its armor, or so thought the Tyrant. Well if its ranged weapons weren't going to work, it'd use its jaws and tail. Shifting its body, it struck Roland with its tail in an attempt to get him off of it. Roland's counter went off, but the tail was just a bit too strong for his current weapon and knocked him back. Seeing Roland take that hit, but being mostly fine because of his overheal, Blazermate took the opportunity as the Tyrant was recovering from its attack to smack it a couple times to get some uber, before going back to heal Roland. Susie meanwhile plunked away at the robot with her blaster, unable to get any elements due to their team composition.

Seeing an opportunity as Roland recovered, the Tyrant tried stomping on him, but Roland wasn't new to combat and rolled out of the way before retaliating with his own gun. Unlike when he was krit boosted, the damage was much lower, but there were spots to hit to at least do some kind of damage. This whole exchange gave Roland Timber, a mechanical voice saying. "I crammed all I could find into this empty canister… yet it is… still cold…" as Roland gained a surge of strength as the Tyrant was stronger than he was. It wasn't enough yet to allow Roland to overpower the giant mech, but at least his attacks would be doing more damage.

Blazermate, now being the focus of the Tyrant, got into a defensive stance with her shield up as Roland got back in to deal with the Tyrant. Seeing Blazermate as a flying target that healed, the Tyrant started to shoot missiles at her while trying to swipe at Susie with its tail. Susie's transporter let her dodge the tail swipes without much issue. Meanwhile Blazermate had to defend from an AA missile using her arm shield before Roland got back and tried to deflect a second missile going for her with his hammers. Of course the missile overpowered him, but Roland was starting to get a bit more reckless as Blazermate gave him more heals. After clashing with another kick using his large sword and only deflecting the attack, another message floated through the air as Roland got Courage, a beast like voice saying. "Friend. Oh, friends~! Let’s not be scared!" Although since there were only two allies with him, Roland only felt the normal power of his heightened emotions instead of the abnormality. Still, he wanted to get this fight all done and over with and with a couple slashes with his twin swords on a joint that exposed itself as it made another swipe at Susie, the Tyrant stumbled for a bit.

Susie saw this and took advantage, hopping into her business suit and tackling it to the ground. The trio took this opportunity to get some damage in before the Tyrant, seeing things weren't going to be easy, decided it'd spend all its missiles to get back up, making the trio not only disengage, but hitting Susie, Roland, and Blazermate's arm shield with said rockets as it got back up. Noticing Susie in her giant mech, it used its superior size to bowl her over in a charge as she was recovering form the missile strike, causing her mech ot fall over for a bit. Seeing its opportunity, it tried to shoot her with its plasma cannon and finish off one of them, but since Blazermate had been in the recent dogpile, she had gained another dose of Uber and used it to protect Susie from the devastating weapon, not only confusing the Tyrant as it thought it had gotten one them, but giving Roland an opening to strike at an exposed weak point. Which his distraction and the two invincible robot girls attacking all at once, with Blazermate being able to swap her uber to Roland if he was in danger o being attacked, the Tyrant eventually fell.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

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wordcount: 3,022 (+4) (+4)
Midna: level 9 EXP: ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (50/110)
Location: Suoh
Warp Charges: 1

”Oh for the goddess’ love, I can’t stop messing up, can I” Midna bemoaned as Hanabi figured out who’d put the hit on them, namely the braincase of a man who she’d knocked out rather than simply ended the life of.

She was not, it seemed to her, on the best streak when it came to her attempts at keeping casualties to a minimum ”This is what I get for not murdering people who annoy me I suppose.”

A lot of the following PSY-OFF intrigue discussed by the group went over her, a flurry of names she did not recognize/remember, but the last part about Raz being in trouble after he’d pursued a suspicious high ranking member of the organization, now that she didn’t need any additional details to know what to do about.

”Agreed, let’s bail the kid out.”

The appearance of the Others was something of a complication, however. It was also somewhat strange how they arrived, namely in bizarre vehicles that Midna mentally labeled as trucks rather than buses, that were suspended by balloons.

”Is that. Normal?” she started to ask, because the Other having transports was certainly pretty different when compared to the weather phenomenon they were often described as, before shaking her head, slipping on her mask, and deciding to do something about the situation instead.

”Vibrava! Fly up there and dragon fire those flying trucks and falling Others!” she commanded, as she portaled in the minion in question, launching it out of said portal to give it head-start.

“Wait, don't!” Hanabi shouted in warning, having overheard her plan, before trying to explain “The Extinction Belt’s way too low, it’s too dangerous to fly up there right now!” when Midna questioned her about it.

The princess took only a moment to heed her warning, unknowingly doing so just in time when the minion was mere moments away from doom, and recalling the pokemon via portal. It vanished from the sky, and reappeared next to her as she asked ”What’s the danger anyway. Other than getting hit by stray bolts being fired up into it.”

“I don’t know exactly, but they always ground air traffic when the belt is low, because no one who goes in ever comes back out,” the psychic explained as they kept moving towards the closest landing zone.

”Got it” the princess agreed, putting the discussion to bed, for now, but internally still wondering what the exact reason was. That question, and the one regarding the out of place air busses, then got shunted all the way to the back of her mind as they rounded a corner and came across a horde of Other tearing up the town and hunting down the populace.

They had places to be, and the other teams on the ground presumably considered them hostile, but there was absolutely no question about what they were going to do when confronted with this situation.

Without a moment's hesitation, the princess shadow stepped into the fray, blinking ahead of the rest of the Seekers whom she’d been lagging behind anyway. In a breath, she appeared in the doorway of one of the buildings along the street, right next to a family of humans in the midst of being hemmed in by a stalking trio of Vase Paws.

”Stand behind me!” Midna called out, echoing a certain lovable defender, as she leapt past them and into the fray. She dropped her Roadblock striker between the family, letting the Exosuit’s massive energy shield be their Braum, while the princess herself was all aggression.

Lunging forwards into battle, she smoothly dodged under a flying kick from one of the Paws before spinning around and quick-drawing her volcano fragment and slashed that same Paws, all in a single smooth continuous motion. The obsidian blade more or less glanced off of the vase of the Other, but that didn’t really matter, because the hit promptly set it on fire, which was ever so effective against the plant portion of the foe.

As the first burned and panicked, the second came in, trying to headbutt her with its thorny foliage. In response she met it motion for motion, swinging her own head forwards as if to headbutt as well, but instead launching her shadowhand up from her hair, slamming her palm against the head and grabbing it. They strained for a moment, till Midna first ditched her axe, before portal launching, catching, and finally unloading both her revolver and musket into it at point blank where even she couldn’t miss.

The heavy rounds wounded and unsteadied the monster just enough for her to wrench it to the side and slam it into the ground, leaving her free to drop the guns back into portals and to close in and give it a flurry of dragon claw swipes with all 4 of her hands.

Speaking of dragons, the third Paw was first blasted with Dragon Breath by her skirmishing Vibrava till paralysis took hold, at which point buzzed in and grabbed the edge of its vase with its claws, from where it began crunching its way through the foliage.

There was a panicked scream from behind them, however, as the third Vase Paw stopped burning and slammed itself against Roadblock’s shield, only for it to be set on fire again as Hanabi came rushing in and delivered a burning beat down, arriving just in time before the striker’s 10 second duration was up.

As the psychic put an end to that Paw, Midna did the same to the other two, the princess slamming a super sized wolves down on top of her one as it tried to rise, before turning and crescent moon slashing her sword tipped spear into the third in one clean motion, landing a final blow for her minion.

”Street’s clear the way we came from” she instructed the family they’d saved, before offering Hanabi a ”Thanks” for her part in it.

There was still plenty for them to do, and the trio rushed forwards to help wherever they could.

A little way down the road a number of armed citizens had either driven or pulled a car off the road and in front of a storefront, using it as a barricade to protect them from the Others. With improvised spears and a few handguns, they had, it seemed, managed to take down a Rummy, but where now being suppressed by a pack of Bile Pools that where hosing them down with their water blasts, allowing more Rummys to close in and start smashing at the barricade.

Midna’s speedy vibrava arrived first on the scene, buzzing straight for the Bile Pool squad, weaving between watery blasts and then slamming down into the ground among them, sending out a radial shockwave that rattled the Others. Then it gripped the earth and began to buzz its wings, somehow channeling the vibration of them down into the concrete and creating more shaking, creating a localized earthquake that threw the Bile Pools into disarray.

That freed up the civilians to start fighting back again, gunfire cracking and spears stabbing, though against the number of Other that were coming after them, it was only buying them time.

Fortunately, a little more time was all Midna and Hanabi needed to catch up with their flying frontrunner and engage the Rummies. Armed with polearms wreathed in lightning and fire respectively, they both avoided slam attacks from their chosen targets, before slamming their polearms forwards, delivering an elemental payload to the chest of an Other.

That’s where things deviated however, as Hanabi flicked her double ended weapon around to bash the Rummy with the other equally superheated end, knocking it to the side, while Midna repeated her opening strike, delivering several swift thrusts with her treespear’s long blade.

The treespear’s own lightning did rather little damage on its own, as unbeknownst to Midna it drew from her faith, of which the Princess ironically had very little due to her direct interactions with the divine, but the additional electrical payload she had charged it with still did plenty. As did her comboing her shadowhand into the mix, the princess ending her stab combo with a mighty punch that sent the Other sprawling.

She pulled the spear to her chest, salvaging some of the charge and recycling it back into her weapon, while at the same time opening a portal and calling out an enlarged Wolfos. The beast pounced on the fallen Other both paws slamming into it and crushing its weakened form, before it lunged forwards and bit another Rummy using its massive jaw, savaging the Other for a few moments before it had to return to the twilight realm.

The savaged Other barely had time to recover before Midna rushed in and delivered an overhead chop with the sword-like tip of her spear, bringing a corresponding lightning bolt crashing down atop it for good measure, expending all the charge she had recycled.

That lack of charge resulted in her follow up stab having far less bite than she wanted it too, the lack of staggering impact allowing the Rummy to recover and fight back, spinning on one of its pointy legs like a top and smacking the spear out of the princess’s hands in the process as the severed Rummy arm it used as a weapon smashed into it.

”You think that’s all I’ve got?” Minda taunted the headless thing as she stepped away from its spin, only for Hanabi to come to her unneeded rescue anyway. The psychic came running over and with precision borne of experience against these foes, ducking low stabbing her staff under the spinning arm to strike the single leg the Runny was balancing on, causing it to tip over and fall to the ground.

”I had that in hand” the princess insisted, before adding ”But thank you anyway” to try and avoid being needlessly abrasive.

Before the psychic could take things one way or the other, there came a loud crunch of metal as a goat like Wither Sabbat slammed its head into the car protecting the civilians, opening the way for the Rummies to try and climb their way into the store.

”Oh no you don’t” Minda said, before summoning Roadblock again, and having the exosuit pound a fist against his shield while the princess called out ”Over here you twisted things, come and fight me!”

It worked like a charm. It also attracted the attention of every single other in the local area, which on top of the Rummies and Sabbat, also included a small flock of Plateau Pendu. The electricity slinging Other swooped in, blasting at Roadblock’s shield and undercutting Midna’s bravado as she flinched away from them, where she’d shown zero fear of any of the other Other.

”Goddesses, not again” she gasped, briefly paralyzed by fear, and prompting Hanabi to ask her if she was ok even as the psychic moved to engage the closest Rummy that had been drawn to their position by Roadblock’s taunt.

”I’m fine. I’m fine” Midna insisted, mostly snapping out of the fear, but still feeling her heart beating faster for a reason she still didn’t understand. Working under the stress, she summoned her initiate strikers and chilfos behind the shield, having them toss psychic/ice spears from behind its cover, while she herself used it to prepare for battle.

Unfortunately, in having successfully drawn the attention of the hulking goat Other away from the civilians, she had prompted it to charged towards them instead, the Sabbat plowing aside one of its fellows before it slammed into Roadblock’s energy shield, cracking it. Midna responded by blasting it with her musket, again using the close range to compensate for her general lack of skill with firearms, even if practical experience was making her slightly better over time.

The heavy metal slug wasn’t nearly enough to dissuade the goat however, which rose up on its hind legs, and then slammed its horned skull into the shield again, shattering it, and slamming into Roadblock in a single strike, causing the princess to yelp and stumble as she suffered recoil damage.

The impact blew apart her little defensive line, all the strikers dissipating within a few heartbeats of the impact, and leaving the pair of ladies alone against almost a dozen Other.

Bur only for a few seconds.

Midna’s vibrava returned in just the nick of time, having slaughtered the last of the bilepools and now immediately laying into the Pendu upon its arrival, even more deadly against them due to being entirely immune to their electrical attacks.

”Yes! You’re a better knight than the darknut will ever be” the incredibly relieved to not be dealing with those princess cried out as her (suitably green) defender tore into the source of her stress. Well, the unnatural source anyway, dealing with the ground based Other was still plenty stressful.

At least their heavy blunt attacks were fairly predictable, and there was space on the long wide road for both Midna and Hanabi to backup and avoid getting surrounded. The princess did particularly well at this, skirmishing back, and blasting Rummies with her musket (and making sure to check what was behind them this time to avoid hitting any friendlies this time) till the goat like Wither Sabbat charged out of their ranks, splitting itself from the pack with its speed.

”There we go” Midna said smugly as it did what she wanted, before calling over ”Together?” to Hanabi and getting a nod in reply.

The two ladies dodged to either side as the goat charged in, before lunging back in to hit it from both sides. As the psychic laid into it with her flaming quarterstaff, Midna (who had ditched her musket in a portal) crescent moon slashed a plain longsword into the world and cleaved it into the Other, not doing particularly much damage with the mundane blade but still redrawing its focus with another taunt.

This prompted it to turn to attack her specifically and rear up to deliver a headbutt, but having expected this she was entirely prepared to dodge away. While Midna had its attention, Hanabi had plenty of opportunity to attack its weaker rear, culminating in her igniting the beast with her strikes.

”I love it when you do that!” Midna praised a little too excitedly, having prepared for this moment by pulling out her sun on a stick earlier when she was taking cover behind the shield. Now that the Other was burning, she ditched the longsword and instead grabbed the bat with all four hands, dodged another headbutt, and then slammed the (rather short because of how she was holding it) weapon’s spiky head into its side.

It produced that satisfying critical hit sound as it did triple damage to the burning foe, a sound that resounded several more times as she went to town on the Other, and ending its life just in time before the Rummies caught up.

Hanabi was already ready for them when they arrived, and swiftly intercepted the front stumbler while Minda caught her breath. Once she had it, the princess stored her sun on a stick, and then glanced up to see that her Vibrava had added all the flying Other to its already impressive kill count for this fight, and was heading back to join her.

”Alright, let’s clean these up” she declared, referring to the five or so remaining Rummies. She ducked past one, and behind the one fighting Hanabi and then raised her shadow hand up in the air as the other three closed in. At her feet, a ring of orange power filled with shadow expanded across the ground, engulfing all of her foes seemingly harmlessly till she had them all inside of it, at which point she snapped the shadow hand’s fingers.

Orange lighting lashed out from the dark energy zone, stunning the remaining others, and marking them for death as her Vibrava swooped in and with lighting fast speed delivered devastating crunches to each and every one, killing the softened up ones in and leaving the few that remained heavily damaged. Certainly damaged enough that Hanabi was able to dash in and finish them off before they, Midna, or her vibrava had recovered from receiving/delivering the devastating attack.

”Good job thing” Midna praised her pokemon as it buzzed over and landed on her shoulder, before offering the helpful psychic some praise too for good measure ”and you too Hanabi. A joy to see you in your element” because she really did love that element (namely fire).

Now that all the foes were felled, she quickly retrieved her treespear from where it had been batted away too (as well as grabbing and crushing a few spirits with her shadow hand, most notably the Wither Sabbat’s) while Hanabi checked on the well-beings of the civilians they’d just bailed out of danger.

”Oh hey wait, is this…?” Midna began to ask as she caught the item she’d just made, one that seemed nearly identical looking to Hanabi’s own weapon. She gave it a twirl, finding it surprisingly light. Lighter than Hanabi’s? It was hard to judge when she hadn’t held the other one, and hard to know if that was a good or bad thing (and thus whether the psychic would benefit from a trade) without trying it out.

”Plenty more Other to test it out on” she said to herself, as she dropped the gel and power cell into a portal, and then strode forwards into the fray once more.
Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Double
Avatar of Double

Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 3 hrs ago

Concealed Atrocities

Word Count: 917
Level 7 Roxas: 9/70
Exp: +2
NEW EXP Balance--- 11/70

After they left Peach with the rebels, Roxas couldn't help but clam up. He replayed that conversation in his head over and over. It was clear he regretted what he said at the end. Even if the Power of Waking could help, he'd still have to find Sora. And Roxas couldn't even begin to think of where to start there. Last he knew, Riku and Kairi were tirelessly searching for their missing friend. They even enlisted the help of Aqua and the others to take the search into the Realm of Darkness. And as far as Roxas knew, none of them had had any progress in locating him. So how exactly was he supposed to do so while in this completely unfamiliar world?

Well whatever doubts Roxas had needed to be set aside. Next thing he knew, Luka was announcing a message he'd received from one his peers in the Otherlobe. Apparently their entire platoon now had an APB out on them, and that sounded like bad news. But among the cacophony of names getting dropped, Roxas actually managed to recognize at least one of them: Oleander. He was that coach guy Raz introduced Roxas to the other day. The one who Raz asked to let some of the seekers join the platoon, unaware that it was meant only for psionics. Had he really brought Sina and Dexio to Beacon Hospital? And did he know they were being controlled?

Roxas was equally concerned about hearing of Raz being injured and in hiding at Musubi's. He was just as eager to get over there and rescue Raz as the rest of the Seekers were. But then the alarms started blaring, signalling an Other attack just like the one from the other day, "What? Now? You can't be serious!" Roxas bemoaned, but then found himself agreeing with Luka, "You're thinking that someone did this on purpose?"

Roxas wouldn't put it past someone in the upper echelons of Midgar to orchestrate this kind of disaster. The problem was that Roxas had no earthly idea how this could even be done. But regardless, it looked like the Seekers would be fighting against Others again whether they wanted to or not. And thus the Keybearer was quick to leap into action.

At first things were more or less straightforward. Roxas hacked and slashed his way into a small group of five Rummies, and then lit them up with a Thundaga Spell to finish them off. And then Roxas suddenly heard what sounded almost like... hoof beats. He turned and yelped in surprise when a ram-like Wither Sabbat came charging past, nearly trampling him. It let out a snorting sound as it pounded its front hooves in preparation for another charge. Roxas turned and sprinted, but he knew he'd get overtaken unless he did something. So he ran for a nearby street-light pole and then hopped up and pushed himself off it.

The Sabbat crashed into the pole, but Roxas was already airborne. The Nobody flipped and oriented himself to land squarely on the Other's back. He immediately grabbed the creature's horns and held on with all his strength and for dear life as he was bucked around on the back of the monster. After what felt like a very long seven or eight seconds, the Wither Sabbat lunged into another charge with Roxas still riding its back and clinging to the horns some kind of desperate rider in a rodeo.

"Whoa! LOOK OUT!" screamed Roxas when he realized where the Sabbat was going. It was attempting to charge into a pair unsuspecting civilians currently firing at different Others. Roxas yanked the creature's horns aside as hard as he could to try and force it to turn a different. At the same time the two civilians heard Roxas' warning and dove out of the way. So that was at least a couple casualties averted. But Roxas himself was still kind of stuck on this Other's back. He could jump off, but then he'd just get charged at again. Meanwhile the Sabbat in question went into another charge, and so Roxas had to act fast. He tightened his grip on the horns and yanked at them again, once more trying to forcibly control it's charge.

The Keybearer managed to direct the Sabbat's charge into a trio of Rummies. At that point he finally ditched the creature and quickly leaped backward to put some distance between it and himself. He pointed both Keyblades forward and fired a Dual Shot, whose explosion manage to catch the Sabbat and the Rummies and finish them off, "Uh oh..." Roxas said to himself as he realized this maneuver had apparently separated him from his friends and allies. He hear their voices but they were a ways away and he'd have to make his way back where he had just been brought from. To make matters worse, a growing crowd of Rummies and Paws were slowly trying to close in on him.

After taking a calming breath, Roxas stared down the crowd of Others before him, "You don't scare me!" he shouted as he ran right for the enemies before him. He was determined to make it back to the others even if he had to fight his way there every step of the way.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
Avatar of Zoey Boey

Zoey Boey Spider!

Member Seen 16 hrs ago

Sakura Level 10: 12/100
Location: Suoh
Word Count: short
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 10: 13/100

Sakura took a deep breath, trying to focus on the battle ahead. Despite Peach being confirmed as safe, the pressure to save her was greater than ever before. There was no way she could let her down. It was good, at least, to be out of that hospital.

But the moment of peace didn’t last long, not only was there an Other attack, but they were suddenly made public enemy number one. ”Oh, come on! We didn’t do anything wrong!”

But Luka was right- people needed help from Others right now! There was more of them than Sakura had ever seen. Others that gave her trouble when she teamed up with Karin were now in great multitudes. Everyone had a part to play. Sakura wasn’t particularly confident in her ability to take on so many monsters, especially the Yawns. She decided to focus on protecting the bystanders.

A woman was being attacked by a Rummy, and Sakura managed to get to this civilian first with a flying kick to send the monster away. She was on the ground. “M-my leg!”

Sakura grabbed her shoulder and lifted her up, patting her on the back and performing Tag-Out. ”Go! I’ll cover you!” With a minor boost to her speed and vitality (which was actually quite a lot to her given her average person status) the woman fled from the battle and Sakura surged ahead, slamming into the Rummy and sending it flying into a nearby Bile Pool. The Rummy sprung forth, but Sakura was faster, crashing her fists into it and breaking its artificial wooden body to pieces. As for the Pool, she avoided its spit and punted it like a football to the next street over.

”Goal!” Sakura shouted with a smile. She couldn’t help but be impressed by herself sometimes.

Sakura pushed up with the others, running and dodging and spin kicking her way through the chaos to push through. She ended up a short distance behind Roxas. His defiant statement earned a ”Yeah!” from Sakura and she followed up his charge with one of her own.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
Avatar of Zoey Boey

Zoey Boey Spider!

Member Seen 16 hrs ago

Karin Level 6: 42/60
Location: Quarantine Valley
Word Count:
Points Gained: 1 +7
New EXP Balance---
Karin Level 6: 50/60

Karin was very pleased that the matter worked itself out. ”If only everything here made as much sense as the Hermits. Thank you very much for your help.” Karin said with a respectful bow. With that she joined the others in the streets.

They split up to search for clues, and Karin heard some very interesting findings from the others. What she ended up doing was mostly hopping from rooftop to rooftop with her grappling hook. She encountered a few stray Others along the way.

”Ugly little pests. The only thing you’re good for is practice.” Karin said, as a Paw sized her up on a dark rooftop and then surged forward. A few Rummies nearby joined in. There was a scattering of metal pieces and woodchips, the slicing of clawed steel through empty air.

”...And stress relief, I suppose.”Karin said, examining her fingernails. Though she was annoyed. While, one could argue she had been useful by making sure these rooftop Others didn’t ambush her teammates, Karin wasn’t the type to be ‘production’ as it were. Still, even though she had eyes on the mysterious shelter, there wasn’t much she could do against ‘Red levels’. It was like entering a place with disease inside. While the Kanzuki family had many techniques against clearing toxins from the body, they weren’t exactly easily accessible on the field of battle or without certain ingredients. And doubtful they’d be helpful against whatever supernatural phenomenon lay inside that building. A shelter, Sandalphon called it.

Instead she just scouted the shelter, circling around the outside using her hook. No windows.

But she did find a particularly heavy door. Well. It wouldn’t hurt if she took a little look, right? Karin opened the door- well, she tried too. Her hand didn’t even budge it.

”Challenge me, door? Karin asked, raising an eyebrow. Wiping her hands she braced herself, and focused. The door began to slide open. Karin stopped, smiled, and then peaked inside.

”Hello? Anyone home? I don’t mean to intrude…” She peaked her eye into the gap. It was…dark. Very dark. But something shifted in the shadows. An arrow flung and struck against the door, narrowly missing Karin’s eye, who backed up with a start.

”Oh, my.” Karin said. There was the sound of pounding feet, and something about it told her it was inhuman. From the narrow gap of moonlight she saw an inhuman face under a hood running at her. Karin frowned and really threw her back into it this time- she slammed the door shut and withdrew as several bodies tossed themselves at the door from the other side, resounding clangs against the metal.

”R-right. Unwelcome to visitors, then.” Karin said, retreating to another rooftop. It was a terrible plague, really. Karin pushed the haunting thoughts out of her mind, so that she could continue to be a productive member of the Seekers.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Yankee
Avatar of Yankee

Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 4 days ago

Level: 8 - Total EXP: 234/80 ------ Level: 7 - Total EXP: 109/70
𝙱𝙿 ●●●● ---------------------------- 𝙱𝙿 ●●●●
Word Count: 2095 (Therion +3 exp)
Location: The Under

Separated from the other Seekers once more, Therion made another loop of the crypt. He wasn't interested in cheering anyone else on, so he figured he should spend his time wisely otherwise. Tingyun had said there wasn't a way to get out of here besides getting the points needed to challenge the NecroDancer, and then beating him. He wasn't ready to give up on alternate routes out just yet, but he could at least see how long it would take to earn ten thousand points. For a novice dancer like him, taking on a Floor Boss was out of the question. He probably didn't stand a chance against any half decent contractor either. So... one hundred dances against one hundred undead...

That sounds so tedious, he thought. Maybe it was even impossible for him in the first place.

It wasn't like he'd never tried dancing before, technically. He'd even done it twice... if you counted Alfyn and Cyrus drinking a little too much and hooking their arms around his shoulders and trying to start a kicking line. Therion had been deeper in his cups than he'd thought, since he didn't even put up much of a fuss before joining in lazily. Besides that, there were the group lessons. While traveling Orsterra, all eight of his crew offered to teach the others about their "Jobs." Sometimes, a traveler took to one well and ended up dabbling a little more outside their expertise. Though Therion much preferred the Warrior lessens with Olberic to make him even more dangerous, or even Apothecary 101 with Alfyn to take to the back line in battle and run support, he had broken down under Primrose's needling and tried as a Dancer.

It didn't go all that well (though he was far from the worst, that dishonor went to the professor and H'aanit), and he hadn't done it since. He realized the few attempts he'd made at it were clumsy at best and out of peer pressure at worst, but he was good enough to beat a few bags of bones? Maybe. Okay, maybe it was physically possible, but how long would it take?

The thief stopped outside of one of the themed dance rooms. Leaning on the wall beside the entrance, he tipped his head back and listened. Once a new song started he counted the seconds until it ended. Three minutes. Assuming a win, three minutes per one hundred points. So... three hundred minutes for ten thousand. That's...

Way too long. Nearly half a day of being stuck here and dancing, and that was without counting breaks or sleep.

He slipped away into another room. This one wasn't too busy, featuring just a handful of zombies dancing and a couple other people resting. It was as good a place to collect his thoughts as any.

He had no doubt that Primrose was well on her way to getting the points needed, or already there. Though he knew she wasn't above cheating to get her way, she would probably do this as intended - through dance. Ms. Fortune would probably do fine if she was getting pointers from Primrose. The others, the knight and the more monstrous... at least one of them claimed to be a good dancer, but Therion was skeptical. Who knew how long getting out of here would take if he didn't find some other way to get their souls back.

In the middle of his ruminating he spotted a mouse girl approaching from the corner of his eye as a new song started. Since she wasn't undead, she had to be a fellow contractor. He hunched his shoulders and pointedly ignored her until she was in his space and clearly not going anywhere.

"Haven't seen you around before," she said. "But you know the rules of this place, right? I'm Topo. So, wanna dance?"

"No thanks." A clear dismissal, said without even turning his head to look at her. The girl whined.

"Come oooon, are you worried about losing? I'll go easy on you!"

This time Therion did glance at her, and he could instantly tell from her expression that she would not go easy on him. There was something in her eyes that reminded him more of a cat than a mouse. This girl liked to play with her food. She was probably the type that hustled newbies and enjoyed crushing them. Therion's own tail twitched.

"Go find someone else."

"How pathetic... You're no fun at all."

Therion moved to leave. To his surprise Topo stopped him, grabbing him by the right arm and pulling him left. Was she trying to spin him? Force him into a dance off by tricking him into making the first move? Eyes wide and hackles raised, Therion abruptly batted her hand away. The manacle on his wrist rattled and sparks flew from his finger tips, startling Topo. For a moment they both stared at each other in shock... then Topo crossed her arms.

"Oh my, you'd threaten a girl?" she asked. Regaining his composure Therion scoffed and brushed past her out of the room.

Unfortunately for him, she followed.

"You know fighting is against the rules, right? You are going to have to dance at some point. Unless you want to spend your whole life down here?"

"Not if I find another way," Therion muttered under his breath. Topo's large ears caught his words anyway.

"There is no other way. Down here, it's dance or die!" She thought for a moment before sneering at him. "Actually more like dance and die, heheh. "

"You're pretty smug for someone that also stupidly signed their soul away," Therion commented offhand. He used Topo's offended gasp and dramatic pause in her step to try and put some distance between them.

He knew there was no fighting. If it was allowed, this place would probably look very different. It would have been a lot easier to storm the place and collect their souls back if it was an option. Actually now that he thought about it, where in this place were those contracts stored? Maybe he would find a clue there about what to do. Following the hallways he hadn't already been down, Therion set about looking for treasure again - but in this case, the treasure being the contracts. A vault, or library, or something like that... Instead he neared an ominous room with the dull thump of music coming from inside. The dark doors were open, the inside torch lit showing dark brick, black iron, and red tapestry. Peering around the corner without entering, Therion blinked. This room was more dangerous looking than the goofy, rainbow colored dance rooms, even though there were speakers playing music in here too. Had he actually found an important place? He squinted, spotting the shelves on the far side.

Bingo. Finding them had been faster than he expected. As he considered his next move, his ears flicked and turned to listen behind him. Judging from the light footsteps it was someone small. This time Topo did not take him by surprise when she peeked around the same corner into the room.

"Thinking about assassinating him?" She nodded to the figure on the throne, too far to make out his features but most likely the NecroDancer himself. "Some tried. Then died. I already told you fighting's a no-go, he'd whip out your soul from his pocket and swallow it whole right in front of you!"

Therion sighed. With a shadow like this he wouldn't be able to sneak around at all. He turned to Topo, but before telling her off he stopped, considering something she'd said. "What do you mean 'from his pocket'?"

She looked at him like he was stupid. "You don't know what a pocket is...?"

Don't lose your patience, Therion, he thought to himself, rubbing his forehead with one hand. "I meant, he keeps the souls on him? Physically?"

"I guess..." Topo raised one eyebrow skeptically. "Why, are you gonna frisk him or something?"

"Or something."

Therion slipped the hood of his black cloak over his head. The throne room was large, and shadows flickered across every surface. The NecroDancer wasn't alone in there, there were shambling skeletons and other such entities grooving. The man on the throne was even tapping his fingers on the arm of the chair in time to the music. He might be able to make it over to the throne without being noticed if he timed it right. From there, if he could pick-pocket the crypt's keeper for whatever vessel he was holding the souls in, then... well, that was a way to get them back without dancing right there. He just had to ditch Topo first.

"Topo, right? Listen—"

"Steal mine back too!" The mouse girl was practically glaring at him, her hands curled into fists in front of her. "All I keep running into are people like you who are too scared to dance. I'll never get out of here if no one will face me! So if you're gonna cheat, then get mine too!"

"Not so loud!" Therion hissed at her. She tightened her jaw and stared him down. Since the thief had unfortunately dealt with stubborn types like this for a while now, he agreed fairly quickly. It would be the easiest way to make sure she wouldn't follow him. "I'll try," he said, making sure not to promise anything.

Topo entered first, not explicitly trying to draw attention to herself but doing so by virtue of entering the NecroDancer's room. Therion silently slipped in afterward, making for the shadows in the opposite direction. What followed was just a matter of timing. Therion moved whenever the flames flickered low or the lich snapped his fingers to start a new song. He was being overly careful, assuming that if he was caught his life was forfeit. He couldn't allow nerves to get the better of him here, so he didn't, forcing his steps to be silent and his hands to be still. He was a professional in his own right, not in dance but in thievery. It wasn't a stretch to claim he was the greatest thief in all Orsterra. Eventually he made it all the way to the throne itself, crouching behind its tall stone back. He stayed there, waiting through several more pieces of music, biding his time and awaiting his chance.

When that chance came he moved like it was the most casual thing in the world. The lich shifted in his seat, leaning slightly to one side. Something must have caught his attention, but from where he was Therion wouldn't be able to tell what it was. More undead making their way in, if he had to guess from the sound of it. His unshackled hand dipped into the pocket of the NecroDancer's robe. He had expected a vial, jar, or even a bag - something to hold the souls, because there was no way they were just... free floating in the man's clothes. Well, they were, and though surprised Therion didn't let it affect his movements. His fingers brushed through the collection, a very strange feeling like water, cotton, and static all at once. They slipped through and away from his grasp.

Then, an even stranger feeling. It was hard to tell where one soul ended and another began, but he touched one that felt so painfully familiar that he knew it was his even before it seeped into his hand and reentered his body. As soon as he felt it back in its rightful place he withdrew, hidden behind the throne until he deemed it safe to move again. His heart was beating hard, but damn, he'd done it - he'd actually stolen his own soul back. How many thieves could claim that, even in a metaphorical sense?

As he slowly began slinking away, back toward the exit, he noted that his guess had been correct. There were a lot more undead in the room than there hand been previously. The ones that could talk were filling in their master on the newcomers that were collecting points quickly and confidently. Judging that these newcomers could only be the ones he was part of, Therion made his way to one corner of the room to wait on them instead. He could feel the mouse girl's eyes on him when he finally came to a stop and pulled his hood back, but he'd have to break the bad news to her later. Or more likely, break the good news to her when the Seekers showed up.

Grift of the NecroDancer - Primrose
Word Count: 1246 (Primrose +2 Exp)

Therion's arms were crossed beneath his poncho and cloak. By now he was well aware that the dance battles were less about dance and more about survival. Since that was the case, the Seekers shouldn't have any issues. They'd proven to be quite tough.

The crowd did not quiet down following Sectonia's victory. Everyone in the room was hyped up with the knowledge that the crypt's keeper could be beaten at his own game, and now that one person had done it there was hope for the rest. The other members of the group Sectonia was part of were all coolly waiting their turn, confident that more wins were in their future. As the queen bee came back to them, Primrose swapped places with her.

"Good work," she said as she passed. "I'll take the next dance."

She stepped to the middle of the dance floor, one hand on her hip and a sure smirk playing at her hips. The NecroDancer fixed her with a baleful glare, not about to let anyone else besides him claim victory. He smoothed his beard and snapped his fingers, beginning the next battle.

It was a wholly different piece of music from the one that played just before, with a faster tempo though giving off the same subtly menacing feel. The vibe fit the crypt perfectly, and the song's bombastic start left Primrose without a moment to spare.

The NecroDancer extended his hand and let a bolt of lightning fly. Then another, and another. The quick beats of the music meant he could unleash his spells fast, back to back and still stay in rhythm. Though he didn't move his feet whatsoever, the NecroDancer shook his shoulders as he cast his magic, feeling the song in a simple way. As expected, his plan was to injure or outright kill his opponent as a means to win. His constant casting put Primrose solely on the defensive - or rather the evasive. She sidestepped and spun, feeling the crackle of the bolts as they passed within a hair's breadth of her. Though dodging kept her safe, she couldn't get into a rhythm of her own like this. As soon as she got a handle on the song, she changed tactics.

Primrose planted her feet and moved into a one-two step, letting her hand draw a half-circle in front of her as it filled with moonlight. The next bolt of lightning, on course for a direct hit, burst against the Baldur Shell. A cheap tactic, even Primrose had to admit, but she had to start gaining ground someway. She canceled her cast and started again, protecting herself from another blast while simultaneously adding some pizzazz to her dance with the sparkling light of Luna.

The NecroDancer clicked his tongue, giving up early before he realized that the shield his opponent was relying on was finite. He raised both of his arms and then threw them down, casting a wave of ice. The ice spread from him to Primrose, coating the ground beneath and around her in a wide area. A nasty grin stretched across his face. This challenger was earth bound unlike the last, and an icy floor was any dancer's weakness. Or so he thought.

Primrose's scarf lit up and she sailed over the ice, throwing a wink at the lich as his face fell in surprise. Anger soon took over his features. He snapped both of his fingers at once and snarled, "Reanimate!"

From the blackness two nightmares formed to charge out onto the dance floor, ghoulish horses made of smoke with gnashing teeth and bright glowing eyes. They flew up towards Primrose, and with their superior air control easily surrounded her before she could evade. The red one rammed her head on, sending her flying into the black. The nightmare whipped its head to shove her back towards its partner, intent to crush her between them until she canceled her flight. Primrose dropped back to the ground, her landing unstable thanks to the ice. She drew in a steadying breath, managing just to stand up straight and look half-gracefully as she did so.

The nightmares gave chase, so Primrose got moving. She skated across the ground, and though unstable and unused to it her core strength kept her top half from flailing about, and her practiced legs kept her upright. More frost assailed her as she moved, the NecroDancer regaining his confidence and throwing chilling spells her way. She recognized the lich's new strategy; to slow her down with the ice in one way or the other. The more damage she took from the frost, the more fatigued she'd be. And if she fell, it was all over - the monsters would be upon her and she wouldn't be able to dodge the assault of magic that was sure to follow.

The bark of the NecroDancer's laughter was ringing throughout the room, even when he realized Primrose's own plan. She was steadily making her way closer to him. She must have thought that if she was up close, he wouldn't be able to cast his spells. Plus he hadn't spread the ice around himself. It was a good plan, but one he was more than prepared for. As the dancer and the nightmares got closer and closer, he couldn't keep the smug look off of his face. We spread his arms wide as though to welcome them. That action tipped Primrose off that he had something up his sleeve.

She reached the edge of the ice and hopped off. Her ice dance had been serviceable, and now that she was back on solid ground she could kick things up a notch. She continued moving forward, though it was ultimately a bluff. With quick, bold steps she approached the NecroDancer, watching his magic pool around him, and while the horses charged in to strike her again she suddenly stopped, turned, and threw herself into a twirl that took her away instead. At the moment the NecroDancer seemed to explode, fire raging all around him. The nightmares caught in the blast cried out, and the NecroDancer himself emerged from the fire unscathed. He didn't seem too upset that his latest ploy hadn't worked, but with the song almost over and his "dancing" nowhere near measuring up to Primrose's even with her unsteady footwork on the ice, he was pressed for time if he wanted to beat her.

He relied on his ice again, letting fly a barrage of icicles, frost, and water to topple the dancer. They dissolved into steam, meeting Primrose's Fire Fan that she'd conjured while the lich's sight was obscured from his own detonation. Primrose dropped to one knee dramatically while extending a leg, bringing her close to the floor so she could sweep the fan over it and banish the ice. She knew it was a gamble, but the extra dancing space meant she could seal the deal for sure. The NecroDancer tried to catch her while she recovered, pelting Primrose with spells. She crossed her arms in front of her face and endured it for just long enough for her to stand back up, then with a spin she countered all of the ice coming her way with fire.

The song faded out then, and Primrose lifted her arm and flicked the fan away in a showy little burst of fire. She breathed evenly, disguising her fatigue, and then rolled her head to smile at the crowd of undead.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Grift of the NecroDancer - Bowser

Word Count: 1906 (+3 Exp)

”Well then, this seems to be going rather well despite the challenges” Kamek analyzed as they got another win under their belt, and another soul promised to return back to its rightful place.

”And it's about to go even better, because I am tired of sitting around waiting my turn” Bowser announced as stomped forwards, only to pause for a moment and pluck something from his hat, which he tossed to Junior. The prince caught the little mushroom charm, and nodded as he got the message.

With that little complication taken out of the picture, and a helpful haste buff applied by the already victorious queen, the King stepped onto the dance floor, declaring it to be ”SHOWTIME!” with a gravely roar.

The NecroDancer curled his shriveled lip. One was an isolated incident, and two a possible coincidence, but three was a pattern; these newcomers’ numbers here weren’t just for show. They all really meant to take their souls back, and with how the last two challenges turned out, it perturbed the NecroDancer deeply to realize just how possible that was. Narrowly losing to Sectonia had been a most bothersome surprise, and even he had to admit that Primrose was really good, but when the lich saw Bowser he couldn’t help but fume with indignation. This ungainly reptile really thought he had a chance in hell? Well, he had another thing coming.

“Your little friends were lucky!” he snarled, elemental magic flaring up around him as he prepared for another round. “But that lucky streak ends here!”

”Even if they were, it doesn’t matter! Because you're looking at the king of dance right here! The mojo of music! The radical ruler of rhythm! So hit me with your sickest beat, because I’m about to stomp on this dance floor so hard I leave gravel paths all over it!” The king taunted back, expecting to be hit with some more epic music that would fit his style.

He was ever so wrong as instead of some suitably rocking tune he got hit with a orchestral waltz.

Yet if the NecroDancer thought he was going to be able to throw the king off using some off brand music, he got a swift correction when Bowser, after being briefly stunned, realized that ”Hey wait, I know this one!”

”Jr, toss me a metal spike!” he shouted as he leapt to the side to avoid an opening cone of cold blasted by the irate NecroDancer. The confused prince obliged his papa, crafting and then firing it towards his dad, who caught it with a thorny tendril before passing it to his hand.

With a pair of more great buoyant leaps he landed just before one of the walls, and then leaped straight up, cleaving a claw through the side of one of the banners, shaving a long thin strip of cloth from it. Rather than leave his vandalism at that, however, the king stabbed the end of the severed strip with jr’s spike, before bending the tip around to firmly attach improvised streamer to the metal stick.

He dropped back down as the NecroDancer approached, and then spun around to face him, expertly manipulating his new tool as he did so, causing the cloth to form a perfect circle in the air next to him.

”Oh no” Jr bemoaned as he felt the first wave of what he was sure was going to be a maelstrom of second hand embarrassment, before putting a name to what Bowser was doing, namely ”Rhythmic Ribbon”

”You think you could trip me up with sappy music? Well too bad! Now let me show you how I won an Olympic medal for this!” the king gloated, leaving out that it had most certainly not been the gold one, before straight up pirouetting out of the way of a lighting blast, the ribbon twirling gracefully around him as he avoided the strike. Then to add insult to injury he perfectly manipulated the ribbon to get it to swirl in a figure eight ahead of him, just to show off.

In response to this infuriating performance, the NecroDancer began summoning minions to try and hem in the ribbon dancing king.

First came a familiar face, the harp horned minotaur, who burst out of its summoning smoke with its signature charge, only for the king to use the ribbon in an imitation of a bullfighter before stepping neatly out of the way.

”Try that one again!” he taunted, only to have to refocus as the second summon appeared: a mighty sword, large as a human was tall, which slammed down into the ground point first, only to then be wrenched out of it by an unseen hand.

The blade seemingly floated forwards under its own power, and then swung at the king in a mighty overhead cleave.

In response the king tried to dodge under the blow, only for his swirling ribbon to harmlessly hit something. He comprehended what had happened fast enough to not slam into the invisible wielder of the blade, but not fast enough to do a new dodge, resulting in him being smashed to the floor with a cry of pain, and left with a massive gash in his left shoulder and split in his shell.

As before, however, being struck by a heavy object was not enough to stop the king from dancing, and so he shoved the blade out of his wound, and then himself to the side, briefly retracing into his shell to spin across the floor with the ribbon swirling around him.

Even more impressively, he did a small hop while in his shell, flipping onto his back and spinning like a top for a second, before the masses of vines growing in his shell spring out and launch him back onto his feet.

”Gonna take more than that!” he growled at the NecroDancer as the undead fiend, who was quite sure the king was wrong, stalked towards him, flanked by his two heavy hitting minibosses.

In response to the approaching dangert, the king grunted ”Heel, fix this”, as he summoned his Rabbid supported striker on his back. The bunny medic/grenadier was immediately ensnared in the king’s vines, which were careful not to fill him full of thorny puncture wounds, which let the king bring his summon with him as he backed away from his foes, only to find himself being backed into a corner.

As his striker undid some, but not close to all, of the damage that had been done, the king spun out of the way of the charging bull once more, and then tossed the ribbon up into the air as he avoided the second massive sword cleave, catching it in his mouth. A pair of moves that put him right in the firing line of the NecroDancer.

There was a jingle of a bell, a blast of frost, and a moment later Bowser in Meowser form was clinging to one of the banners that hung along the walls. The NecroDancer lashed out again, blasting with lightning, only for the king to launch himself up the wall several feet and to dig his claws into the banner again, cutting cat claw marks in it as he slid down a little bit.

Another bolt, another leap, but at that point the king was out of space to go up, and between them the two boss monsters had ruined the fabric below him, so the only way to go after that was outwards.

He kicked off the wall, launching himself clear, and then rather than drop summoned ”Marie!” Korbel, the former Skullgirl, and grabbed her around the waist, using her as a rather undignified umbrella to slow his fall, while also commanding her to ”Give them some dance partners! Trip em up!”

As Bowser descended down to the ground in the center of the arena, the NecroDancer got a taste of his own medicine, as a mob of macabre mobsters rose up around him. He cleared his throat, ready to declare a contract infraction, only for the fresh undead to pair up and start doing an actual waltz around him.

While his minions started cleaving away at the enemy undead one by one, the NecroDancer was having none of this. After charging his magic for a few moments, he promptly exploded (everything around him) and then appeared outside of the dancing mob in a puff of smoke.

As Marie floated up and away to keep tying up the minibosses as long as possible, the king, his wounds now ‘bandaged’ in vines, and NecroDancer faced each other down

”That's all you got? I bet your almost out of time, and I have been killing it on this dance floor,” the king, who should really know better, gloated, which got him a pointy toothed grin and a reply of “Not quite” from the dancer, as he tapped deep into his reserves, and unleashed mini-boss number three.

A leathery winged shape flashed across the the upper reaches of the room, and down from the vaulted ceiling rained necromantic fire, engulfing the entire back half of the room in a lingering napalm that sent the spectators scrambling, and igniting all the remaining banners in pale green flames.

It also set fire to the Bowser’s vines, the king screamed with pain as the source of the flames, a massive undead dragon, twice as large as the one the Dead Ringer had summoned, slammed down onto the grounded next to its master.

He laughed as the fire spread down the king’s vines and towards his shell, only to be startled as something flashed overhead.

Carried in a stream of water of his own making, Dazzle, Jr’s Brionne, bypassed all their foes in a flash, before blowing, launching, and then landing on a bubble of water to break its fall. Everyone was stunned for a moment, before the sealion pokemon proceeded to hammer the king’s back with watergun blasts, which hurt like hell, but did extinguish the flames.

“You dare interfere!” the lich cried out as he jabbed a finger at the sea lion, who reapplied “Brionne!” unhelpfully.

”No, I do!” Jr announced as he stepped forwards, before holding his paintbrush aloft and calling out ”Benediction,” as he used his (long cooldown) magic to instantly restore his father to full hp.

“Then your soul is forfeit!” the necrodancer began to declare, only to be interrupted first by jr shouting ”I’m a kid, and I'm too irresponsible to be bound by any stinking contracts!” and then being cut off again when Rika added ”Same! I just found this out too, So thanks for that!” without actually getting involved just yet.

“Then his is-” the NecroDancer finally got a word in, just as the music came to an end. It had been, after all, not the longest track.

Grift of the NecroDancer - Swan Song

Word Count: 2303 (+3 Exp)

“Gyah!” the NecroDancer roared in anger, striking down all three of his summons simultaneously. He’d been so sure that he had Bowser on his last legs that he hadn’t paid proper attention to the time, and now he’d been bested a third time. He couldn’t even rightfully devour any of these infuriating reptile souls, since neither they nor their creature companions had either fought him nor joined the dance. These repeated wounds to his pride were getting to be too much for the lich to bear; the rules were supposed to make him win, not these upstarts!

“Hm, I didn’t take you for a ribbon dancer Bowser. And you say you won a contest for it?” Sectonia said, commenting on the Koopa Kings performance. Her tone wasn’t sarcastic, but sounded like she was a bit surprised and more so impressed. She did use his name instead of using a nickname after all. Considering what she just saw, not all of his bluster wasn’t just hot air it seemed. Which was both interesting, and concerning.

”Yeah, I’ve got all sorts of talents you don’t know about. A real, uh, what’s the word?” Bowser paused and clicked his fingers as he tried to think of it till Kamek suggested ”A renaissance Koopa? ”

”What? No? What even is a renaissance?” Bowser asked, to which Kamek had to admit he had no idea.

”Uh. Anyway, Yeah! I’m great! Got a medal for it and everything” Bowser said, getting back on track, and clumsily sidestepping having to admit that it wasn’t a gold.

"It was a nice performance," Primrose agreed. She'd started healing her own wounds with the flame of Warmth while Bowser had taken his turn. Though she hadn't thought the king was lying in the first place, it was still a pleasant surprise to see his moves. Even Therion was impressed, though he didn't say so out loud. The thief glanced at the seething NecroDancer. Two to go.

Meanwhile, the NecroDancer was still brooding, fallen back upon his throne to stew in his anger. Come to think of it, what were so many non-contractors doing in the Crypt to begin with?

“Hey, numbskull!” a cheerful voice called across his throne room, getting the lich’s attention. Two more ladies had separated themselves from the crowd of lifeless onlookers, both with peaked ears, long tails, and self-sure smiles. While Tingyun remained a couple steps back with one slender finger to the sly smile on her lips, Nadia waltzed forward into the limelight with her palms held up as if to say what’s all this about. Her team was on a roll, after all, and though he’d taken no damage the NecroDancer looked pretty beat. “What’s the matter, can’t bust heads or a groove? More like Inept-roDancer! I hope you’re not outta gas just yet though, ‘cause we still got a couple bones to pick and scores to settle!” She jumped up with a spinning twirl, her head detaching to stay stationary while her body whirled beneath her, then landed with a theatrical bow, her tails waving behind her. “Ready for an encore purrformance?”

Her prospective opponent gave her a withering look, but not even his sourest scowl could seemingly put a dent in Nadia’s excitement. Before replying, he took another good look around his throne room. Four newcomers without contracts. Three new contractors who’d won their souls, soon to be joined by a fourth, and then an older contractor with ample reason to despise him. Now they lingered, circling like vultures, their hungry eyes fixed on him as they waited for the last few challengers to cross the finish line. They weren’t just waiting to have their souls returned, the NecroDancer realized. They were here to seal the deal.

His bony fingers gripped the arms of his chair as his mouth tightened into a sneer. “...No.”

Nadia straightened up slowly, her expression incredulous. “Whuh? H-hey, don’t get cold feet now, Necro-dunce-er. What’s the matter, scared of li’l old me?” She crossed her arms with a smile, trying to goad him into facing her. “If you’re fresh outta guts and backbone, there’s plenty more ‘round here to choose from, ya know!”

“Do you all think I’m stupid?” the NecroDancer hissed suddenly, causing the room to go quiet. “I can see where this is going! You’re plotting my downfall. Think you can use my system against me? I AM the system!” With a snap of his fingers he summoned six contracts, signed and sealed: the ones belonging to Bowser, the Octopath Travelers, Sectonia, Tingyun, and Ms Fortune.

The feral instinctively flattened her ears, but she did not lose her smile. “What are you…?”

“I am altering the Terms of Service!” the Necrodancer crowed gleefully, summoning a black marker to his hand. “Ten thousand points to challenge me? Hah! How about twenty thousand? And a preemptive challenge results in the forfeiture of your soul for all eternity? Effective retroactively, of course! Muahahahaha-!”

“You can’t do that.” From the shadows nearby, two yellow eyes gleamed. The nebulous, ghostly Snatcher surged forward to stand at the NecroDancer’s side, looming over his shoulder as he peered at the contracts with his hands clasped together. “Modifying the Terms of Service after signature? Tsk, tsk, tsk. That’s against the law.”

The lich glared up at him. “Know your place, consultant! My word is law!”

“The law is law.” The Snatcher narrowed his eyes. “Don’t you scribble on that contract, now...”

Scoffing, the lich put the tip of his marker down on the first contract and began to scribble.

Without an instant’s hesitation, the Snatcher slapped the ever-loving shit out of him. His open hand struck the NecroDancer full in the face with the force of a runaway truck, launching the lich backward with such force that he smashed through his own throne and left a crater in the solid stone brick of the back wall. Something within the NecroDancer snapped, and after a brief moment his look of utter shock, he began to self-destruct. Dark purple energy poured out of eyes and mouth as his body squirmed and spasmed, all the souls he collected but not devoured yet rushing out of his body like air out of a balloon, which the process in fact sounded amusingly like. The contracts went up in green flames and the souls of all the contractors returned to their rightful places, leaving Nadia and the other the normal amount of empty inside. For her part, the feral was grinning ear to ear, delighted not just to have her soul back but to see the miserable old carcass laid low.

Naturally, the Snatcher loved it, too. “Haha… FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!”

When the last soul left the NecroDancer’s body, leaving him little more than an empty shell, his husk promptly exploded. From the purplish smoke cloud flew the mask fragment to clatter and bounce along the floor before coming to a stop. However, the NecroDancer’s tainted soul -and all its unholy power- flooded from his lantern into the Golden Lute, surrounding it with dark, chaotic energy. As Nadia watched, wary of whatever was going to happen next, the instrument rose into the air, vibrating violently. Then it disappeared in a purple flash, warping away to parts unknown.

“Oh.” For a second there it looked like the Seekers might have another fight on their hands, but whatever that was with the Golden Lute, but now that it had vanished, Nadia relaxed. The aftermath was someone else’s promise, or at least another day’s. As for the NecroDancer, she didn’t actually mind things turning out this way. Though she’d inadvertently gotten herself tangled up in his web, he really didn’t make that much of an impression. Maybe if he actually put her dancing skills to the test he’d come off as a worthy opponent, but in the end he’d been little more than an annoying impediment. That he’d spelled his own defeat by abusing his legal powers was deliciously ironic. At least I learned not to go blindly signing things anymore, she thought. Speaking of…

She looked over at the Snatcher, her brows furrowed. “So… what’s your deal? Are we cool?”

“...I suppose. You at least made this interesting.” The Snatcher flew over and seated himself on the throne, grinning smugly. “Not to mention rewarding! Thanks to a certain clause in the deal I signed with the NecroDancer, the sum total of his assets are now mine. Thanks for the help!” He frowned and waved the Seekers toward the Crypt’s front entrance. “Now scram. Exit’s that way. I’ve got a lot to do around here. If you really wanna do business, drop by Subcon in the Twilight Forest.”

With a shrug, Nadia picked up the mask fragment. She turned to look at the somewhat disappointed audience and gave a cheerful bow. “And that, boos and ghouls, is that!”

For her part, Tingyun seemed quite pleased that the Snatcher disposed of the NecroDancer. She’d quietly produced an ornate fan from the ether when things looked like they’d escalate, but with the situation defused she happily discarded it once more without ever calling forth its golden electricity. “Works for me! We make a pretty good team, don’t you think? ‘Destroyed the NecroDancer without lifting a finger’...makes for a pretty good tagline, hm~” She winked at the Seekers. “If you’re looking to get out of here, benefactors, perhaps I could join you. When I first descended into this place I traveled with an escort through the Hollow Bough. I’d be happy to lead you back the same way.”

“Always happy to make new friends!” Nadia smiled at the foxian, then glanced at the others, though she felt like she’d hear no objections.

"Sure. That's where we're headed, after all," Therion said. The Hollow Bough should be their next destination, according to what that Organization member had said, anyway.

Primrose linked her fingers together and stretched her arms out in front of her. Considering how everything else had gone in this crypt, the lich succumbing to his own contract was quite the poetic justice. She was willing to let the other mysteries around the area go. "We made good time here, I think. And having a guide forward will save us even more."

There weren't many issues from Sectonia at least. Considering how things resolved with this ‘Snatcher’, Sectonia could only ponder at the guy. Perhaps his powers relied on contracts and outside of them he had nothing he could do? Still, the fact that his contracts were what lead to this whole scenario made her wary of him. But for the most part he seemed to be amicable, and if she ever needed a lawyer, perhaps he would make a good one? But then that was what the NecroDancer thought as well, and that ended poorly for him. Well, she knew what he was about now, and he did mention his weakness casually, so… He was an enigma.

”Shame, I really wanted to punch that guy in the face” Bowser lightly complained, before admitting ”It was kinda funny to see him go out like that though”

”Some just deserts, that is for sure” Kamek agreed, and though the actual contract writer still being in business was something of a loose end, he didn’t much mind that.

Other loose ends, the group were also briefly approached by Cadence, who had come to thank them for their part in freeing her, her father and, well, everyone “I didn’t really believe you when you insinuated you’d get us all out. Guess you proved me wrong”

”Eh, don’t mention it” the king waved her off

”So, what do you intend to do with your newfound freedom?” Kamek enquired, before preemptively suggesting ”If you wish to travel through this Hollow Bough with us I’m sure we’d be happy to have you”

In response the woman shook her head and explained “Dad came here for the golden lute, so we’re going to stick around for a bit, see if we can work out where it's gone. Despite the danger. Its a … family matter”

”Ah. A shame, but I wish you luck with that all the same” the mage offered her, before they parted ways.

”As for the rest of you” Bowser addressed the masses of other former contractors ”We dealt with the pizza tower guy earlier, so if you want to get back to the home of tears, that way’s pretty clear”

While things were wrapping up inside, a thought came to Therion's mind. "Those three that didn't come inside - what are we gonna do about them?"

He spoke of Jesse, Ganondorf, and Rubick. If they found a way around and are waiting for us on the other side, I'm gonna be annoyed.

”I believe they attempted to head upwards instead” Kamek, who had been outside with them before he teleported inside, informed them ”as I last saw them ascending up above the large glowing root in the cavern back there”

”I mean, can’t we, well, call them on those earbud comms devices you gave us?” Rika then quietly suggested.

Therion's expression had started to tighten when Kamek mentioned they were going "up." A mix of some misplaced jealousy and bitterness at himself for not taking that route too. It had also felt a little like the others just left them to deal with this whole soul issue on their own, but he could ignore that as "every man for himself" was a way of life he'd followed for a long time. The thief glanced at Rika after sighing to expel his more negative thoughts.

"Sure. If it reaches as far as wherever they went."

"It should," Primrose said. "Until that ghoul sets up a new contract system, if he does, it's probably safe to call them back to go through the crypt."
Hidden 9 mos ago 9 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Midgar - Quarantine Valley

Level 5 Goldlewis (129/50) Level 4 Sandalphon (41/40)
Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man
Word Count: 1827

Faced with a massive, treacherous landscape of rusty rooftops, riddled with countless hazards, unknowns, and enemies laying in wait, Goldlewis wouldn’t have known where to begin if not for a certain fortunate coincidence. While the Seekers might not have any bloodhounds on hand, if a strange turn of events they found themselves with someone who smelled like one, and in several respects. Once Geralt received the lost bag of their missing VIP, Irons, and took a deep whiff, he not only picked up the scent but also began to blaze a trail. “Well, I’ll be darned,” Goldlewis remarked, impressed. Just how many tricks did these people have up their sleeves? Ready to roll out, the veteran hoisted his coffin and began to follow his guide. “Lead the way, sir.”

With Sandalphon and Hal watching over their progress from on high, the Seekers set out. There was a lot of ground to cover, so they elected to split up to take different routes through the area and pursue different points of interest. This decision was made when the team drew near a large section of rooftop patrolled by a huge, menacing robot, smack dab in the middle of their intended route. Though badly corroded by prolonged exposure to the elements without maintenance and covered in damage accrued by many battles, the bipedal Unmanned Gear known as the Tyrant was fearsome to behold. Modeled after the Tyrannosaurus Rex of old, it blended its inspiration’s primeval savagery with the dispassionate cruelty of modern heavy weapons. Iron’s scent trail led around it, and most of the Seekers chose to give it a wide berth too, but not all of them. Supported by Roland, the gynoid duo of Blazermate and Susie decided to take the metal monster head-on. As they fought, azure energy bolts from Sandalphon’s rifle streaked through the sky above the others, hammering the Tyrant from afar to help pile on the damage. Their skirmish meant no healing for the rest of the team until the Tyrant fight concluded, but Goldlewis did not object. Even if the trio just wanted to do it for the rewards, their work would help make Quarantine Valley a safer place for everyone.

Yet, these rooftops were more dangerous than even he could have realized. When Zenkichi took the low road, delving into a dark area suspended between a couple buildings, his conscientious attempt to help out young Aurele got him a lot more trouble than he bargained for. None of the others saw what happened down there, and Zenkichi wasn’t inclined to regale them with the details, but in the end he secured a route for Aurele to escape Ny’agai Street and head back toward Sector V, unaware that he’d never see his friends again.

Once the detective called Sandalphon to request her oversight, she fixed her attention on Aurele to make absolutely sure that he got home safely. Her gunstaff might not have a scope, but her eyes were sharp, and as she watched the teary-eyed boy go she precisely calculated the path he’d take based on his movements. Twice he ran into danger, once when an aberration dragged itself out of a patched-up lean-to and once when a bright red crate Aurele ran by turned out to be a mimic in disguise. The first monster Sandalphon nailed with a headshot before it even rose from the ground, but when she shot at the transforming mimic she missed twice. It was able to fully get up and run after Aurele, its spiked tentacles swinging. As it closed the distance, Sandalphon took aim, narrowing her eyes as her pupils turned into neon green reticles. With projectiles that had travel time, this wasn’t easy. She led her shot, and as the mimic ran down Aurele on the bridge back to Sector V, her third shot slammed into its head and knocked it over the railing to plunge down to the corrupted streets far below. Sandalphon’s pupils became stress marks as she watched the boy disappear to safety, then turned to resume her overwatch. 33% shot placement is unacceptable, she admonished herself. I need an upgrade.

Not long after that, Geralt’s nose led him and Goldlewis to their destination. Both were duly warned about the red matter signature present at that location, and upon arriving they found the broken vial spattered with trace amounts of Blue Evolve. Barely did they get the chance to identify it, though, then they were attacked by an invisible foe that struck with the deadly pierce of a lance and the crushing might of a heavy shield. Geralt made the spur-of-the-moment decision to dose himself with Blue Evolve then and there, and though such a small amount barely allowed him to see or strike the chimera, it made a crucial difference. After taking a few hits and being utterly unable to fight back, Goldlewis followed suit. Was this unwise? Probably. Was it hygienic? Definitely not. But the veteran was used to doing whatever it took to survive. Once he quaffed the drops in the very bottom of the cracked vial, he could see the demonic-looking outline of his enemy, taller than the average human but shorter than either Geralt or himself. The Laius attacked with brutal simplicity and lackluster speed. Its attacks were almost too easy to dodge or block against now that he could see them, and it wasn’t enough of an adroit defender with its shield to protect itself all that well, either. A little Blue Evolve really does make all the difference. Though they both dealt drastically reduced damage against the monster thanks to their low dosage, the pair’s combination of might and magic killed the thing after a few moments, leaving its spirit -as unsettlingly red and glitchy as those found on the highway that first night- for Geralt to collect. The Witcher called it in, reporting what the scouting party had found.

“Understood,” Sandalphon replied. From her perch she’d seen the fight -or more accurately, two thirds of it- go down, unable to help. Even if Hal’s scans could somehow give the sniper a bead on the chimera, there was no guarantee it would stay put long enough for her shot to hit. Or that her allies wouldn’t accidentally get in the way. Not that her shots could hit a chimera anyway. She wasn’t frustrated, per se; the situation was just nonoptimal. But now that Goldlewis and Geralt had inoculated themselves with Blue Evolve, they were the team’s best bet against any more chimeras they ran into. Sandalphon quickly brought everyone else up to date. “Goldlewis and Geralt followed Iron’s trail to a dead end, where they found traces of Blue Evolve that they used to fight and kill a chimera.”

Hal’s drone was en route to their location. Upon arriving at the rooftop, he re-scanned the area. “I’m picking up less red matter than before. But it’s not completely gone…” When he probed closer to the source, a localized crimson lightning flash went off in front of him, and a glitchy, bloody wound ripped open in reality itself. “And there it is. A gate to the Astral Plane. And bad news: Iron’s scent trail leads right into it.”

“Just like with Wind Chimes,” Goldlewis reasoned. He glanced at Geralt. “We can get in, grab her, and get out. ‘Specially now we got a chance in hell of fightin’ ‘em.”

“A gate has opened in their vicinity,” Sandalphon reported to Blazermate, Susie, Roland, Zenkichi, and Karin. “It sounds like they’re going to proceed inside to retrieve the VIP. Please proceed to the location and stand by to provide assistance if necessary.” The gate stuck out like a sore thumb, so the others would be able to find it (not to mention fly or grapple to it) easily. While they might not be able to fight chimeras, they could feasibly help out in other ways.

The two big men geared up to take the plunge, and Hal’s drone went to join them. As he sighed, his drone performed an agitated flip. “Welp, here we go.” Together, the three leaped in.

This time, the transition between dimensions wasn’t as fast, and when they arrived it wasn’t an arena Goldlewis found himself in. Instead he found himself in the middle of a ton of geometric formations like an angular mountain range or city buildings, all black obsidian streaked with narrow golden swirls and cluttered with outcrops of red crystal. Being here was just as uncomfortable and unnerving as Goldlewis remembered, and worse, instead of a path ahead there lay just a couple disjointed slabs and islands, separated by empty space over the infinite abyss.

“I’m picking up a biosignal. It might be Iron!” Hal reported. ”The signal’s still strong. Let’s find her before that changes!”

Goldlewis whistled. Just the thought of falling forever, or until he aberrated, made the hairs on his neck stand up. “Halo? We’re gonna need folks with more mobility.”

Back in the World of Light, Sandalphon heard him loud and clear. “Roger. All units, proceed into the Astral Plane with utmost caution.”

Once inside, Susie, Blazermate, and Karin could put their flight and grappling to good use. They found strange geometric loci of red matter that seemed to function as switches when a group of them were struck simultaneously, which started platforms moving back and forth over the void that the others could use. The path forward was treacherous, sometimes featuring other sliding blocks that could knock people off ledges or red matter singularities that steadily fired corruption clusters down corridors or across bridges. Still, after a few twists, turns, and downward slopes, the team reaches a more open area.

Almost immediately, a burst of dark energy went off atop the soon-to-be battleground, and from within appeared a handful of strange figures. Two were bladed Voidrangers, two wielded cannon-wielding Eliminators, and behind them the one that walked behind them on hooves like a horse’s, arms crossed, was a Trampler. These beings were inorganic and alien, but not really demonic in appearance, and not even a little bit red. “What the heck are those?” Hal exclaimed as the others readied their weapons. “Whatever they are, they’re not chimeras, that’s for sure!”

As if in response to him, or perhaps the intrusion, a keening cry rang out through the area. From above swooped three winged creatures with bodies of pale purple-white, bladed legs, and fleshy pastel-green ‘feathers’, seemingly feminine in shape. Hal’s drone shrank back. “But those are! WIG-C-76E8F-01, ‘Aello’. It looks like we’ve wandered into some kind of turf war!”

“And Iron’s on the other side,” Goldlewis grunted. It’d naturally fall to him and Geralt to eliminate the chimeras, but as he’d learned in the fight against the Laius, his weapons weren’t effective against these things. Only his body. Flying enemies would be tough if he couldn’t shoot them. He cracked his knuckles, then his neck. “Well, we’ve got plenty of targets. Let’s take ‘em out!”

Suoh - Other Onslaught

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

The moment the action began, the fighting was furious and nonstop. Though together the Seekers and the Psych-OSF soldiers made for a formidable united front, these Others had a serious numbers advantage, so the heroes’ saving grace was that their foes were neither coherent nor organized. Rather than taking the monsters all on at once, they could fight and exterminate them a handful at a time, though that didn’t mean that any encounter couldn’t be their last if they weren’t careful.

Luka knew the danger, but he couldn’t afford to be slow and methodical with the lives of so many innocent civilians on the line. A gang of four Kitchen Rummies were working their way down the sidewalk, burning everything in their path that they couldn’t whack to pieces with their hooked steel pipes. The young man gripped his Weight Hammer tight and teleported into the fray, covering dozens of yards in a single bound. He appeared and swung in a full circle, building up centripetal force, then snapped the jet-colored mannequin’s curled brass leg out from under it. He transitioned his momentum into an overhead smash directly into the monster’s core lattice, breaking it in half. Two of the other Others tottered his way while the third stuck the burner it had for a head through the window it had just shattered. Without hesitation Luka teleported past the pair. Appearing behind the Kitchen Rummy, he dropped his hammer, grabbed its legs, and pulled. The Other fell forward against the building, landing on its knees, and the instant he could do so Luka grabbed its body and took it down with a German suplex. Its burner slammed into the head of his hammer and smashed to pieces. As it slumped down its fellows encroached, so Luka grabbed his weapon and sent the fallen Rummy flying toward them with a baseball swing. They went down in a pile, tangled up long enough for him to finish the job with a few well-placed hammer swings.

Next he turned his attention toward a pair of Saws Paws breaking through a makeshift barricade, teleporting past a handful of Pools to reach them. His target heard him coming and ducked backward out of the way, making Luka overswing, and as he tried to recover the other Saws Paws leaped at him with its blade-wielding legs extended. It landed a couple slashes on his shoulder and back, then tried to floor him with a hefty whack from its giant Rafflesia bloom. It was delayed just enough for Luka to dodge away, then dodge again as the first charged him. He rushed after it, dragging his hammer along the ground, then launched it with an upward swing as it turned. It flipped over onto its flower, and with a revolving blow Luka sent it spinning away. By that time the other Saws Paws reached him, slashing again and again. Luka blocked until his wily opponent used its tail to coil around the hammer’s head and yank it out of the soldier’s grasp. Surprised, Luka threw himself out of the way of its follow-up leap, but as the Saws Paws faced him again his weapon lay out of reach. Tapping into Yuito’s Psychokinesis, however, Luka retrieved his hammer in time to parry the Other’s pounce and leave it reeling. He paused just long enough to aim, then cannoned his hammer head-first with Psychokinesis, plowing into the Saws Paws and crushing it against the side of a building. Even before its ashes hit the ground, Luka was off to the next batch of targets, his hammer floating back into his little hands.

Meanwhile, Yuito had engaged a flock of Pendus, throwing objects and jumping off bits of the scenery to get their attention. Scummy Pendus were nothing to write home about, falling to his remote-controlled swordblade like wheat to the scythe. The Plateau Pendus were a little trickier, their electric shots and divebombs demanding patience and perception in the midst of a chaotic battle, but Yuito could manage. Dodging bolts from two of them, he used his Psychokinesis to interpose a hefty metal bench into its path, stunning it on impact. As the bench fell he surged forward to pull off a three-hit triangle slash, severing the monster’s wings and then the neck. The two other Plateaus prepared to shoot again, but Yuito focused on the storefront behind them. When he reached out with his power, the glass window shattered, and its deadly shards hurtled forward to pierce the Others’ bodies. From there he used the bench again and sideswiped the pair hard enough to break the bench, killing one Other but stunning the other. When a bulb popped out of its chest, Yuito performed a Brain Crush, simply yanking the bulb out of the monster’s body with his Psychokinesis to kill it. The moment he sheathed his sword, however, another Plateau hit him from behind, first clubbing his head and then grabbing him beneath the arms to lift him into the air. He grunted in pain and anger as he rose, the ground receding beneath him. Unable to use his arms, he drew his sword with Psychokinesis and embedded it into the Plateau’s head. A quick kick to the blade’s handle broke its neck, forcing it to release him, and as he spun away Yuito dispatched his foe with a distant crescent slash. Its halves reached the ground before he did.

His Pendu troubles weren’t over, however. When he ran at the next one, a specimen with dragonfly wings and red arms, it darted away at an incredible speed, leaving afterimages in its wake. Just like Arashi, Yuito noted, narrowing his eyes. This Other has Hypervelocity: a Bandeau Pendu. He wouldn’t be able to lay a finger on it normally, but luckily Yuito had the counter. “Luka, I need this.” Using his friend’s Teleportation, the young man closed the distance, then appeared above the Other. After a quick one-two with his sword he dealt the Bandeau Pendu a sort of drop kick, throwing it to the street. Its Hypervelocity wouldn’t work for a moment, and a moment was all he needed. Once he landed, Yuito yanked a sidewalk advert from the ground and sent it spinning into the Other, knocking it flat. His projectile broke in half, but he hammered his foe with the halves anyway, prompting another bulb that a Brain Crush quickly took care of.

Yuito, Hanabi, and Luka ended up converging on a small horde of lesser Others, including Pools and Paws, and together they dispatched them quickly. “Nice going, guys!” the girl exclaimed before refocusing on a new threat. “Might wanna stick together for that one, though.” It was a half-equine, half-metal monstrosity with scaled fruit and pruned branches: the Juttie Chinery. As it charged, the three soldiers went to work. Both Luka and Yuito empowered their melee attacks with Hanabi’s fire, dealing enough damage with hit-and-run attacks to send the Chinery into a berserk rage, at which point Luka and Hanabi switched to long range with Yuito’s Psychokinesis to pound it with random objects. Luka ended the barrage by throwing his Weight Hammer at the Chinery’s head, then catching it as it bounced off for an impressive overhead slam. The monster roared in pain and lifted its arm to grab him, only for Hanabi to use her Prometheus Torch to vault over him and pour salt on the wound with a flaming heel drop. In blind rage the Other lunged at them, but the two dodged to either side, and as the Chinery looked up it witnessed a bus careening toward him under the power of the psychic riding on top of it. The withering impact sent the Other onto its back with a shriek, and from the base of its spine popped its bulb. Yuito used his Psychokinesis to wrap its own tail around the bulb and pulled the tail tight to sever it, killing the rest.

The battle raged on, the heroes steadily accruing fatigue and wounds and the number of Others steadily dwindled. Fighting all the way down the avenue to Main Street would be brutal, but it looked like they wouldn’t have too. Another force seemed to be fighting down the avenue from the other direction, slaughtering Others as its members advanced. Things finally came to a head when the two sides met in the center of the avenue, the local population of others pincered and squashed beneath them. All that remained was the Dispen Perry, but as the Seekers watched, the other team tore it apart. While four troopers -Pvts Yamaguchi Wolfe, Kasumi Tucker, Tanabe Row, and Kotome Aguilar- fired on it with a compound bow, a grenade launcher, a sawblade launcher, and throwing knives respectively, three duos pounded it with their psychic abilities. Clad in sleek yet theatrical red and black that masked their physical changes, the P-types obeyed their commands to the letter, Sabrina with the mind-bending might of her Alakazam fusion and Will with the precognitive mastery of his Xatu fusion. The PSI prodigies Ninten and Lucas worked together, the more courageous boy covering for the more timid one while he dished out damage with PK Thunder and Freeze. Lastly, Morris Martinez used his psychic trampolines to evade and knock around the monster, allowing Gisu to strike it with her weaponized hoverboard. Despite its strength and hydrokinesis, the Dispen Perry was quickly overwhelmed, the killing blow struck by Gisu when her board sliced through the monster’s exposed bulb.

“That’s not my squad,” Yuito muttered. He had a bad feeling about this–one that his friends all shared.

As the Major Other died, the ten psychics formed up facing the four Seekers and their three friends. “Well, well, well, look who it is,” Morris taunted them from his trademark weaponized chair atop his Levitation ball. “The fugitives. We’ve got orders to haul you back to base, so I’m afraid this is the end of the line.”

Gisu glared at Hanabi. “What are you doing? You should be fighting alongside us. Your platoon! Instead you’re with these traitors?”

Hanabi could only fidget, her hands behind her back. “I-I know how this looks. But listen, we’ve been set up! We found out a bunch of horrible stuff that dangerous people don’t want the public to know. Knowing this, I can’t go on like normal, and I can’t surrender. If you’d just…”

“Save it for the judge, traitor” Will interjected, unfurling the wings that had been acting like a robe. “Whatever your reasons, you’re coming with us.”

“I’ve informed Commanders Sasha and Camilla. We’re clear to proceed, and authorized to use lethal force if necessary,” Sabrina added flatly. Her face remained stoic as spoons began to levitate around her. “Do not resist.”

Luka took a deep breath. Red-on-red. Nothing more needed to be said. He and the others had already come so far; they couldn’t afford to back down now.

The Under - Hollow Bough

Level 12 Nadia (86/120)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Artorias’ @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 3180

In less than two hours, the Seekers’ misadventure in the Crypt of the NecroDancer had already come to a close, with their unexpected detour meeting an unexpected end. For the most part, Nadia felt pretty relieved that she didn’t actually end up having to stake her life on the dance routine she’d thrown together with Primrose. If she’d been up against any actual professional performers, the feral knew she’d be toast. Whether or not she had a knack for the art, success was the result of practice, practice, and more practice, for which there was no substitution. Whether dancing, fighting, or thieving, the story was the same. Still…she did feel a little let down. Some part of her really wanted to strut her stuff out there–to see what she was capable of. Oh well. Maybe another day, without the shadow of impending doom hanging over her head, another opportunity to dance her heart out would come her way. For now, she and her teammates needed to get a move on, out of this tomb and on to greener pastures. Next stop: Hollow Bough.

Before they could leave this soniferous sepulcher, however, the others brought up something that had almost slipped Nadia’s mind: the three who hadn’t entered the Crypt. “Oh yeah, yeah! We oughta let ‘em know they’re free to enter!” With the NecroDancer deposed and his dominion dismantled it stood to reason that those three could get in to rejoin those who signed the Snatcher’s contract. Normally there wouldn’t be a chance in hell of communicating this properly, but thanks to the miracle of her linkpearl, Nadia was able to ring up her contact of choice among the trio who abstained. “Heya Jesse!” she greeted her fellow mallrat in a chipper tone. “We’ve just about wrapped up here. The NecroDancer just sang his swan song, though between you and me, he REALLY couldn’t carry a tomb, heehee. Ah, anyway, the Crypt should be open now, so hurry and catch up to us!”

The FBC director offered an alternative. “Actually, we kind of found another way. ‘Big Dorf’ recognized it, and said it’s a kind of shrine that should lead us to the surface. There’s loot, too. You guys go ahead for now, we’ll catch up if this turns out to be a dead end.”

Her news about an alternate route took Nadia by surprise. Still, it didn’t come as a shock that Jesse would manage to find and forge her own path. Whether their separate ways would link up again was anyone’s guess, but they’d been lucky so far, and anything was possible. “Alrighty then, if you say so. Good luck out there!” For a moment the catgirl paused, the faintest hint of the worry she felt breaking through her sunny disposition. Then she went ahead and cut off the link. Precisely because anything was possible, everything was uncertain. Nadia didn’t want to say goodbye to any more friends. But she had to trust in Jesse and the others, and that she’d see them again just the same as she’d see Geralt, Sakura, Ace, and all the rest.

With that settled, she and the others navigated through the remainder of the Crypt. Between all its rooms, staircases, and hallways, it was something of a labyrinthine dungeon, but once they reached the central Nexus it was a clear shot to the exit. On the way they passed by multitudes of skeletons, zombies, ghosts, and other ghoulies also clearing out. Those who possessed sufficient humanity and/or sentience could depart through either the back door, which led to the Kingdom’s Edge and, as Bowser helpfully explained, the Home of Tears via Pizza Tower, or they could leave through the front and explore Hollow Bough alongside their saviors. Plenty of undead had no intention of leaving, however. Whether they found new meaning or purpose in the Crypt or simply lacked the wherewithal to leave, they’d remain here, partying, chilling, and dancing. Not for eternity, but until the worlds were saved. As she looked around, Nadia gave a wistful smile at the lost souls. If you had nowhere else to go, this wasn’t an awful place to be.

As she lingered, a ghost suddenly popped up from the floor in front of her, taking her by surprise. “Whoa!” Nadia sharpened her claws on instinct, ready to fight, only to find the specter bowing in front of her playfully, wagging its ghostly tail. Though a little unnerving with those big, glowing eyes, its cute appearance disarmed the tension, and Nadia cracked a smile so she could laugh at herself. “Aww, you little stinker. C’mere!” When she held open her arms, the Polterpup jumped right into them, his tail whipping from side to side as he licked her face with a big, pink tongue. “Ah, ack, ptoo, ugh!” Nadia couldn’t have guessed what touching a ghost would feel like, but as it turned out, he both looked and felt like a giant, soft marshmallow. Giggling helplessly, she craned her neck from side to side to try and escape the Polterpup’s licks.

Tingyun tittered as she watched the scene unfold. “Looks like you’ve got quite a handful, Ms. Fortune.”

“Nah, I’m a dog person. Love ‘em to bits, ‘specially small ones. Crazy, right?” Nadia crouched down and set the dog on the ground. “Who’s your owner, chucho?” When she looked around though, she didn’t see anyone searching for a lost pet. The Polterpup just rolled over, begging to have his tummy rubbed, and naturally the catgirl had to honor his request. As much as he delighted her, the implication of his existence also made her a little sad. “Poor little guy. Probably got loved to death.”

After thinking for a moment, Tingyun tilted her head. “This place is full of lost souls, but perhaps he’s found somewhere to belong. Or more specifically, someone to belong to.”

“You think?” Nadia raised her eyebrows, then looked down at Polterpup. “Well, I am incredibly lovable. Guess that makes us two peas in a pod, eh Chucho?” She smiled and held out a hand. “Whaddya say, pal? Wanna be paw-tners?” To her delight, the Polterpup put up its little ghostly paw to shake, and they were agreed. “Wow, that’s a way better deal than I got from that other ghost. C’mon, Chucho!” Her new friend jumped on her shoulder, his back half hanging down on her back, and Nadia joined those headed toward the mausoleum’s front entrance.

Stepping out of the dark, relatively cramped stone chambers of the Crypt and into Hollow Bough made for quite the drastic change. The Seekers had entered an enormous, sprawling cave system of tunnels, overgrown grottos, and vast galleries not of stone, but of petrified wood. Branches and roots of immense size curled and twisted through the musty air alongside the trunks, and almost everywhere they looked they could see familiar, spiky, blood-red tendril. Evidently the source of the Creeper Vines, this region also featured their bloated, stationary cousins with horn-like spikes and retractable white spines large enough to be wielded as weapons. Nadia wished that she could say that this underground biome possessed the sort of peaceful silence you might expect in a forest (apart from the shuffle and clatter of feet from the handfuls undead setting out on their journeys) but unfortunately that was not the case. In addition to ominous creaking and crackling, the place hummed with the angry wingbeat of Deeptora wasps, loudest around their horrid-looking papery nests that smoldered an vivid orange from within. Smiling wryly, Nadia zipped up her jacket right away. With the changes to her outfit much less of her skin was showing than usual, so hopefully those wasps’ stingers couldn’t pierce clothing. If only she still had a hood.

Tingyun winced at the sound of wasps as well, sneaking an envious glance in the feral’s direction. “Well benefactors, here we are,” she began, mustering up her courage and walking a few steps across the wooden ground. “It’s something of a hostile environment I’ll admit, and woefully easy to get lost in.”

“Hm? You said you know where we’re goin’, right?” Nadia double-checked.

“Of course! I certainly wouldn’t be much of a guide otherwise.” She knelt down and picked up what looked like a discarded piece of junk, a tinted plastic cylinder partially encased in steel rings. “These spent flares mark the route we took to get down here. Unless things have changed, they should also serve to lead the way back.”

The Seekers set off, but the following the breadcrumb trail of flares was a little tougher than they bargained for. For one, the flares had been tossed haphazardly, leaving them stuck in random places sometimes, and never on a slope they could slide or bounce down. Additionally, unlike most of the underground areas the heroes had visited so far, it was actually very dark in Hollow Bough. Some things shone or gleamed a little, but this wasn’t a smorgasbord of bioluminescence like the Azure Weald beneath Carcass Isle. Nadia could see pretty well in low light, but not total darkness, and most of the others were worse off, so everyone needed to work together to light the way. “Really wishin’ I didn’t get rid of that night light right about now,” she grumbled. At the very least, Tingyun proved quite useful in this regard. After producing her fans, she could wave them to create swathes of bright golden electricity to briefly illuminate their surroundings. Bowser might be surprised to find that he could use his fire breath in such a flammable-looking environment, but it looked like it’d take a lot more fire than he had to ignite the Hollow Bough.

Working together, the Seekers forged onward, their path alternating between tight, winding tunnels and enormous hollows. All over they found thorny weeds and lichens both round and tubular, brown and green and red. When she stepped into one of the dry thorn tumbleweeds, Nadia quickly kicked it off. Overhead hung branches of bough cones the size of beach balls, which would detach from their withered sprigs at the slightest provocation. Thorn Pots were large plants that resembled meaty crimson flowers with clusters of yellow thorns in the middle that would discharge if the plant sustained damage. Likewise, the yellow, five-segmented, bulbous Goo Sacks would burst into a sticky ochre paste once ruptured. Larval Corpse Feeders extended from the walls in certain places, but they shrunk away whenever someone approached with only a dry scraping noise to betray their presence. The worm grass, meanwhile, was much, much more dangerous. After seeing a careless Crypt zombie get reduced to a skeleton in seconds, Nadia didn’t even want to get close to the worm grass, let alone fight it. Luckily, even if the worm grass traced her movement in a creepy way, their patches were pretty easy to jump over.

Their passage through the Hollow Bough hardly went uncontested. Within minutes of entering the Seekers encountered their primary threat: the Glyphid swarm. These eight-legged, eyeless alien arachnids came in many varieties, from the standard grunts to the armored guards with shieldlike forelegs to the vicious slicers with bladed limbs. After equipping her boxcutters, Nadia happily went to town on any disgusting bugs that came at her, slicing them limb from loathsome limb in spurts of green fluid. At first the guards gave her a little trouble, but when crossing one up with a jump-in attack the feral discovered that their abdomens were weak. This trend help true even when the first of several much larger and better-protected Praetorians appeared; the acid-breathing green juggernauts had vulnerable, brightly glowing behinds that could be used against them. Nadia quickly found her favorite strategy: Charge through them as a bolt of lightning, then mess up their weak spots with the free two-hit crit from Battery. The real problem turned out to be the red-shelled spitters, hiding up in the dark to rain down bolts of much stronger yellow acid on anyone who dared stand still for too long. Those spits did a shocking amount of damage if a couple connected, and Nadia quickly learned to watch the walls and ceilings.

Tingun turned out to be a huge help. By chiming her little bell, she could grant a single ally an appreciable attack buff for thirty seconds, and doing so empowered her own fan strikes with some of that ally’s strength. Once sufficiently energized, she could also perform a dance to boost an ally’s speed and give them a bunch of meter for super attacks. Jolted by her lightning, a glyphid Praetorian could do little but shriek in frustration as Tingyun finished it off. “Hmhmhm. Nothing like a fan for cooling you off when you get too heated,” she giggled.

She had to get a little more serious when a couple abnormalities showed up. In one cavern the group ran into a pair of Brother Long Legs, each an ink-black bundle of flesh and mouths only visible in the gloom thanks to their amber x-patterns. They used their incredibly long tentacles to both move around and grab prey, which at one point included Tingyun. “B-benefactors!” she yelped, trying to maintain her composure. “I could use some of your benefice right now!”

“I gotcha!” Nadia propelled herself into the air and used jets of blood to turn herself into an enormous flying sawblade. Her boxcutters sliced through the offending tentacle and Tingyun dropped to the ground, gracefully slowing her fall with her fans.

“...You’re too good to me~” She replied jokingly after getting her breath back.

Nadia just grinned and rejoined the fight. “Think nothin’ of it!”

After dealing with the Brother Long Legs and a couple freakish Centiwings, things quieted down for a little while as the Seekers resumed travel. At least until they heard echoed voices arguing up ahead. Some were reedy, and some were bassy, but all were grouchy. When the team exited the next tunnel they stepped into potentially the largest hollow yet, though this one seemed to be by design. In the middle stood a huge mechanical dias like a vault buried in the ground, and on top of it was an enormous bubble shield protecting an inverted machine pyramid. The voices belonged to a quartet of dwarves next to what might’ve been the shield’s projector, with three of the four in a heated debate.

“...We’ve barely got any nitra left after that Nemesis nearly buried us, you arsewipe!” The one in blue was saying. “If we split up now, we’re just askin’ to be killed!”

“We’ll just mine more nitra then, you blockhead. We ain’t pansies, we can each take a generator on our own! The longer we faff about, the more glyphids are comin’ to crawl up our arses!” the one in yellow disagreed.

The one in red objected. “What about Molly then? She can’t be in both places at once. How’re we gonna cash in our nitra if the mule’s not around to collect it?”

Chucho barked at all the excitement and scampered down toward the dwarves, and Nadia jogged after him, amused. “Hey, boys!” she called, greeting them with a wave. As she approached, she realized they really were dwarves; each stood about a head shorter than herself. “Whatever happened to ‘mining’ your manners? What’s all this about?”

Together the four looked her way, curious looks on the faces of those with their faces showing. Though gruff, they seemed friendly enough; after all, despite being incredibly well armed, none even reached for their weapons. The dwarf in blue seemed to speak for them. “Hey. We were just talkin’ about whether to split up and take out the generators for the Caretaker’s shield here, or tackle ‘em one at a time.”

“We can handle the generators no problem. As long as we meet back up for the Caretaker, we’re fine,” the one in yellow interjected.

After picking up Chucho to hold against her chest, Nadia raised an eyebrow. “Caretaker?”

“That big ol’ hunk o’ metal,” the one in red explained, jabbing a finger at the machine inside the energy shield. “It’s the biggest deal ‘round here. We’re plannin’ to wipe it out and pop open its vault for a crack at the goodies inside.” He pointed out two thick power cables leading out from the vault into two neighboring cave systems. “But to do that, we gotta find and hack both power generators, then get back here and take out the backup batteries to start the fireworks.”

Nadia tilted her head. “Kinda sounds like another boss.” She glanced at the others to see what they thought. “Maybe we can lend a hand. Won’t be a problem splittin’ up if we tag along with you?”

As the leader tugged his whiskers, considering it, the masked driller crossed his arms. “Wot’s the catch? You lookin’ to split the payout?”

“Well, naturally,” Nadia replied with a teasing grin.

“I’m sure we can work out something fair afterwards,” Tingyun reasoned. “You dwarves usually delve down here in digging machines, correct? I happened to come down with an earlier crew. Giving us passage upward would be reward enough.”

Before any other dwarf could interject, the leader agreed. “Roight then, you’re on. We can use the help, things’ve been rougher out here than normal. Wouldn’t be a stretch to call it Hazard 5 at this point in fact. You can call me Stetson. These are Cyclops, Paintbrush, and Overhard. We’ll go half n’ half, take out the generators, then…”

He went quiet. The sounds of shifting earth, scrabbling legs, and beating wings reached the Seekers, and Stetson sucked in his breath. “Swarm! It’s a big one!”

“You sound just like bloody Mission Control,” Cyclops groused as he pulled out his CRSPR flamethrower. Overhard started building a pair of turrets immediately, and without a word Paintbrush flicked off the safety on his heavy multi-rocket launcher. “Never thought I’d miss the boot-lickin’ bastard, but here we are.”

Shouldering his yellow launcher, Stetson launched a flare into the ceiling of the cavern, bathing it in light. It illuminated a horde of glyphids, mactera, and insectoid monsters even more reprehensible. “Contact! Lock and load!”
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey Spider!

Member Seen 16 hrs ago

Sakura Level 10: 14/100
Location: Suoh
Word Count: short
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 10: 15/100

Sakura grimaced and gagged, pulling her fist from the disgusting growth on the back of a Bile Pool. Relief and salvation as it mercifully turned to dust, including the goo between her fingers. ”Thank goodness for that. Imagine how much money this city saves on clean-up. Not to mention my sanity.” Sakura said, shaking her wrist to get the dust off her. It was a fierce bout, but a Seeker could really get into the rhythm of monster slaying. Soon they were chewing through them all like delicious potato chips. One after the other after the other. Sakura didn’t make it through entirely unscathed. A few stray hits ruined her streak every now and again. But a constant low level of aching was something she was accustomed too, even welcomed, and it wouldn’t reduce her performance. Not yet. It always took a little more than that to draw her blood.

While she was riding high on saving people and working with her friends, it was time for a humbling crash down to reality. Heart-rate and breathing elevated, she came to a stop as she and a group of the Seekers were face-to-face with another squad. And much to Sakura’s frustration, they were very keen on a fight. ”You’re not even going to let her talk?!” She exclaimed, offended on Hanabi’s behalf.

The other squad had just defeated a Major Other- in a way they had just worked together on the same team to defend the city. And now they turned on them just like that? Without even giving them a chance to speak? Did they really have so little trust in their own squadmate? They only did what they were told without a second thought. Then Sakura guessed her fists would have to do the talking.

Sakura snapped into her fighting position, bouncing on her feet, glaring at the opposition. It seemed like Gisu and Morris were looking to take on their old teammate. Sakura didn’t want Hanabi to be put in that position. Not just for her sake, but for the sake of the greater battle. They were already slightly outnumbered, if Hanabi struggled to fight her teammates the entire skirmish could fall apart.

Sakura would make herself known, then, to Gisu and Morris, bold and brash and ready to brawl. With a leap she interposed herself between Gisu and Hanabi.

”You blockheads wouldn’t know a traitor if you saw one every time you looked in a mirror! You don’t wanna talk it out? Fine! But you’ll find I’m much more fluent in ass-kicking than I am in English!” She punched her palm and slapped the sides of her head, peppy, snappy motions. She glanced over her shoulder at Hanabi for a brief second, making eye contact, silently asking for permission to fight in her place.

With that settled, she took flight, getting right into the action in her usual aggressive style. ”Let’s do it!” She gunned for the closer of the two, Gisu, first. She leapt forward and landed short, kicking out at Gisu’s knees and converting into a quick ”Hadoken!” to blast her off balance. Then she would attempt to jump clean over Gisu’s head and performing a flying Sakura Drop to close the distance against Morris and slam him out of his floating state and onto the ground.

Regardless of outcome, Sakura would lose a bit of her gumption on closer inspection. ”H-how old are you two, anyway?” She asked, a bead of sweat going down the side of her face.
Hidden 9 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 3 days ago

Level 11 Sectonia (holding 5 level up) - (23/110)
Location: The Under - DRG
Word Count: Less than 750.

Getting out of that crypt was something Sectonia was all for and once she had her soul back and was offered a way out, she was all for it. It was suggested that they contact ganondorf and the others that hadn't entered the crypt with them, but apparently they had found a way out of the under on their own? Well, she guessed thats fine? Either way, they had a bit more to ascend until they got to the area with this 'dream' manipulation item thing, and the next spot was a giant tree with red vines invasive infecting it. There were many bugs about, some small, some large, and some in nests like the various wasps. There were also 'other' things that, by observation, were quite dangerous to step into as one zombie from the crypt soon learned.

"From a crypt to a parasite infested tree." Sectonia said with a sigh. She perked up a little bit though when they ran into 4 dwarves, one of them she... sorta recognized? But the outfit and face was different. After they gave their names and objective, she said. "Hm? Wasn't your name Scout?" pointing at the dwarf with the grapple gun. The dwarf gave her a curious look. "I'm a scout, sure enough, but that's just my job. Ain't a name." Sectonia gave a short hmph, before saying. "I see, the other dwarf we saw must've been too embarrassed to give out his name then."

And there wasn't all that much time for more chat, as the glyphids and other bugs started to swarm as if something agitated them. Seeing as they were all hostile, there wasn't much to do but fight them. Seeing as Sectonia flew, she could stay out of the range of many of the grounded glyphids which noticed this too, and only ever tried to even go after the queen when she got close to a wall and she was the 'closest', but they really never got the chance. There were ranged bugs though, and these would be much more likely to target Sectonia since she was closest to them.

First, to deal with the ground targets and help those were were bound to it, Sectonia summoned her antillions to assist with their fire, frost, and lightning. Thanks to the fire caused by the dwarven driller's flamethrower, when he set a bug on fire and her ice antillion hit it with its ice attacks, the bug would die almost instantly out of shock. Of course there were... hundreds of them so the occasional thermal shock kill wasn't a big deal. Sectonia herself also caused a bit of chaos at first with her passive tesla coil shocking nearby glyphids and her spells able to do some AoE to clear some of them out. This was until she got hit by the acid of an acid spitter and changed her focus.

Sectonia ended up dedicating a lot of her time dealing with the red bugs crawling on the ceiling that spit acid that burned like crazy or the purple ones that spit webbing as they tended to target her more than the others. The purple ones were very easy to see, as their bio luminescent coloring made them stick out. The red ones however, could hide in the darkness better. If she hadn't eaten that moon stone, more than just a couple would be able to hit her and her allies with their acid once she was on the case of dealing with them. But thanks to that item, she could see in the dark fairly decently. It wasn't perfect nightvision, not at all, but her sight radius was bigger than the others in the darkness. Although there wasn't all that much darkness for long with the koopa troop doing their thing and Sectonia's own magic flying about.

She would find however, while hunting the acid and web spitters, that her swords and new staff were far more reliable due to the... uneven segments of the cavern roof and walls. While still fairly spacious due to the tree's giant size, it was easier to stab these bugs than strike them with lightning in most cases.
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