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~ 27 Years Old.
~ Enjoys all sorts of settings, and genres. Fandom and Original. Loves writing combat, and sappy stuff.
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LOCATION: Sandswept Sky - Al Mamoon
WORD COUNT: 584 (+1, +65CollabEXP/Reward)

Having woken up to witness the end to the Resistance, Mao was pleased enough to not find his sleeping space torn to pieces by Aurox, and instead generally in one piece. When it came to the Resistance proper, he felt good about the result. In the end, what he wanted accomplished came to pass, and he wasn't going to pursue anyone afterwards. They could live their lives, he'd instead focus on something higher. Literally, as he sat upon a rooftop and stared at his latest target on the horizon. He'd spent most of his night after splitting from Jesse actually putting everything he'd learned together, trying to make sense of it all. But in the end, it mostly just seemed like madness that he'd have to endure to get his home back. Not that it was too much of a problem, things were getting pretty cozy back home with his reign anyways; This was just another ordeal to keep him sharp.

Having lounged around long enough, Mao made a quick descent before making his way towards the station. Primrose's warming piece of regal headwear was currently set in with his few belongings, the heat being too much for the moment to wear it around in the middle of the day. Not having much to trade or barter, he'd have to take what he could get. The warmth-giving headwear and the scarf in his possession were about all he had worth anything, along with his weapon and the small potion he'd gotten from one of the X-Nauts. Such was how things would be, though even without the gear he'd push on. Giving up wasn't in his mentality, and his ego just hoped that the others wouldn't slow him down. The display from their fights yesterday made him feel like things would be fine however, at least in that regard.

Once he'd made his way to the station, Mao found himself cautious of unfamiliar faces and yet not exactly comfortable with the familiar ones, either. Big Band was far from difficult to make out, along with Tora's unique shape and Poppi remaining close by. Midna rolled in with that Samurai, and Primrose not far behind them. A few faces from yesterday were still missing, which said enough that they weren't quite ready to embark yet. The faster the better, in his opinion, but if they had to wait he'd sit around until the time arrived. He mostly kept to himself; Lurking in the outskirts of the group and leaning up against the nearest support he could find. A little broody, perhaps, but he just wasn't terribly eager to jump in-between everyone else, as he hadn't much to say.

That didn't mean he wasn't eager to take on Galeem's champion, of course. At this point, there were two eager fighters: Mao for his personal reasons at this point, and morbid curiosity: And Aurox, who for better or worse didn't want Mao dead specifically, but didn't mind leaving other corpses. Which Mao didn't care about, as long as it wasn't in a situation that bit him in the ass. But even now, he felt uneasy about the creature of stone. It was strong, but also a bit more of a wildcard that was attached to him (seemingly) permanently. Unsure if Galeem's destruction could even part them, but it was the closest thing to a mutual goal they could relate with.

So for the moment, cooperation seemed in the odds. Unless they started bickering once they began the climb, that is.
Museum Dungeoneering

Starring @Zoey Boey's Jesse, @Potemking's Mao
Wordcount: 6,271(+7)

Once outside, Jesse breathed in the open air, putting her hands in the pocket of her jacket. She cast her eyes over the rooftops of the buildings across the street, where she knew the Museum of Vanity was. It wasn’t a good idea to go in there without the Phantom Thieves support- at least not all the way. But Jesse was itching for some more action, and leaving that evil paint monster to terrorize people wasn’t sitting right.

(How do we eat an elephant?)

“Hey.” Jesse said, catching Mao’s attention. “You like fighting, right?”

"You could say that." Mao replied with a hint of curiosity in his tone, a shrug of his shoulders aiding to make his vermillion cape flow. "Why? The Resistance not enough trouble for one day?"

Jesse smirked. “You could say that.” She replied in kind. “There’s trouble at the Museum. Crazy guy made out of paintings. I don’t want to push into the center of the maze where he is, as it were, but I do want to go in there and start taking out some of the monsters he has protecting him. Just so when we all attack for real, there’s nothing to slow us down. I was gonna just do it alone, but if you’re interested…” Jesse rolled her right shoulder. “It’s an open invite.”

A slight grin on his face, Mao found this to be a profitable situation in multiple ways. Jesse, from his experience with her prior, seemed to not have the same wary nature as some of the others when it came to a fight. The way an already out Nastasia had been executed being a brilliant example. Plus, they were, as she said, 'monsters'. And what were monsters good for? Training, of course! And considering how this world worked? Potential servants, or even treasure.

"Clearing out forces to leave the big 'boss' open?" He mused, figuring he could take this 'crazy painting guy' without much issue, though the prospect of looting all of his servants instead sounded promising. "You've sold me," He said in agreement, nodding his head. "I won't pass up an opportunity to examine more Spirits."

“You got it. I’m also looking for materials to upgrade my Service Weapon, so it’s a win-win.” Jesse briefly apparated the shiny, stone-like pistol to demonstrate and admire it. “I’ve fought these things before. They look like weird security guards, and then explode into monsters when you get close. In short: target practice.” She waved the weapon away.

Although the explanation was odd, Mao could roll with it. "Even if they do transform, it won't make a difference. By the time I'm done, this 'guy' made of paintings will have to rebrand his museum as a morgue." Confident as ever, he was.

“All right, let’s roll.” She jerked her head over her shoulder and led the way. “I didn’t wanna distract anyone from their night of relaxation. But, y’know, you like fighting and I don’t really do idle very well.”

"Like I'd sleep with the idea that Validar might still try to throw me in prison tomorrow," Mao remarked, following without missing a beat. "Might as well get some training in, before they end up trying to backstab us tomorrow."

“Don’t trust him, huh?” Jesse shrugged. “I don’t think it’s in their best interests to betray us. If he follows through on this deal, we’ll be out of his hair faster.”

They navigated the evening streets to the Museum of Vanity. It was a large, garish building made of orange cubessurrounded by a gate.

Mao stared up at the building, it's eyesore appearance familiar in the less than golden vista that surrounded it. "I was wondering what this eyesore was," He commented as his upward-tilted head caused his hood to fall off. "Museum makes sense, this place just screams 'modern art'."

Jesse just shrugged. “Eh. Modern art gets a bad rap. But y’know, this guy isn’t exactly helping. Madarame, I think his name was. First things first, we gotta get past the guards. I only got in last time because I clocked a thief trying to steal some sculpture. During our escape there was, uh, a car crash. Preeetty sure I’m on their blacklist. So this time, we’re gonna have to be sneaky. Once we’re inside the museum though, we’ll be in some kind of distorted, ‘bigger-on-the-inside’ style pocket dimension gallery...thingy. Then, we’ll be as loud as we want.” Jesse reached inside her jacket holster and produced the Tool Gun.

“I love this thing. Dunno how I lived without it.” She guided Mao to a section of the gate away from the view of the guards. She hit the posts of the fence with a few quiet blue beams and peaked her head inside the wall. When the coast was clear she gestured for Mao to follow her and stepped inside the perimeter fence, phasing right through.

Which made Mao do a double-take, blinking and staring at what he assumed was a solid object moments before. Reaching a hand out and realizing he could also go through, he let out a mildly stunned "The hell?" before he slowly followed in her footsteps, considering the experience oddly surreal as for all the things he did know, or had experienced, having a tool that could let you walk through solid matter was not at all something he'd seen before. "That's the thing you used back at the elevator," He recalled, noting it also had shrinking and growing capabilities. "Just how many features does it have?"

Jesse’s eyes admired her second favorite pistol. “Five, actually.” She stuck out the relevant amount of fingers. “No-Collide, Inflate, Thruster, Balloon, and Weld. I think it can do more, but I haven’t been able to bond with the object enough to get them. Now come on, gotta be quick, before the guards see us.” She hit the fence with a similar beam, re-colliding it. She jogged into the Museum of Vanity. There were no guards on the inside, the guards perhaps too overly reliant on their big wall and gate.

“This way.” She lead Mao past a public area, through a door, and into a courtyard, where a colorful doorway topped with massive fake peacock feathers that glared at them with angry eyes. “Madarame is way into this place. But we’ll just poke holes in the outskirts, for now. To be honest, I think the two of us would be able to take him, but there’s literally no reason to risk it. So I won’t.” Pushing through the beaded door she led Mao inward to the distorted gallery, where the paintings on the wall made even less sense and the entire place took on a more sinister vibe.

Having thought the outside was an eyesore, the farther in they went seemed to only make things feel worse. Mao's eyes scanned the paintings on the walls, the whole area feeling disjointed from the courtyard they'd just been in. "Sounds good to me," As much as Mao would love cleaning up other people's work, tomorrow was already looking to be a busy day. So striking at Madarame's defenses and leaving him for later, whatever the beef really was with him, felt fine. "We'll just put plenty of fear into him. Anyone with a pompous place like this is just asking to be beat down and pillaged for resources, anyways!"

As if on schedule, they could see a few figures at the other end of the room. Security, much as Jesse described, but considering Mao's scrappy nature he wasn't anywhere near showing concern over such a thing. Even with the knowledge of them having transformations, it merely meant that things would be more interesting. "Speaking of resources!" He called out, easily getting the attention of the three initial figures that seemed to realize the entrance was opened by very unwelcome guests. Mao had to stare in almost childlike wonder as they violently reacted to their presence, their humanoid forms proving to indeed just be a farce as the dark mass within wildly shifted , the center one taking the form of a massive red Yoki wielding a large and dangerous-looking Odachi. While the two security guards to its sides seems to take form in the air, becoming a duo of devious and rude Blue Imps that flew above the floor on their kites, cackling at the duo as if they were nothing more than a punchline to their latest insult.

“Okay, here we go.” Jesse summoned her shifting Service Weapon into her hand. “I’ll try to keep the flying ones off you.” The blue imps began firing quick little blue energy projectiles out at the pair, which Jesse side-strafed while Mao recklessly went forward, his four extra limbs aiding in allowing for him to maneuver around the oncoming projectiles with twists and turns. They scattered across the ground, creating scratch marks. Her Service Weapon was in Grip form. As she strafed, she aimed her pistol with one hand. The first couple of shots missed, but she used them to hone in the flying blue target and struck its center of mass. The Blue Imp glared at Jesse, angry but its anger quickly faded as two more shots penetrated through his body, destroying its kite and sending it full of holes onto the museum floor, where it landed hard and poofed into dust.

The red Yoki, still supported by the remaining imp, charged forward with its sword and swung downward upon Mao’s head.

Mao dodged to it's left, drill and scalpel limbs colliding with the ground to allow him to roll out of the way, still having a free hand to ready his spear as the creature's two-handed blade slammed into the ground. Pushing himself back towards the large red demon, Mao's spear dug into the Yoki's arm, causing it to roar in a mixture of pain and anger, showering the area in a vile drool that disgustingly enough happened to land on Mao's cape. Not a pushover by any means, the Yoki raised it's pierced arm, showing strength as it took Mao along with it: Flailing the overlord into the air and conveniently enough providing cover for the remaining Imp, which promptly cackled at Mao's expense and took the opportunity to swoop and kick him in the head, before the Yoki slammed him into the floor. It lifted it's Odachi with one hand, a volatile war cry filling the museum as it decided to bring it's weapon down on a trapped target this time.

For a moment, Mao braced for impact. But one eye opened as a voice rang out, perhaps to the room as a whole, or just inside his head. Gravely to an extreme, and snarling like it was some sort of wild animal.


Two arms of mineral matter formed above Mao's shoulders, swinging forward and colliding it's claws against the Yoki's blade, shattering it. Not one to leave an opportunity alone, Mao revved his drill and dug it into the arm the large red creature was using to hold him down. It naturally recoiled rather than losing an entire arm, but to it's horror whatever was happening with Mao wasn't quite done with it yet. The arms of smooth and dark stone pushed Mao up to his feet, revealing extra mass that had conjured behind him, opening almost like a shell at it's torso as it drifted behind the overlord, eyes glaring below it’s large horns. "Who the hell are you?! I don't remember having any golems as servants!" Mao questioned aloud, though the creature seemed less than interested.

"LESS TALKING," It demanded, brushing the claws on its arms together. "MORE VIOLENCE." It launched forward, claws at the ready to slay the Yoki and leave it as nothing but shreds on the floor. It's broken blade merely bounced off the rock monster, leaving it open to having it's chest dug into by claws that seemed more dangerous than they might at first glance, with their stony appearance. With a roar that put the Yoki's to shame, it ripped the sword-wielding creature in half from it's chest cavity, reducing it to nothing more than ashes on the ground as the two uneven halves fell.

The Blue Imp, utterly terrified, attempted to flee to find reinforcements. Jesse put a bullet through its brain and it disintegrated. Invisible to Mao, she saw geometric shapes and little grey, almost felt-like shapes drop from its body and float into her gun. Raising an eyebrow, Jesse approached Mao and his new friend.

“That’s new, huh?” She indicated the rock arms. “Useful?”

"Useful? Maybe, but that doesn't explain what the hell it is," Mao responded, not even distracted enough by the spirits to keep from staring at the floating monster before him, that seemed to essentially sprout out of his body. "You've got a lot to explain, and fast, before I reduce you into a pile of pebbles!"


Crossing his arms, Mao seemed displeased with a realization that came to mind. "Wait. I recognize you... You were with that scrawny punk that tried to attack me underground!"

"I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT,," It responded, shifting behind Mao. "AND I DON’T CARE. THE CONCEPT OF BEING LINKED TO SOMEONE ELSE IS UTTER HELL IN ITSELF. " It informed, in a very plain and forward, yet extremely loud manner.

Realizing he brought this upon himself, Mao rested a hand on his temple and huffed out a sigh of frustration. "I think I’m starting to understand that, you bucket of stones! Listen, there's only one way I can think will ever possibly 'unstick' us, and that's by killing-"


Raising a brow at the creature, Mao shrugged. "Yeah, just don't kill that big-headed guy. Or the people actually trying to fight the real problem."

Jesse glanced between the odd couple. “...Well, anyway. No doubt we set off some alarms. We were a little quieter last time through, but only a little.” She heard approaching footsteps on the tile. Several more security guards entered the room, spotted them with their faceless heads, and exploded and shifted into more demons from folk-lore.

This group was a little bigger, a few patrols having banded together to take on the intruder force. Three steaming red Yoki, one with an axe, one with a spear, another with a large curved sword. Four more Blue Imps cackled into the room, floating like annoying kites. But one of the guards remained in his security uniform as he wheeled some kind of wooden cart behind him. Wheeling in, he set it down before shifting into a fifth Blue Imp that also took flight.

From said cart, a ghostly green feminie figure emerged, bringing with her verdant flames and long, unfurled scrolls that grasped at the air like cloying tendrils. The Fuguruma began to conjure forth sickly green fire.

She released the flames in a shrieking fireball in Jesse and Mao’s direction. Instinctively, the Director took a step forward and raised both her hands. The tiles of the Museum tore out of the ground and floated in front of her and Mao. The fireball scattered upon them and the invisible shield of Energy between them. Several more blue imp projectiles stuck into its psychic surface, but the Shield held firm. Jesse smiled. “We’re in business, Mao.”

The trio of Yoki were approaching quickly, weapons raised and muscles tensing with violent intent. The Blue Imps circled above, not wanting to approach just yet, continually laying down suppressive fire on the Shield of energy.

"EXCELLENT," Mao's tethered-rock friend reacted, liking the odds. "DON'T SLOW US DOWN THIS TIME!" Mao could inherently tell such insults were directed at him, and didn't take it lightly. Jesse's shield proved to be a great tool for pushing forward, Mao's left hand glowing with harmful intent as she brought the shield into one of the Yoki, a blunt approach of grinding tiles against the creature's flesh proving to be more effective than the spear attempt from before. "Just watch, you underestimate what you're dealing with!" He boasted, taking a leap into the air over Jesse's shield. Grabbing one of the Yoki's horns, driving his fist directly into it's face. A point-blank explosion left it's upper torso blown off, the overlord standing over the ashes, allowing the remains of the horn to sift between his fingers. "Pathetic!" He spat, though the rock-beast caught his attention soon after.

"DEFEND YOURSELF, FOOL!" The rock-creature demanded, before enclosing Mao into it's center. It's arms spread over his own and serving as a great piece of upper-body armor. The only area left exposed were the bottom of his legs, and his torso from the front. But the Yoki that swung his axe towards Mao from the side had no time to change targets, instead bouncing off of the rock armor along with the Blue Imp’s blasts that went towards Mao, seeing him as a more exposed target. The Yoki became a victim to the combination of fighters as they turned, Mao lacking hesitation in lashing out with the claws now in his possession, swatting the axe aside and jabbing into the Yoki’s chest. Twisting, it caused immense pain as Mao brought the second hand of claws across it’s head, it’s neck twisting and audibly snapping, but it seemed to be more hindered than murdered by this. Regardless, it gave Mao an easy edge to keep up his assault. "It IS useful," Mao remarked back to Jesse his head turning to see a few of the Blue Imps seemed to be soaring over her and past her shield, splitting their efforts by taking multiple angles, or perhaps to just keep away from Mao’s forward onslaught. He found himself trying to prevent the third Yoki's approach as he tried finishing off the second, insisting for Jesse to "Turn around!" at the Imps surely planning to fire upon her from behind.

“Yup.” Jesse had responded after nodding to him about the usefulness of his new arms. Flying enemies usually tried this trick, and Jesse always had a response for them. That is, if this worked again. Jesse leaned backwards, like she was going to wall, and willed herself back. Suddenly, she zoomed nearly twenty feet back, becoming a black blur with a trailing comet of concrete tile. When the dash ended, she was right underneath the circling Blue Imps, who were firing at the empty space where she just was.

They looked down in surprise at her just in time for two of them to receive a mouth full of high velocity ceramic and concrete, shredding them to pieces. Jesse had crossed the arms that held up her Shield and sent it outwards like grape shot. Now that she was in relative close quarters, her Service Weapon switched into Shatter. Hopping out of the way of retaliatory shots, one of which grazed her shoulder, she fired a shotgun blast into the Blue Imp that floated right above her. It exploded, and then dissolved. The Blue Imps realised their mistake and began to fly away, covering their retreat with more bullets. Jesse threw herself to the side and fired after them with Grip, the semi-auto shots cutting one out of the air. It fell to the ground next to Mao’s encounter, its kite ruined, and angrily continued its retreat. Only one Blue Imp managed to escape her counter attack, firing more blue shots at her that she had to avoid. While brutally reprised, their flank attack had done the job of preventing Jesse from assisting Mao, leaving him to deal with the remaining Yoki and the pyromantic ghost on his own.

The rock-claws left the skull of the weakened Yoki, but Mao found himself in a less than ideal 2v1 situation. As the third Yoki charged with it's spear, Mao prepared to defend, but instead found his extended rock-limbs wrapped by the scrolls of the Fuguruma. To his surprise, he was feeling a bit ragged. Like he'd been hit harder, and it was only getting worse. Unable to escape in time, Mao resorted to saving himself with the use of his servant. "Ara Mitama!" Mao called, the demon appearing to shield his torso from the attack. As the spear tried to force itself through, Mao quickly questioned the mineral-fiend. "Why the hell am I getting so tired? Is this your fault?!"


"I don't have time for you petty insults!" Mao growled, his mechanical limbs banging against the stone keeping them in place. "Get lost! You're slowing ME down now!" Such crude communication seemed to work well enough, the big shell of rocks dispersing, loosening the scrolls wrapped around Mao's limbs. Within moments, Mao's sharp extra limbs diced the scrolls to fight them back, and his actual limbs being free allowed him to maneuver away from the spear as Ara Mitama gave out on it's defensive capabilities, twisting his body to avoid the spear's thrust, the Yoki instead trying to grab with his second hand but was met with a revved drill that dug in, bringing immense pain to the creature before him as it recoiled with a large hole left burrowed into it's palm.

To Mao's surprise, the Yoki seemed to bring forth some sort of circle around him. Unknown to Mao, this was a circular pool of the Yokai Realm that allowed for the creature to regenerate it's stamina and stood as a domain where it’d have the upper advantage in combat. The overlord didn't want to step within the borders of it's circle, instead charging a spell in his fist in preparation to try and knock it outside the borders of it's newly displayed ability. As his fist went forward, a need for a ranged attack was answered: Rather than his usual explosion, a small beam fired forward, light piercing the borders of the Yoki's alternative realm and going straight through its chest. As stunned by this as the red creature before him, Mao momentarily froze but realized what the attack was. Smirking at the recovery of his signature Shine Beam, he began to make guiding gestures with his hand: The bright beam shifting directions in the air, skimming over paintings on the walls barely avoiding causing damage to them as the beam returned through the Yoki's back, before making a few lines across his left with the trail of the beam as it began to fade. The scrolls of the Fuguruma shifted between this small wall to progress forward, and the Yoki was trapped, finding it's wounds quickly getting worse as it tried to move away and the penetrated beam cut into it further.

The paintings on display became damaged as the beam began to bloat, expanding in size. This cut open larger holes as the Yoki struggled in place, and burned through the scrolls that were only narrowly slipping through his beams before. Mao took advantage of the Fuguruma being momentarily unable to bother him by making a demand of the monster within. "Get out here! Pull it from it's circle, we’re not fighting on it’s terms!" Once again it sprung to life, conjured on Mao's position.

"I'M NOT GOING IN THERE." It said in defiance, realizing the potential danger.

"Like hell you aren't! We kill it, or it kills us!" Mao responded with anger clear in his tone, but it just embedded its claws, seemingly to tell Mao he could handle it himself. Against his better judgement, he simply rushed forward: To the pain of his rockier self, however, he was also pulled along for the ride even if he declined due to their tether. In continued defiance he dispelled himself, leaving Mao on his own entering the pool of Yokai Realm, the area surrounding him and the Yoki dark and devoid of color as dark ripples flowed along the circular point on the ground. To Mao's surprise, this ability wasn't at all a hindrance: Rather, he was building stamina and regaining strength within it due to his own demon origins.

The Yoki wasn't expecting of such an outcome, but was also too enraged to truly care. Rather it came forward in a strong shoulder-charge, Mao's thin frame slipping past it as a reaction. As it tried to come to a halt, it felt a grip on it's horn: Mao had snatched onto it from behind, tugging and nearly causing the Yoki to struggle to turn. "Let's dissect your worthless body and see what I can find!' From there, he let his mechanical limbs do the talking: All four skewering and digging into the Yoki, tearing at it's torso and jamming drill tips and blades into its wounds, carving it open and obliterating it's insides in a brutal display that turned the Yoki’s innards into outtards before it all blew away into ashes, and the pool of Yokai Realm expired.

The Fuguruma, enraged at the damages caused by Mao's Shine Beam, had prepared and now sent a sprawling fireball in his direction. With a turn, Mao blocked the heat with the body of his rocky companion, but it seeped through the exposed portions of the rock armor and burned him nonetheless despite lowering the direct damage. "YOU’RE DOING BETTER THAN I EXPECTED." his armored-fiend remarked, causing Mao to wave a hand to brush off such a compliment. "We're going to get wrapped again if you don't piss off!" Mao growled, his second self dispersing at his command just in time for his mechanical limbs to spring out and fend off the scrolls again. Though, this time, Mao pressed forward. Twists and turns marked his progress towards the carted beast, the green demon seemingly having an infinite amount of scroll length in that small transport she had. It didn't stop Mao from shredding it during his approach while dodging conjured flames, though as he got closer he wasn't sure of his target for a moment. Unsure if he could even physically damage the spirit, he aimed for the cart instead: Fist charging for another blast as his limbs moved optimally to keep the restraining-scrolls off his person.

Rather than jump high, Mao went low. He lowered himself into a slide across the flooring, underneath the cart that held the demon. This caused a need to retract his mechanical limbs, causing scrolls to quickly fill the area underneath to try and pull him out, though Mao only needed those few crucial moments beneath the cart to cause a point-blank explosion that caused it to be reduced to a rain of splinters, boards, and paper. A shrill scream being all the demon could release before it disappeared, the scrolls that had been wrapping Mao beneath the cart now turning to nothing but ash that he could easily pull himself out of. Though growing more tired with the use of that conjured monster and decreasing magical reserves, Mao still pulled himself to his feet, breathing heavily from the experience as he brushed ash off his clothing.

“Boom goes the dynamite.” Jesse said from across the empty hall, voice echoing. She was lining up a shot when Mao took care of the entire thing himself. Approaching, she kicked her shoe at the dust of the demon. “Nice work. I wish Research was here so they could get a sample of this stuff. I mean, I don’t feel like I’m made of magic dust, but logic dictates that I am. At least in this world. Back where I’m from, I was made of meat. So I’m pretty curious about all this.” She stuffed her hands in her jacket pocket.

"Seems to simulate our real bodies just fine." Mao noted, being able to relate to the concept of being a chunk of meat that moved around. Though, Mao in particular didn't have that much meat on his bones either way, so it was up in the air.

“You good to keep going?” Jesse asked. As if to offend him, her clothing didn’t even seem scuffed, let alone her being short of breath. Any stamina she might have expended was brought back to her when she killed her enemies and replenished her own Health.

Absolutely offended she even asked, Mao nodded. "Of course! Fodder isn't going to stop me." A defense without much reason to raise one, as he rubbed some of the ashes between his fingers. Being a little singed was a common situation he could brush off like these ashes, though the drain from the creature he was hosting inside himself was notable. It far from meant he'd back down, however. It wouldn't be difficult to imagine he'd simply charge ahead even if he was too tired.

“Forgive my insolence.” Jesse said. She produced her Service Weapon. “Then let’s get to work.”

Jesse and Mao proceeded deeper within the Museum. Security guards, alerted to their presence and hiding in wait, attempted several ambushes. But the bulk of the remaining forces had been destroyed by the first large battle, and the first time the Phantom Thieves blew through here. Jesse also regaled an intrigued Mao of the tale of the battle with the invincible eldritch monster that got sucked through a magic painting.

About halfway through the borderline casual battles, Jesse told Mao to hold up a second. She extended the Service Weapon out in front of her, and let go. Instead of clattering to the ground, it floated in mid-air. She rotated it, and the pieces that made up the gun shifted. After a moment it zipped back into her hand, and several black rectangles detached from the gun and began to float around the barrel. Eager to test it out, she pointed at a wall and held down the trigger. The pieces span, and a torrent of machine gun fire ripped a line through the walls of the Museum. Spin was unlocked, finally. Jesse twirled the Service Weapon around her finger and blew on the barrel as if to put out the smoke.

“Nice, huh? Been looking forward to getting this one back.”

"So that's what you meant by upgrading." Mao was, to say the least, curious about the technology involved. Though considering that it was a gun situation, something he barely used in his own experience, he could leave it well enough alone for the moment. Clearly whatever materials she was searching for were provided by these mooks, though Mao himself didn't recall even seeing anything. Unless the damned thing was ash-powered, he was pretty clueless on what she was using. Not that it truly mattered, it just meant Jesse had more firepower, which he wasn't going to exactly be upset with.

Waving forward, Mao marched on. Although he argued, insulted, and became very petty with his newfound conjured rock monster, the creature which decided to identify itself by an internally familiar name of 'Aurox' wasn't as bad of an addition to him as he initially thought. Mao came into discovery that as he weakened from Aurox's use, he became hungry and a bit more moody. It also let him learn that they could drain energy sources, as Aurox was less than hesitant about reaching for any electrical source he could find to absorb power for their own use. All the while, it also provided an excellent chance for Jesse to unload her latest upgrade to her Service Weapon and wreck havoc onto panicking demons, mowed down by shatter blasts and machine gun fire all the same, with the occasional rip, tear, and dissect from the accompanying duo. It didn't take long for the fodder to realize who was mowing down who, their forces being reduced further to a point where if they pushed much farther, it was possible the big guns would have to come into play sooner rather than later.

Soon the pair passed through a few rooms that Jesse recognized as familiar. Then they entered a room of infinite size, like a pocket dimension. Paintings floated freely through open space, and illogical stone structures that marked their path forward looped in and around on themselves.

“End of the line.” Jesse said. “This is as far as we should go. We’ve cleared the way for our next visit, though. Madarame is…” She pointed up to the top of a very large, spiral-like art sculpture. “Up there. Last time we got up there by me attaching balloons and rockets to the cat thief that can turn into a van.”

"I AM IMMENSELY ANGERED I COULD NOT WITNESS A 'CAT-VAN' BE ROCKETED AT THE OWNER OF THIS HEADACHE-INDUCING DOMAIN." Aurox commented, for once with not much for snark, but instead genuine desire to see a rocket-propelled vehicle blow someone up. Or maybe he just wanted to see a cat explode? One could easily assume both.

"... Noted." Mao responded, the mental image seeming quite entertaining. "Maybe if we tag along next time we'll see it. But for now, we might as well get out of here." Not that it was hard to find the exit. Just follow the ashes and spirits on the ground, and they'd end up where they started eventually. Mao's eyes scanned the strange domain before them, but disregarded it figuring this 'Madarame' had to be a pushover to have minions that got snuffed out like they did. Fanciness didn't hide weakness well, though given Mao's own ego it was entirely possible he was highly underestimating such an opponent.

“Maybe you will. Either way, thanks for your help, Mao. And also you… arms guy.” Jesse said, turning and beginning to lead the trio out of the Museum. The halls were quiet now, with few scattered spirits and ruined walls. Jesse looked fondly on a huge chunk of missing concrete where her Shatter had blown through an enemy and clear out the other side.

“Nothing like a good battle aftermath to remind you of where you’ve been, huh?” Jesse commented.

"I'm sure there's a cleanup crew that'll sweep them off the floor." Mao cackled devilishly, as if in mockery of the Imps in particular, and the idea of the survivors having to try and dispose of the remains of their former comrades. Jesse smirked, nodding.

Soon they were back in the public section of the museum, and Jesse followed the same path she took to get out, once again phasing through the solid fence surrounding the entire building.

Rolling her shoulder, she turned and reflected on their handy work. “That was fun, huh?”

"Always good to knock a few heads." Mao replied in agreement, lightly scratching at his back. "Guess it's better that I came anyway. Could've found that rock-thing at a worse time." Although the idea of having a secondary and somewhat stand-offish person on his, well, person, was still a little odd. Though Aurox had proven his use, even if he was an immense jackass.

“Yeah…” Jesse trailed off, furrowing her brow. “So, that guy is just stuck to you now? Is he listening all the time?”

Mao crossed his arms, seeming to not like the answer he had to provide. "When I absorbed that Spirit back at Rocket Inc, this came as part of the package." Such was the life of a scientist. Experiments could have quite the results, sometimes. "Bailed on me once, inside. And just him lingering about feels like he's draining me dry." A tool that had uses, but clearly drawbacks as well. Mao would need more time to sit and think on this, before he could truly decide. Not like it was fixable, either way.

“Mm. Right. Well, I hope for your sake you still get some privacy. Hey shit, speaking of spirits, I forgot about this guy.” Concentrating, she brought forth the rotund form of Uncle Sven the alchemist. Hands at his sides, he stood there.

“...Hi, Sven.” Jesse waved awkwardly.

Sven squinted, and his allotted time ran out. He vanished. Jesse cleared her throat. “I wonder if he’d be up for an interview later.”

"Hope a written interview will suffice..." Mao noted from Sven's silence.

“I hope he wasn’t pissed about me totally forgetting about him.” Jesse pulled on the collar of her shirt. “...Welp. See you tomorrow morning, Mao.” She extended the knuckles of her clenched fist towards Mao for a fist bump. Which he returned after a moment, an amused smirk on his face.

To which his stomach promptly growled. "Guess I'll be getting another use out of this badge after all," Mao noted, hand lowering to his side. He offered a nod Jesse's way, noting she wasn't half-bad for a human. Plenty of them could learn from how she lived. "'Suppose I'll see you at the train station. Or the public Resistance denouncement, if things go south." He still didn't trust that whole ordeal, but at least he'd feel a bit more prepared for a fight now.

Turning on his heels, Mao marched off. To find food accessible at this time of night, for one. And then to find a place to pass out until morning.

Jesse watched him go, wondering if it would be awkward if she went the same way he was going after they basically said their goodbyes. Even though the Director was planning on going that way, she waited for a few moments and walked briefly in a different direction. Then, when he was out of sight, she went the same way he did to find a place to stay.
That's extremely concerning, hopefully they're okay.

I was really enjoying an RP they setup, too. Hopefully we'll see 'em back right as rain and everything can continue like they never left.
Reina's rotten mood didn't prevent her from letting the others speak their piece on the matter. She obviously wanted agreement, if anything just to make her own reaction justifiable, and while she found the wording some of the others used to be odd, the consensus generally seemed the same even though there was a lack of energy. You figured people got more pissed about things like this, but it caused Reina to take a moment of silent grumpy self-contemplation as she stood there. Only Akeno's request through the mixture of voices sparked her to nod, glaring at the pile of pebbles as the target of this interrogation.

Despite her bravado, she couldn't exactly lash out in a situation like this. Instead she listened to Gotsumon: Eyes fixated as there was nothing more important to her now than an explanation. The mentioning of a dream brought her back to thinking on her own experience: Her glare shifted down to Herissmon, then the statue of the weird little hedgehog. Slowly, pieces started coming back as her anger cooled somewhat. A dream? She could remember a dream. It was faint, but so weird that even though she disregarded it, it clung on in her subconscious. Gotsumon sparked that dream-- Now revealed as more, most certainly a discarded memory on her part, back into the forefront of her head.

Herissmon glanced back up at Reina, but found himself sweating nervously. "You, uh, look happier?" He commented on the smirk appearing on Reina's face, seeming to recall something important to herself. Gripping the couch with one hand, Reina took the approach of hopping over it and landing on the cushions rather than walking around it. Her landing bounced Herissmon upwards slightly, but he landed beside her just fine as she rested the statue between them, lounging her arms over the back of the couch.

"I don't remember agreeing to nothing, my heart doesn't do the thinking." She remarked, but the fact she'd sat down was probably the best sign she could give that Gotsumon had gotten her to relax a little. "But, uh," She added awkwardly. "Now I'm interested. So I guess I'll hear you out." Her words brought some relief to Herissmon, who sat to listen and see if he could pick up any more information of his own.

While Herismon shook in honest fear at the idea of Digimon being reduced to husks of their former selves, Reina kept quiet during Gotsumon's explanation. Still lounging lazily, one might assume she'd lied through her teeth and didn't actually care at all. But as cartoonish and weird as Gotsumon was, the emotion from him felt genuine to her. That fear. The somber feeling of mentioning the fate of his friends. While she was still grasping at the idea all of these creatures were real, that one aspect gripped her into this being reality in some form.

But, what was she to do? Reina was a toughie, sure. But this sounded a bit out of her league? Usually she only stepped in if an ass or two needed kicking, you know, practical problems with practical solutions? But this was a huge problem by the sound of it. She didn't bother shooting the others a gaze, their decisions didn't impact hers right now as she eyed the flame in thought. Going back home was a serious consideration for some, perhaps. It might've seemed like the only smart decision, actually. But the distress Gotsumon seemed to actually feel, and a gut feeling-- To put in a corny manner, perhaps a feeling from her heart, tethered her to his side.

"Alright already," She said as she popped off the couch, standing to her full height. Clenching a fist, it swung out and smacked into her other palm, The girl invigorated by the rock-creature's plight. "I could just leave, but then I'd have that sad pebbly face burned into my dreams every night." Unable to just be nice about it, but Reina expressed that she was in nonetheless.

Herissmon sprung from the couch as well, seeming ecstatic. "Hmhmhm! Just what could be expected from the partner of a hero like me!" He gloated, patting Reina on the leg as if a royal steed towards his goals of heroism and fame. He wouldn't comment on the fact that he was shaking a little from the idea of being reduced to a husk, but with her sudden outburst he couldn't just sit there and look weak. "Whatever's causing this mess doesn't stand a chance!"

"But wait," Reina had a sudden thought, crossing her arms and looking between Gotsumon and Herissmon. "If you guys are affected by whatever this is and we aren't, how is this spike-ball supposed to help? Is he going to keep making horrible statues until he scares the ocean away?" At that moment, both Reina and Herissmon's eyes went back towards the statue on the couch.

And within moments, Herissmon lashed out verbally. "I thought you LIKED it!"

"I do," Reina admitted, picking it up. "But like... As a weapon. I was just going to hit someone with it."

A hint of red could be seen on Herissmon's face, little clawed arms trying to cross with a ha-rumph of frustration. "Well a weapon crafted by me could surely strike down anything." He nodded confidently, all the while Reina was actually curious to test that theory, as the statue was fairly solid all things considered. Such banter at least helped to lighten the mood a little in the face of all the danger.

WORD COUNT: 1,269 (+3)
Feat. Kamek(+3)

"Eeeeh..." Brave? Him? Mirage considered himself a bit cowardly, but he did make it this far with all the craziness presented thus far, so that had to count for something. His moment of distrust in the comment fed into the obvious nature of it being a tale about himself, but after a moment he recalled he tried to not make it about himself in the first place and pushed a response. "I-I mean, yeah! The bravest! Guy's done a lot of stuff, plenty to say about him." Yes! Absolutely nailed it. The master of deceiving physically and vocally, that's what he was. Hundred percent!

Seeing Bella perk up a little, and help Sakura do the same, brought a smile to Mirage's face. He put his goggles back on, allowing them to enjoy their moment as he continued to keep an eye out. He'd felt like it went well, though momentarily went through a minor crisis of wondering if he was getting old if he'd ramble on like that. He brushed it aside, refusing to evaluate that as a possibility any further. Especially since he was stuck in his childhood body at the moment.

A good distraction came in the return of both groups, though not without bad news. Mirage, perhaps unfortunately, could count. And that counting told him one less person came back from the Lady's Chambers, which was not at all a good sign. It made him consider if he should've been more vocal about his disagreement with splitting like they did, though if it would have made a difference with how stubborn everyone tended to be, he couldn't tell whatsoever. In a way, it was similar to his own experiences. People taking risks, knowing there's a risk but not seeing another way forward. Except at least where he fought there was an even field, where this place was anything but. Simply taking prey because it could. His head dipped in momentary silence, not knowing enough about the departed to say much, but he wanted to acknowledge it nonetheless. There was a bit of fear stirring in him, wondering if there were anymore surprises waiting up ahead. With the Resentment's out of the way, however, it felt like a fairly clear shot to the one that needed to be put down for them to put this nightmare ship out of commission. Or at least get the hell out of it.

Head turning at Kamek's words, Mirage eyed the spirits up for grabs. Noting he hadn't much more than agility to rely on, he thought back on what he witnessed in the kitchen and realized there was potential to weaponize himself without becoming weirder-looking or ending up with weird side-effects. No offense to the idea of fusing with it, but Mirage liked having control of all of his wonderous facial features. "I'll bag one of those," He answered, approaching to pluck out the second Tempura Wizard. The other one gave him really bad vibes, and he didn't exactly wanna touch it. The Wizard, however, he was familiar with at least slightly.

Though, as he held it, he stood there in a momentary silence. A couple of blinks later, and he came to the realization that he had absolutely zero idea about what exactly he had to do with it. Link made it look super easy earlier, what was the big deal? Maybe there was a magic phrase, or something? Deciding to try and get some answers, he awkwardly looked back at Kamek. "We can get these things to fight for us, like that big butcher guy, right?" His eyes explained his utterly oblivious nature, practically adding on a second, concerned ... Right?

"Right you are" Kamek told him, before realizing why it was a question rather than a redundant statement and continuing "Ah, observation, not knowledge. here let me explain" before moving on to depart wisdom like a blind sage "Simply hold it as you are now and, mm, command it to serve you. or convince it. or simply ask and it will obey, for i have never seen he request refused"

He tapped his beak thoughtfully, then shrugged and said "A simple, innate desire to live again, no mater how briefly perhaps? It does not particularly matter right now, though perhaps I will ask once mine are restored. For now, all you need to do is will it to serve, and the minion shall obey, though, as with all things, I'm sure kindness and compensation both can go a long way."

Nodding, Mirage felt a little better but still not entirely sold on how exactly he should go about it. Figuring if it could help in any manner, then it must've been living in some form. So referring to it as a 'servant' and then enslaving it flatly like that felt a little cruel, though the truth of things regardless made it quite a situation for him. Taking a moment to think, his eyes widened with an idea that came to mind. He just had to be a little charismatic and charming, yeah? And who better for something like that than The Mirage? Probably a lot of people, if you asked anyone else. But his ego told him 'Nobody!'

Crouching down, Mirage stared at the spirit with a slightly nervous and shifty expression as it sat in his palms. "So, we were enemies, and that kinda sucked," He noted, trying to lay a positive spin on the matter. "But! We could work together. Think about it; I love seafood, you, uh, very clearly love seafood. And food in general! I can cook." One might question if he was trying to enlist the spirit of a monster for battle, or... Just tell it his redeeming qualities, like some sort of dating profile. "You know what else goes good with rice like that stuff that was in your bowl? Pork. I'm great with pork, got a signature porkchop recipe and everything. If you come with, I bet we'll cook up all sorts of things. A lot of mouths to feed with these guys." If it'd been fine just transforming litter off the ground and shoveling it into god knows who, then why not a few heroes? The idea of being able to make food anywhere and out of what he assumed was anything, sounded fantastic.

It also made him wonder just what he could make food out of. Could he turn the mannequins into food? The floor? The Dart Gun he kept close? He felt a power like that could have a lot of utility, but that all depended on his awkward attempt to recruit this food spirit. Which, resolved in his favor or not, he'd quickly march towards that stage with the others. If they thought that Mirror could do something, then he saw no reason for Sakura to not have it. If anything he simply appreciated Peach's approach on the matter, glad to see Sakura seemed to retain the perkiness Bella helped instill.

"Maybe it'll suck her in, then seal her away or something." Mirage mused, most logic going out the window in this place a long time ago, so some dumb fairytale logic might click. King Bowser seemed to be confident it'd work, and being the King, faith had to be put in him! Though, if it didn't, then they'd at least have a small army equipped with an equally small arsenal to try and take her out. Mirage, for one, had no intention of holding back. That Lady had taken two of their own, between that Runaway Kid and the recently lost Glenn. And she was about to regret it.


Regrouped, At Green Hill

Vector was quite a strong guy. He had his fair share of feats, thought he impressed his fair share of women over the years. There was a usual boldness to him that expressed extreme confidence, a higher than average intelligence, and wisdom beyond his years. Though, no amount of self-regard could allow him to keep his composure as Amy struck down a tree like one would snap a twig. His eyes were large, round, and nearly popping out of his skull at the sight of it. Mouth agape, he was momentarily struck speechless about the whole ordeal, raising a hand in order to force his mouth shut as commenting on such a thing didn't seem like the best idea.

No wonder Sonic books it when she's around, this dame is nuts! Was his initial internal thought, knowing the girl had strength behind her, but holy cow! If he already wasn't the Chaotix's trademark muscle, she'd be a great pick! Though, that made him start to think about the wages of having three people on payroll, which discouraged the idea and made him brush it away much like one would brush a small insect off their shoulder.

Having buzzed up next to Vector to check in on the chaos, Charmy seemed more amused than anything by it. "Wow! You get way too strong when you throw a tantrum, mmph?!" The end of Charmy's sentence became nothing but nonsensical mumbling as Vector snatched him up, one of his large hands silencing the bee for his own good. "Do ya got any decency in ya?! Learn some restraint!" He spoke in a harsh whisper, the two momentarily struggling for control over the situation as Espio popped out behind them, having rushed to see what the commotion was.

His expression shifted lightly, before he attempted to ask a question of his own: "Did some sort of beast come through here-- mmph!" Charmy, always taking inspiration from his boss, joined Vector in now shutting up Espio. Vector's large hand over Espio's mouth followed by Charmy's two smaller hands on top of it. The two whispering, a bit too loudly, for Espio to "Shut It!"

Trio regaining their composure after what Vector would dismiss as a 'company meeting' where they compared the facts they currently had, which all ended up being exactly the same, it just left Vector confident since they were all on the same page. "Well, it ain't much of a chase now, but at least it'll be a job well done, boys!" He spoke merrily, though Charmy was quick to shoot him down, if not to just mess with him. "If he hasn't bolted by now, are you sure he didn't drop whatever do-hickey you guys are working on? He could be miles away." Charmy questioned towards Tails with a bit of skepticism.

Vector, not having time for such nonsense, gave Mina a small nod of appreciation. "Your help was appreciated ma'am, but I'll have my boys take it from here." He assured, Espio realizing soon what this meant with the Sling Ring in his hand. "Charmy left me to run all the way here, and you want me to pull your weight now?" Obviously not amused, Espio tapped his foot with his arms crossed. "Ya know it's weightless with these babies, we got a job to see finished! Consider it working off your meal!" Vector responded dismissively.

"Yeah, 'cause you definitely don't need to work off your gut, chief!" Charmy remarked, quickly joining Tails in the sky as to avoid Vector, who was instantly fuming from such a comment. "I have an EXCELLENT physique!" He defended himself vigorously, before Espio tapped him to get his attention, causing Vector's glare to turn away from Charmy to Espio instead. "Tell 'em, Espio!"

"I'll tell you," Espio replied quietly, gesturing towards the others who were already on their way. "We're being left behind."

Panicked, Vector did a double-take behind him, before dragging Espio along by his Sling Ring momentarily, until he manage to regain his footing and run after the others. Noted by Vector to maybe stay out of Amy's way, lest a tree end up on their heads.
Ah shit, I forgot to post here, my bad!

I'll get one up tonight, promise!

WORD COUNT: 844 (+2)

Mirage's expression folded into a sadder one, to be sure.

He partially thought he knew what this had to be about, but Sakura's self-worth wasn't exactly in that assumption. He had still seen her as the girl who was fighting just as hard as anyone else back aboard Shippy. She had a good mind, too, making safe traversal through that crazy first area, too. But, be it with what happened back with Moreau, or the situation with the chefs, she was definitely down about herself. And that, of all things, was definitely not an easy fix by any means.

He was pretty sure he'd be unable to help much, honestly. But did that mean heeding her words and going off to check on the others? He wasn't quite sure, as splitting up more than they had sounded pretty dangerous to him. There was no telling what tricks this place had left, and he didn't want to risk that. "No-can do." He responded, simply keeping his seat. "King Bowser and them ought to be back soon from the storeroom. Once they pass back through, we'll group up and go together. Don't wanna split up more." He informed, though it was just his words. It didn't regard what Peach, or Bella, might do. But his intent to budge was zero.

Though, sitting around quietly wasn't exactly a strong trait he had. He tried to leave things alone, but after a moment he piped up again. "You know, I knew a guy. Name was, uh-- Elliot. He thought he was pretty useless when he was a kid, too." Utterly different circumstances, sure, but that wasn't about to stop him once he started yapping. "He was in a fair-sized family. Ma, and three brothers. Father was out of the picture, I guess." He began to explain, eyes drifting upwards to stare at the darkness above. "He was the youngest-- By a fair amount. To the point his three brothers were sent to war and he had to stay behind, despite wanting to go with them. They exchanged a message, here or there. But eventually they stopped comin'. Year after year, even after the war, they tried to find out why. He and his Ma never got an explanation for what happened to those three, and he grew up blaming himself for not going alongside them."

"Thought he'd failed his family entirely. Mother was distraught, but always drowned in work-- She was a remarkable engineer. But kind of, uh... Forgetful." His expression sunk further than it had when Sakura had first moved. "Some medical stuff, that started cropping up in those between years. He started investing himself into the same line of work as her: Learned to tinker, and became her assistant during his teen years. They formed this huge, unbreakable bond during that time-- Practically glued together all the time. But once her condition started worsening, he couldn't handle the work himself, and both fell into a really bad spot, which he blamed himself for again. Started working in a bar his uncle owned, trying to make the money to support her care. Wasn't enough, obviously, so he started looking into other options."

Taking a moment, he continued with a small smile curving to his face. "That's when he heard it, from a passing Tin Can." He spoke fondly. "A competitive bloodsport-- Very dangerous stuff, but the payout and fame was huge. He was always spending time in the shadows, but wanted to be hugely acknowledged. And knew the money could pay for his Ma's bills, too. So partaking in the qualifiers seemed like the only way at that point."

For a slight dramatic affect, he added: "But he needed gear."

"He tried working on it himself, with the engineering skill he had. But it wasn't enough to get everything operating properly," He explained with a slight chuckle, as if additional mishaps may have came to mind. "But, his Ma took notice. And despite her worsening condition, she'd prepared a surprise: A personal replica of the military-technology she had worked on. Stuff was insanely cool, let me tell you--" Realizing he was getting off track, or perhaps the entire story was off track, he got to the point that mattered. "-- But, uh. That wasn't what hit him the hardest! It was what she said afterwards that struck things home."

Recalling the words seemingly from heart, he raised one hand slightly. "As long as someone believes in you, Elliot, you're capable of anything." His hand lowered, pulling off his goggles to fiddle with them. Momentarily he glanced at the inside, remembering when people used to make fun of his initials, though he took pride in the E.W marked there. Nothing he could've been prouder of.

Showing at least a little self-awareness, unsure if Sakura was even listening to him ramble or had slipped away, he laid his goggles on his chest and sighed. "Anyways-- Moral of the story? No matter the situation, y'know, even if you doubt yourself, you've got folks that're both looking after ya and maybe depending on you sometimes, too." Feeling satisfied, if a little awkward because he talked so much, he decided to finally shut himself up.

"So, once we regroup, we'll charge on together and finish it as a team. Everyone can contribute. But for now, I s'pose we'll just wait."

"Alright, outta the way! Mooks stay in the back of the crowd!"

Herissmon, having regained his composure after the initial shock of human exposure, was now practically shoving himself through multiple Penguinmon to try and get to the human that stood higher than them all. His spikes brushed against their backs, causing a slightly annoyed but harmless scatter as he proved his obnoxious nature once again by managing to get to the front. It allowed him to get a better look at this 'human'. Pretty tall! Didn't look terribly strong, but compared to him, who did? With arms crossed over the hair on his chest, he looked up at his supposed partner with confidence. "I see you brought my regal statue!" He commented with a smirk, knowing anyone 'fated' to be partners with him would have great taste.

Reina, still absolutely taken aback by the situation, stared down at Herissmon silently. Her eyes somewhat more visible from his angle down below, what he saw could cause just about anyone's blood to run cold. A lot of people had different resting faces, but Reina's in particular was a resting death glare. Half the reason she hid them behind her hair was because she scared the hell out of customers, and to a further extent, just unnerved folks.

For a moment, Reina looked at the statue, and Herissmon backed up slightly, a drop of sweat visibly going down his face. Watching her gaze go between the statue and him left an edge to the situation, but she was in reality just having a doubletake between the weapon she'd grabbed and the creature in front of her. "Huh," She reacted to the comparison, holding the statue in both hands for a moment now that she'd taken into account it wasn't just something to bash someone with. "I do kinda see the resemblance."

Calming a little, Herissmon laughed away his nervousness and nodded. "Riiight? It's the splitting image of me!"

"Yeah, the splitting resemblance of--" One hand left the statue, as both of her arms fell to their sides, not sensing any danger at the moment. "--Whatever the hell you are. How about explaining that?"

"Right!" A wide-eyed look of shock came over Herissmon's features. "You don't got a clue what's goin' on!" Shifting his posture slightly to look more heroic, he decided to explain what he definitely remembered and hadn't at all ignored from before. "Let's see... Eh, well, a pretty important Digimon brought me and you here to be partners! Because--?" Herissmon fell quiet for a moment, not being certain on that detail. Had they mentioned that? Drat...

"Digimon?" Reina repeated, head slightly tilting. It sounded like something weird she'd see commercials for on T.V.

"Digimon are-- Well, me, Herissmon. And them," Herissmon gestured to the Penguinmon, who were now keeping a fair distance from Reina in particular. "And those are Digimon with the other humans!" A claw brought Reina's eyes over to the humans exiting the other huts, bringing a realization she wasn't alone here. Unfamiliar faces, the lot of them, but at least that meant she wasn't alone? Nobody seemed to be particularly getting violent, so maybe keeping calm was indeed the right move to make.

Not really having her question answered, she took what she could get at least. "So you're a bunch of creatures that look like you jumped straight out of a cartoon and tack 'mon' at the end of your names? Okay."

"What's a 'cartoon'?" Herissmon questioned, uncertain if he should be insulted or not.

Reina simply shook her head. "I'm the one that got kidnapped here, you're answering my questions." This logic absolutely conflicted with what little common sense lingered in Herissmon's skull, but was delivered in such a way he wasn't sure if he should exactly question it. Instead, he lingered silently on the idea of kidnapping for a moment before trying to back out of the conversation. "O-Oh yeah, well, I'm not the guy with all the answers, for that you'd want--"

The shout from behind Herissmon startled his quills straight upwards, and even Reina flinched, taking a step back as the weird penguins started backing away further. At the request to approach the fire, Herissmon looked up to Reina with a nod. "There's the guy now. He'll fill ya in on whatever you need to know! C'mon, uh, whatever-your-name is!"


"Renamon?!" Herissmon interrupted, seeming shocked. "I've seen one of them before, you look nothing like that ACK!" He was interrupted as Reina jabbed his nose with her finger, the boop completely throwing him off for a moment as she corrected him: "Reina. No 'mon': Just. Reina."

Herissmon turned to face away from her, seeming to not enjoy having his defenses breached. "Huh. We were told humans would have weird names, so I guess it checks out." He nodded to himself as confirmation, stepping towards the fire. Reina, no less confused, followed after him not having much else for a plan. If one of these weird cartoonish things brought her here, then when was she getting sent back? It felt unreal, but at the same time the warmth of the fire as she got closer felt the complete opposite, even with the wacky setup around it.

Refusing to sit, she instead leaned over the back of a couch: Bent forwards and resting her head atop her arms, not exactly welcoming company. However, as Herissmon looked between her and the couch, she shrugged and watched him climb up to sit below her. Having recognized most of the creatures so far as seemingly harmless, she instead took aggression to the mysterious voice that kept beckoning them, as the bombastic mysterious entrance B.S was starting to grate what patience she had. "Hard to honor someoen you freakin' kidnapped," She spat in irritation. "Stop with the theatric crap and show yourself!"

"H-Hey!" Herissmon glared up at her. "Don't ruin a good entrance! That's one of the most important parts!"

Reina looked down in momentary annoyance, but was more alarmed by the moving stones around the fire. Palms pressing against the back of the couch, she stood a bit taller and eyed the strange sight until Gotsumon was fully formed. And the introduction provided was quite possibly worse than Herissmon's, the idea of introducing yourself as a 'tour guide' to who she assumed was a kidnapped group of individuals AND saying they were about to partake on some sort of journey? What the actual hell was that about?

"Yeah, plenty of questions." Endless, possibly, Reina figured she could ask the bundle of pebbles an infinite amount of questions at this point. But the first thing that crossed her mind was; "Like what kind of 'journey' are you expecting a kidnapped person to go on? Not exactly feeling very honored by that." It was, perhaps, a mistake to allow Reina to open her mouth. She had a bad tendency of leaving bad first impressions, though in this instance she felt pretty in-the-right about being rude about it given the circumstances.

Herissmon, both conflicted by Reina's outburst and a little uncomfortable with the idea of this being against their will, looked towards Gotsumon with both curiosity and an expression of concern that marked Reina's words as more than a little discouraging or worrisome. It was clear that he also needed the full picture to understand things better, at least simply sitting to hear out the more knowledgeable Digimon instead of having an outburst of his own. Perhaps in a way, it was a good sign. Herissmon's willingness to consider her words legitimate showed perhaps a little blind faith, but faith nonetheless and a lack of bias towards his own kind. And Reina's own aggression and lack of fear, even in such a foreign environment, showed bravery, if admittedly a lack of restraint or censor. Who wouldn't be mad or terribly confused upon being scooped into a whole new situation, after all?

It was perhaps not the exact first reaction desired, but beating around the bush wasn't Reina's style whatsoever.
Remember: Apricoatl may look cute, but it's all fun and games until she pulls something like this off.

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