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Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Neuron HQ

Lvl 12 (122/110) -> Lvl 12 (124/110)

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

Word Count: 797 words

With support from Sandalphon, along with Goldlewis and Karin joining their advance, the two Wolves found their prey. Every opportunity to take a swing at one of Jena's was carefully measured and taken advantage of when it was safe. Geralt found that Quen quickly became invaluable, while Zenkichi relied on dodging, blocking, and his vampirism to survive the barrage of slams that the overdosed monstrosity sent their way after Heavenly Wings' retreat. When the floating arms separated, moving to each end of the platform they found themselves upon, Geralt moved, with Zenkichi a moment behind him. Geralt managed to run clear of the blast radius with time to spare, but Zenkichi found himself forced to attempt to dodge at the last moment. He took a dive, his feet just barely clearing the tips of Apotheosis's fingers, but before the Phantom Thief could breathe a sigh of relief, an explosion of lightning rang out, sending him tumbling onto his rear.

"Well that coulda gone better..." He grumbled, standing up, only to see the main body of their enemy approaching, one hand on each side of the platform they were standing on.

"Don't like the look of that..." Geralt mumbled, just before Jena Apotheosis unleashed a barrage of lightning projectiles, each summoning a bolt of electricity upon making contact with their platform. Geralt found himself unable to dodge very well, instead focusing on a Quen bubble to stave off as much damage as he could, while Zenkichi danced around lightning blasts like a man 15 years younger, though the look on his face betrayed the effort it took. His Public Security training was paying off well, at least. Jena still wasn't done, taking out a huge chunk of their platform with a hammer blow from one of her fists, and the Seekers took advantage of the close proximity, Geralt, Goldlewis and Zenkichi drawing their ranged weapons and sending out a fusillade of their own at the limb.

The next attacks proved a devastating combo from the chimera. Area control in the form of flames, the explosion from the follow-up hammer blow, all powerful attacks in their own right, but a distraction for what was coming next: the gravity blast that sent everybody flying. Geralt had managed to leap from the platform, but had a harsh landing on a different platform, which was quite a ways down from where they'd been. Zenkichi, meanwhile, had been launched much like Goldlewis had, though his landing was the smoothest of the three, as he got quite a bit of horizontal distance thanks to the reduced gravity, and managed to stab his greatsword into a smaller platform and catch himself.

While Jena wasn't looking too hot, with those glaring red cracks in her monstrous floating arms, the Seekers were getting pummeled. Her size, ranged attacks, and area of effects made taking a hit inevitable, meaning that they were stuck in a lethal arms race. A look around told both Geralt and Zenkichi that they weren't the only ones in this situation, though, as Neuron troops, Reunion's own forces, and a third party that Zenkichi could only vaguely recognize waged war round them. "Oh...oh man this is really bad... Zenkichi groaned, his breaths coming in fast and heavy, while Geralt shook his head in disappointment.

Midgar, as it was, wouldn't last much longer. A lot of things were breaking, and it was hard to tell what would be left standing when the dust settled. To make things even more tense, of course, came Rufus Shinra and Consul Y, in what even Geralt could tell was an aerial vehicle of simply comical proportions. Less a helicopter and more a flying fortress, the Alpha took the fight directly to Jena, launching missiles and cannons at her, before managing to dodge one of her gravity beams with a lateral thrust that looked like something straight out of a mecha anime.

Thankfully, though, the presence of the massive airship meant that the Seekers could take a much-deserved rest, as much as the mad scramble they began towards the helicopter Giovanna and Penance were commandeering far below them could be considered a rest. Jumping, sprinting, and dodging firefights on the way down, the Seekers quickly made their way to their allies, packing into the helicopter with weary sighs.

"Man, what a day..." Zenkichi yawned as he sat down, exhaustion creeping into his bones as the adrenaline faded.

"Think Neuron will still be standing come morning?" Geralt asked, looking up and trying to keep his stomach calm.

"Hm? Oh, yeah, no way Shinra and that giant flying death machine won't clean this up, especially not after the beating we gave Jena. I just...what the hell has to happen to you to willingly become...that?" He wondered aloud, frowning.
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Neuron HQ

Lvl 12 (121/100) -> Lvl 12 (122/110)

Lvl 5 Zenkichi - (49/50) -> Lvl 5 (50/50)

Word Count: 704 words

In the end, it was neither Karin, Geralt, nor Goldlewis that brought Penance back to her senses with a Friend Heart. No, it was Giovanna, who sprinted to her former associate's rescue after witnessing Roland's fatal takedown of the Judge. When Karin brought her to the brink, which in hindsight meant they'd focused more of their efforts on Penance than was strictly necessary, the SOU agent came around and rescued her, saving her from a similarly tragic fate. "Thanks," Geralt breathed, for a moment letting the weariness he was feeling show, before he steeled himself once more. "Been a long night."

Zenkichi, meanwhile, was disheartened to see that his desperate gambit proved fruitless, even though he did see that flinch! "Oh, come on! That is so not fair!" He complained, struggling to keep himself from being sucked into the vortex and probably annihilation. However, just as one of Y's Neuron lackeys was about to take a shot at Zenkichi, in what could only be described as profane intervention, Jena directed one of her subordinates to rescue him. Perhaps she recognized that the Seekers were her best bet at fighting Y and keeping him distracted. Perhaps she had even further ulterior motives. But whatever the reason, in that moment, Jena Anderson saved Zenkichi Hasegawa's life.

Man, that was awkward. Even more awkward was the realization that yes, that vortex would have simply annihilated him, and yes, he was a gigantic idiot for walking up to this guy without a care in the world. The others could mock him later, for now he needed to not die. The next few moments were sort of a blur. All Zenkichi saw as he tried to regain himself was Y disappear, reappear behind Jena and her allies, and suck one of them up.

Then came the black hole. Thankfully, it was more of an abstraction of one, given that an actual black hole opening up would have killed everybody here. Unfortunately, it still hurt like hell, and the Seekers found themselves crashing into one another, elbows and limbs and sheathed weapons slapping each other in the face, sides, and gut. When the gravity well vanished, they were all left to pick themselves up, though they didn't even have much time for that, given what Jena had done. Again. What was with this lady and injecting horrifying body horror-creating substances into herself?

It only took a moment. From mutated woman, to weird singularity of energy, to...

"OH NOT THIS SHIT AGAIN!" Zenkichi wailed, head on his hands. It was the Demiurge, all over again! And if the other Phantom Thieves were to believed, it was the Demiurge all over again, all over again!

"What are you babbling about?" Geralt grunted, sighing a little as Sandalphon's healing wave washed over him.

"Last bad guy me and the Thieves took down was a lot like this. A false god. Just, big, kind of alien-looking thing. Huge bodied, sorta disembodied arms, the whole shebang. It was...a lot." Stretching his back a little, Zenkichi looked up at Jena, shaking his head. "Nothing we can't handle, I'm sure."

Geralt nodded, drawing silver. He'd save the Hateful Flesh for when it was really necessary, given the bloody toll it took on him. Zenkichi drew his own sword, and the pair began their ascent towards the monstrosity that was once Jena Anderson. The Protolegions in their way were no match for the pair, and with fire support from the others, they reached their target fairly quickly. Even as more Protolegions tried to swarm them, Zenkichi held the monsters at bay while Geralt revealed a new trick he'd learned: a dozen Abyssal fliers appearing as if from nowhere and zipping towards Jena's right hand, guns flashing from the fighters, bombers gunning straight for her. Jena managed to swipe nearly two-thirds of the bombing flight away with a swat of her hand, but this left her open to the rest, and also brought her hand dangerously closer to the Sekeers.

"Now!" Geralt yelled, and he took chance, blade flashing at the floating appendage, Zenkichi joining him as soon as he was sure their backs were clear for a moment.
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Neuron HQ

Lvl 12 (220/100) -> Lvl 12 (121/110)

Lvl 5 Zenkichi - (48/50) -> Lvl 5 (49/50)

Word Count: 484 words

Gritting his teeth and powering through each retaliatory strike from Penance's thorn barrier, Geralt breathed a small sigh of relief when Karin joined to assist, followed by Goldlewis once they'd been healed by Sandalphon. The second barrier proved to be much more difficult to manage than the first, given that it also gave the Judge a massive boost to her physical damage output and even her attack speed. Even the ATG Missile launcher on his shoulder did manage to activate, launching a powerful missile at point-blank range into Penance for 300% of the damage of the katana swing that triggered it, but all that did was speed up how quickly she activated what seemed to be her trump card.

Lifting her book into the air, Penance sent out waves of magical energy along the floor, the first catching him by surprise and forcing a grunt of pain out of his mouth as the thorns dug into his legs, but Geralt had the same idea as Goldlewis and jumped over the next wave, proving they could be dodged. Carefully timing his actions, Geralt waited for another wave of thorns to go out before acting. He jumped this one as well, and upon landing, drew the Sign of Igni in the air, concentrating the wave of flames into its more focused, deadly form to wear away and Penance quickly. His concentration, however, meant that he was unable to dodge the next wave of thorns, and as the pain wracked him, the Sign winked out of existence, and Geralt shook from the damage.

"Damn, that stings!" he called. "We've gotta get her back on our side!" He warned Karin and Goldlewis, before taking a deep breath and charging back in, sword flashing. They'd just have to wear her down enough for one of them to pull out a Friend Heart. At the very least, he could provide a little support. "Judicator, keep us alive!" He called, summoning the eldritch monstrosity that was his Striker. The thing began its self-flagellation, giving Geralt and his nearby allies some relief from their wounds. It wouldn't outpace the thorns if they just stood there, but as long as the three of them stayed mobile, they would be alright.

Zenkichi, meanwhile, was already having trouble. He had no idea what would happen if he got pulled in close to Yoseph, but he knew it could only be bad. He slammed his sword into the surface of the helipad as hard as he could, hanging on for dear life. "AAaaaAAaaaAAAAHHHH!!!!" He screamed, trying to keep his feet under him even as he felt the Consul's power pulling him in. "Could use a...little help over here!!!" He cried out to whoever would listen. "Valjean!!! Shoot him!!!" Zenkichi begged, prompting his Persona to appear and unleash a One-shot kill directly at the Consul, which might hopefully get him out of this mess.
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Neuron HQ

Lvl 12 (218/100) -> Lvl 12 (220/100)

Lvl 5 Zenkichi - (46/50) -> Lvl 5 (48/50)

Word Count: 950 words

The combined forces of the Seekers proved to be more than enough to fell the Homunculus, with Karin delivering the fatal blow from on high boosted by a line from her grappling hook. With the threat defeated, they all took a moment to breathe, stretching and relaxing, thought it didn't last. Within a minute, Giovanna returned via cargobob, urging the group to climb aboard, even Penance and Vigil. Zenkichi and Geralt climbed aboard, the massive Witcher having to stoop extra low, though Goldlewis suffered similarly.

"It's a General Affairs reunion!" Zenkichi joked, though he wondered how Benedict was doing at the moment. Hopefully he wouldn't get caught up in everything that was happening, and just found a good place to lay low and keep his head down.

The flight over was a bit tense, not due to their company, but the situation. Geralt took the time to take mental stock of the situation. In as many days, he'd gone berserk twice and had seriously harmed Goldlewis. With Blazermate on the team, the physical damage had been healed, but he could tell that whatever trust the large man had held was gone. Not that he blamed him, from his perspective Geralt must have looked like a deranged berserker. Most of the people here, in fact, had never met him before his fusion with the Orphan's Spirit. Only Blazermate had. They'd met up with Karin and Susie shortly after defeating the Guardian, and the rest had joined the crew here in Midgar (though some of the other Seekers had met Goldlewis earlier from what he remembered). They didn't know just how different this was from his usual behavior, and his explanation was likely seen as either an excuse or with less concern than it likely ought to have been. And given Blazermate's go-with-the-flow nature...

Only Geralt understood just how disturbing this was. He was used to being in control of himself and his emotions, not the other way around. He wasn't as emotionless as he often claimed, but even at his angriest, he never recalled losing control like he had. What Goldlewis said about fusing with another Spirit might be right, though...he'd have to try to find something to make this work. For now, however, he just had to do his best to keep his head on straight.

As they began their descent, the extent of Reunion's attack on Neuron became clear. It was like there was an army down there, laying siege to the HQ. As the cargobob began its descent, they could see a few figures arguing. Jena and her lackeys were quite clear to them, and though Geralt didn't recognize the others, Zenkichi's mouth flattened as he recognized Yoseph, the other Consul that Happy Chaos had mentioned. "That's Yoseph, the other consul that Chaos guy mentioned." He pointed out for the others. "If he was right and they're all phenomenally powerful, we're in for a beating..." He grumbled. And then Jena seemed to transform, making his eyebrows shoot up. "That...is definitely not normal..." Zenkichi muttered upon seeing what she changed into. It...she's not aberrated but she definitely just transformed..." Safe to say, he was stumped.

Geralt leapt from the cargobob after Goldlewis, Quen already cast and protecting him, and Zenkichi awkwardly dropped out of the helicopter last, rolling poorly with the impact and quickly stumbling up to his feet, suppressing a groan of pain from his old body. Unfortunately, he wasn't really given a moment to let the ache disappear, as Y took the initiative to brainwash the Neuron officers, Penance, and Vigil to defend him while Jena and her bodyguards sprung into action. Goldlewis blocked the opening fire from Vigil, while Sandalphon found herself quickly disarmed by Penance, while Jena attacked Y with backup from Mephisto and Faust, the Howard twins moving to protect the Consul.

"Dammit!" Geralt grumbled as he drew the lightning katana he'd gotten from Monsoon, moving to protect Sandalphon alongside Roland, while Zenkichi summoned his greatsword and called out for Valjean.

"Rakukaja!" The Phantom Thief yelled, granting Sandalphon a defense boost for about a minute, before he ran in to get Vigil's attention. The battlefield got pretty hectic pretty quickly, with Susie trying to pull Vigil's attention onto herself while Blazermate retrieved Sandalphon's staff. When Vigil started attacking Susie in her mechsuit and Roland came round to cover her, Zenkichi broke off that fight and started moving for their real target, Consul Y. Jena being in the mix was a bonus, but these guys were bad news. "So...good to get confirmation you can only control the Gleaming." Zenkichi said as he approached carefully. "Because otherwise you could've just turned them on us." While he wasn't exactly expecting an answer, he would give Y a moment to respond before trying anything further.

Geralt, meanwhile, was working on whittling Penance down, with and without Roland. Her weapon being a flail made her a particularly annoying opponent, as it was effectively impossible to parry without risking his sword being yanked. Even with the lightning coating it, he didn't want to risk being disarmed as Sandalphon had. This resulted in him taking a lot of hits that he did his best to mitigate by dodging into, giving the chain less time to transfer momentum to the flail's head. He swiped at Penance's arms quite a bit, using the superior range granted by his size to his advantage. The Judge was proving to be one hell of an opponent though, and the Witcher found himself relieved when Blazermate returned Sandalphon's staff finally and he received a quick heal from the angelic figure, letting him refocus on offense.
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Quarantine Valley- Empty Lot

Lvl 10 (215/100) -> Lvl 10 (218/100)

Lvl 5 Zenkichi - (43/50) -> Lvl 5 (46/50)

Word Count: 1,380 words

As the last of the Protolegions fell, Geralt's question was answered once the issue of how Penance and Vigil planned to deal with them was resolved. Given the state of Midgar, which was apparently even worse if yet another Other attack occurred almost simultaneously with the Redshift Cascade, it was a temporary peace. And she was right, they had much bigger things to worry about.

Such as Jena Anderson appearing right in front of them, ready to gloat like a supervillain. Zenkichi just shoved his hands in his pockets as he looked up at the woman, a frown on his face. Geralt, on the other hand, scowled fiercely. That she seemed to think they were on the Administration's side was almost laughable, though given that about half their group was currently or formerly in the employ or service of Midgar, it wasn't like she was barking up the wrong tree. They had all worked for the city, and Zenkichi and Roland still definitely did, even if the former's position was...more tenuous than the latter's at the moment.

Zenkichi bristled when Jena named Konoe directly and called him blind to their machinations, but he remained silent. If she really thought this little of them, they might be able to use that to their advantage somehow. She was clearly much more out of the loop than the Hermits were regarding the Seekers' true intentions in Midgar.

Even with Goldlewis cutting in and trying to lecture a mass murdering terrorist (Zenkichi had firmly come to that conclusion once they'd learned the true consequences of Blue Evolve and Jena's murder of Iron to try and cover it up), Jena still just moralized and monologued from her high horse. As if she hadn't just doomed people to their deaths with this Redshift Cascade.

She did, however, inform them of some current events by kindly showing them Major General Karen's broadcast and cry for revolution. He was laying it on a bit thick at the start, Geralt thought, but he was destroying any semblance of remaining trust people had in the Administration of the city by admitting that the organization he was among the leadership of was murdering citizens and turning them into monsters. Stoking their anger first, then giving that anger a direction to go, was a pretty typical tactic when you wanted to get people killed. Karen was just doing it all at once, unlike some people he knew from the Continent when it came to non-humans.

Zenkichi, on the other hand, was taking it a bit harder. He'd heard what the other Seekers reported on about the OSF from the raid they'd snuck into, he saw the e-mail directing him to let DespoRHado take the fall for 'allowing' the Machines to attack Sector 7 rather than let General Affairs be blamed, but learning that at least one person inside Neuron was working directly with Reunion, and now the OSF was launching a rebellion? It was like nothing had changed. But he didn't have the other Phantom Thieves this time. No Joker. No Skull. No Oracle, no Queen, no Fox or Sophie or Noir to help. Just Wolf. Just Gramps. And she had the audacity to ask them to help her?!

"You're a monster." Zenkichi forced through clenched teeth. "I've met some real pieces of work in my day, but you're a heartless monster, Anderson. Willing to crush whoever gets in your way on your self-righteous quest to be a hero. You're just like Konoe! No better than him and the people you condemn!!!" He yelled, pointing a finger accusingly.

Geralt wasn't entirely a fan of the words that Zenkichi chose, having heard them directed at himself more than a few times, but...he didn't entirely disagree. This woman was cold and callous. Everything she did, every life she snuffed out, was just a means to an end to her. Maybe she genuinely wanted to help by toppling the Administration. But given what she was willing to do to achieve that goal...he didn't give a damn. Djikstra wanted to help the Northern Realms, too. And Geralt killed him for much lesser crimes.

The offer was soundly and unanimously rejected, thankfully. As the Seekers each got in their piece, Jena tried to rebut, only to be cut off by a gunstaff shot to the face, prompting a quick shootout between Sandalphon and one of Anderson's lackeyes. It went nowhere, ultimately, being interrupted by something much, much worse.

A giant Chimera. That they could all see this one was lucky, but that did raise some other questions that they'd have to ask later.

Zenkichi immediately drew his standard greatsword and rushed in. The Closing Statement was strong, but he had a feeling he'd want to be able to block for this fight, even if it wouldn't be nearly enough to stop all the damage. He was quick to buff Goldlewis with Tarukaja when he whipped out his minigun, expecting the attack buff to serve best with the rapid shots it was putting out. As soon as he reached the Homunculus, he began his attacks in earnest. He didn't have much, aside from Valjean's various spells and attacks, that would do a whole lot of burst damage, but thanks to the Homonculus's huge size, slowish attacks, and his vampiric attacks, Zenkichi could sustain a steady output of damage like few others. He, of course, did have Valjean drop a Megidola or two, along with a One-Shot Kill and a Deathbound during the fight, but for the most part, Zenkichi stuck to moving between the planted limbs of the Homunculus and providing a steady stream of rather serious physical damage.

Geralt, meanwhile, was a fair mix of burst and sustained damage. Starting with an application of Quen to protect himself from a stray tree-trunk sized limb, he began his work carving into the monster with the Hateful Flesh after tossing a flesh grenade into its face, hoping to temporarily stun the thing. It didn't quite work as well as he'd hoped, but it certainly couldn't have been pleasant. When he felt Blazermate's kritz on him, however, that changed. Geralt took a deep breath as the power flowed through him, and he took a brief look around. Nobody was particularly close to him, but even still, he called out as the Hateful Flesh became wreathed in Eldritch Lightning: "STAY BACK A SECOND!"

And, in a technique that no sane man would ever attempt, he raised the fleshbound cleaver above his head and began to spin. The first spin took the blade through one of the Homunculus' legs, and as the second finished he launched the cleaver away from his body and into the monster's arm. Retracting the blade, he turned yet again, using the angular momentum to carve a furrow into the Chimera's leg. The Flesh continued on its path, noisily dragging along the ground, and Geralt spun once more, taking the Orphan's cleaver in both hands and tossing it upwards and into the thing's torso. The Homunculus reacted by leaping up into the air to crash land onto Geralt, forcing the Witcher to leap out of the way, the last seconds of the Kritz lost as Geralt saved his own skin.

The fighters continued their carnage, Geralt throwing in a sustained stream of Igni to burn away at the thing's skin while Zenkichi tried to stab his sword into the superheated flesh, but this thing was proving to be quite the tough customer, even with the Strikers Monsoon and Zero coming in to help with hit-and-run strikes.

When its head open up, like some kind of disgusting fleshy flower, Geralt found himself unable to get out of the way of the incoming beam of force, while Zenkichi was lucky enough to be situated well out of the line of fire. The sheer force of the laser and the explosion it caused sent Geralt rolling along the ground with his magical shield gone, Quen not having been enough to protect him fully from the blow. Blazermate's healing beam was quick to top him back up, but she had more than just one person to focus on, so Geralt quickly returned to the fray to keep chipping away at the Chimera...if that was what it really was.
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Quarantine Valley- Redshift Cascade

Lvl 10 (213/100) -> Lvl 10 (215/100)

Lvl 5 Zenkichi - (41/40) -> Lvl 5 (43/50)

Word Count: 751 words

Zenkichi almost had some more choice words for Kyle as he slumped, defeated at what was admittedly a major setback to the Hermits' plans. But then he noticed the condition the rooftop was in. And the air around them. And the magically appearing crystals, as if from another dimension tearing itself into this one.

Part of Zenkichi begged that his eyes were deceiving him. The other part of him wondered if he'd already gone mad. Either way, a Redshift Cascade was the last thing they needed now, and the giant Chimera that was its herald was a great sign to book it. Sandalphon marked where Geralt and Hal were at the moment with a quick shot from on high, and Zenkichi started running. He gave a quick look back to make sure the others weren't going to try to make some stupid heroic stand, but other than that, his attention was on where they needed to be, not what they needed to get away from.

Geralt, meanwhile, didn't need to be told twice that there was nothing he could do. Something of this scale was well beyond any of their capabilities, and he focused on chasing down Iron. He paid very little attention to the admittedly odd light show near the border with Detroit, focusing on the task at hand. The short distraction of Diomedes thankfully being brutalized by Sandalphon kept that distraction to a minimum, as well, though Geralt drew the Hateful Flesh once more to quickly put an end to it. He wasn't sure how much more often he could pull that out, with each time drawing more blood from him, so for now he carried the monstrous weapon with him as he ran. With his Orphan-enhanced strength, it was a simple enough task.

When he finally managed to reach the room Iron had holed up in, Geralt sighed. Just a little too late. Learning that a runner for Reunion worked for Neuron was...admittedly not all that surprising, once Geralt ran the information through his head. Neuron fought Chimeras. Reunion made the drug that let normal people do that, though with predictable but, apparently, poorly-anticipated results. Was this a well-intentioned person trying to give the common people a chance to fight back against the invisible threat that plagued them? Or an unscrupulous alchemist seeking riches for offering a weapon the government could use? He wasn't sure, and now, it seemed it didn't much matter. They'd have to get their answers from somebody else.

"Man, just what the hell were these guys up to...? And Neuron too?" The newly-arrived Zenkichi asked.

"That's what we're gonna find out." Geralt decided. "Not sure I care much what their goals or intentions were. That crap killed people."

"Yeah, we gotta make sure they don't keep spreading that Blue Evolve stuff, or we're gonna have a lot more Abberations on our hands..." Zenkichi muttered in reply, before the group heard a series of gunshots. "Crap!"

As they headed to the sounds of the gunshots, Zenkichi skid to a stop as his hair raised on seeing the Judge. Penance, huh? Great. Totally not a horrible sign about how not quiet the Seekers had been. Still, at least Roland might be able to make some peace with his boss.

"Wait, those...don't look quite like Chimeras." Zenkichi said as he got a better look at the Protolegions. "Ya know what, not gonna question it." He decided, drawing Closing Statement and running in to join the fight.

Geralt, meanwhile, head already leapt into the fray, taking on a Protolegion with the Hateful Flesh, using the explosive blobs of flesh to stun it for a moment as he came in swinging.

The Seekers did a fairly good job of assisting one another, with Susie coming in to slam and stomp at Geralt's enemy, while Zenkichi assisted Roland in fighting a group of them. When the other Turk found himself off-balance, not only did Susie come in for the assist, but he drew his revolver and dumped a few rounds into it, forcing the Protolegion back onto him as he called Valjean to drop a Triple Down into a pair of the monsters.

Geralt used the Orphan's flesh cleaver to great effect, and once he wore the Protolegion down, he finished it with a heavy slicing blow, slicing the monster's arm from its body and dissolving it into ash. As the fighting died down, he turned to the others. "Alright, Where to now?"
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Midgar- Quarantine Valley

Lvl 10 (210/100) -> Lvl 10 (213/100)

Lvl 4 Zenkichi - (78/40) -> Lvl 5 (41/50)

Word Count: 1,454 words

New Power for Zenkichi: Megidola- A powerful spell which deals Heavy unresistable Almighty magic damage to a wide area.

Geralt was somewhat pleasantly surprised, in that Goldlewis didn't dismiss his apology and explanation as an excuse. He offered his own perspective as to a way to deal with the issue, that being a more serious version of his sarcastic response: fusing with someone or something. They'd met plenty of people with strange abilities in the World of Light, so perhaps someone would possess a way to calm or shield his mind from the Orphan's influence. In a city filled with actual psychics, they may yet find a way. Roland also offered a few words of encouragement, to which Geralt gave an appreciative nod, but for now, the issue remained unsolved.

They didn't have far to go before finding another Gate out of this strange dimension, as well as their target, collapsed on the ground. As they approached, though, the Seekers found themselves greeted by a titanic Chimera that dropped from the sky behind them. Geralt and Zenkichi wasted no time in running, as Hal's scooped up their quarry and charged with them through the Gate.

Once on the other side, Hal let Iron down gently, and the woman began mumbling about things going wrong. Zenkichi couldn't hold back a distasteful look, but when she mentioned that she'd lost her briefcase, his eyes widened. That could be bad if somebody found it.

Of course, somebody else did find it. The Hermits. Sighing, Zenkichi watched them warily, though he was glad to at least see a rational human being and not an Other, a ghost lady, or murder robot. At least they could be reasoned with.

Scratch that, they couldn't be reasoned with. "Gotta be kidding me..." Geralt muttered, and Zenkichi couldn't help but agree. He wasn't naive enough to assume that both groups having beef with the Administration would make them friends, but they'd literally just made contact with these guys and they were already turning on them? What was this, some video game speedrun to betray your allies?

They knew the Hermits knew that you didn't just "hand over" Spirits. Sure, Zenkichi had a few on hand, but he got the feeling it wouldn't be enough. It never was. The Hermits all took a dose of Blue Evolve, which was sure to make even the weakest among them somewhat of a threat. Unfortunately for the Hermits, however, things didn't pan out quite the way they'd expected. Rather than making them stronger, the Blue Evolve caused them to double over in pain. Upon seeing that, a pit opened in Zenkichi's gut, and he imagined the other Midgarians felt the same.

The only way to fight a Chimera was to be exposed to red matter, a dose close enough to near abberration, or have a Legion. Maybe part of him had foolishly believed that this drug had something to do with the secretive chained monsters that Neuron employed, but no...no, that would be too easy, wouldn't it?

As the Hermits began transforming into Abberrations, Iron panicked and started to run for it. Geralt wasted no time in breaking from the group and beckoning Hal's drone after him, needing to rely on the machine to keep him away from pockets of red matter. Zenkichi, on the other hand, stayed with the group and sighed.

"Hey, Kyle. You know everything about this city, right? That means you know what us Turks are capable of. I wanna be mad, but...man, you really must've been desperate. And look what it earned you. Power's not some shortcut to getting your goals, you idiot. It takes cultivation, effort. Even Shinra knows that. Did you not expect this stuff to have side effects?!" His piece said, Zenkichi drew his sword, the simple greatsword he'd started out with.

"For what it's worth, I'm sorry. Valjean...Megidola." As he spoke the command, Valjean summoned a series of balls of energy, even more than Megido created, among the Abberrated Hermits. The spheres seemed to glow and vibrate with magical energy, and from them erupted a series of beams of light, striking the Hermits around them before vanishing with the balls of energy.

With the Abberrations off guard from the powerful magical attack, Zenkichi leapt in and howled as he activated his Fury, swinging his sword at the closest weakened mutant and cleaving through them, the wave of energy that burst forth from his blade striking the one behind the deceased Abberration. It didn't stumble or stop, charging to swing its weapon at Zenkichi, who stood there and took the blow, bringing his sword down in a brutal overhead swing that crushed the Hermit beneath it. He followed up with a wide horizontal swing to catch a couple more Hermits with the energy beam before he cancelled the Fury and drew his revolvers, his sword disappearing.

Backpedaling, Zenkichi squeezed off a dozen shots in rapid succession, gunning down another pair of mutated Hermits that had been weakened by his opening attack and recovering most of his lost vitality in the process. It was bittersweet, to see the red, glitchy Spirits they left behind as they died. It meant there was nothing that could be done for those poor folks. They were already dead, for all intents and purposes. He was just...making sure their bodies realized it.

What a dreadful day this had been, Zenkichi thought idly as he shoved his revolvers into their holsters and drew his sword again, blocking the blow from an Abberrated Hermit, before he pushed them off with his sword and started slashing away at them, dodging out of the way of a clumsily thrown attack. So much death, so much pain.

Damn this city, Zenkichi thought as he cut down yet another Hermit, his breaths starting to come heavier from the effort.

Damn this city. Geralt thought as he burst through the doorway into the apartment complex Iron had run into. Somebody turned to look at him, but seemed to think better of saying anything as he ran through the hallway and out the back door, catching a glimpse of the woman they'd been looking for running along the rooftop. "Dammit, woman, we're trying to help you!" He called out after her, not really expecting it to convince her, but more to say that he'd tried. Not particularly hard, mind you, but he'd tried.

She kept running, and Geralt gave chase, even as a people gave him wary looks as he ran by, one person even drawing a weapon and backing away a bit, but the Witcher paid them no mind. Iron had the advantage of knowing the area, and she used that advantage well, keeping ahead of the much faster Geralt by squeezing into a small thruway between two buildings that cost Geralt precious time to work his way around, his massive frame far too large, especially in armor, to squeeze through. Hal didn't have too much trouble keeping up, simply having his drone float around or over obstacles, though he did have to warn Geralt away from a building Iron tried to trick him into entering. From his vantage point, the drone saw her duck inside the entrance and climb out a window, while Geralt didn't have the luxury to wait and sniff out her path.

Drawn out by the commotion, Geralt turned a corner and found himself face-to-face with a trio of Abberrations, each with their arms terminating into a sword-like appendage, which they tried to swarm him with. Geralt simply snarled as he pulled the Hateful Flesh from his body, not in the mood for nonsense. He caught a sword swing with the cleaver, the two weapons sliding along one another, and kicked out the monster's knee before decapitating it violently. He whirled the eldritch weapon over his head and launched it at one of the remaining Abberrations, which dodged out of the way as its fellow charged in.

Pulling the weapon back, Geralt sidestepped a stab from the mutated monster and returned the favor with a punch to the face. It managed to daze the creature, giving him enough time to heft the Hateful Flesh and bring it from the side and into the thing's torso, butchering it quickly. As the final one landed a slash along his armor, Geralt turned and cast the Sign of Igni, bathing it in flames and stunning the Abberration. As a finishing blow, he took the Hateful Flesh and slammed it into the Abberration, knocking it back with enough force that the landing, rather than the attack itself, finished it off.

Stowing the Orphan's weapon back inside him, Geralt looked around quickly before taking off in the direction of Hal's drone, conveniently hovering right outside yet another building. They wouldn't let Iron get away that easily.
Geralt of Rivia

Midgar- Quarantine Valley

Lvl 10 (208/100) -> Lvl 10 (210/100)

Word Count: 1,161 words (Geralt)

Geralt watched the Spirit that the Chimera left warily. It was his first time seeing one up close, and he was not particularly interested in messing with it, so he left the thing for anybody else to claim. There was a difference between making a calculated decision, like absorbing the Orphan, and messing with obviously tainted material, and Geralt had seen enough cursed beings to know he wasn't willing to take the chance here.

As Hal arrived and performed a closer scan, Geralt frowned as a portal into whatever dimension the Chimeras hailed from appeared. Both the drone and his sense of smell confirmed the worst-case scenario: Iron had gone into it, and they'd have to follow. "Gotta be kidding me. Too many portals with you people," he grumbled, shaking his head. Nonetheless, he entered with Goldlewis. Rather than an instant transition, it felt as though there was a delay between entering the gate and arriving on the other side, and Geralt took a slow, deep breath to settle his stomach. "Dammit..." He muttered, taking a moment to recollect himself.

When he really got a look at where they ended up, he sighed. This place was entirely foreign, almost hostile, in its existence. Strange, unnatural-looking geometric shapes which would normally betray something created by people. Here...he had no idea if it was natural or not.

Hal managed to pick something up in the same direction Iron's scent headed off to, but there was simply no way for Geralt or Goldlewis to traverse the empty chasm between them and the next platforms. This resulted in Goldlewis calling for backup, though Geralt was concerned about those who would enter, given that they had no way of fighting the Chimeras, while he and Goldlewis had barely split half a dose of Blue Evolve between them. Still, it was necessary, and Blazermate, Susie and Karin quickly activated a way ahead for them. Odd that such a solution existed in the first place, though it might have been a defense mechanism for landlocked Chimeras to activate as they headed to the gate, then closed behind them by others to prevent counter-invasion. He wasn't certain of their mental faculties, but it would be unwise to underestimate them.

With some relatively simple platforming out of the way, especially for a Witcher, the Seekers found themselves in an open area, with plenty of room to maneuver around, when they were met with a group of strange individuals that looked similarly alien, though in a different way, appearing before them. While Zenkichi and Roland bantered a bit and went to attack the interlopers, Geralt and Goldlewis had their attention drawn by a trio of flying Chimeras appearing to attack. There wasn't terribly much they could do against aerial opponents thanks to the limitations of the drug, though Geralt had an idea to try and ground them. Waiting for one to swoop in and claw at him, he stood firm and drew the Sign of Aard, a burst of telekinetic force slamming into the Aello and staggering it. With the little he'd taken, it wasn't quite enough to knock it out of the sky, but it was thrown off-balance enough for Geralt to grab on of its legs.

Even with its mobility suddenly arrested, the Aello recovered quickly, clawing at Geralt's face, while the Witcher grunted and slammed it into the ground, stunning it for a moment. He dropped onto the Chimera, simultaneously ducking under a charging swipe of another's talons, and he dug his own claws into the monster's chest, raking them outwards and dealing a bit of damage, though the attack was noticeably less effective than it ought to have been. "Damn things!" Geralt complained, punching the Aello in the face and receiving a claw to his own in retaliation. Following up, the Chimera's leg snuck between the two of their bodies, though rather than going for what might have been the obvious move to some, it instead pushed against Geralt's chest with its foot, pushing the Witcher off of it and lifting itself back into the air.

As it rose, Geralt heard a screech from behind and turned, drawing his silver sword in time to catch another of the aerial monster's claws on the flat of the blade, holding the attack back as the one he'd been fighting crashed into his back, its talon scraping along his armor and breaking the deadlock between him and the other Aello, allowing its taloned foot to rake along his face, sending a spray of blood to the floor.

"Enough!" Geralt screeched, and plunged his hand into his body, tearing free the Hateful Flesh and spinning it in a wide, destructive circle around him, with no concern for where Goldlewis had wound up. The Eldritch weapon's effectiveness against enemies incomprehensible applied, and the fact that it was a part of Geralt allowed it to actually harm the Chimeras rather well. The Aello that had just scratched his face flew up, springing off his shoulders, but the one on his back was not quite as lucky, and the literal meat cleaver crashed into it, knocking it from the air once more, stunned and delirious.

Geralt whirled on the downed monster, leaping in the air with a guttural yell, landing in front of the Chimera and bringing the fleshy weapon overhead with the power of his weight and centripetal force on its side, crushing the Aello and slaughtering it brutally. As he rose, the other Chimera dove in, kicking diagonally at Geralt with each of its claws. The Witcher drew from the orphan's weapon a bloody clump of explosive tissue, throwing it directly at the aerial monster and stunning it before dragging the Hateful Flesh along the floor, sparks flying from where the siderite edge met the inorganic floor, and the eldritch weapon crashed into the Aello in a savage uppercut, launching it into the air before it crashed into the ground.

Geralt manically charged the Chimera as it struggled to rise from the floor, but between his bloodlust and enhanced strength and speed, the Witcher was faster. He hefted the cleaver like a guillotine, and slammed it down to execute the monster. Lifting his head and looking for the last Chimera, Geralt started to calm when he saw Goldlewis finish it off, before the adrenaline started to fade and he realized what had happened. "Fuck." He cursed, forcing himself to take a deep breath. "Lost control again..." He admitted, storing the Hateful Flesh back in his torso. It was...odd...how natural that seemed to him. Obviously the influence of the Orphan of Kos's Spirit, but nonetheless bizarre.

Stepping away from the others, Geralt sniffed the air to try and find Iron's scent trail again, though if Goldlewis tried to confront him about his recklessness, he wouldn't ignore the man. He hadn't totally lost control like in the subway tunnels, but he'd definitely not taken the care he should have.
Geralt of Rivia & Zenkichi Hasegawa

Quarantine Valley- Sector V

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quarantine Valley- Sector V

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

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

Word Count: 1,588 words

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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