Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 22 hrs ago

Cage Match

Location: Mercy Dreams Fifth Layer
Jesse’s @Zoey Boey | Ganondorf’s @Double | Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee
Word Count: 4032 (+5 Exp)

As he struggled to navigate his way back to rejoin the Koopa Troop, Ganondorf instead happened across another curiosity. It appeared to be a cage at first, but closer inspection revealed it to be an elevator lift - albeit a somewhat oppressive looking one. Ganondorf reached up and activated his link pearl, ”I think I found a way further down.” he announced to the other Seekers, ”Some kind of elevator lift, shaped like a cage. I’m going to check it out.”

With this he cautiously stepped into the cage-like lift. When he did, the cage locked itself shut and began to make a descent. In fact it descended past the fourth layer and all the way down to the bottom layer of the prison, something the Gerudo King wasn’t expecting. At the bottom, the cage unlocked and allowed Ganondorf to exit from it. Whatever this layer was, to Ganondorf it looked an awful lot like a sewer, except with the usual archways caged off and the areas beyond them appearing to serve as prison cells. The floor appeared to be covered with a sickening green liquid that could very well have been sewage or something even worse, if it didn’t hiss and sputter like boiling oil. The thin stone walkway resembled a dock or footbridge of sorts.

”Lovely…” Ganondorf mused to himself, suddenly regretting having come down here.

“And so we meet again.” Jesse said, floating from up above, having hopped over the railing and floated on down after leaving the goblins to their fate. Her plan seemed to be working so she didn’t wanna risk fucking it up by doing anything more.

Jesse stood on the middle walkway, getting a look at the place. Including the mysterious bodies hooked up in chains. “Ah. Corpses suspended mid-air. Nostalgic.” Jesse joked darkly.

“Well, if there’s anything in this place, at this point it’s gotta be down here.” She began to jog forward.

The speech and movement drew attention Jesse and Ganondorf's way, though thankfully not from the hulking jailers that lurked about on this level. The vague feeling of being watched lasted only a moment before two allies revealed themselves.

"That's what we were thinking too," Primrose said. She'd since recovered from her run in with an illuminator on the layer above, so while her clothes had some small tears in them and her countenance was more severe than usual, she seemed fine in general. The same could be said for Therion, though his cat ears were low on his head and his tail was partly curled around his leg, expressing his discomfort with the prison.

"We haven't had a chance to search this level yet, seems like we got here only a little before you two."

In truth though, there wasn’t much to search. On this whole layer there seemed to be nothing other than this solitary bridge, stretching from one end of the huge acid pool all the way to the other. At either end stood a heavy metal door, much larger than any seen in Mercy Dreams so far, and judging by the suitably huge locks they were by far the most secure as well. Four hallways branched off from the open area, two at each end to form the Ɪ shape found on all of the prison’s layers, but there was way to reach them. Then again, each archway also featured a hefty contraption of chains and winches, either for raising and lowering hanging prisoners to dunk them in a deadly acid bath, or for raising more stone bridges from beneath the bog’s surface.

This layout meant there was nowhere for the newcomers to hide from the two abhorrent jailers, and already the malformed behemoths were on their way. Each one seemed to be a hideous conglomerate of corpse flesh, outfitted with a gaping mouth, crudely wrapped in the dressings of a berserker, and bloated into a pustule-ridden mass on one side. In addition to the cages fused with their rancid meat, which rattled with every step, they held in their functional arms additional cages to wield as weapons. One simply carried a giant cage, while the other bore three smaller ones on chains for use as a triple flail. Approaching from the cells they guarded at either end of the bridge, they closed in on the newcomers in a pincer maneuver, the bridge shaking beneath every plodding footfall.

Judging that she had time enough for one dance before the monstrosities got within range, Primrose went right into a performance with the macabre hall as her stage. Her steps were quick and fierce, and ending with one hand lifted up into the air and the other splayed out in front of her, palm pointed to her companions. "The Lion Dance," she said, bestowing increased attack power upon the four of them.

Though fully planning to run support against the zombies, Therion appreciated the buff nonetheless. He stuffed his hands under his poncho, and when he withdrew them one held magic-based crystal darts between his fingers while the other held regular throwing knives. He glanced between both jailers on either side of the narrow floor. It was exactly an advantageous battleground for them.

”The keepers of this section, I presume.” mused the Gerudo King, showing no fear nor any signs of intimidation in the face of these hulking abominations. Instead he stretched forth a hand and calmly summoned his Phantom self to serve as backup. Similar to Jesse, Phantom Ganon could float freely around the corridor and thus would not obstruct the path for Ganondorf nor any of the other Seekers present, ”Let’s give these… things an acid bath of their own.” he calmly said, now snapping his fingers in order to summon one of his Strikers - Blast Hornet. Just like Phantom Ganon, the Reploid could fly and thus stay clear of the walkway.

Phantom Ganon went to work, using his trident to hurl crackling orbs of dark energy at the jailer carrying the single large cage. Simultaneously, Blast Hornet used his Search Attack and locked onto the other jailer with a brief holographic crosshair before unleashing a trio of bee drones that would zone in on the target. Only then did the Gerudo King finally draw his twin greatswords. But he held off before attacking, deciding to wait and see which of his two summons were struggling the most to inform his decision on which jailer to attack.

Jesse settled her shoes on the stones below, eyeing the two jailors. While she could always get away, not everyone was so lucky. “If you wanna get over it for free,” Jesse said, summoning forth Uncle Sven to throw down an Elastic Ooze a short distance behind her. “Use the ooze and you can jump real high.” She explained to the Octopath Travelers.

"I'll take you up on that," Therion said. He didn't do so immediately, waiting for a better opening to make sure he could clear the jump. That meant the jailer nearest to the ooze, the one wielding a single huge cage like a bludgeon, had to get a little closer. It was lurching itself forward at a brisk pace for its body size, so it wouldn’t be much longer now.

Then Jesse began blasting, staying where she was with Primrose and Therion for now. At first she struck its head, but the creature didn’t seem to react at all, the psychic bullets thunking into it like clay. Compressing her lips, and not unfamiliar with such enemies, she aimed for the glowing pustules that might be a little more receptive to damage. “Come on, you big ugly bastard. Pop for me.” Jesse taunted, advancing towards the triple caged Jailor.

The travelers joined in on the offensive. For Primrose's part she had a few ways of getting behind the monsters, but she followed the FBC director's lead; literally accompanying her as she made to meet the jailer part way down the single stone path. Primrose conjured Black Fire Orbs and flung them where they exploded against the abomination's bulky frame, adding magical pressure to go with Jesse and Blast Hornet's attacks.

At the same time, Therion was pinpointing the boils on the other jailer while the phantom Ganon blasted it with dark magic. It was apparent that the jailer’s skin was difficult to damage, but by comparison the pustules were more delicate. One had already popped under the phantom’s dark orbs, oozing some disgusting liquid. When the second was burst open by Therion’s thrown daggers, the zombie flinched for a moment. Then, it charged the rest of the distance.

A lull in the phantom's barrage saw Therion take the chance to jump, springing off of the ooze and over the thing just before it hefted its cage up to retaliate. With one hand it tried and failed to catch the thief springing in its direction. With the other, it brought its weapon to bear. The monster let out a garbled roar, swinging its massive cage in the flying horseman’s direction. Its attack speed was faster than its movement; a collision with the spectral clone of the king of evil imminent.

The collision was a hard hit, but mainly resulted in the rider abandoning the horse to float around on his own. Then the Phantom got off two more shots with its dark orbs before his time ran out and he vanished from the battlefield. Not that Therion needed to worry about being alone, as now the genuine article had made his choice on who to focus on and had chosen to aid the Orsterran. And Ganondorf was keen to take advantage of any opportunity he spotted. He did so by bringing both his greatswords down onto the arms of the jailer whilst it was swinging its cage at the phantom. Under normal circumstances this would have resulted in outright dismemberment. That didn’t seem to be the case this time, perhaps because this thing was made to be tougher than a normal opponent.

Therion made a three point landing behind the jailer, assuming it would keep its attention on the phantom and the majority of enemies in front of it. Staring at its back he was surprised to see that the glowing growths were only on its chest. Its musculature was tightly woven, and there were no obvious weak points to speak of on this side... but he was already back here, so Therion summoned a spark of magic to his own hand. He cast Wildfire, setting the flame to engulf the monstrous jailer.

Rather than ravage the zombie’s flesh, the blaze was more like a hot, irritating tickle. With both of its mitts on the cage this time the jailer twisted its body as much as it was able, winding up for a swing. When it released the strength of its arms and the weight of the cage carried the bludgeon forward in a wide, 360 degree spin that threatened everything ahead and behind it.

Ganondorf had only moments to react, bringing up both his blades in a shielding motion to try and absorb the blow he was too big to dodge on his own. Thanks to that and his enormous strength from the Triforce, Ganondorf kept himself from taking major damage. He was, however, pushed back a few paces by the sheer force of the swing. Nothing he couldn’t make up for.

If that cage had been a solid object without gaps to let the air through, the pressure alone might be able to knock lighter people off of the walkway and into the acid. Therion could feel that as he hurried to get out of the way. The maneuver caught him off guard, slowing his reaction time just enough that the metal clipped him when he jumped backwards out of range. Even that glancing blow nearly took his arm off and toppled the thief into the bubbling liquid. Therion nursed the limb as the jailer completed his arc and came to a stop with his back to the Orsterran once more. Not as safe back here as I thought.

The corpse golem stood in front of the Gerudo king, taking only a few precious seconds after recovering from its own spin to lift the cage up over its head and slam it down toward Ganondorf, one bright yellow pus-filled protrusion still pulsing on its shoulder.

Once again Ganondorf had to think fast. He quickly thrust his blades forward while the cage was lifted over the monster’s head, sinking them into its torso. Again, under normal circumstances, a hit like this would have been devastating. But not so for this abominable jailer. The cage came crashing down, but rather than collide into the Gerudo King’s head, it was stopped. Ganondorf had released his grip on his weapons, leaving them impaled into the jailer so he could use his now-freed hands to catch the cage and stop its swing with his own monstrous strength.

And then Ganondorf tried to use his strength to rip the cage from the jailer’s grip to disarm it of its weapon, ”Ha ha ha!” laughed the King of Evil, ”Let’s just see how strong you actually are!”

He found the jailer's strength on par with him. The thing grunted, first trying to pull the cage out of Ganondorf's grasp and then pressing it instead with the intent to crush the king. During the struggle while neither of them ceded ground, Therion got back into action. He scaled the back of the massive jailer, wincing at the squelch under his feet as he perched on its shoulder. From there, he got a good glimpse at the state of battle - and the remaining presumed weak spot that he immediately went for.

The jailer wasn't pleased. Keeping a firm hold on its weapon it thrashed its upper body, forcing Therion to hold and jostling Ganondorf in their tug of war. Then it roared, and from its very body smaller, human sized zombies began to emerge. Some wielded weapons and armor, and all of them were angry, shrieking, and eager to rip into the Seekers. A couple climbed to reach the thief while the others exploded out from the jailer towards the enemy holding their host down.

Ganondorf had no choice. He released his grip on the cage and lunged back a couple of paces in the face of the zombies now suddenly assailing him. Thankfully they weren’t much to write home about, and the Gerudo King could use his superior size and strength to punch and kick them aside, incidentally knocking them into the acid in the process.

When he had a moment, Ganondorf went ahead and summoned five Moblin archers who appeared on the stone walkway behind him. Two of them leveled their bows and shot fire arrows at the zombies going after Therion in order to lend him a hand - managing to bullseye one of them resulting in them falling from the jailer’s body in a flaming heap. Ganondorf then lunged forward while powering up a Warlock Punch. The jailer seemed to notice this and swung his cage to meet with the Gerudo King’s fist.

Ganondorf’s fist smashed through the front bars of the cage. But the hollow nature of the cage threw off what was left of the punch’s momentum and prevented the attack from breaking the back end bars. But this did give Ganondorf a way to gain a stronger hold on the cage than he had the first time around, and he went ahead and took advantage of that. Now he’d be able to keep the jailer from swinging it’s cage and in a way that would strengthen his footing against the creature’s strength.

At the same time Therion's efforts had bore fruit. With the Moblins keeping the new zombies off his back for the most part, he drove a dagger into the last pustule and felt it finally give. Immediately the jailer halted its retaliation against Ganondorf, dropping to its knees with a heavy thud like its energy had just given out. When it hit the ground, the smaller cage embedded into its chest popped open. Inside, another zombie, notably different from the others. The thief hadn't missed it during all this, but he assumed it was some unfortunate soul stuck to its captor's body. Now, he wasn't so sure. Maybe it was just the nature of the undead, but it didn’t look happy about being “freed.” It was grafted to the cage, sure, but it actually looked upset. That its defense had been breached?

Therion always relied on his hunches, and he did the same now. If he was wrong, then oh well, he wasn’t about to cry over hurting some random zombie. The stinging dagger sunk a lot more easily into this thing’s body. It flinched, and the massive jailer flinched too. They were connected in more ways than one!

"It's this thing!" the thief shouted, drawing Ganondorf's attention towards it.

Ganondorf didn’t need to be told twice. He released his hold on the cage he had broken and made a lunge for the zombie. The triforce glowed on the back of his right hand as the Gerudo King gripped the undead’s neck while his other hand gripped its side. He pulled with all his might, even propping his foot onto the body of the jailer in order to put as much oomph into it as he could. The more strength he channeled, the brighter the Triforce shone on his hand. When at last the zombie’s body tore from the flesh of the jailer, Ganondorf lifted it straight up by the throat, only to bring it right back down into an explosive Flame Choke that dunked the zombie directly into the acid below the bridge. After some violent thrashing about, the zombie finally succumbed to the acid bath and appeared to be dead at last.

The macabre amalgamation that it had been attached to sunk to the ground while its body disintegrated. Therion hopped off of it, landing next to Ganondorf where they watched the actual body sink under.

"Damn," was all Therion said, pleasantly surprised the king took care of that monster so sufficiently.

On the other side the three clubbed Jailor lunged forward, going to slam its makeshift flail on Primrose and Jesse as recompense. Since Primrose was at her side, Jesse assumed she had some spell in mind in case this happened. So Jesse took a hopping step to the left and Evaded out of the way in a blur, the clubs smashing into the stone where she just stood. Jesse Levitated behind the creature and landed back on the walkway.

Ahead of her, the jailer was pulling back its arm to prepare for another blow. Primrose had relied only on the protection of her Baldur Shell while casting the Black Fire Orb - and it held for the one attack before shattering. Primrose blinked in surprise, clearly underestimating either the strength of the giant's swing or the time it took for the shell to repair itself. She would take care not to put absolute faith in it going forward, and for now she finished her spell and hurled another condensed ball of dark flames. It burst against its body at the same time that she took hold of her polearm in both hands. Jesse’s more precise shooting weakened the boils on its body enough that the stray attacks from Primrose or Blast Hornet could rupture them, and now the dancer stabbed open the final pustule with her lance. The zombie roared as its knees began to buckle. Primrose drew her own arm back and stabbed again viciously, sending the jailer falling over backward.

The flail’s cages fell ahead of it, forcing Primrose to back off lest she be hit, while its body slammed into the walkway just in front of the red headed parautilitarian. The knotted corpse flesh reeked. On its front, a little cage’s door flew open, where inside was a much smaller, angry looking undead.

Jesse blinked down at the furious zombie as it tried to pull itself back into the cage. It was like tumorous little growth. “Um.” Jesse said, before shredding into the little zombie with her rapid fire Spin pistol. Despite its diminutive stature, it was made of the same tough stuff as the Jailer. Though because of its small size, the bullet hit a lot more of it, so it sprayed its rotten blood everywhere as it scrambled back inside the cage. As soon as it shut the door behind it the Jailer came back to ‘life’ and Jesse evaded backwards.

“It’s like a mecha!” Jesse shouted, though Primrose probably didn’t understand the reference. “The little guy is controlling it?” She clarified. As the Jailer began to get back to its feet, Jesse ripped one of the bodies from its hooks and Launched it, chains and all, into the Jailer to smack it off balance. The pustules had turned red. “It’s pissed!” Jesse Evaded backwards as it swung its maces multiple times towards her, swiping back and forth.

Her clarification helped. Understanding shone in Primrose’s dark eyes. "I see," she said, but he couldn’t make use of the knowledge just yet. The jailer raged, swinging its ridiculous flail around it with reckless abandon. The cages smashed against the walkway ahead and behind it, against their hanging counterparts, and into the acid itself sending up dangerous splashes of liquid, all to try and lash the intruders facing it.

After his second striker disappeared, the remaining three Moblins that Ganondorf summoned did an about-face and fired their volleys at the three-club Jailer in order to provide some extra cover fire for Jesse and Primrose while the jailer stood back up. Unfortunately any attempt to get a jumpstart on breaking its pustules again was thwarted by the skin around them turning an irate red as the flesh hardened up. Primrose was quick to abandon those Moblins, especially when the debris of the flail’s impacts started flying. Pelted by chunks of stone and flecks of stinging acid, she blocked what she could with her lance and stepped back while one sweep of the cages saw all three of them sent flying off the narrow stretch of ground. If she moved back anymore she risked stepping into the battle directly behind her, so now she had to move up.

The dancer blinked forward, her Ravaging Confession bringing her behind the corpse golem on the same side as Jesse. She slashed at it with her polearm, black and icy flames mixing together where the weapon struck, but as expected it didn’t have much effect. Jesse was right, the little one must be its true body.

The jailer whipped its flails around as it turned, the heavy metal cages threatening to crush their bones at best, and sweep them into flesh melting acid at worst.

This time Primrose took to the air herself; she jumped and let her scarf carry her higher over the attack. At this point the boils on the jailer’s body were still red, though discoloration was beginning - possibly fading back to yellow. It didn’t matter much to the dancer’s new strategy. Her Vengeful Spirit passed right through the cage bars protecting the smaller undead, the painful burn it inflicted making the little zombie rattle around. With plenty of mana left, there was more where that came from.

Jesse followed Primrose into the air as the attack swept beneath their feet. Switching to her Pierce function, while Primrose blasted fire Jesse lined up a shot on the cage and the creature within. With a kick of the gun she unleashed her high caliber round to join the Vengeful Spirit spell. The already weakened zombie controller was soon nothing but ash under the weight of the combined attack, and the rest of the jailer's hulking form soon followed.

“Woo! Big jumps.” Jesse exclaimed to her fellow high jumping ally as she floated back to the stone floor.

Primrose smiled at her, amused. "Mhm. Nice work."

Very nearby, the boys had already cleaned up. Without the undead jailers lumbering around, the main floor of the fifth level of the prison was clear.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Yankee
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Yankee God of Typos

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Word Count: 1452 (+3 exp)
Level: 5 - Total EXP: 169/50
Location: Dystopiascape - Midgar, Suoh -> Visit to Split Mountain

Pit did his best to put the daycare out of his mind. Honestly, it was easier than expected to do so - when the four allies exited the elevator and saw Arahabaki for the first time, it flushed many stray thoughts from the angel's brain.

He had clearly underestimated what Midgar considered a giant computer. "Giant" didn't even begin to describe it... it was gigantic, colossal, ginormous! Definitely the largest computer in the universe. It was so big they were standing inside of it, or at least that was what it seemed like to Pit.

To Luka too, as the psychic voiced his thoughts. So it wasn't just Pit, they definitely were inside a ginormous computer! He looked down at himself, wondering if the elevator ride was actually some kind of secret shrinking machine.

"This is probably the only computer that actually does have little people in it. No wait, they'd be normal sized people here. Normally they run on electricity!" he told Midna. The same was true of this massive machine as well; the static hum and heat of it working said as much. He turned to Sakura, responding seriously, "definitely 64! Look at it! Maybe even more!"

Once the portal was set up, they all found themselves back at the base Goldlewis had procured for them. They were the first ones back as it turned out. After escaping the area around Vandelay that morning, the others they'd split up from probably checked into something else around the city, given there were problems and factions abound.

While they started to settle in, Luka made plain his gratefulness to the Seekers. As far as the angel was concerned though, Luka was already an official part of the team. Sakura let him know it. "Heheh... make yourself at home!" he added.

The Twilight Princess stepped out then to check on her other portals, and when she returned it was with the news that there was no news. And she seemed a little upset about it.

"I'm sure they're okay," Pit told her. "If they all stuck together, then they have two healers." He knew Blazermate was had been with the Seekers for pretty much all of their campaign, so she must be reliable. And though the other one was a much more recent addition, Halo (Should I go back to calling her... uh, was it Sandal...phon?) had already proven herself.

Anyway, he, Midna, Luka, and Sakura had time to kill while they waited for the others to return. Though turning in early after all the stress of the day sounded great, Pit probably wouldn't be able to get to sleep until at least hearing back from the others. So in the mean time he found a free spot and did some preening, combing his fingers through his feathers to clean and straighten them out. His wings were his lifeline in more ways than one, and this was a good way to assess the damage they'd taken too. Even small wounds felt way more painful on his wings than any other part of his body, so it was hard to tell how injured they were without actually looking. Thankfully, Roxas' earlier healing spell had pretty much taken care of him.

He glanced up when Midna suggested leaving the city. Right, they could just use her portals and go right in and out of Midgar, not just inside of it! Man, how handy!

"Oooh, I'll go!" he chirped, hopping up out of his seat.

In seconds the four of them were whisked through the Twilight Realm and to the peak of Split Mountain. Naturally it was chillier up here than in the heart of a megalopolis, but even has Pit pulled his wings in as a makeshift cloak around himself he noted it was way less cold than he'd expected the top of a mountain to be.

Pit breathed in deep, enjoying the crisp air. He gazed at the "split" that gave the place its name, then he promptly ran to the edge of the platform they were standing on. He leaned over the edge, checking out everything he could see below. It was pretty cool to see the aftermath of the Seekers' adventures that he hadn't been around for. There was some a cloud of cold a ways down the cliffside that prevented him from seeing too far. One of the Aurumtails came over to sniff at him, and he rubbed its head as his gaze drifted upward. Pit's eyes followed the flying colossus that Midna assured them was friendly for a little bit before he looked over the horizon instead.

"Do you think we could see Alcamoth from here?" he said, squinting at the various settlements that were visible. One could see a lot from up here, and if he remembered the vague map they'd been making, their home base was right on the other side of the desert. Midgar, of course, could hardly be missed due to its sheer size and the alien clouds that hung over it. All things considered, it wasn't too far away on the continent either. Maybe Alcamoth wasn't as close as he'd thought, since he couldn't see it.

The impromptu mountain trip turned out to be pretty nice. Pit was glad they'd come. After some more flitting around the area, checking out the space the guardian had been held, where the bell had fallen, and the cute little animals, he took a seat next to the others. With the sky all around them, it was sort of an easy conversation topic. Pit disagreed with Sakura here; he'd seen Galeem's overwhelming power first hand, and if so many powerful people could fall to it so quickly he thought it was definitely possible for it to gather every universe. Travel between said universes was already possible, to some extent, and it was far from the first multi-universal terror. It was just the most dangerous one.

He stared up at the sky and its celestial bodies with everyone else. They didn't capture his attention as much as the clouds that still hung up there, carrying settlements large enough that they could just be seen from where the Seekers were. Looking at them made Pit's chest ache, not with homesickness but something similar to it.

"I wonder what's on those islands," he pondered aloud, keeping his voice down as Sakura dozed off. The islands in the sky could be the highest points in the entire World of Light, since they floated far above even Split Mountain. He'd love to visit them, especially because...

"That one kind of looks like Skyworld," he said, grinning and pointing out one of the marble cities in the sky to Midna and Luka like they were cloud watching. He'd seen his Skyworld from the outside so many times, at many different angles, whenever he was swept up to return or save it. This island looked so similar to it. Palutena's Temple had such a distinctive silhouette, what with its giant statue of the goddess with her wings fully unfurled and staff held high in the air, and the island even had that too.


"...that is Skyworld!" he exclaimed, leaping to his feet and pointing it out again. He'd probably knocked Sakura out of her nap, but he couldn't feel bad about that just then. All of the day's fatigue seemed to disappear, and the angel's eyes were shiny and wide.

"Wow, I can't believe it! Its so close... kind of!" The boy's wings had spread open, twitching like he wanted to fly right up there at that very moment. He did, he really did, but that wasn't possible. Lady Palutena! Lady Palutena! he thought, trying to make his thoughts as loud as possible so the Goddess of Light might just pick them up from here. Unfortunately, as was usual by now, there was no answer.

No matter, he could just visit and find Palutena himself! Pit whirled around to face the small group of friends, but with Midgar still just visible in the background behind them he was hit with reality. Under the Extinction Belt were the rest of the Seekers he'd come with, still fighting. There were still innocent people suffering and in danger. There was still an ongoing crisis in that city, one he'd promised to help stop. Pit's smile faltered for a moment. When it came back it was larger and a bit forced.

"I have to go there," he said, and then, "once we're done in Midgar can you take me back here, Midna? I'll find a way up."

He didn't know how, but he would. His duties came first. If Palutena was up there, she wouldn't have it any other way.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Lugubrious Makes the big edits

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Sector 04, Veles

Level 6 Goldlewis (102/60) Level 4 Sandalphon (67/40)
Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie’s @Archmage MC, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man
Word Count: 3042

The moment Sandalphon officially dispersed the signal to retreat, Goldlewis got moving. After the beating he and the others had given Jena Apotheosis, he hadn’t the shadow of a doubt in his mind that Rufus Shinra could bring the madwoman’s sad story to an end, especially with the staggering firepower of that absurd helicopter in his corner. He hadn’t had the displeasure of getting to know the president’s son personally, but his reputation for ruthlessness preceded him, and at times outstripped even his father’s. This wasn’t someone who would hesitate to pull the trigger. No, as far as Goldlewis was concerned, the real problem -and the reason why the huge old veteran got moving like a man thirty years younger- would be if the reinforcements brought by Consul Y dispatched the fallen angel too quickly, allowing him to turn Alpha’s artillery toward the small fry that he’d certainly neither forgiven nor forgotten.

Still, that was marginally better than one other definite possibility: that the moment the chimeric monster died, every chunk of rubble and piece of building suspended in the pink-tinted night sky would come crashing down onto the chaos-stricken streets of Veles far, far below.

With the corrupted voice of Jena Apotheosis at his back, its furious and agonized cries resounding across all of Veles, Goldlewis made good time. To reach what remained of the Neuron helipad, he and the others needed to make their way down through the sprawling array of platforms suspended midair, each irregular in shape and moving -or spinning- at different rates. For Blazermate and Susie, blessed with the power of flight, this was only marginally easier, since for them the airborne chunks that worked as footholds for the others instead became flying obstacles that could blindside them if they weren’t careful. When Roland slipped up thanks to some stray munitions, Blazermate swerved to catch him, taking his life into her hands without a word of thanks. Sandalphon couldn’t fly without shapeshifting into Heavenly Wings, and while she could drift down at a leisurely pace thanks to Heavensent, time was a luxury she didn’t have. Instead she performed a delicate dance between freefalling for speed and gliding for safety and control, her supercomputer of a mind calculating the speed and trajectory of each hunk of debris on a potential collision course with her. Even Karin could expedite her descent with her grappling hook.

For Goldlewis, Geralt, and Zenkichi though, this descent was fraught with danger. One misstep could mean a fatal fall, and there was no guarantee Blazermate could save anyone else. One momentary lapse in awareness could result in an impact with a slab of concrete or a rogue girder. Then there was the ongoing battle, not just between Alpha and Apotheosis, but between the protolegions and other factions swept up in the mayhem as they continued to fight and kill one another. Combatants clashed, leaping between and falling from the platforms, while bullets and energy bolts whizzed through the air, paling in comparison to the munitions pumped out by the Shinra helicopter. The sky itself had become a warzone, and the Seekers were caught in the crossfire.

Goldlewis had just two things going for him: his double jump, which allowed him to change his double jump once per airtime, and his airdash, which halted all vertical momentum as he gathered himself on and then sprang off an orange glyph. That kept him going since it allowed him to fall much further than he should normally be able to, but it did not stop the chaos unfolding around him. At one point a protolegion leaped at him mid-jump, trying to swat him out of the sky with its huge cleaver of hardened chimeric flesh. He brought his coffin around to block the heavy slash, and the protolegion’s blade clanged against the coffin’s reinforced surface. Then the lid lifted off and a half-dozen bright blue arms extended to seize the monster for an airthrow, lifting it up and then casting it straight down to fall to its eventual death. Even then, an airdash barely brought Goldlewis close enough to his target to grab hold with one hand. Hauling himself up after that near-disaster was a herculean feat, and the veteran thanked his lucky stars that it wasn’t much farther to the helipad. He bulldozed his way past a gauntlet of angry Reunion fighters, breaking through their surprising strength with Wild Assault. Then he took one final jump, plummeted downward, then saved himself at the last second with an airdash that brought him within a stone’s throw of the chopper.

At the same time, Sandalphon ran into some trouble of her own. As she closed in on her destination, a stray shot from the rifle of a Veles guardsman raked across her midsection, the yellow ray grazing her ribs. “Ah.” She did not cry out, nor even wince, but the shock and pain of the surprise shot broke her concentration and sent her into freefall. Her coat and hair whipped in the wind as she tumbled out of control. By this point the floating field of debris had thinned out enough that she was lucky enough to not hit anything, but that altitude was a double-edged sword. Before she could right herself, she fell past the Neuron helipad, overshooting her destination. “Sandalphon!” Goldlewis ran to the edge, sliding to a stop and kneeling at the precipice to watch the archangel fall, only for her to disappear in an electronic blue flash. A similar burst of divine light went off behind him, and he turned to see Sandalphon stumble and almost collapse as she landed on the surface of the helipad, one hand clutching her ribs.

Though she wore a blank expression, her ruffled appearance, heavy breathing, and exclamation point-shaped eyes told Goldlewis everything he needed to know. “...That was less efficient than I hoped.”

Goldlewis gave a heavy sigh and went to help her toward the chopper. “Hey, at least you made good time,” he joked, holding up his wristwatch. “Let’s getcha outta here, partner.”

“You guys should probably hurry,” Giovanna called from the helicopter, her nonchalant manner at total odds with the situation. With the arrival of Zenkichi and Geralt, everyone had made it. Their ride was already good to go, which wasn’t immediately obvious since rather than rotors that roared and buffeted bystanders with wind, the police chopper featured a ring-shaped structure with a glowing light blue strip inside that churned the air like the teeth of a chainsaw as it span. Goldlewis and Sandalphon had to stoop to climb inside, where they found Penance waiting for them. Though no stranger to austerity, the Judge’s face looked even more severe than usual, and Giovanna could guess the reason. She felt bad, but she didn’t know what to say. At least what happened hadn’t been her fault. Then again, from what she’d seen of Roland so far, she didn’t expect any sympathies or regrets from him, if he even had any to give. They were both triggers, cold metal meant for nothing more than the execution of whatever will governed them. It was actually Sandalphon who stepped up–as instigator, the unfeeling archangel felt compelled to say something. To take responsibility.

“I’m sorry about Vigil,” she told the Judge. “The Consuls’ powers are truly fearsome. None of us were given a choice. Had I known, I would have freed you both once we joined forces.”

Penance remained stony-faced, but something like gratitude could be seen in the look she gave Sandalphon. “Vigil always believed that his number would come up sooner or later. He’s been ready for a long time. Still, even if it had to happen…” She looked down at her hands. In them she held a manilla folder, containing a number of handwritten documents on the construction of one Nuova Volsinii, as well as traditional Siracusan recipes. Then she reached up her hand and wiped her eye. “I would have wished that he didn’t die for nothing.”

A sudden flare of light flooded in through the glass of the chopper’s cockpit. The Seekers looked up to see Jena Apotheosis far above them, its second hand now demolished and its body riddled with cracks. The whole anomaly was wavering, the countless tons of airborne rubble poised to fall back to earth. “It’s time to go,” Goldlewis barked, pushing his way into the cockpit.

“You can fly, right old-timer?” Giovanna asked, crossing her arms as she followed him.

He took a seat and put on a headset, flicking a series of switches. “I didn’t spend all those years in the army for nothin’, Gi. This whirlibird’s a little techy for my tastes…” Not even bothering to try and hitch the flight harness, he pulled up on the tiller, and the helicopter began to rise. “But I reckon it ain’t anythin’ I can’t handle.”

Everyone braced themselves as the vehicle lifted off and began to pick up speed. Those in the back, either seated or standing and holding on for dear life, could watch the final notes of the battle with Jena Apotheosis playing out high in the sky. With the last of its power, the fallen angel unleashed a purple lightning storm, striking Alpha repeatedly. As it backpedaled away, a blue flash brought their attention to a tiny, distant figure, leaping off a floating slab. It was Hayato, and with his Sword Legion at his side, he hurtled toward Apotheosis through the storm. He flew in, inverting his x-baton in both hands, and both plunged their weapons into the captive’s neck. A final howl issued through the sky.

Then Alpha unleashed a barrage of eight missiles, and the fallen angel disappeared in a gigantic explosion.

The shockwave was enough to rattle the windows of Veles and shake the Seekers’ chopper in a fit of turbulence. “Hmph,” Goldlewis grunted, tightening his grip on the tiller as he worked to keep the vehicle under control. He risked a glance up at the Shinra helicopter for the briefest of moments, noting its massive searchlights. “That ain’t good. How’re we gonna shake it?”

“Fly low and between the buildings,” Sandalphon advised. “Use its size against it. They cannot risk shooting in the city if they don’t get a shot.”

“Roger. Sector 07, here we come.” Following her advice, Goldlewis hooked a right and piloted the chopper through a towering canyon of skyscrapers, flying beneath a technological archway plastered with corporate logos. Nearly clipping an unlit jetty that extended out into the air, he flew through the light of Biochoice Pharma, then past the opulent buddha of the Golden Sotori. For anyone who looked back, however, Alpha was in pursuit, gaining on its prey as it flew high above the cityscape. “Dammit.” When Goldlewis spotted a skyscraper block with a series of gigantic holes in it, he steered the helicopter inside, finally going where Shinra’s flying fortress couldn’t follow. The Seekers did not see their pursuer again, even as they left Veles behind, flew out of Midgar, and began to weave around its perimeter on the way back to Sector 07.

First the dark, angry clouds over Veles had been turned a violent pink by the advent of Jena Apotheosis. Then, when that giant helicopter sounded the monster’s death knell, the clouds lit up a fiery orange. Only now, as the ashes, embers, and wreckage scattered across the high-tech metropolis, did the darkness finally reclaim the skies over Sector 04.

Faust watched it all from the penthouse balcony across from Neuron Headquarters, where he’d ended up. The transformation of Reunion’s once-noble leader, her desperation-induced resignation to permanent monstrosity, and the climactic battle against what they had become. Although it was Shinra, and by extension Consul Y, who got the last laugh, those damnable Seekers had put in a lot of work. The choice to get them involved, Faust realized, was probably Jena’s most desperate of all. He knew his intervention in the fight could have single-handedly turned the tide in Jena’s favor, undoing every wound that the interlopers -and even Shinra- managed to inflict, but by that point he truly did not care any more. He’d respected, even believed in, Jena’s conviction to tear down Midgar’s corrupt and hopeless system, hoping and praying that life would truly get better for the poor and downtrodden, especially the infected. But what good was a better future if you weren’t around to see it? Thanks to her, the Seekers, and most of all the Consul, Mephisto would never get that chance. The one person who mattered more to him than anyone in the world, erased, without even ashes to mark that he’d ever been at all.

“Damn them,” the white-haired boy whispered, his throat hoarse and his cheeks wet with tears. “Damn them all…”

“Whew, what a lightshow, eh?” Faust turned, incensed, to glare at the turquoise demon leaning against the wall behind him. Only half-dressed in his organization’s iconic cherry-red armor, with his black cape knotted around his waist like a flannel shirt, Consul C held his arms behind his mop of messy gray hair as he smirked at the despairing healer. “Y’know, I should’ve brought a camera or something. First the debate last night, now this? If this whole antagonist shtick ever went bust, I bet I’d have a promising career in television.”

Faust grit his teeth, furious in his powerlessness. After a couple moments, he swallowed his emotions. “Why did you save me? There’s no point in this world for me anymore.”

C snapped and gave the boy a finger-gun. “Right? When you’ve lost everything, who cares about this stupid old world? Not me; I’m just here for the drama.” He slowly bared his teeth in a big, white grin. “Speaking of which. What if I were to tell you that this isn’t the end?”

Faust blinked, baffled. “What…are you talking about?”

“Oh, just some good old-fashioned deus ex machina,” C told him, adjusting his orange X-shaped glasses. Holding up his hands, he made his index fingers and thumbs into two Ls, then used them to outline the Shinra Building in the distance. “The stage has been set. All the players are in position. Well, almost all. Tomorrow morning I’m planning to throw some special someones a little party, and it just isn’t a party without a healer.”

“A healer?” Faust furrowed his brow in angry disbelief. “You want me to help you?”

C shrugged. “Au contraire. I want to help you…help yourself. Not to mention a couple friends. You’re not the only one who’s gone and lost everything, after all. The only difference is, they realized how to solve that little dilemma. That sometimes, the only way forward…”

The gunslinger could tell at a glance that he’d hooked the fish. That Faust was hanging on every word, on the slimmest possibility that he could somehow regain everything he’d lost, despite how impossible that seemed. After all, he had nothing left to lose.

“...Is back.”

Sector 07 - SOU Headquarters

Midna, Sakura, Pit, Karin, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie, Geralt and Zenkichi, Goldlewis, Giovanna, Sandalphon, Penance, and Luka

The Neuron helicopter full of Seekers got in late. By now, the analog wall clocks and digital desk clocks read quarter past ten, and a cloudy night had settled over Midgar like a heavy, downy comforter. Even the Extinction Belt had seemingly retreated to its typical heights, its oily, alien tinge and ominous scarlet aurora gone at last. Here in the sleepy neighborhoods and quiet business parks of Sector 07, the merciful peace was a welcome change of pace. For now at least, the Other deluge had dried up, the machines lay dormant out in the Valley of Ruin, the cascade in Quarantine Valley had been contained, and the giant monsters that assailed Midgar were nothing but memories, even if the scars remained.

Of course, the atmosphere here wasn’t nearly as nice as Split Mountain. The combination of nice temperature, crystal clear air, high altitude, celestial backdrop, sensation of freedom, and comfortable distance had been a heady, almost inebriating mixture. Like a strong drink, it lifted a great weight from the shoulders of the Suoh team that went there, leaving a pleasant, soothing buzz in its place. If only they could stay there forever. All too soon they had to return, and the weight of a cruel world came crashing back down on them, heavier than before.

Pit, Sakura, Midna, and Luka had been back for a while, refreshed by their visit to the mountain as they wound down and prepared for a good night’s sleep, waiting to hear from the others. Luka and Sakura got Brain Messages from the others with good news. After they made it to a Sumeragi family hideout safely, Lili and Raz had joined them as well, having found a couple fresh clues in the Otherlobe. They received a photo of the compact but fully-featured retreat, which showed them its living room, kitchen, and miniature gym that converted to and from a a dormitory thanks to fold-down cots in the walls. They could see Roxas and Raz tired but in one piece, and relate that fact to the others.

Those who, like Luka, chose to wait rather than sleep found their patience rewarded eventually when a helicopter finally touched down on the office building helipad. It wasn’t the cargobob that originally carried the Seekers to Midgar (or the Quarantine Valley team to Veles, for that matter), but it brought good tidings anyway. Sandalphon stepped out into the night air, straightening her back and stretching her legs for the first time in a while. Her neon green eyes scanned the Sector 07 cityscape for any sign of danger, but it looked like the Seekers were in the clear. “Good evening,” she told the welcome committee, nodding her head. Her unblinking gaze landed on Luka, separated from him by a height difference of over three feet. “We met very briefly while fleeing Vandelay Campus,” she recalled.

“That’s right,” Luka replied with a soft smile. “We were in a hurry, so I probably didn’t introduce myself. Luka Travers, at your service.”

The archangel nodded as she knelt down, her pupils turning into handshake symbols. “Sandalphon, at yours.”

In the Neuron chopper’s cockpit, Goldlewis took off his headset and heaved an enormous sigh. He hadn’t allowed himself to relax during the flight over, but now that the very last of his adrenaline had drained away and he could breathe easy, he could realize just how totally exhausted he was. “Lord almighty, I’m just about dead on my feet.” It took a lot of effort to rise from the pilot’s seat, but he managed to convince his weary bones somehow, then stagger out of the chopper and back onto solid ground. By now, everyone else had already exited onto the platform, so Goldlewis got the chance to see just about everyone together. He narrowed his eyes as he took a head count, giving Luka a questioning look. “We’re missin’ a couple boys. Where’d Raz and Roxas go?”

“A hideout in Suoh,” he answered promptly. “I’m afraid I can’t send you the photographic proof, since it’s in our heads and all, but they’re safe and sound.”

Goldlewis nodded, relieved. “Good deal.” Though happy to witness this, the sight of so many campaigners together came with a dose of melancholy too, as it reminded him of those who weren’t here. Benedict, Partitio, Raiden, Tora, Poppi, and now Vigil…whether split off or laid to rest, the Seekers hadn’t gotten through these past few days unscathed. Still, considering what they were up against, they’d done well. Better than too many of the veteran’s previous troops.

He didn’t notice Giovanna approaching until she clapped him on the shoulder. “Gettin’ sentimental, old man?”

Snorting, Goldlewis brushed her off good-naturedly, then trundled into the building. “Just tired, Gi. Dunno ‘bout y’all, but I’m fixin’ to head home.” An unfortunate realization brought another sigh to his lips. “Ugh…wish I could drive, but my damn truck’s way over yonder in Sector 06. Guess I’ll be moseyin’ home on foot.”

Next, Giovanna turned to Penance, her smile fading away. After disembarking, Penance had quietly walked to the edge of the helipad and stopped there, staring out across the peaceful streets and boroughs. “...Lavinia. You okay?”

The frown on Penance’s face did not waver. “Thank you all for bringing me this far. And for opening my eyes. There’s so much I remember…” She allowed her tired eyes to slide closed, so she could feel the gentle wind in her ears and tail. “And so much I now regret. I need a step away from it all.”

Goldlewis nodded, understanding completely. “Well, there oughta be some inns ‘round here, so take all the time you want. And if you need anythin’, just holler.” Penance did not reply, instead just standing there a while longer. Her dull brown hair flowed in the breeze, and her golden thorns gleamed in the glow of streetlights.

Once inside the office, Sandalphon set her sights on the big meeting table everyone used the first day. “If you don’t mind, I would like to make some calls. I’ve been receiving news, reports, and updates this whole time, but put them off during the mission. I now have quite the backlog.”

Gio waved her hand. “Sure, go nuts. Want a coffee or something?”

“I would be very grateful. Maximum strength please, and as much sugar as possible. If anyone needs me, please reach out. I am skilled at multithreading.” Amused by the unusual request, Gio went off to make Sandalphon’s wish a reality. Once the archangel gracefully seated herself, she conjured a whole array of different screens around her, loaded with mail, message systems, information readouts, video files, and more. She reached up and took both corded microphones from her halo at once, allowing both to dangle by her head as she typed, tapped, scrolled, watched, read, and replied, in many cases processing two or more conversations or topics at once. Throughout it all her expression never changed, her eyes never blinked, and her work never ceased.

Goldlewis shook his head. When was that poor woman going to get a break? He loosened his tie, then took off his suit jacket and flung it over the shoulder. “Night, y’all,” he said, heading for the hallway elevator.

Mercy Dreams - Solitary Confinement

Level 13 Ms Fortune (24/130)
The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Ganondorf’s @Double, Jesse’s @Zoey Boey, Artorias and Osvalds’ @Dark Cloud
Word Count: 2015

Even as someone who typically refused to acknowledge her problems, Nadia had to admit, that was too close. As for how close, she really didn't want to think about it too much. The incredible regenerative abilities of the Life Gem were valuable beyond measure, a dyed-in-the-wool gimmick that most of her opponents couldn't possibly overcome before her unrelenting offensive pressure tore them down, but her run-in with those illuminators really went to show that no strategy was without counterplay. The power to block healing…now , more than a secret room full of corpses or a raging tiger, was scary.

At least now that the curse was gone, Nadia could heal back up with the Ripened Heart, leaving her none the worse for wear. She gave a sigh of relief, gave a very worried Chucho a big squeeze, and got moving, eager to make herself scarce before any more illuminators came along. For the second time the girl and her dog approached the openness of the prison’s central space, from which they heard the grating metal sound of moving chains. They arrived in time to see Primrose and Therion swing open the door of a large hanging cage one floor below and step out onto the fifth layer’s stone walkway, elevated above a pool of acid. Jesse and Ganondorf were there already, which meant a party of four set to face off against the hulking, abominable Jailers that guarded that layer’s cells.

“Yeesh, they're gonna fight there?” Nadia winced. With enemies that big and strong, battling in such a small space was going to be very dangerous. Even the floating FBC director would have to come down eventually. “They're gonna have to be acid-duous about not falling in.” Chucho gave her a confused look, like he didn't get the pun. Or like he didn't expect his owner to have such a loquacious vocabulary. “What? I know big words. I'm smart~”

Sectonia had worked her way down towards Nadia and the others, following their trail of carnage only to find that while some of her group was here, Ganondorf was below, duking it out with some of the jail creatures over a pit of acid. ”I doubt that acid will hurt the so-called ‘king of evil’, he's pretty sour himself.” Sectonia said, giving her own pun to the situation, more relieved that this wasn’t another mirror trick or something.

When the Sectonia showed up, Nadia gave her a curious look, and not just because that wasn't remotely a pun. From this close she could see the big bug’s fusion changes a lot better, but it also looked like she’d been blasted by some sort of magic. “Hey, Toni. Whatcha been up to?”

”Getting stuck in a mirror…” Sectonia said with a bit of annoyance. She was still sore after taking a chaos bolt to the abdomen. ”I suppose you’ve been faring better in that regard, seeing how cleared my path was..” Sectonia said, commenting on the mostly clear path she took to get here.

That made Nadia snicker. “We-he-hell, I wouldn't say that…stuck in a mirror, you said? I guess you got ‘imprismed’ then, right?” She giggled. Sectonia could only roll her eyes at that one.

Keeping up with the knight had been somewhat of a fruitful endeavor for Osvald, luckily their descent met with no obstacles that neither man couldn't handle, thanks to those that cleared the way for them. “More of these friends of yours I presume?” the knight responded by grunting, of course the question was rather self-explanatory, so the scholar simply nodded making his way behind Artorias.

Focused on putting one foot in front of the other, the knight barely had time to utter a word to the scholars question anyway, their encounter with the wraith Raziel stewed in the forefront of his mind.

Leaving him with an empty flask of Estus, the fight had given the Wolf Knight reason enough to be wary of further encounters. Artorias was almost relieved to see Nadia, almost.

Salutations..” raising a hand in greeting, Artorias glanced next to him where the scholar stood adding quickly “Worry not, these are allies.” beside him the scholar gave the knight a sideways glance.

Interesting.” was all Osvald said, his tone of voice sounding already bored. To him the feral looked no different from that of the tribals off to the far south of Solistra though her choice of clothes seemed quite exotic to the likes of Osvald. As for the other he would certainly be interested in examining, to Osvald the Queen looked no less like that of the other monsters that inhabited the land he came from.

Nadia glanced at him with her visible eyebrow raised. “...’Interesting’? Such a gentleman.” From what Artorias said, it seemed like this unfamiliar face might be a new ally, though he looked just as bedraggled and unhinged as the tiger woman. Dirty, disheveled, malnourished. A prisoner here too, probably. He'd suffered plenty and probably didn't need any lip from her. Rummaging in her pouches, she adopted a more concerned tone of voice. “You look beat to hell. Want some lemonade? It'll perk you right up.” She produced the refilled pitcher and offered it to Osvald to drink.

Osvald eyed the pitcher as a flash of recognition washed over his gruff face. Lemonade wasn't easy to come by, the cost to acquire the resources was exponential. Only people of higher status usually had such things, he never had drunk it himself before but always imagined his daughter would have enjoyed it had he…

The scholar nodded and dashed away his thoughts, something else in his expression though obscured behind a shaggy mane of hair betrayed indignation “Hmph, thanks.” his throat was quite parched, and his stomach ached sharply as if now the time he spent locked away had finally caught up to him.

Hm, that is quite delicious.” he didn't waste time with manners, knocking back a mouthful of the sweet beverage “I am Osvald,” after wiping his face with the cuff of his sleeve he introduced himself “And I assume that you are one of these ‘Seekers’, what are you seeking exactly?

Nadia was glad to see the mood of her new acquaintance lifted a little. His question pleased her a little less; she still didn't want to handle orientation, so she settled on the current objective. “Right now, it's these little mask pieces that big, bad bosses tend to keep hold of. So if you're any good at fighting, we can use a hand.” More help meant less work for her, after all.

Osvald furrowed his brow, though he was given something of a non-answer Nadia’s words arose plenty more questions. But the scholar sighed looking mildly annoyed, Osvald shrugged his shoulders “Hm, my magic should be of some use.

”Perhaps we can see what it does. Although when the opportunity arises, you need to be made presentable.” Sectonia said to the newcomer.

The brawl above the acid pit had gotten started by that point, every bit as furious and perilous as Nadia expected. Still, despite the risky arena and the brutal might of the Jailers, she felt pretty confident that the others would prevail. Ganondorf was no slouch in the size or strength departments himself, Jesse could stay out of reach while perforating the monstrosities’ weak points from afar, and the Travelers had plenty of tricks up their sleeves, magical or otherwise. While happy to keep her distance and not add to the chaos, Nadia also didn't want any more illuminators sneaking up on her, so she decided to move in. She ran over toward the suspended cage that most of the others used to descend, then jumped and grabbed it in order to slide down to the fifth layer. The moment she set foot atop the cage, she leaped and airdashed over the acid from one suspended hook to another until she reached one of the layer’s alcoves, her snow-white hair streaming behind her. Acid might be a fluid, sure, but she wasn't about to try skating across its surface; that was a little too careless even for her. Once she reached the alcove she hunkered down to take a breather and watch the battle unfold, her hand never far from the grip of her bait launcher in case she needed to intervene.

As expected, though, the killer quartet had this fight in the bag. Things seemed iffy at first as the Seekers contended with both the burly abominations and the narrow confines of their hazardous surroundings, and the Jailers turned out to have volatile corpses in their corner too, but in the end there was only so much the dumb brutes could do. They were too straightforward to overpower their attackers before the heroes turned the tide with sharp wits and versatile toolkits. Case on point, both Jesse and Primrose flying up to go straight for the ‘heart’ with precise ranged attacks. Once it became clear that the Jailers were done for, Nadia stood up in her alcove, ready to make her move.

By the time the killing blow was struck, she was already in motion. She made a running jump and scared out over the acid pool, then grabbed a chain and used it to swing onto the central platform. As the second Jailer fell, a golden key adorned with a suitably macabre skull shape fell from its dissolving flesh. Ever the opportunist, Nadia darted in and snatched it before it even hit the ground.

“Nice going, fellas,” she grinned, one hand on her hip as she spun the key on one finger. Everyone could get a good look at her new appearance. “Thanks to you, those cage beasts sung their swan song, and they sure had bars, huh? You've earned yourselves a break.” With a final spin she caught the key in her hand as Sectonia, Artorias, and Osvald descended behind her. “How about we take this one?”

"No complaints here, believe me."

Nadia made a beeline for the big cell at one end of the bridge. Her objective was clear: the big black-and-gold vault lock. This thing’s gotta be worth a fortune. Once she turned the key in the golden lock, the heavy-duty mechanism series of clicks and whirs, until with a final slam the lock split in half and the doors swung inward, taking the key with them. Nadia figured that it could probably be used again, but her intuition told her that it would need to stay in place to keep the door open while the team dealt with whatever was inside.

After all, it wasn't just a cell on the other side of the door. Before the Seekers lay a large room with a vaulted ceiling veiled in darkness, with yard-thick classical columns extending up into the gloom. Scattered around a floor of dark soil blanketed by crisp, dead flowers lay trails of tiles like footpaths, lit by candelabras or bunches of candles, and the one in front of the newcomers extended straight toward a huge stone statue of a sitting woman in robes. Cradled in her lap and arms lay a monstrous bipedal creature, somewhere between man and tree, with knotted, gnarled flesh, limbs that terminated in plumes of branches, a loincloth, and a nightmarish head like the skull of a tremendous goat. It appeared to be sleeping.

As the team watched, however, it stirred fitfully. Stirred by the agony of the nails that pierced its chest and head, or by awful dreams. Suddenly it awoke, extracting itself from the hard, loveless arms where it had lain. It planted its feet, then seized the head of the statue and, shrieking, wrenched it off. Ten Piedad flung the head into the ground, shattering it into a hundred pieces, and slouched toward the Seekers to spill their blood.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
Avatar of DracoLunaris

DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

wordcount: 2,636 (+3)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (52/100)
Location: S.O.U. hideout
Warp Charges: 1

“Double-shot of espresso, stuffed silly with sugar,” Giovanna announced as she sauntered into the meeting room, coffee mug in hand. “In other words, a doppio dolce.” She extended it for Sandalphon to take. “Enjoy.”

“Thank you.” The archangel seemed intent on doing so. She didn’t so much as accept the coffee from Giovanna as she did seize it, using both hands to grab the mug with almost feverish speed in order to press it to her lips and start gulping it down. Her eyes remained open as she drank with uncharacteristic intemperance, continuing to observe her array of screens so as to not waste so much as an instant. Then she set the mug down and, without missing a beat, resumed her work.

The display left Giovanna astonished, both eyebrows raised. “Whoa. Guess you were really fiending for the stuff, huh?”

Sandalphon did not look her way as she replied, her tone imperceptibly more terse than normal. “A comparison to a fiend is something of an aspersion on my character. Have I given offense in some way?”

Her response threw Gio for a loop, a mixture of confusion and incredulity on her face. She knew her tendency to not mince words sometimes led to unintended offense, but this was a stretch even for her. “Uh…no? I just meant to say it kinda looks like you got a coffee addiction or something.”

“I wouldn’t consider myself addicted,” Sandalphon responded impassively as she continued to type.

“I mean, have you tried stopping?”

Nodding, Sandalphon dragged a popup from her left in front and used both hands to upscale it. “I have. Unfortunately, doing so resulted in a migraine of such severity that I became unable to give my duties sufficient focus.”

Giovanna snorted. “That sure sounds like addiction to me. Aren’t you, uh, worried about your health?”

“Not at all. I’ve optimized my work schedule,” Sandalphon replied matter-of-factly. “I have determined the exact point at which my activities would result in long-term self-damage and how to consistently reach that threshold without surpassing it. Given the gravity of my work, and all those who depend on me, doing anything less would be gross self-indulgence.”

For a few seconds, Giovanna stayed quiet. Then she spoke up again, her voice a little harder. “I know you’re not human, and you seem like a smart cookie, but that’s a pretty stupid line of thinking.”

Sandalphon didn’t look her way. “How so?”

Giovanna furrowed her brows, her lips pressed together. “I mean, I know we just met today, so it’s probably not my place to say. But life’s about more than efficiency this, optimize that, you know? Plus, I dunno who you were working for before, but we don’t wanna see you work yourself to the breaking point. You don’t have to be happy if you don’t want, we’d be sure happier and safer knowing our guardian angel’s feeling good and rested.”

“Your constructive criticism has been noted,” Sandalphon told her. “Thank you for your concern.”

“Yeah? Well…you’re welcome.” Shaking her head, Giovanna turned and left, heading down the hallway. On the far end lay a room with a black and red ‘KEEP OUT’ sign, and that seemed to be where she was headed.

”Well I suppose you tried” commented a shadow leaning against one of the corridors’ walls, one that had been apparently listening in with its pointy ears.

The unexpected reveal prompted raised brows from Giovanna, though she only slowed down for a moment until she realized who that voice belonged to. “That’s a neat trick,” she said off-handedly, continuing on her way.

”Not quite as good a disappearing trick as yours, I’ll admit” the princess replied, her tone light despite the accusatory turn of phrase, and then observing ”because I’ve just realized I have no idea what you’ve been up to on your lonesome” before stepping from shadow to shadow to get ahead of Giovanna again and asking ”don’t suppose you have the time to fill me in?”

Imagining the effort it must take to make such a dramatic display of such a mundane topic made Giovanna amused. “What, don’t trust me? I guess we have been on different teams since we arrived. It’s a long story, kinda, but I don’t mind telling ya. C’mon, in here.” She stopped in front of the door at the end of the hallway, then peered around in the dim light. “I can let you in, but before I do you gotta promise me you won’t tell anyone what’s in here. Especially Goldlewis.” She crossed her arms. “Deal?”

Midna tilted her head to the side in curiosity, before nodding and accepting the bargain ”Well I can’t say no to that now can I? Deal”

“Aaalright, you’d better not come crying to me then.” Pulling an ID card from her pocket, Giovanna swiped it on the magnetic lock beside the doorknob. It clicked, she pressed down on the handle, and opened the door to dart inside.

Within lay what looked like an apartment bedroom in a state of shocking disarray. An unmade bed piled with pillows and blankets caked with long green dog hair, like the carpet. Laundry haphazardly piled throughout, like drifts of snow, and absolutely none of it folded. A desk that hadn’t been dusted since the stone age with a beanbag in front of it instead of a chair, the trash can next to it (which lacked a trash bag) overflowing onto the floor with crumpled receipts, bottles, and tissues, and at least a dozen empty plastic water bottles beside a monitor stacked right next to the PC tower. There were also crumpled beer cans. “Ah,” Giovanna sighed as she stepped into the pigsty. Rei manifested beside her and trotted over to the bed. “Home sweet home.” Once Rei jumped up, taking half the bed herself easily, she rolled over to have her belly scratched. Giovanna obliged, then turned away to grab a brochure with coffee stains from the bedside table. Rei, who wanted more petting, wiggled on the bed pleadingly as Gio pulled out her phone.

”So was it your need for a live-in maid what I was going to be crying about or..?” Midna teased as she joined Giovanna, before deciding to add to the mess via introducing a second wolf into the room, namely her still unmodified wolfos. As the beast padded over to introduce itself, tail wagging as it went, Midna found another shadow to half lean into, in a poor replacement for the floating lazily in the air she really wanted to do at this moment. There was no way this carpet was clean either after all, and she thanked the goddesses a fusion had given her sandals at some point.

The teasing was much less than Giovanna expected. After dialing and tucking her phone in between her chin and her shoulder, she gave Midna a questioning expression. “I’m getting takeout before I starve to death, you want anything?” She offered the brochure, which turned out to be a menu full of low-resolution images of various less-than-authentic Chinese dishes from orange chicken to pork lo mein to beef with broccoli, all very affordable. Various line items had been circled with different-colored pens in the past, and the stain that looked like coffee from a distance smelled faintly of soy sauce.

The princess’ stomach rumbled at the mere suggestion, and so she accepted the stained brochure with little complaint. That said, she wasn’t exactly familiar with most of the dishes, and so after examining it for a few moments just decided to request simply that ”I’ll have what you're having?”

“‘Kay, uhh…” After another moment, someone picked up, and Giovanna gave her order. “Two garlic shredded porks. Two tubs of wonton soup, two cartons of rice, aaand two tubs of spare ribs. Yeah, okay. My address should be on file, just buzz the sixth floor office when you get here. ‘Kay, great. Good night.” She hung up and tossed the phone down, watching Rei cautiously sniff Midna’s wolfos. While not aggressive, the wolf spirit didn’t seem playful either. Once convinced there would be no issues, she turned to Midna again. “You mind if I get changed real quick?”

The princess, whose visible eye was a little wide at the amount of stuff that had just been ordered, refocused upon being asked that question. ”I mean you can already see all of me, so I don’t mind” the technically but not actually naked princess replied teasingly, before offering ”Buuuut I can also turn around and look away if you insist” even as she did so without actually needing to be asked. Her wolfos meanwhile seemed a little disappointed there would be no play, but didn’t badger the other beast for it either. Instead it padded on back to Midna, who promptly used it as a seat while she waited for the other woman to change.

The princess’s little factoid resulted in a mildly surprised look. “Huh.” Once given the go-ahead, Gio changed with very little ceremony, and by the time Midna turned back around she was out of her rather unorthodox work attire and clad in a pair of green athletic shorts plus a black tank top that didn’t quite cover her midriff. She draped her work clothes over the back of her chair, then went over and climbed into bed to lay on top of Rei like she was a big, fluffy green pillow. “So, what did you wanna know again?”

”What you’ve been up too while we’ve been making a whole lot of noise” Midna reminded her, before herself being reminded of something, namely ”Also I’m probably not going to be able to help bring in the food, as I’m pretty sure I’m now a wanted criminal due to foolishly not killing someone”

Gio looked quizzical. “I don’t think the delivery guy’s gonna care.” Stroking Rei with one hand, she used the other to gesture and help her explain as she began to spill the beans.

“Well, Jessie got a call from Bridges. That, uh, probably doesn’t ring a bell for you, but Bridges is a shipping company the SOU is pretty friendly with, and they’re also working with a group called the Centennials to connect and protect different communities around the world. A couple days ago their ship got stuck in the desert way down southeast, but they finally got it fixed and flew back to base, some place called Alcamoth.” She paused, stone-faced, for a lingering moment. “Uh, after that, they hopped around the Land of Adventure a little bit, then headed up here to link up with us. That didn’t go so well though, ‘cause halfway here they got attacked. Some crazy guy in a flying chariot or something, throwing lightning. They got away, but something got fried in the process and they landed out by Port Meridian, west of here. They needed a hand, so Vernon had Duke fly me and the twins out to give ‘em one. Things got pretty crazy actually, but it ended fine, so after you’re all done here they’ll be ready to fly you…wherever, I guess.”

Midna nodded along with this explanation, before pausing and going ”Wait a moment” before asking ”Was the ship called the, what was it again, the Virgin Victory?”

“Uhhh, yeah, that sounds right,” Gio shrugged. “Sorry, I don’t really sweat the details.”

”Huh” Midna replied, before giving a single laugh at the irony of the situation, and then filling the other woman in on it ”Well if you had I could have let you skip the flying over part. Those people are with us, and I have a portal leading to the ship. Good to know they’re doing well mind, and thanks for helping them out when we had no idea they were in trouble.”

Giovanna pursed her lips. “Oh. Well…you’re welcome.“ She flopped back down into Rei’s fur, sighing. “That all you wanted? If so, you’d probably better stake your claim on one of the better rooms. Only room for two in here.” She patted Rei on the head.

”I mean I also want to eat now that you’ve ordered, but I can get out of your fur till it shows up if you’ve got things to do” she offered, thinking of maybe checking in with the VV’s crew just to touch bases, before asking ”how much do I owe you anyway?” lightly gesturing at the brochure to clarify what she meant.

Giovanna rolled her eyes back as she thought. “‘Bout twenty zenny. It’ll probably be about half an hour, let me know where you’ll be and I’ll get you when it shows up.”

Midna’s visible eye did the same when she got the answer, though not because she was thinking, but because she was looking somewhere else. A moment later a small portal opened on the ground next to her, and spat out a sequence of zenny that the princess deftly caught before handing it over. By the time she’d done that she had her answer, which was simply ”Back in the meeting room I suppose”

“‘Kay, see ya then.” With no particular interest in Midna nor inclination for idle talk, Giovanna relaxed, happy to take it easy until her late dinner arrived.

The princess got the message, and proceeded to go find a way to kill 30 minutes. First she tried to get in touch with the crew of the Virgin Victory, but while her portal to the ship worked just fine, there turned out to be no one aboard. While mildly concerning, the fact that the ship seemed to be neatly docked next to a perfectly normal (and not, say, in the midst of burning to the ground) port town surrounded by massive amounts of farm land didn’t indicate anything was amiss. If she were to guess, it would be that the crew had found lodgings within the town, which would make finding them a pain. So instead she simply left a note letting them know she’d been here, and then headed back to base.

She arrived back at the meeting room with ten minutes to spare, according to her watch, and found the Sandalphon still within, now slumped over the meeting table in her chair, asleep. The archangel‘s eyes were still open, displaying softly blinking Zs, and her mouth hung open as well.

Midna couldn’t tell if this was funny or disconcerting.

Either way, she hung around for a few more minutes, then sighed and went and found a blanket to softly drape over the overworked archangel, lest she get cold overnight. That successfully burned the last few minutes, at which point the food had arrived, nice and punctually.

There was, as she had predicted, far too much for someone her size. Fortunately she had a pair of beasts to help her with her plentiful scraps.

She used the brief resulting burst of energy to perform repairs on her Darknut minion, doing so in the Seiran Clinic to avoid waking anyone with the hammering she had to do to get its psychically warped plate-mail back into any kind of working order. As for the thirty foot tall mecha wolf bear, she had absolutely no idea where she was going to start with repairing that, and thinking about the enormity of the task was enough to take the legs out from under her, and for the exhaustion of the day to fully catch up.

Having failed to take Giovanna’s advice about securing a room, the princess once again found herself on a couch, but with the warm and fluffy companionship of her wolfos, this wasn’t half as bad a way to spend the night as it could have been.

It certainly couldn’t be worse than last night’s nightmare, or at least so she prayed.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Yankee
Avatar of Yankee

Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 22 hrs ago

Angel to Angel

Pit’s @Yankee & Sandalphon’s @Lugubrious
Word Count: 2765 (+3 exp)
Location: Dystopiascape - Midgar

There was no way that Pit would be getting to sleep anytime soon. After returning from Split Mountain, he felt… electric. It was hard to say if it was a good or bad energy that coursed through him. He was feeling so many, well, feelings at once, making for the weird emotional cocktail he was experiencing. He was glad that he’d found Skyworld (and Midna had even promised to take him back to the mountain), but upset he couldn’t get there right away. His worry for Palutena was ever present, but now it was accompanied by hope that he’d see her again soon. He was anxious to finish the Seeker’s mission here in Midgar so he could run off to Skyworld, and he also felt a little guilty over feeling that in the first place. His duty to his goddess and his promise to help the people of Midgar were not at odds though - Palutena had charged him with protecting humanity, her people, so that was what he’d do.

But man… he really wanted to visit home!

As the night went on, meals were eaten, good news received and teammates arrived in one piece, Pit’s anxious energy slowly diminished. He was still far from sleep though, and the laps around the hideout weren’t helping.

It was inevitable that the angel would find himself in front of Sandalphon. He had been curious about her since their first brief meeting that morning, and since she was still awake at this time of night…

Pit sat near to her at the same table, just studying her at first since she was still working. He still felt the weird “energy” from her - unlike a human or a psychic. She also didn’t “feel” the same as himself or Pittoo. She had a halo, a mark of the divine, but she didn’t have wings. And since he was watching her instead of what she was doing (he could barely follow along anyway, not enough photos), he also noticed that she hadn’t blinked even once! It was weird.

“...If you cannot reach Executor, I’d recommend finding and asking Yvangelista himself. Despite his lofty station, he cares for the people and is the pinnacle of what you might call ‘reasonable authority’…fine, but be mindful.”

“...Without drawing attention, single out a single specimen and capture it for study…yes, a ‘live dissection’ may be necessary. I’m sending you the details of some contacts in the City of Glass. Notify me once it’s delivered and keep me informed about what they find…”

“...Providing you both finish your missions in a timely manner, I don’t see any harm. As for the specifics, I’m afraid I’m not well-versed in such matters, but I believe Sector 08 is known for its trendiness…flowers are more typical, as I understand it, but that could also work…well, malls are likely not open at this hour, but you may be able to find her one at a night market…”

With all the patience of a kid waiting around for an adult to be finished with work, that is to say not much, Pit eventually gave in and spoke up.

"Um, Sandalphon? I have a question."

The archangel quickly glanced his way, her lime-green pupils momentarily freezing in the form of question marks before reverting to their typical power symbols. Sandalphon wasn’t one to wear her heart on her sleeve, but the sudden movement and the slight raise of her eyebrows suggested that she’d been so focused that Pit might have actually managed to startle her. After a brief moment though, she glanced back at her screens, quickly tapping on a couple of them to mute herself.

Then she was ready. “How may I help you?” she asked the young angel.

"If you're really, really busy I'll leave you to it," he said, like he hadn't just interrupted her in the first place. "but I was wondering if you're actually an angel?"

His voice teetered on the verge of whispering due to the hour, but didn't quite get there. "'Cause I’ve never met another angel before, just heard about them. Besides Pittoo I mean, and I don't think he really counts as another angel. And you have your halo-" Pit lifted his hand and waved it above his own head about where his would sit, if he had one. "-so I wanted to know!"

He certainly hadn't missed the way her pupils flickered, and he leaned a little closer to her with his own eyes wide. "Are you a robot angel?"

After a brief moment to make sure that Pit didn’t have any more questions -he wasn’t the only one in her ears at the moment, after all- Sandalphon chose her words methodically. “It’s no trouble. I’m capable of internalizing multiple conversation sources at once, and I can type fast enough so that I need only speak to you. As for me…” She paused for a brief moment, hammering the backspace key with her right ring finger before her text cursor blasted off again. “I am not a machine of any kind, though this comparison has been drawn before. In my world, I am indeed an angel. However, I have learned that there are many kinds of angels in the World of Light. For instance, the Sankta of the Lateran Church in Sector 01, who are comparable to ordinary people. Within the Hierarchy of Laguna are abominations that assume angelic shapes. So I should clarify that in my world, angels like myself are actually a type of dragon.” With that she stopped typing for a moment, flexing her slender fingers as she gave them a brief rest.

Now that he thought about it, it made sense there are a lot of different kinds of angels. There were a lot of different kinds of everything, from humans to other species, so it would be weird if angels were the same in every world. Actually, hadn’t Viridi said something similar at one point to him? Either way he didn't think about it for long, because of the last thing Sandalphon said. It should have been impossible for Pit's eyes to get any bigger, but they did.

"You're a dragon angel? No way!"

Pit stood up and his eyes darted over her form anew, looking for any draconic traits he might have missed. "What kind of dragon things can you do? Breathe fire?! Do you have a tail?"

Unfortunately for Pit, there were no draconic traits to be found, just a very tall and tired-looking businesswoman. If Sandalphon had been any more emotive, she might have been amused by Pit’s innocent earnestness. “I cannot breathe fire. In fact, my elemental affinity is water. When I gather enough draconic energy to shapeshift into Heavenly Wings, I do have a tail, however. In that form I gain much more maneuverability and offensive power, able to debilitate targets with various afflictions. Unfortunately you were not present today when I took that form in battle…” She paused for a moment as she received a handful of file, which meticulously stored in the correct directory. “When fighting, I’m able to accrue more draconic energy if I can fight in Concentration Protocol, instead of healing. If you do well protecting our allies in battle tomorrow, I’ll be able to show you Heavenly Wings sooner.”

Though she probably hadn't meant it that way, Pit took her words as a challenge. Or perhaps a charge. A shapeshifting dragon angel! Who wouldn't want to see that? And if it came with the bonus of Sandalphon needing to heal less because less people were getting hurt, then all the better!

"You can definitely count on me for that! I'll be doing my best." Just like he always did, really. Maybe even more than his best, so they could settle everything as quickly as possible. I shouldn't keep thinking like that, he knew. Hopefully he wouldn't be distracted tomorrow, but he was sure that waking up tomorrow after some rest, he'd be able to focus.

Sandalphon nodded. “I will expect great things from you then.”

For now he still had more questions for the other angel, and since she didn't seem to mind them at the moment, Pit kept asking them.

"Can you fly when you go dragon mode?"

It seemed that Pit’s curiosity wasn’t sated quite yet. Though Sandalphon didn’t mind either way, she wanted to offer motivation, not necessarily fulfillment. “Tomorrow, you’ll be able to see for yourself.”

"Awww come on..."

It was a half-hearted complaint. Pit wasn't really disappointed in the answer, if anything Sandalphon's simple strategy for motivation worked on him like a charm. Still, at least Pit was pretty sure she was flightless in the form she took now - something they had in common. He was smiling, and he opened his mouth to continue questioning her but after attending to something, Sandalphon turned the tables.

“I happen to have a question of my own. I happen to have a great interest in theology. Angels are oftentimes the executors of a divine will. For instance, I serve the goddess Illia, and by extension the Illian Church. I would be interested in a synopsis of your own faith.”

"Uh, 'syn-op-sis'...?" Pit sounded the word out and cocked his head to the side. Context clues, Pit, he recalled Palutena advising him in the past. "...oh! You want to hear about Lady Palutena?"

Though she knew that she’d imbibed all the coffee she’d been given by Giovanna, Sandalphon couldn’t suppress the urge to reach out, pull over, and peer into the mug, just in case any dregs remained. Her pupils flickered slightly. This probably wouldn’t be enough. She glanced back over at Pit. “Yes, please,” came her belated reply.

Poor Sandalphon couldn't have known what she was in for with a request like that. Pit's smile grew wider, and if he wasn't already standing he would have jumped out of his seat at the chance to talk about the most important person not only in his life, but in his entire home world. From the get go it was clear that he was quite passionate about the subject.

"Lady Palutena is amazing! She's super strong and kind, and she knows pretty much everything. She's the Goddess of Light, Guardian of Humanity, and the ruler of all Angel Land! That's where we come from, our "universe" I guess.

There are actually a lot of gods in Angel Land. Way more than there are angels. Which is like, shouldn't it be called God Land instead? I never thought about that. Anyway, Palutena is the greatest of them all! She can do so many amazing things! Like- what'd she call it? Like-"

He broke off on a tangent, describing her teleportation, telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, hard-light constructs, summoning, transformation, and a whole host of other abilities without actually giving name to them. Complete with vaguely reenacting them when possible, of course. He didn't pause at all, though it was likely that with Sandalphon's own abilities she wouldn't need the break to process all of what Pit was telling her.

"But you know, none of that is really why she's the best. Lady Palutena really cares about people! Most of the other gods don't care about anyone but themselves! And there's always at least one trying to destroy the world. But Lady Palutena, she's always putting other people first. She hardly even uses her army unless she really needs them - did I mention she has an entire army of centurions? Luckily she doesn't have to do everything by herself. She has me!"

Here, Pit swelled up with pride. He rested his fists on his hips and puffed out his chest.

"I'm the captain of her royal bodyguard and do pretty much everything for her! She always helps me out though, gives me advice and stuff like that. She's probably the best goddess ever..."

It seemed that Pit was finally winding down. His voice took on a slightly more somber tone. "...it's been really weird going so long without hearing her voice. But I'm sure she's fine."

After that he tapped a finger against his chin, thinking about what else he could say about her.

"...and she takes her coffee with cream and two sugars!"

Sandalphon waited a moment to make sure that Pit had exhausted everything he wanted to say about his goddess, but not so long that he could think up more. “Quite the shower of praise. This Palutena sounds like a very special lady,” she summarized once given the chance to. “Not just for the quality of her character, either. In our land of Grastaea, our goddess Illia has been gone for a thousand years. Throughout all those lifetimes, the bond between humans and dragons -known as Dragalia- has endured, along with the Illian church. Difficult as it has been. To have one’s deity present and visible in the world is quite the blessing.” She paused for a moment. “I’m sure it must be difficult for you to be without her. May you find your goddess again soon.”

Pit was glad that Sandalphon could see how awesome Palutena was. Between that and her indulging him so far, he was coming to like her a lot. He wasn't even jealous that she was part dragon and thus objectively cooler than a regular angel like him. When she wished him a speedy reunion with Palutena, his smile softened. "Thank you."

There was a short moment of quiet where it looked like Pit was finished talking with his fellow angel, but that wasn't the case.

"...did you ever meet Illia before she disappeared?"

It took longer than usual for Sandalphon to answer. “...No. I was not alive during that time. My existence dates back only several centuries, to the time of the Empyrean War. Even then, I can recall very little of that time.”

"Oh." That struck Pit as rather sad. If his own goddess were to disappear like that, though he would never ever want it to happen, he would prefer to keep his good memories of her rather than never have known her in the first place.

"Well I'm sure she was really cool too," he offered. She had to have been if she inspired her church enough that it still followed her a thousand years later after she'd left. Strong faith like that was respectable. Though maybe lonely too. "Hey, I'll introduce you to Lady Palutena when we find her! I bet she'd like to meet you. She knows about other worlds, maybe she even knows about yours?"

“Maybe.” Sandalphon did not sound convinced, but then again, she didn’t sound like anything but ‘exhausted’ at the moment. “If we do meet, I would very much like to sit down and have a coffee with her.”

Her response seemed to please Pit all the same. He didn't launch into another question, just stretched his arms over his head and his wings out wide. He had burnt off a lot of his extra energy talking with (and at) Sandalphon, so he was about ready for sleep.

"Do you want a refill by the way?" His gaze flicked to her screen-like eyes and the dark circles beneath them. "Or I guess you're gonna head to bed soon?"

Sandalphon shook her head. “I can't afford to sleep just yet. I assume you wouldn't know how to use the machine? Don't worry then, I can get more in a minute. Thank you.” In the dark room, the gentle light of her halo was almost soporific, contrasting the harsher light of her divine screens.

"I'm not as medieval as I look! I can work a coffee machine," he said. As long as it wasn't some really high tech one where he'd need to read the instructions at least. Still she insisted it was fine, so Pit left her to resume her work. He could still hear her tapping away as he wandered out of the main room.

As Pit looked for a comfy place to curl up, preferably one of the top bunk beds he'd used the night before, he ran into only one other soul still awake; that of the Twilight Princess headed in the opposite direction. She stopped to let him know that the Virgin Victory was actually nearby and how it might be "a better option than the mountain top" before she left to go check on its crew. That fortunate piece of news swept away most of the rest of his lingering doubts. He slept easily after that, and was sure to wake up raring to go tomorrow.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Double
Avatar of Double

Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 2 hrs ago

R & R

Suoh ~ Sumeragi Safehouse

Lili, Yuito & Hanabi | @Double Roxas | @TruthHurts22 Raz

Word Count: 2,786
Exp: +3

”Man, I’m beat…” Roxas said as he slouched onto the sofa. He tried to mentally consolidate everything that happened that day. Vandelay Campus in the morning. Beacon Hospital in the afternoon. The Other attack in the evening. Milla and Sasha’s platoons - not to mention the two Septentrians themselves. The assassination plot and Lili’s outburst. It was almost hard to believe that so many incidents and crises could happen in a city over the course of a single measly day. But it did, and the Keybearer was now just plain exhausted.

Raz took up a chair himself (one closer to Lili than not, wherever she decided to go) and, for maybe the first time since he joined the Seekers, removed his helmet. ”Not me,” he said, ”I actually do some of my best work in the span of 12 hours. In fact, I…” A yawn interrupted him, as much as he tried to stifle it. ”...maybe a little mental exhaustion.”

A can of lemonade-soda sat on the nearby coffee table, Roxas reached for it and took a good gulp of the drink. It was tasty, but in his mind he couldn’t help but have a craving for a certain something else, ”What I wouldn’t give for a sea-salt ice cream…” he mused, letting himself think of home and his missing friends.

From her sprawled-out position on one of the other couches, Hanabi chuckled wearily. “That does sound pretty good right about now. We kind of missed dinner, didn’t we?”

”Oh, uh…” Roxas sat back up with a brief jolt, having temporarily forgotten that he wasn’t alone in the hideout, ”I know it sounds kind of silly, but in a… job… I used to have, I’d hang out with my friends after a long day of missions and we’d eat sea-salt ice cream together. Guess today felt like one of those long days, ya know?”

Yuito appeared from the kitchenette, nodding. With his equipment off and his coat removed, he looked more or less like an average teenage guy. Someone who should be worrying about year-end finals before summer break rather than brain-devouring monstrosities and government conspiracies. In fact, he looked rather haunted, and not just by his near-death experience with Anima. Something was weighing on his mind, which made the brave face he put on that much more laudable.

“I’m with you there,” he said frankly. “If you guys are hungry, there are some rations in the little pantry here. Wouldn’t be a proper shelter without some. I’m heating up some stew myself.”

Hanabi sat up. “You’re a lifesaver, Yuito. I’ll put some on too.”

“I’ll get it, don’t worry,” Yuito replied, smiling warmly. There wasn’t much Hanabi could say to that, so she just averted her gaze, scratching her head as she smiled herself.

Maybe Hanabi didn’t notice it, but Roxas did. He’d gone through the same thing, after all, as did all the Seekers. And he could only imagine how many questions Yuito had, that there was no time to answer. At least… no time until now. He grabbed the can of the soda and quickly downed the rest of it. That gave him the perfect excuse to get up and go into the kitchenette. He dropped the can into the trash bin, and then he looked over at Yuito.

”It’s okay,” Roxas told him with a knowing expression, ”I was confused at first, too. We all were.” And so rather than immediately return to the couch he remained behind in the kitchenette so he could have a much-needed conversation with Yuito, ”Ask me anything, and I’ll tell you what I know.”

”And you, Lili,” Raz added, getting onto his knees in his seat so he could look over the back of his chair. ”Me and Roxas had a lot of time to get used to the whole, uhh, fake-world-mind-control stuff, and the two of you-” he nodded between Lili and Yuito, ”-kinda came into it at a really hectic time.” He nervously rubbed his cheek, side-eyeing Lili. ”Uh. Sorry about that, by the way. How I handled… that.”

Lili shrugged. “Just…ugh, don’t worry about it. We’re all in way over our heads.”

Yuito glanced over at Raz, then back to Roxas. His expression made his concern clear, as well as his relief now that he could get it off his chest. “It’s definitely an awful lot to take in. It doesn’t seem real. But the more I saw of Suoh since that moment, the more I realized just how unlike the Suoh I know it was.” He shook his head helplessly. “Everything’s jumbled up. Beyond recognition. How did this happen? More importantly, is there anything we can do about it?” He looked over at Hanabi, who was only half-following the conversation. “And…is there anything we can do for Hanabi?” He shifted his target of address to her. “I tried talking to you about it, but I don’t think you really understood.”

While she might have taken offense to this, Hanabi seemed more worried and self-conscious instead. “I-I’m sorry, uh, what didn’t I understand? Maybe I, uh, wasn’t paying attention or…or something, it’s been a long day after all, hehe…”

”Weeell… there's technically something we could do…

Roxas gulped, knowing exactly what was coming. And it would be the sixth time today that he had done this. But as far as the Nobody was concerned, saying “No” wasn’t an option, ”He’s right, there is.” He said in a hushed voice, ”It’s not easy, though. So we should only do it if you’re absolutely sure you want to.” After this Roxas started to feel like he probably owed Yuito more of an explanation.

”The way I helped you in Beacon Hospital,” Roxas then said after a brief pause, ”was by using this.” he produced a pink Friend Heart in his hand for Yuito to see, ”It’s called a Friend Heart. Anyone can learn to use them. You can throw it into someone who you want to free, and it’ll do just that.” After this he closed his hand into a fist to cancel out the Friend Heart, ”But there’s a catch. It only works on someone who’s been weakened or tired out first. But on the plus side, it fully heals and restores the person you use it on in addition to freeing them.”

Roxas paused for a moment to give Yuito a chance to process the information before continuing, ”Since you already had your soul sucked out of you by that monster in the hospital, I used one on you hoping it would restore your soul.” He paused again, then summoned Oathkeeper in his hand, ”But Friend Hearts aren’t the only method we have. My Keyblades have the power to free someone as well, and they don’t even have to be weakened first. But…” Another pause, but this prospect having a catch of its own shouldn’t have been all that surprising for the Psych-OSF soldier, ”...the thing that influences people - Galeem. It’ll make them resist and try to fight back. So it’s only practical if the person is restrained first.”

With a look of utmost solemnity on his face, Yuito absorbed everything Roxas had to say. Hanabi listened as well, her manner no less serious. While she couldn’t understand anything about Galeem, she could gather that something had happened to her -possibly in Beacon- that needed to be taken care of. The girl might not be sure what she needed to be freed from, but being free was always better than the alternative. Still, Yuito looked her way with a pained expression. “I don’t want anyone to hurt her,” he said. “So…let’s go with the second method. I’ll find a way to keep her still.”

Hanabi seemed a little shaky. “I’m really not sure what’s going on. I’m kind of scared, to be honest. But I trust you guys, and…I trust you, Yuito. Whatever’s happening, if you believe it’s for my own good, then so do I.”

Yuito took a deep breath. Then he smiled. “I know you do. You’ve always been there for me, Hanabi. Ever since we were little. My dad and my brother were always so distant, but you and Nagi made me feel like I wasn’t alone. You’re both my dearest friends. But that’s not all you are.”

Hanabi’s eyes went wide. “Not…all?” Yuito moved toward her, then wrapped his arms around her in a hug and pulled her close. In an instant Hanabi went beet-red, her face only inches from Yuito’s. She averted her gaze, so nervous that she couldn’t bear to meet Yuito’s eyes, but as he leaned closer she couldn’t look away any longer. Their lips met in a long-overdue kiss, so close that for that moment, there was nothing in the world but one another.

Raz chuckled nervously, hopping over the back of the chair, whispering to Lili, ”I, uh, didn’t know that was an option before.”

Clutching the hilt of the Keyblade, Roxas took a tentative step forward. It didn’t feel quite right to interrupt a moment like this. But this was what Yuito and Hanabi both seemed to want, and so Roxas obliged them. May my Heart be my guiding key. He tightened his grip on Oathkeeper, and held his breath for a hesitant moment.

Then he lunged.

The Nobody plunged the tip of the white Keyblade into Hanabi’s back. To any normal onlooker this would look like some kind of heinous attempt at murder. But thankfully everyone in the room knew better. The blade produced the searing white light from its tip that had become so characteristic of the technique being used. The Keyblade Purge was a power Roxas had admittedly only recently learned about. Within the last three or so days to be exact. And yet with each time he used it, he unmistakably felt like he understood it more and more.

Such as how to strengthen his footing for example. Roxas planted his feet on the floor and leaned forward into his apparent attack. Such a stance kept him from being pushed back by the resistance he inevitably knew was coming. And that was when the scream came from Hanabi. Roxas had failed to mention this particular aspect of the procedure to Yuito, and wondered for a moment whether he would falter and change his mind about proceeding. But the soldier appeared to be standing his ground and tightening his hold on Hanabi’s body. It looked like he was going to see this through after all.

Roxas grunted and breathed through gritted teeth as he pressed forward. Each inch seemingly increased the intensity of both Hanabi’s internal resistance, but to her credit the poor girl held as strong as she could, squeezing Yuito tighter as she fought through the pain. As usual, Roxas swore he could hear something else screaming from somewhere deep inside Hanabi. He wasn’t certain, but his guess was that this was Galeem. Or whatever aspect of Galeem that controlled people anyway. In some ways this was almost like an exorcism of sorts.

”Get! OUT!” Came the shout from Roxas, as if he was struggling against whatever had its hold on Hanabi. But the Keybearer stood his ground, and with enough exertion he finally twisted his weapon from its original vertical angle to a horizontal. It rather looked like a key being forcibly turned in order to open a particularly stubborn lock. But when he did this, both he and Hanabi became washed over by a blinding flash of radiant light. When that brightness cleared, it left Hanabi no worse for wear and - more importantly - freed.

She and Yuito broke apart. They both looked exhausted, and more than a little shaken up -either by the power of the purge or being used as a live stress ball- but they were okay. Against all odds, their strategy had worked wonders. As much as the purge shook Hanabi to her very core, her mind had been elsewhere–in a sanctuary of long-awaited happiness. Even now, she and Yuito were smiling.

”Hah… did you… see how her colors changed?” Roxas asked Yuito and Lili between heavy breaths, ”That’s how you know she’s been freed. Anyone… under Galeem’s influence… will look like she did. All muted… with glowing red eyes, and all.” Roxas stumbled over to the sofa and let himself collapse on it. This, he knew, would also happen. As much as he felt like he was getting the hang of the Keyblade Purge, using it this many times in succession was still going to take its toll.

”By the way…” Roxas said, now laying on the sofa with one arm lazily hanging over the edge, ”...there’s actually a third way to free people that we didn’t mention earlier: Defeating the area Guardian. If we do that, everyone in the region will be freed all at once. So that would mean all of Midgar, and probably Gutsford too I’ll bet. That’s why Raz and I came to Midgar with the rest of our friends.”

Both soldiers gave him a grateful smile. “We’ll think about all that in the morning,” Yuito told him. “We all need rest, you most of all. For now, just take it easy.” He took Hanabi by the hand. “As messed-up as things are, we can still make everything right, I know we can. It’ll be a long journey, but we’ll get there. One step at a time.”

Having just watched the Keyblade-based awakening, since he missed out on it when he and Roxas had tried to do it with Lili, Raz walked over to the couch. ”Sorry if it’s a bad time to ask if you’re too beat after doing that, but in the spirit of… team cohesion? I was wondering what you’re doing exactly, when it comes to freeing people like her and Lili?” He gestured to the hand Roxas usually held his keyblade with. ”And what’s with the giant key?”

”It’s called a Keyblade.” Roxas answered, ”It… um… huh, come to think of it, I have no idea where they originated from actually.” He mused, then continued after a pause, ”But I do know they’re a special weapon that only certain people with strong enough Hearts can summon. Where I come from we had these monsters called Heartless that come from the darkness in people’s hearts. The Keyblade is the only weapon capable of permanently destroying a Heartless. They’ve got other powers too. Like opening any lock. Or sealing the entrances to the Realm of Darkness where the Heartless come from.”

He thought for a moment and then added, ”And apparently they can free people from Galeem’s control. Admittedly I had no idea they could do that until after I joined up with you guys at Twilight Town. Remember when I freed Benedict when we fought him on the way here? That was the first time I ever discovered I could do it. I’ve just been… playing it by ear ever since, I guess.”

By this point Yuito and Hanabi had gone to actually eat the simple meal that Yuito had prepared. Once they finished the fold-out cots in the exercise room were where they’d sleep for the night, but neither of them could fault Roxas if he elected to pass out on the couch where he lay.

”The darkness in people’s hearts,” Raz repeated, musing. He hoped for something more, you know, informative, though he couldn’t fault Roxas for not being a Keyblade scholar anymore than he could fault himself for not being a brain surgeon. It was a little hard to wrap his mind around - it felt much more ‘magic’ than anything Raz was familiar with. But it’d been a long day, and he didn’t want to hold Roxas up with a round of 20 Questions.

It wasn’t like he could learn everything there was to know about Roxas’s home in just two days, the canonical length of time they’ve been together, after all.

”You did good today, Roxas,” Raz added, trying to leverage the slightly longer time he’d been a Seeker as enough seniority to make that call. ”And before I forget… thanks.” He left the Keyblader and moved back to Lili. ”Hey, how’re you feeling?”

Roxas offered no further responses, as he was now out like a lightbulb. To be honest this was a long time coming. He’d been running on fumes for a while now and had officially reached the point of no longer being able to stay awake. So there he lay on that sofa, finally getting that much deserved sleep after a long, LONG day.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 1 day ago

Zenkichi Hasegawa & Sandalphon

Midgar- SOU Headquarters

Lvl 5 - (52/50) -> Lvl 5 (55/50)

Word Count: 1,641 words

During a calm moment while many others had gone to sleep, Zenkichi stepped away from the room Akane was staying in, having finally lulled his daughter to sleep with reassurances that he was safe, and that they were getting closer to dealing with the corrupt elements controlling Midgar. Without too much detail, of course.

When he did, he encountered a...surprisingly cute sight. Sandalphon, the really tall angel robot lady, asleep in a chair at the meeting table, a blanket draped carefully over her. He thought back to that little boy, Aurele, that she'd helped him save in Quarantine Valley. He wondered if he died in the Redshift cascade, like so many others surely did.

Sighing and slumping into a chair near the one she was in, the detective reached into his pocket and pulled out the Spirit of that sniper-looking lady and looked back to Sandalphon. Sure, he might be able to make use of it as a striker, like some of the others did, but...this felt like a better decision.

He gently reached over and lightly shook Sandalphon's shoulder, a little tense and worried about waking her up, but figuring at the very least she might prefer to have the choice to find another place to sleep. "Hey, sorry for waking you up there. Got something you might want a look at, though."

When Zenkichi shook Sandalphon, it took a little more than he might have expected to rouse her, but after a moment she stirred from her accidental slumber. She did so without the suddenness of alarm, her pupils assuming their usual ring shape as their lime-green glow returned. Realizing what must have happened, she took a long breath in through her nose as she pushed herself up from the table where she'd unwittingly slumped down.

"No apologies necessary. If anything, I should apologize for such an unbecoming lapse of professionalism." When Zenkichi mentioned something she might want to look at, she assumed some important matter that required her immediate attention. Instead she found herself presented with a spirit, but not just any spirit. Sandalphon took it in hand and stared at the visage depicted within. "I know this woman. Cecile, a former knight of the Dyrenell Empire, once the kingdom of Alberia. I understand that she deserted and wound up as a mercenary working in Grams, with a severe addiction to a substance called manachew." She paused for a moment, expressionless. "And now fate has led her here."

After another quiet couple of a seconds she looked at Zenkichi again. "Thank you for bringing me this. If I may, I would like to use this spirit. While it is a substandard option for fusion, I may be able to obtain a more functional rifle. My gunstaff works, but its shot speed and lack of scope make it ineffective at long range."

Zenkichi waved away Sandalphon's return apology with a chuckle. "Oh, trust me, I've passed out at my desk my fair share of times, working a case. From one exhausted professional to another, you have my respect." Scratching the back of his neck at the admission, he watched and listened as she explained the history of the Spirit he'd offered. "That...that's terrible. What a sad fate. And I found her, and a few others, alone...in an alley where that kid was." Trying not to let the depression get to him, he trudged on.

"Of course, that's why I offered it. And...I wanted to thank you. For looking after Aurele, that kid, for me. You didn't have to do that, but you did. I just..." Trailing off, he pulled out the Spirits of Aurele's friends, as well as that of Devinder Crousley, though he didn't know the man's name. "There was this thing there. Like a ghost. It...was luring people in, and turning them into little versions of itself, kind of. That boy was just playing with his friends when it got them, and it almost got us, but I managed to kill it." Sighing, he ran his hand through his hair, his face long and haggard.

"The people it transformed, they were just...gone. Like puppets with their strings cut, so I....I killed them. And...this is all that's left of them. I...I don't know what two kids will do, or become, if I do something with these, but I hate the thought of them just vanishing into nothing." Looking back up at Sandalphon from the Spirits, he chuckled sadly, shaking his head. "God, sorry, that was a lot to just dump on you, huh? My bad. I'll be alright, it's just...sometimes, this city gets to me. Even before I knew about all this, before the others found me. I knew this place was wrong. I just didn't know how wrong it was."

Rather than pull up her screens to resume work where she left off, Sandalphon listened in grave silence, her full focus on the detective. He explained what had happened in that hidden street just out of the archangel's sightlines as she'd been overseeing the search operation all over Quarantine Valley's rooftops. Now she could see why he'd been reluctant to mention it earlier; he'd stumbled upon something truly horrific, tucked away just off the beaten path, something that had managed to claim the lives -or at least the souls- or many unsuspecting innocents before it finally bit off more than it could chew. How many more horrors beyond any ordinary person's imagination lurked in this world's dark corners, preying on its fundamental uncertainty? Sandalphon couldn't blame Zenkichi for his distress one bit. The knowledge of suffering, both known and unknown, weighed on her just as heavily.

"You have my sympathies, detective. Even for someone like me, the cruelty of this world is daunting. Punishing. Unremittingly...unfair. Nothing I can say or do will change the fact that tomorrow, the sun will rise upon a land of war, corruption, and misery. But we can make sure that by the time the sun sets, there is less injustice than when the day began." For a moment she laid her eyes on the other spirits. "You did your best with the hand you were dealt, as we all do. We cannot save everyone, but we can continue to fight to make the world a better place. Tomorrow morning we will defeat the Guardian and awaken Midgar's people. If we're to take even one step forward, I pray that we may break free from the shackles of the past." Emboldened by prayer, she crushed the spirit of Cecile. Its prismatic energies swirled and coalesced, taking the form of a magnificent white rifle with a lens in its scope that gleamed like gold. Its weight felt natural in her arms. "And set our sights on the future."

Zenkichi nodded, a small smile on his face at Sandalphon's hopeful declaration. "Yeah, the future. Hopefully we can make it a better one." Standing up to stretch his back, Zenkichi let out a yawn. "Alright, I gotta get to sleep. Juggling saving the world, taking down a corrupt government, and raising a teenager takes a lot out of ya. G'night, Sandalphon. And thanks for listening."

"You're welcome." Sandalphon exhaled slowly. "I'm loathe to leave anything unfinished, but I should consider sleep as well. It's clear my physical state is too compromised for further work tonight. I hope to serve everyone better tomorrow." The archangel rose from her seat a little shakily, then gave Zenkichi one last look. "Those spirits will fade if you don't use them. They would be better served carrying you forward than weighing you down."

Looking down at the Spirits he'd placed on the table, Zenkichi sighed, scooping them up. Weighing me down, huh...? He turned his head as Sandalphon left, but soon returned his gaze to the Spirits. Might as well do something with them before they disappeared, then. He took the Spirit of the adult-looking man and, trying to remember how this worked, pressed it to his head. He let out a gasp as the Spirit sunk into him, and he changed.

Taking a breath, he slowly patted himself down, getting a feel for his new appearance. He felt a little stockier, though not noticeably heavier, which was a relief. The change to his suit was a bit bothersome, though with a second glance, it wasn't that bad. At least the collar wasn't as egregiously high as in his Phantom Thief attire. Wearing that around everywhere would have been odd. The other thing that stood out was his beard, which he could feel was much more...stubbly. He usually kept his thinner than this. He'd have to shave that when he got the chance.

Then, he turned to the other two Spirits. With a frown, he took them in his hands and squeezed, crushing them and turning them into items. In front of him, on the table, was a plate of fish and chips, and a child's air horn. "That's it, huh?" He mumbled. Dinner and a toy. Sitting back down, he took a chip off the plate, dipped it in the accompanying sauce, and bit down. "Okay, that's actually really good. Sorry, kid. But thank you for the meal." Looking at the air horn, he gently touched the toy, to commemorate the child it had come from, then put it in his pocket.

"I can't wait to punch Galeem in his stupid, smug face." He sighed, munching on a strangely delicious plate of fish and chips. Tomorrow would be a better day. Looking at the clock, Zenkichi chuckled.

It was already tomorrow. Akane had really taken a while to calm down, it seems. He'd have to have a big cup of coffee in the morning to make up for being up this late.

Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 1 hr ago

Sakura Level 10: 30/100
Karin Level 7: 01/70
Location: Suoh
Word Count: 541
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 10: 31/100
Karin Level 7: 02/70

Back from Split Mountain or from battle, Sakura and Karin were both fairly tired and in want of some rest before the big day tomorrow. Still, Sakura threw her arms around Karin and the heiress obliged her hug.

”Karin! Things have been so crazy. I wish we would stop splitting up so much!” Sakura exclaimed.

”I simply believe it’s the most economical use of our roles as long as splitting up is needed. Like avoiding putting healers on the same team.” Karin said.

”Yeah, yeah, whatever, but after we’re done here we’re not splitting up anymore.” Sakura said. ”What did you see?”

”No small amount of corruption and failure.” Karin said sourly. She was sitting on a couch, one leg crossed over the other. ”The city’s power structure is rotten to the core. It’s driven people mad.”

”Right?! What the heck! I saw a scary hospital, and it turns out the scary hospital guy works with the people in charge! And we have a massive bounty on our heads now.” Sakura said.

”Indeed. Fortunately I can’t imagine it will stick after we’re done here.” Karin said.

”Well, we Friend Hearted some people who were high up the ranks, so hopefully that’ll clear things up, too.” Sakura scratched her head.

Karin sat, thoughtfully for a moment. ”What will happen here after we defeat the guardian?”

”There’s a big ‘goosh’ of energy, and everyone around is free of Galeem’s influence.” Sakura explained.

”Everyone in Midgard. Mass enlightenment. Things will change, but I can’t imagine they will change as fast as we would like.” Karin said, staring off into the middle distance. ”Sakura, it’s all well and good to blitz through this town, destroy the Guardian, and leave. The Seekers are needed here. But people have lived entire lives within Midgar. Don’t we have a responsibility to help?” Karin said. She leaned back.

”...yeah?” Sakura said with a squint. ”But I’m still not sure what will really happen once we defeat Galeem. I’m hoping we can all go home, somehow.”

”In the meantime, people may need our help. And what if the change isn’t instant? The Seekers haven’t been fighting like none of this matters. We haven’t been ruthless, willing to kill whoever gets in our way because it will all be erased. Galeem’s world is still a world, and it still needs protection. And Galeem isn’t willing to do it.” Karin leaned forward, locking her fingers together.

”What do you mean by all this, Karin?” Sakura asked, scooting closer.

”I’m just saying…the crusade doesn’t need to be endless. It’s not as simple as planting a flag on the tallest tower and moving on. There are things that need attending too. Here, in Midgar. And I have to check back in Limsa.” Her orange eyes met Sakura’s. ”Your parents. If they’re out there, they might be here, don’t you think?”

Sakura looked away, pursing her lips. ”M-maybe.” She observed her clenched fist. ”But first things first. We’ve done all this to find a way to the Guardian. We have to face it down. Tomorrow. Let’s get some rest, okay?” Sakura said, rising back to standing.

”Right. Of course. The wisdom of the present. We set out tomorrow.” Karin said with a little smile.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 19 hrs ago

Mercy Dreams - Solitary Confinement

The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Artorias and Osvalds’ @Dark Cloud, Ms Fortune
Word Count: 5860

Looking up from the ruined fragments of the statue’s decapitated head, Nadia sized up the monstrous perpetrator as it began to move towards her. Ten Piedad stood about triple her height, taller even than the statue in whose cold arms it found some semblance of comfort. Too tall for her to leap over with her usual double jump, that’s for sure. With gnarly flesh somewhere between wood and bone, pierced by a dozen nails and crowned by a ghastly demonic skull, it looked like a paralysis demon come to life. It closed the distance in a floundering stumble, like a man in a drunken stupor or sleepwalking in the grip of an awful dream, cracking floor tiles and crunching dead flowers beneath its sinuous trunks.

Ten Piedad was nothing short of nightmarish, and Nadia had already tensed up in anticipation, but at the same time the smile on her face was one of genuine glee. Just today, the Seekers had already fought a reality-warping, miniboss-summoning maniac, a gigantic mechanical wasp plus the royal pain inside, a dance-obsessed necromancer, and an armada of alien robots. Pulling her hilts from her belt, she inserted the blades in quick succession. Chkk-chkk. If the boss of Mercy Dreams was just some big tree demon, she could blow this joint in time for dinner. Providing her bad luck didn’t jinx things, of course. The feral flourished her boxcutters in the flickering candlelight, and assumed a battle-ready stance.

Sectonia hovered her way down, following Nadia but keeping some distance for now as the feral charged into battle. She unwittingly agreed with Nadia here, this was pedestrian considering what they had just fought all things considered.

Knelt down on one knee moving around as he stared down the Ten Piedad, Artorias looked akin to his namesake; a wolf circling its prey “Tis like the beast moves as though it were half conscious.” the knight observed quietly, the sudden bit of unexpected insightfulness took Osvald by surprise though he only raised an eyebrow.

The scholar's hand glowed brightly flames dancing in the palms of his hands, the light casting a glint in Osvald's round spectacles ‘Whatever monstrosity this is, it looks as if it cannot hold up its own weight easily.’ not surprising considering that it seemed as if it were only just waking up “It should burn all the same.” the scholar shrugged “That shalt be seen.

Both men stood at the ready, the knight held his hefty blade in one hand while he moved slowly waiting for the moment to leap at the Ten Piedad, the scholar meanwhile stood back standing with one hand out of pocket producing a ball of fire in his palm.

Long before it got into melee range, Ten Piedad raised both its arms, then bent and slammed them into the ground. The earth began to rumble, and thorny briars as tall as itself began to sprout around the arena with enough force to scourge the flesh of its enemies.

Being a flier, Sectonia was immune to the sprouted thorns, but this creature was much larger than other things in the prison for sure. It was a tad bigger than she was now due to that spirit fusion she had done earlier. And with the damaging ground below her, she knew her Antlers wouldn’t survive dealing with that. So instead she gave everyone her pipe of insight shield and haste to reposition. She also summoned her Homing Crystals, which floated about her as she apparently wasn’t close enough to have them launch off yet.

Meanwhile on the ground the melee fighters would need to compete with the spiked briars that shot from beneath the ground, Artorias fared better than his scholarly acquaintance.

Osvald stumbled backward only narrowly escaping being impaled by the briars grunting the scholar scrambled for footing “Flames! Reduce them to ash!” the scholar called out, the Ten Piedad suddenly became engulfed in a blazing conflagration as Osvald's spell took effect.

Through the fire and the flames, the Wolf Knight rushed the Ten Piedad head-on expertly cleaving at the briars as he dashed at the monster.

Nadia followed his example, racing through the vaulted subterranean chamber. Dead flowers crumbled beneath their footsteps, and their swift passage blew out candles not already toppled by the random outcrops of spiky vines, but the flame from Osvald that set Ten Piedad alight rendered it clearly visible to all. “Guess we’re both fired up now.” She darted around the briars rather than try to chop them down, so with her edge in speed over Artorias the two of them reached their target at about the same time. This monstrosity was downright scary up close, its height and demonic visage horrible to behold, but the feral didn’t lose her head just yet. Ten Piedad knelt, one arm raised. Its limb contorted, bending more like a tentacle than an actual arm, then lashed out with crushing force and much greater range. “Nice try!” Nadia uncoiled the muscle fibers in her legs to spring into the air, leaping over the enormous branch slash, then double jumped to somersault toward the monster’s head. “Here’s your treant!”

Klonk! Her flashing blades connected with the ghastly head, and stopped only a couple inches in. Though it looked like a skull, it had the consistency of a log, every bit as solid and durable as it looked. “Wood you look at that.” Nadia wrenched her blades loose, leaving a couple fresh grooves across the nightmare’s face, then planted her feet and flipped backward off Ten Piedad as its thrashing head brought one of its twisted horns within inches of her body. “It’s tough! Who’s got some serious chops?”

Sectonia wasn’t much of a pun lady herself, but she got what Nadia was saying and summoned her new greataxe as she got into throwing range and threw the large weapon at the tree demon. She was sure Nadia had some kind of pun with axes and trees. Her greataxe hurtled through the air and slammed into Ten Piedad’s shoulder from above, its blade embedded about a foot deep into its wooden torso. The function of the arm on that side did not seem impeded though, and when Sectonia got close enough to trigger Homing Crystal Soulmass, the spiky orbs fired off of their own accord and shattered against the monster’s wooden body to barely any effect.

Not much for humorous vernacular himself the feral's jokes flew over the stoic knight's head however her words did illicit a raised eyebrow from the Seekers newest recruit ‘Is she always like this?’ Osvald didn't linger on the thought long, the beastkin though weaving it into a play of words still pointed out something of value.

Meanwhile the headstrong knight lashed out violently with his considerable strength, his intimidatingly large blade though hefty sinking deep into the Ten Piedad’s body causing its body to creak as the place where a human torso would be splintered.

Artorias dislodged his sword, rolling backwards quickly to evade the wooden creature's strikes. Assuming a stance with both knees bent, he placed the palm of his hand on Finstertöter's hilt readying himself to leap and slam his blade down.

As the fight began in earnest, a few teammates waited outside of the danger zone. Primrose and Therion looked on, recovering their stamina and letting the fighters inside do as offered and take care of the beast - for now. They both knew that Ms. Fortune hadn't shown up at the last second during the battle with the two jailers; she and the others she'd had with her must have been waiting in the wings to assist, without getting in the way due to the narrow battlefield. So the two of them returned the favor, keeping an eye on what was going on inside should they be needed.

Then when they heard the several people approaching they promptly got out of the way.

Behind the team, the heavy weight that was Bowser slammed down, the turtle from a world of platforming casually leaping down a story to join the fight. His son landed beside him, wearing a set of headphones connecting to a cachet player. As Rika and Kamek both floated down to complete the quartet, Jr hit play, and transformed into a towering red armored centipede that stood head and shoulders above his father.

With a roar from the two royal koopas, and a whoop from the ship girl princess, the troop came charging into the fray to provide backup. Ironically it was the slower and less enthusiastic Kamek whose influence was felt first, as a magical semi-translucent fist as large as the koopa himself appeared above Ten Piedad’s head and took a swing at its chest at his command. The blow left a handful of cracks in its chest, stretched out like spider’s web. A second after that a singular crack of gunfire joined the fray as Quiet, one of Kamek’s strikers, perfectly slipped a sniper rifle round in between and above the melee fighters, this too aimed straight at the towering brute’s skull. A handful of splinters flew as the bullet buried into and lodged somewhere within the wood, yet Ten Piedad registered the headshot no more than it did the body blow. Was there really a vital organ in there?

The troop’s closer ranged fighters arrived a few moments later, the first pair doing so traveling atop a dozen or more legs as Jr in the guise of the Beast wove between thorny bushes charged in with Rika perched atop his chitin-armored back. The ship girl herself charged up a vaultbreaker punch as they approached, and then unleashed it when they got close, flying across the last remaining distance to deliver an unsteadying strike. Despite its power, the punch collided with Ten Piedad’s own swipe and lost, knocking Rika back just as the much larger target of Jr got into range. He followed up by delivering a Mountain Smash strike with his new horns, an attack that would reduce Ten Piedad’s resistance to further melee attacks, before both royal children got out of dodge, Rika launching herself into the air via feather fall rune and then grappling away, while Jr dove down into the earth, tunneling away from danger. As his long body worked its way in, Ten Piedad lifted its arms to pound his exposed tail against the floor, resulting in an earth muffled yelp.

Luckily, the Seekers also in this way got out of the way of their later arriving father’s own follow up, which was to leap up into the air and drive a powerful dropkick into their foe’s torso, a blow that would launch him back a bit in the process, and free up more space for follow ups.

That mighty dropkick resulted in the first sign of actual poise damage done to Ten Piedad so far, as the monstrosity took a half-step back, its arms and head lolling. Then its gruesome skull snapped to the side, and as Bowser flipped back to land after his dropkick, Ten Piedad stepped forward. It lurched two gigantic steps forward, leaving Nadia’s own attempt at a follow-up in the dust as it did, and lifted its arms to bring both down on top of the Koopa King. “Watch out!” the feral yowled, hoping her warning came in time.

Ten Piedad’s arms descended, unyielding and uninterruptible as it pounded the earth. Immediately a forest of briars, tall as bamboo shoots, shot up around it in irregular and expanding concentric circles. Those thorny brambles tore through the ground itself, an agonizing snare both above and below ground. As she rushed in to try and stab the nightmare in its exposed back, Nadia got blindsided from below by the impossibly fast growth, sliced in a dozen places and launched off her feet. “Nyagh!” By twisting around in the air she barely managed to land on her feet, sliding a short distance in a crouched stance as she bled from fresh cuts on her arms and legs. Worse still, the plant-type attack inflicted Grounded on her, reducing her accuracy. She felt woozy and drained, far more than she ought to be. As the briars disintegrated, she sucked in her breath and stood, ready to push through.

Bowser meanwhile attempted to counter the monster’s plants with his own, slamming both firsts and then a flurry of thorny vines into the ground, prompting his own wave of growth to race forwards to do battle with the titans. Rika meanwhile avoided it by leaping up and grappling up to the ceiling, where she hung for a moment as she used her rigging guns to fire a set of 4 power sapping globules at the foe. The distance between herself and her target, plus the globules’ spread and Ten Piedad’s motion, meant not all of them hit, but those that did splashed and crackled against its massive frame.

Jr and Kamek meanwhile focused on empowering themselves, the mage summoning a quartet of doppelgangers to increase his survivability and firepower, while Jr, after bursting back out of the ground again to get the speed needed to avoid the rootsplosion, pivoted and flashed silver for a moment as he sharpened his Beast form’s natural weapons, readying to come in for another attack.

Artorias was unperturbed by the vicious briars, fearlessly rushing towards the monster the knight swung Finstertöter in a circular arc slashing the forest of thorns as they appeared in his way ignoring the pain as the briars that shot up beneath him caught his legs, with a howl both of pain and battlefury he leapt at the Ten Piedad whom seemed busy slamming its arms down, he landed an overhand slam with his blade that reverberated against the ground.

With laboring breaths he flipped into the air again bringing his blade down the clang of Finstertöter against the hard floor almost deafening.

Then with one final guttural howl the knight somersaulted and brought his blade down like a lumberjack chopped wood. If the monster hadn't moved it would certainly be in danger, but not enough to cause it to fall. The impressive strength behind that heavy cutting edge worked to great effect, hacking so deep into one of Ten Piedad’s arms just above the elbow that when it withdrew the limb, it was dangling by little more than a strip.

It's body would certainly be in rougher shape than it had at the beginning of the fight, meanwhile behind the knight Osvald contested with the thorns doing as much as he could to avoid them “Fire burn these weeds away!” the scholar called, flames exploded outward from the Ten Piedad the knight kicked himself off the monster and into the air narrowly escaping the flames, landing on his feet already assuming a fighting stance.

Sectonia meanwhile summoned back her axe and used it to conjure her massive Rings of Light, which she threw at the tree demon, taking some hits from its erupting briar shoots as this attack kept her stationary for its short duration. With all the others getting into melee, there really wasn’t much room for her at this time, so she was stuck using this attack for now.

It seemed like the entire fifth layer had shaken as the wood monster struck the ground in its room. It was about that time that Primrose and Therion thought that they should lend a hand.

Primrose was already in motion, preparing another buff for her allies. The thing they were fighting seemed to shrug off most physical attacks, but rather than increase the Seekers' physical strength to account for that she chose to give them a boost to something she thought would work out better. She danced, her steps flowing into the powerful, provocative Peacock Strut. Kamek, Osvald, Sectonia, and all other spell casters in their group including herself would see a bump up in their magical power.

Then she entered the room proper, leaving the narrow walkway behind and dashing inside. She flung a Fire Orb at Ten Piedad as soon as it had formed in her hand.

Therion did not enter the room immediately. He might be able to survive in there, avoid the worst of the monster's attacks, but he could tell he'd have a hard time dealing damage to it. And at that point the only thing he'd be able to do is maybe act as bait, which he wasn't about to do.

He could feel Primrose's dance magic increase his fire power, so if it came down to it he could join in and set this massive pile of wood and bone to torch. For now though, he had at least one thing in his arsenal that might work.

"Get in there big guy," he told his striker as he summoned it, giving it a push with his foot to help it get going. The junicorn rolled into the battlefield, with its hard iron shell to protect it from Ten Piedad's attacks as well as any crossfire from the Seekers themselves. It came to a halt when its blood red limbs popped out of the shell, along with the massive lance-like horn. It fired that horn off at Ten Piedad.

Osvald’s conflagration had set Ten Piedad alight, igniting the flames that now smoldered across its body, but it took Primrose’s Fire Orb to really get the beast burning. Now the nightmare was engulfed in an inferno, a truly hellish vision and yet it neither languished nor agonized, just lurching forward toward the nearest Seekers to beat them into the dirt as well. Nadia recoiled from it, giving up on offense for a moment to backpedal toward safety. That Grounded status interfering with her depth perception was even more of a thorn in her side than the actual thorns, making her swings miss frustratingly often. And now she was loath to approach Ten Piedad’s burning body, remembering what happened when the illuminator’s red-hot iron hit her. That gave her an idea, though.

Just after Junicorn’s horn slammed into the demon’s hip, Nadia stuck her boxcutters in the ground and charged forward. “The only spike I need…” Putting her palms together, she conjured a maelstrom sphere of Hydro power that she tossed up into the air. Then she leaped after it and brought her palm down on its roiling surface like a giant volleyball. “Is this!”

Empowered by Peacock Strut, Purrge of Vengeance struck Ten Piedad’s burning body in an explosion of magic water that immediately caused Vaporize, dealing an extra burst of damage in a concussive blast of steam. It also put out the fire, putting the pyromancers’ efforts back to square one. Now that she’d figured out a better strategy than just hitting the thing, though, Nadia was on a roll. She had just enough tension for another Purrge of Vengeance, so when Ten Piedad turned toward her she threw it and ran away. While it hurt less, it left her enemy Wet, so when Nadia grabbed her boxcutters she bolted into and through the monster with Charge. “Just call me the branch manager,” she joked, whipping around to deliver two critical electric slashes that also turned Wet into Electro-charged. “‘Cause here’s some budget cuts!”

Even as lightning coursed across its frame, Ten Piedad didn’t seem too impressed. No sound issued from its head, but for a moment, Nadia could swear that she heard something issuing from inside its torso. It sounded like whimpering, or maybe crying. As she tried to press her advantage, the monster shrugged off her attack and struck Nadia with its dislocated elbow, knocking her away in a corkscrew. “Gah, this thing just doesn’t budge at all!” When Ten Piedad continued to fight, it attacked in a frenzy somewhat faster than before.

Staying out of range of this frenzy was Kamek and his doppelgangers. The latter risked themselves more, as 4 red hued ones swooped in and started flying around Ten Piedad while pelting it with magical blasts. The monster’s incredible reach meant that it gave a lot better than it got, though. Their ranged firepower was joined by a swarm of lighting bugs launched by Rika, and a bolt of lightning fired from the tip of her Ichor Queen striker’s massive blade, both attempts to follow up on Nadia’s soaking of their foe. Unfortunately the latter missed, and while the former hit, the feral had already used up the Wet status she applied to cause Electro-charged, making the lightning bugs no stronger than normal.

Kamek himself meanwhile turned his magic to support, wrapping Jr in an amber sphere of protection that would reduce any physical damage the prince’s large form would take to but a fifth of what it would have been. He did so just in time, as the prince went charging in a moment later to try and sink his sharpened teeth into one of the titan’s arms inorder to steal its hp and restrict its movements for a moment.

He was joined in this by Bowser, who, having ‘won’ the plant war, now went on the offensive, forming grappling roots that tried to intertwine with the ones on their towering foe’s feet to trip up their movement. At the same time he deployed two cruel cannons and unleashed a supersonic bombardment to try and confuse Ten Piedad for good measure. Ten Piedad was nothing if not stubborn, though, and in a way it already seemed confused. It threw its weight around with nigh-unstoppable might, overpowering Junior and dragging him around while the roots only slowed it down. However, Junior’s weight on the arm already carved into by Artorias put extra stress on the remaining material. Any more and it might very well snap off.

It seemed like the elemental attacks had some effect on Ten Piedad, but only after several of them had combined in a volatile way. Was the creature resistant to magic as well? Primrose could certainly keep using her pyromancy, but she could also leave the fire to the Seekers' newest addition. When she attacked next it was to add to the magical bombardment with another spell entirely.

First she had to make it through the monster's frenzied attacks. She leveraged her dexterity to avoid most of its wild swings and the thorny vines it summoned. They were quicker than she'd expected, but at least she ended up with cuts instead of impalement. Then her hands lit up, not with flames but silvery moonlight. Her entire body followed suit when she used up one of her battle points to further increase her magic power.

"Luna!" Glittery moons shaped by the spell converged on the monster. As that glittering moonlight blast cut not just through Ten Piedad’s magical resistance, a very muffled scream issued from inside its torso. For a moment the monster spasmed.

As all this was going on, Therion's striker had just enough time left to roll in and try to stab Ten Piedad in melee range before it was knocked away and disappeared.

Around the same time Therion himself slunk into the large room proper. He stuck to the walls and darker areas, avoiding the monster's attention and keeping out of the way of its vine attacks. With so many allies giving it their all, and the monster itself on the offensive, it was difficult to find an opening for himself to get in close. So he watched and waited. When he got the chance, he could at least try and soften the thing up for the others. And as he watched and waited, he spotted something odd. Another one of those paper butterflies fluttered around one of the nondescript, candle-festooned altars at the periphery of the fight. He’d seen enough of them in Mercy Dreams that it almost didn’t register, but in here it was the only one, and this one fluttered weakly on torn wings. He knew those things had information written on them - and it was possible that there being one monster and one butterfly in the same room wasn't a coincidence. On the edge of the battlefield the thief made a beeline towards it to snatch it up and see what it read.

Sectonia meanwhile changed her tactics from her rings of light or axes, to try the whole fire thing and electric thing the others were trying. They seemed to elicit some kind of reaction when the creature was hit by them, so Sectonia teleported above it to rain some lightning and fireballs over it before retreating to see what effect it had. Naturally, the wooden demon burned better than it got shocked.

Grounded once again, Nadia quickly learned not to waste any energy or resources on big attacks that her disoriented state might cause to miss. Instead she played a noncommittal hit-and-run game, dashing in for a couple chops with her boxcutters and then hightailing it away from Ten Piedad’s crushing blows whether she connected or not. Although the nightmare flinched for almost nothing, the Seekers’ efforts seemed to be having an effect, especially heavy slash damage and fire damage. She could see a couple cracks across its torso, some with small holes deep enough that she couldn’t see anything but darkness inside. The problem was that Ten Piedad didn’t behave like something alive that felt pain or needed vital organs. It was more like wood animated by some mystical force. But Nadia could swear she heard a voice from inside it, and Primrose’s magic actually got a reaction. So what was this creature’s deal?

When the monster lifted its leg and brought it down for a massive stop, sending a line of thorny vines racing across the floor, Nadia dropped her boxcutters and rushed in. “Grub’s up!” She hurled Athame, which thudded into Ten Piedad’s rib cage and lowered its defense, then jumped up. Without thinking she transformed her right arm with Fluffy Soft, swelling it into the striped limb of a white tiger with a paw as big as her head and kukri-sized claws. “It’s a rib dinner!” Her big swipe ripped out a bunch of wooden chunks, but beneath she could see nothing but petrified flesh. “Tch!” she snarled, landing the next moment. Ten Piedad chased her off with a much bigger, much more dangerous swipe. “Looks like I’m a ‘shallow’ person after all,” she griped. When she pulled out her Free Lemonade, she found it magically refilled, and splashed it on Ten Piedad to do slight damage over time.

At this point the group's other thief actually entered the thick of battle, if only to deliver some information. In light of it, he wasn't sure that his debuffing would have any real effect anyway. Therion weaved through the vines that erupted and spread out, stopping when he was in a close enough position that most of the Seekers would be able to hear him.

"There's someone inside of it," he told the others. He was confident that was the case. He still had the unfolded paper moth in his hand and its contents, like that of a prisoner's firsthand account, explained the noises that his sensitive ears had been picking up. The faint, muted sounds of pain that had seemed like they were coming from the monster, but not from the monster itself.

"Like a mecha?" she suggested, using the term Jesse had used in regards to a smaller entity controlling a larger one. The look Therion threw her clearly said he had no idea what that was. Regardless, now she definitely knew what to do. She could use her Vengeful Spirit or continue to cast Luna to get through the outer shell. She prepared to do the latter.

"They could be trapped," Therion warned before she cast. This he had no basis for besides the writing, but given everything he'd seen in the prison so far, he wouldn't be surprised if this was some other, extremely unique kind of torture device. He didn’t make any suggestion to free that person; they were probably just yet another unfortunate stuck here, but if anyone else was so inclined and actually had any ideas for how to go about doing that, he’d help out.

Primrose had no such ideas. "Noted," she said, and conjured another round of moons.

Having a potential weakpoint exposed, Sectonia wasn’t as worried about there being someone ‘trapped’ inside this creature, in her eyes it was the thing inside piloting this thing. And seeing its super high defense, she had to start using something that got around that. She had a spell just for that, and started throwing her void globules at the creature, the dark energy bypassing its resistances much like the moonlight did beforehand. Being assaulted by both light and void probably wasn’t too comfortable for it.

The Troop members were not exactly sure what they could do about the person within either, particularly given they had been beaten back in each attempted assault. Kamek’s doppelgangers were down, Jr had been hurled clear of the fight despite his damage resistance, and Bowser had uprooted and backed off to avoid being stomped on. They were also rather lacking in coordination, which is why Jr proceeded to group up with and then drop out of his Beast transformation to strategize.

A strategy that mostly boiled down to ”Burn it!” which in hindsight should have been the obvious strategy vs a plant monster, but a desire to try out new tricks had been rather suppressed. Fortunately they had plenty of firepower in their back pockets to pull out now.

Kamek switched to furling blasts using his Fire Materia, while alongside him jr used a combination of his paintbrush and his Ferromancy to form and then fire burning goop coated spikes at the towering tree.

As they did this, Bowser and Rika closed in again. The ship girl made use of the same burning goop that Jr was, but fired at a much more rapid rate from her grizco blaster, at the cost of having to get in close, meaning she had to also focus on dodging and throwing out blocking strikers to avoid getting smashed. All she wanted/needed was to fire 8 however, at which point her all out assault kicked in and hammered their foe with a rapid fire spread shot wave.

Bowser was right there with her, coated in defensive vines thanks to a heal from jr, and had a much more straightforward way of bringing the flame. Fire breath. Admittedly there was a slight increase in complexity, namely that he summoned his trowlon striker, and had it float him to and fro evasive while he focused on burning down the tree, as well as blasting it with armor melting acid from his shoulder cannons while he was at it.

While the beast was pelted with either flame or sword the Koopa Troop seemed to fair just fine without the need for Osvald's magic “So that's what could be making that noise…” the scholar muttered under his breath overhearing the dancer and thief's conversation.

The plume upon Artorias’ helmet whisked this way and that, breathing heavily as he crouched low. The knight's attention solely focused upon the enemy, Artorias ignored the words of those around him. Drawing in one last sharp breath, he filled his lungs. Muscles tensing as the Wolf Knight pushed himself off the ground with a beast like roar, the knight leapt into the air raising his weapon as he went down to strike a deadly blow. If his crushing weight didn't somehow make the creature fall then the length of his blade as it plunged through the Ten Piedad’s body surely would.

By the time Artorias mustered up his ferocious might for a final effort, his strength was practically overkill. At this point, Ten Piedad was missing most of one of its arms, and its wooden flesh -already carved into and gouged in a dozen places- was charred black by the abundance of fire the Seekers inundated it with. His greatsword pierced through the nightmare’s torso, sinking up to the hilt and protruding from the other side. Ten Piedad froze, its back arched. It convulsed once, coughing up a lot of blood, and as more began to seep from the deepest holes in its torso it slowly turned toward the kneeling statue. It took one staggering step, then fell, its one remaining hand outstretched in a final plea for mercy.

“Whew, there we go. Now that’s what I call an unpleasantree.” Nadia let out her pent-up breath, relaxing her shoulders and stance somewhat. Yet she didn’t ease up completely. Though she watched the giant corpse rapidly age and crumble away for a moment, she turned her narrowed eyes around the shadowy room, searching. “Well, take a breather while you can, guys. ‘Cause that felt just a little too easy.”

Therion approached the corpse while it rapidly cooled and disintegrated. He was looking for the sign that this was the prison's boss, something like that item they were sent here to fetch in the first place. So far, the only thing he saw was the monster's spirit - one single spirit. He'd probably never really know if he was right and there had been someone stuck inside of it, but in the grand scheme of things he supposed it didn't matter either way.

He did get the feeling that Ms. Fortune was right, especially because as he sifted through the ashes he found nothing besides the spirit. No keys popped out like when they'd defeated the zombie jailers outside, and no mask fragment fell for the Seekers to claim.

"Yeah. Plus there's nothing here, it didn't drop anything."

”Seriously? After all that? Uuuuurgh” came a whining from jr, and although the other troop members where a little less high pitched in their complaints there was certainly a fair bit of frustrated grumbling to be had.

”Hmm… Or this could just be a magical construct like my Antlers, possibly by the boss itself.” Sectonia pointed out, noting the lack of a spirit.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by TruthHurts22
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Midgar was a far cry from the mean streets of Kamurocho.

He won't ever see the city again, yet there's no way he could forget it. Bright lights, dense streets, the smells... he'd probably want to forget the smells, on second thought. Still, Kamurocho was a place steeped into his bones, and while you could describe Midgar the same way, it paled in comparison to the history Kiryu had. Even on this chaotic night in this gigantic city, it was like water off a duck's back.

Of course, it was hard to be too invested when he wasn't even sure why he was here.

He stood at a quiet corner of an alleyway that looked out onto a main road right past one of the city's checkpoints, not too far from the district on lockdown, half-burned cigarette between his fingers. Just like any other time his leash was given slack, Kiryu had been briefed on his mission, though unlike those other times his handler had been sparse on the details. 'You're posing as an member of Midgar's General Affairs organization. Nobody should question your presence so long as you don't draw suspicion. Once you're in the city walls, you're to await further instruction.'

Talk about vague and ominous. Given the state the city was in now, between the insurgence of supernatural monsters and the rising coup, clearly he was here to be a pawn, but on which side? What play was Daidoji trying to make here?

Kiryu took a drag. Staring at the checkpoint gate, something tugged at the back of his mind. The idea of these so-called "monsters". With it came a strange feeling, one deep enough to be hard to grasp. It couldn't be fear. Excitement? He hoped he hadn't been secluded for so long that he developed a bloodlust. Something was nagging at him.

His watch beeped once, drawing him away from further introspection. It was nearing rendezvous time. He'd been in Midgar for the better part of the evening, yet still hadn't been reached out to. Until he was contacted by Daidoji again, he was at the mercy of General Affairs and its schedule. Time to collect its agents for the night, or something along those lines.

With a heavy breath Kiryu snuffed his cigarette out and dashed it under his heel. It would be pretty shameful if his cover was blown because he took too long for a smoke. Questions still filling his head, the man known as Joryu walked off, keeping from the lingering crowds as he made his way to meet General Affairs. At the very least, he'll have some answers in the morning.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
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Midgar - a New Dawn

Level 6 Goldlewis (105/60) Level 4 Sandalphon (70/40)
Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Blazermate, Roland, and Susie’s @Archmage MC, Sakura and Karin’s @Zoey Boey, Geralt and Zenkichi’s @Multi_Media_Man, Roxas’ @Double, Raz’s @Truthhurts22, Pit’s @Yankee
Word Count: 1880

Nights were never quiet in Midgar. Dusk ushered in the end of the day’s work for some, but for others it heralded their shifts’ beginning. Countless electric lamps turned the shadowy streets a warm yellow, while the city’s mako reactors sent plumes of ghostly luminescence into the city, bathing the metropolis and the undersides of the clouds above in a pervasive green glow, all lighting the way for the many people who made the night their home. Cars rolled, trains rattled, services were rendered, and deals were struck. At the moment, though, it seemed quieter throughout the sleepless city, and though Midgar knew well the ravages of the Ever Crisis, tonight was even more restless than usual. The authorities stalked the boulevards, watchful and jumpy. Civilians double-locked their doors, sealed shut their windows, and held their loved ones -plus any weapons- close.

In the City of Glass, the last fires on Vandelay Campus had been put out a while ago, but whether the gigantic facility would ever operate again was up in the air. Many of the plants, built with a focus on impressive visuals over practical, intelligent design, had barely kept it together to begin with; when the dust settled from DespoRHado’s invasion, there were so many hopeless breakdowns and bottlenecks in the production lines that starting over seemed like a better idea than trying to sort it all out. Still, things weren’t quite over on the Vandelay Campus. Though Zanzo perished and Korsica defected, Rekka, Roquefort, and Kale himself all remained, licking their wounds as they tried to salvage the situation.

With R&D masterless, its engineers could work on their own for once, and nobody worked harder than Tora. Ever since arriving in the morning, the brokenhearted Nopon had toiled away, barely stopping to eat until he could work no more. Without any of the materials he’d used on Alrest, and very few of the tools, he’d been forced to seek alternatives. Luckily R&D had a lot to offer, and both Mayer and Macaron put everything they had into helping the little guy. By the end of the night, their efforts were rewarded. A new Poppi Alpha had been built, complete with the same kind of synthetic skin Macaron used on his own cybernetics, and Mayer wove together synthetic fibers to create Poppi’s iconic beret and ribbons. Yet the closer they got, the more Tora felt frustrated. It wasn’t just that the materials and resulting parts weren’t the same–try as he might, he just couldn’t remember every exact detail. Worst of all, he knew he could never recreate the Ether Furnace that was the core of Poppi’s body, forcing him to use a high-output Vandelay robot core. When he finally put down his wrench for the night, he found himself staring at a ‘Poppi’ very much like the one he remembered, but not quite right. His Poppi was still out there in the Valley of Ruin. The logic virus had corrupted her body, moving it against her will, but it could never take away that certain something that made her more than just a machine. Once Tora got that, then his Poppi would live again. Until then, this ‘Poppi’ was just an empty shell.

Still, that did not stop him from falling asleep in ‘her’ arms.

In Suoh, the atmosphere was uneasy. Not because of the Other deluge, since Suoh had weathered made before and would weather many more, but because of that high-profile broadcast. The idea that Karen Travers, Septentrion First Class and the most powerful psionic in Midgar, would rebel against the government was unsettling enough, but the content of his message had been the real kicker. Who could the people trust? Already, those with the power to decide for themselves were in motion. Before the night was over, just over fifty percent of Psych-OSF would defect, fleeing Suoh with or without their families. Some wound up in Seiran, others further afield. Conflict was and would be inevitable, but for now most of the rebels fled without issue. They were the watchmen, after all, and if they had watchers, their watchers were looking elsewhere.

In Quarantine Valley, the arrival of Neuron had spelled the end for the redshift cascade. The anomaly had already been losing momentum by the time Midgar’s finest arrived, and despite trouble on the homefront, the dispatched officers bent all their efforts toward resolving the matter. Their x-batons allowed them to strike down aberrations and gates alike, fighting alongside natives like Kyle, Mudrock, Mudtooth, and Wind Chimes to keep the men, women, and children of Zone 09 safe beyond the corruption’s reach. At the forefront, each legionis fought against the chimeras with the aid of their legions. Jin Wong, Alicia Lopez, and Maximillian Howard even competed to see who could rack up the most chimera kills for a time, but when the Neuron operator Olive reached out to Captain Howard with bad news, the old warrior departed for Veles straight away. There, he found the task force’s headquarters in a state of disarray, the helipad barely intact enough to receive incoming vehicles. Down on the ground, Reunion had been routed after Jena’s demise, but not without a lot of casualties. Both of his children were MIA, and when Howard contacted Neuron’s leader, Consul Y had nothing for him but new orders: to find and arrest the crew who’d made an attempt on his life earlier that night.

Eventually, everyone who’d been stirred to action by the day’s events found some semblance of rest. Whether it be the Seekers in the SOU headquarters, Goldlewis in his solitary apartment, the teens in their hidden Suoh sanctuary, or Uppers in their cargo container houses. Defenders of the Sector 07 slums like Cloud, Tifa, and Clara drifted off in the shelter of Stargazer Heights, and the Yorha androids entered rest mode in the generous accommodations offered by the Lateran Church where Sandalphon sent them. If any of them couldn’t sleep in the pitch-black early hours of the morning, however, and ventured outside for a breath of fresh air, they might see a curious sight. Countless tiny lights, a distant but brilliant blue, swarming outside Midgar like fireflies. Whether in the Valley of Ruin or around Kunad Highway, they shone and propagated in a strange ethereal dance, until finally they too disappeared.

A short time after dawn, the elevator in the hallway of the SOU building’s sixth floor opened with a ding, and Sandalphon stooped in order to step through, her halo softly clanking against the doorway. In one hand she held a large brown paper bag, its top folded over into a roll, and in the other she held a suitably gigantic coffee. It had originally been over thirty ounces of ice cold, pitch-black liquid, injected with far too many squirts of sugary flavoring and then covered with a massive dollop of whipped cream drizzled with the archangel’s favorite food, honey. She’d drunk half of it just getting back here from the coffee shop, and though her face betrayed nothing, her eyes were bright. She strode toward the main meeting room, and upon entering, she found Goldlewis already there. The movement near the hall made him look her way, so she nodded her head in greeting. “Good morning.”

“Good…morning.” At the sight of Sandalphon, Goldlewis raised his eyebrow. Probably for the same reason, neither had shown up today in their original outfits, but there were slight differences. The veteran’s new getup was almost just like his original garb, albeit less tattered, torn up, and bloodstained. His suit was also blue, worn over a white shirt with a black tie. Meanwhile, Sandalphon was still wearing her original coat and shoes, but after freshening up prior to her errand she’d clearly helped herself to the free formal wear in the office closet. There was just one problem: even the largest set was far too small for a woman of her height and proportions. She hadn’t let that stop her, however. Somehow she’d squeezed herself into a collared white office shirt that hung just below her chest, with sleeves that went down as far as her elbows, and black pants tight to the point of straining that barely passed her knees. She’d taken several belts as well, wearing two around her waist, one to keep her shirt in place, and one around each thigh. To anyone else that might have seemed excessive, but outfits with lots of belts were common in the veteran’s world, too. Sandalphon’s black tie completed an ensemble that left her pale midriff almost completely exposed, and Goldlewis momentarily stumped.

“I brought some food for everyone. Hopefully it will be enough.” Sandalphon unrolled the bag and brought out a box of muffins, including blueberry, pumpkin cream cheese, banana nut, and so forth. She also brought out two handfuls of honey packets, presumably for use as condiments. She then stared at Goldlewis, her pupils turned to question marks. “Hungry?”

The smell made up the veteran’s mind for him. “Starvin’.” He scooted his chair back to get up, but after noting which muffin he was looking at, Sandalphon brought it to him instead. He sat back down, scratching his head. “Awful nice o’ ya, ma’am.”

“It’s nothing,” she said. “I was initially concerned that my early arrival might be imposition on the staff at the cafe, but they turned out to be very hospitable.”

“Can’t imagine why,” Goldlewis muttered before taking a bite.

Sandalphon continued as she seated herself. “One man almost fell as he rushed to help me, in fact. While his excessive haste almost resulted in disaster, I can definitely applaud such dedication to efficiency.” She conjured a screen, which she monitored as she carefully took a honey packet and opened it in a single deft movement. Then she began to eat the honey. “Mm.”

As he chewed, Goldlewis furrowed his brows, but only once he swallowed did he begin to speak. “Beggin’ your pardon, but…aren’t ya gonna spread that stuff on somethin’?”

“No need. Honey is packed with nutrients and can be used in any dish. It is nature's perfect material,” Sandalphon told him, her pupils in the shape of hearts.

“...Er, well. Can’t argue with ya there.” Goldlewis couldn’t help but laugh to himself at the ridiculousness of a conversation on the morning of such an important battle, which neither he nor Sandalphon had even remotely touched on. Given how many steps ahead she seemed to be, the veteran wouldn’t put it past her to avoid the subject on purpose to defuse tension.

Soon after, the reason for Luka’s apparent absence resolved itself, as the young man teleported onto the helipad outside with both Raz and Roxas. “Whew!” he gasped, sinking to the ground. “That…was a lot of jumps!” Given the distance involved, and the inherent risk of teleporting, he’d jumped through hoops to reunite the two with their team. “There’s something going on with the OSF,” he relayed between breaths. “Yuito, Hanabi, Lili…they’re meeting Gemma, Nagi, and the others. I’ve gotta go with them…once I get my strength back. Once we figure out what’s going on, we’ll back you up!” He hung his head for a moment, steadying his breathing. “I…I couldn’t have taken everyone, anyway. But at least you’re all back together!” With a little help he made his way to the meeting table, where he happily tucked into one of the muffins. “Oh, you’re a lifesaver.”

Eventually, the other Seekers all gathered in the meeting room, much like many of them had several days ago. The team had seen some big changes since then, but everyone was ready. This would be the first Guardian that Goldlewis faced, but to others this was just another day of being a hero, nothing serious. So in this brief calm before the storm, they ate, drank, and spoke in piece. Giovanna was among the last to arrive. “Ooh, muffins,” she observed, taking a big bite she washed down with the last of the coffee from the machine. Just as Sandalphon seemed to be taking a page from Gio in the fashion department, Gio took one from Goldlewis, in that she’d exchanged her attire for a near-identical getup, though hers was a fetching khaki and red. After a few munches, she looked around the room. “So, we gonna go kill this Guardian thing, or what?”

Sandalphon nodded. “Yes. Before we do, though, there are a few things I should bring to everyone’s attention.”

After draining the last of her coffee, and wiping foam from her lips with a napkin, Sandalphon stood and cast her arms wide to summon a huge, jumbled array of divine screens. They worked together to display a single stitched-together image: that of a gigantic cherry blossom tree, vivid pink in full bloom as it towered over a tangled mess of roads. “This was the landmark tree yesterday.” Then the image changed, becoming a dead, gray, wizened husk, the roads around it carpeted with fallen petals. “This is the tree right now.” Next, she displayed an image of the Valley of Ruin. As those who’d ventured there had seen, it was a fallen metropolis completely reclaimed by nature, filled with grass, huge trees, and thick, healthy roots. When she showed the current view, however, it looked bleak and desolate, a lifeless expanse of gray wreckage and dead wood.

“This happened at some point during the night. I believe these to be the culprits.” On her screens appeared a number of strange, insectoid drones. To Pit, Zenkichi, Susie, Blazermate, and Giovanna, who sat up straight suddenly, these machines were still fresh in the mind. “YoRHa unit 2B captured one and brought it to Vandelay Industries early this morning. Mr. Macaron was kind enough to put in some overtime and discern its function. They are magitech, unlike the technology of Midgar but rather like the technology of my own world, and they are built to siphon something from living things. The full extraction of which seems to be fatal.”

Giovanna nodded, an unusually serious look on her face. “That’s what happened to those guys who went into the Valley with us. I’ve seen them before, but never so many…”

“If they could do that to those plants in one night, I don’t even wanna know what they could do to Midgar,” Goldlewis ventured, his hands clasped in front of his mouth pensively. “You got anythin’ else? Why’s this happenin’?”

For a moment, Sandalphon was silent. “...Soon after awakening this morning, I dispatched 9S with a flight unit to patrol around Midgar. Since then, I have received intermittent reports about activity in the Sector 06, 07, and 08 undercities. Panic, preparation, and emergency protocols. Twenty minutes ago, while I was getting coffee, 9S reported that his scanners picked up a large enemy force approaching from the Valley of Ruin. Several times larger than the force in the battle against DespoRHado that I oversaw two days prior, and composed of higher grade units. For whatever reason, I believe the Machines are making an all-out assault on Midgar. If my calculations are correct, they will arrive within one hour.”

“After the thrashing we gave ‘em the other day?” Giovanna asked in disbelief.

“Shit. You ain’t kiddin’, are you? Shit, shit, shit!” Goldlewis fumed. “Right after Vandelay and DespoRHado beat the tar outta one another, Neuron got gutted, and Karen split the OSF in half. It’s the goddamn perfect storm. What’re we gonna do?”

“What you were already going to do.” A harsh, unfamiliar woman’s voice issued from a dark gateway that manifested in the room. From inside, a hooded figure in black robes stepped.

Goldlewis stood reflexively, tense and ready to take action against the surprise intruder, but he realized that he recognized that voice. “Wait…you again?”

She nodded. “Yeah, I’m Xatow. I met you on my return flight to Midgar. I’ve been hiding in the Valley of Ruin until now, unable to enter Midgar lest I be found out and hunted down. But now I have no choice, so listen up.” Xatow crossed her arms. “Your enemy’s name is Nox. He’s gonna attack the city, but killing people isn’t what he wants. His goal is the same as yours: the ‘source’. Midgar’s Guardian. So you, o Seekers of Light, better haul ass. Nox is coming, and he’s gonna have to fight through a lot of people, not to mention a bunch of your friends, but if they can’t stop him, and if he reaches the Guardian before you do, your goose is cooked. Got it?”

As he reeled, flabbergasted, Sandalphon was already in motion. Her screens disappeared, and she picked up her new rifle from where she left it and inspected it to get a grasp of its workings. “Since this timing cannot be coincidence, I assume this Nox is the mastermind behind at least some of what has befallen Midgar as of late. I don’t imagine he’s working alone.”

Xatow shook her head. “Something like this takes friends on the inside. So watch your backs out there.” She looked around at everyone imploringly. “And get moving, will you? If you all get killed, I’m gonna have to find some new heroes.”

Goldlewis huffed, indignant. “Don’t count your chickens before they've hatched there, hoss. I reckon these heroes’ll get the job done just fine.” He took a deep breath and lifted up his coffin. “Well, this is a helluva thing to wake up to. At least we got ourselves a darn good head start.” He began to make his way toward Midna’s twilight portal. “Let’s mosey.”

For everyone but Sakura, Pit, and Midna herself, the subterranean interior of Midgar’s city computer Arahabaki was a brand-new sight. The grandeur of this immense, bizarre, highly artificial amalgam of advanced technology and Shinto aesthetic was awe-inspiring, but the Seekers didn’t have time to look. Thanks to their method of travel, the Twilight Princess needed to facilitate each journey through the shadowy realm, so getting everyone here was a step-by-step process. As a result, the new arrivals couldn’t possibly hide outside of the cameras’ gaze forever, and all too soon Arahabaki’s internal security systems picked them up. An alarm resounded through the enormous space, and as soon as they were all present and accounted for, the Seekers got moving.

Rifle in hand and coat streaming behind her, Sandalphon hurried along toward the rear of the pack, while the thundering steps of Goldlewis led the charge. Since the only way off of this ornamental overlook was the teleporter pad that shone and hummed on its ceremonial dias, the Seekers charged into it one by one, not sure where it would take them but sure that they’d do whatever it’d take to finish what they had started.
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by DracoLunaris
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DracoLunaris Multiverse tourist

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

wordcount: 762 (+2)
Midna: level 9 EXP: //////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// (54/100)
Location: S.O.U. hideout -> Arahabaki
Warp Charges: 1

The morning found Midna draped over the arms of one of the meeting room chairs in what was most certainly not a comfortable manner, but it was at least one that amused her. With their plan being to break into Shinra, and a warrant out for her arrest already anyway, the princess had given up on wearing any blending in clothing. It always got wrecked about half way through the day anyway, and as today was even less likely to be an exception than normal, she simply couldn't be bothered playing dress up.

The princess with nothing left to hide did however abandon her lounging when a delivery of muffins arrived, sitting up straight as she used her shadow hand to acquire a few of the sweet treats. She had a double chocolate one herself, which she found decadently delightful, while her flygon got a pumpkin muffin, and her wolfos a carrot cake one. The pokemon unwrapped its own muffin in its claws and politely nibbled away at it, while the wolfos simply scarfed down its meal within seconds. Plenty of honey was used as well, though in a more civilized muffin glazing fashion than the crass packet consumption (though admittedly she only caught onto this bit of culture after Goldlewis gave Sandalphon an odd look for doing so).

Sugar and starch consumed, the princess was raring to go, but before that they had a few bits of news to sit through, namely a one two punch of bad news delivered by Sandalphon and a surprise visiting Organization 13 member regarding the sucking of the life from outside of the city, an imminent invasion of it by a far more dangerous robotic army headed by a person called Nox.

”Well, I can’t say I didn’t see this coming after we struck the Vandelay campus at the start of yesterday, but I didn’t realize just quite how bad it had gotten by the end of it” and they where, at least in part, to blame. Nearly every part of midgar’s defenses was crippled, and even worse ”now we’re going to hit the last faction still able to put up a fight”

True, the plan wasn’t to take down Shinra, but given that both they and Nox were aiming for the same target, those forces were going to be split between them, meaning the existential threat was going to have far less in its way than it would have. Still ”If the guardians that much of a big deal, then if we can seize its power and turning it on Nox now that he’s revealed himself, that’s at least one part of Midgar’s issues is dealt a serious blow”

It remained to be seen if what was left of the city after that would be able to withstand all the others. That was assuming they even won, because they didn’t exactly have a giant train mounted artillery cannon this time to deal with whatever lurked down in the heart of the city.

”Well, no time to waste, so we’ll just have to figure something out when we’re down there” she had to conclude, before making a mental note to keep an eye out for explosives. If all else failed, she’d bring the Shinra building down on top of the guardian.

Given that she was the one doing the transporting to said building, Minda made sure to get to the portal point first, particularly given the sheer number of people that were coming along this time.

”Alright, first 5” she said, holding out a hand for each, be they real, magical copies, or her hair based shadow hand, before adding instructions for those that remained ”and then make sure we’ve got another five ready for when I get back so we can do this quick. But leave space in-case we need to evacuate as well”

In the end it took three trips, and though nothing went wrong with the first batch, by the time the last 3 people had been transported, Shinra was onto them. Their only consolation was that ”At least they didn’t work out how we vanished last time” because it could have been entirely possible for someone to work out that they’d gone missing in-between the daycare and down here and to have posted a guard or two dozen to greet them.

Instead, they had a head start on whatever the response was going to be, and the princess wasted no time in racing to the front of the pack atop wolfos back, filling her long-sword full of electricity as she rode.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Double
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Double Hard-Boiled

Member Seen 2 hrs ago

Sector 07
S.O.U. Headquarters
Luka, Xatow, | @DracoLunaris Midna | @TruthHurts22 Raz | @Yankee Pit | @Zoey Boey Sakura & Karin | @Multi_Media_Man Geralt & Zenkichi | @Archmage MC Suzie, Blazermate & Roland | @Lugubrious Goldlewis & Sandalphon

Word Count: 1,261
Level 7 Roxas: 30/70
Exp: 3
NEW EXP Balance--- 33/70

When morning came, Roxas sat up on the sofa and rubbed his eyes in grogginess. He was only just then realizing that he had passed out there on the spot last night. But at least the exhaustion was gone now. The morning at the Sumeragi Hideout went by pretty quick. In fact Roxas really only had time to eat a single piece of toast and drink a small glass of orange juice before Luka appeared. He explained that he was there to take Roxas and Raz back to the other Seekers in Sector 07, and the three of them went on a convoluted series of teleports until they were eventually dropped off on the SOU Building’s helipad.

”Thanks for the lift.” Roxas told Luka as they arrived and regrouped with the Seekers. The place wasn’t exactly a home, but it was the closest thing the Seekers had to one in this massive city. Plus it was a relief to see that everyone made it back here no worse for wear. The last time he’d seen one half of the team was when the Seekers split up after the mission at Vandelay Campus. And so he was glad that Karin, Geralt, Blazermate and everyone were all doing okay. And it also looked like someone had brought muffins.

Roxas couldn’t help himself. He’d skipped eating last night and only ate that one piece of toast back at Yuito’s hideout. So he hungrily snagged one of the unclaimed muffins that still remained and scarfed it down. While he did, he overheard Sandalphon and Goldlewis talking. He watched Sandalphon summon some screens that she used to show everyone images of a landmark tree. Something had apparently damaged it during the night while they were all asleep. And the situation only got worse from there.

The Machines were about to launch what sounded like a full-blown invasion of the city. And as everyone pointed out, most of the strongest factions had now been crippled by some means or another over the last couple of days. Did that mean that the Seekers were partially responsible for this? And who exactly was the one behind the machines anyway? Roxas couldn’t remember if they had ever figured that out yet.

But then, that’s when she appeared. Her voice was harsh and unfamiliar. But the black coat and portal of darkness she entered from were unmistakable, ”YOU!” Roxas cried, having to fight the urge to attack her on the spot. But the Nobody, whoever she was, explained a bit more about the situation - including providing the name of someone who she claimed was behind the attacks. How she knew this and whether or not she could be trusted was another matter, entirely.

When Goldlewis suggested they all get moving, Roxas appeared to be the only one who remained where he was. He was standing there staring at the hooded woman with icy-cold daggers of pure hatred, ”I’m not going anywhere.” he declared in a tone that none of the Seekers had heard him use yet. Clearly this was something that in his mind took precedence over even the crisis in Midgar, ”Not until I get some answers out of her.” he added, pointing a gloved finger straight at Xatow to really hammer home who he viewed as his enemy here.

The Nobody crossed her arms. “You’re being pretty irrational right now.”

”Oh, I’m sorry.” Roxas retorted with some venomous sarcasm, ”Were you expecting me to treat the group responsible for ruining my life and the lives of my friends with open arms and hugs? Think again! So spill it.” Roxas demanded of the Organization member, ”Who’s giving you your orders? Xemnas? Xehanort? What’s your game in all this? And don’t give me some story about how you’re trying to help. I probably know the Organization better than you do, so mind games aren’t going to get you out of this.”

“Xehanort, of course,” Xatow replied bluntly, her tone disinterested and a little bit put-upon. “Our game is the endgame, kid. We need you guys to kill Galeem so that we can fix everything.” She tilted her head slightly. “You didn’t think that beating Galeem would just turn everything back to normal, right? Like the universe is a spring that Galeem stretched out, and letting go would just snap the worlds back into place?” She shook her head. “Get real. What’s done is done. Luckily, you’ve got us to get things moving again.”

He shouldn’t have been surprised by that answer. Yet for some reason, he was. So even here, in spite of everything Sora had to go through to put the bastard down for good… He was still managing to live on and continue scheming. Even just thinking about the man and remembering all the horrible things he did made Roxas' blood run cold, ”I’m curious,” Roxas mused, ”How much do you actually know about Xehanort? I’m willing to bet you don’t know much.” he said with a shake of his head, ”But I know just about everything there is to know about him. The stuff that matters at least. So if you expect me to just trust Xehanort at his word, then you couldn’t be more wrong.”

In fact, Roxas already had at least one idea about what Xehanort was actually planning to do. But that was something he would keep to himself for the time being, ”I’ll defeat Galeem, alright. But I will NOT be some pawn in whatever game Xehanort is playing. You can tell him that if he thinks he’s gonna play puppet master with people’s lives again, he’s got another thing coming. Because when I’m finished with Galeem? He’s next.”

Xatow’s gaze lingered on him for a moment before she spoke. He couldn’t see her face within the darkness of her hood, but it was easy to imagine a bored, half-lidded expression. As long as he did what he needed to in the short term, she could care about the future later. “Okay.” She nodded her head in the direction of Midna’s portal. “Better get to it then, kid.”

Roxas hardened his expression, ”This isn’t over.” he warned. But after that he finally relented and rescinded his earlier refusal to leave. By this time, Midna had already made two trips with her portal. That meant Roxas didn’t leave until he had joined the third and final group to be transported out.

”Sorry for the hold up.” he told Midna and the remaining Seekers, ”But I couldn’t just leave it. Not without trying to get some information out of her.”

After the transport had been done, Roxas looked around himself at the place he assumed was Arahabaki. Hard to imagine such a massive area existing underneath the city. He could only imagine how difficult and complicated the architecture had to be in order for this to even be feasible. But Midna was right. It looked like Shinra was more on to them, their presence down here seeming to be suspiciously higher than anticipated. But in the end, he wouldn’t let that stop him.

”Just get me to the door we’re looking for. he told the other Seekers, ”Doesn’t matter how tight they got it locked up. My Keyblade will open it, no problem.”
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Archmage MC
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Archmage MC

Member Seen 19 hrs ago


Robot Girls

With a bit of chat with Zenkichi.

Level 4 Roland - (16/40)
Level 12 Blazermate (Holding 3 level up) - (69/120)
Level 6 Susie - (28/60) - (Holding 3 level up)
Location: Sector 9
Word Count: 2092

Getting back after such a rough fight and getting some rest sounded good for Roland and the two bots. While Susie turned in early after checking her sales on her PDA, Blazermate often being one of the last asleep, even if she only did it to pass time, and Roland were still up and chatting a bit before they turned in.

Roland, going to Zenkichi the only other turk in the group, decided to unwind after the fight they just had in his way by commenting on what just happened. "Phew. Hey Zenkichi, that was one rough fight we just escaped from huh?" Roland said, having a more carefree sound to his voice now that he could relax.

Zenkichi turned to Roland, blinked for a moment, and nodded. "That it was. I feel bad for Penance, but...well, those Consul guys are bad news. Its crazy to hold back against them. I dont think anybody would really blame you, don't worry."

Roland figured this would come up and paused for a bit before saying. "Yeah... its never fun needing to do that. Back where I'm from, that sort of thing is either you break their will to fight, and thus the mind control, or its permanent and there is nothing to do but put them down." Roland then paused a bit thinking, before saying. "Well, there is M corp's stones that make you immune to that, and I wasn't aware we had anything like that until Penance got freed... " Zenkichi could tell Roland had a lot more experience with the whole Mind control and dealing with those under it than he was letting on though. "But besides that. What was with that whole turning into a bound angel thing? Was that something she could do, or some sort of corruption of redshift or something?"

Zenkichi thought about that, frowning a little. That sounded horrible. He'd have to try to explain the Friend Heart deal to Roland. He knew he got brought in pretty quickly, but that was an important bit of knowledge to have missed out on!

"Where I come from, it's...weird. A combo of mind control and emotional manipulation. To fight it, you basically have to enter the subconscious mind of the person, beat them into submission, and force them to face reality. It's really weird and kind of hard to explain?"

Moving on, he shrugged. "Anyway, what Giovanna did there is called a Friend Heart. Kind of on the nose, but I didn't name it, and it fits, so oh well. I'm not like 100% sure how it really works, but basically you reach down inside you, and...then you make a heart that breaks Galeem's control and heals someone. It's also weird and kind of hard to explain, but I think it just works. As for Jena...she definitely injected herself with more of that Blue Evolve crap, but I wonder why she didn't aberrate? Maybe she kept the good stuff for herself..."

"Ooh, is that something anyone can do? Would've been nice to know that, but thats that and this is this. I'll have to learn it before tomorrow if thats possible." Roland said, before getting reminded of something. "Or am I wrong and thats something only you guys can do? We can't do that where I'm from. Instead there is this weird thing called E.G.O., but I can tell you that and this aren't the same thing."

Roland then noted Zenkichi's experience with mind control, only saying. "That is a lot nicer than what I had to deal with." Roland said plainly and with a tinge of jealousy. "And yeah, I'd expect the drug kingpin to save the best stuff for themselves. But to do that to yourself, it really wasn't all that great. There are better ways to get stronger."

Oh, for sure, Jena was completely insane. I have no idea why she'd do that to herself, but it...it must have been bad. Whatever happened to her, I mean." Sighing, Zenkichi shook his head. "But you're right. That's that, and this is this. We can't save everyone, we just have to do our best to make it a world worth living in. Or, I guess, get as many people as we can back to their own worlds..."

Frowning, he just shrugged. "We still have no idea what'll even happen if we beat Galeem. Do we all just go back, does everything revert back to normal, or...do we just free everybody and is this the new world we gotta live in?"

Roland nodded sagely at Zenkichi agreeing with him. He knew he liked this guy the moment he saw him! Fixer life wasn't much different even in other worlds it seemed.

Then he asked the question of what would happen when Galeem was beaten, which is something Roland was told about and the cause of all of this. He shrugged himself, before giving a bit of a controversial take. "I'd prefer the latter if I can find my friends here. As dark and corrupt as Midgar seems to these guys, its way better than where I'm from. No worrying about the Night in the Backstreets, no worrying about people going missing because some psycho butcher wanted to turn them into pies, no Syndicates to extort the people of the backstreets, no Pianist.... Heck there is even room to get out of the bad spots of the city into the Nest... err good parts without needing sponsorship from a Wing. Not as much or even no random experiments from Wings testing singularities, no monsters on the streets besides what we just saw.... I do hope its the latter."

This little spark of hope, of being able to actually change things for once, of the cycle of the City being more or less broken or changed, was a new thing to Roland.

Zenkichi nodded a bit, unconvinced but understanding of why Roland would prefer not to return to his own world. "It sounds bad. My world...eh, it wasn't perfect, but it was a heck of a lot better than Midgar. Same corruption, though, just...less death, and a whole lot less monsters to deal with. None, in fact, unless you count the subconscious world things. Just plain boring old animals, and those don't really bother people much."

Zenkichi gave a wistful smile as he remembered his Japan. It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was his home, and he was hoping he'd get to see the fruits of his and the Thieves' labors if they ever got back there.

"Sounds like you grew up in a Nest where I'm from." Roland said, again with a bit of jealousy, but not as much as before. "Still, I suppose we wont know what happens until it does."

"We just call em countries. Or, cities? Depends on how big a Nest is, I guess." Zenkichi chuckled, shaking his head and shrugging. "But yeah. Until Galeem's done and dealt with, we got no clue how it's gonna end."

Roland could only agree with that, and getting on and a bit tired, he decided to try to get to bed. Blazermate only caught snippets of their conversation, but she did catch the part about Roland not knowing how to friend heart and regretting it, and as Roland was making his way to his room, she flew up to block him.

"Whoa! Whats the problem? Need something?" Roland said, taken aback by the sudden blazermate jumpscare.

"Oh, I just overheard your conversation with Zenkichi. You don't know how to friend heart? We've gotta fix that! Its super useful! It seems to override or heal basically EVERYTHING, although only once." Blazermate said. She then explained the whole thing with more direction and explanation than Zenkichi, having done it quite a few times. Roland could only tiredly roll his eyes at first, but it didn't take him long to learn how to do this trick with Blazermate's help. Although with how easy it was, that didn't make him feel all that much better.

"Oh... Well that was easy. Would've been nice to know this earlier." Roland said. Blazermate patted his shoulders, needing to fly to get there due to being 2/3rd of a meter shorter than Roland. "Don't worry, until you've been freed and fought a bunch, you actually can't do this right away. You probably unlocked how to do this after that huge fight we just had. We have a couple royals that had issues with this too for awhile." That indeed made Roland feel a bit better, and with a wave of his hand, he went to bed thanking the medabot for the help, both here and in that fight.


Being the robot she was, Blazermate was up when the first person to come down was up. While everything else was getting breakfast, seeing as Susie was the only repair person nearby, Blazermate went to her to get some tune ups before the fights today while Susie herself, having spent almost no time getting ready, was fully dressed and proper with a coffee cup in her hand. While she was a bit annoyed at first, she agreed and found that Blazermate was fairly simple to do fixes on. It was almost like she was made for a child to do repairs on her, which amused Susie for some reason. A battle robot that could fight horrible creatures at the control of a mere child, that must be quite a hectic world.

Roland came down a bit later than most, being a bit of a slow riser. While he ate the bagels and muffins in front of him, he was disappointed in the coffee that was brewed; Chesed had really ruined his taste for basic coffee with his fancy brews. He also looked at Sandalphon just eating honey like a bee, and could only look at her with a little bit of contempt, but amusement. "It feels wrong seeing someone eat only honey. You've gotta have something with it. Next time I'll make breakfast if we're still alive and show you that there are way better foods than just raw honey." Roland was a bit of a foodie, so seeing that was a bit appalling to him, but not to the extent of anything but "why".

Soon their objective for the day was explained, they had to stop the machine part of the evercrisis. Roland found it strange that a problem that had been causing them issues for months was being resolved in mere days by some strangers with superpoweres. If only that could happen in his world... But now wasn't the time to bellyache about that.

And to spurn them into action even more, a cloaked figure appeared and gave them some vague warnings that they were on a clock. Who was this person even? But considering how the rest were handling them, especially Roxas. Much like Roxas, Roland stayed behind to get a bit more info out of this cloaked figure that everyone seemed to be apprehensive about, but unlike Roxas, just stood and observed. And from what he could gather from the conversation, these Organization members would be his enemies. And from what Roxas seemed to talk about, they reminded him of the blue sicko's ensemble. Especially with such vague things as 'fixing the world'. That couldn't be good.

Blazermate had been one of the late leavers as well, but that was more so because Roxas had offered to pair off with her and she was waiting patiently at the portal. Susie had already stepped through with Goldweis, and Roland after following Roxas stepped in with Raz, while Blazermate went with Roxas. Before they all stepped through the portal though, Roland came up to Roxas and put a hand on his shoulder saying. "I don't like what those robed people are doing either. So your not alone there." and went through the portal with Raz. He'd still have to get used to this instant travel, but at least it wasn't as harsh as W corp's singularity.

When they got there, Roxas announced that once they found the door they were looking for, he could open it no problem. "Oh? You've got something from F corp? I had an... acquaintance that had that as well. Lets hope we don't run into her. She could be really bad news if we have to fight her." Little did Roland know Roxas' method of opening doors wasn't anything nearly as brutal as fairy.
Hidden 2 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by Zoey Boey
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Zoey Boey better than the alternative

Member Seen 1 hr ago

Sakura Level 10: 30/100
Karin Level 7: 01/70
Location: Arabahaki
Word Count: short
Points Gained: 1
New EXP Balance--- Sakura Level 10: 31/100
Karin Level 7: 02/70

”Thank you, Sandalphon-san!” Sakura said before popping a muffin into her mouth. Karin was self-reflective, pondering the battle to come. One way or the other, she knew they didn’t have much time. That they had a night of rest was a blessing in and of itself.

And their morning would indeed be cut short, as after the Seekers reunited, there was troubling news.

Sakura scratched her head. ”Thanks for the heads up, um, Xatow-san.” Sakura said to the lady in black. Really, she had nothing but good to neutral experiences with their mysterious benefactors. Though they seemed shady and cynical, they hadn’t betrayed them or anything. Maybe it was the way they had a tendency to act all mysterious and superior even though they weren’t actually doing any fighting, just standing around and watching and occasionally giving the Seekers intel. But, they were on even more of a timetable than they were before. Midgar was under attack by the villain, and to stop their plan they had to do what they were going to do, but, even faster.

”Alright, well, I wasn’t planning on standing around playing with a yoyo, anyway. I’m ready.” Sakura said, punching her palm. ”Let’s get the show on the road!” Thus, Sakura was one of the first people through the teleporter after a clap on the back from Karin.

Karin lingered, noting Roxas’ angered reaction. Whatever history he had with this organization, it wasn’t pleasant. Karin wasn’t entirely sure if she could trust them either, but being outwardly hostile had no benefits either. Fortunately, Roxas just wanted to give her a piece of his mind, which was more than fair. ”You know, Miss Xatow, a small amount of manners and sympathy can go a long way in diplomacy. We need each other, do we not?” She stepped through the portal.

On the other side, she regarded the large room. ”Impressive.”

”Right?” Sakura said. ”But it can’t be that big. I heard an echo. I bet we can find what we’re looking for no problem. It’s just, uh, all the security we’ll have to avoid, probably.” Sakura said.

Karin briefly turned her attention to Roxas. ”There’s nothing wrong with a healthy dose of skepticism, Mister Roxas.” She said. ”As long as your emotions aren’t clouding your judgment.”

”...And personally, I have no idea how to go about the business of repairing cosmic disorder.” She admitted. ”But if you believe that we would be just trading one tyrant for another, then we best be wary and prepared to continue the battle after our work with Galeem is done, yes?” Karin asked.

”Or perhaps prepare to build a new future, here, in a world that we make godless.” She muttered thoughtfully, casting her eyes upward to where the city of Midgar pressed down upon them.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Yankee
Avatar of Yankee

Yankee God of Typos

Member Seen 22 hrs ago

Word Count: 700 (+1 exp)
Level: 5 - Total EXP: 173/50
Location: Dystopiascape - Midgar

In the morning Pit was wide awake as soon as he'd opened his eyes, and when he arrived at the meeting room he was bright eyed and bushy tailed. After everything that had happened yesterday, the prospect of facing down Arahabaki's security and then its Guardian seemed almost a simple task. The crew they had were all smart, strong, and reliable. He was sure they were going to succeed. And as for himself? He was ready.

After greetings and breakfast, both of which Pit readily took part in, there was a debrief and some news. He gave his attention to Sandalphon, and when she brought up some images Pit blinked. Those were the same things they'd seen while fighting the machines! And also...

"They're the same kind that were around that big spider clock, I think." He remembered that the clock had been glowing with the same kind of blue energy as the bug-like drones. So they were harvesting... something, and bringing it back to the clock? Life essence or something else vital for living. That didn't bode well. Worse still, that machine army they'd faced down seemed to have recovered - and they were on the move. Even Pit quickly realized that there couldn't have been a worse timing for an invasion, when they'd dismantled many of Midgar's defense organizations.

The question of what do with that information was asked and answered in quick succession. Pit's first thoughts were to postpone their raid on Arahabaki. They couldn't just leave the citizens at the machine's mercy after all, right? It was then that a stranger appeared with a different opinion: to stay the course.

Right, 'cause once we beat the thing everyone in the area will be free, the angel reminded himself. Hopefully they'll stop fighting each other and start trying to solve the whole Ever Crisis thing!

Midna even pointed out that they might be able to make use of the guardian's power if they had to. It might be too much to ask that this "Nox" would have a change of heart once the anti-mind control wave washed over the area, but Pit could hope.

"So we've got a time limit. Break in, get to the boss, and beat it in before the machines get there? Timed missions are such a pain!" he said. Then he smiled reassuringly at the people gathered. "But we've got this!"

The angel wasted no time in getting through the portal with Midna, pausing only briefly at Roxas' declaration. The thought of staying behind to hear some of the answers the other boy wanted didn't even cross his mind - and he trusted Roxas would come with them whether he got them or not. So in he went, and suddenly he was back in the humid, giant computer. It was the same as it had been last night, save for the cameras all pointed their way and an alarm ringing out through the area.

"Busted already!" Oh well, Pit was pretty much an expert at fighting his way through an area. In fact an assault like this was pretty much his specialty! The angel bounced from one foot to the other, energized, while the Seekers finished assembling. It wouldn't be too much longer now. In the mean time, Pit glanced at Karin.

"It's gotta be easier than it sounds! The whole fixing "cosmic disorder" thing - it happens so often that it has to have some quick fix," he said. Not to mention there was a least one kind, good goddess out there that would be willing to help. No need to leave the mortals to fend for themselves.

And then Midna was through with shuttling the last of the Seekers in. Everyone was here - and it was go time. Pit dashed toward the target: the teleporter. It was small enough that by the time everyone got close they'd closed into a single file line. Though Pit had no idea where exactly it would lead to, he was sure that battle was in their future. It would be weird if this place didn't have any guards alerted by the alarm and on their way. He summoned the Palutena Bow to his hand while he leapt through.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by MULTI_MEDIA_MAN


Member Seen 1 day ago

Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Sector 7 SOU Headquarters

Lvl 12 Geralt (124/110) -> Lvl 12 (126/110)

Lvl 5 Zenkichi - (55/50) +2 collab XP -> Lvl 5 (57/50)

Word Count: 954 words

As the Seekers piled into the helicopter, Geralt made sure to find a spot where he wouldn't be too much in the way. This thing looked a bit more magical than the cargobob they'd been using before, but as long as it flew and got them back safely, it hardly mattered. The inevitable and bombastic destruction of Jena Apotheosis heralded the Alpha turning on the Seekers and giving chase. The massive airship followed doggedly, around and over the skyscrapers that Goldlewis took their chopper between, keeping them in its spotlights. It took flying through a massive block of skyscrapers with their own massive holes in them to finally shake their pursuer.

From there, it was much smoother to get to the SOU headquarters in Sector 7, and the Seekers piled in, tired and worn from the day's adventure. Geralt turned in immediately while Zenkichi went to speak with Akane.

In his room, the Witcher doffed his armor, piling it off to the side before heading to the showers, washing off the sweat and grime from the day. After heading back to his room, he sighed and sat down, entering his typical meditative stance. This had been...frustrating, in many ways. He lost control of himself a few times, between what happened to Peach, and the fight against the chimeras, he couldn't be taking risks like that. Not with other people's lives. It wasn't that he wasn't used to fighting with others, but between the Orphan's Spirit and the losses they'd taken, it wasn't as easy to just deal with it. Tora was gone as well, though that was to restore Poppi rather than anything else, but Peach was transformed and taken.

He sighed. Using the Orphan's Hateful Flesh certainly made it easier to accidentally catch his allies with a hit, but against chimeras there really was no other option. Pulling it at the start of the fight rather than ineffectually flailing with a sword certainly helped, but he wasn't used to the wide, sweeping attacks that weapon favored just yet. When he got more experience with it, he'd likely be better at avoiding friendly fire. Thoughts ordered, Geralt took a deep breath and stood, stretching slowly. It was time to sleep.

Zenkichi, after his talks with Roland and Sandalphon, retired to his own room to look himself over a little closer, examining the change to his looks brought on by the Spirit he'd fused with. It wasn't terrible, though he might have to find another suit later. Pulling out his phone, he sighed as he remembered the deal he and Karin had made with Roquefort. While he wasn't 100% certain he trusted the guy, it was worth a shot. Pulling up his e-mails, he punched in Roquefort's address that he'd grabbed from the business card he'd tossed to Karin, and starting writing.

Mr. Roquefort,

This is Zenkichi Hasegawa, one of the men you spoke with earlier today. I was reaching out to inquire about the wire transfer we'd discussed. The routing number for my bank account is 639264848257493. Thank you for being willing to reach an equitable solution to our problem. I wish you and Vandelay Industries a better tomorrow.

"Eh, good enough..." he muttered, sending the e-mail and putting his phone away for bed. Tomorrow marked their assault on Arahabaki. Whatever rest he could get would be needed.

Geralt entered the meeting room, seeing Sandalphon's new attire, and paused for a moment. "Nope." He blankly muttered and moved to the muffins, grabbing a packet of honey and smothering his chosen breakfast item with the sugary substance. "Mmm. Damn, that's good..." he sighed blissfully as he bit into the muffin, honey sticking in his beard.

Zenkichi came in right about that time, looking around the room with his mug of coffee in and taking a swig. "Mornin'. He drably greeted, taking a seat as the group gathered. After a little bit of waiting, Luka Travers and the other Psychic Kids appeared. He was glad they were okay. Once the group was all together, Sandalphon had some bad news to deliver: those life-sucking drones that attacked in the Valley of Ruin had come back and wreaked havoc. They were, also, decidedly not simple machines, but a blend of magic and technology into a horrifying blend of murderbot. "Well that's horrifying..." He breathed out, much more awake now. He remembered what those things did when they showed up in the Valley of Ruin. This was bad.

Worse still was the news that the Machines were now launching a full-scale attack on Midgar, coincidentally the day after the Seekers had completely dismantled the two organizations that stood ready to do battle against that very specific threat. "Chimeras, Others and Machines. All in two days? Can't be a coincidence." Geralt uttered darkly.

The revelations of the Organization member were met with disbelief by some, indifference by others as they were already going to kill the Guardian, and disdain by Roxas, who had his own history with the Organization. However, neither Geralt nor Zenkichi stuck around, both having been fairly indifferent to the announcement and more than ready to get on with it. Coincidentally, this meant that Zenkichi didn't get to hear her claiming that one of his worried was, in fact, true.

As they all arrived inside Arahabaki, Zenkichi let out a low whistle. "Damn, this place is nice. Wonder how much it cost to build? Must use up a lot of energy, too. Place is like its own town." The alarm burst their collective bubble pretty quickly, though, and the Seekers were off to the races. Or, more precisely, the teleporter that would bring them, presumably, further inside.

It was time.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Dark Cloud
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Dark Cloud 💀Vibin' beyond the Veil💀

Member Seen 6 hrs ago

Wordage: 315 (+1 points)
Experience: 14/40 EXP || 4/20 EXP
Location: The Under ➡ Prison of Hope

Artorias’ hands and arms ache after the momentum and strength that he displayed, though the only sign that betrayed his weariness was the heavy breathing that rattled the inside of the knights helmet.

Fortune favored him or by the grace of Gwyn wherever he was his loyal knight and blade didn't seem to falter in his vigor after the battle even with the damage the wooden creatures' violent thorny attacks inflicted. Artorias, grunting slung Finstertöter over one shoulder without a word.

Watching as the other Seekers forged ahead the knight opted to slump against a ruined pillar “Do things tend to always fade in such a manner?” the knight tilted his head towards the bored sounding voice of the scholar whose shaggy mane of hair fell over his face as he knelt where the Ten Piedad had been felled.

Hmph, yes.” the knight gruffly intoned seemingly in a less talkative mood than he usually seemed to be. Fine by me if the knight has no interest in the matter…But what is this? Osvald's eyebrow furrowed while the body of the Ten Piedad had left nothing but dust behind upon the floor an orb sat just floating a centimeter off the cracked stonework of the arenas floor.

Artorias though seemingly paying the scholars investigation no mind stepped over him easily and reached down scooping the spectral orb in his hand “A spirit as thy Seeker's seem to call them, ” trepidation filled the knight whose experience with the orbs left a sour taste in his mouth, hesitated to do anything with it worried it would overtly change him yet how could one become stronger without taking such a risk?

Ultimately he decided to thrust the Ten Piedad’s soul into his chest, demonstrating with actions rather than words how the souls of fallen enemies could be used.
Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Lugubrious
Avatar of Lugubrious

Lugubrious Makes the big edits

Member Seen 1 hr ago

Arahabaki - Big Money

Level 6 Goldlewis (128/60)
Susie’s @Archmage MC
Word Count: 2081

With the alarm sounded, Goldlewis knew that his time was limited. He wanted to think that Shinra would be too preoccupied with countermeasures for the imminent Machine invasion to dedicate anything more than a token force to the defense of Arahabaki, but if he’d learned anything over the last few days, it was just how heartless Midgar’s governing body could be. Now that Vandelay had been gutted, Neuron put on ice, and Psych-OSF split into halves, would Shinra really spread Peace Preservation and General affairs out to defend the city -especially the undercities, which would be the first in the Machines’ line of fire- or would they rather concentrate their remaining troops to protect their seat of power? Goldlewis felt dismally confident in his expectation that the Seekers would face much more than a skeleton crew.

He did not, however, expect the countermeasures to begin the moment he stepped into the teleporter.

“What in tarnation?” Though Goldlewis hadn’t been the first onto the teleport pad by any means, he found nobody else waiting for him when he arrived. He’d wound up on top of a module that towered above many of the others, looking out across the ceremonial artificial expanse without anyone else in sight. Confused, he continued searching until the exit pad behind him began to whir again, and a moment after he turned to look it flashed to deposit the diminutive android Susie alongside it. A moment later the device went dark, signaling that there would be no more new arrivals. “You? But where’s…?” He grit his teeth, an angry look spreading across his face as the reality of the situation dawned on him. “Dagnabbit, we’ve been hornswoggled. That teleporter doohickey musta been wired to split us up.” He headed to the edge of the platform, peering around the complicated, visually intense layout of Arahabaki’s interior. “So where in sam hill did the others wind up?”

Susie could only shrug, just as perplexed as Goldlewis. ”I assume different parts of the city. The question is if they are close by or in other sectors outright…”

After a moment, a little reassurance reached him by way of divine information. “Come in, everyone,” Sandalphon’s voice broadcasted through her personal network. “It appears that we tripped some sort of intrusion countermeasure and have been sent through a number of connected teleporter relays, effectively scattering us throughout Arahabaki. I am with Geralt, and we’re both unharmed. Please confirm your status ASAP.”

Glancing at Susie to make sure she wasn’t damaged at all, Goldlewis lifted his index and middle fingers to his ear to activate the glyph beside it. “I’m with Susie, everythin’s fine up here.”

Once everyone checked in, Sandalphon addressed them again. “We should be clear to proceed then. Use caution, and call on me if you need to. Halo out.”

Well, at least the others were all okay, even if that nasty little trick left them disunited. After giving his thoughts on the situation with a groaning sigh, Goldlewis turned to face Susie. Their mission in Quarantine Valley last night had been the first time they worked together since the Seekers arrived in Midgar, but they hadn’t really cooperated, so the veteran still knew relatively little about her and what she could do. He’d seen her Business Suit, though, so despite Susie’s small size he knew that she carried a big stick. “Well little miss, looks like we’re on our own for now,” he told her. “Still, between the two of us, we got some serious firepower up our sleeves. If we run into trouble, we’ll give ‘em the business, eh?”

”If they get in the way? Of course. I do hope they enjoy extermination by blaster <3.” Susie said in a cute voice, a bit gleeful to see what all of this would amount to.

The two ran into trouble almost right away, though not in the way Goldlewis expected. When the veteran and the money-minded machine made their way off the module they’d been sent to, stepped onto one of the many strange bridges connecting Arahabaki’s elevated modules. It featured a strange, grooved surface with grouped dots and bars, as if the whole thing was a giant, elaborate punch card, and a hazardous ‘railing’ that consisted of a single red rail suspended over both its sides. While it seemed stable, Goldlewis didn’t like it, and he jogged around its curved length as quickly as he could. After it straightened out, he could see it ramp up toward a module walled in like a feudal fortress at the end, but before that point the bridge ran between a pair of towers that seemed to serve as some sort kind of checkpoint, each home to an electronic shrine with holographic talismans hanging from their braided red cords.

More worryingly, he could see one bizarre creature on either side, each a surreal amalgam of metal objects, mannequin parts, brass instrumentation, and feminine footwear. “Hold up,” Goldlewis cautioned, his eyebrows shooting up. “Those are…Others!” Sure enough, the Base Paws quickly noticed the intruders. Rather than move, the living mortars began to fire off arcing blasts of boiling oil from their pipeline mouths. “Come on, now,” he groused. “What are doggone Others doin’ down here!?” Swinging his coffin around to use a shield, he picked up the pace.

Before he could worry too much about why (or how) Shinra would put brain-eating abominations down here for security, a new problem presented itself. Well before he reached the shrine checkpoint, the bridge beneath him began to move like a conveyor belt beneath him, carrying him backward. Off-balance, he stumbled and nearly fell, then jumped to the side to avoid an oil shot. In doing so, he saw the next one swerve mid-air toward him, which (being physically impossible) took him by surprise. He had to block it, which stopped his momentum completely, and the bridge casually conveyed him away from the oil-spouting others. “Damn it!” He could activate his Wall of Light, but with that barrier up he couldn’t move forward fast enough to outpace the rate he’d be sent backward.

Susie, at least, could fly. Being able to approach the Base Paws led to a discovery of her own, though. These Others were panicky, and the moment they got hit -or someone got close- their metal ‘skirts’ would slide down to shield their legs completely. Those legs, covered with bulbous red sacs, seemed to be their only weak spots, and if a Seeker stuck around them to try and pierce their defense they’d start dropping their explosive lanterns to set their attackers alight, especially if they were doused in oil. Still, making them hunker down had one benefit: they stopped shooting. Susie’s help was pivotal, since Goldlewis couldn’t use Burn it Down down here to drop a satellite laser on the stationary Others, and his weapons didn’t have enough range. Seeing this, Susie hovered behind them, shooting their exposed legs with her blaster and forcing them to be on guard, giving Goldlewis an easy approach as they would stop bombarding him, and instead go into their defensive position. When not under fire, Goldlewis could run (and more importantly, airdash) his way across the bridge to the checkpoint.

Once he reached it, he took a crack at a Base Paws with his coffin, but even that couldn’t break through its metal armor before the lanterns started falling. That gave him an idea, though, and after giving the Base Paws enough space to lower its guard, he charged back in. Strikes might not work against such a strong block, but a throw might. He grabbed hold of the metal lattice with both hands and mustered his strength. “GrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” With a great effort he pushed the monster over, and the impact with its canopy jarred loose both its defensive skirt and its lanterns, causing a chain explosion that softened it up. Then Goldlewis grabbed it by the legs and began to spin, swinging the monster around by the legs in order to chuck it off the shrine tower and onto the receding conveyor. The Base Paws landed with a huge crash, its canopy totally busted, and rolled away. Susie then followed up by taking some pot shots at it with her blaster, keeping it rolling away and teaching it a lesson.

Once he and Susie dealt with the bridge checkpoint, they entered the next stretch. Once again the conveyor began to move, pulling them backward. This time, something new quickly joined the mix: strange discs that slid out from slots on the far end of the bridge, then got conveyed toward the pair like a cookies in a factory line. To Goldlewis they looked like hubcaps, but as he watched them approach they beeped alarmingly, their lights blinking red. “Holy hell! Mines!” And with the upward ramp of the bridge, they’d be even harder to avoid. He turned tail and ran back to the start to avoid the first wave, then held back to try and get a sense of the pattern in which the mines were coming. Susie could hover above the mines and watch as they moved past, not being anywhere close enough to set them off. She could at least shoot a couple to give Goldlewis some room to breathe and space to jump, being able to hover near where they were being released and shoot them on occasion. Granted she couldn’t take them all out for fear of structural stability to the conveyor belt and for Goldlewis’ safety.

Goldlewis jumped and double jumped his way up the incline, panicking the whole time. One bad landing, one late jump, and it might be over. Twice he came too close to a mine and saved himself with Faultless Defense, negating the damage at the cost of getting guard crushed and sent back to the start. Realizing that his tension wouldn’t last forever, he breathed deep, then took a running jump and pulled off a Roman Cancel right at the start of his airdash. Doing so flung him most of the way, and a moment later he reached the end, sweating buckets and panting but still alive. “Guhh,” he grumbled. “I reckon that took a couple years off my life. I need better mobility, damn it…”

About the time the two entered the walled module, the security alert finally received its answer. High up on Arahabaki’s ceiling, panels opened, and mechanisms released large purple objects. They plummeted down toward the module array on Arahabaki’s floor, their falls slowed by jets of green flame from four angled thrusters. Seven in total, they descended toward platforms ahead of the intruding Seekers, where the Type-53 Squad Breaching Carapace touched down and slid open their lateral doors to deploy four emergency responders apiece.

As Goldlewis and Susie watched, a jacked robot decked out in militaristic cybernetics shouldered his way out of the drop pod, followed by a much smaller, more fantastical clockwork doll, an old veteran using a sniper rifle as a staff, and a bearded tech sergeant in green camo and spider-like goggles, who made his way to the front with some kind of advanced projector in hand.

“About time,” Goldlewis huffed. “If Vernon was still runnin’ the place, I bet y’all woulda been here ten minutes ago.”

Lip curling, Hank took a puff of his cigar. “Got an attitude on ya, huh? Well, sorry to keep ya waitin’, lardass, but don’t you worry.” He activated his Shield Charger, granting the whole enemy team a personal shield. “We’ll make this nice an’ quick.”

“Hmph.” Goldlewis cracked his neck, then lifted his coffin onto his shoulder. “You’d do well to address me as ‘Sir’.”

”It's about time something happened that wasn’t a conveyor ride full of traps. I do apologize but we have an appointment to make and you four are in the way.” Susie said, getting her blaster ready.

“Darn tootin’,” Goldlewis replied, ready to fight. “Let’s rock.”

Arahabaki - Silver Experience

Level 5 Sandalphon (53/50)
Geralt’s @Multi_Media_Man
Word Count: 1525

As the responses from the scattered Seekers came in, Sandalphon recorded each pairing on a screen she’d summoned. Goldlewis and Susie…Zenkichi and Sakura…Midna and Giovanna…Roxas and Blazermate…Roland and Raz…Pit and Karin. She felt foolish for not anticipating countermeasures like this, but then again, even the Angel of Information was going in blind here. As the Midgar city computer and the central server of Psynet itself, Arahabaki was a highly restricted place, and despite her mind’s vast reserves of data Sandalphon had nothing on this layout or defenses on this place. She disliked flying blind, but in this case there was no helping it. That said, she did bemoan her failure to ask Pit, Midna, and Sakura for their cursory impressions of this place earlier this morning or last night. Between all the things going on, her mind had been elsewhere–still, that was no excuse. For Sandalphon, anything less than perfection was failure, and she did not intend to fail again.

“We should be clear to proceed then. Use caution, and call on me if you need to. Halo out.” Sandalphon released her halo’s cord, allowing it to hang beside her. By pure chance, the number of Seekers meant that they’d been randomly sorted into duos, with nobody left out or third-wheeling. As much as she wanted to find a vantage point and provide support to everyone at once, this situation demanded her to take an active role, so beyond warping to an ally for an emergency heal she would need to trust in the others to get through this place. That meant focusing on just one pair in particular: herself and Geralt of Rivia.

“Of course, while I can attend the others if needed, I have no intention whatsoever of abandoning you,” Sandalphon stated, turning to address the Witcher. “I pledge to support you to the best of my humble ability. At the same time, I must ask that if we meet with danger, please protect me when possible. I possess a weak constitution.” She closed her eyes and gave him an apologetic bow. Once finished she brought out her Eye of Sol rifle, slung across her back. “I had hoped to be more useful in terms of offense with this. Unfortunately, it is too small for me to use effectively. My apologies.” She replaced the gun on her back, then summoned her gunstaff in staff mode. “One other thing, if I may. Though potent, my restorative skills must be charged by attacking. In other words, I have to consistently land hits before I can heal you. Please keep this in mind.”

With that, the two set off. The path laid out ahead of them, fenced in by short gray walls with slanted red-shingled roofs like the walls of a rock garden, soon brought them to an elaborate drawbridge mechanism. Geralt’s strength was able to knock it down on the Seekers’ side, and afterward Sandalphon could shoot the terminal on the far side to drop the other half into place. The greater challenge came next: a downward-sloped bridge, with just thin red rails suspended on either side between any prospective traversers and a long fall. Sandalphon frowned at it, noting that the bridge sported an incline rather than any steps. “This may be difficult with heels,” she muttered. Nevertheless she pushed forward, passing through the large, technological-looking archway and carefully crossing the bridge.

The real difficulty came when the two got just over halfway down, as the bridge suddenly began to move beneath them. Sandalphon toppled instantly, falling onto her tailbone. “Ah.” Though deadpan as ever, her pupils turned into flashing skulls. As the conveyor bridge carried her and Geralt back toward the top, a series of fwooms obliged her to look over her shoulder, allowing her to see the array of bright red laser beams that now formed a grid inside the archway she was rapidly approaching. “We should avoid that,” she announced, picking herself up. While Geralt could sprint down the sloped bridge, she really couldn’t. Even at top speed, she couldn’t keep pace with the giant treadmill. Sandalphon extended her free hand toward the bridge itself, trying to access the power granted by her fusion with Vigilant. Her pupils became snowflakes, and she launched an icy cluster that burst against the bridge’s surface, chilling it. It did not stop, however; it would take another Frost Lock to ice it over. The archangel lost her footing and fell forward onto her hands and knees.

She did not look defeated, though. “Keep running,” she told Geralt as the bridge sped her toward the lasers. “Ten seconds.” Sandalphon picked herself up with the help of her gunstaff, then used Vault just before reaching the laser grid, flinging herself straight upward. She seized her halo and landed softly on top of the arch, where she knelt with her hand outstretched. “Five, four, three, two, one. Freezing.” When she fired off another Frost Lock, its touch froze the bridge solid. It also dropped Geralt, and the Witcher began to pick up speed as he slid down the bridge toward the bottom. Three seconds later, he shot off the end onto the top of the next module, and the bridge unfroze. With nobody on it, it stopped moving, but Sandalphon wasn’t about to totter her way down it again. Instead she jumped off the archway and glided all the way down, alighting next to Geralt a few moments later. “Are you uninjured?”

As exciting as that had been (at least in theory) the next part might be even more interesting. This module, low enough that steam from Arahabaki’s floor wafted up in curtains on either side of it, was a long gauntlet of different turrets. Decked out in distinctive white and orange atop cylindrical bases, these defense towers sported a futuristic style and five different designs that Sandalphon could identify, including tri-barrel cannons, ringed gatlings, ground-pounding ACP towers, miniature factories, and a device that suspended an orb for a purpose she couldn’t immediately discern. They were arranged strategically along a maze of empty bases in a zig-zag pattern, with the ACPS on the inner corners and the guns around the longest sight lines. Though the sight of it all put Sandalphon on alert, she immediately realized that the gun turrets’ targeting range must be bizarrely low. “These are automated ranged weapons like ballistae,” she mentioned for the sake of her medieval partner. “They haven’t registered us yet, though. This setup seems to be intended to funnel targets through a path that will ensure maximum damage. We can forge our own.”

As it turned out, this setup was highly exploitable by anyone with a brain. In addition to low range, the turrets lacked firepower individually, so Geralt’s shield worked well against them. When Sandalphon shot a cannon, she found it highly susceptible, and proceeded to charge both her skills while destroying the turrets on one side. While the ACPs pounded the ground constantly to deal damage in an area, climbing on top of the empty bases put the Seekers beyond the shockwaves’ reach. Only in the vicinity of the orb-suspending AMPs did the turrets really get punishing, but repeated gunstaff shots were enough to disable it. Still, getting through the gauntlet took a little while, so by the time the archangel and the Witcher got to the end, the emergency response teams were on their way.

A drop pod landed on the module just ahead, so after the turret gauntlet the Seekers ascended the staircase to see who’d come to bar their way. This next module, octagonal in shape, featured a tower that looked like a large transformer on every corner, with connecting fences in between them and a sort of central gazebo ringed with electric blue tourou lamps. The drop pod opened just as Sandalphon and Geralt arrived, and from within appeared a team of four women in different kinds of formal attire. “Stay behind me,” a black-suited lady with incredibly long flame-red hair said calmly, raising her shield as she hefted her heavy flanged mace with ease. In silence a white-haired professional stood partially behind the defender, lips pursed and gauntlet ready as she watched with narrow eyes.

“So, these are the intruders? Wow, they’re super tall.” Smiling as if she didn’t have a care in the world a less stoic, less lustrous redhead flicked her braid over her shoulder and pushed aside the jacket tied around her waist to draw her twin pistols. Finally, the team healer stayed back, barely peeking out from behind the others–not to mention her trim, raven-black bangs. This well-dressed director carried only a PDA, but the drone floating beside her looked like it meant business.

Arahabaki - Dog Moms

Midna’s @DracoLunaris, Giovanna

Fast as ever, Gio reached the teleporter at the head of the pack, only to find herself all on her lonesome. Midna turned up not long after, but after that, nobody else seemed to be forthcoming. “Oh hey, you again,” the agent said by way of greeting. The two of them had ended up on a module that looked like a courtyard, filled with computing devices shaped like little shrines and komainu statues. Torii gates around the edges preceded bridges in several different directions, and enormous bundles of red cables wound into massive shimenawa ropes that connected them. Giovanna didn’t really know what had happened, but she knew that Sandalphon still had everyone connected, so she waited for the archangel to explain the situation.

It didn’t take long for Sandalphon to oblige. From the sound of it, that teleporter sent the various Seekers to a bunch of different receivers all throughout Arahabaki, so for now Giovanna and Midna were on their own as they made their way to Arahabaki’s grand central structure. “You and me, huh?” she asked, hands on her hips. Having not re-braided her hair this morning, her choppy crimson locks hung down past her shoulder, so she brushed half of them back behind her ear. “Alrighty then, show me what you’ve got.”

Even with the whole area too bright for Midna to hide in shadows, the Twilight Princess could move quickly, so that was one thing the two women had in common. They booked it, crossing several modules and bridges in quick succession. If it turned out that they went the wrong way through this sprawling gray maze, it didn’t take long to double back. Sometimes doors slammed shut, metal bars shot out to block a way, or walls rose from the floor, but the two were agile enough to get around most of the obstructions with ease by jumping, airdashing, climbing, and grappling.

Only on a longer conveyor bridge did they run into trouble. When it began to move, the treadmill went much faster than any of the others so far. Gio dashed again and again, but despite her blistering speed, she found herself unable to gain any real ground. At this rate, it wouldn’t be long until she got tired and the conveyor belt sped her backward toward the deadly laser grid erected behind her. “This is dumb. Rei?” Giovanna’s wolf spirit descended and got down on all fours, and once her master climbed on, Rei took off running even faster. The two became a green-and-red blur as they closed in on the far side of the bridge, only for a handful of drones to float out of saisenbako boxes on the next platform. One by one, they turned, projected a red laser, and floated forward.

“Oh, gimme a break,” Gio groaned. With her arms around Rei’s furry neck, she held on tight as the wolf spirit leaped over the first laser, then over the second, then went low and sprawled out under the third. Vertical laser drones forced the pair to veer right, then left, then right again. Then the drones started coming two at a time, left and low, right and low, right and high, left and high, right and left, then finally up and down. Rei dodged, ducked, and jumped as needed right until the end, at which point it became clear that she and Gio couldn’t possibly get through the high and low lasers together. So Giovanna gathered herself and used her companion as a springboard, leaping over the lasers and then airdashing right into the other arch. “Oof…” Wincing at the wind knocked from her lungs, she climbed up onto the arch, then hopped down onto the next module.

This one was quite large, with rows of server racks set up like ema gakari on either side, laden with holographic ema tablets. In between stood electronics arranged into what looked like a Japanese rock garden in a remarkable feat of engineering, with grooves in tranquil patterns and engraved plug-in modules like standing sekihi stone monuments. Long, relatively narrow walkways without handrails criss-crossed the ‘garden’, sometimes bridging little rivers of coolant. Cables had been wound into spiral trees, their branches stripped at the end so that the wires could splay out into smaller branches, and holographic omamori dangled beneath them. Soon after they arrived, a drop pod descended from the ceiling toward this strange garden. Giovanna watched its approach with her arms crossed, nonplussed. A moment later the pod landed and divulged its occupants.

First on the scene was a severe-looking blonde in a gray pinstripe suit and a cape, wielding a high-tech lance as long as she was tall. “Halt!” she cried out immediately, taking point for her team. Behind her the other three formed up: a commando in yellow with dual machine pistols, a stern-looking psychic soldier in blue, and a big man in heavy white armor with a rocket launcher and a shotgun. “This is a restricted area. Our orders are to stop you getting any farther, by any means necessary.”

Four on two, huh? That didn’t sound fair. Then again, Giovanna was a two-for-one kind of deal, and who knew how much help Midna might be packing. “Yeah, yeah.” Not too bothered, the secret agent yawned, then beckoned the goons closer. “Let’s get this over with.”

Mercy Dreams - Same Old Story

The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Ganondorf’s @Double, Ms. Fortune
Word Count: 3275

Sure enough, after just a few moments the ground began to rumble. Nadia grit her teeth in a smirk, steeling herself for some kind of tunneling behemoth. Rather than keep her and the others in suspense, however, the source of the disturbance appeared right away. A large block of stone pushed itself up from through the soul at the far end of the room. About twenty feet tall and fifteen wide, it seemed featureless except for the gaping black rectangular hole on the front, and some sort of sign just above that opening: a red ring with a downward-pointing white arrow. Something clicked in Nadia’s mind. “Wait…that symbol. I’ve seen it somewhere before, I know I have!”

And with that realization came a sinking feeling. A dreadful and familiar sensation seeped not from within Nadia’s heart, but from that yawning mouth of darkness. That inimitable aura of wrongness. Like drinking saltwater, the taste of metal. A crawling beneath the skin borne of microwave radiation. Orchestrated tinnitus. Anathema. She’d felt it twice before. Once in the depths of King’s Station, where every fiber of her being mutely screamed in instinctual alarm. Once again in Falldown Mall, but at such a distance that she thought it diminished, accustomed to, and manageable. “It’s one of them,” she heard herself say, though what ‘they’ were was impossible to say. She swallowed, her claws already sharpened, and stared into the darkness, waiting.

From behind her came the rustling of dry wings. When Nadia averted her eyes from the void, she spotted paper butterflies, a whole swarm of them. Gathered from all over the prison, they now fluttered in from Mercy Dreams’ fifth layer. They flew above the Seekers’ heads and made a beeline for the dark doorway. They streamed inside, and over the papery chorus Nadia could hear a voice. It welled up from the floor below, getting louder as its owner grew closer. The voice was higher than she might expect; reedy, singsong. It didn’t speak, but it hummed, and she didn’t know the tune. Out of everyone here, only Jesse might.

The Director recognized it. Gun out, taking a couple steps forward, letting that familiar unreal feeling wash over her. ‘He’s a jolly good fellow.’ She heard the lyrics of the little jingle in her mind.

When the tune ended, everything was quiet for a moment. Then the newcomer emerged from the darkness, staining the face of reality with something that didn’t belong. At least, not in the context of something standing and walking around, for its colors and texture were like blotchy watercolor on aged parchment. It sported a human torso of bare flesh on shaggy legs and hooves, matched by a coiled tail and the furry head of a donkey with brown teeth bared, its head permanently turned sideways so that one saucer-round yellow eye could stare, unblinking, at the Seekers. It moved at a lower framerate, its colors shimmering and sliding slightly as it did, in its hands it held a green book, open so that each of the paper butterflies could unravel and tuck themselves inside. Nadia realized that this creature resembled the wooden carving she’d found earlier. After a moment, it slammed the book shut, and held it behind its back.

”POOR THINGS.” Its voice had a theatrical sort of unsavory silliness to it, like that of an archetypal trickster. ”STRUGGLING AND STRUGGLING. ALL THIS PAIN AND MISERY, AN EXERCISE IN MEANINGLESS FUTILITY MADE IN BLISSFUL IGNORANCE. HOW I ENVY YOU!”

”So this hideous creature is the area boss?” Sectonia said, not liking its chimeric design at all.

Ganondorf had hung back at first, having decided to give himself a breather and let the other Seekers deal with the other creatures on this fifth layer. The loud and shrieking voice was what changed his mind. The Gerudo King entered the chamber the same way that Jesse and the Travelers had earlier. He almost wanted to cover his ears as a reflex to the loud voice of the monster. But he had a feeling that wouldn’t have done him any good.

”Yeah, well, how about I introduce you to some pain so you don’t have to be jealous any more!?” Bowser shouted back after a moment, responding to feelings of fear and discomfort with foolish bravado. As he did that, Jr and Kamek both felt a shared urge to check on the carving and book they both had respectively acquired up in the warden’s office, as much to see if they were still there as to double check the similarity to this otherworldly thing in appearance and description each held.

Unflinching, the being brought out its book again and flipped to a certain page. ”OH, BOWSER,” it chided. ”BENEATH ALL THOSE STOLEN TRAPPINGS, YOU’RE AS SIMPLE AS EVER.”

”Well yeah, ‘course you’ve heard of me!” Bowser started to gloat, before cutting himself off with a ”Hey wait a second! What do you mean simple!?”

”Only you could get into an argument with a mindless monster and still find a way to lose.” Ganondorf quipped, finding himself almost amused at the Koopa King’s idiocy.

For Therion's part, he didn't have to check the little wooden carving he'd found to see that it most likely depicted the mule-headed figure in front of them. He shouldn't have brushed the wooden figure off so quickly, because of course it couldn't have been a coincidence, but there hadn't been a lot of time to stop and study it either.

Instinctively the thief took a few steps backward, away from the thing even while he made sure his weapons were in his hands.

Primrose had taken a step forward, regarding the newcomer darkly with her ice lance in her grasp. Intelligent enemies were more troublesome than simple beasts - and from the aura given off by the strange thing, the only thing it could be was an enemy. She wondered if it was a jailer or a prisoner here, or something else altogether.

Neither of the two of them had seen something like this, but both were ready to face off against it - even with the tangible impression that it was more dangerous than it looked.

"You've seen something like this before?" Primrose asked, cutting a quick glance to Ms. Fortune.

Nadia narrowed her eyes as she whispered back. “Kind of? It didn’t look like this. But it felt like this. The same kind of ‘wrong’.” The fact that it knew Bowser’s name unnerved her, though clearly that knowledge originated from the book in its hands. Clearing her throat, she raised her voice. “Hey, assface! Am I in your little book, too?”


For a moment, the feral stood dumbfounded, her mouth agape as her teasing smile turned into a snarl of pure rage. Between the others hearing her first name, or seeing her comedy mask broken, it was a day for firsts. For once, Nadia found herself lost for words.

It was the creature's response to Ms. Fortune that put Primrose and Therion even more on edge. Part of it was how affected the feral was, but it was also the words themselves. Between being surveyed by the Organization or the Consuls and their general familiarity with magic, they both thought it would be a simple thing for an antagonistic stranger to learn their names. But more in depth knowledge? If there were files on all of them, their strengths and weaknesses, akin to the pages of monster information that the paper moths featured... it could be very bad for the Seekers, to put it mildly.

“Wow, dick.” Jesse said, offended for her friend and on principle, given her reaction. She had to admit, this creature looked fucking cool. But that was all he had going for him. “We’re just here for the mask piece, so… I mean there doesn’t need to be a fight.” She said, though in a tone of voice that indicated she realized the inevitability of it.

But she wouldn’t be a very good Director if she didn’t at least make a cursory attempt at conflict de-escalation, even with the freakiest shit imaginable.


”And a way to access dreams” Kamek reminded them as he continued flicking through the book in a rather futile search for answers, before having a thought and enquiring ”I don’t suppose you have anything about Galeem in that tome of yours, do you?”

Before the entity could properly address or lay eyes on Kamek, its attention was taken by someone else. ”Am I the only one here wondering how exactly this abomination knows so much about us?” Ganondorf demanded, beginning to become impatient, ”A magic tome is one thing, but the writings in that tome had to have come from somewhere.” he reasoned. It was a logical enough question to ask. And he now was also wondering to himself if they could use that tome for themselves.

”I say…” Ganondorf said as his hands went for his twin greatswords, ”...we take it! Or at the very least destroy it so it can never be used against us.”

The entity held up its book, staring at it. “”WHAT? THIS LITTLE THING?” Then it shook its head, gently. Mockingly. ”DON’T LET IT BOTHER YOU. IT ISN’T REAL.” A chill crept through the air and down the Seekers’ spines. ”THEN AGAIN…WE ALLOW ALL MANNER OF UNREAL THINGS TO BOTHER US, DON’T WE? FRIENDS. ENEMIES. FAME AND FORTUNE. OUR PASTS AND FUTURES. OUR VERY LIVES…” Just as the waves made from the being’s voice vibrated the air, so too did they vibrate the listeners’ souls. ”FICTION.”

“...Yep,” Jesse said, stepping forward and to the side, leaning to the right to see if she could see the piece behind them or something. “Everyone loves a good story.”

“My name is Jesse. I’ll admit, someone made that up.” She said, not seeing anything. On the off-chance it was suspended from the ceiling or something, she glanced up there. “What’s yours?”


“I’d rather not say, if you don’t mind. Kind of a weird thing to ask, Robin.” Jesse said, while Jr replied exasperatedly ”I ain’t got one yet! Why do people keep asking me that?” clearly rather upset by the question but not at all for the reason Robin seemed to have intended.

Though still very mad, Nadia couldn't help but be a little sheepish, since she'd been the other one to ask Junior. Her question came from a place of innocent curiosity, and he hadn't seemed bothered then, but he sure seemed bothered now. This Robin monster was getting into their heads.


"What the hell is it talking about?" At first Therion had been given the impression that the creature was some kind of demented sage, but could it have lost its mind? Reasoning with it seemed useless as is.

”I have a feeling this creature is what caused all those above to go mad. Possibly from its ramblings.” Sectonia said. For once though, she was with Ganondorf. Assuming that book didn’t turn people insane by viewing it, it would be very useful. Why did she get a very faint inkling that she knew of an all knowing book? Huh… strange.

”THAT BOOK,” Robin said suddenly. Its head turned forward for the first time, facing Kamek. Over its left eye, kept hidden until now, was worn the upper-left third of a mask. Both eyes were on the book held in the magikoopa’s hands. “”A CURIOUS READ.” The aura surrounding Robin seemed to swell slightly, a discordant ringing in the ears. “”A STORY OF FAIRIES: OF KING OBERON, QUEEN TITANIA, AND THE TRICKSTER ROBIN GOODFELLOW.” After turning its head sideways again, Robin continued to glare. “”WHEN THE SUNFLOWER GAVE IT TO ME, I REALIZED. THAT I AM BUT AN INVENTION OF A MORTAL PLAYWRIGHT - A MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE, TO BE PRECISE. AND NONE OF YOU ARE ANY BETTER. SIMPLY MORE DELUDED.”


The way this thing was speaking... so high and mighty, like it knew everything and the Seeker's struggles were just an amusing game... It upset Primrose. Its words touched somewhere dark in the depths of her heart. The fact that it was trying to upset her friends as well was secondary to the revulsion she felt, more than just the inherent feeling that this creature shouldn't exist. When the mule man spoke she could almost hear his voice too - the traitor who likened himself to a puppet master, and her life and her goal to mere stage drama. The man with the mark of the crow upon his neck.

"Enough of you!" she hissed at the thing. She took a deep, steadying breath immediately afterward, but it was no good. It didn't matter if this 'Goodfellow' included itself as one of the sad, unwitting actors. She wouldn't stand for it to draw her in its delusion, and she couldn't have stopped herself if she'd wanted to.

Without warning her allies she disappeared the next moment, leaving wisps of shadows where she once stood. She let her Ravaging Confession carry her forward, teleporting behind the monster and lashing out at it with her lance. Shadow and icy flames licked at the entity.

Well, Ganondorf wasn’t going to complain. If someone didn’t begin the fight then he eventually would have himself. With weapons still in hand, he made a gesture that summoned his Moblins to him. Together they leveled bows in order to take aim at Robin and then let their fire arrows fly. Ganondorf himself stayed put for the moment. He wanted to gauge this thing first before bumbling into a melee skirmish against it.

With another gesture, he summoned Blast Hornet who went to work targeting the abomination with his holographic crosshairs in order to use three consecutive Search Attacks against it. So during these Search Attacks and the volleys of fire arrows, the Gerudo King watched and observed - opting for caution and waiting to see what the monster would do before deciding his next move.

The others' call to action was all the impetus Nadia needed to quit smoldering in anger and rush forward to help shut this abomination up. She didn’t fully grasp whatever it was talking about, and she didn’t really care. So what if it struggled with the circumstances of its birth? Did that make it special, somehow? Her entire life had been one long run of making what she could of her own unfortunate origin story. If this thing thought that its own misfortune justified behavior like this, Robin Goodfellow wasn't anything special after all. It was just an asshole, and the world has plenty of those.

The sudden lance strike to Robin’s leg did a little damage to it, but the entity seemed more annoyed than hurt. It took a long step away, its hooves clicking against the floor, and as it continued to do so it avoided most of the Moblins’ volley. Then it extended its free hand, like an actor performing a soliloquy. ”SLEEP. PERCHANCE TO DREAM.” Magical fairy dust rained down on Primrose, and her eyelids grew heavy.

"You...!" She tried to say, irritated with its tactic. Ultimately she was unable to resist the spell and she slumped down, asleep.

“Primrose!” Rather than make a beeline for Robin, Nadia skidded to a stop next to the fallen dancer. Her friend was still breathing, but seemed completely unconscious, and no amount of stirring -whether gentle or not so much- would rouse her. “Hey, get up!” Nadia said urgently, trying to pry open Primrose’s eyes. “A rose oughta sleep in a flowerbed, y’know? Not here!”

“She’s out, Nadia! We gotta pull her back!” Jesse commanded, trying to refocus Nadia’s attention on the thing she could do rather than what she couldn’t.

The sudden turn of events spooked Therion enough that he had been frozen in place. What fur he had was standing on end, and his eyes were wide with apprehension. That thing had incapacitated Primrose so quickly and so easily. Therion's skin tingled with the want to escape the situation, but he was rooted to the spot until the women confirmed that his friend was alright. Just a sleep spell. Combined with the unnatural, alien aura of the monster and the way it spoke, it had seemed worse at first.

He didn't cross the arena towards Primrose. Instead he let the other Seekers take the brunt of the attention as usual, black cloaked form melting into the dark edges of the room.

Robin opened his book, the pages flipping on their own turning in a raspy flurry. ”I WILL GRANT YOU MERCY. BE IT IN DREAMS...” Ethereal energy welled up around the tome, and after a moment two streaks flew out to dive into the ground next to Robin. Two strange warriors manifested, both part organic and part machine in sleek, streamlined shapes. One looked like a mechanized ox with his horns and ring-shaped piercings, black in color but bearing a rifle and melee weapons of white, all ornamented in gold. The other was slender, delicate and elegant as a butterfly in bright shades of red and teal, a gilded shotgun and saber on her person. As they stood, readying their weapons, ten purple diamond outlines flared up in a halo-like arc around Robin’s head. ”...OR DEATH.”
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Same Old Story - the First Turn

The Koopa Troop’s @DracoLunaris, Primrose and Therion’s @Yankee, Sectonia’s @Archmage MC, Ganondorf’s @Double, Ms. Fortune
Word Count: 2,129 (+3)

Sectonia was fine with blasting this thing, as was their prerogative to dealing with bosses as it were. ”About time we can silence this thing.” Seeing this thing was made of paper, or something akin to that, she started by summoning her fire Antlers before she got in close to hit it with her axe and fire breath, dancing out when needed so Bowser could do his shenanigans as it were. Still, whatever he did to Primrose was a bit concerning, so Sectonia figured they were all on a time limit.

Fortunately, another royal had a solution to that problem, the koopa prince hurrying over to the sleeping Primrose inorder to cast ”Esuna!” on the dancer, a spell that could magically cleanse minor status effects. Even as she cured her, the prince also grabbed her with his free hand, aiming to help Nadia in moving her clear while she was waking up.

As the boy helped, his papa and sister put themselves in between the sleeper and her 2 helpers to protect them from whatever the two humanoid enemies Robin had summoned could do, assuming they tried to take down the sleeping target, readying shields and defensive strikers. As a result it was instead Kamek who took advantage of Sectonia’s dancing away, as the mage proceeded to fire a multi elemental cosmic spray across the battlefield at Robin, hoping that at least one of the elements would tickle a weakness they could exploit.

Jesse sprinted forward, putting herself in front of her comrades. Noting the two warriors had guns, she figured they planned on using them in moments. So she put out her hands and ripped debris from the floor and bound them together with her paranatural powers, creating a Shield in between her allies and Robin’s bodyguards.

Coming to was slow for Primrose. Even though she knew what was happening around her wasn't real, she struggled to stay asleep all the same. Whatever inner demons she'd found in that nightmare, she wanted to stay and fight them.

"Simeon...!" Her voice was quiet and strained as her body woke up before her mind. She felt hands on her, jostling and moving her. She forcefully pulled herself out of the grasp, not quite realizing that her allies were taking her out of harm's way.

"Don't touch me." The words were a clear, dangerous warning. Nadia heeded them, jerking away as if Primrose had burned her hands. Then, the dancer’s dark eyes brightened a little in recognition of Ms. Fortune and Bowser Jr. Ahead of them, Jesse and the others. She touched her forehead gently as consciousness fully returned to her. "I...?"

”Hmph.” Ganondorf huffed with a grimace. He finally decided he’d seen enough. He held up one sword as a gesture to command his moblins to temporarily hold their fire. Then with a smirk he took off in a run toward the creature called Robin. He’d seen the sleep-inducing fairy dust attack and now knew to be wary of it. He would not be so easily caught off guard by it.

Rather than a direct forward attack, the Gerudo King instead anticipated some kind of frontal defense of riposte and pivoted himself into a side step. That side-step then led into a jump that took him up and allowed him to come slamming back down onto the creature from above with an aerial Warlock Kick that of course wrapped his foot and leg in a dark, purple-ish magical flame, ”Show me what you’ve got, creature! Do your worst!”

Robin hadn’t been the one to attack Ganondorf, however. Instead it was Oberon, and the strong-bodied warframe had bulled forward to bring the blue flames of his golden mace Silva down on the warlord’s head. Instead Ganondorf deftly dodged the crushing blow, then while Oberon momentarily raised his Aegis shield to defend himself from a counterattack, leaped away from it to target Robin instead. Unfortunately for Ganondorf, he’d earned himself an enemy that was far more mobile than he realized. Incensed, Oberon sprang into the air with surprising accuracy, hurtling after Ganondorf in a corkscrew leap. In the middle of his Warlock Kick, he took an aerial shield bash to the back, knocking him off course. Both flew off to the side, and Ganondorf had only the briefest opportunity to course-correct before Oberon followed up with an overhead slam from Silva to bring both himself and the Gerudo King back down to the ground.

Meanwhile, Titania had been more focused on the other attacker who flew in to attack Robin, that being Sectonia. With Primrose well protected by the Koopa Troop and Jesse, the sprightly warframe took aim at the swarm queen with her regal Corinth shotgun. With six punchy pellets, it had short range, middling fire rate, and a nasty propensity for critical hits made all the worse by a decently tight spread. With her first shot she missed, with the second she got a glancing blow on Sectonia, and with the third she scored a direct hit. By that time though, her target was backpedaling and the Antlers were closing in. Titania released her shotgun with one hand to cast Spellbind. This created a cloud of fairy dust, five meters in diameter, in the vicinity of herself, Robin, Jesse, Nadia, Primrose, the Troop, and Sectonia’s minions. Immediately, her enemies fumbled their weapons, and the Antlers floated into the air, surrounded by ghostly teal butterflies. Meanwhile, she and Robin became immune to status effects, and would be until Spellbind ended in sixteen seconds.

In the first few moments of the fight, Robin sustained a heavy axe chop, fiery breath, and a barrage of different elements. None of them seemed any more effective than any other, however, so while a smart move, Kamek’s gambit didn’t amount to much. With its minions already engaging the enemy, Robin followed suit. First it used Trick, inflicting Jesse with a random debuff, Melee Attack Down, for thirty seconds. Then the archangel used Fairy Dust again, this time targeting the major threat to its gameplan: Junior. The Koopa Prince immediately fell into a deep sleep, and around him the battle continued. One other thing happened, however. Within Robin’s strange corona, two of the ten empty diamond outlines now shone with vivid purple.

After seeing Primrose stir and confirming that she’d be okay, there was nothing else stopping Naida from cutting to the chase. When Titania’s Spellbind caused an unseen force to wrench her boxcutters from her grip, she didn’t even slow down. Instead she jumped onto Jesse’s barrier of torn-up slabs, claws sharpened, and pumped her limbs full of blood. “Nice trick,” she smirked, grabbing her right arm by the bicep as it spun up like a drill. “But I’m never unarmed!” She took aim, then fired at Titania. Rather than try to block, the warframe leaped upward on a conjured trampoline of energy, but Nadia was faster. On jets of blood she cannoned skyward, transforming her left arm into a white tiger’s as she raised it over her head. “Here’s your escape claws!” She descended with a strong slash that brought both back down, knocking the Corinth from Titania’s grasp.

The warframe landed and slid backward, drawing her Pangolin saber, while Nadia did two things. With her left she pulled off and rolled her head a bowling ball (which missed her target), and with the other she shot out muscle fibers to attach to her detached arm and pull it back on. Titania sprinted toward her, sliding to collect her shotgun, then rose to meet flashing claws with swirling blade. Nadia struck thrice in quick succession with Cat Scratch, each metallic clash gaining no ground. Only when the feral’s head flew in from behind Titania did Nadia manage to catch her off guard and land an El Gato axe kick that pushed the warframe back.
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