The assembled heroes rested for a few moments, working to calm down their spiking heart rates. Nearly getting lightning-blasted might have bid the average adventurer to steer clear, but more than a few of the Yellow Team members were already thinking of paying their attacker back. Midna voiced her anger the loudest, apparently hurt by the flash of light, but Joker felt pretty similarly. He might have been fine putting the 'walking temple' in Morgana's rear-view mirror before, but now that he and his team nearly got fried by its potshot, he felt like taking it down.
Primrose established a little more of her character as well as her role in the mental space of the team by providing a voice of reason. The camel definitely seemed to act in self-defense, and it being an elaborate tank with a pilot tucked away somewhere made definite sense. And everyone did need to get a move on given the sheer distance the team needed to cover. But Joker could feel the general mood, and everyone wanted to teach that ancient mecha a thing or two. “It's not that big,” he reasoned as the team piled out. They lined up facing Vah Naboris, with Sectonia and the Courier overhead, sizing it up. “We can clear it out in a few minutes, probably.”
When Sectonia declared her intent to go and asked for volunteers, Joker obliged. Tora and Poppi also invited themselves on the condition that they follow behind Sectonia, who seemed to have a plan in mind. The rest got back into the car or fanned out at Fox's prompting, poised to use the opportunity the queen provided to get beneath the divine beast and disable it.
Joker watched the Morgana-car rev up and turn back toward the camel. Go time. He prepared his grappling hook and latched onto the oversized wasp's stinger when she took off, trailing behind her as she flew. While quick and stylish transportation, this also meant that in the case of a direct lightning bolt, his hook's cord wouldn't transmit the shock. Despite this knowledge he couldn't help but feel a little uneasy when the queen got into range and Vah Naboris started charging again. But Sectonia came prepared, and she cast her own thunderbolt to divert the camel's away from her. The blast went wide, but close, so close that Joker could smell the ozone and feel its heat on his eyes. Still, the queen bore him and Midna safely inside its hump.
He released his hook and landed on polished stone, and a moment later Poppi alighted beside him. With thrusters on her back now and a slender chassis now she could only carry her Masterpon like a beach ball, but Tora shouldered the humiliation. He quickly forgot about it as his dazzled eyes took in all the machinery within the divine beast. “Meh...so cool!”
Midna thought so too, at least as far as a certain symbol was concerned. The systems and inscriptions in here apparently struck her as familiar enough that she said she could do something with them. Tora couldn't say what that meant exactly, but since she started studying straightaway, he figured she would need some time. That meant that it fell to the others to keep her safe. But safe from what? Now that Tora thought about it, there didn't seem to be any security. “No defenses on beastypon inside? It Tora lucky day!”
“Not quite,” a commanding voice rang out from behind them. Tora and Poppi turned to see a towering woman
sauntering the heroes' way, a magnificent sword and shield in hand. Behind her floated a strange creature
with similar weapons that glowed a bright blue. Tora's eyes went wide, but he knew better than to stop and stare, Instead he bid Poppi switch to QT mode and readied his Mech Arms. “To challenge Vah Naboris is to challenge me. I am Urbosa, and as a champion of Hyrule, I will show evil no mercy!” She held out her scimitar, and the thunderblight behind her spiraled forward. It hurtled at Sectonia with a shield bash, then swung its hooked blade to try and chop through her narrow waist.
Joker pulled his pistol and fired several times. His rounds rang off Urbosa's shield as she ran forward. He dipped to the left just in time to avoid a deadly slash, then vaulted over Tora as he came in to block her second swing. With a grunt he grappled away, zipping past where Sectonia and the thunderblight tangled to safety on a higher platform.
Meanwhile, the Morgana-car wove between the great camel's legs. Unfortunately the divine beast could target beneath itself quite well, but a little panicked swerving went a long way. While Skull took the wheel, Panther called upon her own Persona
. “Dance, Carmen!” she called, manifesting a woman in red atop the car to hurl fireballs at the hooves of Vah Naboris. Panther joined in on the fun herself, peppering the nearest leg with submachine gun fire.
Consenting to observe the 'street fight' along with Sakura, although not nearly as pumped. The pugilists in question certainly made for an odd pair, one a too-pretty, almost doll-like girl wielding some sort of electricity and the other a clown who might as well have been sculpted from clay. While both noticed the sudden jump in spectatorship, between the two the clown seemed to appreciate it far more. For whatever reason his paradoxically dour features lit up at Sakura's cheering, while his opponent ignored it. From that moment onward, however, the clown fought with renewed vigor. He busted out move after tricky move, gradually overwhelming the more traditional fighting style of his foe. By the time the fishing trawler went by he'd turned the fight around, and pushed his advantage with a leering grin on his face.
Sakura could move around the perimeter of Shippy and up to the steersman's platform to continue spectating, but Peach didn't move on. Instead she raised an eyebrow at Kamek's suggestion. “An intriguing prospect. From what we've seen so far, the boss spirits are serious business. They command great power and cannot be broken, after all. Given what that lady in black said, as well as the two so far, I'd expect it to be a huge monster, so I don't believe I'll be baiting any lines just yet.”
Still, when the Cadet offered her a rod, she accepted it without complaint. Turned him down would be impolite if not joy-killing, after all; even with a changed mind, Peach had an eye for these things. She watched as Junior attempted spear-fishing, which from the height of a ship's deck and the strength of a tyke's arm didn't pan out too well. The Cadet tried a different method too, but his net worked wonders on the passing shoal, hauling up an impressive batch of flopping black bass
. Even Isabelle got in on the fun, quickly showing that even a desk-sitting secretary could have some serious fishing chops. “Wow. Amazing.” Peach complimented her, a little worried that her tone was too flat to be taken as genuine.
A few minutes of fishing went by before the shoal petered out completely, leaving Brineybeard's passengers with little to do save watch their destination grow closer. Bit by bit they could make out more details: the seastack foundations, the cloud-white masonry, the banners in the breeze, the townsfolk hustling and bustling across bridges and walkways. In fairly short order they found themselves in the shadow of the city on the water, Limsa Lominscuttle Town, with an energizing song
reaching out across the waters.
Brineybeard cruised in to a dock, albeit one barren of dock workers and utterly devoid of other ships. Having a living vessel made docking easy, so the captain himself mostly walked to and fro across the deck. “Well, here she be! Good ol' Limsa. A livelier place ye'll ne'er find, mateys.” He eyed the passengers. “So, which one of ye caught the most fish? Wouldn't mind keepin' a few fer me dinner tonight, seein' as I hauled ye fer free 'n all.”
Peach said nothing for a moment, wondering what she ought to do. While getting familiar with the town couldn't hurt, the ultimate goal was to call forth the Maw. No matter who would be going aboard, that apparently meant having enough people around who wanted it. How strange.
At the very least, she guessed that she should meet with Limsa's leaders. They should know how to proceed. “Captain, who's in charge here? Is there a...a mayor?”
“That'd be Admiral Merlwyb Blue..uh, Bloefhiswyn,” Brineybeard replied, his pronunciation less than dependable. “Still got me a sour spot fer that ol' screw after she cracked down on piratin'. She ain't the least bit flexible...”
“Good,” Peach cut him off. “Where is she?”
Brineybeard gave a grunt and shrugged, uninterested. “Dunno. Got an office somewhere, but I ain't gone by. Now if ye'll 'scuse me.” He hobbled off in a huff.
Frowning, Peach looked out across the sea and spotted a pair of incoming shapes zipping across the water. “What are those?”
Although Brineybeard stopped to take a look, the expression on his face made it clear he regretted it. “The new
navy,” he grumbled before disappearing inside the cabin.
Peach watched, intrigued, as the incoming 'ships' drew nearer. As far as she could tell they looked an awful lot more like people than boats, but people couldn't skim across the surface of the ocean like that. Something buzzed over Shippy, and the princess looked up just in time to catch sight of a tiny green plane the size of a bird. The newcomers eventually swept into port, gliding up to the docks and stepping on with practiced ease. Fascinated, Peach walked down the ramp, waving to them. “Hey!”
Both looked her way. While definitely humans, and both girls, they possessed odd-looking attachments that did look like ship parts. The green-haired one
waved back. “Oh, hello.”
Peach came to a stop and crossed her arms. “If you don't mind answering me, how did you do that? What are those parts?”
The girl's eyebrows rose. “Huh!? Oh, I'm sorry. You must be new here.” She smiled, giving a bow. The miniature green plane flew in and landed on one of her runways before it folded up. “We're ships. HMS Shropshire, at your service. And this is...”
“USS Northampton,” the sporty-looking one
said, her voice low.
Now what Brineybeard said, as well as the utter lack of boats around this seabound city, was starting to make sense. Peach also felt like she understood his attitude a bit better. If piracy was outlawed and traditional ships sailed no more, his entire way of life had either been regulated or antiquated. “I see!” she told the ships. “Nice to meet you. Maybe you could tell us about this city?”
“Oh, sure! You go ahead, North.” Without a word the green-haired ship's serious counterpart left. Shropshire raised her fingers and started counting off. “Well, up ahead is Mealvaan's Gate, which is customs and stuff, then the Arcanists' Guild, and Mimic's Workshop. Then Hawker's Alley, where they sell everything you could ever want. After that the whole place is split between the lower decks and upper decks. On the lower decks, there's Bulkwark Hall, where you can ride lifts to the Admiral's office, the Drowning Wench tavern, Sky's Hatchery, and the Airship Deck. Lower decks also has Fisherman's Bottom, but...that place really reeks. Upper decks has Seventh Sage imports, which are to die for. Oh, Bismarck! A restaurant with super-yummy food. There's also the Coral Tower, which is for the guard, Maelstrom command, where we ships report for missions, the Smiths' Guild'...and...uh...” Her voice dropped to a whisper. “'Missing Member'. It's another tavern,” she giggled. “Um, I'm sorry, I went on a bit there. Anything else?”
Peach shook her head, hoping her teammates got all they needed to from that. “No, thank you, that was great. Take care.”
“You too!” Shropshire hurried off after her teammate.
Turning to the others, Peach asked, “Thoughts, everyone? Or if you've already got an idea, go ahead and go, I guess.”
Water jets blasted and tentacles whipped, felling lerks and knocking back the speediest Flood. With a transformed, hydro-powered Bowser in the vanguard clearing the road, the shockdozer pulled away from its pursuers cleanly to accelerate down the slope. Unfortunately, that meant leaving their newly-strengthened bruiser behind. In the mean time, Jak more or less commandeered control of the vehicle from Blazermate, and the Medabot flew out both to lighten the load and attend to Bowser. Getting airborne gave her a good view of the incoming bomber, however, and she recognized it as serious trouble straightaway. Jak steered around the bulging gas sacs as best he could, but he possessed very little room to work with as the path got narrower and narrower. Before long he hit one, and the living mine dutifully ruptured in a burst of foul-smelling smog that would have sent the shockdozer spiralling toward the lava if it weren't so heavy.
A shriek echoed out from above. Anyone looking up in the direction of the Flood bomber could spot a ghostly figure emerge from above the cliff and dive down. Jak and Daxter would recognize the specter as one fought back in the Police Station alongside Jones and that helmet-wearing dog Caesar: a wraith.
Yet something wasn't quite right. Its cloak wasn't blue but red—plaid, in fact, and two empty sleeves fluttered behind it. Brown hair spilled from the hood to flutter in the wind as she dove. Instead of flying for the shockdozer, however, the wraith swooped toward the bomber. She sank a twisted cleaver into its flesh as she passed and pulled, ripping it open. Wailing, the Flood abomination deflated like a blimp, drifting downward toward the molten rock far below.
A moment later, the ramp bottomed out, and the shockdozer hit the air. For a heart-clenching moment the mammoth of a vehicle sailed through open air. Then it slammed down hard on the opposite side of the chasm, hard enough to rattle bones and stun its passengers. On the opposite side the Flood washed up against the edge, a few unlucky wretches tumbling over, and a number of them jumping for it. Although the combat forms jumped disconcertingly far, none could latch onto and climb the sheer stone wall like Bowser did. With a hearty exhale the koopa king pulled himself up with everyone else, and Blazermate touched down a moment later.
Then the wraith appeared. She rose upward from below the cliff, cleavers in hand. ”Wait!”
came her voice, an ethereal whisper. She dropped her weapons on the ground with a resounding clatter. ”Friendly.”
. She pulled at her hood, and when the light fell within the heroes could see a face
some would find familiar. It belonged to Tess, the woman sliced in half at the police station. A little embarrassed by her new appearance, she cleared her throat and let her hood shroud her face again. ”I was floating around for a while, but I heard the commotion just now. I was afraid you'd think I was a monster, but I saw the chance to help. Dead or not, I'm gonna keep fighting to keep people safe.”
At that moment a crack rang out, and the ground beneath everyone lurched. Maybe the shockdozer landed a little too hard. Tess grabbed her cleavers before flying upward toward solid ground in the form of the remaining half of a street. “Hurry!” she called. The street led south, in the rough direction of the Qliphoth root, although some sort of fleshy mountain stood in the way a couple blocks down the road.
Nero yanked his sword free from the disintegrating corpse of a Red Arremer and pulled off a Shuffle to dip backward out of the claw swipe of a Penance fighter
. He slid forward again with a rising slash, then transitioned into a Streak that sent the foul thing flying away in quarters. In front of him, two Penance attacked Nadia at once, but the Feral deftly dropped into a split before rotating her torso to slice both across the gut with her new scythe, then switched it to spear mode to impale both the fighter on the right and the runner
behind it. The remaining fighter swiped at her again and knocked off her head, only for the detached head to fly up and chomp into its eyestalk. “Bleh!” she spat as the demon writhed, watching her body get up to execute a revolving kick and take the eyestalk off fully.
Her head fell into her waiting hands and she popped it back on. “Geez, these things are gross!” A Penance ranger
flew in from the hallway only for Nero and Raidou to plug it right in the eye at the same time, standing back to back. “Ooh, cool!” Nadia remarked, grinning, but the arrival of more Penance made her sigh. “Jeez, these things just keep coming! Is this flesh hive spawning 'em or something?”
Nero didn't answer. Instead he yanked an incoming fighter toward the group with Wire Snatch, allowing Raidou and Nadia to dispatch it with a slash each. Behind them came a beep, and they turned to see both lights on for the generator. “Slayer did his thing. Want to get that, Fortune?” Wasting no time, Nadia climbed through the broken window and jumped onto the generator catwalk. Once she pulled the big lever the core started power up immediately. Lights grew brighter, machinery began to spin, and the grotesque heart clinging to the device started to wriggle. Getting a bad feeling, Nadia turned to jump back out. The heart flexed and shuddered, twisting in silent pain, until the rising storm blew it apart in a harrowing shower of viscera.
Nadia yowled, narrowly avoiding getting splattered, as she clambered back into the control room. “Holy hell! Can't a girl cat-ch a break?” She grinned hopefully at Nero and Raidou, but neither laughed. Her face fell. “Aww, come on.”
Raidou blinked. “Er. It was good,” he tried to reassure her, his voice less than convincing.
All around them, the matter composing the gore nest was breaking down. In a nearby hallway, a chunk of flesh fell down to expose the second Sentinel crystal. Nero, however, was more concerned with the warnings scrolling across the various screens. “Uh, guys?” He motioned his head toward the big monitor. It read MELTDOWN IMMINENT
. “Maybe we ought to get going.”
An explosion shook the facility, and the three took to their heels.